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Maria-sama ga Miteru Novel 22, Bara no Mille-Feuille, Pt. 4, Final

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  • atheniag
    Chapter 4 Yumi felt a bit refreshed after she screamed through the roller coaster, and returned to find Sachiko-sama and Yuuki happily talking to each other.
    Message 1 of 2 , Aug 12, 2009
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      Chapter 4


      Yumi felt a bit refreshed after she screamed through the roller coaster, and returned to find Sachiko-sama and Yuuki happily talking to each other. They were a boy-girl pair, but looked nothing like two lovers, and instead looked precisely like a princess and her retainer. The image was a bit demeaning, so she wouldn't mention it to Yuuki.

      (TL SUKOSHI: In Japanese, the word "kawaisou" is used when describing the image, which is a sort of marginality or demeaning attribute due to "cuteness", or "softness". Editor Erica: I like to think of it as a "poor you" kind of feeling.)

      After they finished the roller coaster event, it seemed as if the "no connection" and the "on purpose" groups had made up, and somehow the four decided to have lunch together. Most of the restaurants in the park had already passed peak hours for an hour-and-a-half, and two tables which looked as if they could seat two were empty. Even though it was called a restaurant, it was actually like a fast food store, where you had to order and pay at the counter, you would then take the things they placed on your tray, and sit and eat. Because Sachiko-sama already had experienced fast food last time, this time there was no doubt that she could order correctly.

      (TL SUKOSHI: Because Sachiko's family is so wealthy, it chooses to dine at home through hired chefs or at restaurants all the time. Sachiko herself rarely goes to fast food places. On Yumi and Sachiko's first date, Yumi takes Sachiko to a fast food place and coaches her on how to order. Sachiko, though, forgets that you have to take the food yourself by tray to the table, and that you don't eat food like burgers with fork/knife. Editor Erica: From "First Date Triangle.")

      "Curry"

      The actual ordering was done individually. So there was no conversation, everyone ordered, and managed their own finances, but because of this, mysteriously everyone's tray contained three different colors of curry. It was like a school lunch. For that matter though, there were several other things on the restaurant's menu.

      "Well, it seems our tastes match."

      "Huuh."

      It's not like this had been her first choice in eating but, she had not wanted to eat something that had been alive, and when she decided to change the eating location, she had scrapped the other places altogether. But if Sachiko-sama said that she enjoyed the place, then she would too. But the two men sitting next to them were making it ... hard ... to enjoy the place.

      But everything turned out fine in the end. The curry was spicy enough, and she was the only person who ate her plate of curry. And because everyone's breath had become so bad, those who cared most about bad breath (particularly Sachiko-sama) became particularly lenient about it. After all, noticing that on a date would just wouldn't be fun.

      "It seems like Yumi looked like she was having a lot of fun."

      Sachiko-sama brought up the topic of the roller coaster.

      "Huh? Really, could you really see what was happening from the ground?"

      "It's not that. I could hear your shrill screams. There could be no way that I would mistake Yumi's screams."

      Which meant that she had been keeping a sharp eye on them the whole time?

      "Onee-sama."

      Yes. Even though they had been apart, the two of them could stay this close together. Yumi and her feeling of being on cloud nine was deflated, and she was put back on Earth by Yuuki.

      "Your voice really rang out. I heard it."

      "Changing the subject, Suguru-san, you conducted yourself very adult-like. Were you, maybe, scared?"

      Both of the roller coaster group shrugged their shoulders dejectedly for their own particular reasons.

      Even though they had eaten together with the team of two boys, the lunch had had its advantages. The naan (Editor Erica: "Naan" is a type of Indian bread often served with curry) that Sachiko-sama and Yumi had not eaten was eaten by Kashiwagi-san and Yuuki-san. And while the girls ate a lot, the ravenous boys found no end to their appetite. She had seen the amount of resistance that Kashiwagi-san gave to Sachiko-sama when she gave him her leftovers, and it really was one at all. What really happened was the two girls took their remaining naan, and put it onto a single plate in between the two boys, so in fact there was a high chance that some of Yumi's leftovers had found themselves into Kashiwagi-san's mouth. While there was a definite feeling of satisfaction coming from Kashiwagi-san, she would have felt much better had Yuuki eaten her naan.

      After lunch, they took a walk with their stuffed bellies. Even though they had taken a lunch break, Sachiko-sama's tension had not subsided. Instead, it could have been said that Sachiko-sama's tension was shining or gleaming.

      "Hey, is that a character stuffed animal over there?"

      And.

      "Look, they're selling churros."

      And.

      "A bridge, a bridge."

      It was as if the moment she entered the amusement park, a certain switch had been pushed, and like an excited kindergartener, it kept being flipped on and on. It was Yumi who had originally wanted to come to the amusement park. It was as if Sachiko-sama had received a special privilege. She pointed and frolicked endlessly with one hand, while the other had no choice but to become a brake.

      A person who was always so composed (excusing her hysteria moments) to be in such a high-tension state made Yumi wonder if Sachiko-sama was all right. When Yumi turned back, she saw Sachiko-sama's cousin about 15 meters behind, who had decided to become Sachiko-sama's guard, but perhaps because some misunderstanding had taken place the guy was waving his hand around and was oblivious of the situation.

      "Hey look, lots of people there. What is it, let's go see."

      "Ah, well, slow down a little ... aah, she's not listening to me at all!"

      Sachiko-sama somehow lurched to the side. Had her mother always had to act like this when Yumi had been in kindergarten?

      Yumi had never seen Onee-sama like this, she reflected. It was almost as if she had eaten something bad. But everyone had eaten the same thing for lunch. Ah, but her tension had been high for morning, so if there had been a problem, it would have been with her breakfast. No, she didn't think that there would be anything weird in Ogasawara household's breakfast. She thought such things until they finally reached the place where everyone had gathered.

      It was a place on the road that went through the park that was comparatively larger than other streets in the park, and felt like it could have been called the main street. But just as when a parade goes on, the people had split in two groups on opposite sides of the street, and had not really gathered together. Instead they had formed a sort of sugar crystal shaped group, and in the midst of this group there was someone inside that she didn't know.

      "It's a street performance!"

      When she looked inside into the laugher and stared, she saw two small bear cub characters in the middle of a juggling act.

      "Wow, wow, wow!"

      Even Yumi who had not been at the top of spirits before, found herself unexpectedly excited. Sachiko-sama's guard had taken a step back a while ago and was observing the pitiable Sachiko-sama.

      Just realizing that it was humans who had performed this feet made her think "Incredible!" By wearing the character suit, they increased their joyfulness and cuteness by ten or maybe one hundred times.

      After they had three boxes being juggled at once, while they were trying to keep the same box in the center, one of the bear cubs dropped a box, and whether that was an actual mistake or it was scripted, no-one knew. And because the act of picking up the box was so funny, she didn't really care which it was.

      "Hey, Onee-sama, that trick he just did there..."

      As she kept looking, the crowds around the bear grew, and she gave her hand out to Sachiko-sama who was supposed to be next to her, but for some reason her hand felt nothingness.

      "Onee...."

      When she finally looked at where Onee-sama was supposed to have been, for some reason Onee-sama was squatting.

      "O, Onee-sama?!"

      When she saw the way her hair waved around and the white color of her cheeks, once glance was enough to show that she was sick.

      "Onee-sama, what happened?"

      Eventually, she touched Sachiko's hand, and from Sachiko another hand blocked Yumi's.

      "Shh, Yumi-chan. It'll be fine."

      "...Kashiwagi-san."

      "We'll become an eyesore for everyone, so try not to make any noise and get out of the crowd through there."

      Of course, some people around her had already noticed and a slow set of whispers began of "Is she alright?" so an empty space formed around Sachiko-sama. But the bear cubs were still juggling with the utmost ferocity.

      "Can you stand?"

      Kashiwagi-san asked Sachiko-sama.

      "But."

      She was feeling so bad that she had been squatting, and now being asked to stand. So when Yumi thought of that, she immediately let out a "but" from her mouth. Kashiwagi-san answered her words before she could speak, guessing her question.

      "It's better this way, even for Sacchan."

      Sachiko-sama's head bobbed slightly up and down.

      "I'm going to touch you a little bit, so please forgive me."

      Kashiwagi-san kept his silence not toward Sachiko-sama, but toward Yumi, and lifted Sachiko-sama by her shoulders and took her outside of the circle.

      "Yumi."

      Yuuki hurried them outside of the circle. Without so much as a "Sorry" or a "Thank you very much" to the people who had kept the path clear, Yumi kept her head down and seemed as if she would cry.

      What the heck was I doing? She had felt good about being someone like Sachiko-sama's mother.

      If I were her mother, then I wouldn't have gotten caught up in the bears' juggling act, and would've noticed if my child had stopped speaking.

      If I were her mother, I would've been able to keep calm and would have not reacted so loudly.

      If I were her mother, the last thing I would do now is cry.

      If I were her mother. If I were her ,other --. She kept going from one regret to the next self-hatred, and lobbed them into her heart.

      "Hey, Yumi. Stop spacing out, and pay attention while walking."

      Yuuki warned her. If she fell and got hurt now, she would be nothing other than an idiot.

      He was right. She could always think back on what had happened later, an innumerable amount of times if necessary. To fall silent in the shock of seeing a person sick, and even becoming an eyesore. Why was I that type of person? Yumi actually cried. And her tears made her even more depressed.

      "Here."

      Kashiwagi-san gestured with his hand. They were at the bench closest to the earlier crowds, and Sachiko-sama sat down.

      "Yumi-chan, don't cry. Sacchan is anemic, or maybe she just doesn't like crowds. But basically, it happens in a split second. Hey, it'll be fine!"

      "I'm sorry, Yumi."

      Sachiko-sama rose her head and smiled weakly, but the color in her face looked just as healthy as it had been before.

      "It's okay. Are you feeling better?"

      Yumi answered, as she squatted diagonally away from the bench, and continuously wiped her tears away. She had heard Kashiwagi-san say "It'll be fine", but until she heard it from her Onee-sama's mouth, she wouldn't be at ease.

      "Yeah. I'm sorry for making you worry, Yumi."

      "Thank god!"

      She really looked okay.

      "It really was what Suguru-san had said. While I was watching the juggling, I suddenly stood up, and then I just started squatting."

      "Even when she was younger, Sacchan would feel bad right before she would go out."

      Sachiko-sama nodded to Kashiwagi-san's words.

      "That's right. I've grown up, but it still hasn't gone away has it. I'm so depressed."


      So when Yumi heard that it was something that happened to Sachiko-sama a lot, when she heard that, she said, "I see". When she understood that it wasn't a frightening condition, her unease began to slowly lift.

      "This was my plan."

      Kashiwagi-san said.

      "So? Do you want to just wrap up for today, and do this some other day?"

      "No I think we've done quite enough."

      So please don't worry about me, is what Sachiko-sama had meant. But Kashiwagi-san refused.

      "No, not for me. For all three of us. If we tried to have more fun after this, then we wouldn't be able to enjoy ourselves because of our worry for you. The amusement park won't run away. We can come again."

      Sachiko-sama sat silently. He had even said "No, not for me." There was no way to add any "but"s after that.

      "And you two?"

      Kashiwagi-san sought the opinion of the two, and Yumi and Yuuki nodded.

      When Kashiwagi-san had asked earlier (TL SUKOSHI: asked Sachiko-sama earlier in this conversation, I suppose) and even though it was Kashiwagi-san who had made the plan, and even though she would have to become an ally of Kashiwagi-san, and even though all of her sensibilities rebelled from this, Yumi still agreed with his "just wrap up for today" idea.

      Because Onee-sama's body was the most important thing here; she didn't want to wish for impossible things. Aah, why hadn't she said "Let's go back" faster, Yumi regretted.

      "Three-against-one. It's decided then." As Yumi walked slowly to protect Sachiko-sama's hand, Yumi was attacked by a feeling of defeat.

      Kashiwagi-san lifted Sachiko-sama's shoulder bag, and pulled it off her shoulder.

      "Ah, I can."

      He once again went to the front, and suddenly pushed it out.

      "Yumi-chan, here."

      Kashiwagi-san had dropped Sachiko-sama's hand to Yumi.

      "Don't drop it, and hold on to it tight."

      (He really was a snob! Snob, snob, snob!)

      Onee-sama's hand was just a little cold.

      Of course, Sachiko-sama wasn't holding onto Kashiwagi-san's hand but her hand. But that would mean she were equal, and not thought of by Sachiko-sama as having earned the title of the best.

      Plus if Kashiwagi-san was the type of person who wanted to hold onto Sachiko-sama, then from the start he could have.
      Were he a worse type of person, then.

      The four of them backtracked from the main street on this high-tension morning, and walked toward the exit. Sachiko-sama once looked back longingly, but Yumi did not. She didn't want to feel as if she had any lingering excitement for the park.

      "Wait here. My parking space is a bit far, so I'll go by myself to the car and bring it here."

      Kashiwagi-san said, and went off alone.

      (Ahh, I see.)

      The answer to "Why had Kashiwagi-san come here?" had come. And even what he had meant by "guard". And when he had said that he hoped he would not come to use.

      He had a hunch that Sachiko-sama might falter. Then she would have to come home by train, while sick, which would feel lousy, so Kashiwagi-san had prepared the car.

      Within ten minutes, the highly memorable loud red car appeared in front of the three. Yumi opened the rear seats, and ushered Sachiko-sama in.

      "Sempai."

      Yuuki asked Kashiwagi-san who had sat in the driver's seat.

      "You two, hop in."

      Right, Yumi? Yuuki confirmed. The truth was that she had wanted to be next to her Onee-sama for the whole trip, but Yumi nodded.

      "Why aren't you two coming?"

      "It's not that we don't want to come. If you can get Sachiko-sama back home just an instant faster, then great. If we came along, then even if you dropped us off at a train station, then you'd lose some time."

      At times, Yumi was surprised at how thoroughly Yuuki thought things through.

      "Right now, Sachiko-san's health is the most important thing."

      Kashiwagi-san made a contemplating-sort of face, but eventually replied seriously.

      "Understood. Then, you two come along to the Ogasawara-house for a short time."

      "Huh?"

      "Right now, Sacchan wants to be next to Yumi."

      If you did think hard about Sacchan, then yes definitely. With this, the Fukuzawa siblings got up into the gaudy car. Looking at Yumi who was sitting in the next seat, Sachiko-sama narrowed her eyes and said "Thank you".

      The crimson car immediately set off from the amusement park's parking lot.



      A Mille-Feuilleu of Sighs


      Sachiko-sama slept underneath a blanket that covered her from her neck below.

      Around the time they entered the normal roads, Sachiko-sama had rested her head on Yumi's shoulders, held Yumi's hand in hers, and said "Stay here", and then began breathing as if asleep.

      "You know, Sacchan is bad with large crowds. Well, I think you didn't know that."

      While gripping the handle, Kashiwagi-san spoke, turning whether to Yuuki in the passenger seat or Yumi in the rear seat she didn't know. Kashiwagi-san's driving was gentle; trying might be doing.

      "She doesn't seem like that, does she? Well, she is bad with crowds, so she can't get over it, but it seems ... how would you say it ... a bit deceiving."

      "Kashiwagi-san."

      Yumi began to speak.

      "If you knew this would happen to her beforehand, why didn't you stop her?"

      He knew Sachiko-sama so well. Yet watching from behind until she hurt herself; she just couldn't understand Kashiwagi-san's actions.

      "It's because Sacchan seemed infallibly happy."

      As the sun began moving toward the West, Kashiwagi-san took his left hand off the steering wheel, and lowered his rear-view mirror.

      "She seemed happy. Really. Before she left, and even after she reached here. I've never seen Sacchan smile so much. Asking her if she'd be alright or reminding her that she'd become sick would be a bit low, wouldn't it?"

      "But."

      "Knowing beforehand doesn't always mean you can do something like that. She had made plans on her own, and completely excluded me, there was no other choice."

      "... I still don't see why."

      "Sacchan wants to do a lot of things with you, Yumi-chan. I just felt a bit cruel by trying to stop her."

      After that, no one really talked. While Yumi held onto Sachiko-sama's blanket on her shoulder, she looked out the window at the rolling scenery."

      She had wanted to do so many things, and so she had thought things that she could do, but she couldn't actually do any of them.

      Sometimes, the answers are right in front of your eyes, but you just can't grasp them.

      Kashiwagi-san's words would occasionally resonate with her. She needed to pay full attention to this problem. But no matter, Yumi just couldn't understand it.

      Eventually, Yuuki who had been sitting in the passenger seat, began making meaningless conversation with Kashiwagi-san. She heard familiar names like "Alice" or "Nikkou and Gakkou", but she felt deflated.

      Until they reached home, Sachiko-sama never let go of Yumi's hand.


      Chapter 2

      The car entered through the Ogasawara-gates, but before it stopped at the parking lot, Sayako Oba-sama (TL SUKOSHI: Oba-sama is an honorific for an elderly woman or an aunt, in this case Sayako Oba-sama is actually Sachiko's mother) came out of the entrance and went to meet the four.

      "Ahh, Sachiko-san!"

      The outside had already become pitch-black, and only Oba-sama's apron seemed unkempt.

      "I'm sorry, Oba-sama."

      Yumi helped Sachiko-sama down, whom she had held hands with a minute ago, and gave her to Sayako Oba-sama.

      "Yumi-chan, don't be. I'm the one who should be apologizing. I heard what had happened from Suguru-san by phone. I'm sorry for just cutting your date short like that. For now, why doesn't everyone come inside and sip some hot tea?"

      Sayako Oba-sama ushered everyone in, promising to greet everyone later. Yuuki, who had nothing to do after Sachiko-sama was delivered safely, began mopping up his hair.

      "Oba-sama, were you cooking something?"

      Yumi asked as she began walking down the corridor. Oba-sama was wearing an apron, and her sweater and hair were dusted with white powder.

      "You noticed? I just suddenly felt like baking something."

      Sayako Oba-sama answered in a lilting voice.

      "Baking?"

      "Yep."

      The three guests looked at each other as they nodded.

      "Hey, what's with those faces? You don't think that I was off having fun baking cakes while my daughter was sick?"

      Oba-sama's voice was terse. Or it seemed that way to Yumi.

      "Of course not. You had started before noon right? Sachiko-san's condition suddenly worsened halfway through, so there was little you could have done today."

      "Why did you suddenly want to bake today?"

      Sachiko-sama asked from the reception room, where she was sitting underneath the blanked that Kashiwagi-san had put on top of her in the car. Everyone had told her to rest in her room, but she had wanted to be with her friends, so she had tagged along.

      "Your father yesterday, you know, brought back the most beautiful fallen leaves. Seeing that, I just wanted to make something."

      Oba-sama confessed, as the maidservant handed the tea out.

      "Ah, fallen leaves."

      "Of course."

      Sachiko-sama and Kashiwagi-san had understood something interesting, but the Fukuzawa twins couldn't understand how baking came from fallen leaves. Then, Oba-sama began explaining exactly what she had meant.

      "Mille-Feuille is a pastry that means 'one-thousand leaves' does it not?"

      Ah, that's true.

      "That's surprising."

      "But true. It's what you think of when you think of falling leaves, right?"

      While Sayako Oba-sama painted the elegant scene in their minds, Yumi remembered something as she saw how happy Oba-sama was with Tooru Oji-sama bringing in fallen leaves.

      (TL Sukoshi: The situation between the Ogasawara men and the Ogasawara women is a tense one. It's commonly known that the men have mistresses, and that the women seem to be more dutiful wives for social purposes. As such, acts of genuine kindness between the husband and the wife are rare. As far as I can tell, Kashiwagi seems to be the odd one out here, when he flatly declined Sachiko-sama's love by telling her that he was gay. To continue the Ogasawara trend of having a social wife and a real one would be very easy in such an established family culture, and I respect Kashiwagi for having the courage to break the trend.)

      "Well then. It might be a bit rude but, why don't I serve some of the Mille-Feuille."

      Sayako Oba-sama distributed the cups of Mille-Feuille to everyone and then stood. Sachiko-sama then called out to Sayako Oba-sama.

      "Mother, please don't tell father or grandfather that I felt sick and had to come home."

      (TL SUKOSHI: Sachiko uses formal addresses for mother, father, and grandfather in otherwise casual speech.)

      "I won't say anything, but they'll eventually find out."

      Oba-sama answered and turned toward the door.

      "But won't you stay silent about the whole thing?"

      "I won't say anything, but they'll definitely hear about it. I asked Iwamatsu-sensei for a house call, and grandfather and Iwamatsu-sensei are Go friends."

      (TL Sukoshi: Sensei is an honorific used for learned/advanced/professional people. Go is a board game popular in Asia, which is played on a large board, and involves placing black or white stones on the board to control 'territory'. In terms of intellectual prestige, it rivals chess in the western world.)

      Just from listening to the conversation, it seemed that Iwamatsu-sensei was an intimate doctor for the Ogasawara family, and was good friends with Sachiko-sama's grandfather with whom he played Go.)

      "Huh, you called sensei?"

      "Of course I did. I didn't know how you were feeling on the phone you know."

      Sayako Oba-sama replied, and after looked over her daughter and mumbled "hmmm".

      "Well you seem better already. Let me call up Sensei and tell him not to come."

      As soon as Sayako Oba-sama stood up, the bell indicating visitors rang.

      "I guess I was too late huh."

      Sayako Oba-sama looked at Sachiko-sama.

      "There's nothing we can do. Sachiko-san, please go to your room, and let at least Sensei look at you."

      "Huh?"

      "Well I can't just go home telling him that I called him for no reason."

      Sayako Oba-sama told Sachiko-sama that after Sensei was done, she could come back to the reception room.

      "Well, Suguru-san, I'm sorry but please entertain Yumi-chan and Yuuki-san."

      As soon as Sayako Oba-sama and Sachiko-sama opened the door of the reception room, Yuuki stood up with them.

      "Uh, could I use your phone please? I want to call home."

      "Of course. Once you exit the room, keep to your left side, until you see a small room. Use the phone there. Should I get the receiver from that room and bring it here?"

      "Uh, no, that's fine. I'll go."

      Yuuki said, and then slipped outside of the door that Sayako Oba-sama had left open.

      "What about using my cell phone?"

      Yumi's little brother turned down Kashiwagi-san's request.

      "I have to go to the bathroom after that."

      "Well then hurry."

      Would he really go after, or was the main thing the bathroom. When Yumi saw him hurry out, she think she knew.

      When three people in a previously five person occupied room leave, the feel of the room changes. Plus, the only other person remaining was Kashiwagi-san. They had ridden together on the roller coaster, but there had been so many people they had not known around them, so it hadn't really felt like they had been 'together'.

      Silence.

      So deep was the silence that the sound of the air conditioner could be heard.

      Kashiwagi-san, just as societal protocol dictated, moved himself in the seat in front of Yumi.

      "It's just the two of us, isn't it."

      "What?!"

      "Is not what I'm thinking, but you, right Yumi-chan?"

      (...)

      He had teased her perfectly. To counter his offensive move, Yumi said one of the top-five things swirling around inside her heart.

      "Know-it-all."

      "But I'm not. It's not like I think Yumi-chan has any feelings for me. I just thought you wanted to talk a bit with me, but was I wrong?"

      Why does he have to reply with something like that. He understands, and yet why does he make me react like this.

      "I hate you, Kashiwagi-san."

      "That's fine."

      "How can you just say that?"

      "Yumi-chan seems like the person who won't tell someone anything if she doesn't have any thoughts about them. But if you say something like this to me, even if it's about a feeling of fear or hatred, at least it means you have some strong feelings for me. That makes me very happy. Not thinking anything at all about me would be much more painful."

      Kashiwagi-san curled his index finger above his thigh as he laughed. Did he actually mean what he had just said?

      "I'm jealous of you Kashiwagi-san, I think. A bit."

      "I know that. You like Sacchan. I understand that to you I'm an eyesore."

      Kashiwagi-san had nothing more or nothing less to say, no other meanings to imply. He had spoken plain truth.

      Yumi obviously liked Sachiko-sama.

      Then.

      "Kashiwagi-san, you like Sachiko-sama don't you?"

      "I do."

      Kashiwagi-san could have taken some more time to think, but he replied instantly.

      "Then why did you tell Sachko-sama that?"

      "That?"

      "That you're gay."

      When Yumi said those words, Kashiwagi-san's normally self-confident, youthful figure faltered for just a moment.

      "... My god. Just how much do you know."

      Kashiwagi-san uncoiled his index finger, straightened his hair, and let out a large sigh. Yumi probably should not have said what Sachiko-sama had told her about this earlier. But it was too late. She couldn't take back something she had already done.

      "We can marry, but we can't have kids, so Sachiko-sama can have kids with someone of her choice. You told her that, didn't you?"

      "Sacchan told you so much, did she."

      Kashiwagi-san's mood changed, as he traced a line around his body. Kashiwagi-san made a pained face as his curtain was unveiled, and in the darkness that followed Yumi shone.

      "But that's a lie isn't it? Kashiwagi-san really loves Sachiko-sama, doesn't he? I can see it. But still Kashiwagi-san, you."

      "'Kashiwagi-san you.' ?"

      Is what, he asked frankly. At that moment, Yumi understood.

      "You said that to stop Sachiko-sama from marrying you."

      "Did I?"

      An answer was unnecessary. Kashiwagi's eyes said "correct". But why did he--.

      "There's some parts of me that even you can't see."

      "Huh?"

      Just what did he mean by parts that you can see and parts that you couldn't see? But these were the parts of Kashiwagi-san that she could see, so she knew that nothing could change the truth that Kashiwagi-san liked Sachiko-sama.

      "Of course I like Sacchan. If you ask me whether I love Sacchan, I'll say yes to even that. But there are many forms of liking."

      "Many forms?"

      "You like Sacchan, but you also like Yuuki. And of course, you like yourself Yumi-chan."

      Kashiwagi-san was talking about complicated things.

      "But you like Sachiko-sama the most don't you?"

      "What do you mean by the most? I like my dog. I like Maple Parlor's jelly. I like Kendo. I like cars. Is that something I can't do? There's no way I can weigh these likes on one scale."

      "But I mean, as a person."

      Dogs and jellies were different types, and it's hard to compare forms of "like", but she meant the kind between one person and another.

      "Yumi-chan, you like your father and your mother, don't you?"

      "Huh?"

      "And Yuuki too? Sacchan? Can you decide which one you like the most?"

      Of course there was no way she could. Because Dad was Dad, Mom was Mom, and Mom and Dad were different people. Dad and Yuuki were the same. It was the same throughout her family. There was no way she could even mix Sachiko-sama amongst them.

      (Ah.)

      Maybe that's what Kashiwagi-san had meant by "many kinds". Just by a bit, just by a tiny bit, she felt she understood.

      "I like Sacchan. But I don't want to marry her. Because you're Yumi-chan I'll tell you but, that's the way I really feel."

      "Kashiwagi-san, you really wouldn't marry Sachiko-sama? So then, you don't want to marry anyone?"

      "If it were Yumi-chan, could I?"

      "I'm sorry but, I can't laugh at such jokes."

      "Understood. I'll stop."

      Kashiwagi-san raised his hands up to shoulder height and laughed.

      "One last thing. You can't win by defeating me."

      "What the heck does that--"

      "You still feel jealous of me. If you don't stop now, it'll only get worse."

      "..."

      "Don't look at me like that. I can't give you any more hints."

      Kashiwagi brought his legs and arms together, sunk deep into the sofa, and closed his eyes. Anything else, Yumi had to figure out by herself. She got the feeling that she would have no more access.

      "If you aren't an enemy, then what are you?"

      Yumi uselessly tried to gain access, and Kashiwagi-san's eyes opened very slightly.

      "A friend."

      Kashiwagi-san said and when he closed his eyes, Yuuki had come back inside the Reception Room.

      "Yumi. I called mom and dad. Then I heard that Sachiko-san wanted you to come to her room but ... what happened?"

      "Nothing."

      Yumi stood, and tightly grasped the topmost button on the blouse she wore below her sweater.

      "Yumi?"

      "It's nothing. I'll go to Sachiko-sama's room now."

      Yuuki understood well when something felt amiss, so he didn't pay much attention to his sister's attitude. But he didn't want to get dragged into something, so he quickly fled the room.

      Kashiwagi-san hadn't done anything wrong.

      But right now, he didn't want to be inside. He didn't want Kashiwagi-san to see his face.

      As soon as Yumi closed the door with her lagging hand, Yuuki indeed asked Kashiwagi-san "Did something happen?"

      Kashiwagi-san replied coolly to an inflamed Yuuki.

      "We were just playing a game."

      And as soon as Yumi left the corridor, Yuuki balled up his fist and launched it into Kashiwagi-san's chest.



      Chapter 3

      As Yumi was walking toward Sachiko-sama's room, she met with doctor in the corridor.

      "There's nothing wrong here, but if you could, could you please keep the talk light and let her rest? She seems tired."

      He roughly patted Yumi's shoulder like an old man does. Because he wasn't in his white robes, at first, she hadn't recognized him for the doctor. For a moment, she thought that Sachiko-sama's grandfather had come home, but this man was too young to be Tooru Ojii-san's father.

      When she looked at her watch, she realized that it was almost seven o'clock, but neither Sachiko-sama's father nor grandfather had returned home yet. It was around the holidays, and around now the heads of the company would be late working with all their appointments.

      "Thank you very much."

      Yumi saw off the doctor at the entrance with Sayako Oba-sama, and then went to visit Sachiko-sama's room. She had bothered her Onee-sama before, who lived on the house's second floor, so she could get there without any help.

      Yumi knocked then entered.

      "Yumi"

      Onee-sama had changed completely into her nightclothes, and was sitting patiently on top of the bed.

      "I was planning to go back to the Reception Room."

      "It's fine. You should sleep."

      Yumi pushed over the futon that had been against the wall, and sat next to Sachiko-sama's bed.

      Right now, Sachiko-sama was in arm's reach.

      When she was talking with Kashiwagi-san, it had felt almost as if Sachiko-sama had become this distant person.

      But she was here.

      Right now, she forgot about her hard homework, and basked in the happiness of being together with her Onee-sama.

      "What happened?"

      Sachiko-sama ran her hand through Yumi's hair.

      "I was jealous of Kashiwagi-san today."

      Yumi replied, as Sachiko-sama stroked Yumi's hair.

      "Ahh."

      "Because, the things I wanted to do but couldn't, he did easily. Because he knows so much about the Onee-sama that I don't know."

      Plus he was an adult. She didn't want to admit it but, there were a lot of things he was that she couldn't be.

      (TL Sukoshi: The use of Furigana here also adds a double meaning: "but, there were a lot of things where he was no enemy of hers").

      Even if she thought of their relationship as one of friendship as Kashiwagi-san had said, he was still far ahead of her. From that distance, he would occasionally turn back and laugh at the lagging Yumi.

      "Silly."

      But Onee-sama laughed as she talked.

      "But there are things that Yumi can do and Suguru-san can't. Such as."

      "Such as ... ?"

      Dozens of things spiraled in her mind, and Yumi's clouded mind wanted to know the truth. Could it be possible for so sorry an existence to win against Kashiwagi-san?

      "Right now, it was Yumi's smile that I wanted to see. While I was riding in the car, I wanted to hold Yumi's hand. Not Suguru-san's. That's not bad, is it?"

      "Not bad ..."

      Yumi shook her head vigorously.

      Plus, Sachiko-sama continued.

      "Yumi always gives me strength."

      "Onee-sama."

      She really was cheering Yumi on.

      Heeding the doctor's words, Yumi got up and said "Well, I'll leave for today". But Sachiko-sama replied.

      "Yumi. I'm sorry for today. We'll surely get our revenge."

      "Onee-sama. Don't get heated about revenge. Next time we go, use some of my strength. Even if you feel sick, it'll be fine. Once, or even twice, don't stop asking me for help."

      Yumi bent over and touched Onee-sama's hand.

      "That's true. We did go a long way, and it was a long-postponed amusement park trip. I might have gone a little too far today, really."

      "Yeah."

      "Now that I think about it, I realize what they mean by 'It's good to fail sometimes'. Yumi, this is what they mean, right?"

      Yumi nodded, and flipped the switch next to Sachiko-sama's bed.

      "It really is."

      Sachiko-sama's words, together with the fading light, danced around in the room's darkness.


      Chapter 4


      When Yumi returned to the Reception Room, Yuuki said "Let's go".

      "You don't have to hurry like that. I prepared some Mille-Feuille, and you should eat some dinner now."

      "No, I already called up our mother telling her that we'd eat at home."

      Yuuki bowed his head in apology.

      "Oh...."

      Oba-sama whispered in disappointment.

      "Your mother must have prepared the dinner already and is waiting on you two. So now, I shouldn't hold you two here unnecessarily. But could you two wait just a bit here?"

      Oba-sama dashed out of the room, and Kashiwagi-san, who had been sitting on the sofa, shrugged his head and pushed off the blanket from over his head.

      "I'll take you two home."

      But Yuuki refused.

      "No. There are still trains and busses running."

      Kashiwagi-san folded his arms together and glared coldly at Yuuki.

      "Then you do that. But I'll take Yumi-chan back in my car."

      "What the heck?"

      "After getting Sacchan's little sister involved in all of this, I hadn't just mouthed my promise to drive her home. Even if I don't take her, I'll send her back with an Ogasawara driver. Would that make you feel better?"

      "...."

      Yuuki stayed silent. But it seemed as if they would have to go home in someone's car. To make sure the matter wouldn't blow out of proportion, Yumi spoke.

      "Kashiwagi-san, could you take us?"

      "Yumi"

      "It's fine if Kashiwagi-san takes me. I'll go back with him. And hey, Yuuki, you too. Because if we come home by different rides, it'll seem weird."

      To which Yuuki replied dejectedly.

      "It's Yumi who's weird."

      It seemed as if he was angry at something.

      "Doesn't Yumi hate sempai?"

      "Eh?"

      Yuuki didn't just seem angry, he was angry. He was really angry. Maybe he had mistook what he thought could have happened while his older sister and Kashiwagi-san had been together.

      "Yukichi. You've said enough in front of her."

      Kashiwagi-san smiled bitterly. He smiled, then began patting Yuuki from behind, and Yumi wondered whether she had understood what was going on.

      "Well it's not like anything really bad happened."

      Yumi touched Yuuki's shoulder and said "Hey". It did not visibly calm Yuuki down, but he did coolly accept going in Kashiwagi-san's car.

      "So, it's final then. Yumi-chan, put something over yourself please."

      Kashiwagi-san brought Yumi her jacket and spread it open behind Yumi, as a gentleman should, making it easy to wear. He waited for Yumi to wear it, but Yumi didn't move her hands. She just simply waited for the jacket to be put on her.

      For some reason, she didn't want to touch Kashiwagi-san. Sayako Oba-sama, who had told the two to wait, came back within five minutes. In her hands, she was carrying a large box that seemed as if it contained a hall-full of cake.

      "Well then, take this as a gift."

      "Uh, um well."

      Sayako Oba-sama spoke through Yumi's confusion.

      "Mille-Feuille. Eat it with your parents."

      "This much?"

      She really had divided it into large portions. Would this kind of cutting up leave nothing left for Tooru Ojii-sama?

      "Don't worry. We still have four times this much left."

      "Eh...."

      For that matter, Oba-sama's home cooking was known to be extreme.

      If she wanted to eat bread in the morning, she would first measure the amount of flour she would need. She would make food for a snack on a day trip, but somehow it would become dinner. So while making the Mille-Feuille, this extremity manifested itself in the amount she had prepared.

      "Oba-sama, please make sure I have some too. After I drop off the Fukusawa kids, I'll come back here."

      "Well, Kashiwagi-san, you'll be coming back?"

      "Yeah. Today was."

      Kashiwagi-san made sure to let her know that he would be coming back, and shook his head and said "I'll be coming back later so."

      "I see. Take care of Yumi-chan for me."

      Sayako Oba-sama gave Kashiwagi-san a similar type of box, and beamed with the satisfaction of having baked it.

      The outside had become incredibly cold.

      "Well then, I'll see you later."

      Yumi's cheeks, which jutted out from above the jacket, fed in the outside cold, and rose in farewell to Sayako Oba-sama.

      As Kashiwagi-san revved his red car's engine in the parking lot to heat up the area, Yumi and Yuuki waited. This time, Yuuki didn't seat in the front passenger's seat, but instead sank into the rear seats next to Yumi. This was where Sachiko-sama had been sitting. The blanket that Sachiko-sama had been wearing was now in the passenger's seat.

      Kashiwagi-san's driving was only a bit more aggressive than earlier.

      As the car wound left and right, the Mille-Feuille made sounds as it jostled around inside its box.

      "Please drive a bit more carefully."

      As usual, Yuuki's mood would not improve.

      "Yukichi, you're annoying. You really are meant for Touko, aren't you?"

      "Touko-chan?"

      Yumi asked again. She was Kashiwagi-san's cousin, but Yumi felt as if she had heard the name for the first time today.

      "Yep. First it was Touko who had invited him, but then Yukichi stood her up and invited her again."

      "... I'm just the stunt boy aren't I."

      Yuuki had really gotten angry. But Yumi had no energy left to try to placate her little brother.

      Outside the window, the streetlights and the lights from the convenience stores reflected in her eyes. As she spaced out, words echoed in her mind.

      Mille-Feuille.
      Yu, Yumi.
      Mi, Mille Feuille.
      Yu, Yumi.

      She was playing Shiritori with herself, but like a broken record, she kept saying the same thing over and over again.

      The game continued to repeat, until it became a continuous stream of thought, and it some point, she sighed and felt that perhaps the large Mille-Feuille was just too big.



      Afterword

      The day I finished the draft of the book, I had a listless feeling of wanting to eat Mille-Feuille.

      I just ambled down the stairs aimlessly, and went to my kitchen, and what were the first words that leapt up to me? None other than "Mille-Feuille".

      "Oh, you can read my mind eh?"

      It was indeed a mind-reading.

      It was the name of a pastry my mother would buy from the supermarket.

      The one I wanted to eat was quite different.

      But I ate it.

      It was much tastier than I thought it would be. ... Even though it was something else.

      Hi. Konno here.

      Just as the introduction (the thing that starts with "Gokigenyou" "Gokigenyou", you know) said, this is a three-parter. Part Rosa Foetida family, part Rosa Gigantea family, and part Rosa Chinensis family, in that order. If you look at it, each has a separate story.

      If you take those three creations, bake them in a pie, and add some cream on top, then the result looks something like Mille-Feuille doesn't it? And when I thought of that, I came up with the subtitle.

      But then if it were a sandwich, how would American Sandwich be? Well I didn't want to really use something like that.

      The sound of Mille-Feuille is cute, and it looks nice too. Done.

      Let's try to change it, shall we?

      "A Rose Sandwich"

      Which isn't bad, but it sounds like we're going to go to a picnic.

      "A Rose American Sandwich"

      Just why did I think of this again?

      But if you call this entire book the Mille-Feuille, then would you call the stories pies or cream? Well, if you had to pick one, it would probably be pie. Yes pie.

      Well then. This three-part story wasn't really composed of three separate volumes, because each of them had some common parts weaved into them. Like "pastry", "car", or "man". There might still be some more, but please look them up in your free time. You might even show me some, but I won't add any more to the list. (By the way, there are several ones that I forgot to write in the above list anyway.)

      Stories that unfold outside of a school, and which between them have one common, shared point.

      There are readers who would like to investigate the places that the girls went on [on their dates]. Give it up though, because you don't know how long they had spent there or how much.

      The hotel, amusement park, and even the kindergarten (thankfully no-one really knows where the kindergarten is) aren't real. The reason behind this is simple. When I was writing, I hadn't gathered any information on any one real place! (I had done the same thing with other places too, but.)

      Basically, I pick whichever places I think will work well for the story. That's why, even if you try very hard to find out what these places are, I'll still forgive you.

      I wanted to quote Yoshino's battle lines, but I only remembered two quotations "Hereditary Warfare" (TL Sukoshi: For those interested in Yoshino's famous quotes, the original Japanese says "Sonshi no Heihou")

      "Glorifying actions --" (TL Sukoshi: "Ugokazaru Koto") will be familiar from people who follow "Fuurin Kazan", but isn't a real line by Takeda Shingen.

      (TL Sukoshi: "Fuurin Kazan" meaning Volcanic Gale, is a Japanese samurai drama that aired from mid-to-late 2007. Takeda Shingen was a famous daimyo during Japan's Warring States ("Sengoku") period, Japan's rough equivalent to the European Middle Ages, the conclusion of which was a Tokugawa monarch taking control of Japan until the Meiji Restoration. Please read more about Japanese history, in particular Japanese Feudal History if you're interested by the topic.)

      In particular, it was the mountain associated with these glorifying actions that inspired Yoshino's line. The inspiration [from Fuurin Kazan] itself came from mixing a fast "wind" and an aggressive "fire". I rejected the prospect of adding in a quiet "forest", for obvious reasons. (Heh).


      Today, when I was opening the door for my home refrigerator, I discovered the ice cream (actually ice milk) that called itself "Mille-Feuille".

      "Is Mille-Feuille some Japanese fad?"

      Or was it just a fad in her home (or more likely just in her mother).

      When I was writing this Afterword, my mother still hadn't found out what the subtitle going to be.

      -- Konno Oyuki


      The End
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