Chapter Fifteen : The Trouble With Binary Thinking
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Kozuke walks around to the drivers side of the van, opens the door, and climbs in, quickly shutting the door behind him. He looks over his shoulder at Kanna as he turns the key in the ignition and the engine fires up. “Are you certain that you’re alright with coming along? I may not be able to take you home right away,” he murmurs.

Kanna nods, stroking Madoka’s hair gently. “I understand. That’s fine. Mama will probably be able to come get me. I’m not worried about it.”

Kozuke nods, and looks at her with an expression full of gratitude once more. He pulls forward and down the street, heading to the mansion.

Dr. Hamada Yoshi sits in his office chair, staring out the window, grimly. Kozuke left the mansion after having informed him that Madoka had another PTSD episode at her school. He is starting to re-evaluate the wisdom of sending her to school so soon to begin with, but he had been so impatient to see how she might do, and she had made excellent progress in both her physical and mental therapy sessions. She is so very close to being able to walk without the aid of special equipment, barring unforeseen consequences of her accident, which he is becoming more and more sure have not and will not affect her.

There is also the problem of the school she is attending. That fool of a kocho is meddling and looking into things he does not need to look into. Madoka is a perfect girl. Discounting chromosomes, there is absolutely nothing about her that is not feminine except perhaps for her personality. Hamada sighs, steeping his fingers, as he considers the situation. From what Sakamoto-kocho has stated, he is going to start enforcing strict rules upon Madoka that make no sense at all to Yoshi. He is mostly concerned that the special treatment will cast suspicion on Madoka and the knowledge of her past identity might spread to the students, somehow.

His thoughts are interrupted by a ring on his office phone. He glances at the ID display; it indicates that Uchida Saito is dialing him. They have been in contact fairly frequently at this point. He lifts the receiver from the hook and speaks into it. “Saito. What do you want this time?” he asks.

“Senpai… things are bad,” Saito replies quickly, the urgency thick in his voice.

“Of course they’re bad. Are you trying to say things are worse?” Hamada asks his troublesome, but still useful Kohai.

“Yes. Worse. It’s all bad news at this point. Sakamoto-kocho and his staff let the information about Madoka’s previous identity leak. It’s all over her school.” Saito gasps.

This announcement nearly gives Hamada a heart attack. It is his worst nightmare given flesh. “Oh Kami…” is all the old man can say. In his mind, all his grand plans and hopes are guttering like a candle in a high wind.

“That isn’t even the worst of it, senpai. I can’t protect you anymore,” Saito murmurs. “My supervisors have been brought into the loop on this issue. It’s only a matter of time before they take Madoka out of your custody.”

Hamada gapes and his anger surges. “What do you mean, you idiot?” he nearly screams. “You can’t allow them to do that! She’s legally mine! Fix this, Saito. I didn’t put this much time and effort into this project to have it all go down the drain like this!”

Saito pauses for a long moment. “I thought you just wanted a child, Senpai?”

Hamada pauses a moment and growls. “Of course I do! That’s what I told you, isn’t it? No one else could help the poor child. Now it’s all going to go to waste.”

Kozy pulls up to the mansion and parks the van quickly. He opens the door and rushes around to the passenger’s side, opening the door for Kanna.

Kanna awkwardly helps move Madoka-chi out of the van. Kozy wraps his arms around her and carries her inside. Kanna closes the van door and dashes after Kozy, taking a moment to gape at her surroundings. The tall wrought iron gate, the large house in a western style, the fountain in front of the mansion, and the lovely garden just inside the walls of it. She doesn’t have time to linger and stare, however. She rushes inside after Kozy. She follows him down the right wing of the mansion and into Madoka-chi’s bedroom.

Her room is currently distinctly lacking in lacy curtains, as they are on loan to the class currently for the festival, but otherwise it looks so cute and girly, Kanna can’t help but stare, and wonder what exactly is going on with Madoka-chi. She knows her secret now, and she has a hard time understanding the situation. If Madoka-chi had been a boy, why were her tastes so girly? Why was her bed so cute with that bedspread? Why did she have such a cute makeup mirror? She sees a large wardrobe in the room, as well. She tries not to stare too much and watches as Kozy sets Madoka-chi down on the bed and starts detaching her walking brace and removing her from it. He stands it up beside her bed and sets about checking her pulse and opening her eyelids to examine her eyes.

“She’s still unconscious,” Kozy murmurs. “I need to inform the master that I have returned.” He looks at Kanna. “Will you stay with her and watch her while I do that?” Kozy asks her. Kanna nods quickly, and Kozy stands, placing a hand on her shoulder with a warm smile. “Such a good friend she has. May I ask where Wada-san is?” he inquires.

Kanna flinches and looks away for a moment, finally meeting his eyes. “We learned about Madoka-chi’s secret today. That’s why she had her episode.”

Kozy looks at her and his expression goes from shocked to sad. “Wada-san did not take it well, I gather?” He sighs.

Kanna nods, her expression sad. “She didn’t. She broke up with her right then and there.”

Kozy nods. “Madoka probably can’t bear the idea of losing someone else important to her. She has lost much in her young life.” He leans down and gently pets Madoka-chi’s hair.

“Everyone else knows too. I don’t know what type of school life Madoka-chi is going to have now.” Kanna feels tears leak from her eyes and she sniffles as she sits down on Madoka’s bed and looks at her still form.

“We can only hope for the best. This is going to be a major blow to the master. He had hoped that Madoka would be able to live a happy and normal life. This is going to complicate things. By all rights, this should never have even been an issue. She’s the perfect little girl.” Kozy’s usually calm expression cracks at the edges and agony is plainly visible to Kanna before he screws up his determination.

“Please wait here, Tsukimi-san.” He bows and quickly exits the room, leaving her alone with Madoka-chi. 

Kozuke heads across the hall with broad strides towards the Master’s office. When he reaches the door at the far end, he knocks firmly.

“Go away, Kozuke,” the master grouches.

“Master… I’ve returned with Madoka. She is recovering in her bed currently.” Kozuke frowns at his attitude. His poor attitude has been constant now, as though he’s slipping into his dotage.

“Good. That is all I need to know,” Master Yoshi snaps.

“Master… she needs medical care…” Kozuke tries again.

“That’s enough. She’s just had another episode. She’ll be fine. Go make dinner,” Master Yoshi yells.

Kanna dials her mama’s number and after three rings, she picks up.

“Kanna-chan… how are you? How is your friend? Is everything alright?” she asks, sounding worried.

Kanna sighs softly. “My friend hasn’t woken up yet. I’m really worried about her. Madoka-chi should be awake by now. I wonder if Aoi-chi dumping her hurt her a lot.” She sighs softly.

“That’s so sa… wait… Aoi was in a relationship with your new friend Madoka?” her mother asks her, puzzled.

“Oh… um…” Kanna blushes. She hasn’t told her mother this yet, and now she must explain it. “Um… yes… it turns out Aoi-chi is a little yuri…” She giggles faintly.

“I… didn’t read that in her… she never looked at you like that,” Kanna’s mama exclaims. “Well… I’m not sure that I approve of that…” she says.

“You can’t change their feelings, Mama. I don’t think it’s right to try,” Kanna chides her Mama.

“It’s just not proper. Two beautiful young ladies should be going on dates with handsome young boys… but then you’re still too young for that,” her Mama argues.

“They’re in love, Mama. Real love is special. That’s what you and Papa always say.” Kanna bites her lip.

“I don’t see how it could be real love…” Kanna can hear the frown in her Mama’s voice now.

“My friend is currently comatose because her heart was broken. If that isn’t real love, I don’t know what is, Mama!” Kanna raises her voice slightly and blushes at having done it. “Sorry, Mama… Madoka-chi and Aoi-chi are important to me… their happiness is important to me.”

“I… I understand, Kanna-chan. I’m sorry too.” Mama’s voice sounds saddened to her. “What can I do to help you?”

Kanna hesitates. “I need a ride home, Mama. No… I need a ride to Aoi-chi’s. I need to talk to her, and there isn’t much else I can do here.”

“Okay. I’m on my way, Kanna-chan. You’re a good girl,” Mama praises her gently, and she blushes.

Ren-sensei and the school nurse stand together in the nurse’s office. Ren stands with his arms crossed as he leans against the room’s sink. He frowns as he stares down at the floor.

“Well, this all went to hell,” he comments.

“I don’t understand it. This was all blown out of proportion.” The nurse frowns. “She had a period. What part of that do people not understand? I don’t know what type of revolutionary techniques must have been used on her, but for all intents and purposes she is a girl.

“She is attracted to other girls,” Ren-sensei hedges, and then sighs. “I never received any complaints about her, honestly. Not a single girl mentioned any problems with her in the locker room thus far. She seems too sweet and well-mannered to cause any of the trouble Sakamoto-kocho is afraid of.

The nurse nods to him. “She was the cutest when I drew her blood. That little flinch. I thought she was going to faint.” She laughs softly. “I just can’t see her having been a boy. It must be a mistake.”

“It might as well be one. I think the only real mistake here is in how Sakamoto-Kocho is dealing with the situation. I’m going to talk to the class about it so they don’t have second-hand information. Who knows what vicious rumors might start up if the teachers don’t set the students straight?” he says resolutely.

“Are you sure you want to take that on yourself, Takahashi-sensei?” the nurse asks him, concerned.

“I always thought that there was something different about her… from the moment I met her, I felt there was something peculiar there… but I haven’t seen it since she’s come to school. I think all she needed was to make some good friends to blossom. I mean to see that she doesn’t lose them.” Ren-sensei clenches his fist.

Aoi sits with Kanna on her bed. She glances at her table, and blushes slightly. She can’t sit there anymore without thinking of the first amazing kiss that she had shared with Madoka. It still makes her heart race when she thinks about it. She is so confused about her feelings now, and doesn’t want to think about that kiss. Madoka has lied to her and she feels betrayed and hurt.

“It’s not her fault,” Kanna says softly. “Kozy explained it to me. She was in a car accident.”

“I know that, Kanna.” Aoi glares, crossing her arms under her breasts and looking away. “Don’t you mean he anyhow? It’s not like he was ever really a girl,” Aoi lies. She thought that she was a girl. That she loved a girl. She doesn’t know how she feels now.

“I know you know that. Did you know that her real parents died in that accident?” Kanna asks, her voice quavering a little.

“I know.” Aoi feels tears roll down her cheeks unbidden. It still hurts to think about what Madoka has gone through. If she doesn’t love her anymore, why does it hurt so much?

“Okay… did you know that the surgery was against Madoka’s will? The master did it by accident.” Kanna sighs.

“What?” Aoi exclaims. “She didn’t go into it willingly?”

“No. She was a victim in the accident. Now she must live this way for the rest of her life… she’s already lost her parents and her life, and your love brought her so much happiness, Aoi-chi… You took that away from her too. She isn’t waking up.” Kanna sniffles. Aoi’s eyes widen, and she closes, them, stricken by Kanna’s heartfelt words.

“I didn’t choose this.” Aoi feels tears running down her face, and she turns away.

Kanna hugs Aoi tightly from behind suddenly. “You chose Madoka-chi. Does it matter what gender he is or was? Madoka-chi is Madoka-chi, and Aoi-chi is madly in love with her!”

“Oh, Kami… oh, Kami… why…” Eiji exclaims, his head in his hands, tears dripping around his hand. They were manly tears, of course. They couldn’t be any other kind.

Eiji and Ippei sit together at the bar of a small ramen shop in Tsukuba. Ippei shakes his head as he picks out a set of chopsticks and breaks them apart with a snap. He gathers noodles with his chopsticks as he considers how to address his friend’s problem.

“I don’t see the problem,” he finally says as he starts to eat. The miso ramen was delicious as usual.

“You don’t see the problem, man? I touched myself… when I thought about h… her…” Eiji hesitates for a moment and seems to shiver all over.

Ippei doesn’t say anything, blushing faintly at his public admission.

Eiji hasn’t touched his ramen yet, and Ippei considers whether or not he’ll have to eat his friend’s order as well as his own. Eiji looks at him, glaring. “Say something!”

“What is there to say?” Ippei sighs. “Hamada-san is gorgeous. Does it matter if she used to be a boy?” he says. The ramen chef nearly drops his ladle overhearing that.

Ippei grimaces, noticing. “What I mean to say,” he continues in a quieter tone. “We’re all born looking the same. What does it matter? I have it on very good authority that Madoka has had a period since coming to school. What do you think? She sprays blood from a penis every month?” He frowns.

Eiji chokes when Ippei says that. “Of course not!” he yells.

“What she has down there doesn’t matter really at all, does it? What matters is that you have… or had feelings for her, right?” Ippei sighs, running his hand through his hair and rolling his eyes. Why did he have to deal with Eiji’s foolishness? Why was he always the one showing him how things were done?

“I guess you’re right.” Eiji frowns. “Maybe.” He sighs, finally grabbing a pair of chopsticks and breaking them apart.

“You’ll have to tell me if manly tears make the miso broth taste any better,” Ippei jokes. Eiji glares at him.

“It’s all wrecked! Demolished! Ruined! Why? It was so perfect!” Hamada Yoshi paces in circles, muttering. “I spent so much on this… it seemed like a sure method, like fortune had finally... Oh, Kami, why?” He wrings his hands and pulls at his still thick though slightly balding gray and white hair as he stomps circles through the carpet in his office.

“How does that girl manage to ruin everything inside of three weeks going to school? Is she trying to sabotage me? I need to take action… I need some way to salvage this situation!” he cries, falling to his knees and slamming his fists into the carpet. “My career… my future… everything…”

A knock comes at his door again and his tear-filled eyes glare daggers at the locked door. “Leave me alone, Kozuke!” he yells.

“Master… supper is ready…” Kozuke calls in quietly.

“Just leave it at the door!” Hamada yells at his useless butler. Maybe Kozuke is to blame for all of this. He has coddled the girl so. “Go away!”

Madoka’s eyelids flutter open, and she stares listlessly into the darkness of her room. The moment she awakens, tears start flowing from her eyes and she sobs softly.

“Aoi-chan…” she gasps softly, remembering the scene in the nurse's office, and she cries softly, tears leaking from her eyes onto the pillow upon which her head lies. She reaches for her second pillow and covers her head, and lets out a sharp wail as she cries her heart out. The pain is overwhelming. She thought she had finally found happiness. A reason to continue living. This too has been stolen from her by her impossible circumstances. She cries, curling up, and seriously contemplates ending things. Thankfully, she drifts back to sleep instead after a long period of crying. She barely senses Kozuke wandering in to check on her.

Kozuke sits down on her bed beside her and gently strokes the sleeping girl’s skin. She stirs a little, but remains asleep. He sighs in relief, seeing the reaction. She has not fallen into another coma. He has been terrified that Wada-san’s rejection of Madoka would trigger a resurgence of the mental trauma that had locked Madoka's mind in a coma for a year, and the master refuses to leave his office. All he can hear from the office when he isn’t yelling at Kozuke is a nearly constant stream of muttering and cursing.

He sighs as he strokes Madoka’s arm gently. “Everything will be alright, Sugar. I hope.”

Madoka wakes up the next morning. Being as Master Yoshi is not responding to his knocks, all Kozuke can do is spend time watching Madoka. He moved a chair over next to the bed last night and he fell asleep in it like he used to when watching over Madoka. He is awake, however, when he sees Madoka’s eyes flutter open.

Madoka looks over at him and smiles weakly. “Kozy,” she says softly, her eyes tearing up right away.

Kozuke stands, popping his back, and lowers himself to the bed, leaning over to gently embrace Madoka. “Are you alright, Madoka?” he asks. Madoka sobs softly and buries her head in his chest; he strokes her hair as she weeps.

“Oh, Kozy…” she sighs softly. “Why is life so unfair?” she mumbles.

“I do not know. I still think that your life is not over,” he says, softly. “Even if the whole school knows, surely we can…” Do what? Move her somewhere else? Expect her to try to make new friends? Kanna is still a good friend… surely that means that others must be open minded as well, Kozuke thinks to himself as he comforts her.

“I think that there are probably more silver linings in the situation than either you or I suspect,” he reassures her, cuddling her. Madoka continues to sob gently.

“They all know… they hate me,” Madoka cries.

“Don’t think that, Sugar. Kanna does not hate you. She was here watching over you with me last night,” he offers.

“R… really? Kanna-chan was here?” Madoka asks, looking up with red eyes, seeming to be surprised.

“Yes. Really. She still cares about you. Furthermore, she assured me that she would talk to Aoi, on your behalf. I wouldn’t be surprised if this story has a happier ending than you would guess,” he murmurs, petting her.

Later that afternoon, a car pulls up to the mansion, and when it comes to a stop and the doors open, Kanna and Aoi step out of it, Aoi looking both shy and amazed at the mansion’s gate. They wave to Aoi’s mother.

“Thanks for the ride, Mother.” Aoi smiles. Her mother nods. “Call me if you can’t stay like you plan. Good luck, Aoi.” She hesitates a moment.

“I’m still not sure what to think of you being in love with that young girl. She’s cute enough, but it’s so strange. You should have told me when your friend had that episode,” she chides her daughter.

“I know… I’m sorry, Mother… I didn’t know how to tell you that I had gone weird.” She blushes.

“And you wouldn’t have if I hadn’t badgered you into it,” Kanna teases Aoi, giving her a light pat on her skirted bottom. Aoi gasps and glares at Kanna. “Don’t do that, Kanna.” She scowls.

“Why not? It’s not like I think you’ll take it seriously. You only have room in your heart for one cute girl.” She grins. “And I’m not into girls anyhow.” She laughs.

Aoi’s mother frowns at her. “Good luck, girls. Good luck, Aoi. I’m off to have a serious talk with my sister about keeping secrets from me.” Her eyes narrow for a moment and she waves as she pulls out of the drive and back down towards the mountain road.

Aoi turns towards the mansion and shakes her head. “I didn’t think that she would really live in a place like this,” she murmurs as she walks towards the mansion. They have come directly from helping out half the day with the festival. The class agreed to let her go to Madoka’s side. They had been surprisingly understanding when she asked if they’d mind.

She stands at the gates, shouldering their overnight bags. Aoi is in her Momotaro costume, her Boken at her side. She didn’t even stop to change her clothes, her urgency to get to Madoka and make up with her is so strong. They walk together up to the door, Aoi practically ignoring the wealth around her, though she is filled with a sudden sense of inadequacy. Even if Madoka does not come from money originally, she obviously is now the daughter of an influential person that is way beyond Aoi’s societal level. It is more than a little intimidating. When it was just seeing Kozuke and knowing that Madoka had a butler, she didn’t really have to face the reality of the situation, but now she feels like maybe she isn’t good enough for Madoka.

Kanna rings the bell for her, and Aoi waits, anxiously. After three minutes, Kozuke opens the door and his calm demeanor breaks into a grin. “Lady Momotaro, I presume,” he exclaims. “Welcome! Madoka will be pleased to see you, and I already am.” The butler reaches out and takes Aoi’s hand and kisses it. “I knew I could count on you. Madoka is despondent without you. She will brighten the moment her eyes fall upon your lovely visage.”

Aoi turns red from head to toe. Kanna stares at her, surprised, and her expression becomes openly amused. Aoi glares at her and blushes even more. Kozuke swiftly shows them in, and Aoi gapes again at the expensiveness of everything inside the building as well. The portraits hanging must be worth a ton. There were opulent looking vases and other decor lining the hall. When they reach Madoka’s bedroom door, Kozuke opens the door, urging Aoi quietly in. Kanna and Kozuke wait outside, closing the door as Aoi steps in quietly, looking around. She knows that Madoka has donated her curtains and she thinks she can see where they might have all been hanging. She laughs softly, thinking about it, and as she does, Madoka’s head jerks up, shock and surprise in her expression.

They gaze at each other for a long moment, and finally Aoi breaks the silence. “I’m sorry I hurt you, Madoka-chan. I should have realized that it doesn’t matter what you are or were… you are Madoka, and I love you,” she says simply, tears in her eyes. She sees Madoka’s red eyes and she knows that she’s deeply hurt the girl she loves.

Madoka surprises her by practically bounding to her feet. She clumsily runs at her and wraps her arms around Aoi, nearly knocking her down with her speed and clumsiness. Their lips meet suddenly, and Madoka kisses her, and they lean against the wall, kissing softly and crying, 

After a time Aoi breaks the kiss and helps Madoka back to the bed, and they sit together, looking into each other’s eyes.

“I’ll never hurt you again, Madoka. I want to be here for you. You’ve lost so much, I won’t be part of that loss. It doesn’t matter who or what you were, because you’re mine now,” she says softly.

Madoka blushes and sniffles, feeling tears falling down from her eyes as she looks into Aoi’s eyes adoringly. “I love you, Aoi-chan. Forever and ever,” she murmurs softly.

“Awwww….” Aoi smiles happily. “I love you too, Madoka!” She leans in again and kisses Madoka thoroughly. Their tongues caress lovingly and Aoi presses Madoka down onto the bed and as they kiss, their hearts soar, and they both feel as though everything is going to be alright from now on.

Kanna and Kozuke walk into the room after a short time and the two find the girls on Madoka’s bed, kissing each other passionately.

Kanna giggles and blushes. Kozuke smiles and they look at each other, thinking about whether or not they want to interrupt the two girls. The choice is taken from them, however as Aoi and Madoka notice them and break their kisses with hot blushes.

“Um… sorry to interrupt.” Kanna giggles. “So, Kozy… we were hoping that maybe we could stay the night tonight now that we’ve all made up? We both feel like we’d like to support Madoka by staying with her tonight. She wanted to do a slumber party at her house yesterday, but events just kind of ran away from us,” Kanna points out.

Kozuke hesitates. “I think it will be alright. I’ll make it alright. The master hasn’t bothered coming out of his office and room in some time. Even if he objects, I think that you three should enjoy yourselves. Perhaps you should avail yourself of the swimming pool in the back as well.” He walks over to the wardrobe and opens it and after a few moments produces a blue bikini with pink stars on it, and smiles at Madoka. Madoka blushes and grins warmly at him.

Kanna grins at Aoi, who blushes redly upon seeing the cute little bikini.

Kanna, Aoi, and Madoka stand together poolside. Kanna wears a pink bikini with multicolored horizontal lines on it. Aoi-chi wears a school swimsuit, still being something of a tomboy, despite Kanna’s best efforts to feminize her. Kanna grins to herself. She has another surprise in store for Madoka-chi. She has arranged it with Kozuke with his grudging acceptance. It’s mostly really because she doesn’t want to be a third wheel all night to Madoka-chi and Aoi-chi’s romance, as happy as she is that she’s managed to rekindle it.

She runs and jumps into the pool with a squeal, thinking about what would be happening very soon. Aoi-chi and Madoka-chi giggle at the poolside when she resurfaces. The pool is heated, and it feels absolutely wonderful! It is one of the fringe benefits of having an amazing friend like Madoka-chi.

Eiji and Ippei arrive at the bus stop near the mansion and walk up the road a ways in their sandals. They came in T-shirts and swimming trunks as Kanna had suggested.

“I’m glad that you came to terms with your feelings,” Ippei murmurs as they walk uphill towards where the driveway to the mansion was supposed to be.

“Yeah… you were right, man. I was stressing too much about it, maybe. I’m still kind of anxious about it, but it’s not like I’m in a relationship with her. It’s none of my business. I can respect Madoka as a friend without overcomplicating things by worrying about who she was before when I met her.” Eiji shrugs.

“I’m glad you came to that conclusion.” Ippei grins, and looks around with a frown. “It should be around here somewhere,” he comments.

Eiji notices the turn-in up ahead finally and points it out. “There!” he exclaims. “Now we’ll get to see this amazing place Kanna talked about.”

The two walk up the driveway a distance among trees, and approach the Mansion. When they finally see it, Ippei nods as though something was confirmed to him, and Eiji gapes. “Wow… okay… that house is amazing. It’s the most Western house I’ve ever seen.” He shakes his head in amazement. “I kind of want to have a look inside.”

“I don’t think they’ll invite you inside, idiot.” Ippei chuckles. “We’re supposed to walk through the garden around to the back. Let’s go.” Ippei leads the way into the garden and around, across the bridge over the stream in the garden. Eiji takes a moment to gape down at the huge goldfish in the stream they pass over before continuing up the path past the gazebo and around to the rear of the mansion.

When they approach, they hear splashing and giggling. “This is the place,” Ippei says, ironically. They peek around a hedge and watch the girls for a little while. Kozuke the butler is sitting in a poolside chair in black trunks. What really draws Eiji’s eyes, however, is Madoka standing poolside in her walking brace. She wears a blue bikini with pink stars on it, and she has the biggest most lovely smile on her face as she’s splashed by Kanna from inside the pool.

Eiji gapes. “That used to be a boy? She looked amazing in Kanna’s maid costume, but that bikini… how could she possibly have been a boy at any point in time? I take back what I said in the ramen shop, Ippei… I think it’s fine.” He grins.

“I don’t get it, either, but I’m glad that’s cleared up for you.” Ippei rolls his eyes.

Kanna laughs aloud and jumps into the pool, causing a sudden surge of water to inundate Kanna. Kanna laughs; her eyes meet Eiji’s, and she grins broadly.

Kozuke watches Kanna run and dive into the pool and laughs softly from the poolside chair he lounges in. He wears a set of black swimming trunks and nothing else, and stands vigilant should his young charges require assistance. He thinks about Kanna’s plan to show Madoka that she’s still loved and smiles.

He frowns slightly when he sees the two boys poke their heads around a hedge. The dark greenish-haired muscular boy blushed a little and looked at Kozuke uncertainly, finally waving a little. Kozuke rolls his eyes and gestures for them to enter.

The boy with dark bluish hair adjusts his glasses and walks over with a pleasant smile to Kozuke. “Thank you for letting us visit, sir. It’s an amazing place.”

“I’m not the master of the house, young man.” Kozuke chuckles. “The master is indisposed, so I will accept your compliments on his behalf and pass them to him when appropriate.” Kozuke’s expression becomes troubled for a moment, but he sighs and smiles. “Please enjoy the pool.”

“No way!” Madoka gasps as she notices the two boys from where she’s playing at splashing with Kanna in the pool.

“Hello, Hamada-chan. We’re here to reassure you that everyone still cares about you.” Ippei bows and forces Eiji down into a bow with him.

“Thank you… that really means a lot to me, guys.” Madoka seems to sniffle a little, and Kozuke finds himself wanting to charge out into the pool and hug her. Thankfully, Wada-san eagerly does so, hugging her from behind. “Everyone is really cool. Cooler than me. I think it’ll work out okay, Madoka-chan,” she murmurs, snuggling against her, and Madoka blushes.

“Come on in, you two!” Kanna yells, splashing at them with a laugh.

Eji grins and suddenly runs at the pool, curling his body up, and cannonballs, sending water flying everywhere. Kozuke stares at him sourly after receiving a face full of chlorinated water.

Ippei laughs and jumps in, too, and Kozuke sighs as his face is splashed again. With a good natured grumble, he relaxes a touch and steps into the pool himself.

For several hours, the five teens and thirty something year old prematurely graying butler relax and just enjoy themselves. At Kanna’s suggestion, 

A few hours later, Kozuke brings an end to the fun and the boys say their goodbyes to Madoka. The three girls stand facing the two boys. Kanna smiles warmly. “I’m glad you could come, Eiji-kun.”

Eiji nods and grins. “I’d come anytime. I mean seriously… an awesome heated swimming pool.” He grins. “Who wouldn’t want a friend with one of those?”

Ippei raises his hand and brings it down on Eiji’s head in a chopping motion.

“Ow… what the hell, man?” Eiji protests.

“Be more genuine.” Ippei smiles faintly.

“More genuine?” Eiji frowns, and blushes a little. “Ah… erm… I mean… it was nice to see you in a bikini…” Ippei cuts him off by chopping him again.

“Ugh… okay… look… it’s not a big deal. You are who you are and who you are is pretty awesome, Madoka. I hope you’ll come back to school soon. Everyone wants to see you.” Eiji blushes, frowning at being forced to be so upfront about his feelings.

“Thank you, Sugawara-kun.” Madoka smiles.

“I guess this means you’re back together with Wada?” Eiji asks with a wry expression.

Still mine.” Aoi grins, taking Madoka arm. Madoka blushes.

“Still hers.” Madoka smiles softly, looking into Aoi’s eyes.

“Alright… that’s cool. If she ever makes you cry again, though I’ll pull her hair.” Eiji chuckles.

“What is this? Kindergarten?” Aoi rolls her eyes and smiles.

“Well… I can’t hit a girl, can I?” He grins a winning grin.

“Join me for Kendo sometime… I’ll show you what a girl can do,” Aoi challenges him.

“Uh… no thank you.” Eiji scowls. “If you’re anywhere near as good with that toy sword of yours as you are at Dissidia, I think I’ll just quit while I’m ahead.”

“Wise decision.” Aoi grins.

The boys wave and leave, having taken the bus up, and the girls walk back into the mansion wrapped in towels, Madoka in her walking brace, but walking somewhat faster today.

Kozuke heads into the kitchen to prepare dinner, and the three relax together in Madoka’s bedroom.
“So where is this mysterious Master of the house?” Aoi asks. “Your father?”

Madoka sighs and smiles. “Kozy says he’s feeling antisocial at the moment. I’m not too worried. As long as he doesn’t get on my case, I’m happy. Honestly, I wish Kozy could adopt me, but I do appreciate what Master Yoshi has done for me. It’s been a new lease on life. I’m not sure what my life would have been like if he hadn’t found me. I might not even be alive.” she shrugs.

The three girls talk for a while longer, and Kozuke walks in after politely knocking. “Dinner is ready. Come and seat yourselves in the dining room. The master will not be joining us tonight.”

Aoi yawns, and laughs. “I still can’t believe Kozy made Ochazuke. He really isn’t big on cooking, is he?” She laughs as she eats green tea-soaked rice from the cup in front of her. “I can see why you miss Onee-san.” She laughs.

“I really do.” Madoka sighs and smiles. “Kozy really cares, though.” She covers her mouth, yawning, her eyes looking sleepy.

Kanna grins. “I think he’d make a great husband… but he really needs to work on his culinary skills. His cooking really does ruin the image of the perfect and amazing butler.” She giggles, stretching.

The other two girls seem as worn out as Madoka is. “Why don’t we cut this meal short and head into my room, Kanna-chan… Aoi-chan.” Madoka smiles.

Aoi and Kanna nod, holding back their yawns. “It was an amazing day. We had such a great time with the guys.” Aoi grins. “Idiot pres was actually a little fun now that he wasn’t hitting on you anymore.” Aoi giggles.

“Stop picking on Eiji-kun, Aoi-chi. He’s not so bad, really.” Kanna smiles.

“You know I just like to tease him like everyone else does. Ippei would really make a much better Class President,” she remarks.

“Well next year we know who to vote for.” Kanna grins. “Until then, I think we’re doing just fine with Eiji-kun at the helm.”

The three stand, stretching, and walk out of the dining room and down the hall, bleary eyed, to Madoka’s room. When they get there, they change into the nightshirts they brought with them, and Madoka changes into one of her cute lacy nightgowns, and they climb into Madoka’s bed. Madoka tiredly unstraps the walking brace and climbs in after the other two, and Aoi lays in the middle. When Madoka settles in, Aoi spoons up against her a little, and blushes a bit when Kanna does the same on her other side.

Kanna giggles softly, and Aoi blushes a little; the three relax and enjoy each other’s companionship, and pass out at around the same time, sleeping peacefully.

Yoshi sneaks into the room wheeling Madoka’s wheelchair before him with a scowl. He draws close to the bed and frowns more at the three girls laying in the bed. “Why do I have to sneak around in my own house? I wouldn’t have had to do this if you weren’t here.” He glares at them and grunts a little. Kozuke should be doing this, but Yoshi was unable to find the man, and impatience and fear for the effects of the drug wearing off prematurely have spurred him into action.

Yoshi grabs Madoka by the wrists and gasps as he lifts her up and deposits her into the chair. He’s never had to do this sort of heavy lifting. That was what that useless butler was for. He is seriously considering replacing Kozuke. Kozuke is too close to Madoka, and that won’t do… not anymore. That affection was useful when she was recovering. It had guaranteed that Kozuke would care for his adopted daughter even more dedicatedly than he himself would, but his closeness with her is becoming a liability now, and the man can’t even cook. He can save money by hiring another butler with a full skill set, even if he would have to do the work of two.

Yoshi grunts as he wheels Madoka out of the room as quickly as he can. He has much to do, and little time in which to do it. If his new idea that occurred to him in a fit of genius works out, he might manage to keep control of Madoka, and restore his career as he has been dreaming of. He is far too young and brilliant to retire so soon. Those fools would see how amazing his techniques were. They would revolutionize sex change operations, and completely destroy the gender binary world as humanity knew it.