Chapter Sixteen : The Girl Who Started Over
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Yoshi wheels Madoka into the little room kitted out for surgery and medical procedures. He kicks the door closed behind her, and wheels the chair over to the surgical table. He flips the levers to engage the brakes of the wheelchair and lifts her with effort up onto the table.

“Where is that cursed butler?” he grumbles, his breath wheezing as he positions the girl on the table. He takes a moment, and then begins to remove her clothes carefully, pulling her nightshirt off, followed by her panties. Once that is done, he sets about binding her wrists to the table, followed by her ankles, and then finally her torso. When all seems satisfactory, he wheels over a prepared tray and tears open a package of cotton balls pre-treated with medical disinfectant. He liberally rubs Madoka’s wrist with it and once finished, he carefully inserts an iv needle into the girl’s wrist. He tapes the wrist carefully and then checks the line for air bleeding before connecting an IV hose and starting the drip. He taps the IV bag several times until he’s certain that the slow drip of anesthetic drug will keep her under for the duration.

He does not need her waking up in the middle of the procedure and asking questions. She belongs to him, and there is no reason why he should have to explain himself. It is her duty as his daughter to do what she can for him, her father. No burden is too great to bear for family, and the two of them will be even more close once this procedure is successfully completed. Though this solution to the problem he has might come with its own caveats. The situation is like a rancid can of worms; he has to be honest with himself, but he can see no other solution to the problem, and he has come too far to give up on this investment he has made.

The idea of failure is enough to drive him insane. He has already made one horrible mistake in his life, the mistake he made that night that seems now to have been so very long ago. That horrible mistake that had led to his newfound plan to save his career and his soul, though perhaps he will be forever damned no matter what he does. He does not care, either way, as long as he can continue to explore and develop his art, his techniques. As long as the world sees the value in his work, he will commit many more sins than he already has.

He finds himself thinking about that night, seemingly so long ago, as he prepares the long irregular syringe he has ordered. That night, a year or so ago, he had gotten far more drunk than he ever had in his whole life. He is typically a very sober and serious man, but that had been the night that his colleagues and peers had destroyed him. His life had been ruined by the ignorant fools who claimed that his techniques were too morally incorrect. They were all narrow-minded. They wanted to restrict human understanding of gender. They wanted to keep that understanding binary and ignorant. They wanted to hold back mankind in a gender dark age. His revolutionary techniques can make the world so much better, and make people so much more than just what they were born as or with.

He had been understandably shattered when his licence had been forcibly revoked. He’d gone alone into Tsukuba that night, and Kozuke had found him there in a bar, completely out of his wits. He had cried on the butler’s shoulder. He had told him about his regrets. About his career, and one regret that had haunted him throughout his career. He had never settled down with a woman, and never had a child. It had been uncharacteristic of him to confess so to anyone, least of all his butler. He had lost control of himself in so many ways, it is humiliating to him even now. He had insisted afterwards upon driving himself home, against Kozuke’s strenuous objections for his safety. Kozuke had ended up following in his vehicle while Yoshi had swerved his drunken way home. He’d managed to avoid any wrecks in Tsukuba by his sheer genius and skill of course, but one idiot had sped up and rear ended him when he’d put on the brakes and tried his best to recover his wits. It had been an extremely messy accident. His airbags had engaged; thankfully, Kozuke had not been far behind him.

The butler had successfully extracted him from his car, which wasn’t doing anywhere near as poorly as the vehicle who had clearly hit him. That vehicle had been in flames. Yoshi had stared soberly at the vehicle as Kozuke had run towards the flaming car. He heard a scream coming from inside the vehicle. It sounded like a girl. Kozuke had taken off his jacket and wadded it around his hand, desperately struggling to open the passenger door as he pulled at the handle connected to it. That was where the screams had issued from. Kozuke finally managed to wrench the door open and pull the ruined body of a child from the wreckage. Upon limping up to the wreckage, Yoshi noted that the child’s parents were in a similar state, but they were very much deceased.

“Kozuke… get the fire extinguisher and put this out. It will start a forest fire,” Yoshi had grunted, studying the body of the child. There was no way the child was going to survive the night if she had to wait for an ambulance to arrive. He knew then that he had to act. He would save this child’s life and even take her in, should she prove to have no other family who could do so, of course. He was secretly pleased that he would have an excuse to use his techniques once more, this time to save a life.

Yoshi finishes filling the syringe with a thick white liquid and turns towards the sleeping Madoka with her legs spread apart on the table. It was time to act; he had little time left. Anything could happen to prevent him from doing what he felt he must do.

Kozuke groans as he sits up, yawning. He looks around and frowns. For some reason he has fallen asleep. He thinks about it. He remembers cooking, tasting the soup, thinking it was adequate, though he wishes he could have done better for Madoka and her friends at her first hosted sleepover. It was a massive milestone for her, and he could not be more proud of her. He had been so pleased when Aoi and Kanna had shown up they way they had. Kanna had come through for Madoka, talking to Aoi on her behalf, and now things seemed like they would work out perfectly for Madoka.

He does want to know one thing, however. Why has he fallen asleep? He frowns. He has not done anything so very strenuous that he would be so tired, and yet he clearly remembers feeling drowsy upon completing his cooking and serving duties. Why is that? He is not the kind of man who would fall asleep like that. He is very disciplined and professional, and prides himself on maintaining set schedules no matter how he feels. He never shirks his duties, and always works as hard as possible on everything he does, even though certain of his skills do fall short of perfection.

He stretches and stands and walks out of the back room. He had fallen asleep in a chair, feeling as though he needed a moment’s rest. He resumes his duties with a forced vigor, even though he is still somehow exhausted beyond what is normal. He moves quickly to the master’s chambers and finds them unoccupied. He frowns slightly, checking his watch. It is currently 23:40. As he wanders the mansion in search of the master, thunder rumbles loudly outside. He peeks out a nearby window, noting that a storm is whipping up outside. He eventually finds his way in the Master’s special surgery room. He steps inside, and his eyes widen and he stiffens, noting that Madoka is laying nude on the surgical table, and is strapped down, unconscious. The Master stands over her and an object appears to be inserted between Madoka’s legs.

The master glances up at Kozuke, and back down to his work, dismissing him. “Where were you, Kozuke?” he asks, testily.

Kozuke frowns, staring. “I was… I apologize. I seem to have fallen asleep. It occured after I served the ladies their supper.” he murmurs. “What exactly are you doing with Madoka, Master?” Kozuke asks, and as he does, he feels anxiety creep into his heart.

“Oh… that makes sense. My fault, I’m afraid. Give me a hand here,” Master Yoshi grumbles.

“With what?” Kozuke asks again.

“I don’t have to explain myself to you, butler.” The master glares at Kozuke.

Kozuke frowns. “With all due respect, sir, I think that you do. As far as I knew there was no other surgical procedure needed. Madoka is a fully functioning female and no other procedures are needed. You said so yourself. What are you doing with her?” Kozuke reaches out and grips the Master’s arm firmly, his eyes becoming steely.

“Well, now. You do have a backbone, Kozuke. Very well, If you must know, I’m inseminating her. It’s the only way I can keep custody over her. If I can’t keep custody as her father, surely I will be able to as the father of her child. It’s a beautiful plan. She will truly be my family. I’ll have the child I always wanted, and more than that, my career will be saved. When everyone sees her bring a child to term and give birth to it without requiring a caesarean section, they will herald me as the genius I truly am.” Master Yoshi’s eyes shine with pride, eagerness, and perhaps more than a little insanity.

“That… that is reprehensible! You are morally corrupt! First you caused the accident that killed Madoka’s parents, and now you do this! What further sins are you willing to soil Madoka with?” Kozuke clenches his fist around Master Yoshi’s with an iron hard grip. The fury in his expression is boundless. Master Yoshi looks into his expression and winces in pain.

“What are you doing, fool? You’re hurting me! I’ve had enough of your bumbling stupidity, Kozuke. You are dismissed.” Master Yoshi glares into Kozuke’s eyes and Kozuke glares at him.

“I don’t care, you old fool. Take that thing out of Madoka, or I will do worse to you!” Kozuke grates.

Master Yoshi scowls and reaches quickly to a nearby tool rack and removes a scalpel. With no hesitation he brings it down on Kozuke’s wrist. Kozuke screams loudly, his fingers reflexively releasing Master Yoshi’s wrist, leaving behind a bruise in the aged man’s flesh.

“Leave now, you stupid butler, or I will call the police,” Yoshi threatens, wielding the scalpel.

Kozuke lightly steps around the medical table, angrier now. “I’ve put up with your foolishness for too long. I will not allow you to ruin Madoka’s life. You have by some miracle done right by her until now, but if this is what you intend, I will not permit it.” Kozuke reaches between Madoka’s legs and carefully pulls the syringe free of her, looking at Master Yoshi the entire time. Once it is removed, he throws it away, his teeth bared.

“It’s too late, you idiot. The job is done. Now all that’s left is to wait and see if it takes.” Master Yoshi grins, waving the scalpel, taunting Kozuke.

Kozuke’s eyes widen and his face goes white as he glances down towards Madoka with horror in his expression. “That can’t be!” he gasps.

Aoi shakes herself awake slowly. Her head feels groggy and her body feels heavy. Something feels very wrong to her. She looks around, her eyes burn and her head hurts. Aoi dully examines her surroundings, once again impressed, but it doesn’t last when her eyes fall on Kanna and note that Madoka is missing from where she fell asleep. She shakes her head, and looks over at the bedside, spotting Madoka’s walking brace. She frowns as she sees it. Has Madoka decided that she’s strong enough that she doesn’t need the brace anymore? She smiles a little, thinking that it would be wonderful if that was the case, but something still feels wrong to her.

She sits up and gets unsteadily to her feet, and walks into the bathroom. Madoka might be in there. It is a short enough distance that she could conceivably make it in without going to the trouble of wearing her braces. She walks in and it’s completely dark inside. She flips a light switch and looks around. Madoka is nowhere in sight. Her heart flips over, doing butterflies. A loud rumbling noise shocks her for a moment, and she recognizes the crack of thunder. She paces back into the room and walks to a window next and sees and hears rain drumming rhythmically against the window. A flash of light outside is followed by another loud crack of thunder. She sees the wind is blowing wildly. She crosses her arms in front of her, feeling creeped out. She wants to find Madoka.

She turns to the bed and gently shakes Kanna. “Kanna-chan… wake up!” she says loudly. Kanna grumbles and moans a little in her sleep, not budging. Aoi shakes her more firmly, and finally Kanna’s eyelids flutter open, and she winces. “Ughh… my head… Aoi-chi… why did you wake me up in the middle of the night?” she yawns and stretches lightly.

“Madoka is missing,” Aoi replies quickly, her anxiety clearly conveyed by her tone. Kanna looks at her with a tired little frown.

“She’s gone? Why? I mean why is that a problem?” Kanna asks. “It’s her house, right? She can do whatever she wants here.”

“Yes… but… something doesn’t feel right. I feel like she’s in trouble… I can’t shake the feeling. I feel sick.” Aoi shivers.

“That’s probably Kozy’s cooking,” Kanna supplies helpfully.

Aoi smiles faintly, but shakes her head. “I don’t think so. I mean it wasn’t until after we had dinner that we felt so sleepy… but I don’t think we really ate so much that we’d be so affected by his cooking… and I’d think it’d be a little more embarrassing of a reaction than falling asleep.” Aoi blushes.

“You’re right.” Kanna giggles. “So you’re going to do… what? Wander around in your friend’s home until you find her?”

“Yes. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. Something tells me I have to.” Aoi scowls and just then an extra loud crack of thunder seems to rock the house with its intensity. Kanna screams and buries her head under a pillow.

“Oh, knock that off, Kanna. It’s just a rainstorm. Don’t worry about it. Come with me,” Aoi says as she walks over to where her boken is.

“Are you going like that? In your nightgown?” Kanna mutters. “Why do I even have to go with you? I think I’d rather just go back to sleep,” she groans.

“Suit yourself, Kanna. I’m leaving.” Aoi takes a deep breath and squares her shoulders and walks over towards the door to the bedroom. Another crack of thunder sounds outside and Kanna clambers over quickly behind Aoi, practically hugging her.

“I don’t like lightning, Aoi-chi…” she mewls.

“It’s called thunder, silly.” Aoi rolls her eyes and reaches behind her to pat Kanna. “I’ll protect you from the nasty thunder. Come on.” She moves forward, and Kanna follows her with a grateful smile.

“I knew I could count on you, you’re so manly, Aoi-chi,” Kanna teases.

“Keep talking like that. I’ll use my boken on you first.” Aoi smiles.

“Eeeppp… no thanks. But what if there are ghosts? Aren’t there supposed to be ghosts in big old buildings like this?” Kanna asks, biting her lip.

“If there are, I’ll hit them. Really hard,” Aoi replies.

“Oh… that makes sense, I guess.” Kanna frowns dubiously as she follows Aoi.

Kozuke turns back towards the master, rage again in his eyes, in time to see the small medical monitor screen hurled at him. He tries to sidestep it, but it strikes a glancing blow on his head. Pain erupts, filling his mind, and his vision crosses and becomes hazy as his knees give out and he collapses to them on the floor of the surgery room. He puts a hand to his head, and feels the trickle of hot blood around his fingers. He gasps, staring at his fingers with double vision, and looks up at the master who stands before him.

“Master… don’t do this… to her…” Kozuke reaches out in a desperate attempt to grab the master’s legs and disable him. The master steps backwards and lifts his foot quickly. The foot catches Kozuke in the jaw, rattling his brain. He feels his eyes roll up as his lower jaw grinds painfully against his upper, and all is black.

Yoshi drives the toe of his boot firmly into the jaw of the butler, and as he does so his eyes widen. “What have I done? I… I had to get him out of the way. He was interfering. He wouldn’t leave!” Yoshi paces anxiously, his eyes wildly searching the room. The man could be dead. What am I to do? The accident over a year ago had clearly not been his fault, but the fault for this situation can easily be laid at his feet. If the man recovers, he might testify that Yoshi has acted illicitly.

He briefly considers disposing of Kozuke, but he hesitates. He isn’t that crazy, or is he? He chews his lip, and paces relentlessly, his gaze shifting from the prone body of Madoka to Kozuke. A pool of blood already surrounds his head where a nasty gash was opened by medical monitor he threw at the man. “It’s your fault, you incompetent fool. You should have remained loyal! I’ve put up with your horrible cooking and your inane doting on the girl this long. You owed me!” he screams. As his crazed eyes fall on Kozuke an interesting idea comes to him. Perhaps Kozuke would make an excellent subject for his next experiments. He might make a lovely woman with those rugged, though prematurely aged looks of his. He might even dabble a little in some very mild neurosurgery. He grins, down at the body, failing to notice the two girls peeking around the doorframe nearby, their eyes wide with horror.

Aoi and Kanna have wandered the mansion, in search for anyone who could answer questions. Aoi wields her boken in both hands, her stance ready as she moves from room to room, her eyes scanning for trouble. Every time the thunder rolls outside, Kanna jumps and squeaks, pressing firmly against Aoi’s back. “If you cling like that, Kanna, I won’t be able to react if something happens. Just relax a little,” Aoi whispers, desperate to calm the blonde girl.

“I’m sorry, Aoi-chi… I’m just… really afraid right now,” Kanna sniffles in response to her friend’s gentle chiding. “This is really scary,” she murmurs.

“I know. I…” Aoi has walked around a corner, glancing into another room, and her eyes widen. She suppresses a gasp and pushes Kanna back, peeking around the corner at the scene. Kozuke stands facing off against Yoshi. “It’s too late, you idiot. The job is done. Now all that’s left is to wait and see if it takes.” Master Yoshi grins at the greying butler, waving a scalpel.

Kozuke’s eyes widen and he looks at Madoka sprawled out on the surgical table and bound there with an expression of horror and worry. Why is she on a surgical table? Why is there a surgical table here? This is incredibly creepy! Aoi thinks to herself.

She hears a gasp over her shoulder as Kanna peeks and Aoi reaches back and slaps her hand over Kanna’s mouth. “Keep quiet, Kanna!” Aoi snaps under her breath, watching as Master Yoshi grabs a nearby medical monitor. He quickly disconnects the cables, and as Kozuke turns back to face him, Yoshi throws it as hard as he can at Kozuke’s face. Aoi gasps, her arm outstretched her mouth open wide as she sees Kozuke dodge, but too late. The monitor strikes Kozuke on the temple, opening a large gash in his head. The blow staggers the butler, and she sees blood begin to run down his face as he stares at his master, dazed.

He collapses to his knees, his legs shaking. He puts a hand to his head and touches it. When he pulls his fingers away they are drenched in his blood. He looks up at the master again. 

“Master… don’t do this… to her…” he gasps, reaching out with seemingly renewed desperation and anger to grab at Master Yoshi’s legs. The master steps backwards and launches his foot up in a kick that catches the dazed butler’s jaw. Aoi winces hearing the sharp click of his teeth grinding. She sees his eyes roll up into his head as he collapses on the floor. The master stares down at him, seemingly stunned by what has happened.

Aoi looks at Kanna. “I don’t know what’s going on, but if he’s attacking Kozuke, he’s got to be the bad guy here.” Aoi grits her teeth.

Kanna nods. Tears are falling down her cheeks as she stares at the scene. “What can we do?” she whispers. “We should run! He’s insane!” she gasps, terrified.

Aoi shakes her head, gently putting a hand to Kanna’s cheek. “Calm down. You go and call the police. I will deal with him. Go. Now!” Aoi barks quietly. Kanna stares at her for a moment moment, seeming torn; finally she nods and dashes away, her hot tears falling down her face as she runs.

Aoi feels her heart racing as she looks back into the room. The Master has bent down to pull Kozuke into a corner of the room. Aoi’s grip tightens on her boken and she strides into the room quickly, her eyes narrowed and focused on the back of the bony old man. Something tells her she should get the fight over with and disable the old man as quietly as possible. As she strides forward, her foot slips in the pool of blood Kozuke left. She gasps and recovers her stride, but the noise makes Yoshi stiffen and turn towards her.

“Oh, it’s just you. What do you think you’re going to do with that boken?” He grins at her, his eyes wild. He looks like his sanity has completely deserted him. “You’re a pretty one, aren’t you?” His eyes pan around for a weapon, and finding none, he simply smiles, a vestige of sanity crossing his expression momentarily.

“Calm down. I’m a doctor. I can fix this. He’ll be just fine. Trust me.” He grins.

“What about Madoka?” Aoi asks, waving her boken threateningly.

The master scowls. “What about her? That’s none of your business.” He grimaces.

“What were you doing to her?” Aoi asks. “What was it that Kozuke was trying to keep you from doing?”

“Also none of your business. Leave now, or I will have you ejected.” The master smiles coldly.

“I’m not leaving her with you, you crazy old man!” Aoi steps forward, and the master carefully steps back. Suddenly he lunges at Aoi, and Aoi gasps as she sidesteps. He manages to get a hand on her wrist and a gleeful expression crosses his face.

“I can use you for spare parts.” he mutters, his expression wild. “It won’t work as well if the subjects aren’t genetically compatible, but it’s for science. Surely you won’t mind giving your life to ensure that humanity can advance and improve itself.” He reaches for Aoi with his other hand quickly as Aoi tries to free her wrist. 

Aoi’s eyes flatten and she deliberately brings the boken up between the master’s legs. There’s a crunching noise and his eyes widen, drool leaks from the corner of his mouth as he groans and his legs wobble. Somehow he focuses his eyes and stares with pure hatred and indignation at Aoi. “You will pay for that…” he squeaks, and lunges for her madly. With the strategy element removed from his attacks, Aoi is able to sidestep him now and she brings her boken down on him in a series of movements that make him cry out in pain. Her boken flashes into his side, stabs into his back, strikes his head. He cries out and spins to face her and lunge at her again. “A silly toy sword like that isn’t going to do… anything to me,” he growls, and and throws himself at her legs. She dances backwards, but he manages to catch her feet and she goes down, slipping once again in Kozuke’s blood.

She screams as she falls to the floor. Her boken clatters away out of her reach. The man’s grip on her ankle feels like steel. She kicks him fiercely, delivering blows to his face and his arm and hand with her foot. She isn’t wearing shoes, so the blows are a little softer than she would like, but he still grunts in pain as he scrabbles to grab the leg she’s kicking with. After a particularly good kick to his jaw, he manages to clasp his free hand around her other ankle, and Aoi’s eyes widen in horror as he pulls himself up her body, laying on top of her to disable her legs.

He spots something on the floor nearby and with glee he grasps the scalpel he cut Kozuke’s wrist with earlier. Aoi slams her fists into him as she scrambles wildly for her boken, just out of reach. “Get off of me, you crazy bastard!” Aoi grates, slamming her palm against the tenacious crazed old man’s face. Her repeated blows break his nose and and he gasps as blood pours from his wounded nostrils. He raises the scalpel with his free hand, and suddenly stabs down into her leg with a malicious grin. The scalpel plunges deeply into her thigh.

Aoi screams and her fingers twitch convulsively. “Ahhhhhhghhh!” She grits her teeth, tears falling from her cheeks. The old man pulls the scalpel free and prepares to stab her again, this time aiming for her torso. Suddenly Aoi’s scrabbling hand contacts the boken. She inches it over with her fingertips and grips the handle, swinging the boken down towards the old man’s head viciously. The blow takes him full alongside the head. He drops the scalpel midway through its next downstroke and it falls away, scoring her torso before it clatters on the floor. The feel of the blade slicing her skin causes her to scream loudly. She draws the boken back again and launches a strike at the old man’s carotid in his neck as he makes a last grab for the dropped scalpel. The old man stiffens finally, and he collapses on top of her.

Aoi lies back on the floor, her breath coming in ragged gasps, and she grips her boken tightly. Aoi lies there, exhausted, as she sees Kanna tentatively approach her, her eyes wide. She holds her cellphone clasped in her hands in front of her in an anxious position.

Kanna stares down at Aoi in horror, holding her cellphone anxiously in front of her. Finally she sets her phone down on the surgical table between Madoka’s legs. Her eyes widen as she looks at Madoka, and she blushes slightly with embarrassment for her friend. She needs to address Aoi’s situation first, she feels. Kanna bends down and helps to pull Master Yoshi off of Aoi. Aoi grunts and strains to help, though she is shaking understandably after the ordeal she has gone through. They manage to roll the old man off and Aoi sits up, wincing and crying a little.

Kanna gasps, noticing her bleeding thigh and the long jagged cut along her torso. “Oh this is not good… ummm…” She stands and dances from foot to foot as she looks around. She spots a box of surgical gauze with some medical tape nearby and disinfectant alcohol. She carries them quickly to Aoi and kneels down, tears falling from her eyes as she looks down at her friend’s wounds.

“Sit tight, Aoi-chi… I’ll bandage you,” she murmurs.

“Worry about Madoka-chan… I’m alright.” Aoi grits her teeth around the pain, and wipes her cheek with a blood stained hand.

“Stupid! She’s fine for now. You’re the one that’s bleeding!” Kanna screams.

Aoi scowls a little and blushes, looking down embarrassedly. “You’re right.” she covers her face with her hands and cries. When Kanna pours the alcohol over her wound she shrieks, but her tears continue.

“That bastard… I just know that bastard did something to Madoka-chan!” she sobs softly as Kanna dabs the blood away with gauze and then sets to tightly taping the makeshift bandage around her thigh.

“There’s nothing we can do about that, Aoi-chi.” Kanna says firmly, chewing her lip. She turns her attention to Aoi’s torso when she finishes taping her leg and treats the wound there. Aoi bites back another scream, her body shaking a little as Kanna cleans the wound and rubs alcohol on it. After a bit she bandages her friend’s torso, though the bandage is much more clumsy and less secure looking.

Aoi’s eyes fall on Master Yoshi. “What if he wakes up while you’re doing that? We need to tie him up now!” Aoi chews her lip.

“Just stay there, Aoi-chi. I’ll take care of binding the jerk.” Kanna murmurs, moving over to Master Yoshi’s prone body. She struggles to flip him over and then pulls his arms behind him and starts firmly wrapping his wrists in surgical tape. She expends the entire roll firmly binding the old man’s hands behind him. When she finishes she sighs heavily and looks at Kozuke, horrified. “Oh Kami… Kozy!” she gasps. 

Suddenly the police run into the room, guns at the ready. When they see the situation they train their weapons on the girls.

“What happened here?” an officer with reddish dark hair asks, looking around. Kanna looks at him and squeaks a little before answering.

“I was the one who called, officer. Sir… I’m Tsukimi Kanna,” she bows a little. “This mean old master almost killed us! Kozy needs help! His head is hurt really badly! The old man stabbed my friend Aoi.” 

“I… it’s true, officer,” Aoi mumbles. “He did something to the girl on the table… our friend Madoka. We don’t know what it was. Kozuke-san was trying to protect her. The old man violently assaulted us.”

The man nods and lowers his weapon. “Alright. We have a paramedic here. We’ve got two injured, two unconscious and hemorrhaging,” the man yells, and studies Aoi and Kozuke lying some distance away. He walks over to the surgical table, and puts fingers to Madoka’s neck and sighs. “She’s alright…” he murmurs, seemingly relieved.

Two paramedics rush in with a stretcher. They carry it in between them and unfold it, as they look around the room. “Wow… look at all of this equipment,” one whistles before looking at Aoi and Kozuke. He elects to move to Kozuke and check his vitals, while the other kneels next to Aoi.

“This is the home of Dr. Hamada Yoshi,” the man with dark red hair murmurs. “Isn’t that correct?” he asks Kanna.

Kanna nods. “He’s supposed to be Madoka-chi’s papa,” she says with a sad and anxious expression. The man nods in response.

“Was he abusive?” he inquires gently.

“I don’t know… but Madoka-chi never really spoke that poorly of him. I think he went crazy tonight.” He nods, removes a pad of paper and a pen from his belt, and starts scribbling notes on it.

Madoka wakes up with a horrible headache the next day in a hospital bed. Her eyes flutter open and she winces at the sensations of discomfort. Her head aches, her stomach aches, her crotch hurts a little. She sees Aoi nearby in a chair, her head leaning down on the bed and her hair spilling around her on the soft white of the hospital sheets. Madoka reaches out and gently strokes Aoi’s hair, feeling very confused about why they’re here, but she doesn’t want to wake Aoi up for some reason, so she strokes her head lovingly.

Not much later, a soft knock comes at the door. “Come in,” Madoka says softly.

The door opens and Uchida Saito pokes his head in. “Sorry to disturb you, Madoka-chan… it’s been a while, hasn’t it?” he says, his tone lame.

Madoka smiles and shakes her head. “No… it’s alright. Can you tell me why we’re here?” she asks, feeling puzzled.

“Well…” Saito steps in, and closes the door behind him. “It’s complicated. Are you mentally prepared to hear everything? Your friends gave a full statement on what happened, and when Kozuke woke up, dazed, he was able to fill in a few more of the blanks before he fell asleep again. He has a pretty severe head trauma.” Saito steps over to the bed and puts his hand tentatively on Madoka’s. Madoka doesn’t move her hand away, looking up into his eyes questioningly.

“Tell me,” she asks him gently.

He hesitates, running his other hand’s fingers through his hair. “Please don’t have another PTSD episode…” he sighs. “Look… Senpai went crazy last night. He drugged you all, dragged you into his surgery room, and performed…” Saito puts his hand to his stomach, looking sick for a moment. “An artificial insemination.”

Madoka looks at him blankly and then her eyes widen. “What… does that mean?” she asks, already having an idea.

“Senpai inseminated you… with his own semen,” Saito says, looking away. “I’m ashamed of him. I have no idea what he was intending. No one knows. Until he confesses, in any case. He’s still out cold in another hospital room.” When he notices the alarm in Madoka’s eyes, he shakes his head. “He’s tightly bound. Standard procedure for suspects of violent crimes. As soon as his health warrants it, he’ll be moved to a jail cell until he goes on trial. This is likely going to ruin him, not that I care anymore.” He sighs.

Madoka’s face has long since crumpled up after hearing his words. She feels disgusted and filthy. “He… violated me?” she asks, tears already flowing down from her eyes. Saito gently runs his hand over her arm and she flinches this time.

“Yes… and no. He used an insemination syringe. The goal was the same, however. I’m afraid it’s unclear as to whether or not you’ll become pregnant,” Saito murmurs.

“Get it out of me! Please!” Madoka gasps, crying. Aoi groans a little and sits up, rubbing her eyes. When she sees Madoka’s expression she looks over to Saito, and her expression becomes stricken.

“Did you have to tell her everything right away? Oh, kami!” she exclaims, standing quickly and reaching over to hug Madoka as she cries loudly.

“I did,” Saito said simply. “I want to apologize for Senpai, but there is no excuse for what he has done to you. There’s a lot more we know now, and I think it would be unfair to tell you everything in one shot. It’s pretty horrible.” Saito sighs. “She had to know about the insemination, however. Abortion is a possibility. It may not have been if Yoshi hadn’t been caught… he may have had a legal precedent to prevent it if he covered his tracks… but this is clearly rape, no matter how he did it. You definitely qualify under Japanese law. The better news is, according to the doctors, these kinds of insemination procedures have very low chances of taking. You aren’t ovulating yet, so the odds are even lower.” He sighs.

Madoka feels Aoi’s arms around her, rocking her gently as she cries.

“I’m done doing the doctor’s job. Now I need to do mine,” Saito says, standing straighter. “Yoshi is an unfit guardian for you. As such, unless someone steps forward to adopt you, the government will be taking custody of you. There isn’t anything I can do about that, Madoka-chan. I’m so sorry.”

Madoka starts sobbing even more audibly, and Aoi glares at Saito. “Don’t you have a heart?” she gasps.

“I do. I also have a job to do. I’m telling you now so you can make plans. If someone adopts her, the problem is solved. I don’t want to separate her from the life she’s managed to create here. I know what she’s gone through far better than most.” He wipes his eye, and looks surprised to find that he himself is crying.

Aoi sighs and snuggles Madoka. “I think I have an idea,” she says softly. “A really really good one.”

Uchida Saito faces down a hospital administrator. “The girl doesn’t need to be here. She’s occupying a bed and there is no medical reason for it. Staying in the hospital longer isn’t going to get her the results of her pregnancy test any faster,” the administrator insists.

“Don’t be like that. She has emotional trauma, and there’s a custody issue right now. She really has nowhere else to go until Social Services decides what to do in her case,” Saito protests. He fixes his expression into a pleasant smile. He is in for a fight, it seems.

Several days later, Aoi is staying with Madoka in the hospital, keeping her company, and Kanna is visiting. She hasn’t been released, pending the diagnosis regarding her pregnancy, though Aoi was released after her wounds were re-treated by the hospital staff, or so she had said.

A knock sounds at the door, and the girls turn towards the door, with expectant smiling faces. “Come in!” Aoi calls out. The face that pops in is Saito’s again, however.

“Hello, girls.” He bows as he steps inside.

“Oh, it’s you.” Aoi frowns.

“You shouldn’t be so hard on him, Aoi-chi,” Kanna chides Aoi, and Aoi shrugs in response. Madoka waves wanly.

“How are you doing, Madoka-chan? Tsukimi-san, Wada-san,” Saito asks with a straight face.

“A little better, I guess,” Madoka responds. “We still don’t know whether or not…” she trails off and bites her lip. Kanna reaches out and hugs Madoka fiercely.

“It’s okay, Madoka-chi… have faith, it’ll all work out. If it doesn’t they can fix it,” she says softly, stroking Madoka’s hair soothingly. Madoka nods, sniffling a little.

“I hate to be the bearer of more bad news, but Social Services wants you placed as soon as possible. They feel as though you’ve been through so much now that you should be taken into custody sooner than later.” He sighs and looks apologetically at the girls.

The girls look at each other. “Wait… isn’t Madoka-chi the heir to Master Yoshi? What I mean is shouldn’t she get the mansion and his money if he goes to jail?” she asks.

“I’d normally say so, but the state was on the verge of taking her out of his custody, so that could be a bit of a sticky legal mess. I want to say that yes, if he gets a steep sentence, and I think he will for operating without a licence, rape and vehicular manslaughter charges, and…”

“He did all of that?” Madoka gasps. The other two girls eyes widen. Saito curses softly under his breath. “Okay… this is a part of what I couldn’t tell you before… it’s going to hurt you. Probably a lot.” Saito approaches the bed and pulls up a chair.

Madoka hugs herself, and Kanna continues to stroke her hair softly. Aoi hobbles gingerly around the bed, leaning on it as she goes. She puts herself between Saito and Madoka with a glare as she takes Madoka’s hand.

“Just leave her alone,” Aoi murmurs through clenched teeth.

“No… I want to know,” Madoka says, putting her hand on Aoi’s arm. Madoka looks up into Aoi’s eyes and Aoi nods, squeezing her arm.

“If you’re sure,” Saito murmurs. “I’m not the bad guy here… please don’t treat me like I am. All I wanted to do was help the senpai that I respected.” He sighs. “Look… Yoshi was responsible for the car accident that put you into a coma and claimed the lives of your parents. We’re pretty sure it was an accident. He was, however, directly responsible for their deaths.”

Madoka gasps and grips Aoi’s arm firmly. Aoi winces a little bit reaches out and strokes Madoka’s hair. “Are you sure?” she asks.

“Yes. We’re very sure. The bodies disappeared on site. It’s presumed that he disposed of one and used the other for his experimental procedures. On you.” Saito clasps his hands, looking straight at Madoka.

“What does that mean? He dropped my dad off in a ditch somewhere? Or my mom?” Madoka asks, her voice small and shaky.

“Possibly. It means that the female organs in your body were donated by your mother. It seems likely that a close genetic match would make such a surgery feasible with his techniques.” Saito sighs.

“Are you serious? That’s incredibly twisted!” Aoi gasps. “Just how screwed up was this old bastard?”

Madoka responds to this news by curling up and sobbing. Aoi and Kanna hug her and comfort her as Saito watches with sad eyes.

“Back to the reason why I’m visiting.” Saito says, his tone serious. He has given the girls time to relax and calm down, and thankfully Madoka hasn’t shown any signs of having triggered PTSD, thanks to the gentle comforting of her two friends.

“The state is going be taking you into custody later today. Be prepared; I need to drive you to an orphanage. You’re from Tokyo originally, so you’re in their jurisdiction. This means sadly you’ll be separated from your friends.” He keeps his expression firm at this point.

“What? No! No!!!” Madoka gasps loudly. “I don’t want to go… i’m… I’m happy here…” she trails off, and sobs again, looking back and forth between her friends. Suddenly a knock comes at the door and the three look quickly towards it again; hope shines in Aoi’s expression.

Hisako Midoriyama hesitates at the door as she prepares to knock. There will be no going back if she steps through this door. She is a young woman with her life ahead of her. If she moves forward, she will be committed to taking care of someone for the first time in her life outside of a job. That is a very big deal, and it will mean huge lifestyle changes for her. Am I ready for this? Can I handle it responsibly? It’s true that she will only be in high school for a few more years, but she’ll have a home with me for the rest of her life. She’ll be my family. Plus she’ll be Aoi’s family. They’ll be cousins technically. This is going to complicate things for their love life.

She sighs and her expression firms, becoming resolute. Madoka deserves more than she has gotten in life so far. She deserves a realsecond chance. She deserves to be someone’s daughter in reality. After hearing the story, her heart has gone out to Madoka even more. She had no idea how horrible the situation was when she walked out of the mansion. She had left due to vague moral issues that she couldn’t cope with. This situation was so many levels of horrible compared with that vague sense of wrongness. She finds that she wants to make a difference in Madoka’s life even more than before, perhaps because of it. She feels that she is ready. Her new career is on track, and she has even made preparations to welcome the girl, though thankfully she has things that can be moved from the mansion to spare certain expenses.

She knocks and then opens the door. As she enters, she studies the three girls, the two hugging Madoka, all three with tears in their eyes. She notices Social Saito sitting in the room and smiles at him. “Oh… nice to see you again, Sai-kyo.” She grins teasingly at the man. Saito looks back at her and blushes slightly.

“Why do you call me that?” he asks, looking a little annoyed, but smiling nonetheless.

“Because you seemed like a great guy.” She chuckles, walking over to the bed.

“Oh…” he grins. “In that case, maybe you might like to meet somewhere for a cup of tea?” he asks.

“That might be nice.” Hisako winks. “I kind of have my heart set on another handsome guy though. Assuming he’ll man up and notice.” She grins.

“Who might that be?” Saito asks, looking obviously disappointed. 

“It’s a secret.” Hisako puts a finger over her lips with a little smile.

“Auntie!” Aoi finally exclaims and rushes over to hug Hisako.

“Umphh...” Hisako gasps as she’s hugged super tightly. “It’s Onee-chan, not Auntie. I’m not an old lady!” she chides Aoi, running fingers through her hair with a fond smile.

“You came! Does that mean you’ve decided to do it?” Aoi looks up into Hisako’s eyes and she nods in response.

“Yes. I have. I still have time, I hope?” she asks, looking at Saito.

“Time for what?” Saito asks her, looking puzzled.

“Time to adopt my new daughter, of course,” Hisako says with a warm smile for Madoka.

The smile that blooms on Madoka’s face at that moment could substitute easily for the sun in those moments. She gets up onto her knees and quickly glomps Hisako too.

“Really? Really?” Madoka cries and smiles at the same time, overwhelmed.

“Yes, really, Sugar,” she says softly, petting the girl’s hair.

“You can call me Mama if you like… but I still prefer Onee-chan.” She grunts a little as the two girls cry and squeeze her torso.

Kanna breaks down and cries too, rushing around the bed and joining in the group hug. The four women start laughing and sniffling as they all hold each other.

As Saito watches, even he starts crying. Manly tears, of course.

After that, Hisako fills out the appropriate paperwork, and Saito streamlines the process to such a large degree that she does not have to go to an orphanage even temporarily. She is able to move in immediately with Hisako, her new mama, although she wouldn’t call her that to her face… often.

Hisako arranges to have Madoka’s clothes moved from the mansion to her room in Midoriyama’s apartment. The size of the room is a 6J, 6 tatami lengths by 6, and is considerably smaller than the deluxe room that she enjoyed in the mansion. It does not have a beautiful garden, nor does it have a swimming pool, but it is home, and Madoka loves it.

Madoka keeps her lighted makeup desk, leaving the oversized wardrobe behind, while bringing most of its contents with her. Good clothes that fit her and were tailored specifically for her are worth quite a bit. She will establish her own identity over time as she becomes more and more comfortable with being a girl. Having choices and options is a good thing! Madoka still wears the walking brace, feeling entitled to it at least, even though it’s an expensive piece of equipment. No one seems inclined to challenge her claim to it.

She wants to take her bed, but unfortunately the 6J room will only support a single bed. She sleeps on a futon for now, and other than potentially having a few extra difficulties with getting up in the morning, she can’t be happier. Upon arriving at the apartment that is now her new home, true to her previous words, Hisako-mama has sternly asked her to refer to her as Onee-chan when they’re private, though she doesn’t always hold Madoka to it.

“You can call me Mama all you want when we’re in public.” She blushes, hugging Madoka. Madoka smiles a pleased smile and hugs Hisako-mama tightly.

Love is the best part of living with Hisako-mama. Every day she feels loved -- not that Kozy hadn’t made her feel loved, he had. He’d made her feel really loved. I hope Kozy will be okay. Thinking about him makes Madoka feel sad. He is still pretty messed up from the head trauma, but he is recovering, the doctors say.

The next best part of living with her is the amazing food. Hisako-mama was amazing before, but she is becoming kami-like with her new job working as a line-chef at a local hotel. The meals are to squee for!

The downside the situation is that she still doesn’t know whether or not she is pregnant and that puts a slight dark cloud over all the happiness that has suddenly entered into her life. When she feels sad, Hisako-mama comforts her and cuddles her, and it helps her, making her feel like everything will be alright.

About a week later, receiving news from the hospital about Kozy, Madoka and Hisako-mama go to see him. Madoka winces as she enters the hospital. It brings back some sad memories, but she walks alongside Hisako-mama quickly. She barely seems to need the brace anymore, though she wears it because she gets sore without it, and continues to adjust it each day so she’ll grow stronger.

They go up a few floors in an elevator, and over to the desk for the IC Unit. The nurse on duty looks up at them questioningly. “How can I help you, ladies?” she asks.

“We’re here to visit Hashiba Kozuke, please.” Hisako-mama smiles.

“Hashiba-san… ah yes… he’s in room thirty four. Follow this corridor, make a left at the first intersection and then a right. You’ll find thirty four on the right.” She gestures.

“Thank you.” Hisako-mama smiles and bows slightly and takes Madoka’s hand and leads her away down the hall. Madoka smiles as she’s gripped by her warm hand.

They follow the directions and have no problems finding the correct room. Midoriyama knocks on the sliding door.

“Come.” Kozy’s voice is audible inside. Hisako-mama pushes the door open and the two women enter. Madoka looks around, curiously, though her eyes go to Kozuke lying in the medical bed. She sees the bandages on his head and winces at the sight, her eyes filling with tears. Suddenly she rushes forward, letting go of Hisako-mama’s hand, and hugs Kozy awkwardly.

“I’m sorry you got hurt for me.” Madoka cries softly, hugging him. Kozuke winces slightly but smiles warmly and strokes the girl’s hair. “It’s alright, Sugar. There’s a good girl.” He smiles. “It’s a pleasure to take a wound for such a lovely young lady. On a serious note, I am truly sorry that I was not able to rescue you. I hear that the lovely Wada-san did that.” He pets Madoka’s hair and looks up at Hisako-mama and his smile becomes more awkward.

“Yes.. Aoi was amazing,” Madoka says, though Kozy’s attention isn’t on her now.

“Midoriyama.” Kozy nods his head. Hisako-mama smiles, walking over and places her hand warmly on his. “Thank you for taking care of my daughter,” she says softly. “You’re the best kind of man.”

“I…” He blushes at that response, seemingly at a loss for words. “Wait… your daughter?” he asks her.

“Yes. I adopted Madoka-chan.” She winks.

“Are you certain that you can handle that kind of responsibility?” His eyes narrow a little.

“I’m not that bad Kozy. Give me some credit. I’ll be a great parent.” She grins.

“Forgive me if I check in once in a while to be sure of it,” he teases and chuckles.

Hisako-mama blushes and scowls. “I suppose I can’t stop you, then, can I? You’ll probably ask me to feed you too?”

“Naturally.” He grins eagerly. Hisako’s face softens into a smile. Madoka looks back and forth between them and suddenly grins, herself. This could be really good!

Several days later, when she has gotten used to living with Hisako-mama, she goes back to the hospital once more for a final checkup. She is shown into a room equipped with gynecology equipment, and experiences it for the first time. It feels horribly awkward, but by now she’s used to the idea of being a girl, and each new experience like this that she has only validates the fact that she is now a girl, and that doesn’t bother her at all.

The gynecologist examines her fully, and at the end of it, she smiles at Madoka.

“Wonderful news. You’re in excellent health, You won’t need your walking brace much longer, and finally, and most importantly… the insemination did not take,” she says to Madoka.

Madoka’s eyes widen and she starts crying loudly. Hisako-mama, who had insisted on being present for her daughter’s examination, bends down and hugs Madoka tightly.

“Oh, thank kami that bullet was dodged.” Hisako-mama sighs softly. “I’m not ready to be a grandmother.” She shivers.

The following Monday, Madoka wakes up early, stretching and yawning. She snuggles in her comfy futon for an extra five minutes. Hisako-mama knocks on her door loudly.

“Sugar… wake up!” she calls out loudly. “You need to get ready for school! Breakfast will be waiting for you downstairs, okay?”

“Yes, M… Onee-chan…” Madoka yawns and sits up in her futon, stretching. She climbs to her feet and rubs the sleep out of her eyes as she walks over to her closet. She pulls her uniform down from the hanger it’s been waiting on, and she hesitates only a moment before getting a fresh pair of underwear from the neat cubbies she has for storage in her closet as well as a fresh pair of kneesocks. She stands balanced on one leg as she pulls first one kneesock on and then the other, showing more finesse in doing so than she has before.

She lifts her legs and tugs up the cute blue panties with white stripes on it. The panties hug her hips so nicely. She pulls on the matching bra and straps it firmly behind her, tucking her breasts inside. She takes a moment to look at herself in her makeup mirror and dances lightly, with a smile. She looks and feels great! Madoka pulls on the rest of her uniform, the blouse, the skirt, the jacket, and finishes it with the krevat which she ties in a bow neat enough to rival Kozy’s.

When she’s satisfied, she sits down at the mirror and lifts a brush, running it through her hair to tidy herself up. She warms up her hair straightener, and finally, when it’s heated enough, she runs her hair through it repeatedly where necessary to make her hair long and silky. She hesitates a moment, looking at the makeup case that Hisako-mama has gifted her with. She decides to apply a very light layer, as wearing a lot of makeup is generally discouraged. “I’m not a gyaru after all,” she giggles. “But I am a girl.”

After a moment she stands and grabs her school bag, shouldering it. Her hair streams out behind her as she leaves the room. In the corner of the room stands the walking brace, unneeded.

Madoka rushes through the short hall and into the kitchen. “Hisako Onee-chan!” she greets Hisako-mama, hugging the woman waiting for her in the kitchen with a hand on her hip. Hisako-mama gasps and laughs. “Good girl.” She pets Madoka’s head. “Hurry up or you’ll be late for the first day of your new life.” She leans down and kisses her forehead.

Madoka smiles happily and nods, rushing to the table to eagerly enjoy the meal Hisako-mama has prepared for her. It is simpler than the meals she made at the Mansion, but it is full of love and flavor. There are sausages, a small amount of eggs, steamed rice, and a rich miso soup. When she finishes the meal she looks up at Hisako-mama and smiles. “Thank you for the meal, Hisako-ma… Onee-chan.” She giggles.

Hisako-mama smiles warmly and holds out a bento to her. “Good girl. Have a wonderful day, okay?” She smiles at Madoka and Madoka accepts the cutely wrapped lunch with tears of happiness standing in her eyes. 

“I will, Mama!” Madoka exclaims and hugs Hisako. Hisako smiles tenderly as she sheds joyful tears and pets Madoka’s head.

Hisako watches Madoka go with a little smile on her face and tears in her eyes. She hasn’t anticipated how being called Mama like that can tug at her heartstrings. The boy turned girl is firmly and deeply embedded in her heart already, and she looks out the window, watching Madoka and the two girls who have been waiting for her stand outside together, the morning breeze lightly blowing their skirts. Aoi is still using crutches today, she notes. She sighs softly. Maybe being called Mama would be just fine, after all.

Aoi and Kanna wait outside, having specially taken an early bus just so they can go to school with Madoka. When Madoka walks out, Aoi waves excitedly. Madoka rushes up the walk from the apartment and embraces Aoi carefully, avoiding unbalancing her. Aoi is still using crutches. It is a strange reversal of their previous circumstances. They look into each other’s eyes, and Kanna blushes, averting her gaze as they kiss for a long moment. Afterwards, they head up the street together.

“You seem really happy today, Madoka-chi.” Kanna grins.

“I am! Everything is wonderful now.” Madoka smiles. “I think I can finally move on with my life and it feels great.” Madoka twirls a little as the three stop at the bus stop and Kanna and Aoi giggle, looking at Madoka’s exuberance with fondness.

“How are your wounds?” Madoka asks Aoi with concern in her expression.

“They’re healing. I’ll be free of these in a few days.” Aoi smiles wryly. “The cut on my stomach and side is doing much better. I’m told there won’t be any complications.” She winks.

Madoka smiles happily and hugs Aoi. “I’m glad to hear that… and I’m really sorry that it happened to you at all.” Madoka squirms a little, and they look into each other's eyes.

“I’d do it again in an instant for you,” Aoi says softly.

When the bus stops the three get on, finding seats. The bus goes for seven stops before reaching the Tsukuba Shiritsu Seishun Gakuen stop. The three girls disembark, swiping their Manaca cards as they head towards the school gate and through. People stare at Madoka, and some point at her, whispering, but Madoka smiles, ignoring the looks, even though she feels nervous about how the class will receive her. She also has to clean the elevator out today, as she had agreed to do when receiving her special key. Some people point at Aoi. Her crutches make her stand out almost in the way Madoka had.

The three head into the shoe locker area and quickly swap their shoes out for their school shoes.

“Good morning!” Eiji greets the three, and soon he’s greeted by Ippei, who smiles at them.

“Good morning, class pres, shadow pres,” Madoka replies. Aoi and Kanna second her greetings, though Aoi still calls Eiji stupid pres.

“Shall we head to class together?” Eiji asks, smiling approvingly at Madoka. “You are really shining today, Hamada-chan.” He grins.

“It’s Midoriyama-chan now.” Madoka smiles.

“Oh… that’s right. Sorry. I had heard about it.” Eiji hits his forehead with the palm of his hand, and grins.

“Midoriyama Madoka… that’s a real mouthful,” Ippei observes with a smile.

“It sounds just right.” Madoka smiles warmly.

“Isn’t she like Aoi’s aunt? Doesn’t that mean you two are cousins?” Eiji points out with a winning grin. “If incest isn’t your style, there’s a handsome guy still interested here.” He grins, waggling his eyebrows.

Madoka blushes and frowns. “I…”

“Still mine, Idiot pres.” Aoi smiles, glomping Madoka. Madoka giggles and blushes.

“Good,” Madoka says softly.

“Ugh… you two are hopeless.” Eiji rolls his eyes affectionately, and then catches the dirty look Kanna is giving him. He gulps audibly. “Can’t help noticing the crutches, Wada. It’s so weird seeing you two change roles like that.” He laughs nervously.

They walk to the stairs, but Madoka smiles, waggling a finger, and gestures for Aoi to walk a little further. She brings Aoi to the elevator and withdraws her magnetic card from her cell phone case. “I’ll still clean it up as I promised, but it seems best that you take the elevator until you recover. I don’t think anyone will complain.” She smiles.

Aoi hesitates. “Are you sure? You might get in a little trouble.”

“I don’t mind.” Madoka leans in and gives Aoi a chaste kiss and a wink. She energetically turns and pulls Kanna with her. “See you upstairs, Aoi-chan!” She grins. Madoka and Kanna walk upstairs together. Madoka has a slightly rough time of it, as stairs are still a bit of a challenge, but she wants to continue to challenge herself. They both meet Aoi upstairs, and continue on to the classroom. When they enter, everyone freezes, watching Madoka.

Aoi hugs Madoka, seemingly wanting to protect her. Madoka waves her away and strides resolutely to the front of the class. She bows suddenly.

“I’m sorry, everyone! I’m sorry I lied to you. I didn’t mean to lie. It wasn’t my choice, but I didn’t say anything. I’m sorry if it made you all uncomfortable. I hope we can still be friends,” she says, keeping her head bowed low.

No one says anything for a moment and then the entire class starts clapping and cheering. Everyone rushes to the front of the class and surrounds Madoka, placing supportive hands on her shoulders and arms.

“We’re with you, Madoka-chan… no matter what,” one of the girls says aloud.

“Yeah!” a boy speaks out. The entire class rushes to assure her that they will support her, and she looks around with wonder and tears in her eyes.

“I… thank you so much everyone. I’m so fortunate.” She cries joyful tears.

I still have no closure with the issues I'm experiencing at the moment.  I hope things will be settled this year, soon.  Thanks for reading, and for your patience.  If things don't improve soon, I'll upload my second novel, though I'm honestly wondering about how much readers would like that one.