You know what? I hate html.I wish I was doing almost anything else.Like getting laid. I could be having sex right now, but noooo.I watched Utena lose her virginity again this weekend.That scene is so hot.The fine line between obsession and madness is... what was I saying?GIRL ON GIRL ACTION!!!I want that outfit. I like red and black. What a surprise.This layout took forever to get just right. But that was because I took so many breaks.I never ate glue in kindergarten. Hard to tell, huh?Gio keeps talking about food. What a bitch.LEGS.See, I'm being productive. Now if only I could do this at work, where productive is just a dream...GODDAMMIT STOP TALKING ABOUT FOODYou know, those are the only important things in life. Food, sex, and sleep.Everything else is just window dressing.I have to clean my house still. That sucks.I hate cleaning. I should buy maids.I want to go to a museum, but I don't want to get out of my jammies.I suck at being energetic.Funny, you don't look Druish.


If I Could - Chapter Twelve


“How are you?”

“I’m all right. It’s not bad today.”

“What is it?”

“After all you did…”

“Are you angry with me?”


“Don’t be angry. I had to do it.”

“I know.”


“But what?”

“Stop playing with those.”

“All right.”

“You didn’t have to do it. You didn’t. I have to believe that, or…”

“Or what?”

“I don’t know. Why do you always ask these things?”

“You’re my friend.”

“What is it?”

“How can you say that? How can you even think…”

“Never mind. I… I apologize. I shouldn’t have said that.”

“You can say whatever you want. You’re still my friend.”

“I wish…”



“Please don’t be angry with me.”

Life went on as if nothing had ever happened between them. It became a wary waiting game—the rumors died down, Kohana's pranks died down, and she spent most of her free time socializing with the other students in one way or another. She did not speak to Touga publicly, other than for Seitokai business, which she was finally inducted into. Most of it consisted of tiny manipulations of the teachers, as well as certain rumors spread around amongst the populace of the school; child’s play. And as far as she could see, none of it had a point.

Nothing really interfered with her visits to Touga's house and his visits to hers. She was glad their visits weren't nightly when she found the letter, sealed with wax that was stamped with the rose crest.

At first she'd just turned it over, wondering why there was no address on it, but she caught the scent of roses rising from it and gasped in shock when she realized what she was holding.

A letter from Ends of the World. Would there be any sort of clue as to its identity?

The only way to find out was to open it. So she did, setting her coffee on the kitchen table and nearly shredding the envelope with shaking fingers. The scent of roses seemed to flood the room as she stared at the single line of words on the paper.

A new duelist arrives tomorrow.

Magic again... or was it? Her orders came down through Touga, and as she reviewed them, there was a definite pattern—most of them involved betrayal of one lover by another. And the teachers had all been suggestions to allow this person or that person, often people Kohana knew, more freedom from class or to imply that a field trip to a museum or to an art gallery was called for. She herself hadn't gone on any of these field trips; she was far too busy with kendo in the mornings and the rest of her duties and homework in the afternoons that she had no time to look at paintings. She'd been to all of the places several times anyway.

Naturally, there was a Seitokai meeting after school that day. Kohana knew that much as soon as she'd recognized the letter. What really bothered her was that she'd taken Touga at his word when he'd said he'd chosen her to be his successor—not that he'd necessarily wanted her to be, but that he had chosen her. Obviously, he had not. Ends of the World had chosen her, the way it had chosen this new duelist, and Touga had only followed orders. It was distantly irritating, though she couldn't figure out why. She was more than capable enough for the job, despite a lack of sword training, so that wasn't in question—it was more the idea that she, too, could have been so easily swayed by the mood and rumor mill of the school.

It didn't matter, however, because she generally enjoyed being a part of the Seitokai. Aside from the identity of Ends of the World, there was nothing about it she didn't enjoy, including working herself to near exhaustion to learn kendo and gently nudging and swaying the opinions and thoughts of the staff and students of the school. Not to mention the absolutely wonderful lovers she had gained.

Akiko poked her head into the kitchen. "Kiryuu-san is here, Kohana."

"Already?" He'd taken to picking her up to go to school. It wasn't far out of his way, and they still talked fairly easily even after that disturbing night. It would have been an acknowledgement that it was out of the ordinary if they were to act uneasy around each other.

Akiko didn't answer. By the way the room felt, she could tell that Touga was coming up behind her even though she couldn't hear his footfalls over the radio that the cook was blaring. Suppressing her worry about Ends of the World, she didn't even pretend to be taken by surprise when his fingers wove into her hair to stroke the nape of her neck. "Yes, already." Leaning over her shoulder, he picked up the torn envelope and the paper she'd laid face down on the table. "Anything interesting?"

"Not really." As she stood up, gathering her books, she said, "What about you?"

"The most interesting part of my day so far has been seeing you." Liquid blue eyes twinkling, he offered her an arm, paper and envelope dangling from the other hand.

Just as much secretive humor in her smile, she said complacently, "I know that already." As they walked out of the door, he placed the paper on her books.

Chuffing amusedly, Akiko watched them walk past, and then said, "Such ego."

Kohana just laughed, and they walked out to the car. Once inside, safely away from prying ears, Kohana asked, "So there's to be a meeting tonight?"

Touga nodded, the car smoothly picking up speed as they traveled toward the school. "You'll have a part to play in this duelist’s selection, as will I. The new duelist is to be Saionji's successor as the Fukukaicho."

"So, do I get a veto?" Smirking, Kohana watched the grey sky over the rooftops.

"Possibly," he said, not looking at her. "As long as you can support it with a reason. I do get the final say, though, so don't expect that your wishes will have as much weight as you might like."

There was more he wasn't telling her, but there was always more that Touga didn't tell her. "You know who it is, then."

He glanced at her strangely, frowning in apparent confusion. "No."

"Such beautiful lies, darling. I'll just wait to find out. I can wait a day when I have to." It wasn't much easier to tell when he was lying now that she'd known him for a while; still, it was easier, and that had been a blatant, outright lie.

Touga only laughed. "Don't forget the meeting. I have another assignment for you, since this one is to be your Fukukaicho."

The entire day after that was something Kohana waited through impatiently. Saionji didn't mention the letter at all; when Kohana did, he simply said he would attend the meeting. After that, he'd seemed withdrawn, and when she tried to ease him into speaking about it, he sneered at her and ignored her until she was forced to seduce him for her sanity's sake. Even though she'd had time to get used to Saionji's ways, the gratingly condescending airs that were his normal mien could still drive her up the wall.

I once thought there was nobody on earth who was irritating to the point where I'd actually strike them...

Fortunately, those pretty purple eyes had softened again afterward. She really couldn't keep tempting him into sex on the kendo room floor; someday, someone would look in at the wrong time, and then there would be all kinds of rumors. It didn't matter for now. They hadn't been caught yet, and unless Touga and Saionji were fighting a duel, hardly anyone except the club members ever came in, and the club only met after school.

At lunch, Kohana sat down in the indoor lunchroom, the one that wasn't open to the cold weather. Sakura was strangely subdued today, almost quiet, and Ichida's constant efforts to cheer her or get her talking made the lunch a very boring affair. Kohana herself made a few attempts, wondering what was wrong with the girl, but nothing seemed to work. As a last resort, she finally said, "Sakura, if you don't stop acting like you just lost your best friend, I'll have to practice some of my kendo on you."

Wide blue eyes startled, Sakura glanced quickly at Kohana. "What do you mean?"

"Oh, give me a break. Ichida thinks there's something wrong; he's been trying to cheer you up all lunch, and you've been ignoring me." Not unforgivable, but not pleasant by any means. "Did something happen?"

"Try to get anything out of that girl," Ichida grumbled. "She's probably mooning over some other guy or something."

Laughing softly, Sakura said, "Oh, stop it. I'm just not feeling well, that's all. I have a bit of a headache."

There was something about her eyes that Kohana didn't trust. The first thing that came to mind was that the Seitokai might be considering her as Saionji's successor—it would make sense, if this was a normal Student Council. They were friends, both of them popular, and they would obviously work well together. But Sakura didn't have any sword training that Kohana knew of, or a reason to enter the duels. Perhaps they were providing her with one somehow?

"Be sure you don't go to dance class, then. I can get some aspirin from Saionji if you need it." She made her voice as gentle as possible to cover up her suspicion.

"Don't worry, Kohana. I don't need people constantly worrying about me." The smile Sakura gave was more like her usual self—impudent. She didn't even glance at Ichida.

Good acting, girl, but I know you told him about my headaches, and there's something else up.

Kohana shrugged, glancing around the room. As she caught sight of Kaoru, she said, "Oh, there's someone I want you to meet." Kaoru's eyes went toward her from across the room and she languidly waved him over.

"Who, the genius?" Ichida asked. "I know him. He's a nice guy, even if he is a little shy. Not the type of person you usually hang out with, Kohana."

"I know, I know, but he's on the Council. And he likes Mozart—we've been comparing tastes in composers." As Kaoru approached, she said, "Hi, Miki. Have a seat?"

"Kohana. Toyomatsu-sempai." He sat down across from Kohana, placing his tray on the table.

"Miki, this is my friend Sakura. She's musical to the extent that she dances."

They nodded to each other, and Sakura said, "Jazz dancing."

"Oh." Kaoru looked as if there was something on his mind. "Nice to meet you." Turning to Kohana again, he asked, "You know there's a meeting tonight, right?"

"Yes, I got the message. How long do you think it'll run?" Kaoru seemed to be growing more and more nervous by the second. This was awfully odd.

"Not very long, but I was hoping that you might come to the music room with me afterward." He glanced away from her and she saw him swallow before he said. "You did ask for a private concert."


The hesitation before she spoke passed everyone but Sakura right by. "Miki... It's wonderful of you to offer, but really..."

How was this normal? How was this anywhere near normal? Kaoru wasn't interested in—


He was continuing. "No… I'd like to—" The faint blush on his cheeks would have been adorable, except for the sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach. Touga was behind this somehow. What did he have planned?

"Miki, we can talk about it later, can't we? We've got all day to decide." Pondering her options, Kohana decided she'd have to get him alone soon, and not for the normal reason.

He's too young for me!

"If it cannot break its egg's shell, a chick will die without being born."

The elevator went up and up, the ritualistic feel of the words sending a tingle down Kohana's spine. Arisugawa leaned against the wall, seemingly bored with the whole business, but there was a tiny, ironic smile on her face.

"We are the chick. The world is our egg."

Kaoru stood near the other wall, looking out of the window with his mouth firm in determination. His eyes were faraway.

"If we don't crack the world's shell, we will die without being born."

Standing in the middle of the elevator, Kohana by his side, Touga recited the words of the ritual emotionlessly, eyes on the outside sky. It had the feel of something he'd done many, many times before. Kohana had never heard the speech before today.

"Smash the world's shell."

As he spoke the last words, the door to the elevator opened. The group turned as one, walking out onto the balcony where a table and chairs waited, and they seated themselves around it. Kohana chose the seat by Touga's side. As of yet, she had no authority—she would have to link herself firmly to Touga in the minds of the others, and seating herself near him would help to establish that.

"For the revolution of the world," the three senior members of the council chorused.

I guess this happens every time—they spoke in unison at the end, like they were used to it.

Strangely enough, there were five drinks on the table. The one in front of Kohana's seat just 'happened' to be hot chocolate. No doubt Touga had arranged for it; either that, or someone was psychic. An unsigned valentine, months out of season, lay open in the center of the table. No one looked at it.

Touga's eyes roamed the three of them. "We've all received the message from Ends of the World. A new duelist is about to make himself known, and he will be Saionji's successor as Fukukaicho."

"Shouldn't Saionji be here, then?" Kaoru was all business now, none of the faint blush Kohana had seen earlier visible on his cheeks. He most carefully avoided her eyes, however, and Kohana briefly considered questioning Touga immediately—but she would get more answers out of him if she waited until a more favorable time.

She hadn't had a chance to speak to Kaoru alone yet; he had missed his regular time in the music room, probably to avoid her convincing him out of sleeping with her. It was exceedingly strange that she found herself hesitant about it; a few weeks ago, she wouldn't have thought twice despite his being too young. But Touga had done this somehow. She knew better than to expect a present from him.

Especially after he showed me his real weak point—especially after he was grateful to me for it!

"Saionji is busy with his kendo team. He'll be by later." Except for Touga, Kohana knew his schedule better than any of them. In keeping with the calm, almost bored tone of the meeting, she studied her fingernails as she answered.

Touga smirked at her, the first time he'd looked directly at her since they'd gotten on the elevator. "And he's not needed yet. There are a few things we must make clear before he arrives." He glanced to Arisugawa, who was sipping her drink unconcernedly, and said, "Juri, you'll take the new duelist in hand for sword training. Unlike my successor, this one has a definite talent for fencing, and you'll be expected to encourage it."

"An amateur?" she asked, her voice toneless.

After a quick, secretly amused glance at Kohana, Touga answered, "No. But your personal attention should provide the necessary improvement."

Of course he knew who it was, otherwise he wouldn't have all of this preparation for the new duelist in place.

"Miki, you have no connection to this one, besides taking over if Juri cannot perform her duties as expected. I won't expect you to go out of your way to befriend this duelist." The tone plainly said that Kaoru could do whatever the hell he pleased. Did Kaoru even know this person?

Nodding, Kaoru opened his book, scribbling lines of numbers on the paper. It looked like some sort of advanced algebraic equation, one that Kohana decided she was never going to attempt.

"Kohana." Amusement, faint but audible, suddenly appeared in Touga's voice. "Since this is to be your vice president, you have a larger part to play. You'll introduce the duelist to the secrets of dueling grounds as you see fit, and, after the duel, you’ll have a gift to give." Touga reached into his pocket and pulled out a silver ring, the twin to the ones that the Seitokai wore. "Wait near the entrance to the forest after school tomorrow. Let the duelist into the grounds and then lead them up to the arena, and leave. If you must watch the duel, watch from the tower."

Kohana took the ring from him. She knew better than to ask who the new duelist would be pitted against; the Champion of the duels was currently Touga. "If they refuse the ring?" A disdainful quirk of her lips revealed her thoughts on the likeliness of this.

"If our work goes well, they won't. If they do, it isn't your concern." That almost-hidden amusement was still there—a rather large annoyance. Kohana resolved to pay Touga back double for his taunts.

"When does it become her concern, Seitokaicho?" There was a quiver of interest in Arisugawa's tone, and not necessarily a pleased one.

"Soon." That said absolutely nothing. Touga glanced from Kohana to her hot chocolate, and he chuckled. "It's not poisoned."

"Should I trust you that far?" she asked sweetly.

His eyebrows rose, and he leaned back in his chair, putting a hand to his heart. "You wound me. I'd thought you were grateful to have this position, this chance." As his amusement grew, so did the richness and depth of his voice.

"Why don't we eat out tonight?" she asked, an amused purr in her voice.

Kaoru glanced sharply at her as Touga laughed, his cheeks coloring a little before he looked away. After a moment, he said, "If there's nothing else, Seitokaicho—"

"There is." Touga's amusement left him, his expression turning serious. "I want to impress on you that Kohana is to be the one to reveal the Seitokai's purpose and its goals. She will be the one the duelist works most closely with, and they must be willing to trust her. This is the beginning of the new Seitokai. It has almost nothing to do with us. Do not interfere."

There was a long silence, heavy with unspoken questions.

Footfalls rang through the open air of the balcony. No one turned as Saionji approached and took his seat, smirking at Arisugawa and Kaoru, and ignoring Kohana. "My successor arrives tomorrow. Shall I prepare myself to leave the Seitokai?"

"You know as well as I do that you stay until you leave the school. The secrets of the rose seal cannot leave this circle." Watching Saionji almost uninterestedly, Touga's eyes caught and held Saionji's purple ones. He paused, letting his words echo and grow in strength, and then a tiny smile appeared. "You do little enough as it is. The rest of the year will make no difference."

That smile revealed nothing, but Kohana could see a hint of something like apology in Touga's eyes.

Ends of the World keeps them in the duels. None of them want to be involved.

"And the rest of us? When do we 'choose' our successors?" A study in boredom. Arisugawa certainly didn't give away much by her tone or her body language.

"Before you leave for England. As for Miki, he has another year to go. Kohana will handle that." Touga turned back to Saionji. "You understand why Juri is being let go so early."

Saionji nodded abruptly. "And the new duelist’s training?"

"Juri. Kohana will take care of the rest. You, however, will need to familiarize the duelist with your duties aside from the rose seal." Touga smiled winningly.

Kohana couldn't resist the chance to needle Saionji a bit, though she made her tone light and teasing. "I can't sneer as well as you can."

It surprised a chuckle out of Kaoru, and Saionji raised an eyebrow at her, an unimpressed expression on his face. He would have growled at anyone else. "Unlike the Seitokaicho, I actually work for the betterment of the school." Turning back to Touga, he asked, "Kohana will teach the duelist—"

Touga nodded. "As she sees fit."

"As she sees fit," Arisugawa echoed, almost disdainfully.

"This meeting is adjourned," Touga said, standing up. Kohana left her untouched drink on the table, following the rest to the elevator.

As Kaoru shut the door to the music room, Kohana wondered what Touga had done to push him to this. She would have to get him to talk about it—he'd been silent the whole way there. Her chair was still a convenient distance from the piano; she sat down, deciding to try to be as delicate as possible about the whole business. Kaoru didn't look at her for a moment, then turned and walked over to her, determination in his stride.

"Miki..." He was hesitantly reaching for her shoulder, his mouth set and his eyes turned away from her face. "Wait. You don't seem very comfortable, and I'm not sure we should be doing this."

He hesitated, his eyes flicking up to hers. She'd been right; there was no real eagerness in them. Only determination. "Am I really too young for you?"

"Well, yes…" His hand dropped, and his shoulders slumped a bit. Kohana felt a little relieved, but she wanted to know why—Touga had some plan in motion, and she seemed to be powerless to stop it. At this point, her best bet was to gather more information so she could reason out what exactly had gone on.

"I'm only a year younger than you are." It was strange—he seemed almost pleading.

"More like two. Honestly, Miki, I like you, but..."

His shoulders slumped further, and he began to turn away. "I suppose I'll have to find someone else, then."

"What? No, wait—" Her head was starting to hurt—this situation was just wrong. Kohana couldn't tell if it was a migraine or not. "I mean, what's this about, anyway? I didn't think you were the type, and it doesn't really seem like you want to do this..."

He scowled endearingly. "I do! It's just..." Sighing, he lightly laid his fingers on her shoulder. "It's important to me."

"But why? I'm flattered that you thought of me, but I'd rather not. Maybe if you explained a little why you seem so—" She spread her hands helplessly. "I'm not used to someone who treats it like it was something to be endured." This kind of forbearance wasn't something she often showed if she could help it. But knowing that he'd be with her for another year was a powerful reason to keep him on good terms with her—he could be more easily used if he liked her.

His eyes widened, dismay clearly visible in them. "I'm sorry. I'm—nervous..."

"And…" She let the word hang in the air, gaining strength.

Still hesitating, Kaoru's eyes moved to the door, and then back to her. She would have to work harder with him; he didn't fully trust her yet, despite all their talks. "Well..."

The reassuring approach was the best to use here—he would be more open with her if he didn't feel so uncomfortable, and the best way to do that was to restore some normality to the situation. "Sit down," she said, gesturing to the piano bench. "Tell me why. I'd really like to know, Miki. You have to admit, this is really strange."

"Why..." Swallowing, he turned away for a moment, and then decided to take her advice and sit. He dragged the piano bench closer to her. Without looking at Kohana, he slowly said, "I was hoping... well, you seemed like you wouldn't mind, the first time we met—and I didn't think..." His voice faded into the silence around them, and his cheeks flamed.

Come on, Kaoru. Give me what I want—it won't hurt.

Without any hint of her inner eagerness, Kohana prodded, "Think what?" This was actually sort of a challenge—keeping him talking was hard, and keeping the little trust he'd extended was even harder. She would have to choose her words carefully, and not even hint that she knew anything about Touga's part in this, otherwise Kaoru would assume that she'd been behind it.

Kaoru glanced at her, obviously hoping that the ground would open up and swallow him. " are pretty, and we all know that you and the Seitokaicho... and I knew he wasn't dating you..." Any moment now, his cheeks were going to turn purple. It was actually quite amusing.

Kohana made her expression faintly surprised. "Oh." Appearing to ponder this for a moment, and keeping her demeanor soothing, she said, "I guess you mean that you were hoping I was experienced."

"Yes." Relief flooded his features, and the charming little blush faded. "And I thought..."

Kaoru was too honest. Kohana would lay a bet that it had never even crossed his mind just to say that he’d slept with her or to ask her to say it. She wasn’t about to reveal that notion either, not unless she found it necessary. "That even though I said I wasn't interested, I might reconsider?"

He nodded.

Frowning, Kohana said, "Well, I'm still not so sure this is a good idea. We will be on the council together for another year, and I do have to think about how this will affect that. And, Miki, you still seem very uncomfortable. Forgive me for saying this, you're very cute, but that's just not enough if you're not really willing. Don't make yourself do it."

It was so strange to be fighting what she normally gave in to without a second thought!

"I have to!" He stood up abruptly, pacing between the piano and the rows of stands. After a few moments, he turned to her and said, "If you won't, I'll find someone else. It's something I need to do." The determination was back; hesitance had completely flown him for now.

Calm him, lull him, make him tell me the real reason...

"I still don't understand why. Please tell me—I might be able to help." His agitation hindered her; she would get rid of it. He would be better off without it no matter how this ended.

She had to suppress a small smile at the weak attempt at self-justification.

"Will you—" A frown marred his delicate features. How sweet—he still couldn't bring himself to actually say what he wanted her to do.

Before he actually forced himself to spit the words out, she broke in. Saving him from his embarrassment only made her look better, no matter that she was the one who was causing it. "I'll think about it, once you tell me."

The muffled rush of the wind outside filled the air for a moment; Kaoru looked quickly at her, as if trying to judge whether she meant it or not. Kohana didn't even have to pretend this time—she actually was sincere, for once.

With a soft sigh, he seated himself on the piano bench again. As he began to speak, a pained expression crossed his face, quickly submerged. "I'm not... I have a sister. Kozue. I don't know if you knew that." Large blue eyes flicking to her face once more, he waited to see if she would recognize the name. Kohana nodded. "She's always flirting and—doing other things."

Those other things were quite widely known, if one spoke to the right people. And, naturally, Kohana knew all the right people. With a hint of a sympathetic smile she nodded once again, mentally urging him onward.

Kaoru took heart from her silence and unwillingness to judge his sister. Obviously he cared for her a great deal—he just didn't understand that Kohana had already judged her long ago. "I'm always running around, cleaning up after her—it's like she expects me to be there forever, taking care of her. Even though it's a lot better now since—well, since last term, she's still..." Ah, the frustration of a sibling. Something Kohana had never dealt with, but knew quite well from Sakura's frequent rants about her younger sister. Though, from what she knew, Kozue's possessiveness of her brother was a lot more serious than Sakura's makeup stealing little brat of a sister. Perhaps even pathological... it did fit with what she knew of the Kaoru twins... "And I—I saw her with the Seitokaicho this morning. Not... you know… but..."

So that was whose perfume he'd smelled of. Interesting.

She must be pretty good, if he's still visiting her after all this time with me.

"I see," she said, forestalling any explanation that Kaoru would be uncomfortable at giving. "You're tired of taking care of her all the time." It was the easiest and gentlest way to put it. Kozue was probably a first-rate bitch about it, and it was likely eating Kaoru up inside that his own twin could be so cruel to him—because, innocent that he was, he wouldn't understand the desperation there.

Playing with Kozue might be mildly amusing. Taking her brother, her twin, away from her would be more than mildly amusing...

The headache was growing, slowly but surely, and Kohana almost missed Kaoru's next words.

"Yes. I don't want to do it any more—I don't want to spend the rest of my life like this." Hence the determination. It was back now, and most of the uneasiness had evaporated at finding someone who understood his reasons.

Kohana wasn't about to let it go at that. Touga's part in this was clear enough, but she wanted to hear what he'd done. It might be useful as future ammunition. "You'll have to be a little more specific, Miki. I don't quite see the connection. Tell me exactly what happened." It was so easy to move him the way she wanted, now that she had a firm grasp on what had driven him to this.

He glanced away from her, the uneasiness gone, but he didn't want to admit what he'd done. "I walked away as quickly as I could. I didn't want to face them." Naturally he would see it as cowardice. It didn't matter that most people would have done the same. As he turned back to Kohana, she could see the embarrassment returning, though it wasn't at anything she'd done. It was at the memory. "But the Seitokaicho found me later on, and I was upset. He talked to me for a while."

And here was the treat she'd been waiting for. "What did he say?"

Frowning, Kaoru waited for a moment before speaking. Likely he didn't quite understand why the words had made such an impact on him. "He said that we'd always reminded him of mirror images, because we look so alike. And then he said that usually people only see what they want to see in a mirror, that the only way to make them see what's real is to surprise them."

It made sense. Inwardly, she applauded Touga's skill. Kaoru was playing the exact part that Touga had wanted him to. "And so you want to make your sister really see what she's doing by doing it yourself." Interesting. Kaoru probably didn't understand that before that would work, it would make his life a living hell. If he could live through that, however, the twins would likely reconcile. A sudden thought came to her. Keeping her tone light, she voiced it. "That's not so flattering now."

A small sharp needle before I give in…

The sudden realization of what he'd implied hit him. Mortified that he could be so insensitive, he stammered, "I-I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have told you that. I'll—I'll find someone else—"

"Wait just a moment there. I understand." She smiled comfortingly at him, leaning forward to touch his arm. "You did make the right choice, Miki. This is very important to you."

I could ruin both of the twins with this act... but I won't. Just Kozue, just because I can.

"So..." He didn't quite understand yet what she meant—but that confusion was easily dispelled.

With a soft smile on her face, she said, "Don't worry, Miki." Trying to appear as casual as possible, she moved over to the piano bench. At first he flinched away from her, but Kohana gently took his hand, laying it on her cheek. "I'll be good to you," she whispered, leaning into him and turning her face to his, eyes only half-open. Miki leaned in to kiss her after only a moment's hesitation, his lips pressing sweetly but inexpertly on hers. As he grew more confident, his arms wrapped around her, and soon the hesitation and embarrassment had completely fallen away.

In a distant way, she was glad he'd come to her. No one else could treat him the way she could, and the more he learned from her, the better a lover he would become. The world always needed more good lovers. Especially whichever part of the world she happened to inhabit at that particular moment.

I'll go along with Touga's plan... until I find a way to turn it to my advantage. And there's no doubt that I will.