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Selfish Friendship

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Selfish Friendship

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Yumi Fukuzawa never considered herself an outstanding student… or girl… or anything really. She oftentimes thought of herself as completely average in every way. She was not very pretty, but she knew she had her 'cute' moments. She wasn't very intelligent, but she never failed any exams. She was never very popular, but she had a group of people she was glad to call 'friends'.

She had a great family. She was what she considered to be 'Upper-middle class'. Her brother was exceedingly kind to her... at times. She was not greedy, and never once willingly disobeyed her parents.

All in all, she was a fairly content individual. She did not want for anything, really. So when the time came that allowed her to actually be selfish, she often had no idea how to react to such a situation. There had been three such occurrences in her life.

The first had been when she was five years old. Her family had travelled to the amusement park, and her parents allowed her to get a small toy for a souvenir. Yumi found that she could not make up her mind, as all the toys arrayed before her bright, chocolate-brown eyes were equally attractive. She had ended up sobbing miserably, which led her parents letting her get as many as Yumi wanted; something they had never done before. She was more confused at that point than elated.

Her parents never really fell for that tactic since, as it were. Luckily, Yumi never bothered to try it again.

The second had been right before she transferred to Lillian Academy for Women. But that is another story.

Our story now, actually, happens to be the third, and most recent time Yumi had the opportunity to be selfish. This time, however, she took the opportunity when it came to her.

Young Yumi Fukuzawa was a second year student at Lillian Academy for Women. She had many friends, a good placement in the school as an average student, and was part of the Yamayurikai, or the student council, as a petite soeur to the ever-popular Rosa Chinensis, Sachiko Ogasawara. She spent most of her free time with her friends Yoshino Shimazu, Shimako Toudou, her grande soeur Sachiko, and a few of her other acquaintances.

But this is all common knowledge. Our story is actually about something that very few people know about. Our story is about Yumi being actively selfish for the first time in her life. It started on a normal day, in a not-so-normal way.

Which was a Saturday, by the way.

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Yumi Fukuzawa sat in the second floor meeting room of the Rose Mansion with the other members of the Yamayurikai. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon. The warm weather betrayed the fact that it was still early spring, but no one really complained. It had been a particularly chilly winter, anyway.

Being Saturday, classes had let out early, and the maidens of Lillian were free to participate in club activities, studying to catch up or get head in their schoolwork, or even go home early if the thought sounded appealing at all. The girls of the Yamayurikai, however, had a lot of work to do as members of the student council. For an all-girls academy, Lillian had a surprising amount of work to push onto a small group of high school girls.

Luckily, the small group of high school girls the work had been pushed onto was more than equal to the task.

Yumi was doing her share of the work, even as a junior member of the Yamayurikai, by double checking paperwork that Rosa Chinensis sent her way. Her Onee-sama, Sachiko Ogasawara, rarely needed to be double-checked. However, it seemed prudent enough to act as though checking one's work was always necessary.

Sachiko, as one of the most popular and looked-up-to-students at Lillian, certainly deserved her reputation as 'perfect'. Long, raven-black hair… dark sapphire blue eyes… an air around her that screamed 'prim'. 'Proper'. The girl was nothing short of perfect for the role of Rosa Chinensis.

Around her, Yumi watched the other occupants of the Rose Mansion.

Rosa Foetida, third year Rei Hasekura, was writing out a number of reports sent in from assorted clubs. Apparently, a number of the on-campus clubs wanted the Yamayurikai to oversee their equipment requisition forms. It was a simple enough job, so Rei had immediately agreed to it. The tall, masculine-looking girl looked a bit uncomfortable in her chair, but settled for shifting her seating position every now and again. Yoshino Shimazu, Rei's petite soeur and cousin, was sitting beside her acting as emotional support.

Or at least, that was how the thin, brown-haired girl had put it.

Next in the room were The Rosa Gigantea sisters, Shimako Toudou and Noriko Nijou. Shimako, a second year, was what many of the students of Lillian called, an 'angel'. She was beautiful, had wavy chestnut-colored hair, and her skin was white and smooth. As far as Yumi could recall, no one had ever said anything even remotely negative about the young Rosa Gigantea. It was no small wonder that the previous Rosa Gigantea, Sei Satou, had chosen Shimako as her bouton.

Sitting beside her Onee-sama, Noriko was dutifully assisting in filling in a small stack of paperwork that Shimako has passed to her. The young first year carefully read the forms under her dark, nicely cut hair. Her dark eyes scanned the off-white sheets of paper, careful not to miss anything and end up making a mistake for her Onee-sama to cover up.

And then there was herself; Yumi Fukuzawa. Rosa Chinensis en bouton. The petite soeur of Sachiko Ogasawara. An all-together plain, ordinary girl. Shoulder-length brown hair (usually done up with ribbons), brown eyes (somewhat unattractive… at least, that's what she thought), thin figure, small chest… Yumi completely understood that she was not all that significant.

Considering all the girls that currently surrounded her… she was indeed nothing special.

"Yea… nothing special…" Yumi found herself muttering under her breath.

"What was that Yumi?" Her Onee-sama, Sachiko asked, looking up from her forms with a light smile.

Yumi started and immediately felt her ears warm. She hadn't meant to actually speak out loud. She sometimes did, especially when she was deep in thought. And when she did, it was usually quite embarrassing.

"Uh… n-nothing, Onee-sama… I was just thinking of… things I need to get at the supermarket on the way home…" Wow… great save, Yumi… She felt her shoulders fall.

Sachiko's smile didn't falter at all. "Is that so? Well, if you need any help, I would love to accompany you. I could even send you home afterward, if you buy too many things."

"Waa… that would be great, Onee-sama!" Yumi breathed. Shopping with her Onee-sama! That was one of the things she loved most. It was never anything very big, but it certainly felt special when it was just her and Sachiko walking through a store, picking up things to buy.

Rosa Chinensis nodded. "Good. But first we must complete our work. So let's get to it, shall we?"

"Alright, Onee-sama!"

Yumi looked around to the other girls in the room. They were all looking at the scene with identical expressions of humor. They all knew that Sachiko loved to spoil Yumi above all else, and it was exceedingly funny to them to sit back and watch as the Ogasawara heiress as she worked her grande soeur magic over Yumi.

Yumi didn't mind though. She loved being spoiled by her Onee-sama.

Yumi caught Shimako's gaze for a moment. The second year girl stared at Yumi with a bemused smile. Yumi returned her look with an innocent shrug. Shimako giggled noiselessly and, after casting her large eyes around Yumi's face for another few moments, returned to her work.

The members of the Yamayurikai finished their work soon thereafter, and were relaxing with a fresh cup of tea and some cakes when Yoshino brought up the next question.

"So, Yumi-san, why are you going to the market on the way home? Are you helping to prepare a special meal tonight?" The question seemed innocent enough, but before Yumi could even open her mouth to answer, Sachiko was right there with her usual no-backtalk-allowed-but-still-somehow-not-abrasive response.

"What Yumi wants to shop for in her own time is up to her. We do not have a right to pry."

Yoshino gave a light snort, and put on a pouting face. "Oh, come on… Sachiko-sama, you are only saying that because you are going with her." Sachiko was about to give in to the light prodding when Yumi chose to break into the discussion.

"It's not like that, Yoshino-san." She said, shaking her head fervently. Her Onee-sama was often quick to come to her rescue, whether she realized it or not. She had learned that it was usually better to quickly resolve these types of situations before an 'argument' would break out. "We actually aren't having dinner at home tonight. It's my mother's birthday today, and she wanted to go out to her favorite restaurant."

That little piece of information brought a stir into the room.

"Wow! Tell her happy birthday from us, won't you?" Rei said, smiling happily. Yoshino nodded excitedly, giving the same regards.

"Yes, please do." Shimako said, lowering her head in a short bow. Noriko followed suit.

Sachiko turned her head on Yumi, a slightly hurt expression in her eyes. "Yumi, you did not tell me it was your mother's birthday today… I would very much like to give her my respects."

Yumi panicked a little in her mind. Honestly, the thought hadn't even occurred to her that Sachiko would like to see her mother. They had met briefly during the athletics festival and, and while still somewhat awkward, she and Yumi's parents had seemed to hit it off. But still, Yumi hadn't even thought about Sachiko wanting to meet her mother to wish her a happy birthday.

"Uh… I-I'm sorry, Onee-sama…" She mumbled, lowering her face out of embarrassment. "I... forgot."

Sachiko sighed and shook her head.

"Honestly, what am I going to do with you?" Her eyes suddenly seemed to brighten with intent. "Can I see her when I drop you off this afternoon?"

Yumi thought for a second, and then nodded. "Yes… she is at home today so she should be there."

"Excellent. I look forward to it."

There was silence again in the meeting room, as the occupants went back to their jobs. Everyone except Yoshino (who wasn't really doing much anyway).

"So… what are you shopping for, then?" She pressed, a light smirk gracing her features. Yumi sighed inwardly; her friend just wasn't going to drop it, was she?

"N… nothing special… like I said." She settled on an evasive answer, which caused Yoshiko to shrug slightly. Yumi felt herself relax. Yoshino wouldn't lightly let it go if she knew that shopping had first started as her brushing off the fact that she was talking to herself, but in the end it ended up as just an opportunity to spend time with Sachiko.

She looked around the room again. Her eyes fell on Shimako's, who was still looking at her. Blinking a few times, Yumi tilted her head in an unspoken question. The girl seemed to snap out of a thought, or so it seemed, and shook her head lightly from side to side.

"Oh… I'm sorry, Yumi-san. I was lost in thought, it seems." She said.

Yumi smiled and shook her head. "Don't worry, Shimako-san. Are you alright?"

"Oh, yes. It's just when you said you are celebrating your mother's birthday tonight by eating out in a restaurant, I suddenly remembered that my father and I are also going out to a restaurant tonight." She giggled softly. "He and I do not go out to eat very often, so I am a little embarrassed to say that I had been looking forward to it for a while."

"Wow… that sounds like fun!" Yumi said. "Wouldn't it be funny if we were both going to the same restaurant?" The two girls giggled happily.

"Yes, it would be."

Yoshino chose at that moment to cut it yet again. "So, what restaurants are you two going to? Maybe you are going to the same one!" She leaned forward, clearly interested in the conversation.

Shimako and Yumi glanced at each other for a moment.

"Hmm… let's not spoil the surprise if we are." Yumi decided.

"Yes. That would make it more fun, I think." Shimako agreed, her voice quiet but her eye alight with humor. "If we knew we were going to be at the same place, it would ruin the surprise, wouldn't it?"

Yoshino sighed and hung her head heavily. "Alright, alright… Have it your way…" She leaned on Reis shoulder, causing the older girl to scratch her pencil audibly across the form she had been filling out. "Boring…" She grumbled.

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Later that evening, Yumi and her family were sitting down at her mother's favorite restaurant, Doriyaki's. They didn't often go there to eat, so that night was especially nice. Her mother had been very happy to see her daughter's grande soeur that afternoon, and with the addition of her favorite restaurant, the woman practically glowed with happiness.

The family had been there for maybe half an hour, when Yumi heard a familiar voice behind her.

"So we did end up at the same place after all, didn't we, Yumi-san?"

Yumi turned around, a mouth full of vegetables, to see Shimako standing a few feet away. She started and stood up, almost choking on her food with the sudden action.

"S-Shimako-san?" She coughed once, swallowing her food. The girl simply smiled and held up her hand in a friendly greeting. Yumi took moment to collect herself and look over her friend that suddenly appeared before her. She wore a simple cream-colored blouse, while in contrast sported a black skirt that ended in a lace trim, just above her knees. Her shoes were simple brown loafers that, from the new look they had, gave Yumi the impression that she either didn't wear them often or were indeed brand new. All in all, and to Yumi's chagrin, Shimako looked extremely cute.

"Good evening, Yumi-san. I see you are eating dinner with your family." Shimako said, throwing her eyes around the other people at the table. All of them had stopped eating to accept the girl's greetings. "Hello, Yuuki-san. It has been a while."

Yumi's brother nodded and held out his hand in a welcoming gesture. "Hi, Shimako-san. Nice to see you."

Shimako turned her gaze to Yumi's parents. "Hello Mr. and Mrs. Fukuzawa. I am Shimako Toudou, a classmate of Yumi's in the same year." She bowed to them politely.

"Ah, yes, yes." Yumi's father got out, a nervous look on his face. "Yumi-chan has told us all about you, Toudou-san. Thank you for taking care of our daughter all the time." Her parents stood up and bowed their greetings.

"Ahh! Mom! Dad! Don't embarrass me!" Yumi sat back down, pouting slightly. Shimako giggled, holding her hand over her mouth.

"Well, I do not want to impose. So I will return to my father now."

Yumi's parents were fast.

"Oh, no, no! You are not an imposition! Do not worry at all! Do you and your father want to join us?"

Yumi whirled around on her parents, her eyes as wide as saucers. Kya! What are they doing?!

Shimako shook her head. "No, it's quite all right. Thank you very much." She bowed and turned to leave. After a half-step, she turned around again, as if suddenly remembering. "Oh, yes. Happy birthday, Fukuzawa-san." She said with a bright smile. Her parents both thanked Yumi's friend, and with a final 'goodbye' she left the table.

"My… what a sweet girl…" Yumi's mother sighed, picking up her chopsticks again.

Yumi stared after Shimako for a few moments, watching her as she sat back down at a table with an older, bald man. Her father, she assumed. She remembered seeing her father at one point, but couldn't quite remember when it had been. She knew that he was exceedingly kind, and quite funny as well. Distantly, she wondered if she should get up and greet her friend's father as well. Shimako had done the same for her and her family, after all…

"Aren't you going to go and say hello?" Yumi's mother asked next to her. Yumi smiled and nodded to her. Her mother always knew best, of course.

"I'll be back in a few." Yumi said, pushing back her chair and standing up.

It took only a few moments to walk from her table to Shimako's. But as she walked, her eyes locked onto Shimako's father's, causing the monk to smile warmly as she approached.

"Good evening, Toudo-san." She said as she reached their table. Shimako looked at Yumi, wearing her usual disarming smile, but with a hint of surprise this time. Her mouth opened slightly, giving Yumi a glimpse of white teeth behind her pink lips.

"Oh, please, Fukuzawa-san, call me Ginzo." The old man chuckled lightly. "Would you like to sit down?"

"Ah… no thank you, sir. I just wanted to come and greet you this evening." Yumi declined as politely as she could. Ginzo considered that, and nodded.

"I see, I see. Well, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to come and say hello. And on top of that, from all the effort you use every day to look after my Shimako. She can be quite a handful at times." He gave a smile and winked at Yumi. The comment caused his daughter's cheeks to color slightly.

"F-father…" She whispered loudly. "Honestly…" She threw a look at Yumi as if to say 'parents…'. Yumi silently agreed and bowed her head to Ginzo.

"Well, I will return to my family now. I wish you both a nice dinner."

Before she could turn around, Shimako spoke, lightly grabbing Yumi's forearm at the same time. "Before that… could you accompany me to the washroom, Yumi-san?" Yumi raised an eyebrow at her friend. "I… I want to wash my hands before the food arrives…" Shimako said softly, looking from Yumi, to the washroom on the other side of the room, and then to her father.

"Uh… of course." Yumi nodded slowly, and put on a smile. "Let's go, then." Shimako stood up and started towards the washroom. "Pardon me, Tou- ah… Ginzo-san." She bowed again and took a few quick steps to catch up to Shimako.

The pair of girls passed by Yumi's table on the way to the washroom. Yumi quietly told her mother that she and Shimako were going to the washroom, and she would return soon. After a quite unnecessary comment from Yuuki about washing one's hands extra carefully, Yumi and Shimako walked into the women's washroom.

It was a small room, generally usably by two or so people at one time. Being a nice restaurant, the washroom was well-cared for and immaculately clean. A granite counter with brushed-nickel washbasin, two toilet stalls (Western toilets! Wai!), and even a small, fold-out surface for changing diapers. It was altogether one of the nicer washrooms Yumi had been to in a while. One that wasn't her own, that is.

"You wanted to wash your hands, right?" Yumi asked Shimako. When there was no response, she threw a glance behind her at her friend. She was staring at the sink with a somewhat vacant look on her face. "Shimako-san?" Yumi tried again. This time, Shimako snapped out of her revere, shaking her head.

"Yes? Oh, yes! Wash my hands…" She said and walked to the sink, reaching out for the soap dispenser.

"Then I'll be just a moment…" Yumi said, stepping into one of the stalls.

After taking care of her business, Yumi opened the door to the stall and stepped back out into the washroom. She saw Shimako standing by the door, and approached the sink to 'carefully' wash her hands.

Baka Yuuki… She grimaced as she scrubbed her fingers. 'Wash your hands eeeextra caaaaarefully'… tch. He should spend more time worrying about himself!

She turned off the tap and, reaching out for a fluffy, off-white towel, started to dry her hands.

She heard a sound that sounded like a 'ka-chick', and turned to see Shimako, still standing in front of the door. She had her hands behind her back, and was looking at Yumi with an unreadable look on her face. It took her only a moment to realize that the sound she had heard was the door locking.

"Uh… Shimako-san?" She blinked a few times, looking at her friend. "Is… everything-"

Yumi barely had time to brace herself before Shimako's body came crashing into hers. Her friend grabbed one of her hands, holding it firmly on the granite countertop. Her other hand gripped the side of Yumi's face. Yumi would have cried out in shock, that is, if Shimako wasn't pressing her mouth against Yumi's, kissing her firmly. Yumi's eyes widened in shock and surprise, her free hand waving around desperately, not hitting anything.

The two girls stood there for a long moment, lips pressed against each other. Shimako's eyes were closed tightly, not giving any of her thoughts away as Yumi tried to frantically think about what was actually happening. Then, as sudden as it had started, Shimako pulled her mouth away from Yumi, and let out her breath in a long sigh.

Yumi stood frozen in place, staring at her friend that had just kissed her… and quite forcefully, at that. Shimako opened her eyes, and took a long took at Yumi's features. After a moment of stunned silence, she leaned forward again, ignoring Yumi's quick intake of air, and pressed her lips to Yumi's again. Her hand was still pinned to the countertop, but her other hand was free. Yumi, as gently but firmly as she could, pushed Shimako's shoulder away from her. Her friend pulled away, a patiently confused look on her face.

"S- S- S- S-Shimako-san…" Yumi breathed, shaking visibly. She opened her mouth to speak again, but her voice froze in her throat when Shimano nuzzled her face up against her neck, kissing her softly.

"Shh…" Yumi heard Shimako's quiet voice enter her ear. The sound and feeling of her friend's breath on her neck caused Yumi to shiver violently. She was aware that her hand was still latched onto Shimako's shoulder in a viselike grip, but was equally aware of its inability to move at all. Shimako had one of Yumi's hands pinned on the countertop, and her other hand was frozen on her friend's shoulder. With Shimako holding onto the side of her head with her remaining hand, Yumi was all but stuck there, confused and completely taken aback by her friend's sudden actions.

Shimako slowly worked her way up from Yumi's neck, kissing along her jaw and lightly touched her lips, eliciting another shiver from Yumi. Opening her eyes again, she leaned her face back a few inches from Yumi and looked into her eyes, the same patient look on her face as before. There she stayed, as if waiting for Yumi to make the next move. After a few moments of silence, Yumi licked her lips and tensed her hand on Shimako's shoulder.

"W-why…?" She felt herself whisper. It wasn't the only thing running through her head, but it was the simplest thing to vocalize. Her tongue felt cottony and difficult to move. Shimako tilted her head to the side, her eyes never leaving Yumi's.

"I… don't really know…" She whispered after a long moment of silence. "I felt something… and decided to act on it."

"F-felt something?" Yumi stammered. Shimako nodded, her face a light shade of pink.

"Yes. Will you let me act on my feeling?"

Yumi blinked hard, staring at the suddenly hesitant face of her friend. She didn't understand why Shimako had suddenly kissed her, feeling or not. It had never occurred to her, even as a passing fancy, that her friend might have seen her as something more than that. If she were honest with herself, Yumi knew that she would sometimes think about what would happen if other people found her attractive. Her Onee-sama, Sachiko, had been the main character in many of these fantasies. Occasionally, the previous Rose Gigantea, Sei Satou, had also been thought of. There was even an instance where she had wondered if Yoshino liked her as more than a friend. It had never crossed Yumi's mind, with Shimako always being quite unflappable, that the girl might have thought of her as more than a friend.

But now that she was here, and Shimako was looking at her with an expression that betrayed both of their friendships. Yumi was confused. Confused and nervous. Shimako was her friend, she knew that. But, yet, here she was, just having kissed her. It was just too shocking for Yumi to process at once.

"Uh…" She managed meekly. Shimako blinked once, twice, a third time, before taking that as a tentative 'green light' to go ahead.

Not uttering a word, Shimako pressed her mouth against Yumi's, sighing softly as she leaned against her. Yumi leaned back fully on the countertop, not able to comfortably support Shimako's weight and keep herself standing on her own two shaky feet. Her hand was still held down on the countertop by Shimako's, so with her free hand she was able to feel around for her friend's other hand, and grabbed it firmly. Shimako took the gesture at face value and intertwined her fingers with Yumi's. Slowly, she slid their locked hands behind Yumi's back and used the position to pull herself closer up against Yumi.

"Yumi-san…" Shimako breathed as she pulled away from Yumi's lips, choosing instead to work her way back down her jawline and returning to her neck.

"Nnn…" Yumi heard herself whimper softly. She was well aware that she was blushing, but now felt her ears bristle in embarrassment at the sound she made. Shimako chucked against Yumi's neck, her hot breath sending an unfamiliar tingling sensation down her spine.

"You have a cute voice, Yumi-san." Shimako whispered as she kissed the skin of Yumi's neck. Yumi whimpered again. "Has anyone ever told you that?"

"N-no…" Yumi stammered, her voice just above a whisper. "N-never…" She felt Shimako release her hand and reach up to her chin, grasping it softly. Shimako pulled Yumi's face to the side, so that she could see herself in the wide mirror. There Yumi looked, seeing herself up against the counter with Shimako pressed up against her. Her own face sported a bright pink blush, her mouth was slightly parted, and her eyes, while open, were lazily staring back at her reflection.

Shimako pulled away from her neck and joined Yumi in looking into the mirror. "See?" She said quietly, letting her hand fall away from Yumi's chin. Instead, she trailed it down Yumi's neck and shirt, finally stopping at the opening between the bottom of her shirt and the top of her jeans. "You are cute, Yumi-san."

"I… I'm not…" Yumi whimpered again and felt her stomach muscles clench as Shimako slid her hand underneath her shirt. "I'm not cute… why are you saying…"

Shimako finally released Yumi's hand from the countertop and used it to pull Yumi's face to look at her. Yumi dragged her eyes away from her reflection and looked at Shimako's light colored eyes. Her friend looked at her with a soft expression. It was soft, Yumi noticed, but with just a hint of expectation.

"Yumi-san, do you trust me?" Shimako asked. Yumi swallowed against a dry throat, her mind swirling with many different thoughts. Shimako was her friend; she trusted her friends to the ends of the earth. Of course Shimako had certainly surprised her with the sudden… physical attention… but that didn't change the fact that the two of them were friends. Yumi knew that. She trusted her friends.

"I… trust you…" Yumi said, finally breaking free of her nervous stammering now that the situation had, at least somewhat, resolved itself in her mind. Shimako smiled at Yumi for a few moments, and nodded.

"I trust you, as well, Yumi-san."

With that, Shimako brought her lips to Yumi's again, and continued kissing her. This time, Yumi accepted the kiss and closed her eyes as her friend snaked her hand behind her head, wrapping her fingers in Yumi's hair. In the back of Yumi's muddled mind, she was glad she had opted to wear her hair down that evening.

By the time Yumi returned to her family's table, over twenty minutes had passed. Suddenly very happy her mother hadn't decided to go and see if she were alright, she managed to pacify her family by explaining that Shimako had 'wanted to talk about something'. The excuse was understandable enough, and had worked wonders with her inquisitive family. She assumed, with a glance over at Shimako's table, her father was equally fooled.

Letting out a quiet, steady breath, Yumi started on the main course, which had come while she had been in the restroom. The food, lukewarm by the time she started on it, was supposed to be her favorite at the restaurant. Even as she slowly picked at the rice pilaf, though, the taste barely registered to her. The entire situation in the restroom had come as a complete and total surprise to her. Even if it had been a surprise though… Yumi had to admit to herself that it had been exciting.

She and Shimako hadn't gone that far really… from what little she understood about physical intimacy. But it had certainly been farther that Yumi had ever gone before. And, especially since she hadn't ever been physical with anyone before… the bar hadn't been set very high.

Perhaps, if she and Shimako hadn't been in a restaurant with their families waiting for them, they would have gone further. Continuing to fight back a blush, Yumi considered that idea. Shimako and Yumi had parted each other not two minutes ago. Her friend had even said to her she wanted to meet again, another time soon. If Yumi wanted to, that is.

If Yumi wanted…

Did Yumi want that? What was it that Shimako wanted? What was it that Yumi wanted? Were they friends? Something more?

Shimako said she was cute… that she liked Yumi. She trusted Yumi. But to what extent? If Yumi and Shimako had had enough time, she would have asked her friend more about that. But all Shimako left her with was the choice. It was to be her decision to accept Shimako's feelings or decline them.

Gahh! Yumi hated making decisions.

It always made her feel so selfish. The fact that she had the choice between different options made her feel that she was asking for too much … that people would be put out by her and other people would feel bad.

That was why, that time when Yumi was a child, she had no idea what to do when her parents let her choose between so many different toys. In the end, she cried and was given all of them. That instance, more confusing than beneficial, had stuck with Yumi ever since. She had been so upset by her parents spending so much money on her… been so upset that her parents had been put out by her indecisiveness… it had haunted her thoughts for months afterwards.

Ever since then, she avoided being selfish. She was not a selfish girl. She happily accepted what she were given and avoided making choices that would put out other people. It had served her well all her life… except for one other time before she started Lillian Academy.

Yumi shook her head and set down her fork.

The fact that she knew she wouldn't get much sleep that night was extremely depressing.

Yumi took one more look towards Shimako's table, and felt her face heat up when she locked eyes with the girl across the room. She felt a muscle in her stomach twinge as she returned her friend's gaze, and couldn't help but smile in return when Shimako sent a flash of white teeth behind pink lips her way.

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Monday afternoon finally came, and Yumi found herself sitting at her usual place beside Sachiko in the second floor of the Rose Mansion. There was no particular work to be done that day, so the Yamayurikai were taking one of their much-loved breaks with tea and biscuits. Yumi happily crunched on an almond cookie and cast her eyes around the room.

Her Onee-sama was there, right beside her, occasionally glancing at her with warm, dark blue eyes. Yumi returned her sidelong glances with a happy smile and the occasional offer to get more tea or cookies for her.

Rei and Yoshino were there, rambling on about the seemingly random topics that Yoshino brings up from time to time. The second year girl talked excitedly, her eyes wide and her face expecting, while her cousin answered her tiredly. It was a familiar enough scene that filled Yumi's heart with happiness. It was good to see that some things, at least, wouldn't change very easily.

Soon, Yumi's eyes slid over to the white rose sisters, Shimako and Noriko. The two girls were sitting quietly, across from Yumi and Sachiko, both not talking. They were simply enjoying the relaxing atmosphere of the Rose Mansion and drinking their tea.

Yumi found herself staring at Shimako for a long time, not really thinking about anything. She watched her friend's face as she sat there, her eyes closed, enjoying her tea. Her face was still and peaceful. Occasionally, a face muscle twitched for one reason or another. Her pink lips were tilted upwards, apparently in enjoyment of the tea she was drinking. Her white face still as perfect as it always was.

Fighting a depressing sigh, Yumi felt her shoulders fall. Why would Shimako even want someone like her, anyway? She had most likely changed her mind already. There were much better people than her. Sei… Noriko… even Sachiko would be better. Yumi knew that she had no really good outstanding features.

Just as the gloomy clouds of self-doubt were threatening to overcome Yumi's thoughts, she looked back up to Shimako's eyes. The girl had opened them, and was staring unblinkingly at Yumi. After a moment, Shimako's lips twitched up into a grin. Yumi felt her chest loosen as the returned the gaze. She didn't know what Shimako was thinking at that moment, but immediately began to feel a bit better.

Shimako was looking at her. She was looking at Yumi… and smiling. That was enough for Yumi to toss away any doubt she might have had about her. Not Sei. Not Noriko. Not even Sachiko. Shimako liked Yumi. Shimako thought Yumi was cute. For the first time in Yumi's life, she wanted to believe that she could have something that wouldn't put out any people.

But, could she be selfish enough to accept Shimako's feelings? Would it hurt anyone? Would it be alright? Would she still be a good girl who wasn't selfish? Could just once… or twice… be alright?

For the first time in her life, Yumi wanted to be selfish. She wanted to take something offered to her.

Taking a slow breath, Yumi reached up and carefully undid the azure ribbons in her hair. Taking one out, and then the other, she put her ribbons in her skirt pocket and ran her hand through her now-freed hair. Ending just behind her shoulders, she smiled as she felt her hair tickled the back of her neck. She looked at Shimako again, nodding as her friend's eyes widened just noticeably.

At once, she knew that Shimako understood. She could still feel Shimako's hand run through her hair, grasping at it when Yumi would, usually unintentionally and quite embarrassingly, whimper or moan as Shimako touched her skin. She could still feel her warm breath on her neck as Shimako had whispered "I love your hair undone…"

Yumi returned Shimako's shock with a second nod and took a small sip of tea. With a sidelong glance, she noticed the other girls in the room, all of them looking somewhat surprised at Yumi's hair.

"I just felt like doing something surprising." Yumi said with a shrug and a smile. There was a moment of confused silence in the room, but was quickly put at ease from Yumi's usual easy-going character.

"Oh! That's right!" Yoshino said, slapping her fist into her other hand. "Did you and Shimako-san end up at the same restaurant on Saturday?"

Yumi glanced at Shimako, who was looking back at her with a knowing smile. They both nodded to each other and Yumi turned back to Yoshino, whose eyes were alight with interest.

"Yea… we saw each other there."

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