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A Marmalade Boy fan fiction story
by DB Sommer

Disclaimer: Marmalade Boy is owned by Ayumi Yoshizumi, Tokyopop Inc., Toei, and TV Asahi.

Any and all C+C is appreciated. You can contact me at sommert@connecttime.net

Foreword: Having only seen four episodes of MB at Otakon last year meant only having a little information to go on, yet I felt compelled to write it anyway. Since then I've been informed that this seems to contradict later scenes brought up in the canon. Ordinarily I wouldn't post it, but even some of the people pointing out the contradiction felt there was little enough MB fan fiction out there it was worth posting anyway. So if the premise seems hard to swallow, assume it a closely related alternate universe.

I remember the epiphany. It was on a Wednesday between noon and one. I was eating lunch at the weekly get together with four of my oldest friends from when we were in high school. It was a ritual we developed to keep in touch with one another after we graduated and moved on in our lives. Sixteen years and I missed it maybe a total of four times, one of them when Miki was born. We were as regular as clockwork. It was as though the years had never happened and we were in high school selves once again. Over lunch we'd talk about many things. How our lives were going. Our marriages. Raising children. Sex. Anything. No subject was forbidden; that was how open we were. No guys allowed either. Not ever. That was the one unbreakable rule. It was so we wouldn't have to worry about putting on airs and looking good for them. This was a time for us to just be ourselves.

It was Miyabi who said it. She was always the crudest out of all of us. If someone in our little gathering of hens swore, it was her nine times out of ten. We always attributed her coarse behavior as the principal reason for why she was still single.

Miyabi was talking about some guy she was dating. She was going into great detail about him being a major hunk, and confessed to us she was having great sex with him. When I asked if she was going to marry him, Miyabi laughed and said it was nothing romantic, and that the two of them were just 'fuck buddies.'

That was the first time I had heard the word. The instant I understood what it meant, I wave of nausea passed through me, and it took all I had not to vomit up my lunch. That would have been something the girls would have talked about for months. I managed to regain enough control to remain at the table. I tuned out the rest of the conversation from that point on. I just wanted to leave. For once the girls were in my way. I needed time to myself to think.

It took an eternity, but the meal finally ended and we went our separate ways. Finally my stomach settled enough to think about that word, and the reaction it triggered inside me. I knew why it had such an effect. The explanation was simple, really.

It was the perfect term to describe my marriage to Jin.

Jin and I first met in high school on a double date. It was the typical story. A friend of mine and a friend of his were dating. When they talked about us, (including the fact we were both not dating anyone) they thought we'd be perfect together. So with the best of intentions they set us up to meet one another and go out with them. I didn't have my hopes up. My dating life up to that point had been limited and, frankly, disastrous. Still, I wanted to please my friend whose intentions were noble, if not terribly bright. So I smiled and pretended like I was looking forward to it. I figured it was only one evening, and if things went poorly with my date, it was only a one time thing, and I wouldn't have to feel guilty if I refused to go out a second time. It wasn't like he had asked me out or something. It was just a favor we were doing for someone else.

We agreed to meet near the school's soccer field around six. My friend and I waited for the guys to show up. The plan was to keep things simple: dinner and a movie. It wouldn't even take up the whole night, if things went poorly. It was a sound plan and strategy.

The first time I laid eyes on Jin I was delighted to see he was good-looking. Not incredibly handsome, not even head turning, but no one would call him ugly. I know it sounds shallow, but I've always been a proponent of the idea that there has to be some degree of physical attraction in order for there to be a chance at a relationship. Ideally, it shouldn't be that way. We should judge each other on who we are, not what we look like. On the other hand, models don't look like the rest of us lowly mortals, now do they?

Mind you, it wasn't 'love at first sight', I didn't believe in such a creature, but Jin was easy on the eyes. My first concern about being repelled by him was gone, and he didn't wince when he saw me, so I felt a sense of relief. It was a good way to start things off. If only the rest of the night went as smoothly.

Jin seemed happy to see me as well, probably relieved for the same reason, though I've never asked him about it. Since we didn't reject one another from the outset, we separated into couples, our mutual friends walking ahead of us just out of earshot, giving us time to get to know one another, as well as affording themselves some privacy.

We started talking, tentatively at first, but quickly became relaxed and opened up to one another. It was odd. While I had dated guys before, I never felt so comfortable with one. Moreover we had a lot in common (proving our friends were good judges of character), so we had a lot to talk about. I felt at ease with Jin in a way I had with no other guy. It was almost like talking to my female friends, but not quite. Jin was undeniably male, available, and we were on a date, so it wasn't exactly the same thing. He was the first guy I ever really 'talked' to, if that made any sense. Soon we forgot our friends were even there as we discussed everything from our favorite music, to what flavor ice cream we liked. What trepidation I felt slipped away as the night wore on. Everything went perfectly. We enjoyed the meal and the movie, and when it came time to call it a night, Jin decided to walk me back to my home. It was good sign, especially since he lived in the opposite direction. Our friends bid us goodnight, obviously delighted that we hit it off so well.

Since neither of us wanted the night to end so soon, we took a detour through a park, trying to remain together as long as we could. I wouldn't call what we shared romantic. Friendly was the word. Very friendly. I actually stayed out past my curfew, but I didn't really care. Here was a guy I was relaxed with and whose company I enjoyed. In one night I had more fun with him than with all the other men put together. He was worth a little hassle from my parents.

When it came time to call it evening, the date ended the only way it could: with a kiss. At the time I felt it incredibly romantic, yet unlike the exotic tales I heard other girls talk about. There were no fireworks going off. No sakura trees surrounding us in a storm of leaves. No groping. It was a simple kiss with a man for whom I had nothing but good feelings about, which were sharply contrasted with my fears at the start of the evening. Simply put, it was one of the best nights of my life.

Seeing each other again was a given. We went out the next night, and the night after that, and the night after that. I would probably have gone out with Jin every night of the week if my parents hadn't made me slow down. He met them soon enough, at their insistence, and they were nearly as enchanted with him as I was. I never had so much fun in my life as when I was with him, and while I wouldn't call myself addicted to him, I definitely enjoyed life more being with him than not being around him.

We were going steady within two weeks, and by the end of the month, we were officially recognized as 'a couple' in the eyes of our fellow students. It was odd, but kind of neat. I was never notable in any way before that, but now that I was part of a steady couple, it gave me a reputation, making others recognize my name even if they hadn't met me personally. Jin said it was much the same way with him. Once we were cemented as a couple, guys stopped hitting on me, not that I had an overwhelming number of advances to begin with. It was just that they (correctly) saw there was no sense in wasting their time with me since I was in steady relationship I was happy with.

It soon became obvious our relationship wasn't like that of those around us. I constantly heard from my friends and others describing their relationships in far different terms. The high points made them starry-eyed and giddy, sometime to the point of annoying those of us around them. The lows made them depressed, hollow shells of what they once were, some claiming they were so miserable it felt like killing themselves was the only way to end the suffering. No one ever did, thankfully, but I was relieved Jin and I weren't like that.

What we had was a steady, solid relationship, with little in the way of ups and downs. High points were when he would get me flowers or candy, and once he did buy me a small (very small) diamond necklace which brought tears of joy to my eyes, but it was hardly the torrid affair other girls seemed to have. Of course, while our love might not have been the blazing inferno others described, at least it didn't burn out like theirs inevitably did.

The low points weren't all that low either. Oh, there were the occasional disagreements and more rarely hard feelings over them, but they were fleeting and easily forgiven. I never once thought of leaving him, nor he I. Our trust with one another was so absolute that even if harsh words were exchanged, we knew in our hearts the other didn't mean it and never held it against them once things cooled down, which was always the next day.

Our trust was so deep that when I asked him if a dress I wore made me look fat, I wanted him to tell the truth. And if he said it did, I was glad he told me. I never felt angry or resentful, the way most of my fellow girls did, which I took to mean my relationship with my boyfriend was far more stable than theirs.

Everything went steady and smooth. After we had dated a year, becoming seniors in the process, we began having sex. It just seemed that it was the next logical step forward in a relationship neither of us wanted to end. Most of our friends had lost their virginity, and they hadn't dated half as long as we had. Our first time wasn't even planned. It was just something that happened on the spur of the moment. While it might not have been the result of a long candlelight dinner and dance followed by a room in an upscale hotel, it was definitely one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. We began doing it on a regular basis, though neither of us was demanding. We were always sensitive to the other's need. The sex was enjoyable, though neither of us had anything to compare the experience to. It only helped to cement our already wonderful relationship.

With our graduation came the next logical step in our continuing courtship: marriage. Everyone seemed to agree, as the announcement of our engagement was met with knowing looks or "it's about times". The engagement was brief, and soon we had our wedding. It was a small ceremony with family and friends, but it was the most wonderful day of our lives.

We set up a home near the university Jin and I attended. I waited to become pregnant until we graduated. The pregnancy was by the book, much like my marriage, though with the birth of my daughter, I discovered there was something much more wonderful than my wedding day. Having Miki was by far the most incredible thing in my life, making my marriage pale by comparison. Jin felt the same way. Our lives revolved around our newborn, and she became the most important thing in the world. It took a great deal of restraint for us to not dote on her too much and spoil her, though I think we might have from time to time.

We became a family then. Jin was hired by a solid firm making a decent wage. I was a homemaker and housewife, and enjoyed it. Everything flowed smoothly, with few bumps in the road. It was like we were the ideal family, which was what I believed for years. We were the envy of everyone we knew.

But there was a feeling of dissatisfaction. Something not quite right with everything, but I couldn't put my finger on it. There was something missing, and for the life of me, I couldn't figure out what it was. It grew worse over the years, more noticeable, almost irritating. It was like having an itch but not knowing where to scratch. It was distressing. Even when I mentioned it to my friends, they had no idea what it could be. My life lacked any real problems. Both Miki and Jin were fine. It felt like there was something off inside me.

And then it all came into focus with one brusque phrase. A fuck buddy. Someone you sleep with while lacking any real sense of attachment. The more I thought about it in conjunction with myself, the more I felt like that was what I had with my husband. While we loved each other, it wasn't with any sense of infatuation. There was little in the way of passion between us. It wasn't so much a marriage as much as a business partnership. We didn't dislike one another, on the contrary, we liked each other very much, but at the same time it seemed we never cared intensely about one another. That was why I had never minded it when he told me a dress made me look fat: I didn't love him so deeply that I would feel automatically hurt by a non-flattering comment he made about me.

It was like my life was built on a lie, but that wasn't exactly true. It was an illusion, one I created and fooled myself into believing was something it wasn't. I found myself not with a husband, but with a fuck buddy. It was nothing like a true marriage. If I did love Jin before, I certainly didn't now. Cared, but not loved, and there is a world of difference between the two.

It was horrifying to me, but it was the truth. And as much as I cared about Jin, at the same time, I couldn't pretend nothing was wrong. On the contrary, the very nature of our relationship, and the trust (which was a real thing) made it so I had to tell him how I felt, even if, for the first time in my life, I really and truly hurt him. But that honesty was the foundation of our relationship (unlike passion, which was what marriage was supposed to be about), and without that, we truly had nothing.

Waiting for Jin to come home that day was one of the hardest things in my life. Luckily, Miki was at a friend's house. She had been doing that a lot more often since she entered high school. She was blossoming as a girl, and I was proud of that. I couldn't have said anything while she was around. While my love for my husband was not that deep, it was the exact opposite when it came to my daughter. I would do anything for her; even maintain the illusion of a happy home, if it came to that. But I didn't know what to do, other than discuss things with Jin. We'd have to put out minds together to come up with a solution to my problem. I only prayed we could.

I didn't wait. Once Jin came home, I told him we had to talk. It was easily the most loathsome thing I had to do in my life. After Miki, Jin was the most important person in my life. Never had I done anything to hurt him, and now I was going to, and it was due to a failing on my part, not his. But I couldn't refuse to tell him either. I just couldn't.

So I confessed everything, as though I had cheated on him. I was a babbling wreck by the time I was through, all of it a self-inflicted wound. When I was done with my rambling emotional speech, Jin just looked at me in shock. I finally understood what those girls back in high school meant when they said their relationship took a turn for the worse and they wanted to kill themselves. I wanted to die on the spot of hurting him this way. It was entirely my fault. He was blameless. I cursed the day I had met him. Better never to have met him than to hurt him this way.

After several minutes of sitting there, staring off into space, I couldn't take the silence anymore. I asked him what he wanted me to do. To pay for my sins, I would do anything he wanted. All he had to do was ask.

And then he spoke, reacting in the one way I never thought he would. It was one phrase which would stay with me to the end of my days, and perhaps the only form of salvation I could have.

"I feel the same way."

Now it was my turn to be struck speechless. Of all the reactions I considered, that was not one of them. It was his turn to confess the same thing to me, though I only half listened. It was too much to be believed. It wasn't until some of my higher functions kicked in that I realized it actually made sense. We treated each other in much the same way. We were a lot alike in personality, which was one of the reasons we got along so well together. It only made sense that he too was suffering in the same way I was, though he hadn't figured out what the problem was anymore than I had before that day.

Once the truth set in, I was nearly hysterical with laughter. It was as though a great weight had been taken off my shoulders. After Miki, it was the greatest gift my husband could have given me. He joined me in relieved laughter. It was odd, how one could feel so delighted in discovering their marriage was a horrible mistake. Almost perverse, but it was the way of things.

After we both calmed down, we talked things out, as we always did. Perhaps the single advantage in not loving one another deeply was that we weren't as careful about not hurting one another. Love and hate go hand in hand, and lacking the first made the second more difficult. We had to do something, for Miki's sake if for no other reason. We both loved her far more than we ever loved each other, and divorcing on the spot would have hurt her terribly. It was decided we needed to try to salvage things for her sake. In order to do that, we would need some time alone together, and perhaps a spark would ignite our passions. Of all the men I had ever met in the world, Jin was still the one I cared about the most. There had never been anyone else that turned my eye, not that I had been looking around. So perhaps he was what I was looking for, and we just needed to find a way to make the connection between us deeper and stronger.

We decided on a romantic cruise to Hawaii. That would give us the time and isolation we needed to reconcile. We moved quickly, taking off at the end of the month. We maintained a solid wall of togetherness in front of Miki until then. Actually, it was quite easy, since she was the common ground we shared at the moment, while at the same time we were frightened at the new truth that had intruded into our lives. But we maintained the facade for her sake.

The end of the month came and we were off. I was looking forward to seeing what would happen now. It was odd, but almost from the instant we left Miki behind, I felt a wave of relief wash over me. It was then I realized how much pressure I felt in trying to pretend nothing was wrong. Now I was afraid. If our attempt to kindle our passions failed, I didn't know what it would be like having to go back home and feign a happy married life with Jin. It had been bad enough before when I didn't know what was wrong. But now that I did, I had to do something to fix it. I just hadn't figured out what to do yet. I prayed the trip would garner the results both Jin and I wanted.

The suite we had was truly romantic. Flower petal were scattered across the room, heart-shaped chocolates on our bed. Everything was in valentine red. The mood was perfect, but I felt no desire to do anything with Jin. We made a weak attempt at making out, but it was obvious neither of us had our hearts in it, despite intentionally avoiding having any sex since our discussion. But even now, with the setting and atmosphere ideal, our love making would have been perfunctory. We both realized it, so we dropped the matter and went to sleep. Only if things occurred naturally could it possibly work out between us.

The next day we were a good distance out on the ocean, gaining the solitude we wanted. However, whatever we were hoping for wasn't there. Nothing seemed to jump start the feelings we had hoped would be triggered on the trip. It was still early, but we were not off to a good start. There was little to talk about, since we knew each other so intimately. We simply couldn't figure out where to begin.

By the time dinner rolled around, we were frustrated at being stymied so easily. Also we were becoming bored. If nothing else, this was a vacation, and we both wanted to enjoy it, but the palpable cloud of worry that hovered between us prevented anything but misery from seeping in.

During dinner we were seated at stunned to discover it was some old acquaintances of ours from college: Youji and Chiyako Matsuura. It was hard to believe we came across each other after so long. We picked up where we left off, chatting up a storm.

While my initial intention was to talk primarily with Chiyako, I found Youji just as interesting as his wife, if not more so. I don't know what it was about him, but there was something fascinating about his presence that hadn't been there when we were in school together. He was still extremely handsome, witty, and interesting as well. Honestly, he was unlike any man I had met since Jin, but while we got along almost as quickly as Jin and I had, there was something else there, a tension that had been lacking when my husband and I met as teenagers. At least on my part, though I could have sworn Youji was showing a bit more attention than was proper for a married man with his wife sitting right next to him. Then again, perhaps I was doing the same. My judgment was somewhat clouded, given the circumstances.

Not that Jin or Chiyako noticed. On the contrary, they were going on like old friends as well. At the time I could have almost sworn they were flirting with each other, which was preposterous. Jin never flirted with anyone, including myself. It wasn't that he was shy; he just didn't do that sort of thing.

Dinner ended all too soon, but since we were on a ship, and having nothing better to do we invited the Matsuuras to our room for some drinks and to continue our conversation. Our revelry went into the wee hours of the morning. We chatted away all through the night, never tiring of one another's company. Chiyako and I got along well, probably better than I did with any of my friends, but I had to admit, I found Youji the more interesting of the pair. My initial impression of him was only confirmed the longer I was in his company. There was something alluring about him, a sort of animal magnetism, and I could see why his wife had decided to marry him.

Reluctantly we called it a night, with a promise to meet each other in the morning. The mood had definitely changed between Jin and me, as we started to relax and enjoy the trip, rather than trying to force the issue of romance between us.

I was eager the next day, my thoughts turning to breakfast with Youji and Chiyako. Jin was just as excited as I was. I managed to grab the bathroom first, taking extra time to make myself presentable. It was a bit odd, me trying so hard to look good for our new friends, but for some reason I wanted to look my best when meeting them, though my thoughts were more in line with impressing Youji.

We arrived ten minutes late because of how thorough I was in cementing my appearance. Jin seemed a bit irritated at my taking so long. I thought for a moment he might be jealous, but whatever annoyance he had melted when we met the Matsuuras again. Jin was gushing all over Chiyako, and I confess I did much the same with Youji. I noted that Chiyako was wearing an extra bit of make up herself, and Youji was extremely well-groomed as well. He looked even more dashing and handsome than the night before, and I felt the faintest pang of jealousy at how lucky Chiyako was to have landed such a handsome husband.

We picked up where we left off. Breakfast passed quickly, with all of us getting along famously. It was a bright sunny day, and being on a ship, we decided to work on our tans. We went back to our rooms and changed. I chose the smallest bikini I could find and tied it on, hoping to impress one person in particular. I thought Jin might not have approved of me showing so much of my flesh to our new companions, but he didn't say a word. I could have sworn he didn't even notice, distracted as he was. It was curious, but then, my mind wasn't really focused on my husband at the time, and to be honest, I wasn't the slightest bit interested in his opinion.

This time we arrived first. We grabbed a quartet of chairs on the deck, next to the ship's swimming pool. The Matsuuras weren't long in a appearing, and I learned I didn't have to worry about how much flesh I was showing when Chiyako removed her shirt and showed off an even smaller bikini than I did. While her bust was slightly larger than mine, my hips were narrower. I'd say we were about even in the looks department, and since I was getting along so well with her, I didn't feel jealous at all.

Jin was quick to greet Chiyako, kissing her on the cheek. The gesture surprised me. My husband was not the type of man to greet a woman so affectionately. But my musings were quickly distracted as Youji grabbed my hand in a gentle hold and kissed the back of it, complimenting me on my looks. From that moment on, I didn't care what my husband did. I preferred Youji's attention to his by far.

Rather than each couple lying next to one another, a curious thing happened. When we had first come out, Jin and I had sat together. But Jin offered Chiyako his lounge chair while he sat on her far side, putting us on each side of her and not giving Youji a chance to sit next to her. Rather than complain, he sat down on the open seat next to me on the far end, forcing him to always look at me, even if he wanted to talk to anyone else. While he did end up talking to the others, most of his attention was focused on me. I didn't feel like complaining either.

Despite the unusual seating arrangement, we got along well. We went rambling on with one another for a while, until I needed to roll over. Having second degree burns on the second full day of my vacation was not my idea of a good time. While it would have been more proper for Jin to apply the lotion to my back, Youji was closer. It seemed simpler to allow him to do it.

Not wanting to trouble my husband, who was in deep conversation with Chiyako, I held out the bottle of lotion in offering to Youji and asked him if he would reach those hard to get places on me. There was eagerness in his eye that I hadn't seen in Jin's for years, if ever. While it should have made me uneasy, instead it only excited me. Youji seemed to come to his senses as he reluctantly asked Jin for permission to lotion me up. Jin just gave a dismissive wave, as though it was the most trivial thing in the world and he would just as soon not have been troubled by it. Chiyako interrupted though, by telling her husband it would be all right if Jin was allowed to do the same to her. Youji laughed and said it was fine trade off. Now Jin seemed attentive and eager as he grabbed a bottle of lotion and Chiyako happily rolled over for him.

The men really worked the lotion into our bodies. I was thrilled at the very touch of Youji in ways I couldn't possibly describe. I felt like a little girl with how giddy I was. Youji was hesitant for just a moment once he got to my bottom, but there was no way I wanted those magic fingers of his to stop their dance upon my flesh. I urged him to go on, even being so bold as to say he had permission to rub the lotion in wherever he'd like. He laughed and took me up on my offer. Chiyako wasn't any better, telling Jin he'd better do the same to her as she didn't want to get burned in any sensitive places either.

I can't imagine what Chiyako and I must have looked like, being touched in such a familiar manner by men other than our husbands, while the men in question watched, no less. Had something like this happened in our neighborhood, it would have been borderline scandalous. Instead, I didn't care. There was something about being in the presence of Youji that made me throw all my concerns to the wind. Slowly, insidiously, the rest of the world was ceasing to matter, and it was only Youji who I could focus on.

It was my turn to lotion up Youji. I took my time, savoring the feeling of his taut muscles under my fingertips. He was a lot like Jin, physically, and in as good a shape. Very little fat, and lean, but not in a skinny way. Despite the fact they were very physically similar to one another, I had no doubt there was something about Youji that was a bigger turn on than Jin had ever been.

We lay like that for some time, rotating a couple of times to keep from burning, talking the entire time as we got to know each other better. I found Youji fascinating. Not just in the life he led, but his personality, his caring, even the way he talked with a faint Kansai accent that was just barely detectable. If there was a downside to the man, I couldn't tell what it was. He was incredible in every way. I had never met anyone like him.

There was also something else, an almost instant connection between us. Even Jin and I hadn't hit it off as powerfully as this. There was something much more basic, almost instinctive, which caused me to be drawn to him. I found myself envious of Chiyako, having a man like this as her husband. I wished Jin was exactly like Youji, and then I wouldn't be so dissatisfied with my life. I'd never be dissatisfied with anything ever again. That was the effect he was having on me.

My ruminations were interrupted by someone shouting about a pod of dolphins that were flitting about on the other side of the ship. I had always loved dolphins, and fantasized about seeing some on the vacation. I was up in an instant, declaring to the others that I wanted to watch them.

Jin simply shrugged, saying he had no interest in them and remained where he was. In our entire relationship, from the first date on, I could never recall him being so casually dismissive of something that I obviously wanted to do. He had always been supportive, no matter what, and I was the same way with him. To have the man I had been married to for seventeen years so casually brush me off bothered me.

Then Youji came to my rescue, a knight in a pair of swim trunks. He said he'd be delighted to see the dolphins, and had always had a soft spot for them. He held out his hand in offering to Chiyako. She remained where she was, saying she would rather work on her tan than watch a bunch of fish jumping up and down. Youji seemed surprised by that, saying he thought she had always liked dolphins. She shrugged and said she wasn't in the mood.

I no longer cared about Jin's refusal to come along. In fact, with Chiyako choosing to remain behind, I was looking forward to having some time alone with Youji. We went together to the opposite side of the ship to peer over the railing. Many others had gathered there was well to watch the dolphins leap acrobatically through the ocean as they traveled alongside the ship. The number of people made things a bit crowded, so Youji and I had to squeeze into a space that was enough room for about one and a half people. Our bodies rubbed up against one another, oiled flesh on oiled flesh, and a tingle shot down my spine. My physical reaction was evident through my small bikini. I blushed at the response my body was having to Youji's presence. I only hoped he didn't notice. It would have been embarrassing.

I tried concentrating on the dolphins, but it was the way Youji's brushed against me that had my complete attention. I found myself fantasizing about what it would be like to have sex with someone other than Jin. Would Youji be just as kind and caring, or would he be rough, or more refined? I couldn't tear my mind away from what it would be like.

Then, to my shock, I felt his hand slip around my waist. It was a gesture far more familiar than propriety called for considering we were both married, even if my own marriage was a sham. Had it been any other man, I would have removed myself from his grasp, and made some weak excuse as I walked away. Instead I moved into his embrace. Embarrassment was gone, so I savored the sensation his mere presence induced in me. He seemed to take that as permission, and began stroking my side. It had always been a sensitive part of my body, and I moved closer still until there was plenty of space on that railing for both of us.

It was only a matter time, I suppose, before we stopped paying attention to the dolphins and looked at each other. I turned in his embrace and found myself lost in his eyes, just like overly sappy romance songs claim. Earlier I thought he was merely good-looking, now I knew he was the most handsome man on the planet. My world was suddenly focused on him. I didn't care if I was married. I didn't care about anything other than Youji. It was a sensation I had never experienced before: unadulterated lust. It was as though thirty seven years of it hit me all at once.

Our faces moved together and we began kissing. Deeply, passionately, unlike anything I had ever done with Jin. It was almost animalistic the way we devoured one another. The floodgates had been opened and they weren't getting shut anytime soon.

We became vaguely aware of the sounds of disapproval from the other people surrounding us. We overheard one of them telling us to 'get a room'. In our current state of mind, that sounded like a good idea. Reluctantly we broke off our kissing, Youji guiding me by the hand into the interior of the ship, I following as closely as I could. It took only moment for me to realize we were at his room as he opened the door and pulled me inside where we began kissing again.

"Chiyako… might… find… us," I got out between kisses. I didn't care if Jin discovered what was about to happen. It was over between us now, no matter what. I couldn't be married to him, knowing what a man like Youji could be like.

"She didn't take her key with her," he got out between kisses.

That was all I needed to know. Lacking any reservations, we began pulling off what few clothes we had, and nearly threw each other onto the bed. For the next two hours we made engaged in what was the finest lovemaking of my life. I finally learned what other girls meant when they described their own relationships and the passions that sustained them. Being with Youji was indescribably wonderful. It was the fireworks and the love and the bliss that everyone gushes about when they're with the person they love. I had never felt a sensation like it before, and never wanted it to end. It made what I did with Jin seem boring by comparison. Having our lovemaking end was the saddest moment in my life. Nothing was as tragic as that. Nothing.

It was while we were lying in bed, that Youji began talking. He became serious, and I thought I knew what was to come. I heard from a couple of single girls I knew who had affairs with married men, about how the men broke it off. There would be excuses and apologies and explanations of how it was a one time fling and he could never leave Chiyako. We got caught up in the heat of the moment and let our emotions run out of control. Now we would have to go back to the others and act as though nothing had happened so we could continue moving on with our lives. It was all going to end forever. He hadn't said a word and I already hated him more than I had ever hated Jin. And we weren't even married.

And then he said the words that would live with me for the rest of my life.

"My marriage to Chiyako is over."

Youji began explaining that they had only taken this trip as a last ditch effort to save their floundering marriage. It wasn't an exact mirror image as mine and Jin's had been, but it was close. He and Chiyako had been dating for a while after graduation before she had become pregnant with their son, Yuu. Youji had done the responsible thing and proposed once he found out. The marriage was quite good for a while, but it was never based on the true depth of love that was needed to sustain it. They still got along well, but their relationship was dead. They had tried salvaging it for Yuu's sake, but they were becoming resentful of being faithful to one another when neither wanted it. They decided to make this voyage one last attempt to stay together, but he knew as soon as he met me that it wasn't going to work out. He too had felt an instant attraction to me, and the more he learned about me, the more deeply he felt drawn, until his restraint snapped like a dry twig and we ended up in bed.

Once purged of his confession, Youji finally started to apologize. I shushed him and told him my own situation. He didn't believe me at first, but when I threatened to punch him in the head (only half jokingly), he realized I was being serious. I told him it was love at first sight for me as well, truly a new experience, but it was real. I wanted him more than any man I had ever met, and if he was telling the truth, we were both about to become very happy.

We began kissing again, far more slowly but with just as much as passion as before. I felt my soul take flight, knowing that I could experience this sort of thing again, hopefully for the rest of my life. He felt the same way.

There was only one thing left to do: inform our spouses about what had happened, and what was going to happen. I had to tell Jin before he figured it out on his own. I needed to explain what had happened. I owed him that much.

I went to our room. It was one of the longest walks of my life, despite it being less than a hundred meters. I unlocked the door to our cabin, certain Jin was waiting there for me by now, wondering where I had been. But I was wrong. It was empty. I was about to leave when I noticed the sheets were disheveled. When we had gotten up that morning, the cleaning woman had been working on the room next to ours. There was no way she could have been unable to get to it by now.

I walked over to the sheets and looked them over. I noticed the wet spots immediately, and it didn't take a genius to figure out the origin of the wetness. All of a sudden, my brain managed to process information that had just been lying around, all of my higher functions that had been focused solely on Youji. Now that I thought about it, I suppose the attraction between Chiyako and my husband had been obvious from the beginning. His interest in her was as great as my interest in Youji. And now, knowing what the Matsuras' relationship was like, reflecting Jin and mine's in so many ways, it seemed obvious that they too had taken an interest in one another. A very deep interest.

Rather than feeling jealous, I felt relieved. I was happy for Jin, and for Chiyako. Now that I had fallen truly in love with someone (for perhaps the first time in my life), I didn't have any anger left in my body. I only hoped they came to the same decision Youji and I had. Perhaps they were even looking for us now to tell us what had happened. It was strange... no, bizarre was perhaps the better word, of what had happened between the four of us. But it seemed to be the best answer to all our worries and concerns.

We'd have to take some time off to be with each other, to make sure our emotions aren't a transient thing, but deep in my heart, I knew they weren't. Understanding Jin in every way for over half my life, and the seeming instant connection I had with both Matsuuras, I can't help but feel that what seems to have happened between the four of us is meant to be lasting. It's the perfect solution to all of our problems. I hadn't been a proponent of Fate until that moment, but it was the only explanation. The odds that the four of us found each other during the greatest crisis of our lives were astronomical. Better a chance to find a needle in a haystack. There was only one complication from this seeming perfect solution that had me worried.

How were we going to explain what happened to Miki?


Author's notes: There's my little take on the thoughts of some of the underused characters in the series. Someone might have actually done this before, but if so, I was unaware of it. It's just something that came to me and I had to write it down. Don't count on me doing anymore MB fics. I still haven't seen much of the series, and it doesn't look like I'll have the time to watch more. Still, it was a neat little thing.

DB Sommer

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