Disclaimer:

I own don't anything copyrighted that may be mentioned in this fic. All that stuff belongs to its respected owners and creators, NOT me. Sheesh, would've guessed you'd all have figured that out by now…

(Props and thanks go to Shikaido Yuki for the inspiration to this story's idea; and my dear friend Victoria –aka.- Keahi- for providing other parts of a woman's POV into this story and for keeping me focused on this series!)

Author's Notes:

Christ…Has it really been a THREE YEARS since I last updated? Geez…I'm so sorry folks. I didn't mean to keep you all hanging like that. No excuses, I've been focusing on everything but this wonderful series of mine, but no more dilly-dallying! Big things happen in this chapter! After this there's one final chapter and two more for Pink Gender Origins after the one recently uploaded dear readers, and let me say it's been an honor to have such loyal and devoted fans such as yourselves. Enjoy! (and be sure to read Origins!)

*bows and scoots away as curtain rises*

Pink Gender

Chapter 22: "Hurting the Ones We Love"

How did this all begin? I think it was when Oshizu confessed her love for 'Momose' in class…

Yeah…

Since then, I've been torn more and more lately, in between my time with Sojiro, with regret…Could it be that I was done being a girl now? But I had things now as a girl I never had in my previous gender. I had friends. I had a lover. I had a LIFE.

And yet, when Bunzo…Or rather Iroha came to my home with her family…I was happy she was accepting her female form, but…

"I think that would be a simple answer," Dad grumbled at Bunzo telling us she wasn't sure about going to school as a boy or girl. "You should choose to stay a man no matter what. Of course, some of us can't choose such things because of what we are inside."

That glare. It pierced my heart like a red-hot javelin as Dad's expression sent shivers of sorrow through my small form. Before I knew it, I ran from the table, bawling my eyes out in the bathroom. Why? Why couldn't he accept me as I am now? Was having a son that much more important to him than my happiness?

And yet…

And yet, I wasn't happy anymore. Not like that first day. It wasn't that being a girl had lost its shine, it was that…I was just now realizing that I would never get to live my life as I could have…Would I have ever been friends with Oshizu and the rest? It seemed like the only reason she professed her love publicly was because she thought Momose was injured. Would she have ever wanted to be with Momose seriously if Miko never existed and I was still that shy puny boy who always got picked on?

I…I just couldn't think straight. Before I knew it, I felt a strong set of arms around my form as I looked up to see Bunzo.

"How long have you been keeping this in?" she asked calmly. I felt tears well in my eyes as I buried my face into her shoulder and sobbed, letting loose everything (though I doubt she heard it all properly).

But our moment was cut short as we both jumped from a loud bang upstairs. Frightened, we both left the bathroom to see...

Bunzo's dad holding my dad up by his shirt??!!

"WHO THE F--K DO YOU THINK YOU ARE??!!" Mr. Johnson snarled while dad cowered in his stuck position. "Who do you think you are? We are parents and therefore must love our children. Now there are a few things that can lose that love. Killing and being a mass murderer are valid reasons to stop loving your children. Them being unhappy with their sex and wishing to become the opposite sex and then accidentally turning into it; isn't one." Dad continued to remain paralyzed in fright as Mr. Johnson added, "You have a sensitive caring child down there. But, all you give a shit about is that you don't have a son. My own child was worried I wouldn't love her because of what happened. I can see the example you give is probably a lesson as to what some "parents" do." Both Bunzo and myself were shocked at the tone and...usage of that word. It was as if he had made it into a curse word. "Now you better get your own shit together, because that girl deserves a caring father. If you don't…." Bunzo's dad then threw mine to the floor and stormed down the stairs with a growl, his wife bowing as they were apparently leaving.

"I apologize for the problems. It was rather nice to be here. For a… well for a house that uhh… never mind." There was something...displeased in Mrs. Johnson's voice. Whether it was from my dad's actions or not I couldn't tell.

With a warm hug from my god friend, Bunzo smiled. "I'll be back when things calm down," she said reassuringly as she wiped my tears carefully with her fingers. "And no crying, alright? You have to be tough as a girl too sometimes ya know? And besides I cried enough earlier for us both."

And then...Bunzo gave a gentle kiss to my cheek...!

I felt my cheeks blush at her...her...

"Was that feminine enough for ya?" she chuckled before winking and following her parents as the Johnson family left the Kasanagi residence.

I snapped back to reality a few seconds later, shocked that Bunzo seemed to be FINALLY adjusting to her form.

"Dear, are you alright?" Mom asked hesitantly as she went to Dad and helped him up. Our eyes made contact briefly, but rather than glare at me this time...I was presented with the image of my father torn and depressed in a way I had never seen before as he broke our eye-contact and went to his and Mom's room.

Great...He was going to drink again...

No.

No.

NO!

"This has to end...!" My voice trembled as I stormed up the staircase, passed Mom as she said something to stop me, but it was no use. I was THROUGH with this!

As I came to Dad, his back to me, I could see him open a container of that awful sake, ready to chug it down.

"Dad!" I fumed in my choked voice.

"Leave me..." was all he muttered as he lifted the bottle.

With a firm smack, I knocked his putrid poison out of his hands and spilled the contents on the floor. My head spun a little from the scent, but I remained transfixed on my father's face as his gaze became horrifically warped at the sight of his precious booze gone.

"Dad!" I fought back my tears. "This ends NOW...How can you be upset that I'm not a boy anymore when you're not even a MAN because you just keep drowning your sorrows and uneasiness in alcohol...And...And...I was happy to become a girl...The least you could have done was be glad I was happy with my life...If...If you d-don't want to stop drinking and making me feel like I'm a failure...Then...Then you should just leave this house and never come back!" I roared as I trembled in my mix of sadness and rage. We stood there, our eyes locked at the other's, until my willpower and adrenaline faded, leaving me on the floor on my knees as I sobbed helplessly into my hands.

"M-Miko..."

I froze. I had heard that name numerous times...But this was the first time Dad...ever said it with any semblance of care or concern. I looked up and found my father had fallen to his knees too, weeping into my shoulder. "I'm sorry...I'm sorry..."

I patted his back, my crying lessened now at his first act of acceptance. I saw Mom out of the corner of my eye, her face relieved as she went to us and held us both, comforting us.

And for the first time since I became a girl, the Kasanagi family was whole once more...

---

The last few days of vacation were spent with Mom and me helping Dad accept he had a problem, as well as sign him up for a support group for alcoholics. It would be rough, but I had faith that we'd all get through this in one piece.

New Years was spent with just the three of us together at home, being a family again and enjoying each other's company.

When I returned to school, I was anxious to see Bunzo (or maybe it would be Iroha now?) and see how she was doing. I also wanted to tell her the good news about Mom and me dealing with Dad and his wanting to get better.

As I opened my locker for my school slippers, a note fell out.

I blinked and picked the plain paper up. Was it a love letter? Did Soji want to say something to me?

As I opened it, though, I was surprised in an unpleasant way.

'Dear Miko,

I've decided to head to America again. I've got to make my school there count. Thank you for helping me out this time and being my friend. I'm sorry I won't be there for your time with your parents. But, I have to leave with my parents. Please forgive me.

-Bunzo

PS. Please take care of…'

The last part was torn off, but it was obvious what the message was. I was so horrified that I had frozen in place and dropped the note.

"Hm? Miko? You dropped this..." I turned my attention to Oiko who stood next to me as she picked up the letter, glancing at it for a bit...Then I watched in horror as her eyes bulged to the size of dinner plates and her face became pale "No..." she gasped.

"O-Oiko...!" I gulped as I took the paper from her. "Um...Look, let me just-"

"He can't leave!" she turned to me sternly, her eyes watering. Several students glanced at us, but she didn't care. "I...I still have…unfinished business with him...Miko...Let me talk to Bunzo!" she pleaded.

"Um..." I took a step back. "S-Sure, but what are you-"

"I'm going to get that dummy to stay here. Even...Even if I have to tie him to a fire hydrant!" she proclaimed with anger and sadness. She really did like Bunzo...

"Uh, well, if you think you can do it, I won't stop you, Oiko...W-We should probably head to class, though," I cleared my throat and tried to lead her away from the lockers. But then Oiko's expression changed as she started to lead me. "Um...Oiko? What are you...?"

"I'll deal with Bunzo this afternoon, but right now there's some things we need to deal with you for," she smiled jovially.

"Wait, what?" I asked as we made it to the classroom. Oshizu, Yuki and Oyhaku were all sitting together as they smiled at me.

"Mornin' Miko!" Yuki chirped.

"How ya doin'?" Ohyaku smiled.

"Did you have a good holiday?" Oshizu's smile reminded me of just why I wanted to be a boy again…

"More or less," I sighed as I returned a smile to my friends as we all sat together during our free time.

"Something wrong?" Ohyaku gave me a concerned look.

"Well, some family trouble is all. My…uncle has been drinking a lot lately and he finally hit rock bottom. But things are looking better at least," I smiled once again, deciding not to talk about the incident with Bunzo for the time being.

"Oh my!" Oshizu gasped. "Sorry about your uncle. I never knew Momose's father was like that."

"He didn't…do anything to you, did he?" Ohyaku frowned.

"N-No, of course not," I gave a short laugh in surprise. "He wouldn't do that. He was just a sobbing mess when we finally confronted him and such."

"Whew," all the girls sighed in relief.

"Well, if things are going okay, I suppose we can have you join us without a problem?" my dark-haired crush smiled.

"Join you? Where?" I blinked.

"We're having a picnic this weekend to plan for the hotsprings trip we're going on next holiday," Yuki beamed. "We do this every year, all paid generously by Oshizu's aunt who runs the shrine and inn in the mountains."

"And since you're a part of the troupe now…" Ohyaku smiled.

"…We'd like you to come with us from now on," Oiko winked.

"Do you think you can make it?" Oshizu patted my shoulder.

"Um…Sure!" I awed at the invitation. "Um…" but then I fidgeted for a moment.

"What is it, Miko?"

"Well…C-Could we maybe invite another person? Uh-! N-Not to be rude and all…" I blushed.

"Maybe. Who did you have in mind?"

"Um, Bunzo's sister Iroha…" I suggested sheepishly.

The girls each had their own reactions to my statement. Oiko's eyes gleamed, Yuki looked confused, Ohyaku didn't seem pleased, and Oshizu was just surprised in general.

"Well…Is it alright with you three?" my crush asked the others.

"I suppose," Yuki shrugged.

"Of course!" Oiko chirped.

"Well…" Ohayku sighed. "Maybe…Is she anything like her ass of a brother?" she frowned back at me.

"Um…" I thought for a moment to the other day when 'Iroha' came to my house. Yeah…She could probably behave herself…I just have to depend on Oiko's promise that she'll get Bunzo to stay… "No, not as much. She's a bit of a hot-head, but otherwise a good girl."

"Well, I'll take your word on that," our feminist friend nodded. "I vote in favor of Iroha coming too."

"Alright then, I suppose she should come with us to our picnic then," our leader smiled.

"I'll be sure to ask her to come!" Oiko blurted with excitement as we all blinked at her.

"Admit it, you just wanna see her brother while you're asking her," Ohyaku narrowed her eyes as she grinned.

"Sh-Shut up!" Oiko blushed as she puffed her cheeks in anger.

"Well then, it's settled," Oshizu clapped her hands as we all laughed. Our teacher entered the room shortly after and we resumed class. Lunch went on without a hitch. And when school ended for the day, I met up with Sojiro, the two of us hugging warmly.

"How was your holiday?" he asked with a quiet smile.

"Alright, had some issues at home, but nothing serious," I smiled back.

"Oh? Well, as long as everything's alright," he nodded.

"And you? How did things go at home?"

"Well, aside from that Johnson girl leaving the house, things were alright. Do you know if she was alright? I know you and her brother are friends, so I figured you'd know if she was okay."

"Oh…" I gulped, shuddering at remembering Christmas Eve. "She was at my house and we called your family's doctor to help her out. She was a mess and almost died…" I took a breath. "But she's fine now and her parents got her home safely."

"Well, I'm relieved to hear that," my boyfriend sighed. "I'm sorry if she was any trouble."

"No, none at all," I reassured him with a smile. "She's a friend, so I was just glad she was alright afterwards."

"Well, in any case, do you want to get back to training at my house today?" he asked so kindly…but I shook my head as I decided to discuss something with him.

"Actually…Soji, I have something I want to ask you…" I looked at his taller form, our eyes locked in a gaze.

"Anything. Is something the matter?" he blinked with concern.

"Well…" How should I have put it? I wanted to be a boy again…But I didn't want to let Sojiro go… "Soji, what if…What if I had to move back to Kyoto…and…and I wouldn't be able to come back again?" There was really no other way for me to describe the situation, so this would have to do.

"Why? Is Momose getting better? I recall you saying on your first day here at school that you had come over to take care of him, right?" my beloved asked.

"Well…Yeah…he seems like he might be able to recover fully, but it's not certain when or if at all. I…I just want to know, Soji, if I had to leave…what would you do?"

"What would I do?" he blinked in shock. "Miko…I'd wait for you until-"

"No!" I stopped him. I felt my heart pain at his hurt expressions, and had to will myself to keep explaining. "If…If I have to move back to Kyoto…I…I want you to move on with your life. I love you, Soji, I really do! But…I don't want you to wait for me to come back if there's a chance I'll never return…Please…" I felt tears run down my eyes. "I just want you to live a happy life…even if that may mean you'll have to find another girl to spend that life with one day."

I felt his strong arms envelope me as he held me close, his heart beating against me as he spoke,

"Miko…Even if it comes to that…You'll always have a place in my heart…" I wanted to cry at his words. Sojiro…Am I being selfish? Could you forgive me if I went back to being a boy? Would you ever forgive me if in doing so, I started dating Oshizu?

"S-Sorry…" I hugged him back. "I'm just worried, that's all. If what you say is true, then I feel better. You'll always be someone special to me too," I sniffled back. We stood there, entwined as we kept warm from each other's love. Sojiro would always be important to me, that wasn't a lie no matter what my gender was.

"Would you like me to walk you home today, Miko?" he looked down at me with a calm smile.

"Sure," I nodded as he wiped a tear away from my face. We stayed close, never letting go of each other's hand as we said little and just enjoyed being together. I'd miss these moments if I was a boy again, but, I couldn't help but wonder what it would be like to have such moments with Oshizu…

When Soji said goodbye to me at my house, I felt a bit more at ease. We had dinner that night, Dad actually hugging me when he came home, smiling as he gave my forehead a kiss. It was an emotional week and especially today, but I was content with all that had happened.

The next day I headed to school like usual, trying to see if Bunzo was still in her class. She must not have arrived yet, and I stayed until almost five minutes before the bell to be sure…But she never showed up. I met Oiko and the others in the hallway (apparently they were waiting on me!), and…Oiko didn't seem saddened despite Bunzo not showing up today. Why then? Was Bunzo still staying but still a little weak from Christmas and had to stay home? I couldn't think too much on the issue as we all hurried to class and got our seats. Something seemed out of place in the back of the class, but I didn't pay attention as I sat down. As our teacher came in at the bell, she announced to us,

"Well we have a new student today. She's from a private school and is transferring over here. She's an American, and I believe some of you have known her brother. Please welcome our new student, Iroha Johnson."

My heart froze.

She…She didn't just say…Iroha Johnson?! Did she??

As I looked over, it seemed Bun-…Iroha was the person I spotted! How did I not pay more attention to that!?

Hojo and his cronies gasped as Iroha wrote her name on the chalkboard.

"That's the bitch that ambushed us!" he exclaimed as he stood up and pointed at our 'new' classmate.

Our teacher gritted her teeth in anger and fumed, "Hojo, I will not have you interrupting class."

"But she attacked my friends," was all the bully could sputter back.

"Actually I believe you attacked her and just happened to lose," Soji commented, the class laughing at Hojo for losing to a girl. Well…If only he knew the truth about Iroha…

"That will be enough out of both of you," sensei sighed as she had Iroha answer questions. I could only stare at Iroha, still in shock. Bunzo said he was leaving though! How did…Did Oiko manage to convince him? And if so, HOW?!

After the questions were done, Iroha was assigned a seat in the back. She passed by me, patted my shoulder as she dropped a torn scrap of paper on my desk. Looking at it, it matched the missing part of the note she had left me! It didn't make sense until I pieced the two together,

'PS. Please take care of my sister Iroha when she starts school.'

Class went on, and during lunch break, Iroha was first out of the class.

"Oiko…" I asked our petite friend as we all got ready to sit together for lunch. "How did…?" I was too flabbergasted by Iroha being here that I just couldn't get the words out of my system.

"I'm kinda surprised myself, actually…" she blushed. "But…Bunzo will be making trips back when he can. At least, that's what Iroha said," she nodded with a smile.

I felt so…relieved. She was staying…And she was ready to live her life (for the most part) as a girl…I wanted to cry, but I held it off as I bowed to my friends.

"Sorry, I need to talk with Iroha for a second. I'll be back though," I excused myself as I bolted out the hallway to find where Iroha went. I had to ask around, but eventually I found her in a tree…Smoking…Ew…

"Iroha..." I sniffed, the emotions finally spilling out as I frowned. "You made me think you are leaving. That's… that's horrible," I glared back at her.

"But Bunzo did leave. I'm Iroha," she smirked. I felt my body go limp at her words. She…She had a point…

"Oh…So… You're Iroha?" I blinked, surprised she had accepted being a girl now as she nodded. "Oiko might not like that," I frowned again, but she was quick to retort with another grin.

"I already promised her a date with Bunzo. And when he visits he will."

"Oh…. Well come on down," I took a breath, feeling relieved now. She leapt from the tree, her skirt twirling as she smooshed her cigarette under her shoe.

I glared at Iroha…How dare she make me worried sick! But…That was just who she was…

I then hugged her tightly as I pouted, "Never ever do that again."

"Ok, I won't," she sighed.

"Good," I parted from her and nodded. I heard footsteps behind us as I turned to see my posse had followed me. Nosey bunch. "Oh… meet my friends. You can all be together now," I smiled as I led Iroha to the group.

"So, this is the famous Iroha Johnson who beat the hell out of Hojo's gang?" Ohyaku gave a scrutinizing glance at my foreign friend. "Gotta admit, that takes guts. Guts and some serious strength."

"Well," Iroha smirked evilly. "My brother could do so much better than I did that night." I rolled my eyes at her comment, she was still that cocky Bunzo…

"Well, introductions are in order," Oshizu beamed as she gave a slight bow. "I'm Oshizu Tanaka."

"Ohyaku Konnobawa," our feminist friend gave a curt nod and a smile.

"Yuki Miamura. Nice to meet you," our otaku friend smiled with a generous bow, her purple hair bouncing.

"And you've already met Oiko, I suppose," Oshizu nodded as Oiko blushed.

"Yeah," Ohyaku quipped. "Because she has a thing for your brother."

"Shut up, Ohyaku!" our tiny friend fumed with a bright pink face. "Iroha and I met the other day, actually," she humphed with her arms crossed. Iroha gave a bow to the group, though it wasn't precisely like someone raised in Japan would do. But that was to be expected.

"I'm glad to meet you all," she smiled warmly at the group.

"Well then," I finally spoke. "Let's go eat together." My now bigger circle of friends agreed as we all headed to our class to munch and gossip.

---

The week passed, Iroha fitting in with our group more or less as we did things like we normally did. We then met up at the park on the weekend for the picnic, Iroha picking me up at my house that late morning.

"Yo," she smiled as I answered the door that day. I was still trying to adjust to seeing Iroha in feminine clothing of any sort, so today's outfit of her wearing a turtleneck and skirt that left only a finite amount of her figure to the imagination was still an odd sight. "Hey! Wipe that grin off your face, Miko Kasanagi!" she scowled as I did everything I could to not laugh.

"S-Sorry…" I took a few deep breaths to calm myself. "I still think you're Bunzo when I see you, that's all. But that'll change soon enough," I smiled.

"Well, anyways, ready to go?" she rolled her eyes.

"Yeah, let me get the sandwiches I made," I nodded as I hurried to the kitchen to snag the wrapped egg salad and cheese meals, following my tall friend as we went to the park together where we met up with the others. The six of us all sat together in the shade of a tree that still managed to have a few leaves left in the park as we ate.

"So then," I asked after taking a bite of my meal. "What sort of hotspring inn is it we'll be going to?"

"A natural one," Oshizu beamed. "It's been owned by my family for generations, and it's quite popular amongst the townsfolk. The bathing areas are separated by gender and are completely outdoor, so you can relax and watch the stars while soaking."

"Ooooh," I blinked. "Sounds awesome, right?" I looked over to Iroha.

"I suppose," she shrugged. "Never been to a hotspring despite coming here with my family now and then, so it's all new to me."

"Will we be the only ones there?" Ohyaku asked as she took a bite of her sandwich from the ones I made.

"Yes, Mom reserved the whole place to ourselves with my aunt and uncle running it for the trip."

My GOD, if Oshizu ended up being my wife I'd have been LOADED. But…no, that's not why you marry someone…if I could marry her anyways…

"-iko," our feminist friend tapped my shoulder. "Hey, quit spacing out," she giggled. "I was complimenting you."

"Hm?" I blinked to look at Ohyaku. "What for?"

"These egg-salad sandwiches," she smiled. "They're really good."

"Oh, thanks," I giggled back. "I don't mind eating eggs now and then, plus egg salad is an easy thing to make. But I like to put some cheese on them now and then like I did with these ones."

"Well, thanks for making them, they're quite good," she licked her lips as she finished her last bite.

"You'll be a perfect cook for Soji as his wife," Yuki mewed with a laugh as I felt my face go beet red at the comment. I saw Ohyaku give Yuki a death glare and told her off on making me embarrassed (though I was more conflicted with all that's been going on in my head lately).

"That's enough you two," our leader butted in to end the squabble. "Miko, there's nothing to be ashamed of with that. Soji and you would be a wonderful married couple," she smiled to me as I felt my heart melt like microwaved butter.

"Yeah…Thanks, sempai," I smiled with a blush still present. Despite her expressions, something did seem to be amiss with my former crush's eyes. Something…forlorn maybe? Or was it worry? I couldn't place it but made sure to look out for anything else that would give me clues on what might be wrong with her. Despite that, we managed to all have a fun time planning our trip coming up, even Iroha was getting excited by it (though knowing her it was probably to be with a bunch of naked girls while hiding in plain sight).

---

The drive to Oshizu's family-run hotspring inn was long, but when you're with your friends a whole three hours is nothing. We talked of shows, hilarious commercials, and class incidents, just like regular girls did. Yep, even Iroha was starting to fit in with the group. By the time we arrived it was mid-afternoon and the air was chilly with faint snowflakes in the air.

"W-Wow…." I gawked at the inn. It was old-fashioned in its design but it was rather big for a place so far from the city.

"Impressive, ain't it?" Ohyaku grinned at me and Iroha as we stared in awe.

"Move it, slowpokes," Oiko and Yuki chirped as they shoved the two of us forward with our luggage as we made our way inside to take our footwear off.

"Welcome!" a young man probably no older than 33 greeted us in traditional Japanese garb. At the counter was Oshizu's aunt, who while the same age as her husband and though she did just have a baby, she looked JUST like my sempai did but more…mature? Is it possible for a woman to look more mature than Oshizu already did and still be beautiful??

Well, turns out it was…

"Shizuka!" the aunt smiled as she went to her niece as they hugged. "Is you mom outside?" she continued to radiate her aura of youthful new-mom as she looked outside. Our driver, Mrs. Tanaka, was finishing the check to make sure we all had our stuff out. "Onee-chan! Welcome!" she grabbed her sandals and went to meet her elder sister. MY GOD she was different that Oshizu in personality.

"Aunty…" our leader sighed with a smile as we all just looked at the young mother's dash to the outside. "Oh well, some things never change," she turned to her uncle.

"Well, that's why I married her," he laughed in his still energetic voice while combing back his dark thick hair with his hand. "So then, I remember Yuki, Oiko, and Ohyaku, but you two must be the newcomers of the group," he looked at us. "I'm Saku Tanaka, Shizuka's uncle and landlord of this inn. It's a pleasure to meet you two," he bowed to us happily.

"I'm Iroha Johnson, nice to meet ya," my fellow transgendered friend tried to mimic the bow.

"And I'm Miko Kasanagi. A pleasure to meet you, sir," I greeted him too.

"Kasanagi…?" Mr. Tanaka blinked as he looked at Oshizu. "Is she a relation to-?"

"She's a good friend whose cousin is that classmate!" our leader quickly cut her uncle off as we all blinked at her.

"Oh-HO!" Yuki and Ohyaku both grinned.

"So, they know about Momose-kun?" the purple-haired otaku of our group poked the tallest of us (well, second-tallest now with Iroha) teasingly.

"My WORD, Oshizu," Ohyaku purred. "And yet you're blushing and didn't want your uncle to say your beloved's name even though you're here in front of his cousin? Shame shame…" she wagged her finger.

"Guys!" Oiko finally blurted. "Leave her alone. So what if she likes Momose still?" she then gave a sarcastic glare. "After all, where's YOUR man, Ohyo?"

Our resident women's liberation member's eye twitched at that remark as she sauntered over to Oiko and gripped her head as she pushed it down slightly.

"I seem to recall threatening to pummel anyone who called me that stupid name ever again…don't YOU?" she gritted her teeth in a grin while our shortest friend squeaked in fright.

"Hey! Lay off Oiko!" Iroha grabbed her crush's tormentor by the wrist. "If you wanna fight, I'll be glad to take her place," she sneered.

"Hmph! I'm just kidding, sheesh," she shook her hand free.

"Eeeehhhhh? What's got you all defensive, Iroha?" Yuki broke her silence as she grinned. "Looking out for your future sister-in-law?"

"S-Sister-in-law!?" Iroha and Oiko both sputtered with blushes.

"Bingo, that's what I thought," she murred with an impish smile.

"Now now, Yuki," Oshizu patted our quirky friend's shoulder. "At least the guy Oiko likes isn't afraid to talk to girls." THAT surprised me. Usually Oshizu wasn't the type to get involved in these little tussles. Actually, we all were shocked, but Yuki went bright scarlet at that remark.

"Nozo-kun isn't afraid of girls! He talks with me every night and-!" she then paused as we all looked at her with interest.

"Checkmate," Iroha grinned. We all burst our laughing (even Yuki) as Oshizu's mother and aunt looked at us with bewildered expressions after coming inside.

We all unpacked as fast as we could. Each of us sharing a room with one person. I was going to volunteer to stay with Iroha so she didn't feel uncomfortable, but I was surprised when she picked Oiko. Did she want to talk with her secret admirer without being 'Bunzo'? In the end, Ohyaku and I got to share a room and Yuki and Oshizu were paired up. As we undressed to get into our robes for the bath, I was taken back by seeing Ohyaku's form. I hadn't seen her in anything revealing, let alone naked, so I was caught off guard with how well-developed her figure was for being only 16.

"Hm? Whatcha staring at, Miko?" she smirked with pink cheeks. "You're acting like you've never seen a fellow girl in the buff," she laughed without hiding her unclothed form.

"N-No, I'm just…Well, surprised. You've got a great figure, Ohyaku," I blinked as I felt a little embarrassed that she caught me staring, so I hurryingly put my robe on and grabbed my bucket of toiletries, walking alongside Ohyaku, I guess the others were already done since we didn't see them in the hallways or in the bathing area.

"Hm…we're either ahead…" I mused.

"Or they're already out there," my feminist friend chuckled. "Oh well, we'll be here all weekend, so a few minutes isn't going to take away all the fun and resting," she giggled back to me with a smile.

"Yeah," I nodded back with a laugh as we both got to washing ourselves. "Oh, could you get my back?" I asked causally, getting used to bathing with a girl my age now. We were both girls, even if I was a boy originally, so I didn't feel odd about it now. A soft and careful scrubbing got my back lathered as I felt a sigh escape my lips at how good it felt. A rinse of warm water snapped me back to reality, though.

"Mind getting me too?" Ohyaku smiled back as she sat down and handed me her wash rag and soap. I tried to repeat her hand-motions as she sighed too. "Mmmm….You're good at this…do you do massages for your mom and aunt?"

"Sometimes, but I was actually just trying to copy what you did just now," I laughed back.

"Well…you got a knack for it," she smiled back as I finished and washed her off. I kept my towel wrapped around my body as I headed to the door, but once again I noticed Ohyaku didn't feel as concerned about her nakedness. I suppose all the girls were used to being at the hotsprings together for this. Maybe I'd make the plunge next year.

As we both headed to the cold air that made my skin prickle with goosebumps, I could see the steamy outlines of my friends. The water…Okay, if you've never been to an open-air bath in the winter, you're missing out like CRAZY. It was perfectly warm and toasty as I dipped in, wading to my friends as Ohyaku was behind. Oiko and Bunzo were wrapped in towels like me, Yuki was naked, and Oshizu had a towel held to her front. These were my friends, but it was my first time feeling a slight guilt at seeing them like this when I was originally a guy.

"Welcome, slowpokes," the four of them laughed and me and Ohyaku as we all sat around some rocks together.

"Yeah yeah," the two of us smirked back as we sank into our seats in the hot splendor that was the hotspring. A sigh of delight escaped both our lips as we sat against the rock barrier that allowed us to make a hemi-circle.

"So…Iroha…." I sighed more as I felt my body melt at the wonderful sensations. "How are you liking your first time in a hotspring…?"

"To be honest…" she took a deep breath with her lips smiling. "I figured it'd just be like being in a Jacuzzi…but I'm REALLY surprised at how nice and different this is…" She looked so relaxed, it must have been like heaven for her in her female body.

"Yuki, you're not in a towel this time?" Ohyaku smirked.

"Nope," she stretched, her modest bosom bouncing a bit. "I realized that with as much cosplaying as I do with sexy outfits, being au'naturale in a hotspring should be a cinch. And it is," she giggled.

"Maybe you're a closet exhibitionist?"

We all stared at Ohyaku with our cheeks flushed, Yuki's entire face bright pink.

"WH-WHAT?" she gulped in fright. "I may be an otaku who l-likes to cosplay…but…I'm not some sex-freak!" she stood up and fumed as our feminist member giggled back.

"Kidding, kidding!" she waved her hand as our purple-haired friend took her seat once more.

"Funny, I figured YOU would be in that category, Ohyaku," Oiko came in for the save. "We've been coming here for years and I've never seen you wear a towel in the water even once," she grinned as Iroha and both exchanged blushed smiles. We both knew that a guy would kill to be in on this kind of conversation in a hotspring.

"What?" Ohyaku grinned back as she stood up in all her glory. "Being a feminist means disregarding the shame that male-dominated society brainwashes you into believing in. I'm not a nudist, I just take pride in the body I was blessed with as a woman," she smiled as Iroha and I both gawked while trying to hide our perverted stares. We really were guys deep down…

"Yes yes, we've heard that one before," Oshizu finally spoke with a sigh while her former contender in height finally returned to her seat. "In any case, there's something I want to ask you on the feminist subject, Ohyaku," she then asked in a serious expression.

"Oh? What's that?"

"Was there ever a guy that you were interested in?"

The entire group went dead silent as the normally cool-headed member of our troupe looked shocked.

"Well…There was one," she looked down as she blushed. "He turned out to be an ass though," she then regarded Oshizu with a stern look. "He wanted a girl that was submissive and accepting of him but had to be willing to change for them."

"When was this?" Yuki blinked. "I never saw you with anyone at school…"

A pause came again as Ohyaku finally spoke.

"Two summers ago," she finally admitted. "It was at my grandparent's town when I was visiting…"

All of us were listening with interest and worry now, our lamenting friend curled in a ball as she kept her expressions subtle. "My grandparents' town had a lot of kids my age, and few were boys. I was at the summer festival when I met one. I was skeptical at first, but we had a good time and really hit it off. I saw him everyday and we talked. He was pretty cool and fun to be around…" she then took a deep breath. "We even…" she shut her eyes as a tear beaded down her cheek. "…We even lost our virginities to one another…" she managed to choke out.

At this point we all gasped. Even Iroha.

"We seemed like it was a good relationship forming, but near the end of my stay he started getting demanding of me…He wanted me to move to town so he wouldn't have to worry about me leaving him. He told me I'd make new friends…But I didn't want to leave you guys…so I told him to just wait until we both graduated high school…." Another painful pause occurred as Ohyaku glared at her knees as she clenched her fist. "So he started talking crap about how I'd sleep with other guys if we were apart, and how that if I didn't stay near him he'd tell the town what a slut I was…"

"Ohyaku…" we all sniffed.

"…So I beat the living crap out of him and ran off crying," she hissed though her clenched teeth. "I never told my parents. Not even my Dad...I just said the guy broke up with me and that was that…A-Anyway," she stood up and forced a smile. "I'm getting kinda dizzy, so I'm gonna head back early and take a nap. You guys have fun," she with a wave as she headed off, her walk denoting a stiffness that was obviously from her pain.

"Oh my god…" Yuki and Oiko started to cry.

"I never knew…" our shortest friend held onto Iroha as she sniffed. "…that was why she doesn't like guys…"

"I should have realized that was a touchy subject…" sempai rubbed the tears from her eyes. I knew what I had to do then and there, and made what would be the most crucial decision of my life right then and there.

"I'm going to talk with her," I stood up and headed off to find my roommate.

"Miko!" Oshizu tried to stop me. "She needs some time alone right now," she bit her lower lip. "Something like this…being reminded of such a horrible memory is hard enough; she's going to need some time to just let it out."

"What she needs is someone to let her cry it out," I faced my former crush with a teary but stern look. "She needs someone to be there for her to tell her to just let it all out. She's my roommate, let me deal with her. Trust me, sempai," I then gave a warm but quiet smile.

With a reluctant sigh, she let go of my hand.

"Alright, call for us if you need any backup," sempai hugged me from behind.

"Sempai?" I blinked as I felt her warm body press against mine lovingly. "What are you…?"

"Sorry," she let go of me. "I was just thinking of how right you are…and how I'll need to be there for Momose in the same way when he finally comes back," she smiled as she caressed my face. "Now go on and help our friend out. We'll finish up here soon."

"Okay," I nodded with a blush as I dried off and got my robe back on. I got a little lost in the inn, trying to find my room as I heard a sobbing sound and a guzzling sound too. As I slid the door open slightly, I was greeted with a rank stench as I found Ohyaku was on the floor, her robe disheveled with her bare body exposed indecently, and gulping down a bottle of sake that she must have pilfered from Oshizu's aunt and uncle's supplies for guests!

"Ohyaku…?" I gulped with a knock, trying not to stare at her lewdly-exposed body.

"Hrrrm?" she faced me with glossy but teary eyes. "What izzit?" she moped.

"You need to stop!" I lost it as I tossed the rancid drink to the side hugging my barely-clothed friend. "Please…This isn't how you deal with something bad…" I started to sniffle. "My father was getting drunk when he had to deal with things he didn't like…and it made him a mess…Please…I don't want one of my best friends to go down that path…If you need to vent…" I looked up into her dark eyes. "Cry into my shoulder all you want. Just let it out as much as you need, Ohyaku…" I smiled despite my equally tear-stained eyes.

"Miko…" she sniffled as she looked to the side in shame before taking me up on my offer, sobbing into my robe as she held me tightly, her wailing muffled as I stroked her short hair and patted her back. "I…I don't deserve…!" she continued to cry.

"No, it's okay, Ohyaku…" I reassured her. "This is what I'm here for…Just let it out…"

I was shocked as she parted from me and looked me dead-center in the eyes as she continued to sniff.

"Miko…You're so sweet…" she clumsily tried to dry her eyes with her wrist. "I knew it was fate that we met…" she then embraced me differently than before as she brought me into a deep kiss, her hot breath filling my mouth as her equally burning tongue and its rank flavor of sake met with mine while she pinned me to the ground, slowly parting as my head began to spin.

"Oh-…Ohyaku…?" I started to breathe hard. I was getting warm all over from the alcohol that was spilt filling the room with its pungent aroma and from…from Ohyaku's actions.

"Miko…" she tried to stop her tears. "I knew from the moment I saw you that you were someone special…I…I was afraid to see it…but you're everything I could ever want in someone…" she kissed me again, this time quicker as she moved her kissing to my cheek and to my neck and collarbone as I had trouble struggling from my lightheadedness. What was she doing…? Don't tell me she was…she was…

Before I knew it I was assaulted gently with her expert hands and lips as she made my body feel things I never thought possible. I squirmed, cried, and tried to fight back, but these foreign sensations kept building as I soon lost all rational thought. I had never touched myself since I became a girl…it was all too much as I felt something explode in me and I tensed. I'm not sure how long this had been going on or how long since I climaxed, but soon I heard footsteps and the sound of fists and a thud. Screaming, yelling, cursing…then someone holding me up in their arms as my vision managed to focus and I was greeted with the melancholy gaze of worry and fright of my sempai as she held me tight. My head started to clear again as I suddenly realized what had happened. Iroha…she found us when Ohyaku was…my eyes went wide as I felt so reviled at myself for doing something so wrong even if it was forced upon me, clasping onto Oshizu's robe as I shook in horror and disgust while screaming and crying in terror of what had happened to me.

---

After the girls talked things over with Oshizu's aunt and uncle, they had Iroha, Yuki and the man of the house guard Ohyaku as she sobered up cold-turkey and was kept away from me.

I on the other hand was left alone in my own room (a different one so I didn't have to smell the horrid sake bottle), Oshizu and Oiko guarding me as a last-line of defense should something happen.

It was late, so dark that I could barely see anything more than five feet in front of me when I heard a knock on my door. I heard a light snoring that was from Oiko because in between the snores were mumblings about a tan boy and Valentine's Day chocolates.

"Miko…? You up?" sempai asked hesitantly. I was curled in a ball in the sheets, my heart still in my throat at the revulsion I felt for being molested by my own friend.

"Mm-hm…" I answered back without looking. I heard the door slide open quietly as I heard my former crush crawl inside a little while keeping a distance away from me out of respect.

"Miko…" she said in a choked voice. "I'm sorry…This is all my fault…" she began to sniffle.

"You didn't know…" I managed to say back. "None of us ever guessed Ohyaku was a…was a…"

"That's not what I mean!" she sobbed back as I looked over to her in confusion. I could see her tears bead down her cheeks even in the dark, and saw the same pain Ohyaku wore on her face earlier…no…this was a greater look of hurt and worry…

"Sempai…?" I asked, now worried myself.

"None of this would have happened…" she said in between sobs. "If I'd just…"

"If you'd just what…?" I asked with hesitancy.

"If I'd just been honest and given you the attention and affection you deserved, Momose…"

I felt my eyes widen to saucer-plate size as my heart flat-lined.

To be continued…

Author's Notes:

One quick thing, the final chapter will be posted in a few weeks if not sooner. Thank you SO MUCH for staying tuned, dear readers!