“Papa!” Miki Kaoru had been playing the piano in the music room when he heard the high voice call out. “I've been looking for you Papa!” Miki looked under the piano and there he saw a child, a girl he guessed, with curly blue hair and familiar light-green eyes. She smiled up at him.
“I'm sorry.” Miki helped the little girl out from under the piano. How had she gotten there to begin with? “But I'm not your papa.”
“Yes you are, you look just like you do in that old picture.” The girl said, looking a little fussed.
“What old picture?” Miki tried to think of who in Ohtori this little girl could be mixing him up with.
“This old picture!” The girl pulled the picture out of a little bag she had at her side; it looked like she had a couple jars of something in there, but it was the picture that grabbed Miki and didn't let go. It was a picture of him and Juri in their fencing uniforms, taken for the fencing club just last week! And there were only two copies, one for each of them, so where did this one come from and how did it get so beaten up. “See, this is you and this is Mama!” She pointed at Miki and then at Juri.
Miki fell back. He was on eye level with the girl and he recognized her eyes, the same as Juri's in the picture. “How...How did you get here?”
The girl looked down at her feet. “I don't know. Mama and you brought me here for some reunion or something, and I went exploring and then I heard you playing and I came in here and...”
“Its okay.” Miki put his hand on the girl's shoulder. “I'll figure out how to get you back where you belong.” He gave her a smile. “Now, what's your name little lady?”
“Mei!” Mei beamed. “And you called me 'little lady' just like you do now. I mean later. That means you really are my Papa!” Mei hugged him! Miki returned the hug.
“Aww, that's so sweet Miki!” Miki let go of Mei and spun around and saw Utena Tenjou standing there, along with Anthy Himemiya and Wakaba Shinohara!
“Miss Utena, Miss Anthy, and Miss Wakaba, how long have you been there?” Miki felt Mei peeking around him to look at the girls, there was no hope of hiding her from them.
“Just when that little girl was hugging you and saying something about 'Papa'?” Wakaba said.
“Yes!” Miki stood up at attention. “She's looking for her papa and I said I'd help her find him and that's what I'm going to do!”
“My my.” Anthy said, laughing that soft laugh of hers. “Perhaps you should ask Juri for help.”
“No.” Miki felt his face burn bright red. “Um, I'm sure that Miss Juri is quite busy right now, and I'm sure I can handle it on my own.”
“Yeah, you're probably right.” Utena said. “But you should still tell her about it afterward.” Utena said, almost nudging him in the shoulder.
“Yeah.” Wakaba was now down with Mei. “That way Miki can show Juri what good papa material he'll make one day; doesn't that sound fun?”
Mei was about to answer when Miki's hand shot over her mouth and he picked her up over her shoulder. “I'm sorry we need to go so suddenly, but I'm sure Mei's papa misses her very much.” Very much unlike his own father of course. That old man could not wait to be rid of both of his children. But that wasn't important right now, getting Mei back home was! So Miki ran off, face red and girls laughing at his departure.
“Papa!” Mei got Miki's hand off of her mouth. “Why didn't you tell them the truth?”
“Because,” Miki's face slowly cooled down, “If they knew you were Miss Juri's and my daughter, then they would start thinking that there was something between us and they would start meddling.”
“But Papa, I thought you and Mama were always together.” Mei said.
“I wish that were true...I mean!!!” Miki's face burned bright again. “Miss Juri and I are just friends right now, and now isn't the time for me to even think about telling her about how I feel about her.” Miki silently commanded his heart to agree with him, and it did. Eventually.
“Oh.” Mei said. “I think I'd like to walk again.”
“Okay.” Miki put her down and walked with her, careful to keep her in his sight. She kept doing little skips, and he noticed that she did it rhythmically. Miki smiled down at Mei.
“And just who is this?” Miki looked up and there he saw Saionji standing before him.
“Um, her name is Mei and I'm trying to help her find her parents.” Miki said.
“Hmph.” Saionji took another look at the little girl. “Odd; she almost looks like a mix between you and Juri, but even I can see how ridiculous that would be; if she were to be involved with a man, it certainly wouldn't be with a weak child like you-OW!”
“Don't talk bad about Papa!” Mei had kicked Saionji in the shin! “He is nice and kind and Mama loves eating his muffins while he plays piano and-!” And Mei was cut off as Miki picked her back up and ran off while Saionji tended to his injured leg and his injured pride. “Papa?”
“Mei, you can't just kick someone because you don't like what they have to say.”
“But he was being mean and you're my favorite papa in the whole world!” Mei said. “And Mama loves you so much Papa, what did he even mean about you being a child? He's not that much older than you.”
“Well, Saionji, you saw it for yourself; he's much more masculine than me and...” Having to admit his shortcomings as a man to his own future-daughter, how could this day possibly get any worse? “OOF!”
By running right into someone when he wasn't looking, that was how. “Miki, what's going on.”
Miki froze, he just ran into Juri Arisugawa, the person he most wanted to see in general and the person he least wanted to see right now! “Mama!” Mei got out of his arms and wrapped herself around Juri. Juri was speechless, just staring down at the little girl with her curls and her eyes.
“Miss Juri, um, I can explain.” Miki said, and now he was stuck trying to come up with an explanation that wasn't the truth. She looked into his eyes and he admitted defeat. “Her name is Mei, she's from the future and she's our daughter. She came back with this too.” He gave Juri the old picture that they'd just taken only a week ago.
“I see.” Juri lifted Mei off of her and looked her in the eye. “Well then.” Juri pressed her lips together. “We should go find our future selves and return you to them.”
“We can all go together!” Mei took Juri's hand in her right, and Miki's hand in her left. She stood in between and was humming a happy song to herself, not paying attention to anything else.
“So.” Juri said. “Our future-daughter.” They were walking on either side.
“Yeah.” Miki laughed awkwardly. “Um, I hope this doesn't make you feel like you have to get together with me, if you don't want to. Which you probably don't.” He certainly wouldn't want to be with himself as he was.
“Why do you say that Miki?” Miki turned his head towards her. “I've always been rather fond of you. Having a child with you one day in the future, it wouldn't be as big a leap as all that.”
“It wouldn't?” Miki's heart skipped a beat. “Miss Juri...” She teased him, she'd teased him a lot, but she was never once insincere with him. She was never the sort to toy with his heart like that. She could be cold, distant, closed-off, but deceitful and manipulative? Never.
“There you are Mei.” A voice so like his own and yet not. Miki looked forward and saw himself. He was taller, older, mature. He had become an adult, and yet Miki wasn't repulsed and revulsed by the sight. “I told you we'd find her Juri.” And, and he didn't even use the honorific with Juri! Who was even more beautiful than she already was, and Miki didn't know how that was possible!
“Papa! Mama!” Mei let go of their hands and then grabbed their hands. Their future-selves hands. Obviously.
“Its good to be adventurous,” the future Juri said, “but you have to be careful around here; Ohtori is a funny old school, its easy to get lost in.”
“It sure is!” Mei tugged on their hands. “I want to meet the more older green hair guy and see if his shin still hurts!”
Future Miki chuckled while present Miki blushed. “Well, let's not keep him waiting then.” And so the three walked off. They went around the corner, and when Miki and Juri followed after them, there was no trace. Just the old picture that Juri still held onto.
“Now what's this about Saionji's shin?”
“Its a long story. Well, not that long, but I don't suppose I could explain over tea, Miss Juri?” He thought about not using the honorific, but his tongue insisted.
Juri paused. “That sounds like it would be very nice, Miki.”