|The Tension High Series
Author: profiler120 PM
The confusion continues... Is Keiko paranoid, or is Kurama really stalking her? [KuramaKeiko]Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Drama - Chapters: 4 - Words: 32,129 - Reviews: 83 - Favs: 49 - Follows: 31 - Updated: 01-28-06 - Published: 01-28-05 - id: 2238937
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
This story is written first person Keiko - when it switches to italics, the p.o.v. switches to another character.
Credit: The idea for this story came from the Keiko's Demon's mailing list, which in turn came originally from the Princess Destiny one-hour challenges page. I do not remember which challenge number it was though.
As I was turning the corner, my foot caught on something and I stumbled. Glancing down I caught sight of a school notebook. Figuring someone had merely dropped it, I picked it up. The cover was plain blue material with no writing. I shifted my schoolbooks in my arms and flipped open the thin cover hoping to find a name inside. If I knew the person I'd return it personally, if not, I'd just drop it off at lost and found and be done with it.
I was expecting, hoping really, to see someone's name scrawled inside the front cover. I wasn't expecting to see my own name.
But there it was, blazing it perfect red inked letters.
I was class president, maybe it shouldn't have been so shocking. People talked about me sometimes, it didn't bother me. Sometimes it was positive, sometimes it was negative, it couldn't be helped, but as I glanced over the contents of the first page I realized this wasn't about me serving as the current class president of our grade.
It was... whoa.
I'd heard people were always very in-tune to their own names, either in print or in conversations, even if it's clear across a room. I was inclined to believe that, so maybe that's why I picked my name out of a chunk of text.
A big chunk.
A big... embarrassing chunk, let's say that. My cheeks flushed.
I snapped the book closed and started toward my locker again.
Okay, maybe turning this in wasn't such a good idea. I didn't exactly want the office staff reading it, now did I?
At my locker I quickly spun the correct combination on the tiny lock and pulled it open. From inside I grabbed my bag and then headed toward the shoe room to change out of my school slippers. The mystery notebook ended up tucked between my advanced mathematics and my literature.
Six minutes later when I vacated the school yard I found myself glancing around looking for someone suspicious.
Who had written such a thing about me?
Was there some weirdo on campus stalking me or something? Should I be worried?
I looked up to see Yusuke and Kurama at the school gate. Yusuke was dressed casually, but Kurama was still dressed in his school uniform.
"Is something wrong?" I asked curiously.
"Nah, I'm hungry. I was hoping you'd treat me to some noodles at your folk's shop."
I frowned at him, but it sounded about normal for Yusuke, but what was Kurama doing here? I looked toward him expectantly.
"Good afternoon, Keiko."
I smiled and nodded at him. "Do you want to come also?"
He shook his head. "Thank you, but I must be getting home. My brother is awaiting me there."
With a short round of ending salutations, we parted. I didn't watch Kurama go, I didn't really think about it. Not after Yusuke started badgering me about why my face looked flushed. I wasn't about to admit to him what I'd found in the hall, I wasn't even sure what to do about that myself. So I said nothing and he assumed my coyness had to do with me having a crush on someone.
I denied it and he teased harder, the jokes becoming cruder as we walked.
I was glad when the noodle shop came into view, I was getting away from Yusuke.
Or, that's what I planned. Only once we were inside and the greetings to my parents were out of the way and Yusuke had his bowl full of complimentary noodles, he said something that totally floored me.
"So you got the hots for Kurama, eh?"
I couldn't have been more surprised had he suddenly said he thought I wanted to play strip poker with Hiei.
"What?" I was sure my mouth was hanging open.
I hadn't thought of Kurama that way. Ever.
Well... maybe I had once or twice but it was just a passing sort of thing, it was never a real serious contemplation or anything.
Kurama was like the pretty boys in commercials, you looked, you admired, but you never really ever met guys like that. It was an exception that I'd gotten to meet him, certainly, but I always felt uncomfortable around him. He was sort of a local celebrity and I was just little unimportant Keiko.
When next to Kurama, I was ignored. I wasn't offended, that's just how he was.
"Of course not, what gave you that impression?" I asked dumbly, falling into the chair beside him.
I should've left.
Why didn't I go?
"I saw you checking him out." He slurped his noodles loudly as I watched. "Staring right at his butt."
I blinked, astonished.
I hadn't stared at his butt, had I?
Of course I hadn't!
I never stared at anyone's butt, and certainly not Kurama's.
Although he probably had a nice butt... argh! Damn Yusuke!
Now I'd probably look the next time I saw him and Yusuke would be looking for it and he'd catch me and then I'd blush like crazy because he'd point it out to everyone and humiliate me.
What a jerk...
He smiled coyly and waved his chopsticks at me. "Want me to drop a few hints for you?"
"You don't drop hints Yusuke, you drop anvils and no. I wasn't staring at his butt or staring at him at all for that matter."
He scoffed. "I know what I saw. When you were walking toward the gate your eyes were planted on his ass."
"They were not, I didn't even see Kurama when I was walking outside, I was completely lost in my own world. I have a lot of responsibilities at school."
"Suuurrree, you were."
I stood up.
I should've left the first time. I wanted to check out the rest of the notebook anyway, I didn't need to be here arguing with Yusuke because he wanted someone to keep him company and be a general pain.
I had gotten just a few feet before he called back to me. "If you change your mind, let me know."
"I don't think so," I replied before stepping out.
Home never seemed like such a safe haven as it did now.
No Yusuke and no mystery watchers with secret notebooks.
I almost ran the rest of the way home.
If I wasn't prepping for college I might have resented the workload, but it was good for me.
The blue covered notebook came into sight once more and I found myself torn between smiling and grimacing, but my nerves were a flutter.
I was excited.
I opened to the first page and began reading. The handwriting was perfect and neat in clear red ink.
"She was laying in a emerald nest of grass, green and perfect, the blades soft against the ivory perfection of her skin. She squirmed as she looked at me. Blood red ribbons were tied about her wrists, lashing them together above her head. Another red ribbon was tied to a perfect bow around the slim column of her neck and around both ankles, but they were loose.
"Her mouth was equally tied, gagged with a thicker width of the same silky red ribbon. Her words were muffled against the cloth, wet with her saliva. She squirmed against her bonds even more.
"Beside me in the grass was a small flat rock. On it rested a silver candle holder and a tapered cherry scented candle. It was a lighter shade of red, almost a dark pink. The tiny flame at the end flickered in the afternoon wind and the sunshine beating down from overhead was warm.
"Her skin was beautiful against the vivid grass, her scent seeping into the ground where she lay, impressing itself there. I would remember that.
"She was covered in nothing but perfect white skin. Her collar bones were prominent below her neck, thin and fragile, begging to be licked.
"The rest of her was equally delicious - her breasts, full and round were topped with a thin, uneven cap of wax that I'd dripped onto her nipples from the candles.
"Her moans and whimpers were exquisite, her cries beautiful. How long has it been since a woman whimpered this way for me? I grinned.
"This would be even more magnificent in moonlight."
My mouth was dry. What kind of journal was this? Who daydreamed of dripping wax on my... oh my...
I closed the book and glanced at the door as though afraid my mother would be standing there giving me a disapproving stare or something. Quickly, I hid the book in a drawer.
I needed to think.
Who could have written this?
What kind of pervert was watching me and having these little x-rated fantasies?
How would I find him?
What if it wasn't a him?
I actually wasn't sure what else was in the book but I was betting more of the same. Today, I determined, I would read more of it. Maybe I could sneak away at lunch and take a look.
I had been startled and afraid and... yes, I admit it, excited at the thought of someone writing these things about me at first, but I'd been far too overwhelmed to want to read anymore the previous night.
Today I was just as reluctant, what if they got violent? What if tying me up and dripping wax on me was mild?
What if this was some elaborate torture manual that only started out mild but eventually got into seriously gross stuff like playing with swords and cutting open my skin and stitching me up?
Ewwww... now I was even disgusting myself, I needed a break.
The first half of the day came and went and when lunchtime came around I was whisked into helping some of my classmates and then when the other half of school ended I was whisked away to participate in student government.
I was the class president.
Yes, mustn't forget that. The book would have to wait.
Being paranoid as I now was, I locked the book in my locker underneath all my other stuff.
When club ended almost two hours later, we ran late because one of the other members had an emergency and had to run home. We'd waited for him to come back, it had been imperative for the vote for all members to attend.
When I returned to my locker I immediately went for the notebook. I let out a huge relieved sigh when I found there safe and sound, just as I'd left it.
If I was this worried and it wasn't even my notebook, what was the person who'd lost it like? Were they this panicked over it? Or had the book been planted?
Maybe it was just some practical joke? Maybe someone had seen me coming and tried to put the book where I'd find it and quickly ducked into a classroom where I wouldn't see them?
Who would do that to me?
No, it didn't sound believable.
But I had made one decision. I wouldn't be bringing the book back to school again, it distracted me too much. Tomorrow, before I left for class, I'd stick it in my little cash box safe at home.
I had just snapped closed my little shoe locker after placing my shoes back on my feet when I spotted another pair of shoes.
Startled, I looked up. I hadn't even heard anyone approach me. Gentle emerald eyes met mine and I felt the tension slide away.
"I'm sorry, did I scare you?"
I heaved a heavy sigh. "A little. Anything wrong?" I was more than a little anxious about Yusuke and yesterday afternoon.
Yusuke had told him, hadn't he? I couldn't tell from the look on his face, but I wasn't about to ask either.
Kurama brought his arms around from behind his back and he handed me a plain brown bag. "Yusuke asked me to give this to you today."
I took it and stared at it blankly. "What is it?"
"I don't know. He told me not to look."
I believed that. Kurama always seemed perfectly honest. I pulled open the thin bag and slipped the contents out.
A little box slid into my palm and I sat the bag on the bench next to me and slid open the cardboard flap of the plain white box. What was it?
I pulled molded white plastic from the box and then I pulled at the opaque plastic wrap.
Why so much packaging?
When the figure from inside fell into my hand I realized why.
My jaw fell.
A hunched over figure met my eyes. A pair of comically leering eyes as the figure was bent over, a pair of blue pants around his little knees.
What was this... a bobble butt?
The butt, conveniently, was pointed straight at Kurama.
I could've killed him. Yusuke, I mean.
Instead, I blushed.
Kurama may have thought nothing of the gift, just another joke by Yusuke.
But what if Yusuke told Kurama about the non-existent butt-staring?
Quickly I slipped the bouncing butt figure back into the packaging, not once looking up.
I knew Kurama was still standing there.
"Forgive me for asking, I hope you won't mind. Is there some kind of joke?"
I looked up to see his expression. Was he being earnest or trying to figure something out? Maybe Yusuke had told him I liked him and Kurama hadn't believe him so now he was trying to figure out if it was true or not.
Maybe I was just being a normal girl and over thinking it. Yusuke had probably just tossed the bobble-butt to Kurama in all this packaging and asked him to deliver it knowing it would embarrass me.
Yeah, that sounded about right.
"What a jerk," I mumbled as I stood. "No joke, Kurama, just his normal weird sense of humor."
He didn't say otherwise but I got that he really didn't understand what exactly was going on. I decided not to take my frustration out on the pleasant red-head and gave him an abridged explanation as I walked toward the door.
"He accused me of staring at someone yesterday, I denied it, he didn't believe me, now he's making all sorts of butt-jokes. It's typical crude Yusuke."
"Oh." He nodded. "I see. I understand how that would amuse him. It wasn't, by chance, his butt you were staring at, was it?"
I stopped and turned a half-glare on the fox demon next to me. "I wasn't staring at anyone's butt, let alone Yusuke's. If I had, he'd probably have turned around, slapped his backside and invited me to stare all I like and then teased me about it for the rest of my life."
Kurama's lips quirked into a smile. "I think most males find it flattering when a female eyes them appreciatively."
I didn't exactly believe that. "Oh yeah? You like girls staring at your butt? They do, you know."
He nodded. "Of course, I am aware of it. I cannot stop it and Youko enjoys it immensely. He says he's deserving of all his praise."
Must be something to have that much arrogance bottled up inside, I thought. And arrogance that could talk back, too.
I didn't envy Kurama at all. I continued walking. The school gate loomed just ahead.
I had just made it onto the sidewalk when a shadow moved and there he was.
Yusuke grinned like the victorious cat who had bested the canary.
"Hey Keiko, what's shaking?"
"You annoying, ego-centric jerk!"
His smirk widened and he looked past me to Kurama. "You give her the gift?"
"Of course," Kurama replied smoothly, his voice devoid of anything that might have suggested he and Yusuke were in on a big joke at my expense.
Really, if Kurama did something like this to me I'd think less of him.
"Although I hardly think it's appropriate, Yusuke. Keiko has told me you were mistaken about her staring, you shouldn't tease."
Yusuke nodded. "Yeah, that little bobble guy I got you was brown headed anyway, wasn't he? Sorry, Keiko, but they didn't have any red haired guys."
His hands were tucked in his pockets and he was swaying from toes to heels looking amused at himself.
My face flushed six shades of red. How dare he say that in front of Kurama?!
"YUSUKE! Shut up!!!"
His grin melted into a chuckle.
"I hate you."
I quickly turned and walked. I was too humiliated to look back to see Kurama's reaction to the comment and he was too polite to say anything about it.
At least, that's what I hoped.
Maybe he was just shocked cold.
I fished it out.
The first page wasn't really all that long and I had read the wax fantasy already so I flipped to a the second page. The back was blank. It skipped straight to the next facing page, this time the ink was purple.
Oh, a person that enjoyed variety, great.
Somehow that left me feeling a little queasy instead of good.
Instead of the copperplate script of my name that had seemed to be the title of the first piece, this time something else blazed in a perfect set of quotation marks in the top margin.
"The Joys of Saline"
What on earth was this?
I repressed a cringe as I spread myself out over my aqua colored bedspread, propping my elbows up and laying the notebook on my pillow as I stretched out on my stomach. The pants I'd changed into were black and tight and comfortable and I was never more glad for comfort. I just wasn't feeling "secure" in skirts these days.
I turned back to "The Joys of Saline" to distract my thoughts away from some dirty panty-peeker.
"The room was dim and hot. Humid. The air was completely saturated and the added heat of the space heater on the floor only added to the extreme discomfort.
"The girl blindfolded on the other side of the room was whining, a low whimper escaping her lips. She was reclined on a futon mat, her wrists and ankles loosely bound, but not loose enough for her to reach across and untie herself.
"No gag bound her perfect lips, but her eyes were covered. I hovered over her, staring, breathing in the perfect scent of her.
"Even glistening with sweat she was beautiful, her breasts perky, her hips curved...
"Perfect beads of sweat had formed at her temples before sliding down into her hair. Her hairline was damp.
"Slick with her own perspiration, she didn't smell - artificial scents clung to her body, perfumes and other things. I kneeled, pressing my knees across her hips, but not touching my clothing to her wet skin.
"I leaned over her, staring at the perfect breast in front of me. It curved upward, the nipple soft, almost beckoning my mouth toward it.
"I obeyed, sliding my mouth over the heated flesh, licking at the tender skin. She moaned, her mouth worked forming half-pleas to release her and breathless moans.
"Beneath the suckling of my lips and the bite of my teeth her nipple perked and I leaned back to flick it with my tongue, enough the feel of the hardened nub against my tongue.
"I glanced up at her blindfolded eyes before easing myself a little higher to lick at her collarbones.
"She tasted like salt...
"I drew another sweep of my tongue down toward her other breast and grimaced, pulling back.
"She tasted like salt... and perfume."
The text stopped abruptly as though the author had lost interest in the fantasy.
I flipped the page ready to read some more when there came a knock at my door. I panicked and shoved the notebook off the bed onto the other side of the bed. It clattered to the floor just as the door clicked open.
I sat up, hoping I didn't look guilty. "Yes, Mom?"
"You have a phone call."
I sighed in relief as she as quickly left me alone.
As I stepped into the hall I found myself nervous again to see her waiting for me.
"And after that I want you in bed, young lady. You have school tomorrow. I don't think it's appropriate for you to have phone calls this late, either."
I frowned and nodded. No use in arguing with Mom, so I just agreed.
Who the heck was calling me at ... What time was it? I glanced at the hall clock, 11 o'clock?!
I headed downstairs and picked up the phone.
I thought it might be Yusuke and prepared to verbally thrash him.
Or maybe it was Kurama calling to apologize for Yusuke simply because he was that nice a guy.
Nope, not him either.
Instead of a male voice it was the cheery voice that seemed so smile through sound. A classmate.
Not any classmate but Asuka, the single most annoying person newly elected to the council. She had called about suggesting some ideas for the festival and I dutifully listened, simply stunned she'd not only called my house, but that she'd gotten my phone number.
A half hour later I returned to my room and the notebook on the floor was carefully hidden before I turned to bed.
I now knew what awaited me tomorrow and I wasn't looking forward to it.
Festival planning with Asuka.
I was going to go insane.
Every time she whole heartedly agreed with my suggestions with stars in her eyes I wanted to drop everything and simply walk out of the room. Is this how Kurama felt with his fan club members or did he just get used to it?
I didn't want to think of Kurama, I thought suddenly.
It was bad enough Yusuke thought I had a thing for him and I didn't want to accidentally stare at his butt. I had been thinking about that since our encounter a couple of afternoons before and since then I'd managed to avoid both him and Yusuke.
I wasn't even on my way home today to see what else was in that notebook. No, today I had to help out in the noodle shop my parents owned. They needed a dishwasher.
Wasn't I lucky?
But I was going to be a good daughter and go and not complain, because that's what good daughter's do.
Most of the time.
So, that's where I went. I sneaked in through the back instead of walking through the front and met my dad in the kitchen.
He smiled, took my stuff and showed shooed me toward my workstation. I had to cover for three or four hours when the shop finally closed.
I couldn't wait until it was over. Only, half way through a new waitress turned out to be a disaster and he switched us. She washed and I got to serve.
I hated serving.
Still, I smiled and did my job. I was going not going to lose my temper. If Yusuke showed up I'd kill him, I didn't mind taking my temper out on him.
I stepped out onto the floor and stopped cold.
What on earth was this?
By the windows sat Kurama, not a huge surprise or anything, he knew my parents had this shop.
But with him... unbelievable...
Not only that - okay, maybe Kurama and Hiei eating wasn't shocking, but... almost every table seemed to be full of uniform wearing schoolgirls.
I shook my head, totally amazed. The world was full of stupid people, I was convinced.
I delivered orders by table number, so I just grabbed the first order up and took it to the table.
You might think I'd had the luck of serving Kurama and Hiei.
I didn't, they already had their food and another waitress for that matter.
I kept my eyes averted and tried to pretend I was far too busy to notice them there.
Later, I regretted it.
What if they'd thought I was being rude?
Well, Hiei probably didn't care, so I wouldn't worry about him, but I really didn't want to offend Kurama.
Oh, well it didn't matter, did it? The day sucked.
I consoled myself that it was a Friday and I had the weekend for me and my secret pervert's journal.
"Keiko, wake up, sweetie."
I opened my eyes groggily and glanced at the clock.
"What?" I sleepily growled, pulling my blankets more securely around me.
"I just wanted you to know your father and I are going. We'll be back around 5 okay, sweetie?"
"Yup," I mumbled, wishing her gone.
It was a bad thing to do, I know. What if there was an accident and I never saw her again and my last thoughts of my mother were wishing she was somewhere else?
I really need to stop thinking ahead.
I closed my eyes long before I heard her leave the room and I was asleep before they left the driveway.
When I woke again several hours later I was content and well rested. I bathed and dressed and managed to get some breakfast down before I returned to my room with the cordless phone, just in case the parents called.
I fished the book out of my safe and flipped open to page 3.
Yeah, page 3...
I was not making good progress.
"Only Worth a Spoonful"
Now why did I have the image of some kinky little nurse uniform and me probably wearing it?
I wasn't quite sure how I should feel about that really.
"The student council meeting ran long - longer than usual. I waited for my precious flower by the water fountain, carefully concealed there so she wouldn't see me.
"So I was more than a bit surprised when she emerged with another student, his arm slung around her waist, guiding her toward the nurse's office.
"I followed her discreetly to the said office. Inside, I followed, they didn't notice me. Inside the nurse laid her on a cot and took her temperature. She had a slight fever and she told Keiko to remain while she tried to contact a parent.
"When the nurse left, I entered.
"Her eyes were closed, those lovely lashes fanned gently against her flushed cheeks. She did not seem ill and I was not worried. The nurse had told her she needed to go home and get plenty of rest and I was all for that.
"Keiko didn't have to move an inch - I would wait on her hand and foot. Consequently, I also wanted to lick those hands and feet. I could fill a plastic bucket with hot soapy water, the light flower scented scent she preferred and slowly strip her of the clothing.
"Her skin would be hot with fever and she would moan contentedly as I rubbed a yellow colored sponge over her skin, working her gently from her wrists to her shoulders and then downward from there.
"I could run the sponge over the swell of her breasts, but would have no excuse to take the flesh into my hands. Lower still I would go, the sponge over her belly, stopping momentarily to wet it, heat the sponge and then pressing it back against her.
"Her legs were perfect and smooth. I would work from her toes up. Would she be shocked if I slipped the sponge between her legs?
"Would she shoot up from her bed, eyes wide?
"Would she exclaim in surprise? Or would her legs slide open just a bit at my urging... Would she allow me to pet her, slide the sponge against the lips of her sex, tiny mews of pleasure escaping her lips.
"Maybe she would even let me-"
Again, the ink stopped. At the bottom of the page written in black ink, probably a later addition. It read simply "The nurse returned."
I didn't read anymore for a few hours after that. I know, I thought I wanted to, but I remembered that afternoon in the nurse's office.
That had really happened.
I mean, realistically, not the sponge bath part, it was only a little cold I caught.
Actually, it wasn't a cold, just a 24 hour kind of thing. I stayed home the next day and came back the day after and was just fine.
The problem I had, not the sickness I mean, the problem was I didn't remember anyone being in that room with me!
Was I so clueless that someone could sneak around the very same school with me and I wouldn't know it? I was very tempted to tell Yusuke, that's how worried I was.
I know I was sick that day, but I had been alone in the nurse's office, I could've sworn it!
I was wandering my way up to my room to read the next page when the phone rang. So I wandered toward the phone instead.
My bad temper returned, I held grudges well. "What do you want, Yusuke?"
"Why don't you come over? We're going to watch some movies, just hang out."
"Um..." I searched for an excuse. Go to Yusuke's? When I could stay home and read that little book upstairs?
"Um, actually I'm waiting for my parents to get home. I promised I'd watch the house."
Lame excuse, major lame.
"Oh... So you're home alone, eh?"
"Yeah," I admitted and then almost kicked myself even though it was obvious if I was 'watching the house'. "What of it?" I challenged, but there was shouting the background.
"Uh oh, gotta go."
And just like that, he hung up. I wasn't offended, I knew Yusuke. I think I probably knew him better than anyone, or at least I used to.
I had even gotten off the phone without being teased or mocked, the day was looking up.
I headed up to my room. Because I was alone I had hid the book underneath my mattress.
A girl can never be too prepared and I didn't want anyone discovering this dirty little secret.
I laid on my stomach on the floor and flipped open the book paging through to the next entry.
Page No. 6
More red ink blazed across the top margin.
Brush tips? That was curious, I thought.
Pages 4 and 5 had been half fleshed out sketches in varying shades of pencil. both had been what I presumed to be rough sketches of me. It was rather hard to tell. I supposed the writer of the book wasn't an artist.
"An ink brush is not merely a tool, but an extension of one's own hand when held in the fingers of an artist. Likewise, I also believed the body could be a beautiful canvas.
"When combining the hand of an artist and a perfect model canvas, there, art was born.
"I am no such artist, but I have such a canvas. The perfect still life, her skin an expanse of plain white . How would such ink appear across the cold pallor of her skin?
"If the pools of black ink were painted with the utmost care, would she be a real life art piece? Would the ink smear and drip and run and ruin the masterpiece?
"Would it take long to scrub away the art, tinting soapy bath water gray?"
It stopped there. At the bottom in the same plain black ink from before was scrawled a little note that read "abandoned" and a date from early the previous month.
I flipped the page.
Page No. 7
Like all true truly frustrating moments, I was interrupted. The loud chiming of the doorbell had me snapping the book closed and shoving it across the floor. It slid toward my bed and I assume, beneath it. I was already out the door and halfway down the stairs ready to do away with my would-be visitor.
When I pulled open the door my complaints died with a big sigh of...what, shock?
Hiei stood on my doorstep, his face impassive.
"Hn, I am repaying a debt to the Detective. This is for you."
He was holding out a package and I numbly took it. Since when did Hiei take errands for Yusuke?
"If the idiot Detective is fool enough to waste a favor to me delivering some parcel, why should I complain?"
I half smiled, hardly feeling it and thanked him politely. He seemed not to care either way, he was already walking away.
I didn't wait around to see if he'd make some caustic remark about how he didn't do it for me and so no thanks was necessary, I closed the door.
I turned to head back up to my room, only halfway back up the stairs the doorbell rang again. It couldn't be Hiei, it couldn't, if it was...
Well... I could hardly see myself screaming at Hiei for annoying me. He just had that kind of 'look-at-me-wrong-and-I'll-kick-your-ass' air about him.
I pulled open the door and was immediately pushed backward by not one, but an entire crowd.
Yusuke, Kuwabara, Yukina, Botan...
Don't tell me Yusuke decided to have movie night at my house without asking me.
"Yo, Keiko, decided to have movie night over here instead."
He grinned at me cheekily like I wouldn't throw him out, silly boy, I would throw him out. In fact, I was on the brink of tossing them all out, I didn't want them here.
"Ah, got my gift, eh?" He winked at me. "Open it when you're alone."
I wanted to kill him.
Maybe it showed on my face because Kurama, before not noticed, stepped up to me and apologized.
Hiei was not with them. Where had they picked up Yukina anyway? I decided I didn't care and quickly fled up the stairs toward my room. In the impending chaos brewing in my living room I managed to escape.
Or, I thought I had. When I almost tripped over my own school bag in the inside doorway of my bedroom I found myself being rescued.
Rescued... I mean "caught".
When I was again upright, a pair of male arms around me, I turned to see who my benevolent rescuer was.
I could've groaned.
One of the persons I did not want to see right now and even worse, he had that "look" in his eyes.
The 'we-need-to-talk' look.
I wasn't old enough or bitter enough to think I was about to get the 'I like you, but only as friends' speech, but I thought it anyway.
I needed to get out of here.
I headed for my bathroom.
He didn't even try to follow. Good for him, otherwise I might've lost my temper. Question was, what the hell was I going to do in the bathroom?
When I got there the package was still in my hands. For a gift from Yusuke, it was really very beautifully wrapped.
I tore off the paper, stuffing it into the trash bin and my eyes widened in sheer amazement.
It was an 8 x 10 glossy, full color and frame photo... of Kurama.
Where the hell had he even gotten such a picture?
It was official.
I was going to kill him.
Standing in the room decorated in soft hues of blue, I did the only thing I could think of that didn't involve slapping Yusuke ten or twenty times. I stripped and moved for the bath tub. I turned on the shower and waited for the water to warm and while I did, I stepped onto the scale to see how much I was weighing.
Seeing the number I frowned, I didn't think I weighed that much. I ran my fingers through my hair and stepped into the hot water.
I so needed to stop thinking.
I could smell popcorn and hear Botan and Yusuke shouting over animated movie dialogue in the background.
The bad mood I had washed down the bathroom drain was back with a vengeance. I stomped toward my bedroom and slammed the door. Maybe they'd get a hint and can the noise.
I whirled away from the door and stopped cold where I stood.
Tell me that isn't what I think it is in his hands...
He quietly closed the notebook he was holding and sat it beside him.
I hope he doesn't think the book is mine.
I mean, what kind of wacky person writes stuff like that about themselves?
"Hi," I said awkwardly.
I was all too suddenly aware of my clothes hanging over my arm and the fact I was naked even if I was under a pretty thick robe.
But that wasn't the point, was it?
Maybe it was the fact he knew I was probably naked or thought I might be naked under my robe. I mean, really, my clothes were draped over my arm.
I forced a smile. "So, Kurama... Um... Why are you in my room?"
He stood. "I apologize, Yusuke insisted I come up and ask you to join us. I should have waited in the hall."
In the face of such sincerity, I felt my uneasy feelings wobble. "That's okay. I don't really feel like movie watching actually."
His eyes glanced discreetly at the notebook.
"I found it," I supplied.
I wasn't sure if he was trying to be coy or if he really didn't follow the change of subject.
"The notebook you were looking at. I found it at school, on the floor."
He looked, this time much more purposely, toward the notebook. "It's... interesting."
I found myself smiling. It actually was nice, I thought, being able to talk about it with someone who wouldn't tease me about it.
"I was... well... It's so odd. Now when I'm at school I'm looking over my shoulder trying to figure out who wrote it and..." I sighed. "I guess some people would be flattered someone thought of them like that, but... it's just..."
"You don't need to explain, Keiko. It's perfectly natural to be ill at ease with such a discovery."
Sometimes I wondered if he was really this understanding or he just said what someone else wanted to hear. When had I become so cynical?
I had a feeling Yusuke had something to do with it.
The Kurama photo was tucked underneath my folded clothes. I was suddenly very thankful for my paranoia.
Seizing the moment I dropped my clothes into the laundry bin and held up the picture for Kurama to see. Even he couldn't hide his surprise.
"Where did Yusuke get this? He had Hiei drop it off to me earlier."
I hoped my voice betrayed how unhappy I was about it and at the same time I didn't want to offend him or anything.
"I don't know," he admitted.
His eyes drifted from the photo to me and I lowered it and then tossed it, face down, onto the bed.
His eyes followed the picture.
"Aren't you going to watch the movie?" I asked.
For a moment, I thought he was going to go watch the movie, but he didn't move at all, so I don't know what gave me that impression. He just looked at me and then smiled slightly.
"Of course, I'm sorry to intrude upon you. I'm sure you want to get dressed."
He took a step toward the door.
"I hope you change your mind about the movie."
"Um, hey, what about this?"
I motioned, without looking, at the photo.
He smiled and something in the smile made me stand a little straighter. "Keep it. You could always sell it to one of my fan-club members, it would probably go for a good price."
With that, he slipped out.
I tossed a dirty look at the aforementioned photo only to see a little sticky note, previously unnoticed, stuck on the back cardboard.
I picked it up, glancing at the small scrawl.
"Couldn't get a picture of his butt, his face will have to do."
I was going to kill him painfully.
It was my plan originally to stay in my room until everyone left, but the scent of food drew me downstairs. The thoughts of destruction or worse in my kitchen had me downstairs in a flash.
Everything was well in order, but Yusuke managed to get a hold of me before I could literally get in my claws into him and I ended up wedged between him and Botan on the couch.
It didn't occur to me to look to see where everyone was sitting because their flick captured my attention and held it for a good hour. I wasn't sad when the movie ended and I happily saw everyone to the door. As I was locking up and headed upstairs I realized I was suddenly very eager to get back to that little notebook.
With a pang of panic, I realized I'd left it out on my bed, but who would go into my room when I wasn't there?
I thought briefly of Kurama and then discarded it. That had been different. When I entered the room I stared at the photo given to me by Yusuke and frowned and then sighed. I ended up sticking it on my dresser, it was a temporary location.
I simply didn't know what else to do with it and who puts a picture of Kurama away in a drawer?
I almost laughed when I thought of tucking his photo into my underwear drawer.
Oh, I must be nutty or something...
I picked up the notebook and turned to Page 8 but accidentally slipped and dropped the book. On the last page, the very back cover there was a little note.
"If lost, please call to return."
There was a number beneath.
This had to be a joke.
Feeling like I was probably half insane, I went downstairs and grabbed the cordless and brought it back up. I wasn't really going to talk to this person, at least that's what I told myself.
Absently, I dialed the number and waited. I heard the phone being picked up and cheerful woman's voice came over the line.
"Minamino residence, who is calling?"
I hurriedly pushed the button on the phone ending the call.
As in... Shuichi Minamino?
As in... alternate ego of Youko Kurama?
I flopped back onto the bed.
Clearly, I was already insane.
It really was just an amazing school to be in.
But, the situation as it was, Kurama and I were now school-mates. We had been for almost two years now and it hadn't been a problem until present. I kind of avoided him and his maniacal fan club and he avoided me and we got along just great. We simply were not in the same social circle.
In fact, Kurama was kind of a loner when he could get away with it.
I decided to handle my day as I always did.
Well up until the final bell when I was due for club, and then my plans all seemed to sort of fall apart.
All it took was the gentle sweep of an envelope fluttering out of my locker. I had the dreadful feeling I knew who it was from and don't you know Yusuke popped up right behind me? He doesn't even go to this school.
I swear, he's haunting me!
He tore open the envelope while I struggled to get it back. He read over it silently and his grin became an even bigger smirk.
Then he began to read aloud.
"If you would be so kind to indulge me, please meet me in the park gardens nearest the school. Don't let anyone see you and come alone."
Yusuke laughed and moved the letter around like it was dancing. "Ooohh, a secret admirer!"
"Yusuke, shut up and give me that!"
Why wouldn't he go away?
As soon as I saw the writing, I knew. It matched the writing from the book and the book with the number in it had rang to the Minamino residence.
Question was, how would I get there without Yusuke either going without me or following me?
I finally wrangled the letter away, got my books and headed for the club room.
He was such an annoyance.
I couldn't stand up Kurama, that would be rude. Yusuke took the hint when I went into the room and left him outside.
My fellow club members were accepting when I told them I had to skip the meeting if not a bit disappointed. I was both a motivating factor and one of the major workers in the group.
When I remerged into the hall, Yusuke was gone. A small miracle. I didn't doubt he might show up or even spy on the park, I fully expected him to show up. He always shows up, especially lately, and especially when I didn't want him to.
The park near school was large and had a nice area for walking. It was close to the school sports yards and often couples went out there to walk and be alone.
I sighed as I glanced around and realized I'd have to search for him. I took a step inside and headed for the main path up by the benches and lamps when there was a tug at my sleeve by my elbow.
I turned my head, glancing back. It wasn't Yusuke or Kurama but a little old lady.
"Young lady, would you be kind enough to grab my hat? It got away from me there and the wind took it away."
She pointed to a blue colored cap hanging in the branches just a few feet away. It wasn't very high, but well over the little woman's head.
I smiled and headed over. I jumped, trying to reach the branch, but it was just shy of my grasp. I tried harder but I didn't go any higher. In fact, I was getting a wee bit irritated that it kept getting away from me so when I saw another hand, larger, wrap around the offending branch and lower it, I quickly grabbed the cap and handed it to the woman. When I turned back, the helpful tree branch grabber was gone.
What a weird day.
I received a heartfelt thanks from the woman and I continued on to find Kurama.
Where could he be? Why didn't he just draw me a map if he was going to be hiding somewhere?
Just as I was giving up hope, I decided to check the wooded trail. He had asked me to come alone, probably more to avoid his fan club finding him or something related to that effect.
On the wooded trail following a path of pine chips, I finally caught a sight of a flash of red. I sincerely hoped it was him because I was losing patience with this wild goose hunt, I could've been at club and being productive.
When I came up near the area I'd spotted the flash, no one was there. I was actually beginning to feel creeped out. Was someone stalking me? First the branch helper and now disappearing flashes of red in a patch of woods, not exactly normal stuff.
Or was Yusuke fooling around again? I couldn't remember what Yusuke had been wearing in the hall. Something white? Or had it been green? Argh!
I was about to turn and march myself right out of this park when I heard the call. The urgent tone in the shout compelled me to stop and I did so. Behind me, in the opposite direction that I'd been walking, he appeared.
It was like magic, pull a rabbit from a hat, plop a Kurama on a wooded trail, just like that.
Maybe the stress of the day was getting to me.
He didn't approach and I felt weird, so I didn't get any closer either. Several feet separated us.
"Did you call my house last night?" His voice was perfectly calm and I wasn't sure if it was a trap question or not. I didn't want to seem like a stalker or something and I didn't want to lie.
I mean, he probably had caller ID and then what would he think of that? But then, I'd called and hung up...
I cleared my throat and decided to gamble with the truth rather than a lie. "Yes, I called."
The response seemed to amuse him somehow and I wasn't sure why.
"Did you write that book, really? Honestly, Kurama?" I knew there was something between a plea and uncertainty in my voice, but I didn't care. Maybe I wanted him to tell me he hadn't and he'd written the number in the back of the book when I'd been out of the room as some sort of joke. Maybe I wanted him to say 'yes', I don't know.
His response was delayed. "I'm sorry Keiko." His voice was low and seemed earnest, but he stared at me directly not over my shoulder or above my head or at my feet.
"Why?" I asked.
Was there any question except that one and the one before it that even mattered?
"I have no response that will satisfy that question. I happened to see Yusuke lift your skirt once and you responded by slapping him senseless. I found the exchange... charming. I admit, Youko and I have been quite intrigued with you since then."
Since then? When exactly was 'then'?
"Was that... recent?"
"No, about a year or two ago. You've grown on us a lot."
Grown on him? Well that was nice, like I was some ugly boil that became slightly less attractive every time he saw it?
I crossed my arms moodily.
I was attracted to Kurama, mind you, who wouldn't be? He was gorgeous and a gentleman and just all around perfect but...
This whole situation just struck me as crazily odd.
"I apologize, Keiko. I had not intended, obviously, for you to find the notebook. My own carelessness, I never meant to make you uncomfortable."
I sighed heavily.
"Why on earth did you put your number in the back of the book?" That too, was an important question.
He smiled gently. "Ah, I admit that was a later addition. When I saw it on your bed I wrote the number in there to see what you would do. Again, I apologize sincerely."
I sighed. This was too much to handle. Hesitantly, I looked up. "Do you want it back? I'll get it for you."
His smile seemed to slide into a smirk. "No, keep it. Forgive me for saying, I got the impression you somehow liked it."
I didn't deny it, but I wasn't going to confirm it either. I didn't want to give it back, that's for certain.
Really, I didn't need to. All the thoughts had come from his head anyway, I'm sure there were others floating around in there.
"Um... I'm gonna go, okay?"
The small patch of woods rustled as the girl walked away, her arms pulled across her chest protectively.
Beautifully done, Shuichi. This going to work perfectly,> Youko mentally stretched, curling himself around Shuichi inside their head as they watched.
Their eyes focused on Keiko's back as she stepped off the trail and into the grass far ahead of them.
'Yes, I quite agree. Stage One of our plan worked out spectacularly.'
Well then, I think we should beginning planning for Stage Two.>
They both grinned with eerie satisfaction as Keiko finally disappeared on the horizon.
She was falling into their trap perfectly and she didn't have a clue.
Well, anyway, welcome to the Tension High Series. I haven't even started chapter 2 yet.