Disclaimer: I do not own Love Hina it belongs to it's great creator and I thank him for the many hours of enjoyment his characters have given us.
Warning; This story contains nudity and sexual situations, if you are offended by such material leave now. To those who wish to read on enjoy what I like to call tasteful smut.
'He isn't going to live out the day'Naru silently vowed trembling in white knuckled rage. It didn't matter that Shinobu had to be a cunning little minx on par with Kitsune to pull this off, all that mattered was that her Keitaro was alone somewhere with a high school junior. Never mind that said student had been caring a torch for the former ronin for years. Never mind that fact that Keitaro would never, ever even consider preying on the innocent and impressionable girl. All that mattered now was sending that wretched perverted jerk into orbit, preferably around Pluto.
"Naru," she barely registered Kitsune hesitantly calling her name. In her mind a harpy Naru was already wrapping her vicious talons around a doomed Keitaro's neck while he begged for his life. Not that she was feeling particularly merciful. Not while her boyfriend was most likely necking with a sixteen year old. Except the current messy situation was no ones fault but her own. It doesn't matter, Naru shook that unwelcome thought from her thoughts and resumed fury mode by turning around and beginning a slow determined march back to Hinata sou.
"Naru wait, please." Mutsumi called out rising from the kotatsu where she was seated with Keitaro's sister Kanako. The Okinawan pushed her way past Su and Kitsune to lay a soft hand on Naru's rigidly set shoulders. When she tried to slow Naru down and pull her back towards the apartment the smoldering woman shrugged her friends hand off and continued stalking away.
"Please wait, Naru," Mutsumi called again as Naru reached the stairs.
"Can't, must, murder, boyfriend," Naru growled through clenched teeth.
"Naru, wait," Mutsumi tried once more as Naru was about to take that first step, "I helped Shinobu to get Keitaro alone."
"What," Naru breathed, stunned just as her foot came down. And missed the step.
Keitaro felt like he was falling. A vision of loveliness was in his arms pressing her slender form to his while her soft sweet lips were rapidly shutting down his higher mental functions. It was one of those make you melt kisses. It was romance and young love expressed in the most perfect way. And it should never have happened, except on some level it was almost preordained.
When Shinobu initially kissed him Keitaro's first reaction had been to pull away and then duck and cover. Years of being trounced for the slightest deviant action, intentional or not, had hardwired such things into his brain. Then his natural compassion kicked in. This was Shinobu's first real kiss, something she would remember for the rest of her life. That she would even consider him worthy of such a gift demanded he not scream like a little girl and run away in fear. He was doomed anyway, so Keitaro sucked in his gut and kissed the lovely young woman back.
Shinobu was in heaven. It was impossible to describe this moment, there wasn't a word descriptive enough represent how she felt when Keitaro had slid his arms around her and leaned down into her lips. She never wanted this moment to end, she could go on being with him like this till the end of her days. For the next ten seconds Shinobu allowed herself the fantasy of being Keitaro's one true love. She imagined them living in a small house near Todai where Suu and Sarah would stay with her while Keitaro was away on archeological digs. Then when he was home she would cook wonderful meals for him and in the winter they would drink warm sake while watching the snow fall. Then under the silvery light of the moon she could freely indulge in all her passions.
It was such a wonderful fantasy Shinobu felt the tears running down her cheeks as the one and only kiss she would ever get with Keitaro drew to a close. She knew what was coming next. He was going to let her down as gently as he could. He was going to tell her what a wonderful girl she was, but he was still in love with Naru. He was going to tell her he would always be her friend, but they could never be anything else. Things would never be the same again, Keitaro would never again be her escort at fairs, or go with her to the amusement park. He would slowly fade out of her life while looking sadly down at her. Pitying her.
All because she got to kiss him just once. Why was that so bad? Mutsumi had kissed him and they were best friends. Suu had kissed him just the night before, had been the lucky one to see Keitaro first after he came back. Motoko would have kissed him, Shinobu knew if only the kendo girl could figure out how to do it honorably. Shinobu had no idea what Kitsune would do if it weren't for Naru and that was all for the better. The fox lady was everything the other dorm girls were not; worldly, sexy, and experienced in things the others only fantasized about in their darkest dreams.
The ultimate brick wall, however was none other than Naru Narusagawa. The last person to admit her feelings had somehow managed to win Keitaro's heart while at the same time threatening his life on a daily basis. It made absolutely no sense, which is why Shinobu was more than convinced it was true love. At least for Keitaro it was, for Naru it seemed to change minute by minute. And that was the ultimate crux of the whole situation. Would Naru ever return Keitaro's feelings and devotion for more than five minutes?
"Shinobu," the sound of Keitaro's voice snapped Shinobu out of her contemplations and back into the reality of the moment. Not that that was such a bad place to be considering his arms were still around her. How badly she wanted this to last, to be able to hold him like this when ever she wanted. Someone just had to slap some sense into the obstinate Naru. Who would ever turn down the chance to feel like this, and for Naru it would not be just once but for the rest of her life is she so chose.
"Shinobu," Keitaro repeated again gently stroking her hair, "Thank you."
"What," she piped in surprise, eyes going wide. Did he just thank her?
"Thank you, Shinobu," he repeated with a tender smile.
"Don't say that," she whispered feeling the tears running down her face. Not wanting him to see she buried her face into his chest and when she felt his arms tighten around her it made her cry all the harder. Sobbing into his shirt she pounded against his chest with a feeble fist. He was not supposed to say that. He was supposed to push her out to arms length, look her in tear filled eyes and tell her he was in love with another woman. He was going to gently tell her he would always love her like a sister. He would tell her to go find some one better than him. But he didn't.
"I'm sorry if I hurt you Shinobu," he said softly in her ear rubbing her back as the wrenching sobs subsided to gentle tears, "I thought I was doing the right thing, but I wasn't. I was doing the easy thing, the selfish thing. If I'd had your courage none of this would have happened."
"Are you saying you wish we hadn't kissed," She hiccupped looking up at him with wet soulful eyes.
"No Shinobu, never that," he eased a gentle smile onto his face while brushing a stray lock of hair away from her face, "What I'm trying to say is that I'm envious of you. Maybe if I had the courage to express my love and stand up and fight for it none of this confusion and pain would have happened. You and I could be best friends. I wouldn't have to walk around on egg shells around here. Instead things ended up like this. Thank you Shinobu for showing me the meaning of courage. Thank you for reminding me what love is all about."
With that Keitaro let her go and backed away. He just started walking away from her without even looking back. In that moment Shinobu knew her life had changed. Keitaro changed, in that one instance his whole life took a different course. That's all it had taken, a single kiss. She reached out a hand towards his departing form and called out to him one last time.
"Oh yeah, I almost forgot," he said scratching the back of his head as he glanced back at her blushing. Still looking like Keitaro except for the confidant smile that graced his handsome features, "You're a great kisser Shinobu. Naru should be taking lessons."
And with that he walked away leaving a bewildered Shinobu standing in his room not knowing what to think at that moment.
"He said I was a good kisser," she finally whispered when he was gone pressing one hand to her lips. For the first time since she could remember Shinobu smiled like that first drawing Keitaro had done of her back on the first day they met three years ago.
"I helped Shinobu to get Keitaro alone."
Seven words sent Naru's raged clouded mind into tilt and she lost all control of her governing faculties, including her motor skills as her foot slipped off the top step. Ten seconds later she was an undignified heap of akimbo limbs and disgruntled clothing. If Keitaro had been around to see her predicament she would have launched him as far as she could. Unfortunately her hapless boyfriend was nowhere to be found and she was forced to groan in pain and slowly pick herself up off the ground.
Trudging back up the stairs to Mutsumi's apartment a whole host of unpleasant thoughts and emotions swirled through her mind. Right now her boyfriend was swapping spit with a very attractive young girl who'd been crushing on him for well on three years now, and there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it. 'But I can do something about a more serious problem', Naru thought topping the stairs and coming face to face with the smiling countenance of her greatest rival. Grabbing Mutsumi by the arm she dragged the mild mannered turtle girl back into the apartment.
"We need to talk," Naru growled. Inside the apartment the others made tracks seeing the look on Naru's face. Only Kitsune remained behind worried for her friend.
Kitsune watched as Naru's expression went from stunned to livid and back to stunned as Mutsumi's words sunk in. The older woman had a hand in Shinobu's little plot. She wondered how long it had taken for their plans to come to fruition. Had they predicted the occurrence in the hotel? Was everyone one At Hinata Inn out to get Keitaro for themselves? Following along that line of reasoning left Kitsune with a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, And she wasn't surprised to hear the next words that came out of Naru's mouth.
"You tried to seduce him didn't you," It wasn't a question. Naru stood glaring down at the still seated Okinawan
"Yes I did," Mutsumi answered looking up at Naru's eyes with quiet dignity.
At this statement Kitsune superstitiously edged herself away from the table and tiptoed as silently as she could out of the room, making sure to keep her back firmly pressed against the wall. As much as she loved gossip and the drama that was Hinata Sou, Kitsune had no plans to be part of the collateral damage that bound to occur. This confrontation had been building for three years now, and the resolution was not going to be pretty. Slipping out the door Kitsune cast one last glance back at her best friend and said a little prayer. Naru was going to need all the divine protection she could get.
Not that Naru couldn't take care of herself, but on some levels she didn't stand a ghost of a chance against the alluring and ever so subtle Mutsumi. And in the battle for Keitaro's heart each and everyone of them all feared the day Mutsumi became truly serious about winning. After all Mutsumi was the closest in age to Keitaro. Their personalities went together like pizza and beer. And to top it all off Mutsumi was drop dead gorgeous and was completely uninhibited with her sexuality. Worse than anything though was that Mutsumi and Keitaro went back farther than any of them. Even if she wasn't the original "Promise Girl" she was the closest thing to it, and had the memories to go along with the knowledge. Kitsune wouldn't have taken up against those odds on her best day. Sighing to herself Kitsune slipped out the door and made up her mind to find Keitaro right now.
Only the hapless manager of Hinata Girls Dormitory stood a chance of keeping things from totally getting gout of control.
"Just answer me this Mutsumi," Naru started to ask, but Mutsumi beat her to the punch.
"Because I'm in love with him," Mutsumi cut in before Naru even finished, and as she continued her voice began to crack and tears slowly slid down her cheeks, "He came to me last night looking disheveled and exhausted. He'd been over before after taking a punishment, but that night it was different. I'd never seen him look so broken and tired. Not even after he'd failed an entrance exam did he look so bad."
"I let him, but he just walked past me like I wasn't there and sat down at the kotatsu and he, he just started crying," Mitsumi hiccupped a bit and took a deep breath to get control of her emotions before continuing her story, "I sat down next to him and was about to ask him what happened when he just reached out and grabbed me. Before I knew it he was in my arms crying like I'd never seen him. Before I knew it I was crying with him, it just hurt so much to see him like that. I couldn't think of anything to say to him then so I just held him while he clutched on to me for dear life. It was the saddest thing I'd ever seen, to see Keitaro so broken up. But you know what, I was still happy. I got to hold him, share a part of him he'd never show to anyone else."
Naru knew the truth of that statement. The Keitaro the rest of them knew was an endless font of optimism. Even when things seemed hopeless Keitaro always pulled through and came out at the end stronger than before. Sure every now and then he'd escape to his roof top sanctuary but he'd always be fine a few hours later. What Mutsumi was telling her now sounded like a total break down. As Mutsumi continued Naru stopped hearing the words, it was almost like being there.
Having just gotten out of the shower Mutsumi was sitting at the kotatsu in a warm fluffy bathrobe combing out her thick damp hair while warming her bare legs under the heated table. This was a nightly ritual for Mutsumi before she went to bed, although combing her waist length hair took forever. She'd considered cutting it on any number of occasions but had thus far held out. Her thick hair lent her some padding during her frequent fainting episodes, not to mention it would take forever to grow out again if she wanted it back. Most importantly however she knew Keitaro preferred girls with long hair. He'd told her before how much he liked to run his hands through Naru's hair the few times he got to actually kiss the fiery red head. And so she'd kept her hair long and luxurious, even though it took over and hour daily to keep it in decent order.
"Go to bed with it wet and I wake up the worlds biggest afro," Mutsumi said to know one in particular chuckling to herself. Without Tama-chan around she'd fallen into the habit of talking to herself when no one else was there. Of course Keitaro was the only one who regularly came to see her. And as much as she loved seeing him Mutsumi deep down wished Keitaro would come to her for more than a pep talk. Yes she was his friend, but she was a woman too, with dreams and desires, and often those two things featured a certain girls' dormitory manager. Only one thing kept her from acting on those emotions.
Keitaro was head over heels in love with Naru Narusegawa. When he was with Mutsumi, all he ever talked about was Naru and how he wished they could just be together. He told over and over again how happy he would be if Naru just opened up to him. If they could just express their love openly and not always trying to hide the attraction, that everyone else damn well knew was there. It was at times like this that Mutsumi had a hard time not throwing her arms around him and loving him till the day she died. Other times it was all she could do to not got up to Hinata house and backhand Naru for not cherishing all she had in Keitaro. If those two didn't stabilize soon it was Mutsumi who was going to have the nervous break down first.
A faint knock at the door pulled Mutsumi from her contemplations. Who would be here this late at night? It being well after midnight narrowed down the list considerably. Keitaro must have been belted a good one to not just return to the inn and sleep it off. Not that it hadn't happened before, the last time had been when Keitaro was kissing Naru good night and a sleep walking Shinobu opened the door and caught them in the act. Mutsumi wondered what it was about intimacy that so disturbed Naru. If it had been Mutsumi with him at that time of night alone Shinobu would have found them engaged in far more than that. This pleasant thought in mind she summoned up her kindest smile and opened the door to her ever assaulted friend.
"Keitaro, please come in," The words and her smile died when she saw him. She expected to see him disheveled, the slumped shoulders a normal look for him. The difference was the look of utter despair and defeat in his eyes. He didn't even give her his usual wan smile, he just staggered past her and nearly collapsed on the floor in front of the kotatsu. He just sat there with his back to her, shoulders quivering with repressed sobs. Slowly his head sunk into his hands and she heard him take in a ragged gasp of air, fighting for control. Pity and worry over took Mutsumi and she rushed to him kneeling down next to and slightly behind him.
"It's ok Keitaro," she soothed laying a hand on his shoulder, and when she did she could him trembling, "Just let it out. I'm here."
He turned to her as the tears began to slide down his smooth face, his hands gripped her robes in a frantic grasp and he buried his face in her chest and let loose the dam.
"I can't do it anymore Mutsumi it's just too much," his voice hoarse and muffled as he continued to cling to her.
"You're alright now Keitaro, it's over," she whispered comfortingly stroking his sweat dampened hair.
"No it's not," he shook his head still not looking up at her, "It's just beginning and it'll never end. Why does love have to hurt this much."
That last sentence broke her heart. Keitaro had finally been broken, his dream of a happy life with his promise girl gone. He'd done everything right, he'd kept his promise to that long lost past. He was a Tokyo University student, and he'd fallen madly in love. But the story hadn't ended, he didn't live happily ever after. Nothing had turned out the way it was supposed to. Mutsumi understood that all too well.
"Life isn't always promised," Mutsumi whispered, and when Keitaro looked up staring at her incredulously his shocked doubled when she pulled his glasses off and flicked them away before leaning in and kissing him hard on the mouth. She didn't give him any chance to think about what was happening before she pulled him down on top of her. She felt his hands under her robe, sliding the garment off her shoulders, laying bare her smooth, creamy flesh. He broke their kiss then and raised himself up just far enough to look into her eyes and glance down her nearly naked torso. Taking his hand Mutsumi guided him to her heaving chest and languidly slid her eyes shut and shuddering with pleasure as she felt his warm palm on her.
"Wait," Naru cried unable to hear anymore, "That's enough."
"That is exactly what he said."
"What," Naru breathed, hoping beyond hope that Keitaro had, had the strength to put a stop to her worst nightmare.
"That's what Keitaro said," Mutsumi repeated, "And then he just got up and left. By the time I got to the door he was gone."
"You mean you and Keitaro didn't do anything," Naru said her eyes wide in shock, before filling with tears, "Thank god."
Naru collapsed into Mutsumi's arms then and cried for all she was worth. Mutsumi held her friend and smiled glad for Naru and for Keitaro. Still, she couldn't hold back the single tear that slid down her cheek.
Motoko had heard enough. Naru and Mutsumi were still arguing when the resident swordswoman decided to slip away unnoticed. Some one had to look out for Shinobu's innocence. Naru seemed more interested in yelling at some one than making sure Shinobu was alright. It was a change in Naru that Motoko did not think was for the better. In recent months she observed Naru's downward progression from being protective of her fellow dorm members to being jealous and angry at everyone. Sending Keitaro into the upper reaches of the stratosphere was nothing new around Hinata but Naru then chewing out the other party involved was.
Motoko was beginning to see the whole situation as unbearable. Soon no one would be able to be in the same room as Keitaro without Naru going ballistic. Yes, Keitaro had his mishaps and deserved to be punished for them, but he still had a job to do. He was responsible for the inn and over time had become responsible for the residents too. He was a brother and playmate to Suu, a confidant and pal to Kitsune, inspiration and guidance to Shinobu. To Motoko he was support in her darkest moments, that one person she could always count on to be there when she needed him. For Motoko, Keitaro represented the idea that not all men were scum. Because of him Motoko could dare hope that someday she could become like her sister, happy in all aspects of her life.
"Why does he have to be in love with Naru," Motoko asked the empty path that lead from Mustumi's apartment back to Hinatasou. Why was it that only Naru got a chance to experience her dreams? No one even knew for sure if Naru really was the promise girl. The originator of the promise had vanished more than fifteen years ago. Keitaro should be free to choose who he wanted to be with, not forced into a pairing that up till now had done nothing but make his life difficult and miserable. If what he shared with Naru was true love the poets could bloody well keep it, Motoko would choose her sword any day of the week.
But that was the crux of everything wasn't it. Naru didn't know if she was in love or not, while Keitaro was rock solid in his devotion to her. How unfair was that. To be constantly chasing after the unattainable while the rest of the Hinata girls chased after him in the same manner. Motoko decided then and there she was sick of the whole situation. Someone deserved to happy out of the whole mess. Why couldn't it be her?
Damn, I really need to spend more time writing. Anyways this chapter like the one before it sat half way completed on my computer for about four months. Still reviews still keep coming in, and I feel compelled to finish this now. I hope I'm not getting to OOC in this chapter, especially with Mutsumi. Also wondering if Keitaro's breakdown was a bit over done, but I wanted those two to have an intense moment, cause I like Mutsumi so much. Anyways there is a resolution coming and some more lemony goodness on the way. Enjoy and please continue to R&R always makes my day.