::: Sakura Kisses :::
- GlazedAndConfused -
I wouldn't be writing this if I owned Love Hina.
"..." - denotes speech.
"(...)" - denotes whispering.
Italics denote thoughts and Japanese dialogue.
Chapter One ::: Confessions And Kisses
"Kei-kun? Meet me under the sakura tree by the old playground."
These words reverberated throughout Keitaro's head, like a scream in the deepest depths of a dark cave. It was coming close to the time they had both arranged to meet, and the kanrinin's heart was beginning to beat faster with every minute that went past. It was a clear, cool spring evening, with the setting of the sun giving it the cloudless sky a scarlet hue. The calm spring air was a prominent feature in Japan that filled people with a warm and fuzzy feeling that made it hard for anyone to feel sad during this season. Another reason for excitement was that the annual sakura viewing festival was that same day. The town was buzzing with excitement as people prepared for the festival; setting up stalls, finding a good position to watch the fireworks from, and basically just getting ready to have a good time.
What could Mutsumi-san want to meet me for? Keitaro pondered, walking to his intended destination. Mutsumi left no hints as to what she wanted to talk to him about. Was it to do with them two and Naru getting into Toudai? A possibility, yes. His feelings for Naru? Well, the way he felt about her was not exactly kept subtle. The promise from fifteen years before? That was just as big a possibility as any; one which was occupying Keitaro's mind the most. It was only the previous Christmas that Keitaro had realised that Mutsumi could well be the girl he made the promise with to get into Toudai all that time ago. Then again, Naru could also be that girl. She had also made a promise fifteen years ago, and the coincidence was that neither of the three can remember who it was they promised.
Before he knew it, he had reached the designated tree where he and Mutsumi were to meet. Noticing that she obviously hadn't arrived yet, he walked over to the swings and sat on one, swinging himself lightly as he waited for Mutsumi to arrive, the spring breeze feeling refreshing against his face.
Mutsumi was walking down the large stone steps that lead up to Hinata Sou, having finished her shift at Haruka's café. Looking at the sky as she neared the bottom of the steps, she caught a sakura petal that gently floated down. Taking in the fresh fragrance of spring, the beautiful Okinawan woman held the small, delicate flower close to her chest, a wistful smile appearing on her face. She was dressed in an elegant, green kimono, embroidered with ruby floral designs up the sides and front. Her chocolate brown hair was tied back in two cute-looking plaits, tied at the top in a plain red ribbon. Tama-chan was perched in a comfortable position on the top of her head.
Now I have the chance to tell Kei-kun how I feel about him. Mutsumi thought to herself, the smile on her face widening. I know how much he likes Naru-san, but it is foolish for him to love someone who seems to hate him. The cheery smile was now replaced by a slight frown that was tugging on the sides of her mouth, as she remembered the times Keitaro got struck into the lower earth atmosphere by Naru for several misunderstandings; all of which the auburn-haired girl assumed were his 'perverted tendencies'. What she couldn't understand was why the said girl continuously gave him her infamous 'Naru punches' on impulse, rather than just listen to his side of the story first before making her own mind up. What made her feel worse was that Motoko was exactly the same, always being one of the first to send Keitaro flying through the walls and ceilings of Hinata Sou .
Kitsune continuously roping him into 'compromising' situations never helped, either. Neither Naru nor Motoko bothered to ask exactly how her and the hapless kanrinin happened to get into those kind of situations in the first place; they always assumed that Keitaro gave in to his 'perverted urges' and belted him into the stratosphere for his transgressions, while the fox eyed woman sat back and watched in amusement, bottle of saké in hand. The fact that he persistently accepted the blame and did nothing about his constant beatings didn't make her feel better either.
Although Kaolla Su's intentions were less malicious, it still didn't do anything to ease the sadness she felt whenever she saw Keitaro getting hurt. The hyperactive gaijin was naive to the fact that Keitaro could be hurt by any of her inventions when all she wanted to do was 'play'; at the rate she was going, any normal human being would have been killed or seriously injured. The other tenants thought if that was her definition of 'playing', then they definitely did not want to know what her definition of 'seriousness' was.
Mutsumi knew that Shinobu was perhaps the only other person, other than herself, who treated him with dignity and respect. Although she overreacted a lot to any of Kitsune's double entendrés and was sometimes in two minds after Naru and Motoko accused (more like victimised) him of, she knew that the kanrinin was not capable of any of the things Naru and Motoko accused him of. The Okinawan also knew of Shinobu's barely concealed affection for Keitaro. It was so obvious for all to see that there was no point in her trying to hide it for any longer... well, except for Keitaro. It was in that sense that him and Seta were the spitting image of one another, except for the older man being more fearless than his younger student, as probably shown by his fatally poor driving skills.
Lost in her thoughts, it took Mutsumi a few seconds to realise she reached the old playground where her and Keitaro were to meet before she knew it. She saw Keitaro on the swing, the kanrinin obviously unaware of her presence. Smiling fondly, she walked over to him, her dark brown hair fluttering slightly in the breeze.
"Kei-kun?" she said, her voice as soft as satin and soothing as lavender.
Keitaro immediately stopped and fell off the swing upon hearing Mutsumi's voice, having not heard her approach him while he was still on the swing. He stood up, dusting himself off.
"Myuh!" Tama-chan greeted, raising a flipper as she hovered off Mutsumi's head and perched herself comfortably on Keitaro's shoulder.
"Ah... konnichiwa, Mutsumi-san..." He trailed off upon seeing her dressed in her green kimono, unable to take his eyes off her even for so much as a second. Wow, she looks so beautiful... he thought.
"Ara... seen something you like?" Mutsumi teased, giggling while placing a hand over her mouth.
Keitaro snapped out of his reverie and put a hand behind his head."Ah! G-Gomen..."
Mutsumi took one of his hands in hers, and lead him over to a bench looking towards the playground. "Why don't we sit down?" She cooed, walking over to the bench.
The sun by now had already set, and the stars were out in the now dark blue sky, making it look as if it were embroidered with silver sequins. The moon looked like a large silver platter in the sky, it's pallid light shimmering down on them both. Keitaro was looking up at the moon, as was his Okinawan counterpart, enthralled by the beauty of it standing alone with the stars.
"Kei-kun... it's a beautiful night. Don't you think?" Mutsumi sighed, her eyes not leaving the moon.
Keitaro turned his head so he was facing Mutsumi.
"So, Mutsumi-san... what was it you wanted to talk to me about?" He asked.
Mutsumi turned to face him, placing one of her hands on both of his.
"I wanted to talk about... us, Kei-kun."
Keitaro had a surprised expression on his face.
"Us? What do you mean?"
Mutsumi closed her eyes and inhaled deeply.
"Kei-kun... I know how much you like Naru-san. I can see that you want to be more than just friends with her; in fact, everybody knows. We've seen the way you look at her, the way you act around her."
Keitaro blushed, finding it hard to look his counterpart in the eye.
"H-Hai... I suppose you're right."
She squeezed his hands.
"Yet, think for a moment. How many times has she hurt you for incidents which were not of your fault, and rebuffed you in order to prove her point? How many times has she never let you explain your side of the story before attacking you? Kei-kun... she is not the woman for you. She constantly denies her feelings and does not take the time to think about your predicaments before lashing out at you."
Keitaro's expression became downtrodden. There was no denying that Mutsumi was right. While Naru could be an amicable enough person from time to time, she was never the 'sensitive' type. She and Motoko never hesitated to unleash their barrage of attacks on him for even the smallest of accidents, or for just happening to be in the middle of cleaning the outdoor hot spring when they decided to go out for an afternoon bath. She never took Keitaro's feelings into account every time she sent him soaring through the ceilings of Hinata Sou and into the Earth's orbit. The tenants of Hinata Sou knew that he was apparently immortal, but - with the exception of Shinobu - they also thought that his feelings were the same.
"...You're right, Mutsumi-san." Keitaro replied after a long, complatative silence.
"Yes, she looks like a nice person on the outside. But looks are only skin deep. She is one of my best friends, but truth must be told." She took a deep breath before continuing. "And I don't think that I can continue watching from the sidelines any longer."
Keitaro's eyes widened. "What are you trying to say... Mutsumi-san?"
Mutsumi turned to face him again and looked him straight in the eyes, a mild blush forming on her face. "...I love you, Kei-kun." She said in a subdued tone.
Keitaro's eyes widened. "W-W-What?"
Feeling that actions were bigger than words, the Okinawan placed her hand on Keitaro's cheek and slowly leaned in towards him and softly joined her lips with his, startling Keitaro completely. What she did next even surprised herself. She started prodding at Keitaro's lips with her tongue; an action which Keitaro hesitantly replied to, which surprised her even more. Mutsumi could not have asked for a better moment; sharing a passionate kiss under the sakura tree with the man she loves, under the moonlight.
After a few moments, she broke off the kiss hesitantly, keeping her hand on his cheek.
"Kei-kun... I've loved you for a long while. Ever since that time in Okinawa with Naru-san, when I fainted in the water and you both helped me out. I still remember that kiss I shared with you."
Keitaro blushed as he remembered the kiss himself. It was a clear, starry evening on one of Okinawa's beaches. Mutsumi had just recovered from one of her patented fainting spells. She was laid next to a campfire lit in the middle of the beach. Naru had just gone off with a bottle to get some water, leaving the two alone. Mutsumi, after staring at Keitaro, took his glasses off and slowly leaned in towards the stunned young man, pressing her lips against his. Keitaro's blush deepened as he remembered the feel of her lips against his... and the salty taste of the sand grains that were on her lips at the time...
"...do you accept?" He was jerked out of his flashback by Mutsumi's soft and tender voice. He shook his head violently to clear his mind.
"Gomen, Mutsumi-san. I... I was just distracted." His face flushed as he spoke. "What was it you said?"
"Do you accept my love?" Mutsumi replied, her demeanour never losing its gentle nature.
Keitaro was about to reply before stopping to think. It was a difficult decision to make for Keitaro. Two beautiful, smart women; both of whom had quite a few things liked by him about them. His study partners throughout that long and arduous road to get into Toudai for the third time. Yet, this was where the road took two paths, where Mutsumi's good points began to outweigh Naru's bad points. Naru was so short tempered that even the smallest insults would ignite a flame inside her; her belligerent side. She was also very, very obstinate and fairly wayward; she never let Keitaro explain his side of the story whenever he was in a compromising situation, and sent him flying, making him quite possibly the world's first ever human satellite. Then when he returned to the inn, she would rebuff him and ignore any of his attempts to apologise, making him feel worse. Whether this was intentional or not, nobody knew.
Mutsumi, however, was her polar opposite; she was ever so cheerful, even in bad times... a characteristic that tended to confuse the tenants a lot. She would willingly lend him a shoulder to cry on if he ever felt sad, playing the role of an agony aunt, in many ways. Whereas Keitaro spent quite a lot of time with Naru, it always ended on a negative note, not to mention a painful one. When he spent time with the Okinawan, however, such things never happened. She dismissed any incidents, such as his infamous 'face-to-breasts' or his 'hand-to-breast' falls, as accidents. In general, she was just a very pleasant, nice person who had no discriminations towards him whatsoever.
Taking a deep breath, he replied. "I accept, Mutsumi-san."
Mutsumi's eyes widened, her mouth open in surprise. "Ara... you do, Kei-kun?"
"I know I asked if you accepted my love, but... what about Naru-san?"
Keitaro took another deep breath. "To be honest, my love for her waned with every time she hit me and ignored me after every argument. I know that I wanted to be more than just friends with her, but... I just can't see myself lasting in a relationship where I fear getting smashed through the walls and ceilings of Hinata Sou for even the smallest accidents with every day that goes by. Whereas if I were to be in a relationship with you, I wouldn't have any of that to fear. You're a very understanding woman, Mutsumi, who would listen to my side of the story as well as Naru's, and I would like to be more than just a friend to you. You are the type of woman I would much prefer being in a relationship with. So, Mutsumi... I accept."
Mutsumi's eyes glistened with tears as a brilliant smile spread across her face. "Oh... Kei-kun!" She dived towards him and wrapped her arms around him, taking him completely off-guard. Unable to hold back any longer, the tears that had gathered in her eyes started to fall gently down her cheeks. "Do you know... how long I waited... for you to... say those words?" She said in between sobs, burying her head into his chest.
Keitaro reciprocated by wrapping his arms around her, rubbing her back gently as she cried. "You needn't worry about that any more... I've said it."
Mutsumi lifted her head from his chest and looked up at him with teary eyes. Keitaro gently wiped tears from her eyes with his thumb, making her blush slightly. After staring into his eyes for a few moments, she closed hers and leaned her face towards his slowly, while he did the same. Once again, they shared a passionate kiss; one which was very meaningful for them both. Keitaro hoped that this was not a dream. If it was, he definitely did not want to wake up, and nor did his Okinawan counterpart. Breaking off after a few minutes to catch their breaths, Keitaro stood up, offering his hand to Mutsumi. Taking his hand, she also stood up.
Holding one another's hands, they walked back to Hinata Sou under the silvery moonlight, the sakura petals slowly floating around them in the calming breeze.
::: END CHAPTER ONE :::
::: AUTHOR'S NOTES :::
Woo. My first fanfic of 2005. And what a crappy, predictable, overly WAFFy one it is. Flame away!
I had a fair bit of trouble trying to write this one. I figured green would have been the best colour for Mutsumi's kimono. After all, the skin of a watermelon is the same colour ("no duh, Sherlock" - Eleanor).
All types of feedback are welcome, as always.