: Sakura Kisses :


- GlazedAndConfused -

"..." - denotes speech.
"(...)" - denotes whispering.
Italics denote thought and Japanese dialogue.
Chapter Five : One Out, One In

Motoko was sat on the washing deck of Hinata Sou, leant against the railings with her katana placed harmlessly aside in it's sheath. She wiped a stray bead or two of sweat off her forehead with a spare towel, taking a brief break from her strict morning regime of katas. She looked up into the early morning sky, her sharpened senses and instincts told her that this day would be an ideal one for training. While she would much rather be back at her ancestral home in Kyoto - be it training alone out in the tranquility and comforting serenity of the nearby fields, or in the training halls with all the other Shinmei Ryu students in an environment she would feel very comfortable and familiar in - she figured that Hinata Sou was an adequate enough place. She could practice without distraction in the early morning, and she was around those she deemed close to her.

Every day, for as long as she could remember, she had been training like this. The same time every morning, afternoon and evening, without fail; not even so much as a minute or second after. She was more than willing to sacrifice everything she had in order to become a master swordswoman and emulate the feats that her elder sister, Tsuruko, had managed to achieve, if not do better. To some, it would seem that it was just a shame she couldn't put the same amount of effort into her education that she did into her swordsmanship. As far as Motoko was concerned, however, school was only a trivial matter that she needn't concern herself with; the only reason she ever bothered to turn up, be it on time or late, was because education was a strict legal requirement, and it would not look too good on her apparent unblemished record if she never bothered turning up at all. Her grades were average at best in all subjects except for History and Literature, where she seemed to be excelling. None of this mattered in the least to her, however; kendo was not a past-time hobby. School ended soon, whereas her lifestyle wouldn't. She had been raised by the way of the sword, raised as a warrior - why would she need to bother herself by socialising with classmates, keeping up with the latest fashion trends, or dating with similarly aged males and basically having a good time in general?

Males. Men.

Both of these words Motoko spoke with such hatred and venom. The only men she considered to be even the least bit honourable were dead and buried a long time ago, and were raised the same way as she was. The young swordswoman could never imagine herself finding someone who could even be compared to those she read about as part of her family's history; the modern day man, as far as she was concerned, was perverted, ill-mannered, and had nothing in mind except to ravage and corrupt the innocent body and mind of a defenceless young maiden, then boast about his conquests afterwards to his equally perverted friends, who would listen with the most rapt of attention. What would be the worth in seeking such disgusting, loathsome creatures like them?

But as much as she tried convincing herself that was the case, she found her mind gradually filling with doubt, her heart telling her that Keitaro was the exception to her rule; a rule which people of a regular upbringing - particularly men - would find to be illogical and flawed on all accounts. But why would he, of all people, be no different to any other man she'd ever encountered? It was scandalous that her heart even dared suggest this! Even wild dogs had more redeeming qualities and standards about their beings than that pathetic excuse of a man did; at least they didn't go around looking for excuses for why they had their hands or heads where they shouldn't be, namely on Naru's breasts or up Shinobu's skirt. Yes, he was a Toudaisei, she could give him praise for that - but it took him three years before that to get in, so he couldn't have been that bright in the first place! What Mutsumi could ever see in that fool of a hentai was highly questionable; if there was something there, then either the Okinawan woman was blind, deluded, or she could see deeper within Keitaro than the rest of the tenants.

How typical of you, her subconscious cut in, ending her mental diatribe about the kanrinin's bad points. You spend so much time thinking about his bad points - half of which aren't even his fault - that you completely fail to remember what he did for you and everyone else.

'What he did for me and everyone else'? Name one single thing that pervert has done for us ever since he came here that was any good, her mind shot back, fiercely, as she began to carry on with her katas where she left off.


Really, now. Is that the way to reward the fact that Keitaro was the only person who stood by you when you were issued the challenge by Tsuruko that time? Had it not been for his help, you would have been stuck in the lifestyle of a normal woman - a lifestyle which would not have suited you in the slightest, and you know it. Admit it, he is nowhere near as perverted or stupid as you and Naru claim he is.


Well, yes, I am most grateful for Urashima standing by my side when nobody else did. But nonetheless, my opinion of him as a pervert has not changed in the slightest; you claim he is not a pervert, but how do you explain his actions? Him constantly peeking on us in the hot springs to satisfy his perverted urges, not to mention groping either myself, Naru-sempai or the other tenants. His presence has been nothing but a curse on the once pure and innocent aura that once surrounded his place; this aura is now tainted. The sooner he leaves, the better - good riddance I say!


My explanation for his actions? Easy. He is not exactly the most co-ordinated person in the world; don't forget, you are nimble and well co-ordinated due to your training. You can't expect everyone to be as nimble and light-footed as you. He is merely clumsy. You think he likes being that way? How would you like it if you were in his shoes? He ends up in these positions where you and Naru attack him because of his clumsiness, or because of Kitsune tricking him. Have you ever stopped to consider that?


Well, I must concur that Kitsune's antics do play their role in his transgr --




-- accidents. What about him peeking on us in the hot springs, or when we are changing?


He has a poor sense of timing. Besides, it's not as if he hasn't knocked before. But what about when he's cleaning the hot springs for you all to use? Surely you cannot believe that he is a pervert merely for maintaining the cleanliness of the hot spring area. Face it, girl; he doesn't have an evil bone in his body. He doesn't have the heart to do so much as a quarter of the things you and Naru like to accuse him of.


Urashima is a male. Simple as.


And that means what? Come on, surely you are not so shallow that you believe all men deserve to be tarred with the same brush. The evil men in this world are only in the minority; the majority are not perverted, but are merely seeking a partner to spend the rest of their life with, or are happily married family men who want nothing more than the best for their spouse and children. Keitaro certainly does not fall under the minority. Mutsumi can see that, as can Shinobu and Kitsune. Naru is beginning to open her eyes to this fact - and it's about time you did too, so why can't you?

Motoko sighed in resignation and sheathed her katana, sliding down the railings back into a seated position on the washing deck, the mental argument between her subconscious and her mind having rendered her unable to concentrate on anything. If only she could stop thinking about him. If only he would just pack up and leave, never to bother the tenants anymore.

If only he and Mutsumi never became a couple. This last thought in particular sent shivers down the young swordswoman's spine, as well as making her face flush a slight shade of red. These feelings... Motoko thought, placing a hand on her heart as it started beating faster. Is this... jealousy, that I am feeling? Am I really jealous of Mutsumi-san? She shook her head vigorously, cursing herself for ever believing that. Her? Jealous? Of Mutsumi? For being all lovey dovey with that low-life? Impossible! She was Motoko Aoyama, heiress to the Shinmei Ryu school of kendo; the day she ever became jealous of the Okinawan for being the boyfriend of the resident pervert would be the day she willingly surrender her livelihood as a swordswoman and become a nun.

On second thought, becoming a nun didn't sound half bad to her... at least then, she thought, she wouldn't have to put up with his antics and violations of her privacy.

But the more she dwelled on the matter of Keitaro being an exception to her rule, the more it seemed to hit her in the face; the more it seemed to be true. It wasn't as if he meant to be in the wrong places at the wrong times, nor did Kitsune, Su or Sara seem to help with their constant trickery. What with his bad luck and poor sense of timing, she wouldn't be too surprised to hear that it had all been the work of a foul, inhuman spirit who had cursed him since the day he was born. Yep, that sounded logical. She also had to admit that he was noble spirited, no matter how much she tried to convince herself she was nothing but trouble. After all, what other normal person would accept the blame for all the things he was accused of, and do nothing to stop the barrage of punches, kicks and slashes? At least he had a sense of morality, that much could be said.

Motoko growled in frustration at her ever-contradictory thoughts and feelings about the kanrinin, and stood up briskly, picking up her katana as she did so. At this rate, she would never get any more practice done. As she made her way through the door and down the steps to her room, one last thought was running through her head.

Even in my thoughts you haunt me so, Urashima.

In the kanrinin's room, Mutsumi was slowly beginning to rouse herself from her peaceful sleep, her eyes gently fluttering open. Seeing the serene look on her boyfriend's face, she smiled gently, experiencing the same feelings that she had when she woke up in the Urashima man's arms every morning; peace, security, comfort, closeness, love and relief - relieved at the fact that she was not just dreaming that she was lying in his bed every night in his arms, as well as the fact that he actually chose her over Naru. While she knew this seemed to be a very shallow thought since they were both good friends, she was not about to let herself surrender Keitaro back to the auburn-haired girl; not now, not after she had found all of the things she wanted to experience with him. As far as she was concerned, it was Naru's loss, not Keitaro's.

Regaining most of her bearings, she noticed that her face was only a matter of inches away from Keitaro's. Those soft, warm, tender lips, looking more inviting than anything. A light flush adorned her face as she realised that she could feel his warm breath on her own lips, making her spine chill slightly. She also noticed the position the two were in; his right arm around her waist, and her left arm around his. Her long, flowing, silky-soft strands of hair were sprawled out in no particular direction, a few of these strands resting on the side of Keitaro's face.

The beautiful Okinawan woman was snapped out of her thoughts by the sight of Keitaro gently stirring in his sleep before opening his eyes, grimacing as the early morning sunlight spilled into the room and into his eyes through the window. She could not help but stare into his warm, chocolate-brown orbs as he woke up; those orbs that filled her with the most overwhelming sense of security whenever she would look into them. Both of them stared at each other for seconds that seemed to drag on like hours, their heart rates and pulses beginning to go a bit faster. Neither of them looked like they wanted to move away from this impromptu embrace, not wanting to spoil the moment they were both sharing.

"G-Good morning... Mutsumi," Keitaro finally spoke, a blush spreading across his face as he noticed how close in proximity their faces were to one another. While this was a regular occurrence ever since they both made their relationship official, the fact that the slightly older woman was more than willing to sleep in the same bed as him every night and insist that she slept naked as it was more comfortable for her was still nonetheless enough to make him go as red as a beetroot.

"Ara... good morning, Keitaro," Mutsumi replied, her voice nothing more than a hushed whisper.

Several more moments had passed by before the Urashima man spoke up again, noticing the time. "We'd best be getting cleaned up. Shinobu-chan will have breakfast ready soon."

"Hai." Reluctantly, the two began to slip out of their embrace, Mutsumi standing up slowly and making her way towards the bathroom, not bothering to put on anything to conceal her modesty. Keitaro couldn't help but stare at the Okinawan beauty; his eyes wandering all over her slim and highly desireable physique, drinking in and admiring her milky white, flawless skin, body and slender legs. Staring at her like this made him think just how lucky he was to have her as a girlfriend.

...he also felt a certain part of his anatomy rise up in agreement with the sight before him.

Whoa, down boy! He mentally yelled at his anatomy, who seemed to take no notice whatsoever, even after Mutsumi walked out of the room. Damn. I think a cold shower is in order after seeing that... He rose from his futon, rolling it up and putting it in his wardrobe for later, trying vainly to conceal his current state of excitement. He then walked over to the chest of drawers and opened the top draw to pull out some clothes. After pulling out a pair of jeans, he noticed something small and metallic, glimmering in the light. His curiosity piqued, he picked it up, revealing it to be a heart-shaped locket. Hmm. Must be Mutsumi's. His assumption was proven right, as he noticed the initials "M.O." carved in a very fancy, expensive-looking style of writing on the front of the locket. Opening it up with care, he saw two pictures of him in there; one of him from when they both first met in Okinawa, and the other which looked fairly recent. He felt a light blush reappear on his cheeks as he saw these pictures, smiling fondly. Closing the locket back up, he made sure to put it back where he found it, picking out a plain, non-descript shirt.

I love you, Mutsumi.

At that moment, the said woman walked back into the room, still having done nothing to solve the issue her current state of undress; this sight made Keitaro divebomb towards the box of tissues, feeling all the blood in his head suddenly rush to his nose as he saw Mutsumi's bosom and 'lower half'. He turned away, not only to stop himself from provoking a sudden eruption of the maroon liquid, but also to help preserve the slightly older woman's modesty. "M-M-M-Mutsumi! Gomen! I didn't know you were still... still..." The Urashima man's face went redder than humanly possible as he found himself unable to finish that sentence.

Mutsumi giggled mirthfully, her mouth held up to her mouth. "Don't be silly, Keitaro; I told you before, I do not mind you seeing me like this at all." Her mouth curved upwards into a cute, disarming smile. "Would you like to join me in the bath for a quick wash, just before we go to breakfast?"

Keitaro tried frantically to prevent the impending eruption of his nostrils as the images of him and Mutsumi in the open-air bath, both nude, flooded his mind like the bursting of a dam. "W-Where? My tub or t-the open-air bath?"

"Wherever; your choice."

"My tub," Keitaro replied, without a second thought. He really could not do with the girls wandering in on him and Mutsumi while they were both having a bath, and inevitably being knocked into orbit by either Naru or Motoko. With that thought, it wasn't himself he was concerned about, rather the grilling and questioning Mutsumi would receive afterwards. Not that he'd have any reason to worry about that; time and time again in the past, she has handled herself in those questions quite adeptly, answering questions honestly, albeit sometimes subconsciously enough to give people the wrong idea.

"Of course," Mutsumi replied, her smile still present. She held out her hand towards Keitaro after he got a spare towel. "Shall we go?"

Keitaro took the hand offered to him without a word, still blushing as they both walked out to his wooden tub on one of the balconies.

I guess I really should be used to this... Keitaro thought, embarrassedly, so why aren't I? I still nearly faint at the sight of Mutsumi's... boldness... He felt a stirring in his loins again, as the image of Mutsumi standing before him, without a stitch of clothing on her person, made it's presence within the deepest recesses of his mind.

Unknown to him, Mutsumi had caught a glimpse of this 'metamorphasis' as it were out the corner of her eye, and felt her cheeks grow hot at the sight. Looks like Keitaro... finds me desireable, she thought, mentally smirking with pride.

"Ara, Keitaro..." Mutsumi sighed, her eyes fluttering in relaxation and pleasure under the tender, yet clumsy, ministrations of Keitaro's soapy hands as they roamed over her back. "That's the spot."

The kanrinin merely nodded fiercely and gulped in response, unable to tear his eyes away from the beautiful goddess that sat before him, tracing the soft, flawless skin of her back lightly with his hands and fingers as he finished off washing it for her. Once he had finished a few moments later, he was no longer running his fingers up and down her back to wash; it was more to explore the fine feeling of her skin even further, tracing every square area, from her shoulders to her slim, slender sides. Feeling Mutsumi shivering and hearing her moan quietly in pleasure snapped him out of his reverie, as he took a bucket of warm water and dumped it over her person, washing away the suds of shampoo and soap.

"Now it's your turn," the Okinawan spoke, gleefully clapping her hands as she got off the stool and gently sat her boyfriend down as he followed her instructions with a meek nod.

All of his worries and fears of the girls walking on them were soon forgotten, as his brain literally melted the moment he felt Mutsumi's warm, gentle and soapy hands on his back, starting their ministrations, making him moan in quiet satisfaction. For extra measure, she leaned forward and placed a feather-light kiss on the back of his neck, sending goosebumps and chills flying up and down his spine; an action which made her smirk teasingly inside. I think he liked that, she thought smugly, with the slightest intentions of teasing him even further; intentions she decided not to act upon... at least until later in the day when they were alone again.

"Mmm," Keitaro hummed, closing his eyes and gently leaning his head back in bliss. "That feels really good, Mutsumi."

"I'm glad you like it," Mutsumi replied, beaming, the happiness in her voice there for the kanrinin to hear. She had always wanted to share moments like this with the former ronin; just him and her alone, in the bath, washing each other. In fact, many of her dreams consisted of this kind of moment. The Okinawan blushed as she recalled the end of one particular not-so-innocent dream, which ended with her and Keitaro in the tub, the look of intense, hungry emotion and animalistic lust for one another clear to see in their eyes, followed by the most intimate and steamy kiss they had shared yet, aroused further by the steam that filled the mild air. Kissing turned to making out, making out had turned to petting, and making out had led to intense lovemaking. Shaking her head vigorously to clear her head of these thoughts, Mutsumi began to concentrate once more on washing Keitaro's back.

After a few moments of washing, Mutsumi dumped the same bucket of warm water over the Urashima man, removing the soap from his back. She stood beside him and took his hand, leading him over to the bathing tub. The said tub had been modified so there was room for about four people. Pointless when one thought about it, but it made sense since it would mean that Keitaro and Mutsumi would have more room to move around freely whenever they wanted to while bathing. Mutsumi motioned Keitaro to climb in first, then followed him, settling herself between his legs and resting the naked flesh of her back against the flesh of his chest; an intimate action which threatened to make the kanrinin's nose erupt with blood and babble incoherently.

"Mut... su... mi...?" he squeaked out in a high-pitched voice, making the older woman giggle.

"I just want to be held by you while we bathe," she simply stated, taking his hands in her's and wrapping his arms around her, not wanting to be away from his loving and caring aura for even a minute. "Is that okay?"

"O-Of course," he replied, relaxing as he held the woman of his affections in his arms. The two then chose to sit in complete silence, neither of them wanting to ruin the mood. The only audible sounds that could be heard were the lapping of the warm water against the finished wood of the tub and one another's soft breathing as Mutsumi absentmindedly drew non-descript patterns on his hand and forearm with her finger, staring into space. Keitaro was rendered immobile; frozen by the proximity between them both in an area that was small in comparison to the open-air bath that was literally a stone's throw from the balcony, and intoxicated by the fragrance of the shampoo used on her just washed hair. Lavender-scented shampoo, Keitaro absentmindedly noted.

Mutsumi leaned her head back so the back of it was resting on Keitaro's shoulder, staring into his eyes intently. The only sound she could hear now was the now quickened beating of her heart resounding in her eardrums as she found herself in the same position she woke up in earlier that morning; her lips within millimetres of his, their warm breaths caressing one another's lips tantalisingly. She decided to take the initiative this time around and closed the distance between their faces, sealing his lips with her's in a soft and gentle kiss, which Keitaro reciprocated. The soft smooching sounds were all that could be heard from the tub, before they decided to deepen the kiss; their tongues finding, tasting and caressing one another gently. Blanking out their surroundings, all the young couple focused on was one another; nothing else.

Breaking the kiss momentarily, but not the embrace they were both sat in, Mutsumi swivelled around so she was straddling Keitaro's legs, sliding her arms around his neck and holding him closer to her. Resting her forehead against his for a few moments, she kissed the tip of his nose and then leaned in towards his ear. "I love you, Keitaro Urashima; with every fibre of my being," she whispered, a shy smile on her face as her hot breath made itself known against his ear, eliciting a shudder from the young man.

Keitaro leaned back so he could stare into the beautiful Okinawan's face, then gently kissed her on the lips and leaned forward once again so he could whisper into her ear. "I love you too, Mutsumi Otohime, with all my heart." The Urashima man then leaned back again and kissed her soft, warm lips again. Nothing more was said between the two until Keitaro had noticed how much time had passed.

"We should be going down for breakfast," Keitaro spoke. "Coming?"

Mutsumi's only reply was a slow nod, reluctantly standing up off his lap and climbed out of the tub, drying herself and putting on her clothes as Keitaro did the same.

For the past two weeks, breakfast had not been as tense an affair as it had been, ever since Keitaro and Mutsumi both declared their love for one another to the tenants. While Kitsune still held some degree of bitterness towards the kanrinin for the way the news was broken to Naru about the said relationship, she had to admit that she could not remain mad at him over it, as Naru played her part in her own loss aswell by continuously driving him away, even after he had admitted his feelings for her that time in the hospital when he broke his leg. Despite the resumed civility between everybody as regards to Keitaro and Mutsumi, Motoko's sharpened and honed instincts told her that there was a layer of discomfort hanging in the air, and that something was bound to happen.

Her instincts were proven to be correct, as Naru cleared her throat in order to get everybody's attention. Once she had succeeded in doing so, she stood up from her position at the table, making sure that all eyes were on her. "I would just like to say..." the auburn-haired girl started, taking a nervous breath before she was calmed by Kitsune secretively holding her hand under the table, as if to provide her with the support for what she would have to say. "I would like to tell you all," she restarted, thankful for her fox-eyed friend's gesture of support, "that I will be leaving Hinata Sou for a few days."

"WHAT?" Came the sudden cacophony of questions and exclamations concerning the matter that had just arisen.

"But why, Naru-sempai?"

"Will you be coming back, Naru?"

"Auuu, what are you going to do?"

"Please, everybody," Naru stated, raising her hands as if to halt the disorganised flow of questions heading towards her. "One at a time."

"Naru-sempai," Motoko spoke up, "why are you leaving?"

"I just need to leave for a few days. At the moment, my feelings are all mixed up. It feels like I don't know what I really want, so I'm going back home just to get my head around things."

"This is the cause of Urashima, isn't it?" the young swordswoman spat, turning her attention to the kanrinin as she fingered the hilt of her sword in a manner that caused the said person to gulp through fear of his own safety; when Motoko's hand even so much as brushed past the hilt, he knew that he would be in for some pain. As she saw the soft, yet determined, chocolate-brown orbs of Mutsumi focused on her, however, she remembered the promise she had made to the Okinawan woman that she would not hurt him neither verbally nor physically, and bit back the verbal barb she had intended on directing towards Keitaro.

"No," Naru replied, placing a hesitant hand onto the young swordswoman's arm to prevent her from flying off the handle without hearing both sides of the story first. A wave of guilt spread over her as she considered this. How ironic, she thought. Here's me, trying to stop Motoko from harming Keitaro for something that wasn't his fault, yet I was one of the first people to have flew off the handle for misinterpreting or not listening to his side of the story. Funny how these things always come full circle. She shook this thought out of her head. "I won't go into detail about it now. Maybe when I come back, I will, but now is not the time."

Motoko bowed deeply out of respect and understanding for the elder girl. "I understand, Naru-sempai," she spoke, moving her hand away from her sword. "Whatever choice you make, I hope it all turns out well for you."

The auburn-haired girl allowed the slightest of smiles to spread across her face. "Thanks... Motoko." After a few moments of awkward silence, she turned her attention to Keitaro - who flinched upon meeting eye contact with her, fearing the worst by impulse - and gave him a soft look as if to reassure him; as if to say 'don't worry - I'll be back'. With that, Naru placed her dishes in the kitchen sink, and went back to the table. "Well... I guess I'd better start packing my stuff." She then exited the kitchen and went upstairs to her room, with Kitsune deciding to go up with her.

"Are you sure you'll be alright?"

Naru zipped up her bags, having finished packing up her belongings and anything else she thought would have been necessary to take back home with her. The auburn-haired girl's room was now practically empty and barren, most of her belongings having been packed into four separate bags. She looked up at Kitsune, smiling at her in an attempt to ease her mind. "Don't worry, Kitsune," she spoke, patting her long-time friend on the shoulder reassuringly. "I'll be alright once I get home. Besides, it's not as if I'm leaving forever," she continued, allowing herself a mirthful chuckle, "I will be back. I just need a bit of time by myself, you know."

The sandy haired woman appeared to be sated, nodding her head appreciatively. Opening her normally slitted eyes slightly, she walked up to Naru and placed an arm around her shoulder. "Well, at least give me a call when you get back home, yeah?" she asked, smiling. "I'll either be drinking myself silly or worrying my tits off about you getting home safely if you don't call."

Naru chuckled again. No matter what the circumstances, she knew she could always rely on Kitsune to cheer her up whenever she needed it. Sure, the fox-eyed woman did have her annoying side when it came to probing her about relationships amongst other things, but with all that aside, she knew that Kitsune would always be there for her whenever she needed somebody to confide in, without having to be fearful of her secrets and feelings being divulged to others.

Nor did she offer that confidence at a price; something which she was very thankful of when taking Keitaro's previous experiences in having Kitsune as an agony aunt into consideration. The poor sap ended up having his entire savings account emptied, or at least half of it spent on saké just to appease the fox-eyed woman.

The fox-eyed woman drew her friend into an embrace which Su would have been proud of, one which was reciprocated by Naru the moment she got her bearings - and breath, praying that a couple of ribs hadn't been cracked in the process - back. The two stayed like this for a few moments, saying nothing to ruin the moment.

"I'll miss you, girl." Kitsune spoke.

"I'll miss you too," Naru replied, lowering her arms. "Don't worry, I'll call you when I get back."

"Walk you to the station?" the fox-eyed woman offered.

Naru beamed brightly. "Thought you'd never ask." With that, the two made their way down stairs.


Those two simple words, spoken as soft as satin, yet with a lot of determination behind it, were enough to halt Naru and Kitsune before they could walk through the front door, the former with her bags packed and over her shoulders. Turning around, the auburn-haired girl and the older fox-eyed vixen found Mutsumi standing by the lounge area, slowly walking up to them; a look of concern on her face. Naru found herself shuddering inwardly at the expression on the Okinawan woman's face, but nonetheless retained her composure. "Can I help you, Mutsumi-san?" she spoke, a friendly smile on her face.

Mutsumi's face retained it's worried visage. "I cannot help but think that the reason for you leaving, even though it is only temporary, is because of me and Keitaro getting together. Is this true?"

Naru opened her mouth to speak, but closed it before any sound came out, sparing a sideward glance at Kitsune, who nodded in the affirmative. Her shoulders slumped, and a forlorn expression came over her face, further increasing Mutsumi's concern. "...hai. You're right."

"I thought as much." Mutsumi walked over to Naru and stood directly in front of her, clasping both of the auburn-haired girl's hands in both of her's. "You do not have to leave on our account, you know. If you want, me and Keitaro could always take some time off away from here so you can stay."

Naru shook her head sadly, a compressed smile forming on her face. "That's kind of you to say, but..." The smile disappeared as she turned to face away from the older woman, unable to make eye contact. "...how can I stay here, knowing you two are a couple, when I still have romantic feelings for him?" She then turned to stare into Mutsumi's eyes. "I'm really happy that you have found happiness with him," she spoke, honestly, "but I can't be expected to get over my feelings without wishing it was me who was with him whenever I see you two getting intimate and affectionate. I think it's for the best that I leave for a while. I'll get over my feelings for him a lot quicker if I have time on my own to think, without any distractions."

Mutsumi nodded her head in understanding, her worried look having eased a little. "I understand, Naru-san," she replied, a friendly smile forming on her face. "Come back whenever you feel ready to do so; me and Keitaro will welcome you back with open arms, as will everybody else." Staring into her fellow Toudaisei's eyes, she unconsciously found her face nearing Naru's until slowly, their lips met. Although it was the most awkward of kisses, Mutsumi placed every ounce of friendship she felt for Naru into that single kiss, while the auburn-haired girl just froze completely, not moving a single muscle until the watermelon-loving woman pulled back a few seconds later.

Kitsune was also frozen into a state of shock, her eyes widened to such an extent that her eyes could have bulged out of her socket at any moment, and her cheeks feeling as if somebody had lit a bonfire inside them.

"M-M-Mutsumi-san?" Naru gasped, her eyes wide and her cheeks flushed brightly, placing a hand to her lips.

"Ara..." the Okinawan woman placed a hand on the side of her head, closing her eyes sheepishly. "I guess what they say is true; old habits really do die hard..."

Naru couldn't help but stifle a giggle at her friend's unique, if not completely misinterpreting, way of expressing friendship for somebody. Noticing the time, Naru hastily picked up her bags and hefted them over her shoulders. She gave Mutsumi one last look, smiling fondly at her friend before opening the front door. "Well, I guess I'll see you whenever."

Mutsumi nodded. "Hai. Take care, Naru-san. Give your family my regards."

"I will."

The Okinawan woman watched on as Naru and Kitsune both walked down the megalithic stone steps, with one thought running through her head.

I just hope you decide what's best for yourself...

Black. A colour that symbolises darkness, the unpredictable, and represents the shadows with it's concealed nature. This was perhaps the colour that matched the personality of a particular Kanako Urashima the most; unreadable, stoic, and most of all, a complete paradox of a person. Her outward natural beauty was a complete betrayal to the mind that worked within her. Her eyes, an ominously dark shade of claret, possessed a certain factor of intimidation which would work wonders when trying to squeeze information out of a person, or make somebody back down from a possible fight through unspoken words; this, coupled with the fact that she had trained for years in the special Urashima style of jiu-jitsu, meant that she was a person that one would be wise enough not to cross paths with.

In fact, the Urashima girl even took a little pride in her intimidating nature. It wasn't as if she needed to stand on the rooftops and yell to the public below about just how frightening she could be; the glint in her eyes that provided an unspoken threat did more than back that up, as did the fact that any unfortunate men who had the balls to try chatting her up can testify that she certainly packed more than a punch, as they were always on the receiving end of one of her family's refined attacks for one reason or another.

Besides, there was room for only one man in her life. As far as she was concerned, no other man could even hold a stick to this very man - Keitaro. Her feelings for him were most certainly buoyed by the fact that they were not even related by blood, only by name; this would avoid all talk about the taboo that was incest. Knowing that she had finally located the whereabouts of her elder brother after so many years of painstaking searching made her giddy at the knees and near enough made her heart melt like a schoolgirl with a massive crush, but to avoid any commotion she would have to resist merely running into the building like a bull in a china shop, as hard as it may be.

After a few moments of contemplation, she finally decided on a way to go into the old building without arousing suspicion; stealth infiltration, a technique she had mastered at an early age for gaining things for her own benefit. Even she had to admit that it was possibly the best way of going about things.

Oniichan, I've waited all these years to see you again, she thought, a look of steel cast in her eyes with her face locked into a determined scowl, but now, I'm finally here...


My my, an update for this has been long overdue, hasn't it? Ahem. Anyway,I hope this chapter is enough to satisfy you all; it should do, standing at just over 7,200 words long... :P

Not really much to say, except that I'm off for Christmas until January 4th... some holiday that is; not very long, is it. (Sighs). Anyway, I also have an idea for a one-shot in mind; you can read about it in my profile. :)

And now, time for another omake... for those of you with even the slightest of kinky sides. Enjoy. :P

Whoa, down boy! Keitaro mentally yelled at his anatomy, who seemed to take no notice whatsoever, even after Mutsumi walked out of the room. Damn. I think a cold shower is in order after seeing that... He rose from his futon, rolling it up and putting it in his wardrobe for later, trying vainly to conceal his current state of excitement. He then walked over to the chest of drawers and opened the top draw to pull out something to wear, but noticed something odd underneath the neat pile of clothes, which appeared to be a piece of rope. Pulling it out, his eyes widened with the more he saw of the object. His face flushed a bright shade of red as he pulled it all the way out, revealing it to be a whip.

A w-whip? Keitaro thought incredulously, frantically pulling the drawer out of it's place and throwing his clothes out to see what else was in there. He froze completely as he spotted more erotic-looking objects; ones he knew for a fact definitely weren't his. By this point, his mind was racing at a thousand miles a minute, his eyebrows twitching and hands trembling violently. Okay, there's a leather catsuit... ball gag... glacé cherries... whipped cream... knee-high boots with stiletto heels... a collapsible bondage rack? WHAT THE HELL IS ALL THIS STUFF DOING IN MY DRAW? The mental cacophony of disbelieving voices in his head stopped as he noticed a shadow appear over him, blocking off the light.

"Ara, Keitaro..."

Keitaro's fears - or rather, fantasies - were confirmed, as the shadow looming over him turned out to be that of Mutsumi's. He noticed that the Okinawan had her hands clasped innocently in front of her, yet the gleam in her eyes - which he had only seen once before, shuddering as he recalled what happened afterwards - completely betrayed the look of innocent ignorance on her face.

"It appears that you have found the... collection... Kitsune-san lent me some time ago." She leaned forward enough to give Keitaro a good view down her blouse of her cleavage, the tip of her nose almost touching his.

"Erm... ah... um... that is..." The kanrinin was unable to make a single coherent string of words as he was torn between staring Mutsumi in the eye, and staring down her cleavage. Once again, he felt a particular part of his anatomy spring into life, very much liking the sight before Keitaro's eyes.

Mutsumi licked her lips, slowly yet hungrily; the smile on her face making Keitaro's blood turn to fire. "Don't worry; I was planning on showing you this sometime later, but you got there before me. Now, let's try some of these... 'toys'... out now, shall we?"

Keitaro's and Mutsumi's combined screams of pleasure and sheer lust echoed throughout the halls of Hinata Sou, loud enough for passers by below to hear...