50 Themes Challenge(s): 22, 49

Credit: Inspired partially by one of the sexiest pictures of Aoshi ever drawn by Riot O Curls….
All's fair in love and war.

That was an accurate assessment of her view of the situation. She loved him, he loved her – even if he wouldn't admit it – and the situation was rapidly going nowhere. She'd been trying to seduce her neighbor, reclusive Shinomori Aoshi for the entirety of the four years they'd known one another. He was an artist, mostly landscapes. Sometimes he did poems. It was the perfect lifestyle for him; he got to stay at his house where he wasn't bothered. Why he was so dead-set on his house being so silent, she didn't understand. The place reeked of mourning except she wasn't sure he was actually mourning something. Maybe it was just the cold, stiff, formal atmosphere that was Shinomori Aoshi's house.

It wasn't important in the grand scheme of things though. She had her plan; she was going to give him a few clues and maybe a shove or two. He certainly needed it. Never let it be said that he was dumb, she thought, he was just stubborn.

Letting herself in the front door, she grinned. She was certain that no one except her had the audacity to walk right in. There was no worry about walking in on him doing anything private either; he was the strict kind of man that did private stuff in his bedroom and not in the living room. Or, so she assumed. He had to be with the way he organized his house, she thought wryly as she stepped over the threshold, slid the door closed and discarded her shoes. Her precious package was tucked away in her purse and she patted it absently.

"Aoshi?" she called out.

Despite walking in, she did like to give him some clue she was around. It made her feel less guilty about just walking in… assuming she had any guilt over that which… she guessed she really didn't.

Coming around the corner she stepped into his dining room. He didn't disappoint. She knew he'd be having tea; he always did at three o'clock. Grinning at him, she invited herself to his table.

She noticed the extra cup immediately and a dark thought flared to life. "Are you expecting company?" There was a kind of clenched feeling inside her chest as she waited for his answer. He'd been staring at the tabletop when she came in and, having glanced up at her once, he returned to staring at his table.

He didn't get out much, so he didn't meet many women. Still, he had had women over before, something Misao noted with bitter jealousy. It wasn't as though she could even say anything about it without sort of throwing her feelings in his face. She wasn't walking into a rejection. Four years and he hadn't shown any kind of interest in her… she briefly considered leaving. Even though she wanted it to be so, she didn't really know. Well, she was fairly certain that he didn't love her, she just desperately wanted him to.

"Just you," he answered sedately.

Was this an invitation to join him for tea? She'd never asked and he'd offered her once but since she declined, well, he hadn't offered since. It didn't bother her; she wasn't there about tea, but… Why had he gotten her a cup all of the sudden? It had been… three years since she started inviting herself in. She was confused.

"Have some tea," he spoke. He sounded normal, she thought as she poured herself some of the piping hot tea. He must've just made it, she surmised as she brought it to her lips. She liked tea just as well as the next girl, but the fact that he'd made the tea made it special. She sipped slowly, savoring it.

After tasting, she turned her mind back to him. His behavior was different and that heralded bad news for her. Shinomori Aoshi didn't like change.

"What's wrong? Are you about to tell me something bad?" her voice was grave when she spoke. Her muscles tensed as she sat there, her palms gently embracing her hot tea cup, her back straight.

He raised his head again at that and stared at her. His gaze was intense and dark; she didn't like to maintain eye contact with him too long. Her mind wandered and ultimately, she blushed.

Nodding at him, she fidgeted. "You're having tea with me, that's… well… different. As far as I can remember, you don't like different."

He paused a moment, as if weighing her words, and then in a sort of absent way, he shrugged one shoulder. He didn't often do that but whenever he did her eyes would linger over the broad span of his shoulders wondering how he looked underneath the soft silks he so liked. "Things have to change eventually."

That was true but it certainly wasn't clearing anything up. As long as he wasn't giving her bad news, she supposed she could continue on with her original plan.

"So, I came over today with a purpose."


Like you wouldn't come over and bug me anyway, that's what his tone made her think but of course he hadn't said it. Didn't mean he didn't think it, she thought sourly.

She puffed herself up and dug into her pocket for the plastic key ring. "Check this out." There was no way she was going to be defeated by her own pessimistic thoughts. "I got it at this tiny little convenience store over by… uh… the train station by… ah, well it doesn't matter, it was a convenience store."

He dutifully stared at the object she'd tossed carelessly onto the tabletop. For a long moment, all he did was stare at it before reaching for it, flipping over the transparent plastic square box. When his eyes caught sight of the object inside, his eyes widened and she smiled. That was a new expression, she thought, lifting her cup to her lips.

"Why… Why are you showing me this?"

She pursed her lips and lowered her cup, tucking her amusement away quickly.

"You're the closest guy friend I have… I was kind of hoping you might help me out a little bit."

He shifted. His fine muscles shifted under the dark blue silk shirt. It was darker than his eyes, almost black. His shirts made her think of sheets. Black satin sheets and how much she wanted to listen to them rustle around her and Aoshi.

"Help you out how?"

His spine straightened and the sleepy kind of sedateness that she'd walked in on had cleared. He stared at her, his attention complete and utterly focused on her. She told her insides not to jitter.

"Well, you know I'm a student up at the University in the city, right?"

He nodded.

She shifted again nervously. "Honestly, I don't date much so… I don't really know all that much about guys and I couldn't ask anyone at my house and my girlfriends, honestly, laughed so hard I thought they'd die and I got offended when they started teasing me and left and… Well, Aoshi, you're an older guy, you've got all sorts of knowledge about this stuff… I'm an awkward virgin, I'm like a … well I can't think of a good example, but you know…"

Aoshi slid his fingers around his cup. They were such long fingers. So manly and… Would he think her a complete weirdo if she told him he had beautiful hands? "And you want me to … talk to you about… things?"

"Not things," she frowned. "I understand how it all works, I'm not ten. I just have a few… questions, real life, application questions."

He didn't turn green or white or even red, he just sort of stared into his tea cup and she reconsidered the whole thing. It wouldn't be a surprise if the plan failed, she'd scrapped heaps of plans in the four years they'd known each other.

"If something's wrong, I can go… Are you all right?" Now she was worried. He just seemed kind of melancholy and while he was quiet and broody, he wasn't usually depressed

"It's fine. You may ask."

She certainly didn't feel like asking now. He'd sucked all the fun right out of her.

"Really," she pressed. "What's wrong? You can't tell me? Especially me? Me who comes over and rearranges your stuff and eats your food and never knocks on the door and always sends you dumb cards in the mail at holidays…?"

Lifting his head again, he stared at her. This time she had no reservations about meeting his eyes, she was worried.

"How old are you now?"

It wasn't anything at all like she was expecting. "Twenty-one."

"What are you studying?"

"…Business," she hesitantly replied. "Does this have something to do with your… oddness today?"

"I've just been thinking about things, you needn't worry. Ask your questions." He paused lifting his cup. "I'll help you."

He didn't want to look at her. Misao had a sort of soft kind of perfection that reminded him of his younger, rasher days. He recalled being that young, although never as exuberant. She made him feel increasingly old. Worse than that, the girl made him lonely. She came over and moved his stuff around and cooked and made tea and never asked anything and it was just too much like she belonged there… So when she wasn't there, he missed the noise.

It had taken a long time for him to realize it happened. He'd gotten used to having her around. It was how he pictured being married except without all the fun benefits, the companionship, the company, the love…

And now she wanted to have a talk with him about sex? How had his life gotten so screwed up anyway? He never would've thought a simple welcome visit by his new neighbor four years ago would turn into this… never.

He didn't want her going out and having sex with men. He didn't like that she had tossed a condom onto his tabletop so casually and claimed ignorance. While he generally believed Misao, he also knew she was a schemer and had no problems with her conscience and little white lies. If she was a virgin or not, he couldn't be sure, but he wouldn't turn her away.

"Um… this is harder than I thought… this…" she motioned toward the condom. "Is it… how likely is it to, you know…come off?"

Aoshi glanced down at the offending object. Inside the clear case, the condom was visible with its bright red color. It reminded him of lips and he looked up at her face. Her mouth wasn't red, it was a light color pink… soft… coral almost… it fit her. He didn't ever want to see her paint her mouth. Not red.

"As long as it fits properly, it should be fine."

She nodded and he decided to watch her. Could he gleam something of her truthfulness by watching? She appeared to be readying herself for another question. "Do you have to measure him? For fit?"

Older than her by a good number of years, he considered himself fairly experienced. He'd never measured himself, not for that purpose. Did men measure themselves for condoms? He'd damn sure never asked anyone.

"Make him buy the condom and if he refuses then no sex."

There, practical solution to a practical problem. He watched her bite her lip. What was she thinking? Who did she have in mind for this anyway? Some fumbling kid from her college, no doubt. If she came to his doorsteps pregnant one day… he pushed the thought away not wanting to explore the topic or deal with the angry flush of heat that filled his chest.

"What if you get drunk and wake up next to someone? What happens then?"

His head whirled. Why was she considering all this? Did she go out and party that way? He knew many people her age did, but he'd always thought of Misao as… well, he hadn't thought of it at all. She had always been here, moving around his place, it had all felt kind of domesticated. Had he really gotten used to her to that degree?

"Then you don't drink," he answered.

She lifted her eyes. "You don't drink?"

"I never drink."

He found it amusing that she was now staring at his tabletop morosely as he so often did. Whilst she thought, he glanced over her. She hadn't changed all that much since the first time he'd met her. Still young, delicate looking… Her skin had a soft glow to it, would she turn away if he reached his fingers toward it? Would she let him touch her or did she just come here because she just liked to rile him? He knew he was something of a pastime for her, he'd never minded it… but recently…

He wasn't without sex… much, he thought. He'd had a woman over, he thought back, several months ago. Had it been so long? It didn't feel like it, perhaps he meditated too much. It wasn't lack of sex that made him think about Misao, she made him think about her.

Setting down his teacup, impulsively, he reached for her hand. Drawing her slender arm further over the table he pressed it down so her palm was up. Slowly, he drew his fingers over it, dancing over her fingertips, her palm, her wrist and back down across her sensitive palm. Her body trembled in response.

"When it's wrong, you'll know," he promised. "The person you're with will help you and if you don't trust them for that, it's the wrong person."

"Yeah but…" she fumbled. Her face was flushed, she looked nervous. Did he fluster her to that degree? How cute. Maybe there was more to her coming over than he thought.

"What if its… unromantic and ruins the mood? What if he refuses? What if I hate how it feels? What if I'm allergic to it? Oh my gosh, I can never have sex!"

She snapped her hand from beneath his and covered her face. If she was acting or not, he could not tell.

"You're worrying over nothing." He withdrew his hand and wrapped it again around his teacup. It was warm and pleasant and comforting. His tea cup wasn't going to confuse him. "It doesn't have to be unromantic. If he refuses, no sex. You shouldn't be focused on what the condom feels like and you're not allergic to latex."

She drew her fingers away. "How do you know I'm not allergic to latex?"

"Because you were wearing latex gloves when you decided you needed to clean my house and scrubbed my bathroom," he answered sedately.

Her being on the floor hadn't really struck him at the time. It had just been Misao being Misao and barging in and doing whatever she wanted but now… now when he thought back to her on her hands and knees on his bathroom floor… it was an entirely different world.

"Oh. I don't really remember that and anyway its not important. What's important here is that I'm suffering, Aoshi! I'll die a spinster!"

"A spinster?" his mouth quirked just slightly. "Where did you hear that word?"

She crossed her arms looking offended. Her blush had faded. "I know some big words. Anyway, I saw it in a book. I read too, you know."

"What kind of book?" he murmured as he reached for the teapot to refill his cup. Noting hers was full, he filled his own cup and replaced the pot on the tabletop.

"Just a book, who cares what kind! I borrowed it from one of my classmates to help me learn English. It was about this girl in England who was going to be a spinster if she didn't get married."

"A romance novel?" It sounded innocent enough to his ears, so why was the question making her face light so brightly?

She sat there for a long moment, her mouth so straight it looked tight and then she sort of exploded in the way only she seemed to do. "Yes, fine a romance novel. Full of cheesy lines and sex, happy now?"

"Did you like it?"

Her eyes darted around the room as if she were seeking an escape. "Well I didn't hate it. What's it got to do with anything?"

He gave her another shrug. Why should she be the only one who got to have any fun? If he'd known she was so prone to blushing earlier… no, he probably wouldn't have teased her before now, he thought.

"Do you want the kind of sex you found in that book?"

The teacup was part of a set that was suddenly minus when hers slipped from her fingers and shattered on his table. The tea ran over the wood and spilled over the edge into her lap. Staring, he wondered how much of her skin was now wet before he stood and retreated into the kitchen for a towel.

Her wild antics had fallen on temporarily deaf ears. When he returned she was on her feet rubbing her palms across the front of her wet shorts. The spill had come dangerously close to the apex of her thighs.

He handed her the towel wordlessly and then realized he needed another for the table. Absently, he went to retrieve it listening to her voice but having no comprehension of the words. It was sort of a buzzing sound he recognized as belonging to Misao in his ears.

"I'm so sorry, Aoshi! I didn't mean to break your cup. I'll replace it. I'm sorry … I just… I wasn't… I don't mean to break stuff every time I come over and… Argh!"

She seemed unduly disturbed over a little tea cup. Was she frustrated over something more? He sat back down at his table, draping the towel over the spill and the remnants of the cup. The tea soaked into the dark material and he was glad he hadn't bought lighter towels. Later he would need to wash the area more thoroughly.

"I'm going to scream!" she stomped one foot angrily and turned her fiery gaze down to his. "If I told you I was never coming over here again, what would you say?"

"I'd ask you why."

"Well what if I did something totally stupid and embarrassing and grossed you out?"


How was he supposed to answer her odd questions?

"Oh, screw it."

He looked up just before she crashed into him. Her mouth met his jaw in a bony collision. The pressure of her breast against his chest and the weight of her against him teased him into letting his body fall back against the floor with her atop him.

She felt good.

"NO! Why doesn't anything work out right?" she hissed, trying to scrambled off of him, but his arms snaked around her tiny waist and he held her against him tight, pressing one hand to the back of her head to hold her still. She ceased struggling. If the throb against his jaw was any indication he'd probably hurt her mouth, maybe her teeth too, though certainly not hard enough to do any damage.

"Misao…" he soothed softly. No doubt she was embarrassed. He could feel the flush of her skin against his. It was hot.

Pressed against his torso the way she was he wanted to rub her all over him. There was so little of her and so much of him and he wanted her… wanted her… flat out wanted her… would it be corny to offer to teach her how to use that condom properly? What if she had some special beau in mind? What if that man she wanted was him?

Unable to contain himself with desire pooling in the pit of his belly, he threaded his fingers into her hair above her braid and pulled gently and she lifted her head to meet his eyes.

"Did you really come over here to ask me questions about sex?" It seemed so utterly wrong to speak in a tone that would travel any fruther the short span between their lips. He'd talk into her if he could.

"No," she breathed. "I came over for the same reason I always come over."

"… which is?"

"That you live here. That I can't make myself stop coming… and since I've already embarrassed myself to death anyway… I come here because I like to tease you, and becauseI like to mess with all your stuff. I like to walk around your house and just touch stuff just because its yours. I like to ask you questions that make you shrug just so I can watch your perfect shoulders move under that unbelievable silk so that I can imagine you naked in soft silk sheets…because that's not as much fun just to think about it without having you there to actually look at."

He throbbed beneath her. Stuck, he was stuck, frozen there on the spot. Frozen because he was afraid to move, too worried the violent surge of desire in him would cause him to hurt her if he rolled her underneath him and took her right there on the floor.

"Misao," he groaned thickly. "I don't have silk sheets."

Struggling, he sat up with her in his lap and again she tried to escape him. Pressing a hand to her back, he pushed her against him and he lowered his mouth to her neck, laving her hungrily. His fingers sought the hem of her cotton t-shirt and he yanked it off of her with little finesse.

Holding her against him, he stood and retreated to the far side of the room, toward the doors that led to his room. Pushing them open, he stepped inside, cradling her body against his, the pink lace of her bra scratching against his shirt.

He slid the door closed behind him and deposited her on the futon he'd so carelessly left out that morning. Suddenly, he was very glad that thoughts of Misao had disrupted his sleep and caused him to deviate from his normal routine.

She spilled onto his white sheets looking innocent and sexy and he fell on her, his mouth seeking hers voraciously. Her arms looped around his neck as they devoured each other. When she moaned and pressed her body up against his chest, he broke away from her gasping for breath. Wordlessly, he stood and left her, slipping from the bedroom.

"A-Aoshi?" she called hesitantly.

Two rooms over, he didn't hear her as he scooped up the plastic key ring and returned to his bedroom to find she had stood up and was now looking very anxious.

"What are-"

He held up the keychain for a brief moment and then dropped it to the floor by the futon. The plastic casing cracked. She stared at it a moment and then looked back at him.

His eyes burned for her.

"Back on the floor, Misao."

He was so hard his brain felt scattered. Slowly, she curled down onto her knees on his futon and he followed her, pressing her shoulders, lowering her onto the bedding with a soft "thud".

Her moans echoed in his ears. The scent of her filled him. She never noticed when he reached for the plastic ring, didn't notice it when he filled her with it on him. She was without questions when he slipped it off afterwards and deposited it into the trashcan. He so completely answered all her questions she was silent for a long time afterwards.

AN: And here I thought the condom thing wouldn't work out. Version 1 was titled, "Learning Curve" but was discarded and this was born.