Author's note: Okay, I know some people were expecting naughtiness in this chapter, but the thing is…I thought about it and realized that while I do want to include a lemon scene in this story— and not just for the sake of a lemon scene in general, either— it just didn't feel right about doing one for this chapter.

I read the chapter a few times and I guess I realized it just didn't make sense for them to do it right then. They're not there yet. They're still kinda too confused about each other, and so I changed my mind. It didn't feel like something that could've really happened at that point. It was too out of character for Nabiki, and well, I think poor Tatewaki is still kinda wary around her. I don't know, I just couldn't make it work in a plausible way.

So the bottom line is that there WILL be naughtiness— just not now, because I have to prioritize the believability of the story.

Sorry. At least the chapter is a little longer this time, though.

I can reveal that I have in fact written most of the lemon scene already, though, so it will be published eventually. I'll be publishing it on Adultfanfiction dot net or something instead of here, however. Here I'll just put the censored version.

Thanks for your reviews, everybody.

Now…on with the story!

By Ninnik Nishukan
Chapter Five: Boy From School
The Kuno house was pretty impressive, Nabiki had to admit. Granted, there were a lot less…well, big, expensive things lying around than she'd thought there would be, but the house was huge, and while she was no art dealer, it was obvious even to her that a lot of the stuff on the walls and some of the furniture were valuable antiques.

He took her into the living room— though in a house like this, it was probably called something fancy like the parlour or the drawing room— where he'd left his wallet.

"One has to wonder…" Tatewaki said as he watched her neatly fold and put away the thousand yen bill in her wallet.

"What?" Nabiki asked idly, looking up.

He tilted his head at her. "What do you actually do with all that money?"

"College fund," she answered instantly, shrugging.

Tatewaki raised an eyebrow as he gave a sound like a cross between a scoff and a squelched laugh. "Should have known."

"And some of it I lend to daddy." She went on.

Tatewaki gaped at that. "Lend? He is your father! Should you not simply give him the money?" Sure, he didn't have the best relationship with his father, but there were things like family honour and duty, weren't there?

"Why?" She asked casually, easily meeting his affronted gaze. "He's the parent, and I'm only eighteen. It's his job to give me money. After all, I'll have to do the same for my own kids later on, so it all evens out eventually."

He only stared at her, unconvinced.

She shrugged again. "At least I keep the interest rates low, since he's family."

Kuno gave her a doubtful look. "Truly?"

Nabiki grinned fleetingly. "Okay, sometimes they're low. For birthdays and stuff."

He shook his head slowly as he studied her expression and found a total lack of remorse. "You astound me."

"I'll take that as a compliment, Kuno-chan." She said saucily, tossing her hair.

"If I know you right, Tendo Nabiki, you will trick some rich idiot into marrying you and will never have to provide for your children yourself." He retorted peevishly.

Nabiki fluttered her eyelashes in a sarcastic manner, pretending to fan herself with her hand. "Why, Kuno Tatewaki! I'm flattered, but we're both much too young to get married!"

He glared at her and opened his mouth to reply, but she beat him to it. "You insult me, I insult you, Kuno-chan. You didn't honestly think I'd be satisfied with just being some useless little charity-going trophy wife, did you? Why do you think I even applied to business school? I intend to make my own money, and I hope you realize that."

"You will have to excuse my scepticism, Nabiki." He said flatly. "So far I have only seen you trick other people out of theirs."

She shrugged. "I'm young now. I was a full time student who needed to make a little money on the side so I could go to college. Not everybody's born rich, you see. And as for 'tricking' people out of money, well…I didn't exactly put a gun to your head about buying those pictures, did I?"

He flushed, ashamed of his past foolishness and provoked by her unrepentant attitude. "What about blackmail? Betting pools?"

She only smirked. "Can't blame a girl for trying to make a little cash."

Kuno couldn't help himself; his lips twitched just a little as he fought down a smile. The girl was incorrigible. "I believe I owe you a cup of tea."

Nabiki lifted an eyebrow in slight surprise, but didn't object. "I believe you do."

"You've got a very nice garden, Kuno-chan." Nabiki remarked politely when they'd made themselves comfortable out on the patio with tea and some wagashi.

"I'm glad you think so." Tatewaki replied, looking pleased. "It is not as picturesque as the orchard at our summer home, but it has its own charms."

"The alligator pond seems a little over the top, though." She added dryly, an undercurrent of baffled laughter in her voice.

He closed his eyes in brief irritation. He'd opted for a normal koi pond, but his twisted sister's tastes were a little more eccentric than that. "My sister. She likes alligators, and especially her Midorigame."

"Unusual pet," Nabiki commented, carefully trying to keep her voice neutral. He must've picked up on something in her voice, though, judging by what he said next.

"Do not worry, Tendo Nabiki." He told her chivalrously. "Midorigame will not hurt you."

She smirked slightly. "If he tries, I'll have the Blue Thunder here to protect me, right?"

He frowned deeply at that and took a long sip of his tea to cover it up. Nabiki shifted in her seat; maybe she shouldn't have said that. Usually she was all in favour of throwing her conversation partners off balance, but this was not one of those times. "Where's the bathroom?" She asked quickly. "I need to powder my nose," she added sweetly, trying to lighten the mood by being sarcastically demure.

It didn't even get a tiny smile from him, let alone a chuckle. Okay, so it was a lame joke, but it hadn't really meant to be that funny, either, she just wanted to—

"Back through the drawing room and to the left," he told her, and she almost, almost gave a nervous giggle when he did indeed call the living room the drawing room, just like she'd thought, but held it in as she walked back into the house. Hopefully that would give him a chance to collect himself a little.

Tatewaki sighed heavily once Nabiki was out of earshot. Truthfully, he was grateful that she'd left, even for only a couple of minutes, because, he realized as he sagged in his chair, he was more high strung than he'd thought. It felt like his head was buzzing like a hornet's nest, and his breath was a little laboured. He still couldn't figure her out. She was here, at his house for the first time, and they were alone— and she had to know they were alone, right? — and she'd come to him out of her own free will, and he no idea why.

Sure, there was the thousand yen, but he didn't believe that for a second. What did she want? And why did she have to look so appealing today, why did her jeans have to hug her body so fetchingly, why did the subtle, tiny gold patterning on her dark blouse have to give such a stark contrast to her mocha-coloured hair and eyes, why did she have to give him those direct looks and why did she have to be almost civil towards him and why was she trying to make him laugh and why—

And why was he even noticing these things?

When the cell phone in her handbag rang— he even knew what her ring tone was, for crying out loud, he'd heard it enough times when she was called up at school or whenever she connived him into buying her lunch over 'business dealings'; i.e. selling him stuff he didn't really need— he almost jumped out of his own skin, he'd been so deeply immersed in thought.

At the other end of the garden, Midorigame stirred lazily in his pond and gave a kind of irritated snort at the disturbance, and he didn't want to wake the alligator in case it startled Nabiki, but he didn't dare to go into her private handbag to answer the call, either— there was no way he could plunge his hand into a perilous space of unknown female articles like that— and besides, what was he supposed to say, and he didn't even know who it could be that was calling, what if—

So he just let it ring, even if Midorigame began to growl softly and tossed his head.

When Nabiki finally returned, she blinked at how he looked as he stared at her handbag as if it was a bomb that might go off at any second.

"What?" She asked curiously.

"Um, your cell phone…" He said, pointing at her handbag.

"Someone called? Who was it?"

He cleared his throat. "I did not answer it. I thought it would be inappropriate."

Nabiki grinned impishly at him when she'd checked the call display. "It was my father who called, so yeah, it probably would've been inappropriate."

A serious and slightly worried look suddenly crept across his face. "Your father does not know you are here?"

Shrugging, she pressed redial. "How could he? I didn't even know I was planning to come here today." That wasn't entirely true, but she had indeed been in two minds about coming to the Kuno Mansion or not when she'd stopped at the library, and her inability to make the decision had interfered with her research. Deep down, though, she'd already known she'd end up there before the day was over.

Gaping a little, he was about to ask her about that when she held up a hand, silencing him. "Hi, daddy." She greeted the phone. "Yes, it's me, Nabiki. No, I haven't been kidnapped, that's Akane's job." She sent Kuno-chan a smirk when she saw his puzzled expression. "No, I was joking, daddy, Akane hasn't been kidnapped," Nabiki said, sighing. "What I'm doing?" Kuno had to admire the way she paused only the barest portion of a second before answering. "I was at the library, doing some research for a little project of mine. Yes, I'll be home for dinner. What're we having?"

When she'd said goodbye to her father and clicked the phone shut, she caught Tatewaki sending her a sceptical look.


He raised an eyebrow. "Doing research at the library?"

Nabiki shrugged carelessly. "I said I was. As in earlier, before I came here. So technically, I didn't lie."

Kuno-chan actually gave a short, soft chuckle at that, shaking his head at her, and suddenly everything felt so much lighter, so much easier, but more complicated at the same time, because she was noticing things like the fact that his eyes lit up and that one of his cheeks dimpled when he smiled.

She smiled wryly back at him.

As they were finishing up the tea and sweets, Tatewaki realized that the flow of conversation had died suddenly, and that fact made him become a little nervous. Nabiki, however, looked as unfazed as ever where she sat and sipped the remains of her tea as she gazed across the garden. Her back was straight and poised, but her body language wasn't tense at all, and she looked like she fitted right in with her surroundings. Even in jeans she looked like some kind of empress.

It was all in the body language and her facial expressions, he decided.

The lapse in the almost friendly banter caused him to slip into his own thoughts, which after a minute or so inevitably went to his most humiliating moment again as he looked at the alligator pond and was reminded of a certain chaotic visit to his house once upon a time and then…Saotome Ranma, and how he'd revealed his secret to him sometime before last Christmas.

He pinched the bridge of his nose as if he was getting a headache, his eye twitching slightly as he tried to repress the memory; afraid that she'd noticed, he glanced quickly over at Nabiki, but she seemed as calm as she'd been a moment before, looking not at him but at the stone lanterns in the corner of his garden, or maybe at the large tree overhanging them.

Sighing inaudibly with relief, he sat up straighter and picked up his tea cup to empty it in a quick, refreshing swig. The trouble with thinking about how blind he'd been to the truth about Ranma and Akane was that once the thought floated up to the surface of his consciousness, it was almost impossible to get rid of. Tatewaki swallowed as he struggled to forget; the thing that might help him do that would be to pick up the conversation again, but unfortunately he had no idea what to say to Nabiki, and she wasn't saying anything, either, so he could only sit there, alone in his head with his tortured memories.

Even after everything Saotome had said, Tatewaki had held onto some tiny grain of denial because the truth was too humiliating to accept, but when he'd seen the look Nabiki had sent him out in the school yard after lunch and when he'd noticed his peers snickering behind his back the next day, he had no choice but to accept the reality of it all.

He heard the small chink of her tea cup settling on her saucer, then, and when he reluctantly turned his head to look at her, she was looking back.

"Something wrong?" Nabiki asked finally, and even if he wasn't exactly keen to address the subject, he was just relieved that she had said anything at all.

Swallowing again, he wet his dry lips nervously before he spoke. "Why didn't you tell me about Saotome?"

Nabiki's eyes widened; that had come completely from left field. What he felt and thought about the whole 'pigtailed girl' thing was one of the things she'd come here to talk to him about, but she'd never expected him to take it up himself. "Maybe I wanted you to find out for yourself." She began quietly.

That vague answer seemed to annoy him to no end. "Right, of course…sure!" He snapped sarcastically.

She sighed irritably. "I tried dropping hints, but you never got them."

"Don't give me that!" He exclaimed angrily, clearly offended that she was still not letting him have the dignity of telling him the truth.

Nabiki rolled her eyes, then, looking away. "Okay, you know what? I wanted to make money off of it. How's that?"

He leaned across the table, his eyes narrowing. "That I will believe!"

"I have to say that I really didn't think it would get that out of hand." She began somewhat apologetically, but it was still obvious to him that she wasn't really all that sorry about it all. "I assumed you'd figure it out for yourself sooner or later, but in the meantime I wanted to cash in on the fact that you didn't—"

"You…you…!" He spluttered, almost choking on his own rage as he stood up from his chair, too angry to sit still.

Nabiki set her jaw, hardening her voice as she stood up as well, to better meet his gaze. She hadn't done nothing wrong, she knew that, but most of what had happened between Ranma and Akane and Tatewaki himself had been his own fault, and he needed to deal with that. "I'm not going to lie to you, Kuno-chan; you've been an idiot." She began in an even voice, completely ignoring the way he snapped for air in offence. "I admit that Ranma's behaviour must've been a little confusing at times, since he had a tendency to pretend that he liked you or pretend to go on a date with you if there was something he needed, but my sister never fooled you like that, she never claimed to like you, so I can't understand how you managed to keep up your pursuit of her. How did you justify that to yourself? What kind of lies did you tell yourself?"

"You sound like you're just jealous of your sister!" He snapped irrationally, desperately attempting to defend himself. This was too much! What was she trying to do? Rip out his dignity and stomp it into the gravel path of his garden?

"Oh, please!" Nabiki narrowed her eyes dangerously; she was this close to actually reaching out and just slapping the stupidity out of him. She was finally taking the time to explain the truth to him and that was what he got out of it? Was he even listening? "You're delusional, you're vain, you're arrogant, you're presumptuous, you have an ego the size of Hokkaido and worst of all you're oblivious to all these facts!" She informed him coldly.

"Why the hell are you even here, then?" He barked, furious over how deeply her words were actually able to hurt him. It wasn't fair! Her opinion should mean nothing to him!

"Because not every girl hates you," She said reproachfully before leaning forward, standing on the tips of her toes to put her lips against his. Okay, so she really hadn't counted on being in this kind of situation today, but she had to do something to make the stubborn moron understand, right?

As she'd expected, he froze up completely, and she wondered fleetingly if she was his first kiss. Kuno-chan had always been very eager when it came to physical contact with girls, but there were no rumours of him actually managing to steal a kiss.

Slowly he began to respond, his mouth relenting and his lips turning appealingly soft beneath hers, but she broke the kiss off then and just looked at him solemnly, studying his wide, almost frightened eyes and his slack mouth.

"I like to bother you because when you talk to me, you act less like that." She told him, without even the slightest hint of sarcasm. He'd never heard her sound more sincere, in fact. "You seem saner when you talk to me."

He sputtered in outrage at her sudden declaration. Why did she even kiss him at all if she was just going to keep on criticizing him? Had it just been to shut him up or something? And who the hell did she think she was, saying things like that? "Oh, I see, so you think your own magnificent presence makes me a better person, is that it? And you accuse me of having a large ego? Talk about being high and mighty! What do you think you're—"

Again, she kissed him, muffling his voice with her lips. When she broke it off, he looked furious.

"Stop that!" He yelled at her, teeth gritting. What was wrong with her? How could she do this to him? How could she steal his lips for not just his very first but even his second kiss when she didn't even mean it? He'd known that she was devious and cynical, but now the hurt and disappointment washed over him without mercy when he realized the true extent of those personality traits. If she'd been a boy, he would have kicked her bodily out of his house. She wasn't fit to walk the halls of the Kuno estate!

Nabiki felt as if she'd just been slapped; by the look he suddenly got on his face, it was obvious that he'd noticed it too, noticed her cringe just a little. Of all the possible things he could've responded with, screaming at her to stop it was not a scenario she had foreseen.

"Why are you doing this?" He asked, looking uncomfortable and just the slightest bit less angry. Why was she looking like that all of a sudden? She wasn't supposed to look wounded! Why wasn't she grinning that evil grin of hers? Was she just acting now or was it real? The uncertainty of it all was making him more and more agitated; why did things always have to be so complicated with her? "Don't think you're going to shut me up forever by doing that!"

"You know," She began quietly, scowling at him. "Considering how you think that practically every woman in the world is falling at your feet, it's odd that you can't wrap your little mind around the possibility of me simply liking you." Wasn't that ironic? She was probably the only girl in existence— except for that weirdo cheerleader Mariko, and he'd never reciprocated those feelings— who actually did have any feelings for him, yet she was the only girl in the world that he wasn't prepared to believe could like him?

Tatewaki pursed his lips, insulted. That was supposed to be sarcasm, wasn't it? How could she tell him she didn't like him in such a coldly sarcastic manner? Just how poisonous did she allow herself to get? "Why do you hate me?" He demanded, reaching out to shake her a little by her arms, his hurt and anger boiling over. She was evil!

"Idiot!" Nabiki yelled, slapping his hands away. "What the hell is wrong with you? It's just in one ear and out the other with you, isn't it?"

"Why do you torture me so, evil temptress?" He went on, and something seemed to click into place in her mind. He was starting to sound like The Blue Thunder again, and she was starting to understand what brought The Blue Thunder out.

It seemed as if every time he was faced with something his mind just couldn't process either because it confused him too much emotionally or because his self esteem was in danger, he constructed all sorts of fancy lies to shield himself with.

Except that it was very silly to blame it on some sort of 'Blue Thunder'; something outside of him. It was all just Kuno-chan. It was really all just him.

She'd suspected something like that— everybody had tendencies to do things like that, it was called self-preservation; he just did it to a larger extent— but to see it happening right in front of her eyes because of something she had done, that was just—

She needed to put a stop to it.

"Tatewaki," She began sternly, grabbing his shoulder and pulling him towards her, forcing him to look her in the eye. "I don't hate you, okay? I don't." It felt really weird to be trying to subdue someone who was more than a head taller than her and whose shoulders felt like they were almost twice as broad as her own, but as she saw the uncertainty growing in his eyes, she knew she had to do something.

She needed to tell him something straight and true, something that wasn't teasing and simply couldn't be misinterpreted, not even by him.

"Please try to listen," Nabiki heard the pleading note entering her voice, but chose to ignore it. "I like you and I'm not trying to torture you."

He looked so perplexed at what she was telling him that she had to wonder if anyone had ever told him that they liked him before. Or maybe his ego had been more bruised by Ranma and Akane than he'd let on.

Letting out a strained little puff of breath, he searched her face intently, looking for traces of dishonesty. "You…you're not?"

"Kuno-chan…" She sighed wearily as she looked into his eyes, her hands resting on his shoulders, and then she suddenly found herself with an armful of boy as he launched himself forward, attaching his lips to hers.

Startled as she'd been, it took her a while to adjust, but soon she opened her mouth to him and relaxed, a simple act that improved the kiss so much that a moan rolled in her throat. When Tatewaki heard this, it seemed to impassion him even more; he clutched her to him more possessively, his tongue attempting to enter her mouth, and she balked a little at this, drawing back to stare at him.

Okay, okay, she tried to reason with herself, maybe this wasn't such a very smart thing to do. A normal eighteen year old boy was already very, very easily aroused; boys that age barely had to kiss a girl to get a little horny, it seemed. And this was, in addition to that, Kuno Tatewaki. He would probably be practically unstoppable once she'd started showing any physical interest in him.

That old fear was slipping back into her heart; did she really know him? What would happen if she gave into this? Would he be weird around her from now on? Would his old-fashioned soul make him demand of her that they had to get married? Would he turn obsessed with her?

In his eyes she could see the intensity she'd seen whenever he was caught up in one of his feverish fantasies about her sister or the pig-tailed girl, but to her surprise it seemed to burn with a heat that simply hadn't been there before; she figured it had to be because he was coming to understand now just how big a difference there was between fantasy and reality.

Oh, gods, he's so tense, she thought when she gripped his arms to keep him at a distance, uncertainty rising within her like the sea when she felt his body humming with barely suppressed, energetic lust. What had she gotten herself into?

And he seemed almost angry when he came at her to kiss her again, probably frustrated over her mixed signals, and what with his superior physical strength, he easily broke through the barrier she'd been trying to create between him and her with her arms. If he'd wrenched her arms away she could've been offended, but he'd simply pushed his body gently, but quite insistently against her until her arms seemed to give away out of their volition, flowing to her sides as he captured her lips with his own, pressing and sucking and pulling at her lips until she decided to open her mouth to make it less uncomfortable.

He wasn't forcing her; she wouldn't call his behaviour violent at all, and she was responding to him slowly but surely, but it also felt as if he simply wouldn't let up, either, wouldn't give her the chance to change her mind about this, and it felt somewhat frightening to her even as it felt sort of…exciting.

Good gods, but she was so good at riling him up, Tatewaki thought feverishly as he clutched her to himself, once more trying to gently probe her mouth with his tongue to gain access there. She was usually so talented at making him lose his composure with just a well-timed infuriatingly smug smirk or a flip of her hair or a sarcastic remark, but now that she was even using her lips and her body to torture him, he'd gone over the edge. He knew he was probably overwhelming her a little, but what did she expect when she said those things and did those things, and fuck, she smelled great and she felt even better—

Tatewaki couldn't help himself. How could he? And she was a big girl, wasn't she? She knew what she was doing, he thought as he felt a pang of triumph at the situation he now found himself in, drinking her in; for years she'd been the thorn in his side and look at her now! He should've known, shouldn't he? He should've known there was something going on— though even he had to admit that whatever it was that was going on now, it hadn't always been there, it had turned up later, it had built up slowly sometime during their last year of Furinkan or maybe— he hesitated for a fraction of a second as he suddenly wondered when and why and how this had all happened, but then she let out a small groan and her fingers curled tightly into his shirt and he threw himself into the exchange with even greater fervour, letting his hands start to wander, his nostrils flaring and his breath hitching in his throat, his head feeling hot as his body started responding fully to her closeness…

He just went on and on, unrelenting and intense, kissing her hotly and wetly as he pawed enthusiastically at her body, running his large, warm hands across her back, down her bare arms, and even straying briefly down to her bottom, which made a sharp, hot tingle shoot through her. Moaning, she let her tongue come out to play with his and pressed herself closer against him, grabbing his narrow hips and—

—and was that what she thought it was? And what was it doing poking into her stomach?

Reality came crashing down hard as she noticed that he was in fact now busy sliding down the zipper in the back of her blouse. Nabiki decided she'd been passive long enough. With great effort, she managed to push him a feet or two away from her, sending him staggering.

They both panted heavily as they regarded each other, him dazed and her irritated. "What do you think you're doing, Tatewaki?" She asked sharply, her voice oddly strained.

He was gaping now, like a fish on land, and despite herself, she felt just the tiniest bit sorry for him; had she known he had this little self control, she wouldn't have kissed him.

But you did know, didn't you?

As she watched him with stern silence, she could see the subtle changes in him as he went from disoriented, to hurt, to angry and then to simply trying to regain his dignity, which wasn't easy when you were just a teenage boy with dishevelled hair and clothing and a raging erection.

"You did this on purpose, didn't you?" He asked, face burning as he glared at his tormentor. "You're going to use this to blackmail me somehow, aren't you?"

That hurts, you bastard, Nabiki thought, getting angry. "What, I forced you with my big, manly muscles to try and jump my bones?" She said humourlessly, crossing her arms over her chest, irritated over the fact that her zipper was halfway undone; it was really hard to look threatening when your blouse was whining 'help, help, I can't hold on anymore!'

"You, you kissed me!"

"I really don't recall giving you a green light to start undressing me." She shot back bluntly.

"But…but you weren't objecting," He said, trying to appeal to her. "So I just thought…" He felt even more confused than before; she'd insisted that she didn't hate him and that she even liked him, yet she'd cut off their kissing several times even if she'd been the one to initiate it. What was that supposed to mean? Okay, so maybe he'd been a little hasty, but even if she did not wish to be fondled by him— which he was fine with; he certainly didn't want an unwilling partner— couldn't she please just hurry up and tell him what she did want?

"Well, guess what? I'm objecting now."

"I see." He said dully, deflating a little as he nodded, accepting his fate.

There was a beat.

"That's it?" Nabiki heard herself ask incredulously. "You're not gonna make a big deal out of it?"

Tatewaki frowned at her, unsure as to what she meant. "What am I supposed to say? It is a woman's right to call it off if she so wishes."

"Wow." Nabiki mumbled flatly, staring at him.

He stared back, then, something changing in his eyes; he snapped for air, looking provoked. "Tendo Nabiki," He said slowly, his voice hard. "You are not suggesting that I would try to force you?"

Feeling oddly ashamed, Nabiki cleared her throat; she didn't actually think he'd do it, but a small part of her mind had still been just the tiniest bit fearful of the possibility of him getting carried away. "Kuno-chan, I really don't think you're quite aware of just how insistent you were being back there—"

"Still!" He exclaimed, reddening; he was aware that he'd lost control a bit, but he hadn't intended to go much further than taking her blouse off without asking her permission first, to be sure of her consent. "Still, that you would think that I could sink so low as to take you by force is unforgivable! How can you say that?"

Nabiki realized, then, that scared blind by the fact that this was Kuno Tatewaki, The Blue Thunder she was dealing with, she'd lost completely track of the fact that right now, he was also just an inexperienced, young man— they'd had their high school graduation ceremony only yesterday, for goodness sake— who was growing more and more confused about her very mixed signals. And he was starting to seem very, very hurt.

"I wasn't saying that." Nabiki's voice was uncharacteristically small when she spoke.

"That may be, but it is quite clear to me that you were thinking it." Kuno said, and he sounded quite tired, suddenly. "Please take your leave, Nabiki." He said before he walked away.

After a minute or two of silent contemplation, she zipped up her blouse again with some effort and followed after him.

She realized a little something about him when she saw his room.

Kuno Tatewaki was in fact what some people might call a geek. Granted, he was much more physically attractive than the average, stereotypical idea of what a geek might look like, which was probably part of why he didn't have the low self-esteem they were supposed to have, but he was still, in essence, a geek.

He was sort of socially inept, especially when it came to girls, he didn't have many friends, and even though it was ancient tomes of poetry and classic drama stories with him instead of manga or computer games like with some of the boys at Furinkan, he was still what you might call an obsessed fan. Judging by how worn his copies of these books were, he'd read them a lot of times. He must have, considering how easily he could quote them. If he'd been quoting Klingon instead of ancient, Japanese literature, which held a certain amount of respect, people would realize just how geeky he was.

How he'd had time to memorize all this stuff besides school work and his very busy position as the captain of the kendo club was beyond her, but it might have a little something to do with his lack of social life.

Suddenly she thought of something she hadn't thought of since the start of second year, during that literature project they'd had; Don Quixote, staying up at all sorts of odd hours and reading stories about chivalrous knights until his brain practically shrivelled and he began to slowly lose his sanity to such a degree that he believed all the stories to be true…

Nabiki shivered slightly, feeling just a little sorry for him, despite his large ego and his boastful ways. He had to be quite lonely, didn't he?

Tatewaki, sitting at his desk, noticed her entering his room, but he didn't know what to say to her and didn't trust his own voice right then, so she simply decided to ignore her until she went away, his back facing her so he wouldn't have to look at her. His face hot with shame and anger, he picked up a book, hoping it would soon distract him, knowing that it wouldn't.

Nabiki regarded the taut line of his back and his slightly trembling shoulders, took in the messy hair and his mussed up shirt, and she could suddenly see just how young he really was. It was hard to remember sometimes, what with the way he spoke and the way he acted. As she looked at the vulnerable skin of his neck and saw all the school books on the shelf over his desk, saw the diary lying there, she drew a soft breath, feeling awful.

He was trying to forget his problems with a book again, but it was plain to see for her that it wasn't working. Not this time.

He was only eighteen, and not only because she knew the goings-on of Furinkan students well, she knew that like herself, he was still a virgin. She bit her lip as she tried to imagine what she would've felt like if this happened to her when she tried to get to second base with somebody for the very first time. It didn't sound like it would have a very happy aftermath.

After a minute or two of enduring her silent scrutiny, Tatewaki threw his book down in frustration, whirling around to face her. "Why are you still here?" When she said nothing, just stood there, looking a little forlorn, he grimaced with exasperation. "Is this what you wanted? Is this how you wanted to remember me? Are you happy now?"

"No," she said firmly as she crossed the floor, stopping merely inches from him. "No, that wasn't the plan at all," She admitted before she reached up and took his face between her hands, pulling him down as she stood up on her toes, meeting him halfway for the kiss.

It was slow this time, and she got the chance to concentrate on the taste and feel of him; he was warm, soft and wet and tasted like the tea and sweets they'd had, and just a little salty.

"Nabiki…" He murmured hesitantly as she let go of him; he slumped down into his chair again, simply staring up at her as he was afraid to make a move this time and because he was still unsure of her motives for doing this. He decided the first thing he should do was to clear up a certain misunderstanding. "About before…" He began hesitantly. "I'm sorry…I wasn't trying to…uh…I mean, I wasn't thinking of doing…I just wanted to…."

She gave a quick, wry grin as something dawned on her. "You just wanted to cop a feel, huh?"

He stared at her for a moment, his cheeks slowly turning redder, before he nodded. "You…you could put it like that, yes…"

Nabiki slid her hand up his arm and squeezed his shoulder in a friendly way. "I'm sorry, too. I have to admit I didn't really think too well about how you'd respond before I just went ahead and kissed you." She looked down at him with a slightly guilty expression.

Tatewaki blinked in astonishment. She'd never told him 'sorry' before without applying sarcasm to the word.

"I would like to see you again, Kuno-chan," She told him, placing a hand on his chest.

He clasped her hands in his, suddenly full of hopeful enthusiasm. "You would?"

She nodded. "I don't really see any reason to cut off all contact just because school is over, do you?"

Tatewaki shook his head slowly. What in the world had been the reason to never see each other again, anyway…? Oh, right…that was it. "I don't think I would be bothered if you decided to keep…bothering me, no." He agreed. "I think I would like that very much, in fact."

Nabiki grinned flirtatiously. "Bet you would."

"I bet you would bet on that." He retorted immediately, even as he blushed slightly at her comment.

"I bet I'd win." She said softly, still grinning.

He chuckled briefly. "I think we should stop betting."

She pouted. "But it's so much fun."

He frowned. "Not for those who lose."

"Well, no. That kinda goes without saying." Nabiki scoffed mirthfully.

"And it's never you," Tatewaki added quietly.

She simply gave a small smile and shrugged at that, and he sighed, nodding resignedly. That would have to be good enough for now.


Author's note: A thing I've noticed that's kind of funny about chapter two is that in it, Nabiki leans her chin on her elbow. You try doing that sometime. It's quite a party trick if you can do it. I meant of course that she leaned her chin in her hand, her elbow resting on the table. Sigh.

Boy From School is a song by Hot Chip.

Wagashi: Wagashiis a general term for traditional Japanese confectionery, especially the types made of mochi, red bean paste, and fruits that are served in the Japanese tea ceremony. Wagashi is typically made from all natural, plant based ingredients (source: Wikipedia).

What does Nabiki spend her money on? College fund. That's my solution. Why not?

As for the whole thing with Nabiki being a cold-hearted bitch who never shows any feelings— a commonly used fanfic cliché— I totally disagree with that.
She does care about people, and she's not evil or cold, but she is selfish, cunning, manipulative and greedy when it comes to money, and I hope that to a certain degree, I've managed to work that into the story.

Next up is Chapter Six: Walking Sideways.