"And to choose between you two, boy you know if I have to choose, I choose me…" Tamia; Between Friends

Class Dismissed: Teach Her, Teacher!

One week after storming out of Kari's apartment, Davis and Ken sat in his living room playing the latest edition of Donkey Madness. Kari hasn't tried to contact him since he found out about her engagement, and even if she had, he wouldn't have wanted to talk to her. Several thoughts ran through his mind, thus preventing him from focusing on the video game before him.

He wondered if Kari was giving him space to get used to the knowledge that she's now engaged, or if she really did choose her boyfriend over him.

"Correction, fiancé…" the entrepreneur muttered.

"Davis, did you say something?" Ken asked his best friend while dodging one of Davis' attacks. "You seem distracted. I'm creaming you in this game… not that you ever stood a chance of beating me, anyway."

Tossing his controller to the floor, Davis folded his arms and rolled his eyes. "Oh shut up!"

Setting his controller on the coffee table, Ken stood and turned off the television and game system. Sitting next to his best friend again, he asked, "Why won't you just talk to her?"

Reclining against the cushions, Davis closed his eyes and huffed, "What for? I'm not the one who needs to say anything. Obviously she has a lot that she needs to work out, so I'm assuming she's working it out."

Sucking his teeth, Ken shook his head and replied, "You really are hopeless, you know that? What if she's too afraid to say anything to you about her… situation?"

"I like how you dressed up the word 'engagement'," the restaurateur sarcastically told his friend. "And damn it, she should be afraid to speak to me! I stood by that girl this entire time, and time and again she plays me for a fucking fool! Hell, if I were in her shoes, I'd be scared of me, too!"

Before Ken could reply, Catherine entered the living room carrying a thin stack of papers in her hands. "Monsieur Motomiya…" She leaned over in front of him, boring her crystal blue eyes into his brown orbs.

Davis met her gaze head-on, never even bothering to look down at his maid's cleavage pouring out of the black, strapless spandex dress she wore. "What Catherine?" he sourly spoke.

"Hmm… Davis you must be really heartbroken if you won't even at Catherine's breasts." Ken joked. Facing the blonde woman he told her, "and they are lovely as usual, Catherine."

"Merci, Monsieur Ichijouji. At least someone here appreciates a woman's natural beauty." She winked at him, and Ken grinned sexily in response.

Resting his elbow on the arm of the sofa, Davis closed his eyes and gritted his teeth. "What… do… you… want… Catherine?" The words slipped past his scowl as he tried to hold on to the last ropes of his self-control. Inside he felt his irritation bubbling past the boiling point, and he knew if his friends were to say one more thing regarding his situation, as-Ken-simply-stated, with Kari, he would erupt.

"I'm here to make you feel better, Daisuke." Smiling sweetly while refusing to let Davis' mood faze her, the blonde wedged between the two best friends and handed the papers to her employer. Before Davis could ask, "What's this?" Catherine continued.

"This is the contract for your new restaurant in Los Angeles, California. The contractors want you to fly there in two weeks to oversee the project. They just faxed the documents a few moments ago. I spoke to them on the phone and they want you to comb through the contract with a fine tooth to make sure everything's in order. And…" she handed him two more sheets of paper. "Here are the blueprints for the new restaurant."

Opening one eye to peer at his maid, Davis asked, "And how long will I be staying?"

"Well as I stated, the contractors want you to oversee the entire building process. So I'm assuming you'll be in the States for several months until its completion."

"I see." Exhaling heavily, the entrepreneur stared at the blank television in front of him and quietly spoke, "Two weeks from today, huh?"

"Um… well…" Catherine blinked and cleared her throat, carefully choosing her next words. "You don't have to go if you don't want to. It's understandable given your current… circumstance. I'm sure Monsieur Ichijouji would be delighted to be a substitute for you instead."

Ken nodded on cue without speaking.

"However," the blonde continued, placing a comforting hand on her employer's knee. "This would be really good for you. It'll allow you to be engrossed in your work. You get to travel, and clear your head of everything that's happened to you."

Davis knew what Catherine meant… clear his mind of Kari. But would a few months in the States free his heart from the woman he loves?

He looked down at the contract and blueprints in his hands and sighed heavily. He needed to get out of Japan, away from Kari. Nodding slowly, he told his maid, "Make the phone call to let them know I'll be in L.A. in two weeks."

For the first time in a week, looking at the approving faces of his friends caused Davis to smile.

. . . . .

"I apologize, Jun. But this is something I have to do. I always wanted to do this since I was a young girl, and now I have a chance to follow my dream…"

Kari sat in front of Jun's desk in her office as she handed her manger her two weeks' notice. "It's been great working here, but I was given the opportunity to travel Japan as a freelance photographer. It's a once in a lifetime shot…"

Holding up her hand to halt Kari in mid-sentence, Jun smiled and told her, "Say no more, Hikari. I understand completely. You're young and the world's your oyster. You have to do what you feel is right for you. No one else can tell you otherwise. You say you want to be a photographer, be a photographer. Nevertheless, I am sad to see you go. You were my favorite employee here. I'm going to miss you."

"Oh, Jun," Kari wiped the tears that threatened to spill from her caramel eyes and stood to give her former manager a hug.

Jun also rose from her seat behind the desk to meet the young woman halfway in their embrace.

"Thank you for giving me the opportunity to work here. I greatly appreciate it." Kari released her hold on the older woman and sat down again.

"When do you leave? And how does your family feel about you touring the country?" Jun also sat down.

Moistening her parched lips, Kari swallowed a lump of sadness before speaking. "I leave for Sendai in three weeks. My parents have been extremely supportive. They feel it's an incredible opportunity for me. My bother Tai," the brunette rolled her eyes and grinned. "He thinks I should remain here in Odaiba and finish school."

Folding her hands in her lap, Jun nodded in understanding. "I see. Will you ever finish school?"

"Someday." Kari replied. "Unfortunately, I can't do freelance and attend school at the same time, so I have to drop out. But I'm going to go back to get my degree eventually." Kari meant it, too. She agreed to become a freelance photographer for a famous landscape magazine and she couldn't say no. The staff agreed to pay for her travel expenses and hotel expenses, and she would be paid to do something she loved. There was no way she would pass this chance up!

Refusing to beat around the bush any longer, Jun asked, "How does my brother feel about this?"

Suddenly taking an interest in the paperclip holder on Jun's desk, Kari answered, "I-I haven't told him… Davis and I… we haven't spoken in a week…"

Narrowing her eyes for better focus, Jun spotted the telltale ring on the brunette's left hand. "I see…"

Following Jun's gaze, Kari blushed and covered her left hand with her right one. "I um… I… haven't had the chance to talk to him, yet…"

"Mmm, hmm." Nodding, Jun stood and outstretched her hand, letting the situation go. Whatever's going on between my brother and Kari, I'm sure they'll work it out. It's none of my business. "I wish you nothing but the best, Kari."

Kari followed suit and gripped Jun's hand with her own. "Thank you again, Jun."

. . . . .

Later that afternoon, Kari silently watched as her fiancé TK practiced free-throws in the gym by himself. She stood at the entranceway out of his vision so he wouldn't see her.

"I have to be confident," she told herself. "I can do this. I need to do this." Slowly she entered the gym and approached the school's basketball star. Thankfully she wore sneakers and not her usual sandals, so she was able to approach him without disturbing his game.

"TK," she gently called out to him. TK didn't respond as he continued to throw the ball at the net. Clearing her throat, Kari spoke a little louder. "TK!"

The blond tossed the ball towards the net. There it hit the rim and bounced right off it and headed back in the direction from which it came. Unfortunately, TK turned his head in the voice of his fiancée, facing away from the ball, and the ball bounced from his head and landed on the floor.

"Ohmigosh! TK!" Kari rushed to his aid as TK grabbed his throbbing head. "Are you alright? I didn't mean to startle you."

"I'm fine Kari," TK assured her. "I'm just a little embarrassed you had to see that." He gave her his famous boyish grin, and in return Kari smiled as well.

"Well, I'm glad you're alright. Come here. We need to talk." She grabbed his hand and led him to the bleachers. They both sat down and the brunette exhaled slowly to gather enough courage to tell her fiancé the news about her new job.

Instantly TK's ears perked up and worry flashed across his handsome features. "Everything's okay, isn't Kari?"

"Yes, TK, everything's fine." Kari's dazzling smile warmed the basketball player's heart, and he smiled in return. "Well… it is, but it isn't…"

"Okay…" TK slowly drawled out. Leaning back against the bleaches, he rested his elbows on the seat behind him and said, "Lay it on me."

Giving him a cute nod, Kari told him, "I… I accepted a job as a freelance photographer…"

"Kari that's great!" TK sat up straight and grabbed her hands and enclosed them in his. "I'm happy for you! This is what you wanted."

"It's… it's great, TK, and I'm glad you think so…" The brunette slipped her hands from his and looked down at her lap. "But… you have to let me finish…"

Noticing the smile disappear from her lips, TK swallowed and nodded. "Okay, Kari. Go ahead."

"Thank you, TK." Looking up at him again, she continued. "I'm touring Japan and I leave for Sendai in three weeks. I… I'll be gone for a year and I have to drop out of school…"

"Oh…" TK's blue eyes followed the movement of Kari's hands as her fingers toyed with the engagement ring he gave her a week ago. "So… where does this leave us?"

Kari's caramel eyes stared off in the distance of the basketball TK was previously using and quietly replied, "I don't know. If you don't want me to go…"

"No… I'll never make you choose between your dream and… us…" The words slipped from TK's lips and he too, followed Kari's line of vision and stared at the basketball.

Together they sat in silence, each person tending to the thoughts rushing through their minds.

Is this the right time to tell her? TK wondered how Kari would take the news he had to share with her. Would she be mad at me? I'll probably put more of a strain on our relationship

"We're both so young…"

TK's ear's perked up at his fiancée's whispered words. He listened intently while Kari continued.

"We have our whole lives ahead of us… I-I'm not sure if I'm ready for this kind of commitment…"

TK bit his lips, watching Kari slowly remove the ring from her finger. She let the jewelry dangle from her finger as she held it up towards the light. She smiled tenderly at the gentle sparkle the small diamond emitted.

Kari felt her throat closed as tears welled up in her eyes. She didn't allow them fall, blinking back the moisture from her eyes.

The basketball star outstretched his palm, allowing Kari to place the ring inside it. "There's no way I can be committed to my career and to you, TK. It wouldn't be fair to either of us. I'm so sorry…"

Closing his fingers around the ring, TK's blue gaze settled on the sneakers on his feet. He couldn't look his former fiancée in the eyes. Deep down he knew everything Kari was telling him was true, but his heart had difficulty dealing with it.

Licking his lips, he spoke. "There… there were NBA scouts from the States at the championship game… I-I wanted to tell you that night when I gave you this."

"Oh, TK…" Kari allowed the tears she held back to delicately fall down her cheeks. "I…"

"Shh…" Looking up, TK pressed his finger to her lips to quiet her. "Now it's your turn to listen." Weakly he smiled and continued. "They… they wanted to recruit me, but I turned down the offer."

"Why…?" The brunette's voice croaked, so she cleared it to speak. "Why would you pass up such a wonderful opportunity?"

"Heh," the blond chuckled, but there was no humor in his voice. "Truthfully, the NBA isn't going anywhere. It's always going to be there. I wanted to stay here and finish school, earn my degree, and then see what career opportunities lay ahead. I guess you can say I'm kinda old fashioned," he added jokingly. I wanted to be here with you, Kari. TK didn't have the heart to tell her that, figuring it would only add to the intense pressure and grueling pain she was feeling.

Giggling softly, the young woman repeated, "Oh, TK."

"If the NBA wants me after I graduate, they can have me. If they don't then I'll just have to find something in my career field. I love basketball, but it isn't my life, y'know?"

"TK, I admire you so much." Kari spoke. "Most people would kill to be in your shoes, but you made your decision and you're sticking with it. That's very admirable."

Swallowing thickly, the blond nodded. "You admire me, Kari… you just don't love me."

"I…" Choking back more sobs, Kari also swallowed hard and admitted, "No TK, I don't. I cannot lie to you. You're such a good man, and I'm such a horrible person…"

"Kari, you're not a horrible person." TK reassured her.

"Then why do I feel like I'm letting you down? And why does it hurt so much?" This time Kari covered her face in her palms and allowed her cries to be heard. "Why do I feel so terrible?"

Gathering the woman he loves in his arms, TK whispered in her ear. "You're not letting me down, Kari. You're only doing what's best for you, what's best for the both of us." Releasing her, TK pulled Kari's hands away from her face and wiped her tears from her cheeks with his hands. "Actually, if you would've continued on in a relationship with me with all of this on your shoulders, down the line, it would've been damaging to us both. Now was the perfect time to be honest, Kari. And I thank you for that."

"Oh TK, you're too good to me, and I feel like I don't deserve it."

"Kari, you're a good person, and you deserve nothing but the best." The basketball player admitted honestly. Don't ever talk down yourself again, you hear?"

Smiling softly, the brunette nodded. "Yes TK, I hear you. Thank you, for being a good friend."

"I'm going to miss you, Kari."

"I'm going to miss you, too TK."

Together they shared one final, tender kiss before departing their separate ways.

. . . . .

The following week Kari sat in Ken's office as she handed him her written notice to break her lease. "I can no longer stay here, Mr. Ichijouji. I'm touring Japan in two weeks as a freelance photographer."

"I understand, Miss Yagami." Ken accepted her letter along with the check for the rent for next month. Frowning down at it, he told her, "I can't accept this."

"It's alright." Kari smiled. "It's because I didn't give you the notice sooner."

"Are you kidding me? Davis would have my head if I accepted money from you in your time of need. So here, take it back." Ken handed Kari her check. "You need it anyway."

Blushing profusely, Kari accepted her check and thanked the proprietor. She exited his office smiling as she looked forward to what the future would bring her.

. . . . .

Davis entered his bedroom to find Catherine sitting on the edge of his bed with a small duffle bag next to her. He noticed the manila folder in her hands and wondered what it was. Walking towards her, Davis could see his maid's eyes were downcast and her lips were pressed in a thin line.

"What's wrong, Catherine?" The restaurateur sat next to her. Catherine never replied. She only handed him the folder in response.

Opening it, the brunet barely scanned over the words in the document that was presented. "What's this?"

"Daisuke, I'm… I'm also leaving. I'm leaving for Italy to be a model. I was chosen at a casting call last month, and I accepted."

Handing the folder back to her, Davis asked, "When do you leave?"

"The same day you leave, Monsieur. I-It's been great working for you, but sometimes, we have to do what's best for us."

Catherine's admission left Davis confused. "Then why do you look so sad? Shouldn't you be happy about this?"

"Because, it's not like you fall in love every day, Daisuke." Catherine's blue eyes still remained downcast, but her voice was even as she continued to speak. "I love you, but I know you love someone else. It would be foolish for me to continue working for you, hoping that someday you would see me as more than your personal plaything. But I also support you in everything you do, and I like Hikari. She's good for you, Daisuke. Too bad you just don't see it… or you refuse to see it."

Davis merely nodded, not knowing how to respond.

"She's changed you, too. You're a much better person whenever you're with her. You're no longer cold, hard."

The entrepreneur rose from the bed and looked down at his now former employee. Scrubbing his face with his hand, he flatly asked her, "Why are you telling me all of this now? If you wanna go, just go! I'm not stopping you!"

Catherine also rose from the bed and stood in front of Davis. Caressing his face, she simply told him, "Because I wanted you to know how I feel before my departure. And I don't think it's fair to leave without the truth being revealed. If nothing else, you owe it to Hikari to tell her how you truly feel about her before you leave for America. Just like I owed it to you to tell you how I feel before leaving for Italy."

Finally understanding where Catherine was going with this, Davis replied, "But what if Kari–"

"Shh… no 'buts'. No 'what ifs'. Just do it while you still have the chance. Don't wait until it's too late, Daisuke." The blonde smoothed her thumb over his lips, before giving him one last, passionate kiss that left them both breathless.

Picking up her duffle bag, she faced him and waved. "Au revoir, Monsieur Motomiya. I'll see you at the airport next week."

Davis heard his front door close and he sighed heavily. Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he looked down at his carpet and said, "Goodbye, Catherine."

. . . . .

That evening Kari paced outside Davis' front door, deciding whether she should knock or go back to her apartment. "I'm here. I'm here. I'm here." Kari repeated out loud. "I can do this. I can do this. I can do this."

Before she lost her nerve to give into the temptation to run back to her apartment, Kari knocked on Davis' door and waited nervously for him to open it. When he did her heart stilled, and her breath escaped her lungs.

There stood the man she loved causally leaning against the threshold, matching his gaze with her own. His maroon shirt was un-tucked from his beige pants, and a few of the top buttons were undone. His unruly hair was messier than usual, his feet were bare, and she inhaled his enticing cologne, allowing the musky scent to invade her lungs.

"Can… can I come in? I have something I need to tell you."

Davis watched as Kari nervously tugged at her shirt, and cutely chew on her lower lip. Opening the door wider her for, he stepped back and said, "Sure. Come in."

The brunette entered his apartment and removed her shoes at the door. She sat on his sofa, while Davis closed the door and leaned against it. "What brings you here?"

Kari held up her bare left hand, showing Davis that she no longer wore TK's ring. "My heart wouldn't allow me to commit to someone I don't love."

"Holy shit!" In three strides Davis was kneeled before Kari, holding her hand in his. He massaged her fingers while his dark eyes examined her hand. Confusion darkened his gaze, and he looked at her and asked, "W-When…?"

Gulping nervously, Kari answered, "Last week. I told TK that I didn't love him, and I couldn't accept his ring."

"B-But… why…?" Inside Davis was elated that Kari was no longer engaged to BS, but before he could tell Kari about his feelings, he had to hear the words from her. He had to know that he was no longer second best in her world.

"Well, in two more weeks I'm leaving Odaiba to tour around the country as a freelance photographer."

Davis' face darkened, and his features became stoic. "Oh, I see." He began to yank his hand from her grasp, but Kari held on. "No Davis. I need to finish. At least grant me that much."

Sucking his teeth, the entrepreneur looked up at her and nodded. "Alright, Kari. I'll listen."

"I'll be gone for a year, and then I'm returning to Odaiba to finish school. After that, I hope to start a blossoming career in photography. This freelance opportunity will give me the experience I need to achieve that."

Smoothing her tongue over her dry lips, Kari closed her eyes and breathed gently to calm her rattling nerves. Opening her eyes, her caramel gaze met Davis' chocolate irises. Patiently he waited for her to continue.

"But, what good is it to have a budding career and a college degree without sharing your joy with the one you love?"

Taken back from her words, Davis shakily asked, "K-Kari… a-are you s-saying…"

"Davis you taught me so much." A loving smile curled Kari's lips and tears filled her eyes. "You taught me everything I needed to know to become a woman…" A pink blush dusted her cheeks as memories filled her mind of all the times they shared together. "You taught me to be confident, you taught me to go after what I wanted, and never to be ashamed of anything I do. But most importantly, you taught me how to love. And that's a lesson I'll never forget. I love you, Davis."

"Oh, Kari!" Davis sat on the sofa and pulled Kari's face to his in a searing kiss. Kari wrapped her arms around Davis' neck and fisted her hands in his thick, maroon locks. Releasing her, he said, "Do you know how long I waited to hear you say that?"

"It's been too long, and I should've told you sooner." The brunette pulled at the sleeves of his shirt and looked away. "It wasn't right for me to string you along at my convenience."

"Well, shit…" Davis chuckled and scratched the back of his head. "I believe neither of us were thinking about the consequences when we entered that deal. But none of that matters now. You're here with me."

"But I'm leaving, Davis. You're willing to wait for me for a year?" Kari's eyes looked hopeful, but her insides were in knots. She knew it would be wrong to ask Davis to put his life on hold for an entire year for her sake, but she didn't want to risk losing him to another woman, either.

"Kari, I'm leaving for America next week." When Kari gasped, Davis circled his arms around her waist and pressed her back against his chest. "I'll be gone for a few months to oversee the construction of my new restaurant. We both have priors in our lives, but that doesn't mean we have to end what's between us before we even let it have a chance to begin.

"This isn't goodbye. We're just getting our lives together. We're going to see each other again, and when we do, it's going to be like we never left. I love you too, Kari."

Tears of joy streamed down Kari's cheeks and she faced the love of her life, cradling his chin in her face. "And then what, Davis? What happens in a year?" Her eyes widened with a newfound hope as adrenaline course through her veins.

Pulling Kari his close to him, he felt the young woman spread her thighs to straddle his lap. A serious expression covered his features when he smoothed Kari's short hair and looked deep into her eyes. "Then we get married, Kari. I'm serious. I want you to be my wife."

"Missus Hikari Motomiya… it sounds wonderful, Davis! I do, I do want be your wife! And then what? What happens after that?"

"Then we take the world by storm." Davis slowly undressed Kari, kissing every inch of exposed flesh that was once covered by her clothes. "The whole world will know you as Hikari Motomiya, world famous photographer, and my wife."

"Oh, Davis…" Kari closed her eyes and hissed when she felt his teeth, lips, and tongue on her exposed, overly-sensitive nipples. "I must be dreaming. This all sounds too good to be true…" Her fingers hastily removed the buttons from his shirt, but she felt Davis' hands circling her wrists, preventing her from going further.

"Never doubt me, Kari." He looked her in the eyes and told her in an authoritative tone. "Haven't I taught you anything in these last months?"

"I will never doubt you, Davis." The brunette pressed her forehead into his and gave him another kiss. "Although… I might need a refresher course, just so you can remind me."

Growling sexily in her ear, Davis pushed Kari on her back and climbed on top of her. Wiggling his eyebrows playfully at her, he husked, "I'm about to give you a lesson you won't soon forget."

. . . . .

ANs: Well, it's been 3 years since I updated this story, and now it's complete! I do hope you all enjoyed my story as I enjoyed writing it. I'm tempted to write an epilogue, but it may not need one. Meh, we'll see.

Also (I forgot your name. If you're still reading, please remind me so I can credit you!) had it right: the first one to Kari's virginity loses!