Study Time Exam Time Running Time
All characters contained within this piece of writing belong to Ken Akamatsu, and this piece is written purely for personal enjoyment. No gains financial or otherwise have been made through the publishing of this fanfic.
Author's Personal Note:
Had to go back to Florida to help my mom sell her condo down there. This meant in additional to lots of papers to sign, that we had to put all the furniture into storage. When do we arrive in Florida? Just as hurricane Isaac is passing off the coast of course! Wrapped up the stuff to move and for the rest of the week it rained and rained whenever we could get a truck to do the moving.
Then after cleaning up the condo, we find out the new owners plan the gut the entire interior and we never needed to hurry the way that we did.
Author's Story Note:
Travel by cargo boat can be a very good way to travel. If they are going where you want the fares can be very cheap, you usually get your own cabin and the food is basic but good. The only problem is there is little in way of entertainment on-board, bring plenty of books to read or be prepare to play chess or poker against crew-members who have been doing this for years.
Keitaro studies hard, then he takes the big test exams. Can you say, Opps?
February 20-23, 2000:
The following few days leading up to the exams were actually very peaceful for everyone at the Hinata-Sou. All at the dorm tried their best to help the three ronins get ready so that they could make it through the coming exams.
Naru for example finally allowed Keitaro come up to study with both her and Mutsumi. And to her own relief she found that studying had become a lot easier since Keitaro didn't seem to ask so many questions since his breakthrough, more importantly he did not ask the same ones over and over - he really seemed to be learning!
Mitsune was still drinking, but now, unlike before where she would have been seen guzzling down sake, bottle after bottle - she now spent time sipping different kinds of wine and taking notes. She even started talking not only about writing some books, one for the Japanese on western wines and liquors and another on Japanese alcoholic drinks for the western market. But she planned on going on some trips around Japan to check out and update herself on the drinking preferences of her fellow imbibers first.
Motoko also continued her studies, she still did not understand what she felt towards Keitaro, but almost not a day went by that she did not have some event happen to confirm that males in general were not to be trusted. As for her training of her pupil Naru, Motoko realizing the importance of the coming exams and did not try to push her. Instead she concentrated on teaching relaxation techniques that she was sure would work to help Naru handle the pressure of the tests.
Shinobu continued her cooking and making snacks for the three ronins, but she too noticed changes when she took snacks up to the studies in Naru's room, Keitaro seemed to be hit by Naru both less often and not as hard for example. Now when Naru thought Keitaro was making a pass at Shinobu she would wait to see if Keitaro could explain away a comment that she took the wrong way before hitting him. Unfortunately for Keitaro not all his actions/explanations came across as innocent as he or Naru would like them to be, thus Keitaro still soared through the air at times. However, what both were missing were Shinobu's internal thoughts on those same comments from Keitaro. A statement from Keitaro about Shinobu like 'how sweet she looked' got a reaction from Naru that no explanation from Keitaro could ever be of use to protect himself. But Shinobu's reaction was a shiver down her spine and the knowledge that Keitaro was aware of her. At times it took all her will power not to run to her room in embarrassment or into his arms for the feeling of safety she was sure existed there.
Su and Sarah were on 'the outside, looking in' as far as relationships with Keitaro were concerned. Su of course didn't let this bother her as she was sure her next set of inventions would solve all problems. Sarah on the other hand just could not let it go.
"Why is everyone treating him so nice?", she questioned herself repeatedly.
Thursday - February 24, 2000. The day before the tests:
Today was mock-exam day. The three ronins spend all morning and the afternoon writing a full set of mock exams covering a wide range of subjects just like they would have to do for the real tests to come tomorrow. Examining the results later that evening suggested all were ready to pass the needed tests.
Mindful that they would need to be in top form tomorrow, all three of the ronins when to bed early,
Friday - February 25, 2000. First day of testing:
That morning Keitaro struggled with the tests. English was a major weak point even when the questions were in multiple choice forms. Finally, he clued in on the question he was fighting with. Both answers 1 & 2 meant the same, but the first answer was in the form of a double negative statement (thus of poor sentence structure) so the correct answer must be number 2.
For both that morning and afternoon the rest of the testing continued like this, most answers were easy enough to handle, with a number of tough ones slowing him down to the point he was not sure he would complete each test in time.
Still he made progress, and by the time the room-monitor told them to put away their final test papers he had completed the entire suite of tests for the day with what he believed to be his best performance ever..
Later as the ronins sat around Naru's table the mood was very up-beat, all were sure that they had done very well in answering the work given them.
Saturday - February 26, 2000. Evening of the second day of testing:
Keitaro stared at the test papers in front of him in amazement. He was not surprised at how hard the test questions were, he was surprised about how easy they all looked. The morning tests had been the same type of grind as yesterday's ones, but now only the last tests of the day remained and ...
"I know these questions.", he told himself in wonderment. "I know all the answers.", he gleefully thought.
"Why it will be a snap to get into Tokyo University now, and Naru-san will be there too, and we go everywhere together, and she will make me lunches, and ... and ... and...", he continued the thoughts, now lost in a series of day dreams about all the possibilities that university would open for his future relationship with Naru as his dream girl even to the point of marriage with her.
Pleasant images of home life, fun images of party life, and exciting images of possible night life danced through Keitaro's head. Suddenly, he jerked to awareness that time was passing him by and he had no idea what time it was, he looked at the clock.
"What the ..., where did the time go?", he exclaimed to himself, seeing that how little time was left to complete the entire test in. Furiously he started filling out the sheets of paper, not even thinking about what he was writing, just hoping to get something right. Sweat broke out as the minutes ticked by to the deadline. As the papers flew by, Keitaro could feel a sickness in his stomach. He did not have time to double check the answers, not even the easy ones but he just knew he could not be getting enough of them right to get the type of scores needed to get into Tokyo U, still he had to try. There was no way he could ever face Shinobu, much less Naru if he did not even try.
"Time is up, please lay down any writing instruments.", the room-monitor announced loudly and clearly just as Keitaro filled in his last answer to the questions.
Staring at the papers in front of him, Keitaro admitted defeat once again. Another year where his goal to meeting his 'dream girl' at Tokyo U was a failure. Worse, Naru who was in every way that mattered to be his 'dream girl' would be entering the university this year and if he was not there she may not wait for him.
Slowly Keitaro left the testing room, and began the long walk home to the Hinata-Sou - walking because he wanted to delay the final conflict as long as possible.
Naru and Mutsumi arrived to a household getting ready to party; decorations and food preparations were already being made. Shinobu had started the cooking of a true feast in the kitchen. Then Mitsune entered the kitchen holding up only a few bottles.
"Did you find the sake? It is a needed ingredient if this recipe is going to work.", Shinobu asked while stirring the contents of a pot.
"There's no sake.", Mitsune announced to everyone, "I has not been buying any since my new job sends me free booze. I have been so busy on my new books that I never realize I was completely out.", she apologized.
A quick search of Mitsune's room by the other girls just in-case she missed something somehow only turned up a few bottles of wine from her last shipment.
"This is no good, we need more to drink. I guess this means we need to go out and get some.", Naru said after the futile booze hunt.
"Well, you are not going without me to make sure you get the good stuff.", Mitsune stated.
"I need to go out too. I need to find out where to find something for Kei-kun.", Mutsumi followed-up as she clapped her hands. Leaving Naru to wonder what she was talking about this time.
"Well, I need some more ingredients for cooking. So I guess I will need to go out too.", Shinobu pointed out.
"And I need to pick up some parts for my latest invention.", Su piped up.
"I guess I better come along as a guard just in-case,", Motoko offered, "as all of you will have your hands too full to fight off any perverted males you might encounter.
"Well, don't expect me to stay in the house alone with that dork. I'm coming too.", Sarah declared.
So a simple note was left in their stead as all the girls went shopping.
"I am so dead.", said Keitaro aloud thinking of Naru's reaction to him failing this test. "And it has been so nice that she has done nothing worse than a rap on the head when I have asked questions for the last week.", he regretted as he climbed the stairs.
Surprised to just find a note and no girls, Keitaro tried to think how best to greet the girls when they arrived back in such a manner that they would not hurt him too much. It did not take much thinking for him to come to a decision as to what actions he needed to do.
Taking the coward's solution he quickly packed a travel bag, left a note not to look for him, and made a run for it.
As the girls arrived back to Hinata-Sou they were surprised to see Keitaro had beaten them back to the dorm. Even more surprising was the fact that he had run away again.
"That baka must have messed up his tests again.", Naru theorized correctly, "Wait till I get my hands on him.", she also angrily promised.
"We need a search party to find him.", Motoko planned. "Shinobu, Su and Sarah can stay here, and the rest of us can fan out, find him and drag him back, and where is Mutsumi-san anyway? Oh well, she probably could not bring him back by herself, she can just stay here when she gets back.", she added.
Despite their protests the younger girls were told firmly that they could not take part in the hunt for the wayward ronin.
As he walked along the beach Keitaro tried his best to forget the girls, it was time to try and create a new life for himself he decided.
In the bay, ships from around the world sailed pass him. Reading which names that he could make out, such as 'Panama Queen', 'Holland America', 'Sun of India' reminded Keitaro that there was a whole world out there to get lost in.
"None of them could find me, if I ran far enough.", he hoped.
After thinking about it for just a few seconds, Keitaro headed for the main docks.
As the girls rode the train to downtown, they quickly discussed who would search where. Naru was surprised to notice the same older man was sitting across from her whom had watched when Keitaro had stolen a kiss from her. He was keeping a wary eye on her, in-fact he seemed a little scared of her.
Just on the off-chance he could be of help she asked him if he had seen Keitaro lately, quickly explaining he was the person with her last Monday.
"Ah yes, Valentine's day. Trust me I remember you two.", the older man replied. "I was just wondering if you two ever made up afterwards. I mean I was just kidding about him stealing kisses. Punching him like that seemed a little extreme considering it was the train jerking that caused him to fall onto you.", the older man added.
"Jerk, what jerk? I don't remember any such thing.", Naru responded, confused by his statement.
"Kiss you? He tried? He attacked you?", Motoko had half drawn her sword before realizing how badly she was reacting, not to mention Keitaro was not even present to punish.
"Way to go stud!", Kitsune exclaimed happily. Mutsumi clapped her hands in delight at thought of Kei-kun getting a kiss.
Naru quieted down the other girls then turned back to the man who now seemed to be trying to watch both Naru and Motoko at the same time.
"What are you talking about? I don't remember the train jerking at all!", she demanded/stated.
"I am not surprised,", the man replied, "The dazed look on your face while you were leaning against him, it would be a wonder if you had noticed if a bomb went off in the next car.", he pointed out. "But yes, the train jerked, almost knocked me out of my seat and tossed that young man who was about to kiss your hand practically on top of you. That's why I thought was a shame you hit him so hard. It wasn't really his fault.", the older man related.
Naru sat numbly through his explanation, clearly once again it was more her fault than Keitaro's that the date had been ruined, and she had hit Keitaro for something he never did on purpose.
Motoko also was looking inside herself. She had known that Keitaro and Naru had kissed in the past. So why the fast and violent reaction to hearing he kissed her again, even if she had not asked to be kiss - Motoko could see that there was something wrong with herself to account for the speed of her actions and feelings. She had to exercise more control of her own actions.
Both Motoko and Naru silently came to the same decision, not aware the other had done the same. No matter how bad it looked when they found Keitaro, he would be given a chance to explain himself about why he ran away.
"Stupid, stupid, stupid. How could I forget I would need a passport?", Keitaro had started castrating himself after finding no ticket offices, then he finally realized that you just could not walk up to any old ship and buy an international cruise. And even if they did have ticket booths at the ship; he did not have a passport since his goal for going to Tokyo U did not required him to leave the country for the next couple of years.
However, boats doing local travel to other Japanese islands were selling tickets right at their boarding ramps. Giving it some thought he could see no reason why a nice trip to one of the more southern Japanese islands would not do the job of escaping the girls' (especially Naru's) wrath. And if necessary he could always then apply for a passport and then try to find a ship to take him further if he did not feel hidden enough.
Asking around at a few of the ships got him quickly pointed toward the cargo docks as there were no passenger ships to the southern isles presently available, but lots of the cargo boats did not mind carrying an extra passenger or two, as long as they paid their way.
"This is even better.", Keitaro thought to himself, "They will never think to look for me on a cargo ship, I hope.", and he hurried on his way.
Dodging forklifts and keeping an eye upwards for any cargo nets being lowered, Keitaro moved from boat to boat, asking about passage to the southern islands. Most boats that were taking passengers were not going as far south as he was interested in going, but he still took note of which boat was going where in-case that was the best he could get.
"Look out below!", the warning came in the nick of time as Keitaro had let his attention wander yet again. Jumping back he watched as what appear to be crates of melons landed in front of him.
A familiar joyful voice, "Kei-kun!", Mutsumi cried out as she hugged him from behind.
"Ara, did you come to check for my melons too?", she said while not making the connection between her actions, words and Keitaro grabbing his nose.
"Your melons?", Keitaro asked in confusion after reluctantly freeing himself from her warm embrace. Still he was happy to find no blood leaking.
"Watermelons from the local shrine back home, it is important that I find at least one seller of them. But no-one seems to sell them, I have been looking for quite some time to get even just one.", Mutsumi explained with a sly but very sad expression on her face.
From her conversation it was clear to Keitaro that she did not realize he was planning to run away. A moment's reflection and he decided he better tell her the truth.
"Sorry, no, I was not looking for any watermelons.", he explained while using a massive amount of will power to focus just on her face. This really was not that hard. It was a very beautiful face, on top of a very attractive shapely body, with such fine ample breasts. Again, Keitaro forced his eyes upwards.
"But I did not do so well with my tests, and now I am thinking of going on a trip to avoid Naru-san and Motoko-san, well mostly Naru-san.", he admitted.
"Oh ... I wanted a date with you too! That is why I was looking for shrine melons.", Mutsumi said with a look on her face that was warranted to break the heart of any young male looking at her. "Will you be gone long?", she asked with disappointment in her voice.
"I don't know how long. I am sorry, I didn't realize you felt that way Mutsumi-san.", he replied. He sweated under the pressure of her displayed feelings, while wondering what watermelons had to do with going on a date.
Well, you have gone on dates with all the other girls, I thought you would go out with me next.", Mutsumi said softly, almost only talking to herself.
Keitaro's will broke. He rarely could resist the wiles of the girls of Hinata-Sou. And sometimes their actions back-fired, giving him cause to resist them just a little. But he had no will-power to resist Mutsumi who had never taken advantage of him.
"Okay! Let's go back to the Hinata. I don't know what I will say when I get there, but it does not seem fair to not include you after all we have been through as a group. I hope Naru-san understands.", Keitaro offered, wondering how he would survive her wrath.
"You two must really care for each other the way you are always fighting.", Mutsumi observed, startling Keitaro who never before had considered Naru violent actions as any sign that she cared for him.
Mutsumi took Keitaro's hand as they walk away from the docks and back towards the Hinata-Sou. Keitaro did not even notice as he was lost in the thought that even if Naru hit him when he returned that it might mean more than just her being angry with him.
Looking back to the docks, Mutsumi muttered to herself, "Ara, I wish I found who sold shrine melons. Still I can always look for them later.".
Naru paced back and forth in the main lobby of the dorm. Everyone had returned without a single clue as to where Keitaro had gone. Nor had Mutsumi shown up either, "Just you wait, just you wait. When I get my hands on him, then he will be so sorry.", she prophesied.
"Shouldn't we at-least wait to see what he has to say before acting?", Motoko pointed out, still trying to understand her sister's teachings, her own feelings and wanting to see Naru to learn to control her own feelings as-well.
"After-all you have said you wanted to listen to him more and hit less.", she also pointed out.
Naru stopped her pacing and nodded her head as she thought about the older man's relating how she got kissed by Keitaro. She touched her lips also at the thought how different it might have been if she had not been caught by surprise.
"Yes, I will listen. But it better be good or else.", Naru stated firmly.
Opening the front door to the dorm Keitaro let Mutsumi enter first. In turn after he entered Keitaro came to a stand-still when he saw all the girls arranged in the main hall, waiting for him. Bowing deep to all the residents he resigned himself to the punishment that was to come.
"I am sorry, I failed.", he pleaded, surprised that no-one had hit him already.
"Please wait for me till next year?", he ended with a pleading/questioning note to his voice.
"What happened? Why do you think you failed?", surprisingly the question came from Motoko rather than Naru, and it was asked in a gentle tone of voice.
Keitaro continued to expect the worse as he said, "I guess I was too busy daydreaming about getting in. Before I knew it, I was short on time and had to finish the final tests in a hurry.", all the time he was still holding his bow, waiting for the blows to come.
"Daydreaming about what? I wonder? Keitaro-san, if you blew this for some perverted fantasy ... I'll ... I'll ... I don't what it is I will do, but I will make you sorry!", Naru promised, as she slowly advanced towards him.
"I was daydreaming of the two of us going to Tokyo U together.", Keitaro blurted out, still bowing, still waiting to be hit.
Both now had flushes on their faces for different but related reasons. Naru stepped back a little and opened the hand that had been forming a fist for a light 'Naru Punch'.
"What?", was the only word Naru could say.
"I said, I was looking forward to the time we would be in university together. And I guess I got carried away with the daydream. By the time I realize how little time was left to finish the tests I just scrambled to finish them all.", Keitaro expanded his explanation.
Motoko felt like her heart give a little lurch, Shinobu also. Still Motoko persisted on.
"You are saying that you finished all the tests?", Motoko questioned further.
Keitaro painfully answered, "Yes, but I did them so fast, and had no time to double check any of my work. It can't be good.", he had to admit.
Motoko was now looking at Naru as she said, "Then there is a chance, a small one in truth, but still a chance.". Motoko could see the hope blaze up in Naru's eyes.
Naru approached Keitaro, and for once she noticed how he cringed in anticipation of her punching him. She placed both hands on his shoulders, and straighten him up. "Let's wait for the results to be posted first.", she said warmly.
The look of wonder on his face made her happy that she had not hit him, but just this one time.
Sitting on the roof with Motoko while Shinobu finished the final steps in her cooking, Naru reflected on the day's events.
"Do you really think there is a chance he made it?", Naru asked Motoko.
"Stranger things seem to happened at Hinata-Sou. He did complete all the tests after all, and you have seen it yourself, he does have great test scores. I think it is worth waiting to find out.", Motoko replied.
Both girls continued sitting in silence as each weighting the options of what to do if Keitaro made it in or not.
Naru found she really want Keitaro to make it, it would not be the same without him there. She started to wonder if she should delay entering university if he did not.
Motoko realized that she was rooting for him to make it too, and not just to humour Naru. She realized he was a major motivator of Shinobu and herself for that matter, if he could make it then so could they. "What does my future really hold?", she wondered to herself.
A call from Kitsune made it known that the party was going to start, and that Su was already heading to the food.
Both girls looked at each other, smiled and head down-stairs to where the fun was.
Later that night Keitaro laid in bed, surprised at how the girls had treated him, even making little jokes as they drank about what type of daydreams he really had. But he was sure that once the scores were posted things would go down-hill from there.
"At-least I have another month with everyone before them see how truly I messed up the tests.", he thought with regret of his limited time.