A/N: It's been a while, but I'm back in action. I've gotten enough of this story done to start posting after a long absence. Hopefully, I'll have it finished before posting catches up to me. Anyway, I hope you all like it.
Chapter 1) Camping
"Are we there yet?" Misora whined from somewhere in the back of the group.
"We'll be there soon enough." Kaede reassured her from the head of the small column of intrepid (or in some cases not so intrepid) campers. The school year was nearly over and Negi was getting ready to do some serious training in the mountains before heading off to Wales. He had asked Kaede if he could tag along for a weekend, and had intended to invite Ku Fei.
Negi sighed as he remembered the entire debacle. The next thing he knew the girls had heard about it and seeing as it sounded too much like a date, the next thing he knew it was going to be a group outing. Negi looked back at the rest of his 'magic class'.
Nodoka and Yue were walking along with a cooler between them behind Konoka and Asuna, all of whom had back packs carrying various things they would need for their weekend training session.
Setsuna followed after the four, keeping a watchful eye on her beloved Ojou-sama. Ku Fei was with her and had probably the smallest pack of the lot of them, Negi included. She had apparently come here before to train with Kaede and apparently didn't feel the need to pack half her wardrobe.
Misora brought up the rear, and didn't look overly thrilled to be in attendance, but Konoka and Yue had convinced her to come and train more in magic. Occasionally, she would be joined by Kotaro who would suddenly appear next to her to remind everyone that he was alive before darting off into the wilderness. Probably off chasing rabbits, Negi thought to himself.
Negi turned back to watching Kaede's back as they hiked towards her training grounds. It was hurting his neck a little keeping his head raised all the time, as unfortunately (?) Kaede's bottom was nearly eye level as they walked up the small incline into the mountains.
It wasn't that Kaede didn't have a pleasant bottom to look at, far from it, it was just Negi thought it would be inappropriate to stare at one of his students. For the past while now, against his greatest efforts, puberty was finally beginning to catch up to the boy. He had begun to… notice… the girls in his class that he hadn't before and it made him uncomfortable when he thought about it for too long.
Asuna at least was thankful that he'd stopped crawling into her bed at night for the past few days, but if she knew the rather embarrassing reason she'd most likely clobber the boy mage and he'd find himself with new roommates.
Negi sighed and lifted his eyes to Kaede's back again for the tenth time since they'd begun hiking. He kept telling himself that his neck was getting tired when he suddenly found himself staring at the ninja's posterior… her soft, shapely, and yet well toned posterior.
"What was that?" Misora said in alarm.
"Where?" Negi said turning his head to see what was the matter.
Unfortunately, (?) Kaede had stopped walking, and since Negi had not he came cheek to cheek with the soft warm pillow that was Kaede's backside. This was actually a first for Negi. Usually he'd ended up face first into one of the girl's breasts (or worse) by now. He looked up at the smiling girl only long enough to mutter an embarrassed apology before Asuna hauled him up by his collar with an irritated growl.
"Sorry about that, it's just me." Kotaro said emerging from the bushes. He held aloft a rather large rabbit that was struggling to escape. "I caught dinner."
Kotaro nearly lost his footing from the smack he got from Konoka. "Bad boy, no biting bunnies!" Konoka admonished.
"Just because I'm a dog demon does NOT mean you can talk to me like I'm your poodle." Kotaro growled back.
Negi glanced over at Setsuna, as did Kotaro, and with one rather pointed glare he quickly calmed himself. "I mean, it's not like I'd really bite him." Kotaro quickly said with a forced chuckle.
Negi didn't relax until he saw Setsuna take her hand off her hilt. Setsuna could be rather protective when it came to Konoka. He'd have to make certain that if it should ever become necessary to train Konoka in combat magic that she was NOWHERE around at the time.
Everyone finally turned and finished the rest of the hike in silence, except for Misora who asked about their estimated time of arrival about five more times. Negi counted about thirty since the start of the trip.
The campsite next to the waterfall was much as Negi remembered it the night he had first come here and happened upon Kaede training by accident. He looked around at the little area fondly.
"Are you blushing sensei?" Nodoka asked.
"Oh, no, just a little hot from all the hiking." Negi said quickly tearing his eyes away from the large drum that served as an outdoor bath.
Everyone pitched in and set up camp, except of course for Kotaro. Negi grumbled as he set about setting up their tent alone, since Kotaro claimed he was going to sleep up a tree somewhere. I hope it rains on him. Negi thought sourly.
Once everyone was settled, Ku Fei wandered over and after helping Negi finish his tent, dragged him off the bank of the river. "Since you already hot, is time for training."
Nodoka watched as Negi trained with Ku Fei. She was a little jealous of the martial artist as she moved through several advanced dai-hakkyoku. It was a part of Negi's life she really couldn't take part in. She wasn't much of a fighter after all. She watched as Ku Fei would stop to reposition Negi's body when he moved improperly. She felt a little pang of jealousy as Ku Fei reached around Negi from behind to move both of his arms through the proper motions.
Nodoka daydreamed for a moment of Negi showing her how to move properly, with his arms wrapping around her so she would be standing properly. Her back against his chest, she could practically feel his hot breath on her neck.
That hot breath suddenly turned cold as ice, which is what in fact it turned out to be as Yue touched her grape and tomato flavored pop to her neck. Nodoka yelped and turned on her friend.
"I said; do you want something to drink Nodoka?" Yue said looking at the girl. She then looked over her shoulder at Negi. "You were spacing out again."
"Sorry, no; not right now." Nodoka said sheepishly. She leaned against the log as Yue joined her for a little fond daydreaming of her own. If only she could share in Negi's experience…
Nodoka suddenly got an idea and pulled out her diary. Maybe it would be enough watching his thoughts, and to know what he was thinking about as he concentrated on his battle. Besides, if she could get good at determining combat strategies with her book she could be of better use to Negi in battle.
"Adeat." Nodoka whispered as her card transformed into a book. She watched as she concentrated on her sensei and watched his thoughts scroll across her book.
"Now is time for us to practice some of the styles you learn with sparring!" Ku Fei practically squealed. There was little that excited the girl more than fighting, and little that excited boys more than watching her fight.
Nodoka looked down to see what Negi was thinking as the two settled into their fighting stances. She was pleased to find that he was totally focused on the combat and not on the girl he was fighting, aside from seeing her as his opponent.
"Begin!" Ku Fei shouted as she rushed at Negi.
Negi was barely able to jump in time as Ku Fei swept low with a kick meant to take the boy off his feet. Barely got up in time, Negi thought quickly, I knew she was holding out on her speed up until now.
Negi flipped over in mid air to bring his feet down behind the Chinese girl and quickly back flipped as she continued her spin to try to catch him when he landed. She's faster this time, what's she going to do next?
Ku Fei brought her arms up with her palms downward and her hands sloping down in front of her as well. She launched forward with a series of jabs as Negi swept his arms in arcs to deflect the blows away from his body. She's attacking with 'Praying Mantis Style', trying to strike my pressure points. If she catches me she'll cripple my arms. I'll have to counter with Wing Chun.
Ku Fei relentless pushed Negi backward suddenly changing her arm movements from precise jabs to sweeping movements as her fingers spread out and curled up. Negi had to roll to avoid her initial assault and then began to counter. Ha, 'Eagle Claw Style', it's good but no match for Lau Gar.
Nodoka smiled as she watched Negi begin to press Ku Fei back. The young student seemed hard pressed against Negi, but she hadn't stopped smiling through the entire fight. Negi pressed his advantage, and soon the girl was sweating heavily.
Just reading the thoughts of her beloved Negi started making Nodoka thirsty so she got up and walked back to the cooler behind them. Most of the drinks were Yue's but she'd packed some nice safe apple juice just in case. She let her book float in front of her so she could continue reading while she bent over to retrieve the drink carton.
So now she's using 'White Crane', I better slip into Tai Chi Chuan… Man, Nodoka has a really cute looking…
"ACK!" Negi shouted from behind Nodoka as she quickly stood back up straight. She turned to see the boy flattened on the ground gasping for air from the chest punch he'd taken from Ku Fei.
"You do good, apprentice, but you still lose focus. You have to concentrate, on battle or you lose." Ku Fei admonished the mage.
Nodoka quickly turned and hoped that he hadn't noticed her watching. She quickly stashed her book and went back to sit next to Yue as if she hadn't been paying attention. "Is Negi sensei okay?"
"Yeah, he just looked over this way for a moment and Ku Fei nailed him." Yue said seriously. "I think we might be distracting him, let's go check on dinner."
Nodoka nodded and the two friends quickly left the log to go find Konoka and Misora tending the food provisions they'd brought with them. Kotaro was off training with Kaede, while Asuna and Setsuna worked on swordplay. For some reason Nodoka couldn't help but smile, if Negi was that easily distracted she'd have to be careful not to disturb his training.
The four girls gathered around the campfire and Konoka pulled out her wand. "Practi Bigi Naru Ardescat!"
"You're getting much better with that." Yue complimented their friend.
"Yes, since I don't have to worry about anyone catching me, I can practice in my room all I want." Konoka said waving her practice wand around. "So Misora-chan, how far along are you in your studies?"
"Not much further than you are." Misora said glumly. "The only reason I'm even studying magic is to make my mother happy."
"Is your mother a mage?" Yue asked.
"Yes, but she isn't very powerful. My grandfather was average, but kaa-san doesn't have his potency. I'm little better." Misora confessed. "Truth be known, I'd just as soon forget the whole business. If Negi were actually teaching magic to our class, I'd be in with the Baka Rangers, no offense Yue."
"None taken, studying bores me. When it comes to magic though, I can't seem to get enough." Yue confided.
"Yeah, I can tell you've got more magic potential than I do." Misora admitted.
"Yes, but not as much as Konoka or Nodoka." Yue said sadly.
"How do you know how much magic I'm capable of?" Nodoka asked.
"Well, using my artifact as a study guide I started learning how to gauge an opponent's magical energy. It's a pretty basic skill for a mage, and you and Konoka were handy test subjects." Yue explained.
"That and I bet you were dying to know too weren't you." Misora accused the Baka Leader.
"Well, the thought did cross my mind." Yue admitted.
"It doesn't matter though, Yue might not have my magical storage capacity, but she's already a better mage than I am." Konoka said smiling at her friend.
"I wish I'd gotten your artifact." Misora complained. "My running shoes only help me get out of danger by running away; yours actually allows you to come up with solutions."
"Sometimes." Yue said darkly. "I still have quite a few problems that no artifact will fix."
Nodoka didn't say anything, but she knew Yue was talking about Negi. Yue loved Negi just like she did. Nodoka really didn't want to think about it, but at some point the situation was going to have to be addressed. Negi was going to have to choose someone eventually. In the back of her mind Nodoka realized that he might one day grow up and find someone outside of their class, but the idea was remote compared to all the girls gunning for him right now.
The four girls sat around the fire roasting marshmallows waiting for the more combat oriented members of their group to return. Yue was impressing them with her ability to roast marshmallows without a stick by levitating them through the fire when the rest of their small company rejoined them.
"Something smells good." Kotaro ventured.
"Have a hot dog." Konoka said tossing the package to him. "No offense meant."
Everyone chuckled and settled in as the sun began to set. Tomorrow was going to be their full day of training. Negi was going to teach the girls magic in the morning and train a little in the afternoon before everyone broke camp and headed back to the dorms in the evening.
It didn't take long for everyone to get rather comfortable. Finally it was Kotaro that stretched. "I think I'll go dip in the river."
"It might be rather cold, why don't you use the outdoor bath." Kaede suggested.
"Whatever, that sounds good too." Kotaro said shrugging.
"Here, I'll set the fire for you." Kaede said getting up.
The two started to head off to the bath when Negi spoke up. "Uh, Kotaro…"
"Yeah, what?" Kotaro answered back gruffly.
"Actually, never mind, it was stupid." Negi said grinning.
Nodoka shrugged and went to her tent to change into some pajamas. She ruffled around in her pack for a moment and then came back out to the fire. "Hey Yue, where's my pajamas."
"I laid them on the… bed." Yue said slapping her forehead. "I'm sorry Nodoka. I forgot to tell you that I washed them."
"I have nothing to sleep in." Nodoka said forlornly.
Nodoka turned to see Asuna pounding on Negi's chest as he had apparently had his drink to go down his windpipe. The boy valiantly gasped for air as Asuna looked like she was beating him.
"That's okay Honya-chan, I have a spare T-shirt you can wear to sleep in." Asuna said finally relaxing after making sure that Negi was either going to survive or had been sufficiently beaten, Nodoka wasn't really sure which.
"You actually brought extra clothes?" Konoka asked.
"Well you know how accidents happen." Asuna said jabbing her thumb in Negi's direction.
Everyone laughed. Then out of the night a giggle and a panicked howl could be heard. "Yipes woman, are you NUTS?"
Everyone turned as Kotaro came running back into camp. "That crazy ninja tried to climb into the bath with me."
Everyone stood there staring at Kotaro. Negi was red faced from the effort of holding in the laugh. All the girls just sat there and stared. Then their eyes trailed downward.
"What?" Kotaro asked in confusion.
Yue merely cleared her throat and pointed down. Kotaro looked down and noticed for the first time that he was still naked.
"Fine, be that way. Is this better?" Kotaro said in a huff before shifting into the form of a dog. The canine looked at the group balefully before walking into the middle of the camp and shaking himself dry on everyone. Kotaro never saw the harisen coming.
"You can sleep in the woods tonight then you animal!" Asuna cried irately as she sent Kotaro sailing into the night.
Things calmed down after that, and Nodoka went and changed into the T-shirt that Asuna had. It was much longer on her, and could easily pass for a nightshirt. Nodoka looked down; you could see a lot of her thigh under the shirt, but nothing else. Satisfied, she headed back to her tent as the rest of the party was breaking up and heading off to bed expecting an early start. She was a little disappointed to find Negi had already turned in for the night.
Sighing Nodoka retreated to the safety of the tent she was sharing with Yue. Inside Yue was also ready for bed. The two of them had decided to split their load. Yue had carried their tent and Nodoka had carried the oversized sleeping bag that they would be sharing.
"Sorry about your pajamas, Nodoka." Yue said again.
"It's okay; it's supposed to be a warm night." Nodoka said happily. The two of them sat down and talked for a while, and Yue finished off one of her weird drinks. They'd lost track of time until Nodoka yawned.
"I guess we should try to get some sleep." Yue said seriously. "It'll be hard to recite spells if we're yawning tomorrow."
Nodoka nodded, picked up her lantern, and then crawled for the tent entrance. Her bladder was reminding her that there were a few things she needed to take care of before sleeping. "I'll be back. I just need to go to the bathroom first."
Yue nodded and got into their sleeping bag. "Just don't wake me when you come to bed."
"Just try to make sure you don't wet the sleeping bag later when you have to go yourself from all the stuff you drank." Nodoka shot back playfully.
Yue grunted and Nodoka slipped off into the night to relieve herself. She was careful not to wander very far, and once she found a nice secluded spot finished her business before heading back for camp. She had just reached the edge of the light cast by their dying fire when she encountered Negi.
He was wearing his pajamas and was halfway between his tent and Asuna's, which Asuna was currently sharing with Misora. Nodoka stopped as he turned to her with his eyes glazed over and heavy from sleep.
"One-chan." Negi said mumbling as he staggered over to Nodoka. He practically collapsed into her arms.
Nodoka held him there a moment, trying to calm herself as she looked down at the beautiful boy that currently had his head against her chest snoring blissfully. He's sleepwalking. Nodoka thought to herself in amazement.
Nodoka remembered how Negi had a tendency to wander into Asuna's bed at night. Nodoka looked jealously at the tent the bigger girl occupied. If only Negi would wander into her bed with her…
It suddenly struck Nodoka what was happening. She was wearing Asuna's shirt. Negi said that Asuna smelled like his cousin/sister and that was why he always crawled into bed with her. Nodoka looked down at the boy in her arms and then looked at his tent blushing. Yue would be asleep by now and Kotaro was sleeping in the forest. Negi's tent was right in front of her and she really should put him to bed.
She led the boy back to his tent. In his dream-like trance he followed and didn't protest. Nodoka opened the flap for him and he crawled into the tent and into his sleeping bag. Unlike the one she had brought for her and Yue, this one was for only one person and Kotaro's sleeping bag was nowhere to be seen. All she had to do was get in there and crawl in next to the boy of her dreams and he'd welcome her in. She could sleep in his arms close to him all night long and no one would stop them.
Nodoka blushed with indecision wondering whether to take the next step in her love for the Negi when providence decided for her and the heavens opened up.
Nodoka barely had time to get inside Negi's tent before she got drenched. She looked out the tent flap and sat the lantern down. Negi shivered in his sleeping bag as a cold wet wind blew in through the open tent.
"One-chan, I'm cold." The boy innocently complained.
That was the last draw. Nodoka couldn't stop herself anymore. She was in his tent, he was cute, he was cold, he was cute, she couldn't get back to her own tent, he was cute, there was only one sleeping bag, he was cute, and they probably weren't going to be disturbed before morning, it was like having an engraved invitation. Oh yes, and he was cute too.
Nodoka crawled into the sleeping bag with him and zipped it. She was now so close to Negi she could feel his body against hers. Negi snuggled close to her warm body and Nodoka fought off the urge to faint. She was here, she was doing it, and she loved every minute of it. Yue might be a little jealous tomorrow, but she'd be doing the exact same thing if given the same circumstances so Nodoka said a thankful prayer that fortune had favored her this night and settled in next to her love to sleep for the night. As she began to drift off to sleep she reached over and turned out the lantern light.
"Nodoka would have to say something like that." Yue said rolling out of the sleeping bag. She dashed from the tent shortly after Nodoka left to find her own spot to pee. She looked around nearly wetting herself before she found a nice place in the bushes.
Relief came swiftly to the girl as she emptied herself of the day's drinking binge. It never ceased to amaze her at how large her bladder must be. Yue straightened and was about to head back to camp when there was a rustling in the bushes behind her. Yue's heart leapt into her throat. She'd left her wand in the tent and it was her only real defense.
Finally, a black haired boy popped his head out of the bushes. "Hey squirt, are you finished yet?"
"Kotaro, what are you doing following me out here? Were you watching me go to the bathroom you pervert?" Yue asked hotly. She let her anger cover her embarrassment. With luck Kotaro would think she was red in the face from being furious instead of flustered.
"No, I didn't follow you." Kotaro shot back. "I was already here. You nearly stumbled on where I was trying to sleep."
"Then how did you know I was using the bathroom?" Yue pressed.
"Well, I do have ears. What did you drink anyway? It sounded like someone left a faucet running." Kotaro said with a grin. "Besides with my sense of smell, I could probably tell you what you'd been drinking all day."
Yue was definitely blushing now. She was also angrier than ever. Kotaro had that effect on her. "Well, I'm sorry I disturbed you."
"Yue, wait. It isn't just that." Kotaro said quickly.
"What, you want to sniff my rear next?" Yue shot back hotly.
"Actually, I was hoping you'd let me have part of you pajamas." Kotaro said with a pleading look.
"WHAT?" Yue asked incredulously.
"I'm naked remember?" Kotaro said pointing down at the bush. "That shrew Asuna knocked me out here without any clothes. Could I wear your pajama bottoms until we get back to camp?"
Yue looked back at the boy and grimaced. It wasn't in her nature to leave people who needed help, but this time she was SORELY tempted. The loud mouth boy had been a thorn in her side for a long while now. Finally she relented. She told herself it was because she couldn't stand to see a dumb animal suffer.
"Fine, here." Nodoka said stripping off her pajama pants and tossing them over into the bush. She stood there shivering in nothing but her top and panties for a moment before Kotaro stepped out in her clothes.
"This is humiliating." Kotaro said looking down at the kittens on her pajama bottoms.
"Tell me about it." Yue said trying to pull her shirt down to cover her underwear. "Let's get you back to camp so I can get my clothes back and get to bed."
The two of them started back toward camp when Kotaro started to run. "We better hurry!"
"Why?" Yue asked as her answer came in the form of a raindrop that fell on her nose. The girl raced to keep up with Kotaro and she was just about back to camp when her eyes caught sight of Nodoka's lantern.
Yue stopped a short distance from camp as she saw Nodoka leading Negi back toward his tent. She then watched as Nodoka ducked into the tent just as the rain hit. Yue suddenly felt detached from everything around her. It was raining now and she was briefly aware of Kotaro pulling on her arm. She watched the silhouette of Nodoka as she opened the sleeping bag and crawled in next to Negi and turned out the light. Yue felt a sharp pain in her chest, but part of her was still cheering on her friend.
"You go girl." Yue said to herself before realizing that she and Kotaro were getting soaked to the bone. The two of them finished running back toward the camp and Yue ducked into her tent followed by Kotaro.
"Great, just great, I'm soaked to the bone and now that girlfriend of Negi's is taking up my spot in his tent!" Kotaro groused.
My sentiments exactly. Yue thought darkly. "So did you have a sleeping bag in there Kotaro?"
"No, I figured I'd sleep in the woods tonight, but I hadn't expected rain. Negi offered to share his tent, but I'm pretty sure he only had the one sleeping bag. Hey, why are you suddenly looking green?"
"No reason." Yue lied. "It's probably just the weather."
Yue looked down at her soaked shirt and underwear and realized she didn't have any spare sleeping clothes. Then she looked at Kotaro. "Your clothes are all in Negi's tent aren't they."
Kotaro nodded glumly. Yue only sighed. She was going to have to sleep without any…
Yue looked back at Kotaro who was looking at her worriedly. Apparently similar things were running through his mind. He then went to looking out at the rain.
"Just turn around." Yue said in defeat.
Kotaro obediently turned his back while Yue stripped. She then undid her hair and let it fall in a sheet down her back. She dried off with her only towel and slipped into the sleeping bag. She then rolled over and turned her back to Kotaro. "If you try anything funny I'll tell Kaede and she'll turn you into a fur coat."
"I can turn into a dog if it makes you feel better." Kotaro offered.
"No thanks; wet boy is bad enough; I'd hate to wake up smelling like wet dog." Yue said over her shoulder. "Dry off with that towel before you come to bed."
Yue heard the rustle of wet fabric sliding off Kotaro and memories of seeing him naked started popping up unbidden into her mind. He was the first boy she'd ever seen naked, and for some reason the memory didn't want to be dislodged. Yue began wondering what Negi would look like and kept mentally comparing the two.
Yue felt Kotaro slip into the sleeping bag beside her and turn the other way. "Thanks squirt." Kotaro said seriously.
"Don't mention it, moron." Yue said flatly back to him. "And I'm serious, really, don't mention it ever again."
A/N: I'm going to try keeping up my former schedule that I established with 'Child of Mine' in updating this story weekly. It should give me a few weeks to finish the ending and get it beta read before the posting catches up to me. Stay tuned…