Author's Note: So, family people are still sick and there were some massive money issues stemming from the fact that right after I graduated with my bachelor's degree (woohoo!), I was accepted to the University of Glasgow for my graduate degree…only to land in the hospital four times in a row between the start of March and the end of May. So since then, I have been working three jobs, scrimping and saving to make up for the hospital and repair bills (I got smacked by a car riding my bike), plus applying for travel visas and financial aid…yeah. The good news is, since I leave for Glasgow in one month, I have no more work commitments for a short period of time, after which I will have a fairly easy class schedule that should give me enough time to keep up with this at least during the first term. Minus NaNo, of course…

yeah, that's really it. Um, Eiji's turn here. Going to try and keep up this update thing for as long as I can, since I have a feeling I'll have to go on a massive hiatus during my second term creative project and third term thesis. But maybe we'll get lucky!

Chapter Eight: Kiss and Tell

I won't say that it's you making me feel this way
It's the heart and the soul and the body and brain
Driving me insane

-"Roll With the Wind," Alexander Rybak

When my sadistic tease of a boyfriend walked back into the room with water dripping from his hair over his face and shoulders and chest, I started wondering if it wouldn't be better to be single again. At least then I had a reliable, completely compliant outlet for my frustration.

"You all right over there?" Oishi asked me in concern. I couldn't tell if he was joking or not. The bastard. The cheating bastard. I never looked that hot after I got out of the shower. My hair always ended up standing up after I pushed it out of my eyes and in the end I just looked like a weird redheaded fish. He, on the other hand, looked like walking, talking sex. I couldn't even fight back in kind and he knew it, the jerk. "You look a little sick."

I shook my head and fixed my gaze anywhere else in the room that wasn't Oishi. It was harder than it should have been. He was doing this on purpose. He had to be doing it on purpose. "Just tired after today," I mumbled reluctantly.

The slow, wry smile that spread across his face was maddening even when I couldn't see it. I could hear it and that was enough. Damn it, I was too competitive to deal with this whole stupid bet like the joke Oishi probably meant it to be, and he knew it, too. "I thought you were in training for like half of every day," he commented, obviously amused.

"Maybe you're just more of a challenge?" I tried teasing. It pretty much fell flat, though, and from the sudden cough Oishi developed, he saw right through me.

"If you're sure," he went on after a moment. "The shower's all yours now. No one else is in there this late at night."

My head snapped up and I stared at him in disbelief that he'd honestly say something like that at a time like this! As he vigorously rubbed at his hair with the towel and raised his eyebrows at me knowingly, I tried not to glare too obviously. That was it. All bets were off.

It was officially all right for me to play dirty. After a long, long shower.

I took my time scrubbing off all of the dirt and grime from the day and made myself relax into the routine. Okay, normally I wasn't this horny. Mostly. Some of the time. I was at least able to control myself better than this around Oishi, anyway, which didn't make a lot of sense when I thought about it…you'd think being with my boyfriend would make things worse, right? But it was still true. When I was away from him, I wanted to be with him so badly that it hurt whenever I thought about him, which was pretty much constantly. When he was actually there within my reach, though? Just his presence was enough.

Usually. When he wasn't exploiting the fact that I was too proud to back down from a challenge, no matter how pointless or silly or just plain mean and cruel and…

I let out a sound that was me trying to scream and groan in frustration at the same time, and rested my head against the tiles of the bathroom wall. Stupid Oishi, always knowing me so well, even better than I knew myself, and using it to drive me completely batshit nuts at the worst possible moment.

I had to figure out how to mess with him just as much as he was me. My mind was completely blank as I vigorously toweled myself off, but I didn't let it bother me. I was sure to think of something.

Besides, I was already bothered enough as it was.

By the time I finally made my way back to the room, I was feeling a little bit more under control. Oishi was too occupied to notice when I slipped back through the door, which was probably good since otherwise he might have started back in on me again. But no, he was too busy wrapping up a conversation on his phone…something related to school, from what I heard on my end, but since there was an awful lot of talk about acid and lactating (or at least that's what I thought I heard), it could have been about somebody's pregnant aunt for all I knew. Either way, it meant that all I had to worry about were the automatic tingles and sparks that sprang up under my skin whenever I so much as saw him.

I watched my boyfriend as objectively as I could, trying to focus less on how hard he made my heart pound and more on any openings I could find to win his stupid bet. It wasn't working very well, to be honest. Still, when Oishi uncrossed his legs and leaned back in his chair, still without noticing that I was back, the idea sprang into my head all at once.

Oh, this is gonna be good.

Oishi rolled his eyes at something the other caller said and his gaze fell on me leaning against the closet door, watching him wryly. He grinned at me, gestured to show he was almost finished with the call, and sat up straight again. "Sure. Just bring your notes and we'll figure out what we missed before. Uh-huh. Yeah. Great. I'll talk to you tomorrow."

I just stood there silently while he flipped his phone closed, smiled at me, waited, and finally asked, "What is it? Did I say something?"

With a shake of my head, I smiled back. "Mmmnope."

The look of bemusement on my boyfriend's face was priceless. "Well, why are you staring then?"

I moved towards him, one deliberate step at a time. "Maybe," I replied casually, "maybe I just like looking at you."

A familiar gleam I always enjoyed seeing came into Oishi's eye. "Is that so."

"Yes. Yes," I confirmed, "it is."

"You do realize this means you lose the bet," he pointed out.

"Says who?" I demanded as I stopped just in front of him. "You never said anything about looking. Just no kissing or anything. Remember?"

His brow creased and Oishi frowned. "Oh. I suppose…"

With a strangled choking sound, he trailed off as I plopped right down in his lap. As I swung my leg over his, staring down at him as innocently as I could, he swallowed with an audible click and squeaked, "I'm pretty sure this is against the rules."

"What?" I shifted my weight a bit and tried not to gloat too much over the look that crossed Oishi's face when I moved. "I'm just sitting."

"You're cheating," he choked out.

I didn't say anything. I didn't have to. Besides, I could feel just how much Oishi was reacting to my position and it was starting to make it hard for me concentrate as well.

Knowing I had that much power over him was totally going to my head. Among other things.

"Eiji." Oishi swallowed and tried to sound stern. It didn't really work out so well. "Get off of me, please."

This makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. I wrapped my arms around his neck and relaxed into him. "Why? You're so comfy!"

The sound that came out of Oishi's throat wasn't something I could describe, but I'm pretty sure it meant that we had better get to the resort sooner than he had planned.

The ride to the onsen the next day was interesting, to say the least. We nearly missed our train first thing in the morning, but considering how badly we'd slept the last night, it wasn't that surprising really. Oishi's eyes were heavy with bags big enough to stuff a couple of puppies into, his face covered in tiny nicks from a morning shave that wasn't quite as easy as usual, and he kept spilling his instant coffee all through breakfast. Given that I'd spent twice as long in the bathroom trying and failing to get my hair to lie down the way I liked after a restless night of tossing and turning and trying my best to both enjoy sleeping beside my boyfriend and not let him in on just how much his proximity to me was screwing with my brain, I didn't really have any right to pass judgment on him for looking exhausted. He looked about as tired as I felt, after all.

Even with no sleep, though, Oishi kept trying to fight dirty. And I kept giving it right back as bad as it got.

When he lavished entirely too much attention on his soda straw while buying our tickets, I made a point of making sure I kept putting our luggage on the ground so I had to bend down to pick it up. When I made a comment about how the weight I was losing meant that my pants just refused to stay up, he made up an invisible bug to blow off of the back of my neck. It got to the point where everything we said or did was heavy with meaning, right down to talking about how fast the new bullet trains were and stuffing our bags under the seats on the train. It was exhausting.

By the time the snack and beverage cart came by, I was running out of witty, innuendo-laden retorts, but I still managed a tart, "Something salty, please" when the kid wheeling the cart stopped to see what we would like.

"You like salty things, Eiji?" Oishi asked with an ironic smile that bordered on a grimace.

"Love them," I replied as sweetly as I could. "You should know that by now."

"Mind if I test that theory later, then?"

I moved my shoulders in a convulsive jerk that might have passed as a shrug from someone who didn't feel like they were about to jump the next living thing that so much as said hello to them. "Can you afford it?"

The cart boy looked back and forth between us nervously. "And you, sir?" he asked Oishi too loudly.

My boyfriend smiled at him tiredly and bought a large can of peach Qoo. "Since when do you drink that much Qoo?" I asked with a little trepidation.

"It's refreshing," he explained shortly, too tired to really elaborate. I sighed and closed my eyes, hoping to catch a short nap before we arrived, but not before I saw the cart boy hurry away with a look of worry at the two of us.

I guess I couldn't blame him. If I hadn't known better, even I would have thought that he and I were fighting about something.

There was a tiny psh sound and I opened my eyes minutely to see Oishi starting in on his drink. When he saw me watching him, he raised an eyebrow at me silently. I made a small sound in the back of my throat and let my eyes drift closed again when he nodded and turned to look out of the window at the countryside blazing by.

That was one of the nicest things about him; I didn't have to explain myself or even speak out loud for us to still understand each other. An entire conversation had passed in those few gestures. Want any? Your snacks? Or just taking a nap?

I'm good. Sleep time now.

I'll save you some for when you wake up. Talk to you then.

It was true that I liked noise and excitement in general, but that didn't mean I didn't know how to appreciate and enjoy a moment of silence every now and then. Oishi got that without me having to ever tell him. I loved those quiet moments he gave me almost as much as I loved Oishi himself.

The bastard.

I relaxed into my seat, focusing on the sound of the engines rumbling beneath our feet and Oishi's breathing across from me. I would probably be back up to speed after a half hour or so.

Between one thought and the next, I was yanked violently out of a sleep so deep that I couldn't even remember any dreams, and almost jumped straight out of my skin when someone touched my shoulder.

"Hey, hey!" Without pausing, Oishi moved his hand lightly over to rub the back of my neck. "You were really out there. Sleep well?"

I think I said yes, but it came out sounding more like, "Grag."

Oishi just smiled and handed me his mostly empty juice can. "You were drooling, did you know?"

Well, that was just great to hear. Slobbering all over myself in public while totally passed out. At least I know I never snored. I gulped down the last few mouthfuls of Qoo gratefully and decided to try that whole speaking thing again. "How long was I asleep?"

"Three hours." Oishi reached out to help me to my feet and then knelt down to get our overnight bags. "I fell asleep for a couple myself, but I made sure to set my watch to go off before we got here."

"Oh." That was smart. I should have thought of something like that. "Wait, we're already there?"

"We just have to walk to the hotel," he replied with a smile. Obviously the nap had done him well. I felt better myself, even if I felt bad about being such lousy company for him during the train ride. "Unless you want to stop at the gift shop here first?"

The flash in his eyes snapped me back to reality one hundred percent with a surge of heat and I wanted to punch him in the face for reminding me of that stupid bet. Or jump him right there in the train car, my winning streak be damned. Maybe both at the same time.

Instead, I shook my head sympathetically. "No, that's all right. You look so tired, still. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can lie down. And sleep."

"Of course," Oishi replied calmly, but there was a familiar look in his eyes that made me feel a little bit better about how desperate I suddenly was for him. At least I wasn't the only one.

"You up for another contest?" I asked suddenly. Oishi looked at me in confusion and I snatched my bag from his hand and turned on my heel towards the doors. "Race you to the hotel!"

As I took off at top speed, I could hear him calling behind me, "Eiji, wait! You don't even know where it is!"

"Better hurry up, then!" I called back, and his breathless laughter as he chased after me almost made the whole painful, stifling, frustrating ordeal entirely worth it.