She stared up at him helplessly, as once again he looped the noose over the tree branch. He had done this before, and she had even hanged herself with him occasionally as well, as the ultimate expression of devotion he claimed it to be. Each time they had attempted this double suicide, however, something would always come up, usually in the form of the irrepressible Fuura Kafuka, and they would wind up splayed on the ground, gasping and sputtering, but very much alive. Not that she necessarily minded all that much, but he usually would be furious at Fuura-chan, and storm off. It was all she could do to keep up with him at those times.

And this time, she could not find it in her heart to join him in death, at least not at this moment. Somethinig was stirring in her... something rather a little lower than her heart.

"Sensei... please don't do this..." she pleaded.

He paused from his ropework only long enough to look down upon her. As it was, he was quite tall enough to do so; from the stepstool upon which he stood, his gaze was that much more disdainful. "I cannot do otherwise. There is no hope for this world. There is no hope for me. This is the only solution."

She sensed the gnawing hunger deep within her. If she did not tell him of it now, she might not get another chance. After all, she knew how seriously he took suicide. "But, sensei... I love you, sensei. Don't you see that?"

"Do I?" he snapped, and resumed tying the hangman's know. "If you truly love me, you would be prepared to die with me."

"You know I have, sensei... but..." and she turned away, tapping her index fingers togetther as a blush slowly crept across her face.

"But what?" In his irritation he did not even look at her, so intent was he on making sure that this time, the know would not fail him. This time, he would die. No more of this hopeless world, no more of his hopeless students, and above all, no more of this hopeless girl who had deluded herself into thinking she was in love with him.

"...we've never consummated our love for each other." Her face grew an ever brighter shade of red as she lifted her eyes up to meet his. He sighed as he placed his head in the noose.

"Tsunetsuki-san... can you not look upon this as the ultimate in consummation? There is nothing beyond death as an expression of true deep love. I've told you this so many times."

"I know that," and her voice grew quiet as she continued to twiddle her fingers, "but I still have other needs, too. Couldn't we, just once, before you - I mean, we - die, couldn't we... make love... just once?" The gnawing sensation deep within her, sensing the merest hope of possible release, subsided ever so slightly. Maybe, just maybe, he would be moved to...


"No?" The gnawing ignited within her once more, more powerful than ever. Her once flushed face faded as the blood rushed from it to her lower chakras, in a vain attempt to satiate an appetite she had inside her for something else. Freed from the blush of shame, her gaze turned predatory, scanning him from top to toe. "Well, then...

"...I'll just have to wait, until you're ready." She took a step toward him, and before he realized what was happening, she had nudged the stepstool out from under him with her foot. "If you're not willing to love me as long as you're alive," and her hand reached up to his chest as he dangled, slowly choking against the pressure exerted by the rope under his chin, "it looks like I'll have to wait until you're dead. It shouldn't be long, after all." Her hand slid down his kimono, crossed his hakama belt, and stopped at his crotch. "Then again, who knows how long it will be? They say a man gets a terrific erection from the effects of strangulation." Even as the rope continued to tighten against his throat, he could feel her hand as it caressed him in a spot no student should ever touch their teacher, even if he is dying.

Hands clawing the air finally reached their objective; he clutched the rope, pulling himself up so as to alleviate the pressure on his throat. Feet flailing for purchase finally swung over to where she had pushed the stepstool, and slowly, painfully, toe by toe, dragged it back to a point where he could comfortably stand. Finally safe, he pulled the noose off his head, jumped down, and grabbed the noose and yanked it from the branch.

"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he screamed at her, before stomping away, kicking the stepstool over behind him as he went.

Safely around a nearby corner, he took momentary satisfaction in the sound of a feminine scream and a crashing noise, as she apparantly tripped over the stepstool in her attempted pursuit.

Now for the rest of Plan B, he thought, as he broke into a silent run.

"I'm in despair! The price of gasoline has me in despair!"

For that matter, he couldn't find any matches with which to immolate himself, either. It looked like he was going to have to live to see another day in spite of himself yet again.

With apologies to Sexy Losers, and Yoko Ishida.