Risa was mortified, or at least she would have been if she hadn't felt like she was in the process of dying. Groaning, she rolled over on to her side and clutched her stomach. It was morning and she still couldn't believe how she'd humiliated herself by vomiting all over her boyfriend last night when they'd come back to their room. To his credit he'd barely twitched an eyebrow and when she started to gag again he'd hastily helped her to the bathroom and held her hair back as she threw up again.

She moaned slightly and felt the familiar bile rise in the back of her throat, but this time she managed to clamp down on the urge. Risa felt the tears prick her eyes and blinked them away.

Here she was staying in a great hotel suite, at one of the most beautiful and relaxing places in Japan, and instead of enjoying herself she was withering in abject misery.

After the violent nausea she'd experienced other, more embarrassing aspects and to her vast disbelief had found that she'd managed to come down, like a third of the guests at the resort who'd also ordered the wrong thing at the sushi restaurant she and Otani had gone to, with food poisoning. She should have realized that something was wrong when the headache she'd been nursing for part of the day hadn't dissipated, but continued to steadily pound at her temples. She'd managed to ignore it for the most part and the aspirin she'd taken had turned it into a dull ache, at least enough for her to enjoy her day with Otani, but it seemed that the rising nausea that she'd simply regulated to nerves and had finally been unable to hold in had been a little more serious than she'd thought.

She groaned and shivered as the feverish chills racked her slim body and pulled the covers tighter around her frame. She wished Otani would come back; it seemed that his presence made her suffering a little more bearable. She frowned when she caught sight of the blinking alarm clock sitting on the low table near her futon. He'd been gone about an hour. Her frown deepened. He'd supposedly just gone down to the desk to see if they could extend their room for another day or so. He had known that in her present condition Risa was not going to be able to ride the train home. She shivered again. Her despair bone deep and she felt tears dust her cheeks.

This was horrible, she'd come here with the intention of making love for the first time with her boyfriend and now she was stuck in this hotel room, weak as a newborn kitten, bombarded with fits of vomiting and other unpleasantness, and burning up with fever. Kami, it was unfair!

Plus, what must Otani be thinking? Sure he'd been nothing but wonderful, caring for her, trying to help her keep fluids down, helping her to and from the bathroom, and holding her hand and her hair while she was violently ill. And after each bout of illness he'd hold her and sooth her, but she was scared that he was appalled and disappointed. She kept her fears to herself and told herself she was being foolish and she most likely was. Otani had never treated her like she was a burden, but Risa still couldn't help but hold on to those insecurities that had plagued her most of her life.

Deep down, she knew they were silly, she knew that Otani loved her, knew that he would never want her to do anything that made her uncomfortable, but then that part of her that had spent too many years being too tall, too loud, too opinionated, too…whatever the boys she'd liked before Otani had found unappealing, that she was almost afraid that one day Otani would look at her and think, my God, what am I doing with this Amazonian loud mouth when I could be with a pretty, petite, well mannered, quiet girl who worshipped the ground I walked on.

And that, she knew, was what was standing in between her and her desire to have sex with Otani. She wanted him, wanted him so badly she ached with it sometimes, but she was still afraid that once she relinquished this last part of her being to him that she would have no defense against him if he decided to walk away from her.

She knew that Otani, Kami love him, wasn't aware of half of this, knew too that she should probably tell him, but Kami help her she couldn't even bring herself to talk to Nobu about all of this, Nobu her best friend and the one person in the world, besides Otani who knew her best of all. Miserable, she snuggled down deeper into the covers.

No, she couldn't talk to Otani…she simply wasn't ready. Staring silently at the far wall she wondered depressingly if she would ever be ready…and what that meant for her and Otani's future.

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Otani stood in the middle of the hotel store oblivious to his girlfriend's inner turmoil, but concerned about her outward suffering, and surveyed the over priced offerings to be had. He grabbed a box of oolong tea and some bland rice crackers and made his way to the cashier to pay for his purchases. He smiled at the pretty clerk and she blushed and smiled back at him and rung up his purchases. He thanked her and made his way back to the elevator bank.

Food poisoning, he mused darkly. Fate really seemed to be giving him the finger lately. He scowled, not that fate was entirely to blame. Although it was nice to know that it was food poisoning and not abject fear that caused his girlfriend to toss her cookies on him last night, he couldn't dismiss the nerves he could practically feel jumping off of her skin when they'd reached their hotel room door.

His scowl deepened slightly. Risa wasn't ready to have sex with him; that was abundantly clear. So why hadn't she told him? Yeah to be honest, he was a little disappointed in how things turned out so far, but he understood, just like he would and did understand that she might not be as ready as she had said she was to take this step with him. He pushed the button with a little more force than necessary and stepped inside when the doors swooshed open. He pushed the button for his floor and twiddled with the package of crackers.

His mind was unaccustomed to this overflow of thought. Otani knew that he wasn't always the most perceptive of guys, a fact that the night of Risa's seventeenth birthday will forever bear witness to. He'd been so obtuse that he hadn't realized that Koizumi had been confessing her feelings to him until she'd practically forced the realization on him during the school festival a couple of months later. Still, he felt he'd improved since then and he trying, he really, really was. In fact he was trying so hard he was developing a migraine. As he left the elevator and approached his room he was faced with one inalterable fact. The one fact that was becoming more and more glaringly obvious as he approached the door…Risa was afraid to sleep with him. She wanted to, he'd felt how her body reacted to him the few times they'd gone beyond kissing, but she was afraid to take it all the way. The question was…why?

Determined to get some answers he opened their hotel room door and paused when he found Risa crumpled on the floor near the bathroom.

"Koizumi!" He yelled and ran to her side and gently rolled her over. She groaned and blinked up at him.

"Otani?" He frantically felt her forehead and winced at the heat coming off her body. Heart pounding, he gently gathered her in his arms and carried her back to the futon.

"Stupid baka," he said gruffly, but not unkindly. "Why didn't you wait for me to help you?"

She blushed and buried her head in his shoulder.

"I thought I was going to vomit again and I didn't want to do it in the bucket."

He grunted, but didn't respond as he gently laid her back down on the futon and kissed her forehead.

"I've got tea and if you feel up to them some rice crackers. Also I'll get you some more pills to take the fever down."

She pouted. "I don't think I'll be able to keep them down." He brushed her hair off her forehead and this time tried to leave a lingering peck on her lips. She covered her mouth with her hand and mumbled.

"Don't…I have bad breath." He lightly clasped her wrist, pulled her hand away, and brushed his lips quickly over hers grinning.

"I don't care, now how about some tea?"

She felt tears sting her eyes again and nodded gratefully as she sank back down onto the futon. Otani kissed her temple lightly and left her to go make her tea. As he worked, he resigned himself to the fact that he wasn't going to be getting any answers to his questions while she was still sick, but once they were back home and she was feeling better…all bets were off.