Heyo! Here it is - the fifth and final chapter.

ALL will be revealed!

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LOVE HINA: FLIGHT OF THE HORNET – THE AFTERMATH
CHAPTER FIVE

By Doctor-T

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About a quarter of an hour after Naru had nervously agreed to become Kanako's girlfriend, downstairs in the spacious reception hall of the Hinata Apartments, not much of note was going on at present. Only one of the residents was currently in the room, that person being one slightly bored-looking Shinobu Maehara, whom was half-heartedly engaged in poking at spots of largely imaginary dust with a feather duster behind the reception counter. Having volunteered to watch reception for an hour, as a favor to Kanako, by now, Shinobu was beginning to wonder why the Goth girl was taking so long in returning to her post. However, her afternoon suddenly got a whole lot more interesting as the left-side front door opened, and a very familiar sounding, masculine voice called out a cheery greeting across the lobby to her.

"Hey, Shinobu, I'm back!"

"Oh, hi, Sempai," the beautiful, late-teenage bluenette replied, instantly perking up at the sight of her long-term crush. Placing the duster back on the shelf under the reception desk, she eagerly moved from behind it to meet him, an anxious inquiry on her lips. "So how are you feeling, now? You are all right to come home this early from the hospital, aren't you?"

Keitaro let out a sheepish laugh at the expression on the face of the nineteen-year-old cook as she hurried across the spotless lobby floor towards him. "Ah, yes, Shinobu. I'm going to be just fine," he happily replied, straightening up from putting on his indoor slippers. "The doctor gave me a shot or two of Epinephrine, whatever that is? It'll completely cure the delayed allergic reaction I had to the hornet sting venom, in no time at all. So there's no need for you to worry about the sting causing me any more problems from now on."

"That's great!" Shinobu enthused, giving him a quick hug of relief the moment she reached him. Stepping back a pace, the bluenette then looked over her landlord's shoulder towards the entrance, a quizzical look in her eyes. "Hey, where's Mutsumi," she then inquired. "Didn't she come home with you, for some reason?"

"Oh, Mutsumi went straight to the Tea Rooms, as soon as we got off the bus," Keitaro explained. "Aunt Haruka came back from the hospital earlier than we did, and she was covering Mutsumi's shift for her until we got back."

"Oh, that's right. I'd forgotten that she had to work this afternoon. But, Sempai, if I'd known about you having that sudden allergic reaction at the time it happened, I would've gone to the hospital with you and Mutsumi and Haruka, too. I was really worried about you when I found out about it from Su!"

"Thank you. I appreciate your concern. But, as you can see, I'm going to be just fine, now. So…ah? Where is everybody else, right now, Shinobu?"

"Well, no-one has any classes at Tokyo U, today, remember?" She reminded him. "So, we're all here somewhere – except for Ema, I think? But she should be back soon from her high school. As to what I'm doing down here in reception, Kanako asked me to cover for her for an hour or so. She told me earlier on that she had something important to do this afternoon, but she should be back downstairs at any time, now."

"Hmmm? All right. Hey, Shinobu, if you'd like to take a break, or go and do something else right now, I don't mind staying here and watching reception for you until Kanako gets back. I'm finding it a little painful to sit down at the moment, so I think that I'll just go over there and lean on the counter for awhile."

Shinobu let out a delighted chuckle. "Let me guess? They gave you an injection or two, right, Sempai? In the butt?"

"Urm. Yeah. You got it," Keitaro ruefully informed her, eyes closed behind his glasses, and rubbing absent-mindedly at the back of his head in the old familiar way that he always did at moments like this. "As if the hornet sting wasn't painful enough?"

"He, he! Anyway, thanks for the offer, Sempai. And I'll take you up on it, but only if I can stay here with you for awhile, and we can have a little chat about a few things that have been on my mind?"

"Oh? Okay, that's cool. Let's just go back behind the counter, first, shall we," the Tokyo U graduate suggested. "I've been on my feet for awhile, now, and I'm feeling the urge to lean on something solid to take the weight off my feet."

"Deal," Shinobu happily agreed. To Keitaro's surprise, she then playfully slipped under his left armpit and straightened upwards to take his weight on her right shoulder, her right arm encircling his waist as a brace. "You can lean on me for awhile, if you're that tired, Sempai? Hee, hee!"

"Er? Ah – um – okay, I guess," the startled Keitaro stammered, still unable to quite get his head around just how bold and forward the once shy girl under his arm had become, over the last five or six years.

Whoa! And just look at her figure and her hair, Keitaro just then couldn't help thinking. Shinobu certainly has changed since I first met her. Geez! Was that really nearly eight years ago, now? It seems like it was only last year when I first arrived here, looking for a place to stay.

Keitaro and Shinobu then made their awkward way across the lobby and behind the reception counter. After reaching their destination, Shinobu somewhat reluctantly released him again, and Keitaro gratefully slumped down with a loud sigh of contentment, forearms first, onto the hard surface of the counter top.

"Ahh! Rest at last! The stairway up to the apartments doesn't get any shorter or less steep as you get older, does it?"

"No," Shinobu chuckled in agreement to his observation. "Maybe that's a good thing, though? I have a theory that having to go up and down those steep steps, several times every day, is part of the reason that us girls living up here are always in such good physical shape?"

"Heh, heh! Yeah, probably? Now that you mention it, you all do have figures to die for," Keitaro agreed. "I can't believe just how good you look, Shinobu, and if I was a single man, I'd definitely want to try my – oh?"

An apologetic look quickly appeared on Keitaro's face as he abruptly realized what he had been about to admit out loud.

"Ah-heh-heh? Er, I shouldn't be saying things like that to you just now, should I? I'm with Mutsumi, now, and…um-? I'm sorry."

"Oh, no, it's all right, Sempai," the secretly delighted Shinobu hastened to reassure him. "Thank you for the compliment. I know that you didn't mean anything improper by it."

Sempai has noticed how good I look, after all! Only – it's come a month too late for me to take advantage of it. Darn it, life. You can be so cruel!

Shinobu kept silent for a moment or two longer, before speaking up again.

"Um, Sempai? There is one thing that's been bothering me for a couple of weeks, now. And since it concerns something that you did, I'd like your honest answer on why you did it, please?"

"It concerns me? Ah - okay, then. What's on your mind, Shinobu?"

"Well, when Naru first threw you out, you were gone from the Hinata Apartments for over a week, Sempai. Why exactly didn't you contact any of us, to let us know that you were okay," the bluenette asked him in a firm tone, hurt in her eyes as she stared upwards into his own. "I was worried sick that you had been killed, or severely injured, or even had left us for good! And I wasn't the only one here feeling that way, either."

So that's what Shinobu's talking about, Keitaro realized, mentally slapping himself upside his head for his poor choice of actions, prior to his return. Yeah, I did do that, didn't I? I did let Aunt Haruka know that I was all right, but I still kept my whereabouts a secret from everybody else. Just in case Naru got wind of it, and found out where I was, and whom I was with, out of one of them…especially Shinobu. I'd best explain to her, right now, just why I felt the need to keep her and the others in the dark about my true situation.

"Yes, I know. And I'm not proud of my behavior, then, either," the ex-ronin contritely conceded. "But at the time I had good reason to keep my location a secret, Shinobu. I honestly didn't like having to play it that way, but I was worried that if I got word to you about where I was staying during that week, Naru might have gotten wind of it, and tried to pry my whereabouts out of you…"

As Keitaro's explanation trailed off into an uncomfortable silence, Shinobu stood up straight and fixed him with a stern eye.

"From what you just said a moment ago, I know you've noticed that I'm not the shy, timid little girl that I used to be when you first arrived here at the Hinata Apartments, Sempai," she reproached him. "And I haven't been for some time now." Shinobu then leaned forward, hands on her shapely hips, her now sizeable breasts thrust forward in what normally would have been a most distracting manner. "Do you really still think that I couldn't have handled the news that you were with Mutsumi in a mature, grown up manner? And kept that and your whereabouts from Naru, as well?"

Keitaro sighed, realizing that he had badly underestimated the fortitude of the late-teen girl. "You're right, Shinobu," he admitted, regret in his voice. "I'm sorry. It was cruel of me to not get word to you that I was okay. And I'd also like you to know that I'd trust you with my secrets and my life, anytime. Okay?"

"Hmm. All right, Sempai. Thank you for saying that. And I know that you didn't intentionally mean to cause us all worry. But if you're ever in a situation like that again, please promise me right now that you'll confide in me about it, as soon as you can. Your faith in me keeping your secrets won't be misplaced, I assure you."

"I promise I will. Really, I do!"

"Good. Thank you, Sempai," the bluenette replied in a mollified tone; shuffling her feet slightly at what she was just about to admit next to her old flame. "And – ah – there is one other thing…"

"Oh? What's that?"

"Well, I just wanted to let you know that I'm all right about you and Mutsumi dating each other, as well," Shinobu told her young landlord, still looking him directly in the eyes, even though her cheeks were now tinged a light shade of pink. "Even though I wish it had been me that you had chosen as your new girlfriend, even I have to admit that Mutsumi is perfect for you. So, best wishes to you both, Sempai. And I mean that, too."

"Thanks, Shinobu. That means a lot to me," Keitaro replied in a gentle tone, his voice regretful. "I've known for a long time that you do unconditionally love me. And you've no idea just how much I truly appreciate that. I also know that I've hurt your feelings, and that you must still be feeling bad about everything. Especially now that I'm with Mutsumi, and not you-"

To Keitaro's surprise, Shinobu let out a nervous laugh. "Oh, don't worry about me, Sempai. I've – um? Well, let's just say that a friend and I have gotten much closer together, since we both found out about you and Mutsumi. And I'm positive that we're going to be very happy together, too. So, even though I can't be with you in the way that I wanted to be, I think that I'm going to be just fine from now on."

"Really? Wow, that's great news, Shinobu!" the ex-ronin exclaimed, the sudden expression of surprise on his face causing the bluenette to involuntarily giggle out loud again. "So, just who is it that you're dating, anyway, if you don't mind me asking? Do I know him?"

"Er? Hee, hee! Well, yes, but-? I'm not going to tell you that, just yet, Sempai," Shinobu said, her cheeks reddening a shade or two more at just who her new partner was. "The person and I will let you and the others know about the two of us in good time, once we are sure that it's going to work out between us."

"Fair enough," Keitaro conceded with a smile, taking a step forward and giving her an affectionate hug. "Congratulations, Shinobu. And I hope the two of you will be very happy together."

"'Sniff.' Thank you so much, Sempai," Shinobu sniffled, an involuntary tear of happiness in the corner of each eye as she warmly embraced her good-hearted landlord, in return. "And the same back to you, for you and Mutsumi. I want us all to be happy."

"I'm sure that we all will be, now," Keitaro declared as they hugged each other tight. "And I think that we all deserve to be happy at long last, after everything that we've all gone though together over the last eight years."

"Thank you so much for everything you've done for me, and the others, since you first arrived here," the Tokyo University sophomore whispered, her tears of joy now flowing freely. "You've helped us all out far more than you'll ever know."

I'm a so much better person now, thanks to Keitaro. It was largely thanks to him that I developed enough self-belief to actually pass the entrance exam and make it into Tokyo University in the first place. And, with Sempai still in my life, and my new relationship with Su, I'm also sure that I'm going to become an even better person in the future!

"Oh, by the way, Shinobu, before I forget, I'm planning on calling a meeting with all of the residents after dinner, in the common room, at seven-thirty," Keitaro then informed her, his original intention to notify her and the others of this, just now popping into his mind. "If you see any of the other girls between now and dinnertime, could you please let them know about it for me?"

"Sure, Sempai. I'll do that," Shinobu responded, a look of curiosity appearing on her beautiful face. "So, what exactly is this meeting going to be all about?"

"Mutsumi and I have an announcement to make," he cryptically told her. "I can't tell you any more than that, just at this moment, sorry. Oh, yeah, one more thing. When I called in at the Tea Rooms just before with Mutsumi, Aunt Haruka mentioned to me that Naru wanted to have a word with me. But she didn't say what about. You wouldn't happen to know where Naru is at the moment, do you?"

"Oh? No, not offhand," Shinobu admitted. "Try her room, Sempai, and if she's not there, maybe she's waiting for you in your one?" The bluenette hesitated for a moment, and then reluctantly added, "Maybe you should go and see Naru, right now, Sempai? It could be something important that she needs to talk to you about?"

"Ah, yeah? Okay, maybe you're right, Shinobu. You don't mind me just taking off like this, after me promising to stay here with you for a while? I could talk to Naru later, you know?"

Shinobu actually did mind him leaving so soon, but she laughed and answered in the negative, all the same.

"No, I'll be fine, Sempai. I'll be seeing you again a little later on at dinner, anyway. Go and talk to Naru, right now, while you've got the chance."

"Er, all right," Keitaro agreed, a smile now on his lips. "I'm glad that we had this little talk of our own, to clear the air about what happened before. I'm also glad that you aren't still mad at me for what I did."

"I'm fine about it, now," Shinobu assured him, giving him a warm smile of her own. "Especially since I now know for sure that you'll trust me with your secrets, if there is a next time."

"Actually, I'm hoping that there won't be a next time," the young landlord wryly declared. "This once was quite enough, thank you! But on the off chance there is, yes, I will. I promise. Okay, um, I'll see you later, then?"

"Yes! Bye, Sempai."

"Bye!"

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A couple of minutes after this, up in Kanako's third floor room, the spontaneous, latest love-tryst of one Naru Narusegawa and one Kanako Urashima was suddenly interrupted, mid-kiss, by a rapping on the door to the landlord's room on the floor below them.

Knock, knock, knock!

"Um, Naru? Are you in there? Aunt Haruka told me that there's something important that you wanted to talk to me about."

"Oh, heck, it's Keitaro," Naru gasped out, breaking her lip-lock with the Goth girl, to stare with alarm back down through the hole in Kanako's floor into the landlord's room below her. "He's here to talk to me, right now!"

"Hold on, Keitaro!" the sweating Naru then hollered down toward the door. "Don't come in, just yet! I'm – um – well, just give me a minute, will you?"

"Ah, sure, Naru. Take your time," came Keitaro's reassuring answer.

"Oh, god, Kanako, what do I say to him, now that he's not my husband, again, after all?" Naru frantically inquired of the Goth girl, both still intertwined in each other's arms. "I don't know what to do!"

"Go and talk to him right now, Naru, just like you were planning on doing," Kanako urged her, thinking fast. "You'll have to do it sooner or later, won't you? But, bear in mind that Oniichan doesn't need to know about anything that's happened today with regards to your Registration of Marriage form – especially after what you've just found out about it from the municipal office. As far as he's concerned, it'd be best if this whole fucked-up business with Seta and your seemingly valid, and now invalid again, marriage form never even happened. While you're talking to him, I'll phone Auntie Haruka and Seta from my room, tell them that the form's not legal again, and ask them to keep quiet about it, as well. There's no sense in stirring things up unnecessarily, now, is there?"

"I…no, you're right about that last bit, Kanako," Naru conceded. "But, since I'm not married to Keitaro, after all, I've nothing to tell him now, anyway. Maybe I should just-?"

"Yes, there is, Naru," Kanako firmly corrected her. "You can tell him, and Mutsumi, that you forgive them both for getting together. And, for once in your life, come clean and admit that it was you at fault for what happened. You, after all, were the one who made your wedding invalid by not signing or filing the marriage form when you had the chance to make it legal and binding. And you were also responsible for driving Oniichan away from you, and into the waiting arms of Turtle Idiot. Am I correct?"

"…Yes. It is my entire fault, Kanako. I realize that now." Naru dropped her gaze to the floor. "And…I have something else that I want to confess to you, right now, as well."

"Oh? And that is-?"

"Well, I'm feeling ashamed about the way that I've been treating Mutsumi over all of this, too," Naru murmured in reply, her face sad and eyes still downcast as she made her admission. "You're right, it's not Mutsumi's fault that Keitaro went to her for comfort after I lost it and punched him out of here, it's mine. She's the innocent party here, and just look at the cruel way that I've been treating her…? I'm so sorry-!"

"Don't tell me that, go tell her and Oniichan," the frowning Kanako retorted, gently cuffing Naru on the top of her head with her right hand. "I'm sure they'll both forgive you, if you do say sorry to them for how you've been acting. As will I."

"I…I will. Right now. Thank you, Kanako!"

"Go."

And that was just what the most-repentant Naru Narusegawa then did.

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After dinner had been finished, and all of the dishes were done and put away, at the appointed hour of seven-thirty pm that night, Keitaro and Mutsumi sat hand-in-hand on a comfortable couch in the second floor common room. Both were now in a very happy mood, especially since they had made up with the very apologetic Naru, earlier on before dinner.

After talking to her ex, Naru had then made a special trip down to the Hinata Tea Rooms to apologize to the surprised, and after she had heard Naru out, very happy Mutsumi. Not only had the contrite and tearful young woman given a full and unreserved apology for the way she had been acting, and what she had done, but also she had then given her full blessing to Mutsumi's relationship with Keitaro. The upshot of this outpouring of honesty and regretfulness was that all three long-term former best buddies were once again friends.

Nor were Keitaro and Mutsumi alone in the spacious common room at this time. Every single one of the other residents was seated in there, as well, along with Haruka, Seta and Sarah, who were standing off in a little group to the side, watching the proceedings with interest. The trio was currently focused on one bizarre sight, in particular…

…A sight that had grabbed everyone's attention right away, and held it.

And the exact same thought was in everyone's minds, as well…

Um? Why, exactly, is Naru wearing that leather collar, and kneeling at Kanako's side, instead of sitting on the couch next to her? And…is that a leash in Kanako's hand, attached to the collar…?

Mutsumi was just as interested in as any of the others in that far more than merely unusual sight, but she had bigger fish to fry at this moment in time. A gentle nudge from her served to attract Keitaro's attention away from his younger sister and his ex, back to his new girlfriend and the important topic at hand.

"Ah-? Well, thank you all for taking time to attend, tonight," Keitaro managed to get out, turning his full attention back to the other residents. "I'm sorry that this meeting was at such short notice, though. I hope that we didn't drag any of you away from anything important that you were planning on doing at this time?"

"Naw, she's sweet, Kei," Kitsune answered for everyone else present, lounging back against the cushions on her couch, a beer in one hand, and an anticipatory look on her face. "Mah movie isn't on T.V. for another half-hour, yet. So, what's this all about?"

"'Ahem!' Well, Mutsumi and I have gathered you all here, tonight, because we have something very important to announce."

"Um, and after you've done that, Sempai, actually, so have we," Shinobu then nervously spoke up from her own seat, Su squeezing her hand in a show of support at her side. "Su and I, I mean."

"Well, well? In that case, us, too," Kitsune stated with a knowing grin, from her position next to the uneasy-looking Motoko. "No time like the present, eh, Motoko?"

"Er…if…if you say so, Kitsune?" Motoko mumbled back, looking as if she would rather be anywhere else than here, at this particular moment in time.

"As have Naru and I," Kanako declared with amusement, resting her left hand on the twin-antennaed head of her companion, her soft touch causing the already ill-at-ease Naru to blush crimson and avert her gaze, so her eyes could avoid having to meet the puzzled scrutiny of the other girls. Having taken into account what she had previously witnessed happening between Kitsune and Motoko last weekend, the shrewd Goth girl had already correctly guessed what was coming next from everybody. Good. That meant all systems were still 'go' for her and Naru to reveal their relationship to the others, as well.

After the startled crowd of girls had finished darting surprised and speculative glances amongst each other, all eyes then turned towards Ema Maeda. The fifteen-year-old, noticing that she was now the center of attention, jumped in her seat, her face a mixture of confusion and apprehension at being subjected to such close scrutiny from the other residents.

"What? What?" she squawked out, both eyes huge behind her rectangular glasses, not at all sure, yet, as to just what was going on, and showing it. "I don't have anything to say!"

"Well, that makes one of us," Kitsune laughed. "Calm down, Sweetie." Her mirth-filled, half-open eyes then turned to the standing trio of Seta, Haruka and Sarah.

"Seta? Haruka? What about you," she prompted them, her grin widening. "Any dirty lil' secrets you wanna get off your chests?"

"Don't look at us," Haruka coolly replied. "We're just here for the show."

"What Haruka just said," Seta agreed. "You kids go for it!"

Uh-oh? Sarah thought, knowing that something strange was definitely up. An uneasy look appeared on her face as her worried eyes flickered back and forth from face-to-face, firstly taking careful note of just who was seated with who, and then picking up the tell-tale signs of nervousness and anticipation being displayed between the girls in each pairing. And then, in her mind, the light bulb came on.

Oh, crap! Don't tell me…?

Kitsune's amused voice then broke into her anxious thoughts, jolting the now sixteen-year-old blonde back to reality.

"Sarah? Anything to declare, Sugah?"

"Huh? Me?" she yelped, a look of shock and indignation transforming her face. " Leave me out of this, you guys! I'm normal!"

"Heh! If ya say so, Sweetie," Kit smugly stated, having appointed herself ringmaster of the circus that was about to get underway. Her mischievous gaze then returned to her seated friends. "All righty, then! On with the show. Who's first with the good news?"

Another round of furtive staring amongst the circle of friends followed, until Keitaro and Mutsumi finally stood up together, hand in hand.

"We called you all here, tonight, so I guess that we should go first," he stated. "'Ahem!' Okay, just listen to this, you guys. On the way back to the apartments from the hospital this afternoon, I asked Mutsumi if she-"

And so it all came out.

Firstly, the news of Keitaro and Mutsumi's engagement was met with a chorus of surprise and approval from all-and-sundry, even Naru and Kanako. Their support may indeed have been a little forced, but both young women knew when to bow to the inevitable. Both also knew all-too-well that they had lost him for good. Now that Keitaro had finally hooked up with Mutsumi, there was no way that he was going to leave her for anyone else. Even a blind man could see that they were made for each other.

Once the hubbub and round of handshakes and congratulations had died down, it was the other residents' turn to surprise their compatriots. And surprise them, they did.

Next up, Kitsune stood up and loudly announced to the excited circle of residents that she and Motoko had been dating since last Saturday night. To say that the silence was deafening after her pronouncement would have been the understatement of the year. Then, to the already embarrassed Motoko's red-faced chagrin, the Fox girl added out loud - and quite unnecessarily, from Motoko's point of view - that she and the Kendo girl had already got it on several more times with each other, since then!

'BLUSH!'

"Kitsuuunee!"

"Bwahahahaha! Well, it's true, ain't it, Motoko?" Kitsune laughed back to her, totally ignoring the huge-eyed, open-mouthed looks that her friends were now giving them both. "Don't be shy, now, gal. After all, ya did tell me before, just how much you enjoyed doin' it with me, didn't ya-?"

"Shhh!" Motoko's steaming tomato-red face hissed back to her, flapping frantically with her hands in an effort to shut her big-mouthed lover up. "Don't say things like that about us in public, please?"

"Oh, very well. Hehe! Ah'm sorry, Sugah. 'Kay, who's next?"

"Urm? Well – um – that would be me, I guess…?"

Shinobu stood up from her seat and told her now sweat-dropping and even more dumbfounded audience, in a rather more nervous voice than Kit's had been, that she and Su were also now partners, as of last weekend, as well. Then, to her own total embarrassment, the startled bluenette promptly received not only a joyful hug, but also a very public and rather prolonged kiss directly on her lips from the overjoyed Kaolla, as her reward for speaking up. Consequently, Shinobu's face was as red as Naru and Motoko's now were, when she hurriedly sat down again with the totally unashamed Molmol girl still clinging to her like a blanket.

And lastly, Kanako rose to her feet and smugly declared to the, by now, totally-flabbergasted crowd of family and friends that she also had a brand new girlfriend – one now brightly-blushing Naru Narusegawa, once bitter rival, now repentant lover.

Once everybody had retrieved their lower jaws from the floor, and were in a position to speak coherently once more, the delighted Mutsumi Otohime was the first one up on her feet again.

"Oh my goodness," she exclaimed happily, clapping her hands together in joyful approval at all she had just heard. "Everyone else here has found true love, as well as us! Isn't that great, Kei-kun?"

"Ah, yeah? Um, yeah, it is," the gob-smacked, huge-eyed landlord stuttered, trying hard to take everything he had just heard in, and failing badly. "Ah-heh-heh? What in the heck has been going on here in the apartments behind my back for the last few weeks? I had no idea about any of this! I…guess that congratulations are in order, all around?"

So that's what Shinobu meant when she told me yesterday that she had found love with another person? It was with Su. And Kitsune's with Motoko, and Naru – with Kanako? This has to be some sort of a perverted waking dream that I'm having right now? But I…guess that's what happens when a bunch of girls all live together for so long, with no guys around to date…?

Come to think of it, when was the last time I saw any of them with a guy that wasn't either me, Seta, Shirai or Haitani? Never! And hardly ever with the last three names on that list, to boot!

Even the no-less astounded Noriyasu Seta and Aunt Haruka managed to give everybody their best wishes, even if their sweat-dropping faces were a little red at the open and honest confessions of clandestine intimacy that they had just heard from their now paired off friends and relatives.

The shocked-looking Sarah McDougal, however, wasn't nearly so calm as her elders about what had been secretly going on amongst the other residents. Truth to tell, she was hopping mad about it.

"What? So you weirdoes have all been secretly doing each other behind everyone else's backs?" she hollered out, jumping to her feet with an accusatory look on her flushed face. "Ooo – yuck! Aren't there any good-looking guys apart from the dork around here for you to date, instead of each other?"

"Actually, Sarah, there's not," Su spoke up, with a loud chuckle of merriment at her American friend's angst. "Kei-Baby's ruined us all for any other guys! Nyahahaha! So, aren't you just a little bit happy that we've all found someone else for us to love, Sarah?"

"Well, I am, I guess," the uncomfortable-looking, sixteen-year-old blonde reluctantly conceded. "But-? But-?"

"Well?" Kitsune laughed, before any more could be said. "This is one for the books. Ah'll be damned if Ah can truly believe it, just yet, but it sure looks to me with the way things are goin' right now, everyone here's gonna live happily ever after, after all?"

"I'm not happy!" Sarah yelled. "Unlike you guys, I don't have anyone to be happy with! It's not fair!"

How do you think I feel, the dumbfounded, sweat-dropping Ema Maeda gasped silently under her breath, watching the fist-shaking blonde teen as the foreign girl chewed everyone out. I'm the only other one here still single, too! Damn! I need bigger tits! And I've got to try harder. Ah? Ah-heh, heh…? With guys, I mean – not with other girls!

"Well, everyone but Sarah, that is," Kitsune corrected herself. "Oh, yeah, and what about you, Ema? How do you feel about all of us happy new couples, eh?"

'BLUSH!'

"M-me? How do I feel-? Er, um – um, j-just fine, thank you," the bespectacled teen stammered. "Um, congratulations everybody, on finding, er…t-true love…!"

"Well spoken, Sweetie. Hey, Ah just had a thought? Since you and Sarah are the only two unattached people left here, why don't the two of you get together, and-?"

"What? As if?" Sarah squawked, crimsoning like a tomato at the thought of kissing another girl. "I'm not a weirdo like you, Fox Floozy! Just because I don't have a boyfriend, doesn't mean that I wanna-!"

"No way!" the just as embarrassed Ema loudly gasped out at the same second, her already red face deepening an extra tone. "I may be single, but I'm not even the slightest bit interested in dating a-!"

"Simmer down, you two," Haruka interjected. "This is supposed to be a happy occasion, not a shouting match."

"Listen to your mother, Sarah," Seta added, still smiling. "And there's no hurry for you to find a special someone, just yet. You've got plenty of time to find a nice boy or girl for you to date, when you get a little older."

"Sorry, Papa, Mrs. Haruka," Sarah contritely apologized, momentarily glancing up at them both before glaring back at Kitsune again. Then her widening eyes abruptly whipped back up to her substitute father's face again, as the second part of his last statement finally registered in her mind.

"Hey! What do you mean, 'or girl for you, when you get older?' I'm old enough to date, right now, and I just told you all that I don't wanna date girls-!"

"Bwahahahaha!"

"And shut it, Fox Freak, you slanty-eyed bimbo! I don't!"

Huh? So Ema's not dating anyone at her school? The offended blonde teen then thought, her angry eyes involuntarily flickering for a second from the uproariously laughing Kit Fox towards the other girl. I suppose… I could hang out with her a bit more, just to see what she's really like? Maybe…?

What? Sarah doesn't have a boyfriend, after all? The mortified Ema couldn't help thinking as she peered uncomfortably out from between her fingers towards the blonde foreign girl. Woww…! Ma-maybe I should…get to know her a little better…? Socially, not – um? Yeah, just…socially…

"Heh, heh, heh! Well, it was just a thought," Kitsune snickered, not failing to notice that the two seemingly outraged teens were now surreptitiously eyeing each other up, as the attention of their amused audience turned from both bright-red girls, back to each other. Quick, speculative looks between Sarah and Ema were now alternating with the irritated and discomforted expressions on their matching pair of embarrassed faces – and that could mean only one thing, couldn't it?

Hee, hee! Who knows, the troublemaking Fox girl smugly thought to herself. Maybe that wasn't such a dumb idea as Sarah and Ema first thought it was? They could sure do worse than each other – and Ah'm sure if they spend enough quality time in each other's company, they'll work that out for themselves!

Well, anyways, enough charm from me. It's time to celebrate, Ah think?

Kitsune stood up and raised her voice again over the excited din from the others. "'Kay, everybody, listen up! And now to celebrate everyone's good fortune, Ah have only one more word to say to ya'll. Par-taaay!"

"Yaaay!" Kaolla cried out in agreement, leaping to her feet as well. "I'll break out the PS3, you get in the grog! And make it a double!"

And that was just what they all did.

For the next two days and nights, non-stop.

And just for once, school be damned. Even Tokyo University.

"Furthermore, a gay old time is being had by all of the new couples! Heheh!"

"Shuddup! There is not!" Sarah yelled with red-faced outrage at the intruding camcorder. Jumping up from the couch she was just then sharing with Ema, the blonde heaved an artifact directly towards the grinning Kit Fox, who was narrating behind the camera. "I'm not like that, dammit!"

Oh, shit-! Kitsune thinks, attempting, far too late, to duck.

CRUNCH!

"Tweet!" Selfsame Fox girl unconsciously utters, as the solid, stone mask ricochets off her forehead.

(In Kitsune's head, insert flashing red stars superimposed on spinning room, as camcorder recording winks out to black).

-:-:-:-:-:-

THE END

-:-:-:-:-:-

Author's Note: Yes, Kitsune's fine, thank you. The bandages come off her head next week.

Phew! I've finally finished this three-story series. I hope that you all have enjoyed the rather R-rated shenanigans of the Hinata crew over the last eleven combined chapters?

I may, at some stage, write a story or two more based on this storyline. If and when I can find time to do it.

As always, all reviews are most welcome.