Kouta sat in the garden behind a flowering bush, with smaller bushes bracketing each side of him. He told Yuka that it was a nice day so he was going out. What he did was retreat to a place where no one could find him.

He knew Nana had begged him, he knew he'd made her happy. Her excitement and exuberance had been intoxicating. He shouldn't have, though. If Mayu found out what they did, she would never go near him or speak to him again. If Lucy found out, it might cause another battle between her and Nana. If Yuka found out – he was a dead man. They would have to use DNA testing to verify his corpse.

Thankfully, Nana didn't breathe a word to anyone. Still, at dinner last night he could not bring himself to look at anyone. He felt too embarrassed to meet anyone's eyes. Hyper-cheerful Nana had drawn attention to herself, letting him wallow in silence. Breakfast had been the same, Nana making her cheerful show that drew eyes to her and let him stay far in the background.

Letting out a sigh, he realized he couldn't hide out here forever. Yuka had mentioned taking Mayu and Nana out, he figured it would be safe to sneak back to his room and get some studying done.

Raising himself up, he stepped out of the bushes, and came face-to-face with Lucy. With a yelp, he backpedaled and fell.

"There you are," Lucy giggled as Kouta winced from his landing. Shooting out a couple vectors, she helped him get up.

"Umm, hi Lucy. I was just ... looking at the garden. I don't get out here much, you know." he explained as he rubbed the back of his head.

Eyeing him, Lucy asked, 'What's wrong? I know that look."

"Nothing, nothing," he said quickly with a nervous chuckle. "You surprised me, that's all."

"I'm not talking about now. Last night and this morning, you've been acting strange," she noted.

Kouta swallowed hard. She knew. "Umm, Lucy,, it's not what you think. I ... was just thinking about a difficult study problem I have."

"Liar."

"No, really," he said, trying to keep the nervous giggle out of his voice. "In fact, I was about to go study right now." He managed not to rub the back of his head as he turned to leave.

Lucy kept pace with him and asked, "So, you're not trying to avoid me?"

"Why would I do that?"

Lucy placed a hand on his shoulder, stopping him in his tracks. She didn't speak. Kouta turned to see she was eyeing him with a long, sad face. She finally asked, "Did you do something with Yuka?"

"What!" he gasped in surprise.

"Did you ... sleep with Yuka?" Lucy asked in a hoarse voice.

Relieved, Kouta let out a sigh. "No, I did not sleep with Yuka. I haven't done anything at all with Yuka. If I sleep with anyone, I want it to be you.." Right after he said it, he clapped his mouth shut and wished he'd kept quiet.

The hand on his shoulder tightened a bit. A satisfied smile came to Lucy's face. So THAT was why he was acting strange. "Thank you," she said softly. Pulling him into a hug, she kissed him. Casting him a wide smile, she added, "And I want to sleep with you."

"Really?" he asked. Seeing this as a chance to redeem himself, and sleep with someone he truly loved, he asked, "Can I visit your room after everyone else goes to bed?"

Lucy nodded then motioned for him to keep going. "Any time you want. Go do your studies now."

"Ahh that's done!" Yuka said happily as she and Nana put their paint brushes down. All the upstairs rooms were now freshly painted, as were her and Nana's room.

"Yuka, where do we sleep?" Mayu asked as she came in with Lucy, both carrying cans of paint.

"Well," Yuka said with a thoughtful pause, "Nana can sleep with Mayu, and if you don't mind Lucy, I'll sleep with you tonight. Tomorrow we can do yours, Kouta's and Mayu's rooms. Then we'll be finished. I'll let Kouta know right after he gets back from that job interview."

Nana's eyes grew wide. "Oh, we forgot to start dinner! Come on, Mayu, let's go!" she said and grabbing Mayu's hand, Nana ran out with her.

"I hope it will be a celebratory dinner, for Kouta getting his job," Yuka said.

"I'm sure it will be. Kouta was very positive when he got the call," Lucy told her. "He almost forgot to put his shoes on when he ran out of the house."

Yuka let out a giggle. "That would not help get a job. Come on, let's put this stuff away."

Kouta returned late. Not only did he get the job, but his new boss had shown him around and had him fitted for his new uniform. Instead of being gone an hour, he didn't get back home until after dinner was over. Mayu and Nana gave him congratulatory hugs. Yuka gave him a bigger hug before she went out to fix him a plate. Then Lucy wrapped her arms around him and planted a kiss on his lips that took his breath.

Gazing at her beautiful, smiling face, Kouta decided it was going to be tonight. Grinning broadly at her, he whispered, "I know one thing that would make this day perfect."

Lucy winked and replied, "Yes, it would. Kouta. Tonight.."

"Here you go, MR. Working Man!" Yuka chimed brightly as she brought his food into the dinning room. Kouta and Lucy parted, Lucy's sentence remaining unfinished.

Kouta ate with a vigor reminiscent of Nana's finest meals. He told them all about his job, high on the fact he now could make his own money, as well as the plans he had for tonight. Yuka was happily supportive, and Lucy kept giving him glances as if she couldn't wait for later either.

This was going to be so awesome!

"Kouta, we painted the upstairs today ..." Lucy said pointedly, then got interrupted by Yuka.

"Yes, everyone pitched in," Yuka said brightly, "And tomorrow, Kouta, we're going to do your room, so in the morning take your things up to an empty room. When does you job start?"

"Monday morning, though Mr. Uata wants me to come by tomorrow to give me my locker key. I can help tomorrow too," Kouta explained.

"New job, freshly painted room, what could be better?" Yuka asked happily.

Kouta cast a glance at Lucy, and couldn't help but to sport a grin from ear to ear. "Today is wonderful!" he agreed.

Finishing dinner, Kouta had the idea Lucy wanted some 'alone' time with him, but someone was always right there with them. He squeezed her hand in assurance that later on, they would have plenty of 'alone time'.

In his room, Kouta packed a few things for a day in a spare room as he waited anxiously. Nana and Mayu's quiet talking died out. He waited a full hour after the Inn had gone silent, then turned off his light and slid the door open.

Lucy couldn't sleep. She was sure Kouta would come tonight. Any other night, she'd welcome him with open arms. The fact that Yuka lay beside her had ruined a private meeting. She quietly told Yuka she was going to the bathroom. She did, and waited there for Yuka to drift off before she snuck into Kouta's room.

Creeping barefoot down the hall to Lucy's room, Kouta checked for noises from the girl's room. With the way Nana was snoring, they both had to be asleep. A check of Yuka's room showed the light off. Good, Yuka was asleep. He hoped Lucy hadn't fallen asleep yet. If she did, he'd wake her gently.

As silently as possible, Kouta slid Lucy's door open, shutting it carefully behind him. In the dark, all he could make out was a form lying under the covers. She'd laid out another futon, was she expecting him to stay the night? Well, as long as they got up before Yuka did, he wouldn't mind that at all.

Kneeling down beside the form, he kissed her gently and touched her shoulder. "Wake up, sweetheart, It's Kouta," he said, and kissed her again. She responded, returning his kiss as she awoke, and put her arms around him.

Kissing deeply and petting, he savored the softly moaning woman in his arms. He kissed down her neck, and parted her nightgown as he kissed his way onto the center of her chest. Panting, she pulled him under the covers with her. Rising back up to enfold her in his arms, he kissed her ear and whispered, "I love you more than life. I want to be with you forever, my sweet Lucy."

The woman in his arms froze. He was wondering what was wrong when something slammed into his head so hard it put sparks in his eyes. He felt himself lifted up and punched twice in the stomach, then he was assaulted by what he guessed had to be her vectors.

WHACK

WHACK

WHACK

WHACK

WHACK

WHACK

WHACK

Kouta was knocked out of bed and pummeled mercilessly. Curling into a ball, he got slammed in his ribs, sides, back, and head as he cried out in pain. The assaults then stopped. He looked out from between his arms to see the light was on.

Over him, Yuka stood with her nightgown hanging off her shoulders as she glared malevolently down on him. Behind her, Lucy had her arms wrapped around Yuka's middle. The depressions in Yuka's arms and legs showed Lucy was also holding onto her with her vectors.

"Stop it, you're hurting him!" Lucy cried.

"Hurt... hurt?" Yuka spat as she glared down on Kouta. "I'll going to KILL HIM!" she blasted out in a screech. Struggling against Lucy's vectors, Yuka wiggled in place and yelled, "How DARE you lay down with ME and call me LUCY?"

"I didn't know it was you!" Kouta cried in his own defense.

Yuka quieted down. She stared at Kouta, looked around the room, then her face fell. A single tear ran down her face. She looked away.

"Let me go," Yuka said quietly.

Sensing the danger was over, Lucy let go. Yuka fell to sit on the floor. She hugged herself as she stared off at nothing.

"I am very sorry you found out like this," Lucy offered. "But I can't let you hurt Kouta."

Yuka groaned, "I'm going to be sick..." Clapping a hand to her mouth, she got up and stumbled out.

Kouta tried to rise, and fell back with a cry of pain. He swore his ribs were broken. "I'm sorry, Yuka," he called out as loud as his aching ribs let him.

The disturbance had brought Mayu and Nana out. Seeing Yuka wander down the hallway hugging herself, they peeked in.

"What happened?" they asked at the same time.

"Did you do something to Yuka?" Mayu asked Kouta in an accusing tone. "Did you try to do something perverted to her?"

"I didn't know it was Yuka," Kouta explained as he held his aching ribs.

Mayu scowled at him then ran after Yuka. Gapping at Kouta, Nana asked, "Why would she be so upset? I mean, you are very gentle. At least you were with me."

"What?" Lucy asked as she turned to eye Nana.

Casting her innocent face to Lucy, Nana said, "Kouta is very gentle." Wearing a timid grin, she added, "It felt wonderful, and I know Yuka likes Kouta. I don't see why she would act that way."

Lucy's face became stonic. Slowly, she turned to glare down on Kouta. He voice held ice. "Nana, go make sure Yuka is OK, then call an ambulance, please."

Nana nodded and left.

Kneeling down by Kouta, who tried to shrink away, Lucy spoke in a slow, even tone as her eyes grew enraged, "Kouta, I do love you dearly but I am afraid you're going to miss your job Monday ... and maybe for the next few weeks."

"I'm not hurt that bad, really," he said sheepishly.

"Ohh, you will be," Lucy said as her vectors shot out.