Short disclaimer: Not mine. No money made. Full disclaimer in chapter 1.
Author's note: Thank you very much for reading, for all the Story Alerts, Favorite Story listings, Author Alerts, and especially the reviews. I'm happy about all these unexpected, positive reactions. Here's the second chapter.
She was walking home from school passing a park on her way. There a man was playing with his dog, teaching her tricks and to retrieve thrown sticks. Every time the dog did something right, he petted her head, told her "good girl", and fed her a small treat as a reward. The dog's eyes sparkled and her tail didn't stop wagging. It was plain to see that both, man and dog, had fun. Then he taught her to lie down. "Down girl!" he ordered. The dog obeyed, wagging her tail and keeping her eyes on her master. "Good girl," he praised her again, knelt down beside her, petted her head, and stroked her fur, while he fed her another treat with his unoccupied hand.
Like often in dreams the scene changed and Motoko was in the Hinata's kitchen. In front of her Kitsune sat on the floor. Motoko petted her head and told her "good girl". Kitsune's eyes sparkled, while her fox ears trembled and her fox tail twitched.
Again the scene changed. Now Motoko knelt seiza-style on the floor. A hand petted her head and a male voice told her "good girl". Motoko felt immensely pleased. A warm ball of light expanded within her belly. She looked up, saw a leash dangling from the man's belt, and looked further up. Her eyes met the eyes of Urashima. "Good girl," he told her again and petted her head again. Motoko rubbed her head against his hand and purred.
Motoko woke up screaming and jolted upright on her futon. Her first conscious action was to grab her katana. The feeling of the familiar hilt against her palm calmed her. Next she calmed her breathing using the meditation technique she had learned when she started training.
What was that? she thought. She shook her head. What a weird dream! I hope I will forget it soon.
Motoko looked at her alarm clock. Nearly half past two in the morning.
I have to sleep, she told herself sternly. I have school in the morning.
She laid down on her bed and tried to find a comfortable position, unaware that she was still clutching her katana.
Lazy Friday afternoons at the Hinata Girls-Only Dormitory were only a fading memory now. The girls were doing their chores to keep their weekend chore-free. After too many frustrating tries Motoko had finally figured out, that Naru and Su did their chores best, when they were paired with another girl. Now Kitsune shared her chores with Su, Motoko shared hers with Naru, and Shinobu thankfully needed no supervision.
On this day even Mitsune found it hard not to call Motoko a slave driver. Not only had the sword-maiden picked up her habit of carrying her katana with her everywhere she went again, on this Friday she was nit-picking and criticizing even the smallest faults. The tasks had not only to be done perfectly, they had to be done in time, too.
Motoko was clearly upset about something. Mitsune hadn't the slightest idea what that might have been. While she wouldn't call herself an investigative journalist, yet, her curiosity had awakened. She would find out what had disturbed Motoko so much.
When Haruka dropped in unannounced for dinner, the girls had every reason to be thankful for Motoko's unexplained strictness. The dormitory gleamed and Haruka had no reason to scold them for tardiness.
So they were slightly disappointed when Haruka told them, she wasn't there for an inspection. She had to tell them something after dinner. The meal was quiet. With the exception of Su the girls didn't enjoy Shinobu's cooking as much as usual. They worried more about what Haruka had to tell them.
After the meal Haruka complimented Shinobu on her cooking. She looked around.
"Don't look so scared," she told them, "I don't plan to raise the rent or add to your chores." She allowed herself a small smile. "In fact, I'm amazed how well you've cleaned this place. My compliment, ladies."
The girls relaxed slightly. Some smiled.
"You know that the stairs and the sun deck have to be repaired." Haruka said. "Keitaro and two of his carpenter friends will start the repairs early in the morning tomorrow. That means there will be three male workers here for most of the day."
Haruka took the time to make eye-contact with each of the girls. "I expect all of you on your best behavior. I don't want any confrontations or unlucky accidents to happen. That goes especially for you, Naru. It might be a good idea not to use the hot springs tomorrow, so there will be no reason to accuse one of the men of peeking. Let me be perfectly clear: I don't want any problems."
She grinned. "You don't want any problems, too. I know my nephew. He will leave at once, when given the slightest reason to do so. Then you can either do the repairs yourselves or hire other professionals, who will not give you a family discount. And forget about having the repairs done on short notice."
"We understand perfectly, Haruka-sama," Motoko said. "There will be no problems. Thank you for informing us."
"You're welcome." Haruka answered with a smile. "Have a nice evening ladies." She winked. "Use the evening for a relaxing bath in the hot springs."
Mitsune had wanted to talk with Motoko while in the hot springs. Su and Shinobu had already left after a long soak. The sword-maiden had to appear yet. Now only Naru and Mitsune were reclining in the hot water. Naru was unusually quiet.
"What's on your mind, Naru?" Mitsune asked.
"There will be men here tomorrow. I was the only one, Haruka called by name, when she gave her warning. She's picking on me."
"There will be men here to do repairs, which need to be done." Mitsune said. "You know, where they will be, so it should be easy to avoid them. Haruka warned you, because she knows your temper."
"I can control my temper!" Naru protested.
Mitsune raised an eyebrow. "Even if that were true, most of the times, when it's about men, you don't seem to want to."
"All man are perverts. I'm just cautious."
"I remember that time when you punched the man on the tram for stumbling into you."
"He was trying to feel me up! He deserved it."
"He was what? Sixty or older? I was with you, remember? Some young punks pushed into the crowded tram and one of them shouldered the frail, old man out of the way. He only touched your shoulder to catch his balance. Was that reason enough to nearly break his jaw?"
"He shouldn't have touched me," Naru continued her protest.
"Face it, Naru, you overreacted. You punched him on reflex without considering the situation. Perhaps you feared some pervert would try to feel you up."
"Then they deserve to be punished. But that old man didn't deserve it. You made a mistake. Haruka is afraid you will make a mistake again. That's why she's so hard on you."
Naru said nothing. It was obvious she was thinking about Mitsune's words.
Mitsune leaned back. She had to leave the springs soon. Still no sign of Motoko.
"Naru, do you know where Motoko is?" she asked.
"She's training on the meadow behind the house."
"It's late and it's getting dark. Why is she still training?"
"I don't know," Naru said and shrugged. "I wonder where she finds the energy after the cleaning frenzy she forced us through today?"
"Motoko often trains longer, when something's troubling her."
"Then she must be really troubled. She never trained that long before." Naru raised her arm out of the water. "I'm shriveling. It's time to get out of the water."
"I'll stay a little bit longer." Mitsune nodded towards the tray with her sake bottle and cup.
Naru stood up and wrapped a towel around her. "Don't stay too long. Good night, Kitsune."
"Good night, Naru."
Mitsune filled her cup and held it in her hand, while the other girl left.
She had emptied her cup and waited for ten minutes, when Motoko appeared. Though the raven-haired girl was covered in sweat, she still hadn't regained her usual stoic posture. The girl looked troubled.
Motoko sat down on a low stool to wash. She methodically soaped and rinsed her body three times then she washed her hair two times. To Mitsune's surprise she started to towel off after that.
"Hey, Motoko" Mitsune called out. "Join me for a moment, please."
Motoko startled, realizing that she was not alone. Her eyes found Mitsune in the hot springs waving a hand at her. She waved back and sighed softly. She took a fresh towel and walked into the hot water. She sat down beside Mitsune.
"Kitsune," she said in greeting, "I didn't notice you. I thought I was alone."
"I noticed," Kitsune said with a wink. "What's troubling you?"
Motoko's eyes widened. The old Kitsune had been a lazy drunk, looking for fun and prone to stirring up trouble to relief her boredom. Though she had changed in the last months, Motoko hadn't noticed how perceptive she had become. She tried to buy time.
"What are you talking about?" she asked.
"You've been upset about something the whole day. You've thrown yourself into training, cleaning, and training again to distract you, but it doesn't seem to be working. What happened?"
Motoko considered her options. Kitsune would see right through her lies, if she tried that, and she didn't even want to lie. Telling her she didn't want to talk about it, would only kindle Kitsune's curiosity. Perhaps talking might be helpful. She hadn't to tell her the whole truth though.
"I had a bad dream tonight." Motoko confessed.
"Not really a nightmare,"
"But not a good dream?"
"It wasn't bad." Motoko blushed. "Urashima was in it."
Mitsune smiled. "Way to go, girl."
"Not that kind of dream, Kitsune! It was very strange and I woke up frightened and confused. That dream scared me."
"What happened in that dream?"
"I don't want to think about it. I tried all day to forget it."
"Don't think about a pink elephant."
"Did you just picture a pink elephant in your mind?"
"For a moment, yes."
"Same thing with your dream. The harder you try to forget it, the more you think about it. Talking might help."
"And satisfy your curiosity?"
"That, too. Mostly it might help you."
Motoko thought for a while.
"I don't want to go into details. In my dream Urashima paid me a compliment and I was so pleased that I purred. I woke up screaming in shock."
Motoko's face was beet-red.
"That must have been quite the compliment."
"It was," Motoko paused searching for the right word, "surreal. It scared me."
"It was a dream, Motoko. A girl likes it when a boy pays her a compliment. You're just not used to that. Think for a moment. Could such a situation happen in real life?"
Motoko frowned thinking hard. Certainly Urashima would never treat her like a dog. Though there was a forbidden thrill when she thought about him putting a leash on her and submitting her body to his will.
"Never!" she answered belated and louder than necessary.
Mitsune smiled. Now she understood what was going on.
"It will never happen in real life, so you are safe. Tell me, have you ever fantasized before?" Seeing Motoko's clueless look she continued. "You know, dreamed about being together with a boy and enjoying it?"
"No?" was Motoko's unsure answer.
"Isn't puberty fun? Such fantasies or dreams can be very enjoyable, because they are safe. As long as you don't try to enact them in real life."
Mitsune suppressed a snicker. While that could be fun too, Motoko needed to feel safe, not to get further aroused by her own fantasy.
"You know," Mitsune said, "you could write it down. Write down what's bothering you and get it out of your head. It works for me."
"I'm not a writer like you."
"Give it a try. You can burn your notes, if it doesn't help. Sometimes the burning helps."
Motoko relaxed. "I might do that."
The girls stayed for a while in companionable silence then they left the hot springs together.
The sun had only risen above the horizon a short while ago, when a large pick-up truck stopped in front of the Hinata stairs. Three man climbed out and looked up the stairs.
"You weren't kidding, Keitaro, when you told us about those stairs." a young man in an overall said. He was a head taller than Keitaro and had a deep voice.
"I did warn you, Ryuto," Keitaro said. "The stairs are only the first of the challenges today."
An older man, slightly paunchy and in an overall too, joined the two young men.
"Let's get started, boys. How are we getting our stuff up there?"
"We have to carry it," Keitaro said, "there's no other way. I thought each of us carries stuff up a third of the way. We make two stops, where we can put stuff down for the next carrier to pick up. I suggest you, Otomo-san, will do the first third, Ryuto the second, and I will carry things up to the Hinata's front door. Hopefully we'll be done with that in about two hours."
The master carpenter nodded. "Good plan. Let's get started. Grab some tools and materials to carry up. Move, boys!"
The boys moved.
"That was a grueling workout." Ryuto grinned.
He alone wasn't out of breath, while the two other men were panting.
"At least we have everything up here now," Keitaro gasped and wiped sweat from his forehead. "I never liked these stairs."
He looked at his watch. "It's after nine. The girls should be awake by now. Remember what I told you, they really don't like men. Be on your best behavior and don't take insult."
"How often are you gonna warn us of again?" Otomo asked. "They can't be that bad."
Keitaro shrugged. "You'll see."
He walked to the door and knocked.
Only moments later the door opened and Motoko Aoyama stepped out, the sheathed katana in her belt.
"Good morning, Aoyama-san. These are my friends, Otomo Masaki and his son Ryuto. They are carpenters and here to fix the deck and the stairs."
Motoko looked at the three men in overalls. Otomo was an old man to her. His son was a head taller than Urashima and met her eyes with polite curiosity. She returned her attention to Urashima.
"Good morning, Urashima-san. Haruka-sama told us to expect you. Please follow me."
She turned without waiting for an answer. The men grabbed supplies and walked after her.
On the way Otomo inspected the broken stairs and announced they'd repair the deck first. After looking over the deck and conferring with Keitaro about the repairs he had planned, the master carpenter announced:
"Let's get our stuff up here."
"Great. More carrying." Ryuto grumbled and turned to start.
"The girls know you are here," Motoko said, "they should stay out of your way. Should you need anything, please call for me."
"Thank you, Aoyama-san. We'll carry our tools and materials up now."
Loud hammering ripped Naru from her sleep. She went furious in a heartbeat. Then she remembered the carpenters. How dare they to make so much noise before my alarm clock goes off? Naru thought and looked at her alarm clock. 10:30. She blinked. The time stayed the same. It was supposed to go off at seven, why hadn't it? To her chagrin Naru saw that she hadn't set the alarm. She had been so exhausted after all the chores yesterday and she had been asleep when her head had touched the pillow.
Another burst of hammering shook her. She grabbed a sundress and put it on. She was going to give those ruffians a piece of her mind. Without further contemplation she left her room and rushed up to the deck.
She burst onto the deck and took in the scene. Most of the damaged boards had been removed by now and the first new ones had been put in place and were getting nailed down. She saw Keitaro and an older man hammering another board in place, while another tall man was removing one of the old boards. A slight wind caressed her face.
The next moment Keitaro was in front of her, his fingertips pressing her dress against her thighs. Naru gasped. He had moved so fast, she'd barely seen it. Now he was touching her. How dare he? She pulled her fist back to punish him.
"I wouldn't do that," he growled. Growled! "I don't think you came up here to give us a show!"
Naru blinked without understanding. "What?"
A gust of wind blew her dress up against Keitaro's fingertips.
"It's windy," he explained the obvious, "if I hadn't protected you, you would have unwillingly flashed your panties."
Naru blushed, finally understanding.
"Now, please put your hands down on your thighs, so I can remove mine."
Naru pushed her hands down and he removed his, before she could swipe them away. At once Keitaro took a step back. Another gust of wind blew up her dress against her hands.
"I apologize for touching you, Narusegawa-san." Keitaro told her, back to his normal voice. "I only did it to protect your modesty."
Motoko had left the stairs to the deck unguarded for only a few moments to take care of personal business. When she heard bare feet on those stairs she followed after them, an uneasy feeling in her stomach.
Upon entering the deck she saw Urashima standing in front of Naru, his hands touching her thighs. Her hand went to her katana's hilt. She had to defend her friend!
A large figure stepped into her line of sight. She looked up in the eyes of Ryuto Masaki.
"Now, what are you planning to do?" he asked in a gentle voice.
"Get out of my way! I have to protect my friend!"
"From Keitaro?" Unbelief was plain in the young man's voice. He shifted. "Then I have to protect my friend, too."
Motoko shifted, too. Something about his stance made her uncomfortable. Then it clicked. He had assumed a stance, a martial artist's stance!
Keitaro stepped up on Ryuto's right side.
"What are you two doing?" he asked, eyes on Motoko.
A moment later Naru appeared on Ryuto's left side, holding down her dress against another gust of wind.
"Yes, what are you doing, Motoko?" she asked.
Motoko took her hand of her katana's hilt. "I saw Urashima touching you. I wanted to defend you. He interfered."
"Oh." Naru blushed. "I'm sorry, but Urashima did only touch me to stop my dress from getting lifted by gusts of wind. He rightly assumed that would have embarrassed me. He apologized right after."
Motoko fought a blush of her own. She bowed. "I apologize, too. I overreacted. I'm very sorry. Please forgive me." She kept her head lowered.
"Hey, no harm done," Ryuto replied. "You're forgiven."
"Stop flirting and get back to work, boys!" Otomo called out. "Those boards will not repair themselves."
Now all four teenagers sported a blush. A few whispered apologies and good-byes later the girls retreated from the deck.
Motoko stopped at the foot of the stairs.
"I will stand guard here. No other girl should go up there."
"That's a good idea," Naru agreed, "undisturbed they might finish their infernal hammering sooner."
"It was a really bad idea to rush to the deck, Naru."
"Yes, I can see that now. I was so furious, because the hammering ripped me from sleep."
"We're lucky nothing bad happened."
"True. What were you thinking? You can't attack any unarmed males with your sword. Haruka will throw you out without a second thought."
"I didn't attack." Motoko sounded defensive.
"You were going to."
"The tall guy has some martial arts training. That threw me off long enough."
"He was ready to take you on? Impressive." Naru smiled.
"I don't want to be impressed. I want those males gone as soon as possible."
"As do I. I will clean up and then hit the books."
Naru closed her room's door behind her. She rubbed her thighs absently. She could still feel Urashima's burning touch there. Remembering the event she blushed again. It was a good thing, Urashima had behaved like a gentleman. Especially because she hadn't bothered to put on panties before rushing to the deck.
Keitaro used a short break to look at his fingertips again. They still tingled from touching Narusegawa's thighs. How could such a simple touch shake him so deeply?
"Keitaro, why didn't you tell us the girls here are model beautiful?" Ryuto asked and gave his friend's shoulder a friendly nudge.
"High praise coming from you," Keitaro teased back, "but they're way too young for you. I mostly noticed their attitude. But you're right, they are nice to look at."
"Do you have a favorite?"
"No," Keitaro rubbed his fingertips one more time. "I want this done and out of here as soon as possible."
"Okay, work first, play later."
"I don't play, mister playboy."
Ryuto chuckled. "Then let's work. You can flirt later."
The men worked until afternoon on the deck, before Otomo declared the job done. They took a break to consume the bentos Keitaro's mother had prepared and started repairing the stairs after that. Otomo salvaged the few useable materials. He did most of the work, while Ryuto and Keitaro helped where they could in that enclosed space. Otomo was in a good mood and both young men treasured the opportunity to learn from a master.
They had just finished cleaning up after them and packing their tools, when Motoko walked up to them.
"Urashima-san, do you have a moment, please?" she asked.
"Of course, Aoyama-san. The repairs are done." He turned to the carpenters. "Go down to the tea shop. Aunt Haruka told me, she expects us to visit her. I'll meet you there soon."
The two men grabbed their tool boxes and turned to go.
"We leave the last materials for you to carry down, Keitaro." Ryuto said. "Don't stay too long. Good-bye, Aoyama-san."
Motoko bid a polite good-bye and Otomo uttered a few words of farewell. Then she turned her attention to Keitaro.
"Follow me to the deck, please."
They were on the deck a minute later. Keitaro started to point out the repairs, but stopped, when Motoko tossed something at him. He caught it in surprise and found himself holding a bokken, a wooden training sword. Motoko held another one and she wasn't carrying her katana.
"What's this?" Keitaro asked.
"It's a bokken. Do you know how to use one?"
Keitaro shrugged. "I had some training years ago, but I never liked it."
"It's enough. I think a spar will help me get your measure."
"You could ask."
"Where's the fun in that? Protect yourself!"
Motoko held her bokken out in the basic double-handed grip.
Keitaro turned his bokken around in his right hand, so the blade was facing upwards along his arm.
"An inverted grip? You're not a beginner."
"This is a bad idea, Aoyama."
"First touch wins."
Motoko uttered the words and charged. Keitaro blocked her over-head slash with a raised arm. He stepped forward, his left hand shot out and his fingertips graced her stomach. Motoko jumped back.
"I touched you. I win."
"I meant first touch with a blade!"
She charged again. Keitaro turned into her slash to his left side and blocked, then continued his turn and jabbed at her from behind. Motoko barely dodged and Keitaro followed up with a frontal attack. She blocked and their blades crossed. Keitaro put more force behind his blade and Motoko had to hold on with both hands to keep him from advancing. Keitaro slanted his arm abruptly, Motoko lost her balance and had to take a step forward. Her blade slid off Keitaro's. His arm moved and his blade connected with her right temple gently.
"Touch. You're dead. I win again."
Motoko stepped back, breathing heavily.
"You said you didn't like it." she protested.
"I didn't like it. I didn't say I was bad at it."
Motoko surprised him again. She fainted.
Keitaro barely managed to catch her. He touched her forehead. Her skin was so hot, that he knew at once she had a fever. The girl should be in bed, not sparring in the cool evening air. He grumbled and carried her down the stairs.
"Help!" he called out on the second floor. He called out again.
Less than a minute later he was facing all the Hinata girls. The foreigner looked curious, the blue-haired chef scared, the fox-girl intrigued, and Narusegawa looked furious.
"What have you done to Motoko?" she demanded.
"I have done nothing to her. She fainted and I caught her. She has a fever. Where's her room?"
"Why do you want to know?" Narusegawa demanded again.
"I plan to carry her to her bed, because none of you looks strong enough to do that. Then I will leave her room and entrust her to your loving care. Or you could call a doctor."
"Her room's over there," the fox-like girl said and pointed. "We can discuss details later, Naru. Now caring for Motoko is our first priority."
She moved in front of Motoko's door, opened it, and stepped away.
"Put her on the futon, please."
Keitaro did as she asked.
The girl smiled at him. "Thanks for your help. Close the door from the other side. I'm going to make her comfortable and that's not for you to see."
Keitaro nearly stumbled in his haste to leave the room. He closed the door behind him. Then he leaned against the wall outside and took a deep breath.
Naru advanced on him with murder in her eyes.
"Tell us exactly what happened!" she demanded.
She emphasized her demand by putting her palm on his chest and pressing him against the wall. Keitaro grabbed her wrist to reduce the pressure. They both gasped. Naru snatched her hand away and retreated to the other wall of the corridor, putting as much distance between them as possible.
Keitaro's thought went a mile a minute. While he had felt nothing when he had carried Motoko around bridal-style, just the touch of Naru's palm against his chest had made his skin tingle. Holding her wrist had been their first skin-to-skin contact. The tingles happened there, but intensified, feeling like sparks, like a pleasant electrical pulse. Touching Naru did something to him. By the way she rubbed her wrist, it did something to her, too.
The door to Motoko's room opened and Mitsune looked out. She started to say something, stopped and took in the scene before her.
"What have you two been doing?" she asked, smirked, and added: "He hasn't tried to kiss you, Naru?"
"No!" both protested at the same time and blushed so heavily, it was cute.
Mitsune decided to ease the pressure on the two non-lovebirds.
"I've made Motoko comfortable. She has a fever and a slight cold, I think. Shinobu, could you please make some broth to feed her later? Su, please get two large bottles of water for Motoko. She should have enough to drink with her, when she wakes up later. I want to talk with Motoko before I call a doctor, so I will stay with her. Naru, could you stay with Motoko later?"
All the girls agreed and Shinobu and Su left for their tasks.
"What happened with Motoko?" Mitsune asked Keitaro then.
"We were done with the repairs. My friends left and Aoyama asked me to join her on the deck. I thought, she wanted to take a look at the repairs, but she tossed me a bokken and forced me into a spar. We sparred shortly, then she fainted."
"You sparred? I don't believe you. Where are the bruises?" Naru shouted.
"Keep it down!" Mitsune hissed. "Motoko's still asleep."
"I don't care what you believe," Keitaro said. "I didn't know she was ill or I would have declined." He looked at his watch. "I should be gone, before they start to search for me. Or do you need my help with anything?"
"We'll be fine. Thanks for your help." Mitsune said.
Naru looked as if she had a lot more to say, but she shook her head and continued to rub her wrist.
"Then I'll pick up the rest of our stuff and leave. Good-bye ladies."
Dying of embarrassment wasn't a possible way out, otherwise Motoko would have taken it happily. Waking up on her futon in the company of all the other girls hadn't been so bad, but then the memories had hit. She still couldn't believe how forward she had acted. It stung that she had lost so easily to Urashima. Finding out that she had a cold and had been of her game didn't really help. She had overextended herself yesterday and now she was paying the price. The girls fussing over her had been nice, until Su carried in her laptop and showed all of them the video-footage of what had happened. The banana-craving genius had hidden cameras everywhere and no idea of respecting personal space.
From the looks on the other girls' faces they were impressed by the spar and at least Shinobu had a dreamy expression on her face, when they watched Urashima carrying her bridal-style to her room. Motoko was kind of glad she'd been unconscious during that, even though she wondered a little what it might have felt like to be carried like that. The confrontation between Urashima and Naru was confusing, especially Naru's reaction to his touch. Most of all Motoko was confused if she should apologize to Urashima or demand a rematch. Probably both, in case she ever found the courage to talk with him again.
Keitaro pulled out his cell phone and used the speed dial.
"Hi sis, how's your school trip?"
He listened with a slight smile.
"I'm good. I've been working with the Masakis today. Listen, I think, it's time to take up my sword-training again."
He held the cell phone away at arm's length, so the happy squeal didn't destroy his eardrums.
"Calm down, Kanako. Once a week should be enough, and don't even think about live blades."
He listened patiently to her excited chatter.
"I have to fit it in my schedule. My studies have to come first. Yes, I'm looking forward to your return. Enjoy your trip and don't do something I wouldn't do."
He listened again and grinned.
"I mean it, sis. Be good or I wont find the time for sword practice."
Her protests were quite loud.
"Yes, I'm mean and you know it. Love you, too. Bye."