Disclaimer: Borrowing the characters, setting and scenery from the owners, any Original Characters that spawn from here are mine, tho probably inspired by others from other fandoms. I'm not making a red cent off this belligerent attempt at writing, so don't bother getting the lawyers. Comments and constructive critiques are always welcome and encouraged, flames and troll bait will be recycled for future use.
Before we start I want to give thanks to Ordo (sorry that I took your original idea and drove it so far off the intended course) and also to the great and injustice dispensing Lord Raa. Thank you both for your comments, questions, concerns and feedback. And now, on with the show.
A Plight of Fancy
Chap. 1 - This Could Really Be The Good Life
Karma, Dharma and other mystical qualities of the universe can be fickle lovers at times. Sometimes very caring and doting of people, often times cold and castigating. As many may attest to it, the old saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" rings true for paupers as much as it does for royalty.
Keitaro Urashima is undeniably a man of fortune, although the specific type and quality of said fortune is still under debate. Some say he's one lucky sonofa... although most people that know him and his circumstances just pity him and commend his soul to Amida Buddha in hopes of one day reaching enlightenment and/or paradise.
Although, things had started going more his way as of late. Recent good deeds he had realized for those close to him, since the start of summer, had borne the fruit of good fortune for him. His tenants (and young lady-friends) at the Hinata Dorm had not just warmed up to him, but had been more lenient and accepting of his accident prone self. His mentor and Tokyo University archaeology teacher Noriyasu Seta had offered him a chance of a lifetime, accompanying him to America as an assistant and help as his attache in archeological digs with pay and, most importantly, scholastic credits toward his degree in Archaeology.
After missing his first semester of superior studies due to medical reasons, he could not let this opportunity go. Regretfully, this meant he had to leave his friends and family in Japan for one full semester. His (unrequited) crush was the first (and loudest) to voice out her complaints about him leaving their makeshift little family; and while the other young ladies also voiced their reasons for not accepting his decision, they finally did let him leave on this grand adventure away from them.
Adapting to the American University life was a bit of a culture shock, but he eventually fit in better than most exchange students. The archaeological visits he was allowed to attend were limited to dig sites in the states of California, Washington, Montana, Colorado, Arizona and Texas, he felt richer for the overall experience: getting both to work and network with his American peers and teachers, and being able to garner additional support for his mentor during their periodic treks in search of ruins of the long lost Turtle civilization at beach-side locations.
During his off time, he had become somewhat popular fellow among the students of the anthropology and archaeology department at the University of California - Los Angeles campus, often enjoying the rowdy campus life during local sports events. And, more often than not, getting the chance to "study" the modern culture of the City of Angels, Sin City and other nearby cities with the help of new friends and colleagues.
Thanks to said new friendships, his sense of style had eventually matured some. While still mostly clothing himself with "geek-chic" attire during daily activities, he had branched out to both more utilitarian clothes for the digs and some high couture for his social outings. Some would say he took after his mentor; although the older gent favored the shirt and slacks combinations with a lab coat all the time, while the student saved those outfits for special occasions.
Regretfully, not all was champagne wishes and caviar dreams for the young ex-ronin. During one of said social outings, he had bumped into an acquaintance he had long forgotten about and would never expect cross paths again with, especially at a high class pub in uptown Los Angeles.
"Ka-Kanzaki-san... what a p-pleasant s-surprise bumping into y-you... in America" responded the nervous Japanese man; trying to keep a low profile while his friends gave him some space on what they believed was his first formal attempt at courting a very attractive young lady.
"Keitaro Urashima, my how time has flown" responded the nubile young lady. Baring long blonde curls and dressed in a tight fitting knee length skirt, with a silk blouse showing very pronounced cleavage; and followed by a slightly salacious smirk on her lips as she looked her prey up and down appreciatively. "I see the years have been VERY kind to you... and I'm so glad you ditched the coke bottle glasses, the new frames are very fetching."
"Just trying out something new, my prescription recently changed and my friends recommended I change it up a little." noticing his friends had either paired off or began their own conquests of the opposite sex, he was left to attend with his acquaintance.
"Yes, yes... remind me to thank them next time we get together, hmm?" leaning in for a friendly hug, she pressed her substantial assets against his chest while whispering in his ear softly, not unlike a selfish lover getting back together with an estranged beau "I knew biding my time would get me better results from you."
"Um... Kanzaki-san... not that I don't appreciate the attention... but" he gulped audibly as he tried to pull away from the seductive woman 'jeeze!, and I thought Kitsune asking for an extension on the rent was pretty blatant' "You shouldn't be so forward, especially in such a public setting"
"Why shouldn't I be? Besides..." pulling back slightly to wink at him playfully "Americans are MUCH more relaxed and uncaring about public displays of affection" then proceeding to pout so sickeningly sweet, some of the people looking at them would have felt their blood sugar go up "And didn't I tell you last time to call me by my given name?"
"Yes, Himawari-san..." he responded with a barely restrained, yet frustrated sigh 'I thought Granny and I had taken care of this issue… years ago.'
"It's been over six years Kei-sama" the end that suffix was infused with a little lust and longing "one would be lead to believe she was being ignored."
"No, no... I could never ignore you, Himawari-san, he, he" Pulling back a bit from him, she twirled around playfully and letting him get a good look at her. "You... You look fantastic!"
Preening at his undivided attention "I'm glad you STILL know how to pay a lady a complement" then waited on him to continue stroking her ego.
"I'm sorry I haven't been in contact lately, I've had to deal with family issues the last few years" he smiled back to the young lady apologetically while thinking 'I could really use another of Seta-san's Turtle Civilization digs... right about now'
"Indeed..." dismissing his excuse as small talk, she got down to brass tacks "since you are this side of the Pacific, should I be lead to believe you finally give up on that TouDai daydream and finally decided to live like the clan heir you are?"
"Actually... I did get in" wincing a bit as she seemed to bristle at his response "I'm currently working through an exchange student program" smiling back with a bit of confidence hoping she wouldn't dig into his story "What about you, Himawari-san what brings you to the City of Angels?"
"Moi?, Papa wanted me to accompany him around town and represent him at events and meetings, while he addressed other recent acquisitions..." she sniffed proudly "seriously, he should just let me take over the family business already!" then once again leaning into him and wrapping her arms around his neck possessively, indicating to any other female nearby that he was off limits. "But you know how old fashioned he is... he just won't let me take over until I'm happily married."
"Yeah... he is VERY traditional" pausing for a moment to take deep breath "but he IS a caring father that wants what's best for his daughter" nervously making face gestures at his friends to help him get away from her while she was distracted 'and what's best for YOU that should NOT be me!'
"You know Kei-sama... we could sneak out and have some quality time… together" she purred against his ear, edging him to take her up on her offer.
"I would love to accompany you, Himawari-san" she gulped nervously as she pulled back to look into his eyes, hoping he would accept her invitation and what it implied "regretfully… I'll be heading out of town early tomorrow morning to address some school business" sighing in mock regret as one of his friends made visible hand gestures as if they were leaving soon.
"Oh, Poo! Just as I had thought we could celebrate our Grand Reunion" sighing wistfully as she noticed his entourage getting ready to leave. "I guess I'll have to let you go THIS time, Kei-sama" only to get up close and personal and pecking him lightly on the lips. "Don't be a stranger!"
His only response was a curt nod to her, followed by him walking off with his friends as they left the locale.
The young lady sighed with slight frustration, only to break out a Machiavellian smile.
"You will be mine Kei-sama, Oh Yes... You WILL be mine".
The shade of a good tree can always help in reaching a nice peaceful vibe, especially if you need to cram for exams or just relax after being hit with news you would rather have not heard. Today though, Keitaro Urashima was using the cover to hide from acquaintances while working on redacting enough of what looked like the bastard child of a last Will and Testament and a Light Novel.
"Hey Kei!... hiding from your Super Model Stalker-Girlfriend again?" asked a young man as he and a group of his friends walked up to Keitaro.
"How many times do I have to repeat myself?" sighing as he looked up from his notes to greet his frat brothers mimicking his, by now, automatic response to the question. "She's not my girlfriend, Ben-san" only to earn groans from a few of them.
"Coulda fooled me Kei… I mean seriously" another friend in the group followed up with a proud pose of a fist raised to the sky "why are you NOT hitting THAT like the fist of an angry god? you should just let her drag you off to God knows where and let her have her way with you" earning a few raised eyebrows.
"Don't let Nicole-san hear you say stuff like that Mike-san, or you'll be in the dog house for another month" countered Kei, earning a few laughs from his frat brothers and a few of the female students nearby suddenly interested in the popular exchange student.
"BUUUUUURN!" followed by a fist bump from Ben "Anyway, you ready for this weekend's Turtle hunting session?"
"That's THIS weekend?" seeing nods from some of his peers he whined "Craaap! I've been so busy lately with mid-terms that I forgot to sign up!"
"Oh come on Kei, like Professor Seta won't hook up his prized pupil" earning a teasing smirk from Mike.
"Hey! I've never asked for preferential treatment, besides" earning Keitaro quiet smiles from nearby faculty members that happened to overhear the conversation among the archaeology students "it wouldn't be fair to the rest of the class that have missed out on the sessions"
"That's only because they eventually turn into beach parties by sunset." retorted Ben with a knowing smile, then noticing as some of the frat brothers had begun walked off to their courses "We're still on for Nate's party tonight, right?"
"Definitely, I'll have the cake ready by the time he gets in from his team practice" waving off the remainder of the group, going back to his report and annotations.
The past six weeks had been somewhat demanding on Keitaro's nerves, as soon as he had a free moment from in between school courses or while chatting up colleagues at social events or other professional gatherings; one Himawari Kanzaki would unexpectedly appear before him to smother him with her charms, attention, sometimes very noticeable Public Displays of Affection.
The young woman in question was in her early twenties, she loved showing her off fair skin, often running her fingers through her waist long blonde curls, winking her crimson red eyes and proudly sashaying the hips on a body that just wouldn't quit. While he was as hot blooded as the next guy, he believed that giving into the crown jewel of the Kanzaki Zaibatsu would somehow be worse than the past three years of 'penance' under a certain group of mostly-model beautiful girls living at an Inn turned Dorm in the Hills of Kanagawa, Japan.
"Hey! Part-Timer! I finally found you!" came the happy voice of Keitaro's mentor as he walked up to the aforementioned tree, an almost trademark cigarette hanging from his lips "Not that I'm complaining or anything, but I've noticed you've been signing up for more and more site expeditions lately..."
"Ah! Seta-san, yeah..." looking up to the older gent, seriously considering bumming a cancer stick off of him to blow off some stress "just... taking advantage of the extra credits and practical experience they offer."
"Ah, gotcha..." noticing his disciple's slightly nervous body language he decided to lighten up the mood "for a moment there, I thought you were running away from an angry ex-girlfriend or something."
Curious of his mentor's words echoing his frat brothers' earlier comments; he looked around the quad and noticed a couple of students and faculty members from earlier were still loitering not far from him. Dropping his voice to a whisper, he commented in his native language "Are they… keeping tabs on me?... this feels like back in eighth grade."
Following up his movements with a yawn and a stretch, he went back to his notes now brandishing a highlighter and going through various paragraphs writing annotations while he responded to his Sensei in English at a normal volume. "I'm just finishing up a few reports before handing them in."
"Your grades are fine," taking a drag off his smoke and recalling their schedules during this international trip "semester finals are more than two months away and from the looks of it, you've become the Go-To guy to borrow notes from, amongst the students of the Archaeology department"
"Har-dee har-har!" he responded to the light jab at his scholastic abilities. "I guess all that cramming to get into TouDai with Naru finally became useful" shuffling some paperwork, leaving a sheet of paper with scribbled notes next to him. "I honestly didn't expect to have such a great time while on this exchange program, I really appreciate the favor"
"It's the least I could do for you, after helping Haruka and I get back on speaking terms" smiling at a memory not long ago at a hotel near one of the beaches in Japan. "Don't tell me you're missing home and the family?"
"Maybe?... " mulling over his answer while he started putting away his notes "the people here have been very helpful, accommodating and very cool in general." hoisting up his book bag and standing with an honest smile "With how popular I seem some days, I could get used to this!" making his teacher drop his cigarette in surprise at his frank response.
"Don't get a big head Mister Urashima... that's what college life is like" shaking his head with a content smile "wait until you start working, you'll start missing these halcyon days".
"Or once I get back to the Hinata-sou!" laughing at their personal joke while preparing to head off to his last class of the day. "I heard there's a full roster for another Turtle Civilization ruin visit off Santa Monica this weekend, are there any last moment openings for that?"
"The beach visits are ALWAYS popular, but you know I always have you on the VIP list" making shooing motion with his hands "now get going or Jackson-sensei is going to mark you tardy!"
Whispering back in Japanese once he was in earshot "Don't forget to pick up your cigarette, You wouldn't want a fire to break out" then waving his good byes as he walked off proper "I'm going, I'm going... at least his course on hieroglyphs isn't boring."
Shaking his head, the Japanese sensei kneeled to pick up his half burnt cigarette, noticing the well dressed ladies had disappeared moments after his disciple did, noticing a stray piece of paper on the ground under the tree, pocketing it quickly he headed off to his temporary office to tend to other paperwork.
Hours later, at a penthouse apartment not far from UCLA, Himawari Kanzaki was lounging in front of a giant monitor showing edited videos taken long ago of family celebrations at home, while noshing on spoonfuls of Haagen-Dazs cherry vanilla ice cream. "Oh Kei-sama... you were always such a cutie, I love how good you've always been at playing hard to get" on screen a little girl with curly golden blonde hair appeared, playfully brandishing an ink brush while chasing after a frantic little brown haired boy with more than a few X's and O's painted on his face.
Moments later she turned off the display as a young lady in a form fitted and tailored butler suit walked over to her. "The dossier on Urashima-sama is still being updated as per your instructions, Ojou-sama. The research team provided this condensed version while they fact check content from the past three years that seemed to have inconsistencies in the reports the people questioned."
The blonde heiress was giddy with delight as she was presented with a folder with various pictures of her beloved and other redacted documents. "This will do for now Stella, but inform them a bonus will be paid they are able to find some REALLY juicy gossip."
Himawari's steward and personal attendant nodded as she checked an incoming text message. "SP team informs the subject has arrived at his frat house with two cases of soda, various boxes of cake mix, assorted party favors and a couple of boxes of Thin Mint girl scout cookies... should we continue to monitor?"
"I miss his Death by Chocolate Cake" she bit a nail as another memory of hers re-surged, although partially soured by his playing hard-to-get moments after she had arrived at his Secondary School on the Valentines day of his third year. While she was saddened that she could not present him with a token of her love, the cake he had left for her (or so she claimed) was magnificent and befitting one of her stature. "Anything else happen to MY Kei-sama today, Stella?"
After a few moments of scrolling through various texts on her cell phone, "just his usual attendance of school courses, networking with colleagues and roughhousing with the other tenants of his frat house" the female butler then added "although he was seen speaking to his mentor and confirming a spot at their periodic beach side events, this weekend in Santa Monica" omitting how the young man seemed to have seemingly berated his teacher for littering.
"Excellent! tell the girls to take the night off..." she almost skipped into her walk in closet once she heard the last tidbit of news "make that the weekend off... with pay!" followed by her trying decide which two piece bikini and sarong combination she would wear to attract and maintain her beloved's attention 'he's just too focused on playing archaeologist in the sand these days'.
"Your Father explicitly said to remember the Board of Trustees soiree on Saturday night in Beverly Hills, formal attire is expected."
"Awww... I really don't want to attend that stuffy party" she pouted and flailed for a bit, after which an idea came to her as she walked over to the cocktail dresses section, her attention specifically on the selection of Little Black Dresses ."Tell Papa to see about ensuring an additional seat... I WILL MAKE sure Kei-sama WILL be escorting me that evening, I'm sure we can get him a nice suit if he needs one at the last minute."
Stella nodded quietly, she was silently glad the young man that had the Ojou-sama's attention seemed like more of a boy scout and a saint, if a bit plain. 'At least she's not chasing down one of those wannabe pretty boy singers most of her peers seem to be into this year' considering her mistress' quirks, there may be no rhyme or reason on her fixation toward this young man. 'What Himawari-sama wants, Himawari-sama gets.'
That evening, as he pulled out his almost empty packet of cigarettes, Seta noticed Keitaro's note and began to read. "Okay... lets see what we got here" the note was written down as a simple "TO DO list", with a few items check marked off, while some of the pending ones were in big block print, Seta couldn't help himself and read out loud all the pending items.
"Pick up Dry Cleaning... Sumbit mid-term paper to Jones-sensei... Buy more SURGE sodas for the roomies... Try to get tickets to Seattle Mariners exhibition game (Go Ichiro!)... Send thanks email to Grant-sensei and Sattler-sensei about recent class on Dinosaur fossils... Bake birthday cake for Drake-kun..." snickering at some of the habits his student had picked up from and shared with the locals.
"Call home (report in)..." blinking confused at that last bullet point "eh, he probably hasn't checked in lately... aaaand he won't mind me passing on the rest of the messages." With a foxy grin on his face, he went ahead and dialed up the Hinata Tea House, hoping to reach his long time friend and ex-girlfriend.
Mustering up some courage, he put on airs as he heard the phone answer on the other end "Hello Beautiful!"
"What? I can't call you in the middle of the day anymore?"
"Oh! Then I'm glad I missed the lunch rush!"
"Yeah, he's actually doing pretty good" smiling at how easily Keitaro had made friends and networked with his own colleagues "Mr. Popularity is making up for those three years locked up" teased the scruffy man as he light up a new cigarette.
"No, not that I'm aware of... although I heard some of his roomies tease him about avoiding a pretty girl that's been hanging around him lately."
"Um... a few weeks" a thought came unbidden to his mind, shaking his head at the coincidence "about the same time as he started taking on more projects"
"Seems like he really wanted to talk to Granny about a..." looking at the note he read out loud the bolded and underlined word "Sunflower"
"Haruka?... talk to me, I know you're still pissed about us, but don't keep me out of the loop this time" taking a long drag as he listened carefully to his ex.
"Yeah, I remember… Wait, you mean HER?" stubbing out his cigarette as he started to take down notes.
"He's made a good group of friends here that keep him out of trouble..."
"Don't worry, I'll still keep an eye on him..."
"Tell Sarah I miss her... I miss you too."
Hanging up the call, he tossed his now empty pack of cigarettes into a waste basket and headed to the local convenience store while thinking out loud "you sure know how to pick'em, Part-timer!"
Noun. A situation, especially a bad or unfortunate one. See synonyms of predicament.
Archaic usage. A solemn promise, especially of engagement; pledge.
Verb. To give into marriage.