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THE KISS THAT NEVER WAS: Part 3
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THE KISS THAT NEVER WAS
Part 2: Chapters 11 to 15
(MF, Mf, humor, rom, fanfic, harem, OM, OF, slow, no sex)
Written by Spacer X (paul_t_22@yahoo.com)

Chapter Eleven: The Dirty Deed

Morning light poured into Mitsune's room. Keitaro drifted back into conscious. He felt content. Very content. Lying here, with a pair of soft breasts poking into my chest and a pair of legs wrapped over mine, is a GREAT way to wake up.

L egs!?! Breasts?!? His eyes popped open and his mind slammed into full consciousness.

"Good morning, Keitaro." Mitsune's face was about two inches from his, and her body was draped all over him.

"AAAAIIIIIIEEEEEEEE!" If it weren't for the fact that it was pinned down, Keitaro's body would have gone flying off in a random direction and ricocheted off the walls. As it was, all he could do was scream, which he began to do again. "AAAAIIIIIIE..."

Mitsune cut the sound off by placing her hands over his mouth. "Calm down, Keitaro, you don't want everyone to come running in here, do you? As it is, I took the precaution of securing the door, but still..." Mitsune thought again to herself how lucky it was that nobody had overheard them last night. She took all the precautions she could think of, but living at the inn was like living in a fishbowl.

Keitaro barely heard her words. His mind was heading off a thousand different directions at once. What the hell happened? Where am I am? What did I do? Unable to get free from under Mitsune, he decided his best course of action was to lie still as a stone until he could figure out what was going on. He closed his eyes.

"Think, Keitaro, think!" he muttered to himself. He lay there for who knows how long, and slowly pieced things together. He began to recall what happened the night before, which caused an involuntary reaction in him down below. That isn't helping my concentration at all! He finally opened his eyes, and spoke.

"Oh my God. So I've... So we've... I've... You!... Me!... We...!!!" He grasped for words, but they weren't coming out coherently. He looked into Mitsune's face, still so close to his. She was wearing a patient and very happy smile. She was letting him take his time.

Finally, she said, "I figured a total morning freak out like this would happen. You're so pure. Just relax. It's okay. I'm here." She grasped him tighter, and planted a quick kiss on his cheek.

She continued to soothe him: "What happened happened. Everything will be fine."

His mind was still reeling, but his heart and body were slowly beginning to calm down. He decided he should try to only think of one thing at a time, slowly, if he was going to make any sense of things.

Mitsune. Me. We had sex. Last night. Those thoughts right there were way more than his mind was ready to comprehend.

After giving him more pause, Mitsune said, as if reading his mind, "Yes, we had sex last night. And it was great! People do this all the time; it's really not that big a deal. In fact..." - her hand reached between his legs - "Judging from this, it looks like you still desire more satisfaction?"

Keitaro began to scream "AAAAIII", but Mitsune quickly covered his mouth with her hand again.

"I take it the answer is no," she smiled. "Please forgive me. I'm such a tease with you, that I couldn't resist saying that." She took her hand from his face.

But even though she backed off, her action set off another frenzied thought in Keitaro's overheated brain. It's all right there, right on top of me! All the female body parts that I've been punched and kicked for touching so many times, they're right in front of me! I can touch them as much as I want, and no one's going to kick me! But Keitaro didn't move a muscle. He was having a hard time realizing what happened the night before was real, and still couldn't believe his current situation either.

Mitsune decided he was calm enough, relatively speaking, for her to speak more. "I have a secret to tell you. The fact..."

Suddenly, she stopped. She heard the sound of footsteps coming down the hall. It continued until someone was standing outside her door in the hallway. She put her hand back on Keitaro's mouth, and raised a finger to her own mouth, making the signal to be quiet.

"Hello, Mitsune-san? Are you awake? I thought I heard some screaming. Are you okay?"

It was Motoko's voice. Oh shit, thought Mitsune. If Keitaro makes a sound now, we'll both be cut into little pieces, no doubt. Luckily, he's frozen in fear. What to do, what to do...

"Urrgghh..." Mitsune cried out in a pained and weary voice. "Is that you, Motoko? Thanks for asking. I just woke up from a bad nightmare. I've got a hangover from hell, too. I think I'm just gonna lay here and slowly die. Thanks for your concern. See you later!"

Motoko responded, "Okay. Sorry to bother you, but it was just such a strange sounding scream. If you need anything, just let me know. And please, try to lay off the bottle." Motoko began to walk off, then stopped. "Oh by the way, have you seen... No, of course you haven't. Never mind." Mitsune finally heard the sounds of Motoko walking away, and breathed a big sigh of relief.

Mitsune still held her hand over Keitaro's mouth, making absolutely sure the coast was clear. His eyes looked like they would completely pop out of his head at any moment. She pondered what Motoko had said. Obviously with that last bit, she was looking for Keitaro. It's probably time for them to start their morning kendo practice. Trouble's coming, if he doesn't show up there soon. And no way is he in any shape to do that today.

Did she suspect he was in here, is that why she was asking that? No, she couldn't have. If she had such a suspicion, she would have slashed right through the paper walls with her sword. Or at least made some excuse to come in and look around. I'm really in for it now! Thank heavens for the aphrodisiac excuse . She listened closely for Motoko, but the halls were still silent.

She straddled her body over Keitaro even more to keep him pinned down, and said to him, "Alright, I'm going to remove my hand from your mouth. Do you promise not to scream?" He nodded, and kept his word.

She whispered, "Keitaro, as I was about to say, there's an important secret I have to tell you. You're not responsible for last night, and I'm not either. Well, not totally, anyways. You see, that tea we both drank last night contained an aphrodisiac. Our minds turned off, and our bodies took over. It could have happened to anyone."

Mitsune told the rest of the story about the aphrodisiac. But in the version she told him, she made it appear that she only had the vaguest idea that Suu had created a batch of aphrodisiac tasting like tea, and then placed it in the refrigerator. She was only just figuring it out now, she explained.

Keitaro nodded dumbly and accepted everything she said without question. At that point, she could have told him that she was actually a giant hamster from outer space, and he would have believed it just as readily.

Finally, he spoke. "I'm sorry, Mitsune, it's not your fault, it's my fault. I should never have agreed to come to your room alone at such an hour. I don't deserve to live." He began to quietly cry.

She grabbed his chin. "Buck up, okay? Look, there's nothing to be apologizing about. Aphrodisiac or not, I was glad to have sex with you. And you can't say you didn't enjoy it either. We're just two consenting adults who had sex, right? It happens every day."

"Bu-bu-but, what if I got you pregnant?" he stammered out.

She grabbed his hand and guided it until it closed over a box near the side of her bed. "You remember these from last night? Condoms. A woman of the world like me always has some of these stored away."

At that point, he noticed also that his nose felt funny. He reached for it, and realized that he was wearing nose plugs. "Yes, nose plugs," said Mitsune, again following his train of thought. "The way you were going last night, if I didn't happen to have those, you probably would have bled to death."

Keitaro responded, "You thought of everything." That's all he could think to say for the moment. He had stopped crying, for now.

"I'm a resourceful woman. We did nothing wrong. There's nothing to be ashamed about. You don't have a girlfriend, and I don't have a boyfriend."

"Narusegawa!" Keitaro blurted out. He began crying in earnest.

"She is not your girlfriend," sighed Mitsune, irked at herself for mentioning that name. "I know she told you she wants to be 'just friends.' I'm not your girlfriend either, unless you want me to be. I will not be offended if you don't want to touch me again. If you still want to pursue her, then so be it. What happened last night won't change that.

"I would be happy being your girlfriend, if that's what you want. I would really like that. But you don't have to decide that now. The one problem that we have, that you should be concerned about, is that most everyone else in Hinata Inn wants to be your girlfriend, too. If you don't handle their reaction to this properly, some people are going to be very, very hurt."

"Girlfriend? Who wants to be my girlfriend?" he asked semi-hysterically. He was not the most observant person in the world when it came to these things.

"Everyone, dummy! Me, Mutsumi, Motoko, Suu, Shinobu. And please don't ask me about Naru, I could write a book about that story."

"That's not true, there's no way..." I was just starting to get used to the idea that I had sex with Kitsune last night, and now she tells me this?!? I can only take so much! His brain was so overheated, it was surprising smoke didn't start pouring out of his ears.

Mitsune went on, "I'm not asking you to believe this now, okay? Just think about it. And please keep your voice down. Motoko-chan almost made you into Keitaro shish kebob just now. What you really need to do is take some time off, and go think about these things for some time, BEFORE you tell anyone else here what happened. You get that?"

He nodded.

"Good. Now the first thing we need to do is get you out of this room, before someone discovers you here. That is, unless you want another go round?"

Mitsune, still pressing on top of Keitaro, began running her hands over his body. Keitaro shut his eyes tight and went completely stiff all over.

"No? I guess not. I'm just teasing you, still. Don't worry, I'm not going to bite you! Or maybe I will - that sounds like fun, heh-heh. However, I can see you're not in a playful mood. But remember that if you want to do what we did again, I'll be here. No commitment necessary; I just want to be with you. I'll let you go now, but at least grant me this."

She planted her lips on his and kissed him passionately. It was a one-way kiss though - Keitaro was still in too much shock to respond.

"Geez, I think kissing someone in a coma would be more fun," she shook her head. "But don't worry, you were good enough last night." She gave him an affectionate kiss on the cheek. "Now, let's smuggle you out of here."

Chapter Twelve: Who Could Love Me?

Keitaro sat on a hill overlooking the Hinata Inn. There had been no trouble getting Keitaro out of Mitsune's room. Mitsune stood as the look out, and then whisked him out of the inn in less than a minute. He left having to wear the same clothes he had on the night before. But Mitsune took a change of clothing out of his room and delivered it up to him on the hill. She smuggled the old clothes back into the inn, noting with amusement that now he was too shy to change in front of her.

It was a normal, sunny, summer morning. Everyone was out doing their usual things, and no one appeared to have the slightest suspicion of what happened. Mitsune also told Motoko that Keitaro couldn't show for the kendo practice because he had to run some urgent errands and that he might not be back to the inn until later. Motoko didn't seem to mind, or think anything suspicious of it.

So everything was fine, for now. Keitaro was up on a hill and not at his favorite contemplation spot, the roof the Hinata Inn, because of the chance someone could find him there. But he knew his seclusion was the calm before the storm, and just delaying the inevitable. Things were likely to explode as soon as he returned to the inn and began opening his mouth.

Keitaro had most of his wits back about him now. Thank goodness for Mitsune's quick thinking. Damn, she's clever . If it were up to me, I probably would have gone running and screaming out of her room. I wouldn't have even had the sense to throw on some pants, and would have been running naked down the halls. Everyone would have woken up, and I can't even imagine what would have happened next, but it would have been bad. Lots of flying fists and missiles, I'm sure. I probably would have ended up on this hill, but not by walking!

<Sigh> I'm such an idiot. It's remarkable I can tie my shoes without someone helping me. Is what Mitsune said really true? That's completely impossible. I have no understanding whatsoever why any of them would like me, much less be in love with me!

...-

Keitaro sat on the hill for several hours, just thinking. Two o'clock in the afternoon rolled by, and still his thoughts kept going round and round in the same mental circles. He felt like he was floating, just like the clouds he stared at endlessly. The last time he'd felt so detached and lost was that fateful day between him and Narusegawa, not that long ago. It seemed this had all happened to someone else, on another day. He kept flipping between exultation and guilt about what happened the night before.

His self-esteem had been so crushed by his fallout with Naru that the idea of other women being in love with him was completely staggering. He finally decided to look at Mitsune's idea that others were in love with him head on, and began running through the possibilities.

Suu? In love with me? No way, completely impossible. She's just a kid.

Shinobu? Also completely impossible. Yes, she's very protective of me, and has very strong feelings towards me, but those are like the feelings of a young sister towards an older brother. Like Suu, they're both too young and naïve to even understand what romantic love is. He made a little dig at himself: Not that I'm the big expert!

I don't know what's going to happen with Suu, but with Shinobu, it could get bad. She's so fragile. She'll probably cry and cry, and then blame Mitsune. Maybe it is better that we don't tell her the full story of what happened...

Oh, but the lies already! I'm already lying to Motoko. She thinks I'm out running errands. And if she had found us in bed together? He shuddered and reflexively protected his head with his arms. I have to be honest with her. But what will her response be? Could she be in love with me?

Putting his arms down, he contemplated his previous kiss with Motoko from a few months before. He thought about the forced wedding that came so close to happening, and some of her comments back then, such as the way she said, "Keitaro, would marrying me really be so bad?" He thought about the increasing amount of time they spent together.

Okay, its time to admit it. Yes, she could be in love with me. With her background and personality, she may just not express love the way other people normally do. If she says something like to me like "I don't hate you," that means a lot, coming from her. So, assuming for a moment that's true, the bigger question is: do I love her?

He turned the idea over and over in his mind. Yes. Yes, I do. The fact is, I agreed to marry her immediately back then, and without thinking. And I would do it again. Our relationship isn't a typical one, but I feel very strongly for her. And not just as friends. She's does her best to hide it, but she's incredibly beautiful. And that outer beauty is the radiation of her inner beauty.

But that's not the whole story. We're very different. I don't know how to express my affection, and neither does she. Maybe we're not meant for each other. I'm not at ease around her, even now. Certainly not the way I feel at ease around someone like Mutsumi.

His mind switched gears again. There's a whole other issue! Is Mutsumi in love with me? Yes. That's one thing I can believe; she's very open about it. And yet, despite that, I still feel extremely comfortable around her, even though her ways are a bit of a mystery. We have so much in common - maybe we're destined for each other! Even though she wasn't the girl of my childhood promise.

Which brings me to Narusegawa. Could she be the one for me? Does that even matter anymore? My feelings are the strongest for her, but she doesn't love me in return. I've tried everything, but nothing seems to work. It seems like we're cursed. And she was very clear: 'just friends.' I just have to keep trying to harden my heart to her. It'll be hard though. When she comes back, what will I say about what happened between Mitsune and me? This will confirm all her accusations of me being a pervert, and she'll never talk to me again! In fact, she's Mitsune's best friend. Will the two of them even talk to each other, again? Did I just destroy their friendship?

I'm sorry, Mitsune! Why did we have to make love? Curse that aphrodisiac!

What about Mitsune as a girlfriend? It wasn't just the aphrodisiac - she says she wants to be my girlfriend. And last night certainly was a highlight of my life. Or at least I gather it was - I don't really remember a whole lot. I would do that again in a heartbeat, if I had the courage, and if it wasn't for the implications, which make things so impossible.

So I lust after Mitsune, there's no doubt about that. She has a body to die for. But love? I don't think I love her, and I don't think I ever really will, in that way. I don't really think she truly loves me, either. We're just too different from each other. I think that when she talked about being a girlfriend, she's confusing lust for love. Why she would lust for me I don't understand either. It must be because I'm the only male around.

Thank you grandma! Being manager of the Hinata Inn is by far the greatest thing that ever happened to me. I've gone from a total nobody with women to someone the most beautiful women in Japan are fighting over! If my friends could see me now, they would never believe it!

But the question is, how will I respond to this opportunity given? I have to make a choice, and soon, or else it will be bad for everyone. The choice has to be between Motoko and Mutsumi. Thank you, Mitsune, for making me a man, a real man! I will never forget you and what happened last night. I see what you mean now - I'm not going to be ashamed about sex. But it's between you, Motoko, and you, Mutsumi, that I have to choose, if Narusegawa doesn't want me.

Mental images of all those women flew around in his head, and again he could barely believe what a lucky man he was to be so close to such beautiful, wonderful women.

Grandmother, please grant me the wisdom to make the most of the opportunity you gave me, and make the right choice. I'm not ready yet, and if Narusegawa were to change her mind, I would fall apart. But that's for another day. Now, I have to go back down to the inn and do my best to make things right. Keitaro got up and headed down the hill.

Chapter Thirteen: The Fallout Begins

Back at the inn a few hours earlier and just after Keitaro left, Mitsune also found herself troubled. I have to pat myself on the back. I played that like a genius, and I got what I wanted. But it was all so dishonest! I tricked Suu, I tricked Keitaro, and I tricked Motoko! If I keep on tricking people, I won't be able to look anyone here in the eye. It's time to contain the damage and break it to everyone gently. While Keitaro is sorting himself out, I need to take the initiative and talk to the others. No doubt, he'd try his admirable best to explain things to them, but he's just too honest and pure to know when to tell a white lie, or be clever with his words.

She went off to find Motoko. If only because of a desire to keep her head attached to her shoulders, it was important to get things straight with Motoko first. Mitsune waited until Motoko finished her morning kendo practice and showered.

Mitsune knocked on Motoko's door. "Motoko, are you in?"

"Yeah, sure, just getting ready for lunch. Please come in."

Mitsune walked into the room, but didn't say anything. Motoko still wore the simple kimono she stepped out of the shower with, and Mitsune wore a nondescript t-shirt and slacks. Mitsune ran her hand through her hair and pondered what to say, now that it actually came to it.

"Motoko-chan? Can I ask you a favor?"

"Yes, what is it?"

"I have something very serious to discuss. Can I ask you put your sword away, and promise me that you won't attack me or anyone else, or do anything drastic, until you've heard all that I have to say?"

"Certainly. Violence should always be the last resort, and I can't imagine what you could possibly say..." They both sat down on the floor and faced each other.

"Motoko, I know that you're in love with Keitaro."

Motoko immediately and hotly replied, "I am NOT!"

"Listen to me Motoko, I'm trying to be serious and honest to you. I can see things. It's obvious. You don't have to worry - I will keep it our secret. But can't you admit that you're in love with him?"

Silence followed. Motoko just looked at the floor. Finally she said, "Why are you asking me this?"

"I take it then from your lack of denial that it's true. I'm bringing it up because it's important to the news I'm trying to tell you."

Motoko looked at Mitsune with sudden concern. "Did something happen to Keitaro?!?"

"No, it's nothing like that. Instead, what I want to say is that I'm in love with him too."

Motoko gasped.

"However, I understand that my love for him is not as pure or strong as your love for him. I've used my female charms and conniving to get close to him, but you don't think in that same kind of way. That's why I'm saying now, that, if it were to come down to him loving you or me, I will step aside and let him chose you. I really mean that, and I'm not just saying that. It's also important to understand that I don't believe he is in love with me. He responds to my teasing with lust, as any man naturally would, but that's not the same as love. Do you understand all that I've said?"

Motoko looked Mitsune intensely into her eyes. She slowly nodded.

"Which is why it pains me to say what I have to say next." She paused.

"Last night, both Keitaro and I accidentally drank some aphrodisiac. It was nobody's fault. It's a long story I can explain later. Suu made some aphrodisiac that actually works. That's what she was busy doing all day yesterday. But the result is that he and I got romantically passionate last night."

Motoko stood up. If looks alone could kill, Mitsune would have been struck from the world of the living right then. Motoko reached for her sword at her side, but it wasn't there. She balled her hands into fists and grimaced. "How passionate?" she growled, teeth clenched.

"Very passionate," Mitsune responded, as delicately as she could manage. "As passionate as two people can be."

Motoko covered her head with her hands, and then fell to the ground.

Mitsune pressed on. "But remember, it was the aphrodisiac. Keitaro didn't take advantage of me. If anything, I took advantage of him. I had been drinking a lot already. And look, I don't think this will ultimately affect your chances with him. Yes, I would like him to be my boyfriend, but I've always been a long shot, probably the longest shot. He loves you much more than he loves me."

Motoko, still cradling her head in her hands, began to cry. "Love! Don't talk to me about love. That's not true! I hate that word! I hate you, and I hate him!"

Mitsune tried to touch Motoko's shoulder, but she was roughly brushed away. "Don't comfort me! Go away! Leave me alone!"

Mitsune nonetheless pressed on. "Hate me, but please don't hate Keitaro. He did nothing. Any male, alone with Suu's powerful aphrodisiac and a flirtatious woman, would have done the same thing. In a way, this could be a good thing for you. Keitaro is now sitting on a hill by himself, and pondering what this all means. He didn't have any errands - I just sent him away so he could get his thoughts together. Right now, he's trying to figure out whom he really loves, and who loves him. It may be that he decides that it's you that he really loves, over everyone else."

Motoko pulled her head up, and turned towards Mitsune in fury. "No, that's a lie! You're just saying that to make me feel better. He could never love me! I'm unlovable! Nobody loves me!" She collapsed again and resumed crying.

Mitsune continued, "Honestly, I think Keitaro is confused, and doesn't know who he loves. His problem is that he has different women to choose from, and he loves them all. But certainly, he loves you very strongly. It's up to you to act. If you act decisively, then you dreams may come true. If you don't, then someone like me will steal him away. It's only fair that I give you that chance, before I do anything more."

"Dreams?" Motoko sobbed. "How did you know about my dreams? Leave me alone! Go now! Go!"

Mitsune got up and quietly left the room.

Chapter Fourteen: Trouble With The Truth

Mitsune roamed the hallways of the Hinata Inn, thinking about her confrontation with Motoko. That actually went better than I thought it would, she mused to herself. All the parts of my body are still attached, for one thing. And I was afraid someone would be attracted to all the yelling, but I guess we got lucky. Now I need to find Suu and talk to her alone. She's gonna be pissed when she finds out I used her aphrodisiac without asking, so I'll have to talk to her before Keitaro does. With Shinobu and Sara, it's probably best that Keitaro tells them as much or as little as he thinks they're ready for. She walked off towards Suu's jungle garden.

Little did Mitsune know, but the scene with Motoko did not go unobserved. Shinobu was in the kitchen preparing lunch when she heard yelling coming from Motoko's room, and ran there to find out what was happening. She arrived just as Mitsune was saying, "Right now, he's trying to figure out whom he really loves, and who loves him. It may be that he decides that it's you that he really loves, over everyone else."

She clutched the wood paneling of a wall just beyond Motoko's so tightly that it seemed she would crush it in her hands. She just barely managed to duck out of sight right when she heard Motoko say, "Leave me alone! Go now! Go!" She stumbled into a supply closet, and found herself in total darkness.

Shinobu was devastated. It was as if someone had stuck a dagger into her chest and ripped her heart out. Sempai? He loves Motoko? What happened between him and Motoko?!? Something not good - she was very sad. And what was this Mitsune said about, 'Before I do anything more?' She gasped Something must have happened between Mitsune and Se mpai! She must have kissed him! It must have been very passionate, for her to be telling Motoko!

Shinobu began sobbing uncontrollably. She instinctively ran back into the kitchen and looked around. The food was done cooking, and in danger of burning. They can't see me like this! Nobody knows I'm in love with Sempai! I can't let anyone know! Pulling herself together slightly, she stopped crying, turned off the stove, and ran to Motoko's room. Standing outside it, she could hear sobbing inside. She gathered strength, and tried to make her voice sound as normal as possible. "Motoko-sempai? Lunch is ready! Please tell the others! I have an appointment, and I have to go!" Then she ran away, out of the front door of the Hinata Inn and into the streets, crying all the way.

...

A few minutes later, Mitsune, Motoko, Suu and Sara ate lunch together. The mood was very strained. Mitsune hadn't had a chance to talk to Suu, so only two at the table knew what had transpired, and neither of them could talk about it directly in front of the others.

Motoko had managed to stop crying, and put on a steel face that mostly hid her true emotions. She's also thrown on a pair of shorts and t-shirt. But Motoko was shooting daggers at Mitsune with her eyes. Her honor code made her feel obliged to say something nice to her, however. "Konno-san," - Motoko used Mitsune's last name to emphasize emotional distance - "I ... I appreciate what you said earlier. You didn't have to say what you did, and make the offer you did. But this is not over between us. I will have more to say to you later."

Sara piped up. "Say what? What offer? What's going on between you two? It looks like you're both upset! Does this have something to do with Shinobu disappearing all of the sudden? She cooked us food and just left it in the pans!"

Mitsune replied, "This is grown up stuff. You wouldn't understand." She patted Sara's head, covered with a backwards baseball cap as usual. "Don't worry about it. Shinobu had a sudden appointment. Motoko and I are still friends, aren't we?"

Motoko responded with a question. "Konno-san, you were drinking too much alcohol last night, weren't you?"

"Yes, I was." Mitsune couldn't figure out where Motoko was going with this.

"You drink far too much, Konno-san. You know it's not good for you, and it makes people do stupid things." The second part of the sentence was subtly but strongly emphasized. "I want you to make me a promise. For the next month, you don't drink a drop of alcohol, and you run ten kilometers every day. I'll be watching closely. I'll confiscate all your bottles. At the end of the month, I will evaluate if you can halt your new regimen."

"Yes, alright. You're right. It can be, uh, it's time I get myself in better shape." Mitsune didn't know which idea she hated more, the running or ban on drinking, but she realized that was the price she had to pay to remain Motoko's friend, or at least not an enemy.

"You two must have had a really bad fight last night!" said Suu.

"Yes, something like that," responded Mitsune with a small sigh. "But don't worry, we always work these things out."

Motoko was somewhat mollified, but added, "This still isn't done, Konno-san. I'll have more to say to you, and I'll be watching you very closely. You can start your running today. I'll be keeping track, and it won't count unless I see it with my own eyes."

Suu, thinking that was unpleasantness was over, began talking excitedly about some of her new inventions (but not the aphrodisiac), and the rest of the meal passed happily enough, on the surface. But Suu and Sara were completely unaware of the torturous, pained, and often hateful thoughts going through Motoko's head.

...

After lunch, Mitsune told Suu the two of them needed to take a walk. Mitsune realized she had to be more careful to make sure no one overheard. "Suu, I have something to confess. Last night, my curiosity got the best of me. After I thought everyone had gone to bed, I was putting the love potion in the refrigerator, and got tempted to try a little bit of it myself. So I had a small glass. I had been drinking a lot of sake by then, and wasn't thinking very clearly."

"That's okay, Mitsune! To tell you the truth, I kept a little for myself, and couldn't resist trying some too. It goes great with bananas! I got all agitated and flustered, though. I had to run around and around the garden before I could finally go to bed with Motoko. How did it go with you?"

"Well, kinda the same, minus the bananas part. You think everything tastes good with bananas! The other difference is that I was sitting there in the kitchen, waiting to see what would happen, and to my surprise, Keitaro walked in! I thought everyone had gone to sleep! I started acting totally crazy. I even had him drink some of it, and didn't tell him what it was! I hate to say this, but the two of us started kissing passionately, and then we both passed out a short time later. Maybe because of too much wine? But in any case, I don't think the effects lasted very long. When I saw Keitaro this morning, he acted like nothing had happened between us. I don't think he wants to kiss me anymore. I definitely learned my lesson! I'm going to steer clear of that aphrodisiac until I can find someone I really want to use it on."

Suu seemed to be taking this pack of lies surprisingly well. "Wow! That's great! It worked! A live human to human test!" She jumped up and down and hugged Mitsune. "You'll have to tell me more, so I can calibrate its strength. This is the way to get Keitaro kissing!" She suddenly realized she probably shouldn't have said that last sentence, but was too late now to take it back. "Tell me again, you sure you're not going to use it on Keitaro any more?"

"That creep? No way! Luckily his perverted tendencies were kept in check. I shudder to think what might have happened had we drunk more of it."

Suu went away happier than before. Damn, thought Mitsune. I shouldn't have lied to her so much. I'm telling everyone a different story! I'd better talk to Keitaro before he talks to Suu, or I'm going to slide into deeper trouble! Suu heard just what she wanted to hear. This is all going to end badly the next time there's a red moon; I just know it. But at least for now things are holding together.

Chapter Fifteen: The Highest Highs, And Lowest Lows

Around two o'clock, Mitsune went up to the hills behind the inn to find how Keitaro was faring. But at the same time, he had just finished his deliberations mentioned previously, and headed down to the inn by a different route.

The first thing he wanted to do was talk to Motoko. He went to her room.

<Knock. Knock.> "Motoko-chan, are you there?" No answer.

He was about to walk away when he heard her say, "Yes, please come in."

"Motoko, I have something important to say..." Motoko was sitting on her futon, dressed in a casual kimono. She tried to appear normal, but he noticed that her eyes were very red, meaning she must have been crying only moments before.

"I heard it already, Urashima!" Motoko said to him, spitting out each word with venom. "How could you??" She muttered "Secret Art: Penetrating Agony!" and raised her sword. Keitaro went flying through the door he had just closed behind him, and came to rest at the foot of the wall on the other side of the hallway.

After coming to, he looked through the Keitaro-sized hole in Motoko's door, and saw her inside, sitting and sobbing heavily. He ran into her room, stepping through his hole.

She yelled at him, "Keep your distance, you pervert! Do you realize what you did was a gross violation of your role as manager of a girl's dormitory?!? I cannot forgive that!"

"Motoko! Motoko! Please! We didn't know what we were doing! It was the aphrodisiac! I had no idea what happened! What I woke up this morning, I was horrified! Please, please, forgive me!"

"Is that all you have to say?"

"Um, there's more, but that's the main thing I wanted to tell you." He stumbled on, "I'm sorry, I don't know what to say. I'm so sorry!"

So, thought Motoko in despair. It's all over. Mitsune was wrong. I had hoped against all hope that he would say 'I love you,' or at least express SOME feelings for me, but he clearly has none. I might as well kill myself now. I'm a total failure! Keitaro will never love me, and my insane obsession with him has destroyed my ability to focus on either kendo or school as well. I have nothing! All is lost! I can never overcome this shame!

Nothing left to lose, she thought, again. She looked up at Keitaro, who was hovering and kneeling over her, looking very concerned, and wondering if he should give her a consoling hug. If I have nothing to lose, then why not try this...

She leaned over, forcefully grabbed him, and placed her mouth on his. She kissed him passionately, as if her life depended on it. He began responding in kind. The two held each other tightly. Finally, after several minutes, Keitaro broke away from the kiss.

"Motoko-chan! If I didn't stop, I was going to die from lack of oxygen!" He panted. The two still held each other. Suddenly Motoko pulled away and turned around to face the wall.

"So you see how it is with me! I suppose you hate me now!" She yelled, barely able to control her voice.

"No!" Keitaro came around and kneeled in front on her. She turned around, and he came around before her again. He grabbed her by the shoulders and they stared into each other's eyes.

"Motoko-chan. I've been wanting to kiss you like that for a long time. I've never let myself do it. But I never knew you felt that way about me! Maybe I kind of knew, or I should have known, or I knew but I didn't know, but I never really knew. Sorry, I'm rambling! The point is, you mean very much to me. It was only today that I really figured out exactly for myself how much you mean to me. I just came down from the hills where I was doing a lot of thinking, and it occurred to me there that you could be in love with me, and that I'm in love with you. But I don't know how to talk to you."

Motoko cried "Oh Urashima - Keitaro!" He said it! He loves me! She leaned in to kiss him again, but he held her back.

"But, but wait!" he stammered. "I'm not ready for that. Some really wild things have happened to me in the last day, and I don't even feel like it happened to me. It feels like it happened to someone else, and I'm just seeing it in a dream. I'm confused! I don't know what I'm saying or doing. I'm likely to say something really stupid every time I open my mouth. I know now that I love you, but I also love some ... others. So please, give me time to recover, and figure out what happening to me!"

The two just held each other for some time. Finally, Motoko pulled back and looked into his eyes. Her self-doubt and worries were getting the best of her.

"Others?" she queried crossly. "Do you mean Mitsune?"

"No! Actually, yes, kind of. But, no, not really. What I mean to say is, I feel strongly for her physically. She's very pretty, you must admit, and after last night especially, I would be lying if I didn't say I desire her, physically. But I don't love her! I love you! That's what's important. I don't want Mitsune as my girlfriend, I want you."

Motoko thought she could die of joy. He said it again! 'I love you!' He wants me! But Keitaro wasn't done speaking.

"But the problem is, you're not the only one. You know I've loved Narusegawa for a long time. Things have been rocky between us lately, but I seem to keep loving her anyways. And Mutsumi, as well! I always thought that if something happened between Narusegawa and me, that I would love Mutsumi instead. We seem to have some inexpressible bond that's very strong. And that's what would have happened, except that in these last few months and especially lately, I've been growing so close to you!"

"So that's why I'm so confused. Mutsumi and Narusegawa are both gone now. I need to find out how I feel about them, and I can't do that, I think, until I see them face to face."

He hung his head down. "So do you understand my problem? I know it sounds absurd, one guy in love with three women, especially some ordinary guy like me. And then what happened with Mitsune last night has me more confused. But it's true. I so badly would love to kiss you again, but I don't feel I should, until I sort this out."

Emotionally wiped out, he slowly raised his head and looked at Motoko. Her whole demeanor had changed. She didn't look desperate and sad any more, but she didn't look happy, either. Instead, a tough Motoko had returned.

"Ordinary? Keitaro, don't let anyone tell you that you're ordinary," she said fiercely. "I'll cut them in two!"

"Motoko-chan, don't sell yourself short either. You're very special. You've very special to me. Whatever happens now, you'll always be very special to me. Can you please give me time?"

"I'll let you go, now, today." She stared deeply into his eyes. "But I don't plan to stand idly by and let one of those two get you. You mean... You mean so... Aw, look, you're making me get all mushy again!" She briefly turned away. "All I'm saying is, I'm on the warpath now, and you're my target!" She smiled at him, and even winked.

"Fair enough," smiled Keitaro. "But promise me one thing. In the past, you've often had rather, uh, how do I say, uh, physical, and violent solutions to problems. The power of your sword. In this conflict, promise me you won't use your sword or your other powers, no matter what may come. Those two have no way to fight back against that."

"I promise," she said resolutely. "If it's Keitaro who asks..." She trailed off awkwardly. She was going to complete the sentence with, "I would promise him anything in the world," but expressing such mushy feelings out loud didn't come easily to her.

They both stood up, and gave each other a rather formal hug and peck on the cheek.

Keitaro walked out the room, still feeling his earlier feeling that he was floating. I can't believe this is happening to me! It feels like that was a scene in a movie I was just watching. Motoko! She smiled! That was the biggest smile I've ever seen from her! He floated off on a cloud of joy.

Back in her room, Motoko now looked frightfully serious, with a ready-to-kill look in her eyes. She leaned against her door and thought to herself, Mitsune was actually right! He does love me! But she was even more correct about something else. How did she put it? 'It's up to you to act. If you act decisively, then you dreams may come true.' She grabbed her sword and strapped it back on. I am no longer going to wallow in self-pity and helplessness. I am a warrior, and I have a battle to face. Keitaro's heart is my prize, and this time, I'm not going to lose!

NOTE: Thanks to the reformatting of Sam.I.am.

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