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THE KISS THAT NEVER WAS: Part 10
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THE KISS THAT NEVER WAS
Part 10: Chapters 56 to 59
(MF, Mf, humor, rom, fanfic, harem, OM, OF, slow, no sex)
Written by Spacer X (paul_t_22@yahoo.com)

Chapter Fifty-Six: Light My Fire

The day before the play was supposed to be the group's last rest day, and Keitaro actually did manage to enjoy himself, with windsurfing, castle-making, and emotionally satisfying conversations. But some of the others still wanted to work on the play. Suu for instance worked on special effects for much of the afternoon. Seta helped Mitsune practice her sword fighting skills, as she wasn't a natural fighter and still had a long ways to go. They spent much of the afternoon at it, and kept going into the early evening.

As they practiced, Seta and Mitsune bonded in a way they hadn't in a long time. As the practice continued, a sexual tension started to grow. This was the work of Mitsune, who had flashbacks to when she was a high school student and had a deep crush on him. She discovered that if she fell, or pretended to fall, he would catch her before she hit the sand, and she would end up cradled in his arms. She liked that a lot, and found herself falling constantly.

It wasn't that she'd given up on Keitaro, but she was brutally realistic. She knew her odds with Keitaro were low, and saw no harm in having a backup plan. In a way, it was just another opportunity to scheme and flirt, which she loved to do.

Seta though, while he was enjoying her presence and reconnecting with her emotionally, appeared to be immune to her physical charms. She always thought him a bit slow on the uptake in that department. In that way, he was like an older version of Keitaro. Both of them needed a slap in the face to begin to notice that a female had any interest in them.

Haruka on the other hand was much more observant. She could see what Mitsune was up to right away and even from a distance, thanks to all the falls into Seta's arms. She herself had very mixed feelings about Seta. Earlier in the summer he'd all but asked for her hand in marriage, but she turned him down. Well, not exactly. She didn't say yes and she didn't say no. Frankly, she'd gone so long without a romantic spark in her life that she'd become used to it, and was afraid of change. And Seta had let her down before, many years ago. Seta too was not the kind of man to push, especially after some tumultuous things in their long-past relationship.

Given that it was the last night before the play, everyone wanted to party and go out with a bang. Keitaro was still feeling a bit moody and tired, but after dinner he found his energies reviving. It wasn't exactly clear how they would celebrate their last free evening at the beach, but it was clear that whatever happened, it would involve lots of drinking.

However, there was a lot of tension. Haruka was mad at Seta for spending so much time with a flirty Mitsune, when really she should have been upset with Mitsune. Haruka had a certain passive aggressive way with him that let her displeasure be known without overtly saying or doing anything particularly mean.

Meanwhile, Mitsune, Motoko, and Mutsumi were all nervous about how they could advance their cause with Keitaro on this important night. Motoko was the most nervous of all, because she had the bottle of aphrodisiac and didn't know what to do with it. She'd resolved to use it, but had to get Keitaro alone first, and there was no easy chance for that. Everyone wanted to party in one big group, and it was hard to envision any good time for two people to sneak off alone, even if Motoko could come up with a reasonable excuse to tear him away, which she could not. She decided to play it by ear.

So she snuck the bottle of love potion in a remote and high shelf in the kitchen while she looked for the right opportunity to use it. She'd sniffed it and determined it was spiked sake, which she considered a really fortunate break. Getting Keitaro to drink more sake on this evening would be no problem, if only she could get him alone. She figured her best chance was late in the evening. Cleverly, she told Mitsune that she would allow her to be freed from her drinking ban for this one evening, since it was such a special evening. Mitsune happily agreed.

Mutsumi and Mitsune are both heavy drinkers, thought Motoko. I'm not. Especially with Mitsune not having drunk any alcohol in a while, she's likely to go a little overboard. All I have to do is endure and stay awake. And I'll have to avoid drinking much myself, since I don't know my own limits. Once everyone else is passed out or is close to it, I can do something like offer to help Keitaro walk back to the hotel. We can share one final drink of sake under the stars, just him and me. And of course, I'll use the specially spiked sake. Then, taking him back to his room where he sleeps all alone, who knows what will happen? I don't want to go too far - I'm not ready. But maybe we can go just far enough to make him forget about the others.

The group never left the teahouse after dinner, but dinner just dissolved into a drinking session. Everyone was there, including Shirai, Haitani, and several other employees at the teahouse, both male and female. Their mutual acquaintance Kentaro also appeared from Tokyo for the drinking. He was handsome, rich, arrogant, and shallow. He'd been Keitaro's occasional competitor for Narusegawa's affections, though nothing much had come of his efforts. He'd been a part of the beach play the year before, but hadn't been invited back, since most everyone saw through him now. But he knew the play was coming up, and wormed his way back into the group.

At first, they started with the usual Japanese drinking games. For instance, one person would stand up and hold a glass of sake up high. Everyone else would chant and pound the table until the person swallowed the glass in one gulp. Then there'd be a big cheer, and the next person would go.

Everyone got drunk very quickly this way, because there was no way to avoid drinking when one's turn came around.

Sara didn't drink, so she grew bored quickly. By nine-thirty Seta decided it was Sara's bedtime, and she retired without much protest. Seta accompanied her back to the hotel and decided to just stay there and get an early night as well, since Haruka was in such a bad mood.

The others also faded early until the only ones left were Haitani, Haruka, Keitaro, Kentaro, Mitsune, Motoko, Mutsumi, Shinobu, Shirai, and Suu.

Kentaro, always slick and conniving, wanted to move the group to a more romantic locale. He convinced everyone to move to the beach just in front of the teahouse, where there was a fire ring so one could have a bonfire. There was plenty of wood in the teahouse storage room. Within minutes they sat in a circle around a roaring fire. The males all sat on one side and the females all on the other. Haruka sat up next to the fire but a few feet from both groups, as if she was the referee between them.

The sky was free of clouds, so thousands of stars and a (non-red) full moon could be seen. Kentaro broke out a guitar and the group sang songs for a while, increasing everyone's pleasure and relaxation. He'd also brought marshmallows, and soon those were roasting over the fire on sticks.

Once everyone started to get fairly sloshed, Shirai and Haitani again started pushing the same idea they'd been pushing ever since they'd gotten to the beach: more flirtatious drinking games that might give them a foot in the door with any of the beautiful Hinata Inn women. Shirai started it. "Anyone want to try a game of Spin the Bottle?" That was his favorite game. He added, nervously, "Maybe Truth or Dare?"

There was a brief silence, but then everyone laughed. Keitaro said, "Come on, you've got to be kidding." Shirai was crestfallen - it was clear everyone thought his idea silly.

They went back to more singing and the same drinking games they'd done inside. They drank sake. Lots of it. Motoko started to think that her aphrodisiac plan might just work. Just as she'd hoped, Mutsumi and Mitsune appeared to be drinking heavily, and Keitaro not so much. Meanwhile Motoko drank some but surreptitiously spilled her drinks onto the sand and only actually drank when she it was her turn to stand up and take a shot in front of everyone.

With so many drinking so much, there were frequent raids of the teahouse kitchen, in a search for more alcohol. On one of these raids, Kentaro found Motoko's bottle of aphrodisiac on a high shelf. Taking it for any other bottle of sake, he brought it back to the bonfire, and it was consumed along with all the other bottles. As they were still doing shots, every single person had a shot of the love potion, as it was passed around the fire from person to person. Some had two shots of it before the bottle was emptied.

It was one of the last bottles of sake found. When they ran out of sake, they moved to other types of alcohol. With all the drinking it was remarkable that everyone was still on their feet, but the interlude of singing songs allowed people to recover somewhat.

Within ten minutes of drinking the love potion, a subtle change came across the group, even though no one recognized it. By this point everyone was thoroughly blitzed anyways so people's inhibitions and alertness were already lowered. Any change in mood or behavior was likely to be attributed to all the drinking.

Shirai felt inspired to ask again about more risqué games. "Hey guys. What about my idea of Spin the Bottle? Or Truth or Dare? Or maybe strip poker?"

To even Shirai's surprise, now everyone seemed completely receptive to the idea. Keitaro nonchalantly asked the rest, "What do you think, guys? Which game sounds better?"

A consensus emerged around Truth or Dare. That would be the least risqué game. But everyone wanted to play one of the three.

Motoko found herself liking the idea of playing these games too, but in the back of her mind she thought it quite odd. Did the nude beach experience change me that much? Here I am, just nodding dumbly when people are openly talking about playing strip poker? What am I thinking? She used her martial arts training to try and focus her mind and continue to think clearly. But at the same time she battled with the effects of the love potion and all the alcohol she had that fogged her brain.

Shirai spoke up and took charge. The lights of the dancing, raging fire flickered on his face. "Okay, the way this works is that we'll all play cards." He pulled out a card deck. "We can play poker." He hoped this could morph into strip poker. "Whoever gets the lowest hand has to choose between a truth or dare. Whoever gets the highest hand gets to pick what the truth or dare is exactly."

Shinobu piped up. "I don't know. It sounds scary. What if someone asks me to say or do something that I don't really want to do?"

Shirai wasn't very sympathetic. "Well then, quit the game if you don't want to play."

But then Keitaro gave his opinion. "No, let's be more reasonable. If anyone feels uncomfortable with anything, then don't do it. After all, we have some people here who some people might not feel that comfortable with." He pointedly looked at Shirai, Haitani, sitting directly to his left, and Kentaro, sitting directly to his right. "Here's an idea. If you don't like a particular truth or dare suggestion, then make your own counter suggestion. Or do a truth instead of a dare, since the dares are probably more scary."

"Okay," Shinobu replied, feeling less frightened by the idea now. But still, she and Suu seemed very out of place. The presence of a sixteen year old and fifteen year old at a risqué drinking game amongst grown ups seemed like a dubious idea at best. They looked at each other nervously. Even Suu wasn't sure she wanted to be a part of this, with Keitaro's three lecherous "friends" taking part.

Keitaro saw those worried looks, and felt the same worries himself. He said, "Here's another rule. None of us males can do anything that involve touching Shinobu or Suu in any way. Is that clear?"

Everyone nodded. The other males hardly minded this restriction, given all the other lovely females to be had. Shirai and Haitani looked at each other with excited eyes. Although they didn't say anything out loud for fear of frightening the rest, their looks to each other said, "Can this really be happening? Pinch me, I'm dreaming!"

Shirai was quite content if he could end up kissing Mitsune, Mutsumi, or Motoko. Kentaro was thinking along similar lines, and found himself particularly attracted to Mitsune. He thought she might be a kindred spirit - more jaded and conniving than the others. Haitani meanwhile continued his strange attraction to the older Haruka most of all. These males' brains were eagerly lustful at most any time, but with the aphrodisiac taking effect, they were practically panting with desire.

Keitaro was affected just as much as the other men. He'd resisted the love potion the night before with Suu because he was consciously aware of it and tried to fight it. But now he didn't realize what he had to fight. The women were growing excited too. Even the staid Haruka found herself getting excited. A smile crossed her usually jaded face as she gleefully looked forward to the game.

Shirai continued, "Okay then. If everyone is fine with the rules then, let the game begin!"

Chapter Fifty-Seven: The Kiss That Never Should Have Been

Since everyone was sitting around a large fire, there was no easy way for one person to deal the cards. The deck was handed around and each person took their cards and passed the deck on.

The first hand was played, and Mutsumi lost. She chose "Truth." Shirai had won, so he got to ask a question. He pondered his choices for a while.

Keitaro found his mind wandering as well. He asked himself, Just what do you ask in these kinds of situations? I've never played this kind of game before. I know people my age do these kinds of things at parties, but it feels so strange. Somehow it feels wrong, with the likes of Shinobu around playboys like Kentaro. I feel like he could abuse my little sister before my eyes or something! So why am I playing this? What would I ask if I had to ask Shinobu or question? Or have her do a dare, God forbid? Or even Mutsumi? What would I ask Mutsumi if I were in Shirai's shoes right now? I hope I never lose or win.

Shirai had been pulling at his chin until a couple people started grumbling. Suddenly, he asked, "Mutsumi-san, would you please tell us about your first experience with sex?"

Mutsumi giggled, and said, "No! Next?"

"Wait!" Shirai complained. "If you don't like the question, Keitaro said you have to make a counter offer of another question or something."

"I didn't say I wouldn't answer. I gave you my answer. I've never been with a man in that way, so I can't tell you about my first experience. Sorry."

"But, but..." Shirai stammered. "But you're like twenty-two, and you're gorgeous! You mean... you're still a virgin?"

"Hey, that's personal," Keitaro butted in.

"It's alright," Mutsumi answered. "Yes, I am. Sorry to make you lose your question. I guess, if I interpret your question more broadly on what my first sexy experience was, that's easy. That was when I was in Okinawa and I kissed a very handsome man. It was so romantic. We were on the beach and under the stars, just like we are now. And he was such a great guy. He still is!" She very deliberately stared at Keitaro so everyone would know whom she meant, and overtly winked at him.

"Fair enough answer," Shirai admitted. "Sorry if I embarrassed you about the, uh, virginity, but I can't believe a woman as amazing as you hasn't..." Like most of the women there, Mutsumi was dressed in just her bikini. The sight of the fire glowing on her body and the lights of the ever -hanging fire casting different shadows upon her was about the most tantalizing sight Shirai had ever seen. He felt himself aroused - powerfully aroused. The idea of Mutsumi being a virgin seemed preposterously unbelievable to him at that moment. It was like expecting to believe that Aphrodite were a virgin. He stared at her as if he were lost in a daze, until Haitani kicked him. He snapped out of it and muttered, "Oh, never mind. Let's play another hand."

The cards were dealt and Motoko lost. Shinobu won, so Motoko knew she needn't worry about being pushed too far with a question or dare. She decided to get a dare out of the way early, so she wouldn't look chicken later. "Dare."

Shinobu was as lost as Keitaro was in thinking about what kind of dare to give. But she thought , It's all my fault that Sempai and Motoko aren't already together. Sempai said that I should try to undo what I did, and maybe here's my chance. On the other hand, it would hurt me to see them to do something together. But maybe that's the punishment I deserve. Wait, I know something that would help and wouldn't be too painful to watch. "Motoko-san, would it be alright if you change positions and sit next to Sempai so you could hug him?"

Motoko was very pleasantly surprised. Her face lit up, but then she realized she shouldn't appear so eager. I'm just lucky Shinobu picked Keitaro and not someone like Haitani. She shuddered at the thought of Haitani kissing and groping her. If that happens, I don't know what I'm going to do. I'm certainly not going to let one of those guys touch me, even though I feel so strangely ... aroused. Is it the thought of being alone with Keitaro later that's making me this way? That must be it. Maybe this is the night things will really happen between us - it's only natural I'd be feeling like this.

Motoko got up from the side of the fire where the females were all huddled, and moved in between the males to be with Keitaro. She snuggled up next to him, draping her arm around his shoulder. He put his arm around her as well, and they touched skin to skin all over, as they were both wore only a bathing suit and bikini between them. Keitaro tenderly ran his hand through Motoko's hair, and she shivered with delight at his casual and loving touch. It was just like they were a couple already. She wished the game would freeze in place and the two of them could stay content like that for the rest of the evening. But the game went on.

Kentaro lost the next hand and Suu won. He boldly asked for a dare. Suu thought to herself, What do I care about this guy? The little I know of him, he seems like an insufferable jerk. If only I could have a truth or dare with Keitaro! But as for this guy, I just wish he'd get lost...

That gave her an idea. "Kentaro, your challenge is to run into the ocean and stay there as long as possible. Ten minutes at least."

Kentaro stood up and bowed with a flourish. "As your lady commands." He ran off into the water without further ado. Suu laughed inwardly - he thought he was proving himself or some such thing. But at the same time, her arousal continued to grow, along with everyone else. Not even she realized it was the aphrodisiac working, since the idea of someone spiking everyone's drink seemed so improbable and senseless.

Haitani lost the next hand, and Shirai won it. Haitani said, "Dare!" Then he looked at his friend with a pleading face, and even put his hands together in prayer as he stared, trying to force him to read his mind.

Shirai knew exactly what his friend wanted, strange though he thought it to be. "Haitani, old friend, I dare you to kiss Haruka. On the lips."

Haitani thrust his arms into the air in triumph. "Yes! There is a God! Thank you, brother, thank you!"

Haruka had been sitting quietly with an unreadable expression, as was her wont. But now her mouth dropped open in surprise, and the ever-present cigarette dangling at her lip fell to the ground. "Can you do that?" she asked in genuine disbelief. "Is that allowed?"

Keitaro, who felt very protective of all the females, said, "You don't have to do anything you don't want to, you know. Just tell him to get lost!"

Haruka considered. If I do this, word will get back to Seta, and he'll feel sorry for flirting with Mitsune all day long. Not only that, but this guy has been trailing after me this whole week like some kind of lost puppy dog. One kiss won't hurt. It'll probably be the highlight of his life.

"It's alright, Keitaro. What the hell. Go ahead, Haitani, if you want." She closed her eyes, not really believing what she'd just said. She waited expectantly for the kiss.

Haitani and Shirai engaged in an elaborate variety of high five slaps, but they were done with that in seconds and then Haitani was upon Haruka. He dipped her down and kissed her passionately, like someone who really knew he was doing with women and not like the dumpy, bespectacled, and awkward kid he appeared to be.

Haruka opened her eyes in surprise as she was bent backwards with the teenager upon her. Not only was Haitani a surprisingly passionate kisser, but the aphrodisiac and alcohol was working on them both. With every passing minute, every person in the group continued to grew more aroused. Wrapping her arms around him, Haruka parted her lips and kissed back feverishly. The kiss went on and on. When it finally ended, the two of them gasped for air and then flew back at each other, kissing with ever more fervor.

Everyone else around the fire stared in near total incomprehension. Haitani's crush on Haruka was only known to a few, like Shirai and Keitaro, and even those who knew about that could scarcely believe the jaded Haruka would respond so vigorously. Now the two were making out like their lives depended on it, hands flying all over each other.

Mouths hung open, and people looked to each other to confirm they weren't dreaming. But the sight of two people making out so enthusiastically only fuelled the fires burning inside each person. The eyes of all the remaining women without exception stared at Keitaro hungrily, while Shirai eyed Mutsumi and Kentaro eyed Mitsune.

Chapter Fifty-Eight: Motoko's Reward

Motoko had been too happy snuggling up to Keitaro to think much or try to fight the alcohol and aphrodisiac conquering her brain. But the sight of Haitani and Haruka shocked some awareness into her. That should not be happening. This cannot be. In fact, this whole game shouldn't be happening at all. There's no way that Haruka, of her own free will... Wait a minute. What if she's under the spell of the aphrodisiac? What if we all are?!? Look at everyone - smiling stupidly and admiring the kiss. It's like we're a bunch of horny zombies. The bottle! Someone must have found the bottle I hid back in the teahouse and... Oh no!

It took all of her mental energy pull herself free of Keitaro and to stand up. But then her mind seemed to clear a bit with Keitaro no longer draped over her. "Excuse me Keitaro, I'll be back in a second." She ran off to the teahouse to look for her hidden bottle.

Flying into the kitchen, she opened the cabinet she'd put the bottle in and discovered it gone. I knew it! All my plans are ruined! It serves me right for trying to trick Keitaro and win him in this underhanded way. But what am I going to do? Everyone back there is getting more aroused by the second - I can feel it inside me too. And the drunkenness! There's going to be one giant orgy on the beach unless someone does something fast. If the likes of Shirai or Kentaro end up with anybody, it'll be bad. Look at Haitani and Haruka already. Disaster! But what am I going to do? I'm the only one who knows!

By this time she was at the front of the teahouse again. Not very far in front of her was the bonfire and the circle of drugged friends. They were continuing the game without her. She could hear laughing, and saw Mitsune stand up. Mitsune pranced around seductively as if she were doing a striptease - which she was. She slowly and sexily took her bikini top off and threw it carelessly away. Then, to the sound of hooting and clapping, she took a bow and sat back down.

Motoko looked on in horror. Worse and worse! I have to do something fast! But what? Motoko thought to what Keitaro did with Suu the night before, and how he tricked her with his Frankenstein impression. Their red moon encounter was supposed to be a secret, but it was already common knowledge amongst the gossipy Hinata Inn gang. Something like that. I need to do something exactly like that. Scare them with a ghost, maybe? No. No time to prepare a charade like that. She saw that back around the fire another hand of cards was being dealt out. Well, there is my reputation as the violent and moralistic swordswoman. I'll have to utilize that. She hurried back into the teahouse and pulled her sword out of another hiding place. It was never far from her, even when she was dressed only in a bikini. She rushed back to the fire.

She dramatically appeared standing above all of them, with her legs spread wide and her arms over her head, holding the sword up high. "Listen! Listen all of you!"

Haitani and Haruka were still ardently necking and in fact had been kissing nonstop ever since they'd begun, stopping only to occasionally catch their breath. Mitsune was still topless and now sitting next to Keitaro, shamelessly flirting with him. The only thing holding her back was the fact that Mutsumi was on his other side and also vying for his attention. Kentaro was soaking wet and just walking back from the ocean. He was the only one who didn't appear to have eyes crazed with lust - no doubt the bracingly cold water had cooled his passions some. In fact, he looked a bit confused at how the others were acting. Even Shinobu sat back with her mouth open and eyes half closed, as if she was waiting for any man to walk up and kiss her.

"Listen!" Motoko shouted again. The blissed out, very drunken crowd slowly focused their attention upon the tall and skinny but nonetheless extremely angry and imposing swordswoman. "This game has gone on enough! Look at Haruka and Haitani! You all have lost your senses! This is coming to an end right now, like it or not! Secret Art: Midnight Moon Shadow! "

Motoko's arm swung down, driving the sword directly towards the fire. The bonfire exploded into sparks and high flame, and everyone was blown clear from it. They all flew away from Motoko and bounced and rolled over the sands towards the ocean. Motoko slashed down again and again, and each time the group was carried farther away from her, like a cluster of tumbleweeds being blown away in a hurricane. She was purposely directing them towards the ocean, hoping that a cold splash into the water would snap them out of their erotic haze.

It was fifty meters from the bonfire to the water's edge. The group hit the shallows of the cold, dark ocean and still they flew further into the deeper waters. Motoko continued to slash at individual targets, not content to stop until everyone was thoroughly drenched.

Finally, with everyone in several feet of water, some sputtering and thrashing about in the shallow waves, Motoko stopped and fell the ground. She was completely drained. She had used all of her energies, and had nothing left. In the process she had blown the large fire completely out, and only the embers still glowed as a multitude of sparks flew off into the sky.

Everyone else picked themselves up from the water, some helping others find their feet. Nobody appeared to be hurt or in any danger of drowning. They all stared at Motoko in shock and amazement. Keitaro thought about Motoko, as he moved to assist Mitsune, One minute she was cuddling up against me, content as a kitten, and the next it's like the fury of the Gods is raining down upon us! What the heck? Has she gone mad? I know she's attacked me enough times, but she's never done anything like this! She even attacked Haruka!

He looked over and saw Haruka sitting in the water. Haitani helped her up, and the two clutched at each other for support. Haruka gaped in amazement at Motoko.

Even though Motoko was now on her knees and panting from exhaustion, no one wanted to stick around and see if another attack was forthcoming. Motoko's reaction seemed so extreme, even for her, that each person wondered if something of inside her had snapped. Every drenched person looked from one face to another, and then almost as one they bolted towards the direction of the hotel. A sort of instinctual fight or flight instinct took over in each person, driving their erotic moods nearly clean away. They scampered up the long flight of stairs towards the hotel. The group slowly broke apart as some flew to their rooms faster than others.

Keitaro thought about staying behind and risking Motoko's wrath, perhaps after she'd been given some time to calm down. But he decided that his first responsibility was to make sure that everyone got back to their rooms safely. While Motoko's attack was very sobering, some in the group were so drunk that there was less running and more staggering once everyone was safely clear of Motoko.

Motoko remained on her knees before the extinguished fire, and looked down into the sand forlornly long after the others had gone. I suppose that was necessary. I did what I had to do in order to undo my stupidity in trying to use the love potion. I have a feeling that potion is cursed. I couldn't just come out and tell everyone that they'd been drugged, because that would have revealed my duplicity with Keitaro. So now he's going to think I'm a freak. A crazy, violent, prudish woman.

But what's even more frustrating is that I'm still completely aroused! Holding Keitaro tightly before the fire like that - I was just about to completely let myself go. Maybe I would have melted in his arms into a passionate kiss like that strange Haitani Haruka pairing. I was so close! And once the shock of the attack and the cold water is over, the others no doubt will still feel the buzz of the love potion, back in their rooms. That potion is far too strong for anyone's good.

She looked out over the sands, scanning the ground carefully with her razor sharp eyesight. A-ha. As I figured. Mitsune's bikini top is still here. I wonder how she got back into the hotel, as she must be topless. I'll bet she's using her nakedness as an excuse to get special help from Keitaro. Probably even as I sit here, the two are bursting into Keitaro's room and are going to go at it like bunny rabbits. With the love potion still working, he's bound to end up with someone, and that would probably be the least bad outcome for me. Meanwhile, I'm all alone. Again. I've lost out again. But this time, I have no one to blame but myself. Stupid! Why can't I trust my own charms and instead feel the need to cheat? But let's face it. I can't compete with the likes of Mutsumi.

With heavy head, she got up and glumly marched back to the hotel.

Chapter Fifty-Nine: Behind the Fox Eyes

Mitsune yawned, instinctively stretching out to turn off the alarm clock next to her bed as she did every morning. She fumbled about but encountered nothing but empty air. Then she realized there was no alarm going off and that she was reaching across the body of a man to find the clock. It further dawned on her that she wasn't in her room at all, and wasn't even at the Hinata Inn.

Mitsune drew her arm back in and opened her eyes (though a person watching wouldn't have been able to tell the difference). A contented smile crossed her face as she remembered whom she was with. Her body was spooned up against Keitaro in his hotel room, and she snuggled even closer to him. He continued to sleep, and in fact the first lights of dawn were only beginning to brighten the sky.

That was some night last night, she thought with fond remembrance. I don't know what it was: the fire, the stars, the moon, the songs, the game, the wine - maybe everything put together. The excitement from Motoko's strange freak out? I don't know. But hot damn, did we get passionate! Keitaro made love to me like a man possessed. Kind of like how Haitani and Haruka were getting it on, now that I think about it. Boy, was that bizarre! Just when you think you have people pegged...

Mmm. I just love it here, feeling my arms over his chest, pressing my whole body against him. He's my... my... My what, exactly? I wish I could have some affectionate name - my darling, my tiger, my snuggle bunny - anything. But I can't even call him my boyfriend. What am I? Lover of the moment? Friend with benefits? Whatever it is, it's not really much when you come right down to it. If I gave him an affectionate name, it would be far too forward of me. I don't even call him Kei-kun.

Last night was great, there's no doubt about that. He's becoming a regular Don Juan. Who would have thunk it? Nerdy, clumsy, groping Keitaro? He's changing, that's for sure. But what am I to him really, aside from his teacher, his initiator into the world of sex?

She carefully withdrew from him so she could sit up and look down onto his face. She pushed the blankets and sheets away from them both, and then sat up naked over his naked body. What a handsome man. When he's without his glasses like this, he's practically a hunk. I love him so much. The only reason I was playing around with Seta yesterday is because I know that this is as good as it's going to get - I'm not going to end up with him. Not even close.

The thing is, he doesn't know me. Sure, he knows my body; he loves my body. But he doesn't really know me any more than before we started doing this. I want him to know the real me that I keep hidden deep inside. But I hold back. Why?

She regarded him more closely. Then she lay back down and snuggled up against him, trying to drive away a growing depression by latching onto him even more tightly. It's like I've already admitted defeat. I've been playing to lose this whole time; agreeing to tutor Motoko. In helping Motoko out, I've been living my dreams through her. I've been telling her to do the things that I should be doing, because I can't open myself up emotionally, and she can. She loves him so much that she's willing to put herself out on a limb, in a very vulnerable spot. If she falls, she's going to fall hard. Mutsumi too. It's clear they both love him and have eyes for no other. But I have a safety net of never really opening up, never really letting Keitaro get under my skin. I always have some scheme going, like this plan B with Seta.

But I love him! I love him as much as those two do! And yet here I am, making love, wild, amazing, spine-tingling love all night long, and I feel like I'm losing ground to those two who have only occasionally kissed him.

She let out a heavy sigh that was close to a sob.

"Something wrong?" Keitaro rolled over so he could look her in the face.

"You're awake already?" she asked.

"How could I not be? You were practically squeezing me to death."

"Oh. Sorry." Mitsune released her tight grip upon him. More affectionately, she kissed him on the forehead. "Good morning, lover."

He kissed her back. Soon they were kissing on the lips, even though both of them felt and looked like something the cat dragged in. The effect of the aphrodisiac was long gone, but the alcohol remained in the form of a nasty hangover. She thought, "Lover." I like the sound of that. I wish I could call him "My love" and that it would really be true.

Again she squeezed him, holding onto him like a life preserver. Don't get up just yet. Keitaro. But she didn't speak to him, she just thought to herself. Stay with me just a little longer, so I can still pretend we're really boyfriend and girlfriend.

Keitaro blinked groggily. Something seemed wrong. Mitsune usually made playful remarks or teased him mildly when they woke up together. She was never quiet like this. And the way she was latched onto him, it was almost like she was afraid that if she let go, she'd go tumbling from the bed.

Managing to snatch his glasses from the nightstand, Keitaro slid them over his eyes and opened his mouth to ask Mitsune if she planned on letting him up. He caught himself, however, when he noticed something that was most definitely wrong: there were tears at the corners of Mitsune's eyes.

"Kitsune, are you okay? Did I do something to hurt you?"

From the way he was examining her face, she realized she must have been showing her tears. She wiped them away with a hand, and tried to put up a false bravado of happiness. "No, you're great. Last night was great. Everything's great. Don't worry about me. I'll be fine. It's only Kitsune we're talking about here, after all."

As she said that last sentence, an overwhelming feeling of worthlessness came over her, and burst out with those words and a new outburst of crying. She buried her face into his shoulder and sobbed uncontrollably.

Keitaro was at a loss. He tentatively tried to calmly stroke back and the hair on her head. No woman had ever cried like this upon him before. He had no idea why she was doing it, and what he should do in response.

"Kitsune, Kitsune! Please! Don't cry! Whatever I did, I'm really, really sorry! Please forgive me! Whatever it was, I'm so -" He was cut off again as Mitsune put her fingers over his lips, silencing him.

His natural instinct to take the blame amused her enough to stifle her tears and even bring a brief, wan smile to her face. "It's not that. It's not you." She sniffled, and brushed her tears away again, but they continued to flow. "It's just that I feel terrible for doing this to you. I'm just making it more confusing for you to figure out whom it is you really love. I'm standing in your way, between you and your true love. I'm so selfish to use you this way."

She couldn't say what she was really feeling; that she really did care about his love. She cared a lot. Instead, she tried to imply it was fine with her if he didn't love her and that maybe they should part.

"That's not true!" insisted Keitaro. He grabbed her shoulders and moved her back a little so he could look her right in the eyes. "Kitsune, you know, I can't explain it. About this sex we've been having. It's not just the pleasure of the moment, though there is that. In spades!" She laughed a little, and wiped her tears again. "It's that, I feel... when we make love, we really connect. I feel so close to you. We don't usually have any kind of deep talks with each other, but when we make love, I feel like, a kind of unity with you. Like we're one."

He continued more determinedly, "You can't say you're standing in my way. This is what it's all about. This is really living. I've never felt so alive! Don't you feel it too? The joy of being alive?"

Even as he was speaking, she felt the very joy he was describing well up inside of her and overtake her. She was so bursting with happiness that she almost thought she would pass out. It wasn't just euphoria, it was love. "Yes! I feel it!" she cried out. "I feel it right now!"

She rolled on top of him and kissed him passionately. It was like she wanted to devour him. He responded in kind. But as that first surge of emotion passed through her, she slowed down. They continued to kiss and explore each other, but more slowly now, gently.

But even as they slowed down, their desire heated up. She pulled away long enough to look him lovingly in the eyes and say, "Last night, we fucked. This morning, let's make love."

They resumed another long, smoldering kiss.

---

Half an hour later, Keitaro and Mitsune were trading soft kisses in the afterglow of their lovemaking. Mitsune felt almost light-headed. Their sex was in almost every way a completely different act than what they'd done the night before. In their slow, intimate love making, they bonded and spoke to each other with their bodies in a completely new way. Suddenly it didn't seem at all silly to Mitsune if she were to call him something like "Darling" or "Honey."

They remained in each other's arms. Before he collected his thoughts enough to speak, she said, "I've been with other men before, but..." She trailed off, and Keitaro was surprised to see her blush lightly; Mitsune almost never lost her composure. "But this feels like my first time. It's like you said. This is what it means to be alive."

But then she blushed again, even more this time. In a smaller voice, she asked him, "Keitaro, do you like me?"

He nearly laughed. "How can you say that, after what we just did? Of course!"

"I don't mean like that. There are different kind of likes. I mean, do you like me as a person? Am I the kind of person you'd just want to hang out with, for instance? If we were just to spend the weekend together, say, no sex or romance, just being together, would you like that?"

"Of course. I really like you. The more I'm with you, the more I want to be with you. But I still..." He suddenly cut himself off.

"But what?" she asked urgently. "'But I still...' what?"

He nervously fiddled with his glasses. Now that they'd stopped making love, he felt very awkward lying completely naked next to her and the feel of his glasses was somehow reassuring. "Um, what I mean to say is, I still don't know you that well. I'm like an open book. Everyone knows my moods. If I'm feeling, say, guilty, the whole Hinata Inn knows it in fifteen seconds, it seems like. But when I'm with you, I usually don't know what you're thinking or feeling even. As close as we are here, I wish I knew you better."

Mitsune was deeply touched. He cares! He really cares for me. Maybe I do have a chance with him, after all. Maybe I am making an impression.

"Keitaro, I have a confession to make. I hide behind these narrow eyes far too much. There's a lot I want to share with you, if you're willing to put up with me."

"I am. I do. I mean, I do want to know more about you."

"I hate to ask this.... I'm so embarrassed..." She blushed again. "I know you have Motoko and Mutsumi to think about. I know that when we get back to the Hinata Inn, you're probably going to start dating one or both of them. But, before you get too serious with either of them, could you promise me one thing? Could we just go out on one date? You know, like we're a real couple? Just once?"

Keitaro considered her words carefully. "Hmm. You have to understand my feelings for both Motoko and Mutsumi are strong. My feeling for you are strong too, but I, I don't know if I'm in love with you."

Mitsune's heart plummeted. She felt it being ripped out of her chest, and was suddenly reminded why she was so reluctant to expose herself emotionally.

He went on, "But, my feelings for you are growing, I must admit. Don't read too much into what I'm about to say - I'm already in enough hot water being torn between both of them. But Mutsumi at least understands that when I get back I want to, no, I need to, openly date for a while. I'm just not ready to settle on one person just yet, or I'll always wonder what might have been. If we were to stop what we're doing right now and go back to the way we were friends before, I'll always wonder where things might have gone otherwise."

He paused. She felt hope rising in her again. He continued, "So, yeah. I'd love to go out with you. We know each other physically. But let's get to know each other in other ways too."

"I'd really like that," Mitsune replied. She was so overcome with emotion that she started to cry, but the tears were tears of joy. "Honestly, I'd love that. Kei-kun." She deliberately used the more familiar form of his name for the first time.

He repeated that: "Kei-kun." He paused, and then asked, "What should I call you?" He wanted to be more familiar, but didn't know if Kitsune, Mitsune, or something else was best.

She smiled. "Just Mitsune. The others may think of me as Kitsune, the crafty fox, but I hope you can see past that."

"I do, Mitsune." They both smiled at each other warmly, and she realized with a start she was crying again.

She wiped her tears away yet again, and pretending to be angry, hit him gently. "Look what you made me do! You're making me cry! You meanie!"

She kissed him squarely on the mouth. Their passion grew more heated.

She paused, and motioned towards the window. "Look, Kei-kun. The sun is still coming up. We still have plenty of time before the others wake up. Let's see if we can outdo what we did last night."

Keitaro was tired and hung over from the night before; they both were. But all that mattered not as they were swept away on a river of passion.

NOTE: A big thanks to Alzrius, who not only proofread and assisted with the story, but also came up with the idea for Chapter Fifty-Nine and wrote much of the actual wording. Also thanks to the reformatting of Sam.I.am.

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