Love Hina Fan Fiction ❯ Loss and Redemption ❯ Confessions and Consequences ( Chapter 7 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

Disclaimer: See Prologue.

Any comments, complaints, complements, flames, and credit card numbers can be sent to: Feedback and reviews would be greatly appreciated.

Once again, I would like to thank all reviewers for the feedback that was provided. Over thirty reviews for the last chapter. Damn. Thank You All!

This fanfic is based on the manga and anime and borrows facets from both of them.

"*" Spoken words

'*' Thoughts

Love Hina

Loss and Redemption

Chapter Six: Confessions and Consequences

By: hawker_748


For a person who has been getting before 5:00 for nearly two months, a chance to sleep in is viewed the same way that a man lost in the desert would view an oasis; salvation. This was especially true for Keitaro the next morning, as he had been run into the ground the day before. Motoko had also decided to hold a nighttime training session on the roof to make up for this mornings missed class.

This class had been unusual; in addition to the late hour, all of the other residents had attended. Kitsune, Sarah, Su, Shinobu and even Naru had all come to the roof to watch the two of them train. Where all of the spectators had been awed by Motoko's poise and grace with a sword, they had all been unimpressed by Keitaro.

Motoko was poetry in motion; gracefully lethal, the beauty and skill of her movements were obvious to all who observed. She didn't move, she danced; with poise that a ballerina would be hard pressed to match, she flowed through her katas with absolute confidence.

Keitaro was lethal to no one but himself; with his clumsiness, there was a good chance he would eventually fall on his sword. His attempts to emulate Motoko's movements resulted in an obscene parody of her skill. He would get to where he was trying to go, but he showed no style and grace to do it. He was heavy handed, had poor footwork, and was the polar opposite to Motoko in the area of grace.

Everyone had cheered him on and encouraged him, but they were all left wondering if Keitaro had a hope in hell of impressing Tsuruko. Keitaro was also having doubts, and he was wondering if Tsuruko had knowingly given him an impossible mission. It had been nice to be cheered by the other residents, especially Naru, but they hadn't made a difference. Cheers couldn't make him dig any deeper, or work any harder; he was already giving it his maximum effort, there was nothing more he could give.

The applause at the end had been a nice touch, although it had been a little embarrassing. He hadn't known whether to blush or bow, and had eventually done neither, just thanked everyone for being there. Everyone had shouted out encouragement to him as they left the rooftop, and it made him feel better that the other residents were giving him emotional support. Thinking about how hard he was working made him realize just how tired he was. He walked back inside and had just enough strength left to clean himself up and collapse into bed.

The next morning found Keitaro and Motoko sound asleep, taking advantage of the opportunity to sleep late. Out of reflex, each of them had individually woken earlier, but then they had remembered that they didn't have to get up early. They had fallen back asleep, each of them silently cursing the loss of those precious moments of slumber. As the world slowly came to life around them, Keitaro and Motoko were oblivious to it all as they slept on, not even getting up for breakfast.

The next morning, Keitaro was enjoying the slow ascent to consciousness instead of the usual snapping awake from an alarm. His exhausted mind and body were grateful for the break in the early morning routine. While he had been going to bed earlier to compensate for the early mornings, an early bedtime didn't have the same psychological lift that a late morning possessed. He could feel sunshine on his face; normally he didn't see the sun until after the morning training session was over. He was also unusually comfortable, but since he was in no hurry to get up, he didn't expend any energy to figure out why.

Motoko was also enjoying a rare morning off, and like Keitaro, she was in no rush to get up and get out of bed either. While she would never admit it, Motoko absolutely hated mornings, and would happily sleep until noon if she were able. The responsibility of training Keitaro, as well as the image of a swordswoman forced her to be an early riser, and thusly she relished any chance to sleep late she could get. Today was one of those few mornings where she could sleep in and not harm her reputation. So she ignored the usual 'wake-up' signals that the outside world sent her. She simply snuggled down onto the futon and tried to steal a few more minutes of sleep. She was also feeling good this morning but decided to just enjoy it a while longer.


Up in her room, Naru was pacing nervously and looking at the clock every half minute or so. 'It's 9:30,' she thought, 'what are they doing? They didn't come down for breakfast, and no one's seen them since last night. Did they leave early?' she wondered. 'When am I going to get a chance to talk to him?'

Naru had been planning to talk to Keitaro after breakfast, but breakfast had come and gone and there had been no sign of him. More than a little curious, she'd gone back to her room with the intention of talking to him when he came out of his room. An hour went by, and then another. Every single 'tick' of the clock seemed to be mocking her. By this time, Naru's patience and concern were in an inverse relationship, and her concern was getting quite high.

Finally, her patience reaching zero and exasperated beyond belief, she decided to use the trapdoor to talk to him, privacy be damned. She walked over to the dresser and lifted it off of the plywood that covered the hole. Pausing to take a breath and steel herself for what she was about to do, Naru lifted off the plywood and stuck her head into Keitaro's room for the first time in months.

"Keitaro, can I tal-" The final words died in her throat as what she was seeing registered with her brain. Keitaro and Motoko were asleep in each other's arms. Keitaro was on his back and Motoko's head was resting on his chest. Naru could see that the two of them weren't naked, but the sight of another woman in Keitaro's arms sent a new wave of anguish running through her. As a strangled sob escaped from her throat, she pulled her head back and recovered the hole.

Naru just sat down on her futon, stunned at what she had just seen. She couldn't reconcile what she had seen with what she knew of Keitaro. Keitaro, who had always been painfully shy around women, was sleeping comfortably with Motoko in his arms. Naru wanted to get angry, to jump down into his room and kick his ass. But instead of anger, the only way she could describe how she was feeling was 'numb'. There was none of her usual fire; in fact, the last time she had felt like this was when Keitaro and Motoko were married.

Her spirits had been buoyed by what Kitsune had told her of the training arrangement. She had hoped that Keitaro and Motoko would merely be civil to each other as they trained together. She had hoped that Keitaro had simply carried a torch for her, much like he had for his 'promise girl'. Mostly, she had hoped, no, not hoped, assumed, that she could walk back into Keitaro's life without any real change.

But what she had seen had shattered all of her hopes and dreams. The idea of Motoko and Keitaro staying together was no longer so outlandish, and Naru was once again regretting her decision to run away. Finally some of her anger returned. Most of it was directed at herself for practically giving Keitaro to Motoko. The rest was directed at Motoko for daring to accept what wasn't hers. Naru was acutely aware that she was angrier at Motoko than she had ever been towards anyone in her life.

She was also aware that at this particular moment, she would have given anything to trade places with her.

Then another voice entered her internal discussion; she was barely able to recognize it as her own. 'Tell him how you feel, you idiot! Nothing is going to happen if you just sit here!'

Startled by the vehemence that the other voice had, it took Naru a moment to collect her thoughts. 'What if he doesn't feel the same way?'

'So what?' The other voice shot back. 'What do you have to lose? He's only a step or two away from sleeping, and I do mean THAT kind of sleeping, with Motoko. If that happens, you're probably dead in the water.'

She cringed as she considered that. There was more truth to that statement than she wanted to admit. 'Then what can I do?'

'Whatever it takes! Let him know, make him think. He did care for you, right?'

'I, I think so,' she responded hesitantly.

'Then exploit that! All's fair in love and war, and this could probably qualify as both. Now go get him!'

'I have to think about what to say first, and, and I want to do it in private.'

'NO! DO IT NOW! Don't chicken out now!'

Naru found herself wishing that she possessed the confidence that her other voice had. 'I have to do this right…'

The other voice interrupted her train of thought. 'Just be yourself, that's what's right!'

Naru could almost hear the other voice gnashing its teeth. 'I'll do it my way.'

'Don't blame ME if it fails!' With that parting shot the voice went away.

Naru spent the next half hour or so trying to figure out the best way to tell Keitaro how she felt about him.


Naru's aborted question had succeeded in completely awakening both Keitaro and Motoko. The two of them roused themselves, and then realized where they were in relation to each other. They had woken up in an embrace like this once before, but on this morning Motoko didn't violently lurch away.

The two of them stared at each other for a few moments, blushed profusely, and both of their heart rates went through the roof.

But neither made any attempt to move.

"Good, good morning Motoko," Keitaro stated quietly, with a catch in his voice.

"Good morning Keitaro," Motoko replied in a voice that was only slightly louder.

And still they stayed in each other's arms.

"It's 9:30. We better get up if we want to leave by eleven," Keitaro said with very little conviction.

"You're right," Motoko replied just as firmly.

Finally, reluctantly, the two slipped out of each other's arms, Motoko getting up first, putting on a robe and heading for the bath. As soon as she closed the door behind her, Keitaro let out the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.

'Augh! I can't believe what I've been thinking, I can't believe what I've been DREAMING!' Keitaro had been having dreams that Haitani and Shirai would have been willing to pay a king's ransom to be able to see. Calling them 'hot' was a gross understatement. Keitaro had dreamt about girls before; his 'promise girl' of over fifteen years ago had played a starring role in his dreams since he had been a child.

But there was nothing childlike about the dreams he was having about Motoko. These recent dreams had been vivid in their detail, and had seemed almost real. He could recall Motoko's gasps and moans, he could almost remember the taste of her sweat on his lips. Some mornings, Keitaro had needed to discretely dispose of his underwear after he woke up.

"I've got to talk to her about this or I'm going to go insane," he murmured to himself. "The picnic will be the perfect time." With this, Keitaro began to concentrate on his kendo technique as a way of clearing his mind and calming himself down. He imagined himself performing the katas that Motoko had tried to teach him, but his brain, which was charged up on hormones and liking it, decided that the subject was boring and altered it. The replacement image his brain selected made Keitaro wonder if he could get his hands on some saltpetre.

At least nothing was wrong with his imagination, a detached part of his mind noted. This had to be imagination, because he would have remembered if Motoko had ever done those katas while wearing that French Maid outfit that Kitsune had given her. Hell, he would have remembered that after a frontal lobotomy. As he sat there reviewing those images in his mind, which left little, but still too much to the imagination, he realized that a cold shower was in order.


Keitaro put on a robe, did his best to conceal his… predicament, and slowly started skulking to his bathroom. He was deathly afraid of encountering the other residents, especially Naru. If he encountered her, and if she noticed his excited state, she'd knock him into orbit.

Around Neptune.


In the women's open-air bath, Motoko's thoughts were running along a similar tangent. She was glad that there was no one in the bath to witness her blush. 'If only Keitaro was that good in reality, Tsuruko wouldn't stand a chance!' her blush deepened as she recalled what happened after he'd proved his ability with a sword. He always swept her off her feet and kissed her, but last night Keitaro had not stopped with just a kiss.

Motoko had been having thoughts about Keitaro that would have made even Kitsune blush. When she had thought that she cared for him when he first arrived, she was ready to cheerfully run him through with her sword. But now she wasn't sure of how she should deal with these thoughts.

'Keitaro's still exactly the same person he was when he first arrived here. But how I think of him has changed,' she mused. 'He's a good person, a kind man, and I think I've fallen for him.' She stopped to think about the possibility of being with Keitaro versus being re-instated into the Shinmei School. What was once a simple choice was no longer so clear-cut. She was becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of being Keitaro's wife, but she wasn't yet ready to turn her back on the sword either.

Motoko sighed heavily and walked out of the bath. At least she'd be able to talk to Keitaro during the picnic. She walked back into their room and started to get dressed. She was putting on her chest bindings in preparation for wearing her usual outfit, when an impulse struck her.

Discarding the wraps, she went into her closet and pulled out a red sundress with spaghetti straps that she had never worn before. It was unlike anything that she normally wore, which meant it was perfect for today. She slipped it on and stood in front of a mirror, seeing how well it fit.


Motoko stopped cold. 'That wasn't me,' she realized. She turned around and saw Keitaro standing in the doorway, wearing only a towel after his morning bath. His lower jaw was somewhere in the vicinity of his ankles. The stunned look on his face told Motoko that he probably liked the dress. "What do you think, Keitaro?"

Keitaro stood there awestruck for a few moments before responding with, "Wow."

"I'm glad you like it," Motoko replied with a smile.

"Yeah," Keitaro rasped, his throat suddenly dry. He swallowed a few times before continuing. "Any advice on what I should wear?" he asked.

"Just wear what you want," Motoko replied.

Keitaro walked over to his closet and pulled out socks, a pair of underwear, a golf shirt and casual slacks. "Can you excuse me so I can get dressed?" he inquired.

Motoko rolled her eyes and replied, "Don't worry, I won't peek, unless you want me to," she said with a hint of a smile.

"You don't have to do that," Keitaro replied, waiting for Motoko to turn around before he started to get dressed. As he pulled up his underwear up under the towel, he took a look at Motoko. That dress was perfect for showing off her long, toned legs. The slender straps highlighted her graceful neck and soft shoulders. He continued pulling on his socks without conscious thought as he found himself admiring Motoko's physique.

As he was pulling up his slacks, he found himself thinking about running his hands along those shoulders, and maybe even sliding those straps off of them. He shook his head to clear that not entirely unwelcome thought, and tried to focus on just getting dressed. 'Yeah, we definitely need to talk today,' he reminded himself.

When Keitaro finished dressing, Motoko, who had almost given into temptation and peeked, turned around and nodded in approval at his outfit. "Very nice. Would you mind if we left now?" she asked. "That way we can have a nice relaxing walk and still make it in time."

Keitaro nodded in approval and they headed downstairs after Motoko retrieved a blanket from a linen closet. Once downstairs she went into the kitchen and came out with,

"A picnic basket?" Keitaro asked incredulously. "Where did you find that?"

Motoko shrugged. "It was in one of the rooms." With that the two of them walked outside, not noticing the concerned looks that graced Kitsune and Shinobu's faces.

As they were walking down the steps, Keitaro carrying the basket, Motoko the blanket, he asked her, "Where exactly are we going?"

"You'll see Keitaro," she replied coyly.

As the two of them walked through the city together, Keitaro couldn't help noticing all the admiring glances that Motoko was getting. As well, many of the men that the two of them encountered were taking a long look at Motoko and either nodding in approval or giving Keitaro looks that screamed, 'lucky bastard!'

Motoko was attractive even when wearing her modest kendo attire, but in that red dress she could literally stop traffic. Many, many men were taking long looks at her, much to their own peril. Keitaro saw one incident where a guy walking with his girlfriend had let his eyes linger on Motoko for too long and get slapped by his pissed-off girlfriend for his trouble.

They walked on, heading out of the city, making small talk as they went. It kind of felt like a first date, even though they were 'married', sort of, and the both of them still wore the wedding rings. Motoko wouldn't have removed hers regardless and Keitaro hadn't quite been able to bring himself to remove his, even after starting the training.

The crowds got less and less dense as the urban feel was replaced with a more natural setting. The area was familiar to Keitaro, but he couldn't figure out why. By now they both had quit talking, as they were both starting to think about what they were going to say to each other later on.

The sounds of civilization had completely faded away, replaced by the sounds of nature; birds chirped, leaves rustled, cicadas sang, and through it all a faint roar that was ringing bells in Keitaro's mind, and he wracked his brain to figure out why. He finally gave up and asked Motoko, "Why do I recognize this place?"

"Don't you remember the time I mastered that technique of my sister's?" replied Motoko.

With an almost audible 'click', the memory came rushing back to Keitaro. When Motoko had had her blade stopped by Tama-chan of all things, she had run away to this area to train. The 'Motoko Rescue and Return Brigade' consisting of Su, Sarah, and Tama-chan, and himself had followed her and brought her back to Hinata house, but not before she had tried to kill him and eventually perfect Tsuruko's technique.

"Yeah, now I do," he responded. "You came out here to do some training right? Scared me half to death with that 'Cutting Evil' technique."

"That's right," she replied. "Listen, I'm sorry I did that without your permission, and I…"

"Don't worry about it," he said dismissively. "You figured it out, and no harm was done. But why all this way for a picnic?"

'It's isolated, and I don't want anyone interrupting what I have to say.' "I thought it was nice calm place, and I've wanted to come back and just relax."

Keitaro looked around for a minute and then replied, "You're right, it is nice and peaceful. Shall we?" he asked as he hefted the picnic basket.


They decided to set the blanket down in the shade of a large oak tree and then they sat down and Keitaro opened the basket and took note of the contents inside.

"Sandwiches?" he asked Motoko.

"It seemed appropriate for a picnic," Motoko replied quietly, studying the hem of her dress.

Noticing that Motoko seemed to be a little embarrassed, Keitaro tried to put her at ease. "They look good, they look good!" he blurted out. "I, I'm just a little surprised that you made them, that's all." He was relieved when she seemed to relax a little at this comment.

They each took a sandwich and a bottle of water and they ate in silence, as they both enjoyed the surroundings.

Keitaro was outwardly calm, but inside his heart and mind were racing. 'What do I say?' he wondered. 'Motoko I think I'm falling for you, but I still like Naru? I like being married to you and I don't want to end it? I can't stop thinking about you? I don't know what I feel?' He sighed softly. 'This seemed easier before I actually had to do it.'

Motoko's thoughts were following a parallel course. 'You're special to me Keitaro. No, that isn't right. You don't have to impress Tsuruko, I don't mind being married to you. That isn't right either.'

As they were both thinking about what to say, they both idly reached into the basket for another bottle of water. Their hands briefly made contact, startling both of them out of their ruminations. For a few moments neither of them moved. They didn't make an attempt to increase contact or to pull their hands back.

It was at this impasse that Motoko decided it was time for her to say what she needed to say. She withdrew her hand and stood up, taking a breath to calm her nerves before she started. "Keitaro, I think we need to talk."

Despite the fact that he had been thinking the same thing, that phrase coming from Motoko still sent an involuntary shudder down his spine. Keitaro wasn't certain why; he figured maybe it was an automatic response hard wired into the male brain. "What about?" he asked, although he had a pretty good idea already.

"About us, our relationship."

"I agree, that's part of what I wanted to do today."

Motoko blinked in surprise. "Really?" she asked.

"Yes," Keitaro replied as he stood up and started to pace in order to keep his nervous energy in check.

Somewhat reassured by this admission, Motoko continued, "We weren't married willingly, correct?"


"But at the same time, neither of us was absolutely against it either."

After a moment, Keitaro replied, "Yes. I, I think you'd make a good wife, Motoko."

Motoko blushed slightly and smiled at this comment. "Thank you. When this started, I would have been happy to have a chance to end this, but now…"

"Now what?" Keitaro asked when Motoko just let the statement hang there.

"I'm, I'm starting to care for you Keitaro," she replied at only a hint over a whisper.

Keitaro stood there and let that piece of information sink in. Based on that, he quickly recalled the previous two months and certain events took on a new significance when viewed from the new perspective. For a few minutes he had no idea how to respond to that, but then he figured that Motoko was being absolutely truthful, and she deserved nothing less from him.

"I think I feel the same way," he replied softly. Keitaro stared at the tops of his shoes as he added, "You're a wonderful woman Motoko, I don't know any guy who wouldn't think so."

Motoko froze and held her breath, suddenly very afraid. That statement had sounded like there was going to be a 'but…' attached to the end of it.

"And I, I guess I'm just like any other guy Motoko."

Motoko stared at him in disbelief. 'Did, did he mean what I think he meant?'

"I'm, I'm starting to have feelings for you too, Motoko," he said quietly.

Time stopped for Motoko. She no longer heard the wind, birds or the waterfalls. All she could hear was the beating of her heart, and she realized that tears were threatening to burst forth any moment. 'He, he, he cares for me? I'm not dreaming, he said he has feelings for me!'

"But I don't know what we should do about it," he added quietly.

Motoko's elation came to a screeching halt at that statement. "What do you mean?"

"Do you honestly know how you feel about me?" he asked. "Have you thought out what that could mean to you and your future? And can I be absolutely honest with you?" Motoko nodded faintly and so he continued. "You must know I had feelings for Naru."

"Yes, it was obvious," she replied numbly.

"I think I still do, but I know I have some feelings for you, but I have no idea what to think or what to do," he said miserably. "There have been times I missed her terribly, but there have been times I've wanted you so much it hurt."

"You've wanted… me?" At this point Motoko felt like she was on a roller coaster from all of the emotional ups and downs she had experienced.

"Yes," Keitaro admitted softly while blushing as red as a lobster. "I, I don't know what to make of these feelings."

Keitaro's revelation made Motoko blush, but the thought of Keitaro wanting her gave her a greater thrill than she could ever remember having. It also caused her to recall some of her own fantasies about Keitaro. She forced herself to try to calm down and approach the situation objectively. When that failed, she decided to say the first thing that came into her mind. "What happens now?"

Keitaro sighed as he considered a response. Finally he said, "I don't know."

Motoko didn't respond to that. She was slightly disappointed, as it wasn't what she'd hoped for. At least now she knew for certain that he cared, and perhaps that would grow into something more.

Keitaro felt like he was in an impossible situation, torn between his feelings for Naru and his growing fondness for Motoko. The fork in the road he had reached had two different paths, one that was familiar and a second path that held the prospect of high risk, but also high reward. He didn't know if he was ready to leave the familiar path that he had walked before.

The two of them were emotionally drained by their heart to heart talk, and they both headed for the blanket to sit down and try to figure out what to do now. And that's when fate threw them one last curveball.

As Motoko stepped onto the blanket she tripped on a tree root the blanket was resting on. As she fell, Keitaro rushed to grab her and break her fall. He managed to reach her, but he also tripped over the same root and lost his balance as well. When the dust settled, Keitaro was on his back with Motoko in his arms, sprawled on top of him, their faces just inches apart.

When his head stopped spinning, Keitaro found himself staring into Motoko's eyes. A breath caught in his throat. 'My God, she's …beautiful.' Her hair had fallen down in a cascade to form a silken canopy around their heads, with a few loose strands covering her face. Almost of it's own accord, Keitaro's right hand slowly came up and gently brushed those strands away from her eyes. Keitaro then slowly rotated his hand and gently caressed Motoko's left cheek with the backs of his fingers.

Motoko closed her eyes and let out a shuddering breath at the softness of Keitaro's touch. She reached up with her left hand and gently took his right hand into it. She slowly twisted it and placed a feathery kiss upon the scar on his palm.

Gasping at the feel of Motoko's lips on his hand, Keitaro was momentarily rendered immobile. Once again, his body took the initiative that his brain lacked, slowly moving his hand back towards her neck and once there, gently grasping the back of it while his fingers intertwined with her hair, and he pulled her head towards his. She offered no resistance whatsoever. Angling his head slightly to avoid bumping noses and closing his own eyes, Keitaro would later have claimed that it had to have been ten minutes before his lips came into contact with Motoko's.

When their lips met, both of them opened their eyes wide, mostly as a shocked reflex of what was happening. In a heartbeat, and in perfect unison, they both closed their eyes and continued with the kiss.

Motoko thought about her previous kisses, first with Su's 'Krishna-chan' contraption, and then Su herself. The first one had been an infuriating experience, as it was unexpected and unwanted, and she had taken out her rage on the machine that had done it. The second kiss had been a little better, but Motoko had no interest in kissing girls, had felt slightly violated, and had been secretly crushed that her first two kisses had been disappointments.

Keitaro also reflected on his previous kisses with Mutsumi and Naru. His first kiss with Mutsumi had been an enormous shock, as he'd had no idea it was coming, and Naru's reaction had poisoned any possible romantic mood. His first kiss with Naru hadn't been much better as it had occurred only when Sarah had literally kicked their heads together. They'd both been lucky that they hadn't chipped a tooth in the experience.

But for the both of them, this kiss was what everyone wished a first kiss could be like. It was soft, gentle, and fuelled by an uncertain but genuine attraction. At some point one of them, or perhaps both of them, they honestly weren't sure, gently eased their tongue into the others mouth. This brought the both of them into uncharted territory, but neither seemed to mind the exploration.

Motoko quit holding herself up with her hands and let herself rest completely on Keitaro, moving her left hand behind his neck and her right to his left shoulder. Keitaro left his right hand where it was and moved his left hand around her waist, and then slowly slid it up until it was resting on the exposed skin of her back. He also became aware that another important decision maker in every man's life had taken notice and was now the source of great discomfort. Motoko noticed this new presence against her leg, but she didn't raise any objection at all.

For Keitaro, what made this kiss truly memorable was Motoko's hair; it was like black silk, and while Naru also had nice hair, it couldn't begin to compare with Motoko's. It was an ebony curtain around his head, and as nice as it had felt on his back, the sensation was at least ten times nicer on his face. He heard her moan softly into his mouth, and she was starting to slowly move against his body, causing all sorts of sparks to shoot up his spine. The moans were even sexier than he had dreamed they would be, and he realized that his left hand was pushing one of the straps off of her shoulder.

At this point, the last objective part of Keitaro's brain, which was in imminent danger of being washed away in the flash flood of desire coursing through his system, made it's final effort to stop what was happening. 'Are you absolutely sure about this?!' his mind screamed, before it's final resistance was overrun. This last ditch effort somehow managed to create just enough doubt in Keitaro to give him pause.

When Motoko broke off the kiss for some air, Keitaro placed his right hand on her cheek. He did this because it meant she couldn't just resume the kiss. He was flushed, aroused, and his breathing had gone shallow; one look at Motoko told him that she was in the same boat. Going against his body's urgent demands was incredibly difficult, but he managed to do it.


He also knew that if Motoko pushed the issue even slightly, he wouldn't be able, or willing, to resist any further.

While he tried to get his ragged breathing under control, he rasped out, "Are, are you sure about this Motoko?" He was almost desperately hoping that she would say 'yes' and then the two of them could resume.

This was not to be, as she paused for a moment and asked, "What, what do you mean?"

"Are you absolutely certain you want this? Without a doubt?" By this time the fire had started to ebb away slightly, and control was just a little easier.

"I, I don't know, but don't you want this? Don't you want me?"

"With every fiber of my being, but not if it will hurt you. I don't want you regretting this for the rest of your life."

Keitaro's words caused the same kind of doubts to enter Motoko, and while part of her was pleading to continue where she had left off, the rational part of her mind eventually won out. "I can't say for certain," she said softly.

"Then don't. If you're not certain, don't. I don't want you to resent me. If we do end up making love, I want it to be because you want it, not because you feel you must."

The two of them stayed in an embrace while she considered that. "How will I know?" she finally asked.

Keitaro thought for a moment and replied, "You know that little nagging voice in your head?"


"You won't hear it at all."

Motoko smiled in spite of herself. "So what happens now?"

"I, I guess we take it a day at a time, keep training, and see what happens."

"Keep training?" she asked.

"If you decide you don't want me, I'll still have to impress Tsuruko," he replied weakly.

"And what of Naru?"

"Same thing, just see what happens."

Motoko rested her head on Keitaro's chest, closed her eyes and listened to his heartbeat. It was rapid, but it was slowing down, much like her own. She realized that the experience had been draining both emotionally and physically, and she felt herself falling asleep. She decided to sleep where she was as it was quite comfortable, and she liked the feel of Keitaro's arms around her. By the sound of his breathing, Keitaro was starting to doze off as well, and that was fine with her. As she nodded off, the last thought that went through her mind was how peaceful she felt.


When the two of them woke up about two hours later, they packed up the rest of the lunch, shook the blanket off, and started the walk to Hinata House. The walk back was noteworthy, mainly because they walked most of the way back holding hands, with their fingers interlocked. When they got closer to Hinata House however, the two of them separated, somewhat reluctantly, and walked with a little more distance between them. They didn't feel like advertising that their relationship had changed, and they both figured that Kitsune didn't need any more ammunition to tease them with.

When they reached the bottom of the steps, Motoko asked Keitaro to stop, took a quick look around to make sure the coast was clear, and gave him a kiss. Then the two of them split up and started to walk up the steps. Keitaro was wearing a soft smile and feeling thankful that Motoko hadn't worn make-up and thus left any incriminating souvenirs on his face and clothes.

When they got back inside Kitsune took a look at the time, raised an eyebrow, but said nothing, turning her attention back to her horseracing. As Motoko went to the kitchen to put the leftovers into the fridge, Naru nervously approached Keitaro.

"Could I talk to you for a minute?" she asked. Internally, Naru was still desperately trying to think of what to say to Keitaro.

"Sure," replied Keitaro, who wasn't really focused at the moment, still thinking about what had happened that afternoon with Motoko. He followed Naru upstairs and into her room without really thinking about it. Naru closed the door behind her and as an afterthought locked it. "What's this about?" he asked.

The question was barely out of his mouth when he was shoved back against the wall and found Naru's lips against his own. 'Her lips feel different from Motoko's' the clinical part of his brain noted dryly as the rest of his higher functions crashed. There was such urgency and need in this kiss that Keitaro found himself kissing back, and wrapping his arms around Naru's waist. About a minute later Naru broke the kiss and moved out of his grasp.

"I think I might love you Keitaro," Naru interrupted. "Losing you once hurt, I don't want to have to go through that again."

Keitaro closed his eyes and muttered, "When it rains it pours."

"Pardon me?"

Keitaro looked up with a sickly smile and replied, "You're not the first person to say that to me today."

Naru's eyes opened wide and her hands flew to her mouth. "Mo, Motoko said it too?" she asked weakly.

Keitaro didn't say anything, but his silence spoke louder than any scream.

"What did you say?" she asked in a hoarse whisper.

Keitaro sighed. "The truth. That I'm starting to care for her, but that I've also missed you terribly. Neither of us knows what to do, so we'll just see what happens."

"But what about us? What about what we had?"

Keitaro was silent for a moment. "We never really had anything did we?" he asked weakly. "Aren't, aren't we 'just friends'?"

Naru felt the room spin as she considered that. But as bad as it seemed, there was some reason to have hope. "You haven't decided, have you?" she asked.

Keitaro shook his head. "I don't know what to do or think. I guess I'll know when the time comes."

Naru found that she had nothing that she could say to that, and so she walked out of the room, leaving Keitaro alone with his thoughts.

Keitaro stayed where he was, his mind attempting to assimilate all that he had heard today. Finally, he walked out of Naru's room and encountered Motoko as she was walking down the hall.

"What were you doing in there?" she asked uneasily.

"Experiencing deja-vu."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean we had almost the same conversation that the two of us had earlier."

Motoko went pale for a moment, but recovered quickly. "Why are you telling me this?" she asked weakly.

"Because you both deserve the truth."

Motoko thought about that for a minute. 'So now Naru finally admits she cares for him,' she thought bitterly. 'Only says that she wants to be his when I show interest in him.' She sighed as she considered the odds of Keitaro being willing to walk away from his first love. She looked at him, did her best to put on an upbeat front and said, "Thank you for your honesty. Now, I think we should get some more training done, wouldn't you agree?"

"I guess so, but now?"

"No time like the present Keitaro," she said as she turned and walked away, leaving a confused Keitaro behind her.

She walked into her room and changed into her kendo outfit. But as she was walking out of the room, her eyes fell upon the short sword on the rack. She found herself walking over and picking it up; she hadn't touched it since that fateful night months ago. Unlike that night, it was warm to the touch and felt comfortable in her hands. She closed her eyes and thought back to that night, which had been the absolute lowest point of her life.

Blood. There had been so much blood that night. But not hers, as she had originally intended. Keitaro's. He had accepted terrible injuries to protect her from herself. His hands bore the scars from that night. She had even kissed one of those scars a few hours ago.

She remembered kissing that scar, and then Keitaro, fondly. It had been wonderful, the highest point of her life so far. She had gone from the nadir of her existence to the zenith in just two short months. Only one person had the ability to rescue her, it seemed, both physically and emotionally.

She knew she was in no danger of returning to that depth of despair, but she realized that she was on the brink of falling from these heights. The sword she was holding had almost destroyed her physically. Now she was at a point in her life where she was about to damage herself emotionally.

'I love Keitaro,' she admitted to herself. 'But to become what I once was, I have to give him up. Or do I?'

She walked over to the drawer where she kept Tsuruko's letter, and re-read it carefully, considering exactly how her sister had phrased it.

"It, it doesn't say I have to give up Keitaro, it only says I can!' she realized excitedly. 'It's my choice!' She shook her head as she finally figured out what Tsuruko had been up to. 'Sister, I don't know whether to hug or strangle you.'

Motoko felt a great weight lift from her shoulders. She was free to do what she wanted. 'But what does Keitaro want?' she wondered. "Would he choose me or Naru?' She honestly wasn't sure, but she decided that she would make sure that he chose her. 'Naru wasted her chance with Keitaro, now it's my turn!'

Motoko put the sword back on the rack and started for the roof. She was standing prouder than she had in months, and with a purpose in her stride. Naru had thrown down the gauntlet, and Motoko would be damned if she wasn't going to pick it up.

End Chapter Six

Coming Soon: Chapter Seven: All's Fair In Love and War

When I say coming soon, I mean, think up to three weeks. It's getting nuts at work, and I'm known for pulling forty to fifty hours of overtime in two weeks. You do the math. The next chapter is coming, just not as quick as some of you might like. Sorry.

Yet again, thanks to Harvey Bautista for pre-reading this chapter. The drinks are on me, man.

Blah, Blah, Blah, Please Review, Blah, Blah, Blah.