[FFML] [AYA] The Wild, Wild East - Chapt. 6 - Whitewater Waffing
sandborn at kc.rr.com
Sun Jul 1 17:13:58 PDT 2007
The list is back! I guess I'll submit something.
[This has some... eh, 'almost lemon' parts. So, beware. ;-) ]
This story has been written without the knowledge or approval of Kou
Fumizuki - Hakusensha/ AIAO Project and Pioneer Animation. It is for
the enjoyment of Ai Yori Aoshi fans and written with respect for its
original creators and copyright holders.
The Wild, Wild East
Chapter 6 - Whitewater Waffing
by GL Sandborn
Friday morning, Kaoru Hanabishi stopped in before his regular
classes to see Professor Isemoto. Despite Tina's disappearance, he
tried to keep to a regular schedule.
"Ah, Hanabishi, what brings you here so early?" Professor Isemoto
said as Kaoru entered his office.
Kaoru held up his research book. "Just wanted to check in with you
before I finished the last of your research project."
The Professor chuckled and waved a hand in an embarrassed way. "I
suppose I should have told you earlier but the conference has been put
off a month," he said. "There's no real hurry now."
"Oh, well, I suppose that will give me time to check everything
again," Kaoru replied, tucking the book under his arm.
Professor Isemoto leaned back in his chair, ignoring its loud
squeak as he did, and reached for a large envelope. Taping its edge on
his desk for a moment, he appeared deep in thought.
Kaoru's eyes went from the envelope to the old man's face, unsure
of what he was pondering.
"Damned lot of nonsense," the professor muttered before dropping
the envelope on his desk like it contained bad news.
"What is, sir?" Kaoru asked, not certain he really wanted to know.
"Oh, it's just something the Dean sent me," the professor replied
with a heavy sigh. "The university is supposed to send a representative
to some overblown affair across town. All the universities are sending
someone. Since the Dean is going to be away on business, he gave the
invitation to me with instructions to find a suitable person to attend."
Kaoru relaxed at the news. "Is that all?" he said more to himself
than the professor. "Shouldn't be too difficult. The department has
several prominent professors who would be excellent representatives for
"You would think so, wouldn't you?" the professor said with another
chuckle. "The fact is, everyone I've asked is already scheduled this
"Even Professor Maeda?" Kaoru couldn't believe the most senior
member of the school's Economics Department - a man who had more awards
to his name than all the other professors combined - couldn't find time
to attend an important local function with other academics.
"Ah!" the professor exclaimed with a snort. "The old coot said
he's too busy with his next book to grace them with his presence." The
professor leaned forward. "If you ask me, he's planning on taking that
stupid dog of his out to his summer place for the weekend. While the
rest of Tokyo is fawning over whatever empty suits show up at this
function, he'll be napping on his front porch."
"Well, he is entitled to a little free time, now and then," Kaoru
said. He wasn't surprised that Professor Maeda would want some time to
himself at the age of seventy-five.
Professor Isemoto just grunted again. "If I don't find someone
soon, I'll have to go myself. My wife has plans for me this weekend, so
that will be difficult." With a sigh, the professor seemed resigned to
his fate. "I hate this trying to corner some poor sap into spending a
day listening to boring speeches and practicing their small talk with
people who define the very essence of the 'Peter Principal'."
Kaoru chuckled to himself. "I can't say I envy your task,
Isemoto eyed Kaoru in a strange way. It caused Kaoru to feel a
slight chill in the air.
"How's that girl of yours?" Isemoto asked with eyes narrowed as if
he had something in mind.
"Aoi-chan? Oh, she's just fine," Kaoru answered, tucking a hand
behind his head and laughing aloud.
"I suppose she's got plans for you this weekend."
"No, not really. She's doing something with her family, so I have
all weekend to..." Kaoru's voice tapered off as he suddenly realized
what the professor was getting at.
"My, my, all alone with nothing to do," Isemoto said with a tiny
smile that grew just enough to cause Kaoru to go from chilled to a
sudden sweat. "Hanabishi, you are one of the best students we have in
this law school."
Kaoru swallowed before answering. "Thank you, sir."
"So!" the professor exclaimed, slapping a hand on his desk hard
enough to cause Kaoru to flinch. "It's time you started meeting the
right people in a social setting."
"I appreciate the offer, sir. I mean, I agree that I need to start
socializing more but the fact is,... uh,... I don't have anything to
wear to such an event." Kaoru congratulated himself at coming up with
such a clever dodge.
The professor's smile grew. "That's not a problem, Hanabishi." He
pulled out a small pad of paper and started writing. "You just take
this down to Mr. Takano's shop just off campus and he'll fit you in
appropriate formal wear for the occasion."
As Isemoto held out the folded piece of paper for Kaoru to take, a
thought occurred to the young man. "Sir, I can't afford--"
"Don't worry, the university will pay for everything," Professor
Isemoto said with a broad smile. "It's the least we can do for our
official university representative."
"Are you sure about his, sir?" Kaoru hesitantly took the paper.
"Of course. You'll make a fine envoy," Isemoto leaned back in his
chair again, causing it to squeak even louder than before. "You'll fit
right in. I've heard that even Tokyo University is sending one of their
top graduate students - along with some overpaid gaijin professor."
"Oh," Kaoru said, looking at the paper.
"Just stand in the back and act interested in whatever blather you
hear, shake a few hands, drink some lousy fruit punch, and duck out in
time for dinner. Speaking of which..." Isemoto rummaged through his
top drawer before finding what he was looking for. Holding out another
envelope, he smiled again. "I won this at a raffle last week. It's
good for two free meals at that new French restaurant up by Hibiya Park.
I hear all the big-shots from the government show up there from time to
time. It's a perfect place to be seen with a pretty girl, Hanabishi."
Kaoru couldn't believe his luck. He'd been thinking about taking
Aoi-chan out to someplace nice but never felt like he had enough money.
It wouldn't look right for her to pay the check, even though she
probably carried around with her enough money to treat everyone at the
mansion. "Thank you, sir," Kaoru said with a respectful bow. "I'll do
my best to represent the university in a dignified manner."
Professor Isemoto dismissed Kaoru with a wave of his hand and a
relieved chuckle. "I have no doubt you will, Hanabishi."
Outside the office, Kaoru couldn't contain his curiosity. He
gently opened the invitation and pulled it out of its envelope. An
embarrassed smile grew as he read where this special event was to take
Tina woke to a smell of smoke. Blinking her watering eyes, she
coughed and tried to cover her nose with the futon comforter. There was
a fire somewhere in the mansion. Judging by the amount of smoke, it had
to be a big one.
Crawling out of her bed, she headed for the door on her hands and
knees. Every gulp of foul air caused her to choke as she slowly made
her way to the relative safety of the hallway. As she approached her
door, the smoke seemed to billow up around her, choking off what little
breathable air remained in the room and driving her back towards the
She couldn't remember why she had fallen asleep in the mansion.
After all, her room was in the servants' quarters. But it didn't make
any difference now. She was trapped in a smoke-filled room by a fire
raging out of control.
As she reached the window, sounds of the fire and commotion in the
mansion reached her ears. She could hear Miss Manager shouting about
finding Uzume and Taeko yelling at Chika-chan to hurry up.
Coughing, Tina pushed open the window and hung her head outside,
teased by patches of cleaner air that appeared only briefly and
disappeared just as fast. Great balls of smoke billowed up from the
level below causing the terror of being trapped in a dark, smoky second
floor room a very real possibility.
Footsteps outside her door were accompanied by the screams of a
terrified female from somewhere down the hall.
"Kaoru!" the voice called. Tina recognized that voice. It was Aoi
Sakuraba. She must also be trapped somewhere inside the mansion,
probably in her bedroom.
With her own situation every bit as dire as Aoi's, Tina called to
Kaoru. He had to be close enough to hear. Judging by the sounds in the
hallway, he must have been just outside her door.
"Kaoru, I'm in here!" she called again, but the footsteps never
hesitated, fading away as he heard Kaoru's voice.
"I'm coming, Aoi-chan!" he yelled, his voice sounding farther away.
"Kaoru, not that way! In here!" Tina screamed before being
overwhelmed by the smoke. She gagged on the oppressive black cloud that
seemed to envelope her more than the room itself. "Please, Kaoru!"
From just down the hall, she could hear Kaoru's voice. He sounded
calm and reassuring. "I'm here, Aoi-chan. I'll get you out."
"Kaoru! Help me!" Tina shouted to the gathering darkness of her
room. The sounds of Kaoru's comforting voice faded as he and Aoi
Sakuraba moved towards the stairs and safety.
With a gasp, Tina woke. Her body shuddered as she hugged herself
and trembled. The rocking of the train car and sound of the ventilators
reassured her it was just a dream. Instead of being trapped in a smoky
second floor room in the Sakuraba mansion, she was sitting in a window
seat on the train, her feet up on the facing seat. A large bag of ice
lay draped over her abused ankles. Steven sat in the aisle seat across
from her, eyeing her with a concerned expression.
"Nightmare?" he asked, almost as if he was interested.
All Tina could do was nod and hug herself tighter as she stared at
the seat in front of her. The fire, the smoke, and even the sound of
Kaoru's voice made her dream seem so real. The details continued to
swirl in her head, especially the part where Kaoru didn't hear her calls
for help. Or, perhaps, he heard but chose Aoi to rescue. Could that be
why she suddenly felt so chilled?
Tina licked her dry lips as her chin dropped to her chest. In her
dream, it hadn't scared her so much that she and Aoi were both in
danger. It was who Kaoru chose to rescue.
"You okay?" Steven asked, sounding more like he was more concerned
"Yes," she answered, her voice sounding hoarse and far away.
"From the sounds of things, that must have been a bad one," he
said, referring to her dream. "You were starting to get loud. Almost
woke up the other passengers."
"Sorry," she whispered, too embarrassed to say it louder.
Steven sighed and stood up, grabbing the back of his seat to keep
his balance in the rocking train car. "I better get some more ice for
your ankles," he said. "You stay put. I'll only be a minute."
As he turned to leave, Tina felt another wave of panic come over
her. It was almost as bad as the dream. "I didn't mean it," she said,
still looking at her lap. She could tell Steven was rooted next to his
vacated seat, listening to her every word. "What I said in my dream
last night." Her eyes scanned up to Steven. She wasn't sure just how
to say what she really meant but knew she had to try. "It was just a
dream, Steven. When I returned from high school in California, I met
Kaoru. He was my only friend in Tokyo. He made me feel like I wasn't a
gaijin. He made me feel like I belonged." Tina drew a deep breath,
averting her eyes again. This was a confession she hoped she'd never
have to make. "I know he liked me but not... in that way. I mean, it's
not like he didn't have a chance to... you know. I guess, all along, he
didn't want to hurt my feelings by telling me how it really was."
Admitting it out loud to anybody, much less a virtual stranger,
left her feeling miserable.
"I sometimes don't know where I belong," she said softly. "I mean,
I'm not Japanese, so I don't belong here. I'm too Japanese to belong in
America." She folded her arms and slid deeper into the seat. "I guess
I really don't have anyone, Steven. I thought I was helping Kaoru with
his loneliness by being friends with him, but all I was really doing was
trying to cover my own."
For several long seconds, all that she heard was the train rolling
over the tracks.
"Do you want to go home to that place in Tokyo?" Steven asked in a
"Yes! Well, maybe," she said with a frown. "I guess..., I just
don't know anymore. The only friends I really have are there. I mean,
it would be nice to talk to Miss Landlord again. She's so much smarter
about things than I am. She always has a way of making complicated
"Look, Tina, this is probably a bad time to be making plans about
the future," Steven said. "I'm sorry, about back at the station. I
probably jumped to conclusions." He sighed heavily. "I told you
earlier that I'm no good at this 'relationship' stuff. I guess that's
why I've always had trouble with girls." He paused as if choosing his
words carefully. "When I'm done with this job, I'm quitting. I'll
probably have to pay my own way home. Before I go, I'd like to take you
out just one time. Maybe we can talk more about where you belong then."
Tina blinked at him as his words slowly settled in. "You... you
mean you're asking me to go on a date?" she said wide eyes.
"If you're willing to be seen with me," he replied with a sheepish
With a nervous sniff and embarrassed smile, she felt like a
drowning swimmer who had just been thrown a rope. Of course she would
go out with him. Two Americans, together in Tokyo. What could be more
romantic than that?
"I'd like that," she said with a blush. She had to admit, it was
probably the most tender offer she'd ever had. Steven was right, of
course. Just another day or so and it would all be over. He'd turn
over that stupid card key and the Koreans would then be hunting someone
else. She and Steven could slip back into Tokyo and begin to think
about a future.
They. She rolled the word around in her head. She had never
really considered making 'they' kind of plans. It was always 'me'
plans, as in, plans for her and her alone. She wasn't' sure she even
knew how to make 'they' plans.
"I'll get that ice and be right back," Steven said.
Tina's hand shot out to grab his arm. When he looked questioningly
her way, she felt herself blush again. He really was good looking, even
in a darkened train car. "Don't be long," she said.
He patted her hand and chuckled. "Not to worry. I really think
you fixed it so the Koreans can't track us anymore. If it wasn't for
you, they'd probably already have the key back and I'd be..." He
shrugged as if the getting killed in the line of duty didn't bother him,
or at least it was now only a hypothetical exercise.
When he returned a few minutes later with a fresh bag of ice, he
took the aisle seat next to her. She slowly flexed her feet, testing
how well the ice was working. Despite a little stiffness, her ankles
felt better than ever.
With a heavy sigh, she leaned against his warm body and snuggled
for a comfortable position. The gentle rocking of the train and soft
hiss of the ventilators soon lulled her to sleep.
They spent almost six hours in the Nagano train station waiting for
the first morning train down to Aomizusaki. Tina dozed in her seat,
resting her head on Steven's shoulder. She couldn't tell if he slept at
all, he was awake every time she checked, but he remained close all
night and that gave her the comfort to doze off again. Unlike before,
her sleep was free of nightmares.
Kaoru yawned as he sat alone on the sofa in the mansion watching
television. Aoi and Taeko were still in the kitchen, probably preparing
something special for breakfast. He had tried to help but Aoi just
shooed him back in front of the TV with promises that the wait would be
He hadn't told anyone that he was going to be at the opening of the
Sakuraba Center. He wanted that to be a secret. He thought it would
give him a chance to see Aoi in a formal setting without her worrying
about him or how people might react to seeing them together. He would
just stand in the back, out of sight, and watch her from afar.
The morning news was playing and the weather girl had just finished
describing how beautiful the weekend would be. He smiled thinking how
it will make things perfect for the opening.
The next scene was a reporter down in front of the national
telephone building talking about how a system failure had blanked out
all the lines from Japan to a certain exchange in Washington, DC. The
reporter indicated it was almost certain that an unauthorized person or
persons had switched the circuits into test mode so that whenever
someone tried to dial that part of America, the phone would ring and
then hang up. There was some concern since the person responsible for
doing this had used the telephone computer system to secure the change
in such a way as to be unnoticed for three days. As this exchange only
disrupted a small number of phones, it did not effect diplomatic phone
service or in any way disrupt communications between the Japanese and
Kaoru yawned again. It was the same old thing; somebody made a
mistake and everyone was trying to publicly cover it up while trying to
locate the culprit. Well, good luck with that, he thought. Of course,
he couldn't think of anyone outside the government that might want to
call Washington in the first place. No wonder nobody noticed.
When Aoi called everyone to breakfast, he dismissed the whole issue
in favor of finding out what specialty she had prepared today.
Tina was awake when they arrived in the seaside resort town of
Aomizusaki. Right away, she recognized the place.
"Hey, this is where we spent last summer," she said as they exited
the train at a leisurely pace. "Taeko's grandmother has a place here."
"Do you remember where it is?" Steven asked, still looking round
for trouble. It was probably just a habit, she thought but said
nothing. After all, they hadn't seen a Korean all night.
"I think so." Tina squinted towards the ocean. "I remember it was
somewhere on the beach."
It took her a few tries - the beach area being much larger than she
remembered - but she eventually found Mrs. Minazuki's beach front cafe.
By then, it was late in the morning and the temperature was rising fast.
"Tina!" Mrs. Minazuki crowed as they entered the cafe. "How
wonderful to see you again. Are the others with you?" she asked,
leaning over to see behind the blond. Instead of her granddaughter and
friends, all she saw was a large American, grinning sheepishly.
Tina just gave a little shrug. "No," she said, almost
apologetically, "it's just me... er, us."
Mrs. Minazuki looked disappointed until her gaze caught on Tina's
left hand. With a delighted gasp, she clapped her hands together. "Oh,
Tina, you got married."
"Huh?" Tina hesitated before remembering her cover. "Ah, yeah. I
"When did that happen? Is this the lucky young man?" Mrs.
Minazuki seemed to bubble with enthusiasm over the young woman's
apparent change in marital status.
Tina rubbed the back of her head with her left hand, more to hide
the evidence than embarrassment. "Oh, it was kinda sudden. Steven and
I have only been married for two days."
"Then this must be your honeymoon," Mrs. Minazuki exclaimed
happily. "No wonder the others didn't come with you."
"Yeah, well, we were wondering if you could think of someplace we
could stay for the evening," Tina said.
"I'm sorry, Tina. It's the tourist season. All the hotels and
inns are booked." The old lady paused to think as Tina held her breath.
"I know," she said as if it were an original idea. "Why don't you and
your new husband stay here?"
Tina tried to hide her relief at the invitation. They really
didn't have enough money to stay in a proper hotel and she had hoped
Mrs. Minzuki would ask them to stay. "Really?" she replied with all the
mock surprise she could muster.
"Of course." Mrs. Minazuki clapped her hands like she had just won
a game show. "You can use Taeko's room. She pretty much cleaned it out
when she moved to Tokyo. I can bring in another futon and some
comforters. Of course, you won't need comforters in this heat." She
chuckled to herself before eyeing Tina in a sly manner. "Besides, you
have your new husband to keep you warm at night."
Tina blushed and nervously played with her ring at the mention of
sleeping with Steven. In the same room was okay but... well, she wasn't
ready for actually sleeping with him - at least, not yet.
"Let me show you the way." Mrs. Minazuki turned towards the back
of her shop, Tina and Steven followed along in her wake.
Up on the second floor, she indicated a modest room overlooking the
ocean. "You'll get a wonderful breeze up here in the evening. I should
know, my room is right next to this." The old lady blushed as she
suddenly noticed what she had said. Leaning closer to Tina, she said in
a loud whisper, "I won't say a thing, if I hear anything." She giggled
like a school girl.
Tina could only blush and glance at Steven. He acted embarrassed
and tried a painful little smile.
The call from a delivery man downstairs caused Mrs. Minazuki to beg
their pardon as she had to deal with running a business.
As Mrs. Minazuki scurried off, Tina turned to Steven. "I hope that
didn't give you any ideas," she said in a low voice.
"Of course not," Steven replied, stepping into their room. "The
mission comes first."
She was both relieved and a little disappointed in his answer.
Naturally, she didn't want something to REALLY happen, but it would have
been nice if he at least tried - a little. After all, they were
married. Okay, not really, but something in her wanted to pretend - if
only for an evening.
Dropping their bag in a corner, Steven looked out the window. The
view was wonderful. Overlooking the wide, sandy beach with the ocean
beyond, it was a suitable romantic hideaway for a young honeymooning
couple. With a sigh, he turned away from the inviting view. "I better
find that contact and get rid of this thing," he said, patting his pants
pocket. "The sooner that happens, the happier I'll be."
"Want me to come with?" Tina asked.
"No, you stay here with Mrs. Minazuki." Placing his hands on her
shoulders, he looked into her eyes and hesitated.
Something in her silently begged him to finish, to bend over and
give her a kiss or something. Anything was better than just standing
there looking at her like it was the last time they were going to see
Patting her shoulder like a guy would his pal, Steven stepped
around her in the doorway and quickly disappeared down the stairs.
Tina suddenly gasped and took a deep breath. She hadn't noticed
that she had been holding her breath throughout 'the moment that never
happened'. With a couple of cleansing breaths, she dropped her hands to
her side and slowly shook her head. Perhaps, it was never meant to be,
she thought. Maybe he was right when he said he didn't know how to be
Steven quietly slipped out the back way. Mrs. Minazuki didn't seem
to notice as she was bargaining with the delivery man over some extra
cases of beer he had.
Pausing on the path that ran behind all the seafront shops, Steven
tried to figure out where a particular pastry shop might be. Thinking
one direction was as good as another, he started towards the string of
shops that extended to where the breakwater came ashore. Maybe he would
Get lucky, he thought with a silent chuckle. Chancing a glance
back at the building where he left Tina, he shook his head at her
expression as he held her shoulders. Poor kid, he thought. She was
probably expecting something romantic when they found themselves alone.
She must be taking this 'married' business too seriously. Maybe he
could afford to take her out for dinner or something when he got back.
Since they didn't need to pay for the room, he might just be able to
Passing shop after shop, finding everything but a pastry shop, he
was beginning to think he had chosen badly. His luck seemed to turn
when he got to the last shop before the stone wall that marked the end
of the beach. "Ichibon Pastries," he said softly to himself. This was
Looking around casually to make sure he wasn't being watched, he
cut between shops and emerged on the beach in front of his target. The
awnings that usually doubled as security walls were up, opening the
entire front of the shop to prospective customers. The left side of the
shop was where the serving counter and display cases were. Two women
were stocking pastries in the displays and happily chatting about some
TV show they had watched last night. The right half of the shop was a
large open area with a number of tables and chairs. A bored-looking
younger woman was idly sweeping her way around the tables. With a deep
breath, he lightly skipped up the steps towards the two women behind the
"Good morning," he called cheerfully.
"Good morning, sir," the two women answered together.
The older-looking woman bowed and smiled. "I'm sorry, sir, but the
shop doesn't open until ten," she said.
"That's quite all right," Steven replied with a dismissive gesture.
"I was actually wondering if one of you could help me find something
special for my wife."
"Oh, what would that be?" the woman asked with a friendly smile.
"I have some friends who came through here last year and they said
this was the only place in Japan where a person could find blue
watermelon," Steven said innocently. He needed to sound like a clueless
gaijin. From the expressions the two women exchanged, he was playing
his part well.
"Blue watermelon?" the older woman asked.
The two women appeared uncomfortable at his question. "I'm sorry,
sir, but we've never heard of such a thing," the older woman replied.
"Oh," Steven said in an embarrassed way. Rubbing the back of his
head with a hand, he smiled apologetically. "I guess my friends were
playing a joke on me. They said everybody in Aomizusaki knew about blue
watermelons. I'm sorry to have bothered you."
He bowed a few times and scurried for the beach like a college kid
that had been tricked.
Stopping on the sand in front of the shop, he tried to figure out
where he had gone wrong. Perhaps there was another Ichibon Pastry shop
in town. Maybe he was at the wrong place. That had to be it. It was
just at the wrong place.
As he turned back up the beach, he heard a soft voice quietly
trying to get his attention from around the other side of the shop.
Casting a glance at the two women behind the counter who had gone back
to stocking their displays, he followed the voice.
As he rounded the corner, he was surprised to see waiting for him
the young woman who earlier had been sweeping the shop. Motioning him
to follow her further, he cautiously moved her direction until they were
both fully out of sight of the beach. In the narrow space between the
shop and the stone wall, the girl looked nervously around to make sure
they were unobserved.
"Are you looking for blue watermelon?" she asked in a hushed voice.
"Yes, do you know where I can find one?"
She hesitated and looked around again. "They only grow on Yoro
Steven sighed. That was the right response. He had found his
"What happened? Why are you here?" she demanded.
"My cover has been blown. My partner is dead and I've got
something I need to get back to our people right away," he said very
As he began to pull the card key out of his pocket, the girl
suddenly grabbed his arm to stop him. "Not here. Not now," she said
urgently. "Come back tonight, after work, at ten o'clock. I'll meet
you out where the breakwater comes ashore."
She quickly turned to leave but Steven stopped her. "Can I at
least have a name? What should I call you?"
The girl smiled and pinched a strip of red highlight that ran the
length of her long dark hair. "They call me Akai."
With a saucy turn she quickly disappeared around the side of the
shop, leaving Steven alone in the narrow alleyway.
"Well, I guess I can wait until ten," he said to himself. "It's
just a little longer."
Steven backtracked his way to the Minazuki shop and arrived just as
Mrs. Minazuki was hanging up the phone. She didn't look happy.
"Something wrong?" he asked like an innocent gaijin. It was a part
he was getting good at.
"That worthless kid," the old woman said with a sad shake of her
head. "What's wrong with kids today? I mean, when I was younger, we
knew how to keep a job."
Steven chuckled. "Yeah, I guess kids are different now."
"There are exceptions," Mrs. Minazuki said thoughtfully. "Take
Taeko, for example. She just can't do enough. She's always working
hard and doing her best at whatever job she has."
"Yes, I think I met her once." Steven tried not to remember how he
almost shot the young maid in Tina's room.
"Now I don't have a dishwasher for the lunch shift," Mrs. Minazuki
That gave Steven an idea. "Well, since you've been nice enough to
let us stay here, why don't I take his place."
"Oh, I couldn't do that," she said with a wave of her hand.
"You're on your honeymoon."
"What couldn't you do?" Tina asked from the bottom of the stairs.
"Tina, your husband just offered to wash dishes for me until the
dinner shift comes in at four. But I can't ask him to work and leave
his new wife all alone.
"Well, then Tina can help, too," Steven said with a grin Tina's
way. She didn't look like the idea appealed to her.
"I thought we might go to the beach," Tina said softly with a tiny
"There'll be plenty of time for that later. I can wash dishes and
you can help out front." Steven cocked his head, hoping Tina wouldn't
Tina started to say something but the look he gave her in return
stopped her in her tracks. "Yeah, I guess that would be fair," she said
"My grandson will bus tables, so you don't have to worry about
that," Mrs. Minazuki said thoughtfully. "Just take the orders and I'll
help Mr. Maruta get the food ready."
"Sounds like a plan," Steven said, reaching for an apron.
Mrs. Minazuki happily scampered off to finish getting ready to
open. Tina approached Steven with a worried expression.
"I guess, I was just being selfish again," she said, looking down
at the floor. "You're right. We should be helping out since Mrs.
Minazuki has been so nice to let us stay here for free."
Steven patted her shoulder. "That's my girl." When she didn't
appear any happier at the compliment, he bent over enough to look her in
the eyes. "Cheer up. You'll enjoy it. Besides, how many beach front
cafes can boast of having a pretty blond waitress?"
"Yeah, it might even be fun," Tina said, her voice filling with
Despite having her afternoon plans spoiled, Tina threw herself into
her work - greeting people as they entered, taking orders, and generally
flirting with the cute guys that seemed to swarm Mrs. Minazuki's little
cafe. Word had obviously spread up and down the beach that the place
had a new waitress, a blonde American waitress.
Sometimes, between delivering orders to the kitchen and taking
meals out to the customers, she checked on Steven. To her amusement, he
seemed to be having the time of his life. More than that, he actually
seemed to know what he was doing. Plates and glasses practically flew
from the bussing tray into his steamy soap water only to reappear
moments later washed, rinsed, stacked, and ready to dry.
Despite the flirtatious guys and an occasional pinch on the butt,
she continued to maintain her composure, comporting herself in a happy
and friendly manner. She had to admit, even without taking time to
drink with the patrons, working for Mrs. Minazuki was kinda fun.
All too soon, it seemed, the evening shift reported for duty. As
Tina hung up her waitress apron, Mrs. Minazuki waddled towards her,
wiping her hands on a towel.
"Thank you so much, Tina," the old lady said. "I don't know what I
would have done without you and your husband."
Tina dismissed the compliment with an embarrassed wave of her
hands. "That's okay. It gave us something to do."
Mrs. Minazuki chuckled, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "I'll
bet there was something you two would rather be doing."
Tina blinked for a moment until it dawned on her what the old lady
meant. "Oh... uh, no. That's okay," she said, blushing furiously and
waving her hands even faster.
With a nudge from her elbow, Mrs. Minazuki winked and leaned
closer, keeping her voice down. "I understand completely. But I want
to make it up to you and your husband." She reached under one of the
dish drying tables. Struggling a bit, she finally pulled out a bucket
full of ice. It contained cans of beer and a small bottle of sake. "I
want you to take these upstairs to your room. Mr. Maruta is making you
two a basket of food."
"Oh, that's not necessary," Tina stammered.
"But it IS," Mrs. Minazuki insisted. "You two are such a lovely
couple. You deserve a night in a fancy resort. But, since we can't
provide that, I'm sure you two can think of something to do up in your
room." She leaned closer and almost loud whispered. "The patrons down
here will be making so much noise, I'm sure nobody will hear you."
"Hear me?" Tina asked in a small voice while accepting the bucket
"Well, you know how it can get when two people are in love," the
old lady replied with a wink.
All Tina could do was stare at the far wall, her eyes glazed. Sex
in a room directly over a noisy cafe with dozens of people only yards
away, wasn't her idea of a romantic rendezvous. She swallowed hard and
tried to object, but all that came out was a tiny squeak.
"I trust you have sufficient protection," the old lady asked in her
soft voice. "That is, unless you want to get pregnant." She paused as
the thought brought a smile to her face. "That would be wonderful," she
gushed. "Tina pregnant. Won't Taeko and the others be surprised."
Surprised wasn't exactly the word Tina would have used. It would
be more like, shocked, stunned, or even flabbergasted.
"Now you take this bucket upstairs and I'll send your husband up -
after I make him clean up a bit," Mrs. Minazuki said with a chuckle.
Tina could feel her face growing red as she slowly turned towards
the stairs. Her first instinct was to drop the bucket and run. But
that wouldn't look very good.
Feeling trapped, she lurched towards the stairs. All the time, her
mind toyed with her, issuing dares and vague promises of what she was
about to experience. It wasn't like she was too young for this. She
was twenty-four and had barely kissed a guy. That wasn't sex - it
wasn't even good foreplay. Sure, she was curious about sex - what girl
wasn't - but it all seemed so rushed. It wasn't as if she and Steven
were really married. Their marital status was a cover - nothing more.
The top step almost tipped her, causing an embarrassing stumble.
Not a good sign, she thought. When she stepped into Taeko's old room,
she felt her body tremble uncontrollably.
Setting the bucket down, she hugged herself and tried to think of a
way out of this. She couldn't have sex yet. She didn't even have a
boyfriend. Well, not a real one. All she had was Steven and he was
just a spy guy she was just tagging along with to stay out of trouble.
Sure, he was nice and all, but no romantic double oh spy or anything.
Instinctively, she pulled out a can of beer and quickly emptied it.
That was quickly followed by another - and then a third. She continued
pulling cans and opening them until she had consumed all the beer in the
bucket. The small bottle of saki - the only alcohol left - was her last
resort. She figured that if she got enough booze in her, she might just
pass out and avoid the whole sex issue altogether.
Draining the last of the saki, she lowered the bottle in time to
see Steven standing in the doorway with a curious expression. Take
that, mister spy guy, she thought. He wouldn't dare try anything with
her in her current condition. That would be... well, rape.
"You okay?" Steven said with a tilt of his head.
All Tina could respond with was a silly low chuckle.
His eyes fell to the bucket containing only some forlorn ice
floating in its melted brethren. "I see you started without me," he
said, entering the room. "Should I go see about some more to drink?"
Tina slipped away from him with quick, tiny side steps. "No," she
Steven's eyes looked left and then right. "Oooookay. Why are you
acting so strange? Did I scare you?"
Tina giggled nervously. "Yeah, that's it. You just scared me.
Silly me." She giggled again, much more forcefully than before. "I
really have no reason to be scared. After all, we're sorta like, you
know, married and why shouldn't you be in my room - I mean, OUR room?
It's not like we're going to have sex or anything."
Steven stood dumbfounded at the suggestion. "If you say so."
Remembering what he had brought from downstairs, he pulled out from
behind his back a small picnic-style basket. "Look what Mr. Maruta
fixed us. That was really nice of him, don't you think?"
Tina stared at the basket like it contained an assortment of sex
With a frown, Steven cocked his head. "Are you sure you're okay?"
Taking a deep breath, Tina forced a smile. "Of course. What would
make you think otherwise?" she said, trying to cross her arms but her
breasts kept getting in the way.
"I don't know. You're acting all... weird." He frowned in
confusion. She usually didn't act THIS strange. Something must be
wrong, he concluded. "Sure you don't want me to get you more to drink.
I think Mrs. Minazuki has more beer, if you want."
Tina's eyes narrowed. "You'd like that, wouldn't you? You just
wanna get me drunk," she warned in a low voice.
"I doubt you need my help for that," Steven replied, setting the
basket on the floor. "I'm just trying to figure out what this is all
Still eyeing him, she quickly sat down on the window sill
overlooking the beach and eyed him suspiciously. For a few moments, the
room was silent allowing in the unimpeded sounds of people outside
packing their things to go home mixed with the more raucous folks down
in Mrs. Minazuki's cafe. "Then Taeko's grandmother didn't say anything
to you?" she asked with narrowed eyes.
Sighing, Steven dropped to the floor next to the basket of food.
"Only that I should not disappoint my wife - whatever that meant," he
replied with a shrug.
"I KNEW it!" she snarled, jumping to her feet. "You've come to
have your way with me."
Steven froze in the act of pulling out a grilled shrimp from the
basket. Slowly lowering the shrimp back, he eyed her with a curious
expression. "Have my way with you?"
"That's right. You're here to ravage me and deflower this innocent
Things were coming together in Steven's head. All the drinking,
the comment from Mrs. Minazuki, and Tina's sudden strange behavior - it
all added up now. With a heavy sigh, he shook his head. "Nope. I told
you before. I'm not going to do anything that would compromise--"
"WHY NOT?" she gasped incredulously. "What's wrong with this body?
Am I not pretty enough for you? Are my boobs too small?" She absently
grabbed her own breasts and gave them a squeeze. That act caused her to
pause a moment with a curious frown. "Actually, they're not bad." She
squeezed them again. "I wonder, have I been squeezing other women's
breasts in compensation for my reluctance to touch my own?"
Steven leaned over and propped his head on a fist. "I see you've
had some psychology classes at that college. I wonder what comes next?"
"Well, it's NOT touching these!" she yelled as she continued to
fondle her charms. Her attention quickly switched back to what she was
doing. "I really need to do this more often."
"You want me to leave you alone with yourself? You seem to be
getting along so well." Steven yawned and pulled another grilled shrimp
from the basket.
"Aren't you the least bit turned on by this?" she gasped, her
fingers still kneading her breasts.
"Of course," he replied. "However, I also remember promising you
that I wouldn't do anything to you."
"YOU COULD, AT LEAST, TRY!" She released her breasts to flap her
arms in frustration. "What's wrong with me?"
Steven sighed. "Tina, you're a beautiful, sexy young lady - with a
small drinking problem." He paused as she snatched an empty beer can
from the floor and threw it his way. He just frowned at her as it
sailed past him, missing his head by more than a foot. "Okay, a big
drinking problem. You also throw like a girl."
"I AM a girl, stupid!" To prove her point, she ripped open her
shirt, exposing her bra-encased breasts. "I've got all the right
equipment to be a girl!" She unsnapped her shorts and quickly slid them
down her legs. Stepping out of them, she kicked the discarded shorts
his way. As they settled over his head, she did a complete pirouette,
ending with reaching behind her back for the bra catch. "I'll show you
how much of a desirable woman I am."
Steven whipped the shorts off his head. "I told you before, NOT
until we're done with this mission. If you still feel this way then,
we'll go somewhere and... you know."
The bra snap came free but she didn't seem to notice. "You mean
it?" she asked in a tiny voice, as if she couldn't believe what he just
A light breeze from the open window flowed around her body, causing
her shirt to flutter open, revealing her white cotton panties. Her body
tilted slightly back an forth.
"I promise you. We'll go somewhere nice and do whatever you feel
like doing - except drink ourselves silly. I read somewhere that
alcohol kinda inhibits a man's performance."
"Really?" She smiled as if it was the best news she had heard all
day. "I didn't know that. You must read a lot."
He started to answer, but was interrupted when she dropped to her
knees. He had just enough time to lunge forward to catch her before she
fell flat on her face.
For a few moments, Steven held the Tina's unconscious form. He
could tell she was okay, the shirt she was still wearing that covered
her down to her white cotton panties slowly moved with her breathing.
He also noticed that in catching her, both his hands had found her
"I think you're right, Tina. These are real winners," he said,
lowering her gently to the floor.
Tina woke with a groan. Her head felt like someone had hit her
square in the forehead. As the cobwebs slowly cleared from her mind,
she began to notice her surroundings - and how she was dressed. Judging
by the ceiling, she was still in Taeko's old room. She figured that the
fact she could see the ceiling must mean she was on her back. The
caress of soft tatami confirmed she was on the floor. So far, so good.
The small blanket covering her from her neck to her knees was self
evident. Judging by the tactile feedback from her butt and upper legs,
she wasn't wearing her new cargo shorts anymore. She wondered why.
Without moving, she slowly wiggled just a bit in an unsuccessful attempt
to determine if she was still wearing the panties she bought yesterday.
Try as she might, she just couldn't tell if what she felt was direct
contact with her butt or passing through her panties. Gulping silently,
she moved a hand under the blanket to check.
"You okay?" she heard Steven ask.
Her hand froze short of its mark. Tilting her head as far back as
she could, her companion's smiling face slowly swam into focus. Without
answering, she frowned and eased up the blanket's edge to looked
underneath. Everything seemed to be in place - except that her shirt
was completely undone and her bra felt a little loose. Slowly, she
pulled the blanket over her head.
"Steven, did we do anything... you know?" she asked from under the
"We sure did and you were great," he replied with just a touch of
admiration in his voice.
"Noooo," she whined. "Then I lost it."
"My virginity. I can't believe I lost it and don't even remember
doing it," she moaned.
"What did it look like? I'm sure it's around here somewhere," he
replied. "Maybe we can search for it together."
"That's not funny," she whined. "A girl is supposed to glow after
"Only if she does it in a nuclear power plant."
"This is serious, Steven!" she snapped.
"Okay," he replied with a chuckle. "You're fine. All that
happened was you danced around the room naked, dared me to catch you and
then passed out. I have to admit it was a pretty good show."
She snatched the blanket from over her head to confront him. "NO
He just laughed out loud. "Okay, truth is, you got part way there
but passed out before you showed anything improper - except for your
panties. I must say, you made a good choice in choosing them. They
look good on you."
"Ack!" She quickly pulled the blanket back around her head to hide
her embarrassment. Wishing she could pull up one of the tatami mats and
crawl under it, she hunkered down a little lower and tried to pretend
she wasn't there. It wasn't easy. Only then did she realize that her
head was on Steven's thigh.
"You really are amusing when you drink," he said as his hand
caressed her blanket-covered shoulder. "But, I think I like you better
when you're sober."
Slowly lowering the blanket until she could see Steven, she looked
at him differently than before. "Really?"
"Really. Tina, you are the first girl I've ever said this to. If
I had to pick one girl to be on the run with, it would be you," he said
Tina sniffed and rubbed her nose on the blanket. "I really like
you, too," she said. "I'm just not ready to... you know."
Steven sighed. "That's okay. I kinda like you this way."
"I don't know how," she grumped. "I haven't had a bath in two
days. I must smell of beer and all that cooking downstairs. Maybe,
after a bath..." Her voice trailed off as she fully considered what she
was suggesting - or if she was really serious about doing what she was
"A bath would be nice. But, I'm afraid that will have to wait," he
replied, checking his watch. "It's almost ten. I have to meet that
contact out by the breakwater."
Tina reluctantly moved her head from his thigh so he could stand.
Still clutching the blanket to her partially naked body, she struggled
to sit up. Turning her head to look up at him, she tried to think of
how to say what was in her heart. "Be careful," was all she could say.
"Don't worry, all I have to do is get rid of this Korean magnet and
we can get out of here," he said, patting his pocket where the card key
was hidden. "No more problems."
Tina had heard that before but forced herself to nod and smile
reassuringly as he helped her to her feet. Their luck seemed to be
holding since she had encased the key in that discarded metal mint box.
She sighed. Perhaps, everything was going to work out, after all.
Steven seemed confident that everything was going to work out. So, why
She felt his hands on her slim shoulders. Almost shyly, she looked
up to his smiling face. For the first time since they'd met, she felt
like throwing her arms around his neck and kissing him for all he was
worth. She might not be ready for sex but the thought of pressing
herself against his strong body caused her to breathe faster.
Instead of taking advantage of what she was offering, he just
patted her shoulder with a hand. "I'll be back soon and then we can go
get that bath," he said. "And, if there's no bath houses open this time
of night, we can go try out that private grotto everyone is talking
"Sure," she whispered, her eyes dropping to his feet. A regular
bath would be nice but a moonlight swim in the same groto that Kaoru and
Aoi used a couple of years ago would be even better - even if she would
insist they swim in their underwear.
"Stay here with Mrs. Minazuki and I'll take you out afterwards," he
said, turning to leave.
She wanted to say something - anything - but couldn't find the
right words. All the romantic movies she had watched over the years
went to waste as all she could do was nod.
She watched him leave and looked over her current attire while
considering what to do. She could do as she was told and stay in their
room but something about that didn't feel right. After all, she was his
partner - well, almost. Anyway, perhaps she could follow him and just
keep an eye on things. Someone watching for trouble might just keep
them both safe.
With renewed determination because she had a plan, she quickly dug
out a new shirt from their bag and dressed, picking up her cargo shorts
and fastening everything as it should be. Adjusting her new shirt and
finishing with the last button, she checked the hallway. It was empty.
Nobody would see her leave, she thought.
She crept down the stairs as silently as the old wood beneath her
feet would allow and easily gained the back door. Checking to make sure
no one had noticed her departure, she slipped on her sneakers and
silently escaped outside.
Behind the cafe, she found herself on a rough stone walk that ran
the entire length of the beach along the flood wall. However, she
quickly discovered a problem with her plan. She didn't know which way
he went. Looking both ways, she figured one way was as good as another
and set off to the right.
Creeping along the walkway, she passed shop after shop. Most of
them were closed and dark. There wasn't much light behind the shops -
mostly moonlight and the occasional struggling florescent bulb
flickering away on the back of a darkened building.
As she got closer to the end of the walkway, the flood wall gave
way to a dimly-lit parking lot with only a solemn car and
abandoned-looking old panel van backed up nearest the buildings. Not a
soul was in sight.
She decided to cut between two buildings and get her bearings. As
she turned towards the beach, a sudden sound ahead caused her to jerk to
a halt. Scarcely breathing, she hugged one of the buildings and
listened. Another noise sounding suspiciously like someone in distress
urged her forward.
When she reached a couple of stacked crates, she paused to listen.
A low groan came from just on the other side, sounding distinctly like a
man who had just been beaten. That had to be Steven, she thought.
With a rush, she started around the crates only to screech to a
halt in the soft sand as she discovered who had made the noise. Instead
of an American secret agent laying injured on the warm sand, there were
a pair of young lovers in the throes of romantic copulation.
Choking a gasp of surprise, Tina's eyes went wide as she slowly
edged back behind her cover. Her natural instinct was to run, but there
was a touch of voyeur in her that demanded she make sure of what she had
Swallowing hard, Tina peeked over the crate to confirm what she had
seen earlier - a scene of raw sex. A girl, her bikini on the ground
next to her, was writhing under the undulating body of a young man
wearing only a sleeveless t-shirt. Tina's eyes went even wider as they
caught on his firm buttocks repeatedly clenching and relaxing as he
slammed his hips sharply against the girl's loins. Other than the time
when she accidentally turned on the TV in that love hotel she and Kaoru
were forced to occupy did she ever see anything so... disturbing.
Is that what it looks like? Does the girl always have such a
pained expression when she...? Tina's thoughts derailed almost as
quickly as they came as moonlight caused where the couple were joined to
glisten with their shared... moisture. The sheer pornographic image of
the act burned itself into her memory, assuring she would see it over
and over again in her dreams. She blushed furiously and slowly backed
How can she possibly...? Why would she...? No way am I doing
that! Bath or no bath, Steven was going to sleep on the other side of
the room tonight - and maybe every night they were together on this
With a tiny squeak of distress, echoed by the girl's orgasmic cry,
Tina beat a hasty retreat back to the walkway.
For a few moments, she leaned against the building - gasping for
breath. Despite her best efforts, she could still see the couple -
especially the guy's butt - giving her a strange feeling in the pit of
her stomach. It suddenly felt hotter than before. Fanning herself, she
pressed on down the pathway towards the last few shops on the beach.
Steven cautiously rounded the pastry shop and stopped in the
shadows. A lone figure stood outlined in the moonlight on the beach
only twenty yards away. That had to be Akai, he thought as he checked
all around to make sure nobody was watching.
Confident, they were alone, he emerged onto the beach and slowly
approached his contact.
"Akai?" he called in little more than a loud whisper.
The girl snapped a startled look towards his voice before slowly
allowing it to dissolve into a smile of relief. "I was beginning to
wonder if you were coming," she said softly, her body still tense. "Did
you bring it?"
"I've got it," he replied as he approached.
At his answer, she seemed to relax. Her smile looked like a small
beacon. "Good. Let's get this over with. I don't feel safe out here."
Steven nodded his agreement and reached into his pocket. Before he
could remove the mint container, Akai's eyes went wide and she quickly
grabbed him. "What the--," he gasped.
"Shut up, you fool," she hissed back. "We're being watched."
"Watched? By whom?" he asked, turning his head slightly and
straining to see behind him.
"I don't know. We have to appear to be simple lovers on the
beach," she said, her voice strained.
"We have to WHAT?" Steven exclaimed, a bit louder than he intended.
Drawing a sharp breath, he felt her body mold itself to his, her arms
wrapping themselves around his neck.
"Kiss me," she ordered.
"So they think we're just a romantic couple on the beach."
Steven was about to protest when her lips mashed against his.
Instinctively, he responded as best he could with one hand still in his
pocket and a beautiful Japanese girl plastered to his chest.
His body had gone rigid at the first contact - he could feel her
small unencumbered breasts pressing themselves hard against his chest
and one shapely leg between his caressing him in a most sensual way.
Slowly, he responded to the kiss - not to mention all the other
stimulation he was receiving.
He was just beginning to enjoy this spy business when he felt
something prick his neck. It felt like an insect bite - a big one. He
tried to see what it was but Akai was holding him too tight.
As she continued to try and suck his tonsils out, he felt the beach
beginning to spin. The sounds coming from Mrs. Minazuki's cafe further
up the beach began to fade as his legs started to protest holding his
body in a standing position.
"The name's Bond, James...," was all he think of as he sagged
towards the still warm sand.
"Are you all right?" Akai gasped, still clinging to him only now
she was looking directly into his eyes with a terrified expression.
"What's happening? What's wrong with you?" Her voice seemed farther
and farther away.
The last thing he remembered seeing was Akai's frightened
expression as the darkness engulfed him.
Tina pressed on after her encounter with the amorous couple. Just
getting as far away from them as possible was her primary objective.
Still, she couldn't believe how hot it had gotten. Sweat made her shirt
stick to her body. She was certain her bra was soaked by now, not to
mention her panties. No doubt about it, she was going to need a bath
when this was all over.
When she reached the last shop, she cautiously turned towards the
beach. There were fewer things for lovers to hide behind so it was
easier for her to gain the beach without detouring again.
Just as Steven said, someone was already out by the breakwater -
only it wasn't a 'he' - it was a 'she' and she wasn't alone. Squinting
in the moonlight, she gasped as she discovered Steven fully wrapped
around the girl's young body. Worse yet, it wasn't just any girl. It
was a beautiful Japanese girl who was even now grinding her body against
That was bad enough but watching the two of them kiss caused her to
sweat even harder and relive the earlier encounter with the romantic
As she watched, her stunned surprise slowly dissolved into anger.
The nerve of him, she groused. I'm practically naked with him in a
private room and all he does is pat me on the shoulder. Out here on a
public beach, he's practically molesting some strange but attractive
Japanese girl. What's more, she appeared to be willing to imitate the
couple she had run into earlier.
Her breath came in tortured gasps as she watched Steven and the
strange girl collapse onto the warm sand. Despite the voyeur in her
wanting to stay and watch, her sense of betrayal overruled everything
With her jaw trembling with the first signs of her natural reaction
to what she had just witnessed, she turned to run. She had to get back
to Mrs. Minazuki's. She'd pack her things and clear out before he
returned. She'd find her own way home. How dare he!
She had just run a few paces when she collided with a large body.
Without looking, she mumbled her apologies and tried to go around it.
But instead of freedom, she encountered another large body. This time,
she looked up, her anger rising.
It quickly dissipated when she got a look at what she had run into.
Two men - two VERY familiar men - quickly grabbed her. As she
struggled, one slapped a rag over her face that reeked of the same odor
as the one used on her in the back seat of that phoney 'police' car.
The results were the same as before. The strong aroma of chemicals
attacked everything including her taste buds as the world seemed to spin
into darkness. Her last thought was how fitting an end it was now that
she knew about Steven and his little 'girlfriend'.
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