Note – I do not own the intellectual property rights to this series, neither the manga nor the anime, nor any of its other incarnations…. I also do not have any rights to the songs whose lyrics I plan on using through the course of this fic. I do not obtain any form of compensation for this work (well, except for your attention and comments! ^_-) Anyone that says otherwise is a liar and a meanie! As a side note, I (to my great lament) have not read the manga (though I plan on rectifying this deficiency very soon, I promise!); all my knowledge of this great series comes from the anime adaptation's two seasons... Please forgive me for this!
Chapter 1: "My solution is…." "Huh? What kind of solution is that?"
A pair of blood-red eyes burned into his; the comely face behind them held a grim, but somehow also sad, expression. She was a beautiful creature, he mused inwardly. Her silver hair ran almost down to the backs of her knees, and somehow the schoolgirl uniform she wore on her fully-matured body only enhanced her beauty, instead of coming across as out-of-place. Her hands on her hips and her feet set far apart, her stance only served to further emphasize the sternness of her expression.
She looks like she's really going to let me have it, he grimaced in his head, while keeping his face calculatedly calm.
"It's your indecisiveness that brought this about, boy," she said; her voice was cold and calm on the surface, but a challenge lay hidden beneath her icy demeanor.
His brow furrowed as he fretted over her words, and he was only able to mutter, "Huh? What, my fault?"
"That's right. Well, for the present, that's okay…. But the time's going to come when you must make a decision…. And that time is coming up," she continued, ignoring his confusion.
Tsukune Aono looked at the lady vampire, and he could not hide the apprehension in his voice as he asked, already afraid he knew the answer, "A decision, huh? What kind?" His voice was barely above a whisper. In his mind, he heard her answer before she ever opened her mouth to say it.
"The one about who to take on as your partner…. The time is almost upon you for you to make that decision on your own. Just don't forget… Tsukune."
Tsukune sighed helplessly. He knew she was right. He loved all his friends dearly, and couldn't imagine losing a single one of them. They were all precious, irreplaceable to him. He'd spent so much time with them, growing up with them, studying with them, working side-by-side with them on the high school newspaper, sharing every sadness and joy. They were his second family….
Why do they all have to be in love with me, though? Wouldn't it be easier if we were all just friends? I do have feelings for all of them, on one level or another, maybe even as more than just comrades. He couldn't hide his dismay, but the vampire did not break her stern expression. Not that he expected her to. The true, inner form of Akashiya Moka did not deal in compromises, only absolutes. She spoke the utter truth, with cold logic, and demanded the same from those around her.
She was a hard woman, but Tsukune had seen her softer side, as well…. She had saved his life numerous times, given of herself for him, given her own blood to save his life. He would not begrudge her losing her temper with him. It was true, his friends had been fighting over him, with lethal intent. He hadn't been able, or at all willing, to choose one of them to be his girlfriend, or what they would call his "mate". It wasn't the fatalistic sound of the word that made him shy away; it wasn't that he didn't love any of them (in truth, he did love each of them); it certainly wasn't that he was afraid to lose his virginity, either. What stayed him was the thought of breaking 3 hearts simultaneously with the utterance of just one word, a name.
But that aside, even if I did decide to choose one of them… which would it be, anyway…? That was the last thought that went through Tsukune's mind before he found himself unable to breathe.
"Rise and shine, my dear sweet Tsukune-kun!" said a bright, cheerful voice. Tsukune started suddenly into consciousness, his mind screaming for oxygen even as the curvy succubus's plush bosom denied him any. He would have struggled, but his newly-conscious mind suddenly recognized the whole situation. Tsukune was in his bed, in his underwear, and the blue-haired, bright-eyed, beautiful Kurono Kurumu was straddled atop him, drowning him in her ample chest. The combination of this and his freshly-out-of-sleep state culminated in a violent rush of blood from his nose as he fell back onto the pillow, his eyes bulging, vacant, and shaped ominously like X's.
Kurumu giggled and cooed, "Oh, Tsukune-kun. You're so adorable! Did the thought of me in your bed give you a nose bleed? Or is it that you were having sinister and naughty thoughts?" She considered her unconscious prize for a moment. "Well, no point in wasting this opportunity…." Her face grew suddenly solemn as she leaned forward, positioning her lips directly above his. "Don't worry, Tsukune, I'll resuscitate you…."
The next thing Kurumu knew, she was pinned to the wall on the opposite side of the room. Frantically looking over herself to try and figure out the reason, she spotted them.… Ice shards? Oh, no, that means…!
She looked up at the room's suddenly open window in time to see a shapely leg, enveloped in a striped stocking, slide through, followed in short order by the rest of a certain lavender-haired ice maiden. "Mizore!" Kurumu growled.
Shirayuki Mizore smirked at the trapped succubus as she slowly sauntered to Tsukune's still lifeless form. "I don't know what you're so upset about, Kurumu," Mizore said, the mocking tone in her voice open. "You always did want to get nailed in Tsukune-kun's room; I just thought I'd give you a helping hand." Her gaze drifted away from the struggling succubus and down to Tsukune's motionless body. "Well, well, Tsu-ku-ne-kun…." As she spoke, her finger traced an outline over his chest. "It looks like that hussy and her over-ripened body have put you in a predicament. I'm sorry I wasn't here to protect you sooner…. I was on the ground level when I was watching you through your window, and unfortunately it took me a while to climb up. But don't worry, I'm here now to give you the kiss… of… life…." She took another moment to meet Kurumu's eyes for a brief moment, to further drive home her victory, before leaning down over Tsukune, removing her ice-cold lollipop, and…
…getting knocked unconscious by a blow to the head from a conspicuous golden bathtub. Kurumu howled in laughter, despite her increasing frustration at her inability to break free of the ice maiden's frozen shards keeping her stuck to the wall. "Dammit, I need to get out of this…! If I don't… huh?" Kurumu's eyes widened with realization. "That bathtub… oh no!"
"Oh, yes!" said a giggling, sweetly high-pitched voice as a head floated into view. She had shoulder-length brown hair and violet eyes. Her mouth was wide in a victorious, mischievous, toothy grin. She pulled herself up over the window sill and landed gracefully on the floor, her arms up over her head like an Olympics gymnastics competitor. "Ta-da! Here she is, to save the day, the lovely Sendo Yukari! I'll save my fair prince with a chaste kiss that will put me up 2-to-nothing against the competition!"
Kurumu grimaced. She recalled with fervent irritation the kiss the young witch had caught Tsukune unawares with, right in front of her, no less…. She struggled with renewed vigor against her bonds, drawing Yukari's attention from Tsukune's comatose body. Yukari's face broke out in a wicked grin, and she skipped over to the now-desperate succubus. "Why, hello, Kurumu…. It looks like you're in a real pickle there." She darted left and right, observing how hopelessly Kurumu was trapped.
"Get away, Yukari, or so help me…!" But the whimpering noises that followed betrayed the futility behind the threat.
"Tsk, tsk, Kurumu! Why, I might have been inclined to help you, but now…." The witch's expression grew evil as she reached up and began mercilessly tickling the succubus, beneath the arms and at her ribs and belly.
Kurumu's thunderous, raging laughter and moans for mercy were just enough to rouse Tsukune from his unnatural slumber, and he managed to twist his head to see what all the fuss was. From his angle, all he could make out was Yukari, her back turned to him, and her arms furiously working somewhere on Kurumu's body, while she called the succubus "naughty" and said "I'll teach you your manners!", all while Kurumu stifled giggles and begged for forgiveness. Obviously, Tsukune passed back out immediately, his ghost snaking out of his mouth to hover over his body and his nosebleed gushing with violent fury.
There's no telling how long Yukari would have torture-tickled poor Kurumu, but mercifully the door suddenly swung open and inwards, slamming into the side of Yukari's head and knocking her into a fierce head-butt with Kurumu before she slid limply to the floor, both girls completely unconscious.
Akashiya Moka didn't seem to notice the three lifeless bodies of her female classmates. Her eyes fell immediately to Tsukune, and his nosebleed, and his ghost hovering over his body. "Oh, my goodness! My poor Tsukune-kun!" She rushed over to him, cradling his head in her hands. "I know I should try to resuscitate him, but… it's just… I… I can't help it; I'm so very thirsty." She mindlessly fingered the rosary around her neck as she seemed to contemplate something for several seconds. Then, she jerked forward, nipping Tsukune in his neck in a small vein adjacent to his jugular.
Suddenly, Tsukune's ghost was sucked back into his body, and his eyes snapped open and swiveled to look at the lovely pink-haired lady vampire at his throat. "M-Moka-chan! My blood!"
Off to the side of his bed, a lone picture frame stood on top of his nightstand, next to his alarm clock. The sun's reflection on it dimmed just long enough for one to make out a picture of him with an expression of embarrassment and his hand on the back of his head, surrounded by the four girls currently littering his room, two on each side and clutching at his arms, looking either at him lovingly or joyfully at the camera.
The rest of the school day had not particularly been a cake walk for Tsukune. He'd been late to class and, after the morning's chaos, had forgotten his homework assignment in his dorm room, resulting in a harsh scolding from Professor Nekonome, and a threat of repeat after-school "lessons" from Professor Kagome, as well…. At its end he decided to call an emergency meeting of the Yokai Gazette newspaper club. Eventually, all four of his female friends were sitting at the table around him. Morioka Ginei, their club's fearless leader, was thankfully absent; Tsukune didn't really need Gin around, making a mess of things. The fewer distractions the girls had to deal with at this point, the better….
"Now, listen, girls…. It's not that I don't like having you all around, but… in my room? At such an early hour in the morning, and on a school day at that? I don't know what to do about this…. It seems like you're getting worse and worse…. I don't want to sound mean, or come across as harsh, but I don't know what to say anymore…," Tsukune began, speaking haltingly, desperately.
"I've got an idea on that, Tsukune-kun!" Kurumu interjected. "Why don't you just tell these clingers-on to take a hike, so the two of us can be alone! I have no doubt that would solve all our problems, and the two of us could move on with our relationship…." Suddenly she was next to him, clutching his arm and pulling it between her breasts, thrusting forward to press herself against him. "Why, if you and I were able to have some alone time, there's no telling how quickly our relationship might really begin to blossom and mature…."
"Oh, please," Mizore cut in. "The only thing mature about what you just said is the hentai you pulled that line from. Tsukune-kun doesn't need some pillow-chested floozy like you constantly draped over him and sucking him down into your shadowy world of lust-"
Tsukune, while wisely not saying anything to the effect, thought, You know, actually….
"-at all. What he really needs is a true woman to teach him of the ways of love, a woman who could bear him children and take care of more of his needs than those that come right before and after sleep."
Kurumu shot her a look of pure venom, and seemed about to say something when another, Yukari, imposed upon the conversation. "Yeah, right! You say Tsukune-kun needs a real woman, but really you're nothing more than a one-track mind sitting on top of a baby-factory! If Tsukune-kun needs a real woman, he needs look no farther than yours truly!"
Kurumu and Mizore looked at her, silent and with mouths agape. After an appropriate amount of time for a comedic delay, they burst out laughing. Wiping tears away, Kurumu said in-between bouts of giggles, "Yeah, Yukari, sure…. I'm just going to leave you with that logic for a while. Let me know how that works out for you. But while you're pondering the irony of what you just said, ponder this, too…. Real women have curves." She stood up and outlined her full figure with her hands to highlight her point, emphasizing her bust and hips.
While Yukari smoldered and Kurumu and Mizore played tug-of-war with his arms, Tsukune's gaze happened to fall on Moka. She was looking at him with her usual helpless expression she tended to adopt at times like this, but it wasn't the pink-haired and charming young woman he was seeing, but her rough-around-the-edges silver-haired alter ego. And it was her words that resonated through him when he thought about his current situation.
Finally, after a moment of being lost in thought, Tsukune snapped back into the present moment, scowled, and jerked his arms out of the girls' grips. "Enough, both of you! Please!" He immediately regretted the harshness of his tone when he saw their chastised expressions, but he could not turn back now. She was right, the Inner Moka…. If I had been strong enough to face my fears and make a decision, they wouldn't be suffering and fighting like this. He closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and said, eyes slowly opening, "This is all my fault…. I can see that now."
He raised a hand to silence them when they were about to argue, and his facial expression brooked no interruptions. "Please, just let me get this out…. It's my own weakness and indecisiveness that's driven the four of you, who are normally so good together, and who should be such good friends, to all this bickering…. I can't stand… to be the wedge that's driving you apart every day!"
"What are you saying, Tsukune-kun?" Kurumu said, pushing herself into a standing position and leaning forward on the table. "Please, don't do anything sudden…. We don't want you to leave; we can behave if you stay!"
He smiled at her, at all of their sudden concerned expressions. "Kurumu-chan… I could never leave any one of you. It's truly my wish to stay friends with you forever; you're all so important to me that I could never imagine losing any of you, much less willingly walking away." His smile and gentle tone assuaged their worries away, but they still looked tense.
Moka spoke up, "Tsukune-kun, if you're not talking about leaving, then what are you-?"
"I'm saying," Tsukune interrupted, "that it's time I… well, what I mean to say is that I've decided… to choose who among you I want to… to go out with." His voice had trailed off as he'd continued, so that they had to strain to hear him at the end. When he'd finished, they sat there, stunned, none among them willing to speak first. Tsukune suddenly looked mortified. "I mean…! Oh my God, I didn't mean to sound so full of myself! I'm standing here, assuming that you all want to go out with me…! I, I'm sorry!" He bowed low, his forehead centimeters from the table's surface.
That outburst broke the majority of the tension in the room, as the four girls giggled uncontrollably at Tsukune's sudden remorseful exclamation.
Mizore spoke first, when their laughter had finally ebbed. "Well, Tsukune-kun, it sounds like you've been thinking about this for a long time."
Tsukune breathed out in relief. At least they weren't hurling furniture at him…. "I honestly haven't thought about it as much as I probably should have…. In fact, no matter how much I try to think, I can't for the life of me…."
Moka spoke up, as always driving right to the heart of the matter. "Tsukune-kun, forgive me if I'm being a little blunt, but it seems to me as if you're more worried about what will happen after you choose than you are with the actual choosing. Are you thinking that, if you choose someone, you'll somehow lose the other three?"
Tsukune's head snapped up in his bewilderment. "Actually, that's it exactly, Moka-chan…. I've been blessed with some of the greatest friends I could ever hope for…. I'm actually terrified that if I choose one of you to date, it will ruin my friendship with the others…."
Yukari giggled. "Tsukune-kun, think about what you're saying! If you consider the situation as it stands now, you have four friends, who are girls, each wanting to be something more…. If you pick one of us to date, you're only dropping that number by one. You're gaining a girlfriend, not losing three friends! I know I can't speak for the others, but if you didn't pick me, I guess I would be a little disappointed, but that wouldn't make me want to forsake my friendship with you!"
Tsukune's eyes widened as she spoke, and he sat stunned, looking at each girl in turn, and their ready smiles affirmed they felt the same way as Yukari. He folded his hands in front of him, and his gaze dropped down to them. "I… you… thanks, guys." He suddenly slumped, though, his expression full of worry. "I guess that gets rid of all my obstacles, except for one…." They leaned in, expectantly. "…I have no idea which one of you to ask out!" Tsukune exclaimed, blushing and rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment.
The girls fell out of their chairs simultaneously, groaning, "Tsukune-kun!"
Tsukune's mind raced frantically, grasping at straws, until finally his mind caught hold of something and wouldn't let go, no matter how hard he tried to force the matter. No… no way! That's like something out of a cliché romance manga, or one of those god-awful American reality television shows! There's no way I could do something like that…! But the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea. It would give me plenty of time to decide, and, more importantly, it would give me some alone time with each of them, something I'm laughably lacking…. Maybe then… maybe then I could…!
The girls had been exchanging curious, concerned glances at each other during Tsukune's reverie, and were startled when he suddenly shot to his feet. They couldn't have imagined he'd say, "Let's have a game show!" He immediately shook his head. "No, not quite like that…. We wouldn't film it or anything…. But the premise could be the same! What if… what if I were to date… all of you?"
Kurumu snorted. "Umm, Tsukune-kun? While I would be more than happy, ecstatic even, to date you, I don't think I'm willing to share you with three other women…. I don't know about this plan of yours." The others nodded their agreement.
Tsukune shook his head again. "No, and I wouldn't ask you to. What I'm saying is, look…. I haven't really had the chance to spend any time alone with any one of you…. That would make me trying to decide who I want to have as a girlfriend a lot more difficult, right? So, what if we did it like this? For a little while, I take turns dating each of you, taking you out on dates, and spending some quality time with each of you! We could do it in groups of, I don't know, three dates each? If you draw straws for the order, that would be fair, and then for the next 12 days, I'll take each one of you on 3 date nights!"
His words slowly sunk in for the girls, and their eyes went wide with the prospect. A competition? A… a date-off? With Tsukune as the prize? And not only that, but… three whole nights… alone… with TSUKUNE?
Kurumu cracked her knuckles. "Yahoo-hoo! I'm totally in, Tsukune-kun! You're telling me all I have to do is convince you within three nights that I'm the one you should choose? Done and done!" She gave a sideways glance at Moka. Her advantage was always that she met Tsukune-kun first, and had the most alone time with him before I came along…. I never got that chance…. With her out of the picture for three whole days, I'll have Tsukune eating out of the palm of my hand in no time! She smiled widely.
Yukari laughed. "Well, gloat if you want, Kurumu, but a wise and worldly woman doesn't count her chickens before her eggs hatch! You'll see, with what I have planned for my Tsukune-kun, he'll forget all about you and your milk-cow fun bags!"
Mizore looked rather calm about the whole thing, but then, her expression rarely changed. In her soft voice, she began, "I'd like to request that I go last…."
Moka immediately argued. "Don't think you can get to go last just because you asked for it! You're obviously hoping that whoever's last will have the freshest impression on Tsukune-kun, and that's not very sportsmanlike! Besides, Tsukune-kun already said we'd draw straws!"
Mizore's rebuttal was immediate. "Well, you obviously are letting the pressure get to you, Moka-chan…. I don't care about… whatever you said, one way or the other. I need to go last, so that my fertility medicine has enough time to kick in…. Tsukune-kun and I are going to spend our three dates making a baby."
Tsukune fell sideways out of his chair, his nose bleeding all over again. "I feel like… I might have made a mistake," he mumbled as the girls began shouting at each other around him.
After what seemed like hours of arguing and shouting, and more than a few close-calls of outright physical violence, Tsukune realized he would need some sort of rules to prevent a nuclear accident-level catastrophe in the confines of the tightly furnished room full of sensitive newspaper-editing/printing equipment. In the end, only four regulations survived the girls' numerous vetoes:
1. There was to be ABSOLUTELY no interruptions or interference from any of the other participants during a girl's three nights. Violating this rule would result in immediate expulsion from the "contest," as Tsukune had grown wont to call it. Specifically, if the violator's turn had not yet been had, it would be skipped; if her turn had already gone by, her chances would be, for all intents and purposes, forfeit.
2. There was to be no display of Yokai abilities during the dates. This included, per Tsukune's insistence, freezing him to "increase his willingness," using the succubus Charm power on him, or utilizing any sort of love potions or spells; nor was the use of a vampire's infamous power of persuasion on Tsukune permitted. At Mizore's demand, it was deemed permissible for the girls to use potions/spells, self-administered and self-prepared or store-bought only(including fertility medication), as long as the effects could not be used to sway Tsukune's decision.
3. All arrangements must be made out of each girl's personal funds; they could not borrow money from family in order to make extravagant purchases. Also, no gifts were to be given during the dates (to Tsukune); purchases could only go toward the planned activities.
4. Lastly, sufficient time had to be set aside (approximately 3 hours) towards the end of the last date night, for a predetermined activity to be arranged by Tsukune.
I hope you enjoyed this first chapter! I'm hard at work on the second, and I promise to update soon! I'll continue to work hard and entertain my delusions of grandeur that someone may even stumble across this humble work and actually dedicate a few minutes' worth of their time to read it! Since, apparently, that's you, thank you so much!