Disclaimer: Bam! I don't own this. Moving on!
Beach Cafe Hina
Chapter 1 Open for business
The eighteen year old sighed while setting down his bags. The hut was pretty worn down from the year on the coast. Salt air ground away the paint and the moisture warped some of the panels on the roof. "Yosh." The young man rolled up his sleeves and readied himself for what would be the most memorable summer in his life.
Haruka exhaled while looking over the income for the month, she had planned on going down to the beach to work the cafe, but knew she would not be able to this time, It was just lucky she was able to get a hold of her nephew Keitaro. Although why granny insisted that he is the one she asked for help, Haruka would never know. The boy was a studious dreamer. Haruka tapped her cigarette against the dish and suddenly realized why granny chose Keitaro. Haruka knew her cousin well, and he would have hated that his son is wasting time when there was a business to run.
The cafe owner stood up from her bench and waved at the single waitress in the store. The tea shop was not big and would likely never be a big hit, but there were enough regulars that she could keep it open and live off the extra money. "I'll be right back. Granny Hina wanted this before I left." The waitress nodded before serving another customer.
Stone steps were always an obstacle when walking up this path. Haruka finally reached the top of the stairs to the Dormitory. She saw someone standing at the door looking out and waiting. Haruka raised an eyebrow when she realized it was Naru. "Mmm? Seta coming over today?"
"Hai, he's going to show me this math lesson I don't understand." Naru reddened and placed her hands on her cheeks to cover her burning face.
"Still thinking of Todai?"
Naru grinned. "Yeah, it will be great if I can pass the exam the first time."
Haruka gave a bored expression. "You still have a two years left of school, I am sure you will be well prepared." Haruka passed the love struck teen and went up stairs.
After a single knock an elderly voice announced, "You may come in Haruka-chan." Haruka repressed the urge to blush and entered. The elderly woman was sitting on her knees and drinking tea while looking out the window. "Everything is in order then?" Haruka nodded and handed the folder to the matriarch. After a quick look through, granny sighed in disappointment.
"What's wrong granny?"
"Oh, it's just that I had hoped the girls would like to have gone to the beach, but Naru is enthralled with that Seta teacher, and Mitsune is taking care of our first arrival Kaola Su. But I suppose I have not asked our newest arrival."
"I didn't know we had a new person." Haruka was surprised, the dorm hadn't been open for long, and to have two new arrivals with in the month was a pleasant surprise.
"Yes, Motoko-chan was not in when I asked if any of the girls wanted to help with the beach house. I will ask her today when she comes in." Haruka looked at her grandmother with a slight worry at the sudden smile that graced the old womans' lips. Granny Hina did not have to wait long.
"...and that's why I think you should hurt them first and ask questions later. If you give a man an inch they will try and get in your pants!" Motoko silently listened to her sempai's rant about men in the Kendo Club that had graduated last year. She refused to say a word about boys in general. She only knew her father personally, and met her sisters husband during the wedding. She had spoken to boys her age a few times, but she didn't know them. She was very startled at how readily her sempai's were ready to demonize the opposite sex. But that was slowly change as she met a few boys in her class that looked in her direction. She shivered at a few glimpses of conversations she picked up when they did not think she could hear them.
She was a little hurt realizing that these boys were living up to her sempai's expectations. She ignored the perverts completely in her new school and kept to the Kendo Club. Finally Motoko was able to leave her sempai's rants and got off the train. She had still wanted to keep an open mind.
Aoyama Motoko adjusted the duffle bag on her shoulder. As afirst year in secondary, she had already gained captaincy of the kendo club. While she had gained sudden popularity with the girls in the class she was rather irritated that so many boys turned sour from the experience and left. She shook her head in disappointment of them.
The Hina Dormitory almost always had a magical air about it when ever she came back. She was thankful for the feeling. She had to listen to her fellow club-members bad mouth the men who had left the club for several hours on the train and again while attending the club practice. Motoko herself did not mind the boys so much if they were focused on their training but the few who stayed around just stared at her. She got the creeps once and the Vice President of the club beat a boy up announcing that there would be no perverts in the club. So he was a pervert?
Motoko shook her head at the thought attempting to clear her mind. Boys and Perverts were not worth mentioning. They just clouded the mind and distracted the heart.
The young teen turned to the voice. After seeing who it was the Aoyama bowed. "What can I do for you granny Hina?"
"I seem to be in need of a bit of aid at a side project to help fund the new dorm. Would you be willing to go with Haruka-chan and help for a few days?"
Motoko gave a welcome smile. "It would be my pleasure to render any aide Granny Hina."
The older woman clasped her hands in front of her in joy. "Wonderful, Haruka wanted to leave tomorrow. You two will be meeting another helper to run the beach cafe."
Motoko's body froze. "Two? Run? The beach? Granny!" Motoko looked up in shock only to find that the old woman was already gone and her laughter echoed in the halls. Motoko felt sweat roll down her head as she realized she was just suckered into working for the summer.
Keitaro turned to the front door. "I am sorry but we are closed until tonight's reopening." The couple who entered gave an appraising eye over the store. The walls had decorations from the islands, and the floor was swept and polished. "There will be a grand opening with music and discount drinks to celebrate. You are welcome to come then." The couple smiled and agreed to come back later.
Keitaro set down the hammer and rotated his wrist. He had just finished the last of the repairs and looked at the place. He was lucky that he got done so fast. Keitaro had expected that he would need to take two more days to finish, not the original four Haruka planned for him to get everything done by.
The free time gave him a few hours to study before Haruka arrived to open the tea shop. Keitaro Urashima looked at his booklet and sighed. He had just received his first failure into Todai. He chuckled to himself embarrassed by his performance. The Urashima knew that he had daydreamed during the test and had only been able to complete a third of it. While he never did tell his parents the truth, them thinking that he failed completely because he did not know the source material made him second guess himself about telling them.
Then again Keitaro knew he wanted to keep living.
The young man checked his watch. Three hours before Aunt Haruka arrived... Keitaro went into the kitchen and started boiling water and lighting the fryer. The oil would need to be ready for tonight's opening. With that he sat down at the bar and started reading. The time flew by before he turned his head towards the back door. He couldn't see who entered but he knew it was about time for Aunt Haruka to arrive.
"Aunt Haruka is that you?" Keitaro got off his stool and walked to the back room. He did a glance over at the kitchen and was satisfied everything was ready. He entered the storage room that led to the back. "Oh, hello. Who might you be?"
Motoko gave a start and reached for her scabbard before she realized she was not allowed to bring her sword on the trip. After thinking about what she was about to do, she flushed before looking at the older teenager. This was probably the person who was repairing the tea house so it could open. "I am Aoyama Motoko. Pleasure to meet you." She bowed.
Keitaro smiled at her. "The pleasure is mine. How can I help you?"
Motoko looked at him blankly before realizing that he had asked a question. "Haruka-san has asked me to render aid in running this facility." Just then Haruka walked in the door carrying two boxes.
"Hi Aunt Haruka."
Haruka glared at the young man. "You are lucky my hands are full or I would hit you." Keitaro smiled nervously before taking the boxes from her and dodging a hand that made a move to swat his head. He laughed before going into the kitchen. Motoko looked to Haruka for instruction. "Come on, Keitaro is able enough to get those put away, I need help with the menu's and the coasters we ordered. We'll need to set those out onto the islands for you and me to get at when we start taking orders." Motoko wordlessly followed before Haruka looked at her. "What kind of bathing suit did you bring?"
Motoko turned crimson. She tried to sputter. "Never mind we need to get you a decent one if you are going to help me serve." Haruka lit anew cigarette and walked into the kitchen. "Oie Keitaro! I need to get Motoko-chan a bathing suit to help me serve; we'll be back in an hour."
Keitaro looked up. "Bathing suit?"
"Yeah, we both need to have one to serve." Keitaro froze in place. Haruka let her temper flare. "Yes me too!" She then turned around and stalked out the storage area. "Come on Motoko lets get this over with." Motoko matched Keitaro's expression before she walked out unsure if she was more uncomfortable knowing she had to wear a bathing suit in public or that she had to work while wearing it.
The hour passed and Motoko entered the kitchen and walked strait through to the back storage and up the stairs. Keitaro gave aquestioning glance to his aunt. She smirked before putting out her cigarette. "The girl is shy. Never would have thought that with the amount of confidence she carries."
Haruka smacked him over the head. "Don't get any ideas, she is a good kid."
"Ow, what did I do?"
"I want you to look after her while she is here. She's young."
Keitaro grimaced. "Fine, I'll watch to make sure no one corrupts the innocent."
Motoko walked down the stairs slowly and poked her head out of the storage room. "Must I wear this... scandalous garment?" The only thing that made her not outright say no to the swimsuit was that she was able to get a sarong to wrap around her waist.
The two Urashima's turned to the door and Motoko shyly walked out with a dark blue two piece that covered her body moderately well."Not bad Motoko-chan. Now that we got that out of the way, we need to do something with your hair." Haruka was tiring of the young girls stuttering and continued. "It's nice that it's so long, but it needs to be decorated. Mmm, Iknow we'll put it in a pony tail and add a flower." Haruka left out to the dinning room and returned with a flower in hand from one of the table vases. Haruka stepped away allowing Keitaro to look at her. Her face was crimson, and the flower nestled itself behind her left ear underneath her pony tail.
Keitaro said the first thing that came to his mind. "Does that mean I should have stopped you from making her wear that bathing suit?"
Haruka gave him another whack.
Keitaro felt pain but laughed it off while he started getting everything ready to cook at a moments notice. Haruka gave an appraising eye to the black haired Aoyama. "Nervous?"
Motoko nodded. Haruka was confused. The girl had tons of confidence around the house. Granny had told her so. She was even a master at Kendo and had come from a family of-. Haruka stopped and looked down at the girls waist. She remembered granny forbidding the girl to bring her sword. Haruka scratched her head. She needed this girl to work effectively tonight and the way she was now would only slow things down. Finally she barked out. "Are you a real swordswoman? Don't you have a code to live by?" Motoko responded with a nod. "Then forget about your embarrassment and follow it. Idon't know what your code is, but there is nothing wrong with being comfortable in your femininity. You should be able to balance both, especially since you are both a swords master in training and a woman." Haruka left the poor girl to think, but knew she had gotten through to Motoko.
"Order's up!" Keitaro shouted over the band. Motoko took it, still not looking at the cooks eyes. Keitaro wished he could get a better look at what was going on beyond his three by two foot kitchen window. It sounded fun out there being able to talk to so many people. The only people he saw were his Aunt and Aoyama-san.
Haruka's walked up to his window. "Here's table seven's order. Hurry up, we got a line of people who want to come in."
Keitaro eeped, determined not to look at his Aunt's bikini. He grabbed the order and worked as quickly as he could in the kitchen. The night wore on and Keitaro was able to get out of the kitchen when ten O'clock hit. He took his Aunt's place at the bar and started mixing drinks while talking amicably to the customers. Keitaro soon found himself smiling and laughing among the patrons. He even saw the couple that walked in earlier in the day. After some luck of avoiding an embarrassing situation with a flirt who wanted a free drink, Keitaro motioned for Haruka to come over. However, it was another twenty minutes before she could make it.
The older woman waved at Motoko to come up with her. Keitaro was glad the night was almost over, most of the patrons have left and it was late. Keitaro set his cleaning rag down. "There's only the couple at table 2. We got most of the cleaning done and the bands gone. We got an early morning tomorrow too with just the three of us. If you two want to go turn in I can finish up here." Haruka looked at him but he just waved her off. Haruka nodded and bade him good night.
"Good night Aoyama-san." Motoko had watched the young man since he was able to leave the kitchen. She quickly got over her modesty in her blue two piece bathing suit and helped Haruka in their small understaffed business. Now that she had really watched him work she had to admit he was impressive to watch. He spoke well with the customers and made everyone around him happy. He gave her an easy smile before turning away to get back to cleaning. Motoko was about to say a word but felt a hand on her shoulder.
"Come on Motoko-chan you can talk to my nephew tomorrow, it won't be as busy tomorrow night." Motoko felt how tired she was and let her curiosity subside while she followed her care taker to the women's room to get some sleep.
Keitaro awoke with the sun in his eyes. He groaned at the pain in his neck and sat up. Keitaro Urashima was used to late nights, but not the level of activity that went with them. He was just thankful that the girls did not wake him up earlier than he thought. Keitaro looked at the clock and noticed it was well past noon. Thankful for the seven hours of sleep, the Urashima showered and dressed before heading into the kitchen.
"Morning Haruka, Aoyama-san." The two greeted him before Keitaro looked around. During the day the Cafe functioned as just that, a tea house. He wasn't needed in the kitchen for a few hours. "You two need any help?"
"Get some food in you first Keitaro, then you can study. Iput a sign out for help wanted. You will be doing a few interviews today before I need you in the kitchen."
Keitaro looked surprised at the sudden authority he had gained but nodded. The teen ate around his book for several hours before he saw a young lady walk up to him. Keitaro set his book down and looked at her. "May I help you miss?"
She smiled prettily with brown hair framing her face. "Yes, I am here for the three O'clock interview?" Keitaro instantly sat up straighter and nodded for the lady to sit.
"You are a few minutes early, but we can start now. Have aseat." Keitaro looked behind her and noted that Haruka directed two more potential employees to a table and handed out drinks. Keitaro commenced with the interviews. He saw the Aoyama girl give him a few indecipherable looks. Keitaro realized he had not really spoken to her yet. He made a note to fix that. If he was in charge of the new set of employees he could at least offer the courtesy to speak with her as he did with the other employees he was hiring. As the final applicant finished the interview, Keitaro stood and walked to the group of applicants. The three who applied had all gained a job. Gendou was a man a few years older than Keitaro. Urashima knew he wanted Gendou's help in the kitchen. Hana was a young blonde who was chatty but had experience bartending. The last applicant was actually the first girl Keitaro spoke with. She had light brown hair that was similar to his own. Haruhi would be following Aoyama-san around learning how to wait on tables. Keitaro hoped she wouldn't mind. One new recruit for one senior worker was the fastest way he knew how to get them trained up.
"Thank you all for coming today. As you can see it's just me and these two ladies here at the Beach Hina Cafe. All three of you are hired for the next six weeks. By that time the cafe will be turned over to the bishounen to run for the rest of the summer. Gendou, if you will please follow me to the kitchen, I can show you where to get started. Ladies, you may speak to Haruka and Aoyama-san."
The ladies instantly went to the older woman they had met. When Keitaro and Gendou were in the kitchen Gendou started talking with enthusiasm about how beautiful the girls were. Keitaro smiled tightly at him while he talked over the older man's voice. "And that is all there is to it. Our shifts will be staggered and we will both take turns working late and working during the late morning. This will let us open the kitchen earlier." Gendou agreed to the new shift arrangement before Keitaro dismissed him. Keitaro watched the man go with mixed feelings. "Well I will find out how good of a worker he is tonight." Keitaro looked out the front door and smiled at the slow traffic that was going on in the store. It seemed more people were interested in drinks than they were in food at this time of evening. He knew it would change in half an hour.
Keitaro walked out of the kitchen and sat in the dinning room. He leaned against the chair and felt someone move to sit next to him. "How is everything cook-san?"
Keitaro smiled at the Aoyama. "I am doing well. But I am concerned over Gendou. He seems more interested in looking at you girls than he did in his training in the back."
Motoko frowned remembering what the girls in the Kendo club said about men in general. She shook off the doubt after the day and a half watching the cook Keitaro. "I'll be on the look out for him while we girls are working. Thanks for telling me."
Keitaro smiled. "Hey, you aren't speaking so formal anymore."
Motoko reddened. "The other girls said it is faster if Ispeak with less formality."
"As you were doing before I brought it up. Sorry I didn't mean to make you self conscious about it. I just had wondered why you did. Haruka said you had come from a proper family once so I had wondered."
"My family is far from proper, but we do have our traditions. One is being well bred."
Keitaro grinned. "Sorry that you can't be too proper here, we can't get anymore informal than waitresses in bathing suits." Motoko gave him a look saying she heartily agreed. That got Keitaro thinking of Haruka's warning. "If you do see Gendou cross any kind of line tell me. I really don't want to fire him if I don't have to. But I will if he gives any of you ladies trouble. The last thing we need is to have one of you ladies hurt when we are so busy." Motoko listened thinking of course she would tell him. "So how did you get talked into helping Aoyama-san?"
Motoko grimaced. "I volunteered to help before listening to what granny Hina wanted me to do."
Keitaro smiled. "Don't worry too much; Haruka did the same for me. But I was more curious about how you know granny Hina."
"Oh I am the newest dorm mate at the Hinata-sou Girls Dormitory."
"EH!" Keitaro's shout made the crowed look at him. He stood and bowed an apology before sitting down again. "Sorry about that Aoyama-san. I just didn't know Hina closed the inn and made it into a dormitory. Well there goes my back up plan." Keitaro exhaled in disappointment.
Motoko looked up at the person that stood in front of the table. Haruka smiled at the two before setting drinks for them. "Take your time, the girls are doing fine." Motoko nodded her thanks. Having a break was a blessing after yesterday.
Aoyama took a long sip form her ice tea. "What was this about a back up plan?" Keitaro pulled a small booklet out from his pocket. He handed it to her while he drank. "Todai?"
"Yeah I failed the entrance exam last month. My father and mother want me to give up on going to college and help them run the Urashima sweet's store in my home town. But I made a promise that I would meet someone I knew a long time ago at Todai."
Motoko looked at him in surprise. He looked completely different from the hard worker now. He had an unfocused look in his eyes. "Is the promise really important?"
Keitaro snapped out of it and looked at the girl again before thinking about it. He looked into his cup. "Well the truth is that Imade a promise to a girl when we were kids. I doubt she would remember it. But I never want to go back on a promise. So I'll definitely get into Todai. And years later when someone asks if I had ever broken my word, I can say no." Keitaro gave a sad look at the memory.
Motoko just watched him. She had never had such a long conversation with a man before. And his story while sounded slightly perverted was an honest one. She could feel his heart's hope and doubt about ever finding the girl he made his promise to.
"Keitaro! We got an order up!"
Keitaro looked up and saw Haruka wave an order slip at the window before setting it down. Keitaro stood and looked at the girl who lived at Hinata-sou. "Thank you for this talk Aoyama-san." Keitaro gave a slight bow before walking away.
"Keitaro-san, it's Motoko." Keitaro turned back to look at her. "My name. It's Motoko."
Keitaro's eyes brightened. "Alright Motoko-san."
On the third day Haruka sighed in satisfaction. Kietaro was at the bar reading some text book on English when she interrupted him. "Hey Kietaro."
Keitaro looked up having an idea what she was going to say. "You need to go back now that we got a working staff?"
Haruka looked at him strangely happy he had figured it out on his own. "Yeah, I still have a tea house to run, and Motoko likely has something to do for her kendo club."
Keitaro gave a look at the information that Motoko was apart of a kendo club. The girl he knew who smiled and waited tables in a bikini and the image of her wielding a wooden stick did not mesh well. "Alright. Ifigured as much since you had me be the ones to do the hiring. Are you both leaving tonight?"
Haruka put out her cigarette. "Tomorrow, actually I don't think I have told her yet." Haruka waved Motoko over. Motoko took one more order for drinks before standing next to Haruka and handing the order to Keitaro who smiled at the order.
The table that Motoko came from shouted behind them. "Hey cook-san! Can you add shrimp to the spaghetti?"
"Alright I got it!" Keitaro stood and chuckled at Motoko's embarrassed expression. "Cook-san?"
Motoko smiled. "It seemed rude to have them call you by your first name. And Urashima would get Haruka's attention."
"Wait a sec before you go cook Keitaro. Motoko, we plan to finish up today, and we will head out tomorrow. I still need to get a few things done at the tea shop at the Hinata." Motoko looked somewhere between shock and relief. Haruka chuckled. "Granny said you only needed to help for afew days remember? And I can't stay. We just needed to be here long enough to get some hire's."
Motoko bowed in understanding. She looked up to Keitaro unsure what he would say to her leaving but found he was already going to the kitchen with the order in his had. She kept her down look for only a moment before she was nudged by Haruka. "Don't think too much on him. He can be oblivious like most men. I am sure he is disappointed that we are heading out."
The next morning came faster for Motoko than she wished. She had grown used to being in a swimsuit and the feeling of freedom from the strict discipline. Even for a few days it was a breath of fresh air. There were no 'perverts' around like the girls in her kendo club insisted on, only the polite couples and Keitaro. Motoko placed the last of her things in her bag before giving a sigh of disappointment.
"Come on Motoko-chan. We need to get going back to civilization." Motoko placed her bag over her shoulders and walked down the stairs to the storage room. Motoko was about to ask but Haruka was already ahead of her. "Go say goodbye to Keitaro. I'll be in the car. And don't give me that look, both of you have been doing it and its giving me the creeps." Motoko still gave the older woman the 'look'. Haruka laughed. The first one she could really remember. "Motoko, I have known you for maybe four days. But Isaw you as a serious person at Hina, here; you have smiled more and are not as tense. Same with Keitaro, his heads are out of the clouds and he is showing that he is an adult. Both of you were good for each other. Now go say good-bye. It's a long drive."
Motoko heard the order and turned around and walked into the kitchen. Keitaro was busy with the cooking as the full lunch time crowd had arrived. "Keitaro-san!" Keitaro looked up from his pans and smiled at her. Motoko realized she smiled back and felt her face flush. She never realized she smiled so much the past few days. It was only because Haruka pointed it out that Motoko felt her self smile at the young man.
"You two out of here already Motoko-san?"
Motoko nodded feeling slightly disappointed that he didn't show any signs of disappointment in her leaving. Then another thing Haruka mentioned yesterday made her really look at him. She felt relief set into her as she saw he was very busy and could not spare too much time to her.
That made her blink.
Keitaro's smile went into a strait line. "He hasn't arrived. I was not supposed to start till three." Keitaro moved three completed orders. "Haruhi table 2!"
Motoko looked out the ordering window and saw Haruhi run between tables and Hana run the bar. There still were not enough people working. Motoko turned back to the storage room and set her bag before she pulled out a slim two piece white bathing suit and grabbed an apron. She poked her head out of the back door. "Hey! Haruka! I need to stay. There's too much for three people!"
Haruka leaned out her car window. "I won't be able to come back untill the end of summer to get you. Will that be O.K? I thought you would have plans this summer."
"None that I will miss doing. I will notify you if Iobtained a different transportation to go home earlier. Bye Haruka-san!" Haruka turned on the car and drove off. It was the second time she caught her self smiling in so many days.
Motoko closed the door and changed herself before walking through the kitchen. "Keitaro-san I am going to replace Haruhi so she may take a break."
"Alright, tell her that I can cook something for her if she is hungry." Keitaro was busy with his pans and only looked up in surprise as Motoko went out the front door. Motoko smiled to herself understanding him alittle more.
Motoko smiled at a few guest while she quickly moved around tables to Haruhi. "I'll take over. Take a break. Keitaro said he would make you anything." Haruhi gave a relieved sound before making her way to the back for a break. Motoko waved at Hana signaling she was next. The blonde nodded before Motoko looked at the order sheet she was given. She turned to the next table. "Thank you for your patience, what would you like?"
The day passed on in a similar fashion with only a single disturbance during a slow time of the afternoon. Motoko took the girls up to the front to talk while she let Keitaro talk to a very late Gendou.
"Gendou, I just can't trust you if you keep this up. Yesterday you did not focus on your job, and now you are five hours late."
"I said I was sorry, I thought you wouldn't mind if we switched and you worked in the morning and I worked the evening shifts. I like to work late nights." The smile that Gendou gave Keitaro made his anger flare. Keitaro instantly knew why he tried to pull this stunt. He wanted to pick up on the girls that will be coming in tonight. Keitaro never met someone who could push his buttons like Gendou did. And it took great self control to keep his voice quiet.
"I don't mind switching shifts. But you need to take responsibility and ask ahead of time. Yes ask. I may be young but I am not stupid and if you haven't noticed Gendou, I. am. Your. boss. If you mess up like this again you are gone. Get your apron on. The dinner rush will be here soon. I do need to still take my break. And I will be working my evening shift too." The smile Gendou wore left him. Keitaro felt the man's glare bore into his back but ignored it.
Keitaro sat at a table and sighed. "That man is unbelievable." He heard a glass hit the table and he looked up. Motoko smiled at him. Keitaro gave a weak smile. He didn't have the strength to thank her after being so assertive.
Motoko sat down at the table. "Is he still employed here?" Keitaro nodded.
"He may be a bastard, pardon the swearing, but he is the only other cook." Keitaro took a drink then looked at her. "So you stayed?"
Motoko felt herself reddened under his eyes. "Y-yeah this cafe needed me more than anything I needed to do at home. And this is fun. It's good to be working. And if you need any help in the kitchen like today, I can learn to cook."
Kietaro gave her another one of 'those' smiles. "We can try to see how well you do tomorrow morning. Does that work for you?" Motoko nodded. Keitaro stood and thanked her for the drink and took it with him into the kitchen.
Motoko watched him leave and then looked up to see Hana and Haruhi smiling at the two of them. "It's so sweet." Motoko sputtered but Haruhi added. "And they are so cute together."
The rest of the night went on with out incident. Keitaro kept a steady eye over Gendou and the girls were able to manage the customers well enough with three people up front.
The kitchen finally closed and Keitaro dismissed Gendou. Who, in turn, went to the bar to talk to a girl. Keitaro shook his head.
The cafe finally closed and Keitaro thanked everyone, including Gendou, for their hard work. Keitaro and Motoko were silent while they swept and wiped down the tables. Keitaro let Motoko lead while he turned off the lights and headed up stairs to sleep.
"G'night Motoko-san." "Night Keitaro-san." They entered their rooms and closed their doors.
A second later Motoko opened her door and knocked on Keitaro's.
Keitaro sleepily opened his door and saw the look of embarrassment on her face. All he wore was a pair of shorts. Keitaro gave a blank half closed eye look at her before remember Haruka brought and then packed the beds she and Motoko slept in. "There is nothing in your room is there?" Motoko nodded mutely at his eerie impersonation of his aunt Haruka. "Come on. Get in the bed, I can sleep on the floor."
Motoko was about to protest that it wasn't fair before she cursed at herself, she had not known him for long, but knew he was the kind of person that would do something like this. She had simply wanted to state that they would need to find her a cot or a futon in the morning. Keitaro gave her a sleepy look as he set his pillow on the ground to lay down.
"Let me get changed. I'll be right back." Motoko saw his back stiffen. Motoko was back in moments to lay in the bed Keitaro slept in for the past few days. Motoko lay in bed and her eyes were on Keitaro as he tried to fall asleep.
Suddenly she felt angry with herself. She was a warrior, aswordswoman who upheld her honor. "Keitaro-san, this is ridiculous. Get in bed. There's plenty of room." She was rewarded with his slowly relaxing back stiffening again. "I am serious, get in."
Keitaro looked at her when she patted a spot on the bed next to her. "Alright, but I don't want to hear any complaining if neither one of us gets any sleep." Keitaro flushed at how bad that sounded. "As in it being awkward."
Motoko looked at him as if he was an idiot. "I know what you meant. Just get in so we can get some sleep."
Keitaro eased himself under the covers and Motoko slept on her side facing him. Keitaro did the same. His eyes were half closed already when he murmured, "Thanks..."
The morning greeted the two with sunlight that beamed onto the floor of the room. Motoko had woken at the first signs of sunlight but was too tired to do anything else. She found the situation oddly comforting. Keitaro had his arm around her waist and their ankles crossed each others. Motoko wondered about the turn of events. She had never envisioned herself being on social terms with her sister's husband, and when she met boys her own age; they seemed more interested in their hormones. Keitaro was a kind of person she had never met before. It was comforting to see a man who was not a'pervert' like the club seemed to think. Motoko sighed in contentment and leaned her forehead to rest against Keitaro's shoulder. This feeling... If only it could last...
An hour later Keitaro moved a little and Motoko looked up to him. Keitaro blushed as he realized what their position was. He didn't move away, just blushed. "Let's get cleaned up and get started on those lessons." Motoko nodded against his shoulder.
The next three hours were fun for Keitaro. While he would admit it was expensive to see the way Motoko burned through food, Motoko found herself a competent chef of several dishes by the time the kitchen opened. Keitaro even manage to get Motoko to laugh. That in itself was a hard fought battle.
The week wore on. Hana and Haruhi would chat with Motoko trying to get the stoic girl to think more of boys and less of work. Keitaro and Motoko were still busy with the cooking lessons and consistently forgot to get a second futon, not that either of them ever minded sleeping next to each other. Keitaro was still wary of Gendou. Gendou himself made a slight effort to not stare at the women, but Keitaro could feel the contempt the man had for him come off in waves.
"So you two are roommates?" Keitaro raised his eyebrow at the two female employees. The two were obviously friends before working together. But the Urashima didn't expect them to be so close and work well together.
"Yep, we were also working at the same place when that restaurant went under. We were kinda lucky getting this job even if it's temporary."
Keitaro thought about the two women's situation. "Are you two still looking for a job after this one is over with or what?"
Haruhi leaned back in her chair and stretched. "I don't know. Our lease is up soon and we need to figure out if we can get a job and renew or if we are going to move out."
"Well I will definitely put in a good word if you guys need a reference." The girls thanked him before a group of customers walked in. Keitaro stood and greeted the group of five that entered. "Welcome to Beach Cafe Hina. You are welcome to take a seat where ever you like, and the lunch special is Hina style steak and tomato sauce." The group seated themselves.
"We think we are ready cook-san." Keitaro was still amused by the name. After Motoko gave him that name the customers seemed to like it and kept it.
"Alright what will all you have?" Keitaro took the order and Motoko noticed that Gendou was late again. "Hey Motoko can you give me ahand in the kitchen?" Kietaro waved the order as he walked towards the back.
"Hai." Motoko excused herself from the girls and swapped out her waiting apron for her cooking one. "Gendou late again?"
Keitaro just sighed. The two cooked in silence. Surprisingly the first group to come in was the only group for that showed for the usually busy lunch crowd. When Keitaro and Motoko both came out with the plates Keitaro was able to do something he hadn't done yet. Give Motoko credit for something she was learning to do well.
"Here you go; this here is made by Motoko, Kiesuke." Keisuke was the first customer that entered the cafe with his girlfriend before it opened. The two had become daily regulars. Kietaro was glad that Kiesuke often dragged his friends with him. The young man gave an 'oh' sound. "Anna, this is made by my self, but Motoko was the one who thought the idea to mix up the tomato sauce for today's special." Another oh and ah. Keitaro took the plates from Motoko since she stood there in embarrassment and missed her cue to set the plates down for the customers. "And these three, were prepared this morning to be grilled by Motoko after going through half a dozen steaks to learn how to do it with out cutting them wrong." Keitaro gave her a wink before setting down the last plate. "I hope you all enjoy your food."
Fifteen minutes later a nervous Motoko walked up to the table. "Is everything to your liking?" The group gave enthusiastic rounds of applause for her great culinary skills. She blushed brightly and smiled at them before walking off. Kietaro was giving the two older girls a break and was at the bar watching the whole scene happen.
"Didn't I tell you? You are a good cook." Motoko just nodded before looking at the group. After a second she gave herself an honest smile. The lunch group had left thanking Motoko and Cook-san before leaving. Keitaro was beginning to be concerned with how slow it was for the day. "Well... I wonder what's going on today that they are no customers."
Haruhi was the one to speak up. "You didn't know? Today is the fireworks festival. I think everyone is in town."
Kietaro gave an embarrassed laugh. "That was today?"
Hana joined Haruhi at the bar. "Of course it is. It's Thursday."
"You guys should have told me, I would have given you three the day off." Kietaro looked back to the kitchen. "If you three want to go, you are welcome to. I guess I found out why Gendou didn't show up. I don't want to keep you working when most places should be closed." The Hana and Haruhi cheered.
"But aren't you going to go Keitaro?" Motoko looked over to the older girls. She would like to have gone with them all as a group.
"I would like to but I always have work to do here. Go on." Hana pouted.
Motoko went to quickly change into shorts and a string top. When she came down, the other girls had changed in the back room and Kietaro was in the front wiping down tables. He smiled at the group and told them to have fun. Motoko kept feeling the need to look at him to get his attention. He never looked up.
Motoko left looking down cast and disappointment set in as the three left the Hina cafe. Kietaro finished the cleaning and looked to the girls' backs. He knew he disappointed the girls since Haruhi and Hana both tried to convince him to come while Motoko was upstairs. The girls even insinuated that he had a chance with the Aoyama. Keitaro just snorted at that. He had no time for romance. There was still the Todai exams. But Motoko's down cast eyes kept coming up when ever he was working in the cafe.
Kietaro went into the storage room that was now doubling as an office. He still needed to calculate the budget and place several orders before the shipment comes in for the next week. It wasn't as if he didn't have time to do this. He began to wonder why he did turn down the girls offer. Even Motoko went.
Kietaro had set the orders the day before and inventory check was only for the meal they had prepared an hour ago. Kietaro set up the calculations for the next week's budget and started on the last thing he did. Finally the till money was counted up, there was only one transaction, and the vault was now secured. Keitaro walked out of the back and looked around the dining room.
He really never realized how fast he went through paper work before. Even if it was only for a non-existent day, he knew it would have been only an extra half hour of work to finish. But then he was used to taking mock exams that lasted for hours. Closing work was easy. The place has been closed for only an hour and he was already bored. He had tried to study, and realized he was getting no where, his mind was on something else. Kietaro looked out the window and saw that it was still hot and he had several hours of sunlight. He went up stairs to quickly change before he left, locking the store as he left.
Keitaro knew that the festival was a big event for the town, but he had never known how large it was. The largest park in town was over flowing with people and the festival spread through two additional blocks surrounding the park.
Keitaro walked around the small booths of games and towards the food court. All the while he was scratching the back of his head unsure as to what he was doing here. While it was all well and good to be doing something, going out on your own has always been boring. Keitaro ate a few plum rice balls and watched a band play on stage. He had successfully forced the idea that he might be lucky and find one of the girls out of his head. Aquiet huffed in defeat escaped his mouth. The teenager stood and walked around several couples whom had lounged on the grass with blankets they had brought. Finally he found something that made him glad he was alone. A picture booth. He grinned widely and hopped in to take a picture. The Urashima found a frame of the area he liked and when the flashes were done, he stuffed the photos in his wallet glad he had gotten something out of the trip.
Another sigh escaped him when he realized he had made it all away across the festival. It would be getting dark soon and Keitaro took that as his cue to leave. Again he made is trek across the park stopping at a few the trinkets shops. He knew he liked some of the things he saw but he didn't bring much money and had only his bank card. These little shops wouldn't have a debit card reader with them.
"Cook-san!" Keitaro turned to look over his shoulder. Afew girls were waving madly at him. Keitaro suddenly remembered the one that was hitting on him at his first day. He unconsciously let the group of girls catch up.
"Hello Naku-san." The young woman smiled at him before the girls next to Ms. Naku giggled. "I am surprised to see so many of my regulars in a single group. Kita-san, Aku-san, Nemi-san. It's a pleasure to meet you all."
Naku was the first to talk earning a playful glare from Ms. Kita. "I am surprised you are here, I just saw Haruhi." Keitaro felt his hopes rise. He really wanted to spend some time with a few people he knew. It would be weird to spend time with his employees, but he never thought of Motoko-san as one.
"Mah, I had been looking for them. I was about to give up. Do you happen to know where the group went to?" Naku attached herself onto Keitaro's arm giving a pleased grin when he turned red at the contact of her low cut dress made against his elbow.
"Of course I do. We were actually going that way anyway. Cute little Motoko-chan had never been to a dance before. Hana thought now was a good time as any."
At Motoko's name Keitaro felt relieved that all the girls were together. He had not thought they would ditch the poor girl, but there was always the chance. He didn't like how Naku kept brushing her body against his arm, but he tolerated it for the chance to find the only girls he was familiar with in a distant town.
When the group got to the club Keitaro was accosted by another group he had served at work. "Cook-san!" Keitaro laughed and thankfully disengaged himself from the girl. She pouted and followed after Keitaro.
"Anna, Kiesuke. Good to see you." Keitaro gave them a look that screamed help me. The couple laughed before each latched to an arm and dragged him inside leaving the flirt and her friends lost among the crowd.
"Thank you very much. I had no idea how I was going to get away from her."
Anna gave a cheery laugh. "How did you even let her get so close. You are usually good at keeping distance at the Hina Bar."
Keitaro gave a cheesy grin. "That's because I know all my escape routes. She grabbed onto me as soon as she saw a chance." The three shared a laugh before Keitaro continued. "I am actually looking for the Hina girls. Naku mentioned that they were headed here."
Anna looked around and chuckled at how little room there was. The place was dark and the club was open to everyone for the festival. The group didn't try to talk as they walked to the out door dance floor and into the fresh air.
"I don't think that lead was worth it. I have no idea where I could even begin looking for them in there." Keitaro breathed out glad that he could hear again.
Anna perked up. "Hey cook-san how good are you at dancing?"
Keitaro looked at her as if she was insane. "Do I even want to know what you are thinking?"
It was then that her grinned turned sinister.
A few hours before sun down the three girls Keitaro was looking for had been busy. Motoko was literally pulled all over the festival. "I appreciate that you both want me to have a good time, but this really is not the kind of entertainment I had in mind." Hana giggled before she pulled the young girl into line. After they all walked passed the height line, the three were carted into a large seating bowl. "And this ride looks nauseating."
"It's fine Motoko-chan. It's all for fun. Besides we need to have as much of it for Keitaro-san. And why are you talking all proper now?" Haruhi complained.
"It is because we are not speaking to customers who would get impatient if I did not speak 'slang'." Motoko spat out the word as if it was a curse. "And taking your time to speak properly is a good thing. There are enough things in the world that are sped up to accommodate the 'fast life style', butchering the language should not be one of them."
The girls giggled as the ride started up. Motoko was still dizzy ten minutes later when they sat down to eat. "Hina girls!" Hana smirked. Motoko almost choked. Haruhi flinched.
"Hello Naku-chan." Mokoto said for the group. The girls didn't really know the woman's name other than insist on being called Naku. It was a pet peeve of Motoko how the woman tried constantly to mislead Keitaro-san to get something for free when the cafe turned bar. "It is good to see you around. Enjoying the festival?"
Naku dimpled and her entourage joined her in a shared giggle. "Yes I am doing just fine. Cook-san didn't come with you?" She sounded disappointed when she looked around for any sign of the boss of the cafe.
"Unfortunately no. He decided to do some work. He insisted that we go though."
"That's very generous of him." She said with a sigh. "Will you three be going to the club tonight?"
Hana's ears perked. "Which one?"
"Sandy Nights. They are down the road. Not far off from the festival. They are right on the beach, and their dance floor is huge."
"I would not be able to attend. I am underage." Motoko responded giving her friends a look meaning they could go with out her.
Naku stuck her tongue out. "Of course you can! It's open to the public today. All ages are allowed in. You just have to wear a wrist band if you want to get alcohol."
Motoko murmured to herself 'I have never been to a dance before'. Haruhi and Hana still heard it. The three girls exchanged looks deciding if they were going to go.
"Thanks for the heads up Naku, we'll be sure to check it out. It opens soon?" Haruhi felt the most charitable and spoke to Naku while getting the rest of the information. When Naku and her gang left the three girls exhaled.
"The woman is most unpleasant."
"And she keeps trying to seduce Keitaro." Haruhi grumbled.
Hana and Motoko looked at her. "What? I can be a little jealous. I wish I had that kind of confidence, if only I wouldn't come off as a slut." Motoko reddened while Hana teasingly gasped at the language.
"So we are going then?" Motoko asked to make sure she would be having a late night.
"Damn straight we will." Hana shouted.
Kietaro could not believe he was going through with Anna's suggestion. He had many ideas as to why this was a bad idea. The top three were: it was embarrassing, there was no guarantee the girls would even be there and if the girls were there, he had to choose which one's attention he was going to get. And if he chose the wrong one, work was going to be painful the next day.
In the end it came down to his comfort zone. Hana and Haruhi were both employee's first and friends second. Motoko was a friend first and he didn't even really consider her an employee as she volunteered to stay to help. It was with that in mind that Keitaro was standing next to the disc jockey with shaky knees. Anna apparently knew the man as he gave her ahug and Kiesuke a hug each. The group talked while he set up the next song and agreed to help the young man out.
The music slowly faded at the end of the last dance song and the dj's voice came over the speakers. Ladies and gentle men, we have avery special request from a good friend named Urashima Keitaro. There was a rustle of air from the microphone being passed before Kietaro looked at it already knowing he couldn't back out now. Anna and Kiesuke cheered him silently. He smiled at the two thanking them. The microphone echoed his inhale.
The girls had been at the club for a little over a half an hour when Motoko decided she did not like the dancing she saw. Most of them were with men who had pressed themselves very close to the women. After dancing with Hana and Haruhi to muse them, a man in his mid twenties had tried to dance against the young Aoyama. Hana and Haruhi saved her from the scene that was likely to break out if the man stayed a second longer. Motoko was still red faced when she sat down and the girls ordered juice. Hana and Haruhi took turns on the dance floor but never left Motoko's side as boys of all ages looked as if they wanted to approach the raven haired girl. Motoko politely declined dance after dance even with the more tame music that was played. After a particularly fast song that made Motoko sweat from just watching everyone move so fast with out any martial arts training, the music died for amoment and the announcer started talking. Hana and Haruhi both sighed at the break in music before all three heard a name.
Hana and Haruhi immediately started to cheer from their spot on the far side of the club. Motoko stood up in disbelief before she looked at the spot light over the dj's table. There stood the teen, hair messed, and glasses dropping low off his nose.
I have been looking for a very special person all day today. She has helped me with out a thought of herself, and I had let her down when I said I had to work today. I heard she was here tonight and thanks to my friends here, I may be able to find her. So I am asking, is Motoko-chan is here tonight? and Will you like to have this next dance with me?
There was a silence while people looked around for the girl. Motoko was blushing red. "Kietaro! Over here!" Motoko turned in horror as Hana stood on a table and pointed at her. Motoko knew she couldn't hide when the spot light found her. She walked towards the other side of the club with the spot light following her.
Her heart sped up when she spotted Kietaro smile at her from the spot he gave his request. He jumped down from the stage and started walking towards her. He didn't have the microphone, but the crowd could see him ask the question again, this time taking a hold of her hand like agentleman. Motoko nodded in acceptance. There was a cheer from the crowd and the spot light faded from the two and a slow ballad began.
Kietaro let go of her hand and moved to start the dance. Motoko had watched enough people to get the general idea and followed his lead. The ballad was a long song and Motoko's tense stance slowly melted. By the end of the song Motoko was resting her head on Kietaro's shoulder. Both had large smiles on their faces when the song ended and they looked up at each other.
The moment ended and the pair looked around seeing the crowd was watching. Both suddenly felt very conscious. The crowd broke into applause then broke apart. The normal music began again as Haruhi pulled Keitaro and Motoko into a hug.
"That was the sweetest thing I have ever seen! You two were so adorable." Motoko kept her smile while looking at Keitaro. The Urashima smiled back before he felt his arm tugged again, this time by Anna.
"See! it worked! Have fun guys, Kiesuke went to get some drinks but we will be heading out soon." Kietaro thanked them for their hand in helping him find the girls.
"Aha, I knew there was no way a man could be that romantic." Kietaro looked at Haruhi with exasperation.
"Anna may have had the idea, but everything I said was from me." Motoko simply stood there listening. "And it was a nice dance." Kietaro gave Motoko a smile that she returned.
The night eventually wore on. It was much more enjoyable when Motoko found a dance partner who she knew would not try and molest her. However there were a few awkward moments when the pair actually listened to what some of the singers said about women and men and what they should do while listening to their song. The two laughed about it later in the night when they were finally able to walk back to the cafe.
Hana and Haruhi had opted to stay a little longer with Kietaro saying that neither of them needed to come in to work until the second shift if they wanted to sleep in. The two bowed in thanks.
Kietaro sighed as the two walked up the stairs. "I think Iam going to shower, the club was hot and I stink." Motoko managed not to be too embarrassed when Keitaro said things like that.
"I'll go in after you so hurry up. I am tired."
It was almost quarter past two when Motoko walked out of the shower with an over sized shirt and comfortable shorts. It took her a while to dry her hair but settled to tie it up when it was close enough.
She walked around the room in the dark and slid under the covers before looking over at Kietaro who was sound asleep. She smiled at his face. It was illuminated by starlight. It was not much, but it was enough for Motoko to run her hand over his bangs affectionately before falling asleep.
- - Chapter 1 Open for business - -
A/N: Well here is my first Love Hina fanfiction. If you got anything to say, voice it. Especially grammar, I am trying to get better at that. Thanks.
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