There are those who say you shouldn’t take a bath after dinner. Those had obviously never been to an onsen.
Now, the private bath wasn’t really part of the onsen. Heated tap water and nothing else, but it was still outdoors, with a gorgeous view if you chose to stand up.
With a gorgeous view if you chose to lie in the water as well. Urufu just didn’t get how sculpted his body had become, and enjoying it with her eyes wasn’t just a matter of being in love with him. There was something as pure aesthetics as well.
He had grumbled and pouted and protested, but in the end he wasn’t someone who’d miss out on a lazy evening in the water. Not even if it meant spending it stark naked alone with her.
“You started it,” Noriko said staring at his back.
No response. Even the stringy muscles low on his back looked grumpy.
“Last year you did,” she persisted. One way or another she’d have a conversation with him going. But last year there were four of us in the beginning and all six later. There was a difference in sharing a bath alone with him.
Still no answer, but the way his shoulders stiffened told her he had heard.
“You said it was only natural.”
“Yukio told me already.”
Finally an answer! Noriko stretched and sank deeper into the water. She did a little embarrassed after all, and Urufu was bound to turn around any moment now.
“Oh.” How could I forget he’s a boy when I fell in love with him? There were parts of him she wasn’t used to see at all. She sank to her nose in the water. Then she blushed .Much belatedly she realised the surface didn’t do anything to hide her body from him where he was standing looking down on her.
“Just natural, was it?” He smirked. “I apologise.” Then he sat down at the opposite end of the small pool. “Promise, I can only see your face from here, or half of it,” he added and grinned.
That grin reminded her of her second crush on him, before she even realised he was the same boy who saved her from the Red Rose rapist would be.
You didn’t grin at all the first time though. He had had little reason to. Stranded in an alien world where he didn’t understand the language of those around him. No wonder he turned rebel. Why he pretended being an introverted geek when admitted to Himekaizen he still hadn’t told them. Yukio probably knew, and maybe Kuri, but Noriko wasn’t certain about the last.
“How much do you train?” she asked. He already knew she was in love with him. He could just as well know she thoroughly enjoyed the sight of him.
How dense can he be? Or maybe he wasn’t. He looked like a teenager, but he wasn’t. Not really. Sometimes her parents shared jokes with each other that she didn’t understand, and it wasn’t just because they spoke of things she didn’t understand.
She gave Urufu another look. He looked like any other teenager now when he had submerged, but she remembered the stares he got that day on the beach in the Tokyo bay. Well, she realised and blushed again, any other good looking teenager.
“You know, sports,” she said to buy herself some time.
He spent over half a year as Kuri’s boyfriend. Given her experience as a model, or rather as a super model in during her previous life, there was no chance Urufu didn’t know exactly in what way he was attractive to the eye. Kuri wasn’t exactly the type to stay silent in matters of looks.
Urufu shrugged, and ringlets of water spread over the surface. When they reached Noriko she became aware she shared a very small pool with Urufu naked.
Don’t think about it! Don’t think about it! To haul him in she had to play older than she actually way. She needed to somehow close the gap that made him look at her as if she was a child.
For a moment, before she stripped and took to the bath, she played with the idea of flaunting her body to him, but then memories of Kuri came to her mind, and she quickly gave up that idea. There was no competing with that body.
Unfair! But life was unfair. She had to work with what was hers to work with.
“Why ask a question if you’re not interested in the answer?”
“Huh” Noriko shook her head. She had been so immersed in her own world she didn’t register that Urufu answered. “I’m sorry. Please, say again.”
“It’s a matter of how you define training,” he said.
The way he usually weighed his words before uttering them was dear to her. She preferred this man to the outspoken clown he became whenever he wanted the club members to act in a given way. The latter might be the one who won admiring glances from the girls, but this was the Urufu she wanted for herself.
And I’m a liar. I fell in love with a rebel who looked like something my mother really ought to warn me to stay away from. Somehow Noriko suspected her mother wouldn’t. There was something about her mother and father that hinted at a wilder youth that they wanted to admit.
Urufu shrugged again, and once more ringlets of water spread towards her. This time she didn’t care.
“Formal training. Maybe six hours per week.”
He grinned and her heart jumped. “I train at a karate and an aikido dojo. Nothing much. Maybe twice a week each.”
The words registered, but they didn’t say much. Foreigners might believe everyone in Japan was crazy about budo, but that was very, very far from the truth.
“Is that much?” she asked.
“Dunno. A bit more than usual back home. A little bit.”
“Enough to explain that body of yours?” Noriko said amazed at her own daring.
“Good catch!” And another one of those grins than almost made her heart stop reached her from across the surface. “No.”
Noriko waited for Urufu to continue. Sometimes he needed the silence, but it didn’t mean he was finished.
“I bike around a lot, and walk,” he continued. So say another eight hours a week. “Maybe ten. Let’s call it fifteen hours a week all in all.”
“Is that a lot?”
“For a school kid? Yeah, it’s a lot. Still only half the time an athlete would spend.” Urufu’s grin thinned to a smile. “I like being active, but I’m not good at sports, so I don’t have any aspirations in that direction.”
Good! She wanted him for herself after all. Now all that remained was having him for herself for the evening in a way that would get them closer to each other without forcing his hand.