Black Alleyways and Bleak Hearts

Chapter 6: Bubble Bath

"Hmm hmmm, hm hmmm, h-h-h-hum, hm, hmmm," I sang along as I lathered up my arms. It had been a blissful few hours full of organization after Izumi-san had gone to pick up groceries. Now you may be wondering, why would it take hours to pick up a satchel of vegetables and some soy sauce? Well, cackle, the directions I gave Izumi-san led right in front of Toby's apartment door. And since Toby leaves his windows wide open, he was sure to see Izumi-san walk by and rope him into conversation.

So that left me free of any unnecessary men around my apartment and without the sinking fear they may walk in on me while I was bathing. I hummed some more, soaping down the rest of my body thoroughly, giving it an extra scrub since it's unused to men touching it (Izumi-san had gotten extremely close these past few days). And I was enjoying myself as I began to pour the wash bucket full of clean water over my soapy body, that is until I heard the front door slam with enough force to shake the walls. I had a mini panic attack as I slouched off my stool and listened to hard, frantic footsteps make their way to the bathroom.

Looking around quickly for a weapon of some sort, the door was wrenched open and Izumi-san stormed into the bathroom, concentrated on the tub next to me.

He quickly shed his shirt, ignored my cries of protest, and dove into the tub full of water next to me. Now, in case you are unfamiliar with Japanese bathing tradition, you have an area where you can sit on a stool and scrub yourself down, then rinse off, and be left to enjoy soaking in the tub squeaky clean. In other words, I had plans for that water and it did not include Izumi-san.

"You heathenistic beast!" I roared and I pulled a fluffy towel around me.

Izumi-san, uncharacteristically, was silent and focused intently on scrubbing his shirt.

"Laundry? Now?" I asked incredulously, beginning to worry. Izumi-san was never this quiet, oh, there it was, the glare. "You nearly gave me a flippin' heart attack!"

"Toby-san doused me in Japanese aphrodisiac, and I cannot get it off of me!" Izumi-san's scrubs became more erratic as he scrubbed; his face set in total concentration. I could help but laugh. And laugh. And be momentarily stunned by Izumi-san's death ray.

"It's okay, calm down. It's Toby's way of saying he likes you. I'll get the remover." I slipped my robe on over my towel and set off to the kitchen. Izumi-san scrambled out of the tub behind me, successfully turning my floor into an ocean.

"Showing he likes me? Do you know what that stuff does to people?" Izumi-san's voice was high and strained and cracked a few times, I had to suppress a smile.

"Yes, I know. You really brought it on yourself when you told him you were trying to win my hand in marriage. He's trying to help you out now." Giggling, because really, who could help it, I pulled the bottle out from under the sink marked 'Toby's Aphrodisiac Antidote' and Izumi-san quickly pulled it out of my grasp and poured it on his shirt even as I tried to call out, "That's concentrated!"

Needless to say Izumi-san was left less than pleased and a large white stain down the middle of his black shirt. You could tell he was feeling a bit salty.

"If it makes you feel better," I started but then stopped at his look. "Okay. I understand. But you have it a lot easier than I did the first time."

Izumi-san cocked an eyebrow.

"I didn't know it was an aphrodisiac." I said empathetically. Izumi-san winced. "And on top of having it down my shirt, Toby made me drink some, unawares." Izumi-san flinched harder. "And I was ovulating." He gave up and started to laugh.

"Okay, you had it harder." I jerked at the sound of his voice; it had become low, scratchy now that he wasn't panicking. "But my voice goes to fuck when I get too excited. And I get twitchy."

"O-Oh," I had to clear my throat. Suddenly, I wanted to thank Toby, but then I realized I was still mostly naked and that I should rally finish my bath. "Well, now that you're okay, I'm gonna return to the bathroom."

"Only use the water if you want me to throw you down on the kitchen table. And the laundry room. I don't think I can take both of us aroused." His voice was waaaaay too sexy to say something like that. My internals gave a quiver and I hoped it was just from inhaling the mojo in the air.

"I'll keep that in mind," I said in return and headed for the bathroom. Slipping, and almost falling into the bathroom, I quickly regained my balance. Looking over my shoulder, I gave Izumi-san a glare, "And clean up this mess while I'm in here."

"Yes, ma'am," He saluted and disappeared into the kitchen.

Mumbling, I shed my robe and put a few booby traps in front of the door. There was no use for Izumi-san to see me naked again… wait… cue screaming.

"What? What is it?" Izumi-san asked frantically as he tripped over a bucket of water and face planted on the tile floor.

My mouth twitched a little bit, but I was still horrified. "You-you-y-you…"

"Me, me, m-me, me, what exactly? Are you trying to give me a heart attack now?" His voice was tight and mocking, but he still had that sexy scratchyness that was tingling my senses.

I ignored them with a violent mental shove and stared at him in horror. "You saw me naked," I replied in a small voice, too stunned to move away, my eyes locked on his in complete aghast. So many years I'd protected that, and now, ruined! Ah, to be dramatic. Goodness knows my mother tried many a time to get me to disrobe for one of the families of her choice. You just couldn't go around naked when you had stipulations like I did.

"Yeah, and so?" Izumi-san gave me an irritated look.

"W-well, you- you can't," I fumbled around trying to explain without sounding pathetic. There was no use, it was pathetic.

Izumi-san groaned. "I know what it is now. I keep forgetting you're apart of the Tachibana family."

Now blushing, I fidgeted and looked down at my hands. Only to realized I was just in a towel. My blush spread to my arms and I gripped the towel for dear life. "C-could you um, leave now please? I-I'm still indecent."

Izumi-san smirked in a way I knew was bad, bad, bad for me. "Come to think of it, there are scenes like this in a manga, aren't there?"

His tone was dangerous, so I backed up a little bit, and almost slipped in the process. "Why, yes there are. But there's no need to reenact them in real life." Insert a nervous laugh that Izumi-san was not falling for.

"It may help inspire you. That's what I'm here for after all." He picked himself up off the floor and approached me. I tried to scale back wards but only made it a few feet before I tripped and almost landed on my backside.

As it was, it was only Izumi-san that kept me from falling. Someone was going to have to clean this mess up.

"Now you're just leading me on," He said in that sexy voice.

"N-n-no, that wasn't-" I stuttered but he cut me off.

"Shh, I know you aren't doing it on purpose." His eyes slid slowly down my body to the top of my yellow towel. My skin was flushed, slightly damp and far too exposed in my opinion. "I like that."

I rolled my shoulders in nervousness, my own eyes following his pattern down to where he was grabbing me tightly around the waist. Our bodies pressed together somewhat and I knew I'd have bleach stains on my towel from his shirt. "Th-that is to say, there's nothing doing to be aroused about."

Damn stutter.

Izumi-san gave a chuckle and jerked his arm so that we were closer together. "How can you say that?"

Frantic, I thought of the best way to get him off of me. Because there's no way this would lead anywhere good. "I-I thought you said Towa didn't send you here to seduce me."

That gave him a pause, and some of the aroused spark in his eyes died a little bit. Just as I was calling victory, something shifted. And it wasn't the mood.

"I know, but it's kind of hard to help myself." That damn aphrodisiac! I bet Toby's cackling somewhere. I fidgeted against him as Izumi-san's tone went deeper. I had to get away, now.

"The a-aphrodisiac antidote should have worked by now." Pushing against him with my arms, I heard his intake of breath and then felt his smile.

"You are your own brand of aphrodisiac."

Izumi-san's head dipped down to my collar bone and I bolted. Practically threw him out of my way and almost died a few times on the way to my room. But I did get there, listening to a dark chuckle from Izumi-san and hoping, praying that he didn't follow me. There were reasons I was a spinster author, one of which being my absolute fear of men in a sexual situation. Conflicting to my job as a boys love manga artist? No way, there were no women to put the fear of man into.

I frantically pushed my dresser on its side to block the door. It landed with a ground shaking thump and I tore across my room, grabbing the closest clothes available. Pulling the t-shirt over my head an shimmying into the jean shorts I managed to find faster than I'd done anything else in my life, I took a frantic wide-eyed look around, noticing a shadow outside my door. Izumi-san was still out there. Dun dun duuuunn.

Laughing a bit too hysterically, I opened my window and grabbed onto an arm of the tree. Granted, I was on the second story, but that really wasn't going to stop me now. By the time Izumi-san decided to break into my room, I was several blocks away from my apartment without any shoes.