Portrait

Moshulel

Well-Known Member
#1
New interface, new stories? Let's see how it goes.

Disclaimer: Standard legalese talk - do not own, the ownership belongs to, playing with their ideas, etc.




New York - Sotheby's

“Going once, “ all the eyes in the room were pointed towards the man in a suit holding the gavel.

“Going twice,” a few nervous conversations were taking placing on cell phones as the auctioneers threw quick glances to the displayed item.

“Going thrice…” a nervous glance from one of the participants to the rest of the room.

“Sold! For the sum of seven million dollars to…”


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Portrait.


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It was another lazy day at the Tea House. At first, Haruka had been terrified of the idea. No customers meant no sales, no sales meant no money, no money meant no bills get paid. She had learned to appreciate them since that first moment of panic.

The Tea House was usually a busy place, even if just regulars attended, and the House had a lot of regulars. It means that there was little time left for the owner to tend to the business under the counter, checking stocks, making sure everything was working and so on, unless she planned on never sleeping again that is. That was why lazy days were fine once in a while.

She was on carrying a couple of crates when the soft chime of the door bell announced her that she had a customer.

“I’ll be right there!” Haruka said, looking around for a place to set down the crates. She’d never admit it out loud, but at times like these she wondered about getting help to take care of all the carrying and moving. Male help.

So intent was she on finding a place for the crates that her feet chose to imitate their close relatives residing several dozen meters away at the inn, and tripped.

“Oh shit!” Haruka yelped. To her credit, unlike her often falling nephew she stumbled for a couple of steps, trying, but failing, to keep her balance. It was then that a pair of slender, tanned arms caught her, preventing her fall.

“Sorry,” Haruka looked into the face of a foreigner girl with blue eyes, “But it seemed you needed help.”

"I... I," Haruka stumbled over her own words, this was supposed to happen to Keitaro, not to her, although Keitaro would have been a lot more appreciative of a girl that didn't react with violence at his clumsiness. "Thank you," she finally said.

The foreign girl smiled.

"Where do you want them?" she asked taking hold of the troublesome crates.

"Just up there..." Haruka said with half a mouth as the girl started carrying the crates as if they weight nothing more than a toothpick. 'This girl keeps in shape,' she thought.

"All done," the girl said, wiping her hands from imaginary dust.

"Thank you," Haruka said, taking a few moments before her mind rebooted and she reminded herself that there was no reason for her to behave as if she didn't know the world she was living in.

"I apologise," she started, "I imagine you'd want something to drink?" Not for the first time in her life Haruka asked herself if there was something with people in the Urashima family that made them 'unique' when it came to handling situations such as these. Her rescuer was a customer in a tea shop, it was obvious she was there for a drink.

"Some tea would be nice," the girl said, fidgeting as she spoke. There was something in her tone that made Haruka take a good look at her.

With her large, bright blue eyes, blossoming bosom and shapely legs the girls was a beauty, there was no doubt about it, and to add to that, she kept in shape if her earlier deeds were anything to go by. Only a faint burn scar on her left hand took away from her idyllic looks, but even that blemish contributed to add to her exotic looks.

But it wasn't her beauty that interested Haruka. The girl looked somewhat familiar. Perhaps a relative of Su? If so, there were no tell tale clues that usually accompanied the Molmolians when they came to visit. The woman wracked her mind trying to realize just why the young girl seemed familiar whilst she prepared the tea.

"Here you go," she said, bringing a cup of her best tea to her customer's table, "On the house."

There was something different about the girl, her early, cheerful disposition gone and Haruka could see that the young girl was trying very hard to decide about something, biting her lips at random intervals as to prevent herself from speaking.

"Ummm..." she heard as she moved away from the table, "Excuse me..." the girl seemed to have trouble taking her idea to the finish and Haruka turned around to listen to her with a smile, "Would you happen to know Urashima Keitaro?"

In that instance, Haruka finally remembered where she knew the girl from. The media had been all a buzz about this scion of royalty and there was a more intimate connection between the young girl and the Urashimas, even though it was hard to believe any of her family had met her or her relatives before.

Sara Halifa. The richest girl in the world.

"May I know who's looking?" she said, trying to stall until she could decide just what she was going to do about this unforeseen guest.

"Sara, Sara Halifa," she introduced herself as westerners did, name before family name. She realized that and quickly corrected herself, "Err, Halifa Sara, sorry!"

There was something oddly familiar about the way she shifted on her toes, and for a moment Haruka was reminded of Keitaro, but it was rather clear that the girl before her was a lot more polished.

"And if I tell you I don't know this Urashima Keitaro?" Haruka said, raising her hands to support her claim all the while her eyes studying the girl.

The girl frowned and retrieved a notebook from her backpack drawing Haruka's attention to the luggage the girl had been carrying. If she knew her backpacks then that was the type of gear she and Seta would be using for a long expedition. Those things were heavy, and Sara's backpack looked full to the brim.

"Isn't this the Hina Inn, owned by the Urashima family? Currently under administration of Urashima Keitaro?"

"Yes, but..." Haruka realized that her mother's meddling ways had brought once more the old Chinese curse 'May you live in interesting times' over her nephew's head.

"Ah," the girl smiled, "Then you do know Urashima Keitaro!" she sounded relieved, and quite a bit excited.

"Yes," Haruka said, defeated. "May I know why you're looking for him?"

"Ummm," the girl blushed, suddenly finding the floor very interesting, "I always wanted to meet the author of 'Smile' and 'Cherry Blossoms'..."

"A fan, huh?" Haruka said. It was bound to happen sooner or later. Someone was going to find the elusive Urashima Keitaro and even though her nephew's identity had been kept a close guarded secret thanks to his benefactors and the Urashima family, with enough resources and time anything was possible. And Sara Halifa had them both.

"Yes," the girl answered without hesitation.

"And what will you do once you meet him? He might disappoint you, you know?" Haruka said. She felt sorry for the girl. She probably had the image of a prodigy, a man with peerless talent, but her cousin wasn't anything like that, at least not anymore.

"Still, I want to meet him," Sara said and Haruka realised that the girl wouldn't quit.

Now that the initial shock of the meeting and of the fact that Keitaro was found out wore off, Haruka's experience in dealing with all sorts of people kicked in. No, this girl wouldn't quit, not until she had her chance to meet her nephew. The problem was, how to arrange such a meeting without causing any suspicion?

"This might get complicated," Haruka finally said, "My nephew doesn't want the attention." She confirmed that they knew Keitaro, there was no point in denying it any longer. The girl in front of her had done her research well.

Now that she thought about a meeting, Haruka realised just how complicated it would be. Sara Halifa was a public person, almost a celebrity in the Japanese media, her tale of survival making it even to Hollywood! This meant that even now reporters might be on her tail, trying to find out the latest scoop. There was however another major impediment.

One of Keitaro's conditions, in fact the only one, when he took over the inn, was that nobody mentioned his past, not to the girls, not to the friends he made, few as they were, and not to himself. He was dead set against everything that reminded him of his old life and of the expectations placed on his shoulders. He might even refuse meeting the girl, and the girl would most likely insist on meeting him if her body posture was anything to go by.

"I won't cause any trouble," Sara said, bubbling with excitement that indicated otherwise.

"And why do you want to meet him?" Haruka said, already seeing the reproachful look her nephew would throw at her once she told him about this whole affair. At least if she had a good reason he wouldn't shut up to her as he did to the rest of the family after the fiasco involving his retirement.

"Because..." the girl sat silent for a moment, her face scrunching in thought. "Because his works remind me of my family." Even she seemed surprised by this answer as her eyes focused on the wall behind Haruka.

"I'll see if I can get him to meet you," Haruka finally said. "But until then, don't go snooping around the inn."

"Yes!" Sara said, pumping her fist in the air.

For some reason, as she watched the young girl go, Haruka decided that she needed to find Keitaro fast. The foreign girl wasn't going to wait for long, and all she needed was for her nephew to think she had a hand in any possible scene the foreigner was bound to cause if she went up those stairs and into the inn proper.


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For Keitaro the days went by as they always had. Trip over the only uneven surface in the whole hallway, get called a pervert, risk getting launched into orbit on a daily basis, experience new thrills as waves of compressed air made him forever grateful to whatever Urashima ancestor brought their robust constitution into the genetic pool of the family. Of course, there were some exception to the now regular routine of the Hinata House. One such exception was the cause of his current predicament.

"Oh Kei-kun," one Kitsune Konno was currently draped around him as a curtain, her breath caressing his ear, soft flesh pressing into his arm, "Just a little extension, p-l-e-a-s-e?" she pressed even harder and he could definitely attest to the fact that the Konno Mountains were without restraint. With just a little imagination he could already make out the peaks of the instruments of torture Kitsune so aptly used against him.

"Kitsune," Keitaro said, trying to win one of their bouts for once, "You know I can't..."

"But Kei-kun," the fox held him even tighter and Keitaro could feel himself starting to sweat, "If you don't, then I won't have money for sake this month. And if I don't have my sake I'll be starting to say strange things." She didn't say anything more, but Keitaro knew where she was getting at.

A few days before fate had provided the Urashima male with an accident free day. Those were few and far between and he was rather certain that another wouldn't happen for some time. Since no special event took place to draw the attention, and ire, of the resident pervert bashers, Keitaro was left rather distracted and with quite a bit of free time on his hands. Unlike others, he didn't appreciate free time, there was after all a reason why a single person did the whole maintenance for the whole inn, studied for Tokyo U and somehow found the time to help the tenants with their own problems. And as was expected, this caused another sort of problem for him.

Without anything to distract his attention, Keitaro fell into old habits, his eyes studying the lithe figures of the girls in the Hinata Inn. As he looked at the girls, his hands started moving on their own. That was how Kitsune found him, his eyes stuck to the girls, his hands doing something with a piece of paper that the older girl couldn't identify. It was however enough for her to pounce on the naive manager, and he fell right into it. Now he was going to pay the price for his slip.

"And who knows what the girls might say if they heard those weird things?" Kitsune said, finding great delight in torturing the ronin, both with her words and with her body. Keitaro always reacted, whether he wanted or not. It was quite a bit of an ego boost for the so called party girl of the inn, especially when she knew how obsessed Keitaro was about his promise girl.

"Kitsune," Keitaro realized he had lost yet another battle in the long, ongoing war he was waging against Kitsune's extortion schemes, "How long?" he asked, trying to make it sound as if he wasn't influenced at all by her mischievous touches. He failed.

"Oh," Kitsune loosened her hold on him, "Just a week or two, until I cash in a cheque. I'll have the money then!" He could see her triumphant smile without turning around. She wore the same grin every time one of her schemes went her way. There was no reason for this moment to be different.

"Fine. I'll wait another week," Keitaro said, waving the white flag for this engagement.

"Thank you Kei-kun!" Kitsune whispered in his ear, pressing her lips to his earlobe. "And if I don't have the money then," she said as she started moving towards the door, abruptly abandoning the hug she imposed on him, "Then we can talk about... other forms of payment." He didn't need to see her wink to know she was preparing the ground for her next 'extension'.

As Kitsune left the room, Keitaro finally relaxed. Despite the fact that the fox had once more outwitted him, the worst had been averted. As long as she thought he was doing typical, unintended perverted Keitaro stuff then there was no reason to worry, those were things per the norm around the Inn after all.

It wasn't as he actually needed the rent money. There was no way Granny Hina would have charged the girl at the dorm at the regular going rates for rooms of this quality and the Urashimas had plenty of money for pet projects such as these. The rent had two purposes. One, it was intended for food and other such perishable goods. Without all of the tenants pulling their weight, there was definitely going to be a hole in the that budget, one he would have to fill. The other purpose of paying rent was to teach the girls responsibility, and he was failing miserably at this.

"Is it just me or is Kitsune getting fat?" he said to no one only to hear something dropping on the other side of the door.

"Funny," Keitaro said to himself as he opened his door, "I could have sworn I've heard something." He looked around the hallway for a couple of moments before turning back inside. He had some suspicions about exactly what happened outside, a but he wasn't going to be voicing them, that would be asking for trouble with the girls, or at least some of the girl, a whole chain reaction he was desperate to avoid.

"Still," he mumbled to himself after closing the door, "They could be a little more subtle," he said, grabbing a pencil and a few sheets of paper.


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"It's not fat," Kitsune said, poking where her perfectly fit abdomen was supposed to be, "It's just a bit of extra skin, yeah, that's it!"

It was to be a fool proof plan. Get out of the room, stay outside the door for a couple of moments and then gather further 'evidence' to use against the manager during their next encounter discussing the rent. At least that's how it was supposed to be. For all his so called perversity, Kitsune never quite managed to get that conclusive proof. She knew that the manager was innocent, but enough teasing would drive even the most naive of men beyond that. For some reason though, Keitaro never showed those signs. Sure, he got all flustered and agitated when she teased him in close quarters, but other than that there was quite a significant absence of other results. To add to it, this time around, instead of her desired result, she came out of it with something else entirely.

"I'm not fat," she turned around in front of her mirror.

Keitaro's comment came out of nowhere. It was so sudden that she just had to fall on her ass, she blamed that on whatever kami watched over the Hinata, they probably felt the need to tilt the cosmic balance a bit. And if that wasn't enough, she also had to half crawl outside the hallway before Keitaro opened his door. She knew he always waited for a couple of seconds, he had learned by now that noise close to his door was never a good thing if he rushed out, so she was spared the humiliation of being found sprawled all over the floor.

"OK, maybe just a little bit," she finally admitted as the mirror refused to miraculously change her figure. There was a bit of extra fat settling itself nicely on her hips and around her waist.

"Nothing a small diet can't fix!" just the mere thought of Shinobu's meals made that prospect a difficult one. For some reason, the idea that the small chef was trying to fatten them up entered her mind, but Shinobu wouldn't be so diabolical, would she?

"Now I'm blaming Shinobu," she voiced her thoughts shaking her head in annoyance. She needed to take charge of the situation and handle the threat to her figure before it was too late and blaming other people wouldn't help, but first, she had to teach someone why it's never a good idea to call a lady fat, even if you're alone, in your own room, and nobody's supposed to hear you.

There was however something that bothered her as she started planning her 'vengeance'. How did Keitaro appraise her figure so accurately when it was her puppies doing the talking and not her waist? But all was forgotten when she heard another of the tenants passing by.

"Naru!"


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It was the grumbling of his stomach that brought him back to the world. It took only a quick look at the watch to confirm what his back ache was already telling him, he had wasted the whole afternoon doodling.

"Not again," he said, looking at the drawings laid on paper, only to tear them up to pieces with a shake of his head. "No good." If there was anything resembling anger in Keitaro Urashima from the moment he joined the inn then this was probably it. He tore the paper into tiny, little pieces filling his trash bin with homemade confetti. The paper was soon joined by the remnants of a pencil, broken in half.

"Not good enough," Keitaro said as he finished his rampage. With his anger sated, he had to take care of his hunger as well. By now Shinobu was most likely done with the meal, he helped the little chef when he had the time, but she always pushed him to study, although she never refused the help. This time around he didn't manage to do anything constructive with his day. No repairs done to the inn, no extra exercises solved, just a couple of torn sheets to show for his effort.

"Sempai," almost as if on cue, Shinobu's voice could be heard from the hallway. Unlike some other residents, the young girl never barged in his room uninvited. Dinner's ready."

"Coming," he said, taking one last look at the torn paper, "Thank you."

"I-i-it's not a problem!" he knew better than to say anything at this point, for some reason Shinobu always took off as a rocket after saying these words.

As he entered the dining room he could feel the eyes of several tenants settling on his face. There was a smirk on Kitsune's face and Naru looked almost murderous. As far as he remembered he didn't do anything, at least for the current day, to warrant such reactions. 'Unless...' he thought and took a good look at Kitsune before gulping 'Oh boy...'

"Dinner is served," Shinobu's intervention prevented any further developments, they were too busy with helping the young girl place the food on the table and drool at the high grade cooking that was going to soon grace their palates.

"So," Kitsune started after the pack of girls had its fill of nourishment, "I was just talking with Kei-kun here earlier today," Keitaro could almost hear the warning bells, it was always at this point that Naru stopped bringing her chopsticks to her mouth and actually started focusing on him, "He's actually agreed to help me out a little," she flashed a smile to the ronin, "Although it took a bit of convincing..." she puffed her chest for emphasis, "He had me present my arguments for his... attention." At this the older girls at the table froze.

It didn't take rocket science for Keitaro to see where this was heading. For some reason, and he had a tiny inkling of why, Kitsune had it in for him, she was already bringing the big guns in front of Naru and Motoko and that never ended well, for him.

"KeiTaRO," Naru was smiling as she said his name, slowly raising from the table. From beside her, Motoko, until now silent, moved her hand towards her sword.

"Thank you for the meal!" Keitaro said, bowing towards Shinobu and lifting from the table faster than any of the girls expected, "It was lovely!" both Naru and Motoko could only stare dumbfounded as Keitaro bolted out the room and out of their immediate range. Comprehension immediately dawned and they bolted after him, only stopping to offer a small bow to Shinobu.

"Keitaro!!!" Naru started the chase with her usual battle cry.

"Treacherous male!" Motoko joined in.

"I didn't do anything!" Keitaro tried defending himself as he tried to dodge his two pursuers.

Despite his best efforts it just wasn't enough. The two girls had excellent teamwork when it came to cornering him and he soon found himself with his back against the wall in the lobby.

"Now..." Naru popped her knuckles whilst Motoko prepared for her own assault, getting closer and closer to Keitaro, "Justice will be..."

"Enough of that, girls," Haruka's voice came out of nowhere and stopped the impending 'Divine retribution'. "I need to have a little chat with my nephew here. Auntie to Nephew, and I'd appreciate it if you wouldn't make me chase across town for him now that I found him."

The tone used told everyone that it wasn't a request.

A/N:Text preread by Lord Raa, I assume ownership over all mistakes encountered.
 

Lord Raa

Exporter of Juice Tins
#2
I like this one, hopefully there will be more in the coming days/weeks.

I might have been able to catch a few mistakes, but I have no idea where this one is heading.
 

EagleCeres

Well-Known Member
#3
Solid pacing, spot on characterization and a very interesting plot start.

Glad to see you back at the keyboard Mosh!
Hope to read more of this fine story you have in the works for Kei and the Hina Girls.
 

T.L

Well-Known Member
#4
Well you certainly planted the hook just nicely.
Eagerly waiting for your next update.
 

gral

Well-Known Member
#5
I'll be watching this one, never expected someone would do a Gallery Fake crossover(which is a pity, Gallery Fake is awesome).
 

Antimatter

Well-Known Member
#6
I don't know if they woudl react like that due to Kitsune teasing Keitaro. there was a few times in the manga where she pulled something like that and the girls ether ignored it, or were actually kind of pissed at her.

Unless this is very early on, I think the girls just sort of got used to her doing it. It's hard to claim keitaro is a pervert if they know Kitsune instigated things.
 

FinalMax

Well-Known Member
#7
My interest is piqued. I am most certainly curious as to where this is going.
 

kevinasher

Well-Known Member
#11
Being the 10th person to request more, I think I deserve a cake.
 

ThreadWeaver

Well-Known Member
#12
I am quite interested in this. The Sara character, after looking her up, seems like a perfect counterpoint to Keitaro, and one that the other girls would have a very hard time competing against. I look forward to seeing more of this.

I didn't detect any errors of grammar and I haven't seen Gallery Fake to know how close this really is to her but it's still very good. Good work.
 

Urdarum

Well-Known Member
#13
Add my voice to the choir asking for more. Excellent work Moshulel.
 

Moshulel

Well-Known Member
#14
There will be more of this, Gallery Fake is a favourite series of mine and I always bemoaned the lack of fanfics for it. Unfortunately, writing a pure GF fanfic would be rather hard without some serious research if I wanted it done right, so I decided to cheat a bit by using an older LH concept I had. I already have a third of the second chapter done.

Antimatter, I admit, I'm allowing the characters to exceed some limits, but sometimes they just slip under the radar, especially when I write about Kitsune.
 
#15
Interesting... good plot hook, and no obvious grammar/prose/characterization issues. Like everyone else, I'd like to see more.
 
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