Talon's Note: (sigh) It's taking so long for me to get anything done thanks to school and other distractions. (shrug) Oh well. What awaits our intrepid crew in the next chapter, hm? I guess we'll just have to see, heh...

The Refreshing of Fate A Love Hina Sequel by MagicianXV and Andrew Joshua Talon
"Mutsumi-chan, Mutsumi-chan," Narusegawa was sobbing, her eyes red as tears poured down her face. She shook violently, sitting on the surface of the hot springs patio, in nothing but a towel. She held another towel to her bosom, covered in ashes.

"Naru! Naru, what's going on? What's-!" Another wail from Naru cut Keitaro off, the red head burying her face in the sooty towel with choked sobs. Motoko and Keitaro exchanged looks, before finally noticing what was in front of Narusegawa.

"... Ashes? What in... What the..." Indeed, a pile of ashes, unassuming, unintrusive, sat in front of Naru. A small ring glinted from the dull grey pile, a lithe purity ring that Mutsumi had worn...

"What happened, Narusegawa," prodded Motoko quietly, sitting next to the wailing girl. Keitaro could only stare at the scene, an impossible idea starting to form in his mind.

"She-I-We.. We were going into the hot spring, um, and she looked kind of... uh... funny for a few moments, like she was going to throw up. And then, she started to smoke and... and... Oh god, oh god!" Naru began sobbing again, shivering.

"She exploded! She just went fwoosh! And that's... That's all..." Naru threw herself into Motoko's arms, crying harder. Motoko awkwardly patted her on her back, alternating between staring at the pile and Keitaro in shock. Keitaro himself, just... sank to the floor, his eyes locked on the pile.

"Mutsumi..." he murmured, barely above a whisper. He reached into the remains of his friend, his... Well, he really didn't know how to describe his relationship with Mutsumi. It just... was. And apparently...

He pulled the purity ring out of the ashes, blowing on it. He then studied it, staring at it from every angle. She'd asked him to help her choose a ring, that he had gone to buy her for her birthday. And Keitaro had chosen this one, which had made Mutsumi happy. Well, and Narusegawa happy too, because that day they'd spent nearly an hour in the jewelery store and she'd wanted to go home...

"... God... God damnit!" A wave of anger and rage swept through Keitaro, punching the patio floor.

SMASH! The ex-ronin stared at the place he'd made contact with the patio. His fist had gone through it. He pulled it back out, staring at his blemishless hand. How could...?

"Ara, why is it so dark?" Said a small, familiar voice. All three 'mourners' blinked, and stared at the pile of ashes. Something was digging itself out.

"AAAAHHHH! IT'S MUTSUMI'S GHOST!" Screamed Keitaro, flipping backwards and landing on his face.

"DAH! OUCH!" Naru and Motoko stood transfixed, watching the wriggling pile. After about a minute, a sooty beak poked out of the mess. A moment later, a head emerged. And, one more minute after that, a awkward, and extremely ugly bird tottered out of the ashes and blinked large brown eyes at it's surroundings.

"Ara? Everything's so big, ara..." The bird looked around, then saw Keitaro lying on the floor. She happily toddled over to the ex-ronin's side, pecking him slightly with her beak.

"Ara! Kei-kun, ara, are you alright?" Keitaro lifted his head, and stared into the bird's eyes. She stared right back.

"AAAAHHHHHH!" Keitaro screamed, before his eyes rolled back into his head and he passed out. The bird sweatdropped, before turning to Motoko and Naru, both watching the bird wide-eyed.

"Naru-chan? Motoko-chan? Ara, what's wrong?"

"... Mutsumi?!"


Short teaser chapter! Best I can do... Ciao! R&R, please!