Love Hina – Beginnings

Fanfic by Steven Biggs

Chapter One - Return

Saturday Morning

Keitaro is pushing a cleaning towel along the hallway. As he passes Naru's room, the door opens and she steps out.

His hands hit her feet, causing her to fall on top of him. Naru rubs her hip and sees a large bump under her skirt.

"What are you doing, you pervert? Get out from under there!"

Jumping up, Naru lands a spinning back kick against his head and sends him tumbling down the hallway. Keitaro crashes into the far wall and slumps to the floor. Glasses hanging from one ear, he falls to his side.

"I'm sorry Narusegawa, really! It was just an accident!"

Naru stands with her arms crossed looking at Keitaro. A man's voice, strong yet ancient, and unheard by either of them, echoes in the hallway.

**It happens again. He is innocent, yet she strikes him without thought.**

A woman's voice, equally old and powerful, responds.

*He is a remarkable person. Never does he respond to her violence with violence of his own. His only reply is kindness and a desire to be forgiven, even as in his heart, he has already forgiven her.*

**His love for her is written in everything he does, why does she not see this?**

*It is there, but she is afraid to let anyone see it. Without intending to, she torments them both.*

**My Beloved, there must be something that can be done for them.**

*My Dearest, I wish that were so. However, we have passed from mortality many years ago.*

**There is a way.**

*We have not done this since before the one they call Granny Hina was a child.*

**Even then, we failed. Does not Moe still wait in her darkened room?"**

*Then what can be done?*

**We will need to draw upon some power other than our own. From whom, I do not know. The girl Motoko guards her power and we cannot touch it.**

*There is another. His power lies deep and untouched except in times of greatest need.*

**Then we must be prepared to act quickly when the opportunity arises.**

*It will be dangerous for him. If we take too much of his power when he needs it the most, it may cost him dearly.*

**Shall we do nothing, then?**

*I see no other hope for them. The risk must be borne.*

**Then the attempt shall be made. What path shall we choose, Beloved?**

*I have an idea . . . . .*

Saturday Noon

After lunch, Keitaro starts to clean the hot spring, hoping to get ahead in his chores. As he is scrubbing the rocks, he hears Naru's stern voice.

"Why are you out here cleaning? People want to use the hot spring!"

He turns and sees Naru and Motoko standing at the door, towels wrapped around their bodies.

"I'm sorry, Narusegawa. I'm just trying to get as much done today as I can."

She smiles at him.

"You've been working too hard this week. Why don't you take a break?"

Motoko, resting her sword on her shoulder, nods her head.

"Yes, Urashima. You have been working long, hardly stopping for a sufficient meal. We can all see that you are near exhaustion. Please, you need to rest."

"I can't. I need to have everything ready for . . . . ."

Naru looks at him.

"Ready for what?"

He collects his tools and heads for the storage shed.

"Nothing! Nothing at all! I just want to be a good manager!"

As he walks by them, Naru touches his arm.

"You are a good manager. And we're really glad that you're here."

Smiling, he turns to them. The handle of his brush catches on Naru's towel, pulling it off.

"KEITARO!"

Quickly covering his eyes, Keitaro blindly reaches to pick up her towel. He spins around, risking a peek to find it. The handle catches Motoko's towel and pulls it loose. As Motoko screams, he drops the tools and backs towards the door.

"I'm sorry! Please forgive me! It was an accident!"

The girls quickly cover themselves and approach him, flames leaping from their eyes. Naru clenches her fist as Motoko raises her sword.

"YOU PERVERT!"

"LECHEROUS MALE! SHINMEI SCHOOL SECRET ARTS! AIR SPLITTING SWORD!"

Naru pulls back her arm as chi swirls around Motoko's blade. Keitaro, crossing both arms in front of his face to prepare for the blows, whispers in a voice that no one else can hear.

"I forgive you both. Please forgive me."

Power which he can neither sense nor control, and which is formed clean and pure by his compassion for them, rises once again from the depths of his being, strengthening his body against the pain that is about to be inflicted upon it.

**Now, Beloved! It is time!**

*Yes Dearest, but I fear for his safety! Let us take care.*

They reach out and touch Keitaro an instant before the girls unleash their strikes. Reforming his stolen power with their will, they release the eldritch energy in a silent and invisible explosion, which gently engulfs Hinata-sou and flows through all the residents.

***It is done!***

Time itself frays and twists, reforming reality to suit the purpose of the ancient spirits of the hot springs of Hinata-sou.

Friday Morning

"(I am so happy. Today is the day I fulfill my promise. I've finally made it into Toudai! Everyone is congratulating me and asking me for a date. I gently turn them down, for the one that I promised is awaiting me. We will live happily at Toudai, playing tennis, eating lunch in the park, and then a student wedding! All my friends are here. I hear my voice being called and I turn around. A small, wrinkled old woman tries to kiss me. Oh no! She has a mustache! Get away from me! Get away from me!)"

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

A voice calls from the kitchen.

"Oh, are you finally awake?"

"Yes, mother."

"Why are you still trying to get into Toudai? Some things are just impossible. Couldn't you try for an easier school?"

"I can make it. I'll try a lot harder!"

In the background, the phone rings.

"We can't afford to keep feeding you forever, you know!"

"I'll get a job and move out, okay?"

"You will really do that for us?"

A man's voice calls out.

"Hey, the phone is for you Naru. It's Hina-san from Hinata-sou."

"Why would she be calling me?"

"Well, ask her yourself!"

Narusegawa Naru gets up to answer the phone.

"Hello, this is Naru."

"Hello child, this is Urashima Hina. It's been a long time."

"What can I do for you, Hina-san?"

"Please, call me Granny Hina. Could you come by Hinata-sou today? I have something that I want to talk to you about."

"Okay Granny Hina, I'll be there after school."

"Fine, see you then."

"Goodbye."

Naru replaces the phone.

"(I wonder what she wants?)"

She remembers her dream.

"YUCK!"

Friday Afternoon

Naru, carrying her Liddo-kun, gets off the train and walks towards the old inn.

"(I really don't have the time for this. I need to find a job. Mom and Dad are really going to hold me to my promise to move out when I graduate high school.)"

She crosses a bridge and looks around. A small girl is sitting on a bench crying. Naru looks at her. Suddenly, someone pulls Liddo-kun from her hands. It is a group of old men in robes.

"Hey, that's mine! Give it back!"

They toss the doll around until it accidentally flies over and lands at the small girl's feet. She picks it up and her tears fall even more quickly as she looks at the smile on the stuffed doll.

"That is so cruel!"

Naru, unsure of what to do, turns and runs up the street and around a corner.

"(She must have thought I was making fun of her! Oh no, my Liddo-kun! Maybe I can go back and get it later!"

She looks around.

"(I remember this place.)"

Running up the steps, Hinata-sou appears before her. She enters the front door and removes her shoes. She looks around at what appears to be a common room of some sort. There are a few couches and chairs around a coffee table. Seeing no one around, Naru walks into another room.

"Hello, is anyone here?"

She looks at the dining table in the middle of the room. There is just a small vase with a few flowers on it. She leaves and looks in other rooms. Eventually, she spots a sign half draped over a door.

"[Hot Springs – Women's Bath.]"

"I haven't been in a hot spring in a long time. Maybe I'll just relax until Granny Hina shows up."

As she goes through the door, the sign drops all the way down, revealing the full message.

"[Hot Springs – Women's Bath only on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Men's Bath only on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.]"

She removes her clothes and glasses and places them in a basket. Taking a towel from the shelf, she wraps it around her nude body and heads out the doors. The steam from the water floats gently about the rocks and walls.

"(This is a beautiful hot spring. I wouldn't mind living here!)"

Naru slips into the water, catching her breath as she sinks in past her waist.

"(Mmm, this is wonderful!)"

As she sits next to a large boulder, she closes her eyes and leans her head back, enjoying the feel of the hot water soaking into her body.

Naru hears a light splashing noise moving from behind the boulder. She freezes in shock as a man wades into view, his own towel wrapped around his waist. A pair of glasses dangles from his hand. He squints at her; obviously his vision is as poor as hers.

"Oh, are you new here? Granny Hina didn't mention another guy was moving in."

As he moves closer, his eyes widen as he realizes that this person is not a guy at all, but a rather attractive young women.

"Who are y-y-you and wha-wha-what are you d-d-doing in here!"

Naru gets to her feet, realizing the awkward situation she is in.

"(He must be a resident here! Or maybe he's the custodian! I'd better apologize quickly before I get into trouble!)"

She places her palms together and bows to him.

"I'm very, very sorry!"

As she leans over, she loses her balance and crashes into him. She blushes as her hands rest against his chest.

The man, who is rather shy around females, blushes and turns to run away. His hand accidentally grabs her towel. Naru tries to hold it and follows him helplessly. He starts to scream at her.

"Get away from me!"

"Let go of the towel!"

As she finally pulls away from him, Naru crashes into a large boulder and sinks into the water. She breaks the surface directly under his towel. In a panic, the man spins around and accidentally kicks Naru out of the pool. She tumbles through the door and lands in a large basket, covering herself with assorted female clothes. A woman's voice cries out.

"Hey, what're you doing?"

Naru scrambles out of the room and spots a set of stairs. The woman screams at her.

"Bring back my panties, you thief! Or else pay up!"

Naru dashes up the stairs, chased by the man.

"I won't let you sneak in here and harass my friends!"

Running through the hallways, she temporarily loses her pursuit. She spots another set of stairs and walks down them into the common room. A young, foreign looking girl is sitting on the floor playing with some tanks.

"(I wonder if she will be a little more reasonable.)"

Naru accidentally steps on a tank, crushing it. The girl lifts a remote control and jabs a finger on a button.

"Die, ya giant Hinata-sou attacking monster!"

The rest of the tanks fire pellets at Naru, most of them stinging her breasts through the towel. The girl presses another button and jumps over the couch and dances out the front door. A few moments later, the tanks explode, sending Naru tumbling out the front door

She comes to a rest at the feet of the man and woman. Turning around, she spots the girl preparing another attack.

"What'll we do with her?"

The man crosses his arms and stands over her.

"I won't let anyone barge in here and attack my friends."

The woman, holding onto his arm, looks over his shoulder.

"Maybe we should cut out her tongue and send her straight to hell!"

Naru screams.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"

An older woman walks up the steps and looks at the scene. Recognizing Naru, she speaks.

"Is that you, Naru-san? Where are your clothes?"

Naru rushes to her and wraps her arms around her waist.

"Oh Auntie Haruka! Thank heavens you're here!"

Haruka drives her elbow down on Naru's head.

"I don't like being called that. It's Haruka-san."

The man looks at Haruka.

"What did she mean by Auntie? Is this person related to us?"

"No, Keitaro. She used to play here when she was a child."

Kitsune walks next to Haruka.

"You know this female pervert?"

"Yes, her parents are friends of mine. We keep in touch, though I haven't seen them for about seven years."

Su pokes at Naru with a stick.

"Shucks, I was hoping for some more action!"

Haruka takes Naru in to change and they all meet in the common room.

"WHAT!?"

Everyone yells when Haruka explains that Granny Hina had picked Naru to be the new manager. Haruka explains.

"Naru's a student at Toudai and is really reliable. She made it in this year on her first try."

Naru shakes her head.

"But, Haruka-san"

Haruka slaps the back of her head.

"Why don't you let her stay the night and talk it over?"

Later, Naru is sitting alone in the dining room. She stares at the table and thinks to herself.

"(I can't let it go on like this. I'm not a Toudai student. But I really need a job and a place to stay. What am I to do?)"

"(It really seems that Toudai students are popular, though. And that man is really cute!)"

She smiles as she starts to daydream.

[Keitaro massages Naru's shoulders as she reclines on the couch in the common room.]

["Are you comfortable? Is there anything that I can get for you? You every wish is my command!"]

[Kitsune kneels next to her holding a plate of sukiyaki.]

["Please have some! I saved the best pieces just for you!"]

[Su leans over the back of the couch and holds a bunch of grapes above Naru's mouth.]

["I hope these are sweet enough for ya! I grew them myself just for you!"]

[Kitsune begins to wash Naru's feet and Su moves to paint her nails. Keitaro kneels next to the couch and kisses her right hand.]

["My Princess! I am your humble servant! My lips, my heart, and my soul belong only to you!"]

Naru whispers.

"I'm so glad I made it into Toudai!"

Kitsune slides the door open.

"You're glad about what?"

"Oh, nothing, nothing!"

Kitsune sits next to her.

"You know, we kinda got off on the wrong foot. What'ya say we start fresh?"

"That would be nice, thank you."

Kitsune turns and put a hand to her chin.

"I think we might have trouble with Keitaro, though. He is very protective of everyone here."

"Oh, that, uh, cute guy is Haruka-san's nephew, right."

Kitsune blushes.

"You think he's cute too? You must like the quiet and kind sort of men."

Naru blushes again and looks at the ceiling, lost in thought. After a few seconds, she realizes that there is something in her hand. She holds it up and sees a pair of Kitsune's panties.

"Wha-what are these?"

"Their worth one month's rent. What's the matter? Weren't you listening to me? One month's rent for one pair of my underwear!"

"WHAT!?"

The door slides open and Keitaro enters the room.

"What's going on?"

Kitsune is on her knees; her hands are covering her face.

"She told me that she wants one pair of my underwear every week or she'll through me out of Hinata-sou! She said that I should come by her room every Friday and that it would be fun!"

Keitaro puts his arms around her shoulders and guides her out of the room. As she leaves, Kitsune turns her head and smiles wickedly at Naru. Keitaro pauses at the door and glares at Naru.

"You're a work of scum! You're kind makes me sick, you pervert!"

He slams the door closed. Naru can hear him talking to Kitsune.

"I don't like the idea of letting someone like that being our manager."

"Don't worry; if she gets out of hand we'll just boot her out!"

Friday Evening

Naru is wearing her coat and walking quietly around the buildings that make up the inn complex. She sits on a set of steps and rests her elbows on her knees. A sad look in her eyes, she rests her chin on her hands.

"What are you doing down there?"

Naru turn and sees Haruka, cigarette holder in her mouth, taking down the sign in front of her teashop. A few minutes later, she is sitting inside drinking a cup of hot oolong tea. Haruka leans over a rail.

"I'm sorry. I thought that you already made it into Toudai."

Naru sips her tea.

"I can't stay here and be the manager. It would be like I was lying to get in."

Haruka shakes her head.

"Without a manager, everyone will have to leave. And without the rent money, we'll have to close the inn."

Naru silently stares straight ahead.

"Don't be like a stubborn kid. In the real world, there are good lies and bad lies. They don't need to know that you are still in high school and failed the last Toudai entrance exam."

Outside, Keitaro pauses while taking his nightly walk. He overhears the last part of their conversation.

"(So, she isn't a Toudai student. That freak was just lying to us.)"

Keitaro heads back to his room and looks for the last set of testing results from the prep school. Near the bottom of the list, he spots a name.

Narusegawa Naru.

Naru spends the rest of the evening dusting the floors and cleaning the windows. She then goes outside, and finding some tools in the storage shed, she begins to scrub the hot springs. She sighs.

"(It's better if I leave soon. They don't need someone like me to be the manager.)"

Her fantasy kicks in.

["But if you leave, what will happen to us?']

[She turns and faces Keitaro and holds her head high.]

["I can't it wouldn't be right!]

["But what about me? I can't live without you!"]

["I'm sorry!"]

"Sorry about what?"

Her fantasy abruptly interrupted, Naru spins around. Keitaro stands near the door. He holds out the test results, pointing near the bottom of the list.

"Narusegawa Naru. High school student and failed the last Toudai entrance exam. You ranked number twenty-seven from the bottom! You were lying to us!"

Naru, holding the brush, bows her head to him.

"I'm sorry! I didn't expect this to happen. I just wanted to stay here a little longer!"

Keitaro crosses his arms.

"And you thought we would accept someone like you if you did some work around here?"

"No, I just thought that I owed everyone something before I left."

Keitaro drops his arms.

"Before you leave? You're not serious, are you?"

"Haruka-san said there are such things as good and bad lies. I wanted to believe her at first, but I can't do something like that!"

He raises a hand.

"But, but without a manager, what are we going to do? What are you going to do?"

"I promised my parents that I would get a job after I leave high school. I'll find something to do. Don't worry about me."

Keitaro walks over and places a hand on her shoulder.

"I'm sorry. I didn't realize that things were so tough for you. If there is something that I can do to help, please ask."

Naru looks up into his eyes. His smile causes her heart to tighten in her breast. She reaches up and removes her glasses to wipe a small tear from her eye.

"You're too kind. I'm just a stranger. Why should you want to help me?"

"Granny Hina trusts you. That's good enough for me. Even if you are a stupid high school girl. And you are really kind of cute without your glasses."

Naru head snaps up, but she sees him smiling gently at her. Blushing, she takes a step backwards and slips on the brush. Keitaro grabs her hand and is pulled down on top of her. She sees his smiling, blushing face a few inches from hers. Her heart begins to race.

"(This isn't really happening to me! Guys aren't interested in stupid, four-eyed girls like me! But if this really is a fantasy, then I might as well enjoy it.)"

Naru reaches up and places her hand on Keitaro's chest. She instantly realizes that this is not a fantasy and her eyes go wide. Keitaro's eyes match hers and he tries to move away. As his hand moves to the side, it hits the end of the brush, causing the handle to bounce and smack Naru in the forehead. Kitsune and Su walk out the door.

"What's going on here? Keitaro, are you trying to get some special favors from our new manager?"

Su jumps up and down.

"What flavors? What flavors?"

Keitaro stands up and helps Naru to her feet. Naru lowers her head.

"To tell you the truth . . . . ."

Keitaro interrupts her. She tenses as she hears him start to speak.

"The truth is that I was asking her about Toudai! I've been trying for three years and this is a good chance for me to get some help! You can learn a lot from someone on the inside."

Naru nods her head.

"It's true. I'm not . . . . . huh?"

Naru turns her head and looks at Keitaro. She whispers.

"But lying is . . . . ."

He winks at her and whispers back.

"Bad?"

End of Chapter One.