Love Hina – New Management

Fanfic by Steven Biggs

Chapter One – Keitaro's Outta Here!

Friday Night

Haruka speaks to her nephew while they sit in the Hinata Tea Shop.

"Keitaro if you make it into Toudai this time, it won't be a lie."

Keitaro silently stares at his tea.

"Don't be like a stubborn kid. In this world there are good lies and bad lies."

Outside, Naru peeks in the door.

"I remember now. It's him!"

She returns to her room.

"That low-life pervert! Trying to fool us into believing that he's a Toudai student! I won't let him get away with this!"

She changes into her sweatshirt and braids her hair behind her head. Placing her glasses on, she picks up the last score sheet from the prep school and heads downstairs to confront Keitaro. She checks the manager's room, but he is not there. She looks in the dining room, kitchen and laundry room without success. Finally, Naru heads outdoors to the hot spring. No one is there. As she looks around, Haruka walks out the door.

"Naru, are you looking for something?"

Naru raises her hand, holding the test results.

"I'm looking for your nephew. I know that he is lying to us and I'm going to give him a piece of my mind! He's still in prep school and scored twenty-seventh from the bottom in the last test!"

Haruka tilts her head and removes her cigarette holder.

"He already left. He felt bad that all of you believed he was a Toudai student and that was the only reason that you would let him stay. I'm sorry for causing this. I didn't realize that he was still trying to get in. It's my fault, really."

Naru lowers her hand.

"But, we need a manager. What will we do without one? What if our parents make us go home?"

"Granny Hina really wanted Keitaro to be the manager. However, she left me another name in case it didn't work out. I'll make a phone call tomorrow and see what I can do. We'll find a manager, don't worry."

Naru removes her glasses and shakes her hair loose.

"Is you nephew going to be okay?"

Haruka shakes her head.

"I don't know. He tries too hard to do what he thinks is right. But, he never considers his own needs first. He really would have made a good manager, but he was ashamed that I accidentally made a liar out of him. The last thing he said before he left was that he was sorry and didn't blame me. He said that he couldn't be the manager after what happened, and that we should find someone else."

"Didn't you explain that we might give him another chance, now that we know that it was an accident?"

"Yes, but he's too proud, sometimes. He did what he thought would be easiest for the rest of us."

Kitsune and Su walk out the door. Su leaps over and pokes at Haruka.

"Did'ya bring something for us to eat? Naru is supposed to cook tonight, and you know what that means!"

Kitsune stands next to Naru.

"Did I hear ya right? Keitaro-san really isn't in Toudai and he left because he didn't want to live with that lie?"

Naru nods.

"I kind of feel sorry for him. It wasn't like he meant to lie to us. But, there's nothing that we can do now. Besides, Haruka-san has another name that Granny Hina left for us to try."

"I guess that's okay, then. Except that I tricked him into groping me for nothing."

Naru stares at her.

"That was your fault?"

Kitsune bows her head.

"Well, if he could be honest about what happened I felt that I had to do the same."

Su sits next to Haruka.

"Nuts, he looked like he would have been fun to play with."

The next day, Haruka contacts the person and arranges for the new manager to arrive on Sunday.

Sunday Afternoon

Haruka enters the common room and introduces the girls to their new manager.

"Everyone, I'd like you to meet your new manager."

They all rise and bow to the person, who returns their greetings.

"I am happy to meet all of you. Oh my! I am so excited! My name is Otohime Mutsumi."

They help the new manager get settled in her room and then show her around Hinata-sou. Strangely, she seem to be somewhat familiar with the inn, even though she says that she has never been there before. After the tour, Mutsumi take some watermelons out of her bag and prepares slices for everyone. The rest of the day passes quietly as they all sit in the common room and get to know each other.

After dinner, Naru heads to her room to finish studying for tomorrow's class. After a few hours, she prepares for bed and turns out the lights.

Monday Morning

Naru, wearing her sweatshirt and glasses again, walks down the hall of the Prep School. As she is about to enter her class, she notices Keitaro standing down the hallway with his backpack over his shoulder. He looks up and sees her watching him. After a few seconds, he lowers his head and ducks into a side hall. Naru pauses, and then follows him. She turns the corner and sees him standing about ten meters away at a dead end. Hearing her footsteps, Keitaro turns around and bows to her.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to cause trouble for any of you. I'm sorry that you all thought that I was lying about being a Toudai student so I could get the job as the manager. And I'm very sorry for, uh, for the other thing that happened."

Naru stops in front of him.

"Haruka-san explained what happened. You didn't have to leave, we would have given you another chance."

Keitaro shakes his head.

"No, it's better that you don't have a guy as your manager. Maybe Haruka-san can find a good lady to take the job."

"Well, she already has."

He smiles.

"I'm really glad. I was worried about all of you and what would happen if you couldn't find a new manager."

Naru chest tightens as she looks at Keitaro. Even after what happened, he is more worried about them than about himself. She whispers quietly.

"Haruka-san was right about you."

"What, I couldn't hear you."

"Oh nothing."

Naru looks at the clock.

"We'd better get to class; we only have a few minutes."

"I'm not, not going to class anymore."

Naru's head snaps back towards him.

"What? Why not?"

"I promised my parents that I would find a job and move out. I did find one job yesterday, but the hours I have to work won't let me go to school anymore. I just came by this morning to pick up some things and de-register."

"What about Toudai?"

"I can still try to study after work, but I'm not smart enough to keep up without my classes. I'll manage somehow."

"Are you sure?"

"Don't worry about me. Just keep doing your best. With your grades, I'm sure you can make it this year. Well, I have to go. My job starts in half an hour. Goodbye, Narusegawa-san."

Keitaro bows to her and walks to the hallway. As he is about to turn the corner, he looks back and smiles at her.

"I am really sorry about what happened."

He walks out of her sight. Naru stands there for a few seconds and then rushes to the hallway and looks for Keitaro, but he has already disappeared through the crowds.

Monday Afternoon

Naru walks up the steps and enters the Hinata Tea Shop. Haruka looks up from the counter as she sits at a table. Pouring two glasses of tea, Haruka sits next to her.

"Naru, what's wrong?"

Naru looks into her tea.

"Why didn't your nephew tell us that he needed this job?"

Haruka sips her tea before answering.

"That was something else he talked about before he left. He really wanted the job as the manager, but he didn't want to be accepted because all of you pitied him. He wanted to prove that he was good enough. But, I guess I messed that up for him by telling you that he was in Toudai when he wasn't."

A tear falls to the table as Naru speaks.

"He left the Prep School today, did you know? Even as he was leaving, he told me to do my best. I feel so awful. He doesn't stand a chance of making it into Toudai without his classes. And it's all because we couldn't show him a little faith."

Naru watches as the twig in her tea sinks to the bottom of the glass.

"And it's too late now. I didn't even get the chance to apologize before he left. I didn't know what to say to him."

Haruka places her hand on Naru's shoulder.

"Keitaro's a fighter. He'll manage, somehow. He'll never give up, especially not on Toudai. He's wanted to make it there ever since he was a kid."

"I wish that we could have done something for him."

"Well, he's going to have his hands full working at the Hinata Delivery Company. So, I don't think that there is much that can be done now."

Naru looks at her.

"Did you say that he is working at the HDC?"

Haruka picks up her glass and walks to the counter.

"Did I? I guess it just slipped out."

Tuesday Afternoon

Keitaro is busy loading a shipment of fresh vegetables for the afternoon delivery. As he pulls the empty cart out of the van, the floor supervisor calls him.

"Urashima, there's someone hear to see you."

"Thanks, I'll be right there."

"Don't work too hard. That's the fourth van you've loaded by yourself today."

Keitaro puts his hand on his head.

"I just want to do a good job."

As he walks into the front lobby, he spots Naru sitting in the foyer reading a magazine. After staring for a few seconds, he walks to the front desk and talks to the receptionist.

"The supervisor said that someone was here to see me."

The women points at Naru.

"That's her over there. She's really cute. Is she your girlfriend?"

"N-no, she's just someone that attends the same prep school that I, used to go to."

He walks over and stands next to the chair.

"Uh, hello. Did you want to talk to me, Narusegawa-san?"

Naru drops the magazine and stands up. Her hands shake and she places them behind her back.

"I'm sorry about your leaving the prep school. I feel a little responsible for what happened."

Keitaro smiles at her.

"It wasn't your fault, and I don't hold anyone from Hinata-sou to blame. Maybe I should have been honest and corrected Haruka-san's mistake, but that's over now. Is there something that I can do for you?"

Naru looks at the floor and thinks to herself.

"(He really is kind. I thought that he would be angry that we didn't give him a chance. It is his grandmother's inn, after all.)"

"I, ah, I thought that, uh, if you would like, that is, if you don't mind, you could come over after work and we could study together. The new manager is trying for Toudai too. We could make our own study group."

Keitaro is silent until Naru raises her head and looks at him.

"You're very kind to offer to help me. But, I don't want to be a bother to you Narusegawa-san. We didn't meet each other under the best circumstances and I know that you don't think very well of me now."

Naru looks at him, and she understands what his words mean.

"(Keitaro is honestly ashamed about what happened. I can see that he feels bad, even though it really was an accident. He wants to be forgiven, but is too shy to ask. For some reason, that seems so sweet.)"

She bows to him.

"Please forgive us for not giving you the chance to explain what happened. I know that it was just an accident now. Even Kitsune told us what really happened when she talked to you. We were wrong to treat you the way we did. I know this doesn't make up for your losing the manager's job, but I really would like to help you continue trying for Toudai. Please, will you join us Keitaro-san?"

"I would be a cad if I refused you now. Thank you Narusegawa-san."

"That's good. Can you come by after work today, say about five?"

"Five o'clock would be fine."

Naru smiles and sighs.

"Well, I have to go. I need to shop for the groceries before I go back to Hinata-sou. See you later, Keitaro-san."

He walks with Naru and opens the door for her.

"Thank you again. See you soon."

As Keitaro walks past the desk, the woman behind it smiles at him.

"Looks kind of like a girlfriend to me."

Keitaro blushes and continues back to finish his work.

Monday Afternoon

Keitaro walks up the steps to Hinata-sou. As he reaches the top, he stops and looks around. Suddenly, he hears women screaming and he can see Naru pressed against a window on the third floor. He breaks into a run and heads for the front door. Throwing it open, he rushes inside and instantly collides with someone running out the door and falls backwards. He rubs his head and looks at whom he hit. A young woman is lying on the floor in front of him. Moving next to her, he checks to see if she was injured.

"I'm sorry! Miss, are you okay? Did I hurt you?"

The woman lies there, motionless, with her blank eyes staring up at the ceiling. He gently shakes her.

"Miss, are you hurt?"

He leans over, listens for her breathing, and then checks her pulse. Feeling nothing, he moves back a few feet.

"Oh my god! I can't feel a pulse! I've, I've . . . . ."

Suddenly, Keitaro notices a creature on the woman's head. It stares at him with an unreadable expression.

"It's th-th-the Turtle God! Oh no, oh no! I didn't m-m-mean to, uh, it w-w-was an accident, ah, I w-was just . . . . ."

The creature lifts up a flipper.

"Mew!"

"Huh?"

The woman sits up.

"Otohime Mutsumi, manager of Hinata-sou. Otohime Mutsumi, manager of Hinata-sou. Otohime Mutsumi, manager . . . . ."

Another scream pierces the air. Keitaro scrambles up and runs to the third floor. Mutsumi places a hand against her head and smiles.

"Oh my! What was I running from again?"

Keitaro springs from the top step and turns up the hallway. Naru is still against the window, pointing towards the open door of her room. Kitsune is there also, kneeling on the floor with her arms wrapped around Naru's legs. As he runs to them, he calls out.

"Narusegawa-san! Kitsune-san! Are you all right? What's wrong?"

Naru, dragging Kitsune behind her, moves towards him. She wraps her arms around him and buries her face against his shoulder as Kitsune transfers her grasp to his legs.

"It's horrible! Ya'll gotta help us Keitaro-san!"

Turning his head, Keitaro looks inside the door.

"What is it? I can't see anything."

Naru, her eyes squeezed tightly closed, shivers in his arms.

"On, th-th-the kotatsu t-t-table!"

Keitaro looks at the table. There is a mouse sitting on it nibbling one of Naru's rice cakes. He smiles.

"It's only a little mouse. There's nothing to be afraid of."

Naru screams against his chest.

"Save us! Kill that, that beast!"

Near his knees, Kitsune whimpers.

"Sake, sake. I want my sake."

Keitaro gently extricates himself and walks through the door. Naru and Kitsune hug each other and drop to their knees. Naru whispers to him.

"Keitaro, be careful."

He looks briefly at her.

"It's okay."

As he nears the table, Kitsune calls out.

"Keitaro-san, don't do it! I heard that they can tear ya'll apart if ya corner them!"

He kneels next to the table.

"Hello little fella. You're just hungry, aren't you?"

The mouse, having finished the rice cake, looks up at him and squeaks.

Keitaro reaches into the bag, pulls out another rice cake, and holds it towards the mouse.

"It isn't nice to scare the girls like that. If I give you this, will you go outside?"

The mouse sniffs at him and perks up its ears.

"Here you go. Now go on, and don't sneak into this room again."

The mouse grabs the rice cake in its teeth, scurries out the window, and climbs down the wall. Naru and Kitsune rush into the room and throw themselves against Keitaro, crushing him to the floor. His glasses fly off and slide under the table. Kitsune rubs her cheek against his shoulder.

"Ya'll saved us! My hero!"

Naru, her face a few inches above his, looks into Keitaro's eyes.

"Thank goodness you came in time. I didn't know what to do."

He looks up at her and smiles.

"It's gone now, you can relax. And, uh, could you get off me?"

"You know, you're kind of cute without your glasses."

Naru's heart begins to pound in her chest. Without thinking, she lowers her lips towards his. Just before they meet, someone pushes her aside.

"Oh my! You were wonderful! I've never seen such bravery! And you do have a darling face!"

Mutsumi places her right hand against his cheek and kisses Keitaro. His eyes glaze over before closing. As she pulls away from him, Naru pulls Keitaro to his feet.

"You, you louse!"

A Naru-Punch sends him sailing out the window. He bounces off the wall and falls into the hot spring, sinking to the bottom of the pool. Mutsumi tilts her head and looks at Naru.

"Oh my! Is he your boyfriend?"

Naru blushes as she turns to her.

"N-no, he used to go the same prep school, but I just met him last week."

Mutsumi claps her hands.

"Oh good, maybe he will be my boyfriend then!"

Mutsumi heads out of the room and down to the hot spring. Naru and Kitsune follow close behind.

Su, sitting near the back door and holding her pet mouse, watches Keitaro plummet into the water. She leaps in and drags him back to the edge of the pool.

"Hey, are ya drowned? Don't worry, I know CPA!"

Su leans over him and pushes her hands onto his stomach. No water spurts from Keitaro, so Su moves to give him a breath. As her mouth covers his, Keitaro slowly opens his eyes. He sees Su, her lips still locked to his with her eyelids barely opened. She blushes as she pulls back from him.

"Hi'ya! Are you feeling better now? Did ya come to play with me?"

Keitaro sits up and looks at her as the other girls walk out the door.

"I'm fine. Why did Narusegawa-san knock me out here Koala-san?"

Su tilts her head and puts her hands on her hips.

"What'cha thinks I am, a psychedelic, tree climbing teddy bear? The name's Kaolla Su!"

Naru kneels next to him.

"I'm sorry. I just can't help being a little physical sometimes."

Kitsune hands a glass of sake to Keitaro.

"A little physical huh? That's like saying a train is just a couple of boxes on a string!"

As they help Keitaro to his feet, a soft voice comes from the door.

"Excuse me. I want to return this sketchbook, but I don't know where the owner lives. Aaauuuuu!"

They look over and see a timid young girl standing by the door. Mutsumi walks over to her.

"I am the manager, Otohime Mutsumi, can I help you?"

"I'm Maehara Shinobu. I'm looking for . . . . ."

Shinobu points at Keitaro.

"Him."

Kitsune elbows Keitaro in the ribs.

"You dirty dog! Ya'll didn't tell us you had a girl already!"

"What? I never saw her before. She's, oh it's you!"

End of Chapter One.