Love Hina – Peril

Fanfic by Steven Biggs

Chapter One – Never Again

Wednesday Afternoon

Naru, a towel wrapped around her body, walks towards the hot spring.

"Ah, there's nothing like a bath in the afternoon!"

She stands next to the hot spring and looks around. The stones are starting to become slimy and there are leaves and other items floating in the water. She turns on her heel and heads back into the changing room.

A few minutes later, she marches upstairs and slides the door to the manager's room open. Keitaro sits at his desk looking through his diaries and sketchbooks. Naru walks over and places her hand on his shoulder.

"Have you looked at the hot spring lately? It is a mess! Why don't you get out of that chair and go clean it up?"

Keitaro continues reading the books and shrugs her hand off.

"Stop bothering me, I'm busy."

Naru grabs the chair and spins him around.

"You'll go right now! You've been really lazy lately and have a lot of work to catch up on."

He calmly stands up and looks at her.

"Clean it yourself. Why should I have to take care of the hot spring if I can never use it?"

Naru clenches her fist and pulls her arm back. The Naru-punch is stopped as Keitaro's left hand grabs hers just in front of his face. He forces her arm down and as she stares at him, he raises his right fist and backhands her.

"Don't ever hit me again."

Naru tumbles across the room and into the hallway. She gets to her knees and touches her face, feeling her nose.

"Y-you broke my nose. K-k-Keitaro! Why?"

Motoko stands at the head of the stairs and watches as Naru crashes into the hallway. Drawing her sword, she rushes into Keitaro's room.

"Urashima! How dare you strike Naru-sempai? You will finally meet the justice of my blade! SHINMEI SCHOOL SECRET ARTS! AIR SPLITTING SWORD!"

Keitaro steps forward to meet Motoko and strikes at her blade, sending it spinning into the air. He grabs the hilt as Motoko stares at him. She is too shocked to move as he spins the sword around and drives the tip of the sword towards her.

The manager steps back as Motoko falls and turns to looks at Naru. Her screams echo throughout Hinata-sou as she watches Keitaro fall to the floor.

Desperate minutes later, the girls wait downstairs while Doctor Hikari frantically tries to save Motoko's life. Shinobu, her hands shaking uncontrollably, hands an ice pack to Kitsune, who places it against Naru's swollen face. Tears in her eyes, Naru stares up at the ceiling.

"What's happening? Why did Keitaro kill Motoko? Why, why, why, why, why, WHY?"

Kitsune presses Naru back down onto the couch.

"She isn't dead, yet. Hikari-san is doing everything she can."

Naru shakes her head.

"There was so much blood! No one could have lost that much and, and . . . . ."

Shinobu covers her ears and backs away from the couch.

"Aaauuuuu! She can't be dead! I don't believe it! Sempai would never hurt one of us!"

Su, sitting on the back of the chair, looks up from a portable monitor which is receiving video from her Mecha-Tama.

"Keitaro is still lying on the floor in his room and the Doc's hooking up another IV in Motoko's arm. That's the third one already. Haruka is shaking him, but he aint responding, and she's in the way so I can't see Motoko very well, but hokey cats it don't look good!"

Kitsune moves over and presses a button on the control, shutting the picture off.

"We don't need a running commentary, Su-chan. Shinobu can you look outside and see what Mutsumi's doing?"

Shinobu moves to the front door and looks out.

"She's still standing at the top of the steps with her hands out like she's pressing against something. Do, do you think that she's going crazy?"

"Tell her to get back in here; we might need all the help we can get when, when Keitaro wakes up."

A minute later, Mutsumi kneels on the floor next to the couch.

"Oh my! That is very strange. There is a wall, but it isn't a wall, at least I can't see it."

Naru looks up at her.

"What are you talking about, Otohime-san?"

"Well, I was going to get some things from Haruka's tea shop, but I can't go down the steps. There is something in the way."

"But, Shinobu said there isn't anything there!"

"That's right. Oh my, this is very strange."

"You already said that, Otohime-san."

Mutsumi shakes her head.

"No, I was talking about your nose. Oh my!"

Kitsune does a double take at Naru.

"Holy spit! Naru, your nose!"

Naru reaches up and gently touches her face.

"It, it doesn't hurt anymore! The bleeding stopped and it doesn't feel swollen!"

She grabs her nose between a thumb and forefinger and pinches it.

"It's not broken! But, how? I could feel the bone scraping when I breathed!"

Su moves over and picks up the icepack.

"Ya was bleeding buckets. How come it stopped all of a sudden?"

A scream from the second floor causes all of the girls to rush upstairs, fearing the worse. They pile through the door of their manager's room and skid to a halt at the sight before them. Motoko is calmly wrapping a towel around her chest and looks up at them. Su catches Shinobu as the youngest resident falls to the floor. Naru reaches a hand out as she stares at the sword master.

"M-m-Motoko-chan! You're alive! Thank goodness Hikari-san!"

Hikari shakes her head as she cleans her hands.

"I cannot explain it. The wound closed without a trace. This is not possible!"

Motoko walks over to Naru and touches her face.

"Naru-sempai, your nose has also healed! What has happened? I would almost believe it was a dream except for that."

Motoko points at the pool of blood and her torn shirt on the floor.

The doctor places a hand on her shoulder.

"Motoko-san please, you should not move around. You were in bad shape. Why you are even conscious is beyond explanation. By all rights, you shouldn't be breathing. There was nothing that I could do to save you. The blade had struck a fatal blow."

"I feel fine, Hikari-san. But I do remember what happened and I am at a loss also to understand it."

Haruka stands and faces the residents.

"If you two have been healed, how come Keitaro is still unconscious? Shouldn't whatever helped you work for him?"

Motoko kneels and retrieves her sword. She keeps a wary eye on Keitaro as she replaces it in its scabbard.

"He should not have been able to avoid my attack, much less counter it. But, perhaps he has learned some kind of technique after all these months."

Kitsune crosses her arms.

"Maybe that has something to do with the wall, or whatever it is, that's around the inn. Maybe when he stopped ya from striking him, the chi went somewhere else?"

Motoko looks at the ceiling for a few seconds before responding.

"I have never heard of such a reaction and it is unlikely that is the cause. I will inspect this wall and see if there is a way to remove it. Or at least allow us to get through."

Naru, keeping her distance, looks over at Keitaro.

"What's wrong with him? He never did anything like this before. He hasn't been acting strangely lately, except that he's neglected some of his work."

Motoko heads to her room to replace her gi. She turns to Haruka as she walks out the door.

"I would appreciate your and Hikari-san's assistance when I inspect this barrier. I shall meet you outside."

Haruka pulls a blanket over Keitaro before standing.

"Okay, we'll be there. Kitsune, you and Su take Shinobu back to her room. Naru, you try the phone again, maybe it will work now."

With a last look back at Keitaro, the girls head out of the managers room. After placing Shinobu in her bed, Su heads up to her lab. Kitsune walks down to her room, pours a glass of sake and whispers.

"This stuff that's happening is really weird. I hope ya'll can come up with something, Motoko."

As she walks to the stairs to see if Naru had any luck with the phone, Kitsune peaks in Keitaro's door. She sees him sitting up and rubbing his head so she enters the room.

"Keitaro-san, I'm glad that you're recovering too. The others are outside trying to figure out what is surrounding Hinata-sou."

Keitaro goes to his desk and retrieves his glasses. After placing them on, he stands and looks out the window.

"They cannot get through the barrier."

Kitsune tilts her head.

"Ya never know. Motoko is pretty strong and knows more about this kinda stuff then the rest of us combined. Why did ya attack her and Naru? That isn't like you at all. Maybe ya can have Motoko check you out when she gets back."

Keitaro turns to her.

"She is most welcome to try anything that she may wish."

Kitsune walks over and stands next to him. He watches her as she moves.

"I'm happy that you're willing to let her help ya out, Keitaro-san. But, how did ya know about that barrier thing?"

Keitaro's left hand reaches out quickly and grabs Kitsune's throat. A grin spreads across his face as he lifts her off her feet.

"Wh-what are ya d-d-doing?"

His other hand reaches up and grabs her shirt.

"This will be worth a whole year's rent!"

"KEITARO!!!"

Naru stands in the doorway holding a vase in her shaking hands. Keitaro calmly turns his head.

"Give me five minutes and then we can share an intimate moment together also. Or would you prefer to join us?"

Naru stands her ground and raises the vase.

"L-let her go, Keitaro! I will hurt you if I have to!"

Keitaro laughs at her.

"Oh please do try. It is so much more fun that way."

The air is tense as the standoff continues. Outside, the others have made a discovery that shocks them to their souls. Motoko is the first to move forward to verify what they have found. Keitaro is standing on the other side of the barrier using anything that he can find to try to break through. He looks at them and then raises a large rock and hurls it through the air. It strikes the unseen wall and bounces off, making no sound whatsoever. Motoko strikes at the barrier with her sword.

"SHINMEI SCHOOL SECRET ARTS! ROCK SPLITTING SWORD!"

Chi swirls around her blade and the vortex tears towards its target. It strikes the barrier, darkening the air as its force vies with the energy of the wall. After a few seconds, the vortex fades, ineffective against whatever supports the shield.

Mutsumi is the first to voice concern at the apparent disparity they face.

"Oh my! How can Urashima-san be over there when we left him inside?"

Haruka looks back towards the inn.

"Oh my god! The other girls! We've got to get back there."

She dashes towards the front door with the rest of the girls close behind. They rush upstairs and into the manager's room. Keitaro stands in the middle of the room holding Kitsune in the air by the neck. A large wound on his forehead drips blood down the side of his face. Naru, cradling her arm, is pushing against the wall trying to regain her feet. Keitaro looks up at them.

"Well, I guess we will be having a party. I am glad the rest of you could join us."

Motoko braces her stance and raises her sword.

"You will not surprise me this time, demon!"

He smiles at her.

"I assure you, I am no demon."

"You are not Urashima! Release Kitsune-san and leave this place!"

"I will leave in my own time, but I will not depart alone. You can be sure of that."

Motoko gathers a quick blast and hurls it towards Keitaro. He blinks as it passes behind him and strikes the far wall.

"You are slipping, Motoko-chan. You missed your target by at least a meter."

The sword master smiles at him.

"Did I?"

Keitaro turns towards the window. Motoko's blast widened it enough for Su's Mecha-Tama to rush in unimpeded. He drops Kitsune and tries to block the rushing automaton. Mecha-Tama smashes into him, carrying him into the hallway and through the opposite wall. It continues until it plows headlong into the barrier surrounding Hinata-sou. A fierce explosion rocks the building and sends the girls to their knees. They stand and rush over to the hole. A pile of burning wreckage marks the spot below the impact point. Kitsune staggers over, holding her throat.

"My god! Ya killed Keitaro! What the heck is going on?"

Motoko, still staring outside, answers her.

"That was not him. The real Urashima is outside the barrier. We saw him trying to break through. I do not know what this manifestation was, but it seems that we have triumphed. Are you seriously injured, Kitsune-san?"

"I'm okay, but Naru took a pretty bad hit when she attack Keitaro, uh, that whatever it was."

Naru rubs her arm.

"I'm sore, but I don't think it's broken. I don't know why we didn't notice sooner that it wasn't Keitaro. Did you see his eyes? They were green!"

Su comes down the stairs, still holding her remote control. She looks through the hole.

"Totally barbequed! That'll teach him to mess with us!"

Motoko places a hand on her shoulder.

"Excellent timing, Su-chan. How did you know we needed your assistance?"

Su points towards the ceiling. A small Mecha-Tama floats in the air with a video camera strapped to its back.

"Ya forget Video-Tama! I turned it on to keep an eye on Keitaro and saw what was happening. I saw the green eyes and knew that wasn't our manager."

Hikari gasps and points outside.

"There is Keitaro-san coming up the steps."

As they watch, Keitaro raises his hands and pushes as he reaches the top step. The barrier is still apparently intact. Haruka adjusts her cigarette holder and shakes her head.

"He's still trapped outside and we're still stuck inside. Why didn't the wall disappear when we got rid of that, thing?"

Shinobu, awakened by the explosion, exits her room and runs towards the others.

"Aaauuuuu! What happened?"

They explain about the doppelganger and how they defeated it. As they finish, Shinobu raises a hand to her mouth and points outside.

"L-l-look at th-that!"

From the pile of smoking rubble Keitaro's double rises. Trailing smoke, it staggers a few feet. Standing upright, it shakes its head and looks up at the girls. And smiles. At the steps, Keitaro freezes for a few seconds and then attacks the barrier like a man possessed. His fists are scraped from pounding at the wall. Green-eyed Keitaro walks over and stands before Keitaro. Reaching through the barrier, it grabs his arm and pulls him through.

"You are more resourceful than I gave you credit for. I did not think that you would escape for at least another week."

As Keitaro struggles and screams, the doppelganger throws him over its shoulder and runs into the nearby woods. Naru's scream shocks the others into motion.

"KEITARO! NO!!!"

End of Chapter One.