Love Hina – Separation

Fanfic by Steven Biggs

Chapter One – The Work Never Ends

Friday Evening.

Keitaro pauses while cleaning the hot spring and rubs his back.

"I've been working all day and I still have to help Shinobu make dinner and clean the third floor. I'll never catch up with my chores at this rate."

He takes off his sandals and slips his feet into the water, pulling his coat tighter to keep himself warm.

"Ah, that feels good. I'll just relax for a bit. Maybe I can manage if I take a few breaks instead of trying to finish it all in one go."

Naru opens her window and looks outside.

"I knew that lazy idiot would be goofing off. We never had a problem doing all the chores before he came."

She slides the window closed and prepares to go outside and kick Keitaro back into motion. At the same time, Motoko gazes at the hot spring from her own room.

"I suspected that he would be neglecting his duties. Things were more efficient before Urashima became our manager."

Grabbing her sword, she makes her way into the hallway and nods at Naru as she joins her.

"I assume that you witnessed Urashima's disdain for honest work also?"

Naru nods her head in agreement.

"I swear things are getting worse everyday. He didn't even finish cleaning and fixing the boiler room yesterday. We'll freeze if it snows tonight."

On the roof, Su sadly watches Keitaro, knowing that in a few seconds he will be sent flying again. He hasn't had the time to play with her lately because he goes right to sleep after finishing his work. She sighs and whispers.

"Keitaro, you working too hard. We all shared the cleaning, cooking, and stuff before ya came. But, you try to do it all. Ya can't even play anymore! If only ya had more energy."

A switch closes in her brilliant mind, and a plan quickly begins to take shape. A smile spreads across her lips and she leaps to her feet.

"That's it! I'll help make ya stronger! Then ya will have lots of time to play with me!"

She pauses just long enough to watch as he sails over the hot spring and tumbles towards the abandoned part of the inn. A tear falls from her eye as she leaps down to her floor.

As Naru and Motoko turn to re-enter the inn, they notice the door to the boiler room is slightly open. Naru walks over and looks inside.

"Its cleaned, and I can feel it working from here. Motoko-chan, did you see him working in here today?"

"No Naru-sempai. He has been doing other chores since I awakened this morning."

"Did you wake up at your usual time?"

"Yes, I began training at four o'clock."

Naru thinks for a moment.

"You know, I don't remember hearing him go to his room last night."

"Naru-sempai, I just realized that he is wearing the same clothes he had on yesterday. You do not suppose that he. . ."

Naru finishes her thought.

"He's been working non-stop since yesterday. Motoko-chan, is there really that much to do here? I never really thought about it before because we all shared the work."

Motoko looks up at the sky.

"I never gave it a thought because Urashima does not complain. He is doing the work that five of us used to do."

Naru shakes her head.

"We made it tough on him on purpose after he came. But, we never stopped piling more work on Keitaro. He must be close to exhaustion by now."

"I thought it strange that he made no attempt to protect himself when we struck. It is highly probable that he no longer has the strength to spare for defense. Naru-sempai! I fear for him! What if his body has reached its limit?"

Without a word, Naru sprints around the hot spring and heads for the old buildings. Motoko follows close behind.

Keitaro grabs a wooden beam and pulls himself to his feet.

"I knew that I shouldn't have taken that break, I just knew it."

He turns and looks at the hole in the wall behind him.

"Now I'm going to have to fix that too. I was hoping to get a little studying done before bed. I'll never make it into Toudai if this keeps up."

He pulls a notepad from his pocket and makes a quick note estimating how much wood he will need to patch the hole. He pockets the pad and heads back to the hot spring, taking the most direct route and crawling over the bamboo fence. He finds his sandals and brush and continues cleaning.

Motoko calls to Naru, pointing at the hole in the wall.

"Urashima must have landed here, but I can not find him."

"Is he inside?"

"No, I already looked. How could he have managed to move after that attack?"

"Let's check the bushes. Maybe he crawled behind one to hide from us."

As they search, Motoko notices footprints in the soft grass heading directly back to the hot spring. They follow them and peek over the bamboo wall. Keitaro is pushing the brush along the rocks as if nothing had happened. Naru flips over the wall and launches a kick into his back.

"Why did you make us worry like that? You stupid pervert!"

Keitaro skids into the wall, landing upside down with his glasses hanging from one ear. Naru and Motoko cross their arms and storm into the inn. Keitaro sits up and replaces his glasses.

"What did I do this time?"

He stands up and walks over to his brush. He leans down to grab it and continues leaning until he is lying flat on the stones. As Naru and Motoko exit the changing room, they sheepishly look at each other.

"He probably got right up and started working again, didn't he?"

Motoko nods her head.

"And without a word of complaint, I am sure. Shall we tell him to stop for the day and come to dinner?"

"Yes, if he wants, I'll even help him study tonight too."

Shinobu walks out of the dining room and heads straight back to the hot spring. Naru smiles.

"She seems to always be one step ahead of us when it comes to things like this."

Motoko smiles fondly at the young cook.

"Indeed. She never has an unkind word for Urashima, even when he falls and disrobes her."

"AAAAAIIIIIEEEEE!!!"

Shinobu's scream rattles the entire inn. Naru and Motoko rush outside, nearly breaking the door down. They spot Keitaro lying on the ground, motionless except for one arm that is still trying to push the brush. A few seconds later, Kitsune pokes her head out the door.

"What happened? Did Keitaro-san strip Shinobu again?"

Her eyes open wide as she takes in the scene.

"Holy spit! Isn't he finished cleaning up out here yet? I wanna take a bath after dinner."

She places her hands behind her head and saunters back inside to finish stacking sake glasses.

Shinobu leans over Keitaro.

"Naru-sempai! He's trying to say something!"

They lean close and turn Keitaro over. Shinobu carefully lifts his head and he opens his eyes.

"This is the way we scrub the rocks, scrub the rocks, scrub the rocks. . ."

Shinobu drops his head to the ground and lifts her hands to her mouth.

"Aaauuuuu! What's he saying?"

Motoko steps backwards.

"Naru-sempai, what is wrong with him?"

Naru gently lifts Keitaro's head.

"He's been working so hard, and we've kept pushing him. I think Keitaro is stuck in cleaning mode!"

Naru gently slaps his cheek.

"Keitaro, snap out of it."

"This little piggy needs to go to market for groceries. . ."

She slaps him with more force.

"Keitaro, can you hear me?"

"Na-narusegawa, help. . ."

Motoko moves to a small cabinet and opens the door.

"I shall get a cloth for him."

She pulls out a towel. Feeling something inside, she unfolds it.

"Mew!"

"TURTLE!"

Motoko pulls out her sword and starts swinging wildly as Tama-chan flies around her.

"TURTLE! TURTLE! TURTLE!"

"Mew, mew, mew!"

Naru and Shinobu carry Keitaro to his room and gently place him on his futon.

"Shinobu-chan, please bring him some dinner."

"Yes, I will, right away!"

After a few minutes, Motoko enters the room. Naru turns to look at her.

"Are you okay, Motoko-chan?"

"I swear that, one day, I shall vanquish that elusive, defiantly audacious, insolent, high roller of a turtle!"

"How many times did she chase you around Hinata-sou this time?"

"I circled the inn three times before losing that, that, carapace covered demon."

"If Keitaro was okay, he would have caught her for you."

Motoko kneels next to him.

"That is true. Urashima has been my savior on many occasions. Has he spoken since you brought him up here?"

Naru shakes her head.

"He fell asleep while we were carrying him. He needs to eat, but I'm afraid to disturb him. He desperately needs to rest."

Motoko holds a hand above his chest and concentrates for a few moments.

"He is indeed weak. It is amazing that he maintained this level of exertion for so long. I am shamed knowing that I assisted in pushing him beyond his limits."

Naru carefully covers Keitaro with a blanket.

"We'll leave some dinner here for him so he can eat as soon as he wakes up. I'll check on him before I go to sleep, but rest will be the best thing for him now."

After Shinobu brings the tray up, they leave Keitaro and return downstairs. Su jumps in the window and kneels down by his futon.

"I've gotta say that I've outdoned myself! This'll fix ya up and give ya more pep! Meet Mister Get-Up-N-Go-Human-Overload, the next word in at-home workouts!"

She takes a headset and places it on Keitaro, then clips wires to his hands and feet. After taping the last wire to his chest, she sits back and adjusts the knobs on her device.

"This'll give ya's twice as much energy as before."

Su looks at him for a few moments and then turns the dials all the way to maximum.

"What the heck! Let's go for broke! Full power!"

She presses a button and shields her eyes. There is just a dim glow from the machine and she looks at it.

"Hmph! Not as much flash as I thought there'd be."

Flipping a lever, she tries again. The room is bathed in a bright blue light.

"Now you're smoking'! Ya'll be a new man whens ya wake up tomorrow!"

Su switches Mister GUNG-HO off and disconnects Keitaro. She leans over and briefly kisses his cheek before leaping for the window. Keitaro rolls onto his side and sighs, sleeping soundly.

Saturday Morning.

Keitaro stretches his arms and then rubs his eyes. He rolls out of his futon, walks to the desk as he scratches his head, and yawns.

"I feel great. That was the best sleep I've had in weeks."

He turns to the closet to get his robe and bumps into someone. He adjusts his glasses as he takes a step backwards.

"Oh, excuse me Keitaro."

"That's alright Keitaro."

From the futon, another voice groggily speaks.

"Can you keep it down? I'm still trying to sleep."

They turn as one and answer.

"Sorry, Keitaro."

The bottom of the futon flips up and another person pokes his head out.

"Are you talking to me, Keitaro?"

Another person, curled up in the corner, speaks.

"No Keitaro, they were talking to Keitaro."

Under the window, yet another person speaks.

"Hey, Keitaro, you forgot to close the window again last night. Do I want myself to freeze to death?"

Keitaro moves to close the window.

"Thanks Keitaro."

"Your welcome, Keitaro."

Keitaro freezes as the window closes. He slowly turns around and looks at the room. Five other Keitaros are doing the same. They all look at one another for a few seconds.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!"

The sound of six Keitaros screaming instantly wakes every resident in Hinata-sou. All of the girls rush towards his room. Naru slides Liddo-kun out of the way and drops through the hole. As she rises, she looks at Keitaro.

"Keitaro, what's wrong? Are you all right?"

Keitaro just points to her left, then to her right, then behind her, then to the left, and once more to the right. She turns in a full circle and then faints. The other girls reach his door and Motoko quickly slides it open and steps inside.

"Urashima! What is . . . oh my spirits!"

Kitsune rubs her eyes, turns around and slaps her head then looks again.

"Wha-wha-wha-what happened?"

Shinobu whimpers.

"How come there are six Sempais? Aaauuuuu!"

Su pushes her way through and looks around.

"Uh-oh! I knew I shouldn't have used copier fluid in Mister GUNG-HO!"

She crouches down and tries to sneak back into the hallway. Motoko grabs her collar and drags her back.

"Su, I should have guessed that you had a hand in this! What have you done to Urashima?"

"Ha-ha, I was just helping him get his energy back. I guess I used a little too much juice!"

End of Chapter One.