Love Hina – Defeated

Fanfic by Steven Biggs

Chapter Nine – The Final Match

Tuesday Afternoon.

Keitaro closes his eyes as he and Motoko fall over the edge of the roof, awaiting the sharp impact with the ground. An instant later, their fall abruptly slows and they bounce gently in some netting. Keitaro sighs with relief.

"I'd forgotten I put that net up here for repairing the roof tiles! We're saved, Motoko-chan!"

He turns his head to look at the sword master and is instantly sorry he did so. Flaming eyes are frightening enough when you are being chased. However, when seen from a few inches away they are quite terrifying. Keitaro tries to pull himself across the netting.

"EEEEEEEEEE!"

Motoko pushes up to her hands and knees and resumes her pursuit.

"Urashima!"

They both bounce downwards a few inches and freeze. Keitaro turns his head to the side.

"Oh heck! Don't move Motoko-chan. The ropes are starting to come lose!"

Motoko stares at his right leg, which is only a few inches away from her hand. Snarling, she reaches forward and grabs his foot. The motion is more than the strained cords can stand and the two opposite corners fray and slip off their anchor loops.

A few seconds later, the other residents of Hinata-sou exit the inn and stand on the stone steps running between the buildings. Naru looks around.

"They're not here."

Kanako stares at her.

"If they went up on the roof, why are we looking for Oni-chan here?"

Su pulls out a magnifying glass and examines the ground.

"I coulda sworn Keitaro would've landed around here by now! He always runs for the dead-end part of the roof."

Kanako's eyes go wide.

"Aoyama-san would not push him off the roof, would she?"

Kitsune leans against the wall.

"Wouldn't be the first time, ya know."

Shinobu reaches down and lifts a kendo stick.

"Aaauuuuu! They must have been here. This is Motoko-sempai's training stick.

Mutsumi looks up and claps her hands.

"Oh my! That looks like fun. Can I try it too Kei-kun?"

The others look up. A few feet above their heads Motoko and Keitaro hang in the net, trapped like a fisherman's catch. The sword master struggles to untangle her hands, which are wrapped in the webbing.

"This is the final outrage! Release us at once! Urashima is, his face is between my . . ."

Shinobu raises her hands to her mouth.

"Sempai is suffocating!"

Keitaro, his back pressed against the netting, is unable to extricate himself while Motoko's chest presses down on his face.

"Mnmfph!"

Su leaps up on the wall, jumps across, and grabs onto the netting. Pulling out a pair of wire cutters, she starts snipping the strands. Slowly, Motoko and Keitaro sink as the ropes loosen. The other carefully guide them to the ground and start untangling the net. The former manager rolls to the side, gasping for air as the sword master roughly extricates herself. Motoko grabs her kendo stick from Shinobu's hands and points it at Keitaro. He looks up at her with his one eye and shakes his head.

"Enough."

". . . . ."

Keitaro pushes against the wall until he gains his feet.

"If were going to do this, let's get it over with already. Motoko-chan, I challenge you to a duel."

Naru grabs his arm.

"What are you saying, Keitaro? Did you hit your head?"

Kitsune grips his shoulder.

"This is nuts! Ya'll don't stand a chance against Motoko, even if ya'll weren't injured! She'll tear you to shreds!"

Mutsumi claps her hands.

"Oh my! Did Kei-kun ask Motoko-san for a date?"

Shinobu grabs his hands and just looks up at his face.

Motoko places her kendo stick at her side and spins on her heel.

"I accept your challenge, Urashima. You may choose the time and place of our final battle."

Thirty minutes later, Motoko sits in front of the shrine in her room when there is a knock at the door.

"Enter, please."

Shinobu slides the door open and steps into the room. Quietly, she closes the door and walks over to Motoko.

"Motoko-sempai. Please don't fight Sempai. He can't beat you, we all know that."

Motoko, her eyes still closed as incense drifts around her, shakes her head.

"I will face Urashima. My honor demands to be restored."

It is silent for a few moments and she turns and looks at the young cook. Shinobu has her fists clenched and tears run down her cheeks.

"To, to heck with your honor! Aaauuuuu!"

"Shinobu-chan!"

"Wh-what kind of honor says that y-you have to hurt someone that saved your life? Don't you see what you've done?"

Motoko rises and faces Shinobu.

"What I have done? What do you mean, Shinobu-chan?"

"Sempai never would have challenged you to a duel before. He's too kind and gentle! You hurt him and now he's changing!"

Motoko shakes her head.

"Preposterous! He is just finally showing some backbone. A true warrior faces his foes."

Shinobu spins and runs out the door.

"I don't understand! Only an idiot will try something that can't be done!"

"Shinobu-chan!"

Motoko lowers her hand and walks over to the door. She watches the young girl run down the hallway until she turns the corner. Sliding the door closed, she returns and kneels in front of her shrine once more. She clears her thoughts, but Shinobu's final words echo in her mind.

(Only an idiot will try something that can't be done.)

The sword master opens her eyes.

"Urashima is many things, most of which are vile or perverted, but he is not entirely stupid."

She stares at the burning incense, watching the patterns of blue smoke as it drifts in the air.

"Can it be that he truly believes he can defeat me? Impossible! He must be mad!"

She closes her eyes again, but they reopen a moment later.

"But, it is not wise to underestimate an opponent. Even a novice may defeat a master, if the master is not careful."

She reaches over and lifts her sword.

"It may be, that after all this time Urashima has discovered some weakness in my technique that I have overlooked."

Motoko draws the sword and studies the keen edge.

"Even the finest sword has a flaw, weak in one area so that the rest remains perfectly suited to its designed task. The master of the sword knows this flaw and uses the sword in ways that enhance its strengths."

She shakes her head.

"No, it is even more basic than that. The artisan that forges the steel knows the strengths and weakness of the sword's eventual master. He refines the blade so that it is in harmony with the wielder's purpose."

Motoko drops the blade and quickly rises to her feet as she realizes why she lost the kendo tournament.

"I, I had forgotten that I am the master of the sword. I had become the tool, not the wielder."

Kneeling, she reclaims her sword.

"Urashima, you shall not defeat me. By the spirits I swear this."

Tuesday Evening.

As the sun begins to set, Motoko and Keitaro stand ten meters apart near the hot spring. The other girls along with Hikari stand silently by the changing room door next to a pile of first-aid supplies. Everything they said was ignored, as Motoko and Keitaro are steadfast in their determination to finish their duel.

Motoko raises her sword in a salute to Keitaro. The corner of his mouth turns up in a slight smile. The sword master thinks to herself.

("He is indeed confident. I cannot risk using Shinmei-ryu no Zankusen, as he is well accustomed to that attack. Shinmei-ryu no Zanganken is also too familiar. I shall have to use another skill.")

The sword master tosses a small paper fan into the air. It slowly spins and flutters back towards the ground. As the tip touches the rocks, she launches herself towards her opponent. Keitaro, still wearing his cast, moves surprisingly fast towards her.

("Why is Urashima still wearing the cast? I thought that Hikari-sensei was to remove it today.")

Distracted, she barely has time to block as Keitaro clumsily swings at her. Angered by her own mistake, she spins full circle and aims to knock Keitaro's sword from his hands. Her blade passes through empty air.

"What?"

She looks up, expecting a surprise attack from above.

"Where?"

She spins around and raises her sword, expecting to block an attack from behind. There is no one there.

"Urashima! Where are you?"

"I tripped."

Turning around, she spots Keitaro starting to push himself off the ground. Feeling foolish for so overestimating her foe, Motoko snaps.

"URASHIMA!"

Leaping into the air, she swings her sword.

"Shinmei-ryu no Hyakka Ryuran! God's Cry Attack of The Hundred Blossoms Slash!"

Like arrows shot from one hundred bows, the darts of chi rain down on Keitaro, rupturing rocks and sending up a cloud of debris. Motoko lands lightly on her feet and is sent crashing into the ground as Kitsune slams into her. The fox jumps on top of her and grabs Motoko's collar with both fists

"What the heck were ya'll thinking? This was supposed to be a duel, not some demon attack!"

"But, it is Urashima's . . ."

Kitsune pulls her right arm back and slaps Motoko's cheek.

"Keitaro-san aint got your skills! Ya'll was supposed to fight on even terms!"

Kitsune turns as Hikari calls out.

"What kind of attack was that? I have never seen Motoko-san use it before! Keitaro-san is hurt so badly, I, I do not know where to start!"

Su, kneeling next to Keitaro, grabs the doctor's arm.

"He aint breathing! Ya gots to do something!"

Carefully, Hikari turns him over and checks for a pulse.

"Damn!"

She rips his shirt open and begins pressing down on his chest.

"Come on Keitaro, you are stronger than this!"

Tilting his head back, she breathes into him. She continues working as the other girls stand around her. After a minute, she leans back as Keitaro begins to moan. They carry him inside so that the doctor can continue treating his injuries. Motoko look around, retrieves the swords, and takes them back to her room. An hour later, she makes her way back downstairs. As she enters the kitchen, she sees Shinobu preparing some tea and soup.

"How, how is Urashima?"

Without looking up from her preparations, Shinobu answers.

"Sempai is lucky to still be alive after what you did to him. I hope that you honor is happy now."

"Maehara-san . . ."

Shinobu grabs the tray and turns around.

"I'm sorry, I have to get this to . . . why do you have your bags and suitcase?"

Motoko looks down at her belongings.

"Urashima won. I was defeated before we even started. Even though it was to be a duel, I never even considered not using my techniques to win."

A tear starts to form and slides down the young cook's cheek.

"Was, was that the deal Sempai made? That you'd leave us if you lost?"

Motoko shakes her head.

"No. The agreement was that he would leave Hinata forever if I was victorious. And I, I would have to live on the roof for a month if he defeated me."

Shinobu pours a glass of tea and hands it to the sword master.

"Sempai told me that he was sure he'd win. He was the one that suggested having all the bandages ready. I guess he knew that you'd really hurt him. Sempai even asked me to still be your friend regardless what happened."

Motoko sips the tea and nods her head.

"So, that is why you wanted me to cancel the duel. Because Urashima was so sure of the outcome, he, he . . ."

Motoko thinks back and smiles.

"Urashima used me like a sword."

Shinobu tilts her head.

"What do you mean, Motoko-sempai?"

She looks up.

"Oh nothing, nothing at all. May I help bring that to Urashima?"

Shinobu nods her head and smiles. They walk upstairs and enter Keitaro's room. The other girls sit around as Hikari finishes putting a cast on his other leg. Keitaro is covered with bandages from head to toe except for his nose and mouth. Su sits next to his head and talks to him while Naru and Kanako argue over who should stay with him during the night. Mutsumi and Kitsune sit in the corner with a bottle of sake and some watermelon slices. Motoko sets the tray down and stares at Keitaro.

"Why does he have his glasses on? He cannot see through the bandages."

Su looks up and smiles.

"I put them there so that ya can tell it is Keitaro!"

Keitaro lifts a bandaged hand.

"Is that you, Motoko-chan?"

"Yes, Urashima."

"Stupid kendo girl!"

The room goes silent. Motoko smiles and tilts her head.

"How did you know, Urashima?"

Kitsune sets her glass down.

"What, that ya'll is stupid?"

Keitaro waggles his hand for attention.

"You know why you lost, don't you?"

The sword master kneels next to his futon.

"Yes. It is the same reason why I lost at the kendo tournament. You were not to blame after all."

Through the window, there is a flash of lightning followed a few seconds later by a crash of thunder. Su leaps up and looks outside.

"Hokey cows! It's gonna be coming down in buckets tonight! It's a good thing all of us are inside where it's dry and cozy!"

Keitaro smiles.

"Yes, it'd be a shame to have to be outside in weather like this, wouldn't it Motoko-chan?"

She looks at the window and then at Keitaro.

"You are a vile, deceiving male, Urashima."

Hikari finishes cleaning the plaster from her hands and places the towel in the hamper.

"You know, and I am not completely sure about this, but I believe some good has come from your confrontation. While checking Keitaro, it seems that one of Motoko-san's, uh, whatever it was, struck his damaged eye and removed the scar tissue. If I am right, he should regain the use of that eye once more. It will be a few days before we can tell."

Su removes his glasses and draws two happy eyes on his bandages before replacing his eyewear.

"Horray!"

Kanako looks at Keitaro and shudders.

"I don't know about anyone else, but Oni-chan looks spooky like that. It's like those eyes follow us where ever we move."

Mutsumi crawls over and rests her head on his chest.

"Oh my! I don't mind if his eyes follow me. Kei-kun can look at me anytime!"

Shinobu gently pulls Mutsumi away and holds a glass of tea to Keitaro's mouth.

"Will we take turns staying with Sempai until he gets better?

Naru shakes her head.

"We still haven't decided that yet."

Hikari clears her throat.

"Well, seeing that Otohime-san was his nurse, she should be the one to take care of him."

Mutsumi claps her hands and moves to the closet. She opens it and pulls out a plastic wash tray.

"Oh goody! I still have my sponge bath set! It will be so much fun! Don't you agree Kei-kun?"

Su looks down at Keitaro's face and then at Hikari.

"Hey Doc! I think ya missed a spot. We gots a leak here! It's really gushing outta his nose!"

Later that night, after the girls had returned to their own rooms, Motoko sits on the roof holding an umbrella. Pulling Keitaro's spare raincoat so that it also covers her legs, she looks down at the hot spring.

"If I must be wet, it would be nice to at least be warm. However, a deal is a deal."

With her free hand she pulls some tissue from the box under the raincoat and replaces the blood-soaked ones in her nose.

"I just wish that Otohime-san had not mentioned the sponge bath."

The End.