Disclaimer: Love Hina is the property of Ken Akamatsu, TV Tokyo, and probably enough lawyers to sink an aircraft carrier. This fanfic is for entertainment purposes only, and may not be distributed for profit. I'm not making any money off of this; I am doing it just for personal enjoyment. Please don't sue.
Besides, most of my money is already spoken for by my friendly neighborhood Snap-On tools distributor.
Any comments, complaints, complements, flames, and credit card numbers can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org Feedback and reviews would be greatly appreciated.
This fanfic is based on the manga and anime and borrows facets from both of them.
"*" Spoken words
Loss and Redemption
Prologue: Lifeless Eyes
Those two simple words can have a dramatic effect on a persons life, especially at a wedding. Even more so if one person is reluctant to say them. But when both parties are forced to say those two little innocuous words, the results can be catastrophic.
A small section of Keitaro Urashima's brain was mulling over this fact as he rode the train back to Hinata, but the majority of his thought process was, 'What the hell are we going to do now?'
The 'we' in question was himself; Naru Narusegawa, his friend, study partner, and possible romantic interest. And Motoko Aoyama, his new bride. 'That's Motoko Urashima now, I suppose,' he corrected himself. He turned his head slightly, to take a look at his 'wife' of less than three hours.
To the casual observer, Motoko would have looked like the regal, graceful kendoist she had always been, but to Keitaro the difference from the day before was startling, She was slumped over slightly, not obviously, but for someone who even while relaxing had always carried herself gracefully, a shocking change. But the greatest change was in her eyes. Motoko's eyes had always had a fierce fire burning in them, black marbles with a diamond core. Now they were cold and dead, like a porcelain doll.
Fire belonged in Motoko's eyes, even when it was, usually, directed at him. But the way she was now… Keitaro would have given anything to have Motoko get angry with him again, and take a swipe at him with her sword. He'd be willing to accept more injuries, even another broken leg, to bring back some of Motoko's spirit. But it seemed that there was little chance of her getting excited over anything for the foreseeable future.
Motoko's orderly world had been broadsided twice in a short period of time, by of all people, her beloved older sister Tsuruko. After she had lost to her sister, Motoko had been forced to marry Keitaro as a result, this being the cause of most of the trouble. But to make matters worse, Motoko's sister had stripped her of any rank in the Shinmei School, in affect disowning her from the art she had loved all of her life. The first fate was bad enough, but to force Motoko to give up her greatest love was the on wrong side of cruel.
The marriage had been a quick affair at a small shrine that Tsuruko had produced. 'Where in the HELL did she have that?!' Keitaro wondered, 'I mean Su has always been able to pull electronics out of thin air. Hell, Mutsumi once produced a damn raft, for cryin' out loud, but a shrine?!' A few words had been spoken, some ritual sake had been drunk, and *poof!* instant husband and wife.
'Tsuruko was thorough,' he had to admit, she even had had two rings with the date and initials engraved on the inside edge made up and ready for this occasion. He fingered the gold band idly, thinking 'these are supposed to be bands of love, but to Motoko they would be bands of shame.' While Keitaro had conceded that being married to Motoko wouldn't be a bad thing, he would have never wanted it like this, a forced, loveless coupling. Keitaro had the sinking feeling that even if the marriage wasn't legal in the eyes of he law, Motoko would stick to it out of honor alone.
'And while I'm on the subject of love, what happens now between me and Naru?' Keitaro wondered. 'I think I may love her, but I'm married now for all intents and purposes. Is it fair to either of them to think of Naru like that anymore? And am I supposed to live with Motoko now? What about consummation? She's attractive, sure, but I don't want anyone like this! How could I look at myself in the mirror if I did?'
Keitaro hadn't been able to talk to Naru since the 'wedding', in fact she hadn't spoken to anyone since then. She was riding in a different car, purposely avoiding Keitaro and Motoko. She seemed to be perfectly calm, but her behavior reminded him of the first time that she had failed the Tokyo University entrance exam, and after that, she had had a mini, or more likely, not so mini meltdown. Hinata House's newest couple hadn't spoken much either, as Motoko seemed unwilling to initiate a conversation, and Keitaro was too afraid to. 'Show some nerve man,' Keitaro told himself, 'she's your wife now, talk to her dammit!'
"Are you feeling O.K. Motoko?" Keitaro asked, and then mentally kicked himself. 'Great question dumbass! Of course she's not O.K.!'
Motoko turned to face him, gave a smile that didn't even approach her eyes and said, "Honored Husband, Of course I am O.K. I'm feeling wonderful!"
Keitaro barely stopped himself from shuddering at the sound of her voice. When he was younger, he along with Haitani and Shirai had watched 'The Terminator'. He had always remembered how unemotional and lifeless Arnold Schwarzenegger's voice had been. Well, Motoko's response had made Arnolds' voice seem as lively as Su's in comparison. Even Stephen Hawking's voice was more emotional than Motoko's. And the expression 'Honored Husband'… it had sounded as at home in Motoko's mouth as a Martin Lawrence comedy routine would have been in Shinobu's.
"Motoko, you don't have to call me that, just Keitaro, or even Urashima will be fine."
"Nonsense Honored Husband, since I am no longer a warrior, I will become the perfect wife."
'Uh-oh. I think that she's about to snap! Last time that happened, she tried to cut me in two.' "Motoko, we, we need to sit down and talk about what's happened, and what we need to do about it."
"If you say so Honored Husband. Perhaps after we get back and get settled in together we can talk."
"Yeah, that's good Motoko, we'll do it then," Keitaro replied, more relieved than cared to admit at not having to discuss it right away. He sat back in his chair, and tried to compose his thoughts. Suddenly, something that Motoko had said registered with him. 'Get settled? Does she mean move in together? Oh hell, this is gonna be fun,' he mentally sighed as he contemplated the reactions of his housemates.
"This is gonna be FUN!" shouted Kitsune, giddy at the thought of the homecoming/victory party that was ready to begin, just awaiting the guests of honor.
Su was, as usual, bounding around with Sarah, as Shinobu put the finishing touches on the food while Haruka watched stoically.
'It'll be wonderful to have them all back, especially Urashima-sempai,' Shinobu thought with her usual blush.
"Why does that jerk have to come back?" growled Sarah, Hinata Houses' most outspoken, and obnoxious, resident. "Naru and Motoko are cool, but Keitaro's a loser!"
"Keitaro's great!" replied Su, "just like my big brother!"
"Hmph," grunted Sarah.
"Hey! They're back! All hail the conquering he-" the rest of the cheer would never be vocalized, as Kitsune got a good look at the trio coming up the stairs and froze.
The other residents of Hinata House heard the aborted cry, looked up towards the stairs, and each displayed a common symptom of shock.
The cigarette dropped from Haruka's lips.
Kitsune dropped the bottle of sake.
Shinobu dropped a platter of food.
Su's jaw dropped and she stared.
Sarah took a step back.
There was a palpitable silence, broken only by three sets of footprints.
What had inspired this reaction was Naru, striding, almost stalking, towards them, a glare on her face that would have caused Godzilla to consider a new line of work. She ignored all the questioning glances, and marched inside, slamming the door loudly.
Everyone turned back to see Keitaro struggling up the stairs, being helped by Motoko. They seemed to both be wearing pained expressions that probably had nothing had nothing to do with physical discomfort. "What the hell happened out there?" Kitsune asked.
"I lost," Motoko replied before Keitaro could begin to speak, "and so I was forced to comply with my sisters demands. Allow me to re-introduce myself: I am Motoko Urashima, and this is my Honored Husband Keitaro."
There was a moment of silence.
This turned into a long silence.
Then aural hell broke loose.
"Oh my god! How could you?! Sempai! What the hell are you talking about? Are you serious? What are you going to do?" The cacophony of voices made it impossible for either Keitaro or Motoko to understand anyone.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Wait a minute! Can we at least discuss this inside? My leg is killing me," Keitaro said. "Let me get inside, and I'll tell you the whole story." There was an unspoken consensus reached by the other residents of Hinata House and they all went inside.
All of the women of Hinata House, minus Naru, who had gone into her room and refused to come out, and Motoko, who knew the entire story anyway and had said that she had something to do, listened with rapt attention as Keitaro explained the situation.
"…and then I put the ring on her finger, she put this one on me, we sipped some sake, and that was it," he finished.
"And you just went along with this, you couldn't have said no?" demanded Kitsune.
"The way that Tsuruko was standing there, and the look on her face, I felt that if I refused, I'd be able to play the lead role in "Legend of Sleepy Hollow," replied Keitaro.
"What did Naru-sempai say?" asked Shinobu, who looked to be on the verge of tears.
"Nothing. She just stood and watched. Said nothing, did nothing, just watched," replied Keitaro despondently.
"Alright then, we'll get this sucker annulled. After all, it's not like you two were willing participants in this," declared Kitsune.
"There's no need for that Kitsune," interjected Motoko as she entered the room. "Honored Husband, I have moved my things into your, I mean –our- room."
"What? Why? And it's OK if you call me Keitaro or Urashima, Motoko," Keitaro replied.
"Don't be foolish, Honored Husband. I am a housewife now, I'm not a warrior anymore. Now if you will excuse me, I have dinner to prepare," said Motoko as she walked into the kitchen.
Everyone stared in absolute shock. Kitsune raised a bottle of sake to her lips with a shaking hand, only to have it snatched away by Keitaro.
Who then took a long, long swallow.
"What the hell are you doing?" demanded Kitsune.
"Trying to erase that scene from my memory," coughed Keitaro, his throat burning from the sake, "but I don't think that there's enough alcohol in the world for that."
"Why is Motoko acting like this?" asked Su, who seemed to have recovered remarkably quickly.
"Honor," replied Keitaro without a seconds thought, "a powerful sense of honor."
"Does this mean that you and Motoko will sleep together?" asked Su.
"Yeah, I guess so," replied Keitaro. When all the girls gasped, Keitaro realized his mistake. "I mean no! I mean, we will be in the same room, but that's it." All the girls, especially Shinobu, seemed to relax a little at that. 'I don't want to sleep with Motoko.'
'OK, maybe I wouldn't mind it, but absolutely not under these circumstances.'
There had been times when being the manager of Hinata House had seemed like a blessing, and he wanted to fly out to the cruise ship his grandmother was on and hug her in thanks for giving it to him. There were also times he'd wanted to go out to the ship and toss her overboard. With a couple of steel girders chained to her ankles. This was one of the latter times.
As his new wife came out to announce that dinner was ready, Keitaro had the most ominous feeling that things were going to get extremely ugly extremely fast.
I apologize if this chapter seems to be little short; I was using it mainly to set the scene. The next few chapters will be longer as I will be moving into the main body of the story.
I have a good idea how this story will run, but I'm not completely sure how many chapters I will need for it. If you've made it this far, thanks for reading, and any feedback is welcome.
If you wanna say "This blows!" at least tell me why.