I don't own Love Hina. Love Hina belongs to Ken Akamatsu. The story though is a pigment of my weird imagination. I apologize in advance for all spelling and grammar mistakes.
The U Project: Identity
'They say home is where the heart is, I say, when you die, the first place you'll ever see is the last place you wanted to be,'
'I aim with my eyes, I shoot with my finger and I kill with my heart,'
There was a storm at sea. It came out of nowhere. Minutes before, it was calm and quiet then the tide suddenly turned ferocious, murderous.
A few miles away from Japanese coastline, a commercial ship leers from one side to the other as wave after sea wave smash into its rising and falling hull. The sea is hungry for its prey, the liner with its precious cargo, thrashing like a drowning giant elephant, refused to give in.
At a beach, south of the closest island, a handful of shadows emerged from the violent crashing sea waves. The heavy relentless rain made it impossible for anyone to see, as they hurtle to the stony and sandy shoreline. Many were injured, wounded; the fatal anger of the sea apparent, the weather has defeated them all.
"FUCK NUMBER 8!" A figure rose, checking for other survivors, "WHO THE HECK ORDERED THE FUCKING CALL OFF?"
The thunderous noise of the storm made it hard for anyone to understand what the other is saying. Their communication headgears have all been ripped off from their protective swimsuits. The operation has been called off too soon because of the imminent disaster caused by unpredictable weather. They were lucky to make it out alive.
Group of nine huddled close to each other. Excruciating pain eats through them as freezing air seeped through their thermal suits.
"WE NEED TO GET INTO A WARMER SPOT, THE RESCUE TEAM WON'T BE HERE FOR A WHILE," one answered, shaking helplessly as he activated his GPS.
"EVERYBODY HERE MA'AM! I THINK NUMBER 3 AND 4 HAVE BROKEN LEGS AND ARMS,"
"WE NEED MEDICAL ATTENTION HERE NUMBER 10,"
"ALL OF YOU STAY CLOSER, I RECOMMEND THAT WE HAVE ONE MEMBER SEARCH FOR A WARMER AREA,"
"WE CAN'T RISK ANYBODY SEEING US!"
"THE TEAM LEADER CALLED IT OFF MA'AM!"
"WHERE THE FUCK IS THE TEAM LEADER?"
Nobody answered. They were together when the command was issued. And after a few seconds they all understood what had happened, they were all stunned. Instinctively, they turned towards the sea.
There was a tremendous explosion. Red fire suddenly erupted beneath the water line and then quickly rose, pushed high into the air. Black smoke emerged as it fought its way towards the blacker sky. Then the noise was quickly muffled by the crashing waves. The red light that can be seen from miles away suddenly disappeared. The sea finally catching its prey left nothing. It was over before it even started.
"He did it,"
"Sorry guys and gals! Y'all have to leave now!" Mitsune Konno, a.k.a. Kitsune, proprietor of the well known Hinata Nite Life Club, a tea house turned night bar often visited by patrons all over Japan for its wide collection of alcoholic drinks, said with a smile over general jeers and complains. The club is famous for its friendly atmosphere, soft lighting and romantic ambiance attracting mostly women, which in turn draw men. Even though the club is usually busy on a Friday night like tonight, Kitsune broke the sad news to all Die-Hard-Friday-Night-Party goers and close up early. She even refused to serve any strong drinks.
Kitsune watched men and women leave, standing by the doorway apologizing now and then with a slight bow and a flawless smile. Everybody was having a good time and so she never really received any serious problem but mild curiosity: "Why close up early Kitsune–san? Do you have a date or something?" "Oooooh! Tell me everything tomorrow, okay!" "Who's the lucky guy Kitsune-san?" "Please, don't tell me its Harry! I'm gonna kill that guy!" "Hei Kitsune! I expect you to open up early tomorrow alright! Nick and I have a drinking contest to finish!"
Kitsune just smiled at them as they pass by.
"Are you sure you're gonna be okay?" It was Harry, one of Kitsune's faithful patrons, as he prepares himself to leave, the last in the line.
"Well, you seem a bit distant tonight, you know," Harry was the closest friend Kitsune had, "Okay! I'm off! You take care alright! See yah tomorrow!" and with a wave he left.
Kitsune stood by the door as Harry's motorbike roared into life then sped out of view. She waited for a few moments then walked towards the empty bar, took out a glass, reached out for her private bottle then filled it with high-quality sake. It feels lonely, Kitsune thought, staring at the glass, it's been a long time, if you can see me now, you would have been proud…
"So you're finally leaving us, huh?" Kitsune was beside herself that fateful day. And sake did nothing to help her ease the pain. It only infuriated her more. "Was it Naru? Has she said something stupid to you again? I mean, for crying out loud, can't you just get your head out of your ass for at least a little while!"
"FUCK! Are you even listening to me! What are we going to do now without you here? I've done all I could to get you and Naru together; for heaven's sake can't you two just get along?"
Keitaro continued to ignore her as he finished tying his shoes; rose then proceeded towards the door.
"YOU'RE A WIMP KEITARO! For the first time in your life have a backbone and stand up on your own! Stop running away!"
Keitaro stopped, turned, and faced Kitsune's rage. His demeanor calm, his eyes kind, a smile etched on his lips, as he walked towards Kitsune. He raised a hand, touched her face.
Kitsune felt repulsed and disgusted by his lack of emotions. She was on the edge. She was ready to knock the living lights out of him until he finally understood how she feels, how all of these is affecting her. For the first time in her life, she felt attached to somebody and she doesn't want to let go. She might have hidden it but it all came pouring out of her like a tidal wave. Please stay Keitaro.
"You're kind Kitsune. I always admired your strength. Naru and I may have some problems but my decision is not based on that. I always wanted to be someone you can be proud of,"
Kitsune froze. Please don't say that! "SHUT UP!"
"I reckon that one day, you'll be able to establish your own, I guess, you can do even more than Haruka-san has!"
It's too much! "SHUT UP!"
"You will find your way Kitsune. You always have. That and because I believe in you,"
Kitsune turned and ran, crying, defeated. That was the last time she saw him.
Sigh. If only I have said what I always wanted to say, at least I wouldn't be wandering how it would have turned out. It's been awfully long time Keitaro. I never thought I'd miss you this much.
Kitsune looked around, smiled, pride in her heart. It has been almost two years now since Haruka officially handed her the run down teahouse; her marriage with Seta has forced her to leave and stay by his side as he travel around the world in search of rare artifacts. At first, Kitsune thought it impossible to bring the place back up again, as everyday it looses customers, loosing income, making it hard to manage and survive. But somehow Kitsune found her true calling. Weeks after, she left Hinata Apartments and resided at the teahouse permanently. She advertised, used her guile and skills, renovated little by little and in a few months, Hinata teahouse became Hinata Nite Life Club with growing clientele.
For some it may have been a feat, but Kitsune thought otherwise. It has been his wish. I've wandered around for years before I found my way, walking around with a wound that nobody can heal. I owe it all to you.
Kitsune smiled. "You're a bit early today, Naru,"
"It's nice to see you too, Kitsune," Naru Narusegawa, Tokyo University professor and instructor of several Tokyo prep schools, "Would you mind if I join you?" sat comfortably beside her best friend and dropped a large traveling bag by the side.
Kitsune reached under the bar, produced another clear glass and filled it with sake. "So, class finished early tonight?"
"Not really," taking a sip, she waved her long brown hair, "I'm supposed to have two units at Tokyo prep school tonight, but I gave it to Mervin,"
"Mervin? Isn't that the guy you dated before?"
"Kitsune! We only had a dinner! And besides, I never enjoyed that kind of stuff you know!"
Kitsune stifled a laugh. No matter how long, she'll never admit it. You really do have a heart of stone my dear friend.
"It was really horrible last night, I thought I won't have enough clothes to bring with me,"
"Yeah! I was drying my clothes when that storm came out of nowhere," Naru paused then raised her head, looking out the window, watching the clear cloudless night sky, "I wonder how Shinobu is doing,"
"She's alright. I visit her every now and then, she manage just fine, she'll be graduating soon too,"
"Well, Shinobu told me that Su calls her every once in a while, I think she'll be arriving tomorrow morning,"
"I see," Naru stretched her arms, "I guess I deserve this break, one whole week at the Hinata Apartments,"
"Yeah, just like old times,"
Naru paused, suddenly felt the sadness, air became colder, whispered, "Yeah, just like old times," her eyes downcast.
"Everybody seems to be here," A voice from the door.
"Ara! Ara! It's nice to see all of you here again!"
"Mutsumi! Motoko!" Naru beamed.
Motoko Aoyoma, recent Tokyo University law graduate, instructor of Aoyoma Shinmeryuu School approached them with a genuine smile carrying her usual training bag. Beside her is Mutsumi Otohime, Psychologist and Tokyo University marine biology undergraduate carrying what seems to be a sack of watermelons. A turtle flew pass them and settled on Naru's shoulder and gave a singular "Myu!" raising a flipper.
Naru smiled, "Nice to see you too Tama-Tama,"
"I guess we can move on then, I can't wait to see Shinobu-chan again, we can continue this party at the Hinata Apartments," Motoko said, her conduct gentle, womanly yet firm and confident.
"You guys go ahead, I'll close up the bar and bring some clothes," Kitsune waved as she ran inside the bar.
"Ara! Ara! I'm so excited! We haven't had this kind of reunion for a year!"
"Don't be silly. That's because we do this annually!"
"Ara! Ara! Then what party was I last week?"
"Mutsumi! You've been gate crashing again are you?"
"Ara! Ara! We're off to the Hinata Apartments!"
Shinobu Maehara, Tokyo University student and manager of the Hinata Apartments, gave the finishing touch to her grand feast especially cooked and delicately prepared just for tonight. For her this is the best time of the year, to see everybody again. But somehow, she always feel that needle pain in her heart, everybody turns up except for the one person she's been longing to see all these years.
Naru was the first to leave the Hinata Apartments. A year after Keitaro's departure, everybody became miserable and lonely. Without a note or a single call, Keitaro's absence gnawed into everyone's lives. It ate through them and they lost hope of ever seeing him again. Keitaro's parents weren't any help and Seta could not give any indication of his whereabouts. Haruka, although apprehensive, became more and more irritable. In their minds, Keitaro has finally left them for good. Motoko couldn't concentrate and so followed suit Naru, after passing the Tokyo University entrance exams. Su lost her mood and flew back to her own country to be with her older brother and sister, leaving Shinobu and Kitsune to take care of the Hinata Apartments. Then after several years, Kitsune too left and moved to her new home, the Hinata Teahouse.
Shinobu was adamant on staying and managing the Hinata Apartments, her personal vindication, she believes with all her heart that her sempai, Keitaro, will return and that she would be there to greet him. And through the hard years of loneliness, Shinobu drew comfort from that hope.
Hinata Apartments becomes an inn whenever a Tokyo University entrance examination is being held, helping examiners from far away provinces. The hot springs is open to the public during the summer days. With these changes, Shinobu managed and survived. Kitsune often visits her and sometimes pops in during the cold lonely nights. Su calls every once in a while, asking the same question, "Is he back?" After Haruka and Seta's nuptial, they, along with Sara would visit Shinobu and stay for a week to lend a hand on several repairs and maintenance issues. Shinobu's mother visits at least once a month and her father shows up now and then. And once a year all of the original tenants return to spend a week at the Hinata Apartments. A reunion like no other, like the one they will have tonight.
Shinobu preserved Keitaro's room. It's exactly how he left it. And at some nights she would find herself standing at the door hoping with all her heart that he would be there. But most of the time she would cry herself to sleep inside, alone and dreaming of happier days.
"Is it true sempai? Are you finally leaving us?"
Keitaro sighed, turned towards Shinobu's sad and contorted face, trying her best to hold back her tears.
Shinobu quickly buried her face on the palm of her hands and cried. She usually runs at this point but her tremendous misery weakened her knees. She could not take it. She could not even think about it. Her sempai, her only happiness is leaving them; he is leaving her. Then suddenly she found herself in his arms, her head on his shoulder and she felt warmth, comfort and security. She felt content and complete, if only they could stay like this forever.
Keitaro drew her closer, burying his face on her hair. She can feel him breathing. She can feel him shaking.
"Shinobu, promise me that you will move on. No matter what happens, you will hold on for all of us,"
"Promise me that you will be strong,"
"Sempai…," tears flowing freely from her eyes. It's painful.
"Sempai," she's sobbing now, wetting Keitaro's shirt, "I… I love you sempai, I always do, I always will… I… I," sob, "I promise… I promise with all my heart,"
They stayed like that for a long time. And that was the first and last time she has ever said those meaningful words.
Hmmm, I have to save some of these; Su would definitely love this bowl of super chili sauce that I made! Shinobu was busy wrapping bowls when she heard a faint sound coming from the front door.
Burglars never did scare Shinobu. Hinata is a quiet and peaceful area. During Seta's stay, he had given Shinobu some quick and basic self defense lessons; he also left a shinai for her to use and it's placed at a post near the entrance door, handy and ready for use.
A scratching noise.
Is it them? But usually, they call out first. Shinobu walked quietly towards the entrance door. Her senses open, her movements slow, calm and confident. Then a shadow passed the door windows. She slowly went for the shinai, her heart beating fast, cold sweat on her back.
Then she heard a loud crash.
Shinobu dashed for the door and opened it in one motion, her right hand raised, gripping the shinai hard, ready to give a blow.
Sprawled on the floor is a body.
"Shinobu! Are you alright?" It was Motoko running, coming up from the stone steps and not far behind her is Naru and Mutsumi with worried expressions. Apparently they heard the crash too.
"Oh! Motoko-sempai!" Shinobu felt relieved, glad to see her strong sempai.
"Shinobu, we heard something, is everything okay?" Naru said, closing the gap then paused when she noticed something lying on the floor, "What…,"
Motoko knelt and examined the scene. It was a man, wearing dirty and torn what seems to be some sort of clothing, something she had never seen before. Gently putting her hand under the man's head, she pressed her fingers under his neck and felt for a pulse, then pressed her ear on his chest.
"He's still breathing," Motoko said, "Quick, Shinobu call a doctor, he seems to be injured…," she never got the chance to finish. It was odd. Shinobu seems to have frozen, kneeling beside her and she also found Naru staring at the man with wide astounded eyes, her face white with shock. Then she heard a thud and soon realized that Mutsumi had fainted. She was completely perplexed and so she turned towards the man. What is it? She looked closer, she could not see very well in the dark, but the night sky is enough to aid her. It took her a moment to realize what she's looking at, who she's looking at.
Motoko skipped a heartbeat. For a moment her world swam in and out. It was unreal. Under the clear night sky where the stars twinkled in eternal serenity, lying on the floor, unconscious is the man who had built and destroyed the friendship that is the Hinata Apartments. The man who had been Motoko's driving force all these long hard years. The man she fell in love with without realizing it until the very last day. The man everybody refused to forget. The man who left and disappeared. The man everybody has been waiting for.
"Keitaro…," Motoko whispered.
So what ya think guys and gals? Is it too sad or something? This will definitely be another action-packed fan fiction. And if any of you read any spy adventure books, you'd probably recognize the format. But hey! It's fun! Read and review! Tell me what you think and ha! I will definitely pair him with Naru – NOT! Anyway, just keep on reading and you'll find out!