Disclaimer: Love Hina is the property of Ken Akamatsu, TV Tokyo, Tokyo Pop, 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.
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"X" Spoken words
LIME CONTENT WARNING!!
A LEMON version of this chapter is available at and
WARNING! If you haven't read "Loss and Redemption", STOP RIGHT NOW! This story won't make any sense without reading that first, and this story will be a spoiler for the ending of that one.
Aftermath: Loss and Redemption 2
Chapter One: Aoyamas Redux
"You're… pregnant?" Naru asked quietly.
For a few seconds, everyone at Hinata House was at a loss for words. After a few seconds the silence was broken by Mutsumi. "Congratulations Motoko-chan! And you too Kei-kun!" she sang out, her usual cheerful expression firmly in place.
Mutsumi's declaration broke the ice, resulting in congratulations and well wishes being called out by the other residents. However, Kitsune and Naru's declarations seemed to be a little too formal under the circumstances.
For a few seconds, no expression had been visible on Tsuruko's features, but then her expression changed and was replaced with a pleased look. "Yes, congratulations you two," she said warmly. "How far along are you?"
"About six weeks," replied Motoko.
"I'm really happy for you Motoko," Shinobu interjected. "Is, is it a boy or a girl?"
"We don't know," answered Keitaro. "We don't want to know either. We told the doctor not to tell us anything unless it was an emergency."
Haruka took a long draw on her cigarette and blew the smoke out of her nose. She then looked at Motoko for a few seconds and after some internal deliberation reluctantly put the cigarette out in the ashtray with a wistful sigh. "So Keitaro, do you think you're ready to be a father?" she inquired. The other residents all looked at him, awaiting his answer.
Keitaro thought about his answer for a few seconds. "No, I'm not," he responded truthfully. "But I will be when the time comes," he added in a voice brimming with conviction. "We're still getting over the shock, we just found out yesterday."
"Only yesterday?" responded Kitsune.
"Yes," replied Motoko. "I'd been battling nausea for a week or so, but I thought it was a stomach flu, or perhaps Kei-kun's cooking."
"Hey! My cooking is pretty good," Keitaro huffed indignantly. "You're the one who didn't believe in spices for the first six months."
"Simple food is wholesome food," Motoko responded plainly.
"In addition to being terribly bland. Thank god for Tabasco sauce," muttered Keitaro under his breath.
A potential domestic squabble was averted when Naru gave voice to the question that had been in her mind from the moment she'd seen the two of them in the doorway. "So, why did you two come back?"
Everyone looked at Naru after she asked that question. In perfect synchronization, all the residents, except Haruka, turned their attention to the expectant parents. Haruka stared at Naru a moment longer, with an eyebrow raised.
"Yeah," added Kitsune. "If Motoko didn't want you to fight her sister, why come back at all?" She was giving Keitaro a hard look that he was having trouble meeting.
Reminding himself of what he was here for, Keitaro found the resolve to face Kitsune when he answered her. "Because of the baby. While I have enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle we've been living," he punctuated this remark by reaching over and squeezing Motoko's hand, "we don't want to risk the pregnancy with an unstable living arrangement. We've decided to move back to Hinata House for the duration of the pregnancy."
"What makes you think that you can just waltz back in now?" demanded Naru. The vehemence in her voice surprised even her.
Keitaro was momentarily taken aback at the level of open hostility in Naru's statement. For her part, Motoko's eyes narrowed and she shifted forward in her chair to stand up, only to stop when Keitaro put his hand over hers. Then his eyes narrowed, his jaw set, and his nostrils flared. "I am still the landlord of Hinata House," he stated, with more then a hint of steel in his voice.
"Then where were you?" snarled Kitsune.
"On sabbatical," Keitaro snapped back. "Aunt Haruka, I did say that we'd be back, correct?" When she nodded her answer, Keitaro continued with, "I'm sorry if this is a shock to any of you, but my wife and I are moving back in for a while."
An uncomfortable silenced reigned for a few moments before Naru hissed, "Fine. It IS your building isn't it? Welcome back you two." She then stomped out of the room with Kitsune following closely behind.
'That could have gone better,' Keitaro mused. He took a deep breath to calm himself and noticed the others looking at him curiously. "I…, I hope this isn't too big of a problem for the rest of you."
"It isn't Kei-kun," Mutsumi replied. "It's probably hard for Naru-san to adjust so quickly to you coming back after so long." Her expression hadn't changed at all, and Keitaro wasn't sure how she was feeling.
"It's nice to have you back sempai," Shinobu added sincerely. "And you too Motoko."
"Thank you Shinobu," Motoko replied, genuinely happy to hear those words. "We missed everyone."
"Where did you go Motoko?" asked Su, her usual exuberance having been unaffected by the recent flare up.
"Yeah, spill it you two!" added Sarah.
A small smile appeared on Keitaro's face. "We'll tell you over dinner. Shinobu, would you mind if I did the cooking tonight?"
"Not at all," she replied, a hint of a blush on her cheeks.
"Alright then. Tsuruko, would you like to stay for dinner as well?"
"Certainly," she responded warmly.
"Mo-chan, why don't you stay and talk with everyone while I prepare dinner." With that he left the dining room and walked into the kitchen to begin readying the meal.
For her part, Motoko started briefly describing to the remaining residents and to her sister what life had been like on the road with Keitaro.
Up in her room Naru was pacing about and muttering to herself, while Kitsune stood off to the side and watched her friend try to burn off some nervous energy. After a few moments Naru seemed to have calmed down enough for Kitsune to be able to talk to her without further upsetting her.
"You gonna be able to handle this Naru?" she asked, her voice a study in concern.
Naru stopped her pacing about and took a deep calming breath. After a few more breaths, she replied, "I'm alright now, sorry for acting like this." Her voice had a burned out quality, like a meadow after a wildfire had roared over it.
"Why should you be sorry, you've got every right to be pissed at the two of them," Kitsune responded indignantly.
Naru sighed and lowered her head at her friends blunt statement. "I don't want to be mad at them Kitsune," Naru uttered softly.
"Huh?" Kitsune hadn't expected that at all.
"They, they were important to me once, I don't want to be mad at them for the rest of my life." Naru was speaking in a voice barely over a whisper, and Kitsune had to strain to hear her.
"Then why did you lash out?" asked Kitsune.
"Why did you?" inquired Naru, effectively turning the tables on her friend.
"Uh, because you did. I thought you wanted me to be angry at them," replied Kitsune. She'd been so worried about Naru, she hadn't really thought about how she felt.
"Kitsune, how do you feel about them? Honestly."
Kitsune stopped to consider that. After some thinking she voiced her feelings to Naru. "I, I guess I kind of resent them for hurting you. You were in love with Keitaro, and she took him away from you."
"So why should you resent them for that?"
"You're kidding right? You're my best friend, and anyone who messes with you messes with me."
Naru smiled slightly at the sincerity in her friends' words. "Kitsune, I'm not certain how I feel about them. Yes, it was a shock to see them again, even more so that she's pregnant. That kind of threw me for a loop. I thought that I was over him, but when I saw him again, it reminded me of why I loved him, and I think I still do."
Kitsune's eyes widened in surprise. "You mean you're still carrying a torch for him?" she replied incredulously. "It's been almost a year, Naru. Why haven't you been able to move on?"
"I thought that I had, but it seems that I was wrong." As she said this, Naru was staring at the floor and couldn't bring herself to look Kitsune in the eyes.
"You…, you're not gonna try anything, are you?" Kitsune asked hesitantly.
Naru looked at Kitsune like she had just been slapped. "No! Absolutely not! How could you even think such a thing?!" she responded vehemently.
Kitsune made warding gestures with her hands and slowly backed away. "You…, you did tell me that you once tried to jump him in the bath."
Naru winced in embarrassment and her face took on a pained look as she recalled that incident. "That was a lifetime ago Kitsune," she said quietly. "He's Motoko's now, and I won't try to steal him. I couldn't live with myself if I tried. I…, I just don't know if I can forgive the two of them."
"What are you going to do?"
"I'll be civil, and I want you to civil as well Kitsune," she warned. "I'm going to try to put it all behind me, and see if we can at least be friends again. I honestly don't know if I can, but I'm going to try."
"And if you can't?" Kitsune asked quietly.
Naru sighed as he considered that possibility. "If I can't, then…, then I'll try to avoid them. I won't run away, I tried that once, but I won't be close to them anymore. I don't want to be an enemy, but I'm not certain that I can be their friend again."
"I'll support you, whatever you decide Naru," Kitsune replied earnestly. "I'll try to be civil to them as well. But does that mean that I can't tease them?"
Naru recalled how uncomfortable Keitaro had always been in the face of Kitsune's teasing. A smile with a hint of malicious intent came over her features. "Feel free to tease," answered Naru. 'If nothing else, at least it won't be dull around here.'
Kitsune's familiar smirk returned. "Consider it done."
At this point, Shinobu knocked on the door and told them that dinner was ready.
The dinner table held more guests than it had had in a long time. Naru, Kitsune, Mutsumi, Shinobu, Su, and Sarah were joined by Haruka, as well as the Aoyamas, Keitaro, Motoko and Tsuruko. Everyone had tensed up when Naru and Kitsune had entered the dining room, but there was a collective sigh of relief when they presented an atmosphere of civility.
Keitaro had created a simple but appetizing meal featuring a chicken stir-fry as it's centrepiece, that the residents all found appealing. For about five minutes into the meal, the conversation was on mundane topics, but this ended when Sarah, unable to contain her curiosity any longer, blurted out, "Hey Keitaro, where the hell did you guys go?" Everyone at the table looked over at Mister and Misses Aoyama with an expectant look on their faces.
Keitaro looked over at Motoko, who nodded in approval, and then he began to relate what the two of them had done for the past ten months. 'Hmmm, where to begin?' "After we left here, we went back to that mountain cabin that we all ended up at, remember? We stayed there for about three weeks before we went on our first journey. And after we finished a journey, we ended up back there. It was our 'home' so to speak."
"No one else ever took it?" interjected Mutsumi.
"I'm not certain, but I figure that most travellers took one look at that radiation warning symbol and ran like hell." The other residents considered this and nodded amongst themselves.
"So where else did the two of you go?" inquired Shinobu.
"The first time we went to visit my parents. After that, we went north to Hokkaido for a number of weeks to train in the wilderness there."
"Why?" asked Kitsune, curious in spite of her resentment towards the Aoyamas.
"Probably to use the cooler air and high altitude," Tsuruko interjected casually before Keitaro could respond.
"That's right sister," replied Motoko, a touch of rebuke in her tone.
"I thought so. Sorry for interrupting you Keitaro," Tsuruko apologized.
With a wave of his hand, Keitaro dismissed any possible bad feelings. "That's alright. That thin mountain air drove me nuts, I couldn't catch my breath. Just when I finally got used to it, we went home."
"I believed that you had taken all you could from there, and you were glad to get back to familiar surroundings," Motoko said, her voice having reverted back to 'instructor mode'.
"True, it was nice to get back," Keitaro recalled warmly. "That's pretty much how the whole time went. We'd travel all over Japan to train, come back to the cabin for a couple of weeks, and then be off again."
Listening to the tale, Haruka had one question that was nagging at her. "How did you afford to travel?" she inquired.
"I made withdrawls from my account from time to time," Keitaro replied matter of factly. "After all, you were all still paying rent."
"So THAT'S where it went! See Haruka!" Kitsune shouted out suddenly, startling the other residents. "I told you I didn't take that money out to buy booze!"
Haruka merely shrugged indifferently, further annoying Kitsune.
Startled by Kitsune's sudden outburst, Keitaro took a moment to recompose himself and continue with his story. "We used that money for travelling expenses and food, although we did do some fishing and food gathering on the road."
"That's so cool!" squealed Sarah. "You did the Daniel Boone thing!"
"Who?" asked Motoko, who had no idea who Daniel Boone was.
"An American pioneer, I think," Keitaro replied with some uncertainty.
"Do you have any souvenirs?" asked Mutsumi.
"Just my photo album," Keitaro replied. "Wait here, I'll go get it." With that, he pushed himself away from the low table, stood up and walked over to his backpack and began rifling through it. "Found it." He then returned to the table and handed it to Shinobu.
When she opened it, the other residents crowded around her to look at the pictures. There were various exclamations as they saw the different photos. But one comment from Kitsune had an unexpected impact on Naru: "Jeez, Keitaro, you still collect those damn print club stickers?"
"So what's wrong with them?" Mutsumi asked innocently.
Naru's heart skipped a beat. In a flash, she remembered that a few of those stickers had had a special meaning to her and Keitaro. Most impolitely, she reached down and picked up the book to take a closer look.
"Hey! I was looking at that!" protested Su.
Naru ignored Su's protestations and quickly flipped to that page in Keitaro's album. When she saw that the photos of her and Keitaro were still there she felt a sense of bittersweet relief wash over her.
However, she flipped forward in the book and discovered, with to a growing sense of sadness that was stronger than she expected, that there were dozens of photos of Keitaro and Motoko. Motoko looked awkward in some of the first ones, but in later ones she looked completely at ease, even kissing Keitaro in a few of them.
'Why am I putting myself through this?' Naru thought miserably. 'I know how they feel for each other, why am I looking for more proof?' she wondered. She then handed the album back and apologized to everyone for taking it. She then went back to her seat and resumed eating, a strangely forlorn look on her face.
Kitsune had noticed and was troubled by Naru's behaviour, and promised herself to talk to Naru about it later.
The other residents spent a few more minutes flipping through Keitaro's album before they handed it back to him. As everyone returned to their seats to finish dinner, Naru asked in a subdued tone, "So why didn't you contact us while you were on the road?"
Keitaro placed his left elbow on the table and rested his head behind his left hand. "Quite honestly," he replied, in a voice that was even more subdued than Naru's, "We were afraid it would be difficult for everyone. It, it seemed easier to just stay away and hope that things would get better on their own."
Keitaro then lifted his head and looked at each of the others sitting at the table. In a voice thick with regret he continued. "But, in retrospect, perhaps it wasn't the right thing to do. I'm sorry if I've upset anyone, it isn't what I wanted." Eager to escape the awkward situation and noticing that everyone seemed to have finished eating, he stood up and started gathering the debris of the meal. "I'll take care of the clean up tonight, you can all just relax."
"I'll help you sempai," offered Shinobu.
Keitaro shook his head in response. "Thank you, but no Shinobu. I can do this, and besides, it's not like I'm going anywhere."
Naru got up from the table and handed her plate to Keitaro. "Thank you for the meal. If you'll excuse me…" She then walked out and headed for the living room. Kitsune offered an abrupt thanks and followed her. The others, with the exception of Motoko and Tsuruko, thanked him more heartily for dinner and left the dining room.
Wearing an impressed smile, Tsuruko called out to Keitaro. "I'm surprised, an excellent meal. Motoko's lucky to have you. Do you mind if your wife and I have a private talk?"
"No, go ahead. I'll see you later Mo-chan," he replied.
"See you later Kei-kun," Motoko replied, as she and Tsuruko got up and headed for her old room.
Now all alone, Keitaro allowed himself to release some of the tension that had built up since their return. While things hadn't been as bad as he had feared they could have been, it could have gone a lot better.
'Naru and Kitsune seem to be really upset at us, but at least they were kind of civil after that outburst,' he considered. The other residents hadn't seemed to be mad, or they'd simply hidden it well. But Keitaro didn't think that there was anywhere else that he and Motoko could have gone after learning of the pregnancy. He'd been adamant about going someplace with some stability rather than carrying the baby to term in the cabin. It hadn't been easy to convince Motoko, but she had eventually come to agree with him.
Still, it was going to be simple compared to the time when he was going to have to ask Motoko to temporarily stop doing kendo. There was no problem exercising, but Motoko was vigorous, to put it mildly, in her kendo training, and she'd have to stop it when she got closer to delivery. It was possible that she'd agree instantly, and realize that she had to stop doing one of the things she loved for the baby's sake. But Keitaro doubted it, and he was dreading the day that they would discuss it.
Not looking forward to that day, nor wanting to think about it either, Keitaro shifted his thoughts to something else important to him, mending fences. He knew that his decision to depart with Motoko had hurt Naru, and he had decided to try to patch things up with her. They'd obviously never be able to go back to what had been before, but he hoped that they could at least be friends. 'If we don't work this out, it's going to be really uncomfortable around here.'
What had happened earlier had disheartened him somewhat, but he was still hopeful. Maybe in a few days, when the initial shock wore off, she'd be in a more understanding mindset. He also figured that it would be best to let Naru make the first move, as she would have a better idea of whether or not she was ready herself, rather than him simply guessing. As he made a mental note to try to talk to the other residents, he continued cleaning up the kitchen.
While Keitaro was sorting out his thoughts and washing the dishes, Naru and Kitsune were talking on the couch. "You gonna be alright Naru?" asked Kitsune. "You kinda zoned out back there when you looked at that book."
"Just more confirmation," Naru replied softly.
"What do you mean?"
"You remember how Keitaro collected print club stickers?" When Kitsune nodded in reply, Naru continued with, "There are many, many photos of him and Motoko in that book." She sighed heavily. "Just more evidence that I lost him, as if her pregnancy wasn't enough. I really need to get over him don't I?" she asked rhetorically.
"Yeah, you do," answered Kitsune bluntly.
"So how do I do that?"
"Try talking to him."
"That sounds so easy doesn't it?" Naru said wryly. "Hey Keitaro, I'm still carrying a torch for you, what do you think about that?" She shook her head in disgust. "Don't say a word Kitsune, I'm only kidding." 'Sort of,' she added silently. "I'll do what I can, but I don't think it'll be easy."
Kitsune shook her head slightly and gave Naru a half smile. "It's a matter of the heart. By definition, it can't possibly be easy."
Motoko lead Tsuruko up to the room that she and Keitaro had shared for about two months. She knocked hesitantly on the door and opened it cautiously. She was both surprised and relieved that it seemed to have been left exactly as she remembered. It appeared to have been cleaned regularly, but nothing else seemed to have been disturbed.
Tsuruko looked around the room for a few moments before commenting. "Nice. Were the decorations your idea?"
"Yes. When we got back after our 'marriage', I moved my things into his room."
Motoko's innocent comment reminded Tsuruko of something that had been gnawing at her conscience for almost a year. At least now she'd get a chance to explain herself and hope for the best. Tsuruko lowered her head and in a soft voice said, "Motoko, I…, I owe you an apology. I never meant to hurt you so much by forcing you to marry Keitaro."
"What do you mean, 'hurt me'? I don't understand."
"I, I think I was wrong in exiling you from the school, even temporarily," Tsuruko continued. "I never meant for things to go as far as they did."
Motoko wasn't sure what her older sister was getting at, so she asked her continue. "I still don't know what you mean. Yes, I did get upset, but everything worked out, didn't it?"
Tsuruko looked at Motoko, her regal features marred by guilt and regret. "I knew that it might upset you, but I never expected you to try to kill yourself." Now the remorse in her voice was joined by an emotion that had previously been alien to her; shame.
Motoko paled and her eyes went wide at her sister's admission. "How, how did you…?" she stammered in shock. Her sister had never acted this way before.
"I saw the cuts on Keitaro's hands when he came to talk to me. I almost ended the charade right there. I, I never meant to put you through that, I thought I was simply helping you get closer to him." There was a faint glistening in the corner of Tsuruko's eyes, her admission to Motoko had her on the verge of tears.
Motoko could not remember ever seeing her sister like this before. She had always been cheerful, or smiling about something, and so seeing her almost crying was unnerving to her. "It wasn't your fault," she said reassuringly. "I think I overreacted. Besides, Keitaro was there to save me."
"I hope you appreciated that."
Motoko looked embarrassed with herself. "Actually, I kind of slapped him senseless," she stated meekly.
"You did what!?"
"I was so miserable at that point, I lashed out at him for interfering with my plans. I also had a bit of a breakdown, but through it all he was there for me." Motoko's expression darkened as she recalled that night with some reluctance. She'd made a conscious effort to avoid thinking about those moments.
"I'm grateful to Keitaro for saving you Motoko. Can…, can you forgive me for putting you through that torment?" Tsuruko choked out.
Motoko shook her head and gave Tsuruko an understanding smile. "It wasn't that bad after that, besides I figured out what you were doing after two months or so."
"After Naru got back and finally admitted to Keitaro that she loved him, I was preparing to let him go, and I was thinking about your letter. In a sudden epiphany, I realized that I didn't have to give him up to regain the sword. From that moment on, I did everything I could to make sure he'd choose me. So don't worry about it, it all worked out fine. In fact, I want to thank you."
Tsuruko blinked in surprise; she hadn't expected this. "Thank me? Why?"
"Without your intervention, I never would have won Keitaro's heart. I had some feelings for him, but I probably would never have acted on them. If not for you, Naru might be carrying his child now, not me."
A look of gratefulness and a smile that had more warmth than Motoko had seen in a long time came over Tsuruko's features. "Thank you for being so understanding." She took a moment to regain her composure. "So, how are you enjoying life with Keitaro?" Tsuruko's voice now had it's old confidence back.
A blissful smile washed over Motoko's face. "It's better than I could have dreamed. He's devoted, kind, patient, and he's always been there for me. But more importantly, he knows when I need to be alone from time to time."
"Sounds perfect," remarked Tsuruko.
"No, he isn't perfect," replied Motoko as she rubbed the bridge of her nose. "He's still kind of clumsy, can be incredibly clueless at times, and still has a strange gift for attracting trouble. And you know something? I wouldn't want him any other way."
"Oh really? Why?"
"He wouldn't be Keitaro. At least, he wouldn't be the Keitaro I fell in love with," Motoko clarified. "Despite all of these 'faults', they're part of the man who risked his life to save mine, who dared to face you without my knowledge, and who utterly devoted himself to learning Kendo, despite the fact that he's naturally uncoordinated."
"How is his kendo ability anyway?" Tsuruko inquired out of curiosity.
"Not so great," Motoko replied glibly. She then paused to reconsider her words. "I'm being unfair. He's not up to your skill level, or even mine, but by and large he isn't bad. I believe that he'd be equal to someone who has studied another kendo school for many years."
"And he did all this in less than a year?" Tsuruko asked with a sense of disbelief.
"Yes. Even after he chose me, he continued to train as if he had to fight you," Motoko explained. "I once asked him why he did it, since there was no longer any real need since I'd told him I'd chose him over the sword if I had to."
"What did he say?"
Motoko sighed with a smile on her face. "Kei-kun, that clumsy, frustrating, wonderful Kei-kun, told me that he didn't think I'd be complete without the sword. He said that no struggle would be too difficult for him if it would make me happy. If I hadn't loved him before, that would have done it. He pushed himself far beyond his own limits, and he did it for me. That's one of the reasons I'm so happy with him."
"I see," Tsuruko replied softly. She shook her head as if to clear it, leaned forward conspiratorially, and asked Motoko, "So, how is Keitaro?"
Motoko's brow wrinkled in confusion. "I thought I just told you, he's devoted-"
"No Motoko," interrupted Tsuruko, as she smirked at her younger sister. "I mean, how IS Keitaro?"
Motoko blushed at the candidness of the question. 'Is she trying to embarrass me?' Suddenly, an evil impulse entered Motoko's thoughts. Figuring that turnabout was fair play, and since it was the truth anyway, she gave into it. She matched her sister's smirk with one of her own, leaned forward and replied, "That's the OTHER reason I'm so happy to be with him."
For Motoko, the only thing that marred the delight she felt at seeing the stunned expression on her older sister's face was the fact that she didn't have a camera to capture it for posterity, though she did commit it to her memory.
Tsuruko, who couldn't have been more surprised if Motoko had sprouted wings and flown around the room, struggled to regain her composure. "He seems to have a natural talent in that area, I…, I guess," Tsuruko stammered, a little flustered at her little sister's flippant remark.
Motoko shook her head. "I wouldn't say that. Our first time, his endurance wasn't great."
"He didn't satisfy you?"
"He didn't even get his boxers off."
Through the door, Motoko and Tsuruko heard Keitaro let out a mighty sneeze in the kitchen.
Tsuruko chuckled in spite of herself. "I'm sorry, but that's pathetic."
"He made up for it," replied Motoko, feeling an urge to defend her husband's honor. "Besides, he was a twenty-two year old virgin, I'm amazed he didn't explode."
"So, has his stamina improved since then?" Tsuruko asked mischievously.
"Yes it has. It's from all the workouts we do. I figure we could both run marathons now."
"I didn't mean that type of stamina, and you know it," Tsuruko chided.
"His technique has also improved," added Motoko, acting if Tsuruko hadn't spoken. "He now has more finesse and grace than when we first started. He's listened to my coaching and he's gotten much better."
"Motoko, I was talking about his abilities in the bedroom, not how good he is with a sword."
A sly grin appeared on Motoko's face. "When did I say I was talking about kendo?"
'My, she's gotten bolder, hasn't she?' thought Tsuruko.
Any further discussion was aborted when a knocking came from the door, which then opened and Keitaro entered the room. "Kitchen's done," he said. "Mo-chan, Tsuruko, would you like me to make you some tea?" They both shook their heads in response. Keitaro then noticed that there seemed to be an awkward silence in the room. "I'm sorry, am I interrupting something?" 'Is Motoko…blushing?'
"No, no," Tsuruko replied. "We were just discussing your…abilities."
"I see," Keitaro replied uncertainly. 'Oh boy, she IS blushing, what the hell's going on?'
"She's been raving about what you can do, and it piqued my interest," she continued as she got a strange gleam in her eyes. "It made me wonder if I should put you to the test myself."
"I guess that wouldn't be-"
"NO!" Motoko blurted out, a horrified look on her face.
"What?" Tsuruko asked, the epitome of innocence. "I was just talking about his kendo skills."
'I should have known better than to try to battle wits with Tsuruko,' Motoko thought to herself bleakly. "It…, it's nothing, I just over reacted a little, that's all." By now Motoko's face was cherry red with embarrassment.
'What did I miss?' wondered Keitaro. 'On second thought, I don't really wanna know.' "Is everything all right?"
"Yes, I was just getting ready to leave anyway," replied Tsuruko.
"You don't have to go, we have rooms here if you wish to stay," Keitaro declared.
Tsuruko considered Keitaro's offer for a few moments before she nodded to herself and said, "I accept your offer. It'd be nice to see you two for a while. If you'll excuse me, goodnight you two." She then stood up and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her.
Keitaro spent a moment staring at the closed door before he looked at his wife. "What was that all about?"
"Nothing Kei-kun," Motoko replied, although she couldn't bring herself to look him in the eyes right now.
Keitaro, realizing that attempting to get any more information out of Motoko would be pointless, put down the two backpacks he had retrieved from the main entrance and took a minute to look around his old room. Like Motoko before him, he was pleased to see that nothing had really changed in their absence. He also realized that while nothing had changed physically, the atmosphere of Hinata House had changed, and that it would be a while before they became accustomed to it again.
Breaking out of these metaphysical ruminations, Keitaro walked over to the window and took the opportunity to savour the view, something he had missed greatly while he was travelling with Motoko. As he stood there, watching the city at night, he sensed Motoko coming up behind him.
Leaning down, Motoko rested her head on Keitaro's shoulder, and embraced her husband around the waist. She heard him sigh in contentment and felt him place his hands over her own. She then took the time to follow his gaze out the window and contemplated the beauty of a city after dark.
"What a lovely view," she said softly.
"Isn't it? I always used to love the view out this window."
"Why didn't you tell me about it?" Motoko pouted.
"At the time, I had other pressing concerns to deal with," Keitaro replied honestly.
"There are only three things I think about right now; you, the baby," Keitaro paused at this moment to take a breath, "and finally being back here."
Motoko considered his words for a few minutes, all of the while taking comfort and security in her husband. Finally she gave voice to a question that had been on her mind since the moment she had seen the others. "Are we, are we doing the right thing? Coming back, I mean."
"Yes," answered Keitaro without hesitation. "As much as I have treasured and loved travelling with you, we need some stability during your pregnancy. I won't risk you or the baby for anything." The conviction in his voice further reminded Motoko why she loved him. "We get stability here," he continued, "even though it is awkward right now. And to tell you the truth, I've missed the people here."
"So have I," replied Motoko quietly.
"I, I don't want to feel like an outsider here, I just want to make peace with everyone."
"Do you think we can?"
"I don't know, but I want to try."
"We'll try," corrected Motoko.
The two of them stayed in the embrace for a few minutes, both of them enjoying the view, the company, and the solitude after a rather difficult day. Absently, Keitaro detached one of Motoko's hands and kissed the back of it. In response, Motoko took Keitaro's hand and softly kissed the scar on his palm. She then gently ran the tip of her tongue along it's length.
Keitaro's breath caught in his throat and the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. Motoko only did that when she was feeling…frisky. Under most circumstances, that was all it took to initiate intimacy, but the location gave him pause.
"Something wrong, Kei-kun?" Motoko purred when she felt him hesitate.
"It, it, it feels a little strange to be intimate in this room, Mo-chan," Keitaro stammered quietly. 'Especially since half the house is probably listening in on us,' he added silently.
"We're married aren't we? It's our right."
Motoko's argument was convincing, but not as convincing as the soft kisses she was placing on his neck. Keitaro craned his neck up to allow her easier access and he found himself looking at the ceiling. 'The hole's gone!' the objective part of his mind noted, before it was told to take a hike and let the emotional side take over.
Still, Keitaro was a little intimidated by the idea of he and Motoko making love this close to Naru's room, but Motoko, sensing his faltering resistance, pulled out one of the weapons in her arsenal almost guaranteed to change his mind. She leaned further forward and started softly suckling his left earlobe.
Keitaro gasped out in response, rolling his eyes in sheer joy; he loved it when Motoko did that. Objectively, he knew that she was probably trying to overcome his reluctance. He also knew that she had just succeeded in doing that. 'If they wanna listen in, let 'em!' He turned around in her embrace and met her lips with his own, kissing her deeply, breaking it off only to allow one last moment of rational thought to be communicated. "Lock the door," he whispered softly. Listening in was one thing, but having someone walk in was just plain wrong.
"Tsuruko took care of that," Motoko replied breathlessly.
Before it was completely swept away, Keitaro's rational mind made a final mental note to thank Tsuruko the next morning.
Later, when they had finished celebrating their love, the two of them held each other in a tight embrace as they both struggled to get their wind back. They stayed there, breathing hard, feeling their heart rates coming down, and just enjoying the calm after the storm. Both of them were quite tired now, and they mutually decided that it was time to sleep. Motoko eased off Keitaro and then snuggled up next to him.
"Goodnight Kei-kun, I love you."
"I love you, Mo-chan. Pleasant dreams."
"I'm living one," she replied as she snuggled closer to him.
Keitaro smiled to himself and reached over to turn out the light. As he started to drift off, he recalled the day's events; the return, confrontations, and truces that had occurred. It was a potentially unstable situation, the two of them being back at Hinata House, but it was going to be a reality during the pregnancy.
Tomorrow the two of them would do what they could to try to settle the tension between everyone. He wasn't sure if they could do it, but they would give it their all. One could never know what the future would bring.
'After all, would I have believed what happened tonight a year ago?' he asked himself. With that last thought, he tightened his embrace on the now sleeping Motoko, and let himself drift away.
End Chapter One
Author's Notes: Here we go again. When you get so many emails and reviews demanding a sequel, you must have done something right. I had no idea that my first story would strike such a chord with readers, or that it would be so popular.
So, by popular demand, I started on this sequel. I feel that it will take longer to update because I want to make sure that I do this one right, and because I'm in unexplored territory here. While many stories have tried to tell what might have happened if Keitaro and Motoko got married, to my knowledge no one has ever tried writing an aftermath story.
I will finish this story, but it may take a while. I hope you all enjoy the ride. Any feedback and reviews, both positive and negative, would be welcome.
For this story I am using three pre-readers: dennisud, crosseyedbutterfly, and UndeadAnimeFan267. Any mistakes are mine, not theirs.