I do not own anything from Love Hina or any copyrighted material. Any other characters used in this fic are mine, however.

Chapter 9 – Regretting the Past

Inside the birthing room, Kitsune lay in bed in pain as her contractions became more and more intense. Time had passed…how much time had passed Kitsune hadn't had the faintest idea. Everything before this moment was a blur to her – all she remembered was feeling sharp pains and crumpling to the floor of the laundry deck back at the Hinata Sou. She felt Naru's hand in hers as her best friend tried to comfort her as best as she could but it wasn't enough for her to put her at ease. Kitsune was frightened, not only for herself…but also for her infant child. She clutched her eyes as another contraction shook her body. She needed Keitaro to be with her now more than ever, and hope he'll arrive.

"Just hold on Kitsune," said Naru. "Keitaro will be here, you'll see."

The door swung open, and Kitsune saw the man she had married and the father of their first child limp inside. Keitaro was in pain, but that seemed to be the last thing on his mind at that moment as he now stood at the bedside, his face switched from pain into a mix of relief and worry. She felt him take her other hand into his and felt him cup the side of her face, stroking her hair gently. Naru got up from her seat and walked over to him.

"About time you showed up," said Naru, and then noticed his condition. "Keitaro, are you okay?"

"I'm fine," answered Keitaro, and gave her sad smile. "I always keep my promises…and I didn't want to break the one we made."

Naru nodded and reluctantly walked toward the door, realizing there wasn't anything else she could do. Giving the couple one last worried glance, she quietly walked out. Kitsune looked up at the face of her beloved husband. He smiled warmly at her as a brief look of relief washed over his face. He stooped down gave her a gentle kiss.

"I'm sorry Kitsune…but you know clumsy I can get."

Kitsune could only nod in reply. She felt another painful contraction, nearly causing her to cry out in pain. Keitaro expression changed into fear, and quickly called the medical staff over. They began to access her condition again with medical jargon she barely understood. She clutched Keitaro's hand in a near death-grip, as he looked on helpless to do anything.

"Keitaro…I don't how…I…I…" Kitsune stammered, feeling tears trickle down her face. "I'm so scared…

"I am too…but I'm here now Kitsune," he whispered. "Now and always."

All was quiet as Haruka, Kanako and the residents from the Hinata Sou sat in the waiting area of the hospital, eagerly waiting for any news on how Kitsune was doing. Haruka looked at her watch thoughtfully and shifted her gaze towards the residents. She sighed – they had been at the hospital for nearly five hours now and fatigue from the events earlier that day began to set in. It was an emotional time for all of them, more so on the dorm's two youngest residents. Haruka thought it would be for the best to have them head back.

"Girls…I think it's best for all of you to head back to the dorm," said Haruka.

"What? Why?" asked Shinobu. "What about Kitsune and sempai?"

"Yeah, we're fine," added Su. "I wanted to cheer 'em up when they're finished."

"I know you do…but that could be hours from now."

"We all appreciate your concern for our well being," said Motoko, "but we cannot just head back now – not while Kitsune is in there."

"Haruka…we have every right to be here as you and Kanako do," Naru added, looking Haruka straight in the eyes. "Both of them play a big part in all of our lives and have always help us out whenever any of us were in trouble. Well now they need our support…and it wouldn't be right if we left now."

Haruka took a deep breath and sighed. Naru was right and everyone seemed to agree. They were capable of making their own choices, and it wasn't her decision if they should stay or not in the first place. It probably wouldn't have done any of the girls any good if they were to return to the Hinata Sou anyway. Deep down, Haruka was glad they decided to stay – it really showed how close they've gotten these past few years.

"Alright…" Haruka finally said, giving them all a weary smile. "Should've known been better than to ask in the first place."

Time continued to gradually slip by in the waiting room. Daytime gradually turned into dusk as the last rays of sunshine turned the sky outside glowed a reddish-orange hue. One by one other visitors began to leave until they were the only ones left remaining. The sun's rays disappeared, and soon enough the sky gave way to the stars above. Inside the waiting area, Haruka leaned back heavily in her chair and looked over to the others: Shinobu and Su had dozed off a couple of hours ago using their coats as makeshift pillows, while Motoko sat with her eyes closed in meditation and Kanako stared out of an adjacent window in silence. The only sounds that could be heard were from Naru flipping through the same magazine she had picked up early that afternoon for the fifth time, further wearing out the pages from her constant page turning. Haruka watched her with tired eyes and glanced back at her wristwatch again.

"Almost ten," she muttered softly.

"Hmm? What was that Haruka?" asked Naru.

"The time – it's close to ten," she answered. "So…how's that magazine working out for you? Anything interesting?"

Naru sighed and tossed it on the table in front of her. "To be honest…I uh…don't know. I started to read it…but I just ended up staring at each page. It just didn't seen that interesting, I guess."

Haruka nodded and turned her gaze toward the window. After what seemed like an eternity of waiting, she spotted someone coming out from the hallway where Keitaro and Kitsune room was. The figure, a woman clad in scrubs, noticed the group and made her way toward them. As she approached Haruka immediately stood out of her chair quickly followed by Naru, Kanako and Motoko.

"Are any of you relatives of Mr. And Mrs. Urashima?"

"We are," Haruka answered, motioning to herself and Kanako.

"You're their aunt, is that correct?"

"Yes," she answered. "So tell us, how are they?"

"I'm Doctor Reiko Sanada, the obstetrician that was present with your niece and nephew," the woman said, and then took a deep breath. "First let me inform you that your niece is doing fine…physically – she gave birth to a baby girl about a half-hour ago with no real complications. But I'm afraid, however, the rest of the news isn't all good."

"What do you mean by that Doctor? What's wrong?" asked Kanako.

"As you may know, Mitsune went into labor and gave birth before reaching full term in her pregnancy – two and a half months early to be exact," the Doctor explained. "Because the baby body hasn't fully developed, she is extremely vulnerable to infections. As a precaution, she had to be moved to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to give her body time to develop."

Naru clenched her fists in frustration and looked back at the doctor. "I don't get it. How could this have happened – they did everything right over these past few months!"

Doctor Sanada sighed. "There are a number of causes for premature birth. As I explained to them it can be due to infections, a weak cervix…but sometimes it can just happen. I can give you all sorts of medical reasons…but understanding why doesn't make it any easier."

"Can we see her?" asked Haruka.

"Yes, but only one visitor at a time for now," the doctor answered. "Both parents are emotionally and physically drained."

Haruka nodded turned to the others. "I'll go first. Kanako if you could…call up the rest of the family."

"I'll take care of it Aunt Haruka," replied Kanako.

Taking her leave from the other girls, Haruka walked with the doctor in silence. As she walked, Haruka gradually felt more and more uneasy. Stopping in front of Kitsune's room, Dr. Sanada motioned her to enter. Turning the doorknob, she slowly opened the door of the birthing room. In the bed Kitsune was sobbing quietly as Keitaro embraced his wife, although he too looked emotionally distraught. As she got closer, she noticed her nephew's left arm and hand was wrapped in gauze bandages. Sensing her presence, the remaining medical staff filed out of the room and quietly closed the door behind them. As Haruka approached the bedside, Keitaro looked up and smiled weakly.

"A girl…it's a little girl," he said softly.

Haruka gave him a sad smile and sat down next to them. "I know…"

The older Urashima woman looked into Kitsune's face and felt her heart tighten. Her eyes, once vibrant and alive were filled with grief glistened with moisture as tears trickled down the sides of her face. The once carefree and high-spirited fox of the Hinata Sou now lay before her broken and defeated. Haruka felt the bottom of her stomach sink lower than where it was before. It wasn't fair – it was not fair at all. She imagined that when her niece gave birth, it would be filled with happiness as the young couple welcomed their infant child into their family. Now it seemed that Kitsune and Keitaro's daughter could be taken away from them as quickly as she came into this world.

Haruka looked at each of them and sighed. "I'm…I am so sorry, you two. I…I don't know what to say."

"They took her…the moment our daughter came, she was gone," Kitsune sobbed. "We didn't even get a chance to hold her…to give her a name…we never got see her little face."

"We will Kitsune," Keitaro said softly, stroking her back.

"Keitaro…the others are still in the waiting room," Haruka said quietly. "They wanted to stay…but if you just want to be alone for now…"

"I'm sorry…I'm so sorry Keitaro…it's all my fault," she sobbed. "It's my fault…it's all my fault…I should've said something but I…I didn't want to worry you…"

"Kitsune, don't blame yourself," Haruka replied, trying her best to reassure her.

Kitsune shook her head and continued. "It was all that heavy drinking I did back then, right? Even after I stopped drinking like that, it was to late for me – the damage was done, right?"

"Kitsune," replied Keitaro, "there was no way"

"It was, wasn't it! It's because I was so damn lazy and selfish I didn't think of what could happen! Now look what I've done!" Kitsune cried out in anguish. "How can you stand to be with me now! I've practically killed our child Keitaro! I-I screwed up and it's all my damn fault! It's all my fault!"

Keitaro looked shocked and pained as Kitsune broke down into bitter tears and covered her face. She tried in vain to pull away from her husband but Keitaro held her even tighter, pulling her closer to him. Gradually she gave up and continued to cry into his chest. Tears were forming in his eyes as he spoke softly to her.

"It's not your fault Kitsune – it's not anyone's fault," said Keitaro. "You are not to blame, you hear me? She's going to be all right."

"How do you know?" she asked weakly.

Keitaro leaned closer to her and whispered, "I just do. You just have to believe that she's going to be…for her…for all of us."

As the tears began to flow, it was becoming increasingly harder and harder for Haruka to watch. She stood in absolute silence not knowing what to say or do to help them. As her nephew looked up his eyes met with hers…and gave her a small nod in silence and understanding. Realizing there was nothing she could do, Haruka turned away and made her way back out into the fluorescent-lit hallway. Closing the door behind, she leaned heavily on the opposite wall and slid down on the floor. Holding her head in her hands, she began to do something she hasn't done for quite some time.

She began to shed tears for the ones she cared for.

A/N – I hope everyone liked this chapter…even though it was a bit on the depressing side. With school and everything going on, it's becoming a bit more difficult for me to write on a more productive basis – maybe I need to hire someone to zap me with a cattle prod to write, huh? I would've put this chapter out a week earlier…but I wanted make this a very emotional chapter for everyone concerned. Hope that extra effort was worth it.

I'll get Chapter 10 up as soon as I can, but I really can't say when that may be. Hopefully after midterm exams are finished, I'll have the general chapter finished by the end of next week and take it from there. Feel free to leave me some feedback and suggestions – it really helps if I'm taking my story in the right direction.