Chapter 1

Loss & Rebirth

Disclaimer: I don't own this series or any other series. I am just floating an idea. I am making no money, nor plan to, off this venture. If you think of suing me over this, then grow up.

The train ride back from Kyoto was spent mostly in silence, with only the occasional crying heard. The car was nearly empty, save the three individuals sitting together. The three sat together; a guy with a leg still in a cast, with a girl on either side of him. They both held onto the arm he had draped over them, afraid that should they ever let go, the person belonging to the arm might disappear forever.

Naru sat closest to the window, not really staring at the passing scenery but staring off into space. How could this happen? They were supposed to win. Why didn't Tsuruko let Motoko off? Shouldn't defeating that demon sword have been enough to prove she had bested her big sister? And now, now I may have lost Keitaro forever. I didn't even get to tell him how I felt.

Motoko sat nearest the isle her mind trying to comprehend her new situation. Married!? I am married now? I can't even continue the way of the sword anymore. But without the sword, what am I? Who am I? What is there left for me? If he rejects me, what is there left for me?

Keitaro just sat there in silence. His arms weren't showing any fatigue, but he knew there would be bruises in the morning from how hard the girls were holding on to them. His mind wasn't on what he was going to do now, or even the simple wedding ceremony that Tsuruko had performed after her sister had submitted that she and Keitaro could not defeat her. His thoughts were more of what happened afterwards.

Fifteen minutes after the wedding ceremony........

He had just set Motoko on the couch inside her sister's house. She hadn't said two words since the ceremony, and Keitaro could see that her eyes had lost their spirit. If only I had been stronger, if only I had been better than I am......

He cursed at himself. If he had been a true friend to Motoko, she would not be like she is now. She would be celebrating her defeat of her sister, finally proving to herself that she was worthy of inheriting the Shinmeiryuu, finally proving herself worthy not in her sister's eyes, but in her own eyes. She still should be carrying the passion of the warrior in her heart, the fire of the warrior in her eyes.

Instead, she looked as though she had already died. Her eyes were empty, showing no emotion, no fear; just desperation for loosing her identity, doubt about her worth.

This itself hurt Keitaro more than any attack he had suffered at the hands of the girls of Hinatasou.

And he was resolved to do something about it.

"Naru," he called. His former love had stayed near them, more out of disbelief of what had happened than to support the newlyweds. He could tell she was upset and confused at this situation as well, but nowhere near the levels Motoko was at.

She looked at him for a moment, trying to fill anger at him for this moment, trying to find a way to blame this all on him, trying to make it easier for her to accept what was going on. But despite her best efforts, she couldn't get mad. In fact, she could barely feel anything right now. She herself was too numb from watching the ceremony, trying to make herself believe it was a dream. "Yes?"

"I need you to sit and watch Motoko for a moment. I need to talk with her sister for a moment, and I don't think she should be alone right now."

She wanted to refuse him, to tell him that comforting his 'wife' was his job. That she didn't feel any need to support this travesty. But she couldn't. For once in her life, Naru simply accepted his request, and sat down besides Motoko, placing her arms around her.

The two sat in silence as Keitaro went to confront Tsuruko, and try to regain Motoko. Neither of the girls noticed that he had put the cursed Hina blade into his belt.

Five minutes later...........

"Tsuruko, you must stop this, can't you see it is killing your sister?"

Tsuruko simply turned around. He had found her outside, standing only a few feet from the door they had entered in. "Motoko knew the risks entering the fight. You both did. Are you both now unwilling to keep your word of honor to me?"

She turned to see Keitaro, and noticed that his hand was paused above the cursed Hina sword, as if he was trying to decide to draw it or not. She looked into his eyes, seeing a passion arise in them. He cares so much for my sister; does he believe that he can use that blade to attack me?

"What will it take?" he asked looking her dead in her eyes, not caring that she could kill him, not even caring that he saw that she had been crying, distraught over the fact of what she had done to her sister. "What will it take for you to allow Motoko to carry her sword again, to live her life the way she truly wants to, to truly be alive again? What must I do for you to allow her back into the Shinmeiryuu? What do you ask of me that you may grant this favor?"

Tsuruko stepped back, not expecting this young man to be so direct. She knew if she asked him to sacrifice himself right now, he would gladly do so now, if it would help someone he cared about. She knew he cared about all the girls at Hinatasou; her sister included. She knew that he was willing to march through hell to keep them happy. Sister, you must have seen this in him as well. Is that why you wanted for him to pretend to be with you, so that in some small way, you could claim him as your own, even if to only trick me?

She stared into his eyes for several minutes, noting how the fire in them never diminished, never faltered. "Once this deal was done, nothing I do could change it. I know how deeply you care for my sister. I saw how deeply she cares for you as well. But what has been done cannot be undone. She is your wife now, and must act as such. She must give up the sword. This decision will be hard for her, but she knew the risk in lying to me, rather than being open and saying that she felt she wasn't ready, that she needed more time. She has no one to blame for this but herself."

"Blame herself!" Keitaro said, his voice rising higher. "You knew you scared her, that she was always afraid of disappointing you, that you would never understand her. You knew that she wasn't ready, but you pushed her, demanding she come home and fill her role here, without a care if that was what she really wanted. Sure, she could have tried and been open with you, but would you have listened. You practically tried to drag her from Hinatasou not even five minutes after she came back. And you expected her to be honest with you. She believed that you would never accept that."

Tsuruko never showed how much those words hurt her. She knew her sister feared her. It had been a reason why they had communicated so little since her wedding, since Motoko had lost her sister to a 'man'. She had known her sister was not comfortable with her. But still she had pressed on with Motoko's duties. Perhaps she did share some small part of the blame. But she was not going to admit that to Keitaro.

"Now I ask you again," he said. "What do I have to do to get you to return her life back to her?" As he spoke, his hand inched closer the blade; believing that if need be, he would face her with the cursed blade to regain Motoko's life.

"For now," she finally spoke, after seeing how eager he was to draw the blade, to try and regain her sister's spirit, her reason for joy. "For now there is nothing you can do. But I will look into our laws, and see if there is a way."

She walked towards him. "Do you honestly think that I enjoy doing this to my sister, making her suffer as such? She had the potential to become the best, better than me, but she was unable to decide how to live her life her way, by her own rules, and now she has paid for that."

It was then that Keitaro finally noticed how she truly felt about what she had done, that she had fully expected her sister to best her, to prove she was a worthy student to inherit the Shinmeiryuu. In the end, all that had happened was that her little sister had been destroyed by her own self-doubt, that she had been unable to take responsibility for her own life, instead of living in her sister's shadow. Then the tears began to fall down Tsuruko's face, but did not change her demeanor.

"I will honor your request, and search our laws to see what, if anything may be done now. However, it does not, and will not change was has happened until now. She is your wife, and as such, must be."

She walked past him, stopping when they were side by side. "For what it's worth, I had faith that she would beat me. Please take care of her Keitaro, help her become alive once again."

With those words, she went inside.

Keitaro just stood there for a few minutes, trying to understand. Then, he turned towards the house heading for the phone, trying to decide what to say to the girls at Hinatasou, and how, if possible, he could bring life back to Motoko's eyes.

But deeper inside, a small part of him still wondered about Naru.

"I don't know what I did in a past life, but the Gods better have a hell of a reason for doing this."

The phone call had been painful, but no more so that the fight, and even less so than the train ride back to Hinata. Mitsune had answered, automatically assuming that they had won. He still could hear her disappointment and sadness for what had happened to her friends. She had promised that they would all be waiting for them, and that there would be no party.

Finally though, the silence in the car had gotten unbearable.

"Motoko?" he turned to his 'wife', though the idea was still new, and almost screaming at him to still be impossible.

She turned slowly towards him, catching him with the coldness of her eyes. "Yes honored husband?"

His mouth burned slightly, hating that word. If he had any real honor she would not be in this position. "I will find a way for you to be happy Motoko but there are some things I need you to do first."

Naru looked at both of them then, hoping that Keitaro was not going to fully endorse this marriage, that he was not going to gleefully accept that Motoko would do anything he requested of her.

"What do you desire of me honored husband"

"First off, you will never call me honored husband again. From this point on, you will refer to me as Keitaro, Urashima, or even hey you, but never as honored husband. Second, you will not from this point on, consider death as an option. I remember how you reacted the first time she beat you, and I do not wish to lose you. You will live. Third, I want you to stop thinking that you must act like a dutiful wife. I liked the way you were before this all started, and do not wish for you to act any other way. If I do something wrong, I wholeheartedly expect you to use a move on me and send me flying about town. These are what I ask of you, they may not be what you wish, but they are what I demand. I do not wish for you to be anything than what I have come to know you as"

Motoko looked at him, a slight glimmer in her eye. "If this is what my husband wishes of me, than I cannot deny him."

Keitaro noticed how for a moment, she seemed to regain life, but her grip on his arm had tightened.

Then for the second time within the week, she leaned on him, burying her head in his chest, and began to cry.

Naru leaned on him as well, tears falling down her face, but no sound passed through her lips. She herself was still in too much shock from the events of today to feel anything else.

Keitaro just sat there, staring into the seat across from him. I failed both of you. But I will make this right.

The problem was he had no idea how.

If I messed anything up, then let me know including typos.

Any suggestions on how I should continue the story or improve it would also be accepted.