Love Hina

Chapter 9

New Lines Drawn

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.

I would like to first personally thank all of those reviewing my stories. I enjoy reading your comments, and try to correct the grammatical errors I miss with my final read-through as well as my spell checkers. The suggestions you all make will help make this story better for everyone to enjoy, as well as allow my to fix some plot holes I may unintentionally leave.

If you like, please review, as well as let me know of any spelling errors. I will then re-upload this chapter when I do my next upload.

If you like, check out my other stories.

I also plan to start sending these out to have someone else proofread them before I post them. Volunteers are welcome.

Now, on with the show.

Keitaro sat in the corner of his room, the circle still drawn on the floor, the demon now laughing in his head.

He wasn't giving up, no, that would never fit his new mindset. He had tasted freedom, tasted and felt the wealth of sensation a normal form gave.

But, the demon's actions also gave him much to think about.

He could still taste the kiss he had received from Adult Kaolla, the feel on her body under his hands, the...

He shook his head. Those thoughts were the demon inside him, not his true intents.

If he ever was that way, if he could ever be that way, then it would be by his choice.

Sadly, when the demon resurfaced, what he and Kaolla did was neither of their choices. Had Haruka not been there to separate them...

He raised his eyes towards the little foreign girl in the opposite corner, staring at him. "Su, you okay?" It had been the first words he had said to her in an hour when she entered his room and sat down, both neither certain what they could say.

"I...I don't really know, Keitaro." She was certain of that. The feelings, the responses, the needs... Was that what love was supposed to be like? Was that what he felt every time a girl entered his zone? "Keitaro, I...I liked it. Is that...wrong?"

How could he answer that? That would involve a discussion he was ill equipped to discuss. The demon used the basic emotions to get what he wanted.

How could he say love was a bad thing?

"Su, it all depends. The way the demon uses it, yes, that is bad. But if you can ever find that on your own, then go for it, and hope it is mutual."

She could only nod; not really certain what she could do now. Usually, she didn't recall too much of what occurred in her adult form.

But what she had experienced was too strong...too powerful just to ignore. It made it past any barriers her mind had held.

And she knew she wanted more. "Keitaro, can, if you feel better by morning?"

It was Akiri who had suggested that perhaps they had had some success, that maybe the demon was merely sealed as long as the sun stood in the sky.

So, maybe she could get to know if she liked him...that way...when the sun was up, when he might be able to play again...without playing the game adults played.

He laughed a little. "Yeah, we can play if I feel human when the sun comes up." He liked her; the little girl had grown on him. They all had. Even without Hina's blackmail, he would still be friendly to them.

It was just that Hina's blackmail was what put them in danger in the first place.

A knock on the door brought them out of their self-analysis. "Yeah?"

The door slid back to reveal Haruka. Judging by the lack of cigarette in her mouth and her slightly pale skin, she had some disturbing news. "Um...Keitaro, the other two tenants are here."

"And?" He stared at her, knowing she had a point. It wasn't like Haruka hadn't been there when Akiri explained her theory. "Wouldn't it be better to meet them when the sun comes up? I mean, the papers they need to sign are in the living room."

Haruka was about to reply, but a voice cut her off. "There is another reason, Onii-san."

It was Keitaro's turn to pale, as the voice from his past turned gears in his head he had long since forgotten about, the demon now laughing at him.

Well, I guess you get to see what I know, mortal!

He ignored the voice; it had no power unless he let it. "K-Kanako?"

The door opened farther, to reveal the fabled adopted sister, the girl who had launched herself at Keitaro, knowing what would happen. And...

"We need to talk, Keitaro. This is...our...daughter, Sakura."

Keitaro groggily opened his eyes. The small rays of sunlight piercing through seemed to seek out his own eyes, forcing him from pleasant dreams.

Well, that or the two-year old girl that was currently stealing the blanket from him.

He smiled at her, grabbing some more of the blanket, and pulling his daughter into a warm embrace

It be like this, to have another human with you, to not be alone.

He hated being alone.

His talk with Kanako had been in hushed tones last night, trying not to make Sakura think she was at fault.

"If I had told you then, what would you have done? Would you still be here? No, you and I both know what you would have done."

It was true, in a way. What would he have done if Kanako had revealed she was pregnant?

It was not the best time of his life. First was what had occurred to Rei, then his sister attacking him like that. Yeah, another suicide attempt would have been a distinct possibility.

Then he noticed something else.

Someone was stealing the blanket on the other side of him.

Looking over, he saw Su with her eyes smiling in mischief. "Time to play, Keitaro?"

Smiling he shook his head. "Nah, gotta let Sakura get some sleep."

"But Shinobu'll have breakfast ready soon!"

He almost slapped his head at that. He could go eat breakfast with them now; he could be around people again. Yeah SUN! "Okay, let me wake her up."

The crowd gathered at the table was a most unique bunch. Akiri, Rei, Hideki, Tsuruko, Motoko, Su, Shinobu, Nara, Mutsumi, Mitsune, Kanako, Sakura, Haruka, and Keitaro; each one enjoying a meal none thought would be possible merely days ago.

Laughing continued on, stories passed, and meals eaten. It truly was a joyous time for the house.

But meals end, days begin, and school still must be attended.

Haruka left for the Tea House, promising to check up on Keitaro.

The girls went to school, and Rei and Mutsumi left for Prep School.

Kitsune sat in front of the TV with Sakura, watching the races and whatever odd show peaked the little girl's attention. Even Mitsune didn't drink in front of her. The child was too impressionable.

Akiri, Hideki, and Tsuruko went down to the Tea House to talk about what might have happened yesterday, seeing if they could refine it to work for nighttime as well, in effect, curing him.

Kanako said she would help him with the maintenance.

Really, it was so they could talk.

As they were sweeping the Hot Springs, they chatted, trying to discuss what had remained unsaid.

"So, when do you go to sign up for prep school, Onii-san?"

"Tomorrow. I sent my paperwork with Rei and Mutsumi this morning."

"Okay," she said. She was nervous as she scrubbed the rocks. After all, how do you try and start a painful conversation, without making themselves feel worse.

"Are you two happy?"

Or, like her brother, you can just do it and assume it can't make you feel worse than before. "We are. I...I would rather have had you there with me, throughout it all."

"So, who all knew?"

"Grandmother, I think our parents, and the relatives I stayed with."

"I forgave you a long time ago for what happened, Kanako. I hope you're not still blaming yourself for it."

"I destroyed our relationship over a crush. Why should I forgive myself?"

"Because I still love you, even before that happened. Even after it happened, I knew I wasn't going to blame you. I...I blamed myself. I guess I still do."

"I was the one who knew what could happen. I allowed myself to be deluded enough to believe that all you needed was someone who would never see you as a freak, who owed you her life, and would never reject you!"

"I know."

That confused her. "You knew?"

"I have a lot of free time, so I can think about a lot of stuff." He grabbed the hose, spraying down the muck and dirt towards the drain. "I know all about how you felt for me. I got pretty good at reading people. Mom says it's because I spend so much time reading those psychology books."

As they began to put away the cleaning supplies, Keitaro shut the drain, and turned on the water to refill the spring.

Kanako stood behind him, waiting for him to turn around.

When he did...she did what she had been waiting over ten years to do.

She hugged her brother, crying.

Keitaro could only do one thing: he held her, comforted her, and made her feel loved again.

Akiri stirred her new mug of tea. "So, I think we can safely assume that we somehow strengthened the seal during the day, to the point where it seals even the power now."

Hideki sipped his tea. "I would assume so. Holy seals on occasion take power from the sun, so we may have inadvertently done something similar."

Tsuruko sniffed her tea, enjoying the fragrance filling her head. "Agreed. Though there have been cases in my school where sealed demons were used for the benefit of humanity. I have our council researching it now."

The three nodded, continuing to sip their tea.

Akiri talked first, nibbling on a biscuit. "Well, we have given him hope, but we must be careful that any future attempts do not undo the progress we have made."

"Yes," agreed Hideki. "If we undo what has been done, even repeating what we just did may not achieve the same results."

"Is there no way to kill this demon?" asked Tsuruko.

"No," stated Akiri. "These demons live forever, the result of them absorbing other demons to eliminate weaknesses. All that are sealed are slowly destroyed in a vat of acid and holy waters, so that the demons are destroyed as well."

"So, then Keitaro would have to be destroyed as well?" asked Tsuruko.

"No," stated Hideki. "This one is bonded to a human soul. It would require necromancy to free it. When Keitaro's soul passes to the next world, so to does the demon. In fact, some research states that the demon on occasion was bonded to a dying priest, so it would be escorted to the next world."

"I see," said Tsuruko. "I must say if we could somehow do that to the one bonded to Keitaro..."

"That requires a technique that has long been lost." Hideki drank some more of his tea, signaling to Haruka for a refill. "I have people searching for it. If we do come across it, we would need a volunteer, and I have already had several from the temples and shrines I have visited."

"What would that do to Keitaro?"

Akiri answered Tsuruko's question. "We don't know. The priest who escorted the soul was never alive long enough for the demon to manifest any power. He may be normal, lose his soul as well, or simply have the demon's abilities."

"If the latter is true, I request that he be paired up with my sister."

The two holy people turned to the smirking Tsuruko. "It would make him the perfect husband for my sister, would it not?"

Three people face-faulted: two were the holy people; the other was the ease-dropping aunt.

Tsuruko just giggled. Well, it was best to place in the open new ideas.

Keitaro finished making lunch, setting down the bowls as they ate. Sakura sat on her mother's lap, while Kitsune and Keitaro sat across from each other. On the other side of Kanako and Sakura was Tama-chan and Kuro.

"Thanks again for watching her, Kitsune." Keitaro was saddened that he wasn't able to spend much time with his daughter and get to know her, but his chores needed to be maintained, and the list that Hina left needed to be completed as fast as possible, in case the lock began to fade and he needed to move in with his Aunt.

"It was my pleasure, sugar." She wasn't lying. True, she had been sober all day, but she enjoyed the time with Sakura, and not simply because the little girl loved to lounge around as much as Kitsune.

Kanako turned towards her daughter. "Did you learn anything today, sweetie?"

Sakura nodded. "Never bet a trifecta if the jockey can't get on da horsie."

The two parents quickly turned towards the resident lay-about. "Um, well not like I taught her any dirty words."

Keitaro began laughing, while Kanako tries to look stern at him.

"Oh, come on," he says. "Remember how bad at math I was in grade school?"

Sighing, she just returned to feeding her daughter.

"So, Onii-san, what else do you have for today?"

Keitaro pulled out his list. "Well, I figured I could get the roof fixed before the others get home."

"Anything we can do, sugar?"

Keitaro blinked. Did Kitsune just offer to do work? "Well, we can use some more groceries with the others staying here for a while."

"Sure thing. You two wanna come?"

The mother/daughter duo looked stunned. "Um, I guess, unless you need us, Keitaro?"

The manager shook his head. "Nah, the stuff the old bat needs me to get done now's too dangerous for you two. Don't worry, I'm immortal, remember."

As the lunch dishes were cleaned, the ladies prepared to leave.

But not before Sakura kissed her father good bye.

As they left, Keitaro held his hand to the spot on his cheek his daughter had kissed him.

For the first time in a while, Keitaro felt...loved.

Maybe I can find happiness here.

He was questioning this after finding several weak spots in the roof the old fashioned way: by falling through them.

This also allowed him to discover several weak spots in the floors, oddly, placed directly below the weak spots in the ceiling.