DISCLAIMER: It has been said to no end, but here it is: Love Hina does not belong to me. Neither does Hellsing, Negima, Oh my Goddess, Onegai Teacher, Stargate SG1, Night's Dawn Trilogy,Vandread and a lot of other excellent shows, books and fanfics out there...Mineare the concept and plot.

Moving Forward.
By VoidHawk

Chapter I

Present - Kyoto Forests -

It was raining. Dark and cold. And one lone young man tries to make his way through the elements and the dark. He is injured, that much is clear by the way he moves, and his mind is immerse in thoughts. Dark and sad thoughts.

What have I done to them? Since the very first beginning, I just tried to help, to make friends, to be useful. And the only thing I got in my way is pain…whether physical or emotional. THEY DONT CARE! They only care about themselves and about dispensing their punishment. And punishment for what? For being clumsy? For their own doing a lot of times? And Naru…of all the girls! My only fault was to have loved her at one time. And what have I got now? even when I am ready to left her for good she came to a final display of caring and tenderness… Naru´s Train of Pain Style. What I did to her?Or Motoko? To earn such hatred and contempt. They wanted me out, didn't they? At least for the time being I was granting that! What else they want from me?

As despair comes in high tides, he remembers the plans for that very night:

I was going to meet Tsu Chan. Tonight I was going to know who she really is, and show her who I am. She was so sweet and deep. I don't even understand how lucky I was for meeting such a wonderful woman! After last night, it all seemed like a dream. And now, look where I am! She will be disappointed. I will not be there for her. Tsu Chan will think I have not gone on purpose. and after last night, I will have failed just the one woman I would like to see smiling now. Chances are I will not see her anymore…as she will also despise me! Like the girls do. She will not even actually have known me at all! He tenses at those thoughts thus shedding more pain to his battered and tired body.

His dark thoughts go deeper, as deeper goes his despair.

Will that be enough to appease your anger, NARUSEGAWA? Or as it seems, only my final demise will sate your anger. Yours and Motoko´s.
He winces in pain while thinking. He cannot feel his left eye anymore, but it hurt as hell when the last punch connected. He does not want to really dwell on what happened there. Wearing glasses while being punched is not a very good idea. He so much as know that his right arm is broken, and he cannot feel his right lower leg…it drags…slowing him down despite the urge to move…to be away from his assailants….His right foot stings.

Ugh…this time my so overtaxed healing capability is really delaying to kick on…Gosh, I just would like to be able to see my way here…It is dark, and the rain is not helping either. She was angry this time, but what have I done? She was to blame this time! I did nothing. They barged upon me…To stop me. Stop me going after my own happiness…And now they are trying to kill me! He howls in pain. Both physical and emotional, and the darkness starts to become deeper around the young maimed man. It becomes something almost tangible, as if some foul thing made of despair and angst was stretching its talons, embracing him in its cold and vicious arms.

And the rain continues to fall.

He so much as heard distant, muffled voices. Whose? He does not know, but will not stay put to find out, as he knows what awaits him under his assailants' hands.
Cold…so cold…and wet…I am shivering. Hard to move.

Keitaro starts to loose full conscience, and the image of the woman he was going to meet this night, memories of his last dream night with her, her grace, warmth and her bright smile bring more pain to his soul, as he feels despair over the injustice of the events unfolding upon him.

Eight Days in the Past

A Bar in Tokyo, late morning:

"Ok, I may be a stupid ronin to you. But I will keep trying …You wait and see, Narusegawa!"

Keitaro and Narusegawa are seated on a bar, going there after checking their failure at the last Toudai Exam. For Keitaro that is not a new event, for he tried and failed before. But for the blondie girl with him, the situation was a shock! She had no doubts she would pass in flying colors those exams…as much as to really neglect her studies lately.

"Keitaro…it is your fault! I lost too much time nursing you, helping you…Baka! So much as to loose my own grasp atmy studiesstudies!"

"Hey, if those sessions were anything, they should have been helpful to you, as you were reviewing your own studies...I know they helped me a lot! Besides, you were the one who took off a lot of nights lately". The last statement done a bit glumly.

"Bah…nonsense! You are a stupid perverted one. You wasted more time looking at me and noticing what I am doing than studying properly! Now I know…I do not even know why I´m here with you".

"Maybe because we are friends? Maybe because I care for you?" Keitaro is a bit tipsy for he drank a bit of sake. And is a little more frank and daring here, for he usually keeps his own thoughts tightly wrapped up when dealing with Narusegawa Naru.

"Oh…Really?" Narusegawa was not drunk, and was reaching up her usual Violent Mode. She does not take well being contradicted or failing things.
"And why I would care? I´m tired of helping you. And now I´m even a ronin as well. Enough!"

"But Naru! All I asked before was help. And see, I failed before but will keep going". Keitaro starts to get more emotional, sake wise.

People around started to notice the young couple.

"And don't you want to fulfill our promise? To be on Toudai together?" Now he blows it out. He remember the diary entry he saw, and Naru also got it straight after his statement. And it fuels her anger.

"Yeah…" she says. "I remember your ranting about that. Out of curiosity I spoke with mom over that, and you know what? It seems I was the one you met then". She is enraged now. Have been for a while since knowing their reprove, and now Keitaro is really going to receive the full brunt of her bad mood, as usual. "And you wanna know what I think about that?" She then lifts the glass of tea she is drinking, and throws it on Keitaro´s face. "I do not give a damm! I was a child then, and by chance I met you…Whatever I saw then I do not even understand! Thing is, I do not like you. I do not like your way. I do not like your presence. And I really DON´T CARE ABOUT ANY CHILDISH PROMISE I MADE TO YOU!"

She yells. "Get over!" You are pathetic, holding such promise. That's why you will NEVER get into Toudai. Especially with me, freak! "Besides..." She goes on. "Have you noticed or not, I´m already meeting someone, who is way cooler than you will ever be!" She stands up, and turns to leave, giving her back to a stunned and drenched Keitaro.

"But Naru..."

"But what? Scramm!" She turns at the door, rage on her eyes. Then storms out.

"What have I done to you…I just cared for you…so much…But it seems it was just a child's dream after all…" He whispers.

Keitaro´s mind is racing. What held him high all over these years was the promise. He was unlucky with girls, and so very shy. But he thought that this would change when he met his promised one; beautiful, tender and caring as she would surely be. At least in his mind. But when he finally found her (and she even confirmed the fact) she turns out to be a brute and short tempered young woman, who gives a damm to him. Oh he tried nonetheless, and sometimes it seems to work, for she shows from time to time some sort of consideration, and from time to time even affection. But suddenly, after just one failure, she dumps the responsibility on him, and rages like that. And confesses that is already dating someone else! And he was faithful to a dream for so long! His dreams were chattered like glass. Toudai, Promise Girl. All dumped, like the glass of tea Naru dumped in his face. He feels betrayed. Dumb folded. And lonely, oh so very lonely.

He had endured a lot lately. .Even thinking himself lucky to become kanrinning on a girl's dorm, and finding himself surrounded by beauties. But soon his luck turned into a curse. He is despised, abused, harassed and maimed constantly, and despite working like a robot and trying to study at the same time, no appreciation is ever displayed…never! He receives just the physical and moral bashings which seemed so common these days from the girls.Save Shinobu…But she is as a little girl, shy and collected, who would not be able to shed light to the others, such were their passion for fast judgements and action…Or in Kitsune´s case, for fun, as if it was really fun to be always set up on some bad misunderstanding which invariably results on physical assault. He just hoped Shinobu would not turn out like Naru …or Motoko, always slow to listen and understand, but oh so fast on passing judgments and punishments.

He was getting tired of it all! Tired of giving himself over the girls and receive a plain bucket of pain and disrespect!

And he was getting tired of being constantly beaten and offended by Naru! Of all the girls, he harbored a deep feeling for her. And after accidentally reading her diary, he found out that she was probably the girl he met so many years before.

His promised one, adding to her allure on him…But she was never really receptive, and yes, her aggressions were the worst! So many times he got really injured by her, and she never really cared about her actions.

As of late, nearing the exams, they were even starting to treat themselves a bit better, as her mood increased a little as of late, and Kei expressed his feeling and ideas during one of their study sessions:

"Hey Naru, about the diary…" She looks at him suspiciously.

"You know, perhaps you really remember a little promise here at these grounds?"
She looks puzzled, and Keitaro explained his promise.

"Well, I was small then….But I did write a dream I had on that entry… But I doubt I made such promise to you then. Let's study"

That was all she said then.

And now, after the entrance failure, and her outburst. She was the one, she even checked with her mom! And even after confirming all this, she shovels those words over him! As if meant nothing to the young kanrinning.

And she already has someone! Thinks Keitaro.

Keitaro breaks then. That was enough….He was not a punch bag for her, or anyone else's for that matter! Something just pops up and starts to die inside him. And he starts to think how Narusegawa really acts towards him. Well, he had a lot of scars as a more material proof of how she regards him really.

Well, so much for promises, and for my being this way. I´m really weary of this! I need some time to think…And to try and see what is really happening to me…As of late I´m really feeling so lonely and without purpose. This dream of Toudai is really not fulfilling me anymore…What was I really trying to accomplish here? Trying to enter a place like that just to get a girlfriend is really pathetic…I am starting to get disgusted with myself! His smile is a sad one, and with eyes filled with tears, he stands, still dripping, pays their bill and leaves the bar. Ashamed by the previous bath from Naru, and starting to feel shame for how he was acting in the last years of his life. He leaves the place under the stare of the customers at the place. Sadness hung upon him like a shroud…

Better go home. I may not get solace there, but at least I will get a bath and warm clothes. This much I will get.Maybe I will go see Haruka…Yes that I will! A hot tea and good talk will improve my mood…a bit.

Keitaro head back to Hinata sou, and an urge to get away from all that was troubling him starts to get hold on his thoughts. And he starts to plan upon that.

Well, I´m at least feeling warmer.

After taking a hoth bath and putting on clean clothes, Keitaro goes to Haruka´s Tea Shop, and finds her really busy. But Haruka is never too busy to not talk with her nephew. Despite playing annoyance when he calls her -Aunt- she really does not mind that much. She has gotten really concerned recently, as Keitaro usually comes to talk with her about how the girls are treating him. He does not really complains, more like tells her his daily antics. But at heart she started to notice his empty smile. Despite her stoic countenance, she loves so much his own, heartfelt and warm smile…But something was devouring this away. He seems so sad and introspect nowadays. But his good manners and self contained feelings deceive all but the ones who really know and love him…like herself. It hurts to see him like that.

She does not understand what goes around those girls up on the dorm, but she was surely starting to get annoyed…Very annoyed indeed!

"Yoh Keitaro! What's up?" She asks, but sees how dead his eyes were.

"Greetings Haruka! Do you have a cup of tea to a weary ronin?" He enters the Tea House and finds himself a place to seat. He really seems thoughtful and concerned.

"Hey Kei, I heard about Toudai. Well, nothing new there, uh? But I also understand you were very near it this time…Next time I am sure you will get it. And who knows, you may even find your Promised Girl, uh?" She tries to cheer him up, but that stroke the wrong chord, as she was unaware of his previous talk with Narusegawa.

"You know Haruka, I am really rethinking a lot of things. And I am also finding out that childish promises are not the best fuel to propel someone's life." He states that in a monotonic voice, and the statement itself shocks her. That was the fuel for most of his life. That girl he found so many years ago. Many times she thought that as a cursed meeting, for since then he became an even more shy boy, so much as to make him totally jittery when dealing with girls. The boy was still alone after so many years. Not a single girlfriend, even being the so nice person to be around …and not bad looking. He reminded her about Seta…Definitely good by her standards (and not only hers, she thoughts). But his obsession over that girl blinded him to all others around. Granted, he was interested in girls a lot, but his promise made him clumsy and really not willing to give himself to a new girl. Always being faithful to his promise. On one side, it was something to be proud of, her nephew had character! On the other hand, it hindered him a lot on his personal life….But now, something happened.

"And what kind of talk is this?" Where is the ever stubborn Urashima Keitaro we all know?"

"I think he is still here…But this Keitaro is reviewing his own ways, and is finding himself needing changes…"

"And that means?"

" That means I want happiness! Happiness is not some distant goal, a far away dream…We can be happy if we really want it, and as it seems, I have put all my happiness on an empty dream…A dream shattered by the very person I had as my goal my whole life!"

Haruka´s eyes went wide and she sweat drops hearing that. Something really bad happened….But what?

"Ok, Kei….I do worry about you, specially after some of the things you told me recently, but now what is really happening? Is this something to do with Toudai? the Dorm? The girls? Or the promised girl?"

"Heh…a bit of all as it seems."

Keitaro tells Haruka about his talk with Narusegawa. Haruka is upset with the girl, very upset. But her will must be respected. On this much both Haruka and Keitaro agree. But Haruka is upset on how the blondie puts her mind out. Keitaro was opening his heart and she so much as trampled over it….Well, Naru was a complex one…But she was really annoying Haruka now.

"Well, Keitaro…I cannot say much, but I am worried about you. What you plan on doing right now?"

" I will take a leave from the dorm. Have not had any vacation for a long time anyway. I will travel a bit. Not very far for I do not have that much money to spare, but I do have saved enough to a nice month's travel. And will take this time to rethink my own ways. You see Haruka, I really wanna be happy, despite the way I let them abuse me up to this date…I am getting tired of this…and I think some changes must take place, or this hollow I am feeling now will grow. And I do not want this to happen".

"I will respect your will and even support you. But just keep in mind that, even if some of the girls up there have not noticed it, this place got much better after you arrived".

"I bet! They do not bother in the least with maintenance and cleaning, as I remember when I got the place."

"Haruka, I know it is a lot to ask, but would you take charge again of Hinata sou, while I am out? Despite all this, I do worry about them…" Keitaro knows it is a burden to Haruka, but he had no one else to ask.

"Don't worry. I will do it. Rest easy yourself about the place, it will be sound and good when you got back! And some of the girls may find themselves into troubled waters after this… Thinks Haruka, grinning inside: Things gonna change. This much I know!

"Hey, now let's cheer up! Drink your tea, this time it is on me, and after I may help you pack."

"Thank you…. I do not have that much to pack anyway. And I will not wait anyone to got back home. I am really tired, and wish to be gone as fast as possible. Please tell Shinobu I am sorry. She is the only one I regret leaving this way, but right now I really want to look for myself a bit. Keitaro states with dreary eyes…"
Haruka leaves the Tea Shop with one of her helpers, and goes with Keitaro back to the dorm, to help him pack. This time things went over the top. Jeez, the girls will not take this lightly, but I doubt they will ever concede on being worried about Kei. All but Shinobu and me of course .Oh Kei,I hope you find yourself what you are looking for. You really need…And deserve.

That night, at Hinata sou:

"Well, minna san…as it seems, Keitaro has had enough." Haruka tells her audience, everybody seating at the living room, which seemed a bit cold suddenly.

"Enough of what! He failed again! And on top of that, he thinks that is an excuse to leave his responsibilities behind! What kind of child he is?" states a fazed and a bit annoyed Narusegawa Naru.

Haruka glares at her statement.

"Indeed…He should never neglect his responsibilities as kanrinning, or he should relinquish his position and leave this house". States an also unmoved Motoko, with a faint annoyance appearing in her eyes.

At these comments, a vein pops out on Haruka´s head, but she manages to keep calm and steady They will not unphase me…not yet! Thinks Haruka.
"Uh…Girls…But what we will do without our kanrinning to take care of things around here?" Says a slightly frowned Kitsune. And he must be really down after this latest failure and the things Naru told me… She adds mentally, something starting to surface inside her.

"Oh, Sempai….Why?" Wails little Shinobu.

Looking at the young girl, Haruka says: "Listen Shinobu, he asked me personally to tell you to not worry. He will be back, and the last thing he wants is to see you saddened by anything he does. Cheer up. This will be good for him. And even regretting saying goodbye to you before leaving, he wanted me to tell you this".

At this statement she got a bit calmer, but she is still sad and worried about the well being of Keitaro...But she also got very happy for he thought about her so much as to leave this message with Haruka. Sorry Sempai if I let you down… Thinks Shinobu.

Kaolla is like always. Things hardly get to her anyway. But deep down she got a bit concerned. Despite her way with him, she liked Keitaro a lot.

"The Baka now is even upsetting the little ones with his…" Naru just started her ranting when Haruka finally snapped. The room temperature dropped dramatically instantly! Moving in a blur, she slaps Narusegawa HARD in her face, making her fall from the couch, sprawling into the carpet. " THAT´S ENOUGH MISSY! He IS the kanrinning here, and besides, he is a human being, even though some of you seem to see it differently. YOU and Motoko do treat him in a hardly respectful way, and what he really did to you ALL to receive the kind of treatment you have given him lately? Naru...You do not NEED to like him at all, but at least be a little mindful. The boy opened his heart to you, and although you really do not need to abide to his dreams, and I personally would oppose to such now, you own him a little respect, for he cared about you all, and you Narusegawa (That came with venom to her tongue.) in particular, a lot! As it happens, he DOES have some one else to talk and confide besides you…Some one who would not trample over him! Otherwise he would be a very lonely person, by the way you treated him. And this someone will not hold back to act against senseless injustice here anymore!"

Narusegawa was speechless. Anger could be seen into her face, and shock for what just happened, her cheek stinging like hell.

Motoko saw for an instant something about Haruka she never really noticed before. She was extremely dangerous when provoked. Motoko was not as much good as her sisters on feeling someone's Ki, but Haruka for a brief moment shone blindly bright…and in that brief moment, she understood that if she was to face Haruka in combat (not likely though..) she would not last even 5 seconds…That was scary, specially noticing how upset the woman was right now. Only Tsuruko or Yumiko were so dangerous in combat, to her knowledge…And she remembered that Tsuruko knew Haruka personally. Do her sisters know how skilled and controlled the woman was? For she never showed that side before. But she would not ask. Her sisters unnerve her every time they talk.

"And Motoko…You, of all the girls, should know better!" At this moment Motoko froze…if she was going to receive the same as Naru, she would never notice it coming before way too late. And there was sadness on Haruka´s voice.

Haruka´s outburst spent itself fast, but those who really know the woman would be very aware…She was a springcoil, ready to bolt again. Her self control took over again, and she addresses everyone in the room.

"I promised my nephew I would take care of things while he is away, and that I will do! As I have my Tea Shop to tender as well, there will be rules and tasks to be met with, and I really DO EXPECT your full cooperation on this. Now I will leave you all to ponder a bit about the events . And I expect some changes in the future".

Haruka stands up, and start heading to the door, when she hears Naru "humpf" and start back to her room. The other girls were still seated, thinking about what just happened tonight.

YOU, of all the girls, received his most attention and tenderness…I did not expect you to reciprocate equally, and now nor even want it, but at least I expected you to treat him like a friend, and not a punch bag and door mat…You many times seemed to care…to even worry about him…But at the end, you were probably just enjoying his attention…Who does not like to be the center of attentions of someone else. Especially someone so good to be around... But the way you utterly trampled over his heart, his dreams…Ah Naru…Really, you could have turned him down oh so many times without so much disdain. And even now I saw doubts on your eyes, I can feel it you noticing it or not…You are so immature…and the nerve to call him childish... She sighs. Things gonna change, they like it, or not! She finally thinks, while heading back to her Tea Shop.

That night the dorm tenants went to sleep early. Not much left to be said and done.
Narusegawa Naru, feeling sad …and angry…closed herself fast to her room. Her left cheek stinging HARD. Your fault…all your fault...Baka!

Aoyama Motoko also angry, but not sure if with herself or with the kanrinning, also went to her room and to a troubled sleep. I need to think…to ponder all this…I am feeling weird…Why? But Urashima is responsible for this mess…again!

Once more Motoko goes to the fast and easy track.

Kaolla Su, strangely, did not follow Motoko, but instead went to her room, whispering "onii chan…gommen neh" in a very low voice.

Konno Mitsune, pensative and little ashamed ofherself, drank 2 glasses of sake and tried to relax enough to sleep. The feeling she cherished so much, of happiness and energy which usually permeates Hinata sou totally amiss tonight…and she thought about the oh so many times she abused of Keitaro´s good will, to get money for HER OWN needs, or tricked him into a situation where invariably he got beaten by Naru or Motoko. Am I really that way? Uhh, I am not feeling good… Keitaro… The sake made no real relaxation, but she did not wish to drink more. She wanted to be sober and sleep straight that night, if at all possible.

Deep down Kitsune was a good girl…And she was thinking about the past events, and even the attitudes her best friend had lately.

Shinobu went to bed a bit sad for his Sempai, but with a clear conscience. She liked him a lot, and wished the best for him…If this time out was good for him, she would support him! And he wanted her to know he would be back! that much she knew from Haruka.Sleep well, Sempai, wherever you are now…I hope to see you soon, and well! Thinks Shinobu before fallen asleep.

Urashima Haruka went to bed still worried about Keitaro, but yet happy that he seemed to have started to wake up to himself. Things will change aroundhere..! and I will be sure to enforce those changes!

Maehara Shinobu and Urashima Haruka were the only ones that night that slept well, although concerned for Urashima Keitaro…

End Chapter 1