Love Hina belongs to Ken Akamatsu, not me. I'm just having a bit of fun with his characters.
Kitsune lounged on the couch, taking light sips from the small sake bottle she held. The lukewarm alcohol burned pleasantly as it went down. It was a lovely afternoon in midsummer, and she and Naru had been enjoying it together. They'd had lunch at a cafe in town, gone shopping together, and now had returned home to drink. Naru was sticking to Oolong tea, while Kitsune went straight for her preferred fermented rice beverage.
Kitsune grinned. Naru had drank 3 teas already. That was her usual buzz threshold. Time for girl talk!
"So, Naru, when are you going to give in to Keitaro? He's crazy about you, and he's getting to be a better catch every day. He's made it into Todai, has been acting a lot less clumsy the last couple months since he had that last growth spurt, and you can see how he is with Sara. He's obviously going to be a good father."
Naru looked at her friend with a bemused expression. Two tiny spots of redness adorned her cheeks, making her look like she was blushing. She glanced at the ceiling as they could hear Su and Sara gallop overhead, playing another of their endless games. The thumping footfalls faded into the distance as Naru responded.
"I don't know, Kitsune. I like the way Keitaro feels about me, it's flattering, but I'm just not certain I want to be tied down to him. I feel like there's something unfinished that I have to resolve first. If I was sure I loved him, I could admit it, but I'm just not sure. I don't even know why I'm not. He's a perv from time to time, but you're right. He's getting better."
"Unfinished business, Naru? You mean Seta?" Kitsune blushed slightly, thinking of the man she still had a crush on.
"Maybe," said Naru. "I really liked him for a long time. Maybe I haven't let go of that in my heart yet. I wonder how I can move on. I don't want to be indecisive for the rest of my life."
Kitsune chuckled richly, a smirk riding her lips. "It certainly wouldn't be fair to poor Keitaro."
Naru got a sad look on her face. "No, it wouldn't be. And I know I want him to be happy. That much I know for sure."
Seta stood with his hand raised to knock on the door, frozen in motion.
Little Naru liked him? She couldn't move on and date the part-timer because of it? Incredible! 'I have to help Keitaro out here, but how?'
Seta paced back and forth for a moment before slapping his fist into his palm. 'Perfect! I'll invite her to come along on my next dig and she'll get the chance to see what I'm really like. She probably has just been nursing a schoolgirl crush because I was older and nice to her. Once she sees I'm a man like any other, she'll have no problem moving on. I'm such a genius!'
With that resolved, he knocked on the door and called for his daughter.
Keitaro stammered, "W-what do you mean, leaving?"
Naru smiled at him reassuringly. "Seta is going on a dig down in Okinawa and invited me to come along. I decided it would be a nice way to spend the summer, so I'm going."
Keitaro shuffled his foot on the ground, and stared at Naru's feet. "I was hoping we could find time to do stuff together this summer. Will you even be back in time to go to the beach with everyone?"
Naru blushed slightly and took Keitaro's hand. He marveled at how soft her hands were and turned bright red."No. But I'll only be away for two months, Keitaro. I'll be back before school starts. We'll have time then to hang out."
If anything, Keitaro looked more depressed at her assurances. "Okay, Naru. I guess we'll hang out then. I hope you have a good summer, then."
With that, he trudged up the stars to his room.
Keitaro sat at the dinner table, mechanically eating his food, not tasting it, or even really aware of what it was he was eating. His only thoughts were of how lonely he was going to be with Naru gone. He looked around the table at the other residents, Kitsune cheering Naru on for getting to spend summer in such a nice place, Shinobu, scurrying around making sure everyone was well fed. Su and Sara were finishing up their food and he could see by the gleam in their eye that they were plotting something. Motoko was speaking with Seta, apparently discussing various combat tactics and the strengths of various fighting styles.
He sighed to himself and thought, 'At least I'll have all my friends here. And it's not that different from when I went to America for six months. Naru waited for me then. I can wait for her now.'
With that realization, much of his depression lifted, and he was able to smile again and join in the dinner conversation.
"Just what do you think you're doing, Seta?"
"I'm doing my part-timer a favor, Haruka."
The two sat at a table in Haruka's tea shop. Haruka speared Seta with a steely glare.
"Just how do you figure that. Taking his girlfriend away for two months isn't normally a good thing."
Seta's grin morphed into a knowing look, and he raised his hand in his "Teaching Posture" and said, "I know. But this is different."
He leaned forward confidentially, and told her, "I overheard Naru and Kitsune talking. Apparently, Naru has had a crush on me ever since I was her tutor years ago. Apparently she's been nursing it so long, she's having a hard time moving on and accepting the real thing. So I figured if I took her along and gave her a chance to see what a hard guy I am to get along with, she'd get over it and be able to date Keitaro."
Haruka exhaled fiercely, blowing smoke all over Seta.
"You are a moron, Noriyasu."
There was a moment of silence in the teahouse as Seta was unwilling to contradict her.
"But your heart is in the right place here. I don't know if this is a good idea, but anything that helps those two get together and stop beating around the bush is alright in my book."
Seta smiled at the cigarette smoking woman.
"I'm glad. Of course, I had another idea that could have the same effect."
Haruka raised an eyebrow. "What's that?"
Seta got a silly grin on his face and said, "You could always marry me, Haruka darling. If I was off the market, Naru would no doubt have an easier time moving on. What do you think about an Okinawan honeymoon?"
Haruka slapped him with a fan, snorting. "You expect me to go on a dig for my honeymoon, Seta? You asshole. Forget it. It's not going to happen."
"Sara's mother was okay with it. She seemed to enjoy herself."
Haruka's eyes flashed with anger.
"Oh, because my best friend enjoyed it means I will too, huh? Guess what, I'm not her. Get the hell out of my teahouse, Seta."
Keitaro drove Naru and Seta to the airport. Sara tagged along to say goodbye to her dad. As they unloaded the luggage, Seta pulled Keitaro aside.
"Now, part-timer, I'm sure that you are none too happy about Naru going away for the summer, but I think when we get back, she's going to have something to tell you that will make you very happy."
Keitaro looked surprised, but pleased. 'You really think so, Seta?"
His professor slapped him on the shoulder and said, "Yeah, Keitaro. I really do."
Two Months Later:
Keitaro swept the sidewalk in front of the entrance of Hinata House. Today was the day that Seta, and more importantly, Naru would be getting home. He wanted the place looking its best so that they would feel welcome and glad to be back.
He heard a shout from above him where Sara and Su were hanging over the balcony.
Sara and Su leaped over the railing, bouncing off Keitaro's shoulders before touching down. They charged across the lawn and down the stairs. After he picked himself up off the sidewalk and grabbed his broom, Keitaro saw Seta and Naru come walking up the same stairs. Seta had Sara up in a one-armed hug, her arms wrapped tightly around his neck while Su danced excitedly around the three of them.
Keitaro's heart froze in his chest as he saw why Seta only used one arm to hug his daughter. His other hand was firmly grasping Naru's. Keitaro, desperate to know what was going on, hoping he was misunderstanding, looked hard at Naru's face. The faint expression of sadness there nearly killed him.
Seta set Sara down and rubbed his free hand against the back of his neck, clearly nervous about what was coming next.
"Heh. Sorry, part-timer. Things didn't work out quite as planned."
To be continued.