Author's Note: Yay! My first dabbles into Love Hina fanfiction. First of all, disclaimer, I don't own Love Hina. Second of all, if this sucks, do tell. ^_^
Chapter 1: Passing Isn't Everything
Hello there. My name is Keitaro Urashima and I am 20 years old. My current occupation is a prospective undergraduate student and the manger of an all girls dormitory. It seems an odd combination, I know, but it's a long story how I ended up in this position. As a prospective undergraduate student, I am failing miserably. I've tried twice to get accepted into Tokyo University and I have twice failed. As an all girls dormitory manager, I didn't have much luck either as I am often on the end of some serious beatings. Being the only male in a place full of girls didn't come with as many perks as I had imagined. It just fits in with the rest of my sad life and my lack of luck with girls. A well as never having any sort of luck, I was nowhere near clever enough to get into Tokyo University. I didn't have any other talents like playing a sport or musical instrument either. Most people would call me hopeless. I'd prefer to call myself an unrealistic dreamer.
Dreaming about getting in is all I can do. It stems back from a long gone memory from my childhood where I had promised this girl that I would get into Tokyo University with her and live happily ever after. It was a silly promise because I was only 5 years old at the time and I didn't realise how difficult it was to get into Tokyo University. It was made even sillier by the fact that I didn't remember that girl's name or even how she looked like. I was a dreamer all right; chasing a dream I had absolutely no idea about. That left me in my current situation of desperately trying to study for the upcoming entrance exam and desperately trying to manage this crazy place called the Hinata Inn.
"Keitaro!" called out Mitsune. "Why haven't you started cooking the rice?"
I sighed heavily. Yet again, my studies had been disrupted by the trivialities of domestic chores of which I had to do the lion's share of. It was an uneasy truce held in between the girls and I. As long as I did most of the housework, they would leave me alone for the most part. However, I still managed to get myself into trouble every now and then and that usually involved lots of pain for me. I'm not too fond of pain. It tends to hurt.
"About time," Mitsune chuckled as I arrived in the kitchen. Mitsune Konno, or Kitsune as she was often referred to, was a busty, lazy alcoholic with no shame. As a result, she was incredibly fun to be around. Still, she liked to work me hard. "Why can't you just do it?" I asked forlornly. "You know I'm studying."
"Does it look like I know how to cook rice?" Mitsune laughed heartedly. That was right. All Mitsune knew how to do was to pull pranks on people and drink stupid amounts of beer and sake in the middle of the day. I sighed again, getting to work on cooking the rice in this archaic old fire driven cooker.
Barely minutes after the rice was done, I was expected to set the table. This time, it was Naru who was slave driving me. Naru Narusegawa was a rare breed who was very intelligent yet highly attractive at the same time. She still had her shortcomings however and for her, it was her very short temper. I had suffered many times as a result of it. Still, she was also the one who was the most empathetic when it came to me staying at this old inn. She even discovered that I wasn't a Tokyo University student like everyone else assumed and still let me away with it. Still, that secret quickly slipped and I was beaten as a result of it. I guess in many ways, Naru would prefer it if she didn't had to beat me so often but because of how careless I am, that could never happen. Like me, Naru is also trying for Tokyo University and with her currently being the number one student in Japan for mock entrance exams, it was a sure fire bet that she would be getting in.
Helping me set the table was Shinobu Maehara. She was the youngest in the dormitory and the only one who could really cook. As a result, she happily did most of the cooking and also the laundry as the girls were hardly eager for me to see some of their undergarments. I'm glad Shinobu did the laundry as it meant less potential beatings for me. Shinobu came across as shy but nice which was okay for me. And she doesn't take part in what now had become an almost ritualistic ceremony of kicking the crap out of me for which she has my appreciation.
The other two residents of the inn appeared once dinner was served. Kaollo Su was the second youngest resident of the dorm and by far the most crazy and hyperactive. Instead of saying hello like most people, she usually kicks me which was both quirky and painful. The other resident was Motoko Aoyama who appeared much older than her age due to her height. She is the resident martial artist and swordswoman. Give her anything resembling a sword and she quickly becomes very, very scary. I tend to avoid her as she beats me almost as often as Naru does.
After dinner, I was about to wash the dishes when Shinobu intervened. "It's okay Keitaro. I'll wash them. You have to study!" she said with a smile on that young face of hers.
"Huh? Are you sure? I could easily do them," I pointed out with uncertainty in my voice.
"It's fine! Go and study!" Shinobu insisted. So that was that. I headed off to my room, closed my door and dove straight into the books. The exam was perilously close and it was only now that I was beginning to understand some of this stuff. Better late than never I guess but still, it would have been better three years ago when I first tried to get into Tokyo University.
While studying mathematics which was by far my weakest subject, I heard some noise from above me. I looked up to see Naru moving the board that covered the hole in my ceiling. My room was directly below Naru's and if she ever possessed the desire to speak to me from her room it was made quick and easy with that hole. "Hey Keitaro," Naru said, peering down into my room. "Studying hard?"
"Yeah," I replied. "I'm finally getting the hang of some of this stuff."
"Really? That's good. Mind if I come down and study with you? I'm bored on my own," Naru requested.
This was a rare opportunity where I got to spend time with a girl one on one yet in my mind, I knew that passing this exam was more important than the impossible task of trying to get with a girl like Naru. "The day after tomorrow is the day," Naru said with a smile. "I really do hope we pass."
"You'll pass," I noted without moving my head from my books.
"You're just saying that."
"You're the number one student in Japan," I pointed out. "There's no chance of you failing."
"Well, I'm still nervous about it," Naru said.
"Nervous?" I asked.
That was right. The Naru in front of me wasn't the same self assured Naru that I met when I first arrived. Ever since the date of the entrance exam drew closer, she appeared to have been getting more nervous and my suspicions had been proven true. It seemed even the great Naru Narusegawa got nervous about tests and exams. To be perfectly honest, I felt less anxious that I would have at this point. That was maybe because I had gone through this whole process twice already and despite failing both times, I was used to it all. Or maybe I had just resigned myself to the fact that I'll most likely fail.
The two of us kept working and before I knew it, it was one in the morning. I sighed, hoping that I had done enough for today. I glanced over to Naru and noticed that her head was right into her books. I didn't think she'd be studying that intensely. I moved closer to her only to find that she wasn't moving at all and breathing quite deeply and regularly. "She's…asleep?" I said out loud in surprise. I tried to shake her awake but all that did was to make her murmur in her sleep. "No Kitsune…I don't want to drink the whole…bottle of sake…" When it was clear that she would not be waking up, I weighed up my options. Did I risk sleeping in the same room as her which might end up very badly for me? Probably not. I placed my blanket over Naru's sleeping form and opted to sleep out in the living room. As I lay there, I immediately realised how cold it was, being February and all. Still, I assumed it was the right thing to do.
"You're an idiot Keitaro," Naru muttered as she brought some hot tea to my room. I sneezed loudly, having caught the cold from sleeping on the sofa in the living room. I didn't have a blanket either as I had given that to Naru. "This is the worst time for you to get ill with the exam tomorrow and everything," Naru added.
"It's okay. I can still study," I pointed out.
"If he's well enough to study, then won't he be well enough to do some of the chores?" asked Kitsune hopefully.
"Surely you can't be serious," Naru said with a sigh. "Just for today, let him off, okay?"
"Whatever. It doesn't actually bother me anyway. I just don't like seeing good manpower not being put to use!" Mitsune laughed before walking off.
"That Kitsune," Naru muttered. "Anyway, are you sure you're okay?"
"I'm fine," I said before sneezing again.
"Well, okay. I'll leave you to study," Naru said.
I blew my nose and sighed, not realising the possible side affects of my random act of kindness. Then again, I think having a cold over getting beaten to within an inch of my life seemed a fair enough deal. With nothing to do except study, I guess that was the best course of action. Maybe this was a good thing because there were no possible distractions. No distractions meant there was nothing to stop me powering on with my work! With renewed vigour, I opened my books and charged headlong into studying.
"Keitaro?" said a quiet sounding voice. I opened my eyes slowly to see Shinobu standing up beside my desk. "Huh…what?" I asked.
"Lunch is ready," she replied.
"Lunch?" I asked, not quite sure where I was. Then it hit me. "SHIT!!! SHINOBU??!! HOW LONG WAS I ASLEEP?!!" I yelled in a blind panic.
"I…I don't know! Sorry!" Shinobu cried before running away from my room.
"Oh…crap. I didn't mean to…" I said slowly.
"Did you make Shinobu cry again?" asked a very annoyed Naru.
"AAH! Naru! Where did you come from?!" I exclaimed, shocked that she had seemingly come out of nowhere. She answered me with her fist which sent me flying back into my room and crashing against the wall. Words don't do the pain I felt justice.
"You should know better than to make Shinobu cry like that. Now if I were you I'd go and apologise to her," Naru said.
"O…kay," I said as I peeled myself from the wall. After Naru stormed off, I check my vital signs as well as my limbs to check for broken bones. Thankfully, I was uninjured but I still wanted to know how hard Naru had to punch me to send me flying like that. I'm sure there were laws of physics that went against it.
After hastily apologising to Shinobu, I took my lunch and ate it in my room to save a tense meal with Naru at the other end of the table. After I had finished eating, I checked where I had gotten to with my studying. Thankfully, I had managed to do at least two hours of work before I had dosed off like an idiot. I read over those notes again and set about cramming until it hurt. This could be make or break for me and I needed every single second to count. I pressed onwards, not stopping for anyone or anything. However, once the clock struck three o'clock, I was so bored, it hurt. I stood up, stretched my arms and legs before going out of my room just to walk about.
"KEITARO!" cried who could only be Su as she kicked me in the face just as I had left my room. I fell down to the ground, writhing in agony, feeling like some of my teeth had been knocked out of place by that blow. "Owww…hi Su," I said as I brought myself to my feet.
"Why is Keitaro being so booooring?!" Su asked whilst running around me.
"I'm studying, Su," I replied, trying not to follow her around with my eyes so I didn't get dizzy.
"That's boring! Keitaro should come and play with me!" Su cried.
"Thanks, but no thanks. I'm just taking a walk to take a break," I explained, hoping that she would leave me alone. I don't have the energy to keep up with Su at all and even if I tried, it would leave nothing left in the tank to study.
"Aww! Oh well, good luck with trying to eat Toudai and everything!" Su said before running off.
"Thanks," I said, accepting Su's version of words of encouragement. She still thought Toudai was something edible, which I guess is quite cute.
I continued my walk outside and was immediately hit by the sharp cold. I had forgotten that I was slightly ill so I turned around to go back inside. However, I heard Motoko practicing her sword work up on the rooftop balcony. I moved to get a better view and saw her swinging her sword with such precision and grace. Her sword even seemed to cut the air. Once I saw that, I knew that I needed to put as much effort and dedication into this exam as Motoko had with her sword. I headed back in, reinvigorated and no longer bored of studying. In fact, I was raring to get going again which was a good sign.
The hours passed and evening fell over the Hinata Inn. I was still had at work which was surprising. Today had been my longest sustained period of studying of all time and I was feeling good about it. There were a few things I still wasn't quite sure about but I think I've got enough in me to really give this entrance exam a run for its money. I sat back after putting my pencil down on my desk and glanced over towards the clock. Eight o'clock. I thought we would have eaten dinner by now. This surely was strange so I decided to head out of my room. As soon as I opened the door, confetti and streamers exploded all over me as I was treated to a cry of "Good luck Keitaro!" from all the girls.
"Huh? What's this about?" I asked.
"Well, since your big exam is tomorrow, we all thought we'd through you a good luck party!" Kitsune explained.
"A good luck party?" I said, slightly confused as to why a party needed to be thrown for luck.
"Yup! Shinobu cooked an extra special meal and I got drinks for everyone! Let's party!" Kitsune cried. Before I could even utter a word of protest, I was in the living room with a drink in my hand and food on the table in front of my. Naru was next to me, looking fairly annoyed. "Did they drag you out too?" I asked. She responded curtly by nodding her head. She was clearly frustrated that she bent to peer pressure instead of studying. Still, Naru was a guaranteed pass for the entrance exam so a little party wouldn't hurt her chances at all.
When I meant a little party, I didn't quite envision this. I was drunk out of my mind, sitting back in my seat and staring at the ceiling. I never realised planks of wood could be so interesting to watch. "Kei…taro!" Naru said, grabbing my hand. "Stop being…boring. Come and dan…dance with us!"
"I can't Naruuuu!" I had replied. "I have an exhaam tomorrow!"
"So do I! Just dance! It'll be fine!" Naru said, slurring her speech very much in the process. So there I was, dancing with Naru and Mistune who were both as drunk as I was while Su jumped around like the hyper child she was, Motoko looked on in disgust and Shinobu watched in terror. What a way to pass the last night before my third attempt at the Tokyo University entrance exam.
"My head…" I muttered. Being hungover was not a handicap I appreciated right now as I sat in the lecture hall with the entrance exam paper sitting right in front of me waiting to be turned over. I looked over to Naru who was five seats to my left and it appeared as if was absolutely fine and clear from any alcohol ill-effects which was lucky for her. As my thoughts wondered, I considered the possibility that I was still drunk. As far as I was aware, I hadn't been drinking late enough to still be drunk. But I guess if I was still drunk, then I wouldn't be hungover. I shook my head, trying to clear any thoughts that would distract me from my exam. However, I immediately regretted it as I felt as if I was going to be sick right afterwards. I took a deep breath and waited for the examiner to let us begin. With my head throbbing, I turned my paper over and began the exam.
"I'm really nervous about this," Naru said. "Keitaro, what does it feel like to fail?"
I cringed hard. That was not the kind of question that I wanted to hear just now. "Naru…please," I said, hoping that she had some compassion in her.
"Oh, sorry," she apologised. "I'm just so nervous."
"Don't worry, you'll have passed," I said. "All it takes is to find your name and number on that board."
We had waited in absolute anguish for the publishing date of the reults of the exam and now the both of us were here, hopeful and expectant. I moved forward and looked hard for my number. I watched as people reacted to having either failed or passed the exam. Some girls were crying, some guys and girls were hugging each other in adulation. I was hoping to be of the latter variety but I didn't hold out too much hope for myself. If I failed twice, then who's to say that I won't fail again?
"Keitaro…Urashima?" I read off the board. I quickly got a hold of my student card and checked that the number matched. And it did. "I…passed. I…passed. I PASSED!" I cried, not caring that people would be looking at me funny. "Naru! Naru! Where are you! I passed the exam, I passed!" I pushed my way through the crowd to find Naru, hoping that we would be jumping and hugging like idiots when she found out I had passed as well. Instead, I saw tears running down her face when she looked me right in the eye. "Naru…?" I said slowly.
"Con…congratulations Keitaro. Looks like you finally made it in," Naru said before beginning to run away.
"Wait, Naru!" I yelled. "Stop running!"
"Leave me alone!" Naru cried as she disappearing into the distance.
I stood there, absolutely stunned that she hadn't passed. Maybe that party the night before had affected her. Maybe nerves had gotten the better of her. Whatever it was, Naru hadn't gotten into Tokyo University and I had. Suddenly, that promise I made 15 years ago didn't seem to matter anymore. I just wanted Naru to be happy just now and I knew that was impossible. Failing this entrance exam was the worst thing that could have happened for her and it was sadly made even worse by me passing it. Suddenly I wasn't so happy at getting into Tokyo University.
Author's Note: So there you have it, the first chapter which sets up the rest of the fic quite nicely! As always, reviews are welcome and hopefully I can update this soon!