I wrote this story for a Halloween challenge, which would explain why I'm releasing it in February. Try not to take it too seriously, because I certainly didn't.

A Different Kind of Immortality

A Love Hina fic

By Legendary Legacy

Standard Disclaimer: Love Hina and its characters belong to Ken Akamatsu and those that he gave the rights to. The plot is, to the best of my knowledge, my own.

Enjoy. Or don't. Whichever.

Keitaro stared up at the enormous Hinata Inn looming above him. He looked very much like a man at the end of a long and arduous journey.

"Hinata Sou," he muttered; a touch of nostalgia in his voice. "I can't believe it's taken me so long to come back." As he began ascending the much-to-long stairway, his thoughts returned to the last time he'd come here some number of years ago, and one of the reasons why he was currently back now. "On the bright side, grandma is sure to have found a way to fix me after all this time."

Reaching the top of the stairs, he walked to the door and slowly pushed it open. Sticking his head inside, he glanced around, finding no one in sight.

"Hello?" he called. "Grandma? Aunt Haruka? Anyone?"

Receiving no answer, he slipped into the building, setting his suitcase a few feet from the door. He briefly wondered if he should just wait at the doorway until someone came by and saw him; the place was large enough that he wouldn't rule it out as being empty just because no one had heard him calling.

In the end, he decided against that, choosing instead to go searching for someone himself. With luck, he'd find Grandma Hina or Aunt Haruka first and, if not, he'd just explain who he was to whomever he did meet. It wasn't like he was breaking and entering or anything: This place had been like a second home to him when he was younger. Maybe he'd check out his old room while he was at it. And knowing the eccentricities of his grandma, there was no telling what sort of changes she'd made to the rest of the place over the years.

He hadn't gone very far when he came upon a large and luxurious-looking outdoor hot spring. "This wasn't here the last time, was it?" he wondered curiously. Maybe he'd test it out? He glanced down both ends of the hallway. Still seeing no one around, he decided to go for it. Grandma would want him to make himself at home anyway, he surmised.

Ten minutes later found Keitaro enjoying a little slice of heaven. The hot waters felt absolutely wonderful on his tired body, as though it were soaking right down to his bones and soothing away all the built up stress and discomfort he hadn't even realized he'd accumulated for who knew how long.

But he was going to have to get out and continue his search. Besides, he wouldn't want someone to walk in on him by accident. Grandma Hina and Aunt Haruka wouldn't mind, but if anyone else that happened to be staying here...well, that would probably be awkward. So, grabbing his towel and tying it around his waist, he made his way back inside.

But as he reached for the door, it decided to slide open without his help. It came as such a shock to him that he was unable to stop his still extending hand before it came to rest on the next closest thing.

Keitaro and the newcomer, a girl, as fate would so tragically have it, stared at each other for several seconds in a horrible, unbroken silence.

Now maybe, just maybe Keitaro would have been able to convince the graciously endowed girl in front of him that this had been just a horrible accident. The chances were definitely slim, but not completely out of the question that the girl might let him off easy for the mishap. Unfortunately, even if she'd allowed him the chance, he simply wouldn't have been able to come up with a proper excuse for why his hand would betray him, and choose that exact moment to give another experimental squeeze before he could pull it away.

The girl's face twitched.

Somehow, he didn't think he'd be lucky enough to escape this situation in any way as preferable as 'awkward'.

Narusagawa Naru had frozen in place, all bodily functions slowing to a crawl as her mind tried its damnedest to assess the situation properly.

She had come downstairs to take a bath, expecting her best friend Kitsune to meet her there. She'd undressed, opened the door to the spring, and immediately found herself face to face with someone. Before she'd had time to cry out in surprise, she'd felt a hand on her breast.

Now, for a very brief moment, Naru had chalked the incident up to a gag by Kitsune. She'd already removed her glasses, thereby severely diminishing her eyesight, and God knew that the two were always doing things like this in the bath; teasing and fondling at one another in an attempt to embarrass each other (Kitsune, being the far less modest of the two, always seemed to win these games).

However, thanks to those same teasing games, Naru now had a knowledge of her best friend's chest that was about as intimate as could be without actually having been...intimate...with them.

And she also wasn't so blind that she couldn't see exactly how flat the person standing before her was, which Kitsune most certainly was not.

To make matters worse, a quick look down brought her to the undeniable conclusion that this person was also a guy; Or a magician practicing a peculiar levitating towel trick for her amusement.

It didn't really need to be mentioned just how not amused she was.

And then he squeezed her breast again, and she became...even less amused. He apparently realized this as he finally pulled his hand away; clutching it to his own chest as though it had been scalded.

"...Um-" was about as far as he got before she closed her eyes, reared back, and dealt him her mightiest of haymakers, guaranteed to expel him from the Hinata grounds completely, or embed him deep enough into the far-end wall as to give the others enough time to call the police, depending on wind currents and whether she hooked her shot properly or not.

Or so she had intended, anyway. Instead, she heard a rather disturbing 'pop', followed by something rebounding off of said wall and splashing into the water, while something larger hit the ground next to her.

She opened her eyes, and instantly went into another reboot.

Stepping back and shutting the sliding door again quickly, she used a shaky hand to reposition her glasses upon her deathly ashen face. She took a minute to convince herself that she hadn't actually seen what she thought she'd saw, took a deep, calming breath, and slowly slid the door back open.

...Nope, the body of her mysterious intruder slash molester was still lying there. Headless. And spasming ever so slightly.

She looked up. Oh, and there was the head, bobbing around lazily in the hot spring like some kind of nightmarish bath toy.

...She shut the door again, and took another breath, much deeper than the last one and not a fraction as calming.

Then she let it out. Loudly.

The shriek could easily be heard throughout the building. Its intensity caused Shinobu to drop the basket of laundry she'd been carrying and give a startled cry of her own. It caused Kitsune to fall off her bed, spilling sake everywhere in the process. It caused Su to choke on a half-eaten banana. It caused Motoko, who was in the middle of a kata, to lose her grip on her blade, sending it sailing out of her hands and spinning across the room where it buried itself deep into her wall. And it caused Haruka, who was not even in the house, but down at her teashop, to glance up from her paper and check the time on her watch.

"Keitaro must be early," she mumbled as she snuffed out her cigarette and began walking leisurely back up to the dorm.

As the screams stopped reverberating through the house, Kitsune, Motoko and Shinobu quickly converged in the living room, where they were met mere moments later by a stark naked and stark-raving hysterical Naru.

"Naru, what! What's wrong!" Kitsune demanded as her best friend collapsed against her. Shinobu, having no idea what else to do, grabbed a blanket off the couch and draped it over Naru's shoulders. Whatever the situation might be, the older girl probably shouldn't be naked during it.

"B-bathroom...wasn't...d-didn't mean...but...head...oh God oh god oh god-"

"Naru, calm down!" she had to shout over the younger girl's rambling sobs. "Just...take a deep breath."

Naru did so.

"Good. Now, tell us what happened."

Looking about as composed as one could possibly expect, given her situation, she opened her mouth to speak.

"Err, excuse me?"

Only to have it clamp down so hard she was surprised that none of her teeth chipped. She very slowly turned her head to face where everyone else was already looking. At the entrance of the same hallway she'd just run down, stood the man from the bathroom; dripping wet, clothes thrown on in noticeable haste, head back on his shoulders...

"Who are you?" Kitsune demanded of the stranger, who held his hands up in a placating manner.

"I swear I can explain this if you'll all just hear me-"

Naru picked that moment to faint, slipping right through her distracted friend's arms and hitting the floor.

"...out," the boy finished weakly, as though he had fully expected such a reaction from her.

But while Shinobu looked properly torn between terrified and completely lost and Kitsune was busy tending to Naru, Motoko's eyes narrowed to slits and her grip on her sword tightened, feeling that she'd already heard enough.

The bath, an unknown male who had obviously been naked up to a few moments ago, a distraught maiden...

No, Motoko didn't need any further explanations. So, without a word, she raised her sword, catching the man's attention in the process.

"Wait! Please don't-!" he begged right before a streak of ki energy flew toward him. He had no time to move and barely enough time to squeeze his eyes shut in anticipation of the blow before the wave passed right through his upper body and slammed fiercely into the wall behind him. Blinking in surprise, he turned his head to look at the damage done behind him, then looked down at himself, wondering what had happened.

As surprised as he was, it didn't come close to Motoko's shock. How could this be? The only technique the Gods-Cry School had that could harmlessly pass through anyone was the Cutting Evil Slash; a technique she hadn't even learned yet! This male should be unconscious right now! So how was it possible that he would remain completely unhar-?

The male's arms fell off.

…Completely unarmed.

If she weren't so horrified she'd have reprimanded herself for even thinking up such an awful pun.

The left arm had been cleanly severed just below the shoulder, the other right above the elbow. For such grievous wounds, there was an unusual lack of blood, not that anyone really noticed or cared at the moment.

The man was oddly calm, considering how disfigured he'd just become. Instead of panicking, screaming, going catatonic, or dying like any normal person probably would in his place, he just sort of deflated with a look of tired resignation on his face.

"Ah," he muttered right before his head and chest slid away from the lower half of his body, hitting the ground with an audible thump. The lower half of his body remained standing in place for three seconds longer before the legs gave out, dropping down next to the rest of his parts.

With a strangled moan, Shinobu's eyes rolled back and she collapsed as well.

Motoko's sword fell from limp hands. That...that was not supposed to happen.

"You killed him!" Kitsune pointed out rather unnecessarily.

"I...but I...I wasn't even...it shouldn't-" the kendoist stammered. Kitsune spoke again, but Motoko wasn't really listening anymore. This was bad. So very, very bad. It hadn't been her intention to kill him; just inflict as many non-life threatening injuries as she could before turning him over to the proper authorities. The Aoyama clan had a strict code about preserving human life, except in very specific cases. And whether this attempted-rapist male had deserved it or not (and since she didn't doubt that he WAS an attempted-rapist, then he certainly did deserve it as far as she was concerned), she was also certain that he wouldn't fall into one of those specific cases.

And now? Not only had she murdered a stranger and traumatized her housemates (especially little Shinobu) in the process, but what would happen when her SISTER found out about it? Such dishonorable and sloppy actions reflecting on their family's good name, Tsuruko would probably…well, she wouldn't kill her, obviously, because that wasn't one of the specific cases, either. But Motoko would lay a thousand to one odds that death would be the preferable option to what Tsuruko would have in mind for her.

"Okay, okay…let's just stay calm," Kitsune said, though she looked and sounded anything but. Motoko realized she must have been ranting throughout her own mental doomsday. "We should just…find Haruka, call the police-"

Motoko shivered. Easy for her to say; she hadn't been the one who'd just cleaved someone in half. And it wasn't like the police were likely to know anything at all about ki-based sword techniques. How do you explain to someone with no prior knowledge that the large, destructive energy wave you flung from your sword was only supposed to incapacitate the victim, not dismember him?

Kitsune was still talking. "And we should move Naru and Shinobu before they wake up and see-"

"Excuse me?"

Both girls froze in their panicking and turned back in disbelief to the dead half-body, who was doing a very unconvincing job of being dead by propping itself onto its stubbed shoulder while the other partial arm made small gestures toward its severed remains.

"Um, before you do anything else...could one of you maybe help me reattach one of my arms?" he asked in a mixture of hope and sheepishness. "I uh...I can probably do the rest myself, but...well, without any hands it's sort of-"

Both girls finally lost the last of their resolve and joined Naru and Shinobu in unconsciousness.

"...difficult," he finished weakly. While not unexpected after so many years, it never stopped being a pain. He slowly began rocking back and forth; shifting himself the best he could toward his severed limbs.

He'd nearly managed to position his right arm into proper alignment when he realized he was being watched. Looking up, he saw just how closely watched he actually was. Kneeling down on her haunches directly above him was a well-tanned, foreign-looking blonde girl in a middle-school uniform. With her elbows propped on her knees and her chin resting in her hands, she appeared to be studying him rather intently.

The intense scrutiny started making him nervous. "Um…please don't scream or pass out or anything like that," he begged.

"Okay," the girl answered with a small shrug.

He blinked. Most people, especially young girls, weren't quite this understanding when they saw him like this. "Oh, well…good then."

"I'm surprised you can still speak coherently. Most zombies that I've seen never manage more than grunts and single-syllable sentences." She reached out and poked his face a few times. "'Course, you don't look as rotten as most zombies do, either. So maybe you just died and reanimated recently enough that you haven't started deteriorating yet."

Keitaro sweatdropped. "I'm not a zombie."

"Uh-huh," she muttered, unconvinced as she tilted his waist and legs around to examine the insides of his torso. "Well, your insides aren't green or filled with circuitry, so it's safe to say you're not an alien or an android. So what else could you possibly be but a zombie? ...And how do you keep all your organs from spilling out? Glue 'em all into place or something?"

Keitaro had never had very much long-term interaction with any girl, usually only about as long as the first time he found himself in a similar situation as this one around them. And he found himself in a situation similar to this one on an almost daily basis.

Yet he was still pretty sure that this particular girl was one of the stranger ones that he would ever come across. "N-no, they just...they just do that. It's really complicated. Look, could you maybe help put me back together? I'd really like to be in one piece before the others wake up and start screaming again."

The girl tilted her head to the side, her eyes rolling up to the ceiling in thought. "Weeeell...I suppose I could, but how do I know you won't try to eat my friend's brains afterward?"

"I don't eat brains!"

"Oh, so you're strictly a flesh-eating type of zombie then?"

"I'm not a zombie!"

"Okay, okay, I'll humor you. But just so you know, I have stakes and silver bullets in my room, so you'd better not get any ideas, 'kay?"

"Those things don't kill…oh, never mind. I'll be good, I swear, just please help me!"

Feeling satisfied, she picked up his left arm.

"Just press the two ends together," he instructed, holding the remains of his arm out toward her.

She did as she was told, pressing the two severed ends together and holding them there. Almost immediately, the tissues began mending right before their eyes. In a matter of seconds, the arm was whole again, without so much as a scar to indicate that it hadn't been so all along.

"Cooool," the girl breathed in awe as Keitaro waved and shook his arm gingerly.

"Thanks, I guess."

"I can't wait to get you in my room and figure out how you do that!"

"…T-thanks, I…guess."

As the two continued their work of reassembling him, the others slowly began to come around.

"Oh wow," Kitsune mumbled, rubbing her head as she sat up. "I almost never have dreams like that. Maybe I didn't drink enough before going to bed…"

Did Kitsune talk me into getting drunk or something? Naru wondered, mimicking her friend's actions. …Am I still naked?

Various other mutterings were made as the four girls helped each other to their feet, trying to recall exactly what had brought them all to this position in the first place.

"All done!" they heard Su shout happily. Together, they all turned in her direction.

"What the-? Aw geez, you put my legs on backward!"

And they all promptly fainted together again. And it was at this point that Haruka happened to walk through the door. Her eyes swept the room once, taking the situation in fully before settling on her ass-backward nephew.

"I have to say, this isn't nearly as bad as I was expecting," she told him, to which he could only grin weakly.

This was only intended to be a one-shot for a challenge, so I didn't really plot or write anything out beyond this point. I know it feels unfinished, and if I could think up a plausible excuse for Keitaro's new problem without turning the thing into a crossover, I might go with it.

For now, at least, consider it a case similar to my other fic, "In an Unsightly Manner", a one-shot with the possibility of future continuation. Or, if the idea somehow intrigues you enough, consider this a prompt and make up your own story out of it. Your choice, really.

In any case, have a lovely day.