AN: THIS IS THE THIRD TIME I UPLOAD THIS STORY. I HOPE IT'S ALSO THE LAST
AN2: Clearly not. This makes four. Damn.
AN3: This makes five. This is getting annoying...
The red haired manager
Many stories beginnings are set during thunderous storms or raging blizzards, as if the weather would bend to reflect humanity's ups and downs of life. In those stories the sky would rumble and cry in forewarning of the coming events.
What a load of crap.
Things, both good and bad, usually happens when you'd least expect them and the weather couldn't care less either way.
Shinobu Maehara could attest as much.
The events that brought a change in her unremarkable life happened on an unremarkable day, triggered by an equally unremarkable apple.
It was the morning of a early summer day.
Sunny and warm, maybe even a little too much for the first days of July but otherwise completely unremarkable.
Sixteen years old Shinobu Maehara was returning home after shopping for groceries. A particular bout of hunger of one of her inmates at the dorm left the pantry completely void of anything edible.
In all honesty, Shinobu couldn't understand how the little foreign girl Kaolla Su could eat even raw ingredients in such quantities without even the slightest stomachache afterward, but the fact remained that she was indeed capable of such feats and the rest of the residents had to suffer from the sudden void of food.
As the person in charge of the kitchen it fell upon her to solve the predicament and save the residents of the Hinata-Sou from starvation. It was a chore but she didn't mind it. Cooking was one of the few things she was naturally good at and she took great pleasure in preparing better meals for her inmates every day.
She stopped at a crossroad and as she waited for the light to turn green and cross. Thinking about the other girls living at the Hinata a sigh escaped her.
She considered herself to be rather talentless individual with no remarkable feature especially in the feminine department. You could say she was rather petite and with very soft forms which only made her feel underdeveloped. All the more so if compared to the other girls at her dorm. Even the hyperactive Kaolla could pull off being more womanly when she cut her childish antics and behaved.
Only Shinobu was constantly mistaken for a middle school girl even if she was already attending her second year in high school.
School. That was another touchy subject for the girl. She wasn't a bad or problematic student, far from that in fact, but her grades were average at best and socially she was even worse. She didn't have any friend in her class or in the whole school for that matter. Her shy and soft spoken disposition prevented her from speaking her mind around her peers and she ended being all by herself every single day.
Her family instead… Well her family was something she preferred not to think about at all. They were the reason why she lived at the Hinata-sou by herself.
By herself, yes. Even if there were four other girls living under the same roof, who where friendly and gentle in her regards, she couldn't really connect with them. Mostly because each one of them had at least a trait she'd liked have herself. Ever the sake-addicted Mitsune –Kistune- Konno was more had more social skills than she did.
Kaolla playfulness and devil-may-care attitude made her being liked immediately despite her odd quirks.
Motoko Aoyama, the kendoist girl heir to a school of sword in Kyoto, was the embodiment of the Japanese traditional beauty.
Finally, Naru Narusegawa was the national first at cram school for college and a beauty above average on top of that. Scratch that. She actually had to go to school disguised as a nerd to discourage the constant attempts from suitors and train molester. What sort of woman had to downplay her natural beauty?
They were all extraordinary women compared to which Shinobu felt… dull for lack of better words.
For her, life was neither good nor bad. Even her plights were insignificant to the point of not being worth of attention nor pity from someone.
A dull person in a very dull day.
Shinobu was certain that she would grow up alone in a life caught between happy and sad without truly touching either. Try as she might she couldn't imagine things changing anytime soon.
But changes never had the custom of forewarning, and more often than not they are triggered by seemingly meaningless things.
In Shinobu's instance it only took an apple.
It was at the top of the bag she held in her arms, stuffed with groceries to the brim. It was half leaning against the paper surface in a seemingly stable position.
Perhaps Shinobu shifted her arms a little, perhaps the frail balance between two strengths was already as it limits, perhaps it was fate, but the fact remained that the hem of the bag gave in under the tiny weight and the apple toppled out.
She caught the movement with the corner of her eye and her hand shoot forward to catch the falling fruit only for it to bounce on her finger and spin forward.
Instinct followed instinct and the girl stepped after the rogue apple. It to bounce again in her palm before her too small hand could catch it. Another step forward and this time she managed to keep it in her small grip.
She smiled at the small victory when another movement caught her attention to her left. She turned her head and her smile disappeared, her eyes widened and time began slowing down.
A truck was coming her way, too close and too fast to stop or dodge her. She was too unbalanced to jump forward or jump back.
She saw it coming her way.
She was the terrified expression in the eyes of the driver, a mirror of her own.
She saw her life flash before her eyes.
Not a real friend, not a boyfriend, not a kiss.
'I don't want to die.'
Dull days in the dull life of dull person.
'I don't want die.'
Nobody would miss her. Nobody would cry for her loss.
'I want to live.'
Nobody would remember her. The world would go on without nobody even noticing she wasn't there anymore.
'I want to live!'
In those two shorts second she saw all that, then she shut her eyes bracing for the incoming impact. An impact that never came.
What she didn't see was the bike behind her coming in her direction at breakneck speed.
What she didn't see was the red haired rider whose attention was focused solely on her.
What she didn't see was the outstretched arm that grabbed her in the nick of time and whisked her away from certain death.
Instead of pain and the cold feeling of metal she heard the sound screeching tires and a firm hold around her waist. Sudden acceleration and a spin accompanied by the angered honking of a truck. Then the world stopped spinning and all that remained was her hammering heart, the warm feeling around her body and the low rumble of an engine beneath her.
"Whew. That was close. All you all right miss?"
Shinobu opened her eyes and found herself seated on a bike at a side of the road.
She blinked and a few tears streamed down her cheeks. "Miss, are you all right?" The voice called again. She finally looked up and found herself staring from really close into a pair of golden eyes, owned by a red haired man who was looking down at her in concern.
"Oh!" Was all that Shinobu could say, still too shocked to form coherent sentences. "I… I'm… fine I guess…"
"You aren't hurt anywhere, are you?"
"N.. no. I… don't think so."
"Thank goodness," he exhaled. "You should really pay more attention when you cross the road."
"Ah. Yes. Thank you," she whispered. "I… I… Uwhaaaa….!" The entirety of the events finally sunk into her mind and her body shook in fear. She clutched the man's shirt and cried her heart out. "Whaaaaa…!"
All the red haired driver could do was awkwardly hold her a little tighter and rub her back in reassurance. Apparently dealing with crying girls wasn't his forte.
It took Shinobu five minutes to finally stop crying.
"Feeling better now?" He asked when the sobbing finally subsided. She nodded in response.
"Yes. Yes I'm fine now. I…" her eyes widened as she finally realized that she was being held in the arms of a complete, if well-intending, stranger. The blush on her face could have lit a room and threatened to set her head ablaze. "Ah.. Ah.. Ah.." she stuttered unintelligibly. Her shyness, now no longer hindered by the threat of imminent death, returned in full swing.
Her brain, too high on sudden emotions, dealt with the situation in the only way it knew. Shinobu promptly fainted in the man's embrace.
"Oh man," the biker with an unconscious girl in his arms sighed. Nope, dealing with women definitely wasn't his forte.
Shinobu came to her senses around half an hour later. Opening her eyes she found herself staring at the sky. She pulled herself to a sitting position. She had been laying on a bench in a park not too far from the Hinata-sou. How did she end up there?
"Are you feeling ok now, miss?" A voice called from behind her. Startled, she turned around and met once again those golden eyes. The memories of the recent events returned and she yelped both in surprise and embarrassment.
She looked at the stranger who saved her life. He was looking at her with a gentle and sincerely concerned expression. He was dressed simply enough. A pair of jeans, sneaker, a white shirt underneath a black leather jacket. He had nothing out of the ordinary from the neck below.
His face was another matter altogether. He had the oddest pair of eyes under the most vivid tinge of red hairs ,save of a white fringe right above the middle of his forehead. He was slightly tanned and the color of his skin complemented his eyes giving him a roguish look.
From where he was seated Shinobu could guess that her head had been resting on his legs until moments before and a new wave of embarrassment washed over her.
"I.. I… I'm fine," She forced herself to answer. "Y… You saved my life. T-thank you."
"Ah, yes. Your welcome," he replied scratching his cheek sheepishly, apparently embarrassed by having his deed acknowledged. "It was nothing, really."
"I-i-it isn't nothing. I.. I would have died if you… if you…," her voice died in her throat, fear returned as she remembered the incident.
"Well fortunately nothing happened. So it's ok, right?" He placed an hand on her shoulder to reassure her and to Shinobu's surprise the fear faded immediately. Her embarrassment did not.
"R… Right," Shinobu agreed shyly. She didn't think that was the case but it wasn't like she had reason or even the strength of character to argue with him. "I… I should go back now. I.. have to go and buy everything again."
"Do you need any help?" He asked. "I can give you a ride if you want."
"I… there's no need. T-thank you. I l-live nearby."
"All right then," he said standing up and stretching his arms. "Make sure to watch your step this time around, ok?"
"I-I will be careful. I p-promise."
"Good. I guess this is goodbye then," he said gathering his stuff and returning to his bike.
"Ano… w-w-what's your name?" She asked timidly but he heard her nonetheless.
"Oh, right. I haven't introduced myself yet, have I? I'm Emiya Shirou. Pleased to met you," he smiled. Shinobu couldn't help herself and blushed at his expression. He had a nice smile.
"I-I-I… I'm M-M-Maehara Shinobu. P-P-Pleased to make your acquaintance."
They walked together out of the park in silence.
"T-thank you again for helping me. I-I-I'm in your debt."
"Don't mind it. Just be careful, ok?"
"I will. G-Goodbye then."
She turned around and run in the direction of the shops, almost tripping on her own foot at some point. When she was at the end of the road she turned around and waved her hand at him and he responded in kind. He watched her disappear behind a corner.
"What a strange girl. I hope she'll be ok by herself," then he realized something and smacked his hand on his forehead. "Damn. I should have asked her for indications since," he sighed. "How am I going to find that place now?"
He pulled a card from his jacket's pocket and read the address wrote on it.
"… Hinata-sou, uh? Well, I'll better get moving if I want to find this place before tomorrow or I'll end up sleeping in the tent again."
He put the card back into his pocked, started the engine and rode off, his mind already drifting from the clumsy girl he just met.
Shinobu was back home over an hour later. Retuning to all the shops took her a lot but she was still in time to start working on lunch. As she prepared pots and pans her hands kept trembling. The emotions of the day still lingered inside her. She never felt so scared her entire life, and at the same time she never felt her heart beating so hard as it did when she was with Emiya Shirou.
She just couldn't clear her mind of the man that rescued her from a very painful if extremely fast death. He came like a storm and snatched her from her demise. Just like a knight from a fairy tale. She knew it was silly and that she wasn't going to see him again, but a girl could dream, couldn't she? Even better. If she didn't see him again she could indulge in this little fantasy of hers without making a fool out of herself around him. Yes, even if a romance like that would never become real for her, she could still dream about it.
"What are you doing Shinobu-san?" A voice behind her asked.
"KYAAA!" Shinobu screamed, nearly jumping out of her skin. "M-M-Motoko-Sempai. You startled me."
"My apologies. I did not mean to scare you. Are you preparing lunch already?"
"Ah. Yes, that's what I'm doing," she explained, a little too eager to move the conversation away from the reason of her inner wanderings.
"Hm? You appear to be quite in agitated today. Did something happen while you were out shopping?" There was no particular meaning in her question but Shinobu's mind was already down a particular lane and Motoko's question sounded like a specific accusation.
"N-N-No! N-N-Nothing happened. What could have ever happened? I didn't meet anyone. I didn't… ops," realizing she said too much she bit her tongue, but it was already too late. Motoko's eyes narrowed and her hand instinctively reached of the sword at her side.
"Have you been approached by someone? Have you been harassed by a pervert? Shinobu-san, tell me who is the fiend that dared to touch you and will remove his head from his shoulders."
"M-Motoko-san!" She shrieked. She didn't want the swordswoman to after the man that saved her life, but she didn't want to tell her that her clumsiness almost got her killed. "N-nothing like that happened. I swear. I-I-I just met a man that helped me with my… my bags. He… he didn't do anything to me."
That didn't seem to calm the raven haired girl in the slightest.
"Shinobu-san. You should know better than to trust strangers and male ones at that. You might have got away safely this time but there's no telling what kind of hideous intents the scoundrel had for you."
"T.. That can't be. He was so nice to me…"
"I don't doubt he was," she nearly hissed. "That is the way they act, making you believe they have the best of intentions until you lower your guard. Shinobu-san!"
"You must keep your guard up around men at all time. Is that clear?"
"Yes! I will!"
"Good, then…" Motoko trailed off as she sniffed the air. "Is something burning?"
"Waaah!" Shinobu shouted as she turned back to the food. "Oh noooo…..," she wailed. Another trip to the market was in order.
Needless to say, lunch was consumed much later than regular and there was no keeping the reason from the rest of the girls. Soon everyone knew that Shinobu had been apparently assaulted by a molester and no amount of (feeble) denial from the girl dissuaded Motoko and Naru from their opinion.
It didn't help that Kitsune kept teasing her about it, tying her tongue with embarrassment.
'Aauuuu. I'm sorry Emiya-san,' she thought as the girl discussed the pervert's punishment if he ever got close to Shinobu or any other girl. 'It's my fault if they think you are a bad person.'
"Ne, Is a pervert good to eat?" Kaolla asked out of the blue.
"No!" was the unanimous answer. The last thing anyone wanted was for Kaolla to set herself on a quest to get her piece of a man to taste. Literally. Even Kitsune with all her jokes wasn't that bad.
With lunch out of the way the Hinata-sou seemed to return to its peaceful self. The girls went about their businesses and the events of the morning put aside as the one time occurrence they were supposed to be.
Too bad that the day was far from over and the figurative storm still had hit them with the full of its might.
The bike spluttered as the engine stopped. The red haired man pulled the key out of the ignition and stared at the flight of stairs at his left.
"It should be up there," he said to himself. "Took me half a day to find this place. This part of the city it's a maze."
After securing the bike to a nearby pole with the help of a chain and a lock he began climbing toward his destination, blissfully unaware of the chaos he was about to stir.
"Kaolla! Stop right there!" Naru shouted at the blonde girl. "Give back our clothes."
Naru, Motoko and Kaolla decided to take a dip in the hot springs while Shinobu and Kitsune went out for a stroll. They had just left the warm water when the foreign student decided to pull a collective prank by stealing everyone's clothes before they could change. Now they were chasing the youngest girl about the dorm clad only in the towels from the hot spring. In different circumstances they would have gone back to their room and got dressed but being in a exclusively female dorm they didn't bother. Beside if they didn't get those clothes back soon there was the chance they might not find them anymore.
"You gotta catch me if you want them back!"
"Kaolla-san! Enough with this charade," shouted an equally upset Motoko. "If you do not stop as of this moment I shall be forced to use my family techniques."
"You'd have to hit me!" She sing-sang.
"Is that so?" She asked with false sweetness. "Than I suppose we have to find out if I really can or not."
"Wait Motoko-san!" Naru pleaded as she watched the girl behind her brandish her bokuto into a very familiar stance .
"Shinmei-Ryu! AIR-SPLITTING TECHNIQUE!" Motoko shouted swinging her blade. The air rippled in front of her like sending a wave of pressure in Naru and Kaolla's direction.
"Noooo!" Was all that Naru could say as the shockwave hit her sending her flying into Kaolla's back. The two girls were thrown into the air all the way to the dorm's entrance door.
A door that slid open in that very moment.
"Hello? Is there any-OMPH!" Shirou words were cut as two very naked female bodies crashed against him sending the three of them to the ground.
They remained there for a few seconds before Shirou tried to pull himself up and assets the situation.
"Ow. What the -UGH?" His eyes widened as he realized what had hit him. In that moment a brunette looked up and locked her eyes with the red haired man. A few seconds of uncomfortable silence passed between them. "Er… Hi?" He said awkwardly.
"KYAAAAAAA!" the girl's scream shook the entire building, almost deafening the man beneath her. Shirou's sonic torture didn't last long as a powerful uppercut propelled him in the air and away from her. "PERVERT!" She shouted after him.
"A pervert?" A raven haired girl asked reaching the scene, just in time for Shirou's body to crash into her, much like the other two girls did with him just moments prior.
"Ow, ow, ow." He said pulling himself up. "What the hell just.. uh?" Something soft squirmed beneath his hands. He looked down and saw what looked extremely like a naked breast, encased in his fingers. His eyes snapped up the meet the owner of said mammal glands.
"Shimnei-Ryu," a female voice growled "ROCK SPLITTING TECHNIQUE!" A powerful wave hit his stomach, sending him flying one more time. This time his landing wasn't as soft as before and his head hit violently against a wall, robbing him of his consciousness.
Shirou opened his eyes a few minutes later only to find himself tied up with his hands behind his back.
"Uhg? What the hell happened?" he asked to no one in particular. Judging by his current headache whatever had hit him would have killed any other man. He looked up and found himself staring at the pointed end of a very sharp katana. Following the blade all the way to the hilt he found the swordsm –swordswoman, dressed in a tradition hakama. glaring down at him.
Behind her a brunette dressed in jeans and a white shirt was looking at him in the same manner with her arms crossed in front of her. At her side another girl, younger than the other tow was looking at him with an amused expression.
"Justice happened, you fiend," the woman answered his question.
"Justice? Fiend?" Shirou blinked, not really sure of what was going on. It appeared that he had done something bad, but he couldn't understand what. The only thing he knew was that at some point a bunch of girls started beating him for no reason.
"Justice, indeed. Now, do you have any last words before I remove your presence from this world?" The swordswoman answered, lifting her sword to deliver the fatal blow.
"Whoa! Whoa! Hold on a minute!" He fidgeted. "Before beheading me could you at least explain me why I'm going to die?"
"You dare claim ignorance? Not only you try to force your perverted ways upon us, but you also try to escape from your just punishment by feigning ignorance?"
Now, Shirou was renowned for being a very polite person, more so toward the other gender, but that didn't mean he was going to let people accusing him of being some sort of molester.
"Now wait a minute. I came here looking for someone and I soon as I opened the door you girls started beating the shit out me."
"A likely story," the swordswoman scoffed. "Do you expect us to believe that you came to a female dorm looking for a friend of yours?"
"Exac –wait. A female dorm?" He asked. "Isn't this the Hinata-sou?"
"Yeah. So?" the brunette with long hair asked.
"Uh. Isn't this Granny Hina's Inn?"
"You know Granny Hina?" The swordswoman and the brunette asked at the same time. "Just who are you?"
He was about to respond when another voice cut in.
"What's going on here?" A tall woman with short dark hair walked in. She had a cigarette in her mouth and she was wearing an apron.
"Haruka-san. This pervert tried to molest us," the brunette said.
"I most certainly did not," Shirou protested.
The woman turned her head to the man seated on the ground. Her eyes widened, seemingly in recognition.
"K… Keitaro?" She stuttered.
"Actually my name is Emiya Shirou, but apparently that's what I used to be called once. And you are?"
Swallowing a knot in her throat she answered shakily. "You… might not remember me after all this time but I… I'm Urashima Haruka and I'm your aunt.
Shirou eyes widened at her words. The day was turning out to be full of surprises.
The girls reluctantly agreed to untie him but the swordswoman Motoko kept him under her gaze at all times.
They sat around a table and Naru served tea for everyone, though she made it quite clear she didn't like the newcomer one bit.
"So… you're my aunt?"
"Actually I'm your cousin but the Urashima's family tree is a little contorted." She stared at him for a long moment. "My god you look so much like you mother," she breathed.
"You knew her? I have no memories of her."
"You… you don't remember her? You weren't that little when it happened.
"How can you possibly not remember your own mother?" Naru asked with disdain. Shirou leveled a glare at her that made her stand straighter against the back of her chair.
"There was a fire in Fuyuki city fifteen years ago. My parents died along with over five hundred other people. I have no memories from before then because of the trauma. I didn't even remember my real name. I have been adopted immediately after the incident and until very recently I didn't even know I still had living relatives."
"That is quite unfortunate," Motoko stated sincerely, "but it still doesn't explain your presence here nor your despicable behavior."
Shirou frowned at her choice of words but didn't address it from the time being.
"A month ago I was returning from London when I accidentally run in a old lady at the Narita Airport. It was Granny Hina. Apparently immediately recognized me as her grandson from the resemblance to her dead son and his wife. Of course I didn't actually believe that I was actually her long lost relative but she insisted she couldn't be mistake. She asked to run a DNA test and I indulged her. I mean, it's not like there was any harm in it." They all nodded and he continued. "Imagine my surprise when it actually turned out that I was indeed her grandson."
"I think I can imagine. When she phoned me to tell me she had found Keitaro I thought she had finally lost it, but she was adamant that you were alive. A few days ago she called me again to tell me you were coming over but I still didn't believe her. She even sent me an envelope to give you once you arrived. I have it in my bag in the other room."
"Right. She mentioned something like that last I've heard her. … Did you know she was just leaving for a worldwide trip to the most famous hot-springs?"
"Yes. She's quite lively for a woman in her seventies. Her mental health was my only concern lately but I can see now that I had no reason to worry."
"Well. Anyway I mentioned her that I wanted to enroll into Tokyo U. and that I was looking for a place to stay and a job. My place back in Fuyuki is way too far to commute and is currently occupied by other people so I couldn't go back there. That's when she mentioned she had an Inn and told me that I could stay here. She never mentioned it being a female dorm."
"That's strange," Haruka commented. "It's not like her to forget something like that. Maybe she wanted to pull a prank on you. And on the girls as well."
"Are you sure she isn't just getting senile?" Shirou offered.
"That… might also be the case," Haruka sweatdropped. "Maybe we will know more once you open the envelope she left you. I'll go get it."
"Thank you." She left and returned a few moments later with a manila envelope that she passed to him. He quickly opened it.. "Well I'll be damned," he said after reading its contents.
"What? What does it say?" Haruka asked. Shirou answer was to pass her the papers he was holding. Her eyes widened as she scanned the contents. Then a smirk formed on her lips "Hm. Looks like the old bat can still pull a few tricks." Shirou merely palmed his face.
"What?" Naru asked. "What does it says?"
Haruka answered with a shrug. "Girls. Meet the Hinata's new manager and landlord, Urashima Keitaro better known as Emiya Shirou."
In the ensuing they could have heard a pin drop. Then hell broke loose.
Shinobu and Kitsune who were just returning from their stroll heard it long before the building was even in sight.
Chapter 1 End
All right. Where the hell did this come from? Oh wait I know. I was reading a few Love Hina fics for a change and it hit me how similar Shirou and Keitaro are. A few instances?
They both chase after things apparently beyond their reach
They are extremely kind individual that go to great lengths to help others, often putting themselves in harm's way.
They can both get up from things that would kill lesser men .
At some point they all develop a certain ability with swords
So I began wondering 'How would Shirou act if he was actually Keitaro?'
I won't deny that Gabriel blessing's "In flight" helped me imagining the overlapping of two different character but the similarities ends there. I have no intention to mirror his story. Beside the cast of Love Hina is not at all like the girls from Sekirei. Of course this story won't just be humorous. Shirou, differently from Keitaro goes looking for troubles when they aren't coming after him so prepare from more than a little action for the Hero wannabe.
A few notes on the setting: this story takes place five years after the end of the Holy Grail War but it's not the aftermath of any of the three scenarios though there are elements from both. There are also differences from the Love Hina's canon. They will be explored as the story progress but here a few
Shirou was Saber Master
Rin was Archer Master
Shirou and Archer fought and he discovered his tracing abilities and his Reality Marble
Rider did not disappear after the War and she's currently living with Sakura at the Emiya's residence
Shirou fought against Berserker with Nine Lives Blade Works
Illya is alive (more on her as the story progresses).
Saber destroyed the Grail and disappeared.
Shirou still has Avalon inside him and its power is fully working except that it doesn't prevent the owner's aging? Why? Eh eh eh…
The differences from Love Hina are mostly in the girl's background
Shinobu is sixteen
Kaolla is fifteen
Motoko is seventeen
Naru is eighteen
Kistune is 21 years old
Tsuruko is 25 and unmarried. Currently the heir to the God's Cry school
Finally remember that this is a side project of a side project. I have no intention to applu any effort on this even if I have a lot of events planned. I will update when the plot bunnies are too strong to be ignored. I have other fics to think about and, believe it or not, a real life. Oh and I know that this belongs to the Crossover section. I will move it there after some time.
That should be all.
Over and out.
PS: Oh, almost forgot: REVIEEEEEEW!