Disclaimer: I don't own Love Hina.
In her room, Motoko was trying to meditate to gather her will for the fight coming up when she heard someone knock.
"Who is it" Motoko called out as she opened one eye.
"It is Tomoko. Tsuruko put out terms for our fight that I don't agree with, so I wish to renegotiate them with you, "Tomoko's voice replied. Motoko smiled, as it seemed like a little bit of hope appeared in front of her.
"Then come in," Motoko said, as she began to stand up. After Tomoko entered the room ad closed the door, Motoko asked, "So you don't agree with her terms, but you still wish to fight?"
"Yes. As for my terms-" Tomoko said before getting interrupted by Motoko raising her hand to interrupt.
"Wait. I want to know your reasons first," Motoko said.
"My reasons are my own. Depending on how this conversation goes, I might share them," Tomoko replied.
"If you're not willing to tell me then, why should I listen?" Motoko asked with a glare.
"Simple. My terms would involve you staying here, regardless of who wins," Tomoko answered with a smirk.
Motoko gritted her teeth and she briefly thought about what Tomoko said. On one hand, she did not want to leave. On the other hand, the offer seemed too good to be true.
"Very well. I'll listen to your terms," Motoko muttered. Tomoko resisted the urge to smirk.
"Instead of going back and facing whatever Tsuruko might want to do to you if you should lose, become Mr. Urashima's retainer until I say otherwise," Tomoko explained. It didn't surprise Tomoko that Motoko's face turned red. 'I wonder if it's mostly from either rage, embarrassment, or lust?'
"Be-Be-Become that pervert's retainer? He'll abuse whatever rights he'll have over me!" Motoko exclaimed, even stomping a little bit. Tomoko shook her head.
"No, he's a coward, yet also a gentlemen. Most, if not all of the situations he gets into are either because of his clumsiness, Kitsune, or possibly the spirit of the Hinata Inn deciding to play matchmaker," Tomoko replied, crossing her arms and narrowing her eyes a bit. "I'll leave you to decide if you should accept my terms. If either you refuse or if you can't decide before the match begins, we'll use the terms Tsuruko set."
"I thank you for giving me time to think about what terms I should go with. Now tell me your reasons why you still wish to fight," Motoko said, trying to match Tomoko's glare with one of her own.
"Simple, because I want to make a difference," Tomoko said. There was something in Tomoko's tone that gave Motoko pause. There was a mix of anger, saddness, a tinge of despair, and... hope?
"How does it pertain to me?" Motoko asked. She had a feeling that she was now treading on dangerous ground for some reason.
"That... is on a need to know basis and I do not think you need to know," Tomoko said as she started to leave
"We aren't done here!" Motoko said. Before she could take a step forward, Tomoko shot a glare that froze Motoko in her steps.
"I'm leaving the room because I do not wish to see what Tsuruko would think of us arguing in your room would be," Tomoko uttered before leaving the room
'I don't want to leave here, I don't want to be Urashima's retainer, but I also don't want to face whatever Tsuruko has cooked up for me if I were to head back to Kyoto...' Motoko thought as she walked over to a wall and sat down besides the window. 'Might as well decide what loss is preferable...'
Tomoko let out a sigh when she was walking down the stairs.
'Just what is it about my past self that aggravates me? I nearly yelled at her at the end,' Tomoko thought.
The next day had a slight air of tension whenever Tomoko or Motoko were nearby. As did the partial day after that.
Motoko entered Su's room to eat lunch. When Su asked why, Motoko refused to answer at first, but eventually said that she was worried that she might get sent back to Kyoto. Su had a gut feeling that trying to comfort Motoko by telling her to accept Tomoko's deal would backfire in so many ways, Especially since Su had a small hand in crafting the terms for Tomoko. So Su let Motoko stay in her room for lunch.
As for how she acted with the others, Motoko seemed as if a touch more closed off than usual, except for two people. She seemed to leave the room whenever Tomoko or Tsuruko were about to come into the room or if they were already in the room. Even though Tsuruko hid it quite well, Su and Kitsune were able to notice that it bothered her. It had to be pointed out to Sarah. Keitaro had a feeling that something was off, but wasn't able to figure out what it was.
Tomoko seemed to grow more annoyed at Motoko's actions as time went on. Enough so that Tsuruko spoke with her about it.
After dragging Tomoko to a guest room, Tsuruko asked, "Are you going to keep your temper in check?"
Tomoko bristled for a moment. "Of course I am! What are you insinuating?"
"That you being near Motoko is either wearing down your self-control or proving that you severely misjudged yourself," Tsuruko replied. Tomoko took a step back in either shock or anger, Tsuruko couldn't really tell. Then Tomoko closed her eyes and began to take deep breaths 'Seems like it was anger. I should probably congratulate her on being able to recognize and stop herself when she was about to have an angry outburst, but now is not the time.'
When Tomoko seemed to have calmed down a bit, she opened her eyes and said, "It is difficult to stay calm when I've misjudged myself."
"Which one?" Tsuruko whispered.
"The same one you referred to," Tomoko whispered back with a smirk.
Tsuruko's angry expression cooled down to an annoyed one as she muttered, "Very funny. Now are you going to keep calm or will I have to bring you your meals until the duel is over?"
"I'll try, but are you going to ask the same to Motoko?" Tomoko asked. Tsuruko very briefly looked like someone punched her in the gut.
"I'll ask Ms. Konno to ask that," Tsuruko answered.
"You demand that I act like an adult, but here you are, refusing to face someone throwing a fit," Tomoko muttered with some anger in her voice.
"I'm trying to avoid her losing her temper," Tsuruko said, with her annoyed tone returning.
"She's going to lose her temper no matter what you do. The only question is will it be at you before the match or at me during it?" Tomoko asked with a bit more anger.
"Unfortunately, it has to be the latter. If I had more time, I'd plan out a better way for all of us," Tsuruko answered.
Tomoko opened her mouth before closing it. She took a few more deep breaths before saying, "I'll come out for dinner. I need to meditate."
Sensing that she might have screwed up, Tsuruko left the room, but not before saying, "Very well."
After everyone else went to bed, Tomoko knocked at Keitaro's door.
"Mr. Urashima, I need to speak with you," Tomoko said in a hushed voice as she knocked.
"What is it?" Keitaro answered. His tone let her know that he had been moments away from falling asleep.
"It's about some of the terms of the match between Motoko and myself. I wish to come into your room if I'm allowed," Tomoko replied.
Keitaro sighed for a moment before muttering, "Fine,come in..."
Tomoko did so.
"I felt that Tsuruko's terms were too harsh, so I offered Motoko an alternate one. She's still deciding if she should accept it or not." Tomoko explained. "As for what my terms are... If she wins, the term is the same as Tsuruko's. If she loses, she becomes your retainer until I say otherwise."
"You didn't even consult me when you asked her about it!" Keitaro grumbled.
"Mr. Urashima, I apologize, but you should understand my reasoning, As you know, Motoko is the Heir to the Shinmei-Ryu compound. To the Aoyama elders, you are pretty much the heir to the Hinata grounds. If Tsuruko brought Motoko back, Motoko could wind up having her name taken off the clan roster and banished from her home. At least with what I did, All that would happen is that Motoko is your servant in name only and everything goes on like nothing happened," Tomoko explained. Keitaro covered his face with a hand.
"Motoko's gonna kill me if she accepts your offer and loses..." Keitaro muttered. He put his hand down and asked, "So in the event that she accepts your offer and loses, does it mean that you'll free her after a few days?"
Tomoko shook her head.
"There are some on the Aoyama council that would use it to try and remove Motoko from being the heir. Ask Granny Hina about Kameyo Aoyama sometime. That'll probably be one of the few times you'll hear Hina rant about something in an angry manner. As for how long, Maybe a year or two," Tomoko answered.
"Does Motoko know about when you plan on releasing her?" Keitaro asked, starting to get very annoyed, both at Tomoko's actions and because he wanted to go to sleep.
"I'll tell her during the match if she accepts my terms," Tomoko answered.
"Make sure you do," Keitaro replied.
"Good night, Mr. Urashima," Tomoko said as she left.
"Good night," Keitaro muttered.
While closing up for the night, Haruka was looking over the kitchen inventory when she heard a knock. Hoping it was Keitaro, Haruka stepped out of the kitchen and was disappointed that it was Tsuruko.
"May I come in?" Tsuruko asked.
"Sure, just a minute. Care to tell me why? I'm a bit curious," Haruka answered as she put her hand on the lock and started to fiddle with it. 'Dammit, I really need to replace this..''
"I need to vent a bit at how I made a mess with my younger sister," Tsuruko answered, making Haruka pause.
Haruka sighed before unlocking the door and saying, "I'm not doing so hot with Keitaro either... Might as well vent to each other..."
Tsuruko stepped in and Haruka lead her to the counter.
"Don't expect anything special, I'm just going to brew up a small pot of tea," Haruka said as she began to do as she said.
"Very well," Tsuruko replied. "who shall 'vent' first?"
"I'll let you go first," Haruka said, seemingly concentrating more on the teapot.
"I think that I either haven't done enough to help curb my sister's temper or have gone about it the wrong way," Tsuruko muttered.
"How so?" Haruka asked.
"She threatened her landlord when he tripped and fell on her because the floor broke under him," Tsuruko answered. She took note of Haruka's unchanging expression. 'So it had happened more than once, going by her reaction...'
"What happened next?" Haruka asked, just as the teapot whistled.
"I... forced a duel on my sister. She had a choice of either fighting me or our cousin," Tsuruko answered. She wasn't sure if Haruka knew of Tomoko's secret, but she wasn't going to reveal it if she didn't.
"First time you've met with your sister in a long time and you force a duel on her within seconds... Yeesh..." Haruka muttered as she poured some tea out for herself and Tsuruko.
"It happened after we spent some time out shopping, Haruka," Tsuruko said with a glare. "Now what about your problem with Keitaro?"
"He came to me, asking if it was right to let the girls hit him. Then he asked me to imagine something... I don't feel like talking about the rest," Haruka explained, before drinking some of her tea.
"While I wish that you would, I won't pry," Tsuruko commented, before taking a sip of tea. "It seems like we both neglected our relatives and are now paying the price..."
"Eh, I say just give it time and things will get back to normal," Haruka replied.
"Maybe, maybe not. While I don't doubt that time heals all, simply ignoring the problem will only make things worse. Do you have any plans for when Keitaro calms down?" Tsuruko asked.
"I'll think of something when the time comes. What about you?" Haruka asked back. Tsuruko shook her head a little bit.
"Try to reconnect with Motoko, let her know that I'm not abandoning her," Tsuruko answered.
"Doesn't sound like much of a plan, if you ask me..." Haruka muttered under her breath. Tsuruko narrowed her eyes a bit in anger.
"Perhaps, but at least it is one," Tsuruko said, after finishing her tea.
"Who asked you? Besides, what would you do in my place?" Haruka angrily asked as she hit the counter.
"Let the tenants know that I'm supporting his decisions?" Tsuruko asked back.
"Big talk from someone that let her sister run away..." Haruka muttered, thinking she had the upper hand.
"Granny Hina had a hand in that. She claimed that she knew a way to help Motoko. Had I known that it involved letting Motoko attack Keitaro, I never would have gone along with the plan," Tsuruko replied.
"So what? Are you going to take your sister away from here?" Haruka asked, resisting the urge to try and throw Tsuruko out. Haruka didn't want to risk ruining her teashop from any possible fights.
"If Motoko loses the duel in a few days, perhaps." Tsuruko commented.
"And you're acting like I'm the irresponsible one..." Haruka said, as she took the empty tea cups away. "Anyways, I'm getting tired. So unless you have something really important to talk about, I'm closing up for the night."
"In that case, I'm going to bed. Good night," Tsuruko said before she stood up.
"By the way," Haruka said, once Tsuruko was at the door. "Your cousin had asked Keitaro to imagine something and he asked me to imagine it as well."
"Oh? What is it?" Tsuruko asked, wondering if it was something that Tomoko forgot to tell her about.
"I'll use a variant of it. Remember when Motoko threatened Keitaro and then try to imagine Motoko's and Keitaro's genders reversed," Haruka said.
Haruka watched as Tsukuro looked down as she thought about it.
Makoto was standing over Keiko, with his Bokken pointed at her throat.
'Time after time, you keep throwing yourself on us like a wanton slut. I'm getting tired of it. I don't care what your grandfather said. Be a good little girl and leave. That is an order," Makoto said, before putting his bokken at his side and started to walk away.
"But-But-but where will I go?" Keiko asked herself, as she started to crawl away.
"That is no concern of mine, so shut up," Makoto said before he walked out of sight.
Haruka was a bit surprised at Tsuruko's hands curling in anger.
"Woah, calm down there. It was only something you though up. No reason to attack anyone," Haruka said. It seemed to have a bit of a calming effect on Tsuruko.
"It seems like I may have went too far with what you asked," Tsuruko muttered. She then quietly whispered to herself, "I can't believe that was my first thought at what Motoko might do to Urashima if the genders were reversed. Motoko has more respect for others than that..."
"Eh, happens to the best of us. Feel like sharing what you thought?" Haruka asked.
Tsuruko smiled and said, "Only if you tell me what you thought when you were asked something similar."
Silence passed for a few seconds.
"On second thought, some things are best left private. Anything else you wanna talk about?" Haruka answered a bit too quickly for her own tastes.
"No. Good night," Tsuruko replied before leaving.
As Haruka tried to sleep that night, she wondered if she screwed up big time with Keitaro.
A little bit before two days had passed since Tsuruko gave Motoko an ultimatum passed. Tomoko had went to to the area behind the Hinata and Tsuruko looked for Motoko. Fortunately, the latter was in her room, but was very anxious. Motoko was shaken out of her thoughts when a knock was heard at her door.
"Sister, it is time for the match," Tsuruko's voice said. She almost sounded like she just very slightly regretted what she had done a few days before. Forcing a duel to protect someone she just met. Before she could even begin to start ruminating on it, Motoko opened the door and Tsuruko asked.
"Very well, I'll follow you to wherever I'm supposed to duel Tomoko," Motoko replied, trying to sound emotionless, but failing.
"It will be behind the inn. You could have asked where earlier," Tsuruko replied as she began to head to the back.
"I was busy meditating," Motoko said, as a trace of... Hurt? Annoyance? Anger? Whatever it was, it entered Motoko's tone and it seemed that Tsuruko's actions were involved with with it somehow.
When the two sisters reached the backyard, they saw that Tomoko was there. Motoko narrowed her eyes at Tomoko, who was wearing gray sweatpants and a white tanktop.
When Motoko and Tsuruko gotten to where Tomoko was, Motoko quickly looked around. She saw that Su and the others were high up on the balcony, overlooking the three Aoyamas. From left to right, Sarah and Kitsune were leaning against the railing, Shinobu was by Keitaro's side, Su was sitting on the railing, and Haruka seemed either bored or disinterested.
"Why are they there?" Motoko asked Tsuruko.
"Su wanted them there and wouldn't take no for an answer," Tsuruko answered. She barely noticed that Haruka kept glancing over at Keitaro every once in awhile when she thought no one was looking at her.
Motoko nodded before looking over at Tomoko and saying, "I accept your terms."
"Very well," Tomoko replied with a slight smile. Tsuruko was confused at what the two were talking about.
"What are you two talking about?" Tsuruko asked.
"Since I was the one going to be fighting her without my consent at first, I offered an alternate set of terms. The only difference was that if she loses, she becomes Mr. Urashima's retainer," Tomoko answered with a smirk. Tsuruko frowned and looked over at Motoko.
"And you really decided to accept it?" Tsuruko asked.
Motoko nodded before saying, "Now leave the area, sister. I have a duel to win."
Tsuruko walked some distance away. She then watched both Tomoko and Motoko pull out bokken. Once both were ready, Tsuruko yelled, "Begin!"
Motoko came in with an overhead strike, but Tomoko blocked it.
"Why are you wearing that, instead of a hakama?" Motoko asked in an annoyed tone.
"Because the color gray bothers you. I have a good idea why, too..." Tomoko replied, as she and Motoko backed away from each other.
"While you're right that I dislike the color, I doubt that you can even guess why..." Motoko muttered before frowning and coming in with a strike aimed at Tomoko's side.
"It's neither white nor black, but is both and that reminds you of things that are neither right nor wrong, but are a mix of both," Tomoko replied as she blocked the attack.
"Maybe you're right, maybe I just don't like the color. Su doesn't like it either, and neither does my sister. I doubt your explanation applies to them," Motoko quickly said, as she hopped back before coming in with a thrust. To her annoyance, Tomoko parried it.
"Struck a nerve, have I?" Tomoko asked, as Motoko hopped back again.
"You think you know better. All you are is someone that deludes yourself into a fantasy where you're helping others, but in reality, you're merely causing more problems! You insert yourself in places where you're not needed! When someone else said something, you decided to get angry with me, instead of them!" Motoko said, hoping to goad Tomoko into exposing herself through anger. "You are nothing more than a annoyance that needs to grow up."
"Apparently, I am..." Tomoko said with a sly smile. Motoko growled a little, seeing her taunt had no effect.
After a few seconds of nothing happening, Motoko asked "Aren't you going to attack?"
"I feel like being generous, so I'll only start attacking once you gotten a hit in," Tomoko answered with a smug grin. Motoko growled again.
"You dare to mock me like that!?" Motoko loudly said, as she launched the Zanganken Ni-no-Tachi on a boulder behind Tomoko. She hoped that Tomoko would be momentarily distracted by the sound of something breaking behind her. Even though a boulder was broken in two, Tomoko's attention was still on Motoko.
"Losing sight of your target already?" Tomoko asked in a mocking tone.
"I could ask you the same thing. We're supposed to be dueling each other, but all you are doing is taunting me!" Motoko angrily answered as she launched a Hyakka Ryōran. A wave of Ki and petals flew towards Tomoko, who avoided it by simply leaping off to the side.
"And yet I'm winning..." Tomoko muttered as she dodged a second Hyakka Ryōran.
"I should have hit you at least once! Somehow Urashima sabotaged my training by simply being nearby! He deserves to die a painful death!" Motoko growled as she was about to launce another Hyakka Ryōran when she felt a wave of killing intent coming from Tomoko.
Tomoko looked down as her hands trembled a little. She began to take deep breaths as her grip on the bokken increased. Motoko briefly thought about how her last statement angered Tomoko before realizing that Tomoko's defense was open. She quickly launched a third Hyakka Ryōran, hoping that she might knock out Tomoko Alas, Tomoko launched one of her own to counter it. However, Tomoko's Hyakka Ryōran destroyed Motoko's and Motoko was barely able to dodge.
"Tomoko, calm down!" Tsuruko ordered as she placed a hand on her own bokken, ready to attack if Tomoko tried to kill Motoko.
The killing intent quickly receded as Tomoko looked up. An evil smile baring her teeth was on Tomoko's face. Her eyes were blank and seemed to glow, as if seeking out any and all weaknesses in front of her.
"Don't worry, I won't kill her. I'm only going to punish her..." Tomoko said, before giving off a dark chuckle that sent shivers down Motoko's spine.
Up on balcony, The group was watching and mostly hoping that Motoko would win. Keitaro immediately felt a familiar sixth sense shiver down his spine. It was the one that he usually felt when Motoko forced him to fight her and when she sometimes struck out randomly when Tama spooked her. Looking a bit more carefully at the match, he noticed that Motoko was looking apprehensive at Tomoko's state.
'Tomoko looks like she wants to tear Motoko apart!' Keitaro thought with worry. "Tomoko! Calm down!"
It seemed to fall on deaf ears as Tomoko quickly launched two Hyakka Ryōrans at Motoko, creating two trenches at the sides of the younger Aoyama, who now seemed very aware that she unknowingly said something she shouldn't have and was a bit paralyzed from the killing intent from earlier.
Not wanting to see Motoko get thrashed by Tomoko, Shinobu and Su yelled"Move it, Motoko!"
That somehow got Motoko to move away just in time to avoid an Jakuzankūsen that was intended to throw Motoko into a tree.
"Tomoko, I said calm down!" Keitaro yelled.
Tomoko seemed to hear him that time. Her glowing eyes seemed to start darkening back to normal.
Unfortunately, Motoko decided that was was a good time to attack. She sent off Raimeiken. Tomoko detected it at the last second and barely managed to dodge it.
Tomoko glanced down at her clothes. The sweat shirt had some burnt marks. Deciding that there was no point in saving the sweatshirt, she grabbed the front of it and ripped the garment off herself. She was now wearing a white shirt.
"I liked that sweatshirt. Do you know how hard it is to find one that is both comfortable and doesn't get too warm or hot?" Tomoko asked, as she glared at Motoko.
"Then you shouldn't have worn it to our duel," Motoko answered, hoping to anger Tomoko enough to get an opening, but not enough to cause the Killing intent again.
"True, I can't disagree with you there..." Tomoko replied with a slight nod, her glare lessening a little."As much as I want to punish you, I think I'll go easy on you because of Mr. Urashima."
"Why?" Motoko asked, as she continued to wait for an opening.
"He wants you to win," Tomoko replied with a hard-to-read face.
That got Motoko conflicted. On one hand, she did not want Tomoko to hold back on her because of Keitaro. On the other hand, her freedom was at stake.
"What makes you say th-at?!" Motoko asked, barely blocking an overhead strike from Tomoko at the last second. Tomoko continued to try to hit Motoko from overhead and from the sides, but Motoko was barely able to block them.
"He thinks you're his friend. I think you are nothing more than an angry girl, pretending to be a samurai to escape two things," Tomoko said, as she continued to attack, each strike being blocked. Eventually, Motoko started to back away as she started to have less and less time to block.
"Dunno what they're saying, but I think Tomoko is playing around with Motoko..." Sarah muttered as she leaned against the railing.
"Yeah, I agree... I've watched enough action movies to kind of know..." Kitsune muttered.
Keitaro, Shinobu, and Su were worried about Motoko.
Haruka kept thinking, 'Dammit, I didn't screw up with Keitaro. I just got to give him time to calm down.'
Motoko's eyes briefly widened before narrowing in anger,
"And what might they be?" Motoko spat. Tomoko smirked.
"One – You're afraid of being abandoned. Two – You have a crush on a certain landlord," Tomoko replied.
Motoko froze for a moment. On a whim, Tomoko attacked with a slow strike to Motoko's left side. The younger Aoyama shook herself out of her shock before blocking the slow strike. She stepped back, but slipped on a pebble from the boulder that was destroyed earlier and landed on her rear.
Before she could even get up, Tomoko put the tip of her bokken under Motoko's chin and said, "Will you surrender?"
Author's note. A big thanks to PCHeintz72 for looking over the chapter.
I apologize for the lateness of this chapter. It was rather hard to write. Action scenes are not my forte.
Also this fic is now going on Hiatus. I need to plan out how the next 10 or so chapters will go.