JLJ: Christmas Special
So this is a crossover Christmas special involving my JLJ verse. This chapter focuses on the Love Hina side of things, for now, and establishes that Keitaro is the Flash.
Three, two, one.
Hinata Inn, same day
For the past few days, Keitaro had been unusually busy about making sure the place was clean. Not enough so to make any of the tennants suspicious - indeed, Naru planned on her younger sister arriving in a few days, so she didn't complain - but the manager still seemed rather nervous.
As she went about making lunch, Shinobu asked, "Senpai, is anything wrong?"
Keitaro, in the middle of stringing lights across the tree, replied, "No, I'd just like to get this taken care of. Planning to catch up with a friend of mine from middle school later on."
"You even had friends that far back?"
Keitaro's eye twitched at Mitsune's remark, wondering where the hell that had even come from. Bad enough that she was lazy and irresponsible as hell, she spent most of her time trolling everone else.
Naru, who was taking care of ornaments near the bottom of the tree, absently said, "You know, Keitaro, Motoko told me she needed a new practice dummy for her kendo training."
Then, with an impish grin, she looked her boyfriend in the eye and continued, "I say we tie up Mitsune and leave her under the tree 'till Christmas morning, with a card saying 'To Motoko, from Naru and Keitaro'."
Returning the grin, Keitaro added, "Or we could just hang her up in the dojo, covered with ribbons and bows."
"Why you -" Mitsune stormed off in a huff, apparently intent on bothering someone else.
The lovebirds shared a laugh and a high-five as the radio belted out one Christmas tune after another.
"So, tell me about this friend of yours."
"He was one of the popular kids, and one day when I was getting picked on, he stood up for me. We didn't become best friends right away or anything like that, but sometimes we'd hang out at an arcade or study together. When Kanako and I moved to another town just before high school, though, we kinda fell out of touch until about two years ago. Then, a few days ago, he called and asked if we could meet and shoot the breeze a bit."
"Any chance I've heard of him?"
"Yeah, he's that astronaut, Guy Shishioh."
Naru stopped what she was doing and slowly turned to look at him. "You know an astronaut and never thought to tell me? That would've been very. Nice. To. Know!"
Drawing something of a blank on the question was relevant, and therefore more than a bit nervous, Keitaro asked, "...Why?"
Rolling her eyes with exasperation, Naru shook her head and puts her hands on her hips. "So that the next time someone wonders why the heck we're together, I can brag about how my boyfriend's pals with an astronaut! You know how big a fan I am of space-related stuff!"
Keitaro blanched with fear, as he had, in fact, completely forgotten that a) his girlfriend was indeed a massive fan of space and all things connected to it, and b) an old friend of his was an astronaut.
Seeing that she'd invoked the intended reaction, Naru leaned over him with a smile and lightly poked him. "I'll definitely, absolutely forgive you for this one, though... providing that you introduce us, of course."
"Of course, no problem, I'll introduce you to him tomorrow!"
Playfully winking at her boyfriend, she tapped him on the nose. "Fantastic! Come up later and you might-just-find-yourself-a-present."
And so it was with a light spring in her step that Naru went up to their room.
Man, I never know what goes on in her head...
Accelerating into superspeed on reflex, the science student deftly dodged Su's flying kick, and spared a second to wonder where she'd picked that up from in the first place. His first suspicion would've been Kamen Rider, but at once doubted it because she would've been inspired to try and turn somebody into a cyborg superhero.
Then he observed her smash into the wall. Not through it, fortunately. That would've been a nightmare to fix in the snowy weather.
"Owwie. Why'd you have to go and do that, Keitaro? You're not as fun since you got fast enough to not get hurt anymore..."
Keitaro got a bitter laugh out of that - causing him pain was a game to her, after all. He knew the Molmol princess well enough to understand that she didn't mean it out of spite or malice. Of course, despite understanding that, he had no intention of letting himself get kicked in the face for no good reason.
As for fast, she didn't even know the half of it. At least, he suspected she didn't. The only ones he knew that knew about it were Naru, Haruka, and Motoko - the former two because he'd told them (though at different times), the latter because he'd had to reveal it in a crisis.
At that moment, he heard a scream from outside, and immediately recognized it as Motoko's.
Accelerating back to superspeed, he ran outside, took immediate stock of the situation - Koalla's impact with the wall had apparently been hard enough to dislodge the ladder Motoko was on, having been stringing lights across the side of the Inn - ran up the wall, caught her in his arms, backflipped off the wall, pumped his lugs to create a column of air beneath him to ensure a gentler landing for his passenger, and straightened up the ladder so it wouldn't fall the rest of the way.
All within the space of a half-second.
"You all right, Motoko?"
As her mind caught up with what had - or rather, what had almost happened, the swordswoman's expression flashed from fear, to incomprehension, to unnerved, to quiet gratitude. "I'm fine. ... You may let me down anytime, you know."
"Whoops! Sorry, there you go. Since I'm already out here, I'll go ahead and finish this -"
Motoko lightly smacked him in the back of the head. "That won't be necessary, I won't be more than a few minutes anyway."
His hands in a placating gesture, Keitaro said, "Okay, okay, I'll let you take care of it..."
Heading back in, he absently muttered, "When I try to help someone I get brushed off, but when I'm needed everyone's screaming for me. Geez..."
Taking a drink of hot coffee, Haruka said, "Your compassionate nature is not a bad thing, Keitaro, nor is your speed. While your readiness to combine them is great on a city or national scale, however, it's less so on the domestic level. Motoko turned away your help for the same reason that Shinobu insists on the cooking and laundry."
"Because I suck?" Keitaro asked.
"Because doing it herself makes her feel more relevant. It's less of a problem for Motoko since you can't master kendo for her, but we both know that if she asked and you could, you would. It's just something to think about."
Keitaro, who hadn't considered it in that light, smiled and nodded. "I see. Thanks for the advice, aunt Haruka. And Merry Christmas."
Not even twitching at the reference to her age, Haruka returned his smile with a small one of her own. "Merry Christmas, Keitaro."
Going in, Keitaro observed that everything was taken care of, so he went to bed, idly wondering what Naru had had in mind. He didn't expect much, maybe she'd be giving him something class-related earlier than intended - seemed like the kind of thing she'd normally do when she was in a great mood.
What he found was a redhead in a sexy santa suit.
With a sultry expression, she bade him forward.
And that is where we will draw the curtain for tonight. Next chapter will be a continuation of plot points set up in this chapter and the previous, while also focusing on the GaoGaiGar side of things.