Love Hina Fan Fiction ❯ Loss and Redemption ❯ Warm Blood and Cold Steel ( Chapter 2 )
Disclaimer: Love Hina is the property of Ken Akamatsu, TV Tokyo, and probably enough lawyers to sink an aircraft carrier. This fanfic is for entertainment purposes only, and may not be distributed for profit. I'm not making any money off of this; I am doing it just for personal enjoyment. Please don't sue.
Besides, most of my money is already spoken for by my friendly neighborhood Snap-On tools distributor.
Any comments, complaints, complements, flames, and credit card numbers can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org Feedback and reviews would be greatly appreciated.
I would like to thank all reviewers for the feedback that was provided. It was taken to heart and I attempted to try any suggestion to improve this chapter. If I haven't succeeded, the fault is mine.
I would also like to thank Harvey Bautista for serving as a pre-reader. I owe ya man. Next time you're in my neck of the woods, the beers are on me.
*Warning from the Author*
I have received a few reviews in which people said they liked the humor. Well the truth is this wasn't supposed to have any humor but the pop culture references defeated that purpose. I intend for this to be a drama, not a comedy. There may be a light moment from time to time, but make no mistake, this is a drama, and the mood will get darker before it gets brighter. But it WILL get brighter. If you're still interested, keep reading.
This fanfic is based on the manga and anime and borrows facets from both of them.
"*" Spoken words
Loss and Redemption
Chapter One: Warm Blood and Cold Steel
To put it bluntly, dinner was uncomfortable for all. There was a strained silence that hung over the table like a roiling thunderhead, crackling with potential fury and violence. Naru was sitting at the table, her hunger overcoming her wish to just get away from it all. All of the other residents, if only subconsciously, gave her that little bit more room, as if they feared being too close to the seemingly imminent explosion, and becoming collateral damage. Naru herself hadn't spoken at all, with the exception of asking Shinobu to pass the soy sauce. Even that innocent request had caused the other people at the table to jump slightly.
Sitting directly opposite to Naru, Keitaro felt like he was on the wrong end of a firing range, with all the stares he was receiving. Sitting to his left, Motoko was also under close scrutiny from the other girls, each of them pondering the present situation.
'What the hell's up with that smile?' wondered Kitsune, 'I don't think a statue could hold it's expression that long. Is she catatonic or what? And just moving in with Keitaro like that, doesn't she care about Naru's feelings?'
Kitsune knew that Naru would probably not admit any feelings for Keitaro even under sodium pentothal, but it was as plain as day. She risked a quick glance at Naru and saw her staring down into her rice bowl. 'Why don't you say something, raise a fuss, scream, hell throw a temper tantrum, something to show that you care? Maybe Keitaro thinks that you don't like him that way, and you didn't even try to stop the wedding.'
Kitsune took a savage bite of her meal, and began chewing methodically. 'Alright, what should I do, simply observe what happens, or take a more active role?' After deliberating for a few minutes she decided that she would cross that bridge when she came to it.
Shinobu's thoughts were of a similar nature, mainly 'how could sempai do this? Doesn't he love Naru? If he was willing to marry Motoko, could he have married someone else, like…me?' Shinobu blushed at this thought. As poorly concealed as Naru's feelings for Keitaro were, they were inscrutable compared to Shinobu's crush. Contrary to what she believed, the only person who was in the dark about her feelings for Keitaro was, naturally, Keitaro. The prospect that maybe, just maybe, she might have had a chance with him and had wasted it sent a rusty dagger into Shinobu's heart. 'Sempai…'
If Naru's thoughts had been transcribed, one might be forgiven for thinking that it was a conversation between two different people. Indeed, Naru felt like she was trying to defend her actions at a trial.
Why didn't you stop this?
It doesn't matter what that idiot does.
Really? Then how come you go ballistic when he's with Mutsumi, or any other girl?
Because he acts like a pervert.
Aside from few admittedly stupid occurrences of him accidentally peeping, when?
The first time we met, in the bath.
You know that was an accident, right?
I…I…I guess it was, I suppose. It doesn't matter to me who he dates, marries, loves…
Then how do you explain your jealousy?
I'm not jealous.
Right, you knock him into orbit because you don't care. Well guess what, he thinks you don't, and now he's gone, married to Motoko.
Naru's grip on the bowl tightened to the point that the porcelain began to creak in protest.
Su also had a few questions that she was pondering; however she lacked the cultural sensitivity, and tact, to keep these questions internal. "Motoko, are you and Keitaro really gonna sleep together?" In the gasps of surprise, no one noticed that Naru had snapped her chopsticks.
"Yes Su, we are," replied Motoko, in the same tone of voice she would have used to ask Su to pass the salt. Keitaro went slightly pale at this reminder.
Naru's grip on the bowl tightened further and cracks began to appear on its' surface.
"Then can I sleep with you two then?" inquired Su. Keitaro's eyebrow began to twitch.
"No Su, it wouldn't be appropriate," chided Motoko. Keitaro let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding.
"Aw, then who can I sleep with tonight?" asked Su. The other residents blanched at this question. Everyone knew that sleeping with Su was a memorable experience, especially while the bruises healed. "Hey Naru, wanna sleep together?"
At this point the bowl finally gave up the ghost and broke, causing a few cuts.
She didn't even notice any pain. All of the others, except Su, recoiled at the sight.
Keitaro recovered quickly, and concern for Naru's well-being overrode his unease over her behavior. "Naru you're hurt! Let me help you!" he blurted out as he came around the table.
Naru's face contorted in anger before she responded. "Get away from me you bastard!" she shrieked, before nailing him with a right cross that sent him spinning into the wall. He lay there dazed, clutching his cast-bound leg and moaning.
"Honoured Husband!" Motoko exclaimed, and rushed over to his side. "Why did you do that Naru?"
"When he comes to his senses, tell him to stay the hell away from me!" Naru spat. "That goes for you too, Aoyama!"
"That's Urashima, Naru," Motoko replied quietly.
When people are excited, for whatever reason, they tend to color in the face, such as being red with anger, or blushing in embarrassment. Naru's facial color at this point could have easily been described as 'red-rage'. But upon hearing the word 'Urashima' from Motoko, Naru's color went crimson. Her fury lit the afterburners and went from 'ballistic' to 'escape velocity' in seconds. She stomped over to Motoko, and slapped her across the face with a *crack* so loud, it made everyone wince. "I don't care, just go away!" screamed Naru, all the while glowering over a timid Motoko. She then turned around and bolted out of the dining room at a dead run.
Kitsune's mind was going at a mile a minute clip as she considered what she had just witnessed. "Wh-why didn't you defend yourself Motoko?" she stammered.
"A proper housewife does not shy away from criticism," she said meekly. "Honored Husband, are you all right?"
'Naru…,' thought Keitaro despondently, 'why did it have to come to this?' "I'm O.K., Motoko." 'Maybe Naru will be willing to talk later.' "I just need to get up. Thank you for dinner Motoko, it was quite good."
"You're welcome, Honored Husband." Because she was bowing when she said that, she missed the pained look that crossed Keitaro's face.
'I wish she'd call me 'Keitaro', or even 'Urashima', he silently reflected. "I'm just going to rest awhile. I'll be in the living room if anyone's looking for me."
"And I have laundry to do, as well as cleaning up our room," added Motoko. See you later Honored Husband."
OK," he replied listlessly.
As the newlyweds left the kitchen, an uncomfortable silence descended on the kitchen. As always, Su broke up the quiet moment.
"Okies, I guess I'll sleep with Sarah tonight!" Su piped up. For her part, Sarah was able to suppress the shudder that overcame her.
A few hours later, Keitaro found himself outside Naru Narusegawa's room, trying to work up the courage to knock on the door and talk to her. After five minutes of trying to calm himself, he decided to throw caution to the wind and he knocked loudly on the door. "Naru, it's me, I need to talk to you!" he called out.
There was a noise from inside the room, and shortly the door slid open to reveal Naru standing there, wearing her usual study outfit, and an unreadable expression on her face. "Come in Keitaro, there's something I need to tell you too," she stated calmly.
As he walked in, Keitaro replied, "good, good, maybe we can straighten this out." Naru nodded silently as she moved aside her Liddo-kun doll to reveal the opening beneath.
"Yes, Keitaro, I've already figured out the perfect solution for both of us," she replied in a even voice that set off alarm bells in Keitaro's mind. "How it works is that the both of you STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM ME!" Naru screamed as she effortlessly picked up Keitaro and bodily threw him down through the hole into his room. She placed the cover back over the hole and then moved a dresser on top of it.
'I got that message clearly,' Keitaro mused as he stared up at the hole in his ceiling, waiting for the room to stop spinning. 'I'll say this for Naru, she's direct. No confusion over intentions there.' As his head cleared, Keitaro decided that now would be a good time to look at 'their' room.
Actually, it wasn't a good time, he wasn't sure he ever wanted to see what had changed. He had stayed out of this room since his return for just this reason, but now that he was here, he might as well get it over with.
To his initial relief, there wasn't that much of a difference. There were two swords on a rack against the wall, a couple of calligraphy wall hangings, and a suit of samurai armour. In fact, it was actually an improvement; the new additions gave the room some character, and an air of life that had been absent. The suit of armour really looked good next to the two futons, and the wall hangings…
Wait a minute.
'My God!' his mind screamed, 'she was serious about sleeping together!'
To his shame, Keitaro realized that a portion of his body was not entirely against that idea. 'No! Not like this!' He took several deep cleansing breaths and was able to rein in his hormones, and clear the surprisingly detailed fantasies from his mind. Once the struggle between brain versus gonads was over, he sighed in relief, turned around-
-and almost put a second hole in his ceiling as Motoko had, by teleportation perhaps, he couldn't rule it out, somehow appeared right behind him. "M-M-Motoko…" he stammered.
Motoko was still wearing that fake smile that he was really beginning to despise, and her eyes were still dark and cold and dead. It was like she was trying to convince herself and everyone else that everything was alright, but Keitaro knew that that this had to be killing her, and he was afraid of what would happen when she finally broke.
"Are you going to bed, Honored Husband?"
'Yeah, lemme just wash up a bit first," he replied as he headed for the bathroom to get ready for bed. A few minutes later, teeth brushed, face washed and ready for bed, Keitaro walked back into the room and caught an eyeful of Motoko as she stripped down for bed.
"Augh! I'm sorry Motoko, it was an accident, I'll knock next time!' he blurted out, turning around and covering his eyes, dreading the inevitable battle cry and impact. When neither occurred after a few moments, Keitaro risked a brief look over his shoulder and saw Motoko standing there, no anger on her face and no sword in her grasp.
"Why would it matter that you saw me, Honored Husband? You could see any part of me if you so desired," said Motoko in a monotone that disturbed Keitaro more than anything else that had happened so far. She continued undressing, removing the last of her chest bindings, leaving her topless before him. With the same smile she said, "I would let you see any part of me that you wanted." She bent over and removed her pants, leaving her clad only in panties and socks.. "You could have me anyway you wanted to, anytime you wanted to. You could take pictures, tie me up, share me with your friends, anything. As your wife it would be my duty to be obedient to your wishes." She took off her socks and finally, she removed her panties and stood naked in front of him, still wearing that same chilling smile.
In Keitaro's opinion Motoko was gorgeous, but there was nothing sexy about the way she was acting now. It reminded him of the last time that he had had a physical, and had to strip down for the doctor. Cold, clinical purpose, nothing more.
'She's absolutely serious,' he realized with dawning horror. 'I could take her, and she wouldn't do anything to stop me.'
Keitaro was relieved that no part of him seemed to favor this option, which meant that looking in the mirror wouldn't be an exercise in avoidance.
However, he now needed to do something to prevent the prospect of Motoko attempting to initiate any proceedings.
He faked a yawn and said, "It's been a hectic day, my leg is killing me, and I just wanna sleep now. We won't do anything tonight, just put on your nightclothes."
"Very well, Honored Husband. There's always tomorrow," replied Motoko as she went to the drawer and pulled out a long t-shirt and put it on.
"Yeah," he replied weakly, and laid down on his futon.
Motoko laid down on hers, said "goodnight Honored Husband," and turned off the light. In the dark silence of the room Keitaro subtly edged away from Motoko's futon and tried to think of a way to improve the situation they were in.
'How am I gonna get outta this one? Do I even want to? Sure, she's gorgeous, and being married to her could be nice. Hell, I AM supposedly married to her, but we never really had a choice did we? No, she's gotta be dying, forced to give up the sword, and becoming just a housewife. I have to bring the old Motoko back, I just gotta figure out how…' Keitaro's musings continued until he passed into a troubled, fitful sleep.
Motoko's thoughts were also on the marriage, but on a different topic than Keitaro's. 'His leg hurts and he's tired? He always seemed to have enough energy when he was peeping at Naru.' Her spirits sank even further as she continued that thought process. 'He would go out of his way to peep at Naru, no matter how awkward the situation, but I was right here and he wasn't even interested. No nosebleed, no wide-eyes, nothing that would say he enjoyed seeing me.' She clenched her teeth and blinked rapidly to prevent any tears from forming. 'It's bad enough I can no longer be a warrior, but do I have to be unloved as well?'
When Motoko finally acquiesced to sleep, her dreams were filled with images and feelings of loneliness and abandonment
The following morning, and the 5 mornings that came after that were all progressively worse than the night before. Motoko seemed to lose more and more of herself and her eyes, which Keitaro would have sworn couldn't have been any more lifeless than that first day, became just that. She lost more and more of her natural poise and grace, moving in a way that reminded Keitaro of a puppet controlled by an unskilled puppeteer. She seemed to have less focus in her movements, walking with almost a resigned gait.
She was keeping herself busy with household chores and she had almost supplanted Shinobu in the role of housekeeper. Shinobu still performed some tasks, such as occasionally cooking or doing laundry, but she was able to do these only when Motoko was out of the house.
What was worse was the change in the atmosphere of Hinata House. Keitaro and Motoko were obviously going through a stressful time and it was having a draining effect on the other residents. Naru had retreated to her room, coming out only to eat or bathe, both of which she made every effort to do alone. Kitsune spent hours with Naru, letting her rant while she served as a sounding board, in the hopes that it would help her figure out a way to sort out this mess. But teasing Keitaro and Naru wasn't in the same league as trying to repair the damage in their relationship. Kitsune couldn't see a way to help out, and even when she tried to force Naru and Keitaro together to talk, Naru would usually throw Keitaro out the door.
Without opening it first.
Shinobu was more withdrawn, not talking to anyone unless spoken to first, and even then her answers were usually 'yes' or 'no'. Even the dynamic duo of Koalla Su and Sarah MacDougal were downcast. Su made only token efforts to catch Tama-chan and Sarah thought constantly about Seta.
Basically, the tension was becoming unbearable, and something had to give. What finally broke the situation was initiated when Motoko happened to overhear a conversation between Naru and Kitsune. She hadn't meant to eavesdrop, but she hadn't been able to help herself when she realized that they were talking about her and Keitaro.
"Dammit Naru," hissed Kitsune, "why aren't you talking to him, trying to find out how he feels and what he wants to do?"
"I don't care what he wants Kitsune, Naru replied. "I just want to get on with my life and try to forget him. 'Sides, I'm sure he's enjoying the marriage bed. The perverts…" she muttered darkly.
'Marriage bed?' thought Motoko. Why hasn't he tried anything, am I that undesirable?'
"I don't think so Naru," said Kitsune, "you live above them, I live next to them, and I haven't heard anything, have you?"
"No, but maybe they're just careful."
"I think I would have heard something, or Keitaro would have been grinning like an idiot, or they'd be washing bed sheets on a daily basis."
'Are we, are we supposed to be like that?! I couldn't, could I?' A blush passed over Motoko's features as she asked herself what she was capable of. The answers she got back were both disquieting and a little exciting, although she wouldn't admit it under torture.
Naru responded to Kitsune's soliloquy with, "so maybe they haven't had sex. So what? Maybe it's that time of the month, maybe they're just extra quiet, or maybe Keitaro's saving himself for me. I just can't deal with this anymore, Kitsune. I want it to end, one way or another, with him or without him. I'll move on, avoid them as much as possible, and good luck to them." 'Damn you Tsuruko! Why did you have to show up when you did?' "Kitsune, you're my friend, but please, just leave me alone for now, O.K.? I think I'll take a little trip by myself for a while. You know, run away and clear my head."
Kitsune's frown was sharp enough to chip granite, but she silently nodded in agreement. "Just don't do anything rash."
"I won't. Now will you please give me a shot from that bottle and go?"
"Sure Naru. Careful, it's bourbon, not sake." There was a brief gulping sound, followed by a couple of hoarse coughs. "Told ya, not for amateurs."
"Thanks," rasped Naru, "see you later Kitsune."
"Stay safe Naru."
As footsteps approached the door, Motoko silently ducked into an empty bathroom. 'So, Naru's giving up on Keitaro. Should I be depressed or thrilled?' Motoko gripped the door handle until her knuckles went white. 'Does he care for me at all? Do I mean so little to him that he goes out of his way to avoid me? Am I destined for a life without love!? Damn you sister, why'd you do this to me?!'
"Honored Husband, do you wish to make love tonight?"
Keitaro nearly bit through the mug he was drinking tea from at that question. As it was, he had to wait for the coughing to stop before he could think of a reply. 'Where the hell did that come from?! One minute we're just relaxing in our room, the next it's 'Surprise!'
"My leg's still bothering me Motoko," he replied when he was able to put a coherent thought together. The 'broken leg' gambit had worked well enough before so he used it without really thinking about it.
"I see Honored Husband. I think I will turn in for tonight."
"Alright then, goodnight Motoko." 'Am I imagining things or did she seem a little more 'down' than normal? Maybe the stress is getting to her.' The light was turned off and both of the Urashimas started to drift off to sleep. However, Mrs. Urashima had other ideas; she had decided on a course of action that that would both honor her sisters' wishes and free the both of them from this prison. It was simple really. Keitaro seemed to love Naru, not her, and she didn't think that she loved him. Better to set him free, after all they hadn't even made the marriage official.
Motoko swiftly but quietly walked over to the two swords on the wall picked up the shorter one and stealthily walked into the hallway, the door closing with a soft 'click'.
The 'click' was just the right volume to rouse Keitaro, who had been at the precipice of falling asleep. He glanced over to his side: Motoko wasn't there. 'Musta gone to the bathroom,' he mused wearily as he rolled over onto his side. His eyes slowly adjusted to the dark and he happened to glance at the sword rack. The long sword was gleaming like chrome in the moonlight. He closed his eyes and once again made an effort to fall asleep.
Suddenly his eyes flew open as his thought process jumped off the rails. 'Waitaminute! Where the hell's the short one?!' Keitaro went pale as one possibility suddenly materialized in his head. 'Jesus, No! Oh god, Motoko!'
He leapt to his feet and bolted into the hallway, decency be damned. 'Which way, which way?' he frantically tried to determine his destination when inspiration struck. 'Annex rooftop, the laundry area, that's gotta be it!, and he took off as fast as he could.
As fate would have it, Motoko was at the laundry area, sitting in the lotus position, facing the direction of Imperial Palace and opening her hakama to expose her abdomen. The sword, which had always been comfortable in her hands, now felt cold and heavy, as if it was trying to discourage her.
"One quick thrust, and it's all over. I can die with honor and escape this hell," Motoko murmured to herself as she slowly and deliberately raised the sword. 'I'm sorry Keitaro, this is for both of us.' She tensed her muscles for one last, final, thrust and…
Keitaro's scream almost had the opposite effect: Motoko jerked in surprise and the sword started its' plunge. Fortunately she was able to check its' movement at the last second.
"Motoko, what the hell are you doing!?"
"You need to ask?"
"I mean, why the hell are you doing this?!"
"It'll free both of us; I'll be out of this loveless marriage, you can pursue Naru, and I can die as a warrior."
"Why do you call it loveless? We, we have some good felling for each other, don't we? I don't hate you, I care for you, and I'm worried about right now. I don't want to see you do something rash." After a seconds consideration Keitaro added, "Naru isn't very interested in me right now. She's been nailing me with a lot more force than usual lately. I think that if she never saw me again she'd be thrilled. Why the hell are we talking about Naru now? Why can't you still live as a warrior? Lots of people don't live and die by their elder siblings word."
A fearsome scowl fell over Motoko's features. "You care?" she spat venomously. "You're lying! You've avoided me, you haven't even touched me, much less make the marriage official." Lost in her fury and frustration, Motoko failed to see Keitaro go pale at that comment. "I can't be a warrior and you won't let me be a woman. My sister must have been insane, thinking that the two of us would work. I honoured her wishes because it is our way, it is tradition, it is what I used to live for." She looked Keitaro straight in the eye and said, "Don't worry about Naru, she'll come around eventually. The only way she'd never forgive you is if you killed her parents or raped Shinobu. But I don't think you'd do either, so she'll forgive you eventually. And if I'm out of the way, you can be together."
Keitaro had to violently suppress a feeling of relief at the prospect of Naru forgiving him. 'Gotta stay focused, or Motoko's gonna do this!' "I do care, but until you said that, I figured you'd introduce me to the business end of your sword if I tried anything physical with you. I don't even know if that's what you really want of if you're trying to live up to your sisters wishes!" Keitaro took a breath and the continued. "Is tradition worth dying for? Is it worth losing everything and leaving everyone who cares for you behind? You'll hurt everyone if you do this, not just yourself."
"Will you be hurt Urashima?" Motoko asked plainly.
"Yes," he stated simply, and with total conviction.
After a few moments of reflection Motoko looked up and said, "I believe you Urashima, but I also believe you'd be happier with Naru. I also know that honor and tradition mean everything to me, and without that I have nothing. Keitaro was chilled by the resignation that he saw etched on her features. "I grow weary of arguing, Urashima. Farewell."
With that Motoko raised the sword, closed her eyes and with a quick release of breath thrust the sword towards herself. She was surprised at the total absence of pain as the sword ceased its' movement when it encountered resistance.
She kept her eyes closed, assuming that the next time she opened them she'd be in a better world. It was all so painless she was amazed to discover, just a slight cold touch on her stomach. The only thing that prevented the experience from being completely peaceful was a strained groaning sound, a sound of dripping, and a warm, wet feeling in her lap. 'My blood, I suppose,' she reflected, 'but I still can't believe how painless this is, I've had paper cuts that hurt more.'
As she opened her eyes, prepared to be face to face with her ancestors, Motoko was shocked by the spectacle that was before her. Keitaro was on his knees before her, his face twisted in a rictus of agony. Only a supreme act of will was preventing him from screaming. 'The groans had been his,' she suddenly realized. With a sudden frightened reluctance Motoko slowly looked down towards her abdomen. The tip of her sword was oh-so-gently touching just above her navel. The blade, which should have been shining in the moonlight, was flowing with black. A small voice in the back of her mind said that if the light had been brighter, that fluid would be dark red.
In spite of the fact that he had a broken leg, in spite of the fact that he was in love with someone else, in spite of having virtually no martial arts training, Keitaro had grabbed the blade of her sword and stopped the thrust… at obvious personal cost. Blood was flowing down the blade, dripping into her lap, far too much to be safe, and still he hung on, his knuckles white with exertion.
Shaken to her very core, Motoko felt her fingers go limp; the sword fell from her hands on to the roof with a clatter. As the sword fell, Keitaro collapsed on his side, his agony apparent, desperately clutching at his hands, attempting to staunch the bleeding. But his eyes were focused on Motoko, burning, unwavering, unflinching and it was obvious to her that he'd rather bleed to death than look away.
"Why?" was the only coherent thought that she could vocalize at that moment.
"To-too many people care about you, m-me included, to just let you go," he rasped between obviously pained breaths. "I wouldn't let anyone go without a fight." Keitaro noticed that Motoko's face was blank from disbelief, but considering the fake smile that she'd been wearing since they'd gotten back, it was actually an improvement in his opinion.
At least it was real.
Then he noticed a gradual change in her expression that would have looked more at home on Shinobu, but not on Motoko. Her lips curled down and her eyes began to go moist. She leaned towards him and slapped him so hard it loosened a couple of his teeth. All of the frustration, sadness, rage and loathing she had felt and directed inward were unloaded against a new and convenient target.
"Bastard! Why couldn't you have let me be?! Why'd you risk yourself!?" Each statement was accompanied by another brain rattling slap. "Why did you have to care?! Why don't you hate me? I've ruined your chances with Naru! I've tried to kill you! Why did you come into my life?" By now, Motoko's slaps were losing some of their force, to Keitaro's great relief; he felt like he'd lost a game of chicken… with a train on the other side.
Her sobs were getting louder and tears were unabashedly falling from her cheeks. She slapped him again with virtually no force and then collapsed against him, crying out loud.
Not realizing the level of Motoko's internal turmoil, but figuring that anything was better than her trying to kill herself, Keitaro made an effort to comfort her. Gingerly, and favoring his bloody hands, Keitaro gently held Motoko and let her cry onto his shoulder. Some tears of his own fell, only a few from the pain in his hands. His heart broke seeing the once strong, free-spirited Motoko reduced to this. 'It's all my fault, I've got to do something. Maybe I can talk to Tsuruko…' Keitaro let that thought drop as Motoko seemed to be calming down.
"I'm sorry Honored Husband, I…"
"Quit calling me that!" Keitaro was fed up with that title, and he'd be damned if he'd ever let Motoko call him that again! "I liked it better when you were calling me 'bastard' and hitting me! At least that was honest."
"Please Motoko, if nothing else, don't call me that again. It doesn't suit either of us, and while were on the subject, why'd you smile like you were?"
"A wife should be happy for her husband, Ho-, Urashima."
"You weren't happy Motoko, at least be honest with yourself. Hell, why are we even married? That ceremony couldn't have been legal."
"A sad smile briefly flashed over Motoko's face. "Don't underestimate my sister, she'll find a way to make it legal, trust me Urashima."
"So we'll get a divorce, annul it, whatever."
"I don't think my sister would accept that. Tell me, do you like your head where it is?"
"Then don't even think of trying that, Urashima." 'You're all that I have left now, and I'm terrified of losing that,' she silently added.
Keitaro rubbed the bridge of his nose, succeeding in getting blood all over his face. "Motoko, I promise you, I will find a way to make this right, which won't be fatal to either of us. Do I have to worry about you trying this again?"
"No, I swear it."
"Alright, then let's go inside, I think we need to clean up a bit." This was a bit of an understatement as the two of them were drenched in Keitaro's blood, and the blood loss in combination with the broken leg meant that Keitaro had a hard time walking. He was moderately surprised when Motoko placed his arm over her shoulder and helped him walk back to their room.
Quite unusually, the drama that had played out on the roof had been a private one, as no one had been awakened by the arguments, suicide attempt, or emotional breakdown afterwards. By unspoken agreement it was decided to keep the nights events a secret.
Motoko helped Keitaro into the washroom to look after his injuries, while she returned to their room. Since she had received no injuries, despite her most fervent efforts, she merely had to change clothes. Keitaro, however, spent 5 minutes bandaging his hands. 'Coulda been worse,' he realized, 'cuts weren't quite deep enough to cut tendons, they just bled heavily.' After cleaning his wounds and bandaging his hands, Keitaro looked at himself in the mirror. 'Sorry Naru. I've got to help Motoko now. I'll find a way to make it up to you,' he thought as he washed the blood from his face.
Once the clean-up was complete, Keitaro limped back to the room. He found Motoko sitting up on her futon watching him closely. "Are you alright?" she inquired.
"Felt better, but I've also felt a lot worse," he replied.
"You're a good man Urashima." She chuckled, the first genuine sign of amusement since they returned. "I bet you never thought you'd hear me say those words, huh?"
Keitaro felt the corners of his mouth curl up slightly. "You're right, never did."
Motoko sighed, "well, I could have done worse for a husband, I suppose."
"I'm afraid I can't say the same about you," he replied. As he noticed her crestfallen look, he walked up to the futon and sat down on it. "What I meant is that I couldn't have picked a better wife if I spent five years looking."
Motoko stared at Keitaro in shocked silence. She then broke out into the warmest smile he had ever seen on her, and in a move that short-circuited his thought processes, reached over and hugged him fiercely. After a few moments of absolute immobility, he hugged her back, only not as tightly. 'She does feel nice, this wouldn't be too hard to get used to…' he then broke of the thought before it lost its 'G' rating.
As they separated, Motoko said, "Urashima, could… could… could you just hold me? Please?"
Keitaro thought about his response for perhaps 5 seconds before giving his answer. "All right, if you wish," he said. He wasn't sure who his heart belonged to, but he figured Naru was probably higher on the list. But he would hold her, and do whatever was necessary to comfort her. As Motoko rested her head on his chest and he wrapped his arms around her, he found himself wondering what he'd be able to do about the marriage and what the two of them wanted. He suspected that they both weren't being completely honest with each other, but he'd worry about that later`. Tomorrow he would begin to work to solve the dilemma they were in, and that meant tracking down and talking with Tsuruko, but tonight…
Tonight, he'd hold a woman he did care for, although he wasn't quite sure how, in his arms and let her take some comfort and security from him and maybe he'd take the same from her. "Sleep well Motoko, I promise I'll make this right."
"I know. I believe you Uras… Keitaro. Good night," she responded drowsily.
As he drifted off, Keitaro wondered what the future would bring. If the future had told him, it's possible that he wouldn't have believed it.
End Chapter One
Once again, thanks to everyone for the feedback. I will keep writing and finish this story, but it's gonna get busy at work soon. There's a sick King Air with my name on it, and it needs a lot of TLC. Not certain when the next chapter will be out, but it will be sooner or later, just keep looking. If you're impatient, feel free to e-mail me with your encouragement.
Next Chapter: Unexpected Mercy, Unexpected Chances