Love Hina Fan Fiction ❯ Loss and Redemption ❯ All's Fair In Love and War ( Chapter 8 )

[ Y - Young Adult: Not suitable for readers under 16 ]

Disclaimer: See Prologue.

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This fanfic is based on the manga and anime and borrows facets from both of them.

"*" Spoken words

'*' Thoughts

Love Hina

Loss and Redemption

Chapter Seven: All's Fair In Love and War

By: hawker_748


Later that evening, Keitaro was laying on his futon thinking about what had happened earlier. Two incredibly beautiful women had kissed him, and had told him that they cared for him. While this might have seemed to be a dream come true for most warm-blooded males, if one stopped to really think about it, this was actually quite a complicated situation. What made matters even more difficult was that he cared deeply for both of them in return.

Naru Narusegawa. Beautiful and witty, she had been the sun in his sky for a long time. While thinking back to their first meeting in the bath still made him cringe in embarrassment, he couldn't even imagine a life without knowing her. He loved to see her smile; when they got along, he felt like he could fly. When she was upset with him, the pain in his heart dwarfed the pain she usually inflicted on him.

That was the main problem in their relationship; Naru was either affectionate with him or attempting to make him the first man in orbit without a spacecraft. 'I wish things could have been easier for us Naru,' he reflected. It's a pity that I seem to have a gift for sticking my foot into my mouth.'

Keitaro then started thinking about the other important woman in his life. Motoko Aoyama. Attractive and graceful, the two of them had gotten off on an even worse footing than him and Naru. Where Naru had been content to just deck him, Motoko had appeared quite ready to kill him. There had been times when he suspected that the only things keeping him alive were witnesses and the potential difficulty in disposing of his corpse.

She had eventually become more accepting of him and had even started to grow fond of him, before a strange twist of fate had forced them together. An attempt to deceive Motoko's older sister Tsuruko had backfired when she had forced the two of them to marry in a ceremony of uncertain legality.

While Keitaro would admit that being married to Motoko wouldn't have been such a bad thing, he had still been carrying a torch for Naru. The thought of losing her had been emotionally devastating. But as bad as it had been for him, it was far worse for his 'bride'. Motoko had also been banished from the Shinmei School, and had everything she had ever worked for ripped away.

He had been forced to act as a crutch for Motoko, something he couldn't bring himself to resent, even saving her life in a suicide attempt. The sadness he'd felt at having to temporarily let Naru go had been replaced with acceptance of Motoko, then affection, and possibly even love. Without intention, he'd fallen for Motoko, and he was now willing to spend the rest of his life with her.

The only problem was, he had realized that he still cared for Naru, and he couldn't just let her go. He was now in the unfortunate situation of having to choose between the two of them. But he didn't want to, at least not now. If he made a choice, the possible consequences would be enormous. Hinata House would never be the same, and every resident would be affected. It was better to stay the course, and hope that things would work themselves out on their own.

'So what now?' Keitaro wondered. 'Am I supposed to make a decision? And how do I do that? Flip a coin? Rock-paper-scissors?' He snorted at that thought. 'That's just stupid. Maybe things will be easier in the morning.' With that thought, Keitaro slid under the covers and prepared to turn of the light and go to sleep.

At this point Motoko walked in and started getting ready for bed. "Ready for another early class tomorrow?" she asked as she started to get undressed.

'Back to the early grind.' "Yeah, I'll be ready," he replied, although his tone indicated that he had liked being able to sleep in today.

Motoko gave him a winning smile. "Glad to hear it," she said as she removed her hakama and started unwrapping her bindings with her back to him.

Keitaro looked up and froze when he realized what he was seeing. Transfixed, he watched as her wrap was removed, layer after layer, until only the smooth skin of her back was visible. Without turning around, but making no attempt to cover up either, she walked to the dresser clad only in her panties. She reached into a drawer and pulled out not her usual nightshirt, but a bra. 'Jesus,' he thought, 'I know that bra!' He had bought it for Motoko as a Christmas present.

Motoko looked over her shoulder, saw Keitaro gaping at her, and had to work hard to keep from laughing. 'He's cute when he's flustered,' she considered. She put her arms through the straps, pulled it into place and called out to him. "Keitaro, could you help me please?"

Keitaro's brow twitched once. "Excuse me?" he replied quietly.

Motoko looked straight at him and said, "Could you come here and do this up for me?"

For a split second, Keitaro's heart stopped. Then it started beating like a jackhammer. His blood pressure could have inflated a tire. "Alright," he croaked out, his throat as dry as cotton. He slowly stood up and started walking towards Motoko, remembering how embarrassed he had been buying that bra. It had been a humiliating experience, hearing all those snickers from the women in the shop. When that clerk had asked him if he was certain that this was his size, he'd wanted to die right there. Then she had given the knife another twist and said that he'd probably look better in a red lace teddy.

When he'd given it to Motoko, he'd never expected to see it again, except maybe in the laundry, never mind being asked to do it up! As he grasped each of the ends in his trembling hands, he rasped out, "Which ones?"

It took Motoko a moment to realize he meant which loop on the strip he should hook into. "The first one," she replied. She felt him hook it together and was little disappointed that he had barely touched her. 'He's probably just being a gentleman,' she thought to herself in consolation.

For Keitaro, it had taken all of the willpower he had to stop herself from letting go of the straps and gently running his hands along Motoko's smooth skin. Even now his hands were reaching out to touch her, despite his brain screaming at them to cease and desist. Finally, they acknowledged the orders and fell to his sides, not a split second before Motoko turned around.

"Time for bed," she said, and proceeded to walk over to the futon and lay down on it.

After a moment, Keitaro walked over as well, all the while trying to use his hands to nonchalantly conceal a sign of his excitement from Motoko. He figured that she probably knew it was there, but it was still kind of embarrassing walking around with one. He lay down, quickly covered himself to the waist, and reached over to turn out the light. "Goodnight Motoko," he said as he turned off the light.

He put his head down on the pillow when he felt what seemed to be silk fall against his face. He realized it was Motoko's hair just before he felt her lips press against his own. He felt his arms reach up and embrace Motoko as he returned the kiss willingly.

Much too soon for Keitaro's liking, Motoko broke the kiss, placed her lips next to his ear and whispered "Goodnight Kei-kun," in a throaty voice that nearly turned his blood to fire. She then rested her head on his chest, wrapped her arms around him, and snuggled in close.

Keitaro kept her in an embrace as he struggled to calm himself down. 'Mint,' he thought idly to himself, 'she must have used my mouthwash.' He lay there, just enjoying the feeling of closeness, and thinking back on what had occurred earlier. He and Motoko had gone for a picnic, admitted that they cared for each other, and had almost ended up making love.

Then, when they had gotten back to Hinata House, Naru had kissed him, admitted that she cared for him, and had said that she didn't want to lose him. That one revelation had thrown his mind for a loop and had reminded him of how much he cared for Naru.

All and all, it meant that despite how tired he was, and how nice it felt to have Motoko in his arms, sleep didn't come easy that night.


The next morning Naru was awakened by the sounds of Keitaro and Motoko heading for the roof to train. She sat there for a few moments, trying to figure out a way to talk to Keitaro without Motoko being there. In a flash an idea came to her. She got up and stealthily walked into Keitaro's bathroom. Finding the water supply handles, she turned off the flow to the little bathroom. A pair of quick hard twists, and the handles snapped off. She then crept back into her room and waited to start the next phase of her plan.

A little over a hour later, Keitaro walked into his bathroom and discovered, to his chagrin, that there was no water, and that he'd have to replace the handles. He decided to go have breakfast and ask for permission to use the outdoor bath after everyone was done with it.

At the breakfast table, Keitaro's enjoyment of the food was marred by how filthy he was feeling and by Kitsune's cracks about making sure that he was downwind of her. He noticed that Naru wasn't present at the table, but he didn't think too much about that. After eating, he gratefully walked into the outdoor bath and delighted in getting himself clean again. After washing, he just sat there and soaked, trying to sort out all of the confusing feelings he was having.

Sleeping next to Motoko felt… right somehow, but Naru had been his first real love, and he couldn't easily let her go. 'Pity I can't have both of them,' he thought to himself. At this thought, his mind immediately visualized having the both of them at the same time.


The resulting rush of blood to his face and someplace else caused him to wonder if his other organs were getting enough blood. 'I didn't mean like that!' he yelled internally at his mind, which had developed a real perverted side recently.

His ruminations were disrupted when he heard the unmistakeable sound of someone entering the bath. 'What the Hell? I put up the sign!' His mind ran through the probable scenario if he was discovered. Surprise. Screams. Ballistic flight. Extreme pain and embarrassment. He looked around desperately, trying to find a place to hide before he was discovered. If anyone found him in here, it'd be his fault, even with the sign up, he always ended up…

"Hello Keitaro."

Naru's voice cut through all of his mental ramblings like a razor. He looked up and saw her standing there, naked. She was kept semi-decent only by the way her hair was falling over her shoulders and the steam rising from the water. Keitaro stood there completely stunned. Naru was standing naked in front of him with a pleasant expression on her face. There was no hint of impending shock, anger, or violence. Just that soft smile that had always made him feel like he was on top of the world.

Remembering that she had talked to him, Keitaro wracked his brain for a suitable reply. "Didn't you see the sign?" he asked weakly.

"Yes I did," she replied.

"Then why…?" he broke off, unable to finish the question.

"I wanted to see you."

Keitaro just stood there for a minute, thinking about that. He lowered his head to avoid staring at Naru…

…and then realized that she could 'see' more of him than was probably appropriate. He yelped and quickly sat down, his face going beet-red. "AUGH, I'm sorry Naru!" He put up his hands and prepared for impact. Which never came. He lowered his hands and saw Naru walking towards him, still smiling.

"You don't have to be, you know how I feel about you," she replied calmly.

'Like when you threw me through the trapdoor?' his mind asked silently. His eyes widened slightly at that thought, as it had come up involuntarily. He accepted Naru's faults, Motoko's as well, without complaint because they were an integral part of what he loved about them.

The awkward situation was made even more so with the addition of the third side of the love triangle. "Kei-kun, are you all right?" called out Motoko from the changing area.

Keitaro blanched. 'Motoko?! I'm dead!' He was naked, Naru was naked; she'd take one look at this situation, jump to the wrong conclusion, and kill him. DNA would be needed to identify his remains. Realizing that there was nowhere to run or hide, he decided not to move and resigned himself to his fate. Sure enough, there she was, looking at the scene before her. She'd pull her sword out and then…

Hold it.

Where was Motoko's sword? Never mind that, where the hell were her clothes? Why was she naked? If she thought he was in trouble then she wouldn't have…


'She must have decided to surprise me,' Keitaro mused. 'Guess she got more of a surprise than she was expecting.'

There was dead quiet throughout the women's bath. Even the wind and the cicadas had the good sense not to break the silence that now reigned supreme. Motoko and Naru stared at each other, two sets of eyes narrowing. Keitaro's survival instincts started screaming at him to get the hell outta Dodge City NOW. He stood up to leave, but then he hesitated. He cared for both of these women, and he didn't want to see any violence between them. But as he stood there paralysed, he realized that he wasn't sure he could keep the two of them apart if they decided to come to blows.

Naru glared at Motoko, much like she had before she had left. But now Motoko was glaring back at her with a look that was fiercer than any look she'd ever given Keitaro. Naru noticed that Motoko's hands were twitching, and slowly moving to her side. A chill came over her as she realized that Motoko was unconsciously reaching for her sword. Naru then belatedly realized that she was now standing on the balls of her feet and that her fists were clenched.

"What are you doing in here?" hissed Naru. She began slowly moving out of the water towards Motoko. She was trying to reach the entrance where she'd have better footing if a fight ended up breaking out.

"What about you? Didn't you see the sign?" spat Motoko. Motoko saw Naru approaching and automatically started moving around Naru, attempting to size her opponent up. If she'd had her sword with her it would have been no contest. However, she was unarmed, and Naru was formidable in hand-to-hand combat.

"I saw it didn't you?" Naru replied, venom dripping from every syllable.

At this point the two of them were slowly circling each other, looking for an excuse to commence hostilities. Naru was enraged that Motoko had interrupted her attempt to be with Keitaro. Motoko was livid at Naru for attempting to get close to 'her' Keitaro.

"Then why did you come in?" demanded Motoko.

Naru considered giving a lengthy explanation, but then decided the simple truth would work best. "For the same reason you did."

Motoko saw red at that response. She was only vaguely aware of her hand swinging up in a fast arc, barely registered the feel of the impact with Naru's cheek, and didn't even notice the 'crack' of skin against skin. She did remember a feeling of satisfaction upon seeing the surprised look on Naru's face.

For a moment, Naru just stood there, shocked at what had just happened. Then her rage flared up like a volcano, and she swung her right arm in a backhanded arc, her closed fist striking Motoko on the side of the jaw. The force of the blow sent Motoko staggering, her head knocked to one side.

The sight of the two women he cared for coming to blows finally shook Keitaro out of his stupor. Throwing caution to the wind, he started running full tilt towards the combatants, who were now trading punches. This was nothing like a 'catfight'; there was no hair pulling or scratching. There was only two women standing their ground and swinging at each other.

Keitaro had no idea how to stop the fight, so he tried placing himself between the two women, and got nailed by the both of them for his trouble. The twin blow knocked him senseless to the floor, but it had accomplished his goal of stopping the fight. Motoko and Naru's rage was instantly forgotten as a more important issue came up. They both dropped to the floor and attempted to revive the stunned Keitaro.

As they tried to help Keitaro get his bearings back, the two of them continued to glare at each other. 'STAY AWAY FROM HIM!' was the politest thought that each of them had for the other. They then looked down and saw Keitaro staring up at the both of them, the hurt look on his face probably having nothing to do with his injuries.

"Are you alright?" Naru asked a split second before Motoko.

"I, I'm alright," he replied, getting to his feet and spurning both of their offers for help. "Just leave me alone," he muttered softly.

A wave of guilt and shame washed over Naru and Motoko. Knowing that there was nothing that the two of them could say, they walked out of the bath, all of their anger temporarily burned away. Once they were gone, the only sound in the tub was Keitaro's soft sobbing.


After getting dressed, Motoko went looking for Keitaro. She found him sitting on the roof of Hinata House, lost in thought. She considered joining him but vetoed the idea, figuring that Keitaro only went up there when he wanted to be alone. She headed back to her room, her anger returning as she remembered what Naru had attempted. The fact that she had done exactly the same thing was irrelevant to her.

Once inside she began to pace as she considered the possible implications of Naru taking a more active approach with Keitaro. 'I would have never figured on her doing something like that,' she mused. 'Kitsune, sure, but Naru?' She shook her head as she realized that she'd underestimated Naru's determination. She needed to do something that would prevent Naru from making another move like that. As her jaw throbbed, she also made a mental note that from now on, she'd take her sword everywhere.

Motoko stopped in mid-stride as an idea hit her. She took a minute to consider the possible outcome, and then nodded to herself as she realized that this idea would kill two birds with one stone. It would keep Naru and Keitaro apart and it would bring him and her together.

It would even help with his kendo a little.

And so, for the next half hour, Motoko was a whirlwind of activity, getting what she needed for her plan ready. Finally finished, she put the required equipment into the closet and closed it. Fate seemed to be smiling on her as Keitaro entered the room at that moment, meaning that she didn't even need to go get him.

Satisfied that everything was ready, Motoko launched the next phase of her plan. "Are you alright Kei-kun?" she asked.

Her use of the honorific stopped him cold. "Kei-kun?" he repeated.

"Is something wrong with that?" Motoko asked innocently.

"No, no, nothing at all," Keitaro replied.

"Kei-kun, I, I'm sorry for hitting you in the bath. It was an accident," she said apologetically.

"I know," he replied. 'You and Naru were trying to clock each other, I just got in the way.' The thought depressed him even further, as it reminded him of the conflict that he had unwittingly set in motion.

"Kei-kun," Motoko continued, "would you like to a chance to really improve your abilities and get away from all of the distractions for awhile?"

Keitaro considered what she was saying. He remembered the battle in the bath, and he wasn't stupid enough to think that this had had nothing to do with Motoko's suggestion. That coupled with yesterday's revelations made it certain that Motoko was taking the gloves off in her relationship with him. Curious about what Motoko had in mind Keitaro asked, "What do you mean?"

Motoko took a deep breath to steady her nerves and said, "Would you like to come with me on a training trip? Just the two of us?"

'Thought so.' Still, the idea of spending time with Motoko was pleasant; he did like her, possibly even loved her, and the idea of just the two of them… 'No, I shouldn't, what would the others think?' Then another idea occurred to him. 'It might give me some time to think about what I have to do, and at least Motoko and Naru won't be fighting.'

With this thought going through his mind, he nodded and replied, "Yes, I'd very much like that, Motoko." All that he had to do was make sure that nothing happened between them. Thinking about Naru and Motoko fighting would work wonders for killing his libido.

"Do you mind leaving now?" she asked.

"Now? Why?" he replied.

"We'd be going someplace further away than that last time and it will be a longer trip." 'The sooner I get you away from Naru the better. I don't want any unexpected visitors this time.'

"But I have to get ready…"

"Don't worry, I've got everything taken care of," Motoko replied as she went to the closet and pulled out the two backpacks she had prepared. "I've got everything you need in here."

Keitaro gave Motoko a sideways glance as he took the pack from her. 'My, she's gotten quite resourceful, hasn't she?' he asked himself rhetorically. "Alright then," he said, shouldering his load. "Let's go."

The two of them walked through Hinata House to the main door. As they put on their shoes Keitaro asked, "Shouldn't we tell the others?"

"Don't worry, I left a note," Motoko said casually. She didn't mention that the note had read:

I'm taking my husband on a training trip.

See you all later.

Motoko Urashima

With that, the two of them walked down the steps and headed for the mountains of Hinata.


When Kitsune found the note an hour later, she found herself wishing that she had tried harder to help Naru. The way things were going right now, it wasn't looking good for her at all. Keitaro and Motoko had effectively run away together, and if Naru didn't act fast she was dead on arrival. Realizing that there was no time for niceties, she marched towards Naru's room, entered without knocking and thrust the note in her face. She was a little taken aback when she noticed that Naru seemed to have recently picked up a shiner.

"What the hell are you doing Kitsune?!" Naru demanded.

"Read it," Kitsune replied tersely.

Naru took the note from Kitsune and read it. For a few seconds there was no reaction. Then a vein appeared on her temple, her face went crimson, and the note was crumpled in her hands. "That bitch! How dare she?!" Naru shrieked. "Where is she, I'll…"

"They're gone. I don't know where," Kitsune replied tonelessly.

"We, we've got to find them, how do we…"

"Leave that to me." Kitsune walked out the door and motioned for Naru to follow her. The two of them marched into the kitchen. Without any preamble, Kitsune went up to Shinobu and ordered, "Start melting some chocolate." Unnerved by Kitsune's behaviour, Shinobu complied unquestioningly. Kitsune then went to the pantry and pulled out several bunches of bananas. "Start peeling," she told Naru.

"What is this?" asked Naru.

"Trust me," replied Kitsune in a voice that brooked no argument. Taking a bunch for herself, Kitsune then started peeling. After a few minutes all of the bananas were peeled and the chocolate was melted. "Dunk 'em," Kitsune told Shinobu.

Shinobu worked in silence, too nervous to ask questions. Naru didn't even consider asking any questions, as she knew her friend wouldn't give her an answer until she was ready. A few minutes later, there was a plate full of chocolate covered bananas cooling on a plate.

"Come with me," said Kitsune. Naru followed her wordlessly, with Shinobu tagging along, curious as to what was going on. Sarah saw the strange procession and decided to join it just for fun. When Kitsune reached her destination she stopped, knocked on the door and waited. When Su finally opened the door, Kitsune held up the plate, smiled and said, "Su, can we ask you for a small favour?"


After a bus ride and a couple hours of walking, Keitaro and Motoko arrived at their destination. It was a remote area that had many trees, some clearings, and a briskly running stream. There was a mountain cabin nearby as well and that suited Motoko just fine. She had heard about this place, but had never been here before or told anyone else about it. It was her secret, and she figured that this was as private a place as they could get without actually leaving the district.

They rested for a while in the shade of a tree, leaning against the trunk and eating a small meal. After the stress and tension of the war in the bath, the two of them just wished to relax and take an opportunity to try to calm down. Little was said as both of them found the solitude comforting.

After about half an hour, Motoko figured that it was time to train for a while. She started drilling Keitaro on his footwork and was surprised that there was some noticeable improvement. He'd never be mistaken for Musashi, but his footwork was no longer quite so clumsy. When she asked him what he was doing different, he thought for a moment, and then replied that he wasn't really thinking about it. He then proceeded to trip over a rock and fall on his ass.

Once an hour of working on footwork was completed, Motoko decided to see how well Keitaro could handle the blade itself. She demonstrated a simple slashing cut on a small tree that was about five inches thick; one quick slash later, and there was enough firewood for a couple of days. Keitaro then took a swing at a little sapling that wasn't even an inch thick. It took him five minutes to wiggle the blade loose after it got stuck halfway through. Another hour of trying resulted in many trees of similar sizes with large notches in them before he finally was able to take one down in one swing.

By now it was getting close to supper hour, and the two of them had worked up an appetite. The two headed for the cabin, Motoko figuring that they could make a meal from the supplies they'd brought. After dinner, she'd talk to Keitaro and tell him that she wanted to be with him regardless of the cost. She got to the cabin, opened the door and…

Motoko was familiar with deja-vu, but she had never encountered it until now. A part of her mind was chiding her for thinking that she could get away from it all that easily. Sure enough, the other Hinata House residents, even Tama-chan, were waiting for them in the cabin.

Keitaro walked in a second later and nearly jumped out of his skin at the sight of the others. "How, how did you find us?" he finally stammered after he got his mouth to work.

"Details, details," Su said dismissively as she shut her laptop, which was currently hacked into a U.S. photo reconnaissance spy satellite. The other residents called out greetings to them as Motoko and Keitaro just stood there, shocked into paralysis.

Keitaro came out of his stupor and noticed that the cabin seemed to have been retrofitted with running water and electricity, the source of which was a small black box. This box bore both the three-eyed emblem that was Su's trademark and what looked like a radiation-warning symbol. Keitaro didn't look too close as he realized that he didn't really want to know.

Motoko was shaken out of her paralysis at the sight of Naru sitting in the cabin, smiling pleasantly at Keitaro. However, when Naru noticed Motoko staring at her, the smile evaporated from her face and her jaw muscles tightened reflexively. The temperature in the cabin seemed to plummet as Naru and Motoko glared at each other. Motoko's teeth became visible, but her expression was nothing like a smile as she demanded, "Why did you come here?"

Naru slowly stood up and through tightly clenched teeth replied, "We wanted to cheer him on in his training." Kitsune and Shinobu nodded in agreement at that reply, the two of them seemingly unfazed by the battle of wills going on in the cabin.

For Motoko and Naru, the cabin, the other residents, even Keitaro seemed to disappear. The two of them were locked into a staring match in which the loser would probably take the first hit. Naru clenched her fists and leaned forward on the balls of the feet, and Motoko quickly drew her sword in response. This prompted a panicked reaction from the others; Keitaro grabbed Motoko's sword arm and held on for dear life while Kitsune jumped up and attempted to hold Naru's arms behind her.

Motoko and Naru struggled briefly against those restraining them until Keitaro's desperate plea reached their ears. "Stop this please! I don't want this! Please, please stop!" No other person on the planet could have cut through their fog of rage. As it was, they continued to struggle for a few more seconds before finally relenting. As they reluctantly tried to calm down, they finally noticed the horrified looks on the other residents. The worst of which was on Keitaro, who looked absolutely stricken by what had nearly happened.

Not a word was spoken, as everyone was deathly afraid of unintentionally stoking the fire and causing another flare up. Shinobu had prepared dinner, but no one had much of an appetite anymore. Even Su was restrained in her eating that night. The tension in the cabin was even worse than it had been when the situation had first started. Motoko and Naru sat as far apart as they could and still remain in the cabin. Keitaro made a point of sitting in between the two so as not to be seen as favouring either of them.

After the deathwatch that was euphemistically called 'dinner', the residents had nothing that they could do but try to avoid rocking the boat. Conversation was impossible, even though that was precisely what was needed to try to defuse the situation. Keitaro realized that the current situation could not be allowed to continue, but if he tried to resolve it now, it could result in all out war. Besides, he wasn't sure how he wanted to end it anyway. For the entire evening Keitaro felt like he was trapped in a nest of vipers, and any wrong movement would be fatal.

Finally it was time for bed, and the near blow-up as well as the presence of the other residents effectively ruined Motoko's plans for that night; it also meant that there was no reason to change into the black 'baby doll' that she had slipped into her pack. Keitaro slipped into his sleeping bag, which he noticed seemed to be suspiciously large for just one person, and lay down in the center of the cabin. Naru and Motoko set themselves down on either side of him, and the others arranged themselves where ever they could find room. Tama-chan used Shinobu's sleeping bag as a landing pad and went to sleep there.

Keitaro wasn't surprised to note that both Motoko and Naru were sleeping as close as they could to him without actually joining him in his sleeping bag. He was a little surprised when Motoko kissed him goodnight in full view of the others, especially Naru. The resulting glare Naru gave Motoko before she settled down to sleep could have shattered Everest.


In the middle of the night Keitaro woke with a start. It wasn't the first time that he had been awakened by a dream, but this was the first one in a while that that wouldn't have needed an "X" rating. He had dreamt that Naru and Motoko were having a tug-of-war to win him, and had used him as the rope. It had felt like he was being drawn and quartered.

He noticed that he was the only one awake and that Motoko wasn't holding him in her sleep. Feeling that sleep wouldn't be possible for a while, he got out of his sleeping bag, carefully stepped over the other residents and exited the cabin.

The cool night air felt both exhilarating and relaxing to him, and this far out of the city the stars were amazing. He walked over to a tree, sat down under it and just gazed in awe at the sky. In comparison to all that was out there, his problems seemed insignificant by comparison. He'd never watched the night sky before, and he regretted that he hadn't done this earlier. As many poets could attest to, the stars could do many things to a man.


His contemplation of the universe was interrupted as Naru called out for him quietly as she walked out of the cabin. "I'm over here," he responded. As he returned to his star gazing, Keitaro only half noticed that she walked over and sat down next to him.

"What are you doing?" she asked.

"Just look up," he replied.

Naru did just that and was amazed at the beauty of the heavens. Like Keitaro she had never actually just watched the stars before. Like many before her, she was struck speechless by what she saw. Millions of stars, all in their assigned places, making all who saw them feel small. Naru didn't believe in astrology, but she now understood why some believed that they controlled fate.

Thinking of fate reminded her about why she had gone in search of Keitaro when she had awoken and noticed that he was gone. "Keitaro, can I ask you something?" she said quietly.

Keitaro was disappointed that his star watching and contemplation had been interrupted, but something about the tone of her voice caused him to sit up and take notice. Realizing that this was probably going to be an exceptionally important talk, he replied, "Sure, go ahead."

"Why are you with Motoko?" No subtlety, no beating around the bush, right to the point.

Keitaro didn't want to answer that. More accurately, he didn't want to give Naru an answer to that. Still, he had to give her a reply of some sort, so he temporized a little. "We, we're sort of married, aren't we?" he replied as he indicated the gold band on his left hand.

Naru narrowed her eyes at his evasive response. "If it wasn't your choice, why are you living with her, staying with her, sleeping with her?"

Keitaro felt his own hackles rise at her insinuation. "It's not like you objected that much either," he replied. "You left without saying goodbye, and Motoko, she, she needed me."

"What do you mean 'she needed me'?" Naru asked tersely.

Keitaro opened his mouth to reply and then closed it. He thought back to that night; it had been much like this one, except he hadn't been watching the stars, he'd been trying to save Motoko's life. The scars on his hands itched as they remembered the feel of razor sharp, multi-laminated, high carbon steel. The sound of anguished sobbing resonated in his mind, along with the feeling of absolute and total despair.

A vow. Unspoken and silent, but binding all the same. TELL NO ONE. They'd kept that vow, only he and Motoko knew what had happened. Tsuruko had figured it out, but her ability to reason things out bordered on the supernatural. No one else knew or suspected how close Motoko had come to annihilating herself.

Did he care for Naru? Absolutely.

Could he possibly even love her? Yes.

Would he betray Motoko's trust for her? NEVER.

"I, I can't tell you Naru," he finally answered. "I just can't."

Naru just stared at him. When she finally found her voice again, she asked him. "Why can't you tell me? What are you hiding?"

Keitaro noticed that tears appeared to be forming in the corners of Naru's eyes. He felt a wave of guilt washing over him, and he almost answered her question. He hated to see someone he cared for suffer like this, and he'd do almost anything to end it.

Anything but betray a trust.

"A promise. Please don't ask me Naru," he pleaded. "I, I just can't tell you, I can't tell anyone. I'm sorry, but I just can't." 'Why have I been put in a situation like this?' he asked miserably. 'Why does it seem that every choice I make causes someone pain?'

Naru couldn't bear to hear any more. The man she loved, and who seemed to love her, was keeping something important from her. If he'd only tell her why, she might understand why he did what he did. Instead, he was trying to conceal the truth from her. She felt, quite rightly, that she was at least entitled to that.

Not knowing what to say, Naru just got up and walked back to the cabin. When she reached it she looked back over her shoulder at Keitaro, and he was able to clearly see the sad and forlorn look that was etched on her beautiful features.

She carefully walked back inside and closed the door. Careful not to step on the other dead to the world residents, she got back into her sleeping bag. As she fell back asleep, she found herself wondering if there was anything else she could do to make Keitaro hers.

Back outside, Keitaro was having troubled thoughts. 'I've got to end this, I can't do this anymore!' he raged. 'I'm hurting two people I love dearly.' He paused to consider this. 'Yes, I DO love them both. So what the hell do I do now?'

Briefly, and for the first time since this whole situation had started, Keitaro found himself considering the idea of running away. Just giving up, disappearing to parts unknown. It would eliminate the rancour between Naru and Motoko, they would have to move on without him, and maybe they'd be better off without him.

'Yeah,' he mused, 'that might just work.' There was only one little problem with that. It would result in the shattering of three hearts, his included. While running away would allow for some temporary relief from this anguish, it would only prolong it. Besides, he didn't think that he could live without either of them anymore, and he had no desire to try.

He happened to glance back up at the sky and saw a shooting star streak across the sky. He remembered hearing that they could grant wishes. He closed his eyes and made a wish from the bottom of his heart and soul.

'I wish to be able to do what is right.'

He opened his eyes and saw five more shooting stars streak across the sky in almost perfect echelon formation. For the briefest of moments, he wondered if they were UFO's. Putting that nonsensical thought out of his head, he decided that it had to be good omen.

After they all returned to Hinata House, he was going to make a stand. It was time to end all of this tension and rivalry between Naru and Motoko. He was going to make a final decision, and give his heart, fully and permanently, to the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

But he was damned if he knew which of them it would be.

End Chapter Seven

Coming Soon: Chapter Eight: INTERLUDE: Shinobu's Decision

Pre-read was once again done by Harvey Bautista.

I hope to have the next chapter ready in about two weeks.

I would like to invite all readers to tell me what about this story they have found interesting, confusing, enjoyable, or disagreeable. Feel free to email me your response, or post it in the feedback section.



Motoko opened the door, causing Keitaro to jump in surprise. "Motoko, I, I didn't expect you to be back so soon," he stammered.

Motoko walked into the room and locked the door behind her. "Keitaro, stand up."

Nervously, Keitaro did what he was told.

With a voice that was sweet as wild honey, Motoko said, "Keitaro, take off my hakama."

With beads of sweat starting to appear on his forehead, he did so.

Still wearing a beatific smile, Motoko said, "Keitaro, take off my pants."

His shaking hands were barely able to accomplish this.

In a husky voice Motoko told him to, "Take off my wraps."

By now Keitaro's breathing was shallow and ragged. Willing his hands to stay steady, he was just able to remove the wrap.

In a voice that was barely above a whisper, Motoko said, "Take off my panties."

It took Keitaro three tries before he succeeded.

As soon as he was done, the smile on Motoko's face vanished, only to be replaced by a scowl that was truly frightening. She drew her sword and held it under his throat. Staring him straight in the eyes, she hissed, "If I EVER catch you wearing my clothes again…"


OMAKE TWO: Special Edition

Note: I originally wrote this scene while Chapter Six was in pre-read. As a result of suggestions from Harvey, I made a change in how that chapter ended. As a result, how this chapter unfolded was changed, and this scene just didn't fit anymore. I couldn't fit it in with this version, so I scrapped it. However, since I had put some effort into it, and since I realized that this scene gave me the same smirk that my coworkers have come to know and fear, I couldn't bring myself to just delete it. So now, for your reading pleasure, the lost scene from "All's Fair In Love and War."


"Hiya!" Su cried as she put a foot into Keitaro's face as a way of greeting. "I've got a way to stop you from being so clumsy!"

"You gonna splice his DNA with a ballerina's?" asked Kitsune with a smirk.

"Don't be silly, that would take too long. I've made a special co-ordination trainer, 'Barak-chan'!"

At first glance 'Barak-chan' appeared to be a 'Dance Dance Revolution" arcade game. In fact it WAS a 'Dance Dance Revolution' arcade game. However, the presence of a three-eyed symbol and the label "Built by Koalla" showed that it was no longer a stock arcade game.

"So how does it work?" Keitaro asked warily as he eyed the machine.

"Watch," replied Su. "Motoko, could you come here please?"

"What is it Su?" Motoko asked, also giving the contraption a critical eye.

"Please step inside so I can show how it works."

Somewhat hesitantly, Motoko stepped into 'Barak-chan'. "What do I do now?" she asked.

"Press start and follow the character on the screen."

Motoko pressed start and a digital version of her appeared on the screen. This brought a smile to her face as her digital avatar told her to follow its movements. 'Chibi-Motoko' then started performing a kendo kata, which Motoko was able to follow easily, placing her feet on the appropriate pads. This went on for a couple of minutes before the song ended. 'Chibi-Motoko' said "Congratulations! Perfect Score!" and the game ended.

"Well, what do you think?" asked Su.

"It couldn't hurt," responded Motoko. "Why don't you give it a try Keitaro?"

It seemed harmless enough, and maybe it would even help. "Sure, I'll do it," Keitaro replied as he headed for the machine.

"Wait Keitaro," Su called out, "you need to wear this!" Su handed him a headband, which he looked at curiously.

"What's this for?"

"Special training aid," replied Su as she placed it on his head and pushed him the rest of the way onto the machine.

Keitaro pressed start and once again 'Chibi-Motoko' told him to follow her movements. He was able to match the first two moves but he missed the third one. When this happened the headband he was wearing hit him with a jarring electric shock.

"Gah! What's happening?"

"When you miss a move you get zapped," Su replied casually.

"Forget this!" Keitaro moved to get off the machine, receiving several more shocks in the process.

"Nope! You have to finish it!" called out Su as she pressed a button on her remote control. Several bars sprang up from the base of the machine, effectively trapping Keitaro inside. "Finish the song and the shocks will stop."

Keitaro, realizing that he'd soon be labelled 'extra crispy' if he didn't do something quick, tried to resume the kata. He was able to get maybe one move in five correct, but even this was just enough to give his body a bit of respite.

While watching this Sarah had a sudden inspiration and ran for the kitchen. She came running out with a bag of microwave popcorn, which she threw at Keitaro. "Hey dork, catch!"

Keitaro grabbed the package out of reflex and missed another step in the process.

Shinobu watched the entire spectacle with a sense of disbelief. After Keitaro let out another cry when another shock hit him, she finally was shaken out of her paralysis. "Sempai!" she cried out. "Stop this Su, you're killing him!"

Su shook her head dismissively. "It's all volts, no amps. He'll be fine."

"Don't worry Shinobu," seconded Kitsune. "Su knows what she's doing. Although…"

"What, what!?" Shinobu cried out in desparation.

"I don't think all of the hair gel in the world will be able to fix that hairstyle he's got," Kitsune replied.

Finally the song ended. 'Chibi-Motoko' scolded the player for a poor performance, said try again, and wished the player good luck. The bars dropped and Keitaro crumpled to the floor, smoking, twitching violently, and his hair slightly singed. He looked like he'd french kissed a light socket.

Sarah ran up to him, took the fully cooked popcorn from his hand, smiled warmly, and said, "Thank you Keitaro!" She then walked off as Su tried to steal some of her snack.