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A Love Hina songfic
by Aondehafka

Disclaimer: the characters and situations from Love Hina belong to Ken Akamatsu, Kodansha Comics, Shounen Magazine Comics, TV Tokyo and Pioneer Entertainment. The song Mysterious Ways belongs to U2.

Please Note: This is a companion piece to the fic The Finest Mask by beege. Do not read this story without first having read that one.

The walls were covered in a mixture of posters and paintings. These were unfamiliar to him, but that was hardly surprising. It was his first visit to this country, after all. The decorations probably all fit together after a fashion, likely supported whatever the theme of the club might be. Perhaps it was immediately apparent to all the other patrons.

He couldn't have cared less.

The music ebbed and flowed like the pulse of the tide, as variable as the sea itself. Now the notes and tones rang out loudly, and now they were soft and gentle, rising at times to electric angelic highs, sinking at others to soft thrumming lows. The lyrics washed around the listeners in the same way, blending into the background as part of a seamless whole.

He was barely aware of any of it.

There were two stories to the building, though the upper was more of a ring around a wide-open railed-off gap than a floor proper. The lighting was softer there, and at the same time steadier. Booths and tables filled the area, and though they weren't overly crowded at this early hour of the evening there were still enough people to show the club's popularity.

He only had eyes for one.

A decent portion of the floor below was visible from above. Again, it wasn't crowded yet, but there were plenty of people there, bodies swaying to the rhythm of the music as their feet pounded and slid and ghosted across the dance floor, the motions varying from individual to individual and from song to song.

Time for that soon enough.

It isn't really humanly possible to concentrate all of one's being on one single thing, at least not for very long. But all that Keitaro had to give, all the attention that came from deliberate choice, was set upon the woman sharing the table with him. This trip to America, to present some of his most astonishing findings at a museum in California, had come at a wonderful time. Yesterday had marked the one-year anniversary of his wedding to Chiko — their real wedding, not the formality that had made their union recognized in Japan — and Keitaro's duties on this trip had so far proven fortunately light. They were able to spend plenty of time together, experiencing the culture of America for Keitaro's first time, taking in the various beautiful vistas, and just enjoying one another's presence.

Both of them had finished their dinner and dessert now. They'd had to raise their voices a little while talking, but it wasn't anything that had truly hindered conversation. Keitaro still had plenty of things to say, but as one song ended and the first notes of another rang out, he suddenly felt as if it were time to move from words to actions.

Judging from Chiko's smile and the eagerness with which she stood and took his arm, she agreed. The pair hurried down the stairs and onto the floor, Keitaro feeling his blood surge and thrum with the music and her beauty and the joy of the moment. The intensity of the first lambent notes had faded, as the music softened a little to make room for the lyrics. Keitaro didn't bother to listen to them. His command of English would allow him to communicate, if carefully, with a native speaker, but the amount of concentration it would take to follow the words of a song, especially one he'd never heard before in an atmosphere like this, was something he had no intention of taking away from Chiko.

He did divide his attention in another way, though, as they passed onto the floor and shifted from walking to a more intimate movement. Part of Keitaro's mind remained firmly in the here and now, in the happiness he shared with his wife at present. The other part tracked back over the past year and more, remembering times of earlier joy, and recalling the steps they'd taken together, learning to grow close and to let go and lose their individual selves in what they shared. And just for a moment, as the first words of the song echoed through the room and his subconscious awareness, he remembered what his life had been before Chiko entered it.

Johnny take a walk with your sister the moon
Let her pale light in to fill up your room
You've been living underground
Eating from a can
You've been running away
From what you don't understand:

Thoughts of the past, of how happy and lucky he was now, weren't enough to keep him from experiencing the joy of the moment. The tempo of the song wasn't nearly as energetic as some of the others that had played earlier, but in Keitaro and Chiko alike it touched a chord that had them flashing across and around the floor with a zeal and skill that drew the attention and envy of more than a few other dancers. Over the past year Keitaro had taught his family style of martial arts to his bride, and though she had been strangely awkward at it for quite awhile, eventually perseverance had let her equal, then even surpass her husband. This piece of the life they shared gave them the grace and skill to pass through the crowd of lesser dancers as if they were nothing but smoke.

She's slippy
You're sliding down
She'll be there when you hit the ground

It's all right, it's all right, all right
She moves in mysterious ways
It's all right, it's all right, all right
She moves in mysterious ways

As the first rendition of the refrain came to an end, both Keitaro and Chiko slowed in their whirl across the floor. It wasn't the time and place for words or long pauses, but Keitaro shifted his grip on his wife, curving one arm across her shoulders and the other around her waist, and poured all the fire and love and joy he could manage into one brief, timeless kiss.

Then the words were tumbling out the loudspeakers again, and the two of them were in motion once more. And once again Keitaro's mind was divided between present and past, remembering the events of the morning.

Johnny take a dive with your sister in the rain
Let her talk about the things you can't explain
To touch is to heal
To hurt is to steal
If you wanna kiss the sky
Better learn how to kneel
On your knees boy!

She's the wave
She turns the tide
She sees a man inside the child

Led by Chiko, the two of them had gone quite far off the beaten path, eventually locating a beach as beautiful and unspoiled as anything Keitaro had seen in his archeological endeavors. It had been just the two of them, and even though the sky had been cloudy since before they set out, even though instead of sunlight they walked along in a warm persistent shower, Keitaro couldn't have dreamed of asking for more.

But that was just what he got when, as if acting on some signal that only she could perceive, Chiko had pulled him to a stop. Smiling like an angel who had just seen the beauty of a world completely redeemed from the Fall, she had curved one hand across her abdomen and told him their hopes and efforts had borne fruit. She was pregnant.

It's all right, it's all right, all right
She moves in mysterious ways
It's all right, it's all right, all right
She moves in mysterious ways
It's all right, it's all right, all right
Lift my days, light up my nights

The repetition of the refrain brought its final words into the edge of Keitaro's awareness. The slight addition to what he'd heard before, what he'd subconsciously been expecting again, allowed him to catch the sense of the line without really trying. Lifting his days, lighting up his nights… if anything, he thought, it was much too mild.

As for Chiko, she seemed to be listening to the song as well, with a good bit more attention than he was. But of course, that wasn't a surprise; she could doubtless understand the words better than her husband. It almost looked like she found something ironically amusing in the lyrics. The time they'd spent together let him read her well enough for that, made him catch that one particular curve to her smile even as the two of them were in constant motion.

One day you will look back
And you'll see
Where you were held
How? By this love
While you could stand there
You could move on this moment
Follow this feeling

It's all right, it's all right, all right
She moves in mysterious ways
It's all right, it's all right, all right
She moves in mysterious ways
It's all right, it's all right, all right

This third time through, he caught the meaning of the entire refrain. It only reinforced his earlier impression. Somewhat appropriate, but it failed to do justice to the reality and marvel of his life. Chiko, mysterious? There was really only one way, although it was one both great and grand. That he had found someone so right for him, someone for whom he was so right… that their lives fit together so well, and that their life was greater than the sum of its parts… all these were a source of awe and wonder. But he'd never felt as if his wife were holding back from him, or keeping a veil between them.

And of course, everything was much, much better than just "all right".

We move through miracle days
Spirit moves in mysterious ways
She moves with it
She moves with it
Lift my days, light up my nights

The song ended with the two of them close together in an embrace once more. As the music changed for the next selection, both Urashimas found that this single perfect dance was enough for now. They moved off the floor, paying no heed to the admiring stares being directed their way, and headed for one of the alcoves where a trick of the acoustics made quiet speech possible.

In Chiko's mind (and that was how she thought of herself, and had for a long time now), the words of the song still echoed. Not just the fragments that her beloved Keitaro had caught, that she had seen register with him as she watched his face, but the whole of it. Her lips curved again in that ironic smile as she reflected that it was just as well he had only caught those few pieces. The message and particulars of the lyrics seemed rather odd, especially considering that from the theme of this nightclub the song had to have been mainstream in America during the 1990's. Probably her unique situation was causing her to read too much into the words.

All the same, it felt very good to read just that into them: a testimony to the odds that had been stacked against her and that she'd overcome, the limits she'd moved past and the changes she had made to make possible this wonderful life for her and the man she loved. The man who'd so recently made the final element of her long-held dream come true.

"What about it, Keitaro?" she asked in their native language, ironic smile morphing to a softer, gentler, more luminous one. One hand caressing her stomach again, she elaborated, "Do you think we're moving through miracle days?"

His smile was a perfect match for hers, as he said what he knew she believed as strongly as he did. "I sure do, honey. Today on the beach. A year ago, on another beach. In the museum where I almost ran you down. And all the days between."

She almost couldn't get the words out at all. Full speech just wasn't an option, not through the immense lump formed in her throat from concentrated love and joy and awe, even now, that things had worked out so perfectly. "I feel the same way," whispered the woman who had been Kanako, and was, still and again and always, an Urashima.


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Last revision: January 7, 2006

Old Gray Wolf