Story: Once Again (chapter 12)

Authors: Shanejayell

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Chapter 12

Love Hina: Once Again


Ema Maeda's long brown hair fell around the young woman's shoulders as she sat outside in the sun and used her laptop to update her webpage. 'News of the weird' was actually becoming fairly popular, containing stories she found on the web, her personal blog and stuff from Kitsune's ghost busting operation.

'Demons walk among us!' one title screamed. In a otherwise seemingly normal shrine a mysterious being was haunting the inhabitants, popping up without warning. A slim, white haired boy with dog's ears and clawed fingers has terrorized the neighborhood, tho reports of his activities vary. While most say it's a monster, several witnesses claim to have been rescused by the mysterious boy.

Ema smiled in satisfaction as she noted how many hits that article had gotten. 'The blurred photo helps,' she noted, 'though I wish I got a better shot.'

Scrolling down a bit she clicked on another story. 'Sailor Senshi seen in Kanagawa Prefecture! The famous heroes of love and justice were seen fighting alongside our own local band of heroes, the Phantom Quest Corp!'

Ema winced a bit at that blatant ad. Kitsune could be really forceful, and it didn't help that she was paying part of the costs for the site. 'Well,' she mused, 'at least I tried to be objective, mostly.'

The article continued, 'The Sailor Senshi successfully defeated the steam creature, primarily assisted by the sword work of Motoko. Along with Sailor Mars they banished the creature, generating mild flooding amid the hot springs shops. A lawsuit is pending against PQC, but management are confident they will prevail.'

'Motoko-sama,' Ema sighed dreamily. If she was going to crush on anyone it would be the striking, black haired swordswoman. Sadly, she didn't seem to be inclined that way. 'If only Motoko was a boy,' she thought.

Saving her files Ema closed her laptop and stretched, the slim girl sighing happily. "Come on Leon," she picked up her chameleon and headed inside.

The typical morning bustle of the Hinata Inn was a little different this morning as a guest followed Anthy to the kitchen. She was about Anthy's height with bright pink hair and laughing blue eyes along with a gentle but warm smile. Introduced to them as Utena Tenjou Ema noticed a mysterious aura about her, a strange feeling of nobility like some long lost prince.

"Hello Shinobu," Ema smiled as she walked by the two older girls, "is there anything I can do to help?"

Shinobu smiled cheerfully, the black haired girl rinsing the cooked rice. "Everything's nearly ready," she answered, "could you help set the table?"

"Sure," Ema agreed.

Now theoretically they were all supposed to be sharing kitchen duties... well, except for Anthy as she couldn't cook food, period. But Shinobu was so good and eager to cook that they all just let her do that, and in return everyone else tackled most of the other household duties. As Ema and Anthy readied the table Ema snuck glances at the new woman, wondering what her story might be.

"So you're Ema?" Utena asked as she carried cups and plates over, "Anthy told me a bit about you."

"Nice to meet you," Ema nodded. She smiled as she added, "I'm glad to see you and Anthy have been reunited."

"Thank you," Utena actually blushed faintly.

Within short order the rest of the residents trickled in, coming in ones or twos to the table. TEnnyo Masaki entered talking to Mutsumi Otohime, the white haired woman gesturing animatedly as they went to sit. Kitsune staggered in, probably hung over, and smiled greatfully as Ema poured her some tea.

"Thanks," Kitsune admitted as she sat down, her short brown hair spiky from how she had been sleeping.

Kanako Urashima stalked in, the girl dressed all in black at usual. She had a intensity that could be off putting, but Ema had been pleasantly surprised by her humor. The black cat perched on her shoulder looked at Ema's Leon and purred, "Hmm, food on the hoof."

Ema jumped a bit. Now, according to rational thinking the cat couldn't talk, and therefore must be just Kanako throwing her voice. But somehow the cat sounded very different from Kanaki, almost like a separate person. To be safe she addressed the cat as she clutched Leon, "Don't even think about it."

Kero just snickered softly.

"Myah!" Tama-chan commented as the turtle flapped by.

"Damn turtle," Motoko visibly shuddered.

'I forget some times that she doesn't like them,' Ema noted as she watched Koalla Su easily scoop the turtle out of midair.

"Can I make Tama soup?" Su asked perkilly, the dusky skinned blonde looking a bit like a overgrown monkey.

"No," Shinobu said forcefully, "just put her outside."

"Interesting place," Utena commented to Anthy softly as they settled down.

"I like it," Anthy nodded as Rei and Ami hurried in. Rei Hino was dressed in her miko uniform, the red and white garb suiting the black haired woman, while Ami Mizuno was in more casual school wear.

"Morning," Tennyo said, the older woman's eyes sympathetic as she addressed Ami, "long night?"

"Studying for a quiz on gastric disease," Ami grimaced, "trust me, the less you know the better off you are."

"I can imagine," Kitsune winced.

Kanako said firmly, "No discussion of gastric disease at the table." She smiled slightly, letting everyone know she was joking.

"Breakfast is ready," Shinobu announced as she carefully carried the rice in first, then the rest of the breakfast dishes. With skills that would impress any mother she dished up the food, humming to herself cheerfully.

"This is great," Rei smiled, eating quickly but still neatly.

Anthy looked over at her, "Heading over to the shrine today?"

"Actually, Kitsune has a job for us," Rei noted wryly.

"Oh?" Utena said, looking over at Kitsune as she nibbled toast.

Kitsune drank some tea, "There's a haunted house the owner wants us to look into. I don't expect serious trouble, but I want all the bases covered."

"We do ghost busting," Anthy explained to her girlfriend softly, "as a extension on Phantom Quest Corp."

Utena nodded thoughtfully as she looked over at Kitsune, "Do you mind if I tag along?"

Kitsune raised her eyebrows, "Is that safe?"

Utena smiled back, but her eyes were haunted. "I have certain... talents," she finally said with a shrug.

Kitsune looked at her a moment then decided just to accept it. "All right," she said, "but if anything goes wrong I'm not responsible."

"Worried about another lawsuit?" Ema teased.

"Oh shut up," Kitsune sighed.

To be continued!

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