Alpha Male

BY : Love_Hina_Fan
Category: -Misc Anime > AU - Alternate Universe
Dragon prints: 589
Disclaimer: Love Hina was written by and is owned by Ken Akamatsu. As such, I am writing this story for fun and seek no remuneration for it,

Writer’s notes: This story is strictly AU, with an expanded cast and the regulars are OOC. Many new characters will make their introductions throughout the course of the story.

Japanese terms and words used liberally throughout the story.

In addition, the story timeline is more contemporary due to the use of laptops and smart phones. That is, from the mid 1990’s until this present day…

Japanese terms:

-Otō-san, Tou-san, Papa: father-
-Okā-san, Kaa-san, Haha: Mother-
-Obaa-san, Baa-chan: Grandmother-
-Oba-san: Aunt (can also mean ‘old woman’)-
-Oji-san: Uncle (can also mean ‘old man’)-
-Masutā-ryū: Master Dragon (Ryu)-
-Ōoba-san: Great Aunt-
-Imouto-chan -san: younger sister-
-Onee-chan –san, Nee-chan, Aneki: older sister-
-Otōto-chan -san: younger brother-
-Onii-chan –san, Nii-san, Aniki: older brother-
-Sōsofu-san: Great grandfather-
-Shūtome or Shūtome-san- Mother-in-law-

--

Modern Japan, approximately 24 years ago…

Two years before, Urashima Narumi received her MBA from the Tokyo University. It was a proud achievement for her and a rewarding one as well. She met her husband as an undergrad who encouraged her to continue her education even after they wed.

The western-style wedding ceremony was a sumptuous affair as she married into the richest and most powerful clan in Japan.

With all of that said and done, she fits right in and goes to work for them.

As with the family she marries into, Narumi does not allow sloth to have any place within her life.

Working as the personal assistant for her Shūtome-san, the formidable Urashima Hinata, she finds work both pleasant and rewarding. Besides keeping her busy, the mysterious and even mischievous Matriarch of the Urashima keeps her hopping.

Not in a bad way, as the elder of the clan and her equally daunting Imouto Mariko have her constantly in stitches.

The laughter and dirty jokes in the penthouse offices fly constantly from the mouths of the duo.

Working on a project one day, Narumi suddenly becomes nauseous and barely makes it to the restroom.

The sounds of retching reverberates into the main office.

Two women chuckle and one smiles at the possibility of something wonderful.

Not upset one iota after recovering and straightening out her appearance, she heads back to her office.

Noticing how rapidly her daughter-in-law ran next door, she asks, “What is the matter, Narumi-san?” when she returns.

“Probably ‘knocked up’, Hina-nee,” quips Mariko teasing Narumi remembering her own bouts of nausea. The younger Urashima sibling definitely has no ‘off’ switch.

Narumi blushes, as Hinata chuckles before whispering, “It would be nice to have a grandson.”

If true, she hopes for a good outcome unlike previous attempts at having a baby.

After the mirth subsides and her stomach settles down, Narumi makes a certain call.

A few days later…

Urashima Narumi receives a courtesy call about her OB/GYN appointment. Doing her best to rest and eat properly, she does not wish to have another miscarriage.

Taking time off from work with Hinata’s blessing, Narumi’s husband drives her to the OB/GYN's office.

The younger of Hinata’s two children, Keiichiro believes in driving his wife to her appointment himself although chauffeured limousines are always at his disposal.

The office, on the other side of the prefecture, makes for a very pleasant ride.

From their experiences in the past, along with his Yoko Onee-san's difficult pregnancy with Haruka, Keiichiro knows that this OB/GYN is very gentle with her patients.

It was Yoko’s recommendation that caused her to make the appointment in the first place.

After parking the car, Narumi registers at the front desk.

Sitting together with her husband, the two hold hands in the waiting room until the nurse calls her name. Unlike most Japanese couples, neither has any qualms about showing public displays of affection.

They do not wait very long…

"Urashima-san," says the nurse bowing to her.

"Hai," answers Narumi with a bit of apprehension.

"Come with me, please," says the nurse with a smile on her face, “Koga-Ishi will see you now."

Standing, Narumi follows the nurse to the examination room.

Upon entering, the nurse hands her a hospital gown and asks her to strip before putting on the garment.

“After changing, Urashima-san,” says the nurse in a professional manner, “Please sit up on the examination table.

Doing as requested, Narumi then sits up on a table in the corner and waits.

Trying not to giggle, she sees the ubiquitous stirrups attached to the end of the table for intimate examinations.

Gulping, she lets forth some giggles thinking about that someone other than her husband will be touching her private parts very shortly.

“Konnichiwa, Urashima-san,” says Koga-Ishi after coming in to the exam room and bowing, “I see that you are a bit nervous today, I promise I will be very gentle as I was with Yoko-san. If you would like, we can call your husband in to hold your hand while I examine you.”

The woman seems friendly enough and very professional too.

“I will be fine, Koga-Ishi,” says Narumi letting out a breath she did not realize she was holding in, “I am in your hands.”

First comes the pelvic exam, some blood work and then after calling Keiichiro, an ultrasound to check viability.

Coming into the exam room, Keiichiro sits next to his wife and holds her hand.

The couple are about to see their unborn child together.

The doctor puts some clear gel on her now bulging stomach and starts in just below her navel.

Next, she places the wand onto where they all can see what they hope is a healthy baby growing inside of Narumi.

"Urashima-san, if you now watch the screen we will be able to see your baby," the doctor says with a smile. After a few seconds, the wand stops and she says, "look at what we have here!"

"What is it? Is everything okay?" asks a very nervous Narumi. She has a flashback of previous visits.

"If you look here, this time I think you will have a very healthy child and it will be a boy. See," says the doctor.

The couple looks at each other and smiles. They see the developing sex organs and that the child is moving around quite vigorously.

"He kicked," she says smiling.

"My son," Keiichiro says looking in awe at the LED monitor. Being an Urashima he smiles inside because he can feel minor waves of Chi coming from his wife's womb.

Narumi lovingly caresses her belly.

‘Whoa,” thinks Keiichiro only partially Psi sensitive, ‘Kaa-san will definitely want to know.’

Later that day at the Hinata…

Overlooking the whole of the western part of Kanagawa Prefecture, just south of Hakone, is the ancient Urashima Castle. Until recently, it was the home to the head of the most powerful family in Japan.

The structure in its present form has stood the test of time just like the family that has occupied the land it is on for the last four-thousand years.

Nevertheless, Urashima Hinata ceded the property to Keiichiro and Narumi until their new house is complete. The wizened Matriarch, along with her Imouto and staff, moved to penthouses in a building bearing the clan name in downtown Tokyo.

“Yoko Nee-chan said our new house will be complete next spring,” says the very excited Tou-san-to-be.

Never one to ‘rest on his laurels’ or live off his clan’s wealth, Keiichiro formed his own mini-corporation that makes bakery items and fine chocolates.

Earlier, Narumi had called his Onee-san and invited her family to come over to celebrate the good news about her healthy pregnancy.

Of course, Mariko is here along with some of the household staff, as the family-to-be becomes the target of her hilarious barbs.

The dinner conversation had started in very general directions. Such innocuous things as gossip and rumors that the women all share.

Yoko is thankful that young Haruka cannot understand any of what the two elders are spewing forth.

Narumi tries to keep from laughing, and finds this task difficult due to everything being so filthy from the two women.

The English-trained butler standing beside his mistress cringes, but otherwise keeps his bearing. (Writer’s note: The butler’s wife, the housekeeper for Hina and Mariko, is expecting their third child. This significant of this fact will become apparent later in the story.)

On the other hand, Keiichiro and Yoko’s husband Ruka are sipping saucers of Sake. Their discussion trends more towards politics and baseball, along with some Sumo thrown in.

After a particularly vile joke by Mariko, Narumi feels the baby kick.

"He is a strong little bugger," says Mariko touching her belly.

Hina feels something more than just her future grandson kicking, she now can sense his aura.

‘It is so strong,’ she thinks.

Earlier in the day, she spent some time praying in the ancient shrine out behind the property. She prayed for Narumi to have a healthy child this time. Selfishly, Hina wants a healthy grandson to go along with her equally healthy granddaughter.

"Okā-san, the OB/GYN says that the baby will be healthy this time,” says Narumi sharing the results of her visit.

“I can also feel Chi radiating from your womb, Narumi-san," says Mariko getting an inkling of what may be happening with her child.

Hina and Yoko nod as well.

Haruka feels something, but she does not know what it could be.

Although partially psi-blind, Keiichiro can feel many things that even a well-trained adept sometimes cannot. Having a couple of his ancestors' minor gifts, and even with just a few of them, it is possible that he could pass down the genes that could make his unborn son very special one day.

Keiichiro is a successful executive in the family enterprises and with the new store opening soon, has even less time to delve into his clan’s ancient past. Therefore, his rudimentary understanding of his families’ arts will just have to suffice for now.

Yoko is the expert on the ancient histories being the elder child.

The Urashima have always recognized the oldest child, no matter their gender, as future heir to the Urashima, unlike in most Japanese clans.

Ruka sits quietly, and as with Narumi, just accepts this of the family that has many ties to the ancient ways.

"I too feel the powerful aura coming from her, Mariko,” replies Hina after giving everything some thought, “I have known about this for some time." Having studied the ancient books and scroll as have both Mariko and Yoko, she believes her unborn grandson will become someone that could only come out of legend. This possibility staggers her imagination.

Hina whispers to Mariko about needing to discuss this with her before making a certain call to Kyoto.

Mariko, looking at Narumi nods before going suddenly quiet.

Yoko, with seven-year-old Haruka is sitting on her lap finally asks, "Oba-san, do you have a name for him yet?"

The young girl has her hand on Narumi’s belly and feels the Chi radiating off it.

"Yes I do, Haruka-chan,” answers Narumi smiling back at her, “His name will be Keitaro."

The innocent girl smiles sweetly at her belly and says, "Konnichiwa, Kei-kun."

The baby kicks and seems to recognize her voice.

Haruka does not know it yet, but fate has just intertwined her life inextricably to his. This will be something that neither of them can, or will want to escape. 

Call it enishi if you will.

"Have you thought about where we should deliver him, Narumi-chan?" asks Keiichiro of his wife.

"I really have not thought that far ahead yet,” replies the expectant Okā-san thoughtfully, “At first, I did not believe this pregnancy would go this far, because of my other miscarriages. But now…"

This abruptly trails off.

"How about giving birth to your son here,” suggests Hina as a footman pours more tea for her, “It would be much safer than in a hospital. We could ask the Otohime midwives to help. You would be surrounded by those who care about you.”

"That is a good idea," responds Narumi nodding her head.

Keiichiro nods also in agreement.

Later, back at the Urashima penthouse…

"I am serious considering calling Aoyama-sama down in Kyoto, Mariko,” says Hina thoughtfully while confiding in her.

It is later in the evening after the staff has gone off for the evening.

A footman left a bottle of warm Sake on a tray before his mistress dismissed him.

“Is it about the occurrence at the Hinata, Hina-nee?” asks Mariko inquisitively.

“You know me only too well, my dear Imouto,” responds a smiling Hina.

“It is hard for me to believe that someone so young can lead the Council,” says Mariko before throwing back a saucer of the potent rice wine.

“True,” says Hina pouring herself another shot, “However, he has a particular wisdom that belies his youth. Though only thirty-three, he is the same age as to when his Tou-san first led the council. Only the elder Aoyama-sama’s retirement earlier this same year allowed for Taichi’s elevation.

“Maybe,” responds Mariko keeping her other opinions to herself. She still has a few doubts, as the elder Aoyama was more receptive to Urashima overtures.

Kyoto, a few days later…

Needing guidance from the Council, Hina informed Narumi about certain possibilities with her unborn child.

However, she kept other particulars away from her until deeming it the right time to tell her more.

The elder Urashima has no wish to frighten off her daughter-in-law.

It was quite a trip for expectant mother-to-be, even though they took one of the families' private jets down to Kyoto.

Hina is fully convinced that a meeting of the whole Council is very necessary. This is due to the implications of what her grandson's impending birth will mean for them.

Family means everything to her and she is going to re-iterate this fact to the others there to ward off any possible panic among the members.

Knowing that there will be some anxiety among the lesser clans during this conclave, she wishes now to be more proactive.

Some newer members, who know little of her ancestor's great deeds, which helped in preserving the Urashima's sovereignty over central Japan and also kept the Aoyama Council independent from the sovereignty of the Tokigawa.

She hopes that her powers of persuasion will see her though the day.

Her coming grandson shows all of the signs of being just as he was, and she needs to inform them of this fact.

Harumi, being totally Psi-blind and all, is still mostly in the dark about this.

If they will not listen to her right away, Mariko is her ace-in-the-hole. Hina trusts her implicitly, as she has an extensive vocabulary that can just about shred someone literally to pieces.

Throughout all of the Aoyama Council, it is an undeniable and very well-known fact that if ever there was a more perfect companion to complement the strong steady presence of one Urashima Hinata, it would be the fiery fierceness of her Imouto Mariko.

No one personifies loyalty or to keeping their own clan in line like this middle-aged Yukata wearing, Yamato Nadeshiko looking woman of slight stature. The exterior covers a personality, which if ever crossed, will shred the offender with language that can peel the paint off any wall and a scowl that will curdle milk.

Her tongue is not her only weapon though as she can easily back her up words with an extensive knowledge and use of the infamous Urashima fighting arts. Those who have seen her in action know that Mariko is one of the dirtiest fighters within the Urashima.

In conclusion, even though Mariko has a vocabulary that can make a sailor blush, she is also very highly educated with several advanced degrees, including Doctorates, in business and economics from leading universities in the United States and Great Britain.

"No one, and I mean no one," says Hina to Mariko and Yoko, “is going to make any decisions concerning my future grandson without his Okā-san's say so."

The trio are together in a lead limo.

"I am glad you had Narumi and Keiichiro go with Ruka and Haruka in the other limo, Nee-chan,” responds Mariko scowling, “She would be so pissed, but I see no other way.”

"It cannot be helped, who would have expected a Motk master in this day and age," blurts Yoko without considering the implications.

Looking sternly at her daughter, Hina scolds her daughter by saying, “Do not ever use say that word ever again, Yoko. That word, although from a dead language, has implications even beyond where it comes from.”

A pause…

Calming down, and after taking a cleansing breath, she continues, “Narumi has no real idea of the real power that her son one day could wield. She believes that he may just have a few minor abilities just like his Otō-san. So never use that word again.”

Bowing her head, Yoko says, "Gomenasai, Kaa-san."

Hina pats her hand.

She understands that her daughter is only concerned for Narumi and her unborn nephew.

There is also Yoko’s closeness to Keiichiro to consider as well. That is another matter for another time…

Mariko says nothing on the matter. She has read quite extensively of their ancestor’s exploits and smiles.

Later, relaxing with a friend…

“This onsen is so nice, Tsubasa-chan,” says Narumi who has a towel wrapped around her pregnant body. Stepping down into the warm water, she finds that relaxing in an onsen helps settle her slightly frazzled nerves.

The reason for the visit is not ideal, but she is going to make the best of it.

Already in the onsen is one Aoyama Tsubasa, it is husband who heads the Council and is hosting their conclave.

Even though Narumi is a little younger than the woman next to her, their friendship has allowed them to be intimate with each other.

Tsubasa is not on the Council nor is she a practitioner of the Aoyama Arts. She is both Psi-blind and immune to Chi applied pressure. This makes her an anomaly among those who train such arts.

Whenever these two women get together, it turns into a gossip and gabfest.

It deteriorates rather quickly into a filth fest when Yoko and Hina join them. Saying the most embarrassing things, they talk about everything when the men and children are not present.

If this were not bad enough, the place gets downright disgusting whenever Mariko Oba-san or Otohime Natsumi join in. The latter just having her first child a few months back.

Natsumi's Okā-san Sumiko has many times stated to those present that both Mariko and Yoko need to have their mouths’ washed out with soap.

What would the elder Otohime think if she had wind of what both her, and Hina’s eldest daughter were up to whenever the two were alone. She would not be very understanding.

Be that as it may…

Most of the time, Mariko’s acid tongue gets very loud laughter from the others.

Anyone in earshot, with the exception of Hina, usually turns bright red at least once during these impromptu little filth fests.

It give the impression to the others that Hina encourages her too much sometimes.

None of the usual suspects is present however, and peace prevails for the time being…

"Not as good as the one you have back home though, Narumi-chan,” comments Tsubasa smiling, “How is the baby by the way?"

"He is doing very well and growing so big,” responds Narumi, “It is my hope that he will be as healthy as is your Tsuruko-chan.”

The girl in question is off playing with Haruka elsewhere.

"She is the joy of my life just as Haruka-chan is to Yoko," says a proud Okā-san smiling. She takes a lot of pride in her daughter’s accomplishments.

"Has Taichi-sama gotten over the fact that Hina-san still seems to rule the Council?" asks Narumi giggling.

"I think your Shūtome-san gets under my Taichi-kun's skin because of her powerful personality,” responds Tsubasa giggling with her, “We all know that when Mariko-sama is with her, the two rule the Council. We both know that neither one of them puts up with any crap from the others. But you are right though, he may be the titular head of the Council, but it is she who holds sway in there."

Both women cannot help but laugh at Taichi’s seemingly hapless situation when facing off against the Urashima siblings.

"I just hope Yoko and Kei-kun can keep them in check a little before outright war breaks out in there,” says Narumi allowing her mirth to get the better of her, “Sometime those two are a bit too much."

“They mean well though,” says Narumi not able to keep a ‘straight face’.

Looking at each other, the two laugh then aloud knowing that Taichi will never win against those two.

Quiet then settles in after the last guffaw.

Shortly afterwards, Haruka and Tsuruko coming into the onsen dressed in towels. Stepping in, the smiling girls sit on either side of Narumi.

Both feel the positive Chi gently radiating from her belly. It is very peaceful to both girls.

A few minutes later, some loud debating that emanates from the Council chambers shatters the tranquility of the bath.

Someone then closes the shutters and pulls the windows closed inside the place.

Both women share another laugh knowing that what one had said previously may be true.

Getting out of the onsen after a good soak, the four dry off before going to dress for the evening’s festivities.

A short take on the earlier discussions.

The thing about this gathering is the people who are not involved can indelibly feel the tension emanating from the main participants.

The tension here is quite palpable too.

On one side of this particular issue is Taichi, Hina, and Mariko. The trio attempts to keep civility and decorum in the council chamber during this crucial meeting.

It is a difficult undertaking notwithstanding, since everyone here knows that the two Urashima women have little patience and very bad tempers.

Especially if someone were to trifle with them.

On the other side of this thorny issue, and the room, are those who want the council to take the boy from his family and raise him after he is born.

They want the child to one day become some type of 'Akira', or a symbol of the Council's authority.

Hina nearly explodes as she dresses down the person who brought this subject to the floor for discussion.

Her daughter and son prevent her from almost declaring war on them.

Keiichiro also does not like where the conversation is going as well.

It takes both Urashima siblings to quell their Oka-san's legendary temper.

Narumi wants a normal child and by all of the gods, the family will go through hell and high water to see that she gets her wish.

In addition, Hina has a little back up in her purse if things get too far out of hand.

Mariko, as sharp-tongued as ever, dares the Council to try to cross the Urashima in this present situation.

Otohime Natsumi, reminds everyone that according to the history of the Motk masters, only the child’s family can raise them. She is more knowledgeable of these matters than of Hina, Taichi or even Mariko. 

She is just 23 years old too.

Yoko favors her with a smile.

"I wish to know something then, Otohime-san,” declares a newer Council member before asking, “How can someone so young understand these matters so deeply?"

"Natsumi is the eldest of my daughters,” interjects Otohime Sumiko, “and as such, is heir to the Otohime legacy."

As the head of the Otohime matriarchy, she is someone whose word carries a lot of power and authority within the Council.

However, it is in a more subtle vein than either Hina or Mariko.

The Urashima siblings nod in agreement with her.

"Remember your place, Sasaki-san!” exclaims Aoyama-sama in a commanding voice, “The Otohime clan is never to be questioned on matters of history that are of this importance."

"I ask forgiveness of the Council, Aoyama-sama," says one Sasaki Buntaro, “I meant no disrespect to any of the Otohime Priestesses, but knowledge is everything to me when it comes to dealing with a matter of such grave importance as this.”

The man then bows low to Sumiko and Natsumi from his seated position.

The two women bow in return.

"I understand Sasaki-san, so no offence is taken," replies Sumiko, who then adds, "In times like these, we need all the knowledge and assistance from wherever we can find it. Age matters not, if one possesses that knowledge. When it comes to my daughter, her wisdom in these matters belies her youth."

The others in the council chamber agree with this assessment concerning Natsumi's knowledge.

The Urashima, having calmed themselves, appreciate the Otohime backing them. This is how close the two families are to each other.

"The most important thing of all is that we must keep the imminent birth of this child a secret from those who are not one of us,” utters another member who rarely speaks in chambers, “This will have to include the government, ours or a foreign entity. Some nefarious factions could use him as a weapon, one that would be very destructive”.

"I agree with that assessment, Toyoma-san,” says Hina gravely looking around the room, “If Tokyo, or even Washington or Beijing, were to find out about my unborn grandson, someone in those governments would try to take and use him for heaven-knows-what. We of the Urashima have always been pacifists and are ruthlessly so even today. The knowledge of his potential power must never go outside this chamber on penalty of death."

Only three times in the Aoyama Council's long history have they ever invoked this clause, and only for important matters that were analogous to this.

"I must fully agree with Hina-sama,” interjects Aoyama-sama before decreeing, “As head of this Council I deem this is too important to let the public-at-large know, so I now invoke the death penalty until such a time as the child comes into his own."

Without needing consensus from the rest of the Council, he uses his right and invokes this article.

"Arigato gozaimasu, Aoyama-sama," says Hina bowing her head to him. Now satisfied, she knows that her unborn grandson will enjoy the full protection of the Council.

"Hina-sama, with your permission,” says Aoyama knowing that Narumi wishes to give birth outside of a hospital setting, “We should move the next phase of this discussion to the Hinata when the time is more appropriate. We can deal with it then. Does this sound good to you?"

Before responding, Hina consults with Keiichiro and the others of her family seated here. Coming to a consensus, she stands and says, "This is acceptable to us. The Hinata can hold all of the major representatives from this enclave along with any priests and shamans that they wish to bring along. One more thing though, Aoyama-sama. We may need some of the more ancient Dragon and Turtle scrolls for spells and sutras, just in case."

"What about the Fire Horse scrolls, Hina-sama?" asks Bato Daichi.

This member of the Council is the most knowledgeable among them about their ancient enemies. Since his youth, he has studied their ancient and secretive history with help from both Hina and Taichi.

"No, Bato-san. Those abominations would be very harmful as they are of an extremely evil nature,” replies Sumiko gravely, “Whatever knowledge they may possess would go against everything that we believe in."

She too has an understanding of the evil Fire Horses and their wanton thirst for destruction.

"I have to agree with Otohime-sama,” says another member familiar with their ancient enemy, “Those blasphemous scrolls should have been burned ages ago."

"That has been tried quite a number of times, Namura-san," responds Bato-san without hesitation, "You of all people should remember what happened to the elder Kazehara-sama. The spells on them are much too powerful for even our combined powers and only a Motk master can destroy them. When Urashima Taro lived back during the beginning of the Tokugawa era, the scrolls were then still undiscovered. The new master will have to deal with them when he is old enough."

"It was my Sōsofu-san who had attempted to destroy them," says Kazehara Hiro, “and he failed. The ancient curses sealing them activated after he tossed some of them into a fire. My Otō-san said they immolated him instantly and were unscathed afterwards. No one ever saw that possibility coming.”

Everyone bows for a moment in respect to the late, highly valued member of the Council.

"Bato-san, your wisdom in this is sound," says Hina remembering that event very well.

There is unanimity on this too.

Murmurs begin before Aoyama-sama has to knock on a small table for silence. "We will leave those scrolls behind and meet at the Hinata Castle when Urashima Narumi is ready to give birth to her child," he says before promptly adjourning the meeting.

End of the short re-cap.

Later on, the banquet hall is quite full of council members, their families' and important guests. This is the most people that anyone has seen in the compound here in many years, since before even Hina was born.

It is also dinnertime and that at least diverts everyone's attention. For now that is…

When you are shoveling food in, those eating usually table the important matters until it is more convenient.

Sitting up on the dais, Narumi is between little Tsuruko and Keiichiro. The young girl dresses traditionally in her families' Hakama and Gi while eating next to her Okā-san. She keeps looking at Narumi's protruding belly and flinches slightly.

Many other highly trained adepts here are also having an adverse reaction to the aural emanations.

When Hina and Sumiko placed sutras on the walls and above the doorways, they attempted help to quell as much of the uneasiness around the banqueting hall as possible. With these strictures in force, everyone eats in peace.

"Can you feel it at all, Kaa-san?" Tsuruko asks looking up at her. She does not yet understand about her Okā-san's lack of sensitivity to aural pressure.

"Sorry, Tsu-chan," answers Tsubasa shaking her head, “I cannot.”

Tsuruko has her hand on Narumi’s belly and smiles. It is clear that she feels very comfortable around the expectant mother and unborn child.

People around the room take notice of the young girl's gifts.

Anyone of importance in here knows them very well.

Haruka is slightly jealous of her best friend, but she does not worry about it.

Late December, at the Hinata…

Although the Urashima are by practice a strict Shinto family, they accept many western customs.

For instance, Valentine's Day is one such custom. Girls from all over Japan make chocolate as presents for their sweethearts each year.

Yoko and Narumi do this for Ruka and Keiichiro. One month later on White Day, their spouses then spoil the two rotten.

Christmas is also another holiday, of a sort, celebrated here in Japan. Not the religious aspects of the western tradition mind you, no they like celebrating the part about gift giving, being together as a family, eating a large meal together and imbibing excessive amounts of Sake.

The other thing they enjoy is decorating a Christmas tree. Nineteenth century Imperial Germany influences a lot of thinking in modern day Japan.

In school, students learn that the German people back then were on the ball and ahead of the curve in many ways. They have read of the Yule Tree, what the Germans call a Tannenbaum, and that it symbolizes the warding-off of evil spirits.

Now, many around the country decorate one since they are animists' anyway. Amusingly, they use it to keep away the bad Karma just before the main New Year's holiday.

Narumi sits on the couch and watches her husband and his family get ready to go outside with a chainsaw in hand. They are going with little Haruka who wants to pick out a tree.

Sedentary now, Narumi is just a couple of weeks away from giving birth.

Hina stays with her as the staff makes tea for them.

The pregnant woman feels trapped because she can hardly move right now and can only get up with assistance.

Out on the hill, Yoko decides to have some fun and heads out with her daughter in hand.

Keiichiro attaches a trailer to a small tractor before having his Nee-san’s family clamber aboard.

Haruka's eyes light up when her Oji-san starts up the chainsaw and cuts down the tree that she picked out for their display.

Keiichiro and Ruka load it onto the trailer to drive it back to the Hinata.

Okā-san and daughter are extremely happy.

After trimming off the bottom few rows of branches, the staff bolt a beautiful pine to a stand. It is a nice full one standing in at a little over two meters tall.

While decorating the tree…

"I remember when I was pregnant and how demanding I was," says Yoko laughing. She is putting up some garland with her daughter.

"You were not that bad, Yoko-chan," responds Ruka smiling at his wife.

"That is not what you told me after rushing out for Pocky™ and Korean kimchi for her one time," says Keiichiro laughing while trying to string some lights together, “You also said you could not wait for Haruka-chan to be born so you could sleep again."

While they all laugh, Yoko turns red with embarrassment.

"Kimchi, that stuff is nasty," says Narumi before sipping her tea, “I like sour things but I have not gone that far yet."

If she admitted to some of the things that she is had cravings for, Narumi knows that Yoko would be teasing her and then some.

Hina just sits quietly not saying a thing remembering her own cravings for octopus and liver. Right now, only her strength and inner discipline keeps her from blanching.

"You are so lucky, Naru-chan," says Yoko in mock disgust after finishing and sitting with her sister-in-law, “It is hard to believe that you did not have the same disgusting cravings for the sourest and most off tasting foods imaginable as I did. To this day, it makes me sick to think of some of the shit I ate back then. Ruka-kun, just where in the hell did you get that Norwegian Lutefisk anyway? I still cannot believe that I ate that crap and actually enjoyed it."

"If I tell you where I got that stuff from you will probably kick the living daylights out of me,” responds Ruka laughing sheepishly, “Let me just say that I know certain people in the import grocery business who can get me anything from around the world anytime I want it.”

The others all look at him right then. They know that he has a tendency to eat strange things imported from other countries.

Finished, everyone sits.

The butler has the staff wait on them before calling the family to dinner.

Sitting next to her Oba-san, a smiling Haruka touches Narumi’s belly and says, "I can feel Kei-kun kicking."

"Did you feel that, Kaa-san?" asks Yoko smiling at the strong aura emanating into the room.

"Yes my daughter, I did," answers Hina, “Even with all of the sutras in place around here I can still feel it."

As the child’s birth becomes imminent, the aural pressure has increased exponentially to the point where those most sensitive cringe in Narumi’s presence.

"What are you feeling, Yoko?" asks Narumi, “I still have no clue as my husband continue to remind me.”

Keiichiro sheepishly scratches the back of his head.

"The positive flow of Chi coming from your belly when Haruka-chan put her hand on it,” responds Yoko, “This is not the first time I have felt it either.”

"It is like all of your fates are tied together and that he can already sense it," says Hina in response to Yoko's statement.

New Year’s Day…

As ordered, people begin gathering at the Hinata in anticipation of the birth of Narumi's child.

It does not take very long to fill all of the rooms.

Hina has her staff bring in extra futon and they set up the old ‘Noh’ theater as a fallback dormitory.

Keiichiro notices that there are many new sutras and spells lining the walls, doors and windows of the ancient place.

Since it is the first morning of the New Year, he is going to the local shrine down in Hinata City.

Ruka, Yoko and Haruka are also going with him to draw their luck.

He will have three people to draw for.

Narumi is now bedridden up on the second floor. It is too uncomfortable for her to move and even needs a bedpan now.

Hina and Otohime Natsumi stay with her.

Smiling, Keiichiro kisses his wife and heads downstairs.

Putting his shoes on, he heads out with Yoko and her family to draw their luck for the upcoming year and ring the large bronze bell.

Happily, the expectant Tou-san has three to draw for this year.

Otohime Natsumi brought her baby daughter Mutsumi with her.

The baby still nurses, as she is pregnant with her second child.

The now ten-month old she sleeps peacefully while her Okā-san tends to the woman whose child will one day be very special to the both of them.

Meanwhile...

"Ohaiyo, Oji-san,” says Keiichiro bowing to a man standing by the gate in Shinto priestly vestments.

Yoko, Ruka and Haruka bow as well.

“Ohaiyo, minna,” returns the elder of the Urashima.

Urashima Koji is their youngest Oji-san and has been a Shinto priest since he was 35. The man has a Doctorate in Chemistry from Tokyo University. His youngest son assists him on the weekends while studying medicine at Tokyo University. However, there is more to this story than that…

Yoko and her family go inside as Keiichiro stays behind.

“Are there a lot of people out here today?" Keiichiro asks.

"Earlier around sunrise there was Kei-kun," answers Koji Oji-san, “Now though, the people are just trickling in.”

"I came at a great time then," says Keiichiro smiling.

Koji then asks, "How is Narumi-chan doing by the way? Hina Nee-san asked me to give you some special sutras that I had recently conjured.”

Urashima Koji is also a member of the Aoyama Council and a strong mage in his own right.

“I bet she did,” says Keiichiro trying not to laugh.

“That unborn child of yours is burning through them almost as fast as Hina Nee-chan can post them,” continue Koji almost breathlessly, “It seems that he may be just like our ancestor Taro was."

"That is what everyone thinks, Oji-san,” responds Keiichiro now snickering, “That is why the Hinata is up to full capacity and then some."

Urashima Koji is also a member of the Aoyama Council and a strong mage in his own right.

"I heard that Otohime Natsumi-san is going to be her midwife," Koji says smiling at his nephew, “If she is, Narumi-chan is in great hands. Not only is she a good at birthing babies, she is also a first class spell caster. Her Okā-san told me not to long ago that she has memorized almost all of the ancient Turtle texts. That in itself is hard to do. I have only been able to do about fifty Dragon scrolls, and I am over twice her age too.”

Coming to the altar, both men stop and clap their hands twice before saying a short prayer.

Clapping two more times when they finish, Keiichiro throws a handful of ¥500 coins into the offering box.

Koji then hands him three small charm pouches that contains his growing families’ luck for the upcoming year.

For once, Keiichiro does not bother to open them. With the impending birth of his son and the knowledge that he will be special, he believes that one event alone is the best luck he could have drawn for the coming year.

Tying the unopened fortunes to a Sakura tree, he joins his Oji-san for tea.

He waves to Yoko’s family as they head back to the Hinata.

"I will be up tomorrow morning to help my Nee-san and the others ward off my new grandnephew's excessive Chi,” says Koji sipping the tea his wife Miko Oba-san brings out to them, “I will also be bringing a couple of scrolls that just might help.”

"Kaa-san told me this and she also said that I am lucky to be partially Psi-blind in this instance," Keiichiro says smiling at this fact, “It helps because I want to be there for Narumi-chan, so the pressure from my son is at least tolerable.”

“Before I forget,” interjects Koji handing his nephew a satchel.

“She will be glad to see these,” responds Keiichiro knowing what is inside.

"Well, enough slacking off for me, Kei-kun," says Koji finishing his tea, “I have a temple to run and worshippers to greet."

Standing with his Oji-san, Keiichiro bows as well to his Oba-san.

The two men then step outside and walk to the main gate.

They shake hands warmly and bow to each other once more.

"Jā matane, Oji-san," says Keiichiro before turning and walking down the Shrine steps.

Out of sight, the luck charm that was for his son glows brilliantly before turning to ash. In future years, no one will notice a lone string sitting on that tree branch while it moves in the freedom of the breeze.

What was in there will forever remain a mystery.

The Hinata…

A constant flow of people goes in and out Narumi’s room.

Hina checks in to make sure that she is comfortable.

Natsumi is also in there and keeps her company.

Sutras and spells cover all of the walls here and surrounding areas. It is an attempt to ward off the extremely powerful aura that still emanates from the same source.

It only gets stronger the closer she is to delivering him.

Narumi sees her husband come back from the shrine.

He tells her that he did not read the contents of the luck pouches believing that they already have all of the luck they need.

Narumi hugs Keiichiro, because like him, she believes that with this child the two of them will have a good year.

A little later, Narumi and Natsumi are alone in the room.

"Have you been to the shrine yet, Nat-chan?" asks Narumi trying to get comfortable. The baby is really kicking now and causes her some minor discomfort.

"Yukino-kun went with my Okā-san earlier this morning," answers Natsumi smiling while breast-feeding Mutsumi.

Around the room, there are things that any new Kaa-san would expect to find: a western-style bassinette and crib, a diaper changing table with wipes, wash cloths, a small plastic wash basin, and a lot of fresh clean nappies for after a child is born.

Should Narumi go into labor, Natsumi has her midwife equipment there all clean and sterilized ready to go at a moment's notice.

Meanwhile…

Out in the large common room, Keiichiro is now the butt of many crude jokes.

They are all about becoming a new Otō-san.

Crudest of them all, Ruka busts his brother-in-law's chops while trying to get him to relax.

He remembers what his beloved Yoko went through even trying to have baby.

Although a trained martial artist, she knew all kinds of pain suppression techniques and still cursed him to his face when she into labor. Yoko threatened not only his manhood, but also with breaking quite a few of his bones as well. Following her tirades, she smiled at him as if nothing had ever happened.

That was until the next contraction…

When Haruka was born soon afterwards, he was the proudest new Otō-san on earth.

Soon after the birth of her daughter, Yoko discovered that she had an excessive amount of polyps in her uterus and that some of them were pre-cancerous. This led her into having a radical hysterectomy.

Ruka has done everything possible to comfort his wife and spoil his daughter with the best of everything.

"Wait until you have to change a shitty diaper and wipe their ass, Kei,” says friend from the Council who brought with him some good quality Sake to celebrate with, “That alone will make you pause.”

Laughter from around the common room.

"It is not that bad," says another friend, "especially when you get to see them grow up and make their own way in this world."

January 5th

As the evening settles down, everyone goes to bed.

Keiichiro sleeps comfortably on a futon in the same room as Narumi.

Many are on watch this evening.

There is an unwanted presence of certain people in Hinata City and nearby Hakone. 

Certain rival factions, such as the long thought dead Fire Horse cult might be trying to resurrect themselves. If so, they may be curious as to why many of their hated enemies gather in one place.

Yokohama and Chiba are hubs of their resurgence. That much the Aoyama Council knows.

All know the Yakuza is smart enough to stay away.

The evil cultists, like their Aoyama Council counterparts, can feel Chi that comes from a certain bedroom and pregnant woman's womb. If they were here Hinata City, the unborn child and his mother would be in grave danger of assassination.

However, the night it seems, keeps dragging on peacefully until...

"Kei-kun, the baby!" screams Narumi.

Her cries wake Keiichiro out of a sound sleep. Jumping out of his futon, he turns the on the lights before rushing to his wife's side.

The blanket between her thighs is soaking wet, which is a telltale sign that her...

"Natsumi, come quickly! Okā-san! Narumi-chan's water has just broken. The baby...," hollers Keiichiro at the top of his lungs after he steps out into the hallway. He comes back to her side until the midwives can get here.

"The baby is coming, Kei-kun," says Narumi squeezing her husband's hand.

Natsumi and some of the other women rush into Narumi's room and gently force Keiichiro out.

Looking over at Narumi, Aoyama Tsubasa gets him to wait downstairs in the common room.

Because of her Psi-blindness, Natsumi has asked her to help.

Over the next several hours, Narumi's labor kicks in and the going is a bit rough on her.

Keiichiro paces back and forth surrounded by friends and fellow Council members who are all awake now. They try their best to be supportive of the man who is now nervous as can be.

Moreover, they see him blanch when the first threats start to come.

Ruka hands him a snort of Sake to help settle his nerves down a little.

Keiichiro keeps looking past the stairwell to the second floor residential wing.

Upstairs…

"Breathe in short breaths, Narumi-chan," says Natsumi showing her friend what to do. She is in so much pain that she kind of ignores the advice and comes up with her own way to deal with it...

"I am going to cut your fucking balls off, you son-of-a-bitch," screams Narumi in the midst of some very painful labor. She is going in and out of wanting to emasculate her husband, to wanting his testicles cut off and then nailing them to a pike for public display.

When the pain subsides, she looks around the room wondering why everyone is staring at her.

Yoko laughs and looks out of the room in sympathy for her Otōto-san.

The others laugh telling him that they have also heard the same thing coming from their wives during labor too.

"That useless motherfucker had better not ever stick that shriveled up dick in me again," screams Narumi cursing especially loud this time.

After the contraction passes, she asks why everyone is looking askance at her.

No one there is going to tell her that she has been threatening her husband with the vilest of tortures and invectives imaginable.

Narumi is the least offensive person in the room and under normal circumstances would avoid using bad language.

The other women here with her have not heard filth come out like this since the last time Mariko vocally shredded someone in public.

Nearby, the woman in question has a little smirk on her face and highly approves of Narumi's inventive usage of language.

"That is it Narumi-chan, push! One more and you can see your son. Now," says Hina holding one hand while Yoko has the other.

Do not worry about Keiichiro in this situation.

He takes it all in stride.

The laughter of the others down here helps settle his nerves.

Dawn arrives over this part of Japan. The first rays of light peer over the horizon.

Hearing one last scream from Narumi, then...

"WWWAAAAAAHHHHH!" cries a newborn baby.

With a lusty wail, Keiichiro knows his son is born and has a healthy set of lungs.

"My son," says the new teary-eyed Papa listening to the cries.

The other men in the common room all congratulate him.

In the common room, the cries make the more Psi-sensitive adepts cringe. The Chi bleeding off from the newborn baby hits some of them here very hard. The raw force of his aura absolutely stuns them.

In the birthing room…

A mother cries happy tears when she hears the voice of her son for the first time.

Natsumi lays the baby on his Okā-san's stomach for a moment of quick bonding before cleaning him up.

Then following Natsumi's directions, Yoko kneels behind her sister-in-law on the bed and massages her breasts to help ease out the afterbirth.

After cutting the cord, Natsumi takes the newborn off to the side so she can clean him up.

He opens his rich brown eyes for the first time and the young midwife becomes captivated when she looks into them.

Smiling, Natsumi somehow knows that right then enishi forms a close bond between them.

Not knowing why, this child's life has just forever entwined itself with hers, though she does not know it just yet.

In addition, Mutsumi is sleeping close by and a special bond will form with her as well.

With Narumi now sleeping comfortably, and after Keiichiro meets his son for the first time, those in the know get busy.

Along with Otohime Priestesses, Hina and Mariko don their vestments as the chanting starts in earnest.  

Hina and Sumiko begin chanting in ancient tongues that no one has spoken in three-thousand years.

Notaries that are all around the Hinata join them and the cacophony builds.

Mantras and prayers go up to the ancient gods as they prepare to bind the baby's power.

On the other hand, and at the very least, attempt to put strictures on it until he matures.

The Chi radiating off Keitaro is almost visible to the most sensitive of the adepts within the Hinata.

The Council chooses Hina to lay the Spells of Binding on her grandson.

Smiling, she waves the sutras over him and hopes that when they touch his skin, the spells will be instantly make him the normal child that his Okā-san wants, but...

Not going the way that they had planned it, what happens next shocks all of those present.

When the paper Sutras touch Keitaro's skin, it shrivels up before turning to ash.

Hina takes more Sutras and says the same spells over them before placing it again on Keitaro's belly.

Getting the same results, Hina fails with even Sumiko, Natsumi and Taichi assisting her.

They are all mystified.

It is difficult to be upset with a newborn child cooing who has no clue as to what is going on.

Mariko, as hard as she tries not to, she cannot help but laugh at this situation.

“I think we should forget this,” she says looking over at the Nee-san.

Sumiko and a few of the other Council members, along with her daughter Natsumi, look into some of the more ancient of the scrolls that they have with them. They hope to come up with a solution to this situation which has them all stumped.

"You are not going to believe this," says Natsumi after rolling up one of the most ancient scrolls in her possession. She has discovered that no one has ever attempted to bind a newborn Motk master's Chi before.

“I was right,” quips Mariko understanding fully how this newborn baby can frustrate them so easily without even trying.

"Then there is no written precedent or proof that spells from these scrolls have ever tried on someone like Keitaro before," says Hina concerned but smiling at her grandson nonetheless. They all collectively scratch their heads as it stumps them.

“I was right,” quips Mariko understanding fully how this newborn baby can frustrate them so easily without even trying.

The Council convenes an impromptu meeting to discuss what they should do next.

A member makes a suggestion to raise the boy in Kyoto to keep him safe.

Hina and Mariko, along with Keiichiro and Yoko, vigorously object. They will defend the boy and his Okā-san from the others in the Council if it comes to that.

"I also reject that suggestion," responds Aoyama-sama, "the child will stay with his family like we had decided in Kyoto. However, I will want to convene a special meeting of the full Council in two years’ time to learn of the boys' progress. Is this acceptable, Hina-sama?"

"Yes it is, Aoyama-sama," answers Hina getting a nod from her son.

"This then is the decision of the Council. No one will interfere with the boy or his family," decrees Aoyama-sama and promptly closes the meeting.

This averts a crisis as well as a possible split within the Council.

A fated meeting…

Haruka and Tsuruko are asleep upstairs in the back of the Hinata. They missed all of the proceedings that went on downstairs.

"Tsu-chan, I wonder if Keitaro is here yet," Haruka says looking over at her best friend.

The two girls slept through his new first cry.

"Hai, Haru-chan,” responds Tsuruko excitedly, "I can feel him too."

The two girls get out of there futons and run out the door of the room they are in.

Their Okā-sans have already left the birthing room and gone back to bed.

Reaching the room, they see Narumi feeding her newborn son as she and Tsuruko come over.

The two are wide-eyed at the miracle of life suckling at his Okā-san's breast.

"Oba-san, can we please say hello to Kei-kun?" asked Haruka.

"Sure, Haru-chan. This is Keitaro," says Narumi smiling. She turns slightly so the girls can see him.

Haruka is mesmerized when she looks into his eyes for the first time and falls instantly in love with him. Vowing right then in her young heart to always be with, and to watch over him.

The same thing happens to Tsuruko.

For a while, the girls watch Narumi feed Keitaro and keep them company.

Later that same day, while Narumi is sleeping, Natsumi takes Keitaro to her breasts after caring for Mutsumi. A special bond forms between them as the milk from her body enters his.

End of Chapter



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