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A Ranma ½ story
by Adrian D. Moten

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. No disrespect intended by this simple fanfic.


Chapter 3: Sex, Lies, on Videotape


"So, when are you bringing your stuff up here, Ranma?" Nabiki asked as she walked through her room door, tossing her satchel onto her bed.

"In a minute," the inquired replied, remaining at the doorway. He wore a pensive look. "Say, Nabiki…."

"Yes?" She looked at Ranma, smiling a little.

That smile still made Ranma feel nervous. She had been doing so since they talked on the way home. What on earth could make her be so happy about their colossal mistake of a wedding, particularly since she was just as desperate to get out of it as he was, not a few hours ago?

"What? Is there something on my face?" she asked, the smile not disappearing.

He realized he must have been staring hard at her, and quickly shook his head. "Um, nothing. Never mind. I'll just be a minute."

"No. Go ahead and take your time. Enjoy your last moments of freedom, Ranma-baby."

Eyebrow cocked in question, he puzzled briefly over her comment. "Uh, sure. I'll just be in the dojo if you need me."

"Thanks." Her smile reshaped itself into a toothy grin.

Ranma took this as a sign to leave. Quickly.

"I'll talk to Kasumi about drawing up a bath for you."

He grunted and nodded as he was turning away, only half hearing her; his mind was busy making an escape route. The door closed behind him, and Nabiki's expression dropped into a flat scowl.

"Oh, we'll have a nice little talk… dear sister…."

Nabiki took a few minutes to change out of her school uniform, opting for a pair of jeans and a loose-fitting white tee shirt. Once dressed, she left her room, fully intent on "thanking" Kasumi for everything she had done.

She hadn't managed three steps when a surprise crested the top of the stairs.

"Akane."

The young Tendo, still wearing her school uniform, looked directly at her slightly older sister. "Yes?"

Kasumi can wait, Nabiki thought to herself, taking advantage of the anger-induced steely resolve in order to talk to her little sister. "Come, let's talk for a moment."

"O… kay." Puzzled, Akane went to her room door, opening it. "Come in. I was going to change out of my uniform."

Maintaining a cool composure, Nabiki strolled in. Akane pulled up the rear, closing the door behind her, then started to go to her closet to choose something different to wear.

"Why exactly did you organize that little celebration this morning?" Nabiki asked, sitting down on her sister's bed.

Akane paused, holding a red skirt and yellow blouse in hand. "I already told you," she said, turning to look at her. "Kasumi thought it would help me get past you and… Ranma's wedding." She bit her lip, choosing to look away from the brunette.

"Mm-hmm. And when did she mention this idea?"

"Last night after dinner. You were still in your room. Dad wasn't the most thrilled about you not being present, but he could understand, what with everything hitting our family all at once."

Nabiki had to admit she was a little surprised. Her father being even slightly concerned about her well-being… When was the last time that happened? Usually, it's "Oh, don't worry about Nabiki," "She can take care of herself," or "She'll manage."

Filing away that thought, she continued on. "So, Kasumi had this idea for how long?"

Akane didn't answer right away, choosing to take a couple of steps closer to her own blood. "Nabiki, what's this about?" she more asked than demanded, peering closer to the other girl.

Nabiki, for her own good, pushed away from her sister, swinging her legs over the corner of her bed, and standing up. She was facing the wall opposite of Akane. "Kasumi's been playing us for fools," she said under her breath.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on whose point of view is taken, Akane missed the comment. "What did you say?"

Glancing over her shoulder, Nabiki simply said, "Nothing important. I'll leave you alone now."

Still puzzled, Akane only nodded. "Okay…."

The older sister didn't hear it. She walked out of the youngest girl's room and straight to the staircase, anger flaring up within her mind.

Kasumi is going to pay….


Kasumi selected a few nicely sized potatoes and carrots, setting the group beside the radishes, onions, a stout head of cabbage and a fair cut of pot roast beef on the kitchen counter. Humming to herself, she moved over to the utensils, picking up the wooden cutting board, well-marked from where countless blades bit into the surface, then a brown handled chef's knife which she sat atop the last-mentioned object, tip and blade pointing away from her body. She paused long enough to grab hold of two metal containers to place the food in once it was prepared.

After washing the food off, she was about to begin the meticulous work, when Nabiki, pushed open the kitchen shutters aside. "Kasumi, let's talk about a few things."

"Can it wait? I was about to begin cooking dinner." She grabbed the cabbage and brought it over to the cutting board.

The middle daughter fumed. She didn't even bother turning around to face her! "It's been waiting far too long. We talk. Now."

The older woman paused, knife poised over her would-be produce victim. Then slowly she set the cutting utensil down and looked as her younger, married sister. "Please hurry. Dinner will be late."

Nabiki blurted out. "I don't give a damn about dinner! My life is more important!"

Understanding dawned on Kasumi. "Oh, that…."

"Yes, that!"

She shrugged apologetically. "I'm sorry, but I'm afraid I am not very experienced in those matters. I do hear some things, though so—"

The married one grew even more irate. "Don't you dare try to dodge the issue. You know exactly what you've done, you manipulative little—" Hastily she bit off the rest of the sentence and took a step back, upon seeing the look on her sister's face.

It was very flat and neutral. Like stone.

Moments passed, silence running amok in the kitchen.

"Well?"

Nabiki's jaw worked up the nerve to reply. "W-W-Well, what?"

"Do you wish to finish what you were going to say?"

A chill ripped down the married woman's spine. "F-forget about it. It's not important, anyway."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. Forget about it already."

"All right." Kasumi's face grew more expressive. "Oh, my! Dinner will be late if I don't get started on it." She turned her back on her sister and began chopping into the innocent vegetable before her.

For a minute, the homemaker peeled off, rolled, and chopped up the cabbage leaves. Nabiki remained rooted to where she stood, not speaking, not moving. Anger still warred inside of her, but it was tempered with restraint… not fear. She went off the wrong end, and she was promptly admonished for her outburst. Perfectly natural to happen, so she was restraining herself, that's all.

Kasumi did not just scare the hell out of her.

The above-mentioned wove her voice into the staccato sounds of slicing and dicing. "If you're wondering about the bet, the twenty-five thousand yen was not placed on a whim."

Nabiki jerked out of her introspection. "What did you say?"

"Really, I put up fifty thousand yen on the outcome of the wedding."

The brunette frowned. "But your winning bet was—"

"I know that. I had two bets made. One for, one against."

Nabiki cocked an eyebrow in mild surprise. "Really? There was no mention of someone hedging their bets."

"That's because I had asked Akane to place the 'against' bet."

The married woman gaped at her older sister's back. "You did what?!"

Kasumi pushed the cabbage strips into a bowl, and grabbed one carrot, chopping it into several orange coins. "I wanted her to believe that this was just another plot to torment her and Ranma, as you have done so in the past. I had intended for her to have hope."

She pushed off one neatly chopped vegetable into an awaiting bowl, and went for another. "I had also hoped your bookies would have mentioned her placing the bet to you before the wedding. In fact, I made sure she would let each one know that she was placing it." A quick shift, and more carrots filled the container their brethren occupied. "I was hoping you would have come to your senses by that."

Nabiki felt sickened. "No one said anything about it."

"Regardless, the money would have been made back if you two did not get married. However, now that you have—"

=Ka-TUNK=

Though the blade must have chopped through the potato's flesh hard enough to leave a noticeable deep groove in the cutting board, the married sister still staggered back as though the kitchen knife was jammed through her body.

Kasumi paused. "Oh, my." She turned to look at her sister. "Could we talk another time? With you distracting me, I forgot to peel the potatoes."

"…Sure, sis. Take your time."

She smiled. "Thank you." Turning back around, she began peeling the victim of its tough skin, humming to herself with every whittle.

Nabiki slid out of the kitchen, keeping the kitchen doors within her vision until she had to leave the living room. Not because she was afraid of her sister, she would note to herself. She was just looking to see if anyone else was listening in.

Kasumi did not just scare the hell out of her again.


Ranma was just setting up his bedmat in the corner of the room again when Nabiki walked into the room wearing a none-too-happy face. Upon seeing him looking at her, the young woman closed the door behind her and sat down upon her bed. Then she fixed a strange look on him for a few moments, not saying anything in that time.

"W-what?"

Nabiki's gaze made the normally cocky martial artist feel like he was a bug under a magnifying glass. She didn't say anything for a few seconds longer before replying. "Ranma, do you ever get the feeling you're being used?"

He looked at her as though she grew another head. "'Being used'? Coming from you? Is this a trick question?"

"I mean by anyone else?"

He blinked in confusion. She should have reacted to that in some way. Vicious, overly-kind while plotting something nasty, played it off only to trip you up later, something that would imply she was going to get him back for something. She sounded almost… accepting of the offhand accusation.

That unnerved him for reason he could not explain at the moment.

"Nabiki, you feeling okay?"

She frowned slightly. "Not really, but that's not important. Tell me, what about our wedding do you remember."

"Huh? What's bringing this up now?"

"Just tell me. Do you remember anything different, someone telling you something, overheard a rumor, something, anything?"

Ranma sat down on his bed mat, fixing a stare on his "wife." "No… What's going on?"

The brunette pursed her lips. She should tell him about the role her "beloved" sister played in their wedding. However, it would most likely amount to a waste of breath, considering his track record with women. In Kasumi's case, she could turn aside a hardened murderer with a smile and an offering of a few snacks. It would take less than that to topple Ranma onto her side.

How can an older sister be so sweet and devious at the same time?

"Nothing," she finally said, shaking her head in frustration. "I was just checking out a few inquiries from the wedding."

"Oh…" He thought for a second. "Wait a sec. Do they got anything to do with me?"

Predator instincts arose, sensing a prime opportunity to alleviate some of her confused, foul mood of the last few minutes, At Ranma's expense, of course; after all they were now married, which granted her exclusive grounds to make him miserable anyway. Not missing a beat, she feigned a sigh. "Oh nothing… just something about cameras and seeing… if you have sex as a girl."

His eyes flew wide open. "W-W-W-W-What?!"

"Like I said, it's nothing." She pointedly studied her nails.

"Like hell it is!" He sprang to his feet. "I heard about sickos putting little cameras in people's houses, spying on them when they're taking their clothes off!" Quickly, he started looking around the room.

Nabiki stifled a peel of laughter. Playing on Ranma's imagination was one thing, but watching him wind himself up on factual, though irrelevant, information was something else entirely. "What are you doing, Ranma-baby?"

He lifted up a couple of items in his immediate vicinity. "Looking for those little black cameras. Hiroshi says they're about the size of a 500 yen coin, but they can see everything!"

Nabiki struggled to keep from laughing, but was quickly failing. She knew he'd be a good source of comedy relief, but watching him take such a bald-faced lie so seriously! It was priceless!

He glanced over to her, and started getting upset. "Jeez, Nabiki! This ain't no laughing matter! I got enough problems now, and people peeking in on me ain't going to help me at all!" He lifted up the picture frames on her desk.

The brunette fell out laughing hard. "Oh my god you're a riot!" She rolled back and forth on her bed, trying to catch her breath. "I'm about to piss myself! I can't believe you're such an—"

Ranma suddenly appeared before, his expression pensive, and thrust one hand a few inches shy of her face. It took a few seconds but, all traces of laughter became extinct.

She was breathless again, but for different reasons. "Someone put a camera in my room."

He nodded numbly, holding a small black camera, about the size of a 500 yen coin between his thumb and forefinger. "Found it behind one of those pictures on your desk."

"Someone put a camera in my room." She was rigid with dread. The feeling of having one's private sanction violated without knowing stripped away all confidence and goodwill.

"Yeah… It was facing your bed."

"Someone…" The cold pit in her stomach suddenly flared into a blistering inferno. Her hands clenched into tight fists, teeth gritting hard enough to crush rock. "Someone is going to die."


"…Mm-hmm. That's the range? Hmm… That's more than helpful. Why am I asking? …oh, just looking into expanding my network, that's all. No, you haven't done anything wrong… yet. Thanks, Mugi-baby. Bye-bye."

Nabiki hung up the handset and looked over the information she scribbled down on the pad by the phone. "Okay, this electronic whiz I know says this camera model has a radius of up to two hundred and fifty meters from the receiver."

Ranma made a face. "Eight hundred feet? That could be just about anywhere around here!"

She looked in the direction of the kitchen. "…No, I don't think so. Chances are it's a lot closer than that."

He looked at her sideways. "What makes you say that?"

"Call it a hunch. If it was me trying to get some private shots of someone, I'm get as close as I could without attracting attention, so I could make sure nothing went wrong."

Ranma mulled that over in his mind for a few moments. "I guess that makes sense. You would know better."

She responded with a look, but he was busying thinking about something with his arms folded across his chest, eyes on the floor. Quirking one corner of her lips, she walked to the front door.

Was this yet another Kasumi plot to get and keep her and Ranma married? A few days ago, the very thought would have been hysterically funny at best. Now, she wasn't so sure. While she was pretty sure Kasumi wouldn't know what to do with a lot of electronic devices if you fed her the instructions, that didn't rule her out entirely; after all, it turns out she knows people that work for the health department. Who's to say she doesn't know someone in security, or a mischievous uber-techno geek?

She grounded her teeth in anger. Just who the hell is her older sister to try and control her life, anyway? If she hadn't stuck her nose in where it didn't belong, the marriage would never have happened. Akane and Ranma would be at each other's throats and making up at the same time right now, no thanks to Kasumi.

"Dammit…." Nabiki muttered under her breath, closing the door behind her.

Ranma looked up to see her disappear through the front door. A quick study of her posture as she left spoke louder than the phrase she barely spoke, but he got both messages clearly.

"Huh… she's really pissed… not that I can blame her."

"Hm? Is there something wrong, son?"

Startled, Ranma turned around to face the owner of the voice. "Ah, no, Mr. Tendo, just—"

"It's Father, my son. We're related now, so don't be so formal."

The younger man scratched his hear in apology. "Um, yeah… Father. It's going to take some getting used to, still."

"And we'll be here to support you and my precious daughter."

He seemed on the verge of breaking into a flood of tears, so Ranma hastily changed the subject. "Ah, you seen something strange before the wedding?"

"Hm? What do you mean?"

"Just… Just anything that didn't look right. Someone where they shouldn't be… Anything."

Soun scratched his chin, looking directly at his son-in-law. "Is there something I should be aware of going on?"

"Nabiki was wondering about something. I… I don't know what it was, though." It was partially the truth. While he knew the "why" she was looking for something, he didn't know the "what."

"Hmm… Now that you mention it, there was one spooky-looking young man looking for the restroom."

Ranma's ears perked up a little. "A spooky-looking guy?"

Soun nodded. "Yes, appeared as though he doesn't sleep at night. He seemed as though he would soil his clothes and my floors at any moment, the way he was shaking, so I quickly gave him directions and he rushed off."

"Oh?" That sounded kinda like Hikaru Gosunkugi, Ranma thought to himself. "Well, do you remember anything else about him?"

Soun snorted. "Of course there was more. When he left, he had accidentally dropped a funny-looking doll on the floor. It looked like he was sewing a red shirt and black pants onto it. Pins were sticking into the doll, probably to keep the cloth secured." Remembering that, Soun shook his head. "It's a shame… a high school student, and he's playing with dolls."

Ranma, on the other hand, looked as though he just saw a ghost walk behind his father-in-law and give the young martial artist the finger. "No way…."

"Pardon me, son?"

"Gotta go find Nabiki, Mr. Tendo! Thanks for your help!"

"It's—" The Saotome son was long gone out the door when Soun started to speak. "Never mind." His brows knitted together, forming a frown on his face. "I wonder what that was really about…?"

Ranma bounded up the stairs, practically skipping the stairs and going straight for the landings, and quickly swung into Nabiki's room. "Hey Nabiki, I think it might have been—"

A long sleeve, striped, motley-colored shirt had wrapped itself around the martial artist's face, obscuring the rest of the sentence. Nabiki happened to have looked up at the moment. "Oh, hey, Ranma. Check the dresser and drawers, then put them back in." She resumed her work.

He pulled the shirt off his face and caught sight of the scene before him.

Nabiki was on her knees lifting up her bed mattress, her alert and keen eyes searching for anything vaguely resembling hidden spy equipment. Having been violated in such an alien way, she was bound to leave no stone unturned. In her case, every article of clothing she owned was strewn across the room, the drawers pulled out and stacked in one corner. All her books were left open, cascading across her desktop in a chaotic literary spread.

She paused in her meticulous work to give Ranma a reproving look. "The drawers, Ranma. Check them and the dresser." Her head ducked down to resume work. "And put them back in place afterwards."

Shrugging, he tossed the shirt onto the pile on her bed. "I think it might have been Gosunkugi," Ranma said as he reviewed the dresser drawers and the dresser itself.

"Say that again?"

"Gosunkugi." He looked inside the dresser body, then lifted it up to look underneath. "He always has a camera with him taking pictures of Akane when he thinks no one's looking."

"True, Ranma." Nabiki dropped the mattress down, then sat on one corner of the bed. She watched him turn the dresser itself around to peek behind it. "Which is exactly why that doesn't make a lot of sense. If he were that gutsy, he would have put the cameras in Akane's room, not mine."

Each drawer was carefully inserted back into the dresser. "Maybe he got the rooms confused?"

Nabiki gave him a look. "He'd have to be blind to miss the nameplates on the doors."

He sighed. "Look, that's the best I can think of. If it's not him, then we're stuck with no one else."

"Oh, there's always someone else," Nabiki muttered ruefully.

"What did you say?"

She bit her lip, forgetting that Ranma has much better sensory perception than the regular guy on the street. "Nothing. Let's just say it is Hikaru Gosunkugi. First off, why would a spineless wimp like him do it in the first place?"

Ranma shrugged. "Mr. Tendo did say he looked pretty shaken. Maybe someone was putting him up to it?"

"Possible. He and Kuno did work together to expose your greatest weakness once."

He shuddered, remembering the trap door fall into a pit of stray cats and one large lion. "Don't even remind me of that incident."

Nabiki ignored his obvious discomfort. "So, let's say he is indeed working for someone else. Who? Who'd be interested in videotaping us?" She quickly cut off her for-now husband before he could open his mouth. "Not counting 'sickos'." After a moment, she added. "Well, excluding the ones we know, anyway."

"I dunno. Who'd want to watch someone else have sex, anyway?"

She perked an eyebrow in wonder at that comment. "Boy, you've been living a sheltered life. Anyway, back to the matter at hand."

"Hey! What kind of—"

"I can't see," she said, cutting Ranma off again, "How Kuno would benefit from seeing me and you have sex."

"Maybe he's trying to blackmail you or something."

Nabiki snorted derisively. "Hardly. He doesn't have the brain capacity to make that subtle a plan."

Ranma, on the other hand was leery. "Are you sure about that?"

She gritted her teeth a little, before making herself unclench her jaw. "Absolutely. Besides, I have a lot more dirt on him. He wouldn't dare take the chance."

He would have said something else, but the hard look in her eyes warned him off from progressing any farther down that line. "So, who else would put him up to it?"

Nabiki threw herself bodily backwards onto the piles of clothing burying her bed. Arms spread wide, feet dangling off the side, she stared at the ceiling for a few moments. "I have no idea. Let's go ask him."


The pale, frail-looking boy with dark circles under his eyes was busy poring over a science fiction magazine. "Mmm… power suit…." he said, slouching at his desk. "When I get that, I'm sure Akane would—"

The sharp knock on his room door interrupted his budding fantasy. Sighing heavily, Gosunkugi plopped the magazine down on his desk, and pushed himself out of his seat. He ran his fingers through his rumpled, disheveled dark hair, mumbling just loud enough to be heard. "What is it, mom?" he asked, opening his room door.

He almost had a heart attack upon lighting his eyes on Ranma and Nabiki. The former looked annoyed, but the latter was smiling, and Nabiki Tendo — correction, Saotome — wearing a smile was never a good thing. Quickly, he tried to close the door shut; however, with Ranma's foot in the way, he may as well been trying to move a mountain with his nose.

"Gos-baby, it's been so long since I've last seen you! How are you doing?"

In response, he fell over his own feet trying to get back away from the door.

"So clumsy…" Nabiki remarked, walking into the room with Ranma bodily barricading the door. "You really need to be more careful. You could accidentally break a leg… an arm… knock your teeth out…."

"Gyah!" The room owner quickly scrambled to the window and leapt to freedom… or he might have, had it not been securely locked. Furiously, he clawed at the latch, nervous, frightened fingers trying their best to pull it free.

A hand fell upon his shoulder, and he ceased all action. Gosunkugi broke out into a cold sweat, his knees knocking together. "I-I-I don't know anything! J-Just leave me alone!"

"I dunno, Nabiki. Seems like he knows plenty," Ranma lazily commented from his position.

She pursed her lips, as if in deep thought. "About video surveillance? You may be onto something."

Gosunkugi's eyes widened more in horror. "N-No! Please!"

The young woman slowly turned the terror-stricken youth around to face his company. "Gos-baby," she softly purred as she reached into her pocket, producing the mini-camera with a small flourish. "What can you tell me about this?"

Gosunkugi's mouth opened and closed rapidly, but no intelligent sound came forth. His eyes were wild, searching for some way out.

Ranma sighed loudly. "Forget this, Nabiki; let's just beat the hell out of him till he starts talking"

The subject of the would-be vicious pummeling squeaked, with his legs giving way. Nabiki let him fall bonelessly to the floor, then watching him squirm and wriggle about like a worm after a rainstorm. "D-Don't hurt me! I just—"

"Just what, Gos-baby?" She folded her arms under her breasts, smirking at the back of his head. "Just wanted to see what life's like being a voyeur?"

To her and Ranma's surprise, the sickly boy seemed genuinely disgusted with the idea. "We just wanted to know if you were just tricking everyone into thinking you two got married!"

The brunette woman lightly coughed into her hand, hiding away part of her expression; her "husband" looked away entirely, a dour look evident on his profile. "How do you mean, Gos-baby?"

His eyes stared up to his handlers. "The odds you set up on your wedding… No one thought much about the ten-to-one bet on you two tying the knot, but someone heard that someone had placed a large bet on that longshot, and well, everyone got suspicious."

Kasumi… Nabiki scowled, thinking what her sister had done. Upon seeing Gosunkugi shirk away from her little by little, she forced herself to calm down. "Okay, okay, so where does this camera come into play?"

"Um, well, I heard some talking about their suspicions, and…" He shrank in on himself, before continuing on. "I… Ivolunteeredtospyonyoutwoformoney!"

There was a long pause of silence after that verbal rush. Nabiki stared hard at the cowering informant, her eyes practically boring though his very being. Ranma, for his part, looked like a deer caught in headlights. Gosunkugi cringed, trying to make himself as small a target as possible.

"You sold us out?" she began, each word carefully measured and weighed. Not waiting for a response, she continued. "First off, how much did you take in to do this?"

The martial artist almost fell over. "What the hell does that matter? He was spying on us that night we—" Abruptly, he shut his mouth, blushing a furious shade of scarlet.

"A little over fifteen thousand! They pooled their money together and gave it to me for copies!"

Now it was Nabiki's turn to almost fall over. "Copies?! You made copies?! How many?!"

Gosunkugi wailed. "I didn't! I swear! I didn't even look at the whole thing! I couldn't bring myself to watch it beyond you two kissing! Honest! I'm telling the truth!"

"Who else saw it with you?"

"No one! Mom doesn't let my friends stay here past eight on a school night!"

"Where is the—"

A sudden knock on the room door stole everyone's attention. "Hikaru dear, is everything all right in there?"

"Yes, Mrs. Gosunkugi," Nabiki smoothly said. "We're just practicing our lines for the school play."

A trace of disbelief wafted through the door with her words. "You're in the school play, Hikaru dear?"

A sharp kick into Gosunkugi's backside shook him into compliance. "Y-Yes, mom. School play… rehearsing for play…."

"How wonderful, dear! Don't let me interrupt your practice, then." And on that, she left from the door.

Ranma looked at the door, then at Nabiki, clearly in a state of disbelief. "I can't believe you just—" Then he paused for a second, and restated himself. "On second thought, I can believe you just lied like that as if it's nothing."

She gave him a sly smile. "Flattery will get you everywhere, except one place." Then she refocused her attention on novice voyeur. "Time is short. Make a list of everyone who paid for a copy of the video, then give me both that info and the tape, as well as the money you accepted for it."

"I… I can give you the list and money… but not the tape…"

Nabiki gave him a look of disbelief. "Oh, I think you can. Blackmail tends to only make my husband very prone to random acts of violence." She looked up to Ranma, who was mouthing "Husband?" with a shocked expression adorning his features. "Care to give our friend a demonstration?"

"No! I would if I could… but… i-it's… gone."

Sighing, she made a dismissive motion with her hand. "Ranma, find out who Gos-baby sold the tape to, then kill him."

Ranma looked around the room as if there was another guy with whom he just happened to share the same name.

Gosunkugi was too busy quavering in fear to notice. "I swear I didn't sell anything! It was sitting in my VCR last night, but when I woke up this morning, it was just gone! I don't know what happened to it! I'm telling you guys the truth! Please don't kill me! Please don't! Please!!" He started to sob, bowing his face to the floor as though he was trying to become one with it.

The newlywed couple both had to turn their heads; Ranma felt embarrassed, while Nabiki was openly disgusted. "Just go get the money, Gos-baby. And everything that came with the micro camera. Reception unit box, cables, everything. And you tell anyone who comes inquiring that a martial artist — he wore a mask, so you don't know who he was, but he could fly and burn stuff just by touching it — caught wind of what was going on and destroyed everything." She turned her face back to Gosunkugi once again, who was still bowed and weeping. "We will burn one tape and…" Nabiki bit her lip slightly before continuing. "And the largest yen note of the lot, just so you'll have proof. Most likely, they will not pursue the issue beyond your word. Under no circumstances are you to let them know that we know. Is that understood?"

"Y-Yes, Nabiki."

"Good. Now go do it."

Goodbye, power suit… Gosunkugi thought glumly as he weakly got up and did newly wedded woman's bidding.


Nabiki read and re-read the list of names Gosunkugi supplied her with as she and Ranma made their way home. "Surprisingly short. Only four names, and all of them I recall having some difficulties with in the past."

Ranma cut his eyes to his right, looking at her flatly. "Gee, you sound disappointed that not enough people hate you. Trying to reach some sort of quota or something?"

A small retort rose up in her mouth, but she pushed it back from leaving the tip of her tongue. "No, I was more thinking about who Gos-baby didn't put on the list."

That comment got a raised eyebrow from her companion. "Think he was still holding out, even after all the hell you put him through?"

"Considering I just forced myself to burn a five thousand yen note out of a pile of change and small notes, I'd say yes." She shook herself, dispelling the memory of such handsome currency being swallowed up by cold, orange flames. "Did you notice how crisp and new the bill was?"

"Uh, no… I don't normally go into seizures over losing what wasn't mine in the first place."

'Oh, trust me. It felt so sharp and crisp, just like it came straight off the printing press."

The only response Ranma had was to roll his eyes. "Ever think you're just a little obsessed with money?"

"You say that like it's a bad thing."

His face fell. "What planet are you from?"

Nabiki smirked. "Haven't you ever heard how people get money and are able to keep it?"

"Don't spend it?"

"Heh. That's a minor thing, but the true secret to acquiring loads of money is very simple."

"Is that so?"

"Yep. So simple and easy, most would never get it in a million years."

"And that's… what?"

The brunette stopped walking, darting her eyes to and fro exaggeratedly, as if to spy hidden interlopers spying on them. Then she took his arm, cupped her hand and drew to Ranma's ear, whispering softly. "Love money," she said, drawing out each word.

He blinked as he found himself coloring a little and hastily pulled away. "Oh, o-okay. Whatever you say."

She shook her head, mildly amused with his reaction. "That's the one thing I really want." Her voice grew softer, quieter. "To not have money become an issue."

He didn't know how to respond to that, so he opted to keep his mouth closed.

Realizing where her thoughts were straying, she snapped out of her reflection and looked at Ranma. "You didn't hear that last part."

"Hear what?"

"Exactly." She looked up at the sky, noting the clouds swelling more and more with gray. "Come on, it's going to rain shortly."

He didn't question the strange behaviors the middle Tendo girl-turned-his wife had just displayed. Plus the lack of concern for the whereabouts of the missing tape disturbed him. Either Nabiki was some kind of closet exhibitionist, or something else was on her mind that took precedence over everything else. He just quickened his pace, wanting to avoid changing into a girl needlessly.

He'd ask her about the tape again once they were home.


I can't believe I started talking about that, Nabiki thought to herself as she kicked off her shoes at the landing and jammed her feet into her house slippers. And with Ranma, of all people! She glanced off to her side, noting that Ranma seemed inattentive for the moment, taking time to pull of his footwear. This whole marriage situation has definitely screwed me up. Just focus on the present; reliving the past isn't going to make that tape show up.

Entering the den, she caught her father's eye, who was approaching her. "Ah, good. You're home, daughter."

"Yeah, just got in, Daddy. Something's up?"

He produced from his gi top a small brown package. Upon lighting her eyes on it, she sucked in a breath through her teeth. "This was left at the door, addressed to you."

"Thank you, Daddy." She quickly took the package from his fingers and headed upstairs.

He smiled bemusedly, watching her practically fly up the stairwell. "Just like when she was little. Some things will never change." The patriarch glanced over to see Ranma approaching the steps as well. "Ranma, my son."

The youth paused in mid stride, turning his head to meet Soun's eyes. "Yeah, Mr. Tendo?"

"Father. It's Father, now."

Ranma sighed. "Yeah, still gonna take some getting used to."

The older man nodded. "Remember what we talked about yesterday." For added effect, he flexed one arms, pumping his fist in front of his chest. "Don't' let misfortune befall my daughter… or else."

The pigtail youth swallowed nervously, his mind on recent events. "N-No sweat, Mis—" He bit off the word in mid-speech, then spoke the corrected version. "I mean, Father."

At that, Soun beamed. "Very good, my son." The older man headed back into the living room.

Scratching his head at the odd turn of events, Ranma headed upstairs and turned the corner, approaching Nabiki's room. He knocked once. "Can I come in?"

"It's your room, too, now," he heard Nabiki say through the door, sounding tired and beaten. Curious, he walked in.

His eyes lighted upon her still form lying haplessly across her bed face up, her eyes closed as though she just passed on from the world. Beside her, brown wrapping paper carelessly torn apart laid, playing host to a black video cassette tape. It had no labels or writings of any kind adorning the plastic case.

Before he could ask about the tape, Nabiki asked. "Am I really that horrible a person, Ranma?"

"Huh?"

She rose up into a sitting position, and patted a place beside her languidly. She had not once opened her eyes, though. He obliged her, seating himself.

"Be honest with me here, Ranma. Am I really such a bitch that people would go out their way to make me suffer for it?"

He tried searching her face, but her eyes still had not opened. "Well, I don't hate you or nothing. You just… piss me off a lot and stuff."

"Did you really want to be married to me?"

He gave her a weird look. "Nabiki, what the hell are you going on about?"

"I'm being serious. Had you once thought about being married to me before?"

Still leery of the extreme change that overcame his newly-made wife, Ranma got up. "Dunno. I don't really think a lot about what tomorrow's got in store for me. I just face up to it like any other day and not worry about what's going to happen."

Nabiki was dead silent for a few moments. "Now, I'm more afraid to look at the tape."

"Why's that?"

Her eyes opened finally, and the amount of worry they held nearly drowned him. "Because I'm pretty sure our wedding night's on that tape right here."


They had eaten in silence at the dinner table, each one lost in their own thoughts. After the meal, Akane had approached her, asking if something was wrong, but Nabiki waved her concern off, citing marital adjustments. She and Ranma had adjourned to their room for the night. The light was turned out, but no one slept.

Neither one wanted anyone in the family to see their lewd, drunken sexual acts on film. Since Nabiki had neither a TV nor a VCR (a problem Nabiki would quickly seek to correct as soon as possible), they waited until everyone had retired to their own rooms and were thought to be soundly asleep. Then they stole from their room and down to the living room. By then, the clock read half past twelve.

They had to act quickly, view the tape, and confirm their worst fears. Nabiki turned on the TV set, turning down the volume to a bare minimum to avoid waking up her father, while Ranma popped the tape into the VCR. Every tiny noise made in the silent room sounded like gun shots, and time slowed to a crawl.

Everything set up, Ranma pressed Play, and they hugged closely to the screen to view their intoxicated passion play out before them.

What they got was an image of a smiling Kodachi Kuno waving a plain black tape in front of the camera.

Once Nabiki and Ranma overcame the shock, the tape was rewound a bit, and then played, this time, the volume turned up a little bit to hear what she was saying.

"Oh, hello, Nabiki. I assume you did get my little present I left for you. I'm sorry — terribly sorry — I could not deliver something more suitable for your wedding; it seems I was given the wrong location after all. But, lo, I discover I did not miss out on the real event after all. After overhearing my charmingly thoughtful brother request that dreadful pale boy with the dolls to verify the authenticity of your martial bliss, I could not help but to inquire in the matter myself. And that, my dear sneaky Nabiki, is where I somehow wound up with this piece of matrimonial fun. It's quite naughty, I must say. Gave me cause to blush furiously even as I made copies. I bet you would like to relive those moments, ne?"

Kodachi blows a kiss at the camera as her image fades out. Then a sudden burst of Nabiki clutching onto Ranma, sloppily kissing him on the mouth and dipping down along his throat. The groom, for his part, was fondling her still-concealed bosom, his fingers pulling at the satiny fabric of her wedding gown, groping for a zipper, or something. Her hand drew up, grabbing his crotch with a greedy hand and stroking him through his pants.

The lustful image cuts out again, fading in a blushing Kodachi.

"Just positively scandalous, wouldn't you agree, Nabiki? It would be every naughty pervert's dream to see you in such smutty action, of that, I'm positive. And I hear from my brother that there are many of those kinds of people that go to your school. I simply can't imagine the teachers or my father taking well to catching this kind of material in their fine student's hands. Why, I'm certain they would go so far as to dismiss the author of the tape.

"Of course now, if you were to end up taking yourself out of this beautiful bondage of love to Ranma-sama, I highly doubt anyone would be interested in viewing such a dirty, naughty pastime. What says you?"

The screen went black for a few moments before turning a bright blue. The newlywed couple remained put for many minutes, one finally draping an arm around the other. The power was eventually cut to the TV set and the video tape retrieved before the VCR meets the same fate as its brethren. Then the duo of Ranma and Nabiki plodded back to their room, the gravity of their reality threatening to obliterate them.

 

To be continued.

Chapter 4
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