A Ranma ½ / Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon / Ah! My Goddess crossover story
by L. S. McGill
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ characters property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Sailor Moon characters property of Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. Ah! My Goddess property of Fujishima Kosuke, Kodansha, TBS and KSS films; AnimEigo, Studio Proteus, and Dark Horse Comics. Other characters who may cameo are property of respective owners. All are used without permission. I did not write this for profit, but for practice. Will be removed at request of original creators or authorized rep.
Zhu Shu (who shoo), Tao-Ching (dow ching), Xi'an Chi (zy-an chee), and Clans Dragon and Skorpion are mine, and may be used so long as I am asked beforehand.
Book Three: The Black Dragon
Chapter Four: Interludes on a Lazy Afternoon
The police officer gave the counter girl a smile as he collected the tray and brought the two cups of tea over to the table where his older partner sat and watched the passerby's. He caught the old man's amused grin as he sat down.
"Got an eye for pretty young things myself, kid. And she is cute. Glad to see you making friends. You'll be taking over this beat when I retire."
"I have had an enjoyable first day, and most of the people I have met have been very nice. Not what I expected of the big city."
"Yeah, Tokyo is a far cry from Osaka. But Nerima's got a lot of nice people… and some real weird ones."
"Oh? Like…." The young officer's voice trailed off. The older cops eyes turned to follow, then he shook his head.
"Leave it alone, kid."
"But… but that girl is walking down the street naked! And she's covered in handprints!"
"If you want to survive around here, kid, you ignore that. Pretend she's just wearing a school uniform."
"But she might need help!"
"Kid… she's not walking… she's storming, and if you interrupt her, I'm going to likely have to haul your carcass out of a wall. That's Kodachi Kuno, and you better learn to recognize her, among others around here. Any one of them can break you into little pieces with their little finger. Trust me, kid. Whatever martial arts you think you know don't hold a candle to any of them. To top it off, the Kunos are the second wealthiest family in Nerima, and you lay one finger on them, you'll spend the rest of your very short career in court having everything you own taken from you."
The younger cop blinked. "But… but… shouldn't we at least check that she's okay? She might have been raped or something!"
"Kid… if she had, we'd be picking up the bodies. Most of the time, we'll get some poor slob who's been the focus of her latest obsession begging to be locked up just to get away from her and her nymphomania. Things have actually been a little quiet recently, since I heard the Tendo girl beat her in a match."
"Tendo?" The young officer looked to where Kodachi had turned a corner, still tensed like he wanted to go after her.
"Akane Tendo. Not the richest family in the ward, but she's got a record for filling the hospitals with boys who've tried hitting on her. Apparently Kodachi's been fixated on her lately."
The young officer raised an eyebrow. "It sounds like a twisted soap opera."
"That ain't the half of it, kid. The chief has standing orders to not interfere in any of the fights these guys have. You try to step in, not only are you likely to end up dead, but the property damage is gonna go up exponentially. You especially are not to interfere with any young girls running around in very short skirts fighting various demons, monsters or giant things."
The old cop shook his head. "Nope. Now I know most of the world thinks Godzilla was a cheap movie… but that's just because we had lousy camera crews documenting the attacks. I lived through his rampage. Now we got crazy space aliens, youma, demons, wild martial artists, even the occasional god looking for a fight. Just learn to keep your head low, and you might end up like me; about to retire after years of surviving the streets."
The young cop looked at him in horror. The old cop shrugged.
"Look on the bright side: on a fairly frequent basis, you'll get to watch a pretty young girl go by wearing nothing."
Urd groaned, realizing once again that hangovers suck.
Still, compared to many, this one wasn't quite so bad. The room was nice and dark, so no cruel, stabbing sun. It was quiet, so no noises making her head spin… and the bed was really soft and warm… especially with Mara pressed up against her, her naked skin pressed to her side, her head laying on her shoulder….
Her eyes snapped open, an act that merited an immediate groan. She looked down as best she could, realizing she was also naked, and half curled around the ex-demoness, with Mara's arm wrapped around her just under her breasts.
Her motion drew a response from Mara. "Don't panic. We didn't do anything. You were way too drunk, and I told you I want you to want me when you're sober."
Urd looked over to Mara's face, noting the blonde's eyes were still closed, though the voice didn't sound sleep-fuddled. "Umm."
Mara's eyes opened. "Really. Don't get me wrong; being in bed with you is a dream come true, but it was your idea to strip. You literally undressed me while I was telling you that I wasn't going to take advantage of you that way. Mainly, I let you do it so I could get you into the bed, where I figured you'd pass out in short order… which you did. I told you not to challenge that dwarf to a drinking contest."
Urd dimly remembered that at least. She really should have remembered the Jotun Dwarves' ale packed a huge wallop. "Sorry."
Mara smiled. "Well, I'm not complaining too much. I did get to spend a night holding you… and most of a day."
Urd rolled her eyes. "What time is it anyway?"
Urd sat bolt upright. "Shit! Shan Pu was fighting Kodachi today around three. We were supposed to be there!"
Mara blinked. "Uh-oh. I'm sorry, Urd. I didn't know, and you were sleeping so peacefully…."
Urd waved her off as she jumped out of the bed. "Not your fault, Mara. I'm the idiot who got drunk." She threw open the door and stalked towards her room in agitation.
Mara grabbed Urd's dress and chased after her. "Urd! You're naked!"
The chase went all the way from Mara's room, through the living room where a startled Keiichi and Megumi watched the pair of naked goddesses cross the room, past the kitchen where Belldandy smiled after the pair, and into Urd's room, before Mara caught up with the white-haired girl.
"You forgot your dress, Urd." Mara said again, handing her the article in question. "You walked out of the room naked!"
Urd took the dress and gave Mara a long look. "Ummm… Mara? I hate to say this, but so did you."
Mara looked down and blushed furiously, then grabbed the sheet off of Urd's bed to scurry back to her room. Urd rolled her eyes to the sounds of Megumi's cheers as the ex-demoness passed back through the living room. She got dressed normally and popped the hangover cure she had come for before heading back to the living room TV, where Mara was waiting, also dressed. She dragged them through the TV and hurried to the operations center to get Phoenixmoon to replay the fight.
As the replay ended, Urd leaned back and sighed. "That was way too close. I should have been there. She could have killed my assignment."
Mara hung her head. "I'm sorry. It was my fault. I shouldn't have taken you out drinking last night."
Urd shook her head. "No, going out wasn't the problem. I shouldn't have drunk so much. While it's true alcohol is a quick recharge for my powers, I went overboard yet again."
"Don't blame yourself, Urd. You had no way of knowing Kodachi would actually try to hurt Shan Pu that bad, and look on the bright side. Ranma saved her, in cat form. So in the end, isn't that a better solution than that charm you were trying to locate? He did it on his own, rather than by magic."
Urd nodded. "Yeah. At least it means he can't lose the charm and be back to square one." She looked up at the blonde and gave her a bright smile. "Thanks. You know, for all the time you worked against us… I sorta started to think of you as a real screw-up who was too incompetent to really be more than an annoyance."
Mara pouted and turned away. "Well, if that's what you thought…."
"Hey! I wasn't finished. I was about to say that I think I've realized you weren't incompetent; you were just doing your best to not really do your job. I think you were going out of your way to fail, even though you made it look like you were really trying. All so that we wouldn't end up with a demon who was really out to hurt us."
"Which means that my ordering you to sacrifice all your energy to Fenrir must have been really painful. I don't remember doing it… but for what it's worth, I'm sorry. And I understand why you were so angry that it made it easy for Hild to use you like she was."
Mara was silent, slumped in her seat with her arms crossed and her back to Urd. Urd got up quietly and stepped behind the other girl.
"And you were really decent to me last night. I appreciate that you didn't take advantage of me while I was drunk, even though I know you want me, and I know how hard that must have been since you were a demon. I have enough problems with impulse control, and I'm only half. And you keep trying to cheer me up when this assignment gets to me."
Mara sighed. "I love you, Urd. I just want to help," she said quietly.
Urd draped herself across the back of the chair to put her face right next to Mara's. "I know that. So that is why I want to give you this."
Mara's eyes widened in surprise as Urd's hand grabbed her chin and gently pulled her face to meet Urd's as the white-haired goddess planted a kiss on her lips. Her heart hammered as Urd smiled and stood back up. "Now, since everything is apparently okay, and this day is mostly shot anyway, I think you and I have some unfinished business back in my bedroom."
Mara blinked repeatedly as Urd sauntered to the console and killed the privacy screen. In utter shock, she watched as the white-haired goddess walked away, with a deliberate hip sway that spoke "come hither" so loud it almost screamed, then paused at the door to look back at the still unmoving ex-demoness. With a smile, she lifted her hand and beckoned with one finger before stepping outside the door.
Mara bolted after her so fast she left a dust trail.
Shan Pu was in heaven.
Well, she was in Ranma's arms, being petted to within an inch of her life, which pretty much amounted to the same thing. And she was purring as hard as she possibly could to express her happiness.
"So tell me exactly what happened again?"
"There ain't that much to tell, Akane. Kodachi tried to win by turning Shan Pu into a cat when she realized her magic necklace wasn't enough to insure her win. And I had to stop her from breaking Shan-kitty's neck."
"Rabbit Talisman is strong magick, Ranma. Kodachi must have got from American, Valmont. She work with him on Hong Kong to try and capture Zhu Shu. Must call Agent Black and the Chans when get home to come get. Too dangerous to keep."
Ranma looked at the Chinese girl and shrugged. "It's not much. Why does it worry you so?"
Zhu Shu gave the redhead a look. "Talismans belong to Shendu. Demon dragon who seek to return from spirit realm. Long ago, Clan Dragon's greatest fighter take talismans and turn Shendu to statue. If Valmont recovers talisman, can bring Shendu back to life. Section Thirteen mean to make sure does not happen."
Akane stared. "Are you telling me you fought a demon on Hong Kong?"
Zhu Shu laughed. "No. Valmont have several talismans, friend Jackie have some. Valmont work for Xi'an Chi, try to capture Zhu Shu. Not succeed, even with Kodachi help."
"Why didn't you tell us Kodachi was helping them?" Ranma asked. "If she was trying to hurt you, we should have known."
Zhu Shu shrugged. "Kodachi just obsessed with Akane. Think Zhu Shu is rival. She not really try to hurt, just capture. Zhu Shu not think she know what Xi'an Chi have planned for Zhu Shu."
Ranma shook her head. "You know, every time you mention something from your trip to Hong Kong, the more you convince me I should have gone with you."
"Well, what I want to know is how you can hold Shan Pu? This morning you wouldn't even come into the same room with her," Akane asked.
Ranma looked down at the pink-and-purple kitten, who appeared to be suffering paroxysms of joy. "I guess in the end, I was more afraid of her dying than I was of her being a cat," she said softly.
Shan Pu stopped meowing to look up at the redhead, then jumped out of her arms to go and meow up at Zhu Shu. The Chinese girl looked around the path before pulling out her thermos of hot water.
One glomp and a huge kiss from a naked, wet Amazon later, Ranma found herself locked arm in arm with Akane and a quickly dressed Shan Pu, being dragged into the house between them as Zhu Shu laughed and waved from the dojo door before going in to teach the girls.
Once up in Akane's room, the two other girls let the redhead go and smiled in unison. Ranma looked from one to the other and shook her head. "Okay, why do I feel like I'm in for a world of trouble?"
Akane laughed. "Because you are, dear. But not bad trouble. Just the kind of trouble you get when you have two fiancées. Now, I don't know about you, but I came to the conclusion over a week ago that I wanted to play with Shan Pu as well as you."
Ranma sat down in the chair by the table. "Yeah, I kinda got that impression when I watched you kiss her in the schoolyard."
Akane blinked. "That didn't make you jealous, did it? If it did, I'm sorry. I mean, I was angry at you, but I wasn't doing it to hurt you."
Ranma shrugged. "No, you were right. We both agreed to make Shan Pu our fiancée. And while she's been wholeheartedly enthusiastic, we've been beating around the bush."
Shan Pu smiled. "Does mean Shan Pu finally have airen's love?" She clasped her hands excitedly.
Ranma looked at her. "I don't know if I love you or not, Shan Pu… but I promised to try, and I really ain't been doing that."
Shan Pu nodded. "Shan Pu understand. Sister say may take while to have airens accept Shan Pu. Is hard, but Shan Pu love Airens, so tries be patient."
Ranma laughed. "Patient? If you've been patient, I shudder to think what demanding is going to be like."
Shan Pu stuck out her tongue as Akane laughed.
"So, Ranma. Are you over being afraid of cats?" Akane asked.
Ranma shrugged. "I hope so. At least I'm over being scared of Shan-kitty."
"So does that mean you are also over objecting to her playing with us?"
Ranma shrugged again. "I guess so."
"So, if I wanted to… oh, say, strip Shan Pu naked and treat her like an oyster, you'd have no complaints?"
Ranma blushed furiously. "Umm… I guess not."
"Oyster?" Shan Pu asked, puzzledly.
Akane gave her a grin. "Oyster… definitely."
"What airen mean?"
Ranma smiled as she stood walked over and locked the door then leaned back against it to watch. "Inside joke."
Several minutes later, Shan Pu finally understood the reference.
Kodachi stormed into the greenhouse and slammed the door behind her, prompting Mu Si to look in her direction from where she had been meditating on the bed.
"I almost had her! If that meddling Ranma hadn't interfered!" She let out a howl of frustration and lashed out at a nearby table, sweeping a dozen empty pots to the floor to shatter.
"I take it that the fight with Shan Pu did not end as my mistress wanted," Mu Si commented.
Kodachi screamed again. "The Black rose has been humiliated! Tossed naked to the crowd like a common whore! I should make the entire school feel my wraith for daring to lay hands upon my person."
"I take it you had fun having a large number of people molest you, then," Mu Si commented, looking back down at the bed.
Kodachi scowled at the angel winged girl, posing dramatically. When Mu Si didn't react, her eyes narrowed. "Why do you never gaze upon me? I stand before you naked, and you react as if I am invisible? Does not my body stir urges within you?"
Mu Si laughed. "I could care less what you look like, mistress. It matters not that I can't even see you without my glasses. You're not Shan Pu, so hold no interest to me."
Kodachi snorted, then rummaged around on her table until she found the glasses the raven-haired girl had lost in the crash. She tossed them at her head, noting that Mu Si snagged them out of the air merely from the sound. As she put the tremendously thick lenses on, she got her first look at Kodachi, disappointing the gymnast again at the utter lack of reaction. She stalked forward, furious.
"I do not like it that you fail to find me attractive. You have said you are truly a male. Does not my nearness entice you? My naked body arouse you? Does not the entrancing scent of my perfume make you desire me?"
"I am dead, mistress. I am alive only because you do not end my existence."
Kodachi pushed Mu Si back on the bed, and crawled over her, her body pressed against the other girl, her thigh hard against Mu Si's pubis. "Does even this not excite you?"
Mu Si sighed. "If you desire sex, mistress, I will endeavor to perform, but I cannot promise you any passion. My body is yours to do with as you wish, as is my life."
Kodachi rolled off her and screamed again. "Why does everyone seek to thwart me today!"
Mu Si was silent.
Kodachi finally stood, and glared at the Chinese girl. "I will get you to love me, Mousse. I will make you forget that purple-haired harlot. I will make you worship only me."
"You cannot, mistress. My heart belongs to Shan Pu. Only my body can be yours. Besides, you have your own goddess."
"I will not be rejected! I will not stand for it! YOU WILL LOVE ME!"
Kodachi howled and threw a flowerpot at the Chinese girl before storming back out the door into the mansion. Behind her, Mu Si watched her go, the slightest hint of a smile on her face as she resumed meditation.
As Kodachi slammed through the house to her room, Tatewaki Kuno sat before the shrine holding the sword of his ancestors. In the two weeks since their return from China, he had meditated here every day until far past dark.
It had been his hand that had slain the demon, his blade that had pierced that dark breast.
He had taken the life of another. A demon. He had stood toe to toe with Darkness, and triumphed.
All his life, he had been cheated of the noble samurai destiny he had been born to, trapped in a world where heroics were for stories, where demons only haunted dreams…
He had been blind.
He smiled, feeling the blade grow warm in his hands. It had been made to kill, to destroy….
In the hands of a human, for the protection of a human, the blade had the power to destroy evil, to destroy demons. Forged from a demon's tooth, to protect the defenseless, its true name had long ago been lost. It had been called the Heart of Light by his grandfather, and the legend had always been that it had been forged by the gods as a gift to man. When Kuno had first taken it down from the shrine, it had been old, pitted and dull. He had spent months polishing it to the mirror bright shine, sharpening it to beyond a razors edge. His ancestral sword….
Nameless it had been… but nameless no more The demon's blood had been only a faint sheen upon the blade but it had marked out the dim traces of the craftsman's art, the faint kanji of its name:
He smiled as the shadows crept slowly towards night.
Zhu Shu found Ukyo sitting on a stool in the restaurant as she entered, following her class. She smiled and waved, looking around the main room, currently empty of customers.
"It's gonna be a slow day, Zhu Shu," Ukyo said. "There's a promotional concert down at the park for a new anime show, and they've got a couple of very scantily dressed adult girls as voice actresses. Heard a bunch of the boys talking about it at the gymnastic match. Between getting to have Kodachi tossed to them naked, and getting to ogle adult females, you're old hat today."
Zhu Shu shrugged. "Zhu Shu not mind. But means wore dress today for nothing."
Ukyo took in the extremely short, backless dress and raised an eyebrow. "Doesn't it bug you to play the sex toy?"
Zhu Shu perched on another stool, taking a second to get her tail comfortable. "Why should? Zhu Shu work very hard to become pleasing to eye. Aunt teach many ways to make attractive, make learn to be second nature. Is just another art, like sword dance."
Ukyo shook her head. "I don't get you at all. Most of the girls I know who chase other girls don't go in for the whole perfume and makeup routine."
Zhu Shu tilted her head. "Zhu Shu not understand."
"Well, they're mostly like… tomboys and stuff."
"Oh. Like Ukyo." Zhu Shu shook her head. "Zhu Shu not like that. Is perfectly happy to be girl. Never wish be boy. Not have to be boy because of father's vow either. Wish could free Ukyo from that."
Ukyo had raised her eyebrow at Zhu Shu's implication that Ukyo was in the butch category, but nodded when Zhu Shu continued. "Yeah, I wish there was a way out of it too, but Dad has been impossible on that. I'm stuck as a boy legally unless I marry Ranma, and I can't." She sighed. "And I guess I might as well get used to this restaurant being my living, because the only way I can inherit the rest of the Kuonji business is to marry a girl."
"Zhu Shu can sympathize. She have been on husband quest for over year. Must marry boy and bear heir. Is last of family. Zhu Shu not have babies, family dies."
Ukyo blinked. "I thought you liked girls."
Zhu Shu nodded. "Yes. So Zhu Shu stuck in same boat Ukyo in."
Ukyo shook her head. "Family expectations suck."
"Yes, yes. But duties still have to be done."
There was a long silence as Ukyo watched the passersby out front, but still no customers came in. Finally she asked, "How do you know I'm the one your tattoo is indicating?"
Zhu Shu gave her a surprised look. "How know that?"
"Ranma told me the first day you worked here. I've been mulling it over most of a week. Why do you think it's me? I don't like girls that way."
Zhu Shu shrugged. "Zhu Shu not have all the answers. When lose Ying-Ying, Zhu Shu and she share a link. We shared chi, and Zhu Shu felt her die. It like have soul ripped out, and Zhu Shu become obsessed with joining her in death. Zhu Shu remember standing on cliff, and stepping forward, then wake up in own bed, with tattoo on back. Not know why Dragon put on Zhu Shu, but Ying-Ying name mean 'cherry blossom'. When meet Akane, very first impression of her be of young tiger. And when met Ukyo…." She trailed off.
Zhu Shu sighed. "Since Zhu Shu claimed by Dragon, she have ability to see auras, but not just colors, she see much more… like look at soul of person…. Not know how to explain. It very hard for Zhu Shu to see people without see aura, and when see Ukyo, she know. Ukyo look in Zhu Shu's eyes beside ring. Zhu Shu knows she felt too."
Ukyo didn't look at her. "I don't know what I saw when I looked at you that first time, other than shock at seeing a girl with horns and wings. Any more than I know why it feels like you're always there in the back of my mind."
"Zhu Shu not mean make Ukyo uncomfortable."
Ukyo laughed. "I'm not sure you can help it, Zhu Shu." She gave the Chinese girl a look. "By the way, I know from Ranma you've been in Japan several months, and you seem to know way too many Japanese words to speak as brokenly as you do."
Zhu Shu smiled. "I can speak Japanese better," she said slowly. "But I have to concentrate very hard, and think about everything I say. It is very difficult to do in normal conversation."
Ukyo laughed. "And even more annoying than the other way. I'd go crazy waiting for you to finish a sentence. Okay, I guess I can live with the bad grammar."
Zhu Shu pouted. "I will try to improve it."
Ukyo laughed again. "Hey… In its own way, it's kinda cute. Just a little hard to understand at times."
Zhu Shu didn't say anything, watching as yet another person walked by the entrance without coming in. "Will not make tips if no one come."
"I figure they'll be here in a few hours. The concert can't last all day. Probably work our asses off right before closing."
Zhu Shu's wings flapped as she left the stool and fluttered over to the window, looking both ways down the street before sighing. She turned to see a beet-red Ukyo. She tilted her head. "Why Ukyo blushing?"
"Don't you wear panties?"
Zhu Shu waved her tail. "Is very difficult to find panties that accommodate tail. Zhu Shu has tried to make pair, but then they fall off when in normal form, and they not cover well anyway. Besides, entire school have seen Zhu Shu naked. Zhu Shu not care. Not really understand why be big deal anyway."
Ukyo shook her head. "Just…" she paused. "Honestly, I guess you're right. It's not like you're a health risk, since you shave. It's more because it's expected that you be upset if a guy sees you naked. And I guess the only reason it made me blush is… well… I know you like girls… and… umm… well… it kinda has a different meaning knowing that."
Zhu Shu shook her head. "Not understand."
Ukyo blushed even brighter. "Because you like girls… it's, umm…." She buried her face in her hands. "It's like looking at a naked guy when you're a girl!"
Zhu Shu raised her eyebrow and gave Ukyo a long look, then sauntered back over to the stool. "Still no customers."
Ukyo looked up, still blushing, but relieved Zhu Shu had changed the subject. "No."
"So, Zhu Shu know how make many foods, but not know how to make okonomiyaki."
Ukyo smiled. "It's pretty easy, but it takes skill to make it well."
Zhu Shu nodded. "Like food Zhu Shu cook. Or sword dance. Must practice if truly wish to do well."
Ukyo was silent for a moment. "Could you teach me? I've never seen anyone move as fast as you do, except that gymnast with the magic item."
Zhu Shu tilted her head, contemplating, but deciding it might be too difficult to hide the fact she was teaching the Senshi from Ukyo. Finally she shook her head. "Zhu Shu have five students. Not sure could teach more in same class."
"How about I join you for morning kata? I know you practice every morning, and Ranma says you've been doing it alone since he's been working with Akane."
Zhu Shu tilted her head. "Not sure you would like. Zhu Shu usually do nude."
Ukyo blinked. "Huh? Why?"
Zhu Shu went back to look out the window again, then demonstrated by hooking her foot over her wing, being careful to not give Ukyo a show. "Because many stretches strain dress seams to bursting, and Zhu Shu get tired of sewing dresses back up."
Ukyo shook her head. "So, you're a contortionist as well."
"No. Just extremely flexible. Strength of muscle more from how far can stretch then how bulky it is." Zhu Shu settled back on the stool. "Zhu Shu is dancer, Song school use dance and sword, Dance of Shiva use dance and ribbon. Zhu Shu kata include both."
Ukyo raised her eyebrow again. "The Dance of Shiva doesn't sound Chinese."
"No… Zhu Shu taught dance by girl from India, Sarhia. She share with Zhu Shu as gift for time together, so Zhu Shu always remember her."
"Did you love her?"
"She very good friend, and yes, she was lover. But no, Zhu Shu was not in love with her. Shared body simply for pleasure."
"So you're not a virgin."
"No. Zhu Shu give self to Ying-Ying when thirteen. Have shared pleasure with a few since leave village."
"But you're not in love?"
Zhu Shu gave Ukyo a long look, but remained silent.
Ukyo persisted. "Are you in love?"
"Ukyo not want know answer."
Ukyo gave her a long look, but relented. She looked out the window again, and sighed. "I hate days with no customers."
"Zhu Shu have many, many days like this when work in inn. Customers out in field. Aunt usually keep busy with small tasks."
"Yeah, but I already have enough supplies for the day, and I've cleaned everything twice waiting for you." She came and sat back down on the stool. "Gods! I hate waiting for customers." She sighed.
"Zhu Shu wish could make better."
Ukyo looked at her and smiled. "I suppose we could always have you stand outside and do a strip tease to pull in customers."
Zhu Shu grinned. Then fluttered up and headed for the door.
"Hey!" Ukyo jumped up after her. "I was just kidding!"
"So what prompted this?" Mara asked, feeling like she was floating on a cloud. "Does this mean you love me?"
Urd looked down at the blonde head on her shoulder. "I don't know. I'm still trying to decide how I feel about you, Mara, but you showed me that regardless of anything else, you not only want me, but you respect me. That means a lot."
"Of course I respect you, Urd," Mara protested.
Urd shook her head. "Not like that, like respecting my power or my status… you respect me. Last night isn't the first time I've been drunk while out with someone. Most of the time, I've had to grab my clothes and sneak out in the morning before the guy wakes up and thinks just because I was an easy drunk I'm in love with him or something."
Mara frowned. "You don't think I—"
Urd's finger pressed against her lips. "No. You didn't. And that's why I did. I wanted to give you willingly what you could have taken, but respected me to much to take. You spent a whole night refraining from taking advantage of me. So, you deserved a reward, and this was the one I most wanted to give to you."
"So this wasn't because you love me?" Mara asked plaintively.
"I didn't say that. I said I'm still not sure." Urd lifted Mara's face so their eyes met. "I will give you this much. I'm a hell of a lot closer to loving you than I was this time yesterday."
Mara nodded. "I'll take that for now." She smiled as she lazily traced circles with one finger on Urd's stomach. "Thank you."
Nabiki sat at the table, idly stirring her ice with a straw and doing her best to not be annoyed. It wasn't easy, especially after going through all the trouble of getting dressed after Tao-Ching's call to meet him at the restaurant. She'd had a time making sure her wardrobe could accommodate the sudden appearance of a rabbit tail, and as she was adjusting the evening gown, she'd started worrying he'd get lost on the way to the restaurant.
She'd shown up, and sure enough, he was nowhere to be seen, though the maître d' had the reservations waiting. She had been served impeccably, enjoying the late afternoon breeze on the restaurant's patio, and wondering about the closed-down building across the street.
It was a nice building, but empty, which was a shame, because it appeared to be a club of some sort. Someone had gone to a lot of trouble to outfit it in a flashy style that meshed well with the overall area's atmosphere, but there was no activity around it.
The sound of a powerful motor pulled her attention over to the entrance, and she saw a brand new sports car pull to the curb and stop. Avarice instantly filled her heart. It was kitted out to the nines and painted a jet black with a pattern of snowflakes along the side. And the front license plate said "Ice Queen." With a raised eyebrow, she waited for the door to open, curious as to who else would call themselves by a name she prided herself on.
Then she shook her head, watching Tao-Ching, of all people, climb out of the speed machine. He grinned and waved at her on the patio, hopping the rail after the valet took the car.
"Hiya, Nabs. Sorry I'm late. Got lost trying to get here."
"This is something new, furball? I've been setting here cooling my heels for an hour. And don't call me Nabs!"
Tao-Ching laughed. "Well, I have two pieces of good news for you."
"You're finally getting a GPS installed in your head? And you're going to finally spend time with me on a date?"
Tao-Ching grinned. "Well, I am going to take you out dancing after this, and I was going to have dinner with you here. Does that count as a date?"
Nabiki smiled. "Finally. So what's your good news?"
"One, I take it you like your new car?"
Nabiki laughed. "Yes, I do. I wanted it the first second I saw it. So you're showering me with presents now? Can I expect some actual wooing soon?"
"Maybe, but I have another bit of good news for you." Tao-Ching waved his hand over at the closed building. "Behold, your part in my little bet with Kuno."
Nabiki blinked. "That club?"
"Yep. That's where we're going to go dancing after dinner. The previous owner went bankrupt building it, so I bought it for a song, and my lawyers have drawn up a contract for you to manage it as my proxy. All profits will be in your name, you just have to pay rent." He gave her a leer. "And we can negotiate on that."
Nabiki punched him in the arm. "Should have taken me up last time I offered. I'm not always so easy to get."
Tao-Ching toyed with his water glass. "I could always improve the odds."
Nabiki grinned and kicked the table, resulting in a splash and a growl from a wet smilodon. "You should know by now I tease back."
The waiter that approached the table appeared to completely ignore the large cat as he stopped. "Will madam need a menu for her guest?"
Nabiki grinned. "Oui, and if you would be so kind as to bring Mr. Hibiki a kettle of hot water and a new tux?"
"Very good, Madam."
Nabiki looked back in time to see a tail knock her water glass over, but wasn't quick enough. She looked at the large cat, doing his best to appear innocent. "All right, turnabout's fair play. Lucky for you, I wore a low back, or you'd be buying me a new dress as well as getting a new tux."
Several minutes and a change later, Tao-Ching sat back down, smiling at the way Nabiki's ears were quivering at attention even though she was looking nonchalant.
"Now, about this club thing. You're saying I get to run it however I see fit?"
Tao-Ching nodded. "With two conditions. First, you're too young for a liquor license, so no alcohol. And no other intoxicants. I have a few connections to the Yakuza, so I've managed to ask them to leave you alone for now, but that means you need to make sure the club is clean. Everything stays legit, or the deal's off. No padding the profits illegally. It's a minors' club, and unfortunately, since I'm setting it up, the police are bound to keep an eye on it. You're going to have to be an upstanding citizen."
Nabiki blinked. "Ooookay."
"Second, regardless of whether you actually win my bet for me or not, you take care of your family first."
Tao-Ching shrugged. "I'm an orphan, Nabiki. If it hadn't been for Rin Se, I'd have probably died alone and wandering. I never found my parents, just my grandfather and my cousin Ryouga's family. I've thrown myself into my work for the last couple of years, resenting my grandfather's insistence I had to join the JSDF, and then his insistence I had to make my fortune when I got kicked out. It's only recently, being around your family, that I realized how much I would give to have what you have. I don't want you to get so involved in making your fortune you forget what's really important. I'd rather sign my fortune over to you right now than see you turn your back on your family in the name of profit, like I have and my grandfather has."
Nabiki blinked slowly several times. Then she leaned over and drew Tao-Ching's face up and kissed him.
His face broke out in a huge grin. "What was that for?"
Nabiki smiled softly. "Promissory note. You just made me very happy to be your fiancée."
"I'm telling you, it's just ahead."
"Yeah, you've been saying that for a half hour. My legs are getting tired, and it's starting to get dark. Why don't we just go play on the Playstation?"
"But you have to see it, Yoko. My parents don't believe me!"
"A rock covered in glowing fractures that seems to whisper? I don't believe you either, Tetsuo."
"That's why I brought the camera. We can take pictures, and you can verify they're real!"
Yoko sighed and reflected that if it weren't for the fact that she'd been trying to get Tetsuo to notice she was a girl, she'd have been back home trying to slay the evil Wicked Dragon King. But no, she'd had to agree to this fool hike in the hopes that maybe it was a ruse to get her alone so he could tell her how much he really loved her. Then she could tell him how much a fool he'd been making of himself over that Asuka in sixth grade, a girl who'd never give a fifth grader the time of day.
She'd even worn a real skirt today, instead of the jeans she normally put on after school, but had he noticed? No, he was only concerned about this stupid rock he'd seen , and… "Wahhh!" Yoko cried as her foot slipped and she slid down the slope into a clearing.
"Yoko!" Tetsuo cried, tossing down his backpack as he raced down after his friend. He found her upside down over the very rock he'd been looking for, her skirt hiked up nearly to her waist to show off the pretty pink hearts on her panties. He stopped and let his eyes bug out at this first glimpse of the forbidden mysteries of girls, realizing that he'd never seen Yoko wear a skirt before.
"Hey, Tetsuo, you gonna help me up or just stare at my underwear?" Yoko yelled.
Some how, Tetsuo overcame his slack jaw and actually managed to walk over and offer a hand to Yoko, pulling her up to sit on the rock.
"What?" The girl sniffed. "You better not be about to make fun of my underwear, or I'll slug you!"
"N-o-o-o-o. I… um…." Tetsuo blushed beet red.
Yoko smiled. Finally he was noticing she was a girl! She looked at him. "Does that mean you thought they were cute?"
Yoko jumped up. She lifted the side of her skirt to show the edge of them to him again, then let out an "EEK!!" in surprise and pulled her skirt down hard.
"What?" Tetsuo cried in alarm.
"My panties are missing!"
Behind her, the boulder let out a chuckle and a rumble that sounded like "My silky darlings." The rock started to shake as the glowing fissures on its surface grew wider.
Yoko, uncaring of her lack of anything under her skirt anymore, yelled "RUN!" as her feet started pumping towards town. Tetsuo stared at the rock for just a second longer before turning and following with all his might.
As they tore down the hillside, the rumbling grew louder, culminating in an explosion as the rock shattered. Over the noise of the aftershocks, the children heard something that made their blood run cold.
Yoko could have sworn it sounded just like her perverted old grandfather, and she ran faster.
To be continued.
|Book 3, Chapter 5|
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