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A Ranma ½ / Rumik World crossover
by Ukyou Kuonji

Disclaimer: All rights to characters, settings, and scenarios belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.

Chapter 2

It had been a busy day at the okonomiyaki-ya, and as the last few customers of the night paid their bills and left, Ukyou hung out the "Sorry, we're closed" sign in the window. That accomplished, she turned to her mentor.

"Mitsukuru-sensei, I…"

Mitsukuru could tell something was up, something that ran deeper than simply being bullied on the schoolyard. "Ukyou-kun… what is it? You can tell me, you know…"

No, I couldn't, sensei… there's just too much…

In her little village, nestled along the borders of Kyoto and Osaka prefectures, Ukyou had never been well-regarded among her fellow children. She was the girl who had to work for a living, frying up what some disdained as 'carny food', so the other girls wouldn't associate with her — not that she had the time to be bothered by that. Boys, too, tended to avoid this tomboyish cook, whose father seemed well nigh unapproachable to the average six-year-old.

But then, a newcomer came to town with his father, a couple of nomadic martial artists, searching for the ultimate martial techniques. The son was about Ukyou's age, and saw in her an ideal playmate.

Not that Ukyou viewed what little Ranma was doing to her as 'playing.' To her, it was deadly earnest — fight the interloper off, before he could steal another okonomi-yaki from her father's yatai. But one day, as she picked herself up from the dust after her usual defeat, she looked up guiltily into her father's eyes…

…and saw a smile and a twinkle.

It turned out that he'd been provoking the fights in the first place. The Saotomes, with their hand-to-mouth existence on the fringes of society, were barely able to provide for themselves. Kuonji-san, at the same time, had decided it was time his little Ukyou learn some martial arts, and, at the same time, make friends with a boy. This, to him, was the perfect arrangement. So, he had let it slip to Ranma (unbeknownst to Ukyou), that if he could defeat Ukyou, he would get an okonomi-yaki for himself and for his father.

The twinkle in Kuonji-san's eye was pride in his daughter's growing skill. True, Ranma was still the better fighter, and most likely would always be, but that was to be expected. He had, after all, already dedicated his few years to study of the Art, and Ukyou was far too far behind him to catch up. But the fact the she would not give up trying was enough to make Kuonji-san proud.

Ukyou caught her father's smile, and while she continued to fight Ranma with all her might, from that day forth it was Ucchan who would make Ran-chan's okonomi-yaki herself… just as soon as he'd pulled her up from the ground and she dusted herself off.

"You're gettin' pretty good, Ucchan." Ranma might say, as Ukyou stood before her sizzling grill.

"At which, fighting or cooking?"

"Well… both, really."

"You mean it?" Ukyou practically glowed. Her sauce brush flew across Ran-chan's okonomi-yaki, and painted a goofy smiley face on it. Ranma leaned over her shoulder.

"Say… that's pretty cute, Ucchan."

Ukyou turned away, so that Ranma couldn't see her blush. She quickly took a sheet of waxed paper from a drawer underneath the grill and deftly scooped the okonomi-yaki onto the paper from the grill. "It's yours, Ran-chan."

That grateful smile of his was somehow worth all the beatings he'd administered to her over the past few months. He sat down on a nearby tree root and began happily devouring his prize.

"Y'know…" he said, cheeks full of okonomi-yaki, "I wish this could go on forever…"

Ukyou blinked in surprise. "Do you mean it, Ran-chan?"

Ranma looked up at his friend's eyes; now it was his turn to look surprised and maybe a little confused. Ucchan's tone was a little more earnest than he'd expected. The look in his friend's eyes held more meaning than he had when he'd said that. But… "Yeah, sure… I guess so." Then he looked down a bit; his eyes wouldn't let Ucchan's gaze hold onto him. "…The problem is, I can't stay here much longer. Pop said the other day that we're gonna haveta move on soon."

The news hit her harder than any blow he had ever landed on her. "Going…?" It came out as a tentative squeak.

"Uh-huh. Pop's looking into some training grounds further off. Down south, in Kyushu or Shikoku, and maybe eventually we'll be going to Korea and China… who knows? So I'm gonna be leaving soon." Ukyou's heart ached as the little boy rattled off places he might be visiting in his quest, places she knew she'd never get to see. And he sounded so enthusiastic about it, too…

Ukyou fought back tears. "Will I ever see you again?"

"I sure hope so… we're friends, aren't we?" Ranma's response was bright and cheery.

The tears vanished from Ukyou's eyes. "You mean it?"

That question again. Something told Ranma he should be a little nervous about how he responded. As was to become customary, he ignored it. "Sure…"

"Let's promise…" She held out her pinky. Ranma blinked and stared momentarily at Ukyou's gesture. Then, grinning, he wrapped his pinky around hers, and the two of them shook on it.

So, it was done. The promise had been made. Now all Ukyou needed to do was to arrange this so the promise would be that much easier for Ran-chan to keep…

Old man Kuonji was crouched down on his haunches, his brow furrowed with concern at his daughter's suggestion. "You're a little young to be thinking about marriage, don't you think, Ukyou?"

Ukyou had on a look of petulant determination. She was irresistibly cute. "I know what I want, Daddy. Ran-chan's my best friend… he's the only friend I've ever had! And now he's leaving!" She fought back the tears, and composed herself. "I wanna go with them. I thought, maybe, I could be engaged to him…"

Tatsuhiro Kuonji smiled at his daughter. "Let me talk with Ranma's father. I'll see what I can do."

She walked through the park, trying to clear her thoughts. She had broken down and given Mitsukuru-sensei her notice; she was leaving. As much as Mitsukuru was forced to admit that he had taught his prodigy as much as he could, he was still sad to see Ukyou go.

He would have been the first to admit that it partly from selfish reasons — Ukyou's skill and showmanship had built up a considerable clientele, and he dreaded the possibility of losing customers to wherever it was that Ukyou was moving on to.

At the same time, Ukyou's imminent departure bothered him for reasons far outweighing business concerns. It may have been that Ukyou had learned much of the craft of okonomi-yaki, but in other ways, the child had yet to mature, and Mitsukuru-sensei had said so upon receiving the news. Especially if this had something to do with that bully. What Ukyou was doing was nothing less than running away from a problem.

"Stand up to him and fight!" Mitsukuru-sensei's words echoed in her ears. She sat down on a bench, buying her face in her hands, weeping bitterly. How could she tell him that she already had?

And how could anyone ever know how?

She could not afford to cry for long. She needed to know… where to go from here? It was a constant dilemma she faced with every move she made. That didn't make things any easier, though.

A nearby wastebin held a few newspapers. Maybe they could provide some guidance; any okonomiyaki-yas that were hiring, perhaps. She could only hope that the classified section was included in the discarded pile.

It was the local color news her eyes fell onto first: The all-Tokyo Miss Martial Arts Takeout Delivery Race. Mitsuruku-sensei had been approached about entering a contestant, but had demurred, claiming he had no female staff as the rules seemed to require. Ukyou, obviously, said nothing… despite the fact that she thought she could have done well in such a competition.

Imagine her annoyance to discover that the race had been won by one Ranma Saotome, representing Ichiban Ramen, Nerima. She knew he was a male… what was he doing competing? "Damn. I coulda run as a male, and maybe I coulda won." She shrugged as she tossed the section back into the waste bin. No sense in crying over spilled milk, after all, and there are more pressing matters to attend to, such as finding…

…Ranma Saotome??!! She snatched the paper back from the bin. There were no pictures, but the profile was unmistakable. Blood type A positive, father Genma Saotome, nearly seventeen years old… it had to be him. She had found him, and he was in Nerima.

A bright red aura began to flare around her, and the sounds of howling and chirping could be heard throughout the park. Ukyou was angry — that meant food! The discordantly joyful sound was oppressive in Ukyou's ears.

She fought back the maddening spirits; she would have her vengeance, and she would be in full control when she got it. The din died down to nothing, and a thin smile appeared on her lips. No longer would she be merely running away from something… she now had something to run toward. Something she'd been pursuing all her life.

She was walking through the business district of Nerima, looking either for an okonomiyaki-ya that was hiring, or an empty storefront where she might actually set up her own shop. All work and no play may have made Ukyou a dull girl, but she had the wherewithal to go into business for herself, even here in suburban Tokyo. She was just jotting down the phone number on a 'to let' sign when she saw him.

Genma Saotome.

She felt her blood boil as she watched him going about his business. Not a care in the world, the man had. Well, she'd change that.

Deep in her ears, she heard the sound of her hungry friends, begging for release, for the taste of blood and anger. She squeezed her eyes shut, and willed them to be silent. It would simply not do to assault him here and now. Not only was it a crowded street, with far too many witnesses, he wouldn't see it coming. He had to acknowledge his sins, and then she would make him pay for them.

Genma Saotome felt a slight tickle in his nose, as if were about to sneeze, but the moment passed without incident. There was a lighthearted spring in his step, and why wouldn't there be? He and Ranma were comfortably ensconced at the Tendo Dojo, and he knew his old friend Soun would never kick them out. Especially, now that Ranma was officially engaged to marry Soun's daughter, Akane. What a perfect match, these two! Especially now that the whole Daikoku mess had been sorted out. No more other fiancees to worry about…

Had Genma been somewhat more observant, he might have noticed that there were more tangible reasons for the spring in his step. Such as the ground moving up slightly beneath each footfall.

And on each footprint-shaped protrusion, a pair of glowing eyes followed the middle-aged man as he made his way back to the dojo, whistling tunelessly.

Ukyou's spies were on the job. Anything for a meal.

Ukyou followed the footprints as they led to a sizable residence in the northern part of Nerima. It looked like the Saotomes had found themselves quite a home. Granted, the name on the shingle did say 'Tendo School of Anything-Goes Martial Arts," but who's to say they hadn't moved in with a sensei?

Ten-do… the way of the sky. Maybe it referred to an airborne combat style? It would make things a little more difficult, considering her own earthbound style, but nothing she thought she couldn't handle. After all, she was this close to her goal… why should such a little thing stand in her way now?

She chuckled as she thought about the other meaning of "Tendo", The Way of Heaven. Pity that Genma Saotome was about to be shipped to the wrong address.


To be continued.

Chapter 3
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