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All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published
by Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications.
Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Taeuchi.
A Different Viewpoint pt 24
When the alarm rang the next morning Johnathon woke at the same moment as Kasumi. He blinked, looking around in mild confusion.
Suddenly Johnathon remembered. < Oh yeah, it's not a dream. I'm married to...> He smiled gently at his wife who was looking at him with a slightly worried expression. "Kasumi-chan, good morning. I still have a few days before I have to go back to the school. Why don't I prepare breakfast and send Ranma and Akane to school." Kasumi blinked and nodded.
When Ranma and Akane came downstairs that morning they were surprised to find Johnathon in the kitchen. He was wearing one of Kasumi's aprons and making breakfast.
Johnathon smiled pleasantly at the two teenagers. "Breakfast will be ready in ten minutes. You have skipped enough school, so get ready, eh?" They nodded and went outside.
Akane had a strange look on her face. She turned to Ranma. "John-san is, acting like Kasumi."
Ranma blinked. "A little, I guess. He can cook pretty good too."
Akane looked dubious. "Yes, but don't you think it's funny?"
Ranma looked puzzled. "What?"
Akane hesitated, then shook her head. "Never mind."
Later, Johnathon put out breakfast and started making them lunches. When they finished breakfast he handed Ranma and Akane two bentos. "I'm afraid I'm not very good at putting together a normal bento. (boxed lunch) I hope sandwiches will be OK."
Ranma shrugged. "Sure."
Akane nodded. "It's fine Johnathon-san, but you don't have to go to all this trouble."
Johnathon smiled gently. "It's no trouble, little sister, we're family now, aren't we?"
Akane nodded, flashing him a bright smile. "Yes big brother, that's true."
The two teenagers went off to school and Johnathon waved to them till they were out of sight.
One whole day earlier, at the Saotome house, Nabiki awoke to an unfamiliar alarm. She rose and looked around. < Oh yeah, I'm in Auntie Saotome's room.> She quickly dressed and went to collect Ryoga. Nabiki went to the quest room where Ryoga and her father were sleeping. Nabiki knocked and waited, then slid open the door after getting no response. She noticed Mr. Saotome on the floor as well as her father. Ryoga's futon was empty, although there were signs he had been there. On a guess she walked over and checked the closet. Ryoga was there, looking around confusedly.
Nabiki tapped him on the shoulder. "Trying to find the door?"
Ryoga turned around to face her and looked sheepish. "Um, yeah."
Nabiki sighed. "Come on, follow me. I promised Akane I'd keep an eye on you, so you're coming to school with me today."
Ryoga blinked in astonishment. "School? Why do I have to go to school?"
Nabiki ignored his protests. "It's all arraigned. You'll be in Ranma and Akane's class."
Ryoga protested again. "I haven't been to school in years! How can I...?"
Nabiki raised a hand to silence the lost boy. "Akane's orders. Now do I have to get tough?"
Ryoga sighed. "Oh very well, but I must be really behind."
Nabiki nodded. "You'll be taking some placement exams at the school in a week. I'm also going to get you some tutors." She turned away. "Aunty Saotome's making breakfast, so follow me."
Without too much hassle Nabiki dropped Ryoga off at his classroom at school. "Now stay here until I come get you, or else. You got it, pig boy?"
Ryoga nodded and went into the class room. The teacher started to introduce the new student and Nabiki left for her own classroom, satisfied that he would remain till she returned. The day passed swiftly and soon lunch came around. As Nabiki headed for Ryoga's classroom she was mobbed by girls from that room.
"Nabiki, is it true that Ryoga's staying with you?" Yuri asked excitedly. The other girls started in as well, full of questions about the new student.
Nabiki put up her hand for silence. "Girls, girls, you know me better than that." They nodded and started reaching for their money. Nabiki collected several thousand yen and explained. "He's staying with our family for awhile, and no he's not married, engaged, or seeing anyone regularly." Several girls sighed.
"He's a hunk!" Yuri said, giggling.
Sayuri nodded. "Those sad eyes are so dreamy."
Nabiki grinned. < Just as I thought. This is going to be a very profitable day.> She excused herself. "OK girls, you know the rules. You can come to me for information on him, one at a time of course, at the usual place." She went over to Ryoga and handed him a boxed lunch. "Here's lunch, Yuko from class C says hello. Stay here, I'll come and get you when school's over." Ryoga nodded, and Nabiki left for her "usual" spot, to start the days business. By the time lunch was over Nabiki had gotten "tutors" for Ryoga in every subject. She had also collected a tidy profit.
As Nabiki headed back to class a boy in Ryoga's homeroom came up. He was a regular collector of Akane photos, and had run up a bit of a tab. Nabiki had been adding interest to his debt for awhile.
"How much do I owe you?" Hiroshi asked, reaching into his pocket for his wallet. "I just got some money so I can..." Nabiki's eyes had gone out of focus and she had reached down and taken off one shoe. Hiroshi looked puzzled. "Um, Nabiki?" She handed him the shoe and a second later blinked.
"What do you want?" Nabiki asked.
Hiroshi looked at her in confusion. "Um, I just wanted to know how much I owe you?" Nabiki's eyes again lost focus and she reached down to take off her other shoe. She removed it, standing on one leg to do so, then put her foot down and handed the shoe to him.
Once again Nabiki blinked after a moment. "Hiroshi, what is it?" Hiroshi looked at the two shoes he was holding in one hand and back at her. "Well?" Nabiki said impatiently.
Hiroshi shrugged. "I already told you. I wanted to know how much I owe you?" Once again Nabiki's eyes went blank. She lifted her right foot and rolled down her sock. Hiroshi watched, getting very confused. "And then you handed me your shoe..." Nabiki handed him her sock and blinked.
"Hiroshi, what is it?" She asked again, as if she had just bumped into him.
Hiroshi looked at her and then at her shoes and sock in his left hand. "Um, Nabiki, are you feeling alright?" Nabiki's eyes went blank again. She took her shoes and sock back, put them on and stood back up, then blinked.
"Hiroshi, did you want to ask me something?" Nabiki said in a perfectly normal tone of voice.
He hesitated, the last bell was starting to ring. "Um, no, gotta go!" Hiroshi ran off.
Nabiki looked after him. < What was that all about? He walks up, then just runs off without asking me anything.> She headed for her classroom, nonplused.
< What the heck is going on?> Hiroshi considered what had happened. < Is Nabiki playing a joke on me or what?> He shook his head. < It's gotta be a joke. OK, fine, I'll see how she likes it if I play along.> He thought about it for awhile. < Nabiki was acting hypnotized. Why? With Nabiki it must be money. She must know about my new job, and wants to get some money out of me. Maybe Nabiki's trying to get me into a compromising situation, and blackmail me.> Hiroshi thought about it some more. < That must be it! I'll teach her she can't do that to me, but how? She'll probably have someone hiding with a camera to catch me stealing her clothes or something. I wonder how far she was going to go?>
Hiroshi fought down a nosebleed at the image that brought up. < No! I'm not going to fall for her trap! I'll turn this against her, and I know just how.>
Later, as the last class ended, Nabiki entered Ryoga's classroom with a girl from her class. "Ryoga, this is Yuko. She's going to take you back to the Saotome's OK?
Ryoga looked confused. "Why aren't you taking me?"
Nabiki frowned. "Do I look like someone who has that much spare time to you? I'm busy! Now go." She handed him a schedule. "Your tutors will show up at the times I have listed on this. Stay at the Saotome's house till I get there and be nice to your tutors. They have all agreed to help you study for your placement exams, so behave." Ryoga nodded, and Nabiki turned and left.
Yuko smiled at Ryoga. "Shall we go?"
Ryoga nodded uncertainly. "Sure."
Outside, behind the school building, Nabiki wheeled and dealed. Her lieutenants sent the petitioners one at a time back to see her. Each one left a little poorer, or having made some kind of deal. Almost all paid up front, in cash. Hiroshi had been an exception to the rule. Nabiki almost never let the customers run up a tab, but when she had found out about Hiroshi's new job, Nabiki had decided to cut him some slack. Ranma was one of the other exceptions to her rule. Nabiki knew he was too honorable ever to welch on a debt. Most others though, it was cash up front, unless she had reason to think they could make good. A few individuals, she did have loans out to. One came up.
It was Yuki, Akane's friend. "Um, how much do I owe you Nabiki?" She asked, pulling out some bills. "It was two thousand yen right?"
Nabiki handed Yuki her shoe, then blinked. "What, Yuki? Oh yes, you came to pay me." Nabiki took the money from a confused Yuki who was staring at something in her hand. Nabiki promptly forgot Yuki's inattention and counted the money. "Hmm, two thousand. Yuki, you owe me two hundred more."
Yuki reached into her pocket and dug out the money. "Um, here." She looked at Nabiki and again at the shoe. "Um, what do you want me to do with this?"
Nabiki blinked. "Do with what?"
Yuki showed her the shoe. "This."
Nabiki blinked again. "Yuki, what are you talking about?"
Yuki peered at Nabiki who was looking slightly unfocused. "Um, Nabiki, are you feeling alright?" Nabiki took back her shoe and put it on.
The middle Tendo sister looked at Yuki and blinked again. "Is there anything else, Yuki?"
Yuki looked confused. "Um, not today, Nabiki. I'll see you later." She walked off shaking her head.
Nabiki had a few more transactions, then one of her lieutenants came over to her. "It is just Hiroshi left boss. He wants to talk to you, alone."
Nabiki nodded. "He was acting funny earlier, must be something juicy. OK, you guys can go, I'll handle Hiroshi." Nabiki's attendant walked away and spoke to Hiroshi, then turned the corner, heading for the schools front gate.
Hiroshi looked around. < No one around but Nabiki and me. I wonder where her helper is going to take the picture from?> He grinned. < Doesn't matter, because I've got Gosunkugi with a video camera in the bushes. With him taping the whole thing, I can prove Nabiki's setting me up. We can even sell the tape for a profit!> He walked confidently over to Nabiki. < She thinks she's so smart. We'll see who laughs last.>
Hiroshi reached for his wallet. "OK, Nabiki, how much do I owe you?" Nabiki's eyes went blank and she handed him her right shoe.
Nabiki blinked. "OK, Hiroshi, what do you want?"
Hiroshi looked over to the right. < Gosunkugi said his telescopic microphone would get every word. I hope it is working.> "I just wanted to know how much I owe you?" Nabiki took off her left shoe and handed it too him.
Nabiki blinked. "OK, Hiroshi, what is is it?"
He kept his face straight. "Um, how much do I owe you?"
Nabiki took off her right sock and handed it too him. "OK, Hiroshi, I'm listening."
"How much do I owe you?" Hiroshi said again slowly. Nabiki took off her left sock and gave it too him.
"What do you want?" She asked, no evidence of stress in her voice.
Hiroshi glanced over at the bushes. "Um, how much do I owe you?" Hiroshi looked back. Nabiki was calmly taking off her uniform jumper, her eyes unfocused. < She's really got this hypnosis act down.> He thought to himself. Nabiki handed it to him and he draped it over his arm. She was wearing only a blouse, probably underwear too, but she didn't appear to notice. < Wow, what control. I'm impressed.> Hiroshi nodded. "Um Nabiki, I'm just trying to ask you how how much I owe you, nothing else." < Here it comes.> He thought as she began unbuttoning her blouse. < Her helper gets the photo, and bang, instant blackmail.> Nabiki finished unbuttoning her blouse and handed it too him.
She blinked and looked slightly confused. "What's wrong, Hiroshi? You look a little pale." Hiroshi's eyes were wide. Nabiki stood clad in only a white bra and panties. In the bushes, Gosunkugi stuffed kleenex into his nose and valiantly kept filming despite the blood loss. Nabiki frowned a bit. < What's up with Hiroshi? He's acting really strange.> "Hiroshi, what were you trying to say?"
Hiroshi gulped. < How far is she going to go with this?> He closed his eyes and coughed. "Ehem, I was simply asking how much do I owe you?" He peeked at her and turned his back. < She's taking it off!> Nabiki placed her bra on his right shoulder.
From behind him he could hear her voice. "Huh? Hiroshi, what's with you today?"
Hiroshi turned around and looked. < Nabiki, looks...> He was mesmerized by her naked breasts. With an effort he focused on her face. She looked slightly out of focus.
"Hiroshi, what's wrong with you? Are you feeling alright?" Nabiki's eyes glazed over at her own words. She reached over to him and started taking her clothing back. Efficiently, Nabiki dressed, all the while her gaze was somewhere else.
Hiroshi watched wide eyed. < No way, it has to be a scam. No way.> Nabiki finished dressing, faced him, and blinked.
Nabiki's eyes were now clear and focused. "OK, Hiroshi, what did you want to ask me?"
Hiroshi boggled at her. "N-never mind Nabiki. Um, here's five thousand yen." He handed her the money.
Nabiki took four thousand and handed back the rest. "Was that all?"
Hiroshi nodded quickly. "Yup, bye." He ran off. < No way, no way!> Hiroshi shook his head. < Tomorrow she's going to blackmail me for everything I've got. That's all it is. She just really wants to make sure she's got me in a bind, that's all.> He quickly went to meet up with Gosunkugi. The thin wannabe sorcerer was waiting for him, camera in hand, panting and looking even whiter than usual. "Did you get it?" Hiroshi asked anxiously.
Gosunkugi nodded. "Every last second."
Hiroshi shook his head. "I just can't believe it. She went that far for just some blackmail."
Gosunkugi's eyes narrowed. "I'm not so sure..."
Hiroshi looked at him. "What do you mean? It was just a scam, right?"
Gosunkugi blinked. "Oh yes, of course. It was just a scam."
Hiroshi shook his head again. "Sheesh. You better have gotten the whole thing."
Gosunkugi nodded. "Naturally. You'll want a copy of course?"
Hiroshi nodded eagerly. "Oh yeah! Make me two! Think about all the money we can make with this!"
Gosunkugi frowned thoughtfully at this. "Yes, all the money..." He turned and started for his house. "Come. I can make copies at home." Hiroshi followed him. Gosunkugi was lost in thought. < That was no scam. Nabiki Tendo has been hypnotized for real.> As they walked along Gosunkugi pondered. < But why, and my whom?> A sly grin slowly emerged. < And how? If I could learn the secret, I'd be able to do whatever I wished!> At Gosunkugi's house they closed the door to his room tight and watched the video while Gosunkugi copied it. They watched it through again for the second copy and then a third time so Gosunkugi would have two copies as well.
On the third viewing Hiroshi sat back. "Wow, Nabiki is a babe! Who knew she was that good looking under that ice queen exterior." He looked over at Gosunkugi. "Great camera work man. So, where do you think Nabiki's helper was hiding?"
Gosunkugi looked confused. "What?"
Hiroshi shook his head. "The camera, for the blackmail, dummy. Did you see anyone?"
Gosunkugi shrugged. "No."
Hiroshi shook his head again. "I still can't believe she went so far. She never broke the act. I've been thinking. I bet Nabiki was just trying to keep me from figuring out the blackmail plot till it's ready. That way I couldn't interfere until it was too late. Ha, I bet she didn't expect me to keep going and covered by pretending to use the phrase she pretended made her get dressed."
Gosunkugi politely nodded. "Yes, of course." < You ignorant fool.> "My parents will be expecting me for dinner. You should get going."
Hiroshi nodded. "Sure. Hey, don't show those to anyone yet. Let's wait till Nabiki trys to blackmail me, then we'll get her, OK?"
Gosunkugi nodded absently. "Right, no problem." Hiroshi left and Gosunkugi went back to plotting. < Now how can I find out how it was done?>
As Ranma and Akane walked to school that day, they spotted Ryoga and Nabiki heading into the building just as they got in sight of the school.
Akane sighed. "We're going to have to tell them you know."
Ranma nodded. "Man, I can't believe it's only been one day. I bet nothing at all happened to everyone else. They probably have no clue anything happened to us."
As they entered the school, Ranma and Akane were mobbed by classmates. They all wanted to know if they were married yet or not, and why their wedding had been canceled yet again. Uncomfortable as it was, Ranma and Akane had been in this situation before. They evaded most questions, and didn't respond to the more outrageous ones. When the teacher arrived everyone quieted down, not wanting to risk Ms. Hinako's wrath.
Ryoga breathed a sigh of relief as class got started. < I'm glad I don't have to go through that sort of thing.> Ranma caught his eye and gave him a look of long suffering. Ryoga shrugged. < Like I care if Ranma has to suffer a bit. So what? He deserves it after all.> Ryoga watched as Ranma glanced at Akane, who shared a long look with him. Ryoga sighed to himself. < After all he's put her through she still loves him. Akane deserves better than a jerk like Ranma.> Ryoga sighed again and was surprised to hear a faint sigh echo his. Ryoga looked over. < Ukyo? Oh yeah, and she doesn't know what's been happening in the last couple days... Maybe I should tell her.> Ryoga debated internally until Ms. Hinako called his attention back to the lesson. Ryoga snapped to attention and focused on the class. < Akane wants me to do this, so I'll try my best.>
Ukyo also paid attention to the class, forcing herself to ignore the questions about Ranma and Akane's wedding. < They love each other right? So forget it Ukyo Kuonji. Get on with your life?> She frowned. < But what happened to the wedding? Johnathon asked me to come, but it was canceled.> During lunch break Ukyo decided to finally just give up fighting the urge and ask what happened. Nabiki was mobbed as usual, mostly by people who wanted the same information she wanted. Ukyo considered asking Ranma or Akane but just didn't feel up to facing them. She spotted Ryoga then, mobbed by girls and looking like he was wanting to escape. < Might as well take pity on the poor guy.>
Pushing her way to his side by main strength, Ukyo grabbed Ryoga's arm. "Hey Ryoga, come here. I want to talk to you." Ukyo dragged Ryoga from the mass of girls who started to protest angrily. Ukyo shot them a look of warning. "You can talk to Ryoga later!" They backed off, momentarily cowed, and Ukyo dragged the unresisting lost boy away and around a few corners. When they had some privacy she let go of him, suddenly conscious of having been holding his hand. Ukyo looked at Ryoga and shrugged. "I noticed you were a bit mobbed."
Ryoga shrugged back. "Um, yeah, thanks. You wanted to talk to me?"
Ukyo nodded. "Actually yes. What happened to the wedding yesterday?"
Ryoga sighed. "This is a complex story."
Ukyo looked at him impatiently. "So tell it."
Ryoga nodded. "Well, it all began when Cologne returned from China, two days early..." Ukyo looked more and more stunned as Ryoga told her of the events of the night two days before.
Ukyo swallowed. "So that's why... Shampoo will be killed or even cursed to be a cat forever, if she returns without Ranma? And Kasumi's been affected by the Cat's Tongue?
Ryoga nodded sadly, then growled in anger. "This is all Ranma's fault. He could just marry Shampoo and save her and Kasumi!"
Ukyo shook her head. "He would. He still may do so if no other solution is found, but... but it wouldn't be right."
Ryoga frowned. "Why do you say that?"
Ukyo nearly screamed at him. "Don't you already know? Can't you figure it out?"
Ryoga looked away. "Yes..." < I know, we've both known for awhile.>
Ukyo looked at his back. "Ranma and Akane..." She faltered.
Ryoga nodded, still facing away from her. "They love each other. Even Shampoo has figured it out. Shampoo loves him too. She'd sacrifice her own life just so he'd be happy."
Ukyo shook her head again. "No. It won't come down to that. Ranma won't let her..." Ukyo choked, momentarily unable to speak. < This can't be happening! I find out that Ranma really loves Akane, that he doesn't love me. So then, after I give him up, so he can be happy, this happens.> She looked at Ryoga's back. "Why are you helping them against Cologne? If Ranma marries Shampoo, you could have Akane to yourself."
Ryoga turned back to face her with a snarl. "Akane will never love me! Losing Ranma will hurt her, and I can't see her hurt!"
Ukyo nodded sadly. "I'm sorry Ryoga, it wasn't right for me to say that."
Ryoga sighed, helplessly. "It's... alright, Ukyo. What are you going to do?"
Ukyo paused. < I should just leave well enough alone. There is nothing for me to gain here. Ranma loves Akane. He may end up being forced to marry Shampoo to save her, but not me. I couldn't do that to him. I still... care about him.> Ryoga looked at her, patiently waiting for an answer. Ukyo sighed. "What Cologne has done isn't right, Ryoga. She's only given Ranma two choices and neither one will make him happy. Johnathon is right, there has to be another way." Ukyo paused then looked determined. "We've got to help, this is too important to ignore. I can't just sit back and watch, I've got to help... If I can."
Ryoga nodded. "I thought you would say that, Ukyo"
The okonomiyaki chef looked crossways at him. "OK, why is that?"
Ryoga stammered. "Because you... you're a good person, Ukyo... I always thought so."
Ukyo smiled gently. "Thanks, Ryoga, you're a pretty good guy yourself."
Ryoga blushed and fiddled with his fingers. "Um, uh, OK, well..."
Ukyo smiled wryly. < Same old Ryoga.> "Come on sugar, we'd better get back to class. The bell has already rung." She grabbed his hand and dragged him toward the classroom, suddenly not minding the chore, but feeling very conscious of her hand around his.
During lunch, Nabiki had put off all other business to deal with requests for information on Ranma and Akane's aborted wedding. Unknown to her, two students watched her quietly, for reasons of their own.
Hiroshi was nervous, he kept expecting Nabiki to strike. < Any time now she'll hit me up for her blackmail. Nabiki will flash me an incriminating photo, and immediately demand payment.> He sweated. < The suspense is killing me! What is she waiting for?> Hiroshi forced himself to remain relatively calm. < Nabiki is probably just waiting to catch me alone.> He thought about it for awhile. < OK, alright, I'll pick the time and place, and have my evidence ready. Nabiki will never expect me to blackmail her instead!> Hiroshi nodded triumphantly and went to class.
Gosunkugi was watching Nabiki from a different direction. His thoughts were much different. < Who hypnotized Nabiki, and why? If I can find out who, I might be able to fine out how they did it. With that secret, I can have my dreams come true.> Gosunkugi smiled to himself. < But how to find out who did it?> His brow furrowed in thought. < Think, come on, think! There has to be a clue... Nabiki was hypnotized to strip when...> Gosunkugi slapped himself in the forehead. < Why didn't I realize this sooner. The hypnotism itself points to the person who did it. Who else would program Nabiki to strip on command? Who else had the opportunity to do so and the knowledge required.> Gosunkugi shook his head. < It was so obvious when I think about it. The only possible suspect is the Master of the Anything Goes school of martial arts, Happosai.>
Gosunkugi only had to consider a moment to figure out where to look for the old letch. < But how can I get him to teach me the secret?> That was a tough one. Gosunkugi was no martial artist, and was pretty sure the old man wouldn't take him in as a student. Gosunkugi sighed. < Now what? I know who, and why, but how do I find out how?> Gosunkugi shrugged helplessly. < There is no way I can watch the old letch without him noticing...> Gosunkugi's eyes went wide. < Of course! That's how I'll do it!>
Gosunkugi started to plan. < OK, I have a miniature microphone I can use. So, I have to drop it off where Happosai is sure to find it and pick it up. All I need is the bait to attach it to.> Gosunkugi frowned. < Now where can I find some women's underware?> The bell rang, signaling the end of lunch and Gosunkugi watched Nabiki walk by on her way to class. < Oh yeah, that would work.>
End pt 24
I hope you liked it! C&C is always welcome!