American Vacation Chapter 14

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: American Vacation: Chapter 14

    Akane stared out into the rain and sighed.  They had set up three small tents around the cold fire pit.  Ranma's, Michael's, and Johnathon's.  They hadn't really discussed sleeping arraignments, but Akane had figured on spending the night in Ranma's tent.  But with Ranma, and not Johnathon's twin bother, Michael.  It was pretty much assumed that Johnathon and Kasumi would be staying in Johnathon's tent, which was the largest of the three. Michael's tent was the smallest, and he had stuffed most of the extra gear in it before taking her out panning for gold.  The fire had been out for hours, since before they had gone out for that afternoon, and Michael and Akane were waiting out the storm in Ranma's tent, which had been the closest and emptiest of the three when they had rushed back into camp.  Now they were waiting for the rain to stop, and for Johnathon, Kasumi, and Ranma to get back.

    < Only they won't be coming back.>  Akane reasoned.  < At least not while it's still raining.  Actually, with the fire out, I don't know how they plan on getting changed back to normal.  Ranma needs hot water for sure, and I wouldn't be surprised if John-san and big sister got caught out in the rain as well.  It did come on pretty suddenly.>  Akane frowned to herself.    < But how can I help them?  I don't have any hot water, and unless I could somehow start the fire in the rain, there won't be any for awhile.  Michael's just waiting now, but how long will it be until he gets suspicious?>

    Michael sat impatiently, watching Akane's back as she looked out at the rain.  < What in the world could be taking them so long?  I would have thought that the rain would have brought them running? Unless....>  Michael nodded to himself.  < They could have found some shelter when the rain started and....>  A picture of Kasumi, sitting in her underwear in a cabin somewhere, while her clothing dried over a fire, came unbidden to his mind.  Michael shook his head to get the image out of his mind, but more images of the tall, beautiful woman came instead, ones where she wore even less, or nothing at all.  < Michael
pinched himself.  < Damn!  I have got to get her out of my head!>  Instead, Michael diverted himself by picturing the cute red head from the stream in various states of undress.  < Now she was really hot.  I wonder if she's camping nearby?>

        ******************************

    Ranma sneezed again.  "Achhoo!"  She glanced out at the campsite, not a dozen yards away for the hundredth time in the last half hour. "Damn it."  She swore quietly.  "I'm going to catch a cold like this. Akane and Michael-san are just sitting there.  How am I going to get into camp and change without them seeing me?"  Ranma frowned and picked up the thermos she had filled a few hours ago.  It was mildly warm on the outside still, but she twisted the top open to make sure.  Steam no longer
rose from the contents, and Ranma dipped a finger into the thermos. "Barely hot enough.  Another few minutes of waiting though...."  Ranma sighed and closed the thermos, sitting back against the tree again. "But what good is it going to do me if the rain doesn't stop first?" Ranma fingered the collar of her red chinese shirt.  She had changed back into her normal clothing after grabbing the thermos from camp, but it wouldn't do any good to her soaking wet in the rain. "I'll just wait a little longer.  The rain should stop any time now."

        *************************************

    Deeper in the woods, Johnathon Dwire was busily collecting wood. "We'll just make another fire when the rain stops, Kasumi-chan, and then you can go get Akane to bring us some water."  He rolled his eyes. "This will teach me not to carry my umbrella all the time, eh?"  Kasumi meowed encouragement as she jumped between patches of dryer ground, avoiding
puddles as she followed her husband.  (His shoulder being a bit too precarious to ride when he was constantly bending to collect firewood.)  After several minutes of searching, Johnathon found a relatively dry spot to set up his fire, underneath a shallow overhang that kept most of the rain off that spot.  He set his firewood down and started working on building a firepit.

    Kasumi slipped into the dry spot and lay down, watching her husband work.  Using his claws, Johnathon gouged out a hollow in the short piece of log he had picked up, then he started working on making some tinder out of the smaller pieces of wood.  Before long he had a good bunch of almost dry tinder, which would catch easily with just a little encouragement.

    "Now all we need is a bow."  Johnathon told Kasumi matter-of-factly.  He went through the firewood he had collected and
pulled out a curved branch around two feet in length.  "This will do... but we need some twine, or rope...."  He blinked, then started untying the bundle of clothing that he had wrapped around his waist to leave his hands free. "Let me see...."  Johnathon pulled out his shoes, and started undoing the laces.  "I can't wear these things until I transform back, anyway." Before long he had two laces, which he tied together to one longer cord.  Then he tied the two ends to the separate ends of the curved branch, leaving just a little bit of slack.

   Kasumi meowed interrogatively and Johnathon glanced at her.  "This is a firebow, Kasumi-chan.  I didn't spend twelve years as a boy scout for nothing, you know."  He grinned.  "Let me show you."  The tall half cat found a sturdy looking branch a few inches longer than a foot and stripped all the excess branches off of it.  That done, he made a loop in the middle of the string attached to his improvised bow, and slipped the branch through the loop.  Then he placed one end of the shorter stick in the hollow he had made in the log, and grabbed the top lightly in his free hand while slowly pulling the bow left and right.  The
shorter stick rotated in place in the hollow, and Johnathon nodded, then frowned.  "I almost forgot something."

    He started glancing around.  "I need something to hold the free end of the stick with, that will let it rotate while holding it in one place....  But what can I use...?"  Kasumi looked thoughtful, then got up, and started running off.  She stopped and  meowed once, as if waiting for him to follow.  Johnathon stood up and followed.  "What is it?  Do you have something in
mind?"  Kasumi nodded and ran off again.  Before long they came to the edge of the stream, and Kasumi pointed at a palm sized rock that was just out of the water.  Johnathon picked it up, noting that it had a hollow in one side that looked like it might work. "Hey, this is great, Kasumi!  You've got a really good memory!"  He picked her up and ran them both back to the
overhang.

    Johnathon picked up the bow, set the branch in place, and put the rock "cap" on top.  He pushed down just a bit, then started to saw the bow back and forth, from side to side, causing the branch to rotate in place.  Picking up speed as he gained confidence, Johnathon soon was sawing away vigorously.  Kasumi waited patiently, watching the hollow in the log for some sign of heat.  For a long time there was nothing, but then, slowly smoke started to curl up, and the end of the branch and the
hollow it was in started to heat from the friction.  Seeing the smoke, Johnathon became even more energetic in his sawing, until there was a slight puff of barely visible flame.

    "Now!"  Johnathon dropped the bow and grabbed a handful of tinder, mostly tiny broken off shavings of dry wood from one end of the log, combined with a some dry leaves he had gotten from under a fallen tree. The tinder smoked, then caught, and Johnathon set it quickly but carefully in the spot he had prepared, then started feeding his tiny fire slowly from his pile of tinder.  Slowly, carefully, he let the fire build.  Suddenly, the wind changed direction, and the minuscule fire seemed to die.  Johnathon immediately shifted his body between the wind and the flames and tried to coax it back to life.  Slowly but surely he brought it back to crackling away, even as his pile of tinder grew smaller and smaller. Finally, Johnathon started putting larger and larger pieces of wood on the fire, until it was burning merrily, indifferent now to the wind.

    He sat back, sighing with relief.  "Whew.  It has been awhile since I've done that.  It's never easy, especially when its raining." Johnathon looked up, noticing a change.  "Oh... right, and now it stops raining.  Of course."

        *************************************

    Ranma stood up, glancing at the sky, looking for any sign that the rain might suddenly begin again.  "Looks like the coast is clear.  Now all I have to do is change back to a guy!"  Ranma opened the thermos and dumped the contents over her head.  The red haired girl glanced down at her still prominent chest and sighed.   "Waited too long, I guess.  Now what?"  Ranma
glanced back at the camp, then shrugged.  "Might as well go back as a girl."  She nodded, inspiration striking.  "Sure!  I'll just act casual, and say I'm just passing through....  Then when they get a fire started, I'll heat up some water, sneak off, and change back into a guy."  Ranma nodded happily.  "I'll just stash my guy clothes out here."

    Ranma started to strip off her chinese clothes quickly, tossing them up on a nearby tree branch, and picked up her "girl" outfit.  She was about to pull the shirt on when she heard a branch snap a a half dozen yards behind her, then a sharp intake of breath.  Ranma turned around, to see a shocked looking Michael, and an exasperated looking Akane.

    ****************************************

    *A few moments ago, at the camp.*

    Michael ducked his head as he left the tent.  "The rain has finally stopped, Akane.  I think we should go look for the others.  What do you think?"

    Akane shrugged noncommittally.  < Actually, they will probably be better off if we don't find them.>  "Well, if you think so...."

    Michael nodded.  "Yeah, I'll go looking, you wait here in case they come back."  He started striding off purposely.

    Akane blinked, then ran after him.  "Um... no, Michael-san.  I'll go with you...."

    They hadn't gotten very far when Michael spotted movement in a stand of trees, and started hurrying in that direction.  Akane went after him, and they both noticed a certain red head, wearing nothing but a pair of boxers, with her back to them, and about to put on a shirt.  The girl turned around, giving Michael an excellent view of her "assets", before hastily pulling her
shirt over her head and down to her waist.

    Ranma gulped.  "Um... hello?"

    Michael turned his back, blushing slightly.  "Hello... again.  I'm sorry... I didn't mean too...."

    Ranma took the opportunity to finish dressing in his "girl" outfit before answering.  "No worry about it.  It no big deal.  I just am drying off from rain."

   Michael glanced back around, and noted that the girl was dressed again.  "That shower was a bit of a surprise, wasn't it.  I don't suppose you've seen anyone else out here in the woods recently?  There would be three of them, a man who looks like me, a woman with long hair, and a guy about so tall...."  Michael held up his hand.  "With a pigtail?"  Michael glanced around.  "You haven't seen anyone around... like... that...?"

    Ranma shook her head, not noticing Michael's widening eyes and paling expression.  "No, I not seen anyone like that."  She blinked as Michael started walking over toward the tree behind her, and spun around, noticing his gaze was fixed on her... his, Chinese clothing, quite obviously hanging up for all to see.  She panicked, waving her hands from side to side.  "Um... no!  It not what it look like!  I not do anything with Ranma, I never see him... I mean...."

    Akane slapped her forehead with the palm of her hand.  < Ranma you idiot.>

    Michael looked at the clothes on the branch, then at the red head dubiously.  "So... you haven't seen... Ranma.  How did you know his name, anyway?"  He glanced back at Akane, suddenly remembering her.  "Uh oh."

    Akane noticed the look and decided to go with it, letting years of blinding rages against the various other women in Ranma's life rise to the surface.  "Michael... why don't you go back to camp.  I want to talk to "Hitomi" alone."  The menace in her voice, not to mention the slowly growing battle aura, was enough encouragement for Michael to decide to leave well enough alone.

    "Um... yeah... I'll just... be back at the camp... right...." Michael hurried off, casting a few worried glances over his shoulder as he left quickly, fighting the urge to break into a run.  < I'll just... listen for screams... just in case.>

    Akane walked up to Ranma, letting her battle aura drop. "Ranma...."  She said tiredly.  "Why did you do it?  Why go and pretend to be a girl?"

    Ranma hesitated, then noticed Akane's growing impatience.  "Well... I kinda... I wanted to be spending time with you on this trip... John-san and Kasumi don't need me hanging around, anyway."  She grinned wryly. "I almost pulled it off too, didn't I?  Michael doesn't have a clue it was me, and it was fun, wasn't it?"

    Akane surrendered with a sigh.  "OK, I admit I wasn't unhappy to have you around... but now what are we supposed to do?  Michael probably thinks something was going on between you and... you.  How am I supposed to just pretend nothing happened?"

    Ranma looked confused.  "But nothing did happen, so it's OK, right?"

    Akane rolled her eyes.  "And how are you going to prove it?  I know there is no "Hitomi Hibiki", but Michael doesn't, and this...."  She waved a hand at Ranma's chinese outfit.  "Looks pretty bad."

    Ranma frowned, and looked thoughtful.  "Um...."  Half a minute later she blinked and shook her head.  "OK, how am I going to prove it?"

    Akane growled and was about to see if a good right hook would help the pig tailed girl think more clearly, when a clear meow coming from her right stopped her.  "Kasumi?"  Akane turned to look, and indeed, a small black cat ran easily up to her and Ranma.  Akane decided to postpone knocking sense into her fiancee, and instead crouched down in front of her older sister.  "Where is Johnathon?  Did you both get wet?"  Kasumi nodded, meowing in an affirmative tone, then pointed into
the woods, back the way she had come.  Akane nodded.  "You need some hot water, right?  I'll just go back to camp, and we'll get a fire going...."  She paused, as Kasumi had shook her head and started walking toward Ranma.

    "What?"  Ranma asked in puzzlement.  "You don't need hot water?" Kasumi shook her head and walked over to the tree Ranma had been waiting underneath.  At its base, forgotten, was the shallow pot that Ranma had been using to pan for gold earlier.  She took it's handle in her mouth and gave it a tug, then let go and looked expectantly at Ranma.  The red head blinked.  "You want the pot?"  Kasumi nodded, and motioned her head toward the woods.  Ranma hesitated.  "You want me to follow you... with the pot?"

    Kasumi nodded emphatically, and Ranma picked up the pot.  "Johnathon must have something in mind.  I guess I can play along."

    Akane walked up to her older sister.  "So... do you want me to get some hot water, or...?"  Kasumi looked up at her and hesitated, then shook her head.  Akane blinked once, then nodded.  "Alright, I guess I can trust you, Sis.  Should I come with you, or go back and wait at the camp with Michael?"  Kasumi looked thoughtful, then pointed toward their camp, meowed, then patted the ground once.  Akane imitated the gesture, trying to figure out the meaning.  "OK, I should go back to camp
and...."  She patted the ground.   "Stay?  I should wait there?"  Kasumi nodded, meowing an affirmative.  Akane looked pleased.  "You know, Sis, I think I'm almost starting to know how to speak cat."  Kasumi sniffed in silent laughter, and Akane stood up.  "OK, I'll go make sure Michael stays put, you two get going."

    Ranma nodded, and gestured to Kasumi.  "Lead the way, Kasumi-san." Kasumi pointedly looked up at Ranma's Chinese clothes, still on the branch, and Ranma glanced back.  "Oh yeah... almost forgot."

    Akane sighed to herself, and headed back to camp, and Ranma followed Kasumi into the woods.  Before too long, Ranma noticed the smoke from a fire in the distance, and picked up Kasumi so she could run the rest of the way.  When he arrived at the fire, it was deserted, but a few seconds later, Johnathon Dwire came out from behind some nearby bushes. The black furred half-cat's fur was a bit damp, but he grinned as he walked up to them.

    "Ranma, so you got caught out too.  Is that a pot?  Great, there's a stream a hundred yards that way."  Johnathon pointed.  "I'll keep the fire going, you go get some water so we can all change back."

    Ranma nodded, setting down Kasumi and grinning.  "That sounds like a plan, Johnathon-san!  How did you get a fire started anyway?"

    Johnathon shrugged.  "It wasn't too hard.  I'll show you later."

    Ranma nodded and started off for the stream. "OK, I'll be right back!"

        *******************************

    The three Jusenkyo cursed companions managed to return to camp without further incident and the rest of the afternoon and evening went by peacefully enough.

    Michael choose not to say anything to Ranma about the incident, although the whole situation had bothered him somehow.  As he and Johnathon fixed supper, a favorite camping dish called Hobo Stew, he pondered the situation, but came to no conclusion.  < What happened out there, anyway?  Akane was furious... I'm pretty sure, but now... she's almost calm.>  He shrugged.  < It must be my imagination.>

    Kasumi hovered over the twins, wanting to help, but they insisted on cooking themselves.  The 'hobo stew' looked rather questionable, but tasted wonderful.  Everyone had second (and in Ranma's case third and forth) helpings, until the large pot they had used for the slightly misnamed 'stew' was empty.

    As the sun set, everyone retired to their tents, one by one. Michael had wondered a bit about the sleeping arrangements, but waited to see where everyone else was going to go before saying anything. Johnathon and Kasumi had gone to their tent first, leaving him, Ranma and Akane sitting by the fire.  Several long minutes passed, and Ranma and Akane exchanged several long glances, looking almost shyly at each other.  Several more long minutes passed, and the two younger teens were starting to blush when Akane finally seemed to make up her mind and started for Ranma's tent.  She got to the door, and shot Ranma an
expectant glance.  Ranma gulped, and followed her inside.

    Michael blinked, then shrugged.  < Well, they are engaged, after all.>  He frowned in puzzlement.  < But wasn't Akane furious with Ranma?  Why would they...?>  He sighed softly, shaking his head, gathered his own sleeping bag, and went inside his tiny pup tent to get some sleep himself.  < I guess she's the forgiving sort....>

        ************************

    The morning dawned bright and clear, and Ranma was roused to the smell of eggs frying.  "Oh yeah!"  He enthused in a loud whisper. "Breakfast!"  He started to get up and noticed the warm body lying against him, one leg draped over his own, an arm wrapped loosely around his waist.  A face, framed by short dark blue/black hair looked up at his with a gentle smile.

    "Good morning."  Akane stretched slowly, causing her lithe body to move in very interesting ways along Ranma's.  "Sleep well?"

    Ranma swallowed... hard, and fought down the feelings that were making his entire body very much awake.  "Oh... um... actually, yeah... I did."  He grinned slightly.  "At least, I did when we actually started 'sleeping'."

    Akane blushed slightly and chewed on her lip.  "Mm hmm."  She paused.  "So... I guess Kasumi is making breakfast... so...."

    Ranma blinked.  "Oh yeah!"  He shot out of the bed and started pulling his clothes on in a rush.  Before Akane could protest, he was gone, heading for the nearest source of food like a starving man.

    Akane growled, sitting up and holding the blankets to her chest. "He could at least have hesitated for a second!"  She rolled her eyes. "Oh well.  I suppose he is his father's son."

    The morning flew by, and before long, everyone was packing up to head back to civilization.  They reached the Dwires' home in time for a late lunch, and Michael said his good-byes.

    The younger of the two Dwire twins headed to his apartment, his head still filled with confusion from all the unexplained events he had witnessed.  "What was going on with them?"  Michael wondered out loud. "I don't know why, but I would swear they're keeping something from me. All of them... even John.  Why?  What kind of secret could they be hiding?"   He considered the snippets of conversation he had overheard. "I wonder if that forest of Ryogensawa is part of the secret John's
keeping.  It's hard to believe squirrels could grow in proportion to the redwoods."  Mike paused in reflection.  "I never did let
John in on my surprise."  Mike mused.  "I was going to let him know how well my Japanese is coming, but since he lied to me
that first day...."  Mike sighed.  I guess I've been lying to him as well, but I was hoping they would let something slip if they didn't think I understood Japanese very well."

    Michael turned on his computer and logged on to the internet to download his email right after he walked in his front door.  "Maybe the "Ice Queen" will have some information for me?"

        *******************************

    Nabiki went through her e-mail.  < Hmm, Spam, Spam, Message from Nayko, Spam, I may have won 6 million yen, Message from M.A.D. More Spam....  Huh.  I wonder what M.A.D. wants?  Another stock buy?>  Nabiki clicked on the message.

        *  *  *  *  *  *

        Subject: More Info?
           Date: Sun, 8 Aug 199* 10:32:22 -0700
           From: <M.A.D.@cal.net>
           To: <IceQueen@infomail.com>

    Hiya YenLady.  Stocks look good. Any news on the Mitushara Co. Lawsuit?  If it looks like it will go forward, I think I'll buy a few shares.

    Need more information on J. Dwire.  Can you find out where he was up to 2 months ago?  Some records may be under Tendo Johnathon.  Reply to M.A.D.@zippedmail.net

    Also, looking to come out your way, can you find me a place to stay in town?

        *  *  *  *  *  *

    Nabiki blinked.  < Huh?  More information?  When did he ask about him?>  Nabiki went back though her old e-mail.         < Hmm.>  Mostly information queries about local companies, his requests for her brokerage went back over a year.  Interspersed in the money matters, were a few information queries about Johnathon Dwire.  < I didn't think it was important at the time, he was just some guy who daddy was training.... I had no idea he would end up marrying my sister, at the time....>  Nabiki looked back at her responses.  < I told him when John went to China. Who is this guy?>  She frowned.  < Seems like I've helped him make a fair amount on the Japanese market this year... but why the interest in John-san?>  She quickly scanned through the old messages.  < He's an old friend hmm?  How does he know John's back though?>  She thought about it.  < While Johnathon and Kasumi are in America, he wants to come out here?  Why?>  She considered her options before sending back a reply.>

        *  *  *  *  *  *

    Subject: RE: More Info?
        Date: Mon, 9 Aug 199* 1:32:22 +0900
        From: <IceQueen@infomail.com>
        To: <M.A.D.@cal.net>

    The Mitshara Lawsuit is likely to be settled shortly.  I don't recommend buying their stock at this time.

    Johnathon Tendo recently returned from China, and is on a trip with his new wife.  I can't tell you any more than that.

    I'll look around for a place, how long do you plan to be in town?

            *  *  *  *  *  *

    Nabiki sat back, thinking.  "I have to find out more about this guy.  If  he's really a friend of Johnathon's or not.  I guess I could put him somewhere nearby, so I can keep an eye on him."  Nabiki looked thoughtful.  "I think I know just who I can use."

        *****************************

   Luna returned to Mamoru Chiba's house after a long day of princess watching.  As usual, he'd left the kitchen window open for her, and she slipped inside easily.  As she landed lightly on the countertop next to the sink, she heard voices in the living room.  Luna froze and listened intently.  < It's Mamoru and some other young man... Oh yes, I forgot he said he would be studying for those summer cram courses he's taking tonight.  I had better not disturb them.>  This thought in mind she
jumped to the floor... right into the mop bucket Mamoru had left there in his rush to tidy his apartment earlier.

    Mamoru and Yusaku looked up and the odd noises.  Mamoru tried to ignore the splash and muffled scream, but Yusaku looked up startled.

    "I thought you were alone tonight, Mamoru." Yusaku said, glancing at the kitchen.

    Mamoru tried to play it down.  "I am.  I'm sure it's nothing.  Maybe my... cat got into the kitchen.  Now what were you saying about problem 32?"

    Yusaku frowned but turned back to the problem at hand.  He was uncertain what the sound had been, but that hadn't sounded much like a cat.  Still, Mamoru didn't seem worried about it.  Then he heard the faint sound of running water from the kitchen.  He glanced up at his study partner, but Mamoru didn't appear to hear it.  "Um, Buddy... cat's don't use faucets."  He rose swiftly.  "Someone's in the kitchen."

    Mamoru rose swiftly after Yusaku, who was heading in the direction of the sound.  "Wait..."  But it was far too late.  As Yusaku got to the open entry to the kitchen his eyes widened hugely.

    He turned away from the kitchen bowing rapidly.  "Oh my god.  I'm sorry, Miss, sorry I didn't mean to intrude!  I'll just be going, ever so sorry."  He hurried to the door, opened it and existed, only pausing to give Mamoru an amused glance that seemed to say.  'You lucky Dog!'

    Mamoru rubbed his face as he glanced into the kitchen where a red faced human Luna was still holding her hand under the sink.  "The hot waters not working."  She complained mildly, still blushing.

    Mamoru came into the kitchen, looking anywhere but her.  He spotted a apron and handed it to her, then reached past her to check the water pouring out of the sink.  It was luke warm, and didn't seem to be getting any hotter.  He shook his head and glanced towards the hallway door.  He could still hear Yusaku's rapid fire apologies as his next door neighbor retreated back to his own apartment.

    He shook his head.  "Nothing ever went wrong with the hot water before you came here, Luna."

    She sighed.  "I'm sorry.  I hope your friend didn't get the wrong impression."

    Mamoru sighed as well.  "No... well, at least he won't be asking me to set you up with him anymore."

    Luna blinked.  "Set me up?  What, you don't mean..."

    Mamoru nodded.  "Well, he often does his laundry at the same time as me, so..."

    Luna was still looking at him, confusion evident on her face, and he tried to determine if he should explain further.  "Well...",  He said finally, "He was impressed by your measurements, and he asked if you were available."

    Luna still didn't get it.  "My measurements?  Available for what?"

    Mamoru sighed louder.  "He wanted to date you Luna, understand?"

    Finally she seemed to.  "Date me?  Because of these?"  She gestured at the 'measurements' in question, barely adequately covered by the apron.

    He nodded.

    She scowled.  "Why, what a cheeky young man."  She glared at Mamoru.  "I do hope he's not representative of the people you associate with."

    Mamoru frowned back at her.  "No, he's just a classmate.  He just happens to also live next door."  He shrugged.  "I don't have a lot of friends my own age you know, Luna."

    She nodded, mollified.

    He nodded at her.  "Look, why don't you go ahead and turn on the news, while I heat you up a kettle."

    Luna nodded, eyes brightening, and walked past him into the living room.  Mamoru couldn't help glancing at her shapely backside, but got his mind on the task at hand.  He filled a tea kettle from the still flowing faucet, then turned it off.  As he turned on the stove, he could hear the television.  He debated going out to watch, but decided to wait for the tea kettle to boil. < Besides, what would I be watching... the news, or Luna?  It's not right for a cat to be so....>  He abruptly halted the thought,
running some of the calculus equations he had been studying through his head instead.

    Out the living room, Luna was enjoying one of her new favorite pastimes, TV news.  It was time for the 7 o'clock news, and she watched the highlights.  When the commercial came on she muted the tv.  "There's been another Sailor V sighting Mamoru-san!"  She shouted back to the kitchen.  She muttered to herself.  "Every time things get a little boring...."  The
commercials ended, and she flicked the sound back on.  The first story didn't interest her, and she was about to see what was on CNN when the phone rang.

    She let it ring twice before Mamoru called out.  "Go ahead andanswer it, Luna.  It's probably one of the girls."

    She nodded.  < Right, who else would have his number?>  She lifted the receiver on the third ring.  "Hello?"

    A voice on the other end, (a youngish girls voice.) said, "Oh excuse me, is this the residence of Mamoru Chiba?"

    Luna answered.  "Oh, yes it is.  Who may I say is calling?"  < It sounds familiar, but...>

    "Diana, is that you?  It's me, Nabiki Tendo."

    Luna winced.  < She recognized me first.>  "Ah yes, Nabiki-san, how can I help you?"

    Nabiki seemed to pause on the other end.  "Ah, well, is Mamoru in?"

    Luna nodded, then caught herself.  "Yes, should I get him?"

    Nabiki sounded pleased.  "Yes please, Diana."

    Luna called out.  "It's for you!"

    Mamoru came out of the kitchen.  "The water's not ready yet.  Who is it?"

    She handed him the phone.  "Nabiki Tendo."

    He raised an eyebrow at her, but put the phone to his ear.  "Yes? Hello, Miss Tendo, how can I help you?"  Luna watched him as he shook is head. "No, I'm not busy."  He listened for a few more moments.  "Uh huh... really...? Yes... yes that's fine.  OK.  Give me the time and flight."  He grabbed a notebook and pen from where he'd been studying and wrote something down as he continued to listen on the phone.  "OK, got it.  How will I know him?"  He listened for a few more moments. "That's easy enough... alright, thank you.  Is there anything else I should... OK."  He hung up the phone, and looked down at it for awhile.

    Luna looked at him impatiently, but he was thinking to himself.

    "Hmm."  He murmured.  "The timing's not good, but the money would come in handy...."

    Luna's patience wore thin.  "What is it?  What's going on?"

    He glanced up.  "Oh Nabiki found a roommate for me... a short time boarder's more like it actually.  Some smalltime American investor who plans to be in the area for a few weeks."

    Luna looked puzzled at him.  "A roommate?  You've been looking for a boarder, Mamoru?  Why?"

    He blinked at her.  "Oh, this was before I knew you'd be here, Luna.  I've had a few unexpected bills lately, and I need some extra cash if I'm  going to keep my car.  I mentioned it in passing to Mr. Tendo, and Nabiki overheard and made a few suggestions.  Apparently she's quite the money maker in that family."

    Luna nodded.  "I see...  Well, I won't get in your way.  I suppose I can ask Makoto for a place to stay."

    Mamoru pulled his eyes back up to her face after realizing where he was looking.  < Maybe that would be a good idea.>  "No, that's not necessary, Luna."  He said gallantly.  "As you said yourself, you don't take up that much room as a cat.  He probably won't even notice you. Besides, if it's some gajin investor, he'll probably be spending most of his time sightseeing and doing whatever he's here for."

    Luna looked thoughtful.  "I suppose that makes sense.  You're probably right, Mamoru-san."

    Mamoru started back into the kitchen, saying, "Your hot water's probably ready, Luna.  You want to come with me and see what he looks like?  I have to leave for the airport in a few moments to pick him up."

    She followed him into the kitchen.  "That sounds fine, Mamoru.  Do we have time enough to finish the news?"

    He smiled to himself as he checked the water temperature.  < Hot enough.>  "Sure.  We have that much time."  He poured the kettle quickly over her head as she stepped forward, then retrieved his apron.  The small black cat ran back out into the living room, and hopped onto the couch.  He could hear the news come back on.  < This is going to be an
interesting few weeks.>

                                       End of Chapter 14
 


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