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: pt 4
Johnathon slipped out of the bathroom. He spotted his mother coming up the hall.
Clara smiled as she walked up to her son. "Johnathon, when did you get back?"
He shrugged. "Just a minute ago. Kasumi's going to wash up. So, we have any plans today?"
Clara nodded. "Your father thought we could visit the sights in San Francisco. We can drive up, have lunch, visit the waterfront, and perhaps the aquarium. Then we can have dinner down on the wharf."
Johnathon smiled. "Sounds fine, we'll get ready." He went to the guest room and slipped inside. He picked out one of Kasumi's nice dresses, that she tended to wear when they went out, and picked out a bra and panties to go with it. Johnathon found Kasumi's nice dress shoes and took all that over to the bathroom. Kasumi glanced nervously at him when he entered. She had wrapped herself up in a towel and was sitting on the side of the tub.
She smiled at him. "I was slightly worried that your mother might come in on me, until I remembered that she has her own bathroom. "
Johnathon tilted in his head slightly to the side. "She's very polite, Kasumi. Even if mom did come across you naked, she probably wouldn't say anything about it.... At least not in the bathroom, eh?"
Kasumi nodded. "Oh, I hope nothing worse than that happens. I do so want your parents to approve of me."
Johnathon grinned. "I think they already do, Kasumi-chan, you are very easy to approve of." He handed Kasumi her clothing. "Here, I hope I picked out the right thing for this afternoon. Did you hear?"
Kasumi nodded. "Yes." She looked over the outfit he had brought her. "And this is just fine, Johnathon. You've obviously been paying attention." He grinned sheepishly. She pulled the towel off and started to dress. < He's not getting tired of me yet.> She smiled softly to herself before saying, "I'm looking forward to seeing San Francisco more thoroughly than we did yesterday. Do you think we will be OK on the waterfront?"
Johnathon nodded easily be. "No problem, it's all shops, museums, and attractions, the water's all way below."
Kasumi's smiled. "That sounds nice. I think I'm going to enjoy this." Kasumi begin brushing her hair, and thinking. < Shopping in San Francisco. I bet Nabiki would like to be here with us now.>
Nabiki was in the Tendo kitchen, washing dishes with 'Auntie' Nodoka. < I wish I was in San Francisco with Kasumi and Akane, shopping, not playing 'little miss homemaker' with Auntie.> Nabiki nodded wordlessly at something Nodoka was saying and thought back over her previous months earnings. After school ended, the fees from Ryoga's 'tutors' stopped coming in, at least as much. Two girls were stopping by once a week to help Ryoga with geography and history. Most of the other girls had given up, at least temporarily, having seen firsthand how helpless Ryoga was around girls in general. Nabiki figured he was just too serious. Either he was head over heels in love, and tongue tied, or he wasn't interested. The only 'girl' that had gotten anywhere with Ryoga had been Ranma when he had been trying to trick Ryoga for one reason or another.
Nabiki snorted to herself. < Heh, the only girl Ryoga did more than twiddle his thumbs around was Ranma in disguise. It's hilarious, but not very profitable for me. At least he's paying his way now by taking over training Ranma's students part time.> Nabiki sighed. < If only I didn't have to baby-sit him so much. I have to take him everywhere or he'd get lost and show up next month.> Nabiki blinked and turned to Nodoka, who had just called her name sharply. "Um, yes Auntie?"
Nodoka sighed. "Daydreaming, Nabiki?" Her face brightened. "Well, were you thinking about a boy? Perhaps that nice Hibiki boy that is staying here?"
Nabiki blinked again in surprise. "No, not really... well I was... but not like that...." Nodoka's smile grew wider as Nabiki floundered. Nabiki closed her mouth and fumed, drying the next dish aggressively. < Arrgghh! I can't believe I got tongue tied over Ryoga! I don't even like the guy, and I get all embarrassed when Nodoka catches me thinking about him. What's wrong with me?>
Nodoka smiled knowingly and nodded to herself. < Yes, Nabiki is too alone. The Hibiki boy is quite nice. Perhaps I should have a talk with his parents.... If they can be found.> The Saotome matron hummed happily as she came up with ideas to match Nabiki up with Ryoga.
Nabiki sighed and went back to thinking about the the day to come. When she finally finished with the dishes, she went out to the kitchen to collect the lost boy. Nabiki had gotten Ryoga down to breakfast that morning, and had him wait at the table until she was ready to take him to the dojo.
"So, Ryoga...." Nabiki began as she led him to the family training hall. "Ranma told you what he wanted you to practice with his class?"
Ryoga nodded. "Yeah, but I'm not sure why...."
Nabiki raised an eyebrow at him. "Oh? Something strange about the lesson for today?"
Ryoga shrugged. "Ranma told me to start the girls with weapons training, Anything Goes style. Whatever they end up using most often. He told me to ask them what weapon's they're most likely to be using at any one time, and then train them with whatever they choose."
Nabiki blinked again. "Oh, you mean like umbrellas, spatula's, or bandanas?"
Ryoga nodded. "Yeah. Kinda strange, huh?"
Nabiki rolled her eyes. "Well, maybe not all that strange."
Ryoga shrugged. "If you say so. Ranma's always said before, relying on a weapon's not a good idea."
She shrugged. "Whatever. Maybe that's why he asked you to handle it?" Nabiki smirked at the lost boy. "Anyway... this I gotta see. So, what weapon should I use, Ryoga?"
Ryoga blinked. "Huh?"
Nabiki grinned. "Didn't you know? I'm part of the class too."
Ryoga blinked again. "You are? Oh yeah, that's right, I remember now."
Nabiki shook her head wryly. "Mind like a steel trap." She fixed him with a 'cute' look. "So, what instrument of destruction do you recommend for me, oh wise sensei?"
Ryoga hesitated. "Um, I don't really know, Nabiki... you're supposed to pick it out."
Nabiki frowned to herself. < He's kidding.... OK, he's not kidding. What the heck am I supposed to use? Heck, why do I need to know how to use a weapon anyway?> Nabiki paused. < For that matter, why study martial arts at all? Just because I'm getting into incredible shape, and all the guys around here seem to like martial artists....> Nabiki sighed. < Why do I ask when I already know the answer? I'm tired of playing second string to Akane and the rest. All the interesting guys either went after Akane, or Ranma, or even Ukyo and Shampoo.> Nabiki rolled her eyes. < Of course, there were a bunch of idiots in there too, but....> She sighed. < Do I really want a boyfriend that badly?> Nabiki's shoulders slumped. < Don't answer that, girl. You don't want to know the answer.>
By the time Ranma's Anything Goes class arrived, Nabiki still had no idea what weapon she wanted to use. < Alright, no spatulas or umbrellas or pompoms.... Hmm, I wonder how Ryoga does that thing with his bandanas?> Nabiki led Ryoga to the front of the Dojo and introduced him. "Hello everyone, this is Ryoga Hibiki. He'll be your instructor today, while Ranma is off in America."
The students, eleven girls and one man in his early twenties, bowed. "Good morning, Sensei!"
Ryoga put his hand behind his head and chuckled nervously. "Heh... hello... Um... I'm here to teach you about... weapons.... Your sensei left instructions that you were all to choose a weapon, something you find comfortable or are likely to have around. Then I'll instruct you in its use." The girls looked at each other, then back at him curiously.
A short dark haired girl that reminded Ryoga of Akane, (save her hair seemed to be a dark blue shade rather than black) raised her hand. "Ryoga sensei, weapons? What kind of weapons?"
A slightly shorter girl, with blond hair in two long ponytails bounced up and down. "Oh I know! Like the magic knights! Are you going to take us to a big armory and let us choose weapons that we can borrow?"
Two women with long dark hair sighed simultaneously, the taller one snapped at the blond girl. "Usagi, the isn't a manga!" The shorter dark haired girl just sighed and muttered quietly to herself.
Ryoga, (and half of the other's present) looked on nervously. "Um, well actually, we don't really have an armory...."
Nabiki interrupted. "Sure we do. It's not much like M.K.R., but it'll do I think. I'll show you." She led the group around the back of the dojo to a large storage closet attached to it. "Daddy never throws this stuff away. We still have a ton of stuff from when he was teaching regularly, and a bunch of weird stuff that got left around since Ranma showed up." Nabiki opened the closet. "Just remember, ladies and gentlemen, you break it, you buy it."
Michiru, a girl around Nabiki's age and Haruka, (Who Ryoga had originally mistaken for a boy) picked out a pair of bokken from the jumble of equipment.
Ryoga noted this. "Have you two done any Kendo?" They nodded.
Michiru spoke up. "We took a class together, although it's more Haruka's thing."
Ryoga nodded. "OK, warm up, and do some sparring. I'll jump in when I've got an idea where you're at." They nodded and he turned back to the others.
An older woman, with long dark green hair, selected an iron shod staff and stepped back. "This will do, Hibiki sensei."
Ryoga looked interested. "Have you used a staff like this before Ms...."
"Sestuna." She replied. "Something similar, yes."
Ryoga was about to ask where she had learned when his youngest student, a girl that appeared to be around twelve years old, came up with a Bisentio that towered over her. "Is this OK, Hibiki sensei?"
Ryoga blinked. "Um, it seems a little large for you... are you sure you can handle it?"
"I'm Hotaru." She announced quietly. "I am sure, sensei."
Ryoga hesitated. "Well...."
Setsuna nodded reassuringly. "Hotaru will be fine, I'm sure, Hibiki sensei. Let her try it out."
Ryoga shrugged. "Sure... why not?" He turned back to his other students.
The tall man with the short hair, the only male student currently in the class, had been contemplating the closet. Finally he shrugged,reached in and pulled out a black cane.
Nabiki blinked. < I don't remember that being in there.>
Ryoga walked over and gestured at the cane. "Any particular style?"
The taller man nodded. "Fencing, European style. I didn't see a broadsword in there, but this will do."
Ryoga nodded. "Whatever works, Mr...."
"Mamoru." The taller man answered. "Mamoru Chiba, nice to meet you."
Ryoga nodded again. "I know some fencing.... I should be able to help you out. Why don't you warm up for awhile and I'll spar with you a bit later."
Mamoru nodded and Ryoga went back to his other students. The taller of the two girls with long black hair was eyeing a Daikyu (longbow) along the back wall.
Ryoga walked up to her and nodded at it. "Have you practiced archery before?"
She shook her head. "Not really... at least, not with one of those...."
Ryoga shrugged. "I'm afraid I only know the basics myself... but if you want, I'll show you what I know."
The girl nodded. "Thank you.... Oh, by the way, I'm Rei."
Ryoga smiled. "Nice to meet you, Rei. Take your time getting used to it."
The short haired girl that resembled Akane superficially was inspecting some of the more unusual weapons. "Hmm, these look like rhythmic gymnastic supplies."
A medium sized girl with long straight blond hair
moved over. "Really? Let me see, Ami." The blond rifled through
the selection and came out with a club. "Here Usagi, try this!"
She tossed it to the blond with pony tails.
Usagi caught the club with both hands and made a few experimental passes with it. "Well, OK, if you think so, Minako." Usagi pretended it was her moon scepter and swung it around a bit.
Ryoga noticed the obviously patterned movement and walked over. "Do you do rhythmic gymnastic martial arts?"
Usagi looked surprised. "No way! I've never even heard of it!"
Ryoga pointed at the club. "That's one tool for it. I can show you how to use it properly."
Usagi blinked. "There's another way?"
Minako pulled out a gymnastic ribbon and twirled it. "Hey, Hibiki sensei, is this a weapon?"
Ryoga turned to look and nodded. "Absolutely, I can show you how to use that pretty quickly. I've already trained two others in that technique."
Minako grinned. "Cool!"
Ami looked thoughtful. "Do you do spirals with it?"
Ryoga blinked. "Um... yeah. That's one way...."
Ami nodded and picked up a second ribbon. "Then I'll try this one as well."
A tall girl with brown hair was digging through the pile methodically. "No, no... not this...."
Rei called back to her. "Makoto, can't find anything?"
Makoto shook her head. "Not yet!" She picked up what appeared to be a garter lined with guitar picks, like a miniature bandoleer. "What is this for? Oh well...." Her hand brushed against something and Makoto reflexively grabbed it. It was stuck in back but Makoto had a sudden feeling. She pulled free a large oaken staff, over an inch and a half in diameter and weighing almost seven or eight pounds. "Hmm...." Makoto mused. "This just seems to feel right."
Ryoga came up and eyed the staff. "Not a bad choice." Makoto turned to him and Ryoga was slightly surprised to find her looking him in the eye, being just his height. He gazed into those eyes for a moment before looking back at the staff. "It looks a bit heavy, but you look like you can handle it. Have you used a staff before?"
Makoto shook her head slowly, a dazed smile on her face from Ryoga's looking into her eyes. "Not like this... but I just know you can teach me how to use it...."
Ryoga blinked at her lowered tone of voice and nodded slowly. "Sure... why don't I help you and Setsuna-san with the basics...."
Minako giggled quietly and elbowed Usagi. "Just like her old boyfriend I bet, huh Usagi-chan?" Her voice was a low whisper, but just loud enough for Makoto to hear. She blushed and turned to glare back at Minako.
Ryoga shook his head in incomprehension and turned to his last two students. "Do I know you from somewhere?" Both girls were short busty teenagers, perhaps around his age. Both had long black hair, and there was something familiar about them. "Ryoga eyed the one on the left. "I could swear we've met before...."
The young woman hesitated, then blushed slightly. "Do you say that to all your female students, Ryoga sensei?"
Ryoga's eyes went a bit wide and he started to stammer and blush. "No! It's just... I'd swear... I mean I thought... well you see....."
The young woman smiled faintly and decided to let him off easily. "I'm Diana... and yes, I do believe we met... briefly... before."
Ryoga shrugged helplessly. "Well, I do meet a lot of people that way... briefly that is." He turned to the other girl. "So, have you two found any weapons?"
The other short black haired girl nodded. "Yep. Check this out." She brought up her hands. Strapped to the back were a pair of wrist claws Mousse had left behind. "Oh, you can call me Atlanta, if you want."
Ryoga nodded. "OK, Atlanta." He started to turn to 'Diana' then turned back. "Do you...?" He shook his head. "Never mind." Ryoga turned to Diana again. "And you? Did you find anything?" Diana hesitated, then picked up a pair of clawed armored gauntlets. "These look like they belong to someone... but...."
Ryoga shrugged. "I bet Nabiki will let you borrow them."
The mercenary girl in question stood up. "Whoa, I forgot about those... want them? I'll sell them cheap."
Diana hesitated. "Well, I should see if they suit me first." She tried on the gauntlets and was surprised when they fit. "They're just a little big. I'm amazed that they are so close to my size."
Nabiki shrugged. "We get a lot of Chinese Amazons through here. That one must have been around your size."
Diana blinked. "Oh."
Ryoga moved around, checking up on everyone. "Alright, let's go back inside. I'll work with each of you in order."
Ryoga watched Michiru and Haruka spar, then stopped them to give them some pointers. He brought out his umbrella and fenced with Mamoru. After disarming the older man, Ryoga sent him to practice with Haruka and Michiru. Setsuna was demonstrating with the staff for Makoto. Ryoga watched for a minute, nodded and went to Minako and Ami. He borrowed a ribbon and began demonstrating basic techniques. Minako seemed to catch on very quickly.
Ryoga commented on it. "You're had some experience?"
Minako grinned. "Well, with something similar."
Ami stuck to it, learning steadily. Ryoga left Minako with some pointers and asked her to coach Ami. He went on to Usagi and gestured to the club. "Why don't you show me that thing you were doing before?"
Usagi blinked. "That? Oh, I was just fooling around, really...."
Ryoga smiled encouragingly. "It's OK, I saw the beginning of something there... do it again."
Usagi bit her lip and nodded. "Well, OK...." She started waving the club around in a graceful pattern, then another.
Ryoga watched her intently then snapped his fingers. "Sailor Moon!"
Usagi's eyes went wide in shock. "What? Me? No... no I...."
Ryoga grinned. "You're a Sailor Moon fan, aren't you? I recognized those moves."
Usagi blinked. "Ah... Oh... right...." I guess you could say I'm a fan... Sailor Moon is pretty cool, isn't she?"
Ryoga nodded. "Yeah, a bit clumsy..." (Usagi started to turn red.) "... but she's a real hero alright." (Usagi blinked and smiled at that.) Ryoga continued obliviously. "Anyway, those moves are a good start. You seem to have them down pretty good. With a little training, you could modify them a bit to parry and strike. That's one benefit of a practiced move, you can do them without really thinking about it." Ryoga tilted his head at Usagi. "You must be a really big fan, learning how to imitate her like that... you've even got your hair kinda like hers...." He chuckled. "Anyway, let me show you what I mean. Start that first move again."
Usagi blinked. "Like this?" She began to swing the club and Ryoga swung his umbrella at her head. The club came up to block well in advance.
Ryoga smiled. "And the second one, keep going." He swung again from the other side and Usagi managed to block again, then came around and tagged Ryoga in the head.
Usagi yelled and dropped the club. "Oh my gosh! Did I hurt you? I'm sorry I'm so sorry!"
Ryoga shook his head, still grinning. "I'm fine, you see? You blocked my strike and countered, automatically! You've got the moves, you just have to know when to use them." Ryoga felt the hair on the back of his head go on end and he quickly looked around. The little girl, Hotaru, had stopped doing the complex looking kata she had been performing with the bisentio, and was now staring at him, the weapon pointed at his heart.
Suddenly Hotaru blinked and the feeling of menace went away. "Oh, Ryoga sensei, you taught Usagi-san some new moves?"
Ryoga nodded. "Yes, Hotaru chan, but I've been neglecting you long enough. Why don't you show me that kata you were doing...."
Ryoga began instructing Hotaru, and off to one side, Rei started to breath again. She had been watching when Ryoga had swung at Usagi, and her heart had nearly stopped. Then, amazed at Usagi's defense and counter attack, she had nearly missed Saturn going into kill mode. Rei wiped her brow nervously and waited her turn with Ryoga.
Ryoga worked for a few minutes with Hotaru, first encouraging her to attack him while he blocked, then getting her to block while he lightly attacked her with his umbrella.
He nodded after a bit. "Very good, Hotaru chan. Your technique is flawless, except...." He frowned. "Attack me." She did so and Ryoga deflected the blow and counter attacked, his umbrella tip stopping an inch from her forehead. "You leave yourself wide open when you attack. If your opponent survives your first strike, they can hit you quite easily." He stepped back. "Now defend!" He started to slowly swing at the girl. "Your defense is good, too... but you don't leave opening to attack with. You have to be able to counter strike, or your opponent will just wear down your guard."
Hotaru blinked and looked like she wanted to explain something, then simply nodded. "Yes, sensei."
Ryoga smiled. "Don't get me wrong, you're really very good. A little more practice, and you'll be even better."
He waved Setsuna over. "Spar with Hotaru chan, will you Setsuna-san?" Ryoga walked over to Makoto, she was practicing the moves Setsuna had shown her. "Hmm, that's pretty good for a start, keep practicing those moves until I get back."
Ryoga walked over to Rei. "Let's set you up a target in the yard. I believe Tendo-san knows the great bow. I'll ask him to get you started."
Ryoga took Rei around to Soun and got him to assist Rei, then went back to the dojo to check up on Diana and Atlanta. The two girls were sparring lightly with their new weapons. Ryoga was surprised by their level of skill. (Although not as much as he had been at Hotaru.)
Ryoga clapped politely. "Hey, that's pretty good! Have you two studied any Kung-fu? That looks a bit like tiger, or leopard style...."
Diana blinked. "Um.... It just comes naturally, I believe."
Ryoga raised an eyebrow. "Well, if you say so.... You two seem to have some grasp of claw strikes, so we'll work on your blocks." The bandana clad martial artist showed them a basic set of blocks, and instructed them to practice them for the rest of the class. Then he began going around the class again, instructing, correcting and advising his students on their individual weapons.
Ryoga came around to Nabiki after making sure everyone was busy. "Nabiki, have you chosen a weapon yet?"
Nabiki shrugged. "It's not really my thing. I'm not in this to learn how to bash peoples brains in, after all." The middle Tendo girl looked around at the other students. "Looks like a bunch of aspiring Amazons. Ryoga, have you noticed anything strange about this group? I mean, they all seem pretty good already.... Isn't it a bit weird?"
Ryoga blinked. "Really? Why do you say that?"
Nabiki sighed. "Never mind, Ryoga, I guess it's pretty normal for around here."
Ryoga shrugged. "I guess so. So, are you going to try out a weapon?"
Nabiki frowned thoughtfully. "I'll think about it. Maybe something will catch my eye later."
Ryoga nodded. "Whatever you want, Nabiki. It's completely up to you."
Ryoga went back to his other students, correcting Makoto's form, starting Usagi on a different move, advising Ami on a technique. Many of his students watched him whenever he was elsewhere. Minako kept looking at him speculatively, while 'Atlanta' seemed a bit annoyed. Makoto was getting into her 'old boyfriend' mode, comparing Ryoga favorably to her old classmate. Rei was comparing him to Yuuichiro, and the long haired shrine disciple wasn't looking so great at the moment.
Even Ami had a speculative look on her face concerning their current sensei. < I believe I am feeling an... attraction to Ryoga sensei. He is older than me, but only by a year or so....> Ami weighed the positive and negative factors. < He's brave, and strong... if anyone would be relatively safe if a monster attacked, it would be him. He is honorable. I could even tell him of my senshi identity, although I don't know how he would react. He is also, very attractive....> Ami attempted to control her blush. < When did I start thinking like this? On the down side, his Jusenkyo curse is a problem, although not a serious one, unless he gets splashed in front of either of my parents....>
Ami blinked. < I can't believe I'm thinking
about this so seriously. What about Uwara? We had a relationship...
before Beryl was defeated, and he forgot all about me.> Ami sighed.
< Is there any
chance for Uwara and me? Or should I explore other options? Should I really be thinking about a boyfriend? I am so busy with my studies. At least there're no new threats the senshi have to deal with.> Ami shook her head. < Ryoga sensei probably has lot of girls after him anyway. I certainly couldn't compete.> Despite her conclusion, Ami continued to watch Ryoga and speculate.
Nabiki noticed the looks Ryoga was getting and yen
signs started flashing in her eyes. < I smell an opportunity here.
Makoto's obviously developed a crush on Ryoga. Ami, Rei, and Minako
interested as well, although Atlanta looks a bit jealous whenever Minako looks at Ryoga... hmm.> Nabiki frowned. < Something seems off about Atlanta, more than just her having a thing for Minako. Diana too... don't I know her from somewhere? They act like sisters, almost, and they look enough alike, but... there's something else about them that's strange.>
Nabiki looked thoughtful. < Well, whatever it is, I'll find it out.> She shrugged, glancing at the rest of the students. < That Mamoru Chiba is a hunk and a half. Too bad Usagi seems to have him tied down already. Michiru and Haruka are pretty obviously a couple. What is it about cross dressers around here anyway? Maybe I should introduce them to Ukyo.> Nabiki chuckled. < Maybe not. Ukyo seems to know enough cross dressers already.>
Nabiki went back to evaluating her classmates. < Setsuna-san is a mystery, she seems to watch over everyone... she's not related to any of the younger girls... I think. Perhaps she's an aunt or something. Hotaru is... spooky. I couldn't believe the way she used that bisentio. It's like she's trained with it for years, but I've never seen that style before. The way she looked at Ryoga when he was practicing with Usagi.... I wonder what was going though her head?>
Nabiki shrugged. < Ah well, back to business, how to turn all this into a profit. I could start by selling the interested parties info on Ryoga. I bet Atlanta might want to know more about him as well, in case he becomes a rival....> Nabiki grinned. < Now, who first?> Nabiki glanced around and grabbed a light practice staff from the wall. < I do remember some of what daddy taught us about this.> She headed over to Makoto and offered to spar.
Makoto nodded. "Sure, Nabiki, right? You're one of Akane's sisters?"
Nabiki nodded easily and brought up her staff in a defensive position. "That's me. I'm not the martial artist my baby sister is though. I gave it up for a long time." Makoto swung cautiously at her and Nabiki parried and counter attacked.
Makoto blocked quickly. "You apparently haven't forgotten everything."
Nabiki shrugged. "When you father owns a dojo, you do tend to pick up a thing or two." They sparred silently for awhile and Nabiki quickly realized that while Makoto was not experienced with a staff, she was both stronger and faster than her. Nabiki resolved not to get the larger girl angry anytime soon. "So, I see you have your eyes on our sensei. Like what you see?"
Makoto blushed slightly, loosing her concentration a bit. "Um, he seems like a really nice guy... is he... seeing anyone?"
Nabiki grinned. "1000 yen, and I'll give you the basic's on him."
Makoto blinked. "What? You're charging me?"
Nabiki shrugged. "Well, if you don't want to know...."
Makoto hesitated. "Alright, but this better be worth it... um... I'm not exactly carrying my wallet on me...."
Nabiki nodded. "I'll trust you for it. We have a deal?"
Makoto nodded back, going on the offensive again finally. "Alright, deal."
Nabiki parried and backed off, leading Makoto out of earshot of anyone who might want to listen in. "OK, here's the scoop...." Unfortunately for Nabiki, that was the only money to come her way that afternoon, because she wasn't able to maneuver herself to talk to her other targets before the class ended and they all piled into the vehicles they came in.
Haruka and Michiru sped off first on Haruka's motorcycle. Usagi kissed Mamoru good bye and joined 'Diana', Rei, and Hotaru in Setsuna's van. Minako, 'Atlanta', Makoto and Ami piled into Mamoru's car together.
In the van, Hotaru glanced curiously at Usagi. "Usagi-san, why do we always take you to and from class? Don't you want to go with Mamoru-san?"
Usagi smiled wistfully. "Mom and Dad still don't really know I'm dating him, Hotaru-chan. Dad would never approve of me seeing a guy seven years older than me, especially before I'm eighteen. If Mamo-chan keeps picking me up, they might get suspicious."
Hotaru nodded slowly. "Oh, that's too bad."
'Diana' aka. Luna, spoke up. "Speaking of getting suspicious, Setsuna, could we get stop for some hot water before we get to Usagi's house? Usagi's parents are beginning to wonder why Usagi's new friend, namely me, has been over so often lately. Luna the cat should make an appearance as well."
Setsuna, from the drivers seat, nodded. "I had anticipated your request. We'll be stopping by Tomoe-san's home first. We can get you changed back when we drop off Hotaru."
Luna blinked. "Setsuna, how much does Professor Tomoe know? I know he's aware of many if not all of the Senshi's true identities. Has he been informed of recent events?"
Setsuna shook her head. "He has not been informed of your or Artemis's curse, although he was aware of our recent return to the Dark kingdom."
Luna sighed. "Oh well, I suppose it wouldn't hurt to let him know, as long as he doesn't want to start experimenting on me."
Hotaru giggled. "Poppa wouldn't do that, Luna, don't worry!"
Luna smiled. :"Of course not, Hotaru-chan."
Hotaru continued blithely. "He'll be busy with his current experiment until tomorrow at least!"
Luna blinked. "Oh...."
In Mamoru Chiba's car, Ami, Makoto and Minako were talking about the class, and more importantly, the new instructor, Ryoga Hibiki. Mamoru and Artemis tried not to pay too much attention. While Mamoru was simply disinterested, Artemis was starting to feel a bit jealous, and was disliking the feeling.
Minako was giggling. "So, Makoto, does he remind you of your old boyfriend?"
Makoto nodded, her eyes going spacy. "Mm hmm... except he's even more hunky! He's so strong, and heroic.... I found out today he doesn't even have a girlfriend!"
Minako whistled appreciatively. "No way! Hey, that's great!"
Makoto interrupted. "Hey, I saw him first! Well, anyway, you've gotten the last half dozen cute guys, Minako. It's my turn for once."
Minako grinned, holding up her hands. "No problem, Makoto! I wasn't thinking about going after him anyway."
Makoto blinked, looking curiously over the back seat. "Really?" Ami hid her relieved expression so fast she hardly realized she'd made it.
Minako nodded firmly. "Really. I'm really not interested." She winked at Artemis when Makoto turned forward again.
Artemis smiled in relief, then sighed silently. < Minako-chan really has been good to me lately, but I don't know how long this is going to last. Especially if the other's find out... we're either a girl and a cat, or a girl and girl... Minako's folks are starting to wonder about Minako's friend 'Atlanta'... and I'm sure they wouldn't approve of what Minako and I have been doing at night.> The moon-cat turned girl blushed at the memories that brought up.
Ami tried to look interested. "Are you going to ask Ryoga-sensei out, Makoto-chan?"
Makoto frowned. "I wish he would ask me out... but apparently he's a bit shy. Otherwise he'd have a steady girlfriend by now. I'm really not sure how to handle this...."
Ami nodded. "There's his curse too. He might avoid getting close to people, so that they don't discover it."
Makoto sighed. "I'd nearly forgotten that... poor guy, changing into a little black pig like that. We can't let him know that we know either, cause we learned about that as senshi."
Ami nodded. "Yes, I suppose asking him out in costume would be a bit silly." She blinked. "Makoto, how did you find out that Ryoga-sensei isn't seeing anyone? I didn't see you talking to him that much."
Makoto looked back at her. "I was Akane's and Kasumi's middle sister, Nabiki. She asked me if I wanted to know about him, then had the nerve to charge me 1000 yen!"
Minako chuckled. "Which you paid."
Makoto sighed. "Alright, so sue me, I've got a weakness for cute guys."
Minako chuckled some more. "So give! What else did you find out?"
Makoto looked thoughtful. "Well, he's currently staying at the Tendo's, and he had a big crush on Akane for awhile. Nabiki also said that Ryoga is terrible with directions. He can't find his way to anywhere! She said that he even gets lost inside the house, although I'm sure she's exaggerating."
Ami blinked. "That's strange. He can't find where he's going? He seems relatively intelligent. He's an excellent sensei."
Makoto shrugged. "That's what she said, no sense of direction. If it wasn't for that, and the pig thing... he'd be a perfect boyfriend."
Minako blinked. "What? Having second thoughts, Makoto-chan?"
Makoto shrugged. "I don't know. He really does seem like a nice guy... just... kinda high maintenance, you know?" She paused. "Hey, Minako, why aren't you interested in him? Have you started dating someone new? Holding out on us girl?"
Minako tried to stay cool. "Well, I am kinda... involved...."
Makoto pressed. "With who? Is it someone we know?"
Minako chewed on her lip. "Well...."
Makoto pretended to be cross. "Oh I see how it works, I tell all about me and Ryoga, but you don't tell us anything."
Minako sighed, and glanced at Artemis. The moon cat, turned busty young girl was frozen, her eyes wide.
Minako chewed on her lip some more, turned back to Makoto and nodded slowly. "Alright, I'll tell you, but it doesn't leave this car, OK?"
Makoto nodded. "OK, I can keep a secret."
Minako glanced at Ami, who nodded. "I'll keep it to myself, Minako."
Mamoru somehow could tell she was waiting for him and nodded, keeping his eyes on the road. "Hey, I've even kept secrets from myself!"
Minako acknowledged that with a wry chuckle. "Alright. The person I'm involved with I've know for almost four years now, and has been one of my best friends during that time."
Artemis's eyes were wider than ever, and she tried to shake her head, somehow warn Minako off. Something kept her silent and frozen in place.
Makoto blinked. "Four years? Weren't you in England back then?"
Ami nodded to herself. "Has a boy from England shown up? You never told us about any old friends from then."
Minako shook her head. "No, that's not it." She looked at Artemis again and sighed.
Artemis's mind flashed a thousand warnings. < Don't say it! Don't tell them!> But the cat turned girl couldn't speak. Finally she lowered her head. "You... you might as well just tell them, Minako-chan."
Minako nodded, smiling brightly. "You're right, lover. Everyone... the person I'm involved with is... Artemis."
End of pt. 4
I hope you liked it! C&C is always welcome!