"Akane?" Soun asked, nudging his daughter.
"Nnmfph?" Akane mumbled into her pillow. She slowly opened an eye and began to register shapes and sounds into her brain.
"Akane, wake up. The police are here."
Akane jerked awake, and sat up in her bed. "P... Police?" she sputtered.
"They're waiting downstairs. They want to talk to you."
"Oh, God. Ranma, what did you do?"
Akane quickly jumped out of bed and got dressed. She paid no attention to make-up or even to WHAT she put on. She just threw on the first thing she could find, which happened to be her gi, and ran down the stairs.
As she entered the tea room, the two police officers looked up. She recognized the both of them from the day before.
"Miss Tendo," the tall one greeted.
"What's wrong?" she asked, rather forcedly.
The officer stood up. "Last night, at approximately 1:36 AM there was a... complication."
"An explosion, Miss Tendo. At your fiancé's hospital room."
Akane's jaw dropped. "Oh my God! Is he okay--"
"As far as we can tell," the other officer said with a spit.
"What? What's that supposed to mean?"
"It means, Miss Tendo, that Ranma Saotome and Ryouga Hibiki are now wanted for the premeditated and brutal murder of six people now."
Akane suddenly began to feel lightheaded. "What?! _SIX_ people? They'd never--"
"Don't give me that bullshit," the officer spat at her. "We lost TWO officers last night. _TWO_. Your goddamned fiancé and his boyfriend were found NOWHERE in the wreckage. And guess what we find when we viewed the surveillance tapes at the train station?"
Akane's mouth opened and closed as if she were going to say something.
"Now," the police officer said. "He's obviously not here. He wouldn't be that stupid. But he _IS_ in Nerima. If you see him, Miss Tendo, you tell us. If not, we'll haul you in for aiding and abetting. I'm sure the other guys at the station would LOVE you."
Akane tightened her gaze and pursed her lips in anger. "Get out," she said.
The police officer stood up and bowed. "Thank you for your audience, Miss Tendo."
As the policemen left the room, Akane found herself staring into space for a great deal of time. Finally, she regained her senses and walked over to the phone. There was only one thing she could do.
She picked up the receiver and dialed out. A few rings later, there was an answer on the other end.
"Hi, Konatsu?" Akane greeted.
Ukyou stretched her arms as she reached the main room of her restaurant. Konatsu was already awake, probably had been awake for hours already, and was busily readying the grill for the breakfast rush.
"Mistress Ukyou!" Konatsu smiled.
"Hey, Konatsu," she yawned. She had long since given up on trying to convince him to call her just plain Ukyou, but Konatsu was far too formal. It was near impossible. "Anything new?"
"Mistress Akane called," he replied, his finger to his mouth. "She's on her way over. Something about Master Ranma going missing."
Ukyou jerked her head towards the feminine, but quite male Kunoichi. "What?!"
A hundred thoughts ran through her head. Ranma was missing again? Did that mean all they went through earlier in the week was for naught? Was he in the hands of those maniacs again? Would she get shot again...?
As if on cue, a sudden rap came to the door of her establishment. Ukyou moved over and opened it, allowing Akane in.
Akane bent over and tried to catch her breath as Ukyou got out of her way.
"Akane?" she asked. "What's happening?"
"Ranma..." She gasped for air. "Ryouga..." Another gasp. "Hospita--"
"Whoa, slow DOWN, sugar!" Ukyou placed her hands on Akane's shoulders. "Catch your breath, and tell me what happened."
Akane did just that. She found her way to a nearby chair and caught her breath. A moment later, she had gathered enough of herself to speak.
"Remember I told you about Ryouga last night?" Akane asked.
Ukyou nodded. "Yeah, something about the police being after him for some horseshit."
"Murder," Akane said. "They were charging him with the murder of two people, and possible abduction of a third."
"Ryouga? Murder?" Ukyou's heart jumped. How could he be charged with murder? As much as he talked big with Ranma, he would never actually... kill someone, would he?
"Anyway, there was an explosion in Ranma's hospital room last night. Ryouga was staying there as well. The two police officers who were outside of the room were killed by the blast, but when they searched the wreckage, neither Ranma or Ryouga were anywhere to be found."
Ukyou gasped. "Could they have..."
Akane shook her head. "I refuse to believe that. Besides, the police said the blast wasn't hot enough to incinerate them. There would have been something left."
Ukyou plopped into the chair next to Akane. "Then what--"
"I can only think of one thing," she continued. "Ranma got Ryouga out of there. I don't think they set the explosion up. Ryouga was far too weak and Ranma... well, it just isn't like him."
Ukyou put her hand on Akane's shoulder. "It's not like either of them, honey."
"But somebody did it. I'm also willing to bet it's the same person who set the blast in Aoyama."
Ukyou's eyes shot open. "Aoyama? THAT'S what Ryouga's being framed for?"
Akane nodded. "But I'm positive Ranma got Ryouga out of there. Even if it meant his own life, he would have."
With a sigh, Ukyou looked towards the ceiling. "So the police came looking for him at your house. Do they have any idea where he might be?"
"They seemed pretty sure he was in Nerima. I overheard one of them mention a surveillance tape. Maybe they caught him on tape at the station or something. The train station is only a couple blocks from the hospital..."
Ukyou nodded. "He's not here, and he's not at your place... The only thing I can think of is..."
Akane met Ukyou's gaze and nodded.
"Konatsu!" Ukyou called. "Keep an eye on things for me today. If the police show up, let them look around the place."
"All right, Mistress Ukyou! I'll do that!" Konatsu smiled, and ran over to fetch an apron.
"Hey," Ukyou cried, rapping on the door. "Open up! We know you're in there!"
"Ukyou, maybe they aren't there. I mean, the police might look here if--" Akane jumped as the lock was jingled around inside and Mousse poked his head out.
"Be quiet," he said. "They're trying to sleep."
Akane's eyes narrowed. "They're here?"
Mousse nodded and let Ukyou and Akane in. "Were there any police following you?" he asked.
Akane shook her head. "No. The police would have been more obvious to us than the other guys."
Ukyou nodded. "Are they okay?"
"Saotome is perfectly all right. He's sleeping upstairs. Ryouga, however, is in pain. I've done what I can for him. Hopefully he should be back on his feet by tonight or tomorrow some time. As for his consciousness... who can say? Minutes, hours..."
"He's hurt badly, then?"
With a nod, Mousse continued. "I hadn't even heard of all this explosion business before Ranma got here with a half-dead Ryouga. I admit I don't really know Ryouga all that well-- but murder? I don't buy that for a second."
Ukyou nodded. "Trust me, Sugar. We feel the same way."
"You think he'll mind us waking him up?" Akane asked.
Mousse shook his head as he picked up a window cleaner and cleaning towel. "Ranma? No. He's in my room upstairs right now. You can go talk to him if you need to."
"Thanks, Mousse," Akane said as she bound up the stairs.
"Anytime," he smiled.
The miniature twister raged within the confines of the dilapidated warehouse, sending anything not tied down up into the fresh new sunroof created by Ranma's Flying Dragon Ascension technique.
Falling to the ground in a relaxed lump, Ranma sighed with relief. It was over. All over. Mazuhara was dead, and now--
"Is that the best you can do, Saotome?"
Ranma's eyes jerked upwards. At the center of the whirlwind, stood Mazuhara, still alive and grinning wildly.
"M... Mazuhara?" Ranma asked, his eyes wide.
Mazuhara stepped out of the wind as if they were nothing, and walked right up to Ranma, dropping his gun. "You'll have to do better than that," he said, the bullet wound in his head still completely visible and bleeding profusely.
"No," Ranma said. "You're dead. You are DEAD."
"I'm coming for you, Saotome. You and those bitches you hang around," he said, his face beginning to fade into the air, as if every molecule in his body had lost its adhesion.
And then he woke, jerking his head up in shock. He grabbed his head and allowed his eyes to focus. He was in Mousse's room, at the Nekohanten. Mazuhara WAS dead. It was only a dream.
"Ranchan?" a voice asked from the doorway. Ranma looked over and saw the telltale shape of a battle spatula and sighed.
"Ucchan? What are you doing here?"
Ukyou ran into the room and poked Ranma's bandage. With a slight wince, he grimaced. "What was THAT for?"
"I think it'd be a better idea to tell us what the explosion was all about," Akane said, leaning against the door frame. "It WAS all over the news."
Ranma blinked in surprise. "Didn't Nabiki tell you? The restaurant in Aoyama? It couldn't have been Ryouga's fault, it--"
"Not that explosion, Ranma," Akane frowned. "The one at the hospital."
Ranma furrowed his brow. "The one at.... the hospital?"
Ukyou nodded. "Yeah, some cops stopped by at Akane's this morning. They're pretty upset with you, Ranchan... The blast killed two of their own."
Ranma smacked his forehead. "The orderly!" he exclaimed.
"What?" Akane asked.
"Before Ryouga and I made our way out, an orderly popped into the room. He was playing around with something under the sink, but I thought he was just checking the linen! That MUST have been it!"
"Did you see his face?"
Ranma shook his head. "No, I didn't get a good look. I was trying to pretend to be asleep, you know..."
"But your sure it was the orderly, right?"
Ranma nodded. "It had to have been. I didn't think anything of it at the time, but they don't usually come in during the night. And at that time of night, it's a nurse named Hikari. Come to think of it, I've never seen any man besides the doctor come into my room."
"And of course, Ranchan would notice that," Ukyou quipped. "So it's obvious that these guys are after Ryouga, then?"
Ranma nodded. "It seems a little coincidental, though. Doncha think? I mean, a couple days after Mazuhara, then this happens to Ryouga? It stinks of Mazuhara."
"Mazuhara is dead, Ranma," Akane said, her voice laced with loathing for the man's name.
"I don't mean Mazuhara specifically, Akane. I mean his group. There is no way the cops could have gotten all of them."
Ukyou nodded. "Ranchan is right. If there are more, they could be doing this to Ryouga."
"But why? Why Ryouga? Why not just try and blow up Ranma?"
"Because I can identify them," a labored voice stated from behind Akane. "I've seen them."
Ranma leapt up from his bed and ran out of the room to see Ryouga trying to lean up against the wall.
"Ryouga!" he exclaimed, then went over to assist his friend. "Are you all right?"
Ryouga looked towards Akane and Ranma while Ukyou poked her head out of the room. "I couldn't stop it, Ranma," he said. "I tried to, but they killed them all."
Ranma sighed. "Ryouga, listen--"
"NO!" Ryouga threw Ranma's grip from his arm. "I killed them! I may well have just set the damned bomb for them! I couldn't do a damn THING for them! Mr. and Mrs. Tosaka, Rin... I killed them all..."
"You mean Rin is dead, too?" Ranma asked.
"What do you mean?" Ryouga said.
"The news said her body wasn't found... Ryouga, did you SEE her die?"
Ryouga blinked. "I... I saw them... and her..." he looked up. "Could she still be alive?" he asked, his voice masked with a small ray of hope.
"Ryouga, hon..." Ukyou began, walking towards the man, who was having enough trouble standing, let alone talk. "Maybe you should lay down."
"No, wait," Ryouga looked into Ranma's eyes, pleadingly. "Is she alive?"
Ranma tightened his jaw. "I don't know," he said. "But we're gonna find out."
"Ryouga, how did you get mixed up in this?" Akane asked.
Ryouga sighed. "I don't know... I felt someone shadowing me for a while before I found the restaurant. I had been going for quite some time, and then I--" he looked towards Akane, and then took the speech in another direction. "err... collapsed on their doorstep. They helped me get back on my feet, and let me work there for a bit. Before long, the men who were shadowing me showed themselves. I fought them off easily the first time, and protected the people in the restaurant. Then... they came back with their leader. I could have fought them off, but-- well... they had Rin."
"Who was Rin?" Ukyou asked.
"The daughter of the owners... She was... a friend," he said. "But I couldn't do anything. Mr. and Mrs. Tosaka were already dead. Then they told me I had five minutes."
Ryouga nodded. "To find the bomb. I ran, I checked every place I could think of. I didn't even KNOW where it was. Then it went off... I thought they had killed Rin, or at least left her in the building, but... They may have taken her."
Ranma nodded. "I wouldn't put it past them," he said. "You were caught in the blast?"
Ryouga nodded. "I was almost right on top of the bomb when it went off. I went flying through the window. I was sent clear of most of it, but I still got pretty messed up."
"Who were they?"
Ryouga shook his head. "I don't know. I think they may be part of Mazuhara's group, though."
"You know about them?" Ranma asked.
Ryouga nodded. "I'm not blind. I saw it on the news, Ranma. But I don't blame you," he sighed. "I could have protected them better."
Ranma sighed. "You will. We're going to find Rin, Ryouga."
Ryouga looked up. "You'll help?"
Akane placed her hand on Ryouga's shoulder. "Of course, Ryouga. We're not going to let you do this alone."
Ryouga looked into Akane's eyes, she was smiling, and Ryouga could feel his eyes begin to tear up.
A moment later, he closed them and said two simple words. "Thank you."
"So, how are you feeling, Ryouga?" Mousse asked. "Those wounds healing okay?"
Ryouga nodded as Ukyou and Akane helped him down the stairs. "I'll be okay in a little while," he said.
Mousse pulled out a chair at one of the tables and allowed Ryouga to sit down in it, while he himself pulled another chair, and sat in it. "So, have we got a plan?"
"A plan?" Ranma asked.
"Sure, Saotome. You don't expect to get Rin back without me, do you?"
Ranma narrowed his eyes. "How did--?"
Mousse merely tapped his ear lobe and smiled. "One thing you learn in living here for almost a year... All the air vents carry sound downstairs."
Ranma blinked. "Oh."
"I think Ryouga should stay and heal up before doing anything strenuous," Ukyou said. "You too, Ranchan."
"Hey! I'm fine!" he said, flexing his biceps as an example. A moment later, he winced.
"Sure," Mousse said.
"Ukyou's right. She and I found Ranma last week easily. The first step I think would be to head down to Aoyama and check out the restaurant. There might be something the police missed... They won't be linking this to Mazuhara's group, so there's a chance we'll find something," Akane suggested.
Ukyou nodded. "That's right. You guys should stay here and let us handle this bit," she smiled, grabbing the hilt of her battle spatula for effect.
Mousse nodded. "Obviously. It's the first step. If we find anything, we can move to the second step together."
Ranma reluctantly nodded. "Yeah, well... It's not like they'd get into any trouble there. Fine," he said.
Ryouga nodded. "Call if you find anything."
With that, Akane and Ukyou got up, said their good-byes and left the restaurant.
A brief train ride later, Akane and Ukyou found themselves staring at the burnt out ruins of the restaurant. Much of the building itself was still standing, but was surrounded by police tape, and many of the entrances were boarded up.
In fact, according to the sign, the building was scheduled to be torn down the next day.
"Looks like we made it in time," Ukyou suggested.
Akane nodded and punched out the boards that covered one of the windows. Without wasting another moment, the two of them hopped in.
The inside of the restaurant was even worse. The main room was large, with a counter near the back. It was obvious that at one time, it had been filled with tables and chairs. In fact, some unburned, but slightly charred, remains of a few chairs lay on the side of the room.
The nearby stairs looked somewhat intact, but neither of them wanted to test out the floor-- yet...
"So what should we look for?" Akane asked.
Ukyou shrugged. "I'm not sure, hon. We found our way around last week easily enough. Maybe if we're lucky enough, something will drop in on us."
No sooner than it had been spoken, the ceiling above them started to crumble away charred gyprock, in a distinct pattern.
Ukyou and Akane looked at each other. Both of them knew the pattern quite well.
"Footsteps?" Akane asked.
Ukyou nodded. "There's someone up there."
Ranma sat impatiently at the small table that he had become accustomed to over the past year. Usually, he was there to find out some secret of a long lost tribe of male warriors, or hear the legend behind the Phoenix Tribe. This time, he was merely waiting.
Mousse calmly swept the floor around the restaurant, as he HAD been doing for quite some time now. And the sheer fact that he seemed HAPPY doing it had made Ranma even more irritable.
"Must you do that?" he asked.
Mousse looked up and shot an expressionless smile in Ranma's direction. "I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about, Saotome."
Ranma gave a derisive snort. "You're just going around, sweeping and sweeping and sweeping. Do you have ANY idea how irritating that is?"
Mousse looked up in what appeared to be a genuine illustration of deep thought. It lasted all of three seconds before Mousse shrugged and replied, "Nope."
It didn't take him long to continue sweeping.
Ranma got up from his chair, muttering something about the true evil of brooms, and leaned against the wall. He tossed a casual glance up the stairs. Ryouga had long since gone back up the stairs to get more sleep, and had consequentially left Ranma downstairs with Mousse.
"You know," Mousse said. "The police will be checking here sooner or later."
Ranma nodded in assent. "We can get around that pretty easily," he replied. "Just need a fair warning."
Mousse stopped sweeping and looked directly at Ranma. "Fair warning."
Ranma blinked. "Huh?"
Mousse jabbed his thumb towards the front door, just as a deep rapping came to it. Ranma's eyes widened in surprise. "You couldn't tell me SOONER?" he exclaimed.
Mousse shrugged as he went off to open the door. "I like seeing you squirm."
Ukyou kept herself pressed tightly against the wall while Akane hid at the end of the hallway, awaiting her signal. The two of them had easily made it up the stairwell without alerting the other occupant of the restaurant to their presence.
Now, it was up to Ukyou to get a visual of the stranger and find out who it is.
Ukyou paid attention to every part of the floor that could make so much as a creak, and stepped over it. She avoided every possible obstacle, and before long, she essentially was invisible.
She made her way to the doorway where the noise was coming from, and took a quick peek around the corner. The person was fully visible to her now, and was kneeling on the ground, looking at something Ukyou couldn't see yet.
But the figure was male. Around thirty years old, and wearing an Italian suit, complete with the leather shoes, and even greased back hair. She couldn't see his face yet, but she was more interested in finding out what HE was so interested in.
She silently moved into the room, making sure not to betray any sound, and kept her back pressed against the wall.
Her first mistake was to get careless. Her second, was to assume that the wall was strong enough not to make any noise.
The man spun around in surprise and saw Ukyou. It took him all of two seconds to reach into his jacket and pull out a semi-automatic weapon, and train it's sights upon Ukyou.
It took Ukyou even less time to whip one of her throwing spatulas and knock the gun from his hands.
"What the hell?!" he exclaimed, grabbing his right hand. He kept an eye on Ukyou, watching for every movement, and then glanced back to his gun, which was lying on the floor a few feet away.
Ukyou kept her eyes narrowed. She wasn't going to allow him even a CHANCE to get the gun. She'd already been shot once, and wasn't even going to CONSIDER being shot again.
She sneered. "Don't even try it, scumbag," she said. "Akane!"
It only took Akane a moment to enter the room, and look around. She noticed the gun on the floor, with Ukyou's throwing spatula only a foot away from it, and then looked at the expressions on the faces of both Ukyou and the stranger.
"What the heck happened?" she asked.
"What are you girls doing here?" the man asked.
"Don't you think we're wondering the same about you?" Ukyou sneered.
The man looked at the both of them and smiled. Slowly, he reached into his jacket once again.
"Hey! Keep 'em where we can see 'em!" Ukyou exclaimed, obviously not intending it to sound so corny.
The man kept one hand out in the open, and continued to reach into his jacket, slowly, he pulled something back out.
Ukyou visibly relaxed when she saw it wasn't another gun. It was... a wallet? Did this guy think they were trying to rob him?
The man quickly flipped his wallet open, displaying a golden shield. "Inspector Osamu Iwazaki, Aoyama Precinct."
Akane's eyes shot open to the size of saucer plates. Ukyou, on the other hand blushed a deep red.
"Err..." Ukyou began. "Uhh... Sorry, I thought--"
The Inspector visibly relaxed and tucked his wallet back into his pocket. "Now.... could you tell me what you're doing here?"
"Well... Our... friend was involved with the explosion," Akane began. "We just... came to see if we could find anything."
"Oh? You're a friend of Rin Tosaka?" he asked, raising a speculative eyebrow.
"Yeah," Ukyou interrupted. "We need to see if she left any clues to where she is..."
The Inspector reached down to the ground and picked up his gun, attaching it back to the holster under his jacket. "You likely won't find anything," he said. "We've gone through this place rather thoroughly."
"Then what were you doing here?" Akane asked.
The Inspector smiled. "You never know, right?" he said. "Now, if you girls will excuse me, I'll be going."
He made his way past Ukyou and Akane and made his way down the stairs. "Oh, you shouldn't really be in here either, girls. I'd suggest you leave before the demolition team comes by tomorrow," he called as he left their sight.
"Well, THAT was embarrassing," Ukyou claimed.
Akane looked into the room and frowned. "What was he doing in here?"
"I dunno, I came in and he was looking at something. Down on the--" she paused as her eyes caught what the man was looking at. Or through, rather.
"Is that Ryouga's pack?"
"Mr. umm... Mousse?" the police officer asked at the doorway.
"Yes?" Mousse asked, adjusting his glasses.
"I'm Lieutenant Kojiro with the Nerima Police? I've been asked in conjunction with the Aoyama and Inner Tokyo Police to go around looking for any place that Ranma Saotome or Ryouga Hibiki might be hiding. Would you mind terribly if I came in to take a look around?"
Mousse frowned. "I suppose," he said. "But try not to make a mess."
Lieutenant Kojiro bowed. "Of course not," he said. "It won't take but a moment, Mr. Mousse."
Mousse moved to one side and allowed the police officer in. "Please," he said.
"Is there anyone besides you in the restaurant right now, Mr. Mousse?" he asked, giving a quick scan of the area.
"There's just me, my pet pig, and--"
"MOUSSE-HONEY!" the shrill voice called as it tackled Mousse against the wall. "Why are you taking so long? You KNOW I miss you!"
Lieutenant Kojiro let a bead of nervous sweat run down his face as he witnessed the spectacle before him. The girl was quite obviously Mousse's wife, or girlfriend... or... something.
"What the HELL are you doing?!" Mousse exclaimed, pushing the girl off of him. "Are you CRAZY?!"
The girl backed away for a moment and began to sniffle. "But... Mousse-honey... How could you say that to me after last night? After I spent the night in YOUR bed!"
Lieutenant Kojiro began to sweat profusely.
"What are you SAYING?!" Mousse shot back.
The girl ran over to Mousse again and twirled her finger around Mousse's chest. "Mousse-honey... Didn't you like last night?"
"WELL!" Lieutenant Kojiro said, a little louder than he should have, nodding at the restaurant. "Everything looks to be in order around here, Mr. Mousse. I don't think I'll have to worry about Saotome popping up around here... Sorry to have bothered you. Mr. Mousse. Miss." He bowed, backing out of the restaurant.
Mousse blinked. "Hey, wait! She's not--"
Ranma took this opportunity to grab hold of Mousse's collar, and stare him into silence as the police officer pulled out in his car.
When Ranma let go, Mousse glared at him. "What the HELL was that all about, Saotome?"
Ranma simply winked at him. "I like seeing you squirm."
The rooftop had been easily accessible. It was merely carrying Ryouga's pack that had slowed them down. Still, they had easily been able to keep up with the 'Inspector'.
"What kind of Inspector walks back to the police station?" Ukyou asked, carrying Ryouga's incredibly heavy pack.
Akane nodded. "Or leaves evidence behind, just as he's been looking at it."
Following the Inspector had proved to be no problem whatsoever, and even as he had crossed the street, Ukyou and Akane had made their way across by going over the power lines. With their balance, it was a very menial task. Still, with Ukyou carrying Ryouga's pack, and Akane's limit with her skills, it was a bit harder than one would have imagined.
But they made it, just in time to see the Inspector walk into a large restaurant.
Scrambling to the ground, they found the best place to stand in order to spy inside, which happened to be while hanging off the ledge of the second floor, and staring in through the plate glass window.
"Ahh, Shuji. Welcome!" the old, burly man said, pulling out a chair. "Find anything?"
Shuji nodded. "Yes sir," he said. "A fairly recent photograph of the girl, and this." He pulled a small cuff link from his pocket. "The police must have overlooked it. I also found the boys pack, but I was... interrupted before I could take it. Still, it was heavy enough that I doubt I could have taken it."
The man took the cufflink and examined it. "I see," he said. "Anything else?"
Shuji looked over his shoulder for a moment and smiled. Akane gasped as Shuji made eye contact with her.
"Those two?" the man asked, gesturing towards the two faces hanging upside down off the second floor ledge of the restaurant.
It didn't take much to get Ukyou and Akane inside. The two men hanging out of the windows on the second floor with guns trained on the two made it even easier. Ukyou had no time to defend, and Akane wasn't even aware of it until she was pulled into the window.
"Mr. Miyazaki would like to meet with you," the man with the gun said, packing it into his jacket. Obviously he meant no harm, but Ukyou still didn't like it. The men gestured the two of them to walk down the stairs, but left Ukyou her weapon. It was confusing at first, but Akane soon understood.
As they approached the main floor of the restaurant, Akane caught a good look of the man. He was slightly overweight, balding, and in his late forties, at least. He stood up and smiled warmly as the two of them approached the table.
"Welcome!" he exclaimed, gesturing towards two empty spots on the cushion. "Please, have a seat."
Ukyou sneered at the man. "Why should we?"
Akane sneered as well, but at the 'Inspector'. "A Police Officer, eh?"
Still, Ukyou and Akane took a reluctant seat at the table.
"Now, I believe introductions are in order," the older man said, smiling. "My name is Kintaro Miyazaki." He bowed politely and smiled at the two of them.
"Yeah, and?" Ukyou said. Looking over at the other man, she frowned. "And I'm willing to put money on the fact that your name isn't Osamu Iwazaki?"
"Osamu Iwazaki?" Kintaro laughed. "What HAVE you been telling them, Shuji?"
Shuji smirked. "They surprised me and managed to get the gun out of my hands. I had to tell them something."
Kintaro raised an eyebrow. "Indeed?" He looked at the two girls. "Well you must have been taken aback by their beauty. This, girls, is my most trusted associate, Shuji Kowichi."
Shuji then bowed in introduction.
"Look, is there a point to all this? Are you gonna kill us or not, 'cause if so, you've got another thing coming," Ukyou said, her eyes trained on any swift movement.
Kintaro broke out into laughter. "KILL you? Why would we do that? You know, you should be nicer to me! I am a very important man!"
"Oh yeah? What are you, the spokesperson for the International Coalition for Chocolate Lovers?" Akane quipped.
Kintaro laughed once again. "On the contrary, my dear Akane," he smiled upon seeing Akane's eyes widen. "I'm the Oyabun for the local Gumi here in Aoyama."
Ukyou blinked in surprise. "How did--"
"How did I know her name, Ms. Kuonji?" Kintaro smiled. "Both of you were all over the news for the past few days. It's kind of hard not to know your names. Now what I would like to know... Is how you're involved with our friendly neighborhood bombing."
Akane narrowed her eyes. This man was an Oyabun, which meant she had to watch herself. "First you tell us your involvement," she said.
The Oyabun smiled. "Fair enough." He leaned back a bit. "We had nothing to do with it. In fact, we're looking for the person who WAS behind it. You see, we protect businesses around here, and having this happen to one of our clients... well... you see, it's bad for business, and we intend to deal with it."
"You were extorting the Tosakas?" Ukyou asked.
"Bah!" Kintaro frowned. "Extortion is such a harsh word! I prefer to call it... providing a service. Our rates are quite low, and, believe it or not, we're quite civil about it."
"Wait, you said you're looking for the person behind this... you mean... Ryouga?"
Shuji spoke up at the mention of Ryouga's name. "That's him. I've seen him in that restaurant before. Do you know where he is?"
"Hey!" Ukyou exclaimed. "Ryouga's not at fault here! He didn't do this!"
"The police are hunting him down now, he's on the run, and you say he's not behind this?" Shuji asked.
"Look here, sugar. Ryouga can barely find his way around a one room apartment. You expect him to find his way around bomb making?"
Kintaro raised an eyebrow. "So, it's true? Ranma Saotome is... connected somehow with Hibiki?"
Akane looked over to the Oyabun and nodded. "Yes, but Ryouga didn't do this. He saw the man who did, and even tried to STOP it, but he DIDN'T do it."
Shuji dropped a small gold and silver cufflink in front of Akane, which bore a single roman letter.
The letter Y.
"Do you know what this is?" Kintaro asked.
Akane picked the cufflink up and looked at it. "I don't... But I may know someone who does."
Kintaro clapped his hands together. "Splendid! Then if what you say is true, and Hibiki DIDN'T do this, then we're another step closer to the man who really DID do this!"
"We?" Ukyou asked.
"Of course... I've got to protect my investments, correct?" He smiled. "Shuji, you'll accompany them, of course?"
Shuji nodded with a smile. "Of course, Mr. Miyazaki."
Akane blinked. The Yakuza were going to help them? "Mr. Miyazaki?"
"Please, one so pretty as you can call me Kintaro!"
"Well... What will you do?"
"Well, when we find the man responsible?"
Kintaro sighed. "Well, Akane, dear... I suppose we'll leave that up to you..."