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A Life Once Lived/7

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Chapter Seven: Dilemma of the Golden Edge Part One Edit

Kinami sighed as she stepped into the car. All was right now. Ranma was no longer a cat, two more people learned of Ranma's secret, and it was late. Nabiki got into the car and turned the key.

Kinami smiled and waved goodbye to the small collection of people that had gathered at the gates of the Tendo home. Kasumi and Tofu were there, just about to leave. Ranma, Soun and Mousse were speaking to them. The only ones to wave back were Kasumi and Mousse. Kinami sighed again.

A soft laugh escaped the Nabiki's lips. She turned to see an amused smile on her friends face.

"What?"

Nabiki shook her head, visibly amused. "You like him."

A blush soon consumed Kinami's face. "No I don't. He's just... A nice guy."

"Even though he was going to kill us?"

Kinami lost the blush in order to argue. "That wasn't him! You even said so yourself earlier! That was not Mousse!"

Nabiki smiled and looked at her dead in the eyes. "Gotcha."

Kinami's blush grew again. "I.. Uhh.. It doesn't matter anyways, I've got Genken."

Nabiki laughed out loud. "That freak? Are you kidding me? I thought you called it quits with him!"

"Well, I was going to...", she put on a mock smile, "But then he promised--"

"Promised that he wouldn't do it again, right?", Nabiki finished.

Kinami looked at her friend and nodded. She knew what was going to come next.

"Look, jerks like that don't keep those kind of promises. Goddamn it Kinami! You're a better fighter than he is, and you still let him wipe the floor with you!"

"But I lo--"

"No, you don't. He just makes you think you do. Listen to me Kinami, people like that don't change easily. How many times has he promised you the same thing?"

"Well--"

"Countless times. What makes you think this time is any different?"

"He promised!"

"He always promises. I'm telling you Kinami, I can only help you so much. But you've got to take the first step!"

"I--"

"Oh my god.", Nabiki gasped as they pulled up to the restaurant.

"What?"

Nabiki could only answer by pointing out the window, at the front door of the restaurant. Standing in front of the restaurant, looking seriously annoyed and randomly banging on the door was the man they were talking about. It was Genken.


"Genken? What's wrong?", Kinami asked, stepping up to her boyfriend.

"Kinami? What the hell? I thought you were inside...", he began, suspiciously eyeing Nabiki.

"I'll be inside", Nabiki said, opening the door.

Genken watched until she opened the door and closed it, then a few seconds later began to speak to his girlfriend again.

"Where the hell were you?", he asked.

Kinami answered defensively. "We were at a friends place."

"Which friend? Do I know them?"

"Nabiki's fathers house."

"What were you doing there?"

"Look, Genken, I don't see--"

"WHAT WERE YOU DOING THERE?"

"An old friend of Nabiki's needed help!", she shot back defensively.

"I thought you said you were at her father's house!"

"We were, thats where--"

"No!", he interupted, "Something fishy is going on here. You're lying to me, aren't you?"

"No, Genken, I--"

"AREN'T YOU?!"

"NO!"

"What the hell? After all I've done for you, you treat me like this? Don't you know your place, girl?"

"Genken, I was only--"

"SHUTUP!", he said, lashing out to hit her. Kinami dodged easily, which left Genken a little more than mad.

"Genken, I didn't--"

"SHUTUP BITCH! YOU'RE LYING TO ME!", he punched again, this time connecting with her side, sending her bending over. He then proceeded to pound her several times in the shoulder.

"Genken!", Kinami cried, "Stop it! I didn't--"

"Shutup I said!", then he stopped hitting her. "Goddamn it! See what you make me do? If you'd just be more truthful, this wouldn't happen!"

Choking between sobs, she tried to continue, "I was telling the tru--"

"Don't lie anymore!", he snapped, "It'll only make things worse."

Kinami could only sob. It was at this moment that Nabiki could stand it no longer. She burst out of the restaurant and started to yell.

"Get the hell out of her Genken, before I call the police!"

Genken snapped back at her, "You don't want to mess with me, girl... This is a private matter!"

"I've messed with people worse than you and come out on top!"

Genken laughed, "I'd like to see that happen with me, bitch."

"Get the hell out of here Genken. I'm warning you--"

Genken jumped towards her, "No, I'm warning YOU, bitch. You don't want to mess with me. I'll shoot you in the fucking head and leave you to...", he stopped and laughed for a moment, "Damn, bitch. You're not even worth it.", he turned towards Kinami, "I'll be back tomorrow. Be ready.", and with that said, he left.

Nabiki waited for him to leave her sight, and then proceeded to help Kinami up from the sobbing mess she was in on the ground.

"See what I mean, Kinami?", she pleaded.

"It's my fault, I--"

"You what? You lied? You told him the truth, Kinami. He doesn't trust you, he hits you. I'm willing to bet anything he thinks you're screwing around on him!"

"I'm not."

"I know you're not. If you're not with him, you're with me. He's a monster, Kinami. He may not look it, but he is a MONSTER."

"Nabiki, I can't deal with it."

"You could have dodged those punches easily. The only reason I didn't come out earlier is because I thought you would have stood up for yourself. He needs to be taught a lesson. And if you don't do it, I'm going to get someone who--"

"NO!", she screamed. "I'll take care of it myself. Mousse doesn't need to know about it!"

Nabiki stood silent for a minute before continuing. "Kinami. Mousse will know about it. I'm not going to tell him, but he will know. And so will Ranma."

Kinami looked her friend in the eye as she helped her inside the Restaurant. "Genken has something coming to him. He deserves it."

"I said I'll take care of him myself."

"Whatever, lets just take care of that shoulder okay?"

Kinami looked at her friend and nodded.


"What?! They're WHAT?!", Ranma asked.

Mousse chuckled. "I suppose we should have told you right away. They'll probably be here around 7:00..."

"But, what about me?!"

"They don't know about you yet, Ranma", Soun informed him. "But it will be hard to hide."

"My parents are coming here. They'll be here in..", he glanced at the time, "Thirty minutes, and you choose _NOW_ to tell me?"

"Well, we never really thought about it last night after you 'came back'..."

"But thirty minutes?"

"Well, we could prepare. It _IS_ daytime, so you will be a bit harder to hide, especially to a martial artist like your father."

"I could go out again...", Ranma suggested.

"I wouldn't do that. It was enough of a risk for you to go out yesterday, which was a business day. There weren't many people out on the streets. But today is a bad idea."

"So what am I supposed to do? Go up to my parents and say 'Hi'?"

"Why not?", Mousse suggested.

"Eh?"

"Why not? They don't have to know its you. We could just say your an old friend of mine."

"And what about when they ask about you?"

"Well, I don't have any problem with them knowing I'm alive."

"But what if they ask about me?"

"We tell them the truth. Ranma Saotome died five years ago at the hands of Kenoru."

"But--"

"Just relax. I'll just say your a friend of mine from China, the costume is for religious purposes. They won't question it."

"But my voice..."

"You his from your mother in plain sight, Ranma. Your father notices crap."

"Yes, and his sister never met him before, so--"

"Whoa!", Mousse interupted. "Sister?"

"Yeah. Apparently I've got one now."

Mousse shook his head, "Wow. Complications up the wazoo."

"Anyways, lets prepare. Umm, won't Ranma need a name?"

"Good point. Uhh. Wonton?"

"I'm not a dog-man."

"Oh right. How about a Joketsuzoku name, it would make the story more believable."

Ranma shrugged. "I guess, as long as its nothing to do with cosmetics."

Mousse laughed. "Believe it or not, thats not intentional."

"Oh sure, with names like Cologne, Shampoo, Perfume, Lotion and Mousse I'm supposed to believe that?"

"Okay, fine. Lets scratch that idea."

"Look, just call me Hiruken, and we'll leave it at that."

Mousse shrugged. "Okay."

"Theres not going to be a class today, is there?"

"No, but remember Akane said that they would stop by today sometime."

"Yeah, god I hope its not until later. Otherwise I'll have to hide in plain sight as Hiruken."

"Well, hopefully there won't be any surprises later on."

"Hopefully."


Ukyou couldn't believe her eyes. She had expected to go to the restaurant, and then slowly work her way back into the lives of her friends, but standing not three feet away from her in the crowded train, were the parents of Ranma Saotome.

"Ukyou?", Genma asked, adjusted his glasses.

Nodoka smiled and cradled a child in her arms. She looked to be about four years old, with red hair and alot of Ranma-like features.

"H-hi Mr. Saotome... Mrs. Saotome...", she replied.

"Well, I'll be!", Genma bellowed, "Ukyou's come back to Nerima!"

Ukyou feigned a smile. This would be harder than she had originally planned. She decided to turn her attention to the child in Nodoka's arms.

"Hello", she smiled, "And who might you be?"

The child seemed shy for the most part, and hugged her mother tighter.

Nodoka smiled and began to speak. "It's okay, Ranko. This is your Auntie Ukyou."

Ranko managed a small smile and a very meek, "Hi." To Ukyou.

Ukyou laughed. At least, as much as she could manage, and began to speak again. "Ranma's little sister?"

Nodoka nodded, and then let her smile drop for a moment.

"He must be proud.", Ukyou continued with a smile. This brought the attention of both parents directly on Ukyou. Genma stared at her, jaw to the floor.

"What?", she asked.

"Ukyou, you mean.. You don't know?", Genma asked.

"Know what?", Ukyou did not like what was being implied.

Nodoka tried her best to keep a straight face, and began to inform Ukyou of the events that had transpired five years earlier.

Three stops later, Ukyou couldn't speak. She was too shocked. Ranma was dead, something she had never expected in a million years. And killed no less, by a martial artist.

She shook her head. It wasn't possible. Ranma always survived. He would always find some way out. He couldn't be dead.

Genma adjusted his glasses and continued, "I'm sorry, Ukyou. We thought you knew."

Ukyou felt like running away. She had to. It wasn't right.

She shot her head up and fixed a gaze on a spot on the train window. *No.*, she told herself. *I've come too far. Ranma's dead, but there were other reasons I was coming back. To make peace. To help run the restaurant alongside Nabiki, if such a thing was possible. I can't turn back now.*

"I'm sorry. I should have stayed in contact. It's just...", she shook her head, choking back a tear. "I came back to make peace with Akane and the others."

Genma managed to put a hand on her shoulder. "It's alright Ukyou.", he said, caringly.



The knock came rather suddenly, but not unexpected to the trained ears of those at the Tendo home.

"Is it them?", Ranma asked, looking at the time. "They're a bit early."

"I don't think so. They don't have a car, do they Mr. Tendo?", Mousse asked.

Soun shook his head. "No."

"Then its someone else."

"AKANE?", Ranma asked.

"No, her car sounds a little out of shape, this one sounds new."

Soun stepped up to the door and peeked through the window.

"What is _HE_ doing here?", Soun asked.

"Who?"

Soun opened the door.

"Yes?", he asked.

"Ahh, the honourable Soun Tendo. I come here seeking the answer to a question I have recently been fixated with."

Ranma groaned quietly. He had expected Kuno to come looking for him after what had happened yesterday, but the timing was _WAY_ off.

"I'll take care of it", Ranma said, stepping to the door. "What do you want, Kuno?"

Kuno gazed deep into Ranma's eyes, seeming to be looking for something.

"Then it is true.", he said. "Ranma Saotome has come back from the pits of hell."

"So you finally believe me, now?"

"Indeed.", he looked down. "I apologize for my past misdeeds against you. Although," he looked up again. "I wish to know the methods which have brought you back amongst the living."

"Hey Kuno!", Mousse waved from inside the house.

It took Kuno a moment to realize who was waving at him. His eyes widened, and jaw dropped. "Mousse as well? How have you done this, Saotome? Were you truly dead as thought, or were you merely masquerading?"

Ranma shook his head. "If I explain, do you promise not to try and attack me again?"

Kuno nodded, "After the events that transpired yesterday, I will have to agree."

Ranma let Kuno in and took him to sit down in the tea room. Five minutes later, he had finished explaining what had happened.

"So. You were truly dead.", Kuno lowered his gaze.

Ranma could only nod.

"It is unfortunate that I had realized my misdeeds only after you had perished. But it is even more unfortunate that you had perished at all.", he stood up, "You may include me in any plans to avenge your death. And I will provide the way of travel."

All three of them perked up. "What?"

Kuno nodded, "It is the least one can do to repay."

All three of them smiled, "Are you serious?"

"Yes. I will make the necessary preparations."

Ranma was speechless. He knew Kuno could be nice when he wanted to, but this was too much. The only thing he could say was, "Thanks."

Kuno nodded and smiled.


Ukyou walked down the road, thinking. Even after having heard the horrible news of Ranma's death from his own father, she found it extremely hard to accept.

Genma and Nodoka had offered to bring Ukyou with them while they went to the dojo. Genma had said somebody was having trouble with the Cat-Fist technique and wanted to go and help out.

Ukyou scoffed as much as she could under the current circumstances. When did that old goat ever help with anything? During the course of his life, he made it almost a religion to complicate Ranma's life further. From Amazon Fiancees to the Cat-Fist, and several other instances. Even his curse. All Genma's fault.

Ukyou shook her head. There was no point in placing blame on anyone but herself. He had been dead five years. Five years. She could have done something if she had still been around. Gone with Mousse, Shampoo and Ranma. Maybe at least Ranma would have survived if she had gone along. As it was, Shampoo only remained of the group.

Ukyou thought a bit harder. She knew from what Genma had told her that a man named Kenoru was the man who killed Ranma. She could try and hunt down this man, and exact her revenge through her own methods. Kenoru probably wouldn't suspect her until the last moment, and by then it would be too late. If only she could--

She stopped. Blinked twice and realized where she stood. She had unconsciously walked right into her restaurant, and found herself standing in the middle of the floor.


Kinami looked confusedly at the woman who had just walked in. She carried a guitar case over one shoulder, and a fairly heavy pack on the other. It looked like she was ready to move in.

"Can I help you?", Kinami asked. "We don't actually open for about 5 minutes."

"Oh. Uhhh.. I'm sorry, I guess I wasn't thinking about where I was going."

Kinami nodded, "Oh thats fine. I guess I should have locked the door last night anyways."

The woman gave a quick confused look and decided to sit at the table.

"So, what can I get for you?", Kinami asked.

"Well, actually... I'm looking for someone."

"Oh? Well, you may have to wait a little while.. As I said, we don't open till seven, and the regulars show up about 15 past."

"Well, Actually I'm looking for someone who I _THINK_ may still work here."

Kinami thought for a moment. "Well... I'm the only worker, there was another guy a few months ago named Tarou, is he who you're looking for?"

The woman blinked. "Pantyhose Tarou?"

Kinami nodded. "Funny name eh? Was he who you were looking for?"

The woman shook her head. "Uhh, no... I'm looking for Nabiki Tendo."

"OH!", she exclaimed, "Nabiki! Sure, she's probably still sleeping... We were up pretty late last night. I'll call her."

"Great, I was worried she might have--"

"NABIKI!!!!!!", she yelled at the top of her lungs. A moment later, a loud, audible thud was heard upstairs, and the woman was busily trying to stop the ringing in her ears.

"Sorry, we don't have any way to communicate other than that."

"I see.", she nodded.

"So anyways, my names Kinami Yabui, Resident chef here at Ucchan's fine diner!", she bowed.

"Uhhh... I'm Ucchan.", the woman replied.

Not quite getting it, Kinami gave the woman a confused look. "Eh?"

Ukyou managed a short laugh, temporarily forgetting what she had been told earlier, and was about to speak when an audible gasp was heard from the door leading to the stairs.


Nabiki gasped. It was the only thing she could do for the time being. She had not expected Ukyou to show up now of all times, but there she was, sitting at the grill bar talking to Kinami.

Nabiki thought she would be happy to see Ukyou again after so long, but she found herself becoming increasingly annoyed.

"Great!", she shouted to nobody in particular, "Who next? Kirin? Prince Toma? How about Herb?"

Ukyou remained visibly stunned by Nabiki's explosion, while Kinami just let her jaw drop to the floor.

"Uhh, Nabs?", Kinami asked.

Nabiki shook her head. "Sorry Ukyou, but since yesterday morning my life has been filled with reunions and surprises. You were kind of unexpected."

"Yeah, I know what you mean. I got an interesting surprise when I arrived here. What kind of surprises did you get?"

Kinami chose this moment to but in, "Oh, well, first these Yakuza freaks showed up and tried to extort more money out of Nabiki, then Ra--"

Nabiki unnoticedly placed her hand over Kinami's mouth. "Nothing!", she shouted, recieving some teeth from Kinami.

"What?", Ukyou asked.

"I uhh..", Kinami continued. "Well... Uhhh... You see.. I uhh...."

Nabiki shook her head. "It doesn't matter, what surprise did you get?"

"Oh.", Ukyou looked towards the floor. "I found out about.. Ranma.."

"Whoa!", Nabiki yelled, "You mean you didn't know?"

Ukyou shook her head. "No. I was in Africa for a few years, then I spent last year in Los Angeles."

"America?", Kinami asked. "Is that anywhere near San Fransisco?"

Ukyou nodded, "Not far. Why?"

"Hey!", Kinami yelled, "What a coincidence! We're going there ourselves!"

Ukyou smiled. "Vacation?"

"No, we're helping Ra--", she began before getting cut off by Nabiki.

"We're uhh... Helping.. uhh.."

"Nabiki...", Ukyou frowned. "I know somethings up, you might as well tell me before I get it out of someone else."

"I.. uhh..."

"Whatever.", she turned towards Kinami. "You tell me."

Kinami smiled and nodded. "We're helping out with avenging Ranma's death. A bunch of us martial artists are getting together to put this Kenoru guy out of commision."

Ukyou looked confused. "You sound like you knew him."

"Well, I've only known him a day, but I think I've got the basics sorted out."

"Wow, you only knew him a day? And you're helping out?", Ukyou shook her head. "Count me in."

An audible groan was heard from Nabiki, when the question came about. "Can you pay for yourself?"

Ukyou smiled. "Yeah, no problem."

Nabiki smiled and went about her work.

"So who else is going to come along?"

Kinami picked up the question really quick. "Well, theres me, Nabiki, Mr. Tendo, Mousse, Ranma, Ryouga might come, And now you..."

Ukyou mentally tallied the names in her head when something clicked.

"What?", she asked, noting the look on Nabiki's face like the proverbial cat had been let out of the bag.

Kinami also noted what she had said, but assumed that she already knew Ranma had come back, but was just taking it very well.

"Uhh...", she replied.

"Mousse and Ranma?"

"Uhhh... Well, Mousse never really died, Ukyou.", Nabiki replied. "We only found that out yesterday."

"Ranma?"

"Well... He did die, but something... Happened. Its really hard to explain."

"Explain.", she said as she put her guitar case on the stool next to her.

Nabiki noted the shape of the guitar case and immediately knew what was contained within, as she started to explain.

A minute later, after a brief, but thourough explanation of the events of the day earlier, including the cat-fist the previous night, Ukyou stared at the wall, in complete shock.

"Impossible.", she began.

"Genma only thinks its someone else under the Cat-fist."

Ukyou shook her head. "How is he?"

"He's still Ranma, but he has become a bit... Distant."

"How do you mean?"

"It's too hard to explain, you'd have to see for yourself."

"At the dojo?"

"Yes."

"Can you close the restaurant for the day?"

Nabiki thought for a moment. She would go out of business soon if she didn't keep the restaurant going, but this was important. Kinami wouldn't stay behind either. She nodded.

"Hey, I'm coming along too, right?", Kinami asked.

Ukyou gave her a quick look. "Hows your shoulder?"

"Eh?"

"Your shoulder is injured, are you going to be okay to come with us?"

Kinami blushed for a moment and then fixed her face. "Yes.", she said blankly. "I'll be fine."


"SAOTOME!", Soun exclaimed.

"TENDO!", Genma replied.

The two men immediately hugged and proceeded walk into the house. Nodoka and Ranko soon followed.

However, Genma and Nodoka both stopped dead in their tracks as son as they saw the two other occupants.

The man in the mask gave a half-hearted, disinterested wave, while the other put a meek smile on his face and greeted the two. "Hello Mr. Saotome, Mrs. Saotome."

"Mousse? Glory be, son! How.. Why... HOW?!"

"Well, the long and short of the matter is that I survived."

Genma adjusted his glasses and fixed them on the man standing next to Mousse. A Bit tall to be Ranma, he thought to himself, and continued with his next question.

"So Ranma is..."

Both of the men nodded. Mousse spoke. "Yes, he did die. I'm sorry."

Genma shook his head. "No need to son, he died with honour." Mousse nodded.

Genma laughed and proceeded to pat Mousse on the back roughly. "So, who's this?", he asked.

"This is a friend of mine from China."

"Glad to meet you, son.", Genma shook his hand. He pulled his face over towards Mousse and whispered something to him about his friends apparel.

Mousse nodded. "Hiruken is from a neighbouring village. His people have strict laws about letting themselves be seen or heard outside of their homeland. So you won't hear him speak or see his face while he's here."

Genma nodded in understanding. "I see. Well, its still nice to meet you, boy.", he turned back towards his wife. "Mousse, I'm sure you know Nodoka, and this here is Ranko."

Mousse laughed. "The resemblance to Ranma's girl half is uncanny!"

"You noticed it too, eh?", Genma laughed.

"So," he continued. "Hiruken, are you the one who was under the Cat-Fist?"

'Hiruken' nodded as a reply. Genma looked him over and smiled, "Nasty technique, isn't it? If I had known its side-effects, I never would have taught it to Ranma. Still, the Cat-fist got us out a quite a few nasty situations I'm not sure we would have survived otherwise."

Soun smiled and invited his friend over to their usual seat by the Go board as Genma excused himself without another word. Leaving Nodoka and Mousse to talk.

"So Mousse, how is Shampoo these days?", Nodoka asked.

"Well, actually, Shampoo is in San Fransisco right now to the best of my knowledge. I haven't really spoken to her. She still thinks I'm dead."

Nodoka 'tsked' and shook her her head. "Thats too bad. I was almost certain you two would have gotten together."

Mousse nodded. "So was I at one time."

Nodoka let a restless Ranko go from her arms to roam around the dojo for a little bit as she continued. "So, what have you been doing to keep yourself busy?"

Mousse went wide-eyed for a moment and looked towards the floor. Trying his best to keep a straight face. "Oh, this and that."

"Thats nice."

"Who are you?", Ranko asked the masked man, seemingly unafraid.

"Ranko, thats not nice.", her mother scolded her, "This nice man is Hiruken."

Ranko smiled and extended her hand to shake. "I'm Ranko!"

The costumed man nodded and extended his hand in reply. A smile was scarcely visible under his cowl.


Ranma enjoyed it. He really did. Well, the introduction his sister had just given him, that is. Not the rest. It reminded him too much of his past where he was masquerading around as Ranko.

Here he was, not only hising his identity in front of his Mother, but his Father and new sister as well.

Well, his sister was hardly new. She was, after all, four years old. But from his viewpoint, she was _NEW_.

After he had finished shaking hands, she smiled and looked into Ranma's eyes. "Want to play?", she asked.

The surprising thing was, that Ranma actually _WANTED_ to. He wanted to be in close corners with his family as long as humanly possible. Maybe even longer.

He nodded and proceeded to get up to go play with Ranko in the corner.

"Ranko," her mother called, "Don't go far.", she said with a smile.

Ranko nodded and pulled Ranma into the corner to play with a small assortment of toys that had been collected there specifically for the purpose of little Ranma & Ranko's amusement.

Ranma then began to play with his four year old sister.


"Will she be okay with him?", Nodoka whispered to Mousse.

Mousse smiled and nodded. "Oh sure, he wouldn't hurt her any more than he'd hurt his own sister."

Nodoka then continued to smile and nod. She wasn't one hundred percent sure the laws of his village pertaining to harming family, but it would have to do for the time being.

The knock then interupted the conversation. Nodoka offered to get up and answer the door, but it opened by itself after a moment. Nabiki walked in and looked stunned for a moment to see Nodoka, then smiled.

"Oh, hello Nabiki.", Nodoka greeted.

"Hello Mrs. Saotome. How are you?"

"Oh I'm fine. Do you have Ukyou with you?"

Ukyou meekly walked in and smiled. "Hello again Mrs. Saotome."

Nodoka smiled in return, "Hello again, Ukyou. It's nice to see you're smiling again."

"Hey, Mrs. Saotome!", Kinami greeted.

"Oh my, its just one big reunion here, isn't it? Hello Kinami!"

Kinami walked into the room and proceeded to sit next to Mousse at the table, as everyone sat. Ukyou gave several detached looks in the direction of Ranko and 'Hiruken'. And then noticed Soun looking blankly at her.

"Ukyou? Is that you?", Soun asked.

Genma turned around and smiled, "Hey Ukyou, looks like you made it here after all!"

Soun returned his look to Genma. "You knew she was here?"

"Of course, we met her on the train. We were going to tell you, but we wanted to make it a surprise."

"Well, it _WAS_ a surprise!"


Ranma could only stare. The past day or so had been filled with Reunions and confrontations. But he had thought the last of the reunions until they arrived in San Fransisco had been done. He was wrong.

From the looks he was getting from Ukyou, she knew who he was. He would have to talk to Nabiki about that afterwards. Even though he almost knew it was Kinami who had revealed it.

The look he was getting from Ukyou was unsure. It could have been a look of shock, joy, adoration... He wasn't sure.

He decided it would be best to get Ukyou away from his family before she revealed something he didn't want revealed.


"Whats he still doing here?", Kinami asked.

Mousse suddenly clicked in on the situation. Neither of them knew the situation that was happening right now.

"Oh, Hiruken decided to stay for another day.", Mousse covered up, looking directly at Kinami. Nabiki caught on right away.

"Oh, isn't he expected back today though?", she continued.

They both got a confused look from Kinami. Ukyou, however was still totally intrigued in the man in the corner.

"What are you guys--", Kinami began, then recieved the looks of warning from both of them. "Oh, right.", she continued.

Mousse finally decided to say something about what he noticed the moment Kinami had walked into the room. "What happened to your shoulder?"

Kinami looked down and replied, "I uhh.. Bashed it on the corner of a table when I tripped."

Mousse didn't need the look from Nabiki, or even the sound of Kinami's voice to tell him she was lying. He knew it was impossible to hurt the back of ones shoulder while falling forward towards a table. And even still, she was good enough a martial artist to avoid hitting the table if necesary. Still, he decided not to push it until afterwards.

"Hey Ukyou, long time!", he greeted the woman sitting across from him, who was still staring in Ranma's direction.

Ukyou snapped back for a moment and smiled, "Oh sorry, hey Mousse. Hows it going?"

"Oh fine.", he continued, then decided it was futile since Ukyou had gone back to staring at Ranma.

"Umm... Hiruken, can I talk to you for a minute?", he asked the costumed man in the corner, then turned towards Ukyou. "You too. Excuse us, Mrs. Saotome. Kinami. Nabiki."

After recieving a nod from the three of them, he brought his two friends into a parallel room.


"Ranchan?", Ukyou asked.

The costumed figure meekly nodded. "Yeah. Hey, Ucchan."

The smile on Ukyou's face could not have grown wider. She wasted no time at all to take her friend and former fiance in a bear hug that would have put Genma out of commision.

Mousse chuckled for a moment. "It's a good thing I brought you guys in here.", he began, "Ukyou, you've got to stop staring at him like he's the center of attention. We're having a hard enough time already trying to hide his identity, and with his parents here, its going to be even harder."

Ukyou released her bear hug and meekly nodded. "I understand.", she replied.

Ranma chose this moment to say something. "Ucchan, its good to see you again, but he's right. We're in a sticky situation right now, and what we need to do is make this inconspicuous as possible. I promise we'll have time to talk afterwards, but for now I've got to lay low."

Ukyou nodded again. "Okay."

"Now, get out there and mingle. Chat. Do all that girl stuff!", Mousse intructed her. He recieved a playful punch in the arm as she departed. "I want to talk with you after as well, Mousse!", she smiled, and then ran out into the living room.

"So?", Ranma asked.

"What?"

"What do you think really happened to Kinami's shoulder?"

"Oh. That.", Mousse replied. "I don't know. But I know you can't damage your shoulder that easily."

"Obviously.. Nabiki seems to know something about it, should we ask her?"

"Is it really any of our business?"

"Well, she's hurt. And she's hiding that fact from us. Its safe to say she doesn't want us to know. But I still think somethings up."

"Yes.", Mousse nodded, "Past experiences have led me to believe that more may happen if we don't find out whats wrong."

"So, should we ask Nabiki?"

"Theres no guarantee that she'd tell us."

"A full on 'attack' of questions to Kinami would probably help her avoid the truth even more. We should work on it."

"Yes. You can't talk, so I'll talk to Nabiki."

"Agreed."


Moments later, Ranma had returned to his place in the 'toy corner' with Ranko, Ukyou was engaging in a steamy conversation with Nodoka and Kinami, and Mousse had pulled Nabiki out of the way long enough to talk with her.

"Nabiki, I've got yo ask you--"

"I can't tell you."

"What?"

"Kinami made me promise I wouldn't tell you guys. You've got to guess."

"I... Guess?"

"Yep."

Mousse shook his head. *At least she doesn't break promises straight out.*, he thought to himself.

"Okay, start guessing.", Nabiki said.

"Well, she's hurt. And I know its not from tripping and catching it on a table. Right?"

Nabiki nodded.

"Which leads me to believe that someone hurt her."

Nabiki nodded.

"Intentionally?"

Nabiki nodded.

"Someone I know?"

Nabiki shook her head.

"Was she attacked last night?"

Nabiki nodded.

"Mugged?"

Nabiki shook her head.

Mousse thought a bit harder. There were only a few more possibilites.

"Does she have a boyfriend?"

Nabiki nodded.

Mousse felt something inside him break for a moment, but ignored it and continued. "Did he do it?"

Nabiki placed her finger on her nose.

"Damn.", he muttered. "Its not the first time either, is it?"

"No."

Mousse shook his head. It wasn't his place to but in like this, but something inside of him seemed to be pushing him to. "Can you give me any more details?"

"She's had a boyfriend for about four months now. Genken...", she chuckled, "I still don't know his last name, and I doubt Kinami does either. But anyways, certain events that I'm not allowed to talk about have happened on and off, but without fail. The first was three months ago. She would come back from dates with a Black eye, a limp, one time she came home with blood soaked clothes. I thought she had finally broke it off with him about two weeks ago, because the incidents had stopped, and Kinami was becoming alot more energetic. But last night he showed up again."

"What happened?"

"I promised not to tell. But I can tell you this much. He's a martial artist. He thinks he shit-hot, but in truth, even Kinami could beat him. I've seen him fight before. Heck. Even Kuno could beat him. I don't mean this Kuno, I mean the old Kuno who studied Kendo."

Mousse nodded in understanding. He knew the type, he had done in a few of them before. Paid to do so by the fathers of the 'victims' and in some cases, the 'victims' themselves. It was the only part of his job he enjoyed. Something quickly clicked in his mind after the mention of Kuno that he had forgotten to tell Nabiki earlier.

"By the way. Looks like you won't have to worry about paying for us to get to San Fransisco..."

"Eh?"

"Kuno's flying us there."

Nabiki smiled and did an inward 'Yes!' as she continued.

"So, can you do anything about Genken?"

Mousse nodded. "I can. I won't kill him, but I'll certainly make him think twice before messing with Kinami again."

Nabiki smiled and gave a thank-you hug to Mousse, and then continued her way back into the tea room.

Mousse stood at the door for a moment looking at the sky, before deciding to go back inside.


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