Subject: [PMFFML] [FFML-R] (fanfic)(Ranma)Duck and Peaches...ch. 2-3(Again)
From: "Hans Holm" <hansholm@bredband.net>
Date: 3/17/2001, 6:54 AM
To: <ffmlrefuge@listbot.com>

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Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and co., and
there's nothing I can do about it. This is a copyright infringement and
my only hope is that she either likes the story, or doesn't find out.
 
I know virtually nothing about babies, and I'm too embarrassed to ask
those who do know.
 
C & C is appreciated, since it's the only indication
anybody reads this.
 
This takes place after the end of the manga, and about ten months after
Mousse's return (after training at Jusenkyo).
 
DUCK AND PEACHES AT THE FOOT OF FLOWER MOUNTAIN
 By Hans Holm
CHAPTER TWO
 
Mousse wished Cologne had been foresighted enough to add the names and
addresses of the shops to the list. It wasn't as if he usually
frequented shops for baby clothes or any of the other things he needed
to buy. For a while he considered going to the Tendos for help, but
then he remembered that both Kasumi and Mrs. Saotome were away at the
moment. He doubted that Kasumi actually knew where they could find
those shops anyway.
Somebody came up behind him. "Mousse-san?"
He turned around and found himself staring at a giant pig which
returned the stare, while it's rider climbed of.
"Akari Unryuu, is it? Ryoga's girlfriend?"
"Yes. Have you seen him?"
"No...but he's bound to turn up sooner or later."
He thought for a few moments.
"Uh... Akari Unryuu, do you think you could help me with something?"
"Well, maybe...and could you please call me just Akari? What is it you
need help with?"
"Just Akari, I..."
"You did that on purpose, didn't you?"
"What..."
"The Just Akari-thing...Don't do that, OK?"
"OK, Akari, I need help to find out where I can buy all these things."
He handed her the list.
"Is somebody going to have a baby", she asked after skimming through it.
"Somebody already has...uh, I don't think you've heard of her...anyway
I need to get all these baby things, because all she have is one set of
clothes."
"Who? Why do you have to do everything?"
"Hairspray, she's my daughter."
"DAUGHTER?!...but what about Shampoo?!"
"I'd rather not talk about it. So, do you know where I can find these
things."
"No, but I'm not to proud to ask people."
 
A short while later, Mousse were laden with boxes and packages, while
Akari went through the list again.
"I think we've got everything but the clothes now."
"They have to wait until tomorrow. I can't carry any more and I don't
know her size."
"You don't know your daughter's size?"
"Until four hours ago I didn't even now I had a daughter. I've spent
most of those four hours shopping and she spent the rest of them sleeping.
We haven't really had time to get to know each other."
The clerk, who hadn't heard this exchange, looked from Akari to Mousse
laden with packages and back again.
"Miss, I think you may be getting a little ahead of yourself. You don't
look pregnant.", she told Akari.
"Actually, we're about a month to late.", Mousse said, starting to turn
red.
"and she's only here as moral support", he continued indicating the now
equally red Akari.
 
As they left the shop, they failed to spot the lost boy across the
street. Ryoga, on the other hand, saw Akari and Mousse laden with
packaged baby stuff leaving a shop together. A quick survey of the
situation produced these facts:
1. Akari have just bought a lot of baby stuff;
2. People usually buy baby stuff when someone is about to
have a baby.
3. Everybody else have someone other than Akari to send
out to buy baby stuff.
4. I haven't done anything.
5. She's with Mousse.
Conclusion: Akari's having Mousse's baby!!!
This left two possibly courses of action (three if you include trying
to find out what is actually going on):
1. Have wild and passionate sex with the equally jilted Shampoo to try
to ease the pain; or,
2. Attacking the (expletive, expletive racial slur) and go out in if
not a blaze of glory, a ki-blast of depression.
It's an obvious choice, really.
 
Mousse heard the battle-cry "Prepare to die, Mousse!" and felt someone
approaching from above. He pushed Akari out of the way as Ryoga
impacted on the sidewalk, leaving a crater. Ryoga growled at them.
"Akari, get out of here! Now!", Mousse shouted while dodging, "Go get
Ranma or Cologne..."
"But...Ryoga..."
"Is not really himself at the moment. Get help! I'll try to keep hi..."
One of Ryoga's punches connected with Mousse, sending him flying into
Akari and both into a nearby car. At least Mousse managed to twist
around to keep Akari from the worst of the impact. Ryoga was almost on
top of them again.
"Ryoga...please...stop...", Akari pleaded.
He ignored her and continued against Mousse who met him with a knee to
the mid-section. She needed some way to calm him down quickly...
cold water! Spotting a soda vending machine down the street she quickly
made her way towards it.
 
A sudden and very local downpour stopped Ryoga in his tracks as his
shape became unsuited to punching. As he tried to work out how to kill
Mousse while in pig form someone lifted him by the scruff of his neck.
"Hey, P-chan, Mousse have enough trouble without you expanding your
vendettas.", Ranma said.
"Bwee, bwee bwee", Ryoga explained angrily.
"Yeah, yeah, whatever", Ranma replied, "Listen, he just found out he
has a kid and if you kill him Shampoo will kill you for leaving her
with the kid, OK"
"Bwee."
"I was just helping him finding things.", Akari interjected.
"Bwee." Ryoga had decency to look ashamed.
"Oh, and Mousse? Kuno's looking for you to avenge the...hey, he's
unconscious."
"Then you'll have to carry him too.", Akari said.
"Me? What do you mean carry him too?"
"I can't carry him, Ryoga and all these packages all by myself. And
what if Kuno shows up?"
 
* * * * * *
 
A short time later they were back at the Nekohanten.
"Hey, where did everybody go?!", Ranma called out.
"Spatul...Ukyo is on milk run", Shampoo said coming down the stairs,
" and, uh, Akane is...aiyah! What happen to Mousse?"
"He was ground zero for one of Ryoga's jumps to conclusion. Lucky
for you that Akane isn't here, P-chan."
"Bwee?"
"Sigh. Let's turn him back to human first, and maybe get the old ghoul
to take a look at Mousse."
 
"I'm back!", Ukyo called as she nudged the door open with her foot
(until Akari opened it for her) with her arms full of plastic bags,
"Uh, why's Ryoga half-naked?"
"Because Pig-loving Girl, uh, Akari no want to wait?"
"What's with all the bags, Ucchan? I thought you were only going to get
milk."
"Yeah, but then I realised she didn't have a bottle either or diapers
or..."
"So you went and bought the same things Mousse and I bought."
"I got a little carried away."
"You, young lady", Cologne said suddenly appearing behind Ukyo, "are
acting like a very stereotypical girl in a romantic comedy aimed at
boys. Next you'll attempt to impress Ranma with your diaper-changing
skills."
"I bought her a plush ducky.", Ukyo said apologetically.
Only her sense of dignity prevented Cologne from banging her head
against the wall.
"Shampoo thinks Ukyo needs pet.", Shampoo muttered.
 
* * * * * *
 
"Would you mind telling me what's going on?", Nabiki asked, while Akane
was tearing through the closet.
"They have to be here somewhere. I know they're here.", Akane mumbled.
"Our baby clothes.", she explained.
"Did Ranma enter P-chan in another contest or..."
"Mousse'sdaughtershowedupandshe'sonlygotonesetofclothes...Aha! There
they are!", Akane announced, pulling a large box from the closet.
"Wait a minute! Mousse's daughter?"
"Yes."
"Mousse? As in male Chinese Amazon, long black hair, blind as a bat,
turns into a duck, worth 7500 yen per picture if you catch him outside
his robe?"
"Uh...yes."
"Mousse? As in completely devoted to Shampoo? Has a kid? As in has had
sex with a girl? A girl who's not Shampoo? You're joking."
"No...gotta go!"
Nabiki pondered this for a few seconds before coming to a realisation:
"Hey! That's MY baby clothes!"
 
"Saotome? Did you catch where my daughters said they were going?"
"No...I think it was something about a contest, baby clothes and yen
per picture."
"Ah...just another of Nabiki's schemes then. Your move."
 
* * * * * *
 
When Mousse finally came to and was handed his glasses, he found
himself back in his room.
"How did I get back here...and why is Ryoga wearing one of my robes."
"Hairspray, uhm, had, uh, an accident on...", Ranma began.
"IS SHE ALRIGHT!?!"
"Geez, it's not really that kind of accident."
The only casualty was my shirt", Ryoga added, "Even if it ever gets
clean I'll never wear it again."
"And now we'd like some answers.", Ranma continued.
"How did this happen? How come you've got a kid all of a sudden?",
Ryoga demanded.
"How?...didn't your parents tell you about the birds and the bees?",
Mousse answered with a weak smile (before realising that bringing up
Ryoga's parents might not be a good idea).
"Pops did", Ranma interjected, "but I didn't believe him. I mean, what
if the bird got stung halfway...and then there's the size difference...
I mean an ostrich is really big, but..."
"It just sort of happened", Mousse interrupted, "she was a good friend
and she was upset because her boyfriend had done something and they'd
broken up, I tried to console her and before I knew it she...I...we...",
he trailed off. Hairspray crying and sounds of mounting panic
downstairs brought him back to reality. And downstairs in record time.
 
Hairspray was crying and turning red in Shampoo's arms. The girls
looked close to panic and it seemed like only instinct prevented them
from tossing Hairspray between them like a unexploded grenade. Possibly
they actually had - Ukyo was holding the bottle. Cologne was nowhere to
be seen.
"Give her to me!", Mousse demanded, and without waiting for a reply
grabbed Hairspray from Shampoo.
 
He should have known something like this would happen. He knew the
girls tried their best, but they didn't really know what to do. Well,
neither did he, but at least he was not trying to impress Ranma with
his baby care-skills. Why was she crying? Was there something wrong
with the formula? Maybe she was allergic to it. Maybe she was sick!
"There...there...everything'll be alright", he whispered, stroking her
back while trying to calm both Hairspray and himself.
Finally, before Mousse had worked himself into cardiac arrest, she
burped.
Loudly.
 
"Whoa, I didn't know something that small could be that loud.", Ranma
commented, mainly to restart the conversation, "Where did Cologne go?"
"She had to go and lie down. I think the unamazon-like atmosphere got
to her.", Nabiki said, "I think we'd better leave before you lot
traumatise Hairspray for life."
"But...but...", Akane began.
"I think Mousse will be able to pick some clothes for his daughter
without your help. Let's go. I'll send Ranma around to get the orders
later."
"Orders?...What orders?...", Shampoo said, having forgotten her earlier
white lie. "Oh, _those_ orders."
 
* * * * * *
 
"OK, Mousse. I want some answers. Now!", Shampoo demanded as soon as
they were alone.
"I like the red one with kittens on it, but the green and white one
fits her better...", Mousse began still going through Nabiki's
hand-me-downs.
"No, no, no! About this Tao Tao woman."
"Huh?"
"HAIRSPRAY'S MOTHER! Who was she? Where did you meet her?
What did she look like? Why did the circus send Hairspray to you?"
"OK, OK. Let me just put Hairspray to bed first."
With that Mousse went upstairs only to return moments later.
"Uh...Where did you put the crib?"
"Oh, we were so busy we forgot to put it together. It's in the big box
next to the door...no, the other side, that's the pram..."
"Did I really buy this much?"
"No, Ukyo bought some of it. She got a little carried away. Why don't
you just put Hairspray in her basket again. Then you can answer my
questions while you put the crib together."
 
"As I told you before, Tao Tao was one of the girls at the circus. She
helped taking care of the animals...wait, I think I have a picture here
somewhere."
"WHY ARE YOU CARRYING A PICTURE OF HER?"
"Because people keep sneaking into my room and going through my things
on a weekly basis. I didn't wa..."
"That wouldn't happen if you told great-grandmother when you get
the new issue of...uh."
"Anyway, here's the picture."
 
The photo was of two people in front of a tiger in a cage. One was
Mousse unrobed and sweaty, but smiling. Unless Mousse had made more
female friends a the circus, the equally smiling girl with her arms
around him had to be Tao Tao. She had long, almost waist-length, wavy
dark brown hair and, from what was visible from behind Mousse dressed
in cut-offs and t-shirt. If she didn't know better she'd have assumed
that they were a couple. A happy one. It just wasn't fair - she had
managed to get a few photos of her and Ranma in a similar situation,
but he always looked very uncomfortable or just plain terrified.
 
Mousse brought her out of her reverie.
"Shampoo? My hands are kind of full. Could you look in the assembly
instructions and  tell me where this thing goes?"
He was trying to hold what appeared to be a model of Tokyo Tower
together with his hands while balancing what looked like a four-way
wheel wrench on his right foot.
"Where is it?"
"In the box ove...uh-oh." As Shampoo looked for the assembly
instructions, gravity brought Mousse back to square one.
 
By the time she had tracked them down he had constructed the frame-work
for a scale-model of the Yamato. He was definitely going to need her
help.
"Aiyah! These are in Japanese!"
"What did you expect, we're in...damn!" The Yamato went  the way of the
Tokyo Tower model.
"Stupid Mousse! Why don't you read the instructions before you start
putting things together?"
"I should be able to put together a DIY crib without reading the
instructions...I mean, how hard can...NOT AGAIN!!" The Kitty Hawk
never really got of the ground.
 
"Are you ready to listen to the instructions now? OK, begin first
insert bars 1 to 3 in slots A to C..."
In less than three minutes Mousse had, under Shampoo's supervision,
produced a very nice scale-model of a T-ford.
"Sigh...can't you even follow simple instructions? OK, I'll do it
myself!"
On her own and with mounting frustration, Shampoo managed to turn the
supposed crib into a pedal-driven Harley-Davidson Chopper, the Notre
Dame and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
"Arrgh! Why'd you buy this useless crap, Mousse!...Uh-oh, I have
to get _Ranma's_ dinner ready!" With that Shampoo stomped off towards
the kitchen. As she demonstratively slammed the door to the kitchen
the Creature collapsed on top of Mousse.
 
By the time Shampoo was leaving to deliver the food Mousse was
working on the Parthenon.
 
* * * * * *
 
When she returned it was obvious that Cologne had taken pity on Mousse,
as he was in the process of getting the crib upstairs. Cologne herself
was catching up on her soaps.
"Great-grandmother? Have you decided on Mousse's punishment yet?"
"Punishment? What are you talking about?"
"I mean...uh...don't we have rules against this sort of thing?"
"What sort of thing?"
"You know, boys cheating on girls they love."
"Not when the girl has repeatedly and expressly spurned the boy for
fifteen years."
"So you're just going to let him get away with it!"
"He only did what you have been telling him to do since you were kids...
you're not jealous are you?"
"I AM NOT JEALOUS! MOUSSE CAN SLEEP WITH EVERY GIRL IN
JAPAN FOR ALL I CARE!"
"If you say so. Besides, don't you think being a single parent at
seventeen is enough punishment?"
 
That night was the first since Ranma's and Akane's failed wedding that
Shampoo was so upset that she couldn't sleep. That Hairspray was
clearly awake didn't help either.
 
Eventually, Shampoo tired of Hairspray's crying and went into Mousse's
room to get him to do something about it. Mousse was slumped in his
chair, deeply asleep and totally exhausted. She briefly considered
waking him up before focusing on the main problem. "There, there,
Hairspray, don't cry...please? Are you hungry? Let's go down to the
kitchen and Shampoo'll make you some of that scrumptious formula. OK?
I'll just put this blanket on your idiot father first. So. Now, let's
go get that formula."
Morning found Shampoo sleeping on a chair in the kitchen with Hairspray
sleeping in her arms. It took Cologne several minutes to decide not to
take this opportunity to hit her pressure points.
 
* * * * * *
 
CHAPTER THREE
 
Mousse was awakened by someone placing a weight on his chest. It wasn't
very heavy, but somehow it got a grip on his hair...and it drooled. At
least, he hoped it was drool. But he had to open his eyes and put on
his glasses before being sure. Then he heard someone speaking softly
next to him.
"No, no, Hairspray. If you want to wake daddy up by pulling his hair
you have to pull harder...LIKE THIS!!"
"Waitwaitwait, I'm awake now, OK?"
"Good, then you can go and make breakfast."
 
"So, Mousse, have you decided on what you're going to do?", Cologne
asked during breakfast.
"Huh?", he answered intelligently.
"Now that you're a father you must learn to be more responsible",
Cologne continued solemnly.
"Well...first I'll have to work out which of my jobs I can afford to
quit. Then I guess I'll have to find a place to live..."
"WHY!?", Shampoo exclaimed.
"So you're not going back to China, I assume?", Cologne asked.
"Not yet anyway. I guess I'm not quite ready to give up on running hot
water just yet. Is there a reason I should get back to China right this
moment?", Mousse answered, ignoring Shampoo's outburst.
"Well, not at this very moment. Not that I know of.", Cologne said,
before adding quietly "After all, Saffron's not much older than Hairspray
at the moment."
"What was that?"
"Never mind."
 
"What was that about figuring out which work to quit and finding
somewhere to live?", Shampoo asked as they were washing up.
"Well, I don't think I can have three part-time jobs and take care of
Hairspray at the same time. This is the worst-paying and if I quit this
I doubt I'll get free bed and board here, so I might as well see if I
can find somewhere else."
"So you're just going to leave me and great-grandmother to run the
Nekohanten by ourselves!"
"You've managed fine without my constant presence so far. Besides, I
haven't quit yet. So don't start celebrating yet."
"I wasn't...I mean...what other jobs?"
Well...there's this bar/nightclub that has use for both a bartender and
an occasional stage magician..."
"Where?"
"I'm not telling. And in theory they don't let anybody under 21 in.
Besides, I also make more money entertaining kids at _one_ birthday
party than I make in a month here."
"Oh...I'll go talk to great-grandmother...and I think Hairspray needs
a diaper change."
 
* * * * * *
 
"Akari? You're our guest. You don't need to make breakfast. I'll handle
it."
"It's no trouble, Akane. Besides, I have to repay your generosity
somehow."
Ranma was trying to look as if he had nothing to do with the sudden
change of breakfast-cook. He didn't, but who'd believe him?
 
"So, Akari, what brings you to Tokyo this time?", Nabiki asked while
they were eating. "It's not just a sudden urge to go looking for Ryoga,
is it?"
"My school...uh, sort of blew up and..."
"Your school too? It must be something going around", Soun noted
absently from behind his newspaper.
"...they had to close for... what do you mean 'your school too'?"
"Furinkan sort of blew up last week.", Akane explained.
"At night, and Ranma wasn't even near the place", Nabiki added.
"And what are you kids planning for today?", Genma-panda asked via sign.
"Ryoga promised he would show this new technique he discovered!",
Ranma answered as he grabbed Ryoga's hand and made his escape before
his father suggested something that could be interpreted as a double
date.
"Unless the novelty's already worn off, I assume Akane and Akari will
be over at the Nekohanten helping traumatise Mousse's daughter", Nabiki
said.
"Her name is Hairspray", Akane muttered.
 
"Mousse has a daughter? Mousse, as in Shampoo's not-boyfriend?!"
Soun actually looked up from the newspaper.
"The baby's mother obviously thought so", Akari said.
Soun and Genma-panda looked at each other, then they grinned.
"Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Tendo?", Genma asked Soun via sign
before both hurriedly left the room.
"What was that about?", Akari asked.
"Off-hand, I'd say that unless there's a Saotome or Tendo son we don't
know of, we've just witnessed the birth of a plan based on the concepts
of 'peer pressure' and 'grandchildren'", Nabiki answered.
 
* * * * * *
 
About halfway to the Nekohanten they met Mousse with a sleeping
Hairspray in a pram.
"Got thrown out already?", Nabiki asked.
"No, but Cologne and Shampoo was getting too loud so I decided to take
Hairspray for a walk until they've stopped fighting", Mousse answered.
"Cologne and Shampoo are fighting? Why?", Akane asked.
"It seems Shampoo doesn't like the idea of me moving", Mousse explained
happily.
"What?! You're moving?"
"Are you going back to China?"
"No. Not yet anyway, but since I'm probably going to quit working at
the Nekohanten I don't think Cologne'll let me stay."
"Quit? Why?"
"It's the worst-paying job I have and I need more free time to take
care of Hairspray."
" _More_ free time? I thought you worke..."
"So, have you found somewhere to live yet?", Nabiki interrupted.
"I haven't really had time to start looking yet. Besides it's still
unclear whether I actually have to move.", Mousse answered.
"Will it be an immediate eviction or will Cologne wait until you
actually have somewhere else?", Nabiki said.
"If it comes to it, I guess we can squeeze in some more houseguests...
or maybe Ukyo has some spare room", Akane said.
"It certainly seems she wouldn't mind taking Hairspray off your hands",
Akari added.
"Which would explain why Shampoo is so keen on them not moving",
Nabiki remarked.
"Actually, I think I'll move anyway, eventually. I've experienced
Amazon child-raising techniques first-hand and as long as I live under
Cologne's roof I risk Hairspray experiencing them. At least those that
can be done in the privacy of the Nekohanten", Mousse said.
"That bad?", Akane asked.
"The more I learn about Ranma's childhood, the more I start suspecting
that there's a little Amazon in Genma", Mousse replied.
"Several, if they're Cologne's size", Nabiki added. "Anyway, do you
have anything planned for today?"
"Not really...well, maybe try to explain to Kuno that the pig-tailed
girl has nothing to do with Hairspray...", Mousse said.
"Good! Then we're going apartment hunting!", Nabiki exclaimed.
 
* * * * * *
 
A few hours later, the group entered Ucchan's.
 
"I think that, maybe, four teenagers and a baby are a less than ideal
group composition for apartment hunting", Mousse remarked.
"Come on, it wasn't that bad", Akari said.
"It's not as if we got thrown out of anywhere", Akane noted.
"I'm sure that those shocked expressions won't affect your chances of
getting an apartment, once they realise it's only for you and Hairspray",
Nabiki said. "And there's still a lot of apartments left."
"Sooner or later we'll find someone who hasn't heard of Ranma", Akane
added.
 
"What are you talking about?", Ukyo asked, interrupting them.
"Mousse is moving, so we've been helping him find an apartment", Akari
answered.
"Moving? Why? And what was that about finding someone who hasn't
heard of Ranma?"
"It seems that people are a little reluctant to rent apartments to
people who appear to be martial artists and show up in the company of
several girls", Mousse answered. "You see, they've heard about this
guy called Ranma who is a martial artists, has lots of girlfriends and
has rivals who tend to cause extensive property damage."
"Maybe we should get you a new wardrobe as well", Akari told him. "If
you dress a little less like someone from a Kung Fu-movie, maybe you'll
be less conspicuous."
"You know, everybody knows that 'this Ranma-guy' always wear Chinese
clothing", Nabiki added.
"He's moving because he's getting worried about raising Hairspray under
Cologne's supervision", Akane said. "It seems she wrote Genma's book on
parenting."
"I can't say I'm surprised..."
Ukyo was interrupted by the phone ringing.
 
Konatsu answered it.
"Ucchan's Okyo...No, Ma'am...yes, Ma'am...no...no...yes...yes, I'll ask
them...OK, bye. That was Cologne, she asked if anybody's seen Shampoo.
It seems she and Shampoo had an argument and Shampoo ran off...oh, and
Kuno came by looking for Mousse."
"I suppose she wasn't obliging enough to tell him he's here?", Ukyo asked.
"How would she now? It's not as if I planned on going here when I left",
Mousse said.
"He should be able to work it out himself", Nabiki said. "Or at least
remember where foul sorcerers generally hang out around here."
"What's that supposed to mean?"; Akane asked.
"The foul sorcerer Saotome is generally found at the Tendo's, Furinkan,
Nekohanten or Ucchan's", Nabiki said. "Furinkan's out of the question
at the moment and he's already been at Nekohanten. He should get here
sooner or later."
 
* * * * * *
 
Shampoo was perched on the roof of the highest building she could find,
and pondered the injustice of it all. It was all Mousse's fault. As
always. He was always messing things up, even when they were kids. And
now he'd...done this. There really should be an Amazon rule against it.
Really. But great-grandmother just laughed at her when she'd brought it
up. And then again when she suggested to give him a raise or something
so he wouldn't move to where they couldn't keep an eye on him and
prevent...this kind of thing from happening again. Once she became
Matriarch she would make sure there would be a rule about that. One
that was reproact...retroact...one that also covered things that had
been done in the past. Then _she_ would get the last laugh. And
everybody was getting all gooey over Hairspray, and were falling over
themselves to help poor Mousse. As if he was just an innocent victim.
Even great-grandmother! Especially Ukyo! She'd even bought stuff for
them. If it had been Ranma they'd be tearing him apart. At least she
would. Maybe. But if she tore Mousse apart, _she_ would be stuck with
_his_ baby. And everybody would blame her. Maybe she could get Ukyo to
chase Mousse instead? She seemed to simply adore Hairspray. Or maybe
Akane would realise that she really loved Mousse? They were always
teaming up against her anyway. _And_ they got along great. Well, apart
from the kidnapping but Akane had forgiven Mousse faster than she had
ever forgiven Ranma. And Akane had given Hairspray _a lot_ of clothes.
So Akane liked Hairspray, at least. That was a start. _Everybody_ liked
Hairspray. She was cute, but not _that_ cute. It probably had something
to do with them sleeping out of earshot. And not being expected to help
all of the time. Hairspray was _much_ cuter when she wasn't doing
anything or sleeping. Which wasn't often. At least Hairspray would keep
Mousse from pestering her all the time. Probably. She had only been
around for a day or so. But Mousse _hadn't_ tried _anything_ since she
showed up. And _everybody_ was changing their schedules to fit around
Hairspray. It wasn't fair. Everybody fussed over Hairspray as if she
was the only thing that mattered. Nobody cared about Shampoo. Nobody
loved Shampoo. Mousse had hardly looked at her since Hairspray appeared.
Maybe Shampoo should have an accident? Then they'd all come to visit
_her_. If she died they'd all be sorry! Hopefully. But what if they
wasn't? Maybe she should just move out of  Nekohanten herself? If
Mousse could get two other jobs, she should be able to get some too.
And everything would be much easier if she had an  apartment of her own.
Where she could...do things without great-grandmother noticing. And
when had any of great-grandmother's plans or magic stuff ever worked
out as they should? She would have done much better without her "help",
or Mousse's.
 
At this point her train of thought was derailed by her stomach, which
pointed out that it was way past lunch-time. As she wasn't to keen on
going back to Nekohanten at the moment, she decided to o to Ucchan's.
If nothing else, she could tease Ukyo about how she acted around
Hairspray.
 
* * * * * *
 
Kuno stopped to think for a moment. The vile miscreant Mousse had had
his way with the pig-tailed girl. Now he was at Ucchan's with _five_
other girls, not counting the baby. And one of them was _Akane_! But
something didn't match up - why would they all leave Saotome all of a
sudden. And for Mousse? OF COURSE!! Saotome had only been a
temporary vessel for the foul sorcerer and now it was used up so he had
switched to a fresh body. Come to think of it, he hadn't seen Saotome
for days. Since after Furinkan blew up. Yes, it all made sense now.
Saotome's body had been killed in the explosion, so the sorcerer had
taken a new one. It didn't matter. It was his sworn duty to destroy the
sorcerer, regardless of which body he inhabited.
 
* * * * * *
 
"Kuno's outside", Konatsu remarked. "You want me to..."
"No, I'll do it myself", Mousse said.
 
"Foul sorcerer, your reign of..."
"Will you shut up and listen, Kuno? Hairspray is _my_ daughter. HEY!
LISTEN TO ME!! The pig-tailed girl has nothing to do with her. She is
_not_ her mother or her wet-nurse or her god-mother or her future
mother-in-law, get it? She is not involved in any way! LISTEN TO ME!"
"...for good will always triumph over evil. I am the mighty warrior of..."
"(expletive) The hard way it is, then."
"...and I will punish you! In the name of..."
"GET ON WITH IT!"
 
Kuno drew his bokken and charged.
Mousse jumped out of the way, waiting for the right moment to
counterattack.
He threw a couple off egg-bombs in Kuno's general direction, followed
by a bowling ball in Kuno's more exact direction. Kuno cut it in half.
"Do you have any idea how expensive that was?!"
"Silence, varlet!"
Kuno charged again.
"MOUSSE!", someone screamed.
The almost panicked scream distracted Mousse, who misjudged his dodge.
As Kuno prepared himself for a more solid and final blow, he was hit
over the head from behind and collapsed.
"I can't turn my back without you getting yourself in trouble, can I?",
Shampoo said.
"I was doing fine until you showed up", Mousse said.
"Sure."
 
"Anybody want to bet on how long it takes them to get to uncute tomboy
or the Amazon equivalent?", Nabiki asked, as the argument rapidly
escalated.
The only answer she got was Hairspray drooling on her shoulder and
the nagging thought that it was probably time for another diaper change.
 
* * * * * *
 
Somewhere else...
Imagine a throne room set up in an abandoned amusement park by the kind
of people who gets most of their furniture from what 'the surface-
dwellers', 'the up-siders' or whatever term they choose for them throw
away...
 
Since this is a good moment to break the fourth wall and introduce the
people present, we will:
 
     
 
The bored-looking man lounging on what was obviously once an expensive
armchair is Blumberg the Sorcerer. They say that if you never change
style you'll be fashionable at least twice during your lifetime and
he's obviously waiting for the 1840's to make a comeback.
 
The Chinese man to his right, with almost waist-length white hair and
wearing a voluminous black Chinese robe is his current right-hand man,
Wu Jing - mercenary martial artist, thief for hire and general trouble.
 
The pale girl, dressed like a necromantic stage magicians assistant,
who is sprawling on a sofa is Graveyard Sammi. Since she doesn't need
to breathe any longer the snoring must be coming from someone who is
awake.
 
The bald African in an impeccable white suit and matching eye-patch,
lounging on another sofa, is generally known as Ananzi. Further
introductions should be unnecessary.
 
The man wearing a gas-mask and a midnight blue trenchcoat over a
ragged uniform (the military historically inclined will point out that
it is, in fact, pieces from several different WW I uniforms) calls
himself Lumpen. The trenchcoat flaps in a wind nobody else can feel and
occasionally seems to reach towards nearby objects.
 
The Indian giant is named Jagannath. Remember: Don't call him a thug,
_those_ are worshippers of Kali, so he might take offence. Not that the
modern and general definition of the word doesn't accurately describe
him.
 
This tableaux is interrupted by the entrance by a female midget dressed
in a style best described as Road Warrior meets A Midsummer Night's
Dream...
 
     
 
The midget kneeled before Blumberg and tried to catch her breath.
"I think I've found it. Just a few days after the girl's. uh...accident,
another member of the circus left for Japan."
Blumberg stalked up to her and lifted her by her collar:
"You call THAT finding it, Mab? Finding out that someone went to Japan?"
"He brought something with him", Mab gasped. "It has to be the object
we're looking for..."
"With alll due rrespect, sirr", Lumpen interrupted, "based on what we
allrready know, this in alll prrobabillities lleads us strraight to it's
currrent keeperr."
"Elementary, sir", Ananzi said, "We know that only one former member
of the circus currently resides in Japan. We also know his relationship
to the young lady, where and when he left the circus and where he's
staying."
"Obviouslly", Lumpen continued, "she entrrusted it to the one perrson
she knew who coulld keep it frrom Wu Jing. Herr intimate frriend Mu Tsu
of the Joketsuzoku, currrently rresiding in Nerrima."
"Find him, and we find everything", Ananzi finished. "As the French say
'Cherchez le canarde.'"
 
TO BE CONTINUED...(honestly)
 
 

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