"Too many kooks in the kitchen . . . "
A Ronin Warriors-Ranma1/2 Crossover
Ranma and Cye peered cautiously into the kitchen, where Akane and Rowen were attempting to work together on a meal. Ranma shuddered. "We're all gonna die," he predicted.
"Maybe two negatives will cancel," Cye said hopefully.
"You're kidding, right?" Ranma watched a bit longer. He winced when something made a very loud, indescribable noise. "Uh, how'd you get here, anyway?"
"I dunno," Cye said. "We just woke up this morning and headed for Toyama. We wound up here somehow."
THIS IS YOUR AUTHOR SPEAKING!
Cye and Ranma looked around to see where this voice was coming from. They saw nothing.
OF COURSE NOT, YOU DOLTS! I'M THE AUTHOR! I'M ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COMPUTER SCREEN! CYE, YOU GOT HERE BECAUSE I PUT YOU HERE. AND DON'T ASK, RANMA.
Cye stifled a chuckle at the look on Ranma's face.
PRETTY FUNNY, HUH? WELL, WATCH YOUR STEPS, BOTH OF YOU. ANNOY ME, AND I WON'T HAVE THE KITCHEN EXPLODE IN TIME. YOU'LL BE STUCK EATING AKANE AND ROWEN'S COOKING!
"I guess we'd better not piss her off, huh?" Cye said. Ranma looked a little wild-eyed.
"Uh, yeah," he agreed.
AND NOW, BACK TO OUR SHEW . . .
"Our what?" Ranma asked, confused. There was no response. "Is there any way to get out of what's coming?"
"I doubt it," Cye replied. "It's probably the plot. The whole plot. Uh, forget I said that," he added hastily, staring up at the ceiling.
Ulley and White Blaze barreled around the corner, knocking Cye over. Seconds later, Mr. Panda flew by. There was no apparent reason for this. Cye decided the Author had gotten her revenge.
He was right.
"What were you saying about not getting the Author pissed off?" Ranma smirked. Suddenly, a bucket full of cold water hit him in the face. Cye stared, amazed, as the black-haired boy became a red-headed girl. Akane stood in the door of the kitchen, glaring.
"Will you get out of here, Ranma!?" she shouted. "You're making too much noise! I can't concentrate!"
"Why does that matter!?" Ranma shouted back, water dripping in her eyes. "You can't cook, anyway! You're going to kill us all!"
"Ranma no baka!" Akane whipped out her mallet and slammed Ranma with it. Cye scooted out of the way, awed. He glanced up to see Rowen in the doorway of the kitchen, watching. Rowen shook his head and decided not to say anything.
Miya helped Kasumi string the clothes out on the clothes line. Kasumi hummed merrily as she worked. Miya smiled. "It must be awfully hard, taking care of such a large household all by yourself," she said. "I find it difficult with help."
"Oh? Who helps you?" Kasumi asked curiously.
"Cye cooks for me a lot, and Sage is constantly picking up-he can't stand a mess, for some reason. Rowen, Ryo, and Kento I can get to do all the heavy chores-and White Blaze isn't really a problem, because he rarely eats or makes a mess."
"Sounds nice," Kasumi sighed. "Sometimes I wish I had more help around here, but I'm afraid Akane's a terror in the kitchen, and Nabiki's more interested in making money than anything else. Poor Ranma's always training with his father, and with that terrible curse, he and Mr. Saotome go through so many outfits in a day, not to mention eating so very much . . . "
"I'm thankful I only have one full-grown living appetite in my house," Miya smiled. "In a few years, Ulley is going to be just as bad as Kento, though. I wonder if I could visit here from time to time and see how you manage?"
"I'd enjoy the company very much, Miya," Kasumi responded, smiling. She glanced around to see if anyone was listening. "Sometimes, the best thing to do is just ignore everything. I just continue with what I have to do and pretend I don't hear or see most of what goes on around me, and that way I can get everything done," she confided.
Miya smiled. "Serenity has its uses, certainly. Unfortunately, it's often harder to practice than it seems."
"Yes," Kasumi sighed. "I can remember being possessed by an evil oni and I let myself cut loose just a bit. I'm afraid I did some terribly wicked things!" she said, blushing. "Every time I think I can't keep myself from screaming or getting angry, I just remember that. It makes me want to laugh, and then everything is all right."
Miya laughed. "I've been accused of being possessed by an evil spirit," she said. "The one time I really did get truly angry. The funniest thing was the expression on Ryo's face . . ." She trailed off, giggling. "It's nice to know there's someone else who understands how difficult it is." The two girls smiled at each other, in complete accord.
"I'm back!" Nabiki called as she entered the house. "Hey, Kasumi, Akane, Ranma! Anybody here?"
except for your sister Akane," Sage said, leaning against an open doorway. "She's in the kitchen with my friend Rowen." He suppressed a shudder.
/Now he is cute!/ Nabiki thought. /I wonder how much I could get out of him?/
NOT MUCH, DEAR. HE'S BROKE. I NEVER GAVE HIM ANY MONEY.
Nabiki looked both embarrassed and stunned. Sage just looked stunned.
DO WE HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS AGAIN? I'M THE AUTHOR. I AM MAKING IT PERFECTLY CLEAR TO EACH AND EVERY CHARACTER THAT THE WEIRD VOICE COMING OUT OF NOWHERE IS THE AUTHOR.
Nabiki and Sage looked at each other and shrugged. "Okay," Sage said. "And she's right. I am broke. My friends made me pay for gas on the way here. And for some reason, my ATM card vanished."
IT'S AT HOME ON YOUR DRESSER-RIGHT WHERE I LEFT IT. SOMEBODY'S GOT TO HAVE AVAILABLE FUNDS AT THE END OF THIS STORY. HOW ELSE ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO GET BACK TO MIYA'S PLACE? TIME/SPACE WARPS ARE SO OVERDONE.
"If my ATM card is at home, then how-"
I CAN HANDLE A LITTLE ONE. BESIDES, YOU'RE NOT LEAVING UNTIL MONDAY. THERE'S A BRANCH OFFICE OF YOUR BANK DOWNTOWN; NABIKI KNOWS WHERE IT IS. NABIKI, I'LL MAKE A DEAL WITH YOU.
"I'm listening," Nabiki said. She folded her arms and looked crafty.
IF YOU DON'T TAKE HIM FOR ALL HE'S WORTH ON YOUR WAY BACK FROM THE BANK, YOUR PERSONAL SAVINGS ACCOUNT WILL MYSTERIOUSLY QUADRUPLE OVERNIGHT-AS LONG AS IT'S OVER $5000 DOLLARS. UH, WHAT'S THAT IN YEN?
Nabiki did a quick conversion in her head. "About 614,800."
ABOUT? OH, NEVER MIND. DO YOU HAVE MORE THAN THAT? OR LESS?
"Less," Nabiki said. "Considerably less."
I'LL DUMP A COOL QUARTER MIL IN AMERICAN DOLLARS IN THERE. IT'S UP TO YOU TO CONVERT IT.
"That's just fine," Nabiki said, a delighted smile on her face. "Over thirty million yen . . . " she whispered. The statement seemed to thrill her. Sage looked her over boldly.
"You know, for a scheming little money-grubber, you're not half bad looking," he said, smiling appreciatively.
/Scheming money grubber . . ./ Nabiki thought. A warm glow filled her. "You're pretty hot, yourself," she replied. "And so good with words," she added mockingly.
Sage lost his grin quickly. "Hey!" he yelped, astonished. "I didn't think you'd listen to a bunch of poetry!"
"You're probably right," Nabiki admitted. "So, tell me about yourself . . . "
Ryo and Kento sat in the dining room, watching Mr. Tendo and Mr. Panda playing a game on the porch. Kento glanced at Ryo and whispered, "I never seen a panda playing games before. How 'bout you?"
"Nope," Ryo whispered back. "It's new to me, too." Just then, there was a scream from somewhere behind the sheets on the clothes line. "Miya!" Ryo bolted.
Ranma got there first. He yanked the little dwarf off Miya and booted it into orbit. "Leave her alone, you little pervert! She's a guest!"
"Oh, I'm so sorry, Miya! Grandfather Happosai is just-just-"
"A freak," Ranma supplied.
"Are you okay, Miya?" Ryo asked, concerned. Miya stood with her arms folded tightly across her chest, and her breathing was unsteady. She nodded.
"I'm all right. It just-surprised me, that's all."
"He'll probably try it again," Ranma said resentfully. "The little freak goes after every woman he sees-even Akane."
"Why do you say 'even'?" Kento asked. "She's pretty good-looking."
"That tomboy!?" Ranma shouted in utter disbelief. "She is just so uncute!"
"I heard that, Ranma!" A mallet hurtled out of nowhere and struck Ranma. He fell into the pond with a loud splash. When Ranma emerged red-headed and female, Kento started to howl.
"Knock it off, Kento!" Ryo ordered. "Your big mouth gets you in enough trouble, as it is!" There was a gleam in his eye, however, that bespoke his own amusement. Ranma glared and muttered curses under his breath.
Then, the kitchen exploded.
Akane and Rowen stood in the blackened and charred remains of the kitchen. Miya led Kasumi away, patting her shoulder gently. Ryo, Cye, and Ranma (still a girl) stood around the doorway, while Kento and Mr. Saotome (no longer a panda) cried all over each other (no dinner tonight!), with Mr. Tendo trying to console them both. Of Sage and Nabiki, there was no sign.
"This is all your fault!" Akane screeched.
"Mine!?" Rowen spluttered. "You're the one who turned the heat up!"
"You're the one who didn't add enough water!"
"Yeah, and you're the one who spilled the oil!"
"This is going to go on for a while," Ryo observed quietly. Cye and Ranma glanced at him.
"Maybe it was a mistake to let them both in the kitchen at the same time."
"Are you kidding, Ryo? It's a mistake to let Rowen in the kitchen at all! He doesn't need help to blow up a kitchen."
"Neither does Akane," Ranma added.
"Uh-oh," Ryo said, his attention caught by something else. "Looks like we're going to have to rescue Akane, Cye." Akane and Rowen were fighting in the kitchen. (Akane started it.)
"Nah. Your friend Rowen's the one who's going to need rescu-" Akane's mallet was struck out of her hands and smashed Ranma against the wall.
"Told you," Ryo murmured.
"That was totally uncalled-for!" Ranma shouted, knocking the mallet loose. She glared around in random directions.
NO, IT WASN'T. IT WAS PREDICTABLE. BESIDES, MRS. STRATA WOULD KILL ME IF I LET AKANE BEAT UP ROWEN.
"Mrs. Strata!?" Ryo blinked. He turned to stare at Rowen, disbelieving. Rowen flushed, and Ryo grinned slyly. "There something you haven't told us, buddy?" Rowen opened his mouth to respond.
FAN CLUB, RYO. FAN CLUB. ROWEN IS SARA'S FAVORITE CHARACTER, SO HER HANDLE IS "MRS. STRATA." AS A MATTER OF FACT, I'M AKUMA-CHAN. I MIGHT AS WELL INTRODUCE MYSELF.
"Fan club?" Ryo whispered. "We have a fan club?"
OH, GET OVER IT. I MEAN, AKANE HAS A SHRINE. RANMA HAS AT LEAST TWO THAT I KNOW OF, AND SO DO EACH OF YOU.
Ranma hadn't shaken off her anger at being hit by the mallet. "Jeeze, why didn't that stupid mallet hit Cye? He was in the more likely trajectory!"
CYE'S TOO CUTE TO HIT.
Cye blushed furiously.
Then, the front door exploded inward, and Shampoo appeared, holding two large delivery boxes.
"Hi len!" she cried. She set the boxes down and leapt on Ranma. "Ranma!"
"Get off me, Shampoo!" Ranma screeched.
"Yeah, get off him, Shampoo!" Ukyo cried, appearing as well. She, too, brought two large delivery boxes. She set them down near Shampoo's. "You can't have him!"
"Who are they?" Rowen asked Akane.
Akane shrugged and rolled her eyes. "Ranma's other fiances. Two of them, anyway."
"He has three fiances!?" Cye spluttered.
"You want 'em? You can have 'em!" Ranma cried. She was being stretched between Ukyo and Shampoo. Shampoo, glaring at Ukyo, produced a pot of hot water and dumped it on Ranma's head. Ukyo threw her own pot at Shampoo.
HMM. GOOD IDEA, RANMA. CYE, TAKE YOUR PICK.
Everything stopped. "W-what!?" Cye stuttered, his face rivaling Ranma's shirt.
WHICH FIANCE DO YOU WANT? YOU CAN TAKE YOUR PICK. EVEN AKANE, IF YOU WANT.
"What!?" Akane shrieked. She produced a mallet and hurled it in a random direction. It vanished.
OW! WHY, YOU LITTLE-! HOW'D YOU DO THAT!?
Akane crossed her arms. "Don't mess with me," she sniffed.
"Anyway, I don't want a fiance," Cye said hastily. Ukyo and Shampoo looked at him, perversely irritated.
"You no think Shampoo pretty?" Shampoo said, her voice very dangerous.
"Uhhh-" Cye said.
ALL RIGHT. THAT'S ENOUGH, GIRLS. LEAVE HIM ALONE. HE SAID NO, AND THAT'S ALL THERE IS TO IT. NOW, YOU CAN GO HOME.
The two girls, muttering resentfully, turned and headed for the door. They reached for their delivery boxes.
LEAVE THE BOXES. I CAN'T HAVE THEM ALL DYING BECAUSE OF AKANE AND ROWEN'S COOKING. NO ONE WOULD FORGIVE ME, THEN.
Akane gasped indignantly.
"Hey, that's my line!" Ranma protested.
"Ranma . . . !" Akane rumbled. Ranma's eyes widened, and he started to run. Shampoo and Ukyo vanished out of the house, leaving their food behind. The sounds of fighting started just beyond the gates.
MY, MY, MY! WHAT HAVE WE HERE!
Sage and Nabiki broke apart, shame-faced. They had been sitting on Nabiki's bed, kissing. Sage cleared his throat, embarrassed.
"Spying, are we?" Nabiki said spitefully.
I'M THE AUTHOR, DEAR. IT'S WHAT I DO. AND YOU'RE LUCKY IT WAS ME AND NOT YOUR FATHER WHO CAUGHT YOU. BESIDES, WHAT ABOUT KUNO?
"Who's Kuno?" Sage asked suspiciously. Nabiki shrugged.
"Rich," she replied. "Like everybody here, he's a lunatic. He thinks he's in love with Akane and Ranma." Sage looked startled and started to say something. Nabiki forestalled him. "Ranma's girl half," she clarified. "The Pig-tailed Girl, he calls her. Ranma's changed back and forth practically right in front of him time and again, and he just refuses to see it."
"So what do you want with him?"
"His money," Nabiki shrugged. "What else? I am just a scheming little money-grubber, after all." Sage shifted uncomfortably. "Oh, don't worry about it! I take pride in it. And it's a lot of fun, besides."
"Nabiki, would you mind coming downstairs for a moment? The contractors are here!" Kasumi called. Nabiki rose and picked up her checkbook.
"That was quick," Sage murmured. "They only blew up the kitchen a few minutes ago."
"The contractors have a twenty-four hour watch on our house," Nabiki explained. "The slightest explosion, and they're here in seconds. And I don't even have to pay them to do it," she added smugly.
"Just one more question. What are we going to do about dinner?" Sage asked, rising, as well.
IT'S BEEN TAKEN CARE OF, HON. SHAMPOO AND UKYO BROUGHT IT OVER. "How did that happen?" Nabiki was startled. The Author made no response. Nabiki shrugged and shook her head. Then, she and Sage made their way downstairs. "C'mon. We can ask Ranma."
Cye was up early. He met Kasumi as he was coming down the stairs. "Oh! Good morning, Cye! You're certainly up early!"
Cye shrugged. "It's a habit. Besides, Kento was snoring, and Ryo and Rowen were keeping him company. I don't know how Sage managed to sleep through the racket."
"Oh, I see," Kasumi said in her sweet, vague manner. "Miya mentioned that you like to cook. Would you mind helping me in the kitchen this morning? There are so many people here right now!"
"Sure," Cye shrugged. He grinned. "We should get some use out of that kitchen before Akane and Rowen blow it up again." Kasumi couldn't help giggling. "Hmm. I wonder, do you have the right ingredients to make waffles?"
"I suppose," Kasumi said doubtfully. "If not, the store is open at six."
"Well, we'll probably need maple syrup, anyway," Cye shrugged. "Waffles are the easiest way to keep the guys happy," he explained. "They all love them, and they're not that hard to make."
"I've never made waffles before," Kasumi confessed. "I wonder if Father and Uncle Saotome will like them, too?"
"Well, there's one way to find out," Cye said, and headed for the kitchen. Kasumi followed quietly.
Half an hour later, fourteen people crowded around the Tendos' small dining room table. Nabiki, Akane, and Ranma, along with Mr. Saotome and Mr. Tendo, stared at their plates. Kento dug right in, and Ryo and Sage weren't far behind. Rowen and Miya ate normally.
Finally, Ranma shrugged and took a bite. Soon, he was wolfing it down as if they'd vanish if he didn't. From the look on Kento's face, it might have been true. The others all started to eat, too.
"Wow, Kasumi, these are really good!"
"You'll have to thank Cye for these, Akane," Kasumi said. "He was the one who made them."
Ranma, Mr. Tendo, and Mr. Saotome all turned to look at Cye. Cye flushed. "There is nothing wrong with being able to cook!" he said defensively.
"Especially since he's too shy to find himself a girl," Kento said, smirking. He was unprepared for the response he received.
"Baka!" Akane spat, throwing her empty plate at him. "Why don't you leave him alone!?"
"Jeeze!" Kento said. He turned to Ranma. "You're right, Ranma! She is uncute!"
Seconds later, there was a Kento-shaped hole in the nearest wall. Ryo closed his eyes tightly and shook his head a bit. Miya started to say something, and Ryo just held up a hand to forestall her.
White Blaze prowled around the edge of the gates, curious. Ryouga Hibiki entered, unsure of how he'd made it, but . . . He saw the tiger and shrieked. He stumbled back and fell in a puddle of cold water. P-Chan was even more terrified as White Blaze wuffled softly and sniffed the little black piglet.
WHITE BLAZE! WHITE BLAZE, QUICK, HIDE RYOUGA'S PACK! AKANE DOESN'T KNOW HE TURNS INTO A PIG, AND HE'S JUST TOO PATHETIC TO TORMENT LIKE THAT.
P-Chan squee'd indignantly. White Blaze obediently hid the pack under some shrubbery, well out of sight.
GOOD BOY. HERE.
A rare steak appeared just in front of the tiger and dropped to the ground. White Blaze gulped it down eagerly. Then, he returned to his inspection of the piglet.
"P-Chan!" Akane screeched. "Leave P-Chan alone, you-you-furball!" She scooped P-Chan up and squeezed him tightly to her bosom. White Blaze blinked, uncomprehending.
"Relax, Akane," Ryo said, putting his hand on the girl's shoulder. "White Blaze wouldn't eat your pet. Sometimes I wonder if he eats at all!"
P-Chan narrowed his eyes at Ryo. Suddenly, he launched himself at the boy. Ryo ducked with a yell. "Hey-!" White Blaze roared challengingly, and P-Chan froze in his tracks.
"P-Chan! What's gotten into you!" Akane scolded. Ryo petted White Blaze until he calmed down.
Then, Ranma walked out front. P-Chan attacked him instead of Ryo.
"Get it off! Get it off!"
"Quit picking on P-Chan!" Akane shouted. She pulled out her mallet and pounded Ranma. Ryo glanced at White Blaze; White Blaze looked back.
"I'm glad I'm not him," Ryo murmured. "Even if she is kind of pretty." White Blaze rumbled slightly. Ryo frowned. /Miya's a lot prettier, though,/ he thought to himself. /Not to mention nicer, and a better cook./ He sighed. /Too bad I'm too chicken to ask her out./ He frowned, not liking the thought.
THEN DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT, MORON!
Ryo glanced hastily at Akane and Ranma. They didn't seem to have noticed anything; they were still squabbling.
THEY CAN'T HEAR ME THIS TIME, RYO. LISTEN UP, YOU WIMP, ASK MIYA OUT, OR ELSE! YOU'D PROBABLY KILL ANYONE ELSE WHO MADE A MOVE ON HER, AND THEN YOU'D WIND UP IN PRISON OR WORSE, SO ASK HER OUT!
"I can't," Ryo mumbled. "What have I got to offer her?"
OH, GOD, SAVE ME FROM THE IGNORANCE OF MEN! THINK OF SOMETHING, RYO, AND ASK HER OUT. SHE WON'T TURN YOU DOWN. TRUST ME.
Ryo made no response. He just turned stubborn.
"Akane Tendo, I would-" Kuno stopped short suddenly. Akane was hiding her face in her hands. She looked up when Kuno stopped. He was staring at Miya as she came around the side of the house. "Who is this goddess, this vision of beauty!? I must know her name!"
"Oh, that's Miya Koji," Ranma informed him. "She's staying the weeken-OOF!" He clutched at his midsection, where Akane had jabbed him with her elbow.
"Ranma! You idiot!" Akane hissed.
"What!?" Ranma said, bewildered. "What'd I do?"
Kuno knelt before Miya and took her hand. Miya looked around, confused. "Wha-?"
"Oh, most divine one, the skies themselves weep at your beauty! The sun hides itself for shame at its lack! Nothing can compare to your magnificence! Miya Koji, I would date with you!"
"Get your goddamned hands off her!" Ryo's voice sounded like a crack of thunder. He appeared around the side of the house, face darker than a storm cloud. Kuno rose haughtily.
"You would dare speak so to Tatewaki Kuno, Blue Thunder of Furinkan High!?"
"Hell, yes!" Ryo spat. "And if you touch Miya again, I'll do a hell of a lot worse!"
"Ah! You challenge me!" Kuno pulled out his bokken. "For the hand of the divine Miya Koji, fight me!"
"Glad to!" Ryo snarled.
HERE, RYO. YOU'LL NEED THIS.
A Soul Sword dropped out of nowhere. Ryo picked it up; the blade gleamed hungrily. He and Kuno squared off, eyeing each other warily. Kasumi appeared in the doorway, a hand pressed to her cheek. Miya scrambled quickly out of the way and joined her, staring at Ryo and Kuno.
Everyone else appeared from various places to see what was going on. P-Chan sqee'd; Akane picked him up absently.
Kuno attacked. Ryo blocked. What followed was a quick series of parries and dodges, with neither one gaining any ground. Even Ranma was impressed.
"Wow. I've never seen anybody that good with a sword before," he muttered.
"You ought to see Sage," Kento said absently. He frowned. "Then again, in his current mood . . . Ryo might just be even better than ever."
Suddenly, Ryo lost his balance. Miya screamed and covered her eyes. Ryo recovered barely in time to parry Kuno's attack. Miya's scream seemed to enrage him further, and he got even faster. Soon, Kuno was no more than one massive bruise. Ryo very carefully did not kill him.
NICELY DONE, RYO! NOW, THROW THE SOUL SWORD UP IN THE AIR SO I CAN PUT IT AWAY.
Ryo obeyed. The sword disappeared.
WELL, I KNEW I NEEDED A HAIRCUT, BUT I DIDN'T EXPECT TO GET IT THAT WAY! THANK YOU. NOW, GO KISS MIYA.
"W-what!?" Ryo spluttered, blushing furiously. Miya gasped and blushed, as well.
YOU HEARD ME. YOU WERE FIGHTING OVER HER, AFTER ALL. AND YOU WON. NOW GO KISS HER.
Ryo swallowed heavily and glanced at Miya. She met his eyes briefly, then turned hers to the floor. "I-it's all right, Ryo," she said softly. Suddenly, she vanished. She reappeared just as suddenly right in front of Ryo. She stumbled on the landing and fell into his arms.
GET ON WITH IT, THE PAIR OF YOU! EVERYBODY KNOWS THE TWO OF YOU ARE WILDLY IN LOVE, SO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! OR AM I GOING TO HAVE TO TAKE STEPS?
Ryo swallowed again and quickly brushed his lips against Miya's.
COME ON, RYO, YOU CAN DO BETTER THAN THAT. TRY IT AGAIN.
Faced with no other alternative, and with Miya right there in his arms, Ryo caved. He kissed Miya deeply; she responded in kind.
MUCH BETTER! YOU'RE ALMOST BELIEVABLE! CLAP, EVERYBODY! Grinning, Ryo's friends applauded loudly. "It's about time!" Cye called. The Tendo household joined in. Ryo and Miya broke apart, both of them blushing furiously. Ryo had a very foolish grin on his face, and Miya couldn't hold back a tender smile.
"Uh, Miya, when we get out of this crazy place and back home, would you-would you like to, uh, go out to dinner with me?" Ryo asked. His voice cracked nervously.
"Ryo!" Miya whispered softly. "I'd love to!" She hugged him quickly, which brought on another round of applause. Finally, everyone's arms got tired, and they went back to whatever they had been doing in the first place.
Rowen and Akane took over the kitchen again shortly after lunch. They absolutely swore dinner would be edible this time. Of course, no one believed them.
"We're all going to die!" Kento muttered. "We're dead, we just don't know it yet!"
"We don't have to eat it," Ranma pointed out.
"Ever heard the phrase 'damned if you do, damned if you don't'?" Ryo retorted direly. "If we eat it, we die. If we don't, they'll kill us."
"About the best we can hope for is that they blow up the kitchen again," Sage said. "The odds are against it, though."
"Are you kidding?" Nabiki snorted. She sat very close to Sage, for some reason. "That kitchen blows up regularly. What's to stop it from happening again?"
"The Author," Sage replied morosely. "I don't think she's going to be that obvious."
BRILLIANT DEDUCTION, SAGE! I'M APPLAUDING OUT HERE. THE KITCHEN WILL NOT BLOW UP AGAIN. AND YOU'RE LEAVING TOMORROW, REMEMBER. AS SOON AS YOU GET BACK FROM THE BANK WITH NABIKI, SAGE.
"Assuming we survive until then," Kento muttered. Akane's mallet flew his direction. He actually managed to block it.
"I heard that!" Akane snapped, leaning into the room. Rowen glared past her. Kento flinched.
"Gaa!" he said. "Jeeze, if looks could kill-!"
"Your big mouth strikes again, eh?" Cye said, appearing in the doorway. "Are we going to have anymore lunatics appearing out of nowhere, or have we met them all?"
"Not by a long shot," Ranma said. He began ticking them off on his fingers. "There's Kodachi, and Mousse, and Cologne, and Azusa, and Mikado, and-"
"Never mind," Cye said quickly. "Uh, haven't they destroyed the kitchen yet? Isn't it about time for that?"
"Author says it's not going to happen, Cye," Ryo informed him.
Cye groaned and sank to the floor. "Great. Just great," he moaned. "Can things get any worse?"
THEY COULD. BUT I'M A NICE AUTHOR. YOU'LL MAKE IT JUST FINE. I WON'T LET ANYTHING HAPPEN TO YOU BEFORE THE WEDDING.
"Huh!?" Cye said, wild-eyed. "What are you talking about!?"
ALL IN GOOD TIME, MY DEAR. ALL IN GOOD TIME.
They all decided not to ask. Cye cowered in the corner, trying to calm down. His friends let him be.
"We're done!" Akane chirped. She and Rowen entered the dining room, carrying large trays. Soon, everyone had heaping servings in front of them. They just stared. Akane narrowed her eyes at Ranma.
Ranma flinched. Hesitantly, he lifted a tiny bite to his mouth. Everyone watched as he chewed slowly and swallowed. He blinked. "Hey!" he exclaimed. "It's edible!"
"What!?" Kento shoveled a larger bite into his mouth. "Hey, you're right!" Everyone fell to eating.
"I told you two negatives would cancel each other out," Cye said smugly. He received two very dark looks. He shrank into himself and concentrated on eating.
Monday dawned bright and beautiful. Not that anyone was up to see the sunrise. It wasn't until nine that anyone bothered to get up. Nabiki and Sage went to the bank and returned without incident. Nabiki, obviously remembering the Author's promise, contented herself with stopping to sell some pictures to Kuno.
The Ronins packed the Jeep carefully and climbed in. "It always surprises me how we manage to fit everything and everyone in," Miya murmured. She took the driver's seat, with Ryo in the passenger's seat.
"Come back soon!" Kasumi called.
"We'll invite you to Akane and Ranma's wedding!" Genma said.
"I'm not marrying that kawaiikune tomboy!" Ranma shouted, pointing at Akane.
"Ranma no baka!" Akane shouted, whipping out her mallet. Ranma dodged and stuck his tongue out.
"Don't forget to write, Sage," Nabiki said, eyeing Sage. Sage returned the favor, smirking.
"The same to you. And don't forget about that investment. I've got a little stock in it myself."
"It sounds kind of risky," Nabiki said dubiously.
"Trust me, you'll get a fast return," Sage assured her. His friends looked at him.
Ryo cleared his throat. "Uh, we'd better get going. It's a long drive," he said.
"Bye!" the combined Tendo household said, waving. Miya urged the jeep into first and drove off as her friends waved out the windows. White Blaze yawned and loped after them.
Sitting on a fence a little ways down the road was a slightly plump girl with short dark brown hair, clear brown eyes, and glasses. She waved, and as she did, she faded away, until only her smile remained, like the Cheshire cat.
"Who was that?" Kento's voice asked.
"Didn't you recognize her?" Rowen laughed. "That was the Author, writing herself into the story!" They all laughed as the jeep vanished over the horizon.