Ranma walked into the room. It wasn't too bad, in the six months since he'd started doing orientations he'd seen better but he'd also seen a lot worse.
This bunch was mostly late twenties to early thirties and looked hard and well trained. Not like the last bunch which had all been clerk types who wanted to get into combat. Mostly for the wrong reasons.
"Ok. Here we go." Ranma took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Gentlemen may I have your attention. . . . Gentlemen! . . . Guys! . . . HEY!" Ranma whistled shrilly. "Shut the fuck up! . . . .Thank you!"
Everyone in the room looked at this kid, he wasn't what they had expected. And, as always, there seemed to be one guy who wound up elected spokesman for the group. Out of the twenty-five men in the group this one man was unspoken leader.
"Hey! We don't want a lecture from some flunkey, we were promised a George."
"And what am I? Chopped liver?"
"You're just a kid." The man managed to look apologetic instead of mad. So Ranma decided to take it easy on him.
"Yup, I'm a kid. But I'm a kid that got sold to slavers, killed my first man at not quite sixteen, nearly got flogged to death, had a building fall on me – you'll see a video later – and killed one wyvern and captured another; you'll get to see that one later too. And I let myself get swallowed by a dragon and killed it from the inside. So I take exception to being called 'just' anything."
Ranma consulted a clipboard, "If you'll all shut up, I'll call roll and we can get on with this. I'd like to be done by noon. My wife . . ." Ranma looked up at the snickers "Yeah, my wife. I'm married to Yao Sun, Amazon Princess. The first one who snickers again will be meeting me outside. And I guarantee, you won't like it."
Most of the men had the grace to look ashamed of themselves. The rest just looked puzzled. Finally one of the smart alecks said, "Amazon Princess? What the he . . . " and found himself nose to nose with Ranma.
"Watch your mouth. You don't say her name and a swear word in the same sentence. Just shut up, the bunch of ya, and I'll get the damn roll called."
"Yeah? You kiss your mother with that mouth?"
"No. Never kissed her at all."
Ranma called roll with ruthless efficiency and got the men lined up and into the theater. They would watch two videos, one of Ranma's fight in the stockade, back to back with news footage of him climbing out of the wreckage of the hotel, and another of his fight with the wyvern. Then they would see the wyvern.
He had found that he didn't mind doing orientations, Ryouga, more or less permanently in China, didn't do them. Steven and Kuno both hated it with a passion. Steven said he was too old and Kuno hated taking the time away from his businesses and his wife. Dr. Tofu wasn't qualified, although he'd proven to be a fine martial artist, he was definitely a healer. And he wouldn't trust Sunny anywhere near a bunch of lechers like this. Shuba had gone back to America to school. And Danny had refused to return after being betrayed by Downs, he was happily doing security work via computer.
Ranma started the video and sat to one side to watch the men. He'd already seen the video of himself in chains in the door and had impressed himself no end. He didn't believe he was such a showman. Or show off depending on how you looked at it. The video of the fight with the wyvern gave him chills. The OO'S and ayahs from the men made him sneer slightly.
"Ok folks, next we have question and answer, after you read this FAQ list. I get tired of answering the same questions over and over, so read first, ask second. If it's on the list and you ask it anyway I'll bite your head off. I'm . . . "
"Too damn young that's what. Do you think we're actually going to buy that shit? It's all special effect, movie stuff."
The man clenched his fists and faced Ranma who just shrugged, this happened every time. Someone didn't want to believe so they wouldn't.
"No. It's real; all too real. I'll show ya the scars. I always have to."
Ranma slipped off his shirt and tank top and let the men all see his scars, he pointed them out and told how he'd gotten them. After that he didn't have much trouble with them, they all sat down and read the FAQ sheet then followed him down to biology to see the wyvern, which was full grown by now, and quite impressive.
"You mean you caught that by yourself. I .. . Jesus, it's huge!"
"It was only a baby when I caught it. About three quarters that size. He's the size of the one I killed now. More or less."
"How'd you get it?"
"Knocked it out and duct taped it, trailered it here."
"Damn. I think I'm scared."
All the men in the group looked at him with renewed respect, Ranma smiled easily
"Don't start anything and I won't have to finish it. I don't fancy a flogging at this late date."
"Yeah. Read the hand book! It has a full civil ordinance book, appendix C. I recommend reading it. The compound is not only quasi-military but incorporated. We have our own 'city ordinances' with appropriate sentences, and Georges are a completely different set of cat all together. This is Japan, not America or Europe, we think a little differently. Get used to it. I, personally, don't react at all well to being locked up and we can't afford for any George to be out of combat for very long."
Ranma herded them back to the briefing room, made sure they all had a hand book then dismissed them. This time had been fairly easy, none of the men seemed completely stupid. He hoped that they had better luck than the last group, two-thirds of that group had failed or opted out; that was kind of depressing.
"Excuse me. I didn't want to ask this question in the group. May I ask you now?"
Ranma eyed the man, he didn't look like an idiot so Ranma shrugged and told him, "You can ask me anything you want, I don't guarantee I'll answer though."
"Ok. Fair enough. I notice some guys wandering around the Compound wearing royal blue berets. What's with that? They seem to get some kind of extra respect."
"Those guys are secondary team members. You'll read about them in the hand book. They are the guys who make sure that a George gets where he or she is supposed to be, when they're supposed to be there. Take the brunt of vermin attacks and watch my back . . . our backs. Kuno has lost three of his men. Ryouga is using
Amazons, Steven has had a complete turn over in the last five years. So far I haven't lost anyone. Thank God. So don't mess with them. Sometimes they're a little short of patience."
The man blinked once then asked, "How do I get on one of those teams? I want to be where the action is."
"You're stupid. You'll see plenty of action without getting on a team. There's lots of incursions that only have vermin and, believe me, they're handful enough for most soldiers. If you manage to survive several incursions, you'll be given a chance. If you still want it."
"Look, if you're implying I'm a . . . "
Ranma held up his hand, cutting the man off.
"Yeah, yeah. I've heard it all before. When you find yourself crouched over a gutted friend puking your guts out, remember what you said. I'm not implying anything. I just know how it goes. If, after a few missions, you still want to try out for one of the teams, you'll be given a chance. Then it's just a matter of qualifying and finding a spot. It's all in the hand book. Look, I hate to be short with you, but Sunny will skin me with a rusty file if I'm late again. I've got lunch with her and my foster sister and her husband."
"Ranma. You come on now. Kasumi and Tofu are waiting for us."
"Oi, Sunny. Coming." Ranma waived to Sunny and then turned to the man. "You go read the hand book. Get yourself settled in. There's no hurry. If you really want something and you're qualified, it'll come. Relax." Ranma trotted off toward Sunny, a cheery 'Bye' trailing behind.
Ranma kissed Sunny on the cheek and took the picnic basket from her. "Hey, what the hell do you have in here, half a cow? Next time get me to come home and get it."
"I'm an amazon, honey. In case you've forgotten. I can carry a basket."
Sunny laughed at Ranma and put her arm around his waist. They made a cute couple and everyone who saw them had to grin. Two eighteen-year-olds married didn't seem right, until you saw them, then you could tell that separating them would kill both of them.
"Heard from Kuno this morning. Got an e-mail. You get one? He didn't include a cc. echo."
"Don't know, I didn't check my mail yet. What did he have to say for himself?"
"He an' Nabiki are in Hawai'i. His pop is in the hospital with Kodachi, so they are staying there. Some kind of business vacation combo thing. He's not real happy. No one seems to realize that he and Nabiki are the guiding force behind all the changes in the company that have brought it back from the brink of bankruptcy. He's really hot. I wouldn't want to be some of the guys on the board of directors, he had the right of veto. Managed to get his pop to sign some kind of papers giving him full authority to run the company."
"Good for him. He's tried so hard to make a go of things, and Nabiki is so good for him, as well as the company. She's really good at budgets."
"Good? She can make a yen scream in agony. She's got us invested to the hilt in really good stocks and some bonds and what all else I couldn't tell you, but I trust her to do the job right, so we don't have to worry about it. I don't have the time to fool with it with my schedule, and you having to run that estate all by yourself, you don't have time to fool with it either. We're really lucky to have her to manage for us."
"Mother was really mad when the council said I had to run that estate to prove that I'm responsible. I'm responsible! I've got my healer duties and taking care of the house and you . . ."
"Hey! I can take care of myself."
"No you can't! You haven't got sense enough to come in out of the rain if I don't drag you. Baka."
Ranma had the grace to look slightly ashamed of himself, remembering the incident she was talking about.
"I'm better now. You know I just got sick because I hadn't recovered fully yet."
"Exactly. And who didn't you listen to?" Sunny reached out and took hold of Ranma's ear, gently shaking his head for him.
"You . . . Mistress."
Sunny laughed and poked Ranma, telling him to put the basket down. He put it down and opened it, taking a blanket out, he spread it out and plopped down on it. Sunny rummaged in the basket and handed him a plate then took one for herself. She started opening the containers of food and setting them out.
"We gonna wait for Kasumi and Tofu?"
Sunny nodded absently, she was trying to figure out what was in a container.
"They'll be right along, Tofu had some work to finish up. Some report. I swear this place doesn't run on its stomach; it runs on paperwork. Here . . . No, wait, here they come now."
Dr. Tofu and Kasumi came strolling up from the walk hand in hand. Damn, I'm glad to see that he's finally stopped acting like a complete idiot when he's around her. They've been married long enough.
Tofu helped Kasumi sit down and she smiled up at him with her heart in her eyes. They were almost as much in love as Ranma and Sunny. Tofu smiled back and sat behind her so she could lean against him.
They filled plates and passed things around until everyone had satisfied themselves that they had the best in the basket. Their squabbling was familial and gentle, Ranma's attempt to snag something off Tofu's plate balanced by Tofu's offer of the last rice ball. And Sunny and Kasumi managed to damp the testosterone by laughing at both of them until they looked sheepish and stopped.
"Excuse me, Sir."
Ranma looked at the Sargent with a rather jaundiced eye, he'd wanted to finish one meal this week without an interruption, but it didn't look like it was going to happen.
"I'm sorry to interrupt you, but there's a message from the Science Section."
"Written or verbal?" Ranma's scowl deepened and made the Sargent shiver slightly.
"Verbal, Sir. It's just 'Stand Down'. I'm not sure what that means, I was just told to find you and tell you . . . er . . . Sir?"
Ranma sighed and Sunny poked him, so he stood and saluted the man and nodded, "Dismiss."
"I'm sorry, Sir! Did I do something wrong?"
Ranma had the good grace to look embarrassed. "Naw, I'm just in a pissy mood. I wanted to eat with Sunny without gettin' bothered for once." Ranma brightened, "But I guess this does qualify," At the man's confused look he explained farther "Stand Down means that there aren't any incursions in the next forty-eight hours or so." The Sargent saluted again, then turned and left.
"Ranma, I swear, you're turning into a big grump. You need to get a better attitude or no one will want to work with you anymore."
Ranma plopped down and picked up his plate again. "I know. I just need another vacation, without being sick this time. It'd be nice to go to Hawai'i with Kuno and Nabiki, but if we go that'll leave Steven without backup and I don't want to do that. Maybe we can go during the next long break. The science guys have been getting a lot better about predicting timings. I like that."
Tofu mumbled around a mouthful of rice, "I like it too . . . makes it easier to keep the choppers and ambulances stocked properly. There's supposed to be another six-month break in the next four months. They aren't saying exactly just yet. Kasumi, this bean cake is excellent."
Sunny smiled; a six-month break. That would be nice. The last break was spent taking care of a very sick Ranma and trying to get their lives in some kind of order. She wanted to just go somewhere and vacation for once.
"Ranma could we . . . maybe go somewhere? Next break."
"Sure we can go anywhere you want to. With our salaries and whatnot we can afford to go almost anywhere you want to."
"Could we go to Hawai'i? Kuno says it's really pretty there."
"Sure. As soon as I'm sure we aren't needed, we'll go. You make the arrangements and I'll do the packing."
"Oh no you don't, I'll do the packing and you make the arrangements. If I let you do the packing, we'll wind up with AK-47's and ammo. Not clothes and swim suites."
"Oh I don't know, I might pack a wet suit or two. We could go scuba diving on the reefs; besides you never know when you might need extra ammo."
Sunny laughed and Kasumi and Tofu just smiled at them. After nearly losing Ranma after the dragon incident they had noticed that he wasn't quite as brash and had seemed to mature quite quickly. But he was still something of a joker.
After devouring a meal that would have foundered a horse, Ranma admitted that he'd been slacking off and had a mountain of reports and other paperwork to catch up on. He kissed Sunny and told them all good-bye then headed for his office.
"Hey Bricker, you got my reports ready in the computer?"
The Gunny looked up from her computer and jerked her head toward Ranma's office door.
"Ready and waiting, Boss. You better get going if you want to get them read and your homework done. You want to get that degree, you better hustle."
Ranma scowled he wanted the degree but the home work was killing him. The professors didn't seem to care that he was a working stiff and had other things to do beside cater to their idea of scheduling.
"Ok! I'm going, I'm going. I swear if I didn't want that degree so bad, I'd tell them all where to stick it. But if I'm gonna help Sunny with that estate and keep our finances in good shape I need a degree in accounting, bad. How much is left?" at Bricker's sour look he laughed. "And don't tell me you don't know, because you do."
"I do know. But only because the professor asked me to keep an eye on it and make sure you didn't fall too far behind. If you read your reports first, you should be done by seven. Or there abouts. So get to it."
"Bossy for just a Gunny, ain't cha." But Ranma's cheeky grin took the sting out of his words.
"Yeah, I am. Get to work! I don't want Steven reaming me out for letting you slack off."
Ranma sighed and went in to start reading reports. He knew if he got the reports done in time the Gunny would help him with his homework, so he knuckled down and read. When he finished reading the reports Gunny Bricker brought in several paper reports and told him. "Classified. Science Dept. Read Magic Investigations."
"Damn! I hate magic. You never know exactly what's going to happen with it. What have they come up with now?"
"Don't know. Don't need to know. And I'm glad I don't. I don't trust the stuff any more than you do. Probably nothing to do with you."
Gunny saluted and left. I wish she'd stop saluting me. I'm too young for that.
Ranma finished with all the reports in time to get the Gunny to help him with his accounting and e-mailed his work to the professor. They'd made arrangements for him to take most of his classes by e-mail so he wouldn't fall behind when he was on a mission, but that didn't make it much easier as the homework seemed to be heavier to make up for the lack of class time.
"Thanks Gunny. I really owe ya. I'd never get accounts receivable figured out. This shit is stupid. All I have to do is enter it into the computer and let the program figure it out."
"No, it isn't. What if you enter the figures into the wrong account, or debit a credit. You'd never be able to find it. That self check shit doesn't work half the time. It takes a human to find an error. I don't care what the computer Johnnie's say."
Ranma nodded, finally understanding what the problem was. "Gunny, you're right. Look, I'd love to stay and yack, but Sunny's gonna kill me if I don't get home on time at least once this week, and she's still watching me like a hawk. I'm not sick anymore but she insists on wrapping me up in cotton wool."
Gunny smacked him gently "Oh yeah, and it just hurts you so bad. She worried last mission, we all did. I don't think you're completely recovered yet. So go home, get some rest and whatever." The Gunny blushed, pushed Ranma out the door and followed him. "Best get going. I've got a date, so I don't have time to make sure you get all the way home. Scat."
Ranma scatted, he did want to get home on time. It wasn't fair to Sunny for him to be late all the time. She knew he had his duties to do, she had them too. But if she went to the trouble to cook a nice meal, he should be home in time to eat it hot. Kasumi had taught him that long before he'd gotten sick.
"Sunny, I'm home." The line never failed to make them both laugh. "What's for dinner? Smells fantastic."
"Sukiyaki and shrimp rice balls. Here, tea. Kiss." Sunny smiled at Ranma and handed him a cup of tea, settling beside him on a gomden they quietly talked about the day as they watched the sun go down and ate their dinner.
"Sunny, did you pack my . . . oh, never mind, here it is. And here's your yakuta. Do you want it packed in the carry on?"
Ranma continued to ramble as he packed for their trip to Hawai'i. They'd been lucky. The incursions were going to give them a break for about six months. So they were taking a vacation.
"Ranma, you can't take a whole duffle bag of weapons on the plane. And you certainly can't carry a knife."
"I know that. I mean, I know I can't carry a knife. I can ship my practice duffle and have it there before I get there. I'm shipping it to Kuno."
Sunny sneered gently, "You don't think Kuno has a whole complement of weapons at his home on the island?"
"Never know. I like my own anyway. Here, you can't take all these medicines either. They'll think you're smuggling drugs or something."
"Ha! I've got my licence with me and none of these medicines are prescription. They're all holistic or herbal or both."
"Yeah, and the herbals all look like pot to me."
"Yeah, patience, integrity, guts. Wo ai ne, Che Tzu."
"Wo ai ne, Soung Fu. Here, I'll only take the most useful medicines if you'll leave the weapons behind."
"Ok, but I don't have to like it."
"No, you don't."
After they finished packing, Ranma brought the truck around and picked up Sunny and all the baggage. They'd managed to keep it down to one large suitcase and two carry ons, which Ranma carried, leaving Sunny to manage the tickets and their other arraignments.
At the airport they checked in, boarded the plane and settled in. The stewardess thought that they were just the cutest couple, much to Ranma's disgust, especially when she tried to get them not to sleep on each other. She woke them up and scared Sunny half to death; that, to Ranma, was inexcusable and he snarled at her to leave them alone, a husband could sleep with his wife. To which she replied that they were too young to be married. That really set Ranma off and it was all Sunny could do to keep Ranma from making a small scene.
"Ranma if you don't stop, I'm not speaking to you until we get there."
"Sunny, damnit, I'm tired of this. We're married and that's all there is to it. If they don't like it, they need to just leave me alone, you too."
"Yes, but we're not in Japan anymore. These Americans are different, just let it go. Please."
"Ok, but only because you want me to."
The head stewardess came over and apologized to them, saying that the woman was rather stuffy and didn't think anyone under thirty had good sense. Ranma decided to let it go, only remarking that they'd like to get some sleep and would she please make sure that they weren't disturbed again.
"Ranma, I'm so proud of you. You didn't smack that woman for waking you up unexpectedly."
"Only because you were there, Sunny. You know you seem to calm me down so much that I don't react to stuff like I do when you're not around. If I'd been in a combat situation, she'd be toast."
"In combat is totally different and you know it."
"Yeah I suppose I do . . . now."
When they landed, the senior stewardess woke Ranma by throwing a pillow at him. He flinched slightly but woke muzzy instead of violent. She smiled and explained that her husband had been in Viet Nam and she'd been waking him that way for years.
"Oh well, I'm sorry if I was a pain. We're on vacation and both need the sleep. We've been on call for months."
"I see. At least you're not on watch-and-watch like we've been since last month. Flu."
"That's tough. Hope you don't get it. Sunny and I've been vaccinated until I feel like a pin cushion." Ranma finished gathering their carry ons and they headed out for the port authority.
When they got there the first thing the Customs Officers did was give Sunny's herbal medicines a through going over. Ranma stood in the background and tried really hard not to laugh. One of the men took exception to him.
"What do you think is so funny, young man? This is serious."
"I'm sorry. Really, I am. I'm not . . . Um . . . are you married."
"Yes." The officer flicked his eyes between Sunny and Ranma, making his opinion plain without saying anything. "What does that have to do with anything?"
"You ever tell your wife something and turn out to be right."
"Sure. All the time."
"Well . . . I told Sunny not to bring all that stuff. I said it would cause no end of trouble. But she wouldn't hear of it. Said my weapons would cause more trouble, but I was right and I intend to rub it in a little. You going to confiscate it?"
"I'm afraid so. If it was in sealed containers with commercial labels, we'd let it go. But . . . well, sorry. And I'll give you some advice. Don't rub it in. Your weapons would have caused much more trouble."
"Naw. I was gonna ship them to a friend. They'd have been through customs by now and waiting at his house for me. Besides, rubbing it in will get me a smack. Then she'll be sorry. And making up is so much fun."
The man smiled at him and asked how long they'd been married, Ranma told him and he grinned, remarking, "I bet that went over real well with your parents."
"Mine aren't around, but her mom was in on it. It was an arranged thing, sort of. We've got a whole compound of babysitters."
"Bet you hate that."
"Not really. They've kept us from making some really stupid mistakes and they don't mind our business more than necessary. Kinda nice really."
"Wow. How mature is that. I know people three times your age that don't have that good an attitude. You in some sort of military? Act like it's why I asked."
"Yeah, I'm in a military organization. You won't believe it, but I kill dragons."
The man snickered softly but smiled in a way that told Ranma he was just surprised. Just then Sunny snarled softly. The customs men had taken all her medicines and she was getting ready to make a scene
"Sunny, let it go. Kuno will know the best herbalist in the islands. Come on. I won't even say I told you so."
"You just did!"
One look at Sunny's disgruntled face and Ranma had to bite his tongue to keep from laughing, which wouldn't be good. He didn't fancy sleeping on the beach. After thanking the officers and grinning at them behind Sunnys' back he gathered up their luggage again.
"So tu mee here. Sooo tuuu meee. Oiy Mister you Ranma So tu mee?"
The driver was holding up a card with Ranma and Sunny's names written on it in kanji, otherwise neither of them would have known who the man wanted.
"Yeah. Only it's Sa o tow may."
"Sorry brudda. No speekee dee language. I'm Samoan."
"That's nice. But could you drop the turista accent?"
"Sure man. Only do it because the malahini's expect it. Goin' to the Kuno estate? Big place. Real nice."
"Yeah, Kuno's a friend of mine."
"Wouldn't know it to look at you. You're way too young for that crazy old man." Wannabe surfer dude nut case.
"No. Not him, his son. We work together."
"Ah. Boy's my son's age. Good guy. Well, there's your stuff, get in and we'll go. Speaking of which, the lady should. It's a long drive and not many places to stop."
Sunny remarked cheerfully that she was ok but that half way there she'd probably have to stop.
"But I can go behind a bush. I'm not shy that way."
"Ok. Lady, there's a pit stop just about half way, so I'll plan on stopping. But you might not want to leave right away, the view is fabulous. We go now."
Half way there the man stopped the car at a pull out with a small rest stop and let them out. The first thing both of them did was take care of business, then they spent the next half hour looking at the views. They admired an almost 360-degree view of volcanic mountains covered with tropical greenery and dotted with waterfalls. The lush Hawai'ian jungle made them both wish they had time for a hike.
"All 'board. We got to go or I'll be drivin' in the dark an' I don' wanna do that up here."
Another half hour saw Sunny hugging Nabiki and Ranma slapping Kuno on the back, while servants unloaded the baggage and carried it into the house. Kuno raised his eyebrows at the three bags and whispered, "How did you manage to keep her from packing the house?"
"Promised her a shopping trip in Honolulu. You got weapons?"
Kuno gave him a disgusted look. "Of course I do. You'll like the dojo. Inside and outside workout areas. Nice out door shower and hot tub. I also have a masseuse on site and a doctor."
"A what, . . . why . . . I'm . . ."
"Not for you, Fool, for Kodachi. I wanted a physician in house for her. Now that she's going to be permanently at St. Cecilia's I hate to just let the man go. I told him to take his time finding a new position, he's looking, but I'm not putting any pressure on him to go."
"Oh . . . sorry. I'm still a little touchy. Not that I'm at all sick, but everyone seems to think I'm still . . . off, or something."
"Damnit, Ranma we nearly lost you, so just put up with it."
"Yeah, ok. Just don't conspire with Sunny to coddle me. I need to workout more, not less. I'm on call again and I don't want to be less than my best."
Ranma finally got a real look at the house. It was a pre-colonial, four storey, huge, white plantation house that had been in the family since the 1860's. He felt his jaw drop and gulped
"Damn man, that thing is huge. Got a map? Sunny . . . where's Sunny. She go in already?"
Sunny cam running out just then and grabbed Ranma by the arm, hauling him into the house to admire the architecture and see the suite that Nabiki had put them in. She nattered on and on about how nice it was and how much fun they were going to have. Ranma nodded and grunted at appropriate times and let her go, if she was happy, he was too, he didn't care if they were sleeping in the Taj Mahal or a ditch.
"Look, look, a parrot! Right in the room! See? Isn't he pretty?"
"Yeah, Sunny, gorgeous. Big bird. Nice rooms."
Ranma managed to get a good look at their rooms and was impressed. They were authentic colonial, a son's suite. The rooms reserved for the eldest son of the family and his bride. There was a large sitting room, a bath room, a bedroom big enough to roller skate in and a private veranda with a stair case to the gardens.
"These rooms will be yours anytime you want them. You're welcome here anytime. I've also given the Tofu's a suite. I hope we can all get together for Christmas or something each year. Ryouga refused rooms. But he and Leela have a cottage on the grounds."
"Why didn't he want rooms?"
"Seems she's a screamer."
"Oh. Wow. Glad Sunny's not. You'd think she would be, as much as she talks, but she gritts her teeth. I tend to moan, so don't worry if you hear me."
"Nabiki and I have rooms on the opposite side of the house, you could scream like a banshee and we wouldn't hear it. There's an inter-house phone system, so we aren't out of touch. Just push one, if I'm not in the office, they'll find me for you.
"I'll leave you now and let you get cleaned up and rest a little. Meet me in the garden gazebo in about an hour, we'll have a light meal and visit. Oh! The bird isn't tame, so don't try to pet him. He just showed up one day and doesn't show any inclination toward leaving."
Sunny headed for the showers and Ranma decided to join her. After showering and washing hair, they each combed out the other's hair and sat on the veranda, letting the early afternoon breezes dry it. It felt good to just sit. They'd had so little time lately. What with the fight against the dragon, which included them getting married, if you could call it that. Then Ranma allowing himself to be eaten by the dragon and the aftermath of that, including Ranma getting sick. Sunny still wanted to smack him for that one. And setting up house keeping because of the Amazon attitude to Ranma's status.
"How long you wanna stay?"
Sunny stretched and yawned, ran a hand through her hair to see how dry it was and considered.
"How 'bout till the next run of incursions starts?"
"'K. I have to manage that estate, but I can do it from here as easily as from the Compound."
"Why don't you just let it go? You keep saying it's small. Is it worth the worry? I make enough to support us and if it's going to worry you that much, I don't care if you let the council take it."
"It's only small if you compare it to other estates my family owns. But I don't care for it much. I'm going to inherit a bunch of bigger ones, sooner or later, and Mom says I'm doing quite well. The estate is some kind of test the council insists on. If I can bring this one back from the edge of ruin, they'll consider me fit to rule. It's entirely up to you though."
Ranma tugged Sunny into position between his thighs and started combing her hair into silky smoothness.
"Not really. It's up to you. It's your estate so you do what you want with it. If you want to worry with it, ok; but don't feel like you need to keep it for the money. We're well set up thanks to Nabiki. With the money Mom turned over to me and my salary and one thing and another, we're good." Ranma started braiding Sunny's hair.
"I feel bad for the people who live there. They need the help and I suppose I really should but . . . look. I know it's cheating, but I'm going to turn the whole mess over to Kuno Nabiki and let her mess with it. She'll love it."
"Ok, fine by me. Give her forty percent and she'll be ecstatic."
"Done. Here let me at that."
Sunny switched places with Ranma and braided his hair for him. He tipped his head back into her lap and she bent down to kiss his forehead, but he tipped farther and caught her lips wit his own. When they broke apart, they were both breathing heavily and Sunny giggled as she remarked that it felt strange to kiss upside down.
They headed for the gazebo and arrived just as Nabiki and Kuno did
"Oh Kuno-baby, they look so cute together. Don't they?"
Kuno eyed Ranma and wondered how anyone could call him cute, he was even more muscular than ever and seemed a little taller. His arrogance had diminished, to be replaced by a self-confidence that made him commanding even flat on his back. Which he was now, having flopped onto the floor of the gazebo in a rather inelegant sprawl at Sunny's feet.
"Nice." Nabiki remarked
"I'm a good slave." Ranma's expression said anything but and Nabiki realized that his position gave him a good view of Sunny's shapely legs.
"Ranma you know you're not a slave. You're my property."
"That's different – how?" Ranma eyed Sunny affectionately
"Well, it just is. One of those Amazon traditional 'things' that aren't easily explained to outsiders."
"I'm a Proprietary Spouse. That explains it all. The council is being a real pain in the ass. I had a discussion with Kuo Long. But she couldn't explain it any better."
"Nabiki, you know you'll never get a good explanation. The Chinese doesn't translate into Japanese at all and English is even worse.
"Kuno-baby, I don't care what the explanation is. If Ranma doesn't mind and I can't make any money from it, never mind. Here's the tea."
Ranma got up and sat in the chair next to Nabiki, between her and Sunny. They took their cups and the conversation turned to Sunny's estate, incursions and current news. It was agreed that the news services were making a muddle of incursions, as usual, and that Nabiki would take over running the estate for thirty percent of the profits. Which wouldn't be much, she'd already checked into the current condition of the estate knowing that Sunny would at least ask her for advice. And it needed an injection of cash just to keep it going. All the profits needed to be invested in improvements for the foreseeable future. Sunny told her to do whatever was necessary to keep the estate solvent and make sure the people there were taken care of.
"The communists just about ruined the place. And the people haven't had a school in forever. Just what I need to deal with on top of everything else. I'm glad you are letting me delegate it to you. Nabiki, don't let it wear you down, if it gets too bad, I'll just tell the council to kiss my ass and let them deal with it."
Sunny shrugged. That was taken care of to her satisfaction. Ranma couldn't care less, it wasn't his estate and he didn't know the first thing about estate management anyway, so he was staying safely out of it. He took a page from Steven's book, never mess around in your wife's business unless she asks you to and even then it was a mine field, he'd missed all the mines this time and he was relieved. Accounting classes aside he really didn't want to get involved in something like that.
"Vacation, Che Tzu. Not working. Please. Tea?"
"Yes, thank you. Ranma, I'm pleased with your progress in speaking better. You don't sound like a rice farmer anymore unless you're really angry."
"Thank you. And thank Kuno. He's been on me and I've been studying with one of the guys I met in the Stockade. But you're right when I get mad it all goes to hell."
"Well, you just have to watch your temper. Not that you lose it like you used to."
Kuno put his cup down and smiled. "I have to say that he's matured a lot since I first came to the Compound. Not to mention before that. Not that I haven't as well. We all grew up a lot over the last two years."
"Kuno-baby, speak for yourself. I was all grown up years ago."
Taking the path of least resistance, they all just drank tea or took a bite of cookie. It wasn't polite to talk with your mouth full, thank goodness.
After the light meal, Ranma wasn't sure what to call it, too early for supper too late for lunch, Kuno had called it High Tea. But how could tea be high? Ranma wasn't sure, but the food had been good and the tea the best. Ranma realized his mind was wandering and Sunny was gently poking him in the ribs.
"Huh? Sorry, mind wandered."
"Might want to put a leash on it. Wouldn't want it to get lost would we? Hmmm?" Nabiki gave Ranma a wide-eyed innocent look and leaned against Kuno "Kuno-honey was asking if you surfed."
"No, but I'd sure like to try."
"I have several boards, take your pick. And tomorrow morning I'm running on the beach. Then we can go to the dojo and work out with my instructor. There'll finally be several sparing partners as well."
"I'd like that. I'll see you in the morning at . . ."
"Six A.M. I'll have one of the servants knock on the door at five thirty."
"Don't do that. I want Sunny to sleep in. She's been up before me since I got hurt and I want her to be able to sleep in. I'll get up. I've gotten used to getting up without an alarm if I need to. Just kinda tell myself to get up and I do. Amazing what getting enough sleep most of the time will do for a guy."
Sunny yawned widely and grumbled, "I'd like to sleep in but if you jiggle the bed, I'll be up. And if you want to work out just be aware of how you feel and don't overdo it or I'll tie you to the bed for a few days and you won't get to go surfing and don't hurt any of the sparing partners too much I don't want to have to come and take care of your leftovers. Kiss me I'm talking and I can't shut up."
Ranma did exactly that and they parted, the Kuno's going to their offices, and Ranma and Sunny going to their suite to rest until supper, which was going to be late tonight.
"Morning Ranma, you should get up now."
"Damnit Sunny, I wanted you to sleep in this morning."
Sunny rolled over and pulled the sheet over her shoulder again, Ranma finished tucking it in as she mumbled, "I am. I'm going right back to . . . "
Ranma stroked Sunny's hair for a moment before he gathered the clothes he'd laid out into one hand and his shoes into the other. He slipped out the door onto the veranda and dressed, then headed for the beach where he was to meet Kuno.
They met at the foot of the path to the beach and started running. Kuno took the hard sand right at the water's edge but Ranma kept to the softer sand just above the high tide line. They ran for quite some time and Kuno wondered how far they were going to go, he ran eight miles every other day and spend several hours a week practicing kata and sparing. Ranma, he knew was used to a far more rigorous routine but he wasn't sure how much he'd recovered.
Ranma kept his eye on Kuno, he was almost up to his old level and he wasn't sure if Kuno could keep up or not, he didn't want to out run him, then he realized that they were eyeing each other and started to laugh.
"Kuno baby, how far do you want to go. I'll let you decide when to turn back, I'm on vacation after all and Sunny will kill me if I over do it."
"We'll head back when we reach the tiki. And don't call me baby. Nabiki only does that because she knows it annoys the shit out of me and she likes to keep me on edge. Says it makes me sexier. Fool woman."
"Yeah? Don't knock it. She's just right for you. Sometime you have to tell me the whole story behind you two getting together. You two really did a fast job."
Kuno smirked at Ranma and just shook his head. He wasn't about to tell Ranma that particular story just yet. He'd never hear the end of it.
They finished their run and headed for the dojo, with Kuno in the lead. When they got there Ranma sighed to himself, he was going to have trouble with the Sensai. All he wanted to do was work out with Kuno but he bet this man would fail to see what was before him. They always did. Steven said it was because he was small and looked younger than he was. Ranma thought it was because they were arrogant, their size and strength making them blind to the subtleties of the art.
He decided to keep his mouth shut and see what was what before he started something that wasn't needed
"Well Kuno-sama. Is this your guest?" at Kuno's nod he looked Ranma over. "Hello young man, I hope we can have an effective workout. What is your level?"
Ranma eyed the man and shrugged, "I'm not sure. I've never tested. Anything Goes doesn't really have levels."
"If you practice Anything Goes, then you're way ahead of most of my students. I'll pair you with Kuno and watch you for a while. I'd hate to pair you with someone else and have one of you hurt the other." Ranma relaxed, remembering the other Sensai who'd had the same attitude. Need to go see them, soon.
"Would it help if I told you I killed a dragon by myself?"
"Not really. Killing an animal is entirely different from fighting a human that can think. It's an indication of your strength but not your intelligence."
"Ok. Come on Kuno, let me whip up on you."
Ranma paced off the dojo so he knew how much room he had to work with. Kuno watched him walk, he was a little taller and heavier than he had been the last time they worked out, but he still moved like a panther all lithe muscles and suppressed power.
The Sensai watched too, and shuddered slightly. This young man was something he hardly ever dealt with, he was self confident to the ultimate degree, but he'd outgrown cockiness. This young person was no boy, he'd been tempered in combat and his confidence was evident in every move he made. This man was very dangerous.
"Kuno-sama, are you sure? This man could hurt you badly."
"Ranma has regularly beaten me for years. I'm use to it. He won't do me any damage. You just watch. You'll see a display of the art that will stay with you forever . . . oh . . . don't blink"
Ranma and Kuno faced off, then the Sensai and the sparing partners could only stand and watch as the two seemed to disappear then reappear all over the dojo. It was a typical match between them with Ranma beating Kuno in about two minutes.
"Oww! Ranma damnit. Someday. . . "
"Yeah? When I've got two broken legs and a concussion . . . maybe."
Kuno laughed and slapped Ranma on the back, he handed Ranma a sword and waited as he tested the balance and reach. Then they had a short match, short because Ranma ran all over Kuno again.
"I Don't think the partners I brought will be good enough for either one of you. That's a shame because most of them could use the money. Well . . . "
Kuno got a little short with the Sensai. "I hired them to come here. I don't think I said they wouldn't get payed unless they spared. I'm paying them for their time. If you don't feel that any of them are up to my weight or Ranma's, that's too bad. But they get payed."
Ranma was looking the men over with a practiced eye. Some of them looked like they might give him a run for his money. If they attacked in concert.
"Hey, Sensai. Fuck! Kuno you didn't introduce me."
Kuno gave Ranma an odd look. The Sensai was well known in Hawai'i, then he realized that Ranma wouldn't know him. He apologized and introduced them, Ranma bowed with an odd dignity and when the Sensai bowed, he gave Kuno a glare over his head. Damn I'm toast now.
"I am sorry. I should have introduced myself."
"I'm sorry too. I should have been more polite and made sure we were introduced. I'm just used to everyone knowing who I am."
The sensai laughed, "Me too. So we're both to blame. Tell me where you learned your art. I've never seen anyone like you before. I saw someone on tv a while ago that had similar moves but they were . . .killing a something or other. If you can believe it."
"Ummm . . . . that was me. It was a wyvern."
"Oh. I . . .wow." The man hesitated then decided that anything he could say had already been said. "Well let me introduce you to my class. They've all been chosen for their skills to come spar with Kuno-sama. But I see that you are very far above them. They'll have to 'gang' up on you to do any good at all."
"That's ok. I don't usualy spar with anyone but Steven. I don't think I'll spar with your students. No offence intended but I'm afraid I'll hurt someone. I don't want that. An artist has to take responsibility for his actions and I don't need to be responsible for crippling someone."
"That's a more mature attitude than some of my students in their thirties have. I'm very impressed." The Sensai bowed to Ranma and motioned to his students to come forward. "Perhaps you would like to see a demonstration of our skills. Just so it isn't a wasted trip out?"
"Sure" Ranma settled on a gomden in seiza and prepared to watch. "I'm always willing to watch someone else work up a sweat. I might even see something new. Kuno?"
Kuno sat next to Ranma, he was just glad that the senior students weren't going to be offended. He'd had high hopes of finding sparing partners but if the Sensai said they weren't up to his weight he wasn't going to force the issue.
When the students were done. Ranma and Kuno stood and bowed. The students bowed back and they all broke, the students gathering around the two younger men and asking all sorts of questions. Ranma didn't mind this kind of question, the men were all respectful and didn't ask any personal questions, they were all about technique and skills. After thirty minutes they all sort of wandered off, one way or another, some for drinks, others to discuss what they'd seen and learned and some just to loiter in the balmy Hawai'ian breezes.
Ranma stretched and poked Kuno in the shoulder. They'd had a good workout and managed to avoid hurting feelings or bodies. Kuno led the way to breakfast with a satisfied air. This vacation was going to be good for everyone.
Breakfast was a leisurely affair, as you would expect in a tropical setting. The bird, no one was exactly sure what kind of parrot it was, flew to the veranda railing and shamelessly begged for bits of fruit. Bobbing his head and squawking 'yummy yummy' until someone gave him a bit. When Ranma tossed him one, he snapped it out of the air but gave him a one-eyed look that had all of them laughing and Ranma apologizing "Sorry Bird-san" and giving him a bit to make up.
They spent the next hour or so feeding the bird and playing with it, it was amenable to most of their silliness but didn't like having even bits of food thrown at it. It squawked at them and flapped its wings making feathers fly.
"Kuno, I think it escaped from someone. Maybe you should put an add in the paper."
Kuno stretched and poked Nabiki with his foot. "See about that will you, love?"
"Sure Kuno-baby. You taking Ranma surfing this afternoon?"
"No. Sorry. Ranma, I've got a conference call. Just pick out a board and go down to the beach. It's private but there are always a few locals there that'll be happy to teach you. Do not try to learn by yourself. You'll only break the board or the leash."
"Ok, ok. I'll be careful and listen to the real surfers, if there are any of them there. Sunny, you coming?"
"No. Nabiki is taking me into Honolulu to shop. I'm buying a new bikini."
"Ok. But don't buy one of those thong things. I hate butt floss, looks gross."
"Well, aren't you the complimentary little man." Nabiki couldn't help teasing Ranma a little. He looked so serious and sounded so . . . husbandly.
"Tease all you want. But I don't want my wife showing off that much butt." Nabiki and Kuno almost choked, view a jealous Ranma in husband mode. "Ok, so I'm a little jealous. Kuno tell me Nabiki has a thong and I'll shut up."
"My wife would never insult the honor of the name Kuno by wearing something so revealing." Kuno stuck his nose in the air in mock hauteur.
"Not to mention that I hate the feel of something 'there'. It's uncomfortable as hell" Nabiki finished her last bit of juice, checked her dayrunner and walked off with Sunny in tow, calling over her shoulder "Kuno-baby, you better get in the office . . . call starts in five minutes."
Ranma laughed, tossed one last treat to the bird and headed for the beach house that contained the surf boards and wet suits. He couldn't decide wether to wear a suit or not, so when he got to the house he was glad to see that there was a man there who could help him decide.
"Hey! Sa o tow may. Aloha. You surfin'? Here for a board an' stuff, huh."
"Yeah. I'm here for stuff. But I've never surfed before so I don't have a clue."
"Ok. I gotta measure you. You 'member me?"
"Sure! You're the limo driver. You never told me your name and, I'm sorry, we were too tired to ask."
"Oh! No worries. It's Mano, means shark, among other things. Your name mean anything?"
"Yeah. Ranma means wild horse and Saotome means rice planter." Ranma looked around at the boards and picked one he liked. "Here, how about this board, I like it. Do you think I need a wet suit?"
"Board's good, right size for you an' ever'ting. You don't need a suit unless you're a real freeze bug."
Mano handed down the board and looked at Ranma for a second. Ranma examined the board and decided he didn't want a suit. So Mano pointed down the beach saying, "You'll find some guys there. They got permission to be here. Old man Kuno liked to watch the surfers. Couldn't surf himself to save himself from drowning. Couldn't swim for shit. Only calm water for that one."
Ranma took the board and grinned. "No wonder he couldn't teach Akane to swim. I always wondered about that. Oh, better give me some of that tanning oil. If I get a sunburn Sunny's gonna shoot me. Doesn't pay to piss her off. She'll nag until the sun goes down."
"Don' piss off your wahine. Don' get no nookie that way. Go, go. Have fun. Those boys a bit rough but got good hearts."
Ranma headed off down the beach and found the group of surfers who immediately started trying to piss him off.
"Hey! Private beach here. Don' want pilikia wit' you."
Ranma just looked down at the hand on his chest and then back at the boy who owned it. He grabbed his temper with both hands.
"I don't know what pilikia is but I don't need trouble."
"Dat pilikia. Trouble. We don't want none either. Best go back the way you came."
"I'm a guest of Kuno-chan, Mano said to find you and get you to teach me how to surf. "
"Oh? Polunu, go see Mano Wikiwiki 'K?"
"Sure man I'm gone."
The skinny boy headed for the beach house and Ranma watched him run. He was well set up, as were all the boys, but they were children to Ranma. He reminded himself to be gentle with them. They didn't know him so they were bound to be careless around him.
"You guys got names? Or do I just call you all 'hey you' and hope I get the right one?"
"Ha? Aloha! Me, I'm Nui, dat Kei, the runner, he's Polunu. You are?"
"Ranma Saotome. Hi. . . un . . Aloha?"
They were interrupted by Polunu coming back rather breathless. He talked to Nui in rapid Hawai'ian and then Nui grinned.
"You ok. Some kinda big shot in Nihon? You Kepani, huh."
"Un. . . I'm Japanese and I don't know about being a big shot. I'm more of an exterminator than anything else. You gonna teach me to surf, or what?"
All three looked sheepish, laughing and nodding. They led Ranma down to the sea and had him put his board in the water. After getting leashed to his board Ranma knelt on it while they showed him how to paddle out to the best place to catch a wave.
While they waited, they questioned Ranma, not on what he did but what he wanted out of his vacation. He answered all their questions and asked a bunch of his own.
"Ok! Here we go. Paddle! Paddle! Go hard . . . you're catchn' it. Go . . . go."
Ranma caught his first wave and happily rode it to the shore. He stayed flat on his belly like they'd told him to and enjoyed the ride. When he got in, they all slapped him on the back and congratulated him on his first ride. Then they started teaching him how to stand up on the board. That was when his martial arts training kicked in. He stood on the board in the shallow water and they waited for him to over balance and fall in. But with his sense of balance that didn't happen. So they paddled out again and waited for Ranma to catch another wave.
"Hey, I forgot to ask you. You swim good?"
"Yeah, I swim good."
"How good you swim, brudda?"
"I've made it from Japan to China."
The three surfers looked at Ranma but didn't say anything. Hawai'ians don't call anyone a liar, it's rude. They just wait for proof one way or the other. They weren't long in getting the proof of Ranma's story.
While they were floating, watching for a good wave, a rip tide developed suddenly. It was so sudden it swept Kei away, dumping him off his board and separating him from it by the length of the leash. Without thinking, Ranma popped off his leash, rolled off his board and swam to Kei. He scrambled on the board, paddled to Kei and hauled him on the board in front, then he paddled to shore.
"Aie. You see that? Just like a motor boat! Never saw anyone paddle that fast before. Here . . . we get the water out of him, he'll be ok. Just let him breath. Get him a towel, wrap him up."
Ranma snapped the sand out of a towel and wrapped Kei in it. It seemed that he'd hit his head when he fell off his board, he had a lump and he looked a little woozy. They all patted and poked at him and Ranma finally declared him 'stunned but good'.
"You a doc?"
Nui eyed Ranma who admitted that he wasn't, but that he'd had medic training from the best available. He offered his shirt, even though it was wet it would help Kei avoid shock. The scare had used up his adrenalin and the rush was making him shake.
When they saw his scars he didn't get the usual reaction, instead they examined them and exclaimed over them. None of the boys seemed disgusted or bothered, instead they wanted to know how he'd gotten them wanting stories.
"Aww, you guys ain't interested in a buncha war stories. They're boring."
"Look, man. We Hawai'ians are a peaceful people. We don't start nothing, but we can fight if we need to. We all like stories a lot. You tell or are you to too proud to swap stories with a bunch of surfer dudes."
"Ok you start" Ranma figured that would stop them, but it seemed that they all had stories.
So Polunu showed Ranma a funny looking scar on his thigh and told him about getting caught in a squall while he was out fishing with his father and the out rigger breaking and stabbing a splinter into it. Then Nui showed a scar and told his story. Finally Kei told his and then they all pinned Ranma with firm looks.
"Now you tell. No backing out. Not fair. We told, now you have to."
"Ok. You point and I'll tell, but choose carefully. Some stories aren't fit for anyones ears but I'll tell. And you won't like it."
"Ok, um . . . that one."
Luckily they pointed to the Imp scars,, so Ranma told how he'd gotten them watching as their eyes got bigger and bigger. Then they all sighed, Polunu finally exclaimed, "You're that guy! That Ranma!"
Ranma admitted that he probably was, and asked how they knew anything about him. When they explained that there had been a documentary on tv, he groaned silently, wondering exactly what had been in the fool thing. But he decided not to worry about it, done was done, and throwing a fit now was slightly immature.
"Oh well . . . can't put the meat back in the nut after it's cracked. You guys want to go on surfing or what."
"Naw! Waves are gone. Tides out and we better get back home, get this fool fed and so on. Thanks for saving his sorry butt. We'd miss him."
They all gathered up their stuff and headed back to the house.
"You all go to Kuno's?"
"Naw, we park behind the garage so as Mano knows who's here. He keeps track."
As they left Ranma heard one of them tell the others, "I'm glad we didn't ask about that long scar on his back. I don't think that story would have been half as good. Great guy. Hope he stays around a while."
Ranma headed back to the house with a light heart and showered. After his shower he decided to take a nap, the tropical setting seemed to encourage that sort of thing.
When he woke up, he looked around to find Sunny sitting in a Papa San watching him sleep with a silly smile on her face.
"How you feeling, Koi? You look good. Better than I've seen you in a while."
Ranma yawned and rolled over onto his stomach to smile sleepily.
"Feel good. Sleep helps, especially as I don't have to worry about call outs. You?"
"Shopped till Nabiki dropped. We had fun. I like Hawai'i. The people are so nice . . . all treated me like a long lost cousin."
Ranma crawled off the bed, took Sunny in his arms and spent the next few minutes alternately kissing her and telling her about his day. She gave him a swat and growled, "Trust you to get into a mess first thing. Is that boy ok?"
"Far as I can tell. Bumped his head. The guys acted like they knew what to do for him. They took him home."
"Oh. Good. Where's that bird? " Sunny looked around expectantly. "I don't see him."
"I haven't seen him either. Maybe Kuno will know. It's almost dinner time. I'm hungry."
Sunny glared at Ranma sternly. "You didn't eat lunch did you." At Ranma's sheepish head shake, she demanded, "and why not?"
"Surfing and then came home, fell asleep and just missed out somehow. Sunny, don't frown like that. I won't starve to death from missing one meal. After all, I'll make up for it at dinner. It's bound to be plenty. We're supposed to have a luau, whole roasted pig, the whole shooting match. Come on."
Ranma hauled Sunny onto the veranda and down the stairs, headed for the luau site, with Sunny giggling and protesting all the way.
"Come on, Sunny, we don't want to be late. Roast pig and all the trimmings, I can't wait. Do you think there will be dancers? I'd like to see hula."
"If there are dancers, what makes you think they will all be girls. Guys do hula too, you know."
"Well, if there are, I'd like to see that too. I never thought of guys doing hula. Seems kinda funny to me."
When they got to the luau site Ranma immediately went to sit by Kuno. They sat gossiping companionably, Kuno grumbling about the conference call that kept him stuck in the house all day. Ranma filled him in on his surfing experience and Kuno motioned Mano over. After telling him to post a rip tide warning, he also thanked him for taking such good care of Ranma
"No madda, Boss. He good fella. Kanunu is fine. He save my sista' son from bad pilikia. Near drownded. Him make ok now."
"Ranma. Trust you to be in the middle of trouble. How do you do that?"
Ranma managed to look sheepish. "Wasn't much. He just fell off his board and hit his head. You know me I'm a shit magnet."
"Ya' Kanunu. They tell alla' bout you. Good storys. I'd like to hear about the . . . .oh! Hey! Gotta go."
Mano took off, headed for the gate, a truck full of dancers was trying to pull off onto the grass. Where they would surely get stuck, he managed to head them, off but you could hear him yelling in a mixture of Hawai'ian and pidgin.
"Ranma, if they get to talking too much pidgin, just tell them. They're all good people. Even the surfers. They tend to be a little territorial, but . . ."
"We already got that taken care of thanks. I really like them, they're friendly as hell and they did take good care of me. Here! That's one of them over there. I'm going to go talk to him. Where's Sunny?"
"She went over to the dancers already."
Ranma headed for the group of dancers, which was about equally divided between men and women. They were milling around in the gate, getting their stuff sorted out. He'd never seen drums like theirs and there was enough grass to start a good sized fire. Also, some pretty tablecloths.
"Here, let me take those. I'll take them to the picnic for you."
"What you say? What fo' you wanna . . . "
"Whoa! Didn't understand a word after 'What'."
"Ah! Sorry. What did you say? Why do you want to take our sarongs to the luau."
"Um . . . tablecloths?" Ranma pointed to the folded cloth on the tailgate.
"No, man. Sarong. Here. I'll show you."
The lady tugged at Ranma's shirt and laughed as he pulled the hem back down. They were distracted by Sunny calling Ranma to see the sarong she was wearing. Ranma couldn't help but grin as she walked toward him, hips swaying, the sarong clung to her figure making him wonder if they could sneak off for a little while.
"Un unn, don't even think it. I'll never get this thing back on right. I'll need a few more lessons before I can do that. You likee."
"Me likee much. Come here, Wahine."
Ranma spent a few seconds wondering if he should kiss Sunny, then he found them shoved gently together so he kissed her, to the genial hoots and laughter of the Hawai'ians gathered around.
"Kiss her good, kiss her fine, you don't wanna, I make her mine."
Ranma mock snarled at the chanting group and, taking Sunny's hand, turned her around whistling appreciatively
"Ok, you animals. She's mine, she's mine, I kiss her good, I kiss her fine."
The group broke up and headed in various directions. Ranma watched Sunny go off with the girls who had promised her hula lessons. He couldn't wait to see her dance. He wondered if the guys did hula too. So he asked, and was told, "Sure. Men do hula." at his face the guy laughed. "Men do hula different. You'll see."
Ranma thought about it for a second. "But I want to dance too. I want to dance for Sunny. If she dances for me it's only fair."
"Ok, you good fella. I'll teach you to dance hula."
So Ranma got hula lessons. He learned the hula, men don't dance the same way the women do and he had fun learning the chest slapping, stamping dances that men do. He was told that each dance told a story and they had him learn a dance about hunting. When they finally got done, he was the only one not panting a little.
"Hey! Man you got wind like a hurricane. What you do for a living?"
"I'm an exterminator. I kill things that no one wants around."
"Like what? Dragons an stuff?"
"Yeah. You've probably seen me on that damn documentary on tv. "
"You do that martial arts. What kind?"
So Ranma told them, which led to some testosterone loaded horsing around. All in good fun but finally one of the men started doing pushups and showing off, so Ranma watched until he couldn't stand it anymore, especially as the mans girlfriend sat on his shoulders while he did ten.
"Hey Mano, come here a sec."
Mano wandered over to see what he wanted. Ranma got him to sit on his shoulders and started doing one handed pushups with the three hundred pound man on his back. Amazingly, no one made any remarks about him showing off, they just counted until someone called a halt, telling Ranma not to wear himself out so early in the evening as there was plenty going on later.
Kuno, who'd watched with amusement as the genial, friendly Hawai'ians drew Ranma into their circle, finally managed to get Ranma to sit down and rest. A real accomplishment, since Ranma was used to such a high level of activity that he could, and had, worn out whole battalions. While they sat, Kuno examined Ranma covertly, he looked good and he'd been back to active duty for quite a while but he couldn't help worrying.
When the pig was done, they started eating. Ranma had helpings of everything, only refusing poi, saying it looked like dragon guts. 'And I should know'. Everyone who didn't know Ranma was astonished at the amount of food he ate, but the cooks all appreciated his unabashed pleasure in the well-cooked dishes.
The dancing had started while they were eating and when they were finished eating the dancers started trying to get the diners to get up. Nabiki firmly refused, pleading too full a stomach and Kuno just laughingly reminded them that he had no sense of rhythm. Sunny got up and danced, right in front of Ranma, making him feel that it was just for him. He watched her gently swaying hips and the graceful movements of her arms and hands. He knew he was the luckiest guy alive to have such a wife.
Then the music changed and the men ran out. Their dancing was vigorous and completely different from the women. Ranma was dragged into the stomping, clapping group and he danced only for Sunny, who sat with gleaming eyes and parted lips as he showed off for her alone.
Ranma finished with the other men and they all scattered to their friends, he flopped down beside Sunny and grinned. "Well? You did good, very sexy. Do you think it's too early to sneak away for a while?"
"Oh Ranma, I don't think we can get away just yet. Do grow up"
Ranma leered at his wife and whispered in her ear.
"I'm workin' on it, Honey. Remember, I'm not even twenty yet. I get to be foolish now and then."
Wo ai ne I love you
Che Tzu Wife
soung fu Husband
the lady who helped me with the chinese didn't know how to spell the words in romanji so if it's spelled wrong it's my fault.
Kanunu Strong one
Ranma is not a haole, as he is Japanese, not cacausian. He is a malahini (tourist) however.
Well, stick a fork in me. I'm done. That's it. Over. I can't believe it. This story has taken up nine months of my life and thundered, crept and wandered through forty-four chapters. I feel kind of let down that it's over. But elated too, I've managed to write a whole book, more or less. There will be a sequel which is about the time Ranma spent recovering from the 'Dragon incident' and a side story about Kuno and Nabiki but they will be a while in coming. I'm just tired of the whole story for right now. Come back and check from time to time. Also check my other stories, as I'm going to finish Time on a Chain before I do anything else.
I want to thank all the people who have read, are reading or will read this. I especially want to thank all the people who have read, reviewed, and in other ways helped, encouraged, and prodded me along. I'd list you all but that would make this over thirty pages.
So thank you all and