WARNING: While there will be no actual 'Lemon' content contained herein, adult situations, language, violence and acts of a sexual nature are strongly implied.

Disclaimer: The rights to 'Ranma 1/2' are owned by its creator, Rumiko Takahashi. The rights to 'Gold Digger' are owned by its creator, Fred Perry. The rights to characters from other sources, which are likely to make cameo appearances, are retained by their respective creators. This story is for entertainment purposes only and written without expectation of monetary or material profit.

Notes: While drawing primarily from the original 'Ranma 1/2' Manga series, some elements and characters from the 'Ranma 1/2' Anime series may also be utilized. This is BOTH a 'Continuation' and an 'Alternate Universe' fan-fiction in regards to the characters and events of 'Ranma 1/2' and 'Gold Digger', meaning: the characters WILL be 'Out-of-Character' to one extent or another and that canon events the reader is familiar with may or may not have been altered to a greater or lesser degree. This fan-fiction is also a 'Crossover', combining elements from the two aforementioned sources. For most of the story, we will attempt to adhere closely to canon, in regards to Fred Perry's 'Gold Digger' series, but at some point, events will diverge from canon and concessions will have to be made for the intermingling of the two base series.

Timeframe: Immediately following the failed wedding attempt at the end of the 'Ranma 1/2' Manga series; there are several months remaining until the end of the current school year at Furinkan High... ('Gold Digger' timeframe will become apparent when introduced into the story.)

-X-X-X-

Love of a Cheetah – Chapter 4 - Part B

-X-X-X-

As with the previous morning, Ranma-chan was awakened by the soft cries of Nyoko indicating that she needed a fresh diaper and nourishment. While this was a gentler means of waking up than being thrown out of a window and into a cold body of water, or having said cold water thrown on you as you slept, it too had its minor downside... namely why Nyoko needed a fresh diaper. After gently prying Nyoko away from Xian Pu-neko, who had also been awakened by her soft cries, Ranma-chan lifted her daughter out of her crib and set about the task of changing her diaper before heading down to the kitchen to prepare her bottle, Xian Pu-neko following along behind.

Stepping into the kitchen, Ranma-chan gently set Nyoko down on the floor where Xian Pu-neko promptly, and without being asked to do so, proceeded to keep Nyoko entertained by waving her tail as a lure and gently wrestling with her, but mainly keeping her in the same spot. Nyoko's squeals of joy and delight became a bit louder when Shirokuro trotted into the kitchen and decided to make the acquaintance of the apparently new housecat. Xian Pu-neko tensed, preparing to fight off the much larger canine if it proved dangerous to the baby, but Ranma-chan's casual greeting of it allayed that fear, only to have her previous fear for Nyoko's safety replaced with the fear of her own safety as Shirokuro proceeded to give her a thorough examination. As if the baby drool already matting her fur wasn't bad enough, Shirokuro had to add to it with her own drool with several, messy, welcoming licks, which elicited quiet giggles from Ranma-chan at Xian Pu-neko's blatantly annoyed expression at having her fur matted even further. Fortunately, it didn't take Shirokuro long to greet the new addition to the household before laying down on the floor beside Nyoko, forming a barricade on one side while Xian Pu-neko went back to keeping the baby occupied... with an occasional, seemingly, playful bat at Shirokuro's nose as she used the larger animal to play peek-a-boo with Nyoko.

As Ranma-chan prepared the bottle and baby formula, she decided to make a large breakfast in appreciation for the Hibikis allowing her and the others to stay the night. She'd just about gotten everything ready to start cooking when an inquisitive mew drew her attention back towards the three on the floor. Nyoko looked snug as a bug in a rug as she nestled between Shirokuro and Xian Pu-neko, once again having a firm hold on Xian Pu-neko's tail and sucking on it. Xian Pu-neko mewed inquiringly again, and made a show of looking over her current form.

"Hmm, you're wanting to know why I'm not afraid of cats anymore, is that it?" Ranma-chan asked, and received a nod in response. "Well," Ranma-chan began, preparing Nyoko's bottle as she talked, "the Neko-ken isn't exactly gone. While I was in the village with Xeris and Charon they were able to help me control my fear, by facing it and keeping me in one place."

"Mew?" Xian Pu-neko questioned, before turning to gently scold Nyoko for trying to bend her tail in a direction it wasn't designed to go and ended up being pulled into a hug.

Ranma-chan smiled sadly at the antics of the two as she tested the formula, before stepping over to separate the two so Nyoko could be fed. "It took them close to two months to help me gain control of the fear that set off the Neko-ken," she continued, finally getting Nyoko to release Xian Pu-neko, who looked in need of air, "and within that time I was shown different things and even had them stay in their hybrid forms for a while." Lifting her daughter into her arms, Ranma-chan exposed a bare breast and reached for Nyoko's bottle to apply some of the formula to her nipple. Before she could accomplish this task, however, Nyoko had latched on to the offering, suckling greedily. "My, you are hungry this morning, aren't you?" Ranma-chan chuckled, offering the bottle's nipple to her daughter. Not even getting a taste of her usual nourishment this time, Nyoko wasted little time in accepting the substitution... but she didn't look happy about it.

Xian Pu-neko, meanwhile, was wondering just what Ranma-chan had meant by 'control'. She'd said she'd gained control of her fear, but did that necessarily mean control of the Neko-ken itself? Xian Pu-neko recalled the way Ranma-chan's voice had taken on a feline growling quality back at the Dojo the day before and wondered if Ranma had simply exchanged one trigger for another, or if she'd behaved that way 'consciously'.

"Good morning," Atsuko greeted as she stepped into the kitchen wearing a white yukata. "I was wondering who was up and about so early, but I should have known."

"G'morning, Hibiki-san," Ranma-chan greeted in return. "I hope you don't mind, but I thought I'd make breakfast for everyone this morning as thanks for letting us stay the night."

"No thanks are necessary, dear," Atsuko said, looking over the various ingredients that Ranma-chan had set out. Then she took note of the new cat. "What have we here? I've never seen this cat before, is it yours? Or did it just wander in?"

"Um... Actually, that's Shampoo, another of Jusenkyo's many victims. She ended up staying the night as well... as Nyoko's bed-warmer," Ranma-chan chuckled.

"Well, that would certainly explain the condition of her fur," Atsuko chuckled reaching down to pet some of Xian Pu-neko's fur back into place. "And now that I know her name, I recall Ryo-chan mentioning a girl named 'Shampoo'. A Chinese 'Amazon'?" At Ranma-chan's nod, she continued, "Well, one more guest isn't a problem, especially in her present form. Still, I'm quite certain that she'd appreciate a good hot bath and to get cleaned up, which reminds me... I filled the furo for use, so why don't you all get cleaned up. And changed back. I'll take care of breakfast for everyone."

"Are you sure, Hibiki-san?" Ranma-chan asked. "I can easily make breakfast while holding Nyoko. And I wanted to make it in thanks for letting us all stay the night."

"Nonsense, dear," Atsuko gently scolded, ushering her out of the kitchen. "From what I've heard, you've helped my son on several occasions and I so rarely get to cook for so many people. Go enjoy a good long soak in the furo. I think I know what you were intending to make, judging from the ingredients you've set out, and I haven't had the opportunity to make it in quite some time. Now, shoo!"

----

While Ranma-chan had moved to the furo along with their other guest and Nyoko, the other guests had started to wake up. More specifically Kasumi, as she was normally up at that same time fixing breakfast and getting the house ready for her family. She lay in the bed, along with Nabiki that morning while contemplating what was occurring within her family. She knew that Akane was in the wrong, and that she was punished properly because of it. But how did it get to that point? She knew Akane was a good person at times, yet she was developing habits that would cause problems for her future.

'And to think, Akane believed that Ranma had gotten Cousteau-san pregnant. I wonder if she really knew what Ranma was dealing with when he left on his trip?' Thoughts of what was discussed the night before, with the reasons why Ranma had left on his trip and the meeting of Xeris and Charon in their village in the Serengeti, made Kasumi think about all the times that she sat and discussed with the aquatransexual all the high and low points of his stay with the Tendos and the training trip that Genma seemed to have dragged him on. Hearing it from his perspective made it seem like he was abused and neglected. Hearing from his father's perspective made her think that Ranma was right. Still she didn't want to go against her father's wishes and helped maintained the pressure to keep Ranma with Akane, a bit reluctantly at first, but she did so nonetheless.

It wasn't until after the failed wedding that she realized that Akane and Ranma weren't ready for a relationship, and that they would need more time, in the first place, not pressured almost every other week to get married right then and there. However it just before Ranma left on his trip, she knew Nabiki had other ideas about the pair. Pleasurable ones that seemed to make Ranma all that more desirable. Sure she still held a torch for the chiropractor that seemed to dance with his model skeleton, but being with Ranma was looking just as well for the eldest Tendo sister.

As quietly as she could, she got up from the bed and made her way to where a set of yukata's were waiting for both of them. She would have to thank Atsuko for find something for both of them to wear while she cleaned their clothing. As she donned on the yukata, her younger sister awoke with the usual mess of bed hair that accompanied her whenever she slept in a bed, privately wondering if that was the same case while she had some of her nightly rendezvous with the maturing Saotome.

"Good morning Nabiki." Kasumi greeted her sister, only to receive a mumbled response back. Yes, Nabiki wouldn't be fully awake until her first cup of coffee, whatever reason that got her to use the nasty, tasting drink, she knew she would have to ask Atsuko if they had any available, and another reason to thank her for her hospitality.

Kasumi's thoughts about her younger sister were not far from the tree, as Nabiki scratched the back of her head while yawning to get what sleep she could out of her system before her craving for coffee kicked in. Hopefully not as bad as the times when she was brought home by Ranma after a long night of pleasure. 'Of course, we were there to beat the clocks so that we could get to school.' Nabiki commented to herself as she got out of bed, her normal grace seemed sluggish as she moved, picking up the offered yukata from her sister and putting it on.

Both Tendo sisters stepped out of their room that they slept in the night before, with Kasumi in the lead, as they headed towards the furo. "Nabiki? What do you think Ranma-kun will be doing after this?" This question brought the middle sister to be a bit more awake than before, as it actually gave her mind something to work on while they made their way to their destination.

"I don't know myself, Kasumi." Nabiki grunted quietly as she followed her older sister. "But I do know that after we get back home I'm going to look for the landlord that I had found for the apartment I was going to get while in college. Maybe give that to Ranma and help him work on getting an apartment." Kasumi slid the door open to the furo's changing room and both of them stripped out of their yukata's and hung them on the rack next to another yukata that was hanging there, "I do know that he wouldn't want to put the Hibiki's out for too long and may need this apartment more than I would."

As Kasumi slid the door open to enter the furo, Nabiki looked past her sister to see the site that would normally would have happened in their home. Sitting just outside the furo was a wet, and nude Ranma-chan that was washing a purple-haired cat, along with a giggling Nyoko as she sat in a small tub next to the redhead. Now this would have been an issue if Ranma had not gone on his trip. He probably would have been against the wall on the other side of the room to stay as far away from the cat. This, however, was not what Nabiki saw and she grabbed her older sister and pulled her away from the doorway so as not to get in the way of a berserker Ranma-chan. This caused both Ranma-chan and Xian Pu-neko to look up and notice the others.

"Oh.. Hey." Ranma-chan started, holding an upset Xian Pu-neko before she rinsed the cat clean, "I wasn't expecting anyone else to wake up before me."

"Ranma." Nabiki started, as Kasumi looked past the door herself to find out why her younger sister was trying to keep her away from the furo, "You do realize that you're holding a cat." Ranma-chan nodded in response to Nabiki's question, "And you're not going crazy like you did before?" While both Nabiki and Ranma had talked about his trip, he didn't say exactly what had happened and why he left. But Nabiki did have some general idea of why he was leaving.

Ranma-chan looked down at the purple-haired cat and noticed the scowl that appeared on her face. While Xian Pu was grateful that she was able to spend time with her Airen, she didn't enjoy the fact that she was cleaning her up in her Jusenkyo cursed form. "Do you remember when we were talking about me and Akane not getting married because of what you found out?"

"Yes. I remember Ranma."

"And how you explained that even if I did get married to Akane after we were of age, there might still be a problem because of the Neko-ken?" Once again, Nabiki nodded in response as she remember the conversation, "I found out that there was a scroll in Egypt that had been the original copy of the actual Neko-ken."

Nabiki's brows rose slightly before collapsing inward as she began to process what Ranma was telling her. She walked into the furo room itself, after a few minutes into the conversation. Kasumi followed just behind her and began to clean Nyoko so that Ranma-chan could wash up. Once Xian Pu-neko was released from being cleaned, she immediately took off towards the furo itself and jumped in. She didn't want to miss any of this conversation, but it would be better for her to be in her human form so she could make comments, or ask questions that the two Tendo sisters may not think about.

"So there is an actual scroll that contains the full Neko-ken in it?" Nabiki began, her face relaxed as she sat down next to the redhead.

Ranma-chan shook her head slightly as she took the small bucket and filled it with cold water, "It's not exactly the Neko-ken, from what I could find out about it."

"Then, what it is?" All three women turned towards the lavender Amazonian princess as she spoke up, "You say it not Neko-ken, but it is yes?" Once more, the bubbly Amazon cursed herself mentally for not reviewing and learning the Japanese language. She could read and write it just as well as a natural born citizen could; however her spoken words always made her sound unintelligent.

The redhead pondered for a moment how to explain what she found in Egypt, "Well it's more of a religious version of the Neko-ken. No pit of cats, and a lot of meditation." That was probably understating what she found, but it was the gist of it that she picked up. And it was probably an easier way of explaining it to them as they knew the bastardize version that she was first taught. "The Egyptians believed in many gods, and a couple of them were based on cats. Or cat-like features." she continued to explain, "And many of them wanted to become close to their gods or goddesses that they worshiped."

"It sounds like you found a lot more than just a quick fix to the Neko-ken." Nabiki interrupted, she also began cleaning up next to the redhead while they listened to what was being told to them. "Oh and could you wash my back for me?"

Ranma-chan nodded and lathered up a small bath towel she had with her, "Sure, Nabs." she took a moment to wash up herself as she continued her story, "I found a whole lot more than just the fix for it. It's actually how I found Charon and Xeris."

This caused all three women the raise their eyebrows. "So what did it contain Ranma-kun?" Kasumi spoke as she rinsed herself off of the soap she lathered onto her skin. Making sure Nyoko didn't fall or hurt herself while she washed up.

"It contained instructions of how to become closer like the lycanthropes. But they didn't know that's what they were." Ranma-chan looked at the two women that were next to her before she turned towards Nabiki. The middle sister's back was facing her and she began to wash Nabiki's back, knowing that her back would be washed after she was done. "They believed they were living versions of their gods and goddesses."

"You say Egyptians saw Great Race? Made talk talk with Great Race?"

"They didn't have discussions with them, Shampoo, but they did see them while they were hunting prey." Ranma-chan filled the bucket once more before pouring it over the lathered back of the older girl in front of her, "They saw what was a normal cheetah running towards a gazelle and just before it made the kill, the lycanthrope changed into their hybrid form to give them that extra leap." Once Nabiki was clean, she turned around and faced Xian Pu and Kasumi as she received the same treatment she gave. "So they developed a way to almost become like a lycanthrope but they could only get so far."

Kasumi picked up Nyoko and held her like she did back at the Tendo-ke before slipping into the warm waters of the furoba next to Xian Pu, who gently guided her to hold Nyoko just over her shoulder once she was settled properly. "So where did the pit of cats come from?" She looked at the redhead once more and focused on her.

"It was a wrong translation of the scroll."

All sets of eyes widened at the idea that the reason the Neko-ken was so destructive in it's ability to nearly kill the person was because of a simple translation mistake. "Woah, hold on." Nabiki leaned over Ranma-chan's shoulder to get a good look at her before her question came out, "So who's bright idea was it to think this was a martial arts technique?"

Ranma-chan gave a light shrug as she looked at her close friend from the corner of her eye, "Probably some martial artist who saw the translation notes of the archaeologists and thought it was a lost art from the Egyptians and tried to duplicate the steps that were translated." Nabiki leaned back slightly and finished washing the redhead's back, rinsing of the suds before getting up and slipping herself into the furoba with Kasumi and Xian Pu. The furo could easily hold four to five people comfortably and made the women look at Ranma-chan, wondering if she was going to get into the hot bath.

"Okay. So if the scroll was originally mistranslated, then what did you find that helped you locate Charon and Xeris?"

"The new translations told of a trading party in the southern areas of Egypt spotting this small pack of cheetah's. As a new animal they watched the pack for a few days before they saw the transformation. Just before the pack left, they saw that it was heading far south than they had ever explored and wrote it down." Ranma-chan got up and stepped into the furoba with the others, the change occurring from female to male with the hot water made the women smile. He ignored Xian Pu's hungry look, and Kasumi's passive one to settle next to Nabiki. "Another trading party found a village near the current city of Karungu in Kenya stating that they were around the cubs and adults of cheetah's so much that they were hybrids of their goddesses Bastet and Sekhmet. A warrior like mentality with a caring home life."

"And they thought being around cats would help them become closer to their goddesses?" Nabiki questioned as she noted that her sister was busy trying not to ogle the young man that was in the furoba with them.

"Yep." Ranma leaned back slightly to stretch his back muscles, keeping an eye on Nyoko with Kasumi. He was interrupted from his story when someone slid the furo door open and called out to the individuals that may have been inside.

"I'm home!" yelled the blonde hair, green-eyed teenager. She wore a dark green tank top with matching shorts and hiking boots, just like her mother. Across her forehead was a bandana that was spotted like her brother's. Across her shoulders and down her back was the famed Hibiki pack that was dropped just at the entrance she crossed, "Mom?" She turned around to look behind her into the rest of the house before turning to look into the furo itself and noticing the three women and one male that occupied the furoba. "Oh. Sorry I must have the wrong house..."

"Yoiko! You made it home." Atsuko grabbed her daughter from behind and gave her a hug that she treated her son with yesterday, getting the same gasp and blue-faced response. "I was so worried you wouldn't make it home after I last saw you."

"MOM!" The Hibiki daughter groaned out, it was one thing to be embarrassed by your parent in your own home, but in front of a cute boy that may have made her forget about the one she intended to marry would have made her die of embarrassment, "We have guests!"

"I know, sweetheart. In fact, go get cleaned up. Breakfast is almost ready." The matriarch of the household picked up the pack and gently pushed her daughter towards the occupants of the furo, shutting the outer door as she made her way to the kitchen.

This caused the youngest Hibiki to blush as she looked back towards the group, noticing for the first time the small baby upon the shoulder of the brunette. The young child gave a wide yawn and nuzzled closer to the woman's neck. Any further embarrassment was ignored as she moved closer to coo at the baby. "Aww. That's a cute baby."

Kasumi had the decency to smile towards the new individual as she continued her holding of Nyoko, very reluctant to give the baby up to someone she just met. However if Atsuko Hibiki could vouch that this was her daughter, and that Ranma was there as well, she could pass the baby along. "She is."

Yoiko, having figured that she might as well get cleaned up, looked towards the only male occupant of the furo and blushed heavily before turning around and getting undressed. Once she removed all of her clothing, and tossed them into the basket of clothing in the changing room, she walked over to a cupboard that she found a spare set of bathing supplies. "Who are the parents of that baby?"

The women in the furoba looked at each other, only to look at Ranma and what he would think of it. The Saotome heir was currently occupied with other thoughts as he tried to find a way to leave the furoba causing issues. Nabiki noticed the thoughtful look upon the raven-haired man and decided to answer for him, "He's her father. And both of her natural parents passed away several days ago."

"That's so sad!" responded Yoiko, rinsing off the soap that she lathered up and washed over her body. "And he's a very handsome father. If I wasn't all ready committed to finding my intended-to-be, I might try to take him myself." She gave the women in the furoba a smile, indicating that she was joking as she walked towards the furoba. Xian Pu and Kasumi moved around to give some extra space for the girl, while Nabiki jabbed her elbow into Ranma's side and move her head to point to Yoiko, asking him in a nonverbal response if she was another Fiancée that Genma forgot to mention to him. The pig-tailed man shook his head and everyone settled once Yoiko found a spot between Xian Pu and Ranma, "But that's only if I can find him." Yoiko finished before looking at the others, "Has he decided which one of you is going to be her new mommy?"

"Oh I don't think he's gotten to that point yet." Kasumi smiled to the younger girl, "This stud is too enamored with all of us that he can't decide which one to pick." She bowed slightly towards Yoiko as she continued, "I'm sorry, where are my manners. My name is Kasumi Tendo." she pointed to her sister, "My sister, Nabiki."

Xian Pu gave a slight bow herself as she picked up what Kasumi was hinting at, "Me Shampoo. Me Chinese Amazon from Jusendo." Yoiko gave a bow to the three women before turning towards the last stranger that needed to be introduced.

"And who might you be?"

Ranma decided that he'd been in the furoba long enough and got up, eliciting a gasp and hurried whisper from Kasumi to her sister which almost sounded like she was comparing something to what she saw, "It was nice meeting you, Yoiko." As he headed towards the door, he didn't spot the bar of soap that was lying on the floor until it was too late. It slid his foot out from under him and had him land on his back. His hand hit the rinse bucket that had just enough cold water in it to trigger the Jusenkyo curse and change him into the busty redhead.

Yoiko's eyes widened before she pointed to the redhead herself. "You!"

-X-X-X-

Laughter surrounded the table as the members of the Hibiki family and residences of the Tendo-ke were conversing about the redhead that sat at one end of the table, holding a sleeping Nyoko against her bosom. The redhead in question was blushing something awful as some of the conversation went from how Yoiko knew about the four foot five inch woman and what happened during her trip to Paris. It was easy to see why Ranma-chan wouldn't say anything about Yoiko to the two Tendo sisters, as they had never met her before. Especially since it wasn't under the best circumstances that both Yoiko and Ranma met under.

"So you ended up in a pile of bodies and the first one that you see happens to be Yoiko?" Nabiki snickered uncharacteristically as she glanced at the Saotome heir. "Was that before or after the wedding occurred?"

Ranma-chan grumbled quietly as she tried to remember the scene that Nabiki was referring to, "I think it was after. I wasn't really myself when it happened."

"You were just getting over your hangover." Yoiko provided, munching on a piece of fruit that she had pilfered from the middle of the table. "Everyone had at least two or three glasses of red wine or white champagne."

"Sounded like you were drunk like you were in that play with Akane." Nabiki grinned, ribbing Ranma-chan somewhat about her ability to down alcohol.

"Well you try to finish a full two liters of potent sake and not get drunk." Ranma-chan growled out, taking a quick bite as Yoiko looked over at the red-haired woman.

"So I have a question that's been bothering me." The blond leaned forward slightly, giving Ranma-chan a very pleasant view down her shirt, "You have a curse like my brother. So that means you're a guy." Ranma-chan gave a nod to the statement, "So who are you?"

"I'm Ranma Saotome." The redhead bowed before pouring a heated cup of water over her, enough to trigger the change and not get Nyoko wet. Ranma shifted the baby werecheetah in his arms for a better position during the change, "Sorry about this." What happened next would be recorded as one of the strongest versions of the Amazon glomp when Yoiko pounced on Ranma. This caused the other women to gasp as Ranma, Nyoko and Yoiko fell back and sighed in relief once they saw that Nyoko wasn't hurt in the asinine move made by the second youngest female there. But being jostled around did wake her up and caused her to cry out.

"Yoiko!" The four women yelled at the younger girl as she nuzzled Ranma.

"He's mine! I finally found him!" Yoiko cried happily as she held the Saotome heir down. She wasn't letting anyone take him away from her now. And they were going to get married as soon as she could and would all ready have a child to take care of… That stopped her train of thought from going past the line of no return. She jumped off of him and knelt next to the man where Nyoko was being held. "I'm so sorry!"

Ranma was carefully making sure that Nyoko was fine and before glaring at the young girl. Of course he couldn't really stay mad at her as she was giving him the puppy-eyed look. As long as Nyoko was fine, it could be dismissed for a while. He saw a slender hand reach out next to him and he grasped on to it before being pulled up by Kasumi and Xian Pu, who both had gotten up and stood next to the Saotome heir after he fell. Nabiki was also at his side, opening her arms for him to give Nyoko to her so he could be seated again. Nyoko was passed over to the middle Tendo sister and once she got the baby more comfortable, she turned and started humming and singing softly while rocking from side to side as she tried to sooth the crying baby. Ranma was finally able to turn to the youngest Hibiki with a frown marring his features. "Yoiko..."

"How could you do that to him while Ranma-kun was holding Nyoko. She could have been hurt, or worse. And you just jumped him like that without any thoughts or concerns about the baby!" Kasumi reamed into the Hibiki child. This shocked Xian Pu and Ranma as the first time hearing Kasumi actually voice her opinion very angrily to anyone. The youngest Hibiki looked up from her kneeling position at Kasumi and she calmed down. 'It wasn't really her fault. She had been looking for Ranma-kun for such a long time.' Kasumi saw that Yoiko was now currently chastised about her actions and was going to make amends because of it.

"I.. I'm sorry R..Ranma..." Yoiko stuttered as she looked up at him. "I.. I was j..just happy to.. be with you.."

"Well..." Ranma looked towards the Hibiki matriarch and gave a sigh as she indicated that he needed to talk to Yoiko, "It's not like you didn't mean it. But I can't have you jumping me when I'm holding Nyoko."

Xian Pu looked at her beloved and wondered why he was being nice to this younger girl. She wore Ranma's spare clothing that he had with him, including some panties for his female side that he wore on occasion while he was in his female form. "Airen. You make nice nice with Pig-boy's sister. You want more snuu-snuu friends like Mercenary girl?" This caused Xian Pu to frown somewhat at the thought. However she didn't see the reactions of both Ranma and Nabiki as their chins dropped. Kasumi was blushing heavily as she got what Xian Pu was saying.

"NO!" Both Nabiki and Ranma said forcefully to the Amazon, "Ranma all ready has enough snuu-snuu friends as it is." Nabiki grumbled quietly to herself as she headed towards Ryouga's room to pick up a blanket for Nyoko from Ranma's pack.

Atsuko gave a slight grin, "Maybe she just needs to be around Ranma and Nyoko for a while. Get her used to being with the baby." She rested a hand upon the Saotome heir's shoulder. She looked at her daughter for a moment as she contemplated the idea. "In fact, while you're here she can help you care for the baby today as long as you want to stay here."

"Hibiki-san, I really wont be here for long." Ranma stated, watching Nabiki before she left his sights. "I'm hoping if I find a place so that my parents wont find me."

"If you're adamant about it." Atsuko looked into the pig-tailed boy's eyes for a brief moment, seeing that he wouldn't be budged from his decision to take up too much time for the Hibiki's.

"My sister and I are actually going to be heading back to our home. Nabiki has a few things for Ranma-kun that will help him find a suitable living place." Kasumi stated, noticing the sad expressions that appeared on both Yoiko and Xian Pu.

"Shampoo must head back to Great Grandmother. Great Grandmother has friends come over. Shampoo need to meet with friends of tribe and tell Airen when they here." She frowned deeply while tugging on the Chinese silks that she borrowed. "Bring clothing back to Airen once Airen sees Great Grandmother's friends." She gave Ranma a quick hug before turning to Atsuko and bowing to her, "Many thanks for letting Shampoo stay." Atsuko bowed back at the formal gratitude given to her before the lavender Amazon left the table and headed back to the Nekohanten.

"And I'll be back to take Ranma to the apartment complex I found so he has a place to stay." Nabiki stated as she walked back into the dining room with a covered Nyoko. She stepped up to Ranma and handed the baby to him before kissing his cheek and whispering to him, "It shouldn't take me more than a few hours to get back here. Think you can handle yourself stud?" She subconsciously pinched his behind to make sure Ranma would remember who he was indebted to.

"I think I'll be fine, Nabs." He grinned at her playfulness that she brazenly displayed, knowing that she was marking her territory in front of the Hibiki's and her sister. "Just don't let my parents push on you too much."

"I wont, Ranma-kun." Nabiki kissed his cheek and bowed to Atsuko, along with Kasumi, "Thank you for the hospitality, Hibiki-san."

"Any friends of Ryouga-kun are welcome here." Atsuko smiled, waving to the two women as they left before looking towards her son's room, "Now if I can only get my son up so he can eat some breakfast, we can all sit together and tell stories of our travels and business."

"Business, Hibiki-san?" Ranma questioned before being handed a business card. "Hibiki Security Systems. If you see this card, call this number." He read out loud and looked back at the Hibiki matriarch. "So you break into businesses?"

"More like we arrive at the businesses without clearance." Atsuko smiled, bringing a cup of refilled tea to her lips, "If one of us Hibiki's can get into your building's high security systems and not be seen. We usually leave a card where we're at, so that they know that we were there." Her smile widened as she continued. "Lets just say that we're the fore most experts in getting in and out of businesses."

"That's very interesting, Hibiki-san." Ranma stated, feeling Yoiko sitting next to him and looking over his shoulder at Nyoko, "Please tell me more."

-X-X-X-

"I've got a bad feeling about this," Nabiki commented as she and Kasumi arrived home, standing before the gate of the Tendo-ke.

"Well, the house is still standing so I guess Akane didn't try to make breakfast," Kasumi responded, attempting to focus on the positive aspects.

"There is that," Nabiki agreed, before frowning. "Of course, that just means that Nodoka probably did so."

"I still can't believe that she would ignore her own son's promise to raise Nyoko himself and try to take her as her own daughter," Kasumi sighed disappointedly.

"Believe it, Oneechan," Nabiki grunted. "She may call Ranma her son, but she treats him and views him as her slave and property, something without rights, opinions, or feelings. Especially if they conflict with whatever SHE wants. Just like that worthless husband of hers, she only pays lip-service to the concept of honor. Honorable behavior is whatever gets her what she wants. Dishonorable behavior is whatever stands in her way of getting what she wants. Honor is a tool for the manipulation of others, nothing more, as far as she's concerned."

"This isn't going to be pretty... is it?" Kasumi asked sadly.

"Family arguments seldom are, Oneechan," Nabiki sighed. "And Ranma IS family! Marriage or not! Nodoka's problem is that she believes herself to be the head of the family and that she will ALWAYS be the head of the family, no matter what."

"And who is the head of Ranma's family, Imotochan," Kasumi asked, giving her younger sister a sidelong glance.

"Huh?" Nabiki asked, taken off guard by the question. "Well... Ranma, of course! Who else? There's just him and Nyoko."

"Who indeed, Imotochan?" Kasumi softly said to herself so Nabiki wouldn't hear, concealing a knowing smirk at Nabiki considering Ranma to be 'family' and seemingly unaware that would, by extension, make Nabiki a part of Ranma's family, as well. Then louder, she said, "Shall we go in?"

"Yeah," Nabiki grunted, pushing the gate open. "May as well get it over with." Nabiki then paused as she stepped through the gate, considering something that had occurred to her. "Kasumi... when we get inside, either go to the kitchen or your bedroom. Don't get involved."

Kasumi looked questioningly at her younger sister, but didn't comment as they entered the house.

----

As Nabiki had both expected and dreaded she found the other occupants of the household waiting on her when she stepped into the main room of the house, as Kasumi quietly made her way into her kitchen. There was her father at the head of the table, doing his best impression of a stern parent, with an obviously simmering Akane sitting to his left. On Soun's right sat Ranma's parents, both looking solemn and angry.

"Nabiki-chan," Soun began, stressing the 'chan' suffix in an obvious attempt to remind her of her comparatively young age, "have a seat, please. We have a serious matter to discuss with you."

Nabiki elected to forego any opening remarks until she determined exactly what they were to discuss, or rather, what they were about to attempt to force down her throat. The topic of the conversation, of course, was never in any doubt.

"Where were you and your sister last night?" Soun began. "It was extremely irresponsible and childish to stay out so late and not inform me, or your sister, as to where you were or what you were doing."

"Kasumi and I stayed the night at a friend's house," Nabiki began coolly, deliberately omitting who the 'friend' was or that Ranma had stayed at the same location. "And I did attempt to let you know that we wouldn't be home until this morning. Someone, however," and she looked directly at Akane, "hung up the phone as soon as I started talking."

Akane merely grunted, crossing her arms over her chest and turning her head to one side.

"Be that as it may, I did not give you permission to stay out so late unescorted," Soun continued, ignoring Nabiki's comment.

"We weren't 'unescorted' and since when have Kasumi or I needed your permission for anything, so long as you weren't inconvenienced?" Nabiki shot back, silently daring him to continue on that approach.

"Where are my son and daughter?" Nodoka suddenly spoke up into the ensuing silence. "I wished to speak with Ranma further about legalizing his sister's adoption, but I was unable to find him last night."

Nabiki felt a fire ignite within her at the sheer gall the woman displayed at claiming Nyoko as her own 'daughter'. Still, she kept her anger in check... for now.

"I haven't seen Ranma since earlier this morning, so I couldn't tell you with any accuracy as to where he presently is," Nabiki stated coolly, which was true as Ranma could be anywhere within the Hibiki home at that moment. Then, suppressing a smirk, she added, "But I'm sure he'll be pleased to hear that you're finally seeing to giving his girl-half a legal identity by formally adopting her."

"You know EXACTLY to whom I was referring, young lady," Nodoka growled. "And it was most certainly NOT to that abomination my son is cursed to turn into! The sooner he's rid of it, the better!"

"That 'abomination', regardless of form or how 'she' came to be, is still your 'child'," Nabiki stated stonily. "She is NOT separate from him, NOT another person, she IS Ranma. And unless you've got a cure for Jusenkyo curses in your pocket, SHE'S going to be around for quite some time to come."

"Enough of this," Genma spoke up. "When is the boy getting back?"

"Beats me," Nabiki shrugged. "As far as I know, he has no intention of returning anytime soon, considering the way everyone was treating him and his daughter!"

"What do you mean by that?" Nodoka demanded.

"Ranma left yesterday, taking his daughter and his few meager possessions with him," Nabiki explained. "Apparently, he found your complete disregard for his own opinions, not to mention his honor, to be more than he could take. And your attempt to take HIS daughter as your own was the final straw."

"Nabiki, can't you see how much this is upsetting your sister?" Soun asked, trying a different approach, as he pointed toward a fuming Akane. He was certain that if Nabiki didn't actually know where Ranma was, she at least had a means of contacting him.

"Yes," Nabiki drawled, glancing at her sister, "I can clearly see how much she misses him. I wonder who she'll find to replace her favorite punching bag and food taster?" Nabiki looked pointedly at Genma who paled noticeably.

"The pervert can dry up and die for all I care!" Akane stated vehemently. 'He's probably out knocking up some other floozie even now,' she silently fumed.

"You see? Your sister's so distraught with worry for her fiancé that she doesn't even know what she's saying!" Soun continued, either ignoring or deliberately misinterpreting Akane's statement, in the pursuit of his own dreams. "Surely you can find the boy and convince him to come back! Then he and Akane can get married and raise the baby together!"

"That's right, Tendo!" Genma readily agreed, backing up his friend. "The boy should have done the honorable thing and married Akane as soon as he had that brat dumped on him. Oh, what could I have ever done to be cursed with such a dishonorable and disrespectful son?"

Nabiki had actually attempted to compile a list of the things Genma had done shortly after the Saotomes had arrived at her home. She'd had to abandon the attempt, as far too time consuming, though, as the list just seemed to continue growing as time went on.

"Daddy, really, Akane's wanted nothing to do with Ranma since the moment he arrived, and she's made no secret about the way she feels about him," Nabiki argued, hoping that somehow he'd finally see reason. "Honestly, how supportive of their marriage would you be if Ranma had treated Akane the way she's been treating him? Hitting her hard enough to kill a normal person at every imagined slight to his masculinity or his skills as a martial artist? How eager would you be for your daughter to marry a man that could one day KILL her in a fit of rage, intentionally or otherwise?"

"My son would NEVER do anything of the sort!" Nodoka stated flatly. "And I would strongly advise you against further slandering my son's reputation!"

Nabiki just looked at the woman as if she'd lost her mind.

"All I've done to Ranma is punish him when he's being an idiot or doing something perverted, Nabiki!" Akane defended herself and her actions, getting angrily to her feet. "If he doesn't want to be punished, then he should stop being an idiot and a pervert! And stop insulting me and embarrassing me in front of my friends and everyone else!" That said, Akane spun about and headed for the dojo intending to vent her frustrations on some defenseless cinder blocks.

"I can clearly see now why there has been so much friction between my son and Akane," Nodoka stated, glaring at Nabiki. "It is clear that you have been sabotaging their relationship from the start for your own twisted pleasures, filling my son's head with all kinds of nonsense, seducing him with your loose morals and wanton behavior, you've probably even used sex to bend him to your will." Nodoka stood, her ever-present silk-wrapped katana in hand, only now the wrapping had been loosened to expose the hilt of the weapon, and stepped closer to Nabiki. "Tell me, girl, just how far down the path of dishonor were you planning to take my son before you discarded him and sought out some other plaything? How far would your jealousy of your younger sister's good fortune in being engaged to my son have gone? You should be ashamed of yourself and your actions, seducing your own sister's intended simply because you're not woman enough to attract your own man."

Nabiki was furious, this woman was accusing her of being a dishonorable, backstabbing, slut and her own supposed father wasn't saying a word in her defense or that of his own family. Even further, Nodoka, a 'guest' in their home, was clearly threatening to use her blade against Nabiki, a daughter of her host in his own house. In days long past, such words and actions on Nodoka's part, true or not, would have earned her a very quick death.

Nabiki's voice, when she finally chose to speak, would have made liquid nitrogen seem warm in comparison, "Draw that blade in this house, where you are a 'guest', and you will prove beyond any doubt that you are utterly without the honor you so vehemently claim to hold above all else!"

"Nabiki... perhaps..." Soun hesitantly spoke, fearful of drawing attention in the tense atmosphere.

"Not a chance," Nabiki stated flatly, her cold, steady gaze never leaving Nodoka's own. "This woman has made claims in the past of being of Samurai descent, and of holding to the ways of Honor and Tradition. Yet today, she has accused me of dishonoring myself... my family... and of being no better than the lowest of common whores... in my own house! Where she is a GUEST! Don't you even DARE suggest that I back down, or does the Tendo family honor truly mean so little to you?"

"She is correct," Nodoka finally spoke after several tense moments. "My words and actions are unbecoming of one of my lineage. I humbly apologize, Tendo-sama!" It was clear to all, however, that she was NOT apologizing to Nabiki, but to Soun, her host, to whom she respectfully bowed before resuming her place beside her husband. It was also clear that she wasn't withdrawing her accusations, either.

"Um, yes, well... words in anger and all that..." Soun muttered, desperately trying to avoid any further confrontations. "Anyway... Nabiki? As your father, I want you to find Akane's fiancé and bring him back to the Dojo."

"And which fiancé would that be, Daddy?" Nabiki asked, her voice warming only slightly from its earlier chill tones. "To my knowledge, Akane doesn't presently have a fiancé, having once again passed her engagement to Ranma to me. Have you already arranged another engagement for her?"

"That isn't funny, girl," Genma said. "In any case, it doesn't matter. Until Soun and I say otherwise, the boy's Akane's fiancé, irregardless of her feelings. He is NOT your fiancé!"

"Quite right, Saotome," Soun agreed, sitting up straighter. "As far as the engagement is concerned, Akane is still Ranma's fiancée!"

"And what do you mean by that, Daddy?" Nabiki asked, already reasonably certain of his answer, but curious nonetheless. Not that whatever he said would have any real bearing of the facts of matter, as that had been decided on the day of Ranma's arrival to her home.

"He means, girl, that we've decided that Ranma and Akane will marry and they will do so once that ungrateful boy of mine returns," Genma answered for Soun, who nodded in agreement.

"Correct, Saotome. We made the decision to unite the schools and decided that Akane would be the wisest choice to marry Ranma. As the heir to our own school, Akane doesn't really have a choice in the matter," Soun finished, crossing his arms across his chest in a show of finality.

"Well, I'll agree that Akane never really had a choice, and Kasumi and I certainly didn't help by pushing her off onto Ranma," Nabiki said, making the fathers nod in approval, sensing that Nabiki might be coming around to their way of thinking. "Of course," Nabiki then continued, "there is the little matter of the fact that Saotome-san allowed you to choose which of us was to become engaged to Ranma on the day he arrived... and you passed that ability to choose on to Ranma. A choice he has yet to make, I might add, or surrender back to you! So, unless Ranma says otherwise, I have to work under the assumption that I am his fiancée, just as Akane's been forced to do. At least until he declares his own choice in the matter."

Soun and Genma's jaws dropped at that, while Nodoka looked between the two and wondered if they'd really been so stupid as to leave the choice up to Ranma. Their stupefied expressions was all the answer she needed, yes, they really were that stupid.

"B-b-but Nabiki..." Soun stammered desperately, trying yet again to get his daughter to see the logic and rightness of their decision, "can't you see that they were meant to be together?"

Nabiki merely snorted derisively as she rose from the table and headed out of the room. Just before she entered the hallway, she looked back over her shoulder at the so-called 'wise' adults. "Reality... it's a truly wonderful concept, and one I highly recommend you all look into, as it can make your lives so much easier." Parting shot delivered, Nabiki continued on her way to her room.

----

Kasumi stayed in the kitchen, as asked of her sister, and went about to make some tea for her and Nabiki when said sister stormed past the kitchen. Confused and concerned at what occurred in the tea room, she followed her younger sister to her room, "Nabiki?" She asked before entering. What she saw was almost unbelievable.

Nabiki, having picked up one of her overnight bags that she used when she went to her associates for one reason or another, was tossing clothing and items into the bag, as well as a suitcase that she kept. Kasumi watched before gently grabbing her sisters arm to stop her from continuing, "Nabiki. What happened?"

"That... That bitch!" Nabiki quietly whispered as she struggled to keep her emotions in check, "The utter gal of that woman." Anger was apparent, but something else had escaped her stoic mask that she kept in place. Fear. "She was that close. And in my own home!"

"Nabiki stop!" Kasumi said, shocking her sister out of her spoken rambles, "Who did what? And why are you packing?"

Nabiki's gaze settled on her older sister before pulling her sister into the room and shutting the door, "Don't tell me you didn't hear a word of what was said down there." With the resigned sigh, Kasumi gave her a nod and understood what she meant, "And I know that you heard what that woman said to me, and insinuated that I seduced Ranma to make him disobey her."

"But didn't you seduce Ranma anyway?" Kasumi questioned, trying to at least lighten the mood so that they could talk a bit better, without her younger sister going overboard.

"Seduced. Maybe. But not the way she's referring to." Nabiki began running her fingers through her hair as the stress became apparent, "She still wants to adopt Nyoko as her daughter and raise her like she wants to. And completely dismisses Ranma's female side."

"So you're going to leave? Take everything that you can with you and not help them find Ranma."

"You bet I won't." Nabiki almost growled out, "Not after the way she treated me, nor after the way she's been treating Ranma and Nyoko." Kasumi could almost hear the way Nabiki was almost insinuating that Nyoko was almost her child. Kasumi knew what her younger sister was feeling, and wondered if she would have that chance of her own.

"Then I'm coming with you." Kasumi responded as she started to stand, before being yanked back down on to the bed, she looked at Nabiki with a questioning look.

"Kasumi, I really need you to stay here." Nabiki suggested to her older sister, "I can't really go into details, but we need one of us here. And since I'm not wanted anymore, I should be the one to leave."

"But Imotochan, I can't let you do that by yourself." Kasumi started, before Nabiki reached over to her drawer and pulled out a small book, "If she's going to treat you..." Kasumi stopped her rant as she was handed the book, "What's this? Nabiki, this is no time for me to be reading a book."

"Please Oneechan, you need to stay here." Nabiki pleaded with her older sister, pushing the book into Kasumi's hands, "This is Momma's first diary. That should give you an explanation of why I need you to stay."

Kasumi looked at the book and held it gently, as if it was a treasured item, "You mean, this is Mother's?" Nabiki nodded as she continued to pack, "Where did you find it?" Kasumi asked before she opened up to the first page.

"Would you believe in the attic." Nabiki responded quietly, zipping up her overnight bag and closing the medium suitcase, "I think I have everything that I need. I really need to meet Ranma and plan on where to stay for the moment. At least until we can find someplace suitable for us to live in."

-X-X-X-

As Nabiki and Ranma-chan entered the hotel that they decided to stay at, until Nabiki could get the lease for the apartment, Ranma-chan began to put up the Pack-n-Play so that Nyoko would have a place to sleep that night. Nabiki continued to cradle the baby as she sat in one of the chairs before she picked up her cell phone. The hotel itself could have been an apartment all by itself. A galley kitchen adorn one wall, while the bed and open space in the room was more than enough for the two and Nyoko.

"Ranma, I can see if that landlord still has that apartment I told you about when you came back." Nabiki stated as she brought up her phone list on the cellphone. Nyoko was busy looking at the lights from the cellphone and attempted to grab it. Nabiki gave the baby a smile as she remembered a few of her babysitting experiences when she had to call someone while holding a baby in her arms.

"Sure Nabs." Ranma-chan sighed in frustration, "Just as long as I'm away from everyone back there." Once the Pack-n-Play was setup, Ranma-chan walked over to the bathroom and removed her clothing. A quick shower and some warm water reverted him back to his birth form. He stepped out of the bathroom a few minutes later, clad only in the bath towel, and to the main room, where an appreciative whistle caught his ears.

"Planning on just teasing me? Or were you going to use that right now?" Nabiki gave the young man a lecherous grin as her eyes traveled up and down his form. 'Is it just me, or does he always keep getting better and better to look at no matter if he dressed or not.' the thought flowed through Nabiki's mind while Ranma just gave her a grin of his own.

"If you're offering..." Ranma let the sentence hang before he noticed that Nabiki had begun to walk towards him. With Nyoko in her arms, he knew she wouldn't do anything that she normally did when she pulled him away from everyone for a little time for herself.

"That depends upon if my horse is ready for that long gallop again." Nabiki leaned over and gave the young man a kiss on his cheek before she put Nyoko down for her nap. It had been a long day for them yesterday and today was no different, "As long as we can keep it a quiet gallop, I think we can make it work."

That was enough incentive to let the martial artist prove to the middle Tendo sister that he could keep quiet during their session. It was her that he wondered about, "Of course. Your horse is always ready for a nice gallop along the country side." No further words were needed before he pulled her against his body for a longer kiss.

----

Nabiki rested herself on top of the pig-tailed martial artist, her arms laying just over his shoulders and behind his head. She knew that her 'stallion' could still perform the way she wanted him to, and he was always gentle with her. She gave a pleasant sigh of contentment while she rubbed her cheek against his chest, "You know, you're going to have to find a job now." Nabiki began their first bit of pillow talk of the late afternoon.

"Yeah. It's the only way I can help support Nyoko." Ranma began, his hands resting upon her back as he held her. He wouldn't ask for help from his parents, as that would give them the knowledge of where he would be living. He didn't have any contacts to help him get a job in Bunkyo-ku near the college that Nabiki was getting her degree from. The Kuno's would have been out of the question anyway, though he might meet up with the insane kendoist once in a while if what Nabiki told him was true, "I just don't know what job to do, and have someone take care of Nyoko."

"Aren't you forgetting that I'm staying with you?" Nabiki hand hit him in the back of his head, it wasn't much of a hit from the position they were laying in, but it served its purpose as Ranma nodded as he remembered what Nabiki told him, "I can't go back anyway with that bitch staying in my house and dumb and dumber trying to force me try and get you to come back."

Ranma's eyebrows rose at that last comment, not that his opinion of the three adults in the Tendo-ke were any higher than Nabiki's, but that she stated the house was hers, "Your house? Doesn't your pop own the title and land for the house?"

The middle sister snorted quietly as her hands slipped away from her current bedmate's head, gently pushing herself up so that she could talk to him a bit better, "That's all in Daddy's head." Nabiki began, her fingers making small circles upon the pig-tailed man's chest while thinking how to best put what happened to her early in life, "When Momma died, Daddy slowly became the emotional wreck you see today. And Mr. Takana realized that it may be soon that we would be out of the Tendo-ke if he didn't stop making all of his and Momma's students leave because of his outbursts." She felt Ranma's hands rest upon her hips while rubbing her lower back where he could reach, "So as I started to help Kasumi take care of the finances, Mr. Tanaka helped me with Momma's stocks, and when I became 12, he helped me become emancipated from Daddy. He taught me everything that he could with Momma's stocks."

"You mean Mr. Tanaka, who gets Soun for those council meetings?" Nabiki nodded to Ranma's question as he pulled the middle sister down once more, If she kept moving she would be given another ride that she may not be very coherent afterwards, "He was the one who taught me how to take care of Nyoko."

This didn't shock Nabiki, as much as it had Ranma when she told him about her experience with Mr. Tanaka. She assumed as well that he went to Mrs. Tanaka to buy all the baby things for Nyoko that was stacked in front of the Tendo-ke, "Yeah, he and Mrs. Tanaka have been there for me when Daddy wasn't."

She listened to his heartbeat for a few moments before she continued to explain why the house wasn't in her fathers name, "It was only a few months ago, after you left, that I found my mother's will, which states that the Tendo-ke belongs to her and her daughters." Nabiki found herself closing her eyes as the rythum of the pigtailed man's heart started to lull her to sleep, knowing that this feeling she had wouldn't last much longer, "Momma named Kasumi and myself the owners of the house and property, I just got the confirmation letter from the bank that the deed and title have been transferred over to us. As well as Momma's bank account."

Ranma nodded, giving the girl a gentle hug as she laid there on his chest. He figured that there must have been something big in the will that was now upsetting Nabiki. And she would talk about it when she felt like it, "You found something of your mother's that is making you wonder about something." Nabiki gave him a quiet nod before he was silenced from asking any further questions by her kiss.

"Lets not talk about it right now. It's still too fresh in my mind." with that, their activities continued, making them both forget the day and their troubles, at least for now.

----

The two sweating individuals lay curled up against each other as they wound down from their most recent activities. Both were pleasantly surprised that Nyoko hadn't woken up while they were enjoying themselves. Nabiki looked up from her position to the pig-tailed man that seemed to be capturing her eye for a while. She knew he began trusting her more after he came back from his trip, yet she wondered what he talked about with Xeris that made her believe that both her and Kasumi were, '...just as beautiful... as you said they were.'

"What seems to be on your mind, Nabs?" Ranma began as he felt her fingers gently strum to some beat that may have been playing in her head against his chest.

"Thinking about what you told your friend about us." Nabiki responded with honesty as she gently kissed the side of his neck, "We must have made an impression if she thought that Kasumi and I were beautiful as you told her."

Ranma gave a light chuckle as he rubbed the top of his head, while rubbing Nabiki's back as he thought of a response, "It wasn't much. She just kept asking about my life and you and Kasumi must have been brought up a few times. So she started asking about both of you." Ranma gently gave the middle sister a kiss on her forehead as they began to relax with their usual pillow talk, "So I told her what she wanted to know. I swear she must have been some cousin of yours because she seemed to get the information out of me like you do."

'At least he's remembering the good times with his friend.' Nabiki smiled softly before she heard Nyoko start to wake up from her nap, 'That student was nice enough to be able to get us one of their hotel rooms with a small kitchen in it after hearing about the reason why.' She felt Ranma shift to get up and take care of Nyoko, before she pushed him back down, "I'll get her. We'll be living together because of what happened at the Tendo-ke." Nabiki said quietly before she slipped out of the bed and over to the crib, "And I don't mind taking care of her once in a while, do you?" She said over her shoulder, noticing that the pig-tailed man was watching her every step.

Of course he didn't mind in the least. Not the way her hips were moving in a hypnotizing fashion. How could he say no to that? "Of course, Nabs." He began to smile as the middle sister began to change Nyoko's soiled diaper and gently picked her up so she could be fed. He continued to watch Nabiki's nude form in a new light as she took care of Nyoko. 'She's so happy taking care of her.' Ranma thought as he slowly got out of the bed himself. The pigtailed man left the middle sister to take care of Nyoko while he entered the bathroom. 'I wonder what happened to make her stop being a babysitter.'

----

It wasn't long after both cleaned up and left the hotel to get in contact with the landlord Nabiki had spoken with after Ranma left on his training trip. Luckily the apartment she was looking at before was still available and they were told to go to the landlord directly to see if that was what they wanted. When they arrived, an older gentleman stepped away from the desk and bowed slightly to them, which they returned to him. Nabiki holding onto Nyoko as Ranma followed behind her.

"Thank you for stopping by again, Miss Tendo. Are you still interested in that apartment that we discussed?" Mr. Sahiku questioned. Nabiki nodded and he quietly moved back to his desk and opened a drawer, "I see you brought your boyfriend, will he be staying with you, along with your baby?"

This caused Ranma to sputter quietly as he tried to think of a response to that question, to deny that the baby was Nabiki's or that he was her boyfriend. Nabiki stopped him from speaking up before she spoke up herself, "Yes, both of them will. That apartment we looked at before should be big enough for the three of us."

"Yes yes. The apartment is still available and just needs a little cleaning up before we can let you stay in it." Mr. Sahiku quickly moved back behind the desk and picked up the contract that he had drawn up with the middle Tendo daughter, "There wasn't much of a change in the price that we agreed on, and we're still looking for someone to help with the maintenance and security of the place."

Ranma began thinking it over as Nabiki shifted Nyoko to his arms to sign the contract, "You said you were looking for someone to help with the maintenance?" This caused Nabiki to stop and look over at the pig-tailed man,wondering when he would have even picked up any maintenance skills along his training trip.

"And security too. What skills do you have sonny?" If the man knew Miss Tendo, she must have known about him and brought him along for just that reason. He'd seen people who hear of how much they were going to pay and if they could help out with services their rent would be lowered.

"I know enough to fix leaks and drain plugs for piping, and heating as well." Ranma began as he began to remember some of the temples and synagogues that he stayed at with his father. While many of the things that he was taught in their style, he also had to help clean and take care of the temple. Many of which included electrical, plumbing and other repair jobs that was needed, "Also I know how to fix electrical wiring and fuses and repair buildings with damaged roofs or walls." The last bits of repair work he got from the construction workers who helped rebuild the Tendo-ke when it became damaged.

"Are you good at security?" Mr. Sahiku looked up and down at Ranma, wondering what other 'skills' the young man possessed that could help around the apartment. Nabiki was also wondering why he never brought anything up about his repair abilities while staying at the Tendo-ke.

Ranma looked at the elderly gentleman before nodding, "Yeah, I'm a martial artist. I've been protecting her family for a few years." He stated, pointing to Nabiki as he shifted Nyoko in his arms. Nyoko quietly squealed and shifted closer to her adopted father.

Mr. Sahiku looked at the man once more as he held the baby, noticing how carefully and protecive he was of her. He gave a light smile as he reached one finger out to caress her cheek before giving the two a nod. "All right then. Miss Tendo, we'll have to work on changing your price." The negotiations commenced, and by the end of them Nabiki was able to get the apartment for a little more than half the rent that was originally suggested to her because of Ranma's hidden talents.

-X-X-X-

The Boeing - 767 jetliner landed in Tokyo's Narita International Airport, while it was common for some passengers to feel jet lag if they didn't sleep on the 10 hour flight, most of them were awake in the noon day sun. These people didn't include the adults of the Digger family. While little Brittany was still asleep in her stroller seat, Gina was awake as any two year old would be from taking her nap. Now Gina wasn't a hyper child, she was an inquisitive child. This isn't a bad thing, as it is good to have any child question everything around them, after a long flight across the Pacific Ocean, that would be a different story.

"Daddy, who are we going to meet?" While many would think that a two year old asking such a question would be a prodigy, the Diggers knew that it would be one of the many questions asked by their daughter. So they knew that if they gave Gina what they were going to do, most of her questions would be asked.

"We're going to meet an old friend who met someone that does some of the stuff Daddy does." Theo explained to his daughter. This did its job in giving the child all the information that she needed. Julia gave her oldest daughter a smile as she thought of what Gina would be doing with her life if she kept up her inquisitive attitude for the rest of her life.

"So they can do magic too?" This made Theo nod in response before the grinning child, "When can we see them?"

"Tomorrow sweetheart." Julia replied for her husband, "We need to get settled before we talk to her."

This calmed the child as they went though customs and stamped their passports. They picked up their luggage quickly and hailed a taxi to take them to a hotel in the Nerima district. This made the cab driver a bit frightened but agreed as they sped down the freeway towards the district's hotel section. It wasn't long after that they registered a room and called Ku Lon saying they arrived and to expect them to be there in the morning.

----

Ku Lon put the receiver down as she finished giving Theodore Diggers the instructions and address to the Nekohanten, while she knew that the flight was a long one for them, she would need to inform Ranma that they arrived. It was after the lunch rush hour that the call was received so she could have Xian Pu search for Ranma while she didn't need her, "Xian Pu. Go get Son-in-law and tell him the Diggers have arrived in Japan. He'll need to come here in the morning." Xian Pu looked at her great-grandmother before leaving the Nekohanten to do as she was told.

Xian Pu knew that she would have a bit of a problem finding Ranma, as he didn't tell her where he was going after he left the Hibiki residence. Still she was able to find him over in Japan when he beat her in the tournament while crossing China and the Sea of Japan, it shouldn't be too hard to find them in the metropolis of Tokyo now would it?

Once Xian Pu was out the door, Ku Lon went over and shut the door, turning the sign around to say that they were closed and would be back in half an hour. It would take that long just to contact her village about the current affairs and a week to respond. That long distance plan she invested in helped plenty when she was in dire need of assistance from the rest of the council.

"Hello, Chinese Embassy."

"Yes, I'd like to leave a message for Perfume."

----

Ukyo was not having a good day. While her Ran-chan had kept her future step-daughter away from her the day before, and didn't even acknowledge her while she was there, she was determined to at least get to play with little Nyoko. That was until she entered the Tendo-ke.

While seeing the two fathers passed out at the shogi table was part of the norm for the Tendo's. Seeing a disheveled Nodoka was a bit stranger. A passive Akane, however, left a lot to be desired. She noticed that Kasumi wasn't where the rest of the family was and Nabiki should be at school, of course she didn't know that today was Nabiki's day off, usually, from her classes. Her Ran-chan and future step-daughter were not there, as well as most of the baby things that were there had been moved or removed from the premises.

This didn't persuade the chef as she knew her Ran-chan would come back for the rest of the baby things that were still in the house, however she didn't know where he was or where he would go. She did have a few ideas and the Amazons would be talking to her weather they wanted to or not.

Turning about, the okonomiyaki chef headed to her next destination. The restaurant of her rival in more ways then one, the Nekohanten.

----

"So you're saying that he has a child?" spoke the quiet, feminine voice as she casually sat in seiza in the tatami room of her home.

"Yes, Mistress. The Saotome boy indeed has a child and is caring for it as we speak." the crack of a whip-like object hit the servant on his leg, causing a small line of red to appear. Nothing too damaging, but enough to give him the warning he deserved.

"You will not talk about my Ranma-sama that way, Sasuke." Kodachi Kuno sneered, "You will show him the respect that he's deserved.

"Yes, Mistress." Sasuke bowed down, hoping that one of the more insane Kuno family would forgive him for the mishap. It wasn't as if he didn't respect the Saotome heir, in fact he was very nice every time he found him and treated him to something more than what the Kunos would have. If he was dealing with Tatewake, his wording of his report would have gone unpunished.

"Continue with your report."

"Yes, Mistress." Sasuke sighed for a moment to collect his thoughts before continuing, "After a brief discussion with his mother, Ranma-sama left the compound with Tendo-san's elder sisters. Taking the baby as well as a few other baby items with him. They went to the Nekohanten and that was the last place I was able to track them before your brother called my services."

Kodachi frowned, knowing that her brother caused that little bit of information to be misplaced, "Did they say anything about the child at the Gaijin restaurant?"

"I was unable to find that information out Mistress. As I had to find a place to hide so that the older woman wouldn't find me like last time." Of course Sasuke could have told her about the discussion he heard while the women were in the kitchen taking care of the baby. But that might cause the daughter of Kuno to go on a rampage about Ranma being defiled by the middle sister.

"Then I want you to find where my Ranma-sama is. It has been several days since I last saw his personage, and I long for his arms to be around me." Kodachi laughed with her customary "Ooh Ho Ho Ho."

'I seriously wish she would dismiss me before she started that laugh.' Sasuke frowned, then disappeared as Kodachi dismissed him.

"Soon, Ranma-sama, You and your child will be part of the Kuno family. And I will give you more children that will be as strong as you."

-X-X-X-

It was late in the evening, and Xian Pu-neko was exhausted. She found the room that Ranma and Nabiki were using in the hotel and wondered why they would leave the window open. At the moment it didn't matter to her because as soon as she entered the room, she spotted her errant husband of Amazon law, and what she saw she didn't enjoy.

Laying in the bed was Ranma, if anything that had transpired earlier that evening it showed as he was currently not wearing a shirt, from the way the covers were draped over his form it could have been anything. However that didn't add up to the fact that the middle Tendo sister was spooned against the pig-tailed man's chest, also not wearing any shirt as her shoulders were also showing. Both were in a deep sleep that made the purple-haired cat wonder if their activities were as pleasurable as she imagined them to be.

Quietly she moved from the window, the soft pads on her current form's feet made it possible, and jumped on to the bed before trying to nudge her way between the two on the bedsheets that covered them, which was stopped when a strong, calloused hand picked her up and placed her in front of Nabiki upon his chest. Xian Pu-neko looked up at the hand and then in to the stormwind blue eyes of the love of her life.

"Not tonight Shampoo," Ranma whispered quietly so that the middle sister could still sleep, "You can sleep here, or keep Nyoko company. But don't wake Nabs up."

This caused Xian Pu-neko to meow quietly before curling up in a tight circle next to the middle Tendo sister. She could tell them in the morning to meet the Diggers at Nekohanten. For now she was living one of her own dreams after she first saw how scared Ranma was of her Jusenkyo form, to be beside him no matter which form she was in.

-X-X-X-

Morning saw the Diggers family's arrival at the Nekohanten. While most tourists were 'unofficially' discouraged from visiting the Nerima Ward for their own safety, and the Diggers family did look like a normal gaijin family on holiday, they had been insistent on going there. Both wanted to meet this student of Ku Lon's and confirm their suspicions as to Ku Lon's 'surprise' in regards to him.

"Welcome to the Nekohanten," Ku Lon greeted cordially as the Diggers family stepped inside the restaurant. Jumping down from her perch on the kitchen counter, Ku Lon hopped over to them, her sharp eyes taking quick note of the 'spotted' blonde hair of the baby held in Julia's arms. "I once again stand in the presence of one of the Great Races... and she's just as cute as the other one." The Elder gave the family a warm smile and waved them over to a nearby table.

Ku Lon's comment brought questioning looks from the two adult Diggers as they sat down at the indicated table, little two-year-old Gina moving to sit in her father's lap. "So, you've actually found another werecheetah?" Theo asked, gently beginning to bounce his elder daughter on his knee.

"Of course. If I hadn't noticed that the child's hair was 'spotted', rather than just having darker-blonde 'streaks', I would have assumed that my student had dyed the child's hair," Ku Lon responded, having quickly retrieved a tea set and pouring them all steaming cups of the beverage before assuming her own place at the table.

"Child? You mean that your student isn't a werecheetah himself?" Julia questioned, eliciting a laugh from the old woman as Julia held little Britanny possessively against her bosom.

"Heavens no, child. If he was one of the Great Races I would have had my heir, and every other available young warrior of my tribe, bedding him regularly long ago." Ku Lon gave Julia an understanding smile, "And not to worry, my dear. I doubt that my student would wish for the greater responsibility of trying to raise TWO children, as he's likely having enough trouble handling the one he already possesses." This brought a sigh of relief from both of the adult Diggers, while Gina looked upon the Amazon Elder with widely curious eyes. "Well now, you certainly have grown, little one," Ku Lon addressed the child in Theo's lap. "Are you going to be a Warrior like your mother, or a Mage like your father, I wonder?"

Gina gave Ku Lon a big smile, before clapping her hands and piping up, "Like Daddy!" This lightened the mood even further as they enjoyed their tea and began catching up on what had occurred in each other's lives since they'd last met. Ku Lon entertained them with a few stories of her student's more humorous adventures, and Julia passed Britanny into Theo's lap so she could better act out some of her own tales of their more recent adventures.

"So Ku Lon, when can we expect to meet this astonishing student of yours?" Theo asked some time later, carefully adjusting the two children in his lap to keep them from falling. Gina, always fascinated by her younger sister, aided in this endeavor by hugging Britanny to herself.

"I sent my great-granddaughter out last night to tell them of your arrival, but she has yet to return. I can only assume that she chose to remain with him for the night." 'And hopefully becoming more than a friend if she remained through the night,' Ku Lon thought privately. "They should be arriving at any time."

----

At that moment, said student was currently walking down the street towards the Nekohanten, Nyoko's knapsack upon his back, and sending an occasional worried glance in his companion's direction. Beside him, Nabiki quietly walked with Nyoko held securely in her arms and Xian Pu-neko perched upon one shoulder. And it was Nabiki's continued silence that was worrying him, especially after that morning's incident in the hotel shower.

"You know, Saotome, I thought you weren't interested in acquiring any other 'close' friends for a while? I mean, you haven't even done that kind of thing with me yet and I thought we were already very close friends," Nabiki suddenly stated, ending her prolonged silence, and watching Xian Pu-neko out of the corner of her eye, noting that cat's CAN look extremely embarrassed.

The 'incident' to which she was so obliquely referring, and that all of their minds turned to at the comment, had involved incredibly bad timing on Xian Pu-neko's part (or 'good' timing, depending on how one viewed it), an open bathroom door, Ranma's recalling of some of the previous night's more memorable moments with Nabiki as he was showering, and the discovery that Nyoko's baby oil had 'other' uses. Xian Pu-neko had entered the bathroom through the open door, jumped into the tub/shower through a gap in the curtain without really paying any attention to Ranma's activity, changed back to her human form, spun about on her bottom to face her Airen and... It had been Xian Pu's loud "AIYAH!" that had drawn Nabiki rushing into the bathroom to investigate. It had taken every ounce of control she'd possessed to keep a straight face at the scene that greeted her when she'd thrown the shower curtain aside... Ranma standing there embarrassed, equipment still in hand, and Xian Pu sitting in the tub before him, her expression one of wide-eyed disbelief, as Ranma's fluids... Well, Xian Pu definitely needed to wash up after that... and shampoo her hair. Nabiki had left the two with instructions to 'clean each other up' and then walked out of the room, closing the door softly behind her, before rushing over to the bed and grabbing a pillow to smother the hysterical laughter that soon burst forth from her.

"I'm not! I didn't even know Shampoo was there until..." Ranma trailed off as his face flushed in embarrassment. Taking a few calming breaths, Ranma tried again, "I was just cleaning up before we headed out..."

"Is that what you were doing?" Nabiki teased. "Cleaning it rather well, weren't you?"

"Nabiki..." Ranma whined, as Xian Pu-neko began batting at Nabiki's head with her paws.

"Okay, okay, I'll stop teasing," Nabiki chuckled, ducking her head down at Xian Pu-neko's assault. Then as Xian Pu-neko stopped batting at her, Nabiki added, "I just wish I'd had my camera out to catch Shampoo's expression. That was priceless!" Xian Pu-neko renewed her assault with even greater vigor, still refraining from using her claws... but only just. Xian Pu had NOT found the experience the least bit humorous, although bathing afterwards with her Airen had been quite enjoyable even if they hadn't had the time to do more than simply 'clean up'.

"In any case," Nabiki said after they'd walked a bit further and calmed down, "you can stop worrying, Ranma. I'm not my sister, I'm not jealous, and I'm not going to 'punish' you for what happened." She then leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. "Just be sure to invite me to join in the next time you and Shampoo decide to have a little fun, okay? Just imagine all the fun things the THREE of us could do together."

Nabiki smirked to herself as she noted Ranma's eyes take on a glazed appearance, the smirk becoming a visible grin as she noted that Xian Pu-neko had also taken on a similar expression. Truthfully, after Ranma-chan's hot little body, Xian Pu's was next on the list of 'females' that Nabiki lusted after and with the threat of her dragging Ranma off back to her village no longer an issue... well, Nabiki wanted to explore her options a bit more thoroughly.

Feeling Nyoko shift about, Nabiki looked down upon the precious bundle in her arms and wondered if she would ever have a child of her own. While having only known Nyoko for a very short time, Nabiki recognized that her maternal instincts had kicked in with a vengeance and she was only a few steps away from never allowing herself to be parted from her. Nabiki had always possessed strong maternal and nurturing instincts, even more so than Kasumi, having an almost empathic ability with young children and delighted in their carefree laughter, which is why she had been so successful as a babysitter in the neighborhood. But then... Kuno had made his ridiculous and malicious accusations in the park where all could hear, while she was babysitting a young boy, and taken away the one joy in her life after her mother had died. That the accusations were completely untrue and had no basis in fact was irrelevant, as the results were the same irregardless of their validity, doubt had been thrown onto her suitability to properly care for the children of others and she'd lost the trust of many parents as a result. There's nothing more damaging to the reputation of anyone dealing with young children than being accused of being a pedophile. Just the accusation alone is sufficient to force an individual to find another line of endeavor that didn't involve children. And all because she had dared to spurn his advances towards her. She'd adopted her 'Ice Queen' persona, and alternate forms of earning extra income, shortly thereafter, and resolved to publicly humiliate Tatewaki Kuno at every opportunity.

Shaking her head slightly in an attempt to banish thoughts of the past, Nabiki returned her attention to Nyoko, savoring the feel of holding her. 'Could this be what Momma felt like when she was holding Kasumi? Or me?' she pondered. 'The overwhelming need to protect, love and nurture Nyoko, even though I wasn't the one to give birth to her? Has Ranma discovered this aspect of being a woman?' She glanced over at the pigtailed young man and smiled softly, remembering the way he, or rather 'she', had behaved when she'd thought the Amazons could be a threat to 'her baby'. Oh yes, Ranma had made the discovery, but did he consciously realize it? 'He's going to make a great father with the right person to help him,' she thought, not aware that her subconscious was already striving to place her into that role with little tweaks here and there in her conscious behavior.

"Well, we're here," Ranma needlessly announced as they stopped in front of the Nekohanten's entrance. He turned to look at Xian Pu-neko where she perched on Nabiki's shoulder and said, "I sure hope your grandmother isn't tryin' to pull a fast one, Shampoo..."

"Only one way to find out, Ranma," Nabiki said, motioning him inside and following after him.

"Okay, Ol' GhouUGH!" Ranma grunted, turning a glare upon Nabiki and lifting a hand to rub his offended ribs where Nabiki's elbow had jabbed him. "What was that for?"

"Because, Saotome, she has guests," Nabiki stated as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. "It's ill-advised to insult one of your sensei in the presence of another you're hoping to get instruction from. Especially in her own home. I mean, he might think that you're more trouble than you're worth and refuse to teach you anything."

Ranma opened his mouth to give one of his standard replies and then closed it again as Nabiki arched an eyebrow, making it clear that she was more than ready to shoot down any flimsy verbal defense he might launch, thereby forcing him to 'think' about just 'what' he was actually going to say in reply. Fortunately, no one had to wait for the expected reply from Ranma, which could have taken awhile, as a yell erupted from the kitchen area.

"Ranma Saotome! You will die for trying to enslave my beloved Shampoo with your dark magic!"

This declaration, not surprisingly to any of the Nerima residents, had been issued by none other than Mu Tsu. What caught them all flat-footed, however, was that, despite the presence of visitors and very young children, Mu Tsu launched his usual assault of ridiculous amounts of lethal weaponry throughout the interior of the restaurant.

It should be noted that, when wearing his glasses, Mu Tsu was quite capable of exceptional accuracy with thrown weaponry. Unfortunately, at the moment, Mu Tsu's glasses were, as usual, perched on top of his head. What this meant was that Mu Tsu automatically fell back upon his usual means of attack when his target wasn't 'clear' in his vision... i.e. blanket the general vicinity with lethal weaponry and hope to hit something vital, or at least debilitating.

So, while the majority of his thrown weaponry was indeed concentrated in the general vicinity of his hated foe, Mu Tsu also sent plenty of bladed weaponry to the surrounding areas as well, including the area where Ku Lon and the Diggers family happened to presently occupy. Julia kicked the table they were seated at onto its side, so that it became a makeshift shield for Theo to duck behind with their infant children, but it wasn't adequately large enough to completely shield him from the sheer volume of weaponry Mu Tsu was casting about, such as the throwing spike that penetrated his right thigh among other minor injuries. Above him, Julia and Ku Lon worked in tandem to knock as many of the lethal projectiles from the air as they could and to shield the children and him even further.

Ranma hadn't been fortunate enough to be near any of the restaurant furnishings to grab as a shield and so placed himself directly between the incoming barrage and Nabiki, relying on his speed and dexterity alone to slap as many of the projectiles aside as he could. Unfortunately, as fast as he was, he couldn't easily slap everything aside and some of the projectiles Mu Tsu was hurling at him were of sufficient mass and inertia to force him to twist aside, exposing those he was trying to protect in order to shove aside said projectile.

Xian Pu-neko was crouched down upon an equally crouching Nabiki's shoulder, making herself as small a target as possible, when she caught sight of the approaching dagger. It was long, heavy and approaching fast as it ricocheted off the floor with plenty of momentum to remain lethal and it would likely strike her Airen in his leg. But then, Ranma was forced to twist about, changing his stance, and suddenly the dagger was on a direct course for Nyoko with nothing to hinder it. Without thought, Xian Pu-neko launched herself from Nabiki's shoulder, her hind-claws digging deeply into the girl's shoulder as she put everything she had into intercepting the dagger and knocking it off its present course. As it turned out, she'd pushed off with just a fraction too much force or a split-second too soon and Xian Pu-neko found herself in the dagger's path with virtually no time to react. Even as she twisted in midair to try striking at the dagger with her forepaws, she yowled in pain as she was skewered through the abdomen, a good portion of the dagger emerging from her back. Fortunately, due to Xian Pu-neko's inertia to one side, the dagger's course was altered sufficiently to miss striking Nyoko, although the outside of Nabiki's right upper arm received a deep slashing wound.

Nabiki had closed her eyes tightly as soon as the attack had begun, dropping down to her knees and making herself and Nyoko as small as possible, silently swearing a blue streak as she could hear weapons of all sorts striking the area around her. Mu Tsu was going to pay and pay dearly for this attack, she was personally going to see to it... if she survived. She gasped and clenched her teeth as she felt Xian Pu-neko's claws dig into shoulder and then flinched at Xian Pu-neko's pained yowl, crying out herself as a burning pain blossomed in her right arm, almost causing her to drop Nyoko.

Ranma spun about at the pained cries behind him, ignoring the impact of a shuriken embedding itself in his left shoulder, to drop down and cover Nabiki's body with his own, shielding her and his daughter with his own body from any further harm. Fortunately, he only received a few other minor injuries when the attack abruptly ceased. Ranma looked back over his shoulder to see that a red-haired woman had Mu Tsu pinned to the floor with a chair upon which she sat, her feet pinning his arms out to the side, while Ku Lon held one of Mu Tsu's own daggers to his throat looking more lividly enraged than Ranma had ever seen the Amazon Elder.

"You DARE launch an unprovoked attack upon an ALLY of the Tribe!" Ku Lon snarled. "Disrupt the dealings of an Elder during the course of her duties. Needlessly ENDANGER the lives of INVITED GUESTS of an Elder, and RECKLESSLY ENDANGER THE LIVES OF INFANT CHILDREN!!!"

Ranma could just see a drop of blood appearing at the point where Ku Lon's trembling hand held the dagger at Mu Tsu's throat.

"I should kill you right now and be done with it! And to hell with the bad blood it would create with the rest of your kin!" Ku Lon snarled. "Your mindless, unwanted, and unappreciated obsession with my great-granddaughter ends now!"

"Elder, please, no one was seriously injured..." Theo began, pulling the throwing spike from his thigh after ensuring that his daughters were unharmed.

Julia would have disputed that statement after noting the frightened look in her eldest child's eyes and was about to do just that when Gina spoke up and pointed towards the other family group. "Kitty's hurt!"

All eyes went towards the front of the restaurant where, as Ranma moved aside and began to worriedly examine Nabiki and Nyoko for injuries, Xian Pu-neko's small form could be seen lying upon the floor, a long-bladed dagger passing completely through her small body... and she didn't appear to be breathing.

"Goddess... no..." Ku Lon whispered, the dagger she'd held at Mu Tsu's throat dropping to the floor from her now unfeeling hand as she stared in horror.

-X-X-X-

Ukyo stood at her grill as she fixed up an okonomiyaki special for her current customer while her thoughts brooded upon what she learned from the Amazons the previous day. Of course she really couldn't trust them because they probably had him and her stepdaughter tucked away somewhere in their establishment. None the less, she would be getting in touch with Ranma as soon as she could find him. She finished the order and went about cleaning the grill when bell chimed of another customer. Konatsu, her waiter/waitress, greeted the customer and brought them over to the grill. As she looked up she saw who it actually was.

"I'm not here for food, unfortunately, but I do need to talk with you privately, Kuonji-san." Nodoka Saotome stated.

"Sure. Right this way." Ukyo said, finishing up the last order and passing it to her customer before directing the older woman to the back of her restaurant, "Konatsu? Would you mind watching the restaurant while I talk with Saotome-san?"

"Of course, Ukyo-sama." replied the quiet, male konichi.

-X-X-X-