Good news! Viz Media has announced that they will begin releasing 'Aishiteruze Baby' in the USA under their ShojoBeat label starting on April 4th! I'm really looking forward to this myself as I have only seen the anime.
I've corrected a boatload of errors in this chapter. You have my apologies for not proof reading it properly the first time.
Purr-fectly Normal Behavior – Part 4
by Juliet Carnell
based on Ranma ½ by Takahashi Rumiko & Aishiteruze Baby by Maki Youko
Shampoo checked her list again just to be sure that she had actually completed all of the things Cologne had asked her to do. It was Monday and Shampoo had willingly given up her morning off to repay her great-grandmother for helping her to keep her secret from the Katakura's. The list was long, but Shampoo was full of energy today and she was done before she knew it. She found a clock in a store window and realized that it was way too early to meet Yuzuyu at the pre-school.
She stopped for lunch and then tried window-shopping, but without any money to spend it wasn't much fun. She could go to the high school and see her Airen, but those visits usually turned into some strange competition or a fight and that would use up the rest of her day. What she really wanted to do was go see Yuzuyu, but if she went now the schoolyard would still be full of other children.
She thought about that as she walked along in the general direction of the pre-school. Why did she always wait until the other children had gone before changing into a cat and meeting her little friend? There wasn't anything to be afraid of. They were only children after all. In fact, more children might mean more hugs! Wearing a broad smile of anticipation she picked up her pace.
o o o
Yuzuyu was playing in the sandbox with her friend Ken-chan. As usual Yuzuyu was building a mountain of sand from the rivers that Ken-chan was excavating. Yuzuyu kept a wary eye on Marika-chan, the dark haired little girl didn't like it when Ken-chan paid too much attention to Yuzuyu.
Shampoo strolled through the front gate and froze. She hadn't really expected quite this many children. She considered turning around and waiting in a tree somewhere until some of them went home, but she thought about it too long.
"Shampoo-chan!" Yuzuyu screamed from across the playground.
Shampoo tried to swallow, but her mouth had gone dry. As a martial artist she was used to being stared at by crowds of people while she fought with Akane or Ranma, but something about the dozens of cute little faces in front of her sent shivers down her long supple spine. Gathering up all of her resolve, she straightened her shoulders, stuck her tail in the air and sauntered through the packs of gawking children.
When she reached the sandbox, Yuzuyu gathered her up into her arms in a big hug, "Shampoo-chan came early!" the little girl shouted with glee.
"Yuzuyu-chan?" asked Ken-chan with a puzzled look on his little face, "Is that your cat?"
Yuzuyu turned and lugged the heavy cat over to where her friend was standing. "Shampoo-chan is restaurant cat, but also Yuzuyu's friend."
Yuzuyu set Shampoo down in front of the boy and he tentatively reached a hand out to her. Shampoo stretched her head up to meet the little boy's hand and he giggled, "Why does Yuzuyu-chan call her Shampoo?"
"Because that's her name," Yuzuyu crouched down and pointed to the little silver nametag around the cat's neck. "It says so right here."
Several other children had wandered over to the sandbox to look at the cat, "Such a pretty kitty!" "Can I pet it?" "Is it a girl or a boy?"
Yuzuyu beamed as she introduced Shampoo to her classmates and answered all their questions. Everyone wanted to pet Yuzuyu's cat friend. Shampoo had never been touched by this many people in her whole lifetime. The experience was both frightening and exhilarating.
"What's so special about an old cat?"
The crowd of children parted to reveal a little girl with black pig-tails and a ruffled collar. Yuzuyu stood up and faced the other girl, a look of determination crossed her young face. Shampoo had a moment of déjà vu and for a second it looked just like Tendo Akane facing off with Kuno Kodachi!
"Shampoo is a magic princess, Marika-chan!" Yuzuyu declared.
"Shampoo?" sneered Marika, "That's a silly name. There's nothing magic about that old cat."
Shampoo instantly disliked this girl. Not only was she obviously Yuzuyu's rival, but that was twice now that she had called Shampoo old! She dropped her tail and flexed her hind legs as best she could, this usually didn't work when she was in cat form, but to put this snooty little girl in her place it was worth a try. "Nyow!" she yowled and then was gone.
All the children gasped as the cat simply disappeared. Everyone began looking around, but there weren't even paw prints in the sand to show where she might have run off. A look of shock grew on Marika's face and seeing it Yuzuyu smiled. She crossed her arms triumphantly and said, "See Marika-chan, Shampoo-chan is magic!"
"B-but," stammered Marika, "where did it go?"
From directly behind Marika a loud "Nyow!" erupted and the little girl went diving into the sandbox. Sitting there as if nothing unusual had just happened was Shampoo calmly cleaning her paw with her tongue. Only Shampoo knew how much her paw hurt from trying to use a ki move without fingers to focus the energy with.
Marika sat up in the sandbox and stared wide-eyed as Yuzuyu gathered Shampoo up in her arms and walked off with the rest of the class in tow. Tears began to well up in the spoiled little girl's eyes. With her sleeve she wiped the sandy tears from her face and whispered, "Marika wants it!"
o o o
Shampoo sat on the front step of the pre-school and watched patiently as mothers began arriving to pick up their children. Yuzuyu was inside the school somewhere, but she had not been able to convince the teachers to let her bring the cat in with her. So Shampoo just waited for her out here in the shade. As the children left one-by-one, most stopped to pet the magical princess kitty and Shampoo was becoming intoxicated from all the attention. She had forgotten what it was like to have a village full of friends, where lots of people knew you and treated you kindly.
There was a commotion from inside and Shampoo looked in to see Marika squaring off against a woman with short black hair, trendy glasses and too much make-up. She was wearing a pastel colored business suit and had a designer handbag slung over one shoulder. "That must be Marika's mother," Shampoo thought, "poor woman…"
"I want Princess Jasmine!" Marika screamed at the top of her lungs while stamping her feet.
"But Marika," pleaded her mother, "we already have Mr. Jinku, we don't need…"
"I WANT JASMINE!"
At that moment, the boy Shampoo remembered as Ken-chan stopped to pet her and she was distracted from the rest of the brat's tantrum. Ken-chan's mother also petted Shampoo and she found that she no longer minded that so much. There really wasn't anything more to fear from an adult's hand than from a little child's after all. So when another adult sized hand came at her she just closed her eyes and stretched her neck out obligingly.
Shampoo was completely unprepared for what happened. Marika's mother grabbed her by the scruff of the neck and lifted her off the step. With the cat in one hand and a smiling little girl in the other she marched quickly towards the gate.
Shampoo tried desperately to free herself, but she could barely move. This was simply something you couldn't train for as a human, so none of her martial arts skill was of any use. In situations like this she had often turned to that part of her brain that was now cat and let it work on instinct alone, but when she did that all her limbs just went limp and a warm feeling of security flooded through her.
She tried to calm herself, at some point the woman was going to have to set her down and then Shampoo would be back in control. She could get away and be back with Yuzuyu in no time. All she needed was an opening and she had as long it would take them to walk to Marika's house for one to present itself.
But Marika and her mother didn't walk home, instead the woman stepped up to an SUV parked just outside the gate. She took some keys from her purse, pointed them at the car and the rear hatch popped open. As the hatch lifted slowly into the air it revealed two large animal carriers sitting on the rear deck.
"What the…" Shampoo yowled in protest and flailed her legs wildly about, but it was no use. Marika's mother had her in the mysterious neck grip and try as she might Shampoo could not get a foothold on anything. She was quickly stuffed into one of the cages and the wire door was slammed shut behind her.
She spun around to find Marika's grinning face staring in at her, "We're going home Princess Jasmine. Then we can play together forever."
o o o
Cologne looked at the clock again, it was nearly ten o'clock and Mousse and Shampoo were now long over due. Since discovering Shampoo's secret meetings with Yuzuyu, she had been sending Mousse with a thermos of hot water to fetch her each Monday night. She knew that the little girl's bedtime was eight, so they should have been back before nine.
She wasn't going to worry. Considering the life the two young martial artists led in Nerima, almost anything could have happened to delay them. Mousse may not have made it to the Katakura house in time to meet Shampoo and she would have a long walk back in cat form. Or they could have met up with Ranma or one of the other fiancés along the way. No, she wasn't going to start worrying until…
The front door bell rang as Mousse entered the restaurant alone. The look on his face told Cologne everything she needed to know, Shampoo was missing! "Mousse, what happened? Where is Shampoo?"
"I don't know," Mousse sounded on the verge of crying. He didn't know what was worse, not finding Shampoo or reporting it to Cologne, "I found her clothes and a water bottle in the usual place," he removed a plastic convenience store bag full of neatly folded clothing and a half empty water bottle from the folds of his robe, "but when I went to the little girl's house Shampoo did not come out at the customary time. I waited and waited, but no one ever came to the front door to let her out. I snuck into the yard and looked inside…"
Mousse seemed reluctant to finish that sentence so Cologne pressed him, "Please tell me that you had the good sense to put on your glasses?"
"Give me a little credit, elder," Mousse looked crestfallen, "of course I put them on and in the living room I saw the little girl sitting in front of a TV set hugging a stuffed bear and a rabbit. She was…" he hung his head, "crying."
Cologne actually took a step back as her heart skipped a beat. A thousand possibilities ran through her mind and the worst was number one on the list. There were five major road crossings between the Nekohatten and the Katakura residence and they had all seen their share of road kill…
She shook her ancient head to clear it of such thoughts. Her great-granddaughter was faster than any vehicle, even in cat form. She also knew the little girl would not let Shampoo get too far away from her and the girl was all right, so the chances of Shampoo being hit by a car were very small.
It was more likely that Shampoo had simply not shown up for her meeting with Yuzuyu and the child was heartbroken over it, but that presented a greater mystery. What could have happened to Shampoo in the short distance between the clump of bushes where she changed into cat form and the schoolyard right across the street?
"Mousse, are you certain that Shampoo was nowhere in the house? What about the rest of the little girl's family?"
"The grandparents were in a back room, watching television. The rest were gathered around the kitchen table having what looked like a serious discussion. The only one missing was the younger son. He may have been upstairs or out of the house, I couldn't tell because most of the upstairs curtains were drawn."
Cologne sighed heavily, "There are just too many possibilities and we have too little information," she looked at Mousse's despondent face and conjured up a smile, "Don't lose heart Mousse, she could still come wandering in here at any minute with some silly explanation for where she's been. We'll wait until morning and then begin searching the area around the school. If that turns up nothing then we'll have to talk to the little girl."
"I want…" Mousse's voice caught in his throat, "I just feel like there should be something I can do."
"You can," Cologne said, "You can make us some strong tea. It's going to be a long night."
o o o
Cologne and Mousse were out at dawn the next morning searching the neighborhood surrounding the pre-school. When nothing turned up, Cologne sent Mousse to check with the girls at the Tendo dojo while she went to shadow the Katakura house. Yuzuyu and the blond boy left for school as usual followed by the father, the younger brother and older sister, but there was no sign of Shampoo.
Mousse was waiting for her across the street from the pre-school. The Tendo's had not seen Shampoo for days as either a girl or a cat. He also noted angrily that Ranma had laughed at his concern, almost provoking a fight, "He seemed a bit disappointed that I turned and left."
"You can have your revenge against son-in-law after we find Shampoo," Cologne said. "There's nothing left to do but ask the little girl. We will wait for the children to be let out into the playground after lunch and then you will make a diversion at the entrance while I slip in."
"What sort of diversion did you have in mind?"
"Try something that won't get you arrested."
o o o
Shortly after noon a flock of laughing children raced into the playground followed slowly, Cologne noted, by one unhappy looking little brown haired girl. From her perch in a tree overlooking the sandbox, she signaled to Mousse at the front gate and he approached the group of teachers standing watch.
Taking off his glasses, Mousse moved toward a large blob he assumed was the group of teachers, "Good day. Might I ask a question?" He bowed and then heard giggling from somewhere to his left. Turning from the clump of bushes he was bowing to, he repeated his greeting to a swing set which was followed by more amused giggling.
"Bless that boy," Cologne chuckled to herself. She dropped lightly from her hiding place in the tree and approached Yuzuyu who was sitting in the sandbox dejectedly scooping sand into a big pile, "Hello Yuzuyu-chan."
At first Yuzuyu's face was wide-eyed with shock, but her expression softened as Cologne smiled and said, "Do you remember me from the restaurant, Yuzuyu? I'm a good friend of Shampoo-chan."
The little girl nodded as recognition dawned on her, "Old Chinese lady… Yuzuyu remember."
"You may call me great-grandmother. That is what Shampoo calls me when she is the magic princess."
Yuzuyu's eyes lit up, "Get-grandmother know Shampoo-chan is magic?"
Cologne nodded, "Yes, I have seen her change many times. That is "gr-eat" grandmother, can you say that for me Yuzuyu-chan?"
"Grrreat-grandmother," Yuzuyu said with some effort, but she smiled broadly when Cologne praised her for getting it right.
"Do you know where Shampoo-chan is? We are very worried about her because she did not come home last night."
Yuzuyu's expression turned dark and she nodded her head slowly, "Yesterday Marika-chan take Shampoo-chan home." She turned and pointed to a dark haired girl with pig-tails playing with two other girls on the far side of the playground.
Cologne studied the little girl, but nothing out of the ordinary struck her senses. "Do you know where Marika-chan lives?" It was a long shot, but she asked anyway. When Yuzuyu nodded her head, Cologne breathed a sigh of relief, "Yuzuyu, would you like to go with me to rescue Shampoo-chan?"
o o o
Mousse was being led arm-in-arm towards the front gate by two of the teachers, while the other two stood and watched trying not to giggle. The handsome young man with the long black hair was obviously quite blind, but he was so charming that it was hard not to be attracted to him.
The teacher with the black pigtails turned to say something and was startled to find a tremendously old woman standing right behind them with a tall walking stick in one hand and one of her students in the other. She tugged on the other teacher's sleeve and they both turned to face the stranger.
"Excuse me dears," Cologne said in her best old granny voice, "I'm here to take Yuzuyu-chan to her doctor appointment."
"Uh…" the teacher's looked at one another skeptically, "and you are…"
Cologne smiled sweetly, "I'm sorry, but I haven't been here before. Kippei-chan is in school right now and my granddaughter is out of town, so they asked me to run this errand for them today. Why don't you ask Yuzuyu-chan who I am?"
The teacher with the pigtails squatted in front of the little girl and asked, "Yuzuyu-chan, who is this woman?"
Yuzuyu grinned and proudly said "Great-grandmother!"
"We should only be gone for an hour or so," Cologne smiled confidently.
The teachers looked at one another and shrugged, "Keppei-san did mention his grandparents once, so I guess it's okay."
They met up with Mousse at the end of the block in front of the convenience store. Cologne was pleased to see that he had put his glasses back on already, "Yuzuyu-chan, this is Mousse. He is also a friend of Shampoo-chan's."
Mousse bowed to the little girl, "It is an honor to meet one of Shampoo's friends."
Yuzuyu giggled and said, "Hello Moose-san!"
"Yuzuyu knows where Shampoo is," Cologne said to Mousse, "One of her classmates decided they wanted a house cat yesterday."
Mousse shook his head, "I don't understand, how hard can it be to defeat a five-year old, even as a cat? Why didn't she just get away?"
"Because," Cologne replied with exasperation in her voice, "Shampoo is learning that martial arts is not the answer to all of life's problems. Something a certain hidden weapons master would do well to study. Now, wait here and watch the child while I go into the store."
Cologne returned a few minutes later carrying a white plastic bag, she reached into it and pulled out a small box of juice and handed it to Mousse.
"I'm not thirsty," he said while rotating the box in his hand.
"It's not for you idiot," Cologne said tersely, "Put in the straw and give it to Yuzuyu-chan."
Mousse did as he was told and handed the box to the little girl.
"Thank you Moose-san!" Yuzuyu cried out in delight.
Mousse looked expectantly at Cologne. "I thought you said you weren't thirsty?" She chided.
Cologne reached into the bag again and pulled out a bottle of Mousse's favorite sports drink, "It's been a long morning, you need to keep hydrated," she said handing him the bottle.
He took it and mumbled, "Thank you," in Chinese.
They walked for about twenty minutes ending up in front of a large modern house about one block from where Yuzuyu lived. "Marika-chan lives here." Said the little girl pointing at the house.
"Okay," Cologne said turning to Mousse, "We need to know where Shampoo is and who is in there with her. I want you to scout around the house." Mousse turned to go, but Cologne stopped him saying, "No, you'll be seen if you go in looking that way."
"Oh no, not that Cologne. Please."
Cologne turned to the little girl, "Yuzuyu-chan, would you like to see some real magic?"
Yuzuyu nodded enthusiastically.
Cologne reached into the shopping bag and pulled out a two-liter bottle of water that she had previously removed the cap from. In one swift motion she swung the bottle around sending a stream of cold water directly at the tall boy, who dissolved before their eyes into a large heap of clothing.
Yuzuyu gasped in surprise and then burst into laughter when a single loud indignant quack erupted from the pile. She stepped closer and looked down at the large white duck sitting in the middle of the pile, its head rotating randomly as it looked around in confusion. Hesitantly she reached out her hand.
"Go ahead," said Cologne, "he doesn't bite. That's Mousse-san in his cur… enchanted form. Why don't you pick him up?"
"Really?" Yuzuyu beamed at the prospect. She reached down and got her arms around Mousse who began quacking excitedly. As she lifted the big duck free of the pile of clothing, Cologne reached into it and searched around until she turned up a pair of thick eyeglasses. While the little girl held the squirming duck in her arms, the old woman balanced the glasses precariously on its bill.
"There," Cologne said, "now he can see better. Put him down Yuzuyu and then he can go find Shampoo."
"Okay!" cried Yuzuyu kneeling down and placing Mousse of the sidewalk. As she stood back up, the duck turned and bowed to her, then flapped its wings a few times before taking off over the fence and into the yard behind Marika's house.
o o o
Inside the house, Shampoo stood at the center of the living room panting heavily. She did not take her eyes off the heap of orange fur that lay against the far wall of the room amidst shards of broken pottery and silk flowers. That was Mr. Jinku and Shampoo had just foiled his latest attempt to mount her. She was surprised that he had been thrown so far this time, considering that she was exhausted from a sleepless night avoiding his fourteen previous attempts.
Mr. Jinku was a minor annoyance compared to everything else she had been subjected to since being brought here. She had planned to make a run for it the moment her captor had opened the cage in the back of the car, but the woman was either too intelligent or too experienced in handling stray animals at her daughter's whim. Instead she carried the whole cage into the house and directly to the bathroom.
Had Shampoo known what was in store for her at the time she would have jumped into the tub of hot water and bolted naked from the house, but instead she endured a cold bath with some smelly flea soup, a quick blow dry that made her fur stand up strangely, and then being sprayed with some awful perfume that reminded her of old fruit.
Marika's mother had unceremonially removed the elastic band from around her neck, ignoring the nametag, and thrown it into the trash bin. At the insistence of the little girl it was replaced by a huge pink bow, the shredded remains of which still clung tenaciously around her neck.
Marika-chan had renamed her Princess Jasmine and made Shampoo endure a long evening of "playing" magic princess games. These most often consisted of her being thrown into the air and commanded to "Disappear magic Princess Jasmine!" The girl soon grew tired of these games and of Shampoo, who resolutely refused to play along with anything the little brat wanted her to do.
That's when she had been introduced to Mr. Jinku, the family's fat orange tabby cat. A single can of smelly cat food had been dumped into a bowl and placed on the kitchen floor by Marika's mother. She shook a finger at Mr. Jinku and told him to share his dinner with Princess Jasmine, but of course only Shampoo actually understood those words. After getting a good whiff of the foul mystery meat, she gladly let the portly tomcat have it all to himself.
It wasn't until after lights out that Mr. Jinku's amorous attentions to her began. She had been searching the house for someway out, when he had first jumped on her back from the staircase. She thought she had sent him flying far enough that first time to dissuade him from anymore passionate performances, but ten minutes later he was back again. She never found a way out and even her yowling trick in the middle of the night had done nothing to awaken the household or secure her freedom.
Marika's mother stormed in from the kitchen, took one look at the broken vase and the unconscious Mr. Jinku and screamed, "That's it! I've had enough of this," she grabbed Shampoo by the scruff of the neck again and lifted the cat right up to her face, "You are going to learn how to behave, Princess or you are going to end up at the pound! Let's see what a little timeout will do."
She carried Shampoo back into the kitchen. The warrior in Shampoo was still stymied by this strange hold Marika's mother seemed to have mastered. Nothing in all her training seemed effective at either breaking the hold or over coming the strange paralysis that it induced. If she ever got out of this house, she would have to consult Cologne about some way to combat it. She shuddered to think what might happen if Akane or Ukyou ever learned it.
There was a large wire cage in one corner of the kitchen and this is where the woman put Shampoo. Shampoo reassessed her situation. At least inside this cage Mr. Jinku would not be able to get at her, so maybe she could finally get some sleep.
A few minutes later however, Marika's mother returned from the living room carrying the tabby cat in her arms. She opened the cage door and laid the still unconscious cat inside with Shampoo, "Now don't fight anymore or you can both just stay in there for the rest of the day."
Shampoo stared uneasily at the big tomcat. In this confined space she wouldn't be able to get the leverage needed to throw him. Nor was there anywhere to throw him! In her current state of exhaustion she wouldn't be able to over power him either. Slowly she backed into the corner of the cage and began praying to her ancestors that the huge lump of orange fur would never wake up.
o o o
Cologne kept Yuzuyu amused by quizzing her on her numbers and teaching her a word or two of Chinese. At the same time she went rummaging through Mousse's robes. Amidst the various chains, knives, throwing disks and household items she found a small cast iron teapot.
She filled it with cold water from the bottle and then held it in her right hand. She had Yuzuyu stand back and then focusing her ki into the palm of that hand. The teapot began to glow red and steam quickly began to escape from the spout. Yuzuyu clapped delightedly at this "magic" trick.
Mousse appeared quacking excitedly. He landed and continued his noisy antics, which made Yuzuyu laugh. Picking up the still steamy kettle, Cologne pointed at the pile of clothes and Mousse quickly jumped inside. She poured the hot water and stepped back as the tall black haired boy returned to normal.
"Shampoo is being held in the kitchen," he reported as soon as he got his voice back, "there is a woman in there too washing vegetables. The rest of the house appears to be empty."
"Good," said Cologne, "All we need to do is knock on the front door and great-granddaughter can slip out when the woman comes to answer it."
Mousse shook his head, "Shampoo is inside a cage."
"That does complicate matters," Cologne sighed, pulling at her lower lip in thought.
"That's not all," Mousse said in a worried tone, "she's not alone. There's another cat in the cage with her, a big tomcat from the look of it. I say we just knock on the front door, force our way inside and get her out of there as quickly as possible."
"That's a fine idea Mousse," Cologne said sarcastically, "Then we can just head straight for the airport because we'll all be deported after we are arrested. No, we need to be subtler than that. We need to get that woman out of the house so that we can get in, but we don't have the luxury of time to work out something complex."
"I can't think of anything," Mousse said dejectedly. Even Yuzuyu shook her head, in spite of the fact that she had no idea what the adults were talking about.
"There is on thing we might try," Cologne said with a sidelong glance at Mousse, "but it requires the services of a lame duck."
Mousse hung his head and muttered, "Not again…"
o o o
Marika's mother had just put a pot of water on to boil and was beginning to chop up some vegetables when she heard a racket coming from the backyard. She went to the sliding glass doors to see what it was and there, in Marika's plastic swimming pool, was a white duck trashing about as if it were wounded.
"Oh my goodness," she cried out as her hand flew to her mouth. She slid open the door and rushed outside shouting, "Shoo! Go away! Get out!" The duck continued to make noise and when it wouldn't go away she ran back to the house to call the police and found the door closed, locked and the curtains drawn. Suddenly the duck making the racket went silent and by the time she turned around the pool was empty.
The sound of the duck struggling in the backyard had brought Mr. Jinku back to life. Now Shampoo was facing him down, circling as best she could to maintain the greatest distance between the randy tomcat and her backside, but the cage was too small and he finally managed to corner her.
There was no way she was going to let this fat disgusting feline have that which she was saving for her Airen. She lunged at the big cat with her claws fully extended and raked them across his face drawing first blood.
Mr. Jinku yowled in pain and surprise, but the attack had the opposite effect that Shampoo had hoped. He came back hissing with anger, the hair on his back standing straight up and his fangs bared. Her took a swipe at Shampoo and she rolled with the punch, effectively avoiding his claws, but she slammed into the far side of the cage and for just one moment her tail was unprotected. Mr. Jinku wasted no time in mounting her. She yowled in rage, but he had her pinned.
Suddenly the cage was awash in boiling hot water as Cologne upended the cooking pot from the stove. The wire cage exploded as Shampoo leapt across the room with Mr. Jinku's neck locked firmly in her left fist. They slammed into the wall next to the door and came to rest with Shampoo crouching over the tomcat. Her breath was coming in irregular gasps and foam dripped from the corners of her mouth. She drew back her right arm as red sparks of ki energy began to fly from her fingertips. Her hand formed into a claw as a primal scream of rage erupted from her throat, "Die a thousand deaths!"
"STOP!" Cologne commanded in Chinese, "Not in front of the child!"
Shampoo froze and her head whipped around to find Yuzuyu standing just in front of the door, her adorable big eyes wide with fright. The red glow faded from Shampoo's hand as she relaxed her grip on Mr. Jinku. The big cat dropped limply to the floor as Cologne stepped up and began to stroke Shampoo's wet hair.
"He is only a cat great-granddaughter and he was only doing what a cat by nature is supposed to do."
Shampoo looked down at the big orange cat, his fur soaked and matted. Her hand was still held in a claw behind her head. She extended it towards the cat slowly. Rather than rip his heart from his body, as she had been about to do, she gathered up the loose skin behind his head and lifted him up to face her, "Mister Jinku stupid. No mean no, even for cat."
Shampoo stood and crossed to the mangled remains of the cage in the corner. She set Mr. Jinku gently down into it and stroked his wet fur a few times to calm him. Then she turned to Yuzuyu. The little girl's eyes were still wide, but the fear seemed to have changed to wonder.
Cologne held out the same white dress Shampoo had worn the day before and she quickly pulled it over her head. Leaving the buttons undone, she crossed to where Yuzuyu was and kneeled down before the child.
"Princess Shampoo can talk?" Yuzuyu asked timidly.
Shmapoo nodded, "Yes, Shampoo can talk." Her face began to turn red with embarrassment as she become painfully aware of her heavy accent and limited vocabulary.
Cologne stepped up and put her hand on Shampoo's shoulder, "Yuzuyu-chan," she said, "Princess Shampoo is from China. She is only beginning to learn Japanese, just like you."
Yuzuyu smiled and Shampoo smiled back, but then she bowed her head again, "Shampoo very sorry make Yuzuyu frightened. Yuzuyu forgive Shampoo?"
"Yes!" cried out the little girl as she wrapped her arms around Shampoo's neck. Shampoo returned the hug and tears began to trickle down her cheeks.
There was a tapping at the back door and Cologne opened it just enough to let Mousse into the room. She dropped his robes on the floor and then went to the sink for more hot water. As soon as Mousse was restored to human form he made his report, "The woman has gone to fetch a policeman, we should get out of here as quickly as possible."
Shampoo was still hugging Yuzuyu when Cologne squeezed her shoulder and said softly, "Great-granddaughter, we must go now." Shampoo stood up with the little girl still held tightly in her arms and ran out the door as Mousse held it open.
Cologne refilled the stew pot and put it back on the stove and then quickly searched the room for any evidence of their presence there. As she stood in the open doorway, she wondered what the woman was going to tell the policeman when they returned to find the door open and the kitchen in ruins.
o o o
Satsuki stuck his head in the door and saw Yuzuyu on the floor with her crayons, "Dinner is almost ready Yuzuyu-chan, go wash your hands."
"Okay, Satsuki-onii-chan!" she cried out, but she continued to color in the picture she was working on.
Curious, Satsuki came into the room and stood over the little girl and looking intently at her drawings. There was one of Yuzuyu, Shampoo-chan and a girl with black pigtails at a playground, another one that looked like a child with a prune in place of its head and the one she was just finishing up. It was her purple haired princess who for some reason was holding a white duck in her arms.
"Yuzuyu-chan, what's all this about? he asked.
The little girl looked up and said matter-of-factly, "Yuzuyu rescue magic princess from evil princess."
"Oh, I get it," he lied, "but why a duck?"
Yuzuyu giggled, "That not duck. That Moose!"
END – Part 4
All characters in this story are a work of fiction. Any resemblance to any person, living or dead is purely coincidental.
This work is copyright © 2006 by Juliet Carnell, it is not public domain and all rights are reserved. This work is not for publication. This work may not be reproduced, distributed or sold in any format or media. This work may not be included in any collection without the express written permission of the author. The reader may make one printed or electronic copy of this work for personal use.
Characters and story elements that have appeared in 'Ranma ½' are copyright © 1987-1996 by Takahashi Rumiko and are used here without license.
Characters and story elements that have appeared in 'Aishiteruze Baby' are copyright © 2002-2005 by Maki Youko and are used here without license.