An Appetite for Destruction

Hotaru watched from the bushes as a pigtailed boy, wearing Chinese tongs, circled the bait.

He'd sniff the air and look at the picnic of Chinese food longingly, before scanning the surroundings and circling a bit closer once more. It was only a matter of time until he fell for her trap.


Ranma knew it was a trap. Even he wasn't dense enough to believe a load of Chinese takeout from the Cat Café would popup with a sign reading 'Free Food' for no reason, but Shampoo had already cycled off, drawing the entire Nerima circus with her.

It was possible that Shampoo had planned to trap him, but the rest of the NWC had ruined it, so she was leading them on a wild goose chase to get back at them.

The entire NWC (and in fact a good portion of Nerima) would gather in Juuban on the second Wednesday of every month for Jedite's Big Building Material Sale.

Jedite's Building Emporium sold most of its stock to Nerima, but found it was much better not to lease the store out of there, for safety and insurance reasons.

Juuban was a much better site. The Senshi caused just enough damage to keep a steady flow of business coming Jedite's way and allowed him to make his real profits at the Wednesday sale by wholesaling lumber and cement to the Nerima ward.

All of this ran through Ranma's mind as he considered the free buffet in front of him. Nabiki had been working overtime to pound some basic economics into his head and against all odds some of it had stuck.

If the trap was already sprung the food was safe and from the looks of things…

Ranma paused and scanned his surroundings once more. All his fiancées and rivals were off chasing Shampoo, so it should be safe.

Ranma's stomach growled loudly, scaring birds from the nearby trees.

Ranma chuckled, embarrassed and rubbed the back of his neck.

"I'm glad no one was around to hear that."

Hotaru stifled a giggle, as she watched the boy circle the food again. He moved just like a big cat and he was really cute! All she had to do was wait until he sat down and relaxed a bit and he would be all hers. Shampoo had warned her that boys could move really quickly when startled so it was best to wait until he'd already eaten a bit and relaxed his guard.

Ranma crouched down at the edge of the blanket and carefully poked the 'Free Food' sign with a stick. When the sign fell over without triggering anything he began to relax a little.

'No glomps or blind duck boys. Must be my lucky day.'

Hotaru watched as her prey (or as she was already calling him mentally 'Mine!'), devoured the Ramen, Shampoo had placed on top of the takeout boxes.

He ate just like Usagi did, which everyone thought was funny, even if Rei did complain about it for some reason. She'd asked Papa-Haruka about it and she'd just mumbled something about denial and said she'd explain when she was older.

The purple eyed girl grinned as she triggered the trap.

Ranma felt strangely relaxed after eating the Ramen and even the electrified steel cage that clanged down around him, trapping him with the food, couldn't dent it. He'd half expected something like this to happen anyway. The dark haired little girl with the huge grin was new though.

Ranma smiled back at the grinning girl. It was always a nice surprise to find someone happy to see him. Plus the girl looked much too young to be considering stripping him and tying him to a bed, like Kodachi had tried yesterday.

Hotaru blushed. He looked really handsome when he smiled. The Inners were going to be so jealous.

"I caught you fair and square, so now you're my boyfriend!" The young girl stated proudly.

Ranma nodded. It made perfect sense to him. If he could end up married by beating a girl in hand to hand combat then becoming a boyfriend by being trapped wasn't that hard to believe. It'd certainly explain Kodachi's claims and dating style.

"What exactly does a boyfriend do?" The pigtailed teen asked curiously. He'd talked to Kasumi about the differences between boyfriends and fiancés once, but before he'd managed to get past the fact that you could stop being a boyfriend without anyone trying to kill you or make you commit seppuku, he'd been malleted by Akane for 'flirting' with her sister.

Hotaru froze for a moment before remembering what Shampoo had said abought having to be firm, so whatever boy she'd caught would know how to be a proper boyfriend. She'd planned on making a list of do's and don't along with a quick summary of what his duties were, but he'd shown up before she'd gotten very far. 'I wish Ami were here. She'd have a list written up and ready before you could blink! I guess I'll have to make something up.'

"The first and most important rule is that a boyfriend has to be a friend." The dark haired girl said, while pacing back and forth in front of the cage.

"Friend, got it." Ranma responded, writing it down in a little notebook.

"And he has to protect me from bullies." She paused. What all did Mamoru do for Usagi?

"Protect from bullies." Ranma grinned. This was right up his alley.

"And play with me." Wasn't Haruka papa always saying that playtime was a very important part of any serious relationship?

"Play with girlfriend. Check." It'd be nice to have someone to play games with.

The last time he'd played Monopoly, Ryoga had somehow gotten lost and ended up in England (They still weren't sure how he'd managed that, he'd only rolled a three!) Nabiki had claimed all of Ryoga's property and blackmailed Ranma into not charging her rent for the whole game, Kodachi had switched boards (Ranma hadn't even known there was a Kuno edition) and whatever card set it had for Chance had caused Akane to smack him in the head and call him a pervert. The resulting free-for-all had caused Soun to ban game-night at the Tendo residence.

"He has to compliment me and cheer me up when I'm sad."

Ranma carefully wrote it down, before frowning and speaking up. "I'll need help with that one. Every time I've complimented someone they've either gotten embarrassed or mad."

Hotaru grinned. "Haruka-papa has the same problem, but Michiru-mama's managed to help her keep it down to one major foot in mouth incident per week. I can get tips from her on how to help you."

"Being your boyfriend is just getting better and better."

This senshi of destruction blushed cutely and stared at her feet.

"Ok, what else?" Ranma asked.

"You have to take me places, like the movies." Hotaru racked her brain for places Mamoru took Usagi.

"What kind of movies?" The pigtailed boy asked suspiciously.

The movies, Akane had made him take her to were sappy love stories that he never figured out the plot to. The movies, Shampoo had drug him to were subtitled, but had some decent action. The movies, Ukyou would sneak off with him to see were pretty good, lots of action and explosions. Kodachi had managed to drag his paralyzed form to one movie. He'd almost died of blood loss and had refused to leave kasumi alone with any repairman or delivery guys since then.

"Well…" Hotaru began nervously, "the new Naruto movie is playing at the theater near my house."

"Naruto?!" Ranma perked up.

Pops hadn't let him watch cartoons when he was a kid, so he'd been making up for lost time since he got to the Tendo's. Fortunately Kasumi was a cartoon addict and had introduced him to dozens she'd thought he'd like. Ranma had claimed he was working on new techniques when Genma had bugged him about it and after the Kamehameha incident no one dared interrupt Ranma and Kasumi's cartoon time, even when they were watching the Care Bears. Ranma's evil grin and Kasumi's hysterical giggles about the 'Care Bear Stare' caused many shivers.

Naruto was one of Ranma's current favorites, even if the whole chakra thing was driving him nuts as he tried to figure it out. He'd managed to figure out several techniques from the show, but the trickier ones always went wrong somehow.

He thought briefly of the Shadow Clone jutsu, before quickly burying it in the back of his mind once more. Some things were just too disturbing.

Hotaru barely had time to blink before finding herself sitting inside the cage with Ranma handing her a plate full of food.