"Do you have it?" the silhouette whispered in a deathly quiet voice.

"Yes yes," the other silhouette replied impatiently with in a softer and decidedly feminine tone of voice. "Now, will you cut that out already?"

The first silhouette ignored her exasperated reply. He knew that it was better to be safe than to be sorry. If He found out, they would suffer the consequences of which no mortal would want to bear.

"Do you have the all of the money this time around?" the second asked curtly. Time is money; therefore her time is her money.

The first nodded silently and reached into his pocket to pass a handful of bills to her.

She took them and counted them twice before giving her customer a cursory nod. Then she reached into her bag and retrieved a single envelope. She made sure it was the right one before handing it over.

"Enjoy," she said in a voice that was void of any sincerity before turning on her heel and left without another word.

But her apparently disregard for courtesy was lost on the first silhouette who was holding the parcel with reverence and staring at it as if it would burst into flame or grow a leg or two and walk away.


The silhouette froze. He spun frantically about in search of the person who might have uttered the noise. He finally spied the person and sighed in relief once he realized that it was just his accomplice.

The accomplice approached him at a brisk walk.

"Do you have it?" he asked in an excited tone.

"Yes, but we can't look at it, not here, it's too open," the first said under his breath, casting an eye about to fend off eavesdroppers. Once he was satisfied, he leaned over and whispered. "Come, this way. We must hurry; we're almost out of time."

The two half ran half skulked over to the side of the building where they were many bushes and shrubberies about.

"Pass them over, let me see,"

The first reluctantly passed the envelope over to his partner who wasted no time in ripping one side of the envelope opened.

"Oh la la…,"

Daisuke intoned lecherously as he edged the photos out of the torn opening of the envelope and was promptly rewarded with a flash of flawless creamy white skin and many, many curves.

"Come on man, move over!" Hiroshi said, pushing his dear friend out of his way to get a better view of the content of those photos; he has paid for half so he was not about to let Daisuke hog them. He grabbed the bottom half and passed the uppermost ones over to his drooling buddy.

Knowing that once he starts he would be pretty much dead to the world, Hiroshi looked left and right to make sure there was no sign of Him first before allowing himself to stare at the photos.

Fiery-hot crimson locks, supple yet smooth unblemished skin, beauteous firm-looking curves that were glistening with sweet sticky sweat, all wrapped up in a thin veneer of silk that looked as if it was painted on; the creature inside the photo he was holding was divine with a capital D.

Hiroshi swallowed a near cupful pool of saliva that had collected in the mouth.

"Hot damn…," the horny teen could not help himself – damn, those orbs are perfect.

"Ahm, Hiroshi, Buddy…," Daisuke said hesitantly, tapping his friend on the shoulder.
I kinda need to go to the toilet, if you know what I mean."

That snapped Hiroshi out of his trance.

"No! Damn it – we're getting them laminated first so it doesn't get smudged and stuff," he said hotly. "We agreed, remember?!"

"But, but…," the other boy stammered, holding his hand none too inconspicuously over his crouch. He really needed to go, or come; he was not particularly picky at this point.

"No but! We're going to march over to the stationary office and get these plastic-coated before we do anything else to it or with it," Hiroshi said with authority. Damn that boy to hell – these limited editions cost them a fortune, and he would soil them for a moment of most pleasurable, pre-heaven bliss?

"Pull yourself together, Dai!" Hiroshi said aloud, grabbing his friend on the shoulder and began dragging him forcefully out of the shrubbery next to the main building that they were hiding in. They then proceeded to sneak as stealthily as possible toward the stairs.

They have made the grand total of two and a half feet when someone walked up behind them and placed a hand of each of their respective shoulders.

"Hey you two," a loud and boisterous voice said. "Listen man, I need a favor. Could you two cover up for me in Ms. Heisu's class? You see, there's a now all-you-can-eat place called Akiyoshi that just open up. I'm pretty sure they haven't heard of me yet so I thought…,"

Hiroshi and Daisuke both gulped loudly as they turned around – that momentary silence was not momentary at all. And it did not bode well, at least not for them anyway.

Ranma, who was staring intensely at their hands – or, more specifically, what were in their hands – was now turning slowly back and forth between the two of them. His expression was bereft of any of the playfulness his jovial tone betrayed earlier.

"I hope, for your sakes, that both of you have a good explanation for these," the pigtailed boy said menacingly. The two friends shared a look of dread as they feel the grips on their shoulders tighten uncomfortably.

Daisuke froze but Hiroshi did not. He eyed his half an hour old purchases longingly for the final time before throwing the hand of his shoulder and bolted for the stairs.

"Hiro, you traitor!!!"

'Sorry Dai,' the boy apologized silently as he ran from the scene of impending excessive violence.

About half an hour later, after skipping Maths in order to hide from a certain lunatic martial artist, Hiroshi sneaked back to the scene of the crime. He fearfully peeked around the corner and…

"Ahhh!!!" he squealed loudly as he saw what he thought was a bloodied, mutilated corpse of his fallen comrade. He rushed over to the remains of his dear old friend Daisuke and knelt down.

"I'm so sorry Dai, I knew I shouldn't have left you behind but… I was too cowardly to face him, I'm so sorry Dai…," he abruptly paused when he heard an odd rumbling sound.


Hiroshi narrowed his eyes, stood up, pulled his foot back and gave the sleeping Daisuke one good kick.

"Offt!" Daisuke grunted as he was shoved forward and forced out of his slumber by the impact. "…wha?! What happened? Why am I lying on the ground with pebbles digging into my back?"

"One word: Ranma. He caught up fair and square and beat the snot out of-"

"Me! Which is not fair and square; you ran off you asshole!" the boy sat up and punched Hiroshi lightly on the shoulder.

"Hey, it wasn't my fault you were doing the deer-caught-in-the-headlight thing and couldn't get away," Hiroshi defended himself. He reached down and helped his friend get up.

"Whatever," Daisuke said, patting himself off; his clothes were chockfull of dirt and grimes and his parents are not going to be happy about it. "Let's just ditch last period and get out of here. I'm not in the mood for after school's cleaning duty."

"Sure," his buddy said with a nod. He was about to start walking when he remembered something. "Hey, do you whatever happened to those photos we bought?"

"I donno, maybe Saotome dumped them into a rubbish bin somewhere," Daisuke said, shrugging his shoulders nonchalantly.

"Come on man, let's try to find them – those things cost us half of our last month's pocket money and we haven't even looked at them yet," the unscathed boy begged.

Daisuke finally relented. After that it took them about twenty minutes before they found the photos, although they were in a slightly worse shape than the boys have thought. In fact, their reactions were along the line of…

"NOoooooooo!!!!!" Daisuke wailed. "Why, god, why?!?!"

"…what kind of a monster would do such to think to these defenseless, innocent photos?" Hiroshi said in a somber tone of voice, worthy of ones belonging to a deeply traumatized individual – as in war's veteran, wet nurses and a kid tied up in ropes of fishcakes and tossed into a pit full of starving, rabid-mad cats.

They carried on with their antics for a few more minutes before deciding to gather up the ripped photos and pieced them together one by one. It was nearing dusk when the two of them were finally done.

That was when they realized that something was wrong.

"Hey, there's only eleven here!" Hiroshi shouted. "We bought a set of a dozen, what happened to the last one?"

"Maybe Nabiki pulled a fast one on us, what do you think?" Daisuke suggested.

"Maybe…," Hiroshi said uncertainly. Still, it was unlike the Ice Queen to pull something like this. The lost in her credibility would not be worth a single photo, no matter how outrageously she was charging for each one.

"Damn it, this sucks," Daisuke suddenly yelled out at the injustice of it all.

Hiroshi could only nod.

Almost two kilometers away, the missing photo sat undamaged in the back pocket of one Ranma Saotome.

Author's Note: (I no own Ranma 1/2, Takahashi does)

Now, I know there will be some of you who are groaning because I have started yet another fic. Well I have only this to say: too bad! Ha!

The Muses have struck the first blow and I shall repay in kind. An eye for an eye and an idea for a fic, such is the way we battle.

On the story, no, it's not actually a mystery. The prologue make looks that way but explanations will follow quickly enough.

Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did writing it.

p.s. Nothing, just wanna say…