A longer chapter since I was a bit late with the update! It was hard to write so I hope it's not too bad. Read, review, and tell me what you think.
Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma 1/2 nor do I make a profit off the characters in this story.
Waking up to the most inhuman wail possible was not a normal thing for Shampoo. Being woken up by a quacking duck, an old woman with a big stick, or a building collapsing around her, sure. Giant cow monsters with wings? Not even on the list.
She almost didn't react fast enough to catch Ukyo and even though she did, it was only by the foot. Shampoo winced as both her shoulder popped and Ukyo's head hit the side of the building, but the Amazon figured it was better than dropping a few floors. At least the monster wasn't coming after her. It was just standing there, seemingly amused with Shampoo's struggles. Sadistic thing, but Shampoo wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth.
"Shampoo think Ukyo need to stop eating own okonomiyaki," the girl grumbled as she pulled her unconscious partner back up. Once Ukyo was secure and out of the way, Shampoo turned to face the thing that had been the cause of her near death.
Taro, who had been watching and enjoying the show, now stomped forward. His back was still pretty messed up from that last-ditch effort by the other girl, but it wouldn't be too long before he could start flying again. Until then, though, he could play around with the dyke's bitch.
Reading the beast's expression, Shampoo went for her weapons. She was annoyed to find that one of her maces was missing, but simply replaced it with her dadao. It looked like this was going to be an ugly fight anyway.
Still, more to ease her own conscience than anything, Shampoo spoke up. "Why stupid cow attack Ukyo?!" she demanded. If the chef was actually seriously injured...well, Shampoo didn't want to think about that. Not that she actually cared about the Chef's welfare, the Amazon told herself. It was because it was her job to defeat Ukyo, not anyone else's.
Of course Taro couldn't answer no matter how much he would have liked to throw in some verbal barb. The only downside to his curse was its lack of human vocal cords. Oh well, when he beat this girl flat he could taunt her all he wanted before going to take care of Saotome and find out where Happosai was.
Seeing that she wasn't going to get an answer, Shampoo tensed and opened combat with the monster. She jumped, trying to come down atop the beast sword-first, but Taro ducked out of the way and retaliated with punch that was much faster than Shampoo expected for such a bulky appendage. The Amazon brought her bonbari up to deflect the blow, and it worked, but it was knocked out of her hand sent flying over the edge of the building after. It also elicited a sharp crack from her hand as it departed. Shampoo didn't care about it, though, because the punch alone had dented the mace enough to be useless. Now the girl found herself with only her sword.
It had been awhile.
Taro gave out another wail as the vulnerable flesh between his fingers was slashed by Shampoo's reprisal. The little bitch was quick. Fortunately, it wasn't too bad and it certainly didn't keep Taro from forming a fist. He drew back his arm to do just that, but a flash of metal right in front of his face made him leap backwards. The Amazon had closed the distance between them and now she was making a stab for Taro's neck, slicing off a few hairs as she narrowly missed.
That sword was a problem, the cursed boy realized. When the girl went for another broad slice, he struck the flat part of the blade with his hand and swatted it away. This left him open to a savage knee strike to the jaw, but it was worth it to avoid being cut into. That little girl was hitting a lot harder than Taro had thought possible, however.
Shampoo rolled out of the way as a heavy hoof impacted her she had just been standing. Her sword had skid along the roof but hadn't went over, luckily enough. She grabbed it just in time to stop Taro's fist from crushing her skull. The flesh hit the flat side of the dadao, shaking Shampoo down to her feet. If she had her guandao then the fight would be much easier, but having to get within sword range was becoming a problem.
The two combatants gave each other more space this time, each silently sizing up the other. Shampoo set her stance and waited, extending her sword arm out from her body and letting it go lax.
How long had it been since she had actually fought like an Amazon? A few months? A year? Cologne's early-morning sword lessons were starting to come back to Shampoo and she could almost imagine the office top becoming a flat plateau outside of her village. It was always a life-or-death struggle with the old woman on those days, just as it was with this beast now. Her eyes snapped open, coming to a deadly focus.
Enraged, Taro bellowed and exploded into action. His wings fluttered in the high winds and he was soaring towards the girl like a bullet. Shampoo tried to sidestep, but she was far too slow, the sudden flight taking her by surprise. The monster's hairy fist connected solidly with Shampoo's chest. He didn't see the girl's smirk until he was caught, however.
Shampoo accepted the hit; she grasped the first with her free hand and used her adrenalin-fueled muscles to push herself upwards. She shot up into the air, tucked her legs in, and started to spin head over heels. The dadao in her hand became a buzz saw and sliced into Taro's arm, rolling up with its wielder as it cut more and more flesh.
As the massive monster let out another wail, Shampoo tried land. Her chest was starting to burn and she couldn't breathe well. Fortunately, she landed on her feet, but even with her legs absorbing the landing it sent shockwaves through her chest. The worst thing was that her spin had lost momentum before it reached the creature's neck. She couldn't run, nor did Shampoo want to. There was no point; it could fly and Ukyo was hurt. While Taro tried in vain to stem the bleeding on his arm, Shampoo moved in front of the okonomiyaki chef.
"W-Why aren't you gone?" Some point during the fight, Ukyo had apparently snapped back to her senses. She tried to sit up, but a large welt on her shoulder was preventing her from moving very much. "I tried t-to give you time. Sorry..."
The sad smile on her rival's face was mirrored by Shampoo. "Stupid. Amazon no run from challenge." She cast a look a look back to catch Ukyo's eye. "And Shampoo no leave ally." Not wanting to see what effect her words had, the teen looked forward, determined to at least face the monster while on her feet.
Two things happened at the moment Taro charged towards Shampoo; one, she felt something hit her back from behind, bowling her over and shielding her. The other was the sudden appearance of two feet in front of her eyes. Shampoo's eyes looked skyward and saw the moment Ranma braced himself to catch Taro's fist.
Ranma struggled to stop the fist from connecting with either Shampoo or Ukyo. While training with his father, he had heard all of the yelling from the rooftop and had wandered over to investigate. When he saw someone almost go over the edge, he had ran up the building's stairs as fast as he could, just in time to see a giant monster looming over his two friends. Even only holding back one fist, Ranma was having serious problems stopping it.
"It's never anything simple with you two, is it?" he grunted. The boy finally managed to push Taro to the side enough that his fist impacted into the roof rather than the teens behind him, but that was all he could do. The monster was just far too strong.
As for Taro, similar thoughts were going through his head. Saotome Ranma had just been delivered to him, but was much stronger than expected. Not only that, Taro's arm probably needed stitches and fighting with an injury like that wouldn't be smart. Of course, now that he knew where Ranma lived it was only a matter of time before the cursed Chinese boy could put his plans into motion. A momentary rest wouldn't hamper them. Testing his wings, the bull lifted off the ground and cradled his injured arm in his free hand. He glared for a moment, both at Ranma and the girls, before letting out a yell of rage, letting his frustrated voice tell them he would be back, and soaring off into the clouds.
The tense atmosphere from the fight lifted as suddenly as Taro had originally appeared. Shampoo, letting out a breath she didn't even know she was holding, simply stayed where she was, not even minding Ukyo still being on her back. How embarrassing, having someone else try and protect her when they couldn't even protect themselves. Apparently, the battered chef felt something of the same embarrassment as she tried to push herself off of Shampoo, but found that it hurt too much.
"Sorry," Ukyo mumbled, just loud enough for Shampoo to hear her. "I didn't know Ranma would get to you first."
Even if the Amazon was inclined to answer, the sound of Ranma rushing back over to them kept her silent. The boy was looking decidedly worried at all the blood and bruises his two friends were sporting, though he tried to keep his voice level as he asked where they were hurt.
They couldn't waste time with this, though. Ukyo's eyes fluttered over to the side of the roof where their surveillance equipment was setup. If Ranma asked about it, what could they say? That they were spying on him? How would he take that?
"Ranchan," Ukyo called out, cutting-off Shampoo and Ranma's back and forth about injuries, "can...can you get us to Doctor Tofu's clinic? I think there's something wrong with my shoulder. And I want to get off the roof."
If that monster came back right now...
Ranma shook his head. "No way, his clinic is across town! I'm taking ya both to the dojo."
Shampoo and Ukyo shared a look. If they were there when Nodoka decided to drop by then the jig would be up. Then again, both were in pretty bad shape from the fight and walking across Nerima in their condition wasn't smart.
Whatever decision the girls would have came to by themselves was moot. Ranma simply grabbed one under each arm and started carrying them down the stairs despite Ukyo's protests and Shampoo's suggestive snuggling. Peace was peace, but when it came to getting this close to Ranma then all bets were off.
The boy did seem somewhat sorry that picking them up in such a manner. He didn't even try to pry Shampoo's arms from his stomach and instead made sure to take a slow and easy course back to the dojo. He knew that being moved in their condition wasn't good, but it was preferable to leaving them on the roof of that building.
Ukyo accepted her position and tried to keep from showing any pain. Her back was practically screaming in pain and her legs were starting to go numb. Unlike Shampoo, she grabbed onto Ranma's waist to keep steady as he slowly made his way through the crowds of people. Come what may, it seemed like the three of them were heading back to the dojo. Perhaps they could keep out of Nodoka's sight or maybe the woman wouldn't come around? Chances were slim, of course, but Ukyo was hoping that a miracle would happen. At least Ranma hadn't asked about the binoculars yet.
It seemed like an eternity before they saw the arch of the Tendo Dojo wall. Genma, who had been left in the backyard when Ranma took off, stopped his solo practices and walked up to his son. He was about to start yelling at the boy until he saw the two women under his arms. Fear at what Soun would do to him flashed across his face and he started looking around frantically for the his friend.
"Boy, are you insane? What are you doing?!" he demanded.
Ranma quickly shut him up with a precision kick to the face. "Don't start, old man. They were ambushed by some freak cow or something." He shook his head at how stupid that sounded. "Just call Doc Tofu and tell him to get over here. I'm gonna put them somewhere so they can rest."
Genma rubbed his bruised nose and was ready to start a grand argument, but he saw how beat up Shampoo and Ukyo were. The cut on the latter's face had yet to completely stop and her face was still caked in bits of stone and blood. The way the Amazon was breathing didn't sound well either. Shaking his head, he moved out of the way and went to the kitchen to call the doctor. It was Ranma's funeral when Akane found out, though.
Speaking of the youngest Tendo, she was still eating breakfast with Nabiki and Soun when Ranma walked past on the porch. Predictably, her hair stood up on end at seeing not one but two other woman wrapped around her fiancée'.
"Ranma, what the hell is this?! You ran off to-" She was cut off when Ranma grabbed the pillows that he and his dad would usually sit on and placed them out on the wooden deck. "Oh god, what happened to them?"
Shampoo grunted as she was set down. Her ribs were starting to throb at this point and her breath was coming out in uneven gasps. Ukyo was in much the same position, but it was clear to see the chef's relief when her head hit the pillow Ranma had laid out.
A few moments later, Genma made his way into the sitting room. He was surprised an all-out war hadn't started yet, but he was still going to keep his distance. "I called the doctor, boy," he grunted.
"What happened to them, Ranma? I've never seen anyone get beat up this bad." Both Ukyo and Shampoo growled at Akane's wording, but their rival just ignored them.
"I honestly ain't got any idea. I heard them fighting something so I saved them." Being himself, Ranma sounded fairly proud of that fact. "It was some flying monster cow. No problem for me, though." He turned to Shampoo. "Hey, how long did you two fight it before...what the heck?"
Everyone turned to the Amazon at Ranma's surprise only to see that she was lightly snoring. She had fallen dead asleep while everyone was talking.
"What's up with her?" Akane asked. She moved to shake Shampoo awake, but Ukyo caught her hand before she could.
"She didn't sleep any last night. Just leave her alone until the doctor gets here." It was shocking to just about everyone that Ukyo had ran interference for Shampoo. When Ranma opened his mouth to say something, Ukyo caught his eyes. "Please, Ranchan? I just want to rest for awhile myself." She only caught the barest of nods before her eyes slid closed and she drifted off...
When Ukyo next opened her eyes, she found someone else looming over her. She let out a surprised yelp at the close face and tried to sit up, but two strong hands kept her shoulders pinned to the floor.
"Calm down, calm down! Miss Kuonji, you're going to aggravate your wounds!"
The voice was one Ukyo recognized. Doctor Tofu and Ranma were sitting beside her on the porch and it was the doctor that had woke her up. Looking over to her side, she could see that Shampoo was awake and treated. The poor girl looked like a mummy with all those bandages.
Tofu sighed when Ukyo finally calmed down. "Sorry for frightening you, Ukyo. I guess the morphine shot woke you up."
Shampoo unsuccessfully stifled a giggle at her partner's expense. "Silly girl almost crack her head on floor. You bad, bad sleeper."
"Yeah, well, you get poked with a needle when you're asleep and see how you take it."
Akane, who was sitting nearby, chose that moment to butt into the conversation. "Now that you've had your beauty sleep, can we please find out what you were doing on that roof? Who the heck was it that attacked you?"
"It was a guy, about your age," Ukyo explained, ignoring the first question and hoping that everyone else did as well. "He was looking for Ranchan, but I told him to shove-off." The chef started to laugh, but stopped when the action caused her shoulder to ache. "He didn't like that so he tossed some cold water on himself, turned into that...thing...and roughed us up."
Ranma's head dipped. "So, it's my fault. That thing was looking for me and you two got caught in the middle."
"Airen being stupid," Shampoo interjected. "Cow would have attacked anyway. That just how it was." Of course, Shampoo didn't know that for certain. It could have very well been something Ukyo had said before the Amazon had woken up. She was inclined to believe Ukyo over blind speculation, though, a change which was both perplexing and disturbing all at once.
Heedless of the war of thoughts that was going through her partner's mind, Ukyo continued. "I'm sorry, Ranchan. That creep knows who you are now and where you live. He might come after you."
"I could take that thing no problem. Especially after you two worked him over." Well, he probably could. "You guys did pretty good. His arm was all messed up." Ranma's voice did have a little bit of rebuke in it, though.
Both girls knew how he was when it came to seriously hurting an opponent. Even people who tried to kill him on a regular basis would only get marginally hurt in return. Ukyo had the grace to look somewhat chastised, but Shampoo huffed.
"Shampoo kill cow if she see it again." Ranma looked up at her sharply, but the other teen held his gaze.
After a long moment, the boy looked away. Instead of arguing more, he turned to the doctor. "So what's wrong with them, Doc?"
Tofu let out a breath. "What isn't? Shampoo broke a rib and a finger. Ukyo has a bruised collarbone, a concussion, and a pinched nerve in her back." A veritable laundry list of injuries. Tofu hadn't seen things like this in the last few months. "Like I said before, I've given them both morphine, but that will wear off in a few hours. They really shouldn't be moving for at least a few days."
"Can I go home at least?" Ukyo asked. "I don't think Ranchan's health would benefit from the both of us staying here." She shot a glare at Akane which was met by the short-haired girl.
"If you rest until this afternoon, it will probably be alright for you both to head home," Tofu stated. "I've corrected the nerve damage in your back, but you will still have problems moving around. Not to mention that collarbone will need at least two weeks of bed rest."
Then he turned to Shampoo. "You'll need to avoid strenuous activities as well. A broken rib that close to your lung will take four to eight weeks to heal and you can do nothing but rest in bed for the first week."
The Amazon looked slightly overwhelmed with that prognosis. "No can help great grandmother in restaurant for whole week?" She honestly didn't know how Cologne would take that.
"I've been to your restaurant, Shampoo," Tofu deadpanned. "Frankly, I would recommend you don't help there for your entire recovery. Even after four weeks, you run the risk of breaking the bone again due to it being brittle. When I say rest, I mean just that; no acrobatics, martial arts, or fast-paced waitressing."
A silence fell over the house as both Ukyo and Shampoo absorbed this information. Not only could they not get revenge for their injuries, they couldn't go back to their normal lives.
The spell was broken when Ranma let out a breath and rose from his seated position between the two.
"Where do you think you're going, boy?" Genma asked.
"Where do you think, pops?! To go get this pantyhose wearing freak and pound the crap out of him!"
Akane, though somewhat mad at how personal her fiancée' was taking this, didn't grab any blunt objects. "It's not your business, Ranma! They probably did something to him."
Cries of outrage and warning erupted from the two invalids, but it was Ranma himself who's voice carried the sharpest tone. "I don't care! Do you see what that guy did to them?!" he demanded, gesturing to the many bandages now covering his friends. "I don't care what they did because no one deserves that. Besides, they were bird watching! Who starts a fight over bird watching?"
There was another long stretch of silence before Nabiki cut in with, "What do you mean by bird watching, Ranma?"
"Well, they had binoculars and were up on a roof. What else would they be doing?" he asked, though it was obvious he was dubious about his own conclusion.
"...sometimes you can be a real idiot, Saotome."
By this time Ukyo was panicking. So, he had noticed the binoculars. Obviously no one bought they were out bird watching. She sent Shampoo a worried gaze which was returned several fold. They both knew this was starting to look bad.
"I think it's time you told us what you were doing up on that roof, Ukyo," Akane demanded. "It's some plot, isn't it?! I bet it's some kind of love potion or something!"
"From that far away, Akane?" Nabiki snorted. "No, no. It's obvious what's going on here." A devilish smirk formed and everyone around her shivered. At least it wasn't directed at her own family for a change. "Simple, really, if you look at all the facts."
Had the girl worked it out? Shampoo didn't want to believe it, but Nabiki was smart. There was no question about that. She also had her fingers in everything that was anything in Nerima. Had she somehow found out about the truce? Going to Nodoka's house? Just how much?!
Ukyo was almost shaking by this point. She could see how this would play out if the truth was exposed.
Maybe the doctor was wrong? Shampoo felt like she could probably run away before Nabiki could complete her thought. Ranma was between her and the outer wall, though, and there was no way Ukyo could run with her. For a moment, she thought about just leaving the chef to take all of the fall, but her damn pride wouldn't let her do it. A deal was a deal and they had promised in blood. Damn Amazon laws! Resigned, Shampoo grimly stared upwards, intent on weathering out the accusations where she was. If it was to all come out then it would all come out and they'd have a grand argument. Things would blow over, probably, eventually.
"...watching Ranma when he got all sweaty while exorcising!" Nabiki jumped up, pointing dramatically at the two stunned girls. Indeed, the entire room was speechless.
Ukyo, red as a tomato, was about to object out of pure principle when Shampoo let out a loud "Aiyaa!"
"Mercenary girl find out horrible secret!" The Amazon had put on her best mortified look. When Ukyo just stared at her, she kicked the chef in the shin. "Nabiki too too smart for Ukyo and Shampoo."
The other girl caught on. "R-Right! U-Um...we...we were watching Ranchan...working out." Oh god, if there were anything more embarrassing than this Ukyo prayed she'd never find out. It beat getting busted for their actual plot, though. She risked a look up at Ranma to gauge his reaction and quickly looked back at the floor when their eyes met. At least he was just as embarrassed.
While Akane's mouth was still flapping open and closed like a fish, Nabiki nodded sagely. "I thought so. You two should have just bought pictures from me. I sell them by the dozen." She sighed, thinking of all that lost yen.
"Sao-to-me." Soun's demon head already had Genma in a quivering heap on the floor. "How could you make Ranma practice outside when he should be showing off only for Akane!"
While the old men argued, Shampoo nudged Ukyo to get her attention. There was a small smile on her lips that seemed to say "we really dodged a bullet" along with a healthy sense of relief. The other teen could only agree.
"Sorry about that, Ranchan," Ukyo whispered. Ranma had sat back down far out of hitting range from any interested parties. "It...it was a spur of the moment thing." Even though it wasn't true, it was still embarrassing.
Ranma could only blush and nod. When he got his voice back, he glanced at them out of the corner of his eye. "Just as long as you two don't turn into perverts like the old freak."
Of course, Akane eventually got her voice back and started yelling at her fiancée' and things quickly devolved from there. Soun was still scolding Genma and Nabiki had run off to her room with promises of getting her photo ordering catalog for the two girls.
"Shampoo think that could have been worse," the Amazon said once everyone else was distracted.
"I agree, sugar. It could have been a lot worse." Ukyo idly watched Kasumi, who had been sequestered in the kitchen while Tofu was doing his job, walk towards the front of the house. "I think we'll have to put off our fight for a bit, though."
The purple-haired girl agreed. Neither were in any kind of shape for a match. Surprisingly, though, that didn't bother her. "We extend truce for few months. Shampoo no mind," she said, giving the chef a hesitant, but honest, smile.
Ukyo couldn't help but return it. In a way, Ukyo knew she was playing with fire; getting too close to Shampoo was a problem that would certainly come back to bite her in the ass down the road. Only one person could win, after all, and anything other than rivalry or hate would get in the way of that. Still, she couldn't help but consider the Amazon as a friend. Putting off any kind of confrontation would only solidify those problems, but for even a few more weeks of illusionary peace it was worth it.
That was, of course, until Kasumi's voice cut through the arguments, scolding, and friendly conversation. She was at the front door and what she said made the two partner's blood run cold.
"Hello, Auntie Nodoka."
...maybe jumping over the wall and leaving Shampoo to hold the bag wasn't such a bad idea after all.