A/N: And with that, Cat's Paw has outstripped all my other stories in every way except for hits and reviews, although if I write another fifteen chapters, it's only a matter of time. But until that time comes, please enjoy Cat's Paw, chapter four.


I wasn't really sure what Nanami was planning to do now that she'd seen this...situation, but I was still rather surprised when she just turned and left the room, leaving the door open. Before I could fathom what she was thinking, I heard the telltale signs of water running from the sink.

Seconds later she was back, this time with a very full glass of water. Never deviating from her neutral expression, Nanami upended the glass on Mikan's head, causing me to wince both at her ear-splitting yowl and claws digging into my chest. It had the desired effect though, as Mikan's eyes suddenly regained focus, along with a healthy color of red from our position.

Almost faster than my eye could track, Mikan had jumped off the bed, grabbed her apron, and dashed from the room, leaving me with Nanami giving me an evil eye.

"Would you like a glass?" she asked sweetly.

Adrenaline surged through my body, helping me break free of Mineth's grip. Zipping over to my dresser, I quickly pulled out a set of clothes, changing faster than I'd ever had before, barely showing more than a flash of skin.

"So, is this another gift from the cat-god? Or is it a bunny-god this time?"

I ignored her quip, deciding that my time was better spent buttoning my shirt and pushing her out of the room, loudly shutting the door behind me.


"So...you went downtown to check out an explosion..."

"Right."

"...fought something called a Malboro..."

"Right."

"...and found a bunny-girl who immediately starting molesting you the minute you brought her here..."

"Right."

"...and you really expect me to believe that?"

I groaned and palmed my face in exasperation. A quiet cough behind me alerted me to my cat-maid coming back with tea. Giving a grateful smile, I took a cup and a long drink before she scurried back to the kitchen, probably doing her best to stay away from Nanami's aura.

Resisting the urge to sigh, I tried to think of a way to prove myself. One side of me just wanted to ignore the whole thing. Why did I have to prove myself to her anyways? It's not like she had any control over who I...er...well, yeah. The answer to that was easy though. I didn't like being thought of as a pervert. Even so, how was I going to prove it when no one else had-

Wait a second, I just destroyed an entire building. There's no way no one hadn't noticed it. Grabbing the television remote, I flipped on the TV. Since I never watched the thing, it was already defaulted to the news channel.

"...standing in front of the remains of an office building that was once owned by the company Fairy Tale." The camera zoomed out to give a wide view of the building that seemed to have simply collapsed in on itself. "The cause is still unknown, but bystanders reported several gasses coming from the building before its collapse. The going theory at this time is a gas explosion but-"

I shut the set off and looked at Nanami expectantly. She rolled her eyes. "Okay fine, so the malboro might be real, but I'm still trying to figure out how a fight downtown turned into a threesome ten minutes later."


"Nothing happened!" I thought about that for a second. "Well...nothing like what you're thinking!"

"It's true," said Mikan quietly from behind Nanami. "Ranma's still a virgin."

I groaned and let my head drop on the table. Thanks for that Mikan, and if I came through this situation with my dignity intact, we were going to have a long talk about the kinds of things you shouldn't say to a guy's sister.

"Well, thank god for small miracles," said Nanami sarcastically. "So, why did this one want to jump you? Was she affected by the heat too?"

"Hey, it was the malboro's fault," I protested. "That stupid toxin did something to her head."

"And you, a martial artist who can wave his hands in the air and turn trees into matchsticks, couldn't overpower the cute amorous bunny-girl?"

"She wasn't the only one who fought that damn thing. I got a mouthful of the stuff too."

Nanami gave me a half-lidded stare. "So are you about to jump someone then?"

"No!"

"Oh so the toxin is selective then?"

"Yes." Mikan had rejoined the conversation, nursing a cup of her own tea.

"Wait, so those things are from your realm?" asked Nanami

Mikan thought about it for a minute. "Not exactly. I think they're from a neighboring realm we call the bunny kingdom."

"How original."

"I've never seen one," continued the cat-girl, "but I've heard that their toxin can have any number of horrible effects."

Letting out a sigh, Nanami flopped backwards onto the ground. "Okay, fine. I believe you. So what do you plan on doing with your newest stray?"

I sighed and mimicked Nanami's position, resting on the ground and looking at the ceiling. "I have no clue. The cat god said it was a one way trip, but she's not even from the same realm as Nanami." And for some strange reason, I kind of doubted that they held the same deity. "I wonder if there's a way to contact the bunny-god."

"The cat-god has a facebook page," said Mikan helpfully.

I blinked. Somehow I wasn't nearly as surprised as I should have been. "Does he post the secrets of breaking the space-time continuum on his blog?"

Mikan thought about it for a minute. "No, usually he just shows pictures of himself at the beach or the mountains with Bast."

"I take it there aren't a whole lot of religious wars in your world," deadpanned Nanami.

"No, it's a very peaceful place."

"Yes, that's really interesting, but what are we going to do about our newest house guest?" I interrupted.

"You brought her here. What were you planning on doing?"

"Give her a room for the night, finding out how far out of her home dimension she is, and seeing if any more of those creatures came through with her," I responded simply. What else was I supposed to do?

Nanami sighed. "You know we're already stretching the rules of this apartment with Mikan staying here. These rooms were only meant for one person."

"Then I'll get her a job so she can get her own room." I said determinedly. "I know we have the space."

"You're starting to develop a habit of picking up strays, you know that?"

"Maybe I am. Probably because I used to be one."

That brought her up short. I hadn't meant to sound accusatory, but the visible flinch on Nanami's face told me I'd unintentionally hit a sore spot.

"Look, it's not that big of a deal," she said a bit hurriedly. "You'd probably have to have a dozen people living in this room before mom would start complaining."

I gave her a small smile. "I certainly hope the cat-god didn't screw up that badly." Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed the cat-maid looking slightly apprehensive. All the talk about apartment space was probably getting to her again. Not for the first time, I wondered what had happened back on her home world to make her so skittish? Thinking quickly, I pulled Mikan into a one-armed hug. "Although if Mineth is anything like Mikan, I'm not going to complain."

Nanami nodded thoughtfully, catching on to my play. "True. She does pull her weight around here, and she's definitely a better cook than you." Mikan turned bright red at this and politely excused herself to the kitchen to see to the food.

In the back of my mind, I couldn't help but think how odd it was that Mikan could act so shy normally, and yet so ready to pounce on me given the right conditions. "Hey, I'd like to see how well you cook on a campfire."

The light bickering helped to soothe the somewhat tense atmosphere and by the time Mikan came around with the food, the conversation had left the issue of Mineth behind. Although that didn't stop Mikan from being the most interesting conversation topic at the table.

"So you share a border with the bunny kingdom?" asked Nanami.

"Yep. Along with the dog kingdom."

Now there was an interesting bit of geography. "The cat kingdom is next to the dog kingdom? That can't be very peaceful."

"Oh no, we're actually on very good terms. A lot of our police force comes from the dog kingdom too."

Dogs policing cats? I guess that made sense...

"Have you ever been to the other kingdoms?"

"Once or twice," affirmed the cat-girl. "The bunny kingdom is a great vacation spot. They've got resorts, casinos, and nice hotels too."

"Do they have a bunny-god?" asked Nanami jokingly.

"Goddess," corrected Mikan. "She has a facebook page too if you want to look at it."

Making a mental note to never ever make an account on facebook, I shook my head. "Maybe later."

"You know it's amazing that they have any followers at all," said Nanami snidely.

"Oh she's got almost four-thousand followers on twitter."


After dinner, Nanami left briefly and returned with a futon and pillow, taking great care to place it as far away from Mikan's sleeping place as possible. After shooting one last warning glance at the cat-girl, she left, quietly closing the door behind her.

Letting out a sigh I didn't know I was holding, I rolled my shoulders and neck, working out the kinks, wincing, as the scratches Mikan had given me chose that moment to flare up. Damn. Apparently that toxin was taking up all my healing energy. Usually I bounced back from scratches like these in seconds. Oh well, not like I was a stranger to pain.

Mikan, however, had not missed my grimace. Before I could start removing my vest, the cat-maid had quickly moved in front of me and began unbuttoning it. "Are you feeling okay master Ranma?" she asked demurely.

"Just fine," I said quickly. A little too quickly it seemed, as Mikan continued her task, revealing my white undershirt, slightly stained with a few spots of blood. Eyes widening slightly, Mikan hurriedly relieved me of my clothing, despite my protests.

Honestly, the four bright red marks across my chest looked a lot worse than they felt. However, it was bad enough to send Mikan into a panic.

"I-I'm so sorry Ran- Master Ranma, a-are you- I am-"

"Mikan."

"I-I-I didn't mean- I mean, I didn't want to, I mean-"

"Mikan!"

"Please don't let me go, I'll try harder, I won't touch you at-"

"MIKAN!"

Her stuttering cut off abruptly as I grabbed her shoulders and forced her to look into my eyes.

"Y-yes?" she asked meekly.

"I'm okay. Now, there's a first aid kit in my room. Can you get it for me please?"

"O-of course!"

Moving as quietly as she could so as not to disturb Mineth, she ran into my room, returning seconds later with the already opened medical kit. Before I could assure her that I could care for myself, she was already dabbing at my scratches with a cotton swab. Her hands were steady but I could tell she was nervous by the constant motion of her tail and the twitch of her ears.

That, in turn, was making me more than a little nervous, provoking my flee on sight instinct a bit more than was comfortable. I was just about to physically move away from her touch when Mikan's voice cut through my dilemma.

"Ranma, why are you afraid of cats?"

I blinked at the unexpected question. "Huh?"

"When Bast sent me here, she told me to be careful around you and go slow so you wouldn't be afraid of me," she said quite frankly. I blushed a little in embarrassment. Minus the cat parts, Mikan was about as frightening and dangerous as a pile of feathers.

"She never did tell me why though," she continued on, her nervousness slowly disappearing as she talked.

"It's...not something I like to talk about," I got out after a moments hesitation.

Mikan only smiled and nodded. "You can tell me when you're ready."

The silence continued but my mind was abuzz with thoughts. I'd never told anyone the full extent of the neko-ken training. Even Nanami's mother only thought I simply had a bad experience once or twice as a child. My constant meditations, trainings, and self-discipline had helped to hide just how bad my phobia really was.

"I was...four when it happened," I began shakily. Almost without my consent, the words started coming out. "My...dad wanted me to be the greatest martial artist in the world to carry on his legacy, so when he took me from home to go on a training trip, he was searching everywhere for legendary training grounds, renowned teachers, and unbeatable techniques."

Mikan finished cleaning my wounds and slowly packed up the med-kit as I talked.

"He was a thief, and a good one too. One night, he lifted several scrolls from some sort of monastery, full of techniques that were deemed too dangerous to teach. Didn't stop him though. He found one that only worked on very young kids called the c-cat fist."

Shakily, I let out a breath to calm my nerves. I hadn't stuttered on saying the c-word in a long time. As if sensing my distress, Miakn moved around to my back and began rubbing my shoulders with her tiny hands. Unconsciously, I could feel myself relaxing. Encouraged, I continued my story.

"It was supposed to be unbeatable. It said that the technique would turn anyone into an unstoppable warrior when in the presence of cats. The training was simple. Bind the trainee from head to foot in fish sausage and toss him into a pit of starving cats."

The massage stopped for a single second before continuing, albeit a bit slower this time. "What happened?" she asked softly.

I shuddered at the recollection. Dozens of yellow eyes staring at me as I was slowly lowered into the pit. Claws tearing at me from every angle. Sharp teeth, grasping the offered food, then biting the skin when there was none left. I remembered screaming myself horse. I couldn't find the words for it.

"It didn't work," I said instead, shaking off the dark thoughts as best I could. "The minute I saw a c-cat after getting out of that pit, I panicked and ran. My dad...thought he did something wrong, so he tried it...two more times, using different foods and keeping me down there longer each time."

Mikan stopped her massage, and entwined her arms around my neck, hugging me softly from behind, resting her head on my shoulder. It was...comforting.

"After the third attempt, I...snapped. I don't know what happened, but the clearing I woke in was completely leveled and there was blood everywhere. Pops...never told me whose it was."

There was more to the story of course, such as the repressed memories of my childhood, and my decision to run away from my father six years later, but I wasn't ready to talk about those things just yet. I found it amazing that I was able to talk about this much, considering I'd only known Mikan for little more than a day. Something about her just made it easy.

A long minute of silence passed, me staring at the ground while Mikan gently held me from behind. Finally, she spoke up.

"It's not hopeless."

"Huh?"

Her arms unfurled from around my neck before slipping under my shoulders to hug my chest.

"Bast sent me here to help you with your fear."

Mikan's voice was getting softer as she turned her head to speak directly into my ear. I could feel her warm breath on my face sending shivers down my spine.

"I think the best way to help your fear of cats...is to show you how good cats can be."

I shuddered as she let out a mewl, but calmed when she started her unique full-body purr. Her hands were at work now, giving a massage to my chest.

"Relax," she purred softly. My mind felt like it was being pulled in two directions. One part was telling me to flee, to get away from the enemy I had let close. The other part was practically melting under the massage. Expertly, Mikan maneuvered me so I was lying face down on the futon. Straddling my back, she continued the exercise.

Damn she was good. Aside from releasing the tension in my back, I could also feel my ki returning to the places that the malboro had shut off. After three minutes under her hands, the scratches on my chest had almost healed, and only faint wisps of the toxin remained. Why had anyone ever wanted to fire her in the first place?

Actually, that was a good question. I wanted to ask her, but my body was feeling rather lethargic and I couldn't seem to get my mouth working.

"The best way to fight fear," she continued in her soft voice, "is with happiness and pleasure." She moved lower, getting closer to my ear as she massaged my back. "I may not be able to do much, but I hope I can give you that."

Wearily, I turned my head to the side, trying to reassure her that she'd already done very well, but before I could say anything, Mikan fully pressed herself against me, leaning her head to the side to capture my lips with hers. It was short, sweet, and feather light. The first kiss she'd given me completely of her own accord. I couldn't find anything to say, but apparently she wasn't expecting anything.

"Good night, master," she said softly before getting up and placing a blanket over me. Seconds later I was out like a light.


For the second time since her ill fated fight, she awoke in an unfamiliar place. Her mind was a bit blurry. She remembered a hume-like city, the malboro attacking, getting a mouthful of the toxin, a male hume, and then...nothing.

Her long white ears twitched as she heard the sounds of something moving in the room beyond, along with the sound of running water. Gracefully, she pulled the covers aside, shivering slightly as cool air caressed her bare chest.

Wait...why was she naked?

Throwing the remaining blankets aside, she sighed in relief as she noticed her lower garments still in place. However...

Her nose twitched as she scented the air. The male's scent was heavy in this place, along with...hers? Glancing down at her legs, her face started to turn a deep shade of red as she identified the smell.


CRASH!

The sudden noise jerked me awake. Was Nanami pissed? No, the entrance door wasn't off it's hinges. Mikan was already awake and making breakfast so...

Turning slowly, I looked towards the entrance to my room to see the door thrown open, revealing the tall, dark-skinned, barely clothed house guest I had picked up yesterday.

And she looked pissed.

Her eyes locked with mine. "You!"

I blinked. "Me?"

"How dare you take advantage of my weakened state!"

I blinked again. "What?"

"Don't insult me with your ignorance hume! Die!"

Did her hands just catch fire? No time to think about that now, dodge!

Her fist crashed into the place I'd been sitting on seconds earlier, a burning smell soon following. Guess that answered that question.

"Wait -duck- I can -roll- explain!" Letting her fist pass me by, I grabbed her arm in a lock, making sure to keep the burning appendage away from me.

"Do you deny spilling your seed on me hume?"

"Well...uh..."

"DIE!"

For a brief moment her entire body seemed to catch on fire, giving me a nice burn before I was able to jump away. Suddenly, her hand darted over to the corner, grabbing a broom that Mikan had probably been using beforehand. The handle immediately caught on fire, burning the broom part at the end, but leaving the handle intact...yet still on fire.

Now I was a bit hard pressed to dodge, especially in the confined space of my apartment. Call me a coward if you will but I really didn't want to block that thing. While her unarmed combat was average at best, she'd obviously had extensive pole-arm training, as it was getting harder to dodge as her combinations and forms became more intricate.

"Quit dodging and take responsibility!"

"Responsibility for what?"

"Don't play stupid hume!"

Her improvised staff was little more than a fiery blur now, her speed matching her ever rising anger. Pretty soon I was going to have to move this to a more open area, or suffer a few burns...or my apartment would burn down. How was she doing that anyways?

There would be time to trade techniques later. Right now I needed to take this outside. Rolling under one of her horizontal swings, I ran towards the door, arriving just in time for Nanami to open it.

"Hey-Nanami-I-wont-be-going-to-school-today-I-have-to-deal-with-my-house-guest-save-some-breakfast-for-me-bye!"

"Get back here you coward!"

Not wasting any more time on conversation, I jumped to the roofs, making my way towards the park.


Nanami stared for a few brief moments at Ranma's fading figure before shaking her head and walking inside. Mikan was humming a mindless little tune while calmly going around and putting out the fires that had started around the apartment.

"I take it she didn't wake up in a very good mood," she said frankly.

"Oh I'm sure Ranma will be able to calm her down eventually."


"Will you just calm down?"

"NEVER!"

Mineth had proved herself to be a capable roof hopper, staying right on my tail as I led her to the park. I briefly considered drawing her into the surrounding trees so as to avoid any early park goers, but the burning staff in her hand made me decide that a few curious observers would be far better than a potential forest fire.

"What are you so angry about?" I shouted to her as I landed in the middle of a clearing in the park.

Mineth wasted no time in resuming her attack, the brightly burning flames adding another level of intimidation to the twirling motions of her staff.

"You still act ignorant hume? Even after you violated me?"

I stumbled at her accusation, nearly falling into one of her blows. "What? I did not!" Putting some distance between us, I patted out the small fire that had started on the collar of my shirt. "Besides, you were the one who grabbed me!"

Right after I said it, I knew it was the wrong thing to say. The red flames that had wreathed her staff suddenly winked out, only to be replaced a moment later with white fire. I could feel the heat even from five feet away.

"You...DIE!"

The park suddenly erupted into a maelstrom of energy as I quickly learned that Mineth was capable of much more than just setting her hands on fire. The ground rumbled and shook as small sharp pillars of earth bean erupting from the ground at the same time as she began her attack, trying to herd me into her staffs blows.

Fortunately, there was about a second of delay between each of her magic attacks and I could feel the slight trembles in the ground well enough to predict where the stalagmites would come up. It didn't make her any less dangerous though, as getting within an inch of her staff was enough to burn me. I was also still a little reluctant to strike her over a misunderstanding, so I stuck to dodging in the hopes that she would eventually tire herself out...preferably before I caught on fire.

"What's the matter hume?" she spat nastily as I danced around another series of her strikes. "Don't want to touch someone when they're fighting back?"

Ignoring the implied vibe, I flipped backwards, coming to rest on top of one of the earthen spires. "Look, I didn't do any-"

"LIGHTNING!"

Her shout was followed with a thrust of her staff into the air. A small rumble was the only warning I got before the left side of my body suddenly went numb, causing me to loose my balance and tumble from my perch on the stone.

Taking advantage of my momentary paralysis, Mineth charged my prone position, striking at my face. Shifting as best I could, I managed to take the blow on my shoulder, biting back a cry of pain as the flames easily burned through my silk shirt and licked at my skin. Lashing out with my good leg, I managed to kick her hands away, using her stumble to recover as best I could.

Fortunately, my body was quickly recovering, moving from a completely numb state to a 'pins and needles' phase. Annoying as hell, but I could fight through it. Of course, mild paralysis was the least of my problems.

"WINTER'S BREATH!"

I didn't have the first clue as to how her techniques worked, but even I wanted to call foul as she shot a freezing cold blast of air from her right hand while holding the flaming broom handle in her left. The attack had a wide range, so I took cover behind one of her previously uprooted earthen spikes as the ground turned white around us. This was really getting out of hand.

Hearing the sound of footsteps, I abandoned my cover as the frost shower died down, just in time for the structure to shatter, raining stones where I was standing just a second ago.

Okay, enough was enough. If this went on much longer, she'd probably destroy the whole park. Watching the movement of her staff carefully, I saw her thrust it into the air. That meant-

"LIGHTNING!"

I was ready for it this time. Kicking off the frost covered ground, I sprinted at her, moving in a random zigzag pattern, feeling the brush of electricity against my skin as the raining bolts failed to find their mark. In another second, I had closed with her, forcing her to abandon the elemental onslaught. I began with a series of feints, careful not to connect with her still burning staff.

Finally, she gave me an opening. With a quick chop, I connected with her wrist before taking a small step back and performing a snap kick, sending the staff flying away in two pieces. Even moving as fast as I was, I still felt the burn. The loss of her weapon didn't seem to phase her though, as she cupped her hand together, letting loose a torrent of fire.

I was almost caught unprepared, but I was expecting some sort of close range elemental attack from her and the only casualty was another of my shirts as I ducked under the sudden blast of flame. Unfortunately, the ground was incredibly slick right next to her though, and the sharp movement caused me to fall onto my back.

Desperately, I rolled away as as her trail of flame followed me. Getting a good distance apart, I regained my feet and ran at her again, hoping to surprise her out of any other magic she had planned. Too bad for me that lightning moved a hell of a lot faster than fire. The blast from her hands hit me full force, sending sharp lances of pain all throughout my body like earlier, only about a hundred times worse.

My muscles locked up, not responding to the commands in my brain, my body carrying itself forward on the momentum I had built up. I didn't need to see Mineth's wide eyed look to realize she hadn't expected me to keep moving forward. Unable to dodge out of the way in time, the two of us went down in a tangle of limbs.

The sudden impact gave my brain a jump start as Mineth began squirming beneath me, trying to lift my superior weight. The next few moments were a bit hazy for me as the two of us wrestled on the ground for a bit, martial arts and magic pretty much forgotten. It was an even match, with my half paralyzed body and sluggish movements, trying to restrain her hands clawing at my face. With a surprisingly strong heave, the two of us rolled over, Mineth straddling my waist. For a moment, I thought that she'd attempt another magic blast, but instead her hands went for my throat, attempting to cut off my air supply, her face a picture of rage.

Despite my lack of air, I was still somewhat grateful she hadn't decided to give me a face full of fire instead. It was my turn to struggle now as I tried to roll over again, but my body didn't seem up to the task. Reaching out with my hands, I attempted to hit a nerve in her shoulder but my hands fell short, coming to rest on...

Mineth's body froze, allowing me to take in a breath, as I felt something soft and supple in my hand.

"Aah!"

The bunny-girl's eyes widened as I unintentionally squeezed her breast. In an instant, her hands had left my neck and were working to pry my offending limb away from her chest. Thinking back on it, I could tell that I probably wasn't in the best frame of mind, having just been shocked, burned, frozen, and choked within the last thirty seconds, but I knew that as long as she was distracted with...that, she wasn't cutting off my air supply.

My second hand quickly joined the attack, slipping underneath the fabric of her bra and massaging her smooth bare skin for all I was worth.

"No! Stop that you- Ahh!" She let out another stifled squeak as I gave her a sharp pinch. Apparently she still had some remnants of the malboro toxin in her. Her hands were still tugging at mine, but her struggles were weakening while my motor control was returning. With a surge of strength, I reversed our positions again, my hands keeping up the attack.

Were she thinking clearly, she probably could have taken a shot at my face, or any other part of my body, but instead her hands continued to battle mine, trying vainly to tug them away as I ran my fingers over her thin covering. Finally, I felt her body shudder and her grip slacken completely as she violently arched into me and my own arousal. Letting out a long, hot breath, I rolled off to the side, laying next to her as she regained her senses.

We must have lain there on the cold ground for about thirty seconds in a mixture of lust and embarrassment. Finally, I decided to venture a comment. "Are you okay Mineth?"

She didn't respond immediately. Turning my head to the side, I saw the girl staring at me with wide eyes. "You know my name?" she asked in a bit of a daze.

"Yeah, you uh...told it to me while I was carrying you away from the malboro attack," I provided earnestly, hoping to spark some recognition in her memory.

A myriad of emotions crossed her face. Suspicion, surprise, disbelief, embarrassment, even the hint of a blush colored her dark cheeks for a second or two. Her mouth opened once, and then closed, no words coming out. On the second attempt, she finally got some out.

"You mean-"

"Yes."

"You and I-"

"Yes."

"And we-"

"It was the malboro's fault."

"But you-"

"He got me too."

Silence. This one seemed to stretch out even longer. Suddenly, I felt my head being lifted from the ground as Mineth grabbed the collar of my shirt, bringing her face inches away from mine, her face set in a mixture of anger and shame.

"You speak of this to no one," she said in a dark voice. "Ever."

I held up my hands in surrender. "No one is going to hear it from me."

Her eyes narrowed. "You swear?"

"On my life as a martial artist," I said without hesitation. Seriously, did people actually talk about this kind of thing with other people? Just the though of doing so made me embarrassed.

"Don't even think about it."

"Hey come on now..."

"I mean it!"

"Okay fine! I promise not to think about it."

"...you're thinking about it right now!"

"I am not!"


The short but heated battle we'd fought had cut a wide swath of destruction , consisting of upturned earth, burnt grass, and patches of ice along the ground. Fortunately, it was early enough for the park to be pretty much empty and Mineth was able to hide most of the damage by withdrawing the stone spikes back into the earth.

The magic had fatigued her though, leaving her swaying unsteadily on her feet as she tried to walk in my direction, the earlier battle catching up to her as the adrenaline faded. Before she could fall though, I was at her side, steadying her.

"Would you...like some help?" I asked hesitantly.

Taking a deep breath, she sighed, her face showing resignation. "Fine. But you never speak of this either."

"Trust me," I said, gently picking her up bridal style, "no one is even going to see us."

I had been banged up pretty badly in the fight, but I had recovered much better than Mineth had the previous night and had only gotten partial exposure to the malboro's toxin to begin with. Bottom line: no one saw anything more than a blur as I passed through the park and took to the rooftops.

"What is your name?" asked Mineth a I ran.

"Ranma Aoba," I responded.

"Ranma...do you know...where I am right now?" Her words came out haltingly, as if she feared the answer.

Well, it didn't look like I'd be going to school today so I had time.

"Yeah, that's actually a bit of a story. Do you know anything about the cat god?"

Confused, she shook her head.

"Er...do you know anything about a rabbit kingdom?"

Another head shake. The hell? Almost instinctively, my mind jumped to a different conclusion altogether.

"Mineth...do you see...anything familiar here at all?"

"No," she said resolutely. "This place is completely...alien to me."

That cinched it. Mineth wasn't from the same dimension as the cat-god, she was from an entirely different dimension altogether. That familiar cold feeling of dread was creeping up my spine again. Just how badly did that stupid cat-god screw up?


Somewhere in a super top-secret undisclosed location between dimensions...

The cat-god nodded in satisfaction as he layered yet another spell on top of the numerous ones already in place atop the ornate wooden box. Picking it up carefully, he placed the box in a large adamantium safe, shutting it and locking it before lowering it into the ground and covering it up with a tatami mat, along with an additional illusion.

From the other room, Bast poked her head in, looking on as her husband secured the box.

"Is that-"

"The contract Ranma signed? Yep."

"So...why are you-"

"Just a percaution...that's all."


A/N: Well I hope you enjoyed this super special awesome holiday chapter of Cat's Paw.

...okay so maybe it has nothing to do with the holidays, but I wish you all a merry Christmas nonetheless.