"Never argue with a fool, onlookers may not be able to tell the difference."
- Author unknown, attributed to Mark Twain
"I do not understand," Senbei began. "It defies everything I know."
The pint-sized demon-god sat on an upside down plastic cup, wrapped in a dry dishtowel with his feet dangling into a teacup full of hot water. You'd swear he was sick.
I'll admit it wasn't the most peculiar sight I've seen in the last seventy-two hours, but it was on the list of oddities I'd attribute to watching on Saturday morning cartoons. Then again, given events as of late, who am I to call that odd?
The poor (I laugh internally at that terrible pun) demon had returned with Mihoshi from her brief trip out to her main ship to send a report. And it looked like my prediction had come true.
Nobody escapes Mihoshi unscathed.
"Her power," Senbei continued to half-babble. "It's like she has none, but at the same time she amasses so much wealth that just being near it makes me drunk with pleasure. But then, it's like some kind of abomination..."
"Mihoshi has a bit of a thing going for her as far as luck goes," I commented idly as I assisted Noike with lunch preparations. Mihoshi of course, was nowhere in sight. She'd been banned from the kitchen during food prep times unless it was potato peeling. "I did warn you ahead of time about it-"
"You don't understand!" Senbei snapped back. His arrogance and flamboyance were completely gone. "She does not obey any kind of conservation principal. I could feel it during the pursuit. She amassed so much wealth, but yet I felt no transfer of luck between her or anything else!"
Ah yes... On their little trip, Mihoshi got a little sidetracked with some out of the way pirates doing a scouting mission. Somehow, as is par for the GP officer, she managed to not only engage and successfully arrest them. She did it in her shuttle, while they had a battleship. Senbei had been witness to the entire thing. And according to him, they retained all their original luck. They had to. In order to survive when their reactor went critical and the ship exploded... There were no fatalities.
Comparatively, the only thing that went wrong for Mihoshi was loss of the automatic targeting subroutine. When Senbei had volunteered to help Yukinojo fix it thanks to being able to fit into the compartment where the wiring was, he had bumped into one of the cabin airlocks when Mihoshi had pulled an unexpected high G turn. What ever passes for inertial compensation hadn't functioned quite as advertised. And he promptly got spaced.
Luckily, demon-gods are not really affected by explosive decompression and exposure to hard vacuum the way a human would be. Aside from a catching a cold from the ultra-sub-zero temperature of space, something I find strange because catching a cold due to temperature is a myth, Senbei was otherwise unharmed.
Apparently, the venting of atmosphere from that airlock caused a slight shift in Yukinojo's maneuver that had allowed Mihoshi to dodge a blast that would have vaporized the hull, return fire with a random potshot, and cause the pirate ship's reactor to go critical.
"You sure she wasn't just absorbing your fortune?" I asked.
"No," Senbei shook his head. "I felt the flow; sensed the probabilities... She violates the law of the conservation of happiness!"
Among about a dozen laws of physics, but I knew that already.
"You do realize that doesn't necessarily apply here right?" I began. "We're in an entirely separate universe independent of the functions of Yggdrasil and Nidhogg."
"It doesn't matter," the demon responded. "I thought about it, but wealth in these situations is predetermined through initial conditions. While it is acceptable that her happiness can inflate over time, and in this universe, to generate it by her own means, it is an amount that is predetermined over a long period of time. It should not appear so suddenly, in such quantities, out of nowhere. It was overwhelming."
"Try not to think about it too much then," I advised as I turned to fish something out of the fridge. I never realized how big it was. "Sometimes it's just not worth the effort..."
But I was curious. Senbei had gotten a better 'reading' on Mihoshi than anyone else here, perhaps even Washu, simply because he specialized in luck and probability. It was tempting. The blond GP officer was Washu's descendant (having a twenty thousand year old mortal form can do that you know), and given how things worked. She could very well be a demigod.
But then again, it depends on what version of Mihoshi you subscribe to. You have the 'dumb blond airhead' Mihoshi, who gets around on sheer luck. You have the, idiot savant version of Mihoshi... In which she doesn't realize it actively, but every move is an instinctual action of sub-conscious super-intelligence. And then there's the Chessmaster Mihoshi. In which the idiot routine is all an act. And she's laughing at us on the inside. The ultimate fool act...
Given recent events, and my own observation. I think I'd want to say 'None of the Above'. Or, more accurately, 'All of the Above'. Senbei detected her burst of sheer good luck, I've seen through her landing routine, and when push comes to shove, Mihoshi's dangerously perceptive. The 'Lovey Dovey Plan', goofy as it was, was her idea after all. And it worked...
I mean, family history considered, the only 'airheads' in her family seem to be her, and her mother. Her brother's a bit of a single-track mind, but competent, and so is her grandfather. Her grandmother, Mikami, is brilliant in terms of political ability and hobnobs with Seto. And then there was Kagato's comment that Mihoshi was a massively competent officer until something happened resulting in the collapse of her performance...
Dammit! No! Stop it! Now is NOT the time to be trying to figure out what makes Mihoshi tick.
But at the same time, it IS intriguing. I might be able to figure something out about Mihoshi that nobody else here can.
No! Mihoshi's like a living Murphy's Law backed by the conventions of gag humor! Any attempt to figure her out WILL result in failure, humiliating, painful failure. That is the only constant around her.
But then, I don't adhere to the same rule set she does... Maybe I CAN work around to figuring her out.
God DAMMIT! I can't decide. This is going to drive me nuts all day... My gut instinct is telling me to avoid her like the plague, but that part of my brain that likes to solve problems is screaming its thirst for intrigue!
When in doubt, procrastinate.
What CAN I do? Easy... Lunch first, then everything else.
Lunch was about as exciting as any other meal I had come to expect around here from my previous experiences. Though, now that people were more familiar with my face, I didn't quite feel like such the pest.
I'll spare the boring details, but once again, Washu was absent (along with Ryoko), and so was Tenchi. When exactly did he more or less turn into a farmer? Does he spend all day, EVERY DAY at that field?
Since there were three empty spots, they were easily filled by Luna, Senbei, and myself. 'Nuff said...
Curiously enough, I found myself pretty much orchestrated into a place along side princess Ayeka. It seemed innocent enough. At first...
It wasn't before long that I found that the princess had an ulterior motive in the arrangement. If it weren't so annoying, it would be amusing. But I had soon found myself being coached on the finer points of Japanese table manners and royal etiquette...
Kill me, please.
Okay, so it wasn't really all that bad. The princess only scolded me once, for failing to adhere to what in my opinion was an overly rigid posture at the table, after the first time she told me. In simple terms, I slouch. I put my elbows on the table... You know... All those absurd table manners that serve no other purpose except to make you look classy and dignified... It's a good thing Juraian Etiquette was Japanese... Because I'd really hate to try and remember my soupspoon from my teaspoon, from my regular fork, and my salad fork... Along with the locations of said utensils amidst half a dozen other utensils containing oh so many different knives, at least two bowls, and possibly three plates...
Oh, and a cup, or two, or three.
I hate formal meals. Can you guess why?
Still, once Ayeka scolded me, I started listening right quick. I'm on her good side; I plan to STAY on her good side. Plus I don't like getting yelled at... It pisses me off, which makes me get confrontational. And in a pissing contest between a princess who can sink an aircraft carrier and myself... Rule One!
On the plus side, when I did something right, it was nice to hear her coo praise my way. Though, you had to kind of bury the hidden connotations comparing me to a Neanderthal in terms of how civilized I was. Good thing I don't care. Though if you ask me, if Ryoko were actually at the table at the moment, this would have escalated into a firefight nigh instantly. Even with Noike present.
For all the admitably enjoyable attention though, I couldn't help but wonder why exactly Ayeka had suddenly taken such interest in my etiquette. Especially with the goofball grin coming from Sasami, parked right next to Luna, who seemed equally curious to the whole thing.
It was Noike who finally voiced my unspoken question after Ayeka had pretty much handicapped my ability to move, with a posture correction that left me trying to avoid having my hamstrings lock up. (Seiza position... God, my knees can't take this!)
"Ayeka," she began. "Why are you doing that? Can't you see he's uncomfortable?"
Yes, very much so. I can't even sit all the way on my heals. Do something house boss!
"Because." The princess replied. "If this whole business about teleporting into my bed is going to become a regular thing, I am going to make sure that he's well trained and the perfect gentleman."
What am I, a lap dog all of a sudden?
"Why would you want him so well trained?" Luna asked.
"Because when rumor starts getting around- AND IT WILL." Ayeka shot a glare at Mihoshi, who didn't seem to notice. "I don't want those rumors to say I'm sleeping with some uneducated barbarian. At the very least, if my image is going to suffer that kind of damage, I might as well make sure it looks like I have STANDARDS."
Oh dear... I'm being groomed.
"Does that not seem like a reasonable solution?" she asked. "After all, your future may well depend on that image."
And then Ayeka turned the female charm up to eleven with a smile that could have melted Old Man Winter's heart. Even I was not immune to siren song that told me to nod my head in agreement when she was making that face.
She's going to make an ornament out of me. No worse, the analogue would be a prize horse. I'm going to be conditioned into being the perfect specimen, and paraded around like a Budweiser Clydesdale so that the princess may save face a little should the galactic paparazzi catch on. Brilliant plan! It's right up there with my 'Operation: Make Urd cry Mommy!' in terms of sheer absurdity. Why me?
"Well," Luna began. "I suppose that makes sense. Plus it'll be good for him. A little bit of extra class never hurt anyone."
Don't encourage her Luna! The last thing I need is for Ayeka to-
My leg just cramped up.
"Ergh..." I gritted my teeth, starting to tip over, but managing to hold myself upright with the table. It was all I could do not to yelp as my calf did its best impression of a pretzel
"I think he's had enough," Noike shook her head. As she did that, I managed to pull myself away from the table and haul myself to a standing position.
"Walk it off," I gasped in English as I limped around in circles. "Walk it off..."
"Come on," the princess shook her head. "That was barely two minutes."
"He'll have to work on his Endurance," Luna commented conspiratorially as I tried to relax my twitching leg.
"Maybe," Ayeka replied as flopped down on the floor to massage the offending muscle. "Are you okay?"
I was breathing hard, obviously in pain at this point, my foot visibly jumping as my calf continued to twitch.
"I'll be fine in a minute," I managed to gasp out. "Though if we could avoid the Seiza from now on, my legs will thank you tremendously."
"That position does cut off circulation," Noike commented idly from her spot. "That can exaggerate chronic cramping in some people. Maybe it would be best to avoid that."
The princess seemed to mull on that for a second before nodding in agreement. Thank you god! I don't know if I could survive that for very long...
"Anyway," Ayeka continued, motioning for me to return to the table. "Get over here and finish eating. After that, you are to go take a bath. It's been a day since you came back, and I will not have you working up a smell in this house."
I had to stop and stare at the princess non-plussed for a second. There's only so far I could be pushed around. And having just worked off a rather painful cramp, I wasn't so complacent to be ordered around as I had been minutes before.
"Okay," I began just short of scathing. "I'm not four years old... So let's not be absurd."
And I left it at that. The princess did back off a little, but she still drilled me in the use of chopsticks. As I mentioned, I'm not much good with them. I can use them but that's for the occasional Chinese takeout.
Of course, as it would hold, Ayeka, just like Luna, was right.
It was the princess' turn to take Tenchi his lunch out in the field today, which helped save me SOME face. But face it, when you're right, you're right. And Ayeka, even if she had been starting to treat me like a child (I'm older than her if you ignore her seven hundred years in stasis) was still right.
I needed a bath.
So guess what I found myself doing?
It wasn't that simple though. My first, and biggest worry was of course, making doubly sure that I was in no way going to be the butt end of a perverted joke. Given that Mihoshi was here, there was no way to be sure, but I didn't feel like taking any chances.
Upon entering that floating onsen bathhouse, which involved teleportation. (I have a new way to describe nausea now.) I checked, double-checked, and triple checked for any occupants. Not only that, but I made sure to tie an empty soda can I'd fished from the trash to the door. That way, if anyone did enter, I had enough warning that I could inform the trespasser that it was occupied.
Once I was certain the perimeter was secure, there was just the suit to deal with.
According to the manual, it's designed to be impossible to remove by force, as the nerve connections would make it feel like I was being skinned alive. That wouldn't be pleasant. However, it WAS designed to be removed. You just had to know how.
The instructions were simple enough. First, shut strength enhancement off. I'd had it running on two times my normal strength all morning and I'd almost forgotten it was on. Returning to normal strength was interesting. Everything suddenly felt heavy, like I was slogging through water.
The next instruction was to terminate the nerve connections. This could be done by pressing the button in the eleven-O-clock position marked 'safe'. (A note in the instructions pointed out that the button was labeled this way so that nobody would realize that it was what allowed the suit to be removed.)
Upon pressing the button, I was greeted by a brief jolt, this one more like a flash of heat or being cut with a knife. Unsettling, but it was only momentary, and replaced by numbness. According to the manual, a sensation like this would be normal, and feeling would return in a few minutes.
Next, reach to the back of the neck, and pull at the overlapping flap is if removing Velcro. Use the suit's form fitting button if there's any problems.
Almost immediately, the suit started to come loose.
Once it did, it was trivial to slip out of the material.
Oh the funk... With no place to go, the stink I had already been building up stayed right where it started.
Cleaning instructions on that thing were simple: Soak it in soapy water, and air dry.
This I did. And then I took care of my own hygiene. The nice thing about the floating onsen was that Ryoko designed it. Ryoko, having turned from feared interstellar pirate into a lazy bum, had one very clear redeeming trait.
She knew what she liked. And she knew how to get it.
Hot running water was unlimited, the bath was large, and the place was private. When in doubt, ask the lazy person. You'd be surprised what they know that others don't.
Thinking about it, this was the first real alone time I had gotten to relax. I figure a good hour just soaking would help make everything I've been through worth it. No psychotic girls, no half-pint demon gods, no transforming talking cats... Just me, sore muscles, and hot water.
Maybe this will help my arm, I can't even crossover without it pulling now.
Unfortunately, as I was kind of half expecting, this scenario would be short lived. I didn't know when, or how, but I knew I'd be disturbed despite my precautions. At the very least, I was glad it waited until I was more or less finished and relaxed.
The sound of somebody talking not ten feet away had made me instinctively it up and reach for a towel. I knew this would happen! I knew it. I knew it... I took too long, now I'm going to get caught in a gag I can't avoid!
That's when the face suddenly dropped down in front of me.
"Don't mind me!" she stated with a smirk. "I just came to see the specimen that had Washu-Nee-Sama all worked up this time."
"Tokimi?" I blinked.
There was no mistaking the absurdly cute way in which the two-foot-nothing physical manifestation of the youngest Choushin beamed at my comment.
"Oh! Nee-Sama was right... You DO know who we are."
With that, she floated back and righted herself, crossing her arms.
"The young traveler who defies reality, sees our reality as a world of fiction, but yet has no power himself. Fascinating." She continued.
I tried to relax, but I wasn't exactly decent. And here was 'Mini' Tokimi trying to hold a conversation with me as if it were nothing at all to bust in on someone taking a bath.
"Why are you here?" I snapped defensively.
"I'm here to investigate you," she smirked, tilting her head to the side disarmingly.
"No," I continued. "Why are you-" I motioned around me. "HERE? Of all the times to come gawk at the side-show act, you decided to pick when I was taking a bath."
"Oh that's easy silly," Tokimi replied, waving her hand. "This was the first time you've been alone long enough for me to do so. I didn't feel like dealing with the others, they have a bad attitude."
So she intentionally wanted to catch me alone. Convenient...
"Plus," Tokimi held up a finger with a wink. "I've been studying the behavior of human males. It's far easier to keep you in one place when you're concerned about your modesty."
If ever anything could confirm that Tokimi was indeed the sister of Washu, it was that single, twistedly perverse logic she had presented me with. She had intentionally cornered me in the bath BECAUSE she knew I wouldn't be so inclined to jump and bolt.
"Exactly!" Tokimi nodded.
"Tell me," the mini-goddess continued. "What's your take on all this?"
"All what?" I asked.
"This..." Tokimi waved around. "Your reality hopping. Visiting worlds of what previously to you had been mere entertainment. Interacting with people who were simply figments of your imagination. Your reactions are fascinating to watch. As I've never thought to try mixing realities like that before."
"My take?" I asked.
Tokimi bobbed her head in a nod that was too cute for words to convey.
"In a word," I began, then sighed. "Tiring."
"Oh?" the half-pint manifestation tilted her head. "How's so?"
"Well," I began. "Sleep deprivation to the point of passing out makes a good start. Then there's the terror, the physical abuse my body's been taking. The awkwardness of most of the situations, half a dozen hare-brained gambles just to keep from getting killed violently... Do you remember what happened with Z?"
Tokimi blinked. "That timeline has been nullified. Amazing your world's fiction would have it."
"Still," I continued. "Do understand what was wrong with him?"
"He was unstable," Tokimi commented, looking a bit down trodden. "By human standards, he might have classified as insane. It was a pity the way everything turned out."
"Oh he was sane," I chuckled. "In fact, I think I know exactly what was going through his mind all the way up until he tried to off Tenchi."
"Oh?" Tokimi suddenly perked up and gave me her full attention. "Your fiction was showing what was going through his mind?"
"No," I shook my head. "I know what was going through his mind because it's the same damn thing that's going through mine right now."
Tokimi floated back confused.
"That when I find out who or what is playing puppet-master with my life, damn the consequences... I'm going to punch it in the face."
"What purpose would that serve you?" Tokimi asked. "You could not physically hurt something capable of transporting you across higher dimensionality like that. Just like Z could never hope to cause me harm in such a manner."
Obviously Tokimi still doesn't grasp how completely illogical humans can be when worked up. For a nigh omnipotent being, she's sure naive. But then again, out of the three, she had next to no interaction with 'mortals' beyond appearing, giving orders, and fading away. Phenomenal cosmic powers, and hyper-genius intellect with the emotional maturity and understanding of a five-year-old. It's a far cry from the likes of Hild.
"Did it ever occur to you, even as you restored Z's timeline, that killing Tenchi was your punch in the face?" I asked.
"What do you mean?" Tokimi asked. It was obvious I had a perspective she'd never considered.
"Okay," I leaned against the side of the bath, raising out of the water a bit as not to overheat. "Look at it this way. Z was upset at losing his family over your little experiment."
"I couldn't restore everything without stripping his abilities," Tokimi commented. "And he was too valuable to revert to his original state."
"Invenerial," I cut her off. "As far as he was concerned. You fucked up his life, he was going to return the favor..."
"But he couldn't harm me," Tokimi admonished. "So such thoughts are illogical."
"Humans don't act logically," I replied. "We'll go down in flames if only to give one last 'FUCK YOU' to the universe. Z knew he couldn't hurt you physically, but he COULD hit you where it counts. He had the power, and the drive, to throw a wrench into the entire Choushin experiment. His ultimatum to you during the fight made it clear. Either you put him down yourself, or he kills Tenchi. One way or another, no matter what happened to Z, Kobayashi-Maru. He may not win, but you still lose."
Me and my geek phrases...
"Insightful," Tokimi seemed to gaze through me for a minute while she thought about it. "He ceased to care for his own existence but was determined to 'punch me in the face' as you put it."
Then she perked up again.
"That is a most interesting reaction!" Tokimi chirped. "It's like the jealousy I was observing a few months ago. You are indeed a most interesting specimen. Tell me, what then was the point of the counter-actor in your eyes?"
"Insurance," I shrugged. "And right up until he hit Tenchi, his plan was perfect. It's just that Tenchi didn't up and die like he was 'supposed' to."
"Hmmm..." the pint-sized goddess mulled some more. Once again, radiating cuteness. You know, I'm starting to think that the Great Old Ones, Eldrich Abominations, and Things that Shall Not Be Named are not some inhuman physical manifestation of rip and tear and tentacles and whatnot... But that they're so cute that the human mind just can't handle contemplating something that powerful to be so pleasant to look at. That the universe is a place filled, not with cosmic horrors, but sickening cuteness so disgustingly sugar-coated that we covered it up with blood and guts and tentacles just to keep from having epileptic seizures.
"So," Tokimi continued after a moment. "You're telling me that you're like Z right now?"
"Not quite," I shook my head. "I'll settle for getting a nice violent punch in."
"But it won't be effective," Tokimi continued. "Punching whatever's doing this won't do anything to it."
"Oh, but it will make me feel SO MUCH BETTER," I all but cackled, then stopped and looked at Tokimi seriously.
"Just confirm something for me," I stated. "You're NOT responsible for any of this mess, am I right?"
Tokimi shook her head.
"No," she replied. "I only know of this situation because Nee-Sama asked me to help find your position."
"Good," I nodded curtly. "I didn't want to punch something so cute anyway."
"It's not like you'd get far before she punched right back," Washu's voice suddenly piped in.
"GOD DAMMIT!" I snapped, twirling around to duck down into the water again. "Does anyone have any respect for modesty or privacy around here?"
Washu smirked back from a position next to the door. My 'alarm' dismantled in her hand.
"Nothing I haven't seen already," she responded offhand. "Who do you think changed you out of your bloody clothes yesterday?"
"Nope, none at all." Tokimi's deceptively cute voice chirped behind me. "Hello Nee-Sama."
"Hey Tokimi," Washu nodded to her sister. "Come to check him out yourself I see. Did you find anything odd about him?"
"Nothing unusual about him at all," Tokimi shrugged. "Aside from his interlinking astral pattern, he's no more unusual than a stone. Which is interesting actually, because most humans in this world have more potential than that for the temporal mass given."
"The temporal mass is a byproduct of his knowledge," Washu pointed out. "With as much knowledge about key events as he has combined with our interest in him, it's not surprising he has so much temporal mass. I've also noticed that he's uncharacteristically perceptive, which only makes it higher."
"That could be a characteristic of his home universe," Tokimi commented. "Metaphysical balance between worlds usually favors mental ability where physical ability is weaker. If all his ability is mental, that would explain the unusually low potential."
"I've finished pulling the information collected on his world if you want to go investigate it," Washu replied. "Maybe getting some in-depth information on the properties of his world as a whole may shed some light on the subject."
"That sounds like fun!" Tokimi chirped. "I might find a few surprises while I'm there!"
"What exactly are you two going on about?" I asked.
"I was thinking about that whole 'conventions' thing you had explained to Luna," Washu replied. "She told me about it along with how you described worlds as 'gritty'. I believe you remember I said something about that this morning."
"So I was thinking about it," she continued. "And I realized that you were perceiving something that occurs beyond the physical level. Like the slapstick comedy routine. And I thought about how you reacted when I fixed Luna's transformation abilities, and the way you reacted hit me as unusual. It got me curious, so I came to find you and ask."
Then she looked me squarely in the eyes. I'd never seen Washu act quite like that.
"Were you perceiving one of those... Conventions?"
"Perverted comedy gag," I nodded. "Standard joke fare. Place two people in a sexual situation that should not have occurred, let exaggerated reactions take place, and laugh at the fireworks."
"And you reacted differently... Why?" Washu asked.
"Over reaction is the punchline," I commented. "If you don't over react, the joke falls flat."
"But it was still funny," Washu pointed out. "At least, I thought it was funny at the time."
"Luna still overreacted," I pointed out. "I merely avoided being the butt of the joke."
"Strange," Washu turned to Tokimi. "Have you ever noticed such patterns or... Conventions?"
"Never," the pint-sized manifestation shook her head. "Reviewing the previous event... The concept is almost completely at the quantum uncertainty level of causality. Without it being pointed out, I wouldn't even have noticed it occurring..."
Then Tokimi stopped, and started to laugh uncontrollably.
"What?" Washu asked. "What's so funny?"
"I'm tracing some of the causality going on in this room," Tokimi replied. "And there's a fifty-fifty chance that you'll have one of those events in approximately sixty seconds."
"What do you mean?" Washu asked. "I want to record this!"
"Oh, I don't want to spoil the joke," Tokimi grinned. "I bet he'll figure it out though... I'll see you later!"
And with a pop, Tokimi was gone.
"I wonder what she saw," Washu pondered aloud.
"Probably a failure of my anti-intrusion precautions," I sighed. Then looked at Washu. She was still holding my intruder alarm. "Like someone walking in on me because you went and disabled it..."
"This thing?" Washu looked at the soda can she was holding. "I thought it was trash."
"Then the gag's already in motion," I shook my head.
"What makes you so sure?" Washu asked.
"Because if you look at it like you're cutting scenes for animation," I replied. "In order to make it funny, you have to include the setup. The setup occurred when I set that up as an alarm."
"If you realize it's coming," Washu pointed out. "You should be able to avoid it."
"Too late," I shook my head. "Any attempt to circumvent it will result in twice the hilarity when the punchline hits."
"So you're just going to sit there and do nothing?" Washu asked.
"Murphy's law states that anything I can do will make it worse," I chided. "Including nothing."
"That's unusually pessimistic of you," Washu chided.
Maybe, but I had my suspicions. By mere process of elimination, I was almost certain there was nothing left here but to wait for it and then deal with damage control.
"Ryoko still in the lab?" I asked seemingly off hand.
"Yes," Washu nodded.
"Ryo-Ohki, Senbei, Luna."
"TV, TV, sleeping."
"Mihoshi's coming," I placed my hand on my face.
"You're kidding!" Washu blinked in shock, then turned towards the entrance. "Well, I know just how to take care of it! We'll turn the joke inside out and-"
"OVERREACTION," I snapped, seeing everything already falling into place. Any attempt to alter the situation makes it worse...
"Right!" Washu realized. "Over reaction is the pu-"
My eyes tracked her foot as she tried to stop. Oh, here it comes... Said foot landed square on a bar of soap that had slid away from my spot previously on its own slime trail.
Washu didn't go down right there, but instead slipped up and stumbled backward, tripping over a wash bucket I had left next to the water. Instinctively, she spun about intending to catch herself before she hit the ground. Trouble was that beyond the bucket, it was hot water, and I.
God I hate being right.
The water saved me from having the wind knocked out of my lungs, but Washu still landed square on top of me. She came up sputtering after a moment giving me a quick look of shock.
"Compromising position," I sighed. "Followed by,"
"Oh my..." Washu's gaze snapped to Mihoshi, standing there in a pink towel looking quite shocked.
"Hasty conclusion," I continued. "Whatever you do. Don't respond with-"
"It's not what it looks like," Washu snapped in a hasty attempt at authority.
"That..." I sighed.
Catching up with my commentary, Washu turned and gave me a shocked look as I stared right back into her mint-green eyes.
"Congratulations," I commented in a straight non-plussed fashion, only barely hiding my sarcasm. "You just experienced THE most classic perverted gag of all time. The 'Compromising Position Misunderstanding' Want a cookie?"
"Are you two going to be long?" Mihoshi asked. Dammit, even her response to a joke was a joke in itself.