Chapter 14: Kagura is not impressed.
The room went silent as one very determined teenaged girl inched her way across the floor, holding a steaming bowl of ramen in hands that she kept from shaking only through raw force of will. It was almost over. Not, of course, that it was really a horrible trial, but it had lasted for two weeks of her four week long vacation, and she wanted to have some fun, damn it.
As she was coming close to the table the bowl was bound for, its patrons even looked hopeful for her. She'd come to this state twice before, with only one bowl to deliver, but those times she'd tried being showy, balancing that bowl on her head, or throwing it onto the table, and though she'd grown good at those tricks, they had somehow managed to fail in those particular instances, and in one case, catastrophically all over an office lady's brand new suit jacket.
"Hey Yomi, what'cha doing?" The voice was sudden, very loud, and coming from directly behind the unfortunate brown haired waitress as she jumped two feet, sending the bowl full of ramen smashing to the ground, and eliciting disappointed "Aww"s from several of the Neko-Hanten's regulars.
Turning slowly, flames seemed to flicker in Yomi's glasses as she glared down at Tomo, causing the smaller girl to back up slightly, even though she had absolutely no idea why. "Tomo..." She said, starting quietly, exhaling to calm herself down. "I'm going to kill you!"
"Yaaah, she's gone nuts!" The black haired girl yelled, turning tail and running as Yomi ripped off her waitress's apron and tossed it at the back of her head.
"Come back here so I can break your neck!" She bellowed, shaking her fist, as her 'best friend' dashed out the front door, quickly followed by the waitress.
"Wow, Yomi-san looked awful upset," Osaka said, from where she, Chiyo and Sakaki were standing next to the front door.
"That was a pretty mean thing Tomo-san did," Chiyo replied, unsure if she was justifying Yomi's rampage or just stating a fact.
"Oh," Sakaki winced. "she just caught her... and it looks like Aunt Akane taught her her pervert bashing sub-school."
"Huh?" Chiyo asked, looking up at the much taller girl curiously.
"Oh," Osaka said, having spotted the two girls down the street. "Ah didn't know arms could bend laike that."
"They can't," Sakaki informed helpfully.
"Are you all right?" Chiyo asked, as the group of girls walked down the street, on their way to her house for what could possibly be a study session, but was more likely to be a lounging around and talking about nothing session given the summer heat.
Tomo, who was leaning rather heavily on Yomi, moaned piteously. ""I think she broke my ankle," she groaned, as theatrically as she could.
"But I thought grandmother Cologne said she fixed everything?" The youngest member of the group asked, confused.
"She did," Yomi said, caught half way between her embarrassment over her outburst earlier and the fact that Tomo seemed to think she was the Japanese National Piggyback Service. Still, she didn't quite have the bad taste to tell her old school friend to walk by herself.
"Yeah, well she's nuts anyways," Tomo commented. "Keeping you working for two weeks 'cuz you kept breaking things, then giving you a thirty thousand yen paycheck." Yomi smiled for a moment, imagining being able to pay for next week's lessons and a bunch of food without having to bother her parents, when Tomo had to ruin her good mood. "So, do I get any of it?"
"No, why should you?" The brown haired girl asked, irritably.
"Well, there is the matter of danger pay..." Yomi seriously considered dropping her friend on the ground at that moment, but held off, simply rolling her eyes.
"Let's just go," She grumbled, just as the group rounded the corner to Chiyo's house, and Mr. Tadakichi ran up to them, wagging his tail happily.
"Hey wait a minute," Osaka said, frowning for a moment. "If Tomo gets danger pay for makin Yomi drop a plate, does that mean Ah get some every time ah break my chopsticks the wrong way?"
"Huh?" Chiyo asked, turning her head towards the other girl slowly with a completely mystified look on her face.
"Don't worry about it," Sakaki said, taking some time from petting Mr. Tadakichi to pat the younger girl on the shoulder.
"What? It's an important question," Osaka said, about as agitated as she ever got. "What happens ta all those chopsticks?" The others just shrugged as they walked through Chiyo's front gate and onto the property.
"I'm home," Sakaki announced, letting the bag full of books she'd brought fall onto a hall table for her to take upstairs later.
"Welcome home," Ranma called, followed immediately by "Did you buy any?"
"No," Sakaki replied, and her mother poked her head around the door frame from the living room, greeting her with a wave. "Did you get the book I asked for?"
The tall black haired girl nodded, turning to her bag and retrieving a pet care manual on pigs before handing it to the shorter redhead. "Are you sure this isn't going a little far?" She asked, raising an eyebrow.
"I've been torturing Ryoga for twenty years, and it ain't going to stop now," Ranma returned, flipping through the book and nodding in approval. She would make a comment about the Anything Goes School and psychological warfare, but Sakaki probably wouldn't be interested. "Did anything interesting happen at the library?"
The black haired girl nodded. "Chiyo-chan invited me to the beach."
"To that place Nabiki's got?" The shorter redhead asked, moving back into the living room, where her daughter could see a large collection of what looked like books on family and child law.
"That sounds like it should be fun, Sakaki-chan," Nodoka said, from where she was sitting in the corner, reading one of the pile of books rather curiously, and wondering for a moment exactly how many of the laws within the volume her husband had broken.
"So who's going?" Ranma asked, curiously. "Not just you and Chiyo, that'd be kinda boring, wouldn't it?"
Sakaki contemplated denying that a trip like that could possibly be boring, for a moment entertaining the daydream of her, in cursed form, and Chiyo, on the beach and building sand castles, before shaking her head. "Our other friends are coming too."
"Nabiki's place is way out on the opposite coast though, isn't it?" Ranma asked. "How're you gunna get there?"
Sakaki thought for a moment, before her eyes widened and she smiled. "Mom, can I borrow the car?" She asked, looking hopeful and inadvertently causing Nodoka to have a bit of a mental gear slip as she processed the absurdity of the question's asker and its receiver.
"Okay," Tomo said, looking around. "You asked Sakaki-san to come at the library, and I guess her mom coming's okay, if kinda weird, but who're they?"
Turning, Chiyo looked at the people Tomo was referring to, only to see a girl about the black haired girl's age wearing a white shirt and a pair of bicycle shorts, along with an older, well-muscled blue-black haired woman with a backpack. "Oh, that's Aunt Akane," she said, looking at the older woman oddly, though being polite enough not to say 'and I have no idea why she's here.'
Akane fortunately answered the question for her. "Sakaki needs an adult to go with her while she practices driving, and Ranma doesn't quite look the part."
"Yeah, laugh it up," the little redhead next to her grumbled, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Hi," the girl next to Akane said, smiling broadly. "I'm Kagura, I'm from class 4-1, nice to meet you!"
"Nice to meet you," Chiyo said, cheerfully, bowing to the new girl and then turning to Tomo. "There, now we know everyone."
"Right," the black haired girl said, nodding decisively.
"Should we be grateful they haven't noticed us, or offended?" Nyamo asked, from the outer edge of the group of girls.
"Offended," Yukari said, nodding assuredly. "Definitely offended. We volunteer to provide transportation for the little brats and they IGNORE US!" The last two words were yelled, causing every eye in the area to turn towards the English teacher. "How about a 'Thank you for providing transportation, Tanizaki-sensei!' how about that, huh?"
"What am I, chopped liver?" Nyamo muttered, apparently too quietly for her friend to hear.
"Oh, of course we're grateful, Yukari-sensei!" Chiyo said, quickly. "We were just excited to be going, that's all, please don't think we're rude!"
"I wouldn't be thankful yet..." Apparently this comment wasn't nearly as quiet as Nyamo's last one, as Yukari immediately turned towards her, giving her the evil eye.
"You've got to be kidding me," Ranma muttered as she looked over Yukari's car. She had thought that Akane's vehicle was one of the most dinged up she'd ever seen, but had evidently been wrong, as this one practically oozed blunt trauma from the smashed front headlight to the license plate that looked almost as though it had had a bullet put through it.
Next to it stood Yukari, who seemed to be proud of it, as she patted it on the roof affectionately, like one would do with an old horse... one who you were about to send off to the glue factory. "All right, who's coming with me? My car's much more expensive than Nyamo's, by the way!" She exclaimed, loudly.
As a few of the students, most notably Tomo, who seemed to take the battle scarred nature of the vehicle as an invitation, gathered around, Ranma grabbed Chiyo by the arm. "I don't think you should take this one," she said, gently.
"Huh?" The younger girl asked, looking over at the redhead in confusion.
"Just trust me on this, your mom'd kill me if I let you ride in this car; take my seat over with Sakaki," Ranma said, pointing over to a car that looked rather similar to Yukari's, though with significantly fewer dents.
"Okay," Chiyo said, skipping off towards the other vehicle, where Sakaki was belting herself in behind the driver's seat in what looked like a five point racing harness, next to the older blue-black haired woman, who was handing her the keys.
Several minutes later, when everyone had been buckled in and squared away, the three cars rolled out of the Mihama house's front lot, each in their own way. Sakaki's car, containing Akane, Kagura and Chiyo, rolled out rather slowly, the driver being careful not to hit a gate post on the way out, while Nyamo's, containing Tomo and Yomi left more smoothly and quickly, if one discounted the bickering in the back seat. Yukari's car, however, containing Ranma and Osaka, seemed to rocket around the yard in reverse at least once before it made it out, taking several bricks with it.
As the three cars arrived at Chiyo's beach house, the passengers of two of them had had a rather uneventful ride, though Nyamo was making internal vows never to let Yomi and Tomo sit together in her car again. The third vehicle, however, which had had its engine die and sort of coasted most of the way down the house's driveway, was home to two rather traumatized passengers.
Osaka was just staring off into space, making the occasional hiccuping noise, while Ranma sat, her eyes closed, and muttering something quietly and rapidly under her breath. Once she'd managed to pry her fingers off of the door handle and had guided Osaka out of the seat, the others, who had all gathered in front of the cars, could hear what she was saying.
"It wasn't as bad as Akane's, we didn't go off a cliff, we didn't hit a restaurant, it wasn't as bad as Akane's, oh Kami how can you make a car do that, at least we didn't climb a tr..."
Ranma was unable to articulate more of what this car ride was not, as it was at about this time that Akane, who was glowing by this point, yelled "Ranma, you idiot!" And booted the redhead in the back, hard. Several seconds later, a loud splash was heard.
"But..." Chiyo said, caught half way between horror and confusion, "The water's over a hundred and fifty meters away..."
Next to the youngest Tendo daughter, Sakaki winced, while her student gulped and actually tried to edge her way behind Tomo.
"Um, whoops?" Akane said, wincing.
"Should we go and help her?" Chiyo asked, worriedly.
"Mom should be fine," Sakaki said, as she shaded her eyes and looked towards the shore, where she saw a small red and black dot slogging its way up the beach.
Nyamo was contemplating voicing some opinion on the possibility of someone of Ranma's size flying that far from a kick, landing in one piece afterward, and then being able to walk back, but as she recalled what she'd witnessed in the past few months, she just shut her mouth and decided against it.
Just as Nyamo had made that landmark decision, Osaka's voice rang through the group. "Yukari-sensei, watch out for that pig!"
Ranma was slowly but surely relaxing, as her hand reluctantly reformed from the claw shape it had used while latched onto Yukari's door for deer life, as she lay back on the beach, enjoying the hot sun as it beat down on her back.
Nearby, Yomi was doing some warm up exercises with Akane, while Tomo yelled something about baseball bats, but she really couldn't care less, as she decided to take a page from Sakaki and Osaka's book, where the two were relaxing a short distance away.
The problem with this plan was that Ranma Kuonji was very rarely allowed to rest, as was demonstrated when Chiyo sat down next to her, holding a first aid kit. She decided, just this once, to ignore the little girl and hope that she went away.
"Um, excuse me, Kuonji-san?" Chiyo started, poking Ranma, who was quite adept at pretending to be asleep, as it was one of her father's favorite techniques. "Kuonji-san? Are you all right? I was wondering because you got kicked pretty hard, and..."
By this point, Ranma's pretense had, as it often did with Genma, turned to reality, and she was asleep, though concealing it well due to the fact that not doing so tended to get things thrown at your head, be they erasers or large rocks.
"Kuonji-san?" The little girl sounded very nervous now, and immediately stood. "There's something wrong with Kuonji-san!"
"Huh?" Tomo asked, from where she was digging a trench through to the water. Turning, she saw Chiyo standing over Ranma, and curiously moved to join her. "What's wrong?"
"She's not moving or responding," Chiyo replied. "I think maybe she got hit a little too hard."
"Oh, you think she's dead?" the black haired girl asked, curiously, crouching down and resting a hand in front of the redhead's nose.
"DEAD?" Chiyo yelped, horrified.
"Yeah," Tomo replied. "I bet she's dead."
"Wh... what do we do?" the pigtailed girl asked, fearfully. "Can we help her?"
"Nope," Tomo said, trying to hide a small grin. "We're gunna have to bury her."
"B...bury her?" Chiyo squeaked, shocked.
"Yup, now what're you waiting for, aren't you gunna help me?" The taller girl asked, irritably. "We gotta bury her so she'll be preserved."
"But I..." Chiyo started, before Tomo cut her off by kneeling down, beginning to scoop out a hole. Chiyo sighed, beginning to help.
Kagura raised her arms over her head, stretching as she walked across the beach, having enjoyed a quick swim in the ocean, as the waves certainly made it a lot more interesting than the pool in school... unless Yukari-sensei had her shark in lane 8. Shaking her head to rid herself of that incredibly stupid memory, she saw Sakaki and Osaka sitting under an umbrella near where the sand gave way to grass and headed towards them.
"Hey, what're you two doing?" She asked, taking a seat next to Sakaki.
"Talkin 'bout 'roids," Osaka replied, calmly.
"No we weren't!" Sakaki said, a lot more loudly than she normally spoke.
"Roids?" The tanned girl asked, blinking at Osaka in confusion.
"Y'know, those..." The Osakan started, before Sakaki cleared her throat loudly.
"What have you been doing, Kagura-san?" She asked, quickly, throwing Osaka a glance that was half way between apologetic and disbelieving.
"Oh, just took a swim along the beach," the swimmer said, with a shrug, not seeming to notice the rapid and rather brutal subject change Sakaki had just pulled. "Hey wait, you're supposed to be the best athlete in your class, right?"
The tall girl didn't really respond to this, just shrugging and looking away down the beach, where Tomo and Chiyo were digging a hole, for some reason, but Osaka had no such restraints. "Yeah, she's real good, way faster than Ah am at swimin, that's for sure."
"Well, we didn't have time to race during that contest a while back, how about we try now?" The tanned girl offered, smiling at Sakaki in a friendly fashion.
"Sure, that'd be cool," Osaka replied, grinning.
"I don't think she was asking you..." Sakaki said, softly, but apparently wasn't heard, as Kagura grinned widely and dashed off towards the shore line. "Could I at least get changed first?" Sakaki asked, before sighing and heading for the cars for a swimsuit that would fit her cursed form.
Ranma awoke to the muffled sound of Tomo yelling something, as Chiyo could be heard nearby, whimpering. When she tried to open her eyes, the youthened Kuonji got an eyeful of sand for her trouble, and winced, before shaking her head violently. That proved to be a mistake, as it closed the small hole that had been protecting her mouth from the sand, and she swallowed a decent amount of it before shooting up to a sitting position, and incidentally hitting Tomo in the back with a tidal wave of displaced sand.
"Ah, a zombie?" She heard Chiyo's voice yell from one side, and turned her head slowly to see the younger girl frozen in fear and looking up at her.
"Excuse me?" She asked, a little too confused to show any other emotion at the moment.
"Oh," Chiyo returned, "You're not a zombie?" She asked this because, though her mother had warned her of many supernatural weirdnesses that came with being her father's child, she'd distinctly told her that Zombies usually didn't talk. "You're not a vampire, are you?"
"Chiyo, what's goin on here?" Ranma asked, sighing in exasperation.
Just as the pigtailed girl began to launch into a complex explanation involving Tomo, curses, dead bodies and blunt force trauma, the slightly taller redhead was distracted as she heard Akane's voice from nearby. "Come on Yomi, go, go, go!" Looking over, she saw the youngest Tendo pumping her fist and looking out into the water, where several people were splashing towards the beach at a pretty good speed.
"Don't worry about it, it probably wasn't important," Ranma told Chiyo, before standing, brushing the rest of the sand off of her legs, and incidentally covering Tomo, who had just finished shaking it out of her bathing suit, as she walked over to stand next to her friend. "What's happening here?" She asked, curiously.
"Apparently, Kagura-san challenged Sakaki to a race, and it sort of grew," Akane contributed.
"She's not losing, is she?" Ranma asked, frowning worriedly.
The blue-black haired woman chuckled, pointing at one of the figures splashing to the shore, and to Ranma's dismay, the one in second place. "Kagura's beating her, looks like you deciding never to give her proper swimming lessons was a bad idea."
Ranma was about to retort to that, when one of the lines in the water denoting a swimmer abruptly disappeared. "Who was that?" She asked, worriedly.
"One of the teachers, I think," Akane replied, worried as well. "She's... not coming up."
"And no one's noticed her 'cuz they've all passed her," Ranma cursed. Akane was half way down the beach before an iron grip grabbed her by the wrist, and she turned back, annoyed, to see Ranma with her feet dug into the sand, ruts leading about five feet behind her.
"Ranma?" The Tendo woman hissed.
"You can't swim, remember?" The redhead asked, rolling her eyes.
"Oh, um..." Akane said, resisting the urge to blush in embarrassment only because someone was in trouble. "Just go!" She yelled, grabbing Ranma with both hands and throwing her out past the swimmers.
"She coulda asked," The little redhead muttered, expertly maneuvering herself in the air to slice into the water and dive down after the teacher, while all of the other racers stopped in the water, trying to figure out what the projectile that had just raced past them was.
Yukari was having a great dream. She was on a date with a handsome guy, and Nyamo was over in a corner cleaning the floors. On top of that, it was all you can eat Takoyaki, and he was picking up the tab.
"Ah, Nanashi, this as a wonderful evening," She said, scooping up another helping of octopus balls. As she did so, her stomach contracted strangely, but she dismissed it as a sign of over-eating, and she'd never listened to her body when it said it'd had too much before, and certainly wasn't going to start now.
"Anything for you, Yukari-chan," The handsome man in front of her smiled widely. "I only want to make you happy."
"Yep, that's right," The brown haired woman said, relaxing in her chair, as Nanashi leaned over the table to kiss her. "Well, I guess I've gotta give him something," She decided, leaning forward and kissing Nanashi, while bringing her arms around his shoulders.
"Oh, Nanashi," she whispered, right as Nyamo's voice cut in on her wonderful time.
"Yukari, let her go!" The gym teacher yelled, smacking her on the back of the head. Abruptly, the English teacher's dream vanished, and she could feel sand on her back, a rather sore stomach, and a small weight on her chest.
"Let her go!" Nyamo yelled again, and Yukari realized that she was still holding Nanashi. Opening her eyes, she looked into a set of startled brown ones. "Gah!" She yelped, rolling away from the weight on her chest until she could see a rather embarrassed and irritated looking Kagura laying on the sand.
"Now I know why Ranma refused to do it," the tanned girl muttered, sitting up. "Did you have to use tongue?"
At the moment, Nyamo really, really wanted to make some snide joke about Yukari, dating issues, and a similarity to Kimura, but as she saw her best friend's face turning steadily redder, she reluctantly decided that inducing a heart attack would be a bad idea, and went for the more solicitous route. "Are you all right, Yukari?"
"I... wha... what happened?" The English teacher demanded, looking around to see that the rest of the students, along with Ranma and Akane, were standing around and looking at her with mixtures of worry and other emotions on their faces that she couldn't quite figure out in some cases.
"You almost drowned," Ranma reported. "From what it looked like when I got you, your leg cramped up or something."
"Oh," Yukari groaned. "Why didn't you just let me drown?"
"Scary stories!" This exclamation came in the middle of a beach house full of people who were fully ready to spend at least a few hours laying around, until it got dark enough out to play around with the sparklers that Nyamo had brought.
"Hmm?" Yomi asked, looking over to the originator of the exclamation, Osaka, from where she was leaning against one corner of the kotatsu, reading a math book.
"It's a summer night, we should tell some scary stories," the Osakan clarified.
"I don't know, what kind of scary stories?" Tomo asked, sitting up from where she'd been sprawled across the floor. "Like ghost stories or something?"
"Hmm..." Osaka and Yomi both seemed to consider this, while Sakaki, seemingly unnoticed, began to slink off towards the stares.
"Wait a sec," Tomo interrupted the other two's consideration. "Why bother with scary stories? We can tell scandalously dirty ones instead!" Sakaki slowly made her way back to the group.
"Um, Tomo, we haven't even had any dates," Yomi said, bringing her friend back down to earth for a moment, but only for a moment, as Tomo smiled.
"Then we ask the teachers, they should know!" She exclaimed, excitedly.
"We should know what?" Nyamo asked, as Yukari lay on the couch, pretending that she was far too sick from her earlier accident to do anything else.
"Do you have any dirty stories to tell, Kurosawa-sensei?" Osaka asked, and all three girls, plus a suddenly returned and far too interested looking Sakaki, leaned towards her with expectant looks on their faces.
"Uh... me?" The gym teacher asked, looking between the curious faces. Looking around for help, she saw that Yukari was busily hiding her head under a pillow. Seeing Akane and Ranma chatting about something across the room, she considered foisting the students' attention off on the other woman, but was saved just in time, as Chiyo spoke up.
"I have a dirty story!" She said, generating several shocked gasps and one "What?" from the others.
"That's not fair, you're ten, and I'm fifteen, it's not fair I tell you!" Tomo yelled, getting into the younger girl's face.
"Don't get so excited Tomo, let's have her tell this story first." Yomi said, and Tomo reluctantly sat back to listen. Behind her, Ranma stood up and walked closer, wincing and wondering precisely how ballistic Nabiki would go when she found out about this. Thankfully, it wasn't her fault.
"Well," Chiyo started, noting that she had a captive audience, and feeling rather nervous. "It all started in a beach house, just like this one."
"Hmm?" This was Sakaki, leaning forward so that her face was right next to Tomo's, before realizing what she was doing and pulling back, blushing slightly.
"Yeah, it was just like this one," Chiyo continued, "But it was full of garbage! And in the garbage, there were a whole bunch of really... big... cockroaches!"
The room went dead silent for a moment, before Tomo yelled "What? That wasn't a dirty story!"
"Well, it kinda was," Osaka chipped in. "It was a story about dirt, so it was a dirty story."
"That's not what I..." Tomo said, slumping to the ground and sighing in defeat.
"You know, conciderin she almost died today, she's doin pretty good," Osaka opined, as she and Chiyo sat, waggling sparklers as the bored Osaken contemplated trying to reenact one of the battles from Star Wars.
"Hmm?" The younger girl asked, looking up from where her sparkler's sparks were hitting the ground for a moment, until she saw Yukari dancing around nearby with a sparkler in each hand. "Well, I guess it's good to have fun in order to try and forget about scary things," she offered.
"I dunno," Osaka replied, as the teacher pulled a roman candle off of a pile she'd gotten out of her car's trunck, not without some shocked exclamations from Ranma and Nyamo, and set it up in front of them. "Think we should dive for cover?"
"Mmhmm," Chiyo quickly agreed, stabbing her sparkler into the ground to extinguish it as Yukari produced a lighter and began to giggle manically. As the firework went off, streaking light into the air, the two students decided that they should find a new place to play with sparklers, preferably away from the crazy woman with the explosives.
Nearby, on the front step of the summer house, Ranma smirked as she lay back, watching as most of the others goofed around in the clean summer air. "Kinda reminds you of our vacations, huh?" She asked, casually.
"Right down to someone needing to be rescued," Akane quipped back.
"Hey, at least it wasn't a kidnapping," Ranma justified.
"I wasn't complaining," Akane smiled. "It brought back some memories, and a trip to the beach is never a bad time."
Ranma nodded. "Even if you can't swim," she quipped, immediately getting a rib to the side. "Okay, okay, I'm shutting up."
Nyamo: Your mystery man was named Nanashi?
Yukari: What, what's wrong with that name?
Osaka: Well, it ain't all that original, is it?
Yukari: Not original... why you...
Chiyo: Um, aren't we supposed to be telling everyone about what's going to happen next time?
Yomi: Have we ever done that?
Tomo: Well, sometimes... Anyways, that's not important! Don't forget to leave a review, and watch... I mean read next time on JonaBee fanfic!
Osaka: Hey, Ah wanted ta say that...