Chapter 10: A Date That Will Live In Infamy.
"I'm gunna do it this time," Kyoko Tokiwa decided, as she and Shinji Kazama sat, waiting for biology class to begin.
"It's not a good idea," the bespectacled boy replied. "Chidori-san went through a lot, and..."
"And I'm her best friend," Kyoko interrupted. "I want to know what happened. I mean, it's so obvious that she lied about being passed out the whole time that it isn't even funny."
"I thought she was pretty convincing," Shinji muttered, before having one of Kyoko's fingers pressed into his nose, causing his eyes to cross.
"Aha, so you noticed it, too. There's something going on," she declared. "Now I'm going to ask. Heck, she's barely talked to me in the last few days, so I've at least got to bug her about that."
"Yeah, but..." Shinji started, but was ignored as the light brown haired girl leapt out of her seat and started over for where Kaname and Sousuke sat near the window. He sighed. He was just as sure as the girl was that something was going on, especially since Sousuke had disappeared shortly after Kaname first went missing on the flight, and a kinda scary looking woman had shown up demanding to know where he was shortly after.
It had seemed like the kind of thing you don't ask questions about, something he was quite familiar with given his father's occupation, but Kyoko didn't get the hint, it seemed, as she pulled a small digital camera from a pocket in her shirt and clicked a shot of Kaname's face with it.
"Ah, the elusive Chidori, a rather rare sight around here, at least to me," she said in a faux-Australian voice. "Beautiful plumage, though."
"Huh?" Kaname asked, looking up at the shorter girl with an expression as blank as Sousuke's usual. "You need something?"
Kyoko thought for a moment of what to say, but decided to avoid rebuking the teal-haired girl for avoiding her, and go right for the interesting part. "So, what really happened back there?" she asked, leaning forward eagerly.
"Math class?" Kaname asked, confused. "Shouldn't you have taken notes?"
"Not that!" Kyoko replied, "You know what I mean!"
"The meeting this morning?" Kaname tried again. "The Student Council President asked if I would be willing to act as the VP after the first guy got sick or something."
"Oh, really?" the blonde asked, smiling. "That's great to hea... I mean, that's not what I wanted to know about!"
Nearby, Shinji just raised one hand to rub at his forehead, as Sousuke watched the two somewhat curiously. "Then what do you want to know, Kyoko?" the Chidori girl finally asked, exasperated.
"What in the world happened to you on..." the shorter girl began, before the classroom door slid open, and the teacher entered with a book under his arm. "Oh... I'll ask you later," she grumbled, hurrying back to her seat.
Kaname just looked to Sousuke, wondering if he knew what was going on, only to get a look of incomprehension in return, which, for once, she agreed with.
"So, how was it?" Kurz asked, as he reclined in the surveillance monitor chair, looking over one shoulder to give Mao a suggestive grin.
"Chew on your own rifle, Weber," she replied, heading for the kitchen to get a can of beer. "How's the Angel?"
"She, Sousuke, and a couple friends Just arrived a few minutes ago, hence why I'm not following her around in my A.S," the blond replied. "Oh, I also realized where I recognize her mother from. Remember that action movie we rented last week?"
"Yeah, that's right in her file," Mao responded, taking a sip of her beer. "I thought you'd know that, you pull the file all the time."
"Yeah, but I don't usually read it," Kurz responded, only realizing the import of what he'd said when his commanding officer's boot came into contact with the back of his head.
"Creep," she muttered, irritably.
"I love you too," the sniper responded, in a rather muffled voice.
Ranma grunted irritably as the front door to his and Sousuke's apartment opened, and he fell back into his wheelchair. Slowly entering, he heard a soft thumping sound from deeper into the apartment, and his eyes narrowed. "Sousuke?" he asked, his Chi senses extending, as he reached for the light switch. There was another, much heavier thump, which he placed as coming from the door to his bedroom, before he heard a female yelp of surprise.
"Um, not Sousuke," a woman's voice responded, and Ranma's eyebrows rose as he recognized it.
"Akane?" he asked. "What are you doing in here?"
"Um, that's not important right now, a little help here?" Akane's voice came back, and Ranma wheeled into the room to see the rather spooked woman holding a grenade, its pin hanging from the limp fingers of her other hand.
"How did you..." Ranma started, before shaking his head and stretching out a hand to take first the pin, and then the grenade. Slipping it in quickly, he tossed the now safe device into an open drawer.
"It was rigged to pull if someone opened the underwear drawer in the dresser," Akane grumbled. "Why in the world would you do something like that?"
"Standard operating procedure," Ranma responded. "Besides, I'm sure if you could have when the old freak was running around, you would have."
"With a live grenade?" Akane asked, in disbelief.
"It was just a flash-bang," Ranma dismissed, before blinking. "And why the heck were you goin' through my underwear drawer?"
"It's, erm," Akane said, suddenly very embarrassed. Earlier, she had just come in to speak to the pigtailed man, rather surprised to see that he wasn't at home after she'd heard that he got out of the hospital. Waiting around had proven to get boring after the first hour, and she was Nabiki's sister, after all.
"Just... never mind," Ranma shook his head. "Why're you here, if it's not to swipe my panties. It'd better not be, by the way."
"Gurk..." Akane said, her face seeming to try turning both red and green at once. She was about to respond with her old standby accusation of perversion, when she bit it back. Ranma had the right to be annoyed, and she'd come here specifically to avoid that sort of interaction. After getting her emotions under control, she responded. "I wanted to apologize for how I reacted at the hospital," she started. "I was worried about Kaname, and I guess I just said the first thing to come to mind."
"No problem," Ranma said, somewhat surprised. "Look, if we're going to talk about this anymore, let's do it in the living room, okay?"
"Yeah, right," Akane responded, quickly kicking closed the underwear drawer and grasping the handles of her former fiance's chair. "So..." she said, uncertainly. "You're really hurt enough to need one of these things?"
"Nothin' I haven't had happen before," the pigtailed man responded with a shrug. "Just a whole lot of it at once."
The former youngest Tendo couldn't help but laugh at that diagnosis. "Just as stubborn as always, huh?"
Ranma shrugged. "It's really all right, I should be back up in a couple weeks at worst."
"How often does this happen?" Akane asked, leaving Ranma's chair in the middle of the living room and falling back onto the couch.
He thought for a second, then reconsidered actually answering the question. Telling Akane might mean that it would get back to Nabiki, and from there to Kasumi. He really didn't need a frantically worried call from the queen of the Musk... again. "Classified," he finally decided to say, causing Akane's eye to twitch.
"Yeah, well," she stomped down her irritation again. She'd gotten quite a lot of experience hearing that word, given her husband's position. "Thanks for helping save Kaname. Just... try not to make it a habit, okay?"
Ranma smirked. "Not sure, she is your daughter, ya know." Akane just punched him in the shoulder, though not terribly hard.
"I wasn't that bad, and you know it," she responded, crossing her arms under her chest.
"Mousse, Herb, Saffron, those Seven Lucky Gods guys, prince Toma, Taro... Ow!" He'd been punched in the shoulder again, and this time it kind of stung.
"I get it," the blue-black haired woman huffed, before turning for the door. "I try to apologize, and get this?" she said, though she turned and smiled at Ranma before opening the door. He returned it.
When Ranma's apartment door closed behind her, Akane fell back against it and let out an explosive sigh. That had been, strangely, both considerably more and less awkward than she had feared it would be, and she was glad to see that Ranma had gotten on with his life in some way or another, though a private mercenary corporation wasn't exactly what she'd thought he would go into. Still, he wasn't nearly as bad off as he'd been when she'd last seen him, almost acting like he had during their high school days.
Thinking rather pleasantly of this, she pulled open the door to Kaname's apartment and entered, seeing the back of her daughter's head in the living room. Walking in past the alcove where the front door and shoe rack were, she noted that Sousuke was sitting next to her, and across from them were two other teens about Kaname's age, one of whom was nodding with understanding, while the other gaped as though someone had just proven the world was Klein bottle shaped.
As she watched, Kaname's face split into an evil grin, and she walked over to the surprised girl, withdrew a small digital camera from a pocket somewhere on her uniform, and clicked a picture.
"Huh?" the surprised girl said, the camera's beep seeming to snap her slightly out of it. "I... is all that stuff you said true?"
"Affirmative," Sousuke responded, before Kaname could. "Including the consequences mentioned for security failure."
"I'm not sure I want to know what's going on here," Akane observed levelly, as she looked between her daughter and her friends. Deciding that she would let the younger girl handle whatever was going on, she headed for the bedroom to pack her things and leave them to talk. Her agent had been on the phone this morning yelling various threats disguised as requests, and she thought that this was just about as far as she could push him.
Kaname quickly followed her mother out of the room, and Kyoko looked to Sousuke. "So, can I get some water and see?" she asked, hopefully.
"Negative," Sousuke responded flatly, causing a disappointed 'aww' from the bespectacled girl.
Kaname yawned expansively as she waited for Sousuke to open his apartment door, reading a few notes she'd written for the test the class was having today while she did so. She'd meant to study it the night before, however she and Sousuke had spent a decent portion of it explaining things to Kyoko and Shinji, and then she had helped her mother to pack up for her flight to New York. Hearing the door in front of her open, she looked up to see Sora standing there.
"Wow, you're kind of late," the teal haired girl observed, confused.
"Someone had disturbed several of the objects in my room," Sora reported. "I was attempting to determine who when Sergeant Ranma told me not to worry about it, and that the security breach had been dealt with."
"Okay..." Kaname said, wondering if that meant there was a dead body at the bottom of a dumpster somewhere, before chiding herself for thinking that her uncle would ever do something like that. "So, are you ready for the test today?"
The redhead nodded, and the two headed for the elevator in silence. It was about half way through their train ride when she finally spoke. "I was wondering, what is your experience with grandparents?"
"Huh?" Kaname asked, surprised.
"After assisting with my Japanese studies last night, Sergeant Ranma asked me if I would be willing to meet mine," the military minded girl explained. "He seemed... nervous about it."
Kaname nodded. "I'm not sure why he would be," she admitted as both girls stepped off the train into the station. "The worst thing that happened last time I met my grandfather was that he soaked my favorite blouse by crying on it."
"He must have been very upset," Sora said, looking confused.
Kaname shook her head. "I'd gotten a really high average that year."
Sora was about to ask what that had to do with a massive crying binge, when a boy in their school's uniform walked up to them. "Hey Chidori-san, have you considered what I asked you yesterday?"
"Asked about what?" Kaname responded, unsure.
"Ah, come on, you know you want me to be your main squeeze," the boy said, stretching out one hand.
Kaname blinked, wondering precisely who talked like that anymore, before shaking her head. "I'm sorry, but your application has been rejected," she said, trying to match his corniness. She failed.
"Come on babe, gimme a chance," the boy whined. Kaname just snorted and walked off. The boy was about to open his mouth again, when Sora's hand grasped his arm.
"I believe she said no," the redhead said, levelly.
"Hey, well, you're pretty hot too, I didn't mean to offend you by ignoring you, but I'm sure Chidori-san'll reconsider when she realizes how cool I am!"
"I... highly doubt it," Sora muttered, both because she knew Kaname, and because she had a strange urge to punch the man before her in the face. Turning, she headed after Kaname, barely noticing the yells of the man she left behind as he asked if she'd be interested in going out with him instead.
"I'm gunna die," Ino Hibiki muttered to herself as she trudged along, dragging a large boulder behind her, her mother leading the way. "I'm gunna die, and then the pigs are gunna eat me with their slop."
"Ino-chan, stop complaining. You were the one who chose this option," Akari gently rebuked, as she and her daughter slowly made their way down the path where her husband was setting up the training area.
"Yeah, well, I didn't know I'd be doing this..." the younger girl started, before yelping, spinning around and grabbing the boulder as they hit a down-slope and it tried to crush her. "Why am I dragging all of these rocks, anyways?"
Akari sighed. "You'll see dear," she said, both rather relieved that her daughter was being trained in an ability that she'd seen deflect small caliber bullets, and worried, as she knew how much pain the technique caused. After all, she'd partaken in it herself a few years back.
"I hope Tessa appreciates how hard this is," the younger Hibiki grunted, as she began slowly backing down the hill, letting the boulder roll slightly but being careful not to let it pick up too much momentum. That was, of course, until her left foot slipped into a hole on the path made by a tree root, and she fell backwards. Her mother leapt out of the way as the rock continued rolling down the hill, leaving Ino much more bruised than she had been to start with and looking up at the tree tops. "Owie..." the girl observed, before passing out.
Kyoko was creeped out quite a bit, as she observed Sora, who was kneeling in front of one of the hallway walls, carefully studying several lines of text that were written there. Part of her discomfort was due to what she'd learned about Sora and her brother the night before, but a considerably larger part was due to the quickly darkening look on the shorter girl's face.
"I see," the redhead nodded, before standing and starting as quickly as she could down the hall.
"Where are you going?" Kyoko asked, running up alongside the mercenary. Sora didn't say anything, just turning a corner and continuing on her way, and the blonde wondered if perhaps she had taken some of the insults that had been directed at her personally. If so, the camera wielding girl wasn't sure she'd be able to stop her from killing the writer, or at least hurting them really badly.
Turning away from Sora, she quickly began running down the hall towards the classroom she'd been in last period, yelling for Kaname.
The student council president leaned back casually in his chair, sipping at a cup of tea. He was hardly ruffled when the door to the council room burst open, and a red haired girl walked brusquely in. "Hello, Miss Sagara," he said, casually. The girl nodded back to him before walking over to the vice-president's desk and opening one of the bottom drawers, extracting a boy's school uniform.
As she walked past him in the other direction, the president casually handed the mercenary his still warm tea cup. "I'll want that back when you're done with it," he said, conversationally, and Sora's eyes widened slightly.
The president nodded, before unfolding a fan. On it was written "Don't ask."
Sora followed the advice.
"Why would you wish to weaken the character of Chidori-san?" Kaname heard, as she charged for the men's washroom, where she'd heard Sousuke was supposed to be.
"What are you talking abaargh!" The voice of Shirai, the boy she'd been talking to earlier in the morning, came through loud and clear, rising to a very high yelp at the end. "You're insane!" he continued, after a few seconds of breathing. "You didn't even mention your sister, either."
"My sister has nothing to do with this," Sousuke responded, before there was a loud thudding sound from behind the men's room door, and Shirai yelped again.
Sighing in exasperation, Kaname threw open the door, not even having to enter the room as she saw Sousuke standing in front of a stall door, Shirai's arm clamped in his left hand. "Tell me why you did it," the brown haired boy growled dangerously, before he slammed the door on the other's arm, and the Chidori girl winced.
"Sousuke! What the hell are you doing?" she barked, horrified and confused.
"Kaname, I am just interrogating Shirai-san," Sousuke responded, casually.
"Somebody help me?" the taller boy whimpered, as Kaname marched into the bathroom, not even realizing she was in the boys' room, and smacking the mercenary on the side of the head.
"Let him go! He may be a jerk, but you don't have to do this to him."
"But Kaname, he was distributing dangerous propaganda. Often, a war can be won or lost on the opinion of the people of a region, rather than your tactical..." Sousuke started.
"We aren't at war!" the teal haired girl yelled.
"Oh," Sousuke shook his head. "Certainly. I apologize."
Shirai got up, brushing himself off with the one hand that wasn't a massive lump of bruises. "Ah, th-thank you, Chidori. So, how about a date?"
"I should inform you," Sousuke began as Kaname's eyebrow began to twitch, "that any further hostile action on your part will result in me reconsidering the fact that we aren't at war."
Shirai's eyes widened, and he charged out of the washroom just as Kaname sighed. "Why in the world did you do that, Sousuke?" she asked, rubbing her forehead. "You're acting just like you did on the first day."
"I felt the damage to your reputation was a serious risk," Sousuke explained. "And I didn't use any more force than any other student was capable of. Originally, I was considering detonating the offending writing, but that would break my cover."
The Chidori girl groaned. "I can't figure out if that's sweet or just psychotic," she muttered, just as Shinji charged into the room, dancing a jig and holding his groin.
"Ch-Chidori-san?" he asked, his eyes bulging behind the frames of his glasses. "Why are you in the boys' bathroom?"
"Erm," Kaname muttered, looking around. "Urk." Hurriedly, she exited the bathroom, shuddering as she made it to the hall. "I feel so dirty..." Sousuke was about to open his mouth to ask if she was all right, when she gave him a death glare that quickly caused him to snap it shut, and wonder if she had studied with one of his drill sergeants.
Mizuki Inaba walked down the street, sniffling to herself as she looked down to her cellular phone, considering if she should do what she'd been thinking of. She couldn't believe Shirai's actions, first asking both Chidori and Sagara out, and then, when she'd just wanted to know what was wrong with his hand and if she could help him with it, he'd told her that she was a nuisance, and that he didn't want to see her again.
She couldn't believe it. She'd been sure that Shirai was the perfect man for her, handsome, strong, and intelligent. Well, she'd thought that last right until she'd seen him try to proposition two girls at once. Growling, she began dialing the number for their favorite Sushi shop. "Hello? Yes, this is Shirai, I'd like fifteen specials. Right, the usual place," she said, before hanging up. That felt really good, she decided, and began to dial the numbers of a few other places she knew about.
It was after the fourth phone call, to an American pizza chain, that she noticed them, Chidori and Sagara, sitting on a bench and reading over a math paper while they waited for the train home. Confirming her last order, she whirled on the two, yelling "It's all your fault!"
Sora turned to Kaname, blinking at her in confusion. "What's our fault?"
Kaname frowned, thinking. "I really don't know," she answered.
"You made my Shirai-kun hate me!" Mizuki yelled, her face turning red with anger.
"Ah, you're Shirai-san's girlfriend," Kaname nodded. "You know that he's the one who tried to ask us out, right? And he didn't like it when we said no."
"That's not the point!" Mizuki continued, causing Sora to blink.
"Isn't being a..." she stopped to recall something she'd heard while in school, "two-timing bastard a bad thing?"
"I wouldn't have known about it if you two weren't around!" Mizuki returned, her grievance suddenly sounding rather stupid even in her own ears. "Look, that's not the point, you owe me now for what you've done!"
"We do?" the short redhead asked, looking to Kaname for guidance. The taller girl didn't get a chance to answer, as Mizuki grabbed Sora by the arm, pulling her to her feet.
"You do! And I know how you're going to make it up to me," she declared, striking a pose and not noticing the twitch the mercenary had suppressed, or realizing how close she had come to being thrown out onto the track before the now arriving train.
Ranma rubbed his forehead as he sat behind the small apartment's kitchen counter, finishing off the preparation for a pot of beef stew. "You agreed to this?" he asked, staring over the steam at his son.
"It seemed reasonable," the boy replied, causing Kaname, who was laying on the couch behind him and playing with her hamster, which she'd brought over, to roll her eyes.
"You agreed to pretend to be someone's boyfriend," the older man started. "That's not going to work."
"Hey, that someone is right here," Mizuki grumbled, from where she was sitting at the table across from Sousuke. "And of course it will, at least for the day I need to save face with my friends."
"Water," Ranma said, and Sousuke blinked at him in confusion. "Trust me, I know. When you absolutely can't have it find you, it will. The date'll last about half an hour."
Mizuki looked between the two Sagaras, her eyes showing pure confusion. "What does water have to do with any of this?"
Sousuke turned towards her and answered shortly. "That is classified information."
"Classified info..." The light brown haired girl shook her head.
"In any case, I have a plan for the event that water is present," the brown haired boy said, ignoring Mizuki's confusion.
Ranma just shook his head, dishing the soup he'd been making out into a few bowls and balancing them on his arms as he wheeled out of the kitchen, using one foot as propulsion.
"How in the world did he..." the brunette stuttered, though she almost completely forgot about it when the wonderful smelling food was placed in front of her, a near exact copy of one of Kasumi's recipes.
Handing Kaname her own bowl, Ranma levered himself out of his chair and leaned back on the couch next to her. "You don't look happy," he said, quietly enough that the two at the table didn't hear.
"Gee, what gave you that idea?" she snarled back, as Mizuki started asking Sousuke questions and prodding his answers to fit what she expected. "The idiot's going to make a fool out of himself."
As Sousuke replied to a question asking him to list his, or rather Shirai's skills, with a comment about impure sexual relations, Ranma chuckled. "Probably," he responded casually.
Kaname just looked at him for a moment, her eyebrow twitching as Mizuki began feeding the mercenary boy romantic lines to use on her.
Ranma just sighed. "Kaname," he started, making VERY sure Sousuke couldn't hear him this time. "You shouldn't be doing that. You know, he probably puts about as much stock in what he's saying right now as the Geneva convention's requirement of a name, rank and serial number in an interrogation."
"Huh?" the teal haired girl asked, blinking.
"He doesn't get the meaning. Same reason all my relationships when I was younger didn't turn out too well. It's all pointless, and he doesn't get why you don't just say what you're thinkin' and get it over with." The martial artist shrugged. "I'm not gunna ask if you like him, or just don't want to see him do something stupid, just remember that, okay? If he says something lovey-dovey, he's probably bullshitting because he thinks it's what someone wants to hear." He gestured at the two as Sousuke clasped Mizuki's hand in his, telling her that she was the most beautiful girl in the world, with a really confused look on his face.
Kaname couldn't help but smile, as she imagined the words in Sousuke's mouth being replaced with 'Yeah, yeah, whatever.' "Um, thanks Uncle Ranma," she said, before starting in on her food.
Ranma shook his head. 'First time I give someone advice after I find out I'm someone's dad, 'n it's my ex-fiancee's daughter.' he thought, before digging into his own meal.
"All right, I'm ready." Kaname stood next to Mizuki in front of Sousuke's apartment door, as she heard his voice from the other side. Strangely, it sounded even more muffled than she thought it should be given the wood in the way.
As the door opened, she saw why. He was wearing a bright yellow space suit. "What in the world is that?" Mizuki asked, her eyes practically bulging with shock.
"It is a nuclear, biological and chemical containment suit," Sousuke responded, his voice still muffled through the gas mask obscuring his mouth.
"Wha... You can't wear that!" the brown haired girl squawked, her hands on her hips. "Go change into something normal, quick!"
Kaname just barely stifled a snicker, as she held up a hand. "She means something normal people would wear, not normal for you," she clarified.
"Right," Sousuke said, removing the helmet of his suit and beginning to unzip it. Kaname was about to yell at him for stripping in the hallway, when she noticed that he wore a grey hoodey and grey dress pants. "However, if I don't wear the suit, then I recommend we avoid any water or cold beverages, and seek shelter if it rains."
"What in the world is with you?" Mizuki asked, crossing her arms over her chest and starting to wonder if she should have just admitted that her boyfriend had run off. Sighing, she pointed to the elevator. "Let's just go," she snapped, beginning to stomp towards it.
Kaname wasn't really sure if she should laugh or cry as she stood at the edge of the large pond in the middle of a park, watching the occasional bubble breach the surface. As Ranma, and she herself, really, had predicted the date had been a disaster. At one point, Sousuke had even stood up in the middle of a blockbuster war movie, criticizing the battle tactics of the soldiers in it at the top of his lungs.
The date had come to an end when Shirai had shown up, blowing what was left of Sousuke's cover spectacularly, and he'd ended up kissing Mizuki to try and prove his 'deep and abiding love.' For a moment, the Chidori girl contemplated letting him drown, but she shook her head, picking up a stick from the ground next to her feet and pitching it into the water.
Sora came to the surface a second later, a lump visible on her forehead as she gasped for breath. "You have very good aim, Kaname," she observed, rubbing the injury.
"And you're an idiot; what were you thinking, kissing Mizuki like that?" she shot back.
"It was what was expected of me, wasn't it?" the little redhead asked, clearly confused.
"What, do you kiss anyone if you think it's 'expected' of you?" Kaname growled, putting her hands on her hips.
"Well, of course," Sora responded. "I have kissed many fellow soldiers when it was necessary, and others." Kaname's mouth opened, and she tried to say something, but all that came out was a slight gurgle. "For example," the mercenary girl continued, "one of my colleagues in Helmajistan was shot in the gut, and it was needed to save his life. There was also an old man who was blown away in an artillery strike, and..."
"I get the idea," Kaname sighed, before stepping forward and offering Sora a hand up. "Come on." she muttered, pulling the shorter girl up to join her. "I've got a spare change of clothes in my backpack," she said, as the other squelched along beside her.
"Thank you," Sora said, nodding.
Kaname sighed. For a moment, she cursed Jusenkyo, as if Sousuke had been male when she pulled him up, he would have been right up at lip level, rather than staring at the base of her neck. Still, as she recalled what he thought kissing was for, she shook her head. "So," she started, "If I got a gut shot, would you kiss me?"
"You will not be shot in the gut," Sora responded, flatly.