Walt Disney and GothicDancer proudly present:
Yuugao as Tiana or Kishimoto's The Kunoichi and the Frog-nin
"The Evening Star is shining bright, so make a wish and hold on tight. There's magic in the air tonight...and anything can happen..."
On a clear night in the southern part of a land called Konoha sat two girls listening to a bedtime story. One of them was dressed in a huge, pink, princess-like ball gown, and the other was in a sweet but modest green dress. They sat among a mountain of toys in the former's luxurious, princess-like bedroom. The first little girl smiled in anticipation as she listened to the story.
"Here comes my favorite part," she whispered to her friend, giggling a bit.
A woman stood before the two of them and cut a piece of fabric as she told the story. She didn't even need to look at the book, as she had told them the tale so many times before.
"And the frog said, 'Oh please, Princess, only a kiss from you will restore me to my normal form!' And so the princess stooped down, picked up the slippery creature, brought it to her lips, and KISSED that frog!"
The woman smiled as she finished up her project. "Ha, that's all for tonight. Say goodnight, Yuugao."
The little girl dressed in green frowned. "There is no way I would ever kiss a frog."
The other girl laughed. "I would do it!" she cheered. "I would kiss a million frogs if it meant I could marry a prince and become a princess!" She snatched her pet kitten up and pushed it into Yuugao's face. "Go on, kiss one!"
At that moment, the bedroom door swung open. "Evening, Kurenai."
"Good evening, Ibiki," the woman replied.
"Daddy! Daddy!" the little girl cried. "Look at my new dress. Isn't it pretty?"
Ibiki smiled. "Look at you! You look like a princess, Anko!"
Anko turned to the story book and looked at one of the illustrations of the princess. "Oh!" she gasped. "I want that dress! Please, Daddy? Please, please, PLEASE?"
Ibiki nervously shifted towards the woman. "Kurenai, do you think you could make up something like that?"
Kurenai nodded. "Anything for my best customer." She turned to show off all the dresses she had made for Anko, which was well into thirty. Smiling, she picked up her own daughter's coat. "Come on, Yuugao, your daddy should be home by now."
Ibiki waved to the mother and daughter as they left and turned back to his daughter. "Now, Anko, you're going to get that dress, but that's it. I'm no pushover! ...Now who wants a puppy?"
Later that night, when the entire family was home, Yuugao stood in her house's tiny kitchen, stirring a large pot full of noodles on the stove. "Daddy, I think the ramen's almost done!"
Her father smiled gently. "Okay, Yuugao, if you say so!" He put a spoonful of the noodles into his mouth. "Oh my, Yuugao..."
"This is the...best ramen I've ever tasted!" He hoisted his daughter into the air and spun her around, Yuugao giggling wildly the entire time. "Yes, it's perfect! Kurenai, our daughter has a gift."
"Hee, I could have told you that."
"And I gift this special has to be shared with everyone!"
Yuugao jumped down from her father's hug and opened the front door to see the entire neighborhood outside. "Hey, Everyone, I made ramen!" she cheered, inviting everyone to the front porch. All throughout the night, people complimented the little girl on her talent.
That night, when it was time for Yuugao to go to bed, her father said, "You know what the thing about good food is? It warms people up and puts smiles on their faces." He took out a picture of a restaurant and continued, "When I get my own place, people are gonna come from all around just to have a taste of my food."
"Our food!" Yuugao corrected.
Her father smiled. "That's right. Our food." He took a marker and wrote "Yuugao's Palace" on the picture. The little girl took it and hugged it."
"Good night, Yuugao," Kurenai said. "Asuma?"
He husband smiled and tucked his daughter in. "Good night, Yuu-chan."
As soon as the two left the room, Yuugao sat up in bed and opened her window, only to see a bright, shining star gleaming up in the sky. Smiling, she hugged the picture again and said, "Please, please, please..." She then looked to the side of her window sill and saw a frog.
Yuugao screamed and ran out of the room.
An exhausted Yuugao dragged herself into her room, now a young woman, and took off her apron. Sighing, she placed the tips into her savings jars and smiled at the photo sitting on her dresser. "Don't worry, Daddy, we'll be there soon." Then she sighed and flopped down on her bed, only to hear her alarm go off.
Yuugao picked herself up again and went to her closet to change uniforms. As soon as she was put together, she ran outside to catch the trolley and take it to her next job.
Along the way there, the rest of the world was going on as usual. A voodoo doctor tricked a man for his money but found he had gotten the short end of the stick, when he saw a local newspaper boy receive a huge sum of money from a local businessman. The businessman opened the newspaper and saw that a prince had arrived in his part of Konoha, called South Konoha. The prince jumped down from his ship in casual clothes and serenaded the local women with his ukulele, while his valet stumbled forward.
It's just what happened down in South Konoha.
Yuugao happily suited up for her daytime waitressing job and began serving customers. She saw some of her friends and greeted them. "Hi, Guys, what can I get you?"
"We're going out dancing tonight!" one of them said. "Wanna come?"
"Oh, I'm sorry," Yuugao replied sadly, "but I'm going to work a double shift tonight so I can-!"
"I know, I know," her friend sighed, "so you can save for your restaurant. All you do is work!"
Yuugao sighed and went back to her job.
"I told y'all she wouldn't come!"
"Are you talking about that dang restaurant again?" one of the cooks laughed. "Ha! You've got about as much of a chance of getting that restaurant as I do of passing the Chunin Exams!"
Yuugao didn't want to believe them. She had sacrificed so much for her dream, and she wasn't even close to making the down payment on the building yet.
The front door opened. "Good morning, Mr. Morino."
"Good morning, Yuugao," Ibiki said back, taking a seat at a nearby table.
Yuugao smiled. "Congratulations on being elected King of the Mardi Gras Parade."
Ibiki grinned. "It caught me completely by surprise...for the fifth year in a row! Now, how about some dumplings?" Yuugao set a plate down for him just as the front door opened again.
"OH, YUU-CHAN!" Anko squealed, rushing into the restaurant. "Did you hear? DID YOU HEAR THE NEWS, YUU-CHAN? Oh, please, TELL HER, DADDY!"
Ibiki glanced at his daughter and smiled. "Prince Hayate-"
"PRINCE HAYATE OF MALDONIA IS COMING TO SOUTH KONOHA!
"And I in-"
"AND DADDY INVITED HIM TO OUR COSTUME BALL!"
Ibiki stuffed a dumpling into his daughter's mouth. "And he's staying at my house as our personal guest."
Yuugao laughed. "Oh, An-chan, that's great. Let me give you a little word of advice. My mama said that the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach."
Anko swallowed the pastry, and her face lit up with a huge smile. "Oh, my God, Yuu-chan, you're a genius! I'm gonna need about five hundred of those MAN-NABBING dumplings for my ball tonight." She snatched her father's wallet and pulled out every dollar he had, shoving the huge sum of money in Yuugao's face. "Will this cover it?"
Yuugao stared at the money and smiled, not able to believe the amount. "This...this should be just fine, An-chan!" she replied, nodding excitedly. "This is it! I'm getting my restaurant!"
"AND I'M FINALLY GETTING MY PRINCE!" Anko practically screamed, grabbing her father and rushing out of the restaurant. "AND I SURE AS HECK AIN'T LETTING HIM GET AWAY!"
In the corner of the restaurant, the voodoo doctor grinned at his shadow.
Yuugao immediately ran to the old building she was set on buying. She grinned as the real estate agents picked up the "FOR SALE" sign and drove away, agreeing to bring the papers to the costume ball that night. Just as she was about to head into the building, she heard her mother speak. "Table for one?"
Kurenai smiled and held up a pot. "Here's a gift to help you get started."
Yuugao almost cried. "Daddy's ramen pot..."
"Oh, it's okay, Darling, I miss him, too. But I don't want to be standing out here all day! Show this place to me!"
Yuugao grinned and opened the front doors, revealing a worn-out mess of an abandoned wreck. "Look at it, Mama!" she laughed. "Doesn't it just make you wanna cry?"
Kurenai's eyes widened skeptically. "Yes..."
"Over there is where the maitre d' is gonna stand," her daughter explained. "Over here will be a gourmet restaurant! And dangling from the ceiling will be a big crystal chandelier!"
Kurenai smiled. "You're your daddy's daughter alright. He used to go on about this place all the time." Suddenly, she frowned. "Honey, I'm sure that it'll be great, but it's a shame that you're working so hard."
Yuugao frowned, too. "But I can't give up when I'm so close, Mama. I gotta make sure that all of Daddy's hard work means something."
"Yuugao, your daddy didn't get the restaurant he always wanted, but he had something better. He had love." Kurenai smiled again. "And all I want is for you to meet your prince charming and dance the night away."
Yuugao laughed. "Mama, I don't have time for dancing! That'll have to wait just a little while longer. Once I get this place fixed up, then I can dance. It's okay because I'm almost there!" With that, she took her mother by the arm and led her out of the building. Neither one of them saw the support beams for the stairs break.
The valet from earlier frantically searched for the prince and eventually found him entertaining a large group of people with a jazz band. "Sire!" he called, tripping over the bags he carried. "Sire, I have been looking everywhere for you!"
"Ah, Kabuto, what a coincidence," the prince laughed, "I have been avoiding you everywhere! Ha! Listen, Kabuto, listen! It's Konoha's own version of jazz music. It's the greatest kind of music out there."
"No, no, Sire!" Kabuto nearly begged. "We're going to be late for the masquerade!"
Prince Hayate rolled his eyes. "Yes, yes, I know, but first I'm buying everyone here a drink!"
"With WHAT?" the valet snapped. "At this point, you have only two options. You can either marry a rich, young lady...or get a job!"
Hayate rolled his eyes again. "Alright, fine, I get it. But first! WE DANCE!" With that, he picked the valet up and tossed him towards the jazz band. Kabuto's head smacked into the tuba as he fell forward. "Ha! You finally got into the music!" Hayate laughed. "Do you get my joke? It's because your head is in the tuba."
"HELP ME!" Kabuto ordered. Suddenly, Hayate picked him up and threw him back so the two landed on top of each other, Hayate laughing while Kabuto tried to fix himself up. Neither saw the shadow approach the two of them, and when they did, they saw a tall, dark man, the voodoo doctor, staring down at them.
"Gentlemen," the doctor began, grinning, "it's a pleasure to meet you. A tip of the hate from Dr. Baki. How are you doing?" He pulled his business card from his jacket pocket and handed it to the men. Hayate took it and read it, following the doctor into a back alley, where he took his palm. "I'm in the presence of visiting royalty, no?"
Hayate grinned. "Kabuto! he called, excited. "This remarkable man has read my palm."
Kabuto rolled his eyes. "Or this morning's newspaper. Sire, I think we should get out of here. I think...!"
"DON'T YOU DISRESPECT ME, LITTLE MAN!" Baki shouted angrily, pointing his cane at the men. "Look, you're in my world now, and I've got friends on the other side..." He opened the door and led the two of them inside. "Sit down at my table and make yourselves comfortable. I can read your future and all sorts of other things. Heck, I haven't even tried them all! Now, pick three cards." He held out his deck of tarot cards and let the two men pick their own sets.
First, he took a look at Hayate's cards. "You, young man, are from across the sea and a royal family. Ah, so your mom and dad cut you off, huh?"
Hayate shrugged. "Sad but true."
"I know that you want to be free, but that takes green," Baki laughed. "But you know what? I see green in your future." He grinned at the prince but frowned as soon as he turned to Kabuto. "Look, I don't wanna waste a lot of time on you. You've been pushed around all your life by everyone you know. However, in your future, I see the man you've always wanted to be. Now, shake my hand, would you?"
Hayate and Kabuto took one last look at each other and both shook the man's hand. Baki laughed. "YES! ARE YOU READY?" The room suddenly exploded into a barrage of colors and idols dancing everywhere. Snakes tied Hayate to his chair as a giant idol opened its mouth to reveal a necklace, which Baki took. "TRANSFORMATION CENTRAL!" He brought the necklace to Hayate's finger and chomped on it so the talisman filled with the prince's blood. "CAN YOU FEEL IT? YOU'RE CHANGING, YOU'RE CHANGING, YOU'RE CHANGING ALRIGHT! I HOPE YOU'RE SATISFIED. But, if you ain't, don't blame me. YOU CAN BLAME MY FRIENDS ON THE OTHER SIDE!"
And the whole room went black.
At the masquerade ball that night, it seemed like everyone in the city was dancing and having a good time. Yuugao tossed a dumpling to Anko's pet dog while listening in on the girl's frantic rants.
"But you said 'later' two hours ago, Miss Anko..."
"Ugh!" Anko groaned. "Raido, when a woman says 'later,' she means 'not ever!' Now get out of here! ...GIMME ALL YOUR NAPKINS, YUU-CHAN!"
Yuugao cocked an eyebrow. "What for?"
"Oh, Yuu-chan," Anko nearly sobbed, "I'm sweatin' like someone from the Akimichi clan at a family barbeque. It's getting so late. It's not fair! MY PRINCE AIN'T NEVER COMING!" She grabbed the ends of her gigantic ball gown and ran up the stairs towards her estate.
Yuugao ran after her. "An-chan, calm down, wait!"
"Maybe I just gotta wish harder!" Anko gasped as soon as she made it upstairs. She turned towards the night sky and clasped her hands together. "Please, please, please, please, PLEASE!"
Yuugao rolled her eyes. "An-chan, you can't just-!"
Suddenly, trumpets sounded. "HIS ROYAL HIGHNESS," came a voice, "PRINCE HAYATE!"
Anko squealed in excitement, fixed her makeup, and ran down to meet the prince. Yuugao just stared in confusion at the stars in the night sky but decided to ignore what had just happened. Anko was happy and that was all that matter. She watched as the two of them danced happily together until she met up with the real estate agents.
She greeted them politely. "Dumplings, Sirs? They're gonna be the house specialty when I sign those papers you brought."
One of the agents shrugged. "You were outbid."
"A man came in and offered the asking price in cash. Unless you can top the offer by Wednesday, it'll go to him."
Yuugao's jaw dropped. "No," she gasped, "do you know how long it took me to save all that money?"
"Exactly!" the other agent laughed. "That's why a woman of your background is better off where she is."
Yuugao was so frustrated with their uncaring words that she reached out to grab the two men, but she tripped and fell backwards into the food table. It crashed down around her, food flying everywhere and staining her dress.
At that moment, Anko rushed forward, hoping she could serve some of the dumplings to the prince but gasped when she saw what had happened. "Oh, you poor thing," she murmured. "Come on, Yuu-chan, I'll get you a new dress and everything."
"Oh, Yuu-chan!" Anko squealed as she touched up her makeup in front of her bedroom mirror. "Did you see the way he danced with me? He'll propose, no doubt! THANK YOU, EVENING STAR!" she giggled. "You know, I was beginning to think that wishing was just for babies and crazy people and...!" She turned when she saw her friend in the mirror's reflection. Yuugao was wearing a sparkling, blue dress with her hair done up perfectly. "Wow, look at you," Anko continued, "aren't you just as pretty as a sakura blossom in springtime. It seems like only yesterday we were little girls waiting for our dreams to come true." She placed a tiara from her nightstand onto her friend's head and fixed it so it was just right. "Well now! Back to the party I go!" She ran out of her room. "OH, PRINCE HAYATE!"
The entire time, Yuugao had not replied. She looked at the pile of her dirty clothes and reached for the picture she always kept with her. Her restaurant was just another dream again. "Almost there," she whispered. "I was almost there..." Sadly, she walked out onto the balcony and looked up at the night sky, already hating herself for what she was about to do. "Please...please...please..."
Yuugao looked down and deadpanned. "Very funny. So I guess you want a kiss?"
"...Kissing would be nice, (cough) yes?"
Yuugao screamed at the top of her lungs and scampered backwards so that she ran into Anko's bookshelf. Still screaming, she threw whatever she could grab at the frog until it begged for her to stop.
"Please! (cough) Please listen to me!" it cried. "Listen! (cough) I am Prince (cough) Hayate."
She slammed a heavy book down onto him.
"The prince?" Yuugao gasped. "Wait a second, no! If you're the prince, then who is dancing with An-chan?"
Hayate rolled his eyes. "All I know is that, one minute, I am (cough) a charming, handsome prince, and the next minute, I am tripping over frog legs. I also (cough) seemed to have caught a terrible cold." He paused for a moment but then cried out when Yuugao lifted the book into the air again. "Wait! (cough)" he called. "I know that story!"
"'The Frog Prince'?"
"Yes! My mother had the servants (cough) read this to me every night! Yes, yes, this is (cough) it! You must kiss me."
"You will enjoy it, I (cough) promise."
Yuugao shook her head, laughing awkwardly. "Look, I'd love to help you and all, but I...do NOT kiss frogs."
Hayate was shocked. "But, out on the balcony, you (cough) asked for me!"
"I wasn't expecting you to answer!"
Hayate seemed discouraged for a moment, but then his eyes lidded half-way, and a sly smirk appeared on his face. He had a plan. "Look, aside from me being (cough) unbelievably handsome, I am also FABULOUSLY wealthy. Perhaps there is something I can (cough) help you with?"
Yuugao bit her lip at the thought of receiving a ton of money from the prince. If the prince was telling the truth, she could get enough money to buy the building for her restaurant back. And that's all she would take, she swore, nothing more. Well, maybe a little bit. Oh, she didn't know anymore. All she did know was that there was something she wanted, and she was being offered enough to get it.
Taking a deep breath, she mustered up everything in her and went to kiss the frog, only to jump back in disgust. Taking one more deep breath, she finally swallowed her pride and kissed the frog. Instantly, bright lights surrounded the two. When the show was over, Hayate opened his eyes and groaned. He was still a frog. But then he gasped and looked over the edge of the dresser, gasping a curse in a foreign language.
"What?" Yuugao murmured. "You don't look any different, but I...!" She looked at herself in the mirror and screamed at the top of her lungs, jumping up to the dresser and smacking into Hayate. "WHAT DID YOU DO TO ME?" she screamed. "I'm a frog, I'm a frog! I'm all slimy and...!"
"Actually," Hayate coughed, "you're secreting mucus."
Enraged, Yuugao tackled the prince, causing the two of them to fall out the nearby window and down into the party area. They hopped and fell down onto the band, causing it to go wild. Thus, the people began to dance like crazy, even making Anko fall over in shock and the frogs that had somehow made it down her dress. Then the two fell onto the snack table, getting tangled in balloon strings. That was when Pakkun, Anko's dog, began barking. Yuugao tried to calm it down, and the dog actually spoke back to her! "Yuugao!" it gasped, falling to the ground as the balloons drifted away into the night sky.
"Pakkun...the dog," Yuugao panted, "just spoke to me!"
"You know, if you're going to make such a big deal out of everything," Hayate scolded, "it's going to (cough) be a very long night!"
They didn't see Baki down in the crowd. The Shadow Man turned and glared at the fake Prince Hayate, who ran into the back room of the mansion and opened a closet, gasping at an empty jar. "Uh-oh..."
"YOU LET HIM ESCAPE!"
When he spoke, Kabuto's voice came out of the fake prince. "But he was gasping! So I opened the lid slightly, just so he could get some air!" He cringed when Baki pushed him back so he fell flat on the floor. "Oh, how did I get involved in all this voodoo magic? I refuse to be a part of it anymore! You wear it!" He stood and took the talisman off his neck, transforming back into his real self. He went to throw it on the floor when Baki grabbed it out of his hand.
"Careful with that!" he commanded. "If anything happens to this, I'll...!" He stopped short and sighed, shaking his head. "Funny thing about voodoo, Kabuto, I can't conjure a thing for myself. Besides, you and I both know that magic isn't what makes this world go 'round. That's money."
Kabuto nodded. "Yeah, that's true."
"And aren't you tired of all those fat cats strolling on by and never giving you even so much as a glance?"
"So," Baki continued, bringing Kabuto to a mirror and placing the talisman back around his neck, promptly transforming him into the fake prince, "all you need to do is marry Ibiki's little princess, and we'll be splitting that fortune of his right down the middle, sixty, forty, just like I said. And your little slip-up is just a minor bump in the road, as long as we've got the real prince's blood right here." He poked the talisman and cackled.
"Voodoo!" Yuugao cried as she and Hayate floated on the balloon strings through a horrible storm out over the bayou. "You mean to tell me that all this happened because you were messing with the Shadow Man?"
Hayate shrugged. "(cough) He was very charismatic!"
Yuugao smacked her forehead. "Serves me right for wishing on stars. The only way to get what I want it through hard work."
At this, Hayate laughed nervously. "Hard work? Uh, (cough) why would a princess need to work hard?"
"Huh? Oh, I'm a waitress, not a princess."
"What! Well, (cough) no wonder the kiss didn't work! You lied to me!"
Yuugao rolled her eyes. "I never said I was a princess."
"You never said you weren't!
"Oh, shut it, rich boy."
Hayate snickered. "Oh yeah? Well, (cough) the joke's on you! I have no money!"
Yuugao's eyes widened in shock. "But you said you were fabulously wealthy!"
"No, my parents are fabulously wealthy. I am completely broke!"
Yuugao was about to yell back when the balloons began popping. They had scratched up against a tree branch, and the two frogs suddenly fell into the bayou. When they landed in the water, a fish jumped up and tried to eat them. They hopped onto land and kept hopping away frantically, as a bird had spotted them. They tripped back into the water and landed on top of a rock.
"And you can forget about me helping you!" Hayate spat. "I made (cough) that promise to a beautiful princess, not a cranky waitress!" He glanced out on the water and blinked a few times. "Why are those logs moving?"
Yuugao stared out at the water. "Those aren't logs."
That was when several alligators began chomping and snapping at them. In fact, the log they had landed on was actually an alligator! Scrambling, they managed to escape onto shore. Yuugao swam up into a hollow tree while Hayate was left outside it. "Lower the vine!" he begged.
Yuugao snorted. "Find your own tree."
Hayate coughed a few times and looked at the approaching crocodiles in fear. "Okay, okay!" he agreed. "If you help me out here, I shall get you whatever you want."
He grabbed the vine just in time, hoisting himself up into the tree. Once he was inside, he let out a sigh of relief. "Well, we might (cough) be here for a little while, so we may as well make ourselves...comfortable."
"Keep your slimy self away from me!"
"It's not slime! It's mucus!"
In the morning, the alligators were gone, and Yuugao was busy making a tiny raft for Hayate and herself. She woke the prince and picked up a stick to row with. Hayate made a makeshift guitar out of a few sticks and a spider web. "Music to paddle by."
Yuugao rolled her eyes. "I could use a little help."
"Oh...I'll (cough) play louder." And he did but he didn't notice the alligator swimming up behind him. Yuugao turned to scold him again and gasped, trying to catch the prince's attention. She didn't have to worry though, because the alligator just laughed.
"I know that tune!"
And he began to play a trumpet.
Hayate got up and practically squealed. "Play it, brother!" He picked up his guitar and began to play again. Yuugao watched on, unamused.
Once the song was over, Hayate jumped up into the alligator's arms. "Where did you (cough) learn to play like that?"
"I just listened to all the big jazz musicians as they played on the riverboats," the alligator replied, smiling and laughing obnoxiously. "Name's Guy, by the way. I'd love to play with those guys on the riverboats..."
"Why don't you?"
"I tried once."
What Guy meant was that he, being an alligator, had randomly jumped on a boat and started playing, scaring everybody on the boat so much that they began shooting at him, forcing him back into the water.
"...It didn't work out."
Yuugao rolled her eyes. "Look, Guy, it's been wonderful meeting you, but we have to be on our way. Goodbye!" She shoved Hayate back on the raft and began to row again.
"Huh?" the alligator asked. "Where are you going?"
"To find someone to break this spell."
Hayate grinned. "Brace yourself! I am (cough) Prince Hayate of Maldonia! And she is Yuugao, the waitress." He ignored the insulted look on Yuugao's face. "We are not frogs; we are human."
Guy laughed. "Yeah, right! Are you serious?"
"Unfortunately, yes," Yuugao sighed. "The prince here got himself in trouble with a voodoo man and got us turned into frogs."
"Voodoo?" Guy gasped. "Like the kind Mama Chiyo does? Oh man, she's the Queen of Voodoo out here in the bayou. She's got all sorts of magic and spells. ALL sorts of voodoo..."
"Could you take us to her?"
"To her? Through the deepest, darkest parts of the bayou with sticky pricker bushes and hunters with guns? ...No." And, with that, the alligator slumped against a tree and began to play his trumpet again.
Yuugao looked like she was ready to move on anyway when Hayate stopped her. "Watch this," he coughed quietly, strutting over to Guy. "Well, I'm so sorry we couldn't help (cough) you," he sighed. "If only you weren't so large (cough) and toothy. Then you could play for (cough) hundreds of adoring fans." He grinned when he saw Guy's eyes pop open. "Anyway, enjoy your loneliness, see you (cough) later!" He walked back to Yuugao and waited for mere seconds.
"Hey, you two, I have an idea!" Guy exclaimed, jumping up. "What if I asked Mama Chiyo to make me human, too?"
Hayate laughed. "What an idea!"
"Then let's go!" He jumped into the water and began to swim downstream, allowing Hayate and Yuugao to ride on top of him. "When I'm human, I'm gonna play for so many fans. I'm gonna be the next big thing in jazz music!"
"When I'm (cough) human," Hayate began, "I'm gonna party every single night with so many beautiful girls around me. That's the way life should be!"
Yuugao smirked. "When I'm human," she added, "I'm finally gonna get my restaurant. All my hard work will have paid off!"
They sang and shared their dreams with each other all the way throughout the bayou.
Back at Ibiki's estate, Anko and Kabuto, disguised as Prince Hayate, opened a bottle of champagne and sat out underneath the gazebo in the yard. Anko frowned as she poured the fake prince a glass. "Oh, I am so sorry that you had to endure that fiasco last night, Prince Hayate," she sighed, sitting down across from him.
"Well," Kabuto laughed, "when you're next in line for the throne, you learn to ALWAYS expect the unexpected." He grinned at Anko and didn't notice the little "pop!" on the side of his face.
But Anko did. "Uh...your ear?" She motioned towards it. No doubt, it had definitely changed.
Kabuto felt it and gasped. "Ha! Pesky mosquitoes!" he giggled nervously. That was when he picked Anko up from her spot and held her against him so she wouldn't notice the rest of the changes. His backside was beginning to shift as well, along with his face. "Um, Miss Anko," he said formally, trying to distract her, "I can no longer ignore my feelings! Would you do me the honor of becoming Princess of Maldonia?"
Anko stopped short and stared up towards the sky, pausing for a moment. Then, squeals and screams of delight exploded from her, and she jumped up, tackling Kabuto up against the railing of the gazebo. "YES, YES, YES, I'LL MARRY YOU!" she screamed out joyfully, prancing around the deck and shaking her fists excitedly as she ran back to the estate. "Oh, my God, there's so much to do! The flowers, the cake, the dress, the shoes, WE'RE GONNA HAVE A MARDI GRAS WEDDING!"
When she was finally gone, Baki slipped out from the darkness and took hold of the talisman hanging around Kabuto's neck. It had run out of blood, and Kabuto was back to his normal self. "What to we do?" the valet asked shakily.
Baki groaned. "Because of your little slip-up, I'm reduced for asking for help from my friends on the Other Side..."
"So what's gonna be in this restaurant of yours?"
Yuugao grinned just thinking about it as she sat up on Guy's back. "Oh, it's gonna have everything! Dumplings, ramen, okonomiyaki, soba, yakiniku, udon."
Guy shook his tail with anticipation. "I love curry!"
"We'll have that, too!"
"Come on, stop it," Hayate sighed, "you guys are making me (cough) so hungry." He looked up at a group of flies buzzing about, and his tongue started to stick out. "Interesting." Quietly, he hopped onto a lily pad and aimed his projectile tongue and the insects.
Yuugao was uninterested until he tongue started jutting out as well. "What? Oh no, no way! There is no way I'm kissin' a frog and eatin' a bug on the same day." She tried to ignore the flies, but her tongue was desperate for them. She and Hayate both went for a particular firefly simultaneously, and their tongues managed to get tied together!
"Hmm," Guy mused as he picked the two of them up, "let's see here..." He squished the two together and turned them about so their tongues were even more tangled than before. "...Nah," he finally said, setting them down, "you know what this needs? A sharp stick! Be right back!" And he ran off.
Once he was gone, the firefly poked its little head out of the grass and flew over to the tangled duo. "Well, look at this!" he laughed. "Oh man, don't worry, you two, I'll get you out of there." He turned on his flickering light after a few tries and adjustments and dove down between the two. Eventually finding the ends of their tongues, he pulled on the two in a particular direction, and they quickly came undone. "There, perfect!" he cheered. "Now then, my name's Rock Lee, but you all can just call me Lee!"
"Excuse me," Hayate coughed, gathering his tongue back into his mouth, "but you don't speak the same way we do..."
"Oh, that's because I'm supercharged with the power of youth!" Lee giggled. "Where are y'all from?"
"...Very far away from here."
Yuugao rolled her eyes. "Prince Charming here got himself turned into a frog because he was messing with a voodoo witch doctor. We were on our way to see Mama Chiyo..."
"Mama Chiyo?" Lee asked, tilting his head. "Uh-uh, you're going the wrong way!"
"I FOUND THE STICK!"
Guy was met with unamused glares from Yuugao and Hayate. "Guy," the female frog growled, "Lee here tells us you've been taking us in the wrong direction..."
The alligator laughed nervously. "Ha! Well, uh, I was confused because of the surroundings and the geography and the...heh..."
Lee sighed. "This is why no one 'round here takes directions from a gator. Oh well! We'll just have to get all the little fireflies out here to help us out!" He whistled for them, and thousands of fireflies quickly descended on the small group, lighting the real path towards Mama Chiyo. "C'mon, y'all, I'm gonna take you down the bayou!"
Back at Baki's voodoo shop, the Shadow Man stood in front of various idols, the ones that had helped him out back when he had transformed Hayate, and bowed before them. "My friends!" he greeted, smiling politely. "Oh, I know I'm already SO deep in debt with you, but I have another little favor to ask. You see, we had a little mishap with the frog, and I need your help in getting him back."
He stopped for a moment to take in the frustrated grunts from the idols. "Ha ha! I know what you're wondering!" he laughed. "What's in it for you? Well, once I get rid of Ibiki and take control of this town, I'll have all of South Konoha in the palm of my hands." He held out his palm so the idols could see the image. "And you'll have all the wayward souls your dark, little hearts desire!" He blew the soul images out towards the idols, and they seemed pleased with the offering. The large one in the center opened to release several shadow creatures out into the world.
Baki laughed triumphantly. "NOW we're talking! Search everywhere! I need that frog's heart pumping...for now." He slammed his cane onto the floor. "Go! All of you!" He watched, satisfied, as the monsters crept out of the shop and snuck all the shadows of the night in South Konoha, down towards the bayou.
That was where Yuugao, Hayate, Guy, and Lee still were. They waved goodbye to all of Lee's friends as the little firefly called out, "And, Neji, tell Tenten that I said hello!"
Yuugao giggled. "Is that your girl?"
"Hmm?" Lee looked back at the frog. "Oh no, my girl is Sakura!"
"Sakura? Like the flower?"
"Oh yes. I talk to her every night. She's kinda quiet but I know we're meant to be together forever..."
Yuugao sighed dreamily. "Oh, Lee, that's so sweet."
Hayate snorted. "Yeah, uh-huh. (cough) Just don't settle down too quickly. There are plenty of (cough) fireflies out there." He smirked when Yuugao rolled her eyes and started climbing through a pricker bush.
Guy accidentally touched one of the prickers as he moved forward. It stung his finger, and he wailed in pain. "PRICKER BUSHES! OH, MY GOD, NOOOOO! GATOR DOWN!"
Lee flew over to the little pricker and sighed. "Hold still."
"OW OW OW OWWWWWWW!"
"...I did not touch it yet."
What the group didn't know was that a small group of hunters was watching them, keeping close eyes on the two frogs making their way through the small patch of bushes. "Oh, look at them!" the one girl gasped in awe. "Oh man, we're gonna eat well tonight!"
"I bet they'll taste really good with some barbeque sauce, huh, Kin!"
The girl smacked the loud boy to shut him up. "Quiet, Zaku!"
Another hunter with tape over his mouth mumbled something, which, surprisingly, Kin seemed to understand. "My thoughts exactly, Dosu! Let's go." She dragged the two boys down, and the three of them made their way towards the bushes.
"You know, waitress," Hayate began as he followed Yuugao, who was busy cutting down the branches in their way, "I think I have finally figured out (cough) what your problem is."
Yuugao was unamused. "Oh, really?"
"Yes, you do not know (cough) how to have fun."
The waitress turned towards Hayate with an angry glare. "Is that so? Well, I know what YOUR problem is. You're a good-for-nothing, lazy bump on a log." She pulled a branch back so it smacked Hayate in the face when he tried to move forward. He coughed out the leaves and then coughed out a few insults.
Yuugao was about to reply when a net came crashing down on top of Hayate. The prince cried out as he was hoisted up, gasping when he heard Kin order the other two hunters to go after Yuugao. Yuugao tried to hop away, but Dosu was too fast. He picked her up, but she was able to escape his grip, being as slippery as she was. She tried hopping again, but Zaku found her this time, tripping over a dead tree and projecting her into the air, when she landed in a cage.
Lee had just finished with Guy when he realized what was going on. He ignored Guy's screams when the alligator noticed the guns in the boat and completely ignored him when he jumped back into the pricker bushes, causing him to scream again. Instead, Lee flew straight forward and pestered Kin until she tripped over the box holding Hayate in her boat. Knocked to the side, the top of the box opened, and Hayate was able to jump back into the water.
That was when Dosu and Zaku boarded the boat. "Hey, where's yours, Kin?" Zaku asked.
"Shut up!" the girl snarled. "Just paddle. Let's get the heck outta here!"
Hayate rose to the surface for air, and that was when he saw Yuugao still trapped on the boat. He stuck his tongue out and smacked right into the moving boat, causing Zaku to jump up in surprise. "Kin!" he called. "Did you hear that suspicious thud?"
"Yeah," the girl muttered, "I did." What she didn't know was that Hayate had jumped up onto her head, gaining the attraction of her fellow hunters' eyes. Before she could ask them what they were staring at, Zaku smacked her in the head with a large, heavy tree branch, and Hayate jumped away from her, down to the floor, causing Dosu to stand. With the three of them distracted, Yuugao was able to hop out of the box, and she and Hayate hopped around the boat, causing the three hunters to attack each other in hopes of trapping them again. But all they ended up doing was beat each other senseless to the point that all three were too exhausted and hurt to move an inch.
"I've never seen frogs like this," Kin muttered. "They're smart."
Hayate and Yuugao jumped in front of them. "And we talk, too!"
The three hunters were so scared that they jumped up in shock and paddled away as fast as they could, despite their weariness. Once they were gone, Hayate burst out an odd mix of laughing and coughing. "That was (cough) great! You're secretly funny!"
Yuugao giggled. "See? I'm not a stick in the mud." She led the way back to shore, where Lee was still pulling prickers off Guy.
"Hey, Yuugao!" he called. "I know we need to get to Mama Chiyo's as fast as possible, but I don't think Guy's gonna be able to move for a while. I have a few more, uh, extractions to do."
"Aw," the little frog replied, "it's okay. I have an idea! Why don't I make us something to eat? How about a swamp-style soup?"
Guy grinned. "Sounds great!" Until Lee pulled another pricker off him. "OW!"
"Fantastic," Hayate agreed, leaning back against a tree.
Yuugao shook her head. "Nope, Your Royal Highness, you're gonna mince mushrooms for me." She shoved the mushrooms and a slim, sharp rock into Hayate's arms and hopped off to find other ingredients. Working in the restaurant business for so long, she knew which wild plants were safe to eat. By the time she returned, Hayate was still working on his first slices.
He smiled awkwardly, embarrassed. "I've...never done (cough) anything like this before."
"Oh, really? I never would have guessed." He cringed at the sarcasm in Yuugao's voice. "Move aside." She minced the first mushroom like a pro and then lit a fire underneath a pumpkin growing nearby.
Hayate was hesitant in his reply at first. "I admit that I lived a charmed life," he finally said, "but, on (cough) the day my parents cut me off, I (cough) realized that...I don't know how to do anything."
That made Yuugao stop. She turned around and look at the prince sympathetically. "Well," she replied, "at least you now know how to mince mushrooms."
Later that night, the group was finishing up with dinner. The soup was so good that Hayate asked for seconds and even complimented Yuugao on her cooking. She was about to pour him another bowl when Lee gasped happily.
"Look up there!" the little firefly exclaimed lovingly, pointing towards the sky. "There's my girl!"
"Sakura?" Yuugao asked.
Guy finished the last of his soup. "I'd like to meet this girl!"
"You can't miss her," Lee sighed. "She's glowing right there! My beautiful Sakura." He pointed to none other than the Evening Star, causing the two frogs and the alligator to stop short. That wasn't a firefly, but no one had the heart to tell Lee. He looked so happy as he flew about, proclaiming his love for the star.
It seemed the love was contagious. Hayate took Yuugao's hand and tried to start dancing, but Yuugao pulled away. "No," she said, her voice quiet and unsure, "I don't dance. I've never danced."
She was about to hop away when Hayate yanked her back into his arms. "If I can (cough) mince, you can dance."
So they did.
But not for long. Once of Baki's shadow monsters pulled on Hayate's shadow and quickly dragged him across the bayou, back towards South Konoha. He cried out for Yuugao, Guy, and Lee to help him, but the monsters were too fast. It was only when a beam of light shot out and dissolved the monsters that the prince was set free, falling into the water. He looked up and gasped as the shadow, which looked like a horrible monster.
The shadow laughed heartily, and the person owning the shadow turned out to be a small, elderly woman. "Not bad for a 197-year-old blind lady!" she cackled. "Now then," she continued, looking up towards Yuugao, Guy, and Lee, "which one of you has been out messin' with the Shadow Man?"
They immediately pointed at Hayate.
Over at Mama Chiyo's house, which was actually an abandoned boat stuck in a dead tree, Yuugao tried to get the voodoo witch's attention, but the old woman was too distracted. First, she looked for her little Hiruko, who turned out to be her mechanized assistant. Then, as soon as she offered candy, she fell asleep. Shortly after that, she ran to her big bathtub, which was holding a ton of soup. The four friends questioned if they had found the right person, but she was able to answer that for them.
"Do you know what you need?" she asked. "Or do you just know what you want?"
"What we want and what we need is the same thing," Hayate rationalized. "To (cough) be human!"
Mama Chiyo just laughed. "Look, what you want doesn't matter here. You're blind to what you need! You gotta dig a little deeper to find out what you truly need. Do you understand?"
Yuugao grinned. "I do! I need to work even harder than before to get my restaurant!"
Mama Chiyo smacked her forehead. "Fine," she muttered, "if that's what you truly think you need." She picked up a ladle and stirred the soup in the bathtub until an image of Anko appeared.
Yuugao was confused. "An-chan? What about her?" She watched as the image began to move, revealing Ibiki there, too. He was wearing a crown. "Oh yeah," the little frog realized, "Ibiki is King of the Mardi Gras Parade, so that makes An-chan a princes..."
Hayate cocked his head. "Does that count?"
Mama Chiyo nodded. "But only until midnight. That's when Mardi Gras is over."
"That hardly gives us any time at all!" Yuugao cried out. "Come on, we gotta get outta here! Let's swim!" She, Hayate, and Lee raced out of the house, but Guy stopped them.
"I've got a better idea..."
And the group jumped up onto a riverboat that was cruising down the bayou. Everything seemed okay until a group of jazz musicians came around the corner. Luckily, they were all in costume! They stopped and compliment Guy on his outfit, thinking he was just another musician in an alligator costume. Thrilled with the fact that he could play the trumpet, they invited him to play with the rest of their band. Lee and Yuugao excitedly followed behind, while Hayate waited. He picked up a beaded necklace lying on the deck, pulled one of the beads off, and made a ring out of it.
That night, he sat up on the top floor of the boat and looked up at the sky. "What do I do, Sakura?" he asked. "Why can't I (cough) just tell Yuugao that I love her and will do anything to make her dreams come true?"
"HEY!" Lee shouted, buzzing around Hayate's head. "Eyes off my girl!"
"No, wait, Lee!" the prince nearly begged. "I'm not in love with Sakura; I'm in love with Yuugao!"
The confession made the little firefly squeal with delight. "Aw, that's wonderful! You guys would have such cute tadpoles."
"So I'm not going to marry (cough) Miss Anko," Hayate continued. "I'll find another way to get Yuugao her restaurant. Find a job or something, you know! But don't tell her, okay?" He looked at Lee pleadingly. "I want to tell her..."
Later, he brought Yuugao up to a private table he had made out of teacups and a saucer. She gasped in happy surprise at the sight. "Oh my, no one's ever done something like this for me before..."
"Allow me," Hayate brought her to the table and sat her down, presenting her with a tiny plate of fruit scraps he had minced. He laughed and coughed awkwardly. All of a sudden, he forgot everything he knew about interacting with women. He slipped and fell right onto the table and sent the fruit bits flying when he tried to approach Yuugao, and quite a few comments were rather awkward. "Oh man, I'm (cough) so sorry."
But Yuugao just giggled. "It's okay," she reassured him. "It's cute." She was about to say something else when she spotted something on the shore. "Look!" She hopped to the edge of the deck and sat down, Hayate following right behind her. "That's where I'm gonna have my restaurant. Can't you just picture it all lit up?"
Surprisingly, even though the old warehouse was a mess, Hayate could see it. "Yeah, I can," he sighed happily. "You should make it a fun place (cough) where people can let loose and have a good time."
"I just want people to come and taste our food..."
Yuugao straightened herself up. "Oh, I'm sorry, I meant my daddy. He died a long time ago, and he never got to open his own restaurant. It was our dream to do it together." She sighed and looked back out on the water.
Hayate looked down at the ring he had made sadly. Sighing, he set it aside and turned back to Yuugao with a smile. "Yuugao," he began, "I love...the way you (cough) light up when you talk about your dream. It's so beautiful and I will (cough) do anything to make it a reality." He stopped and stood. "Now...I'll go (cough) get the others." He walked off, not hearing Yuugao murmur that she wasn't sure of what she wanted anymore. She was also unaware that one of the shadow monsters from the bayou had survived and had finally captured Hayate.
Back in South Konoha, Anko knocked at the door where Kabuto was staying. "Prince Hayate!" she called. "You almost ready, darlin'? We don't wanna be late for our Mardi Gras wedding..."
"Uh...just a few more minutes, my dearest!" Kabuto called back, trying to sound as confident as possible. He braced himself against the door when he heard the car start and Anko run towards it. Panicking, he looked up towards Baki, who was practically seething.
"I'm doomed unless I get that froggy prince back!" he growled, punching the wall. Just as he did, the shadow monster appeared out of the chimney, hanging onto Hayate's shadow. The Shadow Man cheered in delight and held out one of his hands.
Hayate went to fight back until he saw who was holding the talisman. "Kabuto..."
"Hold still, Your Highness..."
When the boat docked, Yuugao hopped off it right away, following Guy, who was still playing with the band. "Lee!" she called, catching the firefly's attention. "Oh, Lee, have you seen Hayate?"
Lee was overcome with excitement, bouncing up and down happily. "Where's the ring?"
"Okay, Prince Hayate is not going to marry Miss Anko; he's gonna marry you!" Lee was happy at first but then clamped his mouth shut, realizing what he had just said. "I said too much."
"No, you said just enough, Lee!" the little frog squealed, hopping towards the street. "He was trying to propose. That was why he was so fidgety! Come on, Lee, just look for the biggest, gaudiest float in this parade!" She hopped up to a street sign to avoid the crowds of people. "You should see a Mardi Gras Princess about to kiss...!" She gasped in shock at what she saw on the float. Anko was marrying Prince Hayate...as a human prince! "...a frog."
"What in the...?" Lee panted. "No...Mama Chiyo, she said...!" He stopped when he realized that Yuugao was gone, following her trail into the nearby cemetery. "Yuugao," he tried to say once he found her, "I know what we saw, but we can still make your fairy tale wish come true."
"Just because you wish for something doesn't mean it's true, Lee," the frog snapped harshly. "Just like with your Sakura. She's nothing but a star! A big ball of hot gas a million miles away from us! Open your eyes...before you get hurt." She frowned bitterly and hopped away, leaving Lee in tears.
"She's just heartbroken, Sakura," he sobbed. "Come on, we'll show her the truth..."
Back at the parade, on top of Anko's wedding float, a priest was conducting the ceremony, unaware that the real prince was a little frog locked in a box at Kabuto's feet. Hayate tried to object, but no one could hear him. He tried to move forward with his tongue, but Kabuto stepped on it, forcing it back into his mouth.
That was when Lee appeared. "Prince!" he called into the box. "Are you okay?"
"Help me! Get me out!" Hayate begged, managing to shout without coughing.
"I'm gonna get you out!" The little firefly went straight to work, being small enough to fit inside the locking contraption and undo it. Hayate jumped out just in time to stop the ceremony, shocking Kabuto so much that he fell right off the float and into the street. Baki, who had been watching, clutched the voodoo doll of Ibiki and growled in frustration, diving down to the shadows on the streets.
"You!" Kabuto hissed, grabbing Hayate.
Anko watched in confused awe. "Where are you going, Prince?"
"I just...need a moment to compose myself!" Kabuto ran into the nearby church, ignoring Anko's protests. Once inside, he glared down at the frog. "This is payback for all the years of torture you had me endure..."
"Get yourself back out there!" Baki barked, emerging from the shadows. "Give me the stupid frog and get out there!" He reached for Hayate, but the frog was too quick, pulling the talisman off Kabuto, forcing him back to his usual self. He tossed it to Lee, who had snuck into the church.
"Lee! Take that to (cough) Yuugao!"
Not knowing what else to do, Lee nodded nervous and flew out of the church to the graveyard as fast as he possibly could. He found Yuugao still there and placed the talisman in her hand. "Yuugao, this proves that what we saw was an illusion!"
The little frog didn't know what to make of the thing. "W-What?"
"It was all the Shadow Man's doing!" Lee explained quickly. "You have to get out of here. Go, go! Don't let the Shadow Man get that thing!" He pushed Yuugao off so she could hop away from the newly emerged shadow monsters. Lighting his back end, Lee pounded into them, making their inky darkness disappear. He was just about to go after another one when Baki smacked him at a grave. Injured, the little firefly fell to the ground and was too weak to fly.
Baki snorted and continued through the graveyard.
That was when Guy showed up. Sensing that something was wrong, he had abandoned the musicians and shocked the crowd, showing them that, yes, he was a real alligator. "Lee!" he called, gasping when he found the little creature shriveled up on the ground.
Yuugao had no idea of what had just happened. She hopped through the cemetery as fast as she could, only to be stopped by Baki's shadow. She turned and saw the Shadow Man himself, hoisting the talisman in the air. "Stop it!" she commanded. "Or I'll break this thing into a million pieces!" She went to do so until Baki blew magic powder on her, transforming her back into a human. However, she was dressed elegantly in the finest gown she had ever seen. In front of her was the restaurant she had always wanted. People ate, drank, and laughed together, but none of her friends were anywhere to be seen.
"Now isn't this better than the bayou?" Baki asked as he sipped on some champagne. "Gotta hand it to you, Yuugao," he continued as he set the glass down, "when you dream, you dream big. Just look at this place! It's the finest restaurant in all of Konoha. Heh, and all you need to do to make it happen is give me that little talisman right there."
Yuugao clutched it to her chest. "No," she whispered, "that wouldn't be right."
"Come on, Yuu-chan," Baki said sweetly, "hand it over. Think of everything you've sacrificed. Think of everyone who doubted you. ...Think of your daddy. He was a hard working man, right? He worked long, tough hours, never lettin' anyone know just how tired he was. Shame his dream never left the front porch. But you..." He turned and grinned at the young woman. "You can make all your daddy's dreams come true. Come on, Yuugao, you're almost there..."
Yuugao thought about her father. She missed him so much. He had been the most amazing person in her life, always setting the finest example for how a person should be. Yes, she wanted to give him his restaurant. However, she knew better. "My daddy never did get what he wanted," she said, "but he had what he needed." She took a step back from the Shadow Man and raised the talisman high in the air. "He had love! He never lost sight of what was important, and neither will I!" She went to slam the talisman to the ground, but the shadow grabbed it before it could hit, bringing the trinket back to Baki. The Shadow Man laughed triumphantly and dissolved the illusion, turning Yuugao back into a frog and pounding his cane into her stomach.
"You should have taken my deal, Yuugao," he snickered. "Now you're gonna spend the rest of your life as a slimy, little frog."
Yuugao smirked. "I've got news for you, Shadow Man. It's not slime; it's mucus!" She thrust her tongue out, grabbed a hold of the talisman, and smashed it to the ground, breaking it into multiple little pieces.
Baki cried out in terror as bright lights began to surround him. "No, no!" he screamed, picking up the pieces. "No, how am I gonna repay my debt!" He looked up at the graves and realized that they had all transformed into voodoo monsters. "Friends!"
"ARE YOU READY?"
"No, I'm not ready at all!" Baki gasped. "In fact, I've got lots more plans!"
"ARE YOU READY?"
"No, wait! This is just a minor problem in a major operation. I've still got that frog prince locked away!"
The shadows and voodoo monsters grabbed at Baki and dragged him across the graveyard towards the large idol from his shop. It opened its mouth, ignoring Baki's screams of protest. "I PROMISE I'LL PAY YOU BACK! I PROMIIIIIIIIIISE! NOOOOOOOO!" He fell back into the idol's mouth, and the mouth closed shut, forcing all the monsters to disappear. When the dust settled, Yuugao saw that the grave now said "Baki." She panted heavily and waited, only to realize that she and Hayate were almost out of time. She raced back to the city, where Anko was looking for her prince. What she found was Kabuto.
Anko screamed out in shock and was about to run out of the church when she heard a voice. "Miss Anko! Allow (cough) me to introduce myself!" The little frog jumped up onto a nearby table and turned to her. "I am (cough) the real Prince Hayate!" She smashed a book down on him. "...Of Maldonia."
Then Anko's face lit up. "Did you say 'prince'?" She sat down next to the table and listened to Hayate's story, ignoring the fact that it was almost midnight. "So, if I kiss you," she said, "you'll turn back into a human, and the two of us will get married and live happily ever after, right?"
"...Yeah, more (cough) or less," Hayate shrugged quickly. "But you have to promise me that you'll give Yuugao all the money she needs for her restaurant, because she is my Sakura..."
Anko nodded. "Anything for you, darlin'." She went to kiss him when someone called out for them to stop.
Needless to say, Anko was shocked when she saw her best friend as a frog. "No, I won't let you do this," Yuugao panted.
Hayate shook his head. "It's (cough) the only way to make your dream come true."
"My dream?" Yuugao repeated. "Oh, Hayate...my dream wouldn't be complete without you. I love you, Hayate..."
Anko wiped away the tears running down her cheeks. "Oh my," she gasped happily, trying to compose herself. "All my life, I've heard about fairy tales and true love. Oh, Yuu-chan, you found it! I'll kiss him for you, sweetheart! No marriage required!" She picked up the frog prince and was about the kiss him when the clock struck midnight. She gasped in horror and kissed him several times anyway, but he remained a frog. Disgusted with herself, she set him down next to Yuugao. "I'm so sorry..."
The two frogs looked up to see Guy rushing towards them with something flickering in his hands. He set a horribly injured Lee on the ground, and the little firefly looked up at his friends. "Why...are you...?"
"We're staying frogs, Lee, together," Yuugao nearly sobbed.
Lee just smiled. "I like...that. Sakura...likes that, too."
And his light went out.
A funeral was held in the bayou. All of Lee's friends set him in a small leaf out on the water, watching him until he disappeared into the fog. Yuugao could barely hold back her tears as she looked up to the sky, only to realize something.
"Oh, my God," she gasped, "look..."
Everyone looked up, only to realize that a second star was right next to the Evening Star! Right next to Sakura! The thousands of fireflies cheered for their friend, for he had found his happiness. Hayate and Yuugao embraced, knowing what they had to do.
The next morning, Mama Chiyo conducted the most beautiful wedding for the two of them. "By the power vested in my, I know pronounce you frog and wife!" she cackled happily. "Go on, you may kiss!"
Hayate and Yuugao looked at each other, huge smiles on their faces, and kissed, causing bright lights and sparkles to shoot out across the bayou. Mama Chiyo cheered excitedly. "THIS IS GONNA BE GOOD!"
When the happy couple pulled away, they realized that they were back to normal! They were humans again, dressed in beautiful wedding attire! The fireflies, Guy, and all the other creatures of the bayou cheered for them as they embraced.
"I told you!" Mama Chiyo laughed. "You now know what you needed!"
"Once you became my wife," Hayate realized, clutching Yuugao's hands, "you became...!"
"A princess!" Yuugao finished. "Your cold went away, too! Ha ha! You just kissed yourself a princess!"
"And," Hayate whispered, "I'm about to do it again." And he did.
A real wedding was then held back in South Konoha. Kurenai was overjoyed that her daughter had found someone to love. The King and Queen were thrilled that their son had learned about what was really important in life. The newlyweds ran out of the church, underneath an arch made by the soldiers and their swords. Yuugao tossed the bouquet back, and Anko cheered when she caught it.
That very same day, Yuugao and Hayate presented all the money asked for to the real estate agents, who finally handed over the key (after Guy had scared them nearly to death with a growl). The couple, now the proud owners of that warehouse, worked for months on end, and, soon enough, it quickly became the most popular, best restaurant in all of South Konoha. People from all corners of the country came to it and gave it rave reviews. The food was absolutely delicious, and the atmosphere was fun and energetic while still being classy and elegant. When guests weren't eating, they were dancing to Guy and his new jazz band, with Hayate playing his ukulele by his side. Yuugao even danced up on stage in front of everyone while Anko danced out on the dance floor below.
"Who'd have thought the prince would have a younger brother?" she laughed. "Uh, how old did you say you were?"
The little boy looked up at her with innocent eyes. "I'm six and a half!"
Anko shrugged. "Well, I've waited this long!"
Hayate and Yuugao danced out onto the balcony of their restaurant and shared a kiss under the light provided by Sakura and Lee.
"Dreams do come true in South Konoha!
And they all lived happily ever after.