Ranma ½

Love Note

Usual disclaimer: I don't own any of these characters, well with the exception of Trista, Sira, Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Epsilon I suppose, but you get the idea. Any resemblance to Ranma ½ or Death Note is purely intentional, and the rest of that jazz.

For the purposes of this story, any text within single quotes like 'this' is considered a thought.

Chapter 21

With the kids off at school, and the morning chores complete, Genma and Soun settled in for their usual Shogi game. In truth, both were rather bad at the game. It was more a test of their skills of deception and manipulation to see how much cheating they could get away with. Today, however, it was serving its other purpose, something to do while they discussed important matters.

"I was truly hoping this whole situation would go unnoticed until it resolved peaceably," Genma said as he moved his piece.

Soun nodded and moved in response. "You and me both, Saotome. What a mess!"

"How long did you know?" Genma asked.

"Some while now. That boy wasn't very subtle with his transformations sometimes," Soun answered. "You?"

"Not that long, but I always suspected he had a curse. Honestly, I was a bit of a dolt for not figuring it out sooner," Genma admitted. "Think we should have intervened?"

"To what end?" Soun said with a sigh. "By the time I figured it out, the damage was already done. Any intervention would have ended in the same result."

Genma nodded in agreement. "Think she'll get over it?"

Soun frowned. "Before this whole Cupid mess, maybe. Now..."

"I think we better start facing facts, Tendo. We might have to match the boy up with Kasumi instead," Genma suggested.

Soun continued his frown. "I don't know. Let's not make any rash calls and just let things play out for now."

Genma nodded. "Very well. If things do go... sideways, what of Akane? She seems to be into that Amazon boy, Mousse."

Soun crossed his arms as Genma considered his move. "I don't know. I suppose she could certainly do worse, but he seems to have eyes for no one but Shampoo."

"True, true," Genma replied. "But, if what L said is true, then despite that they may be very compatible."

"Hmm, yes," Soun replied. "Well, joining the two schools is what matters most. If things do turn out that way, then I suppose I could be open to him. It is ultimately up to Akane."

"Yes," Genma said and placed his piece to pin Soun in much to his friend's shock.

"Wait, do over!"

XXXXX

Delta groaned as he stretched within his seat within the Van. "I hate waiting," he muttered as he reset his posture. Behind him, monitoring her computer feed was Beta who only nodded silently. "I'm going with the guy in 306."

"205," Beta replied simply.

"Her? Why?"

"Because it isn't 306," Beta replied with a devious smile which Delta laughed at.

"Fair enough," he said. "How much longer?"

"Don't know. Just keep a lookout. I'll... wait, activity!" Beta announced.

"Finally!" Delta said as he pulled out a pair of binoculars and began scanning a distant building. "Nothing suspicious right now. 306 dark. 205 dark too."

"Still daytime, so no need for lights," Beta replied. "I'll tell you when the line goes quiet. Hopefully then."

"Right," he said and lowered his binoculars to wait.

Several minutes passed before Beta announced the line going silent, and Delta took up his scan once more. Two minutes later a door opened. "Rats! I lose!" He said, but smiled.

"205?" Beta asked.

"Yep, she's on the move. Damn she's hot!"

"Hey, keep your head in the game, not in your pants!" Beta complained.

"Yeah, yeah. Still nothing from 306. I'm thinking we got her," Delta declared. "Shall I call it in?"

Beta contemplated and nodded. "Yeah, go for it. If she follows yesterday's pattern, she'll be out for hours."

"Right," Delta replied and got on his phone. "Boss! We think we got it!"

Much to both's shock, the door to the van opened and Gamma replied, both into his phone and to them directly, "Excellent!"

"Jesus! How long you been there?!" Delta exclaimed.

"Just a few seconds. I calculated this is when you would discern the proper place and timed my arrival for this moment," Gamma replied. "Shall we go?"

Delta sighed and looked to Beta who likewise sighed and stowed her laptop before the pair joined Gamma outside the van and began their approach of the apartment building. "Still feels risky doing this in the open," Delta said.

"Beta has already confirmed there are no security feeds in the area. It would be more suspicious to approach non casually," Gamma countered. "If L is able to counter this, I will have even greater appreciation for his talents, but I doubt he has planned for this so early."

"Right, right," Delta said as they climbed to the second floor and came to the door in question. Delta looked over the lock and smirked. "Psh, 5 pin tumbler with no security pins? Why even bother locking it?" He muttered as he brought out a locking picking set and started to work. "Let's see, nothing on one... three's good..."

"You into lockpicking too?" Beta asked with a frown.

"It's a hobby. Was thinking of starting a how to video series... maybe a video critique of locks... and open!" he announced as the door was pulled open. "Additional security?"

"Nothing wireless," Beta declared. "And I already blocked anything net based. We should be good."

"Double check there wasn't any attempts," Gamma said as he stepped inside followed by Delta. "Hmm," he muttered and immediately fell to the floor and began moving about the room almost as if he was some kind of insect.

Beta entered last and watched this particular scene with a flat look. She and Delta exchanged looks then shrugged and began searching as well.

After several minutes, Beta and Delta returned to the main room, both shaking their heads. "Nothing?" Delta asked, but already knew the answer.

"Nadda. Not even a smart coffee maker!" Beta complained, taking notice of Gamma in his folded up sitting position on one of the kitchen's chairs.

"Guess we were wrong," Delta said with a sigh.

"No," Gamma interjected, but did not look at them, and simply maintained his posture.

"No?" Delta echoed. "Where is it then?"

Gamma shifted his eyes to Delta for an instant but said nothing causing Delta to sigh and reexamine the room. "I don't see anything."

"You are only looking for the obvious. Think... like a designer."

"A designer?" Delta echoed in confusion. "A home designer?" He asked and Gamma nodded ever so slightly causing Delta and Beta to both frown and look about. After a minute Delta raised a hand to point. "Wait... This bulkhead..." he said and rushed to a nearby hall. "Yeah, no closet. It is way too big to just be for ducting."

"Exactly. It is about the right size for a computer terminal and chair," Gamma replied.

"Which means," Beta said and started searching the area in question. "The entrance should be... right about... here!" she declared as she traced a faint seam. "Damn! Now how do we open it?"

"I doubt we can, at least not nondestructively," Gamma replied. "It likely uses a wireless signal to open the room. Most likely one of the most up to date versions, meaning even a copy of the signal won't do. It is likely a disposable encrypted token."

"Ugh!" Beta replied in disappointment. "No way I'll be able to crack that any time soon," Beta said with a sigh.

"I thought as much, but there are other ways. I find it curious, actually, that L does not have surveillance within. It seems like a serious security lapse for him."

"Well, it is a lady's home, right?" Delta replied, causing Gamma to finally break his posture and look directly at him. "What?"

"You truly think L would let such notions of modesty affect his judgment?" Gamma asked.

"Well... I don't know. Most the ladies I know would get seriously pissed if they found out they were being oogled on camera."

"Yeah," Beta concurred.

"Curious," Gamma replied and considered. "Perhaps just so. However, we are under no such restrictions. Spacing must be tight within. Place some monitoring equipment to get the best audio and video you can from out here of the inside, but obviously be discrete."

Beta considered, looking around. "Right... won't be able to get any good cameras in here that will go unnoticed, maybe something but... a mic shouldn't be much of a problem. We'll have to pick up some stuff though."

"Do so quickly. I will remain here."

"Uh... right," Beta said, and, with a sideways look at Delta who merely shrugged, led the way out.

Gamma considered the situation once alone. 'Are you slipping a bit, L? Or is this woman someone special to you that you would consider her discomfort? Hmm... interesting...'

XXXXX

Across town, at Furinkan High, it was lunch time and Akane was sitting by the window with her friends, looking down at the grounds below only half caring about either the conversation around her, or the sight before her.

Around her, her friends were discussing the big reveal that Akane had likewise revealed to them. She was well past the point of having any interest in shielding Ryoga. No, he had burned up all of her good will in that regard. Still, feelings were a bit mixed.

"I mean, I know it's a creeper move, but Akane said he didn't do anything overt, right Akane?" Sayuri asked to which Akane only mutely nodded as she watched outside as Kuno approach an unaware Ranma from behind, a full bucket in one hand, and a kettle in the other, followed closely by Sasuke.

"Overt?! You don't call tricking his way into her bed an overt act?!" Yuka countered.

"Well... I suppose," Sayuri was forced to concede just as Kuno dumped the water over Ranma, shocking him, or rather now her, to jump to her feet and face Kuno. "But, you know boys, and he in particular seems like the real impressionable sort."

"Impressionable?" Yuka puzzled back. "How does that change anything?"

Akane paid the argument little mind, having already had it with herself. Instead she focused on the happenings below where after Ranma consented to being returned to male form, Kuno repeated the transformation once again, confirming it. With the second return to Ranma's male form, Kuno tossed both kettle and bucket to either side, knelt down and spoke to Sasuke, reaching out with his hand up in anticipation of receiving something.

"I mean, he seems kinda... broken, you know, and with a curse like that... I'm sure any positive attention to him was overwhelming," Sayuri argued.

Below Sasuke was in tears as he handed over a Tanto blade and Ranma immediately went into action, trying to grab the blade, but Sasuke managed to keep it while Kuno rebuffed him.

"Tch, sure, maybe, but that hardly makes up for it! He's had months and months to come clean, and nothing!"

"Okay, yeah, but put yourself in his shoes. You really think after doing that for a while you could come clean so easily?"

Ranma and Kuno continued talking, Ranma clearly becoming cocky and flippant, infuriating Kuno who jumped to his feet with his bokken at the ready. Ranma smirked and beckoned Kuno on, dodging away as Kuno went on the attack, the Tanto apparently completely forgotten.

"I... okay, maybe not, but just because it isn't easy doesn't mean he shouldn't have done it," Yuka conceded.

Ranma fled to the wall of the school, taunting Kuno who yelled at him before Ranma just smiled confidently and departed. Kuno, smashed the wall where Ranma had been in frustration then ordered Sasuke to follow as he too departed in the opposite direction.

'He would rather Kuno hate him and try to get revenge,' Akane concluded her cold expression softening as she thought this. 'I think I understand. Still... does it matter?' Akane shook her head and turned back to her friends. "Let's talk about something else. I'm sick of thinking about it."

XXXXX

'How very... vexing,' L thought as he looked over the latest report. As he had predicted, B had indeed made a second move, and quite likely a third. The second had been easy enough to detect, too easy in fact. B would never make such an obvious ploy his main avenue of attack. The third level was more iffy though. It could simply be a bank error in one case, and a series of odd but ultimately innocent transactions in another, but it could also be signs of compromise. Still, it was known and he could easily isolate the parties involved while keeping tabs on them. Unfortunately, that wasn't the vexing part. The vexing part was more psychological in nature.

B was L's defacto backup. The letter was a coincidence. Years ago, when L started his career as a detective and became very successful, Watari had convinced him to look for potential replacements should something happen. It seemed a wise precaution at the time, and so L had devised a sort of test. It was not a test one took, but rather a test of the available data on a subject. In compiled all manner of factors together into a singular score, calculated to select the best replacement candidates for the job. B had scored 2nd best of all the candidates, and as such had been assigned that letter for his further training.

Sadly, only later did L learn his test was deeply flawed. Oh, to be sure it highlighted some truly promising people, but it also did not consider some very important factors. A, the highest score candidate was proof enough of this, having been broken by the intense training and having committed suicide. A sad outcome to such a promising young candidate, and one that made L aware that his test was not as complete as he had imagined.

Naturally, B, as the 2nd highest took over the lead position, but he too started showing signs of unsuitability. Oh, he was a genius no doubt, and could see things that even L sometimes missed, but he had several glaring issues. Perhaps the most alarming was his odd interest in death. He did not follow the typical pattern of a serial killer or the like, but his fatalistic outlook on the topic was very troubling. Of A's death in particular B dismissed it simply as 'fate'. L had already predicted, with over a 90% chance, that B would one day begin killing himself if he continued down this path.

'Still, even if I am right, he is years too early for such an outcome,' L thought as he tossed another sugar cube into his mouth. 'No, right now, my problem is far simpler than dealing with a hyper intelligent killer, yet far more troublesome. Just when do I declare I am ahead of him?' L thought with a frown.

'He's been trained to think just like me, and as such every action could be a feint, or real but disguised as a feint. Every failure could be anticipated, or a miscalculation, or even not a failure at all, but a success disguised as a failure. Unfortunately, that makes it all too easy to assume B is always a step ahead of me, and that every plot I detect is simply one used to conceal the next. It is a mental trap I cannot let myself fall into,' he thought. 'Still, my instincts are telling me B still has other cards to play. Unfortunately, though, I don't know what they are.'

"You seem perplexed," Watari said as he presented L with a cup of tea.

"Trying to outthink B is very trying. Our efforts to conceal our candidate's identity from even ourselves are coming back to bite us, I'm afraid. If I had a firmer psychological profile I could better know his limits, but as is..." L said as he began to drink.

"Yes," Watari said with a sad shake of his head. "The procedures for the first group were sadly deficient."

L nodded. "Nothing to be done about it now but to deal with the outcome. B is intelligent to be sure, but he knows he is attacking from outside. That is why he has enlisted the aid of organized crime elements, and has set his sights on me, to obtain information he lacks. He makes up for his lack of manpower with an unrestricted set of available approaches, and his late entry by attempting to force his way into the situation. It is how I would approach things in his shoes, but therein lies the problem... I would never have tried knowing full well that success was virtually impossible. This can mean only two things, he has concluded differently..."

"Or he is in possession of something you are not aware of," Watari concluded for L, and the detective nodded. "Are you certain you wish to keep Maho out of this?"

"For now, yes. B is still circling, as it were, looking for an opening. That I am sure of. It is best, then, that I let Maho focus on Cupid while keeping much of my attention on B to keep him at bay. His choice of companions, I am quite certain, will eventually lead to his undoing. If nothing else, I need only wait for them to slip up and reveal him to me. Still, when such a slip up will occur is unknown."

Watari nodded in acceptance of this. "Speaking of Cupid, have either of you made any progress?"

L shook his head. "Unfortunately, not as much as I hoped. The microphones in the Tendo home have picked up nothing but idle chatter so far, and while I have whittled down the suspect pool of our 3rd Cupid, it is still quite large. If I had the full power of the Japanese Police at my disposal, still, it would not matter, but as limited as I am, investigating each is proving very time consuming, especially given I must shelter here. This 3rd Cupid's ability to use their power without a name is very..."

"Annoying?" Watari offered, and L nodded. Watari chuckled. "This has all gotten me thinking, should the worst happen, I might find myself smitten by some fair maid."

L turned from the computer screens. "Perhaps. There are certainly worse fates, I suppose."

"Yes. Still, since it seems this power tends to select for those who are compatible, just what type of woman do you think would catch my interest?"

L fell into thought. "Likely someone of a dignified and dedicated persona."

"You think?" Watari asked, but did not wait for an answer. "Ah, I suppose you're right. As interesting as a party girl would be, I suspect I would tire err long."

L let a rare smile cross his face as Watari laughed at the thought.

Watari returned to his other duties as L finished his tea and thought. 'He didn't ask the natural next question. Who would I find compatible? A woman of unparalleled intellect no doubt,' he thought but shook his head. 'No. While I might find such a woman an invaluable ally, I believe I would bore of them too easily in a personal capacity. So then, who? Perhaps someone of a more unique mind set, one not necessarily smart, but showing such a different world view from my own that they can open my eyes to things I never appreciated before,' L thought. As he thought this, he could not help but see the parallels to a person he already knew.

L shook his head, dismissing the thought and turned back to the computer screen. 'I have no time for such things,' he thought.

XXXXX

With the school day coming to a close, Akane was on her way home, and as with other recent days, Ranma had chosen, wisely, to do so separately. Still, Akane's fury had subsided substantially.

As she pondered her life, she noticed Mousse waiting at a street corner ahead of her. Seeing him sent the usual mix of feelings off within her, but she also knew why he was likely here which just annoyed her.

"Akane!" he greeted and rushed over to join her.

Akane merely nodded in greeting and did not even break pace as she continued on. Before he could even speak, she intercepted his intentions. "Don't even start. Anything you say on the matter would just make me madder."

Mousse sagged at hearing this and simply fell into step beside her. A minute passed in silence until Akane asked, "Did you know?"

"I... sorta knew. I knew he was cursed, but I never knew he was sleeping with you," Mousse replied, getting a suspicious look from Akane. "I... honestly, I never thought much about it."

"Why's that?" Akane asked.

Mousse considered his words. "You know I don't like Ranma. He was kind of a... ally against him."

Akane huffed, and returned her attention to the road ahead. 'I suppose I understand that. I mean, seriously, how much do I really know about Shampoo or Ukyo or Kodachi. Not much really. I only concern myself with what matters to me.' Akane hung her head. "If you did know..."

Mousse hesitated at the implied question, but soon answered. "I would have told you," he answered.

'Would he really? I don't know if that's true.'

Unexpectedly, Mousse spoke up once more. "Maybe... in Ranma's shoes I wouldn't have, I can't be sure. I would have done everything I could to stop Ryoga, though," Mousse added with a sigh. "It is exactly this sort of thing that makes Ranma totally... totally... BAH!" Mousse declared, clenching his fist in front of him in frustration.

'That I can believe,' Akane thought and nodded in acceptance of his words. 'That's just it, though. Mousse just thinks about the person he wants and to hell with everything else. Ranma... doesn't. Maybe that's a good thing about him, but right now... damn it, I expected something else.' Akane once more looked at Mousse in consideration then back at the street. 'I just don't know.'

Beside her, Mousse sensed she had no more words and simply escorted her home in silence.

XXXXX

'This video feed is near useless,' Gamma thought as he monitored the video of the Tendo home. The angle gave only a view of the pond area and common room, which naturally any person wanting to hide their private matters would never use for anything of substance. Add to that, the zoom was set to minimum so even Gamma's eyes could not discern the names of those within, not that it was hard to puzzle out who was who. Unfortunately, although in theory Gamma could bypass the controls and zoom in, any such bypass while someone was present on screen would quickly alert L to his video being compromised. Add to this, if anything did happen in the common room, due to that direct control L possessed, there was no delay, so any information gained would be gained by both simultaneously. Sadly, there was nothing to be done but to work with what he had.

The audio, so far, had been equally fruitless. It wasn't like he expected Cupid to just come out and admit it, but something would be nice. The most he got was a few mutterings from various residents to themselves which were hardly conclusive. Still, he had to be ever vigilant. Unlike L, who would no doubt monitor the feeds recorded, Gamma did not have the luxury. With only a 15 minute window to intervene, he had to monitor the feeds live, listening for anything suspicious in multiple rooms, while simultaneously watching the video. It was taxing, even for him.

'I'm beginning to wonder if I blundered into a trap set by L... no, he could not have predicted my actions that well. Still, even I can't keep this up indefinitely. I may have to accept simply a copy of information that L possesses, rather than denying it to him," he considered with a frown.

'What is it, exactly, about this family that L is interested in? Surely one or more of them are suspects, but current ones or old ones. He hasn't adjusted the camera the whole time I've monitored, so this could simply be an old feed he has not bothered to sever. No, he's too diligent to do that. That would be a waste of resources, so he still has interest here. The question is in who or what?'

Within there were many interesting parties. First there was the Tendo family, Soun, and his three daughters. Then there was the Saotomes, Genma and his son Ranma, who were apparently long term residents of the premises on the grounds that Ranma was engaged to Akane, and Soun and Genma were old martial arts training partners. Lastly was a particular old man of particularly perverted persuasion. They had definitely been touched by Cupid's activity, with the engagement between Akane and Ranma now strained to its very limits, but Gamma cared not for that. Surely there were hundreds of such family situations damaged by Cupid's power. What had made this one so interesting to L?

'The curses perhaps?' Gamma considered but almost immediately dismissed such. 'Interesting, no doubt, but L briefed us on the existence of magic, so while a curiosity, it hardly deserves attention during such an important case. There has to be more.'

As Gamma pondered this, unexpectedly, the camera adjusted, quickly gaining his full attention. It zoomed in, focusing on the dinner table as the occupants of the house gathered. 'Oh, why the sudden interest, L?' Gamma thought, quickly going over everything that just happened but nothing came to mind as particularly unusual. 'Wait, I'm overthinking things. Remember, L tends to closely monitor recordings, not live feeds. Perhaps he is just adjusting to better catch later activity, or has taken a temporary interest.'

Seeing nothing of substance, Gamma was about to conclude it was all irrelevant when his eyes went wide as the latest person took a seat. 'It can't be... it is... she has no death date!' Gamma focused intently on the young woman in question, a small smile beginning to spread across his face. 'Nabiki Tendo... I have you, dear Cupid!'

End Chapter 21

Friendly little call out to a certain individual on youtuber this chapter, wonder if anyone can guess...