A Fox in Wolves Clothing

Chapter 2

Ranma headed off to the Tendo's in a much worse mood than he'd been in earlier. Who was that woman, really? And what the heck is this, B S D she was hunting down? He was starting to become tired of all this chaos that seemed to surround him all the time. Actually, as he thought about it, he didn't mind. It made him better at what he did. What he was getting tired of was having his friends and loved ones get into danger. That kinda cheesed him off. And if Ukyou might be in danger, that meant she was in danger. Now she was a pretty good martial artist. Even better than Akane. But she seemed pretty scared, like that time they were hunting down that ghost at Furinkan. She'd been the first to volunteer for it, but then was nearly shaking in her boots when the time came to actually face it down. He supposed it certainly gave her credit. After all, being prepared to face something your afraid of takes a lot more guts than facing something your not. His experience with the neko-ken sure taught him that.

But if Ukyou was scared just from the mentioning of such things... Whatever it was, it must be bad. Maybe he could track down Tsubasa and ask him about it. He knew Ukyou just before she came to Nerima.

Before he could make any other information gathering plans, he was splashed. By the ladle-lady. Again.

"Ooh, sorry deary... My old eyes aren't what they used to be..." She smiled apologetically. Ranma was certain she did it on purpose. Ever since she first came here, that lady would take every chance she had to splash him. Ranma, now female, just sighed.

"It's ok, Mrs. Yamazaki. It was bound to happen some time or another..." And this is where Ranma made the mistake many people make, unknowingly and completely innocently. She opened up a conversation with an elderly woman.

"Well, I'm glad to see you looking on the positive side! Better it happen now rather than later, yes? I was just cleaning up everything for when my grand niece comes to visit tomorrow! In fact, I was hoping to maybe have someone show her around town. She's from Osaka, and has been out of the country for a while... Perhaps you or your nice friend Akane could show her around?"

Ranma fidgeted for a little while, unsure of what to say. On the one hand, she couldn't say no, as it would be terribly rude. On the other hand, Akane would flip her lid if she knew some young, possibly attractive grand niece needed to be shown around town by her fiance. Decisions, decisions...

"Er..Well, I'm sure one of us will be able to tomorrow! It IS Spring vacation, after all!"

"Oh excellent! Please come by around four o'clock. She'll be so happy to have the best martial artists in town show her around!"

Ranma smiled and nodded, quickly bowing and making her retreat before the woman wanted to speak more. The last time she'd roped her into talking, she hadn't left that woman's sidewalk for three hours!

"Yeah, sure... Anyway, I'm sure you have lots of cleaning to do, and I'm expected back at the Tendo's, so...So long!"

Breathing a sigh of relief as she exited the 'chatting/splash zone', Ranma continued on her way. Thinking to herself, she decided that something was definitely up. First a meeting of old friends at Ucchan's... Now she has to babysit someone's grand-niece for an afternoon... Unless she could get Akane to do it. She could just say she was asked to ask her. Yeah... That could work.

Happy with her new solution, she strolled through the front door of the dojo, calling out a joyful "I'm home!" as she took off her shoes. Her joy was short-lived though, as a demon-headed Soun immediately greeted her .

"WHERE WERE YOU LAST NIGHT RANMA!?" The large head demanded, striking a bit of fear and shock to the pseudo-girl's system.

Reflexively shifting her hands to warding signs, Ranma yelped in surprise as she reflexively backed away from the angry visage of Soun Tendo.

"I was sleepin' at the campsite! Why, whatsa matter? What'd I do!?"

Calming down and dissipating his dreaded demon head, Soun raised his fist as tears poured down his face, preparing his sad narrative.

"Last night, Akane was nearly kidnapped! She showed up this morning with ill-fitting clothes, and who knows where she was or what happened! You should have been there, Ranma!"

Ranma quickly attempted to ease the situation through conversational means so as to keep the owner of her current home in a somewhat docile mood. That being, she immediately stood face to face with Mr. Tendo, raising her left pointer finger for greater emphasis upon her words as she defended herself verbally nose to nose.

"Now how tha heck am I supposed ta protect somebody if I don't even know they're in danger? I was out trainin'! Now I'm kinda tired, and would like to take a bath and change! You and pops can berate me once he gets back!"

With that, Ranma headed upstairs to the bath, leaving a seething Soun Tendo where he stood. She sighed as she opened up the main door, taking off her clothes and throwing them to the side, she walked up to the second door leading to the bath and opened it. Too tired to be aware that another had already made their presence known by way of a handy sign stating "occupied".

An all too familiar scene awaited her. There was Akane, sitting in the bath, glaring daggers at her. Ranma immediately grimaced as Akane growled.

"GET OUT!"

Seeing a very irate Akane who not only was glowing red, which was usual for this type of situation, but also seemed to physically become larger, Ranma immediately apologized, shut the door, put all of her clothes on and headed out of the bath room. Sighing in relief that Akane didn't go critical on her cranium, Ranma decided to head to her room and read some of her old manga until Akane was out of the bath. Then, after Akane beat the crap out of her, she could relax and change forms. And maybe figure out that whole growing bigger with the aura thing. Maybe she should find her old dragon ball z mangas just to check for ideas...

"Home sweet home..." She mumbled to herself as she perused her meager selection of reading material usually reserved for when she had to meet Ryouga in a duel.

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"And that's how I got a cross-dressing ninja who worships the ground I walk on..."

Mitsune smirked as she listened to the last of the tale. It was good her old sidekick was still keeping in training. She could probably do fair good bit of damage with her spatula, though she'd like to spar with her to see just how well she could handle herself. She'd have to get her weapons away for her first, of course... Then, on to hand to hand combat! Her eyes glazed over a bit as she imagined the spar, two young maidens locked in a battle of wills, trading blows, ignoring all of the rain and mud they were covered in as they passionately-

"Mitsune! Hey, I'd like to know just what YOUR story is, please!"

Shaking her head out of the delightful little place she'd gone to, Mitsune rejoined the real world and realized it was time to fill Ukyou in on everything since she'd seen her last. Cocking her head to the side in thought, she wasn't certain where to start or how in depth Ukyou would want it. After two seconds, she decided on simplicity. She didn't need to impress Ukyou, and only were-wolves like the whole "dramatic oratory" thing anyway.

"Oh, well... Nothing that much to say, really. With Lin's death, I went to her old home in America to finalize her will and used her lands as a headquarters for my quest. Travelled around a good deal, actually. America, Europe, Egypt, -the pyramids are pretty cool, by the way... Eventually I tracked down the cat that betrayed us outside of a small town in Nevada. Popped her one, right through the heart." She cocked her hand as though firing a gun for extra emphasis.

"Wait, you SHOT her?"

Mitsune was taken aback by Ukyou's reaction. Perhaps she SHOULD have gone with the dramatic oratory. Though to be honest, most of her friends in the Furies didn't think much of that, either. Oh sure, they loved how she interrogated some young vampires, and delighted in her tale of fighting off those nasty Fomori on her way to the cemetery. But she was tired! She had a gun! And a wicked cool poncho and sombrero! She thought it suited the situation quite well!

"Yeah, I shot her! I knew it was her, so I faced her and shot the Bitch! Do you actually think I was going to fully announce myself, discuss my reasons for hunting her down and have a little 'chat'? Get real! She was my enemy, not my therapist!"

Ukyou continued to look dumbstruck at her old sempai's actions. It was unthinkable! Mitsune was a god enough martial artist that she didn't need to use guns...What if she brought a gun into Japan? That would lead to trouble, for sure! And with how Mitsune could be, there could be a lot of dead-

"Oi! Ukyou-kun! It was the Wild West! I used a gun. It only seemed fitting, considering the environment, the history, my vendetta... Why, it was just like one of those old westerns! I faced her, and drew my pistol! Bam! Vengeance was mine! 'It's just been revoked', bitch!" Mitsune chuckled at her own little joke as Ukyou still stared at her with her mouth agape.

"Hey, I still gave her a proper burial and all that. Course, it did help that we were in a graveyard... And that she was standing over an open grave for some woman named Schultz... There was this nice coyote there who'd watched the entire scene. Said it was rather anti-climactic... After-all, someone from the orient executing a thief with hardly a word in? He wanted kung-fu and swarthy words exchanged... He was pretty disappointed. He was apparently looking to get a piece of her hide, as well... Meh..." She omitted the part where they 'sparred' for a bit, ignoring the fact that the coyote had needed the woman alive in order to find the location of some ancient artifact she'd stolen. But she'd beaten him down, gave him the locations of all the dead woman's fencers Mitsune knew of, and that was that.

"Any-who, I got in touch with my great-aunt, who's told me a little bit about everything that's been happening, and she was kind enough to relate to me the rumor that a very dark wolf has been seen lurking about. Apparently killed a were-rat or three and called herself Usnil... She was inquiring about Furies and what-not, which is rather unusual, since I'm the only japanese Black Fury in existence, and an adopted one at that... So I hopped on the next flight out and here I am!"

"Sempai...You didn't bring any guns, did ya sugar?"

Mitsune rolled her eyes and shook her head. Really! You shoot ONE enemy in the desert during a moment of cold, cruel calculation, and nobody forgets it!

"Get real, dear Chef. This is HER we're talking about. She may be twisted and evil... But she at least deserves a proper duel to the death ranging from one end of town to the other in a massive fit of destructive fury... And Nerima's perfect for that, right? Besides... There's a family in town that Usnil is probably keeping an eye on, just as the hengeyokai have been doing. I hear one's a very good prospect for an awakening. She's got Black Fury written all over her from what I hear..."

Ukyou was about to inquire as to just who this might be when the front door opened up and a very feminine ninja carrying a large load of supplies came through the door.

"Ukyou-sama, why was the door locked? Aren't we supposed to be open to get more customers?" The ninja asked softly as 'she' deftly shut the doors with 'her' foot. As Konatsu neared the counter, Mitsune couldn't help but eye the figure as she swayed towards the back of the restaurant.

"My, my! What a beautiful kunoichi you have, Ukyou-kun!"

Said kunoichi blushed as he put the supplies down and took a look at the flattering stranger. She felt pretty strong, and sat confidently. He found himself looking into her eyes, and found them to be a little haunted. Friendly enough, but those eyes had seen things. They were Ukyou's eyes. They were Ranma's eyes. This woman was dangerous. After a moment, he immediately realized his faux pas in direct eye contact and immediately went into service mode.

"I apologize! I hadn't realized Ukyou-sama had a guest! I'll just head into the back and stock the supplies, Ukyou-sama!" With that, he swiftly retreated into the back to perform his duties. Mitsune happily watched him leave, her eyes never leaving his feminine backside until it was hidden by the door.

"Konatsu's a guy, Sempai! You wouldn't be interested!"

"Oh, I dunno. We both know a little bit of water could change that... It could really make her day. And mine, too!"

"Sempai! You're incorrigible!"

"I know... I'm terrible. Well, I suppose I should be off. It's been a while since I slept, and it's late enough in the afternoon that a good rest will help put me on Japan's schedule!" Mitsune grabbed her helmet and headed towards the door. She stopped before exiting and placed what looked to Ukyou to be a ward of some kind on the door. She turned her head and addressed Ukyou once more.

"Seriously, though. If you see her, run. Come find me. It's not like it was in Osaka. No sentai, no butch werewolf to bail you out. Don't go to Ranma first. Find me. I'll see you around, Ukyou-kun." With that said, she finally left.

Konatsu then came out of the back, having heard every word from his vigil of eavesdropping at the door.

"Is something amiss, mistress? Are you in danger?"

Ukyou simply sighed and cleaned her grill, heavy in thought.

"Yes, Konatsu. But there's not much we can do about it. It's personal. And best if we just try to stay out of the way."

"What is the matter, Mistress? I can't help if I don't know..." Konatsu pressed the issue, but Ukyou was having none of it.

"Not right now, Konatsu. I'm heading upstairs. We're closed for the rest of the day."

"But it's only three-thirty! What of the evening rush?" Konatsu received no reply as he watched Ukyou head up to her room on the second floor. Outside, a motorcycle could be heard revving up and taking off into the distance.

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Ukyou wasn't very pleased at her old sempai's words. As she trudged up the stairs, her mind was haunted by some of the memories Mitsune brought up. There were some fun times. Cooking for Mitsune and Lin Su. Once or twice she even got to sell okonomiyaki to Mitsune's were-creature friends, that sentai she tagged along with.

Once in her room, she locked her door and reached into her dresser, taking out an old picture she hadn't looked at since she came to Nerima. It was of her, Mitsune and Lin Su. They were all at the park, laughing at some tale Mitsune had told, no doubt. She was cooking okonomiyaki. One or two of the sentai were in the background. That nice Were-tiger woman had taken the picture. This was before all the nastiness happened. Sure, Ukyou had tagged along with Mitsune a few times on one or two little "missions". They'd been simple enough. But as time went on, Mitsune had insisted she stay behind. Ukyou hadn't, most of the time. The things she saw, had to fight off... But she'd always been willing to look into the shadows. She still was. She'd continued following when she could. Much to her sorrow, she had been there when the sentai went into those awful caves, crawling with tainted spider spirits and who knows what else.

Shaking her head, she put the photograph back where it belonged. Buried in her sock drawer. Still, the images and memories rang through her being, causing a shiver down her spine. Mitsune explained that she was supposed to have forgotten. That the veil always took hold and covered a human's memories over like a... well like a veil. But it hadn't happened for her. She was able to remember those awful things. She had fought them. She had to be saved by Mitsune, sure, but she'd been able to stand up to them. She wished she could forget. It was one of the reasons she stopped her training by the sea-side and went off to fight Ranma and his father. She'd fought hell-spawn, after all. She could very well deal with a stupid man and his son...

Ukyou sighed as she fell back on her futon, considering everything that Mitsune's presence meant in the here and now.

Now Mitsune had her eye on Ranma. That wasn't good for him. And Lin Su was here. That wasn't good for anybody. If Lin Su really had been twisted, turned evil by whatever darkness there was out in the world, everyone was in a lot of trouble. Mitsune couldn't take on Lin Su. The woman fought with a passion and beat Mitsune in every spar they had. Ukyou knew. She'd seen it. It was like Ranma fighting Mousse, or, on Mitsune's good days, Ryouga. But Lin Su always won.

Ukyou turned over and considered what assets she had to protect herself. To protect the city, even. There was the "wrecking crew" as it was infamously, if aptly named. Her, Ranma and all the others. Could they stand up to Lin Su? Even with Mitsune's help, she doubted it. Kuno might be insane enough to handle the sight of a large black monster, but could Konatsu? Or Ryouga? Nerima had plenty of ghosts and cursed objects, but she doubted anyone had seen what she'd seen. It still terrified her, whether she was able to fight the creatures or not.

Ukyou suddenly became very tired at the prospect of having to deal with the skeletons in her closet. Thinking Mitsune had the right idea in resting, she closed her eyes and tried not to think about how much money she'd lose from closing today.

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Akane didn't even notice her growth spurt as she leaned back in the waters and willed herself back to a calmer state. It was one thing to feel irritated just by being back in your own home, but when your walked in on in the bath... She was this close beating the crap out of Ranma. But for some reason, since he was in girl form, she let him off lightly. She had a terrible habit of beating the daylights out of him as a guy, but going a bit easier on his girl form. After thinking about it, she became concerned that perhaps the idea of treating any girl like a frail flower was ingrained in anyone! After a moment, she disagreed with that theory. Ranma was a little different as a girl, too. He'd eat ice cream for one thing, which she did find a little cute... And Ranma wasn't really a complete jerk... Even when he was a guy.

She figured it could be worse. He could be another Kuno.

She shivered at that thought. Kuno should never be thought of, especially when one was naked in the bath. Quickly banishing such things from her mind, she brought her thoughts back to the subject at hand. Just what had happened? And was it going to happen again? If she disappeared, who was kidnaping her? And why wake up in a forested park? Most importantly, should she actually ask someone for help? After thinking on it a few moments, she finally came to the decision that whatever was going on was no-one else's business. She was a martial artist, and a damn good one. Whatever it was, she could handle it on her own, and most importantly without Ranma's help!

Feeling more of her normal self and having gathered her bearings once more, she smiled and headed out of the bath, certain that whatever was going on, she could handle it. Until then, she had a perfectly nice Spring Break to enjoy! Heading back to her room, she decided to put the thoughts of her odd late night adventure out of her head and plan for the coming week.

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After finishing his bath and making himself presentable, Ranma awkwardly stood outside the door of Akane's room, uncertain if he should wait until tomorrow to tell her about Mrs. Yamazaki's grand-niece, or just get it over with. After thinking for a bit, he decided that it would be best to tell her now and get it over with, whether she was in a foul mood or not.

Tentatively, he tapped on the door. A muffled "come in..." came from inside and so he opened the door and announced himself.

"Hey, Akane, it's me... Jus' wanted ta, you know... 'Pologize for walkin' in on ya..." Seeing her tense up a bit at the bad memory, and probably all the ones she chose to connect it to, Ranma immediately moved on to the real point of why he came here in the first place.

"So... Yeah, anyway, ya know the ladle lady, Mrs. Yamazaki? Well, she roped me inta showing a relative of hers around town tomorrow, an' I thought it would be good if we could both show her the sites together..."

Akane slowly turned around, Ranma only hoped that she didn't take too much notice of the pronoun he'd just used. The smile on her face made him breathe out a sigh of relief.

"Sure, Ranma, that could be fun! Who is it that we'd be showing around?"

"I dunno.. her niece or somethin'. I just figured it'd be nice to sightsee, ya know?"

Akane was actually too relieved that he wasn't going to talk to her about her disapperance to even care about who it was they were showing around town. Not to mention it could be treated as a date/nondate since there would be a third wheel. Win-win!

"Great! We're supposed to show up at four... though I have ta go as Ranko..."

"Well... I guess that'll be ok." Akane's mood deflated a little at having a date/nondate with Ranma-CHAN, rather than Kun, but she'd take what she could, she supposed. At least it would help fill her week.

"Ok, great! So, uh... I'll just let ya get back to yer... sittin' about, then... Oh yeah! Before I go, you didn't get... kidnapped or anything, didja?"

Akane deflated at his comment, granting him a half-lidded stare for his ill-worded question.

"Why yes, ranma, I was captured by the great 'Spider-Queen' of Azaroth, and taken away to another dimension filled with magical kitsune and were-wolves!"

"What!? Really!? How tha heck did a tomboy like you get out of it!?"

While the rational part of Akane kenw that Ranma could be pretty stupid sometimes, even though such things could probably actually happen considering his track record, the emotional part of her brain heard both the insult to her femininity and ability to take care of herself as a martial artist. As usual, instead of allowing the rational part of her brain to talk the emotional part out of doing anything rash, Emotional simply hit autopilot.

A few moments later, as Ranma reached concsiousness, he realized he'd done something bad. Again. AS he prepared for his crash landing, Ranma could only remark to himself how nice it was to be back home. Ah, and there was the school's swimming pool, just waiting for him. Loverly.

End Chapter

Well, that's that chapter. I'd write more, but really, the day is done, and nothing's happening till the next. Hopefully once I get there, I'll have a quicker update and a bit more meat in the chapter. So far, it's all just leading up/background. Plus, if I don't end it here, it'll probably sit on my computer desktop, mocking me for another two weeks. As always, C and C is welcome.