* * *
These Chains - Chapter Two
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Most of them aren't mine, except those that are. And no $ for Dia for writing this.

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- Chapter Two: Strangle -

"Kenji? You awake?"

Kenji Higurami turned bleary eyes to his partner. "What?" he slurred grumpily.

His partner, he decided, had far too much energy, seeing as how he was bouncing up and down rapidly in his not-too-springy seat without any trace of discomfort. Damn young people.

"There's something weird going on!"

Kenji blinked. "This is Nerima. What's this weirdness got to do with us?"

As far as he had known, there was virtually no use for the police force in Furinkan. They had an infestation of martial artists, everyone knew that, and those caused the only trouble few. And the trouble was always mysteriously cleaned up within a few days.

He watched with bemusement as he bounced faster. "But it's different weird! As in, we ought to get involved in it weirdness!" Yuusuke's voice was annoyingly chipper as he singsonged the words.

"Does this mean we have actual work to do?"

"Yup!"

Kenji blinked several times. "Dear gods."

* * *

He stared down at their entwined fingertips blankly. He was feeling blank.

"Uh, Shampoo?"

"Mmm?"

"What happened when we got home?"

He watched her fingers grip his a little harder, fascinated by the play of light on the shiny surface of her nails.

"Shampoo not sure." Her voice quavered only a little.

Mousse frowned. If his head weren't so muddled...

A red haze coating his vision, her energy tingling through his senses, blind attacks both thrown and parried, adrenaline rushing through his body, moving faster than he ever had before, a furious, towering rage that was not his own, need twisted in his soul, her emotions tearing through him like daggers and leaving him exhausted even as he kept fighting...

Pale arms had locked themselves around his waist. He shuddered violently, jerking backwards onto a tangled mass of sheets and pillows. He landed awkwardly, half-sprawled on his back, staring up with horror at the girl...who did not have moonlit hair, but that of purest violet.

Shampoo stared at him, something unfathomable in her perfect gaze. His mouth worked for a moment, trying to form an apology and finding it impossible.

"{Ka'mb and grandmother are waiting downstairs,}" she remarked after a moment.

Oh hell.

His stomach churned and his vision went blurry. Shampoo reached out and took his clammy hand again. Hers was shaking.

"{We are damned.}"

Mousse swallowed.

* * *

Yuusuke bounced eagerly out of the car. Kenji followed his crazily twisting path at a more sedate pace, idly wondering why he was paired with such a lunatic.

His ambling pace was stopped short when Yuusuke stopped bouncing and froze on top of a low hill.

"Kenji?" he squeaked somewhat nervously, "I found the weirdness. You might want to cover your nose."

He blinked, then jogged over. "What are you..."

The smell slammed into him like a sledgehammer. He gagged and looked up, stomach roiling.

Yuusuke, who was turning green, glanced over his shoulder at the older man. "Told you to cover your nose."

Kenji gaped. The scene was bizarre, almost apocalyptic in appearance. Scorched trees ringed around an open area, broken weapons littering the blood-soaked ground. A lovely fountain was half-demolished, the filmy crimson water dripping slowly onto parched grass. Broken trees off in the forest were slowly crumbling to pieces. The thick, choking smell of old blood hung in the air.

Yuusuke grabbed a handkerchief and held it up to his nose. "This is nasty," he muttered, voice muffled.

Kenji looked around for somewhere to throw up.

* * *

She'd been able to find a comb to straighten his tangled hair. Finding clean clothes was more of a problem, because he had left them at Ucchan's. Shampoo rooted around in her closet for a moment, eventually yanking out a loose top that she'd never worn but might fit him.

"Here!" She tossed it over her shoulder. He murmured his thanks, but her attention had been drawn back into the closet. Something glittered near the corners. She reached in curiously, plucking the surprisingly heavy object out. Her eyes widened.

"{Mu Tsu?}"

"{What?}"

He crouched at her side, staring at the silver dagger in her hand. "{That's really nice.}"

"{Mu Tsu, I don't own any daggers. Is it yours?}"

He blinked. "{No.}"

Shampoo frowned, puzzled, but shook her head. "{It doesn't really matter now. We should-}"

"{Go downstairs,}" he finished nervously.

Amethyst met turquoise. They stood up, straightened their clothing, and walked out the door, hands clenched together in a deathgrip.

The dagger lay forgotten on the floor.

* * *

Comb and Cologne looked up in unison at the soft sound of footsteps. They paused for a moment, then Shampoo stepped around the corner, head held high. Mousse followed an instant behind her, hands demurely folded and eyes towards the ground.

"{Children,}" Comb addressed them coldly, "{Come forward.}"

Shampoo stepped forward, expressionless, and bowed. A heartbeat later Mousse followed her, bowing as well.

Cologne stared calmly at the two as they rose after the appropriate time. Shampoo stood at attention, arms at her sides, head level. Mousse stood behind and to her left, also at attention but with his eyes still on the floor. One of the benefits of being a warrior of the tribe, I suppose. The child has always been an upstart, but his status could sway the judgement of the council, or damn him.

Comb glanced at her before speaking. "{You are aware of the severity of your crimes.}"

Shampoo spoke for both of them. "{Yes, honored elder.}"

Cologne picked up the thread. "{You realize that the judgement must be harsh, despite the circumstances.}"

"{Yes, honored elder.}"

"{For crimes of this nature, the tribal council must judge you both. However, until they can be summoned, we cannot allow you to remain here.}"

Cologne watched as Shampoo bristled and Mousse tensed, but they both remained quiet.

"{You will be turned out at dusk tonight. Should either of you attempt to leave Nerima, tribal law will rule. Both of you will be found and executed.}"

Shampoo frowned slightly, but didn't say a word. Behind her, Mousse scowled at the ground.

"{You will be called when the council responds. In the interim, you will not be recognized as warriors of the Amazon tribe. Neither of you may return to this place or call on any of the rights of an Amazon.}"

Comb spoke with a peculiar gentleness, designed to confuse the accused, "{Xian Pu, you will take responsibility for Mu Tsu. Should he leave Nerima, it will be your duty to follow him and return him to us for judgement. However, I do not believe either of you would be foolish enough to do such a thing.}"

Shampoo blinked rapidly. "{Of course, honored elder.}"

Still speaking gently, Comb continued, "{You have until dusk. I suggest you pack all of the belongings you wish to take with you and be gone by sundown.}"

"{You are dismissed.}" Cologne snapped.

They watched as the children bowed, their long hair covering their expressions. Body language was enough to tell that Shampoo was quivering with either anger or fear and Mousse was tense as a coiled spring. The two walked slowly out in the same manner as they had entered, quiet and respectful.

Comb sat back with a sigh. "{They are good children. It's a pity.}"

Cologne cast her a cold glance. "{They disobeyed, and both know the laws as well as you or I. They brought it upon themselves.}"

"{I suppose.}"

* * *

All of the color had drained from her face. "{Oh gods. What do we do?}"

Mousse was a little bit calmer, reaching out a trembling hand to stroke her hair. "{Being kicked out isn't so bad. At least they haven't killed us yet.}"

"{That helps so much,}" she snarled, swatting him away. He retreated, looking hurt and unaccustomed to being rejected. Of course, that bitch probably never turned him away, she thought venomously, gritting her teeth.

Mousse glanced around the room with a sigh. "{We should decide what you want to bring.}"

Shampoo frowned. "{How much can we carry?}"

One fine brow raised. "{Uh, Xian Pu...}"

She blinked, dropping to rest on the bed. Well, he takes care of that problem. But where can we go? Maybe a tent in the park? No, that's the exact wrong place. And we can't go anywhere out of Nerima, not even the next ward over. I haven't got any money, and they probably wouldn't rent apartments out to teenagers. We definitely can't stay with Ranma, too much happens there and I... she shook her head, resting her chin on her hands and frowning deeper.

"{Xian Pu?}"

She blinked and sat up, staring. There was nothing left in her room except her bed and dresser. Even the wall hangings were gone.

She leaped off of the bed and stalked up to a rather startled Mousse. "How you hide so much when wearing tank top and pants?" she demanded, poking him in the chest.

He smiled smugly.

She frowned up at him, reaching over to tug on his hair. "No laugh. We have nothing now."

He bit his lip, some emotion skittering across his face for an instant. She touched his chin with a fingertip.

"{Mu Tsu?}" she breathed.

"{It's nothing,}" he murmured, choked.

"{Don't lie,}" she scolded softly, leaning forward and brushing her nose against his. He stiffened noticeably, and she growled. She said the same thing to him...

Jealousy gnawed at her. She's dead now, and he's mine.

She reached up and kissed him, hard. He leaned into her, hands sliding down her back and fingers tangling in her hair. At the moment, she didn't care that he didn't love her.

I'm nothing like her at all. He'll love me...someday.

* * *

Kenji walked out of the park, feeling dazed.

Yuusuke followed at his heels like an eager puppy. "That was really strange. Blood just doesn't start to disappear like that. I mean, that's just crazy! And what the heck were some of those weapons? Who uses chains to fight? And those weird things with the sphere on top? What are those?"

Kenji resisted the urge to hit him as they melded into the crowds on the sidewalk. He turned around to yell at him when someone bumped into him.

"Ah! Shampoo sorry!" a sweet, heavily accented voice declared.

He turned startled, to see a flash of purple hair, trailed by ebony, vanish into the crowds.

Purple hair? he wondered, staring in shock at where the girl and...was that another girl? had vanished.

Yuusuke bumped into him. "Hey! Why are you waiting? We have to go and write all this up! Come on, just 'cause you're old doesn't mean you have to be slow!"

With that, the brown-haired whirlwind scampered off into the crowd. Swearing under his breath, Kenji followed him.

* * *

"I didn't expect to see you here," Ukyo said frigidly.

The Amazon in front of her winced.

"You owe me a hell of an explanation."

"Is very strange story. Maybe you not ask him, is very personal."

"And why are you here?"

"We kicked out for time being."

She goggled. "What? Why?"

Shampoo shrugged. "Is law."

Ukyo frowned. "This better be good, buster, or else you're out on the streets, you hear?"

"...Thank you, Ukyo."

"Remember that explanation, sugar."

Shampoo reached over and took his arm. "If he no tell, Shampoo will."

"...Uh huh."

* * *

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