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These Chains
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Not mine, don't sue, no $, not mine, yadda yadda yadda.

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- Chapter Four: Bear with Me -
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"So this is Tokyo." The words were whisked away by the bite of the chilly breeze.

She stood atop Furinkan High School's clocktower, silent and still against the blackness of the night.

Something rustled in the darkness. "{It's huge,}" commented the second girl, leaping to meet her older sister.

She nodded, wrinkling her nose. "{Well?}"

The younger sniffed. "{They're at some greasy little restaurant. Both of them.}"

"{With an outsider?}" the first questioned, incredulous.

Her sister nodded, her long bangs flopping down over her eyes. "{Yes, it's disgusting. But I gave them the warning.}"

"{Traitors. Their deaths will bring us great honor.}"

* * *

Ukyo frowned at her lack of a window. "I don't think I'll be able to fix this," she muttered, flicking a jagged piece of glass out of the frame.

"Probably not. Ukyo need repairman, maybe Honest Toshii?"

She spun, gaping at Shampoo. "You've been able to get Toshii?"

Shampoo shrugged, tossing a glance backwards to Mousse. He tilted his head to the side and shrugged back.

"Never mind."

Shaking her head, she went back to work. The companionable silence lasted for only a few moments.

"Death is a lonely business."

She twirled, eyes wide. What? More deaths?

His lashes were lowered, deepening the crystal purity of his eyes. Fine brows drew together as a deep frown curved his lips. The small metal sphere rolled over his fingertips, down his wrists, flitting anxiously between his hands.

Shampoo stepped forward lightly. "Mu Tsu?"

Her pulse suddenly raced. Is that how it's supposed to sound? What's wrong with him? He can't - not again... she's dead!

He glanced up, and she was taken aback by the deep shadows in his eyes. "Them."

Ukyo watched as Shampoo stiffened. "What they do?"

"Think about it. We're booted out, we're fair game, we're dead. There has to be more than one."

"Why?" She didn't know who asked the question.

His voice grew low and dark. "It's easier that way."

And you of all people would know.

Ukyo shivered.

Shampoo glanced out the window, seemingly transfixed by the play of light on jagged edges of glass. "Mu Tsu, you is certain?"

He sighed. "Complete trust. Only way to do it. There are two."

The broom Shampoo had been holding snapped in two. "Trust."

His voice turned husky. "Even if it is misplaced."

Shampoo drew in a pained breath. "Or love."

"I love you." Mousse said, but he ducked his head, letting his hair shade his face, and his voice was whisper-soft and trembling.

* * *

"{I mislike using the old magics,}" the younger said, eying the sphere in her sister's hands mistrustfully.

"{Our sisters are dead.}" The elder said, tight-lipped and frowning in the dim starlight.

She hesitated. "{Controlling behavior-}"

"{Altering. It's altering behavior, not controlling it, Liz Glas,}" she snapped, concentrating fiercely.

Her sister wrapped her arms around her knees, crouching at her side, her full features flickering in the soft, muted glow that emanated from the sphere.

"{Will it work? I mean - }"

"{It's not the contrary jewel, it just...enhances emotion. You'll see.}"

Their eyes met in the light, and they smiled.

* * *

"How you dare lie?"

The words were cold as an arctic wind, spoken spitefully, dripping with frost.

Ukyo blinked. What?

Shampoo stood, glaring at a startled Mousse, a brilliant blue battle aura blazing around her rigid form. What just happened here? she wondered.

"You dare say such thing? No delude self - and no lie to me!"

"I wasn't lying," Mousse said lowly, but his voice was suspiciously strained.

"Ha!" Shampoo scoffed, "You spend whole day telling self that? I no believe you at all!" As she spoke, the aura around her grew brighter, flooding the restaurant with light. Ukyo squinted against the glare, eyes fastened on Mousse, who stood stock still, seemingly unmindful that Shampoo's ire was focused on him.

"And what if I did?" he snapped, lightning flashing in his eyes, "It's better than remembering. Isn't it always true? Far better to believe a pretty lie than an ugly truth."

"How you can say that? Rather you stay in dream world than life?"

"Why not? Everyone else in this godforsaken town does. And don't be a hypocrite, Shampoo," he spat, "How long have you spent chasing Ranma, always certain that you'll get him this time, hmm?" Mousse questioned, hands on hips, a sardonic smile gracing his pretty face.

Ukyo flinched. And how often have you done the same thing? the demon in her subconscious whispered. What good are dreams when all of them are lies? No! He does love me...he does, he has to love me.

"Is different with Ranma!"

"It always was. Ranma is everything - it's pathetic. What kind of an Amazon chases so desperately after a man - "

"I had my duty!" Shampoo snarled, baring her teeth as though she were in her feline form. Mousse looked singularly unimpressed.

"You had nothing," he said blandly, folding his arms and giving her a cool glare.

"And you talk? What man is you? Why for so long you chase Shampoo?" she said craftily, eying him from beneath long lashes.

"I had nothing to lose by pursuing you," he said casually, returning her gaze.

Ouch. Nothing to lose, indeed, Ukyo thought morosely, Sugar, love is hell.

"Shampoo used to believe you. Now not so sure. Why you lie?" she snapped, leveling an accusing finger in his direction.

"I tell the truth. Which is something you should have realized long ago."

"Then why you spend life believing lies?" Shampoo asked smugly, folding her arms and smiling.

He raised an eyebrow. "Why not? What else is there to believe? The truth destroys everything."

"Truth? Truth kill? Fine. Shampoo tell truth. You still love her, not Shampoo. Is truth, is not?" she snarled venemously.

"And you still love Ranma and not me," he returned smoothly.

Pert lips parted in a low growl. "You forget what I do for you?!" she exclaimed indignantly.

"Have you forgotten what I have done for you?" he hissed in reply, fists clenching.

Ukyo was appalled. What are they doing to each other?

"I gave up everything for her. At least she appreciated it."

"She use you," Shampoo said, glowering.

"I don't care! She loved me, something you'll never do!" he shouted, battle aura flickering into existance.

"You betray me," Shampoo murmured, lips thinning.

"I never owed you anything," Mousse said with an icy growl.

"You owe yourself!" she half-screamed, "For what I done for you!"

"I can take care of myself," he said flatly, folding his arms and looking away.

"Not in eyes of elders. What you do when condemned, Mousse?"

He whirled back, eying her narrowly, "And what will you do, Shampoo? Claim insanity? Why don't you tell me, hmm?"

Her spine stiffened. "Shampoo thought Mousse was friend. Maybe she was wrong."

"Maybe she was," he said coldly.

* * *

Kenji gave the cold can of coffee a dubious look. The contents were immesurably dangerous if given to the wrong person. He was preparing to do so with no small amount of trepidation. On the other hand, Yuusuke knew how to use a computer, and he did not. Kenji could defuse a bomb in under a minute, program a vcr, and jump rope blindfolded and handcuffed (wasn't it great to have grandkids), but computers baffled him.

So he held the can out with a trembling hand, flinching as it was snatched away in a millisecond. He hovered at the end of Yuusuke's desk, casting wary glances towards his partner's wildly grinning face, bathed in an eerie incandescant glow from the computer screen.

"Eureka! Look, Kenji, look, look!"

Kenji obediantly looked. There they were, the lavender haired beauty and the boy. Yuusuke had somehow obtained a picture of their passports and was greedily devouring the information onscreen.

"Thier birthplace is Joketsuzoku in China, the village of the Amazons that nobody goes near. The boy, Mousse, came a few months after the girl...Shampoo? Weird names. Anyway, there's no record of Shampoo's entry into the country, but she had her passport because she...well, I don't really know. Um...it must be one of those martial artist things. They go all over the place it seems. Remember that big boat thing with the big balloon that belonged to the Kuno family? I bet they went out of country in that. Or...something."

All this was babbled in the space of five seconds, so Kenji had to take a moment to interpret the garbled language. Then he snorted. "In other words, we have names, faces, and no clue what is going on."

Yuusuke bit his lip and smiled shyly. "Yessss...."

Kenji sighed, rubbing his temples with a weary hand. "Figures. I hate this town."

Yuusuke snickered, giggling, "Could be worse. We could be in Tomobiki."

Kenji felt like crying.

* * *

Ukyo made a snack, not paying attention to her work. Her thoughts were focused on the boy who sat before her, head bowed but battle aura simmering around him. Shampoo had burst out of the restaurant in an enraged huff after screaming that Mousse was an ungrateful bastard and wrecking several tables.

Said bastard had sunk into a sullen, enraged silence, idly fingering a rather large knife.

She laid a cautious hand on his bare arm. "Mousse?"

A faint crystallization of diamonds shimmered on his lashes, and he didn't bother to brush them away. Ukyo lifted a cautious fingertip, twined it around a single lock of silken ebony, and pushed it back. He just watched her, despair and anger casting a sullen look on his face.

"Stop being so nice. I don't deserve it," he said lowly, voice thick with self-loathing.

"None of this is your fault." Now if I could only convince myself that it's true...

He turned away. "All of this is my fault!"

She whacked his arm. "It isn't! Stop that!"

Mousse closed his eyes, resting both arms on the counter. Dusky lashes shimmered in the low lighting, full lips turning down. His hair rippled as he shook his head. Ukyo nearly hit him in surprise when he suddenly grabbed her hand.

"Thank you." His voice was utterly earnest, and the pleading in his face heartbreaking.

Her breath froze. "Do you love her?" Her voice sounded strained to her own ears, weaker than she would've guessed.

Mousse inhaled deeply. "Yes."

Her? But who is she? Which?

The door slammed open.

"Ukyo..." Shampoo growled, aura lighting up around her, flaming against the doorjamb. "What you doing?"

She flushed. "What?" she snapped huffily, snatching her hand back.

The Amazon scowled at her. "No touch."

Huh? "What?"

"Never touch him." Shampoo enunciated clearly, her hands curling into fists.

Ukyo smiled wickedly. This was game she knew how to play. "You're jealous. Well, little thing you should know about men. They like being treated gentle."

The aura grew brighter.

"Ukyo..." Shampoo hissed, her eyes nearly black with rage, "I kill."

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Written in 2001 by Edmondia Dantes

Chapter Five
Ranma 1/2 Fanfic
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