* * *
No One Has Won the War
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: Nope, they're not mine.The people in the story, that is. The story is mine, but they belong to the lovely and wonderful Takahashi Rumiko-sama.

AN: This is weird. The title will make sense...eventually. *evil grin*

"{ }" - Chinese (spoken)
Italics - thoughts
 

* * *
-Chapter One-

He sat motionlessly before the window, aimlessly watching the rain make patterns on the surface of the glass. Hazel eyes fluttered closed for a brief moment, then popped open again at a loud rattle to his immediate right.

Sliding his glasses down, he turned toward the sound. There was no one there. He frowned slightly, then turned his attention back to the window and looked out, mind wandering nowhere in particular.

"{Mu Tsu! Come down here this instant!}" the loud voice interrupted him. He jumped out of the chair and twirled around. The old ghoul again, I suppose. He sighed. What have I done now?

He shook his head, long tresses swinging behind him as he exited the tiny room.

* * *

She waited impatiently, tapping her foot, arms crossed. When she saw Mousse slowly come down the stairs, she paused for an instant, wondering if something was wrong. His glasses were on for a change, obscuring most of his face, but she could almost see the look behind the thick lenses, strangely quiet and somewhat unsettling. After wondering about it for a fleeting moment, she decided to yell at him.

"Mousse, what take so long? Great-grandmother want talk to us! She say is very important!"

Mousse just looked at her with his blank gaze. "Of course." he said neutrally, and brushed past her into the kitchen.

Shampoo stood there, mouth falling open in shock. Mousse hadn't glomped her, told her he loved her, or run into the wall. She frowned. There had to be something wrong with him. Shaking her head, she followed him.

* * *

Cologne's eyes narrowed as Mousse slunk past her and leaned against the wall. There was something wrong with the boy, she could tell that in an instant. His aura had seemed particularly dark to her all day, but she hadn't given him much thought. She carefully scrutinized him, searching for something amiss. He caught her gaze and stared back at her expressionlessly.

"Great-grandmother, what you want to talk about?" Shampoo asked, entering the room behind Mousse and breaking the oppressive silence that had filled the room.

"{I have just recieved news from the village. There is much to tell.}" Cologne began, "{It will take some time to share with you all I have heard. Come and sit.}" With that, she hopped out of the room, perched on her staff as always.

Shampoo was quick to follow.

* * *

Mousse shoved himself up from the wall and trailed after his love. By the time he had gotten to the next room Shampoo was seated and Cologne stood upon the table. They had already begun talking. He slipped inside and then onto a chair, unnoticed. He listened with half an ear to the conversation. They were talking about inconsequential things, and he tuned the conversation out. Letting his mind wander, he listened to the steady fall of rain against the roof.

Talk, talk, talk. What is so important anyway? What am I even doing here? It's not as if they are telling me anything. Hmmm. I wonder if I could fight Saotome today? No, I'd end up as a duck. An unconcious one, most likely. Why do I even bother? His fianceť will probably kill him one of these days. Will it ever stop raining? Cologne's voice is getting on my nerves. Shampoo's looking at me funny. Have I told her I loved her today? I don't think so. I suppose I do love her. Maybe. Or maybe not...

He blinked in shock at what he had just thought. What am I thinking?! Whatever you wish. What was that?

"{Mu Tzu?}"  He gave a soft gasp and looked up at Cologne. She stared at him unnervingly. "{What happened?}"

He turned his gaze to his entwined fingers. They were clamped so tightly together that the knuckles were white. Strange. I don't remember doing that..... Don't you?

He started, body jerking upwards, with a stifled cry of dismay.

"{Mu Tzu?}" Shampoo this time, looking at him with concern in her lovely eyes.

"{It's nothing.}" he mumbled softly, "{Nothing at all.}"

* * *

Shampoo was frowning slightly as she listened to the rest of the news. Nothing was particularly important, and she was mystified as to why her great-grandmother had told her it was urgent. A frown marred her pretty features. She had no idea why Mousse was acting so sulky. What happened today? Nothing. The shop was closed all day, and I haven't bothered him. Great-grandmother hasn't even ordered him around. What is the matter with him? Is he sick?

"{Mu Tzu, perhaps you should step outside. Go for a walk.}"

Shampoo blinked, staring at her great grandmother. Why would she tell him to go out in this kind of weather? It didn't make sense.......

"{Very well.}" His tone was emotionless, flat. He rose and walked out. Shampoo's confused gaze followed him.

* * *

He had pulled an umbrella out of his sleeve. He walked aimlessly down the streets of Nerima, eyes downcast. The day was cold and miserable, the sky a dull gray and the rain-slicked streets empty. He didn't know where he was going, nor did he care.

He paused in front of a familiar-looking shop and adjusted his glasses. The light cast a warm glow onto the street, and he stepped closer to it. It was as inviting as the face that peered out the window. The arm that beckoned him inside was even more so.

He stepped inside. At least someone was cheerful today.

"You must be freezing! Are you hungry?"

His stomach rumbled as he realized he hadn't eaten all day. How stupid of me...Stupid?!

Despite the warmth, he shivered. "I am. Thank you, Ukyo."

She flashed him a quick smile and set about making some okonomiyaki.

* * *

She was staring out the door after him in a pensive silence. Cologne had let her voice trail off when it became apparant that no one would be listening to her today. Ordinarily she would have scolded both of them, but there was something different about the day that she did not like at all. The worst of it was that she had a suspicion of what it could be. It coincided perfectly with what she had been planning to tell the two youngsters.

She supposed she could keep it quiet for a while longer, until she was sure. In the meantime, however, her great-granddaughter was concerned about a melancholy male. She wondered fleetingly what it boded for them all. Xian Pu still hadn't moved. It was chilly in the empty restaurant, and she had a feeling the child would not stir until much later.

Cologne went to make tea.

* * *

Hot food, he decided, was the best thing in the world. He couldn't get enough of it. Food....is good...mmm...

A soft laugh interrupted his rambling thoughts. "I've only seen Ranchan eat food at that rate before."

He gulped down another mouthful. "Joy. I'm being compared to a pig. No wait, that's the lost one." Not that he's much better, but anything is better than a comparison to that Saotome...Not the only comparison I would make...

He dropped his chopsticks with a clatter. They bounced unnaturally loud against the polished table counter. He stared at them blankly, hardly aware as Ukyo snatched them up. Am I going insane?

"Mousse? You all right?"

His head snapped up, meeting a pair of eyes that mirrored his in their confusion.

"{I...don't...}",  he checked himself,  "I'm not sure."

Her brow furrowed. "Are you sick? What were you doing out in the rain, anyway?"

He backed up. When had he gotten off the stool? The heat and light of the place were stifling, the once-delicious smell of food choking him. His eyes watered. I need to get out of here...far away...anywhere but here...

Mousse fled.

* * *

Much later, he slid to a stop under a tree in the park. Collapsing to his knees, he gave an exhausted sigh and dropped his head into his hands, scraping his waterlogged hair off of his face.

Waterlogged?

Slowly, trembling, he reached back and drew a handful of fine ebony hair in front of his eyes. It was soaked through, as were his robes. He rose to his feet, leaning heavily on the trunk of the tree, vision blurred despite his water-streaked glasses. He took a cautious step out from under the foliage. Mud squelched unpleasantly, and his foot sank. He jerked backwards and leaped over to the top of an ornamental fountain to regain his balance. It was easily attained. An odd sense of pride flooded through him. He shook his head, then tilted it back, staring up into the bleak sky.

The rain poured down, harsh and cold as it beat upon his absolutely still body. His absolutely still *human* body.

How? He thought numbly, What is going on? You'll see soon enough. You'll see so much, so soon.....

Alone in the empty park, he tried not to scream.

* * *

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Chapter Two
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