No One Has Won the War - A Ranma 1/2 Fanfic - Chapter Two * * *
No One Has Won the War
by Edmondia Dantes

Disclaimer: No infringement intended upon the almighty Takahashi. Bow before her.

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

* * *
- Chapter Two -

The door slid open with a faint 'thunk'. A blast of cool air swept through the darkened restaurant, and he stepped gingerly into the room. He breathed a sigh of relief when he found he was alone. Behind him, the door slid shut. He jumped at the slight sound, casting near useless eyes into the corners where the blackness was so thick it was nearly palpable.

He shuddered, teeth chattering faintly with the cold. When did I get so poetic?

His relief was enormous when there came no reply.

He moved swiftly up the stairs, stripping off his sodden robes and collapsing onto his futon. The warmth of the room and the velvety darkness of the night beckoned sleep. He was so tired...but the cold had melted away. His lashes drooped, cool and unfamiliarly damp when they brushed his pale cheeks. He ran his fingers sleepily through his wet hair.

Somehow, I don't think this is the miracle it seems to be, he thought blearily, Though Saotome would probably give his right arm to know how I did it...but...miracles are miracles...

He fell asleep with the windows open and the rain blowing in.

* * *

She sat, cradling the tea in her hands. It had long since cooled when the boy had slipped in, and was now even colder.

It had been a present, she was certain. Either that, or he had found a packet of instant Nannichuan. When he had tiptoed in, the rain had come pelting in, soaking him even more, if that were possible. And Mu Tsu was not one to jump at shadows.

Until now, it seemed. She frowned deeply. She couldn't be certain until later, after she had observed him more. Sighing, she turned to where her great granddaughter lay, hidden by the shadows, curled against a table. Unfortunately, should her suspicions be correct, the child would be in great danger. Then again, so would everyone else. She had hoped that it wouldn't happen again.

Wishing and hoping never did anyone any good.

At the moment, however, it was all she could do.

* * *

"MOUSSE! WAKE UP!"

It wasn't working. Shampoo fumed silently at the door. First, he had been acting strangely yesterday, and then had made her worry all night. The nerve! How dare he make me worry! He doesn't deserve it, much less my pity! Thoroughly infuriated, she drew back a foot to smash the door down. It never reached the polished wood.

She landed hard on her behind, shocked eyes staring up at her grandmother. "{What?}"

Cologne's gaze was icy. But it's still better than that remote look in Mu Tsu's eyes yesterday.

"{Did you knock?}"

"{What?}"

Cologne ignored her and opened the door. Shampoo bit down a cry of surprise.

The windows were all open, the sills glistening with water. Some things were slightly askew, as if a playful breeze had flitted through and upset everything. A drenched mass of clothing lay in a tangled heap on the floor. It was very unlike him to leave clothing lying around, especially when it was wet. The room itself was the same, but something still felt slightly wrong. Mousse himself lay sprawled out on his futon in a pool of morning sunlight, head pillowed on  his arms. His hair spilled around him in an ebony waterfall, obscuring his face from her view.

Shampoo blinked several times. "Why he leave windows open when it rain so much last night?"

"I don't know," Cologne's voice was curt, "But let him sleep." She hopped over by him and stared down for a moment, seemingly lost in thought. Shampoo hesitated for a long moment before nodding her assent.

She padded silently down the narrow staircase, mentally reviewing her plan for the day. The underlying theme: talk to Mousse.

Well, she thought sarcastically, unless he never wakes up, that is.

Then her eyes snapped shut as she tried to rid herself of that chilling notion.

He awoke with the sun on his face. Confused, he pushed himself up, blinking. Downstairs, he could hear the sounds of a busy restaurant, the voice of his angel wafting clearly over the minor din. He inhaled deeply, suddenly aware that he was starving.

As he rose, he nearly laughed. The mind numbing terror he had felt last night had completely vanished. it was a normal day. Normal. Except that his feet felt rather tender. But that was easily explained. I only spent the whole night running from phantom voices in my head...stupid head...

He froze. Oh, gods...

Somehow, he managed to walk over to a small endtable and pick up a pitcher that was filled with water. He took a deep breath, and dumped it over his head. Cold!

He opened his eyes again and looked down. Feet. Bare. Wet. Droplets of water splashing down between the toes.

Well, he thought bleakly, So much for washing my face.

* * *

Oh, no, he can't be like this again?!

She nearly chided herself for the thought. He looked more haggard than anything as he walked into the kitchen, body slumped and eyes hidden behind his glasses. He looked...numb.

In between orders, she managed to yell, "{Mu Tsu! Did you plan on sleeping all day? We're busy here!}"

His head snapped up, lips parting to retort, when he seemed to realize what he was doing. His jaw closed with a snap and he turned away abruptly.

Her heart sank. So much for talking. I blew it.

* * *

Cologne shook her head. The girl needed to learn more diplomacy if she really wanted to talk to Mousse. He was getting testy, she could already tell. She was not going to push him. If she watched long enough, she would discover what she needed to know.

She spoke briefly to him, and set him to washing dishes. He didn't seem to notice her regard.  This is going far too quickly. It was a present, I'm sure of it. But, she scowled, I need proof!

Silently cursing her fellow members of the tribal council, she turned back to her work, and observations.

-Joketsuzoku, China-

"{Elder! Elder!}"

She spun in place, staring down the young warrior who had disturbed her meditations. The young girl slid to a stop, panting.

"{Forgive me,}" she gasped, "{but it happened again. This time...}" she collapsed.

"{Again?}" she murmured, "{So soon?}" her eyes narrowed as she glared at the gawking villagers. "{Someone help the child!}" she barked.

She wrapped her arms around herself, staring at the young man who had just been carried into the square. She recognized him, Per Fum's youngest son, Je Hel. She pitied the family. He would be of no use to anyone now. Kal On would have to be contacted.

She glared at the stormclouds that loomed on the horizon. They seemed to glare back.

This did not bode well.

* * *

Mousse raised an eyebrow as he looked up to the sky through the windows. When did it get so stormy? It was sunny just a little while ago.

When he looked up again, the sky was a cloudless, crystalline blue. A whisper of wind caressed his hair as he stood staring.

* * *

In China, the storm howled as it tore down the mountains.

* * *

Satisfaction swept through him suddenly, accompanied by a hint of mad glee that danced at the edge of his mind.

Despite the warmth of the day, he shivered.

* * *

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