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

Disclaimer: The characters in this story are all copyrighted by the mighty Takahashi. Except for her.

"{}" - spoken Chinese
Italics- thoughts

* * *
- Chapter Four -

Shampoo's hands were shaking when she took a seat across from her great-grandmother. It was not yet dawn, and the empty restaurant echoed with the shadows.

Cologne narrowed her eyes as she took a closer look at her grandchild's aura. A faint silver sheen flickered out of existance as she watched.

"{What is it, child?}"

Her nails dug deep into the tablecloth as she took a steadying breath.

"{Who is that girl and why is she after Mousse?}"

Her voice was unusually even, tone flat. Cologne lifted her head to meet her eyes, saw the fear lurking in the shimmering amythest depths. Whatever had happened had confused her beyond belief.

Cologne closed her own eyes. "{I'll...tell you. And the others...if it is absolutely necessary.}"

Shampoo glowered. "{Why can't you tell me now?}"

"{Why do you want to know so early?}" Cologne countered.

The dagger landed with a thunk as it hit the table in front of her. She lifted it gingerly, wary of anything the sorceress had touched. Of that, she had no doubt. Hefting the blade in her hand, she tested it's balance. A throwing dagger, then. And it probably belonged to Mousse.

Shampoo stared hard at it. "{I found it buried in my pillow. Right next to my head. It was her. It must have been. Mu Tsu wouldn't hurt me.}"

She met the teenager's gaze squarely. "{Are you certain?}"

* * *

-Joketsuzoku, China-

The rock shrine had been obliterated. Shattered boulders lay scattered, half-demolished wards flapping uselessly in the face of the early dawn.

The keeper was long gone insane. She had been a good child. Not good enough to keep this from happening, but a good child nevertheless.

A soft, playful breeze streamed her silvery hair behind her as she surveyed the damage. Her eyes narrowed in concentration as she found the seal, in a millon sparkling pieces buried in the dirt. She lifted the largest chunks, the silver and rubies glinting in her wrinkled palm. She ran her fingers over them, felt the faint stir of the ancient magics that drained away even as she held them.

"{Elder?}"

She straightened. "{Go back to the village. We will find nothing else here.}"

"{Yes, elder. Shall we wait for you?}"

"{No. Go ahead.}"

Once they had gone, she looked around again. "{I know you've been watching for some time. Why have you chosen him?}"

The wind whistled in sudden, vicious response. Why not?

Comb snarled at the icy reply.

* * *

He hadn't been able to sleep. He didn't think he would ever sleep again. Every time he closed his eyes, all he could see were eyes that bore into his soul...so hungry it scared him.

I should tell someone. But who would believe this? He sank further into the thin mattress, trying to clear his head, praying fervently nothing would disturb him.

Disturb? I would never do something like that...

No...

He scrambled back and until he hit the wall, turning his head unwillingly. His breath caught sharply in his throat as he stared, seeing her clearly for the first time. She's beautiful...even more than Xian Pu... Her lips parted in a smile as she tossed her head, silvery hair tumbling down skin the color of fresh snow to curved over the soft swell of her breasts. She wore a simple shift that clung to every curve of her lithe body, curves he knew all too well. She scooted close as he gaped, placing slim hands on his arms, sending a chill throughout his body.

My poor one...poor, flawed little thing...I will help you...

What? He quaked as she brushed her lips over his eyelids, lashes trembling. He didn't notice the tears until she licked them away.

Not because of me, my sweetling. Then she moved, pressing the full length of her body against him. He gulped. Too much...I can't deal with this, I can't! he thought frantically. She rubbed her nose against his flirtatiously, strange eyes flickering.

Deal? This is not a game. She pinned him lightly to the wall, and his senses were suddenly inundated with her. He couldn't form a coherent thought, much less resist when she claimed his mouth again.

Something in the back of his mind collapsed as he tentatively returned the embrace.

* * *

-Joketsuzoku-

The teacup shattered in the woman's hands. With a look, she stopped her husband from cleaning it up.

"{That is why our house was undamaged?}"

Comb nodded. "{I believe so.}"

She wrapped her arms around herself, shaking her head, glossy black hair -so like her son's- quivering as she trembled.

"{Honored elder...why?}"

She didn't reprimand the male. He was just as shaken as his wife, if not more. Of course, to be chosen by the sorceress was every male's worst nightmare....or darkest dream.

"{Your son is very unusual,}" she said gently, "{And very stubborn. He is also well-spoken, polite, rather attractive, and, most importantly, he is one of our best warriors.}"

The man came over, clasping his wife's hand uncertainly. "{What will happen now?}" she said slowly, eyes never leaving those of her husband.

Comb couldn't find an answer to her question.

* * *

She smelled so good, like a summer storm lingering on the horizon on an endless day. Mousse held her gently, as though afraid she would fade away. She, in turn, held him tightly, every soft curve pressed up against him as though she would never let go.

Not that he wanted her to. She was perfect.

He went willingly as she pushed him down into a spill of warm sunlight, her tiny weight like gossamer against his skin. He could live like this forever, if only she would never let go.

"MOUSSE! WAKE UP!"

His eyes flew open at the dulcet tones. He looked around, eyes widening. Everything was clear...clearer than it had ever been before.

He could see. Somehow, that scared him.

Then he felt her presence, whispering at the edge of his awareness.

The wind flowed through the open window and over his body like a caress...

A present, sweetling.

* * *

"{As long as Mu Tsu knows anything, she will as well. Get him out of the restaurant. I will call the others. She is a danger to everyone.}"

With those words in mind, Shampoo called up the stairs with more than a little trepidation. Her imagination was playing tricks with her, seeing the glint of silver in shadow where it shouldn't be, sensing danger at odd times all this morning. It had left her on edge the entire time since she had spoken to her great-grandmother. It was now well past noon. Mousse never slept this late. The gods only knew what he could be doing...

She blinked as he padded quietly down the stairs. Something was odd about him...Why isn't he wearing his glasses?

He looked up, meeting her eyes squarely. She nearly gasped as she stared at him, something going weak in her knees. His eyes were...gorgeous...but they had always been lovely...something odd hid in the brilliant depths, something that was clear and glinting.

He didn't move, just stared at her for a long moment. She shifted, suddenly uncomfortable. This wasn't the Mousse she had known all her life, who had been unending in his devotion and ever-ready to defend her, when eveyone knew it was the woman's duty to fight. Mu Tsu, what is happening to you?

"Shampoo...you look lovely today."

She blinked at him in confusion.

"I would have given anything to see this not too long ago. And now I don't really know what to do. Shampoo, what is it like to be loved?"

She opened her mouth to yell, but gentled what she was planning to say when she saw the wistful expression on his face. "Shampoo not know, but she know when friend is hurt...what wrong with you, Mousse?"

She stiffened when an blast of wind shrieked down the hall and whipped her hair into her eyes, stinging with sudden tears. Mousse stayed where he was, eyes wary, hair fluttering gently as the sudden chill petered out.

"Nothing."

Shampoo bit her lip, but remained quiet as he brushed past. She had gone numb with realization, and was suddenly very afraid. He looked straight at me without his glasses...he must be able to see now. She shuddered.

* * *

"Who was it, Kasumi?" Soun questioned through a mouthful of food.

The eldest Tendo daughter seated herself gracefully before speaking. "That was Shampoo's great-grandmother. I think she wants to talk to Ranma today."

"No way."

"She said it was very important. Mr. Saotome, father, and Akane are supposed to go with you."

Many confused glaces were exchanged.

* * *

Kicked out again...at least it's not raining this time he thought moodily, running lightly over the rooftops to shouts of "Not again! The GUTTER!" and "Damn martial artists!"

He ignored them all, instead enjoying the quiet feeling of the sun in his face and stretching out for the first time in days. Being able to see was incredibly wonderful, and he enjoyed the sights that had always been a bit blurred in the past.

After a moment, he realized he wasn't alone. He turned his head and saw her, running and leaping in perfect time with him, silver hair gleaming in the sunlight.

You're here. he thought numbly, In the daytime.

Of course, sweetling. Do you like your present?

He tried to run faster, get away, but she matched him. She leapt ahead, smiled alluringly, and beckoned him onward. Despite himself, he followed her shining form, desperate to reach her for some unnamable reason that ached deep inside of him. He slowed only as they approached the park, hesitant to return to where he had first realized her presence.

She grabbed his arm, sending shivers down his spine, and pulled him down through the greenery. In a little copse of trees, the golden light filtering through and casting her pale hair into flame, she turned and stared at him.

Do you like it?

Yes.... she glided close, wrapping her arms around his neck and smiling. He found the fangs bizarrely adorable as the familiar paralysis set in.

Her...

Of their own volition, his hands wrapped in her hair as she leaned into him.

* * *

-Joketsuzoku-

"{Are any things missing from his room? Has he lost anything of value?}"

Hairspray shook her head. "{I haven't heard from him for a long time. I am not sure what has happened to him since he reached Japan.}"

Comb stifled a curse as she glared around the sparse room. The child had probably taken everything with him on his person. He *had* to be a hidden weapons master, didn't he...figures that he would be her type.

"{Your pardon, elder, but what if Mu Tsu has something that belongs to her? Would that cause the bond?}"

She nodded slowly. That would make more sense, hidden weapons artists never let go of anything.

But where would he have found something? Her eyes slitted in growing horror at the prospect she found herself facing. Unless it was on purpose.

She cast a wary glance at the male. He stared back, expressionless.

* * *

He could taste her delight, though how he could not say. He half-hoped it was because of him.

Always you, sweetling.

I shouldn't...Shouldn't what? I'm not...engaged, I'm not supposed to....You belong to me now. And those silly rules no longer apply...Still...

Whatever resistance he had melted in the intensity of the embrace, her coolness pressed against his warmth, the possessive hunger in her eyes and the flood of emotion that destroyed his barriers.

Kami...I think I love her...

She teased his mouth with her tongue, and he felt something stir deep inside of him, shouting a faint warning. He closed his eyes and leaned into her, trying to ignore it.

It clamored loudly, piercing the haze that surrounded his mind. He jerked away from her, surprised.

She stared, eyes hardening, the flames in her eyes crystallizing. He repressed a shudder. If this was love, why was he so afraid?

Petal-soft lips parted in a silent snarl, baring glistening canines. He ached for her even as he begged silently for help from anyone, anywhere.

Help, my sweetling? Who would help you but me?

Mousse could only stare.

* * *

Chapter Five
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Written in 2000 byEdmondia Dantes