Matchmaking (and Moneymaking)

The Awakening (Day 6)

Ranma splashed water on her face, as she tried to clear her head of the previous night's dreams. 'It's all Ryoga and Nabiki's fault!' Ranma thought. 'If Ryoga hadn't been sleeping in the same room, and Nabiki hadn't made me get those bras, I never woulda had those damn dreams!' As Ranma looked into the bathroom mirror, there was no missing the dark circles under her eyes, or the tired slump of her shoulders. One dream after another had woken the redhead from her sleep, all of them heavily featuring her navigationally challenged rival.

'Why'd it have ta be Ryoga of all people, though?' Ranma bemoaned in her head. Scowling as she left the bathroom, Ranma thought, 'I ain't some middle school kid with a crush! I don't like guys! I just gotta forget about last night, and pretend it never happened!' With that determination in mind, Ranma went down stairs.

Only for her to immediately stop in annoyance, as she saw the Lost Boy already seated in the living room. Looking up at the sound of her arrival, and taking note of her exhausted appearance, Ryoga asked, "What's the matter, Ranma? Bad dreams?"

Feeling that he was responsible for her dreams, Ranma glared at him and snapped irritably. "Hey! What I dream about ain't any business of yours!"

Scowling back, Ryoga shouted, "What are you yelling at me for!? I was just asking a question!"

Suddenly, they were interrupted by a new voice. "Ugh, it's too early to listen to you two yelling. Why don't you take it outside until breakfast is ready?" Looking up, they saw the one speaking was none other than Nabiki. Seeing she had their attention, she went on. "That wasn't a suggestion. Just try not to cause so much property damage this time."

Watching the pair glare at each other as they went out to the back yard, Nabiki headed towards the kitchen. 'I hope giving Ranma those dreams wasn't a mistake.' Nabiki thought. 'Things were going so well, I hope I didn't too far too fast. Then again, with these two, some setbacks were to be expected. Hopefully, once they get the urge to fight out of there system, I can get them back on track.'

Looking up from her cooking as her sister entered the room, Kasumi greeted her with a smile. "Good morning, Nabiki! Would you like a cup of tea while I finish cooking?"

"Thanks," Nabiki replied, always grateful for her obliging sister, "but do we have any coffee available? I have to meet up with the President of the school's Drama Club this morning, and want to be fully awake."

"Of course. Oh, that's right, the annual school play is coming up, isn't it?" Kasumi said, eagerness growing in her voice as she prepared the drink for her sister. "I hope it's as exciting as last year's Romeo and Juliet was."

"Oh, I have no doubt it will be memorable." Nabiki said with a smirk.

"You said you were meeting with the club President. Did he ask you to play a part?" Kasumi inquired, as she handed the drink to her sister.

"Not exactly." Nabiki replied, before taking a sip of the coffee. Giving a sigh of contentment, she went on. "He said he needed help getting actors after the… 'issues' that popped up last year. I already have a few ideas, but I need to run them by him, first. Then again, I may take on a role myself, depending on what still needs to be cast."

Kasumi opened her mouth to respond, only to be interrupted by a crash from outside. Shaking her head as she left the room, Nabiki said, "I'd better go make sure those two don't destroy the neighborhood before breakfast."

Nabiki looked around as she entered the café. She quickly located the young man she had come to meet, Kantoku Eiga, President of Furinkan's Drama Club. "Hello there, Eiga." Nabiki said as she sat down at his table. "So, why don't you remind me exactly why you called me here?"

"I'm glad you agreed to come." Eiga replied. Leaning forward, he adjusted his glasses and explained. "You see, after the fiasco my senpai was responsible for last year, I want to make sure nothing goes wrong with the play I'm directing this year, Sleeping Beauty."

"Sleeping Beauty, huh? Sounds interesting. You mentioned something over the phone about casting issues, though?" Nabiki prompted him.

"Ah yes, that is the biggest issue we have faced so far." He went on. "While the Drama Club has filled out most of the support roles and minor characters, no one is willing to take on one of the major character's roles, as they're afraid of drawing the attention of the Kunos or one of the other crazies that might want one of the roles. In other words, the first thing I need you to do is find people to fill the roles of Princess Aurora, Prince Phillip, and Maleficent. After that, I would need you to keep an eye on things to make sure there are no interruptions like last year."

Nabiki thought for a moment before nodding in agreement. "Alright, but only on one condition: you have to accept the people I get for those roles. Of course, there will be a more traditional fee on top of that."

Eiga hesitated for a moment, before replying, "As long as they can play their roles, I suppose I can accept that. As for the other part," Pulling out an envelope, he passed it across the table, "will this be sufficient?"

Opening the envelope, Nabiki quickly counted the stack of bills inside. Nodding in satisfaction, she said, "This will do for now, although there may be additional fees depending on what sort of 'issues' I end up dealing with. However, we can negotiate the details of that as it becomes necessary." Pocketing the envelope, she went on. "That said, I think I already have the solution to your first problem."

"You do!?" Eiga cried in surprise.

"Indeed. For the Prince and Princess, I happen to have a couple of people who owe me a favor. As for Maleficent, though, I think I might be able to keep up my end of the deal better, if I am a part of the performance myself."

"I have no doubt about your own ability to act, but what about the other two?" He asked, before adding, "And please tell me they aren't Ranma and your sister."

"Not Akane, no," Nabiki said with a grin, "And it wasn't the role of the Prince I was going to give to Ranma."

"Oh?" Eiga asked, his curiosity peaked. "Do go on, then…"

Nabiki was rather surprised at how quiet the dojo was when she got back. Entering the living room, she was even more surprised to find Ranma and Ryoga watching television, rather than training. Seeing that it was a commercial, she addressed the redhead right away. "Hey, Ranma, mind coming with me for a second? I have something a need to discuss with you."

Ryoga sent his rival a sympathetic look as she groaned and stood up. "Yeah, sure." Ranma replied before muttering, "Ain't like I got much choice."

As she led the way to her room, Nabiki thought, 'It's times like this that I'm glad for my reputation. Ryoga will probably just assume I'm about to blackmail Ranma, rather than actually get curious about it. Then again, neither of these two are the type to overthink things, exactly, but my point stands.'

Arriving at her destination, she took a good look at Ranma. She was pleased to note that Ranma was wearing one of the bras they had gotten her the day before, although she would not have noticed if she had not been looking for it. Speaking up, she said, "So, how's your back doing today, Ranma?"

"Huh?" Surprised by the unexpected question, Ranma had to think for a moment before saying, "Uh, it's fine, I guess. I hadn't really thought about it."

"Oh? Was there something else on your mind?" Nabiki said slyly, having a good idea what that might be.

The blush the lit up Ranma's face was all the confirmation she needed, despite the redhead's contrary words. "O-Of course not! W-Why would I be thinking about anything?"

"Well, I suppose it doesn't matter." Nabiki replied flippantly. Changing track while Ranma was still flustered, she said, "What does matter is what I need you to do next. The annual school play is coming up, and I have been asked to help fill out the cast. I figured it would make sense to offer you one of the roles." Nabiki held out one of the scripts he had been given, as she spoke.

Making a face of distaste, Ranma replied, "No thanks! I've had enough of plays after last year."

Pulling the script back, Nabiki said innocently, "Well, I suppose that's understandable." Then her tone turned taunting. "It's probably for the best, though. I doubt you'd be able to play the part that well. I'm sure I can find someone better suited to being the lead actor."

"Yeah, right!" Ranma cried indignantly, as she snatched the script out of the brunette's hand. "Ain't nobody better than me, and I'll prove it!"

"Well, in that case, I'll be counting on you." Nabiki replied, once more in a perfectly innocent tone. All the while, she had to stop herself from laughing, thinking, 'It's almost sad how easy that was, but I'm not complaining!' Out loud she went on. "Now, I suggest you go ahead and read it over, since you agreed. It's only a couple weeks until the show, after all."

"Eh, I don't need that long just ta memorize a few lines," Ranma bragged as she left the room.

Leaving the room as well, Nabiki was glad to see Ranma heading to the guest room instead of back downstairs, since it meant not having to wait before going to 'recruit' her next actor. Heading back to the living room with another copy of the script, she found the Lost Boy still sitting in front of the television.

"Ryoga, I think I have something you'll be interested in." Nabiki said, getting his attention. "I am helping the Furinkan Drama Club find people to play some of the roles in the upcoming annual school play, and I need you to play a part."

"A play? I've never been in one of those before." Ryoga said, sounding a bit interested.

"Don't worry," Nabiki replied, "you just need to wear a costume and memorize a few lines and actions. Of course, as the Prince, yours would be a more important role than most."

"Prince?" Ryoga said in surprise. "I'd have thought you'd have given Ranma that part."

"Well, I'm sure you've heard about what happened last year." Nabiki explained. "Because of that, the director asked me not to get Ranma as the male lead. Besides, I already gave Ranma a different role."

"Prince, huh?" Ryoga said, before perking up with a question. "Wait, then does that mean there's going to be a Princess? Who's playing them?"

Choosing her words carefully, Nabiki said, "Ryoga, I think we both know that there's only one person around suited to playing a beautiful, foreign princess." Seeing a goofy grin spread across Ryoga's face, Nabiki knew he had made the assumption she wanted him to. Innocently, she asked, "So, will you agree to play the part?"

"Of course!" Ryoga cried.

"Well then, here's your script. The play is in a couple of weeks, so I suggest you start studying it as soon as possible." Nabiki said, handing him the item in question. As the Lost Boy started eagerly paging through it, she headed back up to her room, thinking, 'Well, may as well take my own advice.'

When she reached her destination, however, Nabiki found Ranma standing outside her room. Curious, she asked, "Is there something you need Saotome?"

"Oh, there ya are!" Ranma said as she turned to face the brunette. "Yeah, it was about this play. Ya said that ya wanted me ta be the lead role, right? But, uh, ain't the lead role a princess?"

"Of course," Nabiki said calmly, having expected Ranma to figure it out, but knowing that since Ranma had already agreed she could hold her to her word. "Thanks for agreeing to do it, by the way. I can't think of anyone at our school with looks better suited to playing a European princess."

As Nabiki entered her room, Ranma grabbed the door before she could close it, saying, "Wait, but ain't there a kissing scene in this play? I can't kiss a guy!"

"Then just fake it with tape over your mouth like you did last year." Nabiki said with a shrug. Suddenly, another idea hit her, and she slyly added, "Of course, if you really don't want to, I can give the part to Akane, and she can kiss Ryoga instead…"

At the thought of those two kissing, Ranma burst out indignantly, "Forget it! I ain't about ta let that happen!"

"Alright, if that's how you feel," Grinning Nabiki said, "I'm glad that's all settled then." Closing the door, she counted down in her head. 'Three… Two… One…'

"Wait, WHAT ABOUT RYOGA?!" Came Ranma's shocked cry, as she realized what Nabiki had meant, and was once more reminded of the previous night's dreams.

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