The Trap, Part 2 (Day 1)
Few afternoons at Furinkan high could be considered quiet, but that day was one. There had been a brief moment of excitement as Kuno chased his 'pigtailed girl' out of the school, and Akane and Ryoga chased after, but any noise was soon reduced to a hushed whisper, as an ominous presence swept out of one of the classrooms. Students that were smiling and chatting happily moments before grew fearful at the terrifying sight before them, their conversations reduced to hushed whispers. Even those that knew martial arts dared not approach the source of their unease, and despite the packed hallways, the students still managed to part and give room, so as not to draw down the wrath of Nabiki Tendo.
'Where the Hell is he?' Nabiki thought to herself, so wrapped up in her own thoughts that the normally perceptive girl failed to notice the effect her foul mood was having on those around her. 'We've had nice weather, there have been plenty of teenage girls in bloomers outside throughout the day, and Ranma hasn't changed back to a guy once, yet there hasn't been hide nor hair of Happosai at all! If he decided to go on one of his trips today of all days, I'm going to have to find someone else to help me, and who knows what useful tricks he has up his sleeves, that I won't be able to make use of!?'
Leaving the school, Nabiki hoped there was some other explanation for the old pervert's absence, failing to notice the collective sigh of relief from the students, as the scowling girl left them behind.
Arriving back at her home, Nabiki was greeted by the sounds of combat coming from the back yard. Judging by the shouts of anger and taunting comments, it was obviously Ranma and Ryoga fighting. 'I'll have to do something about that later,' Nabiki thought as she entered the front door, 'but first, I have an old man to find.' However, her quest was short lived, as walking into the living room answered the question about where he had been.
"And welcome back to the Victoria's Secret 10 hour special!" The television announced as she entered the room, and found Happosai sitting in front of it, eyes glued to the screen of scantily clad women on a stage. Heading to the kitchen, Nabiki found Kasumi there, as expected... Unfortunately, Akane was there as well, doing something that no one but her would likely call 'cooking'. Luckily, Kasumi was preparing some dishes as well, so Nabiki knew that at least some of dinner would be edible.
Turning to her older sister, Nabiki asked, "Hey Kasumi, has Happosai been watching TV all day?"
Glancing over her shoulder, Kasumi responded. "Welcome home Nabiki. Grandfather Happosai started watching right after you left for school, so he should be finished soon."
"That's good to hear," Nabiki said. "That's not exactly the kind of thing I want to watch while eating dinner." With that, she headed back out to the living room.
Despite what she had said, though, Nabiki stopped when she entered the living room. She needed to let Happosai know what she needed, with risking her sisters or father overhearing and getting curious. Thinking quickly, she came up with an idea. Nabiki headed up to her room, and took out a piece of paper and a pen. 'Sometimes the most obvious solutions are the best.' Nabiki thought with a grin, as she wrote out the note.
Coming back down the stairs, Nabiki made sure Happosai was sufficiently enthralled by the television, before tucking the note into the back of his collar. Then, she headed back up to her room to wait for dinner.
Happosai did not stop smiling all through dinner. As he ate, his body moved on its own, as his mind replayed the lacy heaven he had watched that day. 'Just a shame they used such skinny models. I prefer lingerie by itself, but if there's a girl modeling it, it's much better if she has a bit of muscle on her. Still, at least they had nice boobs.' Happosai thought, his life of martial arts reflected by his perverted tastes.
Happosai's thoughts continued on this vein as he finished eating and headed towards his room to enjoy some time with his private collecting of 'lacy darlings'. However, as he walked, he felt something tickling the back of his neck. Reaching back, he found a folded piece of paper.
Sitting on a sack of 'loot' that he had yet to sort through, Happosai unfolded the paper, and read what was written upon it.
Meet me in the dojo at midnight. If you want to see a certain busty redhead around more often, it will be worth your while.
Happosai stroked his chin as he pondered the note. 'It was only signed 'N', but it's pretty obvious who left me this note. That said, if anyone else were to find it, she could still claim innocence if she needed to. Shame Nabiki doesn't practice the Art. She would make a much better heir to Anything Goes than Akane, maybe even better than Ranma, if she applied herself. Ah well, no point in thinking about missed possibilities. May as well go see what she wants, it sounds like it could prove entertaining.'
Glancing at the time, Happosai said to himself, "Still got a few hours to kill first, though. May as well get started on my latest haul!" Without further ado, Happosai got up, and started sorting through the sack full of his latest thefts.
It was quiet at the Tendo's dojo as midnight struck. Anyone watching may have seen a figure slipping through the moonlight to enter the building. As Nabiki closed the door behind her, a voice called out quietly from within. "I thought it was you who left me the note. What did you want to talk about, m'dear?"
Turning around, Nabiki saw Happosai sitting at the center of the dojo, smoking his pipe. "Good you're already here," Nabiki said with her trademark grin. "Sorry, but you'll have to wait a few minutes. There's one more coming, and I don't like to repeat myself."
Happosai raised an eyebrow at that curiously, but nodded in acceptance. A couple minutes later, the door opened again, and Mousse walked in. He was surprised to see Happosai there, but Nabiki spoke up before he could say anything. "You're late, Mousse. Never mind, though, let's get down to business."
Nabiki walked to the back of the room, and then turned to face the other two. "Now, I know I hinted at why I needed you here, but I haven't told either of you many details yet. The reason for this is that in order for what I have planned to work, certain people have to remain unaware of what is going on. Therefore, I'll need both of you to swear on your honor," 'for what it's worth from you two,' Nabiki thought to herself before continuing, "that what is said here will not reach the ears of anyone else without my permission. Agreed?"
Mousse and Happosai glanced at each other. Both were already curious from the hints she had dropped earlier, when inviting them, and seeing who else she had invited had only increased that curiosity. Happosai spoke up first. "I think I speak for both of us when I say I'm not about to leave. My lips are sealed!"
"Yes, I'm quite intrigued to hear your offer myself." Mousse said with a nod. "I won't speak of this to anyone."
Nabiki nodded back, and sighed. Steeling herself, she prepared to do something she hated; telling someone else her plans. "Alright, where to start? I believe you both know about the betting pool I have going, concerning who Ranma will end up with?" Nabiki paused to let them confirm this.
Happosai nodded, but Mousse spoke up with a frown. "I know of it. I take it this is some scheme to get him and your sister together? I already explained earlier why that was a bad idea, and-"
Nabiki cut him off with a scowl. "Believe it or not, Mousse, I'd rather see Saotome marry Shampoo then my dear little sister right now." Both of the males were caught off guard by that declaration, but Nabiki continued before either could comment. "Akane dragged this out too long, and too many people bet on her. If Ranma marries her now, I lose money." Nabiki's scowl darkened, and she snarled. "And nobody makes Nabiki Tendo lose money!"
Mousse and Happosai were speechless. This was a side of Nabiki neither one had seen before. Nabiki was the calm and collected Ice Queen of Nerima. Even if something surprised her enough for it too show, she always regained her cool almost immediately. Seeing her visibly angry was rather unsettling.
Noticing their expressions, Nabiki took a deep breath to calm herself. 'Damn,' Nabiki thought. 'This whole situation must be stressing me out more than I thought. Calm down, Nabiki. You just have to convince these two to help you, and deal with the rest as it comes.'
Out loud, Nabiki went on. "Despite what I said, I do not want to see Saotome end up with Shampoo, or Ukyo either. I would still make money if I did, but the bets on them are still significant. I want to ensure that Ranma falls for someone nobody has bet on."
Happosai cut in here. "I can see why the Amazon boy here would be interested, then, but Why should I help?"
Nabiki's grin returned, when she was presented with that opening. "Because practically every girl in Ranma's life has been bet on, myself included. Which means..." She trailed off meaningfully, and let them put it together.
It was Mousse that spoke up first, a smirk sliding onto his face as he began to understand. "Which means that you want Saotome to fall for a guy, and in that case the Amazon's laws about him marrying an outsider girl wouldn't apply."
Happosai smiled as well, before speaking himself. "And considering Ranma's opinion of guys, the only way that would happen would be if he embraced his curse!"
"Exactly!" Nabiki said happily, her mood significantly improved. She hadn't just picked these two because of their access to magic and potions. If that were the case, she would have included Kodachi as well. She had picked these two, because, when they were not distracted by their obsessions, they were probably the smartest ones that would be willing to help... Not that that was saying much, considering the alternatives, but she would take what she could get.
Mousse had a concern to voice, though. "If you asked me here to try and woo Saotome, I'm afraid you'll have to look elsewhere."
Nabiki scoffed at that. "If you tried it, you'd probably have about as much success as Kuno. I plan to use someone Ranma has already shown interest in. The only guy Ranma has intentionally turned into a girl before meeting. The guy Ranma has worn dresses for more than any other." Determined to drive her point home, Nabiki decided to bring up an event both of the others had been involved in. "Not to mention the only guy to come to Ranma's defense, when he was under the effects of the Ultimate Weakness Moxibustion."
Mousse gasped as he remembered. "Hibiki!" He cried.
Happosai took a puff on his pipe before saying, "That's an awfully ambitious plan, considering how much the two fight. I take it that's why you need us to help."
Mousse nodded, and voiced a query. "So, what do you need? A way to lock Saotome's curse, or maybe a love potion for the two?"
"NO!" Nabiki cried. "Don't even think about love potions or any sort of mind control!"
"Oh? I never thought you'd be one to let something like morals stop you." Happosai said with a raised eyebrow.
The mercenary girl just rolled her eyes. "Morals have nothing to do with it! Think about all the times people have tried to use potions, drugs, or magical artifact to make Ranma fall in love. Now tell me; how many of those attempts actually worked?" Seeing comprehension dawning on their faces, Nabiki pushed her point home. "Sure some of them like the Red Thread of Fate Shampoo used may have worked temporarily, but Ranma always end up breaking free, or getting cured, or something. Unlike some people, I learn from others' mistakes, and history shows that using some love potion is a sure fire way to make my plan fail."
Nabiki started to pace as she continued to explain. "If there is one trait Ranma and Ryoga share, it is that the harder you push them, the harder they push back. My father and Genma made that mistake, trying to force Ranma to marry Akane. Even if Ranma would have thought about it before, when they took away his choice on the matter, he tried to resist. Ryoga's the same, only with more property damage. If we used a love potion on them, and then the effects were removed, it would get rid of any chance of success."
Stopping her pacing, she turned to face the two. "The only way for this to work, is to make Ranma and Ryoga want it to happen. THAT is why I need your help. I can do a lot with simply manipulating events in my favor, but I know you both have quite impressive collections of magic to call on. Love potions and mind control are out of the question, but I'm sure you two have some subtler tricks to call on. And even if you don't, you have the martial arts skills I don't, and those will come in handy later."
Nabiki gave them a few moments to absorb what she had just gone over. Happosai nodded with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "I think I have a few ideas that could do the trick. Even if this doesn't work, it certainly sounds like I'll have fun trying!"
Mousse nodded as well. "I suppose it's a good thing Shampoo and Cologne haven't realized that, or else they may have actually manage to ensnare Ranma with something. If this works, there's no way Shampoo will be able to continue trying to marry Ranma. You have my full support, Tendo."
A Cheshire grin spread across Nabiki's face, as she looked at her new co-conspirators. "Excellent!" She said. "Now I have things set up so that we have a month to get this done. There are a few things coming up this month that should help us, and combined with deals I made with our targets, a month should be long enough. Now then, let's go over the details of this little trap, shall we?"