NeeP Productions Presents:

Generations and Okonomiyaki
Niki 'NeeP' Paradis

      Iikiba Hibiki was lost--again.  He noticed that he was located in a rural town, somewhere, and he was sure that it wasn't part of Tokyo.  He sighed.  What a day, he thought.  Where am I anyway?

      It started as a mediocre morning and went rapidly downhill from there.  First off, his 'best friend', Kanaeda Saotome, had forgotten, again, to show up and walk with him to school.  And Yoiko had left already, and Takashi hadn't shown up as the truant officers probably had him tied to his desk again.  So he had to find his own way.  About an hour later, he found himself near the Nekohatten, where he was enthusiastically greeted by Mascara.
      "Aiya!  I so happy to see you, Iikiba.  We go on date now, yes?"
      "Actually, is Gel here?"
      "Why you want to see Purple-hair hussy?  You got Mascara!"
      "I need her to take me to school.  I have a exam today."
      "Gel at school.  Take Mascara on date instead."
      "Maybe some other time, I can't afford to miss that exam.  The make-up will mess up my week-end."
      "You shun Mascara?!?"  Iikiba will pay for that."  A dark aura formed around the green-hair Amazon.  Then she took a step towards her victim.  Iikiba turned tail and ran.  He ran until he was sure he lost her, then he realised that he WAS lost as well.

      "Chikushou..." he muttered under his breath as he took in his surroundings.
      He decided as that first things first, he should find out where Nerima was from his present position, then he would try to reach it.
      However, his stomach had other ideas...
      Iikiba looked down as his stomach rumbled.  Alright, then.  Food first, then Nerima. 
      That was when he noticed the smell of cooking in the air.  His stomach gave its opinion as it rumbled again.  Iikiba agreed, it DID smell good.  Not trusting his eyes, he closed them as he followed the smell of cooking okonomiyaki.
      He came to a spot at the side of the road where an elderly man had set up a cart.  Iikiba stood by a tree and watched for a bit while the man worked.  The old man sold freshly grilled okonomiyaki on the spot and served it to eager customers.
      The old man, himself, was huge, and muscular, perhaps a bit bulky, with a bristling beard that made him look more fit for a street thug that a cook, but that didn't affect the professional way that he plied his trade.  He noticed Iikiba watching, but continued his business, not at all ruffled by Iikiba's critical eye.  When the last customer went on his content way, the old man looked up and gestured to Iikiba.
      "Come here, boy," he said.
      "Me, sir?"  Iikiba was a little surprised.
      "Who else is there?  C'mere and talk to me, boy."
      "Is there a problem?"  Iikiba walked up to the cart hesitantly.
      "Hell, no!"  The old man laughed.  "You're a nervous one, ain't ya?  I noticed that you were watchin' me, and the way that you were lookin' says that you were trained in the ways of okonomiyaki."
      Iikiba blushed.
      "My mother taught me, she's a great cook, but I'm nowhere up to her skill level."
      The old man looked thoughtfully at Iikiba.
      "Tell you what...  You cook yourself a dish here and if I like what I see, you can have it for free."
      "And if I don't...?"
      "Then, boy, you will have to pay for one done right, won't you?"
      "I guess so," Iikiba chuckled.
      He took off his backpack and rummaged around until he found his favourite cooking spatula.  He checked it for dents and for any sign of a warp which would affect its effectiveness.  There was none.  The old man nodded at him, like a sensei watching his student's technique.  Iikiba walked to the cart, looked over all of the ingredients, and decided to make a combination special.  He measured by sight the appropriate ingredients, mixed them in the bowl.  He efficiently oiled the grill and poured the batter onto it.  He let it cook for a bit, then checked the edges and flipped it over.  He added the sauce and the remaining ingredients, and when it was done, he took it off the grill and served it to the old man.
      "Very good, boy, but how does it taste?"
      "You'll have to find out, sir..." Iikiba felt confident.  The Combination Special was one of the first dishes that his mother had taught him.  The old man pulled out a pair of chopsticks and tore off a piece.  He put the piece in his mouth and chewed.  He looked thoughtful, and Iikiba waited.
      "This is very good, son.  You'll do well."
      "Thank-you, sir."
      "Seems familiar, though..."
      Suddenly a group of local street thugs turned around the corner and approached the cart.
      "We're here for your money, old man," said the leader--a tall gangly youth with scraggly dirty hair.  "Give it to us or we'll trash your business."
      "I told you, you low-life punk, that I will beat you up again and harder if you tried this stupid-ass stunt again."  The old man was livid.
      "That's why I had to bring my buddies.  To help convince ya."
      Iikiba stepped in front of the cart and walked up to the leader.
      "You threaten an old man, to take his livelihood.  You gang up on him to do it...  Where the hell is your honour?!?"
      "Listen, shorty.  This is between the old man and us.  Stay outta it."
      "You listen to me, jackass.  You and your dumb-ass buddies are going to have to go through me to get at him."
      The leader charged at him.  Iikiba delivered a blow to the leader's stomach with a well-aimed punch.  The rest of the bullies charged in to help their leader.  Not that it was much of a challenge.  Apparently the bullies relied on scare-tactics and brute strength to get what they wanted.  Well, Iikiba Hibiki had brute strength too, and the skill of a martial-artist.  After a few minutes, he managed to deliver some form of damage to each of them.
      "Time to get serious, Boys!!!" yelled the leader.  Out of what appeared to be nowhere, the gang pulled out, pieces of pipe, wrenches and other heavy metal objects and closed in on Iikiba again.
      Whoops! he thought.  This is not a good time to fight barehanded.
      "Can you throw me my umbrella?" he yelled to the old man.
      "Hang on, son," the old man called back as he wrestled with the heavy umbrella.  It became quickly apparent that the umbrella was too much for the old man.
      Shit!  Iikiba thought to himself, as a bit of pipe hit him in the shin.  "Throw me anything!!!"
      "Here!  Catch!"  The old man threw something towards Iikiba.
      Iikiba caught the object and swung it around.  Knocking the bullies away and buying him a little more time to study what he was holding.
      It was a giant Spatula.
      Figuring that he can think about what the huge spatula meant later, he swung it is a wide arc the way that his mother taught him to.  He clobbered one gang member on the head with the flat of the weapon.  He shoved the handle end into the gut of another, then spun around and flattened the guy with the flat.  The bully went out like a light.  And so it continued until the leader was the only one left standing.
      "Go."  Iikiba growled.  The former tough guy turned around and ran.
      He turned around, gave the spatula a baton twirl and stepped over the prone bodies as he walked back towards the cart.
      "I don't think that they will be bothering you for a while, sir."
      "That was great, boy!" The old man was howling with laughter.  The last time I saw anything like that was when my little girl chased off some thieves years ago."
      Iikiba started.
      "Your little girl...?" he asked.
      "Yeah.  I engaged her to the son of a conniving bastard and the two of 'em, the jackass and his son, ran off with my cart, which was going to be her dowry.  They left my little girl behind.  This is my second cart, and let me tell you, it wasn't easy to save enough to buy it."
      "Your daughter...?"
      "Yeah.  She went after them for revenge, when she was old enough, but the last I heard, she married some other lowlife, and even forgave the scum that stole her dowry."
      "Lowlife scum?" Iikiba blinked.
      "Yeah, I was sent an invitation to their wedding, but I would have none of it.  I was sorta ashamed that she gave up on Saotome's son so easily.
      He's talking about Okaachan and Tousan, Iikiba thought to himself.  Is this who I think it is?
      "I even hear that the guy that she married isn't even home half the time..."
      Iikiba lost it.  I don't care who he is.  He's not gonna trash my family and get away with it!
      "That's because he gets lost!" he shouted at the old man.  "And he is NOT a lowlife scum!  He loves her very much, thank-you very much!"
      The old man was startled at the outburst.  He could've sworn that the boy had fangs.
      "I beg your pardon?"  The old man looked confused.
      Iikiba took a deep breath, and spoke slowly, in a even voice.
      "If your daughter, Kuonji Ukyou, married Saotome Ranma, I would not be here today.  My name is Hibiki Iikiba, and I am your grandson."
      The old man looked at him in a stunned sort of way.
      "You don't say..."  He slapped his knee and pointed at him.  "I thought that the okonomiyaki tasted familiar.  It's similar to the way that Ukyou-chan made it.  So you're her son, eh?  Sit down and eat your okonomiyaki."
      He pushed Iikiba towards a stool and handed him the dish that Iikiba just made before the fight began.  Iikiba was about to protest, he was mad, after all, but his stomach made him change his mind.  He sat down and began eating.
     Kuonji studied his new-found grandson.  A strong looking boy, with his daughter's brown hair, he was concentrating on his food, with the air of a gourmet okonomiyaki diner.  Serious hazel eyes regarded him as he ate.
      "The thing is," said the boy with his mouth full, "you've never met my father, so you don't have a right to call him scum."
      "You're right," replied the old man.  "I had no right to call your father scum.  If I apologise, would it be  all right?"
      "It'll help," said Iikiba, still chewing on his last bit of okonomiyaki.
      "I'm sorry, then."  The old man looked at Iikiba critically.  "Iikiba, eh?  My grandson...?  Do I have anymore grandchildren?"
      "There's Yoiko.  That's about it."
      "I'm going to have to meet her then, won't I?"
      "It might make Okaachan happy."
      "Well, I have another customer.  After the day is done, why don't we go visit your mother?  You can lead me to her and your family."
      "Um, that's not a great..."
      "Hang on, son," he turned to the coming customer.  "Irrashaimase!  Long time no see.  Found your way home yet?"
      "I did once, then I went for milk and got lost again.  Crazy world, isn't it?"
      From his sitting point behind the cart, Iikiba couldn't see the customer.  But he was sure he recognised his voice.
      "It sure is, Hibiki-kun.  How's your son and his family?"
      "The last time I saw them, they were fine, but that was four months ago, and my grandson was lost at the time..."
      Iikiba stood up.  "Ojiichan?!?" he asked in amazement.  He looked over the edge of the cart to the person that his newly found grandfather was serving.
      On the other side of the cart, stood an elderly man.  He seemed to be in his late fifties or early sixties, yet in fine shape.  He wore well worn travelling clothes, battered hiking boots and carried a large backpack on his shoulders.  His greying yet thick short dark hair was secured by a simple black bandanna.  He looked at Iikiba with surprise.
      "Iikiba-chan?" he asked.  "What are you doing here?"
      The old man didn't catch on as he introduced the boy to his friend.
      "Hibiki-kun, I want you to meet my grandson, Iikiba."
      "Iikiba's your grandson?" asked Hibiki-san.
      "He's the son of my daughter, Ukyou."
      "Ukyou's your daughter?"  The elder Hibiki started to chuckle.
      "What's so funny?" asked Old Man Kuonji.
      "My son, Ryouga, married a nice girl named Ukyou, and Iikiba-chan there is his son."
      "You mean...?"
      "Yes, Iikiba-chan's my grandson too."
      Then Kuonji-san started to laugh.  "You don't say..."
      Iikiba was confused.  He looked at the two old men, trying to figure something out.
      "Ojiichan?" he asked.
      "What is it, son?" asked Kuonji-ojiisan.
      "What's wrong, Iikiba-chan?" asked Hibiki-ojiisan.
      "Let me get something straight.  You two apparently have known each other for a long time, right?"
      Both old men looked thoughtful.
      "Let me see..." mused Hibiki.  "About twenty-three years now, isn't it, Kuonji-kun?"
      "That seems about right.  Why do you ask?"  Kuonji aimed the question at Iikiba.
      "And neither of you were aware that your children have gotten married to each other?!?"  Iikiba was incredulous.
      "When you put it that way, it does seem funny."  Kuonji chuckled at the thought.
      "When considering that they have been married for about seventeen years now, I guess it does."  Hibiki also found the idea funny.
      Iikiba shook his head in despair.  And here I thought that Kanaeda's two grandfathers were slow.  But this is ridiculous.
      The two men talked to each other for a bit then they both faced Iikiba.
      "Tell you what, son," Kuonji said to him.  "Why don't we find you a phone booth so you can call your mother and let her know that we're coming.  Then you can take us home with you."
      "I can't do that!" yelped the boy.
      "Why's that?"
      "He's a Hibiki," replied his paternal grandfather.  "Tell Kuonji-kun why you're way out here, Iikiba-chan."
      Iikiba blushed.
      "I was on my way to school, and I got lost."
      Kuonji blinked.
      "Then how the hell, do we get there?!?" he asked, exasperated.
      Hibiki slammed a fist into his palm and chuckled.
      "I got it.  I have the great fortune to have adopted a daughter with an excellent sense of direction some years back.  Have Iikiba call home, and tell his mother to have Jiro to come and get us."
      "That sounds like a good idea," replied Kuonji.
      "Okay," replied Iikiba.
      "Right," agreed Hibiki.  "So where's a phone?"
      Everyone else facefaulted.

      Back at the Restaurant, the phone began to ring...
      *Ring ring*
      Ukyou Hibiki picked it up and put on her best customer relations voice.
      "Moshi-moshi!  Ucchan's Okonomiyaki!  What can I get for ya?"
      The voice on the other end seemed embarrassed.
      "Iikiba?"  Ukyou was surprised to hear her son on the phone.
      "Yeah, it's me..."
      "Where are you? --Wait, scratch that.  Are you aware that the school just called?  They said that you missed your exam again."
      There was a sigh on the other end of the phone.
      "I know.  I guess that I'm going to have to make it up this weekend."
      "Well, they're used to it.  Is there anything wrong?"
      "No, no.  There's nothing wrong.  I just wanted you to know that I'm okay, and that I'll be coming home soon."
      "That's good to hear, Kiddo."
      "Um, Okaachan?  Is Auntie Ji there?"
      "Jiro?  Yeah, she is.  Hold on a sec..."
      Ukyou covered the mouthpiece and called out to Jiro.  "Iikiba would like to talk to you."
      "Really?"  Jiro walked over and took the phone from Ukyou.
      "Hi 'Kiba.  What's up?"
      "Hey, Auntie.  Listen, um, can you come and get us?"
      "Us?  Who's 'us'?"
      "Me and Ojiisan and Ojiisan."
      "Hold up a bit.  You're repeating yourself."
      "No, I'm not.  I met up with Hibiki-ojiichan AND Kuonji-ojiisan."
      "REALLY?"  Jiro was surprised, she practically shouted.  "What are the chances?" she whispered to herself, trying to convince herself to get a grip.  "IIKIBA!"
      "OW!  Get a hold of yourself, Auntie Ji!  Any louder and we won't need the phones.  Remember what you keep saying about yelling in other people's ears."
      "Sorry, sorry.  Yeah, you do have to bring 'em home.  I'll come and get you guys.  But first you have to tell me where you're at."
      "Iikiba-chan?  Where are you?"
      "Um... There's a couple of buildings, ...I'm on a street, ...there's a lamppost nearby..."
      Jiro facefaults.
     "That's not much help, Ga-chan.  Is there some one who could tell me where you are?"
      "Yeah, hold on..."  There were sounds of the phone passing into other hands when a new voice came on.
      "Jiro-chan?" asked the gruff sounding voice.
      "This is Kuonji.  Listen.  We're in a small town, East of Kyoto, but before Nagoya.  You got that?"
      "Yes."  Jiro listened for the rest of the directions.
      "Oh, and another thing, Jiro-chan?"
      "Don't tell Ukyou-chan that I'm coming.  I'd like to surprise her."
      "I can do that.  I'll be there as soon as I can.  I think I have enough for bus fair, so it won't take to long."
      "Good.  We'll see you then."
      Jiro hung up the phone.  She walked over to the drawer with the map book in it and looked to the page of the town that she was suppose to go to.  She found the right map without any problem.  With North being at the top of the page, the town that she was looking for appeared to be to the right side of Kyoto.  She nodded to herself and started to get ready to leave.
      "Where are you going?" asked Ukyou.
      "To get your son.  Can you tell Jakku to put the roast in at four o'clock at 200 degrees for me?  I'll be back as soon as I can."
      "Sure," replied Ukyou.  "And if you happen to come across Ryouga, can you bring him home?"
      "That, I can do."
      Hours later...
      'Kiba's gonna owe me big time, thought Jiro while the bus pulled into the station, in the small town.  But I wonder why Kuonji-san wants to keep his visit a secret.  But then, Ukyou always said that there was no love lost between her and her dad.  She stepped off the bus, retrieved her backpack and umbrella, and headed down what appeared to be the main street of the small town.

      Iikiba was eating his sixth helping of okonomiyaki, when he saw a familiar person walking up the street.  With his mouth too full to speak, he resorted to grunting and pointing in the general direction.
      "Mmmmph!" he shouted.
      "Hmm?  What is it son?" asked Kuonji.
      Hibiki looked down the street.  His face brightened.
      "It's Jiro," he grinned.  "Now we can head on out.  Jiro-chan!  Over here!"
      Jiro practically ran into the arms of her adoptive father.
      "Otousan!  It's so good to see you!"  She gave him a bear-hug that came close to crushing Hibiki's ribs.  "The kids will be so glad that you're gonna visit!"
      Then Jiro turned to Iikiba.
      "Hi, Auntie."
      "Iikiba-chan, you owe me big time," Jiro said sternly to her nephew.
      "I-I do?!?"
      "I spent the last of my coin to get here in a hurry...   Aw, the hell with it!  I'll take it out of your 'Search and Rescue' fund.  It's just good to know that you're safe."  She gave Iikiba a bear-hug that rivalled the one she gave to her father.
      "Jiro-chan," stated Hibiki.  "I want you to meet Ukyou's father."
      "Hajimashite," replied Jiro.  "So, you're Ukyou's father?"
      "That I am.  Guilty as charged.  I just met my grandson today, and we all decided to go and have a 'little family reunion', if you will."
      "I have no problem with that.  But I hope that you guys don't mind walking to Tokyo--I spent all my money on bus to get here."
      "Bus?" asked Hibiki.  "And here I've been using the hard way to get lost.  Just think, all this time, I could've ridden my way to unknown destinations, instead of walking."
      "And I can't take my cart on a bus, so walking's fine," replied Kuonji.  "But let me close up first."
      Soon, after Kuonji  had packed up and secured everything that had a chance to rattle, they were on their way.  Kuonji was pulling his cart along, refusing all offers of assistance from everyone else.  The dirt road that they travelled was empty of traffic and other travellers.
      About an hour later, Jiro stopped the party.  She stood perfectly still for a moment, then turned to the rest of the group.
      "Wait here for a bit," she said.  "I'll be back as soon as I can.  Otousan, Iikiba...  DON'T MOVE!!!  Kuonji-san, please watch them both for me."  Then she dashed off into the woods at the side of the road.
      "Where's she going?" asked Kuonji.
      Both Hibiki and Iikiba gave him blank stares.
      "Oh.  Forget that I asked."

      Jiro was walking quickly through the woods.  She knew what she was looking for, and she knew that it was close.  It wasn't long before she came upon a camp that was in the process of being packed up.  It the centre of the remains knelt her brother, who was busy cramming what he can into his backpack.
      "Hey, Jiro."  Ryouga didn't even bother to look up.  "I kinda figured that you were coming."
      "I'm not alone, you know..."
      "Really?"  Ryouga shut his eyes for a moment.  "Um, you've got Iikiba with you... and Otousan?"
      "You got it, Niichan."  Jiro was still proud of the time she finally managed to teach Ryouga to 'Track'.  It made his getting home a little easier--sometimes.
      "Okay, just hang on a moment.  I'm almost done."  He finished packing up, pulled on his backpack and looked to Jiro expectantly.  "Let's go!"
      "I should warn you, that we have someone else with us, Niichan..."
      "You'll see..."

      Kuonji waited.  And he waited.  He wasn't quite sure that he believed that Hibiki and his grandson had such an extreme directional problem, but as he figured that it was best not to take chances.  So when it seemed that either one was starting to wonder off, he would grab them literally by the neck and haul them back.
      What a strange person, he thought, looking to the woods where Hibiki-kun's adoptive daughter went.
      He thought about the strange woman, Jiro.  He wasn't sure what to make of her.  A tall, yet slender woman in her mid-thirties, with odd pointed ears and thick blonde hair that was starting to grow out, she appeared to act more like a man than a lady in some of her mannerisms.  Like a girl who grew up without her mother...
      Like Ukyou.  Kuonji sighed.  It has been over twenty years since he last saw his daughter.  What was he going to say to her, when he finally saw her?  What was he going to say to the man that she married?  The one who he had once thought wasn't good enough to marry his daughter?
      Too many questions... thought Kuonji.  Twenty years worth, at least.  Then he reached out and grabbed the collar of his grandson, who seemed to be inching away from the cart.

      Iikiba was looking towards the woods where his Aunt had taken off to, but he wasn't going anywhere as his grandfather's hand had a firm grip on his collar.  He saw some movement and he got his grandfathers' attention.
      "Someone's coming," he said.
      "N?" Hibiki looked towards the direction that Iikiba was pointing.
      "You're right," he said.  "Heads up, Kuonji-kun.  Jiro-chan is coming back."
      Kuonji looked to the woods.  Jiro Hibiki was coming out, but she wasn't alone.  Another person walked with her.  He watched as the two walked up to the cart.
      The other person was a man in his late thirties.  He was broad across the shoulders and looked to be the healthy outdoors type.  He had thick black hair that reached the back of his neck and was kept out of his serious hazel eyes by a colourful yellow and black bandanna.  He reached Hibiki-kun and gave him a crushing hug that appeared to be even more powerful than the one given to him by Jiro.
      "Otousan!" he cried out.  "How have you been?  Where were you heading?"  He then turned to Iikiba.  "Iikiba, isn't this a school day for you?"
      Kuonji then realised that this was Hibiki's son--the one who married his daughter.
     "Sorry, Tousan," replied the teen-age boy to his father's question.  "Kanaeda didn't show up."
     "Just like a Saotome," muttered the boy's father.
     "Kuonji-kun," started Hibiki, "this is my son, Ryouga."
      Ryouga Hibiki looked up from ruffling Iikiba's hair, faced him and bowed.  "Hajimashite."  He then blinked.  "Excuse me, he said.  Your name is Kuonji?"
      "It is.  So you're the one who married my little Ukyou?  You are the father of this fine boy?"
      "I am."  Ryouga's voice was distant.
      "Look son, I'm not proud of what I have done, so I am going to try and make it up to Ukyou, you and my grandchildren.  You don't have to like me right now, but give me a chance to make amends. Understand?"
      Ryouga looked thoughtful.  "Seems reasonable."  He turned to Jiro.  "Shouldn't we get going?" he asked her.
      Jiro nodded.  "You're right.  Let's go, everyone."
      And without further ado, they set off on down the road--again.

      Ukyou Hibiki watched as her daughter deliver okonomiyaki to the waiting customers.  It was the busy hour of the following day and Ukyou reverently wished that Iikiba and/or Jiro was there to help out.  Yoiko was doing okay, but the restaurant was much busier now days than it was when she first opened twenty years ago.  It was also bigger.  On a busy day like this one, it was preferable to have the whole family helping out.
      "Tadaima!" called a voice from just outside the restaurant.  Iikiba stumbled in.  "Hi Okaachan!" he called out.
      "Hey there, Kiddo," Ukyou called back as she cooked up another order.  "Go change.  I need your help down here."
      Iikiba walked to the back of the restaurant and into the house.  He had no problem finding his way--the restaurant and the house were the only places that he could find his way around.  Ukyou glanced at him as he went.
      Jiro came in next.  She nodded to Ukyou, took a look at the situation and started to the back to change.  "I found them all," she said in passing.
      "Huh?" asked Ukyou.
      Jiro stopped.
      "You'll see."  And she stood there.  "Here they come now…"
      Ukyou, and the rest of the restaurant, looked up as they heard some crashing from the entrance.  All they saw, at first, was a hand gripping the doorframe.  Then a head came into view.
      "I finally made it," gasped Ryouga as he pulled himself into the restaurant.
      "Overly dramatic, ain't he?" asked Jiro to Ukyou.
      "No more than usual," was Ukyou's reply.  "Who else is out there?"
      "It's s'pose to be a surprise.  Just wait..."
      Iikiba came back down, wearing his red uniform wrap.  "What's keeping them?" he asked.
      "Probably your father in the doorway," replied Ukyou.  "Ryo-chan, get a move on.  I've got a pile of dishes in the back."
      Ryouga walked through the restaurant, he went up to Ukyou.
      "What...?  No kiss?"
      "Jackass," she chuckled, and reached up and kissed him.  "Now get goin'!"
      "Yes'm."  Ryouga scooted to the back.
      "Hey," called a customer, " where's my order?"
      "Hang on."  Quickly, she cooked up the order, handed it to Yoiko, who delivered it promptly.
      "Iikiba, go clean off the tables."

      Outside, Kuonji waited with Hibiki-kun.  He watched as new customers kept entering, and satisfied ones were leaving.  He listened as she gave commands and talked with her customers. She seems to be really successful, he thought.
      "Hey, Hibiki-san?" called out a customer.
      "Yeah, sugar?" answered his daughter.
      "Are you aware that there is an okonomiyaki cart sitting outside?"
      Suddenly, there was a dead silence in the restaurant, as everyone realised the most probable implications of the situation.
       "You mean to tell me that some dumb Jackass is attempting to steal MY business."
      Kuonji heard the stomping of feet coming towards the door--and him.
      Hibiki chuckled.  "Not the way I'd want to meet my family after twenty tears, but here she comes..."

      Kuonji swallowed.

      A angry woman stomped out of the front door, gripping a large spatula.  There was a cry of  "Okaachan!  Noooo!" from Iikiba, but that didn't stop her.  She stopped in front of Kuonji and Hibiki, and glared at them.
      "So which of you two Jackasses own that cart?!?" she asked.  Then she stopped as she recognised Ryouga's father.  "Hibiki-tousan?  What are you doing here?"  Then she faced Kuonji.  "Papa?" she asked weakly, with wonder in her eyes.
      "Ukyou-chan..." he said with tears in his eyes.  "How have you been?"
      Ukyou's eyes hardened.
      "Doing better than you think.  You didn't think your little girl could make it on her own, could you?" she snorted.  "You're here to steal my business, aren't you?"
      Kuonji was taken aback.  "No! No.  I just wanted to see you."
      "Like you couldn't have visited back at your own daughter's wedding?!?"
      Kuonji winced.  "I deserved that," he said.
      Hibiki shook his head.
      "This is not going well, is it?" he sighed.
      "What do you mean?" asked Ukyou.
      "He came all this way to make things up to you..."
      Ukyou was suspicious.  "Oh?  And why would that be?" she asked her father.
      "I met your son yesterday.  And I took a liking to him and when Hibiki-kun here said that the boy was his grandson as well--I figured that it was about high-time to make amends."
      Iikiba poked his head out of the restaurant door, and gave his two-bits worth.
      "It's kinda stupid, Okaachan.  They known each other for about twenty years and just found out yesterday that their children have married each other."
      "Anyways, Ukyou-chan.  I realised that I have been a stupid jackass of a father and I want to make it up to you."
      "Uh huh, right..." replied Ukyou sceptically.  "Then why is your cart here, if you're just here to visit me?"
      "I couldn't leave it behind.  I don't want it stolen like the last one."
      "Hey!" cried a voice from inside.  "Where's my meal?!?"
      "Hang on for a sec, will ya?!?"  Ukyou yelled into the restaurant.  "Iikiba!  Get back inside and start cooking."
      "Right."  Iikiba's head disappeared from view.  Ukyou turned back towards her father.
      "That's it?  Honest?  You just want to visit?" asked Ukyou.
      "That's it.  Honest.  I want to meet your family."
      Tears filled up in Ukyou's eyes.  She went and hugged her father.
      "I missed you soooo much," she sobbed.
      "I missed you too," replied Kuonji.
      The tender moment lasted for a moment...
      "Kaachan!" called out a young girl's voice.  "We've run outta hot water and Touchan has changed."
      "How bad is it?" Ukyou called back.
      "I managed to turn the water off, but the floor's covered with water, and it's starting to seep towards Oniichan.  And I can't find the mop!"
      "Hold on."  Ukyou looked towards the two older men.  "Come on in.  Things are a little hectic, but I welcome you both to Ucchan's Okonomiyaki."  She winked at them both as she went back inside.
      Inside the restaurant, things were very busy.  Kuonji almost had trouble believing the size of the restaurant.  He watched as Ukyou went into a backroom, came back out with a mop, which she handed to a black hair girl.  She gently pushed her son out of the way and resumed cooking.  Her son, Iikiba, appeared grateful as he leaped over the grill and onto a dry section of the floor.  Not to be idle, he went to clear the tables and take orders.  He watched as Jiro, wearing similar wraps like his daughter's, came out with clean dishes.  Despite the busyness, and the small accident, Kuonji was more than impressed with his daughter's business.
      Soon enough, the business day was over, and after the doors were locked, Ukyou and her family started to clean up.  Kuonji helped out and met the rest of the family.  Yoiko, his granddaughter, was more than pleased to meet him.  She appeared to be an excitable fourteen year-old with Ryouga's fangs and dark hair and his daughter's teal eyes.
      Joining them in the cleanup was a man with brown hair and intense green eyes, named Jakku Mizuno.  Hibiki introduced him as Jiro's husband, even though the man had a different last name than his wife.  The children of strange couple were also there.  There was a fourteen year-old girl with brown hair and green eyes named Mizuko, and a ten year-old boy with blonde hair and blue eyes named Oyu.  They appeared to be really excited to see that their grandfather Hibiki came to visit.  There was also another boy by the name of Takashi, who apparently came by often to help out.
      Supper was prepared and served in the house which was attached to the restaurant.  Kuonji was a bit surprised, after all, such restaurants like the ones in the neighbourhood, were usually small, with smaller living quarters over the restaurant itself.  He learned that Hibiki-kun's son, Ryouga, had worked to earn the money to buy the restaurant next door and used it to expand the okonomiyaki shop and to covert the rest of it into living quarters.  Apparently, Ryouga worked as a one man demolition team and tore down whole buildings with one finger.  Companies found his fees cheaper and only had to hire crews to take the debris away afterward.  And he did this was before he reached twenty.  Kuonji's original opinion of the supposed 'scum' that his daughter had married has definitely changed.

      Kuonji stayed for a week, getting himself aquainted with his daughters family.  He found them all to be well adjusted despite the fact that the males of the household would repeatedly get themselves lost.  He got to meet Ranma Saotome and his family.  However, Kuonji was disappointed when Ranma told him that his father, Genma, was out of town on an impromptu training trip.  But finally it was time to leave.  He had a regular clientele and he had a duty to them to make sure that they were fed.  He packed up the few things he brought and the gifts that were given to him, and fastened them onto the cart.  He turned and faced the family.  He shook hands with Ryouga, clasped the shoulders of Iikiba, and gave a hug to Yoiko.  Then he turned to face his daughter.  He put his hands on her shoulders, and looked her in the eyes.
      "Ukyou-chan," he said to her.  "I want you to know that I love you and that I'm very proud of you.  You got that?"
      Ukyou fell into his arms, crying onto his shoulder.
      "I love you too, Papa!  You're gonna have to come back and visit, right?"
      "You bet I will."  Kuonji looked at Ryouga.  "You've done a fine job, Ryouga.  But I want you to keep on taking care of my daughter."
      "I will," replied Ryouga.
      "Well then, I guess I should be on my way."  He went to the cart, took the handles in his hands and started to make his journey homeward.  As he went, he heard the calls of farewell from behind.  Well now, he thought to himself, I guess that my little girl will be just fine.  With that thought, he whistled a cheerful tune as he walked away towards home.

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