NeeP Productions Presents:

Recipe of Disaster
Niki (NeeP) Paradis

Chapter Six:  Business as Usual?

     Morning came and Jiro woke up.  She sat up in her sleeping bag and looked around for Ryouga.  He wasn’t anywhere in sight.  She sighed.  She got up, walked to the entrance of the dojo and opened the door and looked out.  The sun was shining overhead and Ryouga’s clothes were at her feet.
     “Ah, damn, he did it again.”
     She did a quick chi search and located the presence of her brother in the direction of Akane’s bedroom.  It figures, Jiro thought.  She decided to try and impose on Kasumi and see if she could do some laundry for her and Ryouga.

     Ukyou woke up to the smell of cooking okonomiyaki.  It was a smell that she hadn’t woken up to since she left her father on her quest for revenge on Ranma.  She looked beside her and saw a covered plate had been set beside her.  She sat up, and was surprised to find herself still dressed.  The last thing that she could remember was going through Iikiba’s photo-album for the umpteenth time.  That means that someone has carried me up here, she thought.  She picked up the plate and brought it to her lap.  She uncovered it and found a combination special okonomiyaki done just the way she liked it sitting on it.
    She thoughtfully ate the food, remembering the times when her father used to serve her breakfast in bed.  That would only happen on special days, though.  Back then, she would wake up with a plate next to her, and she would eat it while listening to her father serve customers.  As a matter of fact, she could almost hear the customers being served now, as if they were in her restaurant downstairs.
    Ukyou started.  She actually was hearing the customers downstairs.  Why the hell am I doing up here, while all of my customers are downstairs?  she asked herself.  Who the hell let them in, anyway?  She wolfed down the rest of her okonomiyaki, hastily put on a clean wrap, quickly retied her hair, and ran downstairs.
    When she got down, she was startled to find that all of her customers were eating and that Iikiba Hibiki was standing behind the grill.  Yoiko was cleaning; carrying dishes to the few tables, washing dishes, and pointing out to her brother which customer ordered which dish.  Ukyou stood for a minute, just taking in the scene.  She took a deep breath, held it for a minute, then let it out. She turned to face Iikiba and saw that he was looking at her already.
    “Good morning, Ukyou-san, how was the combo?” Iikiba asked.
    “It was good, did you make it?”  Ukyou wasn’t certain how she should respond.
    “Um, yeah … Glad you liked it.”  Iikiba grinned sheepishly, while scratching the back of his head in a self-conscious manner – the way that she has seen Ryouga do many times.  Ukyou stepped back to take a good look at her future son.
    Iikiba was wearing the burgundy tunic that she remembered finding in his pack.  It was the one that resembled Ryouga’s yellow one, only with the snaps.  He was wearing a clean pair of grey slacks and his red bandanna.  Over his tunic, however, Iikiba was wearing the bandoleer that Ukyou remembered finding among the boy’s belongings.  There were a few of the small throwing spatulas secured in the front loops and Iikiba’s red umbrella was fastened to the back.
    Yoiko yelled out an order.  Iikiba quickly pulled out the appropriate ingredients, deftly mixed up the order in a shallow bowl and poured it on the grill.  Ukyou was sort of surprised to see that he had no problem finding the ingredients.  While it was cooking, he added the toppings, he waited a bit, then checked the edges with a spatula, pulled it off and placed it on a plate and handed it to Yoiko who took it to the waiting customer.  Ukyou watched the process with a critical eye, and she nodded approval when he was finished.
    “You appear to do good work,” commented Ukyou the burgundy-clad chef.
    “Thanks, but I had an excellent teacher,” replied Iikiba.  He chuckled and Ukyou got the joke.
    Iikiba then turned and gestured to his sister.
    “Besides, I have Yoiko’s help.  She’s the one who tells me which dish goes where.”

    P-chan was lost.  He woke up on Akane’s pillow and found that he needed to relieve himself.  He looked down on the sleeping form of one of his true loves (Akari’s the other), leaped lightly from the bed and discovered the exit. However, somewhere along the hallway on the way to the bathroom, he got himself lost. He was starting to get worried, after all, a piggy’s bladder could only hold so much for so long.  He wandered around the hall looking for a door, any door, when he finally came up against a pair of soft-soled martial-artist shoes, with buckles.  He looked up to see Jiro’s blond head looking down at him.
    “We ought to be going now, Oniisan.”  She bent down, picked up the piglet and took him to the washroom.

    Genma Saotome was busy brushing his teeth.  He had a towel wrapped around himself as he had just gotten out of the bath.  So it is possible to say that he was a little out of sorts when the door opened and Jiro came in.
    “Excuse me, Saotome-san,” she said brightly as she placed a pile of clothes on a shelf and tossed a pig into the still hot bath water.  “I’ll be waiting outside, Oniisan,” she called as she shut the door as she left.  Genma blinked, then looked towards the tub.  Ryouga’s head was just breaking the surface.
    “Good morning, Ryouga-kun,” he greeted the teen.
    “Um, Good Morning, Saotome-san.”
    “Interesting time we had last night.  Wasn’t it?”
    “Uh, yeah.”
    “Nice boy that you have there, and that Yoiko seems to be a great girl.”
    Ryouga grunted.  Genma, however, failed to notice as he continued.
    “Friends to my future grand-son…”
    Ryouga was developing a dark aura as his depression kicked in.  But Akane …
    “Oniisan!  I’m waiting!”  Jiro called from the hall.  Ryouga jumped from the tub, grabbed a spare towel, dried himself, got dressed and quickly left the bathroom.
    “See you later, Saotome-san,” he said as he left, and Genma continued his morning toiletries, blissfully unaware of how close he came to being blown to kingdom come by Ryouga’s depression blast.
    Ryouga cursed as he and Jiro left the dojo, he never did get to use the washroom.

    Ukyou was finishing up her homework as the breakfast crowd petered out.  Both Iikiba and Yoiko were washing the dishes and cleaning up after the breakfast rush.  Originally, she wanted to take over the work, but Iikiba pointed out her books and papers that she left out, including that damn trigonometry problem.  Ukyou argued with him but he pointed out that she wasted the previous night, going through a strange backpack instead of doing her assignments.  She sighed.  Iikiba gave an apologetic grin, yet insisted that according to his mother, it was important to get a good education, and that meant finishing all assignments.  Ukyou turned to her trig problem.  It was just that she found it slightly distracting that she was not the one working, after all, it was her restaurant.
    She closed the book with an odd satisfaction, both glad that she actually finished the assignment and knowing that she will have a positive influence on her son, even if he is the one who is giving the lectures to her on finishing school work.  She still felt uncomfortable with the idea that Iikiba is/will be hers and Ryouga’s future son, after all she had never even considered sharing a future with the Lost Boy.
    “Tell me something,” she asked Iikiba suddenly.  “What’s your family like?”
    Iikiba looked up from the cleaning of the grill.  “Sorry, Ukyou-san, I not suppose to tell you.”
    “It’s nice, though,” commented Yoiko.  “We have none of the big problems that some families are s’pose to have.”
    “Umm,” Ukyou grunted.
    “Uh … Ukyou-san?” Iikiba interrupted.
    “I need to use the washroom.  Where would I find it?”
    “Up the stairs, second door on the left.”
    Iikiba started towards the stairs, then he stopped.
    “Aah … Left?”
    Ukyou shook her head.  Definitely Ryouga’s son, she thought.

    Jiro was leading Ryouga down the street towards the market district.
    “Where are we going?” asked Ryouga as he tried to pull his wrist free from his little sister’s overly tight grip.
    “Over to Ukyou-san’s restaurant.  I wanna talk to Iikiba-san ‘bout something.”
    “So why do I have to come?”
    “Because I don’t want to have to track you down again later, Oniisan.”
    “Look.”  Ryouga stopped suddenly.  “I don’t want to go to see Ukyou, especially if that Iikiba guy or Yoiko are there.  It’s just that I find the whole idea that I’m not going to marry Akane depressing.”
    Jiro spun around and faced her brother.  “Look, Oniisan.”  There were tears in her eyes.  “Try and see it from my point of view.  Yoiko-kun told me that I will be adopted by your family.  Do you realise what that means to me?”  She took a deep breath.  “I have to know more about this, to see how close I am to this realisation.  To see how it can come about.  Okay?”
    Ryouga nodded.  “You win, Imooto-chan.  Just for you.”
Jiro embraced her brother in a crushing hug -- the kind that can only be surpassed by Ryouga himself.
    “Thanks, Oniisan.  Thank-you very much.”

    Ukyou had left Iikiba upstairs, after showing him to the door of the washroom.  Figuring that it would take the boy about twenty minutes or so to find his way back down, she thought that it would be a good time to ask some questions of the less closed-mouth of her two guests.
    “So why did your brother need to get a copy of my mother’s recipe?”
    “Well, yours – I mean Kaachan’s copy was lost in a fire that we had ‘bout eight months ago.  Apparently, an old rival of Kaachan’s, some guy named Joe, started fire to our restaurant, just to take revenge against Kaachan for the time when she defeated him years ago.  Touchan woke up when he smelled the smoke and he rushed everyone out of the house and the fire trucks came shortly after, so most of the kitchen was saved, although there was some major smoke damage to a lot of stuff.  The shelf with the recipes on it was completely destroyed, including Kuonji-obaasan’s.  The rest didn’t matter, Kaachan had those memorised, but she hadn’t memorised Obaasan’s.”  Yoiko shrugged.
    “Touchan went to work as a one-man wrecking crew, demolishing old buildings with the Bakusai-Tenketsu. A lot of companies were more than willing to pay Touchan ¥50,000,000 per job as opposed to twice or three times as much that they would have to pay professional wrecking crews.  After demolishing six buildings, Touchan had earned enough to repair the restaurant, but nothing could replace Kuonji-obaasan’s recipe.
    “Onnichan has the um, ability to cross time and dimensions.  I think that once he realised when and where he was, that he would take advantage of his being here and try to get a copy of the recipe, from you to give to Kaachan, who is you, when we get home.”
    Ukyou thought about the story that Yoiko just gave her.  Well, whadd’ya know?  Iikiba was telling the truth.  The recipe really was important to his mother.  She looked up and saw that Ryouga and Jiro were standing at the door.  Just great. Wonder how much of that story that they heard?
    Jiro clapped her hands.
    “That was great, Yoiko-kun.  You have the makings of a great storyteller.”
    Well, that answers that.  Wonder how much Ryouga knows about this whole situation.
    She looked towards Ryouga who met her eyes for a second, then quickly looked down, blushing.
Oh shit.  That answers that question as well.
    Iikiba entered the restaurant through the front door.  Ukyou started, looked at the brown-haired boy, then looked towards the stairway -- her only stairway.  Okaaaaay.  Iikiba looked towards her and his future father and shook his head.  Ukyou could barely hear what he muttered.
    “Hoo boy, am I in for it now.”

Chapter Seven

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