Ranma 1/2: Little Girl Lost
by Jaelle

***

All characters herein, forthwith and withforth are the total and undisputed property of Rumiko
Takahashi (or Takahashi Rumiko-megamisama depending on how big a fan you are) and I
humbly prostrate myself before her genius.

***

Ukyou flipped another okonomiyaki Ranma's way. "Boy you're
hungry today Ranma, what's the matter, don't they feed you
at the Tendos?" she asked with a sly glance Akane's way.

Predictably Akane started fuming. "We provide this... this...
black hole with enough food to feed all the starving in
Somalia and the minute he's done, what does he do? He comes
straight here for more!"

Ranma gulped down some water. "Hey, it's quality not quantity,
remember? And quite frankly, I'd eat Kodachi's cooking before
yours."

"Why YOU!!!!"

Ukyou watched them bicker and grinned inwardly. *Soon Ranma,*
she thought, *Soon you'll be all mine.*

"WHERE ON EARTH AM I NOW... Ucchans? YES!!!" cried a familiar
voice. It was accompanied by a familiar body which dragged
itself inside. The body focused on Ukyou.

"Where is the Tendo training hall?" demanded Ryoga Hibiki.

Ukyou sighed. "I gave you directions there only last week!"

Ryoga looked depressed, "I know I..."

"Got lost." chorused Ranma, Ukyou and Akane. Ryoga blinked.

"Akane! RANMA!"

Ranma looked confused. "Now what? If this is about your last
challenge I waited for two days and then got bored. And anyway,
that was four months ago!"

"Forget that," said Ryoga brusquely. He grabbed the front of
Ranma's shirt and pulled him face to face.

"Ranma Saotome..."

"Yeah?"

"There's a festival on tonight in Shinjuku... take me there!"

Three thumps as the girls and Ranma facefaulted.

"You... you want me to WHAT?" Ranma demanded.

"Please..." Ryoga asked him. Ranma stared. Ryoga _never_ said
please to him.

"_Please_," Ryoga repeated. "It's _really_ important I be there.
I swear it has nothing to do with traps, secret techniques or
a nannichuan... please... I have to get there and I'll never
make it on my own."

Ranma looked into Ryoga's eyes. There was an odd adult look
in them - kind of haunted.

"O-okay." he said. "I'll take you now if you like."

"Thank you!" Ryoga released Ranma. "Well?"

"Sheesh! At least let me finish eating first!" Ranma turned
back to his plate and in two gulps finished off his
okonomiyaki. "Thanks Ucchan, later!" he stood up to go.

"Hold on a minute!" said Akane. "I want to go to the
festival!"

Ryoga looked panicked. "That... might not be such a good
idea."

"Oh Ryoga," laughed Akane. "It's just a festival. Right?"

"Er. Sure."

"Now that you put it like that it does sound fun," Ranma
said. "I might hang around after I take you there."

"I'll go call Nabiki and Kasumi, I'm sure they'll want
to come!" said Akane, getting up and running to the
pay phone down the road.

"Yeah, maybe we should make it a group trip," Ranma
mused. "Hey Ucchan, you want to go?"

"I... I'd rather not... really."

"No she doesn't!"

Ukyou and Ranma stared at Ryoga, who flushed. "I mean...
I'm sure Ukyou doesn't want... has to do... isn't
interested..." he trailed off into a tangle of unfinished
sentences.

"Aw c'mon," Ranma coaxed. "It'll be fun. I love festivals,
don't you?"

Ukyou shifted uncomfortably. A shadow crossed over her
face. She glanced at Ryoga and stopped. He was looking at
her with the strangest expression on her face. Then he
looked away.

"Please," wheedled Ranma. "Come with me Ucchan."

"W-with you? Okay then." Ukyou gave a wobbly smile. "Just
let me pack up and I'll be ready!"

***

"When I said group trip I didn't mean _everyone_." Ranma
grumbled.

"Well you should have said," Akane snapped.

"Ranma! Be polite to Shampoo!"

"I'm not Ranma!"

"And I'm not SHAMPOO!"

Mousse looked confused and Ryoga sighed. When Akane had told
Kasumi, she'd gone through and told Nabiki... and the two
Kuno siblings, who'd been visiting their respective "darling
Ranma's". They decided to come. Shampoo, who was just making
a delivery, also heard and decided to come... and so the
effect snowballed, with the result that most of Nerima had
decided to come along. Some quick transportation organising,
and they were all in Shinjuku.

"This is great!" said Nabiki. "I love festivals." She turned
to Ukyou. "Don't you?"

Ukyou smiled nervously and pressed a little closer to
Ranma. "Yeah."

"You don't sound very enthusiastic," Akane observed. "Are
you feeling alright?"

Ryoga moved a little closer in order to hear Ukyou's reply.

"I've... always been a little nervous about festivals," was
Ukyou's reply. "I... got lost at one once when I was really
little, right after my mother died. My father went on this
tour around Japan, and it was such a strange area to me that
when I got lost, I couldn't find my way anywhere."

"That's so sad," said Kasumi.

"Yeah, I don't know why it affected me so much, I mean, I
got back safe and sound." Ucchan laughed. "It sounds so
silly now." She felt eyes on her and turned. But it was
only Ryoga.

Having walked up the steps to the festival, the group
eventually splintered and went on its own various ways.
Ranma batted Kuno into the air, Kodachi went into an
apothecary's stall and wasn't seen again for the rest of
the evening, Mousse stumbled into a goldfish fishing
tank and so on and so forth. With all the chaos that
naturally followed Ranma around, Ryoga found it easy to
slip off and "lose" the others. No one noticed him go,
except Ukyou, who watched him slip into the shadows with
a frown.

***

Ryoga stalked the back areas of the festival, careful
not to break anything. His eyes scanned everywhere and his
ears were perked so hard that they were aching as he
strained to listen. His umbrella was ready.

"Ryoga?"

He jumped. "AAAAAAAAHHHH!" Spinning around he put a hand
on his beating heart. "Don't scare me like that!"

Ukyou was watching him with a puzzled expression. "What
_are_ you doing? I know you're weird, but this is
ridiculous."

"Nothing," said Ryoga shortly. "You better get back to
Ranma."

Ukyou bridled, "Don't tell me what to do!"

"Please Ukyou, I'd rather you did."

She laughed at him and Ryoga's temper snapped.

"For once in your life woman, will you _please_ do what I
ask?" he yelled in exasperation, and then froze, a
horrified expression on his face.

Ukyou went white as the memories flowed back. "It was you!"

***

Ten years ago.

The little girl sobbed into the arm of her best kimono. It
was all so dark and scary, and she was alone. Totally
alone.

"Kaasan," she sobbed. "Kaasan!" In her crying, she didn't
even notice the little boy in the blue overalls and white
sweatshirt walking past until he yelled.

"Where on earth am I now?"

"Huh?" the little girl looked up. The boy looked at her.
There was an awkward silence, that was broken when her tears
overwhelmed her once more and she started crying again.

"Ah! Ah! Don't cry little girl!" said the boy. "Please don't
cry."

She sobbed.

"What's wrong?" he asked. "Are you hungry? Hurt?"

"I'm lost..." she sobbed. The boy looked surprised. "Really?
Me too!" He sat down beside her and dug through his pockets.

"Here," he said, offering her a yellow and black-spotted
handkerchief. "My name's Ryoga."

"I'm Ucchan," said Ukyou. "I can't find my daddy."

"Me neither," said Ryoga glumly. "What about your mother?"

Ukyou howled and curled into a little ball. "Kaasan! Kaasan!
Kaasan! Don't be dead... please!!!"

Ryoga looked horrified. "Pleeeeeeease don't cry," he begged.
"I'll look after you! I promise!"

"Kaasaaaaaaaaan!" Ukyou wept. Ryoga stood up and dithered
for a few minutes until Ukyou ran out of tears. She hiccuped
and subsided. Then she looked at him.

"I... I want to go home!"

"I'll help!" said Ryoga. "I'll take you there!"

Ukyou looked at him. "You will?"

"S-sure! I live around here... somewhere. I'm sure I can
find your home." Ryoga took her hand and began to walk.
"What's your address?"

***

"Ryoga, we've been past this tent three times!"

"Er... then it must be this way."

***

"Ryogaaaaaaa... we've BEEN here already."

"Sorry."

***

"Ryoga! We're right back where we started!" Ukyou snatched
her hand back. "You're so stupid! You're even more lost than
I am! I thought you said you lived around here!"

"I _do_," Ryoga protested futiley. "Somewhere."

"Then what's the address?" Ukyou demanded.

"Umm... well, you can see Mount Fuji from one side and..."

"You don't even know your own _address_? You're a stupid boy!
Stupid stupid stupid and I HATE you." Ukyou stuck her tongue
out at him. "I don't need your help!"

"Please let me help?" asked Ryoga. "I know I get lost a lot
but I'm used to it. I'm _good_ at getting lost. I'm
prob'ly the world champion at getting lost! You're not
used to it, so it could be dangerous. I promise I'll get
you home soon. I know Okinawa really well."

"We're in SHINJUKU!" Ukyou screamed at him.

"We are?" Ryoga looked surprised.

"BAKA!!!!" Ukyou turned on her heel and marched away from
him. "I'm going to find my daddy and tell him what a mean
stupid boy you are!"

"Wait Ucchan!" Ryoga yelled. "Don't go off on your own! It's
dangerous!"

Ukyou accelerated her pace.

"Ucchan!"

***

Ukyou finally stopped when she made it to the steps leading
up to the festival. "Daddy?" she asked.

"Are you lost little girl?" asked a voice.

"Yeep!" Ukyou jumped and turned around to see a man standing
behind her.

"I'm sorry if I scared you, I just wanted to see if you were
alright," said the man, smiling at her. Ukyou smiled back
and his eyes danced with delight. "My, how cute you are."

Ukyou blushed and twirled around, showing off her kimono.
"My daddy bought it for me," she said. Then tears formed
in her eyes again. The stranger knelt down beside her.

"What's your father's name?" he asked. She told him.

"Why, I know him!" said the stranger. "Very well, I spoke
to him earlier, he's been looking all over for you!"

"He has!" Ukyou brightened. "Where is he?"

"I'll take you to him!" the stranger stood up and held out
his hand, "Come with me!"

Ukyou smiled and took his hand.

***

Ukyou waited patiently while the man got his car out of
the parking lot. She was fairly bouncing up and down with
joy when a voice hissed at her.

"Hey, Ucchan!"

"What? Oh it's YOU!" Ukyou turned to see Ryoga hiding in
the bushes behind her. "What do YOU want?"

"Quick come here!" Ryoga said. "Don't go with that guy.
I don't trust him."

"Beeeeeuuuuhhhh!" Ukyou stuck her tongue out at him
again. "No way. _He's_ nice. _He's_ going to take me to
my daddy! _He_ knows which was is left and which is right!"

"I know those things too!" Ryoga said. "I just get
muddled up sometimes!"

"You're a baka baka boy and I don't like you at ALL!" said
Ukyou. "Now go away!"

Ryoga sighed. "At least let me ride with you," he said.

"NO!" Ukyou was outraged.

"Well... then unlock the back door so that I can sneak in."
said Ryoga.

"No way!" said Ukyou. "Who wants a stinky boy along! Go
home... if you can find it!" She turned her back on him.

The car pulled up. "Something wrong?" asked the nice man.

"Nope!" Ukyou smiled at him cutely.

"Well then, let's go see your father."

"Okay!"

***

Ukyou hummed happily as the car drove along. "Are you
hungry?" asked the nice man. "There's a bun in the bag in
the back if you want it."

"Yes please!" said Ukyou. The man passed her the bun and
kept an eye on her as she devoured it. The ride continued.

Ukyou blinked and yawned.

"Take a nap if you want," said the nice man. "It's quite a
way to your fathers."

"No it's not," said Ukyou. "The hotel we're in is only a
few minutes from the festival." She frowned, puzzled. "We
should be there by now." She tried to focus on the clock
on the dashboard, but it refused to come into focus.

"Oh well... he's had to move, I'm taking you to the new
place." said the nice man.

"Why would he move?" Ukyou swallowed, her mouth felt all
fuzzy. "Where are we?"

"Almost there," said the man. Ukyou looked out the window.

"Hey, we're not in Shinjuku anymore, where are we going?
HEY!!!" Ukyou was knocked back into her seat as the man
braked suddenly.

"Shut up you little brat!" he hissed. "I'll teach you to
question me!"

"Hey... you're not a nice man! Help! HELP!!!! SOMEBODY!!!"
Ukyou screamed.

But the man just laughed. "Noone's around to hear you." he
said. "This place will do just fine." He got out of the
car and dragged Ukyou out too. He flung her to the ground
of the forested area. Ukyou tried to hit him but her limbs
had gone numb. "No..." she mumbled as darkness closed in.

The man began to fiddle with the ties of her kimono and
Ukyou could only cry and watch. The last thing she saw as
darkness caved in, was Ryoga appear out of nowhere and
attack the man.

***

"Ouch! What the hell???" the man swore as Ryoga pummelled
him with his fists.

"You leave Ucchan alone!" Ryoga screamed as he punched him
"You... you... PERVERT! OWWWW!"

The man picked up Ryoga and pitched him into the trunk of
a tree. "I don't know where you came from you little
brat. But you won't be getting back there."

Ryoga crawled back onto his feet but it was hard. His
fingers were cold and numb, and the rest of him wasn't
much better. Additionally the man's exhaust pipe had
belched horrible fumes for the entire trip and he'd bruised
his chest slamming back into the rear of the vehicle when it
had abruptly stopped while he'd been leaning away from the
back trying to get a breath of fresh air. Ryoga didn't
feel good. But his anger when he'd seen the man drag Ukyou
out of the car had overridden his body.

Now however, his body was reminding him that it had been
eight hours since he ate anything, it was cold, dirty and
tired, and that it was all just a bit too much for a six
year old boy. Ryoga tried to hold back the tears welling
in his eyes, but the man saw them anyway, and grinned.

"Time for your bedtime little boy," he gloated, coming
closer. Ryoga held himself ready but was knocked head
over heels by the next blow. He lay winded in the dirt and
closed his eyes as he listened to the man approach.

*Only one chance,* he thought. The man kicked him, Ryoga
gritted his teeth and tried to ignore the pain as one of
his ribs snapped.

"That taught you, you little bastard," said the man. "Now
I'll just get rid of you, and then come back for little
Ucchan." He reached down to grab Ryoga.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!" he
screamed as Ryoga suddenly launched himself up and sunk
his teeth - including his oversized incisors - deep into
the mans ear.

"GEDOFFAMEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!" the man tried to pull Ryoga
away, but the boy hung on for dear life and clenched his
teeth harder.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRAAAAAAAAAIIIIIEEEEE!!!" the man
stumbled back. Ryoga let go and landed at the mans feet.
Then he punched with all his strength into the place he'd
been taught to hit if he was in deadly danger. The man
went white and folded up. Ryoga was already beside Ukyou
when he heard him fall, and scooped her up. Making as
best haste as he could he fled deep into the woods,
leaving his fallen foe behind.

*Please,* he prayed as he ran. *Kamisama, just this once,
please don't let me get lost!*

***

Ukyou Kuonji opened her eyes and sat up in bed.

"How are you feeling Ucchan?" asked a friendly female voice.

"Kaasan?" Ukyou looked up at the uniformed police officer.
"I want kaasan!"

The policewoman sighed sorrowfully. "I know honey, but
your father will be here soon."

"Otosan!" Ukyou sat up. "Where am I?"

"You're at the Shinjuku central police station. You wandered
off last night and got lost, everyone was really worried about
you. You were asleep when that nice little boy brought
you in this morning. He kept babbling something about "lost"
so we checked up on you and contacted your father. He spent
most of last night searching for you so it took as a while
to get hold of him. He was very relieved to hear you were
alright. Where did you go?"

Ukyou frowned. "I was lost... and then... I guess I just went
to sleep."

The policewoman nodded. "I see. Now... would you like some
breakfast?"

Ukyou nodded and the policewoman got up and left the room.
The door was open a crack and Ukyou could hear the other
police talking.

"... Lucky that kid found her. Did anyone get a look at him?
He looked a bit battered."

"Kept muttering something too. Smart kid though, to bring
her straight here."

"Where is he? We should give him an award or something?"

"Isn't he in the back room? I could have sworn he was here
a minute ago."

But then her attention was taken up by a new voice.

"UCCHAN!!!!"

"OTOSAN!!!" Ukyou leapt out of bed and ran to her waiting
father.

***

Ukyou stared at Ryoga. "It was you, all those years ago,
you saved my life!"

Ryoga shrugged awkwardly. "Yeah, well."

"Why didn't you ever SAY anything?" Ukyou demanded.

Ryoga looked even more uncomfortable. "Well, at first I didn't
recognise you. And then when I did it was obvious you didn't
recognise me, had in fact forgotten about the whole thing, I
didn't want to bring up old, bad memories."

Ukyou shuddered. "That man, he wanted to... wanted to..." She
understood now what her six-year-old self had been unable to
conceive of. "Thank you Ryoga."

Ryoga scratched the back of his head. Ukyou watched him. "Did
you ever make it home?" she inquired. He grimaced.

"Eventually, just in time to start junior high. There I met
this loudmouthed, pony-tailed kid, and, well, you know the
rest of the story."

Ukyou walked up to him and put her hand on his arm. She took
a deep breath. "You were right, I should have listened to
you. You are indeed the world champion at getting lost."

Ryoga grinned ruefully, "Thanks I think."

Ukyou pulled away again. "But why did you come back here?"

Ryoga sighed. "A couple of years ago I did some research.
That guy's still out there Ukyou. I stopped him that night,
but not permanently. I was just a kid after all. So when I
hit 13 I decided to start patrolling the Shinjuku festival
every year, just in case that sonovabitch comes back. This
time, I'll be ready for him." he tapped his umbrella
meaningfully.

Ukyou nodded. Then she looked at Ryoga. Instead of the
normally vague look on his face, it was filled with
a grim determination, and an angry light filled his eyes.

"Some day," he whispered. "I'll find that bastard... and
then... I'll make him regret hurting you Ucchan." he looked
at her. "I swear I will!"

Ukyou smiled up at him. "I believe you." she assured him.
Then she tucked one arm in his. "Want some company on your
patrol?"

"I... that'd be nice."

***

Epilogue:

Ten years later, the local newspaper reported on the
capture of a serial child molester, who drugged lost children
and then abducted them into the woods. It attributed the
capture to the dedicated work of two people: police officer
lieutenant Ryoga Hibiki, and vaunted restaraunteur Ukyou
Kuonji, nicknamed the kami of the Shinjuku Festivals for
their constant patrols for lost children, and reported that
the child the man had abducted had been returned safetly
to her parents.

A notice in the back section of the paper announced to
all that Ryoga and Ukyou Hibiki nee Kuonji were expecting
their first child in the spring.

The End.

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