Things were quiet.
At this point, the traditional followup is '/too/ quiet.'
As far as Keiichi Morisato was concerned, however, it was perfect.
Peace and quiet.
Usually, whenever he thought that, it meant amateur exorcists, vengeful First Class Demons, or over-protective Megami would shortly be turning up to disabuse him of the notion.
Not /this/ time, though.
/This/ time, they were on holiday. And /this/ time, no-one knew where they were going - and the phones had all necessary numbers on speed dial.
Of course, there was all the weirdness going on /around/ them, but so far...
...he and Bell had actually managed to *have time to themselves*.
And quite frankly, he intended to make the most of it while it lasted.
Which, all in all, does absolutely nothing to explain the fact that, when the flying saucer appeared overhead and sent him flying into the water, the last thought on his mind was:
'It's about /time/...'
'Crisp?' Fitz asked.
'Mn. What flavour?' Minagi said.
'Salt and vinegar.'
'Ooh, fanks...' Minagi said around a mouthful of crisp.
'WILL YOU LARDBUTTS GET OFFA ME?!?' Ataru Moroboshi screamed.
'No,' Minagi and Fitz said together.
'So you're his bodyguard?' Fitz asked.
'Mm-hmm. Well, sort of... It comes under the "protecting the piece of slime-".'
'HEY!!' Ataru yelled.
' "-who turns out to be a noble hero" section of the Good Space Pirates' Manual...'
'Ah...' Fitz said.
Minagi frowned. 'I think they call it the "Frog Prince" protocol, for some reason...'
'So he turned into a handsome prince yet?'
'I'm still waiting for him to turn into a /frog/...'
'HEY!!! I'M STILL HERE, Y'KNOW!!!'
Fitz frowned. 'So why d'you have to protect him?'
Minagi paused, then blushed. ' 'Cause he /is/ a prince... Or engaged to a princess, at any rate...'
'WE ARE NOT ENGAGED!! AND SHE'S /NOT/ MY WIFE!!'
'_Him?!_' Fitz said disbelievingly.
Minagi nodded. 'Him. He's the fiance of Princess Lum of the Oni Empire...'
'I AM /NOT/ HER FIANCE!!'
'...And... well, he /did/ save the Earth...'
'Tell me...' Fitz said.
'Um... He saved Earth from being conquered by the Onis by... um... snatching Lum's bikini in a game of tag...'
'Her /bikini/?!' Fitz repeated. 'And they're /engaged/?!'
Minagi nodded, blushing even brighter. 'Um...'
'Lemme guess...' Fitz said. 'You're trying to protect him from an angry horde of seriously glomped women...'
Minagi blinked. 'How'd you know?'
'The angry horde of seriously glomped women who just passed by was a good clue.'
Which was when a very, *very*, VERY loud female voice boomed from outside:
'Has anyone seen my Darling, t'cha?'
'What was _that?!_' Fitz yelped.
' I think _that_ would be the Princess Lum...' Minagi said.
'Funny, I thought she'd sound a lot smaller...'
When Keiichi pulled himself out of the pool, Bell was already greeting the new arrival.
The green-haired girl in the tiger-striped bikini had the familiar 'Is This Girl For Real?! (tm)' look people got when first meeting Bell.
The floating boy, too.
The floating boy?!
DefCon Level Four and rising....
The girl was opening and closing her mouth (in yet another passable goldfish imitation. Funny, there seemed to be a lot of goldfish imitators round these days...). 'You... You're...'
'WOW! Can I have your autograph?' the boy said.
Bell... Bell actually looked /embarrassed/. 'Well...'
'TEN!' the girl scolded. 'She is a *goddess*! You do not ask the gods for autographs!'
Then she blushed slightly. 'Umm... would you mind, Megami-sama?'
Defcon Level Three...
Bell turned round. 'Oh... Keiichi!'
Keiichi waved off her ministrations . ' 's okay. I'll dry off...'
'Keiichi... May I introduce Her Royal Highness, Princess Lum of the Oni Empire, and her cousin, His Highness, Prince Ten.' Bell was *still* blushing heavily.
Keiichi bowed (a little). 'Miss Lum. Mr Ten.'
Lum's mouth had dropped open even further. '/He/ is... /He's.../' Her jaw worked for a few minutes, but nothing came out.
She curtsied. 'Morisato-domo!'
Keiichi winced. 'It's Keiichi...'
Defcon Level Two...
'Please, Your Highness!' Bell tried to explain. '...I've only /contracted/ with Keiichi... and you're embarrassing him.'
'But to win a Megami's heart...' Lum breathed.
'Yuck!' Ten interjected.
'Um... Bell?' Keiichi said.
'I'm so /sorry/, Keiichi-san!' Bell whispered urgently. '...But ...we were younger then, and... I made a slip of the tongue, and... Kami-sama wouldn't speak to us for a /week/ afterwards...'
Bell looked down, still blushing. '...My sisters and I... we're worshipped as goddesses in the Oni Empire...'
We have liftoff.
'You've gotta get me outta here before she turns up!' Ataru wailed. '_Please_! I'm _begging_ you...'
'Uh-uh.' Minagi said. 'She'll want to know whether you're all right... and, as your bodyguard, it's /my/ responsibility to make sure you're all right...'
Fitz was grinning his head off. Getting to see someone _else_ on the receiving end, for once...
'C'mon,' he said, still grinning. 'She's your fiancee! The light of your life! She /deserves/ to know whether or not you're okay!'
'NO SHE DOESN'T!!!' Ataru screamed. 'She can-!'
Fitz wagged his finger. 'Ah-ah... Is that /any/ way to talk about the girl of your dreams?'
'Girl of my nightmares!'
'If she's a nightmare, I'd hate to see what you dream about...' Fitz said. 'Gotta be better than /my/ dreams...'
'You think I _want_ that jealous, lightning-throwing, psycho Oni around?!'
Minagi and Fitz looked at each other and grinned the Grin of Evil (tm).
'Wait till Meg hears about /this/...' Keiichi murmured. 'Mm?'
'Keiichi-domo,' Lum said. 'I am on a search for my Darling and betrothed, Ataru Moroboshi-'
'*HIM?*' Keiichi splurted. 'But... But he's... But...'
'He is /my/ fiancee,' Lum said. 'and the one I love.... Please, Keiichi-domo?'
Well, they /did/ say love was blind... Keiichi reflected, although in _this_ case, love wasn't just blind, it was deaf, mute, /and/ tasteless...
'Well...' he began.
Which was when Fey, yawning and stretching her arms, stepped onto the poolside.
And Lum boggled.
'NO!! PLEASE!!!' Ataru screamed, clinging to the door. 'I'LL DO ANYTHING YOU WANT, JUST DON'T MAKE ME GO OUT THERE!!!'
'I have a /duty/,' Minagi said. 'What kind of honourable space pirate am I, if I can't even keep a simple duty like this?'
Ataru turned pleading eyes on Fitz.
'I just wanna see the happy couple back together,' Fitz said, grinning. 'Nothing like true love, is there?'
'Nope.' Minagi said.
'HEEEEEEELLLLPPPP!!!! I'M TRAPPED WITH TWO RAVING LOONIES!!! HEEEEEELLLLPPP!!!!'
'That sounded like lech-boy!' Ten said. 'He wails like a _girl_!'
Lum stopped, mid-float. 'Oh no! Darling! I must go to him at once!'
With that, she rushed off.
Fey blinked, and walked over to Keiichi and Bell. 'What, precisely, is going /on/ around here?!'
'Long story...' Keiichi said. '...Why did she call you Auntie?'
Fey took in the flying saucer hanging over the pool. 'Ah. Oni...' She started grinning. 'I always /wondered/ what happened to that young lady...'
'You /know/ her?'
'In a sense,' Fey said, the smile still tweaking at her mouth. 'I'll explain on the way...'
She shook her head, almost disbelievingly. 'Auntie...'
Fitz started whistling happily.
'What? WHAT?!' Ataru wailed.
'Oh, nothing...' Fitz said. 'Just... when someone startes wailing like /that/...'
'...It usually means...' Minagi said.
'Akkk! Someone... help... me...'
'Help?' Fitz said. 'I don't see anyone round here needing help, do you?'
Minagi shook her head. 'Oh /no/. All /I/ see is a happy couple reunited after many months apart. Who could /possibly/ need help here?'
'Get... me... out... of... here...!'
Minagi looked around. 'Fitz... do /you/ see anyone round here being held against their will?'
'Here?' Fitz said. 'This is a hotel!'
'I thought you'd say that.'
'Don't _do_ this to me...' Ataru managed to squeak out. 'Just... get...me... away from.. this psycho...'
'DARLING NO BAKA!!' Lum shouted.
Fitz winced. 'Yow. That's /gotta/ hurt.'
It was, Keiichi thought, almost /too/ easy.
Largely thanks to the massive wreckage Lum had left in her flight.
'I wonder if...' Bell began.
'Lum's gonna pay, Lum's gonna pay...' Ten sang happily.
'I don't /think/ you need to worry about that...' Keiichi said. 'Besides, you're not responsible for the damage she caused...'
'I know... but we /are/ guests here, and it is our responsibility to repay our host's kindness.' Bell said. 'Especially since the holiday is free... we do owe some obligation.'
Keiichi half-smiled. Just like Bell, to be concerned over something like that. It might seem ridiculous to anyone else... but it was part of what he loved about her.
Hmm. Wonder if Lum sees anything like that in /him/?
'DARLING!!' Lum shouted. 'I was so /worried/! What /happened/ to you? Were you kidnapped again?'
'Again?!' Fitz murmured.
'Did-?' Lum began.
With supreme quickness of thought, Minagi stepped in before Ataru had a chance to offer /his/ version of events (and, incidentally, get Minagi and Fitz electrocuted).
'Your Highness,' Minagi began. 'We found your fiancee on the shore of the island, having swum a most arduous journey, seeking escape from who could guess what unimaginable horror...?'
I could, Fitz thought, smirking.
'We have taken care of him, and restored him to health, knowing how much he means to you, until such time as we could get in touch with you and let you know his status... I'm sorry it took us so long,' Minagi said, 'but we kept looking under "Oni" rather than "Princess" in the telephone directory...'
'MMMPH!!!' was Ataru's muffled shout.
'How could I ever repay-' Lum began.
Minagi raised a hand. 'No repayment necessary, ma'am. That the two of you have been reunited... for us, that is enough.'
'But... You've brought my Darling back to me!' Lum said. 'Please...'
Fitz grinned. 'There is /one/ thing...'
'How'd you do that lightning bolt thing? I've always wondered...'
Minagi, Ten, Bell, Fey, Fitz and Keiichi sat on the hotel steps, watching a screaming Ataru Moroboshi get chased by his floating Oni fiancee.
'Crisp?' Minagi said.
'Oh, thanks.' Ten said.
He grinned as Lum threw another lightning bolt at her (unwilling) fiancee. 'He can certainly _run_...'
'Yeah... I think he broke the three minute mile there...' Fitz observed.
Ten frowned. 'I thought that was normal...'
'For the Flash, yeah. For everybody else...' Fitz glanced at Ten's uncomprehending face. '...well, every other /human/...'
Fitz sighed. 'Never mind... "Auntie"?'
Fey looked quite unabashed. 'Yes?'
'_Her?!_' Fitz jerked a disbelieving finger in Lum's direction.
'We're not family...' Fey said. 'How can I put it...? Miss Lum - and Mr Ten's - grandmother was quite the hellion in her younger days - joyriding spaceships, capturing innocent space pirates...'
'Innocent?' Minagi said.
'They were after she'd finished with them...' Fey said. 'And, in the course of one of her escapades, she arrived on Earth...' She winced. 'I have /never/ been more grateful for the Doctor's assistance.'
Fey gave Fitz one of those *looks*. 'You've played royal babysitter in your time....'
Fitz winced. 'Yow...'
Minagi *blinked*. 'You /have/?!'
'Oh yeah...' Fitz shuddered. 'And believe me, I /never/, /ever/ wanna repeat it...'
Fey frowned. 'Although... I have absolutely /no/ idea what I did to get called Auntie.'
'The orgies!' Ten piped up.
'The /orgies/?!' Fitz, Keiichi and Minagi echoed.
'The /orgies/?' Fey frowned.
'An' the fights, an' the beating on baka, an' the flyin' in ornithopters...' Ten continued.
Fey considered this.
Then she facefaulted. 'Oh dear God... I /knew/ I should have thought before I took her on that mission...'
Fitz raised an eyebrow. 'I've said it before and I'm gonna say it again... Fey, /sue Ian Fleming/!'
'Ian who?' Minagi asked blankly.
Fitz simply grinned wickedly.
'Here comes another James Bond video marathon...' Fey murmured.
'Fey... you know we could just do a cross over...' Fitz said, grinning again.
Both of them looked at each other, looked at Minagi, looked at each other again, winced in unison, and shut up.
'Bell, are you okay?' Keiichi asked concernedly.
Bell nodded. 'Misdirection program... takes lot of energy...'
'Misdir-?' Minagi began, then looked at the scene in front of them. 'Oh, /I/ get it...'
'Couldn't... let him get hurt...' Bell said, her eyes still closed. 'Didn't deserve it... too /damaging/... had to shield him...'
'Awwww!!!' Ten grumbled. 'He's not gonna get zapped?!'
'Well... no,' Fitz said. 'But how long's it gonna take her to work it out?'
Ten started smirking.
Keiichi's eyes widened. 'Oh no. Oh no. Bell, how much of your energy are you using?!
'Oh no. Oh no. Minagi, *get him!*'
Minagi looked round. 'Why?'
Keiichi cradled Bell closer to him. 'Bell's using up her power trying to shield him! She's gonna run out!'
'LUM NO BAKA! Look at what you're doing!'
'_FEY?!_' Keiichi and Minagi gasped.
Fitz grinned. 'You ain't seen /nothing/ yet.'
'Lum-chan... Lum-chan actually... Wow! This's one for the album!!'
Ataru collapsed on the ground (from exhaustion, rather than lightning bolt, much to his surprise).
Lum settled down on the ground next to Fey. 'Sorry, Auntie.'
'Quite alright, Lum-chan.' Fey said. 'You're looking over the one you love. What more reason do you need?'
Lum appeared thoughtful for a moment.
'Would you introduce me to the others here?'
Ataru 's eyes widened, and he started waving frantically at Fey, mouthing 'NO NO NO NO _NO!!!_ IN THE NAME OF KAMI-SAMA, *NOOOOOO!!!!*'
Unfortunately, Fey wasn't paying attention.
'Darling still needs time to heal from his ordeal-' Lum said.
For some reason, the others had to turn away at this point.
'-and I should be with him, to look after him, t'cha?'
Fey nodded. 'Of course, Lum-chan.'
Lum beamed. 'Thank you, Auntie!'
Which was about when an angry group of seriously glomped women burst out of the hotel and proceeded to pound Ataru (just picking himself up) into a greasy smear on the ground.
The others winced.
'Oy. That's /got/ to hurt...'
Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat.