email@example.com (Ukyou Kuonji)
The Ill-Timed Cure: a Ranma 1/2 fanfiction
Ranma 1/2 and all the characters therein are copyright Rumiko
Takahashi and are being used without permission.
This past Sunday morning, Ryoga woke up in bed with Akane. Naked.
Actually, this is a rather common occurrence, not that I like it
any more for that fact. If anything, it just bugs me that much more
that Akane's sleeping with that dope. She, of course, has no clue
*why* it bothers me so; but then, she had no idea it was Ryoga,
after all, and I was bound by my warrior's oath not to reveal his
weakness to anyone. To her, it was just her pet P-chan. Cute as
a teddy bear, in her eyes, and about as harmless.
And naturally, he blamed me for it.
There's no school on Sundays, so Akane usually takes the opportunity
to sleep in. That's her prerogative, I suppose, but that lazy
tomboy's never gonna become a great martial artist if she's gonna
lounge around in bed until 9 a.m. every chance she gets. And it's
not like the `beauty sleep' argument works: ya gotta *have* beauty
first for beauty sleep to do any good.
Anyway, I was up at 6 or so, doing my tai-chi and a few other
exercises. Once I finished with that, I headed over to Ucchan's
for breakfast (Kasumi sleeps in occasionally on Sundays, too).
Spent the better part of an hour and a half chowing down and
chatting with Ukyou; the usual stuff. Got to the part about our
futures, and how I'd end up teaching martial arts, and I realized
that I'd stayed too long. I was helping Mr. Tendo with a Sunday
morning kids class at 8:30, and I'd have to run to make it.
Ucchan gave me a quick kiss on the cheek (I wish she wouldn't
do that. Bad enough Shampoo glomps onto me whenever she gets
a chance. Thank heavens the place was empty at the time. If
Akane'd find out...), and I scrambled outta there and sped back
to the dojo.
And that's when Ryoga tried to kill me. Again
He made his usual entrance, which is to say he was yelling at
me even from blocks away.
"RANMA SAOTOME! You have humiliated me for the last time!!
PREPARE TO DIE!!" And then he makes his patented leap, with the
umbrella pointed down at me like a spear. Well, I wasn't prepared
to die, but I *was* prepared to dodge. I jumped onto a light pole,
and when Ryoga landed, I bounced onto his head, and down to the
ground. And they he lay, flat on his back, in the middle of one
of his trademark craters. The jerk's gonna make Nerima look like
the moon someday if he keeps this up. Come to think of it, though,
he seemed pretty banged-up already. I was pretty sure I couldn't
have done that just from stepping on his head. Well, anyway...
I didn't really have time for this, so I just kept on running.
Then I realized that he had gotten up (so soon?) and was in hot
pursuit. Just great. Okay, buster... and I sped down a zigzag
maze of alleys until I was satisfied that I'd lost him (of course,
this is Ryoga, so it didn't take long). Then I sauntered back to
the dojo, and joined the class that had just started.
"You're late, Ranma-kun."
"Gomen nasai, Tendo-sensei. Went out for breakfast..." I noticed
him twitch at that. Oops. "...and I was, erm, accosted, on the way
"Nn. Well, never mind that. It's time for class..." and he turned
to face the children, indicating I should do likewise. We bowed to
"Ohayo gozaimasu, class." The kids responded in unison.
"Ohayo gozaimasu, Tendo-sensei, Saotome-sensei." I picked up my
clipboard to take roll, while Mr. Tendo busied himself gathering
"Masanori-kun?" "Hai!" I'd come to the end of my list, and I saw
out of the corner of my eye that there was still one more person I
"Uhm... and you are?" I asked, pen poised to scribble in the name.
A semi-falsetto voice answered me.
"Hibiki Ryoga..." I was just about to write it down, somewhat absent-
mindedly -- how could it possibly be him? I'd lost him just a few
minutes ago in the streets of Nerima -- when it dropped to his normal
pitch, with a touch of menace in it "...sensei." I looked up,
thoroughly surprised. Sure enough, there he was, with this *angelic*
grin on his face. It quickly transformed into a smirk as he chirped
out a falsetto "Hai!" like the others had.
How in the world...? He found this place before *I* had, even.
Then it hit me: when you're *trying* to lose him, it'll never work.
He'll always find you when you don't want him to. Damn. I'd
What happened next, though, *really* took me by surprise.
There was a low rumble, like distant thunder, coming from the
equipment cabinet. I could dimly recognize what was coming, but
for the life of me, I hadn't the faintest clue what I had done this
time that was so wrong. Then the demonic face that was Mr. Tendo's
angry battle aura sprang from the cabinet toward ...Ryoga?
"RYO....GA!!! HOW *DARE* YOU MOLEST MY LITTLE GIRL!" He roared
over to Ryoga, and grabbed him by belt loop and collar. The next
thing anyone knew, he had taken him outside the dojo, tossed him
into the air, and punted him into orbit. I made note of the fact
that, as furious as Mr. Tendo was, he'd taken the trouble to open
the doors and go outside before inflicting injury. I suppose he
figured there was no sense wrecking the dojo when he knew he'd have
to fix it himself, but you have to admire the presence of mind
At this point, I had to turn my attention to the kids, who were
all huddling around me, clutching my waist or knee, depending on
their height. They were all staring at me with eyes big as saucers,
as big as those kids you see in the manga books. Since his anger
wasn't directed at me (for a change), and he had dealt his vengeance
to Ryoga, I figured I was safe in attempting to calm him down.
"Uh, Tendo-sensei... the kids. Can we get back to them?" He spun
around, and instantly assumed a posture of acute embarrassment: right
hand up, rubbing the back of his neck. He could tell from looking at
his students that he'd scared the living tar out of them, and he was
thoroughly abashed about it.
"Uh...heh-heh. Sorry about that, children. Just a little...
personal business to attend to..." He briefly flashed me a look
that said "See me after class," and I hoped he'd give me some
explanation for his outburst before trying to thrash me for whatever
he seemed to think I'd done wrong this time.
As for the kids, now that his rage had passed, and they were
reassured that it hadn't been directed at them, they swarmed around
Mr. Tendo like bees.
"Sugoi, Tendo-sensei! That was so cool! Can you teach us that
technique?" Amazing how quickly they forget their fears, really.
Mr. Tendo once again assumed the `modest' posture, and hemmed and
hawed a bit. I knew from experience that he wasn't exactly *proud*
of this so-called `demon-head' technique, as he considered himself
to be out of control when he would execute it. No kidding. He'd
apologized to me on several occasions after he'd using it -- on?
at? -- me for something I'd said (or refused to say) about his
`little girl.' Whatever it was that caused never was deserving
of such a violent attack, and he would admit that afterwards.
Anyway, he was in a bit of an awkward situation, with the kids
being so fascinated by it. Rather than let him explain it to them,
I figured I could take him off the hook.
"Now, kids... that sort of technique takes a great deal of
concentrated emotional energy." Somehow, I figured the word
`passion' just wouldn't register with them. Not when they're
this young. "Anyway, you'd probably need to be at least second
or third dan to even *attempt* it. I'm sixth dan myself, and I've
*never* been able to master it." Not that I'd even tried, or wanted
to. "In any case, you kids will have to get cracking if you're gonna
get your first black belts in the next couple of years. And speaking
of getting cracking, let's begin today's lesson: everybody get into
From there, the class went by rather uneventfully, aside from
the occasional injury. Some kids just insist on getting to the
cinderblocks before they're ready to. And sometimes it takes the
kids a while to recover -- this isn't a cartoon, after all, this
is real life. Otherwise, though, I coulda led this class in my
And while I didn't actually *sleep* during class (I'll save that
for when I'm not moving, like in Ms. Hinomiya's English class or
something), my mind did wander a bit. Maybe Mr. Tendo was going
to explain his little outburst to me afterwards. Usually, he and
Ryoga get along reasonably well, although he's never taken kindly
to Ryoga's affection for Akane. Sometimes, I wish he would -- at
least that would mean I'd get *one* fiancée off my back, and maybe
she'd quit beating on me.... Naah.
Wait a tic... what was it he'd said? "How dare you molest my
Molest? Ryoga? That sly fox! I'd never'a' thought he'd had it
in him to put the moves on...
Why, that... pervert!
"Okay, kids. That's enough for one morning. Hiroe-chan, make
sure your mom changes that bandage every couple of days. Let it
air out a bit. Yoichi-kun, those were some excellent acrobatics,
but let's try not to get *too* carried away, there. Remember,
martial arts is about physical and mental *control* as much as
exertion. See you all next Sunday, and... yes, Eichiro-kun,
I'll try to be on time next time if you will. Smart aleck...."
I grinned. Once the kids had cleared out, I turned to Mr. Tendo.
"Alright, Mr. Tendo. Wouldja mind explaining what all that was
about before class?"
"Ranma... son. You've *got* to protect my little girl. You're
her fiancée, right?"
Well, I don't always like this fiancée business, but I can't deny
that we're engaged or nothin'. Heck, I've admitted it, publicly...
once or twice... under duress. "What's your point, Mr. Tendo? What
the heck happened? And where does Ryoga fit into this?" Mr. Tendo
began to tremble with rage as he replied:
"That... that... that PERVERT Ryoga was in bed with my little
Akane! YOUR Akane, Ranma! This morning!" I coulda told him that.
Actually... no, I couldn't. The warrior's code forbids me from
revealing an opponent's weakness.
"Was P-chan around anywhere at the time?" Yeah, I have to admit
I smirked at bit at this. Okay, so I'm forbidden to tell of Ryoga's
weak spot in so many words, but I never saw anything wrong with
dropping hints. Not that *anyone* ever seemed to figure it out.
Heck, if I'm not mistaken, Mr. Tendo's seen Ryoga transform and
for whatever reason never bothered to put two and two together.
Otherwise, He shouldn't've been surprised by whatever it was
happened this morning. To the best of my knowledge, the only
ones who knew, besides me and Ryoga, were Ucchan (and her warrior's
code was as strict as mine, if not more so) and Akari (and she *liked*
the fact that he turned into a pig, and wanted to keep this precious
little secret to herself as well). Anyway, this hint was no different.
"Wh-what does her pet PIG have to do with anything?!" he sputtered
at me. "Your friend --"
"He's NO friend of mine!" Now *I* was getting mad. But Mr. Tendo
ignored me completely
"-- was lying next to Akane, naked as the day he was born. WHAT
was he doing there?"
"Whaddya asking ME for?! How should I know? D'ya think I *invited*
him to sleep with her or somethin'?"
It's amazing sometimes, what Mr. Tendo hears and doesn't hear:
"You INVITED him to sleep with her?!" he gasped. "Get OUT!! GET
OUT OF MY HOUSE!!!" He was firing up that demon-head thing; I was
in no position to argue. I got out.
And went looking for Ryoga.
Stupid Mr. Tendo. Always over-reacting. And now, he'll tell his
side of the story to the girls, and they'll think I'm absolute scum,
that I'd actually *ask* Ryoga to sleep with Akane. Now why the hell
would I do that, anyway? Could they possibly be that dumb as to
Akane might. She's got the Tendo temper in spades. And she's
probably mad enough to believe ANYthing bad about me. Just like
Oh, yeah. I'm supposed to be looking for him. Right.
Well, I didn't find him. HE found ME. Grabbed me by the collar,
and yanked me into a nearby alley. You'd never have suspected him
to be the mugger type, huh? Well, it wasn't money he wanted. It
was the usual:
"Now, I can have my revenge on you for my humiliation!" Despite
his grip on my collar, I knew I was more than a match for him in a
fair fight, so I wasn't really worried. Just curious.
"*What* are ya blaming me for this time, P-chan? Global warming?"
"Don't call me P-chan!"
"Well, it's your own fault. Sooner or later, it was bound to happen,
even if by accident. You know, you take an awful risk every night,
when you spend it with Akane." Even as I was saying this, I realized
I was getting myself into more trouble with each word: it was starting
to sound like *I* was admitting to having splashed him.
"So... you admit to it, do you?" Yeah, I called THAT one. Just
then, a splash of cold water hit us from above. Dammit, for once,
couldn't folks in Nerima be as polite as the Japanese are supposed
to be in the guide books, and at least shout some kind of warning?
Didn't faze Ryoga, though: "I'm gonna pulverize you once and for
all!" Then, it hit me.
"Ryoga, you big jerk. It couldn't have been me who splashed you."
"And WHY NOT?!"
"Okay... One: I was at Ucchan's this morning for breakfast. She'll
vouch for me. I don't think I was anywhere NEAR the dojo at the time.
Two: I've tried nailing you a couple times early on, remember? I
always gave you warning. And you *always* got me into trouble by
knocking me into Akane. Three: It's the warrior's code. It's not
right to reveal an enemy's weak spot like that. Four, and this
oughta convince you: Don't you think if I got my hands on the
Nanniichuan, I'd use it on MYSELF first?"
That last one stopped him in his tracks. "Hunh?! N-N-Nanniichuan?"
"Well, yeah. Look at me." He let go -- whew! Now I could breathe
There I stood, busty as ever. "I mean, shouldn't you be a pig by
now? You're as wet as I am." He just stood there, looking at his
hands in disbelief.
"You're right! I'm wet! And I'm STILL HUMAN! I'M CURED!! I'M
CURED!!" He started dancing around me. Eventually, he grabbed my
hands, and spun both of us around and around, all the while yelling
"I'M CURED!! I'M CURED!!" I tried to get him to let go, as we were
starting to spin rather fast. I finally had to bite his hand, at
which point he let go with a yelp of pain and surprise. The force
of his spinning was such that I wound up flung amongst a pile of
garbage cans. Maybe that wasn't such a good idea, after all.
My teeth had left no impression on Ryoga's celebratory mood.
"I'M CURED!! I can finally tell Akane how I feel about her without
worrying about my curse!"
"Ohhh, no you can't." I snapped, still rubbing my head. He
stopped short. So abruptly, in fact, that his momentum nearly
knocked him over.
"Wh-whaddya mean, I can't?"
"Did you already forget why yer so damn mad at me in the first
place? You got caught in Akane's bed this morning... and you weren't
a pig... and you weren't dressed. I don't think you're getting
anywhere *near* Akane for a *long* time to come."
I had to feel sorry for him. Just when he's the happiest he's
been, probably, in his whole life, here I go and bust his bubble.
And now, he's as sad as I've ever seen him. Come to that, maybe I
oughta start inching away. Any moment now, he could materialize a
Shichi Hokodan chi-ball, and I'd just as soon be outta the area
should that happen.
But nothing did happen. He just slumped against a wall and started
crying. Dammit. I can't deal with it when Akane does this, or Ukyou,
or Shampoo, or Kodachi, or... or Ryoga.
"Aw, Ryoga. Snap out of it. Tell ya what, you and me, we'll hunt
down the jerk who did this to ya."
"sniff You will?"
I couldn't help grinning.
"Sure. You don't think I'm gonna let you be the only one who gets
cured, do ya?"
When dusk started to fall, I walked him back to the dojo, so he
wouldn't get lost. On the way, I told him how Mr. Tendo had thrown
*me* out as well. We both had a good laugh at his overreaction.
"You gotta be kidding! He thought you *asked* me to sleep with
her? Oh, man.." He practically doubled over. "What was that
"I have *no* flippin' idea. Maybe he thought I wanted you to
break her in or somethin'"
"Well, you got any other guesses?"
Suddenly, Ryoga stopped laughing.
"But that means he's not gonna let you in, either! And I'm
*definitely* not allowed to drop in, you know."
"Relax. I imagine Kasumi will have talked some sense into him
by now. Besides, it's either let me back in, or throw out his old
pal Saotome. Much as I think he'd be better off if he did -- I just
wish for once, we'd get into a situation where Pop would suffer as
much as I usually end up doing -- he's not likely to do that.
Besides, he'll rather *I* defend Akane's honor against you than
have to do it himself.
"As for you, well... maybe you should camp out in the dojo. I
imagine *nobody's* gonna want you in the house until this is all
sorted out. Even *I* haven't _ever_ been too keen on your sleeping
with Akane – and would you wipe that stupid grin off your face? --
but what could I do to stop her, huh? But there's a couple back
rooms in the building; you can stay there, and as long as you don't
come out too often, you should be pretty safe."
"B-but *why* are you trying to smuggle me into the dojo?"
"Look, I wasn't kidding about the cure. I don't care what Nabiki
says about it being cool or nothin'. I hate being a girl -- even
a kawaii girl -- half my life. Yeah, I know... I s'pose I got off
easy, compared to you and Mousse. And Shampoo -- brrr! But it's
still no picnic. Whoever did this to you has the Nanniichuan water
on `em, and I intend t'find it. At which point, you're entitled to
do as you wish to whoever it is.
"Anyway, I can't imagine that we've got a really *long* list of
suspects, so this shouldn't take a lot of time. Now, who actually
knows you have this curse, and of those people, who would want to
give it to you in such an inopportune manner, hm?"
"Well, there's Shampoo, for starters. And her great-grandmother..."
"Yeah... and either of them is mean enough to do it, too. But
why? It doesn't make sense. I mean, Shampoo wants me..."
Ryoga pulled a face at me. "Hmph. Don't *we* have an ego!"
"Can you deny it? It's why she's here in Japan, just ask her!"
"Anyway, what would curing you solve for them? It would be
preferable to them that you get together with Akane, which would
free me up. Something like this would obviously do the opposite
of that -- I don't need to tell you that Akane is probably not
going to be in any mood to have anything to do with you for quite
a while." He looked very sad and thoughtful for a moment, and
"I suppose that rules out Ukyou for the same reason." I nodded.
"How about Akari? She'd like it that Akane's out of my life.."
I almost burst out laughing. "Do you really think she'd do that?
For that matter, do you really think she KNOWS you spend every night
in Akane's bed?" Then I stopped laughing, as it began to make sense:
"She'd be livid. Hmm... well, if she had found out, it's within the
realm of possibility, but I dunno. Doesn't seem her style. Doesn't
she actually *like* you as a pig, after all?" Ryoga actually winced
at that thought.
"Anyway, we've made it home. Let me get you into the dojo..."
and I sprang onto the roof, clutching his hand (I was glad to be
a girl, or I'd have really felt strange holding a guy's hand).
We landed in the courtyard, just outside of the dojo. I peeked
inside to assure myself that no one was in there, and the two of
us slunk in.
Behind the back wall of the dojo, on which the calligraphed word
"HA-RO-I" hung, were a couple of empty practice rooms. I showed
Ryoga into one of them.
"You can stay here for the time being, while I try to get to the
bottom of this. Just try and keep quiet if you hear someone using
the dojo – although if it's me, and I'm by myself, I'll let you know
it's safe, okay?" Ryoga nodded, and began unpacking some foodstuffs
from his backpack. "Great. Just make yourself at home. Just try
not to be seen. And for that matter, don't go anywhere, either...
you might wind up somewhere that isn't healthy for you t'be. I'll
be back if I find something out." I bounded back out of the courtyard,
and landed at the front door. Might as well enter as if nothing was
unusual… which, I suppose, would be unusual in and of itself.
"Tadaima! I'm hooome! Kasumi?"
"Oh, hello there, Ranma. I think Father wants to see you: something
he needs to say to you, I think." She shot him a bit of a look. I
wandered into the dining room and sat down next to him. He seemed
rather contrite. Good.
"Son, I have discussed this matter with Kasumi, and she believes I
may have over-reacted in throwing you out of the house this morning."
Well, *duh*. "I realize now that you had nothing to do with Ryoga's
actions, and had no knowledge of what transpired until I told you.
Can you forgive me?"
Hey, as long as things are back to something resembling normal,
I'm not too concerned. I just wish he wouldn't keep pulling that
demon-head thing in the first place. He *always* ends up regretting
it. Anyway, yeah, I forgave him, and got the usual sobs of gratitude
from him. Then he straightened up and calmed himself.
"Now son, while it was unreasonable of me to hold you responsible
for what happened this morning -- it's not as though anyone would
have suspected Ryoga of such tendencies -- I believe you must
redouble your efforts. Akane's honor is at stake here, and you're
her fiancé. You've *got* to keep an eye out for her. I want you
to protect her."
"Don't worry, Mr. Tendo. I want to get to the bottom of this every
bit as much as you do." That my motives were entirely different from
what he was going to believe was irrelevant. I was telling the truth,
after all.. sort of. But if he knew how I was going about looking
for the truth... oh boy, would there be hell to pay.
I gulped down my meal faster than usual, which, according to some
folks, is saying a lot. Still, I had a... `guest' to look after, so
I knew I'd need to check on him periodically. But maybe for once,
I'd give credit where it was due, first, since I was pretty sure
that otherwise, I was being rather rude:
"Kasumi, it's been another wonderful meal. Thanks."
"Not at all," she smiled. Practically beamed, in fact. Hmm.
I gotta try complimenting her more often. She's cute when she
smiles, too. "It's always a pleasure, seeing how enthusiastically
you eat everything I serve." All at once I could feel the heat of
an angry aura behind me. I didn't have to turn around to figure
out who it was, but like an idiot, I did anyway.
Yup. Akane. Mad as usual. A compliment to Kasumi was an insult
to her, always. I just can't win, can I? Now I remembered why I
*didn't* usually do that.
"Hey... what is it this time? Aw, c'mon Akane, can't I compliment
Kasumi on a job well done?" I started inching backwards as she
stood up and approached me.
"Will you STOP mentioning cooking around me, you insensitive baka?!"
"What!? I wasn't talking to you, I wa--" Then my words got stuck
in my throat as I looked her up and down and noticed she was holding...
"P-CHAN??! How... how the hell did he get here?"
"DON'T TRY TO CHANGE THE SUBJECT!" Well, I could still relax.
She wasn't about to drop her precious pet pig in order to hit me.
But I definitely needed to put some distance between me and her at
any rate. I vaulted over her head, and landed in the courtyard.
"Can we talk about this later, Akane? I gotta go." I yelled over
my shoulder as I sped to the dojo.
I hurried back to the practice rooms behind the dojo. "Ryoga?
"Yeah, right here." I let out a sigh of relief.
"Okay, good. So then that wasn't you in there."
"Wasn't me where?"
"In the dining room, stupid."
"Are you kidding? What kind of an idiot do you think I am? Akane
and her dad would kill me if they found me." He shuddered audibly.
"Why on earth would I go there?"
"I dunno, but Akane's got P-Chan with her right now..."
"What? That's impossible! I'M P-Chan!"
"Hunh. NOW you admit it. Just you *try* telling that to her.
I was considering breaking the truth to her about you -- hey, don't
look at me like that, it's better than having her think you're a
complete pervert, ne? Besides, it was her idea to have you sleeping
with her in the first place, so it's not like she could blame anybody
but herself -- but since you're cured, we can't prove you change into
a pig. And since she has a pig already --"
"Whoa, back up. She's found another pig? Already?"
"Yeah, and he's a dead ringer for ya. Everything but the bandana.
It's white and kinda lumpy instead of yellow."
"Ranma!" He stood up and grabbed my by the collar. "This is not
"Erm, fine. Could you let go'a me?"
"Oh, sorry." He dropped me to the ground, and started pacing.
"It makes perfect sense now. Whoever cured me cursed himself (or
herself --" I winced at the thought of some *girl* wanting to be
P-chan, and he took note of my reaction, "hey, you never know.)
So now they've replaced me. It's a perfect motive!
"But who would do it? And who *could*?"
Someone else who wants to sleep with that kawaiikune tomboy?
Geez, there are some SICK people in this world, aren't there?
Hold it... what kinda pervert would...?
That was IT. I could see the light bulb go on over Ryoga, too.
We said it together.
Ryoga and I waited until the dead of night to continue our
investigation. Even if we were positive that the little creep
wasn't going to be in his room, there was no sense in alerting
anyone else. After all, Ryoga was already persona non grata for
having been caught in bed with Akane this morning. And I didn't
want to dump hot water and expose the fake P-chan for who he was
until I was absolutely certain who he was and how to deal with him.
Besides, I'd gotten into enough trouble from trying that stunt
before with Ryoga as P-chan. And I'd wager Happosai would put
up a lot more fight, too, especially after fondling Akane (yuk!)
for all that time.
Assuming it *was* Happosai, I wondered whether Mr. Tendo would
deal with him in the same manner as he had with Ryoga. I snorted
in derision at the thought: Yeah, right. Consistency was never
old man Tendo's strong suit. Unless you counted being consistently
wimpy. He's hardly any better than my old man.
Around midnight or so, I bolted awake (a true warrior can tell
his body when to get up, and have it obey, no matter the time.
Now, in case you're wondering why I'm so hard to wake up on school
days if this is the case, it's because I don't consider school that
important. But you knew that, didn't you?) and crept out my bedroom
window. I leaped to the ground, and landed silently on my toes.
A couple of hops, and I was over the pond and in the dojo.
"Ryoga!" I hissed. The only reply was a rather sleepy mumble.
Aw, crap. I wandered back to the practice rooms. There he was,
still sound asleep. Okay then, kiddo...
I grabbed a fire bucket from the dojo, and filled it with pond
water. I walked back to the practice room, and drizzled the water
onto his head (It's quieter than just splashing the bucket at him).
After a moment or two, he sat up, spluttering and spitting water.
"Hey, what's the big idea?" I put on a big grin.
"Oh c'mon, Ryoga. Doesn't that feel good, to get hit with cold
water and not change into something? Come on, we gotta check out
the old lech's room, okay?"
We crossed the moonlit courtyard to the house, and climbed the wall
underneath Happosai's window. If we were right, we wouldn't encounter
him. Of course, if we were wrong, we'd have some explaining to do.
Maybe something about refining our ninja skills, and would he please
teach us some? That might just settle him down.
The window was surprisingly easy to jimmy open, leading both of
us to suspect a trap. Of course, I've had pretty good luck with
Akane's bedroom window before, so maybe it's just the windows...
We tumbled inside as quietly as we could. Ryoga rummaged around
in his backpack, handed me some cylindrical object. I stared at it,
trying to figure out what the heck it was as my eyes attempted to
adjust to the darkness indoors. Ryoga stood up.
"The switch is right here, Ranma.." and he turned the flashlight
on for me.
"Thanks... I guess. You're not expecting a tip for this, are you?"
He switched on a flashlight of his own.
"Not until you suggested it... How much ya got on you?"
I was pretty sure he was kidding, so I figured I was safe dishing a
little back: "Nothing but this flashlight. Y'know, you're starting
t'sound like Nabiki."
"Hey, you brought it up..." I could see him grin in the dim glow.
I scowled, ever so slightly "Okay, okay. Let's look around, and
keep it down, ne?"
As expected, the old coot wasn't there. Of course, that didn't
necessarily mean that he was the one impersonating P-chan; for all
his absence proved, he would be out on one of his late-night panty
raids. Not that he really needed any more than what he had. The
room itself was already ankle-deep in bras and panties. And there
wasn't a stick of furniture to be seen, either... the old freak
probably just slept on the panties, using them as a futon. I
couldn't speak for Ryoga, but my skin was crawling. "Man, what
IS it with this creep, huh?"
"No kiddin'. Can't this guy just rob a department store and get
it over with?"
"Actually, I think they haveta be *used* to have any effect for him."
"Too weird! No *wonder* you don't like being stuck as a girl around
"Yeah..." I was really getting uncomfortable rummaging through all
this underwear. "Uh, look... I'm gonna check out this closet, okay?"
Ryoga was holding up a suspicious-looking garment, and eyeing it
dubiously. "Sure, whatever.." he hissed back absently. "What the
hell *is* this for?"
I didn't even bother to look back. "How should I know? I don't
wear girl's stuff if I can avoid it, even if I *am* a girl, okay?
"...Holy moley! Check it out!"
Ryoga scrambled to his feet and headed over to the closet. "What
is it? And keep it down, ne?" I nodded and gestured into the open
The shelves were filled with vials and jars of water, each of them
with labels identifying them as having come from one or another of
the cursed springs of Jusenkyo. I turned to Ryoga.
"Well, I think this ought to prove rather conclusively that the
old freak's responsible for your situation. Now, all we gotta do
is find out if any of these are the Heitueniichuan so that we can
prove that he's taken your place as P-chan."
"Cool. So, what are we gonna do if we find out?"
"I'm not sure. Maybe pour hot water on Akane while she's *awake*
and holding him."
"But that could be really dangerous. She'd be holding a thoroughly
pissed-off Happosai who's been groping at her for how long? His
power would be something else! Suppose he takes it out on her?"
"And wrecks his main power source? I don't think so, Ryoga.
You'll notice he never gropes Kasumi, either. There really are
limits to what the old geezer will do. Not many, but there are
some. We'll just have to rely on that."
"Yeah, but we'll still have to be the ones to deal with him
somehow... you *know* Mr. Tendo won't do anything, even if he
really *is* molesting his baby girl." He started to growl at
the injustice of that fact.
"Take it easy, tiger... yeah, that thought's already occurred
"So, whatcha gonna do?"
"That, I haven't worked out yet. Look, we still gotta find a
container of Heituenniichuan yet."
"Right." And so into the closet we went, and closed the door
behind us to muffle the noise.
Happosai had himself quite the collection in here. Yaazuniichuan,
Maoniichuan -- that would ensure that Mousse and Shampoo stay the
way they are. Gouniichuan... heh, heh. To think I once thought
that Ryoga might have fallen into that spring. So I hadn't met
Yamada's dog Bess yet. So sue me.
...Jiiniichuan... Drowned Chicken? Well... I guess it's possible.
What's this bottle? Oh, no, wait a minute, that's just part of the
old coot's sake collection.
"Hey, get a load of this jar... Yuuniichuan"
"Spring of Drowned *Fish*? How's that possible?"
"Take a look." He handed me the jar. Nothing but powder inside.
Well, I guess that explains how a fish drowns.
"So how would someone get immersed in this stuff, anyway?"
"Dunno. Whaddya add to powdered water, after all?" We looked at
each other and shrugged. I gave the jar back to Ryoga to return to
its rightful place.
Then I opened the closet.
Ryoga set down the jar he was looking at, and darted over. There
it was… a barrel full of water from the...
Ryoga stared at the barrel for a moment, and turned to me.
"There but for a typographical error... you know, for a while
there, you had me thinking you were quite the detective, Ranma.
You of *all* people should know that that water's from the Spring
of Drowned *Maiden*."
I just stood there, staring at the barrel. Why on earth..?
Ryoga seemed to have the same question. "Why in Kami's name would
the old freak be lugging all this water with him, anyway?" Just then
I turned over a bottle of Naininiichuan -- Spring of Drowned Cow --
and it struck me.
"Well, a fellow's gotta eat, ne? Imagine this; pour a little bit
of this on a grasshopper, or some such, and boom! Instant cow! Milk
and meat for the taking just like that. As for that barrel over there
...well, we both know he gets his strength from feeling chicks up, or
at least from their underwear. Same deal as with this stuff... turn
an insect or what have you into a girl -- with the brain of an insect,
so she won't be likely to resist much, either -- and he can power up
"Of course, he obviously prefers the genuine article, although I'd
still question his taste in what he considers to be genuinely feminine.
Still, he's gotta take what he can get -- Akane's the only girl I know
of who keeps a live teddy bear, of sorts." All of a sudden, a faint
green glow outlined Ryoga.
"How *dare* you say such things about Akane being unfeminine!" he
hissed. "Even if she *does* hate me, I won't let you get away with
that kind of talk!" I backed away from him as far as the cramped
quarters of the closet would let me.
"Hey, hey.. take it easy, kiddo. I didn't mean any harm by it.
Calm down.. you wanna get us caught? You're in enough trouble with
the Tendos as it is." Okay. That shut him down. We resumed our
ransacking of the closet. Eventually, Ryoga -- it *would* be him
-- managed to find the telltale Heitueniichuan. "Well, that settles
it. We've found our P-chan impersonator. Now we gotta figure out
what to do about it, huh?"
"No kidding. You know, we *still* haven't found any Nanniichuan yet."
"Yeah, I know... that worries me."
"Well, s'pose he only brought back the one vial or whatever that
he nailed you with? So now there isn't any left for me to change
"Your problem, not mine, Ranma-chan."
"Hey... I wouldn't gloat if I were you, P-chan."
"I'm *not* P-chan!" Then, quieter, almost... wistfully, "Not
I turned the jar of Naininiichuan over several times in my hands.
"I wonder what beef from a cow like this would taste like?"
"Good question, Ranma."
A wrinkled old voice behind us startled us. "Actually, it tastes
like chicken, boys." We spun around, and the closet door opened to
a bright light.
The old coot must have heard us rummaging around, and came in
to check on us. By turning on the all the lights in the room, he
ensured that we'd be temporarily blinded when the door was opened.
And that was all the time he needed. The old coot leaped at the
two of us, and before either of us could react, everything went
The next thing I was aware of was I was landing on something.
A tall pine tree, I think. And the top of one, to boot. The old
pervert can really kick, I thought to myself as I fell, crashing
through the branches and landing with a reasonably soft `thud' on
the ground. That had to be the first time I hadn't landed in water
in a long time.
When I stood up, I realized why: I was already a girl. Water
wouldn't do me any good or harm. Now that I was looking, my clothes
were pretty rumpled and torn. Dammit. The old lech musta copped a
really good feel before sending me into orbit like that. No wonder
he got such distance.
Hmm. Make that `sending *us* into orbit.'
Ryoga hadn't landed too far away, so after checking myself for any
serious injuries (there weren't any), I walked over to where he had
fallen to check on him. He was lying half facing down, and half on
his side away from me.
"Oi... Ryoga!" I shook him. He moaned a little, and that surprised
me. Not that he might be feeling some pain; Happosai could inflict
damage with the best of `em, I hadda give the old geezer that much
credit. No, the moan surprised me because...
...and then, *SHE* turned over to face me.
***** part 4
Ryoga hadn't landed too far away, so after checking myself for any
serious injuries (there weren't any), I walked over to where he had
fallen to check on him. He was lying half facing down, and half on
his side away from me.
"Oi... Ryoga!" I shook him. He moaned a little, and that surprised
me. Not that he might be feeling some pain; Happosai could inflict
damage with the best of `em, I hadda give the old geezer that much
credit. No, the moan surprised me because...
...and then, *SHE* turned over to face me.
I musta yelped, and jumped several yards away, because Ryoga
(or would it be Ryoga-chan?) sat up, somewhat perturbed at my
"What's *your* problem, Ranma?" and then she stopped, and
realized what her voice sounded like. She looked down at herself.
I gave her a half-smile. "Well, now you know what I go through.
Sorry that this messes up your cure..."
She pulled open his shirt slightly and just stared. "I'm...
"Uh-huh. It would explain how the old geezer got up enough
strength to boot us this far, wouldn't it?" Ryoga just shivered
at the thought of having been felt up by Happosai. "Hey, what're
you actin' squeamish for? At least you had the benefit of not
being conscious this time."
"What, he didn't knock you out?"
"Oh yeah, *this* time. But normally he doesn't bother, and he
can grab an awful lot even before *I* can send him flying." I
walked over and extended my hand. "How ya feelin' otherwise?
Think you can walk?"
She grabbed onto my hand, and I pulled her up. "Yeah, thanks.
I'll be okay... I think."
"Now to figure out where we are..."
We were fortunate enough to have landed near what appeared to
be a major highway. There was a sign off the shoulder, and we
walked over to find out.
"In.. teru.. s'tah.. te.. 97. O.. re.. gon. No.. ru.. tsu.
Oh! North! Now, where the heck's O-re-gon?" All at once, I wish
I'd studied harder in my geography class.
"How should *I* know, Ranma? I may have been here before, but
that won't help, you know. And we'd better do something quick --
it's getting dark out."
"Okay, then. C'mon, Ryoga. Stuck out your thumb and make with
a `cute 'n' helpless' look."
"I heard what you *said*. What do you *mean*?"
"I mean... we're gonna hitch a ride."
Ryoga looked thunderstruck. "A ride?"
"Yeah... we stick out our thumb, and that means we wanna lift
from whoever's willing to give us one. I'm not sure where we are
just yet, but I'm willing to bet we've got a long way to go to get
back to Japan. Best thing to do is to keep moving. The `cute `n'
helpless' bit's just to guarantee we get picked up soon. Just
trust me on this one -- girls have much better luck getting lifts.
Watch..." And I wandered to the edge of the road, facing the traffic
and begin taking a few backwards steps. I stuck my right thumb out,
and with my left hand, I waved at the cars. "Yoo hoo!" Ryoga was
watching me as if he was observing an alien life form -- Could it be
that, in all of his travels, it had never occurred to him to hitch
a ride with someone?
At any rate, within a few minutes, an 18-wheel semi pulled over,
and a big beefy guy waved me in.
"Where ya headed, miss?" He was speaking English. Well, that
narrows down where we'd landed. A little. Boy, that pervert can
get some distance going, can't he?
"Oh, I'm not particular. You're going north?" And to think
Miss Hinako assumed I wasn't paying attention in her class!
Thank heavens I *was*.
"Yeah, as far as Seattle. Hop in if ya wanna."
"Uh... do you have room for my friend here?" I waved frantically
for Ryoga-chan to come over. The trucker's eyes lit up at the idea
of having *two* female hitchhikers in his cab. Oh, boy...
Needless to say, we got his assent, and the two of us clambered
"Howdja do that, anyway?" Ryoga-chan whispered as I pulled her up
into the cab.
"Well, it helps, being pretty like this and all. You're tellin'
me you've never hitched a ride before?" It was a dumb question,
given Ryoga's incredulous reaction to my actions, but I just had
to know from his -- er, *her* -- own mouth. I wasn't gonna get
that satisfaction, though; she simply shook her head. Well, that's
good enough for me for now...
I slouched down in my seat, and promptly fell asleep.
Some hours later, the driver nudged me awake. Dawn was breaking.
"Hey, g'morning, cutie. Y'want me t'get you two a cuppa coffee?
I gotta fuel up, and this may take some time."
Groggy as I was, I had to remember to keep acting cute. "Oh,
thank you, mister! But actually, could you just get Ryoga and me
some tea, please?"
The man blinked once, twice. "Tea? ..Yeah, sure.. tea. Okay.
Whatever." He walked off, muttering something about the point of
stopping in Seattle for coffee. I turned myself over to face
Even in her sleep, she winced when I called her that. She'll
never get used to being a girl at this rate. Well, at least she's
cute when she does that... "Ryoga-chan! Wake up! We're here!"
Ryoga was having a little difficulty waking up. If it weren't for
the fact that we hadn't taken one to get here, I'd call it jet lag.
Ol' P-chan covers the globe, sure, but not *this* fast. "Um?
Whazzat? We in J'pan awreddy?"
"No, you bonehead, this guy's only taking us as far as Seattle.
And here we are!"
She sat up, slowly. "Oh.. really? Uh.. where is the guy, anyway?"
"Well, he offered to get us some tea. So we can change back."
"He doesn't know about Jusenkyo, does he?"
"No, I didn't tell him nothin'. And I don't see as we'll haveta.
Just thank him and leave. Then we'll just walk off following this
"North? Why north? Japan's to the west, right?"
"Yeah, but this is the coast, Ryoga-chan.." Another wince. Gosh,
but that's cute to watch her do that. "D'ya really wanna swim the
Pacific? I'd say we're better off crossing the Bering Straits.
And one more thing... don't even *try* to lecture me on geography,
lost boy. Okay, here he comes... we might as well get outta the
truck. And get back to the cute act, got it?" She nodded.
Sure enough, the trucker was coming out of the truck stop holding,
a cardboard carrier with three cups wedged into it. The fourth
compartment, as it turned out, held a couple of tea bags for Ryoga
and me. Not that we'd be using them (Bag tea? These Americans
don't know anything, do they?)
"Here ya go, girls," he announced as he handed the two of us our
"Gee, thanks mister!" we chorused as we took our cups. There was
an awkward silence as we just held them, waiting for him to bid us
good-bye, or one of us to start walking off. Ryoga-chan broke the
silence after a minute or two.
"Well, sir, you were saying this is as far as you go, right?
So we'll just be on our way." And she turned to head toward the
highway. I scurried after her, because she was walking *away*
from the highway. As usual. And that's when the trucker chased
after both of us.
"Ah-ah-ah.. not so fast, girlies. We haven't discussed payment,
have we?" Uh-oh. This didn't look good.
"Ah.. er.. well.. we don't have much in the way of money, mister.."
"Oh, that's okay. Money's not the issue." We breathed a sigh of
relief. He draped an arm over each of our shoulders and started to
lead us toward the truck stop.
"Naw, money's not a problem. I was makin' the trip anyway, so
it's no additional cost f'r me t'pick you girls up. On the other
hand.." and now it was clear we were going *behind* the truck stop
rather than *into* it, "..there's a bit of something a man doesn't
get much of on the road that you two girls have plenty of, I'll bet."
Oh, no. This was getting *really* uncomfortable. I looked over at
Ryoga-chan. She just looked puzzled. The baka. She's not been a
girl long enough to realize what this guy was sayin'.
"Oh now, please, mister. We're not like that. We're not those
kind of girls!" I protested. Now we were behind the truck stop.
He took his arms off our shoulders. I almost tried to bolt, but
he grabbed my collar and started to unbutton my shirt. Ryoga-chan,
the idiot just stood there.
"No? Well, we'll just have to *make* you into those kind of girls,
As alarmed as I was by the sudden turn of events, I figured there
was no need to panic. In fact, I didn't need to go full out. I
pounded him furiously in the chest, just flicking my wrists like a
cute girl might fight in close quarters "(Kaishu Tenshin Amaguriken!)"
I whispered to myself. He dropped me like a hot chestnut and backed
off, clutching his chest.
"What the hell-?"
Then I dumped the water on myself, and signaled Ryoga to do the
same. The trucker's eyes bugged.
"Y'know, we'd'a preferred to have just left and done this privately,
mister. I said we weren't those kinda girls, and I meant it. Now,
may we go, or are you gonna give us any more trouble?" He shook his
head vigorously. "Fine. C'mon, Ryoga, let's get going."
"By the way," I called over my shoulder, "we really did appreciate
your giving us a ride here. Sorry about having to nail you like
We continued north for the rest of the day, staying at least
within earshot of the highway. As night fell, we camped by the
As the sun began to rise, we found ourselves at the edge of
another city: Vancouver.
We wandered around for a little while, and once downtown, we
fell in step with a couple of girls and a guy.
The shorter girl spoke first, to Ryoga: "Hey, you look vaguely
familiar. Have I seen you before?"
"Well," Ryoga responded, "I suppose it's possible. I travel a
lot, so I run into a lot of people on my way..."
"Hey, check it out!" The taller, dark-haired girl grinned.
"Mike -- this kid in the bandanna. Doesn't he sound like you?
"Well, I don't know..." Man, she was right. This guy was a
dead ringer for him. If I closed my eyes, I'd never know the
"Actually, we're not from around here, though.. and we're trying
to get back home. Can you tell us how to get to Tokyo?" I couldn't
help rolling my eyes. Somehow I didn't think these three would
understand that Ryoga meant to get there on foot.
"Tokyo? As in Japan?" Oh boy, have we got rocket scientists,
or what? Ryoga just nodded at the question. Maybe he was used
to asking people for directions to strange places. "Well, you'll
need to get a plane to get there, won't you? I mean, how'd you
get here from there, anyway?"
Okay, so we had to admit, we did fly. "Yeah, but we don't have
the cash to get plane tickets back or nothin'.."
"Yeah? Well, ya know, our company imports and exports stuff
between here and Japan. Maybe we can get you boys jobs as couriers.
You'd just have to hand-carry some stuff to our people in Tokyo,
and then you'd be all set! The company might even pay you for it!"
Now *this* was something. "You mean it? That'd be terrific!"
Mike held up his hand. "Hold on. We can't promise anything,
fellas. But we can try, okay?" Hey, anything beats marching across
the Bering Straits in mid-winter. I'll take my chances with it.
"Sure. I'm in. Whaddya say, Ryoga?"
"Beats walking. And I would know." The three of them just kept
staring at him as we headed to their office.
"I'm telling you, Mike. This -- Ryoga, wasn't it?" He nodded.
"-- I'd swear, he seems so familiar. And he sounds just like you!"
"I dunno, Sarah. I bet you could sound like the other kid pretty
well..." What? This joker thinks I sound like a girl?
"Oh, come on, Mike. I'm a contralto, but..." and her voice dropped
an octave, "it doesn't go *that* far down, does it?" Well, maybe it
did. She turned to the other girl. "What do you think, Venus?"
The shorter girl shrugged. "I think you're both all wet."
As it turned out, Mike was as good as his word about getting a
position as couriers. In the course of a day or two, they had
found a number of packages to be shipped to Japan, and we were
off to the airport with them, armed with third-class tickets and
a decent stipend in the bargain.
Let me tell ya, sitting aboard a 747, even if it *is* third class,
beats all that hiking any day. Or swimming, for that matter. Man,
if we'd known about hiring ourselves out as couriers, Pop and I
coulda gotten to China so easy.. of course, if we'd known everything
about Jusenkyo, Pop and I wouldn't'a gone in the first place. At
least, I'd *hope* we wouldn't have.
"Okay, Ryoga. I think we're gonna haveta split up when we get
back. You know that I'm gonna either haveta come back with your
hide, or *you're* gonna haveta hide. So we'll deliver these packages
together (gotta earn our keep here, after all, ne?), and then we'll
find our separate ways back. I'll go to the dojo, and you... aim
for Furinkan High. I'll probably be in class by the time you find
Ryoga nodded, and turned to face out the window. "I just hate
having to hide like this. It's not like I did anything wrong.
I just wanted to be with her..."
"Yeah, well... if you were a girl -- and you can be, now -- would
*you* like it for a man to show up in your bed, unexpected and
uninvited? Come on pal, get real. Besides, you're in her bedroom
every night, watching her get undressed and all... geez, and she
thinks *I'm* the pervert. Personally, I think you've gotten away
with waaaay too much for waaaay too long.
"Of course... now it's Happosai who's probably getting away with
it. And I gotta admit, if someone has t'do this to Akane, I'd much
rather you than him.
"Now, if only we knew what to do about him..."
When I got back to the dojo, I was met by Akane and her father.
I'm not sure why, but she looked a little put out.
"And *where* have YOU been, Ranma?" I didn't think she was ready
for the whole truth, so I figured I'd give her half of it.
"Look, your dad told me to go out and pay Ryoga back for what he
did to you, right? That's where I've been. Do you realize I've
had to go halfway around the earth to find him?" Akane's reaction
was unreadable, but Mr. Tendo seemed pleased with my response.
"That's it, son. Standing up for your fiancée. That's the right
thing to do." Both of us shot him a dirty look.
"*Thank* you, Mr. Tendo." I said, as icily as I could. He didn't
get it. Clueless sap. "Anyway, you don't look too happy about my
being here, Akane. Either that, or you're upset that I've been gone.
Which is it?" At this, her angry face crumbled a bit.
"Th'secndwn." she mumbled.
"THE SECOND ONE, OKAY?" She looked kind of embarrassed to admit it.
Well, who am I to pass up such a golden opportunity to tease her?
"Awww... didja miss me?"
"What? A pervert like you? Are you kidding? It's those stupid
BOYS again!" I must have looked rather confused at that, because
Mr. Tendo starting right in with an explanation, and never even
bothered to start sobbing again about how his little girl and her
fiance were fighting again.
"That's right, son. You left so suddenly, the Furinkan student
body assumed you two had broken up completely. For a while there,
*I* almost believed it." He scowled at me. "Next time you leave,
give us some warning, will you?"
"Look, if you must know, Happosai kicked me into orbit, okay?
I didn't exactly have time to say my goodbyes before landing in --
where was it? O-re-gon... or whatever."
"I wasn't finished! And don't say that name! He might come back!"
he snapped. Then his face softened. "Look, it's understandable.
Dealing with the master has its perils. But at any rate, everybody
at school concluded that Akane was available once again, and all
the boys started that morning ritual she used to endure before you
Oh, *that*. "I remember. And she's having trouble with them?"
Now Akane *really* looked peeved. I'd forgotten how she took offense
at even the slightest slur on her martial arts skills.
"NO! I mean..." Maybe I could actually salvage this one. I smiled.
"No, I imagine you're not. But I'll bet you don't enjoy it one bit.
Having all those guys fight for the privilege of dating you has got to
be a real pain. I'll bet you can't *stand* the fact that these guys
would give their eyeteeth to be with you – and some of them have, too,
I'll wager." Erm.. maybe not: her aura was starting to fire up just
Then something Mr. Tendo said hit me.
"Wait a minute. Back up. Did you just say that Happ -- er, I mean,
ol' Gramps hasn't been around? How long's that been going on?"
"That's right, son. It was about the same time you disappeared.
Actually, I hadn't given it much thought that the two disappearances
might be related," Yeah, right. You don't give much thought,
period. "but as you haven't brought him back with you, perhaps
they aren't. But if you know where he is, don't tell me. I don't
want to know; just as long as he's not around here."
Speaking of which... "Uhm... and how's P-chan doing these days,
Her aura vanished as if by magic. Being taken off-guard will do
that. "Hunh? I thought you always hated him!"
You got that right, now more than ever. Still... "Hey, *you* like
the little runt; so why shouldn't I be concerned? Hasn't he always
been running off and getting lost and stuff?"
"Well, yeah, he used to. But he's been here that whole time
since you've been gone. He's been just fine. And *so* affectionate,
Oh, good grief. Well, it's not as if she's the first girl to
mistake lust for affection. But the fact that it's *Happosai*...
oog! I think I'm gonna throw up.
"...Did you want to see him?" Her voice snapped me out of my chill.
"Erm... NO! No, don't let him know I'm back. I doubt he'll be
too pleased about it. You know, you say I don't like him... well,
I think the feeling's mutual. So why don't you try to keep him and
me apart, if you can, okay? For the time being..."
She looked at me rather doubtfully. "Well, all right. I can't
argue that he doesn't like you, either. Okay," she grinned brightly,
"I'll try to keep him out of your way."
"Thanks, Akane." Hey, how about it? She wasn't even mad anymore.
Day saved after all!
Saturday night, and dinner at the Tendos tasted so much better for
having been away for several days. And really, everything seemed
even better than usual. Mr. Tendo was glad his little girl's
protector and fiance was back. Akane, too, still seemed pleased
at my presence, and had considerately left `P-chan' in her room
while I was at the table. And Kasumi's cooking, well... what do
I need to say there? I plowed through everything as if I hadn't
eaten food in weeks. To some extent, I hadn't; at least, nothing
It was a Fuji Moment, one of those times when you think to yourself
that nothing could possibly go wrong now.
And instantly, you kick yourself for even thinking it, because
something *does* go wrong right then.
There was a knock at the door. Somehow, I knew who it was gonna
be, and I could feel my stomach sink at the very thought. I jumped
to my feet.
"I'll take care of that. Anybody mind?" I was met with a series
of shrugs. Well, who's gonna talk with their mouth full of Kasumi's
I met him at the door with a whispered "Keep quiet, you," and
dragged him out onto the street. "What's the big idea, man? Do
you know what coulda happened if anyone else had answered the door?
I thought I toldja to meet me at *school*!"
"Well... I couldn't find it," big surprise there, "and, since I
was passing by, I thought I'd ask for directions from a familiar
I just closed my eyes in frustration. Here's a fellow with a
grudge against me going back to antiquity, and for some reason or
another can't seem to fathom the possibility that someone might be
holding a similar grudge against him. And for more valid reasons,
too. "Do you realize how *hostile* those faces would be? What
were you *thinking*?"
"Well... I figured *you'd* answer the door, actually. If I'm
still alive and nearby, it's *your* rear, too, ya know."
Y'know, sometimes this boy's not the idiot he appears to be. He
had me there. And of course, I *had* come to the door thinking
that same thing. So...
"So... what do we do now, Ranma?"
I grabbed his hand. "Come on," I growled through clenched teeth.
"Back where we came from." We leaped onto the roof of the house,
and bounded over to the dojo's rear entrance. I shoved him inside.
"In ya go! And stay *put*, will ya?" I heaved a sigh of relief as
I closed the door. Now, back to the front gate. And I gotta
remember, pretend everything's normal...
"Who was that, Ranma-kun? And what took you so long?"
"Jehovah's Witness. Sorry about that."
"You didn't just deck him?" Nabiki arched her eyebrows.
"Why? He's unarmed. I'm not gonna fight a weakling, in any case.
I just told him we weren't interested." This seemed to satisfy
everyone, and they went back to their meal.
I would've, too, if I had any. It looked like Pop had helped
himself to my stuff again. Oh well. I'm home again, aren't I?
"Uh, Kasumi? Have you got seconds on the stove?"
"Why yes, Ranma-kun, I do. Would you be a dear and bring the
"Sure thing. Thanks!"
While I was in the kitchen, I spotted a number of empty glass
jars Kasumi had evidently planned on using for canning or some
such. Well, she won't miss one...
Nightfall again. Back to the dojo. And back to trying to wake
Ryoga up. I decided against the cold water bit this time; after
all, this time he was cursed. And who would dare walk into Happosai's
room as a female? No, that would be asking for trouble. So I just
shook him until I could hear his brains rattle.
"C'mon, man!" I hissed. Boy, does this kid sleep *hard*.
"Mm.. not so hard, Akari.." Akari? Huh?
I picked him up and slapped him, and immediately shushed myself.
Damn, that was loud. Hope no one heard it. "Come on, you lamebrain,
we gotta get going! I've got a plan to nail this sucker but good,
but I need ya t'watch my back!"
Nothing. So I simply dropped him.
He fell like a sack of yams. Instantly, he sprang up.
"Who's there?" He was looking *away* from me. Rrrgh!
"I'm over HERE! Turn around, will ya?!"
"Oh, hey, Ranma!"
"Keep it *down*, willya? C'mon, we gotta get a jarful from the
old coot's barrel."
"Never mind that for now, okay? Just trust me. I know what I'm
"*You* got any bright ideas?" He shook his head. "Okay, then.
The old geezer's room was pretty much the same as when we last saw
it. I guess even Kasumi thinks better of courting danger by tidying
up `the Master's' room, even if he isn't around, supposedly. We
went straight to the barrel and dipped the jar in. Once the jar was
sealed, we stole out. Whew. No sign of the old fart. Probably too
cozy sleeping with Akane - brr! - to notice. And hey... we'd learned
our lesson; we were much faster this time.
"Fine," said Ryoga once we were safely in his practice room in the
dojo, "we've got a jar of Nyanniichuan water. How's this gonna help
us get back at Happ-?"
I had clapped my hand over his mouth. For once, I was gonna
believe even Mr. Tendo. "Don't even say the name, Ryoga. Just in
case, okay?" He nodded. I removed my hand. "Okay, you're right.
This jar is not gonna solve our problems, in and of itself. But it's
gonna make a really good bargaining chip for getting what we *really*
need." He continued to look at me with a puzzled and worried
expression. "Don't worry, Ryoga. Get some rest. Tomorrow, we go
out for ramen. And we go together, ne? So wait for me."
He shrugged. "Whatever you say..." He wasn't convinced.
I hadn't actually planned to have breakfast at the Neko-Hanten
that morning. Ryoga and I just had some business to transact, which
had nothing to do with food. If Ryoga wanted to get some ramen for
himself, well, that would be his prerogative.
Of course, I hadn't realized Akane would be cooking breakfast.
So much for `all's well with the world'...
Everybody else had cleared out, in anticipation of her attempt,
but she wasn't gonna let me go that easily. I did try to be polite
and choke down a bite or two, but that was about all I could take.
"Please, Akane, I took a bite of it. Can I go now?"
"NO! Eat what's on your plate!" If it were Kasumi's cooking there,
it would be but a morsel. But the same size helping of Akane's home
cooking was like Fuji-san itself. No *way* I was gonna survive
"Look, Akane... I'll make you a deal. Since I've eaten a few bites
of mine, why don't you take a few bites of yours? Then I'll eat, and
the you eat, and so on. Sound fair?"
She had to admit, it was more reasonable than some of my usual
suggestions of what to do with her food. So she took a bite.
And passed out. Just as I'd anticipated.
I went up to my room, grabbed some of my stipend money and the jar
of Nyanniichuan, and headed for the dojo.
"C'mon, Ryoga... we're outta here! Let's grab some breakfast."
Ryoga took a sniff of the air. "Akane's been cooking, ne?"
"Well, what're we waiting for?" And we were off.
"Okay... so what're you planning to do with that stuff? It's
gonna do us no good."
"It's not *for* us, Ryoga. It's for --"
Splash. That @#%¥* old lady again. "-- Shampoo.
"See, *we* may not like being like this, but she's *supposed* to
be. In any case, I can be rid of that -- brrr! -- cat once and for
"Oh! I get it! And we might be able to trade with the old ghoul
for something that'll help us nail Happosai with, huh?"
I grinned. "You're learning, Ryoga-chan."
Another one of those cute winces.
"Welcome to Nekohanten... aiya! Ai ren!" As usual, Shampoo
charged and glomped onto me. Fortunately, I handed the jar to
Ryoga-chan before she connected, so it was safe. Still, I wanted
her off of me as soon as possible.
"Uh, Shampoo... could you let go? We're both girls, y'know..."
I pushed her away from me, as gently as I could. Look, I don't love
her, and I never could, but there's never any sense in riling her,
so I gotta treat her with kid gloves, too. Sometimes, it's amazing
how much like Akane she can be, when I think about it. Not that I
usually get the chance to think...
Anyway, she did step back, blushing slightly. She knew, and I
knew, that I was really a guy, but there were customers, and who's
to say who was a regular and knew about me, too? Even Shampoo
doesn't want people thinking she's a pervert. Then the blush
"Who this, Ranma? You have another fiancee?" Her blue battle
aura was starting to fire up. Geez. I don't even have to say or
do anything to get into trouble sometimes.
"Actually, no. Shampoo -- gimme a second, will ya? -- this is
"What kind baka you take Shampoo for?"
"Look, Shampoo, c'mon... can we have some hot water? I'll prove
it to ya."
Then the old ghoul decided to get into the act. "Son-in-law!
To what do we owe this rare honor of your visit?" Her voice was
dripping with sarcasm -- it had been... what? Two, three weeks?
-- since I'd been to the Nekohanten. Not that she'd know or care
that I was out of the country. Then she noticed Ryoga. "And who's
"I've already fielded that question. Can we see you two out back?"
We wandered into the kitchen.
Shampoo was filling a teakettle and setting it on the stove.
"Ai ren say this Ryoga. He no fool Shampoo. He no dare." She
gave me another angry look. I rolled my eyes.
"The hot water, please." I muttered impatiently. "I'll explain
everything then. And only then, okay?"
A few minutes later, the two of us got our hot water, and the two
amazons got a big surprise.
"Ai ya! Ryoga no pig, he girl! How happen?"
"Erm... it's a long story. Look, Shampoo... Cologne... we brought
something for you.." Ryoga held the jar out in front of himself as
if he were handling toxic waste.
"So... what is it, boy?" The old woman hopped over to examine it.
Her eyes widened in surprise and something resembling glee. "Shampoo!
It's Nyanniichuan water! Your husband and his friend --"
"I am NOT her husband!"
"I am NOT his friend!"
"-- have brought us your cure!"
We returned from the Neko-Hanten carrying the same jar we'd brought
with us. For all anyone knew, we were leaving the place with exactly
what we came in with.
Ryoga insisted on arguing with me about this. "So would you mind
telling me exactly how this is gonna solve our problems with Happo --
erm, the old fart?"
"You're still thinking in terms of punishing him directly, Ryoga.
We're gonna do this fairly. Verdict first, sentence afterward.
This," and I shook the sealed jar for emphasis, "is all part of my
plan to have him condemn himself outta his own mouth, okay?"
"Yeah, well, all I can say is your plans take waaay too long to
unfold. I wanna get back into Akane-san's good graces. And soon."
"What, so you go back to sleeping with her? Dream on, buddy.
Why don'tcha just stick with Akari or something? It's so much
safer. She's willing, she loves you, and -- will you wipe your
nose? You're gonna get blood all over your shirt.
"Anyway, tomorrow morning, we strike."
I decided the straightforward method was the best approach. None
of this sneaking around garbage. No, I'd just walk in, dump a mug
of warm water on him, and accuse him of impersonating P-chan. Even
Akane would believe me, as the old fart had tried that stunt on
practically the first day he'd arrived at the Tendo's.
Eight o'clock, and as I creaked open the door to Akane's room, I
was pleased to note that both of them were still sleeping. Cool.
I slipped in on tiptoe, and drizzled the warm water onto her pig's
Sure enough. It was him. Puny as life, and twice as ugly. The
Master. Happosai. I grabbed him by his collar, which, now that I
was looking closely at it, turned out to be a bra. Probably one of
Akane's, even. Why, that shameless little pervert!
"Okay, gramps. Jig's up. I've had it with you trying to pass
yourself off as P-chan, and now you're gonna pay!"
"You gotta hold onto me if you're gonna collect!" and he wormed
out of the bra/bandana, and hit the floor running.
Damn. I shoulda been holding him, rather than the bra. "Why
you little...!" and I started after him.
I didn't even get out the door, though, without being nailed.
"Just WHAT do you think you're DOING in here?!" The textbooks
Akane threw at me caught me completely off-balance, and knocked
"Akane, what the hell was that for?" I got up as quickly as I
could. But not quick enough; she was right on top of me before I
could stand up.
"You waltz in on me while I'm sleeping and in my pajamas, and you
think you have the right to ask ME what I'M doing?"
"Dammit, Akane, I haven't got time for this, okay? I'm trying to
"Oh, really? And what's that?" And she pointed to what had been
`P-chan's' collar. Her bra. Which I was still holding.
Oh, shit. Now I was in for it. She continued:
"Happosai, nothing. You seem to do pretty well on your own. Now
get OUT before I really get mad! And drop that bra, before I kill
you!" Sure. Whatever you say. I dropped the sucker.
So she didn't kill me. Instead, she just whacked me out her
window. And unlike her father, she didn't bother to open it first.
Stupid tomboy. If she'd just let me explain everything, for once...
Still, I couldn't explain EVERYthing to her, anyway. Stupid
Oh, well. Now that I was in the courtyard, I had to find the old
pervert. Shouldn't be that hard; all I had to do was listen for some
And from what I could tell, he wasn't too far off. In fact, it
sounded like he was...
Oh, shit. He was in the dojo! And that kids' class that was
I scrambled to my feet, and tore over to the dojo. I could make
out voices now, and a thump; the old man just sent Eichiro into the
wall. Kimae and Chibiko were shrieking, and Masanori was yelling at
him -- evidently, he had taking it upon himself to chase him now that
Eichiro was out of action.
All at once, there was this familiar rumble. But it didn't sound
quite like Mr. Tendo. Then the rumble turned into a roar. It was...
"YOU SLIMY LITTLE PERVERT! GET YOUR HANDS *OFF* OF ME!!"
I got to the dojo entrance in time to see as this sweet little
twelve-year-old girl turned into a demon from hell. Everyone else
hit the floor, and even Happosai was startled enough by her battle
aura to back up toward the door -- and into my hands. At that point,
her demon-head shrank back, and she fell to her knees, obviously
Mr. Tendo wasn't there yet, so I called over to Yoichi, who was
closest to the equipment cabinet: "Yoichi-kun, could you get me some
rope or something to tie this little creep up with?" He nodded and
began rummaging furiously through the cabinet, and came up with some
rope and some ribbon. "Thanks. Toss it here, will ya?"
I proceeded to tie Happosai up tightly. "You know, I'll bet you'd
actually enjoy this if I was in my girl form, wouldn'tcha?" I snarled
quietly at him. Then I turned to Hiroe. "That was an incredible
display, Hiroe-chan. I'll have to inform Mr. Tendo about it, and
I'll wager you'll be due for a advancement. You've certainly got
the ki energy to be a fine martial artist someday." Even in her
fatigued state, she was beaming with pride. "Umm.. I'm really sorry
about this, kids, but I'm gonna haveta leave for a while. I assume
Mr. Tendo's on his way, so he'll handle class..." I looked over at
Eichiro "...and first aid."
Eichiro struggled to stand up. "I'll be okay," he said weakly.
I smiled at his determination. "I'll take your word for it for
now, Eichiro-kun, but all the same, you'd better take it easy. Mr.
Tendo calls this guy..." and I dangled Happosai in front of me,
"...the Master, so you've probably had a rough workout trying to
fight him. I wouldn't push my luck if I were you." He nodded.
"Now, if you'll excuse me... could you guys just tell Mr. Tendo I
had to take out the trash? I think he'll understand."
"Good work, kids... and I'm sorry about the trouble he caused..."
I went around to the back of the dojo, and knocked on the rear
door. Ryoga poked his head out, saw the two of us, nodded, and
ducked back inside. There was a click, and he stepped outside,
holding the jar from the Neko-Hanten, and handed it to me.
I opened the jar, and held it over Happosai's head. "Okay, you
little bugger.. I've got water from the Heshangniichuan right here."
He was squirming to get out of my grip, but not so hard that he'd
spill the jar in my other hand. "Spring of Virtuous Man? You lie!
Where could you have gotten that? I deliberately kicked you *east*.
AWAY from China. How could you have gotten to Jusenkyo?"
"Let's just say that traveling with Ryoga have its advantages.
You get to see *so many* different places." The old coot went white.
He hadn't thought of that before, but it made enough sense that he
bought the story, hook line and sinker. "Now, you realize what
happens if you get this stuff on you, don'tcha?"
"B-b-but... I'd never be able to touch a girlie again! I'd dry up
and wither away!"
"Yeah..." I grinned malevolently and leaned against the doorjamb.
"You know, maybe I oughta call Pantyhose Tarou and let him come over
and watch. I could really get on his good side this way.. the enemy
of my enemy is my friend and all that. Hey, it worked for Ryoga and
me, ne? And we never even had the decency to thank you for that,
either..." I nodded to Ryoga, and he walked off to the corner of
the dojo. Now I reached over and made as if to pour the jar onto
"NO! Please don't! Have mercy on a poor old man!" He did that
puppy dog eyes thing that he always does when he's at a disadvantage.
I backed off with the jar, and held it just a little too close to
"Gramps, you should know better than that. Those Bambi-eyes are
*not* gonna save you this time. You're no angel no matter how much
you try to look like one. So, I'm gonna turn you into one.. right
now!" And I started to lift the jar over his head once more.
And that's when he burst his bonds and made a grab for it. "You
can't douse me if it's not there!" he shouted, and guzzled it down.
"No, you little pervert, no!" I yelled in apparent dismay, and
dropped him to the floor.
Even after landing on his head -- I tried to twist him subtly
enough so that he would -- the old fart could move pretty well,
and he tried to make a break for it. Fortunately, I knew which
direction he was gonna take:
Toward Akane's room.
Which was why I had already sent Ryoga around that corner of
the dojo. And no further, I should point out.
As the old codger rounded the corner, Ryoga stomped right on
his head. Knocked him out cold. Sometimes, the old coot's pretty
easy to beat. All ya gotta do is to hit him when he ain't looking
And it doesn't hurt that that was the old ghoul's truth serum
he'd swilled, and not the Spring of Virtuous Man at all. He should
have been getting pretty groggy as it was, anyhow...
"That thing still running, Ryoga-kun?" I asked, nodding toward
the tape deck we had `borrowed' from Nabiki. Ryoga leaned over to
check the settings, and the tape he had started when I came by with
the old coot.
"All right, you little pervert, you're gonna tell us what you did
and why you did it. Starting from the top, okay?"
"Ah.. ah.. all right. You remember when I first arrived, and I
saw how Akane cuddled with that little pig every night, I decided
to, ah.. `fill in' for her pig? You two punks wouldn't let me then,
but I found a way...
"I found out about a spring in Jusenkyo called Heituenniichuan,
which would turn a person into a little black piglet..." I looked
up at Ryoga. I motioned for him to switch off the recorder.
"Hold up, gramps. Do we want this on the record, Ryoga? I vowed
that I wouldn't say anything about your curse, but Happosai here's
under no such compunction. If he says anything, that's how it goes."
Ryoga squeezed his eyes together tightly, trying to decide. Then
he shook his head. "I can't do it. I can't tell her." He turned
on the recorder. "Ask him what he did with the Heituenniichuan."
The old man obliged. "I travelled to Jusenkyo and got myself a
bottle of the stuff. And while I was at it, a barrel of Nyanniichuan
-- you never know when you'll need a girlie -- and a selection of
other springs. When I got back, I poured the Heituenniichuan onto
myself, and I turned into a near-twin of Akane's P-chan!
"Of course, I had to get rid of the real P-chan first, if I was
to take his place..." Ryoga shut off the machine as Happosai detailed
how he drizzled the Nanniichuan he'd gotten on P-chan's head -- and
discovered, much to his surprise, that P-chan was none other than
Ryoga! What perfect luck! So, he had gotten himself into pig form,
and waited alongside the two kids, for Akane to discover that she
was in bed with a buck-naked Ryoga, and react accordingly. Then, in
the ensuing confusion, he'd simply slip in and take over.
"Okay, okay, we figured all that out already, gramps! What did
you do with the rest of the Nanniichuan?"
"The rest of-? Ranma, m'boy, what use do I have for Nanniichuan
water? I only had a small vial of the stuff, and I used it up on
Both of us fell over.
When we got up, Happosai was still there, still dazed from the
serum. Ryoga and I looked at each other, and then at him. It was
Ryoga who spoke first.
"Well, there's the verdict. Now, can we carry out the sentence?"
and he picked the old lech up as if to beat him to a pulp.
"Hold it! I got a better idea."
"You and your ideas. I'm just about up to here with `em."
"C'mon. I'll letcha beat up on her all ya want when I'm done,
"...on *her*?" There was a long pause as Ryoga puzzled through
that one. "Oh! Sure!" We grabbed him, and charged into his
"Here ya go, old man!" Plunk. Right into the barrel. "You
wantcher girlies, old man? Go fondle yerself! Take it away,
I left to go pick up the tape recorder that we'd left in the
practice room as Ryoga began to give `Happi-chan' the thrashing
of her life.
Mr. Tendo and Akane just sat there, listening to the brief
recording Ryoga and I had made. Mr. Tendo's expression was one
of overwhelming gloom.
"What further indignities can he visit upon me and my children?
How many more prices must I pay?
Akane was on the verge of tears. "He... `got rid' of P-chan? You
mean that awful monster *killed* him?"
I put a hand on her shoulder. "Oh I doubt *that*, Akane. He's
not that kind of mean. I'll bet once he became a pig, he sent the
real P-chan off on some fool's errand. You know how easily that
animal can get lost. I'm pretty sure P-chan's still alive and well.."
She cut me off: "Ranma, P-chan isn't Ryoga..." I kept a straight
face as best I could, as she turned thoughtful, "...but maybe he
could be, if he fell into that spring." She shrugged it off. "Heh.
What're the odds, anyway?
"But then... where *does* Ryoga fit into all of this, Ranma?"
I sighed heavily. That damn promise. All I could do was shrug.
"I really can't say, Akane. I guess Happosai was trying to frame
him in order to cause a diversion."
"Well, it certainly worked, didn't it? Boy do I feel foolish."
You'd feel even more foolish if you'd ever manage to put two and
two together about the `real' P-chan, I couldn't help thinking.
"So, what're ya gonna do about Happosai, Mr. Tendo? I've got
Ryoga upstairs beatin' the crap outta her right now. A taste of
his own medicine, y'might say, and Ryoga's havin' a ball too, I
might add. But I'll bet you'd like a piece of the old lech too,
Old man Tendo just sighed. "I don't know what I CAN do, Ranma.
I owe a certain loyalty to my master. I can't simply go in there
and demolish him. Mostly, because he'd tear me to pieces first."
"Hmph. Suit yerself. I dunno, I think you had a pretty good idea
awhile back when you tried to mail him to the North Pole. I know I
stopped you and Pop that time, but the old coot's gone too far." I
stood up, and headed back to the old lech's room. "You know where
I can get some packing tape?"
Kasumi must have been overhearing everything, because as I passed
by the kitchen, she handed me an empty box, along with a roll of
tape. "Here you go, Ranma-kun. And I'd like that jar back when
you're done with it, too. I still need to finish my canning."
So, Ryoga and packed him away, and sent him parcel post, to the
Antarctic (Hey, I don't wanna run the risk of annoying Saint Nick
either, ya know. Can't be too careful).
"So, Ryoga, what're ya gonna do now? I couldn't quite tell Akane
the truth, ya know, so you may be off the hook. On the other hand,
ya can't be too careful..."
"You're right, Ranma. As Ryoga, or even as Ryoga-chan, I still
can't even get close to Akane. But..." and he walked into Happosai's
closet, and came out with the half-empty jar of Heitueniichuan. "At
least this way, I can be. And I can protect Akane from dangerous
things... including the likes of you, Ranma."
And with that, he dumped the remaining contents of the Heitueniichuan
onto his head, and P-chan sauntered off, supposedly to Akane's room.
I just stood there, speechless.
Why, that little, no-good jerk! *This* is the thanks I get?!
... Ahhh, what am I worried about? It'll take him two weeks to find
her bedroom. That oughta give me time to work on her myself. I turned
on my heel and walked off to her room.
Once again, thanks to the Jusenkyo Guide, and everyone else from the
FFML who wrote with their comments and compliments
I hope you've enjoyed the story. Let me know!