Copyright disclaimers: Ranma ½ is the intellectual property of Rumiko Takahashi, SHOGAKUKAN, and is distributed in the U.S. by Viz Media.

"I can't believe I'm doing this." My jaw was under intense strain while I tried to keep from grinding my teeth together. The fateful day had come upon me. An all important decision that was to influence my comfort, and hopefully spoil me some embarrassment.

A choice I had been putting off and avoiding. Done my level best to not talk to anyone about, even Shampoo.

Yet, it couldn't be long avoided.

My body simply wouldn't allow it. Any day now, it would begin.

Still, what guy in his right mind ever wants to be faced with such a horrid set of options?

Pad or tampons?

Doctor Harada had provided me more than enough information than I ever wanted to learn on the subject. In her professional opinion, I was best served by inserts during the day, as I was a highly active martial artist. It would be the safest and most comfortable option to keep me from having trouble while training.

At night, she had exactly the opposite set of advice. It was more sanitary and could handle any potentially heavy flows. All in all, I had no desire to face this moment. It was almost too weird, but every girl in the developed world had to put up with it. What made me any different?

Aside from a curse, being comfortable in my masculine identity, and this being put upon my by the work of a moron?

If they could do it, so could I.

So, doctor's suggestion, insert it was.

"Airen, hurry and get dressed. I still have to do my hair, and we need to get moving if we're going to meet up with Akane and Ryoga."

I was startled out of my reverie by a knock on the bathroom door. One of the private torments of having to share such a space with housemates. Even if she was my girlfriend. I was not going to let her see me do this. Gritting my teeth, I just went to it.

Shuddering as … well it was actually far less weird than I thought it'd be. Now I was feeling stupid for being so freaked out by the idea of putting anything in such a place. Oh well, whatever. Shampoo freely admitted she had to take the same course of action because of her martial training.

Once you got used to it, she claimed, you didn't notice anymore. It was far better a choice than having to deal with the blood.

Exhaling, I just rushed through getting dressed. Snatching the underwear back into place and making sure everything was adjusted and comfortable. The school uniform was a button down blouse, short sleeves in the warm months, with a slip over skirt. With that done, I unlocked the door for Shampoo.

"Sorry." Was my curt apology. A blush stole onto my face, even though there was nothing to feel shame over. Millions of girls and women did this across the globe. Right now, I wasn't any different.

Shampoo made no comment. Gave no tease. Just stood behind me with a huff and grabbed a brush. Beginning to run it through my hair with skilled, long strokes. Smoothing out the lengthy mass and then quickly braided it with well practiced fingers. The pigtail dropped well below my shoulders now. Hard to think it had actually grown that long. All since I'd met this girl.

The first time we'd bathed together she had offered to wash my scalp. Then had proceeded to quite forcefully lay into me for being a fairly typical guy and not taking all that much care of it. I kept it clean, was enough for me. She'd promptly done the work of trimming the split ends off, and showing me the great pains to which she went in order to keep hers so shiny and beautiful.

From that point forward I was on notice. Until I went bald, if she could keep her hair as a lovely as dark silk. There was no excuse for her betrothed to not keep the same commitment. She was going to respect me by keeping up every facet of her looks, I should show her the same respect.

Guess I can't complain with the results, it had a life and luster to it I'd never seen before. It hadn't really grown much in the years before, but where it just at my neck beforehand. Now it was well below. She had a point, there were girls who would kill to have hair like mine. Just one more part to both stab my masculine identity, and stroke my feminine vanity.

"Ranma we have no time to be lazy. Have to get dressed and moving." Her diction was getting better, if still a bit clipped. I don't know if she kept speaking like this out of habit, or choice. Perhaps she thought her pidgin Japanese was cute. Though, she would speak with full sentences around Mom. Maybe trying to show how quickly she learned, and how quickly she took up the proper and expected polite tone.

Unlike me, she wore her hair as usual. She had long since mastered her preferred style. Brushing out the full length until it was free of any tangles and knots. Then formed a couple bun shapes on either side, putting in her favorite ribbons. Pulled two long fringes forward of her ear and adjusted her bangs. Even with that, she had hair in excess which cascaded down her back in a black waterfall and fell well below her hips.

She'd doubtless inherited the genes for such fabulous hair from Cologne, who even in her advanced age had a thick, white mass that tumbled down just as long. On Shampoo it was perfect, beautiful and quitisential to who she was.

Without another word she kissed me quickly and snatched me out of the bathroom so we could get on to the dojo and join up with the Tendo sisters and Ryoga and be on our way. My parents had left earlier this morning. Mom to help Kasumi with breakfast. Pop to allegedly work with Soun to begin planning our collective training. More like play shogi and get drunk. The training routine would be an afterthought, but whatever.

My stomach reminded that I had yet to eat. The quicker we were off, the better.

Shoes on, bags in hand, we dashed out of the house and got ourselves moving. The quick way.

We took to fence tops, light posts, building roofs, and whatever else was a handy leaping platform. Something told me I should've been mindful of the potential panty flashes I was putting on, but I couldn't work up the effort to care. If I started worrying over every little bit of feminine nuance I was going to have an aneurysm.

Shampoo didn't seem to care about it, and Pop would just lampoon me for acting like a 'shy, spoiled little girl' if I showed any visible worry over it. Modesty had no place in martial arts, after all. If it came to such trivial concerns or your life. Give up all to survive.

{Easy for him to say. He's not friends with Akane. And he has neither my legs, hips, or butt. He'd never be able to look good in this skirt.}

The very thought suddenly had me chortling as I lead the way. Going from a boundary fence of someone's yard up to the roof of an apartment building, to an electrical-pole and then on to the next platform.

"What you laugh at, Airen?" Shampoo called from just behind me. Easily keeping pace hot on my heels, and her timing just enough not to run over them. Or keeping a parallel line of travel with me. In all cases she was close enough to catch my amusement.

"Ah, nothin' just a funny thought about my old man."

Her face scrunched up, but she didn't inquire. Her preference was to play 'Bash the Panda' not laugh at him. Even if both wound up having similar effect. I just kept grinning as we continued on moving. The stupid image of Pop in a schoolgirl's skirt just helped bolster my mood. Thanks to my medication I was feeling much more level headed and not nearly so uncomfortable. Hopefully, when the bleeding did start, the worst of my suffering would go with it.

Ironically cathartic in a way. Washing away the old pains, in a manner of speaking.

We arrived at the dojo in record time. Just inside of ten minutes. Coming to the genkan and shedding our shoes as we moved inside.

"We're here." I called out as I led the way into the family room to gather with everyone else.

"Alright, time to face the music." Biting on my lip a minute before I took in a deep breath and sighed. Stepping into the room and joining everyone else at the breakfast table. Mom, Kasumi and the fathers were currently the only occupants. The sight of me caused various reactions.

Soun held his peace, just keeping his nose buried in his paper. Cigarette slowly burning in his mouth. Though he was thoughtful enough to be sitting by the door, with a fan blowing out, carrying his exhales that direction. Genma instantly went into arrest, his chopsticks pointing right at me.

"Boy, what are you wearing?!" He suddenly went quiet when he noticed out of the corner of his eye, a thumb sliding across the hilt of the family honor blade. A visible shiver climbed up his spine and he quickly coughed, amending his language. Mom never failed to keep him quickly inline. "I mean, Son, why are you wearing that uniform?"

"We discussed then, Genma. Our child is wearing that uniform, Dear, because at the current moment, our son has the body of our daughter. You wouldn't be able to explain that to me, would you? Genma?" And so they went back and forth a minute, emphasising my gender with drawn out language. Mom's voice never raised in tone, but her fingers did continue to stroke the hilt of that sword. Something about her being so collected and calm, while looking angry, was even scarier than if she had just snapped outright.

"It's also not polite to point at others with your utensils, Dear." She just smiled and kissed his cheek. Though the threat hanging over his head didn't abate until she dismissed him with that show of affection and turned back to me. "Oh you two look lovely."

"Yes they do, don't they Auntie ...oh I know, let me go get the camera. We need to take a picture of this." Kasumi almost glowed as she stood to leave the room.

"That's a splendid idea, Kasumi dear. Get your sisters and darling Ryoga out here, and we'll take some photos." Mom clapped her hands and smiled, motioning everyone to stand and move out into the yard. Oh no, she was falling into mushy mode.

Without accepting complaint she ushered us out and soon we were joined by the remaining three teenagers in the house. Ryoga's eyes quickly shot wide and he pointed, jaw working but never forming much of a coherent statement.

"Ranma … you … skirt … why ... ?"

"Oh hello ladies, don't you look good." Nabiki had that shark grin. The one which spoke of her scenting possible revenue for her wallet. She began to both metaphorically and literally circle us like prey. Herding Akane in to join Shampoo and myself. Pinning us together with her movement. No doubt she was already counting her yen from photo sales, and who knows what other racket she was running.

"Nabiki." Akane uttered in weak protest, "It's just my uniform."

The middle Tendo finally broke off and put a fresh roll of film into her camera. Picking what would be the best angle before passing it over to Kasumil. Then strolled over to join us. Her grin still wide and never lost that carnivorous, pleased slant to it.

Ryoga's brain tried to cycle between the three of us. Somewhere he found the presence of mind to turn a deep pink and look at his shoes.

"Akane, you look really pretty with your hair like that."

I could freely admit, she did look nice. While her hair wasn't nearly as long as Shampoo's, with the bow holding some of it in a v-pattern. The way it helped frame her face. She was cute in the strongest sense of that word. It was so strange how she could be so different from my lover, but radiated beauty that was no less as captivating. If I hadn't picked out and settled on Shampoo ...

{Yeah, I would've fallen for this girl and hard. But no point dwelling on the would'a and could'a.}

"Oh, thank you Ryoga, you look very nice too."

"Really? Ah ..he he he … it's nothing .. I just brushed my hair and gelled it a little."

I let my eyes swing between the pair. Studying their reactions quietly. Naturally, he was the poor schoolboy focusing on his first crush. Embarrassed out of his gourd to have the mere privilege of speaking to her. Her on the other hand.

{Damn, I know that look, I know that tone of voice. Sorry Ryoga, you've been friendzoned already man. Well shoot, so much for that idea. He's crushing, and she ain't interested. Maybe with time?}

"Well you do look nice, Akane. I like that look with your hair, it's very pretty." The girl suddenly found the top of her slippers very interesting, and turned a bright pink herself.

"You really think so Ranma?" Her voice dropped an octave and soon her eyes were anywhere but in my direction. A certain other girl was also observing, and my ribs took a subtle but stiff blow from her elbow.

{Oh crap, are we going to do this damn game in reverse? Seriously?!}

I gave Shampoo's hand a squeeze and slipped our joined grip behind her back. Time for a quick makeup maneuver. Pinching her butt while my fingers were shielded behind her skirt. Thankfully, it worked and she just grinned and punched me softly in the arm.

"Forgiven, this time. And later." She mouthed at me in Mandarin. Pacified in her fury for now, she gave my hand a squeeze back and we began to form up in a line so Kasumi and Mom could take pictures. How long before some of these photos were on the open Furinkan market, in wallet, poster, and billboard size?

When Mom was satisfied, until she could get us to a professional photographer at least, we returned to breakfast and then five of us dashed out the door. With Nabiki peeling off to go 'tend some stuff.' I don't think I have to work to hard on speculating what that was. I didn't bother with running on the fence today. Just keeping to the collective group and moving off to the school so we could get to our orientation on time.

What headaches to look forward to, I dare not even speculate on beforehand.

"And that covers our basic introduction to you. I want to welcome all of our new First Years students formally to Furinkan High. Strive always for excellence in your grades, and to move toward your future with your best efforts. Remember, your teachers, and your administrators are here to provide guidance in any problems you have.

"My door is always open to you, no matter the topic. Club selections will be tomorrow afternoon, so classes will be cancelled early for our exhibition day. We strive to provide you with the best possible sports and activities, so feel free to look at everything.

"Now, before I dismiss everyone to go gather in your classrooms and meet your fellow group mates, and your homeroom teachers, Upperclassman Kuno, would like to address the First Year class.

"Thank you all for coming, and I want to personally wish you a good year."

As a collective group, everyone gave a loud but polite, "Thank you Mr. Tanaka."

The whole gym was packed with the freshmen students. Even early it was starting to get crowded. The four of us found free seats where we could, somewhere in the middle of one side of the room. Letting the kindly Mister Tanaka go over the school's history, goals, expectations and all that. Yadda yadda, welcome, blah blah. I tried not to yawn but I failed.

Even Shampoo looked ready to fall asleep. Although I had met the man a few days ago and he seemed nice if a bit mousy. I hadn't expect he could speak in such a hypnotic monotone. He had several heads leaning forward on occasion, and not just mine. Somehow he made the routine, academic stuff that I really didn't care much about even more boring than I would otherwise find it.

I'd casually flipped my way through some of the textbooks in my offtime while we were waiting for the break to end. I could only grin in triumph. "Cheat sheet" the strange apparition in my weird fever dream had said. I recalled almost all of the information in its entirety. I was a sixteen year old heading into high school with a masters level education from a previous life. Oh yeah, I had the academic crap whipped.

More time to focus on my training and developing my skills to prepare for the challenges I know lay ahead. The chaos and all the adventures it entailed were still going to come, I have little doubt.

Then Tanaka said it. The event that would have kick started weeks of frustration and upset for Akane. I was expecting to walk into it well after the fact. Now I was going to see how this madness would play out first hand. Maybe I could spare her much of the grief upfront. She wasn't alone now. She had three highly talented friends to support her.

"And now one of your upper classmen would like to address you." Tanaka bowed and proceeded to the side of the stage. While a new speaker stepped forth. The chaos of school was now to begin.

He strode up to the podium with all the arrogance I expected, and then some. Tatewaki Kuno. Dressed in the kendo uniform for our school; a dark colored uwagi coat, tucked into black hakama. His usual attire in almost every appearance I remembered. He was tall, with a full head of dark brown hair. He might have been handsome, if he didn't look like the smuggest piece of self assured male ego this side of the Pacific.

Sure, I have a huge ego, and I have a big mouth. Habits I just can't keep down much of the time. They were just part of who Ranma was, who I was. But I wasn't fool enough to think of myself as the kami's gift to the world. As if it and all creatures within should praise their fortunes I was in it. Nor did I carry some kind of centuries old illusions to the superiority of my noble blood. Or whatever delusions swirled in that head of his.

{Everything I expected and then some. Feh, Ryoga's cuter without even trying.} I didn't even try and process that bi curious thought. The Rising Delusion of Furinkan High opened his mouth and set my eye on a fresh twitch.

"Greeting Freshman, Underclassmen. Fellow students, ladies and gentlemen. I am Tatewaki Kuno, age seventeen. I am known as the 'Blazing Meteor' of the grand sport of kendo." The teachers couldn't resist the urge to roll their eyes, or drop faces into palms at his utterance. "I am also captain of our fine kendo club. Should any of you wish to join, be you man or woman, then please, feel free to journey to our humble hall and apply.

"I must warn you, however, only the strongest shall be allowed to join our club. For it is not some mere 'hobby' but a grand sport, the very spirit of the sword itself, left to us by our noble and honored ancestors. To practice kendo at Furinkan High, one must extol the warrior spirit, and the virtues of Bushido! Should you seek to join, be brave and prepare to cross blades with me. For I shall know from your fighting spirit, if you are true and worthy to practice with me and my fellows."

No one seemed the least bit eager to join him in the weird fantasy he was weaving of this elegant world of gallantry and chivalry he was stringing together. I believe it was quite obvious to everyone in the crowd, he was a couple hammers short of a full toolbox. Even the girls who had been admiring him a moment beforehand were reeling back in worry as he went on and on.

"What crazy boy talking about, Ran … Ranko?" Shampoo whispered to me. Catching herself before she called me by proper name. It was going to take practice to call me by how the school thought I was. Was going to take me awhile to get used to hearing it. Her face contorted in a sour expression. "Remind me of too stupid friend from back home."

I almost wanted to snort when she mentioned that particular fool, but I contained it. Her 'friend' Mousse. Mu Tzu. If he could be called a friend. A moron who was nearly blind, and more like a love crazed stalker than friend, but whatever. She could classify him however she wanted. My answer was quickly drowned out when Kuno unveiled the piece de resistance to his rambling, incoherent babble.

"Now, that aside, there is a far more important matter I must address to the entire school. Sasuke!" He called out, and soon there was a whine and the entire PA system was buzzing with his voice. A stage light turned on at the back of the gym, bringing the man to full illumination as the main gym dimmed. A full size studio quality camera rolled forward from the side of the stage.

Men dressed in the full black clothing getup from traditional Japanese theater were working the equipment. The whole 'we're the background, making nature move, don't mind us' thing. Their faces masked in cloth as dark as their outfits.

How the hell did he arrange all this?

Nevermind, his family was stupidly wealthy and I was in an anime styled universe where that meant his money could buy almost anything without delay or consequence , regular logic didn't apply in expected fashion.

"To all my brothers in the student body, be you refined and versed in the elegant and courtly fashion of love, or a low hound of base lusts, I say to you this. There are many fair flowers in this garden that you may pursue. However, among the whole of the field, in this new class, there are three who stand above all others. No offense to you other maidens, for not all can shine as the Sun, for t'would render Her majestic glow little more than a speck of light, among a sea of lights.

"Nay, there are those who stand above all in their reflection of beauty, and feminine elegance. This year, there are three who are maidens molded in the divine image of Venus. Behold our elegant goddesses."

Three large banners unfurled and rolled down, from top of the curtain rod to the floor of the stage. Stunningly high quality images which would cost a fortune to produce. Of course, this fool had the money to spare for their production.

Ryoga's lungs blasted out his hair, while the three girls beside him; well, two girls and one part timer, all developed ticks in our eyes. We were looking at ourselves. Larger than life and for every eye in the school to see. A few stunned gazes moved from the stage, to us, and back. Doing repeated, slow pan takes.

His spotlight clicked off, repositioned and then highlighted the banner to his right. "Behold, the fair Akane Tendo.. See the brilliant streaks of lightning in her silken tresses, but the tender, sweet concern of a maiden fair. Gentle and soft as the morning breeze, yet fierce and powerful as a hunting tigress. Complete and utter mistress of her domain"

His light moved again to his left. "Behold, the exotic princess of deepest China. The bold warrior maiden Shampoo. Though she be from foreign land, she is a spice of deepest flavor. Molded in the very primordial clay which the gods fashioned Pandora. Beautiful, elegant, cunning. The ideal companion for a man with a warrior's soul."

The light shifted once more to the middle banner and he continued on. "Behold, demure and fair. Born from a mother who is indeed the ideal wife to a samurai. She is small, quick, and powerful. The swift hart in human form. Ranko Saotome, the gentlest purities distilled into essence of a woman.

"Know, they are skilled martial artists all. The Queens of our humble school. With beauty, skill, and talent in excess. Should any man wish to date one of these heavenly constellations, he must first prove himself worthy by conquering her in battle. For only a warrior of true might may claim the right and worth to have the hand of she whom he desires.

"However, my friends, let us remember our honor. Though you may fight for the hand of one, or test yourself against each, be you sincere and loyal in your devotions. For a man may have only one Eve in the garden of his heart! Find the one to whom you would pledge your undying devotion, and seek her to the fullest of your ability!"

There was a flash and rumble as the background crew playing to the stage directions of his ridiculous performance, one toggled the lights quickly and someone was visibly rattling a large sheet of metal.

"So says the Knight Champion of Furinkan High!" A loud slam of a striker on a gong, the hell did they get that? As if to make his pronouncement some kind of final and imperial decree and then the fool bowed.

"Thank you, that is all." Bowing deeply at the hip, to no applause, only confusion. Without even missing a beat he turned and began to stride away. Moving as I imagine a peacock might, strutting the display of his beautiful tail fan.

The lights returned to normal and the stage crew calmly took up their kit. The banners loosened from their overhead supports, rolled up, and with their cables and equipment calmly proceeded out of the gym as if this were the routine end of a the day's filming. Our suddenly very tired looking vice-principal came back to the podium.

"Thank you, Mr. Kuno for that … unusual display. Alright, please rise, your home room teachers will be organizing you into your groups. Please look for the signs with your assigned class number and meet in an orderly fashion outside."

The faculty came forward and began to raise up large cardboard signs with class group numbers on them and called out for students to meet up outside in a few minutes. There was instant clamor as everyone was curious what kind of madness they had just witness. While four of us just sat rooted to our seats. Blinking, angrily twitching, and outright flabbergasted.

"Airen, what just happen?" Shampoo's lips were a tight line, the color almost squeezed out of them from the tension the were enduring.

Akane's right eye just pulsed with a rhythmic tick. A couple pulls in the muscle every second. She had no words, just stiffly made herself stand and begin to stomp down the stairs on the bleachers. The heavy thuds announcing her passage. A blue corona began to form around her as she walked, and students promptly fell out of her way.

"Ryoga, why don't you keep up with her, make sure she doesn't … you know, break something, or someone." I muttered, fighting to keep my anger tightly reigned myself. The Lost Boy blinked, looked to me and then just gave a limp nod before tailing behind Akane. Not too close, he'd seen what one of her angry spells could do to stone masonry, and theoretically to a human.

"Shampoo, I think our lives just got really, really annoying." I growled, lacing my fingers into her own and we both squeezed tight. Mutual sign of frustration and unyielding support through it. People stared but no one dared comment as we followed Akane.

The Three Queens of Furinkan were given a horribly wide passage and little interaction. Probably something to do with the 'martial artist' reference from Kuno, and the fact three of us were all sporting some form of very venomous aura. Our homeroom teacher, Ms Ichiro didn't even try to ask. Simply getting us into an ordered pair of lines and walking off to the classroom to begin assigning seats and let us make self introductions.

"Ugh, I'm exhausted." Shoulders slumped and half leaning on Shampoo while we made our way home. The school day hadn't gotten worse after the initial shock of Kuno's now magnified idiocy. However, our classmates had quickly surrounded and bombarded us with questions. It would figure, the four of us were assigned to a neat little square, toward the middle of the room.

As soon as the teacher gave us leave to socialize it turned into a zoo. They were all intently interested in how the four of us knew one another. The girls swamped Ryoga with curious questions which of the three of us he was dating. His weak protests did little to make them believe him, and the guys just rolled their eyes, as if he were lying outright.

"Sure, Ryoga, three hotties like these, and you aren't sweet on one of them? I bet."

Was the general consensus amongst them all. Not used to such attention both he and Akane were rendered to cute, blushing fits. Shampoo was a trained warrior, heir to a respected family Matriarch, and pride of her village. While sometimes the fast speech might get her, she was in her element, playing court.

Me? This was kind of new. Oh sure I had plenty of friends, but we didn't do the whole maul with twenty people thing. It took a long while to diffuse the situation down to groups of people and ease them off. The torrent of questions and friend chatter was more than I had put up with in a long time. So I was mentally drained by the end of it.

"Me too … what was that?" Ryoga groaned, looking as if he'd just run a full marathon, whilst hauling a five ton boulder on his back. Which coincidentally might be what it would take to drain his stamina sufficiently to so drag his feet.

"First day of high school?" Akane offered with a weak little laugh of her own. Trudging along with the rest of us and looking no less at the end of her mental function for the day. We didn't feel like talking much, we were out of words. I've never had that happen before.

"This better stop soon … Shampoo no want do that again." She mumbled, leaning her head on mine. "Like be in … err … coop of chicken, yes? All cluck cluck like talking big important thing or something."

"Close enough." I muttered and sighed in relief when we were finally in sight of the house. Never in any lifetime had I experienced such a tiring day. Not even my worst day of work left me so bereft of energy. How could socializing burnout your energy reserves? I know it wasn't true, but I could swear I just lost five pounds through the sheer tedium of handling my homeroom.

As we closed in on the dojo, a dark blotch came flying over the property fence and landed in the middle of the road. It resolved itself into a mass of black and white fur, wielding a wooden sign which it proceeded to use as a weapon.

~Get changed and prepare for some intense training boy!~

The kanji was quite literally being shoved into my face with the clear intent of slapping me around. Instinct took over and adrenaline suddenly surged in my veins. A fist lashing out and punching clean through the sigh. I was in the process of going into a tight spin to put the back of my hand in Genma's cheek, but I was beaten to the punch, literally.

"Shampoo no in mood, stupid panda!"

Training with my father for the better part of a month, with his random sneak attacks and dirty tricks had put a wariness and swift sense of retaliation in both of my training partners. They snapped into action as soon as they knew what game we were playing.

Pummel the instructor.

Shampoo quickly cracked a sharp kick into the back of his knee, pitching him off balance. To then put his face into intimate contact with Ryoga's fist. The one-two combo had the desired effect and dropped the old fool like a sack of rice. I didn't bother to spare him any pity. He'd taken worse beatings from the three of us, and probably far more horrible from his old master.

All he could do was twitch on the ground. A quivering mass of blubber and fur, stunned but not long defeated. With a huff, my hand was snatched and I was pulled ahead by my lover. Who turned up her nose and snorted as she lead us on toward the house. Ryoga just gave Akane a weak shrug and smiled, proceeding on after.

I glanced over my shoulder, and a sly grin spread on my face as I watched Akane. She glanced down to my old man, shook her head, and then followed, and she didn't bother trying to go around him. She walked right across his back like he was a bear skin rug, adding her own insult to his injuries. Probably wouldn't do more than pop his spine for him, but she did give her heels a little extra dig and twist as she walked.

Then caught up to us and we were all on our way back to the house. Leaving behind the temporarily dazed body of the old fool. He didn't stay down long. He never did. Soon he rolled over and sat up. Growling at our backs and waving a new sign. I still don't know where he hid those things.

~This isn't over Ranma!~

"Growf, grr!"

Seeing he was getting nowhere with our attention, he promptly flipped the sign about and waved it in wide sweeps, like that would suddenly get us to look.

~Oh come on, it was a joke.~

Flip. ~Respect your elders!~

Flip. ~Send Kasumi with some aspirin … please?~

Our quartet just rounded the property wall and proceeded inside the gate to greet Kasumi and Mom and go get changed to relax for the afternoon. Pop continued to play the pitiable fool for ten minutes before Mom finally collected him. The kettle she was carrying looked particularly hot.

I just grinned with a sadistic glee as he howled in pain when he was doused.

"Owww! Nodoka that's hottttt!"

I let out a particularly loud grunt this time. The tight ball of tension in my shoulders was being stubborn. Took a bit longer than normal, but skilled fingers soon got it unwound and I cooed in delight following. Shampoo's digits were a powerful balm for soothing knots and sore spots buried in the muscles.

There was no homework, and we didn't feel like intense workouts, so we'd shed the uniforms for more comfortable clothing and picked out a nice spot on the lawn to relax. The sun was bright overhead and it was warm, but not muggy like it was bound to be come summer. An occasional, nice breeze slipped through the air just to accentuate how blissfully agreeable the weather was being.

Shampoo and I had taken a swift trip home to collect a change of clothing and returned. Our choices had decidedly turned up the fan service dial a bit, but Ryoga was surviving. Pretty sure we were steadily immunizing him to displays of female flesh. When he ever gets a girlfriend and gets to explore being a man, he might just avoid passing out in a pool of his own blood. On second thought, the moment he sees her body bared, he'll fall right out no matter his preparations. Like touching a hot stove for the first time, some things just have to be experienced to be understood.

To forgo shutting down Ryoga's brain I had pulled out the most covering bikini top I had. Had the stupid things, might as well use them. This one covered the most flesh of the collection. I had paired it comfortable shorts rather than more exposing bottoms. Shampoo has no such worries of modesty and was in something that skirted the line of 'decent,' but ooo she looked so yummy. Especially with the liberties she was taking of sliding her hips along my back while helping work out the stress from today.

We had drug Kasumi along with us, she deserved to relax every now and then too. Startlingly she gave Shampoo a run for her money in their own sunwear. It was hard to think that someone so prim and proper would go for such a flesh displaying two of those hard to explain, covered everything important, but left none of her incredible figure to the imagination. Her measurements in all areas challenge both myself and Shampoo for top place.

{Those dresses do hide her beauty, damn I never imagined she was so hot.} I didn't let my eyes linger, however. Shampoo's hands could just as quickly go from massaging my muscles to pinching them in excruciatingly painful ways.

Poor Akane was pulling the modest act. She was in a soft blue one-piece. The girl did have a very nice figure, but I guess she didn't feel comfortable in a flesh display competition with us all of us. She looked a tinge envious as her eyes roamed.

Two heavy beach blankets were spread out on the grass and we were soaking up the sun. Shampoo had played devoted wife and had essentially spoiled me with attention. The longer we stayed in the Tendo home, the less she was concerned with what she felt was stuffy, nonsense Japanese decorum. Oh she didn't try to suck my tonsils out in front of everyone else, but she didn't care what they thought of her other open displays of affection.

I guess it was some innate possessive instinct. With three females around who were potential fiancee candidates, even if we had burned that notion pretty well, she had no issues continually marking her property.

I couldn't work up the will to complain. I'd never been so spoiled before. It also was something of a challenge as I had to keep stretching my romantic talents and find ways to show her my appreciation in turn. Really did need to think of something special I could for her soon, I was just having a rough time figuring out what.

"Mmm, Ryoga, a little to the right … down .. ooo there." Akane sighed as she too was getting a massage from the boy who was trying to work his way into her good graces. In his rather dopey, I suppose cute way. His cheeks were set in a bright blush as he worked on her back carefully. The poor boy couldn't work up the nerve to pull off his tank top, so there he was the most dressed of the five.

His fingers worked Akane's back like she was a piece of delicate china and not a highly trained fighter. With his strength, however, it was probably a safer thing. Was doing a fine job from the way Akane's eyes had rolled closed and she was giving a happy hum on every breath. That made his blush go from dull to incandescent. If he glowed any brighter planes were going to start landing in the yard.

Shampoo slid off my back to pour some tea, only to frown when she noticed the pitcher empty. The girl bounced up, in more ways than one, almost causing Ryoga to develop a nasal leak. Paying him no mind she vanished inside the house to get more tea and ice. Yeah I was going to have to do something special for her soon.

My romantic planning was quite suddenly halted when a pair of hands grabbed hold of my posterior region and squeezed. It was a full on, unabashed grope from a borderline pervert. From the feel of them, it was easy to take a guess who was helping herself to a thorough examination of my glutes. Hadn't even heard her sneak up, and the sun was casting shadows in the other direction from where I was laying. She was good, I'll give her that.

Rather than jump out of my skin or act all indignant I just sighed. "Can I help you Nabiki? I don't even have back pockets on these shorts, so you're not going to find any money in there."

Ever the prepared, sly demoness she was, the girl just leaned in and cooed in her my ear. "You've got a great butt for a girl Ranma, with those muscles and these hips, there's all kinds of potential money here. If you'd be so kind as to go change into a proper bikini, I could make a killing selling the pictures."

"Uh huh, and I'm sure your photography fee would be only thirty-five percent, and the agent fee would be a modest fifteen?" I could almost hear her pout that I wasn't getting upset and angrily clucking like a disturbed hen. Or the fact I wasn't shivering with her breath tickling the fine hairs along the side of my face. Took a lot of effort to keep from showing that reaction. I still managed.

The girl was ever quick to adapt and she just leaned back affecting a hurt voice. "You wound me Saotome. For you? Special deal, total package at forty-five."

"That's so kind of you." I drawled, not bothering to spare her a glance. "You might want to move before Shampoo gets back and finds you playing around with her toys. This butt belongs to her."

Her sigh was long and suffering, and her fingers kept their exploration despite the threat of an angry warrior-woman girlfriend. "Must be good to be only children, you two should really learn how to share. I mean especially since there are three girls here who are potential fiancees."

Kasumi took that sentence in stride, shaking her head with a sigh. "Nabiki, I believe we already settled this matter when Ranma first arrived. If any of us are going to be engaged, it's because we want to be, not because of some old promise. And besides, Ranma and Shampoo are already engaged."

"Kasumi, do you really think Daddy and Mister Saotome will give up that easily? They're not ready to sell the farm just yet. I've heard them cooking up some stupid ideas, which they forget about as quick as they pop up, but they're still trying to figure out how to get one of us attached to Ranma."

The entire time she spoke, her fingers continued to grope my behind. Exploring the entire landscape like she was trying to create a map for herself. My warning growl went entirely unheeded by the girl as she kept entertaining herself, and confirming what I already suspected. Figures the old man wouldn't give up without being sneaky.

"Well, if you don't want to put your name in the hat, I can't see much to complain about here. I mean sure, Ranma's a girl half the time, but she's hot, and the boy is pretty sexy too. What do you say Ranma, get hitched to me and we can model together. I look pretty good in a bikini, if I do say so myself. All you have to do is be sexy for the camera, I can handle all the business matters."

For emphasis the girl leaned forward and a couple soft lumps pressed into my back. I had to grind my teeth together and keep myself from making a sound. The girl wasn't gifted as Kasumi, Shampoo, or myself, but her chest felt like it was pretty amazing. All the Tendo girls were high on the scale of attractive. Might not have been so bad to be engaged to one of them, but I had Shampoo.

I was about to just get up and move inside when she finally broke off and changed directions. Seeing as I wasn't going to play to her barbs, she turned on her baby sister.

"Well, Kasumi is out, so that puts me at the top of the list. But I'll be nice, if you let me rent Ranma out for photo shoots, I'll let you have him instead Akane. I can verify, this meat is grade a, prime cut." Her hand smacked one of the cheeks of my butt for emphasis.

"Cut that out … " I growled, which was a mistake as I sat up, and her hands promptly darted out like a pair of starved leeches. Pressing into and bouncing my chest. She grinned to find they overflowed her palms. My teeth ground all the more. God I wanted to slap her, but despite my hand twitching in want, I restrained myself. While it might be momentarily satisfying, her revenge would be long and cold. To say nothing of how everyone else would react to my loss of control.

"Yup, the produce is high grade Akane. And just think, you can explore everything. How many times can you get yourself a meaty hunk, and a hot babe in one package? I wouldn't blame you for wanting the bundle."

Akane had been steadily preparing her boiled lobster impersonation. Skin flushing a deeper shade of pink, which finally turned to red. The girl sputtered and shot bolt upright. Cheeks looking close to catching fire.

"Leave Ranma alone, Nabiki! Yes he's handsome and it might not be bad if he was my boyfff…. " Her eyes widened as she realised what was coming out of her mouth. It swung loose on her jaw for a minute before snapping closed. Her cheeks went from red into a very dangerous looking shade of purple.

Just as she turned around I noticed her eyes began to glisten. She then shot back into the house with her feet touching the floor so quickly her steps were soft, not thumping loud. Poor Ryoga suffered a terminal shutdown and systems had to reboot. Between Nabiki's sexual harassment on my body, then Akane's near admission of attraction to me, he had gone from embarassed to heart aching.

Shampoo just rounded the corner from the kitchen, a curious and somewhat worried expression on her eyes as she glanced back the way Akane had run toward her room. Then looked to all of us in concern. Locking eyes with me in open question on what she'd missed. The pitcher of tea and some snack cakes in hand. I just motioned up toward Akane's room. With only a nod she turned and headed for the stairs.

Nabiki? She was ever the unflappable, distant ice queen. As if the affairs of we mere mortals simply did not concern her. The girl had slid into Akane's abandoned lounge and taken up some of the lotion to begin rubbing it into her skin. Not the least bit concerned she'd just upset her sister.

Kasumi gave a disappointed frown, as much as Kasumi ever frowned at least, but said nothing. Wouldn't have helped. Nabiki would just say her jokes had gone misunderstood, or something to that matter. The girl was slippery as an eel soaked in oil. She had a convenient excuse for everything, and would never be held to the emotional cost of her actions.

All I could do was roll my eyes and snort giving her one hard look before leaving myself. She was attractive sure, but girl was top tier cruel in her own way. Her amusement would come before everything, and if people shed tears for her chuckles, oh well. They needed to toughen up, not she needed to quit being mean.

An easy leap took me up to Akane's window. Where I tapped on it softly a few times. Now was the hard part. How to calm her down without either playing on her hopes, or hurting her feelings more.

She was already in her room, and snatching a pull over dress from her closet. She took one look at me in the window and frowned. The dress snatched over her head and to her hips. She was so upset she didn't even bother trying to work the wrinkles out. Just turning her rigid body to the window and sliding it open.

"What Ranma? I don't need your pity!" Her words were tense and she was straining to keep from either bursting into further tears or let her anger run wild.

"Can I come in? I just want to talk." Voice soft and trying to sound empathetic without being patronizing or talking down to her. I don't really know how well her mind interprets kindness when she's in such a huff. Her anger was still a powerful, unbridled force when unleashed. She had a habit of not hearing what people meant when she was mad.

With a grunt she just stepped over and sat on her bed. Arms crossing while she continued to keep her face strained and tense. Moisture was still pooling at the side of her eyes. Nabiki had stabbed her deep with that one. One of these days I was going to have to repay for that. Being a mean sibling was one thing, but this was just cruel.

Pulling out her chair, I sat with it facing the wrong way round. Leaning my arms onto the back rest and faced her. My eyes studied her quietly, and despite having to dab at her eyes she put on a strong front. Looking right back into my eyes even as she cleared away the droplets before they could become tears.

"You want to talk about it?" Keeping my voice soft and neutral as possible. Concerned without leaning one way or the other.

"Talk about what?" She lashed out in a tense voice. "How my sister can be such a bitch? How she likes to embarrass me in front of my friends? How she's trying to suggest that I … that we .. " Her voice waved as the angry tone began to fade. Looking away and biting on her lip.

"Yeah, that, all of those, any of those. Whatever you feel like talkin' about. Or we could just go out the dojo and you could try and work those frustrations out."

Taking a slow breath, she finally broke down and actually sniffled. That in itself was more cute than sad. I kept my grin contained though. She didn't need to see that and misinterpret my amusement.

A hand wiped across her face as she sighed again. "I'm sorry Ranma. It's not like that, at least I don't think it is." Hands falling in her face she let out a long growl of frustration. "I just don't know. You and Shampoo, you're so happy together. And. And." She went silent again, words failing her.

"You see us and want to know what that feels like? To understand what that kind of happiness can be?" This time I did smile, working it out slowly as she nodded. "I'm sorry Akane. We kind of swept into your life and turned everything upside down. You were going to have a fiance forced on to one of you, and said boy actually turns into a sexy girl."

She blushed a bit at that, which I found curious but didn't probe. I just continued on. "You've grown up your whole life in a dojo, but here I come from a life spent on the road. Trainin' in martial arts, with a rival and a girlfriend who've done the same. All three of us have had dedicated teacher and training, while your Dad is … a nice guy." Picking my words carefully, she was still pretty sensitive.

"Then my Mom drops back into my life, even if I didn't really remember her. And you can never have that chance again. And then we're all swept off again out of the house." Taking a breath, I closed my eyes. "I have a lot of blessings I do take for granted. I'm sorry if that upsets you."

She grunted and waved her hands furiously, causing me to look at her once more. "It's not your fault, it just … I shouldn't feel that way."

"But you do." I didn't have to see her nod to know the truth of her emotions on the matter. "Not like we can control how we feel 'bout stuff sometimes. It's nothin' for me to get mad 'bout. Don't worry 'kane, you can always talk to me and Shampoo. We're friends. Talkin' is what we're supposed to do."

Offering her my best smile as she nodded, relaxing a little more. "You know Ryoga's sweet on you?" Testing that line to see if the bait was even any good for this particular fish.

"Really?" Her face scrunched up as if she couldn't believe that. "Don't tease me Ranma."

"I'm not! He's really sweet on you. Why not give him a try?" Watching her expression as she continued to refuse to believe that statement. Moving from suspicion of the truth, to just outright denial of the facts. She couldn't bring herself to believe true.

"Ryoga's a very sensitive guy. So sweet and kind … but I just can't see him that way." Then she goes and drops that bombshell on me. Oh well, scratch that one off the list. So much for trying to the most conventional, alternate route. Still plenty of other directions to take though.

"Okay, so Ryoga's a no, but I'm a maybe?" Arching my brow quietly as I looked to her. The blush on her cheeks returned and she suddenly became an astronomer. Eyes looking to the ceiling and keeping anywhere but on my face.

"I don't know. Yes. Maybe. There's just something about you that I like, Ranma." Biting on her lip she lowered her eyes to glance to me. "It wouldn't be right though. You and Shampoo. I couldn't get between the two of you. You'd both hate me, and I'd hate myself more."

"You couldn't share?"

Her eyes snapped back to me, the fire trying to rekindle. "What?! No! No way I'd share my boyfriend with another girl, not even someone I was friends with." She spoke that with harsh finality.

I just smirked and nodded, "Shampoo, you got your answer, you can come in now."

Akane's eyes went wide at the prospect someone was listening in. Seeming to have forgotten the Chinese girl in question might want to listen in on this. There was a bump behind the door. Must've startled her too.

"What .. Shampoo not … ooo, mean Airen." The door opened and she stepped inside. One last glance down the hall before closing the door behind her. Leaning into the frame and glanced between the two of us.

"Shampoo glad to hear. Akane is a friend. No want Akane to be obstacle. Obstacles is for killing." She spoke in such a matter of fact tone. Akane looked as though it was a joke at first. Seeing no signs of mirth in my lover's eyes though, she quickly blanched at the prospect.

"Shampoo, may I?" Glancing to her with an unspoken question. She understood my query even if unspoken. She still wasn't happy with it. The girl frowned and crossed her arms, turning her back to me and tilting her head in a haught pose. If she didn't see it, then it didn't happen.

The chair rolled close to the floor and Akane's stunned face. I gently touched her cheeks. "Akane, kiss me." Speaking in a soft voice but so serious.

The girl looked confused. That quickly giving way to panic. "What? That's not funny Ranma! Shampoo's right here in the room, and she's your girlfriend … and and … we're both girls!" Her voice raising to higher octaves as she tried to recoil from me and the embarrassing thought of what I proposed.

Shy girl was definitely cute, but it gave me enough of an answer.

Before she could smack me I let her face go and rolled back. Grin still wide on my lips as I nodded. "There's your answer then. Maybe you're crushing on me a little, but more because you want to have a relationship of you own. You've seen Shampoo try to suck my mouth off as a girl. The idea doesn't sit well with you, does it?"

Her cheeks turned a deep shade somewhere between red and purple as she began to shake her head furiously. "I'm sorry Ranma, but I just couldn't. Your girl side is pretty, but just … no. Even if it is you, I just couldn't. I don't like girls like that."

Giving her another nod, I smiled and reached out. Giving her shoulder a soft squeeze. "That's good enough for me. You like who you like, 'kane. Girls, boys, don't matter. Least that's what I think. You like the idea of dating me, more than you'd like to date me.

"Don't worry, 'kane. You'll find the right guy for you. It's a big school, and it's a big city. Give it time. You can always come and talk to me and Shampoo. Be happy to help how we can. Advice, feelings, don't matter. My shoulder is always ready to lean on.

"Just, be gentle with Ryoga. He's sensitive alright. Down right fragile." The girl nodded and sighed. She didn't like the prospect of breaking his heart, but had to let him down before his crush got out of hand. Though I don't know how well he'll take it when she does let him know.

"Now, let's either go relax, or go practice or somethin'?"

"I could go for a session in the dojo. I feel like putting my fists through someone."

"You're welcome to try, Tendo. You're welcome to try." I grinned wider and stood. Putting the chair back in place. Shampoo and I left Akane to slip into her gi while we went to change into the clothes we'd brought for afternoon training as well.

"You've got to be kidding me." Akane growled. The grip on her bag tightened until the leather creaked in protest. Knuckles going white and then popping under the strain put on them.

"Airen … why boys at this school so stupid?" Shampoo was no less angered and no less exasperated by what she beheld.

"I wish I had an answer for that. All I know right now, it's going to be hard to keep from tearing them inside out. Especially Kuno." I was just weary to the whole affair. I knew it was going to be a sight to behold. An annoyance spectacular.

I was not expecting this.

It seemed every single male in the school had turned out. The less physically inclined were flying banners. "Shampoo, you are my goddess!" "Akane, the chem club NEEDS you!" "Ranko, Queen of Furinkan! Most Beautiful Under The Sun!" All manner of such stupidity.

Those that weren't in the back of the line, or hanging signs out of windows stood before us in three groups. Almost all of them from the various athletic clubs on campus. Didn't matter the club in question. They were all here. Baseball. Basketball. Judo. Karate. Kendo. Even hockey and sumo. Just how many sports did this blasted school offer?

They formed up three groups standing under various banners. Akane to one side. Shampoo to the other. Mine in the middle. By far the largest collection of idiots by at least a quarter over the other two combined. I didn't know whether to be flattered, and thereby not murder them. Or doubly angry because I'm neither a girl, not into boys, and was receiving the most attention. It was also something of an unintended insult to both the real girls in my company.

Ryoga just stared. The whole thing was surreal to him. Even our middle school brawls hadn't equalled this level of outright stupidity. Sure, all the boys had fought tooth and nail in the lunchroom, but that had been fang and claw. Only the strongest could claim the last bread. Hunger was a powerful motivator for boys.

Apparently misplaced affection, or just moronic lust had an even greater lure for the adolescent brain. In this world anyway, lured by the promise of a date with one of us, under the direction of the idiot in chief.

"Ugh, let's just get to class. I don't even feel like making it a competition for fun. So not in the mood for this crap. Plow thru, pull no punches, yadda yadda."

{I'm going to have thank Mom for taking me to the doctor. I'd surely murder someone otherwise. Not sure I still won't kill one of them now.}

My period had started late yesterday. It had not carried away all of my suffering with it, but my meds were making it manageable. My hormones were normal, as normal as they can be for a teenager anyway. So I wasn't moody or ready to stab someone for looking at me wrong. I'd still woken up with a wicked headache, and my stomach was cramping something fierce.

Some pain medication, a hot shower, and then a good run to the dojo to pick up Akane and Ryoga and now to school had taken the edge off of it. Walking into this explosion of idiocy did nothing for my mood. I had no sympathy to spare for the hornets' nest these dim bulbs were rousing.

With a shared nod the three of us just broke into a run. That gave the starting gun for the groups to charge. Giving loud cries of support for their chosen lovers to feel the power of their feelings. As they tried to pummel us into submission on the hopes of winning a date. They were in the for the most painful lesson of their lives.

"Ran ..Ranko, will you be okay with that many?" Akane shot me a worried glance, as I had the most to deal with by far. It was touching, but not needed.

"Psh, won't even break a sweat. Ninety seconds, tops." She gave me a skeptical look, still worried I might be biting off more than I could chew. She seemed to want to pull Ryoga in to help me, but I waved him off.

Shampoo said nothing, she knew quite well how easy this was going to be. Seconds later the groups were upon us. Or more, we were upon them. Their numbers might be intimidating to the inexperienced. Hell, if I'd walked into this a month ago I might well have been overwhelmed. When I was a fawn learning how to walk.


I'd long since not only gotten comfortable with this body, but how to bring my training and instincts to bear. Working with Ryoga, Shampoo, Pop, and even Akane had sharpened me to be just like the Ranma I had been before that blow to the head had woken me to a past life. I knew my reach flawlessly. I knew the limits of my strength as a female, but also my much increased speed.

Breaking into the pack and wailing on them without remorse. My sudden increase in pace startled the frontrunners into immobility. They had no idea what they were dealing with. I had been several feet from them, then just suddenly in their faces. Now in the fray I took this as a test of my muscle memory and tactical analytics.

What was the most efficient path to taking my various opponents out of the fight?

I had studied countless martial arts styles in Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Hell, I'd downright mastered most of them. The school of Indiscriminate Grappling, or Anything Goes Martial Arts took a page of philosophy I vaguely recall similar to the legendary Bruce Lee.

Be like water, you must always adapt or drown. You must always learn more. You must never stop improving. Always study different things. Incorporate it to your style. Keep that which works. Discard that which does not.


Don't think. Do!

I quickly reached into that deep bag of knowledge and pulled up things which I recalled. What worked in such a situation? Complimented my speed? It all flooded into my brain with a stunning swiftness and even before I was on the lead, unlucky boy, my senses were working to full alert.

A tactical plan of swift action had formed. Tempered with the constant mantra in my head.

{These guys aren't martial artists. I could kill 'em if I don't hold back. I don't need that on my conscience.}

Keeping that running in my head I got to work. Quick and tight motions. The first kid I put my fist into his solar plexus. His lungs deflated like a balloon and he crashed back into several others. I didn't feel his bones break. Good. I had the power right to not cause excessive damage. I wasn't going to be merciful, but at the same time I didn't want to put anyone in the hospital if I could help it.

No time to focus on Shampoo or Akane. Just keep my concentration on the fight on front of me. There was a pile up as the first one stumbled back and was almost trampled by the weight of the mob behind. There was a small opening, but it was enough. I plowed in. Using short, tight punches to nerve clusters or ribs.

They weren't nearly as powerful as I could have delivered, but they were more than sufficient to the task. I kept a stable base on my feet. Draw power up from the earth below me, through my hips and into my arms. Just like Pop had taught me. I only needed an inch with unskilled fools like these.

A jammed blow into a tight muscle grouping was enough to paralyse them with pain. It was momentary, just seconds long, but more than I needed to act. They went down like bowling pins, one right after the other. Most couldn't even take more than one blow before they collapsed. Clutching at arms, chest or just collapsing outright for want of breath.

I never even had to go airborne to get clear. Just smack a few of them out of my way and take the next opening in the group. They were ever so helpful in assisting me there. The throng was so tight they fell over one another as I knocked their fellows back into them. Collapsing and tripping themselves up to try and surround me.

Finally I broke free to the end of the cluster of morons. Quickly turning and taking a look around. Yet, no one was standing up. A quick assessment seemed to say that had done more damage to each other, than I had caused collectively. Running over one another with cleats. Bashing one another with hockey sticks and kendo bokken in tight spaces didn't tend to lend well to others in the area.

In my rather hyper acute sense of time it felt like it had been a lot longer than it was. To my prediction I hadn't even broken a sweat. Hell I wasn't even panting from exertion. Just the adrenaline rush that was quickly fading. I glanced to the school clock tower.

"Come on, not even a minute? Sheesh, my old man gives me more of a workout in his sleep." I groused to the groaning pile of bodies. None of the ones flying banners with my name on them were brave enough to step forward.

I turned my attention to the others. The increasingly diminishing number of those still standing. Shampoo had slung her bag across her back and pulled out her chui. From where ever the hell it was she hid those things. I really had to learn that trick.

She just rolled through her group with the efficiency of a bulldozer and grace of a dancer. She didn't even so much as give a firm swing of her arms. More just alternated left and right, putting the business end to the torsos of anything in front of her. Occasionally she would catch and flip someone behind her to take care of those aiming for her back. Most just went flying into the others and creating a huge gap she casually walked through.

Not fifteen seconds after I had finished, she gently cracked the last one on the head and sent his eyes rolling up in his head. Which then crashed in for a dirtnap. Her hair hadn't even been mussed as she walked over to join me. Pausing only as a boy suddenly went flying in front of her and hitting a tree.

We both blinked and glanced back in the direction he had been thrown from. Akane had opted to just hold her ground. Welcoming on the hoard and lashed out with every limb. Her father had certainly trained her well, and I could see where our advice had helped her improve. There was almost no wasted movement. Her approach was simple and direct, but brutally effective.

Punch. Kick. Toss. She made use of everything in her arsenal and easily used her momentum to continue chaining together attacks and turning them on the next target. She proved to be far more limber than I had expected. One member of the soccer club had tried to slip into her blind spot and attack her exposed back. Or what he presumed was exposed. He had several inches on her, but she easily launched a reverse high kick that planted her toes in his chin.

They vastly underestimated her strength as well. She might be somewhat inferior to Shampoo and myself in that area, for now, but that was only because she was still learning how to harness her ki. To use her breathing, her full energy to put the utmost into every blow. She was still getting almost the maximum possible output from her muscles. Keeping her center of gravity under control and using her full body to transfer the utmost power into her blows.

Skirt flaring about she moved forward steadily and opened up holes all around her as they kept trying to pile on. Not even half a minute after I had finished she walked up to join both of us. Flipping hair back over her shoulder. Like us, she also wasn't breathing hard.

"Hmph, nice warmup, but you're going to have to do way better than that. You didn't even touch me." While her face was flush with the bloodrush, she seemed as annoyed as I felt. Her eyes did take on a bit of a worried expression as she looked to me.

"How did I do?" Speaking in a soft voice. Afraid my criticism would be harsh and condescending of her abilities. I don't know why she worried over my opinion that much, or still seemed to think I would berate her for bad performance. Some things between us still didn't make much sense to me.

"You did good. Controlled breathing, you were on balance the whole time. You've also gotten a lot better at not telegraphing your moves. A few more weeks of refinement and you're going to be ready for some serious, advanced training." I had developed something a 'teacher' mode with her. Though I was far nicer than Pop would be.

And as usual, she beamed at being complimented and received constructive criticism with grace rather than wounded pride. "You really mean that Ran ...ko?" Blushing as she caught herself on the name. Hope still daring to burn in her eyes.

"'Kane, have I lied to you yet about something like that?"

"No, you haven't. I'm sorry, still just getting used to someone who takes my training seriously as I do." She mumbled.

Ryoga finally got his brain back in order and darted over to us. While I just smiled and squeezed Akane's shoulder. "Well I aint used to teachin' either, so there's a lot for both of us to get used to."

The four of us just turned for the front doors when they banged open. The Blazing Rockhead of Furinkan standing there. Filling the entrance with his colossal ego, moronity, and detachment from what the rest of us call the real world.

"Ah, beautifully done, fair maidens. Shame the heart of beasts so unmoved by divine performance you have displayed. Unable to appreciate the subtle grace and power of your skills. But lo, come, I, Tatewaki Kuno invite you to test yourselves against me.

"Come, which would try her hand at the chance to date with my magni…" His doubtlessly long soliloquy was cut thankfully short. Akane's school bag hit him in the face, bringing him to silence. Then Shampoo performed her trademark mace toss. It was to his fortune Akane's bag padded him from the worst of the injury. Rather than a broken nose, he simply cracked the front step with his skull.

Akane walked over him, grabbing her discarded pack as she went on inside. Making sure to stomp her feet with extra effort as she went over the threshold. Shampoo followed suit. Her chui made a second contact with his skull as she picked it up. Ryoga just glanced at their departing backs, then me, then proceeded inside.

Standing close to Kuno I just rolled my eyes. "Good thing you've got a thick skull. Now, if you'll excuse me … eeeee"

With a recovery that caught me off guard, he popped right back up and knelt before me. He could make Pop jealous with a bounceback that fast.

"Your concern touches me, oh fair Ranko. For your worry, I would allow you to date with … meeeeeeee." He plucked a rose from inside his coat and meant to push it into my hand. I promptly caught his arm and performed a full rotation and pitched him up toward the roof.

"How about another time, like never. Besides, there's a Blazin' Meteor shower today, you should go see it!" Leaning back I gauged his flight against the horizon. "Ah, shoot, he's only gonna clear the clock, I was hopin' to get him to the baseball field at least. Arc was too shallow."

I watched for a minute longer as the tardy bell began to sound. As predicted, he returned to earth to shallow to go past the building. Instead he crashed back down onto the roof of the clock tower. Shrugging I brushed my skirt off, took up my books, and proceeded on to class.

"This better end soon, I aint lookin' to make a habit of this crap."

As per the vice-principal's words, we had only a half day of classes. Then we were freed to explore the school and get to know the various clubs. I'd just as soon have gone home myself, but that wasn't an option. Well, I could happily just find a quiet spot to be alone with Shampoo.

That had been the plan anyway.

No sooner had Principal Tanaka given some basics of club enrollment, and where we could find the stalls for all the various groups set up, then the hall had filled with the thunder of feet. Not our classmates letting out and hoarding up to socialize.

Oh no, we couldn't be that lucky.

I hadn't even had the chance to stand as the door was yanked open and representatives from every possible female athletic club gazed the room. They knew their targets and their missions. Eyes zeroed in and found the three of us in seconds.

"Akane! Hi, I'm Hana Watanabe, I'm friends with your sister. She told me you'd like to try for the gymnastics club!"

"Ranko. Shampoo. You've got to give the judo club a try!"

That kind of thing. The sheer crush of upper class girls trying to encourage us to attend and tryout for various groups spoke to the ridiculous number of such officially recognized activities in the school. We'd never get out of the room at this rate.

I really had no desire to repeat the hoarding we got yesterday. That was just our fellow classmates. Many, many more now filled the hallway outside. Eager to repeat the process. Fortunately the crush of humanity trying to get in, weighed against the students who had been trying to get out created a bottleneck which gave me a short moment to act.

"Ryoga, Shampoo, tactical retreat!"

They didn't need any further instruction or encouragement from me. Snatching their bags and quickly flying over desks for the window. I took hold of Akane's hand and pulled her up and then into a bridal carry.

"Ra-Ran-Ranko! Put me down, this is embarrassing!" She managed to squeak over her shock from the whole affair. Cheeks turning pink as I took her up in my arms. Even though she was an easy hundred and twenty, maybe twenty-five pounds with the extra muscle she carried. She was a pillow in my grip.

"Sorry 'kane, no time to do anything but run. I'll teach ya how to do this later." Easily using a desk as a springboard and following my two training partners.

"Teach me whaaa…!" Getting her answer just as we went out the windows on the other end of the class. Jumping from the third floor would be very foolish for most people. A leg shattering, potentially lethal bit of foolishness. Not really a concern for three of us. Akane could learn it quick enough. She just needed to learn how to tuck for a fall, and not be scared to death of jumping from such height.

The windows were open to let in a spring breeze, helping to further facilitate our escape. It was just a quick leap and then let gravity do what gravity did. People were staring at us as we landed. To their eyes we had come plopping out of the blue. Every possible window from the classroom had been filled with heads glancing down. Staring in shock at what we'd just done.

I touched down just behind Shampoo and Ryoga, who both took the land easily. Knees curled and they regained their feet as if nothing weird had happened. I set Akane gently on her feet once I had my own vertical base secure. A hand squeezed my shoulder and she leaned forward. The other hand pressing over her heart as she fought for breath.

Had startled her way more than I thought. A few settling breaths and she finally had her wits back. The hand on my shoulder suddenly tightened and squeezed right into a nerve. It was easy to forget just how much untapped power this girl had.

"Itai … " I muttered, gritting my teeth as her grip intensified and she took hold of my other shoulder. Eyes glancing to me with a mixture of both anger and panic. It wasn't enough to make me more than uncomfortable, but still, ouch!

"Ranma … never do that again." She growled, voice soft but full of her simmering fury. "What were you thinking pulling a stunt like that? What if you'd been hurt carrying me?"

My head tilted, even as my eyes were watering with the pain my nerves were complaining over. Her concern for my safety over herself was stupid, but also rather endearing. This girl was just too cute. Rather than fight her off or get mad in turn, I just clapped my hands onto both of her shoulders, much softer than I was being held.

"'kane, that really hurts." And not just her grip. "Do you really think I'd do something that'd put you at risk cause I just don't wanna deal with that gaggle of girls?" My expression firm as I looked into her eyes.

The spark of anger sputtered out and her grip went slack. Suddenly she was blushing again and she looked down at our toes. What she could see of them anyway. Hell, I couldn't see them if I didn't bend over far enough. Stupid curse.

"I'm sorry, that just really scared me. And I don't want any of you to get hurt. You're right though, it's easy to forget just how good you are."

The smile returned to my face and I just pulled her into a hug. She gasped and blushed again. I didn't squeeze her tight, I don't know how she'd take a marshmallow collision. Especially since it'd remind her just how much more 'gifted' I was in certain soft, squishy talents.

"Ah, com'ere you. I'm sorry too, didn't mean to startle ya, just had to make a quick exit. Don't worry, I promise I'll show you how to do that. Little bit'a practice and you'll be making those leaps with us."

We parted and I looked into her eyes, grin still on my face. "Now, to the matter at hand. We still gotta find somewhere and hide. So let's go already."

Her blush was still in place, but she grinned and nodded. I grabbed one of her hands, then Shampoo's. Akane snatched up Ryoga with her free limb and the four of us dashed off quickly. The poor Lost Boy was more drug in our wake, and he blushed furiously.

He was holding Akane's hand after all, but he didn't complain.

"Airen, no can leave school yet, where we hide from pushy sport girls?" Shampoo glanced over, not wanting to deal with this crap either. Also, she was grinning like the rest of us. Sure, it was annoying being bombarded by people we didn't want to deal with. Together, however, the four of us were having a good time making a chase of it.

"I dunno, I'm flyin' by the hem of my skirt here. Ryoga, pick a direction."

"What? What are you trying to pull Ranmmm … Ranko?" Even he was working on that thing with my name. I don't know if the four of us will ever get used to that. Would've just been easier to keep going by Ranma, even if it would have been convoluted and eventually weird.

"Look goof, you have a knack for gettin' lost in your own house."

"Hey, I do not!"

"Ryoga, we aint got time ta argue. Shut up, pick a direction, and let's get lost! It's just after noon, so we gotta put up with this for another three hours. The longer they can't find us, the less we gotta put up with it.

"Now pick a direction and start leadin!"

His expression soured at being commanded around, and reminding him of his most embarrassing flaw. Yet, he didn't bother to argue. By whatever silent consensus we had long since arrived at, I was the unofficial leader of our little quartet. As our friendship had developed, his protests had quieted significantly. I wasn't the bane of his existence anymore. The thing which caused all his suffering. So he just rolled with it, for the most part.

Taking a turn toward the school fence I just let him pull us along. Wasn't going to let us wind up off the school grounds and risk getting in trouble with my folks. I'm still confident he could get us hopelessly lost in our own school. Which wasn't even all that big once you got out of the main building.

Despite his protests to the contrary, I know for a fact Ryoga could easily get lost in his own house. Hell, he could get lost in own bedroom. I remember a day in middle school, one of the few peaceful ones we had. Studying for a test. I was more interested in Ms Hibiki's amazing onigiri, but that aside. I returned from the bathroom at one point to find Ryoga lost in his own closet.

He performed that ridiculous feat three more times in the space of the afternoon.

If there was one thing I was counting on to avoid another headache, it was Ryoga's power to run away from his problems. So I let him pull us along, with only minor correction to keep us on school property.

The escape plan worked almost too well. Following a path I still fail to totally recall, Ryoga had gotten us well lost.

In the gym equipment shed.

Of all the places, this would be the most ironic to wind up. Also the most unexpected. Right under their noses, in their very own storage closet.

We found a quiet corner behind a stack of safety mats no one was using at the moment. Plopped down and just kept ourselves entertained with stories, jokes, and anything else we could think of. Keeping our voices soft to go unheard.

The time flew by quicker than I thought it would. How wonderful the relative experience could be when you weren't really thinking about it. Seemed we'd just sat down to get comfortable when the bell rang signalling the end of school.

That sound could not have been sweeter. The moment we heard it, we were gone. Abandoning our hiding place full tilt and snatching our regular shoes like bandits. Then gone again and off toward the dojo before the sports clubs knew what hit them.

Doubtless they would try again, but for now we had escaped. I was going to have to wrack my brain for a solution to this mess. If I had to put up with a hoard of perverts every morning, then a gaggle of wanna be recruiters ever afternoon, well. I'm not really sure what I'd do.

Certainly snap in some manner.

Had enough crap to put up with as it was without school adding to it. For now I just held Shampoo's hand and kept moving with her back to the dojo. Today, we were in for a grueling training routine. Pop felt he had been the right to abuse me for too long, so it was time to set things straight.

Since Ryoga and Shampoo would not be left out, he had no choice but to give then something to do as well. And since we'd taken it upon ourselves to help Akane improve, my old man had one more student to work with.

More time and effort than he would ever want to manifest, but tough crackers. This was becoming an all or none group activity. Then a thought ran through me like a lightning bolt.

{Stupid! Why did I think of this before? Those two patriarchal numbskulls wanna join the schools? Then we combine them, derp. Akane and I master both. Then, we can both teach future students, if we wanna anyway.}

I could slap myself for not having thought that up sooner. I didn't know if becoming an instructor was anywhere on Akane's mind, but she was going to have to face a major choice anyway. She was serious as a martial artist, but to become like me or Shampoo. It wasn't a weekend warrior kind of commitment.

It was a lifestyle.

If she wanted to rise to our level. Then she was going to have to take on that kind of burden and give up a lot of her time being a normal, everyday teenager and walk a hard road. Glancing over to her, I ran that through my head.

{She's proud as a warrior, and stubborn, but she can take instruction when it's given to her properly. All the traits she needs. She just needs someone to lite the fire under butt to get her on the road. Ranma Saotome, you're just the man for the job.}

Thoughts in mind, I grinned and then turned my brain to the problem of our Hentai Hoard. A solution was formulating, and I'm pretty sure everyone would quickly agree to it.

Not like we had any other ideas to run with.

A/N: So here is the second part of the two part drop. This chapter just needed a minor rewrite in order to fit in with what I already had planned. I'll have to apologize for any bad grammar on my part. My normal beta reader has also become excessively busy with life and can't do much editing for me. The process is really slow when you don't have a second pair of eyes to examine things for you. I might go back and edit and reupload chapters as I go.

For now, hopefully this was a fun read.

Until next chapter.