Christmas Cheer

Part 2

Ranma Saotome's Christmas Carol

++++++++++++++++++

Somewhere outside Nerima, Dec. 23...

Ryoga Hibiki was lost, that in
itself wasn't unusual. Neither was his
destination, the Tendo Dojo. It was a
special time though; one he had no
intention of missing if he could help
it. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve, and he
had every intention of making it to the
Tendo's annual party. It was all Ranma's
fault he was lost, another normal
occurrence for the boy. Everything
seemed right with the world.

Tonight, something was stirring
though. An ancient force that was
planning on ramming it's way into Ranma
Saotome's life. Ryoga was oblivious to
this fact though, he simply wandered
onward. "Damn it, I've got to find the
Dojo before it's too late!" he muttered
to himself.

He never noticed the three figures
watching him from an alleyway nearby,
huddled together and speaking in harsh
whispers.

"Is this the one?" asked the skinny
looking shadow with a sort of cheer to
his voice.

The second voice was young and
female, she didn't have the same air of
nicety to her tone. In fact, she seemed
almost vindictive. "You've got to be
kidding!"

The third shadow was shrouded in
darkness and merely snorted, his arms
crossed over his chest in a sort of
disgusted pose.

"In any case, we should speak to
him," said the tall skinny shadow
calmly.

"Right," said the female as she
started to roll up her sleeves.

"Without hurting him," commented the
tall skinny shadow.

"You're taking all the fun out of
this job!" replied the female.

The other shadow merely sighed and
hung his head, shaking it for a moment.
He seemed about to speak when the skinny
shadow spoke up.

"He's almost here!"

Ryoga was approaching the alleyway
with his nose hidden within a map. He
was muttering to himself as he walked
and the shadows all pressed themselves
up against a wall, waiting on their
prey.

After about two minutes, the group
dared to peer around the corner. The boy
was gone, no trace of him could be seen
in the street any longer.

"What the?" muttered the female.

"Shit," said the third shadow under
his breath.

The tall shadow sighed and hung his
head. "I guess we should find him."

+++++++++++++++++++

Four hours later, on a street on the
opposite side of Tokyo....

Ryoga Hibiki frowned as he glanced
around at his surroundings. "Shinjuku,"
he muttered as he read a nearby sigh.
"Great! It's right around the next
corner! I'm sure of it!" He wandered off
in a random direction, passing by
several garbage cans. Unbeknownst to
him, a trio of figures laid in wait for
him. The tensed their bodies, ready to
pounce...

Only to emerge five minutes later
with frustrated frowns on their faces.

"Damn it! What is wrong with this
guy!?" cried the female in frustration.
"This is the seventh time he's done this
to us today!"

"Calm down! We're supposed to be all
quiet like!" said the skinny shadow with
his usual cheer.

"What are we supposed to do?"
growled the girl angrily as she grabbed
him by his shirt and pulled him down to
face her.

"How should I know?" whined the man
pathetically.

"We'll just have to try again," said
the third shadow calmly. His voice was
somewhat quiet and mysterious.

"Right!" agreed the others.

+++++++++++++++++++

Two hours later...

Ryoga Hibiki was walking along a
deserted road in the wilderness. His
frustration was clear as he continued to
wander aimlessly. Well, he had an aim,
but it might as well have been
aimlessly. He sighed and sat down on a
small boulder by the side of the road to
think about his problem. Naturally, he
became depressed as he sat there and
started to glow a sickly green.

"Damn you Ranma! For keeping me away
from Akane like this!" he muttered under
his breath. He paused as he noticed a
rustling in the bushes behind him and
blinked. "What the?"

Three sets of hands reached out and
grabbed him, pulling him into the brush.
He cried out in alarm and struggled. For
a moment, there was the clanking of
chains and a small scuffle. Finally it
ended and he glanced around in
confusion. "Where? Who? Damn you
Ranma!!!"

"Shut up," said a female voice.
"We've got a job for you..."

+++++++++++++++++++++

Tendo Dojo, Nerima Japan, Dec. 24...

Ranma Saotome was miserable. He
hated Christmas, the whole Christmas
Season! He paused and shook his head.
He'd tried everything to be rid of the
damned party. He'd even offered to pay
Nabiki to ensure that it wouldn't happen
again. Then there was the whole fiasco
last year, with him trying to steal the
whole party. That had failed miserably
as well.

Now he was stuck, the decorations
were up, and unmolested, thanks to the
diligence of the Tendo sisters. They'd
foiled his every attempt to stop the
party, or anything to do with the season
remarkably well. Damn that Kasumi, and
her stupid puppy dog eyes!

He growled miserably and hung his
head. It was coming and he knew it,
there was no way to get around it this
time. He was screwed, the noise, the
fiancees, the 'shudder' singing. His
life sucked, and now it was about to
take it's annual worst turn.

"Man, there's got to be something I
can do about this," he grumbled
irritably as he looked at the door to
his room and sighed.

Suddenly he blinked and stared at
the door. Ranma got an idea, it wasn't
as terrible or as awful as the last one,
but it was still an idea.

+++++++++++++++++++++

Kasumi blinked as she walked up the
stairs and heard the most pitiful sound
she'd ever heard in her life. It was a
low moaning sound, and sounded something
like someone was strangling a small dog.
She followed the noise curiously and
peered through the small crack left open
in the Saotome's room. "Ranma? Are you
feeling all right?"

A blast of frigid air blew out of
the room as she entered, she could see
her breath in front of her face and she
gasped. "Ranma?"

"Oh...hi Kasumi," muttered Ranma in
an over dramatic and rather sick looking
fashion. His features were pale, and
sunk in considerably. He coughed
unconvincingly and rolled onto his side
clutching his belly in the worst acting
he'd ever done in his life.

Kasumi frowned at this, but said
nothing. "Are you feeling all right?"

Ranma normally would have denied
anything, but he was doing his best to
act like he'd just eaten a huge helping
of Akane's beef stew. "I don't feel so
good Kasumi. I think I'm gonna miss the
party tonight."

Kasumi blinked at this, he almost
made it sound like he'd wanted to come.
She finally realized what had happened.
Ranma was trying to make it sound like
he wanted to come to the party, just to
make her feel better. It explained the
bad acting. It was nice to know he felt
so bad about it, even if he was glad
he'd gotten sick so he could miss it.
She sympathized with him on some level,
but he just looked so cute when the
others made him sing. She couldn't help
herself for finding it adorable.

"I guess I'll tell the others you're
not feeling well," muttered the girl as
she nodded at this.

"I think I'm going to get some
sleep, could you make sure no one
bothers me tonight. This looks like
it'll be really nasty this time." The
boy was almost giggling as he said this.
"Better tell Pop to sleep somewhere else
tonight. He don't wanna catch this,
believe me." He went into a fit of fake
sounding coughs and groaned miserably.

"O-okay Ranma. I'll tell them," said
the girl as she walked out of the room
and sighed.

Ranma sat upright, his sickness
vanishing in an instant. He had been
using the soul of ice, and had partially
engaged the Umisenken in order to make
himself look ghostly and pale. It had
worked beautifully. "Ha! I did it! Now
I'll have the whole night to myself
tomorrow!"

+++++++++++++++++++++

That night...

Japanese homes, in most cases, do
not have central heating. The Tendo
Dojo, being a traditional home, was no
exception.

Ranma Saotome blinked as he looked
up at the clock. It was getting close to
midnight, and he was having trouble
sleeping. He cursed under his breath and
glanced over at the small heater that
they used for the room during the
winter. It was completely iced over now,
his Soul of Ice had dropped the
temperature of the room below freezing,
and the outside air had kept it at that
temperature. Now the heater was frozen,
and he was stuck playing sick for the
whole night if he wanted to have his
night to himself tomorrow.

"I knew I was overdoing it," he
grumbled under his breath. "Stupid old
ghoul and her dumb ass technique." He
sighed and rolled onto his side,
noticing that his father's futon was
still unoccupied. Genma, being the man
that he was, had abandoned the room the
moment he'd found out about his son's
sickness. The old fart hadn't even come
to see if he was all right, it irked him
slightly, but he was used to it.

The clock struck midnight and the
boy glanced around at his room. He
wasn't sure why, but he thought
something should have happened just
then. With a small shrug, he rolled over
and drifted off to sleep.

++++++++++++++++++

One hour later...

"Ranma Saotome!"

"Wr? Grr, wry..."

"Ranma Saotome!!"

"Not now Pops, it's too early,"
muttered Ranma as he pulled his head
halfway up from the small pillow he was
now lying face down in.

"You jerk! Wake the hell up right
now!" cried the angry sounding female
voice as the shadow looming over him
stomped her feet in frustration.

"Uncute..." muttered Ranma as he put
his head back down into the pillow.

"Why you!" growled the woman as she
raised her hands above her head.
"EXPLOSION ARRAY!"

The floor underneath Ranma was blown
up through the roof, carrying him up
with it.

"Heh," chuckled the female as she
floated up through the gaping hole in
the roof after him and landed lightly
beside him. She glared at him with an
evil looking smirk on her face as he
fumbled around in a rather large dent in
the tiles where he had landed. "He
deserved it."

Ranma pulled his head out of the
roof and blinked. "What the? Who the
heck are you? Hey! You're me..." his
voice trailed off as his eyes wandered
down to her body. "Never mind, mine are
much bigger."

The girl blinked at him and seemed
to remember something. "You jerk! I'll
have you know mine are the perfect size
for a girl my height!"

"Yeah, if she's twelve," responded
Ranma lazily. "Look, whoever you are,
I'm going back to bed." He started
towards the hole she had made and was
about to jump down.

"Flare Arrow!" screamed the girl as
she promptly blasted him down into the
yard.

Ranma lay smoking in his impact
crater for a moment and simply stared at
the sky for the longest time. The girl
floated down beside him and looked him
dead in the eyes.

"You're not going anywhere till I'm
through with you, got it?" she snapped
with a smirk on her face.

Ranma slowly rose to his feet and
groaned in pain. "Old man...what the
heck have you done this time?" His eyes
searched the home for a moment, looking
for where his father might be sleeping.
"Another uncute fiancee? What is wrong
with you Pop? I'm so gonna kick your..."

"Worry about that later dope! I'm
one of the spirits!" snapped the girl as
she grabbed his arm and forcibly turned
him around to face her.

Ranma blinked at this. "Huh?
Spirits?"

"That's right! I am the Ghost of
Christmas Past! Lina Inverse! Sorceress
Supreme!" cried the girl a she pointed
her finger into the air and posed
dramatically.

"What? You're nuts," muttered Ranma
as he stared at her. "Look, being uncute
is bad enough, but there ain't no way
I'm marrying a crazy chick, no matter
what Pops promised you and your family."

Lina growled at this and clenched
her fist in frustration. "Why you..."

Ranma was on the ground with several
large lumps on his head within seconds.
Lina dusted off her hands and snorted.
"Jerk! I came here to help you out and
this is how ya treat me?"

"Help?" muttered Ranma lamely. "How
could an uncute chick like you
possibly..."

"Say it, and I'll blast you with a
fireball this time," replied Lina
calmly. "Look, you're obviously dumber
than we thought if you still haven't
figured it out by now. Just grab my cape
so we can get this over with."

Ranma, not being sure what else to
do, did as she asked. Within seconds, a
small whirlwind of snow enveloped them,
and the world around them vanished from
sight.

"Whoa!" cried Ranma as a whirl of
snow died suddenly and he found himself
standing in the wilderness. "Where the
heck are we?"

"Somewhere in Japan, around ten
years ago. It's your first Christmas
alone with your father."

Ranma blinked and looked into a
field nearby, where a younger looking
Genma was beating on a six-year-old him.
"Huh? What the?"

Lina blinked at this as it went on
for several minutes. "Oh come on! I've
only got an hour!" she muttered in
frustration.

Ranma blinked and stared at the
scene as it seemed to move in fast
forward. The scenery changed around them
in an instant about three times. All he
could see was his father, beating the
living hell out of a progressively older
him. Eventually, at the end of each
year, it would change to a scene of his
father cooking a small pot of rice
between them. Of course, the elder
Saotome ended up stealing more than half
of Ranma's portion each time, more if
the boy would let him get away with it.
In the end, these degraded into another
session of the father beating the living
tar out of the son. "Um. Why are we
doing this?"

"Every Christmas? What kind of jerk
is this guy?" growled Lina as she stared
at the scene in disbelief.

Finally, the scene stopped. Lina
seemed slightly relieved as she watched
the scene for a moment with Ranma. They
were in a forest of some kind, and Genma
was sitting across from his son by a
small campfire.

"Boy," said Genma gruffly.

"What's up Pop?" asked the ten year
old boy as he looked at his father.

"It's Christmas boy," said the old
man calmly. "You've never bought your
father a single thing for Christmas,
because you're an ungrateful son. Still,
I have taken it upon myself to...get you
a small gift. I expect better from you
boy! You'll get me something every year
from now on!"

The young Ranma nodded dumbly. "Okay
Pop."

Lina's jaw dropped like a rock.
"What the?"

"Hey...I remember this!" said Ranma
with tears of remembrance in his eyes.
"Gee Pop, I'd almost forgotten..."

"Wow! Five yen!" cried Ranma as he
pulled the small brown scrap of paper
away from the wrapped coin. "Thanks
Pop!"

Lina stared at the boy for a moment
and shook her head. "This is disgusting!
I can't deal with this." She fast
forwarded time, moving past the part
where Genma promptly beat the boy up for
wasting the paper he'd used to wrap the
gift.

She paused and simply stared in
disbelief at what happened a few hours
later.

Genma Saotome was kneeling over his
son's body with a wicked looking grin on
his face. He pried the coin from his
sleeping son's hand and snorted. "Really
boy, you've got no use for this. You
should be proud that your old man is
putting it to good use!" He nodded to
himself and glanced down at the small
town that could be seen in the distance.
"I'll just go for a quick drink, and be
back well before the boy is up."

Ranma's jaw was hanging now, an aura
of power burned around his body as he
glared at the scene angrily. "Old
man...I am so going to kick your ass
tomorrow!"

Lina chuckled nervously as she
slowly turned to look at the boy. "Um,
this isn't exactly the response this is
supposed to have on you... Um, maybe we
should...go now?" She waved her hands
and the scene changed once again. This
time he was standing in the middle of a
familiar party, in the Tendo Dojo.

"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH
HHHHHH!!! NOOOOOOO! I couldn't escape!"
cried the boy as he fell to his knees in
terror.

"Wait! They can't see or hear us!
Don't worry about it! We're just spirits
here!" said Lina. "Come on, there must
be something good about this!"

Ranma was simply staring at the
stage in horror. Akane, Shampoo, and
Nabiki were all standing on the stage in
front of the crowd. She had a dress on,
and was being forced to sing in front of
all of them. The boy appeared to be
having convulsions at this point.

Lina sweat and jumped into the air,
covering his vision with her cape.
"Look, I can see this isn't going to
work out with us. I'll just be on my way
now..." she backed away through the
window of the bedroom they had appeared
in and vanished from sight.

Ranma was in his futon, and the room
was undamaged. He sat up shaking with
terror and glanced around the room in
horror. "Was it a dream?" he muttered to
himself dumbly.

The door opened, and Kasumi Tendo
stuck her head in with a sleepy looking
worry on her face. "Ranma? Are you all
right?" she muttered lazily.

"I see dead people!" whispered the
boy fearfully from behind the sheets.

Kasumi blinked at this and pulled
her head back out of the room. She
frowned to herself and sighed. "Oh my! I
guess Ranma really isn't feeling well."
She shook her head and walked back into
her own room to go back to sleep. There
really wasn't anything she could do
about the problem at the moment. "I'll
have to call Dr. Tofu tomorrow."

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Nerima, Tendo Dojo, Two o'clock in
the morning...

Ranma opened the door to his
bedroom. He'd just had the strangest
dream of his entire life. For some odd
reason, he wanted to seriously hurt his
old man. He wasn't really sure why, but
a quick splash of warm water on his face
had done him a world of good. Well, that
and a good long piss. He felt much
better now, and resolved that he really
should beat the tar out of Genma
tomorrow. It was too early at the moment
to bother with it.

He opened his door and blinked. A
tall blonde man, in a long red coat was
sitting in the middle of a huge feast
that was now set up in the middle of his
room. He had a pair of round, gold
tinted sunglasses, and was smiling at
him cheerfully. He was munching on a
huge box of doughnuts that rested in his
lap and waved cheerfully. "Herrro!" he
muttered through a mouthful of food.

Ranma promptly closed his door and
turned away from the scene. "Okay, that
was weird." He stood that way for a
moment, and knowing he'd regret it, he
slowly opened the door and peered
inside. A huge hand reached out and
grabbed him, pulling into his room and
held him above the floor.

Ranma grit his teeth and lashed out
with a kick. The tall man merely moved
his head and dodged the strike. After
Ranma grit his teeth and kicked his feet
at the man repeatedly.

"Scary!" cried the mean in terror as he
flinched and dodged around the strikes
while still holding the boy above the
ground. After several moments of this
pathetic display, the man dropped him on
the ground and looked at him with tear
filled eyes. "Could you please stop
that? I really don't like violence!"

Ranma stared at the man for a moment and
dusted himself off. "No way! There's no
way he did that by accident!"

The man ignored this and extended
his hand. "Hello, my name is Vash. I'm
the Ghost of Christmas Present! Nice to
meet you!"

The pigtailed boy stared at him for
a moment and said nothing. He then
turned too look at the hand for a moment
and then back up at the man's face.
"You're the Ghost of Christmas
Presents?"

"Huh? No, Christmas Present," said
the man with a small bead of sweat
forming on his brow.

"Why do presents have ghosts? Did
you die when someone unwrapped you or
somethin?" said the boy dumbly.

"No, I'm the second ghost," replied
Vash nervously. "I've come to show you
some things about Christmas..."

"Might as well get this over with,"
said Ranma as he shrugged his shoulders
and sighed. "This night is about as
weird as it's gonna get."

"That wasn't a very nice thing to
say," said Vash with a slightly false
looking frown on his face.

"Whatever. Can we just go?"

Vash shrugged and smiled cheerfully.
The pair vanished in a flash of light.

+++++++++++++++++

Ranma looked around, there was snow
everywhere, and they were standing
outside in the early daytime. He
instantly recognized the Tendo dojo.

"That dolt, is he still sleeping?"
grumbled Akane as she walked by the
window and glared at the door to his
room.

"Now Akane, Ranma isn't feeling well
today. I saw him, and he's honestly
sick," replied Kasumi with a slight
frown.

Akane's face fell at this slightly.
"Oh. I guess I should do something for
him. I know! I'll make him a big bowl of
chicken soup!" cried the girl as she
flexed her arm.

"Um, we don't have the things we
need to..." started Kasumi. She was
hoping to avert disaster. It would take
Ranma much longer to recover if she made
him something to eat to feel better, and
she knew it.

"Don't worry, I'm sure I can
improvise!" said Akane cheerfully as she
waltzed into the kitchen.

"Oh crap!" cried Ranma fearfully.

Vash blinked. "Sounds like a nice
thing to do to me."

"You've never had Akane's cooking!"
cried Ranma with tears forming in his
eyes. "I'm doomed for sure!"

"Well, it was a nice gesture
anyway," replied the man as he looked
back at the girl as she started to pull
out pots and pans. Naturally, she chose
the largest she could find.

"Man, this sucks!" muttered Ranma as
he stared at the ground.

Nabiki walked into the room and saw
her sister at the stove. "What? What's
she doing in here?" she hissed as she
pulled Kasumi aside.

"I'm sorry! She's going to make some
soup for Ranma, to make him feel
better!" pleaded the older girl
fearfully.

"It can't be all that bad," muttered
Vash as he pat Ranma on the shoulder.

Akane dumped a large box of rat
poison into the pot and added some
water. "There, that should be a good
base for the soup! Now, to find some
chicken!" She turned and rooted through
the refrigerator, not finding any
inside. She shrugged her shoulder and
pulled out a large box of eggs. "I guess
this will do as a substitute. These are
chicken eggs after all..."

Nabiki walked out of the kitchen
with a scowl on her face. "That stupid
Ranma! Akane never cooked this much
before he came around!" She moved over
to the phone and smirked. Picking it up,
she began to dial a number. "Hello!
Shampoo? Great! I've got some
information for you." She paused for a
moment and smiled. "The usual rates. How
would you like some time alone with
Ranma tonight?"

The pigtailed boy blanched and hung
his head even lower.

"Well, I guess we should move on
then," said Vash quickly. The pair
vanished in a flash of light once again.

++++++++++++++++++

The Cat Cafe was quiet. They were
still closed, but the pair appeared
inside the kitchen and happened upon a
small scene.

Cologne was cheerfully standing in
front of a stove, cooking Ramen for the
party that would take place later that
evening. "Have you got a special
surprise in store for the Son in law
this evening, Shampoo?"

The bubbly Amazon girl bounced into
the kitchen with a cheerful smile on her
face. "Yes Great Grandmother! Shampoo
have just the thing!" She pulled out a
small amulet and a small packet of
powder. "Spell say, powder make obey
single command of one who wear amulet!
Shampoo get kiss from Ranma for sure
this time!"

Cologne sighed. Her great
granddaughter never learned. She could
simply command him to marry her, but she
needed to learn these things on her own.
She put up a cheerful smile and nodded
her approval. "Good luck then."

Shampoo bounced out of the room
cheerfully, she would make the Ramen for
the spell later that evening, so it was
nice and hot for her beloved.

Mousse quacked angrily from his
cage. He struggled against the bars with
a rage burning in his eyes. "Damn that
Saotome! I must stop this! If I can get
my hands on that amulet, I'll finally be
able to defeat him! Don't worry Shampoo!
I'll fend off that villain for you!"

Of course, this rant was nothing
more than loud quacking to anyone else
in the room, but for some reason, Ranma
understood it.

"Great. I can tell this is going to
be a fun night," he muttered under his
breath.

Vash wasn't sure what to say, and
merely made them vanish again.

+++++++++++++++++++++

At the Ucchan, Ukyo Kuonji smiled to
herself as she flipped over another
Okonomiyaki for that evening. It was
getting close to time, and she had to be
ready.

Konatsu peered at her nervously with
a slight frown on her face. "Are you
sure about this Ukyo-sama? I mean, the
sleeping powder might react kind of
funny to the sauce."

"You worry too much," said the girl
cheerfully. "All I've got to do, is
pretend to be nice and get those other
hussies to eat some of my special
Okonomiyaki! Then I'll have Ranchan all
to myself tonight!" She smirked as she
sprinkled a bit of the powder onto the
confection. "It's a perfect plan."

"Are you sure these people are your
friends?" asked Vash as he turned to
look at the boy next to him.

"Sorta," replied Ranma with a
slightly tired looking frown on his
face.

The man shrugged and they vanished
again.

"One more shot!"

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

It was the dojo. Ranma glanced
around at the decorations and frowned.
The crowd was waiting around in the
darkness, and a spotlight hit the stage.
He choked as soon as he saw the leg
emerge from behind the curtain.

Catcalls and whistles filled the
crowd as his female form emerged and
smiled at the crowd seductively. She
held a microphone in her hands and had a
slightly drugged and dazed look in her
eyes. She was wearing a skintight dress
that sparkled with sequence.

Nabiki was standing nearby with a
smirk on her face and a camera in her
hand.

Ranma saw himself start to sing and
closed his eyes to block out the scene
as best he could.

"The French are glad to die for
love, they delight in fighting duels!
But I prefer a man who lives, and gives
expensive jewels!" she crooned into the
mike.

The music started and Ranma chan
began to sing rather passionately.
Tatewaki Kuno was standing beside the
male spirit him and was taking down
notes. "At last! I have discovered the
way into my pigtailed goddess's heart!"

"A kiss on the hand may be, quite
continental, but diamonds are a girls
best friend!" sang Ranma as she swayed
slightly. She still managed to make her
stagger seem pretty sexy though as the
song went on. "A kiss may be grand, but
it won't pay the rental, on your humble
flat, or help you feed your, mmm,
pussycat!"

"Take me away! Right now!" cried the
male Ranma in terror.

Vash sighed and hung his head in
defeat. "Oh well. I tried," he muttered
as they vanished in another flash of
light.

Right about that time, Ranma-chan's
dress hit the floor, and she continued
the song in the nude. A gasp of awe
could be heard through the crowd, and
several battle aura's came to life back
stage.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++

Ranma woke up in bed again, feeling
no worse and no better than before. Vash
was still there, staring at him dumbly.

"Hey. Could you do this again next
year? It's kind of nice getting a heads
up on things," said the boy as he peered
at the man.

"Sorry, this is kind of a one time
thing," replied Vash as he started to
fade away.

"Oh well. I guess it's nice enough
to have it this one time."

++++++++++++++++++++++

Three o'clock, Tendo Dojo....

Ranma frowned as he looked up at the
clock. "I guess it's over. Stupid
spirits. Keeping me up this late!" He
rolled over onto his side and closed his
eyes.

His slumber was disturbed as a huge
explosion rocked the wall that led
outside. Ranma groaned in irritation and
sat up. His eyes went wide at what he
saw.

A huge man with bulging muscles and
a serious looking scowl on his face was
staring him down with deep blue eyes. He
was floating above the ground and his
golden hair was standing on end as he
glared at the boy lying on his futon in
front of him. "Looks like it's up to
me," he commented calmly.

"Whoa!" said Ranma as he simply
stared at the man for a moment.

The man's golden aura faded away,
his hair fell down around his body and
he shrank visibly. "Ah, you must be
Ranma."

The boy sputtered as he stood up on
his feet with a huge grin on his face.
"You've got to teach me that technique!"

The man blinked at this and saw the
boy absolutely hopping up and down with
joy. He sighed and rolled his eyes.
"Sorry, it's genetic. You can't learn
it, you're human."

"Huh? What are you then?" muttered
Ranma dumbly as his face fell into
visible disappointment.

"My name is Trunks, and I'm the
Ghost of Christmas Future," replied the
man calmly.

"Oh man. Another one?" grumbled
Ranma as he hung his head.

"I'm the last one," growled Trunks.
"You will learn something this time. I
won't fail!"

Ranma jumped back from the man's
tone and blinked. "Um...okay." He could
feel the power radiating from the man's
body, even in this form he was far too
powerful. Not even Saffron could match
him.

Trunks grunted and grabbed him by
his neck. The next thing he knew, he was
flying through the air as the man
casually tossed him into the air and out
of the home.

When he landed he slammed into the
ground. Curiously enough, despite the
snow, the ground was rather soft. He
blinked and looked up. He was looking at
a tomb stone. "What the?" His voice was
quiet and low. He stood up fearfully and
gasped. "This is...!" He was in the
middle of a cemetery, standing on a
freshly dug grave.

Carefully, he reached out and
brushed the snow away so he could read
the name. "E. Scrooge?" he muttered in
confusion. "Who the heck is this guy?"

"No one for you to worry about,"
said Trunks as he rolled his eyes.
"We're going this way. I threw you too
far by accident." He jerked his thumb
over his shoulder and Ranma shrugged.

++++++++++++++++++

The boy found himself standing in
front of a familiar dojo. "Hey! This
is..."

"The Tendo Dojo, ten years in the
future," agreed Trunks as he narrowed
his eyes at the scene.

A young girl walked out of the home
with a frown on her face. "What's wrong
with that old man?" she grumbled. She
appeared to be about seven, and had
short cut black hair.

"I'm not sure," said the woman who
followed her out and knelt down beside
her. "He's been like this as long as
I've known him. I'm not sure why he
doesn't like Christmas." The woman
frowned at her daughter and sighed.
"Don't worry dear. He'll be back to
normal soon enough."

"I hate it when he does this! He
always pretends to be sick! The jerk!"
muttered the girl as she started to cry.

"Who is that?" said Ranma dumbly.

"Figure it out dolt," grumbled
Trunks.

Ranma shrugged and walked over to
the scene. "She seems so sad!"

"She misses her father," replied
Trunks.

Ranma gasped and stared at the woman
who was kneeling beside the girl.
"Akane!" He staggered back and fell on
his butt in the snow.

"Yes. Figured it out yet?" snorted
Trunks.

"This little girl! She's Akane's
daughter?" said the boy as he peered at
her. He could see it easily.

"That's right," said Trunks.

"I'm sorry dear. He's just...I'm
sorry. Don't worry, your friends will
all be here for the party tonight. I'm
sure you'll never miss him!"

"I will! That old fart! I hate his
guts!" snapped the girl as she rushed
into the dojo with tears in her eyes.

"Damn. That bastard! Doesn't he even
realize? Is he this selfish?" muttered
Akane under her breath as she walked
back into the home. Maybe some time
alone would do her some good.

Ranma's aura was burning. "That
BASTARD!" he screamed in anger. "How
could he do this? I won't forgive him!"

Trunks blinked and stared at him for
a moment. "What?"

"Ryoga! How dare you do this to your
family! I'll get you for this! Stupid
lost boy!" cried Ranma in anger. "I
won't forgive you!"

Trunks smacked himself in the
forehead. "You dope!"

Ranma burned with rage and righteous
fury. "I'll set him straight!"

"Come on loser!" snapped Trunks. He
hefted Ranma up by his shirt and tossed
him through the air again.

+++++++++++++++++++++++

Ten years later than that...

"Pop. When are we gonna go back and
see Mom and..." started the young boy
with a ponytail that followed behind
Genma Saotome.

"Huh?" said Ranma in confusion as he
stared at the scene. Something wasn't
right though. He thought about it for a
long time and came up with nothing.

"I'm not welcome there anymore boy!
Now quit complaining, and come on! We've
got training to do!" snapped Genma
irritably.

"But Pop...It's Christmas! Shouldn't
we take a break or something?"
complained the young Ranma.

"Christmas! Boy! This is just
another day! Just like any other! We've
got training to do! I don't want to hear
you whine about this any more!" snapped
the man angrily.

"Sorry Pop," grumbled Ranma
sullenly. He followed after his father
with his head hung low.

"That bastard! He's worse than I
thought! Damn you old man!" growled
Ranma as he clenched his fists in anger.
"I don't remember this, but I am going
to beat the crap out of you when I get
home for sure this time!"

Trunks shook his head. Was this boy
really that stupid? He decided to wait
it out a little more.

"Damn woman. I hate this day. It's
because of this damn Christmas that I'm
not welcome in my own home anymore!
Useless Tomboy! That brat...I still
don't understand why my own daughter
hates me." He hung his head and sighed
as he whispered this. His son never
noticed it, but Ranma and Trunks heard
it as clearly as if he'd been yelling.

Ranma blinked at this. "Hey. I ain't
got no stupid sister! The old man has
snapped!" he said dumbly. After a
moment, he realized what was different.
"Hey. Pop grew his hair back!"

Trunks was beating his head against
a poor tree, smashing it quite nicely
into splinters. "Idiot!"

"That jerk! He's been shaving his
head all these years! He tried to steal
that dragon's whisker from me anyway?!!"
His aura burned again and he growled
angrily. "Prepare to die old man!"

Trunks finally had enough and lifted
Ranma by his collar. "How can you be
this thickheaded?" He tossed him into
the air again and the boy flew through
the air.

++++++++++++++++

When he landed, he found himself in
a different scene than even he had
expected. It was a hospital room. "What
the?"

He glanced around and found an old
man lying in a bed. The man was
strangely familiar to him and he gasped.
"Hey. Pop?" He blinked and peered at the
fragile looking old geezer lying on the
sheets. "No way!"

Trunks snorted. "You have not seen
your father, the entire time I've been
with you," he replied coolly.

Ranma blinked and stared at him.
"What do you mean? I..."

An old woman walked into the room.
She scowled at the man lying on the
sheets with disgust and hatred. "You
old fart. It's about time you keeled
over!"

The man chuckled and smiled at her.
"Daughter. It's been so long. Come to
see your old man off to the next world
have you?"

"I've hated you for almost two
hundred years old man!" she snarled.
"I've come to make sure you go to hell
where you belong!"

The old man shook his head and
sighed. "I wish I had been a better
father to you..."

"You abandoned my mother! You stole
my brother away from me, took him off
for ten years! When he returned, he was
as bad as you are!"

The old man sighed. "I never
abandoned you. Your mother threw me out.
It was on Christmas, over two hundred
years ago."

The woman gasped. "No! It isn't
true!"

"Yes. I became unwelcome in my own
home. A shame really..." He gave a
humorless chuckle and sighed again. "I
believe it was something along the lines
of 'I won't allow you to do this too our
daughter! It's bad enough that you hate
this day, but you're driving her further
and further away.' She said this too me,
and I left with your brother. I had
hoped he would carry on our school. He
did, and the Saotome name lives on
through him."

"Bastard!" snapped the girl as she
growled at him. "I..."

"I am not blameless, but I will die
in peace. You know the truth now." He
sighed and put his head back to rest.

The old woman burst into tears and
rushed out of the room. Before she left,
she turned to glare at him. "Ranma
Saotome, I never have been, nor will I
ever be your daughter!"

The old man let out a humorless
laugh and closed his eyes to sleep.
After she had gone, a single tear ran
down his cheek. "And now...my failure is
complete. Forgive me...Akane..."

Trunks was smiling maliciously as he
watched Ranma simply stare at the old
man as he lay there dying. "No! It can't
be!"

"The truth hurts?" said Trunks as he
crossed his arms and frowned at him.

"There's no way I marry that uncute
tomboy!" cried Ranma in horror.

Trunks growled angrily, his aura
flaring to life around him. "Of all the
stubborn, ignorant..."

Ranma was oddly silent as he stood
looking down at the old man. "How? How
did this happen to me? Where did I go
wrong?"

The Saiyan's anger abated as he
realized that Ranma wasn't speaking of
Akane. His features were serious as he
looked down at himself for a long
moment.

"Don't you realize?"

The boy looked up at him, his eyes
full of confusion.

"These people are your family. They
care about you, they want to be with you
in times of joy. You've pushed them all
away, in time, it will consume you. Once
they're gone, it's forever. So what if
they make you uncomfortable, or a little
miserable? They're doing it to be with
you, and you'll regret it if you don't
let them. Believe me, I know." The man
hung his head and sighed. "Think about
what I've said."

Ranma simply stared at him for a
long time. He seemed to zone out, and
the world became blurry. After a long
moment, it cleared away and he found
himself staring out the window into
Nerima. He was home again.

"I'm back?" he muttered quietly.

Spinning around he gasped at his
surroundings. Aside from a slightly
messy futon, the room was unchanged. A
huge grin spread across his face.
"I'm..."

A clanking filled the room and he
spun around. Ryoga Hibiki was climbing
through the window. He was covered in
heavy chains and glared at Ranma
angrily. "Ranma!"

"Ryoga?" muttered the boy dumbly.

"I've found you at last! Prepare to
die!" cried Ryoga as he staggered
forward. The lost boy was exhausted and
fell face first onto the ground.

"What the heck happened to you?"
muttered Ranma as he kneeled down and
poked the boy.

"I have a message for you Saotome!"
muttered Ryoga. "You will be visited
tonight! By three spirits! Listen well
to what they..."

"You dope! They've already been
here!" snapped Ranma angrily.

Ryoga blinked and looked up at him.
"Oh. Never mind then." He promptly
passed out.

Ranma cracked his knuckles and
tossed him out the window of the room
and into the yard. "Dope."

+++++++++++++++++++++++

"Oh my!" cried Kasumi.

Ranma was walking down the stairs
with a huge grin on his face. "Hey
Kasumi! I feel great!"

"Ranma?" muttered Akane as she
stared up at him dumbly.

"Yeah! It's a great day!" said the
boy cheerfully as he got to the bottom
of the stairs and beamed at them.

"Boy! What are you doing?" cried
Genma as he pulled his dogi over his
mouth as his son neared.

"What's the matter with you?" said
Ranma as he peered at him for a moment.

"Are you sure you're feeling all
right?" asked Kasumi as she walked up to
him carefully.

"Sure! I felt pretty bad last night,
but these Ghosts came to me! I feel much
better now!"

"Ghosts?" said Akane as she stared
at him as if he'd grown a second head.

"Yeah. Ghosts of Christmas presents
or something,"

Nabiki was staring at him now as
well. "Well what do you know? He really
is sick." She blinked at this and
sighed. "So much for that plan."

"Oh my!" muttered Kasumi as she
started to usher him back up the stairs.

"Hey! What the heck are you doing?"
asked Ranma as he was shoved back into
his room.

"You need your rest!" said Kasumi
firmly.

"But..."

"I am not going to catch whatever it
is that you have," said Nabiki in
disgust as she pulled her shirt up over
her mouth and nose.

"I guess we'll have to keep him in
here tonight," said Kasumi with a small
sigh.

"Hey! I'm fine!" snapped Ranma.

"It's a shame. Dr. Tofu doesn't get
back until tomorrow," said Kasumi with a
small sigh. "Seems he went to see his
mother for the holiday."

Ranma blinked at this. "But..."

The two girls closed the door on him
and he stared at it for a long time.
"But..."

+++++++++++++++++++++++

That night, Ranma Saotome looked out
his window at the party in the dojo and
sighed. He was backed in the corner with
a wooden training sword in his hands to
drive back the attacks of whatever was
in that bowl Akane had brought up with
her. It was still hiding in the shadows,
and ensured he wouldn't get any sleep
that night.

He sighed and hung his head with
tears in his eyes as he sat on top of
the still frozen heater. "Stupid
Christmas."

Fortunately, there wasn't much heat
in that statement and he looked out the
window at the dojo again. There was
always next year after all.

++++++++++++++++++++++

THE END