See Chapter 1 for Disclaimer
A/N – Major computer problems lead to this short chapter. Now updated and cleaned up a bit. More A/N afterwards so as not to spoil anything. Yes I did lose 10 pages including the Ryouga fight, Pluto talking to Pluto and the revealing of Ranma's plan to break with Nerima and let the others retain some of their honor. Will try to work on it, but since I'm having trouble with my various computer's saving to floppy it may take a while as I can only save to HD when at home.
Now FFN won't let me replace Ch. 12 with this edited version - this is attempt #5 to do so. It's also cutting off words and removing my space-breaks.
Forever the Tomboy Ch. 12 -
Talking Things Over
"When will he be finished healing Washu-chan?" Ranma asked her companion softly.
"If you guys healed at the normal human pace I would say not until tomorrow, late tomorrow, " Washu answered, her eyes flickering from the holographic computer screen to the other red-haired occupant of her lab. "However, if he heals at anything like the same rate that you did I would say that he'll be finished healing in an hour or two.
Washu paused before continuing. "You were hurt quite a bit more than he was. You had several broken bones, in addition to a lot of beating and bruising, all he is suffering from is a severe depletion of his life force."
"I see," Ranma answered, absently stroking the crystal tube that held her long time rival and one-time friend. "Good, he and I are going to "talk" once he gets out."
Despite her long years of life, and the fact that those long years had let her observe many things, Washu shivered at the cold, impersonal tone of the words.
"I see …" Washu answered, though the statement didn't really call for an answer. "Should I keep the regeneration tube ready for him?" Washu tried to keep her voice light and carefree but was only partially successful.
Washu watched as Michiru nodded absently, still studying the boy held within. Though the younger woman's gaze was steady, indeed almost implacable, Washu wasn't sure just what the girl was actually seeing. She might be seeing the boy she was going to face very soon, but it appeared more likely that Michiru's thoughts were elsewhere. Michiru's pretty face was pulled into a light frown, an expression that made her look unbearably cute … or would have if it were not for the hard icy expression conveyed by her clear blue eyes.
Ranma was indeed lost in her thought. "Why now?" she asked herself. Why did the baka have to show up now? One day, I only had to be "Ranma" for one lousy day and he had to show up."
With a sigh she considered her options. The lost boy presented a problem, one she had hoped to avoid dealing with. There was no doubt that Ryouga's knowledge that Ranma was around was a threat to her new life, and if there was one thing she had learned during her new lives it was that problems ignored didn't go away. No, they usually took the time offered and grew into even larger problems later sinking their roots even deeper into the soil. Sometimes she wondered if Kami-sama enjoyed making her life hell. If she had known Ryouga was coming she'd have been more prepared.
Ranma knew that things were coming to a head and she also knew with the awful certainty of near despair that her life was going to change as a result. The question before her now was whether the changes would be good ones, or if the life she had grown to love was over.
One thing she knew, if her life as Michiru was over, she was going to make the one responsible pay … and pay dearly.
One by one Ranma considered her options on how to deal with the "Lost Boy," … and while each had merit there were also disadvantages to each as well. The disadvantages mainly dealt with how her family would respond if and/or when they discovered her actions. If only Ryouga hadn't come, if only he hadn't seen her … or if he hadn't recognized her.
Ranma's eyes narrowed as she considered another option. She wasn't really prepared to carry it out right now, but she could be. All that it would take was a little time, and time was something she had … or could have plenty of. There were risks involved of course, potentially major risks, but the payoff would be well worth it. Ryouga's mere presence required her to deal with him before she was ready. To do nothing was to allow the pig to ruin the plans she had so carefully made to deal with the remnants of her old life as Ranma. Plans that might allow the others to escape that bonds of honor that had once squeezed her until she couldn't breath … couldn't live. That couldn't …no wasn't going to be allowed.
Washu watched as her companion considered her options, and caught the subtle shifting of expression that indicated a decision had been made. What that decision was she didn't know, but would undoubtedly find out after the boy was realeased.
To most the mask that Michiru habitually wore would have been perfect. Her face revealed little, very little of what lurked underneath. Washu however wasn't "most people." No the self-proclaimed "Greatest Scientist in the Universe" was far from the usual watcher. She hadn't lived thousands of years without being able to read people. It was a gift, not one that she used all that often, but one that she possessed none-the-less. Right now that "gift" was telling her that Michiru was up to something, that the girl had come to a decision, Washu only hoped that it was one that the girl could live with.
"Washu, if its going to be a while before he's done why don't we go rescue my daughter from her grandmother," Ranma stated with the beginnings of a true smile lighting up her face.
"She may need saving," Washu agreed. "I've never seen someone quite so "taken" with a grandchild as your mother. Once she grabbed on I wasn't sure that she was going to quit hugging Hotaru until the poor girl started turning blue."
Washu literally giggled as she compared the "glomping" styles of Nodoka and Misaki. One thing was sure… both were experts at their craft as the ribs of their victims could well attest.
Ranma giggled as well, allowing the relief and joy that Nodoka's reaction to Hotaru had created to momentarily displace her worries. Ranma had known that her mama would love Hotaru, but knowing in your mind and seeing with you eyes were two completely different things. Nodoka's reaction to finally meeting Hotaru had been all that she had hoped for and more. Ranma's giggles morphed into full-blown laughter she recalled just how overwhelmed poor Hotaru had been at the tsunami of love that had washed over and completely enveloped the girl. It seemed as if Nodoka's only goal right now was to make up for the two years of Hotaru's life that she had missed out on … and she had literally dragged the poor girl off so that she could "get to know her granddaughter."
The pair of redheads giggled once more before leaving the lab for the comforts of the Masaki living room.
"Finally," Ranma breathed with more than a little relief.
She was enjoying the time she was spending with Ten-chan and his new "family". She definitely loved seeing Sensei Masaki again as well, but she had things to do. They spent much of the afternoon talking and getting to know one another again, and getting to know the "girls" for the first time. It had been wonderful. She had to stifle a giggle as she remembered the teasing she had subjected Tenchi and "his girls" to. Ranma couldn't remember the last time she had been able to be so open with anyone other than her "family". True she was able to have fun with Kasumi and Nabiki too, but in the last two years those occasions had been as rare as Nabiki giving away free information …it happened, but not often). It had been just to much of a risk to visit them after Ranma had returned from China the "first time" and the circus in Nerima had gone into full swing.
True some topics were still not up for discussion that afternoon. The Masaki's weren't yet ready to talk about Funaho for one, but even there Ranma could tell the others were not so much trying to hide something as they were trying to decide when and how to let Michiru and Nodoka in on the "secret".
Both of the former Saotomes had their suspicions, as to what the secret actually was, after all they were both Masters at reading ki. But both were too polite to push the matter … at least for now. Ranma had to choke back a giggle at that thought. Polite was one term that many wouldn't ever think would apply to "him".
She hadn't been able to get any time alone until after dinner though "dinner" was hardly an adequate term to describe the feast that little Sasami had prepared. Ranma shook her head as she recalled the spread Sasami had laid before them. Ranma knew that she was an excellent chef, but the blue-tressed girl with twin ponytails had put even her best efforts to shame. Still, the large meal had provided her with an excuse to be alone. She had simply stated that she was going for a walk to work off the meal. It hadn't been easy to turn down Hotaru's offer to go with her, nor that of her mother, but she had simply told both that she needed some time to think. Thankfully both understood, (Nodoka perhaps a bit more than Hotaru) and neither pushed the issue.
It was clear that her daughter really wanted to talk more about the revelation of her "manhood" and equally certain that her daughter only accepted the information grudgingly and with much trepidation. Probably the most telling reason for her acceptance was that it was Washu who had forced the truth from her, and her obvious reluctance to admit that truth. Well that and she was familiar with the Starlights, so the idea wasn't quite completely foreign to her, though the circumstances here were actually quite different.
Finally alone, and sighing with relief and a bit of fear Ranma reached into "stuff space" and pulled out an old and somewhat battered mirror. Smiling nervously, Ranma noted that there was no sign that the mirror had ever been broken. During the long years that she had possessed the Nanban Mirror it had "healed" itself and was once again whole. Ranma supposed it was part of the mirror's original array of spells. After all mirrors were fragile things and in order for it to survive the millennia as it had, a self-repair enchantment only made sense.
Ranma eyed the mirror with a mix of affection and apprehension. Despite how long she had possessed it, it didn't "feel" like it was hers, at least not like the Neptune Mirror did anyway. When she used the Neptune Mirror she felt … complete, the same was definitely NOT true of the Nanban Mirror.
Every time she used the Nanban Mirror it was with cautious respect, handling it gave her the shivers, it was a feeling akin to handling a poisonous snake … pretty safe when care was taken, but with the element of danger ever-present. All it would take to spell ruin was a single mistake, a single moment of carelessness.
The feeling of trepidation was even more pronounced after she had discovered her "true" self, discovered that she was a Senshi. Setsuna … or rather Sailor Pluto, had hammered it into all their heads (every chance she got, Michiru admitted wryly) that time was nothing to fool around with. Ranma was just thankful that even before Pluto's rather emphatic teachings were delivered she had already made her own decision regarding the mirror and it's use. Despite a temptation that had been nearly overwhelming, she had been smart enough to avoid interfering with "Ranma's" past, and had instead simply "added" to it. Nearly as difficult was the decision to limit her time travel. It had been so tempting to use it to meet the Masters of Legend. As much as she loved and respected Sensei Masaki, the temptation to meet the Battousai and perhaps learn from him had been nearly irresistible … but only nearly.
The mirror had been his "death" and her salvation, but it was not a toy and definitely not something to use lightly. Even now she took a moment to consider her options. Resting her back against Funaho's broad trunk she relaxed and thought about her plan to deal with
Ranma relaxed under the broad branched of the tree. For some reason she had always felt comfortable … had felt acceptance and love under the Masaki Shrines Holy Tree. The tree was like an old friend. Sometimes she even imagined she "felt" love from the tree and could swear that she almost "heard" it talking to her, and her dreams when she occasionally napped here would make a great sci-fi movie.
Ranma's eyes snapped open as a snippet of dream arose from the depths of her memory … she had a dream of the Masaki Demon … and the demon looked just like Ryoko. Cataloging the information, … if her memory of a dream could be trusted, Ranma pushed it to the back of her mind. While her tenure as a Senshi had made her realize that dreams were often important, she had other fish to fry right now. That mysteries of Ryoko and Funaho would just have to wait.
Sighing, Ranma took the brief moment of peace to think though her plan again. A few moments later she breathed out a soft echo of the first sigh. The idea that had come to her in Washu's lab still seemed like her best option. She hoped she wouldn't have to go through with it. Even though it was probably the best way to prevent Ryouga from ruining everything she had worked so hard to achieve she was still troubled by her plan. It didn't seem right to play with some-ones identity that way … but it DID seem like the best option under the circumstances.
Thinking about what she would lose if Ryouga revealed what he had seen today she allowed a single tear to drip onto the mirror's reflective surface and with that tear and a thought she was gone.
"What the HELL!" a startled Washu yelped as alarms rang throughout her lab their strident warning notes breaking though her reverie.
The scientist had been reviewing the data she had on their three guests … and their two prisoners. It was fascinating to say the least. Nodoka and Michiru radiated power like a blast furnace … or perhaps a better analogy would be like a fusion reactor. In terms of raw power they couldn't hold a candle to the Lighthawk Wings, but even so Ranma was Yosho's equal, and would likely surpass him sometime soon … and her control over her power was nothing short of amazing. Washu wasn't sure just how much of a boost a Senshi transformation would provide, but the little genius hoped she would find out. Nodoka's power was considerably less, but still the woman held more raw power than most Jurians, even those of noble blood.
What was truly interesting was that their energy was a mix of Jurian energy and some unknown type. It seemed that Nodoka and Michiru were nearly of "pure" Jurian blood, or at least the readings indicated such. The odds of that happening with the limited number of colonists and emigrants to Earth were slim, yet it had happened.
Washu suspected that the Jurian survivors from the Moon Kingdom's fall must have entered into agreements among their clans to intermarry regularly. Undoubtedly the reason for the close alliances of the clans had been long lost, but the ties apparently survived. There was just enough Terran blood to "kick" up their power, much like Tenchi's human DNA seemed to enhance his Jurian blood.
Snarling, Washu tore her attention away from the data on her holo-screen and glared at the nearest alarm. She had the darn things nearly everywhere as she could seldom predict just where in the cavernous lab she would be when she needed to be alerted to a possible problem or interesting phenomena . Right now she was regretting her thoroughness as the sound was nearly deafening. Quickly Washu cut off the alarms then turned back to her keyboard.
Fingers flew as she typed in a query, the display shifting from a split screen review of Michiru's fight with Happosai taking up one side while an analysis program displayed the numeric data on the right. She instead shifted her attention to a display of the sensor readings that caused the alarms to sound. Fingers flashed across non-existent (or at least non-physical) keys as she made the change.
"A temporal rift originating at Funaho's lake? I wonder …." Washu mused, "I hope it's not more trouble."
A different set of commands were entered and her computer soon displayed and played back the events that caused the alarm in the first place. Her green eyes lit with curiosity as she watched Michiru pull a mirror from what appeared to be a self-generated sub-space pocket (much like the one's she used), pause to study the mirror intently for a few moments, then disappear in a flash of blue light.
Before the diminutive genius could do more than begin her analysis, the alarms howled again. Acting on intuition as much as on scientific analysis, Washu opened her surveillance net once again. She only nodded as the camera's displayed what her intuition told her they would … another bright flash and then Michiru was standing under Funaho's broad branches, a smug look of satisfaction momentarily crossing the girl's pixyish features.
"Well," she purred, "I guess that answers a few of my questions."
Washu suddenly grinned, as an expression all to familiar and somewhat horrifying to her family and friends spread across her cute face. She had a problem to solve, an enigma to unravel … and she couldn't be happier.
"When do you think he will wake up Nodoka-san?" Hotaru asked her older companion, her voice a strange combination of boredom and nervousness. She stood once again in a sunlit meadow, though this time the sun was sinking toward the western horizon. This time she stood openly, not skulking in the bushes trying to peek out at the events taking place. The meadow was also much less crowded this time, only Sensei Masaki, Nodoka, Michiru-mama and the boy Ryouga were here with her.
"Now Hotaru-chan, what did I tell you to call me?" the former Saotome Nodoka and soon to be Masaki Nodoka asked with a chiding tone, though her eyes belied her tone. The elder woman's eyes were filled with warmth and affection as she looked down at her newly discovered granddaughter.
Hotaru blushed, then her expression blossomed into an ear to ear grin. The expression lighting up her normally somber face like the sun breaking though a dark thundercloud.
"Sorry …Grandmother," though the words were still too new to come easily, Hotaru was thrilled to be able to say them. She could literally feel the love radiating from Nodoka and basked in it, nearly purring her satisfaction much like a kitten being held in a warm lap. Despite the newness of the endearment she knew that soon it would feel natural to call the older woman her grandmother. "I still can't believe that you are Michiru-mama … I mean Ranma's mother." A note of disbelief still tingeing her soft tones.
"Dear, she's Michiru now and has been for many, many years. I don't think she would ever go back to being Ranma, even if it were possible."
"What do you mean Grandmother?"
Nodoka sighed, "When she was Ranma her life wasn't easy. In fact most people would probably consider his life to be Hell on Earth. Much of what he went through would be considered child abuse at best, many would call it torture."
Hotaru paled at her Grandmother's words. Her mama had promised to tell her the full story tomorrow when they got home. Michiru-mama had given her word to finally let go of the secrets that she had held for so long and to finally reveal the truth about her past. Given how fearless her mama normally was this grudging promise made Hotaru feel more than a little afraid of just what she was going to hear.
Hotaru wasn't a stupid child by any stretch of the imagination and she knew that something bad had to have happened to make her mama leave her old life behind. Her mama wasn't a quitter, she never gave up even in the most dire of circumstances. Yet this time in many ways she had done just that. Not only had Michiru run from her past, she had abandoned her birth gender in a last ditch attempt to have a happier life.
A shudder ran up and down Hotaru's spine as she tried to imagine a life so messed up, so unhappy that such a drastic step would not only be considered, but actually carried out in a final desperate bid for happiness. She knew that as bad as her life had been until her "rebirth" and as many problems as she faced even now, the idea of becoming a boy to escape them was … well scary. The purple-eyed girl wasn't sure that she really wanted to know what really happened, but she also knew that her mama needed to let it go.
She had never seen her mama break down like she had in Washu's lab. Michiru was always the strong one, the one that held the Outers together with her quiet determination to see things through, with the love she held for them. Haruka was too emotional, to quick to anger and often acted without thinking her actions through. Setsuna thought things through, but she often had trouble dealing with her emotions. Michiru-mama on the other hand gave her heart and soul to her friends. Hotaru knew … knew with all her being that Michiru loved them, Haruka completed her soul, Setsuna was her closest friend, and Hotaru her daughter in all the ways that counted, even if not by blood.
True Michiru wasn't all that expressive in public, but in private she allowed her heart to show and to shine. At home she was not afraid to let her family see just how much she loved them. Everything her mama did showed that love, from the way she cooked and cleaned, to the way she always seemed to know when one of her family was upset or troubled … and even more importantly when she saw a problem she threw everything she had into finding a solution. To see her mama so … scared had literally terrified the young girl.
To be truthful, the revelation that her mama had been a boy had shocked her. In the hours since that revelation Hotaru had tried to imagine what it would be like to be a boy, but she just couldn't grasp the idea in any real way. Somehow she just couldn't quite comprehend the idea of willingly giving up her identity like that. Hotaru suspected that even now she didn't really have a good handle on the idea. Yeah, she had heard the confession, and with the rational part of her mind believed it to be true, but her heart said differently, her heart saw her Mama, not a boy … not Ranma.
Hotaru loved her mama deeply, and didn't want to lose her, wouldn't allow herself to even really consider losing her … but would Haruka-papa share that opinion? It was only the fear in her mama's eyes when she had told the secret that really allowed her to believe what she had been told.
Well that, and the madness that was her own life. After all who would have believed that anyone could be killed, then reborn as a baby only to "age" to her proper appearance and memories within a short few years. That too was unbelievable… unless you had lived through it as she had.
Shaking her head, Hotaru returned her attention to the older woman.
"A yen for your thought child," Nodoka teased.
Hotaru could literally hear the pleasure and enjoyment in her new Grandmother's voice.
It was clear that Nodoka was sure that Michiru was her "son" Ranma, and the older woman had definitely taken to the idea of finally becoming a Grandmother, even if it was to a teenager that she had just met. Hotaru's small frame still felt the effects of Nodoka's "Usagi-glomp" when Michiru had introduced her to the older woman. Hotaru shook her head, it was a toss up as to which of the two had the more energetic hug, and she pitied the person who would have to experience both to decide.
It was clear that Nodoka (and this being despite the fact she had just met Hotaru) felt as if she had known her Granddaughter for years. Michiru had apparently been more than willing to talk of her family, even if she hadn't been willing to risk introducing them to Nodoka.
"I don't know if I really want to know what happened to mama," Hotaru whispered. "It had to be awful."
The violet-eyed girl felt herself being pulled into a warm comforting hug. She sighed and reveled in the feeling of safety that being held by Nodoka brought. Up until now she had only felt this way with her mama. She loved Haruka, but papa wasn't as good at handling "girly" situations as her mama was. Hotaru giggled as she looked at things in the light of her newfound knowledge. It was strange really, her mama had been a boy and was more comfortable dealing with "girl talk" and female emotions than her papa … who had always been a girl.
Nodoka heard the giggle and gently tightened her arms around the young girl taking the opportunity to both give and receive comfort from the contact. It was good to hear her laugh. Michiru had always complained that the girl was to solemn, to used to being considered different to really embrace her life. Nodoka knew that she was going to enjoy having her for a granddaughter.
"Don't worry dear. I have faith that everything will turn out all right. My daughter is a strong woman and she loves you very much. With your help and that of your Haruka-papa and Setsuna-mama she'll be fine." The words "I hope" were not spoken by either, but both heard them none-the-less.
"I hope so Grandmother. I'm scared though. What if Haruka-papa gets mad? She tends to talk first and think about what she said afterwards. What if she…." Once again her voice broke as she considered for the first time, the possibility that her family might break apart.
"Don't be frightened Hotaru. Michiru has talked about her family a lot, and she loves you all very much."
"I know that Grandmother. But Haruka-papa doesn't like boys. What if …"
This time Hotaru wasn't allowed to finish her sentence before she was interrupted.
"Don't worry about what may never happen. If she loves Michiru she'll forgive her. It may take some time, but with your help things will work out. We need to be strong and let Michiru know just how much and how well she is loved."
Hotaru took comfort from the older woman's words and her loving presence. But even so, she could hear the underlying uncertainty in Nodoka's voice.
"Those are wise words Nodoka," a gentle male voice interrupted the Hallmark moment as the third person watching the sunlit meadow (and the two figures waiting there) spoke for the first time. "I have faith in Michiru and in her judgment. If she has chosen to love and trust Haruka then Haruka is worthy. Besides …", Katsuhito shrugged, "Michiru is a fighter and she will not give up her family easily."
With a gentle smile he continued, "And with your help and Hotaru-chan's how can she fail?"
Once again Hotaru literally felt the love she was being offered. She had just met Katsuhito-sensei, but could tell that he knew her mama well, and he seemed to love her as if she were his own granddaughter.
Hotaru was still far from certain as to what tomorrow would bring, but she was wise enough to know that Masaki-sensei was right. There was nothing that she could do right now except to support her mama and hope, worrying would be worse than useless, draining her energy and changing nothing.
Still enveloped in her new Grandmother's arms, she turned her attention back to the clearing. There her mama knelt, patiently waiting for Ryouga to wake, her aura shimmering now and then into visibility, surrounding her with an icy blue field.
Hotaru shook her head at the sight. Only yesterday she had believed her mama barely held a dan rating in Kempo, now she knew her mama was a world class swordswoman and a grandmaster (in all but name) of one of the deadliest unarmed styles in the world. She just hoped that Haruka-papa could handle this information on top of everything else. Hotaru knew how proud Haruka was of her fighting skill, how she loved being the best fighter and strongest (physically at least) of the Senshi. Her papa took literally reveled in her status as the most dangerous fighter the Senshi had … a title that she clearly held no longer.
Before she could ponder the matter further the peaceful evening air was shattered by a hate-filled cry.
"Ranma you bastard what have you done to me?"
Ryouga's angry accusation broke the peaceful silence that had covered the glen just moments before.
To say that he was pissed off would be to say the ocean was wet. The statement would be true but it would also be so much of a vast understatement as to be ludicrous. The lost boy glared daggers at his sometimes rival sometimes enemy as he struggled to move … but to his utter disbelief not a muscle twitched at his command. His anger grew as he realized he wasn't tied nor bound by anything except by the unresponsive shackles of his own flesh.
Ryouga's hatred was nearly palpable as he stared through the red haze of his anger, then he too was surrounded by an aura of ki. Ryouga's aura wasn't the cold confident blue of his hated foe, nor was it the usual putrid green of his ever-present depression. No, his aura was a blazing inferno of crimson, like unto the aura Tendo Akane manifested on so many occasions. The heat of his anger … and his ki so intense that it blackened and burnt the grass upon which he sat.
Not six feet away was the cause of all his problems … and the cause of Tendo Akane's pain. The lost boy's feelings of anger and frustration only multiplied as he looked at the calm countenance of one Saotome Ranma.
Anger wasn't the only emotion that he was feeling, though (as evidenced by his crimson aura) it predominated. Ryouga was also confused. The last thing he remembered was being hit by his own trademark attack, the perfected version no less. Then he felt overwhelming pain and finally the darkness of unconsciousness. Yet now he felt fine, at least in body, even though he couldn't move. Indeed he felt completely re-energized as if he was fully healed and his ki reserves restored to their maximum capacity.
That didn't make sense though. The scars of battle so abundant in the small glen were fresh. The grass ringing the outer edges of the impact sites of Ranma and Happosai's ki blasts was still wilted, nor were the other signs of conflict blurred by the passing of time and the elements. The sun was another give away as it shown brightly in the evening sky. Its position indicated that only a few hours had passed. Despite how good he felt he couldn't move, and his lack of control over his own body only added to the flames of his anger, enraging him even more than the defeat he had suffered at Ranma's hands.
"What the hell have you done to me?" Ryouga demanded with an angry snarl, waiting impatiently for Ranma to answer his question
Ryouga watched as Ranma turned slightly to face him. The lost boy stared into the piercing blue eyes of his greatest foe. Ranma was in his girl form and kneeling down as if he had been waiting patiently for him to wake up. Despite his own anger Ryouga quailed as he saw the implacable, ice-cold anger in his foes eyes. Ryouga had seen and fought Ranma many times… but he had only seen such a fire in Ranma's eyes once before… and then Ranma had killed (at least for a moment) his enemy. But then he was not the target …then he hadn't tried to face Ranma's anger, that had been Saffron's burden.
Normally Ranma fought with a certain joy that couldn't be hidden, even during their toughest fights Ryouga had never really been afraid of his foe … cautious, aware of Ranma's power yes, but never afraid. Even as the fear touched Ryouga with it's cold tendrils, the lost boy fought it off, his own emotions so overwhelming that even the touch of fear was banished … at least for now. He ignored the warning signs as best he could. The only time that he had seen such focused anger was when Ranma had fought Saffron
It took all of his effort, all of his rage not to flinch as Ranma continued to stare at him with those cold cold eyes and a face that, despite it's beauty, looked like it had been carved from glacial ice.
"Shut up Ryouga." Ranma heard her voice as if it came from a long distance away.
Ranma was deep in the Soul of Ice. Despite the technique she would feel her anger bubbling like superheated magma waiting to burst from a volcano to destroy anything that stood in it's path. She could literally feel herself crying out for revenge. The technique was the only thing keeping her from taking drastic action against her one-time friend. The bastard had hurt Hotaru, might have killed her since she wasn't transformed. If he had succeeded there wasn't a force on earth that would have stopped her from taking her revenge on the lost boy. What had the pig been thinking?
Snorting delicately Ranma looked with thinly disguised contempt at Ryouga, long experience with the other's rages told him that Ryouga probably hadn't been thinking … at least not about anything other than his own need to strike out at what he perceived to be the source of his problems … one Saotome Ranma.
Ranma reeaallly wanted to make Ryouga pay for his thoughtless actions and to remove the boy (permanently) as a potential problem, but now was not the time for anger-clouded action but a time for cool rational thought.
Ranma watched Ryouga flinch, as her expression somehow grew even colder. The old Ranma, the one that Ryouga knew would never actually kill, at least not in cold blood. The person she was now would … and that knowledge frightened her more than she wanted to admit. If her daughter had died there would be no question of as to whether she would take revenge. No, had Hotaru died Ryouga would never have had a chance to awaken. She would have struck hard and without warning. Even now the only question was what form her vengeance would take. She could kill the boy, but there were other options available that were perhaps even more cruel, and part of her wanted to carry them out … part of her wanted to hurt Ryouga as much as he had almost hurt her.
Her new lives had brought her much, but her the innocence had been the price. The naivete that Ranma had possessed in great quantity, the belief that killing was always wrong, that slights were to be immediately forgiven and forgotten, the innocent belief that everyone had some good in them, those beliefs she had lost so many years before.
Now she knew better, there were some people that weren't going to change, who would always be a danger to those around them. She did still believe in second chances … but not in sixth or seventh chances … not when the person was making no effort to change.
If Ryouga had shown any signs of remorse that would be different, but he wasn't and his berserker rages were a danger to others … and more specifically to her and her family.
She might risk letting Ryouga off if she were the only one in danger, but that wasn't the case. Even in their first fight back in Nerima Ryouga had nearly killed someone. A single inch more was all it would have taken for Ryouga's bandanna to have cut more than Akane's hair.
Yes her innocence was gone, long gone. She had killed … more than once and not just Saffron … not just creatures of the Dark Kingdom. Long before she was Michiru she had lived another life … and in that life she had been a warrior. She had learned that the shedding of blood in battle was sometimes not just necessary … but was actually the best course of action She had learned that bring death WAS acceptable under the right conditions, and the near death of her daughter was just such a reason. Ranma heard ever so clearly the siren call of revenge. It was singing loudly and with bloody glee in her ears right now.
If it were not for Hotaru's presence and the knowledge that Hotaru wouldn't want her to kill Ryouga in cold blood it is doubtful that her hand would have been stayed from the course she so wanted to take.
Instead, for her daughter's sake, (and perhaps just a bit because of the times Ryouga had aided her in the past), she was going to give him one last warning (though he'd never remember it)… one last chance to avoid the punishment that he so richly deserved. Though she wouldn't kill him there were some things that were worse than death and if this didn't work Ryouga would discover just how much she had learned. The smile that twisted her lips bore no relation to any expression of joy or happiness; instead it resembled nothing more than the snarl of a tiger going in for the kill.
Shaking her head as if to clear the dark thoughts from her mind Ranma ignored Ryouga's curses and threats and strove for calm. If she was going to succeed she needed her wits about her.
A few moments later Ranma looked up from the ground, her cold voice slashing through the torrent of profanity pouring from his lips.
"Shut up and listen you idiot. If it weren't for my daughter I'd have already dealt with you."
"D-d-daughter?" Ryouga literally stuttered as he tried to make sense of Ranma's words.
Despite her anger Ranma was hard pressed to bite back a laugh as her words sunk in. She could see his confusion. She could also see Ryouga fight back a shudder at her thinly veiled threat and the harshness in her voice.
"Yes my adopted daughter. If you had killed her …" Ranma's voice trailed off menacingly. "Let's just say you wouldn't like the results."
Ranma watched as Ryouga applied his usual logic to her words; even though he didn't speak she figured his reasoning went something like this.
Ranma was trying to blame him. Ranma was a selfish, rude self-centered brat who only thought of himself. Bringing a cute girl like her within ten miles of Happosai was just wrong … and showed that Ranma didn't really care for her. He had probably intended to use her as a distraction if Happosai started to gain the upper hand. Therefore it was Ranma's fault that Hotaru got in the way and Ranma's fault she accidentally got hurt.
Ryouga's face mirrored each word he heard, and reflected his thoughts as he tried to make sense of Ranma's speech. For a moment she had a glimpse of hope that Ryouga was actually thinking things through. But that hope died quickly as the momentary flash of guilt was quickly replaced by anger.
It was clear that she wasn't getting her message through as once again the lost boy heard what he wanted to hear and anything that didn't fit into his preconceived notions of how things were was ignored or discarded. She shook her head ruefully. In many ways he was worse than Kuno. Kuno at least had a history of insanity … and his long-term exposure to his sister's drugs as a reason for his aversion to reality. Ryouga had none of those, all he had was a tendency to blame others for his misfortunes and a deep hatred for Ranma. No Ryouga was pretty much to blame for his own problems.
Ranma frowned, it was clear that Ryouga wasn't listening to her. Still she would make one last attempt to reason with him. Before Ryouga regained his bearings she spoke again, her voice as serious as an undertaker.
"Ryouga. I'm locked as a girl. I can't marry any of the girls. Not Ukyou, not Akane and not even Shampoo (though he knew this last to be a lie, long gone were the days when she couldn't even tell a white lie)."
"L l locked?" Ryouga interrupted suspiciously. "How."
"I'm not sure," Ranma lied, "But it can't be undone. I've checked. I've even gone to an oracle who told me that I would be a girl for the rest of my life."
"Bwahahahaha," Ryouga couldn't contain spiteful laughter. "Seems you finally got what you deserve … and since you couldn't face it you ran away like the coward I always knew you were."
It took more than a little effort to keep from unloading a world of hurt on Ryouga for his obvious enjoyment of her plight, but still she managed it.
"Sure Ryouga, whatever you say," Ranma responded with icy calm. "The bottom line is that I'm not going back." This time her anger broke through as she continued. "Knowing my Pops he'd just take advantage of this to engage me to Kuno. Who knows what Nabiki would do. I don't have any desire to star in any more of her soft porn photo shoots. If you will swear not to tell anyone about this ever I'll let you go."
"Dream on Ranma." Ryouga snorted. "I can't wait to drag you back to your old man and Nabiki. I'll really enjoy seeing what Akane does to you now you jerk."
"Fine," once more Ranma's voice seemed to freeze the very air between them. "I've got other options available."
Pinning Ryouga with a pinnace stare she continued, her next words stopping the lost boy in mid cackle.
"How would you like to be a pig … permanently?"
Ryouga's glee was momentarily stopped, but not for long. "Yeah right Ranma. Herb still has the Chiisuiton ladle …"
Before he could continue Ranma's cool soprano interrupted him again, "I don't need it. I know the Cat's Tongue Pressure point."
Ranma smiled slightly as Ryouga's eyes bulged at her words. Before he could recover she continued, her voice as calm as if she was discussing the weather or the latest sports scores instead of taking away another person's humanity.
"If that doesn't appeal to you how about the Ultimate Weakness Moxibustion Point? I've learned that as well."
Ryouga considered the fragile appearing girl in front of him. If Ranma wasn't bluffing that would be bad … real bad … and it certainly didn't look like Ranma was lying. He never could lie worth a damn. One of his worst nightmares was to forever locked in his
chan form. Before that thought even finished sinking in Ranma interrupted him again, this time threatening to remove his strength … possibly forever unless he could get Cologne or another Master to remove it.
The lost boy's anger … and fear grew as once again he checked to see if he could move and found himself unable to do so. The fact that he was locked completely immobile in his own body sharply underlined the possibility that Ranma could do exactly what he was threatening. Ranma had never shown this kind of knowledge before. He was an exceptional fighter true and picked up new techniques like a sponge picked up water, but a shiatsu master he was not. For the first time Ryouga wondered what Ranma had been up to during the three months he had been gone.
Unable to repress a shudder Ryouga considered the icy bitch that sat so calmly in front of him. Still he drew strength from his anger. He would not give in, would not show fear in front of Ranma … even if it killed him he wouldn't submit to Ranma's blackmail.
"So will you swear it?" Ranma hissed softly, her eyes darting to the side of the clearing were a small audience watched. She made sure to keep her voice low enough that her mama, her daughter and her sensei couldn't hear her words. Despite the seriousness of the situation she didn't want to risk their disappointment in her if they heard her threats.
Unfortunately she wasn't surprise by the pig boy's response when he refused … and long length and with much additional profanity.
"Good," Ranma smirked at Ryouga's shocked expression. "I could do either one of these to you … but I think I'd rather just beat some sense into you."
Reaching out she quickly tapped Ryouga twice on the chest, once on each side of his neck and then getting up she walked around Ryouga and tapped him three more times along his spine before returning to the front.
"It will take about fifteen to twenty minutes for the pressure points to wear off. Then I'm going to give you up to another half hour to get ready before we fight. If you are ready before that let me know and I'll be more than ready to start the beat down early.
With those last words Ranma turned and walked over to where her daughter and the others were waiting.
A couple of you all have caught on to what Ranma plan, though the how of it you apparently haven't and no I'm not telling which ones of you that is 'til next chapter.
Yes Nodoka is OOC a bit but there are explanations for that. One is that this is still an AU though in most respects I've taken canon and just tweaked it. Two, I wanted her to know the sword for this fic. Three she has prior knowledge of Ranma and perhaps as importantly she wasn't nearly so lonely during the ten years. Yes she acted the same pre-disappearance, but that was due to Michiru's coaching and telling her not to change the time-line.
Did some tweaking to better detail the Jurian thing. No Ranma isn't going to get the Lighthawk Wings. Besides Funaho was quite strong herself.
Yosho/Nodoka might happen, not telling. I didn't have any GXP and nothing was said about Yosho actually being married in canon Tenchi. Even if it had he is a Jurian so his wife might just have to put up with it. Besides with what happened to Seina (sp) read about it but only have the first 2 DVDs not all of his brides are Jurian so I don't think its limited to them.