A Mother's Tale by Alex Tomas
This is my first work of fan fiction. Reviews welcome.
I do not own the Ranma characters.
"Conversations in Japanese are enclosed between quotation marks."
Conversations in a foreign language like Chinese and English are enclosed between curly brackets.
Thoughts are in italics
Signs are enclosed between equal signs.
Emphasis are in bold.
This happens after season 7 episode 143, Ranma Meets Mother Boy Meets Mom, Part I in the television series or volume 22 chapter 2 of the manga. It takes elements from both the anime and the manga.
Ranma's mother, Nodoka Saotome, on her way for the first time to the Tendo Dojo sees male-type Ranma fall into the storm drain and transform into girl-type Ranma. Ranma stutters some excuse but Nodoka waves it off as she is in a hurry and proceeds to the the Tendo Dojo without giving out each other's names.
I am assuming that Nodoka does not know the Tendos and has no knowledge of the honor contract Genma and Soun entered into to unite their two families. My reason is that if Genma informed her then she would know the Tendos and vice-versa.
Chapter 6: Mom's Day Out.
Ranma sat alone on the front steps of Furinkan reading another of his textbooks, math this time, as he waited for the girls to come back. Akane, Nabiki, Shampoo and Ukyou had gone home to change, leave their school bags and roses, and to get Cologne and Kasumi.
Ranma looked up from the book and sighed as he palmed his face. He still couldn't see why he would need to study any of them at all. He could appreciate the need and usefulness of the basics since one needed to count a lot of things in life, like money, but what the heck would he need to know the formula to get the area of a circle for?
So far he hadn't found any particular subject to his like or dislike and he was still getting lost often following the lectures but at least he was beginning to understand his lessons somewhat better when he actually listened to his teachers.
Ranma was about to go back to reading when he heard his name being called. He glanced off to his left to see Hiroshi and Daisuke approaching him.
"Hey, Ranma, what are you still doing here in school?" Daisuke questioned as he sat to Ranma's right.
"Waitin' for the girls."
"What for?" Hiroshi asked as he sat on the other side of the pig-tailed youth.
"They're s'posed to come to my house. And it's not what yer thinkin', ya perverts." Ranma added when he saw the lecherous grins on his friends' faces. "They're s'posed ta go shoppin' with my mom, that's all."
"What? Can't we even fantasize just a little?" Hiroshi asked defensively.
"Yeah. You really can't blame us, can you? I mean three seriously cute girls going to a boy's house? Just think of the possiblities!"
Ranma snorted. "Yeah, yeah." Sheesh. They'll never change. "So why're the two of ya still in school?"
"Oh, we're going to meet some of the other guys."
"Nothing you'll be interested in, Ranma." Hiroshi answered as innocently as possible.
The black-haired boy gave Hiroshi a suspicious look but Daisuke noted the open book. "Hey, why are you still reading that stuff?"
"Well, since I got nothin' else ta do while I'm waitin'..."
"Man, you don't need that stuff." Hiroshi observed. "I don't see why you even have to be in school!"
"Yeah. With your martial arts skills you're all set for life. Not like the rest of us poor saps who'll need a high school diploma just to get a half-way decent job."
Ranma snorted again. "And what makes ya think I'm all set for life?"
"Why shouldn't you be all set? Once you marry Akane and take over the Tendou Dojo the money's gonna come rolling in." Daisuke answered.
"Yeah." Hiroshi agreed.
The three, going on six, times fiancé snorted loudly. "And what makes the two of ya think the money's just gonna come rollin' in?" Ranma asked.
"How stupid can ya get? Ya don't see my pop, Mr. Tendou or any other martial artist rollin' around in money, do ya?"
"Well, no, but..."
"Look at it this way, how many here in school do martial arts? And those that do martial arts, how many are serious enough 'bout it to go to a dojo regularly?" When comprehension appeared on the duo's faces, the teenage martial artist sighed. "People just aren't into martial arts anymore. Teachin' martial arts might, and I mean might, be a good way to earn a decent livin' but ya sure ain't gonna be rich that way."
Daisuke and Hiroshi looked thoughtful for a few moments. In their class, aside from Ranma, Akane, Ukyou and Shampoo no one else practiced martial arts. In the whole school, the two estimated less than five percent of the population half-seriously practiced martial arts.
"Gee. I never thought of it that way before." Daisuke finally said.
"Yer not the only one." Ranma said with a wry grin. "That's somethin' that bit me in the ass a few months back. Teachin' martial arts might pay the bills but not much else." Probably the reason why all the real martial arts masters either live alone in their temples and shrines or travel constantly. Gettin' a job probably just gets in ta way of practicin' martial arts. And despite how much he loved the art, Ranma couldn't picture himself living alone in an isolated temple or shrine or constantly traveling by himself in order to perfect or become better at it.
The three were quiet as they were lost in their thoughts.
"Can I ask ya two a question?"
"What d'ya plan ta do after high school?"
Hiroshi leaned back as he set his hands behind him . "After high school?"
"Well, I've always thought of going to college."
"What about you, Ranma?"
Ranma sighed. "Nothin' really. 'sides becomin' the best martial artist the only thing I really ever planned for was where ta get my next meal or where I was gonna sleep. Stuff like that. Never gave much thought to what I'll do the next day much less a couple years down the road." And it never bothered me this much before. Wonder why it's botherin' me now. He mused to himself.
"Can I ask another question?"
"What d'ya plan takin' in college?"
Daisuke asnswered first. "Well, I thought of taking up accounting."
"What 'bout ya, Hiroshi?"
"Probably architecture like my dad."
Further conversation was halted as Ranma spied the girls walking towards the school waving their hands. He waved back. "Well, looks like I gotta go." He put away the book and shouldered his book bag as he stood up. "Thanks for answerin' my questions, guys, I really appreciate it. See ya tomorrow." He said before walking towards the gates of the school where the girls and Cologne were waiting for him.
"Yeah, see you tomorrow, Ranma." Hiroshi replied as he and Daisuke stood up. The two watched until their pig-tailed friend disappeared around the wall to the school.
"Is it just me or did Saotome seem different somehow just now?" Daisuke asked out loud but not particularly to anyone.
"Yeah, the way he talked didn't sound like him. He actually sounded serious."
"You think he's coming down with something?"
Hiroshi shrugged. "Who knows. I just hope it's not contagious. Something that can make Saotome talk seriously like that will probably make us commit suicide."
After a few moments Daisuke also shrugged and asked his partner. "So, shall we go meet the others?"
Hiroshi smirked. "Yeah, we should. We can't let them wait too long."
The duo headed off as they returned to their original purpose for staying in school this late in the afternoon. Thoughts of their martial artist friend were washed away as teen-age hormones kicked in again.
"Why is Airen so quiet?" Shampoo asked no one as they walked slightly behind the boy in question towards the bus stop. The Amazon was wearing a short, pink cheongsam decorated with floral patterns and matching pants, much to the disappointment of the males on the street.
"Beats me." A short-haired girl answered back. Akane was wearing a yellow blouse with a short pink skirt and leggings. "Why don't you ask him?"
Ukyou beat the Amazon in asking the boy in question. She was wearing the last of her dresses, a light-blue ensemble with a skirt that came just below the knees and a white blouse with short-sleeves. "Hey, Ranchan!" She raised her voice when their fiancé didn't seem to hear. "Hey, Ranchan!" When that again didn't get his attention she walked ahead of the other girls and poked her fiancé in the arm with a finger. "Ranchan!"
Ranma craned his neck to look at the chef walking beside him. "Hmmm? Didja say somethin', Ucchan?"
"Everyone's wondering why are you so quiet."
Ranma turned around to face his companions and started walking backwards. "Oh, nothin' much. Just thinkin' ta myself."
"That's new." Nabiki said. The other girls giggled.
Ranma looked indignant. "For your information, Nabiki, I do think once in a while."
"Just kidding, Ranma. So what were you thinking about?"
The boy waved his left hand dismissively. "Nah, it ain't nothin' important. You girls probably won't be interested."
"Ranma, whenever you think is worthy of a news bulletin. People's lives hang in the balance."
"Har. Har." Ranma grumbled. Smart ass.
"Really, Ranma-kun, what were you thinking about?" Kasumi asked with genuine interest.
The boy found himself unable to deny Kasumi. "Well, you girls saw me talkin' with Daisuke and Hiroshi, right?"
"You three weren't talking about anything perverted, were you, Ranma?" Akane asked out of reflex.
"What were you talking about, Ranchan?"
"Nothin' much really but we got ta talkin' 'bout what we were gonna do after high school."
His listeners blinked.
"I think we heard you wrong, Ranma. You and those two were talking about what you were going to do after high school?" The middle Tendou sister asked to make sure.
"Hey, what's with the attitude?"
"Well, no offense, Ranma, but that just seems so not like you. I never saw you planning for anything ever since you arrived at our home. No offense again, Ranma, but you usually act without thinking." Everyone nodded in agreement much to the lone male's annoyance.
"Hmph! Then I guess you don't know me that well then, Nabiki." The girls except for the eldest teen continued to look skeptically. "Well, do ya guys wanna know what we talked 'bout or just annoy me!"
"Oh, pardon us, Ranma-kun. Please continue."
"Well, the two said they planned on going ta college. Daisuke said he was gonna take up accounting while Hiroshi, architecture like his pops."
"What about you, Ranchan? What do you plan on doing after high school?"
Her best friend sighed. "That's just it, Ucchan. Aside from martial arts I don't have any."
"There's nothing wrong being a martial artist, Airen." The other girls nodded.
Ranma snorted. "Well, yeah, I suppose."
"You do not seem to be convinced of that, son-in-law." Shampoo's great grandmother observed.
"I dunno, Cologne, but.." He turned to his first known fiancée. "Remember that time we had no money, Akane, and we ran out of food ta eat?" He asked the youngest Tendou.
The Tendou girls nodded and looked down in embarrassment.
"Well, remember when I tried ta get students for the dojo?"
Akane nodded again.
Akane looked down once more.
"Yeah, we weren't able to get any. Good thing Nabiki was able to sca-" He broke off and looked apologetically at the middle Tendou who waved it off. "I mean, raise some money quick."
"I hate to admit it but that was both humiliating and frustrating. Especially when I had to turn into a girl and put on that stupid playboy bunny suit just to get people's attention."
"Nah, I'm okay now, but I'm not gonna let that happen again. Ever." His voice took on a determined tone. "I'm never gonna be that helpless ever again." Ranma held out his hands in front of him and looked at them as he opened and closed them in fists seemingly lost in thought. All this power.. He suddenly put them down to his sides and grinned lopsidedly at the girls before turning around and continuing to talk over his shoulder. "And I'm not gonna let you or any family of mine starve just 'cause I can't do anythin' else 'sides martial arts." Not like my pops or Mr. Tendou. I'm gonna be a better man than those two. "'sides, ya girls deserve only the best I can give."
He didn't see the effects of his last words on the girls behind him. Small happy smiles and blushes appeared on their young and beautiful faces.
"So, Ranma, what's your house like?" Nabiki asked a little while later.
Her prospective fiancé smiled brightly. "It's really nice, Nabiki! Mom really should be proud of it! And I've got my own room all ta myself! It's even got a real bed and not just a futon!" He declared with pride. He didn't notice the gleam in some of the girls' eyes when they heard that detail. "Although the yard's a bit too small ta let me really work out. I guess I'll hafta find a park or somethin' nearby ta practice at."
"Hey, Ranchan, maybe we can train together some time. I've been a bit lax in my training ever since I got here. And you can teach me some unarmed techniques. I really need to brush up on those."
"Sure, Ucchan. That'll be nice."
"Me too, Airen. I really need to keep up with my training. Ling-Ling and Lung-Lung has almost caught up to me."
"No problem, Shampoo, but we'll still need to find a place to train at."
"You can always drop by the dojo if you want to train, Ranma." Akane volunteered. She looked down and twiddled her fingers. "Maybe you can even train with me seriously." She shyly added a moment later as a blush came to her cheeks. She stuck her tongue out at the two other girls. Hah! Let's see you two match that.
Ranma blinked. Damn, Akane looks so cute like that. He smiled. "Uh, um, sure. That'll work, I guess."
"Really? You'll train with me?"
"Uh, sure, but ya hafta promise ya'll keep yer temper in check. No use trainin' if ya'll just get angry after only five minutes."
Akane frowned. "I promise but you have to promise not to insult me."
"Can't promise that, Akane. Ya can't expect yer opponents not ta do that."
Akane frowned some more and bit her lower lip before she grudgingly nodded. Her fiancé did have a point. It still grated on her nerves though. At least I'll be able to spend some time with Ranma even if he'll be insulting me all the time.
Ranma smiled more. "Look, if it'll make ya feel better, Akane, how 'bout I treat ya out every time ya don't lose yer temper during trainin'?"
Akane's smiled. That was a pleasant and nice enticement. "Really?"
The pig-tailed boy gave her a disconcerting grin. "Sure, but don't expect me ta hold back on the insults." He felt a tug on his arm and turned to see Shampoo's and Ukyou's pouting faces. "Um, I mean l'll take ya all out if we get some good training in."
"Really?" His Amazon fiancée asked.
"Uh, really, Shampoo."
"Wow, Ranma. You never were this gallant with your money before." Nabiki teased.
"Well, mom's givin' me a nice allowance and I can't think of anythin' better ta spend it on."
The girls blushed at the unintended compliment.
"Well, mebbe except for food." The pig tailed boy amended. "But I can eat all the food I want at home so I really don't have anythin' better ta spend my allowance on."
The blushes disappeared, replaced by annoyed looks. Trust Ranma to ruin the mood.
Nabiki smiled while shaking her head and Cologne cackled a little.
Ranma gave the high school junior and the old woman a puzzled expression before shrugging and returning his attention to his three fiancées. "I supposed it'll be good practice for me, too, training all three of ya." A mischievous glint came into his eyes. "As a matter of fact, I think it'll be for the best if I train all three of ya together." He said with a grin.
Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou blinked together.
"Really, Ranchan?" Ukyou asked.
Ranma turned half-way and cocked his head to one side. "Yeah, really, Ucchan. Ya see, the way I figure it, if I spar against the three of ya at the same time together I think I might just work up a sweat." He smirked confidently right before taking off at a run before his three fiancées figured out what he just said.
The three girls blinked again at the receding form of Ranma before they realized he just insulted them.
"JERK!" Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou yelled together as they ran to catch the boy to deliver some payback. "Come back here!"
Cologne, Kasumi and Nabiki smiled as they looked at the figures of the three girls trying to tag the quick-silver form of Ranma bouncing from side-walk to fence to pole to a head and back again.
"Nyah! Nyah! Can't catch me!" The bouncing boy teased from on top of Akane's head forcing her chin down to her chest.
"Why you..." Akane growled in her throat and reached up to grab her fiancé but missed as he flipped up to avoid the tackles of Ukyou and Shampoo.
The two girls squawked as they collided and fell on top of the first. Ranma landed above the pile and grinned widely down at his three fiancées . He gave the trio the Japanese red-eye. "Biiiiii! Daaaaa!" He teased before tweaking their noses and running off while laughing his ass off. "Can't catch me! Slowpokes!" He yelled over his shoulder.
The three girls picked themselves up and ran to pursue the fleet-footed boy. "Ooohhh! When we get our hands on you..." was the last Cologne, Kasumi and Nabiki heard before the three fiancées of Ranma turned the corner.
"Well, son-in-law seems much more relaxed around the girls now." Cologne commented. Kasumi and Nabiki gave slight nods in agreement.
"They looked like they were having so much fun. I wish I could join them." Kasumi said wistfully.
"Then why not join them?" The old woman asked.
"Well, I'm not as athletic as they are." The eldest Tendou replied a little sadly.
"Bah!" The Amazon Matriarch gave a dismissive wave of her right hand. "I see nothing that can prevent you from becoming as athletic as they are, child. If you put your mind to it."
"Do you really think so, Elder Cologne?"
"Yes I do, Kasumi. The same can be said for your sister here." She nodded towards Nabiki. "All the two of you need is the same training and dedication as the others."
Kasumi was quiet as she considered the answer. It would be wonderful if I could be as athletic as Ranma-kun.
The old Amazon paused before continuing their conversation as they walked after the sixteen year olds. "The two of you do know what you are getting yourselves into by involving yourselves with son-in-law, do you not?"
"Shampoo told you?" Nabiki asked. It was more of a statement.
"Did you expect otherwise, Tendou-san?"
Nabiki smiled as she glanced at the older woman. "No. Of course not, Cologne." She looked back at the road before sighing. "Honestly? I really don't have any idea. I doubt with Ranma anyone knows what they're getting themselves into." The middle sister admitted. Kasumi nodded in agreement with her.
Cologne cackled kindly. "True. How very true. With son-in-law one can never expect what will happen."
"Oh, I hope you're not angry, Elder Cologne." Kasumi bit her lower lip in worry.
The old woman smiled kndly and shook her head. "Angry? No, definitely not, child, although I cannot say I am overly pleased with this development. But I can understand why the two of you would be attracted to son-in-law."
"You're not surprised then, Cologne?"
"Again, no. As a woman myself, and I have the medical certificate from a doctor, may his soul rest in peace, to prove it despite what my detractors would say including son-in-law, I can see he has a certain charm to himself that many women find irresistible. I doubt he knows it, however, dense as he is."
"I'd say that's part of his charm, Cologne, and also not knowing what to expect from him. One minute he's a complete and utter jerk or idiot, the next he's Prince Charming a hundred times over."
The Matriarch smiled again. "Indeed, Tendou-san, indeed."
"So you're not going to do anything?"
"About what, Tendou-san?"
"About the two of us going after Ranma."
Shampoo's great grandmother gave Nabiki a shrewd look. "At the moment, no. I can see certain benefits having the two of you associating yourselves with the younger girls and son-in-law."
"Gee, thanks. It's always nice to know people find you useful." Nabiki replied drily.
"You're welcome, Nabiki-chan." Cologne drolly gave back.
The two gave each other flat looks before smiling craftily at each other, enjoying their brief verbal parley.
The three continued their walk to the bus stop in silence.
Ranma was having a great time as he laughed loudly and ran just out of reach of his three pursuing fiancées, teasing them every step of the way.
"Aw, still too slow, Akane!"
"And you call yourself an Amazon, Shampoo?"
"Close but no cigar, Ucchan!"
He smiled wider when he saw them begin to turn blue in frustration. He began to run backwards to talk to them
"Aw, com'on, girls. Just a few words and you're all losin' yer cool already. How am I supposed ta tra..."
Ranma's head rang as his back collided with the eight-inch thick steel post of a streetlight. Funny, he could have sworn it wasn't there just before he turned around.
Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou were quick to take advantage of the situation as they dogpiled him while he was still too dazed to run away.
Pounce! Pounce! Pounce!
A muffled "Ooofff!" was heard from beneath the pile of three sixteen year old girls.
When the three older women reached the bus stop they saw the boy bent over and staggering under the combined weight of three giggling sixteen year old girls who were all holding onto his back as they tried to bring down the stronger-than-a-hundred-horses male again.
Nabiki smirked when she saw the bent and toppled over steel post of the stop light. So that's how the girls caught him. Figures. Ranma probably wasn't looking where he was going.
Pop! Pop! Pop! Went three of the wooden ties of Ranma's shirt.
"Aaahhh! My shirt! My shirt! Careful with my shirt!" Cologne, Kasumi and Nabiki heard Ranma yell as they approached the quartet.
"Ah, to be young, stupid and foolish again." Cologne said with amusement, eyes twinkling.
"Children, as much as I hate to break up your fun you might want to make yourselves presentable before the bus gets here." Nabiki said. "We are going out of Nerima after all."
Ranma, Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou blinked.
"Oh." The three girls said as they climbed down from the boy's back. They tried to make themselves presentable as best as they could. Unfortunately for Ranma his shirt bore the brunt of the girls' weight and was worse for wear. He looked morosely down at it.
"Crap. This was one of my favorite shirts."
"I thought the red one was your favorite?" Akane replied.
"I liked this one, too."
"Considering how often you wear those chinese shirts of yours, I'd say every one of them was your favorite." Nabiki observed.
"That's not the point." He grumbled out. "You three owe me a new shirt."
"Well, I'll gladly give you one of my dresses, Airen. I'm sure it'll look good on your girl-side." Shampoo suggested in a teasing manner making her fiancé redden.
"Yeah, you're welcome to any of my clothes, Ranchan." Ukyou snickered.
"I think I have some clothes that'll look good on you, too."
Nabiki joined in. "You're lucky, Ranma-kun. Aside from the fact that not every guy can borrow clothes from their fiancées, you've got three fiancées you can borrow clothes from."
"Har. Har. Very funny." The pig-tailed boy grumbled about smart aleck fiancées before smirking evilly as a thought crossed his mind. "Much good that'll do me when my girl form is so much better built. Their clothes will probably be too tight in the chest and too loose in the hips." He smirked wider as Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou flushed in indignation.
"Ooohhh, that's a good one, Saotome." Nabiki smoothly countered. "Hmmm, come to think of it, maybe we should tell Auntie how much your girl side needs some clothes? We could take you shopping with us today."
Ranma paled. "Th-that ain't funny, Nabiki."
"Who said I was trying to be funny?"
"Y-ya wouldn't dare!"
The girl turned to their other companions. "Wouldn't we, girls? After what Ranma-kun just said about him having a better body?" The rest smiled evilly at the only guy among them.
Ranma grimaced. Yeah, they would.
"In fact..." Nabiki paused dramatically. "...I'm sure Auntie would be horrified to hear about the way your girl form go without any kind of support..."
"Alright! Alright! Ya win, Nabiki!" Ranma covered his ears before the talk could turn too girly for him to stomach and turned away from the snickering girls to wait for the bus, grumbling about being stuck with uncute tomboys being too smart for their own good. He tried to ignore the giggling and whispering about what would look good on his girl form from behind as best as he could. He rolled his eyes heaven wards. Why me?
A few minutes after the bus Ranma and company got on left, the toppled over "stop light post" groggily stood up.
"Ooohhh... what hit me?" Tsubasa asked himself as he tried to get his bearings. The last thing he knew before waking up lying in the middle of the sidewalk was seeing his darling Ukyou across the street running with some other girls. He tried to move into a position to intercept the love of his life while keeping an eye on her when something extremely solid suddenly collided with him. Everything went black afterwards.
"Ukyou?" The cross-dresser looked around and when he didn't see the object of his affections, his shoulders slumped. Another wasted day. Oh, well. There'll be other days. Tsubasa said to encourage himself as he began painfully dragging himself for the long journey home.
"Dachi-chan? Are you ready? Ranma and the girls should be arriving any minute now." Nodoka asked the girl as she entered the guest room where Kodachi was dressing with the clothes she had sent for Sasuke to bring.
"Yes, Auntie, I'm ready."
Ranma's mother nodded in approval at the younger woman's attire consisting of a short sleeved, light brown blouse and skirt that came to just below the knees.
"Do you really think this is a good idea, Auntie?" The pony-tailed girl asked with some nervousness.
Ranma's mother sat down beside the gymnast and took the nervous girl's hands. "Yes, Dachi. I do think this is a good idea. I am sure you and the other girls will get along fine. You're worrying too much." She smiled in encouragement and was pleased when the Kunou daughter smiled back even if a little hesitantly.
"So, are we all here?" Daisuke asked the gathering.
"I think so." His partner in crime answered. "Anyway, we should start. We can just tell the others later."
Daisuke nodded. "Right." He said before facing the other boys and banging a piece of wood on a makeshift podium. They were meeting inside one of the bigger sheds behind the school building and there were around twenty boys. "The first meeting of the B4Be club is now in session." He wrote the name on a small blackboard.
"Uh, what's B4Be?"
"Well, I was thinking we should have a cool name for our new club and since our goal is to do what Ranma's father did, that is, to get a major babe to marry us and even..." Drool dramatically. "...have our babies, not necessarily in that order, mind you, I came up with B4Be or 'Babes for Boys'. Isn't it cool?" Daisuke beamed, too proud in his own ingenuity to see the sweatdrops behind the heads of his audience.
"Uh, yeah, but why is there an 'e' at the end?"
"Well, B4B just doesn't sound cool."
"O-kay." The other boys decided to just let it drop.
"So how do we go about it?" One in the audience asked.
"I guess the best way to learn is from the horse's mouth itself."
"We get Saotome's father to tell us how he got Saotome's mother to marry him."
"How do we get him to tell us how he did it?"
"Well, we know how Ranma's dork of a father is. The easiest way is probably to pay him for the information." The boys nodded. "That means we'll need to raise some money." At the mention of money, the rest of the boys grumbled but nodded again. If the information they got from Ranma's father got them each a babe like his mother then it would have been money very well spent. Some began to rub their hands gleefully in anticipation.
Outside, Ryonami snuck off. She heard enough to know she had to alert Nabiki. Although she doubted the boys would learn anything from the part time panda she couldn't simply dismiss it either. The stakes were too high. She'd be damned if she'd let herself wind up with someone like Daisuke, Hiroshi, or Gosungkugi simply because she didn't take this seriously enough. Not that she considered herself a major babe. Neither would any of the other girls.
Further observation was warranted at least.
Ranma stopped in front of the gate to his house and looked back at the various girls behind him. He was about to remind his three fiancées about their promise to try to be polite to Kodachi when Nabiki noticed something.
"Ranma, why are all your neighbors looking at us strangely?" Nabiki asked as she strained to hear what all the people were whispering about.
Cologne cackled as her superior hearing allowed her to hear the whispers. "Neighborhood pervert? Fondling half-naked girls in public? Bringing home more young girls to seduce and corrupt? My, my, son-in-law, just what have you been up to in your new home?" She cackled louder as the boy became red as a tomato attracting the attention of all the girls.
"I didn't do nothin'!" Ranma cried out defensively. He opened the gate to his home quickly.
Nabiki smirked as she saw the embarrassment on Ranma's face. "This I've got to hea..." She began to say and then yelped as they were pushed through the newly opened gate.
"No, ya don't!" Ranma blurted out while pushing his guests into his house as he desperately tried to think of a believable story. He ignored his guests' indignant squawks of protests. Damn! I guess mom wasn't able ta talk to the neighbors yet. Or knowin' my luck they just plain didn't believe her. "Oh, look what time it is already! Mom and Dachi must be waitin' already!" He turned and hastily closed the gate behind him when they were all beyond his neighbor's scrutiny.
Nodoka blinked as she saw the guests she was waiting for being piled one on top of the other just inside their property wall. She came out of her surprise when she saw the cause.
"Ranma, what are you doing to our guests?"
"Eh?" Ranma looked back from closing the gate. "Er, hehe. Hi, mom. Um, just didn't want ya and Dachi ta wait too long. Hehe." He clutched his head when Cologne rapped its top with her cane. "Ow! Watcha do that for, ya old ghoul!"
"Ranma! Watch your tongue!" Nodoka admonished.
Cologne sniffed. "Hmph!" She did not appreciate being pushed around and stuffed through doorways. She pogoed away towards their hostess before she gave the boy another bap on the head.
"Now, son, it's not nice to push our guests around."
"Why were you pushing them?"
"He's hiding something, Auntie." Nabiki said as she finally composed herself, picking herself up and dusting her clothes. "Cologne was asking Ranma why your neighbors were whispering something about him being the neighborhood pervert and he panicked."
"Oh, that." The Saotome Matriarch gave a sheepish laugh and scratched the back of her head.
"What d'ya mean, 'Oh, that'? Haven't ya talked to 'em yet, mom?" Her son couldn't keep his eyebrows from arching a little and a bit of an accusatory tone coming into his voice. "I rather not have more trouble, mom."
"Well, I suppose I forgot what with all the excitement and chores. You know how it is, son. But I promise to talk to them tomorrow."
Nodoka gave a firm nod. "Promise."
"What's it all about, Auntie?" Ukyou asked as she couldn't keep her curiosity under control. The rest nodded their heads. "Sounds like Ranchan is in some sort of trouble with his new neighbors already."
"Um, well..." The boy's mother had the grace to blush herself. "Let's just say my son had a... small misunderstanding with the neighbors yesterday. No need to worry about it." Nodoka put on the most innocent smile she could. "Now why don't we all go in and have some refreshments before we go shopping? I'm sure all of you would like to freshen up a little before going."
Her visitors nodded and followed into the house.
Ranma began to fidget nervously at the suspicious and wary looks Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou were giving Kodachi across their living room table which was laden with food. Well, at least they aren't fighting yet. Ranma looked at the Kunou girl and saw the girl struggling not to return the looks. Ranma was about to open to his mouth to defuse the situation when he saw his mom take one of Kodachi's hands in her own which seem to calm the girl down. He blinked as Kodachi looked at him before facing the other girls again.
Kodachi bristled under the not quite friendly glare her rivals were giving her and felt her resolve to be companionable crumbling until she felt a hand touch and gently squeeze one of her own. She knew whose hand it was and gave a grateful look to the older woman for the support. She looked at Ranma and colored as she remembered her little fantasy while waiting at the foyer with Nodoka of being his newlywed wife waiting for him to return after a hard day's work. The thought gave her a warm feeling inside. Yes, for that I will endure. The gymnast shook herself out of her little fantasy before giving her attention back to Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou. She bowed a little and gave a small smile.
Ranma sighed in relief as the rich girl bowed, if a little stiffly, and greet his fiancées in a friendly, for Kodachi, manner. He smiled widely when his three fiancées returned the bow and greeting after getting over their surprise at the unexpected gesture from the gymnast. Maybe it'll work out after all.
Nodoka also smiled at the initial meeting between Kodachi and her son's fiancées. She felt her heart warm. Maybe everything will work out. It was less than perfect but it was a beginning. What was that saying the westerners like to use? Oh, yes. Rome wasn't built in a day. She reminded herself as she turned to her houseguests.
"What would you girls like to have?" She indicated the food laid out on the table. "We have tea, soda and juice. We also have some rice crackers, rice cakes, chocolate and mocha cake, chocolate chip cookies, apple and blueberry pies, and some ice cream. It's not much but feel free to have what you want."
Akane, Kasumi, Nabiki, Shampoo and Ukyou blinked. Not much? That was a lot of snacks. No wonder Ranma wasn't complaining. Nabiki practically drooled.
"Anything would be fine, Auntie." Kasumi graciously answered. She gently but firmly rapped her younger sister's hands. "Nabiki, it's impolite to take so much. There are other guests." She returned two soda cans, six rice crackers, four slices of cake, a dozen chocolate chip cookies, two slices of pies and two bowls of ice cream leaving Nabiki with one, four, two, six, two and one each of the items respectively.
"But..." It wasn't fair! Nabiki was only able to indulge herself and eat this much only when Kunou wanted something from her and she conned him into treating her at a restaurant. Even then she had to watch what she ordered or Kunou, moronic as he was, might have wised up. To have such a feast without her having to resort to her mercenary means and then be denied was cruel and unusual punishment. She was close to tears.
Nodoka gave a small laugh. "It's all right, Kasumi. It's always nice to see someone with a healthy appetite."
The effect on Nabiki was instantaneous. She brightened immediately. "See? Now gimme! Thanks, Auntie!"
"Although you must be careful, Nabiki, or you'll ruin your figure."
"Nah, ya don't hafta worry 'bout that, mom. I don't know how she does it but no matter how much she eats, and she usually is chewin' on somethin' whenever I see her, I've never seen Nabiki grow fat even if she only exercises a little. Although her muscles could use some toning like the others." Ranma innocently put in as he began stuffing his own face. He swallowed what he was chewing when he noticed the looks everyone was giving him. "What? Somethin' on my face?"
"Nothing, Airen." Shampoo answered, while shaking her head, for everyone after sighing causing Nodoka and Cologne to smile at the boy's cluelessness. Ranma gave everyone a funny look before shrugging and continuing to eat.
Hmmm. Very interesting. Nodoka thought as she observed the blush that came over the middle Tendou's cheeks and the way that she bowed her head at the boy's words. Perhaps Nabiki didn't mind as much as Ranma thought when he kissed her last night. My son is so manly! She forced herself to sit still and not wave around victory fans at the joy she felt over her son.
"Then you must be the envy of everyone, dear. To be able to eat anything and still retain a figure that's wonderful enough to catch the notice of certain boys." The emphasis on the word went right over Ranma's head who continued to eat obliviously. Nabiki blushed deeper.
Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Auntie knows! The high school junior thought as she tried to hide her blush behind a bowl of ice cream and tried to act like nothing was wrong. And I don't like the look she's giving me. She squirmed a little where she sat. Nabiki now knew what it felt like whenever she gave someone a speculative look.
Nodoka could barely contain herself as she sat together with their visitors at the living room table. She was beside herself with giddiness as she looked at the number of girls of child-bearing age gathered around the table. From what she had seen so far, they were all perfectly healthy girls.
One, two, three, four, five and... If she read Nabiki's body language and interpreted the girl's furtive, lingering glances at her son correctly to which the boy was so oblivious to... six! Six! Times minimum of three children each...
The question brought Nodoka out of her musings of the number grandchildren she'll have and she blinked. "Um, yes, Ranma?"
"Is somethin' the matter? Ya seem distracted..."
"Oh, it's nothing, son. I was just imagining the number of grandchildren I will have."
Ranma blinked and then blushed. "Mom!"
"Hush, son, your mother is trying to count." Math never was her favorite. She counted out loud this time. "Let's see now... six girls with at least three children each... that makes at least... yes! Eighteen! Eighteen grandchildren!" The auburn haired woman clapped her hands in glee, her eyes glazing over. "Preferably nine boys and nine girls." She added as an afterthought as she placed a finger against her chin.
"MOM!" Ranma, who was red as a ripe tomato, protested loudly as Cologne cackled. In his embarrassment he didn't notice his mother included the three non-fiancées to her count.
"Oh, quiet, Ranma, and let an old woman have her fantasies."
Cologne baited the boy. "I believe you are being too optimistic regarding son-in-law's ability to, ahem, procreate, Nodoka. Even if he does have the required equipment and ammunition, I very much doubt he has the skill or the knowledge to do what needs to be done to accomplish what you are hoping for."
Ranma's pride was pricked. "Hey!" Was his abilities being doubted? "Is that a challenge, old ghoul?" He demanded of Cologne. It definitely sounded like a challenge to him.
"RANMA!" Akane, Kasumi, Kodachi, Nabiki, Shampoo and Ukyou all protested in alarm.
Ranma blinked and then reddened some more as he realized what he was doing. He wisely decided to just shut his mouth by stuffing it with more food before it could get him into something he couldn't back out of.
Ranma's mom and Shampoo's greatgrandmother laughed louder together. Nodoka's laughter was cut short as a thought came into her mind. She looked seriously at the girls making them fidget.
"Girls, I hope you don't mind but I have to know for my peace of mind. You are all perfectly healthy girls, aren't you? With good child-bearing hips?" She asked with a straight face.
"So, girls, what do you plan on shopping for?" The mistress of the house inquired of her young guests after she and Cologne stopped laughing at the teen-agers' expense. "Ranma, please stop fidgeting. It's very distracting." She admonished her son who had sat between her and Cologne.
"Uhm, sure mom." Ranma replied. Being the only guy in the house was beginning to really get on his nerves.
"Well, Auntie, I need a couple more sets of school uniforms and I thought I might as well buy some girl's clothes as well." Ukyou replied first. She smiled when Ranma's mother nodded in approval.
"Me, too, Auntie. I need some school uniforms since I'm attending Furinkan now."
"Really, Shampoo? You're attending Furinkan already?" When the girl nodded. "That's wonderful! I'm very happy for you. What about you, Akane?" Kodachi took note of the new information but didn't say anything.
"I don't really have anything in mind to shop for, Auntie. I just thought it would be nice to see Ranma's house and neighborhood and spend some time with you."
"Why, thank you, dear. That's very sweet of you. What about you, Nabiki? Kasumi?"
"Well, same as Akane I suppose." Nabiki said for the two of them. Kasumi nodded in agreement.
"I'm flattered young girls would want to spend some time with this old woman." She sipped her tea. "So I suppose we should shop for the necessities first. I know a nice place not far from here that sells school uniforms. I'm sure they'll have some for Furinkan. After that we can window shop and see what might interest you girls. Tomoeda City has a very nice shopping district. Oh, speaking of school uniforms, I noticed you don't have any, Ranma. Why is that? Didn't your father buy you any?"
Ranma scratched the back of his head. "Ah, no, mom. We never bothered to buy any. The teachers doesn't seem to mind, though."
"Well, if your teachers doesn't mind then I supposed it's all right. However, I've also noticed that the only clothes you have are those chinese style shirts and draw-string pants. I think you should buy some more clothes with a different style so why don't you come shopping with us?"
"Aw, mom, do I have to? I'd like to get some trainin' in before doin' my homework. Speakin' of which, is there a park nearby where I can train? The backyard's kinda small. And can ya help me with my homework, mom? There're some things I'm not really clear on."
His mother smiled with pride. "Of course I'll be happy to help you with your homework, son. And yes, there's a park near the shopping district that should be large enough to let you train seriously. You can come with us so I can show you where it is."
"Uh, sure, mom. Thanks."
"And I really think you should have a bit more variety in your wardrobe so while you're with us why don't you pick some new clothes you like for yourself? Your present clothes are nice but don't you get tired of wearing the same clothes day after day? And you do need some new clothes." Nodoka looked at the shirt Ranma was wearing and finally noticed the missing ties. She frowned a little. "Why is your shirt like that, son?"
"Ask 'em." He pointed at his three fiancées.
"Oh, my. You mean your fiancées weren't able to control themselves and tried to have their way with you?"
Ranma and the girls blinked before blushing again. "No, mom! Why would you even think of something like that!"
"And why not?" Nodoka asked. "What else should I think?" She continued with a flat look.
"Well, you might have thought I was teasin' them and then they chased me when I ran away, only I was too fast for them and they wouldn't have caught me if it wasn't for me hitting a stop light post I was sure wasn't there before and they jumped me while I was still a bit dazed and the buttons ripped off when they held on to it while I was walking around tryin' ta get them offa me." Ranma paused as he digested what he just said. "That didn't sound very convincing, didn't it?" He asked weakly and sighed when Nodoka shook her head. "Anyway, that's what happened and not what you're thinking, mom."
Ranma nodded his head firmly.
"Oh." Disappointment was clear in Nodoka's voice. "So there's no chance any of the girls might be pregnant right now with my first grandchild?"
That caused Ranma to sputter. "NO!"
"Oh, well." Nodoka sighed. "You can't blame an old woman for hoping, can you, son?"
Ranma sighed again. "Um, no. I guess not, mom." He said in an exasperated tone.
Genma's wife suddenly turned to the six young women. "Although if any of you should feel the need to be intimate with my son please feel free to do so. You have my permission."
"Oh, you take everything too seriously, son. I was only joking. I'm sure none of these nice girls would be bold enough to try and be intimate with you before marriage..." Ranma rolled his eyes at that and eyed Shampoo warily who winked back. "...even if you are already engaged to be married to one another so there's nothing really wrong with it."
Ranma gave his mom a half-lidded look. "I'm just gonna go change now so we can go." He stood and left to go up to his room.
"And did I mention Ranma has a room all to himself? And with not just a futon but a very comfortable bed. It's large enough to accommodate two persons comfortably, three if two of them are slender enough. It's the second door on the left upstairs and if anyone of you girls want a copy of the key..."
"MOM!" The indignant cry from upstairs caused Nodoka to laugh merrily.
Ryouga sighed in relief as he finally saw the familiar gates of the Tendou Dojo. After waking up in that storeroom, how he wound up in there was still a mystery to him, it had taken him almost the entire day to find Akane's home. He was just thankful he didn't end up in Okinawa or Hokkaido while looking for it. Ryouga kept his eyes firmly on the gates as he approached carefully lest he get lost so close to his objective.
Oh, Akane, finally I'll be able to see your sweet smile again. The thought of seeing you once more was the only thing that kept me warm all those lonely and cold nights.
Ryouga walked to the gate and leaped over the wall.
Hmmm. Seems a bit quiet for a change.
He fixed his eyes on the house and walked towards it.
That's strange. All the lights are out.
He walked to the porch and called out.
"Akane? Ranma? Kasumi? Nabiki? Mr. Tendou? Mr. Saotome?"
No one answered. Hmmm, looks like nobody's home. Oh, well. I'll just wait right here for Akane to come home. No sense going out and getting myself lost. Ryouga took out the souvenirs he collected for Akane and then stashed his backpack in one corner under the house. He put the gifts on the porch facing the pond before jumping into the body of water. After hiding his clothes P-Chan proceeded to wait patiently on the porch besides the souvenirs for his beloved to return.
"Here we are." Nodoka announced as she stopped in front of a store. "I'm sure we'll be able to purchase your school uniforms here." She was followed into the shop by the rest of the girls. Ranma trailed lazily behind, his hands behind his head. They've only been out for fifteen minutes so he wasn't impatient yet.
A saleslady approached the group with a smile and a bow. "Good afternoon. How may I help you?" She asked Nodoka who was at the front.
Ranma's mother returned the bow. "Ah, yes. Do you have Furinkan High School uniforms, miss?"
"Girl's or boy's uniform, ma'am?"
"Girl's uniforms, please."
Saleslady looked thoughtful. "Yes. I believe so. Please wait a moment while I check."
After a couple of minutes the salesclerk returned with a pleased smile. "Yes, we do have those in stock." She looked over the six young women. "Who shall the uniforms be for, ma'am?"
Nodoka called the two girls who needed them. "Shampoo, Ucchan." She waited for the two youths to come forward. "Can you assist these two girls, miss? The school uniforms are for them."
"Of course." The saleslady said with a genuine smile, happy at the propect of making some sales. Her eyes measured the two girls with practiced ease. "I'm sure we have some in their sizes. Come with me please." She led the two girls to the back of the store leaving the rest of the group to fend for themselves. Ranma left the group of women and began to browse the store on his own.
Man, the skirts on some of these school uniforms are way too short. I pity the girls wearin' these when the old perv gets his hands on them. Happosai doesn't even hafta flip their skirts ta see their panties. He thought as he went around the store. And doesn't it get a little drafty wearin' these? It hardly reaches halfway to the knees! He asked himself as he held up one of the short skirts, a light green one with darker stripes. I'd never let my girl form get caught dead wearin' one of these. He put down the skirt and picked up another one, wrinkling his nose in distaste.
Kodachi looked at the two departing girls, especially the Amazon. She made up her mind and went to Nodoka's side. "Auntie, do you think it would be a wise if I were to transfer to Furinkan as well?" Sounds of someone stumbling to the floor were heard from one side, attracting the attention of everyone.
Ranma quickly stood up and smiled sheepishly while scratching his head. "Hehe. Sorry 'bout that." He began to listen closely yo the conversation between his mother and Kodachi.
"Ranma, please be careful." Nodoka said before noticing what what was hanging onto his hand that was doing the scratching. "Son, when I said you should buy some new clothes I was thinking of something more masculine than what you have in your hand."
"Eh? What are you talkin' 'bout, mom?"The boy asked completely forgetting about the article of clothing he was inspecting just before he fell down.
"I'm talking about the skirt you're holding in your right hand."
"Eh?" Ranma asked again as he brought his right hand in front of his face. "Ack!" He quickly swatted the skirt away.
"But then, I suppose your girl form does need some clothes also. Your appearance when you got home yesterday from school was absolutely scandalous. The way your wet shirt was sticking to your chest..." Nodoka shook her head. "It was obvious you weren't wearing a bra."
"Although I think blue is more your color when you're a girl. It brings out your hair color." Akane, Kasumi, Kodachi and Nabiki giggled beside her. "We'll also have to think about matching blouse, socks, shoes and accessories." She began looking at various racks.
Ranma reddened. He was just glad no one else was within hearing distance. He didn't want to know what they would think. Their neighbors were already calling him the neighborhood pervert. He definitely didn't want them to call him a cross dresser as well.
Nabiki held up a matching frilly panty and bra with strawberry patterns. "Don't forget about underwear, Auntie. It'd ruin the outfit if Ranma wore boxers underneath."
"Of course, Nabiki."
"How about make-up, Auntie?" Kodachi suggested pointing towards a display case.
"That, too, but not too much. My son is beautiful as she is already."
"Har! Har! Very funny!" The red-faced boy stomped off in the direction of the men's section of the store to sulk by his lonesome.
Ranma's mother wiped a tear from a corner of one eye and watched in merriment as her son sulked among the boy's uniforms before returning her attention to the Kunou daughter. She smiled. "I think it's a wonderful idea if you were to transfer to Furinkan, Dachi-chan."
"Of course! It'll allow you to spend more time with my son and the girls. I just know you'll all have a wonderful time together. Isn't that so, Akane? Nabiki? Kasumi?" Nodoka asked the remaining girls.
"Ah..." Akane and Nabiki said in tandem, trying to find a polite way to say 'no'.
"Of course, Auntie." Kasumi was supportive as always.
Ranma stopped sulking and grimaced. He just knew if Kodachi transferred it would mean more trouble for him.
"What do you think, Ranma?" The Saotome matriarch asked.
A glance at the gymnast showed her looking at him waiting eagerly for his approval.
"Ranma?" His mother repeated when the boy didn't seem to hear her question.
Ranma sighed. He knew his mother meant well, not just for him but for the girls as well and he could already see the positive effects of her influence not only on the gymnast but on all the girls. He grimaced. Why do I keep thinking negatively? Maybe it won't be so bad. What's one more girl? "Um, sure, mom. Why not?" Thunder rolled in the distance. He was rewarded by the look of gratitude and smile Kodachi directed at him. He saw his mother nod her thanks.
"See? Now if you're going to transfer, Dachi, you'll also need uniforms."
"Let's find Shampoo and Ucchan so you can all get uniforms."
"Of course, Auntie."
"Where's the park ya were tellin' me 'bout where I can train?"
"Oh. The park's a few blocks away down this street, son. It's a large park so you can't miss it." She gave some directions. "We'll pass by when we're finished here. We shouldn't take more than an hour or so."
"Okay, mom. See ya guys later then." Ranma said as he exited the shop.
Mousse had a limp as he trudged stiffly into the empty Nekohanten. His body hurt all over after the unexpected beating the cursed Saotome had given him that morning. He grimaced as another stab of pain shot through his body.
Damn that Saotome! He didn't need to slam me that hard that many times into the ground. Or throw me all the way across Tokyo. The Chinese boy grimaced again, this time for his wounded pride. Although the worst part is how easy he got rid of me. He was a girl at the time, too! Can't believe he's that good.
Must have caught Saotome on a bad day. Hmmm, come to think of it, he was a girl at the time. Maybe it's that time of the month for him, er, her, er, whatever. The part-time duck shivered in disgust. Shampoo sure gets cranky when it's her time.
I'm glad I just turn into a duck. At least I don't have to worry about those things. Hmmm... I wonder if female ducks also have that time of the month? Mousse shook his head to clear it of that silly thought.
He didn't bother calling out as he stepped inside since it would only bring the dried up monkey down on his case for "slacking off" the entire day. He was on his way to the bathroom to soak his aching body in a warm bath when it registered in his mind that the restaurant was unnaturally quiet and dark. He brought out an extra pair of eyeglasses from inside his robes.
Eh? What's going on here? Why is the Nekohanten closed? And where are Shampoo and Cologne?
"Shampoo?" When no one answered he tried again. "Shampoo?" He braced himself and tried calling for Cologne. "Dried up old monkey?" When no blunt object hit his head he opened his eyes and searched through the shop. He found no one.
That's strange. I wonder where they went? Oh, well. I'll learn soon enough. Right now I need a warm bath.
Mousse limped into the bathroom.
Ranma walked quietly along the fence tops with his hands in his pockets towards the park as he reflected on the changes in his life the last three days, oblivious to the stares he was getting from the other pedestrians. He made a casual jump to the top of a street light then to the post of a stoplight as he crossed an intersection. The people waiting for the 'walk' sign to turn green gaped at him.
Has it really only been three days since mom found us?
In that small amount of time his life had changed drastically and, he had to admit, mostly for the better. Well, mom can be a bit weird with her sense of humor but what parent isn't weird in some way? Especially in his relationships with the girls in his life. He liked very much the way Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou were getting along compared to just the day before. It made his day-to-day existence much easier. No more poundings or overly enthusiastic glomps.
Actually he didn't really mind the girls glomping him per se. Hell, what guy wouldn't want a cute girl to be affectionate with him? Ranma remembered the first time Shampoo kissed him on the cheek after he beat her. He would swear he distinctly remember seeing flowers then. Of course the effect was ruined once he learned it was a "Kiss of Death." Then there was that time she first called him "Airen." She was so cute, never mind sexy as hell, whenever she gave him those puppy dog eyes he had trouble thinking straight. If it wasn't for Akane and their engagement, he might have succumbed to her charms that day.
No, it wasn't the glomps he didn't like. Rather it was because of the jealousies the action elicited in other people that he didn't like the girls being too affectionate with him and him not being affectionate to them in return. Every time one of the girls was getting intimate with him, or the other way around, the other girls and the particular girl's suitors would take exception to it. Thankfully, now those that took exception was cut in half and the half that still took exception he had no problems hitting. And truthfully speaking, he kind of looked forward to getting to know the girls more and getting more, ahem, friendly with them.
Ranma smiled as he remembered the kisses Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou gave him that morning with a slight blush. It more than made up the hassles he endured just before. I wonder if kissing would feel different if I'm the one who kissed instead of the one being kissed. He blinked and reddened. Where did that come from? He shook his head as he returned to his original thoughts. Not that he found the idea repulsive, just that he didn't think he was ready to take that step yet. One step at a time, Ranma. But I definitely wouldn't mind finding out later.
Aside from his life, he could see that his mother was having a good effect on the girls. They seem much calmer than before, especially around each other, and he was glad for it, not only because it made his life much easier. He had the feeling his fiancées were generally happier than before his mother arrived.
What is it about mom?
It certainly was a mystery to him, the thought that the changes in him played a large part in making his fiancées happy didn't cross his mind. But, mystery or not, he hoped the ways things were going continued.
I guess I shouldn't be so negative 'bout everything, especially 'bout the girls, for starters. Being negative ain't goona help any. Yeah, that's it. I'll stop being so negative.
He flipped to the ground as he reached the park. He looked around.
Nice place. More than enough room and not too many people. He blinked as he saw something. Now why would anyone make a slide look like a penguin? He shrugged. None of my business. He started stretching as he searched for a place to train. Maybe doing a few katas will help me relax a little more before mom and the girls arrive. Ah, that looks like a good spot. He quickly jogged to the area and began his stretching exercises in earnest, his movements crisper than before as he never felt this worry-free since arriving in Nerima.
"So, where do you girls want to go next?" Nodoka asked as they exited the shop where they bought the school uniforms.
All the girls shrugged.
"Why don't we just walk around the shops, Nodoka?" Cologne suggested. "I am sure the girls will see something to their liking sooner or later."
"Oh. Well, then, there are lots of nice shops around, Elder. We can window shop as we walk to the park where Ranma is waiting." All the girls nodded their heads in agreement.
After warming up by doing some basic katas Ranma looked around the open field and nodded as he saw the nearest person a good hundred meters away. Hmmm... guess now's a good time as any to practice that disappearance technique of the old freak. Our date's only a couple of days away. He closed his eyes and settled into a relaxed stance, his feet shoulder-width apart and hands clasped together in front of his chest as if praying as he concentrated on diffusing his essence to blend with his surroundings the way Happosai taught him.
Man, this is stupid. How am I gonna know if I'm invisible or not already? Ranma thought after several minutes. He cracked one eye open and surveyed his surroundings, noting the passers-by. Well, I suppose I could stand in front of the people walking and see if they're gonna avoid me. Worth a shot. He began walking towards one of the short bridges he saw crossing the small stream cutting through the park and into a small lake and stood right in the center of the wooden structure.
Kodachi looked into a shop window as she went along on the little shopping trip, the two bags containing her new school uniforms held in her left hand. So far the trip had gone without incident but of the group, only Ranma's mother had bothered to speak with her. She sighed. She knew it wouldn't be easy being friends but what was bothering her was that with her lack of experience making and having friends she had little to no idea on how to proceed being friends with the other girls.
She was thus a little startled when she suddenly heard a voice beside her asking a question that belonged to a different person than Mrs. Saotome. "Pardon me?" She asked while turning to face the speaker.
"Oh, I'm sorry if I surprised you, Kunou-san." Kasumi apologized.
"It's nothing to apologize for, Tendou-san. And, um, please call me Kodachi." The gymnast said a bit awkwardly, unsure on what to do next.
The nineteen year old girl smiled warmly. "Of course, I would be happy to and please call me Kasumi."
Kodachi smiled in return. "I would very much like that, Kasumi." The two girls returned their attention to the display window which showed various cakes and pastries.
"They look delicious."
"Indeed. The chef must be complimented for their exquisite presentation."
"Oh, do the two of you like baking?" The Saotome matriarch asked over their shoulders when she noticed what they were talking about. The three were soon joined by the rest.
"Why, yes, Auntie." Kasumi answered while Kodachi nodded.
Nodoka clapped her hands in delight. "That's wonderful! Well, why don't we do some baking this weekend during the slumber party?"
"Slumber party, Auntie?" Tatewaki's sister asked.
"Oh! I forgot to mention it to you, Dachi-chan, but we are having a little slumber party at my home this weekend. You're invited, of course."
Kodachi smiled and bowed. "Thank you, Auntie, and I accept your invitation."
"So, Dachi, what do you like to bake most?"
The gynnast answered animatedly, baking being one of her favorite pastimes. "Cookies, Auntie! They are such a pleasure to bake and with so many varieties one is assured of never a dull moment. One's creativity is only limited by one's imagination. Although I would like to try baking brownies. They are almost as varied as cookies."
The conversation was soon joined by the rest, cooking and food being a common interest.
To one side, Nodoka smiled as the conversation became more animated, pleased that the girls were finally warming to one another. I knew this shopping trip was a good idea.
Ranma raised an eyebrow as he wondered why he suddenly had the urge to drool as he waited patiently in the middle of the bridge for the first pedestrian to cross. He sniffed the air. Is it my imagination or can I smell cookies and brownies? Yum. He shook the silly notion away and returned his concentartion to staying invisible. He didn't have long to wait to be disappointed as a group of elementary school boys stepped around past him, obviously aware of his presence.
Well, that's a bust. He scratched his head. Wonder what I'm doing wrong? Ranma tried to recall exactly the instructions Happosai gave him as he walked back to his chosen training area. I know I did it the way the old lech said how to do it. Oh, well. Got some time to kill anyway. He thought as he assumed the relaxed position again. I'm gonna get it right sooner or later. Hopefully sooner.
The group of women turned from the display window of another bakeshop when they heard someone clearing his throat behind them to see a half dozen high school boys standing behind them.
"Yes? May we help you, young man?" Nodoka asked in behalf of her group as they faced the boys.
"Um, well, ma'am," The speaker answered a bit nervously. "Me and my friends were wondering if you would like to have some refreshments with us." His friends shuffled their feet. "Uh, our treat of course." The high-schooler indicated the bakeshop the girls were looking in at. He put down a package he was carrying and leaned it against Cologne who stood beside the doorway.
"Ow!" He clutched the top of his head, looked at what hit him and his eyes bugged out. "The gnome statue moved!"
"Cool! It's one of those new robotic statues!" A second boy exclaimed.
"Who are you calling a statue, boy?" Cologne snapped at the two teenagers who were now sprawled on their backs on the sidewalk.
"Wow! It even talks!" Another boy remarked as the four remaining male teenagers standing peered closer.
Bop! Bop! Bop! Bop!
"Hmmm... I wonder if that response is programmed in..." A studious type with glasses and freckles asked as he rubbed the bump growing on his head.
A second bump started growing.
"Doesn't any of you boys have any respect for your elders!" Cologne was getting miffed.
Nodoka finally decided to intervene in the misunderstanding before any of the young men received a concussion. "I'm sorry, boys, but she isn't a statue. She is Elder Cologne." Cologned hopped onto her cane, pulled herself up to her full height, trying to look imposing without using her battle aura, and glared down on the six sprawled teenagers.
"You mean it's a real person, ma'am? That ugly thing?"
Bop! Bop! Bop! Bop! Bop! Bop!
Nodoka sighed. "Yes, I'm sure Elder Cologne is not a statue and I think it would be in your best interest for you boys to apologize properly." She watched the boys bow their apologies then turned to the young girls with her. "Now, girls, what do you think of these young men's offer?"
"I don't know, Auntie. We don't know them." Akane answered.
"Um, that's why we're offering to treat you girls to some refreshments, so we can get to know one another. I'm sure once you get to know us, you'll realize we're all nice guys." They put on their best smiles. They haven't seen this many cute girls in one group since that time they went to Juuban for a basketball game. Three, including the first girl that had spoken, even had passing resemblances to two of the girls in Juuban.
"It's nice of you to offer but Ranchan's waiting for us." The second girl with a passing resemblance said. The other girls nodded.
"Ranchan? Who's that? Your boyfriend?"
"He's my fiancé actually."
"Oh." That was too bad. The girl was seriously cute. "Well, how about you?" They turned to the first girl that spoke.
"Um, sorry. He's my fiancé also." Akane answered.
The boys blinked several times before looking at one another. "Excuse me but I think we heard you wrong. Did you say her fiancé..." The studious one pointed to Ukyou. "...is also your fiancé?"
Akane smiled. "Yes." She answered brightly.
The boys blinked again as their brains stuttered, having some difficulty grasping the concept of two obviously cute girls having the same fiancé and obviously being happy about it. Heck, the two even knew one another and were out shopping together!
"Ho-kay..." They decided to shelve thinking about it for the moment and turned to the purple haired bombshell.
Shampoo interrupted them before they could open their mouths. She had absolutely no intention of going out with any of them. Best to make that clear as daylight. "He's my Airen." She said firmly.
"It means husband in Japanese. He's my husband."
That did it. The group of boys began to keel over to one side like a sinking ship.
"Waitaminute!" With a supreme effort the gang of boys shook themselves out of their shock. "You girls have got to be kidding us!"
Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou shook their heads.
"Oh, I see. I get it now." The studious type declared as he had an epiphany. "All right, where's the camera?" He looked around.
"Camera?" Kasumi innocently replied.
"You know, the video camera. You're all actresses and this is one of those hidden camera shows, right?" His friends Ah'd as understanding dawned and nodded. No wonder they were all cute.
Kasumi became flustered. "I don't know what you mean."
"Oh, come on! You don't expect us to believe that her husband..." The boy pointed to Shampoo. "... is the same guy as their fiancé!" He waved in the direction of Akane and Ukyou. His friends nodded again.
"Oh, my. Why not?"
The return question made the boys blink and pause. It was said with such sincerity that it broke through their disbelief. "You're serious? This isn't some hidden camera show?"
"Why, yes. And no."
The boys began to keel over again. "What about you? And her? And her?" He pointed to Kodachi and Nabiki. "You can't all be fiancées or wives of the same guy!"
Kasumi blushed brightly and looked down demurely. "Well, no..."
"Thank God! So... "
"... but I am hoping he'd let me be."
The boys blinked again. "What?" The shocks were making them numb.
Nodoka finally intervened. "Boys, I think what the girls are saying is that they thank you and are flattered for your interest in them but they must decline your offer." She just couldn't bear watching anymore. Much as it was filling her with pride over her son, the looks on the boys' faces were too painful to see. They were like puppies being kicked. Between the legs. Several times. By mules. On steroids.
"But, but, but..." How could the world be so cruel?
Nodoka bowed politely. "Again, thank you for your kind offer but we must be going." She turned and left the sputtering boys followed by her shopping companions.
Ranma went to bridge again after several more minutes of concentration. He was frustrated like his first attempt when a housewife going home after buying groceries sidestepped him completely. He stomped back to his chosen spot.
Argh! It can't be that hard! Now think, Ranma! How the hell did the old lech do it?
"Uuurrrggghhh!" Soun groaned out as he began to regain consciousness. He immediately regretted waking up as it felt like a dozen wrecking balls were slamming into his head. That's the last time I drink that much alcohol. He took some time to allow himself to adjust to the pain. He took deep breaths as he prepared to open his eyes. He knew from experience that opening one's eyes while one had a hangover was never an enjoyable experience. He gritted his teeth before opening his eyes. Soun blinked as he stared up at a clear sky.
Now where am I? Last thing I remember was me and Saotome... what were we doing? He asked himself as he raised his head. Big mistake moving his head, the wrecking balls returned to demolish what was left of his brain. He lowered his head gingerly. Maybe I'll just go back to sleep right here and hope I die before I wake up again.
Sakura together with Tomoyo, Chiharu, Naoko and Rika were walking through the park on their way from school to see the new toy store that just opened that day, Twin Bells, when they saw a boy several years older than them crossing the bridge ahead suddenly fall down on his posterior. Sakura quickly hurried towards the fallen teenager when he didn't immediately stand up.
"Are you all right?" She asked the boy who was looking around in puzzlement.
"Huh?" The boy answered as he looked up.
"I asked if you're okay? You fell down pretty hard."
"Oh." The boy with no name stood up and dusted his clothes. "I'm okay, just a bit surprised. I could have sworn I bumped into something." He picked up his book bag and scratched his head as he looked around. "You didn't by any chance see something in front of me just now, did you?"
"Um, no. Sorry"
The boy waved his right hand in front of him like he was feeling for something. "It's all right. No need to apologize. Anyway, thanks for helping me up. You girls should get home. It's getting late. Your parents might worry." He said to Sakura's friends who gathered behind her.
"You're welcome and we will after we see that new toy store."
"Okay. Thanks again and I'll just be on my way."
The girls watched the boy walk away, all the while holding out his left hand like a blind man.
"He's a bit strange, isn't he?" Tomoyo observed, causing her companions to giggle.
"Yes, he is. Anyway we should go, too." Sakura said and quintet of elementary school girls continued on their way. Along the way, Sakura glanced back. She couldn't shake the feeling there was something there on the bridge. Oh, I hope it's not a ghost!
Yes! Yes! Yes! Ranma thought to himself as celebrated his apparent success at doing the technique on his third try. He wasn't detected by any of the people around. Of course, he knew the real test would come when he used it against trained martial artists but he had five unsuspecting test subjects coming up. He grinned. Ooohhh... I'm gonna have fun, fun, fun!
"I wonder where my son is?" Nodoka asked as she craned her neck to look around the park she directed Ranma to. Cologne was about to point to a crowd when Nabiki suddenly yelped.
"Yeow!" Cried the mercenary as she jumped nearly a meter.
"What's wrong, Nabiki?" Nodoka asked in surprise and worry.
"Somebody just poked me in the ribs." Nabiki rubbed the spot. She glared at four girls in particular. "All right, which of you jokers did it?" Akane, Kodachi, Shampoo and Ukyou looked at one another then shook their heads.
"Oh, come on. It had to be one of you. There's no one else around but us and I doubt Auntie, Cologne or Kasumi would do something like tha-Yeow!" Nabiki jumped. "There it is again!"
"Well, that just proved it wasn't one of us." Ukyou pointed out. "And what's with the reaction? Pretty wild for just a poke."
"She's ticklish there." Akane supplied.
Oh, really now... that's interesting. Payback time, Nabiki. An apparition thought in glee. Hmmm... I wonder where the ticklish spots of the others are. Oh, wait. I remember where Ucchan's was...
"Really?" Ukyou smirked.
"And I suppose you don't have a ticklish spot?" Nabiki asked in irritation as she continued to look around her.
"Me? Of course no...Yeek!" Ukyou leaped two meters into the air as she batted the air behind her left knee. "Somebody just touched the back of my knee!"
"No ticklish spots, huh?" Nabiki gloated. "Eep!" She jumped again and whirled. "What the hell's going on!"
Ranma was barely containing his laughter as he covered his mouth with his hands. Damn! This is so cool! It was taking all his concentration to keep himself invisible.
Cologne's eyes narrowed as she saw the air behind Nabiki shimmer for a moment just before she jumped. She focused her attention on the area. After a moment she smiled, impressed. So, having a little fun with your new technique, son-in-law? Well, let me help you a little then. "Ah, yes. I remember when Shampoo was younger. I used to tickle her endlessly behind her elbow."
"Oh, my. That's where Akane is ticklish also."
"Kasumi! How would you like it if I told everyone you're ticklish behind your neck?"
"Is it just me or... yeek! Ha! Ha! No! Stop! Ha! Ha! Whoever you are! Ha! Ha! Ha!" Nabiki pressed her upper arms tightly against her sides in a futile effort to stop the tickling. "I swear... Ha! Ha! When I learn... Hi! Hi! who you are... Ho! Ho! there'll be hell to pay! Ha! Ha!"
The other girls sweatdropped as they watched Nabiki swing her body from side to side frenetically. One by one they began to edge away. They thought they were safe when Nabiki stopped laughing. Her normally composed appearance looking frazzled. One by one they looked around them fearfully. Shampoo was the first to jump, then Akane, followed by Ukyou, Kodachi and Kasumi.
"Aiyah! Hihi! Stop! Haha! Please! Haha!"
"Argh! Stop! Haha! I'm gonna.. Hoho! Pound you! Hihi! No more! Please!"
"What on Earth is happening?" Kodachi asked as she spun around when she felt something touch her earlobe.
Cologne finally put a stop to Ranma's fun when Shampoo and Ukyou bumped into each they almost took a swing at the other girl. "All right, son-in-law. You've had enough fun with the girls. Now show yourself."
That stopped the girls cold in whatever they were doing. They turned around at the sound of chuckling in time to see the air glimmer for a moment right before Ranma materialized. The chuckling soon turned into full blown laughter.
"That was you! Ranma you jerk!"
"Oh, God, that was funny!" The boy managed to get out in between gasps for air as he continued to laugh so hard he was bent over with one hand on his knees and the other clutching his side. "You... you should have seen yourselves!" He wiped tears from both eyes.
"Why you..." Five girls advanced on the boy only to stare wide-eyed as Ranma disappeared again with a smirk.
"Uh-uh." The air around the girls said.
"How the heck do you do that!" Akane, Kodachi, Nabiki, Shampoo and Ukyou asked.
"Secret." Ranma replied teasingly.
"I am impressed, son-in-law." Cologne complimented from her staff. "Where did you learn such a technique?"
"The old lech showed it to me once. Ya remember that, right, Akane?"
"But you never mastered that technique!"
"Well, not then. I do now."
"I never knew Happi had such a technique." Cologne commented.
"Well, he created it so that he could peep without being seen. Kinda disgusting. It's one of the reasons I never really tried ta master it before. But now I'm seeing some real uses for it."
Indeed. Cologne thought as she shook her head. Trust Happosai to have such reasons to create secret techniques. "It is very effective, son-in-law. But show yourself first. It is very distracting to speak to thin air."
"Well, the girls hafta promise not ta hit me first."
"Why shouldn't we pound you, you jerk!"
"For one thing, I mastered this technique for our date on Friday so that I'll be ready for any jerk who tries to butt in and ruin it. I was just making sure it's effective against martial artists."
"Did you say you and the girls are going on a date, son?"
Date? Echoed Kodachi's mind.
"Oh, I'm so happy! My son is going on a date! Now if you need anything, son, don't hesitate to ask your mother. I'll help any way I can so you'll all have a great time! If you need money, just say so. I'll even have an extension card issued to you, son,"
Extension card? Echoed Nabiki's mind.
"so you don't have to worry. If you need advice on what to do, where to go, what to wear, which love hotel to go to..."
"It's just a date, mom! We ain't goin' to no love ho-, love ho-, that kinda place!" The boy's ears burned with embarrassment. He could not believe his mother was suggesting they go to... to... a place like that! He was just glad that he was invisible at the moment.
"Why not? I thought all teenagers go to love hotels nowadays. That's what the magazine I read said so."
"Because we're not ready yet!"
"Oh, that's remedied easily enough, Ranma. All you need to be ready is to always have a condom in yo..."
"MOM!" Ranma was absolutely mortified by now. His embarrassment almost causing him to lose concentration. My mom is such a pervert!
"That's not what I meant by not being ready!"
"Oh? It's not?"
"No! And we ain't going to no love ho-, love ho-, that kinda place on our date and that's final!"
"Oh, well. I suppose there are other things you can do on your date. Anyway if you need help..."
"I'll ask! I'll ask!" Don't wanna know what else mom is gonna suggest.
"So when is my son taking you girls out on your dates?"
"Uh, Ranchan's taking us out on Friday, Auntie.
"Us?" Echoed Ranma's mother.
"Um, hehe." Akane answered with some embarrassment. "You see, Auntie, it's the first time Ranma actually asked someone out on a date and we couldn't, um, decide on who goes first so we decided Ranma's going to take the three of us out on Friday."
"Oh, my. Then I suppose I should make sure my son is well rested then."
"We'd appreciate that, Auntie, since Ranchan's treating Kasumi out tomorrow and Nabiki the following day."
"Oh, my. I see my son has been busy asking girls out."
"Mom! I'm just treatin' Kasumi and Nabiki out ta thank 'em for puttin' up with me and pops. They ain't dates."
Oh, yes, they are if I'm any judge of women.
"You are taking all of them out, Ranma?" Kodachi asked in a forlorn voice.
Ranma flinched invisibly. He had totally forgotten about Kodachi. "Uh, um, well, ya know how it is, Dachi." He shuffled his feet awkwardly. He couldn't understand why the expression on the girl's face made him feel guilty. "I just thought it'd be a good way ta get ta know 'em more while showin' I do care 'bout 'em."
"I see." Kodachi turned away to hide the hurt and sadness she felt.
"It is all right, Ranma."
"Mom..." The boy looked helplessly at his mother, forgetting he was invisible at the moment, pleading for help, unsure what to do. Nodoka quickly moved to take the girl in hand, moving the two of them some distance away.
Kodachi quickly wiped the tears away. "I apologize for ruining the mood, Auntie, but I can not help it."
Nodoka hugged the distraught girl to her bosom. "It's all right, Dachi. You do not need to apologize. I am sure you did not meant it as I am sure my son did not meant to hurt you."
"I know, Auntie, but it hurts nonetheless. It hurts so much when I see the others so happy."
"Ssshhh... do not think like that, Dachi. It will only cause you more pain."
"I know, Auntie, but..." Kodachi began sobbing into the older's woman's arms.
"Be strong, Dachi." Ranma's mother soothed. "You have chosen a difficult path for yourself. While others will simply settle for something else you have chosen to pursue your dream. I cannot assure you will have a happy ending but I will always be there for you, Dachi. I will walk the path with you."
"Thank you, Auntie. Thank you."
Ranma winked into view, shoulders slumped a little. "Oh, man. I never wanted that to happen." He said as he looked to where his mother was comforting Kodachi. He sighed deeply. But what can I do? I can't take her out. That's just askin' for trouble.
"Yeah, what is it, Kasumi?"
"It bothers you to see Kodachi this way?"
The boy sighed again. "I just don't know what ta do, Kasumi. I don't wanna hurt her but I can't be what she wants me ta be. It wouldn't be fair to her, Akane, Shampoo or Ucchan." He glanced at his three fiancées.
"Kasumi, each of them deserves to have a guy of their own. All their own. Someone who'll treat 'em right. Someone who'll make 'em happy. Not someone like me who has too many commitments he doesn't know what ta do. Don't get me wrong, Kasumi, I do like the attention. Heck, what guy wouldn't? But not like this."
"You're selling yourself short, Saotome. Seems to me you know exactly just how to treat girls right."
"Huh? What d'ya mean by that, Nabiki?"
"Ranma, do you think Akane, Kodachi, Shampoo or Ukyou would go to all these lengths for you if they thought you didn't treat them right? Oh, sure, you can be a real jerk at times but not when it really counts."
"Gee, thanks, Nabiki. That really made me feel much better." Ranma sarcastically replied before slumping again. "I dunno. Mebbe they're just doin' it for the engagements and honor stuff."
"Was it somethin' I said?" Ranma groaned out from where he was lying on the ground.
Nabiki shook her head. "You're a stubborn one, Saotome." She said as she helped Kasumi remove a mallet, two bonboris and a park bench, Ukyou using it in lieu of her battle spatula which she left at home, from the boy's prone body. "Maybe partly yes but they have more than enough suitors to satisfy their honor, Saotome. For them," She glanced at where the three girls were standing with their arms crossed and frowning. "honor isn't the reason they're chasing after you anymore. Definitely not for Kodachi. You are."
"I don't know whether to love you or hate you for your cluelessness, Saotome."
Nabiki sighed in exasperation. "You take it from here, Kasumi. You have more patience than I do and I'm about to pull my hair out." She went to stand with the other girls.
Kasumi helped Ranma up to his feet.
"Ranma, I think what Nabiki was trying to say is that the girls want to be with you and not just because of honor or the engagements. They are still part of the reason but they're no longer the most important reason."
The pig-tailed martial artist sighed again. "Still doesn't change the fact they deserve better than what I can give, Kasumi."
"Perhaps, but why don't you let them decide if that would be enough for them, Ranma? Maybe you'll be surprised on what they decide."
"But what do I do 'bout Dachi?"
Kasumi looked down. "I do not have the answer to that, Ranma. I'm sorry." She received a wry smile.
"No need ta apologize, Kasumi. It ain't your fault. It's ain't nobody's fault." Then why do I still feel like a total wretch?
"Airen looks very troubled."
"Three guesses as to the reason why, sugar."
"Kodachi looks like she's crying." Akane frowned. While the four of them did not have the best of relationships none of them like seeing the others getting hurt as well.
Nabiki simply stood beside them knowing whatever happened Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou must come to the decision on their own. She had her own opinion on the matter of Kodachi but at this point the three girls were the ones Ranma would think of the most.
"I never thought I'd ever see that."
The three sighed. They did not want to add another girl, God knows there were enough, but... they couldn't help but feel some sympathy for their rival and Kodachi had been pretty nice throughout the whole afternoon... maybe if Ranma took the girl out also, it'd cheer her up? It's not like she was going to be another fiancée, right?
Yeah, right. Who the hell were they kidding?
"So..." Ukyou began reluctantly.
"So..." Akane followed even more reluctantly.
"So..." Shampoo repeated most reluctantly.
It was a case of being stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Nabiki tried not to look too interested as she listened in. Nevertheless she couldn't stop herself from leaning in to hear better. Whatever the three decided will have an affect on her own future.
Come on! Come on! Nabiki thought impatiently. Make up your minds already!
"I don't like it."
Nabiki was now leaning over to her right almost at a forty-five degree angle from vertical. It seemed the three were close to a decision and she wanted to hear their decision clearly.
What! What! Don't keep me hanging!
"Oh, look! They're coming back!" Ukyou exclaimed excitedly when she saw Nodoka and Kodachi turn back towards them. As one, the three fiancées gave out a relieved sigh at the distraction.
"Well, let's not keep them waiting!" Akane suggested happily to her fellow fiancées which was quickly followed by Ukyou and Shampoo. The three blightly ingnored the girl currently planting her face behind them.
Oh, well. Can't really say I can blame them. Nabiki thought as she regained her composure. I mean, what were they supposed to say? Welcome to the club? It's damned if they do, damned if they don't for them. But sooner or later Ranma and they'll have to decide what to do with Kodachi.
Nodoka looked up to see Kasumi standing a polite distance away. Ranma and the others standing behind her. Their expressions of concern lifting her spirit. "Yes, dear?"
"Is Kodachi all right?"
"I am, Kasumi. Thank you for your concern and I apologize for my behavior." Kodachi wiped the last of her tears away and smiled weakly. "Shall we continue?"
Cologne pogoed over to Ranma, returning to what she wanted to ask of the boy before the matter of the date was brought up. "So, son-in-law, are you willing to teach this technique to others? I wish to learn of it."
"Hmmm? Well, I suppose but I haven't perfected it yet. Ya could still detect me, Cologne."
"Not very well, son-in-law. It is unlike the usual invisibility technique where one masks his aura. Another martial artist trained enough can detect the mask thus defeating the technique. Happosai's technique seems to make one blend into the surroundings making detection much more difficult." Cologne sighed. Such a waste of talent.
"Then how were you able ta detect me?"
"The air shimmered every time you toyed with the girls. It gave me short glimpses of your aura."
"Oh, that figures. Happosai did create this technique for peeping so you basically can't do anything but stand around. I'm still figuring out a way so I can fight while staying invisible."
That made Cologne arch an eyebrow. "If you do that, son-in-law, then you would have created a very powerful technique." A technique even my fellow Elders will have trouble with. She did not say out loud. Son-in-law is truly gifted if he accomplishes that.
Ranma preened for his benefit, back to his usual self. "I do try to do my best, y'know." The girls just rolled their eyes.
"Well, now that your training has been taken care of, son, you can come with us shopping so we can buy you some new clothes for your date. We still have some time before having to go home."
"Eep!" Ranma began using his latest technique to escape going with them.
A stern "Don't you dare use that on me, young man." stopped him cold.
Oh, man. Why did I ever let mom talk me into goin' shoppin' with 'em? Ranma whined to himself as he massaged the soles of his aching feet. What is it about women and shoppin'? Did they hafta see every freakin' thing in every freakin' store in town? He grimaced as he straightened up. Man, my feet are killin' me! I'd take trainin' trips over shoppin' trips anytime! He sighed as sensation seem to finally return to his feet. At least the girls seem to be gettin' along fine with one another. Thank God Kodachi's smiling again. He was glad for that. He never liked seeing a girl in distress. The memory of the girls laughing and talking as he tagged along behind them brought a smile to his lips. He wouldn't go so far and say they were like old friends but... it was definitely better than before. Maybe this shoppin' trip isn't a total waste of time after all.
Well, might as well get this over with. He looked at himself in the mirror inside the dressing room wearing the white tuxedo he had picked out for himself after his mother insisted he buy one. Wearing a black tuxedo seemed so ordinary so he picked white. It wasn't something he would normally wear but with three fiancées he knew he'd probably need one soon so he let his mom lead him to this store. He gave himself another once over and smirked. I make this look good if I do say so myself.
Nodoka poked her head into the dressing room. "Ranma?"
"Mom! Don't ya know how ta knock! What if I didn't have any clothes on!"
"Well, I would have taken a picture then." His mother replied without batting an eyelash. "I'm sure your fiancées would appreciate a photograph or two of their fiancé in the buff." Nodoka ignored the indignant look her son gave her as she came into the dressing room. "Hmmm... that looks very nice on you. You look very handsome and dashing like that James Bond character. Now that was a man. The way he could please all the women..." Nodoka's eyes glazed over as she lost herself in some fantasy. Ranma sweatdropped until his mother shook herself out of whatever dreamworld she went off into. "I don't supposed you've seen any James Bond movies, have you, Ranma?"
The boy noted the look his mother had and quickly shook his head. I don't think I'd want to.
"Oh, well. I'll have to remember to show one to you one of these days. I think you'll find them very educational. Anyway, come out so the girls can see you."
"Aw, mom! Do I have to?"
"Well, no, but don't you want the girls to see you in such nice clothes for a change? I'm sure they would love to see you wearing that tuxedo."
The boy grumbled, "My clothes are just fine.", under his breath but allowed his mother to pull him out of the fitting room by the arm. Well, it could be worse I guess. At least she isn't buying me girl's clothes. That would really suck. Ominous rolling of thunder.
The girls all stopped their chatter when they noticed mother and son exiting the changing room. All blushed at the boy's new look.
"Well, girls, what do you think? Isn't my son so handsome and dashing in a tuxedo? Isn't he so manly?" Nodoka grinned at the looks the girls had on their faces. It ranged from the demure flushing of Kasumi to the hungry look on Nabiki and Shampoo. I'll take those as a yes.
Ranma rolled his eyes at his mother's words. Sheesh.
"Girls?" Nodoka asked when none answered after several seconds.
Nabiki was the first to snap out of the trance. She reddened some more when she realized she had been staring. She licked her lips. "Wow! Who's the hunk, Auntie?" She said in jest to get her mind working again, breaking the other girls from their own daze and making them giggle. I'm going to make sure he wears that on our date.
"Ha. Ha. You're a real comedienne, Nabiki."
"You know me?"
"I already laughed so cut the jokes, Nabiki."
Nodoka smiled. It was so nice to see the teenagers being so at ease with one another. "So girls, how do you like my son's new look?"
"Um, it looks really good on him, Auntie." Ukyou answered. The other girls murmured their consent making Ranma smirk.
The boy preened once more. "Yeah, I thought so, too, Ucchan. I do make this look good. Whoever made this oughta pay me." Everyone rolled their eyes as Ranma looked at his mother. "Can I take it off now?"
"Of course." Nodoka replied and looked at the saleslady attending to them. "We'll take that one and the two formal kimonos."
The saleslady smiled beatifically. "Of course, ma'am."
"Now let's see about getting you some casual clothes, Ranma. Perhaps some shirts and pants."
"Sasuke!" Kuno called out as he sat meditating in his room in their home. Now how shall I re-arrange the pictures of my loves such that they do not compete for my attention?
"Yes, master Tatewaki?" The diminutive ninja appeared out of thin air.
"Have you the information I require?"
"Of course, master Tatewaki." Sasuke groaned inwardly. He knew nothing good for him would come out of his master's newest obsession especially in light of what he overheard that afternoon in the woman-in- question's house. He reluctantly placed a manila envelope into the eager hands of Tatewaki Kuno. I really should request for hazard pay.
The young master of House Kuno immediately ripped open the envelope. "Aaahhh! My love." Kuno sighed at seeing a photograph of Ranma's mother practicing her sword swings, sweat glistening on brows furrowed in concentration. "Such fierceness in her eyes! Such dedication! Truly one worthy of myself." After admiring the picture for several minutes Kuno reverently placed it down on the floor and extracted the accompanying paper from the envelope. The photograph would be enlarged later to poster size and hung alongside the photos of his other beloveds.
"So her name is Nodoka?"
Sasuke nodded his head.
"And this is her place of residence?"
The ninja nodded again.
Kuno clapped his hands together, pleased with his lackey. "Good! You have done well, Sasuke. Leave me! I feel the need to meditate."
"Yes, Master Tatewaki."
Once the ninja was gone, Kunou proceeded to drool all over the picture of Ranma's mother.
Nodoka suddenly paused on their way back to her home and shivered violently.
"Mom? Anythin' the matter?" Ranma asked when he noticed his mother's hesitaion.
"I don't know why but I suddenly felt a very ominous feeling come over me." She didn't say she also felt the urge to scrub herself clean very thoroughly, possibly using a sand blaster.
"Oh, my. Are you feeling ill, Auntie?" Expressions of concern and dismay came from the various girls gathered around her.
The woman shook her head. "I do not think so, Kasumi dear." She smiled at the girls. "Thank you all for your concern. You're all such sweet girls. It made me feel much better already. But really, it's nothing."
Ranma continued to look worriedly at her.
"Really, Ranma, I'm fine. You don't have to worry your pretty little head." She patted the boy playfully on the head causing her son to flush in embarassment.
"Aw, mom, stop that! I'm not a little boy anymore, mom!"
"You'll always be my little boy, Ranma." She continued to pat his head causing the girls to giggle.
Ranma sighed and suffered the indignity in silence and waited until his mother tired of it. "I'd feel better if you went to see a doctor, mom. Better safe than sorry." The girls all nodded in agreement.
"Oh, you're overreacting, Ranma. It was just a feeling, nothing more."
"If I still feel the same tomorrow then I promise I'll go see a doctor, Ranma." Nodoka relented to reassure the worried teenagers with her. "Now why don't we go home so you girls can freshen up before going home?"
"Won't you stay for dinner?" Nodoka asked her guests as they sat around the table seeping drinks and eating snacks. Her son sat beside her stuffing his mouth as usual.
"Well, I don't know, Nodoka." Cologne replied. "There's so many of us."
"Oh, it's all right, Elder. I don't mind."
"Very well, if no one has any objections then I suppose we can stay for dinner." The elderly woman looked around, no one objected.
"Well, then, I should get started on preparing dinner then." Nodoka stood and turned towards the kitchen.
"Ah, would you like some help, Nodoka? You shouldn't overwork yourself." Cologne pogoed to catch up.
The woman smiled at the offer. "I would appreciate the company more, Elder."
"I can help, too, Auntie." Several voices chorused. Ranma shuddered when he saw Akane volunteering as well.
"Don't worry, Ranma. The others should be able to keep Akane from doing too much damage." Nabiki said to tease her sister when she noticed the shudder. Big mistake. The jibe attracted the attention of the boy's mother.
"What about you, Nabiki?" Nodoka asked over Akane's inidignation when she noted the middle Tendou sister wasn't making any moves towards the kitchen causing the girl to squirm a little.
"Ah..." Nabiki tried to think of a way to say being domestic just wasn't her thing without disappointing Ranma's mother too much. The older woman had been so nice to her, even buying her some clothes and accessories during the shopping trip. "I don't know how to cook, Auntie." She finally said weakly.
"Well, it's never too late to learn, Nabiki, and I'll be happy to teach you. As the saying goes, 'the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach' and I know one particular boy who really appreciates a good meal." The hostess said while moving towards Nabiki making the mercenary girl cringe and the others to snicker.
"But, but, but..." I can't cook! I don't want to cook! The seventeen year old girl stuttered in rising panic as she was led by a gentle but very firm hand to the small of her back to her doom. "Can't I just buy food that's already cooked? Or hire someone to cook for me? Please?"
"You could but a man appreciates it more when his meal is lovingly prepared for him. Isn't that right, Ranma?"
Ranma blinked. "Eh?" was his intelligent reply. Why ask me? Food is food, right? Well, maybe not where Akane's cooking is concerned.
"Tell me, son, which do you prefer, eating in a restaurant or eating at home?"
Ranma smiled. That was easy. "At home, of course."
"And why is that?"
Well, duh! "It's 'cause I can eat more since it's free. Well, unless someone's treating me at a restaurant." Was the happy reply, sure it was the right answer.
Nabiki barely stopped herself from smirking.
Nodoka, on the other hand, restrained herself from banging her head on the wall. Men! Trust them to come up with that kind of reason. She settled for rolling her eyes before recomposing herself. "That's good, son, but which is more delicious, meals lovingly prepared by these girls or those you buy in restaurants?"
"Which girls?" Ranma innocently asked causing Nabiki to snigger.
"Hey!" Akane protested.
"What do you mean, which girls, son?"
"Ah..." Ranma stalled as he realized he just put his foot into his mouth. Just how do I get myself into these things! It's gotta be a curse! "What I meant was.. uh... um..." He looked around for inspiration and got it when he spotted the living room clock. "Oh, look at the time! I have ta go and do my homework! See ya all at dinner!" Before the women could blink they heard the door to Ranma's room slam shut and the lock click close.
Nodoka shook her head. "Perhaps my son wasn't the best man to ask the question." She noted the crestfallen face of Akane. She quickly went to the girl's side, which Nabiki quickly took advantage of by scooting away and hiding behind the other girls, and put her arm around her shoulders as a show of support. "Akane, I'm sure my son did not mean to hurt your feelings."
The girl with dark blue hair sighed. "I know, Auntie, but I try so hard! Why can't I cook like them?" Akane waved her hands in the direction of her rivals. "They do it so well! But me... is there something wrong with me?"
"There, there, Akane. Would you like me to help?"
"Thank you, Auntie, I would really appreciate that but Kasumi already has tried so much to teach me how to cook..."
"Um, Auntie?" Shampoo raised her hand.
"I think I know why Akane can't cook very well." That earned her everyone's attention, especially Akane's.
"Yes, last night when we ate dinner at their home we helped Kasumi prepare it. I saw how Akane... cooks."
"And what do you think is her problem, Shampoo."
"It's not just one problem, Auntie. For one, she doesn't pay attention to what she's doing."
Ukyou nodded beside the younger of the two Amazons. "It's true, Auntie. We all saw how Akane cooks and it's not pretty. I don't think she even has the basics down."
"I see. Do the two of you think she can still learn?"
Shampoo and Ukyou bit their lower lips then slowly nodded. "I think so, Auntie, but it won't be easy." Shampoo finally answered.
"Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy." Nodoka put a finger to her chin. "Akane, do you really want to learn how to cook?" The girl questioned nodded. "Are you willing to learn from me?" Akane nodded again. "Then you must follow everything I say."
"Yes, Auntie! Anything! I just... I just want to hear Ranma say just once I cooked something well."
"Is that the reason why you want to cook, Akane?" Nodoka asked.
"Wh-why not, Auntie? Is it wrong?" Akane nervously asked, she could not miss the disapproving tone in the older woman's voice.
"Akane, wanting to cook so that my son will admit you can cook is different from wanting to cook for him. Or for anyone else for that matter. The first is simply your pride speaking while the second is your love. Those are two different things." Nodoka smiled when she saw enlightenment in Akane's eyes. "Akane, do you love to cook? Answer honestly."
"I... I do, Auntie."
"Why do you think so?"
"Yes. Does cooking give you pleasure, Akane?"
"I don't understand, Auntie."
"Akane, do you love the martial arts?"
"Of course, Auntie."
"Why do you love martial arts, Akane?"
Nodoka smiled indulgently. "You love martial arts because it gives you joy, Akane. You practice martial arts everyday. Do you think you love cooking the same way? Will you practice cooking everyday also and not just when the urge strikes you? I am sure Kasumi, Kodachi, Shampoo and Ukyou all cook everyday."
Akane imagined the joy on Ranma's face everytime he ate something Kasumi, Shampoo or Ukyou made. She also remembered the blissful smiles the three girls had in return. "I do, Auntie." She answered firmly.
"Very good, Akane. The first step in becoming a good cook is to have the right reasons to cook. Then, after that, perhaps you might learn the true joy of cooking, Akane. To see the one you love smile happily as he eats the delicious meal you lovingly prepared for him with your own hands. From now on I shall be happy to teach you how to cook."
"Thank you, Auntie!" Akane leaped up to hug Ranma's mother.
"You're welcome, Akane." She gently disengaged the girl. "Now where was I?" Nodoka became thoughtful again. "Ah, yes." She looked around until she spotted her prey trying to be inconspicuous behind Kasumi and Kodachi. "There you are, Nabiki."
"Eep!" Nabiki began backpedalling until a wall cut off her escape. She watched with a horrified look as her own version of an angel of death sedately approached her with a toothy smile.
Nodoka resumed gently "guiding" Nabiki towards the kitchen. "Trust me on this, Nabiki."
"But, but, but..." I, I just can't! I'm not the domestic type! Nabiki shook her head rapidly from side to side, her hair whipping about around her, proving she was indeed her father's daughter. I'm doomed. I'm so doomed. She briefly contemplated hanging on to the kitchen door frame but discarded it as too undignified.
"Hah! Serves you right for picking on me, sis." Akane said with an evil smile as her elder sister passed her on the way to the kitchen earning a glare in return.
"I wouldn't say that just yet, Akane." Ukyou advised as she and Shampoo followed Nodoka and Nabiki into the kitchen. "Who knows, Nabiki might prove to be a better cook than you are." The look of consternation on Akane was priceless.
"Hah! I'm sure I am!" Came the yell from beyond the gateway to someone's personal hell.
"And how do you figure that!"
"Because I can follow a recipe, you can't!"
"Why you..." Akane stomped into the kitchen. "I'll show you who can't follow a recipe!"
"Now, now, girls. It's not nice to fight."
I am in hell. Nabiki looked morosely down at the frilly apron she was wearing while mixing the tempura batter in the bowl she was holding without much enthusiasm. It's just not me. She heard snickering to one side. She didn't have to look to know the other girls were laughing at her expense. She almost dropped the bowl when she saw a very familiar flash of light. No, don't tell me... She looked up in time to be blinded by another flash.
"Isn't it great, sis? Auntie had a camera handy! So now we'll have something to remember this moment by." Akane snickered loudly. She turned doe eyes to Ranma's mother. "Auntie, do you think we can have copies of the pictures of my sister wearing an apron? For our family album. I'm sure our daddy will be happy to see them."
"Of course, Akane."
"Akane..." Nabiki ground out through clenched teeth. Family album, my butt! If anyone at Furinkan saw those pictures her reputation would be ruined! Her, the Ice Queen! Wearing an apron, a frilly one with strawberry patterns at that, outside home economics class! And in a real kitchen no less! No one would be intimidated of her anymore. She almost snapped the wooden spoon in two when her younger sister stuck her tongue out at her. Ooohhh. I'm gonna get you back for this, baby sister. You can bet your life on it.
"Akane, what are you doing?" Nodoka asked the girl who seemed to be in the middle of mangling a piece of shrimp.
"Um, I'm not doing it right, am I, Auntie?"
The woman sighed. It seemed teaching Akane would be more than she anticipated. She shook her head and picked up a shrimp that looked like it had been worked over with nunchakus by martial artists. I am almost afraid to ask. "What happened to this one?"
Akane looked down sheepishly. "I thought it would be quicker if I just squeezed the shrimp out, Auntie." The answer made Nodoka blink. Chirping of cicadas could be heard outside.
"I... see. That is a... most unique method."
"I messed up, didn't I, Auntie?"
"That's all right, dear. We all had to start somewhere. Perhaps we should start you with something simpler like cutting vegetables." Nodoka didn't see the collective cringing behind her.
"Okay, Auntie! I can do that!"
"Of course, dear. Come this way." When Akane was settled at another spot along the kitchen counter, Nodoka turned away and nearly had a heart attack when Akane screamed her battle cry.
Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta! Ta!
The sight of Akane madly chopping the cabbage without rhyme or rhythm made Nodoka forget about the pounding of her heart. She released her hold on the chest part of her apron. What on Earth? She looked around and saw the other girls just shrug their shoulders. It seems this is normal for Akane.
"Akane?" Nodoka attempted to get the girl's attention over the sound of steel rapidly and repeatedly meeting wood. When the girl didn't seem to hear she raised her voice. "Akane?" Still nothing, the Furinkan freshman seemed intent on making diced cabbage. Nodoka didn't dare approach the short haired girl. Not with the way Akane was swinging that very sharp cleaver. She should know. She sharpened it the same way she sharpened her katana and tantos. It was only a cabbage after all. And a chopping board. She added idly when she saw what it was that had hit her on the cheek in her hand.
"Do you want me to get her attention, Auntie?" Ukyou graciously offered, readying to throw a potato through the intricate patterns the cleaver made in the air. She was sure a piece of it big enough to catch Akane's attention would get through and hit the other girl on the head.
Nodoka shook her head. "Thank you but the cabbage or the chopping board will not last long. As long as the damages are limited to the chopping board I will wait."
Ukyou shrugged and went back to what she was doing, skinning a fish.
After a few minutes Akane finally stopped and wiped her hands on her apron and her forehead on a sleeve. "Auntie, I'm finished!" She brightly called. She eeped when the woman appeared by her side instantaneously. "What do you think, Auntie?" Akane held out what was left of the cabbage and chopping board.
If Nodoka's mother were alive she would have been proud of her daughter's stoicism as Nodoka fought hard not to twitch and sweatdrop at the sight of the product of Akane's efforts. "That is... good, dear. Your mother would be... proud." She forced herself to say with as much sincerity as she could.
"Do you really think so, Auntie?" Akane happily asked.
"Yes, I do." Nodoka prayed the spirit of the girls' mother wouldn't be offended. She took the offering and set it aside behind her and gave a look to Shampoo who nodded her understanding, much to Nodoka's relief. The... vegetable and wood mix would be soon gone. "Now I think it would be best if I should supervise you closely..."
"Yes, I do, Akane. I really, really, really do."
"Thank you, Auntie! I promise I won't disappoint you."
"I'm sure you won't, dear. However, as I will not be able to do that all the time I will need assistance from the other girls. I hope you don't mind, Akane."
"Of course not, Auntie! As long as it'll help me become a better cook."
"That's good to hear, dear. Now who..."
"I will be happy to help her, Auntie."
"Why thank you, Dachi. That's very kind of you."
Akane looked at Kodachi both in surprise and some worry. While the gymnast had been well behaved during the shopping trip, and was in fact somewhat pleasant company, offering interesting tidbits on the more expensive items, Akane still had trouble wrapping her mind around the idea of a normal Kodachi who laughed that crazed laugh of hers only at appropriate times and then of short duration. She could tell that only Kasumi didn't didn't have trouble with that concept.
But one thing Akane had no trouble admitting was the fact that Kodachi was a superb chef who, with a few more, say three, years of experience could match the skills of Kasumi in the kitchen. Well, as long as Kodachi remains sane I don't see any problems with that. Akane smiled at the Kunou girl. "Uh, thanks, Kodachi. I'd really appreciate that."
"The pleasure is mine, Akane."
"Well, now that we have someone other me to teach Akane how to cook we can continue preparing dinner. I'm sure my son is very hungry after our shopping."
"Girls, I have an idea, why don't we show my son some of the new clothes you bought during dinner? I'm sure he'll appreciate them very much."
"Ranma, dinner's ready!" Nodoka called up the stairs. She didn't have to wait long for her son to go down the steps, a textbook and pad of paper in one hand and a pencil in the other. He was scratching his head with the rubber eraser of the pencil. When he reached the bottom of the stairs he looked up with a sheepish smile.
"Um, mom, can ya help me with this? I'm not exactly sure how it goes." He showed the page in the English textbook he was currently having problems with.
"Of course, Ranma, but later after dinner." His mother took the school materials, laid them on a table and then guided him to the table where she sat him at the head.
"Why am I sitting here? And where's the food?" He puckered his lips to indicate the empty table.
"Since your father still isn't here and you're the man of the house I thought it would only be right for you to sit at the head. And the girls will bring out dinner in a moment, son. Girls?" Nodoka called out towards the kitchen.
Ranma's eyes automatically tracked to the door and promptly lost his jaw to the floor.
One by one, the girls entered the living room bearing the dishes dressed in their new body-hugging silk cheongsams. He licked his suddenly dry lips with an equally dry tongue. He tried to swallow non-existent saliva. He idly noted the lightness of the material made the dress cling quite well to their bodies. If he tried to look hard enough he could make out their...
Nodoka delicately raised Ranma's jaw with one hand. "It's not polite to stare, Ranma." She admonished with a smile.
"Wha?" He croaked as he tried to get his mouth and mind working.
"I said it's not polite to stare."
"Oh. Oh! So-sorry!" He quickly averted his gaze
"It's all right, son. I think the girls appreciate you admiring them in their new clothes."
"Clothes? Oh! Clothes! Right! Of course! Clothes! Wasn't thinkin' anythin' perverted! Uh-uh. Not me!"
Nodoka smiled. She turned to the young women and gave them a knowing smile. It made them blush. "Well, girls, why don't you lay out dinner so we can start.?"
"Of course, Auntie." One by one each passed by where Ranma sat. To one side sat Kasumi, Kodachi and Nabiki while on the other sat Akane, Shampoo and Ukyou. Nodoka and Cologne took their places at the foot.
"Um, not that I'm complainin' or anythin' but why are you girls wearin' those? What's the occasion?"
"No special reason, Airen. They just wanted to see how they would look like in what I usually wear. You do not like them?"
"No! I mean, yes! Yes! I like them! I like them a lot! You girls look terrific!"
"Why, thank you, Ranma-kun. Auntie did say they would look good on us."
"If you have it, flaunt it!" Nodoka mumbled to herself.
"Oh, nothing, son. Just an old woman reminiscing about her younger days." Nodoka turned to the oldest teen. "That's why I insisted on buying them for you girls, Kasumi. I just knew those dresses would look wonderful on you girls. I'm just glad my son was nice enough to notice."
"We appreciate it, Auntie."
"Think nothing of it, Kasumi, and I hope you girls also like the other items I bought for you."
"Of course, Auntie."
Ukyou hesitated at the door as they prepared to leave for Nerima. The emptiness of her restaurant that waited for her return seemed much more oppressive than before.
"Ucchan, is something wrong?"
"Uhm, nothing, Auntie."
Nodoka looked at the girl kindly. "Ucchan, I can tell there's something bothering you. Whatever it is you can tell me and I'll help however I can."
Ukyou bit her lower lip. "May I... may I stay here tonight, Auntie?" She asked hesitantly making Akane, Kodachi, Nabiki, Shampoo and Ranma stop dead in their tracks. Their heads swiveled until they faced the girl making the request. "It's..., it's just that it sometimes gets so lonely in my restaurant."
"Oh, you poor dear!" Ranma's mother came to hug the okonomiyaki chef. "Of course, you may stay. In fact, you're welcome to stay as long as you want. It just isn't right for a young girl like you to live all by yourself."
"Of course, Ucchan, and I think having someone other than two men to talk to will be good for me."
Ukyou leapt to hug Ranma's mother. "Oh, thank you, Auntie! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!"
"There. There. Ucchan." Nodoka waited for the girl to settle down. "But what about your restaurant? Wouldn't it be too far away?"
"Don't worry, Auntie, if I run on the rooftops I can get there in fifteen minutes. Twenty tops! It'll be good training, too!"
"Well, I suppose it's all right then." Genma's wife looked at the other girls. "You're all welcome to stay, of course. I'm sure we will find a sleeping arrangement that's agreeable to all."
Akane, Kasumi, Kodachi, Nabiki and Shampoo looked at one another before sighing and shaking their heads. Much as they wanted to, it would be imposing too much on the Saotomes. Akane, Nabiki and Shampoo settled for dragging Ukyou to one side while Kasumi and Kodachi, who were unsure what to do in the situation, followed. An act which greatly amused Nodoka and Cologne. Ranma simply scratched his head.
"All right! What are you trying to pull, Ukyou?" Akane demanded.
"Nothing!" Ukyou got skeptical looks. She sighed and continued in an earnest voice. "Listen, what I said is true. Do any of you have any idea how lonely it is to sleep every night by yourself?" That broke through the skepticism. "It's just that it's been a long time since I've enjoyed myself this much and it made me realize how lonely I've been since papa... since papa died." An uncomfortable silence came over them until Ukyou continued. "Come on, guys, can't you let this go? I promise not to do anything you guys won't."
"That's what worries me." Kodachi, Nabiki and Shampoo muttered together.
"Please? I don't even see why I have to explain myself to you guys since Auntie already gave her permission." The statement surprised everyone.
"Oh, all right! But if we hear anything about you taking advantage of the situation..." Shampoo trailed off, unsure what they would do if it ever came to that. Somehow, she found herself wishing they wouldn't have to find out as she was reluctant to fight the other girl anymore.
"I promise I won't!"
"Well, girls?" Nabiki asked to get the consensus.
"I guess it's okay then." Akane replied. "I can't imagine living alone in our house."
"I'm happy for you, Ukyou." Kasumi hugged the younger girl.
"Thanks, Kasumi. Thanks guys."
P-Chan swiveled his head at the sound of the gate to the Tendou Dojo opening. His face lit up at the sight of the love of his life.
"Bweeee!" He happily ran to greet the person he was patiently waiting for for the last four hours, even ignoring nature's call in fear he might not see her again for the next month.
"P-Chan!" Akane put down her shopping bags and held out her arms for the lost pig to jump into. "Where have you been?" She asked as she squeezed her pet to her bosom. "I've missed you!" Her sisters continued on into the house.
She missed me! Ryouga was lost in ecstasy as he buried his face in Akane's chest.
"Have you eaten yet, P-Chan?" The short haired girl asked while shifting the pig to one arm so she could pick up her bags to follow Kasumi and Nabiki.
P-Chan shook his head.
"Oh, you poor boy. Well, let mommy take care of you." P-Chan happily nodded his head but then remembered his presents.
"Bwee!" He urgently called out.
"What is it, P-Chan?"
"Bwee! Bwee! Bweeee!" For emphasis he pointed with his snout to the packages lying on the ground.
"Oh! Are those for me, P-Chan?"
"Bwee! Bwee! Bwee!" Vigorous nodding.
"Oh, thank you! You're always so thoughtful, just like Ryouga."
P-Chan's fur stood on end. "Bweeee!" No, no, no. Ryouga's much more thoughtful! We're nothing alike!
"Anyway, I have so much to tell you, P-Chan! So many things happened the last three days you wouldn't believe it!"
"Bwee! Bwee! Bwee!" You can tell me anything and I'll always believe you, Akane.
"Well, let's go in. I'm sure there's plenty to eat now that Ranma and his father aren't staying here anymore."
"Bwee!" He isn't? Ryouga almost almost cried in joy. Ranma and his father being gone from the Tendou Dojo could only mean one thing. Akane's engagement to the bane of his existence was over! Yes! Now's my big chance to tell Akane how I feel! Hot water! I must find hot water! "Bwee! Bwee! Bwee!" He struggled to free himself.
"P-Chan, what's wrong? Just be patient, I'll feed you as soon as I can."
A knock came on the door to Ranma's bedroom.
"Com'in! It's open!"
The door opened and the visitor poked her head through. "Hey, Ranchan, watcha doing?"
He gave her a distasteful grimace. "Homework."
"You got that right. Bleah! Hey, wanna do our homework together?"
"Uh, sure, Ucchan. Grab a seat." Ranma moved a little to the side of his desk.
"Okay. I'll just grab my book bag." After a couple of minutes Ukyou came back and settled herself in the seat Ranma vacated. "What homework are you doing?"
"Hey, that's pretty easy."
"Mebbe for you."
"Nah. I'm sure you can handle it, Ranchan. It's not that hard."
"Oh, yeah? Then I'd like to see ya solve this problem here then." Ranma slid his book over and pointed to a certain area on the page he was working on.
Ukyou smirked. "Give me a couple of minutes." After the allotted time she pushed the book back. "Ta dah! Told you it was easy!"
"Yeah, yeah. Show off."
"Want me to show you how?"
"Sure. Rub my face in, why don't ya?" Nevertheless, Ranma leaned over.
"First, what about this problem don't you understand?"
"You're not even trying!"
"Okay! Okay!" Grumble. Grumble. It's gonna be a long night.
Mousse lifted his head from the table where he had been drooling when he heard the chime and saw his beloved come in.
"Shampoo! I love you!"
Pap! A raised foot met his face.
"What do you want, Mousse? I have homework to do and I want to sleep early because I have school tomorrow." Shampoo noticed the boy slightly favoring his left leg. "Oh, you poor boy. Did my Airen beat you up again? You should learn your lesson and stop bothering him and me. Go bother some other girl."
"Hmph! This is nothing." Mousse straightened his back. "One of these days I'm going to show you who the better man is between me and Saotome."
"I already know and it's not you."
Mousse ground his teeth. It was frustrating because he couldn't deny it. Not yet anyway. He still had some aces up his sleeve and he was deciding which one would give him the biggest edge the next time he challenged the gender changer. "That's what you say now, Shampoo, but mark my words, I will beat your precious Ranma." He turned and threw one last barb. "Besides, it's not as if you're making any progress yourself convincing him to be your husband."
"Ouch." Mousse mumbled into the cement. I really should learn to keep my mouth shut and stop ticking her off like that. It would save me a lot of pain and the dried up old monkey wouldn't keep taking the repairs to the floor out of my salary.
"I'll show you who's not making any progress!" Shampoo stomped up to her room, returning a moment later carrying a vase with the three red roses. She pulled Mousse's face from the floor, shoved his glasses down and thrust the vase in front of his face. "If I wasn't making any progress would Airen give me these!"
Mouse's eyes widened. "Sao-Saotome gave you those?" Oh, shit. What does that mean?
"Yes." Shampoo answered sweetly. "And he's taking me out on a date this Friday!" She declared just to rub salt into the wound. She frowned as she thought of something. She pulled Mousse close by the front of his robe. "If you come and ruin our date, Mousse, I will hunt you down, turn you into a duck, pluck out your eyes, your beak, your tongue, all your feathers, your tail, skin you, rub salt all over your skinless body, break every bone in your body, disembowel you, cut off your legs and wings, and boil you alive in oil before feeding your sorry carcass to the dogs." She snarled to his face.
Mousse blinked and gulped. That was rather graphic. She wouldn't, would she? He saw the dead serious look on the Amazon's face and gulped again. Then again, maybe it'd be best not to tempt her. Not that it would stop him from interfering, it just meant he'd have to be more careful so Shampoo wouldn't catch him interfering. "But, but what about Akane and Ukyou?"
"He gave them roses and taking them out, too."
"What!" Mousse shot to his feet. "Have you lost your senses, Shampoo! You... you... deserve better than that! You shouldn't have to share a man with anyone!"
"Ouch." I must be getting tougher. That didn't hurt as much as the first.
"Quiet! You don't have a say in this, Mousse. I love my Airen and I will do anything to be with him! As long as he loves me as well I don't care who else he loves!"
Mousse watched from where he was lying on the floor the girl he loved walk back up to her room cradling the vase like a new born babe. He turned his head when he sensed a presence beside him. "Hey! Dried up old monkey! Don't tell me you approve of this!"
"Ouch." Then again, my face might just still be numb from the first one. Hmmm... three broken tiles in less than five minutes. That's a new record for me.
"It may surprise you but I do approve, Mousse."
"It is the best course of action and before you bothered her, Shampoo was very happy today."
"What! How can she be happy!"
"She's spending time with the man she loves."
"Bah! She only thinks she loves Saotome."
"Tell me, Mousse, do you think Shampoo would go against her Amazon sisters, even giving them the 'Kiss of Death', for you or any other man? That is a far worse offense than failure to kill an outsider who defeated an Amazon. If what she did reached the council, even I would not be able to protect her. It was fortunate it was Ling-Ling and Lung-Lung she gave the 'Kiss of Death' to. I doubt she would do that for you even if you were her Airen."
"Face the facts, Mousse, my great granddaugther loves son-in-law. The sooner you accept that, the better for everyone involved."
Cologne looked down sadly at the boy lying beside her. "Very well, Mousse. If that is your decision I cannot stop you as long as the marriage between son-in-law and my great granddaugther remains unconsummated but I will give you one piece of unsolicited advice. If you wish to have any hope of Shampoo loving you as much as she loves son-in-law now, challenge and defeat son-in-law in honorable combat. And leave no doubt as to who is the better fighter."
The part time duck sat up as the Amazon Matriarch pogoed away. Do not worry, dried up old monkey. That is exactly what I intend to do once I have the edge I need. Mark my words. I will defeat Ranma Saotome in three months time and make Shampoo love me as I love her. He stood stiffly. Now I just have to stop them from consummating their marriage before I'm ready. What worries me is why Saotome would suddenly give roses to Shampoo. What's changed?
"Well, that's that."
"Heh, never thought homework would be this easy to do."
"Well, we made good time after you stopped whining and grumbling about stupid assignments."
"They were stupid assignments!"
"I suppose but that's part of school."
"Yeah, yeah." Grumble some more. "Anyway, thanks, Ucchan. Ya helped a lot with math."
"It's actually my favorite subject."
Never woulda figured Ucchan liked math. Heh. Learn somethin' new everyday.
"You know, Ranchan, you did pretty well. I'll bet if you paid more attention to school, you'd get pretty good grades."
"I dunno, Ucchan. But I guess I ain't got anythin' ta lose if I try."
"That's the spirit! And the better your grades, the more choices you'll have on what you want to do after high school!"
"I suppose. Say, are ya sleepy yet, Ucchan?"
"Heard Daisuke and Hiroshi talkin' 'bout a great movie they're gonna show tonight on television. Wanna watch it together?"
"Sure, Ranchan. I'd be happy to! I think I can use some relaxation after doing all those assignments."
"Com'on then. I think it's just 'bout to start."
Ryouga was almost beside himself with giddiness as he waited on Akane's bed for the girl of his dreams to return from taking a bath. Ranma's gone. Now's my chance. Ranma's gone. Now's my chance. Ranma's gone. Now's my chance. He repeated over and over in his head. Too bad I couldn't find any hot water though. Oh, well. I can tell Akane tomorrow.
"P-Chan!" The said girl announced as she came into her room wearing pajamas.
"Bwee!" Ryouga jumped happily into her arms.
Akane nuzzled her pet for a moment before putting him down. "I'll be with you in a second, P-Chan, I just have to put away these clothes Auntie bought for me." She kneeled beside the packages on her floor. She opened one and brought out the yellow cheongsam she picked. It was embroidered with a tiger down one side with the slit scandalously close to her right hip. If she didn't wear the matching pants people would probably see her panties. She hugged it to herself. "Ranma's mom is so nice!"
"Bwee?" Ranma's mom? Ranma has a mother? That spawn of the devil?
"Yes. She's the one who bought this for me. You should have seen Ranma's face when he saw us wearing these."
"Bwee?" What the hell is going on?
"It's sad though. He's not staying here anymore."
"Bwee!" Good riddance!
"But it's okay, I guess. I can still see him at school everyday."
"Bwee?" Why would you want to see that jerk eveyday?
"I guess it's true, P-Chan. You never know what you have until you lose it. I'm just glad I realized what I felt for Ranma before I completely lost him."
"Bwee?" I'm getting lost here, Akane. I don't understand what you're saying.
"I can't say this to anyone yet except for you, P-Chan, but yes, I know in my heart, I love Ranma. He's the only one for me. Oh! I'm so happy I can say it to someone! Even if you're just a pig."
Ker-rack! Krinkle. Tinkle. Tinkle.
"Hmmm? Did you just hear glass breaking, P-Chan? Oh, never mind. It must be just my imagination. And, look!" Akane reached for the vase where she placed her roses. "Ranma gave me roses! I was so happy when he gave me roses this morning I kissed him! On the lips! Can you believe that! And the shocking thing was, we both liked it! Oh! I can't wait to kiss him again!"
"Hmmm. There it is again. I swear I could hear someone's world crumbling. Anyway," Akane hugged herself. "Ranma's taking me out on a date this Friday. Maybe we can kiss again!" She blushed furiously. "Oh, I'm getting as perverted as he is!"
Rumble. Rrruuummmbbbllleee! Ker-rash!
"Hmmm? I wonder where those funny sounds are coming from? Oh, I hope whoever's world just crashed around them is all right. I mean, isn't it so unfair that while I'm so happy, others aren't? Right, P-Chan? P-Chan? P-Chan! Kasumi!"
"What happened, Akane?" Kasumi asked as she examined the unresponsive pet on Akane's bed.
"I don't know, Kasumi. One moment P-Chan was fine, I was just talking to him, and the next he was like this."
"I see. Well, except for being comatose he seems to be fine. His breathing seems to be normal."
"I never knew pigs could go into a coma." Nabiki smirked. She poked the pig in the stomach with no response. "Yep, coma all right."
"Well, I doubt studies have been done before, Nabiki." Kasumi stood up. "Anyway, I think it's best if we wait until morning before taking him to a vet. Perhaps he'll wake up on his own tomorrow."
"You think so, sis?"
"Let's hope so, Akane. I doubt there's anything anyone can do for a comatose piglet."
"I guess you're right, Kasumi. Oh, I hope he gets better."
"Well, good night, sis." Nabiki called before exiting the room. Kasumi followed behind her.
When she was alone, Akane looked sadly at her pet. I hope you get well soon, P-Chan. You've always been a good listener when I needed someone to talk to. She sighed. And I was just about to ask you what I should do about Ryouga, too. She kissed the pig's forehead. "Well, good night, P-Chan." Akane said as she covered P-Chan with a blanket and turned to do her homework before going to bed. I miss Ranma already. I wonder what Ukyou and Ranma are doing right now? Ooohhh, they'd better not be doing anything I wouldn't do.
Ranma and Ukyou looked at one another after they sneezed simultaneously. They grinned at each other.
"Somebody must be talking about us, Ranchan."
"Heh, yeah. I just hope it's nothin' bad."
Ukyou sat beside Ranma in the living room and snuggled up against him as the boy switched on the television with the remote. "What's the movie about, Ranchan?"
"Well, I think Hiroshi said it was some kind of action movie. Man, I hope it ain't one of those lame martial arts movies."
Ukyou giggled as she hugged an arm. "Only you would call those martial arts movies lame, Ranchan. Most people really love watching those movies."
"I guess most people haven't seen a real martial artist yet then. Oh, yeah. Wait here, Ucchan. I'm gonna go get us some snacks."
The girl blinked at that. "You're still hungry after all you ate at dinner?" She reluctantly let go of the arm as Ranma stood up.
"That was almost two and a half hours ago. Ya want anythin' in particular, Ucchan?"
"Nothing really. Just get what you want, Ranchan, and I'll just share."
Ranma was back in a couple of minutes. "Has the movie started yet?"
"They're just about to." Ukyou helped lay out the snacks, mostly chips and some soda, on the table. "Hey! It's the first Matrix movie!"
"Ya know it, Ucchan?"
"I've watched it before on TV. It's pretty cool. I think you'll like this one. It's got some great action scenes and special effects."
"Heh, mebbe I'll get some ideas for new moves."
Ukyou giggled again. She opened a bag of potato chips and a soda can. "Here, Ranchan." She offered a chip.
"Ya don't hafta do that, Ucchan. I can feed myself."
"But I want to."
"Um, sure, I guess." Ranma opened his mouth to accept the offering. He looked down at the girl, just wearing a long t-shirt, snuggling against him as she turned back to watch the movie. Yeah, Ucchan isn't the type ta wear pajamas or nightgowns. "This is nice." He said softly after a while.
"Hmmm?" Ukyou returned her attention to her fiancé.
"I said this is nice, Ucchan. Just the two of us relaxing with no one ta bother us."
The smile that lit her face gave him goosebumps. "I think so, too, Ranchan." Ukyou said softly as she snuggled closer. She offered another chip, then the soda. "I could get used to this."
"Me, too." His arm was getting a bit cramped so he put it around the girl's shoulders. Ukyou purred in contentment. The two sat in silence savoring the moment as the movie began.
Nodoka watched the two teenagers from the kitchen door and smiled. She was about to go up to bed when she spotted the pair. They look good together. Not that she was favoring Ukyou over the other girls as she was sure her son would look equally good with any of the other girls in such a situation. Now how do I get to my room without disturbing them. Oh, well. I guess I'll have to go through the window. I just hope I don't ruin my kimono. She giggled. She hadn't done that since she was a teenager. She was about to turn to leave when she heard conversation start up again.
"Have you ever wondered what might have happened if your father never left me behind?"
"Aaahhh..." Ranma began to squirm. It was a subject he'd rather not talk about. "Why d'ya wanna know?"
"I've thought about it, what might have been, every day since your father left me. And now, when we're like this, when I feel so happy that I can barely control myself, I can't help but think this is what your father took away from me." A quiver came into Ukyou's voice.
Nodoka's grip tightened on the door frame as her face darkened. Husband dear, you have a lot to answer for for abandoning a child, not to mention stealing her dowry, dishonoring and humiliating her. I hope you enjoyed yourself with her dowry because if things do not end well for Ranma and the girls, you will answer to me.
"AAAAAAHHHHHH!" Genma bolted upright as he snapped wide awake and frantically touched his neck. "Wha?" He feverishly looked around and seeing no sign of his beheaded body, sighed heavily. Damn. That nightmare was too real. I could have sworn I felt my head fall, hit the ground, bounce a couple of times and roll away. He shook the morbid image away. That's the last time I drink that much sake.
Calmer now, he began to take stock of his situation. Okay, it's still night, Tendou's still out and we're... naked from the waist down... How the hell did that happen? Did we...? Nah, we're not that way. At least I'm sure I'm not. Tendou on the other hand... He shook the silly thought away. Nah, even if we hadn't had any for years, we're not that desperate. There's must be a logical explanation why we're both naked from the waist down.
Genma looked around and blinked as he saw their surroundings. Where the hell are we? And... He sniffed. What the hell is that smell? He stood up, pulling his gi pants up, and walked in the direction he saw some light from. He blanched when he saw the source of the light, a tugboat towing several barges in the middle of the ocean with the barge he was standing on the last in the line.
"Where on Earth am I!" He bellowed in a fashion that would have made Ryouga proud. He climbed to the highest point he saw on what he now recognized as a garbage barge and looked around. "No, it can't be." Genma whimpered as he beheld the glory of the largest ocean on Earth in all directions, no sign of dry land anywhere.
It took Ranma's father several moments to get over the shock of finding himself God knows where in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with nothing but the gi on his back. After composing himself, his crafty mind began to analyze the situation. Oh, well. At least I have Tendou here with me. And maybe a few days away from the wife will do me good. First things first though. I need to find some water. With that, the part time panda began making his way towards the tugboat as it was the place where he would find the information and things he needed.
Ukyou sniffed. "Sorry for ruining the mood, Ranchan." She wiped away a tear. "I'm being silly, aren't I?"
"Nah, ya have every right ta be angry with pops." Ranma went silent as he looked up at the ceiling. "And mebbe with me, too." He sighed. Why haven't I thought 'bout it? Ucchan is my fiancée after all. "I haven't really given it much thought, Ucchan."
"I dunno. Mebbe it's 'cause I'm not really a sentimental person. Mebbe it's 'cause my life's been kinda hectic ever since I could remember. Mebbe it's 'cause I'm really a jerk. Mebbe it's 'cause I'd rather not think 'bout it 'cause I can't do anythin' 'bout it anyway. I don't really know, Ucchan."
"Oh." Ukyou didn't know what she should feel with her fiancé's confession.
"But I do know one thing, Ucchan." Ranma said as he shifted his gaze from the ceiling to the girl beside him. "I do know that this, what we got right now, I like very much and if it's alright with ya, I'd like very much ta keep it."
Their gazes met and each was lost in the other's eyes. Silently and slowly as if afraid the spell might be broken, the two leaned in closer and closer, their emotions sweeping everything away.
"Ranchan, I love you. I always have and I always will."
Yes! Yes! Yes! Silently cheered the voyeur peeking from a doorway. She unconsciously leaned forward in anticipation. My son is so manly! Go, Ranma, go! Ooohhh! I really should have bought that low light film the salesman was trying to sell me.
"Ah, my love. How you must count the hours in torment until the time you may once again bask in the glory of my presence." Drool, slobber.
"ACHOO!" Nodoka was mortified as she quickly ducked behind the doorframe and prayed she hadn't ruined the mood. Of all the times... Idiot! Idiot! She berated herself.
"Meow?" No one but us cats here.
"M-mom, cut it out."
You don't believe that? How about dogs then? "Arf? Arf?"
Nodoka heard a loud sigh accompanied by giggling. "Mom, we can see your shadow on the floor."
Ah, shoot! Forgot about that. Oh, well. Can't blame a mother for trying. Nodoka sheepishly stepped out of her hiding place and sighed when she saw the two teenagers sitting at a more discrete distance to each other. I'm going to kill the moron who just talked about me. "Ah. I'm sorry if I disturbed you two. I was just on my way to bed. Please continue enjoying yourselves. Good night." The two teenagers stood as she passed by them.
"Um, good night, Auntie."
"Good night, mom."
Nodoka trudged dejectedly up to her bedroom. So close! They were so close! She opened the door to her room. Oh, well. There're still the dates coming up. I'll just have to make sure nothing happens to ruin those.
Down in the living room, Ranma looked around as he felt a chill go down his spine. "Um, sorry 'bout my mom, Ucchan." He apologized with a sheepish laugh as he scratched his head. "I don't know what goes on in her head."
"It's okay, Ranchan. I think it's really sweet of your mother to be so concerned about you." She looked down. "Makes me wish my own mother was still alive."
"Ucchan..." Ranma quickly went to sit beside the girl again and put a reassuring arm around her shoulders.
Ukyou wiped the tears that were threatening to spill. "I'm being silly again, aren't I, Ranchan?"
"Nah. It's still good. See? We haven't missed much of the movie." The two sat in silence as they watched Trinity get chased by the Agents. They need special effects for that? Although I gotta admit I wish I could stay in the air as long as that girl.
"I really appreciate what you just said. About you wanting us to be this way. It means a lot to me." She leaned her head on his chest, contenting herself to just listen to his heart beat, afraid that if she looked at him again she'd forget everything again, including her promise to the other girls not to take advantage of the situation.
"And I really meant it, Ucchan." To emphasize his point he hugged the girl closer. Only, I wish I knew what ta do with all three of ya.
End Chapter 6.
First of all, I'd like to thank all those who submitted reviews for chapter five. They not only really help me write better stories but they also keep me motivated to continue writing, even after several months of inactivity. I'd mention each and every one of you but it'd take too much space.
Second, I'd like to apologize to all my loyal readers for getting this chapter out so late, ten months late to be exact. What can I say except I'll try to get chapters out more often, hopefully two months in between updates to this story as I alternate writing between my other fanfics. It's not easy with what's happening in my country. Damned politicians.
Well, I'm sure you all noticed I put the Saotome's living in Tomoeda City and yes, I got that from Card Captor Sakura. I don't know if Tomoeda is a real city like Nerima, I tried googling for it and all I found were references to CCS. Doesn't really matter if Tomoeda's real or not as long as it's in Tokyo which I assume it is since Tokyo Tower was shown prominently in the series. And I thought I'd do something about the lack of Ranma-CCS cross-overs out there. Don't worry, it won't be much of a cross-over and Ranma won't have another fiancée in this story although I do have an idea how Ranma can get engaged to one of the ten year old female cast of CCS. Won't say who though. Anyway, the way I'm planning, the cross won't have much of an effect on how I intend to resolve all this in the end which I already have something in mind which I'm pretty sure will be a surprise for all.
Oh, a prize to who can guess what other manga/anime I've made references to in this chapter. Card Captor Sakura and Sailormoon are fairly obvious so those two are out. What's the prize? His or her favorite Ranma girl gets Ranma's first kiss in this fic. If no one guesses correctly then the kiss will go to my favorite Ranma girl. Yes, I do have one.
With those tidbits out of the way let's go to the teasers.
Ukyou's going to stay at the Saotome's from now on. Will the rest of the girls be far behind? Will it let Ranma become more comfortable in his relationships with them?
Things will be heating up again in the life of Ranma Saotome. His rivals have been informed of the new status of his relationships with the girls. Will they do something about it? Of course they will. The better question is, to what lengths will they go?
What troubles will the boys of Furinkan cause Ranma? Will he get caught in the crossfire as the girls try to prevent the boys from learning the deep, dark secrets of Ranma's father?
Will Nabiki suffer the same fate as Akane in the kitchen? Who knows. I've always wanted to put her in a situation where she isn't in control. If I'm feeling mischievous I just might make her a horrible cook like Akane. XD
Oh, almost forgot. Thanks to dennisud for pre-reading this. Everybody please give a big round of applause to dennisud for "volunteering" his help.