Futago Neko-ken (Twin Cat Fist)
A Ranma 1/2 Fanfiction
By:
Azurite
azurite_moon@yahoo.com // azurite@fanfiction.net
Site: Rated: PG-13
Based on the as-yet-untranslated Japanese Manga (Post Vol. 38)

*I'm not totally sure, but I think Dr. Tofu is gone by Vol. 38. In this, he's not.

Ranma 1/2 and its respective characters and situations belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Viz Communications, Shounen Sunday, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Fuji. I make no claim to any of them whatsoever, but this plotline is soley mine. **NOTE** I have HEARD of Lord Archive's 'The Nekoken is Out of the Bag' and I want you to know that unlike his story, mine is A) not a Lemon, and B) has an original plotline that I created... I did not rip it off LA.

Note: Wow... I can't believe this hasn't ever made it to FFnet or MMorg! Well, it's here now, and all thanks to the kind review of... uhm, someone whose name I don't remember right at the moment! But you know who you are, and you rock! Futago Nekoken is now up on FFnet in all its formatted glory... and I will start working on Ranma fics... sooner rather than later! Heheh...

"speak"
'think'
conscience
emphasis
[Genma-panda sign]
--- one of those moments that show the beautiful scenery, have one, loud sound effect, and then absolute silence.

~*~

The figure jumped well over twenty feet in the air, shadowed occasionally by trees or houses.
It was darkened by the sun shining on its back, as it was in the prime of day, on a lazy afternoon in the ward of Nerima, in Tokyo, Japan.

Underneath it, a feminine, easier-to-see figure ran, following its every move.

~*~

"RAAAANMA!! Dammit, Shampoo HAD to pick today of all days to show up. Then it HAD to rain. When it FINALLY got sunny again, he goes Neko-ken on me... and now he's hopping around Nerima, using every tree as a scratching post!!! ARRRGH! That IDIOT!" Stomping off and seething, Akane Tendo continued her search for the cat-like boy perched in a tree just above her.

Her scent carried up to the branches where he sat on his haunches, which were strangely covered in a lightweight, yet dark-colored fabric. It most certainly wasn't fur, but then...?

Neko-Ranma had tried to scratch it off, but to no avail. It was thick and unrelenting fabric, despite the feel of nothingness on his skin.

But that didn't matter now.

Neko-Ranma stared at the girl wandering on the streets below him. She smelled nice, and he vaguely remembered her touch being soothing and calm. Hadn't she been the one to give him all that cat-nip so long ago? Had he thanked her for that?

The boy-cat grinned in a feline manner and then hopped nimbly from branch to branch.

He could tell, it was almost time. And SHE'D be the one he'd have.

~*~

Kuno held a bouquet of freshly purchased lilacs, blossoming brightly, and matching the beauteous Akane Tendo's complexion
perfectly. No doubt she would love them, take them from him with stars lighting her eyes, and throw her arms upon him and...

**POUNCE**

"Vile creature that dares to land upon the great and noble Tatewaki 'Blue Thunder' Kuno! Show yourself, wicked specimen!" Kuno demanded, the bouquet forgotten as Kuno weilded his wooden bokken.

In the shadows, a pair of blue eyes glinted. All the senses in his brain screamed at him to attack. This was a foe, an enemy.
Someone who would prevent him from attaining his goal. But he would do it stealthily, sneakily, as was the way of the cat.

But the emotion which the humans called "anger" built up inside of Neko-Ranma, and he couldn't help but yowl as he descended upon the kendo club president.

~*~

"RANMA! BAKA!" Akane yelled, calling for him. She suddenly realized why all her searching was for naught.

"Ranma... here, kitty, kitty..." Akane called softly this time, and made a clicking sound with her tongue.

That didn't work.

Akane made it sound like she was whispering to someone, making Psst noises in little nooks and crannies -places where cats were common, even if Ranma wasn't REALLY a cat.

'He just HAD to go Neko...' Akane grumbled to herself. She finally tired out, and settled under the shade of a tree near a small park.

"AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!"

That scream was all too familiar to Akane.

"RANMA-NO-BAKA!!" Akane yelled, as she ran in the direction of Upperclassman Kuno's scream.

The cat-in-boy's-body hissed furiously at the seventeen-year-old bokken weilding boy, one Tatewaki "Blue Thunder" Kuno. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up stiffly, and his eyes turned to slits. Though he wasn't a real cat, his fists extended sharp nails, sharper than any normal teenage boy's, and strangely pointed. His thumb was contorted in a strange manner that allowed him to grip branches, hang upside down and sideways, and scratch.

"Vile Saotome..." Kuno muttered. The last time he had gone ballistic like this, he had completely *shredded* his bokken, his robe, and a good patch of his hair. So long as he didn't tempt him, perhaps he wouldn't...

The split second before Kuno's thought could be completed, Neko-Ranma jumped, Akane arrived on the scene, and Kuno screamed.

~*~

Akane had never run faster in her life, not even when she was training to restore her own honor against two girls who claimed to be heiresses to the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts and the Tendo Training Hall.

It surprised her, more than anything, that Kuno's, of all people's safety, would worry her. But this was Ranma, and in Neko-ken form, no less. He was uncontrollable.

Genma had said the first time this had happened, that only an old woman who was long since dead, or the reversion from male to female, or vice-versa, depending on which form Ranma was in when he entered the Neko-ken, could snap Ranma out of it.

Akane had proven him wrong,

When she calmed Ranma using cat-nip, and he didn't act hostile towards her at all.

Rather, he was like a docile kitten in her arms, waiting to be petted and fed a warm dish of milk. Putty in her hands, as Nabiki had put it. Surely if Ranma had any sense of the world around him as a HUMAN when he was in Neko-ken, he'd be very easy to extort. But he didn't, and either way, Ranma didn't seem to like Nabiki any more in his Neko-form than he did when he thought straight.

Akane was the only one who could control him, but she hadn't been able to find him since he had reverted.

She ran faster, and when she finally got to the scene, Ranma was milliseconds from giving Kuno scars that would show twenty years from now.

And faster than Ranma's own Kachuu Tenshin Amiguriken, she sped in between Kuno and the pouncing, hissing Ranma, her arms crossed to form the only shield she could manage.

---

She heard the ripping of her own skin, felt the coolness as the blood rushed onto her arm. There was the thump of Kuno collapsing behind her, unconsious. The light tap of Neko-Ranma landing on the ground in front of her, looking as stricken as a boy possessed by a cat could.

Akane collapsed in a heap, her arms stinging and burning as if they were on fire. A metallic taste filled her throat; it was blood.
It didn't matter that she hadn't been scathed across the stomach, sending vast quarts of blood up her esophagus; she was bleeding, and she knew it. No, she didn't really *know* it because of the pain, the numbness that settled in soon after. Nor did she *know* she was bleeding becuase of the feel of a thick liquid running down her arms, tingling and stimulating every nerve...

"Meowr?" Neko-Ranma looked up curiously at the girl. For a cat, he mused, he was sure feeling strange. Why was the girl on the ground? And she smelled -Neko-Ranma sniffed- different. Like... blood?

The boy on his haunches cautiously approached the vacant-eyed girl, and the minute he saw the red liquid streaming down her arms, he yowled in terror.

He had done that to her!? NO!!

But he had to help her, had to save her, had to stop the blood! Had to do something! But what!?

Hesitantly, Neko-Ranma used his head to lift her arm, and semi-curling in Akane's lap, he began to lick at her wounds.

Her eyes remained vacant and unseeing; Kuno remained unconscious. The world around them didn't stop or slow; it kept right on going, and for some odd reason, no one noticed the two, crumpled in the walkway of a public park.

~*~

When Akane "awoke" again, the pain had subsided much, and all she seemed to be feeling at the moment was a weight in her lap. A weight in her lap?

Neko-Ranma was curled up, mewling sadly, occasionally nudging at her arms.

Slowly, and somewhat weakly, Akane lifted her arms, and was startled to see the blood flow had stopped. The cuts weren't half as deep as she had thought, and the redness was blood smeared, and slowly dried. But her arms still felt wet.

The light hairs on her arms were swirled in no particular fashion, the gashes on her arms causing many of them to look out-of-
place, and loose. Many of them were simply STUCK to her skin, rather than being there by naturality. Stuck with a sheen of wetness that mixed with the blood.

Wha--?

Neko-Ranma looked deep into Akane's startled eyes, and then purred, curling up against her chest. Not getting a response, he nudged her, and then gently "pawed" one of her arms, and then puffed up, sitting on his hauches while still in her lap, as if saying, "I did that."

Akane gulped slightly, and then stumbled to stand, sending Neko-Ranma to the asphalt, looking somewhat peeved, but not overly upset.

"I... I have to see.. Dr. Tofu..." Akane stumbled, clutching her one throbbing arm, the one, though clean and free of fresh blood,
had been the foremost arm that she had used to shield Kuno from Neko-Ranma's deadly attack.

Kuno?

He was passed out on the asphalt still, silly boy.

Akane gingerly moved her arms in order to deposit him on a bench, and then she stumbled back towards Dr. Tofu's office,
Neko-Ranma padding along in worry behind her.

~*~

"Akane, what a pleasant sur--" Tofu was unceremoniously cut off as Akane fainted into his arms, the blood loss too much for her. Though she had taken her time, the fact that she had run so fast and hard to block the attack she had recieved, the fact that she had been applying gentle pressure to it made it throb more, made everything around her thrum twice as powerful in her brain...

"MROROW!" Neko-Ranma meowled when he saw Akane collapse, and he watched as the suspicious character carried her indoors.

Dr. Tofu hadn't seen Ranma in Neko form before, but the matter at hand required his utmost medical attention. He made sure Akane was breathing, and then began to tend to the gashes on her arm.

He mumbled all throughout the process, wondering how on earth Akane could have gotten them. A suspicious Ranma, using his legs as "haunches" was crouching near the table Akane lay upon, was meowing, and Tofu remembered his studies of martial arts.

'... A deadly and powerful technique, one that is hard to master, and is incredibly dangerous when used on the battlefield. However, it is just another one of those techniques used by an idiot who wants to be all-powerful. The side effects of the Neko-ken training are irrepairable, and tend to give the holder more than a fair share of cat-like qualities...'

There was more, Tofu was sure, but the matter at hand was Akane's injuries.

Minutes later, Tofu had disinfected and wrapped her arm up in a bandage. He was amazed that the blood had stopped so quickly. Judging from the amount of blood on her shirt and skirt, she had gotten injured, at the most, only twenty minutes before.

He looked to Neko-Ranma, who glared at Tofu before mewling at Akane and finally accepting the fact that she was asleep. He too, curled up, and fell asleep, a human-sized ball at her feet.

Tofu walked into the kitchen area of his office, as it also housed his apartment, and began heating some water. He already had a glass of ice water ready, and no doubt Ranma would want to change back immediately, as he always did. Once he returned to the medical area, he sipped at a cup of tea he had made. The rest of the hot water was steaming in a thermos, ready to be used whenever Ranma should wake up.

Tofu removed an aged green book from his shelves, and began reading.

'The Neko-ken is a highly advanced combat technique, deadly, and normally only trained to those under the best teachers of martial arts. Its side-effects are irrepreable, and often permanently damages the mental abilities necessary to withstand the Neko-ken's rigorous training. In more recent years, training of the "Cat-Fist" technique, as it is called when translated from the Ancient Japanese, has been banned by training halls and dojos across the country, but few still practice it, as a technique to be used only in the most dire of situations. These days, because the ancient methods of teaching it are long since lost, those that try to rediscover it often do it incorrectly, and while the subject may gain the abilities of Neko-ken, the side-effects become even worse than the technique itself.'

Ranma had done so much damage in his cat form. To himself, or to others more, Tofu didn't really know. He had yet to study Ranma in his Neko-ken form. It surely made him a more physically agile martial artist. He knew his strengths and weaknesses, also, but sometimes he abused them with his sense of pride, and overinflated ego.

'I should wake Akane up now.' Tofu thought.

He set the empty teacup on the endtable near the stretcher-table on which she lay.

He shook her gently, and though she didn't respond nor awaken at first, and oddly, neither did Neko-Ranma.

Tofu remembered the cat-boy, and poured some cold water over the hunched figure at the end of the stretcher. Just as the cold water activated the curse and awoke Ranma, Tofu poured the hot water over him, and the curse went into remission.

Ranma woke with a confused expression on his face, and he stretched from his position, his muscles aching at the crimp he had put himself into.

He immediately noticed the unconscious Akane on the bed he had been curled up on, and turned wild eyes towards Tofu.

"What happened to her?"
"I'm not too sure. She came here, with you in tow in Neko-form, and then fainted."
"From...?" Ranma trailed off, staring coldly at the bandage covering her arm.
"Blood loss." Tofu said seriously, attempting to wake Akane.
She awoke on her own, the wetness from the water Tofu had splashed Ranma with seeping to her part of the mattress on the stretcher.

"Ungh... Dr. Tofu? Whe- Where's Ranma?" Akane asked groggily, trying to sit up and look around.
"Akane..." Tofu began, but Ranma was off the bed and by her side, holding the hand of her uninjured arm as lightly as he could manage, what with his nerves so frayed after the Neko-ken, as well as seeing Akane hurt.

Was it because of him? God... no...

"Akane, it's me, Ranma. I'm right here. Sshh. No," Ranma pushed her gently back to the mattress, though damp, and told
her to lay back and relax; she was hurt.

'Oh... that's right. Ranma was acting especially violent towards Kuno for some reason. Even if Kuno is an idiot, he didn't
deserve the attack that was coming for him. I blocked it... and...'

The pain seemed to come back twentyfold. It stung still, but not as strongly. Memories came back to her like waves
coming in with the tide.

Neko-Ranma, looking at her piteously. He didn't mean to do it, Akane knew that. But why had he reacted so violently to Kuno
in the first place?

Her stumbling to Tofu's office. The world spinning around her, and then blackening.

Akane fell back into a dreamless sleep, as Ranma stood watch over her, and then proceeded to grill the good doctor.
"What the hell did I do?"
"You... well, it might not have been you."
"Then what happened to her? I don't remember anything since..."

Ranma glanced at the clock on the wall, and his eyes widened.
"It's been five hours since I saw Shampoo and it started raining!? Good god..."
"You've been asleep for about forty minutes." Tofu said, hoping it would reassure the boy at least a little bit.
"And...?" What about the rest of the time? Surely he couldn't have spent four hours and twenty minutes in Neko, just wandering
around?

"Akane came in here with severe blood loss from the arteries in her arms. Amazingly, the wounds were not bleeding any more,
but treatment had been rather... primitive."
"How so?" Ranma asked, holding back a gulp.

It was time to replace the bandanges anyhow, so Tofu unwound the white gauze and showed Ranma.

Four, long, 3 millimeter deep gashes covered Akane's arm, from four centimeters above her wrist up to her elbow. Though
the cuts weren't very deep, they did cut deep enough to reveal some severed layers of skin, stained red and peeling. But the
bandages had been applied onto what looked like CLEAN skin, as if someone had washed them, but not completely.

Ranma blanched.

"I don't want to jump to conclusions, but it looks like you did this Ranma."
"God, no." Ranma mumbled, his eyes becoming vacant.
"Not just the gashes Ranma. It was no doubt an accident. You would never harm Akane, no matter what form you were in. But
I do think you helped clean the blood off her arm. Open your mouth."

Ranma complied unthinkingly, and Dr. Tofu inspected the inside of his mouth with a magnifying scope and small light.
"As I thought." Ranma gulped and closed his mouth as Tofu took the tools out. He stared at the doctor hard, wondering
what he was right about.

"You have blood in your mouth. Probably her blood. Now, wait, it's not a bad thing. You saved her life *again* Ranma. She's
probably grateful, if not a little embarassed. It's not every day someone claws her arms and then starts licking them." Tofu chuckled, and then laughed outright at the stark blanch expression on Ranma's face.

The poor boy collapsed into a heap on the tiled floor, shaking his head while he continually licked his lips and gulped.

~*~

It was late evening, and Ranma and Akane had long since gone home. Tofu had watched them as they retreated back to the dojo, Akane's cast-covered arm in a sling, and they were still as, if not more so, uncomfortable with each other as the day they had met.

Tofu took this time upon himself to read more on the Neko-ken, as well as cats.

'I wonder if Ranma imitates specific kinds of cats. He was trained using domestics and strays, but his abilities seem to
be that of a much stronger feline; perhaps a lynx or a tiger.'
Tofu mused, going through his book collection on Advanced Combat. Finally finding the book he wanted, he wondered why Ranma had not come to him before on advice with the Neko-ken.

Perhaps it was because the change was so rare, and when it did happen, there were two ways to deal with it: get Akane to tame him, or splash him with cold water -or hot water, if Ranma was a girl while in Neko form.

"Secrets of the Neko-ken." Tofu smiled. It was an old book, perhaps 200 years or more, but Tofu's extensive knowledge on
martial arts as well as Ancient Japanese allowed him to read the book with ease. It provided him with great insight to Ranma's
current "problem"...

~*~

The next morning, Akane came back, with a rather shy Ranma in tow, just as Tofu had told her to.

After he finished rewrapping her arm, he told them both to sit down.

"I found out why Ranma was gone so long after changing yesterday."

"I usually go Neko-ken and end up someplace familiar. Akane either splashes me or calms me down until someone does." Ranma put in quietly. Akane gave him a 'look' that was gentle and kind, but didn't say very much.

"And?" Akane prompted. She wondered why Ranma hadn't Neko'd and gone after Shampoo-neko, seeing as when Ranma was a cat, he was much more susceptible to suggestion, especially from "another cat".

Tofu looked uncomfortable for a minute; this wasn't his practice. Sure, he was a martial artist, but he wasn't cut out to be telling teenagers why their fiancees were going bonkers.

"Ehm... it seems that Ranma's 'cat form' has reached its maturity." Tofu sincerely hoped that got the message across, but
the second he put his tea down and looked at the two teens, their expression was true confusion, bewilderment, and a bit of blank

'Huh?'

"Doc, what does that mean?" Ranma finally asked.
"Well, it... you see... Akane, may I speak with you alone for a minute?" Tofu asked. Suddenly he thought that Akane would
take this better than Ranma would. After all, if he told the two of them at the same time -in the same room, no less- who knew
what the reaction would be?

Akane followed Dr. Tofu into his private office, away from the small seating area where guests waited.

"What is it, Dr. Tofu?" Akane asked, somewhat concerned. She didn't really understand what Dr. Tofu had said about
'Ranma's cat form reaching its maturity.' Did that mean Ranma would die? God, she hoped not.

"Akane, you know how teenagers go through... puberty?" Tofu finally asked, getting much too shy to meet her gaze. Akane blanched, and nodded dumbly.

"The same appears to be happening with Ranma's cat form. It might also be true for Ranma himself, as he is maturing into
a fine young man, and will soon be seeking out more than companionship."

"Doctor, are you saying..." Akane gulped and tried to think of a reasonable, not-disgusting way to finish her sentence. It didn't
come to mind.

"What I think you're saying?" She whispered, hoarse.
"Ranma's cat form wants you as his mate." Tofu said quietly.

Akane became whiter than a sheet, and started trembling violently. Tofu had to lead her to a chair in order to get her to sit down and attempt to calm herself.

"Ma-Mate with me? But that means... that means!" Akane stuttered helplessly. Unwanted visions of a male Neko-Ranma and her... in BED raced through her mind, causing Akane to cringe and choke on her own breath.

"The technique of Neko-ken brings the trainee so close to being like a cat mentally, that he or she believes himself to not just be 'more than the average cat', but having a human body, and still needing the essential of life: a partner. From the beginning, it seems Neko-Ranma has chosen you, and Ranma's own personal feelings toward you must only enhance what Ranma desires you for --physically-- while in his cat-form."

"De-Desires?" Akane thought, her face suddenly reddening.

'Ranma... wants me? Physically, as well as emotionally? It seems like that's what Dr. Tofu is saying but...' Akane's thoughts, as usual, came to an abrupt halt. Every day, she was led to question her relationship with Ranma, and every day she wondered if she had the courage to just ASK him how he felt about her, and end the confusion once and for all.

Before, she had always had an excuse not to do so. First and foremost, Ranma ALWAYS had those other fiancees hanging
around him. Even if he didn't, he acted like a jerk, and it was just reflex to knock him into low orbit. And EVEN THEN,
when he wasn't *trying* to act like a jerk, and what Akane thought might be his true feelings showed through... either he or someone else screwed the moment up.

Now, however, it was more than her pride and her pain holding her back. She had to ask him, or her virginity would be at stake. No doubt she'd have to get out of high school two years early, having married Ranma, because her father and Mr. Saotome would surely do that after they... they...

"Yes, Akane. But I'm afraid that's not all." Tofu looked deadly serious, such an extravagent change from when he was gentle and foolish whenever the "K-word" was mentioned. (The "K-word" being "Kasumi," of course)

"It's not?" Akane squeaked.

"HEY!! If you guys are talking about me, I'd sure like to hear! If this is about the Neko-ken, then I have every right to know!!" Ranma called in, still being polite enough not to intrude and cause Akane severe embarassment.

"Unless you talk to Ranma about his feelings -or you realize what the eventual resullt of ignorance will be- then he will, upon his next Neko-transformation, make you his life-partner while in cat form. It will no doubt be painful, but you are the only one who has any control whatsoever over Ranma in that form. You MUST, at all costs, tame him, while he is still conscious of what he is doing, so he may better control his emotions while in Neko."

"I-I'll try." Akane whispered, finding her feet thoroughly interesting.

"Ranma! Please come in here!" Tofu called. Ranma walked in quickly but surely, not missing Akane's downturned and scarlet face. He wondered just what Tofu had said to make her so red.

"When you scratched Akane, and then mixed your saliva with her blood, you caused some kind of a reaction; a side-effect
of the Neko-ken, if you will."

Akane looked up in surprise; she wasn't expecting this. This must have been what Dr. Tofu wanted to tell the both of them! But... what was the side-effect? And who was going to be affected?

"The side-effect is only temporary, but dangerous in itself. It seems that you, though you are still human while in Neko-ken form, change metabolically."

"Meta-what?" Ranma asked, having never paid much attention in biology class.
"Metabolically. Chemically. Inside you, your internal organs -not just your conscious thought, your brain- reacted to the Neko-ken change. Because it was stronger and longer this last time..." -Tofu omitted why for Akane's sake- "...it affected your organs more than it normally did, triggering something in your DNA."

"You mean... this Neko-ken thing is always gonna be permanent? It's part of me and my blood now?" Ranma asked shakily.

No... he wanted it to be like the curse, something that had a cure, something to stop it! He wanted to learn to like cats, really he did! But he had to face his fear of them first, and now... now, the doctor was telling him he couldn't, ever!?

"Ranma... it's not you." Tofu said solemnly, too upset that the patients he was closest with, and treated like his own younger
relatives... had to hear this.

"Your saliva mixed with Akane's blood *in her wound*. She is the one to be taking side-effects of the Neko-ken. Not you."
Akane looked up once more, her face as white as before, while Ranma sat stoically, not moving nor daring to utter a word.

~*~

"So, imouto, just what is this side effect?" Nabiki asked nonchalantly while chewing on a cookie.
Since Akane had come home some hours ago, she had been depressed, and told her two elder sisters why. Her father
and his best friend were at the bathhouse, luckily, and didn't hear Akane speak of her fear to become Ranma's 'mate'.

Once Akane had finished retelling what Dr. Tofu had told her, silence reigned in the Tendo-Saotome home. Surprisingly, it was
Kasumi who spoke first.

"Oh come now, Akane, it can't be that bad. Ranma has a *wonderful* body..."

Because of this comment, Kasumi earned two shocked, bewildered and eye-twitching stares.

"What?" Kasumi asked innocently, as if she'd said nothing out of the ordinary.

"Apparently," Akane began, fumbling with her fingers, "I'll gain the effects of the Neko-ken, just as if I were trained and succeeded in learning the technique." Akane's voice was hardly a whisper as she finished speaking, and again, silence prevailed.

"Wow. Woulda imagine that? You and Ranma will have the most *wild* animal sex there has ever been in the history of mankind!" Nabiki chuckled while she downed another glass of milk.

"Nabiki!" Kasumi scolded. At the same time, Akane yelled her sister's name, her eyes beginning to well with tears.
"Nabiki!"

Truth be told, if both she and Ranma were in Neko-ken form then neither would remember the aftermaths of their doings until
after they woke up -and that was pretty iffy, especially in Ranma's case.

The only thing that would truly bring Ranma back to the conscious world from the Neko-ken was the curse being activated -or going into remission, as the case had been- and Akane didn't want any of it.

But, Dr. Tofu had said that the next time Ranma goes Neko, the curse being activated or going into remission won't help.
Whatever form he was in, s/he was stuck with it until s/he was sated... and Akane knew full well what that meant. It meant
both she and Ranma had to take extra precautions not to get him splashed. Akane was trying to think of a way they could avoid the sex part altogether, but with her in Neko-ken form too...

'But when will *I* go Neko?' Akane wondered. Dr. Tofu hadn't said. But no doubt it would roughly be the same time as Ranma. So again, they BOTH had to stay away from cats and water.

Ranma, meanwhile, was walking outside. The sky had cleared somewhat, and he was careful to carry an umbrella. He didn't
want to chance changing and going home to Akane, or maybe seeing a cat, and going Neko on her in girl form.

Ranma shuddered involuntarily. In the back of his mind, his conscience was screaming that the first time he had with Akane
would NOT, under any circumstances, be because of some dork side-effect of his Neko-ken training brought on by his stupid father. And certainly not because of his curse. ELCH! No, the first time they made love, it would be when he was a full man, just for her.

Then Ranma's "rational" mind yelled at him for thinking of such perverted thoughts. It began spouting off how much Akane
hated his guts, and not just because of his curse.

Now angry at himself, Ranma grumbled, "Well it's not me. She yells at *you*." 'You' was actually him... Ranma himself, but he
was actually blaming all the fights he got into with Akane on his act-before-think conscience.

Suddenly, Ranma found himself wandering rather close to the Nekohanten, and he most assuredly DIDN'T want to go inside.
As hungry as he was, he needed someone to unload his feelings on, and it most assuredly wasn't Shampoo or Cologne. Ukyo, though his best friend, wouldn't understand. Ranma was beginning to see what Akane had been trying to tell him for a long while -that Ukyo saw him as much more than a friend, and he didn't. It scared him that he might lose out on such a precious friendship just because Ukyo had -and this was exactly how Ranma viewed it- a silly crush on him

"Get out Mousse! How many times I tell you I no love you!" Shampoo's thickly accented voice yelled out as she tossed Mousse
out the back door into the alley of the Nekohanten and another shop.

Ranma approached the heap of robes and trash bags somewhat slowly, wondering if he should bother to help Mousse or not. Mousse was very tempermental in his eyes, going from all nice and lovey-dovey over Shampoo to fierce competition and danger to himself and others the next.

"Mousse? Hey, man? Are you okay?" Ranma asked, approaching his fellow cursed-martial artist semi-friend.

"Ungh... fear not Shampoo, I will... win you..." Mousse collapsed into his robes once more, and Ranma shook his head resignedly. He had taken a real beating this time. Why he stood for it when he was such a strong martial artist was beyond him.

Then again, maybe it wasn't, Ranma reasoned. Mousse loved Shampoo unconditionally, and would never hurt her, despite the fact that in order to win 'her love', one had to defeat her. Because Mousse would never hurt her, and would severely injure anyone who hurt Shampoo, there was no way around it. It was a continuing loop.

What bugged Ranma the most was how he was 'engaged' to Shampoo because of Amazon Laws... but not just the laws made
him mad. No, it was the fact that they said 'anyone who defeats her in fair battle.' The 'fair battle' that Shampoo had been
beaten at was nothing other than preventing her from killing Akane, and getting bonked on the head with her own bonbori
in the process.

Ranma lifted the young man up and placed his arm around his shoulder. The two stumbled off farther into Nerima, finding
a restaraunt where no one knew them, and no one cared.

~*~

"Guh... where am I? Who the... Saotome!!" Mousse was, at first startled. He could SEE!! Hadn't Shampoo knocked his
glasses off... after she had... tossed him out... again...?

Mousse sighed. Sometimes, it was so hopeless. Sure, Ranma was okay-looking and all, but truly, Mousse had so many of the
female customers flirt with him, and whenever he saw Ranma without a fiancee, NO ONE flirted with him. Why was that? Why
would darling Shampoo go after someone undesirable to the rest of the female race -which, Mousse remembered painfully, represented her tribe: The Joketsuzoku Amazons, a female-dominating group of warriors where honor was everything, and it didn't matter where, but Amazon law was THE law.

"Yeah. Hey, Mousse." Finally beocming accustomed to his surroundings, Mousse looked around. They were in a two-person
booth with dim lighting in a restaraunt Mousse did not recognize. His curiousity was piqued. There were lots of questions, and it seemed only Saotome could answer them.

For once, he dropped his guard and remembered that Ranma was his partner in crime for more than one thing. He was a artial artist, he was cursed, he had problems with women (though his were much greater in number, it seemed), and he didn't seem to like Shampoo all that much, so when Shampoo's feelings were hurt by him, it was never intentionally.

'I guess I never should have beaten up on him so many times.' Mousse thought.
"Saotome... where are we? And how did I get here? And what are *you* doing here?" Mousse pointed an accusing finger at
Ranma, to which was attached a ring and a thin gold chain that slipped into the blackness of Mousse's robes, concealing numerous weapons.

"WE, Mousse, are at the Crown Fruits Kissaten not too far from the Nekohanten. You got here because I dragged you out of the alley from behind the Nekohanten, 'cause I saw what happened and not even YOU deserve senseless beatings for no good reason."

Mousse could only grin stupidly at that last comment. It was more than obvious who Ranma was implying *he* got his senseless beatings from.

"But why did you--" Mousse stopped. Ranma looked eerily depressed, and had it not been for his obvious appearance: a Mandarin shirt in deep scarlet, drawstring black pants and a pigtail that came to his shoulderblades, then Mousse could easily have mistaken him for Ryoga, the Eternally Lost and Depressed Boy.

With OR without his glasses on.

"What's wrong with you, Saotome?" Mousse finally asked. He smiled briefly at a waitress who gave them some green tea,
and she went skimpering off, her face a light pink hue.

"It's..." Ranma started, barely looking at his companion. Could he tell him? Why not?

'We have more than one common goal. Get cured, get Shampoo away from me, and to him. Why can't I tell him about my problem with Akane?'

"It's...?" Mousse prodded. Ranma had an ego swelled to the size of the United States, and seeing him depressed was like
seeing a happy-go-lucky Ryoga, or a Shampoo that could speak perfect Japanese. It just didn't happen.

"Well, there's something with me." Mousse scoffed. Wasn't there always? Ranma cocked a half-angry eyebrow at him and
continued, staring at the table listlessly.

"You know I'm petrified of... ca-ca... ca.. felines, so when my fear reaches a peak I... I..."
"You use the ancient technique of Neko-ken." Mousse completed.
"Exactly." Ranma grinned, but it quickly faded when memories of that technique's sorrows were brought back to him.

"It seems to me, however, that you never completed your training, or you would have much more control over yourself than you do when in that form." Mousse commented.

"You're right. But my dad was just another one of those guys who wanted to be all-powerful, and trained me *wrong*. Sure the
technique works, but at a price." Ranma finished glumly.

"The price...?"
"I never remember what I do when I'm in Neko-form. I could do something stupid, something wonderful, or something horrible.
But once I regain my conscience, I don't remember a thing."
"So what, exactly, is the problem now? You've been here in Nerima just a while longer than I have; you've obviously had
time to get used to your curse and this Neko-ken aspect of your personality."
"Get used to it? Hah. Well, maybe. But I never expected what happened yesterday..."

And just after the waitress took their orders, Ranma explained everything that had happened- according to Dr. Tofu and Akane.
Mousse's eyes had been wide behind his glasses before, and now, his eyes looked almost as wide as Cologne's or Happosai's.
"Wow." Mousse finally uttered. Ranma was IN for it. Like the other Jusenkyo-cursed, if Ranma was within a three-mile radius of
water, it found a way to splash him. How in Kami's name was he going to avoid changing?

"Mousse... you HAVE to help me. Keep Shampoo away from me at *all* costs." Ranma was looking eerily serious now, and Mousse choked on his breath. His eyes demanded something harsh and needed, and Mousse was afraid to say no.

"I will, Saotome. On my word." Mousse nodded slowly and shook hands with the younger man.
"I don't want ANYONE hurt. If I went Neko, Shampoo would be injured, no matter *what* form she was in." Ranma explained
soon after Mousse gave his word, and yet remained confused.

"Why... why is that?" Mousse asked, almost timid.
"I'm..." Ranma gulped, and suddenly found that, because Mousse was not a rival for his (in girl-form) or Akane's affections,
that it was relatively safe to tell HIM how he felt about Akane.

"I'm in love with Akane. She's the only one who can break me out of the Neko-ken spell, like I said before. If I go Neko
on Shampoo, I *will* hurt her."

"I promised on my word, Saotome. My word is my bond."
"Good. Let's keep it that way."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*

Well, that's it... for now. I'm pretty busy with other fandoms, and I have a lot of webpages to fix up, so it may be a while before you see Part 2 of this. But hey, now Part 1 is reformatted and pretty! ^_^ And also up on FFnet! YAAY!

Be sure to check out my site(s) -- review/email me if you get the chance!

~Azurite