See chapter 15
"Never thought I'd see this day," Ranma chuckled, taping a box closed.
"I did, but I thought you'd be going with me," Cologne replied, setting another box down by the entrance of the Nekohanten.
Ranma smirked. "No way. Shampoo's nice, as a friend, but she's too… clingy. She's like an octopus. All grabby, and doesn't let go."
"I would think that someone your age would enjoy that kind of attention. I never could figure out why you tried so hard to push her away. Almost all the men in the village would kill to be in your position, and the few others would rather be chased by Mousse."
"That's… disturbing." Ranma grimaced, before setting down the freshly taped box by the door. "And what's an old lady like you need so much junk for?"
"This 'junk' is the work of 300 years worth of life. Even I need something to remind myself of younger days, pup."
"I guess I can kind of understand that. As for the touching thing… every day on the road was training. Everything was training. I had to fight Pops for everything. For sleep, for the right to bathe, to get food, and then to keep it. That's all I knew, ya know. For ten years. Then, one day, I come here, and all the instincts that kept me fed or kept Pops from beating on me kept saying that it's all an attack, even if I knew it wasn't. It'd be like… like havin' Happosai hug ya without groping ya. You know the difference, but…"
"But experience tells you otherwise. I guess I never saw it that way. I'll be damned, young Saotome, you managed to teach me something new."
Ranma grinned, and sat down in a chair near the door. "Not my fault if you're going senile on me. So, uh," he gestured up the stairs in the back, towards a locked door. "How's Shampoo doing?"
Cologne sighed. Her heir was taking the news better than she had expected, but that didn't mean she was not upset. "She has barricaded herself in her room, and refuses to speak to anyone. She will be leaving with me to go home, but I do not think she will her happy self for a long time. It is, sadly, the first lesson she has ever truly failed to grasp."
"Which lesson is that?" Ranma asked, curious.
"One which she was supposed to have learned by now, but I fear it will take more time and more pain (and several fights) on her part before she gets it," the Amazon Elder replied as she set a delicate tea-set wrapped in bubble-sheet into a box. "That lesson is this: 'No matter how hard you want it or try, things do not always go your way.' A lesson you've known for a while, I suspect."
Ranma chuckled weakly. "Do you think I should…?"
"If you want to assuage any guilt you might have, you may," Cologne answered the unfinished question. "But I assure you, you are not truly to blame here. I have been in a position similar to yours, though not nearly as complicated. No matter what you say, nothing you can tell her will make her feel any better. That, I'm afraid, is something that only time can do. I'll let you know when she improves, and if she ever learns that lesson in the end."
The pig-tailed martial artist sighed, and decided to change the subject. "So what's the deal with the Nekohanten, anyway? I heard you an' Nabiki talking about it after we got back home."
Cologne finished her packing, and sat herself on the box next to Ranma. "We're keeping it open, but Shampoo, Mousse, and I are all going home to China. It's been too long since I last saw the village, anyway. Young Ms. Tendo pointed out the fact that any Amazons we send over here are going to need to earn their keep, and have a place to stay. The Cat Café can serve both purposes. The rooms upstairs will be theirs, and the work here will be more than able to pay the bills, especially if all the people who work here are young Amazon girls, like Shampoo. I daresay the customers didn't come for my old face." The Amazon Elder sighed. "I've started the paperwork that will transfer the ownership of the building to a small corporation that will be owned in part by myself, Nabiki Tendo, and you. The paperwork has been started on that, as well. I am a little concerned that the girls I send this way are going to be too busy working to train…"
"Don't worry. Working here will be training, I'll see ta that."
"I don't doubt it," Cologne replied dryly. "Ms. Tendo is very enterprising. She plans to open another Nekohanten restaurant, the same distance away from the dojo as this one, but on the opposite side, where it's closer to the business section of the city, that way you can keep an eye on my Amazons while they are here."
"You know, that's a great idea. You know what I'm thinking?" Ranma asked, while Cologne raised an eye at the concept. "We can start the beginners over here, since this place is pretty big, and start them workin' and training at the same time. When they get strong enough, we give them the option of going home, or kinda like, 'graduating' over to the other restaurant. That way, when it opens, it's got people working there who already know what they need to do, and tough enough to handle the business and the increase in training at the same time."
Cologne gaped. "You surprise me again. I didn't think you were capable of such… precise thinking."
"Me an' Nabiki thought it up together after you left," Ranma confessed.
Cologne pulled a face. "I should have known better. There's no way you could have come up with that on your own."
"Yeah, well…" Ranma grumbled. "An' what's with the tattoo?" he gestured over at his neck, where two dark red slashes could be seen running from the middle of his neck, up around his jaw, stopping just below his right ear.
Make that her right ear.
"Where the hell did that water even come from?" Cologne muttered. "No matter. That 'tattoo' is actually a marking that identifies you as the Elder of a village of Amazons. For you, and any Japanese Amazon, we will use dark red. In China, we use black. This is to identify you, and provide any Amazons we send with a means of automatically knowing who you are, and what position you hold, no matter the form your body takes."
"Er, I kinda guessed that. I meant, where did it come from? And I don't see any on you."
Cologne chuckled. "Just another bit of Amazon magic. Now, now, don't scowl at me like that, it's perfectly harmless. And the reason you've never seen mine is because I'm much shorter than you. How often do you see the underside of my jaw?"
Ranma grunted, still not entirely comfortable with any kind of magic placed on him without his knowledge. "Good point," he agreed. He'd have to be on the floor looking up, with Cologne staring at the ceiling for him to get a good look at it.
"I also wear high-necked shirts." Cologne pointed out.
Ranma snorted, and idly picked up the last of the boxes, and stacked it with the others by the door.
"And most of the people in the village recognize me on sight, so I don't need to have mine on display."
Ranma nodded, smirking. "Yeah, I guess I'd recognize someone who looks like a shed snake skin, too."
Mousse sighed as he approached the Nekohanten. Elder Cologne was convinced that he was returning to China with her and Shampoo, and the sometimes-duck was in no hurry to disillusion her. While Cologne and Shampoo were taking a flight back to China, Mousse was told he would be traveling with the boxes being sent by ship. It would only be when the packages arrived, a couple of weeks from now in the village, would Cologne be presented with a letter from Mousse explaining that he would be staying behind in Japan. It was a necessary deception, since Ranma didn't want to challenge Cologne in battle, to forcibly take the honor and privileges that she had simply given to him.
Ranma Saotome, Mousse realized, was a genuinely kind, nice person.
The door of the Nekohanten flew off with a crash, and girl-type Ranma shot out of the restaurant, laughing madly, with Elder Cologne in a maddened pursuit.
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING A SHED SNAKE SKIN!" she screamed, waving her stick wildly.
On the other hand, Mousse decided, he was totally immature child.
Not that he himself was much better, the blind Amazon thought with an embarrassed-sounding laugh. Embracing Kasumi the same way he embraced Shampoo (or lampposts, televisions, complete strangers, mailboxes, trees, Cologne…) had turned into an almost nightmarish affair involving demon-headed fathers and destructive mallet-wielding little sisters. The worst part, he supposed, as Ranma attempted evasion of Cologne by running in circles around Mousse, was Ranma's mother, who had taken one look at Mousse and Kasumi's entangled limbs, and wept at the sight of Ranma's manliness rubbing off on other men.
Shampoo's going home, Mousse thought to himself. My infatuation with her is over. I'm seeing another girl. He couldn't help but chuckle at the irony of that statement. Ranma Saotome has solved his fiancée problems, and his rivals are gone or allied with him. Even the one fiancée he wanted is actually his.
We're all moving on. How about that? Life is… pretty good.
Well, we still have the curses, but there's no cure for that. It could be worse, Mousse thought as he watched the two martial artists run rings around him. But it might take me a few minutes to figure out how.
WHAM BANG CRUNCH
Ranma and Cologne successfully drove a bruised Mousse into the ground as Ranma used him as a launch pad to catapult himself across the street.
"Saotome…" Mousse groaned as he pulled himself up.
Cologne drove Mousse's face into the pavement for a second time as she chased after the pig-tailed martial artist.
It…It… IT NEVER FREAKING ENDS! Mousse raged internally. He bolted to his feet, racing after Ranma and the Amazon Elder, chains whirling.
"YOU CAN MOVE FASTER THAN THAT, YOU OLD BAT!"
"WHO ARE YOU CALLING AN OLD BAT!"
"SAOTOME, YOU GET BACK HERE AND DIE!"
Kasumi giggled as she watched her sister's fiancée and her current boyfriend rocket down the street.
"Tendo-san, it's me, Ranma. I just wanted to know, Akane and I are getting married tomorrow. It's on the day you died, but Akane says she wants a good memory for that day…"
"… pregnant, can you believe it? We've been trying ever since Mousse and Kasumi had their son…"
"…last week, Akane had our kids. Twin girls. I think she broke my hand…"
"… I'm not going to be coming around to see you too much more. I'm sorry, but… I'm happy now, and I want to spend every moment I can with my family…"
The entire top of the Tendo house detonated with a flash of blue ki. Out of the blue light and smoke bellowed a voice of anger and paranoia.
"Oh, God, now what?" moaned Akane. Giggles erupted from behind her. She turned, and snapped. "Shut-up!"
"Ack!" squawked Akane as someone slammed into her with the force of a moving semi.
"Taro! Saffron! Where!"
"Ranma, let go!" shrieked Akane. "Taro and Saffron aren't here, what the hell gave you that idea? Wait, never mind, I know where. Daisuke!"
"Uh-oh," came a voice from behind the house, followed by the sounds of someone running away.
"Ranma, retrieve Daisuke!"
"What?" Ranma asked, still looking somewhat paranoid.
"Ranma," Akane said in a placating voice, "Taro and Saffron aren't here. It's another of Daisuke's jokes. Retrieve Daisuke."
"Right," Ranma said, and bolted out of the dojo. Akane sighed.
"Ooh, so protective," whispered a voice from behind her.
"And cute without a shirt," giggled another voice.
"I want one," said a third.
"Hey!" snapped Akane again. "My Ranma! Get your own!"
"Aw…" chorused several disappointed voices.
Someone laughed from the dojo entrance. Mousse walked in, with a smiling Kasumi. In her arms was a wriggling creature, looking somewhat blackened. Attached to her leg was a ten-year old girl with black hair and brown eyes. "Let me guess," Mousse said. "Daisuke again?"
"Urgh…" was Akane's reply.
"And I think this belongs to you," Kasumi said, handing over the creature. Akane brushed it off, revealing a girl with brown hair and eyes about nine years old.
"Not mine. Nabiki's. Are you ok, Yukino?" Akane asked.
"My new outfit is ruined!" the girl complained.
"Ah, yes. I didn't hear her speak before I brought her in."
"So that's where she got off to," said Nabiki from the yard. "I was wondering." The middle Tendo sister bent down and asked the girl, "Now, what have we learned?"
"Never wake up Uncle Ranma using the names of people who used to kidnap Aunt Akane," replied the girl in a small voice.
"And?" Nabiki prompted.
"Don't listen to Daisuke, he's a jerk."
Akane snorted in amusement as Ranma arrived, carrying a ten-year-old boy by one ankle. "I have retrieved the spawn of Mousse," he announced.
"Hey! Don't refer to my kid like that!"
Ranma rolled his eyes at the former Chinese Amazon. "Kimiko is nice and sweet. Therefore, she is the cute daughter of Kasumi. Daisuke is evil and insane, and therefore is the spawn of Mousse."
Kasumi laughed while she helped dust off her niece.
"If anyone's kids are going to be called spawn, it'll be your little monstrosities. They're corrupting my little girl!"
"Kentaro isn't corrupting-"
"Kentaro! Where!" said the girl attached to Kasumi's leg, who promptly let go and ran off in an attempt to find said boy. "Where's the boy I'm going to marry!"
"You see! Corruption!"
"Kentaro's adopted," Akane said, "And I think it's cute."
Mousse left to chase down his daughter after taking his son back from Ranma, grumbling about the evil's being fed to his children. "So," Ranma said. "What's going on?"
"Well, you're late for class, baka. Go and teach. And hurry. Your eight-year-old daughters are taking over. And leave your shirt on this time; the girls in there are staring!"
"But I was getting hot!" Ranma objected, even as he walked to the front of the class.
Akane sighed, and sat down in the shade outside the dojo.
"So, imouto, any regrets?" Kasumi asked, joining her in relaxing.
Akane looked out into the yard, where her brother-in-law was chasing her adopted son with whirling chains, but obviously trying to hit him, since his daughter had attached herself to his back. Nabiki and her husband Konatsu were eating lunch. She looked behind her where she could see her husband Ranma at the front of a class of teenagers, having decided that he was better suited to teach them than their daughter. A small-eight year-old girl with blue-black hair and light blue eyes was gnawing at his left ankle, showing her displeasure about being replaced as "Yuka-sensei." Her twin, with red hair and brown eyes, was gnawing on his right knee, showing that Ranma should have left her in charge as "Yuko-sensei." Ranma plucked them both off, and set them on the floor. The smile on Ranma's face matched Akane's. Open, happy, and genuine.
"No. None at all."
OMAKE - OMAKE - OMAKE - OMAKE - OMAKE - OMAKE
"It's coming, Ranma! Hide!" Kasumi warned. As if the incoming house-shaking impacts weren't enough of a warning, since Ranma was already underneath the dining room table, holding herself up with her arms and legs.
"Oh god oh god oh god oh god…" Ranma whispered to himself. "It's here it's here it's here…"
The back door smashed open, and the rattling footsteps smashed into the living room. "WHERE IS HE! I'M GONNA KILL THAT PERVERT!"
"Now, now," Kasumi said. "Calm down, Akane."
Ranma shuddered. "Tomboyasaurus Rex…"
This is the final chapter in Ranma's Morning Confession, and I know it's been a very long time for an update. I completely lost what I was doing, since all my notes went bye-bye following a system crash that involved a cat, a cup of water, and my CPU.
I hate my cat.
And I've moved.
Now I live with my girlfriend, (AnimeCrazyGal), and my computer and cups of water remain five feet away if I think a cat is near.
It's also true that I've been dragging my feet here, and I apologize for that. I'll try to make it up to you all by posting updates as often as I can in future stories. See you around!
This story and all its chapters are dedicated to Crystal, and the spark of Friday, December 10th, 2004.