Cats and Dogs: Inuyasha Nibunnoichi

By Bruce Cougar

Disclaimer: These characters, settings, and events are the works of Rumiko Takahashi, not me. I am merely borrowing them for this story so don't sue me please. Note: This is an AU story so events might be a little different, or really different, or not happen at all. If this makes you unhappy that this isn't like the anime or manga THEN READ OR WATCH RANMA 1/2 AND DON'T COMPLAIN!! Thank you and I hope you enjoy my story

"Indicates spoken words"

'Indicates internal thought'

-Part 19-

Love's Defiance

"I can't believe my two sons almost lost to a bunch of girls!" Genma declared.

"Tell me father, when you die would you prefer it to be quick and painless, or slow and agonizing?" Ranma asked icily.

Soun jumped in to the aide of his friend, "What he means Ranma is that he's proud you boys resolved this conflict without any unnecessary violence." Soun hastily explained.

"Yeah sure, that's what he meant." Legato muttered dryly.

"Well you guys made it out alright that's what counts right." Ukyo said.

"Yes we won, but that is to be expected when I fight, there was never any doubt about the matter." Ranma stated.

"Of course, who would ever doubt you Ranma?" Nabiki mused. Ranma chose not to respond to her sarcastic remarks.

"Still, there are a lot of unanswered questions left." Legato said.

"Yeah for starters, why call yourselves Inuyasha and Sesshomaru?" Akane asked a bit puzzled.

Ranma gave the human girl an annoyed glare, "Perhaps we should have told them our real names Akane. And while we're at it why not were we live, were we go to school, and maybe even our favorite foods." He coldly said.

"Okay I get it already." Akane exasperated.

"You don't have to tear head off she was just curious!" Ryoga said defensively. Even if Ryoga had put the whole "Kill Ranma" idea on the back burner for the time being, he still didn't like how he treated other people. He especially didn't like it when Akane was the one being treated like that. Legato jumped back into the conversation before a fight could break out. "What I'd really like to know is what happened to our attacks? I mean those attack they used couldn't have been that strong, never mind being more powerful than ours. So why is it that they plowed through ours like they were nothing at all?" Legato questioned.

"That is something I can explain. These Sailor Senshis, you can think of them like temple priestesses or shine maidens. What I mean by that is that they wield powers of what you would call holy or divine. If they are residents of the light, than demons like my brother and I are denizens of the darkness. Demons, as you may or may not know, are born from darkness and it is darkness to which we will eventually return to. Demonic energy, the thing that powers the very bodies you and I possess brother, originates from the darkness." The full demon stated.

"How do you know all of this Ranma?" Ryoga asked.

Ranma looked at the Lost Boy for a few moments. "I know this, because Sesshomaru knew this." He said slowly.

"But what about..." Legato interjected.

"I was getting to that." Ranma said in an annoyed tone with a scrutinizing glare. When he spoke Ranma expected not to be interrupted. Not because Ranma thought that he needed to be the center of attention (Unlike his brother), but because Ranma only spoke when he deemed it necessary. "Little brother you should learn to be patient, a half-demon such as yourself will live almost as long as I will." He waited for his brother to nod before continuing.

"Now as I was saying, they are the light and we are the darkness, that is the way things must be. Light and darkness are eternal, always in a constant battle to balance each other out. For every shadow there is light, and for every light there is a shadow. That said, both keep the other in check. As long as that balance is maintained everything runs smoothly, but each side tries to tip the scale in their own favor. Too much darkness is of course bad, but there is also such a thing as too much light. This would lead you to believe both sides are equal in their effectiveness, however this is obviously not the case. To put it simply the light will always cut through the darkness. That is why your chi attacks were ineffective, you may use depression to project the attack, but it is still demonic energy at the core. Likewise my Whip of Light technique is condensing of demonic energy into a single strand, an extension of myself you might say. When the two opposing forces collided, their powers purified ours." Ranma finished his long winded explanation, he then turned to his brother. "Legato remember when you got hit by that lightning attack and being electrocuted?" He inquired.

"Electrocuted! Airen no tell Shampoo about that!" Shampoo exclaimed with worry in her voice. In an instant the lavender-haired girl was clutching his arm, almost as if by letting go she ran the risk of losing him.

"Oh my." Kasumi said in amazement, she herself moving closer to him, but not as close as Shampoo was. Legato shot his older brother a dirty glare before giving his wife a look of reassurance.

"It's nothing, don't worry about it. I'm fine really." He said quickly, quelling their fears. He pulled away from the two females and considered the question.

"Well it definitely felt like I was getting zapped at first, but now I realize it was something more. It was almost like I was getting eaten from the inside out." He recounted slowly.

Ranma nodded, "That assessment seems about right. What you were describing was the you being purified. That attack was attempting to destroy your internal energy. You should count yourself fortunate brother that you have such a large amount of demonic energy in you, a lesser demon would have been purified completely." Ranma explained.

"So what happens to a demon that's been purified?" Legato asked.

Ranma tilted his head to one side. "You don't know?" He asked a bit puzzled, Legato shook his head in response. "We disintegrate, nothing is left of us but dust." Ranma said in a dead even tone. The stunned expressions he was getting from the others meant he got his point across. "That's bad by the way." He added sarcastically, just for good measures.

"Yeah I think we got that." Legato said, rubbing his temples.

"Maybe...or maybe you think you can fall back on this." Ranma patted the sword at his side.

"Well yeah, I mean if worse comes to worse you could always use Tenseiga." The half-demon said with a shrugged.

"Did you not listen to what I said? You would be nothing more than a pile of dust scattered in the wind. Tenseiga may be an amazing sword with an incredible ability, but even that ability has limits. One of those limits is that it needs a body for it to work. So you see Tenseiga wouldn't do you much good in this instance. Alternately you being a half-demon might only result in a lose of your demonic powers which I am sure you don't want. Though this is only a guess at this point." The full demon said in irritation.

Legato, Shampoo, Ukyo, and Genma knew what Ranma spoke of, but the others were still in the dark. Not surprisingly Nabiki was the one to realize it first, and when her eyes went wide to the size of dinner plates. "You mean it can bring back the dead." She said, as if she didn't believe her own words.

Ranma nodded, "That is correct."

"Astounding." Soun commented.

The money making gear inside of the middle Tendo daughter went into overdrive thinking how to exploit this new knowledge. 'People would be lined up into the horizon...I would charge whatever I wanted...I'd make a fortune ten a THOUSAND times over.' Nabiki practically drooled over the possibilities. Ranma sensed what the brunette had running through her head.

"This isn't a toy, nor is Tenseiga a means for profit. It is a great responsibility and not to be used for such frivolous means." Ranma said sternly, snapping the girl out of her daydream.

"I wouldn't dream of it." Nabiki said smoothly.

"Good, because if any strangers were to approach me, asking me to bring somebody back to life I'll assume you are responsible. I think a situation like that would call for that emotion we all know as anger to be brought into play." His yellow eyes narrowed to dangerous slits, casting upon her a glare colder than the vacuum of outer space. "And to have a full demon angry at you is not a goal a person should strive for, do I make myself clear?" The tall, pale demon said.

"Inescapably." Nabiki muttered.

"Good," Another potential headache defused through Ranma and the sheer force of his will. The old Ranma would have been scrambling to try to come up with some half-hearted excuse. Not this Ranma, this Ranma was in control of the situation and conceded nothing. "One more question needs to be asked, brother you said you knew Sailor Moon from somewhere, I'd like to know from where?" Ranma inquired.

"What, when did I say that?" Asked the baffled half-demon.

"You said you knew Sailor Moon when you were embracing her, remember Legato." He answered.

"Embracing huh?" Nabiki commented with a wry smile.

"Now wait a minute!" Legato exclaimed.

"Legato, are you seeing another girl behind Kasumi's back!" Soun roared in accusation.

"Boy how dare you cheat on your fiancée!" Genma declared.

"Hold on!" Legato said.

The dog-eared youth shot another glare at his older brother, although this one was FAR more murderous than the last. Legato felt a tap on his shoulder, he turned to see Shampoo with her hands across her chest and tapping her foot. "Embracing?" She asked incredulously. Her withering glare made the boy in red gulp nervously, it felt like the room temperature just suddenly dropped by many degrees.

"Shampoo it's not what you think." He said meekly.

She raised an eyebrow, "Really? Maybe Airen would like to tell Shampoo what she should think?" The warrior maiden proposed. Legato gulped again as he tried to come up with a valid explanation for his wife. He came up with an explanation that he could use. Legato pointed his clawed finger at his older brother.

"It's all Ranma's fault, blame him!" He blurted out. Putting the blame on Ranma might not have been a good idea, but Legato would take an unhappy demon over an angry wife any day.

"Now you're starting to sound like someone else I know brother." Ranma mused.

There was a few seconds of delayed silence before Ryoga finally caught on. "Hey wait a minute!" He angrily declared.

The full demon rolled his golden eyes, "That took you long enough." Ranma commented.

"You know Ranma, you could try to being a little nicer to everyone once in a while." Akane said.

Ranma gave the black-haired girl a dead gaze, "This IS nice." He said in an even tone.

"You could've fooled us." Ryoga growled.

Ranma sighed, a demon such as him shouldn't have to tolerate such disrespect. "Brother, an answer to my question if would."

"Oh yeah right about that, to be honest I don't know why I said it. It came out of nowhere really. The thought just kinda popped into my head, which is strange because I'm pretty sure today was only the second time I've seen her or her friends." He sighed and shook his head. "Forget it, it was nothing, just a stray thought that got stuck in my mind that's all." Legato concluded.

"Than it shall be left at that." Ranma said simply, although he had a feeling it wasn't quite that simple.

"So what do we do now?" Legato asked.

"I'm going for a walk, the rest of you can do whatever you want." Said Ranma.

"I think he meant about the Sailor Senshis." Nabiki noted.

"One only needs to ask why haven't they appeared before now. We have only seen them in Juban, which undoubtedly is their base of operations. It is safe to assume that their ability to detect us is limited, so in Nerima YOU should be safe from attack. I have no reason for concern." Legato glared at his brother for that statement. The demon in white turned to the Lost Boy, "That goes for you too Ryoga. If you find yourself confronted by strange girls in bright outfits and start hearing the names of planets, I suggest running away. Leave, because they will mistake you for a monster and attack." Ranma dryly advised.

"And who do I have to thank for that?" Ryoga asked, barely keeping his voice in check.

"Me of course. If you do encounter them just make yourself lost, that shouldn't be too hard for you." Ranma remarked. Ryoga tensed up and growled menacingly, ready to take a swing at the demon.

"Come on Ryoga we don't have to listen to this jerk, let's go." Akane growled, pulling Ryoga away.

"My don't they go nice together." Nabiki commented to herself.

"Well I guess I should probably go do my homework." Legato looked to his wife. "You too young lady."

"Does Shampoo have to?" She asked with a cute pout.

"Yes she does." Legato smiled and answered, leading the lavender-haired girl upstairs.

Ranma left the others to their own devices and stepped outside, taking a deep breathe and inhaling into his nose an abundance of scents. With no effort he cleared the compound wall and landed softly on the street.

'Any second now.' Ranma thought, looking back to the wall. Sure enough a moment later Ukyo came into view, following in the footsteps of her fiancée.

"Hey, you want some company?" Ukyo asked hopefully. The full demon eyed her, he could almost feel his heart begin to speed up. He knew what it was, what it was trying to become, and before it was allowed to blossom he crushed it mercilessly. The heart was chaos, the mind was control.

"I suppose company would be...acceptable." Ranma slowly stated. His response emboldened her resolve to ask another request. "Maybe we could know...hold hands?" She asked with a blush, twiddling her fingers and looking at the ground. They had never held hands before and Ukyo would definitely count this as progress.

"Ucchan, you're starting to sound like a certain someone." Ranma commented. The brown-haired girl scowled, reaching out and taking his hand in hers. Right away Ranma noticed many things, 'Her's so soft and so warm.' He thought with a little amazement. Ukyo on the other hand was a little more open about her astonishment. "Ranchan, you're hand it's so warm and firm, yet it's so soft." She gasped.

"Were you expecting something else?" He asked his fiancée with raised eyebrow.

Ukyo shrugged, "I always thought it would be really well, cold and kinda rough."

"Because you thought my body would match my perceived personality correct?"

"Right as usual Sugar." Uyko sighed. Honestly, having a know-it-all fiancée could be so tiresome at times.

"Demons, like humans, are warm-blooded and generate our own internal heat. Furthermore our demon blood is a good natural insulate, making us able to withstand temperatures too cold for a human. As the texture of my skin, my vast demonic power is what accounts for my superior strength, speed, and stamina. It also allows me to perform my techniques and absorbs impact to my body. In that sense, I have no need for tough outer skin or for an overly muscular body." Ranma explained.

"And yet you and your brother could both be taken out by a bunch of bimbos in schoolgirl uniforms." Ukyo said with a smirk.

"Their powers may have the potential, but they lack the ability to use them properly. They have shown themselves to be no challenge to me. Regardless, those powers could be a problem for someone such as I." The full demon replied in irritation.

"Did Ranma-Honey just admit to having flaws?" The young chef said in mock amazement.

He narrowed his eyes, yet he found it difficult to muster anything more than an annoyed gaze. To level a threatening glare at the others was one thing, but to glare menacingly at her was not something Ranma could bring himself to do. Even if it was an act of idiocy on the part of his father, she was still his fiancée. And that meant he had certain duties and obligations in the way he acted towards her. This was not forced upon him, as he could cancel the engagement anytime he wanted, but he didn't. After what happened to her, Ranma thought she deserved something to make things right. Since she had her heart set on this engagement that is what he would give her. It was the least he could do, but Ranma still believed desires, emotions, and bodily cravings on the whole to be irrelevant. Anything that impeded his progression as a martial artist wasn't going to be tolerated.

"I would take the shortcomings of a demon over the imperfections of a human any day." Ranma said neutrally.

"Sorry to disappoint you Ranchan." Ukyo joked.

There was something about her that made his fiancée different from the rest. From the others he could see intimidation and fear whenever he was around them. With her there was nothing of the sort, she was perhaps the only one who was not edge. Did she believe herself to be immune? If she did, than Ukyo was right. Outside of practice he would never hurt her. To do such would be dishonorable for a noble demon like himself, even if humans were below him. Furthermore, since she was his fiancée Ukyo was under his umbrella of protection. Still it wouldn't do for knowledge like this to become known. Otherwise the image that Ranma had carefully created and worked tirelessly to keep upheld would be ruined.

"Nothing to sorry about Ucchan, you are only human after all...well besides the fact you contain an angel inside you, but I'm willing to look past that small detail." Ranma mused.

Ukyo giggled, despite what everyone else might have thought her fiancée did have a sense of humor. It was subtle, dry, and witty but it was definitely there. As they continued to walk a question came to the brown-haired girl.

"Hey Ranchan, there's one thing I don't get about what you said. You said total darkness is bad, and that I understand, but why did you say too much light was bad?" She questioned.

"What do you mean?" Ranma asked back.

"Well if the darkness is bad, and the light is good, than wouldn't that be what we want?" She said.

He stopped and looked at her, "Be careful the way you use those words Ukyo. You should remember that both good and bad can be considered points of view. Even your conscious, though it may be right, is still a perspective. The reason light cuts through shadows is because the darkness, by its very nature, is more aggressive so it needs to be kept in check. Really it all comes down to one thing and one thing only."

"What's that?" Ukyo asked intently.

"Choice. A person chooses darkness or they choose the light. Too much of either can rob a person of that ability. I am a demon, and yet I choose to walk the path of a martial artist, that is my choice. There is a huge difference between choosing the light, and having no choice BUT light. Likewise being consumed by shadows and being blinded by the light both have the same result. The more power one possesses the choices become more complicated and have greater impact. To be honest Ukyo I wouldn't trust others with powers like mine, I don't think anyone could handle responsibility that comes with the powers of a full demon." Ranma intoned.

Ukyo tilted her head to one side, "Not even Legato? I mean he's a half-demon so he's pretty much halfway there."

He looked her right in the eyes, his golden eyes displaying more seriousness than usual. "Especially NOT Legato." He said quietly.

"That wasn't very nice Ranchan, he's your brother." Ukyo chided.

He sighed, "Ukyo, in order to properly control and effectively wield a strong power, you need a strong heart and mind. Simply put, Legato lacks that. Always emotion is the key with him, always passion and desire is taken into account. He lets them have the final say in his judgment...that is his weakness. That is why he will never be able to defeat me." Ranma said solemnly.

"Have you ever thought about talking to him about that?" Ukyo asked.

Ranma sighed again and shook his head, "You know him, you say one thing about Legato he doesn't like, and he goes off the deep end. After that you have to have the Amazon go calm him down. You've seen this for yourself before haven't you Ucchan."

"Yeah..." Ukyo reluctantly admitted.

"I would prefer it Ukyo if you did not repeat to the others what I have said. Legato has to work out his own problems for himself." He walked ahead, gently towing his fiancée. They both walked in silence for a while, Ranma not having any specific destination in mind, and Ukyo not really caring because she was too caught up with the fact that she was holding hands with her fiancée. People on the street would stop what they were doing to stare at the couple, but neither seemed to pay any mind. They had gotten used to the looks people gave them after a while. Even still at school the hallways became quiet whenever Ranma walked down them, a mere stare from him separated the seas of students in his path.

"You know I met him before." Ranma said out of the blue, breaking the silence.

"Huh?" Ukyo said in confusion.

"I actually met my brother before China or Jusenkyo, of course I did not know he was my brother at the time." Ranma elaborated.

"When was this?" The brown-haired girl asked in interest.

"Months before we left for China I was participating in illegal underground matches. Unlike you, I didn't have cooking to support myself. So my father, in his infinite wisdom, decided to enter me in fights at places one would not consider the most honorable. Of course he told me it was to experience new styles and techniques, but that was just a guise to hide him making money off of me." Ranma said, his voice laced with sarcasm.

"Sounds like the Genma we all know and love." Ukyo commented wryly.

"Indeed, the fight before mine featured a boy about my age. He had long black hair, brown eyes, and wore blue clothing with the emblem of a dragon. He bore an uncanny resemblance to myself. Sound familiar?" Ukyo nodded. "When he fought it was like I was looking in a mirror, or so I thought at the time. Like me, he used his speed to dominate his opponent and the other man was unable to keep up. The way he fought, his style was similar to mine, taking bits and piece from other styles, taking what he liked and incorporating them into his own."

"So he won?" The brown-haired girl concluded.

"Yes, after he finished Legato wasted no time in collecting his money. No doubt he used things like that to support himself and further his training. In fact he was offered more to fight whoever won the next round, which of course was me."

"Naturally Sugar." Ukyo said with a smile.

"But he declined, stating that he had already fought enough for one day. I wonder how much would have changed if he had said yes. With that he left, as Legato passed by I remarked about how well he fought, I was thanked, then told that he would see me later. How true those words would turn out to be." Ranma said.

"Right Ranchan, fate brought you two together." Said Ukyo.

"Possibly, the fact that Legato and I are half-brothers in real life, and that Inuyasha and Sesshomaru were also half-brothers has to be more than a coincidence. Though I must admit the differences between now and then are, for lack of a better word, staggering." Ranma responded.

"You got that right Sugar." Ukyo muttered.

He eyed the girl to his side, "Ukyo, what I am now or my old self, which do you prefer?" The demon dressed in white asked rather bluntly.

The young chef could feel her cheeks begin to heat up, "Why do you ask?" She said nervously, fighting back a fierce blush.

"I am curious," Ranma began, "As to whether or not you choose to be engaged to the present me, or that you're perhaps clinging to the hope I may one day return to what I once was."

Not exactly an easy question to answer, but than again with Ranma few things were ever simple. There was a long pause as the human girl tried to come up with a response to the very question she had been asking herself for quite some time. It was a question Ukyo tried to put out of her mind, prolonging her having to answer it as long as she possibly could. Now her fiancée had pretty much forced her to answer, because when Ranma asked a question, he expected a response.

Ukyo took a deep breath. "Well Ranchan, I guess I like what you are now. I mean I've pretty much accepted that the old you probably isn't coming back, and there are things about the old you that I miss, but there's a lot to you are now that's good."

"In what way?" Ranma asked.

The brown-haired girl began to list off things about the demon. "Well the one that always stand out is how in control of your life you are. Not just yourself Sugar, but just about everything around you. Nobody tells you what to do. You're also really helpful, even if you don't want people to know, and even if they don't like it at first I'm sure deep down they're appreciative Ranchan." Ukyo said with pride in her fiancée.

Her mood dampened a little as she thought back to her childhood memories. The memories of playing together and laughter in their carefree youth. "But still...a little bit of the old Ranma would be nice."

Her full demon companion leveled an intense gaze at her, not one of his patented "Cold as ice" glares, but a look of inquiry. He was far superior to his old self, so why would she want for it to return? Ranma mentally sighed, humans were hard to comprehend, but human females were even worse. "Just a little" Ukyo asked shyly.

He sighed again, this time it was outwardly. He reached up and took hold of his mane of long white hair and pulled it up. Ukyo gasped in shock at what she saw underneath. Several strands were much shorter than the rest, tied together in a pigtail, just like the old Ranma used to. He held his gaze at her, "I'm still here you know." He said, releasing his hair and letting it fall back into place. "Just different," Ranma commented, looking at his clawed hands with their pale skin and markings. "Very different." He added.

Ukyo just smiled and took his hand, silently purring about how good it felt. "Different can be good." She said supportively.

"That did not go at all the way we planned." Usagi complained to her friends. The four of them were back at a very familiar shrine. It had been a day since the incident and tension was running high after the uneasy encounter.

"You can say that again." Makoto muttered.

"That did not go at..."

"Okay we get it!" Rei snapped, angry at the situation more than her friend.

"At least we're all alright." Ami added supportively.

"She's right," The talking cat joined the conversation, "This was a good learning experience for you girls."

"Learn what, how to get beat by a bunch of monsters that made us look like idiots." Makoto grumbled.

"Actually Mako they said they were demons, not monsters." Ami timidly commented.

Rei snorted, "Like there's any difference."

"Well the older brother, Sesshomaru, made it a point to tell me there were." Ami replied.

"And you believed him?" Rei said, making the blue-haired girl shrink back from the tone of her voice.

"For once I agree with Rei, those two mon..demons are evil, I mean they'd have to be evil to attack someone as dreamy as Tuxedo Mask!" Usagi fervently declared. The others sighed at their comrade's seeming inability to stay focused on the matter at hand.

Luna cleared her throat, "Regardless, the question now is how to proceed."

"I think we shouldn't fight them." Ami softly purposed.

"You got to be kidding me! You just want to ignore them after what they did to us?" Usagi asked in utter shock.

"They didn't do anything wrong. They said that we shouldn't just assume they're bad because they're demons." Ami responded.

Rei Hino groaned, her friend was a nice person for sure, but she was just a little too trusting for her own good. "They were lying to you Ami, demons like that will say or do anything to get what they want." The black-haired girl explained.

"I know, but there are other reasons also. I took the data I gather on Inuyasha and Sesshomaru, and then compared it to data from previous enemies. Everything we have fought up until now doesn't even compare to them."

"That only means we have to try harder next time!" Usagi optimistically declared.

Ami shook her head, "No there's one more thing I haven't mentioned yet. While scanning them I found something else...human energy."

"Are you serious?" Makoto asked in amazement, the others also shared her shock.

Ami continued, "Yes the younger brother, Inuyasha, his human energy is equal to his demonic energy. So in essence he's half-human, and half-demon. Now the older brother, while his demonic energy seems overwhelming, there is still deep down a tiny bit of human energy in him. It's well hidden, but it's there none the less."

"So you're saying those two used to be human? You sure about that Ami?" Usagi questioned.

The blue-haired girl nodded, "Absolutely, they're too smart to be monsters sent by the Dark Kingdom."

Ami lowered her head, "I'm sorry I didn't tell you this sooner." She said in an apologetic tone.

The group mulled over the new information. Luna sighed, "Well this changes things greatly." The cat looked to the four girls in her charge. "You all know what you have to do." The four of them looked to each other and nodded in consensus. Yes, they indeed knew what needed to be done.

A week had passed since the second encounter with the Sailor Senshi, and things had returned to relative normal (Or as normal Nerima can get). Still no sigh of Tofu, despite Legato searching for him. It was starting to get irritating, but Legato refused to stop. Nobody poisoned him and got away with it. At the home front the situation for Legato left much to be desired. It was like he was in a pressure cooker and someone was gradually increasing the temperature.

An interesting development was what was occurring between Ryoga and Akane. At first the only common interests they shared were martial arts and both being a part of the "We Don't Like That Jerk Ranma" Club (A club which had a surprising amount of members). They both in many ways were a lot alike. Of course when someone went to mention their similarities, or how well they went together, Akane and Ryoga would both become flustered and fail miserably at stopping themselves from blushing.

At present time Ranma casually walked down the street on route back to his house. The regal demon, if he wished could have been home very quickly, but had no reason to rush. It was nice to have a break for his family and "friends"(A term he used loosely). It was necessary to be by himself, away from anyone else to train properly. What he trained in was not the martial arts, but rather what could be called the demonic arts. He was instructing himself how to reach a higher levels than what he already was.

Ranma knew how to produce a whip of energy and make his claws spray deadly poison, but there was more. This he knew through the dreams he had at night, the dream of what Sesshomaru's life had been like. Through these dreams he was learning by example. Ranma realized he wasn't Sesshomaru so trying to replicate and be him was pointless, even if he was his reincarnation, but neither would he act dishonorably in a way that was unbecoming of a demon like him. It was a fine line that he walked, a near impossible task many would think, but a task he was willing to undertake. Beside if anything had been proven by now, it was that Saotomes were good at doing the impossible.

As he passed by a vacant lot he witnessed a sight that drew him out of his contemplation. It was three girls being attacked by another girl. The three were on their hands and knees trying to protect themselves while the other mercilessly continued to attack with what Ranma noted as a ribbon. Now any normal person seeing this would probably walk away or chose not to get involved. Unfortunately since Ranma was a martial artist, his honor and moral code wouldn't allow such action. "How troublesome." Ranma said in an annoyed tone, walking towards the scene.

"Oh ho ho ho! Have you commoners learned your lesson yet? Admit defeat and bow down to your betters!" The girl standing over them declared haughtily. She went to strike them again, but found her weapon stuck on something. When she went to see the source of obstruction, she found it to be a tall, white-haired male.

"Apparently you don't know the meaning of the word 'restraint'." Ranma dryly remarked.

"Release my ribbon at once!" The girl snapped in her anger.

"Or politeness." Ranma added.

The full demon released the fabric between his fingers. The strange girl twirled her weapon around as she stared intently at the newcomer. This man carried himself with the utmost grace and elegance, with an aura of superiority. Inwardly she was purring at the thought of such a man at her side.

She gave a predatory smile. "I am the Black Rose of St. Hebereke, remember it for we shall meet again stranger." With her declaration the Black Rose exited, laughing her ear-splitting laughter.

'That has to be the most annoying laugh I have ever heard.' The demon thought, cringing ever so slightly as the horrible sound resonated in his pointed ears. One of the girls looked to see who her savior was, only to be met with Ranma's paralyzing gaze. This was the Ranma Saotome that went to the same school as her, the one she had heard so many stories about. The rumors and gossip that were spread around school made people curious of the cold enigma, but no one was brave enough to approach him. She tried to summon her voice, and found it not wanting to respond to her will.

"Try using words, you'll find it makes communication much easier." Ranma advised.

The girl managed to regain her composure, "Thank you for helping us."

"What happened here?" He shifted his gaze, "Not that I care, I'm just curious."

"The three of us are the Furikan High martial arts rhythmic gymnastics team. That girl was from St. Hebereke, the school we're going up against in a few days." One girl said.

"What are we going to do now? The competition is in two days and now we can't compete!" Another added.

The three looked downtrodden for a moments before one perked up, "I know, why don't we go ask Akane for help?" She purposed, hope returning to the others as well.

Ranma at this point could make a few educated guesses about what would happen next. And what the dog demon concluded was that no good would come of it. This was going to end up involving him, Ranma could feel it. The humans present could see the irritation growing in Ranma's eyes.

"I-Is th-there something wrong?" A girl asked, her voice trembling from look he was giving her.

"Why am I cursed?"

"What did you say?" The girls were confused by such an off-handed comment.

Ranma sighed and looked up to the sky, "Why am I cursed to be surrounded by fools?" He asked the heavens.

"So you see we didn't know who else to turn to Akane." The young gymnast finished explaining. Currently a small group consisting of the three girls, Ranma, Legato, Shampoo, Ukyo, Akane, and Ryoga all gathered in Akane's room. All of them had listened to the story that had been told. Ranma didn't really care because it didn't concern him, but with his hearing he would have heard anyway and reasoned it was more work to block them out than to just listen.

"Please help us Akane, if you don't Furikan will have to forfeit the match." The girl pleaded.

"Of course leave it to me, I'll do whatever I can." The youngest Tendo daughter said with confidence. She was thanked and the three gymnasts left, the hope for there team restored. With the outsiders gone it left the residents of the house to figure out what to do next.

"Alright, the next few days I'm going to have to train really hard to win this thing." Akane enthusiastically said.

"You'll do great Akane I just know it!" Ryoga exclaimed with equal fervor.

The praise she received from the Lost Boy made her face unexpectantly heat up and heart to speed up. "Thank you Ryoga, that's really nice of you." She said, flustered with embarrassment. This in turn made Ryoga blush in full force at the kind words said to him. Everyone else present enjoyed a silent laugh at their expense.

Legato cleared his throat, "Sorry to interrupt the moment, but I think you're forgetting something."

Akane blinked, "Like what?"

"Well Sugar, in case you forget this is a team effort and your only one person." The brown-haired girl clasped her hands together. "Hey I got a good idea." She beamed.

"No." Ranma said flatly.

"No?" Legato asked a little confused.

"Is there an echo?" Said Ranma sardonically.

Ukyo scowled, "You don't even know what I was going to say jackass."

The demon looked to her, "Were you not about to suggest that I participate in this event?"

Legato rolled his eyes, "Aren't you the one always telling everybody that you're the greatest martial artist there is? The one that always says that as long as it involves martial arts, you can do anything? Surely this competition between lowly humans isn't beyond the abilities of the Almighty Ranma." The half-demon smirked.

Ranma threw his younger brother an icy glare, causing the dog-eared youth to flinch and shrink back involuntarily.

"As always brother you seem to fail at picking up on the subtlety of things. Just because I CAN do something, doesn't mean that I will do it. There would be no challenge in me doing this so why would I? Also, apparently you are forgetting that this is female gymnastics and that I am a man." The full demon explained with hints of ire in his voice. At that point Legato could've made a comment about Ranma's appearance being slightly effeminate, but decided that probably wouldn't be a very good idea.

"Well what I was going to suggest before Pointy Ears interrupted me," Ukyo selectively choose to ignore the look her betrothed was giving her, "Is that the two of us help you out." She finished, put her arm around Shampoo.

"Hey that is a good idea." Legato said.

"You mean you two would do that for me?" She asked.

"Oh course, we're friends aren't we Sugar?"

"Is true, Akane no even have to ask." Shampoo added, nodding her head.

Now this would have usually been the point that the old Akane she would have become quite enraged at the idea. What would have followed we be an angry tirade about not needing any help and that she was a martial artist who could take care of herself. However there was nothing condescending in their tone, only concern and sincerity.

"Alright than the three of us are in this together." Akane declared.

With the others distracted it was only Ranma who noticed that they were being watched. It was the same girl he had encountered earlier that day. His enhanced hearing picked up what Ranma interpreted as her plans to ambush the three in the night. He silently cursed himself for focusing too much on the strange girl as he was once again submitted to that unholy laughter of hers. 'I knew no good would come of this,' The full demon sighed, 'Sometimes I hate being right all the time.' Ranma tiredly thought.

The dojo was bustling with activity as the young martial artists prepared. The girls that had left dropped off a list of the rules and equipment to be used. The rules stated that in order to win, one team had to knock the other out of the ring. The other stipulation was that there was no physical attacks allowed, everything had to be done using weapons and various other tools. This was of course no problem for Ukyo and Shampoo, they could use their battle spatula and bonbori respectively, Akane however was proving to be a different matter.

They had gone through everything left for them and nothing seemed to suit her. Legato could see doubt and frustration begin to enter the eyes of his pupil. "Don't worry about it Akane this sort of thing takes time, you just have to take it slow that's all." Legato said supportively.

Shampoo poked her head into the dojo and gave her husband an anxious look. Legato didn't need for her to say what she was here for. Due to the recent chaos of events this had been put off several times, however if Shampoo had her way it wasn't going to be put off any longer. This was also picked up by her mate, "Akane why don't we take a break for a little while." Legato suggested.

"But I can still keep going." She insisted.

Legato smiled, "Maybe so, but I have a prior engagement to keep, so give yourself a chance to catch your breathe okay." He went outside to where Shampoo was waiting for him. "Here follow me," He commanded and leapt onto the roof.

"Airen why we go up here?" Shampoo asked.

"There's no risk of anything getting destroyed if we're up here." The white-haired boy explained. Legato went through the steps of the technique with his wife. It was true that the lavender-haired girl didn't have the incredibly fast learning capabilities that Ranma and Legato naturally possessed, but Shampoo was no slouch either when it came to martial arts. She could get the chi to form in her hands, but that was a far as Shampoo could get. That part was made easy by her partial Nekoken training which allowed her to form chi claws with hers hands, similar as her husband's only not as powerful. The warrior maiden knew the trick to making the technique work and still little progress was made.

For Legato it was easy to understand why it wouldn't work for her. Shampoo's warm and bubbly personality was in conflicted with the necessary emotion the Shi Shi Hokodan required. "I guess that this isn't really your thing, but once you get it you can try using something else like Ranma did." Legato encouraged.

"Maybe Airen think about doing the same?" Shampoo suggested hopefully.

He smiled at her, it wasn't a happy smile though, but rather a sad one. "I can't know that." He said quietly. He appreciated her concern he really did, but sometimes his wife just didn't understand. 'You can't forget because you keep the pain fresh Airen. A wound will never heal if it keeps being torn open.' Shampoo thought sadly to herself.

One time Shampoo had worked up the courage to say that to him. He had yelled at her. Of course he had apologized immediately, but the damaged had been done. The Amazon learned quick that Legato's past made him angry, and that anger had the potential to spread to the person who dredged up those painful memories. Legato had become her whole world and Shampoo was wary, even a little afraid, of anything that put that world in danger. After that event Shampoo had decided that while she could do nothing about the past, the present was fair game and that was what she would focus on.

"Now before we go any further there is something important that I have to tell you, and I want you to really listen Shampoo." His lavender-haired wife nodded intently. Despite the image others might have perceived of her, Shampoo knew when to be playful and when to be serious.

"Techniques like this are kind of like fighting, in that there is a limit to how much you can do it. When you reach that limit one of two things will happen. One, you will be no longer able to perform this move or Two," He paused for effect, "You will continue to perform this move at the cost of your own life, because at that point you will be cutting into your life force." The half-demon put his hands on her shoulders. "I don't know what I would do if something happened to you." Legato said in a tender tone.

"Airen no have to worry, Shampoo no plan on going anywhere." She replied. Truth be told Shampoo had already heard a similar speech from her Great-grandmother, but she didn't mind Legato telling her. If anything it reaffirmed how much he cared about her.

"That's good to hear." Legato said.

He continued to smile, but found his gaze wandering off. What they settled on was the sight of Kasumi hanging up laundry in the yard. His vision seemed at lock onto her, with no intention of breaking off. Something inside her told the girl that their were eyes upon her. Kasumi met Legato's gaze, smiling warmly and waving gently at the half-demon. The dog-eared youth froze up as the rest of the world seemed to slip away, becoming more and more distant the longer he looked at her. About the only other things that registered to Legato were the heavy thumping in his chest, and the burning in his cheeks. Of course none of this had gone unnoticed by his wife standing right in front of him. Shampoo then decided to herself that her wayward husband needed to be brought back to means of directly punching him in the face.

Legato tumbled down the roof and crashed onto the ground flat on his back. Shampoo landed lightly beside him with a not so pleased look about her.

"What the hell was that for?" He asked, still surprised from being decked by his wife.

"Airen no should be getting distracted during practice." Shampoo chastised.

"Yeah but did you really have to hit me to get the point across?" Legato groaned.

"Yes, because if Airen have time to stare at other women, then maybe should put time to better use. Like finding bad doctor man." Shampoo explained, anger seething from her voice. Did he not even realize what he was just doing? How dare he even look at another women when his wife was standing right before him. Why would he look away? That girl wasn't even a martial artist like Legato and her, not a warrior, they grew up in different worlds entirely. So what possible appeal could there be? The lavender-haired girl couldn't figure it out and that more than anything was what was making her mad.

"Tofu...yeah sure...not that it would do any good." Legato mumbled.

Shampoo leaned in close. "What that mean?" She asked with suspicion.

"Nothing." Legato replied defensively, intentionally avoiding eye contact.

Her burgundy eyes narrowed with a scrutinizing glare. "Airen bad liar." She simply responded.

Legato sighed, he was dreading this moment. "Well the thing is I kinda said that I won't hurt him." He muttered.

"And why Airen say that?" Shampoo inquired, just barely keeping her voice in check.

"Kasumi asked me not to." Legato admitted. Now he knew he was in deep trouble just by the look she was giving him. "I didn't want to but she made me promise and I just..." The half-demon trailed off averting his gaze away from her to the ground.

"Couldn't say no." Shampoo finished. Her Airen's refusal to look her in the eyes told that much. Legato gave a tiny nod of confirmation. "That seem to be problem lately yes?" The warrior maiden asked, like a parent scolding a children.

"Shampoo..." Legato tried but his wife would hear none of it. She turn her back to him and began to storm off. "Where are you going?" He asked, causing her to stop and glare at him. "Shampoo no feel like being near Airen right now. Want to be alone for a while. Maybe Airen come to sense when he realize what he missing." She scornfully said before taking off, leaping over the wall and out of sight.

"Great, just great..." The half-demon cursed his misfortune. If only he hadn't opened his big mouth. He'd have to apologize to her when she got back. Wait, when did she get to decide who he looked at anyway? And come to think of it Tofu was his problem so why should she be getting mad? He let out a frustrated growl and got to his feet.

"Aw to hell with it I might as well." He exclaimed to himself, deciding to follow the advice his wife had given him. He walked passed Nabiki leaning against the side of the house.

"Going to be sleeping in the dog house again tonight are we Legato?" She remarked. Apparently the middle Tendo sister had overheard his conversation and couldn't wait to capitalize on it.

"Not funny." Legato said through gritted teeth. Sure he had doggy ears, but did everyone have to make dog jokes around him? Ranma was more of a dog demon than him, but of course no one dared to joke around him. He stomped past her and left out front gate fuming. Kasumi watched the angry half-demon leave and couldn't help but wonder what was troubling him.

"Oh my, I wonder why Legato is so upset?" She asked herself, starting to drift off in his direction. Suddenly attending to the laundry lost its appeal and dropped among Kasumi's priorities at the moment.

"Stupid Airen...Stupid Airen...Stupid Airen." Shampoo angrily chanted the mantra to herself as she was lost in thought. She didn't know where her feet were taking her, and Shampoo didn't care. As long as they were took her away from that irritating jerk she had married. She didn't know who's head she wanted to cave in first, her unfaithful husband or those two idiots that thought up this pledge in the first place. Maybe Shampoo should remind Legato about the Amazon laws regarding adultery and the punishments they carried. Of course that could only serve to drive a deeper wedge between them and that's the last thing Shampoo wanted right now. It would be better for her to back down for a while and wait for him to come to his senses.

When she realized what she had thought it made the lavender-haired girl to a screeching stop. 'No dammit I'm a proud Amazon warrior! An Amazon never backs down, she is brave even in the face of death. What would my ancestors think of me cowering like a scared mouse?' She asked herself. But her ancestors weren't the ones dealing with relationship troubles, she was. They should have stayed in the village, then Shampoo wouldn't have to be going through this right now.

"All alone are we? That's such a shame." A voice called out to her.

Her blood began to boil immediately as Shampoo knew who it belonged to. "Mousse show yourself!" She snarled.

Following along with the verbal command the spectacled youth appeared from the shadows. The satisfied look he had on him only served to raise her anger levels even further. What a perfect opportunity had just been presented to Shampoo to blow off some steam. That was what she had thought after she had taken out her bonbori.

"I see that two-timing mongrel husband of yours has lost interest in you like I knew he would." He sneered.

"DIE!" Shampoo screamed as she rushed towards him. To have those thoughts in her head was one thing, but to hear it from an external source, especially him, was unacceptable and wouldn't be tolerated.

He seemed not too concerned by her threat, "Temper temper dear." Mousse chided.

The myopic martial artist then let fly from the depths of his robes a hail of water balloons, followed by a spray of throwing knives. The result was a deluge brought down right ontop of Shampoo. She tried to avoid it, but it too close for her efforts to be successful. As the water hit her, she could already feel the change starting to take place. Shampoo tried with all her willpower to stop it from happening, but there was a reason it was called a curse. Being cute, cuddling, and adorable unfortunately also meant being small, weak, and virtually defenseless.

The world became larger as her perspective shrank and she was buried under her own wet clothes. Mousse smiled with satisfaction, she might not like it now, but would thank him for it later. The pink and purple cat emerged soaking and upon seeing him immediately leapt at the boy, claws and teeth at the ready.

For a second time today luck seemed to be on the side of the nearly blind martial artist as he snatched up the furry projectile, dangling before him by the back of her neck.

"Now is that anyway to thank someone who's just trying to help you?" He asked. Her response was a low hiss followed by attempts to claw his face off. However he kept her well out of range of her intended target.

"You know unlike that unfaithful bastard I would never have done something like this to you. I'm not greedy like him, I won't have got a new fiancée if I had you. You my love are more than any man could ever wish for, but that dog-eared freak wants more than what he deserves." Mousse said with utter contempt for the half-demon he spoke of.

These statements seemed to be disturbing similar to the questions Shampoo had started to ask herself lately. Wasn't she all Legato could ever ask for in a woman? If that was the case than why did it seem as of late that he was pulling away from her? And when he was with her it felt like he was forcing himself to think only about her.

"Let me give you a little bit of advice my love, I'd be wary of that Kasumi girl if I were you." The boy advised, drawing her away from her thought and back into reality.

"She has a hold on your husband no doubt." He continued. The cat fought with renewed effort to get free, she didn't want to hear what he was saying because it might have reaffirmed the fears that she had. Mousse smiled, it was time to move in for the kill. "I mean he hasn't pushed her away yet has he? He hasn't told anyone that he doesn't want to be engaged has he? A girl like that, is like an angle come to Earth. If Kasumi really wanted to she could have that dog wrapped around finger, so what chance do you think you'd have?" He said.

Shampoo tried to block out the words he was saying, she didn't even want a little bit to be true. Legato would never choose another woman over her, but that didn't help to explain what had happened today. Mousse brought the feline close to his face, but far enough away from her claws. "Now either one of two things are going to happen, either that bastard is going to toss you aside for another woman, or two, I'm going to kill that filthy mutt. Either way you won't have to worry about Legato much longer my love. And when he is finally out of the way I'll be wait with open arms, as I always have been." This was followed by his grip becoming much tighter around her neck, to the point were it was causing her considerable pain.

"But don't keep me wait for too long dear...I'm beginning to lose patience with you." He told her in a low and menacing tone.

This wasn't the Mousse that Shampoo remember growing up with. The half-blind fool that didn't know when to quit was what Shampoo had been around all her life. This Mousse was much different, and to be honest, a little frightening. this was a Mousse that had grown a backbone. He set the stunned cat down next to her clothes and put some distance between them. He pulled out a bucket, then a thermos, and filled the bucket to the brim. After he set it down he gave her an eerie smile, "You two just had a fight, so who do you think he's with right now?" He asked, leaving her to ponder this question over. As he made his exit Mousse was pleased at how well that had gone. The seeds of distrust had been sown, now all he had to do was sit back and reap the bounty. After all there was more than one way to skin a cat (To use an ironic and cruel expression regarding his beloved). 'You'll thank me for this later Shampoo.' He thought.

Shampoo cautiously approached the object he had left for her. Dipping one of her paws into the liquid she found it to be quite warm, just a little bit below boiling. Without a seconds hesitation the cat tipped the bucket over, spilling the contents on her. In a blink of an eye she was human again, naked and wet, but still human. Using speed only acquired through years of dedicated martial arts training the lavender-haired girl snatched up her clothes and hidden herself from unwanted attention. Before too long she came back into view properly clothed and thoroughly pissed off. The next time she ran into that blind fool she would kill him for sure. Nobody said those things about her husband and got away with it. Even still Mousse's parting words kept running through her mind. She knew she couldn't trust what he had said, but that didn't help to quell her doubts. Shampoo was certain of one thing though, she had to find her husband and fast.

The half-demon in question was brooding over recent events, lost deep in his own thoughts. He knew that Shampoo and himself weren't the perfect couple, but things seemed to be a lot more strained than they should have been. It was easy to see that this ridiculous pact and engagement was the source of the friction. What made it worse was the fact that if Legato willed it this whole business could be laid to rest. When it came down to it could his father really force him to be in an arranged marriage? When it came down to it Legato couldn't deny that the true source of this was coming from within. He loved Shampoo, of that he was certain without a doubt. 'It's everything else that's the problem.' Legato thought tiredly to himself.

The furry ears atop his head perked up, alerting Legato to something strange in the vicinity. Choosing to investigate this strange occurrence in favor of not having to think about his current situation that he was in, Legato stepped into an alleyway. What he found there could either be a reward or a punishment, depending on one's interpretation. It was none other than Dr. Tofu himself, lying in a pile of garbage, looking like he had seen better days. When he got closer the sensitive nose of the half-demon seemed to burn with the horrible reek of alcohol that was coming off the man. No wonder he hadn't been able to find him up until now. Legato cleared his throat, causing the young doctor to open his eyes and his blurred vision to settle on the half-demon.

"You look like hell." Legato said bluntly.

"Legato?" Tofu questioned.

"How long have you been there?" Asked Legato.

"Does it really matter? I've been here since they threw me out of the last bar." Tofu somberly replied.

"You mean you've been bar hopping all this time?" The half-demon said with slight disbelief.

"Wouldn't you be drinking if you had broken a sacred oath, poisoned an innocent person, and made the girl you loved hate you all at the same time?" He retorted, then pausing to look to the ground, "If I could undue what I did I would." The man added.

"I'm not here because of what you should have done, I'm here because of what you DID do." Legato responded curtly.

"I know why you're here, just get it over with." Tofu hung his head in defeat. As Legato approached the man offered up no resistance, he just waited for the inevitable to happen.

"Sorry, but that kind of thing really isn't my style. I made a promise and I try to keep the promises I make. I'm just here to tie up some loose ends that's all." The half-demon explained.

"But why? Don't I deserve it for what I've done?" Tofu demanded. Legato was a bit stunned, he didn't really know what to make of the situation. From his tone, Legato almost suspected that Tofu wanted him to play the role of executioner, to be able to justify the guilt that Tofu had inside him. Legato had done many things in his life, but this was a part he wasn't eager to play.

The half-demon snorted, "Pull yourself together man, how long are you going to stay their wallowing in self pity? Is this the person that wanted to be with Kasumi? You're a doctor, a lot of people depend on you so if not for your sake than at least for theirs." He said with disdain.

The words of the dog-eared youth had enough emotion behind them to shake Tofu out of his self imposed stupor. Had Legato just forgiven him for his misdeeds? Even if he had, Legato was just one of many people he had hurt with his actions. Kasumi was one that Tofu was really concerned the most about. He knew that his chances with her were pretty much next to zero, but that didn't mean he no longer cared for her.

"I know that I have no right to ask this of you, but I have a request." Tofu said.

"And just what would that be?" Legato asked in suspicion.

"Please look after her, be a better man for her than I could." Tofu replied with all seriousness.

Just thinking about that prospect and the ordeal he had been going through because of it made his anger spike. "Is that why you think I'm here?" He asked in a low hiss, his body trembling slightly. "Well I've got news for you, I care less about this stupid engagement! I wish I'd never even..." He stopped short as his enhanced hearing picked up a small gasp behind him. He winced, as the rest of his senses filtered in more information, and what it told him wasn't good.

"She's behind me isn't she?" Legato whispered, Tofu gave a tiny nod in response. The half-demon turned around ever so slowly, trying to prolong the evitable as much as possible. Sure enough it was Kasumi, her shocked expression still frozen on her face, with water starting to well up in her eyes. Unable to deal with what she just heard, Kasumi ran away in tears from him.

"No wait Kasumi I didn't..." Legato tried in vain. His attempt to reach here came to nothing as his intended target was fleeing from him. "DAMMIT! Why can't anything go right today!" Legato yelled out in frustration. Tofu could only look at the boy in confusion. This was the boy that he was going to be trusting Kasumi with? Tofu knew that he was longer a suitable choice after what he had done, but Legato didn't exactly seem to have everything under control.

Legato began to dash out of the alley, intending to chase after her, but stopped himself and looked back at the young doctor. "Just this once I'm going to overlook what happened and forgive you. Just once understand Tofu, screw up like this again and you won't be so fortunate. Try something like this again and next time I'll let my claws do the talking got it?" Legato stated firmly. Tofu nodded dumbly and that relieved the half-demon, knowing that young doctor would never try something like this again. Convincing him was the easy part, earning back the trust of those around would be much more difficult. "Now if you excuse me, I have to go pull my foot out of my mouth." Legato said before leaving the doctor to his thoughts.

'I'm a fool, I'm such a fool for believing this would have worked out.' Kasumi mentally berated herself as she ran down the street. 'Why did I have to want this. I should have just stayed in my role as taking care of my family. That life is quiet and simple, but NO I had to be bold. I had to take a chance, and this is what it has gotten me. I'm engaged to a boy that is already married and doesn't want to be engaged in the first place.' The oldest Tendo sibling remembered back to when Legato had told her that happiness wasn't something that you waited for. In hindsight it seemed cruel that the boy would give her his support and then shun her afterwards.

"Kasumi wait up!" Legato called out.

His voice didn't make the girl slow down any, in fact Kasumi started to quicken her pace. Of course if she was trying to outrun him she knew it was futile, Legato could easily achieve speeds much greater than anything she could hope to accomplish. Regardless she didn't want to deal with the person that was causing her so much pain right at the moment.

"Kasumi, I didn't mean what I said, that came out totally wrong back there." Legato insisted, catching up to her and falling in step.

"I don't want to talk to you, please leave me alone." Kasumi didn't even bother to looked at him.

'Oh no Kasumi you don't get out of it that easy.' Legato thought angrily to himself as he reached out and seized her hand, forcing her to stop and look at him. "Alright don't talk, just listen." He said sternly, his eyes relying to her his seriousness. He calmly let go of her and by her body language it was apparent that she indeed was going to hear him out. What came next wasn't going to be easy, in fact it was something Legato really rather not do, but it had to be done.

The half-demon took in a large breath and exhaled. "I guess I'm going to have to start from the beginning, if you're going to understand this." He said quietly.

"For most of my life I have been alone, on my own, with nobody but myself." Legato stated.

"On your own? Wait, what about your father and your brother? What about Shampoo?" Said Kasumi very confused.

'So now she wants to talk.' Legato thought. "Kasumi I only met everyone a few months ago, Shampoo a little longer than that but not by much. Apparently you don't know this, Ranma and I are half-brothers." The white-haired boy explained.

By the look Kasumi was giving him, she wasn't making the connection. "I was...I was...illegitimate." Even now, after all this time, it still hurt very much so for Legato to admit it.

"Illegitimate..." Kasumi repeated to herself.

"Yes and that title carries with it a heavier burden than you could ever know. I was marked the moment I was born and this world let me know EXACTLY what it thought of someone like me. My mother and I were shunned and despised by all of the adults in the village. That eventually filtered down to their children who followed their parent's lead. They didn't even understand why I was an outsider, they just knew they had unspoken permission to do as such. I was tormented and abused no matter what, without relent." Legato explained, his voice full of venom.

"Why, why would they treat you like that?" Kasumi asked in shock.

"Why? Because Kasumi, people hate those who are different from themselves. And that fact doesn't change no matter how close you are to that person." The half-demon responded bitterly. Legato shook his head, he just couldn't understand the rationale behind it. He would always be guilty for something Legato had no control over. "Carefree days spent with nothing but fun and laughter, isn't that what's promised to every child? Not me, I was never that fortunate..." He trailed off, his hands clenched in anger.

"Legato..." Kasumi tried. "The world betrayed me!" Legato exclaimed, cutting her off, "Turned its back on me, and cast me out of the light." The bitterness came through quite clearly in his tone. He looked at her, her face still displaying the shocked expression. 'Calm down, pull it together Legato' he told himself, taking a deep breath. He waited for a second before carrying on.

"The only peace I ever had was at home with my mother or alone by myself. We used to spend our nights in solitude listening to music. She really loved music, it was one of the most important things in her life. It's were I get my name from, Legato is a musical reference." He smiled, though it was lacking in much of the happiness of a normal smile.

"My mother was the kindest soul there was and her smile, her smile was so warm and gentle like..." They meet each other's gaze, causing his cheeks to ignite in a fierce blush. Legato quickly looked away from her, 'Go away! Go away! Go away!' He commanded mentally to his emotions. Luck was apparently on his side, because for once they actually did as they were told. Maybe it was that, or more likely what came next in the story dampened his mood greatly.

"Then she got sick. It was cancer..." He trailed off, finding it difficult to talk about it.

"I'm so sorry Legato, my mother, she had cancer too." Kasumi added supportively.

"Than you know the feeling don't you?" He said solemnly

"What feeling?" Kasumi asked.

"The feeling of being absolutely powerless," Legato answered, his body tensing up in anger, "To watch a person you love dearly wasting away and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it." His whole started to trembled at the injustice of it all. Why did it have to be her? Why did this world have to take away from him the only one in his life that was loving. Hadn't it done enough to make his life miserable? Of course the blame couldn't be rested solely on others. Legato had played his part as well.

"She died..." He hung his head, "She died because I wasn't strong enough." His voice was heavy with guilt and shame.

Kasumi shook her head, "No that's not right, it wasn't your fault. Please tell me you don't really believe that Legato?" She asked in concern.

He lifted his head and looked at her, his eyes had a very sad look in them. "If only you knew..." Legato said quietly. The half-demon closed his eyes for a few seconds and took a few breathes. He had made it this far, now he had no choice but to keep going with his story.

"After she died everything seemed distant, it all was so surreal. It was like someone had switched off all my feelings, all I could feel was numbness all over. I remember going to a secret spot that only the two of us knew about that I used to go to whenever I wanted to be safe. Day after day I waited their for my mother, expecting her just to show up and take me home. I couldn't accept that she was gone, I still couldn't register it in my mind." He recalled the memories vividly.

"I couldn't get over it a first either Legato. I know it must of been very hard on you. I understand." Kasumi comforted. She tried to move to hold him, to reassure him of her support, but he pulled away as if he had seemed her intent. "I appreciate that I really do, but I know you're lying. You can't understand...not unless you lost everything that mattered in the world. You see Kasumi bad dreams do come true. It's really sad when a six year old has nothing to live for." Legato lamented.

"Of course nobody bothered to come looking for me, I guess they figured they were killing two birds with you stone. Do you have any idea Kasumi what it feels like to be treated like a monster and then thrown away like garbage?" He said, resentment coating his voice.

"Don't say something like that Legato, I'm sure people were worried about you." Kasumi insisted to him.

"I know, I know, it's just..." His voice died off as he looked to the sky. "Love can sometimes kill, but hate can never help." He recited, like he had that phrase memorized, "She used to say that a lot, whenever I was upset or angry she used to tell me those words." Legato explained.

"Those are very good words to remember." Kasumi said with a smile.

"I know, and sometimes those words are the easiest thing to live by and other times..." He looked to the ground, "Well other times it's not quite so simple..." He trailed off.

Trying to sort out his feelings, Legato opted to do what seemed to work at times like this. He closed his and pictured his mother in his mind.

"She's smiling down on me, I can see it. As long as my mother is smiling down on me I'm stronger than anyone (Well almost anyone) and anything. That image alone has gotten me through many difficult times. I will not let her down no matter what. To be honest Kasumi I don't know what I would ever do if I lost that image." He said intensely.

"I'm sure you're making her proud Legato. You're a very kind person and a great martial artist. You've got plenty of friends, a family, and a wonderful wife." She praised, although the last part seemed to be said with some reluctance.

The white-haired boy turned to her, "You think so? Sometimes I'm not so sure." Kasumi was having a hard time trying to figure this boy out. How could he go from being so happy one moment to sad and dour the next.

"What do you mean by that?" Kasumi asked.

"Well after a while I was eventually taken in by someone. He was the one that laid the path of a martial artist before me. I spent many months with him before setting out into the world. It may seem bad for a kid to go into the world by himself, but compared to what I had already been through it seemed like nothing." Legato told.

"I guess, when you look at it like that..." Replied Kasumi.

"And that's what I've told everyone up until now, but that isn't the whole story. What you've heard is just the beginning and the end. I didn't leave because I wanted to, I left because I HAD to. I never even told Shampoo this, but I'm going to tell you so you'll understand just what kind of a person I am." Legato said.

"Why did you have to leave Legato? What happened in the middle on your stay?" Kasumi asked.

"This is what I've not told anyone else, not even Shampoo. The dojo that I stayed at wasn't in the best of condition...hell a strong breeze could've probably knocked it over. Anyway that didn't matter because I was at a place where I wasn't made fun of and didn't have to hide. The man also had a son, who he taught along side of me. We did pretty well together, we made good sparring partners, like Ranma and me now. I had thought that I had made my first friend...unfortunately I was wrong." Legato sighed and shook his head, remember what had happened that day. "One day I had been sent into town to pick up some things and when I got...when I got back it was gone."

"What was gone?" Kasumi asked.

"The dojo...the whole thing collapsed Kasumi. I mean I the placed looked like it was ready to fall down, but still a shock. The boy was crying, he was crying until he saw me. I asked him what had happened, then in an instant he attacked me. I didn't know what was going on, I tried to ask him, but it was no good. I think he was actually really trying to hurt me. All he kept saying was that it was my was because of me he was gone." Legato explained.

"Who was gone?" Kasumi asked.

"His father, his father died in the accident. Apparently he had been inside the building when the whole thing came down." Legato said.

"If that's true, than why did he think it was your fault?" Kasumi didn't quite understand.

"I wish I could tell you why, but to be honest I can't. All I know was that I felt betrayed by the first person my age I thought of as a friend. I was so confused and hurt I didn't know what to do, so I ran." Legato admitted.

"You ran?" Kasumi said.

"Yes I ran, and I didn't look back, but before I lost him he said something to me. He said that if he ever found me again...he'd kill me." Legato said.

Kasumi gasped, "I know Kasumi it's hard to believe, but I know it's true. He's still out there, searching for me, I can feel it." Legato hung his head and after a moment laughed sadly to himself. "It almost make sense, it completes the set...a mother and a father both because..." He trailed off.

'He really does blame himself for his mother's death.' Kasumi came to this sad awareness about him.

"So after that I returned to my mother's grave and made a promise. I would become the best martial artist in the world. That is what I have been doing for the last ten year Kasumi. Do you what it is like to get up every day and train until you're ready to drop dead, only to get up the next day and do it all over again?" Legato asked her.

The brown-haired girl could only shake her head. "Or to devote yourself so intensely to something because you if stop and think about it, you realize that you have nothing else in your life." Legato questioned.

The half-demon boy was surprised to see Kasumi nodding her head. "Really?" He asked astonished.

Kasumi nodded again, "Yes, for me it's my family and taking care of them. After my mother died there was a big hole in my family that she used to fill. With father being the way that he is and sisters being too young, I was the one that took up the role. After that I devoted myself to the care of my family. I love my family very much, it's just that sometimes I feel I'm living her life instead of my own." Her voice carried an undertone of sadness.

"You can understand what it feels like than when you're going nowhere, like you're whole existence is in jeopardy. After Jusenkyo I thought things had really started to look up. My dream of being the best martial artist suddenly didn't seem such a dream. It was in my grasp, I could just barely run my hands over it, almost touch it..." The half-demon motioned to mimic his speech. His expression turned dark as his hand tightened into a fist.

"Everything was starting to look good...then Ranma came into the picture." He finished in a low hiss. Legato continued, "After that it was nothing but failure on my part, he succeeds were I fail."

"That can't be true Legato, I've seen you and I wouldn't think of you as a failure." Kasumi insisted.

Legato shook his head, "It's failure by comparison Kasumi. Compared to him, all other martial artists in the world are falling short. There's nobody that can match his power. Unfortunately it's more than that, it's his brain that's really the problem. When it comes to fighting he's a genius beyond compare." Legato looked to the oldest Tendo sister.

"Have you ever looked my brother in the eyes?" He asked.

"Huh? What do you mean?" Was all Kasumi managed to answer.

"I mean have you ever really stared into them? Past those golden rings he and I both have and into those black depths?" She shook her head in response. He laughed lightly, "Not surprising, few people can with his eyes staring back at you. I have though, and in those black voids I see something...I see a tombstone."

"Oh my" was all Kasumi could come up with.

"Here lies the fool, that THOUGHT he could beat Ranma Saotome. That's what it says."

He sighed, "So where does that leave me then? It seems sometimes like I'm standing still, like I'm fated to remain in his shadow, destined to live my life as his second." He said.

"What about your first fight with your brother? Shampoo told me how you fought so valiantly against him." Kasumi said. The dog-eared boy laughed a little to himself. "The way Shampoo tells the story it seems more like a fairytale. The truth is Kasumi that I was much closer to death than Ranma ever was." He hung his head, "Fighting him to a draw is the best I could ever do, lately that's been seeming less and less like an accomplishment."

"I'm sure that you are trying the best I can Legato." Kasumi reassured. 'Too bad my best isn't good enough.' Legato thought sadly.

"All my life I've chasing after my brother, whether or not I knew it I was always trying to catch up. Trying to get where he is, trying to get what he has. No matter what though it seems like I'm always one step behind him. But one day, it will be Ranma's turn to run, I promise you that Kasumi." Legato said in defiance

He turned away from her and looked to the sky. "For the longest time I've had certain questions that I have been asking myself. Why didn't he come back for me? Didn't he think I was worth something? Didn't he think I was worth keeping? Why was I born only to be abandoned and shunned?" Legato asked with a sad expression. The half-demon was surprised to feel a pair of arms around him. At first he didn't know how to react. He wanted to break off the contact, but instead found himself melting into it. It was warm, it was comforting, and after stirring up so many painful memories it was a pleasant distraction at the moment.

"It's alright Legato, you are worth something, to many people. If your father doesn't see that right now I'm sure he will." She told him softly.

He suddenly felt uncomfortable, like he was being watched. He undid her arms for him and backed away to a safe distant. "I appreciate the thought, but I know the real answers. My father is a lazy, stupid, and greedy man who ran away from his responsibilities. You may forgive him for what he did to my mother and me, but I never will." He said coldly.

"I see..." Kasumi didn't want to argue with him over the subject.

"Now there's another question that I have. It's a question that keeps running through my head. I can't get it out, and the more I think about the angrier it makes me" said Legato.

"What question is that Legato?" Kasumi asked, Legato raised an eyebrow, "You want to know?" She nodded.

"The question is simply this...Why did he choose Ranma...over me?" He said slowly.

"Legato he didn't..." Kasumi tried to explain to him.

"WHY AM I ALWAYS SECOND BEST TO HIM?" Legato screamed out in frustration. 'What is it that he has that I lack' Legato painfully asked himself. He turned away from her to regain his composure, Kasumi remained silent as she couldn't come up with anything to say to him. Legato knew better than to let this get to him, he needed to get a grip. After a few heavy breathes and clearing of water from his eyes, Legato turned back around.

"You know my story isn't all that different from Ranma's, it's just a few chapters behind that's all. He's my older brother and I do look up to him. Honestly sometimes I'm actually a little jealous of him sometimes. I mean he's smart. he's strong, and he's talented. He's so fortunate and he probably doesn't even realize it because..." A single lonely tear ran down the side of his face, "Because he gets to be everything I can't be." Legato finished in a wavering voice. "So now you know." He added quietly.

Kasumi for her part had enough restraint not to smother the boy in an embrace. Even so her heart went out to the boy, she couldn't even imagine what life had been like for him. "And then I met Shampoo, and nothing has been the same ever since. I can't even begin to describe the feelings that I get. When I'm with her it's like a warm blanket being wrapped gently around me. I'm never as happy as when I'm with her. Honestly I can't imagine what I would do without her." Legato said, a small smile returning to him. Kasumi on the other hand seemed to have grown more and more despondent the longer Legato talked about his wife. The half-demon could see this in her eyes and decided that the time was right to drive his point home.

"Do you understand yet? I don't just love her, I need her. Kasumi I NEED her! She makes me feel good about myself. She makes me feel like I'm more than just some mistake." The last part came out in a low tone. "Look me in the eye and tell me I should risk that. I won't, not for anything...or anyone." He finished staring right at the nineteen year old, making his message to her undeniable.

Kasumi could feel all her hopes and dreams shattering around her. Legato had just told her how important his wife was to him, that Shampoo was the one he needed and not her. Not her, it was those words that tore at the heart of the gentle girl.

Legato wasn't feeling much better about it than her. He hadn't wanted to hurt the girl more than necessary, but it still had to be down. This had to be better than leading the poor girl on. Even still, that look she was giving him made the resolve of the half-demon began to falter.

"Kasumi please try to understand, I don't think this engagement is going to work out. I mean even if I could act on how I felt..." Legato froze in his tracks as his eyes went wide in shock over his own statement. On the inside alarms were blaring in his mind as he went into a panic. 'I didn't just say that, I didn't just say that. Please tell me I didn't just say that! Where the hell did that come from?' The thoughts rushed through his head. He could see in her brown eyes a mixture of hope and joy starting to fill the space only a short time ago was occupied by despair and disappointment. 'Damn I did say it.' Legato thought in despair.

"Then you do feel something?" Kasumi asked, the eagerness in her voice slipped through her normally quiet and reserved self.

She took a bold step towards him, her breathing became heavier, her cheeks burn, and her heart was beating so hard it seemed like it wanted to escape from her chest. She was tapping into something that Kasumi had only experienced in small amounts before. Since the arrival of the white-haired youth the frequency of these feelings had been steadily rising. These reactions were also happening to the dog-eared boy with just as much intensity. Legato couldn't will himself to break off the gaze they shared. 'Look away! Look away! Don't just stand here you traitor do something!' His mind screamed out. However try as he will, Legato was frozen steadfast in place. Suddenly talking about his past, painful and haunting as it was, didn't seem so bad. It may have hurt, but a least the feeling was familiar.

The young half-demon was in uncharted territory, in fact both of them were, and he had lost his way. One thing was certain though. If he didn't get a hold of himself something was going to happen. Something, that Legato was not prepared for just yet. He finally broke off eye contact with her, "That's not the point." He said defensively, taking a step back and granting himself some much needed breathing room.

"Than what is the point Legato?" Kasumi asked her tone uncharacteristically confrontational. She had gotten something substantial out of him and she wasn't going to let up now. Legato was put off guard by her forwardness, but came back even more defensive.

"What do you want from me? He demanded angrily. "I only have one heart Kasumi and it belongs to Shampoo! Maybe there is something in there for you and maybe there isn't. Do want to take it out and divide it down the middle? Is that what you really want? Half a heart?" He asked before turning his back on her.

"Well I won't do that Kasumi. I couldn't do that to Shampoo and you deserve better…much better." When he was finished Legato felt a sense of relief. It hadn't been easy, he felt a little guilty, but he had done it. All that was left for him now was to say his good bye and to leave, before he did something else stupid he would regret.

"That's not right." She said quietly. Legato made the mistake of turning around to acknowledge the comment, and again found himself frozen by those wonderful eyes of hers. A mumbled "What?" was about all he could manage while trapped in her gaze.

"I said that isn't right Legato." She corrected him. "It isn't something you can measure, and it's not something that can be limited. The way you feel for one person isn't the same as you feel for another." Kasumi smiled warmly as she approached him. "I promise that I won't make you jeopardize anything that's important to you…just…please don't…" Her voice wavered.

Legato was back to where he had started from and this whole conversation, a conversation he had planned to set things right, had been for nothing. What he needed to do now was to get far away from her, before he did something else he would regret. "Yeah…sure…um listen I gotta go." He hastily explained before turning and ran full force away from her. 'I'm so weak! I'm so weak! Why am I such an indecisive fool! Why?' He cursed himself as Legato wiped away the tears that were quickly forming.

The oldest Tendo daughter stared in the direction Legato for a few minutes, not taking her gaze away. The past few moments she had been with him had been a storm of emotions ranging from anger, to sadness, sympathy, and finally caring and understanding. She had come to realized that Kasumi hadn't really know her fiancée, not after what he had told her. As the nineteen year old stood there something which had been for a long time been willing forced into the back of her mind. Both Legato and Kasumi were running away from many things, and worst of all each other

"Legato…" Kasumi said the name softly to herself.

"How you do it?" A voice asked from the darkness. This voice startled the brown-haired girl as she let out an audible gasp. Turning to the source, Kasumi's blood all but froze when she saw the source behind it. From the darkness emerged Shampoo, however gone was the bubbly and energetic purple-haired girl that Kasumi had grown used to. Replaced by that was a girl that exuded nothing but cold fury, like a predator with its prey in its sights.

"Sh-Shampoo!" Kasumi exclaimed in just as much in surprise as she did in fright. The younger girl towards her slowly at a deliberate pace, her eyes not taking their intense stare off of her. "So how you do it?" Shampoo asked again, with a little more edge in her voice than before.

"Do what?" was what Kasumi forced herself to say as an answer. Shampoo stood before her and smiled, not a smile of kindness, but one that thinly veiled a homicidal urge.

"Shampoo curious, she want to know. How you capture Airen's attention so well he no even notice beloved wife nearby?" her tone was genuinely curious, but also one that full of scorn.

If Kasumi was worried before now she was quite afraid now. "You mean you…"

"Heard?" Shampoo cut her off, "Yes Shampoo hear much, like very little. Part where you and Airen say have feelings for each other…Shampoo really no like that part."

Any semblance of friendliness was dropped at the end of that sentence. The eyes of the Amazon narrowed as she slowly started to advance on her target. In response to this Kasumi began backing up until she found herself pressed up against a wall, completing the feeling of being a corner animal. "Shampoo I didn't mean…" Kasumi began to say, but was silenced as Shampoo locked her hand tightly around her throat.

"Spare Shampoo your stupid talking. Sweet words may work on Airen, they no work on me" she said coldly. With what looked like complete ease Shampoo lifted the other girl off the group, keeping her pressed against the wall. Kasumi struggled to remove the grasp of the younger girl, but to no avail. Shampoo's strength was considerably higher than that of a normal person. As the Amazon tightened her grip Kasumi tried in vain to pry the finger away from her throat, which was a futile effort.

"WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE! YOU THINK YOU SO SPECIAL! YOU THINK AIREN WOULD WANT SOME STUPID HOMEMAKER! YOU THINK YOU HAVE ANY CHANCE WITH AIREN WHILE SHAMPOO BY HIS SIDE!" Shampoo screamed at her. The eyes of the Chinese girl held in them a mix of troubled emotions. Her head lowered as she continued to keep Kasumi suspended.

"So why he like you? What Shampoo doing wrong? Is she no pretty enough? Doesn't Shampoo show Airen she love him? She no strong warrior? So why?" Shampoo questioned, distraught. When she raised her head and looked to Kasumi again, her eyes displayed a very different set of emotions. They were confused, sad, shameful, and angry all at once.


As Kasumi was held suspended above the ground it started to occur to her just way Shampoo was so angry. It wasn't just that Legato was starting to notice the Tendo girl, their little confession, or even Kasumi intruding on their relationship. It was Shampoo, more to the point it was just how insecure about Legato that she really was. With that thought in mind, struggling to take in what air she could, Kasumi managed to whisper "I didn't know…I'm sorry".

The lavender eyes of the Amazon scrutinized her, looking for any sign of deception in her words. After a few tense and silent moments the grip on Kasumi relaxed, causing her to fall to the ground. She coughed a little while rubbing the red marks on her throat. Shampoo was still glaring at her, but she seemed to be calmer.

"Legato he…he told me what happened to him. I just can't believe it, I can't believe what he went through. He was abandoned and alone for so long." Kasumi looked to Shampoo, "What do think that does to a person?" She question.

The lavender-haired couldn't give her an immediate answer, instead choosing to look away. "It make you strong, very determined. Not because you want to be, because you have to." She continued looking towards the horizon. "Out there is like jungle, you no strong you get eaten." She looked back to Kasumi with a renewed angry glare. "Homemakers no can understand that." Shampoo said in a low hiss.

For this insult all Shampoo received as a response was a smile and the words "You're right I wouldn't". Kasumi picked herself off the ground, "I've been taking care of my family for a long time. After my mother died I was the one who looked after my family. I may not have ever been far from home, but I'm not blind either. I can see when someone is in pain." Kasumi softly explained.

"You think you know Airen that well? Better than Shampoo?" Shampoo angrily challenged.

The Tendo daughter shook her head, "I didn't say that. You've been with him longer so you would be closer to him, but you too must see it." Kasumi answered.

"See it?" Shampoo mimicked.

"Yes, I didn't notice it at first. He hides it well, behind his smile and how he acts, but its there. I saw it tonight, more so than I had before. The eyes, if you look hard enough they will tell you the truth. I saw in them such pain, such sorrow." Kasumi lamented.

There was a pause. "Shampoo see it too, but it best not talk about past. It only make Airen more upset, make him sad, so Shampoo avoid it." She said back to her.

Kasumi frowned, "Ignoring the problem isn't going to make it go away Shampoo, you do realize that. Legato needs…"

The Amazon once again locked her hand around the older girl's throat, though with less force as the last. "You know what Airen needs? You telling Shampoo how to be wife!" Shampoo snarled.

This time Kasumi made no attempt to free herself, instead remaining silent and holding her gaze with the Shampoo. When she did speak it was quiet and with great seriousness. "I saw something else in his eyes. I saw bitterness, I saw anger, darkness, and I saw…I saw…hatred. Hatred for the father that abandoned him, hatred for the world that rejected him, and hatred for the brother that continues to stand in the way of his dream. He hates all of those things, and yet, what he yearns for more than anything else is their acceptance." Kasumi softly explained.

She had read about something like this before in a book she borrowed from Dr. Tofu on psychology. It was called an Inferiority Complex. It was when a person suffered from low self-esteem and didn't think themselves good as others. To make up for this frame of mind a person overcompensated as a means of dealing with their problem. In Legato's case it was martial arts and to a lesser degree his marriage.

Shampoo gave a dismissive snort, "Airen wasting time if he want that. Father is lazy stupid panda man, world is big place, and brother Ranma only care about self."

Kasumi tilted her head and frowned, "How strange, I always though it was admirable." In thruth Shampoo believed this as well, but she wasn't about to let Kasumi know that.

Shampoo could only look at her with dissapproval before looking away. "You tell Airen not to hurt doctor even though doctor hurt him, why?" The Amazon asked.

"I just didn't want anyone else to get hurt because of me that's all." Kasumi answered.

"Doctor love?" Shampoo asked rather bluntly.

It took Kasumi a few moments of staring at the ground before coming up with a quiet "I don't know."

"Airen?" Shampoo asked again only with reservation in her voice, like she didn't want to hear the answer.

Kasumi was silent for even longer still before managing a soft "I don't know that either."

Shampoo glared. "Hmph, women who no know own heart no should be trying to steal other woman's husband."

"Shampoo I'm not trying to..." Kasumi began.

"Don't bother," Shampoo interupted, "Shampoo already say sweet words no work on her." The Amazon cupped the other girl's cheeks with her hands, getting ready to give her the Kiss of Death. However as much as she thought she wanted to, Shampoo couldn't do it. There were other was to get her point across. "You promise Airen you no come between him and Shampoo, you going to keep promise and Shampoo make sure. If you take Airen from Shampoo..." She brought herself in close, "Then Shampoo kill." She whispered.

The Amazon savored the look of fright on her rival. "Obstacles are for killing, is Amazon way. You get between me and Airen, you obstacle." Shampoo let go of the other girl and smile in satisfaction, Kasumi had gotten the message. "You no obstacle, than you no have problem yes." Shampoo turned and walked away. She was a bit irritated with herself though, the old Shampoo would have given Kasumi the Kiss of Death without a second thought for what she was trying to do. It was different for her here, she didn't have the whole village scrutizing herself, watching everything she did. Besides excluding what had happened with Legato, Kasumi had been the nicest one among the people she had met. That thought made her stop for a moment. "Shampoo need Airen just as much Airen need no forget that." She said finally before .

For a second time it was Kasumi found herself at a complete lose of what to do. Everything had been so familiar when she was just playing to role of the homemaker. Now she found herself caught between the two opposing forces of Legato and Shampoo. It seemed that for every question she could answer there were a dozen more popping up all around her. One thing was certain though...she had left the laundry out.

It was later that night that Ranma found himself in bed, and staring at the ceiling. The old Ranma slept like a log, with pretty much nothing waking him up. This Ranma on the otherhand was very much a light sleeper, the littlest thing would wake him up. It was his demon instincts at work, making sure he was not caught off guard. This was just one of the many suprise benefits he had received since that fateful day at Jusenkyo.

What his senses were currently telling him was that besides the usual, or rather unusual, residents there was someone else in the vicinity. It was that annoying girl, Kodachi, the one with the ribbon. Her being there at this hour of the night could only mean foul play. Ramna opened up with all his senses to track the girl and determine where she was heading from outside.

'Akane's room.' He thought to himself.

The demon looked to one side of the room and saw his father and Ryoga asleep and snoring away loudly. To his other he saw his brother tossing and turning in what looked like the effect of an unpleasant dream. Shampoo was laying next to him sound asleep, holding onto her husband. That meant there was no one else in Akane's room but her.

Now Ranma had a choice to make. He could either stay were he was and ignore it, or go save the hapless girl. Ranma had no doubt if he did nothing Akane wouldn't realize Kodachi was there until it was too late. His demon instinct, deep down, told him that the weak deserved their fate. That was afterall the law of nature. Unfortuantely he still had the old Ranma mindset deep down within him. His honor dictated that a martial artist helped those who were in need.


Like he didn't already know the answer. "Alright fine," Ranma said to himself. He rose to his feet and reveiled the tinest of smiles. "Stupid conscience" He remarked as he went to Akane. In one fluid blur Ranma sprang out of bed, left the room, down the hall, and into Akane's room in a mere moment. without breaking his stride Ranma flipped on the lights and pulled Akane out of bed just in time to avoid the hammer crashing down on her.

This caught both girls by suprise, moreso Akane than Kodachi, as she was just suddenly awoke to find Ranma holding onto her.

"Ranma what are you doing in here?" Akane asked quite bewildered.

"We meet again handsome stranger." Kodachi commented.

It was then that Akane saw Kodachi and her hammer, "Who are you and what are you doing in my house?" Akane demanded to her.

"Taking the words 'anything goes' to heart it appears." Ranma dryly commented.

"It's true, I came her tonight to assure Furikan lost the gymnastic match, but instead I find a wonderful suprise." Kodachi admited, her eyes fixed on Ranma.

"Get outta my house!" Akane yelled at her.

"I don't take orders from peasnats." Kodachi countered.

"Leave." Ranma simply said.

There was a tense moment before Kodachi gave Ranma a smile that made even him uncomfortable. "Very well" she conceded, "The next time we meet I hope it can be a little more...intimiate." Jumping out the window, but not before throwing a bouque of black roses at their feet. The ear piercing sound of her laughter filled the air behind her.

"That was weird," Akane commented as she picked up the flowers, "That girl is kinda strange."

"Crazy would be the word I..." Ranma was saying as his senses alerted him to something. Lightning fast he snatched the flowers and threw them out the window. "Hey what are doing!" Akane demanded, but then stopped when she saw the flowers a cloud of gas outside.

"They were poisoned." Ranma explained.

Akane could only stare at him. This was the same person that had always seemed cold and uncaring to everyone around him, but yet he had just helped her. Maybe he wasn't as horrible as she thought? "Ranma, I don't know what to say...thank you."

"I didn't do this to help, that girl was annoying me, and I couldn't sleep, nothing more." He replied curtly.

Akane's anger rose, any new perspective on Ranma vanished, returning to her old opinion of him. "You jerk! I was trying to thank you!" She said heatedly.

"I didn't tell you to do that." Was all Ranma responded.

"Tell me to do that? Who do you think you are?" She demanded.

"The one that just saved you." Ranma countered.

This left the girl silent as the demon went to leave. Before he walked out the door he stopped, "Go back to sleep and forget this ever happened" he said before leaving.

'What was with him? He helps me and doesn't want anyone to know? Why?' Akane thought to herself. She shut off the lights and crawled back into bed. In the darkness a single word escaped from her mouth. "Jerk" Akane grumbled.

Down the hall, lying back in bed, Ranma heard her. With his hearing of course he heard her. Not that it matter to him much, as long as people didn't find out about it. It wouldn't do for people to know that Ranma would go out of his way to help people. If they did, the calm and aloof persona he had been cultivating among them would be ruined. They would think that he was the old Ranma had come back. A demon was not made to do anything they didn't want to do. That very thought made Ranma stop and think for a moment. He was helping those around him because he wanted to? This ran counterdicative to the image he presented to everyone. Regardless, that wasn't going to change who he was and how he acted. Ironic that a full demon of noble lineage was doing all of this for the sake of humans.

"Humans" Ranma mused to himself "they certainly are...interesting".