Well well well, I think the original story was an immense success in original style Story-Weaving, and that my artful talents were not wasted on the tale. This one has some mild Lemon subject matter, so if you find this offensive, go ahead and leave.

So, I've decided to write yet another tale based on the trepidous trio of Ranma/Hiroshi/Daisuke. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, so the last one had more of Hiroshi than Daisuke... but Daisuke had a lot more flavor and personality than ever before! Hrrnnnn... maybe I will make a side-story detailing Daisuke one of these days.

AFTER I FINISH THIS!!! Ahh, Ce Sirrah Sirrah.

Don't worry, I won't break out into singingEmphatic snicker placed here. Well, the next volume in the series is a three parter, so glue your eyelids open and read on! One note, however. This is an Alterna-verse fanfic which is VERY close to the original. The only major difference is that when the series ended (After Saffron was defeated), Nodoka never found out about the curse. 'Nuff said.

Hope you enjoy immensely, and C&C is greatly appreciated. So are flames. Death threats are looked forward too, after all... I am the real Unibomber. Forget that Kasczinsky fella, I'm the real thing! Or maybe that was Kodachi...

Ahh, heck! On with the story!

Tell a Friend About Fragile Clay!!!

Fragile Clay: Volume 2

Episode two:

"Water Water, Where'd it go?!

The Vengeance of Aquarius!"

(Opening Scenes and music are "Little Date", with added scenes of Hiroshi in battle with his Genji garb and Bo.)

A peaceful breeze rustled the leaves of the silent trees, as sunshine streamed down in a golden cascade, bathing a beautiful red-headed girl in shimmering rays of sunlight. She wore a red string bikini that emphasized her very feminine body.

She read a book as she watched her friends playing in the sea. She grumbled at the black-haired boy who was talking to a rather cute-looking girl with short-cropped hair.

"Ryouga, the idiot. What's he thinking, talking to Akane? It's not like he stands a chance," The red-headed girl sighed as she looked back at the book and turned the page.

It was a borrowed book, the girl remembered. Hiroshi, her friend had lent it to her for the weekend. She flipped through the pages of, "Romeo and Juliet," a play they had done just months before , and sighed. Why couldn't Akane be like that with her? Each time she tried getting close to her fiancee she always beat her and said something like "Ranma you Idiot!".

Ranma recalled the late night encounter. *Well... almost all the time.*

Ranma turned the page and a piece of paper fell out. *Heh?* She looked down at it. Her delicate fingers picked it up and unfolded it.

"Another dream, Last night. Weird.

Some girl came to me with her head

On fire wearing a prom dress and

began dancing some strange dance.

Then she split in two, one was me

and the other was her, only younger.

Then a mask fell and shattered the glass,

Only then did I realize I was looking

through a window. Children. Screams

Awoke me... the dream has left my mind."

Ranma blinked as she looked down at the paper. She didn't much recognize the handwriting, but the dream sounded familiar. *I wonder why?*

She shrugged and folded it up, sticking it in the back of the book. She stretched and stood up, placing the book beside the beach-towel she had been laying on.

She walked over to Ryouga with a bottle in her hand. The lost boy was rubbing himself down with the curse-protecting soap Shampoo had let him borrow when Ranma tapped him on the shoulder.

"What do _You_ want, Ranma?!" Ryouga almost yelled, but knew he shouldn't make a scene at the beach... with Akane. *I can't let myself ruin her day.*

Ranma grinned an evil grin, remembering that her body was as much a weapon as her mind... while both in concert can make Ryouga squirm. This was going to be fun, especially since Ryouga had promised Akane there would be no fights.

Ranma put a soft feminine lull into her voice, "Well, Ryouga, you've been so nice lately I thought I would ask you to do something for me. Just a _little_ thing," Ranma put her index and thumb close together in front of her face, emphasizing the word "Little".

Ryouga's scowl disappeared in an instant, thinking that Ranma was actually trying to be nice for once.

"Eh... what do you mean?" Ryouga seemed a bit confused, both at the silly grin and the almost unnoticeable womanly tone in Ranma's voice.

"Well.... I was thinking that you being such a _nice_ guy and all, that you might want to help me out a little," Ranma took Ryouga's hand and pulled him back over to her beach blanket. Ryouga used his other hand to scratch his head, wondering both why Ranma was being nice, and what she meant by a favor.

Ranma pressed something into his hands as she plopped down chest first on the towel.

Ranma could almost feel the blood drain from Ryouga's face when he saw the sun-tan lotion.

"Rub me down, Pig-boy!" Ranma said, trying not to chuckle at the angst his friend was feeling.

"Ranma... Is this a joke?" Ryouga sounded nervous, which almost overpowered Ranma with laughter. She swallowed her mirth.

"Of course not, P-chan! Ya'see, there's this little spot I can't exactly reach, and I was _hoping_ you'd be _man_ enough to help. But, what does a lost boy like you know about? Probably are too _scared_ to help out widdle ol' me!" Ranma stifled her giggle, but a small bit got through. She was having fun watching Ryouga squirm.

Ryouga turned red, a bit from embarrassment, and a bit from anger. *Ranma's trying to make fun of me!*

"Ranma... why should I help you?! YOU'VE made my life a LIVING HELL! If it WASN'T FOR YOU-" Ryouga was sharply cut off.

"I'd be careful P-chan, Akane might get angry if we fight right now... I seem to remember something about a promise... besides... what could I do? If you're really not up to it, I guess I'll have to find someone with enough guts!" Ranma smiled softly as her words sunk in.

Ryouga began to fume, but quickly dropped to his knees and began applying lotion. After several moments, Ryouga's anger turned into sheer nervousness and embarrassment as he felt Ranma's soft feminine flesh under his hands.

*The worst part is... I'm just now REALIZING exactly what's happened to Ranma! And...* Ryouga felt the blood rushing to his head, and was afraid he was about to bleed. He could not help the fact of the matter.

Ranma was turning him on.

*OhnowhatwouldAkanethinkshe'llthinkI'munfaithfulbutRanmaissobeautifulandshe

feelssogoodandwhatamIsaying?*

Ranma liked the torture she was putting Ryouga through, she could almost see his thoughts "What will Akane think?" so surely to be among them.

Ranma had to admit, though, Ryouga was good at this. Strangely she wasn't afraid of the fact that hands which could shatter solid stone and most likely snap her in two were running up and down her spine. It was kind of comforting.

Ryouga couldn't stand it any longer, thousands of images of Ranma's nude form seemed to leap to mind, images from all the times Ranma had ignored feminine modesty. His nose began gushing blood in torrents.

Ranma yelped as warm liquid fell across her back and Ryouga toppled over.

She quickly leapt up and ran into the water, washing off the blood she was sure would be there.

Ryouga twitched on the ground, having lost a good amount of his body fluids. He could _now_ banish the images from his mind, bringing up moments where fists and feet had connected with his head.

He felt better thinking about these. He would reprimand Ranma later when he regained his strength.

Ranma floated in the water, for a moment forgetting her fear associated with being surrounded by the stuff. She was bothered by what her joke had elicited as a response. Ryouga only bled when he was attracted to a girl... and most often when he saw that girl in the buff. The huge amount he had bled meant either he was thinking of Akane in an improper way or...

Ranma had actually turned him on. Very much. *Disturbing... maybe I took it kinda a bit too far... I mean, I sometimes forget what I look like as a... girl.* Ranma turned a bit red as she walked out of the water to see if Ryouga was all right.

Fortunately, the black-haired boy had stopped bleeding. He saw Ranma looking down at him and his anger flared up, renewing him with a new energy. The feral growl began deep in his throat, too low for Ranma to hear.

"Hey, Ryouga... Ah... Sorry 'bout that, I uh..."

Ryouga leaped up and threw a punch at Ranma, who quickly leaped back a few feet, her breasts bouncing furiously in the red bikini. Ranma noted that _that_ had hurt a bit, and scolded herself for wearing the bikini. *Never Again, Nabiki!*

"Ranmaaa!!! DIE!" Ryouga leaped at Ranma, who spun around to flee into the water. Ryouga mindlessly threw his arms around Ranma as he heard a familiar voice.

"RYOUGA?!" Akane yelled, and Ryouga paused, his arms flung around Ranma's chest, his hands clenched suggestively around soft flesh.

"A-A-Akane?" Ryouga said, still oblivious to the situation.

"I've _tried_ talking to Ranma, _He_ doesn't _listen_! But I had _hoped_ for some more maturity from _you_! How could you be so... so... SICK?!" Akane stormed off furiously.

Ryouga's mind lurched out of pause, to find his hands wrapped around Ranma's firm breasts.

Ranma was seven shades of red with huge blue eyes as she recalled another embarrasing episode with Ryouga... and the Koi Fishing Rod.

Suddenly, those magically induced feelings returned, and she could feel herself becoming aroused.

Ryouga blushed furiously, but couldn't seem to remove his hands from Ranma's breasts. His mind wouldn't work that far. The thought would reach his head, but not his arms. Ryouga turned positively crimson when he felt Ranma's nipples become stiff.

Ranma forced the feeling to the back of her mind and began shaking in fury. "Ryouga... NO BAKA!!!!" She twirled around and thrust her fist upward into the Lost-Boys jaw.

Ryouga's head was ringing, but surprisingly he was still on the ground. Ranma blurred from three images and then settled into one. Ryouga saw a faint shimmer, and suddenly a huge metal sledge-hammer appeared in Ranma's hand.

"BAKA! I tried apologizing... and you _GROPE_ ME!!!" Ranma began swinging at Ryouga's blue-maned head, connecting more often than not as she chased him down the beach.

After she knocked him unconcious, she turned to walk back to her towel. She paused after a few steps and looked down at her hand, considering the sledge she held. Where had it come from? Just as mysteriously as it had appeared, the thing vanished.

Ranma remembered the odd sexual impulse travel through her body, and then sheer rage unlike ever before. She just seemed to offer her hands out, as if her rage would take a solid form.

Ranma shrugged, brushing the thought off until later. Yet, the thought had made her pause for a moment, and she looked back at Ryouga. She felt a bit guilty, having started it all, but she couldn't leave him out here in shorts alone... he could get lost. Then he would actually _have_ a good reason to blame Ranma.

She groaned and began dragging him back by one of his legs.

She thought while she trudged along, her breasts bouncing up and down... emphasizing her feminine state.

The Koi Fishing Rod had had the unique ability of casting a love spell on whoever it caught so that the person caught would fall in love with the catcher.

Ranma had been caught by Ryouga, and although it hadn't really been _Love_, she could not ignore the occasional surge of sexual passion she had when Ryouga got _too_ close.

Afterwards, she had been able to control it and actually rid her mind of most of the influence.

The one thing she couldn't forget, however, is _why_ Ryouga had seemed so attractive. He had been the only man, and would most likely be the only man, who could ever actually turn her on.

*And damn him for using that magic. If it weren't for that, I wouldn't have those occasional thoughts of him!* She grumbled. Another reason to despise Ryouga.

What bothered her the most, however, is that instantaneous thought pattern imprinted in her from the Fishing Rod.

As she walked she remembered the rage in Ryouga's voice, then Akane's shout, then the realization that Ryouga's hands were carressing her breasts.

*_That_ was the moment, dammit. I should've run sooner when I saw that angry look in his eyes.*

She recalled, then, the tingling sensation as her nipples hardened, and then a wet feeling where it shouldn't have been...

In another moment, she could have been necking with Ryouga... and...

*Don't think about that.* The thought sickened her, and scared her a bit more than usual. It also made her angry at the way she could be so easily manipulated by magic into having... SEX with a man.

She stopped her trudging, almost gagging at the thought. She felt like she would throw up any second. *Damn you, Ryouga.* She'd get back at him for that... one day.

She was still aroused, which annoyed her even more, her body felt hot and her cheeks were flushed. These feelings only returned when Ryouga groped... specific places on her _female_ body. She made a mental note that she should keep Ryouga from touching her in any other way other than battle.

The thoughts of all the silly, spurious battles helped banish her thoughts from the incident, and got her temper up again.

She left Ryouga in the sand as she picked up her towel and lunchbox. She began stuffing them back in the satchel she had brought when a familiar female voice summoned her attention. Needless to say, she jumped when the voice surprised her.

"Yo! Ranma! Not leavin', are ya?" Ranma looked up at the speaker casting the shadow over her, and into the face of Amiko, Hiroshi's female Identity. Ranma forced a smile.

His friend was wearing a tight one piece splashed with black and white, it didn't conceal much and made a the pointed description of Hiroshi's now female body.

Ranma scowled, "Yeah, Ryouga ticked me and Akane off... groped my breasts..." Ranma blushed.

Amiko grinned nervously. "Heh... um, the way you, uh, look... it's like you... kinda... liked it?" Amiko was unsure, and the last few words were almost intangible.

Ranma glared at Amiko, "Yeah, but only because of some damn magic fishing rod! I don't like guys that way, 'Roshi... uh... Amiko,"

Amiko smiled, "It's alright if you call me Hiroshi, Ranma. At least, while we're not at school," Ranma forced her own smile.

"Hey, s'that your Suntan Lotion?" Amiko pointed to the bottle beside Ranma. Ranma looked at it for a moment, then said, "Yeah," Amiko stared at Ranma for a moment, a flash of uncertainty ran across her face.

"Could'ja maybe stay? I mean, I already feel funny enough wearing this suit... It makes me look so, eh... y'know. It'd really be great if you could help me for today," Amiko began laying down her own things beside Ranma, and even pulled out a small umbrella which she stuck in the sand. It cast her towel into a cool shadow.

Ranma sighed, and then began putting her own things back out.

Akane walked up, pausing to take a look at the unconcious Ryouga, and then approaching Ranma.

"Hey, sorry about Ryouga... I thought he would be better behaved," Akane felt embarrassed that her friend had been molesting her fiancee, and more embarrassed when she had looked back to see a flushed Ranma with Ryouga's arms wrapped around her.

"Nah, 's my fault. I got him worked up... I started it Akane," Ranma said as she pulled a small radio and sun-glasses out of the satchel.

Akane looked at her fiancee oddly, "Ranma? Are you all right?"

Ranma smiled up at her, "'Course I am, Hehehehehe... Why? Is something wrong?" Ranma became serious for a moment after her nervous laughter, she slipped the shades on her cute face. She had lied... the feelings that the Koi Rod had instilled in her, although almost completely gone, bothered her much more than she would have liked to admit.

"No... it's just that you usually don't admit to being the one at fault, it's usually someone else who supposedly started it," Akane walked back over to her towel and plopped down.

"What're you saying?! That all those other times were my fault?!" Ranma said half-jokingly, Akane laughed a bit.

Ranma sighed and leaned back, her beautiful body basking in the midday sun. Ryouga stirred and began to stand, hammer prints all over his face. He crawled over to Ranma's towel.

"Ga... Sorry... Ranma. But _you_ started it... I really am sorry though, about feeling your... ah... your...," Ryouga slumped back, unconcious again.

"Hiya, Pig-Boy molest girl-type Ranma?" Shampoo stood over Ranma in a blue bikini, Mousse stood beside her in white shorts.

"No, he didn't! He was _trying_ to attack me, and he fluked... tha's all. So, how's the married couple?" Ranma asked, relieved to get off the subject of Ryouga again.

Mousse looked down at Ranma and Amiko, "Well, since Cologne disappeared we've both been somewhat busy with Nekohanten, as well as sorting out all those weird magical artifacts she kept stashed in that chest of hers, this is the first time since last week we've actually been able to relax,"

"So I say to Mousse, why not we go to beach? Is sunny day, and good for swim. I fetch other bar of anti-curse soap for self, then Mousse get towel and such for sun-bathing. We not expect see you here, Ranma," Shampoo had put two towels down next to eachother while she spoke, after she was finished talking, she looked over at Ranma with a smile.

Ranma still felt a bit jealous of Mousse, Shampoo's 'Affections' were missed a bit at the Dojo. Then again, if Ranma had mentioned something like that Akane would have beat him six-ways-till-sunday. Besides... over the last two weeks Mousse and Shampoo's relationship had changed drastically.

"Is okay, Ranma. I happy, I Love Mousse. No have to worry about me," Shampoo stretched herself out on one of the towels as Mousse sat down on the other.

Ranma wondered if she was really that easy to read, but shrugged it off as Shampoo's 'Intuition'.

"Besides, I never know Mousse that flexible..." Ranma looked over at the two incredulously as Mousse blushed and Shampoo giggled.

Ranma rubbed the back of her head, pretending not to notice as the two kissed. After they were finished, Amiko spoke.

"So, ah... Mousse. Whatever happened to the old Ghoul anyways?" Mousse looked over at Amiko, remembering who she _really_ was after a moment.

"Sorry, Hiroshi. I don't know. There was absolutely no sign of her at the Nekohanten... I have a feeling she'll be back, though," Mousse shook his head, thinking about Cologne always made him nervous. Especially after the Joketsuzoku staff had been broken.

"Mousse, you go get me drink, Yes?" Shampoo seemed to order more than Ask the Amazon man.

"Yes, Shampoo," Mousse stood and dashed off to get his wife a drink.

"So, Ranma, you okay? Ryouga not hurt you, did he?" Shampoo sounded genuinely concerned as she sat up and looked at her ex-fiancee.

"I'm fine, he probably just hurt my pride a little, tha's all. Hey, Shampoo? Could you and 'Roshi... heh... uh finish up what Ryouga started... hehehe... uhm," Ranma nervously held up the sun-tan lotion.

Shampoo looked incredulously at Ranma, "Ranma? You... not a pervert... are you?" Shampoo looked at Ranma with a worried expression on her face.

Ranma gritted her teeth, "_No_ I am _not_ a pervert. I was _trying_ to make Ryouga _Nervous_. It jus' worked a bit too well. Hey, all I'm askin is for you to rub my back down, if you don't want to I'll understand," Ranma sat the bottle down and sulked as she stared out to sea.

"Is alright, Ranma. I believe you. Is no trouble," Shampoo grinned slyly. She looked over at Amiko.

"Ah. We'll put the lotion on you... but..." Amiko trailed off as Shampoo grinned.

"But what?" Ranma asked, a bit puzzled at the odd behaviour of his friends.

"You must do same for us," Shampoo said. Amiko giggled, then placed her hand to her mouth, confused at the utterly female reaction.

"You gotta be kiddin' me," Ranma shook her head, and they all started laughing.

Ranma shrugged, figuring that as a girl it didn't make much of a difference if they rubbed eachother's backs.

Akane, who had been silently reading Ranma's book looked up after she heard this. "What was that?! Hey, there's no way I'm letting you massage Shampoo's back, Ranma," Akane set the book down and glared at her fiancee. She turned a half-hearted smile toward Shampoo, "Shampoo, is it all right if I take Ranma's place? He can do Amiko," Shampoo looked over at Akane with a slightly disappointed frown, but her smile quickly returned after a moment. "Is all-right, Akane-Chan. I no mind, but first have to finish Ranma, Ne?"

Ranma looked at the exchange with interest, and Akane stared at Shampoo in astonishment. Shampoo had never called Akane "Akane-Chan" before. After Akane regained her senses and nodded, Ranma sighed and layed down on her stomach.

The two girls rubbed the cool lotion onto Ranma's back, and the red-head sighed in relaxation.

Ranma noted that her skin seemed much softer than when she was a guy, a fact she had never taken note of until this moment. She ran her hand across her arm while lying there, noticing it almost felt like silk to her touch. *Sheesh, I never knew there was _That_ much of a difference.*

"Okay, Ranma. Is our turn now. Akane-Chan! We done, here," Shampoo handed the bottle to her previous rival and layed down across her towel. Amiko mimicked Shampoo, a bit tensely at first.

Ranma nervously began, and she began humming unconciously to herself while she rubbed down her friends back. *Hmm... 'Roshi's jus' as soft as I am...* Ranma paused for a moment, as she took note of what she was doing.

The thought submerged in her mind floated to the fore-front, that her friend was _very_ attractive. That combined with the softness of Amiko's skin...

Ranma felt the blush coming on as she felt a familiar tingling, most definitely the same feeling Ryouga had roused in her. She looked around to see if anyone noticed her currently aroused state, then smiled as she continued in her work. *Note to self: Another advantage to being a girl... nobody knows when you're hot or not.* Ranma giggled a bit at the thought.

"What's funny?" Akane asked, as she rubbed Shampoo's back.

"'S nothin'," Ranma frowned as she noticed Shampoo purring. *She's not a cat now, stupid!* Ranma told herself after a brief shudder coursed through her.

The four girls were enjoying themselves immensely, Ryouga woke up and they talked a bit about some of his adventures, as well as some of their own. Ranma even turned on the radio and began to sing and dance to familiar songs, which soon had Amiko, Akane, and Shampoo doing the same.

Ryouga stared bug eyed as the girls bounced and sang, unable to bleed... he was too shocked. Especially since Ranma didn't take much notice of how much her entire body bounced when she threw herself completely into a song.

Ranma felt strangely happy listening to Akane sing. She was actually quite good. She made a personal note to tell her later.

After the current song was finished they all fell into a pile of laughter. Ranma included.

*Is this what it's like to be one of the "Girl's?"* Ranma asked herself, experiencing a new sensation.

Mousse returned several times, and was constantly sent back by _someone_ to go get something or other. Ranma felt a bit ashamed, using her friend like that. It was also a bit amusing, Mousse seemed to be enjoying himself just making everyone happy, especially Shampoo.

The girls eventually settled down after a swim, and just started talking while laying on their stomachs.

It was a perfect day. Ranma sighed, a feeling of contentedness falling over her.

The girls had switched places several times, and Ukyou had even come to join the party. Nabiki was off swimming or swindling, and Ryouga had gone swimming. Ranma kept an eye on him, to make sure he didn't get lost.

After a while, Ranma found Akane and her alone, the other girls had gone to swim with Ryouga and Mousse.

"Hey Akane?" Ranma said as they both stared up into the blue expanse above, lying flat on their backs.

"Hm?" Akane looked away from her book with a smile.

"This is fun. I mean, no fighting... jus' hangin' with you and the..." Ranma paused with a frown, she had been enjoying herself. She had been _enjoying_ being a girl! She sat bolt upright, "Ohmygosh,"

Akane sat up beside her, seeing a _very_ worried expression on Ranma's face, "What's wrong?" Akane felt a bit worried herself... about Ranma.

"It's jus' that... it's been so nice today. I mean, I've been enjoying myself, and it scares me like hell Akane... Right now I _like_ being a girl! I mean here, at the beach, with you and Shampoo and Ucchan and Amiko!" Ranma fidgeted in her seat, becoming more nervous as time passed.

"Ranma, there's nothing wrong with having fun with your friends. I mean, come on, you've never complained about having fun as a girl before!" Akane smiled, hoping to cheer Ranma up.

"No!" Ranma stood up quickly, "No, Akane! It _is_ wrong! I mean, in my _own_ head for the past four hours I've been thinkin' as if I was a girl! I I-I-," Ranma stuttered, she wasn't sure what to say.

"Ranma, come on. We're you're _friends_, does it matter so much if you're a girl at the beach? Ranma, I like it when you laugh... you don't do it often!" Ranma looked over at Akane, her own worry fell away a bit.

"You... what?" Ranma didn't know what she meant.

"Ranma, if you have to be a girl to enjoy yourself today, then be a girl. I-" Akane cut herself off before she could say more, say those words she had whispered to herself in her room so many nights. Ranma thought she had been about to say something important, and was a bit disturbed that Akane could suggest such an idea.

"Ranma, be happy, okay? Just for me, just for today...before you realized how you were acting, you were more happy than I'd ever seen you before, I like that. It makes _me_ feel good to see you having fun. Instead of being fiancee's for today, couldn't we just be friends? I mean, friends like how we could have been had you _really_ been a girl?" Akane paused, unsure if she should have said those last words.

Ranma paused, her fear escaping her. She recalled a conversation in the middle of the night she had had with Akane, such an important conversation.

That first day at the Tendo house, when the girl-Ranma had walked in... afraid that they would see the truth, afraid they would hate her forever, she had felt a strong warmth when the youngest Tendo girl asked to be friends.

That warmth had grown for the hours following, until it was violently shattered by an open bathroom door. Ranma couldn't tell Akane, but she had felt just as hurt and betrayed when their friendship had been ripped from them. There had always been a sense of disconnection between Akane and him, no matter how much their love grew... there had just been something missing when it started.

Friendship.

Akane looked at Ranma's face as several strong emotions flashed over her features, Fear, joy, anger, confusion, revelation.

Ranma looked down at her female body. It seemed like ages ago that she had fallen into the pool, and this body... what really scared her... was the fact that after six months...

It no longer felt alien. It felt like he did. When he was a she, it made no difference anymore. Had he lost the fight?

*No.* He chided himself. _She_ wondered if there had ever been a fight to begin with, then realized there had been. Ranma was still fighting the battle he had started that fateful day.

She continued staring at her body, the curve of hips, breasts, legs. The soft feeling all over her body, the red hair bound behind her head.

*Not so alien after all. Has she _always_ been a part of me? This red haired girl? Or maybe I've always been a part of her? Both?*

Akane kept staring, becoming a bit impatient waiting for an answer. She saw Ranma reach back and tug at the pigtail, and watched as Ranma's fingers gently pulled at the Dragon's Whisker.

Ranma's hair unravelled and fell to her mid-back. Akane had realized Ranma had let it grow longer when he had brushed it that morning, but didn't realize how long it had been. She gasped when all traces of the man disappeared.

"Yeah, Akane. I'll be your friend for today. Thanks," Ranma smiled a bit, the sparkle returning to her eyes.

She sat back down on the towel and stretched out. Akane looked at Ranma curiously, and Ranma noticed. Her purt lips turned up in a coy smile.

Akane was flabbergasted, the only thing she could liken to Ranma about the girl in front of her was the eyes. The ever-constant soft blue eyes which denoted Ranma and Ranma-chan as the same.

Akane sat up and looked Ranma over, starting with her delicately small feet, travelling up her long and slender legs, over her abdomen and breasts, back up to her face.

There was no man anywhere but in those eyes. Yet, Akane also noticed that her eyes were different, not in color, but in the soul.

Had Ranma somehow changed along the way? How? Why? When? Ever since the last time they had called off the engagement, he has steadily become... more comfortable?

Akane recalls that more often than not Ranma had been falling asleep as a girl for the past two weeks. More and more often it seemed like he didn't care, couldn't care about his curse.

He had started acting like everyone else. Shampoo, Genma, Mousse. They all acted like the curse wasn't a crucial flaw in their lives, just another problem they had to deal with.

Maybe Ranma had finally... Accepted his fate? *No, Ranma wouldn't do something like that.* Yet, she looked at the beautiful girl beside her, basking in the sun. Those blue eyes stared back at her with a silent understanding. Akane felt a twinge of jealousy as she compared her athletic figure with Ranma's devilishly feminine contours. *All right, _more_ than a twinge*... And the worst part of it was that Ranma wore no artificial enhancements... not a touch of makeup.

Her face seemed to be the very model of feminine contour and beauty... without the 'applications' that most girls had to endure.

"Ranma, with that bod of yours you can really make a girl jealous. Or swoon. Or both!" Akane laughed and Ranma joined in.

Ranma sighed after they were done. She knew what Akane had been asking herself. The same question she had been asking since she had fought Mousse.

Was this curse _really_ that bad? There was still a large part of her that argued yes, but that also spoke in volumes. Before two weeks ago, her _entire_ _being_ had thwarted any mental pictures of _being_ a girl. Now her mind sometimes became confused. When she thought of who Ranma was, it would be random. Either a male picture of Ranma fighting, or a female picture of Ranma fighting, or a picture of both side by side, the male half with an arm wrapped lovingly around the female.

Who was Ranma? Even Ranma didn't know.

She sighed again as they both relaxed in the sun.

Suddenly something zoomed across her breasts, and she felt the cool air brushing across now naked flesh.

"AAAAHHH!!" She threw an arm in front of her chest to hide her topless form. Akane shreaked a moment later.

Several other shreaks followed, and a mental picture of a wrinkled old martial artist formed in everyones minds as they began chasing Happosai.

"TEE-HEE! Oh, Ranma! What a wonderful day, to gift me with your Bikini top! HAHAHAHA!" Ranma began chasing the perverted old man, her breasts bobbing painfully as she ran.

"Come back here with top or I kill, pervert!" Shampoo was chasing after Happosai along with all the rest of the women on the beach, arm flung across her naked heaving bosom.

"HAHAHAHA! The superior skills of Happosai have struck again! What a haul!!!" Something silhouetted the sun and landed in front of the old man. Happosai looked up, astonished that he could be surprised. The girl had short-cropped brownish-red hair, and was wearing a tight one-piece bathing suit the color of winter snow and midnight.

"You missed me, Happosai!" Amiko stood, unscathed by the lecherous hands of the aged martial artist. Happosai blinked as he looked at the furious red battle-aura the girl was emitting. He should have _felt_ that!

"Eh? Who're you?" Happosai had almost ran into the girl, having no pre sense that she was even there.

"A friend of Ranma's, KIYA!" A Bo appeared out of no-where and Amiko twirled it furiously before she brought it around to connect with Happosai, sending him flying back into the mob.

The lech was beaten and bruised when he pulled himself out of the angry swarm of girls, and quickly hopped away in fear.

"Pervert," Akane chimed

"Lech," Shampoo mumbled

"Dirty Old Man," Ukyou muttered.

"Sicko," Ranma yelled.

The girls were walking back to their towels. Ranma had a bit of trouble putting her top back on, but finally managed. She began following the rest back to her sunny resting place.

"Ah, such a feminine blossom of womanhood I have ne'er seen. And yet, the soft rose has it's brute thorns, such is the strength wielded by the fire-haired venus before me!" Kuno recited.

Ranma groaned as she turned to look at the Kendoist. He was _supposedly_ working at the nearby docks to repair Binsense to proper working order. Ranma didn't _know_ why he was at the beach, but she steeled herself to send him skyward as she turned around.

A concerned expression was written on Kuno's face, "Yet, fair Tendo Akane hast told me of an unrelinquishable curse... that... that... that... Pardon, I stutter," Kuno looked around nervously, and Ranma felt a bit of fear rise in her stomach, as well as sadness.

"What I... Am meaning.... Is that, Fair Akane hath told me... and I must know... Are you both one in the same?" Kuno's voice seemed meak in comparison to his usual loud tirading yells.

"Uh... Kuno... Hehehe.... She... She... Told you... about...." Ranma paused, noticing Kuno hanging on her every word. She normally would have taken this opportunity to crush his aspirations, and insult him to boot.

But Ranma felt... sorry for Kuno. She hated to admit it, but she had always felt a little sorry for the man. He had imposed obliviation upon himself unlike anyone she had ever seen before. Even Kasumi wasn't as dense as Kuno.

"...yes...," Ranma's voice was hardly more than a whisper as she saw her friends features become distant, sullen, sad.

"I have been a fool, to pardon my actions I beg forgiveness... You must realize that t'were it not... that you... I am ashamed I never once realized it was you, Ranma. Forgive my insolence," Kuno turned away, more ashamed than angry at being tricked. Ranma felt bad... she should have been the one to tell him the truth.

But... he never _listened_ to her! That was the problem... she could stand just Kuno, his poetry wasn't _terrible_, it was just that he was so _dense_ sometimes.

"Hey... Kuno!" Ranma yelled, as she ran up to the Kendoist.

"Yes, my Pig-T-... Ranma?" Kuno scowled when he almost refferred to Ranma as a girl. *It's hard not to, Tachi... just look at him!* Kuno ignored the voice.

"Look... ahh.... I'm sorry 'bout all this. I mean, you must be pretty grossed out and angry that you were chasin' after a guy... hehehehe!" Ranma laughed nervously.

Kuno thought for a moment, then responded truthfullly. Whether it was truly what Kuno felt, the Kendoist didn't know... but it was a truth needed to be spoken.

"No. I am not repulsed by your malicious deed in keeping me in the dark. Nor am I repulsed now... I still have trouble, Ranma... seeing you as a man. True, tis' not so hard when form fits shape, but when shape fits not form? You are still beautiful to me, Ranma Saotome. But I realize our relationship would go nowhere, as your form of shape truly is that of a man, and I am also that which you believe you are. If I were to pursue this venture ever further, you would liken to be repulsed yourself, so I twould end it in honesty. When I view you thusly, Ranma..." Kuno paused. Ranma had listened to his words, disturbed, disgusted, and sometimes regretfull when she saw that broken look from Kuno.

Kuno took several steps away, then threw something back at Ranma. Ranma caught it effortlessly.

"You are Beautiful, Ranma. You might not know it.... but you are. Gomen Nasai, Ranma-Sempai," Kuno trudged down the beach back to the docks.

Ranma twirled the rose in her hand as she looked at it. What had he meant? Had he come over here purposely to talk to her? His last words echoed in her ears... he had even referred to Ranma as a better.

She sniffed the rose unconciously, not realizing the odd action she was taking as she walked back to her towel.

She had much to consider.