Note:This is a completed chapter, but it has not been looked over by a pre-reader. So any mistakes are mine and mine alone.
This is one of my "anti-writer's" block stories that I dabble in when I get stuck on my main project and therefore will be updated less frequently. Unlike my other anti-writer's block stories, this one has a outline for it - yes, it's on a napkin. I've been working off and on on this since mid-November '04.
I'm just throwing this out there to satisfy the curiosity of a few of my reader's.
Just don't take this too seriously folks!
Another note: In answer to a few inquiries about Final Approach. Final Approach is a anime where the government tries to head off the nation crisis of declining birth rates in Japan by arranging marriages on the national level.(This, by-the-way an actual crisis in Japan.) I altered a few things from the anime like refusal to participate in the project could lead to jail time. That just didn't sit well with me, so I changed it to make it voluntary.
Any constructive criticism is welcomed and appreciated.
The title is still just a working title, unless I can't think of anything better.
Boldly going where others had gone before and meekly going where few have been.
- - - - -
- - - - -
Final Approach Ranma
A Ranma/Futaba-kun Change crossover/fusion/whatever with a touch of Final Approach thrown in.
- - - - --
The weather was unseasonably warm and the humidity hung in the still air as Kasumi took up her broom and headed out to the front walk to cleanup the remains of yesterdays training session. The other day Mr. Saotome and Ranma, with the help of her father and Happosai were very serious about mastering some obscure fighting style that Kasumi couldn't fathom. The training went well until Happosai suddenly decided in the middle of instructing his heir, that rescuing his 'silky darlings' was more important. Ranma, of course, had to try and stop him.
It got messy from there on out.
Sweeping the walk was usually her fathers chore, but Mr. Saotome was still recovering from yesterdays ordeal and Mr. Tendo was keeping him company. Which usually meant that the two were busy cheating at Go and drinking Sake again. Ranma was cleaning up the back yard while Mrs. Saotome was cleaning the dojo. Kasumi was grateful that Ranma and Mrs. Saotome did most of the cleaning and repairing of the damages, leaving her with most of the light work. With this one last task, all would be set right after the pervious days 'training'.
She brushed her hair away from her eyes and took in the clouds that passed slowly overhead. In spite of the warmth, Kasumi still thought it a lovely day to be outdoors.
She resumed sweeping the walkway that led to the entrance of the Tendo Dojo when her task was interrupted by two dark suited men. Along with the dark suits, both also wore matching hats, dark sunglasses and were wearing very serious and stern looking expressions upon their faces. Both would look like twins if it wasn't for the fact one as slightly shorter and more overweight than the other.
"May I help you?" the young woman ventured to the two unexpected guests.
"Is this the residence of one Ranma Saotome?" the taller of the two asked.
"Why yes. He is inside with his parents. Is there anything wrong?" Kasumi asked with a hint of worry. When someone sought out the younger Saotome, it usually meant a challenger or a new, forgotten fiancee. Either way, it usually meant trouble.
"Not really ma'am," the shorter one answered. "It's just that we need to speak with him and his parents."
The taller one then reached into his suit pocket and extracted a leather wallet and flipped in open.
"We represent the Japanese government and we are here on official business," he stated smartly.
"Oh my," Kasumi said as she quickly studied the badge and identification that was attached to the leather of the flipped opened wallet and sized up the two agents.
She eventually nodded in consent.
"Would you both please follow me?" she asked politely.
Both dark suited men follow the elder Tendo girl into the house and switched into the house shoes at the entrance. They may be agents of the government, but they wanted to make a good impression.
After setting her broom aside, Kasumi led the duo into the living room. There, both men took in their new surroundings. The room opened up to show the back yard that sported a pond with a cherry tree next to it. The room itself had a television in one corner and a low laying dinner table in the center. Around the table an assortment of people were crowded about it.
The most noticeable person was a middle age women with auburn hair dressed in a kimono. What made her stand out above the others in the room was the long, wrapped bundle was leaning upright against her that she careful stroked absently with a slender hand. She was in the mist of addressing a pigtailed boy seated across from her. The boy in his teens was dressed in a red Chinese style shirt and black pants and was listening intently to what the older woman was saying. Next to the boy sat a girl, about the same age with short, blackish-blue hair that had a slightly annoyed look on her face. In her lap was a small, black animal with a spotted bandanna tied around its neck.
Behind the teens were two men, one thin, mustached man wearing a brown gi and other, bulkier in a white gi and glasses. They were apparently engaged in an intense game of Go. With just a glance it was obvious to the government men that the two were cheating heavily.
The last person in the room was another teen. She had short, dark hair and was wearing short-shorts. She was busy watching the television with a bored expression on her face.
Kasumi cleared her throat, earning everyone's attention.
"Excuse me, Ranma, Mr. and Mrs. Saotome," she announced. "These men are representatives of the government. They would like to talk with you."
The pigtailed boy looked up from the discussion he was having with his mother. "Ah... sure Kasumi," he said warily. "What can I do for you?"
"Hello Ranma," said the taller of the two. "My name is Kuroi and this is Howaido. On the behalf of the Japanese government, we have come to ask you for help in a project."
- - - - -
After brief introductions, the men were seated and served tea. The thin man, whose name was Mr. Kuroi, accepted the tea graciously while the portly one, Mr. Howaido politely declined and accepted a glass of ice water instead.
After a few more minor formalities the thin man, Mr. Kuroi, address Ranma again. "As I said earlier we, that is the government, would like your cooperation in a project that could solve a large problem that is facing our country."
"Oh my," Kasumi said. "Is it that serious?"
The portly Mr. Howaido spoke up, just lowering his glass from a sip. "Yes," he spoke gravely. "The very future of Japan may be hanging in the balance."
"And my manly son can help?" a proud Nodoka asked.
The government men looked at each other and then eyed Nodoka.
"Well, yes," Mr. Kuroi said as he shifted at his spot at the table. "We would like Ranma to be part of a pilot project... a study to test the feasibility of the project."
"Project? What project?" Nabiki asked, curious as to what was happening.
Before either of the government men could answer, Ranma spoke in a low voice that betrayed his suspicions. "I don't know..."
Ranma was beginning to have a bad feeling about this. The same feeling he had just before his father trained him in "this wonderful technique" that turned out to be the 'Cat Fist'.
"Ranma, it wouldn't be very manly to turn your back on a request from the government," Nodoka admonished with a slight look of disappointment at her son's hesitation.
"That's right, boy!" Genma said loudly, jumping at any chance to berate his offspring. "Be a man and accept your responsibility."
"Shaddup pops," Ranma shot back. "You wouldn't know nothin' about responsibility if it bit you in the-"
"Ranma! Language!" Nodoka said sternly. "We have guests of the government here and it would not do to display disharmony in front of them."
She then bowed to both men.
"I apologize for my son's behavior. He was raised by his father -" a glare was thrown at said individual, " - most of his life. I'm afraid I haven't quite removed all of his bad traits yet." The last said directed toward the pigtailed martial artist in a very, very frosty way.
Ranma gulped, sweated slightly and hoped that his mother wouldn't start another bout of 'gentleman's training' again.
"Perhaps," Kasumi ventured in hoping to preserve the harmony of the household, "we should find out more about what our government needs of Ranma, before making any kind of decisions."
Nodoka looked at the eldest Tendo girl with eyes of steel. Which was a difficult feat, since this was Kasumi.
"My son will come to the aid of Japan, no matter what is needed," she said firmly. "A real man would not hesitate and be proud to aid of his country in any way possible in it's moment of need."
"Thank you Mrs. Saotome," the tall thinner of the men said while bowing from his seated position. "Now if will permit me, I'll explain the reasons why we are here."
With a raised hand and a snap of his fingers, dozens of like-dressed men rushed into the room and quickly set up a large screen TV and VCR. Just as quickly they were gone, leaving the dojo's residences stunned by the whirlwind of activity.
"Now," said the thin one while tapping the play button. "This is the situation."
The screen came to life displaying different scenes of daily life: towering buildings, a walk/no walk signal and a pedestrian filled crosswalk. Ranma was so engrossed in the imagery before the narration seeped into his brain.
"... our country is headed for doom due to the lack of childbirth's?"
The scene of for a arid environment and a dead forest filled the screen just as the thin man in black reached over and fast forwarded the tape."Sorry, it's kinda long," Mr. Kuroi said apologetically. "Let's get to the heart of the matter."
The shorter of the two nodded, "Last time we get Shatner to direct."
The images moved swiftly in a humorously fast way until the initials R.T.P. dominated the screen. Mr. Kuroi then released the fast foreword button at this point and the narration resumed.
"... the government has established the R.T.P. committee, to produce a plan to arrange marriages on the national level."
Ranma's bad feeling returned in full force. The alarm bells in his head were going off so strong that he almost felt nauseous. This always happened when the words 'arranged' and 'marriage' were placed too close together. Usually all it took for the alarms to go off were those two words being used in the same conversation or paragraph, much less right next to each other. Ranma swallowed dryly as he struggled to find his center.
"The committee," the voice over continued. "Picks from a select pool of unmarried people within a 'prime' age range and arranges them to met and hopefully marry the person selected for them."
"Is this like computer dating?" Nabiki asked as she absorbed the information.
"Yes in a sense," the thin Mr. Kuroi answered. "Except that this is at a more scientific level than the common run-of-the-mill dating service. The computer calculates at least three million variables before it selects the paired candidates."
"Impossible!" Mr. Tendo proclaimed loudly, seeing where this was going. "Ranma is promised to marry Akane. It was arranged before they were born."
"I'm not marrying Ranma!" Akane objected, but inwardly was just as alarmed about losing Ranma. The animal in her arms, however 'bweed' in agreement with Akane's vocal proclamation.
"It is a matter of honor that Ranma marry Akane to join the schools," Genma proclaimed as he rose from his seat and posed dramatically, with fist over his chest, before reaffirming, "It is a matter of family honor!"
Silence fell in the room.
"Does family honor come before the needs of your country?" Mr. Kuroi asked pointedly. "We realize what we ask is... inconvenient, but in this time of crisis the government would appreciate your sacrifice."
The two father's eyes widened at that.
"And the committee would be willing compensate for any lost honor on behalf of the families involved," the portly Mr. Howaido added.
"I'm sorry, but-," Genma began before being cut off by Nodoka.
"Dearest, our country is asking us for help, for Ranma's help," she said in a no-nonsense way. "It would be dishonorable to turn away our country in its moment of need."
Silence fell among those at the table once again.
"Please continue," she said. "I would like to know what is expected of my manly son."
"Thank you Mrs. Saotome," Mr. Kuroi said before turning his attention to pigtail boy. "Ranma, we have used the best super computers in the Japan to pick the best fit to be your spouse. We used your interests, hobbies, education and personality to factor in what would be the most compatible match for you."
Everyone stared dumbly at the representative of the government.
"By doing so," he continued, "Japan hopes that you and your potential spouse will met, fall in love, get engage and then marry with the hopes that the union will produce at least six children to help elevate the crisis of the declining birthrates."
"Oh my!" Nodoka thought gleefully, not hiding the smile that grew on her face. "Grandchildren!"
"What about all the other suitors Ranma has?" questioned Nabiki. "How do they stand on this?"
"The Emperor himself realizes the awkwardness of the situation and recognizes the sacrifice that your son would be making," Mr. Howaido said. "But rest assured that this is for the greater good of all of Japan. Because of that, the Emperor as personally handle your child's - entanglements."
"The Emperor himself knows about this?" Nodoka said incredulously. "Are you quite certain?"
"Yes," the portly man replied while extracting something from his coat pocket. "Here is a letter of explanation from his majesty himself."
Nodoka reached over and took the neatly folded paper and opened it, breaking the elaborate seal that was affixed to it.
"Oh my...," was her only comment as she read it.
"M- mom?" Ranma asked, the bad feeling he had been having increasing ten-fold.
"This is a notice that the Emperor of Japan has just dissolved all Ranma's engagements," Nodoka said as she explained the contents. "He also states that all the engagements are dissolved whether you agree to participate in the experiment or not. The last paragraph the Emperor formally asks you to participate."
"No more...," Ranma's voice trailed off. "All the engagements? What about Shampoo and the ol' ghoul?"
Nodoka placed the embossed paper carefully on the table top. "It doesn't say."
"Rest assure that we will take care of that," the thin government man stated. "So, will you be a part of this experiment? You only have to try it for three months."
"I don't know...," Ranma said while tugging the base of his pigtail nervously.
"Ranma, it is only for three months," Nodoka pointed out. "It's not like you have to marry the girl." She then added as a thought,"And if it works out like the government hopes, grandchildren!"
"Umm...," Ranma ventured, getting nervous about his mothers smile. "Let me get this straight, you want me to meet some girl - a stranger - hope to fall in love with her, marry her and have six kids with her and save Japan?"
Akane was stunned speechless by this turn of events, Nabiki was turning over a ways to make a profit out of this, and Kasumi was wearing her ever serene smile. Genma and Soun looked on with horror as their dreams go up in smoke and Nodoka was smiling in a way that made Ranma more nervous by the minute. He was well aquatinted with his mother's 'manly man' smile enough times to know it was bad news.
"Not exactly," Mr. Howaido answered.
Seven people blink-blinked at the government men in black.
"What do you mean 'not exactly'," Nabiki drawled. "It's pretty clear what you meant."
The portly man cleared his throat and shifted into a more comfortable position.
"I mean," he said while picking his glass of water and splashing Ranma, turning him into a her. "It's not a girl you've been paired up with."
- - - - -
The silence that permeated the room was devastating. It was the proverbial calm before the storm.
"WHAT!" typhoon Ranma roared, blowing the hats off and the hair back of the men seated in front of her. "You want me to marry a guy! Are you insane!"
"I assure you that we are not insane," the thin man answered evenly as he glared at the boy turned girl through his dark sunglasses. He leaned forward toward Ranma and added firmly, "We are the government. We know what we are doing."
"I can't marry a guy!" Ranma shouted. "I'M A GUY!"
The portly man looked at Ranma over his dark sunglasses, reached over and groped one of Ranma's breasts that was showing clearly through the wet shirt. Ranma reacted by swatting the offending hand away and giving a icy glare at the offender.
"Yes," the man said dryly in mock agreement while readjusting his glasses. "I can see that you're all man."
Ranma was in the midst of deciding between a sharp retort or a fist in the face when Nodoka interrupted her thoughts.
"I'm I to understand," she asked in a very innocent way, almost like Kasumi would. "That the government expects my manly son to marry another man and produce at least six children from the arrangement?"
"Yes ma'am," the thin one replied.
"And the Emperor knows about this?"
"Yes ma'am," the portly one replied. "He understand the sacrifice that he is asking for the greater good of society."
Everyone was silent as they watched the wheels turn in Nodoka's head.
"Ranma, I'm afraid that I will insist that you go along with this," Nodoka said abruptly. "We cannot ignore a direct request of his majesty."
The silence resumed as Ranma digested what his mother said.
"MOM!" Ranma objected. "It was just a request! I don't have to if I don't want to."
"Ranma," Nodoka said sternly. "The request came from the crown itself. You will not dishonor this family by ignoring it."
"MOM!" Ranma objected again. "I'm a guy! What happened to me being a 'man among men'?"
Ranma's mother pondered that for a moment - a very long moment, before answering.
"You will still be a man among men," she answered firmly while stroking her katana. "You'll just have to be a women to prove it."
Everyone, even the government men, gapped at her.
- - - - -
"You want me to be a girl!" Ranma shrieked in outrage at his, well her, mother.
They were upstairs in the room that Ranma normally shared with his father. Nodoka felt is was important to separate Ranma from the representatives of the government for awhile. Especially after Ranma came close to strangling one.
"Yes dear," she answered cheerfully before her voice turned into one of steel. "And don't take that tone with me. You'll do as your duty as your country requires you to and do so honorably."
Ranma stared at her mother and was about to make another comment before Nodoka interrupted her. "Or," she said while stroking her katana, "you don't think you're manly enough for the task."
Ranma remained silent for a moment while counting to ten.
"But mom," Ranma explained slowly, but carefully, "they want me to be with a guy. They're hoping that I'll fall in love with him and marry him. I'm a guy. Two guys can't get married. Two guys can't have kids."
"You have the capability of being a women. Dr. Aro confirmed on your last physical that your female half is a fully functioning, healthy girl." Ranma shuddered at the memory for her last gynecological visit.
"This means that if you're needed to, you can be a woman and you will," Nodoka finished patiently and firmly.
Ranma snorted at that, earning a glare from his mother that she involuntarily shrank back from.
"Your country needs you," Nodoka said firmly. "The request came from the crown itself. Even though it was not an order, you'll not dishonor this family by refusing. If it works out that you have to be a girl and marry a man, then that's what you will do."
She stroked her katana absently again, forestalling any protests before adding, "It is the manly thing to do."
Ranma looked at the stern look in his mothers eyes and knew any argument would be fruitless,...
... but ritual suicide was looking good right now.
- - - - -
Upon returning downstairs, Ranma was made to apologize to the tall, thin government man that he over-tightened the tie on and took her seat.
"Now," Mr. Kuroi's voice squeaked highly. He paused and cleared his throat and began again. "Now, as I was repeating what was said before being interrupted..."
Nodoka glared at her offspring. Ranma shrank back from the stare
"... this is a pilot project, a field test. We would like you to met and live with your potential mate for a period of at least three months. After that, they can decide if they wish to marry or not. If they haven't decided or unsure at the end of three months, then you could ask for an extension."
"This is a field test?" Nabiki asked. "Why is that?"
"Since we are depending on a computer to do the match-ups," the man continued to explain. "We - that is the government - fear that the general public wouldn't accept this plan unless we had some hard data to back up the program."
"So this is a test to see how successful the match ups are?" Nodoka asked.
The portly of the two nodded. "Yes, whether they decide not to marry or not, their obligations to the project and their country would be considered fulfilled."
Silence surrounded the table.
"So if it doesn't work out, I don't have to marry him?" Ranma asked in a voice full of hope.
"Yes," Mr. Howaido answered. "For this trail though, you will be asked to stay female for the entire time."
"Does he know about the curse?" Kasumi asked. "It seems that if you what this to work, he would have to be informed of Ranma's - condition."
"He has been told that Ranma has an unusual condition, but has not been told anything specific about... her," earning a flinch from Ranma. "According to the tests given, he would appear to be unfazed by the curse."
"You mean there someone that's a bigger pervert than Ranma?" Akane abruptly asked, thus earning some glares from Kasumi and Nodoka. Akane immediately flushed, shrunk back and looked away. The animal in her lap though nodded in agreement to her statement.
"Wait a minute. How did you know about the curses?" Nabiki asked.
"We're the government - we know everything," the thin man answered smartly. "We know all about the cursed springs and keep a list of all affected persons on file. Ranma Saotome, Genma Saotome, Mu Tsu, Xian pu, Ryo-"
"That's really interesting!" Ranma blurted out, interrupting the thin man. "But do you know if there is a cure?" Ranma added excitedly, hoping for the best.
Mr. Howaido shook his head slowly.
"I'm sorry," he said. "The curses are permanent and there is no known cure. Even jumping into the spring of the Drown Man would not cure you. All it would do is combine the curses."
Ranma deflated visibly at the knowledge.
"No cure...," she whispered dejectedly. Then she shuddered at the realization of what would've happen if she had managed to have gotten hold of Drowned Man water.
"So," Nabiki asked incredulously, "you found someone who tested that they wouldn't mind the curse and would be willing to go through with this?"
"Yes," Mr. Kuroi nodded. "He was betrothed in a arranged marriage also, but his family agreed that family honor must take a backseat to the good of the country." The thin man paused to take a sip of his tea before continuing.
"His family has impressed upon him the duty of the individual owes to the greater good of Japan and he has agreed to go along with it for the trail period."
"What's his name? Is it anyone we know?" Akane asked, while thinking, "He has to be the biggest pervert in the world for going along with this!" The small piglet in her lap was too busy laughing out little pig squeals to pay much attention to the conversation.
The portly government man extracted a folded sheet of paper from his jacket and read from it.
"His name is Futaba Shimeru, age sixteen," he said while handing the paper to Nodoka. "This has the basic information about him. We thank you in cooperating in this experiment and Futaba and his family will be expecting you on the date and time indicated."
- - - - -
"Ranma I need to speak with you," his mother said serious tone as she rose from her place around the table. The government men had left, taking their large screen TV with them - much to Nabiki's annoyance.
Ranma nodded and followed her mother into the dojo.
"Yes mom?" she warily asked.
"I know you don't like what's going on and probably are thinking of ways to sabotage this very important project," she said sternly before softening. "I understand. If I was in your place, I would be thinking the same thing."
"Then why won't you help me get out of this?" Ranma complained. "If you and pop's put up enough of a fight, they would've drop it and I wouldn't be having to do this."
"I know that dear. But as I said, I may be thinking of a way out if I was you, but I wouldn't refuse to participate," Nodoka explained.
"Huh? Why?" Ranma asked.
"Honor," her mother answered. "Japan is in trouble because of the low birthrates and they come to us for help. It is every citizens duty to answer the call for the benefit of the whole. Honor demands that you put your needs behind that of the greater good."
Ranma stared out into the yard through the open door at the kio pond and the nearby tree, watching the leaves move in the wind.
"So, you want me to be a girl?" he asked somewhat bitterly.
"No of course not. I want you to do your best," Nodoka said. "You will do your best. A real man wouldn't settle for anything less."
"But mom, you're asking the impossible," Ranma tried to explain. "I may turn into a girl, but that doesn't mean I am a girl."
"I understand that, dear. That is why I'm going to help you."
Ranma heart soared at that proclamation.
"You're going to call the RTF committee and get me out of this?" she asked happily.
"No dear. You see, your father spent ten years making you a man among men. And in spite of himself, he succeeded," she replied with some pride in her voice. "I will help you by spending the next week teaching you a bit on being a woman among women."
"MOM!" Ranma cried. "I'm a guy!"
"And you will learn to be a women," Nodoka said sternly. "You don't meet the boy until next week, so that gives us time to work on you."
Ranma gapped at her mother.
"This is getting me back for all the times I was pretending to be Ranko, isn't it?" she asked, folding her arms across her chest.
"No Ranma, that has nothing to do with this."
"Then what does it have to do with?" Ranma asked exasperated. "I can't see you going along and making me go along with this."
"Haven't you understood a single thing I've said? Ranma it is a duty, a duty that has fallen on your shoulders," Nodoka said with a hint of exasperation. "Do you remember what you told me about a martial artist duty?"
"Would you have laid down your life to protect the life of an innocent person from death?"
"Would you," Nodoka pressed, "sacrifice your life to protect one, tens or hundreds of people you didn't know, just so that they may live?"
Ranma nodded again in response.
Ranma looked on her mother as if she were from another planet. Then again given how she acted half the time, Ranma wouldn't have been surprised.
"Because it is my duty as a martial artist to protect the weak," Ranma answered evenly. "If it meant giving up my life to protect or save others, then that's what I'll do. That's the duty of a martial artist."
Nodoka beamed proudly at her son turned daughter and thought, "So manly."
"This is also a duty," Nodoka continued to drive the point home. "If duty means sacrificing your manhood and embracing being a women for the greater good of the whole of society - would you do it?"
Ranma stared at her mother. Ranma was beginning to feel that she was being trapped by her own honor. Nope, she was sure she was trapped.
"Okay mom," Ranma relented with a sigh. "I'll try. But if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out."
"That's all I'm asking," Nodoka beamed. "You only have to hold out for three months. Now let's start with your training."
"Wait. If I'm doing this... exper-, um... expat-, er, test, why bother with all the training in being a girl?"
"Because to do your best, you must be prepared," Nodoka answered. "Being prepared is manly."
Ranma sighed again and nodded in agreement. "What's first?" Ranma asked with dread.
"Shopping," Nodoka answered. "If you are required to be woman, you will start dressing appropriately."
"No dresses, okay?"
Nodoka glared at her offspring. "When I said dressed appropriately, I meant it," she firmly stated. "No daughter of mine will dress like a boy."
"Mom, I'm your son, not your daughter," Ranma protested.
"Ranma, we've been through all this. Be a man about this and be a women," Ranma's mother's eyes narrowed a bit. "Or you suggesting that you're not manly enough to be a women?"
"No! No, not at all," Ranma said quickly while backing up, making warding gestures with her hands.
"Good," Nodoka said firmly. "First, we need to get you into the appropriate undergarments and work from there."
Ranma blink-blinked at her. "I got my boxers," Ranma pointed out. "What's wrong with them? They work fine for me in both my forms."
"You need a bra, young lady - and panties," Nodoka said firmly before breaking into a mischievous smile. "I know just the perfect one's too!"
Ranma stared at her mother with one thought in mind: "You know, maybe ritual suicide isn't such a bad thing."
- - - - -
Ranma stared in horror at her reflection in the mirror and was glad as hell that Akane or anyone else she knew, for that matter, wasn't here to see this. Especially Nabiki. Ranma shuddered at what Nabiki would do if she saw her like this.
"The perfect one's," she thought bitterly. "How can these be the 'perfect one's'?"
Ranma looked at herself. She was wearing a set of matching bra and panties. The "perfect one's" as her mother put it.
The ''perfect one's"...
... were black...
... were tiny...
... were semitransparent...
... and very, very lacy.
And rode up something awful. Ranma didn't know it, but thongs did that.
The only consolation that Ranma could see at this point was that the bra did make her boobs easier to... um, carry.
"How can these be the perfect one's," she groused. "They're almost transparent and they'll get torn up in the first fight I get into. Why do girls go for this frilly crap anyways?"
"Oh you look so beautiful!" Nodoka gushed teasingly as Ranma cringed inwardly at the complement.
"I always wanted a daughter," Nodoka thought. "This could be a win-win situation. This might make Ranma appreciate Akane more and they might settle down after the test period is over with. If not, and this does work like the government hopes, that would also be fine. As long as I get grandchildren out of it."
"Mom, I'm a - aw, nevermind," Ranma sighed. "But why do I have to wear something this... this... this frilly? It's not like anyone is going to see me in it."
Her mother smiled in a way that made Ranma's blood run cold. "If this work out like our country hopes, someone will," she said to the younger redhead.
"Mom, I'm-" Ranma began, only to be cut off.
"Going to do your honorable duty for your country," Nodoka stated firmly before smiling and giving her offspring a hug. "Oh, Ranma! I can't tell you how manly you are for doing this!"
"Great," Ranma thought while awkwardly returning the hug. "I'm a girl right now, wearing a bra and panties - all for the good of Japan and being told I'm being manly for it by my mother. How much more screwed up can my life get?"
"Now," Nodoka said while pulling out of the hug. "On to the next shop."
"Ahh... which is?" Ranma asked.
"Why clothes, of course," Nodoka chirped as her smile broaden.
Ranma went slightly pale at the sight of her mother's smile.
"This is sooo bad," was Ranma's only thought.
- - - - -
Ranma and her mother headed back to the dojo with bags in hand. It had gone worst than Ranma could have imagine. Going clothes shopping with her mother was the most awkward, frustrating, and embarrassing time she'd ever had in her sixteen years of life. Well maybe not as frustrating as having two fiancees, an Amazon claiming to be his wife, a wannabe crazy fiancee, a friend that tries to kill him, a wannabe Samurai trying to date or kill him... okay, not the most frustrating in her sixteen years, but it did rate up there.
When Nodoka said "clothes" Ranma thought of kimonos, like what her mother wore all the time, were going to be the rule of the day.
She couldn't be more wrong.
"Kimonos? Nonsense," Ranma's mother had said at the mall. "A girl your age needs to make an impression that no one will forget."
"No one will forget alright," Ranma groused to herself as they neared the gates to the dojo. "It wouldn't be so bad if mom didn't force me to wear this home. Damned high heels."
For Ranma, the clothes were as bad as getting her hair done.
"Oh man," Ranma groused. "I'm gonna miss my pigtail."
Ranma's mother held the door open for the dojo since Ranma was carrying the lion's share of the shopping bags. Once inside both women set their burdens down and shucked their shoes. Kasumi stepped into the hallway from the kitchen as the pair were making their way deeper into the dojo.
"Oh, hello Mrs. Saotome, Ra- RANMA is that you!"
"Yeah it's me." Ranma answered forlornly.
"Oh My! Let me have a look at you," Kasumi said excitedly as she appraised the younger girl. "You look wonderful! That skirt is rather daring and it shows off your legs so nicely."
Indeed it did. Ranma was wearing a short black skirt, so short that the hem only came down about four inches from her crotch. On her legs, Ranma wore panty hose. 'Nude' was the colors description on the package, but what really made Ranma uncomfortable was that her mother refused to let her wear anything under it.
"It's call pantyhose for a reason," Nodoka had declared back at the store, much to Ranma's agitation.
Ranma also wore a black, sleeveless shirt that was tailored to show off her bust line that sported a cut that exposed a 'daring' amount of cleavage that Ranma ignored at first. Until she noticed that a lot of the sale's men were talking to her chest and not at her - then she got irritated. Around her neck she had a thin, black choker with a silver inlay with matching earrings, clip ons - thank goodness, that peeked out of her red locks.
Ranma's hair was trimmed and done up so that her red bangs framed her face and the rest cascaded down onto her shoulders freely. On her face, she had some light blush and eye-shadow that accentuated Ranma's natural blue eyes.
Ranma was a vision of beauty.
"Oh Ranma, you look so stunning!" Kasumi excitedly said. "Let's go show the others. Everybody is here."
"Um... No, I rather no-" Ranma began.
"Ranma, dear," Nodoka spoke with a smile. "You have nothing to be embarrassed about. Lets go see what the other's think."
Ranma, being towed by her mother and Kasumi, headed for the living room where the Saotome patriarch, the Tendo's and the rest of guests were.
"Everybody," Nodoka announced as she entered the room. "What do you think?" She asked with a wave of her hand toward the just entering Ranma.
Eyes got big. Very big.
"Oh my's," were chorused around by the other girls in the room.
Mr. Tendo started bawling sending streams of water out both sides of his head and Genma, having for once missed being cried on and turning into a panda, fell over onto his back with Go piece in hand. Ryoga was currently human at the moment, opened his mouth to say something smart and teasing, ended up having to grab his nose instead when he saw Ranma.
Shampoo got all bugged eyed and let out something softly in chinese. Mousse was staring, slacked jawed at a potted plant in the corner. Cologne gave Ranma the once over and started giggling in a very creepy way. Ukyo just stared at Ranma, frozen like a statue.
"Um... hi guys," Ranma ventured.
"Ranma!" Akane cried. "Why are you dressed that way? You really are a pervert to go along with this!"
"Now Akane, that wasn't very nice," Kasumi gently reprimanded with a slight frown. "Ranma looks very nice, don't you think?"
"And besides," Nodoka added in a voice the indicated that she was annoyed with Akane's outburst. "He is doing this for the good of all of us and our country, which includes you. Ranma is doing the honorable thing like any real man would."
Much face-faulting ensued except for Cologne, who was cackling away in delight.
Everyone was soon up and seated around the table. Ranma sat next to her mother with Akane seated on the other side. Across from Ranma, were Cologne, Genma and Ryoga. Ranma made the mistake of sitting cross legged. As short as her skirt was and with nothing but pantyhose underneath, Ryoga eyes bugged again and he immediately fell on this back with twin streams of blood erupting from his nose.
"Ranma!" Akane exploded. "Quit picking on Ryoga, you pervert!"
"I didn't do nothing'!" Ranma objected. "I can't help if P-chan here falls over for no reason."
"Ranma," Nodoka gently chided with a nudge. "Please sit as I told you to."
Ranma blink-blinked before realizing what was the matter. After helping Ryoga up and reseating herself this time in the proper 'womanly' way with her legs together, the discussion got on its way.
"What's this I hear about son-in-law being betrothed to another?" Cologne ask in a very amused way.
"How ja find out, ya old ghoul?" Ranma asked as she shot a look toward Nabiki.
"Ranma! Please do try to speak properly," Nodoka admonished. "Also it is not polite of address your elders or anyone for that matter like that. It's not lady like."
Ranma held her hand up to her forehead and massaged her temples with her fingers and thumb. Cologne cackled at Ranma's obvious discomfort.
"But I'm not- ," Ranma began to protest before sighing. "How," Ranma said politely, "did you find out, Elder Cologne?"
Cologne reacted by cackling even louder. "Oh son-in-law! This is too rich!" the old woman said between cackles. "When the men from the government came by and warned us not to interfere with a project you're involved with, we of course had to come here and find out what was going on."
"Rachan," Ukyo said quietly drawing everyone's attention. She was also wearing a lost look. "Is it true that all of the engagements are off?"
"Um... ah... er...," Ranma floundered around verbally.
"Yes, dear," Ranma's mother answered for her. "I'm sorry. All of the engagements, except for the one with Futaba, have been voided by the crown itself."
"But Ranma Shampoo husband!" Shampoo interjected. "He no marry, he already married!"
"Shampoo we been through all that," Cologne said somewhat sharply. "The government of Japan doesn't recognize our claim since the marriage was never consummated. Japan threatened to take the matter up with Beijing over this, so for the good of the tribe you will not pursue this." Then she added in Chinese, "For now."
"Yes great-grandmother," Shampoo said dejectedly, slumping while warding off the advances of Mousse.
Silence fell about the table as everyone digested that bit of news.
"What's 'consummated'?" Ranma piped up, confused.
Everyone, including the now fully conscious Ryoga blink-blinked at the redhead.
Nodoka cleared her throat.
"Well dear," she began carefully, "consummate is a polite term to use to describe what a husband and wife do - together."
"Oh, I see." Ranma said while nodding her head. "It's just another word for marriage then."
Akane was in the middle of taking a sip of tea at the time, did a spit take soaking Genma who was across from her turning him into a panda. Nabiki eyes got big before she rolled onto her back and started laughing, kicking her feet up in the air as did so. Kasumi watched over the scene with a serene smile plastered on her face. Ryoga gaffed while holding his nose and trying not to look at Ranma's cleavage. Ukyo just stared bug eyed at her now officially ex-fiancé.
"What's so funny?" Ranma asked in a clueless way.
Nodoka cleared her throat again in such a way that brought order back to the room.
"Ranma dear," Nodoka said in even tone. "It's a polite term for... how a married couple has... relations."
Ranma blink-blinked at her mother.
"Relations?" Ranma questioned. "Aren't married people related?"
Nodoka studied her child's face. "Surely she can't be this ignorant?" she asked herself. "No dear," she managed to say. "It's how a married couple has... intimacy."
Ranma blink-blinked again at her mother. "Huh?"
"Sex! She means sex! A pervert like you, of all people, should know that!" Akane exploded, exasperated at Ranma's ignorance.
"Oh yeah!" Ranma said with a nervous giggle. "Sex! Ha, ha! Of course. Ha, ha, ha! How silly of me."
Everyone around the table, including Ryoga, looked at Ranma through half lidded eyes.
"You didn't know, did you?" Nabiki probed.
Silence fell about the table.
"Ranma dear," Nodoka began with a hint of danger in her voice that didn't go unnoticed by a certain panda. "What do you know about sex?"
"Um...," Ranma fidgeted in her place. "It's... ah, something that happens to you when you... um, are married?"
"Yes dear, for the proper women," Nodoka agreed with a nod. "Now, do you understand what happens during sex?"
"Um... ah... no?" Ranma ventured.
Nodoka eyes widened before narrowing on the sweating panda sitting on the opposite side of the table. The chuckles around the table grew into a full blown laughter as everyone found mirth in Ranma's ignorance.
Everyone was laughing except four people: Kasumi who didn't think it was proper to make light of someone else's lack of knowledge (she did 'bust a gut' though, once she got to the privacy of her own room), Ranma who still hadn't gotten a clue, Genma who thought he was a dead man and Nodoka who was thinking the same thing as Genma.
"Genma dear," she said with a voice that promised great pain. "May I see you out in the dojo for a private chat?"
- - - - -
It was three days before Genma was able to hobble out of the guest room to show his face downstairs. Even then, Nodoka refused to acknowledge his presence. Genma was covered from head to toe with bandages after facing the wraith of his wife and looked the part of a mummy after being buried for a couple thousand years. He had carefully avoided water since tight bandages around his normal body were even tighter in his panda form. Nodoka, not giving him any sympathy, kept 'accidently' spilling cold liquids on her crippled husband.
Thus, insuring that he was kept in great discomfort.
Nodoka's punishment on Genma was so effective that it even impressed the Amazons. So much so that Cologne offered to make her and honorary Amazon - an offer that Nodoka was seriously considering.
Ranma was not fairing any better under her mother's 'training'. She was not wrapped in bandages like Genma was, but she was starting to feel that she would trade places with her father at the drop of the hat right now. Ranma had found herself cooking most the meals for 'bridal training' and Akane getting very indignant and angry about it. Akane voiced her opinion that this all had to be part of some perverted conspiracy to make her look bad.
"Jeez, Akane," Ranma had said while helping out in the kitchen. "Why would the government go to such lengths to make you look bad?"
"Because the government is run by a bunch of perverts!" Akane declared. "Why else would they be doing this?"
"I don't know," Ranma said sarcastically as she poured water on top of the rice, filling it to the proper line. "Maybe it has something to do with declining birth rates and some other stupid stuff."
Akane 'humpfed' at that and crossed her arms.
"Of course," Ranma continued as she turned on the rice cooker. "There doesn't need to be a conspiracy to make sexless tomboys look bad - they're naturally are."
Akane fumed and absentmindedly reached for her number 9 mallet, the Baka Basher, when she remembered that Kasumi had commandeered all of her mallets for the "harmony of the household". Lost as to how to respond without her mallet or any other blunt object, she had time to think for the first time in a long time. An evil glint came to her eye.
"Well, at least I know what sex is. Unlike someone I know," she said coyly.
"So what was the name of that movie that your mother rented and made you watch?" Akane asked. Then added in a very Nabiki-ish way, "Enquiring minds want to know."
Ranma eyes grew at the memory and she quickly turned away, washing her hands in the cool water from the sink.
"Itwasnothing!" Ranma blurted out, turning a deep shade of red.
"Well, I heard it was very educational," Akane taunted as she headed through the kitchen door. Akane's giggling was heard clearly as she walked up the stairs.
"Stupid tomboy," Ranma cursed to herself. "Havin' to remind me about that."
When Ranma's mother set up a TV/VCR combo in the guest room for Ranma several nights back, Ranma was confused why it was all such a big deal. Nodoka then roughly chided Ranma for her lack of knowledge, but excused and forgave her. Genma had explained (under great pain) that he "didn't want Ranma to have any distractions from the art during their training trip" and deemed certain 'facts of life' a distraction. Because Genma's confession, Nodoka had excused her offspring for her lack of knowledge, but stated quiet matter of factly that Ranma was going to get a crash course in sex education.
And did she ever.
During the presentation of 'The City Nights', Ranma's mother made running commentary on how manly the man was and how womanly the women was. The commentary didn't distract Ranma from what was happening on the screen. It's not that Ranma never saw naked people before, but she never saw naked people before doing what they were doing.
And doing it so many different ways.
And so many times.
Ranma found herself too stunned even to get a nose bleed.
Many days later, Ranma wasn't sure if she was enlightened, confused or some other emotion she wasn't sure about. Curiosity was definitely there as well as another feeling that quiet frankly scared the hell out of her.
Later that week, Ranma gave in to his curiosity and switched back and forth from male to female in the bathroom trying to grasp what was up to that moment in his life, a mystery. As different as Ranma's male and female bodies were, he couldn't deny that both forms had - interesting reactions to stimulus. The only thing that kept Ranma sane was the fact she recalled her mother saying during the presentation how normal and natural it all was.
After that and a repeat the following night, Ranma felt that she was still at a loss at how to deal with it all...
... but she knew she wasn't about to ask her mother on how to either.
- - - - -
A few days later found Ranma busy grumbling and hanging the wash on the line. This was part of her mother's training and she hated it. Unable to get out of it because it was this is what her mother termed "an important part of keeping a harmonious household" she grudgingly resigned herself to the thankless task.
"Man this is hard work," Ranma bitched to herself as she pinned some undies to the line. "I'm gonna start thanking Kasumi more often after this is over with."
Her thoughts were interrupted by surprisingly welcome sound.
"RANMA! PREPARE TO DIE!" The familiar battle cry resounded in the Tendo's backyard.
"Alright!" Ranma thought happily as she dropped Akane's skirt back into the basket. "A good therapeutic beating on pig-boy is just what I need right now."
"Bring it on P-chan!" Ranma taunted, moving away from the wash and getting into a ready stance. She felt glad that Ryoga was back from where ever he got lost to.
"Don't call me that!" Ryoga roared in anger. "Because of you, I've seen Detroit!"
Ranma stumbled and almost face-faulted. This was not in the script.
"D... Detroit?" Ranma stuttered incomprehensibly.
"Yes," Ryoga hissed leveling his umbrella, pointing it at Ranma. "I would rather be beheaded and tortured before ever going back there."
Ranma blink-blinked at the lost boy for a second. "Wait a minute! How's that MY fault?" Ranma demanded.
"If you didn't try to help me by giving me directions to my house," Ryoga replied angrily. "I would've never ended up there!"
Ranma just gaped her enraged sometime rival and friend. "Huh?" Ranma finally said, stupidified before spitting out, "I was trying to help you, you moron!"
"Enough excuses!" Ryoga roared. "We fight!"
"Bring it on pig-boy!" Ranma said gleefully as she positioned herself for the attack.
"STOP!" and imperious voice rang out, freezing the two combatants before a single blow could be thrown. Ranma and Ryoga swung their heads around to face a fast approaching Nodoka. As she neared, they could make out a fiery and steely gaze in her eyes. It was enough to make Ranma let out an involuntary "eep" and for Ryoga to start sweating.
"What have I said about you fighting?" Nodoka address the younger redhead while shaking a finger at her. "There was to be no fighting or sparing while you are in training."
"But mom," Ranma explained. "What am I supposed to do? Stand there and let him hit me? He's always attacking me for stupid stuff anyway."
"That doesn't matter," Nodoka admonished. "It is not lady-like and if would interfere with your training. You are not to participant."
"But mom," Ranma said, growing more frustrated by her mother's attitude over the last few days. "This isn't fighting. It's self defense! It's martial arts!"
"Doesn't matter," Ranma's mother said firmly. "I don't want to see you fighting during your training." She then added dismissively. "Now continued on with your chores."
Ranma was mad. Mad as hell. Where does her mother get off at ruining a good fight? "Mom! Are you trying to turn me into a stupid, silly, weak girl?" she blurted out.
Nodoka froze in mid-step as Ranma covered her mouth with both hands. She realized right then that she screwed up royally. Ranma knew that her mother didn't know the 'Soul of Ice' technique, but she also felt the temperature dropped a good fifteen degrees in a matter of seconds. Considering the unseasonable warm weather they were having, Ranma realized she'd just awakened a force to be reckoned with and hoped to come away with only slight injuries. Nodoka's aura built up around her until it was visible and without any effort or movement of her legs, turned and faced her offspring.
"Why would you think women are stupid and weak?" she asked evenly in a frosty tone, the fog of her breath clearly seen in the air. Ryoga watched and felt Nodoka's scary 'Aura of Female Indignation' and quaked in fear. It was then he decided that anyplace was better than here and took the opportunity to get lost - even if it meant him ending up back in Detroit.
"Umm.., er, ahh," Ranma verbally flounder about.
"The truth," Nodoka commanded, dropping the temperature further. Ranma shivered.
"Well, ya-," Ranma stopped and composed herself. Her mother was already pissed and she didn't want 'improper language' to be added to the list of offenses that she would have to answer to. "Mother," Ranma began again. "Father always said that women..."
A few minutes of explanation followed by a shriek of anger from Ranma's mother. This was then followed by loudly proclaimed death threats against a certain panda-man.
- - - - -
Genma was swathed in a new set of bandages covering a new set of injuries as he sat across from Soun. They were busy cheating at Go as Ranma grumbled about the living room, dusting. Ranma's mother was taking the 'bridal training seriously and was determined that Ranma would be well versed in the 'womanly art of housework'.
"This sucks," Ranma thought bitterly. "I don't know which is worst, being forced to stay as a girl, not being allowed to spar, or hearing mom keep saying how manly I am for doing it."
She wiped the top of the television with the rag.
"At least it can't get any worst."
"Pigtailed girl!" Kuno roared as he barged into the living room from the yard. "Fear not! I will free you from the shackles of this unholy -"
Kuno didn't get to say more as Ranma's foot connected to his chin, sending him back through the open doors and over the compound wall.
"I wonder how he found out about this!" Ranma complained loudly. "Him, I don't need."
Nabiki entered the room from the usual way, counting a wad of money on her hands.
"You sold Kuno information? I should have known," Ranma almost spat out.
Nabiki raised a calculating eye as the men in the room kept playing, ignoring the confrontation.
"Well a girl has to make money somehow," she said cheerily and in a dismissive way. "And it's so easy with you around."
Ranma sighed. "Why do you have to make money off of me anyway?" she asked exasperatedly. "Don't you have anything better to do?"
"Outside of making money?" Nabiki said with a laugh. "You have got to be kidding Saotome."
Ranma shook her head.
"Besides this whole project you're involved with has all kinds of money making opportunities," she said with a smirk. "Why, I can run a betting pool on it, whether you get hitched or not, milk the Kunos by selling info on your whereabouts, the possibilities are just endless. But I'm not heartless, for a substantial fee I can make sure that no one-"
Nabiki was cut off as the money disappeared from her hands and scattered onto the floor. She found herself suddenly slammed against the wall with a blade at her throat.
"You dare endanger this important experiment that could help the future of Japan for a handful of gold!" Nodoka shrieked as she press the tip of her sword into Nabiki's flesh, almost drawing blood. "For the greater good of society, I should kill you for you treachery."
"Ah... ah... ah...," was all that Nabiki managed to get out.
"Mom!" Ranma cried. "It's okay! She always doing stuff like this."
"My baby!" Soun cried - literally flooding the area around him. Genma would have turned into a panda if he didn't pull an umbrella out of no where and protected himself with it. Not being a fool, Genma wisely took advantage of Soun's distraction to rearrange the game board in his favor.
"Really?" Nodoka asked before her eyes narrowed. "Like what kind of 'stuff'?"
"Well," Ranma began, obviously trying to think of a lie and failing miserably.
"The truth. Now," Nodoka commanded, using her now familiar line.
Ranma swallowed. Hard...
... and began to summarized Nabiki's activities. Nabiki was too busy trying not to get cut to notice what was being said. She didn't care about anything except two things: Coming away intact and getting out of her freshly soiled panties. Finally the blade was withdrawn and she sighed in relief and sagged down the wall. She immediately started to plan her vengeance when she was hauled up physically and came eye to eye with the Saotome matriarch.
"You and I are going up to your room. Now," she said as cold as death. "And we are going talk about your business activities, mainly those that involve my child. Do you understand?"
Nabiki was like a bird, mesmerized by a snake and found herself nodding in agreement.
"Good. Now that is understood - Ranma please pick up the money on the floor and hold it for us." She turned her attention back to the middle Tendo girl. "This will take awhile."
And awhile it took.
By the time Nodoka and a very shaken and teary eyed Nabiki came downstairs, dinner had come and gone. Nodoka stalked toward the Tendo patriarch caring a file box as the younger girl trailed behind.
"Mr. Tendo, I will talk with you. Now," she commanded.
Soun swallowed hard.
"Y- Yes, Mrs. Saotome?"
"I demand an explanation as to why my child was allowed to be debased and abused while living here. I want to know and I want to know now."
Soun was sweating.
"What ever do you mea-"
He question was cut off as Nodoka slammed a naked picture of Ranma in girl form in front of Mr. Tendo.
"Oh," was all he said.
- - - - -
It turned out for the best.
All of the money, plus a bit extra, that Nabiki earned at Ranma's expense was turned over to Nodoka for safekeeping for Ranma when she got older. It was more than enough to cover a full year of college if Ranma decided to go. Mr. Tendo tried to dissuade Ranma's mother from taking it all, but it was either that or Nabiki being turned over to the authorities. Seeing that the honor of the Tendo's was on the line, Mr. Tendo relented.
Ranma's mother also had insisted that Nabiki apologize for her abuse of Ranma in front of everyone. Nabiki soon found herself before Ranma bowing and pleading for her forgiveness. This was something that she would never do ordinarily, but Nodoka kantana proved too good a persuader. For Ranma, she found a certain amount of satisfaction at seeing Nabiki being forced to grovel with her head firmly on the floorboards, bowing for forgiveness.
It was then that Ranma thought a little payback was called for.
"Why of course I forgive you Nabiki," she said with false cheer. "But I'm afraid it's just not enough."
"Wh- what do you mean?" Nabiki stuttered out raising from her bow with the feeling of something bad was about to happen.
"Well," Ranma smiled. "I'm concerned for your well being. After all it's obvious that you have issues that need to be dealt with and I know just the thing to help you."
Nabiki blink-blinked nervously as Ranma turned to Nodoka.
"Mother," Ranma said with a deep bow to Nodoka. "While I'm away, could you see it in your heart to help and train Nabiki into being a 'woman among women'? I'm sure she would benefit from your guidance on being a woman as much as I have."
"What a wonderful suggestion," Nodoka beamed. "To forgive those who transgress on you and then to help them be a better person! How truly manly you are! I think it's a great idea! Don't you agree Nabiki?" She asked the last in a way that brook no argument.
Nabiki's eyes grew wide and on understanding the undertones of the question, she looked around at the faces of her family and saw no help from them coming. Seeing no way out and trapped in a situation she had made for herself, she reluctantly agreed.
"Perhaps your sisters would like a little training as well?" Nodoka said as she pondered that thought aloud. "Yes," she proclaimed almost immediately. "That would be even more perfect. All three of you, especially Nabiki and Akane could use a bit of womanly training. Don't you agree Soun?"
Soun looked at Nodoka with wide eyes and at the faces of his daughters. Indecision ruled his mind, but being a person who normally chose the path of least resistance, his answer was easily predicable.
"I think that would be a wonderful idea," he said nervously while eyeing his daughters. He added sagely with rubbing his chin. "Training never hurt anybody."
The Tendo girls sweated in dread.
"Now that's settled," Nodoka said, turning her attention to her daughter. "I think it's best that we retire for the night. Tomorrow is a big day. You met your new fiancé."
Ranma felt as if the table's were suddenly turned as she was reminded and paled.
"Ah... yeah. Right."
- - - - -
Two woman, one taller and older than the other, carrying a oblong object wrapped in silk and dressed in a fine, kimono moved gracefully through the semi-crowded street. Her companion looked like a younger version of herself at her side was also dressed in a kimono, whose shade of blue brought out her eyes and contrasted nicely with her hair. The younger one was also carrying a heavy looking suitcase with ease. The older women wore an expression of dutiful pride while the other was wearing one of distain.
The last week had been hell on Ranma. She hadn't been allowed even to spar while she was 'training' with her mother. All she was permitted to do was what Nodoka considered 'the womanly' arts: Cooking, cleaning, flower arranging and taking care of the families needs. It was annoying for Ranma to have her mother drill into her the idea being a "good wife, wise mother" all the while being told how "manly" Ranma was for doing it.
If Ranma didn't suffer from gender confusion before, she did now.
Before leaving the Tendo's, Nodoka made it clear that it would be just Ranma and her going. Absolutely no tag alongs. To keep Nabiki busy, Nodoka had her working on lunch under the guidance of Kasumi, who Nodoka deemed 'womanly' enough. Nodoka also assured Nabiki if any word got out, that she would put Nabiki through a bout of 'extreme womanly' training - something that Ranma hadn't been through due to lack of time.
Ranma wasn't sure what that was involved in 'extreme womanly' training, but knew she heard the words "shibari" and something referred to as "Kama Sutra" were used by her mother in reference to it. In any case, Nabiki took the threat seriously enough that it worked very well keeping her in line.
Akane was kept busy by learning about how to read cookbooks, read package labels and use measuring cups. After a few witnessed disasters in the kitchen, Nodoka decided that starting from ground zero with Akane would be the best approach. With a firm hand in the kitchen and making Akane taste a few of her concocsions, Akane was making slow progress in the right direction.
Very slow progress.
The two women walked in silence for what seemed like a long time before Ranma's nerves started getting to her.
"I don't know, mom," the younger girl said. "I don't know if I can go through with this for one night, much less three months."
"Now dear, be a man," the older admonished. "You can do this. Remember the fate of the country could well rest on what you do or don't do. Think of it as a challenge. You don't back down from a challenge, do you?"
Ranma thought carefully. "Not a martial arts challenge," Ranma finally said. "But this is different."
"Be manly," came the Nodoka's terse reply. "I will not settle for nothing less - and either should you."
"Yes, mom," Ranma replied without enthusiasm.
The two walked in silence for a bit.
"Mom?" Ranma tentatively asked. "Can I ask you something?"
"Why certainly dear," Nodoka answered her currently female offspring."What is on your mind?"
"Well, you know when you were telling me... um, stuff about..., er, um... sex and... stuff?"
"Yes dear, I remember. What about it?"
"I just wondering. You told me it was okay for a young man to... ,er - 'spread his seed', right?"
"Yes dear" the elder woman answered. "Don't worry, I do not blame you for your lack of... experience in that area." Then her voice hardened. "I can see that was my foolish husbands fault."
"Um, right," Ranma said quickly not wanting to get her mother riled again. "But my question is this: This last week you've been training me, you kept telling me that a 'proper woman is chaste'. Right?"
"Yes dear, a proper women should preserve herself for marriage."
"Well... if proper men are suppose to 'spread their seed' and a proper women is suppose to 'preserve herself', isn't that kinda... conda-, contra-, er, not quite right?"
Both women stopped in their walk. Nodoka turned and stared at her offspring in silence for a moment.
"What I don't understand," Ranma pressed, "is when I'm a guy you want me to... to do that with every girl I meet and when I'm a girl you want me to be 'pure and untouched'."
"I know it all seems confusing," Ranma's mother said not missing a beat as they resumed walking. "But that is the way it's always been and is suppose to be."
Ranma mulled over that briefly, but not really understanding anything. "But what about pops?" Ranma asked slightly pointedly. "How many mistresses does he have?"
Nododa didn't even break her stride as she answered, "He hasn't any - or he better not have any."
"Er, why?" Ranma asked getting more confused.
"Because dear," Ranma's mother said sunnily, "I would have to kill him."
Ranma stopped her walk and stared at her mother's retreating back, blink-blinked and then took off after her.
"All this relationship stuff is confusing," Ranma lamented with a shake of her head.
The two continued their trek in silence until the older one announced, "We're here."
Ranma looked at what would be her home for the next three months. It look smaller than the Tendo's from the outside, but it probably was comfortable on the inside. The second floor had narrow balconies, double windows and a high peaked roof. The house was surrounded by a low wall.
Much to Ranma's disappointment, this house didn't have a dojo.
Passing through the opening to the grounds, the pair proceeded up the walk and to the front door. Nodoka turned to Ranma to make sure she was presentable.
"Ready?" she asked.
"No," Ranma answered flatly.
Nodoka cocked an eyebrow and said gently, "It will be all right. Remember your training and be manly about being womanly and it will be all right."
Ranma had to fight the gag reflex that she had developed over the last week during her training on being a "woman among woman". It was almost as strong as the gag reflex she had developed when she heard the word "manly" for what felt the six millionth time in the same week.
"Here we go," Ranma's mother said as she pushed the doorbell.
After a short wait, the door swung opened.
- - - - -
- - - - -
The crack about Detroit was just a joke. I got it from a bit in a movie called "A Fist Full of Yen". I'm not sure if the movie was 'The Groove Tube' or 'Kentucky Fried Movie'. What I am sure of its been ages since I've seen either one of them - anyway, I'm sure Detroit is a fine city and I mean no offense by this.
I like to thank everyone who emailed me and point out a few things and Anime Freak317 for nudging me about Nabiki's 'training' and the inclusion of the other Tendo sister's.
Thanks for reading