Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½, I think you know who does. If not, why don't you? Everyone else does, so why are you left out of the loop? Poor lost soul...
AN: While my first story is a crossover and based on a concept that has been used once or twice before, this is, I THINK, original. Not quite sure...there are so many stories I haven't gotten around to reading. If you've seen a story similar to this, please point it out to me immediately. Oh, uh, ill continue Losing Innocence, Finding Self soon enough. Just need to get this out of my system before I go crazy. Crazier.
Also, ALL my future stories will have a much more mentally accute Ranma. I believe that underneath it all, he is quite intelligent. He just doesn't use it. At least, not to the knowledge of the other Nerima residents...eheheheheheheh. Em, also, forgive the dubious title. It is, in no way, meant to be cynical. Although it may seem like it.
Where Kindness Leads You
Chapter 1: First Steps
Making her way down a busy street, a young woman seemed to...glide. There was no other way to describe the flowing grace of her movements. As she went about her business, people stopped what they were doing, focusing their attention on the girl as they felt a wave of tranquility and ease wash over them. Many were speechless in awe of her beautiful, serene features, accented by the modest house dress she was wearing.
Kasumi Tendo walked on, seemingly oblivious to the effect that she had on those around her. In her arms she carried the day's groceries, humming cheerfully to herself as she continued on her way home in order to prepare dinner.
Be it fate, destiny, or a stray deity's idea of a good laugh (Across several multiverses, dozens of said deities sneezed violently), a strange object caught Kasumi's attention, bringing her out of whatever blissful state of mind she usually adopted. Deciding, for reasons she couldn't fathom, to investigate the object, she entered a small shop that had the unusual item on display in its window.
At a counter in the back of the room, a short, pudgy man with greying hair sat, soundly asleep, er, carefully keeping watch over his store. Glancing about as she approached the counter, Kasumi blinked thoughtfully when she realized that the owner was currently dead to the world. Spotting a small bell resting on the countertop beside the man's head, she reached out a hand and gingerly rang it once. Instantly, the man sprang over six feet into the air (quite an impressive feat considering his less than aerodynamic build), yelping loudly before quickly stammering out, "Take whatever you want, just don't hurt me! I- oh, you must be a customer. Er, see anything you like? Eheheheh..."
Smiling one of her must endearing, irresistable smiles, the Angel of Nerima replied, "Oh my yes. I was wondering what that thing in the window is."
Staggering slightly and attempting to blink the spots out of his eyes inflicted by Kasumi's brighter-than-the-sun smile being directed at him full force, the chubby shopkeeper answered unsteadily, "T-that is a very powerful magical artifact. It has the ability to pull unpleasant memories right out of someone's head!"
'Unpleasant memories? Maybe it could help with Ranma's Neko-ken?'
Contrary to popular belief, Kasumi was not completely oblivious to the world around her. She simply chose not to involve herself in a lot of what went on around Nerima (It was much healthier for one's sanity that way). Thinking of the usually confident, often downright arrogant pigtailed boy brought an almost unnoticable frown to her face. 'Ranma has been acting so sad lately. I guess all the usual chaos that follows him is finally starting to take its toll. After everything he's been through, I think he deserves this.'
Her mind made up to help the poor Saotome heir, Kasumi nodded to herself. It was the right thing to do, after all. "How much do you want for it?"
Before the rotund shopkeep could reply, his considerable stomach suddenly growled in protest of its current state of emptiness. Grinning sheepishly, he snaked a quick glance to the groceries Kasumi held before answering, "Um...eheheh...how about two apples?"
Five minutes later, the eldest Tendo daughter arrived in front of her home, once more retrieving the magic object from her pocket to peer at it curiously. A flat disc, three inches in diameter and a quarter of an inch thick, decorated with symbols drawn on both sides of its smooth, ebony surface in a silvery white color. The symbols, refracting the sunlight and breaking it into a myriad of dancing colors, depicted two seperate scenarios, one on each side. On the top (from her view) was a picture of a man and woman sitting apart from one another, each shedding tears. Flipping the artifact over in her hands, Kasumi beheld the same man and woman holding one another, no longer crying but instead kissing tenderly.
'With this, I should be able to help Ranma get over his fear of cats. This is definitely the right thing to do, he hasn't really done anything to deserve such a thing.'
Ignoring the small voice in the back of her mind that said, 'Are you sure thats the only reason why? Or do you truly want to see him happy...for another reason altogether?', she entered the Tendo household, determined to find Ranma and help him.
While Kasumi put away the groceries and prepared to find the pigtailed chaos magnet, said magnet was relaxing on the roof of the Tendo home, doing something that would shock anyone who knew him into another bout of tunnel vision induced self denial- thinking. Thinking about everything that had ever gone wrong in his life. From the Neko-ken, to the Jusenkyo curse, the fiances, the rivals, the kidnappings, the oddball challengers. Even Saffron and...the failed wedding. A month past and it still hurt. Deciding it wasn't worth the pain of thinking about it, Ranma shifted his focus to the present. 'Getting kinda boring around here. Let's see...dumb and dumber decided to go out and drink themselves stupid early today. Akane is out shopping with some of her friends, Kasumi is out getting groceries for dinner, and Nabiki is taking care of some business across town. Haven't seen the old perv in a while, and I don't particularly CARE what he does, as long as he stays far away from me. Ukyo is busy at her restaurant, Shampoo and Mousse are swamped with work over at the Nekohanten, along with the Old Ghoul. Ryouga's been lost for a week now, just a matter of time until he shows up again. The Kunos are all at home, doing whatever they do when they aren't making my life hell...don't think I wanna know. It's been pretty quiet around here...not that I'm complaining. Something ridiculous and outright insane will happen soon, and I'll be the one at the center of it, somehow. Better enjoy the peace while I can.'
Stifling a yawn, Ranma got into a more comfortable position as he watched the clouds float by one by one. 'Maybe one day, I'll finally be free. Free as the clouds, peaceful as the blue sky.'
Grimacing, he mumbled something hanging around poetry spouting idiot kendoists too much. Raising his hand, he examined it against the backdrop of the sky. Callouses and tiny scars, invisible unless you knew to look for them, decorated it, the results of a lifetime of hard training and living on the road. Sighing gently, Ranma slowly stood up and stretched. Hopping lightly to the ground, he nearly landed on top of Kasumi, who had just been leaving the house to search for him.
"Oh my! Ranma! There you are. I've been looking for you...there's something I need to talk with you about."
Blinking in surprise, Ranma adopted his trademark look of cluelessness. "Um...sure, Kasumi. What'cha need?"
Smiling brightly, the eldest Tendo daughter reached into a pocket, pulling out the magic disc and showing it to Ranma. "A nice man told me that this is magical and that it can take away your memories of the Neko-ken. Isn't that just wonderful?"
At the mention of the word 'magical', Ranma's hair began to stand on end. His track record with supernatural powers made further encounters with enchanted objects less than desirable. Oh no, he wasn't afraid- never that. He was just very...cautious around items of arcane origins. Understandably so.
"Er yeah Kasumi, that sounds great and all, but-"
Seeing the look of disappointment flashing briefly across features, Ranma felt an intense pang of guilt. He was making Kasumi sad, and that was something nobody in Nerima was willing to do, least of all him. Insane samurai wannabes, eternally lost martial artists driven by obsessive vengeance quests, dragon princes, and even Phoenix gods he could handle, but the very thought of a depressed Kasumi Tendo was almost enough to make him blanch. Such a thing went against the natural order, it just wasn't right!
"-but how about we go inside the dojo for this, it could get kinda messy.", he finished weakly. Alright, so he was a little bit of a wuss when it came to the opposite sex. Okay, a big wuss- so what, if anyone laughed at him he could punt them across Nerima.
Instantly brightening again, Kasumi grabbed the pigtailed boy's hand and quickly led him into the dojo. Arriving at their destination, she began to mentally go through the instructions the shopkeeper had given her once more. "Alright Ranma, just stand right here. Don't worry, I'll...Ranma, are you feeling well? You look kind of flushed."
Turning his head in a vain attempt at hiding the growing blush on his face, the mortally embarassed martial artist barely managed to stammer out, "J-just fine Kasumi, but y-you c-can let g-go of my hand now."
Eyes widening in surprise, the Tendo girl's cheeks took on a rosy hue as she quickly relinquished her grasp on Ranma's hand. "Oh my! I apologize, Ranma. I hadn't realized."
Grinning sheepishly, the Saotome heir managed to regain his composure before responding. "Um, that's alright Kasumi. It didn't bother me or nothin'."
Feeling her blush intensify, Kasumi found herself unable to reply. 'Does he...does he mean that he actually enjoyed holding my hand?'
Quickly banishing that stray thought, she took several steps back and turned around to face Ranma once more. Placing the disc horizontally on top of her left hand, she rested her right hand on the disc itself, keeping her fingers aligned and pointing towards her intended target. Closing her eyes in deep concentration, she began to focus on what she knew of the Neko-ken. Slowly, images began to form in her mind. Darkness, all around. Then hissing and growling somewhere nearby, seemingly from all around. Glowing eyes suddenly blinked into existence, surrounding her. And then the pain began.
Ranma stood in the center of the dojo, shifting nervously as the strange object Kasumi was holding began to glow with a silvery light. Then, barely noticable at first but quickly growing stronger, he felt something tugging at his mind. As the feeling intensified, he felt something deep within him suddenly lift away. 'Okay, that didn't hurt at all. Nothing bad is happening...maybe this time, everything won't go horribly wrong after all!'
"Hey Kasumi, I think it might've wor-"
He was cut off when Kasumi began to scream, clutching her head in agony before collapsing.
So much pain! Claws tearing at her viciously, inflicting hundreds of bleeding cuts all over her body. She couldn't move, couldn't protect herself as the biting and scratching became even more frenzied, refusing to end. She did the only thing she could- she screamed. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, the torment stopped. She felt herself falling, the ground rushing up to meet her. Strong arms wrapped around her, catching her, offering her warmth and safety as she drifted into unconsciousness.
Blearily, Kasumi opened her eyes and found that she was in her room. And she was not alone. Ranma sat next to her, looking on anxiously. He had carried the Tendo girl to her room and gently set her on the bed, watching as she seemed to sleep peacefully for nearly two hours before finally awakening. "Are you feeling alright, Kasumi?"
Blinking to bring everything into focus, she smiled up at her pigtailed savior. "Why yes Ranma, I feel great. Better than ever, actually."
Scratching his head nervously, the Saotome heir nodded once. Her aura seemed perfectly healthy...but something was somehow off about it. Different. 'Aw well, it doesn't look like it's hurting her, so I guess its nothing to worry about. I hope.'
Ignoring the tingling sensation in his spine trying to warn him of possible danger (This is Kasumi! She'd never hurt anyone, right? ...Right?), he was about to reply when he was stopped by Kasumi's hand gently closing over his own. "Thank you for watching over me, Ranma. It's getting late, and I need to get started on dinner soon."
"Uh, s-sure Kasumi. I'll go practice in the dojo for a while."
Releasing her grip on the now extremely flustered Ranma, the eldest Tendo daughter rose gracefully to her feet and glided out of the room, heading towards the kitchen.
She was met along the way by loud, off key singing. The moronic duo had returned a bit earlier than planned, laughing over their next imminent failure, er, brilliant plan to unite the houses. "That wayward son of mine will never know what hit 'em! Soon, Tendo, soon the houses will finally be united! All we need now are three gallons of bleach, sake, hedge clippers, sake, and a lemur- a small prosimian, or primitive primate, endemic to Madagascar."
"And sake! Don't forget the sake!"
"Quite right Tendo, quite right!"
The two idiots began laughing like...well...idiots, until they were greeted by Kasumi standing before them, looking as serene as usual. Grinning widely, the Tendo patriarch addressed his treasured offspring, "Hello Kasumi! When is dinner going to be ready?"
Soun blinked twice. Was it his imagination, or had his daughter given him a cold glare? 'No, that's not possible. This is Kasumi! ...Then again, if she takes after her mother...'
The waterworks nearly began at the thought of his dear, deceased wife. The Tendo home was saved from incurring more water damage by its own caretaker, whose peaceful smile took on an almost Cheshire appearance. "I will be starting dinner in a moment. Not that it concerns you two- I will not allow drunkards at my table. Either stay sober or starve, it's up to you."
Genma and Soun stood there, stunned. Surely their ears were playing tricks on them? Nervously sidling closer to his long time friend, the Tendo patriarch nervously began, "Erm Saotome ol' buddy...could you maybe talk to my daughter and see what's troubling her? I think something must be very wrong for her to act like this, don't you think?"
Nodding quickly in both agreement and affirmation, the portly martial artist stepped forth to confront the eldest Tendo daughter. He would do his best to help her, it was a martial artist's duty! Nevermind that he simply could not allow the source of his food to fall ill. That was a given. "Now Kasumi, I think you and I should have a little talk."
Genma nearly flinched when Kasumi's grin became even more pronounced. "Why of course Mr. Saotome. Follow me to my room. I believe you and I need to... discuss something."
Following the Tendo girl upstairs, the sometimes panda angrily squelched the sliver of fear creeping into the back of his mind. A powerful martial artist such as himself scared of a girl? Never! He was simply feeling nervous around her. Very nervous.
Upon arrival at their destination, Kasumi spun around to face her victim, er, houseguest. "What was it you wanted to speak about, Mr. Saotome?"
"My dear, as a martial artist it is my duty to protect the weak and the innocent. Therefore, if there is anything wrong, anything at all, please feel free to ask for my help."
"Oh my Mr. Saotome...you really are a pathetic old fool."
Puffing out his chest in pride, Genma began to reply, Kasumi's words not registering immediately. "Why yes, I am...what?"
The Saotome patriarch deflated, the Tendo girl's statement having finally sunk in. Kasumi's smile suddenly turned vicious as she raised her hands, glowing claws of energy flaring into existence between each knuckle.
An hour later, Genma exited the room, his eyes glazed over as he stared straight ahead at nothing. Soun was there in an instant, questioning his old training partner. "Genma ol' buddy, have you talked with my daughter?"
Having regained a small measure of his composure, the portly martial artist clasped his hands behind his back and stood tall, nearly managing to cast the illusion of stoicism as he replied gravely, "I have."
Barely containing his curiosity, the Tendo patriarch impatiently pressed, "And?", eagerly awaiting news of his eldest daughter's welfare. Genma puffed out his chest, holding his ground for all of three seconds before his clothes fell away in neatly sliced pieces, revealing dozens of rather nasty looking cuts all over his body. Adopting a look of stark terror, the balding man practically screamed, "I'll pack my things immediately!", kicking up a cloud of dust and nearly trampling Soun in his haste to do just that.
Soun simply stood there, staring dumbly at the dust trail that was left by the fleeing Saotome patriarch as Kasumi exited her room and smiled brightly at her father. "Why hello Father. Did you want to have a talk as well?"
Quickly backing away, making warding gestures and nearly tripping twice, the dignfied head of the Tendo household began to stammer. "N-no dear, I was just on my way to uh...help Genma pack! So I'll be going now, bye!"
And a second dust trail joined the first as Kasumi smirked victoriously for a moment before remembering that she had something to do. 'Oh my! I still have to fix dinner. I hope Ranma doesn't mind eating a little later than usual.'
Humming a merry tune to herself, she made her way downstairs and to the kitchen, smiling pleasantly and determining to fix the resident aquatranssexual's favorite meal.
In the Tendo Dojo, Ranma could swear up and down that he felt the cold of the grave seeping into his very bones. Either that, or he was catching the flu out of season. If anyone could manage that, it would be him.
'Something is definitely going to happen soon. It's too much to ask for that for once, it be something nice.'
Sighing gently, the pigtailed one returned to his training, focusing his energies into a tiny glowing ball of whitish blue power. Causing the ball to dance from finger to finger several times, he finally let it come to rest on his thumb. Flicking it like a marble, he watched as it streaked across the dojo before impacting the far wall, leaving a small patch of ice as the only evidence it had ever existed. Nodding to himself in satisfaction, he began to devise different applications for the new technique, and ways to improve on it.
After he finished cataloguing every intricate detail of the new attack, he once again began to focus his ki. Slowly, his battle aura flared to life, strangely a frigid white rather than the usual color. Concentrating, Ranma coaxed the aura around him to expand and coalesce into a spherical shape. The field of subzero energy continued expanding, reaching a total of roughly ten feet in diameter before exploding outward violently, coating everything in a half inch coat of ice. Unfortunately, that included Ranma himself.
Breaking free of his icy prison, the pigtailed one began to shiver uncontrollably due to the intense cold. 'Gotta work on that one.'
Making his way to the door of the now thoroughly frozen dojo, Ranma opened the door just in time to hear a call of, "Ranma, dinner's ready!"
Grinning widely in expectation of the delicious meal ahead, he allowed himself to forget his previous unease towards the future. 'Nah, nothing'll happen that I can't handle. At least...I don't THINK so...er.'
AN: Um...yeah...I think this chapter feels almost rushed. Might just be me, I dunno. I can always go back and revise it if it proves to be less than satisfactory, so I'm not worried. Agh! Revision...I mess up the story title. Ehehe...whoops.