Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½, or anything else you may recognize. Not a dime is being made of this story and is for entertainment purposes only. Enjoy!
Summary: After the failed wedding almost everyone around Ranma has become cold and distant. Once he's free he decides he needs to just get lost, and does it with a little help, and it could be the best thing he's ever decided to do. He meets with two women who will help him more than he'll ever realize.
Author's note: This is an AU, especially considering I'm having a bitch of a time tracking down any of the books after 31 and I haven't been able to see the series after a majority of season 5 I'm very unclear of what happens with Saffron, the failed wedding, and all that. So I'm sayin' right now this is an AU cause I don't want people to yell an holler that 'that never happened'. Oh, by the way, I can't stand Akane, you'll probably never see me do a Ranma/Akane ship, I think she's a spoiled brat with trust issues. I'm not sayin' Ranma's perfect by any means, but I got personal reasons to dislike people like Akane so deal with it.
Ah Nerima, apex for chaos for the entire planet, you wouldn't find a single person in this town who fit the definition for normal. Even the little old lady who perpetually washes her sidewalk isn't normal, because due to mild radiation exposure when she was younger she developed the ability to detect people with magical curses. Now she gets her kicks hitting them with water whenever they pass by her home, and there's more than just people with Jusenkyo curses in Nerima. Unfortunately for the old dear, her preferred target isn't anywhere in sight, in fact he's hiding atop the roof of the Tendo dojo in an attempt to get just five minutes to himself.
"There's gotta be someway outta this mess," Ranma grumbled to himself from his perch. He had a clear view of the surrounding area so he would have plenty of warning in case someone decided to attempt another attack today. He'd already gotten away from three of them, luckily there was only person attacking each time, but he knew it was only a matter of time. It was how every day went for him now, and it didn't look to be getting better any time soon.
It was only a week after the failed wedding between him and Akane, but things had gone from bad to worse the day after that disaster. All his current fiancées and their suitors, except Akane, had taken it up a notch to try and catch him. Kuno, Mouse, and Ryoga took exception to this and attacked him at every given chance in a day instead of once every few days to once a day. He had reduced his number of suitors by one right before that whole mess with Herb, but the other three were proving far more difficult to get rid of.
"Ranma, where are you," he heard Akane yelling from the ground near the house.
"Oi, I'm up here, whadda ya want," he called back after standing up so she could see him and see he was alone.
"Get down here you baka," Akane yelled angrily.
"I'm comin'," he muttered, knowing that obeying wasn't a good idea, but he didn't have much of a choice. "Whadda ya want," he asked once he was near her.
"Where do you get off picking on P-chan you jerk," she accused, completely baffling Ranma. He'd been on the roof for a while, and before that he'd been dodging attacks out of the house for most of the day, when was he picking on Ryoga?
"What're you talkin' about ya tomboy? I haven't even seen the damn pig today," Ranma replied.
"Don't you dare lie to me, I saw you picking on P-chan," she further accused before whipping out her trusty mallet and calling out her trusty battle cry of, "RANMA NO BAKA," before she launched him into lower earth orbit.
"What the hell was that about, I didn't do a damn thing ta Ryoga today," Ranma grumbled, "I think she just wanted to hit me for the helluvit." Looking down at where he was going to land he expended some ki to control his descent and land safely before making his way back towards the dojo. "At least I didn't land in a fountain this time." Of course this lasted until he passed the old ladle lady who was happy to once again have her favorite target in her sights ensuring it would be onna-Ranma that walked to the Tendo dojo.
"Do ya do that on purpose," Ranma asked out of curiosity. His only answer was an 'I'm so sweet chocolate wouldn't melt in my mouth' smile from the elder woman. "Figures," Ranma grumbled before continuing his, now her, trek home.
"I'm back," Ranma called once he got inside and took his shoes off. Luckily he hadn't been inside the house all day, it was annoying to clean his feet off because he was ejected without shoes. Only silence greeted his call, which puzzled Ranma because he knew everyone should be home at this time, and yet nobody, not even Kasumi, greeted him. Normally Kasumi greeted everyone regardless of how long they've been gone, so to not get an answer was strange. Walking in he noticed that dinner had started, and finished, without him.
"Hey Kasumi, is there any supper left," he asked politely hoping to get something into his stomach.
"I'm sorry Ranma-kun, I gave Uncle Genma the leftovers, I assumed you would stop by Ukyo or Shampoo's considering the time," Kasumi replied with her oblivious voice.
"That's fine, um, is there any hot water in the kettle? The ladle lady got me on the way back," he asked. He could understand his pops getting the leftovers, hell, Ranma never got food on the road if he was too slow. But Kasumi starting dinner without everyone there was quite odd.
"There isn't any, no, Uncle Genma needed it to change back for supper, but you can go ahead and put a kettle on to boil," Kasumi told him with her vapid smile as she took the last of the dishes into the kitchen to wash up leaving Ranma quite confused.
"I gotta be imaginin' things," Ranma muttered quietly, "There's no way Kasumi is deliberately doin' things ta me. I think I'll just turn in for the night." With that decision made Ranma trudged up to the guest room, it had never been his, and laid on one of the spare futons to sleep. Since he'd probably be awoken by his pops or Akane by being changed into a girl anyway there wasn't a reason to change back now.
A few weeks later
"What can I do for you Saotome," Nabiki asked after she had opened her door.
"Can I talk to ya for a minute," he asked indicating he wanted it kept private instead of in the hallway.
"Sure, come on in," she replied before opening the door fully and admitting him. "What do you want, and make it quick," she snapped once the door was closed.
"Guess you don't want any yen then," he replied with a non-committal shrug before heading back towards the door.
"What do you mean Saotome," Nabiki asked coolly, "We both know you don't have a yen to your name and I know everything there is to know about you already."
"You're wrong, on both accounts, but that's besides the point," Ranma told her, "I'm here ta pay off some of my debt to ya. What's my total up to?"
"¥75,000," Nabiki replied after a moment. She had to take a minute to gather herself after being told she was wrong, by Ranma no less.
"Well, here's ¥25,000 of it," Ranma told her handing over a stack of bills.
"Where did you get this," she asked with her eyes drawn into slits, "There's no way you could have saved this money without me knowing about it."
"You're wrong about that too, but I didn't have to save it up, I earned that, and I'm not gonna tell ya where so save yer breath," he told her before walking out her door before she gather her wits again to keep pressing him for information. A few more weeks and he'd have the full amount saved up. All he'd have to do is keep it somewhere away from Nabiki. Telling her he earned it was a bit of a stretch. True, he earned it, but that was only because he was playing body guard for some people from the Yakuza. As Ranma looked at it beating up some thugs didn't really constitute 'earning his paycheck', but as long as his boss thought so he wasn't going to complain. He would start making ¥625,000 next week, but this week was a short week. In fact he'd only worked a day so far, but the rest of that money was hidden.
Unfortunately most of that had to be saved up because Ranma was really starting to feel unwelcome in the Tendo dojo. He wasn't sure how much longer he would be able to be living under the roof of the dojo and he needed to have money saved up in case he was out on the street. He had learned that Kasumi was going out of her way, or rather not going out of her way for him. If Akane was mad at him, which was a daily occurrence, then he'd either get less food for dinner or he wouldn't get anything if he wasn't there on time. The kettle never seemed to be full when he needed it, and Ranma was going to find out if, unbelievable as it sounds, Kasumi was lying about that. Making his way out of the house he told everyone he was going for a quick walk and would be back in time for supper which was 20 minutes away. That was plenty of time to have been 'accidentally changed into onna-Ranma and need hot water. Sure enough, the ladle lady hit with unerring accuracy making Ranma throw her a grateful smile. That sure threw her off for a minute. He practically skipped his way back to the dojo before making his way in through the kitchen when he noticed Kasumi wasn't in there.
"Kasumi, mind if I use this hot water," Ranma asked seeing that the kettle was full. He held it up as he stood in the doorway seeing his father wasn't changed into a panda so he wouldn't have any need of it.
"I'm sorry Ranma, I need to save that in case Uncle Genma needs it later tonight," she told him. It was then he noticed that they had started supper what had to have been a full 15 minutes early for the amount of food everyone had eaten. Putting the kettle back Ranma disappeared up the stairs without a word or a glance to anyone, because if Kasumi wasn't welcoming him in the house anymore then nobody else was going to. The last thing he heard before he closed the door to the guest room was Akane telling everyone, "Maybe now he understands nobody wants him here."
"Hinako-sensei, can I have a moment," Ranma asked once everyone had left the room for lunch. As usual Hinako chose to have her lunch in the room since neither the teachers or the students really cared much to have their lunch with her.
"What do you need Saotome-san," Hinako asked. She was in her adult form thanks to a 'delinquent' that she had sucked dry just prior to the bell ringing, though it wouldn't last long.
"I was wondering if we could work out a, what's the word, a truce I guess if I can prove that I ain't sleeping anymore in class," Ranma asked her. Of course it looked like he was sleeping in class, but he didn't want to tip his hand to anyone else.
"What kind of truce," she asked skeptically.
"Alls I'm asking is that you don't drain me for 'sleeping' and keep actin' like I don't know anything and I'll do any make up work ya want and keep up with homework and tests," he proposed.
"Prove to me you weren't sleeping earlier first," she demanded.
"You were talkin' about verb conjugation for most of the class when ya weren't drainin' the people who were goofin' off," he replied before walking up to the board and wrote down a few examples that she had talked about in class.
"How could you possibly know that," she asked in shock.
"I figured the only way I'm gonna pass school is if I got a way to learn what I needed ta without havin' ta find a way to stay awake. So I messed around and found a way to meditate that let me remember what I hear," he explained, "It just looks like I'm sleepin', and I still get the rest, but I remember everythin' that's taught. I just need to catch up to the class so I know what's goin' on and it'll be easier."
"As long as you allow me to test you with the class and separately I'll allow this. I reserve the right to pop quiz you on anything we've learned in class or through homework at anytime," she replied.
"That works, so long as you don't plan on showin' up at the Tendo's to do it 'cause I might not be there," he told her.
"And why wouldn't you be," she asked sternly, "You know students aren't allowed to have jobs, are you out being a womanizing pervert?"
"Nuh uh, mostly just trying to stay outta fights and keep people safe. Ya know, martial artists code, it's a martial artists duty to protect the weak," he replied. It wasn't exactly a lie, and he only said no to being a womanizing pervert.
"Alright, we'll confine the testing to school hours, mostly during lunches, speaking of lunch, where's yours," she asked curiously. She had never known Ranma to go a day without eating as much as he could during lunch.
"Uh…um…forgot it, yeah, that's it," he replied nervously, proving he still couldn't tell a straight lie to save his life, "I'll just grab somethin' on the way home."
"Alright, I'll have a list of work for you that will bring you up to current tomorrow, since we're only just over a month into the new year you're not very behind," she informed him before motioning him out just before she began shrinking.
"Thanks Hinako-sensei," he replied before putting a couple suckers that he got from Dr. Tofu on her desk and leaving the room. He had over half the lunch hour to kill yet and a few more teachers to track down to see if they'd be open to the same deals. He was just hoping that none of them were in Nabiki's pocket.
"Hey Ranma," a voice called from down the hall as soon as he got five steps from the classroom.
"Toshiro right," Ranma asked. He was, and he admitted it, terrible at remembering names unless the person tried to kill him a few times.
"Yeah, the computer club sent me to find you because we wanted to give you something as a thank you," Toshiro told him. Toshiro was your typical nerd, he wasn't as rail-thin or sickly looking as Gosunkugi, but he was close in the thin department. He also had the standard thick frames, which Ranma had asked about the first time they had talked, Toshiro had said that if he was going to be labeled a geek he might as well look the part.
"They don't need to do anything," Ranma told him self-consciously, "I just did it cause nobody deserves ta be beat up by a bunch of bullies."
"They thought you might feel that way," Toshiro said with a grin. He had gotten a lot more relaxed around Ranma after talking to him a few times. He had become the 'elected' spokesmen for the computer club whenever they needed to talk to or have someone fetch Ranma. So Toshiro and Ranma had run into each other a few times so Ranma could take care of a few bullies that didn't know when to quit.
"Why do I get the feeling I'm not gonna like this," Ranma asked dryly.
"We decided since we can't stop giving Nabiki technology, sorry, and you won't accept any, that we'd do the next best thing," Toshiro said with an amused grin, "We're going to teach you how to use a computer!"
"Ta do what? Not like I really need ta use one," Ranma pointed out.
"Not right now, but you might someday, and it's best to have at least a background understanding so if you're ever forced to you'll be able to figure out what you have to do," Toshiro prodded. He knew that if all else failed he had one other card he could pull out.
"Well, that makes sense, but I dunno," Ranma was quite reluctant to add anything else to his schedule right now, and learning how to use a computer wasn't high on his priority list.
"Alright, but we just thought you might want to get into Martial Arts Computer Hacking," Toshiro said flippantly. He knew anything that had to do with martial arts would perk Ranma's interest, and a few computer clubs from High School and College levels had devised Martial Arts Computer Hacking as a way to claim to be martial artists without the physical pain.
"Martial Arts Computer Hacking? I thought I had heard of most arts, but never heard of that one," Ranma thought out loud.
"Are you interested? There's a tournament coming up soon," Toshiro asked.
"Sure, if it's martial arts there ain't nothing I can't learn," Ranma said full of ego making Toshiro sweat drop. Most of the people in the computer club had put years into learning how to hack at the levels they were at now, and Ranma was boasting as usual that he'd learn in no time flat.
"Are you still working for Keiosu-san," Toshiro asked curiously.
"Yeah, she said she'd have a permanent schedule for me on Monday," Ranma replied quietly as he guided Toshiro farther away from Hinako's classroom, "Thanks for settin' up the meetin'."
"No problem Ranma, we all know that nobody can really beat you, it just seemed to fit that you'd be a body guard," Toshiro replied uncomfortably. He wasn't really used to compliments unless it came from his fellow computer club members.
"Well the job's really gonna help me out, so I owe ya one," Ranma told him before patting Toshiro on the back, "Lunch is just about over so I better get back to my classroom. I'll talk to ya later about when I can learn that computer stuff from ya."
"Talk to you later Ranma," Toshiro replied before heading off towards his own classroom.