I possess no ownerships, rights, or properties to Ranma ½. All rights, ownerships, or any other legal holdings are all the properties of their respective owners. I have not been paid for this work of fanfiction.
This legal disclaimer applies to all chapters following this disclaimer, and any/all works related to both this chapter, and this work, by this author. No disclaimers will be posted in the following chapters, save for references back to this disclaimer, since this disclaimer applies to them all in their entirety.
Well, I decided to start another foray into the world of fanfiction. Going for a non-traditional pairing this time, since I discovered that I often prefer them to canon pairings (Can you say Hermione + Ron equals Ugh?). At this point, I have more than one girl in mind for Ranma to end up with, so just because you think you see the story leaning in one direction, even heavily, doesn't mean that's who he'll be with. So, with that, I present this story to you, my fellow authors, and loyal readers.
Having read several stories in which Ranma or other members go back in time (typically Nabiki) or they gain 'sudden' foresight of the entire manga series, I noticed they all had one thing in common. Ranma (or the others) rarely help themselves, and only themselves (It happens, but not often). Typically, Ranma (whoever) tries to set things up so that everyone's happy. Ranma gets Akane, Ryoga gets Akari (or Ukyo), Mousse gets Shampoo, etc, etc…
So I figured, why not make one where Ranma gets a chance to go back, but changes so that he doesn't really care about if he's making the whole of Nerima into a better and happy Never Never Land around him in the process, but was primarily interested in taking back his life, even if it meant doing the hard and painful (for others') way.
What better way to do that than by a little help from first-class demoness Mara (from Oh, My Goddess!) to the, er… well, not precisely rescue, but… well, you get the idea.
Ok, enough of my prattling, you get the idea, Ranma gets a cosmic do-over, after Mara screws with his mind a little. Ladies and Gentlemen (and I use that term loosely), it's…
"My son, I am proud of you," Saotome Nodoka said, smiling at her only child. Said only child was on top of the roof.
Neighbors of the Tendo dojo had lowered their blinds or closed their curtains, rather than have Ranma's battle aura illuminating their homes like the sun had decided to take up residency in the pig-tailed martial artist's body.
Ranma's reply was not readily understood by his mother. However, she did pick out several words she had only heard before when American television was playing, and even then only on the channels one had to subscribe to, not the free ones. She paused. Was cursing in such a manner manly?
Under the circumstances, she supposed so. Being able to express oneself fully in a given situation was a good trait in a man. Thus in this circumstance, she decided, cursing was manly.
"My son," she tried again. "Please listen to me."
Slowly, Saotome Ranma turned to face his mother. Today had been a bad, bad day, in a string of bad days, in a string of bad weeks, in a string of bad years.
Must… resist… urge… to… break someone… Ranma thought to himself. After all this time, Ranma had finally lost his temper. It was only his father's earliest teachings of restraint and honor, no matter how hypocritical they were, that kept him from lashing out at the world around him. It seemed like everyone wanted a piece of him today.
Ranma had woken up, almost screaming, from a nightmare involving Jusendo, and Akane's almost-death.
That was the high point in Ranma's day.
Kodachi had shown up at breakfast, and had come far too close to becoming a fiancée in more than just her own sick head. Her mother had apparently been swayed by the insane gymnast's declarations of her love, and if her demented brother hadn't shown up and forbidden her from marrying Ranma, then Nodoka might have actually agreed to it all. Then, of course, the Kuno brother had alternately tried groping/beating Ranma, depending in which form the pig-tailed martial artist had been wearing, the same time Kodachi had been trying to beat/grope Ranma, all before Ranma had a chance to eat his breakfast. Akane had blamed him entirely for it, Nabiki had charged him for the damage, Soun alternately wept/Demon-head projected himself at Ranma in thirty-second intervals, and his Pops had swiped his food when he wasn't looking.
Nothing seemed to get any better. Ukyo had come to school in a traditional kimono, proclaimed herself Ranma's wife, and dutifully followed him around all day, trying to show him her 'wifely duties to her man' whenever she thought no one was watching. Nabiki kept showing up to take pictures, blackmailing him. Akane blamed him for it, and malleted him.
The Kuno siblings seemed to have come to an agreement. Tatewaki had changed his mind, declaring that Kodachi could marry Ranma, provided that Kuno himself could marry the pig-tailed girl without any objections/murder attempts by his sister. Kodachi had apparently agreed, and the two had made a time of tag-teaming Ranma, again depending on if he was a boy or a girl. Akane insisted that he was leading Kodachi on. Mallet-sama agreed.
Ryoga and Mousse had teamed up again, and stalked him at uneven times during school. Only Ryoga's ability to get lost kept Ranma from being stalked all day. They attacked him whenever Ryoga could find him, and there were no less than fifteen brawls between the three of them before the end of the school day. Akane and her mallet greeted him at the end of each fight. "Quit picking on poor Ryoga!"
Principal Kuno had lined the halls with fake palm trees. Random ones had motion-detecting pineapple mines in them.
Soun and Genma had ambushed him twice at school, trying to force him to marry Akane.
Seven, yes, seven occurrences of Happosai splashing him with water and latching onto Ranma-chan's chest. Twice he had been accompanied by Cologne, who had once tried to shove the Forever Love Pill down his throat while waving a picture of Shampoo in front of his face (how she had found the octopus that had swallowed it, and gotten it out, Ranma didn't want to know), and the other time, she that damn Contrary Jewel again.
Pantyhose Taro had shown up as well, with Herb and his two lackeys, Lime and Mint. Turned out that Happosai had several crimes against him in the Musk Kingdom as well, and the Dragon Prince and Taro had come to the conclusion that the best way to find Happosai was through Ranma. How they had come to this conclusion, no one was quite sure.
Ranma had taken to punting P-chan every time he spotted the pig as a form of stress relief (This also resulted in malletings from Akane).
Shampoo had actually glued herself to Ranma. The less said about her behavior when removal from her Airen was impossible, the better. It took an hour before Ranma realized that Shampoo was glued to his clothes, and not him. Akane's mallet got a good workout.
When he had (finally!) gotten home, the hot water heater was busted, the kettle had been stolen by Herb, and two more fiancées had shown up (Akane's mallet and Akane's temper both blamed him, of course), and his mother had decided that Ranma would marry Akane, and all the others were to be his mistresses.
And his girl-form would marry that nice, traditional Kuno boy.
So now, Ranma was on the roof, trying his very best to calm down. His mother, not understanding that it was her act that had been the final straw in what had to be the very worst day of Ranma's life, was unsuccessfully trying to help him calm down. Of course, her occasional drift into comments about manliness, and all his mistresses, were not helping at all.
And now, his aura blazing with power he normally kept repressed, he turned to face his mother, who flinched at the look being directed her way. She was pretty sure that a person's eyes were not supposed to glow like that.
"My son, perhaps it is time for you to come back inside, and have some tea, while we discuss whatever it is that is bothering you. Whatever it is, I am sure I can help you solve…"
Ranma was suddenly in front of her. Nodoka hadn't even blinked, but he was less than two feet from her face, when before he had been across the length of the roof.
"You?" he hissed, self control on the verge of breaking. His voice sounded like a kettle starting to boil over, and it unnerved his mother more than she would have thought possible. "Help me? That's a laugh, mother. Why don't you go back inside, where you can daydream about more ways you and that fat bastard you married can fuck up my life and my honor against my wishes? Get the hell off the roof and away from me, before I take that rusted piece of steel you call a sword, and snap it between my fingers!"
Ranma took several deep, calming breaths, trying to get control over himself.
"Shouldn't have done that," he mumbled to himself. "She's my mother, and she was only trying to help. Can't go off on people like that, ain't the way a martial artist is supposed to be-"
"Bullshit," snorted a voice behind him. Ranma whirled, his aura roaring back to life around his body, dropping into a stance that was mostly offensive, showing his intention to want to cause lots of probably brutal injuries on whatever person was going to be foolish enough to continue wrecking what was left of his day.
"Whoa, whoa! Down boy! Just… just take it easy, alright? No need for violence here, ok?" The speaker was a woman, Ranma guessed her age to be anywhere from 17 to 25. It was hard to determine, like she was whatever age range she wanted you to think she was. Her hair was long, and wavy, falling down just past her waist in blonde locks. Her skin was a pale shade, showing very little wear, and looking youthful, and healthy, despite that being so pale gave Ranma the impression that she really, really needed to get out in the sun more often. Her eyes were a strange shade of brown, looking almost red.
She was dressed like a biker slut from hell. Leather adorned most of her body. Where there wasn't leather, there was skin. There was no in between. Two long slashes decorated the space between her eyebrows, climbing slightly diagonal up her forehead, almost like a large 'V' that had been pulled apart at the bottom. Something about her seemed to radiate… not precisely evil, simply a very negative feeling, like the polar opposite of what one felt when standing close to a holy shrine.
It was also true she looked absolutely terrified that Ranma was looking at her in a manner that suggested that he might want to hurt her. A lot.
"What. Do. You. Want?" Ranma snapped, looking for all the world like he'd rather be asking her that question while ramming someone's head into a wall. Preferably hers.
"H-Hey! Tone down the hostility a little! I'm just here to talk. Maybe we can even help each other out." Ranma advanced on her, hovering scant inches from the woman's face. She took a few steps backward, until she found herself pressed into the small fireplace chimney. Ranma was still right there, still looking pissed off. A rumble issued from his throat, sounding like he was growling at her.
"N-name's Mara," she choked out, in a small, squeaky voice. Her voice grew tiny, as if she feared that loud noises might provoke him. "Don't kill me…" she whimpered.
At the word kill, Ranma seemed to collapse a bit. His shoulders slumped, and his battle aura vanished. "Alright," he said, sighing. "How much are you?"
Mara gaped at him. "What!" she demanded, looking shocked. What the hell did he think she was? A hooker!
"Your cost. What was the dowry for you? What did Pops scam you an' your parents out of?"
"What are you talking about…? Oh, wait, never mind, I remember your file now. No, no, I'm not your fiancée. I'm here for something else." Whoa, wrong answer there, girl.
Ranma's battle aura flared up even more brilliantly than before. "So, then. You're out for my head, too, eh? Well, come on, I'll show you what yer up against!" He dropped into a ready stance, glaring at the girl as if sizing her up as a punching bag. "I don't normally hit girls, but trust me, today seems to be a day for breaking rules!"
Mara did the only thing sensible that she could. She fainted.
When Mara woke, she was still on the roof. However, a pillow was under her head, a blanket covered her body, and a damp washcloth was pressed against her forehead. Wha…?
"Oh, you're awake. Sorry about threatening you and all earlier, but it's… been a long day. You were the closest person who seemed to be adding to it when I wanted to hit back, and I kinda thought about taking it all out on you. Sorry 'bout that."
Mara turned her head, looking over at the speaker of the voice. Saotome Ranma sat next to her, propped up against the chimney, and watching over her with a concerned expression. It would have been a little bit more helpful, however, if his battle aura wasn't flickering at the edges of his body. In one hand was a small ball Ranma gripped over and over, causing it to bulge farther than Mara had ever seen before. Stress balls, aren't they called?
She sat up, the washcloth falling off of her head, and pulling the blanket down. "It's fine. Bad day, right?"
The stress ball bulged to ridiculous proportions, then, with a pop! split into two pieces. "The worst," Ranma agreed, tilting his head back and looking up at the sky. "You alright? You fell before I could catch ya."
Mara blinked in surprise at the remains of the stress ball. I always thought they were filled with some kind of liquid… "Fine, fine. Thanks for, um, taking care of me." Mara finished sitting up, and folded the blanket.
"So, uh, Mara, right? Before I went off on you, you said we might be able to help each other out. What do ya mean?"
"I," Mara stated smugly, "am Mara, Demon First Class." She waited.
There was a long pause, filled with silence, and the sound of a cricket chirping. Then…
"'Ok'! That's it? No, 'You're a demon!' No, 'Are you serious?' No, 'GET BACK, VILE THING, YOU CAN'T HAVE MY SOUL!'?"
"Would you feel better if I panicked and hit you?" Ranma asked, looking at Mara as if she had lost her mind.
"No. Those are just the reactions I'm used to," Mara said, sweatdropping. She really should have looked over the whole file instead of just skimming the past couple of months if he hadn't even blinked in surprise at having a first-class demon show up in front of him. What kind of life exactly did he lead? Was his life filled with crazy people?
A dozen people in Japan and China promptly sneezed.
"So," Ranma said, leaning back with a sigh. "What do you want with me?"
"Not your soul," Mara said promptly. Even is they'd covered that point already, it was a force of habit to say it again. "What I propose is a kind of trade."
"How so?" Ranma said, eying Mara cautiously. Experiences of this kind of conversation with Nabiki had long since taught him to be paranoid.
Mara frowned, but not at anything that seemed obvious to Ranma (not that he was the most observant person in the first place). "The world system has crashed," the first-class demoness stated, as if everyone should know what the hell that was. "Now, with Yygdrasil down, the primary power of all deities and infernal beings has dropped, leaving us all on our secondaries, assuming they are nearby and in good supply. Without-"
"Whoa, whoa," Ranma cut her off. "Ygg-what? Infernal who? Power supply? Second whatsis? World system?"
Mara paused, and then groaned, realizing that she'd forgotten for a moment that she was talking to a mere mortal. "Ok, you know what a computer is, right?"
"Yeah. Nabiki's got one," Ranma said, his face darkening for a moment at the mention of the middle Tendo sister. His fist clenched on one of the remaining halves of the stress ball. Mara blinked at it again. She'd never seen someone squeeze one to pieces before…
"Ok, you know what a program is, then?"
Ranma scratched his head idly. "Well…" He crossed his arms, and frowned, and wrinkled his brow, and sniffed, and did several other things that indicated he was thinking about it, but this author does not wish to record. "I once was at a hospital when I was thirteen. Pops got hurt when we were training, and one of the nurses showed me this big computer that they had, and it monitored all the patients heart beats and stuff, and sent out warnings if something went wrong, or if it was time for a person's medicine or a new IV, or if the equipment was starting to fail in someone's room. She said it was the program that watched everything, but the program lived in the computer."
The demoness gaped at Ranma for a moment, but recovered. "Good, good. What else do you know?" Hopefully, he knows enough so that he can grasp the explanation…
"I wanted to know more, but Pops said that learning about that stuff would distract me from the Art."
Mara groaned. Figures. "Riiiight. Well, Yygdrasil is the name of Heaven's computer, ok?" Ranma nodded. Mara continued. "Right, well, Yygdrasil does a lot of the kind of things you just described. Mostly, it monitors and watches over deities, like Gods and Goddesses, and infernal beings, like Demons and Demonesses, like me." She opened her mouth to explain how it also checked into the state of the planet, and the entire universe itself, along with the spirits and guardians of Earth, and total slews of the power of the System, and the Ultimate Force, but then realized that Ranma would probably get lost faster than Ryoga inside a hedge maze. "Well, it does a lot of other things, but let's just deal with what's important right now, ok?"
"Yygdrasil supplies power to deities and infernal beings, since we're away from our homes, Heaven for the Gods, and Nifelheim for the Demons. It keeps us alive, since we're not where we usually are. We don't eat or drink, because we don't need to. We can, but it's not necessary. We're not made out of the same stuff that you normal human beings are, so it stands to reason that we don't require the same things to stay alive, right? You following me so far?"
"Ehhh… Gods and Demons don't eat food and drink water to live, cause they ain't human, so Yygdra… Yyg…"
"Yeah that, pipes them whatever they need to live when they're not in Heaven."
"That place," Ranma agreed, "like a… heavenly and demonic IV line, 'cause food and water aren't what you need to stay alive."
"Great!" Mara said, thankful Ranma understood so far. "Now, that computer in the hospital you were talking about? The one that watched people's IVs, and things like that?"
Ranma nodded again, showing that he was listening.
"Ok, if you did something to it, like… accidentally spilled some water on it, and it broke, what would happen to the patients when it came time for new IVs?"
"They wouldn't get new ones. Hey, people could get sick, or die or something!"
"Excellent, so you see my point. Yygdrasil, the World System, crashed. It's not working right now, so my 'IV line' that keeps me going-"
"You're not gonna drop dead on me are ya?" Ranma asked suddenly worried. Mara suddenly found herself flat on her back, and the blanket was back over here, and Ranma was hovering inches from her face. "I don't want anybody dying!" he insisted. "You just tell me what you need, and I'll get it for you. Do you have a fever or anything? You need some medicine?" He leaned forward, and pressed his forehead against hers, comparing the temperatures. "You don't seem to have a fever, but-"
"GAHH!" Mara burst out from under the blanket, blushing hard from having Ranma's face so close to hers. I am not embarrassed! First-class demons do NOT get embarrassed! I'm just… startled. Yeah, that's all just startled cause some cute guy was worrying over me, and was about an inch away from making out with me, with big blue eyes, and-
"GAHH!" Mara said again. "Stupid brain!"
"Sick people shouldn't run around," Ranma insisted from behind her, and once again Mara was trapped under the blanket and with her head on the pillow. From seemingly nowhere, Ranma pulled a thermometer, and shoved it into her mouth. "What's a normal temperature for you?" he asked.
Mara spat the thermometer at him. "The same as for you, and I'm NOT SICK!"
"Well, excuse me, you said that your IV line had been pulled!" the martial artist shot back.
"I was trying to give you an IDEA of what it was like!" Mara snapped, kicking the blanket off. "Yygdrasil's been down for almost a year! It's so complicated, that it just takes that long to fix! Its probably gonna be another six months before its up and running again!"
"Well, if your power's not coming to ya, then why are you still up and around?" Ranma asked, looking annoyed.
Mara sighed. "Ok, back to the IV thing. You realize that this is just an analogy, right? I'm giving it something you can relate to, to understand."
"Whatever," Ranma grumped. "But yeah, I get it."
"Ok. The 'IV lines' from the World System are what keeps us going. But if it goes down, for any reason, then just in case, deities and infernals can gain power from other sources. It's like comparing small doses of medicine to an IV line. The 'medicine' is enough to keep me going, but the line is what keeps me at full power (Well, almost. Overdoing it makes me pass out). For me, the 'medicine' from which I can draw power, is sleeping."
Ranma blinked in surprise. "Sleeping?"
Mara nodded. "Yes. When I sleep, I slowly recharge, drawing in minor amounts of energy from around me. But I can drain it fast, very fast, if I'm not cautious. And if I drain it, then I'll pass right out. I'll drain it just by being awake, like right now, and have to sleep eventually, but the more stuff I do, the sooner it will be, and it's not always by choice. I slept for a week solid just to be able to hold this conversation with you. You follow?"
"Yeah, I get it. Without the big computer to give you energy, you have to nap a lot. And sometimes you'll need to so bad that you'll just collapse somewhere."
"Glad to see you got it. Now, because my other power source is sleeping, that means I have to be asleep a great deal. If it was something else, I'd have to keep a lot of it around, but it's not. And when I'm asleep, I'm defenseless."
"Other sources?" Ranma asked, confused.
"Sleeping is just one of many ways we can draw power," Mara explained. "You see, we can only draw from one, and some of them can get strange, and totally assigned at random. I know three Goddess sisters, for example, whose respective other energy sources are alcohol, sleeping, and ice cream."
Ranma burst out laughing. "Ice cream… ice cream…" he droned in a zombie-like fashion, imagining a girl who absolutely needed to scarf down a carton of Rocky Road.
Mara snickered at what was actually a really good imitation of the second-class Goddess Skuld during her off moments. "Right, so, in order to charge up properly, I need sleep, lots and lots of sleep. But, as a martial artist, when you sleep for three days straight, and you're only awake for a couple of hours on the fourth…" she drifted off.
"You're vulnerable," Ranma finished.
"Bingo," Mara declared. "Normally, I'd just wait the six months for the system to come back online, but word came down from the higher ups. All demons still on earth and not involved in a definitive contract are to report back to Nifelheim immediately, by any means necessary. We're to report back, and devote all resources to getting our portion of Yygdrasil running, that way the Gods can get the whole system up a little faster."
"Ok," Ranma said, nodding, and giving the half of the ball another little squeeze. "So… what's this got to do with me?"
"Ah, well, I need your help to get back home."
The pig-tailed martial artist stared. "And I'm able to do that… how?"
Mara smirked. "I checked up on your file." Well, actually, I checked A LOT of files, but you're the best one to help… "You see, by now, you should have been granted a wish. It's marked in your file to have it offered to you. But with Yygdrasil down, neither Heaven nor Nifelheim can offer one to you, because we'd have no way of granting it, nor of enforcing it."
"Wish?" Ranma asked, confused.
"It's how Heaven and Nifelheim compete, really," Mara explained. "Heaven offers one wish to people of certain aspects or qualities, and Nifelheim offers wishes to people of our choosing by our standards. Neither side chooses, shall we say, evil people, because they have a tendency to wish for world domination, or something like that. Instead, we both choose good (relatively) people, and grant them a wish. Heaven finds a kind person down on their luck, feeling depressed, and offers. We find someone who is essentially good, but wants more control over their life, and we offer. Basically, we all go after the same kind of people, but based on what the motivations are for their wish, Heaven or Nifelheim grants it."
"Ok… so… Heaven or Nifelheim would have offered me a wish…"
"Nifelheim, actually. It's marked for us," Mara said helpfully.
Ranma blinked slowly, trying to make sure he understood everything so far. "So… when the system is working again, you guys would offer me a wish… Like, for anything?"
"Close. There are some things we try to avoid granting. World domination, horrible disease outbreaks, becoming a God, things like that," the demoness replied, propping herself up against the chimney again.
Ranma nodded, understanding why demons wouldn't want to go about turning normal people into the competition. "So, I get a wish when the system starts. Why are you here now?"
"It'll be, like I said, at least another six months before we have Yygdrasil running again. You want to wait another half a year in this place?"
As if in response, from somewhere below came a scream of "I DON'T CARE WHAT THAT BAKA DOES! I'M NOT MARRYING HIM!"
"But Akane, daughter…" came Soun Tendo's plea.
The half-stress ball exploded. Ranma angrily snatched up the second remaining half, and started squeezing.
"Yeah," Mara muttered under her breath, "that'd be a 'no' right there." She cleared her throat, and waited for Ranma to calm down a little before continuing.
"So then, Ranma, since it's going to be a while before we can offer you your wish, I've come here with an alternative. We're rather pressed for time, as I'm going to need to go to sleep soon, so your decision needs to be made fast. Sorry, but that's just the way it is."
Ranma frowned, but asked anyway. "So what's the offer?"
"Alright," Mara said, leaning forward to make sure she had Ranma's full attention. "Here's the deal. I need to get back to Nifelheim, the sooner, the better. But, the power required to pull open a portal home is tremendous." Gods and Goddesses are so lucky, since they are host to the Yygdrasil computer, they can go home anytime they want with the system down. For them, it's the return to Earth that's almost impossible. For us demons, it's the other way around. "I'd have to rest for a year before I'd have a big enough charge to open it. So, it's either sleep for a year, which would be pointless and dangerous, since the system would be up by then, or it's go around as usual until the system returns online. And of course, both options would pretty much be disobeying my boss' orders."
Ranma blinked, scratching his head. "So… What's the plan, then?"
Mara smirked. "Option number three, of course. I find a nice, powerful human to play host for me until I charge up, and in return, I give him some help fixing his life."
"How so?" Ranma sounded interested. Fixing his life sounded good. There was the whole 'play host to a demon' thing, though…
"Simple. With a wish, the Yygdrasil system brings into play a program called 'The Ultimate Force.' The Ultimate Force literally makes the world around you conform to your wish. You wish to stay a boy even though your curse changes you into a girl? The Ultimate Force would keep you that way, even if it meant heating up the all the water at the beach to keep from triggering the curse. When we say 'Ultimate,' we mean it."
"But you said I can't get a wish now," Ranma countered. "So what's the point of that?"
"Well, here's where the deal comes in. You play host to me, and in return, I contract with you." Mara waited for this to sink in, preparing to answer the questions she knew would come.
"How would I play host to you? Like, possession?" Ranma didn't exactly look too thrilled about the prospect, not that Mara could blame him for it.
"In a manner of speaking. You'd be you still, but I just need a place to be where no one can find me, and I can rest without anything bothering me. So, I'd live inside of you."
"Inside me?" Ranma looked properly horrified at the concept.
"Not literally. I'd just…" The demoness paused, trying to figure out a way to explain this in terms the martial artist could understand. "You know about ki and astral bodies?"
"Yeah, I'm good at ki manipulation," Ranma said, puffing up a little. "And Doc Tofu explained about astral stuff a little after he learned about my curse." (1)
Mara nodded, thankful that he had some learning in that direction. "Well, for lack of a better term, I'm going to change my body completely over to an astral body, and hide myself inside yours, and latching onto your physical body through your ki. It won't hurt you, it's just a way to make sure I stay with you at all times, and keeps me from being found." It was as technical as Mara thought she could get without making him confused. She wasn't really going to go completely astral, but the demoness got the impression that if she brought up the topic of molecular deconstruction and multi-dimensional physics coupled with magical interfaces, Ranma's head might explode.
"And what do I get outta this?" Ranma asked, seemingly placated with her response.
"Simple. I send you back in time to when you arrived here, slightly changing your moral/ethical set to one less… hmm… shall we say, one less open to coercion and manipulation?"
"Co… eh? Send me back in time? You don't even have the power to go home, but you're gonna send me back a year?" Ranma looked confused, but made a good point.
"Contracts aren't completely powered by the Yygdrasil System and the Ultimate Force. Wishes are, but contracts absorb power from the immediate area."
Little birdies swarmed around Ranma's head, pecking at his skull. "Eh?"
Mara sighed. "It's like talking to a brick wall… The contract will work, because demonic contracts will absorb energy from the surrounding area to work." Mara had undersimplified, but the full explanation didn't even have the necessary words in Japanese to explain it with. But Ranma nodded, thankfully grasping that simple explanation.
"So… what was that part about morals and stuff?" Ranma asked, relaxing by laying down on the tiles of the roof.
"Simple," the demoness replied, reclining next to him. "The biggest problem when it comes to getting rid of all these problems of yours, it you."
"It's true, Saotome Ranma. These people around you play you like a damn violin. All that they have to do it use the word 'honor' and you jump like a trained puppy. I've seen it. Honor keeps you from pushing away Kuonji Ukyo. Am I wrong?
"Honor keeps you from pushing away Xain Pu. Am I wrong?
"Honor keeps you from telling off the Tendos Akane, Nabiki, and Soun. Am I wrong?"
"Honor makes you lie about Ryoga and his curse. Am I wrong?
"If you could, you'd do the same thing back to them! But there's a problem… You're far too honorable a person to do to them what they're doing to you. Am I wrong?"
In the silence that followed, there was nothing… except for the sounds of the people below them, taking out their frustrations or placing their blame… on Ranma.
Ranma ground his teeth… and the final half of the stress ball didn't pop… it detonated.
"The problem isn't anything you can beat, or overcome with a new martial art technique, because the problem isn't something else, the problem is, and always has been… you. Nothing more, and nothing less. I've known saints who would have pushed back by now. You'd turn a blind eye to murder if the killer swore upon his honor that he'd never do it again! I'd've vaporized someone, and killed off the witnesses by now! In the name of the Mother of all things big and small, I swear if this was happening to her boyfriend, Belldandy wouldn't have put up with this! She'd have gone on the offensive, and knocked someone to the moon! (2) And you," Mara snapped, sitting up and waving an accusing finger at Ranma, "sitting there, taking so much abuse, like there's nothing you can do about it!"
Ranma rolled up and sat in front of Mara, seething. "There ISN'T anything I can do about it! These people have got me so far into a corner, I can't see the way out anymore! The only exits are smaller corners than the one I'm in!"
"BULLSHIT!" Mara shot back. "There are solutions, you just won't take them, or your over-tuned sense of honor and your don't-wanna-hurt-anyone attitude can't see them!"
Ranma snarled, aura building at the edges of his body. "And what am I supposed to do then, huh? You tell me! There's no way out! Can't pick someone, at least two others lose honor, not counting myself! No matter who I pick, family honor goes down the drain, personal honor goes down the drain! Pick Akane, Ukyo gets disowned or commits seppuku, or kills me and Akane. Shampoo goes back to her village, where she'll either get locked into her curse, or be killed! Pick Ukyo, same thing happens to Shampoo, the whole of the Tendo family loses honor! Pick Shampoo, the Tendos lose honor, and that stuff happens to Ukyo anyway! And none of them make me happy! Not to mention the psychotic 'rivals' that would all be after my head! No way out, no solutions, nothing! I AM TRAPPED!"
"Not trapped. There's one way out. My way," Mara said, voice dropping down to a hiss. "Contract with me," she whispered, leaning over him until she was inches from his face. "Take the chance. Relive your life. Make your own choices, take what you want, and give them nothing in return." Mara settled back, removing herself from Ranma's personal space. "But, know this. I'm not forcing you. I can't make you do it. This has to be your choice, and yours alone. If you want, I'll sit here for the next…" The demoness consulted her watch. "…thirty minutes, and answer any questions you have, explain everything about the contract you want to know, but after that, my powers are drained, and I have to sleep. When I do, I'm going back into hiding, and I'm not coming back. Take my hand, and as long as you hold it, I will be bound to tell you the truth, with no falsehoods, no holding back, and no manipulations." Mara held out her hand, waiting.
Silence descended upon the two, lasting one minute, then two. Finally, Ranma spoke. "So… you're going to screw with my head?" he asked, gripping her hand in his.
Mara relaxed a little. "Not exactly. You'll still be you. No memories taken, no change but for one. It's your own morals and ethics that are the problem. You're so hell-bent on not hurting anyone, that you won't make a move. It's as if you're playing shogi with a Master of the game, and through some sick twist of fate, no matter what move you make, save one, you know you'll win, but it would be a slap in the face for his pride. Move, you win, but he loses face. Don't move, nothing changes. All you can do is nothing, moving the same pieces the same way, in an eternal stalemate, unable to make that one move that gives you the game and victory, and unable to shuffle the board into a configuration that will let him win, and salvage his pride. The game lasts forever, because he can't win, and you won't win. But this is where you and I differ."
Ranma sat forward, interested. "Tell me," he said in a quiet voice, almost lost in the dark.
"You won't make the move, because to you, it's dishonorable to take his pride. To me, taking the game from the Master is the sweetest victory to be had. Even if it's a fluke of play. He could crush me forever more in every game to pass, but the one… the one would always be mine. And I wouldn't let him play me again. The last game, my first victory… and his final defeat. That, you see… is how you truly win. To take the victory, and never give him the opportunity to let him claim it from you. The game is yours, now and forever."
And in Ranma's mind, he found the missing solution to his problems, the way out he could never see, the path lost in the darkness, the opening in his enemy's defense, and the chance to be free that his honor had denied him…
…and with it, the horror of realization that he had missed it, and was gone from his grasp. The game had been in play for far too long, that eternal stalemate was inevitable.
The demoness' words had played true, he saw. We'll be here until the end, trapped in a game of our own design, with no victories, no losses… Now and forever.
One path remained. The untried solution that sat across from him, hand in his, waiting for his next question. Unlying, truthful… using him for her own end, yes, but offering him something just as equal in return.
The contract was simple, Ranma saw. Give to me that which I need above all things, a place to be until I can go home, and I shall give to you, that what you've always wanted.
Mara waited, while the expressions ran through Ranma's face. And carried to her, as if it was an illusion that wasn't real, but for the movement of his lips, was one word.
And as they began to close the distance between them, as Mara's body grew insubstantial, and transparent, somehow swirling and melting into his, Ranma managed one more question.
"Whose morals will I have?"
And before his sight left him, and unconsciousness began to claim his mind, her answer filled his ears…
Then consciousness was somehow shoved back into his mind, as Mara's body was forcefully propelled backwards with the strength of a rocket. She careened wildly in the air, finally catching herself on the roof tiles.
"Hey, you ok?" Ranma asked, rushing over to the fallen demoness.
"Yeah, fine," Mara grumbled. "Dammit, boy, what kind of protection against demons have you got on you?"
Ranma blinked in surprise. "Didn't think I had any at all. And if I do, I don't know about it. I've had to fight a couple of oni before, and nothing seemed to help me against them."
Mara glanced at him again, squinting, as she sat back up. "Urgh… felt like trying to possess Urd."
"Well, um…" Not sure who 'Urd' was, or why 'Urd' would be difficult to possess, Ranma simply opted for asking, "So… what were you trying to do? That way we can figure out what went wrong."
Mara finished sitting up, crossing her legs. "I was… you know anything about the chakra points?"
Ranma paused, thinking. "Yeah, some. A couple of the temples Pops and I visited when we were on the road insisted on meditation while we were there, and they told me about it. Every time I asked Pops about it, he insisted that it was something I didn't need to know about, and not to look into mine."
"Uh-huh. And when was this?"
"Ano… I was about eleven or twelve, I guess."
"Riiiiiight…" And I bet I know why, given what I know about your fat father. "Stand up straight. I want to check your chakra points."
"You think something's wrong with them?" Ranma asked, climbing to his feet.
"Doesn't hurt to check," the demoness replied, though she was pretty sure she was right. Either Saotome Ranma had the iron control of God over his libido, or something was keeping him from reacting. Most men at least involuntarily dropped their eyes after seeing Mara's idea of 'normal clothes.' Mara had worn them in an effort to put Ranma slightly off, and a Ranma would didn't want to look at you properly was one who was less likely to attack. Yet Ranma didn't seem to even notice her clothes, other that a cursory examination, which could be described as clinical, at best.
Her hand passed over the top of Ranma's head, feeling seemingly nothing.
"What are the chakra points exactly? I don't remember the details anymore."
"The control, for lack of a better term, of a human's 'balance' over their self." A simple answer, for a simple person, she reasoned.
"Balance is key," Ranma said, and relaxed a little. "You think mine could be off balance?"
"Could be… Chakra seven's a little slow… but I don't think that's it."
"Could you… like, speed it up?" Ranma seemed to be very uncomfortable with the concept of some part of himself (or herself, as they case might have been) being out of alignment. Must come from the almost obsessive martial artist mentality, Mara thought to herself.
"Yeah," I'd prefer to have them open anyway. Makes the contract that much easier to work. There was a dull pop sound that seemed to come from right over Ranma's head.
"Feel dizzy," he mumbled, swaying a little. "Feels like I just popped my ears after climbing a mountain."
"Give it a moment, it'll pass," Mara informed him. She brought her hand down to just over his forehead, and concentrated again. "Chakra six is fine…" she said, bringing her hand down to over his throat. "Same with Chakra five." Details would only confuse him. Besides, they're moving as I would expect for someone like him. Chakra seven almost looks as though someone managed to deliberately slow it down… but why would someone want to slow down the chakra of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, spiritual connection, and bliss?
"Chakra four," Mara said, not voicing out loud her thoughts as her hand dropped to the middle of Ranma's chest, "is… wow… someone's screwed this one right to hell." No wonder I wouldn't 'merge' with him… a chakra system this out of balance would be like trying to listen to the radio while in an underground bunker with no antennae.
"What the hell does that mean?" Ranma snapped, his good mood seemingly broken and his long-dormant temper resurfacing again.
"It means that someone has been interfering with your chakra system. Your chakra points help balance your 'self,' your conscious mind. For lack of a better way to explain it-" To you, anyway… "-they help to govern what makes you you. Deliberately messing with them is stupid at best, and a vague form of mind control at worst." If it didn't outright kill you.
"Chakra point four here is related to love and is the integrator of opposites, yin and yang, into the psyche. Mind and Body. Male and Female. Ego and Unity."
Ranma seemed to be… thinking about it. "Could it be my curse? Since my stupid Jusenkyo curse turns me into a girl, could that have screwed it up?"
"No," Mara said, concentrating harder. "This has been messed up for several years. If anything, this is in better condition than it should be, and I'd say it's because of your curse." The demoness paused in thought, and then said "Tell me, do you seem to attract water, cold water, triggering your curse more than anyone else? Other people with Jusenkyo curses, I mean."
"Yeah," Ranma grumbled. "Pops don't ever seem to get hit, unless he's near me, or I had something to do with it. Or unless he's doing it to hide, on purpose. Mousse and Shampoo are always human, usually." And Ryoga's the same way. Nine times out of ten when he shows up, he's human; it's just the one when he shows up as the stupid pig that really pisses me off. Occasionally, they get hit, but not like I do. Hell, Shampoo and Mousse even go to the beach in swimwear, and I go as a girl to begin with, since I know I won't stay dry.
Mara nodded. "That'd be it. Your own chakra system in interfacing… sorry, your chakra system is working with your curse, trying to bring point four back into a proper balance. As a result, water actually seeks you out, trying to make you spend as much time as possible as a girl in order to bring stability to your body."
"You mean the reason I'm a water magnet is because someone went and screwed with my chi and my curse is trying to fix it!" Ranma bellowed.
"Yes," Mara said, shaking head to clear it of the new ringing sound Ranma had induced. "Your curse is using chakra point two, which is related to the element of water (among other things), to seek out the change the curse brings. It's also causing interference in establishing the contract. Want me to clear it out?" Good thing it's so easy and takes almost no power. We've got a little time yet.
"Please," Ranma said. Mara placed her hand back over the center of his chest, and readied herself. "This may feel a little strange," she warned.
"I'm used to strange," Ranma muttered. Mara just raised an eyebrow.
"Holy…" Ranma said, wobbling. He fell back with a thump. "That was worse than the first one."
"Yes, well, that was in much worse condition that the first. Shall we continue?" Mara held out a hand, and Ranma took it, climbing to his feet again.
"Hey, does this mean I won't be a water magnet anymore?"
"A little," Mara said, "but only as much as anyone else cursed like you. Can't remove it completely."
"I can live with that," Ranma said. "I feel… I dunno… kinda funny."
"Your chakra is balancing. It may take a few hours to finish," Mara informed him.
"Anyway to speed it up?"
Mara shrugged. She knew enough to get by on. Human bodies weren't her specialty. She was more of an I-know-a-little-about-everything kind of demon. She placed a hand over Ranma's solar plexus.
(A/N For those who don't know, the solar plexus is a dense cluster of nerve cells and supporting tissue, located behind the stomach just below the diaphragm. Hitting people here is good… if you want to hurt them. Don't really go around hitting people here.)
"Chakra three… hmm…" Mara squinted at the sport between Ranma and her hand.
"What? What?" Ranma demanded. "That one blocked too?"
"No… working well. Really well." Mara stared at him. "You must heal pretty fast." And I bet you're stubborn as hell, too.
"Of course!" Ranma said.
And how totally full of pride that sounds…
"Hey!" Ranma said, stepping back.
"That IS where chakra point two is located," Mara said.
"Yeah, but Shampoo grabs there enough! I don't need anyone else grabbing on!" Ranma snapped.
"And does it… bother you?" She asked, somehow fearing the answer.
"Of course it does!"
"Anything… else? Does it do… anything else to you?" Please don't let him say no…
"Like what?" Ranma asked, sounding vaguely confused.
"Like… anything! Anything at all!"
"No! I just hate it when she thinks she can just grab me like that! It feels strange," Ranma said, looking annoyed. "Hey, stop hitting your head against the roof, you're gonna hurt yourself."
AUGH! The man's got the sex drive of a rock and the emotional range of a dead battery! Chakra two is sealed up tighter than Hild-sama's purse the day before the horse races!
"Ok, Ranma listen up. Chakra two is blocked. I mean really blocked. Like someone was trying to shut it off. You with me so far?"
Ranma blinked in surprise at the attitude change in the girl in front of him. "Uh, yeah. So can't we just… open it? Like the other two?"
Mara sighed. "Yes, but this one isn't just slow, or sluggish. This one is practically shut down. When it's open, it's going to backlash." And I, for one, am not going to be the only female within sight when Mr. Martial Artist here gets-
"Backlash? What do you mean? Am I gonna go crazy?" Ranma paced the roof, concern written in his face. Control was important, very much to, to him, as a martial artist.
"Crazy? No. Look, Saotome Ranma, Chakra two controls… well, let's just say it controls emotional identity and, ah, self-gratification."
"Self-what?" Ranma stopped pacing to turn a confused look at the demoness.
"Your sex drive, Saotome. Which, I might add, has been locked away for probably years, and I'm not going to be nearby when four or five years worth of hormones decide to run rampant."
Ranma had the dignity to blush.
"So, either you go and knock yourself out to keep from jumping me, or I pop the chakra point and run- I WAS KIDDING!" Mara said, glaring at the now unconscious form of Saotome Ranma.
Ranma woke an hour later, and was rather disgusted to discover that the first sounds he heard upon awakening were that of the Tendo family (and his father) still ranting on inside the house. As he sat up, he felt someone stir next to him. Looking over, he found Mara, the demoness, waking.
"Oh, good," she said, yawning. She had decided to nap until Ranma woke. "I took the liberty of opening point two, and checking point one after you-" she frowned "-knocked yourself out. Point one was fine, by the way. I want you to know, I was joking when I said that."
"You could have said that sooner," Ranma grumbled.
"How was I supposed to know you'd go and knock yourself out?" Mara shot back. "I can't think of any possible reason for you to go about punching yourself in the face."
"Yeah, well…" the martial artist sulked, apparently at a loss for words. "We gonna try it again?"
"Ready when you are," Mara said dryly. Ranma promptly rolled to his feet, and offered Mara a hand up. She took it, and stretched a little before preparing the spell again.
"Shall we?" she said, and began advancing towards him without waiting for an answer. Her body became insubstantial again, like fog, but somehow not like fog at all. Ranma stood his ground, even as she seemed to press against him, but he felt no pressure of any kind. His skin felt cold where she came into contact, before she actually started sinking into his body. Ranma shuddered at the feeling, idly noticing that he wasn't feeling like he was getting knocked out this time. When less than half of Mara's body could be seen outside of Ranma, there was a dull poof sound, and she vanished completely.
-What are you doing in here!- bellowed Mara's angry voice from inside his head. Ranma clapped his hands over his ears, not that it seemed to help.
-What am I doing here?- answered another voice, one that Ranma didn't recognize. What are you doing here!
-This is my contract, jerk! Get out-
-This is my contract! I've been here for years!-
What the hell is going on! Ranma thought in panic, as the voices in his head continued bickering.
-… was contracted for him!-
-Well, I was contracted by him by himself! My contract takes priority, so buzz off! You've probably been stuck in here with his chakra sealed up like it was! You've got enough power to get home, and I know you've got the means to do it, so GET OUT!-
And Ranma watched/knew/felt in a strange fascination, watching as Mara readied it, knowing exactly how it was being done, feeling the precise way to shape it, and then-
-HELLFIRE THUNDER BLAST!-
"Holy shit, that was cool!" he said, and something was forcefully flung from him. He caught sight of something dark, twisted, and somehow familiar as it burst into the sky above him, then disappeared into a swirl of energy.
"Mara?" he asked, concerned. "What the hell was that?"
-A little too much… power in that hit…-
"Mara?" Ranma said, a little louder. "What the hell was that thing!"
-Don't worry… I'll… just sleep a little… first gotta… CONTRACT!-
Ranma dropped to his knees, grinding his teeth to keep from screaming. It went on and on, his body, his mind was on fire from the inside out and it was burning him and it didn't stop-
-Talk to you… later… time portal opens… a week… needs to… charge…-
"That hurt," Ranma hissed.
-No pain… no gain… right? Enjoy… you new… outlook on life… Saotome Ranma…-
"Urgh," Ranma grunted, falling back on his backside, and rubbing his head with his hands.
Then there was silence, as somewhere inside of Ranma, Mara slept.
"Ite…" Ranma groaned. He looked down at his hands…
They were different, Ranma realized. But at the same time, nothing had changed about them. He looked up.
The whole world seemed to be… new. And at the same time, nothing had changed.
It all looks so…
I could crush everything I see! No challenge! That's stupid! I didn't get any stronger! It's not like I've been holding myself back…
… I have. Why?
I'm sure there was a reason, but don't know what it was.
Not sure. I know I always win… but…
Have I been holding back to avoid hurting my opponents? Why? I'm fighting them, and it's rarely ever an official match. There… is no reason. No reason.
So why the hell am I holding back on these people!
Why am I letting all these stupid people run my life!
"… no, I'm not going to apologize, he should… not gonna marry…"
And why am I not down there, setting them straight? With a shrug, Ranma easily rolled off of the roof, landing on the ground below with no effort.
So easy. I could have sworn that was much harder to do.
Have I been holding back on everything?
Let's try that again. The hard way.
A seemingly effortless flex of the muscles of his legs, and Ranma was back on the roof. This time, instead of just falling off, he threw himself off, did a back flip in mid-air, and hit the ground in a crouched position with a loud thud!
"Wow," he muttered.
The bickering, he idly noticed, was a lot louder this much closer to the participants.
Hellfire Thunder Blast, eh? Ranma suddenly thought, remembering the black lightening the demoness had used inside his head to purge the dark form from Ranma's body. I can do that, I bet. I know how she did it. If I've got a week until I go back, then I'll master it in one week!
Seven days later…
What a pain in the ass! Who the hell made this damn attack, anyway!
"Mara?" The young martial artist looked up, not that it really helped him to see anything, but it's an ingrained habit one develops from time to time.
-When are we?-
Ranma chuckled. That question sounded a little silly, if you thought about it. "My time, still. It's been a week, so I'm guessing it's gonna be today."
-Seventh… oh, yes, I did say it was going to be a week. Let me check.-
"Check?" Ranma asked, confused.
-Ah, here we are. It should be ready to go in an hour. If there is any business you wish to finish while we are here, I suggest you start in on it.-
Not that it matters, Mara thought to herself, since everything will be erased the moment we go back.
"Yeah, I got one more thing I want to do."
Mara raised an incorporeal eyebrow at the sudden dive in Ranma's attitude, and waited to watch.
Kasumi looked up from her sewing, where she was repairing a small hole in one of her dresses, towards the door of her room.
"Come in," she called. The door slid to one side, and Ranma stepped into Kasumi's room. "Hello, Ranma-kun. Is there something I can help you with?" Kasumi smiled her eternal smile. Ranma's expression grew even more downcast.
"Yeah, Kasumi. I've just got a couple questions for you, if that's ok."
Kasumi set her dress aside for the moment, and sat up straighter. "Of course. I always make time to help. What do you need, Ranma-kun?"
Ranma slid the door shut behind him, and sat down on the floor with a loud sigh.
-That was extraordinarily cruel.-
And necessary, Ranma thought back, sliding the door to Kasumi's room closed behind him.
-That wasn't a complaint. Just a statement of fact.-
"Aa," Ranma grunted. "Not done yet."
Ranma knocked on Nabiki's door, and opened it without waiting for an answer. Nabiki was sitting at her desk, typing something into her computer, when she looked up at Ranma's face.
-She's afraid of you.-
She is now, you mean.
-She wasn't before?-
"Saotome," Nabiki said quietly. "What can I help you with?" Her eyes darted around, betraying her anxiety.
"I have questions," Ranma replied, slamming the door shut. "And you have answers."
Nabiki swallowed nervously, showing a weak smile. "Don't I always?"
-That wasn't fun at all. You could barely finish asking her something without the answer leaping from her mouth. Why did she act like she was expecting you to hurl her out the window at any moment?-
Ranma chuckled as he knocked on Akane's bedroom door. Again, he opened it without waiting for an answer. Because I did throw her out the window.
"Only chance," he told the dark-haired girl curled up on her bed, who looked ready to run screaming at any moment. "Don't even think about getting this wrong."
-You did what?-
-Well, that was pointless. All she did was squeak in fright or throw things at you.-
Yeah, well, I really wasn't expecting too much out of her. I was foolish, wasn't I?
I used to think I loved her. Of course, a week ago, I thought that being in 'love' with someone meant that you liked them and wanted to protect them. Looking back, I guess Akane was more like an annoying little sister than anything else.
-But I thought you said you used to love her.-
Yeah, but look at my past. Pops ain't exactly overflowing with fatherly affection, and my Mom was nonexistent in my life for a little more than ten years. And what do I get when she shows back up into my life? Hello, seppuku contract! And a walking blade shop for on-the-go suicide! Is it any wonder I thought I was in love with Akane?
-Point taken, but I assume that now you know who you are in love with?-
Hell no, Ranma thought at the demoness as he walked down the stairs, and into the Tendo living room. Not any of these people, not any of these girls who've been chasing me. What do I know about any of them? The only strong memories I've got of Ucchan are from when I was a kid! All I know about the girl she is today is that she likes having her own little restaurant to make her okonomiyaki in, and that she wants to marry me. Shampoo? Even less. Akane? She's a violent tomboy who likes to pretend she's a martial artist. I don't know any of these people, much less love them.
-So do you know what love is?-
Not in the least.
Despite being incorporeal, Mara managed to facefault.
-Then how do you know you aren't in love with one of them!-
Easy, Ranma thought as he exited the living room and walked out into the backyard. Behind him, Kasumi had her father's neck in one hand and was punching him with the other.
"WHY!" she screamed. "WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN TO ME! WHY!"
Soun gurgled incomprehensible words in response, while Genma was curled up in a terrified ball in the corner.
I don't know what love is, but I sure as hell know what it isn't. And it ain't what I'm feeling for any of them.
Mara laughed inside Ranma's head. -Clearing your chakra points has obviously done you some good! At least you're thinking for yourself!-
Yeah, well, better late than never. So, how do we go about going back in time, anyway?
-Just follow the yellow brick road.-
Mara sighed. -Nevermind. Just walk into the big and black hole in the world two feet to your left.-
Ranma shrugged, and waltzed into the darkness of time.
Ranma's going back in time! Let the party begin!
I guess I should pull volume one off of the shelf right about now…
(1) Don't go looking for that, it's not really there, but with Tofu's abundant medical knowledge and his ability to manipulate pressure points, plus the guy's living in Nerima, I figure he's gotta be a wealth of weird information. Plus, if you're going to learn as much as you can about how to heal and manipulate the body without using modern tools, I'd think he'd run across information like that sooner or later.
(2) Hey, read "Queen Sayoko." Belldandy blasted Ootaki and Tamiya into the wall, and unconscious, because they were attacking Keiichi. Or "Mara Strikes Back" where Urd slips love potion into a bento that Hasegawa made for Aoshima, but Belldandy thinks that Keiichi's going to eat it as a test of her (Hasegawa's) cooking skills. Belldandy looks ready to knock someone's head off, and Urd swore Belldandy was going to kill her. Very scary thing, to see Belldandy angry.