I've got writer's block and a bad headcold, or flue, or something, but meh. Here's a new chapter of Character reconstruction.
Chapter 15, Title? I don't need no stinkin title!
Ranma ran down the street for what seemed like the millionth time that day. Fortunately, this time it had nothing to do with a flying tentacled minotaur chasing old perverts, or cursed martial artists throwing food carts at him. No, this time he was trying to get to his little sister's school before the final bell.
It was strange, but ever since he'd woken up after Saffron, he'd found himself worrying a lot more about how his mother regarded him, and having a younger sibling that looked up to him made him feel really good, so he didn't want to disappoint her. He smirked. Maybe this was just a reaction to having smaller things than tentacled minotaurs to worry about.
As he rounded the final corner to Ranko's school, he skidded to a nervous stop, seeing his sister waiting there… along with Yoiko and a very irritated looking female Ryoga. "Saotome." The bandana clad martial artist said, evenly.
Ranma blinked, wondering why he wasn't being strangled, but shrugged. "Um, hey, Ryoga." He said, cautiously.
"You will explain what happened earlier today." Ryoga said, the statement just as flat as the name, and Ranma noticed that her right fist was clenched, her left hand being held by the younger Hibiki.
"Yeah… why don't you two come home with me 'n Ranko, and I'll explain it all." Ranma said, starting to get more than a little creeped out at the lost one's Nabiki impression.
For a moment, he entertained the thought that Ryoga and Nabiki had had their personalities switched when the water hit. It would explain the way the middle Tendo sister had been acting when he dropped her off at the Tendo compound.
The group walked to the Saotome home in an uneasy silence, and Ranma noted that Ryoga was managing to follow him and lead Yoiko with very little correction. As they reached the house and walked in, Ranma called "We're home!"
Nodoka's voice was heard echoing from the living room, where she was sitting and watching the news. "Welcome home!" She called, then blinked as she saw the group that had entered. "Oh, you brought home guests?" She asked, excitedly.
Getting up, she walked over to them and bowed to Ryoga and Yoiko, before looking the elder Hibiki over. "Hmm, Ranma, is this another girlfriend?" She asked, thinking that perhaps her son had a chance of being manly after all.
Ranma winced. "Don't punch her. I know exactly what yer thinkin, but she doesn't know." He said, putting a hand on Ryoga's arm as the black haired girl's eyebrow twitched violently. "Mom, can ya get us some hot water?"
Nodoka blinked, confused, but then nodded and turned to the kitchen, wondering why the girl had looked like she wanted to kill someone when she'd said what she had. She hoped that she hadn't offended her.
Ranma sighed in relief as his mother left the room, and looked sidelong at Ryoga. "Sorry 'bout that, Mom's just a little weird sometimes."
The lost girl nodded, though her eyebrow was still twitching. "Can you tell me what happened and why I shouldn't beat you into a pulp, now?" She asked.
Ranma nodded, and the four sat down in chairs around the room. The two younger people sat back for what Ranko, at least, thought was going to be an interesting story, and Ryoga leaned forward with her arms crossed.
"First off, ya can change back 'ta normal with hot water, so you're not stuck like that forever." Ranma said, and then blinked as Ryoga nodded.
"I know." The other martial artist said. "That's why I didn't attack you on sight at the school."
"Then, um, why are you female right now?" Ranma asked, confused.
That was when Yoiko started snickering, and Ryoga gave her a dirty look. At Ranma's perplexed expression, she explained. "Miss Kinamoto thought he was a pervert and wouldn't stop hitting him whenever she saw him."
"She threatened to call the police on me for hugging my sister!" Ryoga exclaimed, indignantly.
"You did do it in a girls' bathroom." Yoiko contributed.
"Yeah, and you hugged me too." Ranko chipped in, smiling.
Ranma gave the other cursed person an odd look, but decided that he would likely have done the same thing. In fact, he was pretty sure he had come pretty close to hugging the guide when he'd demonstrated how to turn him back. "Well, that explains somethin." He conceded. "As for the rest, it started when this guy named Pantyhose…"
Ryoga and both girls snickered, causing Ranma to sigh. "Can I keep goin?" He asked, and got a nod from everyone. "Anyhow, this guy wanted the ol' freak, I mean, Happosai to change his name, but the old man doesn't want to, so…"
As Ryoga listened to what Ranma had to say, his face began to darken with rage. The pigtailed boy explained everything about what had happened, and the lost martial artist was at once astounded with how complicated things could get, and very angry with Pantyhose Taro and Happosai.
"I'm going to kill them!" Ryoga roared, her fragile emotional control breaking again. As she did so, she shot up to her feet. Unfortunately, unknown to her, Nodoka had just walked into the room with the kettle of hot water, and was walking past Ryoga's chair at that very moment.
The martial artist's arm came in contact with the metal side of the kettle, and she yelped with the pain of the heated metal before catching a face full of hot water. Nodoka blinked slowly, looking at Ryoga and then over to Ranma, and then blinked again.
"Uh, mom, this is Ryoga. He's another martial artist with a curse like mine. Guess I shoulda told ya about that." Ranma said, sheepishly.
Nodoka nodded, and then left the room, deciding that she should take a little rest.
Ryoga, meanwhile, was wincing and rubbing at his face. "That was hot." He complained, seemingly having lost his previous train of thought. It only took him a few seconds to regain it, however, and he started for the door.
"Stop!" Ranma exclaimed, surprising the other into doing just that. "What're ya planning on doing?"
"I'm gunna find that old man and the Pantyhose guy and beat them to a pulp." Ryoga replied, reasonably.
Ranma shook his head. "Yer gunna find the old man and learn what it feels like to be groped, then Taro's gunna slam you into the ground like a fencepost." He said, being brutally honest. Noticing that Ryoga, and even Yoiko, were giving him indignant looks, he sighed and decided to explain. "Ryoga, remember what I did to yer arm a few days ago?"
The lost boy nodded, looking down to his left arm and blinking as he saw that the cast was no longer there, and he wasn't in agony. Granted, he was a fast healer and he probably would have taken the thing off in a couple of days, but he hadn't even noticed the cast coming off, though now that he thought of it, it wouldn't have fit his new cursed form's arm. "How'd my arm heal?" He asked, surprised.
Ranma shrugged. "Got no idea. Maybe ya finished healin this mornin and the cast just fell off when ya changed?" He offered.
Ryoga shook his head. "No… I could still feel it this morning." He said, before frowning in thought. "Could the curse have done it?"
Ranma shrugged. "No idea." Seeing Ryoga's incredulous expression, he continued, "Look, I really don't remember what the curse did when I first got it. Was too busy tryin ta kill my old man."
"You tried to kill Dad?" Ranko asked, from where she and Yoiko were still listening in, and Ranma winced.
"Look, I was really angry, all right?" He admitted, then smiled. "But when I caught the Panda, it sure did make me feel better."
Everyone in the room except for Ranma sweat dropped at his blissful expression, and they were all thinking 'Panda?'
Clearing his throat, Ryoga recalled what they were talking about before, and cut through the bemused silence with a question. "Why did you ask me about my arm?"
Ranma shook his head, reluctantly letting an obviously happy memory go, and then started to explain. "Well, ya know what I did to ya, and I MIGHT be able to beat Taro, if I went full out 'n wasn't worried about killing 'im." Hearing the girls gasp, he winced. "As for Happosai, he's way too fast for you right now."
"Fine then, you're going to help me." Ryoga said, decisively. Ranma blinked, so he went on. "You kept that Pantyhose guy from dumping the water on Happosai, so it's still sort of your fault that I got cursed."
"What!?" Ranma said, indignantly. "I told ya why I did that!" But then, he slowly nodded. Ryoga was sort of right, after all, though he wouldn't want to think about what would have happened if Happosai had been hit. It was bad enough thinking that he would be cloned, but if what the old man had told him was true, he would have exploded into a fire of uncontained male Chi if he'd been hit with the drowned girl water, which probably would have nuked the block around him.
"Yer still dead meat if ya go up against 'em. Me 'n Ukyo were only able to keep Taro occupied because he was distracted by tryin ta splash the ol' man, but… yer right, it was sorta my fault." Then, he smirked. "I'll help ya by makin ya strong enough to at least fight near Taro's level, if not the ol' freak's."
Ryoga nodded, and reached out with one hand to grab Ranma's. "That's a promise?" He demanded.
"On my honor as a martial artist." Ranma returned, hoping that this one wouldn't screw his life up as badly as the last promise he'd made Ryoga.
"I'm home!" Nabiki called, and was surprised as she heard a loud set of footsteps tromping through the house.
"Oh, Nabiki, you're safe!" Her father exclaimed, grabbing his middle daughter and hugging her until her arms started waving around desperately. Letting her go, he held her back to look her over and frowned. "You're a bit red, are you all right?"
'Yeah, but you almost choked me to death.' Nabiki wanted to say, but kept herself limited to a nod. "What's wrong?"
"Akane told me that you and that Hibiki boy she always hangs out with had gone to find the thing that smashed the hole in the Dojo wall, and with the master fighting Taro… Did they hurt you?"
Nabiki flinched back from the sudden demon head her father manifested, and waved her hands in front of her face. "No, it's all right, I never even saw them and Ranma brought me home." Seeing her father's eyes welling up again, Nabiki winced. He must have been really agitated. It was kind of nice that he worried so much about them, but did he have to be so… spineless about it?
"Oh, your Fiancé rescued you; the schools will finally be joined!" He exclaimed, starting to drench the floor in tears.
Nabiki sighed. "Figures." She muttered, walking past the man and through the front hall, into the living room. As she settled down there for a quick look over her homework, she let her mind drift off for a moment. Though what her father had said was a complete exaggeration, Ranma had acted pretty protective when Happosai had shown up, immediately putting himself between her and the old man.
She'd been told pretty well straight out, through the way he'd acted around her that Ranma knew all about her yen for Yen, as some smart ass at school had once called it, so she had to wonder why he would do that.
Maybe, possibly… She shook her head, banishing those thoughts from her mind. She had homework to do, after all.
About half an hour later, Nabiki looked up from her work as she heard someone opening the front door. "I'm home!" Kasumi called, cheerfully. As Nabiki listened, she heard a second set of footsteps following Kasumi's. Curiously, she got up and headed into the front hall, where she saw her sister standing with a tall brown haired girl who looked a little older than she did.
"Hey Kasumi, who's this?" Nabiki asked, looking the newcomer over.
"Oh, hello Nabiki. This is Urd. Urd, this is my sister Nabiki." Kasumi said, gesturing between the newcomer and the bored looking girl.
Nabiki nodded to Urd, then looked oddly to Kasumi. "This isn't another one, is it?" She asked, frowning, though it wasn't too deep.
"Nabiki, that's not polite at all!" Kasumi chastised. "And yes, Urd arrived at the clinic this afternoon. She has a head injury, so she needs to be kept under observation."
Nabiki groaned. Kasumi liked to bring patients home from the clinic, under the assumption that they would enjoy their time as a patient more if they were in a homey atmosphere. Unfortunately, this didn't bring in any extra money for the family, and the guest was usually a drain on resources.
Nabiki gave Kasumi a look, but got a determined, yet polite, expression in response. Next to the eldest Tendo, the goddess could see the interplay of emotions as if the two had been arguing with each other, mainly because she and Belldandy often shared similar looks. "Hey, I can just call my sister back, if you'd like." She offered, tentatively.
She was immediately pinned by the same expression that Nabiki had just been given, and sighed. 'Why does she have to be so much like little sis?' she thought.
"Come, Urd-san." Kasumi said. "The guest room is upstairs."
Urd nodded, and walked past Nabiki. As she did so, she felt something impinging on the expanded awareness that her new limiters granted her, and extended her senses. What she saw in the middle Tendo's aura surprised her. There was a tiny, though still measurable, amount of Chaos magic threaded through it. Quickly, she glanced up at Nabiki's ears, seeing no ornamentation there, and then to her face, where there were no marks.
"Are you all right?" Nabiki asked, both because she may as well be nice to the newest guest, now that Kasumi had insisted she stay, and because she was getting a little nervous of Urd's staring at her.
The goddess of the past shook her head, clearing her mind. "I'm fine." She said, quickly.
Nabiki blinked, looking after the new houseguest as Kasumi lead her up the stairs. Shrugging, she decided to forget about her for now.
Later, as Urd lay in the Tendos' furo, relaxing, she had to admit that she wasn't doing absolutely horribly so far. She'd consulted the link to Yggdrasil that was now part of her mind, and learned that the Tendo family was heavily involved with the Saotomes. At least, if she'd been railroaded into staying here by a tag team of her sister and the eldest Tendo when Bell had arrived at the clinic, it had been for a good cause.
Still, what she'd seen in the brown haired girl she'd met at the door worried her quite a bit. She had dark magic of some sort all over her, even if Urd couldn't identify what it was, exactly. "Did the representative Hell sent do something to her?" She muttered, and then heard a soft huff from next to her.
"Why do you always have to think it was us, goddess?" An irritated, and unfamiliar voice said from the bathroom door.
Spinning, she saw a woman who she didn't recognize, but what she did recognize was the slash like markings along her cheeks, and a jagged sun-burst marking on her forehead. "What's a demon doing in here?" She yelled, before reigning in her shock and reducing her voice's volume.
"I'm here to work with you." The woman explained. "By order of Hild-Sama, I am to help you determine what's happening with Saotome Ranma, and to eliminate him if necessary." After saying that, the demoness raised one hand, studying her fingernails as if they were claws.
"We aren't hurting the kid if we don't have to." Urd said, with resolve. "After all, no matter which version you look at, he's a credit to my domain."
The demoness snorted, and then walked towards her counterpart. "I do what lady Hild orders me to do, and then… maybe some more." She reached out, dragging one fingernail along Urd's cheek, and the goddess reacted by reaching up and pulling the hand away. Still, she could feel a small scratch marring her skin.
Suddenly, the sound of the inner bathroom door sliding open echoed around the room, and someone stepped in. "Hey, I heard someone yelling in here, and…" Akane Tendo said, blinking at the sight of the two women, one nude and dripping water, and the other in a rather revealing black leather outfit. One of them was the new guest Kasumi had told her about, she knew, but she had no idea who the other was. Blushing, she slammed the door. Through it, Urd could hear her yell "Bunch of perverts!"
"Great." She muttered, glaring at the unknown demoness. "Now you've given them the complete wrong impression," She ignored the other's snort of laughter, "Do you want to tell me why you're here?"
The demoness shrugged. "Just to introduce myself." She said, simply, and then walked over to the sink. For a moment, Urd thought she could pass through water, like Skuld, but the demoness proved her wrong by seeming to bend space around her in an almost brain-breaking way, and then slip into the drain.
"I wouldn't take that method of transport if you paid me." Urd muttered, then sighed. "And now, given the data I have on Akane Tendo, she's going to give me dirty looks every time I see her." She smirked. "I really should have known better than to think things were going well."