Author's notes: Sorry about the long time since the last update. This chapter has not been proof-read so it may contain a few minor errors. If anyone is interested in prereading, send an email to brindani2000(at sign)yahoo(dot)com.
Disclamer: I do not own Ranma ½ or any characters used within the storyline.
For the Love of Akane's Cooking
Chapter 3: Cured!…or not?
"AHHH!" Ranma screamed, running out of the bath. Moments later, the door slammed open, revealing a hastily awakened Akane gawking at the scene before her.
"What is going on…" Akane stopped. Ranma was in front of her, not in the clinic; a good thing. He was butt naked, WHAT!
"Ranma!" Akane growled in a warning tone. She was about to tell Ranma off when a red headed blur burst out of the bath, latching onto Ranma's back.
Ranma flinched as the red aura of doom encompassed his uncute fiancée like a corona of wrath.
"It's not what you think!" Ranma declared still unsure what it was himself.
Akane's anger grew exponentially as Ranko appeared disinclined to detach anytime soon.
Holding her hand out, Akane instinctively siphoned energy into her hand. Slowly a radiating outline solidified into a large pulsing red mallet. Once formed, Akane lifted the implement of destruction to deliver her righteous justice.
"Oh no…" Ranma whispered as he saw the mallet rise to strike.
Ranko, having heard Ranma's voice, looked up to find Akane preparing to wallop both of them.
"No!" Ranko screamed, releasing Ranma and throwing herself in front of him, hands outstretched, placing herself squarely between Ranma and Akane's impending attack. "Ranma hasn't done anything wrong, momma. I was just happy to see Ranma doing better, that's all." She said trembling yet standing firm.
Disoriented by the unusual behavior, Akane stayed her hand. That moment was all the time it took for a drowsy Nabiki to stumble her way to the bathroom. The middle sister found Kasumi worriedly hovering in the hall, unsure of what to do as Akane was ready to use an eerie red glowing mallet on her fiancé.
"Akane, what are you doing?" Nabiki asked not even bothering to support herself as she leaned against the wall.
"The pervert was with that girl in the bathtub… NAKED!" Akane exclaimed, her anger going through the roof as she reaffirmed her concept of the situation.
"Right, and that is why he just screamed his head off. Sounds like a very intimate moment, really."
Akane's anger spluttered as she realized that her sister was right, Ranma wouldn't have screamed if he was doing something improper. With the anger gone, her flaring mallet dissolved, vanishing with an addible pop.
Shaking her head, Akane asked the best question she could come up with.
"What's going on?"
"I don't know, but shouldn't we let them get dressed before finding out?" Nabiki mentioned as she took note of Ranma standing several feet behind Ranko with her arms still spread.
"Awk! Put on a towel right now." Akane demanded, pointing at Ranko.
Ranko, seeing that Akane had cooled off, nodded her head before looking around.
Ranma recovered enough to hastily wrap a towel around himself; handed one to Ranko. Ranko, having watched Ranma, duplicated the maneuver, leaving her chest visible.
"No, no no." Akane cried, walking into the bathroom and wrapping the towel correctly around the girl before pointing out the door. "Now go to your room and get dressed."
"Yes, mommy." Ranko answered submissively, walking past her.
"Way to handle your kid, Akane."
Akane's face fell as she realized what she had just done.
"You do have to be firm when they are young. You don't want your daughter to become an exobitionist." Kasumi added.
Nabiki's drowsiness dissolved into a fit of laughter.
"Way to call it Kasumi." Nabiki managed as she held her aching sides.
"Whatever do you mean, Nabiki?" Kasumi asked innocently though a small smile betrayed her.
"Stop it you two." Akane demanded, a little embarrassed by their comments.
"Excuse me? Could you please leave while I dry off?" Ranma asked still standing with nothing, but a towel between him and the three sisters.
Jumping, Akane rushed out the door, Nabiki leaving under a new fit of giggles.
Even Kasumi was lightly chuckling as she left the thoroughly embarrassed pigtailed youth to close the door and dry himself.
Fully dried, Ranma walked up the stairs to his room were he was presented with another shock. Apparently Ranko didn't know what room was her's and decided to use the one she first found herself in. This meant she went to the guest room, aka Ranma's room. It also appeared that she had grabbed the first thing at hand to wear, one of Ranma's standard outfits.
Thus Ranma found himself facing Ranko hopelessly tangled in a pair of his typical Chinese clothing.
Ranma sighed, it just wasn't his day.
"Ranma! What are you doing standing in the hall with only a towel?" and it appeared to be getting worse.
Ranma only shook his head before facing Akane.
"Akane, I think I need you."
Akane's anger ground to an unexpected halt. 'Ranma needed her? But she wasn't ready for that yet, not until her marriage night.' Akane thought to herself nervously pocking her two index fingers together.
Ranma raised an eyebrow at the odd antics before walking around behind her.
"Yeah, I need you to help your daughter get dressed." Ranma finished giving Akane a light push. Akane went careening off-balance into the guest-room, only barely stopping herself from falling. When she straightened herself, she found Ranko staring at her, half-clothed. Fortunately, all the important parts where covered.
"Mommy, could you help me? Pleaseeee?" Ranko asked with the most pleading puppy-dog eyes Akane had ever seen.
Akane sighed before walking over to Ranma's closet, gathering another pair of Ranma's cloths before walking to the door.
"You idiot, you didn't even get your own cloths to get dressed! Now get back to the furo and change." Akane screamed as she threw the cloths in Ranma's face before spinning around to deal with Ranko's problem.
Ranma was happy as he left the furo, fully dressed and feeling refreshed. He remembered most of what happened during the past couple of days. Though odd it still felt good somehow.
"Happy are we, Saotome?" Ranma frowned as he found Nabiki leaning against the wall outside of the furo, apparently waiting for him.
"What do you want, Nabiki?" Ranma asked knowing that he might as well get it over with as fast as possible.
"Mawa? What makes you think I would want something from you?" Nabiki asked giving her best I'm an innocent maiden look. It failed miserably.
"You never wait for me unless there is something that you want, so what is it?"
"Not much for small talk, are we? To be perfectly honest I want the same explanation as everyone else; what happened? You were dead on your feet at the clinic, falling over your prestigious martial artist feet. The last we saw, you were under observation. Now all of a sudden you are not only back, but, judging by all the screaming, you had an unexpected encounter with Ranko in the furo. Did she sneak past your guard or something?"
Ranma sighed as he leaned against the opposite wall from Nabiki. "I honestly don't know what happened. I woke up yesterday to find my girl side running around and feeling drained. I have never felt so exhausted. The only thing remotely like it was fights that lasted for hours. As time went by, it just seemed to get worse. I remember vaguely going over to Tofu's, but most of what happened after is blank. Next thing I know I'm in Tofu's clinic feeling better then I have ever felt before in my life.
For some reason Tofu splashed me with some cold water, said I looked alright and could go home. I get here to take a bath and there she was. I know the door never opened and she wasn't there when I entered, so I have no idea where she came from."
"Damn, guess we have to call Tofu again." Nabiki muttered, heading towards the phone.
"Now who could that be?" Nabiki wondered, diverting her path to the door.
"I'll get it," drifted Kasumi's voice from the kitchen.
"Don't bother, Kasumi. I'm on my way." Nabiki called back to her older sister.
"Ok, thank you Nabiki."
Opening the door, Nabiki came face-to-face with Dr. Tofu.
"Wow, doc, I didn't even have to call you this time."
Tofu blinked, "I actually came to drop off the dress Kasumi left at my office. Was there something else you needed me for?"
"Wait, isn't that that what Ranko wore yesterday?" Nabiki asked as she took hold of her sister's old dress.
"So…it wasn't a dream?" Tofu asked
"Dream? Why would you think it was a dream?" Nabiki asked incredulously.
"Well, I haven't had much sleep recently and this morning Ranma seemed to have nothing wrong with him. Plus there was no sign of Ranko anywhere."
"Is that all? Did you think that maybe Ranma just needed a good nights sleep or Ranko might have come home?"
"Well, no, not really. Ranko was determined to look after Ranma last night. There was one other thing that led me to the conclusion. Last night I found Ranma wasn't cursed anymore. This morning when I couldn't find Ranko, I tested it again and his curse still appeared to be active. That is what brought me to believe that I had dreamt the whole thing."
"Wait a minute," Nabiki looked critically at the material she was holding. "So Ranko disappeared leaving behind the dress, but before that Ranma was cured of his curse?"
"Yeah, like I said I've already proven he still has it."
"I wonder, please come in." Nabiki offered absently before heading back into the kitchen where she dropped off the outfit on the counter before filling a small mug with cold water. After it was full she headed into the dinning room. She found Ranma just sitting to the side, waiting for breakfast.
What he got instead was another face full of water.
"Pfft," Ranma sputtered as he wiped away the water from his face. "What was that for Nabiki? Is it throw water on Ranma day or something?" the pigtailed boy demanded. He didn't receive an answer as Nabiki, Dr. Tofu and Kasumi were staring at him stunned.
"What? Do I have something on my face? Ranma asked as he noticed their stares.
"Ranma, what did I just do?" Nabiki questioned as she came back to herself.
"You threw water at me and…" Ranma blinked before peering down at his male chest. "…and I didn't transform!" Ranma screamed in delight as he swept Nabiki off of her feet and twirled her around.
"I don't mind the enthusiasm, Soatome, but if you don't put me down NOW I'm going to barf." Nabiki exclaimed, becoming green.
Hastily, Ranma set Nabiki down where she leaned heavily against the couch, one hand covering her mouth.
Not even bothering to check on Nabiki, Ranma continued to cheer "I'm cured! I'm cured! I can't believe it; I'm finally rid of the curse!" Ranma whopped before stopping in his tracks. "But this morning I turned into a girl. Why didn't I this time?" Ranma asked, uncharacteristically coming to a very valid point.
"I think I'm missing some information as well. Nabiki, you seem to know more of what is going on." Tofu asked the girl who was quickly recovering from her unexpected trip around the living room.
"I don't know myself, but I took a guess that Ranko took the curse from Ranma and then merged with him temporarily, giving it back."
"You mean that Ranko cured me?" Ranma asked excitedly, still buzzing from this unexpected good news.
"It appears that way."
"Did someone call my name?" Ranko asked, walking into the room.
Ranko blinked when all eyes turned to her. Before she knew it she was undergoing similar treatment to Nabiki with a vastly different result.
"WWWEEEEE!" Ranko cried out as she felt the air rush past her face.
Lightly placing her down, Ranma brought her to arms length, a goofing smile spread across his face. Ranko smiled too though she had no clue as to why Ranma was so happy, she just loved that he was.
"I could kiss you." Ranma, still exhilarated, put action to words and bent down meaning to give a small peck on the lips.
Ranko's eyes widened at the contact before they closed dreamily. Ranma tried to pull back, but Ranko wrapped her arms around his head, bringing him in for a deeper kiss.
By the time Ranko's arms loosened, both had goofy little grins.
"That…that was nice." Ranma muttered still looking off into the distance.
"Oh, our little Ranma has discovered girls; how cute." Nabiki drawled as she watched him shake it off.
"What? Oh, no that was an accident, nothing happened."
"Right, I really believe that. Next time at least try to hide the dreamy expression."
Ranma looked away, finding Ranko still smiling, her eyes unfocused and checks flushed.
"Anyway, we need to find out exactly what happened last night. Ranko? Ranko? Hello? Ranko. Anyone home?" Tofu asked, passing one hand in front of her face to try and get her attention.
"Damn Soatome, you must be one hell of a kisser," Nabiki mentioned as she watched Tofu's failed attempts to get the young girl's attention.
Ranma chuckled nervously, one hand tugging on his pigtail.
"Ranma, could you help me here? She may listen to you." Tofu asked as he once again failed to draw a response.
"Ok, uh, Ranko?" Ranma asked.
Slowly Ranko shook her head before directing her smile at Ranma.
"Yes Ranma?" She asked softly, obviously still on cloud nine.
"Doctor Tofu wants to talk to you."
"Thank you, Ranma. Now Ranko can you tell me what happened last night?"
Ranko slowly switched her attention to the doctor before leaning her head to the side in thought.
"I remember watching Ranma lay there and then getting tired myself. I couldn't keep my eyes open and I think I fell asleep." Ranko finished looking up to Dr. Tofu with a pout.
"What happened after that?"
Ranko's brow scrunched up as she tried to remember. Ranma smiled when he realized how cute it made her look.
"Well, I remember feeling free; wind blowing past me, but it was really hazy. I could have dreamed that part. Then I was in the furo and Ranma was ok. I was so happy." Ranko said before offering another large grin at said pigtailed boy.
"Why is Ranma screaming this time?" a tired voice drifted from the hall. Everyone turned to find a haggard Akane.
"Didn't you hear the news from up there?" Nabiki asked.
"I heard the ruckus; I was trying to take a nap after helping Ranko get dressed. I haven't had a good nights sleep since this whole thing started."
"Well, I know what you mean, a lot has happened recently, but it looks like Ranma has finally been cured." Tofu answered.
"Cured of what, his foot in mouth disease?" Akane asked hiding a yawn with one hand.
"You know sis, he isn't the only one afflicted with that particular ailment."
"What! What do you mean by that?" Akane demanded.
"Never mind, what is important is that Ranma has been cured of his Jusenkyö curse.
"What? No, it has to be another fake cure." Akane exclaimed rushing out of the room.
"What is she doing now?" Ranma asked.
Nabiki only looked after her younger sister before a wicked smirk crossed her face and she moved away from the entrance.
"I'll prove it, see!" Akane proclaimed as she reentered with a large pail of water, she launched its contents striking Ranma dead on. He spluttered as he tried to once again wipe water away from his face.
'I might be cured, but god I'm getting hit with more water now then I ever did with the stupid curse.' "What did ya do that for?" Ranma asked without any real venom as it appeared this was becoming a frequent event recently.
When his vision cleared, he found Akane's large eyes staring at his very wet male physique.
"But…how?" Akane mumbled, her startled limbs dropping the empty bucket.
"Nabiki, you explain it to Ms. Tardy here. I need to release some energy." Ranma said before leaping out the backdoor, lightly hopping once before disappearing behind the fence.
"Ranma, wait for me!" Ranko squealed as she tore out the front door, leaving everyone gawking after the girl's dust trail.
"Ranma?" Ranko asked as she came to a stop in front of the gate to the Tendo dojo. She looked one way and then the other with no sign of the missing boy.
"Where did he go?" Ranko asked, scratching her head in confusion.
"Prepare to die Ranma!" Ranko turned towards the noise, happy that someone appeared to have found Ranma for her. What she saw confused her. There was a boy with a yellow bandana charging straight at her with an umbrella held over his head.
"Do you know where Ranma is?" Ranko asked the boy as she certainly didn't see him behind her.
"You can't fool me Ranma."
Ranko's eyes widened in astonishment as the umbrella swung towards her.
'What!' Ranko found herself crashing against the wall, pain flaring through her body. Ranko clung to herself as the agony continued to spread, tearing at her very perception of reality.
"I…I won. I actually beat Ranma." Ryoga said as he watched the trembling figure before him.
"What the hell do you think you are doing, idiot!" Ryoga gasped as he was kicked from behind, sending him stumbling forward. Coughing, Ryoga looked back to find an enraged Ranma standing there.
Ryoga blinked. He looked between Ranko and Ranma before his eyes narrowed angrily. "You've found a new technique! I won't let you defeat me with such a weak double." So saying, Ryoga jumped up and started throwing punches at Ranma one after another.
Ranma easily dodged the punches, keeping an eye on Ranko to make sure she stayed conscious.
His attention strayed a little too far, allowing one of Ryoga's punches to clip his shoulder, sending him back several feet, clutching the injury.
'That shouldn't have hurt nearly that much. Has Ryoga been doing extra training?' Ranma critically reanalyzed the infuriated boy as he dove into close quarter combat. 'No, his punches are just as strong as before. There isn't a dramatic increase of strength; so what is going on?'
Left, right, right left, Ranma dodged the punches. He even found a few openings to counter attack, but ever time he tried he couldn't get in fast enough. Ryoga's guard would firm a split second before he could score. 'Why am I going so slow? This doesn't make any sense.'
A right hook slipped past Ranma's guard, sending him flying into a brick wall. The punch was quickly followed by a kick to the ribs, propelling him next to Ranko's quivering form, where he came to rest, completely unmoving.
An ominous crack of thunder echoed above.
For the second time in the last five minutes, Ryoga stopped with a giant silly smile spread over his lips.
"This time I really won. I won against Ranma and his newest technique. That means that Akane…" Ryoga's eyes drifted off as imagination took over.
Ranko's eyes slowly opened when the thump landed next to her. She caught sight of Ranma lying unmoving. Grunting in agony, she painfully crawled to him, collapsing against his blood soaked chest.
"Ranma… I'm… so sorry I couldn't… help you." She gasped out, her tears overflowing.
In waves, rain pounded the streets of Nerima.
Author's end notes: Yes, I'm ending on a cliff-hanger. It just seemed like a good place to stop for the moment. If you have any questions don't hesitate to email me or place them in a review and I will setup a Q&A section or email an answer directly.
As always, the more reviews the faster any individual story is updated. At 20 a story receives high priority and will be updated typically in two weeks if the next chapter hasn't been started.
Thanks for reading,