Note: This story uses characters and ideas from both Ranma 1/2 and Ah! My Goddess.
Bored. Nothing to do. No one to talk to. No calls. I drummed my fingers and glared at the phone. "This is all your fault. If it weren't for you, I could be out doing something fun. Like not sitting here. Alone. Where in the world is everyone, anyway?" I sighed. "Ring, blast you!"
It rang. Good thing there was no one to see me fall out of my seat. "That's better! Oh... guess I should answer you." I picked up the receiver. "Hello, you've reached the Goddess Help Line. I'll be down shortly to, um, help you." I hung up and got ready for action.
"What are you doing here?"
I turned around and saw Urd coming toward me. She looked annoyed. "Hel-lo, my job," I answered. "You know, answering the phone, granting wishes. Remember?"
"I know what your job is, Eos," she gritted. "What I want to know is why are you here now, when several relevant Yggdrasil subsystems are down for maintenance!"
"Oh... No one told me."
"Everyone told you! There were also bulletins and messages!"
I looked down at my feet. I knew what this meant. "So, I have the day off?" I asked brightly.
"No... you had the day off. Now, you have a wish to grant—without an active downlink from Yggdrasil."
"Uhh, you mean uplink, right?"
"No, I mean downlink! You can send data to the system, so you can grant the wish, but you won't be able to get any data from it once you're on Earth. In other words, no access to the databases, no informational spells, no mind reading, and you'll have to specify the details of any mortal contracts, rather than giving the general terms and letting the system work them out."
"Um, can't I just wait until the system's back up?"
Urd gave me an unfriendly smile. "No. You already took the call, and you can't keep your client waiting. You have five minutes to study the relevant files before you go."
"This is so unfair," I pouted.
"Four minutes and fifty seconds." Whoops. I hurried off to look up info on this Saotome Ranma guy. Knowing Urd, I'd be leaving in about four and a half minutes, ready or not.
After taking four minutes to copy down the important information from the files and thirty seconds to decide on flowing but light robes of orange and gold, I emerged from a light bulb in the Nerima ward of Tokyo, whatever that meant, exactly. "Greetings," I said as I floated gently to the ground, "I am... standing in the middle of a road talking to myself..." I looked around. Where was my client? I should have appeared by the phone he called from, not in a street, next to an ... empty pay phone. Great. How was I supposed to find this Ranma guy without any way to get info from Yggdrasil? I guess I'd just have to ask someone, like that girl who was staring at me.
I walked to the girl while giving her a once over. She was a slender Japanese girl in her mid-teens, with brown hair that didn't quite reach her shoulders and an intelligent look in her eyes; she was wearing a pale yellow shirt and blue slacks. "Hey," I said as I got near, "I'm looking for a guy named Saotome Ranma. He's about your age and, um..." I hadn't expected I'd need to track the guy down, so I hadn't brought a picture or taken a good look at him. "He has, mm, some sort of pigtail thingie and is a martial artist."
"I know him," the girl said, giving me a speculative look. "Why do you want to find him?"
"Oh, to grant him a wish."
"A wish," she repeated flatly.
"That's right. Allow me to introduce myself: I am Eos, goddess second class, second category, limited. My card," I said, handing it to her.
She took it and studied it carefully before returning it. "I guess that explains the light bulb thing, but can't you just pop over to him if you're a goddess?"
"Not at the moment," I said with a frown.
"Ok. I think Ranma should be near the fountain in the park right down the road around seven or so tonight."
"Thank you. And you are?"
"Oh, you can call me Kodachi. Now if you'll excuse me, I have some business to take care of," the girl said as she nodded politely and walked off.
"Seven, huh," I said to myself as I looked around for a clock. "Ah, and now it's ... four. Great. What am I supposed to do for three—ooh, a pachinko parlor!"
Two hours later, I emerged from the pachinko parlor. "And stay out!" yelled the manager.
"Hey! I didn't mean to grab the guy's balls!" I shouted. Suddenly noticing everyone around staring at me, I blushed and clarified, "Pachinko balls," while pointing to the sign on the building. A few people chuckled, and after several seconds, everyone went about their business again. Mm, still another hour till seven... Oh well, I wasn't getting back into the parlor, so I decided I may as well head to the park.
I took my time as I made my way down the street, looking in store windows and admiring the good looking locals, and in about half an hour arrived at my destination: the fountain in the park. It was a nice park and a pretty nice fountain with a statue of someone in the middle. It was probably some goddess, but I couldn't tell which one—mortals never get the details right. Hmmm, now what? Either sit around waiting or ask that guy in the red shirt and black pants if he's seen Ranma, I supposed. Wait, that sounded kind of familiar... Yes! He had a pigtail, too—I'd found my target!
Rushing over to the guy before he could get away, I called out, addressing him in a manner befitting a goddess, "Hey! You Saotome Ranma?"
Turning to face me, he replied, "Who's asking?"
"I am Eos, goddess second class, second category, limited." I handed him my card and while he studied it, I took the opportunity to look him over. He was quite attractive, with a slight frame and rather delicate features. He held himself with exceptional grace, which was probably due to his martial arts lifestyle. Not incredibly masculine, but that was probably because of his curse. Still, overall, he rated a definite 'yum'. As he returned my card, I continued, "Because of the many hardships you have faced in your life, there is an imbalance which need be redressed. To that end, you are hereby granted one wish, anything you desire."
"Anything?" he asked, eyes wide.
"Anything. From the destruction of the entire world, to fabulous wealth, or eternal life—youth! I mean youth!" I couldn't believe it! I almost made that mistake again! I already got enough grief in heaven over that one time... I didn't even want to begin to imagine what it'd be like if it happened again. I mean, you'd think they'd eventually forget about a tiny little blunder and finally let it drop, but noooo, every time I see someone, it's "Hey, Eos, doomed any more mortals to—"
"Hey... Are you all right, sugar?" Ranma asked, waving a hand in front of my face.
"Uh, yeah, I'm fine... Just thinking of something. So, what's your wish?"
He took a deep breath, clasped his hands in front of himself, and solemnly answered, "I wish my Ran—" He broke off, blushing. "I mean, my true love, would fall deeply and passionately in love with me."
Hnh. Not really what I was expecting, but, hey, it was his wish. "Hang on a sec," I said as I turned around and pulled out the notepad I'd used to jot down important info about my client. Ah, here it was: it looked like the closest thing Ranma had to a true love at the moment was one Tendou Akane. Even better, she had feelings for him, too. Stashing my notepad, I turned around and smiled broadly. "No problem. Just hold still and..."
Locking onto the boy in front of me, I opened a dedicated link to a portion of the Yggdrasil system and entered the parameters of the wish: Let Tendou Akane of Nerima, Japan, fall deeply and passionately in love with my client. Send. And with an eruption of light, the wish was granted and my job was masterfully completed.
"Your wish has been granted. Enjoy!" And without wasting any time, I dove into the top of a nearby lamp post and returned to heaven, determined to make the most of what remained of my day off.
"What are you doing back?" asked Urd as she glanced up from the terminal she was working at.
"I'm done. Wish granted, everyone happy, yadda, yadda, yadda."
"Uh uh," she said, showing Ranma's status on one screen while continuing to work on another. The words Awaiting Wish was clearly displayed in yellow text.
"What? I just granted his wish! It went through—I saw!"
"Well, it didn't take, then. You must have messed up the parameters."
I frowned. Maybe Akane wasn't really his true love? No, I had specified her explicitly by name—of course! There must be more than one Tendou Akane in Nerima! All I needed to do was access the files and manually edit them. "I know what went wrong. I just need to edit a file."
"While I'm working on the system!" Urd yelled, giving me an incredulous stare. "That's the last thing I need! Just go back and grant the wish again!"
I sighed and headed back to Earth. Maybe Ranma hadn't gotten far yet...
Well, here I was, once again on Earth. Joy... Let's see what I have to work with: park, check; fountain, check; Ranma, no go. Oh well, nothing a simple location spell wouldn't solve. I quickly cast one and waited. And waited... Aw, crap. If I was waiting for info from Yggdrasil, I was going to be waiting an awful long time. For lack of anything better, I decided to look around the park a bit and then head to the Tendou dojo.
I'd just started walking down the park's main path when someone behind me called, "Excuse me, miss, can you tell me how to get to Nerima? It's very important!"
I turned around and found myself face to face with ... "Ranma?" I frowned and gave him a once-over. The clothes were the same, but... "Have you gotten bigger?"
He stared at me blankly for a moment, then said, "Oh! I'm, um, wearing ... weighted training clothes. Yeah, that's it—weighted clothes." He gave a little nervous laugh. Probably still giddy about having his wish granted. Oh, well. Time to give him the bad news.
"Hey, I'm sorry, but there was a problem with your wish due to a technicality, so you'll have to make it again."
"My ... wish? Oh! Right! Well, if I have to make it again, I'll just make it again!" he cried while rubbing the back of his neck and giving a little laugh.
"Riiight," I said slowly. "So, ready?"
"I am," he said, suddenly sounding serious. "I wish I was free of my curse."
"Oh, changed your mind, huh? Well, I have to say I think you've made a better choice this time. Now, let's see..." I said as I brought his magic aura into focus. Aw, man, what a mess! Just how many different magics was this guy affected by? And without a two-way link to Yggdrasil, I was going to have to untangle this magical knot, identify just which magic was his curse, and then figure out how to undo it. It was going to take forever! Fortunately, I was smart enough to get around all that. Rather than mess with the actual magic surrounding Ranma, I'd just counter its effects. Voilà! Wish granted with a minimum of fuss and effort. Let's see... according to his records, Ranma was under a gender swapping curse and an 'interesting times' one. Hm... wonder which one he was asking about—aw, may as well be nice and take care of both.
"Ok, don't move—this won't hurt a bit," I said as I began casting my spells. A few minutes later, he was the proud owner of a gender-locking spell and a level three boredom enchantment. "All done!" I exclaimed as I sent a message to Yggdrasil to register Ranma's wish and how it had been satisfied by means of the spells.
"At long last, I'm finally free," he cried, holding up a clenched fist as tears streamed down his cheeks.
"Hey, no problem—you deserve it."
A shadow of uncertainty crossed his face for a moment before he nodded once. "You're right. I do. Thank you." And with a formal bow, he walked off. And I returned to heaven.
"Nope," said Urd, not even looking up from her terminal as I walked in.
"What! Oh, come on—this solution was foolproof!"
"Apparently not," she said eying me.
"Hey, there's no need to be rude... Can you at least look up why it didn't work?"
"No, I can't! I have a lot of work to do here, and until I finish it, no one can communicate properly with Yggdrasil, so no, I cannot take the time to figure out how you messed up your wishes!"
"Sorry... I was just asking..." I said, feeling a bit hurt.
With a sigh, Urd said, "Look, it says here than Ranma's heading back to the park again; if you go now, you shouldn't have any trouble finding him."
"Thanks," I said with a smile before heading back to Earth. Again.
Park, fountain, blah, blah... Another trip here and I'd have the place memorized. Seeing that Ranma wasn't there yet, I sat down on the edge of the fountain and watched what was left of the sunset. Dawns are better, of course, but sunsets are nice, too. Suddenly, a beautiful girl dropped out of the sky and landed in front of me. She was a bit short, had red hair in a pigtail, and a generous bust, and she was wearing black kung fu pants and a blue silk shirt with yellow ties. Oh, it must be Ranma in his cursed form; no wonder he came back here right away.
"Eos?" she asked, peering at me. I created a glowing aura about myself so she could see me clearly in the growing darkness and she looked reassured.
"I guess you're here about the wish..." I said with a bit of embarrassment .
"Yeah!" she exclaimed. "I want to get rid of this curse!"
I nodded. Enough screwing around and screwing up; the girl ... boy, whatever, in front of me deserved a wish and it was time he got it. If I had to do things the hard way to make sure it happened, so be it—I'd unravel the spell properly, no matter how tough it was. Still, there was no reason to go out of my way to make things difficult...
"Which curse?" I asked.
She stared at me for a moment. "You mean I have more than one!" she demanded.
"Yeah. You have the sex change curse and a trouble magnet curse. You probably got the sex change one because of the other, actually."
Ranma scowled at the ground for several seconds before looking up at me and asking, "Do you know how I got that trouble curse?"
I wracked my memory, trying to recall the details of his file. "I think it had something to do with your father."
"Of course," she spat. After a moment of thought, she asked, "If I get rid of of that one, do you think it'd be easier to get rid of this one?" she asked, pointing to her chest.
"I don't really know, but at least you wouldn't have to worry about picking up other curses as you go."
She shuddered then gave me a nod. "Ok. Get rid of that one, then."
"Ok. That's your wish, then?" When she nodded again, I said, "All right, just have a seat, then: this may take a while." With that, I cast a privacy spell around us and got to work. And a few hours later, when I was done, I went back to heaven.
"Well, it looks like you got it right this time," said Urd, once again not bothering to actually look at me.
"Oh, yeah—it was weird... The first time I just went and registered a standard wish to Yggdrasil and could have sworn it went through, but—"
Well, fine! I can tell when I'm not wanted. I'd just go and enjoy some quality 'me' time; after doing such a good job in such difficult circumstances, I deserved it.
"This is the biggest screw-up I've ever seen!" shouted Urd as she swept her arm to indicate the screens showing various scenes of Ryouga, Ukyou, and Akane. It was a week after I granted Ranma's wish and we were in Urd's office. Man, I was being chewed out by Urd of all people. You know you've really messed up when someone with a record like hers can lecture you... "Not only do you skimp on the background research, but you grant wishes to two different people who obviously aren't Ranma or each other! What are you—stupid!"
"Yes," I answered calmly, the unexpected answer brining her tirade to an abrupt stop. "At least when Yggdrasil is down, anyway."
Urd frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Well..." I said, looking down and tapping my fingertips against each other, "I know I'm not the brightest person at the best of times..." I waited for her to contradict me. After a few seconds of silence, I sighed and resumed. "So I decided to try offloading much of my higher reasoning functions to the Yggdrasil system. It worked really well—until the downlink was lost, anyway..."
I looked up to see Urd leaning across the desk and staring at me. She looked pretty angry. "On just whose authority did you try this little experiment?" she growled.
"Authority? Um ... mine?" I offered, smiling sheepishly.
With a snarl, Urd sat back down and started typing on a keyboard. While she did that, I took a closer look at the various screens. The ones showing Ryouga mostly featured cornfields and small towns that all looked alike. Quickly becoming bored with that, I focused on a scene of Ukyou and Akane talking in Ucchan's. The restaurant was obviously closed and the two girls sat opposite each other at a table:
"Are you sure?" asked Ukyou, obviously uncomfortable.
"I am," answered Akane, gazing at the other girl adoringly. "If marrying Ranma is what will make you happy, I'll officially renounce my engagement and support yours. I've already talked to Auntie Nodoka about it."
"But... Look, I know you have some feelings for Ranchan, and you've made it quite clear how you feel about me now. If you do this, you'll be giving up both of us. It just ... doesn't seem right." Ukyou sighed, a mixture of guilt, desire, and frustration plain on her face.
"Oh, don't worry about that—I've got it all worked out," exclaimed Akane cheerfully.
"Oh?" asked the other girl as she picked up her teacup and took a sip.
"I'll be your mistress!" Tea went spraying everywhere.
"Hm... this is some interesting code," said a much calmer Urd, drawing my attention from the screen. "Ok, here's what we're going to do: you're going to go down to Earth to fix your mess. When you get back, I'm going to submit a request that you be transferred from the Help Line and reassigned as a programmer."
"My code is really that good?" I asked excitedly.
"No." she said bluntly. "Your security is almost non-existent and your exception handling is pathetic. "However," she admitted, "you do seem to think of ideas no sane person ever would... And as a bonus, the reassignment will keep you away from the poor, defenseless mortals."
"Hey! I'm not that bad when I have a full link to the system!"
"Tithonus," said Urd flatly.
"That was one incident that happened millenia ago!" I fumed. Sheesh—I was right: they weren't ever going to let me live that down!
"Like anyone could have expected things to turn out that way!" Urd opened her mouth again. "You've made your point!" I snapped, cheeks burning.
She nodded and said, "Well, you should get going, then."
I sighed. "Do I really have to? If you ask me, those three deserve what they got."
"Believe it or not, I agree with you. But handing out punishments isn't your job, so if you want the wishes to stick, the whole situation will have to be kicked upstairs for review..."
"Whoops—I don't have time to sit here chatting!" I exclaimed as I quickly stood up. "I have some mortals to fix!"
I emerged from a ceiling lamp in Ucchan's and lightly touched down on the floor. The dining room was empty except for Ukyou sitting alone at a table with her head in her hands. As I walked toward her, she looked up and stared at me.
"You! This is all your fault!" she snarled as she jumped up, knocking her chair over, and took a menacing step in my direction.
"Excuse me?" I asked coldly as my divine aura burst forth and filled the room with a radiant blue.
She stopped short and deflated with a soft sigh. "No..." she said quietly as she lowered her gaze, "it's my fault."
I looked at her, taking in her stressed and guilt-ridden bearing and her now-short hair that she must have cut to impersonate Ranma. "So, what's the problem?" I asked. "You have your biggest rival out of the way and supporting your claim. Shouldn't you be happy?"
She sighed again and sat back down. "You'd think so... But how can I be happy with what I'm doing to Akane? That stupid wish forced her to fall in love with me and now she's willing to sacrifice her own happiness for mine. It's ... it's not fair to her."
"It's all right, Ukyou," said Akane as she walked out of the ladies' room with a damp shirt (I guess the scene I watched had been happening in real time), "seeing you happy makes everything worth it to me. And I don't feel like I was forced to love you."
"But you were!" exclaimed Ukyou. "Tell her," she said, turning to me.
"Actually, she wasn't."
"What? Of course she was!"
I shook my head and explained, "Every person, except the darkest and most depraved, contains within herself the capacity for such kindness, creativity, self-sacrifice, and joy that heaven can't help but cherish them. Oh, it's usually somewhat hidden or buried in most people, but it's still there, just waiting for the right moments to burst forth. The only reason Akane loves you is because she was shown what lies hidden within you."
Ukyou stared at the other girl for a long moment and said in a small voice, "You mean... she loves me ... for being me?"
I nodded. "The 'passionate' part did require lowering some of her inhibitions a little, though."
"Well... it's still not right... Can't you reverse it?"
"What? Make her forget what a wonderful person you can be?" I asked. When Ukyou nodded, I said, "Well, I could, but she's already been changed once at your whim; if I make Akane forget, it should be her decision." Turning to the girl in question, I asked, "So, what do you say, Akane?"
"I ... don't think I want to forget," she said. "It just seems wrong to make myself forget the best parts of her."
"And it feels so good to love someone so completely, doesn't it," I offered.
At Akane's shy nod, Ukyou burst out, "It may feel good, but don't forget the flip side. I'm more than familiar with that! Oh sure, it's great to be in love, but how long can you stand not having it returned? Weeks? Months? Years? It's kind of cute at first, or maybe a challenge, but soon enough it just hurts, and it's a pain that gets worse every day. You wonder why he doesn't love you back—is there something wrong with you? What can you do to make him see how perfect you'd be together? Eventually, it just makes you want to scream!" she cried, suiting action to words.
"Ukyou..." Akane said softly, taking a step toward her anguished love.
"Well, you're in luck," I said, "I have a solution to both of your problems. Instead of hitting Akane with more magic and making her forget what she loves about Ukyou, I just show Ukyou what makes Akane special. Everyone's happy; everyone loves someone who loves her back."
"H-hey, not so fast!" stammered Ukyou, backing up with her hands held in front of her defensively.
"Oh, I see. It's better for her to be changed twice, than for you to be changed once. I understand completely."
"Hey, don't be so hard on her!" cried Akane. "That isn't something you just rush into."
I looked at her for a moment, then nodded. "Ok, Kuonji. Take a few months to think about it. You can call me if you decide to go ahead with it." I walked to Akane and laid a hand on her shoulder. "If this whole unrequited love thing ever gets to be too much for you, call me and I'll help you forget." As I dove into a nearby lamp, I called back, "You'll know my number if you need it."
I emerged from the headlight of a tractor parked in a small clearing surrounded by stalks of corn. It was dawn here and my target, Ryouga, was nowhere in sight: I guess lights were few and far between in cornfields. I cast a quick Location spell, and after discerning Ryouga was a few hundred yards away and more or less heading in my direction, decided to just sit back and wait. As I watched the sun rise (may favorite time of day), I smiled at how well I'd handled the Akane-Ukyou situation. I had to admit, I'd been smart, fast on my feet, and glib in there. Slowly, though, my smile shifted into a frown—since when was I that smart?
"Oh, since I optimized the code in your thought program," echoed Urd's voice in my head.
"Oh... Well, thank you, brilliant, beautiful, and all-around incredible goddess of love, Urd," I thought back. Then I froze. "What was that!"
"Just a minor modification I made to the program. Like it?"
"No! Get out of my head!"
"Hmph. Fine. Suit yourself, then."
flushing buffer. program YggdrEosil terminated by user Urd (next time get approval).
And for the first time in a long while, I was just plain old Eos. It felt kind of nice, actually. Well, I guess it was time to show everyone what the real me could do. And with perfect timing, Ryouga emerged from the corn in front of me. It took him a few seconds to notice me, but when he did, his reaction wasn't quite what I was expecting.
"You!" he exclaimed. Ok, maybe I was expecting that part... But then he dropped to his knees before me, lowered his head to the ground and cried, "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! Please undo whatever it was you did to me. For the past week, all I've seen are cornfields and this boring little town where nothing ever happens! I'll do anything—just please take off your curse!"
"Um... stand up."
He slowly rose to his feet and stared at me with a desperate look in his eyes. "Ok... Now what?"
"All done!" I sang cheerfully as I removed the spells I'd cast on him.
"T-that's it?" he asked.
I nodded, and he spent the next minute thanking me over and over until I loudly cleared my throat. "Now. No more trying to steal wishes. Got it?"
He quickly nodded before starting to mutter about Ranma and how the situation was his fault. A stern glare put a stop to that, though, and got me a nervous answer of, "Got it!"
"Good. Keep that attitude and I'm sure everything will be just fine. Ta." And I flew back into the headlight, willing myself to what should be my last stop before I could go back to heaven.
"Hello, Ranma," I said as I appeared outside the Tendou home. "I'm here to make sure..." Aw, man... doesn't this guy ever stay in one place! I'd just cast the locater spell five seconds ago! Now, let's see... another quick spell indicated he was ... on the roof. As I floated toward the roof, I maintained the spell this time—just in case. Wait a second: what was that? I floated back to the window I'd just passed and peered in. Oh, this was definitely someone else I wanted to have a few words with. With a frown, I tapped on the window.
The girl who was lying face down on the bed with her legs up in the air as she read a manga asked in a bored tone without looking up, "What is it, Ranma?" As I slid the window open and floated in, she idly turned a page in her manga and added, "I am extraordinarily busy right now. If you want to use up my valuable time, it will cost—oh... It's you," she finished, finally looking up.
Argh! Why was everyone saying that when they saw me! I was getting pretty sick of it, let me tell you. "Hello, 'Kodachi'," I drawled as I floated next to the bed and stood ... well, down, I guess. "I hope you're proud of all the trouble you caused."
"Why, whatever do you mean?" she asked innocently as she moved to a sitting position. "I simply spread the word that you were looking for Ranma. I was just trying to help."
"Oh, yes. I was so impressed by the results of your 'help' that I just had to look up exactly what you did. Selling the information that a stupid woman who doesn't know anything more about Ranma than he has a pigtail will be in the park at seven to grant him a wish does not count as help! Do you know if one of them had wished for the destruction of the world I would have had to grant it!"
She frowned thoughtfully for a moment while studying me. "You're smarter than you were last week."
"I was having a bad day..."
She shrugged. "Well, I made sure I didn't tell anyone who'd be dangerous with a wish."
"How good of you." I shook my head. "Doesn't it even bother you that if things had gone as you planned, you would have stolen Ranma's wish for a handful of yen?"
"Me? I didn't try to steal—"
I cut her off. "Stop playing word games. We both know exactly what you did and why. Where's your compassion? How would you feel if everyone treated you the way you treated him?"
"Actually, I'd prefer it," she said with a frown. "People would make a lot more sense if they didn't go around giving things away and helping others for no reason. I mean, really, how am I supposed to be able to figure out what someone's going to do if he's not going to act rationally?"
I just stared at her for several seconds before concentrating and taking a good look at her—the kind of look Akane had been given of Ukyou. And where the seeds of compassion, self-sacrifice, and heroism should have been ... was nothing. Not only was she completely lacking in these qualities, she didn't even have the capacity for or the ability to understand them. How could this have happened? Bringing my attention back to the room, I just shook my head at the—for lack of a better word—girl who was watching me with mild curiosity.
"You know," I said, "I was going to punish you in some clever way I wouldn't get in trouble for, but now I see it would be pointless."
"Oh? And why is that? Are you implying that just being me is punishment enough?"
"No," I said, shaking my head, "it's because it'd be like punishing a snake for being poisonous or a shark for being a ruthless predator. I can see now that you were never given a choice about being vicious and manipulative—it's simply your nature, and punishing you for being as you were made would just be petty and cruel." With a sigh, I turned and headed back to the window; there really wasn't anything else to say. No, wait... I paused and faced her again, saying coldly, "But even animals like snakes and sharks can be trained, so make sure you understand this, Tendou Nabiki: if you ever interfere with a goddess or a divine wish again, I will make sure you suffer."
Having delivered my message, I continued on to the window and floated out. I wished there was something I could do to fix Nabiki and make her a complete person, but it was beyond my ability; all I could do was report it and hope someone else could do something. Shaking my head, I floated up to the roof to check on Ranma. Hopefully, that would be less depressing. Ah, there was my quarry lying on his back and gazing at the sky. No doubt pondering the new experience of staying in one place for more than a minute.
"Hello, Ranma," I said as I landed on the roof.
"Hi, Aos." he answered, turning his head to look in my direction. Yes! Finally, a civil greeting! Wait... What did he call me? Argh! I just can't win!
"It's 'Eos'," I said, trying to keep a smile on my face. "I came to make sure your wish turned out all right."
"Sorry. Yeah, I guess it's all right. No new fiancées, martial arts origami challenges, or foreign princes. Not even that much cold water coming at me." He sighed and stared back at the sky. "It's strange, though... I can understand all the really crazy stuff stopping, but ever since I made that wish, Akane's been nicer but more distant, Ucchan's backed off, and I haven't seen hide nor hair of Ryouga." He snorted. "Not that the last one is unusual. But I have to wonder... was the curse the only reason any of them was after me?"
"Er... I'm sure it's just a coincidence, Ranma," I said nervously. "The curse may have brought you into contact with people who'd cause problems for you or put you into situations that could easily be misinterpreted, but it wouldn't make people fall for you."
He thought about it for a moment, then grinned and said with confidence and complete sincerity, "Yeah, you're right. It must be my raw magnetism that attracts them."
"Uh, yeah..." I said, wondering if he even needed a curse to attract trouble with a mouth and ego like that.
"Oh, I found out where the curse came from," he said with a grimace. "Pop—of course. Seems he actually had me cursed on purpose when I was just a kid. Thought it'd toughen me up and make me a better martial artist if I always had challenges." He shook his head and grumbled, "Stupid old man."
"So ... your wish is ok, then?"
"Huh? Oh, yeah, it's fine. Thanks."
I smiled at him. "You're welcome. Good luck, Ranma." And with a wave, I returned to heaven, this whole mess resolved and put behind me for good. The End.
Well, almost the end. The phone was ringing. It was months after that last horrible wish, but somehow, I knew this call had something to do with it. Probably a reprimand from up high... Taking a deep breath, I answered the phone.
"Hello? Oh—it's you! (Ha! Now the shoe was on the other foot!) Of course I remember you; there are only two mortals with my number, after all. How are things in Nerima?" I nodded at the answer. "I'm not surprised. I'm glad you're enjoying the quiet. And how's your 'girlfriend'? Oh... that's too bad."
As the girl on the other end of the line described the situation in great detail, I listened with half an ear. Finally, as my mind started to wander to the latest program I'd been working on, she ran down. There was a moment of silence before I realized she'd stopped talking.
"Yeah, that is pretty bad... Uh huh... Uh huh... Look, I really don't think you need to tell me everything that's happened in the past few months! There's only one reason you'd be able to reach me on the phone, and that's because you've decided to take me up on my offer. From what you've said ... at great length, I can see why, but are you sure? Once this is done, there's no going back."
I listened to her answer then hung up the phone. It looked like it was finally time to wrap up the last loose end from Ranma's wish. Well, except for Nabiki, but I wasn't really sure whether that was a loose end or not. I'd reported her condition when I'd gotten back but hadn't heard anything yet. Well, it wasn't my problem (Please don't let it be my problem!) and in a few minutes, Ukyou and Akane wouldn't be, either. They'd be out of the romantic limbo that Ukyou's wish had stuck them in and be able to move on with their lives. And speaking of which, it was time to move on with mine. The End. No, really, this time.