Disclaimer: I own none of the characters from Ranma ½, I'm just borrowing them in the spirit of fan artists everywhere.
Ranma ½: She's got a girlfriend now!
Ranma Saotome pushed open the door to the Tendo dojo, the redheaded young woman's expression one of deep annoyance. "Could someone put the kettle on?" she called out as she took her shoes off and set them by the door.
"Coming," a female voice called back and in a few moments Nabiki Tendo arrived, the middle sister of the Tendo clan bearing the steaming pot. She splashed a bit on Ranma and in a blink of a eye an incredible transformation took place.
Ranma's hair went from red to black as he visibly grew, muscle and mass returning to his form. A delicate face acquired rougher lines even as he sighed softly in relief. "Thanks," he said in a slightly deeper voice.
"You sounded particularly annoyed today," Kasumi Tendo said as she entered, wiping off her hands from whatever she was doing in the kitchen.
"It's that damn Kuno again," Ranma grimaced, "he sees me in girl-form and whatever brains he has go right out the window."
"Got that right," Nabiki agreed, privately thinking of how many girl type Ranma photos she had sold to him over the years.
"You'd think beating him bloody would convince him to back off," Ranma shook his head in awe of that level of stubbornness... or maybe just stupidity.
"Maybe Nabiki can help you, then," Kasumi offered.
"Huh?" Ranma looked at her in surprise.
"Nabiki does know Kuno fairly well," Kasumi noted that fact wisely, "if anyone could devise a way to solve this, it's her." With a mysterious smile she turned around and went back into the kitchen.
Ranma gave Nabiki a thoughtful look, "She's got a point, but how much is your help going to cost me?"
"It won't be anything too dire," Nabiki said with a charming smile. She looked off in the distance as she though for a few moments, "Let me talk to Kuno first, then we'll discuss this again tomorrow night."
"Hey, I still haven't agreed to pay you," Ranma said as Akane returned, the younger Tendo daughter hastily removing her own shoes at the door.
"If I do come up with something that works, I figure you're sense of honor will demand you pay up," Nabiki waved as she sauntered off.
"She's right about that," Akane said with a little smile. The black haired girl hefted her school bag over her shoulder as she said, "I heard Kuno singing the praises of the elusive "pigtailed girl" once again."
"That's what we were talking to Nabiki about," Ranma said as they passed the porch were their fathers were playing shogi.
"It's good to see them talking so calmly," Soun Tendo noted as the long black haired man made a move.
"Nice change," Genma Saotome agreed, the bald headed martial artist smiling wryly, "a pity it won't last."
The next school day was the usual mix of boring and chaotic, with a semi-serious attempt on Ranma's life by the inept martial artist Mousee, then a somewhat more serious attempt by Ryouga in the afternoon. In other words, it was a typical day.
"YOU WANT ME TO WHAT?!" Ranma blurted out as the young man looked across the table at Nabiki in shock.
"I want you in your girl form to go out on a date with another woman," Nabiki explained patiently to Ranma as he and her two sisters were gathered in the living room, "then take her back to a love hotel."
"How is that going to help?" Akane scowled.
"I intend to help Kuno catch you," Nabiki addressed Ranma as she continued, "that should end his interest in you."
"You've got to be kidding," Ranma said in frank disbelief.
"I'd think Kuno'd be even more interested then," Akane added before grumbling under her breath, "that pervert."
"Kuno has a very odd view of the pigtailed girl," Nabiki explained to them, "he regards her as pure and innocent, more or less." Ignoring Akane's snort of amusement at that she continued, "If girl-Ranma was soiled in his eyes, he'd be heartbroken."
"I hadn't thought of that," Kasumi murmured thoughtfully.
"Maybe," Akane said forcefully, "but I am NOT going out on a date with girl-Ranma! Think of the talk it would cause."
"I wasn't really expecting you to," Nabiki admitted though she did look at her sister with a bit of regret.
"I don't even know if I want to do it," Ranma said flatly, "an' it's not like I can ask one of the fiancee's to help out. They'd take it the wrong way."
All of them knew what he meant by that, of course. Shampoo or any of the others he picked would take it as confirmation that Ranma was in love with them. Sadly, Ranma seemed unwilling or unable to decide, leaving all of them in a kind of limbo.
"Well, I can't do it," Nabiki said with just a bit of regret in her voice, "I have to be there to lead Kuno around by the nose."
"I'll do it."
Ranma turned, looking over at Kasumi in surprise. The older girl smiled back warmly, eyes twinkling in amusement. "Seriously?" Ranma asked.
"Are you sure about this?" Akane asked, the young woman looking more than a little conflicted. Part of her had been expecting the others to try to convince her to do the date, and while she was relieved she also felt oddly neglected.
"We just have to go out on a date," Kasumi said as she gracefully rose, "and go to the love hotel, right? I don't see any problem with that." She looked over at Ranma and asked, "Unless you object?"
"No," Ranma smiled, "thank you."
"Let me know when you want to do this," Kasumi nodded to Nabiki and Ranma then went into the kitchen to ready dinner.
"Excuse me," Akane quickly got up and followed her.
"What's that about?" Ranma blinked, confused by Akane's sudden departure.
Nabiki just shook her head at his general cluelessness. "We'll do the date tomorrow night," she said firmly, "that's the soonest I van get Kuno out to see it, I think."
"No problem," Ranma got up and stretched.
"Dress nice tomorrow," Nabiki said firmly, "female clothes but not too feminine, if you know what I mean."
"I have that while shirt and a black skirt," Ranma said, vaguely reluctant to discuss the female clothes he's had to acquire since he had first been struck by the curse.
"That would be good," Nabiki nodded thoughtfully before adding firmly, "and bring her flowers, too."
"If you say so," Ranma shrugged as he headed off to practice.
After school the next day Ranma left the public baths, a splash of cold water having accomplished the needed gender change. Dressed in the clothes she brought she looked surprisingly elegant, even without makeup. The plan was that she was picking up her 'date' at the Tendo's, so it couldn't look like she really lived there.
"Ranma," one of Nabiki's cronies flagged her down. The blonde whipped out a small make up case as she ordered, "Hold still!"
"What..." the young woman delicately touched up Ranma's cheeks with a brush, then quickly added some rose lipstick. "Why are you..."
"Hush," she ordered, "you'll smudge." She finished up and stepped back, "Nabiki's orders, you know." She looked at Ranma and smiled, "You really are a cutey." Suddenly she slapped Ranma's butt, "Get going before I do something I regret."
Ranma hurried off, so off balance by the makeup assault that she didn't even try to respond to that comment. Stopping at a florist she picked up six roses, then squaring her shoulders Ranma continued on to the Tendo home. She took a deep breath and knocked loudly, fighting back her nervousness.
Soun opened the door and the tall, black haired man blinked in surprise. "Yes?" he asked, clearly confused.
"Is Kasumi available?" Ranma asked, the girl's voice squeaking just a bit at the end. Well, her dating experience thus far had been pretty limited to a few forced outings with fiancees, so she supposed some nervousness was understandable.
"I'll go see," Soun nodded to Ranma with dignity before turning around and heading back into the house.
A few moments later Kasumi arrived at the door, the older girl a vision of elegance. Her red dress was formal but still comfortable, cut low in the front and high on the leg. Ranma has seen Kasumi so often that she had forgotten how lovely she was, especially dressed in such a different manner than normal.
"Hello, Ranko," Kasumi used her feminine name as her voice flowed over Ranma, "I hope you haven't been waiting long?"
"No," Ranma quickly managed to get some of her wits back as she offered the bunch of roses, "these are for you."
Kasumi brought the roses to her face, the long black haired woman taking a breath of their scent, as well as to hide her surprise. Ranma was attractive enough normally, but somehow the makeup and her gentle manner was making her feel a little weak in the knees. "How thoughtful," she said, giving Ranma a warm smile. "Let me put these in water then we'll go."
To be continued...