A Ranma 1/2 fanfiction
By Robert Haynie
Part 18: Revolutionary Girl Ryoga (If Rumiko Takahashi ever saw this she'd either kill me or buy the story. Me, I'm wearing a bulletproof vest.)
Once upon a time Ryoga Hibiki had thought that Ranma Saotome was plotting against him, to make him a laughingstock.
He knew better now. The entire UNIVERSE was plotting against him, to make him a laughingstock.
This was evinced by his latest complication. His latest complication was that he wasn't a he, but a she.
And she wasn't very happy about it.
Last night she'd slept next to Ranma on a spare futon in an outfit that she'd quite frankly never envisioned herself wearing.
She'd always assumed that turning into a girl instead of a pig would be a great improvement. She was rethinking that position.
Now she was lying on her back in a powder blue negligee and matching panties and listening to the sounds of chaos as Ranma and her father began their morning ritual of trying to beat the snot out of each other. And wondering how she'd gotten into a scrape like this. This was the sort of thing that happened to Ranma, not her.
(At the moment, she was conveniently forgetting little things like the Mark of the Battling God, the Tunnel of Love, Herb and the Chiisuton, a little incident with a magic koi rod, and quite a few other incidents that would suggest otherwise.)
At least, that's what she told herself. Then again, recently things had been getting strange even by Neriman standards. And that,
as they say, was saying a lot.
She sat up, and sighed. For the next few days she was going to be a girl. Well, if Ranma could handle it, she could. Besides, so far it didn't seem that bad- except that she was wearing an outfit out of a pin-up magazine.
Ranma re-entered, having managed to send her father into a state of pandaness, and shook the water from her hair. "Old man managed to get a good one in today. Say, the furo is O.K. right now, and we made sure the Soap isn't there- just the ordinary stuff. You want a bath, while I get you some clothes?"
"Okay. Here's a bathrobe. You'll need it."
"Okay, but why do I need it?"
"Well, if you WANT Nabiki taking snaps of you in that peignoir..."
"Gimme the bathrobe."
On the outskirts of Nerima, a figure lurked. Although he didn't know it, the target of his eternal quest wasn't in town. Then again,
he might not have cared.
He once again had a plan. The plan was not the one he'd used the first time he'd come to Nerima- find target, beat hell out of target, and make target acquiesce to his desire.
He knew now that would not have worked, really. But the figure in question could be rather elemental at times.
THIS time, however, he had a plan that was truly brilliant- and would let him get finally even with the fiend who had cursed him-
not with what people tended to think of as his curse, but his real one.
He looked to the heavens, and repeated his vow of vengeance once again.
Soaking in the furo, Ryoga noted with a lot of nervousness that hot water felt much different on a female body than a male one. Part of the reason she was noticing his was because she was so damn focused on not looking at herself that the tactile sensations were more obvious. Somewhere in the back of her mind lurked the thought that it would be far too humiliating to contract a nosebleed at looking at herself, pass out, and drown in the tub.
It wasn't unpleasant- it was just different. The warmth was as soothing as usual- but it wasn't the same warmth. Ryoga was a person who was damn well used to disquieting sensations- usually having to do with sudden metamorphosis into a small kawaii porcine animal of the cute pig variety- but this was DISQUIETING.
There was a knock at the door, and the familiar voice of a certain aggravating redhead called, "Hey, you gonna be in there all day?"
"Why not? Maybe this soap will come off if I soak long enough."
"Doesn't work that way when you use it in curse form. I learned that from Cologne. She agrees- you're stuck for about five to seven days for sure- something about magical aura interaction and idiots who write labels in Coptic. Look, what will happen is you'll get all wrinkly, and then all the oils are gonna get lost from your skin, and your complexion goes straight to hell-"
"Like I care?"
"And you're hogging the furo, anyhow. There's others here who want to take a bath, you know. Unless you don't mind sharing."
Ryoga for once found the door in a flash, terrified beyond reason at the thought that she might find herself in a bath with an unclad Ranma or Akane or ANYONE else- never mind that it was technically just us girls. She started down the hall to Ranma's room, only to be grabbed at the shoulder by the redhead.
"Let go of me, you-"
"Forgot your towel, Lady Godiva."
Ranma decided the next week was likely to be very amusing indeed...
Ryoga felt a little better now that she was dressed. True, Ranma had stuck her in female undergarments again, but the t-shirt (with a picture of a madly grinning Goku on it) and denim shorts were far preferable to a skirt any day. In her opinion anyhow.
She looked over the breakfast table at Ranma in her school uniform, eating breakfast (When not defending her breakfast from a certain parental unit) and idly chatting with Akane about today's projected volleyball game. Idle chats between Ranma and Akane these days could sound really strange.
"You really think she will?"
"After that thing with the demon? Yup. Said she'd try one just to see why we wear them, and because she got a bit flustered when she learned why Daisuke was sitting so damn close to the court recently."
"He's a pervert."
"Naw. He's just a typical boy- almost any of 'em wanna see things like that."
"You... usually don't."
"I'm not typical."
"Most guys are really just curious, and yeah, a bit over interested... but that's just how guys are. It ain't really perverted, I don't think. What's perverted is when they do something really wrong, like peeping- no matter what Mom thinks. Or when they grab you without your OK. Or stealing your underwear. It's not wanting to do stuff like that that's perverted- it's more the DOING of it. So, I'd say Kuno is a pervert, and sure, Happosai is, and stuff like that... but Dai ain't actually peeping, he's more hoping for a free shot- and that ain't perverted, that's just... oh, yeah,
hormones." Ranma had, for obvious reasons, been paying more attention than usual in Family Planning.
"Hmmph. Well, I still call it perverted."
"Anyhow, why aren't you typical?"
Ranma sighed. "Because I've seen it all. More than I ever wanted to. And also I think I don't have any hormones. Well, not a lot."
Akane rolled her eyes. "I'm beginning to consider that a possibility."
Ranma grinned. "Anyhow, I'm glad it's a half-day. You know what? I think I might wanna hit the municipal pool and do a few laps today."
"What a nice idea, Ranma. Perhaps I'll join you," said Kasumi,
Akane sighed. "I wish I could..."
"Hey, you're doing a lot better in the Art, so maybe-"
"No, Ranma. Part of getting trained by you has... well, I realize now that I just naturally sink. Kasumi found out something about it- it's a medical condition called negative buoyancy. I really can't ever learn to swim. But maybe lying in the shallow end is O.K. for me."
"Oh." Ranma felt a bit guilty at bringing up the matter to her fiancee. "Well, sure, you can do that, and I guess it's a good place for sunbathing too-"
"You and sunbathing. What IS it with you and sunbathing?" Nabiki said, half smirking, half annoyed.
"Hey- girltype, sunbathing is GOOD."
Ryoga simply looked from speaker to speaker feeling somewhat out of the loop. (Which, after all, was the case.)
"It can't be THAT much better than sunbathing when a boy," Nabiki said.
"Yes, it can."
Ranma paused. "Look. How the HECK am I supposed to do THAT?"
Nabiki smirked. "You figure out a way."
Ranma thought furiously. "Well, I can get some Instant Nannichuan from Cologne and you can see for yourself-"
"No way, Ranma. NOT an option."
"Besides, Ranma, we don't have much in the way of male swimwear in this house anyhow," Akane added. "So- Oh, I know!"
For some reason, Ryoga felt a severe sense of dread. Something was about to happen to her that would truly cause new and untold humiliation to descend on her, something that would haunt her nightmares for the rest of her life.
"Ryoga can tell us!"
Yup. She was right.
"If it wasn't for the fact that this is all Mousses' fault, it would be yours," the blue-haired girl snarled at Ranma.
Ranma sighed. SUCH an idiot.
Ranma sighed. Ryoga had managed not to get lost during the morning, but was being pigheaded (heh) about this. "Look, you can't sunbathe properly in regular clothes."
"I don't want to sunbathe at ALL!"
"Trust me- you'll change your tune after you feel the sun.
Besides, I seem to remember back in Junior High you used to LOVE to swim. Almost made swimming team captain, except that you kept getting turned around and never actually finished a lap."
"So?" Ryoga growled, embarrassed at that memory.
"So for the first time in over a year- you CAN."
Ryoga froze. It was true- he had loved swimming. Until Jyusenkyo.
"Well... but why that thing?"
"Because you also need to try sunbathing... and that don't work in a one-piece, really. You need to feel the sun on as much bare skin as possible."
"But what will people think of me if when they SEE me?"
Ranma grinned. "They'll think, Hey, cute girl in a bikini. They won't KNOW it's you, you know."
Now, there are many styles of bikini. String, thong, tankini,
boy-cut, etc. But the technical definition of a bikini is a two piece swimsuit for female humans that reveals the navel.
Ignoring styles, cuts, and the almost infinite variants that have been created in that most popular of swimwear, you can realistically break bikinis down into two types.
Those you can swim in and those you can't.
Those you can't are held together by things that should not, upon examination, be able to. They are basically meant for sunbathing and catching the eyes of boys. If you actually try to swim in one,
especially at a place like a beach, they are unnervingly likely to decide to allow the currents to carry them off to the land of liberated bikinis.
The other type is a bit more substantial, and DOES stay put in water and current. It can be every bit as sexy as the other kind,
but it also can be practical.
What Ranma was offering Ryoga was the latter. A tiger patterned bandeau top and French cut bottom, it was simply sexy as hell- as all Ranma's swimsuits were- and swimmable, as Ranma's teal and gold chain bikini was not.
"Um. Well, I guess... And Akane did ask me to help answer the question. But... why that suit?"
Ranma grinned. "Because you need, I repeat, a bikini to sunbathe properly... and because it matches your bandanna."
There were in that part of Nerima two major high schools. One was Furinkan, where the pervasive oddness of the area seemed to be doubled. The other was St. Herbereke, which actually tended to have a somewhat lower stangeness index- but what there was was mostly named Kodachi Kuno.
However, that index had taken a sudden upswing as said gymnast walked into the changing room to meet a group of girls united in shock, the various lockers torn apart, items of clothing strewn about. "What happened HERE?" she demanded.
And one girl raised her hand, and replied, "A monster stole our underwear."
Kodachi paused. It was a matter of giri, as the school's leading student, for her to avenge their collective honor. Unfortunately she knew little about monsters, and in fact, she didn't know of anyone who did except-
(There is no hope for it. Like it or not, I shall have to ask the aid of that peasant Akane Tendo and the red headed strumpet who shares my Ranma-sama's name.)
Walking back from the school half day, Ranma and Akane chatted idly about fun at the pool. "I just hope that Ryoga can relax enough to appreciate the sun," Ranma said.
"Is it really that much nicer as a girl?"
"Yeah. I can't explain it... but it is. Weird, I know, but it's the way it is. Pity Nabiki chickened out of trying it boy-type.
Wonder what he'd of looked like..."
"Who knows? I don't think we ever saw anyone with a boy curse."
Akane giggled softly. "But I suppose it would have been turnabout."
"Yeah. Hmm... I'm half tempted to get a packet and a disposable camera... who knows, I might make a few bucks of beefcake photos."
"Just kidding. Well, sort of. I mean, she does-"
"Can you get that?"
Ranma stared at Akane in shock. "Wait, you don't mean-"
"I was just wondering... she can be so... well... Nabiki at times."
Ranma paused for a moment, and replied, "You know, I can't think of a better way to phrase it."
The two were silent for a while, and then Ranma added, "Naw, it'd never work out. She's enough trouble always borrowing your clothes without her startin' to borrow mine."
At which Akane fell off the fence, laughing.
Ryoga knew how to cook. Rather well, in fact. When you live on the road as she did, well, cooking was something you had to learn.
That is, cooking on a camp stove or a fire. A kitchen was not something she was used to... and it was not helpful. You see,
kitchens have something that backpacks do not have.
Where if merely challenged with finding things in her backpack there would have been no problem- even SHE couldn't get lost in a backpack- her attempts to help Kasumi in the kitchen ( mostly out of boredom) were creating disasters that rivaled Akanes' worst- almost.
Kasumi managed to defer any such disaster from long experience with Akane, but... it was different this time.
"Ryoga-san, could you get me some miso from the refrigerator?"
"Sure- Um, I think it's broken, it's not cold, and there's no food in here anyway."
A sigh. "That's the cleaning closet, Ryoga-san."
"Oh? Heh. I meant this door- you refrigerate linens?"
A somewhat deeper sigh. "That's the linen closet, Ryoga-san, and I'm here in the kitchen."
"Ah, he-he-heh. Is THIS it?"
The sigh took on a somewhat higher tone than normal. "Yes. More or less. But it's actually the freezer portion, so the next door..."
"Okay. Um... I only cooked campfire style, so... Um... what's miso?"
If it hadn't have been Kasumi, one might have detected a strangely groaning note in the next sigh.
Kasumi began to feel- for once- slightly flustered.
"Oi, Kasumi, where's your swimsuit?" Ranma asked her as she came out with a set of packed lunches for the day trip to the pool.
"Um. I don't think I'll be going after all, Ranma-chan. I feel a little under the weather..."
Ranma examined Kasumi, whose expression didn't look ill after all. Rather, it looked slightly nervous. For Kasumi, this was the equivalent in anyone else of a sheer full blown anxiety attack.
"Oh. Um... anything we can help with?"
Kasumi twitched imperceptibly at the mention of the word "Help".
"Oh, no! I certainly don't need any help! But it's very kind of you to ASK, Ranma!" she replied, in a voice that was not strictly strained, but had a faint tone of relaxed tension.
Something bothered Ranma slightly for a moment- but if Kasumi said she was all right, and wasn't visibly ill, then who was she to argue?
Ryoga almost had to be physically dragged out of the changing room at the municipal pool. Then again, she almost had to be dragged in in the first place. After all, the idea of suddenly being around large quantities of unclad women, although enticing to the average teenage male, was terrifying to the new girl on the block. Until Ranma confirmed that no-one was in there but her, she wouldn't enter.
After changing into that horrifying instrument of torture- that is, the tiger striped bikini- she was in terror that someone would look at her and start laughing... the strongest boy in Tokyo a mere girl in a scanty bathing suit. She needn't have.
The truth was that outside of Furinkan High School, very few people were actually aware of Ranma's curse... and only those present at the previous days Amazon-Viking-Not-A-Brawl were aware of Ryoga's new exposure to it. Instead of laughter, all she got was a few appreciative looks.
"You want to swim first, Ryo-chan?" asked Ranma. "It's really great feeling the sun dry you off."
She nodded a wordless reply, hoping that the activity of swimming would erase the nervous feelings rattling around in her head.
The coolth of the water did help a bit, though. And the long denied pleasure of swimming in a human body- even one that was so alien to her- began to relax her far more than she would have expected. Old moves and reflexes came back, and it wasn't long before the azure-haired girl was doing a classic butterfly stroke,
and imitating a butterfly in her somewhat erratic path through the water. For once, she was enjoying herself thoroughly.
Ranma sat back, a small smile on her lips, as her old friend and rival cut a swath through the pool, zipped to the ladder, almost danced towards the diving board, pulled off a perfect swan dive, and settled into a slow backstroke.
"I didn't know Ryoga could swim," mused Akane. "I've never seen him- ah, her do it."
"Well, ah, you know his sense of direction- we usually swim at a beach or someplace like that, and he'd be halfway to Hong Kong. So he or she's strictly a pool person." True enough, ignoring pig problems.
"Well, she certainly seems to be enjoying herself. I wish I could swim like that."
"Maybe you can take up SCUBA diving."
"Why?" Akane asked, puzzled.
"Hey, you're supposed to sink there- ow!" Ranma complained,
rubbing her ribs, while Akane giggled. "Okay, I was asking for that one, I guess."
Ranma slipped into the pool for a while then, while Akane simply laid back and enjoyed the water at the shallower end. The two of them found it necessary to once again drag Ryoga out, although this time it was due to the blue-head having far too much fun.
"Aw, can't I have a few more laps?" Ryoga pouted, adorably. If she'd had any idea how adorable her pouting was she would have gone Mousse-hunting.
"Hey, you're going to be a prune in a bikini if you stay in much longer. Besides you're the test subject for sunbathing, remember?"
"Oh, yeah. All right. Where are you going?"
"To change swimsuits. Like I said, you can't sunbathe properly in a one-piece." Besides, she mused, she did want to see how that new black and white checked number sunned. Few other girls, born or not, judged bikinis by both looks and comfort in sunbathing.
When Ranma returned from the change room, she froze. A terrifying sound was in the air. A sound that she knew VERY well,
and hated beyond anything else in the world. A sound that threatened to rip her mind away unless she could avoid the source.
The sound of purring.
Many people misunderstood how the Neko-ken worked. A single cat in the area would not drive Ranma into that destructive state, merely make her very nervous. It took prolonged exposure, and usually physical contact to trigger the mental transformation.
Thus, she began to scan the area to identify where the feline was, so as to best avoid it.
(where is it where is it where is it)
But she couldn't see it. The accursed feline was hiding itself.
Ranma began to suspect that it was hiding itself deliberately to taunt her. Ranma had some very funny ideas about cats.
(dirty nasty thing hiding from me)
"What are you doing, Ranma?" Akane asked, as the redhead started to look under pool chairs, tables, and benches.
"Looking for the c-cat."
Akane paused. There DID seem to be a purring sound coming from...
"Ranma, there's no cat here. It's just Ryoga." The fiancee's face bore an almost insufferable grin.
"Ryoga's doing the purring."
Indeed she was, lying back without any hesitation, blissfully discovering that in this matter Ranma had been perfectly correct.
The sun felt just plain fantastic.
"I suppose you win this one," Nabiki said.
The victorious redhead, however, wasn't listening as she stalked over to the azure-haired purring machine. "Hey, you, stop that!"
Ryoga blinked, lazily, and murmured, "Stop what?"
"I wasn't purring-"
"Yes, you were, Ryoga." This from Akane.
"I was?" She thought. "I was more humming."
"It was a purr. I KNOW purrs. Don't purr anymore," said the person who did not like purring.
"Don't YOU tell me what to do! I can purr if I want to!"
"Ummm... Ranma, Ryoga, you might want to reconsider starting a battle here," Nabiki noted, coolly. "It would be such a waste."
Akane gave Nabiki a slightly confused look. "What do you mean?"
"Oh, please. It's so obvious. I haven't had a chance to set up a betting pool yet, and the number of bets on a couple of hot little numbers like you two in a all out battle in bikinis would set me up for life- except almost no-one here knows who Ranma is and no one at all knows our cute little Ryoga-chan, so I can't set proper odds."
Ranma and Ryoga gave Nabiki a look that said, "Oh, how we WISH you were a Martial Artist so we could be justified in giving you the beating you so well deserve for that crack".
"It's too nice a day for a fight, anyway," Akane said. "I know!
Ryoga hasn't tried the other thing Ranma likes about being a girl yet."
"And that is?" Ryoga seemed skeptical that there was another upside to this.
Akane merely pointed out a cart near the poolside.
Mrs. Tanaka stared at her clothesline as it flew away.
Well, technically it wasn't flying. Something very very big and not exactly describable was flying. But it had her clothesline.
With all her lingerie.
When things like this happened, it was time to call Soun Tendo,
the most respected dojo owner in town...
No, really, he was the most respected dojo owner in town.
Although, honored reader, this writer is at a loss to explain WHY.
"Oh, MAN, this is incredible!" Ryoga said, polishing off her third ice-cream cone. The difference in taste wasn't something that she could express in words, but it was there. And it was wonderful.
"I know. And the extra scoops don't hurt none." Ranma was on her fourth.
"Why did that guy give us extra scoops, anyway?"
To that inquiry Akane responded with a great sigh. "Because you're an insanely cute girl in a bikini right now. Honestly, you're doing the same thing Ranma always does, and you don't even know you're DOING it. I can't seem to do it... why not? After all, you aren't real girls."
"I'm as real a girl as any other, Akane. Just not all the time."
Akane sighed- again. The problem here was that Ranma now considered herself both a boy and a girl- still mainly a boy, she knew, but enough of a girl to enjoy some girlish things. Where once you would have had to drag Ranma the Boy into a clothing store-
preferably with the aid of a pair of oxen and a lot of chains- you now had trouble keeping Ranma the Girl OUT of a store if she saw a pantsuit or skirt she liked the look of. When Yuka had accidentally gotten some of Ranma's DragonBall manga mixed up with her own CLAMP tankubons, Ranma had been surprisingly entertained by the accidental literature, and was now collecting Card Captor Sakura and Rayearth.
And Akane knew from personal grief that Ranma could hog the bathroom as well as any other girl, especially when it came to doing her hair.
She was VERY proud of her hair these days.
At least she was a lesbian- when a girl. Akane blinked for a moment, and then shook her head at how she had come to be grateful for that particular aberration. She certainly didn't want her fiance flirting with Mousse or Konatsu, after all.
But she also knew that Ranma eagerly awaited the chance to be a boy again... and so, for that matter, did she. She honestly missed his lean, muscular frame, his grey-blue eyes, that black pigtail...
And looking better than HIM in a dress.
Another Month was apparently bothering HER more than... um...
Oh, the irony.
The impact of these deep thoughts were interrupted by Ranma and Ryoga discussing which of the half dozen vendors to scam next. Ryoga might have normally scorned Ranma's "Anything Goes Cute Sexy Girl In A Bikini Extra Scoop" Technique, considering such activity dishonorable... but under the spell of ice cream's unstoppable power,
didn't think about it at all.
"Excuse me, sir, can you tell me the way to... um... Give me a moment, it's on the tip of my tongue..."
The passerby looked at the young man with the broom, in his rough clothing, and made a reasonable deduction. "Would that be the Tendo Dojo?"
"Yes, that was it. I have a gift from my Grandfather for Akane Tendo. Besides, I'd like to see her again."
"Just down the street and to the left. You can hardly miss it."
"I still can't believe how different the sun felt," Ryoga said on the way back to the Tendo home. "Or ice cream. That was... I don't have any words for it."
"Yeah. I think a hot bath feels better as a guy, though,
especially after a heavy workout."
"Mmmm-hmmm. Thinking back, I guess you're right about that."
Nabiki rolled her eyes. "And I suppose I can't call you on that one either?"
"You can TRY," retorted Ranma.
Akane merely shook her head, smiling. This was the happiest she'd seen the lost boy- ah, girl in a long time. Usually Ryoga would have been depressed or angry about something or other, but the swimming and sunning seemed to have cheered Ryoga up no end. She was walking along easily now, chatting with Ranma about sunshine and ice cream. How strange... and pleasant.
You could almost forget that the two girls just ahead of her weren't really girls at all- well, one wasn't, but again, in the case of Ranma it became uncertain. After all, most boys didn't have strong opinions on weither shaving or waxing was preferable.
(My fiancee is a real girl, after all... and a real boy too. And I can't wait for the boy part to come back. Stupid soap.)
"Hmm... You know, I'm a bit hungry. Want to stop for ramen? The Nekohanten's on the way, and I got to pick up some notes from Elder Cologne anyhow."
"After five ice- Oh, why do I even bother?" Akane shook her head, even more amused. "But I'm going home, myself. Nabiki, Ryoga,
Ryoga paused. "No, I think I'll follow Ranma. After all, Mousse may be in. I still have duck ass to kick."
"That ain't exactly ladylike language, Ryo-chan."
"I have never claimed to be a lady."
"Oh, so you still want to borrow my leathers-"
"Never said I was a tramp, either."
Akane sighed. Yes, much HAD changed... but some things were eternal.
Cologne looked up to see Ranma in a miniskirt and Ryoga in a t-shirt and shorts combo, and grinned. "Two such cute girls in my humble shop. Are you applying for a waitress position, Ryoga?"
Ryoga merely growled. "Don't suppose that duck-boy is around?"
"His presence has been intermittent since yesterday's follies, I fear. His efforts are very much devoted to avoiding Hilda, you see."
"She's still in town?" wondered Ranma.
"Yes. A very persistent girl, you see. See what she wants and goes after it. A shame she can't marry Mousse, in a way."
Ranma scratched her head for a moment, and then nodded. "Oh,
yeah, that treaty from last week's lessons. I didn't really click on the idea she was one of those guys. MAN, you guys got some weird history."
"I suppose it would seem that way to you, Apprentice."
"Well, I mean, Chinese Amazons I can understand. Sort of.
Because it's just a cultural thing, like you taught me. But Chinese Vikings- THAT'S strange. What's next, Chinese Inca?"
"Heh. A very good joke that, Ranma. Of COURSE there are no Chinese Inca."
Ranma started to grin, until Cologne added, "They were wiped out by the Chinese Aztecs centuries ago. NASTY bunch. One of the few times we, the Musk and the Phoenix ever teamed up- when we wiped out the Aztecs. Besides, the pyramids they kept insisting on building blocked most of the trade routes."
Ranma ceased grinning.
"At any rate, I have some more notes for you to study on herbology and chi-flows. Also, I have been thinking about certain advanced bonbori tactics that you are more than ready for. This scroll delineates the first sequence in the Fluttering Sparrow Wing style. I'd study it were I you."
"You betcha, Elder."
"Oh, and there was a sale in today's paper on those stockings you like so much."
"Thanks, but I got enough pairs."
"I still don't get how easily you adapted to this, Ranma. I'm still pretty unnerved." Ryoga looked down at herself and shuddered.
"I mean, you got me in a bra for pity's sake."
"A sportsbra, Ryoga. Easiest thing in the world."
"Still a bra."
Ranma rolled her eyes. Somehow she couldn't remember what her objections were to wearing one back before the Girl Days training had begun. It now seemed as natural to wear a bra when female as it would be to wear boxers when male.
"Whatever, let's eat, and then get back to the Dojo."
After a couple of bowls of ramen, the pair left.
Cologne sighed. Shampoo was out making deliveries, Mousse was out hiding like a duck (in fact as a duck, since he could hide in some very unfindable places that way), so the only person left to do the chores was herself. She set about doing so.
Ten minutes later she screamed.
"I REALLY don't understand how you can take this so damn calmly,
Ranma. I mean, it's been less than two days for me and I'm on the verge of, well, something. I don't know what, but something."
Ranma shrugged. "You want the truth? I don't understand completely myself. But it's okay with me. Hey, don't worry about it. In a few you'll be out of those clothes, and back into your usual rags."
"Yep, you'll be digging up truffles with the best of them in no time."
"Hey, I only did that once!"
Ranma froze. She'd been joking, of course, but... "Um... I'm pretty sure that truffles don't grow in Japan."
"Sure they do, in a little town called Sainte-Marie."
"And where is that?"
Ranma grabbed Ryoga's hand, firmly. "Come on you, I don't want to let you get lost and I GOTTA check the atlas."
"Hey! What will they think if they see two girls holding hands?"
"Nothing. Girls do that all the time. Most of them giggle when they do."
"Not gonna giggle." Ryoga was unhappy enough being led by the hand.
"Up to you. Anyway, I want to get home and eat something. I'm hungry."
"We just ATE."
"I'm still hungry."
"Are you ever not hungry?"
"Umm... now that you mention it, no?"
Ryoga rolled her eyes. "You have got to have the largest appetite of any person I have ever met."
"Yup!" Ranma replied, merrily.
(And you keep calling ME a pig,) Ryoga mused.
Akane and Ranma stared at the atlas.
"I TOLD you it was just outside of Hiroshima," Ryoga said, a bit miffed. Why didn't they ever believe her?
And Akane and Ranma remained uncertain. Had they thought to check the title page of the atlas, all would have been revealed, and the mystery solved.
The words "Soujiro Hibiki, Chief Cartographer" would have explained SOMETHING anyway.
"Is this the... um... it's a place where people practice fighting and there's a very nice girl there named Akane, and another girl who's name I forget..."
Soun Tendo blinked. "If you mean 'Is this the Tendo Dojo", then yes it is."
"Oh, good. My name is Shinnosuke... I think... and my, um, I think he's a relative or something but anyway he had a gift for Akane to say thanks for helping me a while back."
"Oh. I see. Well, I'm Soun Tendo, the owner. Please come in."
"Thank you, sir."
It was at that moment that Akane, Ranma, and Ryoga returned from perusing the atlas. Akane's face lit up. "Shinnosuke-kun!"
"Akane-san! I bought you a... um... a thing. You know, where you give someone something..."
"A gift?" Ranma said, in a tone that was dry enough to make the Sahara seem like a rainforest in comparison.
"Yeah, that's it- Have we met?"
"I'm sure I would have remembered a pretty girl like you,
"Ranma. Ranma Saotome. Akane's fiance."
"Where? I don't see him here..."
"I'm right here."
"Oh. Have we met, miss?"
Ranma began to sweat. Shinnosuke's memory had never been the sharpest in the nation, but this seemed even worse than in Ryugenzawa. "No. I'M Ranma."
"Well, it's nice to meet you, Miss Ranma. I'd like to introduce you to Akane Tendo-"
"I know Ranma already, Shinnosuke-kun," replied Akane with even more sweating than Ranma.