Blood in the pool
an alterniverse concept by gregg sharp
written for pleasure, distributed at leisure,
don't expect Great Literature

Ranma Saotome, Shampoo, Cologne, Mousse, Genma Saotome, Ryouga
Hibiki, Jusenkyo Guide, Chinese Amazons, are all trademarks Rumiko
Takahashi and VIZ.

-----------------March 02, 1992-------------------------
Lilac, Elder of the Nichieju (called by some the Joketsuzoku
while others referred to them as the Chinese Amazons), looked up at her
fellow Elder Cologne. "What happened here, anyway?"

"What can you tell me of the girl's condition?" Cologne
countered. Cologne was a representitive of the Warriors, the most
prestigious caste among the Amazons.

"First off, she's not a girl." Lilac regarded the victim. "Or
rather this is a boy who's been Jusenkyo cursed and transformed
as a result. The claw wounds across the chest look messy but are
as nothing. Her mind, though, her mind has been savaged."

Cologne's eyes narrowed. "As I thought. The Jusenkyo
Guide brought this child and her father in. They were sparring at
Jusenkyo, ignoring the Guide as they all do, when the child knocked
the father into Spring Of Drowned Panda."

Lilac nodded. "That explains the panda I saw on the way
here." Lilac was of the Healer caste, and had developed some odd
mental tricks in her youth. She put her hand over the victim's forehead
and winced.

"It's bad?" Shampoo spoke from her seat at the corner.

"Picture a healthy warrior," Lilac said, "hale of limb and
quite strong. Now run that warrior through an automated threshing
machine. Using the physical body as a reference, the child is blind,
has had all four limbs removed, and is badly mangled. Also there are
old wounds which have never properly healed."

"Yes, child, it's bad," Cologne said, noting the way her
great granddaughter's face had suddenly developed a green tint to it.
"As it is mental damage, it can be healed somewhat easier than if it
were the physical body."

"I dislike using a misleading term like easy in this case."
Lilac sat back and flicked her eyes to Cologne. "The boy's a fighter
and a pretty good one too. I can sense his spirit wasn't crushed by
the assault on his mind."

"What did this, anyway?" Cologne took the kettle of hot
water and poured out the exact amount necessary to trigger the
change back to the boy's uncursed form. Cologne noted Shampoo's
stare and suppressed a smile.

"He bled in the Springs Of Jusenkyo, polluting the waters
and angering the spirits. As he was the one submerged at that time,
they had their vengeance upon him instead of going after the panda."

"Ah, the Spirits of Jusenkyo. The boy must be quite a
fighter to have survived this much if they were truly annoyed."
Cologne approved. A male with the heart of an Amazon, perhaps.

"That's the impression I get." Lilac glanced over at
Shampoo. "I take it that you're going to use this as an opportunity
to teach Shampoo some of the Healer's Art?"

"Yes, Lilac." Cologne suppressed a smile as Shampoo
stepped up next to the boy and traced a line across the clenched
jaw. "Shampoo, Lilac will show you some basic care for the boy.
If you DO go on to become my Heir, then you need to learn
something of the other castes besides Warrior."
---------March 10, 1992--------------------
Shampoo took the damp cloth and wiped the boy's
face again. The boy twitched.

Shampoo's eyes gleamed at the sign of a reaction
and continued. Yes, facial muscles twitched. The limbs remained
limp and still felt slightly cool to the touch. But now there was
a definite reaction to her presence.

The boy's father spoke no Chinese, in ANY dialect
as far as she could tell. Most likely the son was likewise ignorant
of the language. Sash had turned out to have a Japanese-Chinese
dictionary and phrase book (no doubt for those weird Japanese
comics she kept reading) and so Shampoo used some of those
to "talk" to the boy.

No obvious reaction to speaking, though Lilac
assured Shampoo that on some level the boy was aware of his
environment. That the boy was still fighting his way free of the
prison his body had become.

Lilac had described the damage done by the spirits
in terms that Shampoo had understood. Lilac had also gone
into detail about the warrior's heart. Shampoo knew that if she
were to face some physically superior opponent, she would not
back down in the slightest. Against something like this?

If she were the one trapped inside her own skull,
blind and paralyzed, lost and alone in the dark, how long would
she be able to keep fighting? Eight days later, and the boy was
still fighting.

"So, Saotome Ranma," Shampoo said as she held
the boy's hand, "I am Shampoo, I am pleased to meet you."
Shampoo glanced over the sample phrases and wondered what
else to say. Small talk had never been her strong suit.

Shampoo gasped and stared at the hand she held.
There had been a squeeze, light to be sure, but she was sure
that had been a replying squeeze. She felt another.

"LILAC! LILAC! HE'S MOVING!" Shampoo didn't
want to leave the boy alone. She wondered at her own feelings
on this. Just wanted to do a good job to please the Elders. Yeah.
--------------March 14, 1992-----------------------
Shampoo took the bowl and began spooning
some of the warm broth into the boy's mouth.

"SHAMPOO!" Mousse came bounding into the
room. "So this is where you've been. Oh, Shampoo, I've missed
you so much."

"I'm very busy, Mousse. What do you want?"
Shampoo looked up from feeding the patient to glare at the
interruption. She only had a couple of hours each day to spend
with the patient, but everyone agreed that he seemed to
respond more in those two hours than at any other time.

Lilac was even talking about how Shampoo
might even be a better Healer than she was a Warrior.

There were other things mentioned between
Lilac and Cologne, things the two Elders discussed when
they thought Shampoo couldn't hear. Ling Ling and Lung
Lung relayed some of those comments. One was that the
boy struggling to break the bonds imposed by the Spirits
seemed to have captured Shampoo's fascination.

Completely untrue, Shampoo was quick to say.
Though she HAD thought some rather steamy things
before she had been interrupted giving the boy a sponge
bath. And she'd just been getting to the most interesting
part, too.

"Oh, Shampoo, did you make me any soup?"

"Stupid Mousse, this for patient." Shampoo
gestured at the figure laid out on the bed.

Mousse adjusted his glasses and was about
to accept that when he noticed the other bowl. The bowl of
warm water and the wash cloth in it. A little voice began
screaming in the back of his mind. "Shampoo, you're not
bathing in here, in front of this...outsider!"

Shampoo made a face. "Of course not. I'm
only here for a couple of hours a day. I bathe at the
bathhouse. This is for the patient's sponge bath." Shampoo
paused. Maybe she wouldn't be interrupted this time. She
found the idea had a certain appeal. Hmmm.

"Oh, well, that's OK then." Mousse shrugged.
This lasted almost a minute before the picture penetrated.
"Y-y-y-you bathe HIM?"

Shampoo, still puzzling over her feelings about
bathing in front of the outsider, nodded absently. She
realized a faint blush had come to her cheeks and was
discarding the notion that she would just do such a thing
in order to see if the boy reacted at all.

Mousse froze, staring at Shampoo. Noticing
the blush. Noticing how distracted Shampoo was. "DIE!"
-------------------------
Pain lanced anew through Ranma's body. His mind
screamed. His mental body was still mangled but was healing. Now
instead of a mangled shape in a prison cell, a more accurate
image would be a slightly less mangled version but chained
and blindfolded and locked in a cage.

At his feet and behind the prisoner, a battlescarred
tomcat looked up and ran out of the cage, towards the light
and escape.
--------------------------
Shampoo was surprised at the amount of strength
Mousse was showing. His sword was poised to ram down into
the boy's flesh again, this time going for the killing stroke. His
first thrust had been turned along the ribs, and he had been
blinded by rage and jealousy.

"No, Mousse, you go away. This is Shampoo's duty."

"I won't! I won't allow this, Shampoo!"

"Mrrrroooowwwww."

The two struggling Amazons blinked and looked at
the patient, absently continuing their struggle.

The boy was moving stiffly, but moving. His eyes
looked oddly flat and devoid of intelligence. He was also
making an odd noise that sounded like a hiss.

Mousse concluded the boy had been faking it
in order to get attention from Shampoo.

Shampoo concluded that the Spirits Of Jusenkyo
had done something else nasty here.

Coming to all fours and hissing like a cat, Ranma
should have looked silly to the two warriors. For some reason,
neither felt particularly amused.

Ranma's eyes swept over the two struggling figures,
noted the sword still dripping his own blood was being held by
the male. The Cat came to the obvious conclusion.

Eyes seeming to glow, Ranma leapt, nothing playful at
all in pose or expression.

Shampoo twisted aside, instinctively. Mousse used
the opportunity to slash out at Ranma who moved easily around
the blade. Fingers slashed deep through the Chinese boy's robes
and into the flesh beyond.

Mousse screamed as the boy's first strike not only
drew blood but almost exactly duplicated his own earlier blow.
Except there were four raking cuts instead of the one.

Shampoo watched as the patient's next blow threw
Mousse out the door and into the dirt outside. She noted that
the patient was still bleeding profusely and seemed to be still
agitated. She moved a little away from the doorway.

The Cat noted the movement and read the posture
of the female. His nostrils twitched and "recognized" the girl
now. This was Caregiver, one who spoke quietly to him and
provided food. He allowed his posture to relax, and went to
Caregiver. He was injured. Caregiver's attention was needed.

Shampoo shielded her face as she was bowled
over by the boy. Feeling the boy pinning her to the ground,
she opened her eyes to see that her patient was looming up
in front of her. As his face came up and he gave her a cat
sort of kiss.

"Well now, Shampoo. THIS is hardly what I
expected." Cologne chuckled at the sight.

"Ahhhh!" Shampoo briefly struggled. "Let
me up! Let me up! Ohhhhh, you!"

Finally the Cat made a horrible noise in his
throat and passed out.

"The Cat Fist, eh? Been awhile since I saw
that."

"Must have been a hundred fifty years, at
least, Cologne." Lilac moved in and started probing the
wound. "Ugly and he's lost a lot of blood, but we can
fix this a lot easier than the mental damage."

"Great Grandmother. What is this Cat Fist?"

"A powerful though easily defeated technique,
providing you have the right preparations ahead of time."
Cologne shook her head. "If that panda hadn't abandoned
his child here after the first week, I'd have serious words
with him for this."

Lilac made a noise in the back of her throat. "The
boy's essentially schizophrenic. His normally dominant mind
was the one attacked by Jusenkyo. The Cat is largely a
seperate entity, one that embodies the survival instinct.
This also gives us a way to speed his recovery, though."

Cologne smiled at her great-granddaughter's
worried expression. "Don't worry so, child. Now that he's
defeated you, for all that he doesn't know it right now, we
can justify using one of the treasures of the Amazons to
reach his mind."

Lilac glanced over at Cologne before turning a
thoughtful expression to the boy. "Who to send in there?
I'm too old for this sort of thing. You, on the other hand,
Cologne, are entirely too valuable to the tribe to risk your
mind being contaminated."

Shampoo looked from one Elder to the other,
then returned her attention to stitching the wound in the
boy's side. "Would someone tell me what you two are
talking about? You know a way to heal Ranma's mind?"

"Shampoo, there is an ancient treasure of our
people that allows one to enter another's thoughts. If one
could reunite the Cat and the Man, the damage would be
greatly reduced. Then one would merely need to free those
additional bonds imposed from without." Lilac studied
Shampoo then met Cologne's gaze with a wink and a nod.
She was only in her nineties herself and could remember
what it was like to be young.

Cologne met Lilac's wink with a raised eyebrow
and a smirk that was quickly banished. She remembered
Shampoo's great grandfather and there were some cold
nights she dearly missed him. Even if he had been just a
male. "It would be best if the one entering his mind was
a family member or someone with a real connection to him.
Someone he wouldn't perceive as a threat or stranger. What
a pity his father left."

Shampoo's mouth firmed and she turned to
confront the two Elders. "I'll do it."

"Shampoo, you're too young, aren't you?"
Lilac stared at her. "He's just your patient, isn't he?"

"I am a warrior!" Shampoo looked at both
Elders, not a hint of backdown in her posture. "Besides,
even if he doesn't know it, he pinned me and gave me
the Kiss Of Marriage. That gives me more of a connection
to him than anyone."

"Well, I don't know." Cologne seemed to
consider something. "Both Azure and Blush spent
considerable time with him. And I KNOW Dowel hasn't
found anyone to marry yet."

"Great grandmother. This is MY duty."
Shampoo's gaze met Cologne's, daring her Elder to
find any reason that she couldn't do this.

Cologne's ancient face twisted into a
slight smile. "Well then, we should make some
preparations."
--------------March 15, 1992-----------------------
Cologne exchanged a pipe with Lilac.
"Well, Shampoo won't make Heir..."

Lilac nodded. "Not her fault. She's
done everything you've asked of her. Not everyone
has it in them to shoulder that kind of burden."

"True," Cologne drew another puff of
the pungent herbal mix. "Well, she'll be making the
trip soon. Entering the boy's mind. About time too,
I was wondering if she'd ever find a suitable boy."

Lilac smiled slightly. "Much like my
Douglas."

"Oh please, not that again." Cologne
snorted and rolled to her feet. "It's time to make
the preparations."

"Already done. I take it you're going
to monitor and work on merging the Cat and the
Man while Shampoo tries to defeat the cage?"

"Exactly." Cologne looked away, off
into some distance only she could see. "I hope it
works out for the child. If I could have only spent
more time with..."

Lilac cackled. "Trust me, Cologne. I
understand completely. We must all make some
sacrifices from time to time, must we not?"

"It is The Way," Cologne said with
a nod. "Well, let's get started, shall we?"
-----------------------------
Shampoo entered a vast dark corridor,
noting that there were many windows, but the light
from the windows didn't seem to enter into that
corridor.

A momentary urge to flee back out of
the room was quickly squelched. Was she not an
Amazon warrior?

Shampoo came to the first "window"
and blinked at the scene. A memory, she knew
from Lilac's description.

She stopped at each, some of the scenes
not making much sense to her. Many dealt with
fights and training in the martial arts. One dealt
with a friend. Another dealt with receiving the
curse.

Finally Shampoo came to where she
could see the cage. Her great grandmother had
warned her not to stay too long but there had been
so much to see. Now that she saw the cage and
the shackles holding Ranma, Shampoo began to
regret the amount of time she had spent looking
around.
---------------------------------
"What's taking that girl?" Cologne
was past worried and into alarmed.

"Don't seperate them, that could be
as dangerous as anything that she could be
going through at her end." Lilac sat back,
concealing her own worry. "Still, it didn't take
you nearly that long to coax the Cat to rejoin
with the Man."

Cologne shrugged. "The Cat is a
survival mechanism. When remaining apart
threatens the whole, it could be quite reasonable
in its own way."

Another long pause passed before Lilac
spoke again. "I suppose I ought to go in at least
far enough to monitor the two. As you've already
dipped in, you shouldn't go in there again."

"I know that," Cologne snapped. "I may
not be a Healer, but I do know enough about
personality contamination not to try that!"

"Now, now, Cologne. I'll just take a
quick peek and see what I need to find out."
Lilac put a gnarled hand on the stone near
where Ranma and Shampoo's hands rested.

"Oh dear," whispered Lilac a moment
later.

"What is it?" Cologne knew that Lilac
was sufficiently versed in such things that she
could keep some communication going.

"Your granddaughter has entered
the cage, but it seems that the Spirits left a
further trap. No wonder you coaxed the Cat into
joining with the Man so easily."

"Lilac, tell me what's going on or
I swear I'm coming in there after you."

"Your daughter is trying to keep from
becoming one with the man. The Spirits DID know
about the Catfist training and the split personality
after all. They laid a trap that would have caused
Cat and Man to blend, but neither would have been
free then." Lilac paused. "Shampoo, stop struggling.
Remember the story of how the Amazon fought the Tar
Golem!"

"Can she get free?"

"Not without help." Lilac's eyes moved
underneath their lids. "Ah well, you know the Healer's
Oath, Cologne?"

Cologne's eyes widened. "So..."

A smile teased itself along Lilac's lips.
"I'll tell Douglas you said hello."

"You do that." Cologne sighed. "And if you
see that unrepetant rascal of mine...tell him he's going
to have to wait awhile longer."

Lilac nodded and seemed to relax as her
mind passed through the connection.

Cologne watched as the feeble pulse visible
in Lilac's neck stopped. A moment later both Ranma
and Shampoo's hands jerked back from the stone as if
it had turned suddenly hot.
----------March 20,1992-----------------------
"How is she, today, Ranma?" Cologne
smiled up at the muscular young boy before her.

"Shampoo is doing quite well, honored
Elder," Ranma said, smiling back. "Her strength should
be back to normal quite soon."

"Excellent, and how are you adapting to
your new duties?" Cologne thought that with the
amount of TLC being directed towards her great
granddaughter, Shampoo was likely already fully
recovered and was simply enjoying being doted
upon for the first time in her life. Well, let her. She'd
only be young once.

"I am...still quite uncertain of all this,
Elder." A confused expression settled onto the
boy's face. "You explained that this was Lilac's
doing, and that she..."

"Lilac took duty quite seriously, son in
law. Her gifts were many, and had been passed on
from mother to daughter for generations. As she had
no true Heir in this generation, who else should she
pass both Duty and Gift on to?"

"Honored Elder, there still remains..."

"I know, son in law." Cologne nodded.
"When Shampoo is up to it, I expect you two to
take your honeymoon and go visit your parents.
Take your time, then return here to take up your
duties as Healer."

"Yes, honored Elder." Ranma's look
towards the Elder was some of his own cockiness,
and some of Lilac's responsibility, and some of
Shampoo's own familiarity.

Cologne flipped up to stand on the
hitching post near Shampoo's home. She spoke
loudly enough for her voice to carry a distance.
"Mind you, there are some duties, SOME duties,
that you MUST take up and do so immediately."

Ranma stared puzzled. "As a Healer?
As an outsider male? As one of those kissed by
Jusenkyo?"

"No. As Shampoo's Husband."
Cologne's cane swung out and managed to
knock the boy flying into his own home. "Shampoo,
you've been letting the boy get off entirely too
easy. Be sure to remind him that a Husband that
is all work and no play..."

Remembering her own husband, many
many decades past, Cologne's smile got a little
wistful. "All work and no play, well, THAT'S no
fun, now is it?"
====================================
yo, people, just a pleasant little fic. Besides,
i promised Shampoo a "Shampoo gets Ranma" story
awhile back.

ja ne,
gregg