A Midsummer Night's Beauty, Part I
Author's note: This story is a continuation on the Ranma 1/2 anime, including the OVA's and movies. Therefore, keep in mind that anything exclusive to the manga hasn't happened in this story.
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 is not my idea, it was created by a very talented manga artist named Rumiko Takahashi. The only characters I'll claim are my own original characters that I've added into this story. Just so you know.
Although they weren't doing deliveries for the day due to Shampoo's absence, business at the Cat Café was going smoothly. In order to keep Mousse from running off to Dr. Tofu's clinic, Cologne told him that she'd sent Shampoo on an errand and that she'd be back in a couple of days. It was a blatant lie, but it was for the best, she figured.
Customers didn't normally make a noisy entrance, so when the restaurant door suddenly swung open, Cologne nearly dropped the food she was preparing. When she turned around, she saw a soaking wet Akane running frantically toward her.
"Goodness, child, what's the fuss?"
"Ranma and Shampoo, they...they just...disappeared!" Akane said, looking very distraught.
"What?!" Mousse yelled, running up and grabbing hold of Cologne. "What happened to my Shampoo?!"
Cologne wasted no time driving Mousse to the floor with a swift whack from her cane. "Put your glasses on, you idiot! Now then, what do you mean they disappeared?"
"I...I ran to where Ranma was fighting because I wanted to make sure he was alright, and then when I got there I saw him and Shampoo and some other people, a-and this guy yelled really loud, and there was this big flash of light, and then they were all gone!"
Cologne seemed perplexed as she tried to piece all of this together. "Shampoo is supposed to be at Dr. Tofu's clinic...but I suppose it's possible she would go help the son-in-law, despite my telling her otherwise. More importantly, are you certain that you saw exactly what you just described to me?"
"Y-yes, I'm positive," Akane replied.
Things were beginning to make sense to the Amazon elder now. Assuming these people were really the pair that her great-granddaughter thought they were, the technique Akane saw them use was probably the reason they always managed to evade authorities in China.
Cologne took a drag from her pipe as she thought back to something she'd once read. "I have heard of a technique like this, crazy as it may sound. It was developed many, many years ago by some peculiar people in a very secluded part of China. If I'm not mistaken, I believe they simply called it the Shift technique."
"W-what's it do?" Akane asked.
"Something about creating a beacon of sorts with one's own ki energy and being able to return to that point from anywhere by creating a bond between yourself and the power of the very earth you stand on. Simply put, I suppose you could call it a teleportation technique. But this is something that I read about in a book that was centuries old. It's very hard for me to believe someone would still be able to use it."
"Well, where did they take Ranma then?!"
"We really have no way of knowing that without knowing their intentions. For all we know they could be on the other side of the world right now," Cologne told her.
Beginning to feel an overwhelming despair, Akane dropped to her knees. "No...what...what are we supposed to do?"
"There is nothing we can do but wait for some kind of message from them. I'll let you know if I hear anything, but for now you should probably let Ranma's father know about all of this."
Cologne looked toward the door as an exhausted Ryoga appeared holding his umbrella. "Akane, there you are! What's going on?!"
Stunned and horribly depressed, Akane stood up and ran out of the restaurant. Her mind was so distant that she didn't even notice Ryoga as she passed him.
"Hey, Akane, what's wrong?! Wait for me!" Ryoga yelled as he went after her.
While the customers who'd been watching the exchange went back to eating their meals, Cologne rubbed her forehead and reluctantly went back to her cooking. This wasn't a good situation, but it was far from hopeless, she thought. Shampoo and Ranma were two of the most promising young fighters she'd seen. If they were together, they would surely be fine...wouldn't they?
The warmth of the sun.
The cool breeze.
The sound of grass rustling in the wind.
All of these could be felt or heard by Ranma as he began to stir. It sure was a nice day out, he thought. But wasn't it about to rain earlier?
When he opened his eyes he found himself blinded by the glare from the sun and instinctively raised his arm to shield himself. It was then he noticed his arm was covered in a dark red substance. After a bit of digging into his exhausted mind, he began to remember what transpired.
Bit by bit, a scene began to appear in his mind. He saw a large figure looming over him, looking as if it were ready to strike him down. He looked up at the figure and waited, but everything after that was a blur.
Ranma felt a sharp pain in his chest and slowly sat himself up. He placed his hand over the cut in his shirt, wincing his eyes as he felt the sharp pain again.
"Li," he said softly. "I was fightin' with that Li guy and he almost killed me, and then there was that big flash. Am I dead or somethin'?"
Ranma started to look around at his surroundings. There was a mountainous terrain with grass and hills, but no trees anywhere in sight. As he repositioned himself to look at the area behind him, he felt something warm and soft under his right hand.
When he looked down to see what made the sound, Ranma saw Shampoo laying next to him. And the warm, soft feeling in his hand, he realized, was one of her well developed breasts.
"Woah! Sorry, I didn't mean to...!"
Ranma stopped panicking as he realized Shampoo was still asleep. He quickly looked to his left and then to his right to see if anyone had seen him.
"Okay, no one saw that and it never happened," he muttered to himself. "That's right, I remember now. Li said he was takin' us home or somethin' like that, and now me and Shampoo are both here. But where the heck is this place?"
Ranma slowly stood up, trying to ignore the pain in his legs. He looked around once more and tried to think of where he was.
"Man, serious deja vu. I know I've seen this place before..."
Try as he might, Ranma couldn't remember where he'd seen this area. Standing around thinking about it wouldn't do him any good, he figured. He just needed to find someone that could tell him where he was.
He slowly walked over to Shampoo and lifted her up in his arms. Noticing what looked to be a path to his right, Ranma began walking and looked down at Shampoo's peacefully sleeping face. She really was something else. She'd saved his life when they went to Nekonron, and now this. It kind of made Ranma feel like a jerk when he thought about how he'd been avoiding her ever since they'd met. He'd have to make it up to her one of these days, he figured.
After close to an hour of walking, Ranma was beginning to tire. His wounds were causing him a constant flow of pain, his arms were sore from carrying the still sleeping Shampoo, and to top it all off it was extremely warm outside.
"That damn Li bastard," he muttered. "He could've at least let us know where the hell he was takin' us. Damn, I need to find somewhere to rest soon or I'm gonna pass out."
Ranma started looking around for a tree or anything he could use to get out of the heat for a while. He didn't spot anything at first, but after a few more minutes he noticed something a ways ahead of him.
"Hey, looks like a village or somethin'. Maybe they'll let me rest there for a while."
Once Ranma reached the village, the residents immediately began staring at him, and he couldn't help but notice that all of them seemed to be female. Somehow this all seemed vaguely familiar to him. Then he noticed something that gave his memory a little nudge. In the middle of the village was a large log that was suspended horizontally.
"I remember that thing...I fought Shampoo on it back when me and Pop were travelin' through China..."
Ranma turned and again looked at a group of women who were staring at him. They were all wearing Chinese clothing.
Ranma's jaw nearly hit the ground. "You gotta be kiddin' me! That Li jerk brought me and Shampoo to China?!"
As he continued to express his shock, one of the villagers who'd come to see what was going on happened to recognize the girl in Ranma's arms.
"My lil' Shampie!" the girl cried out in Mandarin.
Ranma quickly gathered himself as the girl ran over to him. She was wearing a white, Chinese dress that looked like something Shampoo might have worn and had long brown hair that ran down to her knees.
"Umm...sorry, I couldn't understand ya. D'you know Shampoo?" Ranma asked her.
"You're Japanese?!" Aroma asked in Japanese.
Ranma wasn't sure who this was, but he was glad at least someone could understand him. "Err...yeah. So, you know Shampoo?"
"I'm her big sister, Aroma! What did you do to my lil' Shampie?!" she asked suspiciously.
Ranma snickered a bit at the nickname. "It's fine, Sh-Shampie's just sleepin'."
Aroma stood up and leered at him. "Nobody makes fun of what I call my little sister, got it?"
"Y-yes ma'am..." Ranma replied nervously. This woman was downright frightening when she got angry.
"Now then, who are you?" Aroma asked him.
Aroma's mood brightened up immediately at the mention of his name. "Oh! You're Ranma! I've heard so much about you from Granny! Did you come here to get married then, Mr. Husband?"
"No, I didn't! Look, it's a long story, you mind if we rest somewhere?"
Aroma then noticed the wounds all over Ranma's body. "Oh my, I'm sorry! I didn't see you were hurt. Lucky for you, I happen to be a doctor. Just follow me and you can rest at our place for a while."
"Thanks a bunch," Ranma said. He could worry about Li later. Suddenly finding himself in China was quite a shock and right now all he wanted to do was relax for a while.
After leaving Shampoo in her old bedroom, Ranma followed Aroma down to the bathing area of their home.
"This place is a little more...normal than I woulda thought," Ranma said as he looked around at the interior of the house.
"Well it's not like we're primitives here. We just live away from the rest of society," Aroma replied, pulling up a stool for Ranma to sit on. "Now take off your clothes and have a seat, please."
Ranma gave her a funny look. "Umm...do I really need to take my clothes off?"
"I see cuts all over your body, Ranma. It's much easier for me to treat them all if you just strip down. You can leave your boxers on, or you can remove those too if you like..."
"I think I'll leave 'em on, thanks."
"Oh, phooey..." Aroma pouted.
Ranma flinched as Aroma washed and then sprayed disinfectant on the large cut in his chest. "You seem a little less restrained than everyone else in this village."
"That's to be expected," Aroma smiled. "Most people here don't leave the village very often, but I'm different. I always enjoyed treating people's injuries more than fighting. Eventually Granny sent me off to other countries to expand my medical knowledge, and I became a doctor. Being well traveled, I guess I'm more comfortable with outsiders than the rest of them."
Ranma quirked an eyebrow at her. "By Granny you mean...Cologne?"
Aroma nodded. "That's right. She's been looking after me and Shampie all our lives."
Ranma laughed as he thought about how different she and Shampoo were. "It's tough to believe you and Shampoo are sisters. You seem a lot different. Actually, Shampoo never even told me she had a sister..."
A cry of pain suddenly echoed throughout the house as Aroma pushed down on Ranma's wound.
"We've...always been a little distant," Aroma said, sulking. "Still, Shampie could at least acknowledge that I exist!"
"Oww! I'm sorry! I'm sorry! Stop already!"
Aroma calmed herself down and continued to work on Ranma's cuts. "So, Ranma, seeing as how this is going to take a while, why don't you tell me what you and Shampie are doing in China all of a sudden?"
"Oh, yeah, sure..."
Ranma told Aroma about everything that happened in the last two days, from Shampoo being attacked by Meilin, to his fight with Li, and then to waking up earlier and realizing he was in China.
Aroma was intrigued by the tale, to say the least. "That's quite a story. Two exiles from Seven Luck Mountain heard that you were strong and came looking for you and Shampie to test themselves. Awfully selfish pair, aren't they? Disrupting people's lives like that just so they can indulge in their own desires."
"Yeah, no kiddin'," Ranma agreed.
"So, what now?"
Ranma began scratching his head. "I dunno really. That jerk just brought us here and didn't tell us nothin'."
"They'll probably come looking for you at some point, you know," Aroma said.
"Yeah, you're probably right. I'll have to start trainin' myself for the next fight real soon."
"Just don't push yourself too hard. You need to let these wounds heal first."
Aroma sprayed disinfectant on one last cut and clasped her hands together. "All finished! I washed all around those cuts, but the rest of your body's still covered in sweat and dirt. Go ahead and take a bath so long as you're in here. I'll bandage you up after you're done."
Ranma leaned down and sniffed his arms. "Guess a bath couldn't hurt. Oh, 'bout my clothes..."
"I'll clean and sew them up for you later. In the meantime, we'll see if we can't find something else around here for you to wear."
"Thanks, I appreciate it."
"Hey, anything for my little sister's future husband," Aroma smiled as she walked out and closed the bathroom door behind her.
"Again with the husband stuff..." Ranma grumbled.
As Ranma began to draw the bath water, he looked down at the large cut in his chest and angrily clenched his fists. "I'm gonna get Li back for all this..."
Aroma was sitting at a table waiting for Ranma to finish his bath when she heard the bedroom door swing open.
Shampoo looked extremely confused as she stared at Aroma from the doorway. "Big sister?"
Aroma happily jumped up from her chair and wrapped her arms around her sister. "Shampie, you're awake! Ohh, I missed you so much, Shampie!"
"Name no is Shampie! How many time tell you no call Shampoo that?!" Shampoo yelled.
"Ohh, you're always so mean to me. By the way, you're home if you haven't already noticed."
"Shampoo see that already! How Shampoo get here?!"
Aroma sat back down and tried to explain the situation. "Well, I guess some guy named Li used some weird technique to bring you to China, and then Ranma found you and carried you here and you've been asleep ever since. Something like that..."
"Ranma?! Where Ranma at?!" Shampoo asked frantically, remembering how bad of shape Ranma was in after his fight with Li.
"Calm down, he's taking a bath right now. Don't worry, I took care of all his wou-"
Shampoo didn't bother waiting for her sister to finish. She immediately ran over to the bathroom door and swung it open.
A startled Ranma covered up his private parts with a towel as he stared up at her. "Umm...Shampoo...?"
Shampoo's eyes started to tear up when she saw that Ranma was alive and well. She didn't think twice before kneeling down and wrapping him in a hug.
"Shampoo so happy Ranma okay!"
Ranma was starting to feel a little uncomfortable as Shampoo hugged him from outside the bathtub. "Y-yeah, I'm really glad you're okay too, Shampoo, but could this wait? I'm kinda naked right now..."
Shampoo eyed Ranma's body and started to blush. "Shampoo dirty too. Shampoo join Ranma in bath, yes?"
"Are you nuts?! Akane would kill me!" Ranma said, fearing for his life.
"Akane no is here," Shampoo smiled.
Ranma hadn't even realized that yet. She was right, this was China, not Japan. Akane wasn't here...nobody was.
"Okay, maybe not, but we're just friends, right?" Ranma asked.
"Friends take bath together too..."
"Yeah, when they're little kids, not teenagers!"
Shampoo giggled as she started to rub her chest against Ranma's shoulder. "Ranma no want to see Shampoo body?"
Ranma felt like he was about to die from embarrassment. "No, it ain't like that, I just...!"
Shampoo burst out laughing as Ranma continued to wriggle uncomfortably. "Silly Ranma, Shampoo just joke is all. Ranma so much fun to tease."
"Gimme a break, will ya?" Ranma groaned.
Aroma couldn't help but giggle a little at the fun Shampoo was having. "Alright, that's enough, you two. Let's let Ranma finish his bath, Shampie."
Shampoo glared up at her sister. "You stop calling Shampoo that!"
"Scary!" Aroma giggled. "Why don't you go find Ranma something to wear while his clothes are being fixed up?"
Shampoo perked up at the suggestion. She had to admit, she did like the thought of Ranma wearing something she'd picked out for him. It was something you'd see any good wife do for her husband, after all.
"Okay, Shampoo go!"
Aroma looked down at Ranma as Shampoo rushed out of the bathroom. "Sorry about that, Ranma. Shampie's a very passionate girl."
"Ya think?" Ranma said sarcastically.
Aroma had a sinister look on her face as she started to undo the top of her dress. "Maybe you'd like to take a bath with me instead? Hmm?"
Ranma continued to blush as he sank down into the bath water. "Now, look...!"
Aroma began laughing and stuck her tongue out at him. "Shampie's right, you are fun to tease. Now hurry up and finish so I can bandage those cuts up."
Once the door closed again, Ranma laid back in the tub and let out a long sigh. He took it all back, Shampoo and Aroma were exactly alike. Staying with these two was going to be an adventure, no doubt about it.
After Ranma finished his bath and dried himself off, Aroma bandaged him to the point that he felt like a mummy.
"Jeez, I got beat up more than I thought..."
"You'll have to try moving a little faster next time, then maybe you won't get all cut up," Aroma teased.
Ranma felt a little depressed as he remembered how fast those energy crescents had come at him. "Yeah, I know..."
"Here go, Ranma! Shampoo find you clothes," Shampoo said as she ran into the room. The clothes she brought were almost identical to the Chinese shirt and pants he usually wore, only they were both white.
"Ranma no like? Shampoo think Ranma look good in white."
Ranma slipped the pants on and began fastening the shirt. "Nah, I kinda like white too."
"Aiyaa! Shampoo happy Ranma like!"
Ranma tried a few kicks and punches to get used to his new attire. "Yup, these should do just fine."
"Looking good, Ranma. Who would've thought Daddy's clothes would fit you so well?" Aroma said.
Ranma looked down at his outfit again. "Oh, these are your dad's clothes?"
"Shampoo sure Father no mind. He no use for very long time," Shampoo said.
"Well, if you say so. I'm only borrowin' 'em anyway," Ranma replied.
Aroma nodded in agreement. "I'm glad we got that taken care of. So, what will you do now, Ranma?"
Ranma seemed unsure as he looked over at Shampoo. "I guess that kinda depends on whether we hear anythin' else from Li and Meilin."
"That's true," Aroma said. "Well, in any case, you're free to stay here as long as you like. For tonight though, I think the two of you should just get a good night's sleep. You can plan your next move in the morning."
Ranma and Shampoo couldn't agree more. After everything that'd happened, they were both mentally and physically exhausted. A nice, long sleep sounded like pure bliss.
Ranma blushed as his stomach made a loud growling noise all of a sudden.
"Oh, that's right. You guys probably haven't eaten much today, have you?" Aroma asked.
Ranma planted his face in the table as his stomach growled again. "I haven't eaten since breakfast this morning..."
"Well then, I'd better go whip you up some food, huh?" Aroma laughed.
"Shampoo help too!" she said excitedly.
Aroma happily wrapped her arms around her little sister again. "Yay! I can't remember the last time I got to cook a meal with my lil' Shampie!"
"You no call Shampoo that!"
Aroma playfully stuck her tongue out at Shampoo. "Sorry, sorry. Don't you worry, Ranma, we'll cook up something delicious."
"Great, lookin' forward to it..." Ranma said nervously. These Amazon sisters had a really...weird relationship.
Once nightfall came, Ranma and Shampoo were both plenty ready to get some sleep. Despite Shampoo offering to share her bed with Ranma, he opted to sleep in one of the beds that Aroma occasionally let her patients use. Never one to let a good opportunity go to waste, Shampoo decided to stay in the bed next to Ranma for the night. So long as they weren't sharing the same bed, Ranma didn't mind it so much.
Later that night after they'd all fallen asleep, Shampoo awoke and looked around the room to find that Ranma's bed was empty. Curious about where he'd wandered off to, Shampoo searched the house for him, but he was nowhere to be found.
Remembering something from a few nights ago, Shampoo walked outside in her nightgown. There was a full moon out which illuminated the entire village. It was one of the sights Shampoo had missed while she was in Japan.
"Is pretty," Shampoo said as she looked at the dazzling sight. She then hopped up to the roof of she and Aroma's home.
Ranma lifted his head and looked up at her. "Oh, hey, Shampoo. What brings you up here?"
"Shampoo ask Ranma same thing," she said as she sat down next to him.
Ranma leaned back and looked up at the sky again. "I thought it'd be easy to sleep, but it ain't. Thought I'd come up here and just think for a while."
"What Ranma think about?" Shampoo asked.
"Just how crazy everything's been. First I find you a bloody mess, then I get blown away in a fight, and now I'm in China."
Shampoo smiled as she looked down at him. "Is no usual day in Japan."
"Yeah, no kiddin'," Ranma sighed. "I dunno what's gonna happen from now on, but you and me need to get ready to fight those two creeps again."
"Shampoo...no can do much, but try to help Ranma train as much as can," she said, placing her hand on the wound in her side.
Ranma sat up and looked over at her. "Hey, don't you worry about me, I'll figure out a way to beat Li. You just need to let that wound heal and get ready to fight Meilin again."
Shampoo disregarded Ranma's concern as she thought about the white-haired woman. "Meilin only win because she catch Shampoo off guard. That no happen again."
"Yeah, I think you can definitely beat her," Ranma agreed.
Shampoo nodded and looked up at the sky again. "Ranma, you think everyone in Japan worry about us?"
Ranma just shrugged his shoulders. "Who knows. Even if they are, I'd rather not let 'em all know what's goin' on. If they find out we're gonna be here a while, some of 'em are probably gonna come get involved in our fights. I mean, if Mousse hears you're gonna be fightin' someone that tried to kill ya before, d'ya think he's just gonna sit back in Japan and wait for ya?"
"No, stupid Mousse come get in way," Shampoo replied with irritation. Mousse was the last person she wanted to think about at the moment.
"Exactly, so I think we should just let 'em worry about us for now."
"Ranma probably right," Shampoo said.
"Hey, can I ask you somethin'?"
"Ranma ask Shampoo anything," she smiled.
"Why didn't you ever use that Shadow Bind trick before?"
Shampoo giggled a little. "Because is no good in one-on-one fight. When catch person's shadow, Shampoo no can move either."
"Ohh, I get it. But still, there were other times you coulda used it, right?" Ranma asked her.
Shampoo let out an evil cackle. "Could, but is good if others no know all Shampoo's tricks."
"Sneaky as ever," Ranma laughed. "Hey, how'd you know I was up here, anyway?"
"Because Ranma do this just few night ago," Shampoo said.
Ranma remembered that night when he and Shampoo talked on the roof of the Tendo home. "Oh, that's right. Seems like it was more than just a few days ago, doesn't it?"
"Shampoo always try remember things Ranma like."
Shampoo nodded. "Let see, Ranma like pork bun, manga, beat up Ryoga, and sit on roof."
"Hey, don't make me sound so simple..." Ranma laughed.
Even if only for a few moments, Ranma was glad he and Shampoo could laugh away their worries.
That day in Japan, Akane couldn't find the will to do anything. With P-chan soundly asleep in her lap, she looked up at the full moon from her bedroom window. A single tear ran down her cheek as she thought about her missing fiancé.
"Ranma, you'd better come back to me, you stupid jerk..."
Akane didn't sleep a wink that night. Things just didn't feel right without Ranma around.
End of Chapter 5