Featherbrite's Tale, the Bet.

6: Some Interest

OR...

Sober Introspection

"As far as tactics are concerned, in situations like this, I personally recommend cheating." - M.Wright

"Best defense- is not be there." - P. Morita

"Go not to the dragons for answer, for you are crunchy and good with ketchup." - Unknown adventurer

---------

Ranma crept out to the rooftop as soon as he could splash himself with cold water and regain his clothing. It was a chilly night, but the fresh air helped clear the nausea and whatever had been in that sake.

"Ranma, why aren't you in bed?" Featherbrite silently added that it should be with Nabiki, one of the few ideas that she agreed with the panda on. That, in and of itself, was enough to cause her to rethink this course of action. "Tile roofs are not the best bedding for the night."

"Yeah, right. Brite, I thought we agreed there would be no philtres, love potions, or turning 'em into something."

"Yeah, yeah, you are SUCH a spoilsport." Featherbrite sulked a little. But that had taken all the FUN out of it. Well, almost all.

"Then WHY did I have one girl do a faceplant in my lap? Shortly followed by two others deciding that I made a good solid object to lean against?" Ranma thought the night had been more embarassing than anything else. Though there were *some* at school who would have enjoyed the events.

"Oh...your father drugged the sake," the faerie shrugged and lay back next to Ranma. "If I had done anything like that, all three of 'em woulda dragged you off to bed and we wouldn't be having this conversation."

"S'pose so." Ranma nodded. Bri'te managed to be subtle every so often, but it definitely wasn't one of her strengths.

The companiable silence lasted a few minutes before Featherbrite spoke. "Brings back memories, don't it?"

"Clear night, stars, laying on a blanket in the cold? Yeah." Ranma smiled a little. "Some good times, some bad times, some crazy times."

"Lotsa crazy times," corrected Featherbrite with a smirk. "So... which one do you like?"

"Huh?! Oh, cut it out, Bri'te." Ranma was quiet for a few minutes. "Bri'te?"

"Hmmm?"

"Thanks for restraining yourself back there."

Featherbrite smiled a bit wider as she studied the sky. "You're welcome, Ranma-chan."

"Bri'te?"

"Hmmm?"

"I know you found some loopholes. What kinda changes *did* you make?"

Featherbrite groaned. She was busted.

---------

Vanilla let out a deep breath and considered her reflection in the store window. Red eyes, pale skin, pale hair with an odd blue hint to it.

Even among the Chinese Amazons, her looks were considered either strange or exotic. She had been found abandoned as a child, adopted into the tribe, and had spent years learning the ways of her people.

Except that they truly weren't her people - not exactly. She never quite fit. Not that that was that unusual in this group. Neither she nor Tigar were exactly typical members of the Joketsuzoku.

Tigar leapt down out of the darkness, her hands full of something. "Try this. It good."

Vanilla looked over the odd thing. Like many things since first coming to Japan, it was oddly familiar in some strange way. "What is it?"

"Japanese food," explained Tigar. "Some kind of fish cookie."

"I... dislike meat," reminded Vanilla. She didn't know *why* it was, but everytime she'd eaten meat - it had made her ill. The best that she'd been able to handle were things like milk products.

"I'll see what I can scrounge," Tigar said, between bites of her cookie. She ignored Vanilla's shudder of distaste and merely concentrated on her own evident enjoyment of the snack. "Though it seems like darn near everything here is made of fish or rice - and mainly has both."

Vanilla let out another deep breath. It sounded as if she was going to be dieting while in Japan.

---------

Nabiki awoke gradually, aware that the morning was unseasonably cold and that there was a heat source over to the side. She snuggled up to said heat source, and further details began to make themselves known.

Heat source was moving slightly. Defcon Four. A vaguely muddled memory of Ranma and her being tucked in bed by their loving parents remained muddled. Enough detail penetrated to start alarms going off.

Heat source was responding slightly to Nabiki's movement, snuggling closer itself. Defcon Three. Nabiki's eyes began to flutter.

Heat source was breathing. Said breath tickling her face. Alert status upgraded to Defcon Two. Nabiki cracked an eye open, silently cursing whoever's idea it was to make mornings so damn bright.

Nabiki blinked at what she was seeing as she reluctantly shoved aside the remains of sleep. Half-memories of what had been going on the previous night began to filter in and were carefully fit together with what her eyes were bringing her.

It wasn't Ranma. Nabiki noted that the feeling of disappointment that this generated and decided she would figure out why later, MUCH later. Gently disengaging herself from Akane, Nabiki looked over at where Ranma's futon was rolled up and tucked into the corner. The exact place where it had been yesterday.

Alarm battled with disappointment, and both found that jealousy was sneaking around the edges waiting to get a shot in.

Nabiki idly noted that Akane was still wearing the little cross that Kasumi had taken down to a church and had blessed. One of many preparations that had been made for the vampire attack. At the time, Akane had been amused at her elder sister's fantasies. Nabiki doubted that the chain had left Akane's possession since that night. Akane *had* been typically Japanese in not being religious and giving Shintoism and Buddhism a bare nod. She'd had a bit of a religious experience, watching a vampire come back for the second of three bites that would have made her an undead slave. She'd probably get over it in a few more days.

Nabiki slipped out of her bed, noting that she was NOT wearing her usual pajamas. She figured that this had something to do with what she had perceived as unseasonable cold. She carefully left Akane on the bed, still asleep, and quickly put on a set of said pajamas.

Nabiki snuck out of the room, not so much from the desire to be sneaky as from the understanding that the dull throbbing of her headache could get BAD when exposed to loud noises. Akane was likely to find herself in a strange bed and react loudly. It would not be good to be caught there at ground zero.

At Kasumi's door, Nabiki slowly opened it to look within. Kasumi and Shampoo were accounted for. Shampoo's futon hadn't been slept in either. Nabiki wasn't entirely sure WHY those two had hit it off so well, but they had. Resisting the temptation to go back for her camera, Nabiki quietly closed the door. It looked as if they had passed out during a pillow fight. Exactly how much had they drunk?

A drunk Kasumi and a drunk Amazon in a pillow fight/tickle fest. Nabiki wouldn't have sold a kidney for film of that, but she would've done quite a bit for a videotape.

Still no sign of Ranma.

Nabiki thought this out. A vague memory of being stripped and tucked into bed came to her, a little more detailed than her previous musing. Ranma had been similarly treated. Now Ranma was nowhere to be seen and Akane was in her bed.

"He left when he realized where he was," came a voice near Nabiki's ear. "Akane couldn't breathe in her room with all of the garlic she'd hung, so she migrated to yours about an hour later. Such a disappointing night."

"Got anything for a hangover?" Nabiki glanced to the side where she could _almost_ see a pixie sitting on her shoulder. She could almost see the transparent dragonfly-like wings and oddly slick-looking skin, the little strands of hair (this morning a muted green). The dull throb in Nabiki's head almost immediately began to unwind and fade away. "Thanks."

"No problem."

Nabiki stopped, her head slowly coming around to stare as best she could at her shoulder. Her already mussed hair was attempting to "toing" out of control. She _could_ almost see a pixie sitting on her shoulder. She was a little transparent but otherwise quite alarmingly *there.* She also had _heard_ the pixie quite distinctly. "Uhm, how come I'm having a conversation with you...."

Featherbrite turned with a sly grin to Nabiki. "What? You think we went to Holly just because I could finagle some free food? Everything you ate or drank that came from there had an enchantment on it."

"WHAT?!?!" Nabiki immediately clapped her hands over her mouth. Sounds of irritation came from various points around the house in response to her outburst. "What did you do?"

"A minor enchantment here, a minor enchantment there." Featherbrite pouted slightly. "Ranma said I couldn't use the Philtre or the really interesting stuff..."

Nabiki shuddered slightly as she wondered what all she had just been saved from. A Philtre? Love potions? Oh dear.

"All he'd allow was the basic stuff he'd suggested." Featherbrite sounded more than a little disappointed. (1)

"What kind of basic stuff?" Nabiki tried to control the queasiness in her stomach. One of the first things she'd read in her new book on magic had been that transformation was one of the easiest things to do with Faerie magic. There had been a few pages on protective measures, none of which she could remember taking the previous night.

"Oh, giving you some basic protections if you should find yourself in the Faerie Realm again. Shampoo already has some protections, gained with her becoming a proper Amazon princess. Anyway, this will allow you to see and hear me, more or less. Makes communication a lot easier, don't you think? Just remember it also makes you stand out from the crowd as far as the supernatural is concerned."

"Oh," said Nabiki. That could be bad, but it could also be good. So she could See The Supernatural now. Maybe she could approach some brownie or sylph as a spy.

"Basic protective stuff, stuff I did for Ranma years ago. A warding against disease, good luck invocation, enhancement of the efficiency of the digestive system, little increases in healing rate and removal of some nasty little problems caused by your environment here."

"Such as?" Nabiki felt a trickle of panic. She was quite aware that the little being was Alien in perspective. Only that these were things Ranma had apparently not vetoed and her reputation as an Ice Queen kept her from checking various body parts to make sure that they were unchanged.

The grin completely faded from Featherbrite's face and she looked seriously into Nabiki's eyes. Nabiki's eyes nearly crossed from the effort of meeting that gaze on someone who was still sitting on her shoulder. "Nabiki. A Faerie Contract is not something to be scoffed at or lightly discarded. Ranma has made me promise that I will not alter any of your minds to make you fall in love with him, nor knowingly influence your thinking in that regard. Sure, there are loopholes in that. I could weaken the restraints on Kasumi's libido, which is much like a raging fire that she constantly seeks to control. If I did *that* she'd be trying to seduce Ranma before dinner. (2)

"I could have used a minor alteration in Shampoo's mindset, increase her competitiveness level while damping her jealousy, and she'd be ready to seduce Ranma before breakfast just so she could make him hers FIRST.

"Your youngest sister resents Ranma, dislikes him, and thinks he's nuts. She's got her first impression and is running with it. Do you have any idea how easy it would have been to alter that so that she was grateful to Ranma for his rescue instead of resenting him for drawing the vampire here? Underneath it all, she finds Ranma attractive. All it would take is a nudge to start THAT rolling.

"Or you, for example. Ya naie ve zein, child! You have no idea how much baggage you're carrying with you. All it would take is a little tweak and you'd find a use for all that 'yoga' stuff you've never contemplated.

"I didn't do ANY of that stuff, no matter that everyone would have been much happier with any of those outcomes. Pfeh. I promised, and I'm *trying* to be good here. Therefore I only changed the things that Ranma approved of.

"Little tiny things mainly. Your mother also passed on to you three the very thing that killed her. The cancer that killed her would eventually have at least appeared in Kasumi." The moment of intensity passed and Featherbrite rocked back on Nabiki's shoulder. "Plus your youngest sister would have had some problems down the road with her leg tendons. All history now."

"Well, she does tend to concentrate on developing her arms." Nabiki began to smile. "That's all?"

"Ranma can be SUCH a stick-in-the-mud sometimes," the little faerie confided with a nudge and a wink. "Why, he wouldn't even let me use the Lemon Aid. Imagine that!"

"Yeah, just imagine. What a disappointment." Nabiki silently thanked Ranma.

"So, yeah, just a couple of protective things, plus you will be able to see and hear me now. More or less."

"More or less?!" The alarms went back on.

"Don't get your dander up. Sheesh. I had to pay you back for your help, didn't I? Paybacks are *very* important to a faerie. (Good AND bad.) I gave Kasumi a resistance to mind-affecting spells (girl was WIDE open), and you struck me as the sneaky sort so I gave you Eyes Of The Cat."

"Eeeep?!" Nabiki's hands immediately shot up to face level.

"NO. Not literally. That's just what the Faerie Gift is called. Your nightvision is a lot better, that's all. There's a number of Faerie Gifts given out to either heroes or champions, or those we have as mortal god-children. Eyes Of The Cat, Animal Speech, Gift Of Song, or the like. Or lesser gifts like Valiant Heart, Perfect Pitch, Grace & Poise, and so on."

"Ah." Nabiki nodded. Fully understanding the faerie was obviously not included in any deal. "By the way, where IS Ranma?"

"Still on the roof. After you were both 'tucked in bed' he left and found a safe place. Your father really wants this engagement between you and Ranma to work, doesn't he?"

"The roof? Isn't he cold up there?"

Shampoo entered the hallway, stretching. She raised an eyebrow at the sight of Nabiki talking to the pixie but otherwise didn't react.

"Yes." The faerie giggled with a sound like tiny bells. "It's his own fault though. Could have stayed in your nice warm bed, but..."

There was a cracking noise and Shampoo dropped part of the doorframe that had somehow come off in her hand. "Airen was...IN...her bed?"

"Yeah," Nabiki nodded. "I was wondering about that myself. Why's he so shy?" After a moment she added, "not that he would have gotten away with anything..."

"Airen in...HER...bed?!" Shampoo twitched slightly.

"Oh, I'd better get breakfast ready." Kasumi moved past everyone with a little smile showing. If she had a hangover she wasn't letting it show.

"Airen in her...BED!?" Shampoo turned stricken eyes to Nabiki. "Snea... Nabiki sleep with airen? And Violent Maniac Girl say _Shampoo_ too forward?"

"Nothing happened, Shampoo." Nabiki protested, though she realized that the Chinese girl was a little out of it still. "It's just an honor agreement between families."

"Shampoo, can you help me in the kitchen?" Kasumi was halfway down the stairs, but her voice clearly reached the group.

"Shampoo coming," mumbled Shampoo in a clearly distracted manner. "Why this happen to Shampoo? Shampoo is nice girl. Shampoo good Amazon warrior. Shampoo cute. Why not Shampoo one who sleep with airen? What Shampoo do to deserve stupid Mousse who always annoy Shampoo? Doesn't Shampoo deserve..."

Nabiki and Featherbrite both (large sweatdrop forming on Nabiki) watched the Amazon wander off to the kitchen, still mumbling as she went.

"Uhm, you were saying?"

"Oh, he doesn't understand a lot about that stuff. Father always dragging him hither and yon. That kinda thing. He's *really* naive about sex and stuff."

"Being around YOU?!"

"Yeah, go figure, huh?" Featherbrite chuckled.

---------EYECATCH#1----

A hand spreads five cards out on a green surface. The back of the cards has the series logo. The hand then uses a single motion to flip all the cards over at once.

King Of Hearts has Ranma's face, Queen Of Diamonds has Nabiki's face, Queen Of Spades -Ukyou, Queen Of Hearts- Kasumi, Queen of Clubs - Shampoo. A sixth card, the Joker, is added, and the picture on that card is of Featherbrite which winks at the viewer. A voice provides a single comment (which changes from episode to episode) this time being:

"Shampoo not know what mean stacked deck..."

--------

Kuno swept through one set of practice motions to another, exercising on an empty stomach as was his wont. Later Sasuke would bring forth a light repast, but now was the time for the constant practice and attention to form that had made him the living legend that he was.

The bokken stopped partway through a sweep. There was a disturbance near at hand. Kuno's eyes narrowed slightly as he went through the usual interruptions.

Someone had entered his sanctum? Yes. It was definitely a presence. His twisted sister? No. Sasuke? No. His (shudder) father? No, hopefully he was still in Hawaii. Akane Tendo? (One could always hope, but no.) Not the pigtailed goddess, either...

"Come out, villainous blackguard." Kuno swung the bokken up, having eliminated anyone who had a right to be there observing him. "You find the righteous Blue Thunder ready for whatever perfidy you do intend!"

A feminine giggle was his only answer.

Kuno stopped. "Akane Tendo? Winged water sprite?"

"Water sprites do not have wings," came a voice correcting Kuno. "Nor am I this other you refer to."

"Whoever you are, know that I shall not be tempted to stray from the path of my two loves." Kuno nodded and lowered the bokken. It was obvious that this was not to be a battle after all. No doubt some young maid who was overwhelmed with his manly presence, not that Kuno could blame her.

"Oh?" The feeling of presence came closer. "Then...I...have no chance at all?"

"Alas, I..." Kuno's eyes widened as the girl showed herself at last. A curvaceous and barely clothed beauty, whose laughing eyes seemed to draw him in.

"Oh, poor baby, you _have_ had a hard time of it, haven't you?" Holly looked over the swordsman. He'd do. He definitely would do. His healing would take a long time...best to start as early as possible.

"I..." Kuno decided that breakfast would be a good thing. He was quite ravenous of a sudden.

"Come, brave warrior," purred the dryad. "I think we might have much that we could interest the other in."

"As you say," Kuno walked forward, following the dryad into the apparently solid trunk of a tree.

Sasuke appeared ten minutes later to see if Master Kuno would like breakfast. He found no sign of his master.

Kuno was already having breakfast anyway.

-------

"Documents are signed and sealed, copies with the proper authorities."

Isao nodded at the Yakuza member. The deal with the oyabun was simple. Knowledge would be shared. The smuggling uses alone for someone with Ranma's abilities were staggering. "Equipment?"

"Standing by."

Isao nodded. "We roll in a half-hour, have everything in place."

-----

Gosunkugi sat on the park bench, opening the book before him and ready to read the first incantation.

"Boy is that screwed up," said a girl's voice.

"Like you would know," began Hikaru Gosunkugi haughtily. "I..." No one was there.

"Geez, lookit this stuff," continued the voice. "A real mishmash. Looks like someone took pieces of the Necronimicon and spliced in bits and pieces of the Farmer's Almanac. And this bit? It's Makai Mahou. You'd need four limbs to cast it right. Titania's Golden Orbs, child, what is this supposed to do? It looks like a demon summoning, fertility ritual, and I'm not sure what the sheep's bladder is for. For that matter, what the heck is 'Cheese Whiz' anyway?"

Hikaru, momentarily puzzled, looked right. He looked left. He looked up. "Oh my." He recognized the little faerie, he'd seen it flitting around Saotome earlier.

"Let me guess, this is supposed to be a love spell?" The faerie shook a diminuitive finger at the large boy, incidently using a Quench spell to put out the candles he had strapped to his head. Just when she thought she was getting to understand humans...

"You don't think it will work?" Gosunkugi reached off to the side, maybe he could catch the little magic creature if he just could reach his mallet.

"If you *successfully* cast this, as I understand it. It will work. You'll have the undying affection of every toad within three miles." Featherbrite tsked. It took all kinds, she supposed, but toads didn't particularly seem that charismatic to her.

Hikaru's hopeful expression died. "Oh."

"Look, you obviously got some magical Talent. Voodoo ain't it." Featherbrite had never seen the appeal of voodoo. Give her good old faerie magic any time.

"No?"

"No. Neither is this crap. Shamanistic maybe? No, hmmmm." The faerie began orbiting Gosunkugi, shifting around until the would-be voodan was dizzy. "Got it."

"Well, I understand if you... excuse me?"

"Alchemy would be your best bet. Chinese Sorcery is also a possibility, but that takes more chi than you've got. Shen Mysticism perhaps to build up your reserves." Featherbrite nodded rapidly.

"I have magical potential?" Hikaru's heart sang almost as much as if Akane had talked to him. He, he wasn't worthless after all!

"Yeah, if you like I could try getting you some books. Just don't go near Ranma or his girls."

"I won't!" Hikaru nodded so hard his head was ready to fall off. Besides, everyone knew Ranma wasn't interested in Akane. That fool Saotome.

Featherbrite glanced at the book. She wasn't sure about some aspects of human behavior, but she did know a few things. "You ought to lay off the love spells too. Those things never work right unless the target's willing. If you've got a particular girl in mind, try being her friend first. Then be the kind of guy she wants. Don't just fake it, BE it. If she wants a studious guy, be a real juku student. If she wants a troubadour, learn to be a musician or at least know a lot about music. If she wants a hero, be a hero."

Hikaru nodded repeatedly as the faerie continued to talk about magic, talent, and being heroic. A brief vision of him turning Tatewaki Kuno into a gerbil, then sweeping Akane off her feet, caused Hikaru Gosunkugi to shudder slightly.

Akane. Power. Akane. Magic. Akane. Hikaru smiled. Life... was good.

--------------

Ranma was at least grateful that the usual battle over food wasn't taking place this morning. A more leisurely pace allowed her to enjoy more fully the flavors of the simple breakfast that Kasumi had prepared.

Of course, ever since Featherbrite had put that curse on anyone who stole Ranma's food, Genma was slower and more careful about what he stole from Ranma's plate. Genma assumed that Ranma had hidden some Chinese herb. It couldn't be a Curse Of Explosive Flatulence.

It was the traditional Japanese breakfast. The everpresent rice, a small bowl of miso soup with a chunk of tofu floating in it, and green tea.

Ranma had switched to his cursed form during the night. The yousei form seemed to throw off the effects of alcohol better, despite the decrease of mass.

"Thank you, Kasumi, that was delicious!" Ranma placed her chopsticks down across her bowl. Which it was, in its way, Ranma was just used to having something more... substantial?

"Shampoo still having some trouble with food." Shampoo's voice was absolutely miserable. Last night had been a mistake, a _big_ mistake. She'd woken with a thin headache. Now it had progressed to a point where one could almost swear Shampoo had a touch of green in her cheeks.

A shriek from upstairs let everyone know that Akane had finally attained consciousness and discovered that she was in a strange bed.

"So, Ranma, where did you spend the night?" Soun ignored the sounds of crashing as someone accidently knocked over her dresser in an attempt to get dressed at high speeds with a hangover.

"Uhm," began Ranma, stopping when a particular loud smashing noise came from Akane's room. "Uh, well, I spent it on the roof. Fresh air helped clear my head, y'know."

Soun waited briefly for Genma to put his two-yen in but the other seemed distracted by something. Whatever it was, it was not the sound of someone tripping over a drawer and smashing into a wall.

"She must really be feeling the effects of that stuff." Nabiki sipped at her tea. She'd wait until after Akane was done before going up and starting to assess the damage. That she found herself falling over things this morning was besides the point. She really didn't like the slight dizzy spells this morning.

"Oh, Ranma, thank you for fixing those things that Akane broke earlier. Especially that bowl. It was something that Mother had made back during a ceramics class during High School." Kasumi smiled, seemingly oblivious to the sound of someone falling down the stairs.

"I'M LATE!!!!" Akane cried, throwing the door open and charging out at full speed.

"Akane, today's Sunday," Nabiki said. She considered yelling but some people might still have a hangover. "Oh well..."

"Such energy she has today." Kasumi smiled in the direction Akane had vanished in.

Soun blinked, his mind having stuck on something his eldest daughter had said earlier. "The bowl your dear mother made in High School? Broken?" The waterworks began, a waterfall that threatened to drench anyone nearby.

"It's all right father, Ranma fixed it like he did my cup." Kasumi sipped at her tea again, blocking one of the streams of water with a small fan.

Soun stopped in mid-weep. "Oh...he did? Oh. Well done, son." Maybe Genma was wrong about his son. After all, he'd been wrong about going to train with the Master. Hmmm. (3)

"Not a problem," Ranma dismissed the feat with an idle gesture. Heck, a good tube of superglue would've done as well.

"Airen very useful."

Soun paused and noticed the look Kasumi was giving Ranma. He could swear little hearts were floating around his eldest daughter. "Uhm, what exactly did Ranma do?"

"He exhausted himself repairing dishes and mending clothing again?" Nabiki tsked as she contemplated the financial pages of the newspaper. She hadn't missed the way Kasumi looked at Ranma after he had done such things. He was just doing it to be helpful, right? There wasn't anything going on between them, was there? Damnit, he was *HER* iinazuke!

Nabiki blinked as the intensity of that thought caused her to pause and reconsider whether she wanted this engagement or not. Surely not, right? It was just a family honor thing, right? She was still the Ice Queen, wasn't she? Yeah, she was in control. He was just a guy, and she would NOT get all worked up about him!

"Err, Nabiki, I think it's dead." Ranma's voice was concerned.

Nabiki blinked again as she noted that the financial pages in her hands had been crumpled. "Oh my."

-----Street nearby-----

"I'm late!!!!" Akane rushed by the van and its two attendent cars, her attention on getting to school on time.

"Late?" Isao looked at his watch then back at the rapidly disappearing girl. "Young people nowadays."

"Sir?" A heavily scarred chauffer looked back at the researcher.

"Nevermind," Isao said curtly. With any luck he wouldn't have to go back to teaching such students at Tokyo University again.

(1) Otherwise this scene would bear a vague resemblence to "Addicted To Love."
(2) There is absolutely no canon evidence for this, or for Kasumi being into chocolate. One can easily picture a graceful, ladylike, Kasumi daintily nibbling on a Belgian chocolate in the privacy of her own room. One can also easily imagine the scene where Kasumi retreats to her room and hits the "Reese's Peanut Butter Cups"(tm) after a stressful day.
Likewise, the concept was expressed in an earlier work that the reason Kasumi is so zoned at odd times is that her attention is on other things. Such as reining in a libido three times more powerful than Happosai's. An amusing concept though, ne?
(3) Even if you view every other decision made by Soun & Genma in the best light, these two went off to train under Happosai. By all accounts, they didn't enjoy it. They didn't enjoy it SO much that the two tried to murder their former Master. If forced, it should've been mentioned in the series. If chosen, this qualifies as a lapse in judgement. If their judgement isn't faultless, then they can make other mistakes.


thanks to Jared for the Genma sequence.

------Tendo-ke, Genma's room-----------

In a very distant corner of Genma's mind, something small was crying out and dying.

It had started objecting to him when he and his buddy Soun had decided to go train under their Master. He had known Happosai was not... pleasant, but it had all been for the Art. Happosai's Anything Goes School Of Indiscriminate Grappling was quite effective from both a practical aspect and in terms of raw power from what they had been able to learn beforehand.

Okay, if they had had any inkling that they'd have gone through what they had - another sensei would likely have been found. Ryuunoken's variant of shotokan karate, or the dreaded Righteous Fist, or the Five Element System. Something would have come up. Instead it had been Happosai's school.

For years that little voice had screamed at him about panty raids, theft, and all the other little crimes he had committed. Assault had been necessary when police or other individuals got too close. Skipping out on restaurant bills was part of the Art - an integral part, right? Arson to cover their getaway, a little sabotage here and there - all part of the suffering a martial artist had to undergo. Each time he had chosen to ignore it just a little bit longer, the little voice had gotten a little more distant, a little less noticeable.

When they'd stolen the extra sake and trapped the Master in his cave, the voice had gone quiet for a time. For a brief period thereafter, Genma had been prepared to listen to it.

He'd overlooked something, that part of one's being is precious and vulnerable, and it had been abused for years. It was no longer as loud as it could have been. So quiet, that he'd not even noticed while he was chafing under the treadmill drudgery of work and home and meeting responsibilities. There had been a peep from that voice when he'd convinced Nodoka to let him go so that he could train Ranma, but the joy of his false freedom had swept that voice away. He'd changed over the years. (1)

Still that little voice rallied when he'd gotten hungry and sold his son. Daikokuji hadn't given up anything he couldn't afford, just some rice and two pickles! Nothing he would suffer over, and Genma had quite convinced himself that he'd had to do it. The two were starving and he'd never intended to actually go through with the sale. He'd retrieved Ranma as soon as the buyer had turned his back, hadn't he? No problem.

Bit by bit over the years, that voice had been weakened and slowly withered. It became easier and easier for Genma to sell his son. It became easier and easier to ignore the hurt he caused those around him. That voice that had been the pure and noble heart that he had once had, the glimmer of which had been the lure that had attracted his wife to him.

Genma sat and contemplated the contract, still looking no further than the first page which had all the pretty numbers.

Two million yen. Five hundred thousand that he'd gotten last night. The remainder to be delivered when Ranma had been taken to his new home. Grandchildren that he could train. All it required was for him to sell Ranma one last time.

Genma's conscience gave its last gasp and died.

Genma decided that the best thing would be nets near the boy's backpack. If Ranma tried to escape, he'd likely come for that...

-------------

Ukyo was in her usual lotus position. Something was going on, she could feel it.

Something beyond Tsuba-ka. Something beyond some of the more hentai girls who wanted to see her "claimed" - there seemed to be a few of those in the martial arts circuit. Something beyond the usual clueless wandering martial artists who'd show up to challenge her or one of the other "fighting girls" in the area.

Ever since a particularly strong set of dreams she'd had as a child, she could hear the wind in a new way. It spoke to her. Sort of. It just didn't make a whole lot of sense sometimes.

Ukyo didn't even bother to move her legs in order to draw her spatula and use it to block/shift/throw Tsubasa. Not much effort. Not like Mariko.

The karate expert and okonomiyaki chef listened to the wind. It seemed to say that something was going to happen soon. That she needed to be ready. Prepared. Exactly WHAT preparations and for what, it wasn't saying.

Sometimes the wind was not a useful ally.

Well, her upcoming transfer to a new school might take care of some of it.

------

"Ranma," grumbled Ryouga as he warmed himself by the fire. "Vengeance will be MINE!"

Shammi considered moving forward, to find out what this strange husband was so upset about. No, he'd probably just take off running again. She had had no idea outsider men were so shy.

"Ranma," Ryouga grumbled again, but didn't go into details. Instead he poked at the fire as if it had somehow offended him.

Shammi settled down for what looked like a long wait, aware that Tigar had taken a position at the other gate to the park. Between the two of them, they ought to be able to keep track of this husband. Shammi wasn't sure if either of them could actually understand him, though.

As to Vanilla, poor girl was probably still trying to find a ramen shop this morning.

---Tendo-ke, Nerima-----

Kasumi picked up the phone on the third ring. "Hai. Moshi moshi."

"Hello. This is Hikaru Gosunkugi. Is Nabiki Tendo there?"

"Nabiki is taking Shampoo to look at some new clothing, Mister Gosunkugi. She needs a uniform for school and some other supplies."

"Gos?" Featherbrite flitted to the receiver. "I talked to him this morning. He wants to get into magic but he's going about it all wrong."

"Featherbrite says hello," translated Kasumi.

"Oh, she's there? How about Ranma?"

"Tell him I left word with Holly, who'll get in contact with Ivy, who'll get in contact with Drath, who'll get him a DECENT spellbook. And don't forget to burn that copy of the Necronomicon he said he's got!"

Kasumi relayed the message. "She says burn the Necronomicon, and you'll get a replacement. No, Ranma's not here either."

"Oh, thanks! Uhm. I've been thinking about what she said, that if I want to win Akane, I've got to change ME so that I could actually make her happy without resorting to spells on HER. I'm gonna take her advice... Oh, and there's something else..."

"Yes?" Kasumi prompted.

" Ah. Tell her there's going to be a kidnapping attempt on Ranma. They're medical researchers from University Of Tokyo, but I think they've got connections..."

"There's going to be a kidnapping attempt on Ranma? But he's such a nice young man." Kasumi wondered who would want to hurt someone as helpful as Ranma.

"Kidnapping?" Featherbrite began to glow, showing her agitation. "Is he sure?"

"Uhm," Gosunkugi paused. "Anyway, can you tell Nabiki?"

"I think so, Mister Gosunkugi." Kasumi nodded after a moment. It must be a misunderstanding. Why, even though Akane was more hostile towards him than she was to Kuno, Ranma had put his life on the line for her. Surely no one who knew Ranma would be holding a grudge against him.

[I'm expecting a call, Kasumi!] A panda walked by, holding up a sign.

"Well, thank you, Mister Gosunkugi." Kasumi put the receiver down. She'd tell Nabiki, of course, but it certainly was a misunderstanding.

"Kasumi, I'm going to track down Shampoo and Nabiki and let them know about this." Strength in numbers, a lesson learned hundreds of years ago. The faerie shot through an open window and was gone.

Kasumi watched the faerie go and turned to her next task. The laundry wouldn't get done by itself.

---------

Genma finished the net traps and considered his options. It was really in the best interest of the Art, and this wasn't THAT different from some of the training the Master had put him & Soun through.

The smell of garlic from Akane's room blew past him. The young girl was still out, probably sulking or angry that no one had stopped her before she got to the school.

Genma nodded. Why, this reminded him of the time he and Soun had put together a little trap so that they could escape that one village of Chinese martial artist acrobats in the wake of a panty raid from the Master. Ah, those were the days.

Genma went down to find that Kasumi had finished with the phone. It was time to make the call.

---Downtown Nerima----

"Shampoo very fast, will come along later. Ranma only able to carry one persons, you take Nabiki she not able to fight as well."

"But..." Ranma stopped. If this were real and they went after hostages, Shampoo would be much less a vulnerable target than Nabiki. Just knowing that he was engaged to her made Nabiki a more likely victim.

"I agree," Nabiki said after a moment. "When I'm home, there's a few phone calls I can make. We can determine if there's anything to this within a few hours. Until then, it is only sensible if we take some precautions."

Featherbrite hovered nervously nearby. "Look, I can go meet with Gos, and see how much he actually knows. I'll meet you back at the Tendo house."

Shampoo watched the little pixie take off, then watched her airen fly off with the sneaky girl. "(Vanilla? Is that you?)"

A shadow detached itself. "(Shampoo. I was that obvious?)"

"(You aren't that good a tracker or a stalker. I was uncertain of the other, but you were fairly easy for me to detect.)"

"(Shammi and Tiger are off chasing Shammi's new fiance, Di Na, Bain, Sugar and Spice are in a place called 'Juuban' keeping an eye on a potentially useful contact.)"

"(Have you spotted anyone else trying not to be seen?)" Shampoo's eyes flicked about.

"(Yakusa.)" Vanilla sighed. "(We haven't gotten too close. They have guns and some high tech equipment. Oh and Shammi has a new husband-candidate - therefore she's preoccupied.)"

"(Yakusa,)" Shampoo spat. Not warriors at all, they usually fought from... ambush?! "(Well, since they've got their advantages with firearms, familiarity with the area, and various high tech equipment. It's only fair that I use *my* new advantage.)"

Vanilla blinked. "(And that would be?)"

"(Great Grandmother wanted me to get ahold of some Old One magic, and that I have.)" Shampoo raised a crystalline shard up. "Yousei power - Naiad!)"

Vanilla blinked as Shampoo was suddenly surrounded by a stream of water similar to that originating from the mountains of their homeland - she could feel the chill from where she was. When the stream ended, Shampoo's clothes had changed. "(Some form of powerup?)"

"(When I'm Sailor Amazon, I have power over water and can glide on the winds.)" Shampoo smiled cutely though with a touch of predator to it. "(If this is what Great Grandmother wanted me to discover, I approve more thoroughly than I did over most of her insane-yet-effective techniques. We'll talk later in more detail, right now I've got some of these Triad-wannabes I want to try out my attacks on.)"

--------

Nabiki knew something was wrong when their flight dipped in unison to a loud meaty thunk.

Another one sounded and Nabiki's concerned gaze left her iinazuke's face to track down to the two cylinders protruding from the red silk shirt. "Ranma?! You've been shot!"

"Noticed," managed Ranma as their altitude decreased at a rapid pace. "Uhm. I've noticed this before. My yousei form seems to be a little more easily affected by some stuff like drugs." Which made the greater tolerance for alcohol quite strange.

Nabiki privately doubted Ranma's ability to remain conscious, let alone airborne. Those looked like the kind of darts that zookeepers used to put down large animals. "Ranma, you'll never make it carrying me. Set me down before I end up having to carry you home!"

"I can make it..." Ranma mumbled, skimming the ground.

"LEFT! LEFT!" Nabiki tugged on Ranma's head. A group of trash cans was narrowly avoided. "Ranma! Put me down NOW!"

Ranma did, standing a little unsteadily as she landed.

"You get back to the house, Ranma. They're not after me. You get home and you can sleep it off. By then I should have some answers." Nabiki felt a little pang at Ranma looking so vulnerable. Just protecting an investment, that's all it was. Yeah, she was the unfeeling Ice Queen. No personal involvement at all.

"Okay, Nabiki-chan," Ranma staggered as she straightened. If she could just get some hot water and turn back into a guy, she was sure she'd be okay. "Don't... take any chances, 'kay? You look cute in that outfit, but it's not practical for hiding..." She spread wings and slowly flew off.

"Nabiki-chan?" Nabiki blinked. "I look cute?!!" It was just her two hearts sweater and a pair of jeans. Cute? Nabiki-chan? Nabiki shook her head. Ice, she told herself, think ice. Cold, frigid, unyielding, barren, strong ice!

Looking up at the weaving dot that was Ranma attempting to fly, Nabiki said a few choice words that would have earned her a disapproving glance from Kasumi and started off towards home.

"Iceiceiceiceiceiceiceice," Nabiki muttered. "Why does he have to do things like that as a girl? Couldn't he say something like that when he's a guy?" Catching herself, she again began the task of returning to being the Ice Queen. She would NOT think about why this was getting so difficult.

----------------

Another dart thunked in as Ranma cleared the compound wall. Ranma slowed further, there was an open window over there, but which one was it? The images appeared to dance in her eyes.

She'd just find some hot water. Everything would be fine once she returned to human and male.

She shot towards the window. So close...

-------

"Oh..." Kasumi looked up from her laundry at the sound of glass breaking. The neighborhood kids weren't playing baseball again, were they? But then there HAD been that call. "Mister Saotome, can you go take a look upstairs? It might be a burglar."

The panda looked up at the ceiling and seemed to hesitate just for a moment. Then he nodded and held up a sign. [Don't worry. I suspect I know what it is.]

"Oh good," Kasumi turned her attention back to the chores. She stopped and regarded Mister Saotome again. That noise had come from Nabiki's room. Nabiki would probably not appreciate Mister Saotome going through any of her possessions. She'd just make sure he didn't get curious...

Genma was already in Nabiki's room when Kasumi reached the hallway.

"Oh my!" Kasumi held a hand up in front of her mouth,staring at what she saw in Nabiki's room. There was Ranma-chan, netted and struggling to get airborne, when the panda very calmly used one of his signs to slam Ranma's head. When Ranma tried to get up, the sign came down again, this time at the base of the skull. Another struggle, another brutal slam of wood to flesh.

"Mister Saotome! Why?" Kasumi stepped back, turning slightly pale as she saw how limp Ranma's body was and the slightly brighter patch of red on her hair. Genma lifted, netting and all going over one of the panda's shoulders.

[It's for the boy's own good, you'll see.] Genma's sign now read. He proceeded past Kasumi, pausing only to wrap the net a little more securely around the form within.

Kasumi stared at the two, her shock beginning to ebb. Little scenes from the past few days began replaying themselves unbidden in her memory.

--Ranma wiping sweat away, as he proudly presented the repaired bowl to her.
--Ranma playing the flute, pouring his heart out into that wonderful music.
--When she'd burned her thumb on a pot, Ranma had rubbed the area around the burn and ever so lightly had kissed the burned area. The burn had healed, and Kasumi had needed to take a cold shower for reasons that had completely escaped Ranma.
--Ranma hugging her when she had fallen up against him during that party to celebrate little sister Shampoo's victory over the vampire. Remembering as well that Ranma hadn't taken advantage of the situation.
--That scene in the furo... Oh my. Oh dear.
--Ranma risking his life to protect her sister, despite Akane being hostile to him ever since he passed her over.
--Genma stealing food from Ranma's bowl. Ranma smirking as it became obvious that everything that Genma stole found its way back to Ranma's bowl before it came anywhere near his father's mouth. Genma running off to the bathroom at one point as if he had eaten something that didn't agree with him.
--Helping out with dinner.
--The way Ranma had stared at her nightgown the night of the first vampiric attack.
--Out shopping, how she had looked at the filmy underthings and thought of what could happen if Nabiki *did* drop Ranma as an iinazuke. Akane hated boys, so there was no way for Kasumi to escape that fate. It was a rationalization, but Kasumi bought them anyway.

Kasumi frowned. This wasn't right. Mister Saotome might have his reasons, but it wasn't right. Not at all.

Featherbrite was suddenly there, wings blurring in agitation. "WHAT IS HE DOING?!"

Kasumi stepped outside, watching some strange men coming up to the front gate. Two of them were clearly tattooed and showing all the unmistakable signs of Yakuza. The leader appeared to be a businessman, the remaining two completely nondescript. One of these others handed Genma a suitcase as the panda handed a netted Ranma over to the two obvious Yakuza.

"Kasumi, I'm going to feed you what's in those minds. I don't think I can get too close without that one detecting me." One of the tattooed individual was marked by magical heritage of some kind. Featherbrite hesitated to do this, innocence was so difficult to find in this world and if she did this, Kasumi would lose some of hers.

Kasumi nodded, she wanted to understand what was going on.

Reluctant, even if she needed the girl's help, Featherbrite forged the link. For five seconds, Kasumi saw exactly what each of the people planned to do with Ranma. For those five seconds, she saw directly into their souls.

Kasumi rushed back into the house, found the bathroom, and was very very ill.

Featherbrite waited a few moments, watching as Soun Tendo came outside, inquiring as to what was going on. She tuned out the conversation, knowing what each would say.

As soon as Kasumi stopped heaving, Featherbrite brought the link back up to strength. She had to know. She had to see. Featherbrite linked to Ranma's mind, the friend she had kept from being corrupted completely by his father. Then she fed this directly to Kasumi.

Kasumi's head came up, and she saw Ranma's soul. She saw his character, his strengths and fears, his failings and his triumphs. Kasumi also saw love. He cared deeply about everyone around him. Kasumi wept.

There was a core of iron in each of the Tendo daughters, however, and Kasumi moved back to the front door, pausing as she heard her father speaking with Mister Saotome.

"Twenty million? Plus he still marries my daughter and goes on to produce an heir?" Soun Tendo had his share of vices, one could not train for long under Master Happosai without them. "Well, that doesn't sound so bad..."

Kasumi shuddered. Her own father. Twenty pieces of silver with accrued interest. Ranma wasn't perfect, she'd seen failings as well as virtues, but compared to those who were now loading him into a truck...

Flashes of previously experienced images came back to Kasumi,triggering another surge of nausea. The first thing to be done would to be to inject him with a tracking beacon. Then would begin a medical exam that would never truly end. Every sort of degradation one could expect would be inflicted on Ranma. Once in their lab, Ranma would never escape. One of the Yakuza was already planning how he would rape the female Ranma repeatedly, so that she would then produce children that could become elite smugglers for the Yakuza.

Kasumi shuddered, having seen Hell.

"Featherbrite," Kasumi managed through the sour taste in her mouth, "can you get Shampoo, lead her to the appropriate car, then have her get to the place where we entered your Faerie Realm?"

Featherbrite nodded and shot off at full speed. She could find Shampoo easily enough, there being a link to her own magic. Similarly, she could track Ranma as they had been together for so many years. Kasumi had a plan. This was a Good Thing.

======

(1) "No man is an island." More modern usage might have this as "no single individual is an island." Feedback between environment and one's Self occurs. If Genma were to have joined the Yakuza after leaving Nodoka, he wouldn't be the same individual who selflessly offered his son/daughter to his Master as a target for lechery/beating. Err. Hmmmm. Well, this wouldn't be the same wise and honorable Genma who was ready to let the Tendo union fall by having his "daughter" marry into the Chardin fortune. uhm. Well, he wouldn't be that cuddly a panda.

And yes, i've done this before. In "Source Of Pride" among other things, things get worse for Genma because of this environmental feedback factor. A strong will or self-image might defeat that feedback loop. Does Genma qualify?

------------------

A crowded Tokyo city street. Today, however, something quite unusual was occurring. It would draw attention the world over.

A TV crew filming a commercial for Pocari Sweat got the break of a lifetime. When a woman appeared on a ledge looking over the street, dressed in a very short skirt, they naturally started filming her.

She'd tried to think of what she could say but realized that her command of Japanese wasn't very good and she really wanted to be impressive here. Shampoo muttered something under her breath about how she needed to learn better Japanese. On an impulse she switched to English - which she was a little better at from an American sailor who was known to visit the village occasionally. Ugly fellow but strong fighter. "(You #@$#% #@&*@#s have #$#!#@ed with the wrong #$@($@! woman! In the tradition of 3000 years of #$#@ Amazon #$@#! @$$ kicking, prepare to have your #%*@!^ ugly faces crushed!)"

There were a few screams as the strangely dressed woman leapt off her ledge. When she failed to fall but instead glided through the air to land gracefully atop a streetlamp, this got more attention.

Shampoo held her hand up, forming a sphere of her element above it. Black-clad sunglass wearing figures started getting out of the van and pulling guns out.

"Cold Rinse," announced Shampoo as she unleashed her attack. Admittedly it wasn't much of a magic attack as such things went. Water being conjured up in a continual stream, roughly equivelant to a high pressure fire hose, at the sort of snowmelt temperatures you get from the mountain streams of her homeland.

Being hit with subfreezing water cannon fire, the Yakuza were not amused. Knocked over repeatedly, shivering so badly they couldn't shoot straight, and suffering the beginnings of frostbite - yes. Amused - no.

Shampoo thought about it, discovered she could lower the temperature a little bit more, and did so. Water began freezing solid as soon as it stopped moving. Sweetly and demurely, she passed the various statues, pausing only to beat up two Thugs who obviously had a lack of sense, pulled off one door of the armored car, and hauled out her airen before taking to the air again.

Was only proper for womans of Amazon village to kick major butt. She was really beginning to like certain aspects of this.

-------------

Naoko Takeuchi, trying to think of the newest plotline she could unleash after killing the Senshi off at the end of the Beryl plotline (especially after being visited by a number of Chinese Amazons), dropped her tea and stared at the television.

The nice young man from the animation studio followed her gaze and stopped talking about storyboards. "Oh my."

The figure on the TV screen twirled in midair, formed a sphere of water, and unleashed an attack that wouldn't have been out of place from the fictional Sailor Mercury.

"We gotta sign her!" The intern's eyes sparkled. This could be the mother of all Sentai series!

The newscrew started talking about reaction to "Sailor Amazon." They were tuned out by the two in the conference room.

"Okay, how about this," suggested Naoko, ideas coming to her. The girl was wearing an obvious variation of a Senshi seifuku and was calling herself "Sailor Amazon." Obviously someone had been inspired by Sailor Moon and somehow had decided to go that route herself. "There was a rival kingdom to the Moon Kingdom, and their rivalry weakened both enough that the Dark Kingdom could come in and defeat both. Maybe the Dark Kingdom used distrust and friction between the two kingdoms and got them to attack each other. So they come across the Senshi and bring them back to health, but neither group really likes or trusts the other..."

The intern was writing frantically. "Name of the rival kingdom?"

"Uhm, Sun Kingdom? Rival Moon Kingdom? Star Kingdom? I'll have to work on that later." Naoko watched as the televised Sailor Amazon unleashed a brutal seven strike combo that not only disarmed a gunwielding thug, but probably would put him in ICU.

"Magnificent," breathed the intern. Sailor Amazon was a white hot blur of martial arts fury whose clothing did absolutely nothing to conceal her attractiveness. If they could sign her, (and with the Sailor motif she was probably a fan), then posters would *SELL* to mainstream adolescent males. The usual fan base would buy the usual tie-ins, but this promised *major* marketshare.

"There you have it, live from Nerima! Is this a real life Sailor Senshi? Who IS Sailor Amazon? We'd like to hear from you, 555-71...."

Naoko turned the TV off and looked at the intern. "Sailor Amazon?"

Not surprisingly, the phone began ringing.

-------

"Kasumi?!" A little ways past some guy cooking hot dogs over a fire, there was her big sister.

Kasumi stood there, smiling at her little warrior sister, parasol perched jauntily over one shoulder, and a mound of luggage behind her.

"Shampoo never own that many bags, airen just have backpack last Shampoo knew..." Shampoo watched the darting form of Featherbrite and shrugged. Why ask why?

"My goodness, I didn't know you were a sentai character," exclaimed Kasumi on seeing Shampoo glide up with Ranma in her arms.

Shampoo shrugged as she set shifted Ranma's position in her arms. "Recent thing. Shampoo Amazon Princess! Get powerup! Shampoo got to beat on bad people for hurting airen, so not entirely bad experience."

"They'll be coming!" Featherbrite warned, trying to open the gateway. As she was noticeably exhausted it was quite slow going.

"How will follow? Shampoo fly pretty fast." Shampoo wasn't still that comfortable with great heights. Some instinct kept telling her that she should be falling and not gliding and making things difficult.

"Did they inject Ranma with the tracking tag, then?" Kasumi sadly looked over at the still unconcious Ranma.

"No problem, I'll (huff) just (puff) make an exclusion for (wheeze) that when I get the transport...(unnggg) going!" There was nothing she'd like better to do than rest, but if she did Featherbrite knew not everyone would be there when she woke up.

"Big sister, why you bring all this luggage?"

"Because, Shampoo, I need to get away and think about things for awhile." Kasumi looked slightly pensive. "And I'm not sure I want to be around Genma Saotome right now."

Shampoo grinned. Big Sister agreed with her on what a schmuck the panda was. She'd make a proper Amazon yet, maybe not a warrior, but a proper Amazon nonetheless.

-------------------

A few yards away, Ryouga's head snapped up. "Ranma?!" Those two were talking about Ranma? There couldn't be another one, could there? No, it had to be Saotome!

A rising glow began to appear around the two girls, the mound of luggage, and whoever that was that kid the one girl had slung over her shoulder.

Could it be that his quest was finally over? "RANMA! For the insult of the bread, for the missed duel, I shall make you pay!"

Ryouga started walking but realized that both luggage and girls were fading out. They were getting away! He switched to running.

Shammi noted her airen running and instincts took over. She gave chase.

Ryouga crossed a boundary and began fading away. Shammi, a half second later, also faded. Tiger, staring from a few feet away, wondered what the heck was going on here. After a few minutes of checking the area for signs, she decided to contact Cologne for additional instructions. Di Na would make a good courier while she remained behind to keep an eye on things.

Tiger nodded, it was a good plan.

By the time the Yakuza arrived, the park was empty.

-------------

Ryouga ran through the boundary of the spell and so was ALMOST where Ranma and the others were. Shammi went through the same part of the field as Ryouga and so ALMOST ended up where Ryouga was.

Not being directionally challenged, Shammi was able to find her airen without much difficulty.

Shammi watched her airen go stumbling about until a BIG Thing started towards him.

"AaaaaaH!" Ryouga managed when confronting something that rather resembled a nine foot long three-eyed boar.

"Heheheh, foolish mortal," the boar grinned. "You have intruded into the territory of Greaket, forest imp of the ninth level of the Unseelie Court. You are SO very doomed."

"A talking pig?" Ryouga drew his umbrella. "Uh huh. And how exactly am I doomed?"

"Urrr," Greaket paused. This wasn't how it was supposed to go. Wasn't the mortal supposed to be cringing in fear? "I am the mighty Greaket, mortal, and I can call upon you the Doom Of Pigs."

"Big deal. Now why don't you tell me where Ranma is?"

"Huh?! Aggghhhh!"

125 pounds of curvy amazon warrior impacted on the boar's head. "Hello, darling! When did you learn to speak Mandarin?"

"Huh? You're speaking Japanese?" Ryouga froze up as he realized what she had said.

"How dare you use the mighty Greaket as a landing site? You shall be punished!"

Drawing a set of knives out, Shammi grinned. "Darling husband such good provider. Shammi shall make wedding feast!"

"Greaket Final Attack. Doom Of Pigs!" Greaket concentrated and a herd of pigs materialized, splitting up to head for the two mortals.

-------Tendo-ke, Nerima-----

Nabiki was not a happy camper. She was not, in any stretch of even Genma's imagination, pleased. She was unsatisfied with the current situation more than mere words could express.

The contract had been left out on the table. Her father and Genma had apparently left to go celebrate. She'd seen them leaving and had exchanged a few words with them. Then she'd found an empty house, no sign of Ranma, and THIS on the table.

Nabiki prided herself on her business skills and intellectual superiority to the crowds of Furinkan High School. She skimmed the contract then began seperating the meaning from the legalese mumbo jumbo. It didn't paint a pretty picture.

Akane entered the house, somewhat angry over having been to school, gotten into a fight with a practicing soccer team, then discovering that it wasn't even a school day!

"Where is everyone?" Akane said after watching Nabiki reading something and groaning every few paragraphs.

"Our wonderful father and his friend have decided to go celebrate this lousy business deal that they have just made." Nabiki covered her eyes with her hands. If her father knew about this, then this would be worse than the time he'd gotten that "good deal" on Kobe beef. From then on, Kasumi had done all the shopping.

"Dad got another deal?" Akane frowned. "Not another one of those 'once in a lifetime' deals like that 'in your home pachinko parlor' crap?"

"From this, I'd say that Mister Saotome's business skills are at least on a par with father's."

"That bad, huh?" Akane looked around. "So where's Kasumi? For that matter, where's that fiance of yours?"

"Kasumi?" Nabiki blinked, it just now penetrating that she hadn't seen any sign of her elder sister.

-----faerie realm----

Shampoo held the collapsed pixie in her hands. "Featherbrite asleep now. So now what do?"

Kasumi spread a blanket out on the grass and clucked to herself. She should have brought a thermos of tea. Well, one couldn't think of everything. She found where she'd stowed the kettle.

"I wonder if there's any water nearby," Kasumi said. She looked around at the grassy field with a few odd trees sticking up. Ranma would probably be more comfortable if he were male.

"That way," a large crow croaked, wing extended to Kasumi's left. "Stream."

Shampoo stared. Kasumi merely bowed politely and thanked the crow.

The raven, for that is truly what it was, merely shrugged. "Don't mention it." There should be some leftovers around soon. The raven blinked again as the smell of roasting pork reached it. Hmmm. This bore looking into.

------------

The fire crackled cheerily. Strips of meat were cooking on tiny little sticks, filling the air with the smell of roast pork.

"Husband is such a good provider!" Shammi smiled, maybe this would work out after all. Too bad they weren't back at the village, she really hated to waste the meat but there was too much to carry.

"H-hu-husband?" Ryouga repeated for what had to be the twentieth time since Shammi and Ryouga discovered that they could speak to each other.

"Yes, husband." Shammi's eyes flicked towards her new husband. He seemed a little shy, which she found endearing. Much easier to take the proper aggressive in-control role for an Amazon with such a mate.

"MMMRgghhhhhfffff!" The decapitated head of Greaket struggled to spit the apple out of his mouth. He was still quite angry about this turn of events. Was he not the mighty Greaket? This was a temporary setback! He'd teach these upstart mortals to mess with a member of the Unseelie Court!

Ryouga stared at the woman as if he couldn't believe this. A girl. A pretty girl. A pretty girl was interested in HIM!?! No, it couldn't be. This was a joke right? Right. Had to be. A pretty girl couldn't be leaning close to him now, brushing his hair back so that she could look into his eyes. A pretty girl couldn't be giving him a slightly pouty look and asking him if he was hungry for anything, just anything at all...

With a fountain of blood erupting from both nostrils, Ryouga fainted.

Shammi stared for a moment, swore, and turned back to the cooking meat. Feh. Fighting got her hot, she knew. All revved up and nowhere to go. Maybe this wouldn't work out after all.

------

"Where's Kasumi?" Ranma tried to sit up, only to fall back immediately.

"She try to get water, been gone long time." Shampoo was torn. Her airen couldn't defend himself, and her big sister was out there without anyone to defend her. The little faerie was still unconscious. What was she to do?

"Shampoo," Ranma gasped. "I'll be fine. Drugs are just making me woozy. I don't seem to be as able to fight 'em off in my faerie form as I would if I were a guy. But I can cope..."

Shampoo watched her airen collapse again. "Shampoo think airen is, how Nabiki say, full of it." Maybe she should just check up on Kasumi and come right back?

-----------------------------

Kasumi filled the kettle with the cold water from the stream. She'd still have to find a way to heat it up, but that would come when she could rejoin the others.

Kasumi stopped as she felt a presence. Background data began to accumulate. A faint smell reached her, a not entirely unpleasant smell that reminded her of old leather easy chairs.

The large cave near the waterfall seemed to be the source of the smell and the feeling of presence.

"Uhm, hello, is anyone there?" Kasumi called, wondering if this was some sort of faerie like Featherbrite.

Glowing yellow eyes, each bigger than Kasumi's head appeared within the darkness of the cave. A low growl rumbled as something made itself known.

With a roar, the beast launched itself forwards.

------------------------

continued...

====================


just an omake by Gregg Sharp, with scenes from White Pheonix and feedback from Kender_Sci

omake (japanese: "extra") fanfiction use: refers to a tag at the end of the real story, sometimes a short scene, an outtake, or a spamfic.

-------------

"How bad could it be?" A Ranma grumbled. This particular Ranma had come to this place, Mimir's Well, because it was a point where multiple realities could be viewed easily. After marrying Akane, seeing his child killed, having the marriage break up due to that, having Akane find solace in Ryouga's arms, until the youngest Tendo ended up in a sanitarium, he sought to find an Akane he could take away from the native Ranma. Then he'd found out about a group of simulations being run called "A Worse Father Than Genma" and had gotten peeved.

Toltiir, Elder god of mischief, a being of extreme levels of power, blinked. "Very bad. Or very good. Depending on your viewpoint."

"Huh?"

"Observe," said the black cat as he showed a favorite timeline of his. "You know how a statue can create a template at Jusenkyo. Witness Rouge as Shiva for an example. Well, this is just the case of a few toys which were lost by a girl named Plum which then tumbled into pools. The Guide kept his daughter away, and now there's a very different fate awaiting Ranma at Jusenkyo."

"Big deal," said Ranma.

"And when the form is of a sort of cat, and you get submerged in a different sort of Catfist." The feline smirked as the image cleared.

"Oh... heck."

-------------

"Oh no! Sir fall in spring that Plum just drop toy in last week! Could have been terrible tragic story!"

"AAAAAAAAAaaaaaa... Well this isn't the Thousand Acre Wood!"

"Ranma?" A splash of hot water had turned Genma back to human but he wasn't sure of what he was looking at.

"Hi! I'm Tigger! That's Tea-Eye-Double Ga-Errr!" The anthropomorphic tiger waved. "Don't suppose you've seen Pooh?"

"What's a 'tigger'?" asked Genma after watching the critter deftly avoid being splashed by hot water from the Guide.

"The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is I'm the only one.

"The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is Tiggers are wonderful chaps
They're loaded with vim and with vigor
They love to leap in your laps
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is I'm the only one.

"Tiggers are wonderful fellahs.
Tiggers are awfully sweet.
Everyone elses is jealous,
And thats why I repeat...

"The wonderful thing about Tiggers
Are Tiggers are wonderful things
Their tops are made out of rubber
Their bottoms are made out of springs
They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy
Fun, fun, fun, fun, FUN!
But the most wonderful thing about Tiggers
Is I'm the only one.

"Yes, I'm the only one (GRRrrrrrr...) ooOOoooOOooooOOOO!!!"

Genma blinked again as the critter bounced entirely out of the Jusenkyo area and down the road. "Well, that was obviously not Ranma. He's got to be around here somewhere."

------

SPRING OF DROWNED TIGGER REDEAUX, an omake
some characters © 1974 by The Walt Disney Company

------

(bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, boing, spring)

"Ah hah, I says to myself," said Tigger/Ranma to himself. "A village. I'll just mosey by and see if they can give me some directions to the Thousand Acre Wood. Ooo hooo hooo hooooo!"

(bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, boing, spring)

-----

After having knocked Shampoo unconscious (by bouncing off her head) and landing in the village asking for directions to something called the "Thousand Acre Wood" - Cologne had asked what he was. Which had been followed by asking what a 'Tigger' was.

Which, of course, was followed by much bouncing and singing the song depicted two scenes ago.

At which point Shampoo brought out an old battered and raggedy copy of a 1970 Chinese bootleg edition of a Disney Winnie The Pooh storybook and compared the creature currently sitting on her head to the creature in the book. Everyone stared LOTS.

Which was when Lilac's tea got spilled and Tigger turned into Ranma.

Ranma was more than a little startled by this as he never remembered anything that happened when he was under the Nekoken. This had been a little different however and he vaguely remembered something happening. Just not the details.

Shampoo thought about this briefly, but the interrupted Tournament was resumed and she had to put those considerations aside for now.

To make matter worse, while Ranma was off getting the Third Degree from the Elders, some panda started eating the First Prize!

------

"They'll be here any moment," said Soun, waving around the postcard.

"Let me see that," said Nabiki, holding out her hand. Upon receiving it, she held it where she and her sisters could all read it at the same time.

The first part was in poor penmanship. [Tendo. Back from China. Bringing Ranma. -Genma]
The second part was written in English. [Me too - T.]
The third part was written in much better handwriting. [Shampoo say hello! Have aspirin ready please.]

(boing)

"What was that?" Nabiki asked.

(boing)

"What was what?" Soun asked.

(boing boing)

"There it is again," said Nabiki.

(boing toing boing bounce)

"It sounds like," began Akane.

(boing bounce toing boing bounce skip hop) "Wooohooo hooo HOOOO!"

"It's getting closer," said Nabiki as she headed for the door.

(bounce boing toing bounce skip grab bounce boing bing hop tumble)

Everyone looked to where Nabiki was currently pounced on by a stuffed tiger.

"Hello," said the tiger, his nose half an inch from Nabiki's startled face. "Name's Tigger. That's Tea - Eye - Double Guh Errrrr. Say. You're cute."

"Huh?!" Nabiki was wondering where this had come from. Also why, how, and a number of other things.

Akane briefly considered, then decided a strange talking tiger sitting on her sister's chest could mean only one thing. She casually picked a stone lantern out of the back yard and brought it down on the little pervert.

"AAAGGGHHH!" Tigger yelped as he leapt back out of the way.

"AAAGGHHHH!" Nabiki screamed as the obvious result occurred.

Looking at the small crater in the Tendo home, from which Nabiki's arms and legs and a heavy stone lantern projected, Akane realized that the pervert critter wasn't there. "Hey, who are you and why were you groping my sister?"

"I'm Tigger and that Saotome guy said I had a fiancee here," Tigger waggled his eyebrows. "Naturally, I wanted to know what a fiancee was."

"That's nice," said Kasumi, recognizing the character. "Would you like some tea, Mister Tigger?"

"Absotively Posilutely," said the agreeable critter. "Now what?"

"You *want* a fiancee?" Akane paused, ready to unleash more outraged feminine wrath.

"Don't mind me," said a voice from within the crater. "I'm fine. Really."

"Of course, I want a fiancee," said Tigger. "It involves bouncing. I love bouncing."

Akane gasped. Kasumi smiled politely and poured tea.

"You like bouncing?" Akane had known this was a pervert, now she was vindicated.

"Bouncing is what Tiggers do best," declared Tigger.

Akane twitched as she sidled around the little creature. She'd smash him flat in just a moment. "Oh really?"

"Yuppers!" Tigger nodded and sat on his tail. "Why, Tiggers are just natural bouncers. I bounce every chance I get."

"Got you!" Akane said, bringing the table down on top of the creature.

Tigger seemed to flatten momentarily between the table and the floor, then spring back the next moment. *BOING*

The table flew into the next room, a very startled looking Akane trailing it like the tail on a kite. *CRASH!*

"...serves you right..." mumbled Nabiki from her crater. "Could someone get this lantern off me?"

Akane staggered back into the room. "What *are* you?"

"I told ya, I'm Tigger!" insisted Tigger.

"What's a Tigger?"

(cue song, see lyrics above, lots of bouncing and pouncing)

"You engaged Nabiki to a Tigger?" Akane demanded of her father, having a sudden inspiration.

"Oh my, Father, that was nice. I'll get the formal teaset," declared Kasumi, making a note to also hide breakables.

"excuse me?" said a voice within a crater.

"Waaaaa! My little girl is getting married from her deathbed!"

"Excuse please!"

"Growf!"

"Oh my, more visitors," said Kasumi, who wasn't all that surprised to see some young girl and a pet panda after meeting Tigger. She was just disappointed that Eeyore and Mr. Rabbit weren't along. And Pooh, of course.

--------

Later...

A sleepy Kasumi wandered in her nightgown to the parlor where the rest of the family was having a late night chat. She yawned, clutching a pillow in one arm. "I'm sorry, Mister Tigger, but I'm having trouble getting to sleep. Would you please come share my bed with me?"

"Absotively Posilutely," said the agreeable critter, bouncing up the stairs with her.

"That, that..." Akane gasped, eye twitching.

"My plush toy fiance is cheating on me?" Nabiki gasped. "With my *eldest sister*??"

A song floated down the stairs about Tiggers being cuddlesome critters.

Soun began wailing about his daughters, mommy's little girl, and so on.

Genma, who was already very drunk, had resolved to get more drunk.

Shampoo got up from the table, yawning wearily. She murmurred sleepily. "Is good idea. Shampoo going join them now."

As the family facefaulted, scandalized, the tired Amazon went up the stairs, found the right door by the bouncing sounds behind it, and entered as Tigger concluded his cuddly Tigger song and bounced into bed with the eldest Tendo girl.

Kasumi happily wrapped the plush toy, almost visibly changing back from 'guardian of the household wa' to a cute little four year old girl whose mommy was sure to be around watching over her. She sucked her thumb.

Shampoo also seemed to regress from village champion to little girl as she just lifted the covers to crawl in and grasp Tigger's other side.

----

Kuno paused. "You're a little orange tiger. And you're marrying that soulless mercenary Nabiki Tendo? That Yakuza wannabe?"

"Yup," said Tigger. "She doesn't bounce so good just now, but I'll make her a great bouncer!"

Kuno turned red and then white and then back to red. "You've done what with her?"

Tigger bounced past Kuno. "Yup. She'll be even better at bouncing than that Akane girl in hardly any time. Just watch."

Kuno blinked, turning white again. "Akane... has... you... I... what?!"

Tigger bounced all the way to the classroom. "Dis must be the place. Ooohooo hooo HOOOO!"

--------

Kuno sat at his desk, the very picture of despair. "Akane has given her virginity to an animated plush toy?"

Unfortunately he said this while class was in session. It got very quiet in the classroom thereafter.

--------

A haggard and haunted Nabiki, at school surrounded by curious classmates, halted all conversation as she whispered in dull monotones. "Kasumi won't go to bed without Tigger anymore."

Downstairs, a haunted Akane also whispered to a stunned class. "That chinese floozy and my sister... together with Tigger..."

Kuno wandered the halls, his eyes glazed while constantly muttering. "A plush toy has stolen the virginity of my dear Akane..."

----

Girl's Gym Class:

"Hello, students. We'll be having a new assistant instructor today."

(bounce, bounce, bounce, bounce, boing, spring)

Nabiki found herself lying on her back with her plush fiance's furry nose barely an inch from hers. "Hello. Name's Tigger. That's Tea - Eye - Double Guh Errrrr for those that don't know, ya' know. Today we'll have a class on Bouncing!"

Blushing furiously, the girls of the class all tried to excuse themselves.

"Wait a minute," said Midori mere moments after Nabiki had fainted. "That's *Tigger*!"

"Woo hoo hoo HOOOO, that's right!" (cue song, bouncing off heads and all available horizontal surfaces.)

"Ohhhhhhhhh," said the Girl's Gym Class.

"We'll leave Miss Tendo right here-like," suggested Tigger. "I think she's gotta delicate constitutional or something. Follow me!" (bounce, bounce, sproing, boing, bing, bong, spring, pounce) "Like that! GRRrrrrrr... ooOOoooOOooooOOOO!!!"

------

Later:

On finding herself in the Nurse's office, Nabiki had rushed back to class.

She was beginning to wish she hadn't.

"Bouncing is FUN," said Midori. "Kind of tiring though."

Nabiki twitched.

Natsuki agreed. "My legs and butt hurt, but it was just so much fun today."

Nabiki twitched some more.

Ayako rubbed her lower back. "My goodness. Who'd have thought you'd get such a good workout from something like THAT."

Nabiki twitched LOTS.

"Hey, Nabiki, hope you're feeling better," said Midori, for once caring about the mercenary icequeen. After all, if she were engaged to *Tigger* there had to be a side to Nabiki Tendo that nobody had seen before. "You are SO lucky to have a fiance like Tigger."

"Yeah, I wish *my* boyfriend could be half that cuddly and energetic," agreed Ayako.

"She fainted again," pointed out Natsuki.

-------

Tatewaki Kuno was in hell. Or perhaps it would be more proper to say HELL.

"I have been upstaged by a three foot tall talking tiger," mumbled Tatewaki Kuno.

"You're kidding, you were watching?" asked Hiroyuki.

"No kidding. He took the entire girl's gym class for rides, and he had them all bouncing all over the place, it was..." Tetsuo's eyes glazed as he remembered. The music, the bouncing, the giggling, the strange warm and fuzzy sort of atmosphere. Especially the bouncing. The girls gym class. flashing legs bouncing... "...kinda surreal. Guy's got a lot of energy - he never slowed down."

Tatewaki Kuno fell over as if he had just been turned to wood and chopped down. Why couldn't that have been *him?* "I must smite this villain!"

"Careful he doesn't bounce you," suggested Tetsuo.

"GAK!" The great and noble Tatewaki Kuno felt something unthinkable. Fear.

-------

"Tigger-chan, can you come tuck me in and read to me?" Kasumi called sweetly from the top of the steps. "It's cuddle time again." She smiled charmingly.

"Woo hoo hoo HOOOO!! Hurray!" (Bouncing off of every wall, ceiling, floor and railing as the plush toy responded to the summons).

"Shampoo not miss this, too." (bouncing up the steps herself)

Nabiki cried wet tears down both sides of her face, weeping over the toy she loved cheating so openly on her.

-----

Golden Pair Martial Arts Figure Skating.

"Nabiki! Little Azusa challenges you! The winner keeps Matrina as her own!"

"Land's sakesss," grumbled Tigger. "How can she still not get my name right?"

--------

Nabiki stood outside her sister's door, daring herself to enter. The sounds of bouncing, laughing and giggling was just too hard for her to hear. It went on night after night. She steeled herself, reaching for the Ice Queen and finding only water, it flowed down both her cheeks as she reached out to open the door. Blinded by her tears, she stepped in long enough to sob.

"Tigger... Ranma, I... I *love* you... and, *snif*, if... if you want, I'll... you can go ahead and... *sob*... make love to my sisters and those other girls too. I won't mind, *snif*, just so long as you love me too."

Kasumi and Shampoo, who'd been playing innocent card games with Tigger, looked at each other, then at Tigger (who'd chased a sobbing Nabiki out of the room when she'd fled, trying to cheer her up), and shrugged.

"Work for Shampoo. Glad sister make offer. Very nice-nice."

Kasumi just smiled enigmatically and reached for the bag of marbles. "Shall we play another game till Tigger-chan comes back?"

----

Dr. Tofu steadily and calmly looked over Akane's butt as she leaned forward over the examination table, pants down around her ankles. "Hmm, I'd say that you're not getting enough lower body exercise for the kind of bouncing you're trying to do. Jogging just works the muscle groups differently. You might want to go more slowly until you get used to it."

"NO WAY!!!" Akane shouted, standing straight and clenching a fist. "I'LL SHOW HIM!! I'M GOING TO BE THE BEST BOUNCER IN NERIMA!!"

Tatewaki Kuno, leaning against the clinic's outside wall, heard this and continued to cry.

--------

(bounce bounce toing boing spring jump somersault bounce twang bop boink bounce) "Oooo hooo hooo HOOOO!"

Daisuke shook his head at the usual antics going on behind him. Ranma/Tigger had been at the school over a month now and... the little guy just seemed to grow on you - what with that "can do" attitude and somewhat moronic but enthusiastic approach to life.

"Where... is Furinkan High School?"

"You're here," said Daisuke.

Ryouga exclaimed happily. "At last! Now. Where is Ranma Saotome!"

"Well, he's..."

*splash!*

Daisuke looked around. Where was that guy that had been here a moment ago?

"Oh well, hopeless I guess, let me just go and have a sit down."

Daisuke blinked and looked down. A blue plush burro roughly four feet long and a little over two feet high. "EEYORE?!"

"So I'm told," sighed Ryouga heavily. "Don't mind me. I..."

(stampede trample cloud-o-dust)

"IT *IS*!" squealed Midori.

"Uhm, excuse me," sighed Eeyore/Ryouga again dejectedly. "I'll just be going."

"No," corrected Midori with nods from the crowd of girls around her.

"No?" Ryouga said, sure this was going to be another nightmare.

"No," repeated Midori. "You're *way* too cute!" The crowd of girls nodded at this.

"I'm... what?" For Ryouga this was like being told that instead of the expected firing squad, you'd just been issued an invitation to a banquet.

At which point a half dozen young girls grabbed him, hoisted him up, and hauled his plush toy body up to their classroom.

Another sigh escaped his lips. "...damn you, Ranma, it's all your fault I keep getting cuddled by strange mainly cute women..."

Daisuke slowly climbed back to his feet. "I'm getting used to being trampled but Midori really needs to stop wearing those heels. Ouch."

----------

The Black Rose tried to ambush this Furinkan crowd.

Operative word - *tried.*

Every attack was neatly avoided as the girls *bounced* out of the way.

What was worse was that she thought that her own presence had been largely ignored.

"This is intolerable! I shall..." (trip, thud, wham!) trip over a large plush donkey?!

*Weary sigh.* "Sorry about that. My own fault really. Oh the humanity of it."

"How DARE you trip the... Black rose of saint hebere... ke..." Kodachi's violet eyes stared as she took in the sight. There hadn't been a number of pleasant memories of her childhood, but one had just surfaced. When her mother had read to her from a book, and in that book had been. "...eeyore?!"

"So I'm told," sighed Ryouga/Eeyore.

Kodachi twitched. "That's it. I'm done experimenting with black lotus. This is entirely too surreal. Hmmm. That would explain why I couldn't strike the girls, early effects of a hallucination."

"Tell me about it," agreed Ryouga/Eeyore.

"You're obviously some aspect of my own personality viewed through this hallucination," mused Kodachi Kuno. "I think that's how this sort of thing is supposed to work. Probably the innocent child I could have been. So, what bit of wisdom can you impart to me?"

Ryouga/Eeyore ruminated on this briefly. He had to admit that he became a good deal more thoughtful/philosophical in his cursed form and also tended to be more depressed. And while he might rail against the inhumanity of it all, being grabbed up and cuddled by strange girls wasn't quite the horrific curse he often made it out to be. He took one look at the girl and thoughtfully came up with a suggestion. Which, oddly enough, had originated with advice Tigger had given him. "Lighten up. Don't take things too seriously. Go out and have fun once in awhile at least."

Kodachi nodded and vowed to give it a try.

-----

Happosai vs Tigger. Ohh, the pain...

----

(bounce, bounce, bounce)

The students hopped by, over the trees, over the rooftops, in between fences and out of alleys on their ways to school.

(bounce, bounce, bounce)

All of them practically immune to her ladle throws.

(bounce, bounce, bounce)

The ladle lady was washing her walk, flinging the water about in all directions, trying to catch a *single* student. Her daily average had sunk so far she now hit less than each week than she used to in a *morning*!

(bounce, bounce)


----

(Boing, boing, bing, sproing, pounce!!)

Ukyo Kuonji lay on her back, looking up at the furry tiger perched on her chest peering at her an inch away from her nose. "Hi! Name's Tigger. That's Tea...."

"Wha.. what... WHAT!!???" The chef on a vengeance quest skittered along backwards she dislodged the plush tiger and managed to end up fifteen feet away with her battle spatula in hands. Hair sproinged, she demanded. "What are YOU!!?"

(cue song, see lyrics above, lots of bouncing and pouncing)

At the end of the song Ukyo found herself face down on the ground with a cute and cuddlesome Tigger perched on the small of her back.

He bent over to poke his head in her face. "Do you know Pooh?"

Ukyo's smudged face scrunched up in a mimic of consternation, but her heart wasn't in it. "No, I'm on a vengeance quest against the man who stole my honor."

"A Quest!!" Tigger shouted excitedly, bouncing her to a sitting position with him in her lap. "That's the sort of thing Pooh would do! Christopher Robin would too! Ooohooo hooo HOOOO!"

-----

Taro brings spring of 'virtuous man' water to splash Happosai, and gets...

Soun. With Spring Of Drowned Rabbitt water. Terrible tragic story.

He took up gardening shortly thereafter.

----

Miss Hinako Ninomiya sat at the front of the classroom licking on a gigantic sucker while cuddling Eeyore under one arm and Tigger under the other.

A student raised her hand. "Excuse me, miss Hinako?"

"Yes?"

"We don't think it's fair that *only* you get to cuddle them during classtimes."

----

Nabiki counted her money.

She counted it again.

She glanced over to the dojo, shaking her head at the strange music whistling out from all corners, and the shockingly huge pile of discarded shoes at the entrance.

Her parent, the bum, man most likely to drink himself into a stupor or cry himself to dehydration over everyday events, had managed beyond all odds to give her a fiance with at least three unusual (some would say impossible) talents. Of course he now spent a lot of time as a humanoid rabbit trying to keep Tigger from bouncing around in his garden. Back to said fiance...

One, he had saved their dojo from financial insolvency without any apparent effort, and was doing more outside the doors; helping out in classes, schoolyards, and just strangers on the street like a walking... err, *bouncing* PR firm.

Two, as a direct consequence of #1, he had, independant of any help from her, completely redeemed her from her Ice Queen persona, saved her reputation, and made her enormously popular.

Three, Kasumi was laughing and giggling all the time, and, she had to admit, Nabiki was doing her share of that too. Even Akane was known to forgive the Tigger's perceived pervertedness on occasion at hearing Kasumi laugh. It was as if the pall of gloom that had hung over their doors from infancy was gone, vamooshed, vanished.

Shampoo had rennovated the front of the Tendo house into a ramen stand and now sold as much volume to the students as the concession stands at a sports stadium. Ukyo had bought the property across the street and now ran an all-night Bouncercize and Eatery. (It was strongly recommended that one do it in exactly that order.)

Nabiki was earning fifteen percent from just sitting on her buttocks, engaged to one of the most cuddlesome cash cows ever imagined.

His panda of a father was laying in a depressed and despairing stupor in his own little corral, as the prime attraction to the neighborhood children's petting zoo.

She shrugged and bounced off to join the class.

==========