It was a calm cloudy day; the gloomy sort which made Ranma just about go nuts with anticipation. When would it be warm again? When would the sun peek through the clouds? When would his father stop lazing around the house and turn back into a human? These and other questions continued to bother him until he finally decided and announced rather loudly, "I'm going for a walk! Be back in a while!"
Walking down the streets of Nerima seemed to calm him and this calming was much needed, since in addition to the normal stress of being a cursed martial artist, he was having the strangest dreams lately. In these dreams he'd change into a girl, and stay that way, often for hours at a time. The odd part was that he loved it.
It was wonderful and liberating. No more worrying about what a "man among men" would do, because he wasn't a man. He was that lovely red haired, pigtailed young woman and he absolutely treasured every moment of it. Until, inevitably, someone would ask him why he was spending so much time like that and, to keep his cover, he'd change back. Of course this Ranma didn't have the luxury of living in that dream state, not to mention that he could barely admit that there might be a slim possibility that he'd like living as a girl. But then again, there was also that part of him that kept lingering longer and longer in his cursed form.
"Oh, I just forgot." "I'm used to it, I didn't notice." "I was just flirting to get free food." The excuses started piling up and soon it would become clear that Ranma might actually be enjoying herself as a girl. In the midst of all this thinking though, Ranma hardly noticed the dark storm clouds build then explode, showering the earth in refreshing cool rain, turning him to her, thoroughly soaking her clothes. Ranma dashed into the first shop she could find, hoping she could stay there until her clothes dried, then head home. But the store he went into only managed to make things worse.
It was a dress shop. Not just any dress shop, but a formal dress shop. She was surrounded by fancy gowns everywhere she looked. Oh, this was bad. This was really bad. The male part of her screamed out to run but the female part, currently dominant, would have nothing to do with it. Just then, the old woman who apparently ran the place noticed Ranma.
"Oh my! You'll catch a cold in those soaked clothes! Here, let me dry them for you," Seeming to anticipate Ranma's next question, the lady continued. "You see, miss, I live here as well. Business isn't as good as it once was. I have to save money. Now out of those wet things dear before you catch something." The wrinkled shopkeeper stood there while Ranma, displaying her usual total lack of feminine modesty, stripped off her clothes leaving her bare chest exposed and her body clothed in only a pair of soaked boxers. The shopkeeper simply sighed. She was utterly embarrassed.
"What?! Ain't you ever seen a pair of these, ya old hag?" Ranma snapped at the old woman, before sighing heavily, 'maybe' she decided that this was one person she should try to be nice to. "I'm sorry for snapping at you. Do you have something else I could wear?" she asked. As the old lady gathered the wet clothes, she grinned and pointed all around to the formal gowns.
"Take your choice, young lady. They are free to try on, you know. We're about to close anyway, I can loan you a bra, some panties, and a dress until your other clothes are clean." As the old woman finished, Ranma shook her head rapidly, obviously not wanting to subject herself to this, for the simple reason that she might have actually liked it.
"N-no. That's perfectly fine. I don't like dresses. Do you have anything else?" Ranma said with much hesitation in her voice, but the old woman just gave her a bright smile and that look that seemed to be just like a grandma would give her granddaughter.
"Make an old woman happy, Please? I haven't seen a young girl as pretty as you in some time. I'd be honored if you'd wear a dress of mine." The old lady continued the grandmotherly smile before she saw and heard Ranma finally give in. "Oh, great! I know just the one for you, dear."
Ranma's eyes lit up as she saw the gorgeous red gown. It was long, flowing, and very elegant with a somewhat low cut front. The material appeared to be a luxurious satin or silk, she really couldn't tell. It was magnificent but then came the torture. Matching lacy panties and a frilly, tight looking bra. "Aww, I really have to wear those, huh?"
"I'm afraid so, dear. Didn't your mother ever teach you how to be a proper lady? I'm sure she must have told you not go around without a bra on! It's shameful! But I suppose I can forgive it." Smirking, the old lady thrust the garments into Ranma's hands and pointed her towards the dressing room. Ranma reluctantly complied, muttering the whole way.
Once she got back there, the struggle began. Would putting on the bra mean she wanted to be a girl? She thought to herself, "Ya know, maybe those dreams were right. I mean, what's my life as a guy been so far? Crap? Three engagements, way too many people out to get that stupid boy form." She sighed a deep, contemplative sigh. "I'm gonna do it. If I don't like it I can change back any time, right?"
Smiling lightly, still not completely sure of herself, she put on the bra and fastened it. Smiling a bit wider, she realized that it did actually help to have a little support for her rather generous chest. "Well what do you know?" Ranma laughed to herself. Why had she been so foolish before? She had neglected the beautiful girl inside of her for far too long and it would stop here.
Staring down at the boxers, Ranma realized another problem. She'd never worn such snugly fitting clothes before, in either form. And in this form, she assumed, that region would be much more sensitive. It was what she'd been most scared of, as it was the final undeniable evidence that she'd lost her manhood. Again, the thoughts went through her head. "And what exactly has that precious manhood gotten you, Ranma? A lifetime of running? Never getting to be able to make any friends anywhere? Who knows how long before Pops decides this thing with the Tendos' isn't working and he'll just grab you up again and before you know it, you'll be engaged three more times."
Resolved, Ranma peeled off the soaking boxers and slipped on the delicate panties, shuddering lightly at the somewhat strange sensation of the delicate material on her body.
"I suppose I'm gonna have to be more careful now, about letting stuff rub against there." Ranma made sure to keep her voice low, a gentle whisper, the whole time. Previously all her clothes had been loose, baggy, so nothing actually ever touched that specific bodily region, and definitely nothing as fragile and soft as feminine panties. Ranma was still going over the strangely comfortable sensation in her head, wondering "H-How do girls do this? Do I really want to have to deal with all these new problems that I'd gain with this body? But then again, it's nothing compared to what I'd have to go back to, if I was a guy."
"Anyway, on with the show, girlie," she muttered and after a few minutes of confusion about what exactly to put where, Ranma managed to slip into the dress. She looked into the mirror at herself. "Not half bad, Saotome! In fact, You're downright gorgeous." A faint giggle slipped out as she completed this statement, before that male warning alarm went off again.
The strong, masculine voice scolded him harshly, saying, "You giggled. You're a sissy! A disgrace to your family, your father, the art, everything that makes you the man you are."
Ranma simply responded by whispering very delicately, very gently, "I don't want to ever again be the man that I was." With that, she took her hair down from the braided pigtail it had been in and walked out of the dressing room, ready to show that old woman just what kind of girl she could become.
"Oh, My." The old woman's face seemed to light up with an almost unnatural brightness at seeing the beautiful figure standing before her. "Dear, May I ask your name?"
"Saotome Ranko. Very lovely to meet you," she answered the old woman in her most feminine tone.
"Ranko, hmm? That's quite a lovely name. It fits you." The old lady continued with her pleasant, complimentary speaking, sliding a somewhat tall, narrow box over to the fiery haired figure in the stunning gown and instructed, "Try those on, will you?" adding, "Have you worn heels before?" Seeing that Ranko shook her head slightly, the calm old woman moved over and smiled, telling her, "They're just normal shoes, only a little higher. You can balance, right?"
Smiling, Ranko answered, "Sure can. I've got great balance and these shoes are cute too!" Another giggle. Ranko's whole attitude seemed to change and she was enjoying it. Most amazingly, to her at least, was that the world hadn't blown up yet because she did. Slipping her feet delicately into the cute red heels, she stood, maintaining her balance like a true pro. "It's no different from walking on a fence," she told herself.
"She looks so naturally beautiful. Why is she so reluctant to let herself do this?" thought the old dress maker, looking at Ranko and watching her enjoy this more than any other woman she'd ever seen before. She continued her quiet reflection, "She seems troubled almost. As if the mere fact that she was beautiful and feminine was an attack on her personally. That's silly though. She just isn't a dress type of girl." The silver haired seamstress spoke up, smiling lightly. "So, how do you like it, Ranko?"
"It's wonderful; but it looks so unbelievably expensive. Not really my usual style though, I don't have any dresses. I'm too scared of what people would say to see me actually act like a girl," Ranko answered and thought, "Man, would this be wonderful though, Just to be a girl. They'll have to accept it, this is how I want to be."
Eventually, the old lady caught on and smiled, breaking Ranko's concentration with a few simple words. "The dress is yours, if you want it, Ranko."
Her eyes shot open wide as she exclaimed, "Huh? Of course I want it! Oh, I can't believe it!"
This was, of course, satisfaction enough for the old woman, who simply nodded and smiled, saying, "It's nothing. I make all my dresses. I can spare one. Besides, in exchange, maybe you'd give an old woman some company on occasion?"
"Oh, sure! Of course I could do that," Ranko said, still almost giddy with excitement. "Thank you so much. You don't even have any idea how this is going to change my life."
The old lady promptly responded, "It's just a dress, dear, and you look very beautiful in it. Now, I think your clothes are done. I'll go get them so you can change." She went back and retrieved the dry clothes for her crimson haired customer, and in a matter of minutes, she was back. Ranko slipped the shoes off her feet and set them back in the box.
A million thoughts raced through Ranko's mind; about how she never felt like being that stubborn, overly masculine, jerk again as long as she lived. Telling everyone else that would take some time, however.
Changing quickly, Ranko hung the dress back up, keeping the bra and panties on. "Because it's what a lady would do," she told herself. The old woman wrapped the dress in plastic and gave it to Ranko, still seeing that bright smile on her face.
As Ranko was going to leave, the lady commented, with a wide grin on her face, "Enjoy your present, child, and don't forget your agreement. Oh, and the underwear's on the house as well." This elicited a bright pink blush from the petite, smiling girl as she walked out of the store, knowing her life would be taking an entirely new turn very soon.
Over the course of the next few weeks, Ranko managed to slip out several times. On each successive visit to the dressmaker's shop, Ranko told the more of the story of her life to the aging shopkeeper, and she seemed to enjoy every word.
As they neared the end of the story of Ranko's life, the kind old woman spoke up once more. "So, Ranko-chan. You're really a man, correct? That is to say, you were born as one?"
Ranko nodded politely, and smiled, raising her gaze to meet the woman's once more. "Yes, I was. But recently, I've wondered if that trip to Jusenkyo wasn't for a bigger reason than some silly martial arts training. Perhaps there's been a plan to make me a girl all along," She paused, and smirked. "The universe likes messing around with me, it seems."
"Yes, it certainly would appear that way." The inquisitive woman began another question, in all seriousness, "Ranko-chan, do you like women, or men?"
The red haired girl was somewhat unprepared for this question. She sighed heavily, and idly spun the teacup on the saucer, contemplating. "Well, which is it? Women? Do you want to spend the rest of your life with a woman? Do you want to be another girl's wife? And what about men?"
Visibly, Ranko shuddered, returning to her thoughts. "Do you want a guy? Would you want to be in a wedding dress, staring into your husband's eyes? Is it really what you want to be pregnant someday?" She smiled a bit, still undecided. Then again, she hadn't had much interest in girls before. Could the interest she had taken in girls be explained by her now revealed desire to be one? There were still a few doubts, but it seemed the answer was guys.
Seeing that the lady was still expecting an answer, Ranko cleared her throat, and spoke up, "I don't know, really. I do know that I'd like to be a mother someday." Pleased with this answer, Ranko very femininely raised the teacup to her lips, and took a small sip.
A slight smile crossed the old woman's worn features, as she rose from the table. "Ranko-chan, dear, I'm afraid it's time for this old woman to go take a nap. I wish you luck in making this transition."
"Thank you, that means very much to me. Thank you for helping me decide, even if you didn't realize it at the time. I think I am going to tell them tomorrow."
Ranko gave a faint smile to her gracious host, and exited the store. The thought, "I'll tell them tomorrow", was still racing in her head.
Ranko Saotome stood in the living room of the Tendo training hall, dripping wet from her latest encounter with the koi pond, staring at her various supposed fiancé's and admirers, both male and female, along with family, while their utterly astonished expressions burned through her like a flaming arrow. Suddenly, the soft, almost shy voice of Ranko pierced through the silence.
"You heard me.. I like life better as a girl. Deal with it.." this comment was almost squarely directed at the girl's mother, Nodoka Saotome, seeming to only add fuel to the fire burning in her eyes.
"This is not how a man among men acts. you must fulfill your obligation and commit honorable suicide." said the angry matriarch, almost surprised that Ranko didn't jump at the chance. Nodoka's harsh words met with an equally harsh reply.
"That was not my agreement, I was only a little child, how did you expect me to live up to what I couldn't even read to understand? If there's anyone here that needs to start fulfilling obligations, it's 'pop' over there." she said, adding obvious emphasis to the last few words, while staring directly at the large, black and white panda sitting idly by, holding up a sign that read "Who, me?!"
"Yes you!" was the immediate response from anyone who Genma had ever promised anything to, and failed to fulfill. The large panda simply sweat dropped, lowering the sign immediately, as the soft voice broke through again.
"I have to find someone to make me this way for good, and Kuno, just stay away. I do not want to have to severely beat you up right after my nails finished drying," As Ranko finished, A large sweat drop formed beside Kuno's head, although smaller, and for a different reason than the rest of the group. They were simply shocked at the fact that Ranma, no, Ranko was actually saying these things, and just look at how she was dressed! Akane finally realized why Ranko had asked her to borrow a dress and some undergarments earlier.
Akane thought to herself, "I just assumed he was going to dress as Ryouga's sister to freak him out again, oh, if I would have known." An almost sad look came to Akane's eyes. In spite of all the tough exterior, she would be the first one to offer assistance in Ranko's time of transition.
"Ranko?" she said curiously, not quite yet what to call the redheaded girl standing before them, "If.. if you want, I'll help you get some nice clothes, and teach you about certain womanly things you'll need to know. We should pay a visit to Dr. Tofu as well. He has some things he should tell you about your new body." The rest of the group simply glared at the sweet tomboy, how dare she take Ranko's side? How dare she not be completely and totally inconsiderate of Ranko's choices?
Ranko answered, her courage strengthened a bit by this offer of help. "That'd.. that'd be great.. thanks, Akane, somehow I knew I could count on you for support." The two girls walked slowly up the stairs, memories wandering back to the first day they met.
"I., I really did want to be friends that first day.. Ranko.." the brown haired, "un-cute", tomboy said.
Ranko replied "Thanks, Akane." Before her eyes started to fill up with tears. She continued, "I never thought they'd act so cold." At this point, Ranko began weeping on the shoulder of the one she had once ridiculed so often, even if the ridiculing was all in fun, as Ranko had once thought. "We'll be great friends, Akane.." Ranko said as they disappeared into Akane's room.