Written By: Matdeception
Rough Draft Started: 8/17/11
Rough Draft Finished: 8/30/11
Revision Started: 9/9/11
Revision Finished: 9/14/11
Disclaimer: Screw disclaiming; Mouse owns everything anyway.
Credits: PCHeintz72; Spell checking. Foesjoe; General nitpicking and helpful advice. TFF; Complete assholes. I love me.
Mascara blinked, the aging Amazon elder rubbed her eyes tiredly. "Huh." she frowned, something at the edge of her thoughts trying to make itself known. Whatever could this most uncomfortable sensation be, she wondered? "Balm, could you run to Cologne and tell her to come see me?"
Balm, a middle-aged Amazon soon to finish her apprenticeship under the venerable Mascara, frowned at the Ancient elder's request. "Ah, Honored-Elder, Elder Cologne has been in Japan for many months."
"Really?" Mascara frowned, "Whatever for?"
"Husband-retrieval I believe." Balm shrugged, adding more herbs to the bubble stew, "The young man who defeated Saffron happens to be the same boy Shampoo is married too."
"Huh." Mascara frowned. She tried to drudge up memories of Cologne leaving, of Shampoo getting married, and of anyone actually beating the Phoenix King. "Oh, well, I suppose senility is finally setting in."
'Finally?' Balm mouthed to herself.
The sharp sound of a door closing was like lightning to her senses. She came awake with a start, her rapid beating heart thundering in her ears as she gasped for breath. Blearily looking around at the sterile grey roof and sparse bedding she laid upon, confusion began marring her mind. Why was she here of all places? Did something... oh by the spirits she could clearly remember Logan's groveling, she could remember Xavier's cinnamon streaked face as she force fed him rolls. Ororo couldn't help but blush at the happy ending to all that insanity, and dearly hoped they would give her time to explain herself before making assumptions.
"Awake?" Hank said, the blue furred ape-man stepped up to her, glancing at several instrument panels displaying various images she didn't quite comprehend. "Twenty-seven seconds after contact ended." he hmmed to himself, jotting that down on a clipboard.
Ororo pulled the sheets of the bed up, shielding her blushing cheeks from the man. "Ah, yes. I'm awake."
"Good, good." he distractedly replied at first, inspecting the beeping machines. "How are you feeling?"
"Better." the Nubian woman hesitantly answered.
Hank nodded, looking at her finally. He smiled slightly, "No pain? Any itching, anything out of place?"
Ororo shook her head at first, before frowning. "How do you know about that?"
"Xavier." Hank offered, "After Ranma was forced to stop your obsessive cinnamon roll focus, and given your lemonade focus the day prior, we were all concerned."
She felt herself shrinking inwardly at being reminded just how unhinged she had been of late. "I see." she wondered if the man would mind if she covered her entire head in the sheet? She wanted nothing more then to hide after recent events. She sighed slightly, "No pain, but a slight pressure, yes."
"I see." the mutant-doctor wrote something down on his little notepad. "If you don't mind, I'd like you to monitor this feeling closely. As it increases try and determine the rate of expansion and..."
"Hank." Ororo interrupted tiredly, "What's happening? Have you managed to figure anything out?"
"Well," Hank shrugged, "we're operating under theory-craft ourselves. Ranma seems to believe his curse is responsible for your problems, and while I'm hesitant to agree with him it certainly is a path worth investigating."
"Curse?" Ororo frowned.
"Ah." The blue-ape chuckled, "Yes, funny story, that. Apparently young Ranma is cursed to turn into a girl with cold water, with hot water reversing the transformation."
Ororo blinked, "Surely you're joking."
"No, I am not." he shrugged, "He believes this curse also forces a change in the weather, changes you were subconsciously negating through your own mutation. His 'aura', as he describes it, was attacking you. Likely applying more pressure to effect the changes in order to get around your own knee jerk reaction in stopping it. If his theory is correct, at any rate."
The Nubian woman nodded slowly. Ranma had a curse? At first she thought he meant his mutation, it was a sad truth several of the more desperate sorts would view it as such and not for what it was; Evolution. Changing genders isn't unheard for mutations either, Mystique coming to mind, but a trigger based on the varied degrees of water? She frowned internally then, as a certain fact made itself apparent now that she could take the time to think. The first fact was that she could think, in the past two days she had found thoughts of anything but her goal almost painful to endure, yet now it was mostly fine. She smiled serenely then, "At the very least you've discovered a means to regress the issue?"
Hank blinked, then shrugged, "Not entirely sure if you finally sleeping caused your problem to regress, but I doubt it. Even while unconscious young Ranma said his aura was still attacking you."
"If not sleep, then what?" she asked curiously.
"Ranma." Hank turned back to the screens, "After your... release," she could swear he was blushing beneath that blue fur of his. "he felt it best to remain by your side all night, maintaining skin to skin contact and cutting off your mutation from his aura so at the very least you could recover from your exhaustion."
Ororo nodded, accepting his explanation. "I see." she looked at the bedside clock, frowning. She pulled the sheet off, "I have to get up, bath, change and hurry to make the children's breakfast." she moved to get up.
The Beast pushed her back down, "No."
She stared at the man, eyebrow raised.
"Ranma has offered to cook this morning, given he fully believes your problem is his fault. That means you, my patient, are to remain relaxed and under my supervision until such time as we can figure this problem out."
Ororo nodded slowly. Well, that was a load off her mind. She inwardly decided it was perhaps for the best given her recent actions, not to mention the rather embarrassing... "I need a shower, now."
Hank raised an eyebrow at the woman, especially noticing the scarlet blush touching her cheeks. "Ah, yes. Of course." he nervously put out.
Scott pressed up against the wall, throwing hand-signs to the rest of the team as they neared their target. Even from here he could smell the tantalizing foodstuff, feel his mouth watering at the promise of so much sustenance. He wouldn't admit it, but Storm going insane meant he mostly starved the last few days, subsiding on the crap food from School and what snacks he managed to get with his pitiful allowance. He made a mental note to get canned food and a can-opener, stuff it in his room, and prepare more thoroughly for the next Storm inspired apocalypse. Maybe all those zombie survivalists had a point with their strange preparations. Even if Zombies didn't suddenly jump out of the ground, their preparations could be used towards other, much more likely disasters. Unless they found a mutant who could reanimate the dead, at any rate.
Kurt looked at them all curiously, raised eyebrow with a wiry grin across his lips.
Damn Zombie Survivalist!
"Prepare to breach." Scott whispered harshly, glancing towards Evan. "Bone walls surrounding her the moment we see her." he threw Rogue a glance, the little goth practically drooling in her ravenous hunger. "Worst case scenario, drain her dry."
Rogue nodded, a seriousness to the girl that Scott found rather cute. "Ah want eggs."
"Beautiful fluffy eggs." Evan murmured in tandem, "Buttery too, if we're lucky."
Kitty leaned back, phased head reappearing from the wall. She had a curious look on her face, "Like, huh? Storm isn't there."
Rogue took a tentative whiff, smelling the oh-so-delicious scents on the air that could only mean Storm was cooking before lunging at the girl, "She's ah pod-person!"
"Eep!" The Shadowcat eeped! Jumping back and only barely dodging the girls hands.
Kurt chuckled, "Okay, I know Storm has been freaking us out, but this is worth it."
"What are you doing?" Jean spoke up, slowly descending the stairs with a raised eyebrow.
"Hunting for food." Scott replied seriously, ignoring Kitty running around the living-room with Rogue hot on her heels. "Stick close, Jean. I have an exit plan if this goes wrong." he looked at her seriously, "For all of us."
The red-head frowned, "Right." she drawled, walking right past him and into the kitchen. "Morning Ranma!" her chirrup loud enough for them all to hear.
Evan blinked, hesitantly glancing into the kitchen. "Huh, it's just that jerk. Aunty isn't here."
"Thank the heavens!" Logan grunted, pulling a sheet off his head and stepping out from behind a large plant nearby.
"What?" Scott blinked, "How the hell did we not notice you?"
"Not my problem you kids couldn't find your way out of a paper bag!" The feral-like man snapped, heading into the kitchen.
Ranma stretched, feeling the kinks in his back groan a bit from the movement. Sleeping in a chair all night while holding Ororo's hand hadn't been the most comfortable of ways to rest, but he had to deal with worse. Mentally he chided himself, he really had no one to blame for all this but himself. Oh sure, Hank seemed dubious about it, but even the blue furry doctor had to concede it was certainly a possibility. It's why he had stayed with the Nubian woman all night, why he had gotten up early to shower and then make breakfast. Until the woman was cured of whatever was bothering her, this was the absolute least he could do to help out.
He flipped a pancake, catching a flash of red with his peripheral vision as he did so.
"Morning Ranma!" Jean chirruped as she entered.
"Morning." Ranma glanced back at the girl, waving.
"Notice anything different?" The red-head asked as she stepped up beside him, watching him curiously.
The gender-cursed martial artist blinked, looking at her. Her hair was impeccable as always, soft and vibrant on top her pretty little head. He guessed her clothes were alright, neatly pressed with nary a wrinkle in sight. He supposed it fit well on her, hugging in all the right places with out being overly provocative. Uh, not that he noticed such things. He gazed at her for a few moments longer before it finally hit him. "No make-up?"
Jean smiled at that, "Took you awhile, didn't it?"
"Eh." he shrugged, "Honestly I think you look better with out it."
"Do you, now?" the girl grinned slightly.
"Yep." the boy affirmed, flipping a pancake. "Anything special you want for breakfast?"
The girl hmmed, glancing over at the prepared food resting on the counter island. "I can't think of anything." she said as she grabbed a plate.
Logan walked in, with Scott, Evan, and Kurt not far behind. The feral-like man took a seat at the counter, a fierce look in his eyes as he glared at the pigtailed boy. "Feed me."
Ranma snorted even as Kurt sarcastically replied "Feed me, Seymour! Feed me!"
"Shut it brat." Logan snapped.
Evan frowned. "Where's my aunt?"
"Down stairs with Hank." Ranma informed with a shrug, "Resting last I checked."
"Is she si..." Evan tapered off, realizing how stupid that question was. "Okay, is she getting better?"
"We can only hope." Logan spoke darkly, "If I have to drink one more cup of lemonade I'll snap."
Scott eyed the red-head as she put her plate down at the table. He quickly grabbed a small helping, moving to join the girl, enduring her blank stare as he sat down across from her. "Hey."
"Hey." her return was distant, more mechanical then any kind of welcoming tone.
Scott sighed internally, trying to wrack his brains and come up with a way to approach the girl. He wasn't blind, since Ranma's lesson there had been a divide between her and the rest of the team, a divide that only seemed to be growing the longer it existed. It didn't help matters they had abandoned her to Ororo's bit of crazy the day before, had he known she had been left behind he would have tried to rescue her. Perhaps it was hypocritical, willing to rescue Jean but not caring when he hadn't known it was her, but it was just how he felt.
"Can we talk?" Scott said carefully, watching the girl as she slowly chewed on some eggs. Jean watched him neutrally for a moment, taking far longer then necessary to chew the little morsel and swallow before speaking.
"Of course we can." she said, shrugging lightly. "What's on your mind?"
"The team." Scott frowned, "I'm not going to sugar coat it, Ranma's lesson was overly harsh, damn near masochistic, but after taking time to really think about it I have to say it's what we needed."
Jean watched him, idly eating a bit as she listened.
"But now there's this divide between us. Er." the boy didn't blush per-say, but it was damn close, "I mean between you and the team. I know some harsh words were said, but can't we put it behind us? Can't we get back to where we were before that lesson?"
Jean leaned on one hand, eying him for a moment, "It's possible." she allowed, "But maybe I don't want to go back to the way things were."
Scott blinked, "What?"
"Maybe I like knowing where I stand with the team." The red-head said softly, "Maybe I like knowing the others are willing to stand up and tell me off. Maybe I'd rather they keep doing that then going back to the same old 'Keep Quiet or Jean will nag you' routine we've followed for over a year."
Scott mulled those words over in his head. Had the team really been following that kind of routine? He didn't think so, personally, but Jean obviously did. Honestly he thought they were fairly open with each other, but maybe the others weren't being so honest? He was honest, at least he thought so. Well, not counting his feelings, but that really didn't have any place when it come to the missions. He sighed after a time, "If that's what you want."
"And that's what I'm talking about." Jean snorted, "For Gods sake Scott, disagree with me! And not like with Ranma's lesson, were it took the lot of us getting our butts handed to us before you could do it. Tell me I'm wrong, tell me to shut up for once!"
"Eh." The Leader of the X-men really didn't know how to respond to that. He was saved by Kitty suddenly phasing through the wall near the others at the opposite end of the kitchen.
Grabbing Ranma by his sides and putting him between herself and the door, Kitty meeped. "Like, save me!"
Ranma glanced down at the girl. "Uh, save you from what?"
"Get away from Kitty! She's ah pod-person!" Rogue charged into the room, ignoring the utter lack of Storm as she charged Ranma, or more importantly the girl hiding behind him.
Ranma stepped forward and to the side, idly sticking his leg out and tripping the goth as she ran. Rogue began to fall, arms flashing about wildly as she tried to slow or stop her descent. She found herself caught from behind, one hand around her waist as she was pulled up and held tightly against the boy's chest. She felt his hand press against her cheek, the warmth of his body an alien feeling that left her nigh uncomfortable. "Lemme go!" she whined, struggling in vain against him.
"Not until you calm down," The boy said simply, ignoring the stares the other kids were giving them. "and explain just what a pod-person is!"
Logan snorted, "Pod-person, it's some one whose had their minds and bodies copied by aliens, used to infiltrate and promote some kind of agenda."
Ranma blinked, glancing at Kitty.
The California girl sweated, backing up nervously, "Like, I'm not!"
"Obviously." The boy snorted, glancing down at the girl struggling against his hold. "Rogue, Kitty isn't an alien. She doesn't even have tentacles for God's sake!"
Rogue slowly stopped struggling, blinking, "Uh, what?"
"It's a well known fact evil aliens all have tentacles that they use to poke people." he spoke sagely, before frowning. "Or are people who want to be poked, or want their children to be poked, or..." he shrugged nervously, "... y'know what? Forget I said anything." he finished, letting the Southern Belle go, the girl staggering off and just staring at him in wide-eyed wonder.
Scott frowned, glancing at Jean. The red-head looked a little green, but that was it. Evan looked confused, Logan look irritated, Kitty and Rogue looked shocked. Kurt...
Kurt chuckled nervously, a slight blush burning through his blue fur. "Ah, you mean they aren't Shikima." he winced as all eyes turned to him, "But, you should know, uh, Shikima aren't aliens really."
Ranma scoffed, "Yeah right. It's a fact all aliens come to earth to steal our girls, or men depending on what gets em excited."
"Eh." The Nightcrawler shook his head, "That doesn't make them aliens. Shikima are sex demons, come to earth from hell to pillage the, uh," He hesitated, "land. Yeah, let's go with that." he frowned, "And I'd argue the point. Shikima don't walk around tentacles flapping everywhere all the time. If they did, how would they trick girls into dark allies or remote meadows before having their way with them?"
Ranma nodded thoughtfully, "You got a point." he stared at Kitty for a second, before turning to Rogue. "Okay, she may be a pod-person. But are you really going to risk getting poked by trying to catch her?"
"I'm scarred for life." Came the chorus from everyone else.
She had a plan, even it she knew it would be little more then a stop-gap, but she had to do it. The way things were going Bayville would be little more then a smoking crater once the Great Enemies arrived. Taryn could already see the tornadoes flying, the blasts of energy rocketing, homes brought down with an errant twitch of the super powered psychotics that would flood this plain boring town. The best she could hope for was to limit the damage, scare off anyone that would unknowingly cause the ire of the Destroyers by being in a situation they could construe as 'perverted'
The slightly insane girl eyed the crates, examined the pulley system she had set up, and nodded in satisfaction. Everything was set, all she needed was the appropriate lynch-pin to complete the trap and draw the Walking Disaster into it. Then, yes, then she would show them all! If everything went right that pigtailed menace would soon find himself ostracized by everyone! Taryn wasn't particularly happy about having to do it, but she'd be damned if she let that clueless bastard drag her life totally back into hell. She had to do it, for her sanity if nothing else. Well, at least until she could convince her daddy to move to Mexico, but who knew how long that was going to take?
Taryn lifted her 'weapon', idly checking to make sure the 'ammunition' was still there. Yes, yes this would be glorious!
Lance waited in-between periods, glancing up and down the halls with a frown. Mystique hadn't shown up the night prior, which honestly wasn't a surprise. Since the whole craptastic episode with Asteroid M, the shape-shifter had been pretty much missing. Oh they knew she was around, she was the one sending them the occasional check for groceries and the like, but they still hadn't been able to talk to her face to face. This left him in a bit of a predicament given Ranma's offer. Accept the training and hope Mystique would approve, or turn it down and deal with her wrath if she thought it was a good idea. Toad and Pietro were for it, Fred didn't care, and Tabitha... well, their squatting house guest hadn't even been told. As for himself, well, he didn't care either.
As Kitty dragged Ranma down the hall, once again latched to him like they were a couple, he realized why he had to accept the training. He was grasping for straws honestly, but if he was teaching them that meant he couldn't be with Kitty, a fact only enforced by his warning not to tell the X-men about it.
"Like, I think we should, y'know, make it official!" The peppy girl chirruped.
Ranma frowned, "I dunno. Sounds like a lot of commitment. I'm fine with a fling every now and then, but to just come out and say it?" he sighed, shaking his head.
"You can't, like, call it a fling!" The girl nagged, "You make it sound dirty!"
Lance just frowned.
"Meh." Ranma shrugged, glancing at Lance curiously.
"Please?" The girl pouted adorably, holding his hands tightly as she looked up at him with wide expressive eyes.
The pigtailed boy just sighed. "Fine."
"Yay!" Kitty pumped her arm in success, "New Russian Club member!"
Lance blinked. Wow, that was it? He shook that thought off, ignoring the feeling of relief he felt as he stepped up to the others. "Hey."
Kitty glanced back, smiling, "Morning Lance!"
"Sup." Ranma nodded back.
"Just wanted you to know..." Lance began, ignoring the curious look Kitty was giving him, "... we thought about it, and yeah, we'll do it."
Ranma nodded slowly, shooting the curiously confused girl a look. "Awesome. I'll see about setting it up for the weekend."
Kitty frowned as Lance grunted, turned and began walking away. What the heck was that about? Set what up for the weekend? She glanced at her kinda-sorta boyfriend, "Like, what?"
Ranma grinned disarmingly, "Nothing to worry about. We were talking about how we'd stop bullies like that Duncan creep from picking on people."
The Shadowcat blinked, "How?"
Ranma glanced around, grinning slightly. "Hold that thought, I need to talk to some one." he said walking down the hall towards Risty and Rogue.
Rogue grimaced, shoving her books into her locker and slamming it closed before they could fall out. She really needed to take some time and just go through it, at this rate she didn't think she'd be able to open in much longer before things started flying out.
"So today's another training day?" Risty leaned up against the lockers, arms crossed.
The Southern Belle nodded slowly, "Yeah, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I think."
"Cool." Risty turned to leave only to run smack dab into Ranma. She stumbled back a step, half frowning, "Hey, you can't just stand behind people like that!"
Ranma blinked, "Eh." he shrugged, "Sorry."
Rogue gave the boy a look. "Sup?"
"Not much." the boy said, eying Risty. "Can I talk to you?"
"Sure." the English Goth said, leaning back up against the lockers. "What's up?"
"Ah." He looked at Rogue, "I meant alone."
The Southern Belle blinked. "Eh, fine." she shrugged, walking away.
Ranma waited until she was gone before rounding on the remaining girl. "Got an assignment for you."
Risty raised an eyebrow, "Oh really?" she drawled.
"Yep. You know who the Brotherhood are?" he posed the question.
"Yes." Risty grimaced, "Rogue talks about 'em some times. Jerks mainly, but I've never had a problem with them personally."
"Good." Ranma glanced around. Wouldn't be smart to tell Risty if Jean was around, the last thing he wanted was for her to accidentally ferret out information from Risty about his training plans. "I offered to train them, y'know, since they fight our students all the time."
Risty blinked. "You... you're going to train them?"
"Sure am." the boy affirmed, "But can't do it myself just yet. So, well, I'm sending you to get them going. I'll stop by this weekend when I can get away with out the others finding out."
The English Goth frowned, "Ah. Okay, so I'll hit them up this afternoon while you're training the others at Xaviers?"
"That's right." Ranma nodded, glancing back. Kitty was still where he left her, frowning curiously at him. "Anyway, gotta go. I'll meet up with you tomorrow and we'll really give those guys a lesson."
"Okay." Risty looked thoughtful. "Are we going to tell the kids from Xavier's about training the Brotherhood?"
"Absolutely not." Ranma snorted, "Not until they're ready at any rate."
Risty smirked devilishly as Ranma walked back to Kitty. Oh this was absolutely priceless!
Kitty pouted as Ranma walked into his class. She was oh so curious about what Lance had said, but try as she might she couldn't ferret the truth out of her sort-of boyfriend. Well, she wouldn't let something like that stop her! She'd figure out what was going on or her name wasn't Katherine Pryde! Lance, yes, she could pressure him into telling her the truth! Sure, it might take a little pout, maybe even some tears but she knew the guy would break down in the end! The plan was fool proof! She blinked then as the final bell rang, realizing fearfully that she was oh so terribly late to class now!
Shadowcat felt some one tap her shoulder. Glancing back, Kitty blinked as she got smacked in the face with a cloud of dust. She staggered a bit, ready to let loose with a vicious barb when a fierce wave of vertigo slammed down on her senses. Kitty only blearily realized some one had grabbed her, but no more then that as consciousness fled her in full.
Ranma eyed the clock hanging on the wall with a slight frown. Lunch began nearly ten minutes ago, yet Kitty was no where in sight. For a moment he pondered the possibility the girl had forgotten, but he doubted it. She had nagged him for skipping out on lunch the day before, and seemed pretty insistent on sharing it with him again. That begged the question of just where that peppy girl was?
"Hey Ranma." Scott stepped up to him, a rather serious look about him. He pressed the bridge of his eye-wear, pushing his glasses up slightly as he spoke. "Have you seen Kitty? She never showed up for Algebra."
"Eh? That's weird." As long as the pigtailed boy had known the girl, granted it hadn't even been three full days yet but still, she was damn serious about her school work. "Last I saw her she dropped me off for class. We were suppose to eat lunch together, but she still hasn't shown up."
Scott nodded, "Alright. If you do see her, could you ask her to find me? Just so I know she's okay."
"You got it." Ranma grinned, "Take your job seriously, eh?"
"Job?" Scott blinked. "She's my friend, Ranma. I take friendship seriously."
"Do you?" the pigtailed boy frowned thoughtfully. "Whatever. I'm going to go track Kitty down, see you around."
Kitty blearily opened her eyes. Her head felt weird, like she had been holding her breath until she was blue in the face. There was a pressure in her head, not quite a headache but absolutely uncomfortable. She looked around, immediately spotting the brown-haired Taryn sitting on a small crate, the older girl gazing at her intently. Kitty struggled a bit, finding her arms tied tightly behind her back, with a gag stuffed in her mouth to keep her from speaking. She hung upside down by her ankles, which were tied to a rope which was then tied to an overhanging pole sticking out of the roof.
"MMfh!" Kitty snarled angrily. She could get out of this, her mutation would make escape pathetically easy, but she didn't dare risk revealing her ability to the girl.
"I'm sure you're asking 'Why me?'" Taryn spoke seriously, even as she idly patted a super-soaker watergun. There was a brownish liquid in the toy's water supply bottle. Not water, or at least not clean water as far as the California girl could figure out. Now that she was paying strict attention to the girl Kitty noticed these oval containers with similar colored liquid strapped to the girls belt, they looked strangely enough like grenades of some kind. "Simply put, Pryde, you're getting too close to Ranma. I can't let you or any other girl get their claws in him, not if we want Bayville to survive the year."
Kitty rolled her eyes.
Taryn looked disgusted, "No! I'm not trying to take the boy for myself! I'm not about to risk my health, body, or sanity trying to date that nightmare! Especially not with the Fiancee brigade on the loose!"
Kitty shot her a curious stare.
"What, you don't know?" Taryn snorted. Figures, it really did. Oh she never expected Ranma to tell people about it, he didn't accept it himself as far as she knew, he just endured it. "Fiancee Brigade, a group of girls all out to marry his cute little ass. All of whom are super-powered bad asses capable of crushing your pretty little head like a grape." she shivered then, "And they're the good ones! With them comes the Lemmings, guys who desperately want them and blame Ranma for stealing them."
Kitty blinked, before frowning curiously.
"Eh?" Taryn shook her head, "No I can't read your mind, I'm just really good at figuring out what people want through body language." she shrugged reluctantly, "Helped back in Nerima."
Kitty tilted her head curiously.
"Enough questions!" Taryn snapped.
"Duncan." Jean smiled slightly, tapping the boy on the nose. "Are you okay? You didn't show up for school yesterday, or call me."
The Blond-haired quarterback shrugged. "Eh, mom got all overprotective when she found out about the fights. Wouldn't let me go to school, saying she was 'Scared' for her little boy." he smiled nervously, "You know how weird moms can get."
The red-head nodded slowly, before frowning. "Wait, fights? Did you get in more then the one I know about?"
"Eh." Duncan grimaced, "Yeah. Some foreign puke attacked me in the locker room. I gave as good as I got, but he knows kung-fu."
"Foreign?" Jean asked, eyes narrowing slightly. "Tell me what happened, from the beginning."
Duncan sweated internally. He knew that look, it was a look his girlfriend got when she was on the verge of entering Inquisitor mode. It was a look to be feared, especially since it usually resulted in the girl getting mad at him for one reason or another. "Eh, was there suiting up and..." Beating up Tolansky, he admitted mentally "... then that new guy shows up and starts telling me and the guys off..." Telling them to stop beating up Frog-boy and try him instead, he admitted mentally once more. "... and then he just up and beat the lot of us up for no reason." He said all that with a straight face. There, no way could Jean blame him for that, not with out being some kind of mind-reader anyway.
Jean glowered. "Duncan..." she began, only to stop as Ranma stepped up to them.
"Hey Jean." Ranma ignored Duncan outright, "Have you seen Kitty?"
Duncan glared at the little bastard, throwing a glance towards his girlfriend.
Jean shook her head, "Can't say that I have. Why?"
"Eh." Ranma frowned, "Scott says she never showed up for third period." he rubbed his forehead tiredly, "Didn't show up for lunch either, and y'know how she's been insisting on it."
"Ah." Jean glanced at Duncan for a moment, "If I see her I'll let her know you're looking for her."
"Thanks." Ranma grunted, staring at Duncan for a moment before rolling his eyes at the glare the boy was giving him. "I'm going to check around outside." he said as he walked away.
Duncan waited until the little bastard was gone before rounding on the girl, "You know that guy?"
"Yes." Jean shrugged, "Lives at the institute with us." she frowned then, "Now, about you 'defending' yourself."
He knew that look; It meant she somehow already knew the truth of things, or had seen through his lies. Damn it! Sometimes he really thought the girl could read minds. This was so unfair!
Ranma was getting irritated. Lunch was close to ending and he hadn't found hide nor hair of the girl. It was enough to fray what little patience he had; He wouldn't admit it if asked, but now he was getting concerned for the girl. He sighed, shaking his head. Well, screw it. The boss could get pissed at him for using his powers later, he was going to make sure that girl was alright be-damned the lecture he'd have to endure because of it. Tapping into his Ki, he closed his eyes and took a deep, shuddering breath. He sent an invisible pulse rocketing from his body, felt the Ki caress the contours of the school and ping those aura's he knew.
Jean was pretty much where he left her, though there was a taste of extreme irritation from her he hadn't noticed earlier. Scott, Kurt, Evan and the Brotherhood were in the cafeteria eating their lunch. Scott had a touch of growing concern about him, for Kitty if the pigtailed martial artist had to guess, which was a good sign in his book. Risty and Rogue were closer to the front entrance of the school, relaxed and generally in good moods. Kitty...
Ranma blinked, looking up. Yeah, she was up there, on the roof overlooking the Cafeteria entrance. What the devil was she doing up there? He glanced around before leaping up to the roof. Landing lightly, he frowned at what he saw. There were larges crates, many many large crates situated on the roof. Each crate covered with a tarp that had a series of ropes attached to each corner. These ropes bundled up and combined with a weird pulley system set up overhead, all ropes leading towards the center of the roof where he could just barely make out Kitty's feet held in place by the same rope connected to the pulley system. He shook his head, jumping over the crates and landing next to the strung up girl.
Kitty looked at him, immediately struggling now that some one had finally showed up.
"What the heck happened to you Kitty?" Ranma glanced at the girl, frowning as he untied her gag before turning her and investigating the knots.
"Trap! Taryn's behind..." The girl desperately tried to warn him.
"Oh ho ho ho ho!" Taryn laughed not unlike a psychotic gymnast he knew and loathed. Ranma froze, slowly turning his head to stare at the obviously insane girl. "And thus the great Saotome falls for the bait!" she crowed, pumping the over-sized super-soaker in her hands.
"What the heck Taryn?" The boy snapped in irritation, eyes narrowed dangerously as the girl pointed the toy at him.
"Isn't it obvious?" the girl rolled her eyes, "I'm here to make sure no one gets close to you. I'm going to show Kitty your little curse!"
Kitty rolled her eyes, "Like, I already know about the curse! Whoop-di-doo, change genders with, like, application of water with varied temperature."
Taryn blinked, "You... know about that? And don't care?" she asked in supreme confusion.
"Duh, like, course it was weird at first but, like, I've seen weirder things." Kitty shrugged as best she could. "Now can you please let me down?"
Ranma went about untying the girl even as Taryn frowned dangerously. Okay, she had been hoping the curse would be enough to freak anyone out, but apparently Bayville had a similar disregard for the truly outrageous as Nerima did. Still, she wasn't entirely unprepared for the eventuality. Plans within plans, Nerima had taught her the lesson of having such if you wanted to survive. "Well then." she breathed, "Guess it's on to plan B."
"Plan B?" the pigtailed boy paused, glancing at the girl nervously. "I, uh, know I'm gonna regret this, but what's plan B?"
"Eh." Taryn shrugged, "Go ahead and finish getting Kitty down, I'll explain it then."
Ranma did so, holding the girl in a bridal carriage as the last ropes were cut and she fell into his arms. The pulley system whined angrily as the ropes snapped free, and that was when the boy realized the true pain Taryn intended to inflict upon him. The tarps covering the crates fell, the cages falling open with out the tarps there to hold them shut, allowing freedom for the multitude of hell-spawned beasts sitting as pretty as you please within.
Kitty blinked as Ranma froze, the guy actually shivering in horror as he stiffened. Even with that her attention was focused primarily on the big ass tiger in one of the cages. "Like, WHAT THE HELL?" she yelled, "Where did you get a tiger!"
"Family pet." Taryn shrugged, pumping her super-soaker once more.
"That... that's not water, is it?" Ranma asked stonily, trying everything he could not to look at the little hell-spawns.
"Nope!" the insane High-schooler chirruped, "Concentrated catnip in liquid form. Isn't that great?" she grinned darkly then, "Plan B; Prove how utterly insane you are! As Bayville's first, last, and only line of defense this must be done! For the greater good!" she took aim and fired, a steady stream of smelly catnip shooting forth.
Ranma leaped high and over the stream. He landed in a dead run, carrying the surprised Kitty as he rushed to flee the feline horde of absolute destruction.
"YOU CAN'T ESCAPE!" the girl crowed, rushing after the boy.
"Aw, come on Jean." Duncan followed the girl outside, "We were just horsing around! Y'know I'm never serious about that kind of thing!"
Jean snorted, "It's one thing to defend yourself, but you went out of your way, again might I add, to beat some one up. And for what? Cool points?" she crossed her arms, nearly sneering, "Newsflash Duncan. That's not cool, it just makes you a creep!"
"I'm sorry, okay? I'll even apologize to the little scuz, I promise I won't do it..." Duncan paused, blinking as the Foreign kid jumped off the roof with a girl held protectively in his arms. With out missing a beat the pigtailed prick turned and began running, a look of stony determination etched onto his features.
"What the?" Jean blinked, eying Taryn as the girl jumped off the roof, clicking her heels in mid-flight. An intense blast of air shot from her feet, breaking her fall. The girl didn't miss a beat, chasing after the guy even as she fired spurts of liquid from the super-soaker she was carrying.
"Run all you want Ranma!" Taryn crowed, "I'll never stop! I'll never surrender!"
Jean looked up at the roof as a veritable horde of felines began jumping down, each and everyone chasing after her insane best friend. What the hell was going on?
Ranma ran up to them, leaping over them just as Tayrn let loose another spray from her weapon.
Duncan grimaced, taking a shot to the face. "Ugh! What the hell?" he wiped the liquid off, ignoring the Brown-haired psycho as she ran by. He couldn't quite ignore the horde of cats pouncing him.
Scott sighed, pushing his plate away. "Damn it."
"Something wrong?" Kurt blinked, looking up from his own food.
"Just can't stop worrying about Kitty. It's not like her to skip a class like that." The leader of the X-men grumbled. Truthfully several things were bothering him, from Jean's little talk this morning to Ranma's not so subtle accusation he wasn't being the best of friends to people. Try as he might he couldn't quite see how that accusation had any merit, hadn't he been looking out for his team and friends as best he could? Barring the incident with Jean yesterday of course. Wait, was that what Ranma was getting at?
"Is weird, no?" Kurt frowned, "Maybe we should call the Professor? He'd be able to find out where she is."
"Yeah." the boy nodded. He really didn't like the idea, always turning to the Professor whenever they ran into a snag was a habit he was trying to break. But given one of his team-mates could be in trouble, he was more then willing to do it. Standing up, Scott shoved his hands in his pockets. "I'm going to go do that now." he said, turning to walk away. "What the hell?" The boy blinked, catching sight of Ranma running for the doors leading from outside. The fact he had this dangerously determined look on his face gave Cyclops pause. He was also carrying Kitty, the girl looked absolutely dumbstruck if not the least bit scared.
Kurt leaned in his chair to see, "Huh?"
Ranma didn't even stop his run as he approached the door, jumping forward and twisting around he slammed into the glass with enough force to smash right through it. The action caught a lot of peoples attention, all staring as the boy cleared the destroyed door and ran through the cafeteria without missing a beat.
"What the hell?" Scott said again, staring dumbstruck as the boy began leaping over tables in complete disregard for Xavier's orders not to use their powers.
Taryn raced through the door, pulling two oval shaped balls free of her belt and launching them into the crowd of cafeteria students. The balls arced high were they suddenly shattered, splattering many of the teenagers with their liquid goodness but utterly missing Ranma, the boy leaping high into a sidewise flip that just barely cleared the arc of the girls grenades. "TAKE IT LIKE A MAN!" the girl screamed, jumping from table to table after the boy.
"What the hell?" Kurt said in shocked surprise as a freaking horde of cats, and a tiger, charged the breach. While the cats could be ignored, the sight of a real life tiger sent mass panic through the crowd of kids, many of whom began screaming as they cats began wading into the throng of students.
Peitro blanched, falling back and out of his chair as a freaking Tiger pounced onto the table.
Lance stared in stupefied wonder as the feline beast began stealing their lunch, scarfing the food down in it's powerful maw.
Fred frowned as the Tiger got to his food. "I don't think so."
The Tiger roared, gleaming teeth promising excruciating pain to the fat mutant if he refused to give up his food.
Blob roared back, "NO ONE STEALS MY BEEF!" He stared into the beasts eyes, ravenous animal against ravenous animal in a staring contest that could only have one victor. The tiger inevitably made a move for the food, but Fred was ready. One meaty slap across the face sent the Tiger reeling back, hissing and roaring at the boy. Fred returned the hissing with the meanest glare he could manage.
The tiger snarled twice more, before bowing it's head in submission.
"Now that's a good kitty cat." the fat mutant said, scratching the Tiger behind it's ear, utterly ignorant of the unbelieving stares the rest of the Brotherhood was giving him.
Evan grinned, "Yeah, you need to replace the wheels every now and then, y'know? Otherwise they get worn out and it takes too much work to really get going."
Doug nodded slowly. He wasn't really friends with Evan, but he was friends with Kitty so he endured the Skater for her sake if nothing else. "Huh, didn't know that, but I guess it makes sense. Just like a car, right?"
The Skater snorted, "Meh. A car can't do the same tricks I can with a board. Piss poor imitation of awesome, let me tell ya!"
Doug shrugged, "If you..." he tapered off, blinking as Kitty's new sort-of boyfriend slid into view, twisting and slamming into the lockers. He stared off at something outside Doug's line of sight, eyes widening before he suddenly jumped, kicking off the lockers just as a stream of water slammed into the area he had just been in.
Doug frowned as the boy ran off, carrying one of his best friends in his arms. "Okay, what the hell?"
Evan blinked, "I have no idea man."
Taryn slammed into Evan, knocking the Skater down as she forcibly ripped his skateboard away from him. "Confiscating this for the greater good!" she half explained, setting the board down and rapidly skating away.
Evan glared at the girl, "No one touches the board!" he snarled, pausing as the girl kicked up, jumping high enough to grind on the top of the lockers and bypass a large throng of students.
Doug whistled, "Wow. Never knew that girl could skate."
The Skater grimaced, standing up only to get knocked back down as the feline hoard rampaged over him and down the hall.
Rogue shrugged, "Don't matter to me none."
"Really?" Risty didn't look at all convinced.
The Southern Belle sighed. "It ain't like that, ahright?" Risty was seeing things when the girl really shouldn't, like this weird notion she supposedly had the hots for Ranma. Oh sure, he was nice enough and all, but that didn't mean she had fallen for him. Maybe asking for some training was a bad idea? She hadn't done it to 'impress' the guy, but rather as a means to get closer to her newest friend. That it would help her in Ranma's lessons was just a bonus. "Besides, ain't it obvious he's interested in some one else?"
"What, Kitty?" Risty snorted, "I don't think that's a relationship Ranma is even aware of."
"What the hell does that even mean?" Rogue stared at her friend, "How can he not know?" She thought Kitty was actually laying it on a bit thick, there was no way the guy could not know the girl was staking her claim.
"Just rumors my dad told me, alright?" The English goth sighed, glancing down the hall with a slight frown. "The guy isn't one for..." she paused as Ranma launched over a throng of students in the hall, flipping over and landing in a dead run. She noticed the girl in his arms, Kitty looked dazed, a sort of stunned amazement and confusion Risty had never seen on the girl before.
Rogue blinked as Taryn jumped on top of the lockers, grinding a skateboard down it's length as she fired several bursts of liquid from her super-soaker. She missed her target, nailing several students and even catching both of them in her wild firing. "You're just making this harder on everyone Ranma!" the slightly insane High-schooler snapped, "Stop running and go insane like everyone else!"
Risty grimaced, flicking her hand to dislodge some of the liquid she had been shot with. "What the hell?"
Rogue didn't get to respond as a hoard of cats mauled the throng of students, several going down in horrified screams as they were steam-rolled by the hoard of cute, fuzzy, sharp-clawed felines desperately following the chase. She felt her hackles rise as a large section of the hoard broke off and ran directly for the two of them. "Oh hell."
Risty blanched, "Run for it!" she screamed, turning and doing just that. She was a little to slow to escape as the biting, slashing claws of the feline variety swarmed her.
Rogue winced, feeling multiple stabs from the cats before they inevitable passed out and fell off her, forming a circle of drained felines around her. She glanced at the desperately struggling Risty, the English goth batting as many of the beasts away in her mad attempt to escape. The Southern Belle frowned, having the sudden urge to lick her legs bubble to the surface. She spent the next few seconds really wishing she could touch an animal and not have the sudden urge to lick people.
Principal Kelly frowned as the Security radio began blaring obscenities, frantic yells and shouts for help from the hardened people he had hired to secure the school doing much to disabuse him of just how hardened these men and women were. Really, a horde of cats? A tiger? It was ridiculous. Still, he had to go out there and find out who was causing all these problems and, God willing, expel their butts.
The man stepped out of his office, blinking at the sight of the new Foreign exchange student running by in a mad dash. Edwards made a mental note; that boy was getting detention. He stepped around the corner Saotome had just run from, blanching as a girl in a non-sanctioned school uniform barreled into him with enough force to knock both of them down in a tangle of limbs.
Edwards hit the ground with a groan as Taryn crashed on top of him. He only barely heard what sounded like shattering glass before he felt something wet hit his chest. He glanced down at the girl on top of him, frowning as she raised her head in horror. She apparently had some weird glass oval things attached to her belt, many of which were now broken and leaking a brownish liquid on the both of them. "Ms. Fujioka!" the older man snapped, but the girl did not listen.
She glanced back, her young body shivering at something she saw. "Ranma." she mewed pathetically, "This is all your fault!"
Edward was about to push the girl off him when the feline hoard descended on the both of them. As they were being mauled he managed to calculate just how many years of in-school-suspension Tayrn would be enduring for this bit of tomfoolery!
Ranma stared at the swell of emergency vehicles swarming the school, watched as so many of his peers blindly stumbled around trying to make sense of the insanity their world had become. He glanced back, eying his students thoughtfully. Scott had been mauled, several slashes across his face, while Kurt looked mostly right as rain. That might have something to do with the image inducer he wore, so chances are he was just as cut up as Scott was beneath the illusion. Evan looked like road-kill, he just knew the kid would be steaming mad and looking for a target for this injustice. Jean looked alright, if a bit wide-eyed at the sheer insanity she had witnessed. Rogue... well the girl was licking her hand before running it through her hair, so he guessed she was okay too.
"Anyway." the boy grinned, "Good lesson. I'll see you guys at home."
Kitty stared at him blankly. "Like, what?"
Jean stared at him too, "Lesson? What kind of lesson is this?"
"That cats are evil, evil creatures!" The pigtail boy explained, as if that was enough. "If there's nothing else you learn from me, learn this fact. Cats are the spawn of Hell, end of discussion." he finished and walked away.
The red-head stared at him for a moment, frowning ever so slightly. "Cats are evil, evil creatures? Where have I heard that..." she blanched, looking back towards the school as Taryn was being dragged out on a stretcher. What the hell? Was that girl a prophet? Wait, what else did she say that time?
"Oh sure, be flippant now." The Nerima escapee snorted, "But mark my words, you're going to wake up one day and realize your enemies are your friends, cats are evil, evil creatures, and even the weakest of losers are suddenly super powered bad asses out to make your life hell!"
Jean just sighed. Okay, so she called some of that. She still didn't see how she'd ever be friends with the likes of the Brotherhood.
Storm blearily woke up, wincing as light stung her suddenly sensitive eyes. There was a dull throbbing in the back of her head, combined with an soft itch capering across the entire length of her body. She could ignore it still, but didn't know how much longer before she reverted to her obsessive compulsive persona. "Ugh, my head." she moaned tiredly.
She heard heavy foot falls, accompanied by the slight screech of the metal rings scraping against the bar as Hank pushed her privacy curtains back. "Awake?" he frowned, eying a clock. "Four hours, you shouldn't be awake for at least another two with the sleep pills I gave you."
"I'd like nothing better then to go back to sleep." The Nubian sighed tiredly, "But the feelings are getting worse."
The blue-ape nodded thoughtfully, "I see. Regression doesn't occur because of sleep, then."
"No, no it doesn't." Storm grimaced, "If anything it's gotten worse."
Hank sighed, "This just proves your mutation is at fault." he frowned then, checking his charts. "I'm hesitant to suggest this..."
Storm frowned as the man tapered off. She didn't know what he was about to suggest, but if it would give her some relief she was damn well willing to try it! "What is it, Hank?"
"Well," he sighed, "until we can more accurately diagnose the issue the only tried and true method of release is Ranma."
The door to the lab opened, several of the children staggering in looking like they had gotten into a fight with a lawnmower and lost. Hank blinked, ignoring Storm as he moved to the children. "What happened?"
"Catocalypse." Scott grimaced, taking a seat. "I don't understand it, but a horde of cats attacked the school."
"Even a Tiger!" Kurt threw in, dropping his image inducer and proving he was just as banged up as Scott, several scratches and blood stains marring his otherwise perfect blue pelt.
Storm frowned at the sight of Evan, rising from her bed as she approached him. "Evan?"
The Skater grimaced, "Yeah, cats got me too." he looked at his Aunt curiously, "And, uh, are you feeling better?"
The Nubian woman half-smiled, "Better then yesterday, yes. Come nephew, lay down, I'm sure Hank can give you something if you're feeling any pain."
Hank eyed the woman, "I can." he said, pushing her towards the door, "But for now, shoo. Find Ranma and let him relieve your itch if you can't resist it anymore."
The three boys blinked at that, not finding the choice of words particularly good.
Storm nodded slowly, "If you're sure it's the only way?" she looked to him for confirmation, the blue-ape just shrugged. "Fine, I'll find him and get my hands on him." she finished as she nearly strutted out the door.
"Aunty?" Evan really, really didn't like the way she said that.
Ranma whistled merrily to himself, opening the refrigerator and taking a peek inside.
Kitty frowned. She had waited for the others to leave, Rogue and Jean heading upstairs while the boys went to see Hank after their encounter with the Horde of felines. Alone at last, she would finally get to investigate everything she had witnessed that day. Stepping up to him, she pulled on his sleeve, "Ranma, like, we need to talk."
Ranma glanced at her curiously, "Hmm?"
"What happened back there?" She pouted adorably, "Like, you were totally scared even if you weren't showing it!"
"I, er, wasn't scared of nothing!" The boy defended himself stonily.
Kitty snorted cutely, "Ranma, I felt you shivering the entire escape! The moment you laid eyes on those cats it was like the boy I knew and liked was gone!" she frowned, "Sure, you like didn't show it, but, like, I could tell. You were scared. Why?"
"Eh." Ranma sighed, closing the door to the refrigerator as he stared at the girl.
Kitty upped her pout, adding a quivering lip for good measure.
"Bah!" The pigtailed boy sighed. "Promise not to tell anyone?"
"Like, cross my heart and hope to die!" Kitty chirruped seriously.
"It's called the Neko-ken alright?" he grimaced, "My pops tried to teach me this ultimate technique, but the training for it was pretty much starving a bunch of cats and then tossing me in dressed in food." he shuddered despite himself, "Cats clawing, biting, and tearing me up to get the food is the point of it all."
Kitty felt a little off-balanced by that. She had been expecting him to admit to ailurophobia, not go into an explanation concerning a torture session from his past.
"Eventually." He continued, eyes a bit unfocused, "You break in the head, that's when you learn the Neko-ken. Gives you the strengths of the cat, Ki-claws, sharpened senses and what not." he shrugged tiredly, "Only thing is you can't use it unless you go crazy. If those cats had gotten a hold of me and if I couldn't get away in time, well, then I'd snap again and go Neko-ken."
"Like, ouch." Kitty almost wished she hadn't pressed the issue. That didn't sound fun at all, and frankly she was surprised the boys father, heck any father, would subject their children to something like that. "Sorry."
"Ah, don't worry about it." Ranma shrugged, "It isn't your fault."
"But I could have gotten away!" Kitty pointed out tiredly, "You know my power, I could have used it and escaped and not put anyone through what happened today." she sniffled a little, "Stupid Kitty." she bonked herself on the head.
Ranma frowned, gently putting his hands on the her shoulders. "It's not your fault." he said firmly, "You were only doing what Xavier asked you to do by not using your powers. And seriously, sooner or later I imagine Taryn would have caught some one who couldn't escape, so it's a good thing she got hold of you first."
"Like, how is that a good thing?" Kitty grimaced, not liking the way he said that.
"Because it was you." He said with a small smile, "You're my best friend Kitty, I'd never leave you behind." he finished sincerely.
Kitty blushed, pressing her fingers together cutely. "Ah, gee, like, thanks."
Ranma grinned, patting her shoulders before turning back to the refrigerator.
She frowned internally as he poured himself a drink. The mild silence after his admission and her thanks reminding her of something important, and it was something she very much dreaded hearing the answer too, but knew she had to ask anyway. "Like, Taryn said something I'm curious about."
"Oh?" Ranma finished pouring himself a glass of milk, putting the jug back in the fridge.
"Like, is it true you're engaged?" Kitty unknowing crossed her fingers as she asked, hoping against hope it wasn't true.
"Eh?" the boy blinked, then shrugged, "Yeah."
"Really?" she sighed tiredly, leaning against the counter dejectedly, "S'not fair."
Ranma frowned. The girl looked so depressed the moment he had admitted to having dumb fiancees! It irked him to see her like that, especially over girls who annoyed him at the best of times. "Kitty." he began, seriously. "I don't want to marry any of them. They may want to marry me and all that crap, but in the end it takes two people to say 'I do' right?" He wasn't even lying. Sure, he may have thought marrying Ukyo or... Akane wouldn't have been so bad, but that didn't mean he wanted to marry them right now or anything. Shampoo was cute too, if he was being honest with himself. He just didn't think he could come to grips with living in a backwater village, or a restaurant, or even at the Tendo Dojo for the rest of his life.
Kitty frowned, confusion marring her cute features, "But, like, you're engaged! Like, you don't become engaged unless you ask to marry them, right?"
"Eh." he shrugged, "Maybe for normal people, yeah, but this is all my dumb pops fault." he frowned, "I've never asked anyone to marry me, stupid panda made these arrangements before I was even born." he snorted, "Not like I'm going to cover for his screw ups if I can help it."
The California girl was trying to wrap her head around that. Honestly it sounded bizarre even to her, but it chimed with the sound of hope to her. "So, like, you don't want to marry them?"
"No." Ranma shrugged, "End of it all I don't think we'd make a good couple, y'know? You have to like the person you marry, and I just don't like them like that."
"So, like, do you like me like that?" She crossed her fingers again, utterly ignorant of the fact he could see her doing it.
"Heh." Ranma stalled for time, slowly drinking his milk as he thought about what to say. In the end he decided to stick with the truth. "I said you were my best friend, didn't I?"
Kitty hmmed thoughtfully at that. "So, like, would you be my boyfriend?"
"Uh." He tried to digest that, thinking of the implications of being the girls boyfriend. He really couldn't see a reason to say no, well aside from the Fiancees but they weren't there and he didn't think he'd care even if they were. Kitty was doing something none of the other girls had tried before, and it touched him in a way he didn't think possible. She was asking. No threats, no demands, and it wasn't being forced on her like it had been with Akane, she was simply asking him. He smiled in the end, "Long as you don't mind the whole curse thing I'd, well, I'd like that." he suddenly staggered back as the peppy girl hugged him tightly, enduring her excited squeals with good grace.
Logan glanced over the maps with a frown, "I dunno Chuck, do you think you can get permission to go that deep into rural China?"
Xavier, sitting in front of Cerebro with his amplification helmet resting on his bald head, softly spoke back. "Already have it. I'm currently arranging refueling way-points for the trip there and back."
The feral-like man grunted. He had to admit, being a telepath with a toy that could amplify your mind across the entire world was damn useful. "So we're just gonna go there, see what we can find, maybe grab some of that cursed water crap and let Hank examine it?"
"Essentially." Xavier shrugged, "The key to curing Ranma, and by extension stop what is affecting Storm lies there. I for one do not cherish the possibility of another Cinnamon roll spree like the one I endured yesterday."
"Or Lemonade." Logan snarled.
"Excuse me?" Both men froze, slowly, ever so slowly turning to face the Nubian woman standing just inside the doorway. She had this wicked look about her, and while neither man could see a tray of lemonade or a pan of cinnamon rolls, neither would be surprised if she conjured them from thin air.
"Storm!" Logan immediately groveled, repositioning himself beside Xavier, trying his damnedest to put the crippled man between him and the woman.
"Coward!" Xavier snapped, glancing at the woman. "Ah, Storm. Didn't see you there."
The woman smiled, shutting the door as she moved towards them. "It's okay. I was actually looking for Ranma, but since my two favorite... people are here, I thought I'd stop and see how they were doing."
Xavier sweated. "Ah, yes, doing fine! Nothing wrong with me!"
"Right." Logan echoed in tandem, "Nothing here but us bunnies."
Storm blinked. "What?"
"Eer, ah," The feral-like man grimaced, quickly pushing Xavier's chair over before lunging to the left. "better you than me Chuck ole buddy!"
The Nubian woman blinked as Xavier fell to the ground, crying indignantly at the treatment. Logan rushing from the room made her feel strangely irritated, but she ignored the feeling as she moved to help the Professor up. "Charles!" She breathed, "Are you okay?"
Xavier winced, realizing he was once again left alone with the woman. "Ah, yes, I'm perfectly fine." he said as the woman got him situated. "But enough about me. How are you?"
Storm stared at the man for a moment, frowning ever so slightly at his nervous look. "I'm not completely crazy just yet, if that's what you're asking."
"That is what I was asking." Xavier affirmed bluntly, "And when you say you aren't completely crazy, does that mean you soon will be?"
Ororo sighed, shaking her head. Really she supposed she shouldn't be surprised at how both men were acting, it just irked her to think the two people she had grown closest two over the years were so darn afraid of her. "Not if I can find Ranma, no."
"Ah." Xavier nodded, "I take it this means sleep isn't a regression factor?"
"Hank said as much." Storm shrugged. "As long as I can keep in physical contact with Ranma I should be able to hold the worst of the effects back until we can find a cure."
Xavier nodded, wheeling around to face Cerebro. "We are making plans to discover the cure, rest assured of that." he clicked a few buttons, nodding. "I believe Ranma is in the gymnasium practicing." he turned back to Storm, finding her eyes glued to the camera showing the boy performing acrobatic flips. "Storm?"
Ororo blinked, looking at the man and smiling saucily, "Hmm? Yes Professor?" her tone was starting to tread the realm of husky.
The Professor frowned. That was interesting, he could literally detect through social cues just how quick the woman was losing the battle. If it kept up at this rate he wouldn't be surprised if she snapped and tried to make him her bitch again! That was simply something he could not allow. "I order you! Run Storm, run to Ranma and get your hands on his flesh!"
"Sir, yes sir!" the woman lazily saluted as she sauntered out the room.
Xavier grinned after she had left, looking at the screen seriously. "Better you then me, Ranma. Thanks friend."
Jean smiled as she left the changing room. Kitty was practically gushing her success in snaring a boyfriend, Ranma no less, that she couldn't help but feel absolutely happy for the girl. Even Rogue couldn't stop smiling as the girl gushed, which the red-head was extremely thankful for. Given he was the only one she knew she could touch she had half expected the girl to get angry, and while their was a twinge of jealousy it was far less then what she expected.
Ranma was there, ignoring his surroundings as he performed acrobatic displays of agility and strength. He'd occasional kick out, or punch some invisible target as he moved, maybe some kind of Shadowboxing? "Hey Ranma." she said, stopping a handful of paces away from her instructor.
The pigtailed boy landed with a flourish, rolling his head and popping his neck. "Hey."
"Congratulations." Jean grinned brightly, "Kitty's telling us all about a certain boyfriend she just got."
"Aw." he blushed, cutely scratching the back of his neck. "Thanks."
Jean didn't respond immediately, instead going about her stretches. "Maybe we can do a double date?"
Ranma blinked. "What?"
"You know, me and Duncan and you and Kitty?" she explained, missing the sudden relieved look on the boy. "See a movie? Maybe some dinner? Have a good time."
Ranma nodded slowly, "Eh, I didn't know you were dating that guy."
"Hmm?" Jean glanced at the boy, "We've been boyfriend and girlfriend for over a year now."
"Really?" the boy blinked, "Eh, wow. I, well, never thought the guy was your type."
Jean sighed, mumbling to herself. "Not sure he is my type." she glanced at him again, "He's sorry for bullying Toad, by the way."
"Oh?" the pigtailed boy shrugged, "That's good." he said as the others started coming out of the changing rooms. Jean continued her stretching, effectively ending their conversation as the others joined and started their own stretches. Ranma waited until they were finished before barking, "Alright, give me a line!"
No fuss this time, which he was grateful for. As much as he understood the need to lay down the law, that didn't mean he enjoyed physically beating them down just so they would listen. "Today we're going to review the stances I showed you Wednesday, see if you managed to remember them and..." he glanced back as the doors to the Gym opened, frowning as Storm strolled in with a confidant gait, "... correct your forms if you..." she was heading right for him. He couldn't help but feel unnerved by her expressive blue eyes staring into his own grey-blue. "... uh, forgot, uh."
Storm stepped up to him, grinning slightly. The kids were stone faced, but you didn't need to be a martial artist to see just how nervous they were at the Nubian woman's presence. "Hello, Ranma." her tone was entirely inappropriate, a mix of lusty and husky that set him on edge.
"Ah, Storm." he gulped nervously, "How, uh, how are you, uh." he tapered off as the woman wrapped her arms around his neck, stepping up and laying her head gently against his cheek. He could feel slight shudders through her body, but nothing nearly as overpowering as the day before.
Evan blinked, "What the?"
Jean turned her head, blushing pink. She didn't care if she wasn't using her powers, she had already tasted exactly what Storm felt when Ranma touched her.
Scott coughed loudly, trying to catch the two instructors attention.
"Hey!" Kitty pouted.
Ranma chuckled nervously, "Uh, Storm, uh."
Ororo took in deep relaxing breaths, pulling back one arm and sliding a hand down his chest until she grabbed one of his hands. Grip firm, she pulled back, smiling serenely. "Much better." her tone was neutral again, her blue eyes focused as she glanced towards the line of students. "Forgive me for interrupting, I needed some..." she drifted off for a moment, trying to think of a way to explain it, "... medication."
Evan frowned, dangerously. "Okay, what? And get your hands off my aunt!" he snapped, glaring at the boy.
Ranma rolled his eyes, "Whatever." he glanced at the other kids, "Okay, quick explanation. Storm's been crazy, and it's all my fault, okay? My curse supposedly attracts water, causing weather patterns to shift and the like, but she's been subconsciously negating it's effects. Now, looks like my aura is attacking her, probably trying to get rid of whatever is stopping it. Any questions?" he asked.
Everyone but Jean and Storm raised their hands.
"To damn bad." Ranma snapped, glancing to Jean. "Jean, twenty laps around the Gym. You lead em."
The red-head nodded, turning and starting the run. The others followed quick enough, with Evan lingering behind to stare for a bit.
Ranma waited until they were gone before glancing at the older woman. "So, uh, I'm medication?"
Storm shrugged, "Sleep doesn't reverse the effects, apparently only by negating my mutation am I able to recover."
"Ah." the boy sighed, "I'm sorry."
"It's not your fault." she said softly, "You didn't know this would happen."
"Just the same." Ranma shrugged, "I mean, you went through hell for what, two days? And now we gotta keep touching or you'll go nuts again."
"True." she allowed, "But as long as you keep what happened when you touched me, both the first time and this time, a secret you'll find I'm quick to forgive."
Ranma blinked, looking at her seriously, "Keep what a secret now?"
Storm just looked at him.
"What?" he nervously asked.
"You have no idea what I'm talking about, do you?" She moved to clarify.
Ranma frowned thoughtfully. She had given him some clues, something that happened both this time and last time, but the only thing even remotely similar were the body spasms. What the devil would body spasms have... wait a minute. "You're saying you, uh..." he blushed, "... and it happened when I touched you?"
Storm snorted, "Get your head out of the gutter, young man. You do not have 'the touch'."
"Wow." the boy shook his head, "Just wow."
Note on Kitty/Ranma shippers: They are boyfriend and girlfriend, I will not say this is a final match up or any such rubbish. Until you see me outright state, or list it on my character listing or whatever, do not assume this is the end all be all. While the whole relationship dynamic is nice and fun, I'm starting to diverge into more pertinant plot points in order to advance the story and such. Things can happen, things can break them apart. I'm not saying it isn't the final pairing, I'm just saying you shouldn't except it since they are seeing each other at this point in time.
Note on Storm: Yeah, I'm going to be bulldozing through this sub-plot within the next few chapters. Things will happen, people will go to Jusenkyo, and as things generally go some one may even be cursed! You'll just have to wait and see. I do plan to screw around with this bit while it lasts.
Note on Taryn: She sees herself as the only true line of defense for Bayville. If I had to describe her I'd say she was similar to Batman, with many useful gadgets that lets her do things most people couldn't do (Like the gushing wind from her shoes when she jumped off the roof). She is not a mutant, or has not revealed any such power.
Note on the Fiancees: This is a matter of opinion, shippers for the various fiancee's may as well stop reading. There are future plot points that make them completely and truly unavailable, and to break away from the cliche I'll come right out and say it's not even their fault what happens.
Anyway, unrevised/unedited. C&C and all that jazz.