"A Hell of a Life"
Shaule Sachs

= - = Part 8 = - =

= - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
Version 0.2
#include ahoal/author_notes.h
#include mega_crossover/std_disclaimer.h
#include alternate_universe/std_disclaimer.h
#include ranma/std_disclaimer.h
#include dr_strange/std_disclaimer.h
#include ah_megamisama/std_disclaimer.h

Akane Tendo awoke up feeling very disoriented. It actually took a few moments for her to realize that she was sleeping in the Tendo's guest room. It took even longer for her to realize why...

The reason, she was not in her 'proper Universe,' and she felt it. What 'it' was, exactly, she could not tell anyone, least of all herself, but it was there. Added to her sense of wrongness was the fact that in her native Universe, the Tendo's guest room had been completely neglected ever since her Mother's death. When the Saotome had shown up, Kasumi seemly threw what little was left there out, and the Saotome had used the room for their own since. But in this Universe, the guest room was fully furnished, with a king-size bed, dresser, and bureau with a full-size mirror. The room itself was larger then what she recalled of her Father's room.

The feeling of wrongness, for the lack of a better term, had been with her since she entered this Universe with Ranma. Her counterpart had been killed in saving a young blonde girl with dumpling hairstyle from being run-over by a car. She and her counterpart had been trained in the martial arts to take in her surroundings, in order to be alert and ready at any given time. This training also allowed her and her counterpart to act instinctively when spotting danger. So when her counterpart had saw that young blonde girl in danger, she had acted, leaving behind her confused, untrained Oneesan, and saved the girl. She had put herself in harm's way and paid the price.

When Nabiki finally caught on what was happening, she reached them only in time to see her sister in the young blonde girl's arms. She heard the young blonde girl asked why did Akane sacrificed herself for a stranger like that. The answer, which both haunted and shaped the lives of Usagi Tsukino and Nabiki Tendo to this very day: 'There was no one else who could.'

Those seven little words had different effects on the two girls who heard them. For Usagi, who went on to become Sailor Moon and later Neo-Queen Serenity, those seven little words spoken by her savior became her talisman when times got Dark with a capital 'D.' But as for Nabiki, they were an accusation. Had she continued to train like Akane or Kasumi did, she felt she could have helped too or, at the very least, saved Akane from her Fate as she saved the young girl. Four years later, a very driven Nabiki was the Tendo Kendo School's Heir and reigning Kendo Champion of Greater Tokyo Area.

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

However, all Akane knew was that her counterpart was dead, she and Ranma were 'guests' in the Tendo household, and it was morning. She didn't remember falling asleep last night but she must have, right?

Akane walked downstairs to the kitchen, more out of habit than any other reason. There she found her Mother - she corrected herself, her counterpart's Mother. Another reminder that she was not in her proper place. Even though she knew that the person wasn't her actual mother, she stopped and stared for a moment. She also stopped to try to figure out what she was doing. Kimiko concentrating in front of the dining room table with her arms outstretched, palms up, with her eyes closed. A ball of fire rested in her right palm, while a ball of water was in her left. Both balls just floated there, seemingly doing nothing.

Taking her eyes away from her counterpart's mother, Akane noticed several even smaller balls of water and fire on the table moving in various patterns. Then all of sudden, Kimiko turned her palms over and all the balls on the table disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Kimiko saw Akane's astonished look and inquired, "Yes, Akane-chan?"

Akane blinked, then shook her head, and she asked, "What did you just do?"

Kimiko's eyes blinked in confusion as she answered, "You've seen me cleaning the table -"

Kimiko stopped abruptly, sighed, and then continued, "Sorry. I forgot for a moment... I was cleaning the table off after breakfast with magic... Surely, my counterpart isn't that different than me..."

A tear formed in Akane's right eye as she said, "My mother died of cancer when I was only five - so I don't know..."

"I'm sorry, Akane-chan," Kimiko replied. She hugged Akane as she started to cry. She let Akane cry for a little bit and then said, "Tell you what, I'll show you a few minor spells... I can feel that you have the Gift inside you."

"I'd like that," Akane replied happily.

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

In the Tendo Dojo, Ranma and Nabiki were practicing kendo. Nabiki had a stylish katana with an alternating blue and white striped handle. The Kanji for 'Tendo' could be clearly seen on the blade. In contrast, Ranma's katana was simple without any marking or patterns on it. The only thing of note was the fact that the blade looked brand-new while the handle looked worn and highly used.

Even to an untrained eye, it was clear that Ranma was a Master of the Art, while in comparison, Nabiki was still but a student. And a willing student she was, for she was learning more from Ranma in the span of an hour, then she had learned the entire five years she had studied under her Father and his Art.

They had been sparring and discussing the Art of the Sword since a little before daybreak. They had discussed the purpose of the Art its history, and techniques they had known. The discussion included him demonstrating some special techniques using a sword to her, either to emphasis a point he was trying to make or an attempt to improve her Art. Both were enjoying the company of the other.

They had been debating the use of mysticism and magic in the Arts of Kenjitsu and Kendo, for the last hour or so. Nabiki was debated against, while Ranma was debating for. The debate lead to a simple sparring match, with her on the offensive. She had noted an opening and quickly struck. She had, based on his skill level, expected him to block, thus she was very surprised as she saw her sword went through his body. For a moment, she thought she saw him become ghostly blue as her katana passed through him. Without the expected resistance, she became unbalanced, and he placed his sword's edge against her throat, asking if she yield.

Nabiki nodded her head, unafraid that Ranma would hurt her.

Ranma took a sheath from seemly behind his back, placed his sword within it, and then seemly returned both to whatever place he had originally gotten it from.

Nabiki's eyes widened in surprise as she saw her katana floating in the air to rest back in her hand. She couldn't help stating the obvious, "Magic..."

Ranma just nodded.

"Are you a mage?" Nabiki asked using the neutral term for a trained magic-user. Mages tend to be angry if you did not call them by what they were. She was not surprised that Ranma had some magical training. She, herself, knew a few spells, in addition to kendo. After all, her mother was the Sorceress Supreme, the most powerful mage on the planet, and it's main magical defender. She had never thought to combine the two Arts. For so long, she had been torn by her Mother's mystical World of Magic and her Father's physical World of the Sword. But in the span of their discussion and his little demonstration just now, he had opened her eyes to the benefit of combining to the two Worlds.

Ranma suggested that since her mother was just cleaning off the dining room table, they could go approach her to see about giving her some more lessons.

Nabiki asked how he knew what her mother was currently doing, to which he replied as if it was obvious that he could feel her cleaning spells. She was slightly amazed at that, since she knew that her mother used very little magic to clean off the table after each meal, but for him to be able to detect that... To the best of her knowledge, Kasumi, her mother's Heir, was among the best at detecting any magical energy, even possibly better then their Mother was, but even she couldn't detect their mother's cleaning magic despite their mother performing said magic right in front of her.

Looking into the house, Ranma sighed and said, "I guess it's time for me and Akane to go back..."

Ranma saw Nabiki opening her mouth to say something so he motioned her to be silent. From the same mystical place the sheath and sword went, he pulled out a large pouch and placed on his right side with the strap going over his left shoulder. He pulled a book out of the pouch and handed it to Nabiki.

When Nabiki took the book, a tingle went through her hands signaling that the book contained magic. Her right eye brow went up in question.

"The book is enchanted to only allow those I wish to read it," Ranma stated to her unasked question. "Its a compilation of a series of scrolls, book-form for easy of transport, to guide one in learning Unari Yoki Tora Yaiba Ryuu[1]. Which is a style that combines Kenjitsu, magic, and kempo together into a single form. I believe you can learn from this book... to help you..."

Nabiki was at a lost for words so she simply kissed him on his cheek for thanks.

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

As Ranma walked towards the dining room, he absently rubbed the spot were Nabiki had kissed him. He stopped as he saw Akane sitting in Kimiko's lap as Kimiko sat on the floor with her arms around her daughter. Both Tendos' eyes were closed in concentration. He couldn't help smiling at the sight.

After a while, Ranma's smile turned to a frown as he realized that they had been at it for a while now... yet he couldn't detect anything different. So he sent a magical probe towards Akane to check on her when Kimiko's eyes flew open and looked at Ranma with a sour face.

"Don't you know that's rude," Kimiko began. To which, Ranma smiled in apology and replied, "Sorry..."

Kimiko hmphed and motioned for Akane to let her up.

Out of curiosity, Ranma asked, "So what were you trying to show her? A fireball spell? Lightning attack spell? Earthquake spell?"

Kimiko just shook her head and replied, "No... We started off with a simple spell to make a ball of light... but she doesn't even know the basics, so we were trying to just focus her magic..."

A sob escaped from Akane as she said, "But I can't even do that..."

Ranma pulled Akane up, hugged her to comfort her, and then suggested, "Lets try together."

Kimiko sat back down, Ranma sat down facing Kimiko, and Akane sat between them. Kimiko then said, "First, I'll link with Ranma... Then, we'll link with you to help you..."

Both Akane and Ranma nodded at that and Akane closed her eyes. Thus, she didn't see Kimiko's eyes grow wide in surprise and fear as she linked with Ranma. The surprise was her realization that his powers vastly outstripped her own, which was greatly amazing since Kimiko was by definition most powerful sorceress on the planet. Yet, here was Ranma with more raw power than she had ever saw... Her fear was caused by the fact that she knew that he was holding back most of his powers from her. That he was showing as much as he was, that he thought it would not be noticed as unusually... That was a cause for concern.

Ranma smiled until he saw Kimiko's reaction. At which point, he simply shrugged and, through the link, motioned towards Akane. Kimiko calmed herself and then proceeded to add Akane to the link. Once they linked with Akane, both realized why Akane was having problems... Both could only stare at her in a mixture of horror and sorrow.

"Akane-chan," Kimiko began softly.

Akane looked up at her mother with some hesitation.

"The reason why you couldn't cast a spell is... simple," Kimiko continued.

"Huh?" Akane asked confused and slightly scared.

"You're burnt out," Kimiko explained.

"Burnt out?" Akane repeated confused.

"It means," Ranma said gently. "That your magical gift is there... inside you... but you used too much, too quickly in too short a time period..."

"Can you fix it?" Akane wondered. She didn't fully understand what was going on, but she really, really wanted to perform magic with her mother...

"It's not something that can be fixed," Ranma stated in quietly.

"But..." Akane began.

"There's no buts, Akane-chan," Kimiko replied softly. "I'm sorry..."

"Well, that explains why your statuette didn't come to life last night," Ranma mused out loud.

"Nani?" both Akane and Kimiko inquired.

Looking sheepishly, Ranma explained, "I gave Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane, each a Firteburian statuette... They should have come to life to serve as their owners' familiars..."

"But mine didn't," Akane replied.

Ranma simply nodded.

"Because your gift is burnt out," Kimiko said. As an afterthought, she asked, "What about..."

"Neither Nabiki or Kasumi said anything when I asked if anything 'unusual' happened last night," Ranma replied with a shrug.

"And a statuette coming to life would be unusual," Akane laughed. "Even for us..."

At Kimiko's raised eye brow, Akane went into a brief history of her live and the craziness that surrounded her and Ranma.

After the 'explanation,' Kimiko just smiled and said, "I'm sorry I couldn't help you with magic... At least, let me send you off with some food for your trip..."

"Arigato," both Akane and Ranma said.

Kimiko got up, went to the kitchen, and returned with a basket. She handed it to Ranma, who placed the basket into the pouch on his side. Akane watched in amazement as the larger basket went into the smaller pouch opening.

Once set, Kimiko asked in curiosity, "What preparations do you require, Ranma, for making a portal?"

He wanted to say 'none,' but he didn't wish to alienate Kimiko even farther, so he said, "A protected area... with a doorway."

Kimiko nodded her head and said, "There's a blessed torii in the back you could use..."

"Perfect," Ranma stated as Kimiko leaded them out the back.

Akane and Ranma stared as they saw the backyard of the Tendo place. It was easily twice the size of the backyard that Akane had grown up in. Towards the end of the yard, was a medium size, torii, a prayer gate. Ranma went up to the torii, placed his hand on it, and nodded. He walked in front of it and sat down. A blue glow covered his body and he rose slightly into the air.

Kimiko could feel the power Ranma was gathering and she took a step back. Both she and Akane watched in amazement as a fog settled over the torii. The fog quickly obscured the gate. After a few moments, the fog lifted... and the torii had two closed doors. Ranma stood and motioned for the doors to open, which they did. The two doors leaded into a smoke filled area.

Ranma reached for Akane's hand, which she gave without hesitation despite her fears, and the two walked through. Once through, the doors closed and then disappeared.

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

It was a temple yard, like many others. There was the main building and a small shrine to the yard, open space with an occasional tree to give shade, and a garden to both beautify and add a pleasant smell to the area. Everything was in its place, and there was a place for everything.

Thus the sudden appearance of two vertical wooden beams appearing out of nowhere, followed by a third wooden beam that was horizontal, resting on the two support beams with its ends sticking slightly out was very startling. Until a fog settled in and blended everything together as if the torii had always been there.

To most, the addition of the torii would have gone unnoticed. It was a temple yard, after all. There were already similar torii present. But this wasn't your everyday temple. This temple had four people within it. Three goddesses and a man worth of a goddess's love. And those three goddesses are pissed at being disturbed at dinner time. Especially when dessert was 'Death by Chocolate' cake.

The three goddesses each stood ready with their favored offensive spell: Urd, a thunderbolt; Belldandy, a hurricane-force wind; and Skuld, a Skuld-bomb. Keiichi, the only mortal present, was wisely in the back of the Temple in the bomb-shelter that Belldandy had created for him for the occasionally demonic invasions that seemed to happened semi-regularly. That the usual demonic invasions currently consisted of succubus, merely urged Belldandy's haste in its construction. The only worse than a gang of horny succubi, were drunk, horny succubi, and they, for some reasons the Norns haven't figured out yet, seem seem to converge on poor Keiichi.

Thus the three Norns were more than slightly surprised with the figure walking out of the dimensional fog was vary obviously male. So surprised, and a little worked up, Urd accidentally released her thunderbolt prematurely, zapping herself and the guy, who took the brunt of the thunderbolt as if it was nothing. Which caused Belldandy to worry, since while Urd was a second-class goddess, Urd had the power of a first-class goddess just without the 'expected' control... Belldandy's worry caused her to release her wind spell, at slightly less-than hurricane force, displacing some of the fog revealing the guy to the Norns. Skuld seeing who it was, dropped her lit bomb, and ran towards the guy screaming, "Oniichan!"

Skuld, of course, in dropping the bomb forgot: one, that it was lit, two, that this bomb had a very short fuse, and three, that a lit bomb goes off...

End result: a flying Skuld, a wind-blown Belldandy, and a half-scorched Urd.

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

Ranma could only smile. He didn't understand how or why these things happened, but after a few dozen such occasions he just took them in stride.

Still smiling, he easily caught the airborne Skuld and said, "Hi, Skuld-chan. Having fun?"

"Raijin-kun," Urd began with a slightly irritated voice. "Why didn't you tell us you were coming over?"

Ranma just shrugged and said, "I hadn't planned on it..."

"What?" a now slightly upset Belldandy responded.

"Until I finished some personal business," Ranma finished without missing a beat. "Right now, I'm just passing through."

"Oh," three disappointed Norns sighed.

After giving a group hug, Ranma waved his hand in a motion that restored the temple grounds, and then went back into the torii. From the torii, Ranma brought a very tired Akane out. They were holding hands in such a way that Urd knew the two travelers were close, while Skuld thought Akane would be falling on her face if Raijin wasn't holding her up. He stopped in front of the Norns and motioned to each while saying, "Akane, the one with the white hair is Urd, the one with the brown hair is Urd's sister, Belldandy, and the kid over there is Urd and Belldandy's youngest sister, Skuld.

"Urd, Belldandy, and Skuld, this is Akane Tendo."

Only Urd's face showed any reaction to Akane's name while Belldandy, ever the host, addressed Akane with, "Welcome, Tendo-san. Any friend of Raijin-san's, is a friend of -"

"Ours," Urd cut in. She saw the look Raijin was giving Belldandy when he realized she was going to identify themselves as 'the Norns.' She didn't understand, but she know better than get Raijin mad at her and her sisters. Her love life still suffered from the pranks that Raijin had pulled on her the last time he was upset with her. She also saw some confusion cross Tendo-san's face when they had addressed Raijin as 'Raijin.' Urd just shrugged and wondered if maybe Tendo-san had only known Raijin as 'Raiden.' It wasn't her concern.

Looking around, Ranma asked, "Where's Keiichi?"

"Oh my!" Belldandy said as she ran into the Temple.

Ranma looked towards Urd for an explanation which was, "Succubi have been popping out of the wood works looking for Keiichi... So Bell-chan has him protected... We thought you were some more succubi..."

Ranma just looked at Urd wondering if she was serious or not, while Akane was growing more and more confused. Urd just shrugged to say she didn't understand it either.

Skuld, now that there wasn't going to be a battle, was looking none too pleased. First off, Tendo-san was obviously a mortal with Raijin-oniichan, strike one against Tendo-san. Secondly, Raijin-oniichan and Tendo-san's arrival had interrupted Skuld's enjoyment of 'Death by Chocolate' cake that Belldandy had spent all day making, strike two against Tendo-san. Thirdly, Raijin-oniichan was talking with Urd and, more importantly, ignoring her, foul-ball against Tendo-san. Fourthly, Tendo-san was clinging too closely to Raijin-oniichan then should be allowed, while Raijin-oniichan kept himself between herself and Tendo-san, pop fly... And finally, Belldandy-oneechan was within the Temple ALONE with Keiichi... Game called on account of weather. As Skuld raced into the Temple, Akane Tendo would never know how close she had come to Death's Doors that day and if Ranma had any say in the matter, which he did, she would never know.

Both Raijin and Urd paused a moment to follow Skuld's mad dash into the Temple. They listened for a moment, heard an small explosion, nodded their headed, and sighed, "When will she grow up?"

Urd giggled and then asked, "So, Raijin-oniichan, how long will you be staying?"

Looking sideways at Akane, Ranma replied, "Overnight... A- I need to get my bearing before we can continue on home..."

Looking at Akane, while replying to Raijin, Urd said, "Okay... There's a guest room next to my room..."

"Thank you, Urd-san," Akane's tired voice spoke for the first time.

"You're welcome, kid," Urd replied back with a smirk.

Akane tried to scowled at Urd, but she was too tired. Why she didn't know. She had just taken one step into the torii and one step out of it. Yet she felt as if she had just run a marathon at top speed. She also didn't like the looks the kid, Skuld, was giving her nor did she like the looks the bimbo, Urd, was giving Ranma... But she was too tired for anything but sleep...

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

After settling Akane into the guest bed, Ranma joined the Norns and Keiichi at the dinner table, who had resumed their dinner. After a while, Skuld's curiosity got the better of her, so she asked, "What's the mortal doing with you, Oneechan?"

"We're going home," Ranma replied.

"Nani?" the Norns asked in surprise.

"But mortals can not live in Asgard, Oneechan," Skuld stated in confusion.

Ranma shook his head and answered, "Not Asgard. Home... My World."

"Your world?" Keiichi asked confused. "I thought all gods came from Heaven..."

"Not all kami," Ranma remarked. "Me, I was born in Nerima General Hospital, about a year before Akane was."

"Nani?" Now, Keiichi was really confused.

"I was originally a mortal, like Akane and yourself," Ranma responded to Keiichi. "Through training, mediation, and very trying circumstances, I, like the Buddhas before me, reached Enlightenment.. And through Enlightenment, became a kami..."

"But, Oniichan, you're older than the old hag is," Skuld stated calmly as Urd stalked over to her to complain about that 'old hag' comment.

"Oneechan, not during dinner," Belldandy remarked with a smile.

Urd just scowled and whispered as she walked back to her place at the table, "Later, brat."

Skuld just stuck her tongue out at Urd in response.

"As I said, we're returning to my world," Ranma explained. "While only a few decades have passed on my world since my birth, I've spent a long time out in the Multiverse... When I defeated that Mongol invasion a while ago with my lightning arrows..."

"You're Raiden?" Keiichi exclaimed.

"Or Raijin," Ranma stated. "Whichever you prefer, makes no difference to me."

"That was over seven hundred years ago," Keiichi replied.

"What can I say, I age well," Ranma answered with a smirk.

"Unlike some people," Skuld remarked while looking at Urd.

"Watch it, brat," Urd growled. If looks could kill, Skuld would be six feet under. Under what, Urd couldn't decide yet.

"And to answer the next question, no, Akane doesn't know that I'm a kami," Ranma said. "And I want to keep it that way. She just thinks I'm a very good martial artist that picked up a few, very useful techniques over the decades I was away. Which I have done..."

"But..." Keiichi started.

"The Martial Arts back home are powerful enough to include ki manipulation," Ranma replied. "Not as powerful as some of the Arts I have come across, but still powerful in their own ways.

"The two most powerful martial artists are very old and mortal. Cologne, an Joketsuzoku Elder, will be having her hundredth birthday in a year and a half, yet she still moves like lightning and take on most regular armies by herself. Happosai-sensei is even more powerful, even without his Singonshu monk's powers. Although cursed never to age, among other things, he was still a very powerful martial artist in his own right before that, and since, he's only got stronger.

"It's a matter of controlling one's ki. An over-simplification is that a person is born with a finite amount of ki. A living person's ki is both lost and gained as they go about their lives. When you gain more ki than you lose, you grow. When you lose more than you gain, you age. So if you can control and minimize the amount of ki you lose, you can control your aging as well. Of course, most people don't learn this until they're quite old, unless you're a kami, for them, it's natural."

"Oh." Keiichi didn't full understand what Ranma had said but he thought he got the gist of it.

The three Norns noted that Ranma hadn't included himself with them, the kami, in his explanation of aging, even though he had early identified himself as one.

Out of curiosity, Keiichi asked, "So what are you kami of?"

Ranma reached into his pocket and hand over his 'business card' which said:
~Kami of Storms~
~Security Daemon~
~First Class, First Category.~
~Unlimited. Unrestricted.~

"Unrestricted?" Keiichi inquired in puzzlement. That was a new one on him.

"Nani?" the Norns asked in curiosity. Keiichi handed Ranma's business card over to Belldandy, who looked at it, and passed it on to Urd. Urd looked at it, whistled in awe, and was about to handed it over to Skuld, when she grabbed it out of her hands.

"Hey, you brat, wait your turn," Urd shouted at Skuld, whose response was to stick out her tongue at her oldest sister.

"Now that wasn't very nice," Belldandy remarked.

"Sorry, Oneechan," Skuld replied only to Belldandy, ignoring Urd.

Belldandy just sighed.

"I've never heard of 'unrestricted' before, Oneechan. What does it mean?" Skuld asked.

"I've heard of it," Urd said with a touch of awe in her voice. "But I've never met someone who had it..." Turning to Ranma, she added, "You must be very, very good if Father gave that to you."

"But what does it mean, Oneechan?" Belldandy asked.

With a huff of maturity, Urd remarked, "It means that Raijin-oniichan, here, can both go anywhere he needs to go to fulfill his mission as well as the fact he's not restricted by Rules as we are."

"Nani?" Skuld exclaimed. "But..."

Ranma just shrugged and stated simply, "I do what needs to be done."

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

After an awkward silence that lasted the rest of the meal, the Norns, Keiichi, and Ranma moved out to the porch to watch the Sun set.

Motioning back into the Temple where Akane was, Urd finally asked, "So what's the story with the girl?"

"Huh?" Ranma responded. "Oh... Akane..."

"That was the name you introduced her with," Urd replied with a smirk as if it was a private joke.

In a sad voice Ranma explained, "Akane... She... She just found out that she had the mage-gift within her and that she burnt herself out. She had tried to use her mage-gift to become a better martial artist...

"And all she got out of her sacrifice, was a little more strength. She could have gotten a lot more if she took the time to train properly. But its all about shortcuts with Musabetsu Kakuto Ryuu..."

"Burnt herself out?" someone asked in confusion. It could have been Keiichi or Skuld, Ranma couldn't tell which nor did he care.

Either way, Urd said, "Burning oneself out means that you used too much power, too quickly in too short a time. It's like burning the entire wick of a candle all at once, instead of using the candle the proper way so it lasts."

"Still, that don't explain why Tendo-san is tired, Oniichan," Belldandy replied.

"True," Ranma stated honestly. "Akane-chan is tired because while in transit, I attempted to 'heal' Akane's gift..."

"But since she, herself, burnt her gift," Urd began.

"I couldn't," Ranma finished.

"Maybe Father..." Belldandy began.

"Nope," Ranma interrupted in a sad voice. "Too much of a direct interference."

"Oh," both Belldandy and Urd sighed.

Not understanding, Skuld remarked, "She can't miss what she never had."

With a sad smile, Ranma said, "True... But after seeing her counter-part's mother in action... and dreaming of using sorcery to level the playing field with her rivals... What was left of her Spirit was crushed..."

"Oniichan," Belldandy began. "While Tendo-san did look tired when she appeared with you. She didn't seem 'crushed'..."

"It's less painful this way," Ranma replied. "As Skuld said, if she doesn't know what she's missing..."

Belldandy was in shock, "Oniichan, to..."

"Actually, it was her idea," Ranma defended himself with a sad smile.

"Still," Belldandy began.

"Imooto-chan," Urd interrupted laying a gentle hand on Belldandy's shoulder. She continued in a gentle voice of experience, "It's better this way... I know."

Startled, Belldandy and Skuld looked confused at Urd. Of course, Skuld and Keiichi didn't understand half of what was being said and a three-quarters of what wasn't. But that was typical of things.

Ranma turned to Keiichi and stated with a smirk, "I hear you're having succubus problems... When did it begin?"

Both Keiichi and Belldandy blushed, Skuld scowled, and Urd smirked too. Belldandy and Keiichi, alternating, explained that since the beginning of the last new moon, succubi had been showing up looking for Keiichi at night. At first, it was just one or two (twins) succubi.. After a week, it became whole gangs. After the explanation, Ranma took a classic I-am-thinking-of-important-things position.

The Norns and Keiichi watched for a while. After several minutes, Skuld excused herself politely to go back to work of her latest project. Urd yawned and looked at Keiichi with a slight amount of worry and then looked at Belldandy, who met her gaze with a slight smile. Belldandy and Keiichi watched Ranma as he thought over the problem. Only Belldandy, as a First-Class Goddess herself, could detect minute amounts of mana passing through Ranma and out of him as probed his surrounding and Keiichi trying to see what did not belong.

After some time had passed, Ranma smiled.

Urd became nervous. She had seen that smile on Ranma's face before. It was the type of smile of a cat got after eating the canary and its owner was getting the cat another canary.

Ranma leaned over to Keiichi, whispered a single word, and Keiichi's face became redder than a beet and he passed out.

Belldandy looked concerned as she saw Keiichi pass out. She looked to Ranma with accusation as she asked, very politely, "What did you say to him, Oneechan?"

Ranma just smirked and calmly replied, "I think I know what's been attracting so many succubi here."

Realization dawned on Urd's face and she exclaimed, "You can't mean... That... Since..."

"Yep," Ranma answered with a laugh.

Urd bursted out laughing.

Belldandy frowned. She did not think whatever the problem was, that it was a laughing matter. Nor did she like the idea that her oniichan, Urd, and oneechan, Raijin, were laughing at her Keiichi. To show her displeasure, Belldandy aimed a small lightning bolt at both Urd and Raijin with only the precious that a First-Class Goddess could.

Urd jumped out and exclaimed, "Ouch."

Ranma just smirked at Belldandy's attempt to use a lightning bolt on the Kami of Storms and said apologetically, "Sorry."

"So what's wrong with my Keiichi?" Belldandy asked. The possessive article was not lost on either of the two older kami.

Gently, Ranma asked, "Bell-chan, what is a succubus?"

Puzzled at the question, Belldandy replied, "A succubus is a supernatural being that lives off of sexual energy of mortals."

"And what's the best kind of sexual energy?" Urd asked gently.

Belldandy's face took on a look of intense concentration that gave her a 'I-am-so-cute' look. Urd frowned, with her that look scrunched up her beautiful face into 'I-just-ate-a-lemon' look.

After ten minutes of concentrating, Belldandy said, "I don't know."

Urd did a face-fault. Ranma had a large sweat-drop on his head as he looked at Urd with a look that said 'I am not going to tell her.'

Urd sighed and stated, "Sexual tension is the best sexual energy for succubi The more, the better."

Still puzzled, Belldandy just nodded her head and accepted her oniichan's knowledge without question.

Seeing that the two were not getting through to her, Ranma asked, "How old is Keiichi?"

"Keiichi is twenty-one this month," Belldandy said in a matter-of-fact tone. She was puzzled, did Raijin think she did not know the basic facts of her Keiichi's life?

"A young man," Ranma remarked. "And what are young man known for?"

"Motorcycles!" Belldandy exclaimed happily.

Urd had a huge sweat-drop on her forehead. She looked Heaven-wards for strength as she realized that this was going to be a long night.

A gentle wind blew a pamphlet onto Belldandy's lap. The cover title stated 'Hormones, Sex, and Young People.'

Urd saw the pamphlet, looked Heaven-wards again, and mouthed a heart-felt 'Thank You.' She did not want to explain 'the Birds and the Bees' to Belldandy. That is what Parents are for.

Belldandy realizing Who brought the pamphlet to her attention, began to read it. After the first paragraph a visible blush appeared on her face.

After Belldandy read the pamphlet, Ranma asked, "Now do you understand?"

"You mean?" Belldandy started to ask but could not finish.

"Yes, Imooto-chan, Keiichi is one huge repressed young man," Urd said with a smirk that she could not keep from her face.

"I doubt he hasn't ever..." Ranma began but stopped when the two younger girls looked at him with a slight more than necessary interest. "Pure heart, pure..."

"Oh my," Belldandy remarked with a blush.

Urd smirk turned into a smile as she said, "So in order to stop the succubi, Keiichi's got to let some stream off... so to speak."

"Yep." Ranma's smile mirrored Urd's.

With a determine look on her face, Belldandy stood up and stated, "I must help my Keiichi deal with this problem. And stop those pesky succubi from coming here."

Ranma and Urd watched Belldandy walk into the temple. They could not help noticing that Belldandy's blush had yet to leave her face.

Ranma turned to Urd and said, "Why don't you go get Skuld-chan while I go place a rest spell on Akane, then the three of us can go get some ice cream."

"Okay, Oneechan," Urd answered with a smirk, realizing that Raijin wished to leave Belldandy and Keiichi alone in the temple to 'deal with their problem.'

- scene break - scene break - scene break -

The next morning, a slightly tired Urd and Skuld joined a smiling faced Belldandy and Keiichi in seeing Ranma and Akane off. They waved good-bye to Ranma and Akane has they stepped into the torii once more. = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - =
[=== Begin Definition ===]
Note 1:

Japanese (Romaji)


Unari Yoki Tora Yaiba Ryuu

Roaring Bright(spirit) Tiger Blade(sword) School

[=== End Definition ===]

Someone, please, remind me why I'm posting here with the difficult formatting?