Part 1: New Beginnings
A surprise attack by Kodachi leaves Ranma critically injured and forever mute. In the aftermath of the attack Ranma must come to terms with his new condition and prepare himself for the new direction that his life will now take.
Disclaimer: 1) I do not own any rights to these characters what so ever nor am I implying such.
2) This story is for my own enjoyment, not for making a quick buck and I'm sharing it in the hopes that you'll enjoy it too
It was a bright sunny afternoon in Nerima and classes at Furinken High School were over with for another day. A trio of students walked down the side walk or to be more accurate, two students walked down the sidewalk while the third walked balanced atop of an adjacent fence. The two on the sidewalk, both girls, one with a standard school uniform and short midnight blue hair while the other had long brown hair bound up with a white ribbon and was wearing a boy's school uniform, were both growling at the third student. The third student was a boy wearing no uniform but instead was clad in a red shirt and a pair of black pants both made of silk and in a Chinese style. The clothes fit well and certainly accented his toned body, although neither girl was looking at his body right now both being too busy trying to talk some sense into the boy.
"Look Ran-chan, we're all stuck having to work together on this science project. It wouldn't hurt for you to show some interest in it." complained the girl in the boy's uniform, the girl by the way was named Ukyo.
"That's right Baka!" the second girl, named Akane added "I'm not going to fail because you can't seem to get it through your thick skull that we ALL have to work on this."
Finally the black haired pig tailed boy, named Ranma spoke up "Look, I just don't see the need to know about volcanoes."
The boy gave a grin "I mean if one day I happen to be next to one when it starts to go off, I'm certainly not going to stand around and compare the different kinds of lava flows."
Behind the quarreling trio walked a fourth girl, she was just a bit older but still wearing the standard school uniform, her brown hair was cut in a page boy style and she held a camcorder to her right eye.
Nabiki smiled as she listened to Ranma's reply knowing that any time you put Ranma and two or more of his fiancées together sooner or later something worth filming, and selling, was bound to occur.
"And at the rate you're talking Saotome, it should be pretty soon." She gave a small but evil grin as she continued to film the three students ahead of her.
"Ran-chan you Jackass," Ukyo fired back at the uncaring boy "It's not about actually knowing it or not. It's about convincing the teacher that you're at least trying to learn it."
Ranma simply shook his head in a negative motion "What can I say Uchan? Vulcanology just isn't my thing."
At that all three girls stopped and stared at Ranma surprised that he even knew a word that big. Just as they were regaining their senses the air was split by the sound of a bicycle bell ringing from somewhere above them and a shadow began to grow larger on a spot right where Ranma was standing.
"How does she get that thing up that high?" Ukyo whispered to Akane out of the side of her mouth.
"Not a clue." Akane replied with a similar tone of wonder in her voice "But she sure has a lot of hang time."
"Should we warn Ran-chan?" Ukyo asked somewhat concerned for the boy's safety.
"Nope, it's too late anyway." was Akane's reply
Both girls watched as the bicycle landed square on Ranma knocking him off the fence and flat faced onto the sidewalk, the bicycle and its lavender haired rider never moving off Ranma's back.
"Nihao Airen!" the Amazon girl, named Shampoo, called happily down at the groaning form of Ranma. "Airen take Shampoo on date now yes?"
Ranma's reply was lost not only due to the fact that he was lying face first into a mass of crushed concrete but also by the resounding cries of denial from the first two girls he was with, an evil yet joyful chuckle could barely be heard from the fourth girl as she began to tally up how much this footage would sell for.
"No way you Chinese hussy!" screamed Ukyo as she unslung her battle spatula from her back and took a swing at the now dodging Shampoo.
"Ranma you baka! You have to help with the science project!" Akane screamed as a rather large mallet appeared in her hands and she gave the prostrate form of Ranma a swift and painful blow to the head.
By this time Shampoo had pulled out her own weapons, a nice matched set of Chinese style maces called bonbori, and used them to launch a counter attack against the spatula wielding Ukyo. "Spatula girl no call Shampoo hussy!" the angry Amazon spit "Is Shampoo's right to date husband!"
"Husband?!" the rather upset Akane showed her displeasure at the term by taking another wild swing at Ranma who had finally come to his senses and was beginning to separate himself from the wild melee that had formed around him.
"That baka is my fiancé not your husband you bimbo!" another mallet swing barely missed Ranma and by some miracle would have actually hit Shampoo had she not managed to block the swing with her bonbori, still the impact knocked her back several feet.
"Airen is Shampoo's husband!" the Amazon yelled back at the mallet swinging girl "Belong to Shampoo not kitchen destroyer!"
Shampoo leaped back into the fray and launched an attack at both the other girls, using one bonbori apiece to attack the girls.
Nabiki was impressed not only with the fight she was currently filming or with the fact that her younger sister hadn't gotten herself taken out of it yet but mainly by the fact that Ranma had been able to put several feet of distance between himself and the battle happy girls and seemed to be on the verge of a clean getaway.
"Knowing Ranma's luck," Nabiki snorted "There's still another element to this chaos that has yet to rear its head."
"OH HOHOHOHOHO!" an insane laugh seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere as the air around everyone was suddenly filled with black rose petals.
"And there it is." groaned Nabiki. Stupid laughter and flying rose petals meant that Kodachi Kuno had made an appearance.
"There you are Ranmasama my stallion." The black leotard clad girl stood atop the fence "Come let me aid in your escape from these harridans and we shall escape to our secret love nest where you may have your way with me." The girl with the long black hair styled as a long ponytail worn to the side brought her hand up to her forehead and seemed ready to swoon in a melodramatic way but noticed that Ranma was not making any moves to catch her so she thought better of it.
"But please my Master," Kodachi brought out and unrolled a long gymnastics ribbon "Be gentle for I have been saving my virtue for only you."
"Yeah right," whispered Shampoo to Akane and Ukyo, "Crazy flower girl has virtue than Shampoo Mousse's bed toy."
The other girls broke out in laughter at that, knowing that aliens would have to land and remove Shampoo's brain before she'd let Mousse get in her bed.
"Look you Barbarian!" snarled Kodachi "Oh never mind." With that the ribbon lashed out and wrapped itself around Ranma's throat, and then the rather crazy Kuno sister started to reel Ranma in like a big fish.
Ranma tried to grab the ribbon but pulled his hands back in a hurry as he felt the pain of deep cuts appearing on his hands. He groaned with frustration as he watched blood begin to flow from the deep cuts. It figured that Kodachi would use a razor edged ribbon.
Ranma tried to resist Kodachi's pull with a good deal of success, especially given how much more mass he had than her, however small drops of crimson trickled down his throat from where the edges of the ribbon had begun to cut into his skin.
"Ok here's what I got to do." Ranma wasn't really worried about either Kodachi or the ribbon as a plan began to form in his brain. First he'd lean her way just a bit to get a bit of slack to form in the ribbon. That would allow him to get a hand in between the ribbon and his neck preventing any blockage of breathing or any more cuts. Than having done that he'd simply blaze in with a burst of speed and hit her pressure points and put her out like a light.
Well that was the plan and it would have worked had not Akane decided that it would be a good time to dowse Ranma with cold water, figuring that Ranma-chan would have a smaller neck and be able to simply pull her head out of the ribbon.
What happened in the moments that followed was that Ranma, not expecting the sudden change in gender nor sudden loss of body mass and weight, suddenly found herself stumbling forward off balance. The ribbon no longer taunt against Ranma's throat twisted inward just a bit and Kodachi, watching Ranma's transformation with very wide surprise filled eyes gave the ribbon a sudden jerk pulling it tighter against Ranma's neck as he stumbled.
The end result of this was the ribbon cut very wide and very deep, severing at least one major artery and cutting clean through Ranma's larynx and windpipe. Ranma dropped like a stone before the shocked girls, spraying blood like a fountain.
Kodachi crumpled into a shivering mass whispering denials that her strong Ranmasama was also her hated enemy the red haired pigtail girl. Kodachi's faint grasp on reality finally slipped away and she sat weeping and rocking on the blood soaked sidewalk.
Ukyo and Shampoo were at Ranma's side in a heartbeat trying to staunch the rapid flow of blood while Akane simply stood there with a blank look on her face and Nabiki's hands were shaking but she kept filming.
"For evidence." She told herself
Ukyo dropped beside Ranma, pulling the ribbon out of her hair. She rolled it up into a makeshift bandage and pressed it against the gaping wound.
"Shampoo!" she cried at the Amazon, "Now what?"
With a precision that she normally seemed incapable of, she methodically tore her Chinese style dress into strips and began to wrap them firmly around Ranma's throat, holding Ukyo's ribbon in place.
"Must apply pressure to try stop blood." The worry and fear was evident on her face and in her voice. "This too too bad. Violent girl call hospital wagon!"
"What?" was the best that Akane could manage as her brain tried to reboot.
"Oh for Kami's sake!" cried out Nabiki as she dropped her camera and pulled out her cell phone. Several hurried words and a few minutes later an ambulance was on its way.
Nabiki's dropped camera kept recording the scene as Ukyo and Shampoo kept trying to hold back the flow of blood while imploring and demanding Ranma not to die on them. Kodachi could be seen rocking back and forth as she hugged her arms around her knees and kept mumbling to herself. Nabiki could be heard on the phone telling someone what had happened and to meet her at the hospital. Akane could be seen simply standing there with a blank look on her face, her brain still trying to reboot.
Ranma's world was a mishmash of muted sounds and blurred colors where nothing made sense. Ranma was struggling hard to fight off a sudden urge to sleep somehow knowing that if he should succumb that he might never awaken again. Only the wail of the ambulance siren and the constant dialog from the paramedic helped keep Ranma awake.
Meanwhile at a nearby hospital, the announcement of the incoming ambulance stirred the place up like a hornet's nest.
"Look alive people! We've got an incoming ambulance with a hot one!"
"What have we got coming?" asked the ER doctor on duty as he rushed into the staging area.
"Medics say it's a young girl, approximately seventeen years old, severe trauma to the throat. They say it looks like a very deep knife wound and the girl is bleeding out quickly."
"Call the OR and have a team standing by. We're gonna rush her straight into surgery."
"You got it Doc."
"Ambulance inbound, ETA 2 minutes!"
"Call security and tell them that we need a clear corridor between here and the OR."
"Way ahead of you Boss."
"Ambulance inbound pulling into Area 2!"
"Let's go guys, time to earn our big paychecks."
"You get paid??" one of the medical techs asked with a goofy look on his face.
"Very funny, Maehara."
"Here comes our girl."
"My God look at all the blood!" a nurse said in a stunned tone as she ran up to begin taking Ranma's vital signs.
"You guys should see what she left in the ambulance." This was said by the paramedic who had struggled to keep Ranma alive in the ambulance and was currently pushing her gurney towards the waiting ER response team.
"All vitals dropping like a stone Doc."
"Her blood pressures bottomed out! She's flat lining!!" the nurse suddenly called out.
"Not on my shift she's not! I'm starting chest compressions!" The doctor scrambled up onto Ranma's gurney and began pressing on her chest while a nurse began squeezing a large bladder like object placed over her mouth, helping her breath.
"Mina! Get that blood into her quickly!" The doctor called out even as another nurse was forcing the IV lines into Ranma's arms.
"We got two pints on the hook and more on its way Doctor."
"Ok Maehara, start pushing us to the OR, any response in her vitals?"
"It's faint Doctor but it's in there." came the reply containing more than a hint of relief.
The orderly began to push the gurney rapidly down the hallway towards the OR while the doctor held on tight and the rest of the team rushed to keep up.
"Thank God, you listen to me young lady; you are not to die on my shift. You understand me?"
"Now go in there and give Death the ass kicking he deserves." The doctor brushed back Ranma's bangs as he jumped off the gurney and watched it being pushed into the surgery area.
"There she goes; I hope she'll be alright"
"I dunno Mina, she's lost a lot of blood and that wound looks nasty."
"I guess it wouldn't hurt to pray for her though."
"Man, someone call housekeeping and get this blood cleaned up."
"You got it Doc." Maehara went off over to the phone and started dialing.
"Inbound! Another ambulance with a male age 30ish; blunt force trauma to the head. ETA 5 minutes!"
"Get ready everyone, here we go again." The ER doctor just shook his head as he heard the ambulance siren drawing closer.
Nodoka Saotome stared at the sleeping form of her child through the glass of her intensive care room door. The tears trailed slowly down her cheek as she looked at her son, now daughter, with her neck swathed in bandages and hooked up to all manner of machines. A large plastic tube had been inserted down her throat and into her lungs. This allowed the respirator to breath for her. A smaller tube ran up through her nose and out her sinus cavity and led down to her stomach through which dripped the liquid that would be Ranma's only source of food for a while. An EEG machine had its sensors taped to her head so it could monitor her brain activity while an EKG machine watched over her blood pressure and pulse. A blood pressure cuff on her right arm would inflate every fifteen minutes to update her blood pressure readings. A plastic tube was clipped to her finger to keep tabs on her blood oxygen level. Any abnormal reading from any of the machines would have a nurse rushing into the room in a matter of seconds.
"This is twice that I've almost lost my child." She thought to herself. "I won't let there be a third time."
Nodoka looked around for her husband and was quite annoyed that he was nowhere to be found.
"Your place is here Genma, with your child." She thought more firmly "Yes the second time and they've both been your fault." She thought back on the training trip Genma took Ranma on.
"It was supposed to be only two weeks, not ten years!"
"And it's because of your questionable sense of honor that Ranma is caught between so many fiancées. And what kind of fool am I to let you do such things?" she asked herself harshly "To allow myself to be used as a judge as to whether my son was manly or not?" "Did you really think I would ask my own child to commit seppuku?"
She turned away from the glass and headed back out to the waiting room to await the doctor's report.
As she reached the waiting room she spotted Genma asleep in a chair and she swore softly to herself "If you do not prove to me that you care for your child as more than a tool to ensure your future well being than I will take Ranma and we will start our lives over again together."
She gave the snoring man an icy glare "and you can rot in Hell."
Looking away from her husband she noticed that all the Tendos, the Amazons, and Ukyo were watching her as if expecting her to give them some sort of news. She just sadly shook her head and sat down beside the eldest Tendo daughter, Kasumi.
It took all the strength of will that Nodoka had to keep her tears to a small trickle but no one in the room would begrudge her that, except maybe for the man snoring across the room. Nodoka grimaced as she recalled listening to Genma's rantings about how weak and unworthy Ranma must be to have allowed himself to be so badly injured and to put the joining of the schools in jeopardy.
Kasumi leaned against the quietly crying Nodoka and gently wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulder. "There there Auntie Saotome." She said in gentle tones "Ranma will be fine I'm sure of it. He's been through much worse and has always come out on top." The cheerfulness in Kasumi's voice sounded strained and forced and everyone could tell but they all said nothing because they all wanted to be strong for Nodoka and Ranma.
Nabiki was checking her camcorder for damage when she played back the video; a greenish tint appeared on her face as she watched the whole event replay before her eyes.
"It was an accident." She thought to herself "A tragic accident."
She could see where many things went wrong but she also noticed that many of them were the result of her kid sister's actions or inactions as the case may be.
"Humph, some martial artist," Nabiki snorted "she's ready for everything? Ha! The baka just stood there looking stupid while Ukyo and Shampoo did the heroics." Nabiki figured that Akane's actions had just removed her from the Fiancee Brigade. "She's not worthy to be engaged to Ranma, Hell the only person she actually hit during that whole thing was Ranma and he didn't even try to block."
Akane sat there looking rather blank faced but inside her thoughts were running at a million miles a second.
"I froze," she reluctantly admitted. "Ranma was dying before my eyes and I couldn't even move a muscle to save him." Akane gave a big sigh "what about my training? What about being prepared to face any situation?"
Tears began to flow freely down her cheeks when it dawned on her that she had only attacked Ranma during the fight with Ukyo and Shampoo. "Am I really so bad of a person that I would do such a thing to the boy I lo… like a lot?"
Her train of thought as well as the trains of everyone else, except for Genma who was still snoring, were interrupted by the appearance of a man wearing a white lab coat over a set of blue hospital scrubs.
"Saotome family?" he asked as he approached.
In a shot Nodoka was to her feet and had met the doctor midway across the waiting room with Cologne beside her, balancing on her wooden staff. Nabiki started to poke Genma in an attempt to wake him up but was stopped by a sharp look and a terse nod from Nodoka.
"I'm Nodoka Saotome," she said to the doctor, her voice thick with worry "I'm Ranma's mother." She pointed to Cologne and said to the doctor "This is Ranma's great grandmother." That raised a lot of eyebrows. "You may tell her any information you have regarding my child."
Cologne quickly spoke up "How is the child?" She'd have to ask Nodoka about this sudden upgrade of her status with the Saotome family later when she had the chance.
The doctor took a quick look at some notes he had with him then cleared his throat before speaking. "Well, let's start with the easy one first. The wounds to her hands were deep and required many sutures to close but I'm sure she'll regain full use of them in a short time."
The sound of a new voice had awoken Genma and he was beside Nodoka in a flash. "Will there be any troubles with the boy's hands?"
The doctor looked puzzled at the word "Boy" knowing that the patient he had named Saotome was in fact a girl.
"Excuse me Sir, are you sure you have the right family? I'm talking about a girl here."
"Yes yes, Ranma Saotome." Genma waved the comment off 'that's my son."
Nodoka interrupted before the doctor could begin seriously questioning the sanity of the man before him. "Sorry Doctor, my husband just woke up, he's always a bit confused when he first gets up." She leaned in close to the doctor and whispered in a soft voice "He use to be a martial artist, took one too many hits to the head if you know what I mean."
The light of understanding shone on the doctor's face as the strange man's behavior now made sense. "Ah ok," he continued "While the cuts to the hand were deep, luckily no major blood vessels or tendons were cut. She might have some stiffness or loss of grip strength but she should easily regain almost full use of them."
The doctor was happy to see a small look of joy appear on the mother's face but it was the dour look of concern upon the addled father's face that bothered him, but he decided to continue with the briefing.
"As for her throat, I'll be very honest with you," he looked Nodoka straight in the eyes "Had the cut been just a bit deeper it would have cut into your daughter's spine and she would have been totally paralyzed from the neck down." He paused for breath as fear quickly clouded over the faces of everyone listening to the conversation, which was everyone in the room.
"As it was, her left jugular vein was severed as was her esophagus and larynx." This news left everyone, even Genma, with shocked looks on their faces. "By the time she was taken to the OR she had pretty much bled out, her vital signs were pretty much nonexistent and to be honest, we had to perform heroic rescue measures four times before we could fix everything well enough to get enough blood to stay inside her to get her stabilized."
"Heroic rescue measures?" asked Shampoo not understanding the words.
Nabiki answered the question with more than a touch of awe in her voice "He means that Ranma died at least four times before they could get her in a state to keep her alive."
Shampoo's eyes widened at the news "Poor Airen." She said softly "Airen have too too strong warrior spirit though, Airen will live?"
"Yes Doctor," Nodoka asked the question everyone wanted an answer to. "What are the long term effects of this injury going to be?"
The doctor slowly looked over everyone as he prepared to give them the news. "Well the first part is that your daughter's vocal chords have been completely destroyed by the wound. She'll never speak again."
That news brought a loud gasp from everyone. "But Doctor," Genma asked with a tinge of desperation in his voice "What about surgery? Surely you can repair them?"
"No we can't." the doctor shook his head in a slow no. "The damage is more than we can repair. I'm sorry but your daughter will be mute for the rest of her life."
"But the main concern is that because she had pretty much lost all her blood, her brain had gone into oxygen starvation and we suspect that there might be some residual trauma caused by it."
Shampoo again turned questioning eyes towards Nabiki, who answered her question before she even asked it.
"He means that Ranma might have brain damage, it could affect HER body in someway that we don't know yet." Everyone caught the emphasis on the word her.
"What effects are we looking at Doctor? Nodoka asked
"We won't know for sure until she's well enough to run an MRI and a CAT scan on, but depending on the areas affected she could be facing anything from memory loss, loss of balance and coordination, unusual behaviors. We just can't be sure at this time."
The doctor looked at his watch and prepared to leave "I'm sorry that's all I can tell you right now, but I'll tell you more when we have more information. She can have visitors but only two at a time."
Cologne hopped after the doctor calling out to him "Oh Doctor, one moment please."
The doctor turned and looked at her "Yes Maam?"
"My granddaughter has inherited a family condition." Cologne said. "Her skin doesn't tolerate hot water very well. It causes her to break out in very painful blisters. It would be best if the nurses were to use luke warm water at best with her."
Everyone's eyes widened a bit as they suddenly remembered about the curse and the possible effect that changing to her male body might have on Ranma's sutures and wounds.
"Sensitive to hot water you say?" the doctor asked with curiosity.
"Yes, it's inherited from her father." Cologne said with a sly smile as Genma face vaulted into the floor.
"Thank you, that's good to know, I'll make a note of it in her chart. Now if you'll please excuse me." With that the doctor headed back down the corridor he had originally came from.
Genma collapsed into a chair and began wailing "Ruined! The boy is ruined, all those years of patient training and careful grooming shot to hell!"
"What are you babbling about Genma?" snapped Nodoka who had finally had quite enough of her husband.
"The boy is now worthless as a martial artist." Cried Genma
"How do you mean Old friend?" this was asked by a rapidly growing concerned Soun Tendo.
"To use his most powerful attacks the boy must call them out." Genma began crying tears out in gouts that made Soun proud "If he can't talk he can't use the attacks any more!"
"The schools will never be joined!" Soun began to add to the flood of tears but both men were quickly rendered asleep by a few nerve points poked by Cologne.
"Thank you Elder." Nodoka gave Cologne a grateful smile that was matched by everyone still awake in the room.
"Is that true?" asked a nervous Akane "Ranma won't ever be able to use his attacks again?"
Cologne scratched her chin "Possibly Young Tendo. But in truth, to use the more powerful ki attacks a warrior must simply gather and focus their ki on the attack they wish to perform. Calling out the attack's name simply makes it easier to do that."
Cologne looked very seriously at all the gathered martial artists "A true master of the Art does not need to do such stuff unless they are trying to intimidate their opponent. Ranma is simply the most talented martial artist that I've ever come across, if anyone can gain that level of ki mastery, it would be him. But it will take time I'm afraid."
Mousse turned his head away to hide a grin that was making its way onto his face. "So Saotome will be weak and without his special attacks for a while. It's almost too easy to get rid of him at a time like this, but with him gone off to his mortal reward (in Hell!) than Shampoo will easily become mine!" Mousse began making plans for Ranma's immediate demise.
Ukyo suddenly sat down with a heavy sigh "If Ran-chan can't talk ever again, he'll never be able to laugh out loud again either."
"Or ask on date." Replied a sad Shampoo
"Or say I love you" whispered Akane
"Or insult you or offer you excuses or try to deny anything you accuse him of" Nabiki said in a rather harsh tone that caught everyone by surprise.
But before anyone could ask her about her tone, another man entered the waiting room and approached the group, displaying a detective's badge.
"Saotome family?" he asked in a gruff but gentle voice, seeing the nods of affirmative coming from Nodoka he continued "I'm Detective Ishagawa from Nerima police, I've been assigned to your case and I need to ask a few questions."
"Of course Detective, how can we help?" Nodoka asked politely.
"Well first off, I need to talk to any witnesses so that I can get their side of the story."
Nabiki walked over while opening the view screen up on her camcorder "Detective, I can do you one better." She then hit the play button while everyone gathered to watch.
In a few minutes the playback was over and several people were on the verge of being sick when the detective looked over at Nabiki "I'll have to take this as evidence you know."
"As long as I get a receipt so I can get it back, that cost me a good bit of yen you know." came Nabiki's reply.
"Don't worry about it young lady, you'll get it back." The detective chuckled
"Hey badge man," called out Shampoo "What happen to crazy flower girl?"
The detective stood scratching his head trying to figure out what the lavender hair girl had just spouted.
Ukyo offered a translation "She asked what happened to Kodachi? You know, the nut job with the razor ribbon."
The detective offered a faint smile "The nut job as you put it is currently under psychiatric evaluation at the Nerima mental unit. Given her responses and what I've seen on Miss Tendo's camcorder I'd say that there is a good chance of her becoming a long time visitor there."
"So what did she have to say for herself?" Nabiki wondered with a sly sneer.
"Not much" admitted Ishagawa "Mostly keeps mumbling about her stallion being a mare."
There was a soft chuckle by the group who were all very happy to know that Kodachi would not be turning up any time soon.
"However," the detective said with a stern voice "this curse thing in Ranma's file is apparently real than?"
"Ranma has a police file?' asked Nabiki
"Actually, ALL the martial arts types around here do, it helps us keep tabs on who's destroying what." Ishagawa grinned at the looks on the faces of the martial artists in the room.
"Yes Detective, my child does have a curse that is common knowledge." Nodoka replied with a hint of anger in her voice "We've made no attempt to deceive anyone with it."
"Except pig boy." whispered Shampoo to Ukyo causing the chef to giggle than give the Amazon trying to look innocent a dirty glare.
Ishagawa ignored the girls as he answered back to Nodoka "No such thing was even implied Mrs. Saotome, the curse is simply mentioned in the file and I wasn't sure to believe it or not."
"Um Sir?" asked an uncertain Akane "Just what do our files say about us? If I may ask."
"Of course you may ask MissTendo. The files simply state who each of you are, where you live, what special attacks you have been known to employ."
"Sounds kind of big botherish there Detective." Nabiki gave a snide remark.
"Not at all, it's in the public's interest to know who has the power to level buildings with a single punch." Ishagawa offered "But to be honest, as long as it was kept to simple property damage and you guys only fought each other, the police were ready to just simply stay out of your way. Especially since your presence has lowered crime in Nerima by a huge percentage. But this was attempted murder and we won't ignore that."
"Now if you'll excuse me, I need to run this recording back to the station." Ishagawa gave a small but polite bow and promised to get back in touch with any more news of the case.
Nodoka paused as she watched the man leave, than she looked down at the snoring form of Genma. "So Elder, Care to come with me to visit Ranma?"
"Why yes Child," Cologne answered with a smile "Let's go visit my great granddaughter."
And with that the two made their way to Ranma's room.
Looking down at the sleeping face of her daughter Nodoka truly noticed for the first time how much of a resemblance to each other they actually shared. They had the same facial features and long silky red hair, although Nodoka's had darkened with age, something Ranma's would probably also do in time. Reaching out Nodoka gently caressed Ranma's cheek with the back of her hand while gazing at her with eyes that only a mother could truly have.
"She's beautiful." She whispered softly. "It's funny but this is actually the first time I've ever really looked closely at Ranma's girl form."
Nodoka gave a sigh filled with sadness "I was always to busy being worried if my son was manly or not and to be honest, I was embarrassed by his curse. What a fool I've been. How much time have I wasted when I could have been getting to know my child?"
Cologne gave a knowing nod "You must understand Nodoka that Ranma is truly special no matter what gender he is in. I've seen the boy do the most amazing things, beat foes thought to be well unbeatable. And always has he kept his sense of honor."
Cologne chuckled "Despite all his many faults that fool of a male that you married did somehow manage to raise the boy mostly right."
Cologne level a kind look at Nodoka, watching her as her eyes traced every detail of Ranma's features. "But I must ask why my sudden promotion to great grandmother? Not that I'm complaining."
"To be honest Elder," Nodoka explained with a somewhat rueful tinge to her voice. "I wanted there to be another responsible adult who could get current updates on Ranma's condition. I certainly can't expect Genma to do it."
Cologne nodded sagely "I can understand that."
"And Ranma has always spoken very highly of you." Nodoka went on saying.
"Really, has he now?" Cologne sounded a little surprised at what she had heard.
"Oh yes, he's always telling me how he respects your skills and knowledge and how you have trained him in some new techniques."
"Your child is very skilled, but he also possesses an honest heart, a strong sense of honor, and even a touch of innocence. It's been my pleasure to teach him and I hope to do so again in the future." Cologne smiled softly as she thought of Ranma.
"Elder," Nodoka began to ask with a touch of uncertainty in her voice "Do you really mean to take Ranma back to your village?"
"I won't lie to you. I would like nothing better than to have your child become a member of the Chinese Amazons preferably as the husband to my great granddaughter Shampoo."
Cologne thought about her answer for a few seconds than continued "In either form, Ranma possesses all the qualities that make for a great Amazon, and with his female form he could even be granted full Amazon status and be accepted as a full warrior."
Giving Nodoka a knowing wink and a sly smile Cologne continued "Besides with both of their good looks, amazing martial arts skills and Ranma's tactical intellect just think of the grand children they could give us, they'd be perfect."
The thought of grand children did indeed give Nodoka a warm fuzzy feeling for a moment than she sighed as she brushed Ranma's bangs out of her closed eyes. "But I couldn't bear to lose my child so soon after just having been reunited with him."
Placing a gentle hand on the sad mother's shoulder Cologne answered in a calming voice. "Have no fear child; I would never use force to take Ranma away. To be honest he is simply too powerful, the only ways to control him would leave him unsuited for anything and an angry Ranma is something I would not want in the village."
Giving a soft smile Cologne went on "No Dear, I want Ranma to chose on his own whether or not to join the village, in either gender. I can promise you that Ranma would have a good life with us and would be well respected and accepted by all."
Cologne chuckled and added "And it doesn't hurt that my Shampoo is madly in love with the boy."
Even Nodoka grinned at that "It does seem so, but Ranma always seems so nervous around her."
"Well, Amazons have little in the way of inhibitions about love and romance. We are a passionate people and we see no harm in expressing our emotions and feelings."
Cologne gave another sigh "Shampoo however is just a bit more passionate than others, frankly I think it just overwhelms Ranma. I've been trying to get her to calm down some but I doubt she's even listening."
Cologne decided to test the waters a little so to speak, to see how the day's events may have affected Ranma's mother's opinions of the boy's many fiancées.
"It seems a good thing that Nabiki had her camcorder turned on when the attack came." She noticed a twitch in Nodoka's left eyebrow and pressed on "I was impressed at how Shampoo and the chef, Ukyo, responded to the situation. That girl would make a fine Amazon as well."
"Yes, both girls reacted well indeed and I am thankful for their quick actions, they saved my child's life. However I am disappointed in Akane's behavior both during and after the attack."
Cologne looked up at the Saotome matriarch and made note of the serious look on her face as Nodoka continued, "As I watched the recording I saw nothing that Ranma had done to warrant an attack by Akane."
Cologne grinned to herself as she saw a way to remove a fiancée out of the running, by simply telling the truth "She often attacks him without just cause or reason. She often jumps to conclusions or simply refuses to believe what Ranma has to say. I really do not understand why Ranma puts up with it." She kept her secret smile as she noticed Nodoka silently nodding in agreement.
Cologne was looking down at Ranma watching the flow of ki in his, now her, body when she noticed something out of the ordinary, in several places where there should have been a nice even flow there were instead whirls and knots of ki severely disrupting the natural flow.
"That's odd." Cologne said under her breath as she continued to stare at Ranma's ki flow
"What's odd Elder?" asked Nodoka who began fighting a small bubble of fear that was beginning to grow in the pit of her stomach.
"Just an observation my dear, however," Cologne gave Nodoka a close look "How do you feel about your child's curse?"
Nodoka gave the Amazon elder a puzzled look "The curse? Well, I must admit that it at first took me by surprise. It did take a while to get use to the fact that my manly son turned into a girl, a rather tomboyish girl but a girl none the less."
She reached down and traced a gentle finger along the sleeping girl's cheek "But now I understand that no matter the gender, Ranma is always my child, first and foremost always my child."
Another tear began its slow trek down the sad mother's face "I've already lost so many years with her; I can't bear to lose any more. Why do you ask Elder?"
"I've been studying the flow of Ranma's ki and I must admit that it is far from normal even for someone as powerful as Ranma." Cologne scratched her chin and continued "Ranma's ki flow changes with his gender as male ki and female ki travel in different pathways along the body."
"You mean in a yin and yang manner?" Nodoka asked.
"Yes, in just that manner." Cologne confirmed "Ranma's ki flow is currently in the female flow given her current gender but it's not flowing as it should. The flow seems to be pooling in some areas specifically those associated with the female anatomy."
"But what does it mean?" again the bubble of fear began to grow inside Nodoka.
"This is just a theory for now you must understand," Cologne chose her next words carefully "But it seems to me Ranma may have locked his curse and is now stuck in female form."
Nodoka's eyes widened in surprise at Cologne's words "Locked? But why would he do that?"
"Again I must theorize," A look of deep thought crossed the elder's wrinkled face "As you saw in the recording of the fight, Ranma is constantly the battle field for any number of fights, be it among the fiancées or whatever rivals or opponents seeking to prove themselves against Ranma."
'But I've noticed that the female Ranma is rarely bothered by such things except in the case of a few determined idiots such as the Hibiki boy or the Kuno boy or even Mousse."
Of course there were many of Ranma's adventures that she had no knowledge of.
Understanding shone in Nodoka's eyes "So you think Ranma has locked herself in female form because she feels safer?"
Nodding Cologne agreed "Yes and giving the level of trauma that Ranma just went through it wouldn't surprise me if this was the case. But if this is the case than there is no telling when or even if Ranma will feel safe enough to unlock the curse and return to male form."
"So you are telling me that for a while at least my son is gone and I have a daughter instead?"
"Yes Nodoka, that is exactly what I am telling you and why I am concerned about how you feel about the curse."
Cologne finally hopped over to a large stuffed chair and sat down with a sigh as she suddenly felt all of her 300 + years. "I've heard about that suicide contract you have with Genma and if you plan on enforcing it with Ranma than I'm afraid that the Amazon nation will not stand idly by and let such potential be wasted so foolishly."
Nodoka felt the anger begin to boil inside her as she pondered what the Elder was implying. "As I have said over and over, I'm done wasting the years I have remaining with my child. I will never ask such a thing of Ranma and if its Ranma's choice to live her life as a girl than I will do my best to ensure that she has a chance at having the best life she can have."
Cologne glowed with joy and a hint of pride as she watched Nodoka's maternal instincts appear "That's exactly what I wanted to hear you say dear. Now listen and understand what I am going to say next."
Abruptly Nodoka's anger subsided as she was locked by the Amazon matriarch's gaze "You must remember this, although Ranma now has a female body, his mind is still that of a male. A male desperately in search of a sense of self identity fighting all the garbage that Genma has spent the last many years trying to fill his head with. Ranma has the basic female instincts but no real knowledge of what all goes into being a woman; you are going to have to teach her these things."
Suddenly the task seemed like it was overwhelming but Nodoka was determined to aid her child in anyway needed.
Cologne gave her a bright smile "You'll do fine Dear, but remember, take things slowly and don't try to force Ranma to suddenly be feminine so no pink laces or ribbons."
That got a small laugh out of Nodoka. "I see where Ranma gets her beautiful smile." Cologne thought.
'Ok, I won't try to make Ranma a woman among women, unless she asks me too. I guess I should go to the bookstore and pick up some books on how to raise a teenage daughter."
"Probably not a bad idea," Cologne smiled "But don't just rely on books, you have maternal instincts so use them and just try to do what's best for Ranma and you'll be fine."
Cologne sighed as she gazed at the calm on Ranma's face. "According to the archives in our tribe, it is said that the longer a Jusenkyo victim stays in cursed form, the more the curse changes their mind. If this is true than someday Ranma may become completely female and you will have only a daughter. Once that happens, the archives say a fully changed cursed person can never change back again."
Cologne hopped back on her staff "Of course all this is just a theory for now but there is no way to test it without putting Ranma at great risk as I'm sure her wounds and sutures could not take the strain of changing bodies."
Nodoka nodded in agreement as Cologne continued "Now Child, I have a proposition for you. Before you give an answer just understand that there will be no strings attached with it."
Nodoka and Cologne drew closer as the Elder made her pitch.
The two returned to the waiting room where the rest of the group was waiting. Upon seeing them, the group rushed up and surrounded them swamping them with a ton of questions.
"How is Ran-chan?"
"Does he look alright?"
"Can go see Airen now?"
"How long will Ranma be in the hospital?"
"Can I go see him?"
"No I get to see him first!"
"No Shampoo see Airen first, Shampoo be Airen's nurse"
Cologne slammed her staff down against the floor with a loud crack cutting off the growing shouts and preventing the melee about to break out. "Now listen here!" she said in a firm clear voice "First off, with Nodoka's permission I hearby declare that Ranma is now under the protection of the Amazons and I will not tolerate any nonsense that interferes with her recovery. Do you all understand?"
The suddenly subdued group glumly nodded affirmative, only Nabiki and Kasumi catching the fact that the old Amazon used the word 'Her' to describe Ranma.
"Now as for the rest of your questions, there will be no one allowed to visit Ranma tonight." This brought a fresh round of protests which Cologne sternly silenced with a glare. "All of you are still very emotional from today's events and the sight of Ranma's current state may be too much for you. The last thing she needs is to be bothered by a bunch of wailing and weeping people."
Finally Nabiki spoke up "Cologne, you keep using female terms when talking about Ranma, why?"
Cologne obviously disliked being questioned but kept her biting reply about Nabiki's need to know to herself and answered her with merely annoyance in her voice "Ranma appears to be currently locked in female form judging by her ki flow. And before you ask." She held up a hand "Ranma seems to have locked the curse of her own accord, I believe it's because she feels safer as a female rather than as a male."
"Safer as a girl?" Ukyo was confused by the statement
"Yes, as a girl." Nodoka spoke up "As we saw on Nabiki's recording of the day's events, the three of you," she glared at Ukyo, Shampoo and Akane who all tried to shrink into the shadows, "Seem unable to get along and often fight each other in jealous rages usually with Ranma as ground zero. So tell me, do you fight like that when Ranma is a girl."
Ukyo looked at the floor and nudged it with a foot "No Maam"
Shampoo had a shamed look on her face as well "No"
Even Akane looked away as she answered "Well no, but then I think we all prefer Ranma as a guy, it's hard to fight each other over a girl."
The other two nodded in agreement but Shampoo only slightly
"Well then," Cologne grinned "it seems like there is no more reason to fight now that Ranma has chosen to be a girl."
"Um, Auntie Nodoka?" Kasumi raised her hand and asked the big question on everyone's mind "How long will Ranma stay a girl?"
Nodoka gave a large sigh "At least as long as she feels safe in girl form. So it could be only for a little while or it could be forever."
At this Genma began to once again wail about his unmanly son and how disrespectful he was to stay a girl and not honor the marriage to Akane. It was at this point that Nodoka's already strained patience with her husband had finally snapped and she chased him out of the hospital at sword point with Soun in hot pursuit begging her to spare his friend's life
Cologne just shook her head wondering why Nodoka just didn't enforce that suicide contract she had with that worthless male of hers. Then Cologne herded the rest of the group out of the hospital and headed them towards home, than she returned to Ranma's room and began to chant stories of great Amazon warriors figuring that it couldn't hurt and that Ranma might somehow retain what she was trying to teach her in her sleep. Besides Cologne sighed, if she did one more sudoku puzzle her brain would fry and her eyeballs would fall out.
Nodoka sat beside Ranma's hospital bed holding her hand and thinking about the last several days. The very first night that Ranma was in the hospital, Cologne returned from the washroom to discover Mousse, badly disguised as a nurse, repeatedly stabbing the large overstuffed chair by the bed with a Chinese longsword while screaming out "Die Saotome Die!" needless to say that the rather vain Mousse was not wearing his glasses at the time. The result of this action found Mousse locked into duck form a victim of the Cat's Tongue, locked into a cage and shipped back to the Amazon village via UPS 2 day delivery to stand trail and face punishment for disobeying an Elder who just happened to be the village matriarch and for attacking a person under Amazon protection.
Shampoo was joyous with the news of Mousse's forced deportation at least until the next day when She, Ukyo and Akane were all banned from the hospital for brawling in the waiting room. While there was no word of Mousse's fate, the village did send three rather striking yet large warriors to guard Ranma's room and prevent such silliness from occurring again. They showed up on day three of Ranma's hospital stay.
Nodoka felt a tear form in her eye when she looked at the large ball of soft bandages and tape that had been placed over both of her daughter's hands as well as the restraints around her wrists that held her arms down by her side. During the night of day two of her stay, she had a nightmare and tried to pull out all her various tubes and to rip out the sutures in her throat. Even in her weakened mostly asleep state it still took several nurses to pin her down while another nurse pumped her full of a strong sedative. She had been under the sedative ever since. On a good note though, the dosage was high enough to put her into a deep enough sleep to keep the nightmares away.
On day three Nodoka came to a hard decision about her future and life and wandered off to consult a lawyer and gather the needed paperwork. She returned to find the three statuesque Amazons guarding her daughter. It should be noted that the Amazons in their war leathers caused several nosebleeds which led to the girls being forced to find something more appropriate to wear. They showed back up a little while later having apparently plundered a hentai costume shop of its nursing uniforms. The vast number of nosebleeds this choice of clothing caused led to the staff giving each girl a set of hospital scrubs to wear. This idea worked rather well although giving the fact that the scrubs were a bit tight in places and still managed to cause a few nosebleeds, the hospital staff decided to just deal with it because no one wanted to be the one to tell the Amazons that they had to leave.
Day four saw Nodoka sitting Genma down at the Tendo family table and pushing several pieces of paper towards him. The first being an old well worn contract with his signature on it, as well as a yellow hand print done in finger paints. This paper cause Genma to break out in a cold sweat. The second paper was actually two papers, one was a declaration of divorce and the other gave Nodoka full custody of Ranma, who despite being one of the best martial artists in the world, was still a minor. Genma tried to bluff and huff his way out of the situation only to be reminded by Nodoka's katana that he only had two options. Noon found a newly single Genma being escorted from the Tendo home by his best friend who for once wasn't crying a river of tears and said best friend's trio of lovely daughters all wishing him the best of luck with his new life. A little later, Nodoka picked up the phone and finally made a call that had only taken her eleven years to make.
Day five led to the discovery that the news of Ranma's hospital stay had finally reached the ears of the student body of Furinken High School. Soon Ranma's room was filled with all manner of balloons, flowers and cards. Thankfully only a small number of the cards were obscene in nature but what they said made Nodoka see red and she was suddenly glad that she had made the choices she had.
The evening of day five brought a new visitor by the name of Ryoga Hibiki who somehow found his way there by total accident and was truly shocked to discover that Ranma was in Intensive care. He stayed besides the bed for a few minutes trying to decide whether to crow in rapturous joy in Ranma's defeat or be sad that he wasn't the one who put Ranma in the hospital in the first place. This lead Ryoga to make several rather rude comments about Ranma finally getting his just deserts, which unfortunately, Nabiki, who was visiting at the time and was currently sitting unnoticed in a chair behind Ryoga, over heard. After scaring the lost boy out of several years of life, Nabiki picked up the phone and called home, telling Kasumi that Operation: Pork Sausage was a go. The next time P-chan showed up at the Tendo home, it would be his last. She then laughed as she watched the rapidly shrinking form of Ryoga running off into the distance.
On day six, word had gotten around school that Ranma was currently in the hospital in female form, this lead to a sudden influx of stuffed animals of every shape and kind being sent to Ranma's room, because every girl knows that when you're feeling sick or down, nothing beats hugging a stuffed animal. There was also an increase in obscene cards, some of which contained some rather interesting offers. Nabiki tracked down the names and addresses of those particular senders and gave the info to the Amazons guarding Ranma; needless to say those kinds of cards soon stopped arriving. However, what arrived next was much much worse. Tatewaki Kuno, having heard that his pigtailed girl was in the hospital rushed right over and immediately tried to get Ranma transferred to a place where she would receive top notch personal care, namely the Kuno family mansion. Kuno got a room of his own right after the Amazons got finished using him as a practice dummy. By the time Ranma was released from the hospital Tatewaki had been given another room next to his sister as it had become readily noticeable to everyone that he was more than a bit touched in the head.
Day seven saw Ranma still in the hospital and found Nodoka having decided that enough was enough, on the phone yet again making several long distance calls. The few bits of conversation that Kasumi had managed to overhear had begun to cause her some worry.
Now it was day eight, Nodoka was sitting beside Ranma looking at the bandages wrapping her daughter's hands and thinking about the new life ahead of them.
It would be two more weeks before Ranma was finally able to leave the hospital and return to the Tendo dojo.
Ranma stood looking at the gates that lead to the Tendo dojo while her mother paid the cab driver. While it was good to be out of the hospital and back to the closest place she could call home, she would have given everything to just be able to tell someone how good it felt. In her left hand she held two large plastic bags which contained her collection of get well cards and the few stuffed animals that she liked, she donated the rest of the animals to the hospital's pediatric ward.
Held tightly against her body by her right arm, Ranma hugged a larger teddy bear. It was an older bear and had signs of wear caused by years of similar such hugs. One eye was missing and it seemed to have been repaired and restuffed many times over the years. It was sitting on Ranma's hospital bed when she finally opened her eyes. Attached to the bear by a length of blue silk ribbon was a note that brought a small tear to Ranma's eye as she read it.
This is Mr. Beartlby; he is a close friend and confidant
While he doesn't offer much advice, he's a great listener
And keeper of secrets and late night confessions
He's also pretty good at chasing away nightmares.
I'm loaning him to you so that you will remember
That even if you think you are alone, you're not
You have at least two friends willing to be there
For you when you need us.
Your Secret Friend
PS: I bet you can't guess who wrote this not even for a million yen
Ranma clutched the old slightly raggedy bear as if it were the most valuable possession she had, and in truth it was, it being the proof that Ranma had friends after all.
Kasumi opened the main door to the house just as Ranma reached for the doorknob.
"Ranma!" the very happy Kasumi cried out as she swept the rather startled red head up in a spine cracking hug. "I'm glad that you are finally back."
Ranma awkwardly tried to return the hug which proved difficult as Kasumi had Ranma's arms pinned and Ranma was still holding her bags and clutching her bear. Then her attention was caught by the sound of several pairs of feet rapidly approaching her from various directions.
"Hey Ranma, I see they finally sprung you." Nabiki called out as she entered the room and soon had Ranma in a hug of her own.
Meanwhile Kasumi noticed the bear held protectively in Ranma's arm and smiled in a very pleasant way as she recognized the bear.
Akane soon ran into the room followed by Soun, both came to a sudden stop at the sight of Ranma, Akane stopped because of the large white bandage she saw still wrapped around Ranma's throat while Soun stopped because he realized that his future son in law was at present a very beautiful young woman.
Akane approached Ranma as if she were walking on eggshells and she gingerly reached out and touched the large bandage. "Are you alright Ranma?" she asked with a slightly quivering voice "Does it still hurt?"
Ranma shook her head and opened her mouth as if to say something but a look of frustration soon shown on her face as no sound came out at all. Then she pointed to her throat and made a little pinching motion with her thumb and forefinger, having dropped the bags between squeezes from Kasumi and Nabiki, a gesture that Akane understood to mean that Ranma was in some pain but not a whole lot of it."
At this point Soun finally regained his senses "Akane, help Ranma take his things up to his room."
Watching the two head up the stairs Nodoka was about to get upset at Soun for using masculine terms for her daughter when Soun turned to her and asked a question with a look of desperation in his voice
"Ranma is still in girl form? How long will you let him go on as such?"
"Soun Tendo," Nodoka made no attempt to cover the angry tinge to her voice "Ranma may stay in her female form for as long as she likes, even if it is forever."
"But Nodoka," Soun was beginning to whine now as the first hint of tears began to form. "What about the schools? They must be joined; it was the agreement between our families."
"More like an agreement between you and Genma." She barked back in an angry reply "Have you watched how Ranma and Akane interact with each other?"
The older Tendo sisters stood watching the brewing argument with fascination, both realizing that something major was about to occur. They both found themselves silently nodding in agreement with Nodoka as she continued her rant at a now quivering Soun.
"Your daughter is an abuser with no control over her temper. She attacks Ranma without just cause. You saw the recording that Nabiki made of the attack on Ranma by that Kuno girl, the only person Akane attacked WAS Ranma who was busy trying to escape at the time and offered no resistance."
Nodoka was just getting warmed up as she unleashed another verbal assault on poor Soun "She has no domestic skills to speak of. She can not even cook despite repeated attempts by Kasumi and myself to teach her. She can not manage money or run a household and she has yet to prove to me that she can even clean a house."
"But the schools." Soun squeaked out earning him a deadly glare from Nodoka
"Oh please spare me Soun." She rolled her eyes "What have you really taught your daughter about Anything Goes? Outside of focusing her anger to increase her brute strength and that hidden mallet technique, she knows nothing of the true style. She's merely a common brawler Soun not a martial artist at all."
"But Genma promised…." was all that Soun managed to get out before Nodoka was in his face, her voice dripping with acidic venom as she spoke about Genma.
"Promised what Soun?" she practically hissed "Promised you a marriage between Ranma and one of your daughters? A promise just like he made to Ukyo's father? Or like he made to what is the count now, four other families?"
"Actually it's seven other families so far." Nabiki offered, Nodoka gave her a pleasant smile in return as thanks
"And shall we include the various pimps and whorehouses that he sold Ranma to?" At this Nodoka stopped to catch her breath. "Now Soun, as you know, any agreement with Genma Saotome no longer applies to Ranma and myself since I have divorced him and removed our names from the Saotome family register. We are part of my own family again now that I have been forgiven for forsaking my honor and marrying Genma."
Realizing the truth of her words Soun gave up in defeat. "What will the two of you do now Nodoka?"
"With your permission, I'd like us to stay here for a week or two while Ranma regains some strength, by that time my business elsewhere will be taken care of and we will leave Nerima and start a new life far away."
"You're both leaving us?" Kasumi and Nabiki both mouthed in shock.
"Yes, I'm sorry but it must be this way." Nodoka gave each girl a sad glance; she truly did like them both. "Were Ranma to remain in Nerima, it will be only a matter of time before the craziness of her old life returns to haunt her. Besides as Nabiki has already mentioned, seven wanna be suitors have already found Ranma here, I plan on taking her far away before another one appears, one who is willing to use more physical means to acquire her."
Even Soun had to admit that this was a good idea "But will you not even consider a marriage between Ranma and Akane?"
"Soun, we do not know how long Ranma will remain a girl; according to Cologne she might stay this way for the rest of her life. Not really a good base for a legal marriage." Nodoka gave a wry smile than frowned "And until she learns to keep her temper and her mallet to herself I am not willing to allow Akane to have a relationship with Ranma."
This time Nodoka cast an approving look towards the older Tendo girls "However, you do still have two very acceptable daughters who if they wanted a chance to get to know Ranma better, I would allow it."
At those words Kasumi blushed and Nabiki suddenly saw something of interest on the floor but they both had smiles on their faces.
"But however," Nodoka went on gaining the attention of all three. "There will be no arranged marriages; it must be mutually desired by both parties."
As Nodoka began to head to the stairs to join Ranma she turned and looked back at the group of Tendos. "Before we leave, I'll be inviting Ukyo and Shampoo over to tell them what I've just told you and I also insist that you allow me to cover our expenses between now and the time we leave." She held up a hand to stop any argument "Think of it as our way of saying thank you for putting up with Genma for so long." With that she headed up the stairs.
Ranma sat on her futon, looking at the open space where Genma's futon had once been. She was still in a state of shock from all the sudden changes that have taken place in her life.
It's hard to believe that I won't ever be able to talk again Ranma thought to herself as she hugged Mr. Beartlby in a tight hug and as the tears fell slowly down her face. I can't talk. I can't use my special techniques. As a martial artist I'm finished Cologne had talked to her at length after Ranma had woken up and told her how with practice that there should be no reason why Ranma couldn't master the techniques to use her attacks without having to call them out first. Ranma was certainly determined to try to learn how but she had her doubts that it would work.
Ranma looked through her tears at the room around her. It's hard to believe that Momma finally divorced Pops. I guess I'm not a Saotome any more, neither is Momma.
Ranma took a big sniffle guess I'm a Fujihara now. Momma said that we are gonna be movin away in a bit and I'll have to go to a new school which Ranma really didn't want to think about because since she had missed so much school due to her injury, she'd have to repeat her second year of high school. I wonder if I have to wear a uniform at my new school? she wondered
Ranma suddenly looked down at her large chest and gave a silent gasp as her eyes widened Oh Crap! I bet I'm gonna have to wear one of them mini skirt things!
Ranma's eyes rolled up into her head and she fell over like a stone, out cold.
Nodoka opened the door to Ranma's room and noticed her asleep on her futon. "The poor child gets tired so easily these days, best to let her sleep." She gave a warm smile when she noticed that Ranma was still hugging her bear.
Akane watched Nodoka as she walked back down the stairs and then she walked across the hall to the door to Ranma's room. Cracking the door open just enough to get a good peek, she watched as the red haired martial artist lay sleeping. Silent sobs shook Akane as she kept watching Ranma, she had heard every word that Nodoka had said to her father and she was currently having a hard time finding any thing to disagree with.
Even she had to admit that she had become more abusive towards Ranma. Akane stood there watching Ranma's sleeping form, taking in the sights of the red haired girl's curvaceous body and realized that she was more than a bit jealous.
"Damn him," she snarled in silent frustration "He's a better martial artist than me, he can cook and he even has a better figure than I do." It was hard for her to hate Ranma however because even as she was grumbling about how much better at things Ranma was, she was recalling all the many times that he had come to her rescue or had gone out of his way to help others, even those people who wanted to hurt him or worse. It was true that Ranma had more than his fair share of faults but many of those could be easily explained from his having been raised by his slug of a father. Akane could forgive Ranma of his many mistakes even though they angered her at times but she did have to admit that most of the times that she had hit Ranma it had been her own fault.
Akane shuddered when she realized how easy it had become to blame Ranma, to hit him or take out her frustrations on him. It didn't help that he allowed her to do so without so much as lifting a finger to defend himself.
"It was easy because Ranma was safe," she said sadly to herself. "I know that'd he would never hit me, hell he don't even like to hit me when we spar." She wiped the tears from her eyes "I always knew that Ranma would never hit me back no matter what I did to him."
It took the youngest Tendo girl a few moments to admit that while he was annoying as hell, he was a good person and with some love and guidance would make a pretty good husband. She would have happily married Ranma she admitted to herself if only their stupid fathers had not been so pushy, always hatching some new scheme to marry the two off.
"If we only had a year of peace together, I'm sure we'd have our own happily ever after." She gave one last soft sigh and returned to her room "But now it's over, I love you Ranma but I don't think I can be with you if you're going to stay a girl, I'm not like that."
Her last thought as she closed the door to her room "Auntie was right, I don't deserve to be in a relationship with you Ranma."
The next couple weeks flew by for Ranma in a blurry haze of activities. There was a ton of paperwork to get finished, including the closing on the new house she would share with her Mother far away in Kyoto. Ranma was also busy with therapy to help her regain her strength. When she could, she would sneak out to the dojo and try to do some kata, but her stamina wasn't quite what it use to be so she could only do a couple before she had to rest.
I kinda miss Pop she suddenly said to herself as she sat on the dojo floor her breath coming out in quick pants. I never really thought I'd be saying that she gave a small smile thinking of all the fights she had gotten into with her father over the years and how she had won the majority of them.
I'm really gonna miss this place, Kasumi and Nabiki too. she scratched the back of her head underneath her pony tail. Kasumi had undid her pigtail while Ranma was still in the hospital saying that it would be easier to take care of Ranma's hair with it free instead of bound up in a pigtail. Ranma just figured that Kasumi simply liked to play with long hair since she was always brushing and playing with Ranma's every time she came to visit at the hospital.
Even now that I'm back here she likes to sit me down and brush out my hair while she talks to me about everything that happened to her during the day. Ranma reached a hand up and played with her pony tail, after all of Kasumi's ministrations, Ranma's hair had become fuller, thicker and more silky. It seemed to have developed a bright glossy shine to its crimson color and Ranma had rapidly come to enjoy the way her hair felt these days.
Ranma thought about her now female body and about how natural it felt to be a girl. Normally boy Ranma would have run off screaming for hot water whenever he'd change into a girl. But after having been a girl for over a month now, it didn't bother her; in fact, the thought of changing into a guy was beginning to get scarier every day. Being a guy again was getting to be an alien concept to her. She didn't even cringe any more when she soaked in the hot furo and didn't change back into a guy. She had to admit to herself that it really was enjoyable not to have to worry about changing gender at the wrong time these days.
Ranma's train of thought was interrupted by the sound of the dojo door opening. Looking up Ranma saw Nabiki standing in the doorway with a smile on her face.
"I figured I'd find you in here Ranma." Nabiki entered the dojo and walked over and sat down next to Ranma, placing a plastic bag on the floor beside her. "Want to talk for a bit?"
Ranma gave her a "ha ha very funny" look as she pointed a finger at the sweaty bandage around her throat. The bandage that she wore to protect a wound that had pretty much healed on its own now. No, she wore the bandage now a days to hide the ragged scar that sliced its way across her throat.
Nabiki gave a small laugh "I know you can't talk Ranma," she poked her in the forehead with a finger "But your brain still works I suppose and you do remember how to write don't you?" As Ranma nodded in a way to show with annoyance that of course she could still write, Nabiki had reached into the plastic bag and pulled a few things out of it and dropped them on a surprised Ranma's lap.
"There you go Ranma-chan. Instant conversation." Nabiki's smile grew broad as Ranma picked the small dry erase board, markers and eraser up from her lap.
Ranma's smile soon rivaled that of Nabiki's when it dawned on her that she now had an easy way to talk to people. In a flash she had Nabiki locked in an Amazon glomp that would have made Shampoo proud. Nabiki's eyes widened in shock for a mere moment than she wrapped her arms around Ranma and held her close as she wept tears of joy for the first time in a long while.
:: This is great Nabiki: Ranma wrote on her new erase board :: I've been going crazy without being able to talk to someone.::
"I'm glad you like it Saotome." Nabiki replied "But you have to work on writing slower and more carefully. Your writing isn't the most readable at times." She frowned when she noticed a sad look cross Ranma's face at the Saotome name.
::Sorry Nabs, I'll work on that.:: a wave of sadness washed over Ranma ::But I'm not a Saotome anymore.::
"Oh yeah, with your mom divorcing that fool of a father of yours I guess you're going to be using her family's name from now on."
Ranma wiped his board clear with a few swipes of his eraser and started to write something new down. ::Yeah i'm a Fujihara now. Hell, I never even heard the name before this and now I'm expected to suddenly be one? I still feel like a Saotome, it's all I've ever known.::
"I understand how you must feel, really I do." Ranma gave Nabiki a look that said that Ranma didn't quite believe that Nabiki understood at all.
Nabiki caught Ranma's eyes in deep gaze. "Right after my mother died Daddy stopped doing much of anything and that meant we had no money coming into the house. The bills went unpaid and there was barely any food in the house."
Seeing that Nabiki was having trouble telling the entire story Ranma reached out and gently took Nabiki's hand. Nabiki smiled at the touch of Ranma's hand on her own and she interlocked their fingers and held on tightly.
"Thanks." She whispered before continuing her story. "Things got pretty bad and someone called Child Protection Services. When they saw how bad things were around here they threatened to take us girls away from Daddy. They were talking about separating us and sending us to new homes."
Ranma's eyes widened in surprise when she heard that.
Nabiki sighed as she continued "The thought of being separated from Kasumi and Akane was very painful. I just knew that we'd be separated and given new last names and we'd never see each other again.
Another sob shook its way through Nabiki's body "I use to think that if that happened than everything thing I had known as a Tendo would be suddenly gone. It would be like mother never existed and I would be forced to become part of a family that I knew nothing about."
She gave the redhead a hug as she looked into the girl's blue eyes "So yes, I know exactly what you are going through."
Then she flashed the girl a brief soft smile "Than Daddy got on the neighborhood committee which brought in some money, Kasumi took over the housework and I started my scams and hustles to get more money for the house. When CPS saw that things were improving they left us together."
"Hey Ranma," Nabiki had a sudden need to change the topic "Are you really ok with all of this? I mean how your life is changing so fast?"
Ranma gave a shrug as she wiped her board clean again and began writing ::Not really much I can do about it I guess. I do kinda miss Pop since he was the only parent I thought I had for so long, even if he was a jerk most of the time.::
Another quick cleaning of the board.
::Actually I'm glad momma divorced him. She deserves a lot better and now that her family has welcomed her back I'm sure her life will be better now.::
"Her life?' Nabiki looked at Ranma with a hint of sadness on her face "It's your life too you know. Her family is your family now. Remember? You're a Fujihara now."
::Only on paper Nabs.:: ::How can I claim to be something that I have no feelings for?::
::Where were they when Pops dragged me all over Asia?:: ::Or when he made me take the nekoken training?::
Ranma furiously wiped her board clean again in swift terse strokes.
::Where were they…….. :: the words were never finished as silent sobs shivered through Ranma's body. After a few moments Ranma to a couple of deep breaths and Nabiki swore she felt a tad chillier. ::I will do or be anything if it will make momma happy:: ::She deserves that much:: ::I'm going to miss everyone, well almost everyone:: She gave a slight smile as she continued writing ::I sure am not going to miss the Kunos or that old lady with the ladle.:: ::I think I need to get something to eat now:: ::You coming Nabs?::
"Right behind you Ranma" Nabiki watched as Ranma wiped her board clean again then got up and headed towards the main house. As she got up to leave she whispered under her breath "You can't hold this back Ranma. You're just killing yourself if you do."
Ranma walked into the kitchen and wrote something on her board, than she gave a slight whistle to catch her mother's attention.
"Oh hello Dear, what can I do for you?" Nodoka turned from the counter where she was chopping vegetables for tonight's dinner when she heard Ranma's whistle. Ranma held up her dry erase board for Nodoka to read.
"Why yes Dear you may have a snack." Nodoka smiled at Ranma using the board. "What a clever idea, where did you get the erase board Ranma?"
Ranma wiped her board clean and wrote down ::Nabiki:: with a smile.
"What a clever girl." Nodoka went back to cutting vegetables while Ranma rummaged through the refrigerator "Yes, I think Nabiki would make a nice wife for Ranma, now if she could only cook." With that Nodoka sighed as she washed the next batch of vegetables to be cut.
The afternoon found Ranma sitting on the roof of the house happily munching on an apple as she watched the clouds and tried not to think about anything in particular. The sound of a window opening and footsteps on the roof caught her attention. She was more than a bit surprised when Akane sat down beside her. The two hadn't really spoken much since the night that Nodoka went off on Soun.
Ranma gave Akane a smile and patted the rooftop next to her. Akane gave Ranma her own smile as she sat down, straightening out her skirt as she did so.
"So how are you doing Ranma?" it was a lame question and they both knew it, but it also helped them start a conversation that they both had been wanting.
Again Ranma gave a small hand wiggle.
"Still good days and bad days huh?" Akane interpreted the gesture.
Ranma answered with a nod and a rueful smile. Than she pulled out her dry erase board and started writing. ::most days I do alright, although I still get depressed pretty easily:: noticing Akane's concerned look she hastily scrawled ::But don't worry, I'm not going to do anything stupid::
Upon reading that Akane relaxed visibly. She had often wondered if Ranma would do something like that.
::It's still hard knowing that I can't use all my special attacks, but at least I know that I'm still a pretty good martial artist:: Ranma gave a small smile as she wrote the last part.
"One of the best Ranma." Ranma was surprised to hear Akane say that but before she could begin writing Akane continued.
"I'm sorry Ranma for everything." Ranma heard the sadness in Akane's voice and the tears that began to wind their way down her cheeks brought pain to Ranma's heart. "I'm sorry that I was jealous at how you're better than me at everything. I'm sorry that I blamed you for everything that ever went wrong in my life. I'm sorry for hitting you all those times."
She sobbed as the tears fell harder now "It's just that I was finally taking control of my life again when you suddenly showed up and our fathers forced us to get engaged. I mean I was the best fighter in school, than suddenly you show up and than Shampoo and Ukyo and suddenly I'm not even considered a fighter any more."
"After mom died I fought so hard to be strong to take care of myself but suddenly you seemed to have always been rescuing me. I really hated that you had to play hero for me, I wanted to take care of myself."
Akane gave a sniffle and shot Ranma a slight smile. "But I'm glad that you did. Most people wouldn't."
"I guess I scared a lot of people with my temper and such." She gave a small almost timid smile "It's funny; I seemed to have gained more friends after the only one I hit became you. You even kept those baka boys in the Hentai Horde away from me."
"But now you're going to be leaving and everything is going to go right back to the way it was before you came here." Akane gave a short ragged chuckle "I'll get my old life back and you'll get a brand new one."
Ranma took up her dry erase board and began writing as Akane watched. ::Once Akane, all I wanted was to watch over and protect you from all the bad things in the world::
::I thought I might even have loved you then. But all the hitting and anger and mistrust and fighting is just too much for me anymore. Besides, you can't really love me like this can you?:: Ranma gestured at her female body as she showed Akane what she had written.
Akane blinked her eyes trying to stop a slow flow of tears but with little success as she read Ranma's words. "Once Ranma, I thought we might have been able to be happy but I realized finally that you would always have your curse. I think I could fall in love with your boy side very easily, but I would never feel that way about your girl side."
Akane sighed as she watched Ranma's shoulders slump. "I'm not a lesbian Ranma and the thought of touching you in an intimate way when you are a girl makes me very uncomfortable. You deserve more than someone who can only love you half the time."
Akane placed a hand on Ranma's shoulder "Perhaps its best that you stay a girl full time, especially since your curse won't permit you to become a full time boy anymore. I'm certain that out there in the world." She swept her hand outward in a large arc "Is the perfect someone just for you."
Akane leaned in close to Ranma's ear and whispered in a rather leering tone "I bet he'll be the most handsome boy you'll ever meet and he'll sweep you off your feet, just like in a fairy tale."
Ranma scurried back away from Akane, her hands making warding gestures as her face broke out in a look filled with dread No! No guys! Anything but that! frantically filled Ranma's thoughts.
Akane stared stunned for a moment before she understood why Ranma was reacting in such a way "Still a boy on the inside huh Ranma?"
Ranma nodded vigorously in agreement.
"Well then, maybe it'll be a hot bisexual girl who carries you away?" Akane grinned at the relief appearing on Ranma's face
Before Akane could continue teasing Ranma Kasumi's voice called them to come down to the living room as Ranma's mother wanted to talk with everyone.
Neither of them noticed, as they climbed down from the roof, Nabiki sitting behind a barely opened window apparently eavesdropping in on their conversation. "Well well," Nabiki thought to herself "Akane has removed herself from the Fiancee Brigade." She would think more about this later as she heard Kasumi calling for her as well.
Everyone made their way to the living room and Akane and Ranma pulled up suddenly when they noticed Ukyo and the Amazons were already sitting there waiting for them. Kasumi soon appeared and began passing out cups of tea to everyone while Ranma and the two younger Tendo sisters found places to sit. Nodoka entered with a tray of finger snacks and than stepped back so that she could see everyone and so that they could see her as well.
"I'd like to welcome everyone here," she began "I'd like to take this time to let you all know of how Ranma's progressing and of our future plans."
Everyone was paying strict attention to Nodoka as she continued talking "First off, Ranma's therapy is proceeding quite well." She sent a smile towards her daughter who was blushing a bit from being the center of attention. "As for her hands, the doctor was right when he said that she would probably see some weakening in her grip. There has been some but it is relatively minor."
Everyone was relieved to hear that news.
"And the wound to Ranma's throat has healed up very well. However she will have a very nasty scar for the rest of her life." Everyone noticed that Ranma was playing with the large bandage wrapped around her throat. "And the tests did confirm that Ranma has permanently loss her ability to speak and will never get it back."
This news brought out a round soft sympathies and offered support to the girl who just hung her head and wished that everyone would just look somewhere else for a while.
"With some good news however, Ranma's MRI and CAT scan show that luckily there is no sign of brain damage." Nodoka smiled as everyone expressed their joy at the news.
Nodoka's face than turned serious as she looked at the gathered girls and with a nod from Cologne took a deep breath and continued. "As for Ranma's curse."
This was the big question on everyone's mind and they all leaned in to hear, except for Ranma and Cologne both of whom stood up and walked up next to Nodoka.
"Having consulted with Elder Cologne, Dr. Tofu and several other renowned experts on Jusenkyo curses and agreeing with their analysis." She reached out a placed her arm around Ranma's shoulder, drawing her in for a supportive hug. "Ranma's curse is in fact locked and as for now, Ranma is a girl."
This brought out gasps from Ukyo and Shampoo but Nodoka noticed that Akane was strangely quiet.
Ukyo spoke up with concern in her voice "But how long will Ranma stay a girl, only for a little while right?"
Nodoka gave the girl a sympathetic filled smile "We don't know for sure Ukyo, but it is agreed that she will probably be a girl for a long time, possibly even forever."
"This is why I have called you all together to let you know of our future plans." Nodoka looked over the faces of everyone, watching her in rapt attention.
"First off, all previous engagements or proposed marriages or sales or other such nonsense concerning Ranma are hereby null and void."
At this announcement both Ukyo and Shampoo were up on their feet protesting very loudly.
"But Genma stole my dowry!" Ukyo yelled "My father won't let me return home without either marrying Ranma or killing him."
"Shampoo no give up on Airen! Airen is Shampoo's husband." The Amazon's lavender eyes drew up into harsh slits and she seemed on the verge of attacking Nodoka until a swift crack on her head by a wooden staff sent her collapsing back on the couch.
"Listen here Shan Pu," Cologne told her in a very stern firm voice, the sound of which caused Shampoo to seemingly freeze in place. "I agree with Nodoka on this. Ranma is simply in no shape to join the tribe." This made Shampoo's eyes widen in surprise, surely her Great Grandmother wasn't giving up on her Airen?
"Ranma has many hard trials to face before she can regain most of what her injury has taken from her." Cologne shook her head sadly as the tears began to form in her Great Granddaughter's eyes. "We can not force her to come back to the village and in truth; in her weakened state the village would not accept her. We must give her time to grow stronger but we can not do that if you are here to cling to her and interrupt her healing."
"But Great Grandmother, Shampoo love Airen with all her heart!" the lavender hair Amazon cried out as she threw herself into Cologne's arms and began weeping loudly.
Ranma could only watch as Shampoo broke down into tears in front of her. She had to admit that she wanted to go over and wrap the crying Amazon up in a comforting hug and hold her until her tears stopped. But that would be the same as accepting becoming her Airen and Ranma wasn't ready to move to the Amazon village. "Yet," she mentally said to herself "perhaps someday."
Soun Tendo began to rise up to declare that Ranma must marry Akane when the girl put her hand up and motioned for him to sit back down. She than approached Nodoka and Ranma and reached out to take Ranma's hand.
"I know our fathers agreed to marry us together and I know that I care for you more than almost anyone else in the world." Akane smiled at Ranma who smiled back and clasped her hand tighter, knowing what the girl was going to say.
"If we could have had some time alone, just us, without plotting fathers or nosy sisters or jealous fiancées, I would have loved you with all my heart. But we never got that time and you also know that I can not fall in love with another woman."
Akane took a deep breath, the warm look in Ranma's eyes said that she knew what she meant and that she supported Akane's decision. "I'm not a lesbian nor am I bisexual, I could never be intimate with you as a woman Ranma, so I could only really desire you half as much as you deserve. I'm sorry, but I am negating the agreement between our families. Go and enjoy your new life Ranma." Akane gave Ranma a warm hug and a soft kiss on the cheek.
Ranma pulled out her dry erase board and wrote ::Are we still friends Akane?::
Akane read the words and smiled "Of course you baka," she laughed "You'll always be my best friend." Then she giggled "and the Maid of Honor at my wedding someday as I'll be at yours."
Ranma stuck her tongue out at Akane for suggesting that Ranma would be married someday but than they both broke into huge smiles and hugged each other again.
Everyone smiled at the touching scene although Soun was still spilling tears everywhere knowing that the schools really would never be joined.
Ukyo stepped forward and looked sheepishly at the ground "Ummm Ran-chan, are you really going to be a girl for a while?"
Ranma wrote a quick reply ::Yeah, it looks that way.:: :;to be honest, I kind of got use to it::
Ukyo gave a big sigh before she spoke "than I have to agree with everything Akane said." She gave Ranma a small smile "I would have loved you a lot but I too am not really into girls and I don't think that I could do anything with your girl form either."
She gave another smile as she looked down into Ranma's eyes "I guess I'm taking my name off of the Fiancee Brigade as well. We can still be friends right?" Ukyo looked between Ranma and Nodoka who smiled and replied "Of course you can dear. In fact I hope you will stay Ranma's friend, she's going to need all the support she can get."
Shampoo removed herself from Cologne's arms and faced Ranma "Shampoo not care if Airen boy or girl, Airen is too too cute as either one. Shampoo go back to village but never give up on Airen." She walked up to Ranma and pulled Ranma's hand up between her breasts over her heart and placed her own hand over Ranma's heart. Both actions caused the redhead to blush a shade of red brighter than her own hair.
"Airen always here inside Shampoo and Shampoo always inside Airen. Be with you everywhere." The thought made Ranma silently giggle and even Shampoo grinned. "Someday when you strong warrior again, you come to village and Shampoo give you good good life."
Shampoo locked eyes with Ranma as she drew her in for a tight hug, "But if Airen not come to village, Shampoo still wait for Airen, because Shampoo will love Airen forever."
Shampoo then leaned her face down towards the smaller Ranma and gave her a passionate kiss filled with her love that went on for several moments.
Several people in the room watched the kiss stunned by what they saw. A couple were jealous and wanted to be the one kissing Ranma and Soun sat there with blood gushing out his nose. Nodoka and Cologne merely stood there with gentle smiles on their faces.
Finally Shampoo broke this kiss and let a stunned but smiling Ranma fall back into her mother's arms where she blinked for a few moments before regaining her senses.
WOW was all she could think.
After helping her daughter regain her footing Nodoka turned back towards everyone. "In two days the purchase of our new home in Kyoto will be final and Ranma and myself will be moving there. I will of course give you our new address but only if you promise not to tell it, or sell it." Nodoka shot a quick glare at Nabiki who had the good grace to look embarrassed "to anyone. One of the reasons that we are moving is to keep unwanted people away from Ranma as she regains her strength. Since my divorce from Genma, neither of us will be using the Saotome name anymore so if anyone should appear looking for a Ranma Saotome or looking to fulfill a deal made for Ranma by Genma than tell them that there is no Ranma Saotome and that they have been swindled by Genma."
"You know Auntie," Nabiki spoke up "That could get Genma in some serious hot water."
"I certainly hope it does Nabiki." Nodoka sneered with ice in her voice. "How dare he try to use my child to barter for his own comfort?"
Even Nabiki and Soun had to shiver at that even though they knew she was right.
Nodoka continued "Our new house has an extra guest room so you all are invited to come visit and in fact I expect you all to do so, frequently."
Nodoka smiled than her face turned serious "And finally, as Ranma has chosen to live as a girl I must ask that you treat her and talk to her as a girl. I do not mind that Ranma wishes to be a girl, but she will live as a proper girl, not as a boy pretending to be a girl. Do you all understand?"
Everyone nodded their agreement.
"Good. Tomorrow night I invite you all to be our guest at our final dinner here in Nerima as we'll leave early the following morning."
Everyone voiced up that of course they'll be there and the offers from Ukyo, Shampoo and Kasumi to help cook were all gracefully declined by Nodoka who said that everything was taken care of. With that everyone said their goodnights and went home.
The following day saw the Tendo home abuzz with activity as caterers hired by Nodoka prepared a rather large and fancy meal and as decorators turned the house into an elegant setting for the dinner.
Kasumi was a bit bothered by all the strange people invading her house and intruding into her kitchen but as the time went by even she began to anticipate the event to come. It was certainly shaping up to be an affair to remember. With a smile she headed up to her room to try and decide on something appropriate to wear. The same thing in fact that her other sisters were struggling with.
Nodoka made sure that everything was in order with the meal and that the decorators knew what she wanted than she took Ranma out for some mother daughter time. First she took her somewhat bewildered daughter out to shop for something nice to wear for tonight's dinner and for some other items that Ranma needed to wear underneath her new dress. Nodoka certainly got a few chuckles as she watched her daughter turn bright red as they entered the store and she realized just to what department her mother was taking her.
Dragging her still blushing daughter behind her Nodoka then took Ranma for her first visit to a spa where after an enjoyable soak and massage Ranma had her first manicure and pedicure.
Ranma really wasn't too sure how to feel about the whole experience, part of her screamed in her mind that she was a guy and that this was way to girly and very unmanly. Fortunately that was just a very small voice as the rest of her rather enjoyed everything, although getting her nails polished was a bit embarrassing at first but it was nicely done.
As the time for starting the dinner was approaching and everyone was putting on their last minute touch ups Nodoka was with Ranma trying to convince her daughter that a little make up would do wonders at enhancing her already natural beauty. It was not an easy task as Ranma was very reluctant to wear any.
"Now Ranma," Nodoka said to her daughter who was currently looking at a foundation brush like it was an instrument of torture. "This is not going to hurt at all, it simply evens out your skin tone and to be honest you don't even need that much."
Ranma gave her a doubtful look and pointed at the rest of the cosmetics sitting in front of her mother.
Nodoka gave a small sigh and took hold of Ranma's hand "Look Ranma, I am not asking that you wear it every day. In fact with your natural looks you should hardly wear any at all. But you are determined to live your life as a girl are you not?"
Ranma gave a shy nod in the affirmative.
"Than there will be times like these that are a more formal occasion," Nodoka squeezed Ranma's hand in a reassuring way "When a girl likes to just enhance her look to show a bit more of her beauty. And it will go a long way to convincing everyone that you truly are a girl and not just a boy pretending."
Ranma thought about this for a moment before giving her mother a slight nod and sitting back down facing her mother. Before Nodoka could start Ranma had picked up her dry erase board and wrote ::I trust you momma but please not too much::
Nodoka gave her a reassuring smile "Of course dear, a true lady never wears more than is necessary."
Nabiki came down stairs wearing a classic black cocktail dress with matching black strapped heels. To be honest she was enjoying the chance to dress up a bit and was looking forward to seeing how everyone else dressed.
Kasumi smiled at her younger sister as she smoothed her own dress. It was a nice light blue in color that ended just above her knees allowing everyone a chance to see that Kasumi had a very nice pair of shapely legs. The effect was enhanced even more by her heels. She wore her hair loose and it flowed down to just above the middle of her back. Some earrings and a small gold necklace were the finishing touches.
"Wow Kasumi," Nabiki grinned as she looked her sister over. "Who would have thought that there was such a hot babe hidden under that frumpy house dress you always wear?"
"It is not frumpy, just comfortable." Kasumi gave a playful pout "But it is very nice to be able to dress up nicely."
A knock at the door caught the attention of the two girls but before they could move to get it a male voice called out "I'll get it."
The girls stared in amazement when they realized that the voice belonged to their father and that he too had dressed up rather stylish. A fresh dress shirt and a tie worn with a pair of dark slacks and brown loafers gave Soun a rather striking image and he was every bit the gracious host as he opened the door and escorted a slightly blushing Ukyo into the living room.
"Why Ukyo-san," Soun said in mild wonderment. "You look very nice."
"Thank you Sir." Ukyo managed to mumble, feeling a little self conscious in her own cocktail dress which was unlike Nabiki's black one, a quiet shade of green with some gold trim around the neck and sleeves.
The Tendo girls exchanged pleasantries with Ukyo and there were kind comments all around about each others dresses.
Akane came bounding down the stairs in a nice pale yellow print dress. She wandered over to say hello to Ukyo after being informed that the caterers really did not need any more help in the kitchen.
A few minutes later another knock at the front door was answered by Akane who stood looking in surprise as the two Amazons made their way into the house.
Cologne hopped into the house atop her customary wooden staff but everyone could see that she was wearing a very nice embroidered robe. Shampoo caught everyone's attention as she entered the living room by wearing a red silk knee length Chinese style dress decorated with flowers done in dark red embroidery and sporting a slit up the side that showed off a well defined leg.
As a server from the caterer passed around drinks everyone couldn't help but notice how strange it felt not only to be dressed up but not to be involved in some kind of melee with each other.
Akane was the first to speak up "It sure is strange having everyone here and nobody's fighting or screaming."
"Or breaking up the house." Nabiki added.
"Is true." Shampoo agreed "Is nice not fighting at least this time."
Everyone shared a quiet laugh then all turned to look as they heard the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs. Everyone gazed in wonder as Nodoka came down the stairs wearing a very traditional silk kimono, her hair and make up done in a moderate manner that high lighted her beauty. She entered the room with a grace and fluid of motion that few had ever seen.
"I can see where your daughter gets her looks and grace from." Cologne said with a smile.
Nodoka return the smile with a gentle one of her own "Thank you Elder."
"Speaking of my Great Granddaughter where is the girl?" Cologne asked.
"She should be coming down any moment now." Nodoka replied as footsteps could be heard coming down the stairs.
All eyes turned as Ranma made her way to the bottom of the staircase and as one everyone held their breath at the beauty that had entered into their midst. Ranma wore her long red hair unbound and it flowed down her back like a wave stopping just at the middle of her back. Her beauty was enhanced by just the right amount of make up. The fact that she was wearing any make up at all was noticed by a couple of rather surprised individuals. She wore a knee length dress dark green in color that showed off her curves and just a playful bit of cleavage. High heeled shoes and a gold anklet help emphasize her legs. The only thing that marred the overall effect was the bright white bandage that she wore around her neck.
As she reached the bottom step Shampoo quickly stepped forward and offered her a hand and escorted her into the living room.
"Airen is too too beautiful." Shampoo said in soft wonderment "Airen make us all jealous." That comment brought out a round of soft laughter.
Akane stepped up as Ranma entered the living room and spoke "If there was anyone who could get me interested in women, it sure would be you tonight."
Ranma blushed at the comment which Ukyo quickly agreed with. Soon Ranma found herself being complimented on her appearance, something that made her slightly uncomfortable but fortunately before she reached the end of her tolerance it was announced that dinner was served.
This time Nabiki stepped forward and escorted Ranma to her chair, earning Nabiki a small glare from Shampoo who had wanted to do the honor.
The whole time this was going on Cologne was watching everyone's reactions and was rather surprised by a few things. It did seem as though the chef and youngest Tendo girl had indeed given up on their claims to Ranma but it appeared to the Elder that the middle Tendo daughter was interested in making her own claim on the little redhead, something that would probably bother Shampoo greatly. Cologne decided to keep a close eye on the two to make sure that nothing escalated between them.
After everyone was seated the first course arrived and soon all were enjoying a fine feast and exchanging pleasant conversation. Everyone except Ranma that is, she simply kept looking around and remembering all the things she had experienced with everyone over the last year or so. She even admitted to herself that it certainly felt weird without Mousse and Ryoga being there but Mousse's fate was of yet unknown and Ryoga hadn't been seen since his visit to Ranma's hospital room. Ranma just figured that the lost boy was simply out there trying to figure out some new technique that might allow him to beat her. Ranma however certainly didn't miss either of the Kuno siblings and would be very pleased if she never saw either of them again.
Course after course of wonderful food was served and everyone was certainly enjoying themselves. It was just after dessert was served that Nodoka stood up to say a few words. Everyone watched her with expectant eyes as all conversation ceased.
"I'd like to take a moment and on behalf of Ranma and myself to thank you all again for coming to tonight's dinner." That was met by a scattering of happy remarks from everyone.
"While it is sad that this will be the last night that we all will be gathered together like this possibly for a long time." Nodoka said with a touch of sadness in her voice "We are both very thankful for this time to share with you all."
"For all the memories, mostly good ones," Nodoka gave a small grin "and for all the adventures that we all shared we both are most grateful." The look of sadness retuned to her face "But as you all know, Nerima can get rather chaotic at times and it seems to center on Ranma."
The others nodded in agreement knowing full well how craziness seemed to go out of its way to find Ranma.
"And so far seven would be suitors have appeared each having a claim on Ranma due to a deal they had made with Genma." A scowl crossed Nodoka's face as she said her ex-husband's name. "And while we have deterred them from their pursuits of fulfilling these deals, they have been getting more determined with each new arrival."
"Since our divorce has become final and with his banishment from Nerima who knows how many more times has Genma sold or traded Ranma to ensure his own greedy comforts?" the scowl deepened as she said that, a scowl that was joined by on the faces of everyone in attendance. "It is only a matter of time before someone appears with the money and power and the willingness to use them to claim Ranma and in her weakened state she will be unable to fight them off."
Nodoka sent a sad look at the attending guests "And we will not be able to stop them either."
Nodoka put up a hand to stop the vigorous protests that were begin to erupt. "Let us be honest, there are only a few of us who are warriors and we are small in number to begin with, we simply can not guard Ranma at every moment." She sighed "Sooner or later we will make a mistake and it might cost Ranma dearly."
"Nerima is simply to dangerous a place for Ranma to stay anymore." Even Ranma had to nod in agreement with this "So we will be leaving tomorrow morning and moving to our new home in Kyoto. There we will be under the protection of my family, the Fujihara clan. They have the money and power to protect us and we will be quite safe there."
Nodoka finally gave everyone a soft smile "I know I speak for Ranma when I say that we will miss you all but do not worry, I'll give you an address you can write to and an email address that we can receive email at, so that we can remain in contact. And as I have said yesterday, we will have an extra room or two so feel free to come by and visit."
With that everyone offered up many promises to write and definitely come visit in the future as much as they could. Cologne than shocked everyone by announcing that she and Shampoo were heading back to China in a couple of days and that she was giving Ukyo most of what was in the Nekohanten.
It was with many tears and lots of hugs that the dinner party ended and everyone soon went their separate ways. Each knowing that while it may be a while before they would all gather together again like tonight, they would in fact do so again in the future.
That night it took Ranma only a little amount of time to finish packing up her belongings since she had so little to begin with. Mostly clothes, several volumes of manga and a collection of photographs taken back in better times. Nabiki took a bunch tonight during dinner and promised to send copies to Ranma as soon as she got settled into her new place.
Having finished her packing, Ranma then spent several hours writing out letters to everyone that she would leave with Kasumi for delivery. She finally put down in words all the things she had wanted to say all this time but was too scared to say out loud.
To Kasumi she sent heartfelt thanks for always taking such good care of her and being there for her no matter what happened. Ranma told her how she was the closest person she'd ever consider as being the older sister she always wanted.
To Akane she told of regrets for past insults and meanness. Of how she regretted never being able to tell Akane the real truth of how she felt and of how much she cared. She also offered Akane some pointers on how to improve her martial arts abilities. And finally she offered Akane undying friendship and a promise to always be best friends.
She also told Akane the truth about Ryoga and explained why she never told Akane about it earlier and why she had agreed to keep Ryoga's secret for him and she asked for Akane's forgiveness.
To Soun she sent gratitude for his hospitalities and asked for forgiveness for not being able to join the schools. She thanked him for his past aid and advice and told him how she had considered him to be a second father to her. She also apologized for the worthless freeloader her father had become.
To Ukyo she offered continued friendship and apologies for not being able to marry her. She told Ukyo about how she always saw Ukyo as being the twin sister that she had always wanted and of how much she loved Ukyo's cooking.
To Cologne Ranma gave humble thank yous for past instructions and lessons taught. For being there to offer advice and aid when needed, not to mention all the free food. What Ranma didn't do however was apologize for not marrying Shampoo or returning with them to the village. "There is still hope." The old ghoul would chuckle when she read her letter late the next day.
To Nabiki Ranma gave forgiveness for all the scams, cons and even the risqué photos that Nabiki had done to her over the past year or so. She also thanked her for the loan of Mr. Beartlby and promised to keep him safe until Nabiki came to Kyoto and asked for him back. She wished Nabiki good luck on her upcoming college entrance exams and hinted that if Nabiki would want to get to know Ranma better, than Ranma would be very happy to oblige.
To Shampoo Ranma asked forgiveness for not marrying her and for not giving them the chance to get to know each other better. She vowed eternal sisterhood and hinted that maybe there could be something more down the road. She did state that she did in fact plan to come to the village in the future, if only to visit if nothing else.
There was even a letter for Kodachi offering forgiveness and friendship only, if Kodachi wanted it. Ranma wished her well and said she would offer prayers for Kodachi's quick recovery and hopes that her life would then go on.
She left nothing for Ryoga, nor for Tatewaki Kuno and especially nothing for Genma.
The sun arose way too soon for everybody's liking as the Tendo's, Ukyo and the Amazons gathered to say tearful farewells and to once again make promises to stay in touch. Tears were on everyone's faces as they watched Ranma stow her pack in the trunk of an awaiting taxi and watched as Ranma and Nodoka entered the taxi.
Ranma waved at them as the cab drove off, her own tears falling silently down her cheeks.
In a few hours the Fujihara girls were sitting in their seats as the bullet train sped them off to their new life in Kyoto. Nodoka read and Ranma slept and dreamed.
End of Part 1
End Notes: Thank you for reading this far, I hope you have enjoyed the story so far. Part two is already underway and tells of Ranma's new life in Kyoto. But Ranma being Ranma means that strange things are bound to occur and when you add in a new school, new friends, romance and the introduction of Ranma's greatest challenge to date, Grandmother Fujihara, things are bound to be interesting if nothing else.