Young Heart

Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma ½.

Chapter 1: First Meeting

He rubbed his eyes to stop the tears from coming but every time he remembers what happened, the tears would come. A few steps later, he tripped and got his knees bruised which made another batch of tears come.

A woman who saw what happened came to the rescue and helped him up. She dusted him and examined the small bruised on his knee cap.

"Oh, don't worry; it's just a small scratch. It would easily heal," she said trying to hush the boy.

The little man stared at her. Then he pouted his lips and said, "Don't treat me like I'm a kid because I'm not. And I'm not crying because I tripped."

His words made her laugh. She had heard those words before and perhaps she had spoken them when she was younger. Now, hearing it again made her realize how childish she had been.

"Ummm… I'm sorry," trying to be serious but when she looked at his adorable face, she couldn't help but smile at him. "So why are you crying then?" she asked to continue the conversation.

"It's none of your business," he answered then continued walking.

The woman stood up and grin at his reply before commenting, "Such big words for a small man."

The boy stopped and glared at her. "I said I'm not a child anymore. I may look like one but I'm not. I'm sixteen years old."

"Really? How did that happen?" she pried.

"It's no use. You still wouldn't believe me. It's not really common, you see," he said lamely while walking.

She walked behind him as she continued to question him. She was enjoying herself immensely with him especially with the manner of talking he did to her. "What is not common?"

"Why don't you just leave me alone?" he somewhat declared and with a little bit of annoyance with her questioning.

"Well, I don't want to do that," she said with a smile. She doesn't know why but she was really interested on the boy's answers. Perhaps because of his aquamarine eyes that reminds her of someone.

Then he stopped as he heard her. He looked at her with a mixture of curiosity and interest. For his entire life, he rarely meets someone who is willing and interested to listen to him because for the other cases people just want something from him. So this woman had really made him think for a while. He watched her from head to toe, checking if she was hiding something like a spatula, a bonbori or a hammer. But none of those were present; she is just an ordinary lady – too ordinary actually. She was wearing a faded skintight jean, a green t-shirt and a baseball cap. Nothing unusual with her so he decided that even with the knowledge of the truth she won't be any threat to him unlike his other fiancées.

After his examination of her, he asked just to make sure, "Why?"

"Because I find you really cute and interesting," she answered with a huge smile on her face.

He was still a little suspicious of her intention but after weighing things on his head, he went along with her.

Almost seeing the triumph in his eyes, Reiko smiled at him sweetly and invited him for an ice cream. She knew that no kid can ever refuse an ice cream.

When they arrived at the ice cream parlor, the boy was delighted to have a free ice cream but he was still doubtful on Reiko. However, he was pretty confident that if something happened he can always depend on his martial arts.

When the waiter came with their orders, the boy immediately started eating his ice cream. And within a few minutes, his face was smothered with ice cream and his portion was almost finished.

Reiko looked at him with adoration and fondness. She wasn't usually doing things like this but when she saw him, she just felt the urged to wipe away those tears for him and make him laugh.

"If I have another ice cream, I'll answer all your questions," he suddenly negotiated.

She agreed without any hesitation. She was even thinking of buying him another one before he even asked for it. While signaling the waiter for another one, she asked, "What's your name?"

"My name is Ranma Saotome heir of the Anything Goes Martial Arts," he said proudly.

"Wow! You must be very proud to be a martial artist."

"I am. I've been training all my life. How about you? What's your name?"

She took a moment before she answered as the waiter chose to appear with a cup of ice cream. "Reiko Morisato. But for you, you can call me oneechan."

"How old are you?" he asked but his eyes were on the sweet delight in front of him. He intentionally dismissed Reiko's suggestion in calling her oneechan.

The look in his face won another smile from her. It was quite entertaining for her that she didn't mind answering his questions. "I'm 15 years old. And you?"

"I'm a year older than you are. I'm 16 years old. I don't look like I'm 16 now but I will be," he answered her after taking a spoonful of ice cream toward his mouth.

"Of course, you will be. Maybe after 8 to 10 years from now," trying to estimate his age and the years he will wait to grow up.

With a determined tone he answered, "Nope! Sooner. Maybe after three days I will be back to my old self again."

His answer and reaction amused her. It sounded so real coming from him that she might just believe him even though logic makes it impossible to believe. But she played along with him not wanting to be rude and also she was really entertained with Ranma that she doesn't want him to be hurt. "Old self? What do you mean?"

"Well, you see, I'm 16 years old. Then Ryoga made me eat those age mushrooms so I became like this." He continued but his eyes were on his ice cream.

"Age mushrooms?"

"Yeah. The height of the mushrooms determines the age of it. For example, if you eat a 10 cm mushroom then you'll be 10 years old." He held his hands up to make an estimation of the height of the mushroom. Then he went back to his ice cream.

"Really? How can that be?" she asked with disbelief just for animation. She doesn't want to sound cynical that she faked her reaction for him.

In a whisper he said, "Its magic." His eyes where round and serious that he even shifted his attention from his ice cream just to look at her in the eyes and show how serious he was.

This scared her a little. It made her think of the slim possibility that what this boy was saying the truth. But she could not think of any logical explanation for a simple mushroom to have this kind of effect to any human being. She racked her brain for any stories or folktales that speaks of this kind of phenomenon but there is none. If there is then it would be the first time she heard of it. So there's only one thing she could think of at that moment and that is the boy is playing a practical joke on her. It's the only reason she can think of because aging mushrooms are just too farfetched. "Ok. So where can you find it?"

"It's in the mushroom forest. Ryoga made a map but he has a really bad sense of direction so I really can't tell you where it is," he answered truthfully.

Lounging into her chair while she listened to him. "Ah, I see… So how did Ryoga find it?"

"He said an old man told him about it. Then he ate one so he became a boy."

By this time, she desperately wanted to believe him but everything that comes out from his mouth made it harder for her to do so. For her, it sounded so like a fairytale or a fantasy. "And so are you…"

"Yep but I'm smarter than Ryoga. Akane said that there's no more mushrooms left so I'll look for it." He pointed his finger to his head making a gesture for being smarter.

"But you said you don't know where it is. You might get lost," with a little hint of concern in her voice.

"It's ok. I'm used to traveling. But I'm not used to being a boy so I needed to find it soon."

"So that is your plan?" she inquired. When she tried to imagine him alone in the woods, it only gave her the creeps. "The forest is not a place for a child. What if there's wild animals in there and it may harm him. Ranma won't be able to defend himself from them." Those were her thoughts which she easily discarded from her head for it's just too horrifying for her.

Ranma nodded before tackling his second glass of ice cream again.

As easy as he had finished his share, he easily changed the topic by directing the questions to Reiko. "How about you, Reiko? What's your plan?"

"Me? I don't have any." Taken aback with the sudden change, Reiko managed to answer him. Though it wasn't the answer she intended to say but it was all that came out from her mouth. But still she was grateful for the change because she already lost her appetite after her imagination had wandered.

Ranma was through answering her questions. He also had an urge to know why this girl suddenly treated him for an ice cream. At first glance, she won't strike you as a beauty but she grows into people. She is really nice. As he continued talking to her, he already noticed three things from her. Firstly, she is a bad liar. Her facial expressions gave her off whenever she tries to lie to Ranma. It gave her away so halfway of their conversation he already knew that she doesn't believe him. Secondly, she doesn't believe in magic. She might be into science, philosophy or something but it wasn't magic. When he was talking about the aging mushrooms, Reiko might have been thinking of him being silly and childish. It was the reason why he changed the flow of their conversation. She didn't believe in aging mushrooms how much more with his other stories which involves monsters, curses and amazons. Though he would like her to believe him, he also doesn't want to freak her out once she found out about all those things and especially his curse. But he likes her and he really wanted to be friends with her. "What are you doing in the park then?"

"Well, I usually come there every afternoon," she answered nonchalantly.

"Why?" suddenly got interested with her answer. He thought maybe she's not that ordinary after all. Maybe she's one of those teenage detectives or something.

She felt embarrassed with her answer but gave it anyway. "Because there's this guy that I really like that passes in the park."

"Does he know it?" a little disappointed with her answer but continued to asked.

"Of course not. If he did I won't be waiting for him there." Thinking of what would happen if that guy would know. She would probably won't come back to the park.

"You women are weird…," rolling his eyes while wondering if all the women have the same craziness over guys. "So do you know the name of this guy?"

"No. But I know he goes to Furinkan High," answering frankly.

"Really? I'm from Furinkan High."

"OH! You do?" smiling at him still not believing his answer. "Perhaps, he has a brother or a sister attending Furinkan" she thought as it is the only plausible explanation for his answer. "Do you know a lot of guys in Furinkan?"

"Nope. Just some of my classmates and a few of my seniors. Other than that, I don't know anyone else. If he's popular maybe I know him," thinking of those people he knew. Then he smiled as he remembered Kuno. He was silently praying it wasn't Kuno because if it is then he'll have to stop being friends with her.

Trying to remember anything about the guy but end up with nothing. So she answered, "I don't know. Besides from the school that he is enrolled in, I don't know anything else about him." Every time she tries to remember him, she always remembers his blue eyes and how staring at it makes her blush. Of course, she wouldn't say it to him because he is just a kid and he won't really understand it.

"Then how come you like him if you don't know him," sounding a little annoyed at how stupid it was to like someone she doesn't know.

"Because one time, I saw him helped someone. He was really kind to that person. And then I've heard a lot of good things that he has done to other people too." She looked happy the moment she remembered the first time she saw him. Ranma could only stare at her with awe.

Ranma was imagining on what kind of a guy Reiko liked before giving his reaction. "Woah… He must be some kind of a saint."

"No…," she shook her head. "He also did a lot of crazy things."

"So that's all you know about him…," losing the interest in their conversation. He watched the people in the ice cream parlor and saw some of the girls in his school. "Akane must be home right now… but Ryoga's there too so she'll probably won't look for me," he thought trying to convince himself not to go home yet.

"Yeah. But he has the most beautiful eyes I've seen… actually the same with your eyes." Smiling at him and looking straight into his blue eyes. Looking at them, Reiko found out that it had the same effect on her as it was with her crush. But she likes his eyes more because at least with Ranma, she knows that this boy has his eyes only at her. Seeing the obvious resemblance, Reiko realized that they look so much alike too.

"That's why you helped me because I have the same eyes," she heard him said which interrupted her contemplation.

"Partly… Another reason is that I have a weakness for crying boys who doesn't want to be helped and often times have weird imaginations." She lied. It was the eyes that made her do those things. Only those blue eyes which were full of tears.

"You still don't believe me about the mushrooms, don't you?" looking up at her.

With regrets she answered him truthfully. "I'm sorry, I don't. It's just too impossible."

"How about magic, ghosts and dragons? Do you believe in them? Or better yet how about curses?" he persisted even though he already knew the answers.

Shaking her head slowly but with a smile tugging in her lips she told him, "Nope. I don't really believe in those things."

"Want me to show you something magical?" suddenly he had the urge to prove to her that magic exist. He wanted her to believe him. And for once he had never thought of his curse as a bad thing but instead it became a good thing because now he can prove to her that it's real.


"Ok. But you have to wait for tomorrow because it's getting late. The Tendos would be looking for me." Ranma started to stand up preparing to leave.

"No problem. So I'll see you tomorrow then." Reiko said then taking her handkerchief from her pocket; she wiped away those ice cream stains in Ranma's face. Ranma was tense at first but seeing how great it was to be treated like this, he gave up. No one had ever done it for him, not even his mother.

"Yup. I'll see you in the park," he answered happily. There he decided that he will come without a doubt, he will see Reiko again tomorrow and he will prove to her that magic exists.