RANMA, RYOGA, AND THE SHRINE AND MOTEL OF THE GODDESS OF LOVE
Ranma Saotome walked down the street, his book bag slung over his back. Akane Tendo had stayed late at school to rehearse for the school play, so Ranma was alone. Although apparently nonchalant as he wandered down the street, his eyes continually scanned the doorways and alleyways. When you were a martial artist who attracted trouble and enemies like spilled honey attracted flies, it was best to never be off your guard.
Off to his left, two workmen were hanging a sign in front of a shrine which had been undergoing renovations for the past several months. Curious, Ranma stopped and waited for the workmen to finish. The sign was a pale pink with two large, red hearts that read: "NOW OPEN, The Newly Remodeled Shrine and Motel of the Goddess of Love. Grand Opening Special: A Special Blessing and Boon from the Goddess Herself for the First Couple to Stay in our Romantic Honeymoon Suite."
Ranma cocked his head to the side and puzzled at the sign. While he pondered it, a monk in a pink robe stepped out of the door of the shrine and looked at the sign, nodding his head. Ranma sidled up beside him.
"Hey old man," Ranma said to the monk.
The monk cried out in alarm, jumped back, and made a sign to ward against evil. Seeing it was a young man who spoke and not some demon, he slowly lowered his hands. "Where did you come from?" he asked, holding a hand against his heart. "You startled me."
"I'm Ranma Saotome of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts," Ranma said, as if that answered everything.
"You should wear a bell," the monk groused.
Ranma snorted derisively, but otherwise ignored the comment. "Shrine and motel?" he asked.
"Well," the monk said, "people aren't visiting the old shrines like they used to, so we've expanded our operations."
Ranma shrugged. "So what's a boon?" he asked.
"A boon is… a boon," the monk said. When Ranma frowned at him, he continued. "You know, a boon, a favor, a gift, the answer to a prayer…"
There was a glint in Ranma's eyes. "You mean like a wish?" he asked.
"Well," the monk said, "one must remember that when speaking of a deity, one must be careful, from a theological standpoint, not to equate…"
He paused when he saw Ranma's eyes glaze over and his mouth go slack.
The monk's shoulders slumped. "Yeah," he sighed. "Kind of like a wish."
"Awesome," Ranma said. "I could really use a wish. You think you could put in a good word with this goddess of yours and get me one?"
The monk shook his head. "I'm sorry, young man," he said. "The blessing and boon is only for our first honeymoon couple. It's our grand opening special. If the goddess started handing out boons willy-nilly…"
Ranma frowned and thought for a moment. "Well then," he said, "I want to book the honeymoon suite for tonight. I'm gonna get that wish."
"So you're getting married today?" the monk asked dubiously.
"Um, yeah," Ranma replied. "Just book that suite and don't let anyone else get ahead of me." He turned and darted down the street.
"Wait!" the monk yelled after him. "The suite is 50,000 yen!"
"Okay," Ranma called back over his shoulder.
"What name shall I book the suite under?" the monk yelled to the receding figure.
"Ranma Saotome," Ranma yelled back before disappearing around the corner.
Ranma hurried home. A wish! If this Love Goddess could grant him a wish, he could get his curse removed. No more Jusenkyo curse! All he needed was 50,000 yen to pay for the room, to pretend to get married, and to spend the night in the honeymoon suite.
He skidded to a stop. Okay, so maybe it wouldn't be that easy. He probably could borrow the money from Nabiki somehow, although he shuddered to think of what he would have to go through to get it. But who could he get to pretend to be his bride for the night? Well, okay, there were plenty of likely candidates for his "bride": Ukyo, Shampoo, Kodachi; the real problem was that they would all want to make it a real honeymoon, complete with real wedding.
Then there was Akane. He shivered. If Genma Saotome and Soun Tendo found out about the honeymoon suite, they would launch one of their infamous schemes to turn it into a real wedding. Besides, Ranma thought, if he suggested that he and Akane spend the night in a honeymoon suite, she would call him a pervert and launch him into orbit.
So lost was Ranma in his musings that he didn't pay attention to where he was going. He turned the corner and slammed into Ryoga Hibiki, who happened to be coming the other way. Ranma staggered back. Running into Ryoga was like running into a brick wall.
Ryoga's face darkened upon seeing his arch-rival. He pointed his umbrella at Ranma. "Ranma Saotome, because of you I have seen hell. Prepare to…"
Ryoga paused in surprise as Ranma, using his incredible speed, zipped up next to Ryoga and threw an arm around his shoulder. "Hey, Ryoga, old buddy," Ranma said. "I'm glad to see you. Have I got a deal for you!"
"… die," Ryoga squeaked.
"Plenty of time for that later," Ranma said.
"What are you up to, Ranma?" Ryoga asked.
"I've found a way to get our curses lifted," Ranma said, looking like the proverbial cat that swallowed the canary (although best not to use that particular metaphor around Ranma, considering his cat phobia.)
"You found some Nannichuan?" Ryoga asked. "Where?"
"No, no Nannichuan," Ranma replied. "Something just as good. I found a way for us to get a wish granted."
"A wish?" Ryoga asked.
"Yeah," Ranma said. "All we have to do is wish for our curses to be lifted and – bang! No more P-chan. No more girl-side."
"And how are we going to get this wish?" Ryoga asked warily. He had been a party to too many of Ranma's schemes to take anything Ranma said at face value.
Ranma grabbed Ryoga's hand and started pulling him down the street toward the Tendo dojo. "We just have to get married," Ranma said.
Ryoga, who had been following meekly along behind Ranma, stopped suddenly, pulling Ranma backward. "What?" Ryoga cried. "Married?"
Ranma turned back to look at Ryoga. "Not get married for real," Ranma said. "Back there," he jerked a thumb over his shoulder in the direction of the shrine, "they've opened a new Shine and Motel for the Goddess of Love. The first couple to spend the night in the honeymoon suite gets a wish granted by the goddess herself. So, all we have to do is go and pretend to be newlyweds. We spend the night in the suite and, in the morning, we wish to have our curses lifted. Simple!"
Ryoga folded his arms. "You've come up with some doozies in the past, Ranma, but this takes the cake. Ain't no way I'm going to pretend to be married to a guy."
Ranma rolled his eyes and walked over to a nearby fountain. He splashed some water on himself and immediately turned into a buxom, blue-eyed redhead. "There," she said, wiping off the excess water. "Happy now? You can be the groom and I'll be the bride."
"I don't know," Ryoga said. "Trying to fool a goddess into granting us a wish? Sounds awful risky."
"Come on," Ranma said, sidling up next to Ryoga and looking as cute as possible while batting her long-lashed eyes at him. "Please? What can go wrong?"
"I don't know," Ryoga said again.
"Fine," Ranma pouted, crossing her arms under her ample chest and turning her back on him. "I understand your being chicken and all. Or maybe you like being P-chan. I guess you'd miss sleeping in Akane's bed as her pet. Of course, if you were a real man, instead of a little piglet, maybe you'd have some kind of chance with her. I guess I could be the guy and I could take Akane to the honeymoon suite…"
"Enough!" Ryoga roared. If there was one thing Ranma knew how to do, it was how to push Ryoga's buttons. "I'll do it."
Ranma smiled and slipped her arm in Ryoga's. "C'mon, hubby," she said, unable to resist teasing Ryoga about the situation. "We have a lot of work to do to get ready for our wedding."
Ryoga moaned as Ranma led him down the street.
Their first stop was the Tendo dojo. Ranma pulled Ryoga into the main room and pushed him into a chair. "Stay!" Ranma commanded. "We can't afford to have you wander off and get lost."
"But…" Ryoga started.
"Stay!" Ranma said again, and then ran up the stairs. She stopped in front of Nabiki's door and took a deep breath. Asking Nabiki for a loan was only slightly less painful than a root canal. Or maybe slightly more painful. Ranma had never had a root canal.
She raised her fist, took another deep breath, and rapped on the door.
"Come in, Ranma," came Nabiki's voice from inside the room.
Ranma stepped in. Nabiki was seated at her desk, looking over some papers. Whether it was school work or something relating to one of Nabiki's myriad side businesses, Ranma couldn't tell. It was all Greek to her. "How did you know it was me?" Ranma asked.
"Trade secret," Nabiki said. "I can tell you for, oh, 500 yen."
"It doesn't matter," Ranma said, looking nervously at her shoes.
"So, what can I do for you, Ranma?" Nabiki asked, her voice dripping honey as it always did when she sensed an opportunity for a profit.
"I, ah, need a loan," Ranma said, kicking at the floor with the toe of her shoe.
"How much?" Nabiki asked, reaching over to pick up her calculator and large accounting ledger.
"50,000 yen," Ranma said.
"Hmm," Nabiki said. "That's a lot of money, Ranma. What do you need it for?"
"I figured out a way to get rid of my curse," Ranma said. "And I need the money to do it."
"Someone having a sale on water from the Spring of the Drowned Boy? Or maybe another of those 'miracle cures' like the anti-water soap or the packets of instant Jusenkyo water?" Nabiki asked, not bothering to keep the sarcasm out of her voice.
"Oh no," Ranma said. "This time I've got it all figured out. You see, there's this shrine – the Shrine and Motel of the Goddess of Love – and whoever stays there, in their motel, for the whole night gets a wish granted by the goddess."
Nabiki frowned. "Sounds too simple. Nothing is ever that simple with you, Ranma."
"Well," Ranma said. ",000yen."
Nabiki stifled a laugh. When would Ranma ever learn? None of his schemes ever worked, and most ended up getting him into deeper trouble. Still, she thought, there may be a way to make some money off of this…
"Okay," Nabiki said to the red-haired girl.
"Oh, that's great, Nabiki!" Ranma said. "I'll really owe you one."
"Actually, you'll owe me 50,000," Nabiki said. "Plus twenty-percent interest. Compounded daily, of course."
Ranma started to say something, but Nabiki continued, cutting her off. "And I get an exclusive on the wedding pictures."
"Wedding pictures?" Ranma asked.
"Well, if you're going to get married, you have to have wedding photos, right?" Nabiki turned and pulled an envelope of bills out of her safe. She waved the 50,000 in cash in front of Ranma. "That's the deal. Take it or leave it."
"Um, okay," Ranma said, snatching the money. She had posed for worse pictures for Nabiki on numerous occasions. How bad could some wedding pictures be?
"Let me get my camera," Nabiki said. She was already compiling a mental list of potential customers for the pictures.
Ranma hurried out of Nabiki's room and ran into Kasumi, sweeping the hallway.
"Hello, Ranma. How was school today?" Kasumi asked.
"Um, just fine," Ranma said. "Listen, Kasumi, do you know what happened to that wedding dress Akane was supposed to wear at our wedding? And my tuxedo? The one Pop and your Dad bought?"
"Why, yes," Kasumi said. "I have it in storage in the guest room. I put them away until the next time you and Akane try and get married."
Ranma winced, remembering their last try at a wedding. It had been an unmitigated disaster. It was a wonder the house was still standing. "Can I borrow them?" Ranma asked.
"Oh," Kasumi said. "Are you and Akane going to try to get married again? No one told me. There's so much to do to get ready for the wedding. How many guests are we expecting?"
"Um, no," Ranma replied. "It's for Ryoga and me."
"Oh, that's nice," Kasumi said. "I think the dress will look very nice on you."
Ranma just stared at Kasumi, open-mouthed.
Kasumi set her broom aside and went into the guest room. She came out with two garment bags. "Here you are," she said.
"Thanks, Kasumi," Ranma said, turning to leave. "Thanks a lot."
"Wait, Ranma," Kasumi said.
Ranma stopped and looked back. "Yeah?" she said.
"When is the wedding?" Kasumi asked.
"Um, this afternoon," Ranma said. "Ah, Kasumi, you realize that Ryoga and I… that is, we're not really…"
"You're going to need some help getting ready," Kasumi said. "You'll want to look pretty for your wedding."
'Not really,' Ranma thought. But it was impossible to argue with Kasumi. She had a tendency to simply breeze past any objections and to do what she thought needed to be done. "Let me take the tuxedo down to Ryoga so he can get dressed," Ranma sighed. She thought maybe she could sneak out before Kasumi got downstairs. Unfortunately, Kasumi merely followed her.
Ryoga stood as the two girls entered the room. "Good afternoon, Kasumi," he said, giving her a slight bow.
"Hello, Ryoga-kun," Kasumi said. "It is so nice to see you. Ranma has told me the good news."
"Good news?" Ryoga asked, confused.
"Here!" Ranma interrupted, shoving the garment bag containing tuxedo at Ryoga. "Come on. You have to get dressed."
"Um, okay," Ryoga said. He took the garment bag and turned and started out the front door.
"Not that way, P-chan!" Ranma said. He hurried over to grab his hand and lead him down the hall to the bathroom. "You can change in here," she said. "And don't leave until I come get you."
"Okay," Ryoga sighed. Ranma closed the door and Ryoga started undressing. He looked over at the water faucet. For a moment, he considered simply changing into his black piglet form and sneaking out to escape this insanity. But what if Ranma was right? What if he really could be free of his Jusenkyo cure? "Then, Akane, we can be together!" Ryoga shouted. He jumped into the furo to wash up before donning the tux.
Down the hall, Kasumi led Ranma into her room. "Okay," Kasumi said. "Let's start getting you ready. Get undressed."
"But…" Ranma protested.
"Oh Ranma," Kasumi said, waving her hand. "Your girl body doesn't have anything I haven't seen before."
Ranma shrugged and started to undress. The bedroom door opened and Nabiki slipped in, a camera dangling from a strap around her neck.
"What are you doing here?" Ranma demanded.
Nabiki held up the camera. "Official wedding photos," she said. "We have to get pictures of the little lady getting ready for her big day."
"I ain't no…" Ranma started to protest, but then saw Kasumi pulling the white silk and lace wedding gown out of the bag and the protest died in her throat. For the first time since she concocted this scheme, she had a twinge of doubt.
Unfortunately, Kasumi brushed them quickly aside by handing her a bra and panties. "Put these on," Kasumi instructed, "and then sit down over here." She indicated the seat at her makeup table.
Ranma took the bra and panties and slipped them on. As usual lately, it was a little disconcerting how little trouble she had putting on the bra. When she had first worn one, she had struggled for what seemed like forever trying to get the darned thing hooked. Now, however, after years of practice, she was able to slip in on with very little effort. Just like a real girl.
Ranma sat in the indicated chair and Kasumi stepped around behind her and started undoing Ranma's ubiquitous braid.
"Hey!" Ranma protested.
"Oh, Ranma. You can't wear a wedding gown with your hair up in a braid," Kasumi chided. "How would you wear the veil?"
"Listen, Kasumi," Ranma said. "This is just…"
"Hand me that brush, Ranma," Kasumi interrupted.
Ranma sighed and reached for the brush.
Click – click – went Nabiki's camera.
After she finished brushing Ranma's hair, Kasumi grabbed her makeup bag. "Now your makeup," she said. "Something simple, I think, but elegant."
Ranma didn't even bother trying to object. Trying to stop Kasumi once she got started was like trying to step in front of a Mack truck. It didn't do you any good and the truck never even noticed.
"Quit fidgeting, Ranma," Kasumi chided as Ranma endured the foundation and blush and powder and mascara and eye shadow and lipstick. "You want to look nice, don't you?"
"Yeah," Nabiki chimed in, clicking away with her camera. "We want you to look nice in the wedding photos, don't we?"
Ranma sighed again and slumped in the chair.
"Sit up," Kasumi commanded. "A young lady should have better posture."
"I ain't no…" Ranma started, but jumped when she felt Kasumi snap something on her ears. "Ouch!" she cried.
"Oh Ranma, don't be a baby," Nabiki sneered. "You've worn earrings before."
Unfortunately, that was true. Ranma had worn makeup and earrings and fancy dresses all before. This was going to be the first time she had voluntarily donned a wedding dress, however. And hopefully the last.
"Now let's get you into your dress," Kasumi said. She helped Ranma to her feet and then helped her pull on the wedding gown.
"Oh, my," Kasumi said, stepping back and appraising Ranma in the dress. "I'm afraid that Akane's dress doesn't fit you so well. Ah well, no matter. We can fix that." She knelt and started to gather and pin up the hem, since in her girl form, Ranma was shorter than Akane. Next she took in the waist, since Ranma also had a smaller waist than Akane. Unfortunately, the bust was also too small since Ranma was, as she liked to point out, considerably more 'stacked' than Akane. This had the effect of pushing Ranma's generous bosom up and out, giving her an almost scandalous décolletage.
Kasumi stepped back. "I'm afraid that's the best I can do," she said. "I wish I had some more time. I could alter the dress. But, oh well. What will be, will be."
She handed Ranma some white high-heeled shoes and stepped around behind to attach the veil while Ranma slipped them on.
Click – click – Nabiki's camera continued.
Kasumi stepped around to the front and made a couple minor adjustments, then turned Ranma to face the full-length mirror.
"Well, what do you think?" she asked.
Ranma gasped. She knew her girl-side was pretty. She used it often enough to distract opponents or to wangle food out of the neighborhood vendors. But the woman in the mirror was stunning.
Kasumi's makeup skills were, not surprisingly, flawless. The blush highlighted Ranma's high cheekbones while the blue and pink eye shadow brought out the vivid blue of Ranma's eyes. Her lips were a luscious red bow. Her dark red hair flowed across her shoulders and down her back, while long earrings dangled from her ears and sparkled in the light.
The white gown accentuated her narrow waist, shapely curves and generous bosom.
Ranma blushed at the vision in the mirror, and the blushing only added a glow that made her that much more beautiful.
"Perfect!" Nabiki chortled. "Kuno alone will pay a fortune for these."
"Come along, Ranma," Kasumi said. "We don't want to keep the groom waiting."
Ranma reluctantly tore her eyes away from the vision in the mirror and allowed Kasumi to take her arm and guide her down the hall to the main room. "Wait here," Kasumi said. "I'll go get Ryoga."
Ranma fidgeted in the middle of the room, her voluminous skirt preventing her from easily sitting down. All the while, Nabiki took more pictures.
"Don't you have enough?" Ranma snapped, equal parts proud and embarrassed to be such a beautiful bride.
"You could give me back the 60,000 yen," Nabiki replied.
"Sixty thousand!" Ranma cried. "Fifty!"
"Oh, did I forget to mention the twenty-percent processing fee?" Nabiki innocently asked.
Ranma rolled her eyes and tugged at the tight bodice.
A gasp from the other side of the room made them both look up.
Ryoga stood in the doorway, looking quite handsome in the tuxedo. He still wore his signature bandana, but had added another as a cummerbund and somehow managed to produce a matching yellow tie. He was staring, open-mouthed at Ranma. His eyes went wide and he reached up quickly to pinch his nose before he could bleed all over the tux.
"Ra- Ra- Ra- Ranma," he stammered.
Ranma shook her head and stepped over to grab Ryoga by the arm. "Come on," she said. "We're going to be late."
"Wait!" Nabiki said. "I need some pictures of the bride and groom together."
That snapped Ryoga out of his daze. "Pictures?" he cried. "No pictures!"
Nabiki sauntered up to him. "That'll be 120,000 yen," she said. "One hundred percent liquidated damages penalty for breach of contract."
"120,000 yen!" Ryoga cried. "Why that's…! That's…!"
"Oh, just get it over with," Ranma said, pulling Ryoga to stand next to her while Nabiki snapped picture after picture. She could Photoshop smiles on their faces later.
"Okay," Ranma finally growled. "That's enough. We need to get moving." She grabbed Ryoga with one hand and his pack with the other and hurried out of the house.
"You know," Kasumi said, as she closed the door behind them. "I'm not so sure this is such a good idea."
Nabiki shook her head. "Ya think?" she asked.
Author's note: My first Ranma fan-fic. So what do you think? Worth continuing?
Author's note 2: Reposted after some editing help from my good friend, who for some unknown reason likes to proofread my stuff. Thanks, P!