A Ranma Fan Fiction

Started - 1 December 2002

Completed - pending

Last revised - 10 May 2004

Reason typos

Disclaimer: Ranma and all associated characters are the property of Rumiko Takahashi and are used without permission. This fan-fiction isn't intended for commercial use but is rather a tribute to the Ranma universe.

.o0o. .o0o.

Angel Trainee: The Return by Cloud Dreamer

.o0o. .o0o.

Chapter One: Homecoming

.o0o. .o0o.

Kasumi quietly sat under the plum tree next to the koi pond in her yard and ate her light lunch alone. She sighed as she thought of Ranma and wondered how long it would be before she returned. She felt only slightly guilty about not telling the others that while years would pass for Ranma, only days would pass for the rest of them.

Hands gently covered her eyes as a merry booming voice asked, "Guess who?"

"Malcolm! Is it really you? Is Ranma back too?" She bounced to her feet and grinned at the ebony angel who had become a friend despite the brevity of their meeting. Her smile ebbed only slightly as she realized that Ranma wasn't there but she hugged her friend and said, "It's been 17 days, I'm so glad to see you. Can you tell me anything? Is my daughter alright?"

"Daughter?"

Kasumi grinned and said, "Yes. I forced Ranma's parents to yield Ranma to me in exchange for Genma's cure. It resolved all of Ranma's engagements and preserved the Tendou honor."

Malcolm's booming laughter was gentle music. He smiled at Kasumi as he praised her, "Kasumi that was brilliant, and with Ranma soon to return, that means you'll be able to protect her from her former parents." He grinned and added, "Not that she really needs all that much protection anymore. She's almost 35 in subjective years but is actually only about 16 physically and emotionally." He smiled to himself in satisfaction and continued, "It's been slow, but she's finally growing up and growing up well." He snickered and asked, "Are you prepared to be the mother of a young teen-aged girl just on the verge of noticing boys?"

"Oh, my!" Kasumi frowned cutely as Malcolm snickered at her again before replying. "Well, I do have 'some' experience in that area you know."

Malcolm only chuckled as he replied, "Trust me. You only think you have experience in that area."

Kasumi crossed her arms under her breasts and patiently waited for the angel to get on with it.

Malcolm finally sighed in satisfaction and said, "Your daughter will be here in, humm, 5 . . . 4 . . . 3 . . . 2 . . . 1 . . ."

Before either of them could say or do anything, Ranma appeared 3 meters above the koi pond. She was tucked into a tight ball and the water exploded outward in response to her 'cannonball' entrance into her home world.

Soaking wet, both Malcolm and Kasumi could only smile in return as a young girl with knee length braided light red hair grinned mischievously at them from the pond.

Malcolm smiled as he watched the two girls head off to get changed. Kasumi remarked that she thought she might have some clothes to fit her daughter. That phrasing had caught Ranma's attention and a quick explanation after they had changed had cleared things up a bit.

Ranma grinned at Kasumi, "So I'm legally your daughter now?" she asked. At Kasumi's hesitant nod, her grin broadened considerably and she sighed happily, "Wow, that's a real neat end to this adventure." Seeing Kasumi's questioning look, Ranma continued, "After almost 17 years of being mostly on my own, I wasn't looking forward to dealing with the old panda and his wife any more."

Kasumi smiled at Ranma's evident happiness but her emergent smile faltered as she asked, "Ranma . . . Ranma, if you've been on your own for so long, do . . . do you really need me or anyone else anymore?"

Ranma had watched the play of emotions on Kasumi's face as she had formulated and asked this question, apparently a somewhat painful question judging by the emotions that Kasumi was not trying to mask for the first time that Ranma could ever recall.

Ranma paused for a moment, apparently in thought, though in actuality she was using her barely developed mental skills to scan Kasumi's mind. She saw an honest person consumed with love and concern for Ranma. Deeply affected and grateful for this, Ranma rose and gracefully seated herself closer to Kasumi and embraced her in a warm hug. She replied as she wrapped her arms tighter around the nominally younger though more emotionally mature woman, "There's one thing that I've never really had. I've never had a guardian that cared enough for me to do something for me, just for me, not for honor or themselves, but just for me." Ranma sighed as she felt Kasumi's arms wrap around her and she continued, "While you were making lunch for us, Malcolm gave me more details on how you bought me from my birth parents so that I'd be free of their stupid promises and how you've prepared a new room just for me and made other arrangements to make my new life easier. He said you did all that while I was away with him even though you didn't know how long I'd be gone or what I'd be like when I came back." Ranma sat back so she could look Kasumi eye to eye. "I need a mom, I'm glad you're willing to be her."

Kasumi's eyes glimmered with happy tears as she pulled her daughter in for a quick kiss, "Me too," she whispered.

.o0o. .o0o.

Malcolm had timed Ranma's return to coincide with the start of a week-long martial arts training trip that Nabiki and Soun had taken to the mountains. It was a trip that Nabiki had both detested and thoroughly enjoyed at the same time. Nabiki had had to stay in male form the entire week as Soun started to teach some advanced techniques of the Tendou martial arts school to his 'son' that he had never dared teach Akane because of her temper and gender to be honest.

In the three weeks that Nabiki had had her curse, she had grown to both loath and hate it even as she had also reluctantly accepted it as part of who she was from now on. She had come to feel ashamed of how she had tormented and taken advantage of Ranma's curse now that she had experienced it first hand. At the same time she had begun to accept it as her 'just dues' for her many offenses against him, ah, er, her. Besides, as a result of the new lifestyle forced on her, she had shed most of the 'Ice Queen' persona and it felt really nice to finally have some friends. Male bonding was sort of different but kind of neat she had found. Nabiki was ecstatic about his new found relationship with 'his' father. Dad was finally back after almost a decade mourning mom. Nabiki had decided that the curse was worth it for just that alone and had resolved to be the best 'son' that she could be for her father. Nabiki was putting all 'his' effort into absorbing the Tendou School as fast as he could. Surprisingly, he was learning at nearly Ranma's legendary rate. Childhood skills were being built upon by leaps and bounds each day that father and son trained together. By the end of the training trip, Nabiki realized that he'd already surpassed his sister Akane's mostly self-taught skill level.

.o0o. .o0o.

During the week that Nabiki and Soun were gone, Ranma managed to tell Kasumi most of her adventures as the two of them settled into their new relationship together. But on their first day together, Ranma went shopping for new clothes with her mother and they also successfully registered Ranma at St. Hebreke's as 'Tendou Ranma, age 16, daughter of Tendou Kasumi' by using an adoption certificate provided by Malcolm. Malcolm had also left Kasumi a bankcard with a large balance. He'd grinned at the two of them as he'd dropped it into Kasumi's lap and just before disappearing, he'd remarked, "Here, 'mom', this is your daughter's pay for the work she did for Heaven. You're going to need it, trust me."

Kasumi changed into her new (and first) casual pantsuit. It was soft pastel sky blue that Ranma had insisted she buy to match Ranma's new one of golden green. After they had returned home with their purchases, mother and daughter met down stairs to look each other over. Both were amazed not only at the other's appearance but also at what they saw in the mirror. With Ranma's new height and slimmer build, they almost looked like sisters. Kasumi got Ranma to allow her to comb out her braid only to find she was combing knee length hair. It was full but fine and its color was a brilliant red that was reminiscent of her original hair color, just a bit more golden.

Kasumi had watched her daughter work through her morning kata the next morning after she'd first arrived. She was surprised when Ranma took a bokken in hand and began a sword kata. "Ranma, I thought the 'anything goes' style didn't use weapons?" she asked.

Ranma paused and gave Kasumi her full attention, "The style I was taught by the panda didn't, but then I've grown beyond those limitations now." She smiled warmly at her mother, "Mom, will you practice with me?"

Kasumi hesitated but upon seeing the hopeful expression on her daughter's face she shyly grinned back and nodded. Mother and daughter took another step in their bonding as Ranma carefully re-taught Kasumi the art she had quit practicing so many years ago. Hours later they both collapsed, but it was from giggles rather than fatigue.

Kasumi was surprised at Ranma's culinary skills and pleased with her willingness to assist with the household tasks. This too made their bonding stronger since neither of Kasumi's sisters had made much effort to share her chosen life style. Though Kasumi had to admit privately that her life style was one of family necessity rather than true choice.

The third day was spent at St. Hebreke finishing up the placement tests that Ranma had started the afternoon of her second day back home. The results were rather surprising for all. Ranma's knowledge and skills were actually already at college level, but after talking with the councilors, Kasumi and Ranma decided to enroll Ranma for the last semester of the senior year instead of repeating her sophomore year (based on her new legal younger age).

This meant she would be graduating the same time as Nabiki even though she was now nominally younger than Akane. Kasumi was saddened to realize she would lose her newfound daughter to college so quickly. That was until Ranma suggested that they would make a great mother-daughter team attending college together. They grinned at each other at that thought and with the school councilors' help started the process to gain college admission for both of them. Fortunately funding was already taken care of thanks to the bankbook Malcolm had surprised them with. Kasumi was hesitant to use her daughter's money for herself until Ranma actually started to plead. Kasumi found herself helpless before Ranma's 'puppy-dog eyes' and glimmering tears.

Dressed up again in their new pantsuits that evening, the two strolled downtown to share a night out at a nice restaurant and do some casual shopping. Kasumi blushed at the admiring glances and comments but Ranma only smiled and waved. Their admirers bothered neither of them though as there was something about them that subtly warned the admiring males off. Maybe it was Kasumi's soulful innocence or Ranma's faintly seen battle aura, but they had a pleasant evening shopping together. Kasumi took great pleasure in introducing her new daughter to all of her friends in the various stores and markets. Most had heard of someone called Ranma but didn't connect him with this beautiful girl before them.

The following day they stopped at the Cat-Café to say hello to Cologne who had become almost a friend to Kasumi in the weeks since Mousse and Shampoo had left shortly after Ranma had vanished. Cologne was in the process of selling the restaurant so that she could finally return home since the quest for Ranma had apparently failed. She grinned when she saw the two enter the closed restaurant. "Hello warrior" she greeted Ranma and bowed respectfully. Ranma paused, smiled widely, bowed in return and responded in perfect Chinese, "Hello Elder, I am honored by you. Thank you."

At the quizzical looks from both Kasumi and Cologne, Ranma pulled up a necklace that she was wearing beneath her blouse so that they could see a glowing stone flashing with polychromatic light as she caressed it. She explained, "Of the three gifts that I received when I started my journey, this is the only one that Malcolm allowed me to keep. It's a Lens of Arisia and allows me to understand, read and speak any language."

"May I see it?" asked Cologne.

Ranma paused, knelt down and carefully held it out so the Amazon Elder could examine it. When she reached a hand out to take it, Ranma shook her head, "I'm sorry Elder, that's not safe. The lens will kill anybody else except me that touches it without my permission."

Cologne paused and then nodded. She leant in and examined it with all the senses she could bring to bear but all she could do was dimly sense energy, immense shielded energy. She sighed and then asked, "Ranma, how is it that you are back so soon? I thought that you would be gone for many years, perhaps even decades."

Kasumi chuckled self-consciously as she responded instead. "Well, Ranma was gone for 17 years, 'her time'. But I guess that I forgot to mention that Malcolm said that every year of her time away would match only one day here."

She blushed prettily under the older woman's scrutiny. Cologne finally chuckled, "I wish I had known that when I first met Malcolm, I might have changed my mind about his offer."

Cologne leant in and gently kissed Ranma on the brow, "I name you an Amazon friend Ranma."

Ranma smiled and responded, "I am honored to be a friend of such a proud line of warriors."

Two days later Cologne had sold her restaurant and returned to China. She never did explain to the Amazon council all the details of Ranma's return.

After Kasumi and Ranma finished talking with Cologne, they stopped at the Ucchan's. Ukyou fainted when she recognized Ranma. Then there was another explanation and then a pause.

Ranma quietly asked, "Ucchan, I know it's not what you really wanted, but I was wondering if we could still be friends? I don't have many and those few are pretty important to me."

Ukyou looked into her first friend's eyes and smiled sadly. She leant in and quickly kissed the other girl on the cheek and replied, "No matter what, we will always be friends. Maybe I had hopes for more but even then we would still have been friends as well as lovers." She shyly asked, "Ranma, is there any chance you could become a guy again?"

Ranma shook her head. "No, not a chance for lot'sa reasons." She pointed to her head and then her heart as she said, "My journey made me a girl here and here. But besides that, Malcolm told me that I'm immune to Jusenkyo magic now even if any Nanniichuan could be found since the springs flooded."

Ukyou swallowed and then asked, "Wh, what if I could find some and used it . . . on me? Would we have a chance then?"

Ranma paused and studied her first friend for a long moment before warmly smiling at her. "I wouldn't recommend it, but everybody has to make those kind of decisions for themselves." She hugged the other girl to herself and used the moment to briefly scan Ukyou's mind, quickly confirming what the other girl was saying. Ranma then quietly answered, "On the other hand, I always did think of my buddy Ucchan as a guy and to be honest, I could see a chance of us becoming more if you loved me that much." Ranma pushed the other girl from her and held her at arms length, "but you have to be sure of this. No blaming me later especially if it doesn't work out between us."

Kasumi stepped between the two, a slight frown on her normally peaceful face. "Ranma, Ukyou, your emotions are a bit out of control from your reunion. Ranma, your legal age is barely 16, almost two years younger than Ukyou so both of you have enough time before you, that neither of you need to rush into any decision. Ukyou, you have enough experience acting as a man that you could court Ranma without taking the final step until you both agree that it's appropriate. But, I will not give my permission in any case until Ranma finishes college first."

Ranma smiled at her mother and meekly replied, "Yes mother, I agree."

Ukyou sighed in indecision and frustration.

.o0o. .o0o.

Nodoka paused in her shopping to glare toward where she heard Kasumi's voice. She was still upset that the younger woman had had the nerve to stand up to her the day Soun had kicked Genma out of the dojo almost four weeks ago. She walked up just in time to hear Kasumi introduce someone to the shop owner.

" . . . and I'd like you to meet my adopted daughter, Tendou Ranma;" finished Kasumi as she gestured to the tall slim girl next to her.

Ranma smiled, bowed but before she could say anything, Nodoka engulfed her in a hug.

"Ranma! When did you get back? My how you've changed, well, we'll see if we can find a cure for your curse son. Come, let's get you home." Nodoka eagerly gushed.

"Nodoka!" Snapped Kasumi as she pulled Ranma loose and stepped forward, "In case you've forgotten, you 'sold' your son. Ranma is MY daughter."

Nodoka's face purpled with anger but before she could say anything, Ranma stepped between the two women who could claim the title 'mom' and said. "Mrs. Saotome, I'm sorry about this, but 'I do not know you'." Ranma paused and then quietly added, "It's just as well, as you're no better than pops seeing as you were so willing to sell me off and then renege on the deal as well."

Nodoka's face blanched as if she'd been struck. Her hand crept to the bundle she carried strapped to her back. "Ranma, that's not a very manly thing to say."

Ranma shrugged, "Actually it's not manly or un-manly, it's merely the truth." Ranma gestured to herself and said, "as far as manly goes, that's gone, never to return. I'm a girl forever and Kasumi is my mother, not you. She loves me for who I am rather than as something impersonal, a prize or whatever."

Nodoka's body shook with restrained emotion but the tears started as she turned away.

Ranma started to follow but was stopped by Kasumi, "No dear, leave well enough alone for now. Maybe we can reconcile later, but only after she accepts the consequences of her actions."

Ranma paused and looked quizzically at Kasumi, "Mom, when did you change? I mean you used to be, well . . ."

"Oblivious?" Kasumi helpfully filled in a word.

"Well, yeah. I mean you would have never stood up to mom, ah I mean . . ."

Call her "Auntie Saotome like the rest of us Ranma."

Ranma grinned in understanding and replied, "Yes, mom." She then continued. "Well, I was wondering what happened here while I was gone last month."

Kasumi paused and then took her daughter's hand as she began to explain while they continued to walk forward together their skirts swaying gracefully in unison.

.o0o. .o0o.

Nabiki was relaxing in the hot furo sighing with contentment to be in her birth form for the first time in a week. She heard the door open behind her and guessing it was her elder sister, called, "Hey Kasumi, this is the first time in years that you've joined me in the bath. I'm glad though as I've a lot to tell you,"

Ranma snickered as she sat on a washing stool near Nabiki and began to wash up. She waited until Nabiki seemed to be coming out of shock before she announced the obvious. "Sorry 'Aunt Nabs', but it's only your 'niece' Ranma. Mom is still working on sorting out the laundry you and grandpa Soun brought home. I hope you don't mind if I join you, after all it's only 'us girls' and I do have a few things I want to talk to you about too."

"Ranma?"

"Yep, in the flesh. Humm, can you move over Aunt Nabs?"

Nabiki suddenly flushed and with a yell of "pervert!" swung at Ranma. Ranma caught the overextended fist and flipped Nabiki crashing through the bathroom door to land sprawled naked at her father's feet.

Soun looked at Nabiki at his feet who was glaring at both him and Ranma in turn. His eyes rose to see Ranma sitting in the furo casually waving at him, then everything went black for him as his eyes rolled up and he fainted backwards into the hall.

Nabiki rose, stalked into the bathing room and snarled at Ranma. "Just what the hell are you doing joining me in the bath. It seems that Akane really was right about you being a pervert after all."

Ranma calmly returned her glare with one of her own. "I doubt that 'aunt Akane' was right about any moral issue involving sex in her life." She paused and added reflectively, "Well, that's what I seem to recall though it's been over 17 years since I really talked to her, though I've seen her around a couple of dozen times since I left, so I could be wrong."

"Seventeen years?" Nabiki hesitated then continued, "But you were only gone for less than a month."

Ranma shrugged her lean shoulders as she pulled her hair back out of her face. "Maybe for you, but for me I lived 17 years as a girl and a warrior." Her face softened as she smiled at Nabiki, "I'm sorry for pulling that stunt on you but after all the stuff I sort of remembered you doing to me, I thought you deserved it." Her smile waned a bit as she continued; "I remember being a boy once, but now I'm a girl. Not just because I'm locked in this body but because my heart and mind have changed too."

Nabiki noticed that Ranma's eyes seemed to lose focus as she continued almost to herself, "It took me almost a decade to realize that becoming a girl was really a blessing as it was the only way to heal a lot of the damage that the panda had caused me."

Nabiki re-entered the bath and held her niece as a few tears began to drop from Ranma's eyes. "It's Ok Ranma." She whispered inanely.

Ranma returned the hug as her tears stopped, "I know aunt Nabs. Really it's OK; it's just that sometimes I wonder what I would have been like as a guy if 'pops' hadn't messed up my life so bad."

Nabiki gently pushed the other girl away from her somewhat unnerved by how easily she had dismissed the loss of her manhood. But she answered the unspoken question nevertheless. "Ranma, as a guy you were a jerk; a great jerk, honorable, brave, handsome and very skilled; but still a jerk." Nabiki paused and then smiled at her niece as she added, "And you were my role model for handling the curse and becoming a martial artist. I think you'd have been a real world class hunk if you could have controlled your ego and mouth."

Ranma giggled as they both got out of the furo, "Well, I think that that problem is mostly solved. 'Course now I'm a 'babe' instead of a hunk."

Nabiki wrapped a towel about herself and grinned as she tried an experimental leer, "Well, I can attest to that."

Ranma giggled as she tossed cold water on her aunt and yelled. "UNCLE NABS! You're a pervert" and then tossed 'him' out the window to sprawl in the koi pond barely covered by the wet towel.

Ranma grabbed a towel too and hummed merrily to herself as she strolled to her room to get dressed. Soun heard her mumbling to herself in her room, "I can hardly believe that Nabiki has my birth body as her cursed form. Eww, that's weird. Even though mom told me about it, it's still just weird."

Kasumi knelt beside her 'brother' and asked, "Nabiki, were you peeking on my daughter?"

Nabiki glared at Kasumi, noting the barely constrained mirth dancing in her eyes. "No, I was NOT peeking. I'm a GIRL, not a pervert, I mean guy."

Kasumi looked meaningfully at the damp towel that was starting to drift a bit in the pond as Nabiki sat there. "Could have fooled me."

Nabiki blushed as he pulled the towel more firmly in place, his arms nervously moving to cover absent breasts. "Ah come on big sister, you know I was just teasing Ranma." Nabiki paused and then added, "Well, she was teasing me too. I never expected her to walk in on me in the bath on purpose let alone toss me out the window like that." There was a long companionable pause before he continued, "She's changed a lot. The old Ranma would have been the one to end up in the pond instead of me."

Kasumi nodded in agreement before saying, "Yes, that's true. But the old Ranma is only a memory of an abused and betrayed boy who lived 17 years ago as far as SHE is concerned. Nabiki, a word of advice; you don't know this person. Forget what you remember about Ranma and get to know her all over again." As Kasumi rose to her feet she clarified, "Don't forget, she's my daughter and physically, mentally and emotionally she's barely 16 now. So treat her accordingly. It's something I expect of both you and daddy."

Nabiki returned to the house only to find Soun already in the bath. With a grimace for the necessity, Nabiki rinsed the pond water off outside before dressing in a clean gi.

A bit later the family of four; father, daughter, neo-son and granddaughter sat down to eat together as a family unit for the first time. Soun and Nabiki were glaring at the giggling Kasumi and Ranma sitting opposite them. A smiling Ranma placed a filled plate before Soun, "Here, grandfather, I made this just for you."

Soun looked down at his plate and nearly fainted. Whatever it was, it was fluorescent green with speckles of orange something or other. Desperately, Soun looked for help from his children only to see Ranma's wide innocent eyes sparkling with hopeful anticipation backed by Kasumi's stern gaze and Nabiki's barely suppressed mirth. With resignation and a glimmering of tears, Soun brought a piece of 'it' to his lips and began chewing.

His surprise was complete when he heard Kasumi giggle, "It's amazing what one can do with food coloring these days."

"Yeah, mom," snickered Ranma, "We got it to look almost exactly like aunt Akane's cooking. Fortunately it only looks like it but tastes normal."

Nabiki chortled, "So, if you managed to mimic little sister's cooking, are you going for the whole uncute tomboy route?" Nabiki suddenly froze as he saw a huge dura-steel mallet with the words 'McGregor Baka Smasher' engraved on the side in front of his face. The handle was loosely held in his niece's hands.

"Care to repeat that, Uncle Nabs?" Nabiki shook his head 'no' desperately and Ranma allowed the chi mallet construct to dissipate. Ranma remarked casually, "I may be a tomboy, but I'm a cute tomboy and don't you ever forget it."

Nabiki swallowed nervously while Kasumi giggled as Soun finally fainted from relief.

The rest of the meal was eaten in relative peace, though Ranma did have another surprise in store for them. Noticing Ranma eying his boy form curiously from time to time, Nabiki finally asked her, "Ok Ranma, what's up? Never seen yourself before?"

Ranma blushed at being caught but responded nevertheless. "Actually yes, and it sort of surprised me until mom told me about the four 'Ranma' curses. During the 17 years that I was gone, Akane and Ryouga would track me down once or twice a year. I guess it was Ryouga from the way he talked. I mean he looked like my boy form sometimes and it freaked me out at first. I pretty much just ignored them until they got lost again though it really puzzled me how they kept finding me on all those different worlds and different times."

That evening, Soun and Nabiki watched in awe as Ranma and Kasumi sparred. Kasumi was demonstrating that she too was heir to martial arts though both were surprised that Kasumi preferred to train in kendo. Her use of a practice katana instead of wooden bokken was rather intimidating. When asked about it, Kasumi casually remarked that she was used to using real blades after cooking for the past ten years.

Ranma was humming merrily to herself on the way to school the next morning when her danger sense went off. She jumped atop the wall beside her as a weighted net enveloped the space she had been a moment before. Genma-curse glared at her and snarled, "Boy, get down here now. We have training to do. And why are you wearing that girly dress?"

Ranma started in shock at seeing this older looking version of her former self and then paused in thought a moment longer before answering. Her answer was unexpected as she screamed at the top of her lungs, "HELP! I'm being kidnapped, rapist, pervert, help me somebody! Please call the police."

Genma panicked and was gone in a flash. He and the police went way back together and thanks to Ranma's new mental skills, she knew which buttons to push on the old man.

Ranma chuckled as she held her hands above herself in a victory clasp, "Another flawless victory!" she crowed. She jumped off the fence and proceeded onward to her first day in her new school, her long braided red hair swinging in counter rhythm to her hips as she strolled along.

.o0o. .o0o.

Nabiki was sitting under the tree in the schoolyard eating her lunch alone when Akane and Ryouga-curse stumbled onto her out of some nearby bushes. Seeing their eyes become fixed on her lunch as their stomachs rumbled in unison, she paused and then wordlessly handed most of her lunch over to her younger sister. She needed to talk to her and this was one way of breaking the ice.

Akane and Ryouga-curse finished the bento in moments. They sighed as Nabiki asked, "Akane, I thought you and Ryouga had lots of supplies. What happened?"

Akane blushed as she slowly answered, "Well, I . . . I guess cooking on a campfire is different 'cause it never seemed to turn out. Or maybe the ingredients were bad. I don't know."

Nabiki raised an eyebrow as she asked "ALL the ingredients were bad, how odd?"

Akane blushed and admitted, "Ok, so I can't cook. Alright?"

Nabiki put her hand on her sister's shoulder, "Well, it's a starting point. As long as you were sure that you 'knew it all' there was nothing that anybody could teach you."

Akane nodded in understanding. "Yeah, I see that now." She smiled shyly at Ryouga-curse, "My husband has been helping me both with my martial arts and cooking too."

Nabiki smiled wanly at the two but did not offer any congratulations.

Akane waited and then slumped as the silence extended. "Why?" She asked softly.

Nabiki slowly answered, "Honor is important to our family and both of you dishonored the Tendou and Saotome honor yet neither of you has even made an attempt to even apologize."

Ryouga-curse snarled, "Apologize! To Ranma, NEVER! Because of Ranma Saotome I've seen hell and Akane deserved better than him anyway." Akane nodded with a tight grin.

Nabiki smoothed out her skirt as she waited for their emotions to settle a bit before replying. At length she finally stated softly, "He had his problems I'll admit. But he did have honor, more than both of you together." She held up her hand to forestall their angry response, "It's my turn to talk so shut up."

Seething but silent, the Hibiki couple glared at Nabiki as she continued, "Besides both of you seem to overlook the fact that you soiled MY family's honor as well. The Saotome honor doesn't really matter now, as the young man named Saotome Ranma doesn't exist anymore. But I do have an adopted niece named Tendou Ranma now and the Tendou honor is important to me, Ranma and her mother Kasumi."

Nabiki's eyes were glittering bits of dark ice as she said this last. Akane and Ryouga-curse hesitated when they saw this. They glanced at each other and then Akane nervously responded for the couple, "Nabiki, I . . . we . . . we're sorry. It's just that Ranma made us both so mad that he sort of drove us together. It gave us something to share in common and well, we sort of fell in love. I was embarrassed at first but I figured it served him right after all the girls he was chasing all the time."

Nabiki shook her head as she sighed and said, "Akane, I can see how it happened. That doesn't make it right. I'm not surprised that even after you finally learned the truth about your cooking, you still manage to delude yourself about Ranma."

"We know all about that pervert," snarled Akane as Ryouga-curse nodded.

"NO!" yelled Nabiki in Akane's face. "You KNOW almost nothing about Ranma. You two have been so focused on your 'righteous anger' that you never allowed yourselves to see the real Ranma lest your self-righteousness be threatened." She took a deep breath and continued, "First of all, Ranma is an honorable person, that's why he was recruited by the angel in the first place and not either of you. Second, Ranma never chased any girls; he was so busy running from them, his friends, enemies and fiancées that having a girl friend was the last thing on his mind. Any perversion you saw there was in your mind, nowhere else."

Nabiki paused to let this sink in before adding, "And last but not least, it doesn't matter anymore as HE doesn't exist. Ranma is my niece; she is a girl permanently. Ranma is a girl in heart, mind and body. The old Ranma is still there but the essence has been purified and healed. The world-class martial artist that would give his life to save even a dishonorable enemy like you Ryouga, that person is still there; she just wears a skirt to school now."

"Nabiki?" Akane's brow was wrinkled in thought, "You speak as if you've met Ranma, yet Kasumi said the jerk would be gone for years and it's only been a month. We should know as we've been chasing that jerk all this time." Her grin was feral as she continued, "We tracked him down every day, sometimes a couple of times a day except for this past week, and each time he avoided our justice. Even if he's back, nobody changes that fast."

Nabiki shrugged and replied, "Yeah, Ranma's back even though it's only been a month for us. Kasumi 'forgot' to mention that for every day that passed here, a year elsewhere would pass for Ranma. For Ranma, almost 17 years have passed. She barely remembers either of you and even then, the memories aren't very good."

"Revenge, at last, I will have my revenge!" snarled Ryouga-curse as he stood dramatically. He paused as he noticed Nabiki's glare, "What! I'm entitled to my revenge for all he's done to me!"

Nabiki held up two fingers and said, "You forgot two things; first, SHE is YOUR niece now and NOT some boy named Saotome Ranma. Second, you attack MY niece and the Tendou family will declare blood feud against the Hibiki family despite Akane being my sister. This I swear as the heir to the Tendou School."

Ryouga-curse paused and looked nervously at his wife. He knew how desperately she wanted to reconcile with her family and quite frankly he did not want to drag his family into a blood feud. The idea of confronting Kasumi as she defended her daughter was not an exactly glorious image to consider.

Ryouga-curse sat down again with a heavy sigh, "Alright. I won't attack Ranma, but he'd better watch his mouth, 'cause I won't put up with anything from him."

"Her"

"Huh?"

"Her," Nabiki nonchalantly repeated. "You don't seem to hear very well, how many times do I have to tell the two of you; Ranma's permanently a girl not only in body but in heart and mind as well. In fact, her adoption certificate says that she's barely 16 now so she's legally younger than all of us. So if you attack her, the law would see it as an adult male attacking a young girl and you could go to prison. At the very least, the Hibiki reputation would be stained . . . again . . . some more."

Ryouga-curse swallowed as he realized that things now really were different than last month.

Nabiki paused a moment and then asked, "There's one thing I don't understand. Both of you were hunting Ranma for revenge and 'justice'. Exactly what does he owe you? I mean you made his life miserable. You betrayed him to the extent that he was willing to give up everything he was just to be rid of the two of you. From my point of view, Ranma's the one that should be seeking revenge, not you two."

Ryouga-curse, snarled "He made my life hell. He's a coward because he ran out on our duel and because of him I'm cursed. He tormented the most wonderful girl in the world even while he was leading on other girls so he's also dishonorable."

Nabiki noticed that Akane was smiling in approval at her husband. Nabiki slowly shook her head in wonderment at the obtuseness of the couple. She softly said, "I think that both of you need to see a mental health specialist."

Akane frowned at the comment and hissed, "What do you mean by that?"

Nabiki sighed and said, "Ranma is the most honorable person I know. Even Heaven recognized this by selecting her as an Angel-trainee. On the other hand, you Ryouga are one of the most dishonorable persons I've ever met. You were late for a duel, so you blamed Ranma instead of doing the honorable thing and admitting your error. You were the one who chose to travel to China. Ranma may have had some part in cursing you but you were equally to blame, yet once again you shove all your blame onto her. You slept with Akane in your pig form before finally seducing her. Ranma sacrificed his manhood to be out of your lives and incidentally curing you, but all the two of you can do is hunt her down for some sort of 'justice' based on the idea that her leaving has caused you some hardship. It's sort of weird, you don't want Ranma around yet you seek to punish her when she leaves. As far as I'm concerned you are both as dishonorable and mentally unstable as either of the Kunos." She paused and then added softly, "I'm glad the two of you found each other but I'm also glad that you don't live at home anymore. The rest of us don't need your anger and stupidity in our lives." With that she got up and went to class, leaving the two Hibiki's sitting there stunned.

.o0o. .o0o.

Akane spent the remainder of the afternoon explaining her absence from school for the past month and making arrangements to make-up the work. Ryouga enrolled in school as well; surprisingly he had been taking correspondence classes to keep up with his grade level. But he decided that he'd make the effort (with his wife's help) to attend school regularly.

The couple met Nabiki after school and they walked home together as she had offered to try and make peace for them with the rest of the family. It was agreed that Akane and Ryouga would make their home with his parents for the time being if Nabiki was able to provide the address for him as neither he nor Akane recalled it.

Ranma paused just as she about to enter the house. She felt two vaguely familiar auras, only to have her suspicions confirmed as she saw her aunt Akane and uncle Ryouga sipping tea and squirming under Kasumi's mild glare. She mentally scanned them from a distance; sweat beading her brow from the effort as this always strained her more the further away her target was. She blanched at first at the sheer amount of righteous anger the two emitted, but then her lips drew in thin parallel lines as she cautiously entered the room from the hallway. She grimaced when she noticed that Ryouga-curse was wearing Ranma's former boy form. Then she snickered to herself and mumbled softly to herself, "I guess I really did curse him, didn't I, he's me now!"

Ranma silently entered, kissed her grandfather on the cheek, sat next to her mother and quietly hugged her. She waved 'hi' to her aunt Nabiki before asking Kasumi, "Mom? I'm a bit hungry. Can I have a snack before dinner?"

Kasumi smiled and said, "I made you a sandwich, it's in the kitchen in the fridge. Are you going to practice before dinner?"

"Yes, m'am." She grinned back, "You coming too?"

"Yes, I'll meet you in the dojo shortly." Kasumi watched her daughter rise to leave.

Neither were surprised to hear Akane growl. "Well, aren't you even going to say hello to us?"

Ranma turned to face the Hibiki couple and tersely remarked, "Not if I can help it." She then turned to walk into the kitchen as they sputtered.

"Ranma!"

Ranma turned to face Soun, "Yes, grandfather?"

Soun glared as he said to her, "That was rude, not the behavior I'd expect of a young lady."

Ranma grinned impishly, "But grandfather, I'm not a lady. I'm a tomboy." She stuck out her tongue before continuing in a more serious vein. "Besides, they have no honor and I'd rather not have anything to do with them, ever."

Akane's face blanched and she sat back on her heels. Ryouga exploded however, and he yelled as he rose to his feet and took a stance. "Damn you! You're the one without honor, DIE Ra . . . urk?"

Ryouga-curse blanched as he took in the three blades at his throat. Soun's naginata he understood, Nabiki's katana was a surprise, but a large kitchen knife held by Kasumi? He carefully sat down and decided that maybe he'd better reconsider the situation. Ranma meanwhile had ignored him and was munching her sandwich as she casually walked up the stairs to her room to change out of her school uniform.

Akane was flustered by the feeling that something was different as she noted the graceful feminine sway of Ranma's walk. She poured the hot water that Kasumi handed her over her husband. She much preferred his original form to that of her former fiancée's. Apparently so did everyone else as she noted the relieved sighs from her family.

Ranma effortlessly breezed through one of her most advanced kata at a speed that left afterimages of her movements. Having sufficiently warmed up, she picked up a steel practice katana and began to work her way through the Jurian sword forms. Ryouga noticed with a chill that the sword was glowing with chi and he could barely see her movements. He grimaced when he saw that a rough-hewn boulder sitting on a pair of metal sawhorses was suddenly squared-off with polished sides from sword cuts not even seen. Ryouga knew that he could neither dodge nor survive attacks like those. He was suddenly glad that he had been prevented from attacking the young girl before him.

Akane murmured to him, "It's hard to believe that she not only changed her mind about weapons, but got so good as well." She paused and added, "I wonder what the stone is for?"

Ryouga shrugged then stiffened as Kasumi answered from behind them, "She uses the stones for practice, both for developing power by actually cutting stone and in precision by doing it accurately. We sell the cut stones to local builders." She added, "Actually, my daughter is taking it easy during practice." She paused, and then continued, "I want you both to realize that Ranma is not the person you remember. She is a warrior, a warrior who has killed several times and will not hesitate to do so again if she feels that that action is appropriate. Consider yourselves warned."

Akane shuddered as she recalled how she and her husband had treated Ranma in the past. She turned to Ryouga, "I'm a little scared. Honey, can we go home now?"

Ryouga nodded and started off before being jerked back by his wife. She frowned at him as he blushed and began to follow her lead instead. Even though peace had been made, their welcome was still tenuous. Thankfully, Nabiki had been able to identify the Hibiki home address and had even used the Internet to print out a map for them.

.o0o. .o0o.

Nabiki was frustrated. She had always considered Ranma to be a dumb jock, but to discover that Ranma was probably a genius was a shock; though in hindsight it shouldn't have been all that surprising. His ability to learn martial arts moves nearly instantly as well as keeping up with his class grade level despite sleeping and prolonged absences all spoke of exceptional ability. Still it bugged her to realize that her niece was probably smarter than she was. And to top it off, with her curse, she now qualified as the 'dumb jock' in the family instead.

Soun had not taken well to the news that Kasumi was heading off to college this coming fall though he was obviously surprised that Ranma was not only graduating early with Nabiki but had been accepted into college as well. Surprised was actually a massive understatement. Both Soun and Nabiki had been shocked to learn that Ranma and Kasumi had both been accepted into a premedical program and might be given partial scholarships to study at Tokyo University.

Nabiki was desperately trying to follow them. No way was she going to remain home alone with her father. He was already starting to plan some additional 'training trips' with his son. A few of them sort of reminded her of some of the things Ranma had said when vaguely describing his training trip with the old panda. Somehow that was not all that surprising considering that both Soun and Genma had trained together under Happosai.

'Humm, Happosai,' mused Nabiki. "I wonder where the old freak got too."

Ranma paused when she heard Nabiki mumbling to herself. The name was out of her past but still evoked unpleasant memories. "What happened to the old pervert?" she asked.

Nabiki replied, "He was mad when both Akane and you vanished from the house just days apart. He had left vowing to find you both and to 'comfort' the two of you in your time of trial. Thankfully no one has seen him since then."

(Meanwhile, in the Royal palace, Tsunami and Washu were stalking a certain underwear thief who had an uncanny ability to elude capture.)

Nabiki watched Ukyou as she flirted with Ranma under the watchful eyes of Kasumi. She was filled with unease as she got the story about Ukyou's intentions from her elder sister. 'This wouldn't do at all' she thought to herself.

Sunday, a few days later Nabiki-kun invited Ranma to go with him to get some ice cream. They took their cones to the park and walked side-by-side reminiscing about some of the events that the park had seen.

'Now to stake my claim' thought Nabiki to himself as he turned toward Ranma in a secluded part of the park. His hand gently caught Ranma's shoulder and deftly turned her toward him. All those years of dealing with reluctant financial prey had given Nabiki some skill in subtly maneuvering people.

Eyes wide, Ranma froze in place as Nabiki-kun leaned in to kiss her. It wasn't a short kiss. It was lingering and sensual and in the end, Ranma's arms gradually embraced the girl turned boy and drew him closer.

When they finally drew apart, Ranma asked a simple question, "Why?"

'Manfully' resisting the urge to give a flippant answer, Nabiki slowly drawled, "Because I think I'm falling in love with you. I do know I really care for you." Seeing the confusion in her eyes, he continued. "It started about the time we were engaged for a week. I thought it was just something I was doing to annoy Akane and make a few yen, but I . . . I found that I actually missed you after I gave you back to sis." Nabiki sighed and continued quietly, "I kept quiet about it 'cause everybody thought you belonged to her. You left soon after she chose Ryouga, so I never got a chance to tell you."

Ranma shook her head, a quizzical frown on her elfin face. "I don't understand though, how can you feel that way about me now? I mean, look at me, I'm a girl just like you . . . well, I mean." Ranma paused in confusion, unsure how to make her point.

Nabiki giggled, an odd sound coming from the young man. "Ranma, I understand about curses now." He pointed at her and said, "You are Ranma. No matter what the body you wear, you are still Ranma." He grasped her hand and placed it on his chest over his heart. "And I'm still Nabiki, whether boy or girl, I'm still me." He pressed her hand closer to himself and finished, "And I still care for you, boy, girl or whatever, I still care for you."

Ranma grinned up at him, "That's gonna cost ya, trust me." Her grin widened into a broad smile, "You know what they say about payback and I owe you. I may care for you too, but, well, I owe you."

Nabiki audibly gulped as he swallowed. I occurred to him that what he'd heard about payback was all wrong; she was beautiful, awesome and a babe instead. Not to mention she scared the living shit out of him just now.

Ranma grinned at him and asked, "Well now. What shall I do with you?" She paused and studied him with a look that reminded him of someone appraising a yard sale item. "I have an idea. You gonna do what I want?"

Nabiki's years of experience as the 'Ice Queen' immediately rose to the forefront, "Maybe, if you tell me what it is first; but no promises."

The mischievous light faded in Ranma's eyes as the less than trusting side of Nabiki's persona was again revealed. "Yeah, maybe you're right. No promises, besides, you are my uncle so I guess that's for the best anyway." Her face was now expressionless as she quickly scanned Nabiki's mind and saw a faint image of herself envisioned as some sort of prize that Nabiki desired. The image wasn't very clear as Nabiki was the sort of person who developed natural mental shields due to the discipline they placed themselves under. Disappointed, she turned away to go home. There were a few scattered beads of sweat on her brow from the mental effort she'd just made.

Panicking, Nabiki reached for Ranma's shoulder only to find himself flung to the nearby wall of the park. Despite the slight spinning of the surroundings he managed to blurt out. "NO Ranma, please stop. Please don't go."

"Why not?"

"I . . . I'm sorry. Trust, especially blind trust is hard for me to do. But I do care you, please believe me." Nabiki hesitated a moment and then added, "Whatever it was you wanted, I promise. OK?"

Ranma sadly looked at Nabiki and then said, "You still don't understand. You say you care for me, maybe even love me, but trust is one of the key elements of love. You say you might love me but you don't trust me anymore than Akane did. That makes me doubt that you could love me. Right now I think you're just playing one of your old 'play with Ranma's mind' games. I don't see the start of love." She added, "Besides, I don't think you're my type anyway. Honor is pretty important to me."

Nabiki shuddered as specters of her recent past rose up to haunt him. "Ranma, what about our kiss? Doesn't that prove anything?"

Ranma shrugged prettily and tossed back her hair and a rebuttal as she left, "Ask Satazini for advice about what a kiss proves." She grimaced slightly, "After all he was the first to kiss me and there have been a few others since then."

Nabiki's face blanched as he digested that parting remark. He'd forgotten about the skating pervert's stolen kiss even though she'd teased Ranma about it unmercifully at the time. Nabiki felt the stirring of jealousy as he thought about what that 'others' comment might have meant.

Ukyou stood frozen in place. She'd seen Nabiki-kun kiss Ranma and noticed how Ranma had gradually embraced 'him'. Tears ran down her face. 'This wasn't fair,' she thought to herself. 'I don't have a chance against Nabiki.' Eyes closed, she missed the pair's confrontation. Finally she began to move, 'I have things to do if I want any chance at all,' she thought.

.o0o. .o0o.

C & C to Cloud Dreamer

.o0o. .o0o.

.o0o. .o0o.

Chapter Two: 'Deposit' Returned

.o0o. .o0o.

Malcolm materialized next to the Tendou koi pond and sat there a moment. He didn't think his presence had been observed until Kasumi silently handed him a cup of tea.

The two of them sat there a moment and watched the sun finally clear the rooftops as it rose on a Sunday afternoon 17 days after Ranma had returned.

Malcolm reached out and gently stirred the water; 'troubling' it as angels of old were reputed to have done at the ancient pool of Bethesda.

"What is it Malcolm?" quietly asked Kasumi.

"Closure," somberly replied the scarred angel. "Ranma was a male for 17 years, a female for another 17 years and undecided the remaining time. He was gone from here for 17 days and she has been back for 17 days; now it's time to give Ranma a chance to make some choices." As the ebony angel stirred the water, blue streamers began appearing out of the air and sinking into the water gradually causing it to glow slightly.

Kasumi shivered, she remembered where she'd seen that before, only then the streamers had been leaving the koi pond as the residue of Ranma's 'curse' had dissipated at sundown five weeks ago. With a measure of foreboding she asked, "Malcolm, is this necessary?"

Malcolm sighed and nodded. "I don't want to do this to her, but I do as I am told instead of what I want in cases like this. The Boss does know what is best in the long run."

Kasumi sighed also as she refilled his cup and then handed him a towel. After he had dried his hand, she passed the plate of fresh baked rolls to him and they sat in companionable silence for a little bit.

Nabiki instantly awoke to the slight sound of her door opening. She waited patiently and then chuckled as she heard the bucket of icy water topple from its place above her door.

Her father stifled a scream as he dropped the bucket of water he held and started shivering. He glared at his heir as she turned on the light and smirked at him.

"I told you father, don't pull that crap on me. I hate having to dry my bedding out just because you aren't any smarter than that damn panda." As she said this, her smirk turned feral and Soun backed out of the doorway, once again deciding that doing things like his old training partner had done might not be all that great an idea.

Both were distracted by the sounds of combat outside. Pulling on a pair of sweats over her pj's, Nabiki followed her father to the porch. Both stopped in awe as they watched Ranma in combat against an ebony angel with blindingly white wings.

A gale of laughter to the side caught their attention and they saw Kasumi with a wide smile as she laughed with abandon. "Come on Ranma, you said you could take down that 'bird-brain'. Go get her Malcolm! Dunk her, dunk her in the pond to teach her that she's still got something to learn."

Both fighters paused a moment, smiled at Kasumi and then launched themselves at each other again. Malcolm flexed his wings as if to take flight and then used his entire body to sweep Ranma's legs out from under her as she started to jump into the air. The tactic caused the red head to twirl like she was doing a rapid midair cartwheel.

With a startled yelp, Ranma plummeted into the koi pond. The watching Tendous jerked with surprise as the pond flashed like a giant flashcube when the fiery haired girl sank into the water. All gave a sigh of relief as they saw Ranma quickly rise from the pond unharmed. They snickered at the baleful glare she leveled at Malcolm.

Before Ranma could resume the training, Kasumi intervened and said, "Ranma, that's enough for this morning. I want to have a chance to talk with our friend so I want you to go take a bath before breakfast."

Ranma paused undecided then smiled at Kasumi, "Yes, mother." She grinned at the pleased blush that warmed Kasumi's face.

Nabiki was still stretching out the kinks as she poured herself a cup of coffee when she heard Ranma yelp from the bathroom. The voice didn't sound right she thought to herself as she sprinted toward Ranma. Surprisingly, she was third in line at the bathroom door behind Kasumi and Malcolm.

She felt a bit faint as she gasped at the sight of a man she thought she'd never see again, well at least not as a male anyway. Ranma was standing in the furo, obviously frozen in shock at his transition. Kasumi and Nabiki were frozen in shock as well. Ranma's male form was much more mature than when last seen. The man's changes echoed the changes that had happened in the female form over the past 17 years. The last residues of the baby fat had vanished as he had grown taller, his chest deepening as his shoulders widened above slender hips and the whole body filled out with dense muscle mass. Now standing about 6'2" and weighing a solid 220 pounds Nabiki estimated as she flushed gradually brighter and brighter. She sighed regretfully as Malcolm closed the door leaving him and Ranma alone.

The two sisters turned to each other, noticed each other's blushes and blushed harder yet before starting to giggle and lapsing into each other's arms before finally finding their voices. "Oh my" sighed Kasumi regretfully.

Nabiki just grinned a bit before responding, "Oh, yeah! I can see why you might be having second thoughts about having adopted that 'wild horse' as a son of yours." Nabiki smiled and whispered, "Mine" to herself.

Kasumi fixed her younger sister with a questioning eye and repeated back to her, "Mine? What do you mean by that? Ranma is your niece . . . nephew I guess also. So that sort of eliminates you doesn't it despite your curse?"

Nabiki shrugged and replied, "I want Ranma, I don't care what gender he or she is anymore. I want the person inside the body more than anything else. And the relationship is a legal definition instead of a blood fact one so I don't consider it limiting. Besides you adopted a daughter named Tendou Ranma so the boy Saotome Ranma still exists." She sighed and continued, "I thought I could have anything I wanted if I just put my mind to it. Turns out that the only thing I really want anymore is somehow just out of reach and I don't know how to get closer."

She turned and walked back to her room to get dressed. As she walked away, her older sister watched her with thoughtful eyes.

Malcolm sat on the floor and waited until Ranma returned to reality. Ranma shuddered, shakily walked to the washstands and poured some cool water over himself. Relaxing somewhat as she saw her now familiar form reappear, she turned to Malcolm before sitting down and waiting.

The ebony angel smiled warmly at her, "I'm guessing that you thought you'd never have a gender problem again?"

"Yeah," Ranma nodded, "I mean you told me that I would have to surrender my birth form as payment to become an angel trainee."

Malcolm smiled warmly, "Do you remember what I had to surrender as my payment?"

Ranma though back, but it was just too long ago for her, "Huh, no."

"My mortality; I became immortal until I finally asked for my mortality back," he softly answered.

"Back?" was the confused reply, "But you aren't mortal, you're an angel."

"Yes, and I had to 'die' to become one." He paused, "That means I became mortal again, even if it was only briefly."

Ranma still looked confused.

"Ranma," began Malcolm's soft booming voice, "Why would the Creator 'charge' his followers for the privilege of doing good?"

Ranma scratched her head, "I dunno, now that you bring it up, it does seem sort of strange."

"There is no charge for doing good. Agreeing to give up your male form was only a test to see if you were willing to put the welfare of others before yourself." He smiled, "You passed, in fact you 'aced' the test and 'it' is now being returned to you so that you can decide for yourself what you want to do."

"I'm not sure I understand," Ranma hesitantly replied, "I mean, for example, how does what you say work for what you asked of the old ghoul?"

"You mean Ku Lon, elder of the Amazons?" asked Malcolm giving an implied reprimand. Ranma blushed and nodded. "Well," he softly started, his soft bass oddly echoing off the hard ceramic tiles of the bathroom; "She would argue vehemently with you, but her Amazon beliefs reflect not only an extreme bigotry in her culture but personal insecurities in her own life." He sighed, "She was unwilling to admit that males could be just as important as females and so she rejected the opportunity to learn about herself and eventually make an informed choice about what was important to her."

Malcolm softly added, "Ranma, when you agreed to undertake your training, you were required to surrender your birth form and eventually you actually became a girl in mind and heart as well. I have to admit that I was surprised at that and how natural it seems for you now. Now that your training is completed, your original form has been restored to you as you just found out. I wasn't too happy about this and the Boss even allowed me to argue even though I knew it was standard procedure. But He said that it wasn't fair to you for Him to make that choice for you or to exact a cost from you that He did not require from anyone else. So your curse is now unlocked again."

Ranma sat there, too stunned to coherently speak. She sat there; silent tears began streaming down her face as all her hard won gender certainties began to unravel. It was worse this time than the first time 'he'd' been cursed, or even when he had agreed to become a girl. She knew who she was, or she thought she did. Now she knew she could change more than her body and it scared her to be so uncertain of whom she was yet again.

Malcolm enfolded them both in his warm wings and held her in his arms. She gently wept and finally slept, still he held her. An hour later she woke. She lifted her head and wanly looked into his eyes, "Let me guess. It weren't no dream?"

Malcolm smiled at her and said, "It's another bit of change, a chance for more growth for you. Go get it girl, take this curse thing and beat the 'hell' out of it. You hear me? Go for it Ranma, make it your choice. What ever you chose, make it yours, alright?"

He held out a golden necklace, a yin/yang pendant dangling from it. "This is a gift from both me and 'The Man'; only you can remove it once you put it on and when you do decide to remove it, it will take with it the last remnants of the transformation magic and the form you are in at that moment will be truly your 'natural' form. It won't be a case of being 'locked' in any form, but it will simply be a matter of your choice becoming reality."

Ranma smiled, put on the necklace and snuggled a moment. "Malcolm, can you get me some clothes? I wasn't a guy very long but I don't think I have anything that Kasumi's son could fit very well. OK?"

Malcolm smiled and tousled her hair. "The Boss owes you on this. Let me go and get you something to wear, meanwhile, you have a bath to finish." With that, the ebony angel vanished dropping the girl on her rear.

Ranma frowned at first before snickering and finally laughing out loud softly. "Thanks Malcolm, I could always trust you to be there for me even as you set me on my butt whenever I needed it."

Ranma steeled herself and then stepped over to the furo and into his changed life. He sighed as he took stock of himself, noting the changes that had occurred. It was pretty obvious that even as his girl form was the best of both forms, so his new male form was the best of both as well. Only the changed focus between a feminine girl and masculine guy reflected the differences. Even as she had become a 'babe', he was definitely a 'hunk'. Apparently the Boss had made sure that Ranma had gotten the 'best' of both worlds in both forms.

.o0o. .o0o.

.o0o. .o0o.

incomplete

.o0o. .o0o.

C & C to Cloud Dreamer

.o0o. .o0o.

.o0o. .o0o.

Maybe use some of these ideas?

[Konsatu tells Ukyou about Ranma change, she decides to test the pond to see if it is once again a cursed pool. It is, but of the somewhat more 'buff' Ranma and works in reverse temperature. She doesn't find out immediately as a result. Nobody else realizes it either, fortunately nobody else falls in pond either.

Thinking it didn't work, she sets out for china immediately, meets shampoo at port in china per prior plans. Tries to get directions to Jusenkyo from her but doesn't tell her about Ranma, they start to share a bath when mayhem breaks out. Ukyou then confesses what's happened to Ranma once she realizes what occurred to her. Shampoo is amazed to learn what Ranma's new form looks like. Both set off back to Nerima, hunt for Ranma is back on, but with some restraint since Ranma is now an 'Amazon friend'.]

.o0o. .o0o.