Disclaimer: Ain't mine. Don't give me money (If you feel that you absolutely have to, I promise I will keep quiet!).
Author's note: Shampoo is Clearly the Best Choice for Ranma.
Began this fic almost a year ago, lost computer access for a few weeks, lost interest. Interest is now renewed, hopefully enough so as to not leave the readers hanging this time.
Now then. If you clicked on this story you know that eventually we'll see a Ranma/Shampoo pairing. That's gonna take a bit of work, however, because my massive ego demands that I take up the story after the end of the manga, rather than the anime. And that means a certain other girl has got a bit of a head start.
Fear not, though the road may be dark and dreary, the Heroine will prevail.
We pick up about a month after the failed wedding.
The Blue Thunder of Furinkan High was strategically retaining a covert position behind a corner in the corridor.
Today would be the day. Today the Evil Sorcerer would be brought down.
He had begun to lose hope, these last few months. The Fair Maiden Akane had continued to resist Ranma's wicked charms, but how long could she keep it up? It was tragically evident that she was slipping further under the control of the vile sorcerer for every month that went by.
But no more. He had finally mustered the courage to ask Nabiki for her most expensive secret.
The key to defeat Ranma was literally in his hands.
It was so obvious. It had been right in front of him all this time. Right there in his father's collection of old American movies.
Still… the price for this weapon had been horrendously high…
He shuddered. But no more! From this day on, Saotome would be drenched in cold water Every Single Time he came to school until his evil spells were broken.
Kuno allowed himself to think of the Pig tailed girl's gratitude when finally the vile cur had been banished from Nerima... One of his men coughed. Kuno focused again. Ah, there he was. Saotome was coming closer. Laughing, speaking with his classmates.
Like they dared not pretend to laugh at his jokes!
Someone sighed behind him, but he paid them no heed. He leaped out before the Enemy of Women and held up his hand.
"What's that?" the sorcerer asked. He was terrified at the visage of the Blue Thunder; the Avenging Angel of Furinkan High.
The Avenging Angel threw the water balloon.
The evil magician cast a spell to remove himself from the water's course, and it hit an innocent. The criminal!
"Now!" he shouted. Black clad mercenaries jumped out from every door and window in the corridor, surrounding the madman, water balloons and water pistols at the ready.
"Surrender and we will spare your life!" he demanded.
"I know now what you are! Do not deny it, water will melt you where you stand!"
"Melt me where I… where did you get this?"
He jeered. "I have my ways. Fire! No, wait, Water!"
The captain of the mercenaries sighed again, as his men attacked.
Ranma took flight, grabbing hold of the ceiling. Then he screamed a few weak insults, but if he was so far reduced from fear alone, Kuno was ready to finish him off!
The vile sorcerer threw himself out the window, Kuno fast on his heels.
They landed not too far from the school gate, and Kuno half expected him to run with his tail between his legs. But the cad knew he had lost, and had apparently decided to make a last stand against the forces of justice.
Kuno blinked. There was an old woman standing on the wall behind Ranma.
He blinked again. It was that shrivelled up old monkey, Colonge.
"It is over, Saotome," he jeered. "Even the foreigners have mustered their courage to come finish you off in your moment of weakness! Just as the city states of Greece gathered at Thermopoly to cast out the Persians once and for all, so has China come to the aid of Japan in this final battle to end your evil reign!"
Ranma blinked, looked behind him, and turned back to him.
It was Kuno's turn to wonder. The mummy had gone.
Then she reappeared, just behind Ranma.
She knocked him over the head, took hold of him, and leaped back over the wall.
Kuno stood silent for a few moments, considering this.
Then he smiled.
Smile turned into laughter.
He threw his arms out, and laughed and laughed and laughed in triumph. And then he started off toward his father's office, to declare his victory over the intercom.
When Ranma woke up, pain made him keep his eyes closed. With his other senses, however, he noticed several things. And they did not form a pleasant picture.
He had a lump on his head, from the feel of it. He would have checked, but his arms were shackled. With metal. The rest of his body was shackled, too. In fact he seemed to be hanging in the air. He couldn't even turn his head. He would have tried to feel for the ground with his feet, but he doubted it would do much good, and it would probably reveal to his captor that he had woken up.
Who could the captor be, though?
"You are awake, Ranma."
The voice belonged to Cologne.
He opened his eyes.
They were in a basement of some sort. Lit by torchlight.
He frowned. "This under the Cat Café?"
She inclined her head.
"How long was I out?" he asked. It was probably not a good time to try to intimidate the old crone.
"I don't know, what day is it?"
She chuckled a little. "An hour, perhaps. Depending on how you do, it may take a little longer before I let you go, however."
He growled. "What do you want?"
"Hell of a way to start off."
"I wanted to be sure I had your undivided attention."
"I'd say you have managed that much."
"I don't want you to leave until I am certain you understand the point I am trying to get across."
"That I should marry Shampoo? How the hell is kidnapping me supposed to help with that?"
The matriarch of the Amazons shrugged. "I do not expect you to change your mind in just one sitting."
"Or in a hundred."
"Shampoo thought you might react this way."
"Yeah? Where is she? I would have thought she'd love to see me like this."
He put his all into a glare, which failed utterly to evoke any response from the old woman.
"That would be one of the misunderstandings I wanted to clear up."
He blinked. "Yeah?"
"But we can save that for another day."
He snorted. "Gonna knock me over the head next time you feel like having a chat?"
"Probably." She sounded unconcerned.
"It's possible I have underestimated you. You may come back on your own accord."
"Like hell I will!"
The elder sighed. "No, I think you are right. That will probably be a few weeks down the line.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"That we have many things to talk about, and only one or two of them will happen today."
"You gonna let me go after that?"
"Then get to it."
There was a metallic clunk behind him, but he couldn't turn his neck enough to see the source of the sound.
Cologne started again. "I heard you saved Akane's life, Ranma."
That started up parts of his brain he had come to associate with seemingly innocent offers from Nabiki.
"Very romantic, I gather."
"I- that- I-"
"Well I couldn't not save her!"
"Of course not. Especially not when she was only put in danger because of her relationship with you."
"I… would have saved her anyway."
"So what are you getting at?"
"You have been home for close to a month now. How are things between you?"
He glared again.
"I have all day, Ranma."
"Well, I've had about enough of talking with you for today."
"Thus the chains."
Well… that wasn't exactly fair, but at least it was clear.
"You promise you will let me go after this conversation?"
"Yes. When I say it is done."
"Then get to the point!"
"Do you want to marry Akane?"
Cheeks red, check. Stutter, check. Half expecting Akane to appear out of nowhere and mallet him at any moment, check.
The metallic, rattling sound returned.
Sudden suspicion. "Is Akane here?"
"I give you my word of honour she is not here."
"Now answer, Ranma."
"Do you wish to marry Akane Tendo?" her voice was smooth as a razor covered in honey.
He took a deep breath.
Well… he did. He liked her a lot. And as hard it was to admit, even to himself, he thought he actually did love her. Certainly he had been sure of it when he feared she had died.
There were a heck of a lot to work out, but since the showdown at Jusendo things had been a lot better between the two.
Ok, well, up until the wedding, but it wasn't exactly strange if things had been a little frosty after that.
The image of Akane in her wedding dress flittered to the front of his mind.
"I see," Cologne said.
He blinked. "Huh?"
"I can read auras, you know."
He blushed furiously.
"Now I want you to think for a moment."
"What's bad about Akane?"
He remained silent.
"The quicker you answer my questions, the quicker I will let you leave."
He took a deep breath again. "She's a tomboy. She isn't the least bit feminine and she gets jealous and violent for no reason."
"I see. And what are her good points?"
He gnashed his teeth.
"Save us time, Ranma."
He wasn't sure why, but it disturbed him that Cologne had stopped calling him son-in-law.
"She can be cute sometimes," he mumbled.
"Is that all?"
He frowned. "What am I supposed to say?" he demanded.
"She's kind to animals. And she likes to think the best of people."
"The women in your life and yourself excluded, of course," she said, making a dismissive gesture.
He thought that one over. "Like who?"
"Your friend Ryoga, for one."
Stab of dark emotions. "She's an idiot," he said.
Cologne raised an eyebrow.
"Well I can't help it! I've been giving her clues every day for a year!"
"So you found another thing about her you are dissatisfied with."
He closed his mouth. Then he growled. "You're not gonna be able to trick me into going to China, you know."
"Not today," Cologne agreed. "But let us see what your future would be like if you should choose to be with Akane."
He steeled himself. It wasn't like the old monkey was giving him any choice.
"Your future, Ranma. You are seventeen now. What would you like to do with your life?"
"Train. Become better. Become the best."
"Your potential not withstanding, Ranma, that would take a lot of time."
"When are you going to learn everything you need to learn?"
"Many of them?"
"All around Asia."
"Want to go to Europe, as well? Africa?"
"I… eventually, I guess. Don't know when that'll be, but at some point."
"And this is important to you?"
"Of course!" He glared at her. "Martial arts is my life!"
"Very good, Ranma."
"Where are you going with this?"
"Well, have you ever thought about settling down?"
"I've been living in Nerima for a whole year."
"Well I… okay, so that's not been very close to what "settling down" is supposed to mean."
"So you want to do that now? You want your life to calm down? Go to college?"
He laughed. "You- Are you kidding me? Me? Go to college?"
"I'm sure you could scrape the grades if you tried."
"But I don't want to!"
"I told you! Geesh, you never listen! I'm gonna train till I can kick the old creep's butt, and then I'm gonna train till I can kick your butt, and then I'm just gonna keep on going till I'm the best!"
"That's a little arrogant, Ranma."
He snorted. "It ain't gonna be easy, but I can do it."
"Ain't no but about it."
"Sounds like you are really going to keep focusing on martial arts, then."
"And… what about Akane?"
He blinked. "What?"
"Where does she fit in?"
He glared at the monkey. "None of your damn business."
"Shackles. You believe she would want to go with you on your long trips?"
He prepared to spit back a quick reply, but found no words to that.
"Or perhaps she would rather stay behind, and apply herself to rigorous training in the dojo."
"Were you aware Akane intends to go to college?"
Anything goes conversational technique number 4: Refuse to Answer.
"She has not being putting a lot of effort into the art lately, has she?"
"Will you cut off with the rhetororical questions?" he snapped.
She gave him a dry look. "They are not rhetorical. These are important matters, if you want to spend your future with the Tendo girl."
"Well it's not like I would have it any better chained down in your village!"
"I'm not gonna allow myself to get dragged back to China and be Shampoo's slave for the rest of my life!"
"Dear boy… as much as that isn't what I wanted to talk about today, that's just silly."
"It would have thought that much was obvious. But back to Akane.
"Because as reasonable as everything I have to say is, you will not be able to take it all in today."
"Well, never mind. Today's discussion is drawing to a close."
"I have one more question for you to ponder."
"Why do you think I am doing this?"
"What? You wanna drag me back to China, obviously."
"Why am I doing this as opposed to just dragging you back to China?"
"The heck should I know?"
"Indeed." And with that, Cologne blurred, and everything went black.
This is what chapter one looks like after a bit of re-editing. The ffnet machinery has managed to kill the formatting of my chapters, so I'll have to go through them all again to correct various problems. This will be done reasonably soon.
Remember to review after you've read the last available chapter!