S/He's All that Chapter 4: Resolutions
Disclaimer: Again, I own nothing involved in this though I'd think that would be evident since no one professional enough to try to make a living by writing would *ever* come up with something quite as ridiculous as this. And naturally, this is for fun, not for profit.
Ranma sighed as he felt the tingling feeling of the change ripple over his body as he sank into the furo. Damn it was good to be male again. The whole period business stunk. Sure, he had been stuck in girl-form for significantly longer before; the Chardin and Herb incidents both came to mind. But this was much worse in its own way. Granted, in this case he had known that he'd be back to normal (well, as normal as Ranma could ever claim to be) soon enough, but the hormones and general grossness factor were just terrible. One thing had certainly changed though. Ranma could no longer claim that he was just a guy like he used to like to. Guys simply did not bleed from their girl parts nor did they have a fully functioning womb, a fact that completely freaked Ranma out. Not that he (or more importantly, she) had any intention of proving just how functional it actually was. And she was just so much more emotional during her time than normal, which she desperately hoped wouldn't carry over to everyday.
Ranma let the hot water soothe his tense muscles as he relaxed in the furo, reveling in the return to his male body. Now if only he could figure out a way to get rid of the awkwardness permeating the house. Skuld had been incredibly terse with him recently and would quickly duck out of any room that he entered with a brilliant red blush on her face. Ranma figured he had done something silly like kiss her while he was under the effects of the Neko-ken, but he didn't know what he could do to break the tension. At least she wasn't inclined to hit him for whatever it was that he did to embarrass her.
'Oh well,' he thought as he lounged in the tub, 'at least this beats Nerima.' He thought back over his time in Nekomi. He had been spending the last few days hanging out with Urd and having a genuinely good time. He really liked all three of the Norns. Belldandy was so serene and peaceful and being in her presence made him feel like everything would be alright in the world. If he had to describe her using his improving skills at math Ranma might even have come up with the following equation: Belldandy = Kasumi squared. Skuld, on the other hand, was a genius and constantly impressed him with what she could build and had a childlike enthusiasm for life that was really infectious. She was also a lot less violent than he had come to think of a fiancée as being, though they weren't really connecting on all that much. Their interests weren't similar at all and things had been awkward between them pretty much since he first showed up. The most recent incident just made things worse.
Urd was another story though. Sure, the elder goddess was really uninhibited and had caused a lot of problems for Ranma in the short time he knew her, but she was also forcing Ranma to have fun and to figure out what s/he wanted out of life. She was someone he could relate to, tough on the surface, but secretly quite vulnerable. Though, thinking about how he found that out still brought a blush to his cheeks. They had gone out to karaoke again the previous night and she (Ranma refused to go out to sing as a male) had once again had to help Urd home. And this time, the inebriated goddess had poured out her heart while they walked, well in Urd's case stumbled, home. How she felt so lonely all the time because it had been centuries since she had truly connected with anyone aside from a few friends and her sisters. Her relationship with Mara reminded him a lot of his own with Ryoga, though her situation at least was changing for the better. And neither of them thought that they'd ever find someone to love them for who they were, Urd because she hadn't found someone in so long, and Ranma because of his curse. Of course, when she'd finished pouring out her heart, Urd had said how sweet Ranma was and how if s/he wasn't with her younger sister that she'd go after him herself. She then clumsily pecked Ranma on the lips before giggling and walking into a lamppost.
To be honest, Ranma didn't know what to think about his situation in Nekomi. All he knew was that, as confusing as it was, it was a lot better than still being in Nerima. He wasn't constantly beaten, fought over seriously like a prize, and while Mara loved to embarrass him, no one was really causing many problems. And perhaps best of all, no one was challenging him to ridiculous contests or trying to kill him. Sure, he liked martial arts, but the break was very nice.
Meanwhile, Skuld was sulking in her room. She blushed profusely thinking about the Neko incident. 'I can't believe that happened, felt nice though. But why did everyone have to see me have my… my first orgasm. Father, this is so embarrassing, what should I do? I know I'm being really unfair by treating Ranma so coldly, I know it isn't really her fault but every time I see her… why does this have to be so hard?'
'I need to get over this, I know it's not her fault, even if she did steal away my first experience it isn't like she was in control of herself. I just wish, I wish that it had been my choice. And with a guy, I'm sorry but I just can't think of her like that. Even if she's pretty it doesn't really do anything for me. Still, I've been taking this out on her and that isn't fair. I need to make it up to her somehow. I know, maybe I'll teach her how to use a computer,' Skuld thought happily as she left her room to go find the wayward martial artist. After a few minutes Skuld found herself in the kitchen with Belldandy. "Hey big sis, where's Ranma at?" she asked.
"Oh, hello little sister. I believe Ranma said that he was going to go look around town for a bit. He said something about looking around the university," Belldandy responded.
"Damn, he's out? Guess I'll have to talk to him later," Skuld said and started to walk back towards the hallway. Halfway there she stopped and turned around with a surprised look on her face. "Wait, he?"
"Oh my, you didn't know? Ranma's time is over," Belldandy said.
"Good, I'm sure he's very happy," Skuld said. 'And so am I, maybe things will be easier if he's back to male again. At the very least it can't hurt. Though, I think I'd have been even more upset if HE had stolen my first orgasm. It's just hard comfortable around her. Oh well, nothing to do about it until he gets back,' she thought as she wandered back to her room to play around with her computer.
Ranma was idly wandering around the Nekomi Tech campus, looking for something to do. For the first time in nearly a month, he was completely on his own. The college was beautiful though and he really hadn't spent much time out and about since coming to the temple.
"Ranma Saotome! I challenge you to a battle!" a male voice with an American accent shouted.
'Great, something to break the boredom. Been a while since someone recognized or challenged me, hopefully this'll be a good fight,' Ranma thought. "Alright, I'll accept the challenge, who are you?" Ranma turned around to see an American, a few inches less than 6' tall with a lean muscular build, short and spiky black hair and a generally handsome face.
"I'm Zach Siler of the Hacky-sack school of martial arts," the American said as he skillfully juggled one of the aforementioned objects between his feet and knees.
Ranma just dropped into a ready stance to await his opponent's first move. He noted a crowd gathering on the periphery to watch the fight. Zach started to speed up his movements, the hacky sack started to blur as it passed between shoulders, knees, feet and head. By this point, the onlookers couldn't even track the motion, though to Ranma, it was painfully slow. With a swift back flip, Zach sent the hacky sack flying straight towards Ranma's face with a cry of "Hacky-Sack Attack!"
A moment later, impact occurred. It stung a little, Ranma supposed, but really, he'd been hit harder when he was five. "Um, okay, was that it?" Ranma asked as he fingered the projectile. 'Sheesh, that was lame. Sure, I've seen some crazy styles but honestly, who uses a soft object as a weapon. Yeah, Okonomiyaki -based martial arts may sound more ridiculous, but at least Ucchan's spatula is sharp.'
"You resisted the mighty hacky-sack attack? You are truly a fearsome opponent, I suppose I'll have to use my hidden and mightiest technique!" Zach declared, proving that you don't need to be from Nerima to have severe personality disorders.
Zach pulled 16 more hacky sacks out and started to juggle them expertly. A few girls in the crowd swooned over the handsome American martial artist. Moments later, he sent them all flying towards Ranma with a cry of "Hacky-Sack School of Martial Arts Final Attack: Hacky-Sack Barrage!"
Ranma just casually caught all the soft projectiles before snorting, "Okay kid, are you done? I'd hate to have to actually knock you out."
"No, I'll be good," Zach said, chastised. He looked up with a determined expression that once again gained the attention of a few of the females in the crowd. "You are indeed a worthy opponent Ranma, we shall meet again!" He ran off into the sunset (hey, martial arts challengers have to do something cliché, it's like a rule).
'What a weirdo,' Ranma thought. 'Oh no, it's almost dinner time, I'd better hurry back to the temple or I'll miss one of Belldandy's divine meals!' It would take nearly two hours before Ranma would realize the magnitude of his unintentional pun.
It had only been two days since Ranma defeated Zach and life at the temple was proceeding as normal. Skuld had pulled Ranma aside earlier in the day to talk.
"Hey Ranma, do you have a few minutes?" Skuld asked.
"Sure, what's up?" Ranma said as he jogged over to her from where he was practicing a few kata.
"I, I wanted to talk… about what happened the other day," Skuld said. "Can we go somewhere more private for this, like my room?"
"Sure." They relocated to Skuld's bedroom where the goddess carefully shut the door before sitting on her bed. Ranma took a seat on the edge of the desk. "Sorry about whatever happened. I probably gave you a kiss and it freaked you out, huh?" Ranma said, drawing on his experiences of falling into the Neko-ken in Nerima.
"N-no, not exactly," Skuld replied. "It, well, it was substantially more than that. I, intellectually I don't blame you. I know you didn't have any control over yourself. I'm sorry I've been avoiding you, but, well, Ranma, you… Father this is hard. Ranma, you gave me my first orgasm. A-and," the young goddess couldn't hold in a sob.
Ranma quietly gathered Skuld up in his arms and softly stroked her hair until she calmed down.
"I, I'm sorry. It's just, it happened in public, and that was supposed to be a special experience. But everyone saw, and then Urd made fun of me, and you were a girl at the time and I really don't like girls like that and then every time I saw you it just brought back the memory and I know I've been treating you really unfairly. I, I'm sorry," Skuld babbled.
"Don't worry about it. Believe it or not, I think I understand," Ranma replied, surprisingly gently.
"H-how can you possibly understand this?" Skuld asked quietly as she relaxed with her head against his chest. The position was really comfortable.
Ranma related the whole incident with Mikado of the Golden Pair, and how his, well, her first real kiss had come at the hands of some creepy guy. Skuld just listened and snuggled slightly deeper into his embrace. She sighed, "Thanks, I guess you do understand. I'm sorry about the past few days. I really want to make it up to you. Maybe I can teach you how to use a computer at some point."
Now, Ranma didn't have much interest in computing, but he realized what she was trying to do. Skuld was trying to work past her embarrassment and break the ice that had formed between the two of them. "Sure," he replied, "I think I'd like that."
"Great!" Skuld moved over to her chair and powered up the desktop. The two spent the next couple hours going over different things with Skuld showing Ranma the basics. She even showed him some websites dedicated to martial arts and a forum where high level martial artists would trade training tips. Needless to say, even if he didn't think that he would be interested, Ranma was hooked.
It has often been postulated that if you get enough monkeys, enough typewriters, and enough time, one of them will eventually reproduce the works of Shakespeare. Now, most people realize this is a rather stupid metaphor, as the monkeys will nearly assuredly just reduce themselves to flinging poo at each other. However, the point remains: even without great talent, occasionally one can produce results if one tries enough.
The Tendo family and Nodoka had come to Nekomi. Soun would have you believe that it was due to his excellent tracking skills learned during his training under the dreaded master. Nabiki would have you believe that she had aggressively hunted down all leads and traced Ranma's path. Akane would rant about how Ranma was a pervert. Kasumi, on the other hand would tell you the truth: Yuka had overheard from her older brother that Ranma had defeated a martial artist at his university, Nekomi Tech, and had told the family the following day.
It was now the weekend, as Kasumi had pointed out that her younger sisters really couldn't afford to miss school. They had started their search at the Nekomi Tech campus, asking around for information. Eventually, they ran into Megumi.
"Excuse me, miss?" Nodoka called out.
"Oh, yes, what can I do for you?" Megumi responded.
"I'm looking for my son, I heard that he was staying somewhere around here. Have you seen this boy anywhere?" Nodoka asked as she pulled out Ranma's picture.
"Oh, Ranma? Sure, he's staying at my brother's place. I was actually about to head there myself, would you like to come with me?" Megumi smiled. Ranma would probably be happy to see his mother.
"Oh yes, thank you!" Nodoka hugged the younger woman before backing off and apologizing. "Sorry about that, it's just been a long time since I've seen him."
"Nothing to worry about, come on," the cheerful girl responded.
A few minutes later found the group approaching the temple. "Keiichi!" Megumi chirped.
"Oh, hi Megumi, what's going on, who are all these people?" Keiichi looked up from where he and Skuld had been fine tuning another bike.
"Oh, this is Ranma's mother, and these are… well, actually, I don't think we introduced ourselves," Megumi said sheepishly.
Skuld got a hard look in her eyes before heading into the house, having recognized the Tendos from Ranma's file. "Big sisters, we've got a problem," she yelled out.
A moment later, the three Norns were gathered together, and Skuld quickly informed them that the Tendo family plus Nodoka had come to call. "Well, nothing to do but to go meet them," Urd said. "And I'm sure Ranma will be happy to see his mother. Ranma!"
"Hmm, what's that Urd?" a soprano voice called out. Ranma-chan came bounding downstairs with a packet of study materials tucked under her arm. Urd had convinced her that the magical matrix surrounding her Jusenkyo curse was not completely heartless. If she willingly spent some time in her female form, she would get splashed significantly less. This was welcome news to the young aquatranssexual, half the reason she hated the curse was the complete loss of control it had meant. Besides, getting wet constantly was really annoying. Today she was wearing a knee length white skirt and a sleeveless red blouse. A bra strap was poking out innocuously on her right shoulder.
"Ah, Ranma-chan, you look nice," Urd commented.
"Thanks," the redhead chirped. "I figured I'd get in some girl time while studying."
"Good plan, but we've kinda got a situation kiddo," Urd said. "You mom is outside w-" She couldn't finish the statement though as Ranma bolted out the door.
"Mom!" Ranma yelled as she exited the temple.
"Ranma?" Nodoka looked over at her… son? Her manly son who looked very nice dressed in casual clothing that wouldn't look out of place on any teenage girl in Japan. Clothing that screamed female, and, was that a bra? Nodoka's eye twitched slightly but she hugged her… daughter anyway. "How have you been dear, everyone's been worried about you," Nodoka said.
"Yeah right," Ranma mumbled, getting a snort of laughter from Urd (the Norns had made their way outside). "It's good to see you again mother." Ranma pulled back and smiled brightly.
"Um, Ranma, you aren't, locked again, are you?" Nodoka asked. Sure, the woman was a bit nuts about manliness and grandchildren (don't forget the grandchildren) but she was also a very traditional Japanese woman. Which in this case meant that, unlike most Nerimites, Nodoka possessed a basic understanding of tact.
"No, why do you ask?" Ranma was genuinely confused.
"WHAT THE HELL DO YOU THINK?" Mount Akane couldn't take anymore and erupted. "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU WEARING, PERVERT?"
"Rrrranma! How dare you run away from my little girl!" Soun erupted in a demon-head.
Ranma recoiled slightly at the sheer venom she felt directed in her direction and finally noticed the Tendos. The Tendos that, with the exception of the gently smiling Kasumi, were currently looking at her incredulously (in Nabiki's case) and hatefully (Akane and Soun).
"I thought I looked nice," Ranma muttered.
"What's your problem?" Urd stalked forward predatorily while Skuld laid a supporting hand on Ranma's shoulder.
"You okay Ranma-chan?" Skuld asked gently.
"Fine," she replied, turning a grateful but sad smile on Skuld. "I, well, I guess I just got used to being around people who didn't jump to conclusions all the time and who really just cared that I was happy."
Nodoka looked chagrined and Kasumi smiled broadly, crossing the distance to Ranma and drawing the surprised neo-girl into a hug. "It's good to see you Ranma-chan," Kasumi said.
"Stop flirting with my sister you pervert!" Akane stalked forward, her mallet flashing into being. Ranma cringed, waiting for the hammer-blow…
…that never came. Ranma looked up cautiously to see Skuld's hammer blocking Akane's mallet. "I don't know what you think you are to attack my friend like that," Skuld said dangerously. "But I won't let you."
"I'm going to punish the pervert!" Akane yelled. "Now get out of my way!"
"Whoa there little girl, first off, Ranma-chan is anything but a pervert. And second, just what do you think gives you the right to attack someone like that?" Urd said as motes of power began to swirl around her.
"He's my fiancé, that makes it my right!" Akane declared, Soun nodding along emphatically in the background.
"You're nothing more than an abusive, delusional little girl," Urd growled out, power building around her to an oppressive level. "My sister has every right to defend *her* fiancée from a hateful, spiteful, abuser like you. And if you think for one moment that I'll let you pick on my friend like that, you've got another thing coming?" World of Elegance burst from Urd's back, eyes hard, mana coalescing in her hands.
"Just who do you think you are to stop me?" Akane turned towards Urd and blanched slightly as the aura surrounding Urd built to nearly painful brightness. Now, Belldandy may have been higher ranked than Urd but that wasn't because of power considerations. While most first ranked deities (and infernals) were more powerful than second class, Urd was something of an exception. Sure, Urd was lower ranked than her sister, but really that just meant that she was more limited in terms of authority. Like her sisters, Urd's Father was Kami-sama. But unlike them, her mother was Hild. Meaning, unless you were the head of a pantheon like Amaterasu or Zeus, Urd's power was pretty much unmatched.
Fortunately for the Tendo party, Urd never got the chance to unleash her frustrations on her unfortunate (yeah right) target. Mara chose that moment to saunter into the temple grounds and glomp onto Ranma-chan.
"Hi Ranma!" she chirped as she ground her body into the smaller redhead's. "Whoa, Urdie, what's going on?"
Urd deflated slightly and smirked. Sure, she could unleash divine judgment on Akane, but she could also sit back and laugh while Mara dealt with her. "Mara, meet the Tendos. This little girl here was about to beat the snot out of Ranma-chan for 'being a pervert' when we both know you've had absolutely no luck on that front with her," Urd said.
Kasumi, meanwhile, had plucked World of Elegance out of the air and was lightly tickling her wings. "Oh my, you're feathers are so soft. Aren't you just the most darling little angel-girl?" she said. This of course defused the situation as everyone stared at her incredulously. The Nekomi contingent looked between Kasumi and Belldandy and silently wondered just how this mortal was able to give off the same peace and serenity as the goddess. Though, they had to sweatdrop a bit at her comments as she teased and played with the angel.
Mara, on the other hand, only spared a passing glance towards Kasumi, though she too would spend hours that night contemplating the issue. She stalked up to Akane and poked a finger into the violent girl's chest. "Just what do you think you were doing little girl? Going to beat up MY fiancée like that?"
"Grr! You can't have the Pervert. He's mine to punish if I want to!" Akane growled.
Soun jumped on the bandwagon, shouting, "That's right, Ranma must marry Akane!"
"Oh really?" Mara asked with a smirk. "I don't think your trifling pact matters, unless you want to claim that your paltry little claim is more important than mine. Or Skuld's, I suppose," the demoness added as an afterthought.
"The Schools must be joined," Soun insisted. "Besides, our pact is the oldest and therefore all subsequent pacts do not have the same backing of honor!"
"Bwahahahaha, first off, where's your contract? No, don't have one. I didn't think so. Secondly, your claim is the third marriage arrangement that Genma made for Ranma here. I wonder though, do you really want to contest my claim. Are you prepared to go up against the authority of Hild-sama?" Mara taunted, but just received blank looks from the mortal contingent from Nerima.
"Um, Mara..." Ranma said, "they wouldn't know who that is."
"Oh, right," Mara sheepishly replied. "Fine then." She pulled her contract out of thin air. "This details that Genma Saotome sold the soul of his firstborn son to Hild-sama, the Demon Queen, to marry to the person of her choice and predates your pathetic claim by 4 years."
"And if we are going by age or authority," Urd jumped in, "Ranma was promised 3 years before that to marry a daughter of Kami-sama according to this contract here."
"K-kami-sama, Demon Queen?" Nodoka blanched. "Genma, what the hell were you thinking?" she asked to the heavens. "Could I see those please?"
"Sure," Mara shrugged before handing the contract over. "Just be glad he stipulated that it was an engagement. If he hadn't, Ranma's soul would be Hild's to do whatever she damn well pleased with."
"Oh Genma, you idiot," Nodoka muttered while the others looked on in horror. She carefully read through both documents before saying, "These look valid. As Ranma's mother, and Head of Clan Saotome, I have to acknowledge them. Soun, if you intend to pursue the Tendo claim, I might have to ask you to take it up with Genma, I have no desire to incur the wrath of either of these entities."
"W-what?!" Nabiki exclaimed, "Surely you can't believe that these women are actually associated with who they say they are auntie. That's ridiculous."
Urd just pointed to Kasumi, who was currently pampering the giggling little angel. "Explain that then."
Mara stepped up and shot a challenging glare at the middle Tendo daughter. "I'd be happy to establish my bona fides, would you like a demonstration?" Repressed mirth, desire and annoyance swirling in her darkening eyes.
Now, unlike her father, or most Nerimites in general, Nabiki was not an idiot. She knew when she was outmatched and she had absolutely no intention of angering these people. Even if they weren't who they claimed to be, they were clearly powerful.
Akane however, had no such restraint and her rage boiled to the surface once more. "I don't care who you claim to be," the young Tendo declared as her aura burst into an angry red miasma around her. "The pervert needs to die, get out of my way!"
Mara just casually backhanded the girl across the lawn and yawned, "Really, little girl, it sounds like you don't even like him. Why do you care?"
"Fine!" Akane shouted as she clutched the side of her face. That blow had really hurt. "Have the pervert! See if I care!"
"How dare you hit my little girl?!" Soun erupted in his demon head once again.
Mara just snickered, trying to scare a demoness first class by manifesting the aura of a low level grunt, please. "She had it coming."
Nabiki chose this moment to intervene. Idiot though he was, Soun was still her father. Nabiki didn't particularly want to see what would happen if he actually angered the being in front of them. She dragged her father and Akane out of sight.
"Aww, and it was just getting fun too," Mara sighed. "Oh well."
Kasumi looked up from where she was still playing with World of Elegance and sighed, "Oh my, I suppose I'd better follow them home. It was good to see you again Ranma." She gave the shorter redhead another hug. "Are you coming Auntie?"
"Actually, if it would be alright, I'd like to spend some time with my, um, my daughter here. Go on ahead," Nodoka replied.
"Okay then, goodbye," Kasumi called out over her shoulder as she left the temple.
A very thoughtful Nodoka had left the temple after a brief two night stay for the weekend. Urd had dragged her aside the first evening to explain some of what had been going on, especially regarding Ranma's period. Furthermore, Urd had pointed out just how little emotional support the aquatranssexual had ever had and showed her highlights from the training trip using her computer. Nodoka really had no idea just what life under Genma had meant for her son, the neko-ken particularly made her sick. But, she realized that she needed some space to think about things, particularly her own actions and manliness schtick and what it was doing to her child. Her child that a goddess had assured her would be cursed for eternity. She had promised to visit again soon.
For his part, Ranma was just grateful that the situation with the Tendos hadn't exploded entirely. He had quickly turned back male after they had left and spent as much time with Nodoka as he could. Two days had passed since she had left.
"AHHHHH!" a scream echoed through the temple.
"That sounded like Bell," Ranma said as he bolted to his feet. He had been in the middle of a tutoring session with Urd while Skuld worked on building a plasma cannon.
"We'd better see if she's okay," Skuld said worriedly.
Urd just smirked, but allowed the other two to lead her upstairs to Keiichi's room. 'Ohohoho, that sounded like Bell alright.'
Skuld nearly ripped the door off its track as she slid it open. "Big sis, are you o… EEEEP!" she blushed bright red and quickly spun around, allowing the others to peek past her.
"What's wrong?" Ranma's muscles were coiled and he was ready to leap into action should the situation demand it. He got a glimpse of the tableau beyond Skuld, flushed as well and looked away. "S-sorry about that," he mumbled as he drifted off downstairs trying to get the images out of his head.
"Ohohoho, I didn't know you were a screamer little sis. Ohohohoho," Urd cackled madly.
"Urd!" Keiichi yelped out and hastily tried to cover up with a sheet.
Bell's entire body turned crimson, making Urd smirk. "Please, don't tease me sister," she squeaked out.
"Ohoho, it's about damn time sis, good on you. Good job kiddo, sounds like she enjoyed it," Urd shot back at the couple with a mischievous lilt in her voice. "So Bell, was he as good as you thought he'd be? He's certainly well endowed."
"URD, out now!" Keiichi screamed as Bell blushed harder and ducked her head. He finally succeeded in getting a sheet over his and his newfound lover's body.
"Alright, alright, I'm going. No need to get her panties in a twist kid," Urd said, referencing the plain, cotton underwear that were draped haphazardly over a lamp. "I'm just glad you guys finally got down to business," she called over her shoulder. "I knew you needed to get laid sis. Oh, and Keiichi, welcome to the family kiddo. I think Father will probably want to talk to his prospective son-in-law soon." She had noticed the beautiful ring on Bell's finger.
Keiichi just gulped as Urd left the room. "Your… father?" he asked.
"Mmm," Bell just snuggled into Keiichi's chest. "Don't worry about it love, I'm sure he already knows. And I just know that he'll be happy for us," she idly played with the delicate platinum band containing a beautiful teardrop diamond surrounded by tiny sapphires on her left hand.
In his office, Kami-sama smiled. Sure, he had known what was going on, and yes, he did approve the match. In fact, he already had a wonderful wedding gift for the pair. But it wasn't every eon that he got to play the role of protective father and he was looking forward to seeing Keiichi's reaction. The smirk on his face would have even made his ex-wife proud.
Speaking of Hild, her chibi-form had peeked her head in over the windowsill to Keiichi's room and had seen the whole thing. 'Hmm,' she thought, 'there's so much mischief I could work with this, but what would be most amusing? Ooo, I know!' Chibi-Hild popped away.
Meanwhile, Urd had dragged the nearly catatonic Skuld downstairs to the living room where Ranma was studiously pretending nothing had happened by reading the textbook he had been working on. All of a sudden a swirling portal of hellfire appeared above Ranma's head and Mara fell out, clearly having been interrupted from the middle of a bath as the sudsy bathwater followed a moment later.
"Ooof," Ranma grunted as the chair he was in broke as he found himself on flat on the floor with an armful of surprised demoness. Then the water hit, triggering the expected gender shift and flooding half the room. Mara just looked around the room from her new perch on Ranma's chest, too stunned to even take advantage of the situation.
"Oh, hi Mara, glad you could join us," Urd said.
"What the hell am I doing here?" the demoness asked, shocked. This, she really hadn't been expecting. Skuld just shook her head, this sort of thing had happened all too often since she moved into the temple. Well, not precisely nude demonesses falling out of the ceiling, but still, the goddess was understandably a bit jaded after all that had happened recently.
"That portal reeked of Hild, and this is just her sense of humor," Urd commented lightly. "By the way, nice rack." She smirked.
"Uh, wha… oh, Ranma-chan, wash my back for me?" Mara purred huskily after realizing her current position on the downed redhead.
"Kno-knock it off Mara," Ranma stuttered out before rolling out from under Mara.
"Aww, where's the fun in that?" Mara sulked.
"Can someone get me a towel?" The irate redhead pushed a drenched lock of hair out of her eyes.
"Actually, I could use one too since someone doesn't want to play," Mara said before turning to pout suggestively at Ranma. Skuld took the opportunity to escape from yet another awkward situation to get some towels from the bathroom.
A moment later Skuld returned and Ranma gave her a grateful smile after taking one of the towels. "Thanks a lot," she chirped.
"Not a problem," Skuld smiled back before throwing the other towel over Mara's head.
"Hey!" Mara complained half-heartedly. After wrapping herself up she turned to Urd and asked, "So, any idea why mommy dearest decided to port me here?"
"She could have at least left the bathwater behind," Ranma grumbled causing Mara to snicker.
Urd barely managed to avoid laughing at Ranma's last comment. She turned back to Mara and said, "Oh, I'm guessing she saw what happened upstairs."
"And?" Mara raised an immaculately trimmed eyebrow.
"Oh, nothing special. Bell and Keiichi just did the nasty and he asked her to marry him," Urd said nonchalantly.
"Oh, that's not a b- wait WHAT?" Mara yelled.
"Bwahahahaha, the look on your face," Urd cackled. Ranma herself managed a weak smile at their antics.
"Oh, phew," Mara deflated. "For a second I thought you were serious there about Bell and the twerp."
"Ohohohoho, I was," Urd said with a mischievous look on her face.
"What?! They actually did it and the twerp proposed?!" Mara was aghast. "Never thought he'd grow the balls… damn, I just lost three bets."
"Ohohohoho, it just took a while under my influence, ohohohoho," Urd cackled. Skuld just bonked her on the head. "Ow."
"Whatever," Skuld picked up another of her devices and started to fiddle with it.
"Anyway, I think we should throw Bell a huge bachelorette party," Urd said, her eyes gleaming.
"Leave me out of this. I may turn into a girl but there's no way I'm getting involved in that," Ranma said.
"Me either," Skuld absently replied as she continued her tinkering.
"Aww, c'mon, you think it's a good idea, right Mara?" Urd pouted.
Mara just shrugged, "Sure, whatever. Now that I don't have to break them up anymore I might as well enjoy myself." The couple actually sealing the deal was a relief in her book; she could go back to more… chaotic pursuits. Sure, messing around with someone as goodly as Belldandy was fun, but even she got bored. Besides, she hadn't caused any real bedlam recently. Well, after the matter of the bet was dealt with, she still had to break Skuld and Ranma up before Keiichi's graduation.
"Skuuuld," Urd whined, "Don't you wanna help celebrate something really special for your big sis. Bell's engaged, we need to celebrate!" She looked at her sister with wide shining eyes and pouted lips.
"Fine, whatever. I'll do it for Bell's sake but I think you just want to get drunk," Skuld responded.
"Would I ever do something like that?" Urd innocently asked.
"Yes, you would you old mummy," Skuld snorted.
"True," Urd shrugged. "Oh Ranma-chaaan," she sung out.
"No, not gonna do it. 'Sides, I can't be at a bachelorette party, I'm not a girl," Ranma put her hands on her hips and 'hmmmph'ed' at Urd while tapping her foot in an annoyed manner, a really feminine annoyed manner.
"Ohohoho," Urd cackled. "Sure looks like you've got the whole girl thing down kiddo, c'mon, it'll be fun."
"No, I don't want to," Ranma turned away, huffing.
"But Ranma, don't you like Belldandy? I'm sure she'd be really happy to have you there," Urd brought out the big guns by sniffling a little. "I, I guess I'll just have to go tell Bell that you don't like her, it'll break her heart. And I know she thinks of you as a little sibling." Mara started coughing into her fist and had to excuse herself from the room. Urd really was a master of the guilt trip.
"R-really?" Ranma said with a slight crack in her voice. The others had noticed that Ranma-chan had been a bit less restrained in her emotions since her period, but they weren't about to mention it to her. Uh-uh, no way; they all valued their lives waaay too much to go there.
"Really little one," Belldandy said from the staircase. She pulled the startled neo-girl into a loose embrace. "And Urd, do you really think I'm so shallow?" Urd began to mouth denials frantically.
Ranma just hugged Bell back, sniffling slightly. Having someone care about her unconditionally like that was really nice. And aside from Kasumi, no one ever seemed to. Genma, well, the less said the better. The other Tendos all had serious problems, the Amazons always had their agenda, Ukyo had pressed their friendship to the breaking point and even his mother had held some conditions over his head. Though, after her recent visit and short stay at the temple, that relationship was definitely looking better.
"I'll, sniffle, I'll be there big sis," Ranma said and her voice cracked even harder. When she pulled back you could see tear tracks on her cheeks but she was smiling brilliantly.
A week had passed while Urd planned Belldandy's unofficial engagement party. Keiichi had been kicked out for the night to hang out with some of his friends and would be crashing at one of their apartments. It was almost three in the morning and the party was finally winding down. Various deities had dropped in to congratulate Bell over the course of the night. A number of people and deities were passed out in the den including Megumi and Peorth. In fact, the only people still awake were Ranma, Belldandy, Skuld, Urd, and Mara. They were sitting around the table playing one of the greatest traditional party games of all time, Truth or Dare.
"Truth!" Mara declared.
"Alright Mara," Urd slurred out. "Aside from Ranma, are you seeing anyone?"
"Mmhmm! Though Morrigan'll be really upset if I don't find us someone else to join us for a few nights soon," Mara giggled a bit and fell sideways into Ranma-chan. "Why do you think I've been after stud-girl here. S/He'd be perfect!"
"Erk!" Ranma eloquently declared. Bell and Skuld flushed at the implications.
"Ohohoho, that cute little succubus we used to play with?" Urd asked.
"Yep, damn, she's so hot now that she's all grown up. Works down at the D-wing in the diplomatic corps. Mmm, last week she brought this really tasty singer into our bed. That man could use his tongue in ways you wouldn't believe," the demoness shivered in delight.
"Ack, really didn't wanna know, really didn't wanna know," Ranma said.
"And here I thought you were actually interested in Ranma," Urd continued to press the drunk demoness.
"Naw, stud-girl, boy is cute and all, but I'm not really looking for anything permanent. 'Sides, I can't let you win our little bet Urdie!" The demoness declared before passing out and snoring on the table.
"Win what bet?" Skuld asked with a dangerous glint in her eye.
"N-nothing, I have no idea why she said that," Urd backpedaled frantically.
"Oh, really? So if I wake her up what's she going to say?" The pitch of Skuld's voice was rapidly rising.
"Fine, she bet that I couldn't find someone that you'd want to be with by Keiichi's graduation, are you happy?" Urd yelled back. "Oh shit."
"WHAT?!" Skuld shrieked. "So, that's it, huh? My own sister is just playing games with me, just wonderful. So what, you kidnapped Ranma to be my fiancé, is that it? And then you tried to drug us twice? What the hell are you playing at?"
Ranma looked over at Bell for a moment before grabbing Skuld and hauling her outside. Skuld's temper boiled over and she started bawling as she tried to get past the neo-girl to go back into the house.
Ranma grabbed the sobbing goddess in a loose embrace and held her back while Skuld smacked him repeatedly in the chest. "Let me go! I'll kill that old mummy. Damn it, let me go!"
"Shh, it's okay," Ranma made soothing noses in her ear while weathering the onslaught. 'She's pretty strong, guess I should expect that from a goddess,' Ranma winced at a particularly strong punch to the chest.
"Stop. Let me go. Why won't you… she… why did she do this to me?" Skuld grabbed onto Ranma's chest sobbing. Ranma just continued to hold her while stroking her back until she calmed down. "How can you be so calm?" she mumbled. "Urd was just playing with you too, why aren't you upset?"
Ranma got a contemplative look on her face. 'Damn it, I wish I was better at talking. I hope this comes out right.' "Look, Skuld, I know what Urd did was really shitty but I don't think you should stay mad at her," Ranma finally said.
"What, how can you possibly say that Ranma? She was just playing with us, I can't believe her," Skuld fumed.
"Yeah, so she screwed up. I'm not all that pleased to have been kidnapped over a stupid bet but really, this might be the best thing that's ever happened to me. And it's not like you didn't get anything out of it either," Ranma said.
"What? You know I don't really feel that way about you. I'm not ready for that kind of commitment. I've been trying so hard, but I'm just not ready for a relationship like that Ranma," Skuld said.
"Yeah, I kinda figured that out a while ago." He scratched his cheek thoughtfully. "But I think she was honestly trying to do something nice for you. I mean, I know I suck with words and all, but I think Urd was just trying to give you someone to care about like Bell and Keiichi do for each other. I think she did this to try and make you happy."
"I… I didn't think of it that way," Skuld said with a thoughtful frown. "That still doesn't make it right."
"Like I said, Urd screwed up. Big deal. Besides, you may not get a fiancé out of the deal, but I'd like to think you still got a friend. We are friends right?" Ranma asked hopefully.
"Yes, yes, of course," Skuld finally relaxed and loosely hugged Ranma back.
"Good, I'd hate to lose one of the first real friends I've ever had. I think you guys are the first true friends I've had since I was six," Ranma said.
A few minutes later Skuld disengaged from Ranma, still sniffling slightly. "So, what do we do now?" Skuld said.
"Well, we were planning on going to that dance together, right?" Ranma asked.
"Yes, but why does that matter?" Skuld looked confused.
"Well, I figure I take you to Keiichi's graduation dance, after all, I can't stand up my date, can I?" the redhead smirked.
"Sigh, I suppose I could still go with you, even if you are just a big lug," Skuld teased with a little smile before bouncing away from Ranma.
"Hey, who you calling a lug?" Ranma called out before starting to chase Skuld around the temple grounds. She eventually pinned the goddess and started tickling her sides, making her squirm. "Huh, so, who's a lug?"
"Y-hehehe- you're –hahahaha… stop it, haha," Skuld gasped and giggled. "You'renotalugI'mreallyreallysorry heeehehehahaha, pl-hah-ease…uncle."
"Hmm, okay, I guess that's good enough," Ranma smirked as she let Skuld up.
"Thanks, I needed that," Skuld beamed at Ranma. "What does this mean for you, are you still going to stick around here?"
"Well, I'd like to, but I don't think it'd be right. I'll stick around till the end of the semester. Then I guess I'll go back to live with mom, I should really get to know her. Getting out of Nerima was nice, but since I don't really have a reason to live here anymore I should probably head back. Was nice though, having real friends, not getting attacked constantly and not putting up with abusive fiancées for a while," Ranma said, a bit depressed.
"I'm sure you could stick around if you wanted to Ranma," Skuld said as she laid a supportive hand on his shoulder.
"Naw, I'll come back to visit, but I really should finish my last year of high school especially since I'm almost caught up now. And it'd be nice to get to know mom a bit better. Heck, maybe I'll be back for college. I think it'd be a good idea, plus I'll miss you guys," he said.
"That'd be great," Skuld said with a big smile. "Thanks Ranma, I guess… I guess I should go talk to the old hag now, huh?"
"Don't be too hard on her," Ranma said as Skuld started to walk back towards the temple.
"Don't worry, I won't be," Skuld responded. "But I do have to get her back for betting on us." Skuld grinned wickedly, making Ranma very glad that her malice was directed elsewhere. 'Hoo boy, am I glad I'm not Urd right now,' she thought.
Skuld stalked back into the house with a wicked gleam in her eye. "Urrrrrd!" she called out. "Where are you big sis, I want to *discuss* something with you."
'Great, this is probably gonna get really ugly,' Urd thought as she stepped out of the living room. "Skuld, I'm… I'm sorry, I didn't have the right to do that to you. The bet was stupid but I honestly thought you'd be happy if I could hook you up with someone great," she bowed her head and looked up with pleading eyes. "I'm so sorry little sis, can you ever forgive me?"
"Oh, I think there are things we need to talk about first," Skuld said. "Why Ranma?"
Urd decided that it would be best to just be honest about everything to hopefully salvage something out of her relationship to her little sister. "Well, to be honest, I didn't know which team you were playing for. Heck, even Bell didn't know if you really liked guys. I was gonna get you a guy and a girl to choose from, but then I saw Ranma's file. S/he's both, so I figured, either way it'd work out. Both forms are smoking hot and Ranma's immortal. Suppose I need to talk to him about that," Urd trailed off thoughtfully.
"I, hmm, well, I guess that makes sense. I think you made two big mistakes though, three actually," Skuld said. Her eyes were still flashing with repressed anger, but really, the young goddess was trying to keep her cool. No matter what, Urd was still her sister.
"Oh, what?" Urd asked, figuring that anything that kept Skuld calm was a good thing.
"First, you should have just asked me if I even wanted someone. Second, you shouldn't have kidnapped Ranma, you should have tried something else. And third… third, I'm not you," Skuld finished with a little grin.
"Huh? What do you mean little sis?" Urd asked, genuinely confused.
"I'm not you," Skuld said, sitting down and pulling Urd down with her. "I know you think you were doing something to make me happy, and I'm still really, well, really pissed off about it. I don't understand how Ranma does it. She's not mad at you at all, and I think I know why." Skuld smiled mysteriously while thinking 'If big sis was thinking clearly, she'd know that the moment it was acknowledged, both of those contracts became binding and Ranma's obviously, well, obliviously interested.' "But really, Urd, I'm not you. I think you saw Ranma's file and saw some perfect for *you* and you projected it onto me. In a way, that's really sweet of you, but I'll find someone for myself when I'm ready. And I'm really not ready for a real relationship yet. Being 'engaged' to Ranma definitely proved that."
"Wait, what?!" Urd exclaimed. "Where did you get those ideas?"
"I think it's pretty obvious. I'm not bi and if you wanted to know that you could have just asked me. But, you are. And all of a sudden my potential paramour is both male and female. You've also been obviously interested, after all, you've been all over her, especially when you're drunk," Skuld teased.
Urd flushed slightly. She said, "And here I thought you were going to yell at me, not embarrass me."
"Oh, don't get me wrong Urd, I'm very upset with you still. It's going to take a long time before I can fully trust you again. But, you're still my sister and I'd like to see you happy too. Did you know that Ranma is planning to go home after he takes me to the graduation dance?" Skuld said.
Urd blanched, "Oh no, really?"
"Well, she doesn't think there's a reason for her to stay now that our engagement is done. Whether or not that changes…" Skuld trailed off.
"Father, I've… I've got to think about that," Urd said. "So, are we okay then little sister? Is there something I can do to prove that I'm really sorry?"
"Well, what exactly were the terms of this bet?" Skuld asked.
"Mara bet me that I couldn't find you someone to fall in love with before Keiichi's graduation. The loser had to go to the ceremony naked and jump on stage when it was Keiichi's turn to get his diploma," Urd mumbled.
"Haha, really? That was it?" Skuld laughed. She looked at Urd slyly and said, "Well, there is one thing you can do…"
Belldandy smiled proudly at her fiancé as he started to walk across the stage. Keiichi had done it. In spite of the constant insanity that had surrounded him, Keiichi had actually graduated and with honors too.
Skuld was smirking, any second now and…
Urd ran on stage yelling "HOLD!" stunning most of the onlookers and causing Keiichi to sweatdrop. Belldandy just muttered "oh sister" while Ranma blushed a deep crimson but continued to stare. Urd was bare to the world in all her bronzed glory and you could tell that platinum white was definitely her natural hair color.
Urd took center stage and started to sing "I'm a little teapot" with the accompanying dance. Mara fell out of her seat laughing. Even Belldandy had to stifle a few giggles. Ranma was still blushing heavily, but if you watched closely, his eyes were glued to Urd.
Skuld, on the other hand, had pulled out a very high-tech looking video camera. A camera which was actually piping a live feed to a tavern in Asgard which Hild had secretly tapped; mothers love embarrassing home videos after all. Revenge was sweet, now if only she could figure out how to get back at Mara.
That evening was the night of the graduation dance. Normally a university, especially a Japanese university, wouldn't bother but the dean thought that it would be a nice reward for the graduating seniors. Plus, it was a good excuse for the faculty to cut loose for a night.
Keiichi and Belldandy spent the night spinning away in each others' arms, completely oblivious to the world around them. They were great together, and a darling couple, but they were sappy enough to make Mara want to puke. Speaking of Mara, she and Urd decided to attend the dance as well. Mara figured it would be fun and it gave her an excuse to hit on random mortals, not that she really needed one. Urd, on the other hand, had a mission and she was dressed to kill. Urd wore a curve hugging, single strap black dress what fell to mid thigh with a slit on the left side. And after her performance that morning, she was getting endless lustful stares from the men and a few discreet looks from a couple of the women. Normally, this attention wouldn't bother her, but her nerves were already frayed and the attention wasn't helping.
Skuld and Ranma chose that moment to walk in to the dance. Skuld was wearing a beautiful, if somewhat conservative off the shoulder evening gown that fell all the way to the floor. Fortunately, there was enough material in the skirting to allow her an almost normal range of motion. Dashing was the only word that seemed to fit Ranma, who was dressed in a classic tuxedo that accentuated his defined, but not overly bulky musculature. The pair was getting their share of attention as Ranma led Skuld through a few dances, and boy, could he dance. Ranma had, after all, dominated the Martial Arts Ballroom Dancing competition and to call him graceful was a gross understatement. More than a few women were watching jealously as the couple danced.
A few minutes later, the dancing paused so dinner could be served. All of the goddesses, Mara and Ranma were seated at the same table. Dinner was fine, if somewhat bland. But, considering the number of graduates and their dates, that was to be expected. After dinner and a few more dances, Skuld excused herself to go to the restroom, leaving Ranma and Urd alone together at the table.
"Might I have the next dance?" Urd asked as the next slow song started playing.
"Of course." Ranma helped Urd out of her chair and led her over to the dance floor. He blushed slightly as he felt her hips through the thin material of her dress as they slowly moved around the other dancing couples.
Urd shot a smile at Belldandy as the passed, though her younger sister missed it entirely. She steeled herself before looking up into Ranma's eyes. "So Ranma, what are your plans now?" Urd asked.
"Well, I thought that since the whole engagement thing here fell through that I'd spend some time with mom. Then maybe when I'm done with high school I'll wind up back here for college," Ranma said. "It's been really nice to get out of Nerima though." Ranma sighed wistfully.
"And what about all your suitors? You know if you go back, they'll probably try twice as hard," Urd said.
"Yeah, I'm really not looking forward to that, but I don't know what to do," Ranma said as his face fell with a resigned look.
Urd took a deep breath and said, "You know, I might have a way around that."
Ranma looked up hopefully. "Really, what?!"
"Well, technically, the contract with Father is to marry one of his daughters and neither Skuld or Bell is interested. And, the contract with… mother… is to marry someone of her choice…" Urd trailed off.
"Urd, are you trying to say that you're interested?" Ranma was shocked, though he supposed he shouldn't be. Urd did mention that she would have gone after him if he wasn't with Skuld, and well, he wasn't with Skuld. He had to admit that the goddess in his arms was beautiful and he really did enjoy her company.
"Um, I, well," Urd blushed profusely while staring at her toes.
"Urd?" Ranma asked, lifting her chin to look into her eyes.
Urd closed her eyes, leaned forward and pressed a light kiss on Ranma's lips. Ranma's eyes fluttered closed as well as he tentatively returned the kiss. A short eternity later, they broke for air and Urd pressed herself closer to Ranma's chest. "Yes."
-Fin (at least for now)-
Afterword: Well, this chapter is what I was hoping to get done on this story. I *may* eventually pick it up and see where Ranma and Urd's relationship goes, but for now I'm done. It leaves room for a sequel if I ever get the desire to write it, but I think it ended at a good point. I wanted to do something interesting with this fic, and trying to set it to a late 90s/early 2000s high school romance plot was one of those things. That's the main reason why there was such a glut of emotional development and character maturation in this chapter. I realize that it is in no way realistic or within character for someone like Ranma to develop so quickly, but that's kind of a theme in those sorts of movies. The protagonist usually goes through some funny situations, but at the end, they grow up a ton really fast. I hope that was somewhat captured. Writing the ending was really hard though. I wanted to end it with the classic kiss on the dance floor, but it feels a bit… rushed, even though I tried to set up attraction between Ranma and Urd throughout this whole chapter. In my defense, this is the first story I've actually tried to finish and hopefully that'll get better as time goes on.
I wasn't sure about the final pairing, but after some discussion, I had to admit that Skuld is probably too young/immature to wind up in a lasting relationship *and* she and Ranma just don't have much in common. I also happen to really like Urd as a character and think that she would be good for Ranma. I also think that he could easily fall for her and that she would be incredibly open about sexuality which would make his curse mostly a non-issue. I also didn't want to imply that Urd/Ranma was definitive or that they'd work together. I might eventually try to write that, but for now, I'll leave that to your imagination. Plus, those movies tend to have a romantic twist in there somewhere that leads to an all around happy conclusion.
At any rate, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it. Please let me know what you think and where you think I need to improve. This is, in essence, my first completed story. As I have no intention to stop writing, I'd really like to know what my weaknesses and strengths are according to other people's perceptions. For example, I'm sure I could have handled some of the characters better and any advice in that regard would be most welcome. At any rate, I don't think that it came out too poorly, but you might have different opinions. Please let me know what you think of the (currently) final state of this piece. I consider constructive criticism to be extremely valuable. The one thing that I really wanted to include but couldn't was a Benny Hill style chase scene, but I just couldn't seem to find the right place for it.
Hopefully, now that this is done, I can turn my attention back to Death Reborn Evolution and actually get something written for it. I personally think that story is a bit better than this one, but it also isn't trying to do something quite as crazy. I may also start another story up in the next month or so.
And, a final bit of trivia: Zach Siler is the name of the male protagonist in the film She's All That and Hacky-sack features prominently in the movie. I felt like I had to make a direct reference to that film somehow. Well, and the wager on the Bet is pretty much directly from the movie.