Oyu No Ranma

(Hot Water Ranma)

A Ranma 1/2 Fanfiction by Zorknot

ihsahakaT okimuR ot gnoleb sretcarahc esehT :REMIALCSID

NOTE (5/28/11) I should mention that this fic started out as an experiment with tense and perspective. Scenes that occur in hot water are in present tense, and the point of view is always from someone with a Jusenkyo curse. There is a narrative reason for this, although it's thin. Basically the fic gets a bit more conventional as you go and the writing does get a little better as well, I think. It's a fun ride overall. Enjoy!

~~~~~Ch.1 Furo Fugue~~~~~

Ranma lowers herself into the water of the furo, triggering the change. Male once again, and taking a hot, relaxing bath, he can almost believe he is in a hotel somewhere and that the nightmare that had been his life has never happened. Almost. The problem is, he can't remember when he had ever been in a hotel at all, much less one expensive enough to provide a furo.

Ranma sighs. He is not in a hotel. He is in the home of the Tendos, about to get engaged to someone he hardly even knows, he will go beserk if he sees a cat,

if he ever undoes his pig tail in male form his hair will grow at a monstrous rate, his female form has to constantly avoid being killed by a crazed Chinese Amazon named after a hair care product, and topping it all off there is the curse itself. The nightmare is not over.

Still, he takes this moment of peace for what it is and relaxes.

I'm Akane. Do you wanna be friends? YES! He hadn't had a real friend, his age since Ucchan. That was so long ago and it was only for about a year then...

Which would you rather have, Ranma, Ukyo or okonomiyaki? He was very young at the time... and hungry, but he still hates himself for choosing okonomiyaki. If he knew that he would never see his friend again... but then maybe it wouldn't have mattered. He came to the realization through the years he spent on the "training trip" that his father is a weak-minded coward who gives Ranma's feelings little consideration. If he chose Ukyo the situation probably wouldn't have changed. His father wasn't always bad though, Ranma remembers...


Ranma and his father are bathing in a hot spring near Jusenkyo. It is the morning after a heavy rain, and everything smells sweet and fresh. Everything that is, except for Ranma and his father.

They are filthy from running through mud, bramble, and the occasional fruit stand. Onna-Ranma chased her panda father through forrest and town in the rain seeking vengeance for her lost manhood, which, for all she knew at the time, was lost, forever. When she finally caught him in town near a fish stand, she gave him a sound beating, knocking the panda out, but she did no more. He was still her father, and it wasn't like she could kill him or anything. Onna-Ranma stood over the body of her once-human father for a few moments, not sure of what to do. Then she turned around saying, "I guess I better talk to that guide an' see if there's some sorta cure..." Her actions were halted however by a lack of consciousness due to the collision of a very large fish with her head.

When she came to, she was being carried back to the guide's home by the panda that had wielded the fish. Once they got back, the guide explained how the curse worked and changed them both to their normal forms. It was late by then and they were both tired, but the guide wouldn't let them sleep in his shack explaining, "Sirs are too too smelly to sleep here! This one not sleep himself if sirs inside!" So they went outside and set up their tent. Of course, it was still raining so they ended up sleeping in their cursed forms. Which made for a rather rude awakening when the guide tapped on the tent flap in the twilight hour before sunrise.

"Sirs wake up now, yes?"



Once they had calmed down again the guide told them about a hot spring nearby where they could get clean. Ranma and Genma eyed the guide suspiciously. "Did anything drown there that we should know about?" Ranma asked.

The guide looked confused for a moment the smiled goofily and laughed. "Oh sir! You make too too funny joke, yes? That one no have tragic story. No you worry." The guide told them how to get to the hot spring and they left as he called out to them: "Sirs no take too long or else miss breakfast. And if sirs find pig, this one make too delicious Cantonese style sweet and sour pork for you!"

So now Ranma and his father are in the hot spring relaxing as much as they can. They don't get many chances for a hot bath. "Ahhh, it's good to be human!" Genma sighs

"It's good to be a MAN!" Ranma agrees.

Genma shudders, "I never wanted any of this to happen, boy. It was a training ground. It was forbidden. I thought that it meant it was only for the toughest martial artists." He looks to the east where diffused sunlight is starting to show through the trees.

Ranma follows his fathers gaze and is silent for awhile admiring the subtle beauty of the scene. He notices then that his father's gaze is grim and worried. "Yeah, well I already got you back for that once. Just don't do anything else stupid `kay?" Ranma starts to seriously wash himself muttering "A martial artist's life is fraught with peril."

"Indeed it is" Genma replies. "That's it, boy! We must look at this as training!"

"How can bein' a girl be training?"

"You'll become adept at avoiding water-type attacks!" Genma frowns for a moment realizing perhaps that he is being stupid. "Listen, boy, we got to make the most of this. Learn from it. Find out how to use it against an enemy."

"Hmph, easy for you to say, Pandaman. You could probably scare someone off or knock `em over with your heavier body, what could I do? Flash them?"

"Yes... such a distraction WOULD be useful in battle..."


"... I also noticed that you caught up to me very quickly. Your speed must be greater in your cursed form."

"Yeah, I guess I noticed that too..." They continue comparing notes on their curses for a while and soon they are reminiscing on past battles. For a moment, they aren't just father and son. They are comrades discussing old wars. They are fellow masters discussing battle strategies. They are, for a moment, friends.

Then the sun peeks over the tops of the trees hitting Genma's cheek. Suddenly his eyes go wide and he leaps out of the water and into the woods, not bothering to dry himself or to put clothes on. He bounds away, the cold wind causing him to change, and he continues to run through the woods. Ranma stares after the panda for a moment, then gets out of the spring himself grabbing the top of his gi and his belt as he runs. He can't dry off without losing too much time, so with a grimace, Ranma jumps after his father as He too changes, becoming a she.

She catches up to the panda on a cliff. She just managed to get the top of her gi on. "Wait up ya old fool!" she yells as she jumps, trying to make up some distance. In the air, at eye level, she sees a boy about her age wearing a yellow bandana. She reacts instinctually, kicking him out of the way so she can land safely. Once she lands she quickly moves to follow her father who is jumping along a series of extremely large rocks jutting up a kilometer or so above the ground. "Come back here!" she says as she easily follows him. She notices that her father, not used to the center of mass of his panda body, is having a little trouble keeping balance. For a moment she is worried: "Come BACK HERE!" she yells again with a little of the worry evident in her voice. Then she remembers that this is her father. He's probably already made the adjustment to the different mass distribution and won't make a mistake again. Heck, he's tough enough that even if he DID fall it would probably
only hurt him a little Ranma then realizes that she isn't having any problem at all. In fact, if anything she has BETTER balance in her cursed form. Good to know...

By now she has reached the other side of the string of rocks and is almost caught up to the panda. Suddenly she hears a faint splash. What was THAT? she wonders stopping to listen. Not hearing anything else she looks down. Whoah! I'm right above the springs! That guy I kicked...kuso! Ah well, probably would have ended up in one of those springs anyway. Suddenly, Ranma remembers something: Hey that guy... kinda looked familiar... She tries to think, odd visions of different types of bread swimming in her head. It couldn't be... No that's impossible! He couldn't have followed me all the way here!

She looks down again, seeing a tiny panda skipping toward a tiny shack. "Aw, he just didn't want to miss breakfast" She says out loud "Well I ain't that hungry yet, and I ain't goin' ta spend the rest of the day pantsless." She runs and jumps her way back to the hot spring, the former classmate she kicked momentarily forgotten. When she gets there, she pauses for a moment, wondering if she should become male again before getting dressed. She decides she's spent enough time in the water and puts on the boxers and the pants of her gi. Besides Pop's right, I need to know how this body works She goes through her katas for about an hour, while the last bit of moisture from the hot spring evaporates from her body.

~~~~[FB ends]~~~~

Ranma laughs. Little did he know that he would get plenty of time to find that out how his female side worked quite accidentally. To think that at one time his new form had actually intrigued him. Ha! How naïve he was! Hot water was never easy to find, and he seemed to be a magnet for the other variety. He grew to hate his cursed form with a passion. It wasn't so bad at Jusenkyo with no one around but his father and the guide, but as soon as he went to any kind of town he had to deal with men ogling him, women trying to get him to wear dresses, and the other, more subtle differences in the way he was treated that just irked him to no end...not to mention the crazy Amazon out for his blood. Soon every day in town would be filled with cries of "I'm a GUY DAMMIT!" followed usually by a fight.

If he could have just stayed at Jusenkyo a day or so longer he might have remembered to ask the guide for a cure, he might have learned something about how the curse worked, or at the very least had a few days of relative peace, but noooooo. They had to go to that stupid Amazon village for breakfast, more like a late lunch by that point. Ranma doesn't even remember the name, some kind of Nuche-whatzit. He, or rather she as Ranma was a girl at the time, was too hungry to care when the guide told her. If it had been any other day things might have gone fine, but that day was when the Amazon martial arts competition was being held.

Perhaps it was that she couldn't see the sign that said, "First place". Perhaps it was because she and her father had been on a see-food diet that often didn't involve currency. Perhaps it was just because she was unbelievably hungry. Whatever the reason she and her father ate the first prize. Which made the winner of the competition very irate. It was then that Ranma had said what he now considers the stupidest thing he had ever said in his life Well, if I defeat you, you've got no problem right?

Oh she had a problem all right. The amazon was easy enough to beat. She had a lot of skill and strength, but her technique concentrated on attacks and she left a few obvious holes in her defense. Ranma kicked into one of these holes, sending Shampoo flying. Ranma hadn't expected it to be so easy. She hadn't really been to many competitions before and so thought that most serious martial artists were more or less at her level, so when the judge announced her the winner she was positively giddy. In fact, she...giggled. Ranma frowns remembering. Men don't giggle. Men don't hit girls. Men don't happily tie their hair into a pigtail while their opponent slowly gets up to give them the kiss of death.

Back then, he usually wore his hair in a ponytail except when doing something messy, like swimming to China, climbing perilous cliffs, or fighting for his life. The ribbon that kept his ponytail in place had a tendency to come undone at inopportune moments and letting his hair get in his face. In a life or death situation, a pigtail is much safer. Of course, once he arrived in China almost everyday provided him with a life or death situation. He remembers now that when Onna-Ranma had returned to the Guide's shack after the hot spring, she found herself looking at her reflection in the mirror and the white ribbon tied in a bow to hold her ponytail. He remembers an odd thrill, and all of a sudden he finds the word that went with the feeling: kawaii. Ranma is confused. Men certainly aren't kawaii. As Ranma thinks about it he realizes that he acted more like a girl that day than any day before or since. It makes him wonder...

Anyway it was rather appropriate that when Ranma received the kiss of death she had her hair in a pigtail. It certainly qualified as a life or death situation. She didn't have enough time to tie it off so it had come undone shortly afterward as she and her father were running, that was probably the last time she wore her hair in a pony tail. A blood-crazed amazon after your life will do wonders for your vanity.

But though things went haywire pretty fast, Ranma never forgot that time in the hot spring. Yes, there were times when his father wasn't such a loser. There were times when he made quite a bit of sense, and Ranma knows that he cares about him. Still, his father is man led as much by his stomach as any sense of honor he might possess, and although he might actually be very clever, his cowardice cancels that out. His father is always controlling his life...just like with this stupid fiancée thing.

Look at her! Some fiancée! The taller, shorthaired girl in the kimono. She kept on touching his breasts. He hated that. Of course she did have a point. He couldn't really be a fiancé to any of them if he was a girl.

I'm just glad you're a... girlAkane said this after she and Ranma sparred. THAT threw him for a loop. He isn't sure how he feels about that. He isn't sure if perhaps he really ought to reveal to the Tendos, especially his new friend, that he is really a guy right away. But they'll find out sooner or later...

Ranma's hand goes to his pigtail. Today is the last day...


Ranma is taking a bath in a rented room in China. He left his father a few weeks ago and is happy he made the decision. Every day had been spent running from place to place, not ever getting a chance to even talk to anyone. If it wasn't the amazons, it was the owners of the food his father stole. Ranma was sick of it. He reasoned that if he could just stay a man most the time, Shampoo wouldn't be able to find him, and that the main thing keeping him from staying a man was a lack of money. The only way to get money is to work, so, one night, Ranma sneaked away to find his fortune. He could deal with Shampoo if he had to, but this running all over the place had to stop. He came to the town without any money at all. Without any money at all he approached the first building he came to. That building, by a major stroke of luck was the home of the Tasuke family, the only Japanese family in the town. Ranma figured he'd just ask where he could find a job, but when the lady at the
door saw him she asked right away if he wanted to work in her sushi bar. Ranma said yes, but that there were a few problems. Ranma showed her his curse, but she didn't seem surprised at all.

Her name was Tasuke Heiko and she was the mother of a two-year-old and the wife of the man reputed to be the strongest in town. Ranma was pretty sure he could take him if he needed to but that wasn't the point. The point was that Ranma had a job. He was getting paid. He could get food without stealing it. She needed someone to help keep certain people out of the restaurant. Ranma was perfect because he wouldn't make any of the customers feel nervous as he was not an imposing character, but he could easily dispatch any of the criminals that threatened the customers. Usually her husband was enough for the job, but now gangs were starting to be more common and her husband was getting old.

Working as a bouncer was more boring than he had thought. Most of the time he would just try to pass the time watching the cooks make the sushi and other meals and trying to memorize their movements as if studying martial arts moves. Every now and then though, a gang would try to threaten the customers and Ranma would put them down discreetly. It was so extremely dull; Ranma almost enjoyed the days he worked as a waitress. Tasuke had oddly insisted that he work three nights of the week in his girl form. The waitress uniform was a sort of kimono which could pretty much be worn by a man or a woman and also provided a disguise that could fool Shampoo as long as Ranma let her hair out. So Ranma had hesitantly agreed to it.

Curiously there were not nearly as many accidents as there had been on the road. Initially Ranma was especially worried about would happen if he became male while working as a waitress without the dragon whisker. But he always had easy access to cold water and all that a customer ever saw was her hair flash black and then back to red as Ranma quickly poured a beverage on herself. Aside from her hair being an inch or so longer there were usually no major problems. More frequent of course were the times where he would get splashed with cold water while working as a bouncer, but this didn't happen nearly as much as Ranma would have thought and hardly happened at all after about a week.

After he worked for a few days Tasuke had given him a red Chinese shirt and black pants. At first, Ranma was merely properly grateful. But when he found out that he could wear it in both his forms and it wouldn't fall off or expose his chest... he was practically ecstatic. Not that he cared for the most part about whether anyone saw his girl half's breasts, but that often led to Ranma needing to cream someone, which was awfully inconvenient.

Each night Tasuke, her husband and Ranma talked over tea. Ranma would tell them of his training or what happened that day and they would tell him of their many adventures before settling in China. Tonight was different though. Her husband dismissed himself early and Tasuke told Ranma her story and why she insisted that Ranma work as girl half the time.

"You can control the curse by scheduling periods of time in both forms" Tasuke-san is a thin, wiry woman of medium height, shortish hair and sharp eyes. She just oozes intelligence. She also has a smile that could warm the coldest heart. "At first you need to be in your cursed form longer but then, as long as you purposely change forms now and then, the time you have to be in either form will equal out. If you spend too much time in either form you subconsciously seek out water. After awhile you can go for days without changing but then you need to change every hour or so after that. It's like a living thing you see. The change feeds it."

"So sorry, Tasuke-san but how do you know this?" She looked thoughtful then, deciding how to answer. Ranma remembers her look clearly, because it was the harbinger of the second most shocking knowledge he ever received.

Tasuke sighed and said, as if releasing a weight that she had been holding unconsciously for a long time, "I was once a man." And so began the Conversation.

It began like so many interesting conversations with the question "NANI?"

Tasuke laughed. She laughed and it seemed like she was laughing for the first time. "What indeed, what indeed." She reflected when she was done. "I suppose I better start at the beginning..." and so she told her story.

Before her bout with Jusenkyo, Tasuke was fairly good martial artist himself, although his talents were more concentrated in the occult. In meditation and chi manipulation he found his forte. Always seeking new knowledge he traveled to China. He wished to speak with a group known as the Musk, as well as visit an area reputedly populated by bird-like people. He was very interested in the Amazons he had heard about, but he knew that they were very militant toward outsiders, especially male ones and he didn't want to cause more trouble than he could handle. He was very courteous to his hosts, and very cautious. Still, it was very dangerous talking to such powerful individuals. He had to demonstrate his unique gifts several times. His greatest technique was to make cords out of his chi with which he could wrap enemies in. This was non-violent and highly effective and it usually enabled him to talk to whoever was in charge.

At every location he asked for information on techniques, often trading knowledge for knowledge, but at every location someone would inevitably mention one place: Jusenkyo. Every thing he had heard about it was bad. It had magic though. Not just chi magic either, real, raw, unrefined magic. Tasuke had to go there.

He talked for hours with the guide and exchanged stories, but something kept Tasuke there. The Guide invited him to stay for the night and Tasuke agreed. That night, Tasuke had a dream. A girl, about sixteen or so was running away from something. A man. She ran up and down the rocky terrain, often loosing her footing and scrambling up awkwardly. She ran past a cluster of pools sparkling eerily in the moonlight. She paused for a moment as if realizing something then ran again. Just as she came to the edge of one of the pools a rock flew at the girl's head and connected, knocking her into the pool. In the dream Tasuke came up to the pool and into it seeing the body of the girl. In a sudden movement the girl reached out of the water and pulled Tasuke in. It was then that Tasuke woke up, cold, wet, and female.

Tasuke Heiko paused in her story to ask Ranma a question. "How do you feel about women, Ranma?"

Ranma wasn't sure how to answer the question. "I don't know. They're alright I guess."

"If a man and a woman were in a fight, who would win?"

"The man." Ranma said without hesitation.

Tasuke laughed again "You've never had a girlfriend have you, Ranma?"

"Er... no"

"I suppose that'll make the transition easier for you then. Me, I was engaged to the most beautiful woman I ever saw."

"Transition? What do you mean?"

Tasuke sighed "Ranma, there isn't a cure. I've searched the entire world for one, and if I, someone attuned to mystic fluxes and ki resonators can't find it, there's no way you will. You have many choices but when you rule out the ones that bring insanity or death, it pretty much comes down to two. You can either remain as you are now, a half woman, half man... Or you can become a woman permanently."

Ranma didn't say anything for awhile, he just looked at Tasuke, suddenly realizing who she was, the choices she had made, and what that meant. He didn't accept that there wasn't a cure; he couldn't, but Tasuke had put the first tinge of doubt in his mind. That doubt would never go away. Not wanting to think about this, Ranma finally asked, "So... you had a girlfriend?"

" I was engaged. There is a bit of a difference." Tasuke frowned slightly.

"What's that?"

"Well... it was an arrangement between our parents. I loved her anyway, so it wasn't that bad, but it was like we were already married. We were living together, sleeping in the same bed, and we were close, but... looking back I wish we had more time to get to know each other. I wish we could have had our first kiss at the end of a date rather than... you probably don't want to hear this. The main problem was that I was only a little older than you are now, and I took what I had for granted."

"What'd you do when..."

"After it happened I went to places around the world, looking for a cure. I didn't want to return home uncured. I was like Odysseus, unable to come home until the curse was lifted."

"Who's Oddypuss?"

"Odysseus...Nevermind. He's a character in a popular story. He went through many adventures trying to find his way home, as did I. I never found a cure. In ten years I couldn't find one. Finally, I grew so homesick I went to see my fiancée. She was with another man. They all thought I had died. Like Odysseus, no one recognized me. I had to prove who I was. Finally everybody believed me...but then...I had to show them all the curse. Afterwards I talked to the love of my life...For a moment she looked like she would embrace me. Then she gave me the hardest slap I ever received in my life and turned away. That was when I knew... my old life was over." Tasuke wiped away a tear from her cheek and sighed. "I guess it still gets me even now."

Ranma felt tears of his own threatening to drop from his eyes. He swallowed against the lump in his throat. For some reason the story touched him in a way nothing had before. It wasn't the saddest thing he ever heard but for some reason it made him think of his mother...and there he was trying not to cry...

"Ranma," Tasuke said, "don't ever let anyone keep you from crying."

"Huh?" Ranma blinked. The moisture in his eye traveled down his face. He wiped it off and looked at his hand in surprise. "B- but..."

Tasuke smiled, "Yes, Ranma, you're human."

"I'm a man! Men aren't supposed to cry!"

Tasuke politely smacked Ranma with a frying pan.

"OW! What dya do THAT for!" And how did she manage to do that politely? Ranma wonders.

"Men cry all the time, Ranma. Your father cries, doesn't he?"

"Well, yeah, but only when he's tryin' to get me to do somethin'... And I never said Pops was manly."

"Some of the manliest men in the world cry, Ranma. When you cry, and it's for real, then it means you care for something. It means that you respect what is lost and treasure what remains. It also means you are willing to let it go." Tasuke looked over Ranma's left shoulder with a distant expression.

Ranma turned around, but all he saw was a cabinet with a tea set made for cha-no-yo. Ranma didn't know that much about cha-no-yo, just that it was a very special tea ceremony that was supposed to restore harmony between two people. When Ranma was little Genma would sometimes read him samurai stories...Harmony or "wa" was extremely important to the samurai. Ranma thought about his father. He cared for him once; he still did a little, but where was the wa? There are so many things Genma has to answer for, but Ranma wished then, and wishes now, thinking about it, that there could be harmony again.

"It was a long time before I could cry about her. I kept thinking she would take me back, that she would love me again, but she only got angrier. Finally she threatened to have me killed if I bothered her again. That was when I knew that I was beaten. I cried for hours and in the end did something I instantly regretted but now view as the most beneficial rash act I've ever committed." Tasuke got up and walked to the cabinet. She opened it and took out an odd metal teakettle and a small longish vial.

"What did you..."

"I never found a cure, but I found a few ways to lock the curse. The Musk have an artifact called the Chisuiton which is a magical ladle that makes the water it holds lock curses." Ranma was silent as Tasuke filled the odd kettle with the rest of the hot water that was used to make the tea. "This isn't that. I'd have never touched that after I got the curse and I stayed as far away from the Musk as possible once I got the curse for...other reasons. This does, however work on the same principles. If you drink the water from this kettle while you are immersed in hot water, you will change into your cursed form and remain in that form for about six months, the time varies of course person to person but its almost never completely permanent." Tasuke poured water from the locking teakettle into the vial and handed the vial to Ranma.

"Why the hell would I want that!" Ranma exclaimed.

"As I've said several times, Ranma there is no cure. You have to adapt. There are two ways you can do this. Either you keep changing back and forth willy nilly not sure of yourself and not sure what sex you'll be from one moment to the next, or you can get all of it over with in half a year. The magic now in this vial feeds your curse Ranma, and after it wears off you have three months until you are drawn toward water again. You have three months of being whatever sex you want! This is the closest thing to a cure I found, Ranma, don't be so quick to refuse it."

"I dunno, six months as a girl for three months as a mostly male...It don't sound all that great ta me."

"Of course it doesn't now Ranma. It didn't to me either when the old woman in that village insisted I take it. But in my desperation that night I drank it, swearing that if I couldn't love her than I would never love another woman. I regretted that for a long time, but I learned more about myself and my craft in that six months than I ever did in all my years of training."

"So you're saying that by stayin' a girl longer you learned more about ki?"

"Definitely. Ki is the power of the soul and being a woman allows that power to travel in new directions."

"It turned you into a girl." Ranma accused.

"It did no such thing."

"You're a girl now..."

Tasuke raised her hands in front of her face with her finger splayed and a bright pinkish light shot out and hit Ranma. Ranma felt the change.

"So are you." Tasuke said with a smirk.

"But...I thought..." Ranma didn't understand. How could she make him change without water?

"I can trigger other people's curses without much problem. Doesn't help me of course. Trying to use ki magic on yourself is like trying to look into your own eyes. The pink color is a nice touch don't you think?" Ranma just stared at her wide-eyed. Hearing the story was one thing, seeing evidence of it was another. "You are a girl now Ranma. In every respect of the word. If you still do male things than you're a bit of a tomboy. If you are attracted to women, then you are a lesbian. It doesn't matter that ten seconds ago you were a boy. It doesn't matter that you still think of yourself as one. It's a really simple observation to make, Ranma. And if you refuse to make it, then you are weakened by it."

Ranma didn't know what to say.

"Ranma, I know you don't believe me now, but it's really better if you drink the vial. Your father is nearby... I can sense him. When he comes, and he will come, then he's going to use your sense of manhood against you. He's going to make you do things that you don't want to do because your manhood is threatened. With that vial you can take that power away from him. I do not know for certain if this will be so, but I do know this is what he intends."

Ranma shook her head "I ain't gonna be a girl for half a year just ta get back at Pops."

Tasuke sighed, "Can you please promise me that you will at least take it with you? If you don't use in ninety days or so it loses its power anyway and you can throw it away."

Ranma considered. There really wasn't any harm in humoring her. "Okay...you win...but, how am I gonna carry it?"

"You can tie it up in your pigtail can't you?"

"Yeah I guess so." Ranma untied her hair and retied the pigtail around the vial. It was thin enough that there wasn't a visible difference in Ranma's hair.

"I'll just leave you to your thoughts now, Ranma. Just remember, admitting that you are a girl doesn't make you any less of a man."

"What the hell kinda sense does that make?" Ranma asked. Tasuke just smiled and left the room. The thing was it did sort of make sense if you thought about it.

Ranma is thinking about it now in the bath. Technically Tasuke is right. He really can't get around that, but still, he can't agree with it. The simple statement "when I am a girl, I am a girl" was a statement that would throw everything Ranma knew about himself into turmoil were he to agree to it.

He thinks about his father. "He's gonna call me a girl." Ranma knew that as surely as Tasuke did. "He's gonna tell me ta do something and call me a girl if I don't do it." Ranma felt his pigtail rethinking for a moment the idea of just agreeing with his father and refusing to follow his order. But if he did that, he'd have to agree that he was a girl. He just cannot do that. He is a man and he isn't going to say he was a girl just because some housewife said so. A housewife who had seen more, done more, and learn more, than Ranma could even dream. "She's right...I'm weak." Ranma says sadly. "When Pops comes I'll do whatever he says..." Ranma thinks for a moment agonizing over what he is going to say. "Alright dammit! I'm a girl sometimes, I gotta get over people callin' me that. But that don't mean I gotta act like one! I ain't gonna ever worry `bout clothes or cook people food, or clean rooms, or wear dresses and stuff. I'm a man. I just got a girl's body sometimes. If
someone calls me a girl I'll let it slide from now on, but if they ever say I act like one...open season" Ranma cracked his knuckles on this thought. That still didn't help with his father though. He makes an amendment: "And Pops is an idiot. Nothin' he's says really matters anyway." Ranma frowns. He knows that even if he doesn't respond to his father's insults, if Pops, he'll go with him. Suddenly he realizes the reason. "Dammit! I miss the old bastard."

Ranma gets up and dries off. "Well," he says resignedly, "I guess I better go pack." Ranma does not consider drinking the vial again. He does not throw it away either.

~~~~[FB ends]~~~~

Today is the last day.

It had taken more than a month to travel all the way to Hong Kong. If Ranma hadn't saved as much money from his job as he did or if he hadn't hidden it so well they would have had to swim back to Japan and they would have arrived several days after the vial was useless. Tasuke explained that the magic was dissolved into the water like carbon dioxide in seltzer water and that like seltzer water it would go flat after awhile. As long as there was a little "fizz" the magic would work to its full potential, but if it was completely flat it would just be water. Ranma took her word for it not really understanding and not caring and left with his father.

Throughout the month or so of travel Ranma remained secure about his decision that night in the bath. If someone called him a girl he gritted his teeth and bore it, but he still took the liberty of reeducating those who were under the impression that that made him less of a man. Ranma more or less forgot about the vial, except sometimes at night, listening to his father's panda snores, when he felt particularly miserable. He would sometimes think of what his life would have been like had he been born a girl. She would have stayed home with mom probably. Would probably have had more friends. Probably wouldn't have a fear of cats and wouldn't have to worry about undoing her hair or anything else. Sometimes that life looked pretty good, and Ranma would touch his pigtail wondering. He always decided in the end though, that he preferred the chaos that he was living through to whatever piece of knitting he would be working on if he were a girl.

What Akane had said though... He really wishes he could be Akane's friend for just a little bit longer. Ranma takes out the vial from his pigtail, and looks at it. Ranma shakes his head. Six months is just too long, especially for such a silly reason.

"Well, might as well throw this away, this bein' the last day and all." He aims for the trash.

Now given five seconds or more of silence the vial will wind up in the trash, never to be seen again. Akane inevitably encounters a male Ranma and the usual hilarity ensues. But although there are an infinite number of universes wherein those five seconds exist, there are an equally infinite amount of universes wherein Akane decides to take a bath on her own, or meets Kasumi shortly after Ranma is shown to her room or is closer to the kitchen when Nabiki goes to find her. In these universes Akane, upon seeing the clothes in the basket and exclaiming "Oh I guess we can both take our baths!" causes Ranma to pause before throwing the vial...

Oh no! That's Akane! If she sees me like this...

Ranma quickly pops the cork off the vial, downs its contents and lays down in the furo allowing the water to pass over his...now her head. Akane opens the door. Ranma slowly brings her head out to see Akane in the doorway. Jeez that was close!

Akane is naked. Ranma realizing this averts her eyes as best she can. "Umm. Hi, Akane" Ranma hadn't thought out this far. Akane was going to be naked in the furo with her! And Pops how am I gonna deal with him? And Shampoo!

"What's wrong Ranma? You're looking a little nervous. Come on relax... We're both girls right?"

"R-right." Ranma says with the wince she still hadn't quite gotten rid of. She thinks of the problems she will soon face and of the somewhat different situation she is in at the moment and doesn't know whether to laugh or cry. Ranma is a girl...and she's in hot water.


AUTHOR'S NOTE: This was originally intended as a one-shot but I might add more to it now since it's just crying to be continued. I started this before I started work on Ch.2 of Thyself Known so that's why it's a little weird. I'm still working on Ch. 3 of TK. I ran into a snag and had to run away for a bit. I'm busy on another fic now and I have to derail myself from that track before I get back to TK, but I do plan to continue it.

A dog breeder once went to a vet. His pure bred cocker spaniel just had a litter of puppies and one of them was a Shitsu! When the dog breeder asked how something like that could happen the vet just shrugged and said. "Shitsu happens."

You should never upload fics when you're tired...