A Ranma 1/2 / Sailor Moon cross over mini-series. A PG rating for language and situations.
This story and a few others can be found on
my web page at
My thanks to Ben Oliver for proof reading and suggestions. While not every suggestion made it into the story, they kept me laughing long enough to finish the chapter.
Ranma 1/2 is a trademark of Viz Communications,
Inc. and was created by Rumiko Takahashi.
Sailor Moon is the property of Takeuchi Naoko and some other folks such as D.I.C. and Cloverway.
This story is of my own derivation and is not intended for commercial purposes, so please don't sue me.
What has gone before...
In part one, Ranma has a disagreement with Akane that ends in the termination of their engagement. Fortunately, Genma has another arrangement with a family that lives in nearby Azabu-Juban, the Tsukinos. Normally, Tsukino Kenji would never consider an arranged marriage, but he discovered his sixteen year-old daughter has a serious relationship with a college student more than five years older - and who has his own apartment. Kenji is using the engagement to break up Usagi's relationship with Mamoru. Genma has other ideas, and made Ranma promise to hide his curse as long as possible. Of course, Usagi learns of his curse before the day is over, but assumes Ranma must be another bad guy and attacks as Sailor Moon. Ranma straightens out the misunderstanding, but now knows Usagi's secret. The two call a truce until they can formulate new plans to get their lives back to normal (such as it is). The next day, Ranma accompanies Usagi to Juuban High School where they (literally) run into Minako. Discovering that although they are engaged, it is not by their own choice and consider each other 'free,' Minako decides Ranma is perfect boyfriend material and stakes her claim. After an altercation in the hall, she learns of Ranma's curse. At lunch, the rest of Usagi's friends learn of the engagement and Ranma's curse, and agree to help the pair. After school, Ranma is taken shopping for a school uniform by Usagi and her mother. Usagi uses the opportunity to tease Ranma about his curse by dragging him through the women's clothing section. This backfires as Ikuko, knowing nothing of Ranma's curse, misinterprets Usagi's actions as romantic interest.
And so, without further ado, we continue...
Ranma walked down the street, accompanied by Usagi, Ami, Minako, and Makoto. The girls had decided to take Ranma over to the shrine where they would meet Rei to discuss plans. Both moon cats were left home for this meeting; Ami had to promise the cats a recording of the meeting before they reluctantly agreed.
After a short discussion with Ami, Haruka and Michiru decided to sit this meeting out as well; it seemed to them that Usagi's problem would be best worked out among the inner senshi, plus, the two older girl's presence might give Ranma too much information. He already knew about Sailor Moon; no need to give away the rest of the senshi's identities.
Ranma shivered slightly from the cold; fall was finally making its presence known. For once, he was glad to have the gray jacket the boy's uniform required. He'd really hate to have to wear a skirt like the girls. How did they put up with that in winter? Despite the stockings they wore, the girls were hurrying. He guessed, correctly for a change, that part of their hurry was the desire to get out of the cold.
Makoto noticed his attention to their haste and decided to divert his concern; after all, there wasn't anything he could do about the weather. "Ranma?"
Ranma immediately assumed the worst. Several months in Nerima had him trained to expect such misunderstandings. "I wasn't staring! Really!" He waved his arms about, warding off a blow that didn't fall.
Makoto wondered briefly about Ranma's past. She put that off for another time; she was more interested in the concept of a gender-changing curse. "Ami, Rei, and I haven't seen your curse yet; maybe you could show us? Not that we don't believe you, but it is kind of hard to imagine."
Ranma sighed in relief. "Okay. Once we get to the shrine, I'll demonstrate it. But just that one time!" He grimaced. "It's bad enough changin' by accident without havin' to do it on purpose." He brightened a little. "But, on the good side, I've only accidentally changed twice in the last two days. That's a personal record; maybe leavin' Nerima wasn't such a bad thing."
The girls looked puzzled; the mystery piqued their curiosity. Ami spoke for the group. "What do you mean?"
Ranma was about to speak when the squeal of tires interrupted. As a group, they all turned to look up the street where a car had pulled out right in front of a delivery truck. The truck slammed on it's brakes, sliding into the next lane. The driver of a car in that lane panicked and swerved into the curb, blowing out a tire with explosive force. A professional dog-walker passing by was shocked by both the sound and the fact that he had nearly been hit by a car; the group of dogs straining against their leashes suddenly found themselves free, and ran from the source of the commotion. Ranma and the girls watched the dogs stream past them on the sidewalk. A man ran out of the store they were in front of, hoping to see the accident, and found himself fouled in the leases. He was sent sprawling into the road. A driver coming the other way was distracted by the accident up ahead and failed to notice the man until the last second and swerved to miss him. This took his car over the sidewalk and into a fire hydrant. The force of the water under the car caused water to spray for meters all around, one such spray catching Ranma right in the face. The girls looked in shock at the petite, red-headed girl in a wet, baggy, boy's uniform.
Ranma sighed even louder. "That's what I mean." She wiped her face in resignation and tightened the belt on her pants. "I have to admit, that was a little more involved than normal. Usually, someone just splashes me."
As if Ranma had spoken magic words, a bucketful of water descended from above, soaking more of her uniform. Ranma looked up toward to building just in time to catch another bucketful in the face.
One by one, the girls nervously started to giggle as Ami asked, "You mean like that?"
Ranma moved to the side away from the window as yet another bucketful splashed the sidewalk where she had been standing. She muttered under her breath, "One of these days..."
Mai paused in bailing out the bath. She was muttering under her breath, "You just had to have a full furoba in an upstairs apartment." She switched her position to make it easier to dump the water from the rinse bucket out the open window.
Ranma glared at the giggling girls. "This ain't funny!"
Rei smirked at the soaked red-head. "Lighten up, Ranma! It's not like you could get any more wet."
Another bucket of water poured over Ranma. She glared harder. "You just had to say that -" She was cut off as yet another cascade came down upon her. "ARRRRRRRRRRRRR!!" She stomped further from the building.
"What the hell!" Hideki stepped into the ankle-deep water. "What happened here?!"
Mai stopped bailing and gave him an irritated glare. "What do you think? The drain clogged up and the shower broke! I was lucky to get the water shut off before the floor gave out!" She bounced the other rinse bucket off his head. "Don't just stand there! Bail!"
Hideki grumbled as he picked up the shallow, wooden bucket. "Okay, but move over so we can both reach the window."
Ranma had her jacket off, trying to wring it out. Water started to cascade down from two different angles. Ranma dropped her arms and stood dejected as the girls lost it and fell over laughing in disbelief.
Ami finally found her voice as the others settled from loud chuckles back into their previous soft giggles. "Maybe we should just go before something else happens. Rei can get you some hot water when we reach the shrine." Laughter threatened to overtake her again as Ranma moved away from the building, her now too large shoes squelching with each step.
Ranma was in agreement. "Good idea." She rolled her eyes and prayed this more than balanced her previous good luck with water.
The group, now all girls, continued towards the shrine, water trailing behind the one trudging along at the rear.
Rei watched in morbid fascination as Ranma poured the hot water over her head. The short red-haired girl grew and changed, becoming a taller, more muscular, black-haired boy.
"Wow! I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it." She shook her head. Even fighting demons from another dimension didn't prepare you for having someone you knew change sex with the temperature of water. The only thing close in her experience was finding out she was a Sailor Senshi; even then, the magic only made her faster and stronger; she didn't change physically the way Ranma did. She shivered as she imagined what it must be like to become a boy; she wondered how he could stand such a thing. Then she opened a can of worms by voicing this. "I can't imagine what it's like to be a girl who turn's into a boy with hot water."
A red aura snapped into being around Ranma as he turned to face her. "I'm a guy, dammit!! A guy who turns into a girl with cold water!"
Rei swallowed and took a step back. Whoa! Scary! She had never seen a battle-aura so powerful on a normal human. But then, normal didn't exactly describe this particular human. His ki control must be phenomenal! She held up her hands in a placating manner. "Sorry, sorry! I just meant I couldn't imagine how I'd feel if it were me."
The aura blinked out of existence. Ranma scratched the back of his head and grinned sheepishly. "Sorry 'bout that. It's justa sore point with me."
She nodded. "Now that I can imagine."
Ranma gave her a pained look. "You have no idea... try imagining all the trouble it causes in school. I have to change for P.E. inna storage closet."
The miko blinked. "Why?"
He stared at her with a long, hard "you've got to be kidding me" look on his face. "You know how most high schools guys are, right?"
She nodded. "Yeah, a bunch of perverts, the whole lot of them." She started at his glare and continued quickly. "Um, present company excluded, of course." She tried to smile like she meant it.
He growled a little. "Well, that's pretty much the case, ain't it? So now try picturing changin' clothes or," he shuddered, "takin' a shower inna room fulla guys that know that one splash a cold water means instant girl."
Ranma watched a collective shudder run through those present and nodded. "'Splash-Ranma' was a pretty popular pastime at my last school once the word got around. That's why I'm tryin' to keep it a secret."
Minako asked the obvious question. "Then, how do you clean up after P.E.?"
"Hose at the equipment shed." He shrugged. "After ten years of bathin' in mountain streams, the water's not that cold, and I can usually find hot water pretty quick afterwards."
Rei looked thoughtful. "That might also explain how you can generate so much ki."
He looked at her blankly.
Ami tried to alleviate his ignorance. "Well, living outside for so long, bathing in cold water, the average person would probably have succumbed to hypothermia."
Still blank. "Scum-hypo-what?"
Rei sighed. "Your body had to adjust to the harsh living to keep you alive. You're quite lucky." She looked a little jealous. "Being a martial artist has allowed you to make some use of all that ki you've developed. I can control my ki as part of my training as a shrine maiden to do fire readings, but it's nowhere near as strong."
Ranma regained some of his smug attitude. "Well, I am the best there is."
A couple of the girls rolled their eyes. He may be strong, but wouldn't match up to any of them in their senshi form. Rei snorted in contempt.
Minako gave Rei a glare, then wrapped herself around one of his arms. "He's really fast! Usagi was saying he dodged all her attacks." Usagi nodded in support of her friend.
Rei gave the boy an appraising look. He might not have any magic abilities, but he was handsome and pretty strong for someone without magical enhancement. One could definitely do worse for a boyfriend. "The curse doesn't bother you then?"
Minako shook her head. "Of course not!" Under the onslaught of several glares, she relented. "Well, maybe a little. But it's just a curse. Sailor Moon might even be able to break it."
Rei grinned at Usagi. "He'll probably be so grateful, he'll pledge his undying love to you."
Usagi grinned a moment, lost in the romantic day-dream, until she remembered she had no interest in the boy. "What?!" She rounded on Ranma, shaking a fist in his face. "You better not! My Mamoru will break you in half if you even think about it!"
Minako decided to remind everyone who had the first shot at this particular hunk. She turned heart-filled eyes on the pig-tailed boy. "So, when are we going to have that dinner together?"
Makoto started. "Ranma invited you out to dinner?" She looked distraught for a moment. Ranma was prime material compared to most of the guys available. His experience with his curse would also leave him with a better understanding of girls than any other guy could possibly claim. Minako had called dibs before the others even had a chance. She frowned at her friend, then noticed Rei doing the same. They nodded in agreement. If Minako struck out, they'd have to make sure Ranma had a good impression of them so they could make their own play for him.
Ranma had that confused look again. "I did?"
"Yes, he did," Minako replied quickly. "Actually, we were going to have dinner at my place."
Makoto frowned, then brightened up as she quipped, "As long as you don't cook... no need to poison him on the first date."
Minako pouted. "My cooking isn't that bad!"
Rei clenched her fists. "What about the time I was sick? Your soup had me breathing fire!"
Ranma started to sweat - another girl after him who couldn't cook. Why was he so cursed? He leaned toward Ami and whispered, "Is her cooking really that bad?"
Ami nodded absently, still thinking of the scans being made by her hidden Mercury computer rather than the conversation. "Hmm? Oh, yes, even worse than Usagi's."
"Uh oh." Ranma glanced at his current fiancée out of the corner of his eye. "Just how bad is Usagi's cooking then?"
"Ami-chan!" Usagi protested. "My cooking isn't that bad!" She slammed a hand down on the table in front of them. "I'll show you all! Tomorrow night, I'll cook everyone dinner!"
Large beads of sweat stood out on the other's foreheads.
Ranma just groaned. He really needed to get out of this engagement. He tried to get the girl's attention. "Um, guys? Shouldn't we be thinking about how to deal with the engagement?"
Usagi shook her fist in his face again. "Guys?! You're the one with the freaky curse!"
"I think he meant that in the general sense, Usagi," Makoto noted.
Ranma nodded frantically.
"Oh..." Usagi calmed down. "I knew that!" She laughed nervously and quickly withdrew her fist, lacing her hands together behind her. "So... we should get back to figuring out what to do."
Ranma's shoulders slumped. "I thought I just said that."
Minako nodded enthusiastically. The sooner they broke up the pair, the quicker she could make her claim official. She was muttering too low for anyone but Ranma to hear. "I'll show Ace whose love will be hopeless for all eternity." She started to laugh maniacally as Ranma trembled.
Rei gave her a dirty look. She still hadn't repaid Minako for the "care" she had received when she was sick. She'd have to think of a way to thank her appropriately, just as soon as an opportunity arose.
A sturdy young man with black hair, well-worn clothes, and a huge pack stood beside the road. The street signs told him he was in Japan, but gave him few other clues as to his whereabouts. Of course, Tokyo Tower in the background and the Shinjuku skyline would have been clues to anyone else. His sense of direction would be of no help in this situation - he'd have to take more direct action.
He grabbed a passing man by the collar, hoisting him easily from the sidewalk. "Is this Nerima?!"
The man strained against the teen's grip, but is was futile. "No! This is Juban!"
Ryoga ignored the man's struggles as he thought. He was in Tokyo! Now to find Nerima and make Ranma pay.
The man pried at the boy's hand with a crowbar.
"Tell me how to get to the Tendo Dojo!" He shook his captive slightly.
The man shook his head sharply as he dropped the crowbar. "I have no idea what you're talking about!"
Ryoga snorted and tossed him carelessly over one shoulder. Fortunately for the man, this was Juban; the last person Ryoga had tossed over his shoulder in Nerima had landed in the street as it was being re-paved and had been covered in asphalt before being steam-rolled.
Ryoga looked around for someone else to ask, noticing the shrine behind him for the first time. Maybe he could ask a miko. He blushed slightly at the thought of a beautiful young shrine maiden smiling as she pointed out the true path toward the site of his inevitable victory.
Ranma shook his head as he watched Usagi fight with Rei over a manga. Trust his finacée to contribute nothing to this planning session. On the other side of the room, Minako was arguing with Makoto about something; he had the sneaking suspicion it was related to him. Only Ami seemed to be concerned about the problem at hand. He got the impression that these planning sessions the girls held usually just degenerated into waiting for Ami to come up with something they could all agree on. The sound of someone pounding on the front door broke up the fight between Usagi and Rei as the miko went to answer the door. Ranma followed the girl, staying just outside the entryway as the girl answered the door.
Ryoga was still daydreaming as the door opened. He thought he was still daydreaming as the door opened to reveal a beautiful girl with long black hair. Her shrine maiden's outfit did nothing to detract from her appearance.
"Can I help you?"
Ryoga came out of his daydream as the girl spoke. The realization that the girl wasn't a dream stunned him into immobility.
Rei looked at the young man in concern. He seemed to be in some form of distress. She lead the nervous boy in and shut the door. Maybe he just needed some water.
Ranma's eyes widened. He darted back to Rei's room. "Aw, man! It's Ryoga!"
Minako and Makoto stopped arguing. They quickly joined Usagi in spying on the newest arrival, their heads forming an impromptu totem pole.
"Wow! He looks just like my old senpai!" Makoto rounded on Ranma. "You know that hunk?!"
Ranma gritted his teeth. "That pig is the main reason I had to leave the only home I've had in eleven years."
Usagi frowned at her fiancé. "You shouldn't be so mean! Someone that good looking can't be evil!"
Ranma looked nonplussed. "No. I mean he's really a pig! He's gotta curse like mine. Besides, you shouldn't judge people by how they look."
Minako waved Rei over as Ryoga waited for her to return. "Ranma knows this guy. He thinks he's trouble."
Rei looked torn: on one hand, they had another hunk to look at; on the other hand, he might be trouble. "Well, maybe Ranma should just hide here until he goes."
Ranma shook his head. "We can try that, but things like this never work out for me."
Rei smiled. "You'll just have to hide here in my room. I'll come get you later." She winked at the boy as his face reddened.
Usagi noticed Minako growing angry at Rei's obvious flirting. She had to act quickly to prevent a fight. She grabbed a handy bucket of water.
Ranma sputtered as cold water cascaded down the back of her neck. She rounded on Usagi. "Hey! What'd you do that for?!"
Usagi dropped the bucket she was holding and gave him an innocent look. "We can fool him with a disguise, and what better disguise than being a girl?"
Ranma gave her a disgusted look. "Except that bacon-breath already knows of my curse!"
Usagi looked embarrassed. "Oops." The other girls rolled their eyes and groaned.
Rei glared at the blonde, then turned to Ranma. "Just stay here until he leaves."
Ranma crossed arms. "Sure thing."
Rei walked out to greet the new boy. The shrine maiden frowned at the other girls trailing behind her. "You don't all need to come with me."
Makoto smiled sweetly. "We're, uh, just keeping you cover. Yeah! In case he really is trouble like Ranma said."
The others hurriedly nodded their agreement.
Rei sighed. "Let's see to our guest."
Ranma peeked out into the main hall and had a glimpse of Ryoga going catatonic as a group of pretty girls surrounded him.
Rei quizzically prodded the boy in the shoulder. He seemed to be in shock. "Are you all right?"
Ryoga slowly got control of himself. "Y-yeah. Heh-heh." He scratched the back of his head. "So, uh, do any of you know how to get to the Tendo..." He trailed off, glancing around. He muttered, almost too low to be heard, "There's a large ki-source nearby!" Something was wrong here. A ki-signature that large meant trouble, and he could tell it wasn't any of the girls.
Makoto waved a hand in front of his face. "Hello! Anybody home? Sorry, you kind of spaced out there for a moment."
Ryoga gave the girls a grim look. "There's trouble nearby! I feel something powerful in the shrine. From the stories I've heard about Juban, it's probably one of those monsters! As a Martial Artist, it's my duty to protect the weak!" He moved further into the shrine.
Rei tried to restrain the boy. "You mustn't go back there! That part of the shrine is off limits to visitors."
Ryoga just bulled on ahead. "I can't just ignore trouble! What if it's one of those monsters that seem to appear around here?"
Seeing the miko being dragged along without trouble, the others grabbed his arms in an effort to help. Ryoga seemed to have as little trouble dragging five girls as dragging one.
Rei dashed ahead of the others while Ryoga had his attention diverted by Usagi. She ran back to her room. "Quick, Ranma! He's coming this way!" She led the pig-tailed girl back to one of the storerooms. "I have a couple of old costumes back here!"
Ranma frowned at the idea of hiding from Ryoga in a costume, but she would hate to have him destroy the shrine looking for her. "So whatta you got?"
Rei dug through a few boxes. "Either a Wedding Peach dress, or a Sailor-V getup." A small smile lifted the corners of her mouth. If Ranma didn't chose the Sailor-V outfit on his own, she'd have to subtly persuade him.
Ranma thought quickly. She didn't think she could wear a peach colored wedding dress. Besides, hadn't Ryoga said he sensed someone strong? "Better make it the Sailor-V costume."
Rei pulled out a long, flat box. "Here, put this on while I check on how the others are doing."
Ranma looked in the box. The contents were: a blue skirt with a blue bow in the back; a white and red blouse with a red bow in the center of the chest, a blue collar, and white shoulder pads; a pair of elbow length white gloves with yellow trim; a pair of blue dress shoes; a white choker with a gold moon emblem; a red mask; and a long, day-glow yellow wig with a red hairbow already in place. It was definitely a Sailor-V costume... a really bad Sailor-V costume. While the ensemble had everything needed, it was so cheap that only a fool would think it anything but a child's costume. So - Ryoga would probably never notice. Ranma sighed. It wasn't like she had a choice at this point, but the girls would never let her live this down. She removed the articles from the box. Thank kami-sama she wouldn't run into the real Sailor-V here; she would probably kill her for making a mockery of her.
Rei grabbed some sodas from her room and hurried over to Ryoga as he routed through a closet. She passed the sodas around and whispered to Usagi, "I thought for sure he'd have reached my room by now."
Usagi drained her soda in one gulp before answering. "It's weird! He's searched that closet four times already!"
Makoto held out a drink to Ryoga as he left the closet again. She smiled. "Have a drink?"
Ryoga lost his train of thought as he stared at the tall girl. "Huh?"
The other girls clustered around Ryoga, sipping their drinks. Minako looked over as Ranma entered the room and sprayed a mouthful of soda toward Ryoga. The boy dodged frantically, then turned to see what the choking girl was gaping at; his eyes bugged out as he recognized the figure before him.
"Sailor-V?!" The lost boy zipped up to her with wide, shining eyes. "I'm your biggest fan! I can't believe I ran into you here!"
This time it was Makoto who sprayed soda as she started laughing.
Minako started turning a bright red as embarrassment and anger warred within her. She dragged Rei off to one side. "What the heck is Ranma pulling? Why did you give her - that to wear?!"
Rei just grinned evilly. "I don't know what you're talking about. Ranma chose the costume." She laughed as Minako clenched her fists and glared daggers at her.
Ranma blinked at Ryoga. The boy was truly dense. "Uh - I just stopped here so my good friend Rei," she glared daggers at the laughing girl, "could give me a fire reading."
Ryoga was babbling in joy at meeting his idol. "Did the idol Pandora really try to brainwash everyone using TV?"
Ranma hadn't the vaguest idea what he was talking about. Of course, he and his pop had spent nearly every moment of the last ten years on the road. "Uh..."
Ryoga continued without waiting for an answer. "Did you really fight evil Hawaiians in Greece? I know an evil Hawaiian right here in Tokyo!"
Ranma couldn't form a response to that.
Ryoga never noticed. "I heard you defeated one enemy in a karaoke battle! My sworn enemy Ranma once had a Martial Arts Karaoke challenge."
Ranma muttered to herself, "Oh yeah. I remember that."
Ryoga looked impressed. "Really? You were there? Wow! You really get around!" Ranma started to sweat, but Ryoga just moved on. "Hey, I heard you went to China once. I picked up this little problem there." He rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment. "Um, maybe you could help me out?"
Ranma had to get him off this line of questions. "I understand you came from Nerima? Just what happened up there?"
Ryoga gave her a smug look. "Well, I don't normally brag, but there was this jerk Ranma who was mistreating this girl I like, and tearing up the place. So, I ran the coward out of town." Ranma worked hard to keep a smile on her face. "I was going to comfort the poor girl afterwards, but - uh - I kinda lost my way in the dark." He scratched the back of his head. "Yeah. And so I wound up here. Maybe you can tell me how to get back to Nerima?"
Ranma sighed in disgust. The big idiot got lost immediately following the fight and would have no useful information.
Ryoga gave her a nervous laugh. "Um, Miss V?" Ranma rolled her eyes. "I'm a martial artist... the strongest one in Japan. Maybe you can show me a special move?"
Ranma allowed her anger full reign. She grinned madly. "Sure - anything for a fan." She struck a heroic pose. At least, it was supposed to be heroic. To the others, standing with one leg stretched behind her, the other leg bent forward at the knee, and arms akimbo, just looked - well, stupid.
Usagi whispered in a worried voice. "We don't look that bad, do we?"
Ranma cried in a loud voice as she waved one hand high, forefinger and pinkie extended. "Code name: Sailor V!! The soldier of justice! I am the sailor-suited beautiful soldier, Sailor Venus! I just want to be left in peace! That peace has been disrupted for the last time! The one to pay will be you!"
Minako was making choking sounds as she tried to restrained herself from pulling her henshin pin and showing them just what the real Sailor Venus did to impostors.
Ranma lead enough ki to a fist that the appendage started glowing. "SAILOR V - VENUS, uh, LOVE TAP!!" With the shout, she leapt forward. The blow flattened Ryoga, forming a small crater around him.
Ryoga smiled as lay insensate, "She touched me!"
As the boy struggled back to his feet, Ranma redirected her ki to her legs and kicked out at shoulder level. "SAILOR V - VENUS HEART-BREAKING KICK!"
Ryoga took the shorter girl's kick right in the chest. It sent him rocketing across the room and through the wall. His flight was arrested by the wall surrounding the shrine. The boy remained embedded in the wall a moment, dazed, while the girls all looked through the hole in the shrine wall. Minako looked about ready to do the same to Ranma.
Ryoga pulled himself from the wall with a dazed look. "Wow! I never knew Sailor-V wore boxers!" He wandered off in a haze. It was many long minutes before he came back down enough to realize he was no longer at the shrine. His expression immediately dropped as he yelled to no one in particular. "WHERE ON EARTH AM I NOW?!"
Ranma struggled to get control back, then noticed the large hole in the wall. "Oops! Sorry 'bout that." She growled a little. "That jerk just really gets me riled!"
Minako rounded on her. "Never mind that! Just what the heck are you doing in that costume?!"
Ranma looked at the angry expression on her face. "Sorry... didn't realize you were a fan, too." She pointed to Rei. "It's her fault - she's the one that gave me the costume!" The girl in question was still laughing as Ranma muttered, "Boy, I'm just glad the real Sailor-V wasn't here."
Makoto smiled as she moved up beside Minako. "Yeah, that costume was horrible! Don't you think so, Mina-chan?" She elbowed her friend. "I can't believe that guy fell for something so stupid!" She glanced over at the blond girl, then back at Ranma. "Of course, that punch was really something. I almost thought you were the real Sailor-V myself for a second. Don't you think, Mina-chan?" She elbowed the girl again.
Minako didn't answer. She was in a mindless fury, so she probably wouldn't have been able to make a comprehensible reply anyway.
Rei couldn't leave well enough alone. "And that Sailor-V impression was to die for!"
Ranma didn't notice Minako slowly turning red as she preened. "Really? You didn't think it was a little, well, dorky?"
Rei shook her head. "Not at all! You were great!"
Minako slowly turned purple as a dark, torturous aura built up around her.
Ranma looked around. "Rei? Think I can get some hot water?"
Rei got a mischievous glint in her eyes. "Sure thing, Ranma-kun." She hurried off, then reappeared with a kettle. Before Ranma could stop her, she poured the water over the girl. She smirked at the boy now straining the seams of a way-too-small Sailor-V costume. "Wow! Now you look just like Sailor-V!"
Ranma never got the chance to make his displeasure known as Minako howled and chased the laughing shrine maiden out of the room. The small group listened as Minako chased the girl outside and around the shrine a few times. Ranma shook his head and left to get his clothes from the storeroom. He sure was glad it wasn't him Minako was mad at. No telling what an angry fan was capable of.
The trio of Minako, Usagi, and Ranma headed back toward the Tsukino residence. Minako was still fuming over the ribbing the girls had given her.
Usagi gave the boy an apologetic look. "Sorry about Rei. I think she went a little too far-"
Minako cut her off. "A little?!"
Ranma just waved it off. "Don't worry about it. I've had worse done to me before. 'Sides, it was kinda funny when you think about it. Even I have trouble believing Ryoga fell for that disguise."
Usagi giggled briefly, then paused, a puzzled look on her face. "But why did he show up here? And where did he go?"
Ranma gave a brief explanation. "Ryoga has a really bad sense a direction. It usually leads him away from where he wants to be and leads him to where he shouldn't be. I think he's found way back to his own home only once in the last year and half."
Minako looked thoughtful. "You know, that's really sad. He must be a really lonely person."
Ranma nodded. "Yeah. He's always depressed. I'd feel sorry for the guy, 'cept that he's always screwin' up my life. Don't know why, but he's decided I'm to blame for everything wrong in his life."
The three stopped in front of the Tsukino residence.
Ranma looked at Minako. "Uh, about dinner - maybe we can do it some other time? This is about as much as I can take in one day, okay?"
Minako nodded. "Sure Ranma. I understand. I feel the same way." She sighed in disappointment. "I'll just see the two of you tomorrow at school."
Usagi gave Minako a hug. "Good night, Mina-chan."
It was about this time that the skies opened up and rain gushed down in sheets. Usagi and Minako looked over to see a drenched red-headed glower at this turn of events.
Ranma looked morose. "Aw, man! What else can go wrong today? Now I gotta sneak in and get some hot water."
Minako looked puzzled. "What's the problem?"
Usagi wiped her face with a sleeve. "The problem is that my folks don't know about Ranma's curse, and he promised his dad to try and hide it as long as possible."
Minako thought about it a moment. "You could either try to sneak in, or - you could come over to my place and get some hot water and wait out the storm."
Ranma looked from Usagi to Minako. "Really? You'd do that for me?"
"Sure." Minako shrugged. "It's no big deal. We'll tell my folks that you're a friend from school, then once the rain stops, I can give you some hot water as you leave. If it looks like the rain isn't stopping anytime soon, maybe you can get by with an umbrella. I'm sure my folks have one you can borrow."
Ranma gave her a big smile. "Thanks, Mina-chan!" She realized what she called the girl and looked away, embarrassed.
Minako smiled at her reaction.
Usagi glared from one to the other. She was irritated at Ranma for being the source of this trouble, at Minako for being so nice to someone who was still nominally her fiancé, and mad at herself for giving a damn about the two in the first place. Why was she jealous? She had Mamoru. She really needed to sort out her feelings. She sighed and turned towards Minako's home. "I'd better come along. If I show up without Ranma, the folks will have a fit."
Minako frowned at the girl, then shrugged. "Sure. I don't want you to get in any trouble. I'll have plenty of time with Ranma after we take care of your engagement."
Usagi wasn't sure how to react to that.
The three struggled towards Minako's home as the winds howled and whipped the torrential rains into a frenzy. At least it seemed that way to the each of the youngsters as they struggled with the feelings invoked by the happenings of the day.
The three girls stood dripping in the entryway of the Aino residence. Minako's mom hurried over.
"Minako! You should know better than to go out during the rain this time of year." She looked at Usagi. "Nice to see you again, Usagi. You can call your parents and tell them that you're staying until the rain eases up. I'm sure they're worried sick about you." She turned her attention to Ranma. "And who might you be, young lady?"
The woman was blond, like her daughter, but with an air of dignity the younger girl lacked. She was dressed in a simple blouse and skirt. Ranma opened her mouth in preparation of inserting her foot.
Usagi placed a hand over Ranma's mouth before she could get herself in trouble and answered for her. "This is an old friend of mine from out of town, Ran," she pause a brief instant, "ko. Yeah, Ranko." She laughed nervously. "She's... staying at my place. Ranko, this is Mina's mother, Amai."
Ranma just glared at Usagi.
Amai nodded at the introduction. "Well then, I suppose your folks are worried about her too. Bad enough their daughter is running around in the rain, but to have a houseguest out heaven-only-knows where..." She hustled the girls into the bathroom. "You girls get out of those wet clothes and get dried off before you catch a cold. I'll bring Usagi and Ranko some robes to wear while their clothes are in the drier." She hurried off.
Minako and Usagi looked at Ranma and blushed a bright red.
Ranma looked ready to faint. "Um, is it too late to just sneak into Usagi's place?"
Minako groaned. "Now what are we going to do? If Mom comes back and we're not dried off, she'll probably try to do it herself."
Usagi scowled at her. "She wouldn't really do that."
Minako looked dubious. "I wouldn't want to chance it. You haven't seen her when she gets into one of her mothering moods."
Usagi shuffled nervously. "Maybe if Ranma kept his back turned..."
Ranma pointed to the mirror over the sink. "What about the mirror?"
Minako gave it a look. "It has to be on our side; that way we can make sure you aren't peeking. Besides, you might be a guy, but you're a girl at the moment, so it wouldn't be like we were peeking."
Ranma gave in with a sigh. "Okay, okay, but let's hurry up. Your mom will be back soon."
They divided up the towels. Minako and Usagi waited for Ranma to turn around and quickly stripped off their wet clothes. They hurriedly toweled off, checking the mirror frequently to make sure Ranma wasn't trying anything. They wrapped a towel about themselves after drying off, then started on their hair. By the time Minako's mom returned, all three were wrapped up and drying their hair.
She noticed the girls' relative positions. "My you're all quite shy tonight." She handed Ranma and Usagi robes, and a change of clothes to her daughter. She picked up the girls' clothes. "Ranko dear? Why were you wearing boy's clothes?"
Ranma turned red. "I, uh, I guess I'm just a tomboy." She laughed self-consciously.
Ranma and Usagi slipped on the robes and left Minako to change; they followed Amai to the living room, still blushing slightly. Mrs. Aino continued into the utility room to start the girls' clothes drying.
Usagi went to the phone to call home while Ranma found a seat. She studied Mrs. Aino as she reentered the room. The woman caught her staring.
"Is something the matter, Ranko."
Ranma blushed again. "No; it's just that I ain't seen my own mom in over ten years."
Minako sat next to her, dressed in a fresh change of clothes. "Why haven't you seen your mom in so long?"
Usagi finished her phone call and wandered over, curious about what Ranma would say.
"Well, my pop took me onna trainin' journey when I was six, and we've been on the road pretty much the whole time since. He wanted me to be the best martial artist of my generation. I guess I am, but now that our trainin' trip is done, we ain't headed home. I've asked, but the fat panda won't tell me nothin'."
Amai gave her a sympathetic look. "It must have been hard growing up on the road, but that's no excuse for bad manners. You need to mind your language or people won't think of you as a lady."
Usagi smirked, seeing another opportunity to tease Ranma. "Yeah, Ranko! You do want to be a lady, right?"
Minako gave Usagi a glare as the girl continued her teasing.
"How are you ever going to land a man if you act like such a tomboy?"
Both Minako and Ranma glared at the girl.
Amai chided Usagi. "Now Usagi, is that anyway to talk to an old friend? Especially considering that. How would you feel in her position?" She turned back to Ranma. "Have you tried looking her up yourself? If you remember where you used to live, you could simply call directory service."
Ranma scratched her head. "Well, I do know we used to live in the Nerima district. I don't remember too much else."
"It's a start. Now, what's your mother's name?"
The three waited a moment, then turned to look at the blank girl.
Minako asked gently, "You don't remember your mother's name? What did you used to call her?"
Ranma's brow furrowed as she thought at length. Her face lit up. "I remember!"
They leaned forward expectantly. "What was it?"
"It was a long time ago, but I remember. I called her... Mom!"
The others face-faulted.
Mrs. Aino was the first to her feet. "Do remember your father ever mentioning her name? Did he ever say anything about her?"
Ranma thought a moment. "No, I can't remember him ever mentioning her. Whenever I'd ask about her, he'd just hit me an' tell me to stop actin' like a girl." She shrugged. "After awhile, I just quit askin'."
The three women were shocked, especially Amai as she was unaware of Ranma's curse. They struggled to hold back tears. Ranma started to worry at all the drawn faces and eyes shining with unshed tears.
Minako spoke hesitantly. "Maybe - maybe she's dead and he just couldn't break it to you."
Amai swept the girl up in a big hug. "Oh! You poor girl!"
Ranma struggled to pry herself free. She shook her head. "No, he'd a said somethin' if that'd happened. It's more like he's hidin' somethin'; for some reason, he just don't want me seein' her."
Usagi and Minako independently decided to ask Ami to help hunt down Ranma's mother. Perhaps they could trace her through her husband or son. Ami would have a better idea of where to start.
Amai smiled at Ranma as she finally released her. She laid a hand on Ranma's shoulder; she decided it was her duty to provide a mother's guidance until the girl's mother was found. "Well, while you're here, you can consider yourself family."
Minako smiled. "I already consider her family."
Usagi fumed in jealousy; she was still Ranma's fiancée. Minako was going to get a piece of her mind later.
Ranma completely missed the innuendo.
Amai continued, "Maybe we could all go to the hot springs after you get out of school tomorrow." She and Minako occasionally took advantage of the half-day of school on Saturday by going to the Koshino-yu onsen, unless Minako was out with her friends.
Minako and Usagi would have fallen had they not already been seated. Minako looked at her mom. "I think Usagi and Ranko already have plans." She waved at Usagi behind her back desperately.
Usagi looked blank for a moment, then got the hint. "Oh! Yeah - Ranko and I had planned - um - to go shopping! Yeah. See, Ranko still doesn't have much in the way of clothes after her trip, and they're mostly boy's clothes."
Ranma turned pale as she saw where this was headed.
Amai stood up and headed back to the utility room. "That reminds me. Your clothes should be dry." She came back a few moments later; she handed Usagi her clothes, but frowned at Ranma. "Ranko dear? I'm afraid your clothes shrunk." She held out what appeared to be an outfit for a five year-old. "I'm terribly sorry. This has never happened before."
Ranma groaned. "Now what am I gonna wear?"
Minako thought about it a moment. "I have a few things. Come on back to my room." She grabbed Ranma's arm and started dragging her away.
A few minutes later, everyone was gathered to render judgment over their choice of clothes. Ranma was dressed in a baggy mauve blouse that could almost pass for a shirt, and soft peach pants which were rolled up at the cuffs.
Minako's mom gave her opinion as Ranma turned slowly around. "Oh! That is so cute! It's probably a blessing in disguise, your clothes shrinking like that; it gave me a wonderful idea! I know Minako has no plans this weekend, so we can all go help Ranko pick out something that'll make her look pretty."
Usagi squealed in excitement. "Isn't that wonderful Ranko?! I have some great ideas!"
Ranma paled as Usagi hopped around the room.
Amai turned the pallid girl to face her. "You'll feel more feminine in something that isn't so drab." And in the proper undergarments, she added silently. If she ever caught Minako running around without a brassiere and wearing boxers... the poor girl's mother would have fit it she met her daughter the way she was right now. Maybe that was why her father refused to speak on the matter. She pulled the girl into a hug; Ranma settled for glaring daggers at Minako and Usagi over the woman's shoulder.
Ranma followed Usagi stiffly through the front door of her house.
Genma eyed his son. "What in the hell are you wearing boy?!" While baggy on his female form, the mauve blouse was skin tight on his male form. The pants weren't much better. "You look like a fruit!"
Usagi grabbed Ranma before he could give his father a well deserved beating. "It's the latest fashion. I think he looks great!" She dragged him up the stairs.
"Well," Kenji commented, "they certainly must be warming up to each other if he's following Usagi's recommendations on clothes." Heaven knows, he wouldn't. Just look at that outfit!
"Hmm," Genma began, mulling that over. "I knew I could count on the boy! Takes after his father!"
"I hope not," Kenji mumbled too low for Genma to catch.
Genma turned to the other man. "So, when do you think we can set a date for them?"
Kenji frowned. "I'd rather they got to know each other better before we decide on that."
Ranma was still fuming as they climbed the stairs, but returned to the more important topic before he forgot about it. "Just how do you plan to deal with the clothes we get tomorrow? I just can't walk into your place with an armful of girl's clothes."
Usagi didn't bat an eye. "Sure you can. Tomorrow, you'll just be another friend from school bringing over some of your new clothes for us to check out. We'll spend some time in my room, then leave and come back after you get some hot water."
Ranma looked at Usagi in a new light. That was about the smartest thing Usagi had done since they met. It almost made up for making him go on a shopping spree for girl's clothes in the first place. He sighed. "Usagi? Did you have to say shopping when you made up plans for us? Why couldn't you have picked anything else besides shopping?"
Usagi looked puzzled. "I like to shop. I had to pick something Minako's mom would believe."
Naturally, he thought to himself. Tomorrow was going to be a long day.
Ranma grumbled as she followed Usagi to Minako's house. They had changed clothes after school, then stopped at the park so Ranma could use the fountain to change. They would meet at Minako's, then the four women would head off for as much shopping as they could pack into an afternoon.
Minako and her mom met them at their door. Minako and Usagi immediately starting discussing where to go first while Mrs. Aino looked over Ranko. Where the other three were wearing dresses with long skirts and a light jacket, Ranma wore her favorite black ankle-tie pants and a red Chinese shirt.
Amai shook her head. "Ranko, you're not wearing a brassiere again. With your figure, you really need one or you could wind up with back problems." And boy problems, she added silently.
Ranma waved off that idea. "I've spent too much time trainin' for that to happen."
She frowned at the girl. She knew what would be their first stop.
"Here we are girls! Our first stop." Amai halted outside a lingerie shop. A sign in one window proclaimed the fact that they carried Triumph International, a rather popular brand. She hurried the girls into the shop.
Ranma sighed as she confronted the racks of intimate apparel. Usagi smiled; this time, she could tease - uh - help Ranma pick out a few things without said help being taken the wrong way.
A clerk scurried over. "Can I help you?" She looked over the small group; her gaze lingered on Ranma before moving to Mrs. Aino.
"Yes, the young lady," Amai gestured to Ranma, "needs a few basic items. After that, we'll see what else she might fancy."
The clerk turned back to the short red-head. The look she received left her no doubt that she'd be earning her pay today. The girl had that look; the one that said 'just see if you find something I'll tolerate.' She sighed and hustled the group back to the changing rooms. She pulled a measuring tape from a pocket and looked expectantly at Ranma.
Usagi noticed Ranma's lack of understanding. "Ranko, you need to get undressed so she can take your measurements."
Ranma turned red. "What?! I can't stand here naked in front of you guys! I'm a -" She bit off the end of that reply. "I'm a - a - just a bit shy."
The clerk looked at the others.
Minako took a deep breath and said, "She's been on the road most all her life with just her father."
"Ahhhh!" The clerk acted like that explained everything. She turned back to Ranma. "No need to be shy, Miss. The changing rooms are private and it's just us girls here. It's not even as bad as the girl's locker room at school." She blinked as the girl turned even more red. She shook her head; she always got the hard cases.
Mrs. Aino gave Ranma a hard stare. "Ranko, we're here to help. No one is going to judge you; we aren't going to say anything to embarrass you."
"Much," Usagi mumbled.
Amai gave the girl a penetrating look; Usagi tried for her best look of innocence. "Now we can't get you any other clothes until you have the proper undergarments. You can make this easy or hard, but we aren't leaving until you are properly attired."
Ranma gave up and started to remove her clothes, grumbling under her breath. She was beet red from head to toe as she removed her boxers.
Usagi just stared. She felt like crying; Ranma wasn't even a real girl and still had a figure Usagi would have killed for.
The clerk looked in disgust at the boxers. The girl's father must be an idiot, she decided. He should be locked up for the way he raised the girl. She tried to hurry and not upset the girl too badly as she got her measurements. That accomplished, her three companions moved back into the store to pick out a few items. After some debate, they settled for a few plain white panties and bras. They could always pick out a couple more items discretely.
Ranma had no trouble with the panties... after the other women pointed out that the tag went to the rear, but Usagi nearly laughed at her attempts to fasten the brassiere. Ranma glared at Usagi as she choked back a few giggles. Minako's mom sighed and moved in to help the girl.
Ranma stood mortified in the plain undergarments. "Are we done yet?"
Usagi gave her an innocent look. "But Ranko, don't you want a few pretty items? A nice lacy black bra and panty?"
Amai didn't notice the glare Ranma gave Usagi. "Yes, that's a good idea Usagi. She'll need something in case she wears a formal gown."
"What?!" Ranma looked distraught.
Amai explained to the girl. "I know you're new to all this, Ranko. You can't wear white underwear under a black silk gown, for example. It would show through the material. We'll need to get you a few sets of undergarments in different colors or we won't be able to get you a gown in those colors later."
Ranma muttered under her breath. "Good."
Amai looked over at the girl. "What dear?"
Ranma spoke a little louder, her voice so sweet, the clerk could feel cavities forming. "Isn't this a little too much? You really don't need to go to all this trouble."
While The Voice worked on teenage male food vendors, the older woman was immune to such attacks. "Nonsense! It's the least I can do after the other day."
Ranma groaned as she looked over the offensive undergarments. "Where's Happosai when you need him..."
That was when the screams of outrage drifted back through the store. The other women ran out of the changing room as Ranma looked up and clapped twice, then threw on her shirt and pants.
Usagi and Minako dashed out of the changing rooms with a feeling of dread. It had been too peaceful lately. What horrible menace would they be facing this time? They looked for the trouble with an eye toward dashing back to the changing rooms if they needed to transform. The trouble wasn't hard to spot, just hard to believe - a midget in a black ninja outfit leapt about the store with a bag that dwarfed his body.
"What a haul! What a haul!" The diminutive martial artist spotted the girls. "Sweet-ums!"
Usagi looked in horror at the figure nestled to her chest.
The figure bounced away. "Bah! I'll get back to you when you graduate from a training bra." He turned towards Minako, who started to back pedal.
Usagi was seeing red. "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! HOW DARE YOU!!! YOU LITTLE PERVERTED FREAK!!!" It was bad enough the pervert groped her, but to say that? She might have been small in junior high, but she was proud of her figure now. If she wasn't in a room full of people, she'd transform on the spot.
Ranma heard Usagi as she entered the room. She intercepted the old man as he leapt towards Minako. "Happosai." She looked at the old pervert as she held him at arms length.
Happosai looked at Ranma with an angry expression that melted away as he realized what she was wearing. "Ranma! You wore that for me? I accept your apology." He was out of the girl's grasp and into her cleavage in an instant.
Ranma froze in shock. Oh yeah, she thought. That's why I don't like him bein' around.
Happosai leapt away waving the plain white brassiere before she could get her composure back.
Usagi and Ranma joined the crowd of women chasing the old pervert as he left the shop. Amai stopped her daughter before she could join them.
"We have Ranko's measurements and know how that last pair fit. Let's pick out a few things while we have the chance before catching up with your friends."
Minako stared after the rapidly dwindling figures, torn between joining the angry mob and obeying her mother Finally, she nodded. She was certain that Ranma would make a fuss if she were there. Best to get this part over with now. She smiled as she thought of how Ranma might thank her for sparing the boy any further humiliation.
A pair of bedraggled girls walked back toward the lingerie shop. Ranma gave Usagi a brief look.
"Well, that was a waste a time."
Usagi breathed an exasperated sigh. "It seems we can't go shopping without being subjected to extreme embarrassment."
Ranma eyed her appraisingly. "Ready to call it quits?"
Usagi thought about it a moment, then shook her head. "Look at it this way, it can't get any worse."
Ranma shook her head. Usagi needed to learn not to say such things; it was just begging some passing kami to make an example of the offender. "Don't say that! The old lech could still be around. You know, you probably coulda caught him if you'd changed into Sailor Moon."
Usagi flinched violently. She turned and swatted Ranma on the back of the head. "Idiot! Why didn't you say something earlier?!"
Ranma groaned. It was the story of her life - blamed for something for which she couldn't possibly be responsible. She gave Usagi a disgusted look. "I'm not a magical girl." She thought about it a second. "Well, actually, I do turn into a girl through magic, so that sorta makes me a magical girl. But I don't fight demons! Well, actually, I have fought an oni and a minor demon or two."
Usagi thought about it a moment. "You don't have magic powers?"
Ranma thought about that, than shook her head. "I can leap a over a small building and crush rocks... to most folks, that'd be like magic."
Usagi nodded. "Yeah, probably. How about, you don't fight for Love and Justice?"
"Well, I don't know about love, but I'd like to think I fight for justice. I know some folks that only fight for revenge; I don't wanna end up like that."
Usagi brightened. "I got it! You don't get a cool outfit when you change! You're stuck in these things." She wrinkled her nose as she poked at Ranma's Chinese shirt. After all the running and fighting they had done, it was somewhat the worse for wear.
Ranma shuddered as she remembered the outfit Usagi had been wearing when she changed in the park. "Ooookay. I'll give you that one."
Usagi frowned. "Hey! What's wrong with my Sailor Moon outfit?!"
Ranma thought a moment before answering. "Well, it just don't seem right for the occasion. I've had to wear somethin' similar when I fought inna Martial Arts Ice Skating challenge, although I'd like to think my outfit had more style." She shook her head. "You wear those awful colors, and you don't even have anythin' like an embroidered dragon or somethin' on it." She flicked her pig-tail back negligently. "Besides, that's ice skating." She wriggled her fingers menacingly. "I wouldn't face down a demon with tentacles and what-not wearin' anythin' even close to that!"
Ranma cut off Usagi before she could reply as she noticed the rest of their party. "Look. There's Minako and her mom."
The pair approached carrying their purchases. Minako waved to the girls.
"Hey! What happened with the old pervert?"
Usagi looked disgusted. "He got away. I swear, if I run into him again, he's dead!"
Mrs. Aino shook her head. "Don't let people like that get to you, Usagi." She turned to Ranma. "We got you another bra to replace the one that old man took, Ranko. We'll stop at a public restroom so you can put it on." And quickly, she thought. It was bad enough the girl wasn't wearing a bra, but in the shape her shirt was now, she bordered on scandalous.
Ranma groaned. Losing the bra had been the only good thing that happened the whole afternoon.
Minako gave Ranma a sympathetic look. "So who was that anyway?"
Ranma gave a look of disgust. "That was Master Happosai, my pop's sensei." She snorted. "Hard to believe, but the old lecher is the grandmaster of the school a martial arts I study. I think he developed the school just to molest women."
Minako looked outraged. "Then why hasn't anyone stopped him?"
"'Cause the old pervert's too good! He may be old, but he's fast and takes a lotta punishment. Pop and his friend tried sealing him inna cave with dynamite for a decade." She shook her head. "You ain't gonna stop him without a whole lotta firepower behind you."
Minako shared a look with Usagi. They nodded in agreement. One more thing for the Sailor Senshi to take care of; they'd try Sailor Moon's healing spell... after a good magical beating of course. They were the protectors of Love and Justice, after all.
Sayuri nudged Yuka as the girl went through a rack of half-price dresses. "Is that who I think it is over there?"
Yuka looked the way her friend indicated. A red-head had stepped from the changing room. She wore a green evening gown that contrasted nicely with her hair. Then Yuka finally made the connection. "Is that Ranma? What's he doing in a dress? In that dress?"
Sayuri nodded. "And you can tell that he's not wearing boxers under that dress." She gave the other girl a worried look. "You don't think that fight with Akane drove him to..." She couldn't finish that thought.
Yuka looked back and forth between her friend and where Ranma was - reluctantly - showing off the dress to a woman and two other girls. "Oh, what are we going to tell Akane when we meet for ice cream tomorrow?"
Ranma shivered as she and Usagi carried the packages up to the house. At least she was out of those frilly, lacy undergarments they made her wear beneath those dresses; thank goodness she was back in normal underwear. Then she groaned to think that she was feeling happy about wearing female undergarments at all. She turned to thank Minako and her mother.
"Good-bye Minako, Mrs. Aino. Thanks for everything." She tried to smile pleasantly.
Amai smiled back. "You're welcome Ranko, and call me Auntie Amai. Try to watch your language. We'll have to have you over for dinner some time."
Minako gave Ranma a hug, then backed off when her mother started to look at her strangely. "Yeah. See you both later."
Usagi waved to her friend and her mother. "It was fun! We'll have to do this again." She turned to Ranma. "Ranko? Aren't you going to thank me for helping you pick out your clothes?"
Ranma gritted her teeth and looked between Usagi and where Minako and her mother waited to hear her reply. "Usagi, I don't know when, and I don't know how, but I will find a way to thank you properly."
Minako and Amai waved again and walked off back toward their home. Usagi looked at Ranma and laughed nervously.
The pair entered the house. Usagi called out a greeting. "We're home!"
Ikuko and Genma entered the living room. Genma fell over as he saw his son. It was easy to tell through the shredded shirt that Ranma was wearing a bra.
Ikuko gasped in concern. "Who is your friend, Usagi? Is she all right? It looks like she's been in a fight!"
Usagi pulled Ranma up beside her. "This is Ranko, a new friend from school. She's fine; we're just going up to my room for a bit." She started dragging the inert girl up the stairs.
Her mother frowned a little. "Where's Ranma?"
Usagi looked to where Genma was waving behind her mother and making frantic gestures. "Oh, I think he's at the arcade still. He said he'd be in before dinner."
Genma moved off looking relieved as Ikuko nodded and headed back for the kitchen. He cast his son a look that promised trouble when they sparred later.
In an ice cream shop in Juban, Usagi and Ranma sat across from Ami and Shingo. Ranma smiled slightly. It hadn't been any trouble at all getting Shingo to accompany them or to sit next to the older girl; the boy was clearly smitten. Usagi had a huge sundae in front of her.
In an ice cream shop in Nerima, Akane sat across from her friends Yuka and Sayuri. Akane had a sundae in front of her that was nearly melted; she hadn't the heart to eat such things lately.
In an ice cream shop in the more expensive part of Nerima, Nabiki sat opposite Kuno. Nabiki had a large sundae in front of her and slowly ate it as she let him simmer. She smiled wickedly.
Ranma gave Ami a hopeful look. "Do you really think you can locate my mom?"
Ami tried not to raise his hopes prematurely. "Maybe. I don't exactly have a lot to work from, and many records that old have not yet been computerized."
Akane gave her friends a hopeful look. "Did you really see Ranma yesterday? Is - is he okay?"
Sayuri and Yuka glanced at each other; best not to get her hopes up too much. "Well, yes, but he was in his girl-form. As to okay... he was wearing a dress."
Kuno gave Nabiki a piercing glare. "You have consumed the specified quantity of confections. Now, tell me what I wish to know."
Nabiki rolled her eyes. He better not get his hopes up if he wasn't willing to pay. "I may have found where the pig-tailed girl has gone... for a price."
Shingo looked angry. "I can't believe your dad won't tell you about your mom. What a butt-head."
Ami frowned at the boy. "Shingo! You shouldn't talk about others that way." She noticed Ranma and Usagi's looks. "Even if it happens to be true."
Sayuri looked irritated. "I don't see why you're still moping over that jerk, Akane. You're much better off without him."
Akane frowned at her friend. "Sayuri! Don't talk about Ranma that way." She noticed the looks her friends gave her. "Besides, if - if I don't have Ranma, what else is there left me?"
Yuka tried to be positive. "There's Kuno!"
Sayuri nodded. "Or Gosunkugi!"
Akane glared at her friends.
Kuno looked desperate. "I must know where my pig-tailed goddess has fled. I'll pay anything!" He laid five thousand yen on the table.
Nabiki frowned at the insane kendoist. "You'll have to do better than that, Kuno-baby."
Ami studied her notepad. "Hmm. Okay, I have you and your father's names and birthdays. I should also be able to get more from your school records." She looked at Ranma. "Meet me after school. We'll go to the office and ask to see your file. You need to be there to give permission for someone else to see your records."
Ranma nodded. "After school tomorrow then."
Shingo gave him a smile. "I hope you find your mom. I'd hate not being able to see my mom for so long." Usagi just nodded her agreement, being too consumed in consuming her sundae to speak.
Sayuri studied her friend. "Well, he's in Juban. You might leave early tomorrow and head over to Juuban High. You can probably catch him as he leaves."
Akane nodded. "After school tomorrow then."
Yuka gave her a smile. "I hope things work out for you Akane. You've really been depressed lately. I know I'd be depressed if I were missing my True Love." Her smile turned silly and her eyes glazed over as her two friends stared at her and shook their heads.
Nabiki studied the pile of money. Kuno added another five thousand, bringing the total up to twenty five thousand. "Hmm. Okay, she's in Juban. If you leave school early tomorrow, you should be able to catch her as she leaves Juuban High."
Kuno jumped up and raised his bokken aloft. "After school tomorrow then. The pig-tailed girl and I shall meet once more, and then we shall date!"
Nabiki tried not to choke on her sundae. "Well Kuno-baby, I hope you find her. I hear Ranma was in the area as well. I know I'd hate to see you lose the pig-tailed girl to him." She shook her head as Kuno yelled and ran out the door; maybe the jerk would transfer and make everyone's life easier.
And so ends Part 2 of Wild Horses and Rabbits Don't Mix. Next time, showdown at Juuban High. Who will be left standing? Will the school be left standing? How will Minako react to the competition? Or vice-versa?
Author's notes: I know that Genma hasn't changed yet, at least not to anyone's knowledge. Just think of it as more of Ranma's bad luck. Yes, Koshino-yu onsen is a real hotspring in Juban. Yes, Triumph International is a real Japanese manufacturer of lingerie. Who knew Ryoga was a Sailor-V otaku? Maybe he saw her in England, or Greece, or China... there's a side story for another time. Ranma hasn't met his mother yet in either form; remember, Nodoka doesn't enter the story until after New Years in the normal Ranma universe. Given the way this story is going, it'll be sooner here. I haven't seen any hint of the names of Minako's parents, so I just made her mother's name Amai, which means indulgent. The idol Pandora was in Sailor-V, volume 3; the evil Hawaiians were in volume 7, and the karaoke battle was in volume 14, for those who just have to know.