Warning: This is not a complete chapter. This is only being uploaded for the purposes of documentation. Do not read this unless you are interested in seeing part of my editing process. The true chapter six, along with rewritten versions of the previous chapters, has been uploaded in a new story called Ain't No Rest For The Wicked Draft 2. This story shall be renamed Ain't No Rest For The Wicked Draft 1. Again, please do not read this if you want to read chapter six. Go to Ain't No Rest For The Wicked Draft 2 to read chapter six and the rewritten previous chapters.
Hiruzen Sarutobi, third Hokage of Konoha, was old. Too old. The weight of his responsibilities bore down on him heavier each day. Today it was particularly prevalent. Eyes lidded, mouth working his pipe, he examined the three men before him.
Hiashi Hyuuga. Jounin and head of the Hyuuga clan. Master of the Byakugan.
Inoichi Yamanaka. Jounin and head of the Yamanaka clan. Master telepath.
Kakashi Hatake. Jounin and head of Team Seven. Master of the Sharingan.
Each had something he rather fervently hoped he wouldn't need, but he hadn't lived as long as he had by waiting for disaster to strike.
"Hokage, if I may ask, what business could require you to call the three of us together?" Ah, Hiashi. Always to the point.
He chewed his pipe for a moment longer, then answered. "I've called you here because I have reason to believe … that certain forces within Konoha have committed treason." That took them aback. "I have evidence of illegal summonings taking place in a small, unoccupied residence."
"So. You want us to investigate this summoning."
Sarutobi turned to Kakashi. "Not quite. We've already identified the culprits responsible. The problem lies therein. The perpetrators have no recollection of performing any summons at the site. As near as we can tell, their memories have very selectively been erased."
Inoichi spoke up."A higher up covering his tracks?"
"Not unless Danzo Shimura's ambition has lessened greatly since I've known him."
That got their attention. Danzo, head of Root, guilty of a treasonable act?
Inoichi stirred uncomfortably. "If it isn't that, what could it be?"
Sarutobi gravely answered. "I believe that Danzo and his associates have summoned … a kami."
It's funny how things change.
One moment your feet are firmly planted on the ground, the next- well, your whole world has been turned upside down.
Or maybe you thought you knew someone, and one thing changed your entire perspective about them. Like a sensei who—for a moment—appeared almost human, just to crush your perception into tiny pieces—
—along with your ribcage.
But perhaps we're getting ahead of ourselves.
"You have the nine-tails sealed in your belly!"
Sakura was distraught. Combined with Ranma sensei's cryptic aside about foxes, she had taken some time to research Naruto. More specifically, She'd researched the Uzumaki clan. What she found had floored her.
It had been shocking enough to find that the clan had a bloodline, that being superb healing and massive chakra reserves, but it had explained too much about the idiot to doubt. It was the other fact about the Uzumaki clan that she couldn't wrap her mind around. Uzumaki were well known for their superior use as Jinchuriki, hosts to the massive tailed beasts. More importantly, they were one of very few who could contain the nine-tailed fox, and had held that responsibility for several centuries. With the nine-tails attack happening thirteen years ago then disappearing, it didn't take a Nara to figure out the rest.
Naruto did a spit take at Sakura's proclamation. "Wh-what!?" Sasuke actually looked up from where she was practicing, curious.
Sakura ignored them to continue ranting. "Oh my god. I can't believe this. It's true isn't it!?"
Naruto, for his part, didn't know what to say. "S-Sakura. It- it's not like that-"
"Finally figured it out did ya? Only took nearly a month. Good job, brainiac."
Whirling on Ranma, Sakura jabbed her finger at her. "You knew this!"
Snorting, Ranma answered. "Well duh. Everybody does. Like I told you, ain't hard to figure out. Oh, and you're late. Gonna have to work you twice as hard to make up."
Sakura's lip trembled a little at the threat, but she persevered. "B-but the nine-tails? What if it escapes?"
Ranma paused and gave Sakura a long look. "So what you're saying is you don't trust Naruto, right?"
"S-Sakura." Naruto looked devastated.
Suddenly, Ranma got a foreboding look on her face. Sakura couldn't help shivering. That look never boded well. "Well, in that case, I guess we'll just have ta put it someplace ya do trust."
What? "Wh-what do you mean?" She really didn't want to know. She really didn't want to know.
An evil grin was her answer. "I'll just take it outta 'Ruto … and stick it in you."
It took her brain a full five seconds to catch up to that. "What!? Y-you can't do that!" The idea of having that thing in her was terrifying. It would kill her!
"Sure I can." Smiling cheerfully, Ranma waved Naruto forward. "People here do this all the time. Can't be that hard."
"N-no! I- I-" Sakura turned to run, but just as she did a firm hand clasped her shoulder. She looked teary eyed at Naruto as Ranma marched her toward him. "P-please. Don't."
"S-sensei." Naruto spoke up. "It- It's okay. I don't…"
"Nope. You guys are a team. Can't have you not trusting each other." She shoved Sakura forward into Naruto, sending them tumbling.
Sakura was sobbing by this point, holding desperately onto Naruto for support. "I- I hate you!"
Ranma seemed unfazed. "Hate me? Huh. Hey 'Ruto, you hate Pinky here?"
"Wh- no? Why would I-"
"Even though she wants to make you keep the nine-tails? Even though she says she doesn't trust you? Even though half the village hates you for somethin' ya didn't do?"
Sakura was staring wide-eyed at Naruto. Of course he had to hate her. She was miserable to him. Learning his secret had only worsened that.
"It- that's different. It isn't the same thing."
"Sure it is. You didn't ask to have that stupid thing in ya. Maybe it's somebody else's turn ta have a sucky life."
"No! Sakura doesn't deserve that!"
"Really?" Naruto shook his head furiously. Ranma looked insufferably pleased. "So. Ya get it yet, Pinky?"
For a moment Sakura just looked back and forth. Then she flushed and nodded dumbly.
"Good. So what do ya have ta say?"
Staring into Naruto's eyes, Sakura hesitantly said, "I- I'm sorry, Naruto."
Naruto was confused. "Sorry for what?"
Sakura studied him for a moment, then smiled through her tears. "Don't worry about it Naruto. Just … I'm sorry, okay?"
"Y-yeah. Sure." What had changed?
Ranma started rubbing her hands together. "Great. Now that that's outta the way, we can get ta business. Unless you got anythin' ta add Sas'?"
The girl in question merely shrugged.
"Heh, since we're getting a late start thanks to Pinky, I'll have ta run you guys twice as hard today. In fact, I think it's time we had our first practical application here."
"Wh-what do you mean?" Please don't answer, Sakura thought.
Ranma grinned. Then she said the three words they would come to hate. "Free for all."
The rules had been simple. No teaming up. Instead each had a target. Naruto to Sakura; Sakura to Sasuke; Sasuke to Naruto. You fought till you were tagged, a tag being one good, solid hit. Hitting their target was worth double points. Whoever got tagged the most during the training 'won' more training time with their sensei. Ranma herself would be running 'interference' to make sure their training was 'successful', whatever that meant.
So it was that Sakura found herself hiding in a tree, desperately trying to think of a way to not get tagged the most and failing miserably. Even dead last had better physical scores than she had! This was going to be a nightmare.
Calming herself, she reached out with her senses and pulled in some natural ki. What at first had only been a trickle was now a solid stream. She immediately set about separating it into its more useful form. She was going to need it.
Hah! We're going to get ta kick sissy boy's ass!
Shut up! She mentally scolded herself. This isn't the time! Ever since that night, she had had trouble controlling her inner thoughts. It was almost like there were two of her, fighting for control. Thankfully, that was just nonsense.
A Naruto ran past her tree, obviously searching for her. Hmm, sensei had said that tagging a clone was the same as tagging the original. But if she struck now, Naruto would know where she was and close in on her. No, her best bet was to stay hidden and hope for the best. If Naruto took on Sasuke he'd get creamed and that would be that. Naruto would be her virgin sacrifice and she wouldn't have to lift a finger.
Shut up! She scolded herself. Acting without thought would serve no purpose. She had to stay in control. It was then that she noticed that Sasuke had found her target.
A hail of shuriken homed in on the hapless clone, if it was a clone. The clone detected the flurry of movement and quickly dodged, ducking into the brush directly underneath where Sakura was hiding. Before Sakura could even blink, Naruto shimmied up the tree and onto the branch she was perched on. For a moment they just stared at each other. Then Naruto opened his fat mouth.
Before he could give her away, Sakura lunged for him and put him in a sleeper hold. "Shut up, you dunce," she hissed. Naruto was completely taken aback by her vehemence. He started to struggle, so, before he could wriggle free Sakura reached out with her new sense and … sucked. It was different from when Naruto had willingly given his chakra before. There was a brief almost barrier to her effort, then a steady stream of chakra flooded her system. The clone popped.
Before Sakura could celebrate, Sasuke's voice carried up through the underbrush. "I know you're up there. Come down."
Sakura silently cursed her rotten luck. Hesitantly, she leaned around the tree trunk. There was Sasuke, arms crossed, looking expectantly at her. She jumped down and stood there, feeling ever more foolish. For a moment Sasuke just studied her. Then she snorted and turned from her, placidly walking away.
Briefly, Sakura was left flabbergasted. Then a rush of irrational anger overcame her. How dare he dismiss her like that! Turn his back on her like … like she was no threat at all! It was insulting! Infuriating!
Hands drawn into fists and trembling with anger, she slowly raised her arm and pointed. "Where the hell do you think you're going!" Sasuke halted mid stride. She turned her head slightly, looking at her from the corner of her eye. An eye that possessed the Sharingan, two tomoe spinning slowly. For a moment Sakura felt a brief bout of uncertainty, before it was washed away in a fit of pique. She would show him!
Drawing back her hands, she calmly said, "Hey, Sasuke? Catch." She flung a single kunai. It sailed through the air straight at her head, but instead of jumping out of the way, Sasuke merely leaned to the side.
Sasuke almost didn't catch it in time. A slight hissing sound. Her eyes widened fractionally before sending a pulse of chakra to her legs and leaping away. And just in time. Boom! The explosive tag loosed its contained fury on the spot that Sasuke had only moments before occupied. Now Sasuke turned her full attention on Sakura. That had been … surprising. But it shouldn't have been, she admonished herself. Explosive notes were Sakura's favorite force multiplier. Low in chakra demand, high in output.
Sasuke moved in on Sakura. Sakura's greatest advantage was range. Closing the distance would force her to rely on weak taijutsu skills, giving the advantage to Sasuke. She only made it a few meters before Sakura backpedaled, and only as far as where Sakura had previously been when she heard a familiar hiss again. Leap! Her senses screamed at her. Sasuke was in the air when the tag went off and she used the force of the explosion to direct her toward a nearby tree. She set down for only a moment when hiss! She was off the tree and on to the next, but it was to no avail, another lay waiting for her.
"Ha!" She heard Sakura call. "Did you think I was stupid!? I've covered this area with tags! You're not getting away that easily!"
Sakura … bragging? She had to know that she was giving away a tactical edge by admitting that. Something had changed in Sakura after that fateful night three weeks ago. She was more … confident. Not that she had ever lacked in confidence, but she'd never bragged about her skills before. Certainly, Sakura would never have challenged her in such a direct manner before. It was suspicious. It had to be sensei having that effect on her.
Sasuke had put her body on automatic, her eyes picking up the traces of chakra before a tag exploded giving her plenty of time to dodge even preoccupied as she was. Finally, she landed somewhere and no flashes of chakra portended her doom. She smirked and turned on Sakura who was right behind her. "You've run out." She only had a split second to register the predatory look on Sakura's face when-
Sasuke was thrown clear by a massive explosion. "Sasuke!" She heard Sakura's shrill shriek behind her. She crashed into a tree and rebounded, bouncing off the ground once, twice, three times. She moaned pitifully.
Sakura came rushing up. "Oh my god, Sasuke! I didn't mean it! I just thought you couldn't see it if I used ki instead of chakra! It was supposed to be just a little one! I barely used any ki at all!"
Suddenly, Ranma was there. "You okay there Sas'?"
Slowly, Sasuke lifted her head, then gave a brief nod. She pushed off the ground and stood unsteadily.
"Pinky, I told you that using ki instead of chakra is dangerous if you don't practice first. Remember what I told Naruto," Ranma admonished. Wide eyed, Sakura nodded. Ranma turned back to Sasuke. "Looks like your eyes have a weakness. From now on I'll have you train to blind-fight."
Sasuke nodded again, then grunted in pain. "Not yet, right?" Ranma nodded. "Good. Sakura. Fight me."
"You heard me." Sasuke was resolute, despite the pain.
"B-but, but you're injured!" Sakura looked near to tears.
Ranma rolled her eyes. "Pinky, do what Sas' says and don't complain. If you don't you're getting' my extra trainin' by default."
Sakura's lip trembled, but she nodded. She drew a tag laden kunai and stood ready.
Sasuke leaped backward, giving some room between them. It was the exact opposite of what she should have done, but she could tell that if she didn't give Sakura breathing room to see that she was okay she would be less than useless as a sparring partner. That ki tag Sakura had used had taken her by surprise. She hadn't detected it at all with her Sharingan. That was a hole in her defenses that had to be filled immediately. But first, revenge.
Several exchanges later, it was becoming obvious that Sakura's heart wasn't in it. Sighing in frustration, Sasuke sent a tagged kunai at a tree near Sakura. The resulting explosion sent large pieces of shrapnel flying Sakura's way. It wouldn't hit her, but…
Flashing in, replacing the slivers of trunk with her body, Sasuke twisted and leveled a punch at Sakura's torso. It connected solidly, expelling the air from her lungs. Sakura's eyes watered. "Sas … ke." she whispered, then collapsed. Shaking her head, Sasuke stood.
"Hey! I saw that, you bastard!" Naruto. Looked like he wanted to defend Sakura's honor. Sasuke lifted her eyes, meeting Naruto's enraged ones. Finally, a worthwhile spar. Grinning, she leapt at Naruto.
"Oo-oh." Sakura painfully returned to consciousness. She briefly wondered what had happened. Then she remembered. She'd blown Sasuke up. Then been challenged in turn. Then been knocked into unconsciousness in one blow. How humiliating.
She sat up painfully and looked around. Sasuke was nearby, training as usual. This time though, she had a blindfold on. She stood in front of a fire, trying to grab nuts out of the blaze. It was insane, and she'd refused to take part in it when their sensei had explained the training to them, but Sasuke had taken to it with a fervor that, frankly, scared her.
Naruto sat on a nearby rock, meditating. Or trying to as the grumpy look on his face attested. Sensei had called it the Soul of Ice, a technique that suppressed the emotions of the user. What it was supposed to be good for, Ranma wouldn't say, but it was probably something devious.
It was then that she laid eyes on Ranma, and her blood ran cold. Ranma was looking at her. Looking at her and … smiling. Sakura felt a shudder go through her. She briefly considered running away, but knew it was useless.
Ranma approached her. "Well, well. Looks like sleepin' beauty is up!" Sakura didn't get the reference, but she took offense just the same. Not that she did anything about it. "Guess who lost the match, eh beauty?"
"Me." Sakura groused. Ranma sensei didn't have to rub it in.
"Got it in one! So, guess what kinda trainin' I got in mind for ya?"
Sakura looked warily into her sensei's eyes. "Dodging?" she asked.
"Hah! That's a good one. Naw, we're gonna train you in a body hardening exercise I know."
Ranma looked too insufferably pleased with herself for Sakura to relax, but the body hardening exercises she had heard of… "You mean you're going to teach me how to send chakra into my skin to protect myself from incoming hits?" She asked, almost hopefully.
"Nope. I'm gonna chuck rocks at ya until you get tougher."
Ranma took out a rock the size of her head. That was when Sakura started running. It took a full hour before she realized the screaming she was hearing was her own.
"I'm telling you, Anko, the girl's a natural." Tsume was sitting in her house, sipping tea with her friend Special Jounin Anko Mitarashi.
Anko was a svelte young woman of twenty-two. She had a fondness for fishnet and dango that bordered on the obscene. She currently had a dango on a stick, nibbling it as she listened to Tsume go on and on about some girl she'd found. It was somewhat boring. "So? She's a natural. So what? What are you planning on doing about it? And don't give me that innocent look. I know you're planning something."
Tsume smirked, then collapsed back into her chair with a frown and a huff. "I was planning on hooking her up with one of the clan's boys, but it hasn't worked so far. I've waltzed a dozen boys in front of her and…"
"Nothing?" Anko asked, vaguely curious.
Tsume grunted. "Worse than nothing. She's got every last one of them wrapped around her little finger. Even the taken ones! But every time they go to ask her out or something, she disappears! It's like she has some kind of thrice damned six sense for it! And now the boys are all fighting over her. Useless idiots."
"And Hana's been useless too. Won't help her mother at all. Just keeps feeding the kid more medical jutsu. Thinks it's 'funny'."
Anko smirked. "Are you sure the girl isn't just, you know." She waggled her hand.
"What, gay? I don't… Well, it doesn't… I don't think…" Tsume seemed to be caught flatfooted. "Crap. What if she is? That would throw a serious wrench in my plans."
"Well, there's always one way to find out," Anko said. Tsume raised an eyebrow. "Nothing like that. Get your mind out of the gutter. Take her to a bathhouse. All that naked female flesh in one place, bound to get a reaction." Tsume looked thoughtful, but unsure. "Tell you what, I'll even go with. All of this," she waved a hand over her body, "plus a little striptease. If that doesn't get a reaction, nothing will."
A resolute look came over Tsume's face. "Alright, then. Let's go over to the clinic. Ranma and Hana should be nearly finished with their shift."
"What, now?" Anko wasn't all that surprised. It was Tsume after all. But it did need clarifying.
"I need to find out now, before things get any more out of hand. If she is gay, I don't need her breaking all those boys' hearts for nothing."
"Why don't you just bring Hana along, too?" Anko suggested, somewhat naughtily. "If she is interested in girls, Hana's your best bet."
Tsume grinned cheekily. "Of course! What did you think I was going to do?"
"That's it Ranma. I think you've got it!" Hana was amazed. She'd spent the last four weeks training Ranma in every basic medical jutsu she could think of. Ranma had taken to it like a fish to water. Every technique Hana had given her she had picked up, sometimes within minutes of seeing it. It was … amazing. There was no other word for it.
They had started with a bevy of medical scans, each one more intricate than the last. At no point did Ranma seem to have trouble. Her control was perfect. Combined with her knowledge of anatomy, Ranma was soon the master of every one she was shown.
This had excited Hana enough that she took it to the next level, with basic healing jutsu, using the patients' own chakra to heal themselves. This had led to a rather startling discovery. Instead of learning the jutsu, as soon as she had seen it, Ranma declared it barbaric and refused to practice it. When asked why, Ranma had insisted that it was as good as killing the patient, shortening their life.
Stumped, Hana instead showed Ranma more advanced techniques that used the doctor's own chakra. Ranma had been okay with those, and had even proved to have a real flare for them.
Finally, as Hana ran out of basic and intermediate jutsu to show her, she introduced Ranma to seals, fuinjutsu. Normally the least popular of the schools of medicine, Ranma had actually been even more eager to learn it. Surprisingly, she was quite good at her penmanship. She mentioned she'd known a master at some point, explaining her ability.
It was on this that Hana was teaching her newest and most certainly brightest student. The renewal seal, a seal meant to bring life back into muscles, was a lightning based affinity. Ranma had shown no signs of having trouble. The look on her face when the dead fish they'd laid on top of the seal had begun to flop around of its own volition was one of fascination. Fascination and excitement.
Truthfully, Ranma was as surprised as Hana. So many of this land's techniques had blown up in her face when she'd tried them that she fully expected that here. Except it wasn't happening. Perhaps the jutsu that they used to influence the body were more like ki techniques than the others. Regardless, things were going swimmingly.
Hana stood over Ranma at the table, nodding approvingly. "Alright, now that you've got that down, we'll move on to more advanced techniques, such as affecting individual muscles."
Ranma smirked. "Bring it on." Normally Hana would find such braggadocio annoying, but in Ranma it was actually a little endearing.
Before Hana had a chance to answer, the door in the front of the building banged open and a voice called, "Hana!" Hana froze. That was her mother. Oh no, not another boy.
From Ranma's pained expression she was expecting it too. "She ever gonna give up?" Ranma whispered to her, sounding resigned. Hana winced.
It had been amusing at first, watching as Ranma flirted and toyed with the boys that Tsume brought in, but it soon became apparent that she had absolutely no interest in them. Then it just became painful seeing Ranma ducking their clumsy efforts at courtship. "I doubt it," she whispered back.
"Hana! You back there!?" The door slammed open—Tsume's calling card—and in walked her mother and Anko. Oh ancestors, this couldn't bode well. Whenever the two of them got together it was like Tsume became twice as bad. Anko was a terrible influence.
Anko must have seen the look Hana was giving her because she gave her a grin right back. "Hey there Hana. Been a while." Busy as she had been at the hospital, Hana hadn't been socializing much.
"Yeah. How are you doing?" Not that she wanted to know, but social niceties must be met.
"Just fine. Even better since your mom invited me to the bathhouse for a nice relaxing soak. We figured it'd be even nicer if we had extra company, so we came to pick you two up. Come on, her treat." The glare Tsume sent Anko's way gave lie to that. What was going on? They were obviously planning something, but what? It wasn't like they could throw boys at Ranma in the female only side of the bathhouse. Not without creating a much greater commotion than even those two would like. What were they thinking?
Suddenly, Ranma laughed nervously. "Ah, thanks but I don't think I-"
"Oh come on!" Tsume interjected. "You two've been cooped up in here for the past month doing nothing but studying those dusty old books and playing with fish." She ignored the twin glares sent her way. "Your shift is almost over anyway, relax a little."
Ranma seemed supremely uncomfortable for some reason. Why? There was a connection there. Tsume and Anko knew something, and Ranma was being tested. For what though? For the life of her, Hana couldn't figure it out. Regardless, from the looks she was getting from her mother, she had no choice but to play along with their little scheme. "Come on Ranma. A little soak would do us both some good. And since mom is paying it shouldn't be that big a deal for you." Oh yeah, the look on Tsume's face could kill. Well, tough. Hana was hardly going to spend her hard earned money on any of her mother's harebrained ideas.
Looping Ranma's arm in her own, Hana began dragging her out the door, pausing to give her mother a meaningful look. This better be worth it.
They chatted about nothing as they walked, taking the scenic route to the establishment. However, as they drew nearer their destination, Ranma began to look more and more resigned, as if she were being marched to her execution. It was bizarre. Tsume and Anko were obviously on to something.
They entered the bathhouse and promptly paid the clerk. It was still early yet for the evening crowd to come in so they mostly had the place to themselves.
As they walked in to the changing area, Anko suddenly got a devilish look on her face. She wrapped an arm around Ranma's shoulder and started talking conversationally. "So, I hear you've got all the boys wrapped around your little finger, eh?" Ranma gagged. "Hah! Don't be like that. I'm sure one of them will catch your eye. In fact, why don't I give you a few pointers."
This was their plan? Have Anko give her a pep talk? That wouldn't work at all!
But Anko wasn't finished. "Alright, first the sexy look." Anko gave Ranma a sultry stare, fluttering her eyelashes a little. Ranma looked like she'd been caught in front of a train. "Then, the bedroom voice." She lowered her voice a few octaves. "Of course, you've got to have the walk down." Anko sauntered around Ranma. "Then, the light touch." She feathered her fingers over Ranma's face, her shoulders, through her hair. Ranma looked close to hyperventilating. "Finally, when you have them where you want them, the striptease."
Hana did a spit-take. The what!?
Anko began to swerve back and forth. As she did so she slowly began removing her clothing in the most obscene show Hana had ever been subjected to. Finally, she slipped out of her mesh underclothes and stood before them stark naked. She turned and gave her butt a shake, then leaned in toward Ranma and whispered huskily, "So? What did you think?"
For a moment Ranma said nothing. A bit of blood seeped out of her nose. Then, "Nipples." Ranma's eyes rolled up into her head and she fainted dead away.
"Holy- what did you do to Ranma, you bitch!?" Hana exclaimed.
Anko ignored Hana and turned to Tsume, who was frowning. "Well, there's your answer."
Hana was hunched over Ranma trying to bring her back to consciousness. "Answer? What are you talking about!?"
It was Tsume who answered, frowning. "We had a feeling, since Ranma wasn't responding to the boys, that maybe she was … well, gay."
"And you thought the best way to find out was to perform a strip show!? What kind of jounin are you!?"
Anko grinned. "The sexy kind." Hana was not amused.
Tsume sighed. "Well, so much for that idea. Strip her down and bring her into the bath, Hana. I've got to think on this a while."
Sighing in frustration, Hana moved to follow her mother's orders, undressing herself and then Ranma and carrying her into the bath.
As she entered, her mother was deep in thought, absently scrubbing herself. Anko was nearby, washing more vigorously. They cleaned themselves in silence, Hana taking care of Ranma as much as she was willing, and moved to the outdoor hot spring. Tsume was the last in.
Finally, Anko broke the silence. "Well, if you still want her in your clan, there's only one thing to do."
Tsume sighed. "Yeah, seems that way. I had been hoping to avoid it, but desperate times…"
Hana looked suspiciously between the two. "What are you two talking about? I hope this isn't another ill-thought out plan of yours."
Anko gave her a bright smile. "Come on Hana. Put two and two together. Your mother wants Ranma in her clan. Ranma is gay. What does that say to you?"
Hana froze. "No. Oh no. No no nonono. Forget it. I'm not some brood mare for you to marry off!"
Tsume actually looked uncomfortable. "Actually, I've been meaning to talk to about this for some time, Hana. I've been putting it off because… You know most clans decide who their members marry. It usually isn't up to the individual to decide. I'd been hoping you'd find someone, but you haven't so much as breathed a word of interest."
"Oh gods, this isn't happening. I am not having this conversation." Hana put her face in her hands.
"Honestly Hana, you act like marriage is the end of the world. You've got to find someone sometime."
Curtly, Hana said, "Yes. Sometime. Eventually. As in not now. I've got too much going on, between work and study-"
"That's an excuse and you know it," Tsume scolded. "You're nineteen Hana. You're well past the age when you should be interested in this sort of thing. Honestly, given your lack of interest in boys, I'm wondering if you aren't gay as well!"
Hana scoffed. "That would be perfect for you wouldn't it? Then you could hook me up with Ranma without feeling any guilt!"
"I doubt I'd feel guilty for looking out for your future, Hana. And who says it has to be Ranma? I can set up some meetings with a few boys if that's where your taste lies. Give you the pick of the litter."
Hana scowled at the thought. She didn't want to get married. She had too much she needed to do. She needed time, that's what she needed. But how? A thoughtful look crossed her face. What if… Oh that was a terrible, no good idea. She should be ashamed of even thinking it. But … but it had to be done. There was no way she was getting married. "Alright."
Tsume blinked. "Alright? You'll agree to meet with some prospective husbands?"
"I didn't say that." Tsume narrowed her eyes. "No, you want Ranma in the clan? Fine. I'll pursue her. I mean, who knows, maybe I am gay. It's not like I can even think of the thought of having a husband without feeling annoyance. So I'll do it. Happy?"
Tsume's eyes were still narrowed. She obviously suspected something. And from the smirk on Anko's face, she hadn't covered her tracks nearly as well as she had thought she had. But whatever. For now she was in the clear.
Tsume crossed her arms. "The point is to make you happy, not me. But fine, if you think you can get her, be my guest."
Hana gave a sigh of relief. That bought her some time at least. She'd have to put on a show, but she wouldn't have to worry about marriage for a while.
As they soaked in silence, the evening crowd filtered in until the spring was filled with chattering females. Finally, Ranma awoke.
Hana looked down at her side where Ranma was leaning. Slowly, she opened her eyes and looked around. Then immediately jumped up and started stuttering and waving her arms. "D-don't hit me! I'm sorry!"
Frowning, Hana reached out and laid a hand on Ranma's shoulder. Ranma tensed. "It's okay Ranma. No one is going to hit you."
Ranma looked suspiciously at her. "A-are ya sure?"
"Of course Ranma. You're perfectly safe here." Hana reassured her. Perhaps it was time to put a bit of pressure on her. "Why would you think otherwise?"
Ranma fiddled with her pigtail, a telltale sign that she was nervous. She looked everywhere but at Hana, but everywhere she looked there was a naked woman. Her face looked like a tomato it was so red. Finally her eyes rested on the back wall. She stilled. "Don't look now, but I think we got a peepin' Tom."
"A what?" Hana asked, puzzled.
"A pervert. Over by the wall."
Anko surreptitiously glanced over at the indicated spot. "I don't see anything."
"Where'd ya put my clothes?" Ranma asked.
"They're in the changing room," Hana indicated. "What are you going to do?"
Ranma smiled. "Take care of him o' course."
Before they could stop her, she'd rushed into the changing room and grabbed her clothes. She dressed in record time and was back outside in a second. She leaped the wall and spotted the pervert. It was an old man with white hair and a strange headband giggling and writing in a notepad. "Hey you! What the hell do ya think you're doing!" The man looked up, wide eyed, and immediately jumped from his spot and started running. "Hey! Don't think you can get away that easily!" Ranma took off after him, leaving three bewildered women behind.
"Huff huff huff, I think I lost her. Finally." Jiraiya was exhausted. He'd never had that much trouble getting away from an irate female before. She had literally run him out of town. This was why he shouldn't spy on kunoichi, he told himself. They were in perfect health. Then again, he thought lecherously, they were in perfect health. He was hiding in the Forest of Death. Surely she wouldn't pursue him here?
"There you are." Jiraiya groaned. "Why don't you take your beating like a man."
Jiraiya turned to face his pursuer. "Now, now little lady." He gave her his best ladies' man grin. "Why don't we talk this out, hmm?"
She started pounding her fist against her hand. "Now that we're outta the city, I don't gotta hold back."
Ah well, looked like he'd have to get his hands a little dirty after all. A pity, she was quite attractive. And boy was she well endowed. He barely had time to stop his leering as a foot blew past where his head had been only seconds before. Okay. She was fast. A taijutsu specialist. He could handle that.