Rebel Without A Clue
By Edward Simons
Based on characters and situations created by Takahashi Rumiko. Ranma 1/2 and characters copyright Shogakukan, Kitty Animation Circle, and Takahashi Rumiko. Urusei Yatsura and characters copyright Shogakukan, Studio Pierrot, Studio Deen, and Takahashi Rumiko. This story written 2009 Edward Simons.
Kasumi was sweeping the steps near the front gate when a crimson motorcycle came racing down the street, darting in and out of traffic. At least it looked like a motorcycle, but the vehicle had no wheels and hovered above the pavement. The Tendo girl shivered, wishing she'd worn a warmer sweater, and tried to ignore the biker.
The motorcycle slid to a stop on the sidewalk immediately outside. A woman, perhaps in her mid-twenties, leaped off. "Yeah, well up yours!" she yelled, flipping off the other drivers before turning to face Kasumi. The stranger's short dark hair was pulled back by something that wasn't exactly a headband and looked like a chain. Her earrings were metallic as well, and looked vaguely like razorblades. Kasumi swallowed, holding the broom in both hands as if it were a talisman to ward off the other woman.
The stranger had to be freezing to death; she wore a metallic tubetop that was open at the front and appeared to be held on solely by wishful thinking. The right arm was covered by a gray sort of sleeve with reinforced shoulder and elbow that attached to the tube top and there was a large heavy chain slung over the woman's shoulder. She also wore a crimson chainmail micro-miniskirt and knee high gray boots. The outfit was completely scandalous, either boot or the sleeve probably had more material than the tubetop and the skirt put together.
Clearly the stranger was some sort of gang member, or even worse, a cosplayer, but Kasumi attempted her best friendly smile. "Excuse me, but I think you have the wrong address."
The woman gestured towards the sign on the gate, though she didn't look at it. "Tendo Dojo. To engage the owner in savage combat, please use the side entrance," the woman quoted. "It took some luck finding the place though, one little party with my friends from high school and they changed everything in Nerima around while I was gone. If it wasn't for that guy with the bandana and the fangs giving me directions I don't think I'd have ever found the place."
"I...see," Kasumi replied hesitantly. "Are you...here on business?"
The woman gave a hearty laugh. "Of course not, I'm here to see my husband."
"Oh. My." The woman did not look old enough to have a teenage son, though perhaps this explained some of Ranma's rough edges. Kasumi had a brief mental image of a teenage Genma embracing a teenage version of the woman, which gave her a rather queasy feeling. "I'm afraid that Genma is out on training trip with Ranma. I think he said up in the mountains, which really sounds somewhat silly; it's quite cold enough here in Tokyo."
The stranger frowned. "Genma? Ranma? Who the hell are those guys? I'm here to see Sou-chan."
"Yeah, Sou-chan. My husband, Soun Tendo."
Kasumi felt her knees trembling and for a moment her vision grayed. How could Father have remarried, and such an unsuitable woman at that? Mother would be so disappointed at who he'd found to replace her. "I...um, he's at a meeting with the town council."
The woman slapped a hand against her knee and laughed. "That's my Sou-chan. I wonder what sort of trouble he's in this time. That's okay; I can wait. Do you think he'll need bail money?"
Kasumi shook her head. This was like some horrible dream. "Um, would you like some tea while you wait?"
"Tea? Why would I want tea? Gimme some beer, that'll kill my taste buds enough I can swallow that crappy sake that Sou-chan always buys."
Dazed, Kasumi followed the woman as she strode down the walk and into the house.
It was well after dark when Soun trudged up the steps to his home. The council meeting had taken much longer than expected. Yet another never-ending wrangle about the mysterious and uncatchable panty thief that they wanted the local martial artists, meaning him, to catch. Soun hadn't let it slip that Happosai actually lived with them, not that he had any choice about the Master's forced freeloading.
Soun sighed and slid open the door. All three of his daughters stood in the entryway, staring at him. Akane looked sullen, Kasumi tired and bewildered, and Nabiki had a knowing smirk.
His middle daughter's grin grew wider. "So, Daddy, it looks like there's still some fire left in those old bones."
"What? You're not making any sense."
"Oh, Father, how could you?" Kasumi murmured mournfully.
"Yeah, how could you do that to Mom!" Akane snapped.
Before Soun could reply, a figure appeared around the corner of the hallway, holding a sake bottle in one hand and a cup in another. The woman slugged back another drink and yelled, "What's with all the racket? When is my stupid husband ever going to get home? If that bitch Oyuki has been putting the moves on him again, I'll kill them both!"
For a few seconds, Soun Tendo did an excellent imitation of a statue. Then the façade crumbled. "Ben-chan, you're still alive!" He rushed down the hall and wrapped the woman in his arms, crying tears of happiness. "I thought you were dead, yet here you are looking not a day older."
The woman struggled frantically, trying to pry herself free from the death hug. "Stop blubbering and get away from me, you creepy old pervert! You are not my husband. Soun Tendo is a hot bishounen biker who's barely turned thirty."
"Hot?" Akane's eyes were the size of dinner plates.
"Bishounen?" Nabiki looked at least as bewildered.
"Biker?" Kasumi looked like she was going to cry.
Nabiki found her voice first. "And what did you say your name was?"
The woman squirmed out of Soun's grasp and broke the sake bottle over his head before he enveloped her in another hug. "Ack! Pervert, pervert!" She sighed and quit struggling. "My name is Benten Tendo."
"No, no, that's mother's name," Kasumi said hollowly.
"And have you got any kids?" Nabiki asked.
"You wouldn't think it with this figure, but yeah, of course," The woman said. "Kasumi's about nine, Nabiki's seven, and Akane's six and still wets the bed."
"No, Kami-sama, no, this can't be happening!" Kasumi added, her face white.
"Oh, this is ridiculous!" Akane shouted. "Kasumi's nineteen, not nine. Mom's been gone for ten years and you don't look anything like her! She swept down the hallway, grabbing her father with one arm and Benten with the other, and dragged them towards the family shrine. Nabiki followed, her arm around Kasumi, who moved numbly, like someone going to their own execution.
"There!" said Akane triumphantly, pointing at the picture on the shrine. "That's Benten Tendo and she doesn't look anything like you. I'm Akane Tendo, these are my sisters Kasumi and Nabiki, and this is our father Soun. We're all ten years older than the ages you just said." She crossed her arms and grinned.
"Ten years? So that's what Oyuki meant by it taking a while to find me and thaw me out."
Soun grabbed one of the woman's hands with both of his. "Oh, Ben-chan, Oyuki told us you'd been killed racing your bike though Ice Devil Canyon on Neptune. She said half a glacier fell on you."
Benten peered more closely at him. "It is you, Sou-chan. Ten years. If you'd ended up ten years older because you'd been kissing that bitch Ran you'd have been in trouble, but I guess I can live with this. You've aged better than I thought, but I'm not sure about that moustache."
"I've always had the moustache."
"And, I've never been sure about it," Benten replied smugly. "So, Sou-chan, why did you think a mere half a glacier would be enough to kill me? And why did you keep...that...picture? It's the worst perm I ever had and I only wore that ugly dress Mrs. Yamana gave me once. That stupid picture makes me looks...matronly." She almost spat the last word.
Soun winced. "I wanted the children to remember someone...they could look up to."
"Sou-chan, you jackass, did you go and get...respectable...while I was gone? I never was some dowdy, frumpy housewife." She punctuated her outburst with a mallet stroke to Soun's head.
He slumped to the floor, his eyes glazed. "Yes, dear. Sorry, dear," he mumbled.
"That was always mother's method for dealing with idiots," Kasumi said. "She gave me my first mallet when I was seven and told me how to use it. It is her. I didn't want to remember, but it is." Her eyes rolled back in her head and she slumped unconscious to the floor.
Benten stared for a moment. "That's a strange time and place for a nap." The woman shrugged, grabbed one of Soun's legs, and started dragging him off. "The bedroom should be this way, Sou-chan, unless you rearranged the house. We've got a lot of time to make up for." They disappeared from sight.
Akane stood frozen in openmouthed horror.
"This should be fun," Nabiki said.
"Are you crazy?" Akane yelled.
Her older sister gave a smirk. "Come on, aren't you glad Mom is still alive?"
"Our Mom is not some shameless, sex-crazed, half-naked, teenage alien biker bimbo!"
"That's right," Nabiki replied, her smile growing wider. "Mom's only been frozen ten years; she's in her mid-twenties, not a teenager."
"That was not the point!"
"And she hasn't seen Daddy in a decade, so cut Mom a little slack on the sex-crazed bit. We're not all a bunch of prudes like you are, Akane."
"She spent most of those ten years frozen in a block of ice and I am not a prude!"
"So says the girl who doesn't even have the guts to kiss her fiancé."
"Who says I ever wanted him as a fiancé? And why would I want to kiss that pervert?"
"Shampoo sure didn't seem to mind the fiancé bit or the kissing part," Nabiki purred. "Ukyou doesn't, either, and I'll bet she's kissed him already, too."
"Just shut up!"
"I'm home," Ranma called as he crossed the threshold. "Just in time for dinner, too." Leaving his shoes in the entryway, he turned right, down the hallway. "Pops and I saw a really strange shooting star up in the mountains a few days ago. But enough of that freezing my butt off, it's time to..."
Akane stood just ahead and slightly to his right, facing him. One foot was on the floor, the other poised on the bottom step of the stairs, and her right hand rested on the railing. She bit her lip and looked downward, blushing, then raised her eyes to meet his. "Um, hi, Ranma, I, um..." She pursed her lips and leaned forward.
"Whoah, Akane, don't go getting all weird on me. You hit your head or something?" Ranma placed one hand behind his head and chuckled nervously. "So, um, where's dinner and, um, did Kasumi make it?" He dodged left, past the girl, and headed towards the kitchen.
"Ranma!" Akane glowered at his back for a moment, then turned and began to stomp back up the stairs.
Nabiki met Ranma in the kitchen doorway, and he stopped abruptly. His father, just as eager for food, collided with Ranma, who barely had time to avoid accidentally tackling Nabiki by bracing his arms against the doorframe. Genma grunted and fell backwards, landing on his butt. Ignoring both of the Saotomes, Nabiki leaned her head out the doorway, looking towards the stairs. "You're a chicken," she called after her little sister in a singsong voice.
"I am not!"
A strangely dressed woman who Ranma had never seen before stood behind Nabiki. "Why are you calling little your sister a chicken?" the woman asked.
"Who is heck is this?" Ranma interrupted, praying to any kami that would listen that this was not another fiancée. Just to be safe, he took a step backwards; besides Nabiki was too close, easily in kissing range and considering the way the kami seemed to amuse themselves, could very well be under the influence of pills or incense or whatever that made her love him.
"I'm the girls' mother, Benten Tendo," the stranger replied. Soun and Kasumi stood behind her.
"Wow, this is cool." Ranma turned to yell up the stairs. "Hey, Akane, you never told me your mom was a cosplayer!"
The noise of the railing being crushed in Akane's fist almost drowned out her angry yell.
"Actually, Mom's an alien," Nabiki explained.
"Wow, an alien cosplayer. That's even cooler." Ranma's voice dropped to a whisper. "Though that alien bit does explain Akane's cooking."
"I heard that!" Akane yelled, before slamming the door to her room shut.
"Nabiki," Benten chided, "you still haven't told me why you called your little sister a chicken. Does Mommy have to put you in a headlock again?"
"Um, no, Mom. Once was enough." She gestured towards Ranma. "This is Ranma Saotome, Akane's fiancé. The bald guy behind him is Ranma's dad, Genma. They're a couple martial arts freaks and they've been on a training trip up in the mountains, which considering the miserable weather just shows they're insane. Anyway, I was calling Akane a chicken because she hasn't got the guts to kiss Ranma even though he's her fiancé."
"K...kiss." Ranma quietly slid another step backwards. This could not be good, one kiss and the next thing they'd probably be trying to hold a wedding ceremony. He slipped his pack off and put it on the floor. He might need every bit of speed he could get, especially if Pops joined in the chase.
"You mean Akane's such a prude she hasn't even kissed this guy even though they're engaged?" Benten asked. She turned to her husband, and there was an edge in her voice. "Sou-chan, just how have you been raising the girls while I was gone? At this rate, I'm never going to have grandchildren."
"Sorry, dear," Soun muttered meekly.
Benten turned back to Ranma. "Sorry about that, I didn't realize Akane had grown up to be such a prude. If I was still single I might to try to steal you from her." She gave him a quick wink. "But here you go." She thrust a couple pieces of paper into the boy's hand.
His eyes grew wide. "These are tickets to a hot spring."
"That's right, two tickets, one room, a coed hot spring." Benten held out a little finger and winked again. "I'm sure a healthy guy like you knows what to do once you get Akane alone."
"Um, er, uh, I ain't so sure..."
"Mother, how could you encourage this?" Kasumi interrupted. "Ranma and Akane are far too young to be doing things like that and besides they aren't even married."
Benten scratched her head. "What's marriage got to do with anything? When a guy and a gal are in love with each other they should just go for it." She narrowed her eyes and stared at Ranma. "You do love Akane, don't you? If I found out you're just stringing my daughter along, I'd have to get angry."
"Um, er, uh..." Ranma considered make his own exit through the nearest wall.
"Ben-chan, didn't the city council get a teensy-weensy bit upset the last time you used your bazooka inside the city limits?"
"Aw, who cares what those weenies think," Benten replied. "Anyway, Ranma, you should go show Akane a good time."
"Mother! How can you say things like that?" Ranma had never seen Kasumi do the angry demon head. He tried to hide behind his father, but the old man had already disappeared.
Unfazed by her daughter's outburst, Benten beamed and pulled out a photograph. "Here's me and Sou-chan at the wedding."
"Oh, my," Nabiki murmured. "Just a little bit pregnant, weren't you, Mommy?"
"Yeah, and the stupid baby was kicking like a mule. I didn't know if I was going to make it through the ceremony."
"At least she was wearing wedding clothes and not the biker outfit," Ranma added, taking another surreptitious backstep towards the door.
"Yeah, and they really chafed," Benten grumbled. "I'm delicate, you know."
Kasumi held a towel in both hands, though she seemed to be chewing on the middle of it and there were tears in her eyes. "You mean...you mean you were pregnant with me when you married Father?"
Benten laughed heartily. "Of course not. I was pregnant with Nabiki when I married your father."
Kasumi collapsed to her knees, bawling. "I'm...I'm illegitimate! This can't be true, my life is hell!"
Benten scratched her head. "She cries just like you, Sou-chan, but I don't remember Kasumi being so high-strung." She knelt and put a hand on the girl's shoulder. "I don't know what's wrong, dear, but you can tell your mommy everything."
"Where did Ranma go?" Nabiki asked.
"I guess he couldn't wait for the hot springs," Benten replied. "Probably upstairs with his fiancée now. That's good, if there was ever a girl who needed to relax, it's Akane."
Kasumi shrugged off her mother's hand and stood. "I'm going out." She wiped her eyes with the towel and dropped it on the floor. An apron joined it in a few moments and Kasumi rounded the corner, heading towards the front door. "I think I'll start with some sake."
"Don't forget to get enough sake for Mommy, too," Benten called after her.
"So, if Kasumi's out for the evening, who's going to finish making dinner?" Nabiki asked.
"She's just picking up some groceries," Benten said dismissively.
At which point they heard the hoverbike start up. The family rushed to the doorway, just in time to see the vehicle disappear over the rooftops. "Hey, she's swiping my bike!" Benten exclaimed, adding a variety of oaths for emphasis.
"Like I said, if Kasumi's out for the evening who's going to finish making dinner?" Nabiki asked.
"Don't look at me," Benten replied. "I spent all those years teaching her how to cook and clean so I wouldn't have to do it anymore. Just order takeout." She grinned at her husband. "Sou-chan and I will be back in our room, just let us know when dinner gets here. Oh, and don't forget to knock first."
Ranma fled across the rooftops as if a horde of fiancées was on his heels. He'd barely made it a block from the Tendo place when he heard the hoverbike start up. He caught just a glimpse of it rising over the corner of the roof and dove into the alley.
Akane's mom was scary.
Ranma spun, landing lightly and darted across the street to another alley. The roofs were not safe when his pursuer could fly.
And if she catches me, she'll make me take Akane to the hot springs and I'm too young to die. If Akane doesn't kill me, Ryouga will. If he doesn't, Kuno, or...
There were too many possibilities, all of them bad. Ranma darted left at the next street, then right into another alley. He heard the bike buzz overhead.
So much for trying to make it to Tofu's.
He reversed course back into the street he'd just come from and bolted down the road.
Wait, maybe she doesn't know about the curse.
And there were a lot of food vendors further down the street. There was no way he could make it past that without getting splashed by something cold. Ranma accelerated, hurtling past a cart selling hot tea. Hot coffee. Hot miso soup. More hot tea. Hot chocolate. Still more hot tea. Hot sake.
Why did this have to happen in the middle of winter?
Ranma vaulted a fence, cartwheeled through a couple back yards and into another street. He could always count on the ladle lady to be washing off her walk.
Ranma hit the large patch of ice going full tilt. Arms windmilling, he slid completely out of control. Someone came around the corner and before he could stop or even yell a warning, they collided.
Ranma found himself kneeling, straddling the other person and in each hand he felt something warm and soft and round.
"What the heck do you think you're doing you perverted jackass!" Then recognition came to Ukyou's eyes and anger changed to something almost as scary. "Oh, Ranchan, you're so aggressive. And in public, too." Ukyou's hand blurred with a speed close to the Chestnut Fist, fore and backhand slapping him multiple times. Dazed, Ranma fell forward and felt his lips pressing against something warm and soft and sweet.
Akane's going kill me, but there are worse ways to die. Wait, what am I thinking?
Ranma pushed himself up, away from the unintended kiss. "Ooh, Ranchan," Ukyou murmured, her eyes half open, and Ranma remembered where his hands were. He started to snatch them away, but Ukyou caught one hand in each of hers, noticing the papers he still held. "You've got us a reservations at a hot spring? That's so romantic and it's perfect in this miserable cold weather." She turned bright red. "Oh, but we can't, we aren't even married yet."
Ranma nodded vigorously.
"Then again, we are engaged," she mused. "And it would be rude to refuse after all the trouble you went to get the reservations."
"Look, it's Akane!" he called frantically.
Ukyou rolled to her feet, drawing her battle spatula in one smooth motion. "Where? Where? I don't see her. She'll have to get through me first!"
Ranma used the distraction to flee like his butt was on fire.
"I still think you should have let me make dinner," Akane grumbled.
Soun and Nabiki shook their heads in unison.
"Why that's a lovely idea," Benten answered.
The others shook their heads even more vigorously.
"I guess you can make breakfast, then," Benten said.
Akane beamed, ignoring the way Nabiki had turned white and her father had passed out. "Thanks, Mom! You won't regret this."
Nabiki pulled out a piece of paper and began scribbling. "I, Nabiki Tendo, being of sound mind and body, do hereby bequeath..." she muttered.
"So what happened to Ranma and his dad?" Akane asked.
"Probably another training trip," Nabiki grumbled. "Bastards."
Akane raised an eyebrow. "Um, Mom, don't you have a problem with Nabiki's language?"
Benten scratched her head. "Why the hell would that bother me?"
Akane just sighed and then smiled again. "Thanks for letting me make breakfast, Mom. Don't worry, I'll make the best breakfast ever!"
"In fact," Benten added with a smile, "I'll let you make every meal that Kasumi isn't here to cook."
Nabiki took the opportunity to faint as well.
Benten stared at her daughter. "Wow, the excitement was a bit too much for her. Nabiki's almost as high-strung as Kasumi." She smiled at Akane. "At least the baby of the family inherited my even temper."
Akane's eye twitched. "Mom, don't call me a baby."
"I'm sorry, you're right. I shouldn't call a girl who's already engaged a baby. Especially when your fiancé is such a hunk. That slender form. Those clear blue eyes. Those tight buns."
"So what was the first time you did it like?"
"Di...did it?" Akane turned bright red and stared at the tabletop. "You mean like...like kissing?"
"I'll bet he was a real animal," Benten adding, grinning.
The hoverbike slid through the front door of Doctor Tofu's clinic, carrying away door, doorframe, and a bit of the wall. He dodged the debris and fell into a defensive stance, but this was no attack.
Kasumi sat astride the bike. Her skirt was hiked up almost high enough to see her knees and the top, no, the top two buttons of her blouse were undone. The girl's face was red and flushed.
"Ka...Kasumi," he stuttered, barely maintaining control. "Ha...have you been drinking?"
"Yesh," she said with a smirk. "Lotssh." She slid off the bike, wobbled slightly, and proudly held up two fingers.
"Two bottles?" he replied. "That must have been some pretty strong sake."
Kasumi shook her head. "Not bottles, cupsh." She tried to step forward and stumbled. Tofu barely caught her. "Shtupid shoes," she muttered, kicking them off. The girl looked into his eyes and he felt his glasses begin to fog up. "Shhoo," she slurred, "do ya think I'm dowdy?"
Tofu shook his head.
"Howza 'bout frumpy?"
"Of course not, Kasumi. Only an idiot would believe that. You're beautiful and elegant and..."
"Yesh!" Kasumi slurred triumphantly. Her first kiss missed his lips, but she found them with a little searching. He didn't remember much after that.
Ranma paused underneath the bridge and leaned against the concrete wall, breathing heavily.
"Wow, you almost lost me there, Ranchan." Ukyou's head was bowed, her hands on her knees, also breathing heavily.
"Don't worry, I'm sure we lost Akane." She paused for a moment, catching her breath, then sliding over to his side. "It's really odd that I never saw her, though. I didn't expect Akane to be that sneaky."
"Somebody who didn't know you would probably think that was just a lie to get rid of me."
Ranma winced. It felt like someone had stabbed him with a knife.
"But you're not the kind of jerk who would just lead a girl on."
The second knife felt bigger.
"After all, you promised you'd always take care of me, and if that isn't a proposal, I don't know what is."
Someone was twisting the third knife, or maybe it was a harpoon. Ranma looked deep into Ukyou's eyes and saw something frightening, intense.
And then her eyes fluttered shut and she fell unconscious to the ground.
"Pops, what the heck did you do that for?" Ranma grumbled.
The panda held up the large sign he'd used to deck Ukyou. "Pops? Who's that? I'm just a wandering do-gooder."
"You ain't fooling anyone by wearing the cape and the jumpsuit, Pops. And spandex is definitely not for you. And if you gotta do a lame impersonation of a superhero, wearing your underwear on the outside does not mean wearing it on your head." Ranma shook his head. "And like I said, what didja hafta go hitting Ucchan for?"
"I was saving you from peril." Genma reversed the sign. "That's what us superheroes do."
"Peril, my butt," Ranma replied. "I had everything perfectly under control." He bent down and scooped up Ukyou. "Besides, I can't just leave her lying around unconscious in this weather. It ain't right."
"No, no, it's too perilous," the sign aimed at Ranma's head proclaimed. Ranma ducked it easily, kicked the sign away, then planted a flying spin kick to Genma's chin. The panda arced into the canal and came up spitting water.
Ranma scraped the bottom of his shoe off on the pavement; that underwear on the head bit was just too gross. "Yo, Pops," he called. "You better hurry back to the Tendo's before your fuzzy butt freezes, unless maybe you wanna become a Pops-sickle."
Ukyou groaned and twitched in his arms. "Ranchan, that was terrible."
Ukyou winced. "No one could stay unconscious when someone slung a pun that horrible."
"It wasn't that bad, was it?" he asked.
Ukyou nodded, then slipped her hands around his neck and gazed into his eyes.
"Maybe Pops was right about the peril," Ranma whispered. He cleared his throat and continued, "Um, Ucchan, about those tickets, um, well, actually Akane's mom gave 'em to me."
"She what! How dare that hussy try to steal you away."
"And a married woman, too," Ukyou continued. "How shameless!" She jumped out of Ranma's arms, drew her battle spatula, then hesitated. "Um, what was her name?"
"Benten Tendo, for the crime of trying to steal my fiancé, prepare to die!" Ukyou looked earnestly at Ranma. "She is old and ugly, isn't she?"
"Well, at least I'm cuter, aren't I, Ranchan?" There was something pleading in her eyes.
Ukyou blushed, holding one hand to her cheek. "Oh, Ranchan, you say the sweetest things." She slung her weapon for a moment. "But before the fight, another kiss for luck." Before he could react, Ukyou wrapped her arms around his neck and planted her lips against his. And held the position. And continued to hold the position.
Ranma was grateful from the breath holding techniques he'd developed swimming the several hundred kilometers between Japan and China. Just when he thought he was going to pass out from lack of oxygen, Ukyou broke the kiss. He'd never seen a smile on her like this one, compared to this her normal, cheery demeanor was bleak depression. "Sorry to make you wait, Ranchan, but don't worry, we'll go to the hot springs just as soon as I finish beating up that nasty homewrecker."
And then Ukyou was gone. Ranma blinked, realizing his father had been gone for a while, too.
He heard a scream of rage and barely dodged to the side as a bonbori shattered the pavement. Ranma raised his hands, palms out, in a placating manner. "Um, listen, Shampoo, I can explain."
"Another kiss? Hot springs? Ranma no need to explain, Shampoo not be stupid."
"No, really, it's not my fault! Ucchan started the kiss and all..."
"Then why Airen's hands end up on her butt? Penalty for cheating on Amazon womans is..."
"...death," Ranma finished for her, his shoulders slumped.
Shampoo grinned ferally. "No, punishment not be that nice."
Ranma swore softly and fled.
Akane brought her fist down with a thundering crack, reducing another stack of cinder blocks to powder. Grabbing a towel, she wiped any dust and perspiration from her face, then sat down against the dojo wall and began to sip a sports drink. The girl gave a faint smile. Her mother was nothing like what Akane had expected, in fact she was pretty weird, but she'd trusted Akane with breakfast and that made her the best mom ever.
Akane stood and walked to the doorway, looking towards the house. There were no lights in the second story room that Ranma shared with his father. It was odd for them to retire so early, especially after skipping dinner. Akane sighed and raised a couple fingers to her lips. It wasn't her fault that stupid jerk was such a big chicken he was afraid of one little kiss.
The front gate slammed open with enough force Akane worried it might have popped from its hinges. Akane spun to her left and dropped into a defensive stance.
A panda was charging down the walk toward the house, but angled straight towards her once it spotted Akane. Genma's hair was spiked in every direction. Apparently he'd been taking fashion tips from her mom. Akane turned white as the full impact of the spandex jumpsuit and the underwear on Genma's head assaulted her eyes. With a shriek of "Pervert!" Akane stepped back and slid the door of the dojo shut.
Genma charged straight through it. He grabbed Akane's shoulder in one hand, while the other clutched a sign saying, "Darth Ukyou has captured Prince Ranma. Help me, Akane-chan, you're my only hope!"
"Get away from me you creepy weirdo!" she yelled in reply, grabbing Genma's sign and smacking him with it.
"Duck!" her mother called from behind Genma. Akane threw herself to the floor as a missile soared past, catching the panda in the chest and carrying him through the far wall of the dojo before it detonated.
Akane's mother knelt in the kitchen doorway, facing down the walk towards the dojo. All Benten wore was her earrings and her headband, but she held a rocket launcher to her shoulder and was peering intently through the targeting system. "All right, it's about time I got a real fight! Stay down, honey, and I'll give that perverted panda another round. I think he's just faking."
"Mom, how can you go out in public like that!"
"I'm not in public, I'm in the privacy of my own home. Anyway..." The end of the rocket launcher dropped and Benten looked down at herself. "I...I see what you mean," she spluttered, her face red. "How could I possibly have forgotten?"
"Sou-chan, bring it now!" she yelled back over her shoulder. Benten turned and beamed back at Akane. "Thanks, honey, without my chain, I'd have been in trouble when I ran out of ammo." She raised the missile launcher's sight back to her eye and cursed. "The panda's gone."
Soun arrived behind Benten with the chain and Nabiki arrived moments after he did, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. The drowsiness didn't last long; her eyes flew wide open. "Mom? Daddy? Clothing? You're going to traumatize poor Akane for life."
Soun made shushing motions. "Don't go distracting your Mommy when she's engaged in savage combat. She gets a bit cranky about things like that."
Benten advanced down the walkway into the dojo, the others trailing behind her. The woman looked out the hole she'd blown in the dojo wall and cursed again. "Looks like he got away. Akane, dear, why was there a pervert panda attacking you?"
Akane just lay on the floor making strange gurgling noises.
Nabiki sighed. "I think Akane will be better at answering questions if you and Daddy have some clothes on, Mother."
"Why? We used to bathe with all of you kids when you were little. It's not like she hasn't seen us naked before."
Akane was on her feet, fists clenched trembling at her sides, her face red with rage. "That is not the point!"
"Take some deep breaths," Benten said soothingly. "I don't want my little girl to have a coronary before she turns twenty. Maybe I need to give that fiancé of yours a good talking to; you're way to stressed for him to be doing his job properly."
Akane looked dumbfounded, unable to say a word.
"I'll explain later," Nabiki whispered to her sister before addressing her mother. "That was just Ranko's pet panda."
"She's our cousin," Nabiki continued.
"Cousin?" Benten looked at her husband. "I thought you were an only child."
"A distant cousin," Nabiki supplied. "Anyway, cousin Ranko visits sometimes. And she has a pet panda."
"So why was the panda dressed like that?" Benten asked.
Nabiki shrugged. "Probably one of the local nutcase's idea of a joke. Give me an extra allowance and I'm sure I can find the right one to pin it, I mean, the one who did it." She yawned. "Anyway, I'm going to bed." She started down the walkway, back towards the house.
Which is when the challenge okonomiyaki caught her in the face.
The wind whistled softly across the vacant lot. The position of the moon in the sky showed it was a time any sensible person would be in bed.
Ukyou stood balanced on the fence in one corner of the lot, wind gently tugging at her hair. Benten balanced at the opposite corner, missile launcher held lazily in one hand. In unison, they nodded, flipped forward off the fences and advanced cautiously towards the middle of the lot.
Ukyou raised an eyebrow, eyeing her opponent carefully. "You're Akane's mom?"
Benten nodded, obviously sizing up her as well.
Ukyou frowned. "You're a lot younger than I expected."
Benten beamed. "Thanks, but don't think some compliments are going to keep me from kicking your butt."
"Nope, my skill is going do to that," the Kuonji girl replied smugly.
Benten laughed. "I like your attitude."
Ukyou nodded, acknowledging the compliment. "Excuse me for asking, but aren't you freezing? That outfit's kind of daring."
"Look who's talking," Benten replied.
Ukyou blinked in confusion. "What?"
We're both showing off our assets." Benten slapped her bare stomach. "Three kids and no visible stretch marks." She laughed again. "That skirt you're wearing is shorter than mine."
"Um, that's a tunic," Ukyou replied nervously. She tugged furtively at its front hem, realizing the middle rose almost to her waist.
"And those tights you're wearing, they really live up to their name. I bet they really show off your legs and your ass."
"Um, they do?" Now Ukyou was trying to pull down the back hem of her tunic as well.
"Yeah, with your ass-sets, I bet your boyfriend can't keep his hands off you."
"I wish," Ukyou spluttered, "I mean, shouldn't we be getting to the challenge?"
Benten shrugged. "Sure thing, but we gotta do this properly. Why did you challenge me, anyway?"
Ukyou drew herself to her full height, holding her battle spatula boldly. "I am Ukyou Kuonji, of the Kuonji school of Okonomiyaki Martial Arts." She pointed the weapon directly at her opponent. "For trying to steal my fiancé, Ranma Saotome, I..."
"Wait, wait, wait," Benten interrupted. "You're Ranma's fiancée?"
"Don't play innocent with me! You gave those hot spring tickets to him."
Benten chuckled. "I think we have a misunderstanding. I gave him those tickets so he'd take Akane to the hot springs." She sighed. "The sacrifices I make for my kids; I was saving those for some special time with Sou-chan. Anyway, I didn't know Akane was trying to steal your fiancé, so I apologize."
"She what?" Ukyou's eyes grew wide. "Wait, you apologize?"
"Yeah." Benten raised an eyebrow. "You got a problem with that?"
Ukyou shook her head. "No, I'm just not used to people apologizing."
"What the hell sort of rude jackasses you got around here?"
Ukyou gave a faint smile. "You wouldn't believe. Um, thanks, apology accepted. I sure feel like an idiot. I suppose I gotta give the tickets back now."
"No, you two can keep 'em as part of the apology," Benten replied. "Akane sure had me fooled, here I though she was a prude, but she's sneaking around trying to steal another girl's fiancé and lying that she's already Ranma's fiancée. No wonder she's so angry and frustrated."
"What do you mean?"
Benten scratched her head. "You honestly don't know? I've already mentioned some of your assets, plus you've got a slimmer waist and a bigger bust than she does."
"Yeah, you just gotta learn how to accentuate the positive."
"Really?" Ukyou sighed. "A lot of people think I look like a guy."
Benten raised an eyebrow. "You're kidding, right? What kind of stupid jackass would think that? Probably the same kinda guys that go for those sickly-sweet overly cute phonies that are act all innocent and are really manipulative psycho bitches!"
"Um, are you okay, Mrs. Tendo? You look a bit upset."
"What?" Benten coughed and cleared her throat. "Oh, just remembering someone from back in high school. Never did understand why Lum put up with that bitch. But please, don't call me Mrs. Tendo, that sounds so old. Anyway, I can loan you a few tops."
"I..." Ukyou had turned beet red. "I couldn't. I just couldn't. Among other things, I'd freeze to death."
"Oh, I'd freeze to death, too, when I visited Oyuki's planet, anyway, but I've got a pill that takes care of that."
"Why are you trying to help me?" Ukyou asked.
Benten laughed. "I'll help Akane, too, if she's not too much of a jackass to ask for it. A gal's gotta be willing to fight for what she wants. I think half of high school was the conflict between my best friend Lum and a girl called Shinobu over the guy they both wanted. I never understood what the fuss was about. How could any guy be half as cool as my hoverbike? That attitude sure changed when I met Sou-chan."
"Soun Tendo. He was this really hot biker guy and his motorcycle was pretty impressive even if earth motorcycles couldn't fly. When I first met Sou-chan there was another girl interested in him, too, a real delinquent and scarily good with that battle yoyo." Benten chuckled. "Sorry, I'm probably boring you with old times."
Ukyou shook her head. "I...well, I lost my mom when I was kinda young, and I've kinda got a some rough edges and I don't really know anything about how to attract a guy. It's nice to hear about someone who's been where I am, but managed to get the guy she wanted."
"Just remember, Ukyou, all's fair in love and war."
Benten chuckled. "Not really, war has rules. Speaking of combat, it's seems kind of a shame we didn't get to have the fight."
"Well, it wouldn't be right to insist on the challenge when it turns out I was all wrong about you trying to steal Ranchan." Ukyou fidgeted nervously. "In fact, I feel kinda stupid about the whole thing."
"That's okay, some guys are worth fighting over and I like your spirit. I always preferred a straight up fight to a bunch of sneaking around, anyway." Benten scuffed her toe against the ground. "You sure we couldn't have a fight anyway? Just a teeny-weeny little one?"
"You mean for fun?"
"Yeah, that's the spirit. It's been too long since I've really had a chance to cut loose."
"Um, maybe we could fight over who's the better fighter." Ukyou shook her head. "Sorry, I guess that's a really dumb thing to..."
"That's brilliant!" Benten pulled out her chain and gave a couple experimental swings. "Get ready to lose, Okonomiyaki Girl!"
"Ha, you haven't got a chance," Ukyou replied, readying her battle spatula. "I figured I'd have to fight another challenge sometime, so I've mined this vacant lot with exploding okonomiyaki. You make one false step and..."
"Uh-oh. I though this place lot looked like a great place for a challenge, too, so before I got home I mined it."
"What? But that many mines plus my exploding okonomiyaki means if any one of them explodes all the others will go off from sympathetic detonation." Ukyou looked cautiously around the lot.
"You sure know your explosives; I respect that in an opponent," Benten replied. "I hope this doesn't mean you're planning to forfeit."
Giggling, Kasumi staggered up the walk to her home. Just before she reached it, the front door slid open and her father stood there, a worried expression on his face.
Kasumi raised a finger to her lips. "Shhh, don't wake Father. I don't want him to know I'm a naughty, naughty girl, just like Mommy."
Soun's eyes grew wide. "Have you been drinking?" he asked.
The girl beamed and nodded. "That's why I'm so late." She stared blearily at her watch. "Wow, it's ten-thirty, I'm such a party animal. And I kissed Tofu a couple times. I even jaywalked twice on the way home." She blushed and held a hand to her cheek. "Oh, I'm such a naughty, wicked girl."
Soun sighed and relaxed. "Um, Kasumi, just where are your shoes?"
His daughter giggled. "Oopsie."
"Forget her shoes, where the hell did she put my bike!" Benten stood at the end of the walk, just inside the gate. Her hair was stiff and sticking out in several different directions, her face blackened, and her clothing scorched.
Kasumi drew herself erect and very precisely said, "You're not supposed to drink and drive," before breaking into another fit of giggling.
Soun took one look at his wife and fell to his knees, bawling. "Waaah, my Ben-chan's been beaten up!"
"Oh, put a sock in it, Sou-chan. It takes more than one teensy little explosion to hurt me. Besides, it was a draw."
"Yeah, I was all set for some good old-fashioned savage combat and then Ranma jumped straight in the middle of the vacant lot. What a waste of good explosives. Kinda odd though, he was yelling about it not being his fault and it looked like he was being chased by a cat. Who'd be afraid of a cute little kitty?"
Kasumi giggled and waved. "Hi, Mommy."
Soun tried to ignore his daughter. "So what happened to Ranma?"
Benten shrugged. "I told Ukyou to take him home. After all, he is her fiancé."
"What? Ranma is Akane's fiancé," Soun insisted.
"But he was engaged to Ukyou first," Kasumi added with an impish smile.
"That's not true," her father replied. "Genma and I promised our houses would be united before we even had any kids."
"But you didn't tell them till they were sixteen," Kasumi said. "Mr. Saotome took Ukyou's dowry when she was six. Oopsie, I tattled on Daddy."
Benten's eyebrow was twitching. "Multiple engagements? Promising away one of my daughters before we'd ever met and not even telling me? Sou-chan, you are very, very lucky I'm out of explosives," she growled. "Any other little surprises you never bothered to tell me?"
He shook his head.
Kasumi giggled and held up three fingers. "Besides Akane and Ukyou, Ranma's also engaged to Shampoo. She's a Chinese girl he defeated in a martial arts tournament so now she has to marry him."
"That is not my fault!" Soun insisted.
"What a brilliant way of trapping a guy," Benten said. She glared at her husband. "I'll have to remember that one if I decide on becoming a widow. Anything else?"
Soun shook his head.
Kasumi held up a fourth finger. "There's also a creepy rich girl named Kodachi, but I don't think Ranma likes her and she's not really a fiancée unless Mr. Saotome got hungry again."
"That's not my fault, either," Soun complained.
"Of course not," Kasumi answered sweetly. "But there is Picollete Chardin." She beamed at her mother. "Daddy and Mr. Saotome promised one of their daughters would marry his son in return for a meal."
"You...you make it sound so wrong," Soun protested.
"So which one of you girls got stuck with that?" Benten asked her daughter.
"Oh, Ranma did," Kasumi answered, beaming.
"Sou-chan, you dressed poor Ranma up as a girl to fool this Chardin guy?"
He held his hands up placatingly. "Really, dear, it's not as bad as it sounds. Hey, what's with the missile launcher? I thought you said you were out of explosives."
"I never said I was out of missiles!"
Kasumi clapped her hands with glee. "The explosions are so pretty. I should tattle on Daddy more often. It's fun being a naughty girl like Mommy."
Ranma groaned and open his eyes. His body ached and his mouth felt dry. He looked to his right where Ukyou knelt, wearing a white yukata and looking worried. "Am I dead?" he rasped.
Ukyou enveloped him in a hug. "Oh, Ranchan, you say the sweetest things."
The girl gave him a huge grin. "You took one look at me and thought we were in heaven, so what you were really saying is you think I look like an angel."
"That's even sweeter than when you said I was cute."
"Uh, okay." Ranma's eyes grew wide. "I'm lying on your futon."
"And underneath the blanket, I ain't got no clothes on."
Ukyou nodded, releasing him and sitting back up.
"And all you're wearing is a yukata," Ranma added. He'd gotten a rather good look down the front of that garment when she hugged him.
"That's right, Ranchan."
"So we..." He trailed off, blushing.
"Yes." She seemed to be blushing at least as much as he was.
He closed his eyes and sighed, then looked straight into her eyes. "Sorry, Ucchan."
She blinked in confusion. "Sorry? Why? You didn't do anything wrong."
"Really? You ain't mad or nothing, Ucchan?"
She gave him a smile. "Of course not. Embarrassed, sure. I think I'll always be embarrassed when I think of this night. But I'm not mad."
"Wow. Thanks, Ucchan. I don't think Akane or Shampoo would have been so good about it."
Ukyou blushed. "We probably shouldn't let them know."
He nodded. "Too dangerous."
"Besides, I managed to save the tickets," the girl added. "After all, I want our first time to be special."
"What?" Ranma cleared his throat. "Um, what actually did happen?"
"I thought you said you remembered. You stepped on a mine in the vacant lot where Benten and I were having a challenge. When that mine blew, all the others went off, too. I'd almost reached the fence and the blast shredded my clothes. I ended up looking like I was wearing a fishing net. You were at the center of the lot, you were knocked out and your clothes were blown clean off. Now I know why all of Benten's clothes are made of metal; they have to be with how much she likes explosives."
"Anyway, I was really worried about you. Benten suggested I try mouth-to-mouth on you and that wasn't as embarrassing as I thought it would be since we'd already kissed a couple times but it wasn't much fun, either, and it didn't do any good at all so then she told me I needed to get you home and in bed before we both froze to death. She was winking a lot and gesturing with her little finger which was really strange; I hope she didn't hurt her head in the explosion, but what else explains the way she was acting? Anyway, I carried you back here which was really, really embarrassing since you were naked and I was almost naked and most everything left fell off before we got back here and I was glad I'd taken the roofs so no one could see us, at least I didn't see Shampoo making any deliveries on her bike..."
"Whoa, Ucchan, slow down. Breathe."
There was silence for a moment and then more words came pouring out of the girl. "So anyway, I ran as fast as I could and then I snuck us in the second story window which kinda reminded me about the groom carrying the bride over the threshold and I kind of wished it had been you carrying me and I got all embarrassed and accidentally smacked your head against the windowframe, not that I wasn't already really embarrassed about us having no clothes on and I'm really, really sorry about smacking your head and then I checked to make sure you weren't hurt anywhere and I hardly peeked at all and so I put you straight to bed like Benten suggested and since then I've been waiting for you to wake up." She finally stopped, breathless, her face crimson.
Ranma took a moment to digest the situation. "So how long have I been out?"
Ukyou considered the question. "About a minute trying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on you. Another minute getting back to my place. Then checking you out, I mean checking to see if you were okay, and then waiting for you to wake up. I'd say five minutes at most."
Ranma sighed a sigh of relief. "So I haven't been here all night." He gave a faint grin. "That means Akane and Shampoo ain't got no reason to get all jealous or nothing."
"Why would they do that?" Ukyou asked. "After all, you sleep over at Akane's house all the time and Shampoo and I don't get jealous about that."
"It's just different. Trust me, Ucchan." He sat up, holding the blanket to cover himself. For some reason Ukyou seemed to be pouting about that. Ranma sighed. "Can I borrow some clothes? That way I can get back to the Tendo place before everything blows up." He gave a sheepish smile. "Maybe I shoulda said everything blows up again."
She smiled back. "I'm afraid that's not going to work, Ranchan. All my clothes except the yukata I'm wearing are already in the wash." She giggled nervously. "Really, that's the truth, it's not some clever plot to keep you here all night."
Ranma sighed and lay back down on the futon. "That's okay, the Tendos and Pops probably woulda had a fit if I showed up wearing your clothes anyway."
"I..." Ukyou had turned bright red. "I guess I could let you use the yukata."
Ranma was blushing as well. "I think it's a lot safer if you keep it on."
She gave a faint smile. "Thanks." She considered a moment. "I could go in the bathroom and pass the yukata out to you. Then you can wear it back to the Tendos."
He shook his head. "It's kinda short on you, if I tried wearing it as a guy..."
Ukyou was still blushing, but now her eyes seemed focused somewhere else and she wore a really goofy smile.
"What?" The girl's eyes refocused. "Oh, sorry. Um, I guess that means cold water. Maybe after I hand the yukata out of the bathroom, you could go downstairs, get some cold water from the sink, then let yourself out."
"Won't that leave the door unlocked?" Ranma blinked and there was a chain around his neck with key hanging from it.
"Oh, Ranchan, I thought you'd never ask. The key works on the front and back doors. Feel free to come over any time, day...or night. There'll always be a place for you here."
He blinked, uncertain of what to say. Ukyou fell silent, too, and they stayed that way for a while.
"Um, I guess I should take care of that now." Ukyou stood slowly, her eyes downcast and walked over to the bathroom. She paused and looked back, opened her mouth to say something, but no words came out. Ukyou shook her head, blushing, stepped into the bathroom, and closed the door.
Ranma flinched as a loud crash came from the bath. "Ucchan?" He heard a couple muffled thuds and angry voices. Before he thought of what he was doing, Ranma had dropped the blanket and rushed to the bathroom.
It ended up taking quite a bit more effort than he'd expected to separate Shampoo and Ukyou and he was pretty sure he'd grabbed both of them in places that normally would have gotten him slapped or worse, but for now he gripped Ukyou's arm with his right and Shampoo's arm with his left.
"What were you doing naked in my bathroom?" Ukyou demanded, glaring at her rival.
"Is not Shampoo's fault she lose clothes when turn into cat," the Amazon replied. "And there was hot water there. And she no trust Spatula Girl alone with Airen."
"I'd never try to take advantage of Ucchan," Ranma protested.
"Airen is not the one Shampoo worried about!"
"Hey, all I did was peek," Ukyou protested. "You'd have done the same." She stopped and her eyes grew wide. "Wait, you've got a Jusenkyou curse, too?"
Shampoo glowered back. "Is great and terrible punishment to be using Jusenkyou curse against Amazon womans!"
"Like I'd need to do that to beat you!" Ukyou retorted. "Besides, how is a girl turning into a girl any kind of curse at all?"
Ranma sighed, and for a moment the girls forgot their rivalry. "Let's not fight, okay. I don't think Ucchan wants her place wrecked, and none of us wants to have to explain how we all ended up naked in the same room."
Ukyou raised an eyebrow. "Naked? Only you and Shampoo are naked." She stopped, turning bright red. The battle with Shampoo had been brief, but Ukyou's yukata had not fared at all well.
"Aaah." Ukyou was too embarrassed for words any more. Not that Ranma was at ease, either. Only Shampoo seemed comfortable with the current situation, if more than a little irritated she was not the only girl present.
"Um, don't let it bug you none, Ucchan," Ranma tried to reassure. "What with my curse I've seen a girl's body plenty of times."
"So Airen's mouth say, but Airen's body say otherwise." The Chinese girl had a rather predatory look on her face. "Shampoo was worried Airen be too too big when he happy to see her."
"Yeah, I was worried about the same thing back when I bought those photos off of Ranchan's dad." Ukyou blushed and looked away. "I didn't say that. I didn't say that." Yet slowly, surely, her eyes started to swing round again.
The Chinese girl had never looked away. "Not to worry, Shampoo take care of husband's needs. If Spatula Girl wants, she can watch."
"Hey, I called dibs! I mean, Ranchan is my fiancé and he's going to the hot springs with me! Mrs. Tendo said we could do that."
"She what!" Ranma and Shampoo chorused.
Ukyou explained her talk with Benten.
"Ha!" Shampoo exclaimed. "Mrs. Tendo give tickets to Airen, that means Airen can take whatever girl he want to hot springs." She narrowed her eyes at Ranma. "So who Airen going to pick; Hammer Girl, Spatula Girl, or busty Chinese hottie like any normal male?"
Ranma looked in Shampoo's eyes, seeing a longing behind the anger. He met Ukyou's gaze, seeing the same desire behind her embarrassment. Ranma closed his eyes and sighed. There was no answer that wouldn't get him pulverized. If he picked Ukyou, Shampoo would pound him. If he picked Shampoo, Ukyou would clobber him. If he picked Akane and somehow managed to escape these two girls alive, Akane would kill him and then Pops and Mr. Tendo would have them married off before he knew what hit him and then Ryouga would kill him.
He could really use some cold water right now, for more than one reason, but the girls were between him and the sink and tub. In fact, considering how the kami liked to play with him, he was lucky he hadn't accidentally slipped and grabbed or tackled both girls.
Ranma started considering techniques. Cologne was right, he couldn't use a chi attack on Ukyou, or on Shampoo, either, but there were other techniques. Ranma discarded 'Look It's A Ten Yen Coin', it was obvious neither girl's greatest desire was monetary and a variant technique like 'Look It's An Engagement Ring' would only make things worse. The normally flawless Ultimate Technique wouldn't do it either; Shampoo at least would continue to pursue him across Nerima even though they were both naked. Maybe if he told people they were practicing Martial Arts Streaking, but who'd be dumb enough to believe that?
The Crouch of the Wild Tiger had promise, if he could convince Ukyou and Shampoo he wasn't apologizing for picking Akane. Maybe he should just tell the truth and say he wasn't ready to take anyone to the hot springs.
No, the truth would never work.
Then the idea struck him, an idea so brilliant he was amazed at his own cleverness. Ranma beamed at both the girls. "Shampoo, Ucchan, I made up my mind. The only right way to do this is for me to take both you girls to the hot springs."
He nodded and his grin grew wider. With the two girls chaperoning each other nothing could happen that anybody would take the wrong way, not even Akane.