Ranma's original plan to find some place to do a
little light training changed as he hopped past the
abandoned lot that had seen so many things over the
past year. Right now it held a young woman about his
own age, dressed in a formal white kimono and gripping
a piece of glinting metal in her hand.
He veered off from his course and landed lightly
behind the woman. This close he found it easy to
identify her, even in the lightless dark of the night.
Suddenly he was half-wishing that he had gone on past
her. He couldn't do that, though. Not considering
the knife in her hand and the clean white kimono she
was wearing.
"Hey, Kodachi," Ranma said, surprising her.
"Whatcha doing?"
"Ranma-sama," Kodachi said. "How is your wife?"
"She's visiting Kasumi and Tofu for the weekend,"
Ranma said. "What are you doing?"
"I see," Kodachi said. "Her other sisters are at
the Kuno Estate, Nabiki and my brother are housing
them."
"You mean Natsume and Kurumi?" Ranma asked.
"Yes," Kodachi said, wistfully. "Natsume is there.
I left a note to explain my apology to her."
"What do you need to apologize to her about?" Ranma
asked. "Is that why you're out here?"
"This is a private matter, Ranma-sama," Kodachi
said. "I am certain the whole of the truth will be
told to you later."
"What are you doing?" Ranma repeated, edging
closer.
"I suppose I should settle my affairs with you,"
she sighed. "My apologies to you Ranma-sama."
"What exactly for?" Ranma asked. He wondered
briefly if he could get the knife before Kodachi could
effectively use it.
"I never loved you," Kodachi said quietly.
"What?!" Ranma said in shock. He winced and
reminded himself not to get angry, at least not until
he had gotten the knife away from her.
"Well I did, but I didn't," Kodachi said. "When
the curse was revealed that made it clear."
"This isn't about me is it?" Ranma asked. "I
didn't do anything to you did I?"
"No, Ranma-sama," Kodachi said. "You are not to
blame."
"Then what is the problem?" Ranma asked.
"I needed you," Kodachi said simply. "To make
everything right. And when I learned of your curse I
was convinced everything was.
"What's this got to do with my curse?" Ranma asked.
~Almost close enough.~
"It was no longer important that I pursue you.
Especially as you'd already been claimed," Kodachi
sighed. "And there was always somebody else willing
to attend to me."
"Did something happen between you and your last
boyfriend?" Ranma asked. Kodachi had had a string of
them after he had married Akane. He forgot the name
of the man she was currently seeing. Actually he
wondered if even Kodachi knew them all.
"But I was wrong," she continued. "And there truly
is no way to escape the fact this time. My corruption
has been completed."
"What are you talking about?" Ranma demanded,
edging a little closer. It was, appropriately enough,
a knife's edge. She'd be inclined to explain if she
still held the knife. If he took it, she would be
angry and trying to get it back. He just didn't know
for sure how much he could learn before she went ahead
and stabbed.
"All that remains for me to do is to purify the
Kuno name, here," she said. "Where Hell first
arranged to have me damned. When I gave you that
first, single rose." Ranma looked around and finally
realized something.
"This is where we first met," Ranma said.
"Please leave Ranma-sama," Kodachi said. "I must
do this before I bring further shame on the Kuno
name."
"What did you do?" Ranma asked carefully.
"I couldn't help it," Kodachi said shakily, her
grip on the knife tightening. "There was no one home
except me and..." She sighed and turned to Ranma.
"Natsume is very beautiful, and her choice of training
attire is...quite inviting."
"Your boyfriend was looking at her or something?"
Ranma asked, knowing Kodachi's possessive jealous
streak. "You didn't do anything to Natsume did you?"
"I kissed her," Kodachi said with a twist of
self-disgust. Ranma stared at Kodachi in surprise.
"And...and...she's sleeping in my bed right now."
"You and Natsume," Ranma said, shocked. "Had sex?"
"You see why this must done," Kodachi said quietly.
"Bullshit," Ranma said, snatching the knife away
from Kodachi. He stepped away from her quickly.
"Ranma-sama," Kodachi shouted standing up and
facing Ranma. "Give that back, I need that."
"No you don't," Ranma snapped back. "You need to
wake up."
"I have woken up!" Kodachi shouted. "That is why I
am here! Before I bring further shame to the clan."
"Like hell," Ranma insisted, he took the knife and
snapped the blade off.
"NOO!!" Kodachi screamed as he tossed the sharp
edge into the night. "Do you so truly hate me? I'm
an aberration...I..." She slumped to the ground and
started crying. Ranma sighed and picked her up,
jumping to the rooftops, finally landing with his
sobbing charge in front of the Kuno estate.
He set Kodachi down, and the noblewoman stood off
to the side resignedly. Eventually an irritated
Nabiki responded to Ranma's knocking.
"Saotome," Nabiki said wearily. "It's three
o'clock in the morning, what are you...is that
Kodachi?"
"She was in the lot with a knife," Ranma said.
"What?" Nabiki said, waking up. Ranma saw someone
behind her. "Why?"
"Ask her," Ranma said. "Or her." He nodded his
head past Nabiki. His sister-in-law turned to see a
rather anxious looking Natsume. At least as anxious
as the serious woman ever got.
Kodachi looked up and saw Natsume before glancing
down in shame. Nabiki noticed the exchange and arched
an eyebrow.
"Okay," Nabiki said. "I'll keep an eye on her,
thanks Ranma. Shiro would be devastated if anything
happened to Aunty Kodachi."
"I should not..." Kodachi whispered.
"Oh be quiet," Nabiki said. "You've saved me
hundreds on babysitting the last three years. Come
on, let's get you some tea." She started to lead
Kodachi into the estate.
"The Tendo cure-all," Ranma said, smiling. "A cup
of tea." He faced Natsume for a moment. "Be careful
where you go from here."
"I did not know about this," Natsume said.
"Just be careful," Ranma said firmly. "I'll check
up on her tomorrow." He closed the door and started
walking home.