This fanfiction is based on "Genma's Daughter", by Deborah Goldsmith/ClassicalGal. The original story has been posted and can probably still be found here on fanfiction,net. The idea for this version came about because I wondered what might have happened if Genma had chosen to reveal the secret of Ranko's true gender at Jusenkyo, instead of relying on trickery to get him to fall into the Nyanniichuan. It's quite out of character for Genma to NOT keep on screwing up his child's life, but I though it would be interesting anyway.
For those who have not read the original (spoilers ahead) Ranma is actually Ranko, a girl who was born to Genma and Nodoka Saotome. Because Genma has no sons to marry to one of Soun Tendo's daughters, he decides to enlist Happosai's help in "solving his problem". He comes out of a drunken stupor to find his four year old daughter is now his four year old son. He then proceeds to run off with Ranma, and raise him as a boy, while trying to find some way to change him back. The storyline progresses exactly as in the canon, until the episode where Ranma meets his mother, where it diverges when Nodoka reveals that he was born a girl.
The central theme of this version of the story is that I get to reverse the initial scene between Ranma and Akane in the dojo, and then in the bath. While the original fanfic is very interesting in its analysis of Ranma's character, I'm really trying to give the same insights into Akane's.
Genma Tells His Daughter
by Richard Ryley
based on "Genma's Daughter" by Deborah Goldsmith
"Boy," Genma Saotome began. "Stop dawdling. We should be arriving at the valley of Jusenkyo by tomorrow."
Ranma Saotome scowled, and answered his father's accusations of laziness with a boot to the head. "I was getting a rock out of my shoe, Old Man, now shut the hell up!"
After a few moments as they walked along in silence, Ranma spoke up again. "Hey, Pops, are ya plannin' on making this an all night trek, or are we gonna camp for the night?" It was getting pretty late, and although the sun had not set yet, it would be soon.
Genma seemed to consider the question. "Are you in a hurry to see Jusenkyo, son?"
"Nah, you seen one training ground, you've seen 'em all. You just seem to be in a hurry somewhat, is all."
There was a moment of silence, and Ranma commented, offhandedly, "I wouldn't mind an all night hike if you're in that much of a hurry. I'm up to it."
Genma seemed to smile as he regarded his son. "No, boy, you're right. We should get something to eat and take the time to set up a camp. There's no hurry. I must admit I was getting anxious to see these training grounds. But it'll be tomorrow before we get there either way."
Ranma shrugged. "Might as well be well rested when we arrive, so we can take full advantage of it."
They hiked on for a while more before Genma found a spot he proclaimed suitable. He watched his son as they set about setting up the camp. More and more, he was growing proud of the boy, although he still had a stubborn streak a mile wide, and never did show the proper respect for his father. There was a grudging understanding between the two of them, though, and at moments like this, Genma could see his son's attempts to impress him.
It was a long way from the hurt, unhappy boy he had taken upon himself to raise at four years old. They had been alone, together, for far too long, far longer than he had ever anticipated. In many ways, it tore at him, knowing how he had failed his son so many times. He seemed happy, but...
Genma sighed. He had been thinking about this far more often lately, since he found out about Jusenkyo. He hoped finally this would set things right, but... could he trust in his plan to work? It revolved around so many variables, the timing at falling into the first spring, being able to catch Ranma off guard and knock him into the second. He knew full well how good Ranma had become lately, and he calculated only a 50/50 chance that he could actually catch him off guard. He was almost tempted to leave it to luck, but that wasn't good enough.
"Hey, Pops, whatcha so distracted for! If you want me to fix the food you'd better get with settin' up the tents!"
Dismissing his thoughts, Genma busied himself finishing up the last of the preparations. After that, they ate a simple meal, prepared by his son, of course. He wondered if perhaps this was a talent he had inherited from before. He had at first left the cooking to Ranma because it was just too much hassle for him to do it, but then he had started to think maybe Ranma liked it a bit. He tried to let the boy have what simple pleasures he could.
They settled in for the night around the campfire, and Genma found his memories playing back over the past. The days with his family, when Ranma was first born. The cooking of his wife, Nodoka, and how wonderful it was to be with her. He had searched for twelve years for a way back to his wife, to his family, and now it was almost within his grasp. He could even see the Tendos again, and enjoy the company of his good friend Soun, while seeing how his three daughters had turned out.
He had been writing to Soun a lot over the years, and Soun had seemed hopeful that Jusenkyo was the solution to his problem as well. It would be nice for he and Ranma to visit the Tendo girls again. Although Kirira had long since passed away (news that had deeply saddened him, despite his own problems at the time) Soun had noted that his eldest Kasumi was growing up very like her. He rarely said anything about Nabiki, but Genma gathered that she had become somewhat of a financial wizard. And Akane, of course, had expressed an interest in continuing the family's school of Anything Goes, just as they had expected. She had always been an active and aggressive little girl. She was so much like Ranma, and they had been so close...
Genma frowned at the friendships that had been destroyed by his sudden disappearance. He and Soun had talked many times, or written anyway, about various leads to resolve his problem, and allow Genma to finally come home. They had even, after exhausting all other possibilities, considered the idea of going ahead with the plan that had led to this disaster, and engage Ranma and Akane to each other. After all they loved each other so much as children, surely they would be just as close when introduced to one another again.
Yet, Genma's own memory of failures in the past made him worry. The Neko-Ken. The engagement to that Kounji girl. The many times they had been chased out of some village or temple. More and more, it was Ranma that was saving him from these little miscalculations, more than the other way around. This relied almost entirely on his misleading Ranma, and if he caught wind of the trick there might not be another chance. If he couldn't rely on Ranma's help, could he rely on being able to distract him? When he'd spent the boy's entire life teaching him not to be distracted?
He almost wished he hadn't been so adamant about the boy being a man amongst men. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but now... Ranma would obviously hate what Genma was about to do to him at Jusenkyo. Genma himself had made sure of that. But... was there some way to make him see that it wasn't all that bad? That perhaps he could still be himself, and play at being who his mother wanted him to be? If he talked it over with Ranma, would he be willing to go to such lengths to see his mother again? So that Genma could see his wife again?
Almost regretting the decision as soon as he opened his mouth, Genma spoke. "Son... are you asleep?"
There was a short silence, and then a bleary response. "Nah, not yet, Pop. Whaddya want?"
Genma smiled at his son's grouchy attitude. "This... This Jusenkyo sounds like it will be a wonderful place. I have heard that its springs have magical qualities. It should be the perfect place to train."
Ranma snorted. "Magic, Pops? Geez, I think you've lost it."
"No, no. I have seen the effects. And come on, boy, with all the things we have seen, don't tell me you don't believe in magic."
"I don't believe in any magic, Pops, but what I can use ta win a fight. You taught me that."
Genma chuckled. "True. But I'm sure this Jusenkyo is real. I doubted it too, at first. But I decided to check it out. I found someone who had actually been there."
Ranma snorted again. "Sure thing, Pops. It'll probably be nuthin'. Let's go to sleep."
There was a short silence. "Ranma... do you remember your mother?"
Ranma looked up. His father rarely called him by name except when he was yelling at him. And there was a faraway quality in his voice. Ranma almost just laughed dismissively, but something stopped him.
He thought for a moment. "Naw, Pop. I don't. I thought... well, I thought she was dead or somethin'."
"No, no, she's very much alive." His voice lowered slightly. "Or at least, I hope so..."
"Hm." Ranma frowned as he considered this. "So, if Mom's still around, how come ya haven't taken me ta see her?"
There was a long, silence. When he spoke again, Genma's voice had that tone it usually took on when he was being overdramatic. "Your father... has done something horrible, Ranma. Terrible! I... I can't face your mother until I correct it."
Ranma did snort this time. "Figures. Yer such an idiot, Pops."
"Yes... and this is something I did to you, my son. Something..." Suddenly, his voice lowered, almost as if he were serious. "Something I'm really sorry for."
Ranma sat up. His father had never said he was sorry for any of the things he did to him. "You mean the N-Neko-Ken?"
"Not the Neko-Ken, son. Worse than the Neko-Ken. Way worse than the Neko-Ken." Genma put a hand to his face. He might have been wiping a tear away... but no, Ranma discarded that thought as soon as he had it. Pops would fake crying at the drop of a hat, but he never cried for REAL.
"How could anything be worse than the N-N-Neko-Ken?" Ranma shuddered.
Genma sighed. "It was when I left with you, Ranma. When I ran away with you on this training trip. When I left your mother and our home and... and I took you away with me."
Ranma sat up and stared at his father. He was looking back at him, with a look in his eyes he had never seen before. A haunted, pained look. This was no joke, he was not teasing or kidding around. He was serious.
"So... the reason you ran away with me was because of... this thing you did? That's why we've been on the road all this time?"
Genma nodded. "I thought you did that to train me," Ranma continued. "So I'd be the best martial artist in Japan."
"I did want you to be the best martial artist in Japan, Ranma, and I still do. But I could have done that from home." Genma hung his head. "But I couldn't go home again after what I did."
"What... what did you do?"
Genma was silent a moment, staring off into space. To be honest, he was trying to think of the best way to explain it, without scaring the boy. Or worse, sending him off in a blind rage where he would want to kill Genma, or worse.
"I... I always wanted a son, Ranma. A son just like you." The old man smiled at him. "A son I could be proud of, who would be a man, and carry on the school of Anything Goes."
Ranma blushed. "Well, yeah, Pops... all men want to have sons I guess. To... carry on their name." This subject always made Ranma uncomfortable. He always felt wrong, off, like there was something in his heart that balked at this. He knew he wanted to have a family someday, but thinking about it in any detail always made him feel... empty. And often, perverted.
"The thing is, when I finally got the son I wanted, I... I had to do something. Something awful. I... At the time I had a Master, Happ..." He looked around him, as if worried someone was listening. "I won't say his name, but he was my Master at the time. He trained both me, and an old friend, Soun Tendo."
"He was very powerful, he taught me all the techniques of Anything Goes. And he knew great magic, too. He didn't use a lot of spells, but he knew where to get his hands on some. He knew all sorts of things like that."
Genma fell silent, and Ranma found himself confused. He wasn't sure what this was leading to. But there was something in the back of his mind, some twinge, that made him feel uneasy. He had been touched by magic before, and some sense had always alerted him to it. It was almost like he knew what it was like to be enchanted, and it always brought up vague, disturbing memories for him. Those memories were surfacing right now, a tiny, wrinkled old man, and a sensation of being... wrong.
"Do you... do you remember anything about the day we left, Ranma? Or your life before that?" Genma looked at him, hopefully.
Ranma couldn't shake the disturbing feeling in his gut. "Naw, Pop. I... don't remember nuthin' from back then." He stroked his chin, thoughtfully. "I guess it was too long ago. All I remember is being with you, and growin' up on the road. What... what was mom like? Or... our house?"
"Your mother had red hair." Genma laughed quietly, with a smile on his face. He wasn't looking at Ranma. "Especially when she was younger. It had turned about red-brown by the time we got married. Our house... I don't know." He sighed. "It was just a normal house, nice, but we couldn't afford much. I hardly remember it myself..."
Something surfaced from the darkness of Ranma's memory. A flash of red hair, and sadness. Someone crying. Reaching out to that person, hurting as they hurt. But not red hair, black, short blue black hair. And then comfort, two women, comforting them.
It was all too vague for Ranma to get any images from it, but it was almost immediately followed by a wave of uneasiness. A sense that things were all wrong. A feeling that Ranma had felt many times in his life, but had always kept pushed firmly down. I am a man, he said to himself, a man amongst men, and I'm not afraid of anything. I am proud of what I've done, and who I am. Those words always made the bad feeling go away. But this time, it only made it sit in his stomach, and rest there, making him feel nauseated.
Not noticing Ranma's reaction, Genma continued. "I was afraid of that. You see... son... I've been lying to you. I've lied to you about... your name. And I've lied to you about who you are. You are my child but... you're... you're not my son. You..."
Genma's voice trailed off, as he struggled to continue. Ranma's eyes widened. "You mean I'm... um... adopted or somethin'?" This sort of made sense. If Pops had stolen a child or... Ranma balked at the idea of his father not being faithful to his mother, but the idea still flitted across his thoughts. That would explain why he felt he could not return to his wife.
Genma shook his head, though. "No, no... you are my child. But..." He sighed deeply, and looked at the ground. "You are my... daughter, not my son. I... Happ... the Master... he... he turned you into a boy."
That queasy feeling in his stomach shot up into his throat, and it took every thing he had to keep it from going further. Still, it took several minutes for Ranma to recover enough to be able to speak, and when he did, his voice was hoarse. "What? ... What do you mean?"
"You were born a girl, son. ... daughter." Genma's gaze was still turned to the ground. "Your name was Ranko. You had friends... a BEST friend, that you hung out with all the time. I... I took all that away from you and then... I took you away..."
"You mean, I... You mean I... I'm a... a... stupid, weak, silly GIRL?" Ranma was trying to fight the rising sense of panic in him. He wanted to deny this. It had to be a joke. "You're kidding, right? That isn't funny, Pops!"
"It's not a joke, son. It's the truth." Genma looked up, and noted the anger he had expected to see at this revelation. He was a bit unnerved to see a bit of fear as well. "This doesn't change how I feel about you, Ranma. You've been a good son, and I'm very proud of you. You've become a real... man amongst men... and that doesn't have to change. You're a man NOW, son, and if that makes you happy, then I'm glad."
Ranma suddenly turned away. The contents of his stomach were threatening to come up again. Something had begun screaming inside his head, something he fought very hard not to listen to. With a great deal of effort, he managed to keep control of both his stomach and the raging going on inside his head.
"I can't return to your mother as long as you're a boy, though. She'll..." he lowered his head. "Well, she'll kill me. My old friend... Soun Tendo... I can't go see him, either. I haven't been back home, to Nerima, in years, and even if I stopped by for a visit, there is still a chance Nodoka would find out about me. About you."
"Why are ya tellin' me this, Pop?" Ranma had managed to regain his focus, but he could now sense feelings he had been supressing for years rising up in him, fighting to break out. He felt... ashamed. Pop was proud of him for being a man. But those feelings were rising up, feelings of not wanting to be... a man. Pop would... Pop would hate him. "Girls are weak. Girls are a distraction from the Art. I can't be a girl."
Genma winced. "Actually, son... I wasn't really serious about most of that. I... Well, I lied to you, son."
His words hit Ranma worse than a betrayal. "What?"
"You..." Genma studied him, an apologetic look in his eyes. "You remember how you used to tell me it was so hard being a boy? And I said that all men felt that way? I... It's not true, Ranma. I just told you that because I thought that if you felt trapped in a body you hated all your life, you'd feel better if you were proud that you overcame those feelings."
"What?" Ranma started to feel tears coming to his eyes, and blinked them harshly away. Men don't cry. "Do you know... do you know how bad I felt about that?"
"I know, son," Genma put a hand on his shoulder. "But you overcame that, right? You're proud to be a man, now, aren't you?"
Inwardly, Ranma shuddered, at the knife being twisted in his heart. But outwardly, he managed a nod. "You're right. I don't want to be a weak girl. I'm a man, and I'm proud of being a man." It had to be true, right? After all, he said it, he meant it. So it had to be true.
Genma smiled though. "It's no SO bad, being a girl. Girls aren't really... well, MOST of them aren't fighters, but some can be fighters. It's just, most girls don't WANT to follow the Art, they would rather hang out with their friends and go shopping, and have babies and stuff like that."
"Your mother, though..." He shuddered a bit, and got that faraway look in his eyes again, this time looking fearful instead of longing. "She is quite tough. And dangerous with that katana of hers. I always hoped that you would inherit her spirit." He glanced at Ranma, and there was suddenly regret in his eyes. "At first it didn't look like it..." His expression then cleared as he smiled. "But you have definitely turned out to be a great martial artist."
Ranma seemed to be considering this, while still trying to ignore his pounding heartbeat. But what his father was saying was making sense. Maybe he... she... inherited his love of the Art from his mother. But he was still his father's son. He could still be a man.
He looked up. "Well, that's all in the past, right? Whether I was a girl before, I'm a guy now, and I can't change that. Right?"
"Well... that's kind of why I'm telling you this." Genma studied him for a moment. "I've been searching for a way to change you back. Or, to undo the spell Happos... the Master put on you. I've been all over looking for a way to undo the spell, but apparently the Master chose some sort of magic that is so strong it can't be dispelled."
"It may be able to be reversed, though. This training ground, Jusenkyo... it turns out that the springs at this training grounds are cursed. If you fall into one of the springs, you turn into whatever drowned there, a thousand years ago or so. Most of the springs turn you into some sort of animal; we wouldn't want that, although it would be interesting to see if some of the forms could be used for a martial arts style..." Genma's voice trailed off at this, and he seemed to be thinking about it.
Ranma grew impatient, and hit him over the head. "Get on with it, Old Man."
"Oh, yeah. Anyway, it turns out, though that one of the springs most readily available, right near the entrance to the valley, in fact, is the Spring of Drowned Girl. It will turn you into a girl."
"What? No way, Old Man! You're not turnin' me into some stupid girl! What, are you crazy?" Part of Ranma was infuriated with his father for even thinking of such a thing, particularly if he really was proud of him being a guy. Another part was absolutely terrified, for a reason he couldn't identify. All he knew was that the idea of being a girl... it left him shaking with fear.
"It won't be permanent!" Genma was quick to point out, putting up his hands. "The curses all work the same way, when you are splashed with cold water you turn into your cursed form, but hot water will change you back. Don't you see? It's perfect! You'll be able to be a man all you want to be, and yet you can change back to your original self and be a girl any time you want to!"
"And why would I WANT to?" Ranma protested, still managing to keep his anger at the forefront, overwhelming whatever that other feeling was.
"We'll be able to go see your mother again!" Genma responded, and Ranma drew up, considering it. It would be nice to see his... mother. Of course, she would expect him to be a girl, and dress up like...
"No way," Ranma shook his head. "I ain't girlin' up in dresses and stuff just to see my Mom. This is the stupidest idea you've ever had, Pop."
Genma winced a bit, but then tried again. "Look, you don't have to wear a dress. Girls these days are all tough and play at being men and wear men's clothes. It's all the rage with the kids and teenagers. Probably the influence from America..." He frowned a bit, but then smiled. "No one will mind if you act like a guy and wear guy's clothes as a girl. And we can tell everyone, truthfully, that I raised you as a boy, since I wanted you to be a martial artist."
He paused a moment, hoping to drive the point home. "Plus, I told you about my friend Soun Tendo. His daughter, Akane, used to be really good friends with you. It would be nice to visit my old friend again, and you might find you like Akane. She's a martial artist, like you are, and the two of you might become good friends again."
"Why would I want to be friends with some GIRL?" Ranma said, turning to look away. Yet, there was something deep inside him that really liked that thought. Rather than being encouraging, it only made him more frightened.
Genma grinned. "The two of you used to spar all the time when you were little. Akane would often beat you."
Ranma looked up. "She sure can't beat me now!" He protested, his pride stung.
"You'll never know unless you try..."
Ranma frowned. He really didn't want to go through with this, but it was starting to sound more appealing. "Well... I guess it ain't so bad. After all, there might be some new techniques I might be able to learn, having a female body." He looked thoughtful, "That is, if girls aren't as much weaker than guys as you said. It... it would be a challenge... if I have to learn a new way to fight..."
"That's true." Genma paused a moment, musing on his thoughts about the animal curses. "There is a spring nearby that turns a person into a panda. A panda would have great physical strength, and yet still be able to stand upright..."
Ranma shook his head as he studied his father. "You've definitely come up with a crazy idea this time, Pop... but I'll tell you what, if you curse yourself to turn into a panda, I'll go ahead and jump in this Spring of Drowned Girl."
"Deal." Genma grinned.
Ranma blew out his breath. "Are you even sure this is gonna work, Pop? I mean, yeah, we've run into magic and stuff before, but what if this is so much hot air?"
"Not to worry, boy," Genma said. "I happened to find someone who had actually been cursed at Jusenkyo. He demonstrated it for me, pouring hot and cold water over himself. I know it will work. Now let's get some rest. Tomorrow will be a busy day, and then we'll start having to make plans to head back to Japan."
Ranma was in the pit. It was a nightmare that he had often, sometimes as much as once a week. They used to be once or more a night, back when it actually happened. But in his dream, he was back in the pit again, surrounded by cats, clawing and biting him.
"No, no!" He cried, trying to shield his face from the claws. "I don't want to learn the Neko-Ken. Let me out!"
He then heard a female voice say, "Ranko dear, don't hold the cat like that. You'll get cat hair on your dress." He looked down, and noticed that he was wearing a dress. A pretty floral print dress. The cats were clawing at it and shredding it. At first he was a little boy, wearing a dress, but then, as the cats continued to shred it, and claw at her hair and face, Ranko realized that she was a little girl, about two years younger.
The cats' mewling started to sound like voices. "Ranko. Ranko." They were saying. "You're a girl. You're a girl." Ranko huddled in the pit, wrapping her arms around herself in terror. "You'll never get out. You'll never get out. You'll be trapped here with us forever."
The clawing at her hair continued, and Ranko saw wisps of red. Blood? No, hair. Red hair. "Mommy!" She cried out. "Help me!" The cats continued to call her name, taunt her with the fact that she was a girl. "Don't make me learn this Neko-Ken! I won't hold the cat any more, I swear!"
Suddenly, warm hands were around her, and pulling her out of the pit. Someone was there, her mother, the vaguest of memories of what she looked like. But there was hair, red hair. She held her daughter tight, soothing her. Ranko cried on her mother's shoulder.
There was more crying from nearby. Ranko was alone in the blackness, and then she took a step forward. She was in a sandbox - no had just stepped out of a sandbox. The red hair, was her mother there? No, it was just her. She looked down at her hair, a child's hair, fine and silky, cascading over her shoulder, a firey red. She stumbled forward, at the sobs in front of her. She had a shovel in her hand.
It was a little girl, her age. She had blue-black hair, and was wearing a pretty dress like hers. She huddled in the arms of her mother, and Ranko's heart tore at the pain in her voice. She clutched a broken shovel in her tiny hand, and her mother stroked her gently, murmuring soft words.
Ranko touched her shoulder and the girl looked up at her. Dark, expressive brown eyes met her own, red with tears. She held out her shovel. "Don't cry, 'Kane. You're my bestest friend."
Ranma sat up in the darkness, crying out. His father mumbled something, but thankfully did not awaken to berate him for making so much noise. Ranma struggled to get his heartbeat under control, part of him ashamed at being so weak as to be terrified by nightmares.
He had never dreamed about being a girl before. But as the memories brought up by the dream resurfaced and reinforced each other, he found himself shivering. It was true. He had thought that maybe his Pop was pulling his leg, or that this Jusenkyo thing was just some sort of kick he was on. Even the part of him that accepted that his father was telling the truth didn't totally think through what it really meant. In the back of his mind, Ranma was still a boy, and being told that he was born a girl hadn't really sunk in.
But now he KNEW. He remembered... his childhood. His girlhood. Being a girl, with... with long red hair, wearing dresses, and playing in the sandbox. Crying and being comforted by his... her mother.
Ranma put his hands to his face, shivering. He was... he was a girl. Really a girl. It seemed to be overwhelming him, the barriers he had put in place to those memories and feelings shattering before the storm. His father had lied to him, lied about everything. Was he lying now? Were there even more horrors waiting for him at Jusenkyo? What would happen once they returned home?
Just as it was about to get too much, the memory of those brown eyes returned, and her own voice offering those words. "You're my bestest friend." Akane Tendo. That's what her father had said was the name of his friend's daughter. The one that used to be his friend. He hadn't ever remembered her before, her name had meant nothing to him, and yet, here was this memory from her childhood. Her bestest friend, whose pain meant more to her than her own.
Somehow, thinking about that little black haired girl with the brown eyes, Ranma's churning fears and emotions started to settle down. Focusing on her, as if she were some sort of mantra, Ranma regained his control, and laid back down to sleep.
The next day, Ranma and Genma came up to the Springs of Jusenkyo. The guide started into his speech about the "tragic legends", but Ranma just waved him off.
"Yeah, yeah, we know all about it. So which one is the Spring of Drowned Girl, Pop?"
Genma consulted his map, noting the two he had circled in pencil. "I'm pretty sure it's... this one right here." He walked over and stopped in front of a spring.
"You sure it's the right one?" Ranma said uncertainly.
"Oh, yes, this Spring of Drowned Girl," the Jusenkyo Guide said. "Very tragic legend of young girl who die here, one thousand, five hundred year ago."
Ranma stared down into the waters. Something inside him wanted very badly to step into that pool. But the greater part of him was too parylized with fear to move.
"Are you going to stand there all day, boy, or..."
"Just shut up, Old Man, and give me a minute!" Ranma snapped. Then he turned and glared at his father angrily. "Or I'm turning and walking away from this place right now!"
Genma wisely held his tongue. After several more minutes of watching his son just standing there starting into the water, Genma finally started to get bored. "I'm going to go check out this Spring of Drowned Panda." He said, walking over to the next spring over.
"Oh, yes, that Spring of Drowned Panda, very tragic... Mr. Customer, what you do?" The Guide called out, as Genma just waded out into the spring. He dunked himself under, and disappeared, as the Guide continued to call out for him to stop and come back.
There was a moment's silence, in which even Ranma stopped to look at the quiet pond, and then the surface of the water was broken by a massive splash. A panda bear surfaced, and stood upright in the middle of the spring. It looked down at its paws, then it's body, and growfed in satisfaction. It still had Genma's glasses hanging down from the side of its face, although it did not seem to need them, and his gi hung loosely off of one arm.
"Ah, Mr. Customer, you are very strange one, yes?" The Guide said. He turned and walked back to his hut.
Ranma stared for a moment, his eyes wide, but then he just shook his head. "You really are an idiot, Old Man."
Genma came over and started trying to lecture him, but then realized he could not speak. Frustrated, he stopped and started thinking.
"You'll need to get some paper to write on or something," Ranma commented. Then he looked down at the spring. "Well, I guess that confirms that you're right about this one, too."
Steeling himself as if about to walk through a lake of fire, Ranma stepped into the spring. He felt a tingling beginning in his body, but it was not too intense. After a moment, he waded in deeper, and submerged his head under the surface. The tingling immediately became stronger, spreading out over his whole body, and there was a definate sensation of his body shifting, changing, flowing from one place to another.
She broke the surface of the water. She knew the change had taken place instantly, but still took a moment to prepare herself for the reality. Her hands shaking a little, she looked down, and slowly opened her gi. Ranma's face turned beet red, and closing her eyes, she pulled the gi shut.
She waded out of the water, her arms wrapped firmly around her chest, blushing deeply. "I can't believe I let you talk me into this, Old Man! I... I just... I can't BELIEVE I let you talk me into this!"
The panda growfed at her, and she grinned. "Guess I don't have to listen to you bellyache about how I'm a weak silly girl, now." The panda looked hurt. "Oh, don't worry. It doesn't seem all that bad." She did a few katas to test out her new body. "I think I'm faster than I was before. But I'm not nearly as strong. Gonna have to compensate for that."
The panda was still staring at her, and Ranma started to feel uncomfortable. As she looked down at herself, she noticed the wet gi was sticking to her skin. Her blush returned as she wrapped her arms around herself again. "Geez! Pop! I never expected ya to be a pervert or nuthin'!"
The panda quickly turned away, but the Guide had returned from his hut with some hot water. The panda poured it over his head, while the Guide looked over Ranma. "You very strange ones, very strange ones indeed. Many people come to Jusenkyo, fall into springs, but very few actually step into them..."
Ranma waved her hand dismissively again. "Yeah, yeah, we knew all about it. Let's just say I had my reasons."
Genma, meanwhile, had returned to human form and slipped back into his gi. "I'm sorry for staring, boy... um, I mean, Ranma but..." He paused a moment to stare at his reborn daughter.
"You... you look just like your mother."
Ranma blushed and looked at herself. She still kept her arms wrapped over her chest, to hide what the cold water was doing to her body. "I do?"
"I told you that she had red hair," Genma said with a smile. "So did you, as a little girl. Apparently, you still do."
Ranma turned to look at her hair, then her pigtail, which was, indeed, a bright flaming red. She should have expected that, after the dream, but it was still a shock. Genma turned to walk over to their packs. "Let me get you a dry gi, and then you can change in the Guide's hut."
The Guide looked at them. "Mr. Customer not want hot water?"
Genma started, having not considered that. He looked at Ranma, but she shook her head. "No... no," she said. "I think I want to try this out for a while. If you're right, Pop," She looked at him, "I haven't been a girl in twelve years. Maybe I should get a feel for what it's like."
Ranma took the gi that her father offered, and headed into the hut to change. She tried not to think about the feelings of relief and comfort that were washing over her.