Oh, well, here's last chapter! I'm very fond of this story cause is the second I ever managed to finish and the one I put the most work on :D
Thank you all for R&R and being patient with all the changes and repostings! (yeah, you specially VlightPhase)
The two months had passed and it seemed all Nerima was holding its breath in anticipation of the upcoming fight. A crowd had gathered around the arranged arena: the vacant lot right around the block from the Tendo Dojo. Nabiki roamed the boisterous crowd she had gathered, taking bets. Ukyo was smiling for the huge amount of okonomiyaki she had sold already. Soun and Genma played shougi on the sidelines while Kasumi served tea.
Ranma was dozing in the center of the arena. She sneezed herself awake and sniffed back a huge dangling booger. Akane scowled darkly at the red-head.
"Haven't you overdone it a bit?"
"Feh! To lose this time's to win so I'm gonna make sure Shampoo gets her way." Ranma said, attempting to straighten up. "I didn't slept or eat in the last three days. I fought Ryoga and Kuno all morning and I told Kodachi I want her out of my life an hour ago!" She sneezed again and shuddered. "And I spent all night in the pond. Shampoo can't lose now…"
She laughed in anticipation of the upcoming defeat, before collapsing stiffly to the ground. Akane sighed and picked her up. Ranma had done everything on his power to even the odds. The rest was up to Shampoo.
It was five minutes passed the scheduled hour when a column of students solemnly parted. Shampoo and Cologne approached the arena. It was quite an accomplishment for someone with such a babyish face and small sizes to look like a badass but Shampoo managed. The black tight pants, sleeveless shirt, red-blood leather breastplate and metal arm-bands aided some, but it was the hardened gaze and the bandages covering her arms and face what imposed a stunned silence in the crowd and wiped the confident smirk off Ranma's face.
Akane quickly joined her family in the peripheries, her hands closed into tight fists. Shampoo just had to win. She hoped Ranma remembered that if things got ugly.
"Okay, you two." Cologne said. "Surrender or knock out. Begin!"
Shampoo dropped to ground on hands and feet, letting out a low piercing yowl before she leaped at her opponent with a raised hand. Ranma's eyes widened, taken aback by her speed, and raised an arm to block. She hissed in pain as deep cuts slashed across her forearm. Shampoo's hands blurred and the red-head dodged and jumped to avoid their stinging bite. Her cloths were not so lucky and ripped pieces off fabric flew around them like confetti.
"Those moves!" Genma gasped, kicking the shogui board right before Soun made a winning move. "C-can it be?!"
"The Nekoken, yes it can." Cologne stated, pleased with herself. Kasumi handed her a cup of tea. "Thank you, dear."
"But for her to do that…" Akane gasped and glared at the old woman. "How could you that to her!?"
"Do what to her?"
"The Nekoken heightens the abilities of those who master it, but it demands as much as it gives!" Soun stated ominously. Nabiki handed him a microphone. "The user must develop a maddening phobia of felines to submerge into a state of the most primal fury!"
The crowd gasped, stunned and avalanched towards Nabiki, demanding to change their bets.
"The Nekoken improves speed, reflexes and strength but a mindless opponent is hardly difficult to defeat if one can keep up." Cologne stated, her huge eyes narrowed as she watched the fight. "The consequences of the traditional training methods make it a liability more than anything else. Only an idiot would not see that."
Everyone turned to glare at Genma and found a still dripping panda sitting on his place.
"Shampoo had an advantage that allowed her to learn the secrets of the Nekoken without giving up her sanity."
"She turns into a cat!" Akane said in sudden realization.
"She's being a cat since we reached China two months ago. She spent the first month surviving alone in the jungle and trained with me the next. I wasn't sure it would work but look at her go!"
Ranma winced when a slashing hand passed her throat, leaving faint marks. A kick connected to her ribs and sent her rolling to the floor. In a second, the red-head was back on her feet to slap aside a flying fist. Shampoo hissed and flipped over her to avoid a brutal kick. Ranma spun around with breath-taking speed and slammed a foot on the Amazon's side. The smirk on her face banished as Shampoo grabbed her leg.
The crowd grimaced in sympathy as Shampoo flung Ranma over her shoulder and slammed her on the floor. She swung her around like a rag doll and slammed her again on the other side. She would have done it again if the dazed red-head wouldn't have dug her fingers and teeth on the ground. As Shampoo tried to snatch her back, Ranma bent her leg and slammed her free foot on the girl's face. The Amazon lost the hold but immediately pounced on Ranma. The red-head rolled desperately out of the way and Shampoo's fist slammed into the ground. The earth cracked open.
Ranma staggered to her feet and desperately jumped and dodged to avoid Shampoo's furious blows. She regretted bitterly not being in top shape. The old woman had turned the Amazon, a competent but flawed opponent, into someone worth facing. A fist passed her cheekbone, cutting the skin, and Ranma sneezed. Shampoo cried out and shuddered in disgust as the spittle rained right on her face. The crowd clamored their own gross out with a mighty 'ewww'. Ranma did not lose a beat.
"Kachu Tenshin Amaguri Ken!"
"Ranma no baka! You're supposed to loose!"
Akane screamed in outrage as Ranma's hand blurred. The Amazon staggered back, taking several blows to the face. One of her hands flashed upwards and halted a blow, then another and another. Shampoo's arms blurred as she blocked Ranma's fists. The red-head twisted around and threw a slower but heavier punch to the face. Shampoo shielded and left her stomach open to receive a lashing foot. It impacted solidly against her ribs. Ranma yowled and slapped a hand away from the pit of her stomach. Shampoo's outstretched finger stabbed her a few inches above the hip instead. Ranma jumped back to get some distance between them, and fell flat on her butt as her left leg buckled under her. It had gone completely numb and would not move.
"Hey, what the hell?!"
The Amazon smiled sinisterly and advanced slowly towards Ranma as she stood precariously on one leg. The crowd held its breath, stunned by the strange twist the battle was taking.
"Not nice beat up in front of all you people, yes?"
"Hey! I'm tired, I'm hungry and I'm sick!"
"You whine like Mousse."
"I Do Not whine like Mousse."
Cologne groaned. Training children was lots of fun, but at times it was also really frustrating. She had warmed Shampoo, repeatedly, about slowing down the initial charge to gloat. Ranma, not any better than her stupid protégée, was quickly forgetting the stakes as the freezing aura building around her testified.
Shampoo pounced on Ranma, yowling, and threw a blow with an outstretched finger. It was dodged and so the next and the next. Hissing in anger, she shifted to amaguriken speed. The red-head winced, her right arm going numb as her shoulder took a hit to protect her chest. Shampoo heaved.
"You better no move no more. If I press wrong shiatsu you never walk again!"
"And you better pay more attention to what your opponent's doing!"
Shampoo's eyes widened. The air around them was freezing and whirling madly. Akane and Cologne were yelling. Ranma's hard eyes glinted.
"Hiryū Shōten Ha!"
Ranma landed a brutal uppercut and Shampoo screamed as the world turned into a freezing, deafening hell. The crowd gasped in shock as a huge twister roared to life before them. It cleared soon to reveal only Ranma standing in the arena. She sneezed several times and fell on her but.
"Sorry, Shampoo." She drawled, rubbing her nose with the back of her hand. "I win again."
"YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO LOOSE, BAKA!"
Akane, Soun and Genma jumped on Ranma and started beating the crap out of her. Mr Pu approached hesitantly and sneaked a kick and a punch before scurrying away. The crowd whispered, discussing the events. Many male-and some female- voices proclaimed readiness to mend Shampoo's broken heart after losing Akane. Ukyo sighed and, due to the huge sellout, raised the price slightly.
"The fight is not yet over." Cologne stated ominously, staring up.
"Oh, that's a relief." Kasumi smiled.
The crowd silenced as Shampoo came plunging down from the sky. Ranma dragged from under Soun, Genma and Akane's feet but the flaring blue hue surrounding the falling Amazon was enough of a hint to stay away. Shampoo twisted in the air and landed neatly on hands and knees. She looked up at Ranma, blood dripping from her mouth and nose.
She slammed a fist against the floor, digging a finger in the hardened soil. The ground imploded. It was an impressive demonstration that had the crowd gasping but only raised a lot of dust...and broke a pipe. Water rushed out of the crack and engulfed the Amazon.
Ranma gasped and shuddered as an horrifying creature emerged seconds later from the rushing water. Its paws touched the floor but made no sound. Its gleaming demonic eyes fixed on him. Wicked jaws snapped open in a nightmarish wail. Drooling fangs would soon dig on his flesh and bones. The red-head hid behind Akane, moaning and stuttering.
"NO, THIS AIN'T FAR!"
"I say it is." Cologne stated with a pleased smile. "You can surrender."
"I do not surrender!"
Ranma snarled, facing the old woman and then jumped back from a glowing, glaring Akane. A piercing hideous screech precluded the sudden apparition of the horrifying monster right in front of her. The red-head howled and jumped back, hopping with stunning speed with her only functional leg around the field, the useless arm flailing disgustingly with each jump. The small spitting kitten that was Shampoo gave chase, her fur puffed out.
"Ranma-kun, this is more pathetic than actually surrendering!"
Nabiki informed loudly. The crowd nodded and murmured in agreement. It suddenly dawned on Ranma that she was going to lose. And to a girl! Enraged, she closed her eyes tightly, stopped abruptly and whirled around, swinging the numb leg like a club. She felt the cat jumping and threw a powerful punch. Everyone cringed and winced in sympathy as Shampoo yowled and flew backwards for the force of the blow. She hit a wall and fell limply on the ground.
A pale Akane rushed to the fallen animal. Her heart dropped to her feet. She was unconscious. Ranma, Cologne and Nabiki hurried to her side as she cradled the batter cat against her chest. Her sister glanced at her briefly and announced the result to the crowd. The few clueless and horny-heads that bet for Shampoo groaned and collapsed to their knees.
"Oh, well. It was fun."
Cologne sighed and turned to Ranma. She jabbed the pointy end of her staff on her shoulder and above the hip. The red-head winced as her numb arm and leg started prickling painfully. It took some seconds to recover full mobility. Despite the huge gap of skill, Shampoo always managed to get the adrenaline pumping. Ranma smiled fondly.
"I won't marry Ranma."
The smile banished and she whirled on Akane, the shock strong enough that it allowed her to overlook the hideous monster between her arms. The look she sent her, however, was no less terrifying. It made Ranma remembered all of the sudden what the challenge was all about. She cringed.
"Don't be hard on the boy, child. He's got pride, there's nothing wrong with that." Cologne said fondly, taking the cat carefully from Akane. "It's disappointing he's not fitting to marry my Shampoo."
"What da ya mean I ain't fitting!?" Ranma snarled.
"Would you stop?!" Akane snarled, smacking the red-head on the back of the head.
"You're afraid of cats." Cologne sated in mock shock. "I won't have my heir marry someone afraid of a litter of kittens. It would be embarrassing!"
"But you—since we met-you-no, you..." Ranma's eyes blazed, burning chi flamed around her trembling body. Cologne passed Shampoo quickly to Akane again. "I'M GONNA KILL YA!"
Half of Nerima was destroyed that day and enraged citizens demanded Ranma and Akane get married immediately to avoid further incidents. When the blushing stammering children refused, the angry mob marched to burn down the Dojo. Marriage licenses were promptly signed. And so, the fiancée war came to an end.
A week later, Kasumi threw out a celebration party to cover the traditional aspect of marriage and mend the wounded reputation of the Tendo family among dear neighbors. As she spent her days in the kitchen and preparing the decorations, the rest of the family worked furiously to nullify all threats and avoid a potential disaster.
Ranma cared for Ukyo and so she had to be officially invited. Unfortunately, somebody filled Tokyo with ads of her restaurant promising great discounts for tourists right on the day of the wedding. The poor girl had to deal with a horde of mostly elderly people babbling in several languages -incidentally, none of which was Japanese- demanding discounts and 'two big mozzarellas and a peperoni'. The sight of so many dollars and stunning tips kept a smile on her sweaty twitching face.
Kodachi was a psychopath but she was capable of feeling affection and there wasn't one single creature in the world she loved most than her crocodile pet. She had raised the belligerent creature since it was an egg and so its disappearance two days before the wedding- and the threatening letter left on the creak regarding its future if any Kuno approached the Tendo Dojo on the weeding day- was enough to keep her away. Tatatewaki was probably down in a drug-induced coma.
The old leech was still conventionally absent; Mousse had 'mistakenly' taken a flight to Peru as he followed Cologne around at the airport of Benjiin two months ago. They knew nothing about him yet. Ryoga popped up in the middle of the ceremony, just when Ranma landed a soft quick kiss to Akane's lips. He remained comatose for the rest of the party. Since Nabiki- after a confusing exchange with Akane in a dark alley- did not invited anyone outside of the official guest list, only friends and family members arrived. Thus, the party was spent in peace.
After dancing with all guests and with Ranma beating the crap out of a panda in the far corner for unknown reasons, Akane decided the time 'to be cute' was over and the elaborate dress, hairdo and shoes had to go. She approached the banquet table where Shampoo and Cologne rested. The Amazon sat crouched on the chair, staring intently at her fist. Her fingers opened and a fly escaped. She caught it again using both hands and released it a moment later. The poor insect was easily recaptured. Shampoo took it slowly to her opened mouth.
"Don't!" Cologne snapped.
Shampoo flinched and released the bug. It flew away and directed her attention to the smiling Akane.
"I'm dying on this dress. Help me change?"
Akane loosened the tight strings of the ceremonial dress and removed it carefully. She set it on the closet with a soft smile. Her head and feet bumped once freed of their beautiful but vicious ornaments. She took a moment to look at herself in the mirror. She didn't look different- saved for her hair being slightly longer- but she felt changed for everything that had happened since Ranma had come crushing into her life. The world was no longer a safe place but she had learned to appreciate life differently and not to take death lightly. She had learned to accept love and cherish it in all its forms.
Shampoo sat crouched on the bed, licking her hand and then rubbing her face with it. Akane wrinkled her nose a little but she just couldn't stop smiling. She leaned into the closet in search of a more comfortable and casual dress.
"Why did Cologne make you fight if she had already made a decision?"
Shampoo growled softly.
"Great-grandmother too too sneaky. She say Japan spoil. Need get serious again so make do all this."
"You put up a good fight. Ranma was impressed." Akane emerged from behind the closet door. "How do I look?"
"That dress tacky and horrible." Shampoo pounced from the bed to crash Akane in a mighty glomp. "But you face glowing."
"Thank you." Akane hugged her warmly back. "Are you really happy how things turned out?"
"Men come and go but real friend strange catch."
"I love you Shampoo. Not like that, though."
"I love you too, Akane and I do find you sexually attractive."
Shampoo whispered in her ear and squeezed her ass. Akane pulled back sharply. The Amazon laughed.
Akane slapped her sharply across the face.