A Little Sense? v2.2
by greggsharp, metroanime@mindspring.com
http://metroanime.home.mindspring.com/

i don't own Ranma 1/2, all char trademarked by them that do. timeframe:
immediately after "Like Water For Ranma" this story came out of the idea, what
if you really could beat some sense into someone... certainly someone in the
series attempts to do this on a regular basis.

then came the thought, "Phenomenon"

--------------------Day One----------------------------

"RANMA! YOU IDIOT!" Akane came charging at him, a frying pan in her hands.

Ranma blinked, turned away from where he was sparring with his father, and had
enough time to think "but I haven't done anything yet" before the cast iron
impacted his head with the usual result of transferred momentum.

Ranma flipped over in midair from the impact. His head bounced off of one of the
rocks in the yard before he came to a final stop.

"Hmmmph. Guess that'll teach you..."

"Oh no," Kasumi had come up upon hearing all the noise and stared at the stream
of red flowing from Ranma's head to soak the ground.

"Huh? Kasumi? Was I making that much noise?" Akane's eyes tracked to what Kasumi
was staring at and her own pupils shrank. "R-Ranma?" The idiot, leaving himself
open like that. It was all his fault! Wasn't it?

---------------------

"Uhmf," managed Ranma through the pain. "Urrrr." He could hear Kasumi's voice
muttering in the background.

*No sign of internal bleeding, though there was a bone chip in the wound. We
just can't afford a hospital. Please get better, Ranma.*

"Uhm, Kasumi. Not so loud." Ranma groaned again. He was tasting a color? Feeling
the scent of the air. How bizarre, even for _his_ life.

*He's coming to. Good, probably not as serious as it looked. If only he and
Akane could get along. I'm sure he didn't throw out Akane's cooking to spite
her.*

"Didn't do that," Ranma slowly moved himself up. "Didn't throw her food out. Why
was she cooking, anyway?"

*Oh my, did I say that out loud?* "She felt encouraged by Mrs Saotome's
instructions and wanted to fix something." *Such a mess she made too. I suppose
I can't blame her for being distracted after all that.*

Ranma felt the bandages around his head. "Yeah well, I'd have just escaped if
I'd known she was cookin' - how come none of you all ever..."

Ranma's eyes met Kasumi's briefly. Contact.

"What the hell..." Ranma managed, blushing and his jaw ready to impact the
floor.

----------------------------------------------------

Two little girls standing nearby, and a much younger looking Soun Tendo. Soun
was holding some woman's hand who was lying in a hospital bed, various tubes and
wires leading from her body to some machines nearby.

Ranma realized his point of view was shorter, smaller even than his female
cursed form. He also couldn't seem to move, like he was watching a movie that
took up his whole field of vision.

Soun was saying something about how the woman wouldn't, couldn't, leave while
her daughters were there.

The beep of the cardiac monitor turned into a steady screech.

The wave of crushing grief that rose up to overwhelm him was not his own. Ranma
realized as thoughts not his own passed through him, that this wasn't a movie.

-----------------------------------------------------

Ranma saw other scenes/feelings in quick succession. //Pride and joy at a first
meal prepared "just like your mother used to." //Taking Akane home from a visit
with Doctor Tofu, and noticing that the older man seemed to watch her awfully
closely. This bringing an unexpected surge of pleasure, as Kasumi realized that
someone desired HER as more than a mother-substitute.//Sadness at an attempt to
have a meaningful conversation with Doctor Tofu, only to see the Doctor rushing
out of his office carrying a skeleton with him. She valued a sense of humor,
but...//

//Watching your sisters grow more distant. One walling herself off, the other
finding solace in violence.//

//Shock and revulsion at the thought of being engaged to another girl. Even if
the other girl wasn't really a girl.//

//Watching as various youths declared that they would go to Nekonron China to
rescue Akane, and a tiny quickly-quenched flame of jealousy. Would they have
done this for her, or would wedding plans be set? Would silly Doctor Tofu come
and rescue her, or would he just continue to be silly?//

//A lonely night where sleep would not come, as she stared at the ceiling and
wept about the unfairness of it all. She was too homely, too boring, too
responsible. Couldn't someone want her for HER sake? Someone? Anyone?
...please...//

//Tofu leaving about the same time that Ukyou appeared. His mother had
apparently arranged a good marriage for the good doctor, Miss Bighips Tokyo in
fact. She wondered if he ever thought
about the girl he'd acted so silly around...//

//Sudden illness forcing her down. Akane was cooking. The guilt she felt at not
being able to meet those responsibilities that she had taken over for her
mother. Sadness at the thought that out of her household NO ONE other than
herself was both willing and able to shoulder this burden. Indigestion as the
miso soup mix turned out to have traces of Akane's LAST meal within
it. Ugh. She'd have to move the floor cleaners out of the kitchen. Akane got a
little TOO enthusiastic while tossing ingredients into the pot.//

------------------------------

With an effort, Ranma shut off the flood of memories and looked away from those
eyes. He didn't know HOW, but he had a pretty good idea WHAT had just happened.
He'd just experienced Kasumi's life. He couldn't sort through it all right away,
but he'd just experienced nineteen years compressed down to a few seconds.

It was almost as impossible as changing gender with a splash of water.

"Ranma, are you alright?" *He must still be hurt.*

Ranma almost staggered from the wave of warmth and caring from the older girl.
"Uhm, yeah, Kasumi, I just think I need to be alone, for awhile."

*With a head injury like that it isn't safe to be left alone. Brave, foolish,
Ranma-kun.*

"Oh, you know me, Kasumi. I'm used to it. My head gets pounded on all the time."

"Oh...my." *I KNOW I didn't say anything that time. Has he suddenly gotten
observant? Or maybe he just knows something about concussions as he's gotten so
much of them.*

"Yeah, that's it, always getting...pounded." Ranma's voice trailed off as he
realized that Kasumi wasn't talking. He knew she had realized the same thing.

*Ranma's...reading my mind?!* A quick flash of shame as she wondered what had
been revealed to this brash young man. At least he didn't know about...

"It ain't like that!" Ranma backed up as if he were afraid Kasumi was going to
hit him. Blushing at the image that had suddenly appeared before him. The
accusation in her eyes was enough of a blow. "I didn't mean to...I wasn't...I
didn't see..."

*So...he knows.* Guilt/shame/embarassment/pity/
annoyance/sadness/loneliness/fear. Her expression never changed. "Ranma...I am
not going to hit you."

"Kasumi, I know you're not Akane. Oh boy, do I know you're not Akane." Ranma was
still sorting through the sensations/information he'd gotten from that brief
moment of eye contact. He felt he knew Kasumi better now than he'd ever known
anyone in his life. He knew her as well as she knew herself, better even, as she
had never been able to look at her from outside herself. "I...can you keep this
quiet? I don't want anyone to think me any more of a freak than I already am."

"Well..." Kasumi hesitated. Fear again pulsing upward.

It hit Ranma like it was a physical attack. "No!" His eyes sought out Kasumi's
again. "No, Kasumi, don't be scared. Please, please help me." He wanted so bad
to have someone to confide in, someone to talk to, someone who wasn't going to
constantly pound on him or sell him. He felt the NEED to make her understand!

Kasumi blinked as their eyes met.

---------------------------------------

//Pleading with his father, not again, not into the pit again! Tied up,
helpless, and thrown into a restless and hungry dark. Betrayed.//

//A slap from his father, the older man yelling about getting him a dress. He
was weak, he was stupid, he was fearful, therefore he was acting like a girl and
should dress the part. Ranma swearing he would never be weak, that he would yet
make his father proud.//

//Crying one night. Friends abandoned yet again. His Ucchan, his best friend
ever, though the other boy was a little clumsy. Still, if it were necessary to
be a better martial artist, he'd do it! He would NOT be weak! He would be strong
and not hafta depend on nobody!//

//Ranma's shock as a giant panda shot out of the pool, landing on one of the
bamboo poles. The Guide explaining quickly about the horror of Jusenkyo. The
panda attacking. Cool water enveloping his form. The unpleasant sensation as
muscles and internal organs shifted into a slightly different configuration. The
horror of all the work of ten years being undone in an instant. His father had
told him often enough. Girls were weak, stupid, silly. And now he was one.//

//Three girls sitting across from him at a table. Shock and disgust on the faces
of two, anger on the third. Appreciation for the mature beauty of the eldest,
the sensuality of the middle, and the cuteness of the youngest was pushed aside
by resentment at being forced into this. Another friend lost, he noted as he saw
the youngest continue to get angrier. The two slightly older girls taking the
opportunity to throw their youngest sister off to the lions. The realization
that, as in all his life, he was unwanted and resented.//

//Watching the woman in front of him. Realizing there was more than one kind of
strength.
Realizing that she had no one to tell her that SHE was beautiful, that she was
appreciated, that she...mattered.//

-------------------------------

Kasumi blinked again. Under that towering ego and overwhelming self-confidence,
there was...

Someone who had been repeatedly betrayed by his father. Someone who had
repeatedly opened his
heart only to have it ripped out. Someone who covered massive insecurities with
arrogance and insults.

Someone who was now beginning to realize that other people might be just as
insecure and lonely as he was.

Someone who thought of her as mature, beautiful, unapproachable.

"I think," Kasumi managed, "that maybe we ought to keep this quiet and perhaps
that I should tell everyone not to disturb you for a little while." She had to
think about what SHE had just seen, as well. Having viewed his entire life was a
little...overwhelming.

"Yes, Kasumi-chan," Ranma found he could shut her thoughts out if he tried.
"Thank you."

-----------------------------------

Ranma sat back in the emptiness of the room, blessedly alone, when the door was
pulled back again. Ukyou slid into the room, closing the door behind herself.

*Please, Ranma, DON'T force me away.* She forced the concern away from her face
to look at Ranma.

"Ucchan, I wanted to be alone." Ranma was quieter than he usually was. To
actually feel the affection and concern radiating off of Ukyou was disarming to
say the least.

"I...just wanted to check up on you, sugar." *WHY?! Why do you have to put up
with this, why do you let her hurt you like this? Ranchan, PLEASE!* "So...are
you really feeling better?"

"Some, yes. Very tired though." He wasn't going to look at her. Absolutely not.
Even though he could feel her apprehension and sadness as she realized he wasn't
looking at her.

"Well...then, I guess I'll leave you alone." *Damn it, Ranchan, why can't you
get it through your thick head that I'm your fiancee too! You jackass.*

Ranma looked up briefly as Ukyou knelt next to him, her hand coming up to almost
touch the bandages.

Contact.

-------------------------------------------------

//This time she'd get that BOY! Thinking he could get free food from them! This
time she'd stop him! No boy was going to get past her!//

//Sharing a quiet moment with the boy who loved okonomiyaki almost as much as
she did. A quiet moment with the two of them sitting closely together. He
considered her his best friend? A friend... and when he smiled it was just like
the sun breaking.//

//They were leaving her! Her Ranchan, waving bye bye as the two abandoned her.
Betrayed. Alone.//

//A quest for vengeance ending in a series of revelations. He was clueless,
ignorant, nieve. Not completely blameless, perhaps, but certainly not the
monster she'd come to expect. More like the boy she'd fallen in love with long
long ago...//

//Watching bitterly as other women, completely wrong for her Ranchan, continued
to abuse him. Abuse his trust. Abuse his body. Abuse his code of honor. Abuse
his capacity for love. While she remained. Alone and neglected.//

----------------------------

Ranma tore his gaze away, REALLY wishing he hadn't done that. That he hadn't
seen. So many years she'd devoted to him already, either in love or in hate...

Ukyou blinked. A tear? Ranma crying, even if it was just one tear? Impossible!

"Uhm, Ukyou, I'd REALLY like to be alone right now."

"Yeah, sure, Ranchan. I've got to get back to work anyway." *Damn that Akane!
She's really hurt him this time.*

"Ucchan, I..." Ranma stopped. "Thank you."

Ukyou left without a word, certain from Ranma's reluctance to even look at her
that she'd done something wrong.

Ranma waited a few minutes, sighing, knowing that he could expect one more
visitor AT LEAST. He wasn't disappointed.

The door slid open again. The surprise was that it was not Shampoo.

"Hmph, Saotome," Nabiki folded her arms and looked sternly at Ranma. "You know
damn well that..."

Ranma actually chose to meet her gaze. He'd never understood her. Contact.

----------------------------------------------

//The same room, the same scene with a dying mother. This time the angle was a
little different, but it was the same. A little girl promising herself that she
would never be vulnerable again.//

//Watching Kasumi trying to handle too much at once, and the elder sister trying
to manage her homework, keeping care of the house, plus balance the checkbook.
It was the last that she
found the most fascinating. Tens adding to hundreds, a plus here and a minus
there, making the numbers add up. There was a joy to be found, a sense of
accomplishment, in making this little amount of income stretch out to cover all
the expenses. Still, more money was needed. How to get it? She felt her face
curl into a smile as she noted Kasumi's gratitude as she took over the
finances...//

//Profound disappointment turning into bitter resentment. Her fiancee, a
lifeline in the sea of loneliness, had turned out to be a GIRL! This could not
be tolerated. That this 'Ranma' wouldn't be rich was understood well in advance,
but she'd HOPED he would at least be cute. That he wasn't even a he was yet
another insult offered to her by life. So be it, she would only pursue money
from now on! At least that way she couldn't be hurt again.//

//Noting that Akane had been cooking and that there was an open box of rat
poison, Nabiki "accidently" threw the contents of the stewpot out. Seeing the
plastic liner beginning to dissolve, Nabiki congratulated herself on her
insight.//

-------------------------

"So, YOU'RE the one who threw Akane's dinner out and started all this!" Ranma
glared at Nabiki.

"Who me?" *How did he know?* "You're grasping at straws, Saotome."

Ranma thought for a moment. While he was doing so, Nabiki started talking about
a photo shoot she had in mind.

Ranma smiled as he thought of something. He couldn't bring himself to hit a
girl, and when he'd tried to convince Kasumi earlier, he'd done a good job but
something subtler would be
needed if he wanted to keep his secret. Something like...

He didn't realize that he was thinking like Nabiki at the time.

Ranma tried sending a feeling. A feeling that Nabiki was well acquainted with,
as was Ranma. Loneliness.

Nabiki's voice trailed off. Alone. She was so alone. If one was swimming with
the sharks, one had to be as cold as they were. There was no comfort there, no
shoulder to cry on, no one to lean on. Any sign of weakness would bring the
sharks in to feed on you. Nabiki rallied. Strength. Soul of ice.

Ranma had seen. He had learned. He had now experienced four lives. Thinking in
terms of a battle, he shifted gears, allowing the Kasumi he'd learned to guide
him to victory over this foe.

Hugging Nabiki, he stroked her hair and mumbled how it would be all right. He
switched the loneliness to duplicate exactly and sincerely the same compassion
and tenderness he'd felt from Ukyou.

It was a tender, kind, gentle moment. Something that Nabiki had rarely
experienced in her life, and never from anyone besides her elder sister.

Nabiki crumbled, having absolutely no defense against this sort of attack.

Ranma let up on the projection as he realized that Nabiki was hugging him back,
and the dampness on his shirt was from... Ranma continued to stroke her hair and
hold her, knowing from the Kasumi portion of his mind that this would be the
best way to handle it. And this way he didn't have to see Nabiki's tears.

After a few moments like this, the door opened. Akane looked in, saw this scene,
and went into shutdown. *NO! Nonononono. This can't be! No way! Nabiki? Ranma?!*
Her mind a confused jumble,
Akane made her way back to her room. *Hallucination, that was it, that baka had
made me so worried that I couldn't see straight. Yeah, that was it. It had been
a very long day, too. All this cold wet weather...*

Nabiki hesitated at first, then firmly disengaged herself from Ranma. "Well,
Saotome, I guess you're all right. I've just got to..." She lost track of what
she was going to say as she looked into his eyes. Ranma was...different. She
could see a deep, gentle, caring in him now.
Directed at her. At the heartless mercenary. Or was he looking deeper?

She snorted and walked off. Ranma? Ranma getting observant? No way. Couldn't be.
She'd never...

Nabiki closed the door to her room and shivered. It was broken by a smile,
though. To be held like that, to feel safe and secure, as if he could actually
care for someone besides himself. It had been a nice fantasy.

And if he COULD be like that, Nabiki wondered how difficult it would be to get
the engagement switched over.

----------------------------------

Ranma's eyes shot open. The slight trace of perfume wasn't what had awakened
him. The muttering in Chinese and the projected concern/sadness/affection were.

"Airen?" Shampoo crept closer, not wanting to awaken anyone else in the house.

"What do you want, Shampoo?" Ranma addressed the shape in the darkness that he
knew was the amazon. "It's very late."

"Airen. Shampoo just worried. Heard violent pervert girl hurt you bad. Airen..."

Ranma smiled in the concealing darkness. At least with it this dark he didn't
have to worry...

Contact.

----------------------------------------

//Crying as her great-grandmother told her the story of how her mother died,
brutalized by the Musk at the Fjord Of Standing Stones. Her father, a weak male,
could only watch as the Elders decided her fate.//

//Mousse. Again and again and again. Instead of taking the hint he continued to
press his attacks on her. Why couldn't he understand. She just was NOT
interested! Ah, now Tai Za on the other hand. A little weird, and not much of a
fighter, it was true, but then SHE was the warrior. It wasn't unheard of for a
strong amazon to choose and defeat a male, far more common
than the other way around! Tai Za was cute, a good farmer, a decent forager.
Shampoo thought about it, she was six years old. Tai Za was eight. Close
enough.//

//Shampoo glaring at Mousse. He'd gone too far. Too far! It had been an
"accident" they said. Mousse's thrown dagger missing a target to cut through a
support rope while Tai Za worked
on the Challenge Log. The crushing weight landing on the poor farmer/carpenter.
She vowed she would NEVER let Mousse have her. NEVER!//

//Shampoo defeated by the boy Ranma. The revelation that boy was girl. Fleeing
in horror with a broken heart.//

//Her Grandmother explaining the law to a broken hearted Shampoo. Failing once
was Jusenkyo. Failing twice... Exile was the LEAST punishment she could
expect.//

------------------------------

Ranma paused. He'd always thought that Shampoo had been pursuing him because of
those stupid laws. That wasn't it. She genuinely loved him.

However, if she DIDN'T get him, she'd be punished, and severely. Cologne could
intervene, but at the very least Shampoo would never go home again.

"Ranma?" Shampoo looked hesitantly at Ranma.

"Uhm, Shampoo, I got some stuff to sort through. Do ya mind? I REALLY need to be
alone."

*Ranma doesn't look very good at all. Maybe I ought to bring him some soup? If
he's lost
a lot of blood, he'll need to replenish his strength.* "Airen, can Shampoo bring
too too delicious soup in morning?"

"Yeah, Shampoo, that sounds good." Ranma sighed. He was beginning to long for
ignorance.

*The way he was looking at me?! Could it be...finally?* Shampoo slapped herself.
*I'm not
dreaming!!! He was actually looking at me as if he was seeing something besides
a source of food or an irritant!*

"Uhm, Shampoo. Please. I need to be alone."

*He's being polite!?!* Shampoo trembled. *Steady now. If you use the Amazon
Glomp, he's
injured. Tomorrow. Definitely tomorrow.* "Good night, Ranma."

Ranma watched her leave then settled back. He was understanding her thoughts
now. She was still thinking in Mandarin. This was bad...

-------------------------------------------

end Day One...

--------------------Day Two, morning----------------------------

*Bamboo. Lots of bamboo. Tiny, crunching leaves. Strong stalks. Steaming dishes
of rice. The pleasing crunch of stolen pickles....*

Ranma came blearily awake. His head hurt like anything, sitting up was causing
him to almost see double, but he had to deal with....

It took him a moment to work out that the hunger he was feeling wasn't his own.
Looking aside at the panda curled up with its back to him he scowled. Figured
the old man would even _dream_ about food. He had to get out of here. His old
man was sending out broadcasts that'd overcome all his own dreams.

He'd never get any sleep with the panda overwriting his own thoughts...

With a chill of horror that completely hid the pain, Ranma scuttled away from
the sleeping furball. If there was one person in the world he did _not_ want to
be like... When the pain from his shivering finally penetrated, Ranma collapsed
and silently held his head in both hands, as Genma chose that moment to roll
over he squeezed his eyes shut and lived with the pain.

Ranma slid painfully out of the bedroom. He would _not_ look. Nothing in the
world could convince him to look into his old man's eyes. He'd sleep in the
garbage outside if he had to. There was no chance of getting to sleep back in
there again anyway. The thoughts broadcast by... No, scratch that. Ranma figured
he knew what thoughts were well enough by now to admit what _those_ were.

His father thought in terms of appetites. It was a lucky guess, but he'd bet his
pops let his stomach make half his decisions for him.

The pain subsiding now, and the closed screen effectively masking his Pops'
latest thought about gorging himself, Ranma got up gently and headed downstairs.
He might as well start
his morning routine. His mind felt bruised already, how long had he been lying
there while his Pops thought about food?

There had been dreams earlier, if you could call them that. His mind trying to
grasp and assimilate the memories he'd inadvertantly downloaded.

There had been the day Kasumi graduated from high school and she'd had to make a
decision. Try for college and pursue her dreams. Stay at home and meet her
responsibilities to family. Though saddened, she turned from her dreams. Family
would always come first.

Shampoo, triumphant on the practice log! The glory that was due her, of all the
sixteen year olds, to be annointed the Champion. Not merely to have proven
herself worthy of the title
Warrior, but to go beyond that and become what every little amazon girl dreamed
of, the Village Champion! Waitaminute, why was there a girl and a panda eating
her prize?!

Ukyou, a child, hearing the whispers of her classmates. She had been dumped like
a spoiled okonomiyaki, like crust gone all dry and moldy. Now she'd never get
married, she'd be left alone, unloved. Because she had fallen for a jackass with
thieving father. Ukyou renounced she would be a girl, then, but would live life
as a boy until she had her revenge!

Nabiki watching the crowds surrounding Akane. So everyone was interested in
little sister, eh? Tatewaki certainly was. Now how could she make a profit off
of this?

Ranma paused, realizing that he was no longer the same person he was the
previous morning. He was still himself, but he was also others. He was using
terms and phrases he'd gotten from Nabiki. He hoped that this condition was
temporary, and that he wouldn't end up with his personality fragmenting...

After that pause he decided it didn't matter. He had to get busy.

---------------------

Kasumi lay in bed awake. It was four minutes till her alarm woke her. There were
clouds in the sky outside. The earliest hints of dawn had yet to come, but her
blinking eyes held only the
oval face of the alarm clock as it stared at her.

Deciding finally that there would be no more sleep today, she arose from her
bed, feeling a slight twinge of sympathy/pain knowing, _feeling_ that as
difficult and lonely as her own life had been, she still took for granted some
things that Ranma had never enjoyed. The down comforter, even her bed, both
these were still unheard of luxuries for a boy who'd slept on wind-swept stone,
and to whom a thin futon on a wood floor was still a not-entirely-assured
comfort.

Stopping her alarm two minutes before it could ring, Kasumi began to get ready
for her day.

There was a moment of strangeness as she put on her gi, but she shrugged it off.
She had a lot of thinking still to do.

---------------------

Ranma felt glad of the sedate pace today. The moves were slow and assured, and
in their gentle flow his mind began to slowly ease back from the pain it had
been in earlier.

Without even thinking about it he began going over the sleeping arrangements. It
didn't take long to conclude that none of the Tendo's could be moved out of
their rooms, and his pop wouldn't budge, so that meant he'd have to be the one
relocated. He guessed that he could take some extra blankets from the upstairs
closet and transfer them to one of the shelves in the dojo. It would be cold out
there but it should be quiet.

It was the work of a few moments to decide what would have to be moved, where,
and in what order to make that comfortable.

Finishing up his warm up routines, Ranma placed the gathered wash in the
baskets. Time enough to put them on the lines when the sun had risen. Going
inside, he turned on the lights in the
kitchen to begin the dual task of preparing for breakfast and fixing the school
lunches.

His head was hurting alot less now, and he hummed softly to himself as the
perfect precision of each move flowed smoothly after the other. He'd try and
remember the name of this kata later, but for now he was content to let his body
run by itself while his mind gradually steadied and recovered from the numb pain
he'd woken up with.

---------------------

"Airen was hurt very, very bad, great grandmother. But he was nicer to me when I
visited. When I offered to bring him soup he did not turn it away. He was very
polite, but said he was also very tired."

Cologne looked up from her mat at where her grandaughter was dressing in
concern. She was not so old that she could not see the spark of true hope in
those young eyes, nor did she miss the taint of fear there as well.

She got up, masking her own fear. Head injuries were always bad, and a change in
behavior from one indicated severity. It would be best she went along to see
that there weren't complications.

In her best unconcerned grandmother voice she answered. "Well, if the boy has
agreed to eat what you make let's both see that it's done well, hmm? Maybe while
I'm there he'll allow me to take a look at that injury. I'll bring along one or
two of my medical things just in case."

Shampoo tried hard to conceal her relief.

---------------------

Kasumi felt the dawn caressing her face and felt glad. She was a little out of
breath from the day's chores already, but there was a feeling of accomplishment
along with the tired muscles. She felt that she had gotten alot done, maybe even
enough that she could take a nap later in the day.

Humming softly to herself, she finished her entire morning routine a little
early and used that time to enjoy the sunrise for her vantage point on top of
the roof. With a happy smile, she jumped down lightly on the balls of her feet
and went in for breakfast.

She wondered what that wonderful smell...

Two figures stopped. They were staring at each other from opposite ends of the
dining room. Ranma swallowed and set the breakfast tray down at the table.
"Food'll be ready in a minute,
Kasumi. You'll have time for a bath to get the sweat off."

Nodding, Kasumi looked on in joy/puzzled accomplishment/fear/astonishment and
genuine amusement at Ranma kneeling at the table, setting out the breakfast
dishes and wearing her own best apron.

Her eyes crinkled. *Finally, I have an ally in this house.*

"Look! I... ow..." Ranma held his head, having turned it too hard when
objecting.

"Oh! Are you alright, Ranma?" Kasumi knelt by his side, noting the amusement he
held in spite of his pain at finding her in a martial art gi. She became
resigned even as she noted it, that he would be hearing from her own mind how
well she could read his mood from his posture and facial expressions.

*Well, that's one secret gone, I guess. And probably not the only one. I wonder
how much he knows?*

Ranma held his head for a moment longer. "That's alright, Kasumi."

She wished she knew knew which question he was answering.

He went on, tentatively releasing his skull as if afraid it might fly apart
again. "It's nuthin'. I got a headache from listening to pops dream about
potroast all night. That's all."

"Oh, dear." *I guess I should have thought. Having Mr. Saotome in the same room
could not have been pleasant. Not if you could read minds.*

*Yeah. I woke up feeling like Akane'd hit me again. I was thinking of moving out
into the dojo to sleep from now on.*

"But it's so cold." Kasumi objected. She ran through the same formulas for
moving people around that Ranma had, only she put a slightly different emphasis
on it. Sick people had priority, after all. She briefly entertained the notion
of having Ranma in her own room, and was gratified to see the immediate blush.

"No, Kasumi. Pops may have a winter coat and all, but try and convince him to
accept hardship when he don't want to. He'd just sneak back in to my room at
night if we tried to put him out there." Ranma was glad that it wasn't Kasumi
who was the mind reader. The image she'd put out of him sleeping on a futon on
her floor hadn't been bad. The quick sequence of "what could go wrong with this
situation" images HAD been rather...odd coming from Kasumi as they had.

"I suppose you're right." *It really was unfair how Mr. Saotome acted.* The
image involuntarily came to her mind of Genma's face as he threw his son into
the pit for the third time. Then one from her own perspective as she'd seen him
tear off Ranma-chan's shirt and offer the now topless boy-turned-girl to
Happosai. *I suppose he's unfair in the way he normally acts, isn't he?*

*Yeah.*

*?!?!?!* "Ranma, your mouth wasn't moving, but _I_ heard you."

*Uhm, yeah. Sorry about this. Just don't want to move my head that much right at
the moment. I think we can talk this way 'cause we both had that
transfer-thingie.*

"If I might make an observation, Ranma?" Kasumi paused for the feeling of
consent. *What you did last night was...strange. It lasted a few seconds, but I
lived your entire life as if I were watching a movie except that I could also
feel what was going on. Did you do that with me
as well?*

*Yes. Sorry about that. I didn't mean to, it seems to be completely involuntary
like this mind-reading stuff. Uhm, I also kinda scanned Nabiki, Ukyou, and
Shampoo. Seems to be related to eye contact whether there's sufficient light or
not to see.*

*Eyes being the window of the soul, then. Hmmm. You're thinking more like me,
with some Nabiki "flavoring" as well. Oh my, you mustn't do this very often, I'd
imagine personality fragmentation would be inevitable.*

*Actually, I think I lucked out there. Nabiki's the only one that would fight me
for dominance except in specific situations. Right now all the personas are more
interested in surviving than who gets control.*

*How sensible.* Kasumi smiled.

*Must be your influence.* Ranma paused. "Ah, Kasumi?"

"Yes, Ranma?" *Hmmm. Miso soup with breakfast okonomiyaki? Not what I would have
fixed, but...* Kasumi realized how hungry she was.

"There ain't all that many chances for you to get to the bath today."

---------------------

Ranma was just hanging up the apron *Let everybody think it was Kasumi that did
all the work.* when his head split to the sound of a scream.

"SAOTOME! HOW DARE YOU STEAL... huh?"

Mousse let his chains trail loosely from the ends of his robe as he saw his
enemy curled up in a fetal ball on the floor, both hands tightly clutching his
head. "What? Hey, what's wrong?" *Saotome's injured? That's what I'd heard. Hmm,
now's my chance! All it will take is a little...*

Ranma could only gasp in relief when he heard Mousse's mind go chaotic for just
a moment as the change to duck overtook him. He actually wept a tear to feel
Shampoo's presence back in the room.

The image in Mousse's mind had been powerful, driving a sword through the
unprotected back of his hated rival. He'd never actually thought that Mousse'd
been willing to _kill_ him!

He sobbed involuntarily as he felt a soothing presence move over him. There were
too many minds nearby to hear any specific thoughts. Curling himself tighter, he
tried to wall off his mind so he could cut off the confusion and the pain.

Cologne stood by the huddled son-in-law's shoulder. A few touches and she was
certain. A nod to Shampoo and the girl put down her carefully made soup (chicken
noodle, ancient Chinese
secret cure for colds handed down through 3000 years of Chinese Amazon rule) and
ran into the kitchen to prepare water to mix the herbs.

This being the Tendo kitchen, and it having been Ranma at work, she was out
again in moments with a heated kettle.

Mousse-duck made a lunge for the water and was intercepted by Cologne.

"Mousse, how could you even think of fighting Ranma when he's in this condition?
Amazon law forbids it. You know there are no challenge fights allowed against
the wounded." *Certain
exclusions, provisions, and limitations may apply.*

"Quack!"

Cologne's eyes went to slits. "Mousse. Ranma's practically dead as he is. It's
going to be hard enough to nurse him back to full health without you in here
shouting and flinging chains at him."

"Quack! Quack!"

Shampoo smiled sweetly at the duck. "Mousse, you challenge airen like that,
Shampoo try out new recipe for Peking style diced duck. Shampoo use spoon to
dice, you know what Shampoo mean?"

The grip went closed, cutting off the duck's air and stilling his resistance.
The matriarch spoke in leveled tones. "Let me put it another way, Mousse. If
Ranma dies from something
that you've done, if I even find you trying, then I'll give you the Kiss of
Death myself. Do you understand?"

"quAck." The waterfowl lost color and shed a dozen feathers in fear, finally
going limp in despair.

"Oh my!"

Shampoo looked up from where she'd been mixing herbs. Kasumi stood in the
doorway looking like she was fresh from the bath. A groan came from her airen
and Shampoo's attention went back to her patient, a spoonful of medical broth
lifted carefully to the head cradled in her lap.

"Cologne, did you really mean that? Did you mean what you said?" *Judging from
Shampoo's expression, she was quite sincere.*

Cologne released Mousse out the balcony and came back to stand with her staff,
looking alternately between Ranma and the Tendo daughter. "Child, I've seen many
head injuries in my time, and this one's bad. One more blow like he's been
getting and we'll have seen the end of son-in-law. I felt it wise to step in and
reduce the fighting by one, though the one that worries me is that sister of
yours. He only needs to get her angry at him once more. And I'll tell you right
now there are those who'll press murder charges. I might even help them. Under
those conditions, I'm afraid to leave him here. You of all people should know
how difficult it is to control things in this place. Son-in-law needs to rest,
not fight for his life."

"Yes. He was complaining this morning of how difficult it was to sleep with his
father in the room. He'd suggested that he might move out into the dojo."

"In _this_ weather?" Cologne was astonished. Cold and wet was the forecast. Not
cold enough for snow, but freezing rain had occurred three days ago. Cologne put
on her kindest face and voice to try and convince the Tendo girl. "Child, it's
plain that he won't be able to get his best rest here. Let us take him. I can
assure you we'll treat him like he was already family. I'll even give my word
we'll return him once he's better, if that's what he wants."

Cologne hid two crossed fingers behind her back.

"But I think your treating him like that is what will worry everyone. Won't
there be alot of fights from people wanting to do the same?"

Cologne was surprised. That girl actually had a head on her shoulders. Or at
least wasn't in Oblivious mode. "What are you saying, child?"

"I agree with you that we don't really have a place where he can rest here, not
unless I double up with Nabiki and we put him in my room. What he really needs,
I think, is a place away from _all_ his fiancees, but where they can visit him."

"But we have no such place, child. We've only our own homes. And what kind of
protection would he have all alone like that? At least one of us has to be there
to take care of him." Cologne was the first, of course, to register the new
presence and winced accordingly.

"Ohohohohoho!" A swirl of black rose petals announced her presence as easily as
that trademark "crazed noblewoman" laugh.

"If you'll forgive the interruption, I may have a suggestion."

Cologne blinked as she saw Kasumi going into a defensive martial arts stance
that looked VERY familiar.

She blinked again as she realized that son-in-law had very abruptly vanished.

-------------------------------------

*Ranma?*

Ranma paused, gasping from effort and curled around his pain. He'd overriden the
pain, but such things always came with a cost. When the pain had returned, it
had been with enough force to cause him to start throwing up what little was in
his stomach.(1)

*Kasumi. Can't. Right now. Hiding. Ungh.*

------------------------------------

Kasumi turned back to the soup. The nausea that had accompanied Ranma's reply
might have been obvious to Cologne. *OK, Ranma. Don't come back. Kodachi's here
arguing with Akane, Shampoo, and Cologne. I think Cologne suspects something is
not right, but she has other concerns at the moment.*

Kasumi paused, wondering if she could/should try to look through Ranma's eyes.
No, that wouldn't be proper. Neither was the desire to step up to Kodachi and do
an amaguriken. Kasumi
suppressed THAT desire as well, noting that as Ranma had gotten some of her
patience and understanding, she had apparently gotten just a touch of Ranma's
impulsiveness.

-------------------

Cologne's eyes took in everything. A puzzle was here, and that was something she
had longed for. Not so much the puzzle itself, but that after a chi-attentuated
long lifespan like her own, she was finding damn little that was New and
Different.

When one's life is maintained by one's strength of mind and will, then one
literally can die of boredom. She wanted to see a proper Heir before she passed
from this life into one of those Last Great Mysteries. Shampoo wasn't it.
Shampoo and Ranma's child MIGHT be such an heir.

Shampoo continued to argue with the rich, obviously inbred, Japanese girl with
the acrobatics fixation. As usual, that one was responding with racial and caste
slurs. While apparently watching the three way war of words (Akane throwing in
insults and arguments against both parties), Cologne was studying the older
Tendo daughter.

She had changed. That much was obvious to anyone who could observe the flows of
chi. Kasumi's chi flows were much stronger, though she was still maintaining
excellent control. The girl took out a piece of celery, casually flipped it into
the air and made nice even slices in it while it was in midair.

Cologne's eyes twitched involuntarily. Son in law must have been training the
girl. That was definitely the sort of thing she would have expected from Ranma,
though her control was better. How had she been fooled into dismissing the elder
Tendo as just another submissive housewife type?

Cologne genuinely liked Ranma, something that would have surprised the heck out
of Ranma if he had known about it. She saw here another possibly worthy pupil.
And if this girl had managed to fool even Cologne herself for so long?

Cologne barely suppressed a grin. Perhaps she had found her Heir after all.

Without waiting for the yelling to subside, Cologne tapped a shiatsu sleep spot
on the leotard clad girl, then flicked a fork to do the same thing to the ninja
hidden behind the wall.

"Shampoo?" Cologne looked at Kasumi openly now, ignoring the questions erupting
from the youngest Tendo.

"Yes, Great-grandma?"

"Xi Fang Gao. Kodachi _and_ Sasuke. Only that they won't remember that they were
here. Keep it simple." Cologne turned her full attention back to Kasumi who was
beginning to look like the canary that had just realized that there was a cat
and it was in a playful mood. "Miss Tendo, I _do_ hope we can have a chat later.
We need to go find son in law before he freezes in this weather."

"What do you mean? What have you done to Ranma? Hey!" Akane watched as Cologne
left, followed by Shampoo dragging two bodies with freshly scrubbed hair. "And
don't hurry back!"

Kasumi shook her head. She had a feeling that she was in the frying pan now, and
the fire wasn't far off.

======================================

(1)Been there, done that. These are "trip to the ER" level migraines. Just
another wonderful thing to be said for having repeated head trauma from my
school days. And no, you can't drive or do much in this condition. Pain blocking
techniques are real and part of martial arts too, so i figure Ranma knows 'em.



A Little Sense?
by greggsharp, metroanime@mindspring.com
& Jared Ornstead
http://metroanime.home.mindspring.com/
i don't own Ranma 1/2, all char trademarked by
them that do. timeframe: immediately after "Like Water For Ranma" this story
came out of the idea, what if you really could beat some sense into someone...
then came the thought, "Phenomenon"

------What's come so far:---------------

Ranma's been hit by Akane, there was some pretty severe damage, but it was
decided that he (being a tough martial artist who can bounce back from anything)
would not be sent to the hospital. After all, this might cut into their budget,
and it had to be Ranma's fault anyway. This despite skin being ripped on his
skull and at least one bone chip being found.
Ranma has discovered that he is now hearing other people's thoughts if they are
physically close. He has also found (by accident) that if he makes eye contact,
he relives that person's life. He has so far downloaded Kasumi, Nabiki, Ukyou
and Shampoo. He has not had the peace and
quiet to sort them out or assimilate these other personalities.
While trying to convince Kasumi that she should keep quiet about this new
strangeness, he inadvertantly "uploaded" his own life to Kasumi. Both are now
acting a little bit like the other, as well as have a link between them.
Ranma is still having serious problems (it is a very serious head trauma) and
has had to escape the dojo to avoid either downloading more memories or being
kidnapped by Kodachi.
Cologne has noticed Kasumi acting like Ranma and came to the conclusion that
Kasumi has been fooling everyone all this time. One doesn't learn martial arts
reflexes like that overnight, after all. This has gotten Cologne interested.
It hasn't been revealed yet, but yes, Kasumi has gone through the same
experiences Ranma did, so she has the catfist as well. At least until she can
assimilate the memories with her own and mute the effect down to manageable
levels...

--------------Day Two, Later-----------------------

Ranma shuddered. Cold, wet, shivering, feeling quite unpleasant. The everpresent
headache.
The Kasumi part of his mind counseled him to find shelter. The Nabiki voice went
over the various possibilities.

School: too many people. Nekohanten: too many people and Mousse might be
tempted, threats to the side. Tendo household: currently a battlesite. Ucchan's:
possible, but everyone would
expect that to be among his first choice.

At least he could warm up at Ucchan's, while he thought this out. The little
Ukyou voice
gave a cheer, but quietly. There was muttering from the Shampoo fragment but she
was overruled.

Separation being counterproductive to longterm survival, the voices began their
slow task of assimilation. All of whom agreed that downloading any more voices
would be a Bad Thing.

Besides, counseled the Nabiki voice, it was crowded in here enough as it was.

--------------------------------

Kasumi hummed a happy little tune (Bach's little fugue in G) and noted that
Akane was grumbling about the unpleasant awakening she'd had. (Kodachi's laugh
having cut through a pleasant dream dealing with a variety of Super Soba that
didn't give one facial hair.)

Nabiki spent some time looking for Ranma, saying only that she wanted to check
on something.

When Akane told Nabiki that Ranma had fled during the morning confrontation,
Nabiki had
seemed somehow disappointed.

"So I gotta get to school," Akane paused. "Kasumi, do you think Ranma's all
right?" Silently
adding that it wasn't like she cared, baka was probably out with Shampoo.

"I'm sure Ranma's all right. He's a survivor, isn't he?" Kasumi continued to
stir.

"Breakfast okonomiyaki?" Nabiki finally woke up enough to determine what she was
eating.
"Did Ukyou come by this morning too?"

"Oh no," Kasumi smiled at the two. "Just trying different things..."

"Ah." Nabiki shrugged and ate more of it. Whatever Kasumi was doing, it worked.
Nabiki hadn't
seen Kasumi almost glow with health like that in years.

"Oh," said Akane, turning her attention back to breakfast. "It's awfully cold
though, and it'll probably rain some more."

"Concerned about your fiance, Akane? Heart all aflutter cause he's alone and
injured somewhere?" Nabiki smirked as she sipped on some tea.

"OF COURSE NOT! It's not like I care what happens to that baka!"

"Then maybe I ought to take Ranma," said Nabiki, turning her smirk up a degree.
Akane was *so* easy to manipulate.

"FINE! TAKE HIM!" Akane was tired of Nabiki's bluffs.

"OK. Thank you!" An eerie chorus sounded.

Nabiki looked at Kasumi, the chopsticks dropping from nerveless fingers. Akane's
gaze flicked
back and forth from the two of them to the curtain, where she was SURE she'd
heard a third voice answer.

Kasumi glanced at the curtain and started humming a tune that she'd never heard,
though Ranma
had. "Oh, the cat came back, she couldn't stay away..."

"Shampoo?" Akane managed after she picked up the clue.

"What are you doing here, Shampoo?"

"It going to rain soon. Shampoo decide better check and see if airen show up
yet." Shampoo stuck her head around a corner. "Airen not here, is he?"

"I'd imagine that EVERYONE with Jusenkyo curses dislikes this time of year."
Nabiki stared into her teacup. "Damp and chilly to say the least." Maybe she
should have a few umbrellas and such on hand for sale...

Kasumi nodded absently. She knew Ranma disliked this season intensely.

Akane shrugged. She at least knew that if Shampoo was here, then that meant
Ranma was not
with her. That left...way too many possibilities.

---------------------------------------------

Ukyou Kuonji dragged a semi-conscious Ranma into her store, closed the door, and
tried not
to think of all the things she could do with Ranma at her mercy.

The time she had found him, weakened by Happosai's moxibuxtion technique, she
had come VERY close to making a Ranma okonomiyaki with lots of sauce. Instead
she had chickened out and just
woke him up by turning on the grill.

She still had dreams in which she had NOT chickened out. They were quite naughty
fantasies of
the sort that Nice Girls are not supposed to have.

A bad head injury prevented him from an okonomi-orgy or even the grilling he'd
gotten the last time. The cold drizzle had become a light rain, and so Ranma was
now Ranma-chan and with soaked
bandages.

Ukyou shrugged happily. There was just no way around it, she had to bring his
temperature back
up. Now how to do it?

Ukyou began to smirk as various naughty possibilities came to mind. A hot soak,
and of course,
she'd have to be right there with him - can't leave a guy with a head injury
alone like that! Or maybe cuddling up under some warm blankets where her body
heat could take the chill off of him! She snickered. Maybe it was time for that
Ranma okonomiyaki...

The snicker stopped. She was nice. She was cute. Though she wanted (Oh Kami, how
she wanted!)
to do any and all of the above, she couldn't do that to him. No, Shampoo would
do that sort of thing. Probably. Akane wouldn't do that sort of thing even if he
did marry her. Kodachi...well, Kodachi would do that sort of thing and get
progressively worse.

She had to do this nicely, damn it. Ukyou's expression was sad as she watched
Ranma lying there. If only she could convince Ranma that SHE was the one who
really loved him.

--------------------------------------

Inside Ranma's mind, a dining room table had formed with several people sitting
around it.

"OK, people, we're here to discuss the situation that we've gotten ourselves
into." Nabiki steepled her hands in front of her and looked at all the other
participants in this little conference.

"Ranma-kun's headaches have gotten worse," Kasumi advised. "This would seem to
indicate that the injury isn't simply the scalp wound that we had hoped for.
There may be internal bleeding."

"Uhm," Ranma raised a hand. "Does our meeting like this mean I've done that
multiple personality thing that the real Kasumi was worrying about?"

"No, Ranchan. We're just manifestations of the memories you've gotten through
your 'eyecatch' trick." Ukyou paused. "Actually each of us are acting out the
part of various aspects of your Self. Nabiki is the analytical, Shampoo the
survivor, and myself the ego."

"That explains why you're wearing my clothes. What about Kasumi?"

"Oh, I'm real. I'm just sitting in while I polish the floors. Can't do much
about the laundry till it stops raining."

"Ah." Ranma nodded, remembering when he'd just started doing the laundry for his
little sisters, and had somehow shrunk one of Nabiki's outfits to Akane-sized
clothes.

"Besides, I'd like to start a fire and learn the 'Chestnuts Roasting' technique
but..." Kasumi shrugged. "It doesn't matter that much compared to what is going
to happen to you."

"Ah? Oh yeah. Internal bleeding. Got ya."

"Not likely, Kasumi, consider how much time has passed." Nabiki waggled a
finger. "If we were talking about subdural hematoma, surely we would be
experiencing a coma at the very least by now. The injury occurred yesterday at
about 4:15pm. According to what we saw, it's only now
coming up on 7:30am. That's still way too long."

Kasumi blinked, then realized that the ersatz Nabiki was accessing her own
medical knowledge. "Not if you factor in the chi-enhanced healing factor and the
very real possibility of a minor blood vessel being the site of leakage. Some
clotting may have occurred, which carries its own problems, of course."

Ranma nodded, remembering all those medical texts that he had read all the time.
Or rather that Kasumi had read all the time. "Guys, while you're still separate,
what's gonna happen to me? I mean, I feel the same, I guess, but if I stop to
think about it...I'm not."

Nabiki winked and leaned back in her chair. "You'll grow, Ranma. We'll grow,
rather. None of us dying, but rather the memories and personalities you've
picked up will be added to your own. Supplementing your Self rather than
supplanting it, if I might get poetic."

"Ranma, I check out. We not in immediate danger." Shampoo spoke up, her eyes
still fixed on
something only she could see. "Spatula girl..."

"Why can't you just use my name?" Ukyou glared at Shampoo.

"You know why. Shampoo feel inadequate next to Spatula Girl and Violent
Pervert." Shampoo
shrugged. "Search our memories. You've been Ranma's friend and childhood
confidante, Violent Pervert Girl captured Ranma's heart by being first girl to
ever act nice to him. Otherwise she'd have been dumped a long time ago, but now
there real affection. Even if Akane seems to be real dominatrix type under it
all."

"Gak!" Ranma wondered where THAT had come from. These were all parts of himself,
weren't they?
Or did he get more of the original than he'd thought?

"Ranma, I've got to answer the door. Get to a doctor as soon as possible."
Kasumi excused herself and vanished.

Ranma shrugged. "OK, so, what do we do about our current situation?"

"Well, you could elope with Ucchan!" Ukyou suggested brightly.

"Stupid Spatula Girl," Shampoo said, sulking a little. "Why not go to
Nekohanten? Great Grandmother know much Chinese medicine. She at least able to
make diagnosis."

Nabiki held up a finger. "Mousse." A second finger went up. "The possibility of
getting crated and carted off to China while unconcious."

Shampoo snorted. "That no happen. If that was plan, would have happened long
time ago."

Nabiki held a third finger off. "You HAVE been known to play with odd foodstuffs
before."

"That was before Shampoo understand airen's feelings on that!"

"Shampoo still doesn't understand. You do, because you're part of the whole!"

Kasumi reappeared in a Star Trek (old series) transporter effect. "I've always
wanted to try that," she giggled happily. "Oh, that was Cologne. Everyone knows
where you are now. Well, except for Akane and Nabiki who are at school now. It
looks like Ucchan took the day off to nurse you back to health."

Ranma blinked at Kasumi referring to Ucchan as Ucchan.

"So that means that Shampoo will be arriving soon," Ukyou noted. "She's not
going to let a rival like Ucchan spend quality time nursing you back to health
without at least a token argument."

"And if I know about it," Nabiki frowned, "then I _might_ sell the information
to Kodachi. I would really object to adding her persona and memories to this
gestalt."

"Kasumi, I hope to talk to you face-to-face soon." Ranma stood up from the
table. "I think we've spent too much time unconscious as it is."

--------------------------------

"Urgh."

"Ranchan!" Ukyou immediately clapped her hands over her mouth and winced. "I was
so worried about you, you jerk!"

"Know that, Ucchan." Ranma slowly uncurled himself from the covers. "You deserve
a lot better than me, ya know?"

Ukyou blinked. That hadn't sounded like Ranma AT ALL. She rallied after a
moment. "Well, it doesn't matter what I deserve, since what I want is..."

"I know, Ucchan. More than you'd believe, I know." Ranma sighed as deeply as he
could without making new lances of pain go through his head. "Oh, and you'd
better come in now Shampoo, it's going to rain some more."

Ukyou stared at the empty window for a moment before a head popped up into view.

"Even when airen badly injured, he still goodly martial artist."

"Well it's that 'wild berry' perfume you use, Shampoo." Ranma stopped. Keeping
either of them going any longer would just hurt them more in the long run. "Come
on, Ucchan, Shampoo. Let's go see if the old ghoul can do something about this
headache."

----------------Day Two, early afternoon----------------------

Upon entering the Nekohanten, the first thing noted was that it was closed.

Upon entering, Shampoo also decided not to put off something she'd been meaning
to do for awhile. Shampoo glomped Ranma, only to be shocked almost to immobility
by something she had NEVER expected.

Ranma was squeezing back, lightly but he was doing it.

It required martial arts discipline worthy of the Nichieju Champion to remind
herself that her airen was injured and that picking him up and carrying him off
to do some serious snuggling would probably aggravate his condition. It was a
close thing though. Very close.

"Shampoo, I am so very, VERY, sorry."

Shampoo's eyes went wide and she began to pull back. Was this it? Had he made a
choice and it wasn't her? Was this the kiss goodbye?

"I've been acting like a jerk, and...I don't really deserve you."

There was a thump as an eavesdropping Mousse fell down a set of stairs in order
to perform a 15' spinning facefault. Only that he was currently in duck form
kept him from seriously injuring himself on some hidden weapons.

Cologne, also listening, briefly held up a scorecard marked "5.5"

"Airen, what you say? You..."

"-Yes, Shampoo. I know about your laws. I know that you can't go home without
me. I also know I could never be comfortable living in your homeland, though. I
could never settle for a role simply as Shampoo's foreign husband.-"

"-Husband speaks Mandarin?-" Shampoo blinked as Ranma's words penetrated.
"-Ranma, you don't have to...-"

"-C'mon, Shampoo, I know better. Males in your village don't do too well, do
they? Why do you think they keep to their places? Can you really picture me as a
quiet little homebody?-"

"-No...-" Shampoo's voice broke. "-But I...-"

"-I know, Shampoo, I know.-" Ranma knew quite well about Shampoo's feelings for
him.

"-So who...-"

Ukyou was staring at Ranma. She didn't understand the conversation but it was
obvious that something was going on. Something that Ranma regretted and that was
upsetting Shampoo.

"-None of the above.-" Ranma smiled a little as Shampoo started studying his
face. "-Akane loves me but resents me. I'm not any good for her. Ukyou is first
and foremost a businesswoman, and her greatest love will always be okonomiyaki.
Kodachi, once she actually had me, would drop me and move on to other interests.
She's a compulsive-obsessive like her brother.-"

"-So, your main objection to me is that I must return to the village? That you
can't accept the role of meek husband?-" Shampoo felt hope beating within her.
If she married Ranma, the Village would be their home. Where they lived was
relatively unimportant. And as for a meek husband, if she had wanted one of
those she could have found one back in her village.

"-That, you turn into a cat, and your moral/ethical structure is based on
completely different values than the Japanese standards I'm used to.-" Ranma
looked into her eyes, silently rejoicing that the eyecatch effect seemed to have
stopped working. Or maybe it just worked once with a given individual.

Shampoo blinked and Mousse facefaulted again. Cologne, still hidden, merely
looked thoughtful.

"-Was this when I tried the Red String or was it the Mushrooms?-" Shampoo shook
her head. "-Husband. I can't do anything about the cat curse. I...understand.-"
*Understand that he's still injured and not himself. When Ranma gets better,
he'll see that I love him. Even if I never go back to the village, I won't give
up on Ranma!*

"Anybody wanna repeat any of that in Japanese?" Ukyou was getting tired of being
left out of this conversation.

Ranma started the task of explaining this to Ukyou. His gaze never left hers,
and she could feel the compassion and regret coming from him.

*Saotome is giving up? Letting me go about the task of winning my Shampoo?*

*Son in law has changed. This much of a personality dislocation from a head
injury is not a good sign, though I must admit I like the change. I wonder if it
could be? No! It couldn't be!*

Ranma winced a little in anticipation. Cologne had figured it out?

*He must have another girlfriend!*

Ranma considered facefaulting but decided it would hurt too much.

Shocked certainty radiated from where Cologne was standing on the head of her
staff. *Someone mature and responsible, who is bringing those very qualities out
in him. Well, well....AH HAH! So that's why Ranma was teaching Kasumi Tendo his
moves. So she would be able to defend herself when all the other suitors found
out about it.* Cologne started radiating pleasure as she put together pieces of
a puzzle, not realizing that she was completely wrong as it made perfect sense
to her. *So, while everyone watches the magician misdirecting everyone with the
colored scarves, the real trick is being performed under their noses. Until this
injury set things off, even I was fooled by this act. Brilliant.*

Ranma blinked, now looking into Shampoo's eyes as he listened to the rapidfire
thinking going on in Cologne's mind. "Shampoo, Ukyou, I..."

*RANMA!* A shocked thought from Kasumi and an image. Of looking through Kasumi's
eyes and seeing both her sisters gaping at Shampoo holding Ranma tightly as he
looked into her eyes.

"RRRRRRRRANMA!!!" Akane started to go ballistic, reconsidered and went to
supraorbital instead. *Jealousy/anger/hate/fear/envy. I worried about him and
here he is flirting with Shampoo!?* "YOU IDIOT!"

Her fist connected as Ranma tried to free himself. There was a moment of
stabbing pain.

======================================================

CHOOSE YOUR OWN ENDING! Yes, folks, some of you won't be satisfied with the way
I originally saw this ending, so here are optional endings for this story line.
Just Delete the ones you don't like and you have the way you prefer the story to
end. (Anybody who wants to add additional endings just send 'em on.)

Some of these endings have been requested by various kindly readers.

====================ENDING ONE: ORIGINAL ENDING==============

Kasumi gripped her sister's shoulder, lending comfort to the stricken teenager
as the cardboard box containing Ranma Saotome went into the inferno. The ashes
would be collected later and the Saotome family shrine would hold them for
awhile before they would be scattered to the wind, to ride free and unfettered
in the air of the Bayankala mountain range. As it had been where his life had
changed so much, it was only fitting.

Nabiki sniffled a bit as the door shut behind the box.

Akane, however, was home in her room. Still under sedation. It also kept her
safe from being spatulaed into something you could slip through a mailslot, or
beaten mercilessly by a certain grieving amazon. Also she'd nearly cleaned the
skin of that hand off, convinced that some of Ranma's blood and spatter still
clung to it.

Kodachi was also home, also under sedation. Especially after Tatewaki had
started an especially loud and annoying speech about finally having defeated the
evil Saotome's spell over Akane Tendo. Tatewaki Kuno was currently in Nerima
General having been simultaneously been spatulated, bonboried, and gymnastic
clubbed immediately after having given said speech.

"He's still with us, you know," Kasumi said, smiling down at her sister. "I'm
sure of it."

"Yeah, right, Kasumi." Nabiki began the task of putting the Ice Queen mask on.
"S'funny, with you wearing those pants and tying your hair back like that, you
look a bit different."

"Well," Kasumi shrugged and gave a crooked little smile at her sister, "I'm an
heir to the Anything Goes style too, and my old clothes just didn't work for
that."

Nabiki frowned a little, but nodded.

*Kasumi, you think she bought it?*

Kasumi smiled at the voice in her mind, the voice of someone who had fled a
dying body along the connection between their minds. *Of course, Ranma-kun. Why
wouldn't she?*

There was a chuckle as both parties realized that the Houses had indeed been
united.

=================ENDING #2: Akane-ite Ending=============

Kasumi hid her feelings on watching the usual morning scene. There was Ranma
sparring with his father. There was Ranma falling into the pond. There was
another casual insult from Akane, followed by the usual thoughtless response
from Ranma.

Nabiki smirking at the whole thing as she announced she was off to school,
followed by Akane and Ranma going into the "I'm gonna be late now" panic.

Things were back to normal. Well, mostly back to normal. Nabiki was still
looking at Ranma as if she longed to see something that just wasn't there
anymore. Akane was now striking Ranma on areas besides the head, mainly the
stomach and groin area. Ukyou and Shampoo were trying harder than ever to
insinuate themselves between Akane and Ranma. Ranma complained of headaches a
lot more.

Kasumi waited for everyone to leave, then quietly slipped her gi back on and
finished her morning katas.

Yes, everything was back to normal.

====================ENDING #3:THAT WHICH DOES NOT KILL US================

Ranma woke up alone in the hospital. When a nurse came in he flinched when their
eyes met, but nothing happened. This brought a smile to his face more than the
exchanged meaningless pleasantries.

He waited until the nurse had left before trying something else. *Kasumi?*

*Ah, Ranma-kun. Are you feeling better? (Amusement/worry/exasperation.)*

*I still hurt, but they've apparently got me on medication. Whassup?
(Curiosity/reassurance/worry.)*

Kasumi sent a scene from memory.

--------------------

Her hands stabbing out rapidly into the flames, pulling one after another of the
chestnuts out and flicking them quickly into a pan of cool water. Pride at
having accomplished this, and in only three days!

Kasumi felt her smile at the accomplishment fade a little as she turned towards
the patio, to see that the others had returned a bit earlier than expected.
Akane's reaction was the most extreme, looking as if she wanted to cry or run
away. Nabiki dropped her rice cracker. The team of Soun and Genma blinked at
her, blinked at each other, and then shrugged as if to say "big deal." Her
father fainting a moment later kind of threw the act off.

The sound of someone laughing drew everyone's attention to the wall, where
Cologne was looking down on all and sundry. Especially she was regarding Kasumi.

"Well, well, child. You are doing exceptionally well indeed." Cologne left the
wall to hop next to Kasumi and look up into her eyes. "Tell me, child, have you
ever considered learning some of the special manuevers? Most of the amazons
learn the Breaking Point as the toughness that manuever develops makes for
easier childbirths. Perhaps the Xi Fang Gao?"

"You're offering to train me? You took a much different approach with Ranma..."
Kasumi blinked. Why was everyone paying attention to her now? She preferred to
sit at the sidelines. All she had wanted to do was improve her speed a bit,
after all THAT had uses besides fighting.

"Son-in-law is male and prideful, though that's redundant." Cologne's smile
looked a little wistful. "Also I may, just may, have mishandled the situation
upon arriving."

"Amazon gift for understatement," mumbled Nabiki though loud enough for it to
carry into the yard.

"I must say, Tendo-san, you had even me fooled." Cologne snickered at the jest.
"You surprised me, and that's something I get all too little of at my age."

"Fooled?" Kasumi knew this was going entirely the wrong way.

"Fooled?" Akane's voice sounded a little puzzled.

"Oh yes," Cologne grinned like a wolf. "There's a definite connection between
you and son-in-law, isn't there? I don't know when it developed, I don't know
HOW it developed, but it's a good deal stronger than the relationship between
Akane and Ranma, isn't it?"

Kasumi stepped back, wondering if the matriarch had learned of the telepathic
connection. She couldn't have, could she?

Nabiki started to laugh, then abruptly started choking. Kasumi looked towards
her sister and saw the blood drain from her face. Oh, dear. Akane's expression
wasn't much better.

"I'm sorry, but Akane is Ranma's fiancee." Kasumi wouldn't mention the link or
that she understood dear sweet Ranma-kun much better now than Akane did. She was
sure that she could get the two of them together now without much problem. At
least unless outside interference...

"Why would I want to marry that...baka?" Akane's voice didn't have a great deal
of conviction in it and Kasumi noted that the look coming her way from Akane was
filled with new worries.

Then again, Kasumi began to reconsider the possibilities.

Cologne shrugged. "Maybe I'm wrong. It wouldn't be the first time. Well,
Tendo-san, consider my offer. It's rare that I get the chance to teach TWO
people with such talent."

--------------------------------------------

*Oh my.* Ranma summed up.

*That was pretty much MY reaction.* Kasumi's mental voice paused with a wave of
embarrassment. *Ranma-kun?*

*Yes, Kasumi-chan?*

*We're in all sorts of trouble, aren't we?*

*When they release me, I'd say so. We probably have less than a day to make
plans. On the good news, I no longer have a version of Nabiki, Shampoo,Ukyou or
yourself within me. They are part of me now. I'm not sure how to feel about
that. I can use a spatula or whip up okonomiyaki as well as Ucchan, I have
Nabiki's knowledge of photography if not her skill, I know the lore and art of
the Amazons as well as Shampoo does...and I know how to cook.*

*Yes, and I was extremely frightened by a cat today. I think I may have the
catfist technique. Ranma? What are we going to do?*

*Kasumi-chan, I have no idea.*

---------------Ending 4 by Jason Liao---------------

Ranma spun around from the blow, his head ringing in pain as he turned towards
Akane.

Contact.

---------

Akane stared at her hands as if they were not her own. How could she have done
such a thing to someone with a head injury?

"Akane..."

How would Ranma think of her now? Would he forgive her? Would this be the end...

"...no..."

Akane glanced up, to see Ranma manifesting a battle aura, and wielding a mallet.

"...BAKA!!!"

*wham*

---------------Ending 5: The nerv of that boy option-----------

Ranma awoke and KNEW, everything in his life had suddenly crystalized into sharp
focus. Everything he'd undergone, every trial and torment, those brief moments
of happiness, the long periods of loneliness and despair.

And not only his own life. It made sense of *everything* - the meaning of life
and the universe and everything. Even his father made sense now! The sound of one
hand clapping. Happosai's recharge technique and why he turned out the way he did.
The secret ingredient in Pepsi. The exact recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken. The
nature of magic. How many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie pop.
The simplest method for removing a Jusenkyo curse.

It was all related. It was all so obvious.

"The blind men and the elephant," Ranma whispered as his eyes went wide at something
only he could see. "I was too close to see. The same with all of us. So beautiful."

The screech of the various monitors brought the nurses, but there was no sign of
Ranma Saotome to be found.


-------------Ending 6: time enough for love---------

Ranma wandered the streets, deliberately not looking at anyone. No eye contact
meant no sudden deluge of memories.

He could *feel* presences around him now. His new talent, or curse, or whatever
you wanted to call it, had gotten stronger. He could feel the presences of people
and animals around him, glowing in all sorts of shades and intensities.

Not looking at anyone had a major benefit. No one else inside his skull, though
the personas of the various girls had already faded as they became one with him.

Which brought him to why he had had to get away. Akane didn't understand, and
from what he knew of her from the memories of both Nabiki and Kasumi - she never
would. Like he had until recently, she insisted on her own viewpoint being
exclusively correct.

He'd loved Akane, or perhaps obsessed on her would be a better description. Still,
it might have grown past that stage and become something more. As long as he had
remained the simple minded, obsessive, jerk he had been. As long as she had been
the kind hearted cute but "violent maniac" girl who could endlessly switch from
one extreme to the other almost without warning. Her chaos had attracted him, and
vice versa, perhaps. Now, however, he had grown. As a person, as a martial artist,
as... a being.

Ranma smirked as he found a quiet place within a park. Who would have thought
that *he* would be getting introspective and analyzing his existence? Heck, few
people would have thought he could *spell* introspective - even using katakana.

He'd had to get away from everyone he knew, though he could still feel his
connection to Kasumi like a thread that wound across the miles. Too many questions
that he still couldn't answer, too many concerns, too many people who felt that
they owned him, or obsessed on him, or simply hated him. Or a new feeling now,
and one that sickened him - feared him.

As long as he kept moving, he could come to terms with what he was. And maybe
what he was becoming.

The sounds of a fight interrupted his speculation and proved irresistible.
Had they somehow found him, even in a distant ward of Tokyo? If so, he would
have to leave the country to find the solitude he craved. Some nice deserted
island sounded right.

There. A bunch of cheerleaders, perhaps like that Mariko Konjo girl. Fighting
something that looked, well, just plain silly. Though it felt *wrong* somehow.
The cheerleaders he glimpsed before averting his gaze again. Each glowed with a
single bright color to his new sense. Their opponent was blackness, darkness,
a corrupted scab filled with vileness.

Motion nearby, from someone who had somehow masked themselves from even his
trained martial artist senses until he felt their "light" focus briefly on
them. Unfortunately, he couldn't resist. He looked up, briefly glimpsing red
eyes that looked back at him.

*Contact*

//Kneeling before the Queen, accepting the Staff and the duty. / Standing by the
Gate, watching as Beryl's Shadow covered the land and shattered the Pax Imperial./
10,000 years of loneliness, held at bay only by the vigil. Sadness, loneliness,
frustration. Only one thing, one cause, to keep the shadows at bay. Crystal Tokyo.
And the geas to force the timeline to that end. Cursing ancient Queen Serenity
who laid that geas and task upon her./ Watching as Serenity-ojime was reborn and
faced Beryl. Hope flaring that the vigil would end.//

Ranma gasped as he tried to fit way too many memories together. Then the startled
look from the woman watching in the shadows.

Ranma smirked and turned towards where the beast was still fighting the cheerleaders.
There was something else he had to do, but for now he just couldn't resist turning
towards the menace and using just one simple new move.

"...dead scream..." whispered Ranma, before Kasumi's instincts caused him to hug the
girl with the scarlet eyes, and offer what comfort he could. The burden of 10,000
years wasn't ended but perhaps...

Perhaps it could be shared.


ja ne,
gregg
the purpose of this fic was merely to entertain. All other use voids warranty.
http://metroanime.home.mindspring.com/