When you're in love
You know you're in love
No matter what you try to do
You might as well resign yourself
To what you're going through
If you're a hard man or if you're a child
It still might get to you
Don't kid yourself you've seen it all before
A million mouths have said that too
-The Human League
#1: "It's Good to Know"
Ranma Saotome landed on the streets of Shibuya with a thump. These days, his preferred form of roof hopping involved the tall sky scrapers of central Tokyo. It had taken about 10 years of living, but his life was in something of a comfortable balance. He had actually gotten into and graduated college (after discovering the existence of Nippon Sport Science University), had married Akane after graduation, opened the dojo in Nerima, had two rambuctuous children (technically Akane only had the first. The second involved certain extenuating circumstances), and received Master status from Happosai, who began training Ranma in earnest (though admittedly the price for doing so was having to train in female form, usually wearing frilly lingerie under her gi).
Sundays, however, were something of a free day. Kasumi and Tofu would come with her children and set up a play date with the kids or Nodoka would come and spoil the grandchildren while Genma and Soun would busy themselves as they had since, seemingly, time eternal, drinking and shogi. This meant that Ranma and Akane would have a free moment to themselves. Sometimes they used the time to hang out with each other and do some of the things young couples do that, because of the messes present in their adolescence, they never had the chance to do, such as take the train to Chiba and go to Disneyworld or go on a day-trip to a hot springs. Other times they would spend the day at their own leisure, usually with Ranma running off to challenge dojos, or go see the Tokyo Giants with Mousse and Ukyo and Akane going shopping with her sisters or watching a J-League soccer game with Ryouga and Shampoo.
Today though, they decided to spend the time doing a little bit of both. Ranma, Akane, and Nabiki agreed to meet up in Shibuya that afternoon to go shopping, though Ranma decided on getting there from Nerima by going on a 'free-run'. He had gotten the idea from watching a television show on French parkour kids and, seeing what relatively untrained people could do, wanted to see if he could take it up a notch.
This led to a fairly ambitious run, though parking garages, along subway tracks, and, of course, roof hopping along the skyscrapers that buffeted the Yamanote Line jumping back and forth until he reached central Shibuya. He almost spooked the soccer game that was happening on the roof of the Toykyu Toyoko West Department Store when he landed on the center of the pitch and bounded off again, jumping over the gigantic crosswalk on Inokashira Dori, landing on the Tsutaya Building and finally jumping onto the roof of Tower Records and, with a small flip, landing on the street below, using various architectural features to slow his descent while using as little ki as possible.
Ranma looked at his phone and smiled. It was 12:37 which meant he had about 20 minutes to kill before he was supposed to meet up with Nabiki and Akane. They had left at about the same time, but took the train since, while Akane was no slouch and could probably come close to keeping up with ther husband, Nabiki was not inclined to spend her time running across three wards of Tokyo to go shopping.
Ranma wandered about looking for a convenience store, eventually finding a Lawson just a few blocks away from the station. He wandered in and and picked up a liter bottle of water and, one of his newest obsessions, a novelty beverage. He wasn't exactly proud of it, but he liked the funky packaging and, as long as it wasn't too cutesy, he would buy it in his guy form. Looking at the various refrigerated shelves he found nothing of interest. He almost went with his go-to Pocari Sweat when he saw his picture on a bottle.
More accurately he saw a cartoonish doodle of himself as a girl, smiling and holding a giant strawberry on her index finger. The drawing was just an outline, which displayed the dark pink beverage inside. He looked at the name of the Beverage and almost dropped the bottle of water he was holding.
Fruit Flavor with the Power to Transform your Thirst!
Ranma looked at the nearby bottle, seeing similar packaging which cute drawings of cats, ducks, pigs, and pandas. Picking up a bottle of the yellow beverage, labeled 'P-chan Blackberry Lemonade', he read the back information.
Okomomi Foods, Inc.
A Division of
New Jiezu Industries
Bottled in Osaka
Twitching, he bought the bottle of Strawberry Lemonade and began slowly walking back towards their arranged meeting spot, the Seibu Shibuya Department Store. Ranma took a large swig of the bottle of water, drinking about half of it before stopping and pouring the remainder of the contents on himself, wondering what sort of indignities they'd be asking him to try on, particularly his sister-in law, who had gone from simple Ice Queen to practically a corporate dominatrix. He felt a twinge of pity for the poor employees who worked for her.
Slowly sipping the other beverage, Ranma shook her head dry and stretched outside of the department store until she saw her wife and sister-in law approach.
Ranma ran up to her wife and the couple gave each other a light hug and kiss as Nabiki watched, smirking.
"Jeez you kids, it's been what, an hour and a half? Save it for when Ranma-chan here comes back from a training trip."
"Yeah Yeah, Biki-chan. I can't be happy ta see my own wife now?"
"I'm just jerking your chain, kid," Nabiki said, smiling and scruffing the hair of the currently shorter martial artist, mostly because this was her only chance to physically mess with her sister's spouse.
"Hey! Quit that!" Ranma said, pouting slightly before remembering the bottle in her hand, "Oh yeah! Nabiki!" her tone became irate as as she pushed the bottle towards her sister-in law's face, "Ya wanna explain what the hell I'm doin' on a bottle of fruit-flavored swill?"
Nabiki's eyes widened, "You have changed. In high school, you wouldn't have been caught dead buying something that pink. Not without a full 'girly-girl' getup, anyway."
Ranma shrugged, "What can I tell ya? You grow up, have kids, that kinda crap don't seem so important anymore. Quit dodgin' the question! What the hell is this 'JuiceSenkyo' crap?"
Nabiki smiled and put a hand on her shoulder, shaking her head solemnly, "Ranma, Ranma, Ranma. Don't you remember? That contract you signed?"
"I don't remember any contract that I- eep!" Ranma put a hand to her mouth, her eyes wide in shock.
"You-eep?" Akane asked.
Ranma shrank behind Akane as she spoke to her sister-in-law, "You don't mean that one from that one time. In college where..."
Nabiki gave a thin smile and nodded, "That's exactly the one I mean, Ranma-chan."
Ranma felt dizzy for a second, her head swimming as the memories returned. Akane for her part kept alternating glances between the tiny red-haired woman she was married to and the tall brown-haired woman who was her closest family relation.
"What the hell is this all about, Nabiki?" Akane asked, concern growing into annoyance.
Nabiki shrugged, "Ask her, I just capitalized on a marvelous business opportunity."
"Oh, um... uh..." Ranma was visibly sweating now, particular as Akane turned to see her husband cowering.
"Ranma..." Akane said in a quiet, low tone. The last decade had mellowed her anger out or, rather, the way she expressed it. These days, rather than explosive outbursts of rage usually accompanied with fists or conveniently placed blunt objects, she spoke in low, guttural tones when upset. Ranma knew this was one of those times.
Ranma thought fast, flipping through her father's playbook for these sorts of situations and throwing it away in disgust when she realized that, one, this was a situation her father had never come up against and two, most of his go-to solutions were completely idiotic. The red haired woman sighed and looked up to her wife.
"Akane... it was back in college, before we got married, but after we..." Ranma looked around, nervous, then stood up on her tiptoes and whispered in Akane's ears, "...together... other way... packet".
Akane blushed and said, "Oh! Okay."
"Yeah, 'bout a month after that, I got blitzed at that one party Nabiki had at her place. I think you had a term paper or somethin' so you couldn't go? Well I got wasted. Like really wasted. Somehow, I got beer or punch or something spilled on me.
"Ah yes. The good old days where cheap beer and grain alcohol infused fruit juice were high living. Well for the proles we invited, I suppose it was. I had champagne cocktails with Tatchi."
Akane nodded, "Oh, that's right! You were dating Kuno then... was that right before you broke up?"
"That's right. We had a... 'disagreement' involving your husband here."
"What kind of disagreement?" Akane asked flatly as she looked at the two, lining up the evidence in her head.
"Um.. Like I said I was blitzed. I woke up at like two in the mornin' I didn't even realize where I was and there was this... jeez this is embarrassin', but... ya know when we did uh, 'that thing' the first time, I told ya you looked a bit like Kuno?"
"Yes, but..." Akane's eyes widened and her jaw dropped, "you didn't!"
"I thought he was you. I'm sorry, Akane. I, uh... saw him, pulled him down, and gave him the biggest kiss, thinkin' I was kissin' you. It, uh, kinda went downhill from there."
Nabiki clarified, her mouth curled up in impish glee, "Well, as I recall, it went better than that, Saotome. Mostly because you woke me up, you banshee. I wasn't too happy seeing you screw my boyfriend, even if you thought he was your girlfriend."
Ranma winced. The event was traumatic for several reasons. One was the obvious having slept with someone other than Akane. Another was the fact that the person in question was another guy, even if he bore an uncanny resemblance to his fiancée after a bath in Instant Nanniichuan. Finally, was the fact that the event had, along with the previous 'maneuvers' with Akane, broken whatever pretense Ranma had about the curse having had no effect on him.
While it was true that the curse didn't magically do anything to Ranma's psyche, the martial artist had slowly admitted to himself that the ability to change perspectives had warped almost every belief system held up to him as 'normal' and 'the way things were'. He had an inkling of this understanding as early as the ice skating incident when he utilized the curse, first to avoid embarrassment as a guy who couldn't skate and, later to beat the living daylights out of the man who forcibly stole her first kiss. But it wasn't until after high school, when he had settled into a steady relationship with Akane, that Ranma began to admit that he was more than the dogma espoused by his parents wanted him to be. The experimentation with Instant Naniichuan had merely pushed the bar further until that fateful night that was now being discussed in the open air.
Either way, she did not want to remember the aftermath of the event, especially after waking to realize it was not a Tendo she had spent the night with, but a Kuno. After screaming and beating the dope to within an inch of his life, she signed the secrecy contracts Nabiki conveniently had drawn up while still nursing a hangover.
Ranma had wanted to ask Nabiki what was in the contract, but her mind re-focused to the present situation realizing Akane hadn't said anything and made any indication in her expression that she had parsed what was told.
He noted, trying to end the trip down memory lane, "And that's why I stop at two scotches now."
Akane pointed a finger to interject "So wait... you mean Kuno... and you..."
Ranma nodded solemnly.
Akane was silent. She had not even opened her mouth. Ranma was worried as she saw her wife's face turn red, looking for all the world like a volcano about to erupt. Ranma winced, remembering the olden days of rage-induced beatdowns.
The volcano that was Akane Saotome erupted, though in a far different manner than expected.
Ranma and Nabiki blinked as they saw the woman roll on the ground laughing hysterically, holding her sides in a desperate attempt to control herself.
"Hahaha! Kuno and! Ku-! Hahaha! H-he got his... Hahaha! He got his pig-tailed girl, after all! Oh jeez!"
The laughter suddenly stopped as she sprung in front of Ranma, quickly saying, "don't think this doesn't mean I'm not mad at you, girl!"
Ranma gulped and stood stock still.
Akane asked, in a level tone borne from curiosity, "Why didn't you tell me?"
Ranma looked down, "'cause... I was embarrassed. It's easily one of the dumbest things I ever did. Plus... come on, it was Kuno for cryin' out loud!"
Akane touched her husband's delicate jaw and lifted it up to look at her in the eyes.
"Ranma, I'm disappointed to hear that you didn't trust me enough to tell me when it happened. But... it seems like you paid for your stupidity, as usual."
"Yeah... sorry, 'kane," Ranma replied, looking down and away.
Akane let go and wiped her hands clean, "Well that's all in the past. I forgive you dear, provided you let me purchase a few goods as... payback."
Ranma raised an eyebrow, "You already control the checkbook. Go hog-wild on whatever crazy outfit or whatever you're planning for yourself or the kids."
Akane shook her head as a mischievous look appeared, "Oh, I think you misunderstand what I mean by 'payback'."
The taller Saotome grabbed the shorter one's arm and, Nabiki following, they resumed walking towards the large department store.
Ranma sighed in both relief and trepidation when she stopped and jerked her head back.
"Wait wait wait!" she said raising her hands wildly, "I didn't even get my answer! What am I doin' on a bottle of lemonade?"
Nabiki looked her nose down at Ranma, replying, "I was wondering when you would remember, Ranma-chan. Well that contract you signed stipulates that I own all rights to your image on any non-martial arts related goods and paraphernalia."
"It means that I own the right to put your face on anything from shoe polish to sex toys, as long as it isn't martial arts related. I figured you'd be franchising the Dojo before long so I wasn't going to enter that market, anyways. Frankly, I've just been using your cursed form since she's more marketable."
"So you've been making money off of my looks since college? I guess that ain't too different from high school."
"Well, I also felt a bit sorry for you. So I added a clause that offers you a 10% royalty for any licensing agreements we came up with."
"And where is that 10%?" Akane asked.
"I figured you two would want to start early on paying Yuriko and Ryuuji's college tuition. It's in a farily stable mutual fund. Pretty decent interest rate, all told."
Ranma looked unsure, but slowly nodded, "Well... I guess that's all right, but... Okonomi Foods? New Jiezu Industries? I take it you and Ucchan and the Old Ghoul have been up to something?"
"Oh, that old negotiation? I hardly remember whose cockamamie idea that was at this point. I'm surprised you just noticed Saotome. Actually, now that I think about it, I'm surprised yor kids haven't asked why you're on half of their snacks."
Ranma blinked, "Wait, it's more than these JuiceSenKyo deals?"
Nabiki narrowed her eyes, "... you don't pay attention to whatever garbage you're shoveling down your mouth between meals do you?"
Ranma rubbed the back of her head dumbly, "Well I, uh... no. "
"Oh for the love of-! You're worse than a child!" Akane exclaimed.
"Hey, I cut back! 'specially since you finally figured out how to cook stuff other than curry and rice."
Akane rolled her eyes, "Nabiki, why did I marry this idiot?"
Nabiki donned an uncharacteristic smirk, "At your bachelorette party, I recall something about 'staying power', 'girth', and 'being the only boy who knows where the G-spot is'... Oh! And the whole 'saved your life multiple times, is honorable to a fault, and loves you to death' thing. No reason, really."
Ranma sighed, "this is why I love goin' shopping with you guys."
Akane grabbed the red-haired woman's arm. As they finally enetered the mall, she said, "Come on Ranma, You still have to pay for your stupidity."
That evening, after the children were asleep, Ranma Saotome, Master of Anything Goes Martial Arts was facing yet another challenge. This challenge presented unique challenges, such as a shift in terrain from the Dojo to the Master bedroom and in garb, from the typical kung-fu clothing to the 'present' Akane had purchased earlier that day.
The currently feminine martial artist sighed. She idly wished she was as inebriated as she had been on that fateful night in college. "Still," she admitted to herself, "The lingerie's a nice enough color, not too frou-frou, and 'kane was nice enough not ta make me wear a thong... but I don't get what she wants me ta do. Hopefully not run up and down the neighborhood, like she made Ryouga do when she finally figured out pig boy was P-chan. At least I'm clothed, kinda."
Lost in her reverie, she did not hear her wife approach until the door flug open suddenly. Ranma blinked her eyes, unsure if the presence in front of her was not the result of accumulated brain damage.
The tall, brown-haired man, clad in dark blue hakama and a keikogi, left open to expose a sculpted chest. His face was chisled and warm, the only thing disrupting the portrayal of Japanese manhood was a pair of diamond stud earrings. He pointed a wooden booken at Ranma and cried, "Nay, honorable pigtailed girl, 'tis I, Tatewaki Tendo! I have arrived to exact the countenance you warrant so richly."
"Uh-wha-huh" Ranma articulately replied.
The errant kendoist bopped Ranma in the head with the bokken and said, in an effeminate tenor, "jeez, just play along, dummy."
Ranma's left eye twitched as she began wondering if the malletings had been so bad after all.
Melting into her masculine wife's embrace, Ranma quipped, "I can't believe you used to run around calling me a pervert."
"Shut up and kiss me, idiot," was all that Akane said before reaching down to kiss his husband's lips.
Don't mind me. This is not at all representative of my other works. Merely a chance to dabble in fluff and somewhat sexualized situations. This merits no discussion of characterization, motivation and canon/non-canon behavior. The Juicesenkyo bit came to me while trying to wake up one morning and I liked that the pun works in Japanese (I can imagine, in some stylized font ジュース泉郷!). The who story about college just emerged as I was trying to write dialogue between Ranma and Nabiki.
Okay, I have a large headache and will be going to bed. Real stories will be finished soon. I'm too exhausted to settle on timetable anymore.