Preface

Here's another story from my site. It's based on events from the manga, which I have to mention because a few people have brought two relevant distinctions between it and the anime to my attention.

I wrote this story eight years ago at the time of my writing this preface, but what you see now is rather different from what I had written back then. I've become a different person since that time, and while I still liked the premise of this story I could no longer relate to what my former self had done with it. It was embarrassing, to say the least. So, I changed it: the dojo scene was significantly revised, and everything after that was tossed out and rewritten from scratch.

This story was born out of the desire to cause a significant amount of change as a result of making a rather insignificant change initially. I'm not entirely happy with this latest incarnation, but I think it's way better than the last. Perhaps, if my environment hadn't been so far from ideal for writing lately, I would be more confident with what I have here — but, alas. I can only hope that it's still enjoyable enough despite my doubts.

New: An idea for a sequel occurred to me, and I decided to write it at some unknown point in the future. Yay?

Story

When Shampoo had erased Akane's memory of Ranma by using the Xi Fa Xiang Gao shiatsu technique, he eventually had to resort to making a deal with her, one where he would have to "almost-kill" his girl side in order to get the nine-one-one shampoo that he needed to restore Akane's memory of him. However, it hadn't been as easy as he had first thought: instead of Ryoga succeeding in helping him (after a bit of "convincing"), he had ended up knocking out his "helper" instead.

His father and Mr. Tendo had been more than willing to help out afterward, but they had certainly taken their time with him and had made no real progress. Then Akane had entered the picture and had the nerve to call him a weakling, not once but twice. After all that he had gone through with Shampoo (who either wanted to kill him or love him), not to mention having to put up with Akane's inability to remember him at every given turn, he had finally lost it and took his frustrations out on the latter.

That's what he would have normally done by that point, but — in this case — he didn't get a chance to...


"Don't pick on this poor weakling!" Akane declared while she interposed herself between the stranger and her father, due to the latter tossing the former. "I'll fight you, if you want!"

"Hey!" Ranma protested from the floor, before he stood up, wobbled over to Akane and demanded, "You stay out of this!"

Being that Ranma was the stranger that Akane had been referring to, he had received a decent beating from his father and Mr. Tendo, and thus looked like crap. Fortunately for him, he looked worse than he actually felt, having recovered enough after being worked over by both parents.

With her arms akimbo and a frown on her face, Akane challengingly posed, "Why should I, weakling?"

Angry at being insulted once again, Ranma leaned into Akane's face and snapped back, saying, "Who do you think I'm taking this for, anyway!?" Then, after leaping back to set some distance between them, Ranma continued. "You know something!? I'm sorry I ever said you were—!"

Just then the dojo wall burst inward, interrupting what Ranma had been about to say. Shampoo soon revealed herself while making a casual appearance, as if the entrance that she had just made had always been there.

"Hello!" She greeted them with her hand raised in a complementary gesture, the wall that she had come through still crumbling behind her.

She soon noticed the object of her desire and brightened with apparent happiness before glomping said desire. "Airen!"

And just as it had happened before, Akane hit Ranma in response to having intimate contact with Shampoo. This time it came in the form of a simple punch instead of an elbow drop, which was more than enough to knock him out of Shampoo's embrace.

Shampoo, once again being interrupted from having quality time with her husband-to-be, began to seethe with anger while she glared at Akane. Despite taking note of how Akane stared at her fist with a puzzled expression, she wasn't going to allow her to get in the way again.

She pointed her index finger at Akane and declared, "You still obstacle to Shampoo!"

Since trying to erase Akane's memory had failed to work out, and taking into account the other setbacks that she had experienced, her patience had been put under too much strain for her to be as nice as she had been previously.

"So, now you die!" She exclaimed, before advancing upon Akane's position in order to perform a death blow.

Akane recoiled as the girl from before approached her with ill intent, but — fortunately for her — Ranma had intercepted her and held her arms at bay, thus preventing the attack.

"Shampoo, stop!" Ranma commanded.

"You, I love!" Shampoo responded as she hugged her beloved once again, this time to stay his anger since he appeared to be upset with her.

Not about to be deterred by a stubborn Joketsuzoku's affection, Ranma yelled, "Now wait a minute," before he managed to extricate himself from her embrace.

"Listen to me!" He emphasized, to make sure that he had her undivided attention. "Don't kill Akane!"

"Is obstacle," came Shampoo's response, her argument being delivered with a serious expression on her face. "Obstacle is for killing."

As Ranma walked away, resigning himself to finally doing what he should have done in the beginning, Akane wondered why she would be an obstacle between them, what with hardly knowing either of one them (especially the boy).

"I guess there's no choice," Ranma stated decisively while gripping the handle of a pail that was full of cold water. "I'll have to tell you the truth."

Shampoo was confused by her beloved's words and actions when he held the pail over his head, but she became shocked as soon as he upended the pail and doused himself with the cold water that had been inside of it. She couldn't believe her eyes, but he had become...

"Female... Ranma?" She questioned hesitantly, the implications of what she had just witnessed becoming evident in her mind.

Akane, who was being ignored by everyone else (since they were watching what was transpiring between Ranma and Shampoo), wasn't surprised by the change that the male stranger had undergone. Instead, she was very confused because she knew that the girl was her fiancée yet — for the life of her — she couldn't remember her name! And she desperately wanted to remember, because of the feelings that were associated with her: feelings that she hadn't acknowledged until just then, that she had for no one else, and made her wonder about her sexuality.

After all, there had been a time when she had been flustered by hugging the redhead while atop the canopy that sheltered the bicycles at school, when Ryoga had been attacking said redhead. And hadn't she been upset about another girl kissing her fiancée before the "kiss of death" law had been explained to her?

However, she also knew that they often didn't get along very well, and that they insulted each other all of the time. Also, between the two of them, she was the only one that attacked the other physically. And now that she thought about it, how could she behave that way to the other girl? Unless...

"That's right," Ranma replied to Shampoo, as she undid the top buttons of her shirt. "I try to keep it secret..." Once enough buttons were undone, she opened up the top part of her shirt in order to showcase her cleavage. "But the male side is just a disguise: I'm really a girl."

While Ryoga was shocked enough to fall back and strike the wall with his head, Soun grabbed his friend (who happened to be a panda at the moment) by his fur and furiously demanded, "Is this true!?"

"I had no idea!" Came the reply from Genma, using a sign to convey the message while gulping in response to Soun's actions, vexed over the fact that he had not known that his son hadn't been such all along.

"I've been such an idiot," the realization came to Akane.

The reason she had been engaged to a girl was because said girl had been cursed to become a boy when she came into contact with hot water. As a result, she had been afraid of what other people would think about her, should they find out that she was — in reality — engaged to a girl: because she didn't think that she would be able to handle being ridiculed and ostracized by her peers. The worst part was that it would probably be very difficult to convince them otherwise, considering her long history of boyish behavior and her more recent resentment toward the opposite sex.

She knew that the redhead cared about her, or else she would have struck back when she hit her, like any other girl of her skill level and backbone might have done — but she never did. She had also shown a lot of concern after the incident that had caused her hair to be cut, and had even gone so far as to sustain a serious injury during the martial arts ice skating match in order to protect her.

A good part of the reason for their fighting — at first — had been due to the curse, and how she had discovered it. Since then she had treated her like a guy, which wasn't hard to do since their parents expected it (due to the engagement), the redhead went along with it and pretended to be one, and because she felt much better about people seeing them as a normal (if dysfunctional), heterosexual couple rather than as a homosexual one.

Having taken all of that into consideration, she now realized that she was being unfair. Her fiancée wasn't a guy, and didn't deserve to be treated like one. She may act like a guy often enough, and — like herself — feared what would happen if a certain fact behind the truth of their engagement got out, but what sense was there in mistreating her fiancée for those reasons when said fiancée still tried to care about her despite it all? It wasn't like her fiancée had asked for the curse or the engagement, after all.

Becoming nervous over how Shampoo would react, Ranma broadcast as much in her posture, by turning aside and holding her clasped hands to her chin. "So I'm afraid you and I just can't..." She paused briefly, noticing that Shampoo was making a sound too low for her to hear clearly while her head was bowed. "Huh?"

"Kill!" Shampoo suddenly screamed as she charged forward, fist upraised and ready to carry out the meaning of what she had so clearly spoken. She felt so hurt by being tricked, to know that the man that she had loved was really the girl that she hated.

The enraged expression on Shampoo's face, that Ranma was more than capable of dealing with when it came from a man, was just not the same from a girl carrying out her wrath. It really scared her, to say the very least, so she wasn't surprised by what she did next: she raised her defenses out of reflex and screamed like a girl.

Before Akane could truly become alarmed by Shampoo's sudden attack, she felt relief when the purple-haired girl stopped her fist from striking its intended target. Said target had shut her eyes prior to this, but had opened them once she realized that she wasn't being struck; and, beneath the arm that she had used for protection, she found Shampoo's anguished and tearful visage. There was something else in her expression, which accompanied her evident sadness, but she just couldn't fathom what it was.

Finally, however, Shampoo took the hand that Ranma had been holding to her chest, placed the nine-one-one shampoo bottle within it, then walked away with her head bowed, her parting words being, "Bie liao."

"Uh..." Ranma voiced softly while she lowered her raised arm to her side, feeling guilty yet not knowing what to do or say. All that she knew was that she couldn't love Shampoo, and it wasn't just due to a sense of responsibility. It was probably too late to do anything about it anyway, since Shampoo was — by then — out of sight.

"Shampoo..." She thought, in a subdued tone.

Akane felt sympathy for the girl named Shampoo, despite everything that had happened, but she had her own issues to take care of. So thinking, she approached her fiancée, blushing while she did so as she considered just what it was that she would soon be asking her; and, moreover, what she intended to do afterward.

"Excuse me," she addressed her fiancée, as she did her best to suppress her embarrassment. When she had her attention, she added, "I need to talk to you."

Not knowing what Akane wanted, yet curious because she wasn't asking her who she was or acting like she was a stranger, Ranma intelligently replied with, "Um... Sure...?"

"Alone, I mean," Akane elaborated.

With an absent nod of her head, Ranma left the others behind in the dojo in order to follow Akane into the house, only vaguely aware that she was still holding the bottle of shampoo that was required to solve Akane's memory problem. Idly, she began to wonder what her fiancée wanted to talk about, that would require privacy.


It didn't take long for Ranma to realize that Akane sought privacy within her bedroom. Once there, she closed the door behind her, per the request of her memory-challenged fiancée. When she turned away from it, she found said fiancée staring at her intently.

The attention made her feel a bit uncomfortable. "What?"

Realizing what she was doing, Akane looked away and blushed. "I didn't... I mean..."

With that kind of reaction, Ranma was feeling even more intrigued about Akane's request to have a private conversation. However, since no romantic intention had entered the realm of possibility within her own considerations, she was left to wonder and wait for why Akane had brought them there for one.

Once Akane recovered her bearings, it was with a look of embarrassment on her face that she returned her attention to Ranma. "Look, I... I know this will sound silly, but..." She paused, as she tried to suppress a spike of chagrin. "But... I can't seem to remember your name."

Ranma's first response was to feel irritated, as it sounded much like a repeat of every other time that they'd encountered each other as of late. Then it dawned on her that something was actually different, seeing as Akane had never had the attention span to actually put any time or effort into resolving the issue. She wasn't exactly sure what it was that was different, but it was enough to stop herself from dragging Akane over to see doctor Tofu, so she could see what would happen next.

Akane cast her eyes downward. "I... I know it's weird. I don't know how I could have forgotten, but..." She raised her eyes, with a look in them that conveyed quite clearly the message that she wasn't joking. "I'm serious. I'm worried because I know people have been concerned about my memory lately."

Ranma blinked her eyes a few times, as she tried to understand this development. It sounded too good to be true, but Akane's words might just suggest that at least some of her memory had been recovered. What else could explain her newfound awareness of the problem? But the issue with that was: if it were possible without the application of a certain shampoo and accompanying shiatsu technique, then what could have been responsible, if anything? She supposed that there was only one way to find out.

She posed her question with hope-filled eyes. "Does this mean you... remember me?"

Akane looked equal parts confused and concerned. "So I really did forget?" After receiving a nod from her fiancée, she looked away and turned her attention inward, before speaking aloud the same thought that her fiancée was having. "Then why can't I remember your name?"

Without a forthcoming answer from either one of them, Akane eventually turned her gaze back to Ranma and asked, "Why not try telling me your name? Maybe I'll be able to remember it now."

Ranma didn't see the harm in trying again, so... "It's Ranma."

"Ran... ma?" Akane enunciated slowly, before perking up. "Orchid?" Her face fell when Ranma sighed and shook her head in response. "No, huh..."

Ranma's mind returned to the original query, having a feeling that she was missing something. She reasoned that Akane's returned memory without the expected solution being required was due to something different that had occurred since Shampoo had used the Xi Fa Xiang Gao shiatsu technique on her, and it hadn't happened until after her final confrontation with the girl from China. But what had...

"Of course!" She suddenly realized. "That has to be it!"

From the time that Akane's memory had been tampered with she hadn't been a girl in her presence until she had lied to Shampoo about her being one. The reason for why she had been able to use that lie in the first place was because Shampoo hadn't known that the girl that she wanted to kill and the boy that she wanted to marry were the same person, even though she knew them both by the same name. Thus, when she had used the Xi Fa Xiang Gao shiatsu technique on Akane, she had distinguished the two by gender but not by name, which was why her fiancée had been able to remember her when she had seen her as a girl yet couldn't recall the name that both of her forms shared.

Seeing the look on Ranma's face, Akane hopefully asked, "Did you figure out what the problem is?"

"You bet!" Ranma replied in a self-satisfied manner. "It's nothing that a visit with doctor Tofu won't fix, so..." She turned aside and placed her free hand on the doorknob. "You ready to go?"

Akane bit her bottom lip before saying, "Before that, um..." She hesitated as her embarrassment spiked, but it was easy enough to overcome since what she intended to say was to one person instead of an audience — just as she had arranged it. "I want to apologize."

"You do?" Ranma replied, who blinked her eyes a few times to express her incomprehension. "For what?"

Having already taken the first step, Akane squared her shoulders and forged ahead. "For my behavior. I know we didn't want this engagement, or you your curse, but that's no excuse for how I've treated you. I'm sorry."

Normally, Ranma might have said something along the lines of, "it's about time you realized that," in response. However, the seriousness of the situation and the entreating look in Akane's eyes had made her much too uncomfortable to speak before she could think, and what she thought was soon expressed as she looked away and scratched the side of her face. "Well... I probably didn't help things, so..." She glanced over at Akane before turning her eyes away again, her cheeks tinged pink. "I'm sorry, too, I guess."

When her words brought a smile to Akane's face, she knew that she had said the right thing. However, due to being charmed by said smile, she was unprepared for when her fiancée crossed the short distance between them and gave her a chaste kiss on the lips. With her eyes widened in shock and her brain working overtime trying to figure out how the kiss could have happened, she froze in place, not knowing what to do or say.

After Akane pulled away from the impulsive kiss, she blushed bashfully and said, "Also, if it's you, I don't think I'll mind being a little bit of a pervert, too."

Ranma wasn't in any condition to argue over how she wasn't a pervert, in no small part due to what Akane had intimated with her last statement, which added a whole new — and mind-blowing — meaning to the kiss. She was having a hard enough time trying to deal with being kissed by her fiancée in the first place, so she tried to put it out of her mind so she could look into it later with the kind of attention that it deserved.

The situation became more awkward the longer that neither of them said or did anything, so Akane eventually reached for the door as she said, "Anyway, let's get going so I'll be able to remember your name again."

What she found on the other side of the door was both exasperating and mortifying at the same time. "Can't we ever have any privacy!? Honestly!"

Everyone whom she and Ranma had left behind in the dojo (for an attempt at some privacy) had been eavesdropping on them, and some were still leaning toward the now-open doorway. Considering the shocked expressions on many of their faces, they hadn't had the presence of mind to escape being caught because of the next-to-last thing that she had said prior to opening the door. The only exceptions were Kasumi and Nabiki, with the former looking nonplussed and the latter like the cat that ate the canary.

For Ranma this development came as the second blow in a one-two punch, so she could do little more than stand behind Akane and blush up a storm while stammering and sputtering in a useless attempt to explain herself and the situation. In the end, both she and Akane opted to escape from the house before the others could do something to exacerbate things further, with the latter pulling along the former.

They had an appointment with a certain doctor, anyway.


After the two girls had left doctor Tofu's clinic, they began their lamp-lit trek back home in silence. Akane's first impulse — upon the true recovery of her memory — had been to blow up and accuse Ranma of taking advantage of her, but she had opted to pull her thoughts together and become introspective instead, seeing as it would be a better idea to think about things and make a decision in relative peace rather than during whatever awaited her at home.

After all, how could her fiancé have known that she hadn't been right in the head? In addition to that, the brief experience that she'd had with a different perspective had given her a lot to think about, and — as much as she didn't want to admit it — not all of those thoughts were casting her past behavior toward Ranma in a positive light.

One inescapable subject concerned the rationalization process. Since she had only been able to remember Ranma as a girl, her mind had to use that as a filter to explain their past dealings and relationship. At first she had thought that there had been something wrong with what she had rationalized, but it wasn't long before she realized that she didn't know anything that would have contradicted the idea of a girl being cursed to become a boy with the application of hot water: no one had ever said that there weren't any hot springs at Jusenkyo, or that cursed water couldn't be heated/hot.

That had led her to consider how differently she had treated Ranma when she had thought her a girl from birth. Not only had she been a lot more open to being sympathetic toward her (regarding the curse and engagement in particular), but she had been more willing to express her feelings; feelings that she had been unwilling to admit to herself, much less share with a boy. They had been the very feelings that she had inherited from a past where she had known the girl as a boy, which had been made all the more easier to express by knowing that the girl who was cursed to become a boy was not only interested in girls but had feelings for her as well.

Being able to perceive the other girl's feeling had been the key to it all. If not for that her sympathy and empathy wouldn't have driven her to want a better relationship with the other girl, which in turn made it possible to admit her own feelings. Considering their unique situation, the logical route to take in their relationship had been made clear: the kind where its most advanced stages were anything but platonic. She had still had her reservations, of course, so she had only taken a small step in that direction. It had also been a means of making up with the other girl, since what she had said and done while in an altered state of mind hadn't made any promises that she — at the time — couldn't keep.

The real question was: could she meet the expectations that she had set up back then now? As she saw the front gate of her home become visible in the distance, she wondered if she should tell Ranma what had happened. But would going back to the way that things had been before be better than what they had become and could yet be?

Looking askance, she caught Ranma's gaze before the redhead could look away and pretend that her attention had been elsewhere, which she continued to do despite being caught. And as she considered the other girl further, she began to realize something as a result of her recent perception-skewed experience and her latest thoughts: if not herself, then who else?

When the engagement had been announced, neither Nabiki or Kasumi had thrown out the possibility of accepting the arrangement outright. That had changed after the curse had been revealed to them, probably for much the same reason that had given her even more justification for being against the engagement herself. Shampoo hadn't stuck around after she had found out about the curse either, though her situation had — admittedly — been a bit more complicated than their own.

The fact of the matter was this: Ranma's curse was going to play a significant role in whether someone would be willing to have a relationship with her or not, and not only had she realized this but she could also sympathize with the boy who was cursed to become a girl with the application of cold water. After all, not only would people turn her away and judge her because of something that she couldn't help, but — if she knew her fiancé well enough by now — she was probably really insecure about it, which came with its own set of problems.

It made her feel guilty for how she had treated her fiancé in the past, partly because she was one of the few people who knew about her curse and — now that she could admit it — had some feelings for her despite that. While she wasn't ready for an intimate relationship of any kind, that wasn't a good enough reason to not be on friendlier terms, was it? And maybe, just maybe, she could do something to make up for it, in order to redeem herself in her own eyes (at the very least).

When they were about to pass through the front gate, she paused and spoke for the first time since they had said their farewells to doctor Tofu. "Ranma?"

Ranma stopped a step ahead of her and turned around. "Yeah?"

Akane took a steadying breath before she continued. "I meant what I had said earlier in my bedroom."

Ranma averted her gaze and blushed. "Ah, about that..."

"Don't," Akane interrupted softly, "or you might regret it."

When it appeared that her fiancé had accepted her advice, it was with some relief that she calmly said, "Look, I know that things haven't exactly gone smoothly between us," she studiously ignored the half-lidded stare that she had earned in response to that statement, "and I'm not exactly ready to get married to anyone right now," she received a nod of agreement, "but that and your curse shouldn't stop us from being friends, at the very least, right?"

Despite her better judgement, due to the uncertain and uncomfortable nature of the situation that she found herself in, in addition to the subject matter touching upon a sore spot, Ranma crossed her arms and lashed out with a reply that was both acerbic and sarcastic in nature. "Not like it stopped us before."

"And I was wrong," Akane belatedly admitted, who had to take a second to restrain herself from replying in kind. "What just happened with Shampoo has shown me that."

Ranma wondered how that could be possible. As much as she could hope for it, she figured that it was unlikely for Akane to have feelings for her, and that she was only now realizing that there was such a thing as taking too long to express said feelings before it was too late to do so. However, whether that was the case or not, friendship was better than nothing, right?

It would certainly be an improvement over what they currently had, so she got her negative feelings and what little anxiety she felt under control, in order to answer her fiancée in a more respectful and receptive manner. "Are you serious?"

After receiving a nod of the head in reply, she began to consider what to expect if they got along better. "I dunno..." She looked away and rubbed the back of her neck. "It's kinda — y'know — embarrassing when people see you as a couple."

"And our fathers will probably make things worse than that," Akane added in agreement, before she extended her hand out to the other girl. "But that's why I was already thinking of doing it this way... And doing it right this time."

Ranma looked down at the proffered hand before making eye contact with its owner, a critical yet mildly bemused look on her face. "You don't mean...?"

Akane smiled and nodded her head. "I do. And I mean it."

Returning her attention to the hand before her, Ranma stared at it intently as she considered her fiancée's offer. By now she was fine with acting like a girl whenever it was convenient, and the gender-appropriate clothes themselves didn't really bother her, but the problem was that those things could easily become an issue as soon as someone else (like her father) made it one. However, there was one thing — above all else — that she wished to avoid, which her fiancée tended to attack her with.

"This won't make me a pervert, right?" She posed, as she regarded the other girl with a mixture of suspicion and doubt.

Akane rolled her eyes. "Being a girl doesn't make someone a pervert."

Appeased by that answer, Ranma smiled and took her hand. "Friends, then."

They began to walk toward the house, hand in hand, feeling positive about the future. As they entered the house, Akane couldn't help saying, "Now, being a girl with a boy's mind, on the other hand..."

"Oh, come on!"


Orchid: She's thinking 蘭名 (Ranna) instead of 乱馬 (Ranma). My understanding of the use of 名 (na) is uncertain, so I may not be using it right. You get the idea, though: she was unable to comprehend 'Ranma.'