Herein lies the Disclaimer. I don't own any of the characters portrayed in this story, I just borrowed them for a little while. Their respective owners can have them back when I'm done. No money is going to be made off of this anyway. Also, this story is based on one written by Deepquote, who's works can be found here http://www.fanfiction.net/profile.php?userid=28473. The original version is just Slight Detour. Everything other than the idea of the Kasumi edition is written by me. ~This is a panda sign~ Onna-Ranma is Ranma in female form.
Ranma Saotome hugged his wife closer to him, wondering if he would ever wake up from this dream, and hoping he wouldn’t. He had been married to Kasumi for a little over two years now, and were just starting to think about going back to the dojo. But neither really wanted to. They had been enjoying the peace and quiet so much that neither one of them could think about going back to the chaos that was Nerima. Be that as it may, they still were running out of the money they had allocated for the trip, although much slower than they had first thought. Living off the land saved one an awful lot of money. Nabiki never thought of it because she always went out to eat and stayed in hotels. That was one of the reasons that he loved Kasumi so much, she was cheerful and supportive no matter what the circumstances were.
Even out in the middle of the wilderness with nothing but a tent and a large sleeping bag, she still managed to make some incredibly good food. And Ranma could catch a whole lot of something for her to cook in a very short period of time. In fact, the only thing that Kasumi seemed to miss was everybody else. Although even she couldn’t help but feel grateful that they had managed to get away from everybody for a while, but she felt that it was time to turn back. Things had been going for some time. It was time to deal with reality again. However much the two of them hated to do it.
Ranma sighed and hugged her closer. She giggled and molded herself to him. "Starting to think about going back too, are we?" Kasumi asked.
Ranma blinked and looked down at her, a smile blossoming across his face. When she dropped her airhead image, it always managed to impress him how easily she could read his thoughts by his face. The couple strolled down the beach, enjoying the sea, the sand, and each other. They spotted a cave and decided to go check it. Not seeing any signs about it proclaiming it a danger the young couple approached the entrance.
The two looked at each other for a moment before Ranma swept Kasumi off her feet and dashed into the cave, his hands somehow managing to support her and caress her at the same time. Kasumi squealed and giggled as she wrapped her arms round his neck and held on. She always liked it when he did that. Being swept off her feet was just something that she could never get enough of. Especially by Ranma’s powerful arms.
After a few minutes the two of them were deep in the cave. It was starting to get a little dark in there, so Ranma pulled up and looked for a nice cubby or something to cuddle. Finding one, he sat down, cradling Kasumi in his lap. She adjusted herself slightly before leaning forward and getting a kiss. They were still enjoying their kiss when something... evil washed over the two of them.
They broke apart, Kasumi huddling into her husbands embrace. “What was that?” She whispered, afraid of startling or provoking whatever it had been.
Ranma shook his head, unsure of what to do, but fairly certain that it would be a Bad Idea to remain where they were. Rising swiftly he started heading for the exit. Not having gone five steps there was a sudden surge of darkness, enveloping the entire cave and causing them to tumble to the floor together, Ranma twisting around to take the impact.
Ranma looked around the cave, wondering what could possibly be causing this. He spotted it almost immediately. Happosai was clinging to one of the walls of the gave and blowing into an incense burner, sending the fumes all over the cave. Ranma scowled and concentrated his aura, having learned much in his time with Kasumi. He pointed his frozen fist at the old lecher and, with a sharp twist of his wrist and a murmured "Hiryu Shoten Ha," sent a miniature tornado hurtling toward him. It also happened to suck up all the incense that had been affecting him and his wife. Happi looked completely surprised by this and was caught flat footed.
An "Oh sh...." was all that was heard from him before he was picked up in the whirlwind and he started fighting it, making it grow larger than Ranma had anticipated, filling the cave with its howling noise. After a half a minute the twister got to the point where Ranma was having trouble keeping himself and his bride grounded. That was also about the same time he noticed the wall Happosai had been attached to was growing cracks in it, and sunlight was filtering through those cracks. Realizing he might be pulled through that hole if he didn't get out of there now, Ranma jumped to his feet and ran as fast as he could against the winds towards the exit, Kasumi holding onto him as if her life depended on it. Which it probably did, in this case. Being sucked through a jagged hole of rocks would be painful, and also would lead to the condition commonly known as death.
Ranma just managed to clear the mouth of the cave and dive to freedom from the winds before they picked up tremendously and Happosai was sent hurtling up into the air, small rocks and stones surrounding and pelting him. Ranma and Kasumi smiled at that. The couple stood watching the spectacle, wondering when the ancient pervert would stop trying to get out of the windstorm by force and let himself fall. He obviously wasn't helping his situation any by using his battle aura and mid air techniques to try and get out of the twister. It finally started abating when Ranma noticed another disturbance on the beach.
Not far from them a pretty young women was being accosted by a young man obviously being a hentai. Ranma could see another pretty woman quickly closing in on the man, except she was flying through the air wearing a tiger striped bikini. At that moment the young man finally noticed Kasumi, looking radiant in her bathing suit with her long brown hair and happy aura. He made a beeline toward her, intent on grabbing what he could and hitting on the rest when he stopped, curtesy of Ranma's fist to his face. Ranma retracted his arm and wrapped the other protectively around his woman, holding her close.
"What are you trying to do here?" Ranma asked, even though the answer was obvious.
Having felt how strong Ranma was, and how protective he was of the girl he had been going after, Ataru decided he would be better of trying to feel up somebody else. That wouldn't stop him from staring, though. "Ahh, nothing to concern yourself with. My names Ataru, by the way. You are..." He was trying to get away from them by making casual conversation, but this had the adverse affect of letting Lum, the girl in the bikini, close in unnoticed behind him.
"Name's Ranma Saotome." Ranma Saotome responded. He pulled his wife forward so she was standing slightly in front of him, his arm still around her slim waist. "This is my wife, Kasumi." Said woman inclined her head, not bother to bow at him, for his perverted intentions hadn't been lost on her.
Her ingrained niceness wouldn't let it end at that, however. "Pleased to meet you." By now the bikini clad girl was starting to spark a little with contained electrical energy, since she had been hearing the things the girls she had passed on the way had been saying, and she knew her Darling had been misbehaving again. Kasumi noticed her, and since it looked like she was trying to get the attention of the young man they were talking to, decided to point her out to him.
Kasumi pointed over Ataru's shoulder and said, "I think that young woman over there is trying to get your attention, Ataru-san."
Several things all seemed to happen at once. With a steadily increasing cry Happosai landed head first on Ranma's noggin, something small and round falling from the old man's clothing, which Ranma caught instinctively. Kasumi, having delivered her message to the young man in front of them, turned and backhanded Happosai off her husband's head. The Grandmaster of Anything Goes landed in a spray of sand, looking severely beaten up and mutilated from his ride in the Hiryu Shoten Ha. The bikini clad girl had finished her charge and fired a rather large lightning bolt at her Beloved. He turned just in time to see her unleash it and ducked as fast as he could. Ranma and Kasumi looked down at what Happi had dropped to recognize the Nanbam Mirror just in time to see a huge bolt of lighting streak out of nowhere and hit the time traveling device.
Ranma and Kasumi muttered an "Oh, my...." In unison before disappearing in a flash of light that left Lum and Ataru stunned in surprise.
Kasumi opened her eyes in her bed. That wasn't right. She hadn't slept in her bed since she had gotten married. They had bought a new, much larger, one and put it in on their wedding night. That had been a memorable night thanks to that bed. Kasumi couldn't say enough good things about the manufacturer's quality design and sturdiness. The other problem was Ranma didn't have his arms wrapped around her. The first time they had actually gone to sleep she had awakened to feel him cradling her closer. She had thought that it would take some time for her to get used to that sensation, but it happened almost immediately. Now she missed it so much she wasn't sure if she would be able to sleep at all. It was very fortunate that he slept like a log or she might have felt guilty for moving him around and off of her so much in the morning to go prepare breakfast. But, as it was, he only noticed the first few times when she extracted herself, then he somehow subconsciously programmed himself to ignore the fact that his wife was leaving early in the morning and stayed asleep from then on.
It worried her a little until one night she awoke at 2:30 to the fact that she had to use the little girls room something fierce. As soon as she moved to take his hand from her stomach his eyes snapped open and he tightened his grip around her shoulders. Even though Kasumi really had to go she smiled beatifically at him, pleased with his reaction to no end. She told him of her need and he apologized, untangling himself from her. She returned to him slumbering. She couldn't help herself, she just stood there for several minutes watching him sleep. He was so carefree and peaceful when at rest it amazed her. His intensity left him, leaving him looking like what would happen had he become a monk or something equally peaceful instead of the warrior that had been chosen for him.
Eventually the morning caught up with her and Kasumi had to return to bed, unable to keep her eyes open any longer despite how much she just wanted to sit there and gaze at him all night. She slid back under the covers and almost instantly Ranma started to slowly slide toward her, his arms snaking out to encircle her once again in his protective embrace.
Kasumi had prepared for this though. She had developed a technique that would allow her to go to sleep again in minutes instead of either waiting for him to finish creeping and she was comfortably enfolded again or trying to sleep through the wonderful sensations that happened when his hands slid ever so gently across her body. This technique required speed and precision, but she knew that she was up to it. She just had to practice it a few times to make sure that it would work the way she hoped.
Gathering her energy briefly Kasumi reached out for her husbands arms while at the same time sliding their bodies closer together. A second of blurred arm movements later and Kasumi was once again deeply entangled with Ranma. He sighed in contentment and tightened his grip. Kasumi sighed in contentment and tightened her grip. Sleep found her quickly after that.
But that was then. This was now and he wasn't here. The last thing she remembered happening was the two of them looking down at the Nanbam Mirror that her husband had mysteriously gotten ahold of when it was struck by lightning. The only trouble with that was they were very far away from home during that trip, so if they had been injured they still should have been over there. They had also not been home for the past two years, and her room hadn't been arranged like this for some time. So, if the Mirror had somehow activated without the use of a tear, what had happened to her husband Ranma?
She got up and bathed, noting things seemed to be in places that they hadn't been for a long time. She entered the guest room. It was pretty much bare, like it had been before Ranma had arrived. Heading down the stairs she checked the calendar that was on the counter in her kitchen and gasped. She was four years in the past! In fact, this was the day that the Saotome's were supposed to arrive. She tried to blink back her tears as she realized what had happened. Something that she had cherished more than life itself had been taken from her. It had taken her four years in order for her to find that happiness, and she wasn't about to give it up without a fight. If she had to do it all over again, then so be it. But she was going to get Ranma first, instead of trying to pass him onto her sister Akane. That poor girl. She really did wonder sometimes of Ranma's teasing had been much more truthful than anyone wanted to mention. She hadn't really progressed any since Ranma had met her, despite he himself moving on, growing to maturity, and finding somebody to love.
It had surprised everybody except Kasumi when he had said that he didn't want to be engaged to Akane anymore. That he had picked a different Tendo that he wanted to marry. Akane was stunned. She thought that she had something special that nobody else did. In fact she did, but it wasn't something that Ranma wanted to live with for the rest of his life. He needed trust, love, and motherly instincts to replace those that had malfunctioned due to his own mothers absence. What he had with Akane was very volatile, and could have worked out in the end, but Ranma realized that he was infatuated with Akane, for her spirit and her desire with martial arts. What had really made him stick to her side all those times was those few acts of kindness that she showed.
While Kasumi did the same thing it never seemed to have that sincerity to it because Kasumi was nice to everybody. But given time Ranma realized that she was a little different when she was around him. Sure, she was pleasant to everybody. But she was only actually really nice when she was around Ranma. Her eyes lit up and she actually laughed and giggled, something that she had never really done since her mother had died. Ranma was the first to notice this amazingly enough, and it even took him close to a year. Nobody else really thought Kasumi would ever try for him or that she was just waiting for Dr Tofu. While she had liked the good doctor when she was younger, he was silly, she really didn't think he would every fully get over his craziness in order to capture her attention long enough to marry him. Especially considering how much older he was compared to her.
That was something that Ranma excelled at. Capturing women's attention and holding it. Some of the more foolish, such as Akane, Shampoo, Ukyo and Kasumi herself had let this lead them to fall in love with him. Kasumi considered herself incredibly lucky that she had managed to get him. Everyday that went by she was more and more happy that she had fought for him. It had taken two years of knowing him, one and a half of those with Akane before he finally noticed her, then another half a year of them quietly courting each other before they married and left on their two year honeymoon. After everything that she had been through, both for and with Ranma, what would happen when he arrived later that day? She wasn't sure how she would react to seeing him again after having their past removed.
She sighed and started to cook breakfast. There were some things that never changed. She would just have to wait and see what happened. And pray that he would have joined her on this crazy adventure. She found it hard to believe that it was just her that was going to have to relive the past few years.
Ranma snapped her eyes open. Why was the scenery walking away from her? Because she was being carried over the shoulder of somebody. She looked down and noticed the broad back of fur and realized that she was being carried by her father. She looked around and noticed that they were in Nerima, going toward the Tendo dojo. Ranma blinked at this.
If she didn't know better she would say this looks like a reenactment of when she first showed up. As a girl also she remembered. Something definitely wasn't right here. "Hey, where we going Oyaji?" Ranma called out to the panda.
A sign was shoved over the panda's other shoulder. ~To the Tendo dojo.~ The sign flipped over. ~I told you that already. Pay attention boy!~
Ranma blinked in surprise. How could this have happened? The last thing she remembered doing was being male and talking with some pervert who he had just saved Kasumi from. Wait a minute, what had happened to Kasumi?!? Where had her wife gone? Was she back in time as Ranma apparently was? Ranma remembered having the Nanbam Mirror in his hand after Kasumi had batted away the freak, and she guessed it was lightning that struck the thing, though she couldn't remember that all too clearly. She had been holding onto the thing at the time, after all.
She desperately hoped Kasumi had been sucked into whatever had happened. She really needed to hold the taller girl in her arms right about now. "Preferably as a guy," She thought.
There were some things that her father really got wrong. One of them was what the love of a woman did to her. While it may have made Genma weak, Ranma had improved greatly in the art since getting married. Things that she would have thought impossible not to long ago she could do with ease. Like throwing those Moko Takabishi's. That was an emotion based attack. She couldn't do it all the time, so she was fortunate that she had a depression based attack. But that also meant she would have to swing from one end of the spectrum to the other in order to attack somebody from a distance. That was not something that she liked doing. It really displeased her to have a weakness in her form. So right after marrying they had gone on a honeymoon and between romantic evenings and much time spent in bed (Kasumi had a lot of frustration to work out given what the situation was at home) she had also done a lot of meditating (until Kasumi glomped him. Nothing he had thought of could keep him calm when she rubbed against him. It was one weakness that he was perfectly happy to acknowledge.) and had finally managed to get her ki under enough control that she didn't have to use emotions in order to throw attacks. She was starting to become like Herb in that sense. The prince had been able to do just about any ki based attack, and even recognized the Hiryu Shoten Ha before Ranma could complete it.
Now Ranma had all those abilities. But sometimes she wondered if it was worth it. She hadn't had a challenge to her skills in the longest time. Not that that was something that she always looked forward to, but it felt good to be pressed hard and win. There had been challenges, but nothing really worthy of what she was capable of. She could only hope that things would stay that boring this time around. She didn't need to have some of the same things happen to her again. And she really didn't want random people to show up and challenge her if she was suddenly the master of the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts.
Currently she was the master. Or at least in the future. She had defeated Happosai, Soun and Genma for the title. She had even gotten her old man to teach her the complete forbidden techniques, which she had managed to modify somewhat so that she could do nonlethal versions of just about all the attacks, depending what level of skill her opponent was. She still didn't like telling people about them though. She would have to tell them who had invented them and for what reason. Some people just didn't like learning the skills to rob a house blind. Ranma most used the Umisen-ken ken. That way she could cloak herself into invisibility and walk around without being either accosted for her signature, picture, a bucket of water or a challenge. But that was now all in the future.
The only thing Ranma had to worry about at the moment was what she was going to do at the Tendo dojo when she saw her Kasumi again. She wasn't sure if she would be able to restrain herself . The memory of seeing her wife slip into unconsciousness had disturbed her deeply. Something that was not likely going to forget anytime soon. The only other thing that could be done about it was if Kasumi came back with her. That would make everything ideal. Ranma would have all her memories and so would she, they wouldn't have to reform their relationship. Heck, she wasn't even sure if she could do it. It had been a somewhat strange set of events that had led to them getting together, and even that had only been possible after everything else had happened to him that first year after he had showed up.
But that was again, all in the future. Right now all she wanted to do was get rid of the panda she was riding on and get to the dojo the fastest way she knew how, which was flying in this case. Of course, that would leave a very disturbed panda behind, but she didn't really care about that. There was only one question. Should she show up female or male? She had managed to get control of her curse over the years while studying with Cologne and had finally stumbled across an incredibly ancient scroll buried deep within the bowels of the village. She wasn't even sure if Cologne had known about the place before she had stumbled upon it. But she would never forget the day she started to read some of the scrolls and realized that they were for controlling and changing the magic that surrounded Jusenkyo.
That place was what all the old mage's drew their magic from, it being a rather large source of raw magic that it seeping into the springs was just a side effect. Since most of the magicians that went there usually ended up falling into a spring at some point, either through an accident or intentionally from rivals or to be able to take a certain form they developed ways of controlling the curse. Ranma could've, in fact, gotten rid of her curse entirely, but when it got right down to it, Ranma thought that it was a good life lesson that he should probably endure for a while longer. And it wasn't like she couldn't just do the spell later. So she had settled for being able to mentally control when the change would occur.
Genma had also found out about it, but hadn't really cared enough to actually put the effort into learning magic, since that was the only spell that Ranma was going to teach him. It not having anything to do with martial arts he really didn't care enough to go through with it. Especially since Nodoka still hadn't really forgiven him for some of the things that he had done to her son/daughter. Be that as it may, there were many things that she could do that would confuse and frighten just about any of the people she knew now. The only regret she had was that she had appeared too far in the future to prevent Ryoga from getting cursed.
While she could cure the curse she knew that Ryoga would still chase after him no matter what she did, simply because Ryoga was like that. He needed something to blame all his problems on. If Ranma hadn't been the one that was there a lot of those problems probably would have been dumped on somebody else instead of her. But that wasn't to be. She would just have to come up with some way of dealing with him in the few days she had before he showed up. She could only hope she could restrain herself. Some of the things that pig had done could get her blood boiling faster than anything.
Which would be very bad. She would probably end up killing the poor fool if things didn't work out right. Not really intentionally, but she was so much stronger than Ryoga was at this point that it was really pointless for him to even think about attacking her with anything less than the Saotome Secret Techniques or something equally powerful. Surprisingly, there weren't all that many things that could outdo the Sealed Techniques if one trained in them enough. Ranma herself had only scratched the surface of what they could do when she had fought Kumon. Be that as it may, Ranma could tell that she was still a good ten or more minutes away from the dojo and her hopefully still lifemate Kasumi. She didn't want to think about how much she would cry if Kasumi didn't recognize her. It was going to be a painful experience the more she thought about it.
Just past lunch Kasumi was in the kitchen cleaning up when she heard the call from her father. "Kasumi! Nabiki! Akane! I have an announcement!" He then wandered off to get the rest of his daughters together, Kasumi the only one that had apparently heard his summons.
Kasumi took a deep breath, wondering if she should even try and act surprised or if she should just try and be calm, like this was all old news to her. That would really get her sisters going. She giggled at the thought. Causing a little mayhem had been surprisingly amusing the few times she had tried it. Of course, she had made sure that the only people that were going to be effected were Genma or her father. She liked her sisters too much to cause them any trouble. Although she did have to admit that she had done it to Ranma a few times. But that had been private. She blushed slightly as the memories replayed in her mind. Yes, those had been very private.
Kasumi dried her hands on her apron and went out to sit at the table with her sisters, wondering and hoping that Ranma would be there for her. Soun sat and regarded his daughters, trying to hold in the tears until he could tell them the entire story. He so wanted this to get off to a good start he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to pull it off. Some things, like this promise, and his wife, and his daughters, and the dojo, and the master, and... well, you get the idea, really made him tear up.
"A good friend of mine is coming by. He has a son named Ranma Saotome. If he were to marry one of you girls and carry on the dojo then the legacy would be secured." Soun nodded to himself, as if trying to convince everybody that engaging his daughters to a man none of them had ever met was the perfect plan, and should be embraced by all whole heartedly.
Kasumi sneaked a glance over at her sisters and saw the same expressions that were there the first time. From Akane fear, distrust and a lot of anger. From Nabiki eagerness, hope and little yen signs dancing around her head. One got too close to Kasumi, who batted it away with her hand.
Kasumi smiled to herself and decided to be the first one to voice an opinion. "Oh my, I hope he's cute."
Everybody looked at her and blinked once, their eyes somehow making a squeegee sound, before the three daughters returned their attention to their father. "Well Daddy, you heard Oneechan. Is he cute?" Nabiki asked, a smile playing across her lips as she regarded her older sister out of the corner of her eye.
Soun laughed somewhat nervously while he stood and looked out over the backyard. "He's been on a training trip since he was very little, and just recently returned from China."
"Ooh, China." Nabiki cooed, a part of her mind wondering why her father had avoided the question. Kasumi could tell that she was hoping he would have some money that they could marry into. Kasumi smiled to herself. If you only knew little sister. He had more money than he knew what to do with, it was just all on his mothers side. Something that Nodoka hadn't been allowed to touch since she had married Genma. But that hadn't stopped her from trying. Or from getting her parents to write Ranma into the will, saying that he would get all the money at either the time he married or he took over the family style of martial arts and assumed head of the Saotome clan. Given that Nodoka had actually not put up very much of a fight signaled to everyone that she had some idea of the sort of man that she had married, and had no intention of letting him ruin the family fortune through something stupid that he would probably do. But Kasumi wasn't going to tell Nabiki that. She wasn't sure what she would do if Nabiki knew that Ranma belonged to one of the top 50 richest families in Japan.
Of course, the two of them hadn't really done anything with the money except spend it on fixing up the dojo, house, and going on a VERY long honeymoon. Which was, in fact, part training trip, part honeymoon, part vacation for both of them, and part living away from home for a while before Kasumi got pregnant and had to take up the household duties for the next 20 plus years nonstop. Ranma had managed to convince her that it would do her good to have some of her childhood back. Kasumi had to admit to herself that, except for that last stop that they had made, it had indeed been something that she would have never wanted to end. But they had been gone for two years by that point, and had deemed it long enough for them to return home and start building up the family business before they turned their attention to making an heir, the whole point of the arranged marriage and all.
Kasumi had a small pang of regret over that. As much as she had enjoyed the trip and everything that had happened during it, she still couldn't shake the thought that they should have started a family instead of running around the world. Kasumi still couldn't believe how many different places Ranma had encountered Ryoga. She hadn't really believe him when he had recounted some of the places that the lost boy could get lost in. But to actually see it happen was another story altogether.
Soun didn't get a chance to answer any more of his daughters question as a rather irate voice came from the entryway. "Oyaji, put me down or I'll make you do so."
Kasumi blinked in surprise even as she tried to squash a sudden surge of hope within her. That wasn't how this first meeting went, but she really didn't want to get her hopes up for any reason. For all she knew she might be in different a dimension, one in which Ranma had been raised differently, or perhaps one where he had already met one of them before. Kasumi herself had seen these a few times on her two year adventure with Ranma. They had stumbled on an amazing array of ways to cross dimensions, one which meant just following Ryoga around for a little while and then finding one's way back to civilization. It had really surprised her to realize that they were indeed still in Nerima, but a different one. She didn't want to think about that universe though. It hadn't been a pleasant one, even though neither one of them had any trouble with threats to their lives like in some of the worlds, it was just everybody looked at them strange and nobody would talk to them.
Snapping out of her memories Kasumi stood. "We have guests," She stated, making sure all of her family was aware of the situation. With people like Akane and Soun around, one couldn't always be sure that they grasped the obvious. As she had so dishearteningly observed on several occasions. Not that she would ever admit those thoughts to anyone but Ranma.
She strode towards the front when she heard a rather loud furry thud. Instead of a panda carrying a red haired girl over its shoulder, a panda came flying down the hallway to impact with the wall, unconscious. The red head strode in right after it, glaring at the furry mass.
"I told you to put me down Oyaji, but would you listen, oooh no, have to do this for my own good. And to make sure that I can't get away before I can meet my fiance." Onna-Ranma turned and saw the family standing there in shock. Kasumi's eyes locked with the redhead's and she twitched her head in the direction of the families. Kasumi shrugged her shoulders fractionally to signal it was up to Onna-Ranma how they wanted to approach this.
She smiled, something Kasumi had come to look forward to no matter what gender Ranma was. This smile was definitely her mischievous one. Kasumi braced herself for whatever her future husband might try. After having been subjected to chaos for so long the redhead had gotten remarkably good at causing it when she so desired. Like, apparently, right now.
Onna-Ranma reached out with her left hand and grabbed the panda, lifting it into the air and holding it behind her at arms length as she approached them. Kasumi held up the tea kettle, wondering when Ranma was going to show the family their curses.
The rest of the Tendo family gasped as they watched a petite red headed girl lift several hundred pounds of panda into the air with one hand. Akane seemed to look on enviously. Ranma stood before the frozen family, righted the panda and set it down against the wall where it slumped into a somewhat sitting position.
Onna-Ranma held out her hand and Kasumi gave her the kettle. Turning, the smaller girl doused the panda with boiling water. This caused it to turn into a slightly overweight bald man with a white hanky on his head. It also caused him to awaken with a start, screeching, "Yeeeouch, that's hot!"
The man landed from his leap of surprise and glared at Onna-Ranma. "What do you think you're doing, boy?" The Tendo family just stood there and stared at the spectacle. Genma became aware of this as his son turned daughter was just smiling at him as if nothing was wrong. He suddenly felt the various stares he was getting from many different sources behind him and turned to find out who they were.
His eyes widened in surprise as he saw the entire Tendo family staring at him. His vision latched onto Soun and he broke into a wide grin just as the man seemed to be coming out of his stupor. "Tendo!" He shouted as he rushed the taller man. Tendo blinked in surprise before he was being pounded on the back by his friend.
Soun, amazingly enough, was the first to recover, though he sported a thoroughly bewildered look on his face. "Saotome! When did you get here? What happened to that panda? What's going on?"
Onna-Ranma smiled at them as she stepped toward Kasumi. Kasumi smiled mischievously, something nobody had seen before on her face, giving her sisters pause. "Ranma-kun, that wasn't very nice thing to do to your Father." She chastised her.
Onna-Ranma blinked, then her smile reasserted itself. "True, but usually somebody has to do something good in order to be treated nicely." Finally she stood before Kasumi and enfolded the taller girl in a hug. The two other sisters weren't sure what to make of this. They had noticed that Ranma was female from the start this time, thanks to the rather abrupt movements she had been making, causing certain parts of her anatomy to bounce and show her current female gender much clearer than the first time the families had met.
Kasumi just shook her head at him, returning the hug eagerly. She was certain now that Ranma had made the trip with her, and hopefully the two of them together could now make things easier on themselves, or, if that wasn't possible, at least make things more interesting for everybody around them instead of Ranma. "Maybe we could get Nabiki to help. I'm sure she'll suspect something is up the moment I start kissing him. Oh well, can't be helped. I'm not going to stop just for her." Kasumi thought.
Onna-Ranma loosened her grip on Kasumi, and she knew what the smaller girl wanted to do. Taking a half step back she spread her arms just enough to let the red head suddenly grow six inches, loose her curves, and turn into a black haired young man. Their arms tightened around each other again even as everybody else's eyes widened in amazement. Even after seeing the panda change into a man they were unprepared for a girl to change into a guy.
The hugging couple turn at the sound of several thuds. Akane, Nabiki, and Soun had all fainted while Genma was staring wide eyed at his son. Then he suddenly started grinning. "How did you do that without hot water, boy?" Genma demanded to know. Then he seemed to notice what the two of them were doing and his demeanor suddenly changed. "Decided to go with the oldest huh? So when should we hold the wedding? This weekend sounds good." He fully expected his son to object. He would do all he could to convince him that this needed to be done, but he knew that there would be some objections no matter what happened.
His again male offspring shrugged. "Sounds soon enough to me." He turned to look in the brown haired girl's eyes, mere inches from his own. "How about you?"
Kasumi smiled brilliantly at them. "I hope I can wait that long," She admitted truthfully. She wasn't sure if she was going to be able to get to sleep very easily with him in the next room. Their honeymoon had been most rudely interrupted, even after two years.
This last comment was enough to drive Genma to the edge of credulity. He turned saucer sized eyes on his son. "T-t-this weekend?" Seeing Ranma nod happily was more than his mind could process and he fainted, falling straight back to land on Akane's chest.
Ranma's fist thrust into the air. "Yes! I got all of 'em!" He shouted gleefully. Turning back to Kasumi he enveloped her in another hug, but this time, when their faces drew close he captured her lips in a deep kiss that left them both breathless by the time they were finished. For the moment, anyway.
They smothered one other with greedy hugs and feather light kisses, murmuring in the others ear. "I'm so glad you got sent back with me. I had hoped that I wouldn't have to try and win you again. There were such strange events that led to us getting together that I'm not sure if I could get them to go again."
Kasumi somehow managed to nod while being smothered. "I don't know if I would have been able to capture your attention with the way my sisters go. I feel guilty because I really hoped you would show up female again so Akane wouldn't like you from the start. I was so sure I'd lose you if she got to you first."
Ranma simply smiled at her, wondering how long he would have gone before he had tried to get them married if she hadn't gone back with him. Finally Kasumi sighed and murmured, her voice muffled by her position against her love, "We really should put them on a futon, especially with Genma's head where it is."
Ranma chuckled, bouncing Kasumi's head, which rested against his chest, pleasantly. "I don't know, maybe we should just let them be and see what conclusions they manage to jump to."
Kasumi then did something very un-Kasumi like. She bopped Ranma on the head. "Ranma!" She exclaimed, scandalized. The look of suppressed mirth in her eyes ruined the effect, though. Ranma saw through it and smiled his best smile at her. "You shouldn't think such things about family!" She continued, trying to ignore her husbands infectious smile. And not doing a very good job. Her sentence started to trail off as she snuggled closer to his firm body and somehow his smile got wider. Kasumi's own trademark smile shown forth, but instead of her usual blissfully happy one an almost lecherous smile blossomed. If anybody had been awake at that point they would have fainted again.
Ranma instantly recognized that look and quirked his own to match her smile. Kasumi molded herself tightly to Ranma's body as the two of them started to head toward the stairs, their lips locked. Ranma was somehow able to carry the girl while letting his hands have free reign up and down her back. They were interrupted by a groan coming from the floor. The couple paused in their activities, Kasumi's feet once again touching the floor, with a long suffering sigh to see who was returning to the land of the living.
Nabiki, being the one with the quickest mind, had managed to get over her shock of seeing Kasumi with a sex changing girl (her perception at the time) and decided that she would be better served if she were awake to question the events happening around her. She lifted her head and surveyed the bodies heaped on the floor.
To her right lay Akane, also having fainted, and so was Genma, the panda from earlier. Except his face had landed right in her sisters cleavage. Nabiki's eyes widened in horror. That man was going to be in a world of hurt if she awoke with him like that. Not knowing anything about Genma she decided to save him the pain and move him. She sat up and saw Soun also passed out to the other side of herself. Then she looked behind her and gasped.
There stood Kasumi, almost lewdly wrapped around an incredibly cute guy that the red headed girl had transformed into. Kasumi's hands were roving very suggestively over his body, while his own were gently massaging some of her feminine bits. THAT was unexpected behavior, and after seeing the two of them transform, one a different species and the other gender, Nabiki wasn't sure what to make of everything but was fairly certain that it wasn't good. Having so decided she started to try and figure out ways to find out information and make the guy's stay here as hard as possible. She didn't know if Kasumi was doing that willingly or not. Having all this going through her head caused her to forget about moving Genma off of Akane.
The boy had just opened his mouth to say something, presumably to Nabiki, when Akane awoke. She opened her eyes, wondering if it was a dream when she noticed a weight pressing against something that really shouldn't be pressed against under most circumstances. Akane looked downward and saw a bald, hanky covered head residing between her breasts. If there was one thing that Akane really couldn't stand it was perverts. Never mind the fact that he was unconscious at the time. He was on a place of her body that she didn't want anybody touching except a certain doctor.
Akane leapt to her feet, throwing the man off of her. He landed with a thud, having been awoke twice in a very short period of time in unpleasant ways. He looked around to get his bearings and noticed a rather large mallet descending toward his head. The sight was such a novelty that he completely forgot about dodging the thing. Akane huffed in expressed female furry, leaving her mallet embedded in Genma's head, both objects through the floor. Nabiki scowled slightly at this as she watched her sister stomp out of the room and head back to the dojo, but thought it understandable. Genma's was not a face that would be forgiven for having fainted in ones bosom. That cute boy Kasumi was draped over might be able to, but that was it.
Nabiki's mind hiccuped on that thought. Kasumi was draped over a boy? She looked again and, sure enough, she was clinging to an incredibly cute guy who was apparently enjoying himself very much in her older sisters embrace. Her scowl remained on her face as she thought about this. Something was not right, and if there was one thing Nabiki couldn't stand it was being in the dark. She was determined to get to the bottom of this. It gave her pause, though, to see the look of pure joy that was on Kasumi's face. Normally there was a happy smile there, but everybody knew it was put there by force of habit. She wasn't always that happy, ever since mother had died. She didn't really like being the mother figure at age of 12 but had gotten into the role rather quickly and thoroughly.
It always made Nabiki depressed thinking about what their oldest sister had had to do while also going to school while the younger siblings played and hung out with friends. There was never fairness in the world. 'Correction,' Nabiki thought. 'It apparently comes to those who wait. But when did she meet him? She hasn't been out of the house except for shopping for as long as I can remember.'
Just then she noticed the boy, Ranma she thought her...his...uh, well, apparently the girl was really a boy given how he was enthusiastically returning Kasumi's loving minstrations. But he was trying to get her attention while she had been thinking to herself and recalling Oneechan's previous life of activity, or lack thereof. She quirked her eyebrow at him, wondering what his reaction to the subtle reply would be. His hand quickly twitched through several positions, telling her the time and the place that he wanted to meet and talk with her.
Nabiki's eyes widened in shock at that. That was a private code that she had developed to use with her sisters and later with her lackeys when she wanted to talk with them in private and not have anybody else know that she was going to go discuss things in private. Given how quickly he had rattled the message off he obviously was more than just passingly familiar with it. But how could that be? There couldn't have been a way for him to know it, it had been sworn by all the sisters that the only people who they would teach it to would be those who had to know it. There was no way that Kasumi could have taught him, Nabiki didn't even recall the eldest even remembering what the symbols were a week after they had been completed. But that left Akane or one of her lackeys. That couldn't be either though. Akane hated boys in general, only a select few being privileged to get more than a down the nose look from her. Nabiki herself had so much good stuff on her subordinates that she couldn't see any of them doing it, especially with one who was in a relationship with her older sister and who was not afraid of using the system. That left he had learned it while watching them, and she really didn't think that that would be possible given how quick and easy the system was to use without other people watching being able to pick it up on their own.
All these thoughts floated through her mind in the time it took for her to crook her finger to the acknowledged position. Then she got her thoughts under control and decided to try and find something out immediately. "Kasumi? Uh, when did you meet Ranma? That is Ranma right? The red headed girl that changed into a boy your holding so possessively?"
"Oh, almost five years now," was the answer. Nabiki blinked in wonder about that. How could she have known him for five years without anybody knowing anything about it? That just didn't make any sense. "Yes, that red head is Ranma, he picked up a curse while he was traveling through China, among other things." At the last Kasumi gave him a meaningful look, which Ranma looked somewhat sheepish about.
"Hey, I only had my father to look at at the time. I've changed since then. And I got you.." He said, finishing his sentence with a peck on her lips.
Kasumi giggled. "Yes, I did manage to catch you, didn't I? I wish the weekend was over already. I don't want to wait." Ranma nodded in agreement before turning back to his soon to be wife's younger sister.
"Don't worry, I'll explain later. There is much for us to discuss. Hopefully you won't hate me again." With that the two of them broke apart, Ranma to extract his father from the floor and get Soun on a futon, Kasumi to go have a chat with Akane about her temper, and that she should at least get to know a person before she starts swinging her mallets around. One must make sure they are deserving before one acts. Nabiki helped Ranma somewhat, getting a pillow for her fathers head, although Ranma seemed to know where everything was already, which also didn't make any sense with what she knew of the situation. And that comment he had made really threw her. Hate him again? When had she met him before? She couldn't remember a thing that had happened that would cause this type of response from him, or anybody that remotely resembled him.
She would just have to wait until the meeting and pump him for all the information that she could. With that decided, Nabiki went back to surveying the damage to the floor and wondering when her little sister was finally going to get over her temper enough to actually develop a relationship. Or when Nabiki herself was going to go to college and hopefully loose her mercenary image so she could get into a relationship. With Kasumi married to Ranma for the continuation of the dojo, hopefully he would be able to make enough money that she could put most of her mercenary ways behind her and just concentrate on the ones that she actually thought were fun. Like bugging Kuno. The dimwit was amusing to be around sometimes. But still, she needed somebody who would be able to think for themselves, not require her to do it all for them. That was what useless men and people like her little sister wanted. Oh well, one couldn't really say that until she saw who Akane would try and see once she finally got over Kuno's obsession. Hopefully soon, before she turned her back on boys altogether.
Nabiki looked over at Ranma as he positioned his father next to Soun, wondering who was going to wake up first, and wondering just how Akane was going to react to Ranma being married to her oldest sister almost as soon as he showed up. Especially since Ranma had no intention of telling her the truth. Kasumi might if things got to the point where she would have to know, but these things were best left in the past if they could be. Neither of them wanted to detail the past four years and the actions that everyone would take during them. Especially Genma. Those things would only equal bad news if he found out that his son knew about that future and what would happen to all of them during that time. Even Nabiki wasn't completely safe, but that would be a risk the couple would have to take, cause they weren't going to be able to do this with all of the Tendo's and one Saotome watching them, they were far to familiar with each other even to have been corresponding by mail. Be that as it may, it really had no relation to what they were doing at the moment. Waiting for everybody to wake up. Ranma could only hope that there wouldn't be any tables involved with this introduction, unlike the first one.
Ranma watched everybody gathered around the table. He looked into their eyes, wondering what they were thinking and wondering if they were going to be thinking the same things they did the first time he had shown up. Nothing to it but just ask, he guessed.
"I imagine all of you have some questions that you want answered. Well, to start with my name is Ranma Saotome, and this is my father Genma Saotome. We have been traveling through China recently til we came across the training ground at Jusenkyo. This is where my father made one of his many mistakes. Although, I must admit, I wasn't really listening to the guide either, so I'm at least partially at fault for getting myself cursed. As to the nature of the curse, Jusenkyo is called the valley of Accursed Springs for good reason. There are over 100 cursed springs there, each one has its own tragic story of what drowned there a long time ago. Oyaji fell in the Spring of drowned Panda, so now whenever he gets splashed with cold water he transforms into a panda. Hot water reverses the curses. I also have a curse, but I learned to control mine during some of my many adventures. Those occurred at a later time. From Jusenkyo we traveled back to Japan where we came here. I've known Kasumi for some time now, and have fallen in love with her. She has returned my affections and we hope to get married this weekend."
Ranma had been watching all of their reactions while he told them most of the truth, and it seemed that Akane was starting to believe him, while everybody else didn't. Except Kasumi, of course. She almost always believed in what happened to him. She was, after all, present and played a role in much of it. Nabiki didn't have to believe it, for she was going to be getting the full story from them later on in her room, the only safe place in the entire house. From herself, anyway.
Soun and Genma couldn't believe that they would be so lucky as to get the agreement taken care of the moment that the two of them arrived. It was a dream come true, and now they would only have to get them to start teaching classes so they could live off them instead of Nabiki like Soun had been doing. Ranma had a surprise in store for them, one he was going to give too Nabiki, along with a few tips on the stock market once he gained her confidence. When he had shown up the first time, after a couple months he had started to talk to Nabiki about finances once he had found out he was rich and discovered some very interesting things that had all happened while he was in Nerima and shortly afterword that he was going to take advantage of for the Tendo's. And to keep his parents off his back. Genma, at least, would want him to start teaching as soon as he got married, something that he knew he couldn't do for a very long time to come.
He just had to figure out a way in which he could get the inheritance without letting either of his parents know. It would be one thing to have lots of money that people would try and get out of him, it was something else when those people started using his family and friends to extort him. That was when he would show them why a god feared him.
Be that as it may, he had to consult with Kasumi about how they were going to handle Nabiki. While she could probably figure out what was going on eventually, it would take her a while, during which time she would probably make sure his life was as hard as possible. Once she found out what was going on he thought she would apologize and try and make it up, but he would rather not have to deal with that at all.
Once everything was concluded Ranma sent a couple of signals to Nabiki and Kasumi, asking the two of them to meet him at different places. Kasumi responded, unnoticed by everyone else. Nabiki did the same, although her reaction was visible if you knew what to look for Kasumi, though, was going to be meeting him on the roof for a little strategy meeting, among a few other things he wanted to....discuss with his soon to be wife.
Nabiki sat in her room, wondering what the eldest daughters fiance wanted to talk to her about. She had almost been taken by their story it seemed so plausible. Obviously the two of them were quick thinkers, something that she had always thought Kasumi capable of, but she never had the chance to prove it. But the fact that they wanted to talk to her alone signaled that something was up, not to mention the fact that the couple were constantly glancing back and forth at each other during their tale as if reading the others thoughts. The way they had managed to orchestrate that story she was almost willing to believe in telepathy.
Nabiki realized she would have to ask Ranma about that during her coming meeting. She had learned that day that magic and curses were real, so maybe telepathy was too. She never would have thought either possible if she hadn't seen them with her own eyes. Actually, she still didn't entirely believe them. She had been looking for the smoke and mirrors every time Genma had transformed. Ranma had only done so once, to again show everybody what he looked like while female. Nabiki had her breath taken away, the guy made a gorgeous girl!
The short brown haired girl glanced at her clock again, hoping that the final 30 minutes until she was supposed to let Ranma in through her window were up. Alas, she still had another 15 to go. Deciding to try and curb any other thoughts on the matter until she had some more information, Nabiki started reading a manga.
Kasumi regarded her almost-soon-to-be-but-not-quite husband. "Are you sure about that Ranma? I know she didn't like you very much when you first arrived."
Ranma nodded, as he was convinced that he would need to tell Nabiki about his fortune, just to be sure that he didn't get on her bad side for holding out on something as important as that. Everybody knew how much money meant to Nabiki.
"I'm sure Kasumi-chan. I've seen what she has done on occasion, and I don't want to get in her bad graces. On the other hand, I know that I'm going to be putting a rather large drain on her resources pretty soon," Next meal the two thought as one. (Great minds think alike, ne?) "Besides, she won't want all that much once she realizes what she has in her stock portfolio now."
The by now far eldest Tendo sister nodded in agreement. "Yes, I suppose that would probably be best, even if it will only get her deeper into trouble."
Ranma winced a bit at that. He knew Kasumi had been trying to get each of her sisters to start growing up, or in Nabiki's case, become a little warmer and less greedy before they were alone in the world. Even if it was their own fault, when your alone, nobody is there to say that your thinking is wrong and needs to be corrected, to give support when needed. Ryoga was a prime example of this. Far too prime.
Ranma checked his internal clock and realized they still had 15 minutes before they had to speak with Nabiki. The pig-tailed martial artist was determined to use those minutes to their fullest. Kasumi seemed to realize what he was thinking and eagerly leaned into the passionate kiss. After almost their entire time was up the two finally separated and just hugged while they got their breath under control.
"I sure am going to miss you when you leave for school tomorrow. I was so happy when you graduated, and now I have to wait another two and a half years." Kasumi pouted, making Ranma marvel at her ability to be incredibly cute when she was trying to pout. It was just something about her he guessed.
Ranma responded. "I know, love. I'm going to be heading home for lunch. Or would you rather come to school? It would be a good time to get some air and exercise."
Kasumi blink-blinked in surprise. "I hadn't even thought of that. I think I'll go to school. We haven't been in places that have good fences in a while."
Ranma grinned at her, knowing she missed walking on top of fences too. It was something he had gotten her addicted to after the first few times he had carried her across the fences and rooftops of Nerima. It had also started her wearing clothes other than house dresses. For most of her martial art adventures she would usually don something similar to his own clothing, noting that they were fairly close in height when he was male. Kasumi hadn't really intended to pick up some of the skills she did, but hanging around with her husband like she had caused her to learn things that she didn't think she would have otherwise.
The Amiguriken had been learned, fence walking was now her main form of travel, as was roof hopping. Her actual fighting style wasn't really all that much, but when it counted, it could be used rather effectively. Kasumi was just too passive for her own good on some occasions. Ranma had been working steadily on that, but very subtly. He liked Kasumi the way she was, and didn't want her to change too much. Ranma loved to watch Kasumi practice her art, while Kasumi loved to watch Ranma. While her husband had been able to perform just about any style known to man with perfection, Kasumi had only mastered the passive arts, inventing kata to suit her needs of cooking, cleaning, and exercising her mind while maintaining her body. Since she had married her training had increased some, to the point where she was getting much better with every passing week.
One thing that really surprised the both of them, however, was when she tried to learn the soul of ice. She had picked up the technique just as fast as Ranma had, able to make ice cubes out of a glass of water and make dew at will. That had really been the breaking point. Once she had learned to control her aura like that, she had improved with leaps and bounds, hence her current ease with roof hopping and using one's energy to increase speed, strength, and stamina. While she didn't really have any ki attacks, she could do a Hiryu Shoten Ha, and they were working on forming an energy blast like the Moko Takabishi with the soul of ice. Ranma was sure that it could be done, he just had to find a way to harness the energy that he and his wife could produce for something other than freezing things and making tornados. Kasumi smiled when she realized that they would have a few years to figure it out, and that she would have something to do while waiting for Ranma to get home after she had finished her chores. There was always a new move to be worked on or invented, something that she enjoyed doing just as much as Ranma, even if she didn't even perform most of them. Kasumi was just a creative person once she had an outlet for her imagination.
Ranma didn't think he would ever stop being impressed with his wife. The things she came up with would amaze him even to this day. However, now they had to go talk to Nabiki, something that Ranma prayed he could get right the first time for once in his life. Most of his dealings with Nabiki had left him wanting for something.
Nabiki sat in her room, arms crossed under her breasts, foot tapping impatiently for the lovebirds to show up. She didn't want to tell anyone, but she was dying to know how Ranma had learned what the hand signals were if he had only corresponded with Kasumi by letter. She was also dying to know what they had to tell her that they didn't want anybody else to hear. In fact, Ranma was so well informed he knew that pretty much the only safe place to talk was in her room, where all the mic's fed to. Only one more minute before she had to open her window. Nabiki's foot started tapping faster. She knew prime information when it showed up.
Finally, her clock ticked over the last minute. Instantly she slid the window pane aside. Not a second later Ranma alighted on her sill, a slightly peeved expression on his face. He looked back over his shoulder. "That wasn't very nice, Kasumi-chan."
Nabiki stood there in open mouthed shock. KASUMI did something not nice?!
Her voice floated up from outside. "You just don't know her like I do. Besides, I would never allow something to happen to you." Ranma's peeved expression quickly changed to something that Nabiki wasn't sure she could identify, not ever having really seen it before. She guessed that it was probably love. She could only ever remember that expression on her mother's face, and that was a little fuzzy it had been so long ago.
Nabiki realized something then. Ranma wasn't carrying Kasumi, so how was she supposed to get in there? The middle Tendo daughter thought it was to be a meeting for the three of them, but maybe Ranma had gotten the signals wrong or something. Ranma moved out of the window and stood next to Nabiki. A moment later Kasumi alighted on her sill, her skirt billowing about her as if she had just floated there. Nabiki's jaw unhinged and banged painfully against the floor while her eyes tripled in size.
Ratcheting her jaw shut Nabiki stuttered out, "K-K-Kasumi? D-d-did you just jump t-t-two stories into my window?"
Ranma reached out for his fiance. She smiled at him and took his hand, using it to help her keep her steady so her clothing would stay proper while she climbed out of the window. She probably could have by herself, but that was just one of the reasons she loved him. Being pampered was something that she could enjoy for a change.
"Yes I did. That's part of what we need to explain to you tonight. Remember, just keep an open mind and you will be much farther ahead than before Ranma showed up." Kasumi said in her most reassuring voice.
Nabiki took a long look at Kasumi, but she looked like the real Kasumi. Which meant that Ranma must be controlling her somehow. Before she could continue that line of thinking Kasumi sat her younger sister down in her desk chair before joining Ranma on the bed. She put her arm through his, leaning up against him, both her smaller hands holding one of his in her lap. The three sat staring at each other for a minute before Ranma realized that he would just have to tell her what was really going on and hope that she would give them time to prove themselves. She was waiting for them, instead of demanding information. The cautious Nabiki wasn't something he was used to, but this was their first meeting in this time.
Ranma decided to go for broke. "Nabiki, the Kasumi you know is gone. This is one from the future. I'm from the future also, the both of us having been brought back here by means that we aren't entirely sure about. We're not that far into the future, only a few years. But the thing is, I don't know if I even want to go back, even if I have to go through high school again. The future is a rather unpleasant place for the two of us. Only thing I can claim that I really liked about then is Kasumi herself."
He paused to breath for a moment while Nabiki seemed to be going through several stages of shock, unsure of what to do about the weird things Kasumi's boyfriend was saying. Kasumi herself just beamed happiness at Ranma, almost causing him to stutter to a halt from the effect she had on him. "The reason I'm telling you like this, Nabiki, is that I don't want to get on your bad side. The first time I showed up here, something happened between us that caused you to put up a barrier between us. You did just about everything in your power to make my stay here unpleasant, and you were very successful. The other reason is because no matter how hard I tried, you would always keep your mask in place, never letting your other side out, even cutting out your sisters toward the end. I don't want to loose you as a friend, and Kasumi doesn't want to loose you as a sister. So, basically what I'm asking here is for you to hold your judgment on us. I know that things are going to be getting very strange from here on in, especially when my past starts to catch up with me. But you don't have to worry about that unless you want to. All I'm saying here is that I want to be honest with you, because you have a good head on your shoulders. I would like to be able to claim you as a friend instead of another enemy."
Kasumi was rather impressed with his speech, but she wasn't sure if it was doing good or bad. Usually the truth was best, but when things started to get too weird people would stop seeing reality and ignore everything. She could only hope that her little sister had an open mind about these things, unlike the other members of the household.
Nabiki's cool gaze regarded the two of them for several long moments. Finally, she spoke. "So, you're from the future, you change sexes, your father turns into a panda, and you somehow managed to get Kasumi tangled up in all this?"
Kasumi shook her head. "Oh my, no. I was a perfectly willing participant. I wouldn't dream of leaving him out all by himself. Who knows what trouble he could get himself into." She gazed lovingly at her betrothed.
Ranma chuckled in mild embarrassment. "Yeah, I know Kasumi-chan. *Sigh* You would have to bail me out of something pretty quick, wouldn't you. I have the worst luck in the world." He thought on that a minute before adding. "No, actually I don't. My friends and family don't die around me, I don't let those kinds of things happen. I don't have the WORST luck. Just close."
Kasumi glomped Ranma briefly, happy with his answer. Besides, she felt like it. Who said Kasumi was always the perfectly serene daughter? Ranma's mind had derailed when he had felt his fiance rub herself against his side while mortally wounding him with cuteness rays. It was something he was perfectly willing to acknowledge as a severe weakness, but he somehow remembered that he still had to deal with Nabiki before she started to jump to too many conclusion, as that also seemed to be the story of his life.
Fortunately for Ranma, Kasumi thought the same thing at the same time and reserved herself to simply hanging onto his arm while caressing his hand held possessively in her lap.
Nabiki spoke again. "So, are you two done making out in my room?" She had always possessed a sharp tongue.
Kasumi dimpled at her younger sister. "No. I want to be ravished, right here, right now." For added affect the brown haired girl leaned back, pulling Ranma with her till he was almost lying atop her. The couple glanced over to Nabiki.
Her eyes were taking up 90 percent of her face while her mouth made a good impression of a fish out of water. Kasumi's musical laughter tinkled through the room, shortly joined by Ranma's own. The two sat up and resumed their previous positions, making it obvious they had just been pulling Nabiki's leg. Kasumi had become much more playful since they had gotten together, in just about every sense of the word.
Nabiki just couldn't believe that her older sister would ever do something like that in her lifetime. Joking was almost unheard of, and pulling something sexual like that was harder to believe than Ranma coming from the future. Although that would explain how Kasumi had changed, especially if the girl were in love. That would probably get her to loosen up, especially with someone who looked as fun to be around as Ranma.
With a shimmer Kasumi was suddenly holding a much smaller and softer Ranma. "Hey Nabiki," The boy turned girl said. "What's so amazing, huh? It's just us girls here. Kasumi was just pretending that she might do something like that if she was actually engaged to her one true love and was going to get married to him that very weekend."
The couple managed to hold their laughter in just long enough for Nabiki to really start looking at them like they had sprouted several things that they really shouldn't have. Of course, in Ranma's case, that was exactly what happened. Nabiki just hadn't had the time yet to get used to the transformation, something that seemed to happen very quickly for some reason.
When it didn't look like they were planning on joking more, Nabiki pulled herself together and tried to get some facts that she could confirm their story with. "So, do you have any way of proving that you're from the future?" Once again proof that great minds think alike Ranma already had everything he needed in his head. He just hoped that nothing would have changed since he went back in time. If he went to an alternate universe instead of just back in time some of the companies might not even exist. That would be a surefire way of getting Nabiki to make his stay as unpleasant as possible. Ranma took the plunge. He didn't have any other way.
"Yeah, I got some major stocks that you should invest in, I got some results from various sporting events around the world., most of them having something to do with fighting though. I don't think you did all that much with sports and betting beside's Akane's morning fights. Umm, geez, I really should have paid more attention when we had gone over all the dojo's finances Nabiki. I'm having trouble remembering what some of the pertinent numbers are."
Kasumi looked on in concern. He had been doing so good, too! Only thing to do now was to give him a back rub to help him remember. It didn't have anything to do with the fact Kasumi liked running her hands all over him and kneading his rock hard muscles, no relation whatsoever. Of course, he was female at the moment, but she could still feel his muscles beneath the skin. Still, she liked him better when he was bigger than her. It just felt right to her, even though she didn't mind when Ranma was female, in fact, welcomed it sometimes, she still usually preferred him male. A few subtle nudged later and Ranma got the hint, shifting his body mass around in that unique way Jusenkyo does to its victims to once again regain the title of man of the house.
Nabiki was taken aback by this a bit, keeping her from commenting on how long Ranma had been thinking on the mater of what he needed to remember in order to help her the most. When Kasumi started giving the young man a back rub he visibly relaxed. Nabiki thought for sure she could hear the gears in his mind start whirring even faster. Perhaps if she showed him some examples it might jump start his memory...
Nabiki gathered a few things from a drawer in her desk before locking it again and joining Kasumi on the bed, sitting on Ranma's other side. "Here, see if this helps. This column here is where they were last week, this one is where they are now..." Nabiki ran down the list of numbers on the page until she had mentioned everything that was on it. Hoping it would have done some good besides make her realize how much body heat Ranma produced she laid the paper down in his lap and awaited a response.
He seemed to be lost for several more moments before he smack his fist into his palm. "Ah! Now I remember." He whipped a pen out of nowhere and started scribbling on the newspaper. It took several minutes but he eventually found everything that he was looking for. He turned the marked up sheet over to Nabiki to see what her reaction would be. Kasumi just smiled, sure that everything would work out now. Desperately hoping was more like it, but Kasumi always was an optimist. She stopped her massage and leaned forward, her hands sliding down his front to trace little patterns while she pressed her breasts against his back, knowing what kind of effect that had on him and thinking how naughty she was being.
Nabiki studied it for several long moments, enough time for Kasumi to start feeling guilty at what she was doing to poor Ranma's concentration and scoot over to lean against her fiance's side. His arm snaked around her waist and pulled her fully against him. The couple sighed in contentment, smiling blissfully for a few precious moments before they were interrupted by Nabiki's laughter.
They looked over and saw her almost fall out of her chair. She descended down into giggles and started looking over Ranma's markings. A few moments later Nabiki started howling again and did fall out of her chair. Ranma and Kasumi blinked in unison at the loud thump the mercenary girl made.
Kasumi leaned forward and looked down at her little sister. "What's so funny, imotochan?"
"Did you see some of the stuff he's written down here? HAHAHAHAhehehahahe, ooh, hehe. And here I was actually thinking about believing you! The future must be a strange place if these are the ones succeeding."
Kasumi snagged the paper from the spasming Nabiki before looking it over. "Oh, I remember this one." She was tapping one Ranma had already marked.
Nabiki managed to calm down enough to look at which one Kasumi was pointing at. It was some American internet company that she had heard people wondering how good it was going to do once it went for sale on the market. It had just started the day before, and nobody was really sure what it would manage to do in the long run. Nabiki herself hadn't really given it much thought, as internet companies didn't hold much security in her book. But, according to both Ranma and Kasumi, it was going to be thriving the next four years. Even if it died after that, she could have herself a decent fortune on that one stock alone. And there were a dozen marked down on the paper, with some of the remembered points that the stocks stopped at listed next to them. Her eyes bugged when she noted how high a few of them went.
"You're sure these figures are accurate?" Nabiki inquired.
Ranma nodded. "Yeah, I didn't write any down that I wasn't sure about. There are a bunch more that I couldn't remember the figures of, but I know they go up."
Nabiki was looking at them cooly, trying her hardest to contain her excitement. "So, do you remember anything that happens soon? So I don't have to take all this on blind faith?"
Kasumi looked mildly insulted. "Don't you trust me, Nabiki-chan?"
"Nonono! I do, I'm just not sure about cutey here." The last was said with a wave in Ranma's direction.
Kasumi tightened her grip on Ranma. "He's MY cutey, so stay away."
Nabiki recoiled in shock. She had never seen her sister react like that to anything before! She opened her mouth to blurt forth a hastily thought up retort when Ranma turned and tightened his grip on the tall brown-haired beauty that was his and his alone. "You have nothing to worry about love, I don't think I could ever trust Nabiki near enough for that to happen after what I went through the first time."
Kasumi seemed to relax a little, but shot one last look that was too quick for Nabiki to read before the eldest Tendo daughter turned and kissed Ranma hungrily. Ranma returned it greedily. After about a minute Nabiki started getting embarrassed, as neither one of them seemed to care that they were making out in somebody else's room, right in front of its occupant, no less! Another few minutes and they had somehow managed to deepen the kiss while Nabiki had turned several shades redder. Not sure what exactly to do in a situation like this she cleared her throat loudly.
When that failed to get a reaction from them she cleared it louder, almost shouting it. Still no response. And they were getting worse. Nabiki turned away from them, afraid they would start shedding clothes any second. Spying her camera on her desk she snatched it up and pointed it at the pair, hoping that the sound of the shutter would get them to react. She lifted the device to her eyes and watched them for several seconds before she rested her finger on the button, feelings of longing and jealousy rising in her that she hadn't even thought were there before hand. She squashed those thoughts before quickly pressing the shutter button.
With a startlingly loud click a moment of Ranma and Kasumi's love was captured on film. A Fuji moment indeed. Ever so slowly the couple broke their kiss, staring into each others eyes for the longest time before they regarded Nabiki again, obviously not surprised or started by her presence, telling the middle daughter that they had been doing that on purpose. The two smiled at her and spoke in unison.
"I want a copy of that."
Ranma and Kasumi looked at each other again and Nabiki could FEEL their love and affection for each other radiating from them in waves. It was the single most amazing thing Nabiki had ever witnessed in her life, something that sparked a feeling in her, sparked a feeling of wanting. Wanting that, wanting what those two people on her bed shared between them. Love, pure and simple. She knew it was out there. Her older sister had found it, she knew it had to exist, all Nabiki had to do was find the right person and she would be set. If Nabiki had sat down with Kasumi and heard everything that had happened to the two of them to get them to this point she wouldn't have been so sure about finding it, but one always has to be hopeful, or it'll never happen.
"Wow...." Nabiki whispered it so quietly and with such reverence she had been sure that nobody else would be able to hear it. Nevertheless, both Kasumi and Ranma returned their attention to her.
"So," Ranma inquired, "Have we got a deal? Will you trust me, accept what I am and what is going on if I give you those accounts and let you build yourself a fortune?"
Nabiki smirked, not nearly as evilly as she used to, but she couldn't pass up something this easy. "I already have all the information in my hand, what are you going to do about it if I don't agree?"
There was a flicker of movement, Nabiki felt a breeze, and suddenly Kasumi was holding the paper Ranma had marked up, not looking as if she had left her fiances side. "Never mess with the Saotome's. We fight to win, and we never lose." Kasumi stated.
Nabiki sat in open mouthed shock. She was so stunned her eyes had popped out of her head and were rolling around in her lap, still somehow staring at her older sister, unable to comprehend what had just happened. "K-k-k-ka-kasu... uh... K-ka..." That had been the absolute LAST thing she ever would have expected, or even imagined, that could happen. KASUMI was fast enough to disappear from view, like her father used to do when he still practiced the Art?!?
The middle Tendo couldn't deal with it and fainted dead away, fortunately slumping straight back in her chair while her eyeballs returned to her head so her eye lids could flutter closed in the appropriate fashion. Kasumi started giggling almost evilly, her eyes twinkling with mischief.
Ranma saw this and couldn't resist glomping his girlfriend, which she returned. "Honey, that was almost evil of you."
"True, but now we get to go to bed so we can rest up and deal with everything that happens tomorrow." Kasumi gently ran her hand across his face, as if she was trying to memorize his features by touch alone.
Ranma returned the gesture, since he was trying to memorize her features. They were going to be separated for the greater part of the day for the next three or so years, since he had to graduate high school again. Neither one of them resented that fact too much, since Ranma hadn't gotten everything he could have out of his first education. Still, they grumbled and complained that they weren't spending enough time together.
The two put Nabiki in bed, not wanting her to be too stiff when she woke up the next morning and headed out for some private time on the roof before they went to sleep, alone, and lonely.
"Yeah, yeah, I'll go to school, you don't need to tell me," Ranma said to his father, who still had his mouth open to inform his son as he walked by that he had been enrolled at Furinkan.
Nabiki appeared from around the corner already dressed and ready to go, having things to do before classes started. Ranma walked up to her and smiled, hoping that he had managed to get partway through the layer of ice and hostility that surrounded her heart. "So, want to go to school now? I might be able to help with what your doing in the mornings."
Nabiki stared at him for several long moments, a disbelieving look on her face. "How do you know what I do in the mornings..." she trailed off as memories of the previous night surfaced. "Oh."
Ranma grinned at her. "I already ate, so we can leave your sister out of this and hopefully avoid a few things that happened the first time I was here."
Nabiki reluctantly nodded, not sure if she was making a mistake or not, but realizing that she would never know unless she gave him a chance. Risks had to be taken in business, and he was starting to make her believe him. Didn't have anything to do with his gorgeous body, cute butt, or handsome face. Nope, nothing at all.
The two walked to the door, but stopped when Kasumi approached them with a bento. Ranma accepted it for Nabiki and, while his hands were full, Kasumi used the opportunity to reach behind him and squeeze his rear. Nabiki goggled at the sight, and she quickly looked around to make sure nobody else was watching.
Kasumi smiled. "Don't worry Nabiki, I already checked." She left her hand on her boyfriend until he managed to get an arm free, which he wrapped around her waist and pulled her up against him.
"Honey, we're not married yet. But, to give you an idea of what's in store for you once we are, here is my goodbye until lunch." Ranma tossed the bento at Nabiki, who just managed to catch it, dropped his bag and grabbed her in a huge hug, which quickly led to one of the most intense kisses Nabiki had ever witnessed anywhere in her life, including the one they had shared the previous night. They dragged it on so long Nabiki was starting to get really embarrassed watching the two when they finally broke off, resting their foreheads together and staring into their beloved's eyes.
In perfect unison the two said, "I love you," Before slowly breaking apart, hands trailing down arms, fingertips lingering, still touching as long as possible until they finally separated completely and turned away, leaving each other to deal with reality. Nabiki, even as cold as she had tried to become after losing her mother, was still female, still had ideals of romance and fantasies in her mind, and her insides turned to mush after seeing something so touching. She had again felt the love those two shared coming off of them in waves, and Nabiki herself wasn't even a martial artist in tune with such things.
Ranma walked past her out the door, and it took the middle Tendo daughter a moment before she was able to collect herself and follow him, not questioning the fact that he knew the way to get to the school when he had never been there before. It hadn't occurred to her until he had waved at Dr. Tofu, the surprised man giving a slightly hesitant wave in return.
"It's a good thing Dr. Tofu is so close on the way to school, or things would have been a lot harder." Ranma said to himself.
Nabiki knew that there was no way he could have known all of that by himself, since this was the first time that she had seen him. It also seemed highly unlikely that Kasumi would have been sending him letters that stated what route she took to school and that the doctor was that close by. Though she might mention the doctor, Ranma wouldn't have known what he looked like. Nabiki was finding it harder and harder to believe that what Ranma and Kasumi told her last night was false. Things kept adding up that seemed to point to the fact he was from the future. Given the way Kasumi had been acting that morning, that was also a sure sign that she wasn't normal, either. The brown haired girl pondered this as they made their way toward Furinkan, wondering what she would do with the information.
She didn't know it, but Ranma was wondering the same thing. He didn't think she was going to sell it, since nobody would believe her, but he was sure she could do something with it besides the stocks he had told her about. Ranma was confident that he could help her in her morning rounds, especially with the morning fight. He had to tell her some things before she went off with her partners in business, so Ranma started talking about his plans for the morning.
Nabiki stood in her second floor window, a smirk riding her face that wouldn't quit. After hearing all of Ranma's plans she had to admit that it would probably cause an uproar, but she couldn't wait to see it. She just hoped Akane would forgive him someday. Losing in front of the whole school wasn't something that she would enjoy, but then again, Akane never did seem to appreciate what she had until she lost it. Maybe this was the sort of thing needed to get her to admit that she wasn't that great of a martial artist and she was mainly doing it to keep in shape. Nabiki herself could tell that Kuno held back whenever he fought her, since she had seen him when he had gone all out, but apparently nobody else in the school had.
Now was the time to make sure that Akane was shaken out of her dream world, however cruel that might be. Since Ranma had made it very clear that he wasn't going to be doing anything to protect her when all the weirdos started showing up, she was going to have to do it herself. Ranma had made it abundantly clear that he was going to be at Kasumi's side and nowhere else.
Ranma's voice spoke from beside her. "I should have a little time before the rain starts up since I didn't go with Akane and have to stop at Tofu's clinic to get some hot water."
Nabiki looked at him blankly for a moment before recalling that the cute man before her could turn into a cute woman with water. If he wanted to, anyway. Nabiki looked a little disturbed as her sisters fiance rubbed his hands together gleefully, a mad glint in his eye.
He turned to her and said, "You have no idea how long I've wanted to do something like this. It's been a dream of mine ever since I first showed up here all those years ago." Ranma turned back to the gathering crowd of boys below them. "Hehe, I can't wait."
Nabiki simply nodded, not sure how she could respond to something like that. Dealing with somebodies past like it was the present and future sure was a strange thing to do. Nabiki managed somehow, just like she always did.
A dust cloud appeared on the horizon, obviously Akane getting herself psyched up for her confrontation with her morning dance partners. With a cry of, "I hate boys!" The youngest Tendo stormed onto the school grounds, her arms and legs whirling around her to drive off the many males seeking to pummel her in the name of misguided love.
Nabiki looked at Ranma again and started to wonder about him. The guy was so excited he was vibrating, and putting off a lot of heat. Finally Akane laid the smack down on her last regular opponent just in time for her to grab a rose from the air. She looked in the direction it had come and groaned in annoyance when Tatewaki Kuno stepped from behind his tree of choice, poem poised on his lips.
"Truly such a boorish lot..."
He was interrupted by a voice from the second story window. "Hey, we're not all done trying to beat her yet, you know."
There was a collective blink as the entire school stared up at the pigtailed youth standing confidently on the sill of the window that Nabiki usually stood in. Everybody found it strange that she was missing and the young man had taken her place. Before anybody could respond to that he dropped down to the ground, causing a gasp to travel through the gathered crowd when he made a soft landing on the concrete below, perfectly fine.
He stood and slowly walked toward Akane. She had fallen back into her stance, but seemed frozen there as she watched her sister's fiance slowly approach. She should have known that he was a two timing bastard! Trying to get her on a date by defeating her while Kasumi was at home waiting for his return. Well, she would show him a thing or two about doing that to a woman, let alone someone as sweet as her eldest sister.
Ranma smirked at Kuno and Akane, glad that he had this chance again. He so hated that pompous idiot, and this might be just the thing to get Akane motivated enough to turn her into a real martial artist. "I challenge Akane Tendo for the right to claim her. And Kuno," Ranma added, leveling a finger at the deluded kendoist, who was frozen mid-swager. " You're next, so don't think about interfering in this fight." Several eyebrows shot up at his wording towards the youngest Tendo girl, but the boys had all been fighting for the right to claim her in whatever way they could, so nobody commented.
It was amazing how quickly everyone seemed to forget the sight of Ranma falling unharmed from the second story window, something that they had never seen, or even believed possible before. They all immediately assumed that Akane was going to pound the new guy flat. Kuno stood aside stunned, for he had decreed that any who desired a date would have to defeat her in combat. Since he had already let most of the male student body have their go, he knew that it was the newcomers right to have his chance before Kuno himself stepped forward and claimed all the glory for defeating his fierce tigress and allowing her to revel in his love for her. It was the way he did things, and he was never one to back down from a tradition, no matter how short it had been standing.
As soon as Ranma got within ten feet of Akane she launched herself forward, not even giving him a chance to get prepared or brace himself, despite the fact that Ranma had given her a formal challenge, no matter how weirdly situated the events may be. She rushed quickly, planning on flowing Ranma off his feet with a punch to his face. She could see the start of Ranma preparing to drop down below her fist, so she lowered her aim to hit him where she anticipated him to be.
She was shocked when her fist met nothing and she almost lost her balance, toppling onto the man she was fighting. Ranma had bent over backwards into an impossible looking pose, back straight and level with the ground, keeping himself a mere inch below Akane's fist. The girl looked shocked for a moment before recovering and dropping into a leg sweep as quickly as she could, hoping to catch him in his overconfidence.
Ranma planted his hands and lifted his feet into the air, easily avoiding her foot as it flashed by. He pushed himself into the air over her head, bewildering the girl as she had lost sight of him for the briefest moments while she was spinning for another sweep to take her opponents arms out. Ranma righted himself in the air and kicked her in the back of the head, nothing too strong, but enough to send her crashing forward onto her front. Her face was saved by getting her hands and arms scratched up, something Akane was very annoyed about. How dare he strike her like that, especially after disappearing into thin air.
Akane noticed Ranma approaching behind her and planted her own hands, planning on trying to flip up onto her feet and catch him in the chin as she did so. When she deemed his shadow close enough she moved, but her foot was easily evaded. She took a step back and assumed her stance again, wondering how hard his attacks would be to defend against, given his excellent counters to hers.
"I need to finish this quickly if I'll have enough time to get Kuno before the late bell." With that statement Ranma suddenly flashed forward, seeming as if he had just appeared before the startled girl. Before anybody could react he was giving her a hug, causing everyone watching to facefault rather painfully. Akane was red in the face for the briefest of moments before Ranma's Shiatsu took effect and the long haired girl slumped in his arms, out for a few minutes.
Ranma didn't have to hug her to get at the points, but he didn't want everybody seeing what he was doing, so he had done that to cover up the movements of his hands. From the looks of the peoples faces he had succeeded, though he wasn't entirely sure that it had the desired effect. He was going for just a quick and decisive victory, something that wouldn't be too painful, but would show very clearly that Akane had a lot of work to do before she could claim to be a true martial artist again. The hug might not have been in his best interests, as it was leading to a lot of whispering among the students that had seen the maneuver. Ranma just knew he was going to have to get some of his inheritance to Nabiki in order for her to keep anything bad from spreading.
The pig tailed martial artist picked up his fallen opponent and sped over to the side of the school yard, depositing the sleeping girl in front of Nabiki, whose serious expression cowed all before her from getting to close to "sleeping beauty". Ranma turned and regarded Kuno, who was starting to look rather livid at having witnessed somebody else hugging his obsession. Ranma wasn't worried, but he did want to get to class in time so he could tell Kasumi that he had taken care of everything and still fulfilled his scholastic responsibilities, something that would get him a reward. He hoped it was some cookies. He loved her cookies (well, he loved everything that she made, he was a Saotome and she a world class cook), and she sure liked making them for him whenever he did something that she was pleased with. The more interesting rewards would have to wait until they were married again.
Kuno stood ramrod straight, righteous fury etched on his face. "How dare you handle Akane in such a manner, you commoner! I shall not allow such a travesty to continue! What is thy name, foul cur?"
Ranma answered. "I'm Ran..." He was cut off by further ranting from Kuno.
"But wait! Is it not common..." Ranma was suddenly standing inches from Tatewaki's face, startling him, a scowl present on his features as he glared at the taller boy.
"It's rude to interrupt somebody, you know."
"I have no need to listen to your...OOOF!"
Ranma removed his fist from Kuno's stomach. "Wanna let me finish now?" The barest hint of a nod from the still hunched over man was his response. "Good. Now, as I was saying, I'm Ranma Saotome. I'm the heir to the Anything Goes Martial Arts school, and staying at the Tendo dojo for now. Now, I challenge you for your irresponsibility and complete lack of respect towards women."
At those words Kuno was finally able to straighten, even managed a rather put upon expression. "What speak is this? Irresponsibility and disrespectfulness of the fairer sex? I have done no such thing!"
"So what's with these pointless morning fights that are degrading Akane's skill? What's with holding back in your fights with her, despite the fact that you said only those who can beat her are to date with her? Are you simply trying to degrade her skills to such a point that your own are good enough to defeat her without harming her too much, being that she's a woman?"
"I do no such thing!" Tatewaki moved into his stance, his eyes glinting dangerously at what was being said of him.
"You deny it, yet the evidence is scattered all around you." Everyone's gaze swept the school yard, seeing many of the boys still laying on the ground, in various stages of pain. "You claim to fight her, yet you hold back whenever you do so. How is she ever to become better, or how are you ever to defeat her using such tactics, unless you were doing exactly what I said earlier and making her set herself up for a fall?" Ranma's logic was obviously starting to effect Kuno's flowered view of the world around him, so he did the only thing he could do to get things back to where he wanted them. He fit everything he knew that was really going on into his flowered view, then ran with it.
"Ha! I see now, it all becomes clear." Ranma looked slightly surprised at this. "You are here to try and strike me down, to remove my gloried self from the position as the schools best fighter, as the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High!" Kuno struck a heroic pose and a bolt of lighting flashed behind him, thunder rolling in a moment later. He jabbed his bokken at Ranma. "Not only that, but you plan to defile the fair maiden Akane, to warp her mind to your twisted ways. You were the one that planned on forcing yourself on her, ignoring her cries for help as you..."
"THAT'S ENOUGH!" Ranma shouted in Kuno's face. The principal's son's hair was sticking straight out behind his head, a few strands toinged out. "I don't want to hear any more of you twisting the truth into lies that will suit your own purposes. You need to be brought down, instead of bringing everybody else down to your level. Prepare yourself, Kuno, you've met your match today."
Nabiki was over in her corner smiling, despite the fact that her sister lay unconscious at her feet. She had made so much money this day that she didn't even think she would charge Ranma for looking over her little sister, since that was something that she would have done anyway. She did hear several of those around her talking about how quickly Ranma had pegged Kuno's attitude, and wondering if he had some sort of special ability that let him see people's personalities. Nabiki shook her head, since she knew the truth, and it was stranger than what those around her were dreaming up in flights of fantasy.
Ranma set himself and launched a few basic punches at Kuno's face and chest, making sure that everything was as he remembered. Kuno easily deflected the blows, despite the fact the younger Saotome was moving far faster than Akane ever had. Nabiki's eyes widened slightly. Tatewaki had been training since she had last seen him go all out.
Ranma leapt back, covering an impossible amount of distance for how little his legs had moved. An infuriating smirk was on his lips, one he knew that Kuno hated, since everything was going just the way that Ranma had hoped. He leapt forward again, kicking high and low rapidly, just slow enough for Kuno to still block them, wanting to have a little fun before the rain came. Even if he didn't change, he didn't want to get wet.
Nabiki looked down at Akane when she heard the girl make a few noises.
"Wha, what's going on?" Akane asked, rubbing her eyes and sitting up.
"Not much, Akane," Nabiki said, savoring the moment for all it was worth. Sure, it was mean, but Nabiki had never gotten over what had happened to herself when she was younger. "Just that you were easily defeated by a boy today."
Akane bolted to her feat, livid. "That's not possible! I'm the best martial artist in Nerima, there's no way that Kuno could have beaten me!"
Nabiki managed to suppress her chuckle. "See Kuno fighting over there? Who do you see winning?"
Akane looked and stared for several seconds as Kuno used all his prowess in his attempt to vanquish the foul dog Saotome from Furinkan's grounds. She could barely see what was happening between the two of them they moved so fast. Ranma's legs were blurred, Kuno's bokken doing the same. Where they met and were deflected a loud crack was heard, but it was obvious that Kuno was on the loosing end, since he couldn't manage to get out of his defensive position and it didn't even look like the new guy was trying.
Kuno finally jumped back, away from Ranma's quick feet. "So, you think to match skills with the awesome might of Tatewaki Kuno, age 17, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High? I shall show you the folly of your ways, cur!"
Ranma smiled. This was going to be fun.
"Strike, strike, strikeStrikeStrikeStrikeStrikeStrike!" Kuno's words blended together as his weapon disappeared from sight, only the tip visible when it stopped that fraction of a second at the end of a thrust. Akane's eyes bugged, since she had never seen that move before, and knew that she would have been taken down if he had tried it on her. There would have been no way for her to be able to block all those attacks like Ranma was doing.
Somehow, despite the fact that Kuno was striking Ranma with a wooden sword and Ranma was blocking with leather braces on his wrists, sparks flew each time they struck. The sight was impressive, as the two combatants were showered in bright yellow motes of light, shattering and spreading as they bounced off of the ground and the fighters.
Nabiki herself was rather impressed. She had no idea that Ranma was this good, despite what she should have figured if Kasumi was as good as she had demonstrated last night in her room. The Mercenary girl glanced up at the sky and noticed the quickly approaching gray clouds, promising rain. She wondered how much longer Ranma would keep this up, or if he just get soaked and not worry about it. He did seem to be rather enjoying himself.
Ranma also noticed the sky, as his internal humidity gauge was going crazy. He only had a few minutes more. The next strike from Kuno, who was obviously getting a little tired from how long he had been maintaining his attack, Ranma grabbed the tip of the bokken in his left hand, let it swish past him and pivoted so he was facing the blade at 90 degrees, then brought his right arm up and shattered the hard wood close to the grip.
This threw Kuno off completely and he stumbled forward, the missing weight and the force form the break throwing off his delicate balance during the move. Ranma, waiting until Kuno had completely opened himself and lowered his arms to help regain control of his momentum, suddenly sidestepped towards the "older" boy, drawing his right arm across his chest. Once in range the pigtailed martial artist unwound, slamming his elbow into Kuno with enough force to send him hurtling backwards 15 feet to land with no air in his lungs and no real idea of what had happened to him.
Most of the move hadn't been visible to the audience, but Nabiki and Akane had seen it, and they were both impressed. While unbelievably fast, he also had considerable power. Ranma waited another few moments for Kuno to start breathing again and raise his head, making sure he had everyone's attention.
"All right now listen up. As per the rules that Kuno physically enforced, I now own Akane," Ranma stated, purposefully not looking anywhere near the Tendo's. Nabiki stepped away from Akane as the younger girl's aura burst into existence around her, the angry red glow all anyone needed to see to find out what she thought about that declaration.
"So, now that she's mine, I am going to train her. I will be her sensei until such time as I think she's ready to fight on her own." At this point he did turn to face Akane, his ice blue eyes boring into her brown ones, daring her to take him on again and make him eat his words.
Nabiki had let her cold mask fall back into place, as actually seeing Akane's response to what had happened to her wasn't actually as funny as she thought it would be. Maybe later, but right now she had to make sure her little sister didn't kill anyone.
"Hey Akane, calm down before you melt the pavement," Nabiki said quietly, hoping that nothing bad would happen to her for talking when her temperamental little sister was so mad.
"Why didn't you do anything about this, Nabiki? I'm sure you must have known something since he walked to school with you." Though her voice sounded calm, Nabiki could hear the rage boiling inside her. Not good.
"Maou? What makes you think I had anything to do..."
"Don't give me that, SISTER, I know you had something to do with it. You always do." The distrust was starting to show.
Nabiki scowled at that, her own anger rising despite how dangerous Akane was at that moment. "I do what I have to for our meals and house Akane, since you're too inept to do anything to help. Don't get so all high and mighty with me after what you did to me."
Akane actually seemed to be a little sorrowful after that. "Look, how many times do I have to say I'm sorry about that? Geez."
Nabiki's rage was going full blast now. "Yeah, and that's all you'll ever be able to do Akane, say you're sorry. You don't have to live with it like I do." The girl had descended into a growl by the end of her sentence, but it had the opposite effect of what she had wanted.
Sensing a physical challenge from someone she knew wouldn't be able to beat her Akane took the opportunity to gloat. "I'm not the one that got herself into that situation in the first place, so don't try and shove all the blame onto me. Even if you had kept training this entire time I still would be better than you, and you know it."
Ranma stood stunned, not having known about this in his time line. He wasn't sure if this was an almost identical alternate universe he had gone to or actually back in time, but nothing of this had ever gotten out into the open when he had been at the Tendo dojo the first time. He might have to do something to break it up, and they were going to have to sit down with Kasumi and figure out if anything could be done about whatever problem Nabiki had.
Before things could get out of hand between the sisters Ranma drew attention to himself once more. "Akane, as your sensei, I expect you to control your emotions. Your anger especially. You must be calm and in control at all times to be a martial artist."
His words had the desired effect and Nabiki bottled herself up again, her face turning to stone. Akane simply redirected. "Who said I'm going to listen to you? You're a STUDENT of Anything Goes just like me, I don't have to listen to you!"
Ranma cocked his head to the side in consideration, then after a moment leaned forward a bit and disappeared.
Akane shrieked when a fist suddenly appeared a centimeter away from her nose. Her head was buffeted by the incredibly strong breeze that was generated by the punch, messing up her long hair. She stumbled backwards a step and raised her arms to a defensive position, not wanting to believe that she had completely missed Ranma's entire attack.
"Just because I'm not certified to teach doesn't mean I'm not good enough. I simply haven't taken the test yet, because I don't want to be tied down to the dojo," Ranma stated quietly to the two girls. He knew Nabiki would want to know this too, so he had spoken loud enough for them both to be able to hear him.
"Yeah, well, I still say you're not going to be my master! Just 'cause you beat up Kuno doesn't prove anything." Akane sounded like she was trying anything she could think of so she wouldn't have to learn from some boy the same age as her.
Ranma shook his head. "While that may be true, you didn't deny it when I made that declaration. You also didn't deny Kuno when he declared you must have the morning fights. I'm sure you could have had them stopped if you talked to the school enough, or if you simply hurt a few of them bad enough." Ranma had started pacing around in front of them while he talked, something that Nabiki found amusing, but was obviously pissing Akane off. Now he stopped and looked at her. "But you didn't. You went along with it since you didn't think that anybody would be able to defeat you, you didn't think you had anything to worry about, and you thought defeating a crowd of unskilled opponents would be fun."
Ranma's arm snapped out once more, stopping an inch from Akane's face even before she started to raise her arm to block. "You've become slow and predictable Akane, if you had any speed to begin with after your Dad stopped training with you."
"Will you stop doing that! All you're showing is that you can move really fast! There's more to martial arts than pure speed you know," Akane shouted at him, trying to get back into a dominant position.
Kuno had managed to recover by this time and started to stumble over to where he viewed that cursed fool Ranma attempting to steal his Akane away from him. "Nave, what are thou doing? Unhand the beauteous Akane Tendo from your vile grasp. Only I am worthy of her charms, of her spirit!" Though obviously still having trouble breathing the kendoist managed to walk regally over to where Ranma and the Tendo sister's were talking.
All three of them turned to look at the beaten boy for a moment before dismissing him and returning to their discussion. "That's very true Akane, which is why I'm also a lot stronger than you. If you want to be considered a serious martial artist you must take the art seriously, not train in it as a hobby like you do now."
Akane bit back a retort, as she could see Nabiki was waiting for her to deny that. The girl seemed to have it out for her today, but Akane wasn't sure why. While their argument right before Ranma had interrupted them was giving her a hint, it still didn't answer a lot of her questions. It had been a long time since Nabiki had remembered that incident, making her wonder what had happened to stir up the bad blood between them. Akane smirked a little as Nabiki looked disappointed that her little sister wasn't rising to the bait.
A bokken appeared between the three of them before any more words could be said. "Do not ignore me, accursed Saotome and sister's Tendo, for I am not one to be trifled with."
Ranma turned toward him and glared rusty daggers. "Butt out Kuno, we're having a private discussion here. You lost, so this doesn't concern you."
Akane, for once, agreed with the pigtailed martial artist. "You heard him Kuno, now leave us alone."
Nabiki and Ranma both glanced upwards at the much darker clouds with a bit of apprehension. Neither wanted soaked clothes, but it looked like that's what they would get unless they sped things along.
"Look, school's about to start," Ranma said, thinking of an excuse to get inside the building. "Unless you plan to admit that martial arts is only your hobby, I expect you to report to me every morning from now on for some serious training." Before the girl could respond he whirled around and walked towards the entrance.
Kuno stood tall, hoping no one would notice the wince of pain as he made his body move in ways it didn't want to just yet. "I see Saotome now runs from me in abject fear, as befitting one as low born as him. Now, Akane, I shall date with thee, for I have just defeated that fiend Saotome!" Kuno attempted a glomp, but his injured status slowed him down enough that Akane saw it coming in time to boot him into LEO (low earth orbit).
Akane turned around to enter the school also when she was suddenly grasped from behind. "Do not worry my dearest Akane, you're gentle love taps are cherished by one such as myself."
Nabiki chuckled to herself at the shade of purple Akane had turned when she realized who had grabbed her in a hug. The younger Tendo reached down and yanked on Kuno's arms, trying to get herself out of his grasp so she could pound him. She boggled a moment as he resisted all her attempts to free herself. This had never happened before, what was going on?
Nabiki decided to finally step in and removed Kuno's money clip from his pants. She made sure she stood where Tatewaki could see her and removed a large sum of money contained within. "This is for your appointment at the hospital I'm going to have to drag you to."
Kuno looked puzzled. "I have no recollection of needing my personage examined."
"You will soon."
A loud crack was heard as soon as the words had left Nabiki's mouth. Kuno looked puzzled for a few moments more before his eyes rolled up into his head and he dropped flat onto his back, making an impressive sounding thud upon impact. Akane looked at him in shock, wondering what had happened to her tormentor.
Unable to see anything wrong with him from the front Akane reached down and turned him over, gasping in surprise at what she saw there. Imbedded in the back of Kuno's skull was a small spatula, the blade much thicker than normal, which allowed it to impact, instead of slice. Akane picked it up and examined it more closely, wondering where it had come from. Kuno had been facing the school, there was no way Ranma could have thrown that and have it hit the back of the kendoist's head. Both Tendo sisters looked up at the school building anyway to see Ranma leaning out of his window. He waved down at them, smiling happily.
"Hey Akane! You better get up here, the late bell's about to ring!"
Akane gasped and dashed off, still holding the surprisingly heavy little spatula in her hand.
Nabiki kneeled down next to the unconscious boy and shook her head, amazed that Ranma could be that accurate with a spatula and curve it around behind Kuno like that. She had to admit, he was very good at fighting, though Kasumi's all encompassing love for the boy amazed her, even though the older girl obviously knew all he could do was fight. Nabiki thought for sure that Kasumi would be looking for other talents in a man besides the ability to throw a punch. How little the middle daughter knew of Ranma, even though she was the most knowledgable person, besides Kasumi, of Ranma. And that included Genma, as Ranma had progressed rapidly after he had left his father behind in the art, so much of the older man's tactics and methods to get at his son wouldn't work anymore.
With a sigh Kasumi's little sister grabbed Kuno by the back of his shirt and dragged him over the rough pavement towards the nurse's office, grateful that she had a legitimate excuse to stay out of class when the Shooting Star... er, Blue Thunder was injured. It sure beat sitting in class listening to things she already knew.
She glanced back at the unconscious face. "You've been putting on some weight, Kuno. I think I'm going to have to charge you extra."
Kuno somehow looked indignant, though Nabiki was sure he was still out of it. She shook it off and continued tugging him along.
Ranma smiled as the lunch bell rang. He was soooo hungry. Now, to find his food bearing girlfriend...
But first, he had to retrieve something. He walked over to where a large group of girls were surrounding somebody. "Hey Akane!" He called to the center of the cluster.
"What?" He heard from somewhere in the mass of females.
"Can I have my spatula back? It's rather important to me."
"Maybe I should just keep it, that'll teach you to try and control me."
"I wouldn't recommend that, Akane."
"Why, what are you going to do about it? Cry like a little GIRL?"
Ranma gritted his teeth. He assumed Akane was going through PMS or something, since she usually wasn't this bad. Well, he had never tried this before, but he hadn't thought she would be this bad. What had Kasumi managed to whether between her two younger sisters, especially that incident they mentioned in front of the school? Ranma found himself admiring the oldest Tendo daughter the more he found out about her. To hold herself together so well after dealing with sisters like Akane and Nabiki was amazing, not to mention how she managed to sorta keep her cry baby father under control.
"No, Akane, I'm going to take it back. This shall be your first test. See how long you can keep it from me." The crowd parted before Ranma, as if they sensed the seriousness of the situation and didn't want to get caught in the middle. A wise precaution, too bad many didn't have the sense of those students.
Akane was revealed, still seated at her desk, bento held in her hand along with the spatula. She looked at him and showed no signs of fear, showed no sign of getting in over her head and Ranma marveled. Did that girl have such a selective memory that she would block out what had happened not hours before now that she was surrounded by her friends.
Ranma shook his head before he snapped his arm out.
Akane jerked her hands to the side, thinking that she had succeeded and avoided his first attack. A moment later and she blinked in shock, as her hands were now completely empty, of spatula and bento. She looked over at Ranma to see him holding the bento under his nose and inhaling deeply. He seemed rather distracted as his eyes got little hearts in them.
"I miss my beloved already," He sighed to himself, making the girls still standing around wonder who this person was. They all knew that Kasumi was the one that made Akane's lunch, but they didn't think that Kasumi herself was who Ranma was referring too. They just thought the smell reminded him of his girlfriend. After all, Kasumi had already graduated and Ranma's a freshman like Akane.
Akane decided to take this opportunity to retrieve what had been taken from her. She stood as quietly as she could, happy when Ranma didn't seem to notice her as she got into position to spring. Right when she leapt at him he turned to the side and took a step forward. His foot hit Akane's ankle and tilted her forward since her feet had been off the ground. She shot past Ranma, her arms having given up their first mission and trying to fulfill a secondary objective to find the girl some balance. They didn't help, though, and Akane crashed face first into the hard floor, the loud thud causing all those still in the class room to turn and see what had made the noise.
Akane lay there for several moments, a blush burning across her cheeks the likes of which she couldn't remember since she had tried to climb that one tree and gotten snagged on branch, hanging helpless by her skirt, which was being pulled up to her head. She just had to wear her Hello Kitty panties that day, too. That had happened only two years ago, and Nabiki still kept photos of that event strategically placed around the house in case of emergency.
The thud also seemed to get Ranma out of his love induced trance. "Since you utterly failed your first challenge, here's your second. You won't get to eat until you can get your bento from me," He stated, eyes flicking outside the window briefly to check for his own food.
Akane slowly stood, doing her best to ignore all those around her laughing, while Yuka and Sayura asked if she was all right, and leapt for her tormentor again. Ranma danced out of the way, making it obvious that she was moving too slowly, but refraining from degrading her with his tongue, using peer pressure and the desire to overcome challenges as the motivation to get Akane to improve.
"C'mon Akane, my food should be getting here pretty soon, hurry it up." Though said cheerfully as if talking with a good friend, Ranma's words didn't seem to affect Akane.
Another easily dodged lunge positioned Ranma next to a window. He reached down and slid it open, waving the bento around in front of him. The spatula he had put into storage while no one was looking. A brief glance over his shoulder to make sure that there were no pools and he jumped backwards. Akane boggled a bit at this until she remembered what he had done that morning. Realizing she would be lucky to survive a fall like that Akane turned and sprinted for the door, wanting her lunch and hoping that he wouldn't get too far away before she got to the front yard.
Akane dashed out in front of the school, her head whipping back and forth as she searched for the food ransomer. At first glance he seemed to have disappeared, but despite how little she knew of him she was confident that he hadn't run away, and was just waiting for her to find him. The long haired girl spun and ran towards the trees, thinking he might have hidden himself up in the branches to make her feel like an idiot for searching the entire school when all she had to do was look up.
Sure enough she spotted Ranma almost immediately, but what she saw him doing made her freeze in her tracks. The pigtailed martial artist was sitting on a rather large branch that was only about ten feet off the ground, and he was holding her bento out with his right hand, as if mocking her, saying that he didn't have to move it since she couldn't jump that high anyway. What really got Akane going was that he was right, she had never tried to jump that high before. Onto a six foot fence, yes, but she wasn't at all sure if she could do another four feet. Straight up that looked a lot farther than it sounded.
Seated, apparently happily, in Ranma's lap was Kasumi. Ranma's other arm was wrapped around her waist, his hand on her upper thigh helping her to stay in place. She wasn't wearing her usual house dress either. Now she was wearing what was obviously some of Ranma's clothes, for the black pants looked a tad short on her, and the red shirt, identical to what Ranma wore that day, was a little tight around her chest like it had been when Ranma was female, but for the most part the garment fit the older girl much better, for she was far taller than Ranma when he became one of the fairer sex.
This all filtered through the back of Akane's mind, since she was mainly focused on what they were doing up there. Ranma was obviously not paying any attention to the bento he was supposed to be keeping from her, for he was too busy staring at Kasumi's face and eyes while she fed him from a bento she carried in her lap. Her right arm was looped around his neck, letting the girl hold herself close to her love, while her left kept a steady stream of rice and other goodness from her freshly made Ranma sized lunch heading towards his mouth. He seemed to be ignoring her attempts to feed him and just staring at her, but every time the chopsticks came close to his lips he would open wide and gulp down her offering.
Despite how many times they had done this Kasumi was starting to blush under his close scrutiny. The way he stared at her was so intense, and the way his hand was slowly massaging her leg was making her a little excited. Whenever it became too much for her she would just lean in against him, resting her head on his shoulder while he rested his head atop hers, as she was too close for him to be able to look at her. This allowed the older girl time to get her blush under control before she straightened up again so the cycle could repeat.
This time, however, Ranma turned his head and inhaled deeply when his nose was pressed against his beloved's silky brown hair. He inhaled again before leaning down and whispering in Kasumi's ear. It made her blush even more, and it made Akane wonder what he had said to her to get that kind of reaction from her calm and never embarrassed older sister. Probably something really perverted, but Akane had trouble really believing that since Kasumi was still sitting in his lap and feeding the boy.
Akane looked around her for a moment, wondering if something would present itself so she could get her lunch.
"I shall scout around until Akane Tendo's daily sustenance has been found once more! A tragedy that the foul Saotome would stoop to such levels as lunch theft. Ah, but 'tis to be expected from such a low born cur as him."
Akane had a distinctly evil glint in her eyes as she stalked over to where she had heard Kuno's voice. Ranma and Kasumi were still completely occupied with each other and missed everything.
Kuno turned in his gallant search to behold Akane's fierce countenance. "Such beauty, such grace. Surely one such as yourself is destined to be with my perfect self," Kuno declared, the logic in his statement obvious to himself.
Akane managed to suppress her reflex action to clobber the moron. "Look, I think I need some help over here, so just follow me, okay?"
It had taken everything Akane had to say that civilly, but she was rather proud of her acting at that moment. Kuno's entire being seemed to be suddenly infused with energy and Akane didn't even have time to react before she found herself surrounded by the Blue Thunder's arms. Steam shot out of the girl's ears in rage, but Kuno managed to ignore it.
"Surely this is a front for a much more personal request, for one such as Akane would never be able to beg for my services in such a public place as the school grounds! Oh, and for what she might beg me for!" Kuno lost it after that and went into a fantasy that involved no clothes and lots of dairy products.
Akane was having a tough time in his arms, since he had forgotten he was holding somebody when he went into the fantasy about the girl he was holding. Said girl was having serious trouble breathing, and found it hard to believe the older boy could be so strong. After Akane had turned blue a stone flew out from a bush and hit Kuno on the side of the head.
"You're choking her, Master Kuno." A voice whispered loudly from the bush. Sasuke shook his head at his master's mistake. That had been pretty high on the little ninja's "dumb things to do list".
Kuno jerked and somehow managed to toss Akane several feet in front of him. She landed on her feet but looked like she might throw up at any moment. The kendoist became concerned upon seeing that.
"Are you well, fair maiden?" He inquired.
"I will be if you just follow me, Kuno." She coughed a few times before collecting herself.
Not giving him a chance to respond Akane spun on her heel and stalked back into the wooded area. Kuno followed eagerly, almost running in his haste to catch up with his obsession. Akane stopped and the young man stood beside her, glancing around in an attempt to figure out what she had needed assistance with. He looked at Akane, hoping for a clue.
Akane pointed upwards. Kuno looked. He blinked in mild shock when he saw Ranma holding a bento with a girl in his lap. Akane used the distraction to punt Kuno into the air, right for Ranma's arm. Like she had hoped Ranma's hand moved automatically and punched Kuno out of the air, since there would have been a chance he would have disturbed Kasumi he was so close. To do this he dropped the bento, which Akane dived for as soon as she saw Ranma's fingers open.
Unfortunately Ranma had brought his fist up and smashed Kuno downwards toward the ground, sending him hurtling to catch up with the lunch that had been dropped. Kuno landed heavily on his butt, taking several moments to shake his head and realign his tiny brain in the right direction, untwisting the kink in his spinal cord. When he glanced to his right he was startled to see a pair of arms sticking out from beneath his backside, clutching a delicious smelling bento.
He smiled and proclaimed, "A gift from the God's for helping the fair Akane with her troubles. Where hath the girl gone, anyway?" A muffled scream was heard, but Kuno failed to make a connection.
Another, louder one also didn't garner a reaction from the slow witted kendoist. Slowly, painfully, the arms bent downward from where they had been holding the food and pressed flat against the ground. Kuno looked mildly perturbed as something was wiggling against his rear, a sensation he wasn't at all familiar, or comfortable, with.
The loudest cry yet finally caught Kuno's attention. "What's this?" He reached down and grabbed one of the hands, twisting it painfully this way and that as he examined the appendage in fine detail.
"If I didn't know better, I would say this is the delicate and graceful, yet powerful and feminine hand of Akane Tendo." Kuno pondered on this for a few moments more, trying to figure out if there was something that he should infer from that statement, or from the fact that a pair of arms was sticking out from under his butt.
Before his mind could grind through everything there was a surge beneath him and the ground erupted in a shower of dirt and Kuno.
"AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARRRGH!!!!!!!!!!!" Was heard over the entire school. The students looked up in surprise, and were rewarded with the sight of Kuno flying through the skies, holding a heroic pose with his bokken out before him while his other hand rubbed his backside in a soothing manner.
The scream managed to get Ranma and Kasumi out of their trance. The two looked down at the dirty and angry Akane in surprise. Ranma had thought she would try and climb the tree, not send Kuno hurtling towards them so he would drop her lunch. He smiled to himself at her style, maybe there was hope for the girl yet. Just so long as she started to take things seriously.
Akane stood and huffed for a minute, letting her anger seep from her system, helped along by the boot she had given Kuno. Finally she turned to her surroundings in hopes of finding her lunch once more. She glanced all around her, shoved some large clumps of dirt out of the way thinking it might have been buried, and screamed again when she couldn't find it.
Opening her eyes after that expression of her feelings Akane saw Ranma once again holding her food on the branch. Tears welled up in the girl's eyes as she stared at the perfectly clean looking, small wrapped box of delicious foodstuffs. She dropped to her knees, eyes still locked upon her hearts desire. She had been so close! That should have worked, how could it have failed?
Ranma shared a glance with his beloved, and they nodded in agreement. "Hey Akane!" Ranma called out to her.
"What?" The girl mumbled miserably.
"Since you should have had that when you first punted Kuno up here, AND you managed to save it from getting crushed or falling into his hands when you were both on the ground, I'm going to give it to you today. Just don't expect me to be this lenient all the time." Kasumi was trying to keep from laughing herself right out of the tree. That had been one of the funniest things she had seen! She was glad she had decided to bring Ranma his lunch, and really glad she had worn some of his clothes so she could sit in a tree with him. After she left the school Kasumi decided she would get herself some proper pants and shirts for when she practiced with her soon to be husband.
Akane beamed at them, somehow looking a lot less dirty than she had a moment ago. "Really? You mean it?"
Ranma nodded and tossed her food down. Akane caught it eagerly, her chopsticks somehow appearing in her hand. "Thank you!" She shouted before ripping into her food.
Ranma and Kasumi raised their eyebrows at this. She was going at it much like Ranma himself had when he showed up the first time. Ranma looked at Kasumi, wondering if he should sick his father after the girl. Kasumi took one look at her beloved and shook her head. Ranma sighed but nodded, knowing that Genma's way of doing things would just get the girl depressed and probably make her give up martial arts completely. They didn't want that, they wanted her spirit intact, but she had to determine what she was planning to do with her training. There were only so many times she could get lucky before an opponent showed up that wouldn't be kind or forgiving, and Ranma didn't plan on staying at the dojo very much once he got married..
He and Kasumi had had to cut one honeymoon short, but there was nothing stopping them from going on a bunch of training trips/honeymoons while Ranma went through school, hopefully faster than the first time. The two of them quietly talked to one another of how and when they could arrange a short little trip out into the woods somewhere for some private time to get reacquainted. They had made temporary plans for the weekend after their remarriage when they heard Akane sigh in contentment.
"Man that was good. Kasumi, you really outdid yourself today. I think that was even better than what you usually make," The girl enthused.
Kasumi nodded, having figured that she had improved a bit over the years. Ranma gave her another squeeze, and the tall girl returned it, lovingly kissing him on the lips. Akane looked on at this, seeing the way Kasumi seemed to glow with happiness as she shared herself with Ranma. Akane couldn't deny it, her oldest sister had it bad for the pigtailed martial artist. Akane still wasn't convinced that it was right, but Kasumi and Ranma sure seemed convincing.
The two finally separated from the kiss and embrace. Kasumi slid from Ranma's lap and plummeted towards the ground, making Akane gasp. The long brown haired girl did a front flip before gently landing on her feet, standing straight and steeping to the side. Ranma landed just as gently right next to her, their hands automatically reaching out to twine their fingers together.
"Thank you for the compliment, Akane," Kasumi said.
Akane nodded and said, "We need to get back inside pretty soon Ranma."
"I know, I just want to spend as much time as possible with my Kasumi-chan." A slight tug on her hand and the young woman stepped to his side, letting go of his hand to wrap that arm around his waist. Ranma smiled and put an arm around her shoulders, his fingers slowly dancing along her upper arm.
Akane shook her head at the display, but refrained from saying anything due to the beaming smile Kasumi was directing at her beloved. Ranma was returning it, and Akane had to admit to herself that Kasumi sure had gotten herself a cute one. The youngest Tendo thought back to a certain doctor and wondered what his response would be. Then she started to wonder if she might be able to help him through his troubles, give him a shoulder to cry on as he had done for her. Then maybe that would lead on to other things...
Akane smacked herself for having naughty thoughts, unwilling to believe that she was turning into a pervert. Ranma and Kasumi, who had been walking by her towards the school stopped and looked at her.
"You all right, Akane-chan?" Kasumi asked.
"Oh, I'm fine. Nothing wrong with me at all, no reason for me to visit Dr. Tofu whatsoever." Akane realized she was babbling and promptly clacked her mouth shut.
Ranma and Kasumi exchanged a glance, wondering what they would do about Tofu. They hadn't really had to deal with the crazed doctor since he had left Nerima before the two of them had really developed a relationship. They met up once more later on, but Ranma pushed those memories from his mind. Hopefully, Tofu wouldn't do the same thing again this time.
"Well, whatever. I'll see you in class Akane," Ranma said as he and his girlfriend once again turned and headed towards the school entrance. Akane saw them move their heads together and start conversing again, but she had no idea what it might be about since they spoke in such low tones. Akane made a mental note to ask Kasumi when she had been training to be able to fall from trees like she had just done, since the younger girl was fairly certain that she hadn't seen Kasumi using the dojo for some time. Finished, she slowly walked after the couple, feeling a little jealous watching them bask in their love.
Ranma walked home from school whistling happily. Nabiki and Akane followed below him on the sidewalk, both of them staring up at him in awe. While it was just whistling, the melody he played was one of the most beautiful things they had ever heard. Neither of them could recognize it either.
"Hey, Ranma?" Nabiki asked.
A pause in the music. "Hmm?" He glanced down at the two girls, wishing Kasumi was walking home with him. She had said she was going to get some new clothes for herself and wouldn't be able to.
"What's that you're whistling?"
"Something I made up about Kasumi."
The two girls froze and stared up at him. Ranma walked a bit before realizing he had lost his companions. He turned around and walked back to them, wondering at their wide eyed stare.
"What?" Ranma asked in bewilderment.
"You... made that up?" Nabiki stuttered out.
The beloved of Kasumi nodded.
"How long have you been working on that?" Akane wanted to know.
"I was just making it up while I walked along," Ranma clarified. "I can't usually do the one's I've written down by just whistling, I have to get my instruments out."
"What do you play?" Both girls asked at the same time.
"Violin mainly, with some percussion and a few other stringed instruments I'm passable at," He informed them.
Nabiki's eyebrows shot up her forehead, impressed.
"Showoff," Akane grumbled.
"Think you could give us a little concert?" Nabiki wanted to know.
"Yeah, as soon as I get my stuff out of storage I'll serenade the Tendo sisters." A roughish grin appeared on his face.
Nabiki blushed a bit, while Akane turned crimson. They both laughed, trying to get rid of the coloring on their cheeks. Before they could say anything in response Ranma turned his head forwards, toward the Tendo home.
"I'm just kidding Kasumi!" He shouted.
Akane and Nabiki looked at him as if he had suddenly turned neon orange but refrained from comment. The three continued on their way home, the two sisters once more listening to Ranma's incredible whistling.
Ranma walked in the front door of the Tendo home. "I'm home!" He called out for everyone interested.
When no tall and beautiful brunettes came out to greet him he pouted. Akane and Nabiki saw his expression and giggled behind their hands. He turned to look at them slightly annoyed for a moment before he straightened his face and headed towards the kitchen.
"Yes, well, I think I'll just go and make myself a snack," He stated and walked away from the girls.
Akane turned a still smiling face towards her older sister. "Man, he sure looked cute with that little pout there." A moment's recollection caused the long haired girl to quantify her statement. "When he's not being a world class jerk, anyway."
Nabiki nodded in agreement. "I'll agree with you there. Just don't tell him I said that."
Akane giggled again. "If you don't watch yourself I just might."
"No, you can't! Kasumi would kill me if she thought I was after her man!"
"Ha, like she'd have to worry about you for competition," Akane scoffed.
Nabiki scowled. "Like your so perfect, Akane the tomboy."
Akane scowled back. "Well, at least I realize when I need help and do something about it, unlike you."
Nabiki stared at the girl in wide eyed disbelief. "Since WHEN have you ever done that?!"
"Hmmf!" Akane crossed her arms under her chest and turned her nose up at Nabiki. "Who's still a martial artist in this family, answer me that."
"You're not a martial artist! You just do it to keep in shape! Glorified aerobics little sister," Nabiki retorted. "Hell, you haven't been serious about the Art since Kasumi stopped beating you up. If you'll recall, I was still INJURED somehow at the time."
"Yeah, and you wouldn't have been injured if you'd had any common sense back then." The two girls were now facing each other with equal expressions bordering on hatred.
"If you'd had any RESTRAINT I would've been fine! You still don't have any restraint!" She pointed to a hole in a wall visible from where they still stood in the entryway that was rather shoddily patched up. "Kuno walked into the house and started talking to you. What do you do? Talk back and try to get him to leave peacefully? No! You take one look at him and punt him through the wall! If you had waited just a minute more to actually listen to the delusional fool you would have found out that that had been his one time for honorably coming after you for a date!"
Akane looked a little shocked at this. "And why didn't you ever tell me that tidbit of information before?"
Nabiki looked rather nonplused at having revealed said information. "Because it wasn't important at the time. You wouldn't have listened and nobody in the family including yourself wanted, or wants, anything to do with the Kuno's."
"You always have thought you know more than anybody else. That you're the only one smart enough to make the important decisions." Akane looked like steam should have been shooting from her ears. Nabiki was rather startled when some did, but then realized it was Ranma making some tea behind her younger sister. "I've got news for you. You're not the only one with a brain you know."
Nabiki snorted in a rather unlady like manner. "True. I'm just the only one to actually use it."
Akane spluttered in outrage, but before she could wind up to smack her sister around again a presence spread over them. It was unlike anything the two sisters had felt before. It was as if a God was looking down on them, was judging them and was completely disappointed in what it saw. The two girls slowly turned their heads back to the door they had walked through a while ago and stared in shock at Kasumi. Ranma's beloved was standing in the middle of a swirling mass of white light, looking as if she were about to unleash divine retribution on those poor souls before her (Akane and Nabiki).
"H-hi Kasumi." Akane squeaked out.
Nabiki nodded and waved, speech having failed her. The sight before her caused flashbacks to when she would square off against the older girl in the family dojo and get punted around the room with the greatest of ease, no matter what Nabiki had just learned. That same kind of overwhelming presence was again visible, but much more so than when they were younger.
"I will not hear such bickering anymore in my house." Kasumi's normally cheerful voice had become laced with cold iron and hard steel. "Akane, Nabiki, go to your rooms. I will be up later to deal with you."
Kasumi's little sister's nodded mutely and quickly departed for the safe haven of their respective bedrooms.
A minute after they disappeared from sight Kasumi relaxed and the powerful battle aura she had been giving off collapsed into her once more. She stood for a moment in silence before Ranma faded into view in front of her. Her gaze snapped to his and they stared at one another for several long minutes. Ranma opened his arms and Kasumi dashed forward, slamming into him and hugging him fiercely.
Ranma enfolded the girl in a tight, comforting embrace. He rocked her gently and provided support when she needed it. Ranma had no idea what the problem was between those two girls, as he had never heard about issues between the younger sisters his first time through. Now that he thought back on it Nabiki and Akane always did seem much colder towards each other than either were towards Kasumi. Maybe this wasn't such an alternate reality. Maybe it had never come up before, for whatever reason. Nabiki and Akane had just kept it buried and pretty much ignored the problem between them.
"Kasumi-chan, you all right now love?" Ranma inquired of his beloved in a soft voice, his warm breath gently washing over her skin.
The girl straightened a bit in his arms, molding herself to him instead of leaning on him. "I think I'm fine now. I won't complain if you want to comfort me for a while longer though."
Ranma smiled as he felt the girl's fingertips gently tracing patterns along his back and shoulders. "I'll comfort you until you can't stand it anymore."
"If that's the case I hope you don't get hungry for a lot longer than normal." She smiled beatifically up at her soon to be lover. "Only reason I'd stop is to use the little girl's room."
Ranma chuckled, creating pleasant rumbles in his chest as he did so. Kasumi loved listening to him speak with her ear pressed against him. She also loved it when he laid out flat on his back and she simply rested upon him, able to feel almost his entire being beneath her while using his chest for a wonderfully warm pillow. A little firm, but it sure was comforting.
Several minutes later Ranma sighed in disappointment. "I really hate to interrupt our comfort session but you need to go talk to those girls. Unless you already know what's going on between the two of them?"
Kasumi matched his sigh and pulled back, holding her beloved's hands tightly. "Yes, I suppose I should. I think I remember what they are talking about, so I'm pretty sure this is our original time line, or incredibly close to the original."
Ranma nodded in agreement. "Yeah, everything I've seen so far seems to point to that. By the way, what's in the bags?" Ranma was referring to the many small and large packages the girl was keeping in hammer space.
Kasumi beamed a smile. "I went and got myself some practice clothes, along with a few of the instruments that we learned to play."
"Did I get a bonus for picking a wedding date or something? I don't remember having this much money before we got married."
"No honey. You silly man, do you think you're the only one who remembers a few sports scores? I happen to follow several of the more serious tournaments regularly." The couple had slowly been pulling farther and farther apart as they spoke, not wanting to leave the others company.
"I just didn't think you'd go and do something like that so soon after we got here. You'd never been to such places before I started dragging you down there in the beginning." Ranma reminded her.
"I know dear. But nobody seemed to mind, and if they ask I'll just say that my wonderful new fiance convinced me to go." Kasumi gave her love's hand one more affectionate squeeze before returning her arms to her sides. The two looked at each other in disappointment for a moment before walking away, Kasumi up the stairs while Ranma headed towards the dojo where he would unload all the packages Kasumi had given him right before they had parted.
Ranma had pulled a violin out and was carefully examining it, surprised that his girlfriend had been able to find one so well made in such a short period of time. Then again, she might have been looking at it for some time before finally buying it when they had started dating. Deciding not to question where she had gotten the instruments from he sorted through them quickly, making sure that nothing was obviously damaged with them but otherwise trusting his beloved's judgment.
He pulled a cello out and slid the bow across the strings experimentally, wincing at the sour note produced. "Needs new strings," Ranma muttered to himself.
Once all the stringed instruments had been arranged to his satisfaction in the dojo's storage room Ranma turned his attention to a small drum set, leaving it in it's packaging and simply stacking the large cylinders in the corner. While he could play them, his Kasumi was much better at it. Next he turned towards his partner's wind instruments.
He smiled fondly at the beautifully crafted flute that she'd always had in the attic but had never gotten down before much harassing by Ranma. Since she had first played it the thing had never left her side, and Ranma anticipated that she would soon be reclaiming it. Things were made easier since neither of her sisters were at all interested in music, except as casual listeners.
Ranma kept the flute on him, storing it in hammer space so he would be able to present it to her the next time they were alone. The saxophone he placed in it's usual spot as first in the line of musical tools, with her trumpet beside that. He would have to see if she still knew how to play all of them at the same time with her ki. When she really got into it and let her heart out the sound's Kasumi would make were almost too much for Ranma. He sometimes stopped playing simply to listen to her, unable to believe that he would be able to match the incredible sweetness that flowed from her.
Of course, whenever he lost himself in the music he wondered why Kasumi stopped playing sometimes, for he missed having her notes mingling with his own when he really got going. Something to ponder another day, as he figured he might as well see if Kasumi was finished talking with her sister's. Cleaning and changing the strings on all the instruments had taken some time, along with rearranging the back room to the way it had been in the future to fit them all in there.
Now he was hungry and wanted to see what Kasumi had in mind for dinner.
Ranma found his girl sitting on the porch, staring out over the yard blankly while hugging herself.
"Here, let me do that for you," Ranma said as he sat beside her, wrapping his arms around her.
She released her self hug and absentmindedly looped her arms around Ranma's waist, lacing her fingers together on the opposite side of him.
Ranma left her in her world for several minutes before making a small querying noise.
Another minute passed before Kasumi spoke. Her words were so soft Ranma barely caught it. "I think we might want to train Nabiki more than Akane."
Ranma was shocked stiff. He had NO idea that the girl was into martial arts at all. "What?" Before Kasumi could repeat herself Ranma continued. "Never mind, I heard you. Why? What is going on here that I've missed?"
"There is bad blood between my little sisters, a problem that Father refuses to do anything about. He states that it's between his daughters and they have to work it out for themselves. He's simply afraid. Scared that he'll mess up again by intervening in his child's lives and thinking the problem will solve itself if he ignores it. The problem is his fault, again, even if nobody will ever point it out. It all comes down to his inability to be a Daddy, to be a strong head when the Tendo home needed it the most." Kasumi paused for a minute, as if contemplating if she should reveal more.
Ranma squeezed her, giving his silent support and encouragement, telling her that together the two of them would be able to solve anything. Ranma smiled at seeing Kasumi perk up a bit from feeling his squeeze. "Yes, we can handle this together, you and I. We can handle anything. This is simply the first step in making our second time around happy. This is our first good deed, the first thing that will keep this house from falling into the madness that once consumed it."
"So what are we going to be doing?" Ranma asked his beloved.
"I don't really think it's my place to tell you what went on between those two, but it ended with Nabiki being sent through the dojo wall by Akane and almost dying from landing against a pile of bricks that had just been brought in. They collapsed upon her, breaking a lot of bones in her body and making much of her almost unbelievable strength now pointless, as she would hurt herself before ever approaching her limits." Kasumi turned her head and leaned it upon Ranma's shoulder before continuing.
"Nabiki pretty much gave up after that, not wanting to try and compete physically with somebody that would do a thing like that and only say that Nabiki had brought it upon herself. I wasn't there at the time, so I don't know what exactly occurred before Akane lost it, but it doesn't matter what she said. There is no excuse for almost killing her sister like that." Kasumi scooted around before lifting herself up by Ranma's neck and planting herself in his lap, curling up against his front. She sighed in relaxation as Ranma moved his arms, enfolding the girl in his embrace.
"Frankly, I believe it was to show that even though she was the youngest, she was the best Tendo. Akane was a very poor loser throughout her entire life, just as she was when engaged to you." Ranma nodded, having figured as much. "Unfortunately we didn't travel back in time far enough for me to really change that about her. It's still possible, but she's almost a woman now, no longer an impressionable little girl."
"Yes, but what about training Nabiki? If she still has the problem with her tendons and bones, what's the point?" Ranma asked her gently, his hands lovingly stroking her hair and back.
Kasumi purred from his attention. "I bet she's healed by now. I've watched her do her leg lifts and dance sometimes since then and she seems to be able to handle that just fine. If we train her right she won't have to worry about weak bones or ligaments, she can use her ki to keep that in check."
"What does Dr. Tofu have to say about her?" Ranma wanted to know.
"We never took her to see him, actually. This happened right before he showed up, and when he did open his clinic Nabiki didn't want to go see him for some reason. Probably because she didn't want to get anymore bad news. That was right after Mother left."
Ranma tightened his grip, tucking Kasumi's head under his chin and gently rocking them back and forth. Kasumi's purring increased a bit as she struggled against the bad memories of her childhood. Clinging to Ranma as she was the eldest Tendo found it much easier to fill her consciousness with happy thoughts, particularly of her beloved Ranma.
"Thank you my love," Kasumi whispered up at her husband to be. "Thank you for always being there when I need you."
"Thank you for letting me comfort you my beautiful Kasumi-chan." Kasumi smiled prettily up at him. Nobody else he knew would let him comfort them so easily. Ranma liked how Kasumi would always walk into a hug, but would also back out of it when the need arose.
"Think maybe we should take Nabiki to see the Doc, perhaps on some other pretext if she still doesn't want to go?" Genma's son asked.
"Yes, that would be a good idea. Or I could check her over myself. I'm much better than I was before I got involved with you."
"Heh, that you are Kasumi-chan, that you are." Ranma subconsciously rubbed a near invisible but long scar on his side, gotten fighting a plant demon with vines beyond razor sharp. He was very glad he had a good chance of not seeing that thing again.
"Still, I think it would be a good idea to get his opinion before he leaves again."
Kasumi nodded in agreement. "Yes, but how are we going to get her down there in the first place?"
"We'll think of something. Meanwhile, I think we have some dinner to make. Then we can plan."
Kasumi giggled at her Ranma. Always thinking with his stomach. Nevertheless she got up with him and the two started cooking up a storm.
Ranma sat quietly playing a flute next to his Kasumi-chan as she strummed a guitar, a reversal from what they normally did. The rest of the Tendo family had drifted into the dojo from other parts of the house upon hearing the incredibly beautiful music flowing from there. Upon seeing the two of them somehow leaning against each other while they played so perfectly it made them wonder just how long they had been in contact with each other, given how perfectly they meshed.
Nabiki was thinking about asking them for a more detailed account of what had happened to them in the future but decided against it at the last moment. She had decided to wait just a bit before trying to pump them for information, as she didn't want to just jump all over them before they had a chance to settle in. Beside's, she was thinking about turning in early since she was feeling rather sleepy from that abnormally large and wonderful dinner that had been prepared.
Not wanting to leave until the couple had stopped their addictive music, however, caused her to stay up much later than she anticipated. In fact, by the time Ranma and Kasumi stopped everybody else had already gone to bed, leaving just the three of them in the dojo. Ranma and Kasumi exchanged a look as they both realized that this would be the perfect time to get Nabiki into some training.
"You know, you're not as smart as you could be," Ranma stated bluntly to the middle Tendo daughter. He undervalued subtlety sometimes.
The pigtailed martial artist staggered a bit when a pic loaded down with ki smacked the back of his head. Nabiki turned wide eyes upon her older sister, surprising herself when memories of her young childhood surfaced, showing a cheerfully smirking Kasumi smack Akane and Nabiki around the dojo. Their father had watched from the sidelines, telling Kasumi to stop being so mean and let her sisters have a chance at setting up a defense.
Maybe it wasn't so strange for her older sister to show a little attitude now and then? Kasumi came up behind Ranma and tenderly patted his head where she had hit him, but her point had clearly been made.
"What do you mean by that?" Nabiki finally said, the byplay between the couple finally having concluded.
"What he means," Kasumi said, "Is that when you gave up martial arts you gave up some of your mental capacity to learn and adapt."
Everybody noticed the ever so slight flinch that crossed Nabiki's face upon the mention of her giving up the martial arts. Nabiki hoped they hadn't seen it.
"Frankly, you always had more natural talent with the art than Akane did thanks to your quick learning and uncouth strategies." Ranma shot Kasumi an annoyed look for her use of uncouth. She smiled impishly at him. "I find it strange that you gave it up entirely, despite what happened."
Nabiki shot Ranma a look, wondering just what he had been told. She had no idea how to interpret his sympathy, as she had been expecting pity or scorn. "You know what happened, I CAN'T push myself like that anymore."
Nabiki was a bit annoyed that her voice came out much more depressed than she had intended. Seeing the way Ranma moved and fought reminded her of herself and brought the longing to the fore. It did make her want to ask Kasumi if she had gotten involved again in the future. Maybe she could ask for a demonstration or something.
"It's been years little sister, and the body heals. Maybe you should have it checked again," Kasumi said, hoping that this wouldn't be the start of a huge fight.
Nabiki stared at her for a long minute before Ranma decided to interrupt the awkward silence. "Why don't you let Kasumi give you a once over, then maybe we can do some light sparring and see where you are now, hmm?"
The middle daughter's gaze snapped to him, having completely forgotten that he was there while she and her sister had an argument with their eyes. Kasumi had brought this up every once in a while ever since the incident had happened, and each time Nabiki hadn't wanted to talk about it, the memories of what had happened and the results being too painful for her to return to, both physically and mentally.
"I can't believe you're asking me this again Kasumi," Nabiki said while still staring at Ranma. He returned her gaze calmly, yet with a hint of warmth. "Each time I tell you that it's never going to happen, so why ask now? Is Akane proving to be too much for you to handle? Looking for someone who can easily be overpowered?"
Ranma's gaze suddenly froze and Nabiki found herself taking an involuntary step back. She glanced back at Kasumi and almost ran from the dojo the older girl was looking at her so evilly. She firmed her resolve and just barely managed to stand up between the two of them. "What? Why are you looking at me like that? Did I say something that hit too close to home, or are you finding mental abilities more of a challenge than physical ones?"
"Trying to make us made enough to do the same thing Akane did to you won't prove you're right about all martial artists being barbarians," Kasumi stated with steel in her soft voice. "Just because "sweet little Akane!" crippled you for life doesn't mean you should be cruel to everyone in that profession. Or haven't you managed to learn anything with all of the psychology books you've read?"
Nabiki glared at them. "Shut up! I refuse to be a part of something as stupid and pointless as martial arts. I am not missing out on anything because I don't practice that arcane way of winning an argument!"
Nabiki's head reeled as it was first slapped to the left by Kasumi, then back right by Ranma. "NABIKI!" She found it a very disturbing thing to hear her name yelled with such outrage in stereo like that. The hits had been barely enough to turn her head, but they obviously weren't supposed to hurt her, but catch her attention like nothing else would.
"Do you realize how thin a line you're treading here, girl?" Ranma growled. "I am going to have a talk with Soun later about the morals he never instilled in his daughters! Martial arts is NOT about winning an argument! It's about protecting ones self and others from those that would harm them. It shames me to admit that those same skills that Kasumi and I pride ourselves on for their ability to help those who can't help themselves are abused by those bastards who would wish to do so."
Ranma ran out of breath so Kasumi jumped in, the two of them obviously having done things like this before. "Don't you remember me telling you those exact same words time and again when... Oyaji wouldn't? That this wasn't something that should turn you away from the art, but should make your resolve to become the best martial artist you can be even stronger? I simply can't understand how my normally thoughtful and understanding little sister could so completely get this one wrong. And simply because of Akane, the one girl that should have gotten punished and never did! Do you have any idea how upset I was when we overheard Oyaji say to Akane he was sure Nabiki was injured as punishment for something you had done? No, you obviously didn't. You were too caught up in your own world of hate for martial artists in general. I'm amazed at how you managed to hide this behind your mask of casual sarcasm, but the way you constantly teased Akane about her martial arts made it clear that you were reminding yourself of what had happened every time you saw her."
Kasumi ran out of words for the moment, allowing Ranma to pick it up. "It seems clear to me now that one of the reasons you disliked me when I first showed up was, not because I turned into a girl, but because of my poor speech patterns. Now that I think back on it, that seemed like the first time you gave martial arts and martial artists another chance to redeem themselves to you. And here I come along, the epitome of the dumb jock, or so I sounded. Since pretty much as soon as you spent a little time with me and noticed my speech you never paid attention to me again, except to torment or make a bet on. Was I your last ray of hope for martial artists? Were you hoping that I would show you that not all martial artists were like Akane, using their fists to get what they wanted? You never gave me the chance, once you got your first impression of me." Ranma abruptly stopped as he realized this Nabiki had no idea what he was talking about, though from her expression he could tell his words were ringing true nonetheless.
"Nabiki," Kasumi stated firmly, drawing the younger girl's attention. "I will not allow this to remain as it is. Ranma and I will deal with Soun, and we will deal with you. Even if you fight us kicking and screaming the whole way I know you greatly enjoyed your martial arts lessons, which is why you took up dance when you got some of your strength back. You will learn the art again, and we will show you what you've been missing out on thanks to Akane. She will be dealt with as well, though how will have to be determined."
Nabiki hadn't ever been railroaded like this in memory. She couldn't seem to get her mind working well enough to come up with something to say in retaliation, or to get out of what was coming. It seemed almost as if her subconscious was working against her, willing her to go along with what was being said instead of letting her fears and prejudices come up again.
Ranma and Kasumi stared at Nabiki for a moment before nodding. "Good, now that that's decided, we should find out a good training regimen for you," Ranma stated.
"Now wait a minute," Nabiki finally spluttered, realizing that everything had already been decided when she was still flatfooted.
"Ah ah ah!" Kasumi wagged her finger at Nabiki. "It's already been decided, there's no use complaining about it now."
Nabiki folded her arms over her chest. "Nothing's been decided, I haven't agreed to anything."
"Your silence was your agreement."
Ranma decided to take a risk. He walked up to Nabiki, making the two girls pause in what they were about to say. He punched her, not putting much speed behind it but enough strength.
Nabiki yelped even as her body responded. Since this was one of the things most deeply ingrained into a beginner at the Tendo branch of Anything Goes she still reacted correctly despite how long she had been out of practice.
Ranma's punch was deflected by her right hand, causing it to go just wide of her face, while her left snaked in to land a hard punch into Ranma's purposefully unprotected gut. He grunted from the force of the blow but otherwise remained perfectly still.
Nabiki's brain caught up with her body and she looked at her fist, still pressed into Ranma's rock hard stomach, in amazement. The doctor had said that she would never be able to do anything more high impact than running in her life. Yet here she had just let loose a punch that she knew should have shattered her arm without even a twinge from her bones.
Ranma turned to look at Kasumi. "You were right, she is pretty strong."
Kasumi's eyebrows shot up before coming together in concern, wondering just how hard her beloved had been hit. Forcing the instant worry for him that sprang up out of her mind, she concentrated on Nabiki.
The middle Tendo daughter jumped upon feeling her older sisters hands running all across her body, including places where they shouldn't. Ranma caught and held Nabiki's hands still before her body could react faster than her mind again.
"Kasumi's just examining you to make sure that you'll be able to take the training again now that your body seems to have healed. No need to get all jumpy."
Several minutes later Kasumi finished. "She's not completely healed, but she'll be fine before her real strength comes back. It will take a bit of time before she becomes as strong as she used to be, so we can work with her so she'll be able to strengthen her frame using ki."
Ranma nodded in agreement, wondering what Nabiki was thinking about all this. Not knowing of any other way to find out he asked her. "So, any thoughts Nabiki?"
"Of course, I always have thoughts," The girl replied while giving the pigtailed martial artist a pointed look. Ranma and Kasumi grinned a bit upon catching the veiled insult in her reply. Nabiki always had been pretty quick minded.
"Wanna share any of 'em?"
"Yen for your thoughts doesn't apply here. Though if you were talking sums greater than 50,000 yen you'd hear them."
Ranma shot a quick glance at his soon to be wife. She gave an ever so slight nod in return. Ranma let a disappointed frown cross his face. With an amazing bit of sleight of hand he managed to produce a 50,000 yen note that Kasumi had been carrying.
"Well, darn," Ranma said, "And here I was hoping to get everything for just 50,000 yen." Just as Nabiki started reaching for the bill Ranma flicked his wrist and put it away. "Ahh well, guess I'll just have to do without."
Nabiki put on such a huge pout for losing out on that yen that Ranma and Kasumi started laughing at her. She pouted more. The couple laughed harder.
Nabiki finally stopped pouting and glared at them. "Alright already, you can stop laughing at me, geez."
Kasumi managed to get some control over herself. "Sorry Nabiki, but you have no idea how cute you look when you do that, do you?"
Nabiki's cheeks tinged pink even as a scowl brought her eyebrows down. "I don't want to be cute!"
Ranma grinned at her as he absentmindedly place his arm around his girlfriend's waist. Said girlfriend leaned into him happily. "Well, you are." Suddenly the black haired boy was a redheaded girl. "You think I like being known as cute? It's something I learned to deal with." Ranma glanced up at Kasumi whom was still somehow leaning against him, despite how much shorter he was. "You're tall, you know that?"
Kasumi giggled even as she straightened to stare down at her boyfriend. "No, you're short."
Ranma pouted, looking even cuter than Nabiki had a moment ago. Kasumi and Nabiki exchanged a glance before they burst out laughing. Ranma's pout increased, driving the two girls into gales of laughter.
"Arggh!" Ranma said in frustration. Not knowing what to do about Nabiki he at least knew what to do about Kasumi.
Ranma reached up and pulled the taller girl's face down to her level. "Hey, just because I'm cute doesn't mean I'm not a good kisser." With that statement the two girl's lips locked together. Kasumi's arms flailed about for a moment in surprise before she calmed and pulled her lover close.
Nabiki's eyes bulged a bit at the sight, especially when her older sister put her hands on the girl's butt and squeezed. She managed to remember what gender Ranma really was before shouting out anything, though. A minute later and the two were still going at it, giving Nabiki some time to think.
Just the thought of training again was filling her with excitement. She hadn't felt this giddy with happiness since she had started high school, a chance to meet new people and hopefully get a boyfriend. While the male population of Furinkan was severely lacking, she did meet a bunch of new people, both good and bad. She couldn't really understand the feeling since she hadn't had it since the incident with Akane. Maybe it was the way Ranma and Kasumi both seemed to be so happy and nice, yet they were martial artists and prevented her from keeping her mental block against the art up.
Several more minutes had passed and the odd couple looked like they had no intentions of stopping the soul searching kiss they were now engaged in. Nabiki wrote a quick note and, after a minutes deliberation, taped it to Kasumi's rear, figuring that that would be the next place Ranma would check. Wondering just how long it would be before they broke up Nabiki headed back into the house to snack on a cookie. Maybe she would start writing in her journal again now that she was actually doing something that involved more than just numbers.
Nabiki jerked upright in her room, startled a bit from the shout. She glanced at the clock and boggled. It had been an hour since she left the dojo!
A tap sounded on her window. Nabiki glanced over and fell out of her chair.
Kasumi was hanging upside down outside her bedroom window. On the second story. The middle Tendo daughter scrambled to her feet and slammed her window open. "What are you doing?!?"
Ignoring her words Kasumi showed her the note Ranma had found. "What was the big idea, sticking it on me like that?"
"It seemed like the first place you'd notice it."
Kasumi blushed a bit but plowed on. "What are you doing back in your room? We have training to start."
Nabiki ignored her words this time. "Um, just out of curiosity, how in the world is that skirt staying in place?"
Kasumi glanced down (up) at herself. Indeed, even though she was hanging upside down her skirt made it look like she was still right side up. "It just wouldn't be proper to show everyone my panties, now would it? Beside's, that's a view only Ranma get's to enjoy."
Nabiki stared at her sister for a long moment before realizing that she had just gotten the explanation. Shaking her head at the weirdness that had started upon the couple's arrival she decided to ignore the gravity defying skirt.
"Alright, I'll be in the dojo in a minute," Nabiki said, turning away to signify the end of the conversation.
"See you in a minute, little sister." With that, Kasumi was gone.
Nabiki dashed back over to the window and stuck her head out, looking around wildly for any sign of her elder sibling. Nothing. Nabiki grinned as she slowly shut her window. "I'm going to be learning how to do that. Hehe, I can't wait."
Kasumi walked back into the dojo and headed over next to a male Ranma, who was tossing around the crumpled up note Nabiki had left them. Before she said anything Ranma spoke up.
"Good thing you came back, I just realized I forgot something."
"This." Ranma reached around the older girl and groped her derriere. Kasumi blushed but let him take his time as he once again examined her with his hands, finishing what he had started when he found the note.
Nabiki walked in on them. "Oh geez, not again."
Ranma and Kasumi blushed a bit, but quickly got themselves back under control.
"So, do you remember what the last thing you were being trained in was?" Ranma inquired.
"I was just finishing up the basics and was going to start in on the specialized training."
Ranma nodded, then blinked in shock. "You were already past were Akane is now?"
Nabiki nodded, feeling a bit embarrassed for some reason. "She always was a bit of a slow learner."
Ranma shook his head and decided to ignore that for now. Who knew what else contributed to her lack of progress. It could very easily be Soun's fault, not merely Akane's. He turned to Kasumi. "You want to start off, or should I?"
Kasumi considered for a moment before replying. "She hasn't seen me fight since we were little, so I'll go first. Beside's, I'll be able to keep an eye on her this first time to make sure everything will be OK."
Ranma nodded in agreement, walking over to the side of the dojo to allow the girls room enough to fight. Nabiki looked at Kasumi a little strangely. It had been a LONG time since she had seen her older sister fight, and the passive niceness impression that Kasumi had been giving for almost as long as she could remember was intruding on her ability to really see her as somebody that could teach her martial arts.
Kasumi and Nabiki walked out into the middle of the dojo and bowed. Nabiki's impression of her older sibling was quickly dispelled once the girl dropped into a stance with as much grace as Ranma so casually demonstrated.
Nabiki made herself stop trying to think of what she was doing and instantly dropped into a basic stance. Ranma and Kasumi both noticed what she was doing and were surprised. They had thought the intellectual Nabiki would think more during her fighting than do it by instinct. This was probably why she was such a quick study, simply absorbing what she needed to know, much like Ranma.
"We'll start with the defense. See how long you can last before you get tagged," Kasumi said.
Nabiki nodded and tensed, wondering how fast they were going to start out. Kasumi stepped forward and sent a punch at her face. Nabiki tilted her head a bit and avoided it. Another incoming made her lean her head the other way.
The speed increased a bit, making her slap a few blows away instead of just dodging. Kasumi took a moments respite while she mentally changed over from simple punches to more elaborate forms of attack. Nabiki was almost caught flatfooted when Kasumi tried a leg sweep. She was very lucky her older sister had only targeted one leg, as she only had time to lift one and not jump.
Kasumi kept spinning, lashing out attack after attack higher and higher up Nabiki's body. The girl was hard pressed to keep up with everything that was being thrown at her, but still not a blow landed.
The attacks increased in fury and Nabiki started to get a little worried. She bent backwards to avoid a snap kick and happened to glimpse Kasumi dropping down for another sweep. Hoping that she would be able to survive something like what she was about to do Nabiki executed a backflip. She was very thankful that she had continued stretching so she was able to bend enough to pull the maneuver off.
Even as she stood with a huge grin on her face from the successful evasion Kasumi attacked. Another kick to her head was desperately blocked, a quick punch combo avoided, but the last spin kick clocked the girl across her head. She did a half flip sideways and landed on her back, her eyes having turned into little swirly lines.
Kasumi looked down in mild surprise. "She isn't very good at taking hits."
Ranma chuckled. "She hasn't been hit for some time, why are you so surprised?"
Kasumi blushed a bit. "I kinda forgot she had a bit of a glass jaw even when we were younger. Great power and speed, but she couldn't absorb much damage. I better make sure she's alright."
Kasumi kneeled down and checked her little sister, making sure that everything was in place and still in good working order. Satisfied that it was, and Nabiki was simply unused to being clocked in the head, Kasumi beckoned Ranma over. He came and sat beside his girlfriend, taking her small hand and squeezing it affectionately.
"Well, now we know where she is," Ranma stated. Kasumi nodded. "Do you think we should push her, or let her learn at a more normal pace?"
Kasumi had to think about that one. "I'm not sure, actually." She turned and put her arm around her love, wanting to be close to him. "I don't really know what's going to be happening now. It's only been two days and nothing really has happened yet. I just know that something will."
Ranma nodded in agreement. "Well, the two of us are here. I'm sure we can handle anything that happens, so why don't we just get her going on a steady rise so she won't hate us for the rest of her life."
"Sounds good. Now, let's get Nabiki up and go to bed. It's a bit later than I would like." The couple sat Nabiki up and gently got her back to awareness. "You were very good on the flute tonight, love."
Ranma smiled so hugely his eyes turned into rainbow shapes. "Thanks. You were great too." A moment later he remembered something. "OH! I forgot to give this to you, sorry."
He pulled out her family flute and handed it to her. Kasumi smiled serenely at him and gratefully accepted it, glad that it was back in her hands and being played once more. "Maybe next time we'll use our usual instruments?"
Ranma nodded in agreement. "Sounds good. Think you can make sure everything has new strings on them before tomorrow night?"
Kasumi nodded. "That'll be easy."
"Good. Well, I guess we should be off to bed then."
Ranma awoke, looked beside him and frowned at seeing the empty space. He was so used to seeing Kasumi's beautiful face when he opened his eyes he was weirded out every time he woke up by himself. He had problems going to sleep as well, since her wonderful warmth wasn't there beside him.
He simply lay there for a few moments, thinking on the day. This was when Ryoga had shown up. He wasn't entirely sure of how he was going to deal with the lost boy. Having been unable to prevent the curse he had no idea how to make things better. He could just beat him up and tell him to leave him alone, but that didn't really sit well with him. He wanted to get the boy out of his depression, as that would make things a lot easier for everyone if he would simply be cheerful like Ranma had learned to be when facing pain and unpleasantness.
Ranma knew if Ryoga got a girl she could cheer him up, but he had no idea how to go about setting him up. How impossible would it be for him to go on a date, given his sense of direction? How could Ranma convince somebody to give the depressed boy a chance? He knew he had to try it, but was unsure of how to go about implementing it. He would ask Kasumi and see if she had something to say.
Heck, with the way Ryoga was infatuated with Akane, maybe he should do something to set the two of them up and see if anything happened. Akane could certainly go following him around when he got lost, since she didn't really have to do anything besides school. On the other hand, would Akane really want to take martial arts that seriously? Their styles would be pretty compatible too, since they both relied on overpowering strength. Something to think about once the two met each other. It sure would be funny if Akane liked Ryoga, but he didn't like her for some reason this time around.
Ranma got out of bed, absently kicking the panda as he walked past, knowing that he would have to use a lot more force than that to wake the man up. It still made him feel better, though. After a quick wash and a change of clothes into his usual outfit he joined his beloved in the kitchen.
She was wearing a rather tight fitting Chinese dress in a stunning red and black that Ranma found enticing. "Wow, you look amazing Kasumi-chan," Ranma told her sincerely.
Kasumi beamed a smile at him, almost making him faint from how beautiful she looked. She giggled at him, infused with happiness at the effect she had on her boyfriend. This dress was one of her all time favorites, since it went so well with Ranma's usual clothing and it complimented her figure so nicely, showing Ranma a splendid view of her abundant curves.
"Where did you get that, anyway? You never would tell me."
Kasumi giggled at him again. "You still aren't going to find out, that little shop is going to be my secret."
"Yeah, but what if I want to buy you something?"
Kasumi shook her head. "Not from there you aren't."
Ranma sighed and conceded defeat... for now. "Fine fine, you just keep your little secret," He grinned at her, showing that he wasn't mad at her. Not that he could ever stay mad at Kasumi to begin with, but he reassured her anyway. "I had an idea, so I thought I'd run it by you and see what you thought of it."
Kasumi nodded, going back to her breakfast. Ranma absentmindedly joined her, picking out where she was in the preparation and doing the next step. Kasumi saw him and smiled warmly, happy that he helped her now willingly.
Realizing that her silence meant he had her full attention Ranma told her his thoughts on Ryoga and getting him a girlfriend.
Kasumi burst out laughing, making Ranma wonder if there was something about the boy that Kasumi, being female, knew about. "What, is he ugly or something?"
Ranma pulled the frying pan down, thankful that Kasumi's hand was still attached the handle. He didn't mind Kasumi hitting him in the least, since she never used enough force to actually hurt him, merely to say that that wasn't the right thing to say. Ranma found it rather amusing sometimes, she was rather inventive when he got going on a streak and they were alone.
He moved his hand down from the pan onto his girlfriends wrist, using it to pull said woman close. "I take it that's not why you were laughing?"
Kasumi shook her head. "No."
Ranma waited a few moments before realizing that was all he was going to get out of her. He pulled her closer, till they were leaning against each other, the sweet smell of Kasumi intoxicating his senses. He breathed deeply a few times, causing a light blush to cross Kasumi's cheeks before speaking quietly once more.
"So what did cause you to erupt in joyous laughter, the likes of which mere mortals such as myself were never meant to bask in?"
Somehow Kasumi managed to wack him without leaning back at all in their embrace. Ranma's head tilted back to vertical, pushing the frying pan away as he did. "Kuno is never a turn on, you know," Kasumi stated blandly.
Ranma blanched. "I'm sorry! I did sorta fall into his speech pattern there didn't I? Man, I can't believe I did that to you. I'll make it up, I swear!"
Kasumi smiled sweetly at him. "That's okay, I'm sure you didn't mean it. Now I just have to take another bath to rinse away the dirty feeling I have from thinking of him."
Ranma shuddered as well. "I know what you mean, man do I know what you mean."
The couple shuddered in revulsion together before Ranma whispered something. "Say, you wouldn't want to take that bath with some company, would ya?"
Kasumi's cheeks tinged pink (again) but she eagerly nodded. Ranma sported a huge grin on his face as he grabbed his beloved's hand and dashed off to the furo.
Some minutes later the couple emerged fully clothed once again, slightly flushed and squeaky clean. They arrived back into the kitchen just in time to salvage breakfast, presenting it with a flourish to the sleep addled Tendo family.
Ranma and Kasumi grumbled at each other upon seeing the completely blank stares of most of the family, having hoped to at least get a smile of gratitude for their entertaining meal presentation. With a sigh the couple sat at the table and indulged themselves of the available foodstuffs.
Ranma had a contended smile on his face at the conclusion of the meal. The only thing that but a bit of a damper on the situation was Akane kept glaring at him. He also remembered that she hadn't shown up for her morning training like she was supposed to. That would mean he'd have to come up with something suitable for her to remember the schedule.
Hmm, that might work. Though it wouldn't be enough, there would have to be more later in the day. Kasumi noticed her beloved gazing at Akane with a Look and took an educated guess as to what he was thinking about.
"What are you planning, Ranma?"
She had whispered it to him so he was the only one that heard her. "Akane didn't show up for her training this morning, so I was just thinking of something as way of punishment," He responded in the same whisper.
"Quick Soul of Ice?"
Ranma shot Kasumi a glance. "Now what made you think of that?"
"It would help her get her emotions under control, even if she won't be entirely successful at it."
Ranma thought about it for a minute and realized that she was right. He didn't feel at all right in teaching her a technique so early in her training, but he was satisfied since the Soul of Ice was useless unless the rest of the attack was shown to her. If she simply thought it was a way to control one's emotions than everything would work out.
"I think you're right, especially with the way Akane uses her ki so much to augment her strength."
Kasumi nodded in agreement. "That's why I suggested it. After all, it's the move I know how to do best."
Ranma smiled at her warmly. "Yeah, I'll get better than you eventually, just give me a little time."
"I think you're a little too," Kasumi's cheeks reddened a bit, "Passionate to grasp the move as fully as I have."
Ranma flushed for a moment as well before getting himself back under control. Despite having been married once to the girl already, she could get a reaction out of him with a simple phrase like that. "We'll see Kasumi-chan, we'll see."
Ranma and Kasumi timed themselves to be finished with their meal at the same time as Akane, since Ranma would have to walk with her to school today. Akane stood and collected her school bag, eyeing Ranma as he did the same.
"You aren't going with me, are you?"
Ranma beamed a smile at her. "Of course I am, you missed your training this morning, so I have to get it in sometime, now don't I."
Akane blanched. "I can't train now, I'll be late for school."
Ranma noticed that she wasn't denying he was training her, just coming up with excuses to try and stop him from doing so. "Oh, you'll be there in plenty of time, there's no need to worry about that."
Before Akane could say anything else Ranma continued. "Of course, a true martial artist doesn't let something like missing a few days of school get in the way of training. I missed out on several years, yet I graduat... I'm in the same grade with you."
"I still have no idea how you did it, either," Kasumi thought to herself.
Akane glared at the pigtailed boy, wishing that he would just up and disappear. If she needed more training her father could do it, she didn't need him showing off every minute of the day.
Kasumi leaned over to her little sister. "I'd just go while you're ahead," She told the girl helpfully.
Akane's glare turned onto her oldest sister, but it soon softened thanks to the serene smile Kasumi was giving her.
"C'mon, let's go before we end up being late anyway," Ranma said from the doorway, school bag already in hand.
Akane turned and stomped over, throwing her shoes on before glancing back in surprise at Kasumi. "Aren't you coming?"
Kasumi shook her head. "No, I have some things to take care of before I can bring Ran-chan his lunch."
Ranma's eyes widened as he realized they had never finished their conversation about Ryoga. Kasumi read his look and nodded at him. Ranma smiled and nodded back, the both of them now knowing that Kasumi was going to try and take care of Ryoga. He had no idea what she was going to do, but he had faith in her. While a little worried about her going off to face him or whatever she planned to do alone, he also knew that at this point in time his fiance could take the lost boy down easily should it come to a fight.
Ranma and Akane walked out of the Tendo complex and down the street, Akane throwing glances at her companion, wondering what this training of his was going to entail.
When he jumped on the fence and continued walking along Akane snorted and muttered, "Showoff."
"Akane, get up here."
"I'm sure you heard me perfectly well. Get up on the fence here."
Akane crossed her arms over her chest. "People are going to look up my skirt, there's no way I'm getting up there."
Ranma leaned down off the fence, grabbed her waist and lifted her up onto it. Her eyes widened before their view was blocked by something black and stretchy.
"Put these on and it won't matter if anyone gets a look up your skirt or not."
She grabbed the black thing from him so she could figure out what it was. They turned out to be a pair of workout shorts, something that she wore by themselves all the time when she went on her morning jogs. It wouldn't matter to her if somebody looked up her skirt if she were wearing that, except for the principal of the thing.
"Now put them on."
"What, now?!" Akane couldn't believe her ears. Like heck she was going to put that on on top of a fence!
Ranma reached around her and grabbed them back. "Don't move for a sec," Was the only warning the youngest Tendo had.
Ranma's hands blurred even as Akane's skirt billowed out for no apparent reason. By the time the material had fluttered back down to its normal position the pigtailed martial artist was done.
Akane yelped and finally moved forward, her hand running down her backside to feel if what she thought happened actually happened. She wheeled about and stabbed Kasumi's boyfriend with a mighty glare. "Don't even try and say you didn't do anything perverted! Putting this on me without even asking, it's enough to make me want to kill you!"
Ranma seemed to harden, his entire body and face looking like granite. "As your sensei I have free reign to do what is needed to see you progress farther in the art. It doesn't matter where I touch you, since everything I do will be geared toward making you good enough to survive. Any pervertedness will be from your own mind."
Akane's scowl grew as she heard his words, not wanting to listen to them, but knowing he would just do something else to her if she continued fighting him like this. She would have to get more subtle, do things where he couldn't just overpower her to counter. Not being able to think of anything at the moment didn't help her mood, either.
"Fine. Now that I'm up here I guess we go to school."
Before she had even taken a step Ranma appeared before her. "Ah, but we're going to do it in an educational way."
Akane blinked at him, clueless as to what he intended. She was caught completely flatfooted when he punched her lightly in the face. It was enough to get the girl to loose her balance on the narrow fence, however, sending her tumbling to land painfully upon the hard ground.
"OW! That hurt you jerk!"
Ranma stared down at her for a moment. "What, you don't normally feel a bit of pain when you train? No wonder you suck. You don't push yourself hard enough."
Akane leapt to her feet, pain forgotten in her anger. "What?! You haven't seen what I do for training, you can't say things like that."
"I don't have to. Simply from the way you fight and the condition you're in I can tell that you aren't pushing yourself nearly hard enough."
Akane jumped back onto the fence. "Oh yeah? So what's so great about what you plan on doing?"
Ranma leaned forward and punched again, though the Tendo girl was able to duck under it. "Balance training, along with some toughening up when you fall off the fence. If you get more seriously injured from the falls than I think you will I'll have to come up with something else."
Ranma dropped into a leg sweep before Akane had a chance to respond. He was moving slow enough that she could dodge him at the moment, the long haired girl jumping over his leg with the beginnings of a smile on her face, the thrill of combat racing through her veins. She missed her landing, however, her left foot missing and her right slipping off the edge. She fell hard on her side again, though nothing was seriously hurt, proving that Ranma had been right.
Angry at herself this time for falling off from a simple jump Akane returned to the fence top and chased after Ranma, who was walking backwards away from her. Forgetting she was on a fence already Akane lashed out with a strong kick. The fence wobbled a bit from the weight and force of her strike, causing her foot to wobble, her ankle to bend and for her to tumble to the ground again. She stood once more, embarrassed at her mistake so early in the training.
She was a bit shocked when no words were forthcoming from Ranma. She glanced up at him and he merely gestured for her to join him on the fence once more. She did so, stepping a little timidly on the rickety portion. Upon doing so he finally spoke. "Balance is the key to just about everything a martial artist does. As you progress you'll make fewer and fewer mistakes like you just did until you can have confidence in yourself that, no matter what you try on whatever surface, you'll stay on your feet."
Akane was too caught up in the serious way he was speaking and the truth of his statement to get offended that it was Ranma who was teaching her this. She simply nodded and they continued on to school, sparring atop the fence, toughening up the youngest Tendo as she fell repeatedly.
Nabiki kept stealing glances at her elder sister as they walked to school. "I'm still not sure about you being able to teach me martial arts. I mean, I haven't ever seen you do anything since we were children."
Kasumi shook her head. "Have you forgotten I'm from the future already?"
"No, it's just not something I see you picking up again, even after marrying somebody like Ranma."
"I always did miss the art a bit, but it was Ranma's enthusiasm for it, and his ability to teach me quickly and easily that really got me going again."
Nabiki nodded in agreement. "I know what you mean about missing it. I sometimes wish I had kept up with Akane despite what happened. Now, with you and Ranma here to train me, I guess it won't be so bad."
Kasumi nodded this time. "Yeah, my Ran-chan is a better instructor than Oyaji."
"I still can't get over hearing you call him that."
Kasumi shrugged. "I'm a bit more of a realist now. Besides, what else am I going to call somebody who said that to you?"
"Good point. So, when does my training start, anyway?"
"Once we take you to Dr. Tofu's for a more thorough examination. I'm 99% sure that you'll be able to handle everything fine now, but that's not good enough. I want to be 100% sure. Hence, Dr. Tofu."
Nabiki had a panicked look on her face. "Are you sure you need to be there for this? I mean, I'm the only one that's going to be getting examined."
"Yes, I'm sure. After all, I need to tell him that I'm going to be getting married to my Ranma come this weekend, and that he had better get over his fixation on me if he knows what's good for him."
Nabiki was rather startled by the harsh tone of voice Kasumi was using. "What's up with the attitude?"
Kasumi's face went from a scowl, to serene, to downright chilly. "I respect him as a Doctor, but I don't respect him as a man, not after what happened during my honeymoon."
Nabiki was almost afraid to ask, but Kasumi knew how curious her little sister was. "Since you'll find a way to get the full story anyway, I'll just tell you now. You see, we had been going through...."
"Dr. Tofu challenged Ranma to a car race?!?!" Nabiki shouted in surprise. "He doesn't even own a car! Ranma wouldn't have had enough money to... never mind, he would have had enough by then, wouldn't he. But, he doesn't know how to drive! And Ranma accepted?! If Tofu thought of this right when he left in order to win you back somehow, then how in the world could your boyfriend have gotten good enough to beat him?"
Kasumi smiled and clasped her hands beneath her chin, her eyes shining as she relived the memories of that race. "Oh he looked so cool! I was sitting next to him during the race and it was one of the most amazing things I've ever seen him do."
Nabiki's eyebrow arched up. "Watching him drive was amazing? I can understand watching him fight, I mean his body is pretty easy on the eyes, especially when he's moving, but sitting there driving?"
Kasumi's smile changed a bit. Nabiki's other eyebrow went up upon seeing the lusty gaze Kasumi had sported for a moment. "Don't mind me, just some very pleasant memories of right after we were married."
Nabiki giggled and sidled up to her sister. "So what exactly was going on there, hmm?"
Kasumi playfully bopped her sister. "You'll just have to meet the man of your dreams and find out for yourself. I'm certainly not telling."
"Seriously, what was so big about that car race? So you guys found out Ranma's good at another thing, why are you so mad at Tofu about it?" Nabiki wanted to know. "Ranma does get challenged all the time, right?"
"It was his entire attitude towards everything. I don't know if you really noticed it but that man has a rather nasty tongue that he manages to offset by his friendly voice," Kasumi said. "I don't know how he managed to get Akane to have such a huge crush on him when he made such comments to her."
Nabiki shrugged, also wondering about that now that she really thought about it. "Anyway, you obviously missed what I implied during the story. I had mentioned that we were going through northern Japan when we ran across him again, and that we had been married for a while now. Married, dedicated to each other for life, till death do we part, and Tofu Ono comes along and challenges my husband for my body!"
Nabiki was starting to get a little nervous now that she had finally hit upon what exactly had gotten Kasumi so mad at the Doctor. She didn't think Kasumi was aware she was giving off a faint blue glow, or that the air was getting pretty chilly around her. Having heard about some of the stories from the two of them Nabiki was expecting to see supernatural feats like this, but it was still a shock to actually see legendary techniques being performed in person.
Kasumi realized what she was doing and quieted herself, the glow fading but the chill still evident. "The problem," She informed her little sister, "Is that I had dedicated my body, my life and my heart to another, he knew all about this and he tried to separate us, he tried to force Ranma into giving me up. He didn't take into account my feelings on the matter, he didn't take into account the legality of what he was doing nor did he think about what Ranma might do or say."
Kasumi stopped walking for a moment to stare directly into Nabiki's eye. "Think about this for a moment. You find yourself someone to love, a man that you would do anything for, you hold higher than life itself, and to your absolute joy he returns your feelings exactly. Now somebody comes along and tries to take that happiness away from you, tries to convince you to risk it all due to honor or ego or something equally worthless when compared to a lifetime of wonderful memories. Now how would you feel about that? How would you react to somebody taking away the thing you value most." Kasumi could tell Nabiki wasn't quite grasping this, not having ever formed a really close relationship before. Then she hit upon something. "Remember mother? Remember your loss when she died? Take your feelings of before and after her passing away and amplify them by 10 and you'll have some idea of what I'm trying to tell you."
Nabiki turned woodenly away as she tried to imagine what her older sister had just described. She could easily recall the feelings that coursed through her upon their mother's death, and she hadn't ever thought that she would feel emotions of such strength. Of course she hadn't reached puberty then either, so there were some things she wasn't aware of yet, but it still boggled her mind.
Kasumi could tell that she had finally succeeded. "Now you know, Nabiki. Now you know why he will see reason or he will be put in his place, infatuation or no."
"I just hope you can handle him Kasumi. He gets incredibly strong and unpredictable when he sees you."
"Yes, I know."
The two girls walked into the clinic, both of them hoping for the best and expecting the worst.
Ryoga Hibiki looked around himself and gulped. This wasn't something that he had ever encountered before in all of his travels and he wasn't entirely sure what to do about it. Three girls were yelling great obscenities at him while chucking with impressive strength anything that wasn't bolted down in the bathroom. And he couldn't find the door. All he saw before him was wall, water, and soft skin that he tried to keep his eyes averted from. If only he had run into that nice girl things wouldn't be so bad, but as it was he was being put through agony and he couldn't get them to stop no matter how much he begged and pleaded that it wasn't his fault he had wandered into the girls' bath.
He thought he had some idea of where he was given the architecture but he was never certain. When the youngest girl, a redhead not more than 12, somehow pulled a huge futuristic looking gun from nowhere and pointed it right at him Ryoga decided that leaving immediately if not sooner was the wisest course of action. He started a mad dash around what he assumed to be the perimeter, planning on following the wall until he found an opening of some sort he could use to make good his escape.
A high pitched whining coming from behind him signaled that things were about to get worse. One of the other women, this one with teal hair, that had been with the redhead somehow appeared before him carrying the same gun as the redhead. Ryoga screeched like a little girl and vaulted over her, hoping that her aim would be off from the sudden movement. A loud pop-fizzle-whine issued forth from the firearm but Ryoga was gone before he could see the effects.
Careening off a wall he cursed his terrible luck upon encountering the redhead again, huge gun still held in her tiny hands. He decided to try and cut across the water and hope that he would find an exit on the other side. A quick turn followed by a full sprint revealed that he had chosen the wrong direction and was now embedded into the wall around the onsen.
"Ha!" The redhead cackled. "Got him now!"
"GO WASHU!" A blonde cheered in the background, gunless (thankfully).
The teal haired women stood beside Washu. "I forgot to ask what these things do," She inquired even while leveling the weapon at the practiced pervert. He could only have gotten so good at dodging an enraged female, let alone slipping into the women's sealed bathing area, if he'd had lots of practice beforehand.
"That's easy Kiyone! They're going to put him into stasis in my lab so I can run some tests on him. I'd like to know how he got in here so I can fix it. I thought Mihoshi was the only one that could so easily bypass the most advanced security in the universe."
"Ah," The older girl replied. "Makes sense. I hope the universe isn't just making a better idiot here since my partner hasn't made any huge and life threatening blunders recently."
"I'm doing better, aren't I Kiyone!" Mihoshi giggled happily, glad that she wasn't the low woman on the totem pole anymore. They could make fun of that pervert now!
Washu and Kiyone exchanged a sigh. "Yeah, you are Mihoshi," Kiyone admitted.
The GP officer and greatest scientific genius in the universe squeezed the trigger at the same time, the red lance of energy intersecting on Ryoga's inert form perfectly. A pop-fizzle-whine later and the lost boy was another one of Washu's experiments.
"Ever planning on letting him go?" Mihoshi asked as she inspected the imprint of the boy.
"Who knows," Washu said. "All depends on what I find out about him. If he's half as interesting as Tenchi then he won't be getting out for years, hehehe."
Kiyone and Mihoshi sent the scientist worried looks, the both of them wondering about her sanity sometimes. That maniacal evil laugh were getting far too good.
Ryoga gasped for breath, at the limit of his endurance but refusing to stop yet. He had only been running full tilt for two days and he didn't think for a moment he had enough distance between him and that crazy redhead. He was going to shake in fear at the sight of red hair for the rest of his life now, and he couldn't even blame this on Ranma! Maybe he would get lucky and see a friendly face, or at least one that didn't want to remove his face for closer examination.
Skidding around a corner revealed a familiar looking street. He couldn't remember where in the world he was but he knew he had been here before. He could recall a really nice brown haired girl with a shopping bag giving him directions. Maybe he would run into her again, that would certainly make his day a better one. A smile from her would perk up anybody.
He had to get to Furinkan High School, he had heard that Ranma was going to be attending there. He thought he might be near there and decided to try and stay within sight of buildings for as long as possible and hope that he could find the school.
A female scream from a building he was passing by halted Ryoga in his tracks. Despite his recent bad experience the ingrained male instinct to protect women kicked in and he dashed into the open front door, wondering what kind of horror he was going to have to save some poor defenseless girl from.
He skidded to a stop in the second doorway in the building, now recognizable as a doctors office, his eyes unbelieving.
Two girls were indeed in the room, but cowering in the corner was the male doctor. He had left off that shriek? Amazing. Ryoga chose to forget about the identical noises he had been making while in the clutches of that redhead, happy that nobody else would know of his distinctly unmasculine cries.
"It sounded like you broke your hand there Dr. Tofu, you should take a look at that," The taller young woman said.
The shorter girl, in both height and hair length, nodded in agreement, her brown locks swirling around her stunned face. "Yeah, what she said."
The doctor just remained huddled on the floor, gently rocking himself back and forth, his mind overloaded and unwilling to accept reality.
"Um, you girls alright?" Ryoga asked, knowing he sounded pretty stupid but unable to think of anything else to say.
Kasumi's head whipped around and pierced Ryoga with her gaze. He almost peed his pants from the icy stare, a shiver running up his spine so huge his knees rattled. What had he done to get a reaction like this?!?
The glare softened somewhat but never became friendly. The other girl never even looked at him, still staring at the man huddled on the floor.
"How did you come to be here Ryoga?" The women who still held his gaze asked.
"Y-you know my name?" The lost boy stuttered out in surprise, his finger pointing at his chest.
"Of course I do. I gave you directions outside this very building not too long ago, remember?"
Ryoga's eyes widened so far they popped out of his head, the only thing still keeping them in place being his incredulity. "Y-y-you're her?" He gulped. "You're the nice lady who helped me?" He stared at her some more, his eyes unable to leave her intense gaze. "Who did this to you?" He couldn't fathom that this woman could have changed so much in so short a time. Nobody should be able to go from pure sweetness to tempered steel in only a few weeks, it wasn't right.
Kasumi's eyebrow quirked up. "Did what to me?"
"Made you so... not nice anymore."
Kasumi's other eyebrow shot up to her hairline. "I'm not nice anymore? Of course I'm not nice all the time, nobody is. You just caught me at a time when I had to be less than perfectly serene."
Ryoga shook his head, knowing that something was off here. Something had changed about his Kasumi and he wasn't happy about it. For some reason he had a feeling that it was Ranma's fault, though how this could be he didn't have a clue.
"Yeah, you were definitely cold Kasumi," Nabiki muttered just loud enough for her older sister to hear.
Kasumi shot Nabiki a look. She wasn't sure what it meant but the girl had just discovered a technique and didn't want to get much harassment till she got it all sorted out.
"I'm sorry we won't be able to accomplish what we came here to do," Kasumi sighed. "I guess it wasn't such a good idea to have me come in first after all."
Nabiki shook her head no. "Don't worry about it sis. If you're 99% sure that I'm good to go, that's good enough for me."
Kasumi sighed again. "It's not good enough for me, though. I love you and I want to make sure everything is going to be perfect before I start subjecting you to the horrors of proper marital arts training."
Nabiki snickered. "You sound like you want to make sure I'm healthy simply so you can break me."
Kasumi giggled with her. "That's probably pretty close to the truth."
Nabiki stopped laughing.
"What's going on here?" Ryoga asked no one in general as he was still trying to wrap his mind around the glare that Kasumi had leveled him with.
Kasumi turned her attention back to the lost boy. "I was merely subduing a man in desperate need of mental help. No need to concern yourself."
Ryoga scowled again. This was most definitely not the same nice lady he had talked to before. He had to know what had happened to her, what had made her like this!
Thinking back on what had caused all of his problems Ryoga made a wild guess. "Ranma did this to you, didn't he? I always knew he was evil."
Kasumi jerked in surprise upon hearing that. She had no idea how Ryoga had known the truth but and wanted to find out. "Of course Ranma changed me, same as I changed him. I married him and people adapt, people grow. It's perfectly natural."
Ryoga fell over in shock. He was right! Ranma was responsible for this mess too! How could that one boy cause so much trouble? Reaffirming his mission to kill Ranma, Ryoga jumped up from the ground and struck a pose.
"I dedicate my life to killing the bastard known as Ranma Saotome! I will take his happiness, his life and anybody that associates with him in my quest for revenge!"
Kasumi's blue aura snapped into place around her body, scaring Nabiki badly. The elder sibling spared her sister an apologetic look before turning her full attention to the lost boy. He was still declaring promises to the heavens and hadn't noticed the brown-haired girl yet.
Ryoga had fallen into hysterical laughing when Kasumi walked up to him and punched him in the face. Ryoga flew backwards out through the entryway. Ranma's girlfriend quickly followed, Nabiki trailing behind.
Ryoga stood up and looked around in confusion. The only person that ever did that to him was Ranma, as he was generally the only one he knew that could hit hard enough to send him flying out of a building like that. Yet he had thought for sure a girl had done that to him, something Ryoga knew to be an impossibility.
Kasumi had contained her anger once again, only her eyes showing the incredible power that the woman was restraining. "What were you just yelling about Ranma?"
Ryoga blinked. "I was just listing all of his faults, and how much of an honorless bastard he is."
"That's what I thought," Kasumi said. She eased herself into an Anything Goes stance, obviously ready for a fight and spoke again, "I challenge you Ryoga Hibiki, for the honor of my beloved Ranma. Upon your defeat you shall apologize for everything that you've said this day and never darken my sight again until such time as you've become a respectable human being."
Ryoga stood there gaping in complete and total shock. Somebody was defending that honorless coward Ranma? He couldn't believe it. Beside's, it was a girl! No real martial artist fought weak and defenseless girls! Though the ones he had run into earlier were even stronger than him he managed to block that from his memory so his statement would still hold true.
"I don't fight girls," Ryoga stated, unknowingly mimicking his hated rival. While he didn't remember much about his parents that was the one thing that they had always told him during the short period he had been too young to wander far enough from home to get lost. Though he was selective in just about any moral stance he took, this was one of his stronger ones.
Kasumi scowled. She hadn't thought Ryoga would use her boyfriend's line. Now the question was how to get him around that mental block.
"Didn't you just hear her?" Nabiki asked from the side. Kasumi and Ryoga looked at her in surprise, not expecting to be interrupted in the prelude to a fight. "Kasumi just challenged your honor. You're a coward and a wimp if you don't even try and fight her. Obviously she knows what she's doing otherwise Kasumi wouldn't have challenged you. So are you saying that you're not good enough to fight her? That, because she's female, she's so much better than you that you don't even want to try and battle? Because that's what it sounds like to me."
Kasumi smiled her thanks to her sister as she saw the words were having an effect on Ryoga. His face was red and he was obviously having a mental argument as to which girl he should fight first. Kasumi answered that by allowing her full power to come to bear, the blue energy swirling around her body and causing her hair to swirl about her face.
Ryoga stumbled back in complete shock. He hadn't ever encountered someone as powerful as this girl before in his life! Ranma wasn't even close to this when they first fought, and Ryoga hadn't even started to bridge the gap in power from what he could do to what he was feeling before him. Not knowing anything else to do in situations like this Ryoga dropped into his stance, pulling his umbrella from his pack and holding it before him, wondering if his weapon would last through just the first exchange.
Kasumi let her trademark ghost smile appear on her lips as she and Ryoga slowly circled. Nabiki was spooked by that look. Ryoga, who had the expression directed at him, much more so. The middle Tendo daughter couldn't say what exactly it was but Kasumi just looked like she was about to suck the soul out of your body when she had that expression on her face.
Ranma had taught it to her. It was one of the ones he had learned while on his training trip, but the confident smirk was the one he always favored. He figured a quieter and more flowing fighter like Kasumi would work well with that ethereal expression, and he was right. His future wife fitted it perfectly.
Ryoga managed to contain his fear as he saw the expression the girl was directing at him. Maybe she really did like Ranma. She was certainly taking enough offense at him telling the truth about the pigtailed martial artist. He would have jumped in and shown her a thing or two about martial arts but the waves of power rolling off the girl was keeping him as far away from her as possible.
Knowing what was keeping the lost boy away, Kasumi stopped showing off and got serious. The aura around her was sucked up by her skin, giving her entire body a slight blue sheen to it that somehow made her seem even more beautiful. The temperature of the ambient air also dropped ten degrees, making Nabiki cross her arms tightly across her chest and huddle in on herself.
Ryoga got himself under control once he saw that it was just an intimidation trick and not something he had to worry about. "Hah!" He shouted, his mind still reeling that the impossibly nice and polite woman that had given him directions not too long ago was now going to fight him hand to hand. Ranma had much to answer for.
Kasumi could almost read his thoughts his face displayed them so clearly. Nabiki wasn't far behind but didn't have a full grasp of the situation, not really having known Ryoga beforehand. "Come," Kasumi beckoned. "If you wish to hurl insults at my beloved then only do so once I have been defeated."
Ryoga scowled, wondering just how this fight was going to turn out. This woman obviously had a lot of confidence in herself, something that Ryoga had learned wasn't a trait that should be scoffed at. That was only done once a victory had been obtained. He had been ridiculed by enough martial artist to know that confidence and arrogance was something that went with the territory. He never even considered the fact that, even through his depression, he himself always boasted of his skill, even as it was always below Ranma's.
"Come Ryoga Hibiki," Kasumi said quietly, "Come and see what awaits you."
Knowing her opponent wouldn't initiate an attack against a girl whom he had no reason to fear (yet) made Kasumi break from tradition and attack first. She seemed to float across the ground and appear before Ryoga, startling him.
Kasumi rotated her body, swinging her hips, torso, shoulders and finally her arm so as to amplify her weight and put as much force as possible behind her strike using a minimum of ki. She did it so fluidly and so quickly Ryoga was almost caught flatfooted. He brought his arms up just in time to block the strike, letting the tall girl's fist impact against his crossed forearms.
A loud crack sounded and Ryoga's fist's were shoved backwards so he punched himself in the face, the shock of it knocking him off balance and onto his butt. He stared up at Kasumi, disbelief on his face. Kasumi merely glanced down at him and resumed her stance.
"You underestimated ANOTHER martial artist Ryoga. I would recommend you not make that mistake again," Kasumi told the fallen boy.
"Geez, no kidding," Nabiki said from the side, having managed to warm herself up a bit since Kasumi had moved away from her. "How embarrassing to fall on your ass after just one punch from a girl."
Kasumi glanced over at her sister and sent her a smiled, tightly contained and carefully angled so Ryoga wouldn't be able to see it. Nabiki just felt better for some reason after getting such a thankful smile.
Ryoga leapt to his feet and resumed his stance, almost blind with rage having been humiliated by such a thin, soft spoken girl. "How could you be doing this? How could you be defending that coward Ranma?" He cried even as the pair started circling each other in preparation for another strike.
Kasumi could tell Ryoga was taking this fight seriously now, though she knew not whether it was from her punch or her sister's words. It didn't really matter, he would be defeated shortly anyway. "I do it because I love him, much the same as he loves me and would also prevent my name from being slandered."
"But nobody would do that to you! You were so nice and kind," Ryoga argued, sending a hard kick towards his foes midsection. Kasumi slid to the side and deftly avoided it. While his leg was still extended Kasumi grabbed his ankle and jumped over Ryoga, bringing his leg with her and flipping him over to land on his head.
Before he had a chance to leap back to his feet Kasumi plucked the umbrella from his grasp and tossed it away, embedding the weapon into a brick wall at the edge of their arena. Ryoga was rather surprised at her strength, but since Nabiki had no idea just how heavy that umbrella was she was merely impressed that such an object could become embedded into a wall at all.
Now at even more of a disadvantage Ryoga rolled away and stood once more. Determined not to lose this fight pretty much before it had even begun, and because he would have to take back all the bad things he had said about Ranma, Ryoga did his usual and charged in to the attack, going at full speed and hoping to surprise his opponent.
She was surprised all right, surprised at how slow he was before he had spent so much time fighting Ranma and increasing his speed in his desire to win. Easily avoiding the many blows heading her way Kasumi thought about what she wanted to do with this.
While not normally one to start a fight without a purpose in mind Kasumi had only thought to fight the lost boy into clearing her beloved's name. Now that she was in the thick of things she wanted to do something more. She normally tried not to get into a serious fight unless it would accomplish something more than just finding a winner. What kind of epiphany she could possibly give Ryoga she had no idea, but was determined to think upon it and hope something would present itself.
Nabiki noticed a man cycling down the street, a jug of water in one hand and using the other to balance a huge box of food upon the handle bars. Not wanting to get anybody else involved in the fight occurring the short haired girl scooted off to tell the man to go around another way.
Before she had gotten halfway there the bicyclist hit a rock and lost the food. Managed to recover the food by using his other hand to steady it while the first appendage helped and got the bike back on course. Unfortunately this caused the handle of the water to break, sending it arcing through the air to land heavily on the ground.
The container managed to hold together, however, and the man sighed with relief. Then he noticed the pair just to the side of the water exchanging blows at a phenomenal rate and was worried again. He just knew one of those two were going to kick his water or somehow break it.
Nabiki noted that her target had realized that danger himself and was hanging back, not needing her advice anymore. She turned her attention back to the fight just in time to see her sister perform another counter on her adversary.
Ryoga had been able to rip a bit of Kasumi's clothing, but that had been as close as he had come to striking her in the entire battle. He had tried everything he could think of to tag her with one of his devastating punches but the girl was too quick. He figured that with how much speed training she had obviously been through she must not be able to take a punch very well, his only advantage in the fight.
Kasumi knew what he was trying to do, since he was telegraphing his moves by putting so much power into the blows. His latest attack actually contained a bit of strategy, as he had tried to make her commit to a specific dodge which he could then ambush. Fortunately Kasumi was agile enough to dodge him anyway.
Thus Ryoga left himself wide open, frantically trying to get his balance back and his arms in a position to do him some good. Kasumi smiled and proceeded to beat the snot out of him. She closed in on him and brought her right knee up into his face, lifting the lost boy into the air. Once he had sufficient height she finished straightening her leg and knocked him in the side of his head, tumbling him in the air. Kasumi kept rotating and unleashed her other leg almost straight back, catching a now sideways Ryoga in the gut.
He folded in half around her limb for a moment before the force hurled him several feet away to tumble to a stop on his back. Kasumi remained motionless for a moment, leg extended before slowly bringing it down.
Ryoga lay on the ground gasping in shock, trying to contain the burning pain from getting hit so hard. Who would have ever thought a girl could hit that hard? Ryoga once again conveniently forgot about those girls from the bath.
Nabiki was impressed. She hadn't realized just how much her older sister was holding back when she had been tested the night before. It amazed her that she was in training to be able to fight at that level. She couldn't wait.
Ryoga finally managed to get back to his feet, though he was a bit hunched as he tried to get his stomach muscles to straighten out again. He wasn't sure how he was going to win this fight, since he had been going all out for a while now. He could always use HER, but he had sworn off doing so a couple years ago. He knew if he used HER she would somehow manage to twist whatever he said into something bad.
Kasumi didn't know about any of what Ryoga was thinking and gave him the couple of minutes he needed to recover. She was still trying to come up with a way to teach him a lesson besides the fact that she's a better fighter, but was drawing a blank. She was hoping maybe he'd come up with something himself, not having anything better at the moment.
Kasumi swept in to attack. Ryoga blocked and dodged frantically, knowing how much those blows hurt were they to land. Kasumi changed her tactics, merely going through the motions of her attacks, but not performing the final move, that of actually hitting her opponent. Ryoga was left guessing as to which attack she would be doing from a set of moves, and hoping that he guessed right.
More often than not he did, but he was wrong far to often to get away unscathed. Kasumi unloaded on him, striking harder than Ranma was capable of when she had first met him. Ryoga, not having any form of upgraded training than when Ranma had first met him, was easy prey for Kasumi.
During one such exchanged Ryoga took a wild swing when Kasumi strayed a bit too close and managed to tear her dress again, shredding it across the right half of her collar bone, almost exposing her chest. Kasumi scowled and the temperature dropped another ten degrees. Ryoga knew he had made a mistake but that had been a last ditch effort. His body was about to give out from all the blows the girl had landed.
Ryoga took a step back from Kasumi, the blueness of her having increased slightly. Seeing as how she just seemed to be standing there gathering energy or something Ryoga decided to try and do something to distract her. He dashed in, happy beyond words that she didn't react to his sudden movement. Drawing his left hand back he swung mightily at her stomach.
He never saw the small smile upon Kasumi's lips. His fist connected with an ear splitting crack. Everybody listening knew something had been broken in that moment, Ryoga more than anybody else. He looked down at his mangled hand in disbelief, still pressed against his adversary's torso, which hadn't even budged a centimeter from his blow. Another moment and the pain hit.
Ryoga screeched and jumped back, cradling his damaged hand. "How in the world...." He sputtered, not believing how hard her muscles were.
Kasumi had actually put a layer of ice on her skin, an instant shield. She and Ranma had developed it as an answer to Ryoga's Bakkusai training without giving up the sensitive skin. It seemed to work even better than what he had gone through.
"It's just training, Ryoga. If you got help for your condition instead of just blaming others you could do the same."
Ryoga scowled. He hated being ridiculed. He hated it more than anything else, and now the nicest person he had ever met was doing it to him! Making fun of his poor direction sense was never to be forgiven!
Ryoga dashed over to a wall and yanked his umbrella from it with his good hand, determined to use it to his advantage this time and not be disarmed so easily. Kasumi looked around her for something to use in defense, as she hadn't much experience fighting armed opponents. Seeing the jug of water on the ground Kasumi quickly grabbed it and took the lid off, happy to see that it was just big enough to fit her small hand through.
Ryoga saw her take hold of the water jug and lost most of his newfound drive to inflict pain upon his opponent. If everybody found out about his curse he couldn't live with that. To lose his manhood was the ultimate embarrassment. How she had known about it he didn't have a clue, but he had to get out of here before she managed to tag him.
Kasumi saw his panicked look and knew what he was thinking. Now she just had to see if this technique would work. It didn't the last time she had tried it, but she'd had some time to practice since then and hoped she would finally be able to tell Ranma about it. She so loved coming up with techniques, her future husband was ever so thankful for them.
Reaching a frozen hand into the water Kasumi manipulated her ki in ways that she hadn't ever tried before. She was attempting to ask the water to freeze in a certain way, and last time she hadn't been able to convince it. She knew she was close, she knew if she just did something a little different with her ki she would be able to get the water to do her bidding.
This time Kasumi got it right. When she pulled her hand from the jug a glittering ice sword was also pulled free. Nobody thought to question how it had managed to get out of the neck of the water jug, but they were too entranced with how beautiful it was to notice something like that.
Kasumi had a radiant smile on her face. She had just succeeded in something she had been working towards for some time now. It filled her with satisfaction at finally having accomplished it. She placed the jug back on the ground and gave her new weapon a few practice swings, liking the way it felt in her hand. Ryoga raised his umbrella and charged, hoping to catch his opponent off guard.
Kasumi saw him coming and met him, their weapons coming together with a loud crash. Ryoga was less surprised that she could match his strength given how hard she hit, but at the way her sword held. He had been able to break ice pretty easily for a while now and was startled that this chunk refused to even crack.
Kasumi was already experimenting with her new toy, sending her ki through it in all kinds of ways to strengthen and modify it's properties. Ranma had always gotten a bit annoyed when she did this, since she had a faraway look on her face and didn't look like she way paying any attention to the fight.
It was having the same affect on Ryoga, as he couldn't understand how a girl not even paying attention to her surroundings was easily deflecting all of his umbrella strikes. His hand was really starting to throb now and it was affecting how good he could fight. The lost boy pretty much knew he had lost this fight but he always tried to leave a lasting impression on his opponent before going down.
Kasumi knew her adversary was gearing up for something, but she had no idea what. He hadn't done anything like this before in the fights she had seen and been in with him and had no idea what to expect.
Nabiki was still staring at the ice sword. She couldn't get over how incredibly beautiful it looked. She had to get one of those for herself!
Having not been able to break his opponent's weapon Ryoga decided to try and slice it. Nabiki's eyes bugged out when she saw Ryoga pull his belt off. "What the hell is he trying to do here?" She said worriedly to herself.
Kasumi knew what he was trying to do and decided to see just how strong her sword was. Ryoga snapped his belt straight, making a sword of sorts. Knowing his umbrella would be useless now Ryoga tossed it aside to land next to his pack.
Nabiki wandered over and tried to lift it. She boggled as she recalled her sister easily tossing it into a wall. Just what kind of training was she going to be subjected to for results like this?
Ryoga and Kasumi charged one another again, their weapons meeting head on. Kasumi was happy to see that his belt had only put a small notch in her blade. Ryoga was startled as well, though he now knew that he would be able to take care of that weapon eventually. Then he glanced over at the jug of water and realized she would just be able to make a new one. A closer inspection of his belt revealed that it had been notched as well, to about the same level as the sword. Only trouble was his belt was much thinner than the sword and would perish first.
Realizing he had been pretty much beat except for his bandanna's Ryoga howled in frustration. "Argh! I wish I had the same training as you! Then I would be better, since I know I'm a better martial artist and man!" He shouted.
A moment later Ryoga realized what he had just done. "Oh shiAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!! Go away, I didn't mean to say that!" He was trying to run away from a small woman with wings, not more than six inches tall, who was flying after him.
"But darling, you said you would make a wish to bring me back! I know you wouldn't lie to me so this must be your way of doing it. After all, who can possibly resist the charms of the demoness Kaldea!?" A positively evil cackle followed.
Kasumi had no idea what was going on, never having seen something like this happen before. Nabiki was likewise frozen in shock. After having made a couple laps around the two girls the tiny winged woman threw a purple bolt of energy at Ryoga. It tangled his feet and he tumbled to the ground, trying frantically to untangle himself from the crackling purple rope of energy.
Kaldea slowly flew over to the still struggling Ryoga, obviously enjoying herself at having caught the boy. "Well now, let's go about granting that wish, shall we," She purred into his ear.
Ryoga grew pale as he knew he wouldn't be able to avoid what was coming next. Casting one last glance over at the two girls he firmed his resolve. "I swear I'll be back to get my revenge on Ranma!" He shouted right before a wave of purple energy from the little demoness washed over him and they were both gone.
Kasumi and Nabiki looked at each other, then at where Ryoga used to be, the only thing signifying his passage a faint blackened ring around his last position. "Well, I hope he learns something," Kasumi said at last.
Nabiki nodded in agreement, unable to think of anything to say.
Ranma stopped upon the fence and turned around. Akane smiled. "An opening!" She cried as she leapt at the pigtailed martial artist, right foot extended.
Ranma ducked and the girl flew over his head. He reached up and grabbed her waist, halting her forward progress. He straightened and Akane rebounded off his chest to land before him on the fence. Leaving his hands on her waist to keep her from running off Ranma spoke to distract her from the way he was holding her.
"What's with them?" He asked, gesturing with his chin at the array of boys standing just within the gates of Furinkan High School.
Akane forgot about what had just happened to her, and how pleasant it felt to be leaning back against Ranma like this, when she was reminded of her fan club.
"I hate boys!" She declared.
"Good thing I'm a man, then," Ranma said, wondering how the best way to deal with this would be.
Akane snorted. "You'd like to think you are."
"What, you don't think I am? I'm hurt," Ranma pouted.
"Will you let go of me so I can beat the crap out of them already?" Akane asked, her voice holding only slight annoyance.
"Let's get a few things cleared up first," Ranma said. "Why are you fighting them?"
"Because Tatewaki Kuno declared that if somebody wanted to date me they would have to defeat me in combat first."
"Do you want to go on a date with anybody in this school?"
"So why are you going along with this? When you finally lose you're going to be obligated to fulfil that part of the deal, since you've agreed to the rest of it."
"I'm not going to go out with anybody!"
"You had better if you lose, since you swore you would."
"I did no such thing!"
"By not protesting anything Kuno said you went along with everything he said, including the dating part. Do you consider yourself to be an honest person? Then you'll follow through on your words."
"But I didn't say I would go on a date if they beat me," Akane whined.
"Yes you did," Ranma told her forcefully. "By not protesting what he decreed, you agreed to all his conditions. If you don't want to be held to that, then you had better do something about it now before they wise up and manage to overpower you."
"Why do you think I'm going to lose?!?!" Akane wanted to know.
"If you do the same thing every day against this many opponents eventually one of them is going to wise up and figure out how to take you down, even at the loss of most of his forces."
"So what do you think I should do, Mr. Perfect?" The sarcasm was obvious in her voice, but Ranma could detect the hint of real worry buried under everything else.
"Tell them that his conditions don't meet with your approval, and refuse to have any part of this. Avoid them, don't fight them. Given what you've just been through this morning, you should be able to put that to practical use right now and avoid anything they can possibly dish out."
"And what happens after that doesn't work?"
"If they refuse to listen to you have an ultimatum. Tell them what you'll do to the first person that doesn't stop when you've told them to do so. If they continue, then do exactly what you've said. If THAT doesn't convince them then leave and get help."
"I don't like that plan," Akane said.
Ranma figured she would protest against the last part given her pride, and he could understand that perfectly. But he had to figure a way to get it ingrained in her head that asking for help wasn't the end of the world, and often had great results.
Ranma turned Akane around and looked into her angry brown eyes. "Akane, you must stand up for yourself. When you say something to people, they must know that you mean it or things like this will continue. You've protested this, haven't you?" He waited for her nod before continuing. "But that's just it, you've verbally protested it while you went along with it physically. You need to make a stand, and be unmovable in that stand. If this holds true then people will realize your a woman of your word and things like this will stop happening to you, especially from a group as easily intimidated as this bunch."
"Here's your chance, Saotome. Let's hope it doesn't blow up in your face," Akane said, surprising Ranma somewhat.
Akane jumped down off the fence and headed into the school grounds. Ranma stayed up on the fence and out of sight, wondering just how she was going to handle this.
The crowd realized their goddess was in their midst and surged foreword. Before they had even made it a full step Akane let out a bellow that halted them in their tracks, feet still raised in the air. "STOP!!!!!!!!"
The tableau held for almost a minute before Kuno stepped out from behind his tree. "What is thy meaning, Akane Tendo?"
Her glare increased tenfold upon seeing the upperclassman. "I order you to stop this nonsense at once!" She said very loudly and very clearly, making sure no one could claim they misheard her.
"I see!" Kuno proclaimed. "You wish to cut to the chase and dispense with these commoners so you might bask in the glory of my presence even sooner!"
"Kuno," Akane growled, "that is SO not it. When I decide to start dating, I will make SURE it's known to all those that I would ACTUALLY CONSIDER going out with. Since nobody here qualifies, don't expect to hear from me anytime soon."
Ranma heard a girl's voice from one of the upper windows, the one Nabiki had been standing in the first time he had been through this. "I wonder where the boss went? She's never late without telling us why."
"Surely you jest!" Tatewaki exclaimed.
"No, I'm completely serious," Akane replied. "And if anybody doesn't think I am you're going to get a couple of black eyes."
"This cannot be, for no maiden as fair as yourself could possibly resist the noble and handsome Tatewaki Kuno!"
"So, you agree to fight me for a date? Verily, I shall-"
"NO I DIDN'T SAY I WOULD DATE YOU IF YOU WON!" Akane screamed in obvious frustration. "I said stop going after me or I will beat the crap out of you!"
"This cannot be! Akane Tendo, fairest maiden of them all, refusing my noble advances?!?" Kuno was obviously baffled beyond his comprehension.
"Yes, Kuno, that's exactly what I'm doing. Along with all the rest of you as well. Whenever you guys grow up enough to interest me in a date, I'll ask you for one, got it?" Akane declared.
Ranma shook his head at that. He just knew she was going to regret having to ask that question later on in life.
Kuno wasn't about to take this without a fight, however. "Preposterous! What sorcery has enslaved you that I am no longer the pinnacle of manhood in your eyes? It has always been so, ever since we first met, and now you reject me as if I was a commoner. Foul play must be afoot! Fear not Akane Tendo, for I will get to the bottom of this plot and free you from your slavery!" The mad kendoist dashed off out the front gates, all thoughts of school forgotten in his quest to save 'his' Akane from whatever foul spell had caused her to turn away from him.
For her part, Akane just stood there dumbfounded at where the last place she had seen the Shooting Star of Furinkan High. Just how crazy was that boy? She wondered to herself. Turning around brought another shock, causing her to jump back a step. Ranma had appeared right behind her without a sound, startling the poor girl.
"Don't do that!" She shouted at him.
Ranma blinked. "You didn't know I was behind you? I was standing there for a good minute."
Akane scowled mightily. "Of course I didn't, otherwise I wouldn't have been startled."
"Oh." Ranma thought another minute before nodding his head. "Come along to class, Akane, we don't want to be late. And we'll have to work on that skill, too."
"What skill? Just don't sneak up on me anymore and we'll be fine."
Ranma shook his head in disappointment, something that wasn't lost on his longhaired companion. She knew she had said something that disappointed him, but for the life of her she couldn't figure out what. Maybe it would be best to just ask him during lunch, as they only had about a minute before classes started. She hurried after her sensei as he obviously knew what time it was as well.
"So, when are we going to try again? Or are we even going to?" Nabiki asked her older sister as they walked home from Tofu's clinic.
Kasumi turned her gaze to her little sister and eyed her as closely as she could. Nabiki tried her best not to squirm under the intense gaze, and was successful for the most part. Just a few twitches got through her control.
Kasumi giggled. "That was pretty good, Nabiki. I was actually checking for something else, but you have remarkable control of your body for not having practiced martial arts."
Nabiki glowed from the compliment, glad that her personal opinion had proven to be true. "So, what were you checking for?"
"I was just making sure of my assessment that you are fit enough to start training. I'm still a little worried about you, but there's nothing I can do about it now. Well, there probably is, but Tofu is the only Dr. whose skills I would trust enough to take them over my own."
The sisters walked on in silence for a short time before Nabiki asked a question. "So, when do I start?"
It was obvious to Nabiki that her older sibling had to drag her mind back from somewhere a long way off before she got a response. "Tomorrow. Ranma and I'll hammer out a training schedule for you tonight until you manage to surprise us and exceed it. In the meantime you'll need to go and get yourself a vest from a local business. Why don't we just do that now, as your examination didn't take nearly as long as I thought. Or Ryoga for that matter."
Nabiki's curiosity got the better of her once again. "So, what was he like on your first time through?"
Kasumi gave her sister a sly look. "Why? Think he's cute or something?"
The short haired girl spluttered. "What? NO! Well built, but as soon as he opens his mouth it just all goes wrong."
Kasumi threw her head back and laughed. It was a beautiful laugh, full and vibrant and feminine and very contagious. Nabiki found herself chuckling along despite herself. She hadn't EVER seen or heard her elder laugh like that.
"Oh, that was a good one, Nabiki-chan," Kasumi said once she finally managed to get herself under control again. "I'll have to remember to tell that one to Ranma."
Noticing that they had turned a corner and were now heading away from the dojo Nabiki asked a quick question. "So where is this shop, anyway?"
"It's not far. Only to Hitomi's neighborhood."
"Over by the car dealerships?! We don't have a chance of getting back before lunch if that's where it is."
A strange giggle escaped from Kasumi's lips. "Ah, that's what you think."
Ranma blinked and turned his head in the direction of the Tendo dojo. Akane noticed his expression and wondered what mystical martial arts technique this was. "Huh. Kasumi-chan's going to be a bit late with my lunch."
Akane boggled. How could he know that? They hadn't even gotten to the tree they had eaten at yesterday and already he was saying that she was going to be late. She hoped Kasumi wasn't to prove him wrong.
The youngest Tendo remembered what she had wanted to ask Ranma during lunch, but now that the time was upon her she couldn't find the courage to out and out ask him what he had found disappointing earlier that morning. Maybe if she approached it in a round about manner he would come upon it himself.
"You saw my morning fight. It was pretty good, huh."
Ranma realized he still had a long way to go with her given she was making that as a statement instead of a question to her sensei.
"Against people with no training whatsoever you actually managed to get caught once, almost hit twice and barely made it out of that hold. If any of them had even a bit of training you'd be putting on the makeup."
Akane scowled mightily. "What are you saying? You think I'm not very good you arrogant little,"
"No, you're not a very good martial artist, Akane, you're a decent one. If you continue with the same type of training as we performed this morning than eventually you'll improve yourself and become a good martial artist. Until that time simply watch and learn and sweat and strain until I say you're good enough to claim yourself a martial artist."
"And when would that be? Thirty years from now after I've finally gone through all the training you have?"
Ranma grabbed the girl and stared into her eyes, wondering where that had come from. From the surprise in her eye he knew that she had simply been pulling a number out of the air and not implying that he was from the future. "If it comes to that, yes. But you catch on quick, I don't think it'll take longer than a couple years for you to get up to par."
"Par with what?" Akane wanted to know.
Ranma had to think about that for a second. "A young man that you might like or hate, depending on how he presents himself this time around. Especially given your attitude about boys."
"Hmmph!" Akane hmmphed. "I don't have a problem with MEN, but boys are beneath my notice."
Ranma chuckled. "I can't stand little girls or boys either. I changed a bit after I matured. And you know what, Akane? Kasumi and I both know how much growing you need to do to become a woman instead of a little girl."
Akane obviously wasn't taking his criticism very well. Typical of her.
"You want to know what I was shaking my head about earlier today?" Ranma asked. Knowing the girl was hoping to hear his answer without having to show her interest Ranma answered before she had a chance to formulate a response. "How do you get better in martial arts? You realize that you have room for improvement and you strive to correct that deficiency. That's the purpose of a sensei, to show you were you're lacking and then teach you how to overcome it."
"Well you're certainly not that much better than me," Akane said. "I mean, you're the same age, how could you possibly consider yourself a master?"
"Akane, I trained at least 16 hours a day for over ten years, and much of it was a literal life and death struggle unless I increased my strength or speed by leaps and bounds. While you can't go back in time and relive your childhood to mirror my own, would you honestly want what I had to go through to achieve my level so soon? The same level you'll reach as any other gifted martial artist given more time?"
The girl was obviously torn, her mind going over her various friends in school, her experiences, her warm and comfortable bed, her family, that bit where he had mentioned life and DEATH struggles were pretty regular for his training. It was pretty clear in her minds eye that she didn't want to give up the comfortable life she had to be better in martial arts when she was already the top in Nerima, till Ranma showed up anyway. And that gifted bit meant she would get there even quicker than a normal master, right? She would have this licked in no time.
"You see?" Ranma said, having seen the mental struggle on her face. "If you just step up your training a bit more you'll see such an improvement. You have to push to really start seeing any big gains, and jogging in the morning followed by an hour of training after school isn't cutting it. If you want to look like a dedicated martial artist than you have to be a dedicated martial artist."
"I can be just as dedicated as you, Saotome," Akane declared. "Just give me a chance."
"Good to hear. Now, let's see if you can get your food from me or if I have to give it to you instead," Ranma said with a smirk.
Akane instantly lunged at him as fast as she could, her arm outstretched as she tried her absolute best to surprise Kasumi's beloved.
While Ranma was slightly surprised she had already come up with this strategy after only one day his physical reactions let him easily avoid the girl. A pout crossed her face briefly after her surprise attack failed, but it quickly turned to a scowl upon seeing Ranma's smirk.
"Good strategy against most people Akane, but when dealing with someone as good as me you've got to be more resourceful than that."
The long haired girl moved in close, her fists flying as fast she could go. Ranma was again surprised that she was ignoring her strength and going for all out speed, which was indeed what she needed. "Very good!" Ranma complimented her. "You've realized that you lack speed and are trying to compensate for that by ignoring your strength. Given that's the only thing you're good at, though, should you really be leaving it behind?"
The confusion was obvious in Akane's eyes, though it was quickly banished as the girl plowed ahead with her plan. Ranma almost laughed upon realizing what it was.
He allowed himself to get drawn into her intricate patter of strikes, knowing she was planning on using that to her advantage. Ahh, the joys of experience. Having had to go through all the things Akane was, only ten times worse, plus having gone back in time from the beginning of when he really started to mature mentally, he had an acute advantage that he planned to use to it's fullest for what he hoped would be a better end result than previously. Err, futurely. His future past. Alternate dimension history. Whatever.
Akane struck. Her right fist flashed by Ranma's face in a strike that probably would have hurt a bit if it had landed, and instead of arresting her movement to bring her arms to bear to block the counter strike that he would obviously have thrown given her wide open side she started to drop down into a foot sweep, to hopefully also avoid her opponents strike.
Ranma knew what she was really going to do and simply stood there, watching her as if she were in slow motion thanks to his amaguriken training. Instead of finishing her foot sweep Akane straightened and whipped her head around, her long, dark blue hair flying around to smack Ranma in the face and disorient him long enough for her to grab her meal.
Instead of giving her the results she wanted, Ranma jumped. Not over her like she would expect, but simply straight up. Indeed, as soon as Akane caught the lack of Ranma in the corner of her eye she stopped her rotation and waited for him to land in front of her, as her back was to her previous direction. A leg cocked back and her weight shifted slightly as she prepared a strong kick in the hopes he wouldn't be able to avoid it while landing.
"She certainly has a toned body," Ranma thought to himself as he soundlessly landed back on the ground behind his student (prey). Acting on a hunch to hopefully get her mind off her bodies negatives (small chest) and onto her positives (great legs and butt) Ranma reached out and pinched a buttock. Akane squeaked in surprise, obviously not having though him to be behind her when she had already turned around, and really not expecting to be pinched there.
She whirled around. "RANMA! Get your hands off of me!"
Ranma just smiled. "What are you so uptight about? People are going to grab you during fights in all sorts of inappropriate places. I should know, they've done it to me often enough in both my forms. While I'm not going to do that very often because I'm a married man, I'm going to keep doing it when you least expect it until you can ignore it and continue with the fight as a proper martial artist."
Akane was still glowering but had quickly realized the truth of his words. Even during her morning fights she had been having problems with that very thing, and since she knew she could trust Ranma, though she was loath to admit it, he was the only male on the planet besides Dr. Tofu whom she would allow to touch her. But if he ever tried that when they weren't training she was going to break him and Kasumi up so fast he'd wonder if he was in a time warp.
Seeing his words start to sink in almost brought a smile to Ranma's face, but he managed to control himself in time. He didn't want her to know just how much he was looking forward to seeing her beat the snot out of Ryoga in the near future. Besides, teaching her was kinda fun, and certainly rewarding given how fast she was picking things up and taking his words into consideration.
"Ranma!" Came a feminine cry in the distance.
"Kasumi-chan!" Ranma gasped, his head whipping around to the direction of the voice. A smile blossomed on his face that Akane was sure hurt. "She's here!"
"I'm going to go eat with my woman, you keep practicing and concentrate on ignoring distractions during a fight, either physical or verbal. We'll do some more after school." And Ranma was gone, a dust cloud going off into the distance showing his quick exit.
Akane shook her head as she easily caught the thrown bento. It amazed her how obsessed those two were with each other. It was times like these when she admitted to herself that there was almost no chance at all of her to break them up, unless a serious misunderstanding occurred that would hurt her older sister so much she knew it would never come to pass.
Deciding to take Ranma's words literally she opened her bento, grasped her chopsticks and started eating while running through a kata, doing her best to incorporate motions to get food to her mouth in the form. Rather surprised at how fun it was Akane got even more into it, increasing her speed and the difficulty of her kata to a level that she wouldn't have even dreamed of before Ranma's tutelage.
(END FOR NOW)