Sailor Moon Fan Fiction / Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction ❯ Happi's Redemption ❯ Back to Japan ( Chapter 11 )
[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
A Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction
By Michael A. Ivins
Ranma along with all of his friends, enemies and acquaintances are the property of Takahashi Rumiko. I'm just borrowing them for my own amusement and hopefully that of my readers. Sailor Moon and the Senshi aren't mine either. Please don't sue me.
This story takes place after the end of the manga
Back to Japan
When they got up, Ranma and Noriko dressed and packed everything except the clothes they were wearing. They put on their packs then Ranma picked up one suitcase, Noriko picked up the other. Noriko was able to put the tube with the ki flow chart through one of the straps on Ranma's pack. When they got down the stairs they found Lo Shen and Po Shen waiting for them. They had gotten up early to see their guests off.
They ate a cold breakfast that had been prepared the day before. There were hugs all around.
As they stood in the living room to give their final goodbyes, Ranma took off the curse lock ring and held it out to give to Lo Shen. The elder said, “That's alright. You can keep it.”
“Huh." Ranma was confused. "Won't you need it?”
The Elder explained, “We don't need these rings so much in our village anymore. The Joketsuzoku have lots of them, so it wouldn't be hard to replace this one if we did need it. Since your girl form is younger than your male form you might want to use the ring to lock yourself as a female at times to get your forms caught up with each other.”
Ranma frowned while considering that, thinking about the sorceress she was going to visit when they got back to Japan. “Would it still work if I got my curse trigger changed to will power?”
The older woman smiled and said, “Yes, it would still work. While wearing that ring you wouldn't have to worry about the curse changing you without willing it.”
The redhead pocketed the ring and said, “When I get back to Japan I'll get a chain so I can wear it around my neck when I don't have it on my finger. That way I'll never lose it.”
The Matriarch nodded. “That sounds like a good idea."
The matriarch sighed. "In the short time you have been here I've started to feel toward you two as if you are more granddaughters. I want to know what happens to you so, please don't forget to write.”
Ranma wiped at the corner of her eye and said, “I think we'd better get going or I'm going to start crying. I don't want to do that.” She was still laboring under the mistaken belief that it was unmanly to cry.
Lo Shen refrained from comment as the two girls walked out the door. Parked out in front of the house there was a pick up truck that looked to be about 40 years old. In spite of the vehicle's age it appeared to have been lovingly maintained and was in excellent condition. A woman with gray-fringed green hair, who appeared about the same age as the truck, stood there.
Ranma asked, “Are you Mas Cara?”
The older woman nodded. She flipped up the corner of a tarp that covered the truck bed in back. “Yes, that's me. You can put your stuff back here.”
When the girls had placed their belongings in the back of the truck the older woman fastened the corner of the tarp down . “Good! That's got the cargo secure. Let's go.”
She got in the driver's side of the truck's cab, while Ranma and Noriko climbed in the passenger side. There was enough room for all. Although standard equipment for trucks of this vintage didn't include safety belts, someone had installed them. Mas explained, “The road gets kind of bumpy in places.”
The green haired woman started the engine. It would appear that the truck had been lovingly maintained indeed. It started up quickly and ran with a low throated purr. The driver checked to make sure her passengers were secure in their seats then put the truck in gear.
Mas Cara was not much of conversationalist. The majority of the trip was made in silence. She would make an occasional comment about the route and warned when they were coming up on one of the bumpy sections. Having heard the stories of her passengers through rumor and gossip, she didn't feel compelled to chatter about it while they were driving.
When they got to the next village they went straight to the airstrip. There was only one runway. The plane they were going to take was parked to one side. This plane was also old, but like the truck it had been expertly maintained. The pilot appeared to be a man in his 50's who kept in good shape. When Ranma handed him the letter from Lo Shen he looked at it with a sour expression.
He shook his head then his expression cleared. The plane did have seats for passengers, it was just that he generally didn't like carrying them. He couldn't refuse them, though. The Amazons had been customers for decades. Also, it didn't hurt that the passengers that the Elder asked him to carry were two beautiful young women.
The pilot told the girls, “You can call me Chen.” He was surprised when the girls offered to help out by carrying the crates to the planes. The younger of the two didn't look strong enough to even be carrying the backpack she was wearing.
His eyes went wide when he saw the redhead and blonde each pick up one of the crates. They didn't even seem to be straining under the weight. Well, he guessed that he wouldn't be asking either of the girls for a date when they got to the capitol. It was just as well, he supposed. They were both rather young for him.
Since the girls were so willing to help out, he was willing to accept that help. He directed each girl where to take the crate she was carrying. After the crates were set down in the cargo space at the rear of the plane he set to work securing them with straps while the girls went to get the other two crates.
After they had brought the second pair of crates in and set them down, the girls secured their luggage in some cargo netting in the back area. While they were doing that Chen told them, “We'll be in the air at lunch time. I'm sorry I wasn't expecting passengers, so I don't have any food for you.”
Ranma smiled, not realizing how cute she looked. She said, “That's no problem. We brought some food with us. We were expecting to supply our own food on the trip. As it is we're going to have to conserve our money when we get to Beijing. We were originally expecting to hitch hike part of the way and go by train the rest of the way. This will get us where we need to go much faster.”
He nodded. “That was very generous of the Elder to send you with me.”
The redhead shrugged. “I think it was just a coincidence that the timing worked out like it did. We were lucky to be able to leave when they were sending a shipment of tea. If things had worked out differently, we might have ended up walking to this town to try and hitch a ride from someone who was going the way we wanted.”
“Hmm.” He grunted. “At least this will get you to the capitol quicker.”
Noriko said, “We have tickets for a flight to Tokyo. Getting to Beijing faster means we'll have time to kill when we get there. I guess we can do some sight seeing or we could try to arrange an earlier flight.”
The younger girl looked thoughtful. “Getting to Tokyo earlier might be a good idea. It would be before people are expecting us and we might be able to do some stuff before my family starts up their usual crap.”
The blonde nodded. “Yes. When we get to the airport, we'll have to talk to the people at JAL about getting an earlier flight.”
With the cargo secured and the passengers in their seats, the pilot began his checklist for departure. When he had that done he radioed for clearance and received it. He taxied the plane onto the runway and took to the air. When he was in the air he put the plane on course and turned on the autopilot. Although the plan was old, he had kept it well maintained and he had installed a newer autopilot.
He turned to his passengers and told them, “Ladies, we're on our way. I'm sorry if I gave you the idea that I wasn't glad to have you traveling with me. You can just chalk it up to me being a grumpy old man.”
Noriko laughed heartily at that. “I can understand being a grumpy old man.”
Chen looked at the young blonde. He ventured the only thing he could think of, “You took care of your grandfather?”
Still laughing she replied, “Something like that. I know what old people can be like. You aren't that old yet.” She couldn't tell the man what she really did know of how old men were. She had an unusual perspective on that situation.
The pilot smiled. They both seemed like nice girls. As the flight progressed they chatted about thing of no consequence. After a while Ranma got up from her seat and pulled a book out of the suitcase. It was a book on herbal medicine that Dr. Rinse had an extra copy of and had given to Ranma to further her studies.
Noriko took a martial arts technique scroll to study and Chen listened to music on a portable cassette player he had in the cockpit. They ate lunch partway through the flight. It was fairly late when they landed in Beijing. The airport where they landed was the same one where they were scheduled to leave in four days.
The two girls helped offload the cargo then bid the pilot farewell. They made their way over to the terminal building and got to the ticket office of JAL. They showed their tickets and talked to the clerk. It took some argument, but they were able to exchange their tickets for new ones on a flight that was leaving the following evening.
From there they found their way to a hotel that still had a room available. It was nearly midnight when they finally got to bed. The next morning they ate a hearty breakfast in the restaurant then went to a bank. Noriko got the Chinese bank to contact her bank in Switzerland and transfer funds to her. Then they went to the airport where they rented a locker to store their belongings until they were ready to leave.
They spent the rest of the day moving around the city, basically sightseeing. Ranma thought about looking for a computer at a library to send an email to let Nabiki know she and Noriko would be arriving early, but decided against it. There might be an advantage to being back in Japan before any of the “Nerima Wrecking Crew” knew they were there.
That evening Ranma and Noriko went to the air terminal to pick up their luggage and to get their belongings cleared through airport security. Nabiki had the foresight to have the stamps for the trip from Japan to China already marked in the Passport. This was so the officials at the airport wouldn't get suspicious and check on them. Instead they just stamped their passports for the return flight.
The plane took off at 11:05 PM. Due to the late hour, Ranma and Noriko both slept the whole way just as they had on the trip out from Japan. The flight attendant woke them when they were coming in for a landing. After clearing their belongings through customs they went in search of a hotel.
After arriving in their room, Ranma changed back to male form. When he did so he confessed to Noriko, “I had spent so much time in girl form, I was worried that I'd get a period. I've been through them before but they're never pleasant. If I'm male at `that time of the month' I still tend to feel sort of sick and moody. Nothing like how I feel if I'm female at the time. I've also found out something about that. If I actually start a period, I have to stay female through the whole thing. Changing to male during a period makes me so sick that I have to change back to female right away.”
Noriko shook her head. “Thanks for reminding me. Since I was a baby when I became male, I was too young to ever have gone through a period. Considering the physical age of my body, I'm suspecting my first one will be bad.”
Ranma patted her shoulder. “Since I've been through it, I know what it feels like. I'll give you any help I can.”
The pigtailed boy didn't notice the intensity of the look Noriko gave him. She placed her hand over the one on her shoulder and said, “I know you will. You're a good person Saotome Ranma. Helping people is a part of your character. I think that's why you want to be a doctor now.”
The black haired boy looked at the floor for moment. He chuckled softly before saying, “You're probably right about that. By the way, how do you feel about losing the heir to the Anything Goes School to the practice of medicine?”
The blonde woman shrugged. “I'm young again. I can find a new heir. Besides, it's not like you will be giving up martial arts completely. You plan to be like that Dr. Tofu and still keep up at least some of your training.”
He nodded. “That's true. What did you have in mind to do today?”
The girl said, “I thought we would look up Ninomiya Hinako. I have an apology to give her. You also want to tell her of your decision of what field of study you want to go into and to possibly discuss some ideas to further that study.”
The boy smiled. “If anyone is likely to want to help me it's her. Do you know any way to help her?”
The blonde sighed deeply. “She's someone I have mixed feelings about. By teaching her the technique to drain ki, I saved her life. She was such a sick child that she would have died without the energy she could drain from people. But it turned her into a social outcast. She's lived a terribly lonely life and it's my fault.”
A thought occurred to Ranma. “Maybe that sorceress in Juuban would know a way to turn Ms. Hinako normal. At least it wouldn't hurt to ask her.”
“True, it wouldn't hurt,” Noriko conceded. “Today is Friday, a school day. We should plan to go to Hinako's apartment to visit her there after school. Tomorrow, school is a half day. I was thinking that would be a good time for you to head over to that book store and talk to the sorceress.”
Ranma looked confused. “Since I'm withdrawn from school for now, why would tomorrow being a half day in school make any difference?”
Noriko said, “I think I should be the one to make the offer of buying a yattai for Miss Kuonji. I would be less likely to get sidetracked by emotional arguments. And you know she will pull the `I'm the cute fiancée,' argument. Besides that I won't be able to talk to her until she gets home from school.”
“I don't know…”
The blonde leaned forward to look Ranma in the eyes. “If you go there and try to tell her that to you she'd just a pal, a buddy, you'll never be able to do it. You will be so afraid that you'll hurt her feelings that you won't be able to get the words out. I'll be as gentle as I can, but in your heart you know you aren't going to get clear of that engagement without hurting her to some extent.”
Ranma's head sagged as he studied the nap of the carpet on the floor of the hotel room. “I know you're right. I just hope there'll be a chance of salvaging the friendship after that.”
The girl took one of Ranma's hands in hers. “I suspect that you will need to give her at least a few days to work her way through it. I'd recommend that you go talk to her next week. That way she'll have a little time to get used to the idea and you can confirm that what I tell her is how you really feel.”
He gripped her hand gently. “Ok, I'll let you talk to her tomorrow. I'll plan on going by her restaurant on Thursday or Friday next week. We'll have to see how things go with everyone else. After all, there is the chance that my wanting to be a doctor will make my Pop disown me. If that happens, it's pretty much all bets off.”
She shook her head. “If Genma disowns you, then he's a bigger idiot than I thought he was.”
Even though the subject was serious, he couldn't help laughing at that. “Yeah, that's my Pop. One of the biggest idiots in the world if not the biggest.”
Noriko let go of Ranma's hand and stood up. "We sort of missed breakfast so what do you say we go get something to eat? We can do a sort of brunch.”
They headed downstairs to the restaurant in the Hotel. The food was adequate, but not exceptional. While they ate Noriko entertained Ranma with tales of her life as Happosai. She was able to put a humorous twist on her telling of the stories so Ranma was getting a good laugh.
After they had finished the meal, Ranma commented, “I don't know why you changing to a girl has made such a difference, but you're fun to hang out with now.”
The blonde blushed cutely. “Why thank you, Ranma. It's very nice of you to say that. You're fun to hang out with too.”
Her manner sobered as she said, “I have to get in touch with some lawyers. I have to get them working on making Tendo Noriko the official heir of all of Happosai's business dealings. I also have to have Happosai declared legally dead. There is paperwork that I need to do to have my current form legally made the Grand Master of Anything Goes. Once that is done I need to see about getting you a teaching certificate.”
Ranma sat back against the cushioned back of the booth. “Wait, where did that last part come from? Me, certified to teach? Are you saying that I'm qualified to be a master of Anything Goes like Pops or Mr. Tendo?”
Noriko shook her head. “There are a few things I want to teach you first. I also want to test you on what you already know. I still want to have the paperwork ready.”
“But I'm not even sure if I want to teach martial arts anymore,” Ranma protested. “I want to be a doctor.”
The girl gave a gentle smile, “That doesn't mean you don't deserve to be recognized for what you have already achieved. I seem to remember you saying you could `kick your Pop's butt any day of the week.' I'd say that was a pretty good indication that you have reached a level of mastery equal to his or better. With the way Soun's let his skills atrophy you are his superior in the Art right now.”
“We're going to have to work on your vocabulary if you hope to be a doctor,” The blonde said. “It means to dry up or shrivel away from lack of use. I'm sure Soun still knows how to do all the old techniques, but I doubt he could still do many of them without some intense training. Another way of saying it is that he's out of practice.”
Ranma nodded. “I know what you mean. From what he and the girls have said about her, his wife must have been a wonderful person. But he went from living to just surviving. It was bad for him and bad for the girls. If Kasumi and Nabiki hadn't stepped in to take over stuff he should have been taking care of, they'd probably be living in the streets now.”
He sat silently and thought for a moment. “Well, maybe while I'm studying to be a doctor I could teach kempo to earn money for college. So I guess a teaching certificate would be a good idea after all.”
“That's the spirit!”
The pigtailed martial artist smiled. “Tell you what. While you're doing your legal stuff, I'm going to take that book list that Dr. Rinse gave me to the library. I can see which of the books they have there and get in some reading. If there's time after that I can go practice in a park near here. We can plan to meet back here at 3:00 then roof hop over to Ms. Hinako's apartment.”
They agreed and headed off to their respective tasks. It was in the afternoon that Ranma and Noriko met back up. Ranma was dressed in his preferred kung fu pants and sleeveless red shirt and Noriko was dressed in a Chinese pantsuit that provided plenty of freedom of movement. She wished she felt daring enough to wear one those short dresses she had seen Shampoo wearing.
Ranma had done his study in the library and had brought two books back with him. He would drop them off back at the library in the morning. Noriko had brought papers from the lawyer. While the matter of having herself legally declared the heir of her former male self was not settled, at least the legal machinery was set in motion. The final disposition of all of it might take as little as two weeks or it could drag on for months.
From the hotel they took a train to Nerima. From the train station the roof hopped to end up in the street in front of an apartment complex. In short order they were ringing the doorbell at an apartment on the fourth floor.
The door was answered by the diminutive form of an eight year old little girl in a loose fitting yellow dress. She looked up and said, “Saotome Ranma, you're back? When did you get back? But why did you come to see me at home?”
Before Ranma could make a reply to the hyperactive little girl, she noticed the blonde and said, “Who's this with you? She's really pretty. Is she your girl friend? I thought Akane was your fiancé. What's she going to think about this?”
Ranma held his hands out. When the little teacher took the hint and fell silent, Ranma said, “This is Noriko. She's a friend and she's a girl, but she's not a girlfriend. She wants to talk to you, but I have some things I need to tell you too.”
With an effort the little girl calmed herself and sat on a chair, gesturing her guests to sit on the couch. When everyone appeared comfortable Hinako asked, “What did you want to tell me, Ranma?”
The pigtailed martial artist asked, “Have you heard the story of my training journey?”
The little girl frowned. Even frowning she looked cute. She said, “Your father stole you from your mother when you were a little child and took you away to learn martial arts.”
The black haired boy nodded. “That's right. At the time my father never bothered to find out if Martial Arts was what I wanted to do. He just assumed it. By the time I got my sex-changing curse, I didn't know anything else and thought the Art is what I really wanted to do.”
While in her child form the small teacher didn't always have the best attention span. After asking her guest to wait, she went into her bedroom and came back shortly in adult form, carrying a fishbowl. In that bowl were two Siamese fighting fish. By draining their fighting spirit she was able to stay adult for as long as she wanted to. She had found that staying adult all of the time wasn't the best thing because her childish side tried to break through. Now that she could turn her adult intellect on what she was hearing, she noticed something about the phrasing of what Ranma had been saying. She asked, “Did you find out that you want to do something else?”
Ranma nodded. “Yeah. I'll never completely abandon martial arts because it's been such a large part of my life. But I don't want it to be the only thing in my life anymore. I recently had the chance to help out at a medical clinic while I was in China. I found out that I liked it and the way I was helping people. I also found out that I have a real talent for it.”
“Oh!” The woman looked surprised. “Are you saying you want to be a doctor?”
The boy with the pigtail smiled. “That's right. I know that's going to be hard with all the school I've missed and the bad grades I've gotten, but I want to try.”
The long-haired brunette said, “Part of the reason I was so upset when you withdrew was because of how greatly you had improved in your scholastic performance since the wedding with Akane went bad. With the effort you were putting in and the results you were producing I could tell you really are smarter than you ever let anyone believe.”
The young man confessed, “Before I was focused only on becoming the best martial artist. But I came to realize that wasn't enough. If I were to run a dojo I needed to know how to teach. I also needed to know how to run a business. If I tried to run a dojo with the sorry state of my education like it was, I'd be completely broke in a year or less.”
Before Ms. Hinako could comment, he went on, “What I did was to treat my classes as if they were a martial arts challenge. I approached my classes like they were opponents I was preparing to fight. And it worked. I started staying awake in class, I started catching up on the stuff I missed by being on the road all those years.”
His expression grew grim. “With my past, I know becoming a doctor will be hard. I will approach that challenge just the same as I've gone at learning what I'd need to run a dojo. I'll work hard.”
The educator was impressed. She could easily believe that Ranma would apply his formidable learning abilities to the task. If he went into the study of medicine with even a fraction of the determination he had applied to martial arts, he would become a wonderful doctor.
Hinako said, “Thank you for telling me this, Ranma. I'll give what help and tutoring I can. I'll find other tutors to help you. I think you'll make a great doctor.”
He bowed his head in gratitude. After a moment he said, “There was a reason why Noriko is here with me today. Did you notice anything familiar about her?”
“Familiar?” She thought about it. She looked at the blonde haired woman. The thought that came to her now seemed impossible. “No, that can't be.”
Noriko bowed her head and said, “I'm the `sick friend' that Ranma went to help. I was dying and the only thing that could save me was some of the same water that gave Ranma his curse.”
The brunette shook her head, “Are you trying to tell me that the old, perverted man who made me into an age-changing ki vampire is now a teenaged girl?
When both of her guests nodded, she leaned back in her seat. Finally she said, “That seems oddly ironic. But why have you come here? I can understand Ranma and the news he had.”
Noriko bowed her head. “When I first taught you the ki draining technique I felt proud that I had actually done something good. I had saved a life. Then I learned that by doing so I had condemned you to life of loneliness as an outcast from society, I felt guilty. If there were a different way I could have helped you, I would. If there were some way I could make it so that your adult form was your only form, I'd do that.”
Hinako just stared at her guest. She wasn't sure what to say.
Ranma broke in, “I'll help you too, if I can. I am not only going to study modern medicine. I will be studying herbal medicine, ki healing and magic healing. If there is anything in those disciplines that will help you, I will search them out for you.”
The educator smiled. With such a kind and giving soul, Ranma would indeed be a good doctor. She didn't think the cure for her condition would be so easily found, but she was grateful that there would be people looking.
She decided that she would play hostess. She asked, “Would you care for tea? I'm sorry I can't offer you cookies. I can't keep any in the apartment. When I'm a little girl I just gobble them down without a thought.”
“I've got an idea.” Ranma suggested, “Why don't we take you out to dinner. I'm sure you must get tired of your own cooking.”
The brunette woman smiled ruefully. “As a little girl I usually limit myself to heating up pre-packaged foods. When I try to make anything fancier, I have accidents and hurt myself.”
Ranma could understand that. Before they could get out the door, Ms. Hinako reverted back to her child form. They went out to have a pleasant dinner. They chatted about a lot of things while they ate.
When they dropped her back at her apartment, the little girl knew enough not to get her hopes up. Ranma and the rejuvenated Happosai didn't say they had any potential cure for her. They had only promised to give what help they could. Such a cure could take years to find or they might not ever find it at all. At least Happosai was a much nicer person as a girl.
After the travelers got back to the area of the hotel, they went to the park to spar. They picked an area that wasn't often visited to reduce the chance of people being hurt.
After a good workout the two martial artists returned to the hotel and went to bed.
Author's Note: Back in Japan and starting in the effort to set things right. Yes, coming back early was a good idea. Coming up Ranma will visit the sorceress in Juuban and on the way will run into the Senshi. Do they give autographs?