Sailor Moon Fan Fiction / Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction ❯ Happi's Redemption ❯ The Schools Won't be Joined ( Chapter 16 )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Happi’s Redemption
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.

Chapter 16
The Schools Won't be Joined

As they stood on the roof across the street from the Nekohanten, Noriko glanced back toward the Chinese restaurant and asked, “You seemed in a bit of a hurry to get out of there. What there a reason?”

Ranma nodded. “I thought of something on the subject of where to stay. You were saying that you own a lot of land with a lot of buildings on them. Do those include any apartments?”

Noriko's eyes went wide. Why hadn't she thought of that? She replied, “Lots of them. Quite a range, in fact. In the buildings I own there are apartments ranging from high level luxury apartments to the most basic studio apartments with little space. If you need a place to stay, it shouldn’t be any trouble.”

“Good,” he affirmed. “That’s one less problem on my mind.” He leapt to the roof of the next closest building in the direction of the Tendo Dojo.

It was not long before they touched down on the walk between the gate and the front door of the Tendo home. This was the same spot where Happosai had been lying when his ki had run out. Ranma dreaded the coming confrontation more than any other.

Carrying their belongings with them, they stepped through the door and Ranma called out, “We’re home.”

Kasumi came to genkan, wiping her hands on a towel. “Oh, Ranma. Nabiki told us you wouldn’t be back until tomorrow.”

“We got an earlier flight,” Ranma explained.

The eldest Tendo daughter bowed and said, “Welcome back. This must be Noriko. You are every bit as beautiful as your picture. I’m happy you were able to accomplish your mission.”

Noriko smiled and bowed her head. Nobody could make one feel welcome like Kasumi could. It was partly because of this attitude that Happosai had never groped the oldest Tendo girl.

By this time the rest of the family was crowding around the door. Ranma noted the sour expression on Akane’s face and wondered, “What crawled up her butt and died?’

Frowning, Nabiki asked, “Your flight wasn't due in until tomorrow. What’s the story, Saotome?”

Ranma shrugged and said, “The next village over from the Amazon home where we were staying had an airstrip. We hitched a ride on a plane that was carrying a cargo of tea leaves all the way to Beijing. From there we were able to get an earlier flight to Tokyo. We’ve actually been in town since Friday.”

Nodoka sounded a little hurt as she said, “You should have called when you got back.”

Genma demanded, “What have you been doing since you got back, boy?”

Noriko spoke in an authoritative tone, “He’s been with me. We had business to take care of and didn’t need the two of you interfering. Soun, Genma, make no mistake, the package may be different, but I’m still your master.”

Recognizing the tone, the two older men bowed and said, “Sorry Master.”

Kasumi said, “Ranma, Grand… I mean Noriko, dinner is almost ready. I’m sorry, but I didn’t know you were coming so I didn’t prepare enough.”

Ranma shrugged and said, “That’s Ok, Kasumi. We can scrounge something from what’s in the refrigerator.” He knew better than to look for leftovers. With a human food vacuum like Genma in the house, there was little likelihood of anything being left over after any meal.

They moved into the living room and sat down. Ranma looked over at his fiancé and said, “Akane I brought something for you.”

With an angry scowl, the girl with the black hair retorted, “Why would I want anything you’d have to give me?”

Ranma frowned. He asked in plaintive tones, “I’ve been gone for almost a month. I haven’t even been here to do or say anything to insult or bother you. What can you possibly be mad at me for?”

“Yes, you’ve been gone, alone with that person.” She stood up and pointed dramatically at Noriko. “The most perverted man in Japan now has a female body. Who knows what kinds of perverted things she’s been doing to that body and what perverted things the two of you have been doing together.”

Why does she always assume that kind of stuff about me?” Ranma wondered.

Before he could say anything in his defense, Noriko stood up and demanded, “Akane sit down! I don’t know why you imagine things like that, but I can tell you that while we were traveling together Ranma and I never did anything remotely sexual together. He was a perfect gentleman. As for what I do with my own body, perverted or otherwise, I don’t see where it’s your business or anyone else’s. Just as whatever you do with your body is none of my business.”

“So you don’t deny doing hentai things with your body!” Her ki mallet formed in her hand.

Now angry Ranma said, “Akane, if you don’t stop acting like this, I won’t give you the autographs I got from the Sailor Senshi.”

Mallet-Sama disappeared. Akane’s head snapped around as she looked at Ranma, wide eyed. “Autographs? From the Sailor Senshi? You’ve met them?”

Ranma gave an amused snort. “Yeah, when I was in Juuban yesterday. I even fought monsters with the Inners. Three of the Outers got there just as a rain shower hit and when they saw me change they thought I was a monster and attacked me. Sailor Pluto stopped them.”

The boy thought Akane’s eyes would pop out of their sockets from her opening her eyes so wide. He pulled his notebook out of stuff space and tore the page from it. He handed the sheet to Akane.

In a whisper she read the page. “’To my biggest fan, Akane, signed Sailor Moon.’ ‘For love and justice – Sailor Mars,’ ‘Keep fighting the good fight – Sailor Jupiter.” She fell silent with her lips mouthing the names as she read over the sheet.

Ranma laughed, “It turns out that Sailor Jupiter is a major martial arts otaku. She’s heard of me and said she was a fan.”

Akane looked slightly astonished. “Sailor Jupiter is a fan… of yours?”

The boy nodded. “She wasn’t the only one. Sailor Uranus was too.”

The youngest Tendo was looking a little overwhelmed. A little uncertainly she asked, “Sailor Uranus?”

“Yeah, you know tall, short blonde hair, sort of butch looking.” Ranma clarified.

The dark haired girl nodded dumbly.

Ranma looked at her and commented, “I thought so when I saw her, but you look a little like Sailor Mercury. Her face and hair are a lot like yours. She’s not as athletic as you, though.”

“I do?” She recalled the pictures of Sailor Mercury and thought, “Maybe I do.”

Thinking back on the meeting, the pigtailed martial artist shook his head. “When I looked at the pictures you have, I didn’t think it was possible for women to have hair like Sailors Pluto or Neptune. Pluto’s is dark green and Neptune’s is light blue. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after seeing the colors on some of the Amazons. Saturn’s hair is a darker purple than Shampoo’s.”

Akane was too dazed to respond to the mention of Shampoo’s name. She stared at the piece of paper in her hand. Ranma had actually met her heroes. He was probably just bragging about fighting monsters with them, but to have actually met them. Instead of anger, she felt jealousy.

At that moment Kasumi carried the first of the food to the dining table. Everybody took that as a cue to stop talking and go eat. They moved to the dining table.

Ranma and Noriko were served sandwiches that Kasumi had whipped up. Ranma smiled and thanked her. During the meal Akane chattered on and on about the Senshi and things she had heard about them.

When they adjourned back to the living room, Noriko stood up and went to the middle of the room. She bowed in Kasumi's direction and said, "Thank you Kasumi. I'm sorry we just dropped in on you without any notice. The sandwich was excellent."

She looked around and said, "Now that we've all eaten, I hope everyone is in the mood to listen. There is a need to clear the air on a number of subjects. Questions need to be asked and answers given. The first point is my identity. I was the man you knew as Happosai. When I changed, I didn’t want to keep that name or any variation of it. Instead I took the name of my friend and mentor Noriko.”

Nabiki frowned and asked, “Wasn’t she also the witch who cast the spell and curse on you?”

The blonde nodded. “I forgave her for that. Soun, I hope you don’t mind that the name I chose was Tendo Noriko. Like I said before, you people here are the closest thing I have to a family nowadays.”

The martial artist with the mustache frowned and asked, “Are you going to ask me to adopt you as my daughter?” It was obvious from his expression and tone that he was dreading the answer.
Noriko raised her eyebrows. In a sweet, girlish tone she said, “Why Soun, that’s a wonderful idea." She paused then smiled and followed by saying, "But no, you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. I would be honored to be your daughter, but would settle for being a cousin or your niece or something like that. Maybe we could tell people I'm a distant cousin from a branch of the family you had previously forgotten about.”

The long haired man looked relieved and nodded. “That might work.”

The young woman standing in the middle of the room said, “Does anyone dispute the fact that I am (or at least was) Happosai?”

When there were no challenges to her identity she let out a sigh of relief. “Good. I could have stolen a couple of bras as proof but I don’t really like doing that anymore.”

She turned and said, “Soun, Genma, I feel that I owe you both an apology for the more extreme training methods I used on you. Don’t think this means I’m offering to be your slave or anything to atone.”

Her expression was stern and she didn't give them time to speak before continuing, “Even with that said – Boys I’m sorry but you have been a disappointment to me. The training I put you through may have been harsh, but it never put you in deadly danger. Genma, the fact that you trained Ranma in the Nekoken and other techniques that could have killed him is terrible. The only reason he is alive today is because he is so talented.”

The bald martial artist winced under the rebuke.

The girl said, “You might be interested in knowing that the stealing, the peeping and other things of that sort were intended to be a test of your moral character, a test which you failed. If you had refused to do those things I would have deemed you to have sufficient good character to be taught the secrets of Ultimate Mastery in Anything Goes.”

Both of the men's eyes reflected their surprise and shock. They thought they had been taught the secretes of ultimate mastery.

Noriko glanced over at the pigtailed boy. “On the other hand, Ranma has the moral character to be worthy of learning those techniques. I started the legal proceedings to have Tendo Noriko granted the title of Grand Master of the Founding School of Anything Goes martial arts as the true heir of Happosai. ”

She smirked. “After that paperwork is taken care of I am going to have Ranma declared a master of the Founding School of Anything Goes. Note that I say master, not the Grand Master. Now that I’m young again, I want to hold onto the title for a while.”

She turned to the owner of the house. “Tendo Soun, you at least didn’t turn to stealing or deadly training methods like your friend. You continue to demonstrate your lack of moral character in a different way.”

Noriko bowed her head for a moment. When she looked up again, in a gentle tone she said, “Your wife was an admirable woman. You were right to mourn her." She sighed and went on, "You were not right to mourn her for as long as you have. She would not have wanted you to wallow in self-pity. You should have either shouldered her responsibilities as well as your own or you should have found a new wife to help you.”

Her gaze turned into a glare. “Instead you withdrew from nearly everything. If Kasumi and Nabiki hadn’t stepped up to take on the burden, your whole family would have been thrown out in the street. As for Akane she was ‘your darling baby girl’ who you let get away with anything. Your training of her was substandard, you allowed her to think she was the best when she was far from it.”

“Hey!” Protested Akane, standing up.

“Sit down girl!” Noriko turned her glare on the youngest. “I’ll get to you.”

When Akane had settled back in her seat, the blonde woman continued. “Even though he didn’t ask for it, a lot of the problems in this house revolve around Ranma. Things are also a lot livelier with him around. Whatever else you may want to say about him, things are rarely boring with Ranma here.”

There were nods among the seated people. It was a truth none of them could deny.

“Now, why are Ranma and his father staying here in the house in the first place?” Noriko asked. “The reason goes back to the often mentioned agreement between Soun and Genma or the Tendo and Saotome families. At the time you reached the agreement I wasn’t sealed in the cave yet but I was away from Japan. I have also heard it said that the agreement was reached before Ranma was born. Was it also before Akane was born?”

When the question was met with silence Noriko snapped out, “It’s a simple enough question. At the time you made the agreement to join the schools had Akane been born yet?”

Soun seemed to tune back into the real world. “Ah… No master, she had not been born yet. Kimiko was pregnant with her at the time.”

“What of Nodoka?”

The auburn haired mother answered for herself, “I was told of the agreement a few days after we got the results of my pregnancy test from the laboratory.”

Soun asked, “Why are you asking these questions, Master?”

Noriko replied, “Just trying to get the facts straight. Now I know you two don’t always plan things very well. What I want to know if you ever considered the possibility that both women would give birth to girls.”

“What?” Responded Soun.

Shaking her head at how dense they were being, the blonde clarified, “I want to know if you made any provision in your agreement on how the ‘joining of the schools’ would be accomplished if Nodoka’s child had been a girl.”

Sounding offended, Genma finally answered, “Of course we discussed the possibility. We’re not stupid, you know.”

In a dry tone Noriko said, “I could give you an argument on that. What was the provision?”

The bald martial artist reported, “The provision was that if Nodoka’s and my child was not able to marry one of Tendo’s children because of incompatible gender, death or other factors, then one of my grandchildren would marry one of Tendo’s grandchildren.”

The martial Arts grand master asked, “Do you agree that was the wording, Soun?”

The Tendo patriarch nodded. “Yes, that is what I remember.”

Genma was confused. “I don’t see how that makes a difference. Ranma’s not a girl.”

Suddenly Ranma stood up and said, “Are you sure about that, Pops?” Suddenly Ranma’s form shifted and a buxom redheaded girl stood there. She now put in, “You can’t really say that anymore. Ever since Jusenkyo the most you can say is that ‘Ranma isn’t a girl all of the time.’”

The bespectacled martial artist was on his feet, demanding, “How did you do that?”

The redhead smirked, “A sorceress in Juuban changed the trigger of my curse from water to willpower. Before you ask, it only works for human form Jusenkyo curses and it’s not a cure. If I go too long without being in cursed form and I’ll transform without willing it any time my mind wanders. I still have to spend half or more of my time as a girl.”

Genma glared at his now female son then sat back down, clearly disappointed.

Noriko gave Ranma a nod then resumed talking to everyone. “In the time we’ve been back in Japan, Ranma and I have actually been fairly busy. Ranma had her curse trigger changed and we have been addressing the fiancé mess.”

 “I’ve spoken to Miss Kuonji,” the blonde explained. “Since we don't know where it was disposed of, we can’t recover the yattai that was to stand as dowry but we can replace it with one of equal or better value. I left a catalog with the young lady and directed her to pick one. If she refuses to select a yattai, she will be given one that most closely matches what Ranma can remember of the original.”

“She has also been told that Ranma only sees her as a friend and not a romantic prospect. For those and other reasons Ranma doesn’t want to marry her. We’re giving her time to think about it and will go back to hear her decision later in the week.” The former man reported.

She went on, “Immediately before coming here today, we stopped at the Nekohanten. After some discussion, Cologne agreed that there was no real chance that Shampoo could win Ranma’s heart. The Elder’s Council back in the Joketsuzoku village had already decided that they didn’t want to try to use force on someone who could defeat Prince Herb and kill the Phoenix god. While Shampoo may feel inclined to be stubborn about it, Cologne has already indicated that she has overruled anything Shampoo might have to say on the matter.”

The blonde girl shook her head. “We haven’t spoken to Kuno Kodachi yet and I’m not sure what good that would do. She is someone who is extremely good at denying the truth. There is no formal commitment there. Any obligation there might be with that girl exists solely in her imagination. We will have to work on some ideas about how to deal with her and her delusional brother.”

Soun stood up, his expression excited. He exclaimed, “The engagement with the Amazons is off and the one with the okonomiyaki girl is as good as off! This means the schools will be joined! We must call a priest at once.”

“Soun, sit down and shut up!” Noriko barked. “Stop being stupid. You and Genma are almost as guilty of killing any affection between Ranma and Akane as any of the personal difficulties they have between them.”

“What?” Genma demanded, “How can you say that? We have only their best interests at heart.”

“Is that right?” The blonde woman asked, “They’re teenagers who didn’t feel ready to be married yet. That didn’t matter to you. As long as they remained hostile to each other you didn’t do much more than nudge. If they showed the slightest bit of affection it was, ‘the schools will be joined at last,’ and ‘call the priest, they must be married immediately.’”

“Do you know what you were doing with that kind of behavior?” She asked. She didn’t wait for an answer. “You were teaching them, training them. The lesson was that if they felt or showed the least little bit of affection for each other, you two interfering busybodies would come along and try to force them into doing something they didn’t want and didn’t feel ready for.”

The blonde now turned and asked, “Akane, be honest and tell us all how you feel about Ranma. The truth now.”

The youngest Tendo looked at the sheet of paper with all the autographs of the Sailor Senshi. After a moment’s consideration she said, “I suppose he does have his good points, but that doesn’t change the fact that he is a jerk and a pervert. I may have liked him in the past, maybe even loved him, but not anymore.”

Noriko wasn’t going to let the girl get away with an incomplete answer like that. “Do you want to marry him?”

“No!” she said, “Since you said to be honest I can’t really say I hate him, but I find the idea of married to him and living with him as his wife to be a little sickening.”

The former man gave the fathers a look that clearly said, “There, you see?”

She turned and asked, “Ranma, how do you feel about Akane?”

The redheaded girl looked over at her fiancé before sighing and saying, “I can never relax around her. I never know when something I say is going to set her off so she'll use her mallet to either pound me into the floor or send me flying. Yes, I insult her, but she insults me too. If I’m out of her sight for any length of time she accuses me of ‘doing perverted things with my other fiances.’ She doesn’t trust me.”

“What did you say to Shampoo on the subject of trust,” asked Noriko.

The pigtailed girl answered, “I’ve been told that a marriage can’t survive without trust. I don’t trust Shampoo, Akane doesn’t trust me. Any marriage between me and either of them would be doomed to fail.”

Ranma now glared at the youngest Tendo. “I’m getting tired of being your punching bag. You accuse me of all kinds of bad things without even giving me a chance to defend myself. Then you bash me with a mallet over things that, even if I did do them, don’t rate more than a scolding or a slap. You overreact to everything.”
“No I don’t!” The ghostly outline of a mallet began to form in Akane’s hand.

“Akane, stop that!” Noriko barked. “Calm down.”

Noriko waited until the mallet had been dispersed and the girl had taken some deep breaths. Finally Noriko said, “Akane, I want you to apply some logic to this situation, if you are even still capable of it. If Ranma did ‘perverted things’ with Ukyo, do you imagine she would stay quiet about it?”

With a sullen expression, Akane asked, “What are you suggesting?”

Relentless now, Noriko said, “If Ranma had sex with Ukyo or even just kissed her on the lips, I’d bet the girl would be bragging about it all over school. She would be getting in your face and saying that he really was hers and had proved it. Likely she would be demanding that Ranma marry her immediately.”

She raked the family with a glare. “You could bet that if Ranma did ‘perverted things’ with Shampoo he would have been dragged back to the Amazon village so fast that everyone here would have been left wondering what happened. At least that’s what would have happened before Saffron was killed. Even if the Amazon's weren't taking Ranma back to China, you can bet Shampoo would not be quiet about it.”

With a sigh, Noriko continued, “With Kuno Kodachi it’s a little harder to call. My guess is that if Ranma did ‘something perverted’ with her, she’d cling to him like a leach and he'd be unable to get away from her. I’m not saying this to try and talk you into marrying Ranma, I just want the record clear.”

Soun spoke up from where he sat, “Akane will do what honor demands.”

Noriko looked at him with a raised eyebrow. “Really? Do you care so little for your daughter’s happiness? I was at the wedding; I saw how Akane acted. Her attitude was not that of a woman finally being united with the man she loves. Her attitude was more that of someone making a terrible sacrifice, probably for sake of family honor.”

The blonde girl said, “Purely as a subject of debate, let’s say that everyone politely agrees that Ranma and Akane should not be married. That still wouldn’t be the end of the plan to unite the schools. Soun still has two other daughters.”

“Nabiki!” She snapped the name out. “How do you feel about Ranma?”

Being smart, the mercenary girl had seen this coming. She said, “When Ranma first got here I saw him as a cash cow. (Sorry Ranma.) I also thought of him as a dumb jock. But over time we got talking sometimes and I found out that he’s smarter than I originally gave him credit for. I even figured out that he may actually be smarter than I am. He's just different in how he applies his intelligence. I got to where I actually like him. The way I feel about him sort of matches what I’ve heard some girls saying about their younger brothers.”
Noriko prodded, “So you think of him like a kid brother?”

The brunette nodded. “Yes. I like him but still find him annoying at times. I think if he were in trouble I’d rush to give whatever help I could. I feel sure that he would watch my back if I were in trouble.”

She paused a moment then said, “Since you are talking about this in fiancé terms I’d say, I think Ranma would be a good husband, loyal and caring. I’m pretty sure he’d be a great father. But on that part about being a father… I don’t see him as the father of my children. The idea of having sex with someone I think of as a brother just feels… wrong.”

“So it would be fair to say you can’t see yourself married to Ranma?” Noriko summed up.

The middle Tendo daughter shook her head emphatically.

“Kasumi?” The blonde prompted.

The eldest Tendo daughter tilted her head in apparent thought. Finally she said, “I think Ranma is kind, brave and loyal. He is sweet but can sometimes be thoughtless and impulsive. He often speaks without thinking. I know he means no harm when he does that. As far as marriage is concerned, I’m afraid I have to agree with Nabiki. I think of him like a younger brother.”

With a little more thought she added, “I suppose that if I were forced into a marriage with Ranma I might overcome those sibling feelings. I can’t say for sure. I can say that I would prefer not to be put in that position.”

Noriko nodded. “How do you girls feel about intimate relations with another woman?”

With a snort, Akane said, “Why would I ever want to do anything so perverted?”
Nabiki shook her head and said, “I know there are rumors about me at school because I haven’t had a date with a boy in a long time. The only reason for that is that they’re intimidated by my reputation as the Ice Queen. The truth is that I don’t swing that way.”

Kasumi glanced at Ranma and said, “I’m afraid that goes for me too. I’m sorry Ranma but I don’t think I could do that with another woman, even you in your female form.”

In a gentle tone, Ranma responded, “That’s alright, Kasumi. I wouldn’t ask you to, or any of you.”

Noriko waved them back to their seats. She said, “From the things just said I would have to say this would count as both ‘incompatible gender’ and ‘other factors.’ The fact of the matter is that none of the people involved in the agreement want to get married. Even if one of the Tendo girls did get married to Ranma’s male form, that wouldn’t change the fact that her ‘husband’ would have to spend… I believe the phrase was ‘half or more of her time as a girl.’”

The blonde went on, “Perhaps someday Ranma will meet a woman who ‘swings both ways’ and forge a life with her. It seems a safe bet that it won’t be with one of the Tendo women in this room. Under the terms of the agreement and the provisions and conditions placed on it that would mean that the honor commitment would then fall to a child of Ranma’s marrying a child of one of the girls here.”

Soun was standing. “No! The schools must be joined! Everything depends on it. Ranma must marry one of my daughters.”

Genma stood as well. “Yes! It was agreed! We’ve been planning this for all of their lives.”

Noriko raised an eyebrow and shook her head. “Perhaps the schools ‘must’ be joined, even if I can't see the reason for the urgency. But by your own words on the terms of the agreement and the provisions to it, the schools don’t have to be joined now. There is even a question of whether or not the marriage you want would, in fact, ‘join the schools.’”

She turned and said, “Ranma, are you ready?”

The redhead nodded and stood up. She sighed before saying, “For the longest time martial arts were my whole life. It was all I knew. Oh, I knew that some people didn’t follow the Art, but Pop taught me that those people weren’t important and the things they were interested in were a waste of time and a distraction from the Art.”

She glared at Genma. “I was taken from my mother when I was five years old to begin training in the Art. What kid that age knows what he wants to do with his life? If he thinks about it at all he’d probably say that he wants to be something like a fireman, or policeman or a samurai because all of them are heroic.”

Still glaring she went on, “I’ve heard the reason you took me away from Mother was so she wouldn’t influence me, make me weak. I don’t know, maybe the love of a mother would have made me weak, but I doubt it. I do know that the whole time we were traveling I was starved for parental affection since I never got any from you. You may have sired me, but you were never really my father. You were my sensei.”

“When you stick to basic martial arts you are a decent teacher of the Art,” she conceded. “It’s when you get into advanced Art and the ‘special techniques’ that you mess up. You have no judgment about advanced training techniques. Anything that promised to turn me into an invincible warrior (Like the Neko-ken) and you have to try it. You either fail to read the warnings or ignore them if you do read them.”

“During that whole time did you ever really ask me if the Art was what I wanted to do?” She demanded. “No you told me that the Art was my life. You told me that I should be willing to give up my life for the sake of the art if it should come to that.”

“Well, guess what?” Her glare increased in intensity, “I almost did give up my life several times. I did lose half of my manhood and nearly lost my sanity. On top of that you never let me have any friends. The only time I went to school was when we’d get in trouble with local truant officers by keeping me out. I was ignorant and didn’t know how to deal with people.”

Genma demanded, “All of that was for your own good. It made you stronger and a better fighter. Are you saying you don’t want to continue in the Art?”

“I didn’t say that!” She was losing her temper and had to control it with an effort. “Let me finish what I’m saying.”

The bald martial artist settled back in his seat.

Ranma resumed, “After the failed wedding I decided that if I were going to run a dojo I would need to know how. I needed to learn how to run a business and how to teach, and for that I needed education. I started to study harder and to pay attention in class. Nabiki helped me with stuff like learning how to use a computer. It was when working on that stuff that I found out that I’m smarter than I, or anyone else thought I was.”

Her tone turned thoughtful. “When I dropped the attitude that nothing outside the Art was important, I found that I was actually getting interested in things like math and science. I even have a talent for Science that startled the teachers. (I still find history boring.) I was on the path to making up for all of the schooling that I missed from traveling around. That’s when I found Master Happosai lying on the front walk, more dead than alive.”

She went on, “I had to figure out a way to keep him alive, and I did it. Even if I wasn’t thrilled about who I was helping, I was glad to be helping. When the leader of an Amazon patrol called me a healer because how I was using my ki to keep Happosai alive, I liked how that made me feel. Then in the village where we were waiting for the new passport for Noriko that Nabiki was sending, I spent time working in the medical clinic there.”

“What are you getting at?” Genma demanded.

“I want to be a doctor,” Ranma stated. “I know now that I’m smart enough to learn what I need to.”

"A doctor?” Genma wasn’t sure he could believe what he was hearing. “What about the Art? It was your dream to be the best.”

“No, that was your dream,” Ranma countered. “I used to think it was my dream, but I learned different. Oh, don’t worry that I’ll give up martial arts completely. It was too big a part of my life to totally give it up. I figure I’ll be like Dr. Tofu – a doctor who does martial arts on the side.”

“No!” Genma could feel his dream slipping away from him. To live in cushy retirement while Ranma’s efforts supported him was what he wanted. “You’re going to be the best martial artist of your generation.”

“And what do I do with those skills?” Ranma demanded. “I know ‘It is the duty of a martial artist to protect those who cannot protect themselves,’ but how often does the chance come along to actually protect the weak. Most of the time I’ve used my martial arts skills defending myself from people who want to prove something by trying to beat me. That’s not helping people.”

She went on, “If I become a doctor I would be helping people every day, treating injuries, curing diseases, saving lives. It’s what I want to do.”

Before Genma could voice another protest, Nodoka said in a dreamy tone, “My son, a doctor. That would be so wonderful.”

“No-Chan, how could you say that?” Genma was starting to feel betrayed. “You’re married to a martial artist. Don’t you want your son to follow in his father’s footsteps? Don’t you want to see him be the best?”

In an angry tone the auburn haired mother replied, “Yes I want him to be the best. I want him to be the best at whatever he wants to do. I think it would be wonderful if he became a doctor.”

Now even angrier, Genma said, “Boy, if you abandon the family’s martial arts school, then you will no longer be a Saotome. I will disown you. You will become a ronin. Do you want that?”

Nodoka wasn’t having it. “Saotome Genma you will do no such thing!” She dropped the cloth from around the Saotome honor blade and said, “Since you were gone for ten years you totally neglected your duties as Saotome clan head. It was by a vote of the rest of the clan that I was selected to assume those duties. I have the final authority on who is or is not to be removed from the clan rolls.”

“But No-Chan, he is about to dishonor all that I have worked for, the training, the effort, the suffering and sacrifice. For doing such a thing he deserves to be disowned.” Genma wasn’t doing a very good job of reading the signals that his wife was giving him.

With a metallic sound she drew her sword and in an instant the point was but a finger’s width away from the bridge of Genma’s nose. Nodoka said, “In the last ten years you have done more to bring dishonor on the family name than anyone in the entire past history of the clan. When we were finally reunited I had hopes that you would mend your ways, but it seems that was a vain hope.”

The bald martial artist’s eyes crossed as he looked at the tip of the blade so close to his face. He was listening now as Nodoka continued, “Physician is an honorable profession. By choosing it, Ranma may be able to restore some of the clan honor that you have taken away. Perhaps he could help to dispel the whispers that say the Saotomes are a family of cheats and thieves.”

The Saotome matriarch announced, “There will be no more talk of disowning Ranma. If you persist in such talk, it would be within my authority as the head of the clan to divorce you and have you removed from the clan roster. There are members of the clan who have been pressuring me to do that anyway. So far I have resisted doing so. It would seem I may have to reconsider my position on that.”
Genma stared at his wife. How had things gotten so badly out of control? To go from having the joining of the schools virtually assured and Ranma nearing the goal of being to the best of his generation to this? If Ranma refused marry a Tendo girl and gave up martial arts, Genma might actually have to (gasp) get a job and work for a living. He was getting too old for that sort of thing. Still, to argue the point now could be hazardous to his health.

“If… if you say so, No-Chan. He can be a doctor.” There was still a chance. The boy may be an excellent martial artist, but he didn’t have the kind of brainpower it took to be a doctor. When he failed, he’d have to go back to martial arts. Yes, that was the way. It would delay the accomplishment of his dream but wouldn’t destroy it completely.

Soun now stood up. “If Ranma is not going to marry one of my daughters, then there is no longer any reason for him continue living in this house. I’m afraid that I’ll have to ask him to leave. Saotome, you are my friend so you can stay until your house is repaired, but I must ask that you and your wife leave as well as soon as you have a livable house to move into. However, since it seems that Akane finds his presence uncomfortable for her, I must demand that Ranma leave at once. He may take the time to remove any of his belongings that are still in the guest room.”

Ranma smirked, “So you’re kicking me out?”

The mustachioed martial artist wasn't why the boy didn't seem more upset. Soun replied, “I’m sorry, Ranma. Your presence has been a source of disruption since you first came here. I was willing to put up with it when you were going to marry Akane, but that is no longer the case.”

Ranma gave an amused snort. “I don’t suppose you’d be willing to let me stay until I find a new place.”

Soun shook his head. “No, Ranma. I’m sorry but I must insist you leave right away. The most I’m willing to bend on that is to let you stay the night tonight and leave in the morning.”

The redhead nodded. “I expected you might take that attitude. Other than a few odds and ends in the guest room the only belongings that I don’t already have in my pack are the girl clothes mom got me when she thought I was Tendo Ranko. I may need some help with those.”

Genma looked surprised. “You want those things?”

The pigtailed girl gave him a pitying look. “When I found out there was no cure to the curse, I finally started to accept that at least half of the time I’m going to be a girl. If I’m going to get my girl form to grow up to match my male form I’m going to have to spend more time as a girl than I do as a guy for a few years. I’ve come to understand that real girl clothes are more comfortable on a girl’s body. So… yeah, I want those girl clothes. At least the stuff that’s not too frilly.”

“Oh, why not the frilly garments?” Nodoka asked.

“Look Mom, I’m sorry about this,” Ranma apologized. “Even if I’m willing to accept my girl side as a part of my life, that doesn’t mean that I’m going to be your ideal of a lady when I’m in this form. I have no problem with basic skirts, blouses and stuff like that are Ok for a tomboy to wear, but not the real frilly stuff. What I don’t decide to keep, I can donate to charity.”

Nodoka nodded. She had already come to the conclusion that Ranma would be a tomboy when in girl form. She was more or less resigned to it. She said, “I suppose I can live with that. Where will you go?”

“I’ll help with that,” Noriko put in. “I know of apartments that are available. Until he gets a job, Ranma can owe me the money for the rent. It won’t be a problem. I’ll call a moving company to send a truck over to pick up Ranma’s stuff and to pack my stuff as well.”

A look of delight came to Soun’s face. “You’re leaving too, Master?”

“During the time we were traveling in China, Ranma and I became friends,” Noriko explained. “I don’t want to stay in a place where my friend is not welcome. Besides, I’m sure you will be happy enough to see me gone from your house. In addition to that, now that I’m young again, I think it’s time that I started to take a more active interest in my business affairs. I think I’d do that better somewhere else.”

Now it was Nabiki’s turn to break in. “Wait… you have business affairs?”

The blonde grinned. “150 years ago I bought several parcels of land around the Tokyo area. At that time land was cheap. Now, the management of those properties and the buildings sitting on them is a profitable business. Until now I’ve had other people handling those properties. I think I’m going to start taking part in that operation myself.”

Hearing that, Nabiki asked, “Say, are you hiring?”

Laughing, Noriko said, “I’m not in control yet so I have no say in hiring. Before you consider applying you might want to take some business classes so you have the formal education for the kind of job you’re looking for. Right now you have ‘street smarts’ but you also need some ‘book smarts’ to go with those.”

The mercenary girl nodded. “That sounds reasonable.”

The blonde woman had a thoughtful expression on her face as she said, “Maybe I could arrange some kind of internship for you while you are getting the rest of your schooling. I’ll look into it.”

The middle Tendo Daughter grinned. “That sounds great! I think I’d like that.” To herself she thought, “Then I’d be able to move out. Let’s just see how long Daddy can keep a roof over his head without me managing the household finances and the money I bring in.”

The former man looked over to oldest Tendo daughter and said, “Kasumi dear, from all of the books you’ve borrowed from Dr. Tofu, I’ve gotten the idea that you would also be interested in a career in medicine. I can offer you the same kind of deal I’m giving Ranma. I can help you get into school and pay your tuition and expenses if you promise to pay me back once you have completed the schooling and gotten a job.”

“Oh my. That is a most generous offer. I’ll have to think about it. I do still have father and Akane to take care of, even if Nabiki moves out to go to business school.”

The blonde girl nodded and smiled. “You think about it. You should keep in mind that you aren’t getting any younger. I just hope that you don’t get to a point where you finally make your decision and find that life has passed you by.”

“Oh!” Kasumi considered that carefully. Maybe Father and Akane could survive without her after all. She’d give herself a week to think it over.

Ranma headed off to the attic to collect the boxes of girl’s clothing and Noriko went to her room. The former man looked over the stuff she had accumulated during the time she was an old man. There was a sizeable collection of girlie magazines. In keeping with her former uncertain feelings about her sexuality, there was nothing hard core in the collection. The collection mostly consisted of pictures of scantily clad or nude women in sexy poses. None of the women in any of the magazines were actually doing anything. She started making a pile of the magazines with the intention of leaving them behind for Soun and Genma to either claim as their own, or to throw out as they chose.

All of the clothing in the room other then the stolen lingerie was suited to a body that was only three feet tall. Most of it was old and worn, so it probably wouldn’t even be suitable for donation to charity. Likely she could give them to Kasumi or whoever took over from her to use as cleaning rags.

The books and scrolls would have to be boxed up and she would have the movers take the futon and writing desk as well as the chair. She had used a normal sized chair with a stack of books to raise herself up to the needed height. Now that she was a normal size herself she wouldn’t need the books to use the chair.

Now that she thought about it, she remembered that the futon, desk and chair had been in the room when she first moved in. The bookcases had been added later, but they also belonged to the Tendos and had been moved into the room from the attic. It might be best to just leave all the furniture and just take the books and stuff.

What about her “silky darlings?” She wouldn’t be able to absorb ki from them anymore, now that she was cured. Maybe she should look through the collection and save a few of the pieces that would fit her now and hold out a few pieces for Ranma. The rest could either be turned over to the police or donated to charity. There was little chance of giving all of those items back go the women they had been stolen from. Noriko couldn’t really remember where each piece had come from.

She went down the hall and knocked on the door of the guest room. “Come in,” came the voice from inside.

Ranma was still in girl form. She was looking through a box of clothing. It appeared she had gone to the attic and pulled out the boxes of clothing that had been put away. There were six such boxes. Beside the box there was a pile. While Noriko stood there Ranma added another item to the pile, a blue sundress.

The redhead explained, “I didn’t see any point in taking the stuff that I’m not going to want to keep. I’m separating out the frillier, fancier stuff and I’m going to leave it here. Akane’s the closest to my size so she can have this stuff or they can donate it to charity if she doesn’t want it.”

Noriko nodded. “You go ahead and sort that out. Do keep in mind that there may come a time when you will want to get dressed up in something frilly. Maybe you will want to go to a party as a girl.”

Ranma nodded. That did make some sense. She looked at the pile of discards and picked a couple outfits to put back. Those were pretty, but with an elegant simplicity instead of a lot of frills. It appeared that Ranma’s tastes ran to simple garments.

Noriko nodded and said, “I need to make some phone calls.”

She went downstairs and said, “Soun, I need to use your phone. Don’t worry, I won’t make any toll calls. “

The Tendo patriarch said, “Please feel free, Master.” He was willing to agree to almost anything that would get his Master out of the house faster.

Noriko called the company that handled the management of her properties. She used a special number that was staffed around the clock rather than the public number that was closed at this hour. It took some talking to establish that she had the right to call on the services of the operator at this phone number, but when she did the representative on the line was most respectful.

At Noriko’s request a computer search was conducted to find a vacant apartment within walking distance of Furinkan High School. A three bedroom apartment was found that had full bathing facilities including furo, a fully equipped kitchen as well as its own laundry. As it turned out it was also possible to have the people at the real estate company arrange for having utilities turned on, cable TV hooked up and phone service connected.

With a little further talking she was able to arrange for furniture, bedding and such things. It turned out that property management company had some furniture that was used to put in apartments or homes that were being shown for possible rental. That meant the furniture could be classified as used. Noriko shrugged when she heard. She decided that she could live with that.

She also asked if there were any computers available. Since it was a large company they did have computers for replacements within their own offices, so it was no problem to have two of them allocated to her new apartment.

The operator sounded a little annoyed at being asked, but she was able to contact a moving company to come to the Tendo home the following day. She said she could arrange for them to be there in the morning. There would be a crew that would pack Noriko’s books and other belongings. They should be finished before noon and have everything loaded on the truck before lunch.

When she finished she went back upstairs and again knocked on Ranma’s door. When admitted to the room she said, “I hope you don’t mind having me as a roommate but I’ve arranged for a three bedroom apartment. You can sleep in one bedroom, I can take another and the third bedroom we can use as a sort combination of library and office. I’ve arranged for furniture, utilities and that kind of stuff. I’ve also arranged for each of us to have a computer.”

Ranma raised an eyebrow. “Do you know how to use a computer?”

“No,” the blonde admitted. “I’m sure you can teach me the basics.”

The redhead shrugged. “Ok. And no, I guess I don’t mind sharing a place. We’ve been living in the same bedroom for weeks and it wasn’t a problem. Having separate bedrooms is enough privacy.”

“Good.” She said, “The movers will come tomorrow morning after you’ve left for school. Since they’re used to moving whole housefuls of stuff a few boxes along with our packs and suitcases won’t take them long at all. Everything should be moved by lunch and furniture will be delivered right after lunch. The place should be completely set up and ready to live in by the time you get done with school. I’ll try to meet you at the school gates so I can show you the way there.”

She handed the redhead a piece of paper. “This is the address. I have a vague idea of where it is but will find out for sure tomorrow. This was all I could find on short notice that was in walking distance of Furinkan.”

She suddenly got a big grin on her face. “I had another idea about what we could do about Kuno Tatewaki.”

Noting the grin, Ranma asked, “What’s in that devious mind of yours?”

“Well, we’ll have to check with the Amazon’s first,” She said. “I was just wondering how the ‘mighty Blue Thunder’ would react to being changed into a girl himself.”

“But I thought you said the Amazons didn’t have any Nyaniichuan water at the restaurant,” Ranma countered.
“True,” agreed the blonde. “Even if they don’t have the permanent curse water, I’d bet there’s a really good chance they have some of the instant kind. That's really better for using on Kuno anyway.”

The redhead couldn’t suppress a chuckle. “He’d still say it was evil sorcery, and he’d be partly right. But even he couldn’t deny that magic can change a boy into a girl. It’s at least worth a try.”

The former man said, “Even if the Amazons don’t have any of the instant Nyniichuan on hand, I have the address to order some. Maybe when we get your computer set up, we could order from their website.”

“Maybe while you’re getting that, you could get some Instant Naniichuan to use on his sister,” the redhead suggested.

“I like that idea.” Noriko grinned. Then her manner sobered. “I would think it would at least make her stop wanting to kill the ‘red haired hussy,’ but would it also stop her from being interested in her ‘Ranma-Sama’?”

Ranma shrugged, “I guess it depends on whether she swings both ways or not. I guess I’d settle for her not trying to kill me. Anything more than that, I’ll count as a bonus.”

“Good point,” agreed Noriko. “Sometimes you have to take what you can get.”

“Well,” Ranma pointed to three boxes she had pushed into the corner. “Those are the clothes I’m leaving behind. The rest I’m keeping. That includes skirts, blouses, a few dresses, some slacks, pajamas, underwear and shoes.”

She added, “To give my girl form time to grow, I plan to be in boy form only for school for at least a year, maybe even all the way through college. Because of that I’ll need a good assortment of girl clothes. This will do for now. Obviously I’ll need new stuff when I do grow.”

She looked around the room. “I think I’m about as ready to move as I’m going to get. I’m going to read for a little while then I’ll turn in.” She pulled from stuff space one of the books she had gotten from the Spell Book store.

Noriko nodded. “I’ve done what I can to prepare. I’ve gathered the stuff I want to leave behind into a pile. The rest will have to wait until tomorrow for the movers to pack up. I’d start packing now, but I don’t have the boxes for it. There’s too much for stuff space.”

They bid each other goodnight and separated. When Noriko settled into her futon she spent some time just staring at the ceiling. It took her a while to figure out what was bothering her. For the first time since Noriko become a woman, Ranma wasn’t sleeping close enough to hear him/her breathing. It seemed strange to think about how much comfort she had drawn from that.

She felt a powerful temptation to roll up her futon and carry it to the guest room to sleep beside Ranma. No! She could do this! After all, in the apartment she would be in a separate bedroom. She had to get used to this.

There was still a chance for her. All of the engagements were ended and Ranma didn’t even question sharing an apartment with Noriko. The blonde girl could tell the boy had feelings for her. Given his background, it was natural that he would have trouble recognizing those feelings and even more trouble expressing them. Perhaps living in close proximity with Noriko and having no other people at home to offer distractions would be what he needed.

Noriko drifted off to sleep. Her dreams were visited by visions of a black haired boy with a pigtail and equally by further visions of a red haired girl. Some of the dreams featured herself being held in strong masculine arms or her own arms holding the smaller form of the redheaded girl.

Author's Note: Ranma has been kicked out of the house, but it's not like he wasn't expecting it. At least his mother wouldn't let Genma kick him out of the family. Ranma can still stay in Tokyo and complete his education. There are still matters to be settled with Ukyo and the Kunos. More on that in the next chapter.
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