Chapter Three: The Center of Attention
By Qaddafi the Ripper
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 belongs to the almighty Takehashi Rumiko, Tenchi Muyo! to Pioneer (?), Sailor Moon to Takeuchi Naoko, Aa! Megami-sama! to Fujishima Kosuke, and Fushigi Yuugi to Watase Yuu. Please don't sue this poor college student!
“*This* is the single most uncomfortable outfit I have ever worn,” Mousse announced distastefully. He stood in front of the mirror in the small bedroom. The school uniform for Furinkan High was about as different from his usual Chinese robes as clothes could get. Stiff, stuffy, and very tight. He tugged the collar distractedly.
Onna-Ranma snickered. “Oh, I don’t know. It shows your muscles off fairly well.” She grinned maliciously. "Maybe Shampoo will like the new look.”
His eyes widened, and he dashed off, already calling for his beloved’s opinion. Cologne, who had been bouncing past, poked her head in. “Torturing my future son-in-law?” she inquired dryly.
“Sorry, Elder. It’s just so easy to tease him. I can’t resist!”
The old woman chuckled. “He is rather head over heals for my granddaughter, isn’t he?” She glanced at the girl next to her. “Jealous?”
“Nope. Not at all.”
“Oh well. I had to try, you understand.”
Onna-Ranma waved the apology away. “Don’t worry about it. I don’t mind.”
Cologne glanced around the cramped room. “I’m sorry that you have to share with him.”
“Oh don't worry about it. There were only three rooms, and it only makes sense that the two of us share. After all, we are, despite appearances, both guys.”
“Well then, since you’re not going to school like Shampoo and Mousse, you can help me today. You’d make a fine waitress.”
Onna-Ranma laughed. “Sounds like fun. Lead the way, Elder.”
“I will never get used to this,” Mousse muttered, still tugging at the collar of his school uniform.
Shampoo giggled. “It not so bad, Mousse.”
“But how am I ever going to fight in this?”
“That point - you not suppose to fight at school.” Mousse grumbled something and Shampoo laughed again. Then barely restrained her herself from fiddling with her own new outfit. She’d never worn a dress like this before, and she found it extremely uncomfortable, though not entirely unpleasing. She was about to make another comment to Mousse, when a loud thunderclap interrupted her. She glanced up at the darkening sky. “Aiyah,” she murmured nervously. Rain was the last thing she needed on her first day of school.
Mousse, however, was prepared for such an event as this. The Master of Hidden Weapons gallantly pulled an umbrella out of nowhere and held it up so they could both fit under it. Shampoo smiled and walked a bit closer to him than was absolutely necessary.
“School not be easy for us, Mousse. Ranma say we famous.”
“I know. It was very disturbing yesterday.”
“Don’t worry. We get through this together, okay?”
“Right! Together, always together.” The two lovebirds made it the rest of the way to Furinkan without incident. When they finally reached class, it was more or less what they had expected.
“Class, I’d like everyone to welcome Xian Pu and Mu Si. They’ve just moved here from China. They’ll be studying here about a year as exchange students.”
“It couldn’t be!”
“It is! It’s really them!”
“He’s so cute in those glasses!”
“If they join any teams, we’ll be unbeatable!”
The amazons managed to keep from sighing as they took their seats. It was going to be a long day.
By lunchtime, Shampoo had changed that assessment. It wasn’t a long day; it was a very, very, *very* long day. She got lustful looks from the boys, jealous ones from the girls, and awe bordering on reverence from everyone(faculty included). It seemed they really were famous. Now that there wasn’t a teacher they were supposed to be listening to, the students no longer tried to make their stares covert. Shampoo tried very hard to ignore them, but that was much easier said than done.
She sighed, pulling out the bento and starting on her meal, only to stop after a bite or two. “Yummy! Ranma make such good rice balls!” she observed to Mousse, who was too busy scarfing his own down to reply with anything save a nod. She quickly returned her attention to her meal.
“Umm... excuse me,” a voice spoke up hesitatingly. Shampoo looked up to see a girl she recognized as one of her classmates. She had short black hair and a pretty face. Shampoo had taken extra notice of this girl when they’d first arrived. After all, it wasn’t everyday that one came across someone with such strong ki. Shampoo would have bet quite a lot of money that this girl was a fighter, and a good one, too.
“Hello,” she replied in a friendly manner, and motioned to an empty seat next to her. “I Shampoo, this Mousse. Who you?”
Apparently unbothered by Shampoo’s clumsy Japanese, she politely introduced herself. “I’m Tendo Akane. It's nice to meet you.” She cocked her head to the side, curious. “Have you been living here long?”
“No, Tendo-san,” Mousse replied. “We moved in just two days ago.”
“How nice, welcome to the neighborhood. Where do you live?”
Shampoo named the street, then added, “We have restaurant, Neko-haunten. Is open now, if you like eat ramen.”
“I love ramen, actually. Uh, is it just the two of you?” Akane asked the last part with a blush.
Mousse mimicked her expression, but Shampoo laughed and assured her, “No, we live with Great Grandmother and another…tribe mate. They run restaurant.”
“And you’re here to study for a year?”
“Yes and no. Shampoo and I are here primarily for education purposes. This includes regular schooling, but we also hope to learn more of the arts, and the world around us.”
“From what I’ve seen, there’s not much more of the arts you could learn here. You’re both excellent martial artists.”
Shampoo laughed. “Oh, there always much more to learn!”
“Exactly,” Mousse agreed. “The art is extremely diverse, and thinking you know everything only makes you miss new techniques.” He grinned sheepishly when Akane raised an eyebrow. “Sorry if I sound like a know-it-all, Akane-san. I’m just quoting Ranma, our sensei. He says that a lot.”
Akane perked up at the last past, trying not to let them see how excited she suddenly was. “Your sensei?” she asked, hoping her voice sounded neutral.
Shampoo nodded. “Yes, Ranma only our age, but he very good! Even Great Grandmother can no beat him!”
Akane blinked at that. “Then the older people in your tribe fight too?” She had never quite believed that part, despite the clips of old ladies bouncing around like there was no tomorrow. Shampoo nodded, and Akane gave a mental shrug. Why not?
Then, as if just now noticing the way the two amazons sat together, she slyly asked, “So are you two officially going out, or just good friends?”
“Ahh…” Mousse turned bright red and looked at Shampoo for confirmation.
The purple haired girl nodded evenly. “Yes. One day, Mousse and Shampoo be married. When get back China, maybe.”
“Congratulations!” Akane cheered. “That’s so romantic! So, how did you get together?”
They blushed. “You tell story, Mousse, since you speak Japanese better.”
“All right,” he agreed, and launched into the tale. “Well, Shampoo and I grew up together. We were always close friends, but I got a crush on her that she didn’t return. I would constantly be nagging her about how much I loved her, but that only seemed to make things worse! But I was confident that sooner or later she would realize we were meant to be.” He paused as Shampoo laughed at him. “Anyway, everything changed one day, when Ranma-sensei first showed up. Or rather, about a week afterwards, when the Musk made a surprise attack on the village, and he repelled the whole group single handedly. Shampoo developed a huge crush on him. As the war escalated, it only became worse, especially when he saved her from being killed in one of the worst battles.
“Lucky for me,” he continued, “Ranma-sensei didn’t feel the same way as Shampoo did. To him, she was nothing more then a close friend. When he found out how much I liked her, which didn't take very long, he decided to give me help winning her favor. With his advice, I started doing better, but it was still mostly a losing battle. Then one day, Shampoo was training near the cursed training grounds, Jusenkyo. A small group of Musk soldiers saw her and attacked. Shampoo’s good, but not enough for ten-to-one odds. They’d pressed her to the edge of the springs by the time I got there. Together, we managed to fend them off. However, the last one had this incredible final attack. We were thrown towards one of the springs. At the last minute, I managed to save Shampoo, but ended up falling in, and I became cursed.”
He was silent for a long moment, thinking about that time, before continuing. “Shampoo quickly helped me out and restored me to my true form. Then she challenged me to a fight then and there. If she won, I’d give up on her forever. If I won, she’d be my wife. I managed, barely, to win. Unfortunately, in doing so, I knocked Shampoo into another of the springs, so now she’s cursed too.” He turned to his beloved. “And yet, for some reason, she has been happy with the way things turned out since then.”
Shampoo gripped his hand. “Wo ai ni, Mousse. Not mind curse too much.”
Akane sniffed. “That’s so sweet,” she murmured. “I hope I find someone like you one day, Mousse.”
He smiled, looking the wrong direction. “I’m sure you will, Akane-san. You’re a very pretty girl.”
“Ranma, come here for a moment,” Cologne called. The lunch crowd had just dispersed, and the elderly matriarch took the lull as a chance to look through some things they hadn’t had a chance to unpack.
“That's Ranko, Elder. What's wrong?” the redhead asked. She was dressed in a brightly colored Chinese outfit (girl’s outfit) with an apron tied over it.
Cologne held up a bundle of papers. “Isn’t this your father’s? I think he misplaced it shortly after you arrived.”
Onna-Ranma, or "Ranko," as she was now calling herself, accepted the bundle curiously. Opening it, she observed, “This is Oyaji’s handwriting all right.”
“What is it?”
“A record of his early training day, under someone he calls ‘The Greatest Evil In All Japan’,” Ranko chuckled at the last part. “But he and his training partner finally sealed him away. And then…” her voice trailed off, and her expression become shocked.
“What? Here, let me see,” Cologne took the manuscript from the girl’s limp hands. Her eyes widened when she reached the same section Ranma had stopped at. She glanced up to see the boy-turned-girl sitting numbly at one of the tables. “Did you have any idea?"
“Right, I understand. According to this, Tendo Soun lives here in Nerima. Will you do anything about it?”
“It is a matter of family honor. I must.”
Cologne frowned. “Is fulfilling your deceased parent’s wish important enough to risk your own future happiness?” she asked.
“I won’t necessarily be unhappy, Elder. And as the last Saotome, it is my duty.”
“No normal girl would consent to marry you, Ranma,” Cologne said as gently as she could.
"Ranko," she corrected again. “And I know. But I have to at least make an effort. To just ignore this would be extremely rude to my fiancée.” She stood up abruptly. “Well, I might as well get it over with.”
“Wait a moment, Ranko. There’s one thing you might want to take care of first.” She gestured at Ranko’s appearance. “Change first, then go. And don’t forget an umbrella; it’s raining.”
Ranko grinned and bowed, half obediently half mockingly. “Yes, revered Elder. I’ll be right off.”
End of Chapter Three
Author’s Notes: Whee! We finally have a clue as to who Ranma is! Fun fun! And we know how Shampoo and Mousse got together! Hope it doesn’t sound to far fetched or anything… I think those two look cute together ^_^
A brief word about power levels. Most people are not at the same point as standard convention. The main reason being this takes place about a year later than canon. Also, the amazons have been waging war, which definitely helps you refine your skills ^_^ And Ranma’s been teaching them too. Akane, Kuno, and the rest of the Nerima crew are better too. Akane is about at the level Shampoo is in the anime - you’ll find out why she’s better next chapter! Kuno is just below her level, as is Kodachi. Shampoo and Mousse are around the level of Ranma at the end of the manga. Ranma, of course, is nothing short of amazing! Cologne is about the same (she’s old enough to be beyond improvement ^_^), as is Happosai. Soun is also pretty talented. Naturally, when he shows up, Ryoga will also be pretty impressive.
Japanese / Chinese Terms
Wo ai ni: Chinese for I love you
Aiyah: What! Shampoo’s standard exclamation of surprise
Oyaji: Pop; very rude way of address one’s father/old men
Onna: girl, female
Onto Chapter Four
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