Chapter Four: Akane’s Bad Luck
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!
“It’s not natural, I tell you,” Akane complained, changing out of her gym uniform.
“Sorry, Akane-san. Not mean to show you up,” Shampoo apologized.
“Eh? Oh, don’t worry, it’s not your fault, Shampoo. I’m just jealous that you’re so much better than me. Well, I’ll just have to start training harder!”
The Chinese girl cocked her head to the side. “Then Akane is martial artist. Shampoo thought so. Where you learn?”
“From my father. He owns a dojo. We’re the only remaining practitioners of the Musabetsu Kakuto Ryuu!”
“Musabetsu Kakuto Ryuu?” Shampoo echoed. “Shampoo hear that name before…”
“The School of Indiscriminate Grappling. It’s quite possibly the hardest school to learn. I’ve been training most of my life, and I haven’t even learned half the techniques. One day, though, I’ll master our school, and I’ll be a sensei there when I finish school.”
“Shampoo sure you be good sensei, Akane-san. You have strong ki.”
“You can tell?” Shampoo nodded. “Wow, I’m so impressed. Oh, and Shampoo? Could you drop the -san? We are friends and all.”
“Yes, we two too close friends.” Shampoo paused, then asked, “Is okay if maybe Shampoo come see Akane dojo one day?”
“Sure, that’s be great. Maybe we can spar!”
“Good, and you come see Neko-haunten sometime for too too delicious ramen.”
“It’s a deal. But maybe later this week; I have tons of homework tonight.” So agreeing, the two split up for the day, Mousse joining Shampoo as soon as she exited the locker room. Akane headed back to her own house, but not alone as she was joined by her older sister Nabiki, who was in her last year at Furinkan.
“So, Akane-chan, are those two really Shampoo and Mousse?”
“I’m fairly sure they are, Onee-chan. They look right, act right, and most of all performed right in gym class this afternoon. They’re so far ahead of me!”
“Huh, they must be the real thing then. I’ll have to check for more on them later.”
“Nabiki! They just moved here! You could at least try to be nice!”
Nabiki sighed. It wasn’t that she was planning anything diabolical (at least not yet). She just liked to keep informed. Of course, if an opportunity came up, she certainly wouldn’t turn it down…
“Tendo Musabetsu Kakuto Ryuu,” Ranma read, now in his natural male form and wearing a black Chinese outfit (boy’s outfit). “This must be the place. Looks nicer than... Well, here goes nothing.” He took a deep breadth and knocked on the door.
Moments later, it was answered by a young woman with light brown hair wearing an apron over her dress. “May I help you?” she inquired politely.
“Hello,” he replied, bowing. “If it isn’t inconvenient, I’d like to speak with Tendo Soun.”
“Of course. Right this way.” She led him through the neatly manicured lawn and into the house. Ranma noted that, judging from the size, the Tendo family was well off financially, if not actually rich. The young woman slid a shoji open. “Otousan, there’s a young man here to see you,” she called.
“Then let him in please, Kasumi,” a voice called back. Ranma entered the room to see a middle-aged man dressed in a dark gi put down the newspaper he’d been reading. “I am Tendo Soun. How may I help you, young man? Are you here to enroll in one of my classes?”
“Ah…not exactly, Tendo-san. When you were younger, did you by any chance train with a man named Saotome Genma?”
Soun was rather surprised by the question. He’d not heard from his old friend in more than a year, when he’d received that postcard saying he was coming to visit. “Yes, I did. We were very good friends. In fact, we even agreed on an engagement between our children. But that will never happen now, I suppose. He was supposed to visit us about a year ago, but he never came nor sent me word why not,” Soun admitted sadly.
“Actually, Tendo-san, that engagement is the very reason I’m here now.” He took a deep breadth before plunging ahead. Bowing, he introduced himself, “I am Saotome Ranma, your old friend’s son, and I’m sorry it took me so long to honor your agreement. I only just…”
Ranma broke off and Soun flung his arms around his neck and started bawling uncontrollably. “Oh, happy day! At last, you’ve arrived! I have waited for this day! It’s so good to have you here, son!”
“Umm...” Ranma started, but was interrupted, as Soun regained his composure (well, most of it anyway).
“But where’s Genma? I’d have thought he’d be here too.”
“Sadly, my father is no longer able to be anywhere.” Seeing the older man’s confused expression, Ranma explained, “Oyaji died a little over a month ago, Tendo-san.”
“Oh, what a horrible tragedy! My old friend passed away before we could renew our friendship or see our children married!” And, predictably, he started wailing again. Ranma just sat there, uncomfortable, as the Tendo patriarch did his best impression of a sprinkler system for the next ten minutes.
Shampoo and Mousse returned to the Neko-haunten, discussing their first day of class. Their conclusion: it could have been worse, though they’d rather not think about how. Overall, the only real bright point was their new friend, Akane. “At least we managed to keep the curses a secret,” Mousse pointed out optimistically.
Shampoo shuddered. “It be very bad if learn about Jusenkyo. We back!” she called as they entered.
Cologne nodded back, busily cooking for the few after school customers. The restaurant was still brand new, but already drawing nice crowds. Shampoo and Mousse sat at an out of the way table to do their homework. They were just finishing shortly before the dinner crowd was due to arrive.
Cologne pogo-ed over. “How was school, you two? Not too hard?”
“We should be able to manage,” Mousse replied. “Furinkan is certainly no place for gifted students. Most of the other kids seem rather…odd. They enjoy staring and rumors more than anything. They seemed almost afraid of us. Only one girl was actually willing to meet us.”
“They just surprised. It get better soon,” Shampoo assured him.
Cologne nodded. “I’m sure you’ll both make many friends after they get used to you.” She grinned mischievously, “Although, if you really want to seem normal, introduce them to Ranma. You’ll seem like the norm in comparison to him!”
The two teenagers laughed at that. Shampoo asked, “Where *is* Ranma? Shampoo not see.”
“He had to go out briefly. He should be back soon.”
“Hello! Can I have some service here?” demanded a rowdy voice. They turned to see a woman with wild, bluish hair and a green dress.
“Welcome, please be seated,” Cologne called, bouncing over. “What would you like?”
“Actually, the main reason I’m here isn’t to eat. Here.” She held up a folded piece of paper which Cologne accepted.
“Fushicho Ryu?” she read the name. “No one by this name lives here.”
The woman shrugged. “I was told to bring it here. I don’t know anything more than you do. Can I have some dim sum?”
“Of course,” Cologne said distractedly, still staring at the name. Then she shoved it into her dress, putting it from her mind. Ranma had some serious explaining to do. As she returned a few minutes later with the order, she carefully addressed the woman. “Um, not to be impolite, but you seem…different, somehow.”
The woman laughed, pleased with the description. “That’s cause I *am* different, old lady. My name’s Ryoko, and I’m your worse nightmare come to live.”
“Yup,” with that, Ryoko completely disappeared from view. Cologne no longer detected her presence either.
She scowled. “Ryoko, huh? I’ll have to remember that. She owes me money for dinner.”
“Akane! Come here!” Akane looked up from her homework as she heard he father’s voice hailing her. She’d heard him call her sisters too. What could he possibly want? She shrugged and headed downstairs where she found the rest of her family waiting.
“Well, was it is?” Nabiki asked impatiently, having better things to do with her time.
“Maybe you remember about a year ago, I told you about my very good friend?”
Nabiki rolled her eyes, “Yeah, we remember that whole fiancé fiasco. What, have you finally heard from this guy?”
“As a matter of fact, yes. You fiancé is here right now, in the dojo.”
Akane did a double take. “Now? Here?”
“Yes. He’s only now returned from China. I’m afraid there were unforeseen circumstances that forced him to take this long.”
“Oh? Like what?” Nabiki asked. This better be good, after making us wait a whole year, she thought.
“My old friend Genma just recently passed away, and his son only now found out about the agreement. Now, come, come! He’s waiting to meet you!”
“Otousan, must I go through with this?” Kasumi asked politely.
“Don’t worry, Kasumi,” Soun assured his eldest. “I’ve already told about your engagement to Tofu-sensei. But I would like you to meet him.”
Nabiki and Akane exchanged glances. That left the duty of an arranged marriage to one of them. Akane bit her lip, wondering what kind of person he was. She’d had a whole year to get used to the idea, but she was still nervous about. What if he was a real creep? Then again, he might be really nice. Well, they were about to find out. She wary crossed into the dojo behind her sisters and father.
“Girls,” Soun spoke, “I’d like you to meet Saotome Ranma, your fiancé.”
Akane and Nabiki’s jaws hit the ground simultaneously, while Kasumi just murmured, “Oh my.” He’d been facing the other direction, but turned around when they entered and bowed in greeting. As he rose, Akane confirmed to herself that he really was the famous Saotome Ranma, right here in her dojo! She felt her face redden as she got her first good look at his face. The video clips hadn’t done him justice: he was even more handsome than she’d imagined. Wild black hair tied into a loose ponytail that fell halfway down his back. Stormy gray blue eyes. She wondered how he was built; it was hard to tell in the loose black outfit he wore.
Nabiki muttered something unrepeatable under her breadth, then turned on Soun. “You could have mentioned this sooner, Daddy!”
“What do you mean, Nabiki? You’ve known you about your fiancé for awhile now.”
“That’s not want what I meant! You could have mentioned he was famous!”
“Don’t you watch the news, Daddy? This is *the* Saotome Ranma! The greatest martial artist alive!”
“Hum, the name does strike a bell,” he mused while Nabiki face faulted. Soun turned back to Ranma. “Well, son, this is Kasumi, she’s twenty. She’s already engaged.”
Ranma bowed. “It’s an honor to meet you again, Kasumi-san. Your fiancé is a very lucky man.”
Akane felt herself blushing furiously. Even his voice was perfect! And very polite. I hope he says something like that to me! she thought.
Soun continued, “And this is Nabiki, she’s eighteen, and Akane is seventeen. Pick whichever one you like, she’ll be your fiancée.”
“Umm, before we rush into things, there is something I should really tell you, Tendo-san. You might want to rethink the engagement.” While Soun frowned, Ranma turned to eldest girl. “Kasumi-san, could you please bring me some hot and cold water?”
“Of course, Ranma-kun.” She left to fill his request. Silence reigned in the dojo for the few minutes until she came back. Akane’s heart was still hammering madly. What does he think of me? Has he even noticed me? What does he need water for? “Here you go,” Kasumi said, handing him the water before returning to her seat.
Ranma sighed, resigned to revealing his secret. “As you heard, my father and I recently traveled to China. While there, we had the misfortune to come across the cursed training grounds, Jusenkyo.” Akane frowned, recognizing the name from Mousse’s story earlier. “At this training ground, there are many springs, all of which have a different tragedy associated with it. At some time, each one has had something drown in it. The curse of Jusenkyo is that, should you fall in one its springs, you assume the form of whatever drowned there. My father fell in Maounichuan, Spring of Drowned Panda.” He took the glass of cold water and upended it over his head. “I fell in Nyannichuan, Spring of Drown Girl,” the petite redhead finished.
Soun instantly fainted. Nabiki leaned closer for a better look. Kasumi murmured, “Oh my.” And Akane…
Akane just sat there, shocked, after watching the man of her dreams turn into a robust, redheaded girl. “What…what happened?” she finally asked.
Onna-Ranma finally looked at her, apologetic. “This is my curse. Whenever I’m doused with cold water, I turn into a girl. However,” now she dumped the hot water on her head, “Hot water reverses the effect, at least till next time.” He gazed at his feet. “I’m really sorry about all this.”
“Akane-chan,” Nabiki turned to her youngest sister, “congratulations.”
“You two will make such a cute pair,” Kasumi added cheerfully.
“You get to be his new fiancée,” Nabiki informed her.
“What! Why me?”
“Because you hate boys. Well, you’re lucky, since Ramna’s half girl.”
“You…you want me to marry that…that freak?!”
“He seems like a nice boy, Akane-chan. Why don’t you give it a try?” Kasumi suggested gently.
“No way! I refuse to be seen with that pervert!”
Ranma winced. “Please, Akane-san, I never wished this upon myself.”
“Don’t talk to me you…you…BAKA!” With that, Akane ran out of the dojo and up to her room, where she promptly threw herself down on her bed. “It’s not fair,” she whispered as tears began to trickle from her eyes. “Why does this sort of thing always happen to me? Just because I complain about the boys at school. And he was so perfect!” She buried her face in her pillow, weeping.
End of Chapter Four
Author’s Notes: Well, Akane and Ranma haven’t exactly hit it off too well. At least he didn’t get clobbered by a table this time ^_^ Yep, in the year we missed, Tofu was able to maintain sanity long enough to ask Kasumi to marry him, so now they’re happy. And Cologne’s ready to track Ryoko to the ends of the earth to make her pay her tab. Ryoko just messed with the wrong little old lady!
Baka: fool, idiot
-Kun: Mr./Mrs./Miss/Ms., slightly less formal than -san. Usually said to younger people
-Chan: dear, honey; all-purpose term of affection/endearment. Usually only used between family members, or to little kids
Onee-chan: Older sister; informal
Onna: girl, female
Otousan: father, formal
Shoji: those nifty sliding doors made of rice paper
Musabetsu Kakuto Ryuu: School of Indiscriminate Grappling, viz translates as Anything-Goes
Oyaji: Pop, rude way to address one’s father or other old men
Gi: traditional martial arts outfit
Onto Chapter Five
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