A Ranma ½ short story
by Adrian D. Moten
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
Two days before Christmas…
"Um, Akane, can I ask you a question?"
The girl in question, wearing white socks, black leggings, and a red sweater while currently sitting in the living room, set down the cookbook she was about to read and turned to face him. "What is it, Ranma?"
"Um, I was kinda wondering… since Mom's gonna to be here and all for Christmas this year… I was thinking… um…"
"You want to buy her a gift?"
Ranma nodded, tugging at the hem of his long-sleeved blue tang. "Yeah, but… I don't know what to get her, you know?"
"Well, what does she like?"
"That's a lot of help," Akane said flatly.
"Hey, I'm new to this, you know. Gimme a break, here."
"Sorry. What did your dad get her?"
"Him? Probably nothing."
"Well, how about you ask her what she would like?"
"No way! It's gonna be a surprise, you know?"
Akane smiled softly. "How sweet."
"Hey, don't go broadcasting it around. It's just that… you know, she's my mom, and I… you know…"
She nodded. "I understand. Why not try a box of chocolates?"
"Hey, I wanna get her a gift, not make her fat."
Akane blinked. "Wh- what do you mean by that?"
"I mean, if I got her a box of chocolates, her hips would get about as big as yours after you ate all that—"
The sofa Akane was sitting on now occupied the space where Ranma was still located. "Jerk," she said in a huff as she left the living room, heading towards the stairway.
Ranma padded to the kitchen, rubbing the bump on his head. "Geez… maybe I shouldn't have said that…" he murmured. Opening the door, he almost walked into Kasumi, who was cleaning her hands on her white apron.
"Oh, Ranma-kun! I didn't see you there."
"It's all right." Then he had a thought. "Um, Kasumi, can I ask you a question?"
"I don't mind. What is it?"
"Um, I… I wanna get something for mom, but…" He let the sentence trail off.
"Oh, I see! You wish to buy a present for your mother! How sweet!"
"Shh! I don't want it to get around!" Then he grew slightly meek. "So, um, you got any ideas?"
"I suppose you could go to the local greenhouse and purchase some flowers."
"Flowers?" He furrowed a brow. "What kind?"
"Well, roses are always nice, as well as chrysanthemums. I'm no expert at gardening, though, so you'd have to talk to the florist about the different kinds he has available at this time. However, I'm sure she would like some flowers."
Ranma grinned a little. "Thanks, Kasumi!"
"You're welcome," she responded as he quickly left the kitchen.
"You need to borrow how much?" Nabiki, dressed in mint-green overalls and a long sleeved, motley-striped shirt, quirked an eyebrow in question as she sat on the bed in her room.
Ranma sat on the floor in front of her. "Um, dunno. How much do flowers cost, anyway?"
"Flowers? It's a little late for that."
"Huh? What do you mean?"
"Well, Tsumoto-san, the owner of the greenhouse in Nerima, went on vacation after closing up yesterday. He won't be back for two weeks."
"You gotta be kidding!"
"Now would I do something like that?" she purred.
"Yeah," Ranma deadpanned, which earned him a disapproving frown from Nabiki. He sighed. "Now what am I gonna get her?" he mused aloud.
"Buying a present for one of your fiancées, are we?"
"No way! It's— it's a surprise, all right?"
"Are you nuts? Why would I buy you something?"
She tsked at him. "Oh, Ranma, Ranma… Please remember why you're here before you get too insulting."
He grunted. "Might as well leave since the greenhouse is closed." He started to get up.
"Now Ranma, is that any kind of attitude to have at this time of year? Tell you what; you clue me in to who this gift is for, and I shall do my best to help you decide what to get her."
He eyed her warily for a few moments.
"I won't even charge you for my services."
The youth sighed. "All right… It's for mom."
"Ah, yes. She is coming over for Christmas this year isn't she?" She put a finger to her lower lip in thought for a few moments before focusing her eyes on Ranma. "Jewelry."
He blinked. "Jewelry?"
"Mm, hmm. There's a nice selection at the jewelry store in the shopping center."
"Sounds good, I guess."
"I would think you'd be a little more enthusiastic."
"Isn't jewelry expensive, though?"
"It is, but, since this is the holidays, I'll loan you seventy-five hundred yen to help you out."
Ranma's eyes bugged out of his head. "Really?!"
"Mm, hmm. I feel generous around this time of the year." She picked up her purse wallet and procured the amount she had said.
"Thanks, Nabiki! You're not such a bad girl after all!" Gleefully, he took the cash and stuffed it down into his own wallet.
"Of course, the interest you have to pay me back will be slightly larger, say twenty percent more?"
He squawked like a chicken; being around Nabiki improved him mathematics, at least as far as percentages went. "Tw- twenty percent?!"
"Take it or leave it," she said, wearing the kind of smile that brooked no leniency.
He sighed in defeat. "Just when you think you're right, you're wrong," he murmured far beneath his breath.
"I hate this…" Ranma grumbled as he stood amid the sea of last-minute shoppers frantically buying gifts. Irritated, he hopped up onto a random shopper's head and, using it for a catapult, sprang forward to another, and then another. The last one, a longhaired boy with coke-bottle glasses gave a cry of indignation before he hurled three yo-yos and an eagle claw at the offender. Thinking fast, Ranma swayed to his right and shot his left arm out. His forearm connected with the rope of the four lethal objects, and he brought it down sharply before snapping it around in a full circle motion, then grabbed the cords, holding them fast. "Hey, Mousse."
The Chinese youth adjusted his glasses, then bellowed, "Saotome, what is the meaning of this?!"
"Sorry, in a rush. Later…"
"Gah! Wait a minute!"
"What is it now, Mousse? I gotta get a gift."
"You still have my weapons around your arm!"
"Oh, that?" He unwound them from his arm, and Mousse retracted them back into the folds of his billowy white robe's sleeves. "Gotta go."
Exasperated, Ranma whirled on him. "What now?!"
Mousse took a moment to adjust his glasses again. "What are you doing here in the first place, Saotome?"
"Look, I'm here to pick up a gift from this jewelry shop. Will you go away now? I ain't got much time left."
"What a coincidence; we have the same goal in mind. I'll accompany you."
"Fine, whatever. Can we go now?"
The two young martial artists walked into the Joudama, or the Pretty Woman Shop. Inside, they could have been well blinded by the dazzling display of lights illuminating the sparkling array of diamonds and other various jewels presented in the jewelry showcase. Several people, mainly young men, were gathering around many cases carefully choosing and purchasing a variety of items.
Ranma took one display case, Mousse located himself at another. After a few minutes, the found new displays to look through. Another few minutes, they switched off, sweatdrops appearing at their temples. Pretty soon, they met at the entrance doorway with gloom hanging over their heads. "This is not good," they said simultaneously upon leaving.
"I can't believe those prices," Ranma grumbled. "The lowest thing in there was at least nine thousand yen. I ain't got that kinda money."
"Not only that, they're all sold out of the kitty charms with the different jewels in their bellies. I was going to buy one for Shampoo a month ago, but I was short on money."
Ranma cringed briefly at the thought of Shampoo with a bunch of cats hanging around her neck. "Geez, now what am I gonna get mom?"
Mousse shrugged. "I'm afraid I can't help you there. I need to find another present for Shampoo and fast. I'll see you later, Saotome." He ran off, losing himself in the flowing crowd.
"Great," Ranma said after a long pause. "Now what do I do?"
A Day Before Christmas…
Ukyou was set to close the Ucchan's at four o'clock in the afternoon. Just as the last customer left, she ducked down beneath the grill and began to turn off the gas. While doing so, she heard someone come inside. "Sorry," she said, sliding out from below. "We're closed, so you'll— Ranchan!"
In walked Ranma, a dejected look on his face. "Hey, Ucchan."
"What's the matter, Sugar? You look like you could use a friend. Come on, pull up a seat."
He absently chose a seat at the counter and sat down.
"Want me to fix you up a special? It's on the house."
"Nah, that's okay."
"All right, Ranchan. 'Scuse me a sec." Briskly, the okonomiyaki chef slipped out, collected the store nahon, placed the "Closed" sign in the window, then returned to the counter, rolling up the royal blue banner. "Now," she said, setting it down on the counter. "What's up?"
Ranma took a deep breath, the related to her his dilemma.
"Wow," Ukyou commented. "So you still have no idea what to get your mom?"
"Not a thing, and it's really driving me nuts." Something then occurred to him. "Hey, Ucchan, why'd you close up so early?"
"Oh, didn't I tell you? I'm going down to Kobe tonight and spend a few days there. I figured I'd drop in on dad and spend Christmas with him. It's been a while, and we have a lot of catching up to do."
The Saotome son nodded a bit. "Okay. I guess I'll see you later."
"All right, Ranchan. Sorry, I'm not much help with your problem, but don't worry too much about it. Things'll work out in the end."
"Mm, hmm. So 'Merry Christmas,' okay, Ranchan?"
He gave a small smile. "Okay. Merry Christmas, Ucchan."
Walking from the Ucchan, Ranma thought long and hard about what to get for his mom. Unfortunately, it didn't take too long before he hit a mental sandbar and the entire ship of ideas sank to the bottom of his mind. "I just don't know what to get her. What would she like?" He frowned more. "What does she like?"
"What a haul, what a haul!!"
Ranma froze in his tracks. "Not him again…"
Despite all the wishing in the world, a short, nimble old man carrying a dark sack at least twice his size was hopping from rooftop to rooftop. Every now and then, a pair of panties or a bra would bounce out and land who knows where. One such item, a silky pair of pink undies with little white frills around the elastic waist, tumbled on top of the Saotome son's head. As he removed the object with two fingers and a great deal of open disgust for the old man's fetish, said old man noticed him. "Ranma, my boy! Care to join me on a great panty excursion?"
"No way, Happousai!"
"Oh, come on." Happousai hopped down from the roof, deftly snatching the silky from the youth in his descent. "Think of it as a Christmas present from me to you."
"Ugh. I can live without that kind of present." Something in the pigtailed boy's mind chose that moment to remind him of his own dilemma. "Um, I… I still have to do some shopping."
"Oh? Buying your Master a gift? You're so good to me, my boy!"
Ranma almost choked. "No way, you old fart! It's for mom!" Again, something in his mind reminded him of his dilemma. "But… I really don't know what to get her…"
"Is that so?" The withering founder of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts took out his long smoking pipe, tapped in some tobacco into it, lit it, and took a long drag, wearing a thoughtful expression.
"Um… listen. I really don't think this'll do much good, but… any ideas for a gift for mom?
"Why, Ranma, my boy. What does any lovely lady want for a gift?"
"You, dead?" he asked with a completely straight and honest face. He was rewarded with a hard rap on the head from Happousai's pipe.
"No! They want panties! And brassieres! By the hundreds! They love undergarments almost as much as me!"
The younger man rubbed his head gingerly as he gave the old man in the burgundy ninja outfit a skeptical look. "Really?"
"Yes!" Faster than the normal human eye could perceive, he whipped out a matching emerald bra and panty set. "Now, if you would be so kind as to try these on— to see how well they would look on your mother, of course—"
Angrily, Ranma punted him hard into the air.
"What happened to your Christmas spiiriiiitt…" Happousai shouted as he rapidly sailed away, becoming a speck on the horizon.
"Dirty old man…" he grumbled. A moment later, he sighed. "Geez, I'm still stuck."
He groaned. "What is it now?" He turned around to face whomever just shouted out his name. It turned out to be Ryouga, running down the sidewalk towards the pigtailed martial artist. "Hey, Ryouga. What'cha doing? And why are you carrying your sack like that?"
"It broke, and I gotta get a new one." Ryouga Hibiki was holding his travel-weary backpack by one shoulder strap; the other one was nowhere to be seen. His bamboo umbrella, which was heavier than lead, lightly rested on his shoulder. "However, the shopping center keeps moving around on me!"
"Going to Akari's place?"
"Er, yeah, at least I'm trying to."
"Well…" A light bulb went off in his head just then. "Hey, how about I take you to the center, then to Akari's?"
"Sure about that? I mean, the place is pretty crowded, what with it being Christmas Eve and all."
"Yep. In fact, I have some shopping to do, too…"
Christmas finally arrived. Peace on Earth, goodwill to men. Families all over the world celebrated the day through and through, exchanging gifts, eating breakfast and dinner together, church fellowship and worship, and so on and so forth.
It was no different in the Tendo residence. The Tendos and Saotomes had a joyous time, like many other families worldwide. Well, maybe it was a little different when it came down to the gift-giving session. Among the others, Ranma received three different books: 'Understanding Women' from Shampoo, who had delivered in days before; 'How To Ask A Girl Out Without Embarrassing Her To Death' from Ukyou, who forgot to give it to him yesterday, so she dropped it of on her way to the train station; and 'Getting Married For Life and Family' from Genma and Soun as a not-so-subtle hint. Then it came down to Nodoka's present.
"Mom," Ranma said. "I got you something."
His mother Nodoka, the auburn-haired woman wearing a familiar blue kimono and white tabi socks, looked at her son in mild surprise. "You did?"
"Mm hmm. Lemme get it for you." He ran out of the living room and went up the stairs.
"I wonder what he purchased for me," she mused aloud.
Seconds later, light thumping was heard coming down the staircase and towards the living room, where everyone else was located. In came the pigtailed youth, carrying a large box wrapped in glossy green paper and red ribbon, which was topped off with a puffy ribbon bow. It was placed before Nodoka almost as if an offering to the gods.
"Mom, this is for you. Come on and open it up."
"All right, all right, son." She tugged at the bow a few times, and the structure collapsed. The ribbon was easily removed afterwards. Next, she pulled the paper apart from where it was taped on top of the box and revealed a plain, taped-up cardboard box. Carefully, she broke the seal, then made an excavation of it, extracting…
Everyone gasped, which startled Nodoka; she wasn't aware that she had become the spotlight of attention beforehand.
"A backpack?" Akane first asked, mainly out of disbelief. "You bought your mom a backpack?"
"A good thing he got all those books," Nabiki commented dryly.
Soun and Genma were dumbstruck.
Kasumi merely watched events unfold with noted interest.
A puzzled Nodoka rooted through the pack. "It's not just a backpack. There's also a canteen—" Gently, she set down a round, metal canteen. "—a flashlight—" She placed beside the canteen a heavy, yellow flashlight with a rubber grip complete with a pack of "D" Cell batteries. "—some matches, a map, a compass, and a sleeping bag—" Those items joined the previous ones. "—and… a letter for me."
The last item came to her hand. Tearing it open, she read the piece of paper folded inside.
When she hadn't said or done anything for five minutes, Ranma began to sweat. "Ah… mom?"
The letter fell from nerveless fingers, exposing her face, wet with tears.
That was more than enough to send her son into a panic. "Imsorry-Imsorry-Imsorry-Imsorry!"
Nodoka stood up very slowly, facing her son who was about the have a heart attack. She then threw herself into the young man's arms, which not only calmed his fraying nerves almost instantly, but also sent him spiraling into a web of confusion. "Mom?"
"Oh, Ranma! How thoughtful of you! It's the best gift I could have ever gotten!" She proceeded to cry tears of joy into her son's shoulder.
Snapped out of his stupor, Genma picked up the letter which his wife had dropped a moment ago and read it aloud for everyone else's benefit:
"My, my… Ranma had a good idea after all," Nabiki mused, smirking a little. "Who would have thought it?"
"Ranma…" Akane beamed at him.
Kasumi smiled as well.
Soun laughed heartily at Genma's expense.
"Why that ungrateful…" the Saotome patriarch grumbled under his breath. Looking at his wife and son together brought a hint of a smile to his face, though.
"Ranma, are you ready to go yet?"
"Coming, mom." He shouldered his pack and tucked the pup tent beneath his arm. "Jeez, who'd thought she'd wanted to try out her gear the next day? Couldn't she have waited until spring?"
"You know, it was your idea, boy."
"Yeah, yeah… At least it makes her happy."
"And it's only overnight."
"Of course, we could really just go off for the next few years or so."
"Boy, don't even joke like that with me."
"Who said I was joking?"
"Kidding, pops." Ranma left the room and took the stairs down.
Nodoka was waiting for him at the front door, her own backpack shouldered, which looked pretty odd, considering she was still wearing a kimono. "Ready, Ranma?"
"Yeah, mom. Let's go!"
Author's notes: Happy Holidays all!
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