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Chapter 2

A Ranma ½ / Highlander crossover story
by Dark Phoenix

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.

"This is really not as bad as it looks," Dr. Tofu told Ranma as he stitched the wound in Akane's arm. The girl was unconscious, thankfully, and no longer berating Ranma for sleeping with Shampoo. How had she gotten the idea that he had slept with the Amazon? “None of the muscle is torn, no arteries are damaged, and the blade didn't hit the bone. She should make a full recovery."

Ranma said, “Thanks for the trouble." Not that Akane would likely thank him for the trouble that he had endured to save her life. It wasn't really much, but over time a complete lack of gratitude was wearing.

The doctor made the last stitch and tied the thread off. “It was no trouble. I like to think of the Tendos as a part of my own family, one without an overbearing mother."

Ranma bent over to pick his fiancée up off the narrow table, but Dr. Tofu's hand on his shoulder stopped him. “She should stay here overnight." Ranma agreed reluctantly. Shampoo wouldn't break into the doctor's place. Well, she probably wouldn't. Ah, damn, he had better stay too, just to make sure. "Ranma, why did Shampoo attack Akane so violently?"

Ranma hesitated in answering, but this was Dr. Tofu and if he couldn't trust him, whom could he trust? “I told Cologne that I can't have kids. In a roundabout way she said I don't have to marry Shampoo now. Shampoo overheard and decided that it's Akane's fault." Not that he intended to marry Akane either.

"No children? You're sterile?" Ranma nodded. “When did you find out?" the doctor asked curiously.

No matter how much he trusted the man, Ranma had no intention of telling him that he was sterile because of his immortality. “I’d rather not say," he eventually answered.

Dr. Tofu nodded understandingly. “It can be difficult to learn of such things. I have some pamphlets on the subject and could direct you to a therapy group, if you wish."

Ranma chuckled and then saw the look of worry on the older man's face. "Oh, sorry. I just don't like children." More like he hated them. “I can't imagine ever wanting to have any."

The doctor shook his head sadly, letting out a long, drawn out sigh, the kind that held pity. “Someday, Ranma, someday you may change your mind. I'll always be here for you if it happens."

Ranma shifted on his feet uncomfortably, unused to compassion from anyone but Kasumi. "I don't know if Shampoo will try to kill Akane sometime tonight. Would you mind if I slept here tonight, just to be on the safe side?"

"Not at all, not at all." He gestured to another of the narrow beds across the room. “I have a spare futon upstairs if you want it, but the bed is about as close as you could be and still have a decent night's rest."

"The bed will be fine. Thanks," Ranma replied.

"Well, tomorrow promises to be a long day, and I need to get some rest. The combination of pressure points I used on Akane should keep her sleeping until morning," Dr. Tofu told Ranma before heading upstairs to his own rooms.

Ranma climbed into the bed and pulled the thin cotton sheet over himself, resigned to not getting a very good night's sleep.

Ranma awoke just as he struck the floor. On autopilot, he sprang from the cold floor and had his silver sword at hand in an instant. That reaction was becoming more ingrained, he noticed. Some day someone was going to surprise him and get their head cut off. Ranma sighed in relief when he saw that it was only Nabiki standing by his bed. The energy holding the air in place seeped back into his hand and he said, “Sorry, kinda jumpy."

"Save it for somebody that cares," Nabiki snapped. “I want to know why Shampoo was trying to kill my little sister, and what the wall did to offend her. Do you have any idea how much it's going to cost to fix it? What about all the stuff Akane is going to break when her arm is better? And Dr. Tofu isn't free, you know." Finally, the questions stopped and Nabiki took a deep breath, flushing slightly at her rambling inquisition.

The pig-tailed immortal grinned. “I got myself out of the engagement with Shampoo and she blamed it on Akane."

Nabiki's mouth fell open and something like a glimmer of respect flashed through her eyes as she reassessed Ranma. "How on earth did you manage that?" she asked in shock.

"I just told Cologne that I'm sterile," Ranma replied. He stepped a few feet away from the bed and busied himself working the kinks and cramps out of his muscles that the padded examination table passing for a bed had created.

Almost a minute of silence passed before Nabiki responded. “It’s going to be a real show if they ever see your kids. That lie might work for a while, but you should know better than to expect it to deter the amazons for long."

"It's not a lie," Ranma snapped. “I really can't have kids. The old ghoul even confirmed it with her chi senses."

Ranma had finished with his stretches by the time Nabiki spoke. "Ranma, are you telling the truth?" she asked grimly.

"Yes," he stated firmly, exasperation evident in his voice. Could letting that little c-c-cat out of the bag have been a mistake? Vaguely, Ranma wondered why Nabiki couldn't see that he spoke the truth. Every other time he had tried to hide anything from her or get by with some falsehood, she saw it immediately. Maybe she just couldn't trust him enough to accept raw honesty.

"Ranma, this changes everything. The engagement with my family is based entirely upon your ability to create an heir for Anything Goes." Nabiki looked down at her sister, still unconscious in her shiatsu-induced semi-coma. “Poor thing," she whispered quietly, quietly enough that only someone like Ranma or Cologne with the enhanced senses of a chi master, or one in training, could have heard it. She turned back to Ranma. "You aren't going to go through with the engagement, then?"

He might as well tell her. Ranma knew that it would only take Nabiki a couple minutes to figure it out anyway. “No, none of them."

Nabiki's eyes practically glowed with greed, but only for a moment. She must have some scruples; otherwise she wouldn't hesitate in exploiting what would most likely be a very traumatic piece of news for her sister.

Of course the slightest hint of a plane of silver growing from Ranma's hand could have helped with the decision. “Not that I care too much, but if I miss another day of school, I won't be able to pass this year. Could you look out for her while I run to the house and change into something without blood on it?" he asked.

In response to the question, Nabiki reached down beside her and pulled a small duffel bag into view. “There’s a change of clothes for each of you and a pair of bento from Kasumi."

Ranma gratefully accepted the garments and went in search of a furo, or at the very least a shower. He found Dr. Tofu descending the stairs from his upstairs apartment just as he was going up. “Morning, doc. Do you mind if I wash up?"

"Good morning, Ranma. No, go right ahead. It's the door at the end of the hall."

Behind him, Ranma heard the tell-tale grating whisper of steel being drawn, almost immediately followed by the stabbing sensation that he got behind his eyes whenever another immortal was near. What in hell kind of idiot would start a fight to the death in broad daylight while surrounded by numerous pedestrians and commuters? Ranma looked over his shoulder. What was it with trench coats? So far he had only encountered three other immortals that didn't wear the confining garments. He supposed that they helped to hide swords, but those who chose not to didn't seem to lack for any sharp metal objects with which to kill him.

"Son of a bitch," he growled, jumping onto the roof of an adult bookstore. He had been looking forward to a nice, peaceful walk to school without any chance of being assaulted by Akane or Shampoo, but keeping his secret from the world took priority over such simple pleasures.

The muscles in Ranma's legs, as well as a small amount of chi, were bunched tightly in preparation for the first leap towards school when a loud boom, not unlike thunder, but sharper, rang out in the damp morning air. He felt the bullet heading for him, but taken off guard, and set up for a different movement, Ranma couldn't dodge the metal slug as it tore into his chest at a sharp angle. He didn't even feel any pain, despite liquefied lungs and an exploded heart. Bonelessly, Ranma slumped onto the gravel-lined roof, a mist of crimson blood hanging above his corpse.

"How did this little pup take out Jervis?" asked a tall blond woman with a stunningly beautiful, yet extremely cold face. She reached behind her back and drew her jewel-hilted rapier.

"I don't know, Leslie," replied a stocky man with a bushy black mustache and a shiny bald head, “but you can put that pig sticker away. This one is mine. Remember, you got that Dick Clark guy last month."

Leslie sighed dramatically and re-sheathed her sword. “I suppose so. Heaven knows you need all the help you can get."

The man ignored the comment and drew a bastard sword from his trench coat, taking a moment to untangle it from an errant tie, then wincing as the pommel of the sword jerked loose and slammed into the dumpster they stood beside. He looked down at Ranma, lying in a pool of his own blood.

"Damn it, get it over with before someone shows up or he revives. Look, the wound is almost healed already," Leslie snapped.

He grumbled, but didn't respond, letting his sword speak for him as he swung it at Ranma's unprotected neck in an almost comical parody of a golf swing. At the very last moment, Ranma rolled over out of the sword's arc. The roll turned more complex, becoming a tumbling back summersault. When Ranma landed back on the garbage-strewn street, he was bent halfway over and clutching the still half healed wound that composed the majority of his chest. He could barely breath with the one partially healed lung that he had and every breath he could manage brought up fresh blood and left pink foam at the corners of his mouth.

Ranma extended a trembling arm and called on what little energy he could to form an air blade. It flickered for a few moments, but eventually solidified.

"That answer your question?"

"Shut up James," Leslie whispered fiercely. “What in hell is going on?" she asked rhetorically.

Ranma could feel his body slowly knitting itself back together, but couldn't spare any energy to help the process along. If the two immortals had only stood around like idiots for another couple minutes, there wouldn't have been a problem, but not many people were really that stupid. He watched as the man, James, slowly approached, almost thankful he was so weak. Always before he had blunted the edges of the air blades he formed when fighting other immortals, so as to give them some sort of chance, but this time he just didn't have the strength to make the thicker blade required for such mercy.

In the last burst of energy he could summon, Ranma surged forward, slicing downward toward James. The bald immortal brought his own sword up to defend himself, but the simple steel was no match for a blade as sharp and deadly as a laser. The pig-tailed immortal's blade passed cleanly, effortlessly, through James' sword and his neck, coming out of the flesh just below his armpit. So smooth was the cut that James was able to look down, wondering how he had survived, only to have his forward momentum pull both his head and arm off.

He heard Leslie gasp. He had forgotten about her! He was surely dead now. There would be no way he could retain enough motor control immediately after a quickening to even put up a token resistance against the women. At least he would experience the immense pleasure/pain of one last quickening before his end.

By the end of the electrical/chi storm, Ranma was fully healed. He didn't expect for that to remain in effect for long though, not with another angry immortal waiting to decapitate him.

"Kid, quit sitting around and get over here," said someone in a clear, feminine voice. It wasn't Leslie's, he realized.

Ranma peeled his temporarily super-sensitized eyes open and squinted to ward off the glare. Standing by the dumpster, an attractive woman with severely short platinum white hair, held a sword to Leslie's throat. Leslie's own sparkling piece of death was held in the woman's free hand.

He groaned, climbing unsteadily to his feet. The muscles in his legs continued to spasm weakly, but he managed to fight them down after a minute of leaning against the alley wall. Alleys sure were popular lately, especially with immortals.

"Are you going to stand there all day and wait for someone with enough balls to check what just happened?" the white-haired woman growled. Leslie made a lunge for her sword but the other woman's pressing tightly against her throat was enough incentive to give up.

"I can't help it, lady," Ranma returned as acidly as possibly. “I was dead a minute ago; it's taking time to get my balance back."

"The name's Amanda," Amanda said, bringing the hilt of her sword down sharply on Leslie's head, rendering the woman senseless.

"I'm Ranma," he told her just before he coughed the last of the coagulated blood out of his now undamaged lungs.

Amanda walked over to him and slid her arm around his shoulder. “You must be pretty young for a quickening to effect you so strongly," she said as they walked out onto the sidewalk. No one was even paying any attention to the alley, despite the miniature cataclysm that had just occurred within it. Ah, the joys of Nerima and its shell-shocked inhabitants.

"Yeah," Ranma replied, shrugging off Amanda's supporting arm as his body once again came fully under his control, “but it's getting better."

Ranma couldn't go to school in his present condition. His clothes were torn, burned, and bloody. He would just have to hope that his tardiness would be excused. For almost a block the two immortals remained silent, until finally Amanda said, “You got lucky, kid. If I hadn't felt you nearby, Leslie would have your head now. If you want to survive, you've got to play the game, and part of the game is not to do stupid shit, like take on two much older immortals."

"I didn't have much choice," grumbled Ranma. "One of them shot me. I managed to get the bald one, though."

Amanda nodded in approval.

A few minutes later and they stood outside the gate to the Tendo compound. Amanda saw the School's sign and said, “You’re a lot luckier than most of us, Ranma, that's for sure. If we could all come into the game already trained, things would be totally different."

Ranma had to agree with that. Before she left, Ranma said to her, “Thanks, Amanda. I'd be dead if you hadn't stopped her."

She waved the gratitude off briskly and pulled a black business card with golden letters from a small pocket in her purse. “This is where I'm staying. If you need to talk, get in touch with me." With that, she turned and walked in the opposite direction, never looking back.

It was relatively easy to sneak into the house, quickly scrub himself free of dried blood, and change into less ragged clothes. Ranma gathered his discarded clothes in a bundle. They would be his only way to prove that he really had been attacked on the way to school.

Ranma stepped into Dr. Tofu's office, barely avoiding stepping on a child that ran into his path. Even as he swerved out of the way, he knocked another one over. The little girl wasted no time in letting loose with the childish equivalent of a foghorn. He apologized to the harried looking old woman who was doing her best to corral another three children. What kind of hell had he walked into?

Long experience and countless visits had instilled in Ranma a casualness with the doctor's clinic that came close to that he felt for the Tendo home. He stepped into the examination room that he and Akane had occupied the night before, and found his fiancée sitting up on the little bed she had been consigned to. Her left arm was in a sling, but she was using it as well as she could, along with her uninjured right hand, to deface a stack of pictures, all of which Shampoo was in one unwitting pose or another. When Ranma came up behind her, she had just given the Amazon a goatee and a pair of curved horns.

"Nice work," he commented.

Akane jumped and turned to look over her shoulder at him. She glared at him and demanded, “What, tired of being with your Chinese slut?"

"I still don't know what you’re talking about," Ranma said. He propped himself up on the bed he had slept in. “I managed to get my engagement with her broken and you think I'm sleeping with her. Does that make any sense?"

Akane looked up from adding a set of whiskers to Shampoo's picture. Her eyes were wide, very wide. “You got out of your engagement with her? How?" All hints of anger had gone out of her voice, leaving the soft, caring voice of a non-homicidal maniac behind.

Ranma didn't know whether he should tell her or not, but then again, so many people already knew that she wouldn't go more than a few hours without finding out. “I found out that I'm sterile and when I told Cologne, she told me that I couldn't marry Shampoo because of another stupid Amazon thing. I guess Shampoo overheard and blamed it on you."

If Akane's eyes had been wide before, there was no comparison now. Her face was beginning to take on an unhealthy greenish-yellow cast also. “No children?" she whispered hoarsely. “But— but Ranma, how could you be sterile?" Her voice broke then and tears filled her eyes. Suddenly, she wailed very much like her father would, and jumped from the bed and ran to Ranma. She through her good arm around Ranma and sobbed onto his shoulder, "Oh, you poor thing, I'm so, so sorry that I got angry at you."

Ranma didn't know how to deal with this suddenly tearful, apologetic, and sympathetic Akane that had almost magically appeared. It wouldn't have been too hard to believe that the girl was possessed by a demon or spirit, or something. Nervously, he wrapped his arms around her and patted her on the back, murmuring, "It's all right, Akane. I don't mind too much. There's no way to change it, so I might as well not dwell on it." Damn, this was just weird, really, really weird.

Akane pulled back and looked up at Ranma. "What about us, Ranma? We'll never be able to have kids of our own! Waaahhh!!!"

Weird. For Ranma the world was in upheaval, even more so than when he had first died. Akane had always denied any feelings for him, stating adamantly that she wouldn't, under any circumstances, marry him. But now she was talking painfully of the children they would never have. Deep inside, almost to where he couldn't feel it, Ranma ached in sympathy for Akane. Had he once felt as strongly for the girl he held in his arms? Maybe. Maybe, but too much had happened between them for Ranma to ever allow himself to open up to her, and now, with what he was, there was no way he could have any fulfilling relationship with Akane.

That didn't stop him from holding her and giving her an outlet for her feelings. Finally, Dr, Tofu stepped into the room, unnoticed by Akane and eased up behind her. At a nod from Ranma, he depressed a trio of nerve clusters in her back and sent her into a deep, dreamless sleep.


To be continued.

Author's Notes: Just to let everybody know, I didn't even start reading ‘Echoes In Time’ until I was finished with this chapter of ‘Till Death Do We Part’. Some of the similarities, especially in some of the phrasing, are damned near scary, but I really didn't know. ‘All Whacked Out’— I love the story, by the way, and guess that the old phrase 'great minds think alike' comes into play here. A lot of weird stuff has been happening around me lately. Actually, I would almost believe I'm a bit psychic, but I'm not even remotely that lucky, so all those little things must be coincidence. Anyway, it seems like I may be on another one of those fanfic a day rolls that I hit a couple of months ago. Cross your fingers, people. C&C welcome at dark_phoneix@hotmail.com

Chapter 3
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