A Ranma ½ story
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. In no way is this a claim to these characters. I make no money from this.
Exar, A.K.A. Ben Jernigan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Foreword: There are really longwinded author's notes at the bottom. Read if you care to. Some ideas about the nature of ki shamelessly ripped off from Brian Randall's "Burst of Confidence". But largely based on the manga anyway. Comments and constructive criticism always welcome. Flames will make me cry. Do you really want that on your conscience?
Ranma rolled out of bed at his standard time. 6:34 A.M. He would have sparred with the old man, but Genma was in panda form, and still hung over. Got to practice by myself this morning, he thought. Oh well, it's not like I really need Pops anymore.
He pulled on a gi and leapt out the window, certain in his ability to land safely. He hadn't reckoned on Shampoo being in the way.
She'd been indecisively standing at the edge of the roof, trying to determine if she should wake him, and had decided not to, this time. She'd just jumped down to go when he exited the building.
They collided in midair, and spun wildly out of control before crashing in a heap on the ground below.
Ranma lay on his back, gasping for air due to Shampoo landing atop him. She recovered instantly and twisted to face him.
"Nihao, Ranma. Shampoo come remind you of promise you make to take her on date. Festival is coming up this weekend and Shampoo would like go with Airen!" she said, bubbly and cheerful and clearly enjoying lying on top of Ranma.
"Sure, Shampoo, just get offa me, wouldja? I gotta warm up," he mumbled, gesturing with the one hand that wasn't trapped between them.
"Wo ai ni, Ranma," she said, then rose and leapt away.
Ranma got up and began his morning regimen. It was going to be a long day. He just knew it.
Ranma walked into the kitchen where Kasumi was making breakfast.
"Mornin', Kasumi. What'cha fixin'?"
"Good morning, Ranma," she said, smiling. "The store had a sale on traditional American breakfast food, so I thought we'd try a little variety this morning."
Spread on the counter before her was a box of pancake mix, some eggs, bacon, bread for toast, and instant powdered grits.
"Wow. I've never had an American breakfast before. Their burgers are pretty good, though. And with you cooking, it can't be bad."
Kasumi blushed at the complement and shooed him out of the kitchen with orders to take a bath.
Ranma walked into the hall and past the stairs just as Akane came down. She saw him and hurried to catch up.
"Ranma…," she said, tentatively.
"Yes, Akane?", Ranma replied, carefully keeping his face calm.
"After your bath, I… I'd like to talk to you." She lowered her gaze and stared at the floor, hoping he'd give her a chance.
"Uh, sure. I'll meet you in the dojo, okay?"
"Sure. Er… thanks, Ranma," she said, turning and sprinting back up the stairs.
Ranma stared at where she'd been, thinking to himself 'What was that all about?'.
Ryoga awoke in a small cage, unsure of where he was. In the next cage over, there lay a duck.
"Bwee!!" (Translation for those who don't speak pig: Mousse? Where am I?)
"Qwack…" (Translation for those who don't speak duck: Just five more minutes, mom…)
"Bwee, bwee!" (Mousse, wake up! Get me outta here!)
"Quack, wakk." (Ryoga, you know I can't understand you when you're a pig. Leave me alone.)
"WEE! BWEE! BWEEE! BWEEEE!!" (ARRGH! I CAN'T UNDERSTAND YOU! I HATE BEING A PIG! RANMA, THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT!)
Shampoo walked in, wondering what all the ruckus was about, and saw that Ryoga had woken up.
"Pig-boy, Shampoo turn you human if promise not hit on Shampoo."
Ryoga held one hoof up in a porcine version of a scout's salute. "Bwee." (I Promise.)
Mousse was too busy having a conniption fit to really do much. "Quack-Wakk-Wakk!" (What? Hibiki hitting on my Shampoo? I'll never stand for it! Never!!)
Shampoo pulled Ryoga out of his cage, walked to one of the Cat Cafe's bathrooms and tossed him in, along with his clothes and a kettle.
Moments later, a human, clothed, and slightly steaming Ryoga walked out of the bathroom.
"Shampoo, thank you for your hospitality, could I repay you by taking you to a movie tonight?"
"ARRGH! Shampoo forget! Casanova Point not work on animal, only human. Promise made in pig form not hold."
"I'm sorry, did I break my promise? Let me make a new one. I'll be by your side forever. Now let's seal our promise with a kiss."
"Stupid Pig-boy try make Shampoo sick? Out!"
Shampoo cut off what Ryoga had planned to say by grabbing him by the neck and throwing him headlong out a convenient window.
She sat down at a table and reigned in her temper.
"Aiyah. Even Mousse not that annoying."
Ranma walked into the dojo with a wary look on his face. He wasn't sure what to expect from Akane, but he wasn't expecting it to be pleasant. She hated him, after all.
He walked up to where she sat, leaned against one wall, and squatted down in front of her, resting on the balls of his feet, heels in the air.
"Whattaya want to talk about, Akane?"
Akane stared at him for a moment, a small blush riding her features, and then spoke.
"Ranma, I… may have been mistaken. I want to apologize. To you. I said some things that I didn't really mean. I'm not saying I like you or anything, but I don't hate you, Ranma. I'd kind of like to be your friend."
Ranma froze in astonishment as dozens of voices repeated in his head: Akane doesn't hate you.
Akane stared at him, nervously working her hands, waiting for him to respond.
Finally, he snapped out of his daze and replied.
"Akane, I, uh, I accept your apology. I'd like to be your friend, too."
Ranma thought to himself, 'I love her, but she doesn't love me back. If 'friends' is the best I can get, I'll take it.'
He extended his hand. "Friends?"
Akane thought to herself, 'I l— like him, but he doesn't seem to like me back. If 'friends' is all I can get, I'll take it.'
She took his hand in her own and shook it. "Friends. I still get to mallet you if you do something perverted, though. And you better be good to my sister!"
"I wouldn't have it any other way."
Akane let go of his hand, and smiling, asked, "Hey, would you like to spar? You know, for fun?"
"Umm, yeah. Now that you aren't my fiancée, I guess I can do that. Just let me do something real quick."
Ranma walked over to the door and picked up the bucket kept there. He stepped outside, and dumped the water over himself.
Ranma walked back inside, replaced the bucket, and moved up to face Akane.
"Now we can go. It doesn't feel as weird fighting a girl when I am one."
He took a relaxed stance, and she a tense, stylized one. Reacting to an unseen signal, they rushed at each other, and began their dance.
Kasumi watched them from her place just outside, and felt glad that Ranma and Akane had settled some of their differences. She just couldn't understand the small part of her that wished they hadn't.
Breakfast passed quietly, but without the awkward silences that had become common lately, as Ranma and Akane attempted to ignore each other's very existence.
As Ranma helped Kasumi pick up the dirty dishes, he cleared his throat and spoke softly.
"Kasumi, I wanted to talk to you about this weekend. The Festival is comin' up and…"
"That's wonderful, son! You're welcome to take Kasumi to the festival! Here, I'll even help out and give you some money to take her with!"
Ranma found himself being hugged and backslapped at the same time, as his father and Mr. Tendo congratulated him for taking the initiative with Kasumi. Soun shoved a small wad of bills into Ranma's hand, making Ranma mildly angry, because he knew where the money had likely come from.
Kasumi had an odd look on her face, almost hopeful, but also partially fearful. Ranma saw this, and for once accurately interpreted the emotions he saw there.
"Ranma, is this true? Did you want to take me to the festival?" she asked.
Ranma couldn't say no to that face. He just couldn't do it.
"Yeah, Kasumi, I did. Wouldja like to go with me?"
She smiled then, and the smile lit up her face like a beacon. This was different than the normal 'cheerful' smile she wore all day. This was a genuine smile that simply showed how happy she was. Ranma knew he was going to get into trouble about this, but somehow, looking at Kasumi's smile, it didn't really matter.
Ranma was Sitting Still.
And he was breathing.
Because that's how you meditate.
Sit Still, Breathe In and Out. Be at One with the Cosmos.
Be Cosmically Bored.
"This isn't working."
Ranma's ankle was healed, but never one to pass up an opportunity, he was milking it a bit, and stayed home another day.
He was currently trying various methods of thinking of a way out of the latest mess he seemed to have found himself in.
Fact: Ranma promised to take Shampoo to the festival.
Fact: Ranma promised to take Kasumi to the festival.
Problem: There is only one Ranma.
Solution that won't hurt anyone's feelings: Still in progress.
Ryoga was lost.
Normally, this isn't saying much. Rather, it's like saying a tree is green or that water is wet. In other words, generally true, but with some variance based on seasonal changes.
Today, he was fairly sure where he was geographically, but he was still going places he'd never been before.
For instance, a singles bar.
He'd seen the sign for the bar from six blocks away, while trying to find his way to the Tendo Dojo, and suddenly lost all control of his feet.
Now he was inside, and facing a rather pretty girl with pink hair, enough piercings to set off a metal detector next door, and breath like a Tennessee still.
Ryoga wasn't totally certain what time zone he was in, but he was pretty sure it was a little early to be as drunk as this girl seemed to be.
"Yer cute, mister."
"Why thank you miss, you are a vision of loveliness yourself."
"Join me for a drink?"
"I'd rather you joined me for a stroll. I know of a little place we can go to be alone."
In his own mind, Ryoga sighed in frustration, having become somewhat used to being a passenger in his own body.
"You're a bold one, but I'm in the mood for a little fun. Lead on"
Ryoga took her arm and walked out the door, a confident spring in his step.
They walked a few blocks in silence, with Ryoga internally wondering how he was going to get out of this, and the girl seeming to need all her concentration to stay upright. Ryoga began to get truly concerned when they found themselves standing in front of a love hotel.
The girl clutched Ryoga's arm and looked up into his eyes.
"I hope you martial artist types are a flexible as you look while yer fightin'."
The passing car, and the spraying water it launched into the air as it hit a puddle, mercifully saved him from responding.
Never had Ryoga been so grateful for his curse. If he landed in a cookpot five minutes from now, he still would be glad for it.
P-chan fled as quickly as his porcine hooves could carry him.
Ranma stood in front of the Cat Cafe, hesitant to enter, but not knowing where else to go.
Mousse walked by, glasses off, and Ranma saw little reason to provoke him. Ignoring the white robed martial artist, Ranma walked inside.
Cologne looked up for her cooking and saw him enter. She hopped out into the dining room to greet him.
"Welcome, son-in-law! Shampoo isn't here, if you were coming to visit her; or did you want your old job back?"
"Neither, ol' ghoul. I wanted to ask you a question."
"Really? You have need of my wisdom? Perhaps you should be more respectful when you come asking favors, son-in-law."
"I didn't mean ta…"
"Yes you did, young man. You were quite clear. Until you can be more respectful, I see no need to tell you anything. Good day."
Shocked at her abrupt refusal, Ranma watched Cologne hop away.
Ranma realized he would gain nothing here, and left.
As he walked down the sidewalk, away from the restaurant, he muttered, "She'll teach me all kinds of things when I want her to leave me alone, but when I want to learn something, she blows me off. What's the deal with that?"
Unexpectedly, a voice answered him.
"Saotome, that is because not every martial arts instructor is like your father, or Happosai. Some are truly worthy of respect, and expect it, rather than demand it. Especially from students attempting to learn the deepest secrets of the art."
Ranma whirled in surprise, to see Mousse leaning against a telephone pole, glasses on.
"Why should I respect the ol' ghoul? She's caused nothin' but trouble for me since she came here!"
"Yes, trouble that has taught you some of the most powerful of the Chinese Amazon techniques. You think she teaches just anyone the Chestnut Fist? Or the Rising Dragon Ascension Wave?"
Mousse added in a quieter, more dangerous tone of voice, "You think she's taught them to me?"
Ranma swallowed nervously, and replied, "I— I never thought about that."
"Well, start thinking, Saotome. I saw the end of your fight with Dr. Tofu the other day. If you want Cologne to teach you the secrets of ki, you will have to treat her like the master she truly is."
"Why are you telling me this, Mousse?"
"Why? Because I want you to try, and I want you to fail. And I want you to do it right in front of Shampoo, so she can see the truth about Ranma Saotome."
"Gee, thanks. You're on top of my Christmas list, too."
Mousse simply smirked and strode away from Ranma.
Ranma approached the sleeping panda with a kettle in hand. He poked his father experimentally with his foot, then dumped the kettle on the unconsious bear.
Genma sat up spluttering and flailing his arms randomly, forcing Ranma to duck or be swatted.
Genma regained his composure and glared balefully at his son.
"What are you doing, boy? There's no reason to disturb your poor father in such a way."
Ranma sat in front of his father and said, "I need your help, Pop. I need to learn about somethin' called ki."
Genma sat up, a serious look on his face.
"Ranma, my boy. I know you are committed to learning and perfecting the art, but you must think long and hard before deciding to learn a ki-based attack."
Okay. The "wise teacher" act I'm used to, but this is different. "Why's that, pop?"
"As soon as you learn a ki attack, your rivals will rush and train and learn their own. Once you all have ki attacks, any of you making the smallest mistake in a fight could easily kill an innocent bystander. Are you ready to take that risk?"
"I'd rather not, pops, but Doc Tofu already knows a ki attack and has used it on me. I need something to counter with."
"Hmm. Very well. I suggest you speak with Cologne, then. She can teach you."
"Why not you, pops?"
"I have my reasons, boy. Leave me be."
With that, Genma tipped a glass onto his head and rolled over, slipping into ursine slumber.
Ranma walked slowly through the Tendo house, his hands clasped behind his back.
"Well, great. Pops was no help at all. I better know a little more about this 'ki' stuff before the doc gets it in his head to come after me again. I don't figure it'll take long."
He wandered into the dining room, and happened to glance Kasumi out in the yard, hanging up laundry.
"That's another problem, the festival is tomorrow and I still don't know what I'm going to do about it."
Ranma sat down on the edge of the porch and slapped his fist into his palm.
"Why's everythin' gotta be so complicated?"
He looked up to see a startled-looking Kasumi staring at him.
"Whoops. Hehe. Didn't mean to say that so loud."
Kasumi finished hanging the shirt she had in her hands, then came over and sat next to Ranma.
"What's wrong, Ranma? Anything I can help with, or that you just want to talk about?"
"Well, I dunno. Some of it, I doubt you could help with, but the rest… I better not say, you'll just get mad at me."
"Ranma, I'm not Akane. I can't promise that I won't be mad, but I do promise I'll listen to you, and give you the benefit of the doubt."
"Really? You won't just blame me right away?"
"Really. Now tell me what's so complicated."
"Welllll…. first off, the Doc hit me with an attack I'd never seen before at the end of our fight the other day. It's called a 'ki' attack. It's like somethin' outta a manga. I didn't think people could actually do that. But I guess I was wrong. I tried to get Cologne to tell me about them, but she got all mad about me not respectin' her enough, and told me to get out. Then I asked pops and he told me it was a waste of time, that it took too much discipline for our school. But trust me, the way it hit me, that's no waste of time."
Ranma slumped a bit, his chin resting on his chest.
"So you think Cologne knows more about these attacks, maybe could teach you one?"
"Yeah, that old bat knows a little bit of everything. Three thousand years of Chinese Amazon history and all that."
"Well, you may have to just swallow your pride and be gracious to her. I know she's done some terrible things to you, but she's also helped you a lot. Remember how she trained you when you had the moxibustion?"
Ranma lifted his head and looked at Kasumi seriously.
"Yeah, she's all right. For an ol' ghoul," He finished with a grin.
"I guess I could try that. I won't brown nose, but I guess I can cut the insults. Mostly. As long as she actually teaches me somethin'."
"All right, that's one complication out of the way. I get the feeling there's more than that, though."
Ranma blushed, and hung his head again.
"Yeah, um. That is, about tomorrow…"
Kasumi's eyes widened a bit, and she whispered, "You don't want to take me to the festival…"
Ranma quickly waved his hands in denial.
"No! I want to! I just… I just kinda promised Shampoo I would take her. Before I ever talked to you about it."
"So why did you say you wanted to take me? Why lie?" She asked, while thinking inside, 'Why get my hopes up?'
"When I started to talk to you, your dad jumped in and assumed that I was asking you to go. I was actually going to just tell you I would be gone, so you wouldn't have to cook for me."
Ranma stared at his shoes intensely, and continued.
"I was still gonna say the same thing till I looked at you, and I saw how hopeful you looked. How nervous. And I just couldn't refuse you. I-I'm sorry. You looked so happy after, and now I'm screwing it all up."
Kasumi reached over and tilted Ranma's head up, her hand on his chin. Gently, she turned his head so he was looking at her.
She had a sad kind of smile on her face, but didn't seem angry.
"Well, Ranma, I can't say I'm happy that you are skipping out on a date, but if you promised, I guess I can forgive you. But I can say this. I am happy that you told me up front, rather than leaving me to figure it out tomorrow. If you had been honest from the start, I'd have been even happier, but I understand why you lied to me. Daddy can be very overwhelming, and you don't want to hurt me."
Ranma's voice was very quiet as he said, "Yeah."
Kasumi dabbed at the corner of one eye and said, "But I want you to realize that you did hurt me, it just took longer than saying no in the first place would have, and it hurt more than that would have. Please, from now on, don't lie to me. You talked about Akane not trusting you. I want to trust you, but I can't if you lie to me. Trust is something you earn, Ranma."
"Y-you're right, Kasumi. Never again."
"Thank you, Ranma. Now if there's nothing else you want to talk about, I have laundry to finish." Having said that, Kasumi stood and favored Ranma with a glowing smile.
"No, I think we got it covered, Kasumi!"
A grin finding its way onto his face, he bounced to his feet, and leapt out of the yard.
P-chan scurried through Nerima, homing in on the Cat Cafe in his own inimitable manner.
Through sheer luck or the blessing of a fickle god, he found himself there in record time.
He squealed frantically at Shampoo, angrily cursing her and all amazons in the foulest oinks he could muster. He even went so far as to invoke the name of the dread Lord Porcus, god of sausage factories.
Taking pity on the little bwee machine, Shampoo took him into the back, laid out clothes for him and set a kettle out, before beating a swift retreat.
Upon resuming human form, he very carefully removed one of his bandannas, and tied it over his eyes.
He stumbled out of the back room, (unknowingly) doing a very good Mousse impression, and called out to Shampoo.
"Shampoo! Don't say anything. As long as I can't see or hear you, I'm in control. You have got to turn off this pressure point! I can't stop asking out every woman I see! I don't wanna be a womanizer!"
A dry cackle echoed through the restaurant.
"You used the Casanova point on this fool, Shampoo? And didn't tell him it lasts for ten days? You are too cruel, granddaughter."
Ryoga whirled and ripped off his improvised blindfold.
"Cologne, you lovely creature! Run away with me!"
Ranma bounced from rooftop to rooftop, crossing town at a good clip.
He jumped over a chimney flue, backflipped, grabbed the top of a chain-link fence, did a brief handstand, and frontflipped onto the sidewalk directly in front of the Cat Cafe.
Just in time to hear:
"ALRIGHT! SHAMPOO GO ON DATE WITH STUPID PIG-BOY!! JUST LEAVE SHAMPOO ALONE FOR TWO SECONDS!!"
Ranma slid open the door and stuck his head in.
"Err… Is this a bad time?"
"No, it very good time. Ranma come right on in. Just stay between Shampoo and Pig-boy. Him driving Shampoo crazy!"
"Actually, I'm here to talk to Cologne. Where is she?"
"Great-grandmother is in the basement, Ranma. What you want talking with her about?"
"Nothing too important, Shampoo. Just had some questions for her. Hey, if you're dating Ryoga now, am I still taking you to the festival?"
Ryoga piped up quickly with; "Shampoo, please allow me to escort you to the festival. I'll show you a far better time than this ruffian ever could."
Ranma blinked for a second. 'He sounds more like Kuno than Ryoga. What's up with him lately?'
Shampoo ground her teeth together. She wheeled around to face Ryoga. "FINE!! Now Pig-boy SHUT UP!"
She turned back to Ranma quickly and said, "Shampoo sorry, Ranma. It look like Shampoo busy tomorrow. We go on date another time. Maybe have roast pork dinner."
Ranma shook his head and walked downstairs, glad to get away from the Amazon and her new beau.
"Hello, son-in-law. Come to try again, have you?"
"Er, yes. I have, Sensei."
Cologne turned from the book she was reading to regard him. "Much better, my student. What did you wish to ask of your master?"
'Wow, it's working,' thought Ranma.
Ranma cleared is throat and said, "I want to learn more about a kind of attack I saw the other day. A ki attack."
"Ki attack? That is interesting. I can tell you much. What are you asking?"
"What are they? I never thought they were even real till I was being hit by one."
"In their simplest form, ki attacks are balls of compressed air that are shaped and fired by focusing a martial artist's life-force, or ki, through their battle aura. More advanced forms can take on elemental aspects, the taint of demonic forces, or the purity of the higher realms. They require much of the martial artist who wishes to use them, but they are a powerful addition to their arsenal."
"Wow. And how do you perform one?"
"The easiest way, but one fraught with peril, is to choose an emotion to focus upon, and channel your life force through it. Fear, anger, depression, greed, immature love, confidence, happiness, and so on. Negative emotions are easier, as they are often more plentiful and closer to the surface in a fight.
"The danger of using emotions to power ki attacks is that it encourages that emotion in you, and makes you dependant on it. Eventually, some warriors have become totally dominated by the emotion they have chosen, and unleashed 'perfect' versions of their attacks. These 'perfect' attacks are incredibly destructive, but to all parties involved.
"The safer route, but much longer one, is through meditation and physical deprivation, the martial artist can learn to exist in a emotionless void, and then have a far greater degree of control over his life force. This approach is best used by Buddhist monks and the like.
"Most martial artists that reach the point of using ki opt for the middle ground. They learn to use ki through emotion, but gradually as they learn to control their life force, they move away from emotion as a crutch."
"That's a lot to process. Thank you, Sensei."
"Think long and hard about this Ranma. Learning to use ki will put you into a whole new level of the art. Be certain that you are ready for the challenge inherent in that."
"Uh, yeah. I'll think. You got it."
Ranma sat very still.
'Arrgh. Still boring.'
The door to the dojo slid open.
"Ranma, dinner is read— Oh, my! I didn't realize you were meditating."
Ranma opened his eyes and looked up at his fiancée. She was currently upside down, and looking rather abashed that she had interrupted him.
He put his hands on the floor and pushed off, flipping himself back rightside up.
"No problem, Kasumi. It wasn't working very well anyway. Dinner sounds great. I'm starved!"
She gave him a relieved smile and started to turn back toward the house.
"Hey, Kasumi! Before we go back in, I wanted to ask ya somethin'."
She stopped and waited for him to cross the floor and join her in the doorway.
"What is it, Ranma?"
A tinge of red appeared across his cheeks as he began, and a flicker of hope lit in her heart.
"Well, I went by the Cat Cafe to try to talk to Cologne again, and I saw Shampoo briefly, and welll…. long story short, I'mnottakin'hersoIwannatakeyou."
Kasumi blinked as the rush of words hit her, but she paused for a moment, and then replied.
"If you are asking what I think you are, then I would love to, Ranma."
Ranma sagged as nervous energy drained out of him.
"Whew. That wasn't as hard as I thought it would be."
"You did ask me out, right?"
Ranma got a hunted look on his face, and his eyes darted around the room, expecting someone, anyone, to come barreling in, smash the wall in, anything.
"Uh, yeah. I did."
Kasumi hit him with a dazzling smile and said, "Good. Now let's go eat dinner."
To be continued.
Author's notes: WHOO! Back in the groove! This chapter was really, really hard to write.
The original version (plotted and partially written 2 years ago) was to have Ukyo added to the mix, and Ranma trying to juggle taking all three to the festival at once. There were to be wacky hijinks all around, culminating in all three girls finding out what was going on and being truly pissed. U & S were to beat on Ranma and forget about it in no time, but Kasumi was to take it hard, and his regaining her trust was to be a subplot for a few chapters to come.
But I couldn't write it. I can do a fight scene, and I'm getting the hang of dialog, but the chaotic, fast-paced scenes required for the festival sequence were (and are) beyond me at my current writing skill level. So I got frustrated, and that is the biggest reason I quit writing fanfics for so long.
Fast forward two years. Real life has been a bit rough on ol' Exar, I have a lot of time on my hands, and a desire to do more with it than play World of Warcraft (Dreanor server, horde, level 60 warrior named Midas, or my alt, Doctormidas, a level 41 priest, if you wanna say hi). I surf around a bit and stumble across Neon Exodus Evangelion, one of my all-time favorite fics. I reread it and fell back in love with fan fiction. I bounced around, visited CoRK and the Lost Library, and re-subscribed to the FFML.
So here I am, back at my old stories. :)
I've revised and renamed Love's Truth, and taken this chapter, (and of course, subsequent ones) in a new and fresh direction. Instead of goofy chaos, I've chosen to have this chapter focus on one of the themes that I feel is central to this story. The development of Ranma's communication skills, and overall maturity level.
I want to tell a good story, and a fun one, but I also want to shake things up a bit and have Ranma grow a bit.
Will he end up with Kasumi? Not telling. Honestly haven't gotten there yet. Ranma won't be the only one growing up. Akane is maturing as well, and may yet win him back.
In any case, I'm glad to be back, and I hope you all enjoy reading this as much as I've enjoyed writing it. And I promise a good fight in chapter 5 to make up for all this dialog.
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