A Ranma ½ / Oh! My Goddess crossover story
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon belongs to Takeuchi Naoko, Koudansha, TV Asahi, and Toei Douga, and DIC. Oh, My Goddess belongs to Fujishima Kousuke, Kodansha, TBS and KSS films; AnimEigo, Studio Proteus, and Dark Horse Comics. I write this with the utmost respect, etc, and I bow low before the Genius of Rumiko Takahashi. I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy, I'm not worthy! Now… on with the story…
Introduction: Okay, let me be honest about a couple of things here. First of all, I am a definite Shampoo partisan. I've always thought it should be she who ends up with Ranma, the big lug, and if I were to ever write a fanfic, that's exactly what would happen. But how to go about it without violating the laws of probability and nature? Then I decided the laws of probability and nature can go hang (who in Nerima pays a blind bit of attention to them, anyway?), and tossed in a Goddess. The idea here is a sort of crossover between Ranma 1/2 and Oh! My Goddess… but Belldandy's busy… Urd's brewing something up… and Skuld's a bit too young. So what goddess could I use? Then it occurred to me; the Goddess most likely to notice a Wish made by a lovelorn Amazon warrior would be… Freya. Now, that's the first thing to be honest about. The second is… Well, in my own opinion, these first few chapters are not as good as my later chapters. But as with many other things, writing improves with practice. Oh, and I should warn you… Freya being the type of Goddess that she is, sex tends to pop up from time to time. You'll be warned when that happens. Oh, and my thanks to Larry F for his kind hosting of this series, my other stories, and for saying nice things about my grammar.
Chapter One: Nihao, Freya!
Shampoo was in tears again. Ranma had come in on his daily visit to the Nekohanten, and the purple haired Amazon had, as usual, implored him for a date, and, again as usual, Ranma had managed to avoid a date, a kiss, or any mark of affection that might lighten the girl's heart. Whenever she saw Ranma, her joy was intense, but of late, equally intense was her depression when he left without ever saying the words she most hungered to hear: I love you. Oh, how she wished, wished so very hard, but another day was passing without the love of her chosen one.
However, despite the girl's sorrow, there was still the restaurant to take care of. Cologne was at a meeting of the Nerima Food Service Vendors Association, and she left Shampoo in charge of ordering some fresh noodles, of which they were getting low. The girl started to call their supplier, but with her mind clearly elsewhere, she dialed the wrong number.
"Hello! You have reached the Goddess Technical Help Line! We will be there in just a moment to grant your access request," spoke a bright and perky female voice over the phone.
"Stupid Japanese telephone numbers," Shampoo sighed in annoyance and started to hang up… then stopped, dropping the phone instead. After all, long graceful tapering fingers, attached to snow white arms do not normally emerge from telephone headsets… And to the Amazon's stupefied amazement, an entire young woman came from the telephone, until she was hovering just above. She was slender, with a slightly angular face, hair a golden flax, but highlighted with burnished streaks of coppery red. An almost indecently snug black evening gown clung to her form, cut daringly low and exposing plenty of cleavage, contrasting sharply with the woman's alabaster skin.
As the Amazon gazed amazed at the mysterious figure floating impossibly before her, two emotions stirred within her. One was desire. There was nothing unusual in that, she'd been raised in a village that had freer sexual customs than the strange land in which she currently occupied, and there were other girls here that had indeed caught her eye. But the other emotion was new to her… physical envy. She never had any reason for jealousy before, especially when she contrasted her luscious figure to the somewhat underdeveloped charms of Japanese girls. But the apparition before her possessed a physical presence that was almost frightening in its intensity, and Shampoo found herself growing quite warm. And then, the mysterious woman spoke.
"Okay, darlin', whatcha want? Make it quick, I want to get back to that Wagner concert."
She spoke perfect yet slangy Mandarin, but hearing her voice, the seeming enchantment Shampoo was under broke and her combative instincts took hold. She drew her bonbori and took up a fighting stance and demanded, "What are you doing here…? What do you want?"
The woman looked a little surprised at the girl's reaction, as if this wasn't in the script, but hardly seemed to be troubled to be faced by an angry Amazon determined to defend her home. In fact, she was smiling, ever so slightly, as she answered the girl.
"Hey, kiddo, lighten up, okay? I'm not about to ransack the place… nothing here I'd need, anyway. I'm just answering your call to the help line. Besides, you're about a thousand years too young to fight me, so you might as well put those big clubs down."
Heedless of the warning, Shampoo prepared to charge the stranger when a gravelly voice called out. "Shampoo, stop! Stand down!" it commanded.
"But honored one, she's an intruder! Intruders are for—"
"Are for killing, yes, I know," the old woman affirmed. "But this intruder is different. After all, how many intruders float in the air?"
The intruder in question looked down in amusement at the shriveled old crone and the purple-haired girl. "And just how am I different, honored one? Besides being feet off the ground, that is."
"You have an aura of great power, and I detect a sense of great age as well. It would be immensely dangerous to threaten you," Cologne ventured.
"Indeed so," the mysterious figure affirmed, "for it profits no one to go up against the gods."
Shampoo frowned in puzzlement. "Gods?"
"That's right, darlin'. I am the goddess Freya, here to grant your wish. Allow me to present my card…" And the self-proclaimed goddess drew from her bosom a stiff rectangular paper.
Cologne took it and read the ornate calligraphy. "Freya, Elder Goddess, First Class, unlimited. No wish too complicated."
Shampoo was still lost. "I do not understand! I was calling for noodles, and the stupid phone tells me I reached the Goddess line…" She stamped her foot petulantly. "Yes, we find the purest wishes as a result of such mistakes. After all, if we advertised in the yellow pages, we'd be swamped with all sorts of strange requests."
Cologne was herself a little confused, with all this talk of requests and wishes. "I don't understand. Not to be rude, but can you come down to our level…? I don't understand about wishes. Are you telling me my great-granddaughter can make a wish, and that you can make it happen?"
Freya settled onto the floor. "Got it in one," the goddess affirmed. "Let me explain… We are able to grant any wish you desire: wealth, fame… it can be yours. Want to destroy the world, or do away with a hated enemy? We can do that… but we prefer not to, though. You can't imagine how much paperwork is involved in global destruction."
"What about… love?" Shampoo asked.
"Love? You can't believe how many times that one gets requested. We get a lot of practice. Not a problem, usually."
"Then I know what I want to wish for. I want Ranma to love me and for everyone to be happy." Shampoo spoke before Cologne could stop her. Could this… Freya deliver? Shampoo didn't think so, but if she was going to wish, might as well do it big time, making herself and everyone else content. After all, she had so few she could call friends; she wanted to keep those she had.
As Shampoo made her wish, Freya's eyes took on an empty, almost soulless appearance. She floated several feet off the ground again, and her form went rigid, rotating around its axis. The concentrated beam of light emerging through her forehead, crashing its way through the ceiling like a battering ram and stabbing into the sky, was quite unusual, to say the least, and Shampoo began to consider that this person just might be some sort of goddess after all.
As the goddess was slowly spinning, the phone rang. Seeing that Shampoo was transfixed by their new arrival, the Amazon matriarch answered it, expecting to make some excuse about the cafe being temporarily closed for roof repairs. To her surprise, however, a deep, majestic voice with a hint of a Germanic accent asked to speak to Freya. Cologne turned and was startled to see the goddess standing directly behind her. How had she moved without the Amazon's highly tuned senses detecting it?
"I expect that's for me," Freya guessed. Cologne nodded and handed the phone over.
"Yes, All-Father? Yes, I believe her to be sincere… Oh, good, she should be happy with that, and I think I know a way to effect it. Hmm? What? WHAT? What do you MEAN, monitor it? Why the… the… infernal regions should I have to do THAT? Jeez, you mean I'm stuck on this dirtball? Yes, I KNOW the Norn sisters are happy about their stay, but… Yes, of course… your word is law…"
The goddess hung up the phone and glared over at Shampoo. "Well, doesn't THAT suck big time! Your wish has been approved, so you'd better be happy about it, kid. But I'm stuck here. To monitor the continuing developments, Father says. Why me…?"
Shampoo was quite lost about most of the conversation, and she couldn't follow Freya's end of the telephone conversation at all. Who was All-Father, anyway? But she was able to stick to the basics, and she was overjoyed to hear…
"You mean my wish is going to come true? Ranma will be mine?" The purple-haired Amazon flung herself into the blonde goddess's arms.
The goddess smiled briefly at the girl's obvious enthusiasm and happiness before managing to disentangle herself from the Amazon glomp. "Yeah, yeah, all very exciting and wonderful, I'm sure. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go out and actually effect your wish. Ho-hum, boring…"
"You mean the granting isn't automatic?" Cologne asked.
"Well, normally it is, but in this case, All-Father thinks I should attend to it in person. From the way He was going on, you'd think He's got some sort of interest in this… Ranma, was it? So, I figure I'll go scope the boy out," Freya explained. And with that, the goddess stepped out of the cafe and wafted into the air… but she went out the back. After all, mortals generally see only what they expect to see, but there was no sense in attracting attention to herself by using the front.
There it was… the Tendo house, the place where Shampoo's love lived, as well as her rival, Akane Tendo. Freya scanned the house and its psychic emanations from above, floating above the house and any passers-by, who continued oblivious to the presence of the divine just over their heads. Rendering herself transparent to both people and material, she dove down, passing through walls, halls, rooms, family members… All the residents' thoughts and emotions open to her. She saw two middle-aged men playing at a game involving pieces of contrasting colors, the rules of which seemed to include the distraction of one's opponent and making unobserved moves. A look into their minds revealed their concerns over their arranged match between the boy, Ranma, and the girl, Akane, and what plot they could hatch to unite the pair, their joy when the erstwhile couple got along, and their worry when, more often, they did not.
She felt another presence in the household kitchen, and there encountered Kasumi, her mind filled with the delights of providing for her family, the joys of domesticity, a concern for her youngest sister and Ranma, and a hope that the boy's curious situation with the rest of his fiancées could be resolved. The eldest Tendo daughter reminded the goddess of someone, and there was… something… different about this Kasumi Tendo, something… not quite standard. In fact, the girl stopped in her cooking and looked around, as if she were almost aware of the presence of the goddess. This one will bear some watching, Freya thought to herself.
Aloft were the other two sisters, Nabiki and Akane, both studiously at their homework, the surface of their minds busy with the intricacies of English grammar or the relationships of numbers, yet deep beneath, almost hidden by an overlay of cynicism or anger, an abiding and stabbing sorrow. Within Nabiki were also thoughts of the boy, Ranma, sometimes contemplating potential profit avenues, sometimes berating herself that she didn't claim him after all, while the thoughts of Akane were mainly an anger at an arranged match, one she had no say in. If only her father had given her a choice in the matter; after all, she did like Ranma, when he wasn't being rude and inconsiderate and insulting… And the girl patted a small black piglet dozing on her lap. A strange pet, Freya thought, but of no concern to her.
And there, with a touch of her mind, was Ranma. She floated down to the family dojo, and watched him studiously avoiding his scholastic responsibilities as he went through his forms and kata. The boy's mind worked separately from his body, not needing to bother itself with the trivialities of a physical motion that he'd been trained in and knew so well. Instead, his mind was busy with thoughts of his fiancées, and just what was he to do about them? Ukyo and Shampoo were both just so cute, and Shampoo, when she smiled, could light up a dark room. Akane could be cute, too, when she wasn't being angry or whacking him with that dirty big mallet. Where did she keep that thing, anyway?
Freya probed deeper… after all, her task was to get this boy and Shampoo together, she needed to know if there was any dark and dangerous secrets, any evil passions lurking within the boy that would produce an unhappy match. She was, after all, a goddess of love.
Deep within, she saw fear; a dread of his female side. "These mortals," Freya reflected, "They forget that each of them are a blend of male and female. They just have to be one or the other, foolish things. Can't they just relax and enjoy their opposite side once and a while? Well, let's see what this boy's beef with his feminine side is…" The goddess probed a little deeper, then drew back in shock and surprise. "So… a Jusenkyo curse? Read about them, of course, but never actually saw one before. And he's afraid that he might get locked into his femme-form and lose his current personality? Right, like that'll happen, with a will as strong as his! Still, this does have… possibilities…."
Freya, having found what she was after, arose out of the Tendo residence undetected. "You know," she spoke to no one in particular, "this could be fun after all!" A tapered finger gestured in the air before her, and arcane runes in fiery crimson appeared. Freya puffed on them and they drifted down, impacting on the rooftop of the Tendo house with a poof audible only to the ears of the Heaven-born. With the household's residents dealt with, the goddess flew off in search of Shampoo's other serious rival for the hand of Ranma Saotome… not to mention his other body parts.
There it was… Ukyo's Okonomiyaki, otherwise known as Ucchan's. Again, Freya took the Tour Invisible through the place and through Ukyo, looking into the patterns and currents of the chef's mind. Again, there was that strange confusion of gender, having its source in an unfortunate deal made between two fathers, and one father's desire for a boy instead of a daughter. That daughter was busy at work with her specialty, motions very precise and economical. She was, after all, a very busy girl, operating her restaurant and being a high school student both. Sometimes it got to be a bit much for her… all she needed to help her through those dark times was a word, just a single word of affection, of love, from her Ranma. She knew he liked her, but… wasn't she anything to him but his "best buddy"? After all, that role should be Ryoga's, wherever the lost boy got off to.
Again the goddess allowed herself to be wafted upward, out of Ukyo's mind and her restaurant, and again she cast the same runes which impacted against the building, their magic sinking into the target.
The goddess returned to the Nekohanten, sliding her form in between the wall's molecular structure. "I'm back!" she announced, causing the occupants to jump slightly.
"Don't you believe in using doors?" Cologne berated.
"Doors? Silly things. Why bother? You got the power, you use the power, as far as I'm concerned. Shampoo, why are you giggling? Anyway, the Wish is now in effect. Which brings me to a certain problem…"
"What's that?" Shampoo asked.
"Hey, remember, I gotta 'monitor the continuing situation', as the Big Guy Upstairs says, which means I need to find me a place to stay. Preferably close, so I can keep an eye on things," the goddess explained.
The two amazons started whispering among themselves. Although Freya could very easily have listened into any secrets they were discussing, she respected their privacy. Then the old crone spoke up. "If you're willing to work, we could let you stay here with us. Room is limited, even with Mousse visiting China, but perhaps you could sleep with Shampoo… I mean, sleep in Shampoo's room."
Freya looked deeply affronted for a minute. "Work?!" She bristled at the word. Then she relaxed. "Oh, why not… it'll keep me busy, I suppose. I mean, just how exciting is this assignment likely to be, anyway?" (Freya, it should be noted, is not the goddess of the future, so she has no idea… then again, neither does the author at this moment.)
"Never cooked Chinese before, but how hard can it be?"
"Are you sure it'll be that easy?" Cologne said.
"Dear lady, do you have any idea just how hard it is to cook for a hall-full of notoriously gluttonous Aesir deities? Cooking for a restaurant would be easier than less than a snap in comparison! And the clean up! Don't ask me about the clean up! Please don't!"
"Well, aren't you going to ask me about the clean up?"
"No," said both Shampoo and Cologne.
"Oh," replied a disappointed goddess.
The rest of the day was spent educating Freya in the art of Chinese cuisine and restaurant management. Oh, and they got the repairmen in to fix up that hole in the ceiling, too. All in all, it had been a very busy and surprising day, and it was only to be expected that the household would retire earlier than usual, with Shampoo and Freya sharing a room, where, Cologne expected, they would both stay up later than they should and talk about girl things. Occasional peals of laughter could be heard, then silence… except for the low moans from Shampoo. Cologne was accustomed to such sounds coming from her great-granddaughter's room, where she was, no doubt, fantasizing about her airen. She could only hope that Shampoo's nighttime activities didn't wake Freya; it wouldn't do to have an annoyed goddess under her roof, after all. And that Freya was a creature of great power she had no doubt; but whether she was a goddess? The old woman might have been a font of knowledge concerning Amazon traditions reaching back 3,000 years, but she didn't know that much about Nordic legends. Having a living representative of those legends now within her walls prompted in Cologne a resolve to correct that deficit as soon as she could.
The next day, Freya excused herself directly after breakfast, claiming an important mission demanded her immediate attention. "Goddess stuff," she explained. Shampoo and Cologne involved themselves in their typical morning routine of hard training, a light meal afterwards, then proceeded to getting the Nekohanten prepared for business.
The usual after-school crowd began to filter in. Shampoo looked for Ranma, but he hadn't arrived yet. She was hoping, once again, that this would be the time Ranma would say, "I love you". After all, she had the word and aid of a goddess now. And then the boy in question came in, smiling at the purple-haired girl.
She, as was her custom, flung herself into his strong arms. "Ranma, Shampoo so happy see you! Wo ai ni!" she gushed happily. Then she blinked in surprise. Ranma… was hugging back! Not resisting, not trying to escape, but returning her embrace. Ecstatic, Shampoo squeezed harder. Perhaps a little too hard…
"Hey, Shampoo, give me a break, okay? I need to breathe, you know," Ranma laughed. Shampoo looked at the face of her beloved, her eyes becoming moist at her beloved's merriment, but she loosened her tight grip.
"Then… then Shampoo wish come true? Ranma love Shampoo?" she asked hopefully.
Foolish Japanese customs prevented Ranma from kissing the girl before him, but he caressed her cheek with his fingertips. Shampoo shivered in delight. "Shampoo, you know I couldn't live without you. None of us could." Shampoo was launched into a state of bliss so intense that she didn't hear that last part of Ranma sentence.
"Then you leave Violent Girl and come be with Shampoo?"
"You know I can't do that. What about our agreement? Not to mention our deal with the Tend— oh, hi, Akane! 'Bout time you caught up."
What agreement? Shampoo thought to herself.
"Sorry about that, Ranma. I had a run-in with Kuno. He never gives up," explained Akane.
Shampoo, at the sight of her rival for Ranma's love, took up a fighting stance. "Akane, we fight for Ranma, yes?"
At hearing the voices of the three teenagers, Cologne came out of the kitchen, intending to at least limit the impending damage to the restaurant. To her surprise, and to Shampoo's, her efforts weren't needed.
The short-haired girl said, "Relax, Shampoo, we took an oath not to fight anymore, remember? We promised to share Ranma…" As Akane said this, she went up to Ranma and Shampoo and took each of their hands. Ranma only nodded his agreement to Akane's claim, but Shampoo stared up at them with eyes owl-wide. Up? Well, yes, because when Akane took her hand instead of aiming a kick at her, the Amazon's legs gave out from under her.
As Shampoo was trying to figure out just who had replaced Ranma and Akane with duplicates, an evidently irritated Freya came in, carrying a very large sack. "Jeez," she complained loudly. "You wouldn't think it'd be that hard to find a decent bottle of mead in Japan! I mean, there's all that awful rice wine stuff everywhere… Don't the people here know what's good? I had to teleport myself all the way to Norway to get enough honey juice! A battle maiden needs her nourishment, after all. Oh… looks like at least part of the gang's here." She went into the kitchen to deposit her hard-won bottles of mead.
And with that entered Ukyo. If Shampoo was surprised before, she was stunned now. While Ukyo and Akane could get along quite well, throw Ranma into the same room as the two girls and fights generally happened. Shampoo knew this from personal experience. Add her own self into that same room, and a fight was certain. And while the Amazon expected the chef's too fond greetings of Ranma, what she didn't expect was for the spatula girl to greet herself in a similar manner; with a close hug and a kiss. Perhaps even closer a hug than should have been proper.
Shampoo cried out in despair as she came to the only conclusion she could think of, perhaps influenced by a movie she had seen a couple nights ago. "Aiyah! Everyone been replaced with pod people!" She struggled with her weak legs and jostled Ranma, Akane and Ukyo. "What you do with real people?" she demanded.
"Shampoo, dear, these are the real people," Freya explained as she re-emerged from the kitchen. No one had noticed Freya when she entered the eatery, which suited her just fine. That included Ranma, since all his attention was focused on two of the three most important girls in his life. But when she came back out, flush with a quick shot of her precious and hard-won mead, just about every male in the Nekohanten was aware of her, since her very presence screamed out the promise of steaming passion. Not a few female eyes noticed her too, with an admixture of envy, frank jealousy, and desire.
"Yeah… why would you think we're some sorta pod things?" Ranma asked. Then he finally noticed Freya. And freaked. "Yahhhhh! C-c-c-cat!"
Akane and Ukyo didn't notice Freya until that moment, concerned with what they thought of as Shampoo's odd behavior. Which was curious, because that's exactly what Shampoo thought of the way they were acting. The few people who were in the Nekohanten at this time thought everyone was acting weird, but this being Nerima, the weirdness factor didn't stop them eating their meals.
Ranma, of course, did what most people do when they panic. He ran about, he screamed and shouted, until he hit a wall. With his head. Poor guy, out like a light. After all, his head wasn't that hard. The three girls rushed over to the fallen martial artist, but before they could administer what little first aid they knew, Freya, who had followed them, had knelt down and gathered the boy's head into her lap. She smiled self-indulgently. "Hey, kid, I know I'm a knockout, but you really don't have to go to such lengths to prove it."
That did not make Ukyo or Akane happy. Not at all! "Get your hands off Ran-chan, you blonde floozy!" demanded the okonomiyaki chef, while Akane prepared for more direct action.
"Shh!" Freya commanded sharply. "Don't interrupt me while I'm working!" And so surprised were the two girls at the demand that they actually obeyed. She ran her fingers lightly over the bump on Ranma's head, her eyes closed, while the two girls sat and fumed.
"Shampoo, do something!" Akane demanded. Shampoo, while not at all happy about where Ranma was at the moment, had seen enough of what Freya could do not to challenge her. She tried to calm her rivals, who to her continued confusion weren't — for now, at least — her rivals at all. "Is okay… Shampoo think she trying to help Ranma." To the surprise of all, Freya chose that moment to burst out in a laugh. "Oh yes… this is going to be interesting!" She looked up at Akane, Ukyo, and Shampoo, and had great trouble restraining another outbreak of mirth. Then she reassured the girls, "The boy's going to be all right. He just knocked himself silly because he thought I was a cat, for some reason. He's a martial artist; maybe someone hit him too hard. But he'll be up soon enough…"
"Okay," Akane said, then… "Now perhaps you can tell me just why he should think you're a cat? Shampoo, yeah I can understand, but you… and just who are you, anyway?"
"At the moment, she's someone I need to talk to… and Shampoo, too," said Cologne, who had come up from behind. Akane and Ukyo jumped from the surprise, and even Shampoo quivered a little, but there was no reaction from Freya at all.
"But of course. Shall we talk in the kitchen?"
The matriarch nodded, and left for the indicted room, followed by Shampoo, then by Freya, who turned Ranma over to the care of the Violent Girl and the Spatula Girl, who commenced to coo concernedly over their shared iinazuke, and mutter whispered curses at a certain blonde potential rival, as they thought of her.
"Explanation!" Cologne demanded. "When Ranma, Akane, Ukyo, and Shampoo are in the same room, disasters and much wreckage usually follow. Why not this time? I heard something about an agreement. What sort of agreement? And…" The old woman peeked out to see what Akane and Ukyo were doing, concerned for the safety and physical integrity of her restaurant. "…why aren't those two fighting? And Akane has a very good point. Why did Ranma think you were a cat?"
The goddess began to explain. "Answering the most important question… When Shampoo made her wish, she did not specify what course she wanted it to take. Her expressed desire was for Ranma to love her and for everyone to be happy. Once the wish was made, and I activated it, its own internal mechanics took over and shaped the nature of its fulfillment. Which means, on the practical level, that yes, Ranma and Shampoo are now an item. However… so are Akane and Ranma… and Ukyo and Ranma… and, oh yes… Shampoo and Akane, Shampoo and Ukyo… and Akane and Ukyo… and… Well, you get the idea. It's all rather amusing, really," the goddess smirked.
"How do you mean?" Shampoo asked.
"What you wanted, of course, was for you and Ranma to get hitched, and for Akane and Ukyo to just be satisfied and contented with that result. But the functioning of your wish apparently thought that outcome would not result in complete satisfaction for your rivals, that they would still be inclined to make trouble for you. So, consider… you'll not only have a husband, but also two wives. Should make for a very interesting honeymoon. Just hope the boy's got the stamina for it." The goddess did that smirk again.
"But… but that's not the way I wanted it!" Shampoo wailed.
"Well, it's the situation you've got, darlin'. You'll just have to make the best of it. Once a wish is filed, it has a life and power of its own… and woe to anyone who gets in the way of it."
"But surely there's some reason for this multiple relationship thing. There's a too radical of a change otherwise for any of the concerned parties to accept it," Cologne pointed out.
"That's part of the 'agreement' they mentioned. I saw it when I was examining Ranma's little injury. Basically, Shampoo did something so noble, self-sacrificing, and significantly dangerous that our gang out there was so impressed with that they'd all try to find some way of uniting themselves; sort of a group marriage. The little incident made them realize and comprehend their own fragility and mortality. It also made them understand just how much you all depend on and support each other; how terrible it would be to lose any of you. Obviously, you made an almost complete recovery," the goddess explained.
"Almost complete?" the purple haired Amazon queried.
"You… or rather, the you that they know now, have occasional memory lapses… for example, you have absolutely no recollection of the incident in question… Which should be no problem, because, naturally, you don't have any memory of that," The goddess explained.
Shampoo thought about that, then made a decision. "I want to see," Shampoo insisted. "I want to see what happened to me, to understand it, even if it's from Ranma's own memories, even if there's things missing. I need to know…"
The goddess looked surprised. "Are you sure about that? It might not be a very nice or pleasant thing to experience, even secondhand, through their memories…"
Shampoo nodded nervously. "I need to know this…"
Freya sighed. "Okay… we don't have too much time since we got Ranma and company out there waiting for us, but I'll try to be as gentle as I can. You know tai chi, right? Don't know too much about it myself — we never had it up north, after all — but concentrate on your breathing, just as you would with tai chi. Breathe in and out… deeply… all the way down…" And Freya's words took on a droning quality, which, combined with her breathing, quickly brought the young Amazon to a relaxed state. Then her body stiffened as she saw a past that never was. Seeing through Ranma's eyes, she saw herself falling from a tall building. She knew that Akane was there with her, in Ranma's memory, and that after a horrified pause, they both raced toward the building. Shampoo saw her own body on the pavement, with a crying Ukyo holding her hand. Before either Ranma or Akane had the chance to ask what happened, memory-Shampoo gasped out, "Stupid Spatula Girl… why you try do such a thing? At least Ranma treat you like friend, not something to push away…" then passed out.
Ukyo sobbingly explained that she had become so depressed over Ranma treating her only like a "best buddy" that she decided to end it all by throwing herself off some high place in Nerima. Shampoo was passing by and had realized Ukyo's intent, rescuing her from herself, only to lose her footing and fall herself.
Memory-Akane separately telephoned for an ambulance, while memory-Ranma was torn between trying to comfort an almost hysterically sobbing Ukyo, who was clearly blaming herself for the accident, and helping an unconscious Shampoo, who lay broken and bleeding.
Shampoo watched through the memories of her airen her recovery, made even more rapid by the help and support of not only Ranma, but also of Akane and Ukyo. For the three of them had come to a terrible realization… they could die, and quite easily, and the loss of any of them would be too tragic to be borne. They realized just how much each meant to the other. Shampoo saw Ranma and Akane in hours of earnest discussion, the boy amazed at just how intensely Ukyo felt about him… and with consultation with Ukyo, they all decided to establish a four-way relationship, each bound to the other by love.
Shampoo returned to the real world, physically shaking, eyes wide. She looked at Freya briefly, then covered her face and started sobbing. The goddess reached out and drew the crying girl into her arms, cooing soft and gentle words of comfort into the Amazon's ears. Cologne thought this was all very cozy, but there was something bothering her. "Akane asked it, and I'm curious myself… Why did Ranma think you were a cat?"
Freya looked a little embarrassed. "Ah… um… heh heh… there's a good reason for that…"
"Yesss…?" Cologne prompted.
"Well, in the old days we were… kinda hard-up for transport. I mean, how else do you account for a horse that has a 50% bonus in the leg department? For myself, I hitched a couple of cats to my chariot… nice big grey ones. After a bit — just a couple hundred years or so — I came to be associated with cats, and took on a few feline qualities. I guess young Saotome, who's just now coming out of the Land of Nod, sensed that. I'll have to tone down my kitty bits when I'm around him."
"Freya?" Shampoo sniffed as she came back to herself.
"Just what sort of goddess are you?"
"Why, darlin', I am THE original and true goddess of Love—" unlike that upstaging Urd! "—and Battle!"
"Love and battle?" the old mummy (Ow! I mean, the esteemed elder…) puzzled.
"Sure! Don't the two go so often hand in hand? Even more so here in Nerima? I think I'm going to like it here!"
Shampoo and Cologne both sweatdropped at Freya's glee, and shivers went up and down their spines. Why this feeling of dread? Was it because they both suddenly had a feeling that life in Nerima was about to get at least ten times weirder? Could be… An insistent shout of "Hey, what's going on in there?" from Ukyo, and the demands of restaurant patrons brought the trio back to reality.
Akane, Ukyo, and a now revived Ranma looked at Shampoo in concern as she and Freya rejoined them. The Amazon still hadn't got over her glimpse at her own near death, even though she knew it was only a divinely created construct, an artificial memory, a thing to implement her wish. It still shook her utterly, and she was quite pale and shaky on her legs.
"Shampoo, are you okay?" Akane asked.
The Amazon nodded. "Just had… bad memory…"
Cologne pogoed around checking on her customers while Freya bent down to check on Ranma. "How you feelin', kid? That was a pretty nasty clonk you fetched yerself."
Ranma groaned as he felt his head. "Yeah… another bump and bruise to add to my collection."
"Here, let me see," the goddess started to reach for the boy, but was interrupted by a descending spatula and mallet. She blocked the attack with a finger delicately poised on the very center of each weapon. Though it didn't appear she was exerting any force at all, the spatula and mallet were stopped dead.
"Just who are you?" Akane angrily demanded.
"Yeah, and where do you get off pawing our Ranma?" Ukyo added. Freya didn't seem particularly concerned to be faced by two angry and jealous martial artists. "Why, I'm Freya, a g—"
"A guest! Yes, a guest…" Cologne broke in, preventing the goddess from making any claims to divinity in a crowded restaurant. The Elder of Joketsuzoku, veteran of 300 years, had to come up with a likely story on the spot. "She's a guest from a northern Amazon branch from Norway, and as a guest and kinswoman, she merits my protection… although it looks like she doesn't much need it."
"Er… Y-yeah, what she said. Guest from Norway, that's me," Freya stumbled. Then she proceeded on firmer ground. "And you've no need of jealousy on my account. Ranma here may look rather… yummy, but I'm not about to betray Elder Cologne's and Shampoo's hospitality by taking him from her… or from you," she added. Went unspoken was the thought that if she could figure out a way to get her paws on him in a more intimate manner somehow, she'd give Ranma a ride that would shake his bones. But that could wait.
Akane, Ukyo and Shampoo started to help the boy up, but he shook them off and got into a chair by himself. "Strange thing is" he wondered, "Why did I think you were a c-c-c-cat?"
"Umm… heh heh… you got me there," Freya stammered.
Akane and Ukyo relaxed a little. But neither was very happy with Freya. Akane muttered, "Terrific. We finally get our fiancée business sorted out, come to an arrangement we all agree with… Do you have any idea what we had to go through for that? And now in moves competition with a capital 'C'."
The goddess sighed. "Relax, will ya? I already told you I'm not in the game. In fact, it's that… arrangement… that's of interest to me. Well, to… to my own village Elder, actually." Freya thought fast. "Word came to us, even in the far North, that some of Japan's greatest martial artists are actually getting along! Someone had to come and see what was going on, and… Well, the council settled on me for that task." Whew, thought Freya, it's a good thing I don't have to worry about that injunction about lying. After all, what I just told her is true… well, more or less.
Ranma wasn't paying too much attention to the discussion between Akane and Freya. Instead, a strange marking on the Nekohanten's newest guest's forehead and cheeks intrigued him. With his typical and accustomed tact, he asked, "Say, Freya, what the deal with those marks?" Akane punched his arm for his indelicacy.
Freya's mind again raced for a plausible explanation. "These? Oh… um… these… these are the emblem of my branch of Amazons. It sets us off from the others… Yes! You're on a roll now, Freya baby! she congratulated herself. "…especially since we spend a lot of time with the non-Amazon population."
She paused briefly in her explanation, and her expression turned serious, as if she was debating with herself over some important matter. Then her face took on a sly and devious look as she pulled a marker pen from seemingly out of nowhere, leaned forward, so close to Ranma that she could have kissed him, and struck!
Ranma drew back in surprise, feeling his forehead, which now had what appeared to be a series of slash marks on it. "Whatcha do that for?" he complained.
"What, you don't like them? Well, don't worry, they'll wash out… in time." The goddess smirked.
Shampoo ventured a guess as to what the marks might mean. "That mean you adopt him into your tribe?" going with the fiction Freya and her great-grandmother had created.
Freya shook her head, and became serious again. "Listen to me, all of you. This is important. If you see anyone… anyone at all… with markings like these—" She indicated Ranma's decorated forehead. "—tell me at once, do you understand? Immediately! Run back from school, leave your classes, stopping working… whatever… but if you see something like this, its vital you let me know about it on the instant!"
Ukyo ventured her own guess. "Those markings, then… they represent your tribal enemies?"
"Something like that." Freya nodded. "And they definitely represent Bad News." Ranma and the girls could practically hear the capitalization.
"Heh. No problem. They come around, you just give the word, and we'll pound 'em for you. Right, girls?" Ranma confidently proclaimed.
"Right!" A chorus of three feminine voices joined him, with fists upraised.
Freya shook her head. "Very inspiring, I'm sure," she said with thick sarcasm. "Now listen to me. When I say report to me, I mean just that, okay? Don't try to tangle with them; you just might get a very nasty surprise."
"Yeah, sure, whatever… Hey, Akane, Ukyo, there's that new ice cream shop opened up. Wanna go check it out?"
Akane and Ukyo nodded eagerly. "Hey, Shampoo, wanna join us?" Akane invited. Shampoo looked torn between her desire to go with them and just be with Ranma, and her duty to her great-grandmother.
"Go on already, child. I think we two can handle things here," Cologne insisted. With a squeal of joy, the Amazon jumped up and went with her airen… all three of them, now. On the way out, Ukyo could be heard pointing out, "Better wear a hat, Ran-chan, unless you want everyone to see those marks you got."
"Oh man," the boy groaned as the group left.
Freya shook her head. "Spare me from the misplaced confidence of mortal youth."
Cologne got up and turned most of her attention to the demands of her restaurant, the earthbound goddess joining her. The old woman spoke over her shoulder, "When it comes to any challenge, Ranma may surprise you. He's done that to me from time to time."
"Any challenge on a physical plane, you mean. What I was warning them about doesn't necessarily operate physically. Well, I can only hope that most of the attention of the demon class is focused elsewhere. I've heard the Norn sisters have pretty much monopolized the attention of the nether beings."
Cologne stopped. "Demons?"
"Yep. You get us, the Heaven-Born, and you have the demons, too. They always try to interfere with our work," the goddess explained. "Just wish I knew what All-Father thinks is so all-fired important with that bunch that I keep my eye on them," Freya groused. "Well, hopefully I gave them enough of a warning. Guess we'll just have to wait and see. It's just as well there's no dwarves here. I really don't like dwarves…"
To be continued.
Next time-Freya meets the neighborhood pervert and most evil master in Japan!
Chapter Two-The Interrupted Date or, Happosai's Gold.
Author's notes: C# (Sorry… I had to do that!) Anyway, you'll notice that Shampoo speaks quite normally with Freya. This is because Freya, being a Goddess, after all, is able to quite readily speak whatever Chinese dialect our favorite purple-haired Amazon speaks. Wouldn't be much of a goddess if she couldn't. When Shampoo reverts to Japanese, she returns to the classic "cute girl" way of speaking that we all love. Freya, of course, speaks perfect Japanese. I suppose this is my first "rilly ambitious" fanfic, although I've written other, non-fanfic stuff. I'd like to thank Jim Bader for his encouragement and support. And if you haven't read his "Tale of Two Wallets", well, what's your excuse? Go, go now! Read it! You'll be the happier for it!
This fanfic brought to you by the Soun Tendo Sprinkler System… install in your garden or in your building… absolutely guaranteed to never ever run out of water.
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