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A Ranma ½ / Oh! My Goddess crossover story
by Trella

Disclaimer: Okay, li'l keiki, you know the drill… Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video, which certainly isn't me. I'm just using them shamelessly. Other characters and situations that may appear in the series are inspired or borrowed from Jim Bader, Nicole Manders, DB Summers, and many others that I haven't yet mentioned…

Chapter 5: Nabiki Holmes and Dr. Kasumi, I presume?
Nabiki and Kasumi Play Detective, and Ukyo Plans a Trip…

Nerima. Ranma Saotome. The Official Fiancée Brigade. The Tendo Household. Peace and quiet. Now there's an equation that just doesn't add up. And yet, in the Tendo residence, that's just what was occurring, despite the presence of such formerly volatile elements as Ukyo Kuonji, Shampoo, and Akane Tendo. Of course, when I say "peace and quiet", I mean that in the relative sense. This is Ranma Saotome we are talking about, after all.

And yet, it was a peaceful morning in Nerima… a slight wisp of fog lent a certain air of mystery to the town, yet the day held the promise of being bright and sunny. The local birds were chirping merrily away, thankful that the local cats were all well-fed and content, and the housewives were out doing their morning shopping in the little grocerie stores, to make sure their breakfasts were of the freshest foods.

There was at least one person who had already done the morning shopping, and had, with the help of three others, already prepared her family's breakfast. Her name was Kasumi Tendo, and this morning's meal at the Tendo residence went something like this:

"Ranma, you can at least try it!" Akane growled as she offered her erstwhile fiancé something that at least resembled rice. Despite the boy's refusals to sample the substance, or passing such comments like, "Man, Akane, I don't think rice is supposed to move under its own power…" the middle Tendo daughter wasn't getting as mad as she might have. No mallets were mysteriously appearing, for one thing. And this was a very strange thing, for there was also Ukyo and Shampoo, and Ranma wasn't having any trouble accepting their food. The Akane of old would be seething at this point.

But this wasn't the Akane of old. She could still remember, as could Ranma and Ukyo, the image of Shampoo's broken body lying on the pavement after she had saved Ukyo from a suicide attempt. The idea that Shampoo could be so self-sacrificing was a shock and a surprise to Akane, and the thought of coming close to losing Ukyo, and the very real likelihood of losing Shampoo forever… well, there were a lot of times when Akane had wished deeply that Shampoo and Ukyo both would just go away, but now she realized just how important they both were to her. When the doctors told her, Ranma, and Ukyo there was no possible way for the Amazon to recover from such massive injuries, their mutual grief was profound. It was to everyone's amazement that Shampoo, regardless of her physicians' dire predictions, made a full and very speedy recovery.

Shampoo, of course, had no such memories of this terrible incident that had brought them all closer together. Not because the trauma of the situation purged her mind of it, but because, quite simply, it never happened! The aforementioned terrible memory was simply a contrivance of a certain live-in Goddess of Love that Shampoo had somehow summoned, and she had never been able to figure out just how dialing the wrong number of a noodle shop would have got her in touch with a divinity capable and willing to grant her fondest wish, that of Ranma loving her. That she'd have to put up with Akane and Ukyo as part of the bargain was beginning to seem like less of an annoyance than she thought it would. The purple-haired Amazon was actually beginning to find qualities in her now-former rivals that she could admire… Akane's stubbornness and persistence, for example (when directed properly, that is), and Ukyo's easy-going manner.

As for Ukyo, well, anything that got her closer to Ranma was fine by her. But she, too, was operating under the assumptions caused by the dynamics of Shampoo's little wish tinkering with their memory, and every time she looked at Shampoo, she saw, in her mind, that broken doll all smashed on the pavement. She was feeling a tremendous burden of debt toward Shampoo, and while it didn't bother her that she owed so much to the Amazon, as such, the existence of such an obligation had to be dealt with. The Kuonji always paid off their debts of honor, after all. She had a plan, had Ukyo, and she intended to talk to Cologne about it later in the day… but for now, it was time to simply appreciate being alive, and being with those she loved.

"So, Ranma… how's school going?" Nabiki inquired.

"Well, history's okay… and I don't mind Classical Japanese, met some guys on a training journey that actually talked like that… but that math stuff? Man, I just don't get that at all…" the boy confessed.

"Well, try. After all, if you're going to be marrying my sister, the least you could do is get good marks in school…" Nabiki stated.

"Yeah, but… what good is it to me if I can "prove" some crazy geometry thing? I'm gonna be running a dojo, not go into physics…"

"Now, Ranma… it’s supposed to encourage and develop logical patterns of thinking," Kasumi pointed out.

"But that's just it, Kasumi… my whole life's been spent building up intuition… that's what a martial artist needs, not logic. Ya gotta listen to what's in your own heart and act on your feelings!"

Everyone bravely resisted the urge to pass a comment on that.

"Ranma-honey? I'm pretty good with math… business math, anyway… have to be, after all. Maybe I could help you, tutor you a bit?" Ukyo offered. "Maybe Nabiki might even help, since she brought it up in the first place…"

Nabiki sighed. "Well… not to boast or anything, but I am pretty good at what Ranma calls "that stuff"… and I have nothing better to do, I suppose… might as well, help… for a small fee, of course."

Ukyo smiled to herself. Nabiki, she thought, you're not fooling anyone but yourself. You want to be seen as this "ice queen", but underneath, you really do care about Ranma, don't you? I'm just glad I don't have you as a rival…

Akane decided to herself that while she trusted Nabiki to keep things honest if she and Ukyo were both tutoring Ranma. Whenever Ukyo was scheduled to be alone with the boy, there was to be a chaperone in the room -- namely, herself. Things were far better between the Official Fiancée Brigade, but Akane wanted to make sure it was only math that would be taught, not biology.

The okonomiyaki chef turned her attention to Shampoo. "What about you, sugar? When are you going to get into school? You're missing a lot, you know…"

The Amazon nodded. "Shampoo know this. But Great-grandmother no want Shampoo go to Japanese school, say it… it…" And here the girl's eyes crossed slightly as she tried to remember the words. "…she say it 'stifle development of the individual and discourage healthy pursuit of… of post-education knowledge.' Shampoo not know what all that mean, but Great-grandmother teach Shampoo many things, and new friend, Freya? She know lot about history. She know lot about many things…" And the Amazon blushed as she remembered last night's lesson. The blush did not go unnoticed by Nabiki, who couldn't help thinking to herself, Yeah, I'll bet!

"But what Shampoo want to know is what big sister Kasumi learn when go into college. She very smart, after all…"

"Big sister?" Kasumi asked, smiling.

"Well, you is like big sister. Always make Shampoo feel welcome, always say nice things, do nice things. Shampoo think Kasumi not do enough for herself…"

"You go that right, Sugar… you need to take some time for yourself, Kasumi…"

"Perhaps you're right," Kasumi conceded, although to herself she was afraid that things would fall apart the moment she left. Everyone was getting along so nicely, it would be a shame if anything happened to ruin the good feelings everyone seemed to be sharing. In the very recent past, she thought, things would have degenerated into an all-out catfight between Shampoo and Ukyo, and Akane would have sent Ranma through the roof again. This new and unfamiliar thing… what was it called again? Oh, yes, peace and quiet… it was much preferable.

"I really haven't given too much thought about college, to be honest. What would I study? There's so much… I could study Eastern Philosophy… or there's medicine… perhaps even archeology…"

"Archeology? What, digging up dusty old bones, broken pots, that sort of thing?" Ranma asked.

"Oh, but its ever so much more than that!" Kasumi chided. "It's learning about how people lived, what they did, how they thought, from so long ago. It's making a lost time and world come back to life again!"

"Yeah, well, whatever…" Ranma shrugged.

And where was Freya, pray tell, as the gang enjoyed their delightful morning repast and each other's company? Oh, there she is, sprawled out on her futon, snoring loudly, with a half-empty bottle of mead by her side. Oh dear, whacked again.

It was evident that the Nordic Goddess of Love was not a morning person, as she got up, looked around blearily, and smacked her lips to get rid of that nasty taste in her mouth. Despite the amount of honey brew she had put away, she was not hung over (Nordic goddesses do not suffer that particular ailment, although some of the more demure female deities of other pantheons might…), but she was clearly not at her best as she peered into a mirror, screamed at the sight, and immediately stated fussing with her hopelessly snaggled hair.

It was times like this she wished Goddesses weren't required to have the most elaborately luxurious lengths of tresses (well, do you know of any goddesses with short hair? It's practically in the Job Description). She regretted Shampoo's absence as she ran a brush through her locks… ah, Shampoo… so sweet… and so willing. She had detected a bit of a submissive streak in the girl… might be fun to explore that sometime. Then again, it might be better to leave that for the Amazon and her mates to find out for themselves, once they started "going at" each other, which was bound to happen sooner or later. And if Freya had any say in the matter, it would definitely be sooner.

Hair finally tamed and groomed to perfection, she looked through Shampoo's wardrobe to find an inspiration for her clothing. Having found something to her liking, she manipulated the molecules around her, and was enrobed by a Chinese cheongsam that was so close-fitting it looked as if it had been spray-painted over her skin. She then emerged from the bedroom in search of breakfast.

Cologne was startled to see the Goddess in something that even Shampoo might hesitate to wear. Her surprise increased when she saw the amount of food Freya considered adequate for a morning meal.

"I take it your date with Kuno went as well as you expected?" Cologne asked. The old woman was wise enough not to mention the goings-on of last night, although she was considering investing in a good pair of ear plugs.

Freya nodded around a mouthful of food.

"Frankly, I don't know what you see in the boy," the ancient Amazon went on. "You do know that Kuno is a selfish, arrogant, untalented blowhard with delusions of grandeur…"

Freya nodded again and swallowed. "Why of course he's conceited and arrogant. That's what attracted me in the first place. He reminds me of a lot of the heroes from back home. But it’s not entirely true he's untalented… he is good with that bokken, and with the proper inspiration, he has it in himself to become brilliant…"

"And I suppose you'll be providing the inspiration?" Cologne inquired.

"I think I could manage it… after all, while I'm fixing Shampoo up, why shouldn't I get a little something for myself? True, our two styles of swordplay are quite different… we don't even share the same attitudes toward swords. back home, we have a saying, 'Praise no sword until it is broken', of course, we also say 'Praise no woman until she is burnt', and you can imagine what I think about that one… but I am a Goddess of Battle, after all. And even if I can't teach him a thing or two… well, about swords, at least… I know I can teach him more than a few things about… something else… I might be able to call in a favor or two and find some god or goddess that can help tutor him. In fact, there's a certain goddess I happen to know that might be just right." The goddess smirked as she thought about how Kuno would react to being face to face with… her.

"Still," Freya continued, "There is one thing I noticed in Kuno… for all his boast and bluster, there's a darkness deep in him… it's almost as if there's something small and helpless in him, calling out for help…"

"I couldn't tell you what that might be, but I do know someone who just might. Nabiki Tendo's known the Kuno boy for some time, from what I understand, so you might want to consider asking her about him. Just make sure you can afford her prices…" Cologne advised.

"How's that?" the goddess asked.

"The middle Tendo daughter tends to charge for information. She has a reputation of being an "Ice Queen", something I suspect she built up to insulate her from the pains of the world… their mother died when all the daughters were very young, and the loss affected each of them deeply, as thus: Kasumi tries to be her mother, Akane's angry at the world for taking her mother away, and Nabiki… well, in my estimation, she uses money to protect herself, since money can't hurt you… and she built up her reputation as a… you'll excuse me, I'm sure… bitch to keep people distant. If you don't let them close, they can't hurt you… that's how her thinking goes, I'm sure." Cologne explained.

With that to consider, Freya busied herself helping the ancient Amazon in putting the Cat Cafe in order, aided by Shampoo who came back after Ukyo, the Tendos, and Ranma went off to school. The goddess cornered Shampoo for a moment in setting up the restaurant.

"Say, Shampoo… what time do they do lunch at Furinkan High?"

"Usually at noon… Shampoo goes often to feed Airen, school food not being fit for human consumption. You think you'll maybe pay Kuno a little visit?"

"Yeah, I just might give him a little surprise, but I also want to talk to Nabiki about something."

"Aiyah! Talking to Nabiki costs much money! She's a very mercenary girl and thinks more of cash than people…" Shampoo warned.

"I've heard about that, yes. I think I can afford her prices."

"It's your wallet." Shampoo shrugged.

And so it was that Freya, having obtained directions to Furinkan High School from the Amazon beauty (a good thing it wasn't Ryoga from which she acquired directions… and our favorite fanged wanderer will make his appearance in this story, ye may rely on that!), found herself in front of the school, just as the lunch bell rang. Shampoo had given a quick primer of school lunch routines to the goddess, since she had so often delivered various treats to her airen at that time. Many of the kids were exiting the building to eat their meals outdoors, since it was, after all, a gloriously fine day, certainly not one to be wasted inside a school.

Kuno, being the poetical type, was already out, declaiming on the beauty of the day and comparing it to the pigtailed goddess and the beauteous Akane Tendo. In fact, he could see his two goddesses dining with their mercenary sister (a very uncharitable thought from Kuno, considering Nabiki's his major source for his Akane/Pigtailed Goddess fix…), and was just about to go over to grace them with the benefit of his presence when a sultry voice husked in his ear, thusly:

"You are going to include me in your poem, aren't you, darlin'?" Kuno drew up short and gulped as he saw the celestial beauty before him, and before he could respond with an even vaguely intelligent comment (lets be honest… while Akane and the luscious redheaded pigtailed girl carbonate Kuno's hormones severely, his new discovery, the sword-bearing goddess, fries his brains… and as has been noted, he really doesn't have much to spare), Freya fried his brain with a deep kiss and very close embrace. Since this procedure was observed by anyone who happened to be around, and any students that might have been looking out their classroom windows, the local school rumor mill began to swing into operation, mainly based on speculation as to just who the woman was, and why such an absolute stunner should be kissing Kuno, of all people.

"Just wanted to thank you for the date, Darlin'… we'll have to do it again sometime!" Freya explained to the swordsman, thus feeding the rumor mill yet more among those who heard her.

Having spotted Nabiki Tendo sitting over by a tree, she patted a frozen Kuno's cheek fondly (that is to say, Kuno was "frozen" in the sense that he wasn't moving… those little wisps of steam coming from under his collar indicated that he wasn't cold…) and proceeded to the middle Tendo girl. Nabiki had been watching the entire proceedings between Freya and Kuno with some amusement… after all, it wasn't often that a woman could render the would-be samurai silent… well, Kodachi did it frequently, but that's only with the aid of paralysis powder. Then the shorthaired girl noticed just where Freya was heading. Nabiki (who was now alone since both Ranma and Akane, having a finely-honed sense of danger about such things, had noticed Kuno's attention and decided to be elsewhere…) still hadn't made up her mind just how she felt about Shampoo's new friend… she was an unknown quantity, and Nabiki hated not knowing… so this might be a chance to observe and learn something about the mysterious visitor from the North.

"Hello, Nabiki, mind if I join you?" Freya asked.

"Feel free…" the Tendo girl shrugged carelessly in response, and patted the ground. The Nordic beauty sat… carefully. She didn't want grass stains on her dress… even if she could summon it up from air molecules.

Freya, being a Nordic goddess, didn't have too firm a grasp of the word "tact". So she came to her point with a directness that would have been shocking for ordinary Japanese… but then, Nabiki Tendo was hardly an ordinary girl, and valued directness.

"Its about Kuno… I gotta admit, I kinda like the big lug, but there's something about him that bothers me. Now, I got ways I can find things out that you wouldn't believe, but… well, I really don't want to use them unless I absolutely have to… professional ethics, understand? Cologne told me you know something about Tatewaki and his family…"

Nabiki didn't know what "ways" Freya was talking about, let alone her reference to "professional ethics" (not that Nabiki didn't possess her own set of ethics), but she was asking for information, and… "That sort of info doesn't come free, you know… and I've got expenses…"

"I don't have any of the local currency", Freya stated (and the phrasing struck Nabiki as a bit… odd… "local currency"?), "But would these do?"

And Freya placed into Nabiki's waiting palm a couple of apparently gold coins. She looked them over… on the front were letters that spelled out something like "Aelpvlch Eriaavc" and there was a woman's profile… nose a bit too large, Nabiki noted. On the obverse side of both coins was a seated winged figure, with the legend "Salvs Pvblicae", and just below the figure was something that looked like "Conob". The coins had the feel of antiquity, but looked absolutely new. She shrugged, nodded her acceptance of them, but mentally promised to get them checked out at her earliest chance. Sure had the weight of gold, but there was something… strange about them.

"Okay, here's what I know about Kuno… the family, what there is of it, is loaded, of course… Oh, I should say there's Tatewaki… you know that, of course, but there's his sister, Kodachi… she goes to a different school. They've got guardians that see to their needs, and a whole staff of retainers, including one little guy who thinks he's some sort of ninja…"

Freya interrupted. "What there is of the family? Now what does that mean, darlin'?"

"Just what I said… there's only Tatewaki and his sister… their father just up and vanished about six years ago, and their mother… ah yes, therein hangs the tale…"

"What do you mean?" Freya prompted.

"Their mother… wasn't at all a nice person. She taught Kodachi gymnastics with the intent of making her Olympic level, but she was too much of a perfectionist, and when 'Dachi didn't do things as good as she was supposed to she'd… um… get punished pretty bad. To be perfectly honest, Kuno Hitome was abusive, both to her son and to Kodachi. She could go from being an almost smothering and overprotective mother to… well, to being almost demonic. One day, something snapped in her mind… She took a dagger… you know the type? Looks something like our swords, but shorter? Well, Hitome was always big on Bushido concepts… that's where Kuno gets it… and she…" here Nabiki hesitated a bit… "She drove the knife into her own belly, deep, and cut across… Kuno-chan found her like that… he tried to help her, but of course, he failed… I mean, what did he know? It took Hitome a god-awful long time to die."

Freya was, quite naturally, shocked and aghast. Even horrified. "That's…", and her voice trailed off. She didn't have any words to describe her feelings. Unknown to Nabiki, she'd seen a vast about of suffering and tragedy in her time, had, in fact, even helped to cause some of it, under orders, but this story topped anything in her experience. And to be discovered so by her children…

"And what about Kodachi?" she asked. She'd have to make a point to meet this sister of Kuno sometime.

"'Dachi found her mother and Kuno together, Kuno still trying to help… Well, from what I've heard, Kodachi had been experimenting with some plants of her father's and was able to create some sort of drug from some weird black roses, and she's been dosing Kuno up pretty regular. Most likely to make him… well, forget a bit. They fight… a lot… but deep down, Tatewaki and Kodachi care a lot for each other.

"And I've been doing some reading on psychology, and I'd say that Kuno has some sort of an disassociative personality disorder, a form of denial in which he shuts out the reality that you and I take for granted in preference of a version of reality in which he's a noble samurai from out of the Tokugawa era. He's the hero of his fantasy world, a legend in his own mind, and if it weren't for the fact that he's a superb athlete and above-average kendo student, he'd be perfectly harmless. It's not like he's really as far out as a sociopath or full-fledged schizophrenic. Something you might want to remember on your next date with him… That is, if you're still inclined. All I can say is, while I've had it rough in the 'mother' department, those two -- Kuno and Kodachi, that is -- had all the bad and none of the good." Nabiki tried to keep those memories from coming up, and Freya didn't help when she asked:

"Why? What happened to your mother?" The goddess asked quietly.

"Died. Cervical cancer." Nabiki kept her words deliberately short. She just didn't want to remember.

Oh yes, that's right, Freya thought to herself, the old woman did say something about these Tendo girls losing their mother at an early age. But, jeez, really a shame about Kuno. She'd have to think of something to do about that. But for now…

"I'm sorry to bring up painful memories, Nabiki. I shouldn't have said anything…"

"No, its okay… well, actually, its not, but there's no way around it. You see, my mother and Kuno's died about the same time, and were buried at the same time. That's how we met, by the way, at the cemetery… real romantic, huh?"

'Romantic'. Hearing that spoken by Nabiki about Kuno put Freya on her guard. "Um… you… don't have any designs on him, do you?"

Nabiki snorted. "If you want him, he's yours! Yeah, I dated him a couple times, but no big deal."

"Thanks, Nabiki, you've been very helpful. Given me a lot to think about, though. And if you ever need to talk… about things, you know…? You know where to find me. Suppose I should leave you to your lunch now…"

"Thanks for the offer, Freya" Nabiki said, even if she didn't have any intention of taking the goddess up on it. "But my lunch?" She sighed. "For some reason, I'm not really hungry right now."

Freya patted the girl's hand in an inadequate gesture of comfort, got up, and walked away. Nabiki sighed again, closed her bento, and headed back for the school.

"Ah, Miss Kuonji! And to what do I owe the honor of this visit by Nerima's best okonomiyaki chef?" Cologne greeted Ukyo as she came through the door. The girl had left school a bit early; she had things to discuss with Shampoo's great grandmother that were far more important than education. Especially in a school run by a pineapple-headed nutcase of a principal.

"You mean Japan's best, don't you?" Ukyo countered. "And what's with this 'Miss Kuonji' stuff, anyway? After all, with your great granddaughter and I entering into an… arrangement, after all, you better get used to calling me Ukyo."

That took Cologne a little unaware. "Hah? Arrangement?" Then her voice trailed off as she remembered the effects and the provisions of the Wish that Shampoo had made. "Ah yes… quite… then what is it that brings you to my humble establishment, Ukyo?"

"Well, it's…" Ukyo began stumbling over her words. "Aw… look, I'm no good at this, so I'm just gonna say it. I owe Shampoo big time. I mean, she saved my life, and almost at the cost of her own. One thing for sure, that's the last time ever I feel that sorry or myself. It just led to too much pain and trouble."

Cologne listened politely and sipped some tea, mainly to cover any confusion she might have shown.

"Anyway", Ukyo continued, "Like I said, I owe Shampoo, and we Kuonji always repay our debts. Shampoo and I… well, we haven't agreed about too much in the past, but that's all changed now."

Cologne nodded encouragingly, not really following Ukyo's train of thought.

"But I need help in paying off that debt. More to the point, I need your help. You know all about Joketsuzoku and Jusenkyo… just how would I get there?"

Alarm bells started going off in Cologne's head. "Child… you can not possibly be thinking of seeking out a cure for Shampoo?"

Ukyo nodded. "Can't think of a better way to fulfill my debt to her."

This put Cologne into something of a bind. After all, she knew the events Ukyo were talking about, her own attempted suicide and Shampoo's rescue of her, were simply falsified memories implanted into her mind, as well as Ranma's and Akane's (not to mention the rest of the Saotomes and Tendos) by a certain resident goddess. This was one of those things you just couldn't say to a person, let alone the fact that the old woman had promised to Freya to preserve her secret. You don't mess around with divinities, after all.

On the other hand, she had to do something to dissuade Ukyo from her stated course. The matriarch of the Amazons could foresee nothing much good coming of this little plan of Ukyo's, and there was much that could go wrong.

"Child, please reconsider your actions. Trust me; Shampoo believes there is no debt or obligation standing between you and her. And it is a dangerous journey that you are contemplating… there are places in China that yet remain untamed, and our village can be very suspicious of strangers. And the springs of Jusenkyo hold dangers for both the wary and the unwary, as I'm sure you know by now."

"Um… yeah, kinda got that impression. but I can't believe Shampoo doesn't think there's anything between us. Saving my life might not be important to her, but it sure is to me!"

"Are you then so set on this?" Cologne asked.

"Sure am," Ukyo affirmed. "Shampoo and I are going to be sharing a new life together, along with Ranma and Akane, so I might as well start it off right."

"I still think you are making a grave mistake, one certain to have unfortunate consequences, but if you are so determined, despite my warnings…" Cologne sighed and rubbed her brows. "I shall give you maps, directions, safe-conduct passes and letters of introduction. I'll also contact some people I know in the government to help facilitate your journey. Would that serve?"

"It's all I could ask! And don't worry; I know what's at risk at those springs, so I'll be extra careful!" Ukyo assured the old woman confidently and left the restaurant.

Alas for the folly of youth… Cologne thought sadly to herself.

The principles of dramatic timing being what they are, it was just then that Freya returned from her interview with Nabiki.

"Did you learn all you wanted?" queried Cologne.

The goddess nodded, a bit sadly, remembering the tragedy of the tale she was told. Then the Amazon matriarch informed Freya: "We have a problem with Miss Kuonji."

"Problem? What sort of problem?" Freya asked.

"Ukyo thinks she owes Shampoo for saving her life, and is planning what will most likely prove to be a considerably risky journey to Jusenkyo in search of a cure. I fear what she might find there will not be a cure, but quite the opposite… and all because she's operating under a mistaken assumption." And she gave Freya a rather pointed look. She wasn't about to tell the goddess it was all her fault, though. Much too dangerous!

"You didn't tell her about me?" Cologne shook her head. "Oh, good… and hey, don't look at me like that, it's not my fault! You see, I'm just a facilitator, so to speak. I channel and give Shampoo's wish power; through me, it sped to the Higher Planes, where it was shaped and made real, and it was in those Higher Planes that its nature was determined. What happens afterwards… is Destiny. Maybe that's part of the reason Kami-sama wanted me to stay down here to observe events as they unfold."

"Events as they unfold?" Cologne repeated.

"Yep. His words, actually. And believe me, you don't want to go against His will or word… In fact, you can't, not really, not if you're a goddess."

"So are the involved parties here to remain ignorant of just who you are? How long shall we maintain the fiction of you being a college exchange student?"

Freya took on a distant look, as if she were concentrating on something far away. Then she smiled and chuckled, and her American Southern accent became pronounced as she said, "I rather suspect we might not have to worry too much about hiding my true nature from the… 'involved parties', as you say. In fact, the bait has been taken and the game is afoot, so to speak…"

"Bait? What do you mean?" Cologne was puzzled.

"There's rules and regulations I must follow about concealing my divine nature, but there's some… loopholes… around them. It's all just a matter of a little nudge here, a prod there, and a hint in the right direction…" Freya smirked.

Kasumi was absorbed deep in thought as she left the local library. As her sister had pointed out, there were things about this Freya person that didn't add up quite, and there was something odd about the arrangement her youngest sister had made with her rivals in romance and with Ranma. Not that Kasumi objected to the setup; things had become a bit more settled and orderly, which certainly made her happy, and not having fiancée fights on a regular basis meant the family could save on the extensive repair bills, too. She wasn't as concerned as Nabiki seemed to be about the group arrangement, although even she hadn't come around to calling it a group marriage yet (not that they were married, not at the moment); after all, anything that promoted harmony and order in her household suited her fine.

But Freya… Yes, Freya was a mystery. Especially after seeing how she dealt with some of Japan's Finest (that's police officers and SWAT to you… See chapter 3). A further mystery was why no one else but her sister remembered seeing the lightning quick fight. And that strangely hideous figure that stood watching the fight, who or what was she?

So Kasumi had spent some time in the library doing a bit of research. The Internet was such a wonderful tool, after all. She hadn't really found too much that was useful, but she did learn the name of Shampoo's puzzling guest seemed to be based on a Nordic goddess. She read over the papers she had printed out as she walked.

"Freya: {fray'-ah}

In Norse mythology, Freya, or Freyja, was the goddess of beauty and love. A beautiful, blonde, blue-eyed young woman, she was the sister of Frey and in later traditions the wife of ODIN. Freya claimed half of the heroes slain in battle, carrying them to her realm of Folkvang in ASGARD. Most of her myths concern attempts by the giants to abduct her. In Teutonic mythology, she was fused with the goddess FRIGG. Friday is named for her."



In Norse mythology, Freya is a goddess of love and fertility, and the most beautiful and propitious of the goddesses. She is the patron goddess of crops and birth, the symbol of sensuality and was called upon in matters of love. She loves music, spring and flowers, and is particularly fond of the elves (fairies). Freya is one of the foremost goddesses of the Vanir.

She is the daughter of the god Njord, and the sister of Freyr. Later she married the mysterious god Od (probably another form of Odin), who disappeared. When she mourned for her lost husband, her tears changed into gold.

Her attributes are the precious necklace of the Brisings, which she obtained by sleeping with four dwarfs, a cloak (or skin) of bird feathers, which allows its wearer to change into a falcon, and a chariot pulled by two cats. She owns Hildesvini ("battle boar") which is actually her human lover Ottar in disguise. Her chambermaid is Fulla. Freya lives in the beautiful palace Folkvang ("field of folk"), a place where love songs are always played, and her hall is Sessrumnir. She divides the slain warriors with Odin: one half goes to her palace, while the other half goes to Valhalla. Women also go to her hall. "

Which was quite interesting, because didn't the Freya she and her sister were so puzzled by have a necklace she treasured? And her beauty and ready sensuality (and here Kasumi blushed demurely) were quite apparent.

And then there was… "Norse mythology associates the aurora with the beautiful goddess, Freya, daughter of Njord and the giantess Skadi. Freya was the goddess of beauty and love as well as battle and death. Friday was named after her. She is always pictured wearing a famous necklace, called a brisling, given to her by dwarfs. Her brother was the Sun god Freyr."

Hmm… battle… Well, the Freya Kasumi knew was certainly good at that, too. Could it be? Kasumi laughed at her own thoughts. It was foolish to assume that the Freya living with Shampoo was a goddess! Of course, Nerima was known for strange things, like gender and species changing martial artists, panty-thieving dwarfs, Amazons visiting from China, so if a goddess did visit merry old Earth, Nerima would be just the spot. Still, the very concept was just too silly…

And that was when Kasumi bumped into someone. A certain female someone wearing a dark gymnast's leotard emblazoned with a bright red rose.

"Oh! I'm terribly sorry… it’s entirely my fault, my mind was elsewhere and I'm afraid I wasn't paying proper attention to where I was going…" Kasumi offered by way of both explanation and apology.

Kodachi Kuno, reigning queen of the high school martial arts gymnastics world, was about to lambaste the clumsy oaf that dared jostle her, when she looked up and met the wide, gentle and guileless eyes of Kasumi Tendo. Her hostility instantly melted away.

For Kodachi, looking into those eyes was like sinking into a well of unquestioning love and acceptance. There was something devotedly… maternal about them, or at least what the gymnast always thought of as being maternal, her own mother being by far less than a perfect example of motherhood.

And Kasumi, looking into the black depths of Kodachi's eyes, she saw some of the shadows of the girl's tormented soul, and she ached to reach out and comfort her somehow.

The pair had, of course, encountered each other before, when Kodachi made her forays into the Tendo house in some scheme to require the heart of her Ranma, or some other organ of same. But this time, they were each alone, no other distractions around them. Kodachi, who was just a moment ago quite ready to ribbon-lash the unfortunate who had the presumption to bump into her, instead stammered her own apology. "No, please, I must surely share some of the blame. My mind, too, was elsewhere, and I was walking with my head in the clouds…" Her thoughts filled with Ranma, of course.

"You are most kind to say so, but it is surely not so. You must let me try to make up for my clumsiness. Would you like to stop by the house sometime for dinner?" Kasumi offered.

Kodachi thought for a little. She had never had an actual invitation to the Tendo house before, and there was something about the older girl before her that was, in a gentle way (of course), compelling. There was a hint, just a hint, that (please excuse the writer for this, but…) resistance was useless. So, Kodachi agreed with all the proper graciousness of her centuries old samurai background, a date was set, and the two young women parted.

And with that, Kasumi went on her way, her mind returning to the problem of Freya. The more she thought about it, the more those curious little coincidences between Freya the mythical goddess and Freya the Scandinavian visitor bothered her. Well, there was someone that might be able to help. True, she hadn't talked to her friend from high school for a couple of years… She, like Freya, was an exchange student, and was also from the far north and expressed an interest in the mythology of her region. Yes, the more Kasumi thought about it, the better she liked the idea. In fact, she'd give Urd Odinsdottir a call as soon as she got home.


To be continued.

Author's notes: Oh, dear. Who is Kasumi going to call? It can't be that Urd, can it? Kasumi and Urd? Together? (And in the same high school, in fact? Must be a story there…) And what's this about Ukyo wanting to play tourist in China? Will she find what she's looking for, or will there be yet another cursed martial artist in Nerima? And can this four-way relationship really work out? And what about Nabiki and Kasumi playing detective? These questions and more will be addressed in the soon-to-be worked on Chapter 6 of "Aiyah! My Goddess?"

On the Matter of the Food Cliché: Yes, I know… been done before, and very likely much better than I. Still, I wanted to show just how the dynamics of Ranma and The Girls had changed, and I couldn't think of a better way of doing that than over breakfast. Don't they say it's the most important meal of the day?

Chapter 6
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