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

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Oh! My Goddess belongs to Fujishima Kousuke, Kodansha, TBS and KSS films; AnimEigo, Studio Proteus, and Dark Horse Comics. It'd be pretty silly for me to claim that I own Ranma and Company, wouldn't it? Of course, the truth is, I know who really owns the Nerima, and it's not who you think…it's… oh no! Argh! It's the Men in Black! They're pointing a flashy thing at me and…!

Chapter 7

A blushing Urd quickly interrupted whatever it was Freya was about to disclose regarding her and the aforementioned Mara. "I could ask you the same thing, Freya dear." Urd was almost hissing out that "dear".

"Oh! Then you two know each other?" Kasumi asked.

"Ohhhh, yes," two voices chorused, and two pairs of jaws clenched.

It was evident there was some… tension between the two Nordic visitors. It would hardly do to have them glaring over their teacups at each other — even though Freya didn't have a teacup at the moment — it would disturb the harmony of the house. It was bad enough when Ranma and Akane bickered. So Kasumi exerted her usual calming influence, with a word or two here, a gentle touch there, a glance or a look… Whatever she sensed would work. And soon, the strain between the two had thawed a bit, and in one magical moment, both Freya and Urd even smiled. And it was that smile that did it. For Kodachi, wounded as she was by years of maternal abuse, it was like the sun burning away the clouds in her disordered mind, and she knew, she suddenly knew, with a certainty that surpassed anything she had ever known before, the nature of her fellow guests. "You! I know what you are! You're goddesses!"

It was just at that moment that Akane and Ranma came in. Seeing the others at the table, their first impulse was to greet all with a cheery "Hey, gang! What's up?" but the problem with walking into the middle of a conversation — especially such as are all too often centered around the Tendo table — is that you have no idea what's going on. Thus it was in this case. Upon hearing Kodachi's claim, Akane looked around. She was surprised to see the crazy ribbon-girl sitting quietly in her house in the first place. Kasumi, check. That's normal. Kasumi at table means no matter what sort of disasters are happening, all is fundamentally right with the world. Nabiki at table? Check again. Better keep a grip on her purse, though. Freya at table? Well, check. A friend of Shampoo's, so that's okay; good martial artist with that sword of hers… and she did put paid to Happosai. Urd at table? Not check. Akane didn't really care for Urd, although she couldn't really tell just why. There was just… well, an air of sensuality about the platinum-haired beauty that set Akane's teeth on edge. And back when Urd and Kasumi were both in high school, they did seem to spend a lot of time together. The youngest Tendo sister didn't really approve of that. And Kodachi at table, behaving herself? Definitely not check. And hearing the erstwhile Black Rose proclaim not one, but two women as goddesses was most assuredly not Standard Operating Procedure.

As for Ranma… Well, it has been noted by a variety of writers that the boy had a somewhat underdeveloped sense of sexuality, but one look at Urd and he goggled, while visions of heart-shaped beds and satin sheets filled his mind for some reason.

As Ranma and Akane sat down, they, along with Nabiki, greeted that remark of Kodachi's with a variety of giggles, guffaws, and belly laughs… all save Kasumi, who was thoughtfully studying both Kodachi and her Nordic guests, who were squirming a little uncomfortably.

Urd and Freya sighed and looked at each other. "Crap," Urd groaned out.

Freya nodded. "Yep. We've been busted… and you know the Rules about this as well as I."

Urd shook her head in dismay. "Terrific." She turned her attention to the Black Rose. "Dear, you called us goddesses. What do you see when you look at us? I mean, really look at us… and never mind the laughing clowns for now. Just tell us what you see."

Being called "clowns" didn't set quite well with the assembled martial artists at table. That, plus the curious attention that the two older women were focusing on Kodachi, caused their hilarity to be silenced. But being laughed at embarrassed and angered Kodachi. "I'm sorry. I spoke out of turn. Please excuse me."

"Kodachi… They were just taken by surprise by your claim. Please tell us what you see. I'd like to know, even if no one else would." Kasumi took Kodachi's hand in hers, in a gesture of reassurance.

At the touch, Kodachi's heart tripped in her chest. She found the touch of the eldest Tendo daughter to be strangely moving. She gulped, wondering what this new feeling was, and then gathered up her courage, prepared to be mocked again.

"I see… Beauty. I… can't really tell you what I see, because I have not the words to speak of it. But they… they glow… and if I don't gaze directly upon them, I can just see, barely… a shimmering… of wings? I… I'm not sure, but that's what it looks like. Such beauty… such power… how can you not see it?"

"Oh, come on, Kodachi… are you telling us that two goddesses just popped out of the heavens and dropped in to give us all a big 'konnichiwa'? That's ludicrous!" the ever-cynical Nabiki scoffed.

"Umm… actually, that's exactly what we did," Freya said.

Eyes turned from Kodachi to Freya as the implications of her words began to penetrate.

"We've always found it best to conceal our true natures from most mortals, but there's some that can somehow pierce through the illusion of the ordinary. Strangely, it's usually those mentally or emotionally disturbed that tend to see us for who we are. Something about their state of mind," Urd explained.

"And when we are identified as goddesses, we are obligated to admit to our true nature," Freya added.

"Now, what a minute. Are you saying that you really are goddesses? I mean, come on…" Akane scoffed. "You must be as nutsy as Kodachi!"

Kodachi would have taken exception to that, but for Kasumi's hand tightening ever so slightly around hers. It helped immeasurably that at least one in the room was taking her statement seriously.

"It… would seem to make sense. And it would tend to explain one or two things, especially at the café. But I'm afraid that you'll need to somehow prove your claim."

"Thank you for your faith in us, Kasumi, but what would you have us do? Neither of us have any dispensation to work what you would call miracles," Urd stated.

"Well," Kasumi pondered, "perhaps if you show us what Kodachi here can see by herself. She seems quite moved by it."

The goddesses shrugged. "Sounds like an idea," Freya admitted.

And their beautiful but mundane — well, slightly more than mundane — appearances were shed in favor of their true forms. There was no difference in body shape and face, but they were both suffused with a glow of power restrained and controlled, and their clothes changed from the ordinary street clothes they were wearing to long flowing, strangely patterned robes, cut quite low in some places and quite high in others, revealing two pairs of divinely sleek legs, and a large amount of exquisite cleavage — rather in keeping, regarding Freya's own status of Goddess of Love, and Urd's self-proclaimed office of the Cupid of Love. But Freya also had a gold-hilted sword dangling at her side.

As if the glow and the clothes weren't enough, there were the wings. After all, most mortals don't have white-pinioned wings, shimmering in the light so much that the reflections made them seem almost opalescent. The pair of women at the Tendo table were glorious, exquisite, ethereal, unearthly beautiful… and now, revealed in the minds and the eyes of all assembled at table, quite obviously beings of divine grace and power. In other words, they really were goddesses.

Nabiki gulped. The implications were obvious. If there were goddesses, for Kami's sake, then there might actually be a Kami-sama… and if there were goddesses sitting at her table, perhaps she should consider amending some of her ways. Maybe not charge quite so much for those photos she was so fond of taking, and it might be that reducing her standard rate for keeping said photos out of public circulation — read, out of Kuno's paws — would be a good idea.

Urd, for her part, caught Kasumi studying her intently. It was almost enough to make even her blush, and it took a lot to make Urd flush. She believed she knew what thoughts were going through Kasumi's head. The dusky goddess was not an apologizer, but…

"Um… Kasumi… I'm… (gulp) sorry for… well… deceiving you back in high school…"

"Oh, Urd, you didn't deceive me. I always knew there was something special and wonderful about you. But I had no idea that you were a goddess!" And the eldest Tendo daughter smiled warmly, reminding Urd of Belldandy at her best.

"Ooo-kay… So you are goddesses. Well, I guess stranger things have happened here, although I personally can't think of one," Nabiki admitted. "So what are you doing here of all places? I can understand it if the police decided to drop in (and why they haven't is a mystery to me…), but what have we done to capture divine attention?"

"Well, it's not what you've done, but rather what one of your friends did. This is all due to Shampoo, I'm afraid," Freya started to explain.

Akane thought to herself that in the old days — not that they were that long ago — she'd have muttered something like "Of course it would be that bimbo's fault", but she didn't think like that anymore… did she?

Freya continued. "You see — and what I'm about to tell you must not leave this room — there's a certain office we run, called the Goddess Technical Help Line. A mortal found deserving can call us and request a wish…"

"Wait, wait, wait… You mean, just anyone can dial up this office of yours and say 'Oh please, great goddess, grant me a wish', and poof, it's done? Come on…" the ever-skeptical Nabiki scoffed.

Urd picked up the explanation. "It's hardly as simple as that, of course. The mortal must be found deserving before he or she is allowed to contact us, and that contact must be the result of random accident, usually dialing a 'wrong' number. And that number changes from mortal to mortal."

"And Shampoo was found deserving? That's wonderful. She's been through a lot, you know," Kasumi enthused, with a glance over at Ranma and Akane. "But what did she wish for?"

Urd broke in before Freya could answer. "Freya, dear, don't you think you should get this Shampoo person before you go further? This does involve her, after all"

Freya smacked herself on her forehead. "D'oh! You're right, should have thought of that earlier. I'll go right now. Won't take long at all."

"Not the way you drive." Urd smirked.

Freya didn't dignify that comment with a reply, but she did cross her eyes and stick her tongue out at Urd. Nabiki sighed to herself. These are supposed to be goddesses? Then Freya took out a small black object and pressed a button.

"Is that for your car?" Kasumi asked.

"Not quite…" Freya said. And from outside came one of the most terrifying sounds Ranma had ever heard: low, deep growling.


And what made it worse, it was answered by a "Rrrrrrr-OWL."

And worst yet… both sounds were just outside the house.

"Ah, my ride's here"

Nabiki just had to look after hearing that, and what she saw made her eyes widen. "Umm… Ranma, I don't think you should look. You wouldn't like what you'd see. I'm not sure I'm seeing it!"

Ranma had no intention of looking. He was having enough to do just trying to control his fearful shuddering. Imagine what would happen if he did look, and saw the ornately carved cart parked outside the Tendo house, hitched to two giant grey housecats, the size of sabertooth tigers.

While Ranma wasn't about to look, Kasumi couldn't help her curiosity. She took a peek, gasped in surprise, then clasped her hands together and merrily exclaimed, "My, what cute kitties!"

"That's your ride?" Nabiki asked in astonishment.

Freya nodded. "Yep. Hey, we goddesses may swing with the times in most things, but there's something to be said for tradition, too. And I couldn't turn them loose, could I? They're both too young to be on their own yet."

Freya stood and headed for the door. "Shouldn't be more than a couple minutes at most."

And the goddess was as good as her word, for almost as soon as she left, she returned with a flushed and somewhat wind-disheveled Shampoo in tow, eyes glowing with excitement. "That faster than father's motorcycle!" she breathlessly exclaimed.

That was a statement that took those assembled around the Tendo table by surprise. "Shampoo! We had no idea you liked motorcycles," Kasumi said, speaking for all.

"Is so! Father very skilled with machines, very useful in village. Teach Shampoo much about engines. He often take Shampoo for ride when little. Shampoo wanted to bring bike to Japan with her, but Great-grandmother not let her. Maybe she try sneak it over sometime anyway and give airens ride?"

"Sure. Sounds like fun." Both Ranma and Akane were more concerned about the revelations regarding Freya than motorcycle rides, so it's understandable they weren't aware of the fate they were tempting by their noncommittal agreement to Shampoo's offer.

Nabiki just shook her head in wonder. "Shampoo as a motor-head… who would have thought it?"

Then Shampoo noticed the bronze-skinned, platinum-haired beauty at the table together with the more familiar faces. There was something about her… Shampoo couldn't quite say what it was, but there was something about the new guest she didn't much like.

"Who that? She look like walking f…" Shampoo began to say, when a shocked Kasumi interrupted.

"Shampoo! That is not a nice thing to say!"

The Amazon looked properly abashed. Being chided by Kasumi would do that to anyone. But Urd, who was gazing dreamily off in the distance, didn't seem to notice either Shampoo's snide remark or Kasumi's scolding. Freya noticed Urd's mental absence, and rapped on the table in front of her fellow goddess.

"Hey, Midgard to Urd! You in there, Urdie, or are you thinking about that Mara again?"

That brought Urd back to reality with a guilty start. As a matter of fact, she had been thinking about Mara, and that one weekend at the hot springs, where it wasn't just the water that ended up getting hot.

Shampoo settled herself down as Nabiki spoke again. "Okay, we're all here. Ukyo's off on that business of hers, whatever it is, but otherwise… So, are you going to tell us what Shampoo's wish was?"

The Amazon started and looked at Freya.

"Why don't you go ahead and tell them, darlin'," the goddess prompted.

"Shampoo wish that Ranma love her and everyone be happy. Please not to hate Shampoo for this…" Shampoo sighed unhappily and waited for the nasty stuff to hit the fan.

Surprise was general. A harpy-ish screech from Kodachi, and her attack on her Amazon rival was only stopped when she saw that somehow Freya's sword was pointing straight at her sternum — and she hadn't even seen the goddess move. Akane gazed in shock at Shampoo with owl-wide eyes. Nabiki hissed out, "You wished for what?!"

And Ranma? That's him over there, laying flat on his back. Big brave martial artist fainted. The big lummox.

But what of Kasumi? How did she react?

"Why, Shampoo, I think that's very sweet!"

Once everyone had finished the sweat-dropping and face-faulting that followed Kasumi's statement, Nabiki asked, "Um… You mind explaining that one, sis?"

Kasumi sighed. Sometimes she wished her family wasn't so slow, that at least once in a while they could see the obvious. Oh, well, nothing for it. "Why, Nabiki, it's very simple. It is, if I'm not mistaken, a two-part wish. That Shampoo would want Ranma to love her is, I admit, nothing new. She has tried a variety of means and methods to achieve that aim, usually without success, and more important, without concern as to how others might feel. But now, with this wish, she's added something else. She wants everyone to be happy. This shows she's growing up a little; but sometimes the form happiness takes is… unexpected. Is that not correct, Freya?"

Everyone in the room was blinking at Kasumi — everyone except Freya and Urd, who were both studying the eldest Kasumi daughter most carefully.

Kasumi smiled in embarrassment under all the attention. "Was it something I said?"

"Um… right. Anyway, what Kasumi here said is true. Sometimes happiness takes an unexpected form. In this case, when Shampoo's wish was logged, approved, and implemented, it took the form of finding the hidden affections Ranma, Ukyo, and Akane all had for each other and for Shampoo, affections they either didn't know they had, or were too afraid to admit, and brought them to the surface. In fine, because of my client's wish for everyone to be happy, you are all now bound together by mutual love. Neat, ain't it?" Freya explained.

"So why couldn't you have let us sort things out ourselves?" Akane insisted.

"Oh, come now. If I did that, you'd all still be locked into that strange and unsatisfying 'love him/her, hate him/her' relationship. I might be the Goddess of Love, but thinking about what sort of future you'd all have like that makes my own brain seize up," explained Freya, rubbing her head.

"You mean you able to see into future?" asked Shampoo hopefully. She was thinking about now many babies she'd be able to give to Ranma.

Freya shook her head, and grasped for the words to make her point, that these mortals could understand. "No, child, I don't have that power. It's such an involved thing, the future. Consider: each and every decision, each action you take, affects and creates the future. A new future is built with each thing you do. What would have happened, Shampoo, if you hadn't called for that order of noodles? Would we have met? Would we all be sitting here? I don't think so. The future's like… like a mirror being reflected into another mirror, images receding infinitely into itself. It's not possible to even begin to sort through such an infinity of potentials, not even for the divine-born."

"But… but you're gods, right?" Akane demanded.

Urd fielded that one. "Doesn't make us all-powerful and all-knowing, darlin'. There's limits to what we can do. We have power, yes; more than you could imagine. But we come dirtside, most of that power's locked away. Good thing, too, or we could really make a mess of things even without trying."

"But… could you go back into the past, to save our mother?" Kasumi hesitantly asked. Unnoticed, Kodachi started at the question.

Freya sighed. "No, I'm afraid not. You see, even we gods travel in time in the same way and speed as you mortals do; one second per second, in a forward direction. We can access the past, of course, and view it in perfect clarity, but we don't have the power to enter it, not without Special Dispensation from On High. It's a good thing, too. We deities have this strong urge to meddle in the affairs of mortals."

"Not that you ever would, right?" Nabiki muttered under her breath.

"So what about our curses? Can you get rid of them?" Ranma asked, his own heart full of hope at the startling revelations.

Shampoo nodded. "Shampoo not be cat again, maybe Airen love her more?"

Again, Freya sighed. "I'm sorry, but I can't do that, either. Or rather, I can, but I won't."

"WON'T?!" Akane, Ranma, and Shampoo all shouted.

"Eep!" Freya jumped and held her hands to her ears.

"Care to explain why?" Nabiki asked, doing a good imitation of a Frost Giant's daughter, she asked so coldly.

"The curses are so meshed into the personality of the affected individual that to remove them would involve altering… Well, actually, it would involve ripping out a sizable part of that person. What's left is someone different. A personality very much other than what was there to begin with. I've heard of other deities trying to cure Jusenkyo curses. The success rate is low to begin with, and the end results… Well, they're usually not happy stories. If I did that, or tried it, rather, Ranma would no longer be Ranma. What he'd be, I don't know, but he would not be the young man you all love. Shampoo, you wouldn't be Shampoo. And Ranma's fear of cats is the same way. It's so entwined around him, so much a part of him, that to attempt to remove it would again alter him in ways I just can't begin to imagine. Best thing I can suggest about that cat thing is to… Well, Ranma, why don't you try, next time Shampoo turns into a cat, to just think of her not as a cat, but as just Shampoo. And Shampoo… um… next time it happens, give the boy a chance to adjust, okay? No leaping into his arms or flicking your tail lovingly into his face!"

"So, what you're saying is we're stuck with these curses, right? Great… Jeez, what good is having a goddess around, then, if she can't do anything about it?" Ranma groused.

"Hey! I got the whole lot of you together, didn't I? Believe me, that took divine intervention," Freya pointed out, rather defensively. "Besides, what would have happened if I hadn't come along when I did? Doesn't take a seer to figure out how this whole mess would end up."

"What you mean?" a puzzled Shampoo asked.

Freya ignored Shampoo and continued, gathering steam. "Ranma, Akane… do you know what would have happened to Shampoo if you two decided to get married? By Amazon law, boy, this girl is your wife! And it don't matter a monkey's cobblers you sayin' 'it doesn't apply to me, I'm not bound by her silly laws', cuz she is! How long has it been… a year and a half? A bit over? Shampoo's on a deadline here, and I do mean deadline! If, at the end of two years, she cannot persuade you to accept her as your bride, Ranma, she loses. She loses status, she loses position, she loses honor. She becomes disgraced among her people. What would you do, Shampoo, in that case?"

Shampoo sighed, eyes wet with unshed tears. "Shampoo return home, face council. Then she go find good, solid tree, lodge sword in between sturdy branches, and embrace tree and death both."

"Oh God, Shampoo, no!" Akane was mortally shocked. She had her problems with the Amazon in the past, true enough, but the very thought of the girl dead, and like that…

"Shampoo… you wouldn't… really do that… would you?" Kasumi, too, was stricken by the idea. Shampoo always seemed so bouncy and full of life…

"Is only choice for warrior, to save rest of family from great dishonor," Shampoo sadly affirmed.

Ranma gazed at Shampoo, aghast. "You… you never told me that… is it true?"

"Of course Shampoo never tell you! You think Shampoo try trick you into marrying her, like you do too, too often! You think, is just another Amazon trick, like always! You no think you can believe Shampoo or great-grandmother, they say anything to get you make marry!" Shampoo's sudden burst of anger made her lose her weak command of the Japanese language, and she reverted to Chinese, uttering a string of words that Ranma could only guess were not terribly complementary.

"And I can tell you that Ukyo would have a thing or two to say, too. But now it all comes back to you, boy," Freya addressed Ranma. "There's a time for decisions to be made, and I'm afraid that time is now. For you must choose what path your life shall now take, and with you, the life's path of these young women."

"I didn't ask for this! I don't want this! I never wanted this arranged marriage thing. If I choose Akane, Shampoo dies! I don't want that! If I choose Shampoo, then I've hurt Akane, and her whole family! And the same if I choose Ukyo, only I'd hurt Shampoo, too! Hell, I'm only sixteen! I shouldn't have to deal with this crap! What did I do to deserve it?" Ranma cried out.

"You didn't do anything, Ranma. It's not fate, it's not karma, it's just the way things happened. But if you keep stringing things along, the way you have been, you will only go on hurting these girls… and you have to ask yourself, do they deserve that?" Freya pointed out.

"Look… Akane, Shampoo… maybe… well… maybe it's like Freya says… that maybe we really do l- (gulp) love each other, but we just couldn't admit it. I dunno, maybe we'd have figured that out in our own time, maybe not… but y'know somethin'? I really can't see me going on without… well, either of you there with me… or Ukyo, too." Ranma turned to Freya. "When… when we were all together… I mean, when we thought we were… when you messed with our minds… we were happy, weren't we? Were we really happy, or did you just make us feel that way?"

"No, that was your own doing. I created the circumstances to bring you all together, and you did the rest. The happiness you felt then was real and genuine; it came from your hearts, not from my spells," the Goddess explained.

"Akane… Shampoo… Can you… do you think…?" Ranma found he couldn't continue.

"You mean, go on the way we've been doing? All of us together?" Akane finished for him.

"And see where it take us?" Shampoo added.

"Yeah… somethin' like that. I mean, I ain't good at this kinda stuff, but I can think of a lot worse ways of spending the rest of my life than with you… all of you. I mean, hey, coulda been Kuno making the wish, right? Then it might have been you and me, Akane, and him! And there's a thought to give me nightmares."

"Now, Ranma, Kuno's not that bad. Just a bit, well… mixed up," Freya defended. "Besides, I plan on straightening him out one of these days. And who know, perhaps in another dimension, that's exactly what happened."

"What?! You mean… me… Akane… and Kuno? Man, that's sick. " Ranma fought to keep his food down.

"What do you mean, other dimensions?" Kasumi asked.

"In the vast infinity of the multiverse, all possibilities exist. Some of them, I am aware of. For example, in one possibility, the incident you remember, about Shampoo saving Ukyo, happened. But sadly, not quite as the wish planted in your minds. Shampoo, instead of amazing the doctors with her miraculous healing, died."

Eyes went wide at that blunt declaration.

"But not all alternate realities are that grim, and after Shampoo died in that reality, things did indeed become quite bleak. There's another reality — quite the amusing one, actually — where due to a surprising number of coincidences, Ranma, you yourself became a goddess — and of sex, of all things!" And Freya laughed at the reaction of those assembled.

"Heh… yeah, that's a good one, all right… nice joke. Me, the Goddess of Sex? I ain't even done it!" Face-faults abounded at this. "I mean, that ain't really possible, right? I mean, no way…"

"Sorry, kiddo… All quite true. Won't happen in this dimension — at least, I don't think so — but in that one…" And Freya smirked again, joined this time by Urd.

"A virgin Goddess of Sex! I wonder who they found to train her?" Urd pondered, still giggling.

Freya turned to Urd, her smirk even wider. "Don't laugh, Urdie, cuz it was you! And quite responsible you proved to be, too."

Urd "eeped", although whether from the thought of being a tutor for a newly ascended goddess, or at the thought of being "responsible", it was hard to say.

"Well… like it ain't gonna happen here, right? But… just how did that happen, anyway?" Ranma asked.

Nabiki was getting a good laugh out of the thought of Ranma and sex together, a combination that just didn't seem to add up, so she missed Freya's rather pointed glance in her direction. Ranma, however, due to experience, caught its meaning instantly.

"Nabiki! You're always doing things like that to me!" the boy complained.

"Huh? What did I do?" was Nabiki's intelligent response.

"Fun is fun," Kasumi pointed out, "But we must consider one thing. Let's not forget that what Ranma is suggesting could very well lead to something that is illegal in Japan. I don't think multiple marriages are recognized in this country."

At the word "marriage", Ranma began to stutter, Akane went pale, and Shampoo just glowed happily.

"Still," Kasumi mused further, "It is sometimes better to break laws than it is to break hearts"

Freya nodded. "Say, that's good, Kasumi. You don't mind if I use it sometime, do you? Couldn't have said it better myself. Are you sure you're not a goddess?"

Such a strange question, Kasumi thought. She paused to ponder it, blinking a little, then replied, "I don't think I am."

Then she thought of something else she felt necessary to point out. "Poor Ukyo… She doesn't know about any of this. It's going to be a terrible shock to her."

"What do you mean? She's going to be part of this arrangement. We'll tell her as soon as she gets back from her business trip. And what lousy timing for it, too; wish she could have been here," Ranma said.

"I think you'd better let me handle Ukyo," Freya suggested with a guilty start the others missed. "My powers touched her just as Shampoo's Wish did, and after all, if someone just up and told you that a goddess was messing around with your love-life, would you believe them? Best to leave the matter to me; I can provide that proof. And I might have other means to convince her to accept your decision, but you'll all have to make it quite clear to her that you do indeed want her included."

Shampoo had been thinking about something during the conversation, and it looked as if she had come to a decision. "Freya… Shampoo think it good idea to… to know just what did happen in that elt… art… other reality… one where Shampoo die."

The goddess looked somewhat disturbed, and her distress caused her strange accent to become more pronounced. "Darlin', are you sure you want to know that? I kin show you, sho' nuff, honey, but it's not a very nice thing to see."

"I think Shampoo's right, especially if we want to keep something like that from happening here," Akane said, earning an expression of thanks from the Amazon.

"All right. Shampoo… Akane… and you too, Ranma… I want you to clasp your hands together, and I'll take them between mine. Then… Well, you'll see what you shall see." The trio did as they were instructed, and Freya placed her own hands over theirs. For their benefit, she chanted in Japanese, "To these whose hands and will are joined, reveal to them what they would see!" And indeed they saw. They saw what had been in their minds and their memories all along, ever since Freya first arrived. But now it took on a fresh immediacy, and things they didn't "remember" revealed themselves. There was Ukyo, at the top of the construction site, in deep, hopeless depression. There was Shampoo, with her, talking, persuading, watching… Ranma and Akane, who had been walking by the site when they happened to look up… Ukyo made a slight move toward the open edge of the incomplete building… Shampoo moved forward and pulled the chef back, but lost her own footing, and fell silently, only to strike the ground with a horrid crunching thud. They saw the heart go out of Nerima, and out of their lives, with Shampoo's passing. They all saw Ukyo, overwhelmed with guilt, leave for Joketsuzoku to offer herself in place of Shampoo, who died on her behalf. A broken-hearted Ranma left both Nerima and martial arts soon after.

Nabiki and Kasumi saw the trio's expression of shock and horror as they came out of whatever vision Freya had shown them. "Was it really that bad?" Kasumi asked.

"Worse," Akane said, tears streaming.

"Well, I for one ain't gonna let that happen. I can do that, can't I?" Ranma asked Freya. "Keep something like that from happening?"

Freya nodded. "You've already made a first step on that, boy."

"Then… Shampoo, Akane… and Ukyo, wherever you are… I promise I ain't gonna let that happen here. I dunno what sorta future we got, but I ain't gonna let that be it," Ranma swore.

Akane laid a hand on top of Ranma's to his surprise. "I'm as much in this as you. I promise to look out for you, for Shampoo, and for Ukyo."

"Shampoo know only that she love Ranma now and always. If that mean sharing with Vio… with Akane, so be it," the Amazon declared, adding her hand to those of Ranma and Akane.

Akane rolled her eyes and muttered, "Gee, Shampoo. Thanks ever so for being so generous." But she just couldn't work up the outrage and anger as she had in the past. It just wasn't in her anymore, especially not after the tragedies she had seen, that could have been hers to truly experience.

To their surprise, Nabiki added her hand, as well. "Now, this is what I've been waiting for all along, you guys. It's about time you started making sense. I don't know what you saw, and I suspect I don't really want to know, but you can count me in this, too. Hey, don't look so shocked, you know I've got a weak spot when it comes to family."

"Family. We are all family," Kasumi affirmed as she added her hand.

Kodachi was listening and watching to all this with growing concern and impatience. At last she could take being ignored no longer and slammed her hand on the table to get everyone's attention. "Tell me, Freya-sama, where is room for Kodachi in this cozy little arrangement? I have heard Akane and Ranma, Shampoo and Ranma, Ukyo and Ranma, Akane and Shampoo, Ukyo and Shampoo, and so on and so forth, but not once have I heard the illustrious name of Kodachi Kuno mentioned. Where am I in this relationship?"

Freya shook her head. "You are not in this relationship at all. Ranma is not for you. Perhaps in another reality, you and Ranma would be very happy together." Then Freya noticed a shivering from the boy. "Ranma? Why are you shuddering like that? Anyway, feel no sorrow, for even greater joy and happiness shall be yours, Kuno Kodachi, from a source unexpected and unlooked for, yet very near — for the course of true love never has run smooth." And as Freya spoke, she looked increasingly… otherworldly… even to the point of being surrounded by a lambent glow, and her snowy wings became again visible. If there was any doubt of her divinity before, it was now quite erased.

Kodachi was amazed at this divine pronouncement regarding her future romance, but she couldn't help but wonder who it might be. A source unexpected yet near… and the gymnast suddenly started an inventory of all those she knew, trying to figure out just who would be captivated by her charms.

Nabiki, however, picked up on something else Freya said about Kodachi's future. "And just why is it that the course of true love doesn't run smooth, O Great Goddess of Love?" she sarcastically asked. Kasumi's shushing gestures were ignored.

"Why?" Freya's grin was almost manic. "Cuz it's more fun that way!"


To be continued.

Author's notes: And that concludes this, the seventh chapter in the saga of "Aiyah! My Goddess?" What does fate have in store for Shampoo, Ranma, Akane, and Ukyo, now that at least three of them have decided to accept things and see where it takes them. And what of Ukyo? Where is she, and what adventures await her in her misguided quest to Jusenkyo? How will she get there and who shall she meet on the way?

And, oh dear, what of Mousse and his "guests" from the last chapter? Will they be neglected as just an excuse for a bit of lemon, or will they be making another appearance? Such questions shall be answered — maybe — in the next chapter of "Aiyah! My Goddess?"

Chapter 8
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