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Ranmya

Chapter Text

China has always been known for its secret, mystical locales, spoken of mostly in whispered legends. Even during the Communist regime of the late 1980s, these legends persisted. Legends about places hidden in the mountain ranges, such as Bayan Har, or Bayankala as it was known at the time. These mountains were where one could find, as the locals could inform you, the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyō, or the Springs of Sorrow as some called them. To actually find the Cursed Springs was another matter altogether. Today, one could use online map services with high-altitude photographs to easily locate several small villages tucked away around the Springs. But this story is set in the 1980s, and such things were much more difficult back then.

The Saotome family, on what could be termed a “train-cation”, had managed to find the Cursed Springs and had a tent set up a safe distance from the many pools of ostensibly-cursed spring water. It was a particularly nice and sunny day, so the father of the family sat comfortably outside, just in front of the tent. This was, no surprise there, Genma Saotome. One might expect to find him meditating, clad in his old white gi, but instead he wore a ridiculous Hawaiian tourist shirt and khaki shorts as he happily tended to a breakfast stew. From a small hut a further bit away from the springs, the guide he had hired walked up to camp, attracted by the smell of good food.

“Oh honored customer, you make good camp food. Brings tears to eyes, yes?” the guide commented. Genma merely smiled and growled appreciatively, focusing on breakfast. With his wife and child the way they were, mere growls had grown to usually be enough for the simpler statements, and with the guide it made for a nice way to avoid translation issues.

When Genma was done with the stew, he turned towards the tent and called out, “Nodoka dear, Ranma, breakfast is ready!”

Nodoka was the first to appear from the tent, clad in a practical outfit — capris and a nice tunic-like shirt — and took her seat next to her husband. After a few minutes, Ranma followed, her red hair glistening in the sun and her well-developed breast almost jumping from the unbuttoned Chinese shirt she had bought just the second day after she arrived in China. Luckily for the guide’s sensibilities, she was wearing another shirt underneath, even if it was just a plain black T-shirt.

“What'd you make, Pops? More from your studies under the old pervert?” the grinning girl asked. Despite her mother’s best effort to raise a fine young lady, Ranma had grown to be something of a little brat, another biting jab always ready near the surface, and only kept in check when it regarded her mother.

“Now Ranma, old master Happōsai may have been a bad man, but you have to admit that your father learned a lot of good skills under him,” Nodoka scolded, internally thankful that was all her daughter had said. Genma growled once more in agreement. Sometimes he really looked like a big fat teddy bear or something, and the shirt wasn't helping.

As Ranma brought the guide a bowl of food, she gazed at the nearby springs and felt she had to ask.

“These springs look kinda good, but is there a purpose to ‘em? I mean, these are the sacred training grounds, right?”

The guide was all too happy to do his job and talk, even if his Japanese was questionable at best. “Oh yes, dear customer. Visitors use to stand on bamboo poles and try fight without falling into spring below,” the guide happily explained, even making some vague kung-fu gestures, as far as his portly frame allowed him to. Unfortunately, before he could continue his story, the redhead had run back to camp.

“Pops, guess what? These bamboo poles and stuff make great training,” Ranma explained to her father in a rush. It was true — the Saotome School of Indiscriminate Grappling specialized in mid-air combat, which meshed perfectly well with what little the guide had been able to tell Ranma.

“I suppose it couldn't hurt to do some more training, girl,” Genma verbally agreed. With that, he sauntered back into the tent and returned wearing his gi, a slightly ratty old number with his school's insignia on it.

“This is gonna be great, I just know it,” Ranma said to herself as she took her turn to change. Her gi was in better shape and had a similar but subtly different insignia on it — whereas her dad's gi carried the insignia of his Master Happōsai as a sign of lingering respect for the old demon, Ranma's gi specifically stated the Saotome School. Within moments, father and daughter were each standing on a bamboo pole suspended in the pools, as Nodoka sat at a close distance somewhere between the camp and the pools, and the guide was trying to verbalize his protests. He hadn't gotten a chance to continue his story and his Japanese was lacking. But then again, his customers were even worse in Chinese. Before he finally worked out what to say, the two martial artists had jumped at each other, exchanged some kicks and blows and landed on the opposite poles.

“Oh sir and lady, you must be careful not to fall in springs,” the guide exclaimed as the fighters wobbled a bit in regaining their footing. “Is very bad result!”

“Why? It's that cold?” Ranma joked as she turned her head towards the guide. Genma saw his opening — he had been training his daughter from the day she was able to form her first coherent sentence, which was a training request. He had found the girl talented and feared the day she'd become stronger than her father. Still, he wasn't so stupid as to use his old master's own training methods on the girl. Instead of having her run away from a crime scene, she'd just run. Once or twice, he had angered some local wildlife to provide extra motivation, but Nodoka didn't quite approve of such tactics. Still the girl was very skilled at the Arts, and he had lost a fair amount of fights recently. This was exactly the chance he was waiting for, and he paid the guide no mind.

As Ranma turned back to face her father, his foot was already too close to her face. She fell down from her bamboo pole. The guide looked shocked and turned ever paler with every centimeter the girl came closer to the spring's surface. Unlike her father, Ranma did consider the guide's warning something to heed. Grabbing the pole with her feet, she pulled herself towards it and swung around to try and land on the ground.

She misjudged and launched herself towards a different spring. Lacking the height to correct her course with another pole, all she could do was curl up and endure. On some level she could tell that the process took less than a second or two at most, but it felt like so much longer as her body compressed, mass shifting, legs awkwardly bending in ways a human’s legs should not...

“Oh, is so very bad, honored customers! Poor girl fall into māonìquán,” the guide rattled as he and Nodoka ran over to the spring in question.

“Into the what now?” Nodoka asked, worried about the bubbles on the surface. She couldn't quite make out her daughter's shape below the surface, and when her clothes surfaced, she nearly fainted. Genma jumped from pole to pole, over to the disaster area and down to catch his wife before she fell into another spring right behind her.

“Good catch, honored customer. If woman fall in that spring, honored customer would have two daughters,” the guide joked, trying to mask his nervousness as to Ranma's fate. Shortly after, a very wet cat, pinkish white with red accents, clambered out of the spring as the guide started to explain. “Māonìquán has very tragic story of cat what drown here eighteen-hundred years ago. Now whoever fall in this spring become cat. Very tragic.”

“You weren't kidding then, when you joked about this other spring?” Genma asked as he picked up his transformed and visibly shaken daughter, shivering in his arms. The guide merely nodded in reply.

“Not to worry, honored sir. Curse can be reverted with hot water, but cold water turn daughter back to cat,” the guide offered. Genma growled again, though this time, it was distinctly uncertain what the growl meant.

Unnoticed, clouds started to gather overhead as the party walked back to camp, Genma still carrying his feline daughter in his arms, mewling helplessly. Ranma didn't like this new form one bit — it was cute, but very weak. When they had arrived, Genma handed Ranma over to Nodoka, and used the campfire and the guide's assistance to heat some water. Nodoka gestured for the two men to turn around as she set the cat down in front of her and carefully poured the hot water.

Ranma was glad to be back to normal and happily accepted the shirt Nodoka held out, the same shirt she had been wearing when she got up. Ranma liked fairly loose fits, so she had bought the shirt a size or so too large. As she buttoned it up, it was large enough for her to cover the important bits just fine, so there wasn't quite as much of a hurry for pants. But before she could take and put on the pants, she overheard Genma and the guide discussing her fate.

“Is there a way to fix this permanently?” Genma demanded. “If I wanted a pet, I'd just go and get one. I never wanted one that's part-time and actually my daughter.”

“Honored customer, I understand,” the guide tried to placate the burly martial artist. “There may be way.”

“Well, speak up. What is it?”

“If daughter is lucky, niángnìquán may revert curse. But honestly, I not too certain. Is this spring right here.” The guide figured pointing would be too ambiguous, so he kicked a small pebble into the correct spring.

Forgetting all about pants, Ranma dashed across to the springs. The clouds had been gathering, and halfway to the spring, tell-tale ripples from the pebble identifying it, the first raindrops started to fall. Just as Ranma jumped towards the spring, she started to transform again. Before she had shrunk enough to fall out of her shirt, she was submerged in the magic spring water that she hoped would cure her…

When Ranma resurfaced, she was at her regular size, the first hint being that she was still in her shirt. Unfortunately, a rather bad error in judgment made itself clear when Ranma shook her head to clear off some of the water.

As he watched the result of these circumstances clamber onto the edge of the spring, the guide adjusted his cap and considered his next report to the village elders.

Well, I guess they always wanted to know what happens when you mix two curses...

Chapter Text

Sōun Tendō, despite not having taught a student in years, still exuded the unmistakable air of a martial arts master.

But not this day.

The tall, dark man with the mustache trembled as he held the postcard in his hands. He nearly tore it up in his excitement. “They’re finally coming back,” he chortled to himself and looked at the small photograph on the table. It showed a much younger Genma and Nodoka, the latter holding up her red-haired baby daughter. Collecting his resolve, he put up a professional front, stood up, and walked away.

Kasumi was tending to the kitchen when her father stuck his head in and called for her to come to the living room he had just vacated. She just hummed an okay and finished what she was doing, took off her apron and made her way to the living room as she was told to do.

Nabiki was reading a magazine in her room when her father repeated his call. Mumbling an okay through her snack, she got up, adjusted her clothes and was just about to go down to the living room when her father called her back.

“Do you know where your little sister is, Nabiki?” he asked. Nabiki stood in thought for a bit and looked back at the wall clock in her room.

“At this hour, she's probably still on her morning run. She should be back in time for whatever you have planned, Daddy,” the middle sister replied as she slipped past her father.

But a few minutes later, all three Tendō sisters were sitting at one side of the table in the obvious order, with their father Sōun opposite from them.

“So what's this about, then?” Akane asked, still a little flushed from her morning run and wearing only some shorts, a shirt, and a towel; a sharp contrast with her sisters. In response, her father slid the old photograph across the table.

“This is my old friend and training partner Genma Saotome, his wife Nodoka, and their child Ranma,” the Tendō patriarch pointed out. “I haven't seen them in person for several years now. The last time I did, Kasumi was still an infant.”

“That must've been quite a while then,” Nabiki teased. Kasumi poked her in the shoulder in reply, whispering to Nabiki that she was only two years older.

“Alright, so what about 'em?” Akane restated. She was still not so certain where her father was going with this.

“They've just finished their training vacation in China, and will be visiting us for a short while, for old time’s sake and to reunite a little” Sōun finally explained. “I can't help but wonder how their child grew up.”

As if on cue, the doorbell chimed. Immediately, the whole Tendō family got up and ran towards the front door; Sōun and Nabiki actually running, Kasumi running in a distinguished fashion and Akane not really running at all — she had done plenty of that already.

Walking up to the procession from the entrance was what basically amounted to an ugly guy and his hot daughter, his wife trailing a short distance behind. The girl was wearing a fluffy cap with cat ears that didn't mesh all that well with the rest of her very Chinese-looking outfit, her hands hidden behind her back.

The stout man — for it would be a grave error in judgment to consider Genma Saotome “fat” — just growled and smiled.

“Ah, Saotome, you're back,” Sōun happily exclaimed as he bumped his fist against Genma's, harder than most fist-bumps had any right to be. He then turned to the girl standing next to his old friend. “And that makes you…”

“I'm Ranma Saotome, sorry 'bout this,” the girl apologized for nothing Sōun was aware of.

“Sorry 'bout what, girl?” the Tendō patriarch asked.

“Sorry about having to impose on your hospitality longer than we intended to,” Nodoka spoke up from behind her husband, putting away a halfway-fancy umbrella. “It seems that in our absence there was a fire and our house took the worst of it. We found out when we arrived to drop off our camping supplies.”

“We'd have come earlier if we hadn’t had to go through a bunch of paperwork and ‘salvaging’,” Genma took over, while making air quotes at the appropriate moment. “But now we're technically homeless, so until that's resolved we hoped to crash here. Surely you'd accommodate your old drinking buddy and his pretty daughter?”

On cue, Ranma put up the cute face that had helped halve the costs of the boat trip back to Japan. It looked sweet enough to make Sōun feel like brushing his teeth.

“Of course, of course, make yourselves at home. The Tendō compound is large enough to fit the seven of us, I'm certain,” Sōun said between laughs as he held one hand behind his head. “Now, I don't think you've met my pretty daughters yet, have you?” he rhetorically inquired as he adjusted the brown gi he habitually wore, a well-deserved look of pride evident on his face.

“Only Kasumi, when she was just this big,” Genma jokingly replied, holding out his hands with an approximately toddler-sized distance between them. Kasumi, expectedly, just barely suppressed a giggle, hand at her mouth.

“Well now, come in, come in,” Sōun insisted.

When the entire party was gathered in the living room, backpacks collected in a corner, Sōun began introductions.

“This is my old friend,” Sōun said as he indicated the burly man sitting across the table.

“Genma Saotome. Pleasure to be here.”

The Tendō sisters each remembered the old photograph. Genma had lost his hair since then, they realized, and his gi was adequately aged, but other than that he didn't look very different.

“This is my wife,” Genma passed along, indicating the elegant lady seated next to him.“Nodoka Saotome,” she introduced herself with a bow towards Sōun Tendō, revealing the Saotome Honor Blade strapped to her back. It was a very effective tool to keep her husband in line, who was still struggling, sometimes, with his past.

“And I already introduced myself earlier,” Ranma spoke before her mother could indicate her, “so yeah.”

“It’s so good to see you again, old friend,” Sōun gushed. “Allow me to introduce my lovely daughters. Here’s Kasumi,” he indicated, the eldest sister giving a polite head nod, “Nabiki,” who flashed a dangerous smirk, “and my youngest daughter Akane,” who seemed to be silently judging the newcomers.

“Now, before we continue there is something you should be aware of that happened back in China,” Genma announced. At his friend's expression, he wondered out loud how to best describe the problem, then walked over to Ranma, tore off her cap, grabbed her by the shirt and deftly threw the surprised girl into the Tendō garden koi pond.

“What'd you do that for, ya big jerk?” the indignant redhead exclaimed, her cursed features readily obvious as she clambered back into the room, dripping pond water all over.

“Wait, what? Cat ears?” Akane said when she saw the relevant organs stick out from Ranma's hair. They were the same red color as her hair but still visually stuck out, her regular human ears gone. She also noticed with just a little fear that the girl's nails had grown sharp.

Nabiki was more intrigued by the tail that stuck out from the cursed girl's perky bottom. It was all wet and funky-looking at the time, but Nabiki imagined it'd be a very pretty, smooth tail, considering the girl's hair and ears.

Kasumi had always liked cats, among other domestic animals, and didn't seem to mind the idea that much. She did, however, mind that Ranma dried herself up in an animal way and got pond water everywhere.

“So yeah, we had an… ah, ‘little accident’ during her training when we had stopped at this old, sacred training ground,” Genma started to explain. Initially, Nabiki tried to listen, but found all of her attention drawn to the buxom, red-haired catgirl, intricately cleaning herself in the obvious, feline way. A single glance and a quick smirk confirmed that Ranma knew she was being watched.

“And it turns out that when you apply another curse while the first is activating, you can get strange results sometimes. The guide said it might’ve been the timing… I think,” Genma recounted, “or maybe they just always do that. It was pretty hard to make out what he said half the time.”

When Ranma tried to get a reaction out of Nabiki by cleaning her foot, she got rapped on the head by Nodoka. “What did I tell you about licking your feet, young lady? If you want to clean those, do it the regular way. You don't know where they've been!”

“Ow, okay okay mom!” Ranma conceded. Putting her legs back underneath her where they belonged in a seiza position, she turned to the three girls at the opposite side of the table. “So I take it from the way you’re dressed that Akane is the only one of you who practices?”

“That’s true,” Nabiki confirmed. “We all know some basics, but I haven’t done any martial arts practice since our mother died, and Kasumi’s been too busy basically being our mother,” she elaborated as Kasumi nodded.

“Though I like to do some basic kata to relax,” Kasumi amended.

Right then, Akane stood up. “So, Ranma! Would you like a friendly spar?”

“Oh would I ever,” the catgirl eagerly replied. “Lead the way.”

As Akane obligingly led Ranma to the dojo, all but Kasumi and Nodoka quickly followed to spectate.

It was, expectedly, not much of a fight. Akane couldn’t lay a finger on the graceful catgirl, who smoothly dodged every attempt with her hands behind her back, never retaliating. Slowly, she drove her opponent nearer to the wall, when Ranma suddenly jumped clear over Akane’s head, twisted around in the air, and landed behind her. Genma nodded in appreciation as his daughter lightly tapped her opponent on the shoulder.

“Gotcha.”

“Certainly impressive, my girl,” Sōun congratulated as he clasped Ranma’s shoulder. “I shudder to imagine one of your gracefulness fighting offensively.”

Ranma’s smile was the only warning Sōun got when in one smooth motion the girl ducked and spun around the larger man, swiping his legs out from beneath him. Within seconds, Sōun Tendō was on his back, pinned by the petite girl sitting on his chest.

“Like this, Mr. Tendō?”

Mr. Tendō had nothing to say in reply, still processing how he’d ended up like that.

Chapter Text

That night, Genma was sleeping in the compound's dojo, while his wife and daughter slept in the guest room, upstairs. He was fine with the idea of not sleeping in the same room as his wife — usually, when they were abroad, he didn't even sleep in a room at all, but outside, initially just because he liked it that way, while his wife had the tent to herself, and later shared it with Ranma. Nodoka didn't approve of Genma sharing a single tent with her and her daughter, and they only had the one tent anyway, just as there was just one guest room.

For a while, Genma imagined what it'd be like if they hadn't lost their house — he'd finally be able to lie besides his wife at night, like a husband should. Even if he were confined to the dojo, at least he'd sleep with happy thoughts…

Ranma hadn't been changed back to her human form after she had been thrown into the pond that day and fought Akane. When Mr. Tendō appeared with a kettle full of boiling water, survival instincts pushed her not to agree to a demonstration — “it needn't be that hot,” she’d argued.

She was curled up on her futon, with her mother sleeping right beside her, and she had some trouble getting to sleep. She couldn't get the image of the Nabiki girl's intrigued stare out of her mind.

I might as well go see what she's like up close, the curious kitty thought to herself as she silently got up and stretched. Walking on her toes, she snuck out of the guest room without waking up her mother, and made her way to Nabiki Tendō's room, only to find the girl's bedroom door locked.

For a few tense moments, Ranma considered the moral implications of picking the lock. On one hand, it was breaking and entering. On the other, she really wanted to get to Nabiki, had no intention of taking any of her stuff and could pick the lock without damaging it if she was careful. Deciding the former was grossly outmatched she extended her index finger and stuck a nail into the keyhole.

The faint scratching sound wasn't enough to wake Nabiki up, but Ranma didn't take any chances with the possibly creaky door either. Every single degree the door was swiveled further open made her heart beat faster. Fortunately for her heart rate, she didn't need to open the door very much to slip through, and she soon found herself looking at her prize, her eyes brightly reflecting the moonlight shining in through the window.

Nabiki was as pretty from up close as Ranma had expected. She had to be careful not to breathe when she was this close to Nabiki's face, but still she took her time to carefully study every little bit of it.

From a young age, Ranma had felt a little different from the other girls at school. When they'd talk about the latest fashion, Ranma was an active participant, if not slightly less than the others. But when the topic of boys came up, all she could do was basically nod in vague approval. On the other hand, when the girls discussed themselves, she was again actively joining the conversation. This had puzzled her for a few years, until one of the girls had brought a magazine with her that she had nicked from her older brother. Ranma had, in turn, borrowed it and started to understand her situation. The next time Valentine's Day had come around once more, she finally knew who she'd give chocolate — the girls in her class, with an extra helping for the girl who had brought in that magazine.

Genma was not the only one sleeping with happy thoughts, as his catgirl daughter had curled up and fallen asleep on top of Nabiki's lower legs, images of chocolate and Nabiki dancing through her head.

The next morning, Nabiki, obviously, found she couldn't move her legs. When she noticed the reason why, she just barely suppressed a scream before she considered that the red-haired catgirl curled up on her bed didn't seem to have done anything “bad,” could've come in at any time, and reasoned that she must've not locked her door that night.

“Ranma?” she whispered, trying to wake up her visitor without startling her. Ranma softly purred and turned her ears towards Nabiki. For a moment, Nabiki just looked at her visitor, still a little sleepy. Ranma wasn't wearing much; just a shirt and some boyshorts. Nabiki couldn't imagine why specifically boyshorts, but was in no state to care enough about it. She herself was only wearing panties and a tank top, but at least she had the bed sheets, too.

It's not time to get up yet, and she seems harmless enough, the middle daughter reckoned. With a soft “here kitty kitty,” she carefully woke up the girl at her feet and invited her to lie besides her. Ranma was all too happy to oblige, of course.

When Kasumi came along to wake up her sisters, she was greeted by the sight of Nabiki, who she had never seen doing anything genuinely romantic, spooning with Ranma, who she had never seen at all, her arms gently wrapped around the other girl's waist and nothing but her bed sheets between them.

Oh my, she softly giggled to herself. It seems like Nabiki found her calling. I wonder what Father would think.

Still, it was time to get up. Seeing Nabiki's camera within reach, Kasumi quickly decided not to wake her up the regular way, and took a photo of the two girls pretending to be silverware, with the flash on.

“Kasumi,” Nabiki exclaimed, “what are you doing with my camera!?”

“You two looked so cute like that; I wanted a picture of it. How much was it again?” Kasumi countered with a disarming smile as she put the camera back where she had taken it from.

Later, in the bathroom, Ranma still hadn't changed back, but saved that for the bath she planned to have later. She was just brushing her teeth when someone knocked on the bathroom door.

“It's me, Nabiki. Is it safe to come in?” a familiar voice said from the other side. Ranma stopped for a moment to consider that question and spit out all the toothpaste foam. She was topless, with just a towel slung around her neck and hanging down the front to protect her modesty, but this was her prey asking.

“Safe enough, I guess,” she called back with a naughty twinkle in her eye.

When Nabiki came in, Ranma was sitting on the floor, brushing her hair. Nabiki stared at the luxuriant red mass for a few seconds, and then tried to focus on her own appearance for a bit. When she had splashed some water in her face to fully wake up, something came to mind.

“Ranma?”

“Yeah, Biki-chan?”

“Your tail… is it naturally this nice or do you use a conditioner?”

“That’s actually a pretty good question. Since it disappears entirely when I use hot water, it is naturally this nice when it comes back. I do use conditioner on my hair though, and there were some times after getting cursed that I didn’t have time to take care of myself as well, so my working theory is that my tail mirrors the state of my hair.”

“It's a nice tail regardless,” Nabiki said as she found herself somewhat mesmerized by the soft appendage and started stroking it. Ranma shivered. “Why the boyshorts, though? I would’ve expected a nice girl like you to—”

“Nabiki, please,” Ranma interrupted in protest, suppressing a soft moan. “Don't stroke it like that.”

“Oh, what's wrong with the way I stroke it?” Nabiki teased. “You seem to like it enough… am I right?”

Ranma softly nodded as Nabiki continued to lovingly stroke her tail. Could it be? Could she be like that too?

She stopped trying to suppress it and moaned in approval of Nabiki's continued administrations…

…when Kasumi called out that breakfast was almost done. The two girls scrambled out of the bathroom, passing a slightly confused Akane on the way. Akane couldn't help but notice that Nabiki was looking more gleeful than usual and Ranma was walking a little funny — and not just because she walked on her toes. Within seconds, the youngest sister was absolutely certain that there had been perverted business going on between them. It really rubbed her the wrong way (as would that turn of phrase if her inner monologue wasn’t in Japanese) to know that the cute girl she’d tried to befriend was, at least to her sensibilities, a sexual defiant ruining her big sister.

“Hey, at least put a shirt on before you go eat, ya perv!” Akane shouted after the half-naked catgirl. At that moment, Nabiki noticed Ranma's endowments, quite ample for her size, were bouncing around quite a lot, the towel incapable of staying in place. She had to fight back a bit of jealousy over the four centimeters difference, but couldn't deny that Ranma was a fine piece of work.

Chapter Text

At the breakfast table, Nabiki noticed two things about Ranma as she sat next to her. For one, she wasn't wearing a bra. If Nabiki remembered correctly, she wasn't wearing one yesterday either. For two, she ate like a vacuum cleaner. Before she could ask why, Ranma set down her bowl to get a drink, and Genma promptly tried to snatch a pickle from his daughter. Ranma slapped his hand before he could retract it, leaving four parallel scratches on his palm, and continued sucking in her food.

Nabiki was so busy studying what she hoped would become her girlfriend that she didn't realize what was happening behind her: Ranma had worked her tail underneath Nabiki's shirt and was stroking it up and down her back. Finally, she leaned over and carefully whispered.

“This feels nice, but why are you doing it?”

“Cos you owe me one, Biki-chan. You gotta finish what you started,” Ranma whispered right back.

“What are you and the little pervert talking about, Sis?” Akane asked with a little annoyance.

“About how we're glad this is the weekend,” Nabiki answered in half a lie. It wasn't what they were talking about, but she was indeed glad it was only Sunday.

Akane could stand it no longer. She took her cup of tea and splashed it into Ranma's face. Nabiki's bra strap loudly snapped back now that there was no tail pulling on it. To Nabiki’s mild interest, Ranma seemed to be a little ashamed, though she couldn’t tell if it was because of what she’d done, or because she was caught.

“Oh my,” Kasumi said when she realized what caused that noise.

“Budding friendships aside,” Genma coughed, “you do realize you'll be going to school again, starting tomorrow?”

At the mention of school, Nodoka remembered what happened when Ranma had been wearing a skirt shortly after getting cursed. “Now that you mention it, dear, do you remember what happened when Ranma-chan transformed while wearing a skirt?” she asked somewhat rhetorically.

“Ah, that's right. She won't be able to wear the girl's school uniform without flashing her shorts to every other kid in class. You wouldn't even need the old master anymore.”

At that notion, Ranma blushed. So did Nabiki, and Sōun noticed.

“What's wrong, Nabiki?” he asked like he felt a good father should.

Should I tell him, she wondered. Should I tell him I fell in love with another girl?

The thought alone made her blush even more. Ranma was at least a good fifteen centimeters smaller, especially when she wasn't standing on her toes like she did in cat form, and a full year younger, but at the same time she was much better built. Something told Nabiki that pictures of Ranma would sell better in school than those of her little sister, but for once she didn't feel like betraying someone's trust. She'd just ask her when they were alone later that day.

“Nothing, daddy…” Nabiki said, and quickly mumbled “except if she was a guy you wouldn't have to worry about unifying the schools anymore” right after.

“…Oh dear.”

While Ranma had another sparring session with Akane later that day, Nabiki was watching from the sidelines. When Ranma had thoroughly beaten the youngest sister, Nabiki tried to tap Ranma's shoulder and just barely dodged a reflexive backhand.

“Woah there tiger, it's just me,” Nabiki blurted out as she recovered from the surprise. “Can we talk, in my room?”

“Sure, Biki-chan, what's up?”

“There are a few things, actually. You just freshen up, I'll be there,” Nabiki replied and playfully patted the smaller girl on the head.

Akane glared at the redheaded intruder. “You'd better not be thinking about doing anything perverted to my sis, Ranma.”

Ranma considered the accusation for all of two seconds. Doing anything “perverted” at all didn’t feel right to her, at least in her current form. She was quite aware how her catgirl form wasn’t nearly as shy. Well, she asked for it. If she wants to paint me as the pervert, I might as well have a bit of fun with it.

“What, you jealous? It's not my fault your sister's hotter 'n you are,” Ranma taunted as she bounded out of the dojo.

“Ranma, you little bitch!” Akane cried out after her. Ranma could be a good friend, and certainly was a great fighter, but the way she interacted with Nabiki just rubbed Akane the wrong way.

When Ranma had finished freshening up and changed into a fresh set of clothes, she walked over to Nabiki's room and carefully knocked on the door.

“It's me. Can I come in?” Ranma said carefully.

“You didn't seem to care about that last night but yeah, you can,” Nabiki answered from the other side.

Oh yeah, that’s right. Picking her lock and all that...

“So, what's up Biki-chan?” Ranma asked as she came in and closed the door behind her.

“Well, Ranma, it seems you're messing up my business.”

At Ranma's look of surprise and confusion, Nabiki explained. “I have some financial plans running, and ever since you came here I've found it somewhat… difficult to focus on them and that rightly makes me afraid I'll run a loss of profit.”

“Oh, sorry 'bout that, then,” Ranma meekly offered.

“That's quite alright, really. Y'see, I've a feeling any losses you'd incur by distracting me like that could be… compensated for,” Nabiki stated, a tinge of bad intent in her voice.

“Do I wanna know how? I'm not so sure I do,” Ranma protested.

“Ranma honey, there's a school full of horndogs out there and I'll bet they'd pay good money for some sexy photos of you,” Nabiki said as she stood up. “Any losses from you invading my mind like that would be more than covered by what we could do with my camera and your body.”

“I dunno, Nabiki. You do know by now how I feel about boys?”

“Yes, Ranma, I do. I feel mostly the same way, really. To me, they're a great source of income and I do so love to play with their emotions every now and then…” Nabiki said as she came closer to the slightly nervous redhead.

“And to be totally honest, I'd rather not share you with them at all, even if it's just sexy photos,” she whispered into Ranma's ear.

“So, you want me to finish the job from this morning?” Nabiki teasingly asked as she held up a glass of water she had brought along earlier. Ranma nodded and squirmed in anticipation.

Nabiki sat on her bed with Ranma lying on her legs. She carefully started to stroke the catgirl's tail and listened carefully for any reaction. Within a few moments, Ranma was softly moaning in pleasure and pawed at Nabiki's bed sheets. “Nabiki,” she moaned, “this feels good…”

“Should I go on?” Nabiki teasingly asked.

“I'll even pose in lingerie if you want, just don't stop,” Ranma purred in reply.

“This is almost like masturbation to you, isn't it?” Nabiki asked as she happily complied.

“I wouldn't know. Mom and Pops never let me.”

Nabiki momentarily paused in shock. “Are you kidding? You never tried… touching yourself down there?”

“Nope. Pops said it'd distract from my training. I suppose at some point I actually started to believe that — hadn't even considered trying it.”

“Girlfriend, you don't know what you're missing,” Nabiki said with a smirk and continued stroking Ranma's tail.

“I suppose I don't, yeah… why?”

Nabiki pulled Ranma up into a seated position, facing her. “How do you feel about boys?” she asked bluntly. Ranma had to pause and think.

“Frankly? Not much at all. There was this one guy who I always had to walk to his school, cos he had problems… It didn't take very long for the other kids to think we were together like that, and I guess he thought so himself, but I didn't. I just made sure he got there,” Ranma reminisced.

“That's it?”

“That's it. One day, the girls in my class were talking about boys and I was just sitting idly by, all 'boys, whatever', and then this one girl, Asuka, brought a magazine she'd nicked from her older brother. We passed it around, and when I got my turn to read it, I was like 'woah, that's a thing?'”

“I think I can guess what kind of magazine that was.”

Ranma chuckled. “Yeah, I'll bet. It really explained what my problem was with Ryōga back then. And I finally knew who to give valentine's chocolates to,” Ranma finished with a big grin.

Akane was just walking past on the way to her own room when she heard something she hadn't heard in a very long time.

Her middle sister, Nabiki Tendō, giggling.

“Seriously though,” Nabiki said between giggles, “you should try it. I think you'd like it.”

Akane sighed. “Oh for the love of…”

“Y’know, Ranma, there’s one thing I noticed,” Nabiki started as she carefully took Ranma’s tail in hand once more.

“What’s that?”

“Is it me or are you not as forward when you’re not a cat?”

“I dunno, what you do mean?”

“Teasing my little sister aside, you seem much more like a properly-raised young girl. Really, props to your mother. But when you’re like this, you do things like playing with my bra strap with your tail and such…”

Ranma’s eyes widened in dawning understanding.

“And then there’s the way you look at me. You either look at me and blush, or you give me this sultry smirk. Sultrier than usual, far as I’ve seen.”

“Mmm?” Ranma hummed questioningly as she smirked at her new friend.

“Exactly like that, actually,” Nabiki confirmed. “That’s the kind of look exactly.”

“You’re right, Biki-chan,” Ranma murmured as she turned around and laid her head on Nabiki’s lap. “Mom did do her best to raise me right, and before Jusenkyō I wouldn’t normally do anything she might disapprove of. At least not when she’s nearby.”

“Yeah, I know how that goes. Kasumi sometimes does un-motherly things when Daddy isn’t home.”

“Really?”

“Just sometimes,” Nabiki reiterated. “But go on.”

“When I’m like this I have this feeling in the back of my head, telling me that it doesn’t matter that much. Let the world burn, as it were. I’m not sure how to explain it, really. I just feel more… open?”

“Considering your shirt’s been riding up so much, I’d say something feels open.”

Ranma giggled into Nabiki’s belly.

“Do you ‘feel open’ enough to consider a little hands-on education on what you’ve been missing out on?” Nabiki offered, wiggling her fingers in a suggestive manner.

“Y’know what, Biki-chan?”

“What?”

“Let’s not do that. Sometimes, how I act when I’m like this kinda scares me afterwards,” Ranma admitted. “Let’s… not do that just yet.”

Nabiki stroked her girlfriend’s hair as she considered those words.

“You’d think I couldn’t know what that’s like,” Nabiki replied, “but I have a… vaguely similar problem, I guess?”

Ranma looked up at her, eyes opened questioningly.

“I have to play a role in school, and often enough around my own family. The Ice Queen, they call me. Everything has its price. Things just got out of hand, y’know? All I wanted was make a bit of money on the side to support my family, considering Daddy rarely takes on students. Have a little fun doing it. And then things went… too well, I guess?”

Then I guess that wasn’t quite the “real” Nabiki earlier, Ranma considered, talkin’ ‘bout financial plans all coldly professional like that.

“Yeah, I think that’s comparable enough… y’wanna make out a little instead?” Ranma offered.

Nabiki grinned. “Change back, see if you dare ask again.”

Chapter Text

As Ranma and Nabiki quietly made out in the latter’s room, Nodoka Saotome, watching her husband and his friend play shōgi in the living room, had a realization. She turned to Genma, interrupting his game.

“Dear, it just occurred to me that I haven’t had a good bath since we returned from China.”

“Don’t let me stop you, darling,” Genma replied in acceptance.

“Me neither, ma’am,” Sōun agreed. “I’m sure you can find the bathroom yourself?”

“I wouldn’t worry about that, Tendō-san. Thank you for your hospitality,” Nodoka said with a bow, then shuffled off to a well-deserved soak.

As he watched his wife leave the room, Genma sighed. Noticing the changes Sōun had made to their game, he sighed again. Such was the deal when they “played”.

“What’s the matter, old friend?”

“It’s her, Tendō,” Genma wistfully started to explain. “Ever since we had Ranma, I’ve rarely had a moment together with just her. I love my darling Nodoka dearly, ever since she rescued me from the old master’s teachings, but I simply don’t get much of a chance to show it any more.”

The two men faced each other, stern-faced and crying soundlessly for a moment.

“You know, Saotome, your daughter is a nearly full-grown young woman now, and she’s otherwise occupied with one of mine,” Sōun argued softly, a hint of a smile on his face near the end. “Your wife is preparing to take a bath.”

“I think I know what you’re saying, Tendō…”

“You could join her there. It’s well within your right as her husband.”

“You’re a good man, Sōun Tendō,” Genma approved as he stood and turned. “Let no one claim otherwise.”

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Nodoka was just finishing preparations to wash up before her soak in the tub. Softly humming to herself, she took the showerhead in hand and steeled herself.

Okay, here we go…

Mere seconds after Nodoka had plunged herself under the cold water, Genma popped his smiling head into the room.

“Nodoka darling, don’t you think it’d be nice if we had a good sss… oh…”

[Nodoka Saotome cancels take bath: Interrupted by husband.]

Nodoka sighed in defeat as Genma slowly removed himself from the room.

Straightening his gi in absolute silence, Genma staggered against the far wall of the laundry room. What he’d just seen had shocked him almost as much as when he held a kitty in his arms that had, mere seconds before, been his beloved daughter.

Nodoka also has a curse. She’d been cursed just like Ranma all along. She must’ve been so ashamed of it all, to never have told me about it. That’s gotta be it.

For once, it was.

Genma took a deep breath and ran back into the living room, face stricken with panic.

“Tendō,” he wailed. “I thought the guide was only joking, Tendooow!”

“Why? What happened? What did you see, Genma-kun?”

Sōun Tendō very rarely called Genma by his first name. It snapped the latter out of his panic very well.

“Remember when I told you yesterday how Ranma got her curse?”

Sōun nodded.

“When Nodoka nearly fainted and I caught her before she fell into one of those springs, the guide said… I almost had two daughters.”

Realization struck Sōun like thunder. “You don’t… Saotomeeeh!

Tendooow!

The two grown adult men bawled their eyes out, tightly clinging to each other like scared children.

Upstairs, Nabiki and Ranma uncoupled.

“Geez, what set them off to wail like that?”

“I don’t know and frankly, Biki-chan, I don’t care right now.”

Seconds later, as their daughters did the exact opposite, the men released their grips. They sat up straight, and faced each other sternly again.

“So… your wife is…”

Before Sōun could finish, a young girl with dark reddish-brown hair and a kimono several sizes too large for her tiny frame shuffled into the living room. The men turned and faced her as she dropped into a very formal bow..

“I am truly very sorry about this.”

Genma and Sōun continued to look at her, their faces stern but clearly saddened.

“With all the trouble of Ranma’s curse, I didn’t want to bother you with this,” Nodoka excused.

“When did this happen, though?” asked Genma in a soft voice.

“Shortly after the rain stopped…”

In the evening, Nodoka sat up in the tent she shared with her recently-cursed daughter. Replaying the events in her mind, she realized they’d forgotten about one particular thing. Ranma was hardly a martial artist without her gi, and they’d left it floating around in that twice-damned Spring of the Immersed Cat or whatever it was called.

Careful not to wake up her daughter, still not quite used to her current state and squirming every so often in her sleeping bag, Nodoka got up and looked out of the tent. Genma was visiting the guide in his hut, it seemed, hopefully to gain more information.

Taking a pole from the ground, Nodoka made her way to the springs. She found her target easily, with the missing outfit in clear sight, and picked up the pace, unwilling to spend too much time around the springs.

“But that’s the thing about rain, isn’t it? The ground can get a little slick afterwards.”

The men slowly nodded in silent understanding.

Nodoka slipped on a muddy patch and fell. Without Genma to catch her, she did break the surface of a spring. She gasped, but didn’t scream. The last thing on her mind before the world turned blue was that by some cruel twist of fate, it was the same damned spring as before. Nodoka could feel her body shrink, but didn’t panic — she was raised better than that. Getting her bearings straight, she quickly surfaced and pulled herself up out of the spring, then carefully turned around and looked at her reflection as the ripples on the surface died down.

She always said Ranma looked just like her when she was younger. This just confirmed it.

As soon as she finished processing what had happened to her, she got up, retrieved the missing outfit, and snuck back to camp. Confirming that Ranma was still asleep, Nodoka looked around for a source of hot water. The campfire was still lit, but she reckoned that would take too long. They’d packed a little camping stove for emergencies, Nodoka remembered, even though Genma preferred to do what he called “the only right way”. That would suffice for a single cup in minutes without making a mess.

She’d only just dried off and went back into her sleeping bag when Genma returned. From then on, the most difficult part would be to hide her curse until a more opportune moment, whenever that might be.

Nodoka felt a little bad for her daughter, the way she maneuvered things such that it’d be Ranma who got splashed instead of herself. And the closer to home they got, the more regularly it seemed to happen… but never to Nodoka. At least for rain she carried an umbrella, and nobody cared about a lady having an umbrella on hand while clearly on the road.

She was quite good at hiding her curse, and felt even worse about tricking Genma.

At least she was still fully human.

Genma hummed to himself. “I think the most impressive part is that nobody noticed.”

Sōun chuckled softly. “High praise, coming from a reformed burglar.”

“Shut up, Tendō. You followed the old master as well as I did. Anyway, I guess Ranma did use to say she wanted a sister. Guess she got one,” Genma quipped.

Nodoka smiled, rose, and adjusted her garments. “At any rate, I’ll take my bath. Genma, you’re welcome to join me… if you knock first.”

Chapter Text

“So tell me again why I have to walk Ranma to school, sis,” Akane argued as she went over the contents of her book bag. “I mean, she's your… girlfriend, not mine!”

“Because I have business to attend to and need the extra time. Now stop complaining,” Nabiki stated matter-of-factly as she turned to Ranma. Ranma had returned to her original form for school and was studying the school uniforms that the two younger Tendō sisters were wearing. Considering the trouble with her tail, this gave the distinct impression that she was checking out the sisters' butts — a notion her father was quick to pick up on as he walked by with a pickle in his mouth. Ranma wasn't in uniform, though — she was wearing another Chinese shirt, this one with long sleeves, and a band-print T-shirt underneath.

“Looking at the ladies' rumps, ya little minx?” Genma teased as he patted Ranma on the head. “I suppose there's no stopping you there, hmm?”

“Surprising as it may be to you, Pops, I wasn't,” Ranma replied. She grabbed her father's arm by the wrist and squeezed it. “And don't call me that, it's freaky.”

Just when Genma sauntered away, wondering if his wrist might be bruised, Akane threw a book bag at Ranma. “Time to go, Ranma,” she deadpanned.

On their way to school, Ranma was consistently running on any thin surface on the way, such as fences.

“Is it some kind of kitty instinct thing that makes you do that?” Akane asked in a huff.

“What, walking on the fence all the time? Nah, it's actually compensation.”

“What could you possibly need compensation for? From those sparring sessions I can tell there are not a lot of things left that would need any compensation,” Akane argued. She had tried to prevent any implications about her bust size, but could only hope she had succeeded in that.

“It kinda is a ‘kitty thing’, though. It's just balance training,” Ranma started to explain. At Akane's puzzled expression, she continued. “Without my tail, my balance isn't quite as good when moving. So I run on the fence to practice.”

Akane was silent for a moment.

“That made more sense than I expected,” she admitted as the school gates came into view. “Just for your interest, what happens next is my problem. Stay out of it, okay?”

As anybody even remotely familiar with the source material would have guessed, a small army of diverse sports practitioners — amateur sumo wrestlers, tennis players, judoka and several others — was occupying the entrance area of the school, waiting for Akane to show up.

“There she is!” yelled a young baseball pitcher. On cue, the entire mob descended on Akane. Ranma stopped dead in her tracks and hopped backwards onto the wall delineating the school premises. To her surprise, Akane fared better against the crowd than she had expected.

“Ranma, stop dawdling and get your bum inside before you're late,” Nabiki shouted down from her homeroom window. “Don't worry about Akane, she goes through this routine every day.”

Every single day? Ranma thought to herself as she ran over to the school building, stepping on the heads of the burlier men on their way to a good walloping. However, as she prepared to scale the school wall towards the window that Nabiki helpfully pointed out, and the last young men in the mob were flung away, a newcomer arrived on the battlefield, almost directly below Ranma.

The weather darkened considerably.

“Truly, such a boorish lot.”

So spoke Tatewaki Kunō. It didn't sound very pleasant.

“Evidently, each of them intends to ask you out, fair Akane…”

At that point, an insufferable red-haired girl had released her hold of the wall and had landed in a crouch on top of Kunō's head. “Who's this douchebag?” she asked.

“Who are you, cur?” Kunō asked, then caught himself. “Ah, but tis the custom to give one’s own name first, is it not? Then mine I shall give!”

“If you insist,” Ranma obliged, still perching on Kunō’s head.

“My name is Upperclassman Kunō. Junior, group E,” Kunō proceeded to rattle off. “Captain of the kendo club,” and indeed he dressed the part, “undefeated rising star of the high school fencing world. But my peers call me… The Blue Thunder of Furinkan High.”

Meanwhile, in the window, Nabiki and two of her classmates stood and watched. “Blue Thunder?” asked one. “Have you heard that one before?” asked the other. “Nope, it’s news to me,” admitted Nabiki.

“A’ight. I’m, ah…” Ranma started to reply. “I’m staying at the Tendō training hall…”

“What? Under the same roof as fair Akane?!” Kunō exclaimed as he drew his wooden training sword, the sudden movement throwing Ranma off.

“…heir to the Saotome School of Indiscriminate Grappling,” Ranma continued her introduction as she flipped around. “I am Ranma Saotome, and I’ll accept any challenge you have for me!”

Kunō promptly put the sword back. “Oh, I do beg forgiveness. I could not see your countenance before and your tone of voice belied your femininity.”

“What?”

“E’en so, if a challenge from me is what you wish for, fair Ranma, then a challenge you shall get. If I defeat you, I shall date you.”

“What.

The sword came back out. Meanwhile, the first drops of rain fell from those dark clouds, threatening to pick up soon.

“As such, en garde.”

Tatewaki Kunō immediately charged down the path towards Ranma, who jumped at the last moment, landing on the bamboo blade.

“Listen buddy. I don’t know how else to tell ya this, but I don’t date boys.”

“You are of the Sapphic persuasion, then?”

Ranma jumped off the blade, nodded, and narrowly dodged a strike.

“Tis of no matter, fair Saotome. A girl can be convinced otherwise.”

What.

Just as the rain picked up, with a loud crack of thunder for good measure, Ranma jumped again and delivered a painful kick to Kunō’s forehead. The last thing he saw before he hit the ground was a pair of cat ears and a very fierce glare.

A few minutes later, as Ranma and Akane stood in the hall with a couple buckets of water as punishment — the obvious consequence of taking a detour to find some hot water — Nabiki had the unfortunate honor of explaining the situation to her upperclassman.

“And that’s basically why they’re staying with us.”

Kunō nodded gingerly, nursing his forehead.

“It gets worse, though.”

“How could it possibly get worse, shrew?”

“Well… one of us Tendō sisters is in a relationship with the girl,” Nabiki teased, then leaned in to whisper in the increasingly horrified Kunō’s ear. “And yes, it’s that kind of relationship.”

“…I detest you.”

“From the bottom of my heart, I’m so glad.”

He did, though, for he could only hope Nabiki hadn’t meant Akane.

Meanwhile, in the hall, Ranma and Akane couldn’t help but argue. At low volume, but they did argue.

“Why are you even such a pervert, fondling my sister in public?” Akane ranted. “I mean, one moment you’re a perfectly reasonable friend, even if you feel the need to insult me, and then the next you’re practically… ecch!

Akane was clearly exaggerating, Ranma figured. Time to go on the offensive.

“Well maybe I am a pervert, ya un-cute dummy. But what does that make you? After all, you’re the only one actively watching. I can understand being protective of your sisters but I thought the older was supposed to look out for the you—”

“Actively watch this!” Akane called out as she threateningly held up her bucket. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed the pattern here, Tiger. I’ll bet if I bat my eyelashes at you just right when you’re a cat, you’d be all over me and then what’ll do you?”

Here’s hopin’ we’ll never find out, thought the agitated redhead. “I’d sooner cuddle with Kasumi,” she retorted, making sure to pile on the apparent sarcasm. “Naked.”

“Eeeeewww!” Akane cried, then looked back in surprise as she heard agitated footsteps quickly approaching. “Oh no…”

“Ah geez, he heard ya.”

Indeed, Tatewaki Kunō came barreling down the hall, his own punishment buckets balancing on the end of the sword slung across his shoulders.

“Ranma Saotome,” he cried, “cease your defilement of the beauteous Akane Tendō!”

“Oh man, you wanna get your sexist ass kicked again?” Ranma asked, putting down her bucket and assuming a fighting stance.

“I’ll happily defeat you, my red-haired beauty, for you cannot defile fair Akane when you are with another.”

“Gee,” Akane whispered at said tigress. “I wonder how he’d react if he knew there is another you’re with?”

“I dunno, but I wanna have a bit of fun with this idiot before the reveal,” Ranma whispered back, then faced Kunō once more. “If you want a fight, you can have it. But not here, it’s too cramped.”

“Name your time and place, oh wench.”

“How ‘bout right over there, right now?” Ranma stated. Quickly, she dashed over, opened the window, and climbed halfway out. Kunō blindly followed.

“Ranma you jackass, this is the third floor!” Akane called out as her lodger and unwanted love interest jumped out.

“See if I caaare~” Ranma replied, turning around in the air to fall in the least painful way. Much like the balancing, she’d done a bit of study and practice in how her catgirl form tended to land upright, and even if she messed that up there was still a swimming pool waiting below to break her fall, not to mention the spoony idiot’s.

Wait. Swimming pool. How could I forget? This is gonna be interesting.

Ranma landed in the pool without issue, Kunō following more roughly but a second later, right on top of her. She quickly swam away to the edge, only to find something holding her back, and quite painfully.

“Wanwaa, I white ooon,” burbled Kunō as he blindly grabbed for his opponent and got a handful of cat tail.

“Mowa fagga da huwds!”

Ranma moved back a bit, then angled her feet down as she grabbed Kunō by the shoulders. Touching the floor of the pool, she jumped out and flipped Kunō onto his back on the edge, knocking the remaining air out of him.

Stomping on her opponent as she landed, Ranma scowled. “Forget this, this school day’s a bust,” she muttered to herself, then turned to the open window where her classmate looked out. “Akane! I’m leaving early, mind telling Nabiki?”

Akane gave a thumbs up and disappeared.

A minute or two later, Kunō regained his senses.

“By all accounts, that was a tail. Truly, my red-haired tigress is as worthy of that moniker as she is of my affection…”

Chapter Text

“So what’s this about leaving school early, Tiger?”

Nabiki put her bag down and gave a bemused frown to her girlfriend, sitting on a children’s swing in the park, lost in thought. “I had plans to have lunch with you on the roof, y’know?”

“I’ll have to make that up to you I guess,” Ranma offered, lightly kicking off into a slow swing. “I just didn’t want to be in the same building as that damn samurai-wannabe.”

“What’d he do to piss you off like that? I know what he said the first time but…”

Ranma put her knees up and mumbled an answer.

“I’m sorry, what was that?”

“…‘e pulled a’ mah tail. Fug’n hurt,” the as-yet-unchanged redhead muttered.

“Ouch, girl. Do you want me to do that thing from before and make it better?” Nabiki offered.

“Thanks, but maybe not right here,” Ranma declined with the barest hint of a blush.

“Really? You’re clearly not as much of a loose cannon as we feared,” Nabiki joked as she took a wad of cash from her school bag and casually counted the bills, leaning against the swing’s frame.

“Those the Ice Queen’s earnings, Biki-chan?”

“You got that right, Tiger. Could've been even more if we had more time together. Come up with some interesting plans over lunch, execute them after, split the profits, you know how it goes.”

“Sorry ‘bout that,” Ranma said with her ears folded back.

“Don’t worry, Tiger. Tomorrow’s another day. And I don’t have any important early business tomorrow so we can walk together!”

Ranma perked up immediately at the thought. “Really?”

“Yeah. And maybe then I can make up for what my little joke towards Kunō caused for you.”

“Oh?”

“I may have teased him with the idea that you were in a lesbian relationship with ‘one of us Tendō sisters’ without being more specific,” Nabiki admitted. “I do like watching the big lug squirm…”

“If I couldn’t imagine how that must’ve looked, I would be angry at you right now.”

“I’m so glad,” Nabiki stated simply, without even a hint of sarcasm, and put away the money. “Shall we be off?”

Ranma waited for the apex of her swing and jumped off with a graceful somersault. “Let’s.”

“Just so you know, I brought notes from your classmates on what you missed. Free of charge. You might want to thank Hiroshi and Daisuke tomorrow.”

“Ah, thanks. I think I will!”

A fair distance away, a young boy sat and watched it all. He clenched his fist, breaking a walnut he’d held, and slowly ate the inside bits. “Ranma,” he said to himself, “you’ve only grown ever more beautiful since then…”

He stood, brushed off the walnut shell pieces, adjusted his backpack, and followed the girls.

The boy found himself sitting on the wall surrounding the Tendō house, close enough to have a reasonable view of Nabiki’s room.

I really shouldn’t do this, he thought. Peeping is for perverts… but I couldn’t dare knock and just be all “hi Ranma, remember me? It’s your old pal Ryōga Hibiki, and I need to admit something to you!” Yeah, that’ll fly.

Ryōga shuddered, then steeled himself and paid further attention to what went on in Nabiki’s room. He didn’t know it was hers, or even who Nabiki was, but the sign out front said “Tendō”, and she and Ranma seemed on good terms. Remarkably good terms, considering they went to this place together, and were chatting in the other girl’s room just like that.

Nabiki asked something, and Ranma answered — a dismissive, judging from her body language. Much to Ryōga’s surprise, Nabiki started taking off her school uniform, while Ranma watched.

The trickle of blood running down his upper lip only made the boy feel a little worse about being a peeping tom.

“Sis, can I come in?” Akane called, knocking on Nabiki’s door.

“I dunno,” came the reply. “Are you okay with me being half dressed?”

“I guess, it’s your room,” Akane shrugged, hand on the door knob. “But this mightn’t be the best time… something came up?”

“Darling, toss me that shirt?” Nabiki requested. Ranma quickly flicked the shirt laying next to her on the bed at Nabiki, who smoothly caught it and put it on. “Okay, you can come in now.”

Akane opened the door and entered, dragging the dead weight of Ryōga Hibiki behind her, held by the bandana around his head. “Caught a pervert on the wall, Sis, staring at your room.”

“Highly appreci—”

“Holy crap is that Ryōga?” Ranma interrupted. She jumped off the bed and took the dazed boy from Akane, whipping around to the middle of the room, then roughly slapped him on the cheeks. “Wake up, dummy!”

“Darling is that such a good idea, slapping a guy like that?”

“Don’t worry, Biki-chan. Ryōga’s a real tough guy, he can handle this,” Ranma defended, and slapped the boy some more.

Will you kindly stop slapping my face!?

“See that? Still works.”

Ryōga recovered from the mild but undeniable pain in his cheeks, then realized who was holding him. “Ranma!” he cried out, and promptly embraced the girl in a big hug that might’ve been painful for a lesser mortal.

“Ryōga!” Ranma returned the hug.

“Who?” asked the sisters together.

“The guy I told you about before,” Ranma explained. “You know, the one I had to walk to school all the time and who thought we were in a relationship?”

Ryōga finally released his hug. “What do you mean, ‘thought’? Ranma, we totally had a thing!”

“Uh no? I guided you to school each day and people started rumors.” Ranma turned to the confused sisters. “That’s not ‘having a thing’, is it?”

Nabiki shook her head. “I don’t think so.”

“But, but we held hands!”

“So you… wouldn’t get separated from me and… get lost after all,” Ranma clarified uneasily. “Cos we both know that’s what would happen. Honestly Ryōga, you’re making this all a bit awkward.”

“Awkward? How could this reunion get any more awkward? I mean, I know one way it could but…”

“Ryōga, as much as I enjoy seeing you again… I dunno how else to break it to ya but…” Ranma paused to take a deep breath.

“… I’m a lesbian. And I’m in a relationship with Nabiki Tendō.”

“Wha-?”

“The tall one.” Ranma clarified. The tall one grinned uneasily and waved at the new guy.

Ryōga stared at Nabiki in silence for a few seconds, then turned to Ranma. Then back to Nabiki. Back to Ranma. He looked at Akane for good measure, who could merely shrug in return. Back to Ranma.

“After all I’ve been through to feel wor… thy…”

And then he cried out.

Noooo!

Ryōga finally took his hands off of Ranma’s shoulders and ran out the door, down the stairs, into the bathroom, back out, to the living room, and out to the garden.

And then he tripped on a rock bordering the pond.

Kasumi had been ignoring the commotion upstairs as she worked on dinner. Having a soft spot for certain types of small animals, she pointedly did not ignore the sad sound she heard coming from the garden. Briskly ensuring the food would be okay without her, she went out to find an animal shaking off the water next to the koi pond.

Without any hesitation, she picked up the large black cat and took it back inside.

Later, Ranma, Nabiki, and Akane were practicing in the dojo. Ranma went through several forms with all the grace of an expert, Akane with a marked violence, and Nabiki… Nabiki stood there with a book in her hand that Ranma had suggested she read. After Ryōga ran away, Nabiki had admitted her growing interest in picking up the Art again.

“Meow!”

Akane stopped and turned. “Ranma, did you just…?”

“Wasn’t me. I try not to do that, especially when I’m human.”

“It was this big boy,” Kasumi revealed as she walked in, holding her new pet in her arms.

“Ah. Where’d you find him, big sis?” Akane asked, running over to pet the cat, who in turn moved his head away from the approaching hand.

“In the garden. Seems the poor guy fell into the pond.”

Akane withdrew her hand in thought, then carefully took the cat’s head and turned it the other way, revealing a yellow bandana wrapped around his neck, disguised by his fur.

“I’ll be right back,” she announced, and ran out to the kitchen.

“Can I hold him?” Ranma asked.

“Well, sure. Do you—oh my!”

The cat escaped from Kasumi’s grasp and jumped right into Ranma’s arms, happily settling in and purring in joy. Just then, Akane returned with a mug of hot water, which she promptly threw at Ranma and the cat she was cradling.

In the blink of an eye, Ranma was holding a very large and very naked Ryōga in her arms.

Nabiki frowned at the sight. “Explain, please?”

“I’ll find a shirt,” Kasumi said as she (gracefully) ran out.

Chapter Text

“Explain, please?” Nabiki repeated after Ryōga put his clothes back on. The boy was glad Kasumi had passed by the koi pond and noticed his outfit there. The other girls were less pleased that it took a bit to dry them again.

“Where do I even start?” Ryōga pleaded.

Ranma spoke up first. “For starters, what made you jump into my arms like that?”

“To be entirely fair, that was… call it a moment of hope,” Ryōga said, haltingly but tender. “That maybe I could still be with you in another way.”

Ranma sighed and rested a hand on her face. “Being ‘with me’ in pretty much any way is only a problem if you leave, dummy.”

“Whu?”

“I may not love you but you’re still a good guy, Ryōga. You’re an honorable, strong fighter, with good taste and all that. Any straight girl would be lucky to have you.”

Ryōga could feel his spirits be lifted with every word.

“But to me, you’re a very, very good friend and rival, no more.”

The boy’s heart nearly stopped.

“I’m sorry, Ryōga. I never meant to lead you on back then. I thought that one Valentine’s Day you would’ve noticed?”

“… Yeah, I think I recall what you’re talking about. All the girls in class got chocolate from you…”

“And I bought you lunch. Because that seemed like a nice gesture without the implications.”

“Yeah, I guess it was. Pretty good bread too I think,” Ryōga recalled with a fond smile. “I guess I made the wrong decision afterwards. Clearly, you still cared for me…”

“I do care for you, dummy.”

“So I thought, maybe if I prove my worth?”

Ranma gave Ryōga a firm hug. Not the kind between lovers but a friendly hug, insofar as the height difference allowed such a distinction. “Dummy.”

“I’d hate to interrupt a tender moment,” Nabiki interrupted, “but how’s that relate to you being cursed?”

Ryōga smirked painfully at the memories he dredged up and sat down. He took a slow, deep breath, and recounted his tale.

“It was a few week ago, somewhere in China…”

Ryōga held a weathered photograph up to the guide’s eyes, indicating the red-haired schoolgirl sitting next to him.

“Honored customer is lucky. Red girl was here just days earlier!”

“Where’d she go?”

“Away, sir. Back to Japan I guess? But she bring terrible souvenir.”

Ryōga’s breath hitched. He took the guide by the shoulders. “What happened,” he growled.

“Oh sir, is very sad story what happen to red girl, sir. Come with me.”

Bringing Ryōga to a particular cluster of cursed springs, the guide launched into his story, explaining that the springs would turn whoever fell into them into a different form, the whole hot and cold water angle, and that Ranma had fallen into this one particular spring that Ryōga didn’t catch the name of — the guide had said it in Chinese.

“Then she jump into niángnìquán to try undo curse,” the guide continued. Ryōga had missed the first spring’s name but caught the other one, though he still didn’t know what ‘nyannichuan’ actually meant.

“But honored sir, most rare thing happen!”

“I’m listening…”

“Red girl turn into half cat half girl!”

Ryōga couldn’t believe what he heard and for moment, he fell into wondering what his beloved must look like in such a state.

He grabbed the guide again and shook him around. “How?!”

“Well, honored sir, I— I… kàn lái shíjī hěn—”

“What does that even mean!?”

“So so sorry, I not know the words and customer scares me and—”

A young girl screamed a shrill battle cry and ran at the two men. The last thing Ryōga heard before an ominous splashing noise was that girl shouting “dúzì líkāi bàba” at him.

The last thing he felt before all-encompassing wetness was a surprisingly heavy shove.

For a moment, all was water.

For a moment after, everything was panic, as Ryōga Hibiki knew full well what this water would do to him.

For a second or two, all was meow.

Plum, careful not to join his moist fate, stuck her hand into the spring and grabbed Ryōga by his bandana, pulling him back out with ease and carrying him to the hut she and her father shared.

“Damn, Hibiki. That’s some story,” Nabiki said in appraisal.

“Oh my,” Kasumi agreed. “Imagine being a top martial artist and getting knocked down by a little girl.”

“As if it wasn’t already bad enough that I turn into a housecat,” Ryōga argued. “The plan was to become like Ranma!”

“Including the part where I’m a girl?”

“... not initially but I suppose that might’ve helped? They had a spring of drowned man there too, I think. Anyway, she got me some hot water and a scolding. And my clothes shortly after.”

“Then what happened?”

“I left and wandered off,” Ryōga replied in a mumble. Nabiki raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

“That wasn’t quite the end of it, wasn’t it?”

Ryōga sighed. “No, no it wasn’t. Things got worse.”

The boy next found himself in a village, clearly still in the same general area as the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyō. The first thing he noticed was that there was a tournament of sorts in progress. The second was that most of the participants and audience members were female, and all of them looked like fearsome warriors even from a distance.

The third thing he noticed was a beautiful spread of food sitting there on a large table. Though he was certainly hungry, Ryōga knew better than to just sit and eat, especially since nobody else was. He didn’t know what the large sign in front of it meant, but maybe he could figure it all out.

As such, he carefully tapped a lady in the back of the audience, close to the table, on the shoulder.

“Excuse me, miss? Ah… wō bo hui sō… chonwen?” he fumbled, barely recalling the words.

The lady blinked in mild confusion, then seemed to realize what the outsider meant and pointed at him. “Not speak Chinese?” she said, then pointed at herself. “Not speak Japanese! Is okay!”

They shared a laugh for a few seconds, then devolved into confused gesturing. From what Ryōga could make out, that table full of food was for the contest winner. He could’ve guessed as much. Also, the young lady with the voluminous purple hair and the dual chúi currently about to win was apparently named Sha n pu or something, and the lady he was “talking” to was Candy, Condi-something-or-other.

“So if I defeat her,” he gestured, first at Shanpu, then at the buffet, “I get to eat that?” he mimed using chopsticks.

“Yes,” the girl nodded. “Or share it,” she added with a smile, her arm sweeping across the crowd.

Ryōga cracked his knuckles and walked up to the crowd. “Well, let’s see how this goes.”

“So this one girl was just about to win the prize when I came in,” Ryōga finished. “Hopped onto the log they fought on, waited for the right time to move, and knocked her out with a single kick to the face. I was halfway through some pork when the runner-up woke up and stumbled towards me.”

“Back for more, or did she want some food too?” Ranma asked.

“Neither, though after she did what she came to do, I did stuff a bun in her mouth to distract her and make my escape.”

“I figure if you weren’t restrained somehow, escaping would’ve been easy,” Ranma taunted goodnaturedly. “What did she do though?”

“Kissed me, full on the lips.”

All the women in the room softly gasped.

“I know, right? I’ve always wanted my first kiss to be with Ranma,” Ryōga admitted, pain evident in his tone of voice.

“Why, though? Why would she do that?”

“From the way Condy and the other women reacted to the kiss, she wanted to bed me or something. She said… ‘wo ai ni’ real lovingly-like?”

“I know those words,” Nabiki ominously spoke. “She said ‘I love you’. From what you told me, I think I can guess why.”

Ryōga glared expectantly at Nabiki.

“Well, if the village was full of women, and the competition was only between women — it was, right?”

“As far as I could tell I was the only male participant.”

“Right. So assuming this was a matriarchal warrior society — that means the women are in charge and they all kick ass, numbnuts — if someone from outside were to prove themselves better than their best… yeah, they’d probably want you to marry into the tribe. Add your strength to theirs.”

“Ryōga,” Ranma chuckled, “I think you are not as unlucky as you might believe.”

“And he’s such a cute kitty too,” Kasumi added, feeling a little empty-armed.

Ryōga laughed uncomfortably. “To be honest… I haven’t felt safe since that day. I feel like Shampoo’s out there, waiting to haul me back to China…”

Chapter Text

Throughout the week, Ranma and her new friends would regularly run into Ryōga on their way to and from school. He remained on his guard, and justifiably so, afraid of the Chinese girl who’d claimed him.

On Friday, they decided enough was enough. Ryōga needed something nice to take his mind off the hunt.

“But I can’t skate,” Ranma argued, shooting down the idea that Akane and Nabiki had decided on.

“I’m surprised you’d admit you can’t do something, Ranma. But I’m no good on the ice either,” Ryōga confessed.

“All the more fun,” Nabiki countered. “You can take this chance to learn!”

Indeed, shortly after, all four of them were at the local rink. Nabiki drew lazy but fairly graceful little circles while Akane hovered around the cat kids, who held onto each other for dear life as they slowly made their way around.

“Really, you two are gonna have to let go at some point,” Akane sighed. “People are gonna get the wrong idea. What kinda posture is that anyway?”

“Yeah, Tiger. Stand up straight,” Nabiki agreed. She nodded at Akane, who moved behind Ryōga, while she snuck up behind Ranma. Together, they pulled the two scaredy cats apart. Nabiki jabbed Ranma in the back to try and straighten her out, taking a cue from the family doctor, while Akane simply grabbed Ryōga by the chest and pulled back while pushing at his waist.

He was just a little perturbed by the action, and Ranma seemed a bit surprised in a more positive way at what Nabiki did to her, but this quickly gave way to a minor panic as the sisters gave them a push, away from each other.

“Somebody catch me-heeee,” Ranma cried out, waving her arms around as if that’d slow her down. Much to her short-lived relief, she was caught halfway across the rink by a young man in a nice sweater.

“Are you alright?” he asked with a soft, gentle voice.

“Thanks for the catch, ah…?”

“Mikado Sanzenin, a pleasure to make the acquaintance of such a cute young lady,” he introduced himself, holding Ranma close to him, her feet off the ice, and one hand gently cupping her jaw.

Ranma shivered at the touch. Clearly, this Mikado guy was bad news.

“I can tell you’ve not skated before, am I right?”

“Ah, yeah… why?”

“I could teach you how to skate,” Mikado offered, “for a small price…”

Ranma’s finely-tuned senses cried out as Mikado’s face came closer.

“… that being just a kiss.”

“Wait, wha—”

It lasted for just a second, maybe even only half a second, but to Ranma the kiss felt like it took several minutes. Several minutes of torture, as the confessed lesbian wouldn’t ever have imagined actually being kissed by a man who was not her father, let alone an obvious womanizing jackass like this Mikado Sanzenin.

How dare you?!” Ryōga called out, fumbling his way over on pure rage alone, Nabiki trailing him with a look of shock and disgust. She was dumbstruck by the event, and somewhere in the back of her head she was happy Ryōga could speak for her. “How dare you kiss her? Ranma is not yours to treat like that!”

“Oh? You are this cute young thing’s boyfriend, then?” Mikado haughtily responded as he watched a crying Ranma skitter away to the safety of what he thought must be her big sister.

“I will kick your playboy ass for making her cry,” Ryōga declared, his fist burning with righteous fury.

“No,” Ranma interrupted, wiping the tears from her face. “We will.”

“Two-on-two, then? The Golden Pair accepts your challenge,” Mikado countered. “Azusa!”

At Mikado’s call, a little girl who tried way too hard to look cute glided in and hooked onto Mikado’s arm. “This is my partner, Azusa Shiratori, and we are the Golden Pair of Kolhotz High.”

“When you leave this rink,” Azusa joined in, “it won’t be as lovers.”

The rink quickly cleared out, those familiar with the Golden Pair knowing what would come next and those who were not following along.

“But we’re not—”

“Come at us!”

Only staying upright out of adrenaline and rage, Ranma and Ryōga did indeed come at them. Most of their attacks didn’t connect simply by virtue of their targets being that much more mobile, though some got through. Mikado’s sweater got cut up a bit from getting kicked by an opponent with blades strapped to their feet, but no lasting harm came to him. To the expert martial artists, this was somewhat frustrating.

Sharing an understanding nod, Ranma grabbed Ryōga by the wrists and let him swing her around, hoping to increase the strength of their impact and cut their opponent down to size. Instead, Azusa grabbed Ranma by the ankles and was in turn grabbed by Mikado.

A random bystander next to the Tendō sisters recognized what was happening and gasped. “Not the Couple Cleaver! My god…”

Nabiki turned to the bystander. “What’s that?”

“It’s this thing they do where they split up couples by playing on their trust.”

“Couples’ trust, huh? Should be interesting to see how that works out.”

The bystander hummed in confusion.

“You’ll notice.”

Meanwhile, Azusa was firmly planted on Mikado’s shoulders, holding Ranma’s ankles besides her head, and Ranma in turn still held onto Ryoga’s wrists. Suddenly, Mikado spun, quickly building up enough angular momentum to make his opponents fly out parallel to the ground. It became increasingly difficult for Ranma to hold onto Ryōga, who himself was now grasping at Ranma’s wrist.

“Release him and I’ll stop spinning,” Mikado called out.

Ranma considered her options and looked at Ryōga, who smirked. They actually think we wouldn’t?

A second later, Ryōga was embedded into the wall of the rink. As the spin slowed down, Azusa released her grip on Ranma’s ankles, who did an impressive double flip onto the rink, then fell over.

“Why would you let go so willingly?” Mikado asked disparagingly. “Do you not love this man?”

Ranma scoffed. “And I thought he assumed too much. I’m with her, dummy!” she revealed, pointing at Nabiki.

“...oh, I get it now. Nice,” said the bystander.

“Kick his ass, Ranma,” Ryōga said with barely a groan as he picked himself up out of the wall.

Suitably distracted, Mikado was in no position to defend himself. Ten seconds later, Azusa pulled her partner off the rink by the collar.

Later at a table of a little café near the rink, the girls and their boy friend discussed what had happened over drinks and fast food.

“So, did all that get your mind off things, Ryōga-kun?” Akane asked.

“I gotta admit, besides the part where I got slammed into a wall I had some good fun. Now that it’s over though… it doesn’t really go away, does it?”

“This Shampoo girl,” Nabiki carefully opened, “does she know?”

Ryōga gave her a confused look.

“About your curse?”

“Ah. I don’t think so,” Ryōga considered, trying to recall if the villagers had ever seen him in his cat form. “No, I’m pretty sure actually. If they even know I’m cursed, they don’t know what I become.”

“And you’re quite sure she’s around, here in Nerima?”

“Definitely.”

Nabiki pondered her idea for all of two seconds. “Then how about you go undercover as Kasumi’s pet?”

Ranma grinned. “I like it! It’s sneaky and yet somewhat proper!”

A loud crackling thumping noise from outside surprised the group, and a web of cracks quickly appeared on a nearby wall.

“Oh shit she’s here!” Ryōga cried out, grabbing for Ranma’s drink and dunking it at his face. Thinking fast as another loud thump sounded out and the first bits of the wall fell away, Ranma quickly pulled Ryōga’s pile of clothes out from under the newly-revealed housecat and stashed it into her pack.

Just as Akane split Ryōga’s food between her and Nabiki, the wall exploded.

A fierce young woman stepped through the hole. She was only slightly shorter than Nabiki, with brightly colored hair down to her hips, and two fierce-looking chúi in her hands.

“Hibiki zài nǎlǐ?” the intruder asked nobody in particular.

Chapter Text

Shocked silence met Shampoo. She stopped in thought for a moment.

“Where is Hibiki?” the intruder haltingly tried again.

“I know a Hibiki, but I don’t know where he’s at,” Ranma answered first, shrugging in an only slightly exaggerated manner to aid comprehension.

Àirén here. Shanpu know.”

“Well, he’s not here here,” Ranma insisted as she held he-who-was-not-there in her lap.

“Who are you anyway and why do you want to know where Hibiki is?” Nabiki asked.

“Ah, nǐ hǎo,” the girl replied in greeting. “I Shanpu, come from Nǚjiézú to find husband, not come back without.”

“Well, Shampoo, you’re welcome to walk back home with us, have some tea while you wait for Ry—Hibiki to return,” Nabiki offered, glancing at the cat in her girlfriend’s lap that was freaking out at the idea.

Xièxiè,” Shampoo accepted with a nod of the head and a small smile.

As the girls took their bags and left, the owner of the café cried out about his wall.

Later, at the Tendō compound, Kasumi served a cup of tea to the visiting Chinese girl, while the others were off doing their own things; Akane was practicing in the dojo, Nabiki and Ranma were in the former’s room. Kasumi was of course fully aware what the two got up to, including Ranma’s somewhat conflicting outlooks on all things sex. Ryōga, still a cat, warily sat and watched from the other side of the table.

And the parents? Nobody quite knew.

Shampoo thanked Kasumi for the tea and sat in thought. She knew not to blindly assume anything about Japanese customs, but didn’t think bringing one’s cat to a skating rink was something people normally did. She wasn’t so blind as to not notice how this particular cat had reacted to the idea of her coming home with these girls, nor how the trail of the young man she’d tracked all the way from China had suddenly disappeared in ways that the stories about wanderers such as he couldn’t account for.

And those stories accounted for a lot.

Just a moment after Kasumi disappeared into the kitchen again, Shampoo muttered to herself as she took her teacup in hand. “Great-grandmother, please don’t look down on me if I’m wrong.”

Within seconds, Ryōga ran up the stairs, naked and afraid, and stumbled into Nabiki’s room.

“She knows! She knows! Ranma hide me!” he cried out, hiding his shame behind the nearest sufficiently-large object — the office chair.

It was only then that he noticed Ranma and Nabiki weren’t wearing much more than he, their only source of modesty a single bedsheet.

They interrupted their cuddling to stare at their guest. This would’ve been the third time in the week that he’d come in without knocking, and the second time one of them was naked (he’d walked in on Ranma bathing), but it was certainly the first time he’d caught them in the act. Ranma’s ears flattened against her head, shock clear on her face, as it was on Ryōga’s.

Nabiki evidently relished the situation and was only pretending to be shocked.

…I never stood a chance anyway.

In dead silence, Ryōga turned towards the backpack in the corner, extracted his shorts and pants, and put them on as the girls watched. He shuffled out and down the stairs, stopping in the doorway to the living room with his head down.

Shampoo was just about to run to her àirén when she felt almost physically repelled by something. A force, unseen but clearly and easily felt, radiated from the lost boy. If Shampoo focused, she could see the very world around Ryōga look diminished.

Clearly, this boy—this young man, was horribly broken. He didn’t need to be hauled anywhere against his will for marriage just because some law required it. This man needed love. He’d come back to China willingly and happy… but only after what ailed him was fixed.

Shampoo steeled herself and walked, pushing against the walls of despair given form. She reached the young man, and softly took his head in her hands.

“Ryōga?”

He didn’t respond.

,” she started, then caught herself. Ryōga had to understand her words.

“You I love.”

Ryōga promptly embraced Shampoo and openly cried into her shoulder. With an audible noise like a fierce gust of wind, the emanations came to an end, knocking over various small objects like the tea service on the table, and jingling the little bells in Shampoo’s hair.

Ranma and the Tendō sisters watched from the hall and kitchen, and all four couldn’t help but smile.

“That’s some reaction,” Nabiki joked, poking her girlfriend in the side. “Can you do that?”

“Don’t think so. Ryōga’s always been a bit over the top about his feelings but this is a new low.”

“And a high, I’d think.”

Akane turned to face them, her smile quickly turning to a serious but mild frown. “That’s all well and good but why are you walking around naked? Even he got pants on at least!”

“Because Ranma’s a little pervert and I like the way you react, sis.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.”

“Mostly. Now shut up and watch the romance.”

“Y’know,” Ranma whispered as she watched her childhood friend find love, “what he did kinda reminded me of this technique I read about once or twice.”

Nabiki glanced at her for all of half a second. “Hmm?”

“Something miners and such would use. I forgot what it’s called, but it involves channeling your depression or some such. They’d use it to escape from cave-ins.”

“Did you try it?”

“Just once, couldn’t do it. Figure I’m not sad enough.”

“Look at that, the great Ranma Saotome can’t do a thing,” Akane scoffed.

“Love ya too, brick.”

Later, when the parents had returned, it was decided to shuffle around the visitors’ sleeping arrangements. Ranma would sleep in Nabiki’s room, something they were both quite happy to agree with.

Genma eagerly agreed to the change, as that would free up a space in the guest room and let him finally sleep in the same room as his wife.

Nobody expected the old master to return with any hurry, so they got some extra paper wall panels out to split Happōsai’s room in two, turning one part into a sleeping space for Ryōga and his new sorta-kinda wife. It wouldn’t do to give him reason to leave — he mightn’t come back for weeks!

That evening, when Ranma prepared for bed, she looked in the mirror. Her greatest fear looked back.

Chapter Text

Ranma Saotome was a big girl. She didn’t scream… often. Though what she saw looking back at her in the mirror was as frightening as anything, she most certainly did not scream. Silently, with her eyes closed tight, she stumbled back, surprising the girl watching from the bed.

“What is it?” asked Nabiki. “Is there something on your face?”

“Biki… I’m gonna have to admit something,” Ranma started as she sat down on the bed next to her girlfriend. “You’d think I’m not afraid of anything. Most people do.”

“Yeah, I can imagine. Strong, well-trained girl like you, you’re just about untouchable. You could take shortcuts through dark alleys and come out just fine.”

“Thanks,” Ranma smiled. “But it’s better to not have to find out.”

“You are afraid of something then? Something you just saw?”

Ranma nodded slowly.

“Remember what I said about me and… well, sex? Why we’ve been building up?”

“‘Course I do. You said it ‘kinda scared’ you, right? So just now you were really scared?”

“I never properly explained why, didn’t I?”

Nabiki pondered it for a moment. “I don’t think you have.”

“I’m… I’m scared of losing myself to this form,” Ranma admitted, gazing at her clawed hands. She got back up and stood in front of the mirror again. “When I looked just now, I didn’t see a girl with cat ears.”

“You saw something worse?” Nabiki guessed.

“I saw a girl cat, I guess? An animal on two legs, eyes that looked like she’d… mate with anyone, kill whoever resists.”

“Jeez.”

“Okay, maybe I was raised a little repressed compared to other girls. I won’t hold that against my folks.”

“That’s quite a mature thing to say, y’know?”

“And maybe in this form I’m more open instead… but—” Ranma paused to take a breath, then almost shouted at her reflection, “I’m afraid of becoming something worse!”

She held that expression for a tense moment.

“Ti—Ranma?”

“Were those always there?” Ranma pondered in a half-whisper.

“Were what?”

Ranma reached for her mouth and poked at her teeth. “Thefe fanf. I have fanf naw.”

“You have what now? Fangs?”

“Fangs,” Ranma confirmed, shaking as she stepped back from the mirror. “I don’t recall having fangs before.”

“Oh c’mere Tiger,” Nabiki said as she grabbed her lover and pulled her onto the bed.

“But—”

“You always had those, silly!” Nabiki laughed.

“Wha—really?”

“Yeah! When your dad tossed you into the pond back then? I was a little taken by your tail at the time but Akane was sort of afraid of your nails. She’s had plenty time to notice your teeth changed too, and mentioned it to me. I confirmed it for myself when we made out the next day.

“So don’t worry about your curse form getting worse, Tiger. Worry, or rather focus, on finding a nice balance in how you act.”

Completely unbidden, Ryōga popped his head in. “Also, there’s nothing wrong with having fangs, girls,” he quipped as he flashed them a toothy smile, revealing the sharp canines he’d had since he lost his baby teeth.

“Ryōga, what the hell are you doing here?” Ranma demanded, brandishing a slipper.

“I heard you shout, so I came to check. Things seemed okay but, you know… but seriously, don’t worry about it. They suit you.”

He left and closed the door right before the slipper hit, and made a point to make a bit of noise on the stairs, on the way down. There was a cry at the end, the sound of water, a metallic crash, and a meow, in that specific order.

“Stupid Ryōga,” Ranma started.

“Ruining the moment like that,” Nabiki finished.

“Eh, it happens. I’m just glad, y’know? It’s a relief, I guess.”

“So, Tiger… do you want to celebrate this little reveal?” Nabiki asked, teasingly taking hold of her pajama top.

“Y’know what, Biki-chan?”

“Mmm?”

“Rawr!” Ranma exclaimed as she pushed Nabiki down on her bed. Eagerly but carefully, she pulled up Nabiki’s top, first exposing her stomach. Leaning over her, Ranma crawled back a bit and bent her head down to kiss and softly lick the middle sister’s trim belly. Nabiki was glad, though she already knew, that Ranma’s tongue was pretty much the same in both forms — they’d had ample opportunity to confirm such in their earlier make-out sessions. She moaned softly in appreciation of what her girlfriend did to her, and felt her very core slowly heating up.

Ever so gently, Ranma nuzzled further upwards, pushing Nabiki’s pajama top up as far as it went with her nose as she went, tracing wet spirals on and between her lover’s ribs, until she reached the bottom of Nabiki’s breasts.

“Mmm, do it,” Nabiki invited, pulling her pajama top up, revealing her ample breasts. Ranma happily nuzzled them from below, then leaned forward a bit so she could reach. Eagerly, she kissed the breast in front of her, taking the other in her hand. As Ranma kissed the exposed flesh and lapped around Nabiki’s nipple but not quite reaching it, Nabiki reached for the clasps of Ranma’s Chinese shirt and fumbled to open them, shivering a little every time her lover got closer to the stiff button in the center of her breast, or when she squeezed the other one just a little bit hard.

“Is this nice for ya?” Ranma asked, her hot breath unintentionally teasing Nabiki’s nipple. Nabiki moaned in reply, then reached for Ranma’s head and pulled her down a little. Ranma, getting the hint, switched to licking and suckling on the aching nipple presented to her, and tweaking the other breast’s between her fingers.

Nabiki, eager for more, raised a knee to grind against Ranma’s covered slit, paying no heed to their both still wearing pants. She didn’t even have to be particularly careful, knowing that Ranma’s crotch was at least half as sturdy as the rest of her — she’d seen Ranma take a direct hit from Ryōga, who’d spent the next ten minutes apologizing profusely, even though Ranma pretty much shrugged it off in seconds.

Watching Ryōga take a shot in return (he’d insisted on it, in the name of fairplay) and not even flinch was certainly an amusing memory, but Nabiki had no interest in those matters. Moaning heavily, she ground her knee against Ranma’s crotch, until her lover stopped fondling and kissing her boobs. Ranma sat upright, shrugged off her silk shirt, and pulled off the lightly faded band shirt she wore underneath. If Nabiki hadn’t already seen and gotten used to them, she might’ve been a little jealous at how this girl who was a full head shorter had bigger tits than her… but she had, and loved them about as much as the rest of the horny catgirl’s various body parts, like her toned stomach, which was no six pack, and would look cute from any respectable distance, but was almost three-quarters solid muscle if not more.

The two girls simultaneously shed their pants, revealing a simple light purple number with a bit of lace and a pair of boyshorts, both somewhat wet in the crotch.

“God I’ve waited for this,” Nabiki whispered.

“Mmmyeah… how do we—?”

To answer, Nabiki wrapped her arms around Ranma and pulled her down into a sloppy kiss. Her one hand made its way down to to Ranma’s waist and pulled it down against her, crotch-to-crotch. Hands grabbed around for flesh to hold as their tongues battled for dominance and their clits ground against and around each other, separated only by two insignificant layers of fabric that only got more soaked as time went on.

“Ra— Ranma…”

“Biki?”

“Your fi— fingers… I need something in meee~” Nabiki moaned as she shuffled off her panties. Ranma took the hint and a moment to take off her shorts, then reached down to give her girlfriend what she craved, knowing that she’d get either the same in return, or a firm tail stroking.

Meanwhile, downstairs, Shampoo had been sitting idly in the living room, left there when Ryōga’d suddenly left, when the noise started. She’d retreated to her little closed-off space in the old master’s room but now that she was aware of the noise she couldn’t tune it out any more. Just when Shampoo had her pants off, her husband-to-be walked into the room.

“…Yī zhī māo yě hěn hǎo,” Shampoo muttered as she reached for the black cat with a bandana, that had frozen in mild shock at the pantsless warrior.

Ryōga could think of only one thing.

I’m done for.

Chapter Text

Meals at the Tendō Dojo had settled easily into a new status quo. First, it was just Sōun and his three daughters enjoying a calm meal together, made by the eldest sister. Then Ranma, Genma, and Nodoka joined in. There was now friendly bickering between Ranma and Akane, teasing between Ranma and Nabiki, and quite regularly fighting between Ranma and Genma as the father tried to steal parts of his daughter’s breakfast and called it training. And often enough she’d be in her catgirl form after getting dunked into the koi pond during pre-breakfast training.

Then, a Ryōga was added. Those times he was around, he happily joined in breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Sōun was happy enough to have him there.

And then came Ryōga’s betrothed from China, and with her a reason for Ryōga to stay put and as such join the family meals much more regularly. Shampoo, much to Kasumi’s delight and relief, tended to bring her own food.

Today, the warrior girl was missing, and Kasumi may not have been the first to notice, but she did bring it up first. “Y’know, I haven’t seen Shampoo around lately.”

Ranma looked up from her rice bowl. “What do you mean, Kasumi?”

“She’s usually here in the afternoon but lately she’s been out until at least the evening,” Kasumi explained. “I wonder what happened?”

“You mean besides getting her intimates sandpapered?” Ranma half-jokingly guessed. As she’d hoped, the phrase unsettled her father enough to make him not try to steal the bit of fish that was rightly Ranma’s. Ryōga, for his part, flushed red.

“Ranma!” he and Nodoka both cried out. “No, it wasn’t that. That didn’t even happen,” Ryōga finished on his own.

“Sure it didn’t,” Ranma teased, sticking her tongue out and licking the air.

“Oh, where did I go wrong,” Nodoka muttered into her sleeve.

“Nodoka, dear… that line would work better if you were in your adult form,” Genma said. “And didn’t chuckle.”

“Ah well, I’m sure we’ll find out what she’s up to soon enough,” Akane offered as she finished her bowl and put it back down. “Seconds, please?”

“Famous last words, sis,” Nabiki snarked. “Famous last words. Let’s just finish breakfast and get ready for school.”

Later, Ranma, Nabiki, Akane, and Ryōga made their way back home after school. Nabiki rode on Ranma’s back, though she had made a preference for bridal-style quite clear, as Ranma and Ryōga took the high road — that is, they ran and jumped across the rooftops.

Akane had tried, but had fallen behind (at one point literally) and had taken to simply running on street level, which suited her well enough as her school uniform wasn’t particularly conducive to high-altitude parkour. She, Nabiki, and Ranma had in fact agreed to go on a proper training run later, with all three of them in pants.

How Ranma had convinced the school staff to allow her to not wear the girls’ uniform all those weeks ago was beyond Akane. The only concession made was that Ranma would wear the boys’ uniform pants and even that she did rarely.

Stranger still was how easily Ryōga had integrated into the school. The leading theory held that defeating Tatewaki Kunō was just about all one needed to do nowadays, but then Ryōga disproved that by somehow not running into the guy at all.

Ryōga didn’t slow down at all, except to let Ranma catch up so he could follow her. As such, it surprised the youngest sister to see him stop altogether. On second glance, she could see why — another person had appeared in his way. Akane quickly looked around to confirm nobody was watching, and jumped up to a roof nearby.

The newcomer was an old woman. Very old, from the looks of it, with long white hair trailing down far behind her as she balanced on a cane half again as gnarled as she.

Wǒ zhǎodàole nǐ, nǚxù,” said the old crone.

“Elder,” Ryōga replied in greeting, with a little bow. “You know I don’t understand Chinese.”

The crone laughed softly. “Of course you don’t. Still, dear Shanpu was not mistaken in her report. Here you are… and so are we.”

“We? You and Shampoo or am I missing someone…?”

He knows this old woman, Akane considered. Called her ‘elder’... she must be from Shampoo’s village.

“Indeed you are, and she missed you.”

Before Ryōga could ask, a second figure jumped up onto the roof behind him and, much to both Akane and Ryōga’s surprise, hugged him tightly from behind.

“Hibiki,” a youthful voice chirped in Ryōga’s ear.

“Ah! Candy,” Ryōga recognized. He slipped out of the hug, turned around and gave the first warrior he’d met a warm and friendly hug in return. “Akane,” he called out, “this is the girl I told you about, my friend Candy from the village!”

“My name Kànjì!” said girl corrected.

As Candy bowed to Akane, and a mildly confused Akane returned the honor, Ryōga turned back to the elder. “So why are you here, Elder Cologne?”

“To watch over Shanpu and her husband-to-be, of course.”

“Right…”

“If it were anybody else we’d probably bring you back to the village once you’re officially wed, but experience tells us that’s not exactly feasible.”

“As much as I’m loathe to admit it.”

“So you do admit you suck at following directions?” Ranma said, having noticed Ryōga and Akane weren’t following her any more and doubled back. “Who’s this ol’ prune?” she asked as Nabiki dismounted her.

“I am Elder Koron of Nǚjiézú, child, here to keep watch over my great-granddaughter and her husband-to-be.”

“Huh, neat. Then that must be Sign Language Girl over there?”

“Her name is—”

“Candy, I know.”

“Show a little respect, girl!” Cologne cried as she shot forward and rapped Ranma over the head with her cane. “Interrupting an old woman like that.”

“Ah geez what’s that stick made of,” Ranma muttered, nursing a new and very sore spot on her forehead.

“Anyway, you might be wondering where my great-granddaughter’s been running off to lately.”

Ryōga and the girls all nodded in agreement.

“We’ve opened a restaurant to support our stay here,” Cologne explained, pointing at a building not too far from the dojo. “Shanpu is our primary waitress and occasional delivery girl, and Kanji fills in for her and cleans.”

“That explains why Shampoo smells so nice lately,” Ryōga pondered out loud. “I was wondering why I smelled shumai.”

“That our special yesterday,” Candy confirmed.

“So should you ever feel like some good Chinese food, you’ll know where to go!” Cologne cackled. “Kànjì, gēn wǒ lái.

As Cologne and Candy ran off in one direction, Ryōga and the girls prepared to continue in the other. Ranma crouched a little to allow Nabiki to climb onto her back, but she pulled her back upright by her pigtail and jumped into her arms instead.

“So. Shampoo as a restaurant delivery girl, huh?” Nabiki asked. “There’s no way that would end in pain for anyone, right?”

“You never know,” Ryōga answered with a shrug, unseen by the others. “I didn’t see any bikes in the village, and I can’t imagine her running for a longer-distance delivery.”

“I can. In fact, there she is right now,” Ranma countered, looking off to the side. On street level, Shampoo was indeed quickly catching up on Candy and Cologne, by bike.

“I don’t think she intends to brake,” Nabiki remarked.

With a loud clang, Shampoo all but parked on top of her fellow warrior. Ranma paused in her run just long enough to see Candy stand up unhurt, impressed at how such resilience was apparently common in their village. She did not stay around long enough to hear them argue.

“Ryōga shì wǒ de zhàngfū, xiǎo jiàn rén!

Shanpu, bié tānxīn...

It would’ve been worrisome if they weren’t clearly joking.

Chapter Text

She’d gone to sleep nestled in Nabiki’s arms, she knew that much for certain, yet there was no Nabiki here. She was quite certain she was in her human form at the time, yet she could clearly feel her tail swishing nervously behind her, and her ears swivel around as various sounds drifted by.

Wind. Forgotten melodies. Kunō spitting rap lyrics in the distance.

She got up and made her way out of the room. Her reflection in the mirror was static. On the other side of the door was no hallway, only a single staircase leading up to a purple beach.

Kunō sang about Akane leading him around on a leash.

The sky was a shade of dark green, much like a sky never ought be, and the corrugated steel floor tickled the bottom of her feet like so much freshly-mown grass.

Looking around, she could see a group of hills nearby, in the distance, tracing the silhouette of her lover. In a mere five steps, she’d already reached the butt and stood there to look for other landmarks. A lake of molten candy to the left, a small forest on the other left, and dead ahead on Nabiki’s shoulder, a figure.

She approached the figure in a single step. The figure rose to meet her eye, and she froze. It was the monster cat she was afraid of becoming, sharply defined against the purple sky, and glaring at her.

It meowed, and she knew not what it said. She only knew to get away, but no matter how many steps she took, she could not leave the shoulder.

Every step she took, every breath she took, more ripples appeared below the surface of the candy lake.

When she finally got away from the monster cat, mostly by sliding down Nabiki’s back and landing back on her butt, a new figure slowly rose down from the lake, bringing a feeling of hope and cheese.

A strapping young man, dressed in fine silks. Long black hair tied back in a pigtail. He was the ideal martial artist, as she’d considered a few years ago. A little vanity never hurt noone.

In the distance, Nabiki’s room folded into the staircase. Her office chair was expulsed with a deafening burp.

The ideal confidently stepped onto Nabiki’s hip and strode towards the monster still standing on the shoulder.

Tiun nar klunaerhuw,” said the monster.

Nisur’el, bhalti ouna nar biri’esew,” the ideal replied.

The words made less than no sense to her, but she felt reassured by the ideal’s reply nonetheless. The feeling lasted all of a millisecond (insofar as time had meaning) as the monster stood to its full height and launched itself towards the ideal.

She was pushed away much like the trees of the forest from the shockwave of their first strike and fell onto the candy lake. As much as she’d like to help fight the monster, it and the ideal were clearly several levels above her. Sparks flew with every hit, the octarine sky turning to bursts of static.

The forest burned for no discernable reason at all, filling the yellow sky with ashen snowflakes. At least Kunō had stopped spitting fire, too busy being on fire.

Nabiki stood up, leaving the ideal and the monster fighting in the air, and stood next to her.

Laeamir nuri aiskli’aw, tiun fahr shigrisena.

“I don’t know what you said,” she wanted to say, but no sound came out.

It didn’t matter.

She knew what Nabiki had meant.

Somehow.

She watched the ideal and the monster fight. They moved around each other in a vaguely circular motion, when suddenly the monster was flung down into the lake, shattering its glassy surface. Looking at the monster spasming under the surface, she could see her own reflection. Every time she blinked, it looked different.

Her usual human self. Her catgirl form. Herself, but with shiny black hair. The ideal. Herself with two pigtails, a simple ponytail like she used to have before she went on the vacation that started it all, various other variations on the very theme of Ranma… but never the monster cat.

Every one of them shot off to the monster below to strike it, bouncing off and disappearing in the distance.

Kunō tried, but bounced off the lake.

The ideal floated down to the lake surface. It was only now that she noticed that now that it’d shattered it was no longer candy, but as the ideal sank below the surface, she was surprised to see him disappear entirely. Every centimeter of his body that was below the surface was simply gone. Still, even after completely submerging, the ideal somehow raised one hand back out.

The ideal gave a thumbs up.

She and Nabiki returned the gesture as the hand disappeared again.

Casting one last look at the monster curling up into a ball out on the bottom of the lake, she and Nabiki embraced and hugged.

Nabiki smelled of apricots and chocolate chip cookies.

Fheira.

Again, she tried to say that she didn’t understand this strange dream language.

Once more, the sky turned to static, and stayed that way.

Again, no sound came out.

“Wake up.”

She was surprised to hear regular people words, even if they were oddly muffled.

“Ranma, wake up.”

The lake broke once more.

In fact, the world broke. The sky shattered as all the grassy metal dissolved, and all went black.

Ranma’s eyes snapped open.

“You’re kinda crushing me, Tiger,” Nabiki whispered, with but a hint of discomfort.

“Ah, ‘scuse me.”

“It’s all good. Sleep with a little powerhouse martial artist like you, Tiger, is kinda asking to be woken up like this.”

“Yeah, well. I had a real weird dream.”

“Maybe you could tell me about it during lunch. I thought we could check out that restaurant Shampoo works at.”

Once more that day, yet for the first time, Nabiki and Ranma embraced and hugged.

Chapter Text

At the end of a rather uneventful school day, Ranma, Nabiki, and Akane stood at the gate to Furinkan High, the Tendō sisters in their school uniforms and Ranma in her typical Chinese silks.

“I dunno ‘bout you girls but I’d better run,” the redhead started as she adjusted her shirt and tapped her feet to the ground. “Got some things to do, places to be.”

Nabiki fussed over a clasp that her girlfriend had missed. “We’ll see you later at Shampoo’s restaurant, right?”

“Of course. Will Ryōga be there?”

“I don’t think so. He left last night.”

“Yeah, he won’t be back until next week at least.”

“Poor Shampoo,” Akane interjected, her words laced in mild disapproval.

“Eh, she’ll be okay. See ya there!” Ranma dismissed and shot off, jumping onto the first house across the street, intent on taking the shortest path to where she needed to be. On ground level, the Tendō sisters walked at a much more placid pace and with several more turns. They wouldn’t have acknowledged Tatewaki Kunō when he walked by if it weren’t for him stopping Akane, but Nabiki (much to the surprise of everyone present) bought him off with a single photograph. The much taller young man left them with a lewd image burning a hole in his shirt pocket, soon disappearing behind a corner.

“What did you even give him?” Akane asked. “What was that photograph?”

“Just a picture of Ranma-honey from the reject pile.”

“You have a reject pile?”

“Yeah I do. That one just barely didn’t make it through quality control. I figure if it got him off your back he could have that one for free.”

Akane stared at her big sister with an eyebrow raised in disbelief. “Sis… nothing is free with you.”

“You’re absolutely right, sis. I plan to have a lot of fun with Kuno-baby later on.”

Meanwhile, maybe a little before all that, Ranma jumped from rooftop to rooftop as she did so often. But even when you do something basically all the time, there’s always the risk of failure. Indeed, sequestered in his proverbial control room, Murphy flashed a wicked grin and pressed a button. Ranma landed on a loose roof shingle, which slipped out from underneath her foot, and she fell down.

Were she in her catgirl form, she would’ve had the instincts to turn around and land in a way that would minimize the damage, if not neutralize it. But she was human, and hit the ground head first. Fortunately, she was still Ranma Saotome — it would take more than landing on her head to take her out.

...is what she would’ve said. The blow was still hard enough to put her down for a good few minutes.

To make matters worse, who else would pass the alley she’d landed in but the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High, Tatewaki Kunō, 17 years old?

“Ah, but how it pains my very soul to think I would let that shrew Nabiki distract me from my one love with the image of my other. Verily, I should seek to meditate on them both—”

A groan from the alley interrupted the swordsman’s thoughts.

“Forsooth, a cry of help from yon alley?”

Brushing his ruminations of his red-haired tigress and the fair Akane Tendō aside, Kunō dashed into the alleyway to find one of the two on the ground, with her head at an uncomfortable angle.

“By my family’s honor. The red-haired tigress Saotome lays here, the very concept of the sleeping beauty made flesh. Verily, she ought be awoken by a fair prince’s kiss of true love. Alas, a noble samurai needs suffice.”

When Ranma stirred, carefully and still somewhat painfully opening her eyes, the first thing she saw was Kunō’s face way too close to her own, his lips puckered as if…

The candy lake bubbled. A pair of shining golden eyes shone from the darkness at the bottom.

Kunō was almost upon Ranma’s lips. Her eyes were wide open, but her body was in an awkward position, with her blood all sunk into her head. She was too disoriented and frankly shocked to react.

A familiar figure erupted from the boiling candy, yowling as she broke the surface.

“Mroooow…”


The sisters had just caught up and just approached a particular alley when suddenly a familiar swordsman was bodily flung out and landed in front of them a mangled mess. Kunō’s shirt was completely wasted, and there were several nasty-looking claw marks all over his chest and face.

“Holy shit, Kunō-baby? What happened to—”

“Mrow!”

“That came from the alley,” Akane realized. “Kinda sounded like…”

“Ranma-honey doesn’t meow, sis. It’s probably just an angry cat. Here, I’ll show ya.”

“Are you sure?” Akane asked as her sister turned towards the alley. “I mean, that cat did just tear up Kunō-sempai.”

“Yes, but he’s Kunō.”

“Okay fair point. So what do we have—”

“Oh,” the sisters simultaneously spoke as they saw what had ruined Kunō.

Ranma Saotome, sitting in a very cat-like pose despite appearing completely human, trying to wash herself but being confounded by her silken clothes. When she noticed the newcomers, she yowled again and lunged. The sisters both screamed, Akane slightly more so, as Ranma pounced upon Akane and pushed her down on the floor, butt first.

When they stopped screaming, they noticed one very important and (to them) surprising thing: instead of tearing Akane to shreds, Ranma had forced herself onto Akane’s lap, contently purring and lightly massaging the girl’s well-developed thighs.

Nabiki, feeling somewhat safe once more, glanced streetward and found Kunō missing. She quickly decided he must’ve recovered and slunk off.

“Well, this is a new level of fuckiness right here.”

“Nabiki, mind your language.”

Nabiki scoffed and carefully reached out her hand. “You’re one to talk, sis. But we might as well bring Ranmya to the restaurant with us like this. The elder ’ll know what’s up.”

She carefully petted Ranma just behind where her ears would be if she were in catgirl form, quite familiar with her girlfriend’s body.

“C’mon Tiger, let’s go visit Shampoo and those other friendly Chinese folks Ryōga lured in.”

“Mrew!” Ranma happily replied as she hopped off Akane’s lap and rubbed her head against Nabiki’s leg.

“Wait up,” Akane said. “What did you call her?”

“Ranma?”

“No you didn’t. You said ‘Ranmya’.”

“Slip of the tongue. Let’s just go.”

Akane stopped and looked at the redhead rubbing up against her sister. “With her like that?”

Nabiki shrugged. “I don’t see why not. Life is strange enough already here in the Furinkan neighborhood, even before the Saotome family came. Also, I’m getting hungry.”

Indeed, only a few passersby seemed to take notice of Ranma’s odd quadrupedal gait as she walked with her mate. Most only turned their heads in mild surprise, some stopped for a moment, some audibly questioned what they say. One small child wanted to “pet the big kitty.”

“See, sis? Nothing to worry about,” Nabiki proclaimed with her typical smirk. Akane shrugged in acceptance, and Ranma meowed.

Soon enough, the girls reached Shampoo’s restaurant, and had to stop and goggle at its name. Neko Hanten. Akane wondered to herself, was this elder Cologne’s idea and if so why, or did Shampoo have a say in it, in which case was she inspired by Ranma or Ryōga?

When they entered, Shampoo was right there to show them to a seat in an otherwise empty restaurant, save for Cologne and Candy working in the kitchen area.

Jìnlái, jìnlái, Shanpu sisters,” Shampoo said invitingly. “Please, have seat. Be right back to bring menu.” The warrior girl, now clad in a deep pink Chinese-style blouse and pants and a lighter apron. With different colors, it could’ve been something Ranma would wear any day. Shampoo almost turned to fetch the promised menu when she realized something was off, and she knew it wasn’t Ryōga’s absence. “Ranma not here?”

“Mrawwr!”

Shampoo blanched a little at the sound and looked down to find Ranma crouching on the floor, pawing at Shampoo’s legs.

Āi yā! What happen to Ranma? Thought Ranma try not act like cat? Is not even in curse form!”

“Beats me,” Nabiki admitted as she sat down. Akane took a seat clockwise from her and beckoned Ranma over, who mewed happily and hopped onto a third chair counter-clockwise from Nabiki, to Akane’s mild chagrin. “We just found her like this in an alley after she cut Kunō-baby to shreds.”

“Ah. Is idiot sword man okay?”

“No idea, but when I looked over he was already gone so I figure he’ll live. Probably gonna see him in bandages tomorrow at school though. Those cuts looked deep.”

“I’ll have the shrimp noodles, please,” Akane interrupted.

Nabiki shrugged. “Make that two.”

Nabiki looked at Ranma as she tried to wash her face, one loose-fisted hand held in front of her mouth as she licked the back, then rubbing it on her hair and repeating the process.

“Hold up. Akane, do you see that?”

“I see Ranma grooming, why? What should I see?” Akane countered.

“Look closely,” Nabiki urged as she leaned over to do so. Akane followed, intently tracking Ranma’s hand. “Trimmed nails.”

“But… she cut Kunō,” Akane confirmed. “Those were claw marks.”

“I can’t help but notice you found the mystery element,” Cologne piped up. The girls cried out in surprise. “Ohohoh, the small pleasures in an old woman’s life.”

“You know what’s wrong with Ranma then, Elder?” Nabiki guessed.

“Sure do, child. The girl positively reeks of the Cat Fist. From what Shampoo told me, apparently that fool Genma wanted to try all sorts of questionable training methods on the girl…”

“Yeah,” Akane confirmed. “Mrs Saotome told us about that, and when Shampoo wanted to know why they would visit Jusenkyō we told her in turn.”

“Right, so the Cat Fist is one of those things that the lady wouldn’t allow. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me if she killed the old fool on the spot if he did manage to put Ranma through it.”

“Is it that bad?” Nabiki pensively asked, nodding to Shampoo as she put down two steaming bowls of noodles and a plate of lightly grilled fish.

“Oh, just thinking about it gives me chills,” Cologne replied, “If the old fool’d done it, he ought to be in prison for it. But considering the facts of the girl’s curse, she clearly hasn’t been through the Cat Fist training. Still, the way she acts now is certainly very much like it.”

“How’s that?” Nabiki asked, watching Ranma devour her fishy treats between listening to Cologne and eating her noodles.

“From what I know of it, those who survive the training end up acting like the cats they’ve come to fear. Of course, the girl fears no cat…”

“She fears becoming more like one, though,” Nabiki interjected. “Or rather, feared to? She told me a little about a dream she had during breakfast, said she’d tell me more while we were here. Something about getting over it.” She paused to pat her girlfriend on the head. “Didn’t you, Tiger?”

“Mreew!”

Akane shifted in her seat and muttered through a mouthful of noodles. “I want head pats too, dammit.”

“So what’s the deal with the claws, Elder?”

“Simple, child. Those were a form of attack,” Cologne stated plainly. “Only confirms that this is closely related to the Cat Fist though.”

“Ki attack?” Akane spoke up, forgetting her meal. “Like the whole energy projectiles thing, flaring auras and all that?”

Cologne cackled a little. “Child, you’ve been reading too many comic books.”

“Oh.”

Of course I meant energy projectiles and flaring auras.”

Nabiki, to her credit, didn’t even drop her chopsticks. “And all that?”

“Hmm-hmm. The girl projected her out her fingertips to enhance and compensate, and the blustering wannabe took it full force.”

“Is that something she could learn to do while… not like this?”

“Why shouldn’t she, child?”

“Could I?” Akane asked with her eyes full of hope.

“Sure. I think it’d be quite a challenge, though. For you and the girl… though maybe not quite as much for her?”

Akane knew in her heart that the insult was only as she perceived it to be, but it still stung to hear. Still, one of the precepts of her father’s and Mr. Saotome’s schools was to take any challenge presented. She cracked her knuckles and smirked. “Challenge accepted, Elder.”

Much to the sisters’ surprise, Ranma growled in a very similar tone, her serious expression only marred by the remains of a fish sticking out of her mouth.

Holy crap, Nabiki thought. I thought she only meowed like that because of the pats but I’m starting to believe she might actually still understand us.

Chapter Text

The two Tendō sisters and Cologne sat and finished their noodles, Nabiki carefully watching Ranma lick the plate clean.

“As much fun as it is to watch the girl make a fool of herself, it’s about time she woke up. Shanpu,” Cologne called out, “fetch a glass of water, if you would.”

“Yes, great grandmother!” Shampoo acknowledged from her spot behind the counter. She quickly turned around and turned up the “cold” tap, then returned to the table with the glass in hand.

“Kindly pour it out over the girl’s head, child.”

As Cologne hoped would happen, the shock of transforming snapped Ranma out of her altered state, exchanging acting like a cat for merely looking like one. For a few seconds, she sat there and blinked in confusion.

“…What happened? How’d I get here?”

“What’s the last thing you remember, girl?” asked the elder.

Ranma twitched an ear in thought. “I fell off a roof, musta fallen bad cos I think I knocked myself out. Then I found Kunō hoverin’ over me all kissy-like… then it’s all blank,” she recalled with a violent shudder at the end.

“What happened next, girl, was something we’ll consider your survival instincts taking over. You were in a mental state not unlike what the Cat Fist would induce in those who lived through its training.”

“Ah yeah, that. Never expected Mom to kick Pops’ ass like that…”

Nabiki and Akane exchanged a fearful glance. Uncle Genma actually proposed the Cat Fist training?!

“Anyway girl,” Cologne dismissed, “I have a proposal for you. Your cat-like state has revealed a potential for the ability to perform techniques.”

Ranma perked up, sufficiently distracted from the fact that she had a small plate in front of her and the others had big bowls.

“You mean like energy projectiles, flaring auras and all that?”

Cologne most certainly did not cackle. The sisters on the other hand didn’t hold back on expressing their shared amusement much at all.

“…Yes, girl. But it’ll be a long time still before we get you to that point. There are many other things you should master before you get to such feats.”

“Aww…”

“But don’t worry. I’ll be happy to get you there,” Cologne affirmed. “Honestly, I’d be even happier if Ryōga were here to join you in your upcoming lessons, but what can you do with that boy?”


Leaving Candy behind to watch for customers, the others went out to the back yard.

“Now then. Ranma my girl, I’ll want to see your speed first,” Cologne started off. She dismounted her staff and took a locket from her robe. “I may have an interesting technique for you to start off with. If you can master it, and use it to take this locket from me, we’ll move on to the next technique.”

“Piece o’ cake, oldtimer.”

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that, girl,” Cologne retorted. “You’re up against hundreds of years of Chinese martial arts techniques.”

“Elder Cologne?” Akane interrupted. “What can I do?”

Cologne disregarded the cocky catgirl to study Akane for a minute. “Hm… You have potential, but you need more discipline.” She turned to Shampoo. “Shanpu, guide her through some of your kata. That’ll put young Tendō on track.”

“Akane come with Shanpu to other side of yard, train you,” Shampoo said to Akane, who duly followed the warrior. Nabiki was content to stay near the back entrance to the restaurant, watching the proceedings.

“Are you ready, girl?” Cologne challenged. “Come and take it!”

With a fierce cry, Ranma closed the distance between her and the diminutive elder, quickly grabbing at the locket hanging from the elder’s neck. She wasn’t very surprised that the old woman would fight back, if at all -- she was more surprised at the speed with which her grabby hands were deflected. Within seconds, Ranma was at her limit. She couldn’t move her arms any faster. Her hop away from the target signaled as much.

“Not bad, girl. Not bad at all… to start with. Let’s take a quick break and I’ll show you how it’s done.”

Ranma rubbed her arms as she and Cologne watched Akane and Shampoo run through a routine. It was, to Ranma’s eyes, much more graceful than Akane’s usual -- a fact readily apparent from the regular little mistakes and jerks in her movements. Akane’s usual kata were fiercer than this, putting out more power. A style that worked fine against a few dozen lower-level foes. Against a hundred, she’d be pushing it. Against trained foes moreso.

Every so often, if the mistake was particularly bad, Shampoo would interrupt and correct the mistake, to the best of her linguistic ability.

“That’s impressive, now that I take the time to look,” Ranma admitted.

“She’s not the village champion for nothing.”

“I was talkin’ ‘bout Akane.”

“Oh. Would you like to see how to get through my defenses and grab that locket?”

Ranma nodded. “Hm-hm.”

“Alright then. Watch this,” the elder said as she whipped up a small campfire, right in the middle of the yard. “This is a rather ancient method, that the technique it’ll teach you is named after.”

Ranma watched with rapt attention as Cologne produced a bag of chestnuts and threw them into the flames.

Shampoo and Akane stopped their practice to watch, with Shampoo especially looking forward as she knew what was coming.

“We gonna be roastin’ chestnuts now?”

“Not quite, girl. Watch very carefully,” Cologne repeated. After but a second delay, her little old lady arms became all but a blur as she extracted every single chestnut from the campfire. After but a few scant seconds, she had all of them in her hands, with not a single burn on her skin, not a thread of her robe’s sleeves singed. “Care to try it?”

“Ah, is legendary technique, huǒ zhōng tiānjīn gānlì quán,” Shampoo reverently spoke.

“What’s that mean?” Akane asked.

“Umm… ‘Heavenly Chestnut Fist’?” Shampoo offered.

“Heavenly Chestnut Fist, huh?” Ranma confirmed as she tossed the half-baked chestnuts back in the flames and took off her Chinese overshirt. “Well, that locket’s as good as snatched.”

Before Ranma could begin to even try, the group was interrupted by Candy’s appearance. “Elder, is visitor here for Ranma and sisters.”

“Well, let them through,” Cologne ordered. “Let’s see what this visitor needs.”

Candy returned a moment later, bringing Kasumi with her to the yard.

“Sis,” Nabiki was first to react. “Why are you here?”

Kasumi fidgeted with her skirt. “I have a problem that I need your help with, involving an… umm… unwanted suitor, let’s call them that.”

Chapter Text

Nabiki was not the first to react to the news from Kasumi, but Akane’s reaction was merely a protective glowering.

“What do you mean, ‘unwanted suitor’, sis?”

“I mean that this person is quite persistent, and to be entirely honest… he doesn’t look particularly good,” Kasumi started to explain.

“Never took you one as one to judge on appearances,” Nabiki jokingly interrupted.

“Nabiki, please. From what I’ve seen, his actions are at least as repulsive. I think the poor guy must be getting desperate. But regardless, I do not feel the same way about him.”

“So… did you tell him?”

“Of course. That didn’t help much. So I told him I already had a boyfriend,” Kasumi admitted. “Which might not have been the best idea in hindsight.”

“Ah yes. You and Doctor Tōfu,” Nabiki recognized. Behind her, Akane tensed up and swallowed her thoughts. After all, she too had had her eyes on the family doctor for a while now. She quickly buried those thoughts and settled on glaring at Ranma.

Kasumi sighed. “It’s such a shame, really. He’s nice, but every time we meet he’s…”

“Yeah, it’s clear he’d return the feelings on a dime if he could keep his head together. Guess you’re just too beautiful for his senses, sis~”

“But that does leave me with a problem,” Kasumi resumed. “This man… he wants proof. He said he’d only accept that I have a boyfriend if I could prove it was serious. He had this whole test figured out already. I am to go on a date with my boyfriend, and he’ll have spies around to confirm that things are… legitimate.”

“What an asshole,” Ranma called out. “You can’t just force such a thing on someone you claim to love! Can you?”

“No Tiger, you can’t,” Nabiki confirmed. “Sis, you don’t know any boys besides Doc Tōfu who’d be willing to go on a… fake date, don’t you?”

“A fake… no, I know a few boys who would be happy to try. Only, they’d either make a mess of it or think it’s serious, that I’d only call it a fake date because I’m shy or something.”

“You’re not shy,” Akane interrupted. “You’re demure.”

“Akane dear, that’s almost a synonym.”

Cologne suddenly appeared in front of Kasumi, balancing on her staff as always. “I might know a way to help, Miss Tendō.”

“Oh my. What is it?”

“I’m pretty sure our darling Ranma wouldn’t mistake such a date for real, and I’m guessing the challenge of, how’d you say it, ‘not making a mess of it’, would be as welcome as the chance to beat up this unwanted suitor.”

“Hell yeah, I’d give Kas the best damn date-- wait hold on, I’m a girl. I can’t date Kas!”

Cologne cackled for a good ten seconds, basking in the confusion of her audience. “Indeed you are, girl. But when has that sort of thing ever stopped a warrior from my village anyway? We don’t live practically right next door to Jusenkyō for nothing!”

Shampoo snuck off, unnoticed.

“You’re not suggesting to gimme a third curse, are ya?”

“Of course not, girl. You already know what happens when you mix two. Why would anyone even consider throwing the nánnìquán on top of all that?”

“Then what are ya planning?”

“Great-grandmother, I bring bucket and powder mix,” Shampoo reported, having returned holding the items.

“Excellent, Shanpu. I hadn’t even told you to do so.”

“Shanpu know. Thought that was what you planning.”

“You might as well prepare it then, while I explain.”

“Yeah, granny. What’s with this ‘powder mix’?” Ranma asked, indicating the bucket of water that Shampoo was pouring a powder into.

“It’s a product that’s produced for and sold to those who know of Jusenkyō and want to experience what the curses are like in a safer manner. Until the user is splashed again, they’ll effectively have a specific curse. They’re known to completely override existing curses, too.”

“So the plan is to…”

“To turn you temporarily into a man, yes. So you can go on a convincing but fake date with the lovely Ms. Tendō. I see Shanpu is almost done -- Shanpu, hùnhé hǎo!

Dāngrán, zēngzǔmǔ,” Shampoo replied, giving the slightly iridescent water another firm stir.

“Girl, you might want to take your top off,” Cologne suggested, much to the surprise of the Tendō sisters and Ranma alike. “You wouldn’t want to ruin a perfectly good bra.”

“Ah, I see your point,” Ranma conceded as she took off her faded CoCo T-shirt, revealing exactly no bra. She pointedly ignored the quiet “oh my” from Kasumi. “But, can’t ruin a perfectly good bra if you don’t wear one!”

“You really should consider, Ranma,” Kasumi opined, pointedly looking Ranma in the eyes. “When this is over, you’re going shopping with me.”

Nabiki smirked. “Another date so soon after? I didn’t know you had it in you, sis!”

Y’know, I think Tiger’s loosening up a bit. She’s getting bolder in her human form.

“Whatever. Can we just get this show on the road?”

“Let’s. Shanpu?”

At her great grandmother’s command, Shampoo took the bucket and overturned it above Ranma’s head. For a split second, her cat features seemed to come into existence, only to flicker away again as Ranma quickly grew a good head taller and proportionally more muscular. The knot in the loose strip of cloth that she used as a stylish belt around her pants pulled taut.

When the water flow passed, Ranma was physically speaking a girl no longer. In her place stood an undeniably handsome young man, with long black hair tied back into a pigtail.

“You realize of course that if this is permanent, I’ll have to kill you,” Ranma half-jokingly threatened, then grabbed for “his” throat in mild surprise at the sound of “his” voice.

“…Oh my.”

Nabiki stepped up and appreciatively inspected Ranma’s chiseled abs with a finger. “Of course, if our opponent knows Kasumi well enough, he’ll know about Ti-- Ranma. You’re gonna need to do something about your hair, and maybe not react to the name ‘Ranma’...”

“I like ‘Ataru’,” Kasumi helpfully suggested.

“I dunno, sis,” Akane disagreed. “He strikes me as more of a Ryuunosuke.”

“‘Ataru’ will do,” Ranma decided as she took back her shirts. “I’m gonna get changed. Kas… Kasumi, is informal okay?”

“Yes… Ataru.”

As “Ataru” quickly made “his” way back to the dojo, Nabiki teasingly punched Akane in the shoulder (this hurt her more than it hurt Akane). “Thousand yen say this date’s gonna be just fine.”

“I sincerely doubt that. She… he?”

“She.”

“She’s a pervert and there’s no way she can play the gentleman well or long enough. You’re on.”


The date, fake as it was, was in fact “just fine”. Akane, Nabiki, and even Shampoo had wanted to trail Kasumi and “Ataru”, Nabiki eventually being chosen to follow them to dinner as having all three or even just two of them in a restaurant seemed a Very Bad Idea, and she happily reported that things had gone perfectly well. A drunk patron had at one point tried to steal Kasumi away, but instead of getting in a fight Ranma had firmly but gently told the drunk off, with at worst a mild push as opposed to the violent shove Akane hoped for. Nabiki reported “Ataru” had never raised “his” voice, or spoke in an impolite manner (false; the rough speak was severely limited in volume) and indeed by all accounts, Ranma had in fact acted the perfect gentleman.

“Oh, Mercenary Girl!” Shampoo interjected. “Almost forget, Shanpu have something to sell!”

“Whatcha got?” Nabiki asked, smirking. Normally she was the one selling, so this was a welcome change to her.

Shampoo whipped out a fair handful of Jusenkyō mix packets. “Good price for each. Have six man, one duck, some piglet, two panda, and dozen cat. Can get more, but not easy.”

“Does your great grandmother know about this?” Nabiki asked slyly as she picked out the cat packets and stuffed them in her shirt much like how Shampoo had taken them out of her own, then pulled out a small stack of bills.

“Couple kiss at end of date, yes?” Shampoo dodged. “Did they?”

“Yeah,” Nabiki answered. “They totally kissed. On the mouth.”

“That perverted slut, kissing Kasumi like that when she’s with you!” Akane cried as she stood up, ready to find and pummel the wrongfully accused.

Sit your ass down, sis. The kiss is all part of the act, and I’m pretty damn sure there was no ill intent behind it, on Tiger’s part or Kasumi’s. More importantly, the moment they broke contact, this scrawny little guy dropped out of a tree and said something about being convinced and that he’d report it. So I guess that’s that.”

Suddenly, the door was slammed open, revealing a still very male and slightly annoyed Ranma.

“I knew you girls were tailin’ me!”

“My my, Ataru dahling, you know we meant no harm by it~” Nabiki chirped.

“Yah, sure. I’m gonna take a bath, get the right parts back. Or kill a senior citizen, we’ll see.”

Much to the relief of a certain white-haired gnome on a stick, the next sound the girls heard from the bathroom was a happy and very female-sounding whoop.

Chapter Text

“So tell me this, Tiger.”

“Hmm?”

Nabiki sat on her bed with her girlfriend’s head and most of her upper body in her lap, slowly combing her fingers through the fluffy mass of red hair, unbound by any braid or ponytail. If Ranma had her cat ears, she’d twitch them in vague cranial pleasure.

“How come you were so quick to take your top off? I mean, you did basically almost get… you know?”

“Yeah, I know. I guess I just wanted ta reassert my… what’s the word?” She tapped her fingers on Nabiki’s leg in mild annoyance. “Y’know, like it’s my shirt, I get ta decide when I take it off?”

“Agency?”

“Thank you!” Ranma reached up and grabbed Nabiki’s head, pulled her down a bit and kissed her remarkably softly on the lips.

“I guess I can understand why you’d do that, then. It just struck me more as something you’d sooner do in cat form.”

“Hey, with all this squirmin’ in your lap, it’s already pretty much off again already.” Ranma indicated her shirt, which had indeed run up to reveal her midriff and the bottom of her breasts.

“And it can stay like that for a bit longer,” Nabiki stated as she ran her fingers across Ranma’s toned yet somewhat soft stomach. Ranma giggled and squirmed some more.

With her other hand, Nabiki reached for a glass of water. “Y’know what, Tiger? I wanna check something,” she said, carefully pouring the contents over her lover’s head and watching as one set of ears disappeared in Ranma’s voluminous tresses and another appeared on top. She didn’t see it happen, but Nabiki heard her bedsheets shift as a tail pushed them away.

Ranma licked up some water that had flowed down her face. “What’s that?”

“I read once that kitties don’t actually like it much when they get their bellies rubbed,” Nabiki explained as she held her hand above the catgirl’s stomach, ready to strike.

“Well that’s for dumb, regular kitties. Ryōga and me, we’ve got human smarts, Biki.”

“You’re also a boastful little shit so let’s see if that holds up in practice.”

With that, the mercenary struck. The sounds her lover produced were much the same as before, though Nabiki could swear she heard something unexpected.

“What was that, Tiger?”

“...nuffin’?”

“That wasn’t nothing, Tiger. You mewled!” Nabiki smirked.

Ranma pouted. “I did not. I told ya, I don’t meow.”

Nabiki softly stroked Ranma’s exposed belly. “I’m pretty sure you did, Tiger. And y’know what? It sounded really nice.”

Ranma would’ve protested if she wasn’t fighting back an honest-to-god purr. When Nabiki started lightly scratching her stomach, she really couldn’t help herself.

“Oh my god, isn’t that just precious?”

Ranma feebly shook her head, now almost as red as her hair, while still purring like a kitten. “Not meowing… this ain’t a meew…”

“That almost was one right there. But you know, Tiger… I have ways to make you meow…”

“You mean my ta--”

“I don’t mean your tail, kitty.”

“Then what?” Ranma asked curiously.

Nabiki reached over and pulled a little packet from underneath her pillow. “What do you say we take a quick stop in the bathroom?”

“Is that what I think it is? Cos I think I recognize that kanji.” Ranma pointed at a big neko kanji on the packet, though technically since it was a Chinese product, it was māo. “I don’t think I’d wanna be a little kitty again.”

Nabiki patted Ranma on the head. “Relax, Tiger. You know this stuff doesn’t last. We’ll just go down to the bathroom, horribly abuse the rinsing bucket, and see what we get. And when we’re done, you know how to change back and you’ll never have to walk on all fours again.”

“Eh, whatever.”


“So I told him, if he wanted to spend even one day without any bandages anywhere on his body, he’d reconsider trying to force himself on me or Ranma.”

“Oh my, Akane. You told him that with those exact words?”

“Pretty much… I may have been a little more uncouth, maybe?”

“I’d scold you, but that Kunō boy deserves it.” Kasumi placed down the tea kettle just when Nabiki returned from the bathroom. “Nabiki, where’d you put Ranma?”

“Right over there, sis,” Nabiki replied. She pointed somewhere behind her, but her sisters couldn’t see anyone there. “Lower, ladies.”

A little cat, pinkish-white with red accents, padded into the room. It turned around and looked up at Nabiki, holding out its forelegs, but made no sound.

“Oh my, is that…?”

“Yup. That’s Ranma. I did buy those packets from Shampoo after all.” Nabiki looked down at the little cat gesturing at her. “What’s that, Tiger? I can’t hear you,” she teasingly sang.

“I think she wants you to pick her up, sis,” Akane guessed.

“I know she does. I just want to hear her meow.”

Akane made a mildly surprised face. “Meow?”

“Yeah, you know, like ‘meow’?” Nabiki confirmed, holding one hand up beside her head like one of those beckoning cat statues. The cat at her feet retched. “But yeah, even without speech she insists that--” She shifted her stance to approximate the smaller girl’s usual pose. “Ranma Saotome don’t meow… bitch.”

“Somehow I’m glad Ryōga isn’t here,” Kasumi muttered as she poured herself a cup of tea.

“Why’s that, sis?” Akane asked as she watched Ranma fruitlessly ‘ask’ for upsies.

“Nothing. Have some tea.”

Fuck this, Ranma thought as she lowered her arms -- no, they were called forelegs in this form. I’ll just ask Kasumi. She loves carryin’ small animals around!

“Could you imagine, though?” Akane started as she took the kettle. “Two cats with human minds in one room? They could, I dunno, plot our collective downfall, and have the means to execute it too!”

You keep jokin’ around like that, I just might track down Ryōga and do it, Ranma scoffed as she jumped into Kasumi lap. Holy crap is it me or does Kas’ lap feel great?

“Ah, look at that. I think she likes you, sis!”

Kasumi carefully stroked the temporary-cat’s head with her thumb. When she started softly scratching behind Ranma’s ears, the purring started.

“See, that’s about as far as I’ve gotten. She simply won’t meow for me! Me!” Nabiki mock-complained as she took a cup of tea for herself.

“Maybe you’re not doing quite the right thing, Nabiki,” Kasumi offered.

God this is heavenly! I’d use up all a’ those packets yesterday if I knew it would feel this nice to get scritches…

At Nabiki’s questioning expression, Kasumi raised her free hand, index finger raised… and stopped petting Ranma.

“Hey, what’s the big deal,” Ranma would’ve said if she could. But she was unable to speak like a human, for she was a cat. The only sound that did come out of her kitty mouth was a single inquisitive meow. Ranma shut her mouth immediately and covered it with her paws. Aw, fuck me that was a dirty trick!

“Tadah.”

“How’d you figure that’d work?” Akane asked.

“It’s like you said. She’s a cat with a human mind. So instead of doing things that would make a cat ‘speak’, I did something that would make a human speak,” Kasumi explained, then finished her tea.

An embarrassed Ranma padded off, back to the bathroom. Felt nice though.