Wish you never left - Chapter 4
Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. They belong to the wonderful Rumiko Takahashi and her licensees (Viz Communications in North America). This work is strictly for the non-profit enjoyment of fans. No copyright infringement is intended.
Last updated: 19/12/05
Ranma glanced around as he stood in the gate to the Tendo's yard. His brow was furrowed, his thoughts a jumble.
He had to find out if what Ukyo had guessed was right, because if it was his entire life situation would be changed... and it unnerved him more that it scared him so much. Right now everything was on a knife’s edge of balance between the girls who liked him, and it didn't take much to upset that balance. The attempted wedding had proven how far out of control it could go. His hand stopped on the gate as he realised that the only real difference between this situation and the wedding was which of his girls was being removed, and the always unsettling thoughts about how the idea of losing one in particular hurt more than losing all the rest of those friends.
Closing the gate, he moved for the house when he saw the bushes near the wooden house rustle slightly in the still air. Always eager for a distraction from thoughts of his mercurial fiancée, he quickly turned away and made for the corner of the house nearest him. Once out of view of the bush leaping up the two stories to the roof and crossing quickly to jump down to the bushes, and the spy hiding inside.
Looking down from above, he saw the dark gi clad figure and shook his head, expecting better from the Kuno's personal ninja manservant. Jumping down he snagged the gi and pulled him up.
"All right Sasuke, what ya look'en for..."
Ranma's surprise let the oversized Sasuke swing around and put his hand over his mouth. Through the dirty face and twigs in the moustache, he made out Akane's father. "Sh boy, she'll hear you!" the older man hissed at him.
Rolling his eyes, Ranma allowed the elder Tendo to calm down.
"Why haven't you fixed your curse yet, Son? Don't you know how hard this is on me?!"
Ranma frowned, "Why's it hard on you? The way you acted when Ms Hinako was hitting on you, I figured you'd be all for your wife back? Besides, nothing personal but I don't want my curse back."
The head of the Tendo family shook his head rapidly but before he could reply the door from the main room on the nearby veranda opened suddenly and the red-haired head of the woman in question stuck out, quickly turning to scan the yard.
"Soun-chan? Is that you? Can you please come in, we need to talk." Her voice showed hints of tiredness, like it wasn't the first time she had called out.
Ranma found himself standing alone in the bushes of the garden and quickly stepped out, moving towards her. "Ya might want to give him a few more days to get a grip, I don't think he's ready to sit and talk yet. Let him miss a few of Kasumi's meals and he'll come home," he stated as he popped up on the balcony.
"Oh hello Ranma, welcome back," Mrs Tendo replied with a sunny smile.
"Hey, what'd ya do to my...er... your hair?"
Kimiko smiled a little impishly, "Do you like your future mother-in-laws new hair style?"
The boy in question looked at the new shorter style again and the attractive blouse and long skirt the woman in his girl body had on, keeping the visual sweep short as he saw Akane with Nabiki and his own mother at the table behind her. "Yeah it's okay, though it isn't really surprising Mr Tendo ain't coming out of hiding if you're going for some cute girl look. It's probably making him even more skittish with ya."
The voice of the middle Tendo daughter carried her smirk at the two on the balcony, "I'd listen to him Mom, Ranma should be able to spot a skittish man with ease by now."
Akane caught on quick, "As they say, it takes one to know one."
"Hey!" Ranma cried at the double team of the giggling girls but managed to keep his tongue in his mouth and not start insulting the girls in front of Mrs Tendo.
Frowning slightly at the accusation of her son being ‘skittish’ around women, Nodoka shook her head, recalling how some of those girls shamelessly pursued him while he was engaged to Akane, it wasn't really that surprising. Besides, it wasn't honourable to two time his fiancée, once he was married he could think about mistresses. "Perhaps we could get back to the matter at hand." She suggested with a gesture to the paperwork on the table while her other hand waved to her son to sit between her and Akane.
"So what ya doing?" Ranma asked in a board tone of voice, it looked like some kind of homework.
Nabiki smiled as she explained, "I won't bore you with the specifics Ranma, but right now mom is legally dead, so if she gets into trouble with the law she'll need some kind of identity papers. What we're going to do is add mother to the Saotome register as your sister and then she can be remarried to daddy as far as the law is concerned..." her smiled failed as Ranma paled and he glanced anxiously at Akane. "Is there a problem, Ranma?"
Feeling trapped by all the women looking at him, Ranma shrugged. "Well, I uh, that is, ah, shouldn't your dad be in on this, I mean we don't need to do this right now, right?" Three confused looks were focused on him but his eyes were locked on Nabiki's as her gaze narrowed. He gulped. He gulped again as her smiled returned and she looked pleasantly at her Mother.
"Maybe we should get daddy's input tomorrow on this Mom, I'm sure Ranma will be more than happy to help us find him." Before anyone could object she smiled at Ranma. "Ranma, be a dear and come and help me move my desk? I lost some papers behind it."
Ranma wasn't sure who was goggling at Nabiki more, him or Akane, but either way he had an out from the room and wasn't passing it up. As he rushed for the stairs, he faintly heard the mothers asking Akane if she wanted another cooking lesson as he raced up the stairs.
"So Nabiki, where do ya want ya desk?" he asked as the girl in question casually walked up the stairs and passed him, opening her door. He grew nervous as she sighed in a tired way, making him think of that huff Akane sometimes gave him when he said something she didn't like.
"Leave the desk alone and sit down." She said in a voice that made it more than a suggestion, as she sat on the bed and faced him, her shins crossing. "Now, why are you so nervous about that the family registers?"
She almost growled with frustration as her future brother-in-laws face showed he really wasn't expecting to continue with whatever problems he had had downstairs. "Er, I got no problem with it, I just think your dad would want in on the arrangements, er, he is the one gotta marry her."
"They *are* married Ranma, she *is* his wife. She may have died but she is back. What is your problem with this?"
Ranma gulped, "Er, okay, get em married, but does she have to be a Saotome?" He gulped again as the narrowed eyes watched him silently as the clock on her wall ticked away ominously.
"The promise," she finally said, and the eyes softened. Ranma didn't know anything but martial arts so it was easy enough to sort his priorities. The way he flinched confirmed her conclusion. "Did you think of this yourself?"
"Ah, Ukyo pointed it out. Shampoo was there too."
The girl’s smirk turned amused as she recalled Shampoo's encounter with her mother at the markets. "Okay, run along, I'll see if I can't find an alternative." She refocused on him as he didn't move, "What?"
"I just, er, why are you being so helpful?"
She rolled her eyes, in part at herself at his question, then turned her business like manner on him. "Ranma, I'll answer that but I'll need you to do me a little favour?"
The blue eyed boy frowned, this was more like the Nabiki he knew but it was still more favourable from her than he was used to. "Okay," he said slowly.
"Would you do anything to make your mother ashamed of you?"
Ranma nodded, visibly relaxing. "Okay, I can get that. This mean no more pictures of me half d..." The blue eyes opened real wide, as he sucked in his breath, his brain leapt to yet another consequence of his recent cure.
"Not one word." Nabiki commanded as she looked at him angrily, her scowl deepening as she quickly saw he was holding back laughter not words. "This brings us to that little favour."
Reaching under her bed she brought out some dark clothes which she tossed at him, letting him unravel material to reveal the very dark brown material of the classic ninja outfit. "I need you to drop by Kuno's place and get a few pictures back for me."
Soun Tendo squatted in the alley outside the Tendo's wall as the night chilled around him. 'Why oh why couldn't the boy have kept his problem out of his family'. He shook himself, overpowering his self-wallowing of the situation by firmly reminding himself how the boy's situations almost always solved themselves and returned to a steady baseline he could handle.
His thoughts where pushed aside as he saw his future son-in-law climbing out of his second daughters window and up to the roof. He couldn't make out what the boy was grumbling but he was putting on a dark outfit he recognised as being like that of the short ninja who occasionally spied on his family for the wealthy boy from Nabiki's school class. Once dressed, the hooded and masked Ranma ran and leapt for the roof, Soun moving as quietly as possible to watch him jumping off away, making sure his daughters and the boy's red haired cursed body hadn't sent the Ranma to find him and bring him home.
The elder Tendo calmed as the boy vanished into the distance, only to tense again as he heard someone approaching his hiding place, and with a rush he moved to hide, knocking over a bin in the process.
"Who's there?" Demanded a breathy female voice, "Show yourself, delinquent?"
Soun stuck his head out, seeing the leggy brunet in an overly tight dress, his eyes widening as he recognised Akane's friendly school teacher. He quickly mulled over if he should reveal himself or keep hiding, but ran out of time to decide as the woman raised a coin and shouted out words.
Hinako smiled darkly as she saw the shadow in the ally move again and brought her coin to bare, “Happo-goen-satsu!” She smiled as she felt the rush of battle aura bled off the target to feed into her, and the figure collapse out from where he was hiding.
With a frown she looked at the downed man and stepped over to him, her steps becoming a rush as she recognised the very man she was coming to see. "Oh no, Soun-chan!"
The powerless and crumpled form of the elder Tendo looked up at the woman before passing out.
Walking into the kitchen, Nabiki eyed Akane and the two mothers working away there, "Ranma won't be on time for dinner, he's running a little errand for me. Can you keep him a plate in the oven for him?"
Kimiko nodded as Akane eyed her up, "What's he doing, Sis?"
"Fixing a mistake," she said with a light flush, recalling Ranma's controlled laughing at her problem with her mother's appearance. Her eyes narrowed, "Oh, and keep some desert for him away from his father, he deserves a treat. He'll never admit it but he put an end to some plan of Ukyo and Shampoo's to break your engagement to him."
Akane blinked as her sister enigmatically left, the idea of her fiancé protecting the engagement to her over Shampoo and Ukyo running around her head as the mothers smiled at her back.
"Ow ow ow ow!" Ranma hissed under his breath as he rubbed his fist, then sucked on the nuckles. He had hoped to slip into the Kuno estate without incident, but when the net landed on his head he knew he was in trouble. Three traps and a midget ninja later, he was ready to enter. He glanced darkly at Sasuke on the ground with a bruise forming on his forehead, and at the cracked statue in an identical outfit Ranma had punched first.
Moving towards the building, he saw the open window, faint traces of steam wafting out, his mind trying to recall the layout of the place. When he jumped to the window he realised he was wrong - the tiling of black rose flowers on gleaming white, the small private furo filled with steaming water holding floating black rose petals, and several large framed pictures of himself, often working out without his shirt on...
Still, these were photos that he didn't really want here either.
Kodatchi Kuno smiled at her reflection in the mirror as she brushed her long black hair. Her minds eye recalled the adoring gazes of the boys from St Bachus Boys School who had visited for the day for dancing classes with the girls. All trying to impress her, to get her attention, to curry her favour. They were so simple, like pets. Her mind quickly put the mindless adoration into the perfect blue eyes of her one true love as he appeared on the larger than life image on the wall.
Snatching up a black rose, she took a kneeling pose and gazed up at the poster of that poor but perfect boy with the cocky grin that she had given her heart too.
"Oh why! Why must I wait for my beloved to see the harlots belittle and punish him while I stood in my beautiful dress! Though we let those commoners host it, I know in your heart it was to be my wedding darling, why didn't you stand beside *me*, beloved Ranma darling!"
The tears pouring down her cheeks stopped like a switch had been flicked as she stood and moved towards her bathroom door, "Time for a bath."
Inside the steam filling the private bathroom of Kodatachi Kuno, a ninja was busily collecting framed photos of himself, most less than fully dressed, but at least all male. Unfortunately they had been rather firmly attached to the wall with heavy frames.
"Time for a bath."
Hissing a curse, the ninja silently flipped the stack of frames the window and shut the window to somewhat cover the crashing clutter of frames outside, before leaping straight up to use his limbs to brace himself in the corner, his eyes watched the door handle turn and open before the owner.
Humming to herself, Kodatchi smiled indulgently at the hot furo as she smelled the essence of her black roses in the steam of the room, her hand pushing the door closed behind her. Placing her bucket, overflowing with a selection of soaps and shampoo bottles, beside the tap and basin, she reached to undo the knot of her robe, then taking the lapels to disrobe.
The dark figure dropped in front of her, hands gripping hers, forcing them to keep the robe closed. Her reflexes caught up, her black ponytail sticking straight up as she gulped a breath, his hand covering her mouth before she could scream.
"Er, hey, sorry 'bout this. I kinda hoped to slip by ya, but ya closed the door too quick for me to sneak out. I'll just go and you can have ya bath. See ya."
With quick steps he left the scared girl in the bathroom, shutting the door behind him. He smirked under the cover of his ninja mask as he realised that what could have become a fiasco of him peaking on Kodatchi and him getting beat to a pulp by her and later Akane, he had gotten out of it real lightly. Quickly moving to grab move pictures from this room too, he clucked his tongue at the image of Akane standing unreacting like Kodatchi had.
The ninja clad intruder rushed for the bedroom doorway, ducking at the last moment to narrowly avoid the wooden sword piercing the door, cutting its way in.
"Sister, I come to save you!"
"That way, Hibiki-san."
"Oh, sorry, it's just all so..." Ryoga's voice trailed off at the frown from the unusually dressed gaijin woman. He had gotten lost in taking her to the dojo. Then he had nearly gotten lost six times in following her back to where they had met which was definitely not impressing the girl. It was very much like Kasumi's frown after he had turned off a main road in Osaka, and walked into her drying laundry, for the third time...
Arriving beside the wall of the Kuno mansion, Belldandy looked directly at Ryoga. "Hibiki-san, may I use your memories to find the Tendo dojo?"
Gently, she reached up to his face, laying slender fingers on his forehead. "I want you to think of the Tendo Dojo, think of how it looks. The house, the dojo, the windows, the wall, the gate..."
"Stand and fight cretin, your vile plot to ruin my sister is over, thy life is forfeit."
"Hohohohohohoho, Die perverted monster!"
The pair outside the ancestral Kuno family ground's wall broke at the noises from within, wondering what had set off the residence, Belldandy pulling her mind back from her companion.
"I wasn't here for her, I left before she took off the robe because I ain't a pervert!"
The sounds of further attacks and collateral damage came from within, covering the murmurings of the strange girl beside Ryoga even as he stepped up to the wall. Summoning the spirits of the wind, Belldandy’s clothes rippled and she flew gently up, carried over the wall by the wind, coming down at the edge of the pond inside the compound.
Ranma dodged a group of thrown Gymnastics clubs as he ran towards the wall between him and escape from this loony bin. All he needed now was his pursuer’s father, Principal Kuno to jump out with exploding pineapples and he'd have the set.
Even as he said it he saw a figure coming over the wall and cursed his luck, hoping confusion would keep this new comer out of the fight, but as he reached the wall and focused to spring up...
The wall shattered in, the pigtailed martial artist taking the brunt of it as he back pedalled, but just as he got clear, he saw the heavy set figure following through the smoke. He dodged to the side as Ryoga ran into the compound. "Where's this pervert!?"
Even as Ryoga passed him, Ranma felt the black ribbon wrap around him, binding his arms to his chest, yanking the ninja from bare inches from the exit hole, and throwing him back across the yard into a Kendo practice dummy.
"Hohohohohoho, you can't escape the Kuno clan so easily, my brother shall teach you...Ranma Darling?"
Ranma stood uneasily, dazed from the impact, but managed to dodge Kuno's first swing, unaware he had lost his ninja mask to Ryoga's blast.
"Oh my, could someone please tell me where the demon is?" Belldandy asked hesitantly, surprised by the violence of this world.
Kodatchi got over her astonishment that the gentleman intruder was her beloved, now realising that he was simply protecting her reputation by wearing such a mask to visit her. 'Oh, he cares so much for me', she thought with a sigh, her hands opening and dropping the heavy robe she wore revealing her habitual leotard. Her eyes immediately identified the three disturbances to her and Ranma's alone time, her brother, the dirty wanderer in the bandanna, and the gaijin woman.
Ranma dodged another strike from the kendoist when suddenly the swordsman was lashed by his sister's ribbon, tossing him bodily across to slam into Ryoga. At the same time, his twisted sister blew on a whistle.
The Black Rose smiled at him indulgently when she saw him looking at her, and posed for him. "Wait but a moment, my paramour, and we shall be alone. It isn't his feeding time, but much like you, he's always hungry."
Still trying to comprehend what was going on, Belldandy winced as the thrown swordsman fell away from Ryoga who stood unmoved from the impact of the boy. She was pretty sure the human body didn't fold that way. She looked up as she saw the black clad pig-tailed boy rushing towards her, and for an instant thought he was going to attack her, but his aura rang out not with aggression but concern.
Focusing, Ranma pushed his running, seeing the ripples, diving forward to grab the girl and spring up, aiming under the tree branches over the pond but to the wall beyond it, ready if she was heavier that she looked to run up the wall to safety.
The giant alligator pet of Kodatchi Kuno surged from the pool at the large meal standing at the edge of its ponds. Some part of its instinct was whispering that this woman was not food, but among all the whisperings in the mind of the pet of the Black Rose it was barely heard. Its teeth snapped on air as black covered legs blurred before it, carrying the meal away and up.
'Wow, she's light?’ was all Ranma got to think before his head slammed into the lowest branches of the tree over the pond, his impossibly light cargo floating onwards, up to the wall. His jump too vertical for the weight, his head hooked the branch, turning him up before gravity brought him down in the pool.
The alligator surged forward as dinner splashed in its pond, the black clad meal getting to its feet in the waist deep water even as the pet surged to bite it.
Two feet slammed the gator's mouth shut, a hand grabbing the pigtailed boy by the neck, and launching off the sinking animal and up to the wall.
Shaking his head, Ranma focused on the hand holding him up by the throat, "Hey, Ryoga. Good timing man."
"Why aren't you a girl?" the lost boy growled.
Shaking her head, Belldandy was really becoming concerned about this place.
Shaking her head, Kodatchi shrugged, knowing that were she a man, she would be asking the gods themselves why that perfect man was not a she for her to be with.
"Er, yeah, bout that, Akane cured me and..."
"Akane? Cured? You?"
Some part deep inside Ranma suddenly wondered if one could throw more than one ki blast at once by using different emotions, because he was pretty sure Ryoga was there right now. Some other part of him was telling him to be out of Ryoga's reach when he told the lost boy that it may have been a 'fluke' cure and unrepeatable.
"HOW?!" The lost boy demanded as he squeezed Ranma's throat.
Some gurgles came from Ranma's mouth as he began to turn blue, but Belldandy heard it. "A wish?"
The blue-faced boy nodded at her, even as the goddess seemed overly happy.
"CAN SHE DO IT AGAIN?!" Ryoga demanded.
Even before Ranma gurgled, Belldandy frowned. "Oh dear, I hope not..."
Only Kodatchi heard Belldandy explaining how that would be bad as the first wish was illegal and in violation of Heaven's code. Ranma focused more on the mutterings of the lost boy still strangling him. "The world is a dark and lonely place." Struggle as he might, Ryoga's grip was iron.
"SHI SHI HOKODAN!"
By the time Belldandy came back from being blown off the wall by the blast, she found Midorigame and a black piglet unconscious, floating in the pond, while Kodatchi was in a similar state on the grass, her brother still out nearby.
"Oh my, now how will I find the Tendo Dojo?" she asked herself, unaware that a limping man in the tattered remains of a ninja outfit was dragging a pile of framed and loose photos of a himself and a pig tailed red haired girl towards that very place on the other side of the building.
"Soun-chan? Wake up Soun-chan?"
Gently opening his eyes, Soun Tendo wearily looked around the messy apartment, before finally locking onto the gorgeous brunette in lingerie and holding a fish bowl seated across from him.
"You, you're Akane's teacher, aren't you?"
"That's right Soun-chan, I'm Hinako Niyomia. Now I don't want you to worry, when you're ready, we'll make sure that red haired hussy doesn't come between us," she said breathily.
He only just realised that he was tied to a chair in his shorts before lethargy overtook him again.
To be continued...
Special thanks to MwhaleK, Paul Henkel, Rosedreams, Jamison Whithehead, Wheedle1, tendoakane3, and Sakurabana for proof reading and plot inspiring.
Thank you for reading.