Akane Stares at the figure in the doorway.

Akane: Kasumi?

Kasumi: I don't think we should do this. Such a shock in Ranma's delicate state could do nasty damage to his mental condition.

Nabiki: [scratches her head] You may be right, oneechan, but what do you suggest we do instead.

Genma: We could try my suggestion. [rotates his fist]

Akane: No! We won't! [splashes Genma with a bucket]

Genma: Growf.

Souun: Waaah! What can we do?

Nabiki: [hands him a hankie] We could try not to wake Ranma with all the noise.

In that very moment, Ranma turns on the other side, snoring loudly.

SNUOOORRK! WHUMPH!

The last turn made him fall from the futon. He flails around with one arm, gets hold of the covers and pulls them down to the floor over him. He curls up and sighs, beginning to snore again.

Nabiki: Oh, well. Anyway, let's leave.

It is already very late at night when Dr. Toufuu joins the concerned Tendou's at their home. He, Nabiki, Akane and Souun are gathered around the living room table.

Dr. Toufuu: Yes, I believe it was right what you did. If a real boy was suddenly turned female, the results would be grave. I can imagine he would be insecure in his sexuality and therefore put on a big show of machismo, always fighting others, never thinking about problems. Homophobia would drive him to be hostile and aggressive to any male who shows interest in his female side. He would probably entertain relationships with many females at once, anxious to be reassured that he is still attractive. On the other hand, he would be unable to confess any true affection, for fear of rejection.

He pauses.

Dr. Toufuu: That is, of course, just an educated guess, and it has no bearing on the situation at hand. Ranma's memory loss is the result of a fight, you said. There is a shiatsu technique called Xi Fa Xiang Gao, that enables the manipulation of memory. It employs use of the shiatsu pressure points of the human skull in combination with a herbal potion - a shampoo, if you will.

Akane, who twitched at the word "shampoo", perks up.

Akane: That's right. He said that he felt oddly refreshed.

Dr. Toufuu: That makes the reaction to a sudden change rather unpredictable. I have a theory, though.

Kasumi: [coming in from the kitchen] What kind of theory, Dr. Toufuu?

Dr. Toufuu: Kasumi! F-fancy meeting you here.

He raises his hand in greeting, completely forgetting that he is holding a cup in it. He bangs the cup against his temple, knocking himself out. Everyone sighs. Kasumi smiles, puzzled.

Nabiki: He'll be no use, now, for some time. Let's escort him home, father. Tomorrow we'll visit him at his place.

It is the next day. Ranma and Akane are walking down the street together. They are in their best clothes, and their arms are linked. Both are sweating and uncomfortable.

Ranma: [whispering] Remind me again: How did we get talked into this?

Akane: [whispering back] I seem to remember something about our fathers committing Seppuku if we didn't.

Ranma: Can't be. We would have let them. I think we were drugged and brainwashed.

Akane: [thinks] One of us at least.

At home, Genma and Soun are dancing around in the living room, happily.

Souun: We finally got them to go out together!

Genma: Yes! And now that Ranma's fully a boy, there's no way it can fail!

Souun: No way.

Ranma: No way! Think of last time we went here!

Akane: There's no other good restaurant around here, and last time was a special case. There are no crazies following us today. Come on and let's get this behind us.

They are entering the restaurant they visited on the day they switched roles. Inside, they look around nervously, but no lunatics seem to pop up, so they find themselves a booth and signal the waiter. They order the same things they did last time - they never got to eat them, after all.

They sit waiting in silence. Ranma folds his hands and begins to fidget with his thumbs.

Ranma: So.

Akane: So.

Silence.

Ranma: Err, you... you ever went out on a date?

Akane: No. [pause] You?

Ranma: Um, no. So we... we could learn from this for... for other dates, or so. [stares at his fingernails] It's not as if this um, actually means something. Heh heh heh...

Akane: Ha ha ha...

Silence.

Akane: [thinks] Why is he looking at me that way?

Ranma: [thinks] Why is she looking at me that way?

Akane: I wonder where that waiter is?

Ranma: Yeah, he sure takes his time.

Silence. Suddenly the uneasy atmosphere is broken by a cry.

Voice: Nihao Ranma!

Both Ranma and Akane's heads jerk around. Shampoo is running towards them. She jumps at Ranma, glomps onto him and snuggles up.

Shampoo: Ranma ready to marry Shampoo?

Ranma: Sh- Shampoo!

Akane: What did you do to Ranma?!

Shampoo: Shampoo make husband forget stupid Ranko girl. He marry Shampoo now.

She gets up and tries to pull Ranma along on one hand. Ranma resists, but barely. He looks at Akane pleadingly, as if he expects her to do something.

Akane: Ranma! How can you let Shampoo act like this with you? Do you want her to chase after you forever?

Ranma: N-no. It's just...

Shampoo: [impatient] Ranma come now?

Akane: No he doesn't! Ranma, why don't you just tell her "no"? If you keep waffling like this you'll end up marrying her for real!

Ranma seems shocked at the thought and pulls himself together.

Ranma: Shampoo. I can't marry you.

Shampoo: [looks heartbroken] Ranma no like Shampoo?

Ranma: No! [earnestly] I do like you, Shampoo, but I can't marry you. My fiancée is Akane. I will stay with her.

Akane's eyes bug out and her hair rises up.

Shampoo's eyes narrow. She shoots a look at Akane, but Akane doesn't see anything. She's staring at Ranma. Shampoo looks back at Ranma, but his face is set. She runs off without a word.

Ranma looks at Akane and sees the shock on her face. He looks down apologetically.

Ranma: I'm sorry that I told her I like her, right before you. I just said that because I didn't want to hurt her. [looks anguished] It's so hard. I don't want to hurt her, but if I don't, she'll always come between us.

Akane's mind reels.

Akane: [thinks] He really thinks he's a boy. He really thinks he's going to marry another girl. He really thinks he's engaged to me. Oh god.

Ranma: I... I have a hard time showing what I really feel, sometimes. But I... you... I really... I lo-

SPLASH!

Waitress: Oh no! I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry! I must have slipped on something and now I spilled all that hot tea over you. I'm so sorry. How can I ever apologize enough?

Ranko looks at the waitress, then looks down at herself. Akane watches in fear.

Ranko: Ayaaaaah!

Akane: [thinks] Oh no! She's going into shock!

Ranko: Oh my! I hope this tea stain will come out. [frowns] How did I ever get into such unfeminine clothes. I look like a man!

Akane stares.

At home, Nabiki is on the telephone. Dr. Toufuu is on the other end.

Dr. Toufuu: I think, that a change of forms in her current mental state could trigger a complete reversal of the memory manipulation.

Nabiki: You mean, Ranko would remember everything again?

Dr. Toufuu: No, she would forget everything about her male side.

- End of Part 20.