The Wild Horse Thesis

By Calamity Cordite

Developed by Calamity Cordite and James R. Axelrad

Edited by James R. Axelrad and Weebee

Author's note: OMG! Wow! I can't believe I got so many reviews on just the first chapter! Thanks everyone! I just hope the story continues to live up to your high expectations. I forgot to mention it in the forward but this story is completed in its entirety. It runs 18 chapters and will be posted one chapter per day. Not that anyone noticed that I said the same thing when posting DLoM though. Everyone was just so completely impressed that I was churning out 5 or 6k high quality words a day like it was nothing when it was really the product of months of work and extensive proofing. O.o;

Oh and I guess I need to mention the timeline. The Ranma timeline is after Ryu Kumon, where Ranma learns the sealed techniques, but before Nodoka learns of the curse and well before Saffron. =D

Chapter 2

"SHAMPOO my love!" Mousse cried as he glomped Genma. "Shampoo, have you put on weight, my love? It's okay with me, you know, that just means there's more of you to cuddle. You must have been training really hard though because you could really use a bath."

Several snickers were heard around the table as Genma's eye twitched.

"Stupid Mousse, Shampoo over here," Shampoo said in exasperation. "Put glasses on, fool."

Mousse slipped his glasses over his eyes and looked at who he was glomping.

"GAH!" the blind Amazon shrieked and leaped into the corner. He began rocking back and forth, chanting over and over, "never be clean again, never be clean again."

"What stupid duck want? Shampoo busy watching Airen in silly Vi-Dee-Oh world," Shampoo said.

"Huh?" Mousse asked adroitly.

Mousse was quickly brought up to speed on what happened to Ranma.

"That FIEND," Mousse cried. "He went there to stop that poor, devoted man from bringing the woman he loves back to life! How dare he interfere! Ranma Saotome, you are the enemy of love!"

"Riiiiight," Nabiki drawled, mistrustfully eyeing Shampoo's obviously insane stalker as everyone pulled their faces off the floor. "Let's just watch the tapes."

The gathered people sweat-dropped as they looked sidelong at Mousse and quickly nodded.

(oO\O/Oo)

It had been a long night the night before for both Ranma and Misato. They had spent several hours cleaning the place up. Misato hadn't been happy about it, but Ranma wouldn't let her have enough beer to get drunk until the job was done. Every time she tried to have more than one beer in an hour, the pigtailed boy would appear as if by magic and suddenly, Misato would have a glass of water in her hand. Once, he had replaced the can with an empty beer can filled with water and she nearly choked to death when it wasn't what she expected.

Ranma was still chuckling about that as he came in from his morning training session. The way she had been thrashing around on the floor clutching at her throat, one could have sworn he had fed her drain cleaner or something. After that he had relented and let Misato pound several beers while he went to the market to get groceries that didn't involve instant ramen, junk food, or booze.

Ranma entered the furo and began to bathe for the day. He shivered as he poured the cold water over his head and felt the change run through him. Washing quickly and efficiently, the redhead slipped into the furo.

After a short soak, Ranma got dressed and headed into the kitchen to prepare breakfast. He was just setting the table when Misato came out looking like the living dead. Ranma looked her over as she stood in the doorway scratching under her breasts and yawning.

'She's definitely cute, even looking like a zombie,' Ranma admitted to himself. "Good morning, Misato," Ranma chirped cheerfully, just because he knew it would annoy her.

Misato gave him the evil eye and grunted something that probably wasn't very lady-like if it had been intelligible. Ranma chuckled at her and handed her a beer before guiding her to the table. As soon as she sat down, she cracked open the beer and slammed the whole can in one long gulp.

"YEEEE HAAAW!" she yelled as she slammed the empty can down on the table. "That's the stuff!"

Ranma just grinned and shook his head.

"So what's the plan for today, Misato?" Ranma asked.

"Well, you don't start school for another few weeks," the purple-haired captain said as she ate. "Hey, this is pretty good, Ranma. Anyway, Ritsuko wants you back at NERV for a Sync Test and to begin your Eva training. After that, she's probably going to want to poke and prod that hot young body of yours."

"Greaaat," Ranma drawled unenthusiastically.

(oO\O/Oo)

Ranma stood in her own personal locker room. Given her condition they felt it was best for her to have a changing room and shower all to herself. Ranma didn't mind that a bit. While she knew she could thrash any guy that got fresh with her, that didn't mean she wanted them ogling her if she happened to be in this form. Likewise, she didn't want the pain that would invariably come if they made her use the women's locker room.

Dr. Akagi wanted to get some data on her girl form today since they already had some on her male form. Ranma got undressed and pulled on the plug suit they had given her. Once she had it on and in place, she hit the control on her wrist causing the suit to conform to every curve of her body. The plug suit for this body was mostly blue with black trim, while the one for her male form was blue and white.

Ranma looked in the mirror and froze. Dai and Hiroshi always said she looked just like Asuka Langley Sohryu from this series, but Ranma had never really believed it. Now standing here in a plug suit, looking at herself in the mirror, it was pretty obvious. Ranma's hair was a couple shades brighter red and it was in a different style, but the resemblance was undeniable.

'Wonder what Asuka is going to make of having a twin?' Ranma thought to herself as she tested her range of motion in the tight-fitting suit.

Ranma performed a slow handstand before doing a split and holding herself up on the tip of one finger. She came out of the position and into a backwards walkover, displaying uncanny coordination and flexibility. The suit resisted her movements slightly but didn't actually restrict her at all. Satisfied, she headed out to find Dr. Akagi.

(oO\O/Oo)

Ranma sat in the entry plug thinking. There wasn't much else to do during the Sync Test. Searching her memory, she was dredging up every scrap of information she could recall about all the main players in NGE. She had to find a way to make inroads to those that could help her stop the coming apocalypse that Gendo Ikari and the mysterious organization SEELE was going to bring down on their heads.

Ritsuko Akagi would be a big help since she was definitely in the know as far as some of the darker projects went. She wasn't privy to Gendo's ultimate plan though. He was using her, keeping her loyal by leading her on and sleeping with her. In the end, he would cast her to the wolves like yesterday's garbage. The problem was, Ranma couldn't think of a way to convince her of this before it was too late to be of use. If she let on she knew too much, Dr. Akagi would certainly inform Gendo.

Misato Katsuragi wouldn't be much help either. She was little more than a figurehead; an altruistic poster child dedicated to NERV's public purpose. She was there to cover NERV's darker machinations and they wouldn't hesitate to eliminate her if they thought she knew something she shouldn't. The best Misato could hope for was to blow the whistle, but that would just send the conspirators into hiding, or worse, force their hand.

Kaji Ryoji might be of some use. He certainly knew more than he let on, but it was hard to tell where his loyalties lay. He was a double agent and he ultimately turned against SEELE. If Ranma could figure him out, to gain his loyalty, then Kaji would be very useful in taking down the whole pit of vipers. He could also be unintentionally useful for one other purpose Ranma had in mind.

Rei Ayanami was integral to Gendo's plan. If Ranma could turn her and then keep her alive, that would be a big help. Rei, as Ranma recalled, was cold and distant from everyone but Gendo. She was raised to be incapable of emotions and conditioned to follow orders to the letter. But the fact was, she felt more than she let on. From what Ranma had seen, Shinji had made a connection with her. She sacrificed her life for his. Ranma decided that she would have to draw her out, get her to confront the things she was feeling sooner than Shinji did. Besides, Ranma felt a sort of kinship with the repressed girl. They had a lot of parallels in their lives.

Asuka Langley Sohryu was another one she was going to have to work on. Ever since she had seen herself in the mirror, it had come home to her that what Dai and Hiroshi were saying about her being just like Ranma had really come home to roost. Aside from the fact that she was interested in Kaji and wore dresses, Ranma had to admit that their attitudes were eerily similar. The girl was driven to be the best, to prove to herself and others that she had some degree of worth.

Her breakdown, after a string of failures, paralleled Ranma's own when Happosai had used the Ultimate Weakness Moxibustion on her. If Cologne hadn't offered her some hope when she did, Ranma didn't like to think what she may have done. Unfortunately for Asuka, by the time she lost hope, everyone else was too far gone to offer her any.

Ranma concluded that Asuka desperately needed a friend who wouldn't allow her to push them away. However, she also knew that she would be behind the eight-ball with the German girl from the start with her Sync Ratio being significantly higher. Asuka would be extremely jealous of that fact.

The best approach, Ranma decided, would be to be her friend, not put up with her abusive attitude, and offer to train her to be better. Not taking her abuse would be difficult while still remaining her friend. It meant Ranma would have to fight back, but not in such a way that it would completely alienate her.

Thinking of training, Ranma suddenly had a flare of inspiration. That could be the key to connecting with Rei as well. The excuse would be to improve her skills as a pilot, but in order to reach the state where she would be able to use Ranma's Sync boosting technique, she would have to confront her emotions and be aware of them.

The others, Ranma would have to work on slowly and carefully. She would plant the seeds of doubt in their minds and cultivate them, hopefully they would bear fruit before it was too late. Rei, she could start on almost immediately.

"That's excellent, Ranma," Dr. Akagi said over the comm. "Your Sync Ratio is steady at 64 percent. Try the technique you used the first time."

"You got it," Ranma replied and began the boosting techniques.

"Fascinating," Dr. Akagi said, the wonder clear in her voice. "Your Sync Ratio just jumped to 87 percent. That's incredible."

"Just takes trainin'," Ranma commented.

"If you say so, Ranma," Dr. Akagi laughed lightly. "Okay, we're done. When you get out, go change forms and we'll test your male side and see if there's any variance."

"Roger," Ranma acknowledged.

(oO\O/Oo)

Ranma had only dropped a couple of points between his male side and female side, which was within the tolerance of the equipment so it was deemed negligible. Currently, he was in the holochamber for his second week of gunnery practice.

As he practiced, something was bugging him. He was trying to pin down what it was as he moved around the chamber shooting at the targets that popped up. As he laid waste to three targets in rapid succession, it hit him. There was only one incident he could recall where the guns the Eva's had available were actually effective.

He had to talk to Dr. Akagi about this to explore some other alternatives, but unfortunately he had to do so in such a way as to not alert her to his foreknowledge. He spent the rest of the practice session trying to think of a way to do it.

(oO\O/Oo)

"Dr. Akagi?" Ritsuko looked up to see the pigtailed boy enter her office.

Ranma was still in his plug suit which was causing quite a distraction with the female population of NERV. Ritsuko grinned, remembering the female techs all crowded around a monitor watching Ranma. He was definitely a little heart breaker.

"Yes? What can I do for you, Ranma?" Ritsuko asked, gesturing for him to take a seat.

"I've been thinking, our guns for the Evas, they are basically just conventional artillery adapted into Eva-sized small arms, aren't they?" Ranma asked pensively.

Ritsuko blinked.

"Yes, I suppose that's true," she allowed. "Why do you ask?"

"Well, it's just that all the conventional artillery that was thrown at the last angel didn't even scratch it," Ranma posed. "Since our guns are adapted from that artillery, it seems like to me that the only really effective weapon we have is the prog knife and my hand-to-hand skill."

Ritsuko gaped at the pigtailed pilot. She suddenly had a sinking feeling that he was right.

"I...see," Ritsuko said hesitantly. "So what are you suggesting?"

"Well, I do have some ideas," Ranma grinned and rubbed his hands together. "I was thinking that since the prog knife is effective, at least it was on the angel I fought, we could expand on that and come up with a progressive katana, or a progressive naginata or something. The pole arm would give us a little more range, but the sword would be better for fighting in the streets. Do you think we could get some things like that?"

"Ranma, for someone with as little education as you have, you amaze me," Ritsuko said in surprise.

"I know fighting, Dr. Akagi," Ranma shrugged. "I may not know much else, but I do know fighting and it's what I'm best at."

"I don't doubt it," Ritsuko said, giving him a grin. "I'll pass your idea along to R&D with my recommendation. It shouldn't be hard to come up with something that fits the bill. Now why don't you get changed and I'll give you some more computer lessons."

Ranma groaned and rolled his eyes but did as he was told.

(oO\O/Oo)

Ranma sat quietly in the car that night as he caught a ride with Misato. He was thinking about his last words with Dr. Akagi, hoping that he didn't push her too hard.

"Be careful around my Pop, Dr. Akagi," Ranma had told her.

"Why?" She had asked with that amused little grin she had.

"Because he's a manipulative bastard with a god complex that gets off on toying with people's feelings and loyalties," Ranma explained. "He may appear to be helping save the world, but the old fart doesn't have an altruistic bone in his body. He's up to something, whether it's setting himself up to take over the world with an army of mindlessly loyal Eva's, or something worse, I know it in my gut. When the shit hits the fan, it'll be the people closest to him that get thrown to the wolves. You seem like a real nice person, Doc, and I would hate to see that happen to you."

Hopefully the hints were close enough to home that it would make the blonde woman think with more than her libido and not make her too suspicious of just what Ranma knew exactly.

"Whatcha thinkin' about, Ranma?" Misato asked.

Ranma looked over at her and smiled.

"Oh, just wondering if you would teach me how to drive," Ranma said casually.

Misato grinned like a maniac, which happened to match her driving to a tee.

"You really want me to teach you how to drive?" Misato asked hopefully.

"Hell yeah," Ranma smirked. "You're the best driver I've ridden with."

She was the only driver he'd ridden with but she didn't have to know that. Besides, her driving style seemed to have an aggressive flair that other drivers seemed to lack. Ranma thought it suited his own style nicely, always pushing the envelope. Riding with Misato was fun. He really didn't understand why people paled and ran screaming when faced with the prospect of being in the car with her driving.

"I dunno, Ranma. You're only fourteen after all," Misato hedged.

"Misato, I drive a 200 foot mecha around fighting angels, I think I can probably be trusted with a 2000 pound car," Ranma argued.

"What's it worth to ya?" Misato asked.

"Huh?" Ranma asked.

"Driving lessons. What are they worth to you? If I agree, what do I get out of it?" she smirked.

"What do ya want?" Ranma countered.

"Laundry," Misato said.

"Not a chance. No way I'm washin' your panties," Ranma declined. "How about for every lesson with me behind the wheel, I take your turn vacuuming."

"Dream on," Misato said laughed. "Same deal, except you take my turn cleaning the bathroom."

"Don't think so," Ranma shook his head. "How about I do the dishes every night until the lessons are over?"

He usually had to do dishes anyway since Misato was usually too drunk by that time to do a good job.

"Deal," Misato grinned. "We'll start this weekend."

"Right," Ranma agreed.

(oO\O/Oo)

"Class, we have a new student today," the homeroom teacher, Bendo Steinakawa said in a lethargic monotone. "Would you please introduce yourself?" the teacher said, putting several people to sleep in 12 words or less.

"Yo!" Ranma said loudly, jarring the sleeping students from their induced somnolence. "My name is Ranma Ikari. I'm a martial artist. I just came back from a ten year training trip that included traveling most of Asia. My dad is an evil bastard that plans to take over the world, but currently he's only gotten so far as running NERV. That's about all I got to say...oh wait, if you happen to see a petite healthy redhead running around, don't bother her; she's my sister. She ain't into guys and after she beats you down, I'll find you and take my turn, got it?"

Ranma punctuated his statement by cracking his knuckles. As there was only one kid in the class that was bigger than him, and then not by much, the guys all flinched and nodded.

"Great," Steinakawa-sensei said lethargically. "If you could have a seat in any available desk Ikari-san, we'll get started on our lecture. Today we will be covering the Second Impact."

Three quarters of the class was asleep before he got half way through those three sentences. Ranma looked around the room and spotted Rei Ayanami right where he expected her to be. He moved to the desk behind her and sat down.

"We gotta talk later, Ayanami-san," Ranma whispered to her.

The blue-haired girl nodded imperceptibly and continued to stare out the window. Ranma for his part never had a chance. Within five minutes of listening to the indolent teacher and his languid speech sucking the energy from the room, Ranma was comatose.

(oO\O/Oo)

Ranma woke up to someone poking his shoulder. He picked his head up to notice that it must have been the break between classes since everyone was up and walking around. Then he noticed the three girls clustered around his desk.

"Excuse me, Ikari-san," the more outgoing of them said. "We were wondering; are you the pilot of the giant robot?"

Ranma blinked at them.

"Well, are you?" one of the other girls prompted.

Ranma sighed in resignation because he knew what was coming next.

"Yes," Ranma admitted, and as he expected he was instantly swamped with other students peppering him with questions.

There were only three students that didn't seem to care about asking him all sorts of inane questions about the Eva; Rei, Hikari the Class Rep, and the large guy that Ranma pegged as Toji. Ranma knew this was the guy that planned on trying to feed him a knuckle sandwich later. Ranma felt for the guy and his sister, but Ranma wasn't about to let Toji take his frustrations out on him.

Ranma was eventually saved from the inquisition by the next teacher coming in and calling the class to order.

(oO\O/Oo)

Once again, Ranma was awoken to someone tapping him on the shoulder. Ranma looked up to see Rei's heavily bandaged regard.

"Pilot Ikari, it is lunch time," she said mechanically. "This would be an acceptable time for you to speak with me."

"Um, right," Ranma said, taking out his bento. "I just wanted to get to know you a little better. I thought maybe since we have to work together that we could be friends."

"Why?" Rei asked.

"Why not?" Ranma asked. "Look, Rei, bein' friends and getting to know each other will help us work together better."

"How?" Rei asked.

"Okay, first, we will get an idea of each others strengths and weaknesses," Ranma explained. "And we will have an idea how the other might react to any situation so we can move to support each other faster in a fight by anticipatin' how the other will react."

"Being friends with you will make me a better pilot?" Rei asked in a tone devoid of emotion.

"Maybe," Ranma nodded. "If you want I could even train you in the art. My trainin' helped me a lot when I fought that angel."

"I reviewed the recording of your battle and you are an adequate pilot," Rei conceded, causing Ranma's eye to twitch at being called 'adequate'. "However, if having a friend was necessary to be a better pilot, then the Commander would have assigned me one."

Ranma put his face in his palm and shook his head.

"Rei, Pop might know a lot of things but he doesn't know shit about being a warrior," Ranma said. "All he knows is how to bully and use people."

"He is a great man," Rei argued, her tone still not betraying a hint of emotion.

"Don't make me laugh," Ranma snorted. "He's a pathetic, self-centered, evil bastard. To call him a snake is an insult to snakes everywhere. You just don't know any better because he's kept you isolated from other people to keep you from seeing what he really is."

"He is the Commander, he deserves respect," Rei countered.

"Respect is earned, Rei," Ranma argued. "Just because someone managed to lie and manipulate their way into a position of power don't make them worthy of respect."

"Why?" Rei queried.

"Because people who are worthy of respect, respect others and try to help them," Ranma explained. "Pop has no respect for anyone except as far as their abilities to help him or hinder him from gettin' what he wants."

"Commander Ikari wishes to help all people," Rei asserted.

"Does he really, Rei?" Ranma asked. "Or does he want to use them to achieve his goals no matter what it may cost the people around him in the end?"

Rei blinked at that. Ranma knew that she was, by necessity, privy to Gendo's ultimate plan, being a key part of it.

"Anyway, that's all beside the point," Ranma said. "I wanna be your friend and help you become a better pilot. What'd ya say?"

"Your offer does appear to have merit," Rei allowed. "I shall have to consider it."

"Fair enough," Ranma nodded. "You let me know when you're ready to begin training."

"Affirmative," Rei said, turning back to her own bento.

Smirking, Ranma quickly finished his bento and headed out of the classroom. He had an appointment with a certain angry jock.

(oO\O/Oo)

"Hey, New Kid!" Ranma smirked as he heard the expected challenge and turned.

"Me?" Ranma asked innocently.

"You see any other new kids around here?" the large jock retorted.

"Whatcha want?" Ranma asked.

"Because of your joy ride in your little toy, my sister's in the hospital," Toji stated. "Nothing personal, but it's my duty as her brother to kick your ass."

Ranma rolled his eyes as Toji cracked his knuckles.

"'Kay, take your best shot, Tough Guy," Ranma said, crossing his arms over his chest and waiting.

Toji shrugged and charged in with a haymaker he was certain would put the guy down. Ranma turned his head with the blow and having fought some of the most powerful people in his world, he barely felt Toji's untrained punch. Toji blinked as Ranma didn't even sway with the blow, just turned his head back to look at the larger boy.

"That all ya got, Cupcake? 'Cause to be honest, I've seen little old ladies that could hit harder than that," Ranma observed.

Both Toji and his friend blinked in disbelief, but the jock quickly recovered and growled, pulling his fist back for another punch. Ranma redirected the punch, snagging Toji's wrist and spinning him around. Toji found his right arm bent behind his head, his elbow sticking straight up, while Ranma hooked his free arm through Toji's left. Transferring his grip on Toji's wrist to the arm hooked through the larger boy's left arm, Ranma grabbed the jock around the throat, pulling him down and back, off balance with no leverage.

"Listen up, Cupcake," Ranma said causally. "I feel really bad about your sister, I really do. And I understand you're angry because you couldn't protect her. You gotta use your head for something more than a hat rack though. If I hadn't fought that angel, your sister, you, your buddy over there, everyone in this city, if not the world, would be dead, not just injured. I didn't choose where to fight that thing, it did. Be angry at the monster, not the guy that saved your sorry hide. Besides, you got about as much chance of hurting me as you do the stupid monster, so I guess you better find an easier target to take your frustrations out on, got it?"

"Pilot Ikari, another angel has been detected," Rei said, arriving on cue. "We are to meet Captain Katsuragi in front of the school to be taken to headquarters."

As Rei took off, Ranma stood Toji up and released him.

"Sorry, love to stay and chat, but I got a city to save," Ranma said, patting the larger boy on the shoulder. "You guys better get to a shelter."

Toji and Kensuke gaped as Ranma leapt up, bouncing off a second story window ledge and then onto the roof of the school and disappearing from their sight.

"It's probably not a good idea for you to pick any more fights with him, Toji," Kensuke opined.

Toji, still wide-eyed in awe, shook his head rapidly. One minute he was taking a swing at the guy and the next, he was locked up and powerless, at the guy's mercy and not even knowing how it happened. This Ranma Ikari was definitely not someone any sane person wanted to tangle with. Beside, he said he felt bad about Toji's sister and had given him a free shot, and maybe he was right about saving everyone, so far be it from Toji Suzuhara not to forgive and forget. Yup, he had meted out his retribution on the guy, so he could let it go. No need to beat on the guy any more.

"L-let's get to the shelter," Toji said, grabbing Kensuke by his shirt and dragging him off as the sirens began to sound.

(oO\O/Oo)

"Ranma! Prepare to die!" Ryoga yelled as he burst into the room causing Nabiki to roll her eyes and pause the tape.

"You Jackass, Ranma-honey ain't here!" Ukyo snapped.

"Huh?" Ryoga looked around, confused. "But I just heard him."

"That's because some Jackass used a spell on him to trap him in these video tapes," Ukyo explained. "We are watching what he's doing in that world."

"Huh?" Ryoga said intelligently.

"Oh my, perhaps while somebody explains things, I'll go start dinner. We can watch the next episode afterward," Kasumi suggested.

"Wonderful idea, Kasumi," Soun said.

"Quite right, Tendo," Genma agreed, though he was still a bit miffed at the slanderous misinterpretations of his actions the show seemed overly fond of pointing out.

"I'll give ya a hand, Kasumi," Ukyo offered, getting up and following the oldest Tendo sister into the kitchen.

While dinner was being prepared, Nabiki explained to Ryoga what had happened, for a suitable fee of course. Ryoga listened to the story with a growing sense of joy. Finally, someone had gotten that cowardly bastard Ranma out of the way! Now there was nothing standing between him and dear, sweet Akane!

"So let me get this straight, Ranma was banished into this Neon Genesis Evangelion anime, where he is fighting these things called angels, but in the end, it's all for nothing because the world gets destroyed and everybody gets dissolved into goo anyway?" Ryoga asked.

"Well, we don't know for sure," Nabiki said. "That's how the original anime ended, but Ranma has already changed a few minor things, so he might be able to stop the apocalypse. This was his favorite anime so he knows what's supposed to happen. He just has to use that knowledge to stop things from happening that way. It's a long shot though. There's a lot of things stacked against him."

"I see," Ryoga said, beginning to chortle. "So it's a big possibility that Ranma will die in the end? And nobody knows how to bring him back?"

"Pretty much," Nabiki admitted.

"Oh happy day!" Ryoga crowed and started laughing hysterically. "Finally, someone has managed to rid the world of that honorless coward! This is such wonderful news...erk!"

Ryoga's celebration was cut short by way of a bonbori and a battle spatula applied to his head repeatedly.

"Pig-boy no talk about Airen like that," Shampoo said.

"Yeah, Sugar, you got a lot of room to talk about being honorless," Ukyo added after she returned to the room with some dishes to set the table just as Ryoga began his squeals of joy.

Akane had refrained from malleting him due to the fact that she thought of him as a friend, however, she was giving him a speculative look. She had thought that deep down, Ryoga was Ranma's friend. After all he always tried to help Ranma find a cure for his curse, in spite of the fact that Ranma was always picking on him. However, Ryoga's outburst of joy at what had happened was definitely not the reaction of a friend.

Akane's look darkened as she began reviewing Ryoga's various encounters with Ranma in this new light.

(oO\O/Oo)