You can guess the crossover. Ranma won't wear a fuku, and also no tuxedo. He won't be some re-incarnation. He is just... Ranma. I want to avoid numerous stuff that became the norm in these crossovers but that actually is pretty stupid. I also will make it clear that while Ranma and the Senshi learn new techniques, I won't sink to the insane levels of the canon, where it became an absurd arms race in the later parts of both series. It's a common weakness in anime series that the power level increases to ridiculous levels. (In my opinion, DBZ is the worst offender in that regard in the anime world) I will try to stay on Earth and try to give everything a bit more realistic feeling (as much as it as it is possible) but don't worry... hilarity will still ensure!

Needless to say that I will slaughter the canon of both series, but I guess you expected this. Also I don't have any rights to both series, but I guess you know that, too.

The situation in Nerima gets out of control... with this time unusual results...

Note that this is the updated chapter, it is significantly better from the original one, as my writing skills have improved a lot over the years.


Chapter 3: Nerima shaken to the Core

Akane Tendo was in a very bad mood, while she was on her way to school this morning. A very, VERY bad mood.

Tatewaki Kuno had continued his harassment every day, first forcing quite a number of the male population to attack her and then appearing himself to show off what a pompous jerk he was, spouting some bad poetry before she would shut him up with her fists. No doubt he was counting on her to be spent after dealing with the others and expecting an easy win.

Up to now she had done a good job at silencing the crowd without actually injuring them with anything worse than slight bruises -something she had learned thanks to her training- but yesterday her control had almost slipped. Poor guy had looked so scared that he'd said he'd rather face Kuno's wrath than again almost getting his head smashed in.

If this went on she feared that any day now her control could leave her, resulting in her causing real injuries -maybe even life-threatening ones. She knew that even with her incomplete training she was a walking weapon and knew strikes that could kill someone. She dreaded the day her control would slip, feeling so helpless because the chance of this happening became bigger with each day, with her nerves getting so thin thanks to constantly having to take this shit.

Even worse, there was no way to drain this anger slowly out of her system.

Her family was no big help. Her father, with whom she still wasn't speaking with, had taken the news of the cancelled engagement and her anger towards him so bad that Kasumi needed to help and raise his mood all the time, which meant that she couldn't be there for her baby sister. And Nabiki... Akane knew what Nabiki did in school, so she didn't even dare to ask her for help. It was scary how her older sister, who once had been the most cheerful of the three, had become so cold and calculating.

And no one in the school administration dared to raise a hand against this madness, since Kuno was the son of the currently-absent principal. A principal who was known to have...connections and who, as Kasumi put it, was pretty much a loon. Also no one would believe her what was going on, as everyone else would be too scared to actually testify against Kuno.

Sooner than she would have liked she approached the school gate. OK, breathe... you can do that. Stay calm. Don't let this idiot get the better of you...

Entering the school yard, she was greeted with a mob of boys, as usual. In the last days even some of the girls had joined in this farce, in order to end this charade by forcing a defeat on her. That was another sign that things were close to hit rock bottom. However, this time there was a variation. Tatewaki Kuno in all his buffoonish glory stood in front of the hoard, bokken his his hand, obviously waiting to deliver a pre-prepared speech. That was different to before, where he would wait until the onslaught was over.

She felt her blood pressure rising, fearing the worst at this change of routine.

"Oh what a lovely sight to see this is!" Kuno began to rant as soon as he saw her. It was clear that he must have changed tactics and now wanted to attack with the horde. "The lovely Akane Tendo, a prize truly worthy to conquer. A flower who only I shall have the privilege to fulfill."

That was the last straw. This declaration from Kuno had done it and her self-control slipped when she saw the horde and Kuno attacking her yet another time.

She saw red.


...Saotome home, later that day...

"When did they say will the cast come off?" Ami asked, while showing him how to solve a geometric problem. For two weeks now Ami had been busy with trying to get him ready for his entrance exam. It was hard, hard work. Thankfully Ranma had the will to learn, or this would have been much harder.

"Four days. And not one day to early," Ranma answered, again feeling the urge to scratch his leg as it itched horribly under the cast.

He hated the cast and would be glad to get rid of it. He felt like he had lost his bite and really wanted to get back in shape. He already felt the effects of this prolonged inactivity and he would have to work overtime on regaining the lost strength. He couldn't allow himself to slack off.

Ami had to admit, helping him every day had been quite an adventure and she had caught herself several times staying a little longer to just talk with him. He wasn't that great at conversation but also he tried not to hurt her feelings, although he unintentionally had done so several times, resulting in his mother looking displeased and him apologizing until she said that it was enough. Also, she had been amused when he told her that he saw her as the sensei and himself as the learner.

But how he actually felt, that she didn't know. He didn't speak much about his feelings and what went on inside him. He'd said he didn't talking about his emotions. Not that he knew much about her either. She had guarded her private life well and he seemed to accept that without a question.

Ranma meanwhile couldn't help but to admire Ami. That she knew all this from memory without much effort... He had real trouble to wrap his head around some of the more complicated stuff, especially when it was too abstract to package -although she had been able to reduce packaging and still got his interest. And yet Ami had remained mysterious to him. He actually knew next to nothing about her, apart from some things she had let slip when they talked. She was there and he knew she was nice and yet she was still almost an unwritten piece of paper for him.

He wasn't known as Mr. Subtle, so he asked her outright while completing the geometric form, "You know, funny... We know each other for two weeks already, yet I actually know next to nothing about you."

Ami winced when hearing his bad accent, something that his mother was busy getting out of him though it was a work in progress. The question did surprise her. Ranma actually did want to learn more about her? "Uhm... no one ever asked me that. I wasn't very popular."

"Their loss. You're a nice girl." Seeing Ami blushing a little, he wondered if he had said something wrong. Girls were so complicated. "Are you all right?" he asked, hoping that he hadn't screwed up again. He didn't want to hurt Ami's feelings, nor was he keen on getting lectured again by her mother, who could make him feel like a punished six-year old without saying even one angry word.

"No...no... Just no boy ever called me a nice girl..." She tried to get herself back under control. Seeing Ranma looking questioning to her, she felt she should tell him a little about herself . "You might admire how smart I am, but for me it is more trouble than blessing. No one likes someone who is easily double as smart as them. Everyone gave me a hard time until I switched school and learned to fade into the background."

Ranma couldn't understand that. Ami was so nice to him right from the beginning. Him, a total stranger to her. In his frame of reference it would be like others shunning him just because he had learned the art and they didn't. For him the idea was ridiculous.

"Pffft, jealous. All of them. Couldn't stand that you were better than them," he declared.

This took Ami by surprise. She had always assumed that others of her age shunned her because they felt she was looking down on them or feeling superior. She had never thought that it could be that others envied her for being so smart. The idea was new and actually explained several things.

"Why do you think so?" she asked.

"Met a lot of these in the art. Declared me to be a meat head just because I was better than them and they got jealous of me." No one had ever accused him of being very observant of the people around him, but that others were jealous of his mastery of the art and therefore shunned him, even he understood that.

Ami was surprised at this insight. She had never looked at her problem from this angle. It also proved something she suspected about Ranma: he actually was quite capable of understanding such situations, if he had a frame of reference he could relate to.

"That's actually the first time I look at it this way. -sigh- Although I try to forget it, they did call me many things. Unattractive, nerdy and an eyesore."

"Look, I'm no expert on judging how good girls are looking... But for me, you look pretty enough," he told her.

He hoped that it sounded nice. He wasn't used to sweet-talk with a girl. Using his limited ideas about female beauty, he found she looked quite good. But of course she had no chance to rival some of the girls he had seen, especially some of these psycho-girls in that village back in China. But in a way he preferred this girl, who looked more normal and less like a sexbomb.

One thing Ami had learned soon, was, that Ranma had difficulties when it came to lying. He was almost brutally honest. Of course that meant he could get into trouble for being honest when a lie or bending the truth were normally better suited to play by the rules of society. But right now, she again blushed at hearing the nicest thing a boy had told her up to now.

"T-thanks..." she thanked him.

That moment, the sliding door was opened and Nodoka entered the room. "Son, I..." she stopped when seeing Ami blushing. "Have I interrupted anything I should know about?"

"Uhmmmm..." Ranma had no idea what to answer to that. He felt reluctant to tell his mother that he had called Ami pretty.

"Ahm... no. No, Mrs. Saotome, there was nothing going on," Ami stammered. She knew she was acting like an idiot, but she couldn't help it.

Nodoka wondered what she had interrupted. Perhaps she should urge Ami to finally give her son 'the talk'? Ami had said that she would do so later, but Nodoka had the feeling that the girl wanted to cancel the whole thing. No, she wouldn't push Ami and her son together, interfering into things like that usually spelled disaster. But her son couldn't stay ignorant about girls, and what happened between boys and girls, for much longer.

But now there was a different matter at hand. "I'm sorry that I have to end your tutoring early, but I was called over the phone and the matter is serious. I need to clear this with my son and husband."

"Mom? What happened that you need me and Pop?" Ranma wondered. Why had a phone call riled up his mother so much? Normally she was the calmness in person.

His mother knew that he didn't know of this whole engagement-story in Nerima. She probably would have to protect Genma from their son after telling him the whole thing. But that couldn't be avoided now, when telling him of the mess that had happened in Nerima. A mess they had been notified of because her husband's friend's family was deep in it.

No, she wouldn't tell him this in front of Ami. "I'll explain everything downstairs. Ami, I fear all of us won't be at home tomorrow, so you have tomorrow for yourself."

Ami had a feeling that she should be relieved. Whatever it was that Ranma's mother had heard, it must have been bad. After learning that her son is cursed to change his gender with water, what could make this woman so worked up? she wondered.


...at the same time in Nerima...

"If you ask me, this is one of the biggest messes I've ever seen. It's moments like these when we're rudely reminded we live in a country where no one says anything until it all blows up," his co-worker from the social services said while preparing to go home.

Noboru Kaioh knew that his co-worker was right, this was the biggest mess in Nerima since he had started this job almost 20 years ago. A really big train wreck where numerous sad stories were revealed and a scandal laid bare were in the end surely some heads would roll.

Leaning back, he gathered his thoughts while trying to remember how it had started.

It had started right at the morning. They had barely started to work when they were called by the police. They were told to come to Furinkan High with everyone they got, especially getting as many as possible that had studied psychology, since they needed the opinion of professionals. The request was strange, but arriving at the school they found themselves in the middle of a huge mess and the explanation what had happened was already bad enough.

There had been a big fight in the school yard. Blood had been shed. Some onlookers had seen that and called the police. The fight had resulted in almost a dozed students having broken bones or other injuries, and one of them, wearing a kendo outfit, was still trying to swipe his wooden sword at a girl. They literally had to use gas to knock out the crazy boy while the girl seemed to have gone into shock. So while the ambulances cared for the injured, the police had tried to get out what had happened.

At first they got nothing. But once the first participant started to crack, more and more found the courage to tell the truth.

Apparently the boy with the sword, Tatewaki Kuno, had an almost insane fixation on the girl, named Akane Tendo. He had bullied every boy in school into breaking off any relationship with girls until Tendo was 'defeated'. When most had first ignored him, he had beaten up several of them, landing them in hospital with additional threats to stay silent. Kuno forced them to attack Ms. Tendo with a literal reign of terror. No one in the administration ever reported it because Kuno's father was the principal, a man with many connections, who was currently absent.

Noboru sighed, this was where they came in, as this kind of thing usually caused deep scars on such young minds.

The police were still busy with grilling the teachers and other personnel, while they themselves were busy with taking care of everyone. That was when the discoveries began. First there was the Kuno boy. Listening to him only for minutes, they already knew that he was so deluded and in his own world that only a very serious mental problem could be the cause. So they had driven to his house, only to meet the caretaker, a man name Sasuke.

At first he had said nothing. But after enough digging it became apparent, that the man's calmness was only a thin front to reveal a man that was plagued by guilt. He finally admitted that something was seriously wrong. Ever since the mother of the Kuno children had died years ago, they had to endure the growing madness of their father, which had resulted in emotional cruelty and making their lives hell. Then, some years ago, he had abandoned them altogether to leave the country.

Sasuke had started to cry while telling them how he had tried, how hard he had tried to repair the damage that had been done. But it was to no avail. Tatewaki Kuno had totally retreated into his own world, a world where no one could hurt him any longer. Meanwhile his sister Kodachi had snapped and truly become crazy. Crazy in the way of an extreme sociopath who could turn into a murdering black widow at any moment.

They had truly felt sorry for the man when he cried under tears how he felt like a total failure. They were still trying to calm him down while already decisions were made to get help for the Kuno children as fast as possible. Also they would send out word that Kocho Kuno, a possible madman, had to be put on the wanted list.

He hadn't known during this point that a different team also had met another sad story.

While Akane Tendo was still in shock over the fact that she had caused real injuries, she had said things that had aroused interest. So they had, after finally managing to assure her that everyone would recover, driven her home so that they could meet her family... And it turned out to be a really dysfunctional family.

Right at the beginning when they mentioned what had happened, the girl's father had broken into tears, crying that his baby girl had gotten intro trouble. When they asked the oldest daughter about it, she told them that their father was this way ever since the death of his wife almost ten years ago. A little more probing resulted in more answers. Soun Tendo was an emotionally fragile man. She didn't know the cause of it, only that it had something to do with his old, cruel master. The death of his wife Kimko had come all of a sudden and had hit him very hard. He was unable to do his job as a instructor of martial arts any longer and the family lived off a fund their mother had set up many years ago. Recently, a huge disappointment had hit her father and he took it badly.

Kasumi Tendo, the oldest sister, was reluctant to say more and only after more questions it became obvious that they had hoped he would get better, but instead he became worse. That was why they hadn't helped their father by getting him professional help. To the unschooled eye, Kasumi Tendo looked calm and oblivious while she said this. But a schooled psychologist had had no trouble to see that the whole thing was a huge burden for her.

Simply talking to her, while not getting off track when she tried to change the topic, revealed a young woman who was exhausted, tired, in danger of burning out. She had to fill the gap that her mother had left, trying to hold the house together. She had totally given up every of her dreams for the family and yet she had to see her father slowly being destroyed by his grief, her sister Nabiki shutting everyone out of her life and developing an armor of deep cynism to protect herself from what she felt a dangerous world, and her youngest sister Akane feeling more and more angry because she felt held back.

Kasumi admitted after realising that she already had said so much, that she hid all her grief behind a mask of cheerfulness so that the family wouldn't worry, but slowly her inner strength left her. She was a woman who threatened to break apart over everything weighting on her.

From there on, the situation had taken a pace on its own.

Nabiki Tendo had come home during this, and made it clear that no one would analyze her, before at once retreating to her room. That she had reacted so aggressive only proved what they had heard: that she tried to compensate her fears by trying to always be in control and letting no one near her. But since she had blocked everything, nothing could be done for her.

Surprisingly, the youngest Tendo sister had actually the least issues -only a growing anger that her father simply didn't take her serious as a martial artist- but the recent hell she had went through easily made up for that. Akane Tendo was scared of the fact that she had actually used the art to hurt others in blind anger.

Noboru felt a headache coming up.

Looking at the files on his desk, he saw the picture of a doctor in his late twenties. The man had a clinic in Nerima and was friends with the family, but they had some trouble with him when trying to get his opinion. He was nice, but had freaked when mention of the eldest Tendo sister was made, so they had to tie him to a chair. But after he had regained his senses, he admitted that he always had these blackouts when getting excited, especially when the oldest Tendo sister was mentioned.

Strange man... Well, the guys in the hospital surely will find out what is wrong with him. Imagine a doctor not getting the idea of seeing if it is a medical issue... he thought in amusement.

Noboru knew that this labyrinth of mental scars they had discovered wouldn't be so easily dissolved. But that was for what they were for. The less-than-pleasant face of Nerima had been shown. He had seen plenty of families in bad situations, but to imagine letting the whole situation become worse over the course of ten years until it had escalated in such a way...

Yes, a do-not-tell culture, indeed! And then these people with the spine of an earthworm who had allowed the situation in the school to escalate...

"Lots, lots of work..."

Trying to get his thoughts to some happier things, he thought of his daughter Michiru. She was the whole pride of the family. The young woman was such a talented violin player and also a very empathic person. Right now she was somewhere in Hokkaido to give a concert. The only thing that had made some of the relatives concerned was, that she was obviously playing on both sides of the fence.

Really strange companion she has with this girl... He had never before seen such a masculine woman, who yet could become feminine in a second. Well, unlike others he wouldn't complain about his daughter's orientation. And to be honest, this Haruka girl is nice enough and promised us she would make sure that nothing would happen to Michiru.

Looking over the files, he vowed to get them into order and then call it a day.


...the next day...

It was an awkward atmosphere in the Tendo home.

It was no wonder when the family whose son weeks ago had had a wedding arrangement with one of the Tendo daughters was now present because of a different crisis. That they actually were there was because of Kasumi. She had remembered her father's old friend and hoped that hopefully her idea would mend the rift between the two men while at the same time getting what they needed for Akane. It would be beneficial for everyone involved.

But while Kasumi told the three Saotomes everything which had happened in more detail, everyone in the room had something different on their minds.

Ranma looked very angry to his father, still pissed over the wedding plans his father had done with numerous girls. His mother had thought it would be better not to tell him and he actually agreed with this reasoning, but now the cat was out of the bag and he was angry at his old man. That, and he felt uneasy with the way these girls looked at him. The mere idea that he had been almost engaged to one of them made the whole situation even more difficult for him.

Genma meanwhile had two main emotions. He was still scared by the sheer anger his son silently directed to him, remembering when his son had tried to beat him to death with his crutch. At the same time he looked concerned to his old friend. When they had parted ways, Soun seemed to have come out of the hell of their master's tyranny much better than him. But it seemed that only his happy marriage had held him together and Soun now looked horrible. The concern for his friend, real concern which Genma hadn't shown for years, made him worry what could happen to the man.

Nodoka meanwhile listened to the story while seeing the bigger picture. She could easily see that the whole family was hurting. The father was an emotional wreck and the daughters also were quite shaken, although they all hid it more or less. Nabiki seemed cold, Kasumi's worries overrode her own fatigue and Akane was really quiet.

Soun barely avoided another crying fit. The events of yesterday had hit him unprepared and almost caused his fragile psyche to collapse. For years he had lied to himself that nothing was wrong with him. It was only after this almost-breakdown and the presence of someone who did recognize the problem, that his remaining pride was broken and he had accepted that he indeed needed help.

Kasumi felt tired. No one had suspected it in all these years, but trying to hold the house together, acting as the replacement mother, had cost her much strength over the years. She had practically only lived for the others. However, as bad as the events of last day were, they had broken up the status quo. She hoped, really hoped, that all of them could get better finally. But there was still the fact of the favor she had to ask the Saotomes.

Nabiki tried to look indifferent, but in reality she was deeply disturbed by what had happened. While she always tried to pretend she would calculate everything in, this wasn't true. She had been unthinking when she had encouraged Kuno's lusting after Akane with pictures for money. She was ashamed of herself but didn't want to appear weak, so she hid her feelings behind a mask of pure ice.

And Akane... She still felt that she had violated the code at that day, had used the art for something that went against it, although by now she'd calmed by down after being reassured that there'd be no charges against her. She also didn't think she could find the courage to return to Furinkan High anytime soon. Even these people from social services had said that it would be better for her to have a change of scene, where she wouldn't be reminded of her problems every day. Akane already had a guess why Kasumi had invited the Saotomes.

Finally, Kasumi concluded her recounting of the previous day's events.

No one said anything for a while, until Ranma couldn't take the silence any longer. "Alright. Pretty heavy stuff. But what did that have to do with us?"

"Ranma!" Nodoka scolded her son, who at once went silent when realizing that he had goofed. She then shook her head. "I'm sorry, but my husband gravely neglected my son's upbringing, so his choice of words is often unthinking even if he doesn't want to be rude. He doesn't know any different but we are working on it."

Composing herself, she then continued. "However, he does have a valid point. Why exactly have you insisted on all of us coming here in person? I understand that your father and my husband are friends, but surely there is more to it?"

"Yes, there is." Kasumi knew that the true reason why she had asked them to come couldn't be put off for long. "You see, after what happened yesterday... After everything had spiraled out of control, we realized that Akane's wounds can't heal here, where she is reminded of it at every moment. She herself agrees she needs to get away from all of it. But we know no one outside the ward..."

Nodoka now knew what Kasumi was playing at. "So you hope that she can move to Minato ward with us, giving her much needed time away from all the reminders of what had went wrong?"

"Yes. We would be grateful if you could do that."

After she had mentioned that, Genma and Soun looked interested. Nodoka knew that could spell trouble. She felt bad about it, but she had to say it nonetheless. "I'm sorry, but I fear this is a bad idea. For one, our house doesn't have any free rooms. Also it could give your father false hope that there could be a chance to save the cancelled engagement. It would only lead to more stress for poor Akane."

Actually the latter was the main reason, as it wouldn't have been trouble to have a room directly under the roof of their house. She didn't want to create a new situation wher ein the end there'd only be broken hearts and hurt feelings.

Kasumi looked disappointed while Soun looked away, trying to hide his embarrassment. He had to admit that he probably would have tried something to push Ranma and Akane together. Desperation sometimes won over common sense.

Nodoka knew that the family now probably was really disappointed, but she wouldn't move a millimeter from her decision. However, she wasn't without empathy and so decided that there was an alternative. "However, there is still another choice. Excuse me, I have some calls to make and it could take some time."

I hope one of them agrees...

Watching his mother leave, Ranma then looked to the three girls. "Feels strange to sit here, remembering that I was almost chained to one of you."

All three girls had a different opinion on that. Kasumi was glad that she wasn't forced into the engagement, as she still had a huge crush on Dr. Tofu and generally preferred someone a little older than her. Nabiki's opinion that he was a stupid idiot had been reinforced and even the possible gain from a lip-service engagement wasn't worth it. Akane didn't know what to think of Ranma as he hadn't said much, but of course she didn't want an engagement as well.

There was some awkward silence until Akane decided that they really needed a change of topic. "THAT aside... I heard you are good in the art."

"One of the best there is," Ranma said with confidence. And it wasn't even in arrogance, he was really so sure of himself. "But if you want a demonstration, sorry. Can't do it with this," he added, pointing to the cast on his leg. "I can tell you are the only one actively training, although you are not up to my level."

"You're mocking me?" That was the last she needed right now, someone like her father: holding her back, making fun of her. She didn't need insult to injury.

Instead of answering, he looked to Genma. "Pop, you tell her what I did for training in the last ten years. Uncensored version. Dare you if you tell her bullshit."

Genma gulped, remembering his wife's reaction to his training methods, but seeing no way out aside for making Ranma even more angry at him than he already was, he listed off the hardships of the training and the insane methods he had used. Akane became paler when hearing how hardened Ranma had become and that his level could only literally be achieved through blood, tears and sweat. Soun on the other hand wasn't surprised, it was an aftereffect of their old master, may he burn in the deepest hells.

"I need a drink!" Akane said when Genma had finally stopped listing off insanity. Reaching for her glass with soda, she accidentally knocked it over, spilling the contents on Ranma.

Feeling the instant change, Ranma knew that she probably would never get a rest. Why me? Now I have to pull off another explanation... The curse started to really annoy him. He could only wonder what would happen if he changed in school. No, he didn't want to think about it.

Giving off a quite feminine sigh, she addressed everyone. "You know, this is a really long story..."

The reactions were quite varied.

Soun wondered if he had drunk Sake without knowing, checking his glass if it really was filled with something non-alcoholic. Kasumi didn't look fazed on the outside, but that only was because she was so confused that her mind had switched to auto-pilot. Nabiki's eyes had went wide when seeing the impossible, her mouth having mutated into a temporary fly trap. And Akane... going against her tomboy image she did something really ladylike: she fainted on the spot.

That was the situation that greeted Nodoka when she returned. "Good news, I found..." She stopped, looked around and spotted the reason for it. "Oh dear..." She slowly understood the reason for the change being labeled a curse, if it created such reactions. Well, they would better give them an explanation... of course after waking up Akane.

Genma looked to Soun, feeling that his old friend could use some distraction until this confusion was cleared. "Tendo, you still have the Shogi board? I think this could take a while..."

Soun mutely nodded, feeling that a nice game of Shogi with his old friend would distract him from the weirdness that had invaded his house.

o

Half an hour later, things looked considerably better.

Ranma's mother had indeed managed to find someone who'd take in Akane during her stay in Minato and Akane had calmed down after waking up, trying to rationalise Ranma's curse away. The grown-ups were right now busy with planning everything, so Kasumi had excused herself to clean the kitchen while Nabiki had almost fled upstairs to get space betwene her and Rama. It was almost as if she was afraid of him.

That had left the two of them and Ranma had become curios and asked for a demonstration. Akane of course was reluctant after the events of the morning, but finally agreed, thus why he right now watched her giving him a demonstration of all she could do without an opponent inside the family's dojo.

While watching Akane doing the various moves in her yellow gi, Ranma had to admit that it was a really nice dojo and it was a shame that it wasn't used to teach classes. Returning hsi critical eyes to Akane, he had no trouble to see where her weaknesses were. It was painfully obvious.

He waited until she was done, making sure to follow his mother's advice that while honesty was a virtue, being blunt about it would be plain rude. "Not bad... The potential is there, but the gaps in your training are undeniable."

She knew he didn't mean it as an insult and kept herself under control. "Well, I can thank my father. He never took my training serious, planned to get me hitched to you right from the start."

"His loss. Be glad that you didn't train with my Old Man. His opinion of woman is that they are good for three things: cooking, cleaning the house and having children," Ranma told her.

"I probaly would've killed him in his sleep after a week..." she muttered, then remembered his curse. "Wait, with your curse..."

"Yeah... You guess how he ripped into me after that. That was no fun..." Ranma by now had a serious dislike of his father's sexist attitude after being at the receiving end of it.

She had to admit, Ranma was perhaps the only boy who could truely claim to have suffered under sexism against woman. While she felt absolutely no kind romantic attraction to him, she felt that maybe they could be friends. For any more than that his life was simply to weird for her taste.


...some days later...

"But Mom!"

"No buts, Shingo. Your father and I gave our word," Ikuko Tsukino waved off the protests of her son. He hadn't been thrilled of a girl moving in with them, living in the room directly under the roof. But it wasn't that his protests had any weight with his parents.

"Thanks again that you accepted. Everyone else had one reason or another why they couldn't," Nodoka again thanked her, while watching the Tendo girl carrying her stuff upstairs. Akane had insisted on doing so, saying that she wasn't a frail flower.

"After you told me what that poor girl had went through, I couldn't reject her," Ikuko explained.

Ikkuko knew Nodoka Saotome for some years now. Since they lived in the same neighborhood it had been only a matter of time. Although the woman had only become approachable several years ago, before that she had been quite reclusive. She also noticed a difference in her since her son had returned to her some weeks ago. The woman had become more relaxed and open, as if a part of her had returned after a long absence, mending an old wound.

"Hopefully this will also be beneficial for my own daughter..." Ikuko sighed.

Nodoka had heard Ikuko several times complaining over her daughter's bad habits. It was one of the topics that came up regularly when having some tea with her. It seemed that it was still as bad as ever. "Is the girl still so lazy?"

"I can't make her understand that without good grades, she will fail in life. But she doesn't take the school work serious and is either busy with reading her fashion magazines or some love novel. I'm only glad that up to now she had utterly failed to get a boyfriend. At least one field where her clumsiness is of benefit for me... Usagi, what should I do with her?"

Nodoka knew what she had with her son. He at least really made an effort once he became interested in something. That, and he actually wanted to succeed, while Usagi Tsukino didn't know at all what she wanted, living into the day.

Said Usagi was upstairs under the roof, helping Akane setting up the room.

"You say you do martial arts? Wow, although that's nothing for me. Far too to taxing. I think you'll like it here and there are lots of good looking boys around..." she said, giving Akane no time to respond when already jumping to the next topic.

Akane wondered if that girl was some sort of living chatterbox. She grimaced when boys were mentioned, because that was something she wanted to avoid for the time being. Finally she managed to change the topic. "Eh, is your hair natural? There aren't many blondes in Japan."

The sudden change of topic threw Usagi off, her chatter drying up for a moment. "Uh?... Ah. Yeah, it's natural. You wouldn't believe how often I hear THAT question. Doctors said it some sort of harmless glitch, nothing to worry about."

Akane knew that this was her chance to steer the chatter into a different direction. "You know, I know a redhead. Her mother has dark red hair, too. Ever wondered if there is some outside influence in people with unusual hair colors?"

Usagi thought about it for a moment. "There is my friend Naru and her mother. They both have rather dark red hair. I know that one of Naru's grandparents is a foreigner, but nothing more..." Usagi then again decided to change the topic. "But I must show you the arcade. There is a really nice boy working there..."

Akane let out a silent sigh when hearing Usagi return to her favorite topic. Usagi was a nice girl and they probably would become good friends with time. But the blonde's attention span was rather short and she was a rather girly girl, making her her feel strange since she wasn't that way (some called her a non-girl but had regretted that very fast).

Well, there was still a lot of time to get used to the blonde's quirks.


...Saotome house, next Monday...

"Ok... I can do it! Without resorting to analogies!" Ranma told himself, while working on the next question.

Ami had created an mock-exam of her own and he was right at the moment busy with trying to get through it. He already saw numbers and Kanji circling around him like vultures waiting for their prey to finally die, mocking him that he would never get it at all. But Ranma Saotome never loses!

Also he had heard some stuff three days ago which while being insulting, had also made him realize how other people saw him.

Since his leg had healed, his mother usually relied on him to carry everything from the grocery shopping trips. He had little trouble with the weight and it felt right for him to help her. During the last trip he had finally noticed how some people, especially elder woman, gave him looks that made him feel as if he was some sort of unwanted element. And he had heard their whispering that he looked like an uneducated loss who probably would never be able to earn enough for a living.

Hearing this had been pretty hard for someone who grew up mostly in a world where the physical fight was important. Their comments had been hurtful. That the battle of the mind was now also important, that was new for him. But he would prove all of them wrong! He would show them that he wasn't an uneducated idiot!

"Done!" Ranma sighed in relief when he had finally finished the last question.

Without a warning Ami suddenly appeared in front of him, her reading glasses reflecting the light, giving her a somewhat intimidating appearance. "Really? Let's see."

"Ahhh!" Scared, Ranma jumped up, before realizing that it was Ami. "Don't do this..." He had no idea how she had managed to sneak up on him. "Doh, you know I don't like to see you wearing these things."

"Hm? Oh, sorry... I normally don't need them, but without them I can't read the small print." Ami had no idea why Ranma didn't like seeing her wearing glasses. It couldn't be because he thought she looked better without them, right? Taking them off, she looked at the piece of paper. "Ok, let's see how well you have done."

Ranma was in high spirits that Ami would be proud of how well he has done. However, Ranma's high spirits didn't last long when Ami's red marker did it's cruel work without any mercy, resulting in the paper becoming more red than white. When she was done, he felt like the band on the Titanic playing the last song.

"Ranma..."

"Yeah?" He knew he didn't like the sound of her voice.

"You have improved a lot... However, since your exam is in a week, prepare for the week of hell beginning tomorrow." Ami hoped that she didn't sound angry. It was true that Ranma had improved. But after seeing this, she knew she would have to pack out the big guns to win this uphill battle.

He didn't like the sound of that in the slightest. He had the feeling that this would be harder than all the stuff his father had thrown at him in ten years, excluding a pit of cats. "Can I plead for mercy?"

"Capitulation is no option and resistance is futile." Seeing that he looked downcast by having done so poorly, she felt he needed some encouraging words. "Ranma, I know you can do it! Don't give up now."

"I don't plan to... But I need break." His head still hurt for the mock-exam. Sitting down on his bed, he looked to Ami. "You know... I wondered what happens after I entered school. Wonder if you still want to hang around with me then." In the weeks since they had first met, he had gotten used to her presence. Ami was nice and patient. He reluctantly admitted that he did want to have her around.

Ami actually hadn't thought so far yet. But now that Ranma asked her... "Ohm... You mean becoming friends? Doing things after school and helping each other?"

"I have no idea what friends normally do after school. But yeah, I like being with you. What do you say?" he offered, hoping that Ami would agree. He knew no one else and spending his entire free time with training didn't sound so great anymore. He felt that life owed him more than just that after 10 years of living for the art only.

Ami never had someone approaching her and asking to become friends with no hidden agenda. Sure, sometimes someone tried to get close to her to have a cheap learning help, but she had always ignored these and Ranma's offer of friendship was sincere. "Uh, I have no idea, either, what to do... You are different from the others. You admire my smartness, while others don't. You are so kind to everyone that it is as if you can't be mean at all. I really want to stay close to you, but we should better keep this secret in school."

"Why that?" Ranma wondered. Was she ashamed that they were friends.

Ami had to remind herself that Ranma was horribly naive and therefore couldn't know that. "It is because of the other girls. I'm sure you understand...?" Seeing no reaction ,she sighed. "Look, a lot of girls will see you as the perfect catch. They will try to win you over. So expect lots of unwanted attention and love letters stuffed into your shoe locker."

This confused Ranma only further. He had no idea what Ami was talking about. "Why would they want to 'win me over'? I don't really understand."

He really doesn't know... Ami wondered how long she could hold off telling Ranma the facts of life. "See, there are exactly two reasons: First, they want you as a status symbol; to show off that they got the best boy at the school."

Ranma understood that. So these girls wanted him as a sort of trophy to show around and boost their ego. "Now it makes sense to me. And what is number two?"

Ami knew, that was the hard part. "Some others will want you because they want to have sex with you, and nothing else." Seeing Ranma's questioning look, she added, "Look, I don't really feel like explaining it. It is something between boys and girls. It is a very private thing that you don't talk about in the public. Needless to say that what these girls want takes away everything that makes it special, ok?"

"Uhm, ok..." Ranma actually didn't understand what exactly Ami was playing at, but at least knew that he should better stay silent about that topic in public. Maybe I should ask Mom what this sex-stuff is? If it is really as private as Ami says, then I don't trust Pop with it. "Wonder if they still want me after ma curse gets out. It's not that I can hide it for long."

Ami knew what he meant. She had witnessed already two accidental transformations. The first time, she had spilled her soda on him, the second time had involved him forgetting to lock the window during a rainstorm. "You know some boys could then be after your girl side."

Ranma looked sick at the mere mention. "No way!"

Ami had no trouble to see that this had hit a sore spot. During the weeks she knew him, she hadn't seen him look angry. "You look angry. Had something happened that I should know?" she carefully asked.

Ranma had to control himself, while telling her what had happened. "Got splashed while getting something for Mom. Some guy called me a 'fine piece of ass'. I...almost lost it. Was only little away from ramming him into tha ground." This really had riled him up. It had upset him to no end. He pointed to his head. "In there I'm always myself... Don' know what actually angered me, but I felt disgusted and repulsed."

Ami knew exactly why Ranma had reacted like this. Although he was ignorant of it, he still had a sexual identity. And she strongly suspected that even in his girl form, he still was firmly heterosexually attracted to girls... only girls. Any males hitting on him would automatically set off the alarm bells. "Ranma, this is because in your mind you always are a boy. I won't explain it in detail, but he sent out signals that were intended for a girl, which only would disgust you as a boy. You have to learn to ignore these."

Ranma hadn't told her that this wasn't the first time. There had been various incidents since he got cursed. He hated it that his girl body had to look so damn cute. He had been told that he had to learn to accept it, since he would keep it for the rest of his life. But that didn't mean he would have to like it.

At least there won't be sprung anymore surprises on me with that body...

Yes, ignorance is bliss. But Ranma would learn very soon that a girl's body would need a little more maintenance than he knew. Would he have known what would happen in the next days and the embarrassing 'talk' that would follow, he probably would have fainted on the spot.

After all, with that body came the whole package, including the unpleasant aspects of being a girl...


...meanwhile...

"Paperwork... regardless in which time period, it will be always there," Setsuna sarcastically commented while looking through the papers that had landed on her desk.

She had chosen this job because it would allow her to always have an eye on the Senshi once they would start to awaken. Usagi and Ami were already present, Minako would arrive in some days, and Makoto was at the moment still at another school, though she surely would find a plan to get her transferred. She practically was the girl for everything in this school, despite her having only hired as school councilor.

Despite this, she actually liked her job.

Looking into the reflection of her window, she had to admit that she looked a little different to her senshi form. Especially her hair. She had learned fast that unlike the original time line, her meddling seemed to have vastly reduced strange hair colors. After getting strange looks because of her green hair, she had used her disguise magic to dye them black. And while strange hair colors still existed, they had become much less and more toned down.

Usagi's friend Naru for example still had red hair, but it was quite a bit darker now. Ami's hair was now a straight black, none of the blue color form the original timeline left. However, after seeing Usagi herself, who still was a blond, she concluded that there were always exceptions to the rule. Hopefully poor Michiru didn't have too much trouble with her aquamarine hair, which she did keep and looked really excotic.

Her escape actually had resulted in some really interesting effects.

Using her powers to look deep into space, she had been surprised to see that most of this Sailor XY-stupidity was simply non-existent. While there were alien races in the galaxy, there were only a handful of Senshi, no more. She had spotted the three Starlights living peaceful on their planet, protecting it. And she had caught glimpses of a child that somehow looked like Galaxia, sitting in front of something that looked like a TV, being busy with eating lollipops.

She knew it meant that this danger was nonexistent.

Other than that, her powers of sight had proven mostly useless, as if looking at a fog covering everything else. She knew, why: the future was constantly changing and now she was on her own, with her knowledge of previous timelines only being of limited usefulness.

Well, Sailor Moon should awaken soon. It isn't long now. And when this happens, I need to approach her. No need to repeat the disaster of last time... she thought.

Thinking of her, it was interesting to see that thanks to being two years older, there were some changes in Usagi.

She still was somewhat of a crybaby but it had been toned down a lot with her getting older, although that didn't happen to most of her other negative traits. One of them was coming too late to school and bad grades. Ms. Haruna had openly complained that she hadn't transfered to teach at a high school, only to again being stuck with the most lazy girl she had ever seen since she'd started teaching.

Setsuna shook her head to get back on track. There was work to do.

Picking up the next folder, she saw that it was a transfer from a different school. "Akane Tendo... Furinkan High...ouch," she winced.

She knew of this mess, such news traveled fast in teacher and school circles. She couldn't fault the girl for attending a different school after going through this hell. She would have a talk with her first thing on her first day. She knew that this would be quite a bit of work to integrate her into the school life, but doing a good deed was worth it.

Making the needed notes, she picked up the next file. This time it was a request for a entrance exam for a boy named Ranma Saotome. Reading it, she grimaced when seeing this boy's school attendance records. He will be lucky if he manages to get the minimum score to get into the grade corresponding to his age...

She had never before seen such a bad and fractured school record. Reading some more about the background on his file, she wondered how irresponsible his father had been to allow this to happen. This was almost as bad as Princess Serenity's school record back in the Silver Millenium. Only the fact the she was the heir to the throne and pure blackmail from the Queen had kept her from failing school altogether.

At least this trait, Setsuna knew for sure, had awakened fully in Usagi.

Some things never change... There will always be the ones who simply don't fit in, Setsuna thought, while setting aside Ranma's file after marking the request, which was set for next Monday, as "approved".

to be continued...

Next Episode:

"Getting used to Minato"