Final Attempt
A story by Suika Roberts, Saint of Eris Discordia
Based on the manga by Takahashi Rumiko, without the permission of anyone.

"Great granddaughter, this is not a very good idea."

"I have heard what you say. However, I won't accept my failure yet. I have to try this at least once." Shanpoo stares back at her Great-grandmother, knowing the argument about this course of action like the back of her hand. The potion worked almost everytime, provided those involved were not so incompatible that even the overwhelming power of the spell could not bridge the gap. It was used in the village when a marriage was falling apart and nothing else could save it. Half the time the marriage dissolved in a minimum of pain, and the other half it rose again and danced.

"Remember that I warned you. If this fails you will give up on Ranma and we will return to China." The eighteen months that the test was supposed to last expired half a year ago, and I am no longer honorbound to support this fool's quest. I warned them that this was not a wise re-wording; like the last time they didn't listen; we almost ended up a British `protectorate' then. If the British hadn't sent their ambassador's wife along they never would have believed me, and we would have been assimilated or killed.

"Hai, Obaba." Shanpoo bows, then turns back to her food, tasting it one last time before adding the last ingredient, checking the label four times to make sure.

"Akane, I'm sorry, but I can't let you poison me anymore. There are three things one needs to do while cooking. First, one must know what one is doing, which means one needs to follow a recipe with no substitutions until one has some experience. Second, one must know what one is putting in. Does Kasumi add vinegar when she means oil or oil when she means water?" Akane shakes her head, "Last, one must taste what one is cooking as one adds ingredients, or the food won't be as good as it could be. When one is winging it, tasting the food is the only way to tell if it is going properly. You've watched Kasumi cook, right?" Akane nods, "Does she call you or Soun or Nabiki in to taste the food as she cooks it?" Akane shakes her head, "Of course not. She knows what she wants it to taste like, so she tastes it as she goes along." Shanpoo's sudden arrival throws him off track, but Ranma turns it to his advantage, "Shanpoo, when you cook do you taste the food as you go along to check how it is doing?"

"Of course. If not taste, how know did right."

"Could you demonstrate for Akane? I'm trying to teach her to cook at least as well as me, but hopefully better." Akane looks a bit happier with the addition of this last clause.

"Hai!" Shanpoo says brightly, glad to have her iinazuke ask for something. She pulls the bowl of ramen out of the delivery box, sets it on the table, pulls a pair of chopsticks out and takes a bite.

"See? You try it, Akane, and see that it tastes good." Akane goes along with this, and quickly takes a bite, neither of them noticing Shanpoo's suddenly worried expression.

A long moment passes with both Akane and Shanpoo being utterly silent. "That wasn't very smart my love."

"No, I can't say as it was."

"What are you two talking about?" Ranma is mildly bewildered by Shanpoo's sudden loss of her accent, and Akane's comment doesn't help. Akane reaches across the table and takes Shanpoo's hand, squeezing it lightly. Ranma hits quite bewildered.

"Shanpoo brought by a love potion. The only one that actually works that anyone has even heard of. Everyone who ingests it within a certain radius and within about five seconds is affected, and it compresses about six months worth of relationship into a few seconds, defusing all the situations it can, transfering knowledge between them, and the end result is a very strong bond." Akane replies, still stroking Shanpoo's hand.

"We both still like you, Ranma, but the potion only works once every twenty years or so on an individual, and you wouldn't like the left-out feeling you'd get if you came with us. We don't want to hurt you like that." Shanpoo continues, still accentless.

"`Come with you'? Where are you going?" Faint confusion shows in Ranma's voice.

"I'm going with my wife to China." Akane smiles happily, zoning out into Shanpoo's face.

"What? Aren't you the least upset about this?" Ranma demands, thinking about her ready way with a mallet.

"I got over that a long time ago. There was nothing else to do about it. Shanpoo made a mistake, but that's OK, I love her anyway."

"We think Ukyou might be able to help you cope with this, perhaps you should call her. The potion will still be potent for another couple hours. You should tell her what it is first, however." Shanpoo says, drawing Akane to her feet and starting up the stairs.

Nan tte koto! Ranma suddenly hears the chopsticks he had in his hand snap, looks down to see a slow trickle of blood begin. maybe I should call Utchan Ranma starts to his feet, holding his palm to stop the bleeding, the shock on his face quite obvious.

"Moshi moshi? Utchan? I need to talk to you right now. Could you come over? Please? It's kinda urgent. Thank you so much." He doesn't notice the quaver in his voice. Setting the telephone reciever down before drifting to the bottom of the stairs he listens to the happy laughter from upstairs. she's happy. I have to be happy for her After a bit the laughter dies down and he hears Akane's door open and their footsteps. He walks quickly into the dinning room and sits down next to the bowl of congealing ramen. "Will you write me?" He asks as they walk by, each with a pair of suitcases, abject fear in his voice.

"Yes, we will."

"Thank you. I don't think I could stand to lose you as friends as well."

"Don't worry about that. You will always have a special place in our hearts." Akane smiles at him as Shanpoo speaks, nods emphaticly.

"Hello? It's me." Ukyou's voice comes from the front, and Ranma follows Shanpoo and Akane toward the door.

"Ukyou-san, please take care of him." Akane asks her after she opens the door and waves her in.

"What happened?" Ukyou sounds totally confused, and the look on her face as Shanpoo holds the door for Akane matches the feeling.

"Shanpoo brought by a love potion to catch me with, but I was trying to get the basics of cooking through Akane's skull so she caught Akane instead."

"How does it work?"

"From what I heard it provides six months of virtual time to be alone together in and some prodding of some sort to make things develop into love. Shanpoo said that the potion will work for another couple hours, so are you willing to do this?"

"Of course! How long does it take realtime?" It's awful that it should happen this way, but he will finally be mine!

"A few seconds." Ukyou blinks, then makes a `lead on' gesture.

"We eat at the same time and it will kick in almost instantly." Ranma picks up a pair of chopsticks, looks at Ukyou. Unknown to either of them Kasumi had walked into the room, and looking at the bowl of congealing ramen, decided it would be a shame to let it go to waste. She'd served herself some and wandered back to the kitchen. Ranma and Ukyou pick out a pinch of noodles each and, in a move that makes them both smile, offer it to the other. The screen splits as Ukyou, Ranma, and Kasumi all take a bite of the ramen at the same time. All three go still for a few moments, Kasumi leaning back against the kitchen counter.

Ranma and Ukyou blink, pick up the bowl of ramen and walk into the kitchen. "'Sumi-chan, what should we do with this? It's too dangerous to leave about."

"I don't know, Ran-chan. Shanpoo said they'd only be good another couple hours, so if you flush them they won't be any more trouble."

"Un. Wakatta." Ranma walks off to the toilet while Ukyou moves to slice the daikon Kasumi had set out.

"I'm still sorry we didn't check before we ate those." Ukyou looks down at her hands as she deftly makes paper-thin slices.

"Don't worry Utchan, it wasn't your fault. I should have heard them talking about it having a love potion in it. Besides, why should I be upset at having such cute spice?" Kasumi finishes gathering the supplies for dinner and moves to start on the daikon when she realizes that Ukyou has already started it. She takes another knife and starts the carrots.

"That is a really nice thing to say, 'Sumi-chan." Ranma says as she walks up to the other two, hugging them both. Ukyou shivers at the touch of her wet hair. "Sorry 'bout the hair. Oyaji got after me for wasting food and tried to dunk me in the pond. I got splashed when I threw him in."

"I know you have to do that, Ran-chan, but do you think it would have worked to tell him that there was a love potion in it?"

"No, but we'd better tell them all what happened. Mom'll be by for dinner, so we'll catch them then." Ukyou strokes Ranma's cheek as she speaks, then turns back to the mostly sliced daikon.

"Un. 'Sumi-chan, what should I do?" Ranma lets them both go as she asks.

"Fill that pot, start it, and string the peas." Ranma starts to work.

"Obaba, you were right. Shanpoo didn't catch who she wanted."

"Can't say I didn't warn her. You look happy enough about how things turned out."

"I'm besmitten, so I can't be objective about these things, but I don't see how I could have been so upset about how much attention she paid to Ranma if I didn't fancy her." Akane smiles at her new love.

"This is a bit personal, but do either of you plan on having children?"

"Hai." They both reply.

"OK, do either of you plan on having any soon?"

"Not me. I'm not done growing yet, so it'd stunt my growth."

"I've hit my full potential, at least according to the doctors. If she wants to I'm willing."

"In that case you may want to ask Ranma for a donation. He has good genes, even if his father is scum." Akane promptly turned pink.

"Wouldn't you mind?" She asks Shanpoo.

"Why would I mind. You know the village laws too. Any children either of us bear are both of ours." Akane makes a few incoherent noises, then resorts to hand gestures. Obaba understands them first.

"You've got it wrong. Nothing like that is necessary. You take in a clean bottle or film can and say `Ranma, Shanpoo and I have decided to have a child and we'd like you to make a donation to the cause' or some such."

"It's still embarassing. I'll do it, though. A child with her eyes. . ."

"That's right," Shanpoo smiles at Akane, who brings herself out of her reverie to smile back.

"You fed my little girls a love potion!" Soun's tears make everyone draw back from the flood.

"No, father, Ran-chan didn't feed either of us the love potion. We both ate it of our own free will. Ranma did tell Akane to taste the ramen it was in, but that was because he was trying to make her realize what she was doing wrong as a cook. How was he to know that Shanpoo had drugged the ramen? It isn't something she's ever done before."

"That's right. And I ate the ramen because I wanted to help Ranma cope with losing Akane. Heck, Akane said that we should do it."

"This isn't the way things would have gone if Shanpoo hadn't brought by that bowl of ramen, but it isn't as bad as you are making out. The potion doesn't make one fall in love with someone. It just puts one in a position where one will come out of its influence understanding or loving the other people who went under with one." Ranma looks at the scab on her hand, "In our cases it ended up being love. I know I can trust these two," she gestures to Kasumi and Ukyou, "with my life and my soul, and they know the same about me. They are the only people who I can say that about. If that isn't true love, I will never know what it is."

"You set a high standard there, son. It makes your mother proud of you. Are you going to marry either of them?"

"I remember hearing about a Shintou priest who will do ceremonies for `odd' families. We talked about going there with Shanpoo and Akane." Ranma stops speaking and goes back to eating.

"That would be nice. I don't think the government will recognize such a marriage, unfortunately."

"True. However, it won't be much of a problem to get our names changed to match, and the gay rights laws are finally starting to take effect." Kasumi says before emulating her new iinazuke, eating with a speed and efficiency that the others had never seen in her.

"Ano, could we speak to Ranma for a moment?" Akane asks from the doorway. A quick look is exchanged and Ukyou, Kasumi and Ranma stand up and follow the two young women into the garden.

"Hazukashii nan desu kedo," Akane breaks off, flushing.

"We've decided to have a child, and were wondering if we could get a donation," Shanpoo holds out the carefully washed film canister that they had brought, "If it is OK with you." She looks at Kasumi and Ukyou.

Ranma follows the glance, and raises one eyebrow, shrugging her shoulders slightly to say `It's your choice.'

"I don't mind," Ukyou shrugs.

"Nor I," Kasumi continues.

"Guess you can," Ranma finishes.

"Onee-chan, I didn't know you were interested in Ranma."

"I wasn't. I took my bite of ramen at exactly the right moment, though, so now I get to keep them." She wraps an arm each about Ranma and Ukyou.

"Could you come in and tell the family your plans? Oh, and we were planning a Shintou wedding ceremony, and we were wondering if you would like to have one too." Ranma asks over her shoulder as Kasumi turns all three of them back towards the house, "Oh, and pass me the container," She catches it one handed and stuffs it into a pocket. "I should have it for you by noonish tomorrow, OK?" I think our cycles are in sync. 'Sumi-chan and Nabiki's are synced pretty close to mine at least She hears a muffled noise of assent from behind her.

"Oh, and would you two like some dinner? We made enough," Kasumi looks back over her shoulder at the edge of the house.

"Um," Akane looks at Shanpoo, who nods, "Sure, I guess."

Dinner passes with a few annoyed looks exchanged between Soun and Shanpoo, and then between Akane and Soun when she notices.

"Ja mata ne," Akane takes her leave, Shanpoo echoing her a moment later.

"Ja," Ranma waves, a bittersweet smile on her face. After they have gone she turns to her mother, "Okaasan, I hadn't expected you to take this as well as you have."

"Why shouldn't I? You're the happiest that I've seen you, ever. Your iinazuke are lovely, and you all actually know how to express affection without violence. It would be hard for things to get better." She smiles at her child, strokes her cheek with one finger, and Ranma leans into the caress ever so slightly.

Epilogue:

"Oh, yeah, Kunou-sempai, you wouldn't have heard. Akane went off to China with Shanpoo, and last I heard they were expecting their first child." Ranma dodges the fountain of blood and watches amazed as Tatewaki passes out in the schoolyard He's never done that before. "Coming, Utchan?"

"Un." And the two walk into school, fairly pleased with their summer break.

Glossary: Nan tte koto: fairly literally, `What a thing to say', but more like `What the F..k!' in this case.

Hazukashi nan desu kedo: Hazukashi is `embarrassing', so the sentence means `it's embarassing but' Wakatta:Understood.

Spice:Demi-standard plural of `Spouse', through the parallel with `mouse' and `mice.'

Authorial Rambling...

Well, I actually thought up a story that isn't a UF sized epic. . . (even if it's grown quite a bit from the one-shot I'd originally thought it to be)

199x:

Written. Posted. Editted.

2009/May/15:

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