this first intro and disclaimer were from when I first posted it, over a decade ago.
After not doing so for a monkey's age, I finally get around to retyping this. Ah well.
This is mine. I wrote it, so I've got copyright on it. I borrowed the characters from Shogakukan, Takahashi Rumiko, Kodansha, and Takeuchi Naoko. If they ever learn of it, I hope they say nice things.
The main plot element, I admit to stealing, since Webdragon's story was, interesting, but a major squick for me. I hope he'll say nice things too ^_^
Anyone who reads this: I hope you'll say anything at all, even `Bwahaha, how could you write such a lousy piece of tripe!' (but if you say that, you'd better know what tripe _is_, or it's cheating.
This story has some elements that some people feel are inappropriate for minors, the general public, and anyone of proper moral standing. If you are such a person, please do not read it, or at least send good feedback if you do.
Enjoy, Suika (comment fiend. Please, reply! [addresses elided] )
at long last
a story by
`What's this?' I ask the little Chinese peddler, holding the small bottle up for his inspection. Only the last few characters of the label remain, the half-character at the top might be [curse], the next are [nullify 1 hundred twenty two], and the last might be [formula], or perhaps [potion].
`I don't know. I bought it from this man who claimed it was cure for curses. He said he stole it from the Nyuucheizuu.'
`It's a nice bottle, but I've carried it around a long time. 125 yen?'
`Sure.' The peddler's right, the bottle's worth it even if it isn't a cure. What harm could come from trying it anyway? I quickly block the stream of images, dig a handfull of coins out of my pocket, and pass over a fifty, a 25, a pair of ten, a five, and five one yen coins. He hands the bottle over before I can go back to digging in my pocket, and I stash it safely. I mumble a thank you.
`You're welcome, miss.' The possible cure in my pocket and the lingering sense of well-being from my mother's acceptance of my curse allow me to ignore being called ojouchan.
I feel the bottle in my pocket as I walk home. If it was like all the other cures I'd tried I should pour it into a bucket and dump it over my head. Or maybe drink it. I'll try the first way, and if it doesn't work I'll try the other. The stuff can't taste good after all that time in a bottle.
`Tadaima!' I call, taking off my shoes.
`Okaerinasai!' comes the reply from the kitchen. Oh no. Akane's in the kitchen, which means she's probably cooking. I'll try the cure and if it works it may well distract her from making me try her concoction.
`I'm gonna take a bath!'
I step into the laundry room, making sure to set out the sign. I strip down, pull the bottle from my pocket, and enter the bathroom. I wash off, rinse, then stare into the bucket for a moment before refilling it with warm water, not quite hot enough to trigger the change. I uncork the bottle, waft a smell of back to my nose; I learned my lesson about that the hard way, snorting in a nice lungfull of ammonia in chemistry class. I don't recongnize the smell, but the strongest are ginsing and licorice, overlaid by either cassia or cinnamon. Really hope it isn't cassia. I'd never admit it, but cassia gives me really nasty headaches. I carefully pour a quarter of the bottle's contents into the bucket. The pale red-brown liquid diffuses quickly, giving off no fumes and not making the water bubble. I swish it about in the bucket, then remember to recork the bottle and put it out of the way.
I sit back down on the stool and pick up the bucket, steeling myself for the disappointment before dumping it over my head.
I look up from the floor, totally confused about what knocked me off the stool, into a pair of very familiar grey eyes. I stand, knowing my eyes are still saphire blue, grab a towel and start drying off. `You should make sure that cold water doesn't turn you into a girl. I'm almost positive that you're cured, though, Ranma. If you're not, tell me.' I hear the water run as I finish drying, grab the bottle and walk to the door. The water splashes over him as I slide the door open, turn to see what I expected to see, then step through the door and slide it closed behind me. Taking the clean set of clothing I get dressed, stuff the bottle into my pocket, and walk down to the kitchen.
`Akane,' my voice cracks as I say her name, `I bought a partial cure today. I . . . there's two of me. He's upstairs, still, I think. I'm going to talk to Obaba, 'cause it was a Nyuucheizuu potion.' Akane gapes at me, stunned. `The stuff on the stove is burning.' She eeps and turns back to her cooking. The situations bears down on me a little harder, and I bounce away over the rooftops.
`Obaba!' I call from the door, looking at the 'closed' sign. Being polite can't hurt, and 'crone' is a lot better than 'old troll.'
`Nan Ja, mukudono?'
`Need to talk to you 'bout something.'
`Come in.' I push the door open, entering quickly. The chairs are still down, so I take a seat, watch quietly as she sits. `What do you want to talk about, mukudono?'
`What is formula 122 nullifier?'
`What is that?' I draw the characters, and she recognizes them. `How did you find out about that?'
`I bought a bottle of it from this peddler.'
`Very dangerous. It was developed about a thousand years ago as a method of either quickly increasing the village's population or preserving techniques.
`When the cursed springs were first discovered they were recognized instantly as a powerful tool. Within a hundred years the 'instant nanniichuan' and other preparations were developed. About twelve hundred years ago Xian Tou realized there was enough power in the curse to copy a person, body and spirit. Xian Tou set up the project, using white mice and instant brown mouse water. The nullifiers were numbered from the attempts that actually did something, and incremented whenever the formula changed enough to do something else. 122 was the second to do what Xian Tou wanted, and the first without an 85% casualty rate in mice.
`The problem with 122 was discovered with humans, and then tested on the mice. If an individual cannot maintain their bonds to others, 122 will kill them. When they seperated the copied mice from their peers, and either placed them with their other self or in individual cages, they died. A copied mouse placed with other mice survived. Copied mice kept as pets also survived, if their human handled them a lot.
`In humans it was not as clear-cut, but individuals without strong ties to others, families, lovers, died. Warriors who had a very good attachment to their lovers would have both survive most of the time. Individuals who didn't have a lover usually died. Xian Tou and her assistants talked with all of the survivors and came up with some guidlines for its use. I'd need to check, but I don't think you fall within those guidelines, and I really don't think you'd want to use it.'
`Too late.' I fish the bottle from my pocket and show it to her. `What kind of problems can I expect?'
`I don't know. A lot of records were lost in the great fire five hundred years ago. Amoung those was the formula for the number 240 nullifier, which finally worked properly.
`A couple of my friends used it about two hundred years ago, and they both came through quite well. Of course, her lover knew what was going on and was ready to support her after the split.
`I didn't see them for a couple days after the split, and my friend, both of her, were unusually clingy for about a month after that.
`If you have a friend you can go cling to, do it. I've invested too much time in you to risk, daughter.'
`I will not marry Shanpoo, not even like this.'
`I know better than to try that. I was really angry with her when I heard that she'd given you the kiss of death and chased you off. When I found out about the curse I was even more angry, because I could tell that she had no chance of catching you.
`You have the most potential of anyone I've seen in decades and I wanted you so badly because of that,' she looks at me, probably expecting revulsion, `but I couldn't have you as my daughter until Shanpoo gave up on you. She did tell me that I could have you if you were ever incurably stuck.'
`I think this qualifies.' It hasn't hit nearly as hard as it did the last time I was stuck, and the chiisuiton had been less problematical than the 'cat's tongue' point.
`Un. Shanpoo is too straight and too proud for her own good. If she weren't so straight I'd be honorbound to make one last attempt to catch you for her, but she just doesn't appreciate females that way. As things are, I suggest you talk to Ukyou, for she doesn't strike me as being homophobic, her familiy isn't about to interfere, and she is firmly attached to you. Akane might also work, but she is terribly afraid of intimacy, and her family feels terribly homophobic.
`It is your call, of course, but once you have a decent link with someone, come back here and I'll continue teaching you. Is this agreeable, daughter?'
`Un.' She leans over and kises me on my forehead. I'm shocked by the warm cared-for feeling it generates, a far cry from the revulsion it would have engendered earlier. `Thank you.' She pats my hand.
I put my chair up on the table, bow more deeply than I would have to one of my teachers at school, then leave, walking almost aimlessly.
I arrive at a library, and enter on a whim. After looking about for a little while I pull an old volume from the shelf, noting that it was published about the turn of the century. The story draws me in, a fairly simple girl's school romance, the protagonist's crush on one of her classmates. I memorize the page number, then set out looking for what it made me think of. *This is really pitiful. I can't even think the word.*
I give up on looking through the shelves, and approach the terminal with trepidation. I choose a subject search and type the word in. I write down the numbers quickly and blank the screen. Standing in front of the shelf I wonder what is actually worth reading. If this were martial arts I would be able to read a couple pages and know whether or not something is worth the trouble.
*Saa-tte, what are those things called . . . * I read a few titles, then it comes to me. *This is gonna be embarrassing.* I get to my feet, walk to the front and check out the fluf piece, then ask the female librarian at the counter.
`Do you know where I can find a . . lesbian-feminist bookstore?' *I managed to say the word without thinking it first. Didn't know that could be done.*
She notes the pause where I regathered my courage, and treats it as a perfectly normal request. *Which I'd hope it is . . . * `Anou, the closest one . . . ' and she gives me directions to four, and says which one she thinks is best. I check to make sure that I wrote them all down right.
`Thank you _so_ much.' I reach out and squeeze her hand as emphasis. *So very bold*
`You're welcome.' She smiles at me, and the wrinkles about her eyes crinkle attractively. I smile back, flush, and run out the door, pausing to smile back at her before exiting.
A moment's looking about enables me to figure out where I've wandered to, and I choose a fence going in the right direction. I find my place in the novel, then set off down the fence-top at a slightly slower pace than normal, as my peripheral vision isn't up to the task of keeping me on the fence at a faster pace while reading. The fence turns from the direction that I want to go, so I mark my place with a finger and drop to the surface. I get through another four chapters on the way to Utchan's, and work out the techniques for walking while reading.
`Hiya, Utchan.' I fold the book about my left hand, taking a seat in front of the grill. *Courage* I reach over the grill, supporting myself with my left hand and the book as I stroke her left cheek with my knuckles. She smiles at me and I drop back onto my stool before attempting to hide my blush behind my book.
`What didja do that for?'
I lower the book before replying, `I need to talk to you after you've cleared everyone out.'
`Sure.' She suddenly places an okonomiyaki in front of me, and the pause to memorize my page number is enough for me to notice a pattern in the sauce on the okonmiyaki. I turn the plate all the way around twice before I manage to decipher it. -Ranchan daisuki-
`Do you always put things like this on my okonomiyaki?'
*my, she must really have it bad. Why won't these tears stop?* `First time I've noticed.' to distract myself from my tears I take a bite of the okonomiyaki, duck my chin and finish it quickly. *at least the tears stopped.*
`You OK?' I realize that she's chased all five of her customers out and flipped the sign.
`Not really. I picked up a 'cure' while shopping today. Unfortunately, I didn't talk to anyone about it first. It split me into two almost identical people. The other 'me' is male, though.'
`Oh no!' She hugs me tightly, and I start crying again.
She sits on the stool next to me, I only notice because she lets go of me to do it, then gathers me into her lap. I snuggle into her arms, posilutely soaking the front of her shirt.
At last I gather my courage, look up into Ukyou's eyes, then stretch myself upward to kiss her on the lips. She startles, then returns the kiss with fierce passion, slipping her tongue between my unresisting lips, her hands sliding into my shirt, stroking my back as she holds me close.
After an indeterminate period of time she breaks the kiss, gathering me back into her arms before standing up. She carries me easily, her unnoticed strength warming me somehow. She carries me easily up the stairs to her rooms, setting me down for a moment while she pulls out her futon and lays it out. I walk up to her, wrap my arms around her from behind, press my face against her back.
`Utchan,' she makes an acknowledging noise, `Is it OK if we just sleep tonight? I don't want to taint my memories of my first time with what happened today.'
She twists about in my arms, wraps me in a firm hug. `Of course.'
Despite my words I don't sleep much, enjoying too much the feeling of being close to her, of her strong arms about me, her firm flesh beneath me. I could tell she wasn't sleeping either, but we each maintained the illusion.
1998 Nov 12: log added and reentry begun.
1998 Nov 12: Re-entry finished. ^_^
1998 Dec 20: Regenerated last couple paragraphs.
1999 Jan 03: some typos and spelling errors fixed.
1999 Feb 15: added title section, author-notes type stuff at the top, and moved story out of drafts subdir
2002 Jul 27: added current contact address
2009 Jun 23: tiny edits, uploaded to ff.n