#include "stddisclaimer.h"

Final Attempt
Aside: Kodachi

Based on the manga by Takahashi Rumiko, without the permission of anyone.

"What is this I hear about my Ranma?"

"She got married. To me. Would you like to talk to her?" Ukyou's voice is chill.

*Kanojo desu tte?* "Yes, please."

"You need to promise a cessation of violence until after you've heard the complete explanation."

*Why ever for?* "Of course."

"Ranchan, you can come out now." _She_ slinks out, and I tense, waiting for an attack. I start at the sound of a hand on my shoulder, "Calm down. We won't hurt you." Only the sincerity in her voice keeps me from bristling at her words.

"Kodachi-chan, please, follow me, I've got to show you something," she waits for me to start towards her, then leads the way into the kitchen, Ukyou at my back.

She fills two glasses, then waves me over to her, taking my hand.

"This will feel a little weird, but you need to understand this," she looks up into my eyes and pours some water over her head. I stare as her eyes darken to a steel grey, and she gets taller, features coarsening, her hand enlarging, "I can't let you go on like you have been," even her voice has changed, "There is only one Saotome Ranma. Me." I try to pull away, but she, no, he, pulls me close and hugs me tightly, like I'd always wished he would. His wife hugging us both wasn't in the fantasy, though.

"Kodachi-chan, you and Ranchan need some time to work out what we are going to do about this mess, OK?" Ukyou's voice is muffled by her position.

A couple *clink* noises sound from beside me, and Ranma shrinks in my arms.

"Ukyou and I went to see _Ponpoko_ last night, so you might want to do that." Another set of arms wrap about us. I open my eyes and look up into Kasumi's face.

"Dou?" Ranma loosens her grip slightly, and the other two let go as well.

"Ii wa." Kasumi and Ukyou giggle, and I suddenly realize what tone I used.

"We'll leave you two alone for a while to plot. Yell if you need us," Ukyou says as she draws Kasumi from the room.

"Why are they doing this if they love you?" the question pops out before I can edit it for tact.

"Because you seem to need it and they trust me. I promised them that nothing beyond flirting and _maybe_ a little necking would happen without their foreknowledge and approval."

I soak that in for a moment. "Then why are you a girl? You doubt your ability to control yourself as a guy?"

"No, it's just easier to stay a girl, people read my actions differently when I'm female, Utchan doesn't mind, and 'Sumi-chan prefers it." she snorts, "I'm apparently less threatening as a girl, so `macho bad attitude' gets read as `cute' so long as I refrain from breaking anyone's face.

"The next showing of _Ponpoko_ is at three. Is that agreeable?"

"Fine." I look down at that oh so pretty face. *kuaa! This is like a door opened. Why did it take finding out Kasumi is attracted to women to realize such a thing is possible?* I bolster my almost non-existent courage and lean forward, kiss her soundly on the lips. She tenses instantly, and I almost lose my nerve and break the kiss, then she responds, spreading her lips under mine.

She gently breaks the kiss after a few moments. "Kodachi-chan, if you want to become part of this you need to realize that you will start out as the fourth member of a triad, and there is a fairly big possibility that you will never get beyond that.

"I don't want you to get hurt that way. Think about this at the theater, please." I smile and nod, appalled at the vision she presented, torn between fear and the hope that I might have my Ranma-sama, if only for a little while.

"I will." I promise.

FAA:K

"Good, if we're gonna get there on time we gotta hussle." she lets go of me all the way, than starts toward the door. I follow her into the restraint proper, let the situation carry me forward and kiss both Ukyou and Kasumi on the way out the door.

FAA:K

We drop to the ground in an alley a block or so from the theater, and I find myself captivated by the sight of Ranma's bosom heaving.

"Oh dear, caught myself another one." Ranma's sardonic tone breaks the spell, and I look up into her grin. My face heats as I realize what I was doing.

"Anou . . ." I sputter for a moment.

"Don't worry 'bout it. Most people I catch staring aren't nearly as pretty." She wraps an arm about my waist and drags me toward the theater. She pays for us both without batting an eye, then asks if I have any preference where to sit. This is so strange to me that I can't deal with it, and just wave towards a row. She finds us seats, and a very short while later I notice that she's leaned over out of her seat onto me.

At the end of the movie I am surprised to find my companion actually in tears.

"Bloody sledgehammer movie," she sniffs, "About as heavy-handed as Ghibli gets, and that last line is probably overkill."

I continue to stare at her, bewildered.

"Would you like to go look for tanuki?" I ask, desperate for a way to make her stop crying.

"II to omou." I lead her outside, then she leads the way toward the old Kitamachi `New Town' development. [I'm basing distances on Kitamachi New Town being in Kita-ku, which would place it only about six kilometers from Nerima-eki (from which, I admit, I have no idea of the distance to Tendouke) (this is all based on my measurement of 8 kilometers from Nerima-eki to Toukyou-eki. That measurement threw me for such a loop that I had to check it three times . . . ) -S]

"We," she tosses over her shoulder at me, "should check the reports, see how much of that was fictionalized. I've a bad feeling much of it wasn't." The rest of the trip passes in silence, I, at least, too winded for conversation.

She buys takoyaki at a small yatai, and hands me one wordlessly before starting off towards the local golf-course. I eat the takoyaki as we walk; start when Ranma suddenly squeaks.

"What's wrong?"

"Need to call and tell 'em where I am. Help me find a phone." We wander around for a little while before we find one, thoughtfully hidden in a bank of vending machines. She feeds it a 50 yen coin and dials.

"Yeah, Ukyou, we went off to Kitamachi. We should be back in about three hours. Yeah. Umm Hmm, will do. See ya soon, love you, bai-bai."

"Hora, Kodachi-chan, would you like to have dinner with us? Kasumi is going to be out a little while longer, so we'll be back in time." She picks the bag of takoyaki off the top of the phone while I think about it, and buys a Coke from one of the machines. She has a drink before passing it to me, and I stare at it for a moment.

"Go on, it isn't nearly as sweet as Pepsi, and the cinnamon gives it a nice taste." I give her a funny look, but take a sip anyway. She's right that it isn't as sweet as Pepsi, and the cinnamon makes the stuff fairly palatable. I take a larger drink and hand it back; she waves in the direction we had been going. She takes the fence in a single bound, landing lightly and taking another drink of the Coke. I can not resist the chance to show off, so I leap the fence as well, with a single somersault at the top, and manage to stick the landing. She hands me the Coke, and I finish it off, crush the can one-handed as I'd seen him do it once. She smiles at me and giggles softly, hugs me one-armed.

"Tanuki-san, tanuki-san, asobou janai ka?" No one answers her call.

"Tanuki-san, tanuki-san, asobou janai ka?" This time I call with her.

"Ima shokuji ni sagasuchuu,"(right now we're searching for food) comes the reply.

"Takoyaki tabetai ka?" Ranma replies in cadence, and a tanuki sticks her face out of the brush. Ranma holds one of the takoyaki out to her. She looks at us both with suspicion, staying put. I kneel down beside Ranma, and moments later she comes a bit closer, then rushes forward and snags the proffered takoyaki, just missing Ranma's fingers with her ever so sharp-looking teeth.

"Enjoy," she runs off at Ranma's word. "Dare mo inai no?" a couple more tanuki faces poke out, and Ranma holds out another takoyaki. The tanuki seem to converse together, and I tap Ranma on the shoulder, hold out my hand for a takoyaki. She hands me one, and another tanuki snags the one in her fingers. Two tanuki are watching me, watching the takoyaki in my fingers, from about a meter away. I could catch them easily, if I wanted to, so it's not as if they need to hide. . . I force the anger down, suddenly sure that it would be the wrong thing. I drop, sitting down and crossing my legs like Ranma. It feels really strange, but one of the tanuki comes a little bit closer. I remember to breathe, and the other tanuki comes up to me, stopping about ten centimeters away and leaning forward to gently take the takoyaki from my fingers. I wait for her to back off while I ponder the feeling, then flop onto my back in shock, distract myself with the very pretty sunset. Suddenly there is a weight on my belly and Ranma's face in mine.

"What're ya thinking about?"

"How nice this little date of ours has been. It wasn't at all like I expected."

"What did you expect?"

"My fantasy dates with you were all a lot less fun, you come pick me up, we go out to eat at some fancy restraint, and the whole thing ends with you kissing me."

"How boring! I can't say that I fantasized about this, but I had nightmares," I interrupt her by giggling, motion for her to continue before wrapping my hands about her waist, "That feels nice . . . Where you come by, stick a bunch of poisoned flowers in my face, drag me off, and then proceed to have your wicked way with me."

"As a man or a woman?"

"It would depend on if I was male or female at the time. As a girl it was generally a lot less scary."

"Why, weren't you born male?"

"Yeah." She sags against me, her head dropping to my shoulder, "Sex as a male isn't something I want. I don't find males attractive, including myself, which, coupled with how Oyaji handled things when I was younger, just doesn't make it desirable. Heck, I have this half baked lurking fear that anyone who finds males attractive can't have their head on straight."

aiyaiyai.

"If youda latched onto me as a girl and dragged me off without poisoning me youda probably caught me." hun.

"I seem to have you right now."

"Do you?" she mumbles into my shoulder.

"Yeah, so long as I don't scare you or your spice away."

"Tabun." She peels herself up, "If you want to keep that last from happening, we'd better go."

I wait a few moments while she gets ready to go, then tap her on the shoulder.

"You're the oni." She looks at me oddly for a moment, then starts to move. I had been waiting, and take off towards Utchan.

I think she goes easy on me, 'cause she grabs me right at the door, not even winded. She leads me in and seats me, and I finally get my breathing under control.

"Ran-chan, what did you do to Kodachi-chan?"

"Not much, 'Sumi-chan. She challenged me to a game of tag."

"So, did you have fun, Kodachi-san?"

"Un, tottemo tanoshikatta."

FAA:K

Glossary:
Tanuki: small Japanese animals, generally referred to, wrongly, as `raccoon dogs' In Japanese mythology they are tricksters with powers of self-transformation.
`Tanuki-san, tanuki-san . . . is a corruption of a traditional Japanese song which translates something like:
Tanuki, tanuki, won't you come out to play?
I'm busy doing \something\
until one gets tired of it, perhaps.
Takoyaki: ball-shaped octopus-filled (flavored?) fritter-things.
`You're the oni': just why did you think Lum is an oni?
_Ponpoko_: _Heisei nantoka Tanuki Ponpoko_, movie produced by
Studio Ghibli, the same studio that made _Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind_, _Porco Roso_, _Mononoke Hime_, and _Kiki's Delivery Service_, among others
Nantoka: what do you call it. Sometimes used when one can't place a word.

Errata:
Watched _Ponpoko_ again. The development is Tamakyuuryou, not Kitamachi.
- cut here -

1998 Nov 10: spelling fix. log added
1999 Apr 04: title block added.
1999 May 23: fix stupid date error and add gloss.
2010 Jul 10: tiny edits, mauled for posting to ff.n