Leap Year

Disclaimer: "Ranma 1/2" is owned by Rumiko Takahashi. Only the Japanese could come up with a series this weird.

Formatting Notes: Double quotes indicate spoken dialogue, while single quotes indicate thoughts. Italics indicate flashbacks. I'm not very familiar with Japanese honorifics, so I won't be using them except in the cases of Ranma's and Ukyo's childhood nicknames for each other and of course the name of Ukyo's restaurant. I will also be using English translations for most terms except for the technique names that are left untranslated in the animé. As for the Amazon names, the naming theme can't be a coincidence (as with the Musk naming theme). I feel that the Chinese Amazons purposely name their children after the English words for hygiene products and then write the names as the closest Chinese equivalent. Therefore, they will have the same names even when speaking to each other in Chinese in the context of the story. As for gender pronouns when referring to Ranma, the narration will refer to Ranma by his current form, while the other characters (except the Kuno siblings) will think of him as male and speak of him as male, unless they have some reason to hide his curse at a point when he's female.

Continuity Notes: This story takes place a year after the end of the manga. I am ignoring all changes and filler from the animé.

Chapter 1: Confusion

Ranma Saotome woke up from a good night's sleep ready to embark on another dangerous mission in his life as a half-crazed, super-human martial artist stuck with a gender-flipping curse in the middle of a love dodecahedron. A few days ago, he had rescued the Jusenkyo Guide's daughter, Plum, from a band of winged warriors from the Phoenix Tribe. Unfortunately, they had later succeeded in brainwashing and kidnapping Shampoo as well as completing their mission of stealing the map of Jusendo of which Plum had been entrusted. Now, the safety of the cursed springs and their very source were in danger. Today, Ranma would be setting out with Plum and the other cursed Jusenkyo victims in Nerima to rescue Shampoo and save the magic of Jusenkyo from falling into the wrong hands.

As Ranma contemplated this mission with his eyes still closed, he became aware of two very odd things. The first was that he was not lying on his normal futon but in a bed. Even stranger, he was not alone but was lying side-by-side with another person. He opened his eyes and turned his head to face his unknown bunkmate. Surprise quickly followed by fear went through his emotional state as he realized that he was in Akane's bed next to Akane herself. Even worse, she was also awake and looking right at him.

Ranma immediately evacuated his position in the bed, getting tangled in the sheets as he fell to the floor. As he untangled himself, he tried desperately to claim his innocence, a gesture he knew from long experience wouldn't matter to his blunt-object-happy fiancée, especially since his ignorance of what had occurred didn't provide any kind of reasonable explanation even if she were willing to listen to one. "Wait, Akane! It's not what it looks like! I have no idea how I wound up in here. It's not my fault!"

He braced himself for the yelling and the beating that were sure to follow, but they surprisingly never came. He looked up to see a confused look on Akane's face, who was strangely dressed only in her underwear rather than the pajamas she normally wore to bed. "What are you talking about, dear? What isn't your fault?"

Ranma knew Akane could be dense, particularly about P-chan, but this was flat out baffling. Her response had been so unexpected that he had completely missed the term of endearment she had used for him. As he stood there stunned, Akane had walked around him to the other side of the room and somehow returned with a fresh set of his clothes. As she handed them to him, she asked, "Are you okay? You seem a little out of it this morning. Why don't you go start taking your bath to clear your head?"

Unable to come up with any idea of what could be happening, Ranma decided not to look a gift horse in the mouth and took the clothes with him as he executed the Saotome Secret Technique to retreat to the bathroom. He made sure the occupied sign was in place and removed the undershirt and boxers he had worn to bed. He placed these dirty clothes in the hamper and entered the main bathing area, where he found Kasumi had already prepared the bathtub.

Shaking his head to clear it after the morning's strange events, he filled a bucket with cold water to rinse himself and was about to pour it on himself when the bathroom door opened. Akane walked in with a towel in her hand, wearing absolutely nothing but a smile. Ranma almost dropped the bucket in surprise. He placed the bucket on the stool and dropped his hands in an attempt to preserve his modesty. With great willpower, he forced his eyes up to her face. "What do ya think you're doin'?" he asked in a startled tone. "I know I put the sign up."

Akane just giggled and replied, "Oh, Ranma. Don't be so shy. There's no need for modesty between us." Up to this point, Ranma thought there might still be some sort of rational explanation, but all logic flew out the window at what Akane did next. She walked right up to him, pulled his hands apart, and took a good lustful look at what they had been covering. She then wrapped her arms around him and pulled him into a passionate kiss. Ranma was now forcing himself not to panic, as his body had no trouble reacting to the intimate contact.

Akane broke the kiss, apparently confused as to why he wasn't kissing her back. "You must be stressed about something, aren't you?" she guessed. "We can come back to our bath, but right now I think we should go back to bed so I can relieve your stress the fun way," she purred.

Ranma's brain was about to overload, as even he could recognize the innuendo in the suggestion, but he had to make sure. He cleared his throat and nervously stated in a quiet voice, "Please don't take this the wrong way, but it sounded like you just asked me to have sex with you."

Akane just smirked and replied, "Well, you don't have to be so blunt about it, but yes, you look like you could use some relaxation sex." She began pulling him towards the bathroom door.

Ranma was now in full panic mode. He let off a little scream and quickly poured the bucket of cold water he had previously prepared over both of them, invoking his curse and eliminating the immediate danger of what Akane had proposed. Akane let go and stared at him with a blank look on her face. Ranma didn't even bother trying to dry herself, as she raced out to the changing room and quickly got dressed before heading to the tea room to look for help.

The rest of the Tendo-Saotome household was already up and eating breakfast when a panicked, dripping wet female Ranma came running into the room shouting, "Help! Somethin's wrong with Akane! We have ta do something!"

Fearing for the safety of his youngest daughter, Soun quickly stood up and asked, "What's wrong, son?"

Ranma took a few seconds to catch her breath and responded, "Someone's placed her under some kind a spell. Normally, I'd suspect Cologne or Kodachi, but they'd never do this to her unless they somehow botched it up." In his panic, he didn't notice Nabiki's frown at his mention of Cologne. "Don't get upset, Mr. Tendo. Nothing happened, but Akane somehow carried me all the way to her room and shared her bed with me without managin' ta wake me up. Then, she followed me naked inta the bathroom, embraced an' kissed me. Finally," Ranma gulped before continuing, "she actually asked me for s-s-sex. I had ta splash myself ta get away."

Whatever reaction Ranma had been expecting, this was near the bottom of the list. Soun simply sighed and sat back down, while everyone else looked at him with worried looks as if he was the one who had gone crazy. "Gee," Nabiki began in a sarcastic voice, "you'd think you had married the girl or something."

Missing the intended point, Ranma fell back into her usual pattern as she responded, "Me? Marry that uncute, macho tomboy? Why would I do that? She can't cook. She's built like a brick. She's..." She suddenly felt an angry battle aura. "...standing right behind me, isn't she?" Everyone else looked shocked as they nodded. Ranma slowly turned around to see an extremely mad Akane in a bathrobe. "Ranma, you jerk!" she shouted as she grabbed the rice cooker and pounded her into the floor several times.

Despite the pain, Ranma was finally getting a sense of normality from the strange morning until he saw Akane burst out crying and run back upstairs. She frowned in concern as she slowly pulled herself to her feet. She never could stand to see Akane cry, and knowing that she had been responsible for it this time made it even worse. "Well, that's new," she commented. "It's not like she's never heard me insult her before."

The others continued to stare at her until Nodoka finally broke the silence. "If this is some kind of joke, you've taken it way too far. It's not very manly for you to act this way, especially with what you just said to Akane."

Kasumi chimed in. "Auntie Nodoka, I don't think it is a joke. Ranma wouldn't purposely hurt Akane like that. I think something strange happened to him. It's not like we haven't all seen our share of weirdness."

Ranma cut in. "Whaddya mean somethin' happened ta me? Akane's the one who's throwin' herself at me."

"Ranma, sit down and talk with us," Kasumi ordered sternly. Ranma quickly obeyed, having rarely seen this side of Kasumi. "Now, where to start..." she wondered out loud.

"I've got it," Nabiki said. "What is your name, your quest, and your favorite color?"

Ranma chuckled at the Monty Python reference and answered, "My name is Ranma Saotome, son of Genma and Nodoka Saotome. My quests are to carry on the Anything-Goes School of Martial Arts and cure my Jusenkyo curse. My favorite color is red."

Nabiki nodded, finding no inaccuracies in those answers. She pressed on with the important question, "What is your relationship with my sister Akane?"

Still not understanding where this was going, Ranma gave his response. "Akane Tendo is my friend and my arranged fiancée according to an agreement between Pop and Mr. Tendo to join the two branches of our martial arts style." Although not unexpected considering her earlier behavior, this response once again set up a large staring contest in the room.

Nabiki thought for a moment about what her next question should be. Maybe recent events in Ranma's memory held the key. "What do you remember doing yesterday?"

Ranma replied, "Well, I went to the Cat Café with Pop where the old ghoul split the Jusendo map we've been guardin' among a bunch of us ta keep it safe from the Phoenix Tribe. Unfortunately, they brainwashed Shampoo inta stealin' the pieces from us and took off with her as well. That reminds me. I ain't got time ta play '20 Questions.' Me an' Pop need to pack and go after 'em to China."

Everyone's jaw dropped at this answer. Nabiki quickly recovered and asked her final question to confirm her theory. "Ranma, one last question. This is going to sound silly, but I need you to answer it anyway. What year is it?"

Ranma was growing frustrated. Why were they asking these stupid question when the very fate of both Shampoo and Jusenkyo lay in the balance, and Akane was under some kind of lust spell? Hoping to finally move on to more important issues, she answered the question only to hear a room full of gasps.

Now that she understood what was going on in Ranma's head, Nabiki began to explain. "Ranma, that was last year. Your battle against the Phoenix Tribe already happened a year ago. Don't worry, you won, although you obviously weren't able to cure your curse while you were there. Somehow, you've lost your memories of the last year."

Ranma's face went pale at this explanation. 'This can't be true,' she thought. 'She has ta be makin' it up.' "That still doesn't explain why Akane was actin' all weird," he countered.

"Well, you see," continued Nabiki. "After you left for China, one of those phoenix warriors came back and kidnapped Akane, dragging her into the mess. You and the others never did give us all the details, but something happened there between the two of you that caused a turning point in your relationship. After that, the two of you gradually got along better and better and eventually started dating. Four months ago, the two of you got married, not because of the agreement between our families but because you both wanted to out of love."

Ranma was now completely stunned. She knew she deeply cared for Akane and secretly did have romantic feelings for her, although she wasn't sure if she was actually in love with her. However, this was just too much for her to handle. Her brain switched into denial mode in an effort to salvage what was left of her mind. "Ha, ha, very funny guys, but we've got a serious situation on our hands. Pop, if you ain't gonna help, then I'll go see if Mousse is ready. I've gotta get outta this madhouse, anyway." She ran out of the house and into the streets of Nerima, praying that this was all just one huge practical joke.

Author's Notes: I probably shouldn't have started another story so soon, but this idea came to me, and I just had to get started on it. This one won't be as complex or as long, though, and I'll also be aiming for shorter chapters.

Nabiki Tendo is currently standing by, taking bets on the cause of Ranma's memory loss. Anyone care to wager a guess?