Toltiir nodded, hesitantly. "I'm not
sure about this one, though. Admittedly
neurochemistry is composed of tiny little
Relat, god of elves and music,
smiled and shrugged. "As many blows as
the boy takes to the head, all it takes is a tiny
change in the degree and angle of one and
the boy himself changes. By the time he heals
of it, the damage will be done and the timeline
"Hmm. We'll see, we'll see."
"Watch," Relat formed a scrying
pool out of a puddle on the sidewalk. "Observe
a few days after Ranma gets his brains rattled,
in the Tendo house..."
"Nabiki," Kasumi said, without her customary
smile. "You should give Ranma-kun back to Akane."
"I can't bring myself to do it. I've been in love
with Ranma-kun for so long..." Nabiki said wistfully.
Kasumi's voice was completely dry. "You're
kidding, aren't you?"
Nabiki nodded, knowing she could fool
all of the people some of the time, but Kasumi wasn't
fooled most of the time. "Yep!"
The scene shifted as Relat manipulated
the pool. Ranma was revealed, eavesdropping on the
conversation within the next room.
Kasumi's voice could be clearly heard.
"That's mean, isn't it? Teasing him like that."
Nabiki shrugged. "But..."
Kasumi angrily cut Nabiki off, "If
Ranma-kun finds out, he'll be angry!"
"Oh, that's no problem. He's such
a coward, I'm not afraid of him at all!"
Ranma blinked. A coward? Him?
After he took all those attacks for her earlier?
After putting up with all of Akane's violence
and hostility? After all he'd put up with from
Kuno, Ukyou, Shampoo, and all the nutcases
running around, HE was a COWARD?
Ranma crept off, wishing this nagging
headache would go away. If he went out on a date
with Nabiki, maybe he could embarrass her.
His headache had settled into a deep
throbbing pain that served to further irritate him.
No, that wasn't enough. His thoughts drifted back
to a conversation he'd had with Akane earlier.
"Yep, that's the way it is." Ranma
rubbed his temple, the headache settling into
a dull ache for now. " I'm a victim of sibling rivalry.
This iinazuke bit is just another thing for the
two of you to fight about."
Akane stared at him, beginning to get
"Neither of you care about me, I'm just
something else to fight over." Ranma settled on to
the fence, hoping to catch a little more of a breeze.
" I'd rather deal with your violence than your sister's
scheming, anyway. Ahahahahahahaha!"
Akane pushes Ranma into the river, her
Ranma-chan sticks her head up, spitting
up the brackish water. "Th' hell was that for?!"
A realization came through the headache.
"She...she didn't deny it. I WAS right! They get mad
at me for hurting their feelings, but won't extend me
the same courtesy they demand!"
Ranma clenched one fist. "One's been
abusing me since I got here, the other's been using
me just as long. That's it, that's all, it's OVER!"
Oddly the headache seemed to lessen
up some as he got angrier. He hadn't been into
revenge, he was always the sort to beat a problem
into submission at the time. Therefore, he needed
to get advice.
From who? Kasumi would be absolutely
no help there, he'd only seen her lose her temper once
and it had been just a few minutes ago.
Kodachi? Ranma seriously considered
this. While she WOULD know quite a bit about
vengeance and dirty tricks, he was going to have
to pull one over on Nabiki- and Kodachi just
wasn't in Nabiki's league when it came to dirty
Happosai? Ranma shook his head,
he'd never get the old goat interested, and
even if he did then he'd lose interest in the
fight the moment any young girl showed
some leg or cleavage.
Ukyou? Ukyou WOULD help
without any major tricks or bribes required.
Same problem with Kodachi, though, she
just wasn't sneaky or underhanded enough.
Ranma sighed. There really was
only ONE choice for this. Maybe she had
something for this damn headache too.
"Well, son-in-law, I'm amazed.
You've actually managed to be polite for
more than five minutes. Will wonders
Cologne would have grinned
ear-to-ear if it wouldn't have clued Ranma
in on the dangers. This was just too perfect.
Son-in-law coming to HER for not only a
headache remedy, but advice on breaking
up with those Tendo daughters...
The headache remedy was a
spiked formula, she'd have used it before
now but as long as there was a trace of
love in Ranma's heart or the slightest bit
of remorse for the Tendos, it would have
been useless. Part of the cure, was in fact,
a simple headache medicine. Part of it
would "freeze" his heart, so that he would
continue to be remorseless and angry at
the two Tendos.
Cologne watched Ranma drink,
and realized he was angry with his father
for the engagement, that he was THIS
close to saying to heck with the whole
thing. Once he did that, all she had to
do was offer some support without the
threat of marriage to Shampoo, then he
would have only one avenue open to
him. Eventually the medication would
wear off and with only Shampoo still
interested in him...
"So, son-in-law, I was
thinking. What is the best defense?"
"Not being there," Ranma
said with a blink. "No, it's an attack,
"Both." Cologne nodded.
She was glad she'd locked that crazy
duck up earlier. This was delicate work
without Mousse getting involved.
"I have my own reasons for being
unhappy with those two. I've never
bothered responding. Did you know
that Nabiki attempted to blackmail us
with doctored photos showing pest
control problems? As for Akane, she
has thrown a few racial slurs our way
before. Yet, I wouldn't be averse to
seeing both dealt with in such a way
that they went happily on with their
"Really?" Ranma thought
about this. Getting revenge, but in
such a way that nobody was actually
hurt. It sounded good to him, ,as long
as those two were taught a lesson!
"What do I need to do?"
Cologne DID smile this
"Ranma's been gone for
awhile, hasn't he?" Kasumi looked
a little worried. Ranma missing supper
was alarmingly out of character.
"That jerk!" Akane glared
at an empty spot next to her. "I'll bet
he's with Shampoo or Ukyou!"
Nabiki shrugged. She wasn't
concerned. He'd get hungry and show
up eventually. "If you're that concerned
about him, I'll sell him to you for 5000 yen."
"Who would want that jerk
Kasumi frowned slightly as
she took a bite of rice. That was odd,
there was a flavor in it she couldn't place.
It was faint, but this was a recipe she
had made a number of times, and she
was quite familiar with the results.
"Oh, come on, Akane."
Nabiki waved her hand in a dismissing
gesture. "Just because you're family,
I'll give you an extra discount."
"I am NOT interested!"
Akane turned away from Nabiki.
"That jerk can stay with Ukyou
for all I care!"
"Nabiki, as neither you
or Akane are actually interested in
Ranma," Kasumi interjected, "why
do you continue to bicker over him?
I'm sure he has feelings too you
"Hah!" Akane snorted.
"Go back to being oblivious, Kasumi.
You do it much better than trying to
Kasumi stared at Akane.
"Kasumi, don't try to think,
you'll hurt yourself." Nabiki stopped.
Had she just said that? Well, it isn't
as if it wasn't obvious anyway.
Soun Tendo glanced at
all three daughters, something didn't
quite seem right. "Daughters, you
shouldn't quarrel amongst yourselves
like this in front of a guest."
"A guest," Nabiki lost her
calm. "You call this freeloading panda
whose part time job doesn't even cover
the hot water he uses, let alone all the
food he manages to sock away, a
GUEST? Let me give you a clue, Daddy,
GUESTS LEAVE! There's an old
Arabic saying that guests and leftovers
should be thrown out after three days.
How long does this worthless scrap of
hide have to stay here using up our
"Sweeping up all the panda
hair is just..." Kasumi's eyes began to
tear up. "It's just too much, and it keeps
clogging up the drains..."
"She yelled at me!" Soun
began to wail.
"Honestly, you're all such
a group of pathetic whiners," Akane
growled. She really wanted to hit
Genma's eyes flicked from
one to the other of the Tendos. Since
he was currently a panda, he held up
a sign. [Huh?]
He briefly made eye contact
with Akane. Big mistake.
"Are you STARING at me?"
Akane's eyes seemed to ignite. "Do
you know how long I've wanted to
sell you to the circus?"
Genma shook his head but
couldn't seem to break eye contact.
He was dimly aware of Soun continuing
to wail, of Kasumi wandering off away
from the table, crying HER eyes out.
Nabiki was making a list of all the expenses
she was holding the Saotomes personally
responsible for so she could sue them for
every penny they had unto the tenth
Akane reached across the
table, grabbing a patch of fur, and
continued to glare full into his eyes.
"Do you know how MUCH I hate you
and that damn son of yours!"
Cologne listened to the sound
of crunching and bashing coming from the
house, and smiled. Giving the Black Rose
a few tips on horticulture had paid off.
Of course, she still had to complete this
deluxe ramen delivery, but it would also
prepare her alibi.
And when it turned out the
Black Rose had done this, trying to pry
Ranma away from Akane, they would
find that Cologne HAD let Kodachi know
about the intoxicating effects of the
True Feelings potion. Just a slip in an
exchange of information dealing with
odd herbcraft, that's all.
Son-in-law, however, would
NEVER be welcome in the house again.
Just the memory of their actions this
night would remain tangled with the
memories of Ranma since his absence
would be seen as the trigger.
Cologne sped from the
scene, she didn't wish them a lot of
ill, after all. They were just obstinate
obstacles that had to be bypassed in
order to fulfill Amazon law. That's all.
Kasumi glanced up from
where she'd been trying to get her
crying under control and saw Cologne
speeding from rooftop to rooftop.
Resolve hardened, though
she didn't realize she was still under
the effect of the "true feelings" potion
that had been dumped into the rice.
Kasumi's eyes hardened.
Cologne had done this, though she
realized that it had to be some sort of
She stalked back to the
house. This was all because Ranma
and Akane couldn't handle their
relationship. Then Nabiki...
"Nabiki, you were offering
Ranma to Akane for how much?"
"5000 yen." Nabiki glanced
over at her sister who was still slapping
around the panda. "Last chance, sis!"
Kasumi put 5000 yen down on
the table before Nabiki could say anything
further. "I'll expect a receipt, Nabiki," said
Kasumi in a voice that could chill a glacier.
If Ranma wouldn't make a choice
and end this insanity, then someone would
just have to make it FOR him. The sacrifices
she had to make to keep this household
The door to the Nekohanten
opened cautiously. They found Ranma,
drugged and asleep.
By the time Cologne got back
from her shopping, Ranma was gone,
Shampoo and Mousse were sitting in
cages, and her spice rack had been very
"But Ranma doesn't love you!"
Ukyou pleaded. "I'll agree you're a better
choice than Akane, but..."
Kasumi sighed. "Akane and
Ranma obviously are NEVER going to
confess their true feelings for one another.
Ranma views you as his old buddy
Ucchan, and Shampoo...well..."
"Yeah." Ukyou nodded.
"But I LOVE him. She's only interested
in him because of those weird amazon
"No, I think Shampoo does
actually have feelings for Ranma."
Kasumi was finding some difficulty in
fitting back inside her shell of
obliviousness. "Still, for various
reasons, he won't make a decision on
his own. The way I see it, the only
two real choices he can make are a
Tendo or you, those are the only two
VALID Japanese engagements."
"So you're not denying
my engagement is valid!" Ukyou
smiled in triumph. Just getting one
of the others to acknowledge THIS
much was a victory in itself.
"So, since Ranma is
unable to make a choice here, we
need to find a civilized way to
resolve this." Kasumi smiled at
Ukyou. "Any suggestions?"
Ukyou lifted her big
spatula. "Well, you could just
let me have him."
"Really, Ukyou, I am
disappointed that you'd turn to
"Oh, well, it was just
a thought." Ukyou sighed. It was
such unfamiliar ground around here
to actually talk a problem through
and try to resolve something. It
was better than letting things drag
on for years, she had to admit that.
"I don't know any card
"Prove who loves him
more? A wifely skills contest?"
"Both would be difficult
to adjudicate, I think."
"Flip a coin?" Ukyou
fingered a 100yen coin.
"While the simplicity
level seems attractive, the randomness
leaves much to be desired."
"Pity we can't count on
him to make an actual decision." An
idea began to form. "Hey, waitaminute.
The deal was that he had to marry a
"That is true..." Kasumi
smiled as she considered the possibilities.
"...and any who object to
this marriage speak now or forever
hold your peace!"
Kasumi held up a receipt
to forestall Nabiki's protest. Akane
had stormed off hours ago. Shampoo
had been knocked out by Doctor Tofu
when she'd tried to interrupt the
Cologne had shown up,
seen this, and was now happily
considering the possibility of having
another doctor in the Village.
Ukyou Kuonji, briefly
Ukyou Tendo, now Ukyou Saotome
glared at the crowd just DARING
anyone to say something.
Soun and Genma were
both sleeping thanks to the drugged
miso soup they'd had this morning.
Kasumi just smiled. It was
so...LIBERATING to cause some chaos
instead of cleaning up after it all the
time. Though certainly it would be at
least a little more peaceful around here
And that, after all, was what
she really wanted right now.
hey, you think i couldn't expand this?
sure i could, but everything fits for a Bet
entry that could be a single shot, i just
wanted to tie this one up while i work on
Kimiko's Legacy, Koi Fishing, and "Disaster-
the Peorth-Lum-Cologne Alliance"
we'll see you there!