IDoR theme song by Vincent Seifert (with alterations by G.K.)

(All) One guy [Ranma, looking cocky]
Three girls [Kasumi, Nabiki, Akane, looking cute]
Two schools [Tendo Dojo/Furinkan]
A curse [Genie-Ranma, looking cocky AND cute]

(All) 'Kane:
(Akane) I dream of Ranm— Huh? Who wrote this?!
[She turns and argues with Kasumi and Nabiki]

(Others) Oh, yes:
She dreams of Ranma!

[Shampoo appears out of nowhere in front of the three. She wears a
costume similar to Genie-Ranma's.]
(All) Shampoo:
(Akane) I dream of Ranma! [amorously]
[Akane starts arguing with Shampoo]

(All) Throw him into the koi pond
[Genma throws Ranma into the pond]

He comes out to grant a wish
[genie-Ranma-in-pond splutters, realizes how revealing his wet top is,
then crosses his arms over his bosom and blinks like Barbara Eden,
but nothing happens]

(Kasumi) But nobody ever thinks of
The fish
[A koi jumps out of the water, slaps genie-Ranma across the face
with its tail, and dives back in]

(All) Ranma, he fell into Genie-niquan
[Ranma falls into a pool at Jusenkyo]

Now his manhood is all gone
[genie-Ranma in the pool looks down and screams]

He gives 'em what they say they want
[genie-Ranma, wearing a flat-eyed look of disgust, is surrounded by
characters with expressions ranging from avarice to lust]

(All) Which is fine with
(All) 'Biki:
(Nabiki) I dream of money!
[Nabiki wallows in cash a la Scrooge McDuck.]

[Ranma smirks as he lifts a kettle of hot water]
(All) 'Doka:
(Nodoka) O-ni must die-ee!
[He sees her katana, frantically dropping the kettle while
flashing an insipid grin]

(All) Kuno:
(Kuno) I dream of, er, uh,
[Kuno's head whips back and forth between Akane and genie-Ranma]

No! I must have them both!
[POW! They both clobber him. Cut to black. :) ]

Episode 4:
I'm Not a Genie, But I Play One On TV

An announcement sputtered over Furinkan's public address system, ending the school day. "Don't forget that submissions for the school play are due tomorrow morning. See Mr. Mokusei with any questions."

Flanked by his two new buddies, Ranma walked out of the classroom.

"What kind of play do you think they'll do this semester, Hiroshi?"

"Dunno, Daisuke. Whatever it is, it won't be as good as the one we made last year."

"You guys wrote a play?" Ranma asked with mild surprise. These guys didn't seem like the type who'd go in for that stuff.

"Yeah," Hiroshi answered. "The drama club likes to use student-written plays. And they used ours last time. Mr. Mokusei even complimented us on it. He said... um, what exactly did he say again, Daisuke?"

"He said, 'All the other submissions are even more terrible.'"

"Right, that was it." The three students sifted their way through the crowd, gradually moving toward the exit. "Play writing is easy. The most important thing is costume design. That's the only reason guys go to plays anyway — to see what kind of revealing clothes the girls are wearing."

"Yup, costume design is crucial," Daisuke said. "Then you have to get the right actresses. Y'know, ones who'll fill out the outfits you come up with."

Ranma gave a forced chuckle. "I know what you mean, man." He didn't really care about girls in costumes, but guys were supposed to talk about this kind of stuff, and he wanted to fit in. Anyway, it was harmless.

Hiroshi grinned. "Hey, Ranma, didja see the babe who was here yesterday? The one with the pigtail?"

"Er...." Ranma's throat tightened. "No. I didn't. I dunno who you're talkin' about."

"Damn, you shoulda seen her," Daisuke said. "She was hot. Almost as gorgeous as Akane."

"Whaddaya mean? She's a lot better looking than Akane!"

"Who is?"

"That chick. The one I don't know anything about." He glared at the two of them, and saw that they weren't buying it. "Um, actually, come to think of it, I do know her. She's, um, Ranko. Akane's cousin."

"Think you could convince her to be in the play this semester?" Hiroshi stopped walking and turned his head towards Ranma. "I'm sure no matter what they decide to do, there's a part that'll be good for her."

"No!" The thought of being fodder for adolescent perverted fantasies disgusted Ranma. Let the school do whatever play they wanted; he wasn't going to have anything to do with it.

"Oh well," Daisuke said. "Anyway, like I said, there's costume design, and casting. Also, you need to write some jokes into the script — if only to convince the teachers that it's not just an excuse to ogle the chicks."

"Jokes? Like what?" Ranma asked, grateful for the change of subject.

"Jokes are easy to write. It's best to go for the cheapest possible laugh. Forget about doing anything that requires any setup, or anything satirical; your audience probably won't get it anyhow. Go for cheap sight gags, pop culture references, and the occasional vague remark that sounds like sexual perversion. That's what we did in the last play, and we had people rolling on the floor."


"Yeah," Hiroshi answered. "It said right in the script, 'all actors stop what they're doing and roll around on the floor.'"

"Too bad Akane refused to be in our play," Daisuke said. "Think she'd do one this year if you asked her, Ranma?"

"Um, I doubt it, guys," Ranma said, hoping they would drop it.

"Dude, they're engaged," Hiroshi said. "He doesn't need her to be in a play. He's probably already seen her in her underwear."

"What?" Ranma resisted the urge to slug him. "Of course not!"

Hiroshi gaped. "You've seen her out of her underwear?"

"No! Why the heck would I wanna look at an uncute chick like her anyway? I mean, she has zero sex appeal!"

Hiroshi and Daisuke backed away slowly, with nervous looks on their faces. Probably afraid I'll beat 'em up, Ranma thought.

"Akane should wear a gorilla suit, far as I'm concerned," he continued. "I mean, not only is she a tomboy, but she's flat-chested, completely uncute, zero sex appeal, and...." He stopped talking as he became aware of someone behind him.

Ranma turned around just in time to see Akane's fist crash into his face.


Dr. Tofu smiled. "All better, Ranma?"

"Yeah." Sitting up on the examination table, Ranma moved his arms about to test them. To his relief, he seemed to be good as new; nothing even hurt anymore.

He stepped down to the floor. "Ranma, please try to get along with Akane," Tofu said to him. "It may not be important to you, but I'm sure it would mean a lot to your family and the Tendos."

"Hey, it ain't my fault. She just can't take a joke, that's all."

"You're used to hanging around with the guys. You have to act differently with a girl." Tofu put a fatherly hand on Ranma's shoulder. "There are things you can joke about with men but not with women."

"Yeah?" Ranma said, genuinely curious. "Like what?"

"For example, I could call you a gutless wimp."

"Hey! I am not!"

"Just demonstrating, Ranma." Tofu gave a friendly smile. "Macho put-downs are just one of the ways that we men interact with each other."

"Oh. Oh yeah, right."

"So since we're both men, it would be perfectly all right for me to say that you're such a loser, you come in second place in a game of solitaire."

"Whatever." Ranma edged toward the door. "Guess I oughtta be goin'. Thanks for...."

"I could say 'Ranma Saotome is so stupid, he waited at a stop sign for three hours for it to tell him to go.' Or...."

"All right, already!" Ranma said irritably.

"Anyhow, the point is that women are different. For some odd reason, they just can't shrug off insults the way that we men can. Strange creatures they are, eh?"

"Yeah." Ranma nodded. "Like my mom. You wouldn't believe the kinda trouble she makes me go through. And all Akane does is make fun of me for it. She just don't understand what it's like."

"You're probably right that she doesn't. Mrs. Tendo passed away from terminal cancer ten years ago."

"Oh." Ranma struggled awkwardly for words, feeling as if Tofu had just hit him in combat. "That's too bad."

"Yes, it's a shame." Tofu gazed at the window for a moment. "She was such a nice person. Just like Akane."

"Akane? Nice?"

"You don't have to sound so surprised." Tofu ushered Ranma out his front door. "Someday, you'll understand."

"If you say so." He didn't think he ever would, but he wanted the conversation to be over with. "See ya later, Doc."


"Oh, hello, Ranma!" Kasumi was washing vegetables as Ranma walked into the kitchen. "How is everything at school?"

"Okay, I guess." He opened the refrigerator and found a pitcher of lemonade. "How's everything 'round here?"

"Oh, just fine. The neighbors' dog had puppies. They're so cute! And a new supermarket's opening down the street. Oh, there was something else I wanted to tell you, but I can't think of what it is right now."

"Probably wasn't important, then." Ranma poured himself a glass, then put the pitcher back. He had homework to do, but it could wait. For now, he was going to relax and not worry about anything.

"Hello?" A voice called from the living room. "Is anyone home?"

"Oh, I remember!" Kasumi looked up. "Your mother called to say she'd be coming over."

The lemonade that Ranma was about to drink splashed over his face. "Hi, Mrs. Saotome!" he said, switching to his squeaky-cute 'Ranko' voice.

Ranma's mother stepped into the kitchen. "Hello, Ranko. Hello, Kasumi. Is my son here?"

"I'm afraid not." Ranma smiled. "He and his pop just left on another training trip."

Her face drooped in disappointment. Then she looked up at Ranma. "That's quite an unusual outfit you're wearing, Ranko."

"What?" Ranma looked down at his clothes. As always after changing forms, he was wearing the genie costume. "You mean this?"

She nodded.

"Er... well, you see...." He shuddered as he remembered what she'd said a few days ago. Genies were really oni, evil creatures that she would kill if given the chance. "There's a reason that I'm dressed like this." Hopefully, he'd think of what it was in the next few seconds. "It's because of...."

"The school play!"

Ranma's mother turned at the sound of the voice behind her. "Oh, hello, Akane."

"Our school, Furinkan, is putting on a play about genies, Mrs. Saotome," Akane said. "Ranko is dressed in one of the costumes."

"Ah, I see." Ranma's mother smiled. "How interesting. Will your play be open to the public? I'd like to see it."

Akane nodded. "Sure, of course you can come."

"'Scuse me, Mrs. Saotome." Ranma pulled Akane back into the living room. "What the heck are you telling her that for?"

"I'm just trying to save your skin," Akane said, somewhat irate. "Don't say 'thanks' or anything."

"I don't wanna be in some dumb play!"

"Oh, I'm sorry, Ranma." Akane's voice was heavy with sarcasm. "I'll go and tell your mother the real reason for the genie suit."

Ranma sighed. "It ain't gonna work anyway. The play they do probably won't have a genie in it. I doubt if anyone'll even submit a play like that."

Akane thought for a moment. "I'll write one, then."

"By tomorrow morning? That don't leave you much time. Why not just wish for one?"

"Because I don't want the script to disappear whenever the leading lady gets hot water spilled on her. Besides, I've never written a play before. It'll be fun."

Yeah right, Ranma thought. Fun for her, maybe; but for him it would be anything but.


Akane set her pen down onto her desk looked back over the last page she'd written.

Genie: What is your wish, master?

Boy: Huh? Who are you, lady?

Genie: I am a genie, master. I can magically grant you anything that you might ask for. I am also a naive, young fool who will inevitably fall hopelessly in love with you.

Boy: Oh yeah? Well, like all boys my age, I happen to be a hormone-crazed loudmouth idiot! There's only one thing I want, and I don't need it from you, because there's plenty of girls who'll give it to me. You want my wish? I wish you'd go away and leave me alone!

Genie: I cannot do that, master!

Okay, she admitted, it needed a little work.

Show, don't tell; that was what the creative writing teacher had told her last year. Still, the characters and concept would work. The boy — she needed to think of a name for him — would be hired by an old miser to do home repairs. Then he'd find the genie lamp where no one knew it was there, and accidentally rub it, releasing the genie. The old miser would get possession of our heroine. Then she and our hero would fall in love with each other, and he'd have to rescue her from her new owner.

Akane sighed. The idea of a sappy romance appealed to her, more than she cared to admit even to herself. Deep down, a big part of her identified with the wide-eyed, lovestruck idiocy of her genie character. She could easily have ended up as that type of person, except for one thing: the guys who were worth falling for were already taken. The Doctor Tofus of the world always swooned over other women like Kasumi.

So, Akane wondered, if her ideal man was the kind, considerate gentlemen, why hadn't she made the boy in her play like that? Why had she made the male lead a muscle-brained jerk like... like all the boys her age? Because it works better dramatically, she told herself. And the audience would be able to identify with the character. No other reason.

Anyway, her play idea was certainly workable. The concept would provide opportunity for humor, romance, drama, suspense... everything a writer could want. And if anyone — especially Ranma — asked, the genie character was nothing like her. If he made fun of her for it, she'd just have to add some gratuitous violence. Not in the play, either.


Ranma managed to get through his mother's visit without saying anything that tipped his mother off about his curse. Consequently, she managed to get through her visit without cutting his head off. This pleased him more than he could say.

In the kitchen, a kettle already simmered on the stove, and Ranma poured its contents onto his head. No matter how many times he did it, it was always a relief to get back into male form. There was always a fear in the back of his mind that one day hot water wouldn't work, that the curse would be permanent.

The phone rang as he climbed up the stairs. "Hello?" Kasumi's voice answered from the family room. "Oh, Yuka! How are you?"

Ranma paused to listen. Akane's friend Yuka had treated him suspiciously since they'd met. Was it his fault that he'd turned up invisible in the girls' locker room? Now she was probably calling to accuse him of something else.

"How's your mother," Kasumi asked. "Oh. Oh, yes. I remember how that happened with Mother. Father cried so hard when we took her to the hospital."

Hospital? Ranma's mind boggled in disbelief. It sounded like Yuka's mother had the same cancer that Mrs. Tendo had had. But that couldn't be right; he had to have mis-heard Kasumi.

"How much longer does your mother have?" She paused to let Yuka answer. "Five months? I see."

Oh my gods, Ranma thought. It was true. And if Kasumi knew, Akane had to as well. How could she just go on with her life as if it were no big deal? The mother of one of her best friends was dying from the same disease that killed her mother. Sure, he could understand why she wouldn't want to tell him the whole story, but she could've said something... something like....

Something like I wish for a cure.

Damn it, why hadn't she tried to use the genie magic for that? Sure, the wishes went away when Ranma went back to being a guy, but there were ways to get around that. If she wished for a cure, it would disappear afterwards, but the cancer would still be healed. There was no reason not to try, at least. Someone who was due to die in five months didn't have a lot to lose.

Ranma felt himself starting to burn with anger and frustration. Akane, obviously, saw him as a complete incompetent who couldn't do anything right. He was such an idiot in her eyes that it was better to let her friend's mom die rather than let Ranma the screw-up try to help.

"I think Akane's up in her room," Kasumi said. "Hold on just a moment and I'll go get her." Not wanting to be caught eavesdropping, Ranma slipped quickly and quietly into his room. A complete incompetent. Where did Akane get off calling him that? He'd show her!


Akane wrote. Minutes stretched into hours. Page after page zipped past. Line followed line, scene followed scene, but by eleven-thirty she was by her own estimate only about half done. Yawning, she set down her pencil and thought about how the story might end.

Something rapped quietly on her door. Getting up, she cracked it open a bit and saw Ranma on the other side. "Uh, hey," he said. "How's the play goin'?"

She motioned him inside, and closed the door after him. "Slowly. This is a lot harder than I thought," she admitted. A gust of cool wind blew in from her window, and the leggings on Ranma's costume fluttered. Wait a minute... costume? "Your mother's not still here, is she?"

"Um... nope."

"Then why are you in genie form?"

"I just thought you might want something. Y'know, to make a wish."

Akane closed her eyes for a moment, and found getting them back open more difficult than expected. "Ranma, I thought you hated it when people did that."

"I do! Well, I mean I usually do. But I'm cool with it if it's for a really good reason."

"All right, then." Her patience dwindling, she (silently) wished that he would leave her alone. "As soon as I find a really good reason, I'll let you know."

"How about someone dying?" Ranma asked, his tone accusatory. "Would that be a good reason?"

She fumbled for an appropriate answer, then decided it wasn't worth the effort. "Ranma, I'm tired. Is there a point to all this?"

He glared directly at her. "You don't believe I can do it, do you."

"Do what?" she asked, ready to slug him in about fifty seconds if he didn't start making sense by then.

"Cure Yuka's mother's condition!" he blurted out.

"Cure... Mrs. Nikai?" So much for making sense. "I suppose maybe you could. But you don't need to."

"Why not?" he said defensively.

"Because she wouldn't want you to. And if she did, there's already a cure for pregnancy."

"A cure for...." Ranma's eyes fell to the ground. "Not cancer?"

Cancer? Where on Earth did that come from? Never mind, Akane thought; she didn't want to know. "No, not cancer."

"Um...." Ranma looked up, staring dumbly. "Are they sure it's not cancer?"

"Yes, Ranma. They have reliable ways of telling the difference between those two things. Now would you please let me get back to writing? I'd like to be able to sleep sometime tonight."

"Yeah, right, whatever," he said, a bit embarrassed. "Think I could look at what you've got so far?" She handed over the pages, and he quickly scanned through them. "Gah. I have to tell this guy that I love him?"

"It's only a play." She suppressed a sadistic chuckle. "At least you don't have to kiss him. I just wish I knew what Mr. Mokusei is going to say about it."

"Akane, you've just gotta start paying attention to what you say around me." Ranma handed back the pages; comments were now scrawled over them in red. "No using the W word unless you mean it. Know what I'm saying?"

"Oops. Well, no harm done." She read the new writing. "Anyway, it looks like he likes it. Er, will like it. Most of this is just minor touch-ups." The last page said that the old man was too stereotypical, and that it would be better to humanize him, make him more sympathetic. That was the only thing that would take some thought.

"Hey, Akane. Do you suppose there really are genies? Besides me, I mean."

She considered for a moment. "I suppose so. I mean, it seems pretty unlikely that you'd be the only one."

"Yeah, that's what I was thinkin'." He gazed through the window at the pitch blackness outside. "They're out there somewhere. And they probably have 'masters' who are just like the old dude in your play. All they ever bother wishing for is a bigger house or a new car every now and then."

"What else would you expect?" Akane asked curiously.

"You read the paper, Akane," he said. "You know how screwed up things are these days. Why don't people with genies wish for stuff like world peace, food for the hungry, and all that?"

Akane nodded. "Or a cure for cancer."

She'd meant it half-jokingly, but the idea refused to vacate her head. Why not do it for real?

An inner voice answered that it was stupid, that was why not. It couldn't possibly work. Ranma's powers were nothing but a joke — there to get triggered accidentally and cause trouble for him, if not others. They couldn't accomplish basic useful tasks without messing up, let alone miracles.

Still, what could it hurt to try? All she needed was a way to do it indirectly, so that it didn't go away when Ranma went male. She thought about it, and the answer was obvious. "Ranma, I wish... I wish that Tofu was able to cure cancer."

"Ummm...." Ranma blinked several times. "Tofu cure cancer?"

"Someone's got to do the cure, Ranma. If you just wish everyone cured, it'll go away as soon as you go back to being a boy. But if Tofu invents a cure, they can figure out how he did it and keep using it."

She could almost see the gears grind in his head. "But I thought Yuka's mom didn't have cancer?"

"That's right. But other people do."

"And I just cured 'em?" Ranma's gaze widened. "Wow."

Take all the credit why don't you, Akane thought. But it was his powers that did the job. Anyway, no one was cured yet. That she'd believe when she saw it. There was still plenty of room for things to go wrong.

"But why Tofu?" he asked.

"Who else? Us?" She grinned. "We're not doctors. That'd be a little suspicious." Besides, Tofu deserved whatever fame and recognition this kind of discovery might get him. He was never going to love her, and she'd accepted that, but at least she could do something nice for him.

For a moment they stood, lost in a moment of awkward silence. "Er... I guess you oughtta get back to work on that play," Ranma said.

"Yeah." Akane scanned back over the red-penned comments, trying to get her mind on task.

"Anything I can help with?"

"Um...." A pang of hunger rippled in her stomach. "Make me a snack?"

Ranma snorted. "Akane, that's one of the top ten things you should never say to a genie."

"Dummy. That's only bad if I say I wish you'd ma—" She quickly clamped a hand over her mouth. Laughing loudly, Ranma walked out.

Leaning back in her chair, Akane glanced at the clock, and sighed. It was now well past midnight, and there was still a lot to do. She might even have to stay up all night; she hadn't done that since... since Mother had passed away, so many years ago.

Cancer. When Akane had first heard the name, she imagined it as a horrible monster that came at night when everyone was asleep. The cancer monster had killed her mother, because she had been asleep and couldn't stop it. So +she stayed awake, ready to fight the monster if it came to take Daddy or Kasumi. For three straight days she didn't sleep a wink, until her body finally reached its limit and she collapsed into slumber despite herself.

And now what? Could she really have killed the cancer monster with just a sentence, after so many scientists and doctors had failed? And what gave her the right to wield that kind of power? Who was she to play God, to decide who should live and who should die?

She pushed the silly thought away. Cancer wasn't some divine providence. It was a disease; an agglomeration of cells brought on by industrial pollution, or second-hand smoke, or chemical additives in food, or some other reason that science didn't yet understand. It deserved to be destroyed. And if she could help, she would.

Taking pencil in hand, she continued writing the play. An ending was beginning to coalesce in her head.


Ranma lay on his futon, staring at the darkened wall, waiting for sleep to take him. Through the opened window, a wind hissed and whined. His panda father snored, the sound muffled by the blanket that covered him.

He felt annoyed. Why he did, he wasn't sure; Akane had done what he had asked, what he had come into her room wanting her to do. Even though Yuka's mother didn't have cancer, the cure would help a lot of people. He even understood why Tofu had to be the one to officially make the discovery. Yet something about it still bugged him.

Akane liked Tofu. That bothered him, though he didn't know the reason for that either. It wasn't as if he planned to actually go through with the marriage to her. But he didn't appreciate his own fiancee using his own powers to give a present to another guy. Why didn't she use the magic to do something nice for him once in a while?

A scene came uninvited into his mind.

"Yes, master?"

"Ranma, I wish my husband would invent a cure for... um, which diseases haven't we done yet?"

"Smallpox and athlete's foot, master."

"Good! Only one serious one left. Ranma, I wish Tofu would invent a cure for it."


"Oh, hello, Tofu dear. How was your day?"

"Akane, I just thought of a cure for athlete's foot!"

"Ranma, you're a stupid jerk!"

"Yes, master."

"Something wrong with Ranma, Akane?"

"Nothing that can't be fixed easily, dear. It's so much nicer with him around now that I've wished away his free will. And I know he's happier, too. Aren't you, Ranma?"

"What is your wish, master?"

Sighing, he rolled over onto his stomach. Okay, so Akane didn't seem like the kind of person who would do that. So far. But the power his cursed form could access had to be tempting her. Maybe it was only a matter of time before she decided that he needed to be wished into a mindless zombie, for his own good as well as the whole world's.

Yet what choice did he have besides staying with her? As long as he had the curse, he'd have the same problem. He could run away, but then he'd just have new people to deal with instead of the Tendos. No, better the devil you knew.

There wasn't much point in thinking about it. His life was screwed up, but he couldn't do anything to solve his big problems, at least not at the moment. Better to concentrate on more immediate things, like the play. The genie outfit was the worst thing. He made a mental note to himself: Talk to whoever is in charge of costumes, and make sure that he'd get something to wear that wouldn't have all the perverts drooling at him.

Satisfied that he'd solved something, Ranma slept.


By the time Akane had put the finishing touches on her play and copied it neatly to hand in, it was a quarter past six. There wasn't much point in going to bed; waking up after an hour's nap would be infinitely harder than just not sleeping at all.

She glanced at her shelf, and the colorful cover of a manga caught her attention. A smiling figure in cape and tights flew boldly through the air; standard comics fare — except that the figure had the head of a pig. The series was called Tonde Burin. Kasumi had given it to her only a few days ago, and she hadn't gotten around to reading it yet.

Akane began to read through the volume. The heroine was a young schoolgirl named Karin Burin, very cute, very hyperactive. A talking animal sidekick led Karin to a spaceship, where aliens gave her a magical compact that let her turn into a superhero. It was a dream come true for her, but with one drawback — her hero form was a pig. Not to worry, the aliens said; once she carried out a prescribed number of heroic deeds, she'd be able to look like whatever she wanted to. But if she failed, she'd be stuck as a pig permanently.

Setting the book down, she giggled a bit at the picture forming in her mind: Ranma, in his female body and genie costume, but with Burin's pig head. Ranma Burin. It struck her as funny, though she wasn't quite sure why; maybe it was just lack of sleep. Or maybe it was the odd similarity between his curse and the girl's transformation; both of them hated the bodies they turned into, but needed to accept them at least some of the time because of the powers they conferred.

"Akane! Nabiki!" Kasumi's voice called out. "Time to get up for breakfast!"

Already up, Akane set the manga down on the desk and stood. As she opened her door, she dimly noticed the T-shirt and shorts she had been wearing since yesterday afternoon. Oh, right. Need to change. School uniform. She shut the door and stepped over to the closet, feeling dreamy and lightheaded as if the world were about to dissolve into a gray haze. Please let me make it through school today, she thought, not sure who or what the request was aimed at. That's only, what... eight hours? Then I'll be able to sleep.


Breakfast time went by in a blur. Before Akane knew it, she and Ranma were walking the familiar route to school. Sized for his larger male body, his Chinese shirt puffed out in the wind as he strode effortlessly along the fence tops.

Akane checked the contents of her bookbag; miraculously, she hadn't forgotten anything. The manuscript for her play was there, though she couldn't remember having packed it. She perked up a little at the thought that something had gone right for a change. Soon the day was over and she could rest. And her part would be done; it was Ranma — or rather, 'Ranko' — who would have to act in the play.

"Oh, I almost forgot," she said. "Ranma, you can't be in the play unless you're a Furinkan student."

"If I ain't, why've I been goin' there every day for the past week?" he answered, as if it were a stupid question.

"You are, dummy, but Ranko isn't." Akane decided getting mad at him wasn't worth the effort. "But that's easily fixed. Ranma, I wish you were registered at Furinkan as 'Ranko Tendo.'"

Ranma sighed. Akane felt a twinge of sympathy for him; little by little, his identity was being taken away. Fortunately, this wish would go away the next time he used hot water. For once, that limitation worked to his advantage.

"Akane! Hi!"

Akane turned and waved. "Oh, hi, Yuka." She stopped to let her friend catch up.

"Did you finish your play?"

"Uh huh. Took me all night, though." Akane brushed a small trace of sweat from her forehead. Ranma jumped down from the fence. "Yuka, have you met my cousin Ranko? She's going to be exchanging here while Ranma goes to her school."

"Hi, Ranko." Yuka smiled cheerfully, then stared disapprovingly at his clothes. "Didn't Akane tell you about Furinkan's uniform rules? Isn't that the same shirt Ranma wears?"

"Um, yeah," Ranma said. "Y'see, um, when Ranma and I exchanged schools, they had us swap clothes too."

"Ah, er, I see." Yuka backed several steps away from him. Akane laughed slightly, wondering how Ranma would explain this one next time Yuka saw him as a male. "Anyway, nice meeting you, Ranko. See you in class."

"Nice meetin' you too." Ranma waved. "And I'm glad your mother doesn't have cancer!"

"Er, thanks," she said dubiously, glancing back intermittently as she turned and walked through the schoolyard gates. It was time for class.


"Here's the latest test results, Doctor."

Doctor Kenichi Tanaka took the folder from the technician. He stared at the pages, secret messages encoded in laser-printed numbers and diagrams that held the fate of his patients. Their information pointed at a conclusion as undeniable as it was unbelievable.

The earlier tests were confirmed. He scanned back and forth over the data, not even blinking, feeling as if they might disappear if he were to take his eyes off even for a second. Four separate patients, four spontaneous remissions. To call it miraculous would be the understatement of the century; but it was also frustrating, because he still didn't have the slightest idea how it had happened. For the sake of all his other patients, not to mention the prestige and extra funding it would bring to Byoki Hospital and even a possible Nobel prize, he had to figure it out.

"Check with the nurses for these patients," he said to the technician. "I want to know everything they've been doing for the past couple of days. Every detail, right down to the bathrooms they've used."


The teacher set the chalk down on the metal rail that ran under the blackboard. "Miss Tendo?"

Ranma looked three desks ahead to where Akane sat, her mouth hanging open in a long yawn. "Yes?" he answered.

"Not you, Ranko," the teacher said. "The other Miss Tendo." Ranma knew who he had meant, but hopefully his answer would buy Akane a little time.

Akane's mouth snapped shut. "I'm sorry. I just wish I weren't so tired." She blinked a couple of times, and seemed to perk up. Ranma wondered why she hadn't done that before. Probably too stubborn.

"I just wish you'd pay attention to what I'm doing, Miss Tendo." The teacher picked up a stack of papers from his desktop. "Now then, you all need to get into your usual groups to do this worksheet. It's due by the end of class. Any questions?" Nobody responded. "All right, then." He stepped forward and began passing out the papers.

Desks scraped across the floor, clustering into sets of three or four. "Hey, Akane," Ranma said. "I'm in your group, right? I mean, since I'm exchanging with Ranma and all...."

She didn't answer, nor even give any sign that she'd heard the question. Her head turned, her eyes following the teacher around the room as he passed out the assignment.

"Oh, crap." Ranma tried to wave a hand in front of her eyes, but an invisible chain held it back. He thought for a moment, then pulled the copy of the play script out of her bookbag and moved over to Yuka.

"Is something wrong with Akane, Ranko? Why isn't she coming over here to work with us?"

"Um, she'll be here in just a sec. She's fixin' a couple things in her play." He handed her one of the pages. "Matter of fact, she wanted me to ask you what you thought of this line here."

Yuka's eyes scanned the paper. "It looks fine to me."

"Try it out, wouldja? I wanna hear how it sounds."

"All right. 'I wish for that last wish to be canceled.'"

Ranma turned his head to glance at Akane. Her eyes blinked as she looked around the room in confusion. "Yeah, that sounds all right," he said. "Thanks!"

"Hmmm... now that I think about it, wouldn't it be better for him to say 'I wish for my last wish to be canceled?'"

"Um, right, whatever." Ranma took the page back and walked over to give the play back to Akane. She was staring at the teacher again. Ranma took a pencil from his pocket. "Hey, Yuka, what was that line again?"

"'I wish for my last wish to be canceled.'"

"Thanks." He scribbled it down onto the page as Akane once again went back to normal. He prodded her arm to get her attention. "Group worksheet time. We're over there in the corner."

Ranma sighed. How would they ever get through a whole semester like this?


The clock ticked. Still another twelve minutes until the end of class. Ranma leaned forward, letting his head rest on his opened palms. A book lay on the desktop in front of him, offering a summary of the different subdivisions into which the animal kingdom was divided. It wasn't something that he wanted to know at the moment, so he ignored it.

Tick. Eleven minutes. The room was large, with forty desks in a rigid five by eight arrangement, about half of them empty. Muted conversations buzzed all around. The students weren't supposed to be talking, but the teacher at the front desk seemed more interested in the pile of papers he was grading than what the kids was doing.

Tick. Ten minutes. Study hall was boring. He wanted to be in gym class like he'd been every day before at this time. But that was when he'd been Ranma. 'Ranko,' on the other hand, couldn't take boys' gym for obvious reasons — and Akane didn't want him in girls' gym for reasons which were also obvious. So she'd wished him up a medical excuse, and here he sat.

Nine and a half minutes. Ranma leaned over slightly to eavesdrop on the conversation going on next to him. It had to be more interesting than the classification of animals into phyla.

"... I don't think they'll pick my play. Mr. Mokusei didn't seem to like it much."


"Yeah. He said that my attempts at emotional drama were forced and phony. That the characters were cardboard, acting with no believable motivations for any of the things they did just to make the story go where I wanted it to go."

"Dang, that sucks. Stupid teachers, always looking at little nitpicky things."

"I know. I mean, I put in plenty of titty jokes. How can you not have great drama when you've got titty jokes? I wish he'd change his mind and pick my play for the club to do."

Aaaaargh. Ranma stood, resisting the urge to smack the guy around a little. "Excuse me," he said to the teacher. "Could I go to the bathroom?"

The teacher nodded.

Ranma slipped out of the room and down the hallway, headed for the maintenance room that Akane had showed him last week. He had to undo that idiot's wish, and with her still in gym class, the only thing to do was to switch forms and change back again. To do that he needed hot water; fortunately, he'd memorized how to get to the room where they kept it.

Reaching the room in question, Ranma heard the voices of teachers gabbing.

"You've got Tanaka in your class this year?"

"Uh huh. He hasn't been too bad so far, though. Not compared to Hakano, anyway. Say, any tea left?"

"I'll put on a fresh pot. Hey, if you think Tanaka is bad, you should've seen his brother four years ago. Now there was a piece of work."

Ranma pondered for a moment. He certainly couldn't just walk in and change in front of them. What to do....

"Oh, hello, sir!" he called out loudly. "Back from your sabbatical already, Mr. Principal?"

The teachers filed quickly out of the room.

"I didn't notice how late it was."

"Yes, I've got grading to finish!"

"There just aren't enough hours in the day!"

Ranma stepped into the emptied room. Even after being at Furinkan for a little over a week, he'd heard stories about how crazy the Principal was. He hoped he'd never have to deal with the guy.

A voice sputtered over the school PA system. "Attention, students."

Uh oh, Ranma thought. Better hurry. A teapot lay on the burner. He felt it to test its temperature; it was just hot enough.

"The drama committee has made its decision. We received many quality submissions, and we thank everyone who entered. This semester, our choice will be 'Offspring of....'"

Ranma lifted the pot. Its contents borbled down onto his head, and he transformed back to normal.

"... oops. Sorry about that. Our choice will be 'A Genie's Love,' by Akane Tendo. Casting will begin immediately in room 1-C. Have a nice day!"

Breathing a slight sigh of relief, Ranma went over to the sink to splash himself with room temperature water. Female once more, he strode back down the hall towards the room where the auditions were going on.

Yuka smiled at him as he entered the room. "Hi, Ranko! You're auditioning for the genie too?"

"Yeah. How'd you know that?"

She giggled a bit, pointing with her eyes to the clothes he wore. "You didn't have to come dressed up, you know. It's an audition, not a dress rehearsal."

"Oh. Oh yeah." He sighed. He'd been so worked up about everything else that he hadn't even thought of that. Looking around the room, he noticed several of his classmates staring, and not at his face. Perverts.

"Hello!" A short, balding adult shook Ranma's hand. "I'm Mr. Mokusei, the drama coach. Your name is?"

"Ranko," Ranma answered.

"Say, I really like your costume. It's just perfect for the play we're doing. Where did you get it?"

"In China," was all he could think to say.

"Well, as I say, it's just perfect. I'll speak to our costume people. The genie in our play will simply have to be wearing something just like this." He shook Ranma's hand again. "Nice meeting you, and good luck with your audition."

Ranma couldn't even manage to feel disappointed at the fact that he'd have to wear his usual costume in the play. With his luck, it was bound to happen.

"Good luck with your audition," Yuka repeated. "I'd better go and do mine now. I'm going to beat you." She flashed a devilish smile.

"Heh." Ranma patted her on the shoulder. "Good luck to you, too." You'll need it, kiddo. When Ranma Saotome sets out to win something, he wins it, even if it's this acting junk. Besides, you don't have the incentive I do. Your mom isn't gonna kill you if she sees you dressed up like this without the play as an excuse.

Thoughts cascaded through his mind, each one leading into the next like dominoes. Yuka's mom. Yuka's mom who didn't have cancer. Cancer that Akane made a cure for with her wish. Her wish that needed Ranma to stay in his cursed form. The cursed form that he'd just been out of.

"Aw, crap!" he said.

Yuka stared at him. "Ranko?"

"Um, nothin'." He wondered if there was any way to get her to wish that the doctor could cure cancer again. Nothing came to mind. Think, dammit, think, he told himself. He had to come up with something before it was...

"Oh, hello, Akane!"

...too late.

"Hi, Yuka." She looked at Ranma. "Ranm— Ranko?"

He eyed her cautiously. "Yeah, what?"

"Why are you in costume?"

"Well duh, Akane. It's a play, y'know?"

She lurched forward, then slumped back, as if too exhausted to hit him. "Actually, it's an audition," she said, lowering her voice as Yuka stepped away. "Okay, you're dressed this way, and I'm tired again... you must've changed to male form, then back again. So what's the big deal?"

"What's the big deal?! I screwed up the cancer cure, that's what." Oh, good one, Saotome. You were supposed to not tell her.

"Oh, that." She rubbed her eyes. "Ranma, I never expected that to work in the first place."

"Thanks a lot," he grumbled, looking down at the floor. Why should he care anyway? He'd never asked for the power to grant wishes. A martial artist was what he wanted to be, not a genie.

"Look, we don't know for sure what happened," Akane said almost apologetically. "Let's go to Tofu's and find out. We can be back in time for your audition."

Ranma nodded. It couldn't hurt to check, though part of him didn't want to know.

Akane looked around the room. "Okay, no one's watching. I wish we were at Tofu's office."


"Oh, hello, Akane," Tofu said. "How are you today? Any new injuries?"

"Er, no, Doctor," Akane answered, a bit embarrassed. "This is, um, my cousin Ranko." With hindsight she decided it might have been a good idea to wish Ranma into some different clothes. "She's dressed for a school play. We just stopped by to say hello on the way to her audition."

"Nice to meet you, Ranko." Tofu smiled. "Good luck with your play."

"Doctor, um, have you...." Akane fumbled for a way to ask what she wanted to without giving away Ranma's secret. "Has anything unusual happened here in the past day or so?" That wasn't it.

"I don't think so, Akane. What sort of thing do you mean?"

"Something like you finding a cure for cancer all the sudden," Ranma said. "Uh, just to take one example."

"No, but it's funny you should mention that." The doctor paused thoughtfully. "I did receive a message from a friend of mine at Byoki Hospital having to do with some cancer patients of his."

"Really? What'd it say?"

"Here. I'll show you." Tofu stepped over to a desk upon which a computer monitor sat. "He sent me a followup a little while ago." He manipulated his mouse, and test spilled onto the screen. Ranma and Akane read.

Subject: Re: Unexplained spontaneous remissions

After further investigation, we still don't understand how it happened, but we think we've traced the source. It appears that some unidentified enzyme contaminant was present in some fried bean curd that each of the patients in question had for lunch today. Our biochemists are analyzing it now; if they can duplicate it, it could be the breakthrough of the century, but I'm not holding my breath.

I'm not a religious man, but 'gift from the gods' seems about the most plausible explanation to me right now. You've had a lot more experience with the paranormal than I have; if you could shed any light on what may have happened here, please do.

Best regards,

"Bean curd?!" Ranma's eyes bulged. "Akane, you idiot!"

"Me?! You're the idiot! You knew what I meant!"

"Don't you get it? It's what you say that counts!"

Remembering that Tofu was still listening, they suddenly fell quiet. "Anything I can help with?" the doctor asked.

"Oh, no, Doctor," Akane said. "We just, er...."

"We lost a bet," Ranma finished for her. "We said that it was going to be raw beans."

"We'd better be going." Akane took Ranma by the arm as Tofu stared at him dubiously. "Goodbye, Doctor!"


Another wish, and Ranma and Akane were back in the hallway at school. Most everyone had left, and the only sound was the voices coming from the drama club's room.

"Go ahead and say it, Akane," Ranma said bitterly. "I screwed up."

"What do you mean, screwed up? Okay, it didn't happen the way I'd wanted it to, but you still managed to cure those people. You should be happy about that." It was certainly more than Akane had expected.

"Yeah, but those enzy-whaddayacallits disappeared when I went back to normal."

"Be happy that it worked for a little while." Akane smirked. "When a pig flies, you don't blame it for not staying up very long." She'd heard someone say that before, though the original was a donkey instead of a pig.

Ranma was not amused. "I ain't no pig, Akane."

We can fix that, Akane almost said, but that was meaner than she wanted to be at the moment.

"Now those doctors won't be able to figure out exactly what they were and how they worked." He sighed. "And they're gonna be spending all their time looking at bean curd for the answer, which ain't gonna help, 'cause it ain't there."

"Ranma, you can be such an egotistical jerk sometimes," Akane said. "When you fight, do you expect to always win?"

"Hell yeah," he answered, determination solidifying in his voice. "I'm the best there is. There ain't nobody I can't beat." If he was trying to convince her that he wasn't egotistical, it didn't work.

"On the first try?"

"Well... not always," he admitted. "But next time, I will win. I'm gonna beat this cancer thing."

"Maybe you will." She smiled. "But next time, let's do it when nothing else is going on, all right?" Though whether there ever would be such a time seemed doubtful.

"Ranko?" Mr. Mokusei poked his head out the classroom door. "Time for your audition."

Ranma strode into the room. Akane followed behind him and sat at a desk in the back of the audience, feeling a little guilty. Not about having pushed him into doing the play — that he needed to do to keep his mother from killing him — but little by little, she was pushing him into another role. Ranma Burin. The temptation for her to use his powers to help people was almost irresistible. But what right did she have to do that when it meant forcing him into a body that he didn't want?

"Ready, Ranko?" Mokusei pointed to a page on Ranma's copy of the script. "Just start from here."

And what about you, Akane Tendo? Yes, she didn't need to change genders the way that Ranma did. But little by little, she was being forced into an engagement that she hadn't asked for, with a boy completely different from the type she'd always dreamed of ending up with. She respected Ranma a little bit more after today, but she still didn't want to marry him. Was that the price she would have to pay for access to his power?

In her mind, she pictured the flying pig character again, but it's face wasn't Ranma's; and somehow, it didn't seem funny this time.

"I am your genie," Ranma said. His voice was soft and innocent, exactly the way Akane had imagined the character. "What is your wish, master?"

Akane sighed quietly. There were no answers, no way to steer her life away from the spiral path it seemed determined to follow, and she was too tired to think about it. At least they'd proved one thing — that Ranma wasn't completely incompetent. From the report Tofu had gotten, his power had managed to cure several people, and that was just at the one hospital. Maybe he wasn't a joke after all.

"Good, good." Mokusei looked down at his script. "Now I say 'I wish you'd go away and leave me alone,' and you say... Ranko? Ranko, where are you going?"

Ranma's footsteps echoed down the empty halls of the school.

Akane's head slumped down onto the desktop. Something about auditions closing was the last she heard before sleep took her.



This was a difficult chapter to write; it went through several different incarnations before I settled on a final form. Yuka's mom really did have cancer in the first version; Ranma's misunderstanding persisted through the whole fic in the second, and in the third, Akane's wish really did give Dr. Tofu a cure for cancer, but it was such a goofy procedure that no one would let him try it out. I'm not sure how well the final product works. I tried to integrate this series usual comedy with some serious elements, and I might've fallen on my face. You tell me.

Thanks to Megane 6.7 and Kyle Emmerson for looking over work-in-progress versions of this story and giving me their comments.

I'll probably do one more episode in this series, and then put it aside for a while to get back to my other projects. I invite submissions from other writers for this series; if you're interested in guest-writing a chapter, contact me with your story ideas. Thanks for reading, and as always, I'd like to know what you thought.