On Thursday, Ranma was introduced to a weekly tradition at the Tendo household.

"Leftover night?"

"That's right, Ranma." Nabiki crossed the Tendo living room, sliding down onto the floor next to him. "Every other Thursday, Kasumi takes the night off and goes out, leaving the rest of us to fend for ourselves."

Ranma set down the Giant Killer Robots of Death manga he had been reading. "Really? Where's she go?"

"We don't know." Her smirk told him that he'd just won the Stupidest Question Of The Week award. "She always leaves plenty of food, so no one will starve." She set a glass of water on the floor between them. "Lucky for me, though, I'll be dining out tonight, thanks to a certain genie who owes me a favor."

Sighing, he picked up the glass and poured it over himself. "All right, wish away."

Nabiki crossed her legs together, swiveling around to face him. "Yesterday, I sent off a letter to a certain young man. You may know the type: very rich, very handsome, very full of himself."


"Kuno-chan only wishes he had this kind of money." She chuckled. "But as for me, I wish for my letter to find its way to its intended recipient, without being intercepted by the servants that screen his mail."

"Servants screen his mail?"

"Oh, yes. Hired by his father." Her expression became serious, almost intense. "It's a tough world out there, Ranma. Loving parents have to protect their son from unscrupulous gold-diggers."

"I don't get it," he said. "Why bother going out to dinner with him? Why not just wish for him to give you money?"

"You probably wouldn't understand, Ranma." She smiled enigmatically, as if to say, I'm a puzzle; you'll never figure me out.

"Geez, just askin'." He stood up. There really wasn't any need to stay; the wish would work just as well with him upstairs.

"Wait, Ranma," she said. He turned. She gazed up at him, her eyes full of a sympathy that he didn't believe for a second. "Maybe I am being a little unfair to you. Tell you what: I'll give you a little something to make up for it."

"Really? What?"

"I wish you had a martial arts trophy."

A statuette appeared in his hands, a gi-wearing man of metal, standing atop a wooden base. "Huh? What's this for?"

"It's for you, Ranma! Isn't this why you go through all that trouble to find new and better ways of beating people up? So that you can get things like this?"

"But... it's not mine!"

"Sure it is! I'm giving it to you. It's a freebie, even. You don't owe me anything for it."

"But I didn't defeat anybody for it!"

"You sure you don't want it?"

Ranma nodded.

"Oh well. You had your chance! I wish it was gone." She tapped the trophy with her finger, and it popped out of existence like a punctured balloon.

Ranma picked up his manga and tried to remember what page he'd been on. No matter how hard he tried, there were some people he'd never understand.


"Is your foot well enough for you to walk home?"

Akane turned. Dr. Tofu stood in front of his clinic, the stone overhang above shielding his head from the late afternoon sun. "Oh, I'm fine." She smiled. "It doesn't hurt at all anymore, thanks to you, Doctor."

"All right." He waved. "Take care, Akane."

Sighing, she walked on down the road. She wasn't in the mood for going home and eating leftovers; a bowl of noodles at one of the local diners by herself seemed more appealing. Maybe she would just walk for a while, and see where she ended up.

Her foot stung a little as it hit the ground, the sensation increasing with each step. Okay, so she had lied when she'd said it didn't hurt anymore. But it was fairly minor — at least compared to the other pain she felt. The one that came when she thought about Dr. Tofu, and Kasumi, and herself. A chronic ailment, it flared up when she watched Tofu go into fits around Kasumi, knowing that little Akane Tendo would never, ever be able to inspire the same reaction from him.

What good would telling the truth do? Yes, Doctor, I'm afraid this patient seems to be suffering from acute lovesickness, coupled with terminal stupidity. A psychomatic illness, really. The only cure was for her to simply to accept the truth — that Doctor Tofu loved her sister, not her. No matter what she did, she'd never see him go crazy for her the way he did for Kasumi.

Of course, that wasn't quite true. There were no 'nevers,' not as long as the Tendos had their own resident genie. Akane's mind reeled at the thought. Tofu could be utterly and hopelessly devoted to her, to the point of worshipping the ground on which she walked. Just a few words to Ranma's cursed form was all it would take.

The sidewalk along which Akane was walking came to an end as she reached Shogyo Street. She turned right, and houses and trees gave way to rows of shops. Appalled at her own thoughts, Akane stared sheepishly at the passers-by, almost expecting them to chastise her. How could she even think of using a wish to control Tofu?

Never mind that Ranma was such an idiot that he'd inevitably screw up any wish she made. Never mind that she'd be stealing from her sister — the sister who probably probably deserved it less than any other person in the world. Using magic to make someone love you was just wrong. And what would be the point anyway? He wouldn't really love her — the magic would only make him think he did.

Still, part of her refused to completely let go of the idea. Okay, so a lifetime together with Tofu as husband and wife was just out. Genie or no genie, that wasn't going to happen. But she could, just once, get him to act around her the way he did in Kasumi's presence. Maybe if, just once, she were to hear his voice stutter and see his eyes glaze over and his fingers uncontrollably shred whatever he happened to be holding and know that it was because of her, it would relieve some of the pain she felt.

Maybe. Maybe not. The idea of using Ranma's powers for this was frightening, not only because of all the ways in which it could go wrong, but because of the limitless possibilities if the magic could be made to work right.

She could do it. The only problem, really, was that Ranma would know what she had done. He'd never let her live it down. Just the thought of how he'd tease her about it made her cringe. And she'd deserve it.

Then it occurred to her; Ranma wouldn't have to know anything. She could do it in a way so that he'd never find out.

It was wrong. That was the bottom line, the only consideration that mattered.

And yet, as she passed by a row of phone kiosks, she found herself walking toward one of them....


"Oh my gods. You're really here. On the phone, I mean. You really got my letter. I mean, this is just too cool. I can't believe I'm really talking to you!"

Ranma had to marvel at Nabiki's acting ability. Her voice shrieked and squeaked as if there were nothing between her ears; but her eyes, glancing warily at him like a predator, told the truth. Or at least what he thought was the truth.

"You're kidding. Oh my gods. You want to take me out to dinner? Me? Tonight? Oh my gods, I think my heart just stopped. You really mean it?"

Her mouth curved into a malicious, triumphant smile as she listened to the telephone. Ranma considered going upstairs and changing back; Nabiki had gotten what she'd wanted from him.

"I'm not sure. I'll check. Hold on a minute, 'kay?" She cupped a hand over the receiver and switched back to her normal mannerisms. "Hey, 'Ranko.' How would you feel about a double date?"

"Um... I dunno. What's it mean? Two dinners in one night, or something?" That didn't sound too bad.

"Nope. It means two men going out with two women on the same date. In this case, the two men are my little patsy and a schoolmate of his to whom he apparently owes a favor."

"And you want me to be... HEY! I ain't a woman!" Ranma said. Nabiki continued to stare at him stone-faced. "Forget it. I ain't dating with a guy." Not by choice, anyway. He had dated with Kuno, but Kuno had wished for it and there was no way out of it.

"Ranma, it doesn't bother me if you'd rather stay here and warm up leftovers for dinner. But I really can't see what your problem is. It's not as if we'll be doing anything... distasteful... with these gentlemen. We'll simply let them buy us expensive dinners, plus whatever else we can squeeze out of them, after which we'll break their hearts."

"I ain't no con artist, like some people." While Ranma didn't particularly care about these guys, whoever they were, he had nothing against them, either.

"Ranma, Ranma, Ranma. Think of all the poor, innocent little girls that these boys have taken advantage of. This is not maliciousness for the sake of fun. This is just retribution. This is an evening of the scales."

"It is?"

"Yes, it is. And it's also free food."

"Well, when you put it that way...." Ranma had to admit that the thought of a big dinner at a really good restaurant appealed to him. What could it hurt? How much trouble could this guy be anyhow? "Okay, I'll go."

Nabiki nodded, and took her hand off the phone. "My cousin Ranko will be happy to go with us," she said, returning to her airhead schoolgirl voice. "Oh, I'm so excited! See you soon, Mr. Mendo."

She hung up the phone and ran her eyes across Ranma.

"Right. Obviously, you can't go in your genie outfit." She looked thoughtful for a moment. "There was a dress I was looking at yesterday, two o'clock, at the store. I wish you were wearing a copy of that dress, sized to fit you exactly."

Ranma looked down at himself. A Chinese-style dress had replaced his usual costume. Glossy red with yellow trim, it hugged his feminine curves tightly, opening up below in leg-revealing slits on both sides.

"That's better," Nabiki said. Ranma tried to quell his embarrassment with thoughts of how good that food was going to taste. "Now, I've got to go up and change my own clothes before they get here."

The phone rang.

Nabiki picked up the receiver. "Hello?" She paused to listen. "Yes, he is." Her head turned towards Ranma. "Yes, he is. Want to talk to him?" She held the reciever out toward him. "It's Akane."

"Hello?" Ranma said into the phone.

"Ranma, there's something written on a piece of paper in front of me." Her voice sounded a little sheepish. "I wish it would happen the way it says."

"Huh? What's goin' on, Akane?"

"Noth—" She cleared her throat. "Nothing." Her voice sounded unusual in a way that Ranma couldn't place. Then the dial tone buzzed in his ear. "Geez, don't say bye or nothin'."

"What was that all about?" Nabiki asked idly.

Ranma shrugged. "No idea."


Hanging up the pay phone, Akane glanced at the reflection in the shiny metal panel by the coin return. The wish had worked. For the next two hours, this was what she'd look like.

Her heart thundered in her chest. She couldn't believe she'd actually done it. There was only one thing to say now.

"Oh my!"


Muted conversations rumbled through the restaurant. With eyes downcast, waiters in white jackets and black bowties pushed carts carrying domed trays. Nabiki and Mendo sat on one side of the table, with Ranma and Mendo's friend on the other.

Ranma was having second thoughts about the whole thing.

It wasn't the dress that bothered him. The first few times he'd worn girls' clothes, they made him feel like throwing up; but now he didn't mind at all. Now, he was able to think of "Ranko" as a different person. Ranko was wearing the dress. Not him. And there was nothing wrong with her doing that, because after all, Ranko was a girl.

No, the dress didn't worry him. But his date — what was his name again? — was another matter.

"So, tell me about yourself." Mendo's friend smiled slyly at Ranma. "Do you have any hobbies? What are your measurements?"

Mendo raised an eyebrow. "Must you be so crude, Moroboshi? You treat fine delicacies as if they were instant ramen. Women like Nabiki and Ranko should be admired as works of art."

"I like instant ramen," Moroboshi grumbled.

"What a way with words you have, Mr. Mendo." Nabiki glanced into the menu, and her eyes widened. "Ooh! Look at the wines they have. I've always wanted to try some of these!" She looked up at Mendo.

"Order any of them that you wish, my dear." Mendo ran a comb through his already immaculate hair. "Your enjoyment will be far more valuable than the cost."

Warning bells began to ring in Ranma's head. Nabiki was trying to con Mendo into buying things for her. That meant that he had to put up with Moroboshi, at least a little. Otherwise he'd blow the date for both of them; and Nabiki could very easily make his life miserable in return.

"Um, anyway, you asked about my hobbies?" Ranma, forcing a smile onto his face, said to Moroboshi. "I do martial arts. Y'know, combat and stuff."

"The physical type, eh?" Moroboshi slid his chair close to Ranma's. "I admire that in a girl." His hand began to inch toward Ranma's breasts.

Ranma's foot lashed quickly out, sweeping Moroboshi's chair out from under him. His back slammed into the ground with a thud that did nothing to diminish the silly grin on his face.

"Oh, I'm so sorry!" Ranma said with mock sincerity. "My martial self-defense training makes me automatically throttle any boy who gets too near me. I can't do anything about it."

Moroboshi sat up, his expression suddenly sympathetic. "You mean you have to do that every time? Even with a guy you really like?"

Ranma nodded, laughing silently. Now Moroboshi would have to stop groping him, and he'd be able to eat in peace.

"That's horrible!" Moroboshi's face flared with determination. "As a gentleman, it is my duty to help you overcome this problem."

"Huh?" Ranma blinked. "How?"

Moroboshi sprang forward and wrapped his arm around Ranma's waist. "By letting you get used to it!" Ranma's fists began pounding on him, but he held on with an iron grip.


Akane knocked on the door.

Maybe no one was home. Maybe Tofu was out, and no one would answer her knock, and she could just leave. She'd go for a quick dinner at some out-of-the-way cafe where no one would recognize her. The two hour time limit she'd put on the wish would run out. She'd go back to normal before anyone saw her and word got back to the real Kasumi that she was somewhere tonight where she wasn't and she put two and two together and realized what a rotten thing her little sister had been doing.

The door opened. Akane found herself staring directly at her — or rather, Kasumi's — reflected image in Tofu's glasses.

"H-hi," she stammered. On the way over, she'd come up with a whole slew of cover stories to explain why Kasumi was visiting Tofu; but they'd all vanished from her mind the moment he'd opened the door. "H-hello, Doctor."

"Hi, Kasumi." Tofu moved to the side, clearing the way for her to enter. "Come on in." He didn't seem the least bit surprised to be seeing her. Why wasn't he going into one of his fits? Did he know? Could he tell by looking at her, by some inner sense, that she wasn't the real Kasumi?

Akane beamed as Kasumi-like a smile as she could manage as she stepped inside. Tofu closed the door behind her. A flight of stairs stood just inside the doorway; Akane walked up them and into the apartment that was the second floor of the doctor's clinic. The apartment was quite small, with a low central table the only item of furniture. Cabinets lined one of the walls, and bookshelves another. A sink and kitchenette occupied one corner. A closed door stood near the entrance.

Somewhat nervous, Akane waited as Tofu climbed up the stairs. She had to get out, but she couldn't simply leave now — not without giving him a reason for why she was there in the first place. She'd ask to borrow something, perhaps a book; then she could return it as herself the next day and say that Kasumi asked her to.

A knock echoed from below. "Huh?" Tofu said. "I wonder who that could be. Excuse me for a moment, Kasumi." He turned and descended the stairs. Curious, Akane leaned over and peered down.

The door opened. Hearing a familiar voice, Akane immediately pulled open the nearby door and ducked into the other room.


"Kasumi?! How— What—"

"Hello, doctor." She smiled warmly at him. "May I come in?"

"But— but you're already in!" Tofu blinked his eyes several times, then stared at the person in front of him. It was Kasumi. Kasumi was down here, with him. But how could she be, when she was just upstairs?

Kasumi giggled, as if Tofu had made a joke. Suddenly noticing that he was standing in her way, he jerked aside to let her pass. She stepped across the threshhold, shutting the door behind her, and began walking up the stairs. Tofu quickly glanced out the window, half expecting to see Kasumi outside, and then followed her up.

"Kasumi... you didn't come up here earlier, did you? A few minutes ago?"

"Of course not, doctor." She looked quizically at him for a moment, then giggled a bit. "I'll get started on the cooking. Why don't you go get changed for dinner and then relax for a while?"

Tofu nodded. He was still wearing his work clothes; after finishing the day at work, he had taken a nap in them, and not woken up until Kasumi came to the door. Came to the door the first time, that is.

Unsure of what he expected to see, he opened the bedroom door a little hesitantly. The room looked the same as it always had. His bed was still unmade from the after-work snooze he had taken. Sounds from the kitchen penetrated the walls, the rapid-fire slamming of knife into cutting board.

Tofu slapped himself on the forehead. Of course. It was so simple. When Kasumi had knocked on the door, he was still half-asleep from his nap. So, obviously, he'd dreamed about walking downstairs and letting her in before her second knock woke him up and he actually did it. He exhaled a long, relieved breath. Kasumi wasn't teleporting around, and he wasn't going crazy.

He opened the closet door to fetch a change of clothes. From inside, Kasumi looked up at him, smiling thinly.

Carefully, Tofu slid the door closed. He paused for a few seconds.



"Thank you, sirs, madams." The waiter collected the menus, tucking them neatly inside the crook of his arm. "I'll be right back with your hors d'oeuvres."

A lump throbbed painfully on the back of Ataru Moroboshi's skull. Ranko sure was... spirited. Ataru admired that in a girl. He only wished she could use her energy in a way that was less... painful.

On the other hand... could it be, he wondered, that the martial arts thing was just a lie, an excuse for her to fend off his advances? Could it be that she simply didn't like him?

Naaaah. Of course it couldn't. How did such a silly thought get into his head? It was probably Lum, sending him messages from space. Fortunately, she wouldn't be back to Earth for another couple of weeks.

Still... maybe it would be better to take it a little slower, Ranko was obviously a shy, delicate flower of a girl. Being too forward might scare her off. Better to talk to her, say some really smooth things.

"So," Ataru said, "do you have any hobbies? Come here often? What do you want to do after high school? What's your favorite color? What do you do for fun?"

"Um... martial arts, no, martial arts, dunno, and martial arts," Ranko answered.

Mendo smirked derisively. "Your conversational skills are as finely-honed as ever, Moroboshi."

"Easy for you to say," Ataru grumbled. "The babes go after you just because you're so rich. I wish I had... mmmbgph!"

A facefull of Ranko's hair cut off Ataru's words. Her head nuzzled up against his face. Her arms tightly hugged his chest. Finally, she'd gotten over her inhibitions. What a brilliant idea it was to talk to her!

"Your appetizers, sir. Sir. Madam. Madam." The waiter set four plates on the table as Ranko slipped quietly back to her own seat.

Ataru leapt over, grabbing for her chest. "Oh, Ranko!"

"AAAA!" Ranko picked up a plate and smashed it forcefully over Ataru's head. The room spun a little around Ataru as he fell to the floor.

Yep, he thought as he dragged himself up. Definitely spirited.


Cramped inside the dark closet, Akane listened as voices resonated through the walls.

"Doctor, don't be silly." A suppresed giggle. "I'm not in your bedroom; I'm out here."

"But... but you're in there, too! In the closet! I saw you!"

"Of course I'm not in your closet, Doctor." Footsteps. "Here, I'll show you."

Akane's stomach trembled. She had hidden in the closet, hoping that the doctor wouldn't open it. But now Kasumi would see her. Knowing what Ranma's powers could do, she would inevitably put two and two together. And there was no way to get out in time.

Closing her eyes, Akane screamed a silent cry for help, though she had no idea who she expected to hear it. I'll never do anything like this again. Please, please, get me out of here before my sister finds out what a rotten thing I tried to do.

A crack of light appeared as the door began to slide open.


"So, Ranko, uh... what are your measurements?" Moroboshi asked.

"I'm a hundred and seventy centimeters tall." Oops, Ranma thought. That was how tall he was as a guy. Oh well. Hopefully this guy wouldn't think about it.

"What kind of restaurants do you like to go to?"

"Um...." Ranma considered. "Dunno." Were there different kinds of restaurants? He'd thought they were all the same. "I don't go out to eat much."

"Don't the guys at your school take you out on dates?"

Ranma shook his head.

Nabiki looked up from her plate of food. "All the boys in Ranko's class are hung up on my sister Akane," she said, mumbling her words slightly. She took a moment to swallow her food, then continued. "There's none left for poor little Ranko."

"Whoa, really?" Moroboshi's eyes widened, and his mouth dropped open in a way that Ranma found disgusting. "Your sister must be really sexy!"

Nabiki smiled a bit, as if laughing inwardly at some secret joke. Ranma hmphed. There was nothing funny about any of this. And he was a lot sexier than some stupid tomboy.

Moroboshi beamed a crooked smile at Nabiki. "I wish I could meet your sister."

D'oh, Ranma thought. He'd been so cheesed off that he'd stopped paying attention. He looked around the room and saw Kasumi standing behind Moroboshi.

Nabiki turned. "Oh, hello, sis!" She lowered her voice. "Sorry about this. It's Ranma's... you-know what again."

Kasumi blinked a few times as her eyes scanned the restaurant, and she nodded in understanding.

"This is your sister?" Moroboshi spun around in his chair, leering at Kasumi. "I can see why all the boys are...."

"Not the sister I was talking about before, no," Nabiki said, interrupting him. "This is Kasumi, the eldest of the family. Kasumi, this is Shutaro Mendo, and Ataru Moroboshi."

"Charmed, my dear." Mendo bent over to kiss Kasumi's hand. "Clearly, beauty is inherent in the genes of the Tendo family."

"Er... thank you." Kasumi pulled back away from Mendo; her lip curled for the briefest second, as if this guy disgusted even her. "Actually, I just came to speak with Ranko for a moment. Would you all excuse us?"


"You see, doctor? I'm not in the closet."

Tofu slid his clothes from one side of the closet to the other. There was nothing else there. Of course there wasn't; how could there be? But he'd seen her. With his own eyes, he'd seen Kasumi inside the closet. There was only one door, no way she could've gotten out without him seeing it open.

"Doctor...." She took ahold of his hand. "Maybe you should talk with Dr. Senmonka about this?"

"Kasumi, it's... it's not like that!"

She stared at him with wide, attentive eyes. "Like what?"

"Kasumi...." Tofu felt his face fluster. A dull ache pounded at the back of his skull. "I know that I... lose control... when anyone else sees the two of us together. But not when we're alone!"

"Shouldn't you go see the doctor, Doctor? Just to let him know what's happening?"

Tofu forced a smile onto his face. "Kasumi, I'm fine." He was a doctor, not a patient. "Let's have dinner, all right?"


"Sorry about this, Kasumi," Ranma whispered, pointing his thumb back toward the restaurant table. "That idiot over there accidentally made a wish that brought you here."

Akane studied his expression cautiously, searching for any suspicion or recognition. Nothing. As far as he knew, she was Kasumi.

"So..." Ranma said apologetically, "I guess you gotta just wish yourself back to wherever you were before."

"All right. But first...." Akane couldn't resist seeing how far she could go with this. Let's see; how would Kasumi phrase it? "Would you mind if I asked you something, just between you and me?"

"Um, sure, that's all right."

"Ranma, how do you...." Akane swallowed, feeling a nervous lump in her throat. "How do you feel about my sister?"

"Just between you and me?" Ranma paused, sighed, and continued in a near-whisper. "I'd be happy if I never had to have anything to do with her again."

"Oh." Akane wanted to either cry or break something; she wasn't sure which. Why did it matter? It wasn't like she really cared what a jerk like him thought anyhow.

"I mean, sure she helps me out of trouble, but it's only so I'll let her make wishes. And I ain't forgot about those pics of me she sold to Kuno. And...."

Oh. "Ranma?"


"I meant my other sister."

"Oh yeah. Akane? She's, well... I mean, I...." Ranma blinked several times as his gaze drifted over towards the wall.

He likes me, Akane thought. He really does like me. She wasn't sure whether she should be happy about it or not.

"I guess she's all right. For an uncute tomboy."

"Oh my. Ranma, you'd better not let Akane hear you call her that."

"Heh." Ranma smirked like a child who had just gotten away with being naughty.

"Because if she heard you, she'd probably say something like 'I wish a frying pan would appear and strike you forcefully over the head.'"

A loud clang resounded through the restaurant.


"Oh dear." Kasumi covered her mouth with her hand. "Are you all right, Ranma?"

Ranma staggered to his feet. "No broplem!" The room started spinning counter-clockwise around him. "Pro noblem!"

And he fell back down again.


A quick wish later, Akane was back in Tofu's bedroom, still somewhat irritated at Ranma. Okay, so fooling him with her Kasumi disguise may have been a dirty thing to do. But why did he have to be so... immature? It was a simple question. Either he liked her, or he didn't. Why couldn't he just stop acting like a jerk and tell her? Then
she could decide how she felt about him.

Voices carried through the walls. "Is the food all right, Doctor?"

"It's excellent, Kasumi. You've really outdone yourself."

Out of the frying pan, into... the frying pan. She still needed to get out of Tofu's apartment before the time limit that she'd attached to her wish expired. Maybe she could sneak out the door quickly enough that Tofu and Kasumi wouldn't notice — but if it wasn't the right moment, then she'd be caught. Tofu by himself she might be able to bluff her way past; but Kasumi knew what Ranma's powers could do, and would either figure it out or tell someone else who would. No, better to wait.

Maybe she should've just wished herself home, or at least outside. But what would happen when Ranma went back to male form? She wasn't quite sure how that worked. Popping back into Tofu's bedroom in the middle of the night would be just a little difficult to explain, especially when she wouldn't be disguised.

Some genie you are, Ranma, she thought to herself. Here I go and make a wish, and it brings nothing but trouble. A tiny voice inside her told her that from all the legends, wishes leading to nothing but trouble was pretty normal for genies; she did her best to ignore it.

"Doctor, are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Kasumi. Really, I am. Just a little headache. I think I'll go take some aspirin."

Akane's eyes fell across Tofu's dresser, and she noticed the half-empty bottle of aspirin atop it.



Tofu began to push open the bedroom door, then hesitated. His head hurt, as if a vice were clamped to his temples, being twisted ever tighter by the minute. An aspirin. That was what he needed. Just a couple aspirin, and a little water, and it would be all right.

Dishes squeaked behind him as Kasumi scrubbed and dried them with lightning efficiency. For a moment, he wondered if she might be right. Perhaps seeing a specialist would be a good idea. Perhaps there were reasons beyond simple nervousness for his... erratic behavior whenever someone else saw him together with Kasumi.

No, of course not. As he'd told himself many times, there were doctors in this world, and there were patients. Tofu had made up his mind long ago to be a Doctor. Doctors didn't get sick; they helped sick people get well.

After all, there were logical explanations for what he'd seen — or rather, what he'd thought he'd seen. The power of suggestion. He'd had Kasumi on the brain already. Looking into a shadowy closet, it was no wonder that his mind registered her as it had looked at whatever was really in there.

His headache pain beginning to subside to tolerable levels, he pushed his way into the bedroom. No, he certainly wasn't hallucinating. It was silly of him to worry about it.

A hand holding a bottle of pills greeted him. "Here's your aspirin, Doctor."

"Ah, thanks, Kasumi." Tofu nodded as he accepted the bottle. He turned around and stepped out, letting the door swing closed behind him. No, he certainly wasn't going to see any... any more....

The bottle slid out of his hands and dropped into the dishwater with a 'ploop.' "Aaiiiieee!" he screamed.


"So, would you go to a movie with me sometime?" Moroboshi asked Ranma. "Especially one where the room is really dark?"

Ranma sighed quietly. Was there anything short of revealing his true gender that would deter this guy?

Hmmm. Maybe there was. It might not work... but it was worth a try, anyhow.

"If I go out with a guy, he has to be faithful to me. You know, give up on everyone else. That's not a problem for you, is it?"

"A problem?"

"Yeah." Ranma beamed a coquettish smile at him. "You're not the kind of guy who would cheat on me, are you?"

Indignation crept into Moroboshi's voice. "You actually think I would be so low as to date other girls behind your back?"

"Er..." Ranma couldn't come up with a response.

"Of course not. I," Moroboshi proudly proclaimed, "would openly date other girls. That's the kind of guy I am. What nature has blessed me with is a natural resource that should be shared for the benefit of as many as possible."

"Is there not an ounce of respect within you, Moroboshi?" Mendo's expression showed disapproval, but also perhaps a touch of jealousy; as if to say people like you who think they're the gods' gift to women are annoying to those of us who really are.

"Mr. Mendo?!" Nabiki gaped with a horrific expression that was sure to win her Best Actress of the Year. "What kind of boy is this that you've exposed my poor little cousin to?"

"Fear not, my dear." Mendo nonchalantly ran a comb through his hair. "I would never allow this lout's touch to soil one as lovely as dear Ranko."

"Hah. You haven't got anything to say about it. I'm gonna date Ranko." Moroboshi grinned. "And Nabiki!" Nabiki shuddered with a revlusion that somehow seemed genuine to Ranma.

Mendo ignored his classmate and stared directly at Nabiki, smiling confidently. "I can see that this boor's behavior has upset you. After we are finished dining, let us visit Waridaka's department store and search for something to cheer you up."

"Ooooh!" Nabiki's voice squeaked with girlish excitement. "Waridaka's? Really?" So much for genuine, Ranma thought, wondering whether he'd need to ask the waiter for a barf bag.

Moroboshi chuckled evilly. "I wish Nabiki's sister was here. Then I'd date with her, too!"

Behind him, Kasumi popped out of nowhere. Ranma and Nabiki sighed in unison.


"What did you want me to see, Doctor? It looks like there's nothing in here."

"Exactly, Kasumi. There's nothing here! If you were in here while you were out there, that might mean that I'm hallucinating. But you aren't! And this proves it!"

"Doctor... maybe you ought to get some rest?"


Leaning over, Nabiki whispered in Ranma's ear. "I wish Kasumi was right back where she was a minute ago."

Ranma looked back at where Kasumi had appeared, and did a double-take. She was still there.

Nabiki blinked in surprise. "Did you blow a fuse or something?" she breathed irately.

"Heck if I know," Ranma whispered back. "It's always worked before." Of course, he had no idea how or why it worked, or what kind of things might make it stop working.

"Look." Nabiki spoke in the short, clipped tones of someone who was dealing with an idiot. "See that person? The one over there?" She pointed at Kasumi. "I wish for you to put her right back where she was before you teleported her here."

Kasumi vanished. Ranma and Nabiki both breathed audible sighs of relief. And Ranma began to wonder....


The sales clerks at Waridaka's followed the four teenagers as they strolled through the store. Ranma tagged along, not particularly interested in any of the merchandise. He had other things on his mind.

"Oh wow!" Nabiki's eyes widened as she stared at a piece of jewelry in a glass case. "That is so cute!"

Mendo nodded almost unnoticeably at one of the clerks, who took out a key and opened the case.

"For me?" Nabiki gasped in amazement. Ranma had to admit that he'd been wrong about her; she definitely deserved Best Actress Of All Time. This was the last time he would play her game. Next time he got into trouble, he'd get out of it without doing business with her.

"Hi, I'm Ataru," Moroboshi said to the clerk. "What time do you get off work?" She ignored him. All the clerks seemed to pay attention to Mendo and only Mendo, as if they could instinctively sense that he was the one with the money.

And wheels began to turn in Ranma's head.

He went back over what he knew so far. Fact: Akane had made a wish before dinner, not telling him what it was. Fact: Akane had a crush on Tofu, but Tofu only had eyes for Kasumi. Fact: Two wishes that should've teleported Akane to the restaurant had both brought Kasumi there instead. Fact: A wish to send Kasumi back had failed for no apparent reason, but another — one that hadn't referred to her by name — had worked.

Suddenly, it all made sense. The answer was simple. He resisted the urge to laugh out loud. Clever, Akane. Really clever.

But not clever enough. Ranma made a mental note to stay in cursed form until he was home and had a chance to talk with Akane. After all the crap he'd put up with this evening, finally here was something he was going to enjoy.


"I'd really better go, Doctor. I'll see you next week, all right?"

Watching surreptitiously from the bedroom through the cracked-open doorway, Akane shouted silently at her sister. Go, already! The time limit she'd set on her wish was going to expire... any minute now. According to the digital clock on Tofu's dresser, it was 7:27 PM. She knew that she'd made her wish sometime around five-thrity, but when precisely? "Sometime around" wasn't anywhere near good enough. Why hadn't she checked and remembered the exact time? Idiot!

"Goodbye, Doctor." Kasumi smiled and waved at him. "Sleep well!" She turned, and her footsteps receded down the staircase to the exit.

Tofu stepped over to the refrigerator and opened the door, peering inside as if selecting something to drink. Akane saw her chance, and slowly pushed the door all the way open. Time to get out now, while Tofu wasn't looking. Maybe a better opportunity was coming up, but she couldn't risk waiting for it — not while the magic might change her back to herself anytime. Getting caught in Tofu's place as Akane was something she wouldn't be able to bluff her way out of.

She crept forward as silently as she could manage. She felt disgusted with herself, sickened by everything she'd done. No more. Because of some silly schoolgirl crush on Doctor Tofu, she'd forced her way into his home, then let him think he was going crazy while she hid like a kid trying not to get caught by the teacher. No more. All she had to do was get down the steps and out the door. Then the time limit on the wish would expire, and she could go home.

An inner voice scolded Akane. Next time you use your genie, I expect you to do it in a responsible manner, young lady. When she was a child, teachers used to lecture her like that about fighting. She'd thought that once she was older, no one would talk to her like that anymore. Boy, had she been wrong.

Tofu turned around, holding a pint of milk, and shut the refrigerator door behind him. Akane froze as his eyes met hers.

And she did the only thing she could do.

"Goodbye, Doctor." She smiled and waved at him. "Sleep well!" Turning, she descended the staircase.

Stepping outside, Akane closed the door and walked away. From inside, a scream erupted.

"All right! I'll go see that specialist!"


Ranma staggered through the sliding door into the Tendo home. After an evening of fending off Moroboshi's gropes, it was an incredible relief to get home. It would be even more of a relief to pour hot water over himself, to watch this stupid dress disappear and be back in his regular clothes and body.

But, he noted to himself as he saw who was coming through the door behind him, there was something else to do first. Something that he was looking forward to even more.

"Oh, hi, 'Kasumi,'" he said, emphasizing the name. "How'd your night out go?"

She smiled. "Very well, thank you."

Ranma had to admit that she played the part well; he'd have been fooled if he hadn't figured it out already. "Say, 'Kasumi,' do you know where that black sleeveless shirt of mine is? I mean, being the one who does the laundry, you'd know that, right?"

"Why, yes. It's in tomorrow's wash. Did you need it right away? I could do a load tonight if you do."

Enough was enough. "Did you really think you could fool people with this?"

She stared at him, puzzled. "I'm sorry?"

"You tomboy! How could you for a second think that anyone would fall for...." Ranma felt someone tap him on the shoulder. He glanced over to see who it was. "Oh, hey, Akane. Hang on a sec." He turned back to "Kasumi," who stared at him as if he were a madman. "Let me tell you something. A girl as uncute as you has as much chance of...."

Ranma stared at Kasumi. Then at Akane. Then back at Kasumi. Then back at Akane again.

"Uh oh."

"Ranma!" Mr. Tendo stormed into the room. "How dare you speak to Kasumi like that?" His head began to expand to demonic proportions.

"Er, well, you see, that is...." Ranma tried to think of something to say, and drew a blank.

"Dad, it's my fault!"

All eyes turned. "Akane?"

"I accidentally wished that Ranma would go insult someone else instead of me. Should've known the idiot would pick somebody like Kasumi."

"Ah, that explains it." Mr. Tendo laughed. "Better get some hot water and cancel that wish, eh, son?"

"Good idea. Sorry about this, Mr. Tendo, you, uh, you uncute tomboy."

In the kitchen, a hot kettle already sat on the stove. Akane followed Ranma in.

"Um... thanks for the save, Akane," Ranma said as he lifted the kettle over his head.

"You're welcome," she answered, smiling sweetly. "Say, since you have that arrangement with Nabiki, does this mean you owe me a wish now?"

Ranma sighed.

"Oh, don't worry." She chuckled. "I won't wish for anything bad."