Ranma 1/2 manga fanfiction
by Gary Kleppe

The characters of Ranma 1/2 are the creation of and rightful property of Rumiko Takahashi. They are used here without permission. This story may be freely redistributed, but it should not be altered substantially or used for profit in any way.


It was a Saturday night in Nerima. Ucchan's was empty except for its owner and two customers: a man, and a young boy who was evidently his son.

Kuonji Ukyo leaned back in her chair behind the grill. The diners had been served, and there was nothing left for her to do but wait for them to finish so she could clean up after them.

Not the most fun a girl could have on a Saturday night. But it was what she did. It was who she was. At least it would be, as long as she could keep the business going.

The customer finished eating and handed over his payment. "It was delicious, ma'am. Much better than... that other place." Most of the customers had learned long ago that mentioning the name of the other place around Ukyo was a bad idea. "I wish we could afford to eat here more often, but... damn recession..."

"That's all right, sir." Ukyo gave the man his change with a smile. "I wish I could keep my prices lower, but the cost of supplies keeps going up. Y'all have a good evening!"

"Hey!" The boy pointed at Ukyo. "You're that lady on TV. Ok—"

"Sorry, ma'am." The man interrupted his son with a hand across the mouth. "Son, this isn't her. Just someone who's dressed to look like her."

Ukyo's face suddenly twisted with rage. "I do not look like her. She looks like me. Understand?"

"Yes, ma'am. Goodbye, now." The two customers departed in a hurry.

Ukyo, now quite alone, began cleaning the restaurant as she did every day at this time. She would keep her business going as long as she could, but how long would that be?

To think that she once dreamed that her food would one day be world famous, that people from all over the world would be coming here to taste her cooking. There was no way that that was going to happen now.

"Greetings, Kuonji Ukyo. I have traveled all the way from China to reach this place."

Ukyo turned in the direction of the voice. He was older than before, of course, with features that were a bit rougher. He now had long hair, tied into a narrow ponytail that was barely noticeable. Despite the differences in his appearance, he was immediately recognizable as Kuno Tatewaki.

Ukyo was happy to see a familiar face. "Kuno! Is it really you?"

"Indeed it is, and it gives me great pleasure to meet an old friend."

"Same here. Long time no see! Pull up a chair. I'll do you an okonomiyaki special on the house, while you tell me what you've been up to for the last five years."


Tatewaki pulled up a chair, as his host had suggested.

He told the story of how he had been living with the Amazons for the past five years. They were now in danger of being caught in the middle of a war, and he had been sent to try to recruit help.

"I've got a business to run here," Ukyo said. "Not much of one these days, but if I left there'd be nothing at all to come back to. I'll do whatever I can to help from here, though."

"I am most grateful for whatever assistance you will be able to provide, Kuonji Ukyo." Tatewaki looked at the okonomiyaki chef. Her hair was slightly unkempt, and her clothes looked old, threadbare in spots. Nevertheless, she was obviously in excellent physical condition, with the potential to be an extremely attractive woman.

No. He had pledged himself to Shan Pu. Though she had not yet accepted him fully, neither had she rejected him. Until she did, he could not entertain thoughts of being with other women.


Tatewaki watched as Ukyo cooked. "I shall need to begin by contacting the Tendo Dojo and the Hibiki Farm," Tatewaki said. "From there, we can work on locating others."

Ukyo slid the okonomiyaki from the cooking surface onto Tatewaki's plate. "Eat up. I need to scour the grill, and then we'll see what we can do." Ranma would be at the Dojo. Though they had exchanged letters, Ukyo hadn't spoken directly with him in seven years. What would they have to say to each other now?

Seven years ago, Ucchan's had had all the customers its staff and facilities could handle. It had been a time of simpler worries and problems, though they seemed just as serious at the time...


Hiroshi's jaw dropped. "Konatsu is what?!?"

"A man," Ukyo said plainly. "Since you didn't ask, I thought y'all knew."

"No we didn't!" Daisuke's face turned slightly red. "All this time... no wonder she, er, he wouldn't go out with me!"

"Yeah, no wonder," Hiroshi said sarcastically. "Maybe all of the women you know are really men. That would explain a lot."

"And you do better? Gimme a break!"

Ukyo smiled quietly to herself as she went to the back of her crowded restaurant. Business was especially good today, and she needed some more ingredients from the back room. She knew why Konatsu hadn't disillusioned the boys on his own. They had been coming to Ucchan's to hit on their favorite waitress, and that meant more customers.

Ukyo wasn't a liar, but it wasn't necessarily her responsibility to correct people who had the wrong idea. After all, she had thought for a long time that Ranma would someday marry her. Then last month, there he was taking the vows with Akane. They didn't actually end up married, thanks mostly to Ukyo and others breaking up the wedding. But it hurt her a lot to be betrayed like that.

No, pointing out what gender people were certainly wasn't Ukyo's responsibility.

She picked up a box of flour and a package of noodles, and headed back toward the front. She could hear the door opening and the sound of yet another customer entering.

"Hi there!" she heard Daisuke say. "Would you like to join us?"

"Sure! We'll buy you an okonomiyaki!" Hiroshi added. "What's your name?"

"Tsubasa," came the reply.

Ukyo zipped back into the main area, pointing at Tsubasa. "This is a boy! A boy! Got it?!? What are you doing here, Tsubasa?" He would be chasing some unfortunate woman; the only question was which one.

"Darling Nabiki might be here," Tsubasa replied. "I heard her talking to Ranma today while I was in the trash can."

"That explains the smell of banana peel in your hair." Ukyo was visibly annoyed. "I've told you before, you can't just sit in my restaurant and wait for someone, especially if it's someone who doesn't want to see you. Buy something, or leave."

"I don't have any money. But you won't want me to leave after I tell you what I heard." Tsubasa grinned. "Ranma is coming here to choose you."

"To... choose me?" Ukyo's eyes went wide in disbelief.

"He said it could only be you. The one who's been his friend since childhood. His best friend. So, wanna give me an okonomiyaki on the house?"

Daisuke looked up. "Does this mean that Akane's free?"

Ukyo barely even heard the question. In her mind, she stood inside a tall chapel with ornate stained-glass windows. Ranma gazed lovingly into her eyes, hypnotized by her beauty. In the audience sat Akane and her family, Shampoo, the Kunos, and the rest of Furinkan. Even her father was there, along with the girls from her childhood who had laughed behind her back when Ranma had left her as a child. They weren't laughing now. Everyone smiled, staring intently at the bride and groom, knowing that they were wholly and unquestionably the perfect couple.

Kuonji Ukyo, the minister began. Do you take Saotome Ranma to be your lawfully wedded....

"Oh, yes!" Ukyo's smile beamed brighter than the sun. "I do! I do, I do, I do!"

"Great!" Tsubasa's voice brought her back to reality. "Now, I like them with extra sauce and...."

Ukyo glared at the transvestite. "Tsubasa, do you honestly expect me to believe..."

Then the door opened. Ranma walked in.

Akane followed behind him. As usual, she seemed to be arguing. "You didn't have to keep dodging during that sparring session, Ranma. I can take a hit or two."

"Hey, I know that. You're making progress, y'know, but you got a long way to go."

Akane hmphed. "I'm sick of being the weakest one around. Just once, I would like to win against someone."

"C'mon, Daisuke," Hiroshi stood up. "We don't want to be in the middle of this."

"Tomorrow let's eat at the Otaku Bell. The food sucks, but at least you can tell what gender everyone is." Daisuke followed his friend out.

The two martial artists took adjacent seats at the counter. "Uh, hiya, Ucchan. Two okonomiyaki, please," Ranma said, pulling out a few bills. "I got something I need to talk to you about."

Tsubasa must have been lying, Ukyo thought. It didn't make sense any other way. Why would Akane have come with him? Still, if there was any chance, she had to find out...

"Ran-chan... is it true? Tsubasa says you're here to ask me to... " She couldn't force the words out.

"You know? I hope you don't think it's weird or nothin'..."

"Weird? It's wonderful!! Oh, Ran-chan!! But what about Akane?"

"I think it's a great idea," Akane said. "I'm glad you're taking this whole thing so well, Ukyo. I'm happy that you're willing to be Ranma's best man."

Ukyo glared at Akane, stunned. "Best... man?? Is this some kind of stupid joke?"

"Huh? I thought you said..."

It was suddenly clear. "Damn it, Ran-chan! I spent years working to be the perfect fiancee for you! Then you come along and... and want me to be 'best man'? I'm not any kind of man, Ranma! I'm all woman! How much woman, you'll never know!"

"Ucchan..." he said, "That's not what I meant. I'm just sayin'..." Akane seemed about to explode; Ranma defused her with a hand on the shoulder. "C'mon, let's go. This was a mistake."

"Some best friend," Ukyo muttered under her breath.

"Er...." Tsubasa smiled weakly. "Actually, I made that part up. What he really said was that if he picked you for best man, it might keep you from helping wreck the ceremony again."

"Hey, who asked you?! Stupid jerk!" Ranma shook a fist at the transvestite, then turned back to Ukyo with sympathy in his eyes. "Ucchan, what I mean is... I'm marrying Akane. But you are a friend, for as long as you wanna be. Can't we be friends?"

Ukyo flipped the two okonomiyaki off the grill with her giant spatula, sending them into cardboard carry-out boxes in one quick motion. "You want a friend, Ranma?"

Ranma nodded.

"Then get a dog," Ukyo spat, her voice filled with hurt. "A dog is supposed to be man's best friend, isn't it? Not me. I'm not going to be your pet. I'm worth more than that!"

Ranma took Akane by the hand, leading her toward the door.

"Tsubasa!" Ukyo raised her spatula over the transvestite's head, poised to pound him into the ground like a tent stake. "You knew why they were really coming here!" She was more furious than she could ever remember feeling.

Tsubasa gasped feebly. "You didn't ask!" This enraged Ukyo even more.

Akane intercepted Ukyo's arm. "That's enough!"

"Oh, you're telling me to control my temper?" Ukyo glared contemptuously at Akane. "That's a laugh! Bashed Ranma over the head with that mallet of yours lately?"

"All right, I do lose my temper for no good reason!" Akane's stare met Ukyo's. "I hit! I bash! But at least I don't hit people who can't take it. Tsubasa isn't a fighter! If you want to fight someone, fight me!"

Ukyo paused. She could wipe the floor with Akane. But what would be the point? She tossed the two okonomiyaki boxes to Ranma. "Go." Her voice was flooded by an ocean of pain.

Ranma silently took his fiancee's hand again and headed toward the door, not looking back."You finally won one," he said to her in a barely audible whisper.

"Konatsu, take care of things here. I'm going upstairs. I'm... not feeling well."

"You can count on me, Ukyo-sama," Konatsu said, sympathy in his feminine voice.


Pain. The pain was a weight that crushed down on Ukyo as she lay in her bed, so heavy that she couldn't possibly push it away.

As a child, Ukyo had wanted only two things. To become the best okonomiyaki chef in the world -- which she eventually did -- and to make the man and child who had abandoned her suffer. The man had stolen her father's food cart but refused to take her along as he had promised; and his son had decided that he liked okonomiyaki better than he did her. Her confidence in her femininity was shattered. She took the role of a boy so that she couldn't be hurt again.

Against all odds, she finally caught up with the Saotomes. Ranma managed to charm her with well-chosen words. It had all been his father's fault. He hadn't even known that she was a girl. He thought she was cute. He didn't really like Akane, the engagement to her was also only his father's doing.


From then on, Ukyo wanted nothing more than to become Mrs. Saotome Ranma. She had swallowed the bait; hook, line, and sinker. She cooked food for Ranma and helped him out when he got into trouble, always with a smile. Always playing the "cute fiancee". That was another role in which she performed well. Which was the real Kuonji Ukyo?

When it came down to it, it had all been lies. Ranma wanted her to feed him, but not to love. So she fed exploding okonomiyaki to him and his fiancee at their attempted wedding. Then hope was again dangled in front of her, but that too turned out to be a lie.

Akane won. Ranma had chosen again. He still liked okonomiyaki better than Ukyo.

Ukyo felt exhaustion beginning to overtake her. She had to learn a lesson from all this. Tomorrow she would go back to being a male, and this time no one would ever talk her out of it...

A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. "Ukyo-sama?"

Ukyo called for Konatsu to come in.

Konatsu pulled a chair over toward the bed and sat. "I just wanted to say... if there's anything I can do... I'll always be there for you."

"Damn it, Konatsu..." Ukyo knew what Konatsu was really offering. She had to put a stop to this; otherwise, was she any better than Ranma? "I can't give you what you want."

"I only want to see you happy."

"You need to find someone else... someone who can love you the way I can't. Please, Kon-chan... I don't want to see you hurt the way I..." Ukyo's voice trailed off as her head collapsed into her pillow, exhausted.

"I'm sorry, Ukyo-sama." Konatsu pulled the bed covers up to Ukyo's shoulders, and silently shut her door behind him.


Months passed. The unexpected closure of the Nekohanten meant even more business for Ucchan's. The restaurant's reputation spread far and wide. Throughout Nerima and its surrounding areas, everyone knew Ucchan's as a place for excellent food at reasonable prices.

One thing that there was wide disagreement on, however, was the gender of the owner, as well as that of the owner's employee. But such things were to be expected in Nerima.

Mikado Sanzenin had returned to Nerima, on summer vacation from Kaku University. Tonight he was visiting Ucchan's.

He knew that most people thought of him as the handsome, suave, modest skating sensation. But the truth was that he was a man on a mission. For most of his life, he had been looking for something. He
hadn't quite known what that something was, until he happened to see a certain television commercial. It had shown some teenager popping a piece of candy into his mouth -- Mikado couldn't remember what brand. The teenager then sat upright with a look of ultimate pleasure, as the screen dissolved into a psychedelic animated scene.

Mikado was well aware that it was impossible to get such an experience, such an instant of magical ecstasy, from a piece of candy. Perhaps if it were laced with hallucinogenic chemicals, but that was something he did not want to experiment with. No, if there was such a feeling, he knew from where it would come -- from the kiss of a beautiful woman. He just had to find the right one. To that end, he was on a mission to kiss as many such women as he could find until he came across the one he was looking for. Save for Tendo Akane, he had so far kissed every beautiful woman that he had set out to. One of them, the one in the pig-tail, had according to some actually been a boy; but Mikado didn't want to think about whether that might have been true.

Mikado entered the restaurant and sat at the counter. "Good evening. One of your best okonomiyaki, please."

"Coming right up!" The server behind the counter, who appeared to be a somewhat thin man with a pony tail, immediately began to prepare the order.

"By the way, where would I find the owner? I've heard that she is an exceptionally beautiful woman."

"Tough luck, friend. As it happens, I am the owner, Kuonji Ukyo."

Another server leaned over the counter with a cup and a pot. "Tea, sir?" This one looked to be a buxom young woman in a tight, well-filled dress.

"Yes, please," Mikado replied as he leaned forward to kiss this server. "And allow me to thank you by..."

Ukyo smirked. "Konatsu, here, is a man." Mikado cried out in pain as he accidentally put his hands on the hot grill.

Another customer took a seat. "That's right, can't you tell the difference?" This one seemed to be a cute teenage girl.

Mikado looked at Ukyo in askance.


"Feh. I *will* kiss the woman who owns this place. I have failed to carry out such a promise only once." Well, twice, he thought. There had been the time when he had changed his mind about delivering a kiss, upon finding out what the owner of the Nekohanten looked like. No matter.

"Not if I have anything to say about it," Ukyo said, then turned to the new arrival. "Tsubasa, are you going to order something this time?"

"Uh, no. I don't have any money. I just came to say something to you."


"I've decided that you're the best of the fiancees. You're kind, understanding, and never ever violent without a good reason."

"You're saying you think Ranma should have chosen me?"

"No, not Ranma. I've chosen you. Dearest Ukyo, will you be my..."

Ukyo rubbed her chin thoughtfully. "Not violent without a good, reason, you say?"


"What if I have a good reason?"

"Um, well...." Tsubasa didn't seem to notice the giant spatula as it came down.


"'Okonomiyaki Ucchan's'. This must be the place." The man walked up to the entrance of the restaurant. He was middle-aged, wearing a suit and glasses, and carrying a briefcase.

The man narrowly dodged as something came flying out of the doorway. Someone, actually; apparently a pretty teenage girl in a cute dress. Another person stood just inside, carrying a giant spatula, shouting "And don't come back!"

Apparently this neighborhood was worse than he'd been led to believe. Still, he had to carry out the job he had been told to do. "Excuse me," he said to the wielder of the spatula, "might you be Kuonji Ukyo?"

"That's right, I am. And you are?"

"My name is Donku. I'm with the Tokutekunai corporation." He handed over a business card.

Abruptly, a mailbox slid down the sidewalk, seemingly under its own power. It kicked up a cloud of dust as it careened toward Ukyo. A voice from within cried out, "Charge!!"

Ukyo casually took the business card in one hand, while bringing the huge spatula down hard onto the mailbox with the other. The box's metal crumpled up like an accordion under the force of the blow. A moan sounded from inside the box.

The man gaped at the unusual sight for a moment, then turned back to Ukyo as he remembered why he had come. "My company has a business proposition for you, Kuonji-san."


The office was spacious and nicely furnished, with plush chairs and large mahogany desks. Only the various folders and piles of papers ruined the aesthetics of the place.

Ukyo sank back into the chair. "So, the Tokutekunai corporation wants to start a chain of restaurants based on mine?"

"That's right," Donku said. "Starting in Tokyo, eventually branching out throughout Japan and perhaps even to foreign countries. We would pay you a lump sum for your original restaurant, plus a percentage of the profits from each restaurant we open. If all goes well, you'll eventually have billions of yen.

"The contract proposal we'll be sending you explains the specifics. I advise you to go over it with a lawyer when you get it, then get back to us."

The other man, an executive whose name Ukyo couldn't remember, handed her a cup of tea. "Yes. In return for the money, we would have the rights to use your recipes, as well as your name and likeness."

"My likeness?"

"Yes," Donku said. "In order to get more customers into these restaurants, we will begin an advertising campaign. The focus of this campaign will be a character based on you, Okonomiyaki Ucchan. All of the restaurants will have pictures of this character, maybe statuettes as well. The character will also be in all of our billboards and television advertisements -- an actor made up to look like you."

"It's perfect," the other man said. "The big spatula, the bandolier of little ones... our advertising boys couldn't have come up with anything this good in years! Now all we need is a jingle."

"A what?" Ukyo asked.

"A song. A repetitive, catchy tune that'll stick in people's minds. We'll play it over a television commercial. A happy, smiling family sits down to dinner, as Okonomiyaki Ucchan puts piping hot food
down on the table. The family eats it up and loves it. The viewers will associate the song with that image. And that's just for starters."

A third man, somewhat younger than the others, came into the office carrying some papers. "I just got the go-ahead from upstairs on this. They, er, want to make one change, though."

"What's that?" Donku asked.

"They, er, their focus groups have indicated that attitudes seem to be changing. Current public perceptions associate the idea of good cooking more easily with a female character. They want Okonomiyaki Ucchan to be... a woman."

Ukyo removed the clasp holding her hair in the ponytail. She then reached inside her shirt and ripped out the breast bindings, allowing her normal figure to return.

The three men gaped for a few moments, looking alternately at Ukyo and at each other.

"Er... yes," the younger man said. "Like that."


Ukyo went through the usual motions over the next few days, paying fairly little attention. Her mind was swimming in a sea of possibility. She did have to pay some attention to Mikado after he saw her true gender, using her spatula a couple of times to persuade him to back off. This only seemed to make him more determined to get his kiss. With Tsubasa, that made two boys that she had to fend off regularly.

Ukyo didn't care about money all that much, but there was no denying that having it would make life a whole lot easier. She thought about Ranma, and imagined what it might be like to meet him years from

Ucchan, can you help me?

Who, me?

I'm broke, Ucchan. We only have a few students, and most of them can't afford to pay. I'm gonna have to sell the dojo unless I get some help. I never... never should've....

She broke off the daydream, unsure of how to react. If Ranma came crawling back to her, begging for support, would she give it? She didn't know. But it felt good to think of him needing to ask. And he would have to, wouldn't he? Teaching martial arts couldn't be very lucrative, and where else would he be able to turn?

Three young women entered and sat down. One of them Ukyo knew quite well.

"Welcome to Ucchan's," Ukyo said in a voice that dripped ice, not looking at the sister-in-law of the man who had caused her so much trouble, She slammed plates down on the counter in front of the girls. "Your server will be Konatsu. Enjoy your meal."

"Such exceptionally friendly service," Tendo Nabiki said sarcastically. "I am so glad I'm back here on vacation. Actually, compared to some places I've been in the United States, this is exceptionally friendly service."

"Maybe we should have gone somewhere else to eat," one of Nabiki's friends said.

"Ladies, please. It doesn't matter. The good restaurateur here is providing a service that we are paying for with money. As long as we pay the price, she'll give us the food we came for. Just one of the benefits of having money."

"Oh, really?" Ukyo turned toward Nabiki and handed her a copy of the contract that Tokutekunai had sent. "Take a gander at this, sugar!"

"Hmmm..." Nabiki's eyes devoured the document, quickly scanning from page to page. "Interesting."

"'Interesting'?" Ukyo stared at Nabiki, as Konatsu provided the girls' meals. "Is that all you can say?"

Nabiki re-folded the document and handed it back. "You've accepted?"

"Not yet. I need to have a lawyer look over the contract."

"This food is really delicious, Ukyo," one of the other girls said, obviously trying to defuse the situation.

"Oh, there's nothing wrong with the contract," Nabiki said between bites. "You'll make lots of money."

"But?" Ukyo could tell from Nabiki's expression that there was more that she wasn't saying.

"Since you asked..."

Nabiki took a final bite and set her plate down. "The agreement gives you no control over the food served. Once they get established, they can sell whatever they want under your name. No need to worry too much about fresh ingredients, trained cooks, or any of those other things that can put costs up."

"You're saying..."

"I'm saying that 'Okonomiyaki Ucchan's' could end up being another Otaku Bell."

Ukyo didn't know how to react to this. Could it be true? Or was Nabiki, who loved money, just saying this out of spite? Because someone else had a chance to make more than she could?

"Really good food," Nabiki's friend said. "You'll make some lucky guy a wonderful wife someday."

"Dummy!" the third girl said as she paid Konatsu. "She's still sad about... you know!"

"Oh, Ukyo, I'm sorry! I thought you'd be seeing some handsome guy already! That's all right, it's not easy to get over it, I know."

Ukyo considered how she could respond to this. Of course I'm not dating anyone. I'm going to spend the rest of my life pining away for Ranma. Go back and tell him that, Nabiki. I'm sure he and Akane will be happy to hear that.

No. Even if it was true, she wasn't going to give Ranma and Akane the satisfaction of knowing it. "As a matter of fact, I am dating someone."

"Really?" Nabiki asked, calling Ukyo's bluff. "Anyone we know?"

"Yes." Ukyo leaned over the grill toward her other customers. "Mikado here."

A startled Mikado looked up. Before he could react, Ukyo pressed her lips against his.

It was over quickly. She pushed Mikado back into his seat, the bad taste still lingering in her mouth. It was a quick impulse action. Had she taken time to think about it, it wouldn't have happened. But she had had to do something, anything, to keep Ranma from having the satisfaction of knowing that she was still alone. Besides, it was what Mikado had wanted, wasn't it?


Mikado felt himself crumble. He could hear the sounds of conversation around him, but they did not register in his mind.

"Well, must be going. Ta ta! By rights, you know, you should owe me a consultancy fee..."

Door crashing open. "Darling Nabiki!"

"Tsubasa!" Spatula hitting refrigerator. Refrigerator crashing to ground down street.

"Thanks, Ukyo! We're even."

Mikado didn't care about any of this. He had only one thought. How dare she do that to him?!?

He skulked out of the restaurant. He would have his revenge.


Ukyo sat on her bed, thinking. Or trying to. The ring of the telephone interrupted her.




"I have wonderful news! I'm getting married!"

"Konatsu! That's great! Who's the lucky... uh, woman?"

"You don't know her. I'm bringing her here tomorrow to meet my boss and best friend. You don't need to worry about me anymore."

Ukyo talked with Konatsu for a short time, ending it with good night wishes and a promise to see each other tomorrow. As she hung up the phone, a thought occurred to her.

Konatsu had done exactly what she had told him to.

Was he doing this just to make her happy? So she wouldn't feel guilt over having rejected him? Would he change his whole life just for that? What did that make him; someone who loves unconditionally? Or just a doormat?

Ukyo wasn't Konatsu. She couldn't just go from rejected lover to best friend as if nothing had happened. But maybe it was time to let Ranma go, time to get on with her life.

Her life... she had a decision to make. Was "Okonomiyaki Ucchan" going to become a household word?

She pictured a scene in her mind: A happy, smiling family sitting down to dinner. "Okonomiyaki Ucchan" lovingly putting piping hot food down on the table.

The family taking a bite of the food, then spitting it out in disgust.


This sucks!

The people breaking away from the table, making a run for the bathroom.

Ukyo reached for the phone. She had made her decision.

This would end any chance that Ranma would be forced to crawl back to her. It didn't matter. And for the first time, she knew what to say to Ranma in her imaginary scene.

I'm broke, Ucchan.

Sorry, Ran-chan. But I can't help you. I've learned something important about myself.

I like okonomiyaki better than I like you.


A few months later, a sign went up in front of the building that used to be the Nekohanten.

Coming soon at this location: Okonomiyaki World
Home of Okonomiyaki Dairiko
A subsidiary of the Tokutekunai corporation


Okonomiyaki Dairiko was their spokesperson -- their mascot. They came up with her after Ukyo had turned down their offer. They made her just different enough from Ukyo that she wouldn't be able to sue. Then they opened up their own restaurant in the area.

Their food wasn't as good, everybody agreed on that, but they kept their prices low, while supply costs forced Ukyo to raise hers. They also had name recognition from their advertising and from the restaurants they opened in other parts of Tokyo.

Now Okonomiyaki World was opening franchises throughout Japan, while Ucchan's was barely able to remain open.

Those were the results of the choices Ukyo had made.

As she finished cleaning the grill, she asked herself whether her decisions had been the right ones. Had it all been worthwhile?

"Many thanks," Tatewaki said, as he handed Ukyo his empty plate. "I had forgotten how delightful the results of your culinary talents were. Truly, as long as you live, the name of Kuonji Ukyo will stand for comestibles of the finest quality."

"Thanks, sugar." Ukyo smiled, a smile that came from deep within. "I was wondering about something, but you just answered my question. Let's get started on those phone calls, shall we?"