"I won't use the obvious quote here, and neither should you."


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.

Note: This story, while not a lemon, is what one might call a lime; it deals with some "adult" situations, but doesn't go into explicit sexual detail. There is also some use of language that some might find offensive. You have been warned.

Note also: Because he thinks of himself as a man, I use male pronouns for Ranma, regardless of his current gender.

"Thanks for takin' the kids on such short notice, Mrs. Komori. We usually depend on their grandparents, but we've got a big family meeting goin' on tonight."

"Oh, it's no trouble at all, Mr. Saotome," the chubby, middle-aged woman said. "You have such nice children!"

The older of the two ran into Mrs. Komori's living room. "I, Saotome Hikaru, will defeat all fighters in this dojo!" His sister followed behind him.

Ranma grinned. It was every daddy's dream for Junior to want to follow in his footsteps. Of course, by the time Hikaru was old enough to actually study martial arts, he'd probably want to be a train engineer or a fire chief instead.

Mrs. Komori bent down and smiled. "I'm afraid we don't have any fighters here, dear. I do have some cookies in the oven, though. I'm sure you'll be able to defeat them when they're ready."

"Okay." Hikaru looked around. "But first I'll fight Ririko!"

The little girl backed away from her brother. "Daaadddy!"

"Hold it, big fella." Ranma stepped between the children. "You can't fight your sister unless she challenged you."

Hikaru peered between his father's legs. "Gonna challenge me, Sis? I'm pretty tough!"

"No." She laughed as she grabbed Ranma's leg. "I challenge Daddy!"

"Oh, you do, eh? In that case, we'll compete in... Martial Arts Hair Mussing!" Ranma pulled the girl toward him with one arm, and ran his other hand back and forth across her scraggly mop-top as she giggled uncontrollably.

Ranma always loved playing with his kids. They were so free; so full of life -- life that had begun as part of his, but had grown into something unique and wonderful, with unlimited possibilities ahead. They could become martial artists and save the world, or become scientists and figure out what causes cancer, or maybe just grow up to be really nice people.

He thought back, remembering how his daughter had been born. Biologically, she was his child alone. Akane had helped tremendously, of course -- just not in the usual way.

He wouldn't blame anyone for not wanting to endure what he had had to go through. Still, if he could go back in time and redo his life, knowing what would happen, he'd gladly do the same thing over again. He'd put up with the aches and pains and the idiots making fun of him, just so he could see that little girl's face when it was all over.

Nobody could have convinced him of that at the time, though....


"Hey, Ranma! Let's stop here for a while, okay?"

Daisuke huffed and wheezed as he staggered up the path. He'd put on some obvious weight since graduating from Furinkan; one of the dangers of marrying a good cook.

"Sure thing." Ranma casually flipped himself up, landing on one of the rock outcroppings. He sat with his back against the mountainside. Daisuke took out his water bottle and offered it to Ranma, who refused it with a shake of his head.

Hiroshi came up from behind, walking as he guzzled his water. The beard he had grown, along with his flannel shirt, made him look every bit the rugged outdoorsman.

Ranma looked around idly as his two exhausted friends sprawled themselves out on the jumbled rocks. It was truly a breathtaking view, with a rounded mountain peak on one side and gently rolling hills below covered thickly in trees. He had been to places like this plenty of times with his Pop, but they had always been too busy training to stop and admire the scenery.

If he'd come with Akane instead of Hiroshi and Daisuke, the two of them could've gone up and down both peaks of the Ookinachichi much more quickly. They could have taken turns carrying Hikaru. But she had a class project due right after break. Besides, they'd been getting on each other's nerves a lot lately; a little time apart seemed like a good idea, and it was fun to get back together with the old school buddies.

Daisuke sat up, pulling a map from his backpack and unfolding it. "According to this, we're a little more than two-thirds of the way to the top. Man, this is rough."

"It'll be easier going down," Ranma said.

Daisuke took out a plastic container and flipped open the lid, munching on some food inside. "Wanna try some?" he offered to Ranma. "Aya packed it for me."

Ranma smirked as he stepped over to Daisuke. "Lucky you got a wife whose cooking don't suck." He popped some of the soba noodles into his mouth.

Daisuke laughed. "Yeah. I've also got a wife who wants to have at least two more kids. I'm gonna have to work sixty hours a week to pay all the bills."

"Heh. I'm pretty sure Akane don't want no more. Not that she'd mind another kid around, but she hated being pregnant so much that she wouldn't want to do it again."

Hiroshi sat up. "Y'know, I sure envy you guys. Hearing you talk really makes me want to give up my wild bachelorhood and settle down to a life of changing diapers and saying 'yes, dear,' it sure does."

"Wild is right," Daisuke retorted. "I hear you almost had a date last year."

"Very funny. Just remember that while you're slaving away as an engineer, working to support Kenichi and his eighteen siblings, I'll be a history teacher, and I'll be able to go on vacations like this every year."

"Yeah. By yourself, though. Anyway, I don't plan to be working for long. I'm gonna get rich by designing a new car. Everybody in Japan is going to be driving around in their Daisukemobiles."

Hiroshi chucked. "Daisukemobiles?"

"Hey, I can dream, can't I?"

"Sure. So can I. I'm gonna meet some gorgeous, rich woman who's gonna give me a billion yen in exchange for seducing her."

"Uh huh. Right before you get run over by one of my cars. How about you, Ranma? What do you think about doing after you get out of college?"

Ranma smiled. "I always thought it would be neat to be a wandering martial artist."

Hiroshi looked confused. "A what?"

"It's like the guy in this TV show that I saw. He goes around looking for people in trouble. He says, 'I am...' whatever the heck his name was -- I don't remember, 'I am here to help your village.' Then he kicks the bad guys' butts. It was pretty cool. That's what I wanna do."

Daisuke scratched his head. "Didn't you used to travel around with your father when you were a kid?"

"Yeah, but we never really helped nobody like they did on the show. Mostly, Pop just went around bumming food offa people. Sometimes I think the only reason we didn't just stay home and train was that he wanted to get away from Mom lecturing him about honor."

"Uh huh." Hiroshi laughed as he stood, moving toward the trail up the mountain. "Anyway, I think I'll stick to history, Ranma. Butt-kicking's not one of my strong points."


Around dusk, the three arrived at their campsite at the base of the mountain. Working quickly, Hiroshi and Ranma pitched the large tent they had brought with them as Daisuke held the flashlight.

"Thanks for the help, Ranma." Daisuke pointed to a clear patch of ground. "Over there's a good place for you to put your sleeping bag."

"Huh? I'm sleeping in the tent with you guys."

"Yesterday your snoring kept us awake all night," Hiroshi said. "We don't want to have to go through that again."

"Whaddaya talking about? I don't snore. And besides, even if I do, it ain't that bad."

"You haven't had to listen to yourself," Daisuke said. "We have. Take our word, it is that bad."

Hiroshi nodded. "Yeah. And some of us need our sleep in case there's a hot babe on the train home tomorrow."

Ranma opened his mouth to protest further, but decided it'd be a wasted effort. He tossed his sleeping bag onto the ground away from the tent.

"Sorry, Ranma," Daisuke said. "But you're a martial artist, right? Think of it as training."


Ranma lay back and stared up at the stars. There were so many more than he could see back in Tokyo. They hung low, like water in a vast ocean that he could let go and lose himself in forever.

"Jerks," he mumbled as he looked over at his friends' tent. He wondered why Akane never complained about him snoring. Maybe some people just slept easier than others. Of course, he thought with a smirk, the two of them usually managed to physically exhaust each other before they were ready to go to sleep.

Sex with Akane was quite a workout. Not many other couples could've worn out two futons after only three years of marriage. Such a difference from the way Daisuke described his married life. His wife, Aya, with her heart-shaped face and petite frame, always wearing her apron as if welded to it, made Kasumi seem like a biker chick. It wasn't surprising to hear Daisuke say that Aya seemed to think of sex only as a way to procreate the species.

Then there was Hiroshi, who was still unmarried, and didn't even have a girlfriend. Poor guy. Though having hordes of women after you was no picnic either; especially since Asuka the White Lily proved that even marriage didn't put a stop to it. What's more, Kodachi was bound to be back eventually, and there was no way of telling what she'd do when she showed up.

He sighed to himself as he rolled over in his sleeping bag. It was a screwed-up life... but it was the only one he had.


"Wh-- thpt." Ranma spat the water from his mouth, wiping his face and eyes with his hand. Rain. The rain had woken him. He ducked his head into the sleeping bag, checking himself in the chest and elsewhere. He had become female. His memory slowly fell back into place. The camping trip. He had come to the Ookinachichi mountains with Hiroshi and Daisuke.

Ranma usually forgot dreams as soon as he was awake, but bits of the one he'd just had stayed fresh and vivid in his mind. It had started with Shampoo. Strange that he should dream about her. Maybe something about the Ookinachichi reminded him of her. Nihao, Ranma! You want make babies? she had said, as cheerfully as if asking him to share a sundae at the ice cream parlor. She gave him some kind of potion that made him do anything she said. It was a miracle that he managed to escape.

Then there was Kodachi. She wrapped him up in that ribbon of hers, and was going to inject him with a hypodermic the size of one of her clubs. The Black Rose has a little score to settle with her wicked rival. Don't worry, Ranma darling. You won't feel a thing!

After somehow getting away from her, he ended up in Ucchan's restaurant. I'll help you, she said as she laid back on the grill. Make love to me, Ran-chan! Those girls can't force you to have sex with them if you're having sex with me, can they? I'm only trying to help! She wasn't any more pleased than anyone else to see him run away.

Finally, he found Akane. That had been the most vivid part of the dream; the smell of their sweat-soaked bodies, the sound of her breathless yelps, her soft yet firm touch as she grabbed ahold of him, all still stood fresh in his mind. She'd dragged him down into the grass, and they'd had sex. He felt a huge wet sticky stain in his boxers; it told him just how intense that part of the dream had been. He needed a change of underwear soon.

Only it wasn't really Akane. He looked up just before climaxing, and her head was hidden in shadow. It was... who? He struggled to bring the image into focus in his memory, but couldn't.

His hair dripped water onto the pillow as he lay quietly, listening to the rain like drumbeats falling onto the sleeping bag. Nothing to do but wait for it to stop. The sky was a dull, hazy gray, meaning that the sun was already up. He silently wished to be home with Akane.


The rest of the day passed uneventfully. Hiroshi's camping stove refused to light; Ranma had to stay in female form as he hiked back to the train station with his two friends. They were relatively quiet during the walk, talking mostly about how great it would be to get back to home-cooked meals and the other comforts of civilization.

The train home left the station on time. Ranma sat across from his friends, next to a chatty man who said his name was Shikima.

Shikima handed Ranma a business card. "Call me at that number sometime. I'd like to take you out to dinner."

Not again, Ranma thought. I just can't take any more of this. Even though he was dirty and smelly, he still attracted members of the opposite sex -- opposite from whichever one he happened to be at the moment. He wondered what it would be like to be the kind of person people just left alone.

A year ago he would've just told Shikima to fuck off, and if he didn't, he'd get hurt. That was before he had met Asuka the White Lily for the second time. The ease with which she took advantage of him -- just because of her idiotic rivalry -- was terrifying. That was what his nightmare had been trying to tell him. Asuka had gotten to him, deep down, in a way that he hadn't really been aware of until now.

Sure, he could tell Shikima where to stick his card. Then maybe Shikima would gas him into unconsciousness, and carry him off to who-knows-where to do who-knows-what with him. Not likely, of course, but considering the kind of people he seemed to meet all the time, it wasn't out of the question either.

He took the card, slipped it into his pocket and nodded, vaguely managing a polite smile.

Ranma had thought that cats were the only things that could really scare him -- and that was only because of his Pop's stupid screw-up. This was worse. Knowing that people like Asuka and Kodachi were out there made him feel as if there were giant cats crouched in the darkness, ready to pounce on him anytime they wanted.


Moonlight and the glow of street lamps shone through the windows, outlining the apartment in a dim, gray illumination. Ranma closed the door behind him. The clock showed the time as 12:23 AM. This was home, at least until he and Akane graduated.

After quickly checking on Hikaru in the small bedroom, he stripped down to his underwear, stopping in the bathroom long enough to toss his clothes in the hamper. Then he walked past the living room couch and chairs toward the master bedroom. The furniture was an odd mix of random styles, having mostly been bought from various other residents as they moved out. They'd chosen it for affordability and a reasonable degree of comfort, with appearance not being much of a consideration.

Entering the bedroom, he pulled back the covers and slipped into bed next to Akane. He was still female. He briefly considered going to the kitchen for a kettle of hot water, but didn't feel energetic enough to get back up.

Akane turned over in her sleep, her long hair swinging behind her head. Her hair had grown to a little past shoulder length. During the time she was pregnant with Hikaru, she had been too preoccupied to bother with getting it cut, and afterwards she decided to leave it long just for a change. Lucky for her, he mused, Ikasama's administrators didn't include a certain loony principal.

Ranma let out a contented breath of air. It was good to be home. Lying next to Akane's warmth made him feel safe, secure, protected. They'd be all right as long as they were together.

He leaned over and kissed her cheek. It was a promise. A promise that next time he went somewhere, it would be with his family.


Some dream, immediately forgotten, segued into the sound of Akane's voice. "Get up, Ranma! We'll be late for class!"

He thought about leaving the warm, comfortable futon, and instead buried his face into the pillow. "I'm not going," he mumbled. "I'm dead."

"Being dead's really inconsiderate, Ranma." Akane, already clean and dressed, tugged at his arm. "Come on, get up!"

"Cut it out!" His eyelids, his body, felt as if they weighed a ton. He tried to think of something to say, anything for a few extra minutes of blissful sleep. "I mean it! I'm a ghost!"

"Ranma no bake!" Akane hit him on the head with her pillow. "Get up, I said!"

"All right, already..." he groaned, forcing his reluctant legs out of the covers and onto the floor. His nose caught a whiff of his body odor, and immediately wished it hadn't. "Ugh. I stink!"

"I noticed." She stepped out of the room. "Better go take a shower. I'll make us some breakfast."

"Good idea," he said as he stood up. "Your cooking'll wake me up for sure."

Akane poked her head back in, brandishing a frying pan like a club. "Did you say something, Ranma?"

He just grinned, grabbing some clean clothes from the dresser drawer, and zipped past her into the bathroom.

Closing the door, he stripped down to his naked female body, throwing his stinky underwear in the hamper. It would have to be his turn to do the laundry, too. Maybe he could just burn this pair of

Married life certainly hadn't been what Ranma had expected. While it was true that he and Akane had cut down on the insults and the violence, they were still a long way from speaking to each other in "yes, dear"s and "I love you, darling"s. They still did most of the same things -- but they didn't seem to matter that much anymore. It was more like teasing than fighting. She'd even started calling hitting him "behavior modification therapy," after a course in psychology. Then, after a quick look through her textbook, he in turn justified calling her unfeminine as "self-esteem resiliency training."

He drew the shower curtain shut and turned the water on. He braced himself in a combat stance for the jet of icy cold water that came out first. The hot water always kicked in after a few seconds.

This time, it didn't.


Ranma emerged from the bathroom, freshly dressed, and sat at the kitchen table next to his son. Hikaru leaned over from his high chair and grabbed him by the chest. "Chichi!" he shouted.

"Hey! He knows I'm his daddy! He called me 'Chichi' for Father!" Ranma exclaimed proudly as he tweaked Hikaru under the chin. "You're a smart li'l kid, ain'tcha!"

"You don't look much like a daddy," Akane remarked as she handed Ranma a plate of breakfast buns.

"There ain't no hot water." Ranma wolfed down the food in record time. "Hey, that wasn't bad at all."

"Thanks! I'm glad you like it!" Akane said, sounding absurdly pleased at the compliment. She filled a kettle with tap water and set it on the stove, flipping on the burner. "We should call building maintenance when we get the chance. Funny, the hot water was working just fine half an hour ago."

"Yeah, just my luck." Ranma got up. As he got to the stove, a flash of electricity suddenly sparked. "Yow!" The burner went dead. He touched the kettle; it was only slightly warm. "Aaargh!" he cried. "What is this, a world-wide conspiracy to keep me from being a guy?"

Akane shrugged. "Got me."

"Well, whatever. I'll go get some hot water from the manager while I ask her to get the stove fixed." He picked up his school notebook. "And the shower. You go next door and get the tiny terror to day care, okay?"

"Okay." Akane carried the dishes over to the sink. "Meet you out in front."

Ranma smirked. "You ain't gonna be happy if I have to keep being a girl for a long time. Bad enough to have to take cold showers."

"Ranma, you... you..." Akane seemed to be fighting back an embarrassed smile.

"Yeah, takes one to know one, don't it."


After leaving a note at the manager's apartment, Ranma came outside and immediately heard the unmistakable sounds of combat. Sweaty grunts of exertion, spirited battle cries, and sharp crashes of fist into bone resounded in the morning air.

He stood on the sidewalk and watched a scene that took him back to his first days of high school. A crowd of about twenty attackers surrounded Akane. She glided smoothly between them, avoiding their attacks as if they were moving in slow motion, taking down two or three at a time with well-placed strikes.

Within seconds, it was over. She beat these guys so easily, Ranma thought. She must really be getting good.

"You beat these guys so easily, Akane!" he said. "They must really suck. Who the heck are they, anyway?"

"They attacked me last Friday, too. You won't believe why." She pointed to one of them. "This one is a ringleader of sorts. He says his name's Hakano."

"All right, you jerk!" Ranma grabbed Hakano by his shirt, pulling him off the ground. "What's the idea of attacking my wife? That stupid 'defeat her to date her' thing got stopped five years ago!"

"We are most certainly not interested in dating her," Hakano said, abruptly regaining consciousness.

"Then like I said, what's the idea?"

"The idea is revenge." Hakano pushed a pair of glasses into place. "We are taking revenge against Tendo Akane for her corrupting influence on you, an influence which has caused you to betray the love and trust of your best friend."

"Huh?" This guy talks like a Kuno, Ranma observed with a certain amount of distaste. "I ain't betrayed Daisuke! What the heck are you..."

"Not Daisuke," Akane said, half-smiling.


She shook her head.

Hakano continued, as if ignoring them. "Your best friend, who was always there for you to confide your innermost dreams and feelings; who always listened to you without judgement or thought of self."

Ranma stared, dumbfounded. "I have innermost dreams?!"

Akane bent over to whisper in his ear. "They're talking about Ukyo."

"Huh?" Ranma looked at Hakano, at Akane, and back at Hakano. "What the heck are you talking about? I never 'confided innermost dreams' with Ucchan! I mainly just went to her place to eat!"

"Of course, you remember it that way now," Hakano said, "due to the corrupting influence of..."

"That's how it was, you jerk! She was a friend, but that's it! If you think Ucchan is so great, why don'tcha go hang around her restaurant?"

"We did. She threw us out because we were annoying her paying customers."

Ranma let Hakano drop to the ground unceremoniously. Akane looked at him, and poked him in the chest. "Ranma, what is this?!"

"Those're my--"

"I mean why didn't you change back? You forgot the hot water, didn't you. Now you'll have to go to class as a woman."

"I didn't forget." He sighed. "The whole building's power went out right about the time I got there. This is just too weird."

Akane's brows narrowed in thought. "Maybe you're under a curse?"

"No duh, Akane. That's why I need the hot water!"

"Idiot!" She whapped him forcefully on top of his head with her book bag. "I mean that you picked up some kind of spell that's keeping you from changing back."

"Oh." It certainly made sense. But what could have given him a curse like that? Who could tell? "I guess we need to go talk to that old woman Kasumi trains with, then."

"Good idea. We can go next weekend. In the meantime, stay a woman. And stay away from the public baths; they'll probably explode if you get near them."

"Right, whatever." Why me? Ranma asked himself. Why does this stuff always happen to me? "C'mon, let's go. Geez, we're gonna be late for class."

Walking away, Akane tossed a glance back to the men lying on the sidewalk. "Thanks for the workout, boys." They groaned in response.


Next Friday evening, Ranma and Akane arrived at Kaede's cottage. After spending the night in a guest room and being treated to breakfast, they were shown into a room with no furniture. They sat on the floor.

"So what are we dealing with here?" Ranma asked. "Am I possessed by an evil spirit?"

Kaede's expression was inscrutable. "I've always thought 'evil' was a rather meaningless term. Who are such as we to decide what is moral and what isn't? Perhaps 'malevolent' is closer to what you mean."

"Is it a 'malevolent' spirit, then?"

"I don't know."

Ranma sighed, exasperated. He was sure that the old woman was withholding what she knew to deliberately annoy him. "Well, then, is there any way you could find out?"

"I could easily enough; but I won't." She continued before Ranma could react. "This will be a training exercise for Kasumi."

Kasumi wore a set of plain brown robes that looked identical to the ones Kaede had on. She knelt down on the floor, motioning for Ranma to join her.

Ranma sat next to her, silently calling for all "malevolent spirits" to get the hell out of his body. He wished that spirits could be beaten up the way people could.

Kasumi closed her eyes and just sat there, not moving. Minutes passed. Ranma fidgeted. What was he supposed to do now? He looked at Akane, whose gaze seemed riveted on Kasumi.

Suddenly, Kasumi's eyes flew open in shock. "My goodness!"

Ranma blinked, feeling more worried by the minute. "Hm?"

"Oh. Er...." She smiled at him. "Congratulations, Ranma!"

"Uh, thanks, Kasumi. For what?"

"Why, you're going to be a mother!"

Had there been a chair, Ranma would've fallen out of it. "What?!"

"There's a little life growing inside you. You're going to have a baby!"


A hush fell over the room, as all eyes turned toward Akane.

She spoke in a low voice, between clenched teeth. "Would you please repeat what you just said so I can be sure that I understood you correctly."

"I said that Ranma's going to have a..."

"I heard you!" Her fist crashed down, making a large bruise on Ranma's skull.

Ranma raised his arms in protest. "Akane, I didn't--"

"Who was it, Ranma? Hiroshi? Daisuke? Maybe some handsome guy you met for a one-night stand? Ranma, you.. you slut!"

"No! It wasn't anybody! Unless...." He had been asleep outside while Hiroshi and Daisuke were in the tent. One of them could've come out and.... "No! They wouldn't'a done that! Especially not with me! They know that I'm really a guy!" He turned desperately towards Kasumi. "Please tell me that this is just a big joke!" Kasumi just stared back with wide eyes.

Kaede spoke, ignoring them. "Did you find anything else, Kasumi?"

"Oh. Oh yes. I noticed something while I was looking at Ranma. Some other spirit seems to be anchored to his."

"We need to contact this spirit, then, to determine its intentions. I shall anchor you, Kasumi."

"Yes, Sensei."


Kasumi opened her eyes. She looked around, her eyes fluttering nervously.

"Who are you?" Kaede asked.

"I am Feng Lili," Kasumi answered in a distant, almost wooden voice. "I am truly sorry for the distress I am bringing upon you."

"You got a funny way of showin' it," Ranma said. "What the heck do you think--"

Kaede interrupted. "You've impregnated Ranma?"

"I have." The voice trembled slightly.

Ranma glared at her, still unable to believe that this could be happening to him. "Why?!"

"The continuation of my family line. Before he passed on, my father entrusted me with the responsibility. I have waited fifteen centuries to finally fulfill it."

"Fifteen centuries?" Akane moved closer. "Are you the girl who died at Jusenkyo? Drowned in the spring that gave Ranma his female form?"

She nodded.

"Well, that's just great," Ranma said bitterly. "Decided you hadn't screwed my life up enough already? Had to come back and make it worse? Well, I ain't havin' your stupid child! So let me get back to normal, or I'll-- I'll--"

"As I said, I am sorry. But this child will be born. For the honor of my ancestors, I will do what is necessary." She bowed her head down, and her eyes closed. A moment later they opened again and Kasumi resumed her usual wide gaze.

Ranma turned to Kaede. "What did she mean, she'd 'do what is necessary?'"

"I advise you not to take this lightly, Ranma," she said. "I sense that this spirit possesses considerable power. A dying wish is a very powerful thing by itself. This ghost has not only that, but fifteen hundred years of contact with Jusenkyo. There's no telling what she might be able to do; maybe even cast out your own consciousness and take over your body directly."

Ranma shuddered at the thought. He might end up being the ghost, able to do nothing but watch someone else live his life. And would he get his body back after the baby was born? Or would he stay that way forever?

The memory of the dream he had had during the camping trip returned abruptly. For the first time, he could see in his mind the face of the woman he had sex with in the dream. It was a face that he had seen many times before, in the mirror.

He looked back at his sister-in-law, in hopes that she could offer him some way out of this mess. "Kasumi, what... what do we do?"

"Well," she answered, "I'd suggest a visit to the doctor. And then shopping for maternity clothes, and...."

Ranma's head slumped.


Akane forcefully crammed her dirty laundry into her overnight bag. "Ranma, I've already apologized five times for not believing you. What more do you want?"

He grinned. "I want the window seat on the train home!"

"All right, whatever!" she grumbled.

Kasumi and Kaede entered the living room. "Your friends Hiroshi and Daisuke are off the hook, Ranma," the old woman said. "I had thought that Lili's ghost had... persuaded... one of them to come out and impregnate you. But according to what Kasumi learned from her, that isn't what happened."

"I knew those guys wouldn't do nothin' like that." He turned to Kasumi, who seemed to be better at answering a simple question than her teacher. "So how did that ghost get me knocked up?"

"Well, what happened was... er, that is.... Oh my, how can I say this." Her face began to turn red. "The truth is, you were... oh my. Oh my, my, my."

Ranma looked quizzically at the smirking Kaede.

"A night emission," the old woman said. "With a rain shower at the climax. A wet dream, figuratively and literally."

"Oh, come on!" Ranma rolled his eyes. "What the heck are the odds of the rain coming down just at the right minute?"

"I've told you how capable and determined Lili's ghost is. A little rain wouldn't be that much of a feat for her."

"So there's nothing you can do to help?"

"I didn't say that."

He sighed. Here we go again. "Well, is there anything?!"

"Yes. The fact is, Lili's ghost is powerful, but not beyond making a mistake. There might come a time when you get hit by hot water before she notices that it's happening."

"So I might get out of it that way?"

"You'll be carrying a fetus inside of you. What do you suppose will happen if your womb suddenly disappears?"

"Um..." Thoughts of his body being ripped apart from the inside ran through Ranma's brain. "And this is supposed to help? Thanks a lot."

"Ranma, what I can do is to tap into the ghost's power to lock you into female form. You'll be able to touch hot water, but it won't change you back."

He thought for a moment. The thought of being stuck as a woman for that long appealed to him about as much as a nine-month root canal. But what else could he do? He looked toward Akane, who looked back blankly.

"I guess we ain't got no choice," he said.


The doctor came into the examination room, carrying a clipboard. "Good afternoon, Ms. Saotome. I'm Doctor Yabuisha Hiru."

Ranma, his back lying flat on the table, bent his head up to look at the doctor. "Hi, Doc. Can I get up and get dressed now?"

"Certainly." The doctor nodded. "I have your results back. It seems that your fortune teller was actually correct. You're going to be a mother. All of the tests we did check out; as far as we can tell, your baby will be a healthy one."

"That's good to know, Doc." Ranma said as he quickly pulled up his pants. "That 'fortune teller' is my sister-in-law, by the way. If she says someone's gonna have a baby, it's true."

"If you say so." The doctor smiled in a way that to Ranma seemed patronizing. "Personally, I can't really accept that sort of thing as true until I see some scientific evidence for it. Besides, it's not really consistent with my beliefs as a Christian. But that's just me. Let's get back to you and your baby-to-be." He showed Ranma the paper on his clipboard. "You've listed the father as 'Saotome Ranma.' Isn't that your own name?"

"Uh...." He searched for the perfect answer. "Yeah."

The doctor stared at him. "Ranma, it's your right not to tell us who the father is. But I do need to know if it might be a case of incest."

Ranma felt annoyed. "Look, Doc, what's the difference who the father is? Akane and me are gonna take responsibility for raising it."

"It matters a great deal, Ranma. Do you know what inbreeding is?"

"Um...." Some remark about putting hotels together to make baby hotels occurred to him, but he decided to keep quiet.

"Let me explain. Everything that we are as human beings is determined by our genes. They're the blueprint -- or maybe a better analogy is a computer program -- that our bodies construct themselves from."

"Oh yeah, I remember. I had a class that talked about that stuff a year ago."

"Most of us carry around some bad genetic information. Bugs in the program. It doesn't usually matter, since genes always come in pairs, and as long as you've got one 'good' gene it dominates over the 'bad' one and you don't even notice it."

"But when two people in the same family have a kid...."

"When that happens, you're much more likely to get two of the 'bad' genes to pair up. The result can be various sorts of genetic diseases, possibly even deformities."

And if the same person were both father and mother, that stuff would be just about sure to happen, wouldn't it, Ranma thought to himself. An image appeared in his mind of a baby coming out of his stomach looking like Happosai. Shit. It was just good news after good news this week. But there was nothing he could do about it if that was going to happen. And he wasn't about to try to explain what really happened to the doctor without being able to demonstrate the change.

But there was no reason the doctor had to worry about that. It wasn't like he'd be able to do anything about it, anyway. "Well, don't worry about it, Doc. The only relatives I have are Mom and Pop, and I sure didn't fu-- have sex with either of them."

"Okay, Ranma. I'm glad to hear it." Doctor Yabuisha scanned a piece of paper on his clipboard. "I'm also glad to see that your drug tests are negative."

"Hey, I never take drugs. Unless Kodachi or someone slips 'em to me."

"Very good. Recreational drug use is irresponsible under any circumstances." He took a few sips from his coffee mug. "But for a pregnant woman, it can be disastrous for her fetus. There's a trite but true saying: 'When you do drugs, your baby does too.'"

"Thanks for the advice, Doc. Now I got a question. How much physical activity is it OK for me to do? Y'know, exercise?"

"I'd recommend taking it a little bit easy. Being pregnant is going to take a lot of your physical resources. Exercise in moderation is fine. Don't do too much, or you'll wear yourself out."

"So does that mean I can do martial arts? As long as I fight somebody easy, like Kuno?"

The doctor shot him a look that suggested that he had said something really stupid. Then his normal neutral expression returned. "Ranma, I definitely wouldn't recommend that sort of combat for a pregnant woman. From what I know, those fights can get pretty brutal. One good blow to the gut, and you could have a miscarriage on your hands."

Ranma sighed. Maybe it would be better just to lock himself up in the bathroom until all of this was over.

"One other thing before I let you go," the doctor continued. "Your blood tests indicate that you've never had toxoplasmosis."


"It's a kind of flu disease. Normally it's not very serious as diseases go; but it could be quite bad for your child if you happen to pick it up while pregnant. So you'll need to be careful."

"What do I need to do?"

"There are two main sources of toxoplasmosis infection. One is undercooked meat. You'll need to make sure that any meat you eat is done all the way through."

"Okay." He'd have to talk to Akane about that. She generally wasn't too careful when it came to cooking. "What's the other one?"

"The disease is also found is the intestinal tracts of felines."


"Sorry. We medical types tend to use a lot of jargon. I mean cats. For the next nine months, I want you to try to keep away from cats."

"Okay, Doc." Ranma grinned. "If you really think it's important, I guess I can manage that."


News traveled fast. Akane told Mr. Tendo and Yuka, and pretty soon it seemed like everyone and his dog knew who the newest expectant mom in the neighborhood was.

"More tea, Mr. Saotome? Mrs. Saotome?" Akane asked. Ranma's Mom and Pop had come over to drop off Hikaru after taking care of him for the last few days.

"No thank you, Akane," Nodoka said. Ranma found himself trying not to look at her, thanking the kami that she had already freed him from the promise to kill himself if he were found not to be a true man among men. I'm your son, Mrs. Saotome, he said inwardly to himself. A real man's man, just like you've always wanted. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to go knit some cute little booties.

Genma leaned back on the couch, munching on some potato chips and holding out his cup. "So the boy went and got himself pregnant, did he?"

"Exactly." Akane poured the tea.

"Um, I need to start dinner," Ranma said. "Today's my turn to cook." He didn't want to listen anyway. Let them sit in here and have a good laugh at the pregnant man.

A voice came from outside. "Ranma!" Hibiki Ryoga burst into the apartment. "How dare you!"

"Hey, Ryoga. Glad you're here. For a minute I thought there might be somebody somewhere who didn't know about my condition yet."

Ryoga advanced toward Ranma, backing him against a wall. "How dare you treat Akane this way! You call yourself a man?"

"Now just a minute there, pal..."

"How many more times have you cheated on her, Ranma? This was just one where you happened to slip up!"

Ranma decided he'd had enough abuse. "Damn it, Ryoga! What makes you think that this is any of your business? Do I go around accusing you of having slept with other women, huh?"

Ryoga's face began to turn red; but before he could reply, Akane interrupted. "It's all right, Ryoga."

"What do you mean, 'all right?' Do you realize what Ranma..."

She looked Ryoga straight in the eye. "I know exactly what Ranma did. He didn't cheat on me, or do anything else wrong. Now, if you refuse to believe that, then you are calling me a liar."

"But-- I... I... I'm sorry, Akane." Ryoga bowed his head in shame. "I'm sorry, Ranma."

"That's okay." She gave him a Kasumi-esque smile. "Want a cup of tea?"

Ranma smiled. Akane had stuck up for him! Of course, she might have really been saying Don't pick on my husband, Ryoga. That's my job. Still, it was encouraging.

He couldn't really blame Ryoga for the way he had acted. Though he had given up on Akane -- and on his vendetta against Ranma -- he obviously still cared enough for her enough to not want to see her hurt. So when it looked like her husband had cheated on her, it was only natural that good ol' P-chan would try to come to her rescue. Of course he didn't bother to find out the facts before he went off the deep end, but just about everyone Ranma knew was like that.

All in all, it looked like they might actually be able to make it through this.


"What's wrong?" Akane asked.

Ranma pushed away from the breakfast table with one hand, covering his mouth with the other. The food he had just eaten bounced around the inside of his stomach like hyperactive ping-pong balls.

He bolted out of his chair, and into the bathroom, barely managing to lean over the toilet in time. With a loud, prolonged gurgle, a stream of half-digested food poured unstoppably out of his mouth.

Akane popped her head in. "You jerk! You said you liked my bacon and egg breakfast last time!"

"Ak—" Ranma wiped vomit from the side of his mouth with a piece of toilet paper, then turned his head back toward his wife. "Akane, remember last year, when this happened to you?"

"Oh." For a moment her expression softened. Then she returned to looking annoyed. "And you blamed it on my cooking then!"

"That was before I... I..." Ranma cut what he was going to say off in mid-sentence as he began to throw up again.


Ranma closed his textbook and stood. "I'm tired," he said to Akane, walking toward the bathroom. "I'm gonna quit and get to bed early."

Akane looked up from the computer. "Good idea. I'll join you. I'm not getting anywhere with this paper tonight."

Ranma lumbered into the bathroom, shutting the door behind him, and began doing all the usual things one did in a bathroom. He was tired, for no good reason that he could think of. The differential equations he had been working on were, if anything, simpler than last semester's line integrals, but somehow he couldn't concentrate well enough to finish them.

It seemed that he never had any energy lately -- even though he hadn't been doing any fighting at all, just light (by his standards) exercises to keep in shape. Nor did sleep seem to help much, especially
since he was usually wide awake the instant his head hit the pillow.

He noticed a small but definite bulge in his stomach. There was no more chance of the whole thing turning out to be some dumb joke. He was really going to have a baby.

Stupid ghost, he thought. Everything that was happening was its fault. Stupid ghost, stupid curse, stupid embryo, stupid... stupid everything.

Finishing up his nightly routine, he pushed through the bathroom door, headed for the bedroom like a plane on autopilot. Sleep. Sleep would be good.

"Ready for bed, Ranma?"

His jaw dropped. Akane lay above the covers, wearing a silky, semi-transparent nightgown. Held up precariously by a pair of thin straps, trimmed in lace at the top and bottom, it offered tantalizing glimpses of her perfectly-conditioned form underneath. Lazily sprawled out on the futon with a sweet, innocent smile, she looked both sexy and genuinely pretty at the same time.

"A-- Akane?" Mesmerized, Ranma barely noticed himself moving in closer.

With a low, soothing purr, she snuggled up next to him. Their lips met, and her tongue began exploring his mouth. His heart beat faster. He felt wetness and a throbbing, pulsating sensation in his cunt. So this was what it was like to be aroused as a woman.

He moved slightly back. "Akane... what are you doing?"

She glared at him in frustration. "What does it look like, you jerk? Why do you have to ruin everything?! I bought this new nightie because I thought you'd like the way I look in it!"

"I do like it... it's just that... we can't do nothin' like this!"

"Why not?"

"Akane, look at us! We're both women!"

"So? It's not like anyone can see us!"

"I know, but... but..."

"But what?"

He couldn't think of anything to say. He desperately wanted to lose himself to passion, to forget about everything else just for a little while. He wanted to make love to her, in every sense of the word.

"Ah, the heck with it." He snuggled into Akane's embrace. They kissed.

He only hoped she wouldn't want to do it girl-girl all the time from then on.


A chop to the head. A high block followed by three rapid kicks. A last blow to the midsection. Ranma's opponent fell to the ground, defeated. Akane smiled approvingly as she watched intently.

Electronically synthesized cheers were heard as the words YOU WIN flashed across the screen. Ranma raised his fist in the air with a triumphant yell. "Yeah!"

Akane applauded. "You're really good at this game!"

"I guess so. Y'wanna play? I'll go easy on you."

"That's what you said last time. No thanks." A loud banging on the door resonated through the apartment. "I'd better see who that is."

Ranma hit the button to start a new game. The computer had been given to them by Nabiki as a wedding present, and every now and then she would sent them upgrade parts that Daisuke would install. It wasn't like her to be generous, but then again she was making so much money at her new job that this was probably peanuts to her.

Akane opened the door. "You?"

"Well, well, well." A familiar figure barged into the apartment. "If it isn't the happy homemaker herself. Mind if I come in?"

Ranma snorted. "Whaddaya want, Pantyhose?"

"Now, now." Pantyhose Taro crossed the room and glared menacingly at Ranma. "Is that the proper way for a lovely girl like yourself to talk? You need to have Mommy give you some etiquette lessons, Ranma."

"What do you want, Taro?" Akane said forcefully.

"Just looking for everybody's favorite old pervert. He and I have a little unfinished business."

"Still trying to get your name changed, huh?" Ranma quipped.

"That's right. And I've got a little surprise for him this time. Maybe you should change yours too, Ranma. Too bad 'Azusa-chan' is already taken."

"Well, he ain't here, so tough luck. Nice talkin' to ya, Pantyhose, but I'm sure you've gotta run."

Pantyhose moved his face uncomfortably close to Ranma's. "So if he isn't here, where is he?" The gleam in his eyes, the way he smiled and chuckled to himself for no apparent reason, made it seem like he might go completely psycho at any moment. Not that it bothered Ranma, of course.

"I dunno. Try the laundry room. Today's Thursday. The big-breasted woman from the fourth floor should be doing her wash about now."

"Now that's the way to be a nice, helpful young lady. Someday you'll make a wonderful wife, Ranma." Pantyhose walked nonchalantly out of the apartment.

"Darn that Pantyhose!" Ranma said. "Who does he think he is, coming in here and...."

Akane pushed the door shut. "How do you know when the woman from the fourth floor does her..."

"I don't, Akane. I just said that to get rid of him."


"He'll be back, though. Wish I did know how to get him together with the old freak. They could go away and leave the rest of us alone."

Akane's eyes narrowed. "Just a minute, Ranma. I think there is a way for Taro to talk to Happosai."


Pantyhose walked in without knocking. "He's not in the laundry room, Ranma."

"That's right, Pantyhose." Ranma offered the telephone receiver. "Here."

The high-pitched, nasal voice came over the line. "So! Looking for me, eh?'

"Where are you, old man? Get over here so we can have a little face-to-face chat."

"So you can catch me in whatever trap you've brought? Think I was born yesterday, do you? You want to talk, we'll do it like this."

"Damn you, you old coward!"

"Temper temper, boy. Do we want our name changed now, or don't we?"


"Now what's in it for me, hm?"

"What do you want?"

There was a pause. "Ever hear of the legendary brassiere of Meiyouren?"

"Can't say I have."

"It's one of the hidden treasures buried in a hidden temple near Lhasa. Get it for me, and you can have any name you like."

Pantyhose looked around the room, his attention fixing on the bedroom door. "How do I find this temple, old man?" He set the phone down quietly on the table and walked across the room.

The voice continued to blare out of the receiver. "Simple. Start from the center of the town and walk exactly thirty miles due northwest. Look for a stream, and follow it until you come to an old wooden bridge. Cross the bridge, and walk straight until you come to a clump of trees. From there..."

Ranma followed behind Pantyhose as he swung open the bedroom door. Inside, Akane sat on a chair with one hand pinching her nose, speaking into an extension phone. "Walk east until you get to the top of the third hill. From there you'll see a farmhouse. Are you writing this down?" She continued, unmindful of Pantyhose's tapping on her shoulder. "You there? Ungrateful youngster! I oughtta...."

"Cute," Pantyhose said as Akane finally noticed him. "Real cute." He slapped the phone out of her hands and across the room. "Did I ever tell you how much I hate cute?"

"Look, you moron!" Ranma said. "It's simple! Just take a different name!"

"Just take a different name?" Pantyhose turned around. "What do you think I am, stupid?"

"You said it, Pantyhose. Not me," Ranma snarled. "And by the way, Happosai isn't here. We haven't seen him since last year."

"Why the hell didn't you say so? I've had enough of you, Ranma. Let's step outside and settle this. Unless you just can't miss your appointment at the beauty parlor."

"No!" Akane jumped between the two. "Ranma can't fight you in his condition. You want an opponent, fight me!"

"I don't have to ask who wears the pants in this family, do I. Wait a minute...." Pantyhose paused. "What 'condition?'"

"Ranma is... he's...." Her eyes pointed towards Ranma's stomach.

Pantyhose examined Ranma. He fell silent for a few moments. Then he burst out. "Hahahahahahahaha!"

"Laugh it up, you jerk." Ranma sulked back into the living room.

"Oh, it's... Bwhahahaha!" Pantyhose was nearly doubled over as he followed. "Don't worry, Ranma, you... Hahahaha! I... I... Haha!"

Ranma wanted to take laughing boy outside and beat him into a bloody pulp. But the doctor's warning wouldn't get out of his mind. One good blow to the gut, and...

Pantyhose laughed his way out into the hallway. Ranma closed the door behind him without saying a word.


Weeks stretched into months. Some of Ranma's usual energy returned. At the same time, his stomach showed an unmistakable bulge. Not a very appealing trade-off. Surprisingly, no one said anything about the former campus heartthrob having turned into a pregnant woman -- at least not when Ranma was listening. He could only guess at what his classmates were saying behind his back.

Ryoga agreed to help if there were any more trouble with Pantyhose. Pantyhose would be able to take out the Lost Boy with a splash of water, and he probably wouldn't be able to get there from his farm in time to do any good; but still, Ranma had to admit that it was nice of him to try to help.

Ranma soon found that even clothes sized for his male body wouldn't fit him. Akane's hand-me-down maternity wear was a little too feminine for his tastes, so he went shopping and bought some clothes that were as close to unisex as possible. He also reluctantly started wearing a bra, after noticing how much his tits had expanded.

All in all, life went on about as normally as possible....

"Hi, Akane! Hi, Ranma!" Yuka said as she walked into the dorm lobby. "Going out?"

"Yeah," Akane said. "Grocery shopping. Want us to pick you up anything?"

"No thanks, I stocked up yesterday. So, Ranma, when's the big day? I mean, when's the baby due?"

"Beginning of February," Akane answered.

Yuka leaned down to Hikaru. "Hi there! You looking forward to having a little sister to play with?"

"Da ba yah goo!" he replied. Yuka waved goodbye and walked over to the stairwell.

Ranma pulled open the door. "Hey, Akane, didn't the doctor say I was due in the middle of January?"

The three walked out onto the sidewalk. "That's right. I just don't want Yuka to be calling us up every night in January and asking 'Is it there yet?' After it's over, we can always tell her that it came early."

"Oh yeah. That's a good idea. I remember what she was like last time. Hey, let's get to the store. I wanna buy some more of that ice cream that I like. You know, the one that has chocolate and peanut butter ice cream, and inside there's cookie cups, marshmallows, fudge bits, cereal pieces, three different nuts, M&Ms, ..."

"I know the one you mean. Mousse tracks. Go easy on that stuff, Ranma. You don't want to get fat."

He lightly patted his stomach. "Hey, I'm getting that way anyway." He chuckled. "Hey, did I tell you I felt the fetus moving around? Not much, kinda just a little fluttering back and forth. Like--" He stopped talking as he noticed someone concealed in the evening shadows behind Akane -- someone with an arm raised in an attack position, about to strike!

He vaulted over a nearby trash can into the air, estimating in a fraction of a second how much more push he'd need because of his extra unbalanced weight. His feet slammed into the attacker, with more force than finesse, sending whoever it was crashing down onto the sidewalk.

"Wha--" Akane saw the situation, and glowered. "What the hell are you doing, Ranma?"

"This guy was ambushing you! I stopped him. Don't say 'thanks' or nothin'."

Akane looked down at the attacker's face. "Ranma, this is Hakano! I can handle Hakano! You aren't supposed to be fighting in your condition! Do you want to lose the baby just because you had to show off?"

"Whattaya mean, 'show off?' I know you can handle this guy. Heck, against him I'd even give Gosunkugi fifty-fifty odds. But you didn't see him coming!"

"So what's wrong with saying 'Look out, Akane?'"

"Ummm... I didn't think of it?"

"Damn it, I'm not some incompetent who's just there to be protected! I'm a martial artist! And until this is over, you aren't! So remember that!"

Hikaru stared at his parents with a wide-eyed expression of fear and uncertainty. To Ranma, he seemed to be saying, Are my parents going to be fighting with each other like this for the rest of my life?

Ranma gazed back at his son, and answered wordlessly. Probably.

They finished the trip to the grocery store, without much to say to each other.


A few weekends later, Ranma and Akane made another trip to the north, and Kasumi once again let the ghost take over her consciousness. Ranma didn't feel like he had much to say, so he sat while she and Akane talked.

"I lived in a town known as Xi'ning, until Father passed away. His dying wish was that I be wed to Yang Wei, the farmer's son."

"But you're a girl, right?" Akane asked. "Wouldn't that make you part of the Yang family?"

"To my father, it did not matter. My brothers had perished because of disease, and all that was important was that his bloodline would not die. At first I hated the idea of marrying a stranger, but I said nothing. To protest would have been to dishonor my father. As Wei and I got to know one another, though, we came to truly care for one another."

Akane gave Ranma a funny look. He decided to ignore it for now.

"Wei was a good man. Unfortunately, he had a certain amount of trouble performing his... duties as a husband. Thus we were unable to produce any offspring. Hearing tales of a charm possessed by a tribe of Amazons to the west, I set out to travel there along with a caravan of merchants."

Ranma interrupted. "I can guess what happened next. Very tragic story. Right?"


"Well, I don't care! It's not my problem! Do you understand that?!"

She stared back at him impassively.

Ranma threw his hands up in frustration. He felt as if he were talking to a brick wall. He wanted to smack her across the face, just to get her to listen to him. But she was speaking through Kasumi; Kasumi, not the ghost, would be the one hurt if he got violent. And even if that weren't true, he didn't think he could bring himself to hit her. Something deep inside him actually felt sorry for her.

He stormed out of the room. He'd have her baby. She hadn't given him any choice about that. But he didn't have to be happy about it. And he didn't have to talk to her.


The moist sting of a full bladder prodded Ranma awake. He dragged himself out of bed towards the bathroom. The digital alarm clock read 2:52 AM; about the usual time for nightly bathroom break number two.

He sat himself on the toilet. Being pregnant obviously did strange things to the human body. Besides having to use the bathroom twice a night, his legs were cramped, his back hurt most of the time, and he was farting so often that he figured he could provide enough natural gas to heat the entire building. As if that weren't bad enough, some yellowish liquid had been dripping from his nipples, and something white from his bush. The doctor said just to wash and not worry about it. Easy for him to say.

Flushing the toilet, he stepped over and looked at the ugly, misshapen thing in the mirror, with the gigantic belly protruding out in front of it. He had heard Pop refer to his pot-belly as a spare tire. By that standard, Ranma was carrying an entire auto parts store.

It was sobering to think just how much he took his body for granted -- never thinking about how easily something could go wrong with it. And once it did, you couldn't just go down to a body shop and pick up a new one. The one you start out with is all you get. Unless you went to Jusenkyo, of course, but that sort of thing is more trouble than it's worth. In his mind, he knew that he'd be back to normal after the baby was born; Akane had had one the year before, and she was in better shape than ever. But he'd believe it when it happened -- when he was back in his trim, non-pregnant, male body.

Then, what kind of kid would he have? He had told Akane what the doctor had said about the dangers of inbreeding. She didn't know what to do about it any more than he did. All they could do was hope that nothing important would go wrong, and to deal with it if something did.

He remembered having wondered what it would like to be unattractive. Now you know, he told himself. Funny that the gods hardly ever listened to him -- but when they did it was always when he wanted something stupid. He wondered what Shampoo, Ucchan, and Kodachi would think if they saw him like this. They'd probably all find other guys to marry the same day. Not that that would be a bad thing, but it still didn't exactly make him feel good.

He waddled back out to the bedroom. Akane looked up from the futon. "Can't sleep?"

"Uh huh," he mumbled.

"Neither can I." She pulled back the covers invitingly, her sheer negligee shimmering in the dim light. "Think we can find something to do while we're awake?"

Ranma slipped into position next to her. She slid her body close to his, moving over until she lay on top of him. "Don't crunch the fetus!" he said.

"The baby will be okay," she purred. Ranma stroked his hand leisurely through her hair. Where short-haired Akane had been cute and comfortable, long-haired Akane was vivacious and vital, a force to be reckoned with.

Their mouths met in a long, slow caress. For Ranma, it was like something out of a fairy tale. A magic kiss that transformed the ugly monster back into a desirable human being. If he had to be pregnant, he was so very glad that she was there to help him through it.


The small group of travelers trudged along the dusty trail, over hill after barren hill. The sun beat down on their backs, driving them on like a taskmaster's whip. Each day's scenery looked the same, and there was no way to tell whether they were getting any closer to home. Just keep going. That was all there was to do.

He tried to remember why he had come here, what the point of this seemingly endless journey had been. It was the package that was hidden under his coat. He couldn't remember what it was for, but he had to get home with it. It was the most important thing in the whole world.

Faster! Faster! he wanted to yell. But somehow, he couldn't make any sound. They wouldn't listen to him anyway; he was sure of that. They might even make him go ahead on his own, and rural China was a dangerous place for a woman to travel alone.

Man, he corrected himself. Even pregnant, I'm still a man! Don't you forget it!

He looked again. The caravan had come to a halt. Pantyhose Taro stood ahead of them, blocking the trail, flanked by a gang of men with weapons. One of them he recognized as Hakano. Those jerks! I'll show them! But Ranma's body refused to charge forward for an attack. It would only stand in the back, and hope that they didn't notice him.

Pantyhose spoke something that Ranma couldn't hear. Weapons were shown threateningly, and the men of the caravan began to turn over their valuables. No! He wasn't going to give up the package!

Quietly, slowly, he stepped back. He would get away, maybe hide somewhere until it was all over. Just get around to the other side of the hill, that's all it would take.

"Hey!" Hakano pointed at Ranma. "Get back here, girl!"

For a moment, Ranma froze. Then he bolted, running as fast as his legs would move. It was his only choice. He couldn't seem to fight, not in this place.

He kept running, not daring to look behind him. His heart pounded. Akane. He had to get back to Akane. She'd be able to help him. But where was she?

Something solid caught Ranma's foot. The world went into slow motion as his body plummeted unstoppably forward, crashing prostrate into the ground.

As he struggled to rise to his feet, he noticed a drop of colored liquid on the ground. No, not a drop, a puddle, and it was dripping down from inside his coat. No! he screamed silently. Not the package! But what was it?

He opened his coat and took off his shirt. From where he had struck the ground, there was a hole in his abdomen, a rip in his body from which a pink and white pus poured like water out of a faucet. His abdomen, his big, pregnant belly, was shrinking, collapsing like a punctured tire.

"My baby!" The fluid seeped into the ground, disappearing from view. Ranma pounded on the dirt with both hands as he cried, "Give me back my baby!"

For minutes? hours? days? he knelt, smashing his sore, soiled fists into the ground. There had to be some way to get back what was stolen from him, the only thing he'd ever wanted in life.

All at once, he noticed that he was alone, and it was dark. He couldn't stay here. He had to go find Akane. She'd know what to do.

He moved. Suddenly, he found himself not walking but swimming, through a vast black sea. He desperately held his breath as he flailed around in the water, trying to figure out which way was up, as the air inside his lungs struggled to escape....


He took in his surroundings slowly, barely breathing until he was sure that he was back in his apartment, and not really drowning. Akane lay next to him, slumbering peacefully, barely making any sound at all.

Ranma didn't often remember his dreams, but this one was clear in his mind; and as he thought about it, he understood what he had just seen.

He pulled his bloated body back, and sat up. There were things that had to be said.

"Look, ghost... Lili... I think you can hear me. There's a couple things I gotta tell you. I still wish you hadn't knocked me up... but... I don't hate you. Maybe I should. I probably got a right to. But that just ain't the way I am, I guess.

"I'm sorry you lost the chance to have a kid. I can imagine how I'd feel if something like that happened to Hikaru. It must really suck to have to go through what you did. It must suck too to be a ghost, not being able to do anything except hang around and watch.

"Why don't we make a deal. You don't screw up my life any more than it already is, and in return... in return, I'll have this baby for you. Akane and I'll take care of her, and do everything we can to make sure nothin' really bad happens to her. That sound fair?"

There was no answer. Of course, there couldn't be. But he'd gotten his message across.

"Ranma?" Akane abruptly stirred, and stretched. "What are you mumbling about?"


She smiled at him. "You know what they say about people who talk to themselves, don't you?"

"Yeah." He grinned back at her. "They marry crazy people."

"Well, I'd have to be crazy to put up with you, wouldn't I?" She gave him a quick, playful hug as she stood up. "I'll check on Hikaru if you get started on breakfast. That sound fair?"

Ranma nodded, and began to drag himself off the futon.


By January, Ranma was more than ready for his pregnancy to be over. He went through each morning wondering whether he'd be in a hospital bed giving birth by evening. He was barely able to keep track of anything else that was going on in his life; he missed a History quiz by forgetting what room the class was in.

He came home to find his mother in the kitchen with Akane and Hikaru. Nodoka scrubbed some barely-perceptible dirt from the stove top as Akane watched, quietly fuming.

"Hi, Mom!" Ranma said. "Nice to see you! Why don'tcha sit down and relax, and we'll get you a cup of tea or somethin'."

He bent down to Hikaru. "Hey, big fella! How's the man of the house doing today?" Right away, he wished he hadn't said that, at least not around his mom. Then he caught a whiff of an unmistakable smell. "Uh, I think someone here needs to have his diaper changed." He took Hikaru by the hand. "Be right back."

"I'll help you," Akane said. "Excuse me, Mrs. Saotome."


In the bathroom, Ranma peeled off the old diaper. "Ugh, what a stinkburger!" He threw it into the bag for dirty ones, keeping his head turned away. "Too bad there isn't an Anything Goes Martial Arts Potty Training technique we could use here."

Akane chuckled slightly as she took a clean diaper from the cupboard, then went back to looking pissed off. "How long is your mother going to be hanging around here?"

"I dunno. Look, she don't mean no harm. Anyway, you're a good housekeeper. Not as good as Kasumi or someone like that, but hardly anybody is, y'know? You're sure a lot better at it than you are at cooking, anyway."

"You sure know how to give a compliment, don't you?" She slugged him in the arm, but without much force. "But... thanks."

He pulled Hikaru's pants up over the clean diaper, and zipped them up. "There you go, champ. Actually, I feel sorry for Mom. It's not like I've been much of a son to her."

That seemed to surprise Akane. "What do you mean, 'not much of a son?'"

"Akane, look at me!" He pointed at his inflated breasts and abdomen. "Do you see a son here? Hmm? Do you? I've got a damn bra on, for gods' sake!"

Akane patted her son on the back. "Hikaru, go and find your grandma, all right? Daddy and I need to talk about something."

"Gramma! A da bah!" Hikaru scampered out into the kitchen, and they heard Nodoka greet him. Akane closed the door behind him.

"I'm sorry, Ranma. I guess things like wearing a bra must make you really uncomfortable."

"Actually, no. Not anymore. It used to. The first couple times I had to even touch women's undies, it made me gag. It doesn't bug me like that anymore. What bugs me is... that it doesn't bug me."

She stared at him curiously.

"Akane, I'm a man! I like being a man! I like hanging around with Hiroshi and Daisuke and trading dirty jokes. I like to belch loud just for fun. I like being able to kick ass and enjoy it. Not that I got anything against someone being feminine, even when it's really a guy like Tsubasa, but that's not me."


"And I don't wanna lose that. I don't wanna lose who I am. What if I wake up one day and it's men's clothes that make me gag?"

"Ranma...." She smiled with narrowed eyes as she held his hand. "Ranma, you just remind me so much of myself."


"When I was young, I was always getting into fights over one thing or another. I thought there was something wrong with me. I thought it meant I'd never be able to be dainty and ladylike and wear frilly dresses like other girls."


"So, maybe I was being stupid. Maybe there's no reason we can't be one way one day, and the other way the next. Maybe you're a man and a woman, Ranma. What I'm trying to say is... maybe we're all a lot bigger than we think we are."

Ranma hesitated, as if waiting for some unknown cue, while Akane smiled at him. Then they fell into the warmth of each other's arms.

Akane kissed him, and grinned. "Of course, if you wanted to cut down on the belching, that'd be okay with me."


Ranma and Akane came out to find Nodoka sitting on the couch. their son on her shoulder. "Are you being nice to your grandma, Hikaru?" Akane said.

"Oh, he's just a little angel." Nodoka tweaked the giggling toddler's nose. "Are you sure you don't want me to stay here and take care of your apartment while you're in the hospital?"

"That's not really necessary, Mom," Ranma said. "This place ain't exactly high-maintenance."

"We are counting on you and the grandpas to look after little Hikaru, though." Akane smirked. "He's definitely high-maintenance."

Ranma sat down in the old, ragged chair across from Nodoka. "Mom, I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"For what?! You always said I should be a man among men!"


He pointed down at his stomach. "Take a look, Mom. Here's your man among men! He's gonna have a baby any day now. Makes you sorry you let me out of that seppuku promise, don't it!"

"I...." She stared ahead, her eyes unreadable. "I can't pretend that I'm happy about this. But a pregnant son... this is simply beyond my understanding."

Nodoka paused, as if searching for something to say. This was a difficult situation for her to deal with, Ranma realized; maybe it was as hard for her as it was for him.

"Ranma, for better or worse, the gods have chosen to make you what you are. I cannot fathom their plan. I can only hope they will grant you the wisdom with which to make the right and honorable choices; for it is beyond me."

"Aw, Mom.... urp." Ranma suddenly felt something wet splash down from his body into his underpants. "Um, 'scuse me, I gotta go to the bathroom and change clothes."

"What's wrong?" Akane asked.

"I dunno. Some water or something just came out of my body. I'll never figure out all this pregnancy stuff." The two women stared at him with odd expressions, as if there were something very basic and obvious that he wasn't understanding.

"Ranma, your water has just broken," Nodoka said.

"Well, what the heck does that mean?"

"It means that it's time to call the doctor."

Ranma belched.


Not long after, Ranma, Akane, Hikaru, and Nodoka arrived at the hospital. They were met by Genma and Soun at the admissions desk, where Ranma had to spend long minutes filling out a form.

They told him that what he was having were called contractions. He vaguely remembered Akane having had them last year. They had been coming about every quarter hour in the beginning, but by now there was one every five minutes. They felt like gas pains, only a hundred times worse. The only thing he could really compare it to was eating Akane's cooking, back in the old days when she didn't know the difference between soy sauce and tabasco.

After the paperwork, they moved him up to a pretty normal-looking hospital ward. He was put down on a bed that was separated from a lot of others by a white curtain. A nurse told him to take his clothes off, and gave him a really ugly-looking thing to wear; it wasn't much more than a single piece of cloth that tied in the back, too small to cover his back properly.

For a while, various nurses and other people in lab coats swarmed around his bed. They checked his temperature and blood pressure and told him that he was doing just fine. One nurse even came by to shave him. He told her that he didn't need to shave while he was a woman, and she explained that what she was talking about was a little different.

Among all this, the contractions kept coming, kept getting more frequent and more painful. Ranma wondered why in the world they kept dicking around with tests when he could be having a baby at any minute.

Soon the nurses and others seemed to disappear, and Ranma was left alone with Akane. They shared the only reading material available, a seven-month old copy of Obstetrics Today that they had found on the table. When they realized that the magazine had nothing of interest, they counted the squares of ceiling tile to pass the time.

All of the sudden, Akane shouted in happy excitement. "Ranma! Look at this!"


"Look!" She showed him the folder from the pocket on the side of the bed. A page with his name typed on top was filled with handwriting that was pretty much illegible. "According to this, your blood type is O!"

"Well, hooray for blood type O. So what?"

"Don't you remember last year when we donated blood? Your male form is type A." She was bursting with excitement, and Ranma couldn't figure out why.

"How about that. Sure hope I never need to give myself a transfusion."

"Dummy, dummy, dummy. Remember from Biology class? Blood type is determined by genetics. It means that your genes are different in female form. They're probably Lili's."

"You mean... no inbreeding? No genetic diseases and deformities? We're gonna have a normal kid?"

"Mm-hmm!" Akane beamed at him.

"Yeah!" Ranma wanted to leap a hundred feet in the air. His kid -- their kid -- was going to be normal. She was going to have a normal chance in life. He leaned over to hug Akane.

Then he fell back into bed, as a contraction ripped through his body, stronger and more painful than the ones before.

Please... please make it stop, he cried in his mind to any power that might be able to hear. I'll convert to religion... Shinto... Catholicism... worshipping the cosmic cheese grater... anything you want. Just make it stop.

Akane held onto his hand. It had seemed so much easier the year before when she had been the one having the baby. She had just gritted her teeth, and let angry determination carry her through. At that moment, Ranma had new respect for his wife.

Then the white curtains were pulled back. A team of orderlies had arrived with a gurney. It was time to go to the delivery room.



An enormous lamp blazed down a blinding light from the ceiling directly above. Ranma lay on his back on a table, with his butt-cheeks against the edge. His legs were raised and held up by stirrups, and his arms were strapped down. All in all, it was something like a bicycle rider's position, but upside-down.

He could feel the fetus inside him, ready to be pushed out. It felt as if he had been constipated for the last nine months, and he was about to shit the biggest brick of his life. Not a nice way to think about your own kid, really. But given the circumstances, she'd probably be able to forgive him.

None of that was what Ranma was complaining about, though.

"I don't wanna be put under. Just do what you gotta do!"

Akane, in a surgical mask, leaned over and glared at him. "This is no time to be stubborn, you jerk!"

"I'm not bein' stubborn! It's just that... it's not good for the kid! 'When you take drugs, your baby does too!'"

"Don't be an idiot, Ranma! These doctors know what they're doing. It's perfectly safe!"

"Oh yeah? Last year, you had Hikaru without being put under. If you can do it, I can!"

"Yes, but I trained for it, you jerk! I had Lamaze classes!"

He tried to think of a snappy comeback. "I don't care!"


It was his mother's voice. Ranma fell silent.

"Let them anesthetize you, son. It's the manly thing to do."

"Huh? O- okay, M-...." Whatever he was going to say trailed off, as a mask was put in front of his face. He breathed in, and blackness swallowed him.


Akane's face was the first thing Ranma saw as he woke. He moved his head slowly, feeling a lightheaded buzz. His thoughts were sluggish, but seemed to be clearing.

Seeing that he was awake, Akane leaned over him and whispered in his ear. "Congratulations, Mr. Saotome, you're a mother."

He tilted his chin down to look at his body. He was thin again! He still didn't have the perfect figure that he'd had a year ago -- his body obviously had more changes to go through before getting back to normal -- but it was a world of difference from when he had been put to sleep.

"We did it!" he shouted as loud as he could, which at that moment was about normal conversation volume.

"We sure did! Bet you can't wait to get that spell taken off so you can get back to being a man, huh?"

"Hmm, I dunno." The idea of being a man again was appealing, but he didn't feel desperate for it. "It'd probably be good to stay a woman for a month or so. Y'know, 'til my body gets back to normal."

"Good idea. Better not to take chances with this stuff."

He looked at his stomach again, savoring the idea of getting back to a trim, attractive body. "Check this out, Akane. I'm getting my figure back much quicker than you did!"


"Yeah! And my kid's gonna be a lot cuter than yours, too! And you saw how much better I looked in those maternity clothes. And..."

"Ranma, you can be such a jerk sometimes!" She cracked her knuckles. "Hurry up and get back to normal. You obviously need some sessions of extensive behavioral therapy!" Through it all, he could see that she was fighting back laughter.

"Excuse me," a nurse said, "but there's a little visitor to see you!"

Ranma turned his head. "It ain't Happosai, is it?"

"Oh, no." The nurse laughed politely, and pushed over a portable crib. "Just someone looking for her mother and... er, mother." The baby was red and wrinkly with a lopsided head, but she was the most beautiful thing Ranma had ever seen in his life.

"She's beautiful," Akane said.

"That's just what I was thinkin'." Ranma took the sleeping baby into his arms. After a few minutes, he passed her to Akane. "Say hello to Mommy!" He leaned back in the bed exhausted, as if he'd just fought a long battle. In a way, he had; maybe the longest one of his life; and with a little help, he had come out the big winner. Okay, make that a lot of help.

Akane hummed quietly as she rocked the baby back and forth. "What should we call her? We need to think of a name."

"I know exactly what her name is. It's Ririko."

"That sounds nice. How'd you come up with it?"

"Easy. It's for 'Lili's Child.'"

Ranma gazed at the new life he and Akane had brought into the world, and smiled contentedly as he began to drift off to sleep. Finally, he could rest. He hoped Lili could, too. Hopefully she and her father would find a little peace and happiness.


The SERIES EPILOGUE follows after the following long-winded

For those who were confused by "Ranma no bake," it's a play on words. "Bake" in Japanese indicates a ghost or spirit, as in "bake-neko" (ghost cat). I hope I don't need to explain "Mousse tracks." :) The opening quote is a reference to Rumiko Takahashi's answer at a convention to what would happen if Ranma got pregnant. "I won't ask, and neither should you."

It's finally time to put the HaM Preludes to bed, nearly four years after the first one was originally written. When I first conceived the Hearts and Minds series, which was to take place several years after the manga, I was faced with two choices: either write a continuation fic detailing our heroes' lives during the intervening years, or just start the series and fill in the backstory as it went. Given all the changes and developments that needed to happen between volume 38 and HaM 1, the latter approach was problematic, and besides, I had story ideas for the interim that were worth writing.

The particular format for the preludes was inspired by a project called Reunions; a series of fanfics, each by a different author. I settled on the idea of doing ten preludes, each one giving the main spotlight to a different character (or pair of characters), each more or less readable on its own, but fitting together into a tighter continuity than was possible for a multi-author project like Reunions, and all leading up to the main story.

Of course, getting this done took far longer than I'd anticipated. About halfway through the preludes, my output rate slowed down drastically. Most of this was due to "real life" commitments which sapped my time and energy -- but I also like to think that I began to craft my words more carefully as I started to understand the differences between mediocre and good writing.

Fortunately, I was lucky enough to receive the able assistance of many, many people. First, the regular prelude prereaders (Matt Posner, Krista Perry, Yoiko, Adrian Wong, Lara Bartram, Dave Eddy) and the sometimes-prereaders (Keener, Blade, Jorath, Donny Cheng, Megane 6.7, and I hope I didn't forget anybody). Secondly, the many, many readers who sent comments, criticisms, encouragement, MSTings, information, and/or gut reactions, positive or otherwise. A heartfelt thanks to all of you. The feedback that I got from you is what kept me going on this series when it became difficult to find the time; neither this fic nor its author's writing skill would be what it is today if not for you.

- Gary Kleppe
April, 2001



Shan Pu stood at the door to the Tendo Training Hall.

She had never bothered much with doors in the old days. If a wall, or other obstacle, got in her way, she smashed through it. Maybe that was what Amazon training had done to her -- or maybe that was just the kind of person she was. In any case, the direct approach wouldn't work anymore, if it ever had. She needed allies to protect her home. If they would come with her at all, the only way would be of their own free will.

Her heart sank to the pit of her stomach as she thought about what she was trying to do. She was asking for help from people who had every reason to hate her. You want us to join your battle? You, the girl who chased Ranma across China trying to kill him? The one who used memory-erasing shampoo and hypnotic mushrooms on us? Sure, we'll join the battle, all right. Where do we go to sign up for the other side?

The truly ironic thing was that she really did love Ranma. So much so that rather than kill him, she went back home and accepted the punishment of a Jusenkyo curse -- a punishment that by law she couldn't be given the cure for until she succeeded in marrying him. Maybe she had known back then that the curse would be hers forever.

Yes, Shan Pu had loved Ranma -- but she had had no idea what to do about that love, how to relate to him in any way that did more than cause him trouble. That was the only way to even get his attention, and every time she did it had only made him think worse of her.

But there was much more at stake now than the love of a foolish young girl. More even than her life, and the life of the sisters she grew up with. All of Amazon culture was in danger of being wiped out. Whatever its shortcomings, Amazon culture was what had made Shan Pu everything she was. While there were clearly things that the Amazons needed to learn from the rest of the world, so too did they have things to teach. Shan Pu would fight to defend her heritage as long as breath remained in her body, even if she had to do so alone.

Slowly, reluctantly, she slid open the door. Voices echoed from inside. A lot of voices. She closed the door behind her and moved forward.

Ranma sat next to Akane, who had a tiny black pig on her lap; it looked like the cursed form of Hibiki Ryoga, but couldn't have been, because he was present as a man. The couple's fathers played a game of shogi off to one side, as Ranma's mother watched as if to keep them from cheating. Tendo Kasumi stood nearby, speaking with a baggy-eyed boy who Shan Pu didn't know.

Tatewaki conversed boisterously in one corner with his leotard-clad sister. Nearby, Mu Si and Ukyo spoke with two others. The Amazon recognized them as skaters, but didn't remember their names. Next to them was someone who looked like a cute young woman, but who Shan Pu remembered was actually a boy.

Akane noticed the Amazon and waved. "Shan Pu! Look, everybody! Shan Pu's here!" The others turned and shouted enthusiastic greetings.

Tatewaki bowed to her. "Fair Shan Pu, our fighting force is assembled in your hour of direst need." He looked back at the others. "Warriors, for the young lady and her people, stand we united?" Arms rose in unison along with bokken, clubs, and spatula, as shouts of "Yes!" resounded through the house.

"Hey, there's something I've always wanted to say." Ranma vaulted over to Shampoo and bowed.

Shan Pu eyed him curiously. "Ranma?"

"I am Saotome Ranma," he said. "My friends and I are here to help your village."