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. Just in case anyone might be misled by the name: this story has absolutely nothing to do with Pioneer's "Tenchi" series.

Thanks to the FFIRC Hour Challenge crew for their comments on the earlier drafts of this. All feedback is welcomed.

"Welcome to Ucchan's. I'll be with you in a minute, sugar."

Tenshi nodded as he sat at the counter. "Sure. Thanks." The waitress who'd greeted him poured a cupful of dough onto the grill; it sizzled and steamed as she patted it into shape with a spatula.

He ran his eyes furtively across the restaurant, making mental notes of the possibilities. A dead mouse in the kitchen. An anonymous call to the health inspector. It would be easy. The place would be shut down within days, and the owners would never have any clue who was responsible.

But that wasn't what he was here for.

The waitress stepped over to him. "What would you like, hon?" Her uniform was complete with about twenty mini-spatulas in front, plus a giant one in back. Cute. He'd always said, gimmicks like that make the customers remember your restaurant and keep coming back. Especially when the waitress had the face and body that a guy doesn't forget.

"Gimme the deluxe," he said. "And a beer. And tell the owner that I'd like to have a word with her." He nodded toward the woman in the kimono, obviously the owner, who stood on the other side pouring tea for another customer.

"We don't have any beer," she answered with a smirk. "And I happen to be the owner, sugar." She poured another cup of dough on the grill, and it began cooking.

"Are you, now. Well, well." He shifted lazily on his stool, lowering his voice. "Got a little proposition for you, miss restaurant owner."

"The name's Ukyo," she said a little warily. "Ukyo Kuonji. What'd you have in mind, mister customer?"

He dug into his pocket and pulled out a business card. "Here."

She scanned the card. "P. Tenshi, business consultant? That's a little vague, honey. What kind of consulting do you do?"

Tenshi took a second look at the young woman. Long, silky ebony hair, held in place by a ribbon, cascaded down past her flawlessly perfect face and ample chest to her narrow waist. Four stars. No, five. Five stars meant that a babe was gorgeous enough that he'd do it with her then and there, in front of everyone.

"I'm into public relations," he said. "For the right price, I can increase your market share. How would you like to have every customer in the whole area going to your restaurant, and only your restaurant?"

She flashed a patronizing smile. "I don't think I could handle that much business, sugar."

"How'd you like to be the only game in town? To be able to raise your prices as high as you like, and leave people with no choice but to eat here?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Are you saying--"

The door chime tinkled. A teenager shambled in. Big muscles, tight buns, pretty face. The kind of guy that women always go nuts over. And sure enough, Little Miss Restaurant Owner got one look at him and lit up like a game machine that somebody had just put a coin in.

"Ran-chan!" She hopped over to greet him, dropping Tenshi's card on the grill where it began to sizzle, smoking as it quickly blackened and crumbled. "How are you doing?"

"Oh, y' know." Pretty boy rubbed a bruise on his cheek.


He nodded.

"Why'd she do a thing like that?" she cooed.

"Um... because I called her a flat-chested un-sexy tomboy whose cooking ain't fit for worms," he answered. "Some people just can't take a joke."

"I know how it is." She sighed. "How about an okonomiyaki? Guaranteed to take your mind off Ak--, I mean, off your troubles."

"Yeah, that's what I came for." He handed over some cash. "Make it two. Akane and me sorta ruined tonight's dinner when our practice match got outta hand."

"Coming right up!" She sounded a bit exasperated. Obviously, she wanted to be more than just a waitress to pretty boy. The age-old story. Girl meets boy, girl gets the hots for boy, but girl over on the next block has bigger you-know-whats.

Glancing back at Tenshi, the waitress flipped an okonomiyaki in his direction. It slid across the counter, stopping precisely in front of him. "Enjoy, sugar. Then leave. I don't think we can do business."

Tenshi smirked. "Your loss, honey. Maybe one of the other places in the area will be interested." He saw her flinch slightly at that, then shrug dismissively.

"Hey, Ucchan!" pretty boy called. "Is my food ready yet? I gotta get goin'!"

"Um... yeah, Ran-chan." The giant spatula swung into action. "I'll just box it up for you."

The kid stared down at his coat for a minute, then looked up at her. "Flowers?"


"For Akane. Think it would work? I thought about chocolate, but then I'd be too tempted to make fat jokes."

"Um... sure, Ran-chan." She flipped the two okonomiyaki into boxes and folded them up with practiced precision. "Every girl likes getting flowers."

"Great! Maybe I'll try it." He swatted her on the shoulder playfully. "Thanks, Ucchan!"

For a moment, the owner seemed about to explode. "Damn it!" Then she took a deep breath and calmed down, at least outwardly. Professionalism. Tenshi had to admire that.

Leaving payment on the counter, he stood up. "See ya later, honey." Soap operas were fun, but none of his concern. If he wasn't going to find a job here, he'd have to look elsewhere.

He'd barely pushed the door open, when he felt a tug on his sleeve. "Wait," the owner said in a hushed voice.

Tenshi turned around, and grinned. "You want to hire me after all, hm?"

"Yes." She took a nervous breath. "But not for exactly what you had in mind...."


The last few customers trickled out of the restaurant. Tenshi leaned against a stool, his legs stretched across the adjacent one.

"I gotta admit, this isn't the kind of work I usually do. Taking out somebody's business competitors is one thing. But helping you catch a husband...." Sure, he was used to trying to win his way with the ladies, but he'd never had to succeed with any particular one. He'd just give it his best try, and if one girl didn't warm up to him, just move on to the next. It was the same way in business. You only had to convince a certain number of customers; if one particular person was too stubborn, that didn't matter as long as you could make the majority see it your way. But this was a whole different ball game.

Her indignant glare told him that he'd said the wrong thing. Or at least said it the wrong way.

Okay, so maybe changing the subject would be a good idea. "This Ranma of yours... he got other women after him, or just you?"

"Ran-chan attracts suitors like a flower attracts bees," she said, confirming what Tenshi had already thought. "There's a gymnast from St. Hebereke high who's been chasing him for quite a while. Besides that, there's Shampoo, who you might have seen if you've been to the Cat Cafe. Those are my main competitors."

"The woman from the Cat Cafe?" Tenshi recalled the withered old crone who had served him there on Monday, and his stomach fluttered. "She's interested in him?"

"Uh huh. And she doesn't have a lot of shame when it comes to showing it, either. She's been known to sneak naked into the shower with him, or into his bed while he's sleeping."

An image of that stringy-haired, gnarled lump of flesh cuddling under the covers with him, and Tenshi had to fight back the urge to spit out the food he was chewing.

"I guess if you've got it, you might as well use it," Ukyo said wistfully. "I can't deny being a little jealous when I look at how built Shampoo is. I mean, what girl wouldn't want a bod like hers that would make any guy look twice?"

"Once was enough for me," Tenshi sputtered. Just what kind of taste in women did this Ranma have?

"Ran-chan would be happier with me than any of them, though. I know he would." She sighed dreamily. "I hoped you'd help convince him of that. But now I'm just wondering what I was thinking. Maybe this whole thing is a mistake."

"Oh, it isn't." Tenshi smiled. "If you've got the cash to offer, I'll get the job done."

"All right, then," she said, obvious unease coloring her voice. Little miss high-and-mighty, he thought with a chuckle, embarrassed to have to deal with a scumbag like me. She was no different than he was. Not really. Some joker comes into her restaurant and plunks down five hundred yen for an okonomiyaki, and she delivers the goods. The guy could be an axe murderer for all she knows, and all she cares is how big a tip he leaves when he's done. That's all it's about. You pay, and I play. It's what business is all about.

Tenshi dropped his feet to the floor and straightened out his back. "As far as this little... ad campaign... is concerned, there's two ways you can play it. Positive, or negative. Positive means you tell 'em how wonderful your own product is and how much it'll enrich their lives. Negative means you attack the competitor's product, you tell them how bad off they are 'cause they didn't buy yours instead."

"Hm." Ukyo put a hand to her chin. "Which do you think we should do?"

"Well, your boy's got other women chasing him. So going negative against the lead contender isn't gonna help if someone else comes in to pick up the slack. No, I think we need to take the high road on this one, at least to begin with." He tapped the counter with his chopsticks as he thought. "Problem is, it's not like we can go out and buy TV time for this campaign. We do this, we've gotta do it somewhere where mister prettyboy is going to see it."

"Like what?"

"Hmmm... he and you go to school together?"

"Yes, we're in the same class at Furinkan."

"Then we're in business. Give me a couple of hours to type something up, and then we'll get things moving."


"A script?" Ukyo flipped through the typed sheets of paper. "'An Okonomiyaki With Love And Dreams, To Go?'"

Tenshi nodded. "It's about a poor, depressed high school student who gets crapped on by his family and most everyone else. Finally he gets up, and runs away with his only real friend, who just happens to be an okonomiyaki restaurateur, and he lives happily ever after."

She handed it back to him. "And you're going to make Ranma sit through this?"

"Are you kidding?" He grinned back at her. "He's gonna STAR in it. So are you, babe."


Vice Principal Tsumaranai of Furinkan paged through the expense reports on his desk, resisting the urge to tear out what was left of his hair.

Five hundred thousand yen to build a simulated jungle in the basement? How was he going to explain this to the school authorities? Yet if he didn't find some way of reconciling the budget, there wouldn't be anything left to pay the faculty. Not to mention the administrators, a certain one of whom had a wife and two daughters at home, counting on him to bring back a paycheck that they could use to put food on the table.

Damn it, he thought. If only--

The intercom buzzed.

"Yes, Mishoko?"

"There's a gentleman to see you, Mr. Vice-Principal. He says he's with... er, 'Tenshi Dramatic Productions, Inc.'"

Tsumaranai shrugged. Sure, why not? "Show him in, please." He took a soothing sip from his coffee mug.

The door opened. "Good morning, Mr. Vice Principal," the man said. A curvy moustache topped his rather sunken face.

"Good morning, Mister...."

"Tenshi." He handed over a business card. "My company is interested in having your school put on a play that we've written."

"You'll have to speak to Mr. Kunren about that. As drama club advisor, that decision is his call, and I don't like to micro-manage my people."

"... and we're prepared to offer compensation to your school." He proffered a sheet of paper.

Tsumaranai scanned the numbers on the page, and caught his mug before the coffee could spill in his lap. "Then again, what is an administrator if not a hands-on participant in the school process?"

"There is one stipulation, though," Mr. Tenshi cautioned. "Due to... insurance regulations... we must require the lead part in the play to be performed by...." He pulled out a sheet of paper and began reading as if quoting directly from it. "'... a martial artist whose initials are R.S.'"

"That's... quite an unusual stipulation." Sweat beaded onto Tsumaranai's forehead. "But not a problem for us to meet, not at all."

Mr. Tenshi smiled. "Didn't think it would be."


"Now listen up!" The voice of Drama Coach Kunren resonated through the room, with such force that it nearly shook the walls. "This next scene is a tender dramatic moment featuring the character played by Ms. Nikai! It is to be acted with subtlety and tenderness! Is that clear?"

"Yes, teacher," replied aspiring actress Yuka Nikai.

"I can't hear you!"

Yuka thrust her head back and her chest as far forward as it would go. "Yes, teacher!" she said, more loudly than before.

"All right, then! On the count of three, you will commence acting! One! Two! Three! Act! Act!"

The rehearsal commenced. Tsumaranai watched intently from a chair in the corner of the room. Kunren, of course, was Furinkan's former soccer coach, one of the teachers sent to the United States by the principal to study and adapt their teaching methods. Nobody quite knew what school he visited -- if indeed it was a school -- but the approach he brought back went over so well with the students that, by the end of his third week back, none of them were willing to play on the team anymore. What to do with him then? Put him in charge of the drama club, a certain genius in the school administration, whose name Tsumaranai very much hoped would go unmentioned, had said; he can't do any real harm there. Aaaargh.

Kunren swaggered over to where the play's star sat on the floor. "Mister Saotome!"

"Yeah, what?" Ranma Saotome cast a brief glance upward, then returned his attention to the booklet in front of him.

"Do I take it that you are reading your lines from the script? Are you not aware that all participants in this play were required to have memorized their lines by oh-fifteen hundred hours on the day before yesterday?"

"I did learn 'em," Ranma replied. "But then I forgot 'em again. Sorry, pal."

"You should rehearse as a girl," Ranma's friend Hiroshi chipped in from his desk at the side of the room. "It's been scientifically proven that women have bigger memories." He laughed.

Kunren turned on him angrily. "Since you find this so amusing, Mister Chapatsu, you can just drop and give me twenty soliloquies! Now! Move it, move it!"

Complying, Hiroshi fell into a squat and began mumbling lines to himself.

"Now then, Mister Saotome, I expect your dialog in this play to be fully and completely memorized by tomorrow's rehearsal time at oh-sixteen hundred. Am I making myself reasonably clear with this?"

Ranma rolled his eyes. "Yeah, whatever."

"I can't hear you!"

"Maybe you oughtta get a hearing aid or somethin', man," Ranma offered helpfully.

A hand touched Kunren on the shoulder, defusing his imminent explosion like a pin reinserted into a grenade. He did an about face and saw that it was Tsumaranai who had tapped him. "Sir!" His hand flew into a salute, a gesture of respect that left the Vice-Principal nonplussed.

"Go easy on him," Tsumaranai said in a hushed voice. "We can't afford to risk him walking out on us. The whole pay-- er, play depends on him."

"He's got to learn his lines, sir."

Tsumaranai pondered for a moment, and an answer came to him. "Maybe he doesn't."


"Look," Ukyo said, "I know I agreed to pay you expenses, but I don't have that kind of money."

Tenshi smiled. "Relax, honey. You're not paying for it. Our sponsors are."


"Yeah." He pulled out a cigarette from his pocket, but Ukyo's dirty glare convinced him not to light up until they were outside. "I arranged it with several different companies. They give money to us, and in exchange their products get promoted during the play. We're actually gonna end up ahead on the deal."

"We are?"

"Yeah. Well, I am, anyhow."

She shrugged. "Well, I just hope it works."

"No worries." Tenshi moved to the door, holding it open for her. "If this doesn't change your lover boy's mind, we'll do something else. Advertising's a hit and miss game."

"Konatsu," Ukyo called up the steps. "We're going now!"

The kimono-clad transvestite zipped down the stairs. "You can count on me to handle things here while you're at the play, Ukyo-sama!"

"Thanks," she said with a bit of an uneasy edge in her voice. "Remember, because I won't be here cooking, I'm letting you give all the customers a ten percent discount." She eyed him warily. "*Ten* percent. Not fifty percent, not a *hundred* percent. You got that?"

"Of course I understand what ten percent means, Ukyo-sama." He bowed. "Enjoy your play!"

"Thanks!" Smiling and waving, she followed Tenshi out the door.


Ukyo watched as block after block houses rolled by past the taxi window. "Y'know, we coulda walked to Furinkan, sugar. It's not all that far."

"I don't really like walking." Tenshi puffed on his cigarette, filling the back seat with clouds of white and gray smoke. "If I can't go first class, I don't go. You know?"

Ukyo replied with a noncommittal grunt, leaning her head against the cracked-open window so that the narrow stream of fresh air blew into her face. Why anyone would want to inhale something that smelled like toxic waste, she couldn't fathom. At least he was doing it in the cab, not her home. Though she'd probably have to wash her clothes right after the play to get the smell out.

A large, black sedan pulled past on the right. Tenshi took one look at the driver and, with a panicked look, immediately crouched his head down.

"Who was that?" Ukyo asked idly.

"Oh, nobody," Tenshi answered, his voice quavering.

"You always duck out of sight every time nobody passes?"

"I, uh, thought it looked like some guys I knew once. Some guys who I, er, borrowed money from once, and haven't been able to pay back yet. But it's probably not them." He chuckled nervously. "I mean, running into those guys would be what, a million-to-one shot."

Tires squealing on the road, the black car U-turned and sped up as it began to pursue the taxi. "Tenshi!" one of the men inside shouted angrily.

"Okay, maybe a thousand-to-one." Tenshi knocked on the glass panel that separated the passengers from the driver. "Hey, if I were you, I might wanna lose those guys."

As if to punctuate the statement, a bullet whizzed by the cab's rear view mirror. "Huh?" The driver's bugged-out eyes looked momentarily from side to side, and then he slammed the accelerator pedal to the floor.

Acceleration-induced gravity shoved Ukyo against the back seat. "Who the hell are they?" she snarled.

"Yakuza." Tenshi tentatively lifted himself up. "If I'da known they were so strict about payment due dates...."

"You borrowed money from the Yakuza?!"

"Hey, I'm an entrepreneur!" Tenshi answered, regaining some degree of dignity. "I need start-up capital. Sure I'd rather go to a bank, but they won't give you nothin' unless you can prove that you don't need it. Buncha crooks, they are."

More bullets zinged by as the cab dodged and weaved through traffic. Ukyo glanced up ahead. They were hurtling at breakneck speed toward a major intersection, and her stomach tightened as she saw the light change to red.

She squeezed her eyelids shut. I can't look... can't look... oh, Ran-chan....

Horns blared in protest as the shrill screech of cars braking filled the air. Ukyo ducked her head, certain that any moment she'd hear the slam of metal against metal, followed by the side door of the cab crushing into her body, and that would be that. But the sounds of cross-traffic receded, and she opened her eyes, surprised to see the world still there. Oh gods, we made it, we made it!

Then she glanced in the rear view mirror. The black car was still behind them, approaching nearer and nearer.

"Okay," Ukyo said, rolling down the window. Enough was enough. "Turn right at the next intersection," she told the driver as she plucked a pair of mini-spatulas from her bandoleer.

The taxi veered to the right. Ukyo watched as the black car neared the intersection, beginning its turn. The mini-spatulas flew from her hand, toward the car's two right tires.

"What the--" a voice shouted from the car as it skidded, swerving involuntarily, spinning, finally slamming into a telephone pole.

That'll teach 'em, Ukyo thought with satisfaction. Tenshi cautiously lifted his head up and looked around, letting out a sigh of relief which Ukyo felt as well. It was over!

Abruptly, red and blue lights flashed behind the cab. The driver pulled over, slowing to a stop.

A policeman emerged from the car behind and walked forward. The cab driver offered his license. Ukyo rolled down her window. "Hi, officer. Sorry about all that, but in case you hadn't noticed, those men in the black car were trying to kill us."

"Evening, Miss," the policeman said in an all-business voice. "You were the only passenger in the cab?"

"Me and--" She glanced left just in time to see Tenshi slip out of the cab, the door closing quietly behind him. "Er, just me and my imaginary friend. Oyku says hello to the nice policeman."


"Oh, how miserable a life I lead," Ranma recited, with all the passion and energy of a patient reading the chart at the eye doctor's office. "If only someone could show me a better way." A chorus of sympathetic sighs issued from the audience.

Vice-principal Tsumaranai watched from backstage. "I think we're going to get through this," he muttered for about the tenth time, thanking the gods that he'd come up with the idea of letting Ranma read his lines from cue cards. A stroke of brilliance if ever there was one. If he'd had to memorize them, they'd have had to keep rehearsing for months.

"But if I must lead such a terrible existence," Ranma continued, "at least I have my Game Station! Game Station offers the finest graphics, the most innovative and challenging games, and all at a reasonable price. Order Game Station for the game lover in your family today!"

A woman in the front row sniffled. "Oh, what touching drama!"

"And an enriching educational experience for our youth," the man next to her added.

In the rafters high above, Hiroshi motioned to his friend. "Next card."

"Here ya go," Daisuke said, handing over the cardboard sheet on which the next page of the script was written in large, bold type. "Hey, isn't that Yuka's sister in the third row?"

Hiroshi looked. "Oh yeah. Isn't she in college now? Damn, but she really fills out that sweater." His eyes remained glued to the sight as he absently moved the new cue card to where Ranma would be able to see it.

Yuka entered the stage. "What's this?" she said to Ranma with venom in her voice. "I thought I told you to scrub the floor!"

"!noitats emaG ym toN" Ranma answered. "!t'nac uoy tuB"

"I don't care about the windows! I think you've been spending too much time with that toy of yours." Yuka sneered at him. "Until you've finished your chores, I'm taking it away."

"...em dlot uoY .tsrif swodniw eht od ot dah I" Ranma paused, looking expectantly upward. "Yo! Hiroshi! Gimme the next card, willya?"

A voice from behind startled Tsumaranai. "Sir!"

The vice-principal turned, and had to quickly duck to avoid being smacked in the face by Kunren's salute.

"We may have a problem here, sir," he said matter-of-factly.

Tsumaranai sighed. "What now?"

"One of our dramatic personnel is currently AWOL, sir. Miss Kuonji was due here at oh-nineteen-fifty hours and still hasn't shown up. That makes her--"

"--over sixty hours late. Bloody--" For a moment, honorable suicide seemed like a favorable option to Tsumaranai. "Can't we get someone else to take the part?"

Kunren produced a clipboard and started scanning it. "I don't think there is anyone else, sir. All personnel are presently accounted for."

Tsumaranai's mind raced. "Wasn't there an extra stand-in for last year's play? Some girl who showed up from out of nowhere at the last moment?"

"Yes, sir, there was, sir."

"I don't suppose by some miracle she'd be available and willing to help us out?"

"Yes, sir."

"Really?" Tsumaranai blinked in surprise.

"That person is right here, sir, and has no objection to participating in this play. I know that for a fact, sir."

"All right! What's her name?"

"Ranma Saotome, sir."

Tsumaranai muttered some choice words under his breath.

"Sir, we--" He glanced down at his clipboard. "Wait, there is one other possibility, sir. It's--"

"I don't care!" Tsumaranai blurted out, then lowered his voice to a whisper, hoping he hadn't interrupted the actors. "Just get someone out there. Anyone!"


Ukyo panted breathlessly as aching legs carried her up the steps and through the backstage door. "I'm here," she managed to force out. "When do I go on?"

"Four minutes ago," Kunren said, shooting her a dirty look.

"Sorry," Ukyo said feebly. "Gimme half a second to change, and--"

"I'm afraid we've had to let someone else take your part," the Vice-principal said. "I'm sorry. The show had to go on, as they say. I know how much this role meant to you, but...."

You don't know the half of it, buster, Ukyo thought, then slumped her exhausted body down into a nearby folding chair. Well, it was a stupid idea anyhow. As if Ranma would be persuaded by being in some silly play. She sat, listening to the voices from the other side of the backstage curtain. Ran-chan's, and... one other. A voice that Ukyo knew well.


She took a deep breath. If she had to do this, she was going to get it over with. Her eyes flashed toward the cue card long enough to get her line, then back toward Ranma. "Have I not been your only true friend through all these years?"

Ranma turned his head towards the card. "Oh, what a happy day, when--"

"Not that line!" his fiancee whispered. "The one before it!"

"Can it truly be true? You must believe me! I would never ever insult you or--"

"That one's mine, you blockhead!" Akane shouted. "Can't you even get something as simple as this right?"

"Um, oh yeah." He cleared his throat. "Sorry."

"You must believe me! I would never ever insult you or be rude to you."

Backstage, a certain okonomiyaki chef began banging her head against a wall.


Ukyo's mood instantly brightened as she approached her restaurant. A line of customers stood outside her door, extending for over a block. Wow. She'd had no idea Konatsu's cooking was that good. Maybe she wasn't doing any better with Ran-chan, but if business was going to be this good from now on, she almost didn't care.

She walked in as Konatsu accepted a bill from a customer. "One vegetable special. That's normally five hundred. With our ten percent discount, it'll be fifty yen. Thank you, and please come again!"

Ukyo let out a muffled scream. Ten... percent... discount....

"Is something wrong, Ukyo-sama?"

"I'm sorry," she announced to the line of customers, "but the discount is over. From now on, the food will cost you full price." The waiting customers grumbled a bit, and most of them filed out.

Konatsu looked back with innocent puppy-dog eyes. "Did I do something wrong, Ukyo-sama?"

Ukyo sighed. "Look, I'm sure your heart was in the right place. You obviously meant well, but... let me explain something."

"Yes, Ukyo-sama?"

The clang of the spatula against his head echoed through the restaurant.

"You have such a way with words, Ukyo-sama."

Ukyo turned, and noticed Tenshi sitting at her counter, stuffing his face. "That idea of yours turned out to be a loser, hon. And what was that business between you and the police, anyhow?"

"Mmm." He paused to swallow the food in his mouth, washing it down with a swig of water. "Play didn't do the job, eh?" he said, ignoring the second question. "No big deal."

"Oh, really?" Ukyo glared at him forcefully. If he didn't consider the job she was supposedly paying him for a big deal, there wasn't much point in continuing the arrangement. Maybe she would just give the police a quick call and let them take care of things.

"Yeah," he said, unperturbed. "There's plenty more to try."

"What did you have in mind?" she asked cautiously.

Just show him the door, some voice within her was screaming, but she couldn't bring herself to do it. The kind of stupidly carefree self-confidence that he had somehow made it nearly impossible not to believe in him. And who did that mean the stupid one was?

Okay, she'd give him another chance for now. As distasteful as it was to be working with a person like this, she had to admit she needed the help that he might be able to provide. If there was *any* chance that he might be able to sway Ran-chan towards her favor, she had to take it. Nothing else mattered.

"Well." He set his plate and glass onto the countertop, looking her directly in the eyes. "I think it's time we went negative."


A voice answered the telephone. "This is Dr. Tanaka. How can I help you?"

"I'm calling to report a person who I believe to be mentally ill and dangerous," Tenshi said. "Someone who I think might need to be restrained, for her own safety as well as others'." *And to scare her pretty-boy fiance right into the arms of my client so I can get paid,* he added to himself.

"What makes you think this person might have an illness?"

"Well, she, um, hits people. Especially this guy who she's engaged to. She's always accusing him of cheating with other women, with no real cause, and beating him up for it." Or so Ukyo had said. Tenshi, of course, had no idea whether it really was that bad, and couldn't care less. Like any other good contractor, his policy was "Don't ask, don't tell." All that mattered was getting this doctor out to the Tendos'.

"I see. Do you suppose this, er, friend, of yours would be willing to testify to what you said?" His emphasis on "friend" made it clear what he really thought, which was fine with Tenshi; it'd just make it that much more likely that his story would be believed.

"Um, no, I don't really think so."

"Okay. That'll make it a bit more difficult for us to proceed, but we can send someone over to investigate. Where does the young lady in question live?"

"Nerima. Near Furinkan... hello? Hello?!" The dial tone buzzed in his ear.

Okay, he thought, Plan A goes down the shithole. No problem. We'll just go with Plan B....


Kasumi slid open the door. "Oh. Why, hello!"

"Good affternoon, Madam." The man with the thick black glasses and moustache offered a business card. "My name is Doctor Heinrich Tenshi. I am a psychiatrist. You haff vun Akane Tendo living here, no?"

"No. I mean, yes. We do." Kasumi let out an embarrassed giggle. "A psychiatrist? How interesting! Would you like some tea? I can tell you what I think the leaves look like. That's always such a fun game."

"No thank you, Madam." He stepped inside, hefting a rather large briefcase. "I vould like to deescuss vith you certain reports that haff reached my desk concerning zis Miss Tendo."

"Certainly," Kasumi said. "Won't you come wait in the living room? I'll go see if Father is available."


The portable film projector chattered noisily as it dispensed its images onto the wall of the Tendo living room. The occupants of the house gaped in muted shock as one proverbial train wreck after another unfolded before their eyes.

"Oh my gods, Ranma... this is horrible! Look at all the blood!"

"C'mon, Akane, it's just a movie. Whoa! I didn't know you could do that with a regular kitchen knife."

"Oh my. Oh my."

"All a matter of practice and technique, boy. Right, Tendo?"

"Undoubtedly, Saotome. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to urp use the rest room for just a moment."

"Oh my."

Black and white frames flashed by in rapid succession, signaling the end of the film. The lights came on. "I hope zis vill impress you mit ze zeriousness of zis matter," the doctor said. "Zese patients you saw vere all sufferink from a rare, incurable mental illness named... er, illness zat ve haffen't come up mit a name for yet. Most of ze time, zey may appear to be perfectly normal. Zen, vun day, ze illness flares up, und bang!" Akane flinched noticeably. "Ve got vun more candidate for ze funny farm, und probably zeveral for ze morgue."

"Oh, c'mon, Akane." Ranma swatted her upper back. "You ain't some kinda psychotic maniac. Okay, so you're violent, and tomboyish, and you get mad at every little joke, and... um, I forgot what point I was trying to make here."

Her hand balled up into a fist, and then fell to her side as her head dropped down.

"Look, what I mean is, um...." Ranma stared across the room at the doctor, who was conversing with Mr. Tendo. "Hey, doesn't he look familiar? I swear I've seen him someplace before."

"Ran-chan, you'd better listen to what he has to say!" said Ukyo, who had come in with Konatsu while the film was running. "Akane needs help!"

Ranma's eyes narrowed. "Don'tcha think it's weird, this guy showing up here all the sudden? I think there's something fishy going on here."

"Well, it wasn't 'all of the sudden.'" Ukyo paused, as if struggling with some inner conflict. "I called him."

"You did?" Ranma scratched his head. "How come?"

She threw her arms open. "Ran-chan, I'm shocked to find out that there's hitting going on here!"

"Ranma? Akane?" Mr. Tendo called from across the room. "I think you should hear what this doctor just told me." They walked over, leaving Ukyo and Konatsu behind.

"You called someone about Akane, Ukyo-sama?" Konatsu asked innocently.

"Yes, I did," she answered with what attempted to sound like conviction. "Don't think... don't think what you're thinking!"

He blinked. "What I'm thinking?"

"Look," she said. "I'm only doing what any good friend would do. This is not some attempt to scare Ranma away from Akane. She has a real problem! You've seen the way she hits Ranma, haven't you?" He nodded. "She needs help! And if I didn't help her get that help, what kind of friend would I be?"

Understanding seemed to dawn in Konatsu's eyes. "I-- I never saw it that way before!" He nodded deferentially. "Thank you for explaining it to me, Ukyo-sama."

Ukyo smiled at him. Turning away, she drifted over to where the others were talking.

"Now I am zure zat zis vill be a difficult experience for novun morezo zen ze young voman's fiance," the disguised Tenshi said. "But zis boy is obviously made of strong stuff." He slapped Ranma on the back. "Most people, vhen faced vith ze reality of zis horrible illness, vould be out ze door at ze first chance. Many of zem vould deem it stupid, insane, even suicidal to even conzider remaining together mit zeir afflicted bride. But zis lad hass ze integrity, ze character, to remain loyal to his bride-to-be, even vhen it means his zertain death!"

Akane's mouth opened as if about to retort. Abruptly, she turned away and stormed out the sliding door.

"Hey!" Ranma called after her. He followed before Ukyo could say anything, flashing Tenshi a dirty look on the way out.

"I must be goink. Sir? My card." Tenshi reached over to hand Soun a business card. "Please call me und schedule an appointment vor ze young lady."


Akane didn't turn around, "Just leave me alone. Okay?"

"Dammit, Akane... you're just lettin' that guy get to you. I mean, yeah, okay, you hit people. So what? I mean, it don't make any difference. Not really."

"How do you know that?" she said, her voice cracking slightly.

"Well, because you may be violent, but you know your own limits. You hit me, yeah, but never hard enough to actually do any serious damage, and never will."

She grunted unintelligibly. A carp splashed through the surface of the pond in front of them, then dove back down into the water.

"Look, I'll prove it to you." Grabbing her by the shoulders, he spun her around to face him. "Hit me. Right now. C'mon. As hard as you like."

"I'm not in the mood," she huffed.

"Yes, you are." He fingered his chin. "C'mon. Right here. I can take it."

"I said no!"


"What did you say?!"

"I said, you're a flat-chested tomboy with zero sex appeal. You got a problem with that?" He smirked. "Oh, and your cooking is toxic waste. Now whaddaya gonna do about it, huh?"

For a moment, everything was silent. Then a predatory smile crept onto Akane's lips. "What am I going to do about it?" she repeated, taking a single step toward him. "Here's what."

Ranma grinned. He was going to get what he asked for.


Ukyo stepped outside, nearly bumping into a crumpled mess of human flesh that, an instant later, she recognized. "Ran-chan! Oh my gods! Are you... are you all right?"

"I'm fine," he mouthed as he stumbled inside. "Fine and dandy."

She shook her head, briefly considering running in after him, but decided against it and headed back home. She had to give him time. If this didn't make him see things Tenshi's way, then what would?

It took only a few minutes for her to arrive at her restaurant, with Tenshi following wordlessly behind her. A police van stood parked outside it. The officer in the driver's seat looked up through the opened window as she approached. "Ms. Kuonji?"

"Yes, I'm Ukyo Kuonji. Can I help you, officer?" Ukyo cast a glance behind her; predictably, there was no sign of Tenshi.

The door on the passenger side opened, and another officer came out. "Ma'am, we're here investigating some reported domestic abuse."

Ukyo smiled. "Oh, great! I thought you weren't going to show up at all!" Her voice lowered to a whisper. "I hope you can get Akane the help she needs."


Ukyo eyed the officer warily. "Akane. You know, the person committing the domestic abuse? Not that it's anything she can help, of course...."

"Ma'am," the officer said in the just-the-facts tone that police usually used, "the complaint isn't against an 'Akane.'"

"It isn't? Then who's it against?" But the stern gaze of the officer answered her question. "Me? But who--"

"The complaint was filed by a Mr. Konatsu, ma'am. I'm going to have to ask you to come with us."

"By-- you have to be kidding!" Ukyo shouted as the police ushered her into the back of the van. "Konatsu!" The door slammed shut, and the already-running engine shifted into gear. "Konatsu!"

From the window above, Konatsu watched the van recede down the road. "I'm sorry, Ukyo-sama. I haven't been a very good friend to you before now. But I will be, from now on."


Stepping out from cover, Tenshi uttered some choice words. How could everything have gone so wrong? His client was in police custody, and her transvestite ninja cook would probably run her restaurant into the ground before she got out. Not only that, her pretty-boy friend is still with his other girl -- in fact they were probably closer than ever.

It all pointed to a very clear lesson:

Always insist on payment in advance.

He'd be sure to remember that with his next client.


A silent, steady rain drizzled down from under a prematurely gray sky. Ranma followed his usual route to school, soaked-through blotches of shirt clinging to his female body, while Akane walked below, the small umbrella she carried keeping her completely dry.

"It's been pretty quiet around here lately," she observed.

"Yeah, I s'pose so. Shampoo's taking her dad on a tour of Japan before he goes back home. Dunno where everybody else is."

Ranma stepped onto the next section of fence top, and his foot slipped involuntarily forward. His arms and legs flailed about wildly for a moment. Then, balance regained, he continued along as usual.

"Y'know, I still wonder about that doctor who showed up a couple days ago," he said. "I could swear I saw him at Ucchan's last week, only without the glasses."

"It was probably just someone who looked like him, that's all."

"Maybe." He hopped down to the ground. "Anyhow, he's gone now, so I guess it don't matter."


The young man in the martial arts outfit nodded. "Very well. In truth, I like not to trust my important business to underlings, but you have convinced me of your worth. How soon can you start?"

"Right away." Tenshi shook the man's hand. "You've made a wise decision, Mr. Kuno. With me working for you, that pig-tailed girl will be *begging* to date with you in no time."

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Yes, I'm actually releasing a finished fic. Yay. :) This one was written piecemeal at various Sunday night hour writing challenges on the FFIRC, though I did revise and add some material after getting to the end. Probably not my best comedy work, but I hope it was good for a laugh. Please let me know what you thought.

The character Tenshi was inspired by Stuart Margolin's "Angel" on "The Rockford Files," hence his name -- though as I started plotting the story, Tenshi developed in a very different direction. For those interested, other work I've got in progress right now includes the long-delayed chapter six of Hearts and Minds, and another comedy one-shot, "The Master's Underthings."