"Yeah, that'd be great. See ya then, bye!"
Ranma put down the phone and sighed, hoping things would go well for a change, when Akane came down the stairs.
"Who was that?"
"Oh really." Akane knitted her brow. "What'd she want?"
"Nothin' actually. I wanted somethin' from her," Ranma carefully replied.
"Oh really now," Akane repeated. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Hear me out, 'Kane. I invited her to go out for some ice cream later today, so we could maybe talk about our relationship."
"Your... relationship with Shampoo?"
"I don't think she sees it the same way I do."
"And so you call her to go out for ice cream. Real smooth, jackass."
"Well, I was going to invite you to come with since we need to talk about our relationship too but if you're gonna call me names..."
"Then why'd you invite her first?"
"Cos I just came from over there, the phone's here, and your room's up the stairs over there."
Akane couldn't argue with the logistics and shrugged. "Does she know I'm coming?"
Ranma nodded. "'Course, we both know she's gonna try 'n hug me again the moment she sees me. Especially if she sees you cos it'd get a rise outta ya. Could you do me a favor when that happens, 'Kane?"
"When she does, instead of gettin' angry about it, grab her by the neck for me."
"By the neck? Like a cat?"
Ranma twitched a little. "Yes, exactly like that. It's somethin' Kasumi came up with. Think it's got somethin' ta do with her curse form, like leftover influences or somethin'. Like when I walk past a boutique with all 'em mannequins in the display window and I catch myself lookin' at their dresses 'n such?"
"You do that?"
"I've wondered about that for a while now, but seein' Shampoo react like that helped me figure it out. Besides, don't you?"
"Yeah, but I'm a girl. I'm allowed to look at the dresses in the window!"
Ranma looked Akane straight in the eyes. "So am I damn near half the time, and it fuckin' lingers."
"Y'know what? I might as well say it. This one time, I nearly put on some a' my girl clothes before I realized I was a guy at the time. Just... bam, din' even think about it."
"You're wearing girl clothes right now," Akane remarked.
"True, but I also am a girl right now so it works out."
"And you undid your braid." Akane poked at the relatively simple ponytail resting between the redhead's shoulder blades.
"Nothin' to worry about there, 'Kane. Just felt like it. Y'wanna change into somethin' cuter for this little not-date?" Ranma asked, indicating Akane's school uniform.
"Whose treat is this anyway?" Akane asked as she turned back to the stairway.
"Mine. Now go, we're supposed to be there in five!"
Kasumi sat in the park, relaxing with one of Dr. Tofu's medical books in hand. She watched all the other people pass her by as she thought back about all the things that had happened.
Akane had snapped, taking Kasumi's motherly concern as romantic intent. Kasumi couldn't really help it at the time -- Ranma's girl form was quite small, even after almost a year of growth. She imagined what could've happened if Ranma had stumbled into Nabiki's arms instead, then remembered last time Nabiki had taken over the engagement. Maybe the second time would go better. Maybe it would be more... honest?
She paused and nibbled on one of Ryoga's stroopwafels that she'd brought along.
Kasumi had been very happy with Ranma's domestic help, and grateful for all the extra free time it gave her. After that encounter with Shampoo, she'd teasingly started calling Ranma the same thing Shampoo always did. She was a little concerned at how quickly it became less and less of a tease...
Ranma certainly seemed impressed when Kasumi removed Shampoo from him, though. And he was an excellent teacher. Maybe not as good as her father, but certainly better than his. She rightfully figured there was no risk of being repeatedly dropped into a pit of starving cats.
"Ni hao, airen! You and Violent Girl wait long?"
"Nah, we got here like... what, half a minute ago? Right 'Kane?"
"Just about, yeah."
As expected, Shampoo glomped onto Ranma and buried her face in the smaller girl's breasts. Akane twitched, but remembered her promise. She roughly reached into the warrior's flowing purple tresses and found her neck. True to Ranma's words, the larger girl went slack in Akane's grip and was easily pulled off her unwilling paramour.
"Thanks, 'Kane. Shampoo, this is the kinda stuff I wanted ta talk to ya about actually."
"Akane, you can let her go now. I think you're causin' an instinct conflict or somethin'."
"Anyway we went ahead and ordered for ya," Ranma remarked as a server came up to their table with three large bowls of ice cream, all different. "Hope I got this right."
"Airen got right, yes. Xiexie."
"May wendy. Now then! Akane, did you know Shampoo has a very special way of huggin' that ya can't get out of without touchin' her in bad places?"
"Is true. Old technique Shanpu learn from mother. No let go without touching Shanpu boobs."
"It wouldn't be so bad if not for two simple problems. One bein' that if I were to get out with you watchin', you'd actually have more reason to knock me out."
"Well yeah, if you were to touch her like that..."
"'Cept I make a point not to! I hoped at first you'd see that Shampoo's the only one actually doin' anythin' but ya keep pinnin' it on me and I gotta ask, why?"
"Is because Violent Girl is see what wants to see?"
"You could at least call me by name. So you're telling me that you don't enjoy her rubbing herself all over you?"
"I'll be honest with ya, 'Kane. Any warm-blooded man would enjoy a pretty lady all over 'em."
"Y'know girls can like other girls, right?"
"Of course! Shanpu from village of woman warriors. Lots of female go around."
"But we gettin' sidetracked here. Thing is, I would enjoy it a lot more if Shampoo didn't wanna haul my ass back to China, and didn't have a crapload a' other fiancees who'd get jealous over it. Like I told Kasumi... Shampoo, if I didn't have that crapload a' other fiancees and I'd been a guy when we first met and I kicked yer ass back then?"
"You accept kiss of marriage and stay in village as Shanpu husband?"
"Pretty likely. 'Course, Pops'd probably try 'n bail, basically kidnap me so we can go back to Japan 'n meet up with the Tendos 'n all that... but you'd actually be in th' best position then!"
"But you didn't. You were a girl back then, right?"
"Yeah, I figure spendin' a couple months being hunted to death kinda... what was it I told Kas? It kinda sours a relationship."
Shampoo, to her credit, seemed a bit ashamed as she gazed at her ice cream.
"But y'know what Shampoo? I'm willin' to let all that slide."
"You what!? She tried to kill you, Ranma!"
"I know. And yet I'm willing to forgive and forget all a' that."
Kasumi put away her book and considered the past few days some more. She had the sinking feeling that she was being a little naughty. Not like that time she was possessed and played painful but ultimately mostly harmless pranks on the family, not that kind of naughty.
It was the bad kind of naughty.
The exhilarating kind of naughty.
The kind that made her want to not look away when her fiance stood up in the bath. The kind that made her want to take that showerhead she'd looked at instead, and wash away the feelings in a more... figurative way.
She squirmed in her seat on the bench and straightened out her dress. At the rate she was going, Ranma wouldn't be a cute little girl when she -- he slept in her room, in his own futon...
He'd be his usual self. Handsome and strong. She'd the be little spoon as he held her close at night, sharing the bed, with his...
Blushing, Kasumi stuffed the rest of her stroopwafel in her mouth and ran (for a certain womanly definition of running) home.
She had a date with a showerhead.
"So I figured, since there's no way that's gonna happen, and I do like your company, it might be nice ta jus' drop the whole kiss a' marriage bullshit and jus' be good fuckin' friends."
"I hope for your sake that last bit was just for emphasis, Ranma."
"Great grandmother already talk of give up. Is no way even she convince airen to come with. Last time you go to China, you kill Saffron! 'Impress' is too soft word."
"Ugh, don't remind me."
"Oh yeah, that whole thing. I could've sworn I heard you say you loved me."
"Is okay, stupid prince alive. But Shanpu understand. Will use 'airen' like Nice Girl use, maybe?"
"I think Kas actually started to mean it, but I get whatcha mean. And maybe give the normal kinda hugs?"
"Chehehe. Vio... Akane right, is pervert!"
"Eh, maybe I am, see if I give a shit. Anyway, 'Kane? What's the deal with you?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean how every time ya see me in even the least embarrassing situations, you immediately seem to conclude I'm at least as bad as the ol' lech and attack me for it. Cos I assure you, nine outta ten I ain't do nothing. Sometimes literally. Like say f'r instance I get knocked the fuck out with a big-ass rock and stumble blindly into Kasumi's arms?"
"You were gr--"
"No, I wasn't. Nabiki and both our dads confirmed it for me after, I was doin' nothing. Okay, I had my face all up in Kas' boobs, but look at me Akane, I'm a head smaller than she is when I'm like this. Where else was my face gonna end up?"
"Well... my boobs, maybe?"
"But Akane not tall enough, unless ai-- Ranma fall over lot."
"Thank you, Shampoo. I got more examples if you want 'em, 'Kane. Or would you rather skip ahead to the forgive-forget part?"
"Oh my," Kasumi sighed as she put the showerhead back on the hook. "That didn't help at all."
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