An idea that popped into my head and refused to leave. It will weave
somewhat back and forth within my other Marvel Cross, "Change of Phases"
in later time, but I thought I'd see what others thought.
This story is set in the same world as �Change of Phases�, starting
roughly a year before the beginning of �Change of Phases�. This is also
based on the premise brought up in Gregg Sharp's �The Bet: Crippled�,
and it is recommended the former be read to understand the setup. The
characters involved, save for �Paladin�, are the creations of either
Rumiko Takahashi, Naoko Takeuchi, and Marvel Entertainment Co.
Chapter 01 � A Warrior Reborn
The scent of antiseptics hung heavily in the air. Ranma stared down at
his useless legs as he waited, hoping to hear from either one of the
older Tendou daughters or his mother. What really drove him nuts was
that his legs ached. He could not move them, he could not feel them when
he touched them, but they ached nonetheless.
How in the hell could his legs hurt? He couldn't feel the damn things,
except for the pain. It was truly maddening. More than the waste bag,
more than the whispers from doctors discussing his condition in pitying
tones, it was the pain that just plain shouldn't have been there.
One of the doctors finally got around to stopping the verbal tap dancing
and explained his condition. None of it was encouraging. Complete
paraplegia, and they were not entirely sure if he was able to control
his waste functions. He had gone from one of, if not the best martial
artist in Nerima, to someone who wasn't entirely sure they had full
control of his own bladder and bowels.
A woman stepped into the room, providing a grateful distraction from his
problems. At least, for a moment. He only barely recognized the face,
but the stony expression upon her face made him wish even that
recognition was gone. To make it worse, were the woman's eyes. A
sickened horror shined, the only other emotion that could be seen past
the cold. Ranma was about to open his mouth to greet the woman, before
she turned around and stepped out the door.
Ranma's eyes closed. He would not let the tears come. The door opened
and closed but he did not respond, even when a familiar voice called
out, �Who was that?� It sounded as if there were something else she
wished to say. Ranma opened his eyes to a familiar face, framed by brown
�My mother,� Ranma whispered, drawing a frown from the girl. �So what
brings you by, Nabiki? I sort of doubt pictures of me will sell all that
well,� he said in a voice that tried to be scornful, but only ended up
Nabiki flinched. �I guess I deserved that one,� she replied as she sat
down next to Ranma. �No, I came here to apologize,� She admitted. �If I
had known this was going to happen, I wouldn't have been such a.. um...
Oh hell, I was a bitch.� She said frankly, staring at the ground.
Ranma blinked. �Ok, where's the real Nabiki?� He asked.
Nabiki sighed softly. �I deserved that one too. I guess after you were
hurt, I... Um.. well, I had to take a good look at myself. I guess I
didn't like what I've become. I don't know why I'm telling you, except
that perhaps I need to tell someone or I'll just lose it. And you
deserve to know, considering what I've put you through since you got here.�
Ranma sighed softly and rubbed his face. �I'm sorry, Nabiki. Hard to be
good company considering. But I guess I know how it is to have to look
at yourself and not like what you see.� His eyes wandered to his legs.
Nabiki nodded softly. �Let me guess, don't know what you're going to do?�
Ranma almost glared at her. �What can I do? I sure can't do the art
anymore, and I don't have anything else.�
Nabiki looked at him with a bit of her own glare. �So you just want to
sit there, stupid and crippled?�
Ranma growled, his aura almost flaring to life weakly. �What did you
Nabiki stared back. �I'm calling you an idiot cripple who gives up at
the first sign of trouble.� That aura burnt brighter. Behind her
expression, Nabiki was barely keeping herself from running, losing
bladder control and/or screaming. The expression, however, was utter
stone. �Unless you want to prove otherwise and make something of yourself.�
Ranma growled and softly. �I'm going to make you eat those words, Nabiki.�
�You want to? Then do it,� She said. She was more than a bit worried she
was pushing the wrong buttons, but she also knew she would have to do
something to get Ranma moving.
Ranma sat up, holding himself up with his arms. �I will! I'm not going
to let you or anyone mock me!�
Nabiki scowled, then smiled in both relief and happiness. �Good.�
Ranma blinked then frowned. �You played me.�
Nabiki shrugged. �It's getting you off your butt, so to speak,� she sat
back down next to him, taking his hand. �Ranma, if nothing else, I want
you to do this for you, not to challenge me or anyone else. That won't
last. Doing it for yourself will.�
Ranma grumbled under his breath, before sighing. �I guess you're right,
Nabiki. And I'm sorry.�
Nabiki shook her head. �Don't be, Saotome. So, how long are you going to
be here?� She asked before looking for the medical chart at the foot of
the bed. �Well, looks like about three days.� She looked up at Ranma and
said, �I've got some work to do to get ready then. I'll see you tomorrow
Ranma nodded. �Alright, thanks,� he said softly, then with a quiet
voice, �I guess I'd better get started... could you um... bring my
Nabiki replied, �Will do, Saotome.�
The next three days went by in a very unusual way for Ranma, calmly, and
with some surprisingly welcome companionship. Nabiki managed to be
relatively nice, even with her struggling to tutor him in a seemingly
futile attempt to catch Ranma up to people several years behind him. And
then day three came, and Ranma was cleared after appointments were set
for every week.
Nabiki wheeled him into the house. It was then that Ranma wished to be
somewhere else. Anywhere else. Soun and Genma were seated at the shoji
board, studiously ignoring Nabiki and Ranma. Akane was nowhere to be
found, and Kasumi's greeting seemed just a tad off. Ranma didn't seem to
notice the last, but Nabiki gave Kasumi a slight frown, before wheeling
Ranma to the guest room. �Think this is going to get ugly, Ranma.�
Ranma looked at her. �The old farts? I noticed,� He said, sighing softly.
�Kasumi doesn't seem to be taking it too well either,� Nabiki commented.
�I guess we'll just have to do what we can.�
Ugly was putting it mildly. Genma and Soun refused to acknowledge
Ranma's existence, while Akane could not, or perhaps would not conceal
the disgust at Ranma's condition, though both Ranma and Nabiki noticed
the hint of fear and guilt she did try to hide, maybe even from herself.
Kasumi was at least relatively nice about it, concealing the discomfort
she showed before about Ranma's condition.
Class was worse from the very beginning. Kunou made mocking
proclamations of his superiority over the crippled sorcerer, and did his
best to block Ranma's way to school. It was only the threat of
bankruptcy from Nabiki that backed him off. Ranma couldn't get anywhere
without hearing whispers and pitying looks. And finally, to top it all
off, having to watch all the students at PE.
The only thing that made it bearable, disturbingly enough, was his time
with Nabiki's tutoring, because it seemed that it was the only time that
he was not in the company of people who either hated, ignored, or
gossiped about him. The only ones who seemed to have any praise for his
increased studying were Nabiki and his instructors, who were somewhat
surprised that it was Ranma who was doing so well, though the less
polite thought that he had to do something since he was finished as a
After a few days of the same thing, however, Nabiki noticed Ranma's
expression becoming more and more worn, the seemingly indefatigable
energy Ranma always showed had gone. A week later, his first doctor's
appointment seemed to hold the only good news he had had in ages. It was
unlikely for him to ever recover his movement, but at least it was found
that he could control his excretory functions, a disgusting if quite
welcome victory. No more waste bags, even though now he had a new
challenge of climbing into and out of toilet stalls at school.
After the appointment, however, even the slight relief of the good news
left him as Akane tried to both glare at him and ignore him at the same
time with his arrival to dinner. He was becoming more and more frazzled
at an increasingly hostile hom... house. Ranma left the meal, to the
surprise of all three Tendou sisters, and went to the guest room for a
moment, before heading for the door. �I'm going for a roll. Back in a
while,� he called out before disappearing. Nabiki tried to catch up to
him but lost him as soon as she stepped out the door.
A half hour later, Ranma sat beneath a bridge, looking down at the
canal. The light from a streetlamp reflected off a cold steel knife in
his hand. �You know,� he mutters to himself, �It's tempting. Has any of
this been worth the pain?� He said to himself, disturbed at his thoughts.
Something moist fell onto his shoulder, but he didn't bother wiping it
away. �I try to help people, and all I get for it is grief and dead
weight.� The moistness seemed to be warm, and only a mild distraction,
but he finally reached out for it, touching it. It wasn't watery, but
thick, and warm.
Suddenly a surge of dizziness rippled through him, as memories flashed
before his eyes. His confusion gave him no chance to quell the flood,
and he fell out of his chair and onto his face. The warm moist substance
fell atop most of him as the memories battered at his mind. And then
there was a sense of questioning. Of concern. Of anger. The last
surprised him, as it was not directed at him for a change, but rather
for him. An offer. An offer for justice, for strength, to defend, to
Ranma paused, then accepted. Pain surged through his body, then he knew
Nabiki ran toward the bridge. She had seen Ranma head in this direction
once or twice, and she hoped that this was a habit of some sort. She had
to admit certain aspects of Ranma had evaded her as trivial or
unimportant. She was regretting it now, especially when she considered
how depressed Ranma had been since the injury.
Nobody seemed to know which way he went. Fewer seemed to care. Nabiki
was becoming desperate. And then she saw it, a glint of metal. She
turned toward it and saw a wheel. Nervous, she approached it to see a
wheel chair knocked over. And next to it was a body, holding a knife.
�Ranma, no!� She yelped out, rushing toward the body, rolling it over
carefully. A bit of relief at seeing no knife wounds was mitigated by
Ranma being still. She put a hand to his neck, and the relief increased
as she felt a pulse. Fumbling at her pockets, she grabbed a cellphone
and called Dr. Tofu.
While almost babbling over the phone, Nabiki struggled to drag Ranma to
the chair, using her foot to kick the chair to an upright position.
After a moment, she was able to get Ranma into the chair, holding him
there. She didn't even think to pick up the knife as she tried to push
Ranma up to the street. Those next few minutes were some of the longest
she thought she had experienced in years, before Tofu-sensei arrived,
helping push Ranma to the clinic.
The doctor frowned softly as he examined Ranma. �That's odd... I'm
sensing shock, but I can't seem to figure a cause.� His expression was
worried as he continued to examine Ranma. �It doesn't seem to be due to
violence. I think we should take him to a hospital.�
Nabiki flinched a bit but nodded. �Alright, sensei.�
Tofu was about to get the phone before a voice mumbled, �alright.. we
fine.� Both he and Nabiki turned back toward Ranma, who opened his eyes.
�What hit?� He mumbled.
Tofu looked into his eyes. �That's what we wondered. Nabiki found you
unconscious and we brought you here. No concussion...� He commented as
he looked into Ranma's eyes.
Ranma paused before saying. �Don't know.. just passed out. Fine now.
Nabiki sighed in relief, though Tofu's expression was just a tad
suspicious. He did nod softly and asked, �So what's with the wheelchair?�
A hint of a growl escaped Ranma as he muttered, �Some chinese bitch ran
a sword through our back.�
Tofu blinked and sighed softly. �I'm sorry to hear that, Ranma. Though I
am surprised that I wasn't notified.�
�Doesn't surprise me,� Ranma muttered. �Everyone except Nabiki seems to
be quite willing to ignore me.� This drew a deep frown from the doctor.
"Perhaps you better tell me what's been going on," Tofu said with a hint
of anger in his tone. Ranma began explaining the situation but faltered
when a dark red battle aura suddenly manifested itself around the
usually mild-mannered medical professional. It was a sight he had never
seen before and one he hadn't thought was even possible. Ranma stumbled
his way through the rest of the explanation and somehow managed not to
cringe when the doctor's aura thickened with each additional revelation.
"Nabiki!" Tofu snapped. The middle Tendou sister barely avoided running
out of the room in a panic; Tofu's visiage was worse than any demon head
her father had ever produced. "Get Ranma's things and bring them here.
Now." Tofu finally noticed his manifestation and the effect it was
having on the two youngsters. It took him several seconds to corral his
temper and dismiss the aura. He consciously softened his eyes before
continuing. "Nabiki, please? An environment like that is no place for
Ranma to recover." Nabiki nodded weakly and then rushed out of the room.
Tofu rubbed his forehead and grimaced - it had been a long time since he
lost control that badly.
Ranma stared at Tofu for a moment before saying, �Don't think we've ever
seen someone who cared like that.�
Tofu stared back at Ranma for a moment. �We? For that matter, something
is odd about you. You feel different.�
Ranma paused, then asked, �This will be kept quiet, right? That patient
thingie you were talking about before?� Tofu nodded, so Ranma sighed.
�We were actually considering it, you know, seppuku?� He rubbed his face
softly, then whispered, �We felt something touch us, then it was like
someone was offering to help us, you know?�
Tofu's expression became concerned. We? Us? �Ranma, what do you mean us?�
Ranma blinked, gasping in a bit of surprise as a silvery liquid began to
seep from his skin, causing Tofu to back up. Ranma seemed worried before
blinking, until the fluid covered his face completely, leaving Ranma
encased in silver, with a pair of red ovals where his eyes should have
been. The mouth opened and replied, �Perhaps we can explain better.�
Tofu blinked and frowned softly. �What are you and what have you done to
�You may call us Paladin. We bonded with he you call Ranma to fulfill
our purpose and to help Ranma,� the silvery figure replied. �We wish to
assist Ranma, as well as others in following with his code.�
�Ranma, are you in there?� Tofu asked, concerned.
The silvery skin peeled back away from Ranma's head. �Whoa. What a
rush.� He blinked and nodded to Tofu. �We... I'm here. Just didn't
expect that to happen. Paladin and I've not gotten to know each other
much. I'm fine, Doc. And I did accept Paladin. I wasn't co � coer.. um,
forced into it.�
Tofu smiled a little. He was still unsure, but that definitely sounded
like the Ranma he knew. �So who is this Paladin anyway?�
�Well, Not too sure, really. I do know that Pal and I see things a lot
alike. We want to help people. You know, the Code,� Ranma said earnestly.
Tofu nodded softly. �Alright, I can accept that. But if you ever need
help, let me know. I am your doctor after all.�
Ranma nodded softly. �Thanks, Doc. I suppose you want to check my legs?�
Tofu stood. �Probably a good idea, Ranma. Maybe some day we can help you
walk again somehow.�
Ranma shrugged. �The other doctor didn't seem too enthusiastic about my
chances, but who knows?� He wheeled over to the bed, then pulled himself
onto the bed with a grunt.
�If you could remove your shirt?� the doctor asked as he put on a pair
of gloves. �And, I wondered, have you changed since the incident?�
�Well, I was stabbed while I was a girl, and I've changed a few times,�
Ranma explained. �Didn't change whether I could walk or not.�
As Ranma removed his shirt, Tofu winced as he saw the scar on Ranma's
back, before continuing his examination. Nabiki returned with Ranma's
pack by the time Ranma crawled back into his wheelchair with Tofu's
help. �I didn't realize how little you had,� Nabiki commented.
Ranma shrugged a bit as he settled down in his seat. �When would I
really have had time to get stuff?� He said simply.
Nabiki tried not to flinch at that, knowing she was partially
responsible for it, as she set the pack down next to Ranma. �I suppose
we'd better find another place to stay then,� she said gently.
Ranma looked at her. �We?�
At almost the same time, Tofu replied, �Another place?� Ranma and Nabiki
both looked at him as he replied, �There's an apartment at the back of
the clinic. You two can use it.�
Nabiki looked at him, asking, �How much will it cost?�
Tofu replied, �Perhaps a few hours a week after school helping me sort
Nabiki looked at Ranma. �It's a good deal, I think. Not to mention it's
close, in case anything happens.�
Ranma nodded. �If you're sure, Tofu-sensei, thank you.�
The next few hours were spent arranging the apartment. Nabiki wanted to
ask Ranma something, but his expression was such that she thought it was
better not to interrupt whatever train of thought he was on.
Ranma was the first to break the silence. �Nabiki... why?�
She looked at him, cocking her head as she set an empty box aside. �Why
what? Why am I staying with you?�
Ranma nodded. �Yeah. I know you've never liked me.�
Nabiki flinched and sighed. �Maybe you don't know as much as you think
Ranma looked at her, blinking. �You mean you-�
Nabiki shook her head. �I don't love you right now or then, but it
doesn't mean I hate you. You're actually a good guy. And you deserve
better than the grief I've been dumping on you. I guess it took your
accident to get it through to me.�
Ranma frowned. �I don't need pity.�
�Trust me, Saotome, pity's the last thing I had on my mind. Was just the
straw that broke the camel's back,� Nabiki admitted. �I've been a bitch
for years, and it actually took something this bad to open my eyes to
it. It also makes me worried that it could have been a funeral instead
of just a crippling injury that did it.�
Ranma nodded as he wheeled over to the kitchen, then tries to drag
himself onto the counter to get a glass. Nabiki reached for them. �I
think we'll have to move the glasses.�
Ranma stifled a growl. Yet another reminder of his condition, yet he did
realize that she was trying to help, as well as making a valid point.
�Thanks,� he said softly as he poured himself some water from a pitcher.
�You know, you don't have to stay with me, though.�
Nabiki replied, �Think of it this way. I owe you for a few months of
being a bitch, not to mention paying you back for all the money I made
off of you. And on top of that, the Tendou clan does owe you. Even if
none of them except want to admit it.�
Ranma stared into his glass. �Thanks, Nabiki. That helps,� He said
quietly. �I suppose we ought to get some sleep.�
Nabiki yawned a bit. �Probably a good idea,� she said, heading toward
the couch, only to be stopped as her hand was grasped.
�You get the bed,� Ranma replied. �No arguments.�
Nabiki looked at him. �I can't let you do that. This is pretty much your
place. I des-�
Ranma cut her off. �No. Besides...� He blushed a bit. �It's easier for
me to get from the couch to my chair than it is from the bed.�
Nabiki blinked, and nodded. �Alright, Saotome.�
.---Anime/Manga Fanfiction Mailing List----.
| Administrators - email@example.com |
| Unsubscribing - firstname.lastname@example.org |
| Put 'unsubscribe' in the subject |
`---- http://ffml.anifics.com/faq.txt -----'