Subject: [PMFFML] [FFML-R] newRanma - Chapter 6
From: "C. Jones" <guilty@furinkan.net>
Date: 3/18/2001, 12:31 AM
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Hi, all. Here's yet another chapter. I don't know if future
chapters will be quite so... weekly. I'm finally working
myself back up to spending some more time with 'THE CLAN',
and I consider it a priority over this story, so...

Enjoy!

Ranma and his friends belong to Rumiko Takahashi. They're
used here without permission.

------------------------------
newRanma 6: Fighting

by Chris Jones
------------------------------

    Akane stared in horror at the sight before her.

    *BZZZZ*

    It was a sight she had hoped never to see, but was
nonetheless curious about if it ever did happen.

    *BZZZ... ZZZZZ*

    She gasped as the floor turned red in front of her.

    *BZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZ*

    "Ouch. Got my ear," Ranma said.

    "Your... your hair, Ranma."

    "You like it?"

    Ranma had taken Kasumi's electric shears and put the
longest guard attachment she could on the end. In just a
few minutes, she had removed most of the hair from her
head. Except for her long, thick bangs, all the hair on her
head was now just a few centimeters long. The hair on the
side of her head that had been operated on had finally
grown long enough so that this was enough to make it even
on both sides.

    "I... I..."

    "It's kinda girly-lookin' I think," Ranma said. "But
I'll be damned if I'm gonna keep wearin' that ball-cap."

    She ran her hands through her newly short hair. It
felt odd and strangely light. She reached behind her head
to the only other part she'd left long at all and quickly
tied off a rather short, lop-sided pigtail.

    She turned to one side and looked in the mirror.

    "I look like a complete dork, don't I?" she asked,
smiling all the while.

    "No!" Akane said.

    The look was unusual, but exotic rather than odd-
looking. Ranma's bangs fluttered in the air as the girl
moved, surrounding her face like a halo. The effect was
beautiful, Akane thought. When Ranma grinned her usual,
rakish grin, the image was... sexy, even. It accented her
slender neck and slim shoulders in a way that made one look
at the girl from head to toe before focusing on any one
area such as the girl's curvy bosom or hips.

    She could never, NEVER, tell Ranma that.

    "I think it looks okay," Akane said seriously.

    "What ever. At least it ain't lopsided any more."

    Akane hoped that Ranma would never realize how
attractive she really was.

* * *

    Shampoo and Ukyou were both stunned speechless by
Ranma's new appearance. They hadn't spoken any at all
through lunch at a local Thai-food joint.

    "Kinda wild," Hiroshi noted. "I like it."

    "It's cute," Nabiki agreed. "I think Kunou-chan likes
it."

    Kunou had been silent all through lunch, even when he
snatched the ticket before anyone else could pay.

    For the first time since actually seeing Ranma's new
haircut, he opened his mouth. "Nabiki Tendou speaks truly.
It is a flattering style."

    "It ain't no big deal," Ranma said, blushing a little
bit. She was uncomfortable with the attention, and was
starting to wish that she had worn the damn cap.

    There was a chapter in the 'Bodywatching' book that
talked about heads and hair. Ranma had skimmed over it
briefly in favor some of the other body parts, but was now
wishing she had examined it a little more in depth. She
promised herself that she would when she got home. Was
there something secret about hair that made it more
interesting that other parts of the body?

    "It's certainly daring," Yuka noted.
    
    Akane shook her head at the other girl, trying to get
her to stop.

    "I mean, it really brings out your eyes."

    "Wonderful..." Ranma complained, her embarrassment
thickening.

    "I mean--"

    "ALOHA!" A loudspeaker rang out just as Kunou was
about to open the school's front gate to get them back
inside, cutting off Yuka's comment.

    "We're busted," Hiroshi noted sourly.

    "Hello, all you naughty keiki!" the principal
exclaimed as he leapt down from the top of the wall. He was
carrying a megaphone in one hand and a pair of barber's
shears in the other. "You been very naughty, sneaking off
during lunch hour! We have a saying on de islands--"

    "Which I bet you just made up," Ranma interjected.

    "De student who sneaks out come back widdout de
hair!"

    Yuka and Sayuri both screamed, their hands going to
their lochs. Yuka had suffered one of the principal's bowl-
cuts before and was not eager to repeat the experience.

    "Hold thine instrument of evil, foul educator!" Kunou
exclaimed, bringing his bokken to bear. He stepped in front
of Ranma to shield her from the principal.

    "Keiki... My own son! You oppose you papa? You flesh
and blood? WAAAH!"

    "Why don't you just leave us alone, you old freak!"
Akane shouted angrily.

    "Get outta the way, Kunou," Ranma declared, roughly
shoving the kendoist aside. "You wanna cut my hair?" she
asked. "Go ahead."

    "But, pigtailed girl," Kunou said in concern. "You
cannot--"

    The principal was staring at Ranma's hair in shock.
The clippers clattered loosely to the ground.

    Behind him, Nabiki had just managed to get the gate
open and was gesturing for the rest of them to hurry
inside.

    Ranma stared darkly at the principal as he stood in
front of her, his eyes watering.

    "Well, are you gonna shave my head, or what?" She
demanded.

    "YOU CUT IT ALL OFF!!!" the principal wailed. He
turned and ran back for the building, weeping into one arm.

    "Saotome school of non-aggressive combat, 2," Ranma
declared. "Principal Kunou, Nada."

* * *

    Ranma and her friends didn't get off scot-free. They
all had to do water torture punishment for two periods
outside the library as per a hastily worded memo from the
principal's office. 'Carry the buckets' quickly turned into
a rag on the principal session, however, with Ranma and
Nabiki, who had never actually had to do water torture
before, leading the call.

    "What I'd really like to know," Nabiki complained
bitterly despite the fact that she had already conned Kunou
into carrying both her buckets, "Is why the man has such a
fetish for short hair?"

    "Nabiki!" Akane shouted.

    "It's not a dirty word, Akane. I'm serious. What
drives him?"

    "It's madness," Kunou said darkly. "It infects my
whole family."

    "That sounds real good coming from you, Sempai,"
Ranma noted darkly. In her irritation, she had simply set
the buckets down and was slouching against the wall.

    Kunou 'hmphed' and turned back to the group. "My
father has always been first to wield the clippers. Truly
monstrous depredations have been performed on my own scalp
and Kodachi's... well, let's just I'm glad he left when he
did, because my twisted sister's self-esteem could not have
handled the blows it would have received if he had been
allowed to style her hair during junior-high school."

    "Maybe it really is a fetish," Daisuke noted. "Like
vinyl clothes or body-piercing. Maybe the principal gets
off on seeing people with short hair."

    "That's gross, Dai," Hiroshi said. "That's really
gross."

    Shampoo, who was not subject to the punishment but
had followed the group in anyway looked around in mock
nervousness.

    "Shampoo see bald people..." she stage-whispered.

    The group dissolved into giggles and outright
laughter.

    "Let's cut the noise out there, children!" the
librarian complained through the closed doorway. "This is a
school, not a social club!"

    "Man, we oughtta do something!" Ukyou complained
bitterly. "I bet no other school has to put up with this
kind of crap! Why couldn't this have been calm and normal
like my last school?"

    "Normal?" Nabiki chided. "With at least two confirmed
transvestites roaming the halls?"

    "Well..."

    "We *did* break the rules, after all," Akane said
sadly. "We did have this coming to us."

    "If it were just a case of we broke the rules and
gotta do the time, that'd be cool," Ranma said, "But this
is a grudge. The principal don't like us, so he's makin'
sure we suffer. We outta just leave," the girl suggested.
"Just walk out and not come back."

    "If a man owes you money and will not pay, he is in
trouble," Nabiki said sagely. "If many men owe you money
and will not pay, you are in trouble."

    "She's right. Man, if we could get *everyone* to
leave that would be cool," Hiroshi noted.

    Sayuri held a hand to her mouth. "That's awful!" she
said. "Everyone would get in trouble."

    "At this school?" Ukyou asked. "Yeah, right. It's
more like we'd get the principal in trouble. Wouldn't that
be great?"

    "'Twouldst be wonderful indeed if we could run the
madman off to the heathen wastes again," Kunou grumbled.

    "I'll say," Ranma agreed. "Oh well... Hey, it's
almost two-thirty. We better get back to class."

* * *

    Makuna-sensei was not a lot of help about the
principal. Rather than commenting on any of the incidents
Ranma related to him, he suggested that Ranma think about
how she felt about the principal, and even try to chat
rationally with the man.

    Ranma walked out into the waiting room grumbling
darkly about the bad habits of psychologists.

    Outside, the girl Ranma had come to know purely in
passing, Taiyoko, looked up. As usual, her face was filled
with anxiety and more than a little fear.

    "Yo," Ranma greeted her.

    Ranma intended to wave and walk past since the girl
seemed so uncomfortable with her presence, but was taken
aback with the expression Taiyoko gave her.

    "What?!" Ranma demanded, looking around herself in
shock, trying to figure out what was wrong.

    "Y-your hair..." Taiyoko whispered. "It's..."

    "Oh. Yeah," Ranma said, rolling her eyes. "I cut it
this morning."

    "Y-you-you're very beautiful," Taiyoko stammered.
    
    Ranma blinked in surprised. "What?" she asked.

    Taikyoko's face turned bright red. She leapt up from
the seat and ran into the doctor's office.

    Ranma blinked again, unsure of what had just
happened. She knew she looked good, but what would cause
the girl to react so strongly to her presence?

* * *

    Later that afternoon, after Ranma had returned to the
Tendou Dojo, she was still rather disgruntled. Why did the
principal single her and her friends out? It wasn't like
she had done anything any of the other students hadn't.

    Well, as Makuna-sensei had politely pointed out, she
did regularly flaunt the school dress code. And she
interrupted class all the time. And she slept through all
the school assemblies. And...

    Okay, she realized, maybe she did tend to cause more
problems and than some of the other students. Before the
principal had shown up, she thought had come to a sort of
equilibrium with the school administration. They didn't
bother her and she did her best not to bother them. It
worked out perfectly well up until the loony had shown up.

    As she grumbled about her problems, Ranma walked
through the Tendous' front room and noticed her father
sitting on the verandah, sipping a beer and staring out at
the back yard.

    Due to the lack of fighting as imposed by doctors'
orders, Ranma had had very little contact with the man
since her surgery. She hadn't realized just how little
contact they had outside of training. When she removed that
part of their relationship, she was surprised at how little
was left.

    The old man had been pissing her off anyway. He had
been moping around like it had been *his* head that had
been hacked on.

    "Hello boy," Genma greeted his child.

    "Hey," Ranma answered.

    Genma took a long draw off of his beer and looked
back out over the yard.

    Ranma plopped down next to her father and grumpily
looked out over the yard to figure out what her father was
staring at.

    It was a breezy day, but not unduly windy, so Nodoka
and Kasumi were both behind the house, efficiently hanging
laundry out to dry.

    Nodoka was wearing her kimono, but Kasumi was wearing
a light cotton dress that twisted and flowed around her in
the breeze. The thin fabric alternately billowed away from
her body and snapped tightly against it, displaying the
girl's curves and nigh-perfect proportions.

Both women had their hair tied back behind them in buns,
but stray stands of hair swirled around them. The laundry,
fastened securely to the clothes-lines, snapped and
swirled. Nodoka and Kasumi, working quickly and expertly,
almost seemed to dance in and out of the swirling morass of
colors.

    Ranma found herself breathless at the unintentional
beauty of the scene.

    "Kasumi will make some man a very fine wife some
day," Genma said quietly.

    "Pops?"

    Genma winked at Ranma. "Let's just say I'm partial to
buns."

    Ranma blinked, trying to figure out what her father
meant.

* * *

    "ATTENTION ALL YOU BAD STUDENTS!" the principal's
voice announced over the intercom. "Dey been some very bad
keiki trying to sneak out during lunch hour. Cause Kahuna
can't be havin' with all dat, we gonna lock down da campus
during lunch! No students leave dey classroom during lunch.
Dat mean no sandwich line and no drink line! Have a
wonderful day!"

    A chorus of moans and groans went up around Ranma, as
well as more than a few angry comments. Ranma glared back
behind her at one of the guys in her class who was starting
to get a little personal with his insults.

    "This is bad," Ukyou complained out loud. "He's going
to really let us have it if we don't do something."

    "What are we going to do?" Hiroshi asked out loud as
the students who had brought their lunches pulled them out
and began to eat. "We can't just... I dunno."

    Hinako was busy licking a lollipop and reading a
storybook, so Ranma turned around in her seat to face the
others. "Why not?" she asked. "We've been breaking the
rules all along anyway. What's it going to cost us that we
ain't already paying?"

    "We could get thrown out of school, Ranma!" Akane
warned.

    Ranma's eyes narrowed. "Maybe. Maybe not."

    "What are you thinking, Ran-chan?" Ukyou said.

    "Even if I can't fight, I've got a few ideas about
how to beat this," Ranma said. "But I think I need to talk
to Nabiki for this--"

    The classroom door slid open, allowing Nabiki and
Kunou to step inside.

    "How did you get out of your class, 'Nee-chan?" Akane
asked.

    Nabiki rolled her eyes. "Does it matter?" she asked.
"Do you still want to go to lunch today?"

    "We could," Ranma said, gesturing at Hinako, who was
so involved in 'The Little Salaryman that Could' that she
had completely dissociated from the rest of the class. "But
that's what he's expectin' us to do."

    "The pigtailed girl speaks truly," Kunou agreed. "My
dastardly father would not make such a pronouncement unless
he planned to enforce it by hook or by crook."

    "I think we can do something, but Akane's right,"
Ranma said. "We're getting real close to the point where we
can get in more trouble than just doin' bucket duty."

    The rest of their usual lunch group had already
crowded around Ranma, but she put the proximity out of her
mind and began to outline her plans.

    Nabiki's expression was troubled. She bit her lip.
"Dangerous, Saotome. Very dangerous. It could blow up in
our faces."

    "It could also hammer the final nail into the man's
coffin," Kunou declared. "Even if it did not come from the
razor-sharp mind of the pigtailed girl, I would be inclined
to follow this plan."

    "But you'd follow any plan, Kunou-chan," Nabiki said.
"Let's do it like this instead." She explained her revision
upon the plan.

    "Nabiki Tendou's plan has merit," Kunou said, "But
creating a riot to cover our actions as she proposes would
only needlessly endanger the pigtailed-girl's well being.
Instead, let us do this." Kunou spoke at some length. While
it was difficult to extract meaning from his flowery
speech, Ranma began to grin wickedly.

    "I like it!" she said.

    "One more thing," Nabiki said. "We need something to
back us up."

    "Let us say that my father is a most evil man," Kunou
said coldly. "Let all who aid us say that indeed the
principal of Furinkan High is a pervert and a fetishist of
the highest degree. Only then will our most noble rebellion
be seen in the light it truly deserves."

    The grins faded around the group, but those around
Ranma and Kunou knew that they were stuck with it now. If
they ever wanted to be free of the man, they would have to
act.

* * *

    After lunch, Hiroshi, Daisuke and Ranma had assembled
fifty or sixty of their male classmates in the boys' locker
room. Ranma felt uncomfortable with the dozens and dozens
of eyes lingering upon her body, but took solace in the
fact that they all had a pretty good idea of why they were
there.

    It wasn't to look at a pretty girl.

    "So, Ranma," one of them called out. "What'cha gonna
do about the principal."

    "I can't fight him," Ranma said. "Not injured like I
am. Instead, we've got to do something more drastic."

    "More drastic like what?" another boy asked.

    "I'll tell you," Ranma said. "We've got a plan. It's
like this..."

* * *

    "I'll tell you for five hundred yen apiece," Nabiki
said.

    The girls around her all began to rummage around in
their purses and pockets. Sayuri, Yuka and Akane all began
to collect the fees while the group of girls began to press
in around Nabiki to hear her pronouncement.

    "We're being taken advantage of, ladies," she said.
"We're being sexually exploited and not doing a thing about
it."

    "Is someone taking ecchi pictures again?" one girl
asked anxiously.

    "At this school?" another said darkly. "We already
knew we were being exploited, Nabiki. If it's not voyeurs
in the locker room, it's that freaky panty-thief."

    "Ah, but there's a threat you may not be aware of,"
Nabiki explained. "How many bowl cuts are we going to
endure before everyone realizes that the principal is a
hair fetishist."

    A gasp went up from all around the restroom.

    * * *
    
    "He gets off on shaving our heads?" a uniformed
kendoist cried out. His hand went to his bald head, and he
began to tremble in revulsion.

    "Verily," Kunou spat out. "That twisted man who is no
man has perpetrated his depredations long enough. If not
the onus of unbearable rule and regulation is enough to
move you, the assault on your manhood should rouse all to
action."

    "Why should we believe you?" another bald boy cried.

    "Have I not lived with the man?" Kunou asked. "Have I
not suffered vile sling and arrow since the day I was born?
Have I not fought alongside you at each and every
opportunity to drive the foul demon away?"

    The practice room, full of kendoists and members of
all the other sports teams, was silent.

    Kunou drew his bokken and leveled it at the captain
of the baseball team.

    "Takeshi Tanaka," he named the boy. "You yourself
have suffered the agony of humiliation at my father's
hands."

    Takeshi pulled off his ball cap to reveal that he was
indeed nearly bald.

    "And your younger sister attends this selfsame
school!" Kunou declared. "Are you such a man that you will
allow that... that... BEAST to slake his vile lusts upon
her virgin lochs?"

    "Never!" Takeshi cried out, tears coursing freely
down his face.

    "Every one of us stands to see our dignity and honor
diminish as long as the thing that calls itself my father
is allowed to hold sway at this institution. We have
everything to lose by not acting. Act as you will," Kunou
said, turning his back on the crowd.

    "But, Kunou-sempai!" one of the younger soccer-team
members asked. "What can we do?"

    "There is a plan in the making," Kunou said, "but it
is not without risk. I cannot ask you to join, and yet I
cannot envision a man who would allow these horrors to
continue err he had a choice. Who will make the choice to
follow me?"

    "I will!" Takeshi, the baseball team captain
declared, clenching his fist in the air.

    "Tell us what to do!" Another cried out.

    "Very well," Kunou said. "If you will accept the
risk, you may seek the rewards of heaven. This, then, is
our plan of attack..."

* * *

    The teachers all knew that something was up. There
was no way that the 700 odd students at the school could
keep it completely under their hats. Whispered
conversations were stopped in mid sentence if anyone
approached and an air of defiance had sprung up. Angry
stares and whispered insults began to rain down upon the
most hated of Furinkan's teachers.

    Miyuki Sipuru, first-year geometry teacher, decided
not to comment since she suspected that whatever was
happening was directed at the principal. When she first
started at the school, she got a 'regulation' bowl-cut
before ever meeting the man who had written the
regulations. Perhaps if the students' plan was spectacular
enough, she thought as she drew on the board, then the
principal would reconsider his insane rules.

    "So if you take the cosine of the arc like this and--
"

    Hearing the classroom door click behind her, she
turned around.

    Her classroom was empty.

    Miyuki stared in shock. Surely they wouldn't... Had
they? Could they?

* * *

    "Late in the war, American planes began to firebomb
the city of Tokyo," the history teach said. "At the same
time..."

    Ranma waited until the teacher's back was turned to
the class. Silently, she rose from her seat and smiled at
everyone around her. They needed a little leadership and a
*lot* of encouragement to go along, but Ranma thought that
that wouldn't be a problem.

    On cat-like feet, she made her way over to the open
window and climbed through it. It was true that such an act
pretty soundly broke her medical restrictions, but Ranma
was feeling pretty rebellious. It wouldn't hurt her to get
a *little* bit of excitement. Effortlessly, she began to
shimmy down a drain pipe to the ground.

    The history teacher turned around, hearing the amazed
whispers behind him.

    "Where on Earth is Saotome?" he demanded.

    "Uhh... I think he had a doctors' appointment after
lunch," Hiroshi answered.

    "Hmmm... I could have sworn that-- Oh well."

    He turned back to the board and began to write.

    "So we can assume that the Americans had developed
and tested the first nuclear device in the southwest United
States only a few weeks before the twin bombings on these
cities. How many died in the initial blast? Tendou?"

    He turned around to get his answer from the girl he
just quizzed.

    He was surprised to see her seat sitting empty.

    "Wasn't Akane Tendou here just a second ago?"

    "Uhhh... I think that she's at the doctor with
Ranma," Daisuke answered.

    "Honda then..." the teacher said, looking around for
Hiroshi. "Wasn't Hiroshi Honda just here?"

    "I don't think so," One of the girls answered,
fighting to keep a smirk off her face. "He's sick today."

    "Hmm... people are disappearing on me today," the
teacher said, feeling the need to take a draw off of the
flask hidden in his briefcase. "Well, at any rate, the
initial damage estimates can be found here and here. If
you'll look at this diagram, you'll see that..."

    The rustle began almost as soon as his back was
turned. He whipped back around to see what was happening,
but only Hikaru Gosunkuji was there among a sea of empty
desks to return his stare.

    Hikaru raised his hand politely. "Can I go to the
bathroom?" the boy asked.

* * *

    Nabiki felt nervous as she waited outside the school
gates with the first dozen or so walkouts. She still had
reservations about what was happening despite Ranma's and
Kunou's careful planning. When her dozen doubled, she felt
a little less nervous. When Kunou came out of the athletics
wing leading most of the school's athletics teams in his
wake, she started to get the heady feeling of victory.

    Ranma and Akane appeared a few seconds later leading
another sixty or seventy students behind them. Hiroshi and
Daisuke were with them. Sayuri and Yuka were directing the
first year students and providing encouragement for some of
the more nervous members of the protest.

    Ukyou had cleared out the home-ec wing and was
leading dozens of girls who were ladened down with
'refreshments' for the protestors.

    Ranma was grinning like a maniac by the time she
reached the gate.

    "It's gonna work!" the redhead cried. "Everybody's
leaving!"

    "Let's just see what happens when they all start
going home," Nabiki said as the noise level began to rise.
"We'll know tomorrow wether we've won or not."

    Ranma nodded, although Nabiki was having serious
problems keeping the grin off her face.

    Akane was clinging to Ranma's arm with excitement and
the thrill of victory. The redhead didn't even seem to
notice.

    Ukyou noticed and glared daggers at Akane's back.

    "This is great!" Akane said. "We've finally shown
that nutcase that we're not going to deal with his
weirdness any more."

    "Yeah," Ranma said. Something began to eat at her,
however. Something didn't feel right. Had they truly done
the right thing by protesting in such a manner? Ranma began
to analyze what they had just done again. It seemed like
they had done the honorable thing.

    Having had a snack after winning their freedom, the
students were beginning to disperse.

    "We have liberated the school," Kunou declared. "The
goddess of justice smiles warmly upon us today."

    "Let's all get out of here, then," Ukyou said. "I'll
open Ucchan's early so we can regroup there."

    "We'll come," Ranma said, salivating at the thought
of free okonomiyaki. "You wanna come, Sempai?"

    "Nay," Kunou declined. "For I alone must remain here
to explain what has happened to that man."

    "Kunou-chan..." Nabiki said in surprise. "Why? Are
you sure?"
    
    "Do I not live with the man?" Kunou said, echoing his
earlier statements. "Everyone here may escape his torments
in the safety of the outside world. Our homes are safe
havens from his depredations... all except mine. He must
know the crime for which he is being punished, or there is
no true justice. Sadly, I alone am most suited to tell
him."

    "Kunou-sempai," Akane breathed in surprise.

    "I must deal with him," Kunou said sharply. "If for
no other reason than to hammer this lesson into his skull.
I do not expect that I will be going home anytime soon.
'Tis a far better thing I do...'"

    "Well, if you're sure," Akane said, walking off with
the others. "Hurry if you can. We'll all be at Ucchan's for
a while."

    Kunou nodded, but his forced grin held no hope.

    After a few seconds, Ranma broke away from the group.

    "What's up, Saotome?" Hiroshi asked.

    "I gotta go check on something," she said, a hint of
anxiousness entering her voice. She broke away from the
group before anyone could protest.

    "She's worried about Kunou?" Ukyou asked in surprise.

    "Ranma's been... different lately," Nabiki sighed.

    Akane started to fret. It couldn't be that her fears
were coming true, could it? Was Ranma starting to...
care... about Kunou? Surely not...

    * * *

    "Why on earth are you home so early?" Takeshi
Tanaka's mother asked of him and his sister.

    "Mother," the team captain addressed her formally,
"we came home because we were being taken advantage of at
school."

    "What?" the older woman asked in surprise.

    "It's the loony principal!" his little sister
exclaimed. "He's been trying to force us all to cut our
hair. We all think it's because he's a pervert and wants to
take advantage of us."

    "Principal Kunou?" their mother asked. "Are you
sure?"

    Takeshi pulled his ball cap off. "I didn't get my
hair cut like this voluntarily," he complained.

    The Tanakas' mother began to shake in outrage. How
dare a man, any man, molest her children so?!

    After confirming the story from her children and
getting more details, she reached for the phone and dialed
a number.

    "Tokyo Police Department, Nerima Ward," the polite
receptionist answered. "Can I help you?"

    "This is Mari Tanaka. I need to speak to my husband,
please."

    "I'm afraid that Captain Tanaka's not available right
now," the receptionist informed her after just a second.

    "I need you to interrupt him them. This is an
emergency," Mari said.

    * * *
    
    By the time the phone calls started the pour in, the
principal was wandering the halls, not believing what he
was seeing. He stared around about himself in shock. Only a
few of the teachers had seen fit to stay after the students
had walked out, but they couldn't meet his gaze.

    "Why?" he called out loud. No one was there to answer
him.

    Did they really hate him that much?

    Eventually, shambling aimlessly through the hallways,
he made his way to the Kendo club's room.

    Tatewaki was sitting in a lotus position in the
center of the floor, his eyes closed and his bokken
balanced across his knees.
    
    "Tacchi... Tacchi didn't leave me!" the principal
exclaimed. "You such a good keiki! Lookin' out fo' you
papa."

    "I have not left simply by the merit of the fact that
there is no where I can truly escape," the kendoist said,
not bothering to open his eyes.

    "What you talkin' bout, Keiki?" the principal asked
dubiously.

    "Is it not obvious?" Tatewaki said. "Do you not see
that the entire student body has profoundly rejected your
evil? Are you so incapable of accepting reality that you do
not realize that this is all your own doing?"

    "Tacchi..."

    "Quiet, oh father of mine. I have tired of your
abuse, and I refuse to stand for it any more."

    "I never abused you!" the principal shouted.

    "Does not a child need its dignity?" Kunou asked.
"Does not a child need a parent that he or she can run to
in times of trouble and strife? Does not a child need a
protector? A confidant? A priest-confessor? You cry that
you are not guilty of abuse, yet I don't remember a father
who would have known if his son was routinely beaten by the
upperclassmen in grade school. I don't remember a father
who would have known if his daughter lived in fear of
molestation from the power-mad priests in junior-high?"

    "Tacchi... why didn't you say somethin'?"

    "I did," Tatewaki responded. "And you ignored me. How
did you put it? A 'brudda have to be strong'? I endured
being beaten for almost two years, father.

    "And as for Kodachi, well, the only person she had to
tell that she was being stalked was myself. Her father
*should* have made a complaint to his cronies in the
Ministry of Education when his daughter's panties and
leotard were stolen. He should have seen to the priest's
dismissal or even his arrest when the man was caught taking
pictures inside his daughter's shower stall. When the man
cornered her in the attic of that idiotic school and tried
to rape her, her father should have been there to save her.
Instead, she had to settle for watching me beat him
senseless with a wooden stick."

    "I-- I didn't know," the principal said weakly.

    "HOW COULD YOU HAVE KNOWN!?" Kunou demanded angrily.
"You abandoned us and flew away to Hawaii to get a tan! Do
you know how humiliating it was to have the police tell me
to get my father to call back when I tried to report that
my sister was being molested? Do you?! Do you know how much
you have allowed your daughter's sanity to be damaged?
Well?!"

    The principal was speechless, staring at the floor in
shock.

    "At first I was overjoyed to learn that my father had
returned from his hideaway to rejoin his oh-so
dysfunctional family. Then I was horrified to learn that
you had become this... this perverted mockery of a man. You
are worse than those who beat me and just as bad as the man
who tormented your daughter. I hope you're quite pleased
with yourself, Father," Kunou said, saying the last word
like it was an epithet. "Soon, I suspect, all the world
will know of your evils. When that time comes, when you
stumble through the streets with a cross on your back and
all around jeer rudely at your humble state, remember that
it was your son who helped put you there."

    Tatewaki opened his eyes and rolled effortlessly onto
his feet.

    The principal collapsed, dropping to his knees.

    "Good bye, father. I hope I don't see you again," the
kendoist said before propping his bokken against his
shoulder and striding from the room.

    Just outside the kendo room, Kunou nodded once to
Ranma, who had overheard everything. She covered her mouth
in shock and surprise.

    Inside, they could hear the principal begin to weep.

    "Speak not of this, noble pigtailed-girl," Kunou
whispered, "for it was not something that I wished to share
with anyone but him. Instead, think of mine and my sister's
dignity. We have some small madness between us I fear, but
we must maintain a thin illusion of normalcy lest we fall
to complete and utter insanity."

    "I... I understand," Ranma whispered, gulping at the
kendoist's rare self-honesty.

    "Come," Kunou said. "Let us away to yon restaurant so
that we may forget this horrible scene."

    * * *

    "Akane! Nabiki! Ranma!" Kasumi exclaimed when the
three returned home from Ucchan's. "Where have you been?"

    "At the restaurant," Nabiki answered. "Why?"

    "Were you part of the walkout?" Kasumi asked. Soun,
Genma, and Nodoka came and stood behind her upon hearing
the three enter the house.

    Ranma bit her lip. They already knew?

    "Uh, we kinda organized the walkout," Ranma said
sheepishly. "We got pretty tired of the principal and all
his crap."

    "Oh?" Soun asked. "So... you led... that?"

    "What's the big deal?" Akane said. "There have been
school protests before, haven't there?"

    "Not like this," Genma said. "You haven't heard, have
you?"

    "Heard what?" Ranma asked.

    "It seems that Principal Kunou has been sacked," Soun
explained. "It's on the national news. He's being
investigated for inappropriate sexual conduct with some of
the students by the Ministry of Education."

    "The National News?!" Nabiki cried. She ran into the
front room and turned the television on. Sure enough, after
tuning to the twenty-four hour news network, a picture of a
man who looked like Principal Kunou without a tan was
displayed on television.

    "Were any of you molested?" Nodoka asked the two
girls in concern. "Were either of you hurt?"

    "Well," Nabiki said. "He tied Akane up once."

    "That was just a stunt, wasn't it?" Akane asked,
confusion and fear crossing her face.

    "There's something else," Nabiki said, listening to
the broadcast. "It seems that there might have been some
misconduct before he left for Hawaii the last time. They're
talking about filing criminal charges."

    "You're kidding!" Ranma said, incredulity growing on
her face. "Right?"

    Nabiki shook her head. "I think we may have gotten
out just in time."
    
* * *

    Ranma was sick to her stomach. She never meant it to
go this far. Everything felt wrong. As bad as he was,
surely... Did he? Could he? Guilt and uncertainty began to
assail Ranma. She slept very poorly.
    
    Almost all the students returned to school the next
day despite the fact that there were police and news crews
waiting in front of the building. The police held the
legitimate journalists and the paparazzi back while the
students nervously made their way inside.

    Ranma split up from Akane and Nabiki as soon as the
three entered the building and sought out the principal's
office. She walked past the now-empty secretary's desk and
threw open the door to the office, expecting to find the
man inside with a ukulele and some palm trees.

    The trees were gone. So was the sand, crabs, and
pumice boulders that had been scattered around. The ocean-
print wallpaper had been roughly torn away from the walls
and stuffed into the trashcan next to the now-bare desk in
the center of the office.

    The only thing on the desk was a folded note.

    'Gone to Hawaii. Back... whenever. - Headmaster'

    "It's better this way," Kunou said, stepping into the
office behind her.

    Akane and Nabiki were with him. "Maybe it is better,
Ranma," Akane said. "If he really was... doing that."

    "Was he?" Ranma asked.

    "What?" Nabiki asked. "Acting like a looney?"

    "No!" Ranma shouted, uncertain of her feelings. "Did
he really molest people? Was it really some sexual thrill
for him?" Ranma asked.  Ranma's words indicated her
uncertainty. She really didn't know what to think. "Akane,
do you really think he got off on tying you up that time?"

    "I... don't know. It was weird and I was angry about
it but..."

    "Aren't his other misdeeds enough to warrant this,
Pigtailed-girl?" Kunou asked. "Have you forgotten the
mistreatment you suffered at his hands?"

    "I don't know," Ranma shouted, running from the room.

    Ranma fled the school. After a few minutes of running
aimlessly, feeling guilt and uncertainty piling up upon
her, she realized where she had to go.

    She had to get both sides of the story.

    It was surprisingly easy to track down what flights
were leaving for Hawaii and from what gate once she got off
the train to Narita. The baggage attendants and counter
clerks were helpful and polite in helping her find the
appropriate place.

    Eventually, she came upon the terminal area she was
looking for.

    It took Ranma several minutes to actually recognize
the man for who he was once she found him. He was dressed
in wrinkled business clothes, and had lost the plastic palm
tree he usually wore in his hair at some point. His
sunglasses were gone, but that didn't stop Ranma from
noting the man's deep tan.

    He looked like hell, Ranma thought. He looked a lot
like the picture they had shown on the news the previous
night.

    He averted his eyes from the girl as she approached.

    "You're goin' back to Hawaii."

    "Yah," the principal answered in his fake accent. "De
islands always be nice to me. Never gotta explain myself
there."

    Ranma winced.

    "Why?" She finally asked.

    "Why what?" The principal quipped back.

    "Why all of it?" she asked in irritation. "The
haircuts, the lunch thing, the weird rules. Why all the
accusations. Did you really..." Ranma gulped. "Did you
really... "

    "No," Kunou said. "Me ain't never done anytin' like
dat to boy or girl," the principal said. "De rules... de
rules just gone too far this time."

    "What do you mean, too far?"

    The principal inhaled deeply. "Siddown here, Keiki.
Let you headmaster tell you a story."

    Nervously, Ranma sat down in the uncomfortable
airport lounge chair next to the principal and waited for
the other shoe to drop.

    While the shoe didn't drop, the principal's faux
accent did.

    "It was about ten years ago," the principal began.
Ranma was startled at his voice, which was suddenly
surprisingly clear and intelligent-sounding. "I had just
finished my doctorate in education. Tacchi and Kocchi were
both in good schools. I was happy and rich, and then my
wife died."

    Ranma did her best to keep silent, but couldn't help
herself. "I'm sorry," she whispered.

    The elder Kunou shrugged. "It's been a long time. I
still miss her, but... it's 'water under the bridge'," he
finished in English. "There have even been a few women
since, although some were not very good choices. I'll admit
to being crazy sometimes. A lot crazy, some of the time.
Your father-in-law. He lost his wife, and he's a little
crazy sometimes, right?"

    Ranma nodded in agreement.

    "My wife... she had the shortest, most beautiful
hair. She always wore it just like I like it. And when she
was gone, I found myself looking at women and girls who had
hair like she did. I bet you think it's funny the big
pervert Kahuna has a 'hair fetish', ne, Keiki?"

    Ranma winced, a little ashamed of the phrase he
others had used so frequently the previous day, nodded.

    "Some men like lingerie. Some like athletic women.
Tacchi seems to like anything in a skirt. For me, it was
hair. There was this girl at Furinkan... oh, about the time
you were in seventh grade probably. She looked a lot my
wife, even down to the short hair. It was wrong, but...
hey... you can't help it when you fall in love with a
girl."

    Ranma cringed at the intensely personal statement.
Her cheeks burned in embarrassment.

    "Don't worry, Keiki. Like I said, Kahuna never did
anything hentai. She was an office assistant part of the
day, and I just gave her jobs so that she would be working
where I could see her. Got me through the day some days.
Course, if you let the sharks in, somebody gonna get eat."

    "What happened?" Ranma managed to whisper.

    "It turned out that the girl did some part-time
modelling for ecchi magazines." The principal shrugged
again, as if it was no big deal. "She got caught. Since she
was underage, there as a big stink. When her parents found
out about it, they were real upset."

    "And not wanting to take any of the blame for her
upbringing," Ranma guessed.

    "Parents kinda funny that way, Keiki," The principal
explained, temporarily lapsing back into his accent. "No
parent wants to admit they a bad mommy or daddy, that they
don't care enough, that they didn't watch their kids
carefully enough. So they find people to blame. 'Why
weren't her teachers aware of the problem?'"

    Ranma shook her head, unsure of how to respond.

    "Now, if what Tacchi says is true, then I'm a pretty
bad parent," the principal admitted. "Pretty loopy. Pretty
crazy. When they started looking for a 'sugar daddy' at the
school, I figured that they would realize that I was
attracted to the girl even though I hadn't actually done
anything. It was a pretty bad time for me. I was hurting
pretty bad emotionally, and not really in touch with
reality. So I figure, hey, I've got money! Let's just take
a long vacation and get away from all this crap!"

    Ranma nodded. It was the principal's long trip to
Hawaii and the abandonment of his children. She almost
began to pity him.

    "And when you came back..." Ranma prompted.

    "I was a little crazier, and a little saner. I
thought a lot about how schools should work when I was on
the island. I had it in my head that I'd make my students
the best around by giving them unsolvable problems and
expecting them to solve them."

    "The haircut rules and the coconut thing," Ranma
guessed.

    The principal nodded. "That was good. Unite the
students against the bad guy. Make 'em smart! Make 'em
strong! You and Tacchi were the leaders, really. I even got
to be the good guy in my head because I was letting you two
unite the students against me. It was a pretty good time!"

    Ranma cocked her head to one side. "Then what went
wrong with the lunch thing?"

    Principal shrugged. "Everything else, the mandatory
haircuts, the toilet cleaning, everything, I was willing to
give on. I knew that if there was a reward, it would make
the students better. I *wasn't* willing to give on the
lunch policy because I felt that students should respect
their school and teachers enough to stay there all day."

    "But we were already in the habit of 'defeating'
you," Ranma guessed.

    The principal nodded, a grin on his face instead of a
sad expression. "Boy, howdy! And I got trashed but good!"

    "But... it was the 'hair-fetish' thing, wasn't it?"
Ranma asked, her voice deep with guilt. "We called you a
pervert one-too many times."

    "The rooster came home to roost, Keiki," The man's
tone shifted. "The Principal's a freak! A Pervert!" He
sighed deeply. "And then someone said, Hey, you remember
that short-haired girl that used to work in his office?
What about her? Maybe he was a pervert with her. He sure
took off like a shot when she got in trouble."

    Ranma gulped nervously.

    "So I get a call from the ministry of education last
night. Lost my job, but that's okay, really. They gonna
hold a conduct hearing and press criminal charges. 'Cause
o' the coconut thing, 'cause o' the short hair, I'm gonna
swing. Better to go back to Hawaii so they can't hang me in
person, ne?"

    Almost unconsciously, Ranma's hand went to her short,
newly budding pigtail. She suddenly felt uncomfortable next
to the man, as if he were threatening her somehow. It was
just a few days ago that she had trimmed her hair. What
if... what if he looked at her the same way he looked at
the underage model before?

    Ranma had a sudden flash of being tied up like Akane
had been at the Principal's first assembly at Furinkan
high. Instead of hanging above the stage at Furinkan high
with her wrists tied to a broom, she was in the attic of a
Catholic school. The principal advanced on her with a pair
of barber's shears in one hand while unzipping his pants
with the other.

    Ranma shook her head, realizing that her imagination
was running away with her. She forced herself to think
seriously on the matter. Had he ever done anything like
that? He really had never done anything to her other than
be annoying so far as Ranma could remember. He didn't look
threatening. He just looked pathetic.

    Who was Ranma to judge someone who had already judged
himself?

    She suddenly recalled the moment she had seen her
father watching Kasumi  and Nodoka hang the laundry. For
the first time, Ranma realized how beautiful his father
thought Kasumi was. His father may have been a lying,
cheating, sexist pig, but he had always stressed the utmost
politeness and gentleness to Ranma when dealing with the
fairer sex. Even if Genma did look at Kasumi in a sexual
way, Ranma could never believe that he would act on his
feelings.

    Suddenly, Ranma couldn't find it in her heart to fear
or even resent the pathetic man sitting beside her for his
admittance. She didn't think this man would act on his
feelings either.

    "Don't go," Ranma said. "I think you can get through
it."

    The principal shook his head. "Maybe. I kinda doubt
it."

    "I think... I think I can do something. Something to
get the hearing cancelled."
    
    The principal raised one eyebrow in skepticism.

    "Didn't you say that you gave us unsolvable
problems?" Ranma asked. "Didn't we always solve them?"

    The principal just shook his head. "Maybe if the
accusations weren't so strong or if there wasn't so much
evidence..." He sighed and slumped down in his seat. "You
just don't get the Ministry of Education to back down on
something like that, Keiki. They really think I'm a
criminal now."

    "Gimme a day, then," Ranma pleaded.

    "Huh?"

    "Just one day," Ranma stated. "An' if you don't think
the hearing will be called off, then you go ahead. Run away
to Hawaii," she challenged.

    The principal sighed and shrugged. "What the hell.
I'm waiting on standby tickets today anyway. I can get a
first class seat if I wait a day. What can you possibly do
to get me out of this?"

* * *

    "My name is Ranma Saotome, and I would like to
publicly apologize for calling the principal of Furinkan
High School a pervert."

    Ranma winced as the flash bulbs went off all around
her. A little bit of feedback from the microphones and
loudspeakers flared up as well. When she had asked Nabiki
to help her put together a press conference, she hadn't
really expected so much attention.

    As it was, *most* of the Tokyo television stations
and newspapers were out to hear her confession. Ranma
recognized a few faces in the crowd from television. She
suspected that Nabiki had called in every favor she had in
order to pull this off and realized that she was going to
be in debt to the girl for the rest of her life.

    "It all started when we, me and some of my friends,
wanted to go out to lunch instead of eating here..."

    Ranma dove into the details of their battle plans,
laying them bare for the world to see. All around her,
reporters looked at her with keen interest as her story
unfolded. Ranma did her best to keep her facts honest and
unbiased as some of the reporters started to ask questions.
After a few minutes, Kunou stood up beside her behind the
podium the drama club had set up in the school auditorium.

    "As his son, I can attest to my father's innocence of
sexual abuse. The man is many things," Kunou said. "But a
sexual predator he is not."

    After some time, the questions began to trail off and
Nabiki ushered the both of them off stage. Yuka and Sayuri
stood up behind the podium and thanked the press members
profusely before politely asking them to leave.

* * *

    Later that night, the ex-principal walked quietly
through the halls of his ancestral home. Despite the fact
that he rarely slept there, it was still very much his
home. He didn't plan to leave it again.

    His silent footsteps carried him through the house
until he found himself in front of the shuttered room his
son used for practice and meditation.

    "Tacchi," he said. "Thank you for what you did this
morning."

    Tatewaki was silent, his back turned to his father.
In front of him were two unframed photographs, one of Ranma
from before her surgery and one from the press conference
earlier in the day.

    "Don't thank me," the kendoist said. "But thank
instead the pigtailed girl. It was her and her alone who
chose to save you from the fire. If it were me, I would
have left you to rot. Now, leave me alone and never enter
my presence again. I have no desire to see you again. I
will no longer call you 'Father'."

    Silently, the man who had just lost his son turned
away. The next morning, he was sitting in the first class
section on a JAL flight to Oahu.

-----

~to be continued...
* * *
C. Jones - guilty@furinkan.net
http://www.furinkan.net

2001 - "My God, It's full of stars!"


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