Subject: [FFML] [Ranma] Pursuit of Happiness Chapter 5
From: "Ben Jernigan" <selfemployedninja@gmail.com>
Date: 11/2/2006, 12:52 AM
To: ffml@anifics.com

Pursuit of Happiness
Chapter 5
By Exar

previous chapters may be found at fanfiction.net or at the lost
library of florestica
____________________________________

Standard Disclaimer applies: I don't own Ranma, I'm just
doing this for fun, not to make money.
____________________________________

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are
created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with
certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life,
Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
____________________________________

Kasumi sat in the bathtub reflecting on her day. She'd
actually gone on a date, something she hadn't done since
grade 9. It had been fun, even though Ranma had clearly
been uncomfortable at first. He seemed to expect an attack
at any moment, and from what she'd heard of his previous
dating experience, she couldn't really blame him.

It was awkward at first. Ranma didn't seem interested in
talking, and Kasumi's conversational gambits at small talk
were mostly unsuccessful. But once they got to the festival,
Ranma relaxed some, and began to open up. As they wandered
aimlessly around, looking at exhibits and booths selling
various trinkets, he told Kasumi stories from his travels
across China and the wilder areas of Japan. When they came
to the carnival section, he proved highly adept at the ring
toss and ball toss games, eventually winning for Kasumi a
large Winnie the Pooh plush doll.

Kasumi sighed and said, "Akane never knew just what she was
throwing away with her mistrust. He was so nice to me tonight."

She lifted her head as she heard the outer door to the bath
slide open. A male voice said, "Oh. The sign's up. Someone's
in there. guess I'll come back."

"It's alright, Ranma. I was just about to get out." Kasumi
said quickly, before he could leave.

"Uh, ok. I'll wait outside." Ranma said and started to open
the door.

"Just wait there, I don't mind."

Silence greeted the Tendo homemaker as she climbed out of
the tub, toweled off and pulled on her nightgown and robe.

She opened the door to the changing room and smiled at Ranma.

"The bath is still warm, enjoy."

As she walked past him, she reached over and took hold of
his arm. Very quietly, she said, "Thank you for a wonderful
time tonight. It's been a long time since anyone has done
anything like that for me."

She leaned over and gave him a chaste kiss on the cheek,
then swept out of the changing room, shutting the door
behind her.

Ranma touched the place on his cheek where the warmth of
her lips seemed to linger.

"Sure, no problem."
____________________________________

Ranma did his own reflecting later on, up in his room. He
did enjoy himself tonight, and was amazed at how smoothly
everything had gone. Even running into Ryoga and Shampoo
hadn't seemed as awkward as he'd feared it would be. Though
why Ryoga seemed to make a pass at Kasumi was beyond him. But
Shampoo actually seemed pretty happy. Ranma felt a stab of
guilt at realizing that Shampoo had probably never been on
a normal date before. Every one the two of them had been on
was always really about something else. Either Shampoo
blackmailed it out of him, or she had something he wanted.

"Maybe she just likes being with someone who likes being with
her, but isn't all obsessive like Mousse." He mused.

The date with Kasumi had been fun, and not nearly as boring
as he had feared. Sure Kasumi was a housewife, but it didn't
mean her interests stopped at the door. He had been secretly
worried all she would want to talk about was cooking and
gossip about the neighbors. But to his grateful surprise, she
had a range of interests nearly as eclectic as his. He'd never
known before tonight about her deep love of spy novels. Her
favorite author was apparently a British man named Jack Higgins.
His stories featured various desperate characters who fought
overwhelming odds and held to their own rough and tumble code
of honor and justice. The concept appealed to Ranma.

There had also been a lot to eat, which was a big plus in
Ranma's book. Kasumi didn't cook most of it, which was
unfortunate, but it was still pretty good. Those octopus
balls were yummy. But the box dinner that Kasumi had packed
for them to eat while watching the fireworks had been incredible.
Her cooking was always great, but there had been something
special about that dinner. Like she had taken special care or
simply given her all to it.

Ranma wondered what life could be like if he stayed with Kasumi
forever. Pretty good, he thought.
____________________________________

Ryoga sighed as he looked at the stars. He was laying on a
hillside, the grass dry and warm with the dying of summer. Shampoo
lay beside him, her head on his chest, where she'd fallen asleep.

"She's so beautiful," he whispered, stroking her hair.

The night had been surreal for the eternally lost boy. As the
time till the festival had approached, Shampoo had seemed to get
more and more angry with him for ruining her date with Ranma. But
when it was time to leave, She had smiled at Ryoga and told him she
was going to try to have a good time, and just forget about Ranma
for tonight.

They had ended up having a very good time. Ryoga's Casanova point
letting him know just what to say and do, and never letting his
nervous nature come to the fore. He regretted it hadn't been with
Akane, but he had admit it had been a very good date. he'd even
managed to avoid going out of control and hitting on other women,
aside from one unfortunate slip with Kasumi.

Then they had come to this hillside to watch the fireworks. The
two martial artist had laid down in the comfortable grass, close
to each other but not indecently so. But as they watched the
beautiful blossoms of fire and light, Shampoo inched closer to
Ryoga. Finally she was curled up against his side, and stroking
his cheek. Ryoga assumed that it was the Casanova point that made
him take her hand in his and gently claim her lips. She kissed him
back fiercely, passionately, and wrapped her arms around him. They
stayed there for several minutes, stopping only to breathe and
whisper sweet nothings. Eventually, they wound down and Shampoo
remembered herself.

"Ryoga," she said quietly, "Shampoo so sorry. Shampoo know you not
Airen, and she know you love Kitchen Destroyer Girl, but Shampoo
so lonely. She so far from her home, she never see her friends
anymore, never see her mother. Shampoo just want feel loved for a
little while."

She kissed him again, lightly and oh so gently, her lips salty with
the flavor of her tears.  Then she slid down and laid her head on
his chest, continuing to cry. She made quite a wet spot on his
yellow tunic before she finally drifted to sleep, leaving Ryoga
alone with his thoughts.

In the darkness a dozen yards away, starlight gleamed off a pair
of round glasses.
____________________________________

Later that evening, Shampoo led Ryoga back to the cat cafe and set
up a cot for the young man. Cologne looked up from her reading at
the sound of the door, and went to investigate. Looking down the
stairs from the top of her cane, she watched Shampoo kiss Ryoga's
forehead before climbing the stairs to go to her own room for the
night.

"Shampoo, unless these old eyes are finally giving out, that young
man is not Son-in-Law." The old woman said quietly.

Shampoo gazed at her grandmother with a troubled look on her face.

"Perhaps he should be, Great Grandmother."

Cologne's face creased (more) with worry as she put a hand on
Shampoo's shoulder.

"Child, you know that he doesn't love you. It's only that pressure
point talking. He's obsessed with that Tendo girl, as surely as
the Part Timer is obsessed with you."

Fresh tears slid down Shampoo's cheeks as she replied. "Shampoo knows,
but it was so nice to be loved, even for just a day. Even though
Shampoo know it not real."

The Amazon elder pursed her lips and thought for a moment, then
spoke again.

"If you wish to try, Shampoo, this one is almost as good a fighter
as Son-in-Law. If you can steal his heart, he would be a fine addition
to the tribe, and father many strong daughters. But be careful, Child.
I don't wish to see you get your heart broken yet again."

Shampoo gave Cologne a hug and said, "Thank you, Great Grandmother.
Shampoo will be careful."
____________________________________

The next morning, Ryoga awoke from a sound slumber to find himself
tied to a tree. He looked around, trying to figure out where he was
and how he got there.

"So, finally awake, Hibiki? Good."

Striding around from behind the tree came Mousse, holding a quartet
of throwing knives in one hand and smiling cruelly.

"Thought you could steal my Shampoo away from me, Hibiki? Right in
front of me, no less? It's bad enough having to compete with that
idiot Saotome, but having a directionally challenged buffoon like
you interfering in our future happiness is the limit!"

"Future happiness? Mousse, what are you talking about? I went on
one date with her. That's more than you've ever had with her." Ryoga
struggled with his bonds as he talked, testing the strength of the
stout cords that held him to the tree.

"That's why I'm mad, you moron! I've stood by her all this time,
and when her loneliness overcomes her, who does she turn to? YOU!
Not me, the faithful one who's been there for her, who's longed for
her, but you, some idiot transformed by a pressure point into the
perfect man."

Mousse twirled the knives in his hand for effect. They flashed in
the early morning light very prettily. Ryoga swallowed noisily.

"So I'm going to get you out of the way, Hibiki. At least till that
damned pressure point wears off, or maybe permanently, I haven't
made up my mind yet. I suppose if you begged, I might lean one way
or the other. Also, I happen to have a little bit of the spring of
drowned duck water left. Do you want to see if we can make a pig
fly?" The myopic martial artist chuckled with glee.

At the suggestion of tampering with his curse, Ryoga decided he was
tired of being tied up, and definitely tired of listening to Mousse.
With a mighty heave, Ryoga uprooted the tree and bent at the waist,
clobbering Mousse with the trunk. He then twisted to the side and
streched out his arms, snapping the stout cords like string.

Mousse groggily got to his feet and stared at Ryoga in horror.

"That was braided parachute line! What kind of monster are you, Hibiki?"

The eternally lost one grimaced, balled his hands into fists hard
enough to make his knuckles pop audibly, and replied, "The kind
that's thoroughly pissed off at you, Duck Boy."

With a inarticulate battle cry, Ryoga charged at Mousse, cocking
back his fist to pummel the Master of Hidden weapons into the
ground. Mousse quickly backpedaled, desperate to get some distance
between himself and the seemingly homicidal lost boy.

With a flick of his wrist, he launched all four of his throwing
knives at Ryoga, trying to stall him. Ryoga quickly parried three
with a thrown bandanna, but wasn't quite fast enough to dodge the
fourth. It lodged itself in his upper arm. The pig cursed martial
artist swore and pulled out the knife, taking a second to wrap
another bandanna around the wound.

Mousse took full advantage of Ryoga's distraction and leaped to the
top of a nearby streetlight. From there he let loose a barrage of
thrown weapons, shuriken, chains, swords on chains, explosive eggs
and anything else at hand. Ryoga whipped off his belt and knocked
projectiles from the air as fast as he could. He still got stung
by a handful of small shuriken, and couldn't quite get out of the
way of what seemed to be a silver sink with faucet still attached,
but he came out fairly unscathed.

"Is that the best you've got, Mousse? Is that all you can do, Duck
Boy? You seem to like throwing things, try this on for size!"

Ryoga whipped a cloud of bandannas off his head and into the air,
filling the space between him and the streetlight with an
orange-and-black cloud of death. Then after a second's delay, he
lobbed Mousse's own knife back at the Hidden Weapons user.

Mousse lashed out with a pair of chains from each arm and expertly
deflected all of the ki-sharpened cloth weapons. Then he dropped
his defense to gloat.

"It seems that you can do no better, Hibi-urk!"

The blind martial artist was cut off mid taunt by his own knife
hitting him square between the eyes. His body hit the pavement
with a sickening thump. Ryoga slowly walked up to his fallen foe
with a grim expression on his face. Mousse's face was red, and he
had a dark square bruise between his eyes shaped like the pommel of
his throwing dagger.

Ryoga grunted. "Asshole. I should have made the other end hit him.
Oh, well. Let's get you home, Mousse."

Ryoga picked up the young Chinese man and slung him over his
shoulder, preparing to head to the Cat Cafe and actually looking
down the road towards Yokohama, when a voice from behind him
startled him.

"Thank you, Ryoga. You could have killed stupid Mousse and you
didn't. After what he did, few would have blamed you. As much as
he makes Shampoo angry, Shampoo not want him dead."

Ryoga turned to see the purple tressed amazon standing at the
edge of the park he and Mousse had fought in. She walked up to
Ryoga and kissed him softly on the cheek, then took his hand and
led him back to the restaurant she called home.

All the way back, Ryoga's mind was in a whirl. He couldn't stop
thinking of Akane, he loved her, and loved being P-chan for her.
But at the same time, he couldn't forget how it felt when Shampoo
kissed him, and what her hand, still holding his, felt like.

Akane loved Ranma, Ryoga grudgingly admitted, but she loved Ryoga
as long as he was P-chan. But it seemed that Shampoo was at least
interested in loving Ryoga as a man. Or was it just the way the
pressure point made him act that interested her? He resolved to
find out.
____________________________________

Ranma sat in his room, reading the latest Dragonball manga and
eating some 'Hello Panda' cookies.

Goku was getting thrashed by some silly looking, but apparently
powerful opponent. Ranma grabbed a cookie and bit the head of
the cartoon panda off, pretending in his mind's eye that it was
his father.

A few pages and minutes later, his hand reached out for another
cookie, only to find the box empty.

"Crap, I want some more pandas." Ranma said.

He got up and checked his stash in the closet, empty. 'Damn
old man.'

Stepping into the hall, he went to check his second stash, a
shoe box in Nabiki's closet he rented from her with the proviso
that she was the only on who went through it.

His spirits dropped when she answered her door with a brown
smudge of chocolate in the corner of her mouth. Glancing behind
her, he saw two of the familiar red boxes on her bed, clearly
empty.

"Aww, Nabiki. My pandas."

With a slightly guilty look, she stepped into the doorway,
belatedly blocking his view of her room.

"Look, Saotome, I'm sorry, but I got an incredibly strong
chocolate craving, and your pandas were the closest source. You
know I need chocolate like a vampire needs blood. Now here, take
this 1000 yen and go get yourself 2 more boxes."

She handed him a wadded up bill, though he had to tug a bit to get
her to actually let go.

"But Nabiki, each box is only 250 yen."

"Of course Saotome. The extra is for my two boxes."

"So not only did you eat my cookies, I'm now your errand boy, too?"

"Look, Ranma-baby, you came here cause you wanted Pandas, right?
Since there aren't any here, you'll obviously go get more, and a
big strong guy like you can easily bring back an extra two boxes
for little old me, right?"

Ranma sighed in frustration, then said, "Fine, whatever. I'll be
back in a bit."

"I'll be waiting Saotome. Don't make me wait too long, Ranma-baby,"
Nabiki purred as she closed her door.

Ranma looked up from the money in his hand to see Kasumi standing
in the hall.

"What was that all about, Ranma? Cheating on me so soon? And with
my own sister? Oh, to be tossed aside at such a young age, used and
abandoned by Ranma Saotome, enemy of women." She sighed dramatically
and leaned against the wall in faux despair.

Ranma panicked. "No Kasumi!! It wasn't anything like that at all!
Nabiki ate my chocolates and gave me money to go get more and then
told me to get more for her, too! That's all I promise I wouldn't do
that to you, Kasumi!!" Ranma blurted and was about to employ the
Crouch of The Wild Tiger when he heard Kasumi giggle.

"Nabiki is right, it is a lot of fun to tease you, Ranma. I'm sorry,
I couldn't resist. But since you're going to the store anyway, would
you mind?"

Ranma frowned, his heart starting to slow from its previous frenetic
pace. "That wasn't very nice, Kasumi."

"No, but it was funny. So will you do something for me?"

"Sure, Kasumi, what do you want?"

She sidled up to Ranma and daintily slapped 250 yen into his hand.

"A box of chocolate pandas."

Ranma blinked at her and said, "Uh, sure."
____________________________________

Ranma strolled slowing through the park, a plastic bag dangling from
his hand with four boxes of 'Hello Panda' cookies in it, the fifth
being in his other hand.

He tossed one in his mouth and crunched happily on it as he walked
past a fountain.

He sat down on the fountain's edge and relaxed for a minute. It was
a really nice day out. It had been a cold night last night, but the
late morning sun and a warm breeze off the ocean had dispelled the
chill from the air.

He thought about what Cologne told him two days ago, about the nature
of Ki.

'When the Doc hit me with those bones the other day, I didn't feel
any emotional charge to them, so he must be past that stage of
development. But that means I'm way behind. Even if I learn to use an
emotion based Ki attack, I'll be at a disadvantage. I need to jump
past that to the next stage, but how?'

Totally engrossed in his thoughts, Ranma's hand slipped from his lap
to dip into the water of the fountain.

"Aah! Cold!"

He shook the water off of his hand and rubbed it against his pants.
The pool still held the chill of the night before. It was as cold
as ice.

'Ice.'

Ranma's eyes widened in realization. He slapped his fist into his palm.

"Ice! That's it! I can use that Soul of Ice thing the old ghoul
taught me to bypass the emotional Ki attacks. It's like a shortcut!"

He quickly stood and focused briefly, entering the Soul of Ice. He
thrust his hands out in front of him and let loose his battle aura.
The fountain clearing of the park lit up with an eerie blue glow. He
tried with all his might to channel his aura into his hands, into the
air between them.

Suddenly, he stopped, grabbed the bag full of cookies and put it on a
bench 30 feet away, then came back and started over.

Slowly, oh so slowly, his aura condensed between his hands, swirling
there like a glowing spirit seeking release. When it built up to the
point where Ranma could no longer contain it, he jabbed his hand
towards a nearby tree and mentally "pushed" the ball of icy Ki away
from himself.

Something akin to a snowball smushed into the tree at slightly over
the speed of a badly throw baseball.

Ranma sagged to his knees in mental exhaustion. This was going to take
a lot of work.

To be continued...

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