This story is a work of fanfiction. As such, it owes a great debt to the creators of the characters used herein: Rumiko Takahashi and Tite Kubo.
An Unsuitable Person
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(Where many people are left confused)
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Akane sat on a roof unaware of her surroundings, the raw hurt completely blinding her. Doctor Tofu... Kasumi... Nabiki... Everything was just like when her mom has died. No, even worse. Back then... Back then they were left alone. Today, she was left utterly alone. Akane hissed in pain, curling into a tighter ball. Kasumi, so dear to her, so nice, an embodiment of the ideal woman whom she always admired dreaming to be just like her. Nabiki, insufferable but so... kin. And the doctor... The childish crush may have passed but he was still someone she felt close to.
And now she had to spend the rest of her life without them. While she... She could do nothing for them. She couldn't stop the disaster, nor could she... She quietly whined knowing she should at least say her good bye but unable to look into the sister's eyes. It was beyond her. Even when the doctor asked, she couldn't... Was there someone calling her name? While tugging at her sleeve?
“..ne-chan, let me share your pain by... CRYING IN YOUR BOSOM!!!”
There was a blinding flash of anger manifesting in a brutal punch. Sliding off her fist, the wrinkled master streaked down like a cannonball raising a huge dust cloud when he broke through a concrete fence. Akane stood there heaving, her arm still outstretched.
Alas, the quiet would not last.
“Akane-chan! Don't be so cruel!” The dirty old man sniffed as he jumped back onto the roof unharmed like a soccer ball after a champion's punt.
“Leave me alone, go to hell!” she barked wiping at the tears, immensely glad there was someone to be angry at. The anger was, after all, her usual escape from the heart-ache.
“How unfair!” The old man pouted. “After all these years I spent for the sake of the school, my own heir...”
“Don't 'heir' me!” hollered Akane. “You disgrace! With such a founder how could I bear my school's name and not feel ashamed!”
“But, Akane-chan...” Happousai sniffed pitifully while encroaching closer.
“Halt!” Rukia's voice came from behind. “Don't you dare to approach her!” Kai landed on the roof crest holding Rukia in her hands. Akane felt a prick of envy: how could the tramp jump better than Ranma? All the while being in Akane's body while Akane herself could manage a couple meters tops...
“Who are you?” asked Rukia as Kai put her down. She eyed the unfamiliar creature with suspicion. For a moment she thought it was a Hollow, but no. He had a material body, which meant it was a human... Or not? She kept looking into him but couldn't determine what her spiritual senses tried to tell her. A cloaked youkai? Didn't look like it. His soul didn't feel like anything familiar: not human nor Hollow, not a Shinigami either, but some unclear blurred mess. For a moment she thought she saw a boiling mass of energy held by chains wrapped around it. Rukia blinked and the image was gone. She was probably just seeing things.
“This is Happousai,” explained Akane. “The master of my father and uncle Saotome.
The old chap, for his part, also studied Rukia intently.
“Shinigami-chan!” exclaimed the wrinkled relic after a short pause. “What an inhuman commander could send a child to fight evil spirits!”
A cross-shaped vein popped on Rukia's forehead with an audible crack. “How dare you to call me a child! I'm a grown woman, Kuchiki Rukia of Thirteenth division and I'm no...”
“Kuchiki...?!” Happousai suddenly backed away. “Aren't you, by any chance, a relative of that zealot Byakuya?”
The number of cross-shaped veins on Rukia's forehead tripled. “Don't you dare to refer to onii-sama with such a disregard, worm!”
“Well, bye,” said the uncharacteristically quiet Happousai. At the edge of the roof he stopped, turned back to them and said: “Akane-chan... If you cross the paths with her brother, be very careful not to anger him. He's a scary man.”
With that, he jumped off the roof disappearing from sight as well as fro Rukia's spiritual senses.
“Don't listen to him,” said Rukia. “Onii-sama is harsh but just. The law is first and foremost for him.” Then added silently: 'The law I broke so many times... I'm afraid to even think how he would react the next time we meet.'
Climbing onto the Kai's subserviently bent back, she urged: “Let's hurry, we have to return soon.”
“Huh...?” was Akane's response. The anger drained away leaving a numb, raw emptiness in her heart. She listlessly followed her mentor. The trip back home didn't take more than three minutes.
As she jumped down from the Kai's back, Rukia addressed Akane: “Who was he, the spirit who turned into that Hollow? Someone you knew?”
Akane was so deep in depression she didn't even hear the words.
“I know...” Rukia stepped closer to look her in the eyes. “I know how much it hurts. But at least he wasn't devoured so he could eventually get to Soul Society.”
“Tofu-sensei...” Akane sniffed. “Kasumi-oneechan... Nabiki-oneechan...”
Rukia stood blinking in confusion. Then it hit her. She grabbed her protege by her shoulders and vigorously shook her. “I told you they're alive! Didn't you hear me at all?”
“Huh...?” Akane stared back with big wet eyes still not understanding.
“Stupid men in black,” grumbled Nabiki as she descended the stairs sporting a smart jacket. Reaching the entranceway she promptly bent down to don her street shoes. “It wasn't enough to flatten these freaks with their flying saucer, nooo! They just had to flatten our TV for a good measure!” She cast a sidelong glance at Rukia who stood in a very strange pose for someone unable to see Akane.
Rukia pretended she was stretching her arms.
“Nabiki-oneechan!” Akane beamed, her nose runny, her eyes shiny with brimming tears.
Turning her back to Nabiki Rukia made scary eyes at Akane: the protege could forget herself in her joy and hug her sister making the heart attack a very real possibility. To her relief Akane limited herself to rivulets of joyful tears.
“If you here for Akane,” Nabiki informed Rrukia, “She's not home.”
“No, no, she's home,” assured her Rukia. “You must be missed her coming a few moments ago.”
“Ah, well,” Nabiki stood up and went for the door. “I'm off!” she announced loudly as she disappeared from the view behind the corner.
“See? Your sisters are fine, even their bruises have been healed,” soothingly said Rukia. “Now let's return you to your body.”
“But where is it?” Akane asked in a tired voice as she looked around. The mighty waves of heartache and joy wore down the ship of her heart leaving her utterly drained.
“Right he...” Rukia frowned while looking around. Kai managed to get lost somehow. “I should find her.” She went into the house finding Kasumi wiping at the last specks in the immaculately clean family room. There were no remains left of the smashed furniture nor the demolished sliding doors, only a clean if a bit too empty and drafty room. Rukia felt losing her grasp of what was going on. Did her search for Akane take that much longer than she thought? Or was the eldest sister of her protege a secret heir to some school of cleaning ninjutsu? In short, stranger and stranger. “Kasumi-san, have you seen where did Akane-chan go?”
Finished, the long-haired housewife paused her dusting: “She must be congratulating Ranma-kun with his return home. He said he'd go take a bath, right after he and Mousse so kindly helped me clean up that awful mess these rude aliens left...”
Akane simply didn't hear anything past these words streaming towards the bathroom on wings of hope: He was alive and he has returned!
The scene that met her made her joy evaporate like the liquid oxygen in a blast furnace. Granted, Ranma was here. Alive, intact... and frantically dodging Kai's advances, the tramp hanging on him like a leech while using her body. She didn't even give him a chance to cover himself! Glomping onto him! While using her body! Flirting and making eyes at him! The nerve of that tramp!! Just a minute out of sight and she did it again!! Ungrateful little creep!!! Why, you...!!!
“KAI, I'LL KILL YOU!!!”
. . .
Ranma knew it would end badly. Very, very badly. Whatever potion Akane drank, whatever charm Shampoo put her under, he'd bet the uncute girl would snap out of it any minute. Then there would be only one outcome: he'd receive a brutal beating.
As he felt a familiar flare of murderous intent he cringed shutting his eyes tight...
What followed instead of the expected beating was Akane's panicked shriek cut abruptly short with a sound of mighty, meaty hit. Opening his eyes in panic he saw his fiancee crash into the far wall, obviously thrown over the basin.
“Akane!” he cried out in horror rushing to her side but slipping on the wet tiles and falling over the basin edge, right onto Mousse who was putting his glasses on. Mousse reacted on reflex throwing him over his shoulder and out of the basin.
The fiancee peeled off the dent wall and fell into the water with a resounding splash, followed by pieces of plaster. “I'll be a good girl,” she informed the audience when she resurfaced, all the while giggling stupidly.
Turning towards the mighty — albeit still cute — bellow from the entrance, the guys saw an unfamiliar girl of diminutive stature. One could mistake her for a twelve-year old if not for the aura of confidence she radiated.
“What are you doing? Trying to kill yourself?!” She made a strange motion as if dragging someone higher than herself by their hair.
“Hey, who the heck are you?” Ranma enquired none too friendly as he hastily covered himself with a towel. There was something suspicious about this runt.
“No shame at all!” Mousse added indignantly.
Not paying them even a slightest attention, the stranger fished Akane out of the basin by the scruff, pulling the bigger girl up with a visible strain then forcefully bringing her hands together.
“Hey!” Ranma snapped at her. “What do you think are you doing?”
She just let go of Akane's scruff.
The tomboy flopped back down into the water. “Owww! It hurts!” she groaned resurfacing.
“I'm extremely disappointed with you!” the stranger berated her crossing her arms and trying to speak in a bass. The effect was more comical than anything but Akane wilted none the less.
“I'm sorry, sensei... I just... She...”
“I wonder if I should start re-training you from the very beginning?” ominously hinted the diminutive girl. “You are slipping again, towards the way of the berserk. Maybe that was the cause behind your failure at today's meditation?”
Re-training...? Sensei...? Ranma was taken aback. What is going on here? Does the uncute tomboy really try to improve herself?
“By the way, who are these?” the stranger asked while casting a measuring look at him and Mousse.
“Saotome Ranma,” he replied casting his own measuring look at the stranger. She held herself with confidence but there was something wrong about her movement, like the body wasn't hers or the like. “Of Saotome Anything-goes school. And this there is Mousse.” He tried but couldn't determine her level: was she a skilled fighter or posed no threat at all? That alone said something.
“He's my fiance, Rukia-sensei,” Akane explained while gingerly attempting to stand up. “Remember, I told... Oww!” Wincing in pain she fell back into the water. No surprise here: she could have a huge bravado, she could be used to forcing herself though any pain — a natural tomboy, how could she deny it? — but the impact that sent her flying was of bone-shattering strength. Heck, you could down Ryouga with such a hit!
He cast a worried glance at his fiancee — what if she had something broken? — but didn't offer to help her stand up: she'd surely snap at him. Still, he asked the question he should have asked in the first place: “Akane, who hit you?”
Her reaction was strange at best. The uncute girl laughed nervously, one hand on the back of her head, like she was caught red-handed on something embarrassing. “Ah... Um... Nobody in particular... Ha-ha-ha...”
He stared, stupefied. She's joking, right? Or is she losing it?
Even the harsh-pretending stranger boggled at this: “Akane...” She sighed. “That won't do.” She fished something out of her pocket... Wait, does she seriously think that...
. . .
Rukia wanted to scream and rip at her own hair. It wasn't enough that her protege royally blundered and it was their luck alone that they were still alive. It wasn't enough to discover that the founder of her pupil's school was a hell knows what if not worse. It wasn't enough for her pupil to commit an act of unbelievable stupidity almost killing herself. No. The situation continued getting worse snowballing down the gutter. Now this fiance here would learn about the Shinigami cutting all her chances to weasel out of this mess. As it was, she didn't just break the regulations, she stomped on them and kicked their dog. So she'd be very lucky to be assigned for a crapper guard duty for the next couple centuries. But no, she felt deep down inside she wouldn't get off that easily.
She wasn't about to give up, however. Approaching him in an absolutely unobtrusive, innocuous way she whipped up the memory replacer...
She didn't even see him move. An untraceable moment later her hand was empty, the pigtailed guy stood glaring at her and lazily throwing the replacer in his hand up and down. He stood in a pretty deceptive combat stance looking at the first glance completely relaxed.
“Give that back at once! You cannot...”
“And you what, can?” The pigtailed guy interrupted her. A serious level martial artist whom she inexcusably underestimated. The fact that she was told — repeatedly — about him being the kick-assiest fiance in all Japan was just adding insult to injury. The harsh lesson of letting your emotions get the better of you.
“Akane,” The pigtailed martial artist glanced at her protege while still keeping Rukia in his field of view, as well as his killing zone. “Tell me the truth. Who hit you?”
“I...” She glanced at Rukia uncertainly. “I, well... I hit me myself.”
“Yourself?!” The fiance dropped his jaw. Then turned his unfriendly eyes at Rukia. “What did you do to her?”
“I failed as a teacher!” Rukia exclaimed in a dramatic voice throwing her hands to the sky. “Oh woe to me, to be cursed with a pupil deprived of any talent!” She pierced Akane with an accusing glare. “My heart weeps looking at your failure after failure! Why, oh why did fate have to punish me so mercilessly!”
Looks like it worked. The fiance backed off grumbling something about his father's adultery — how could that be related to anything? — not to say about the profound pedagogic effect her lecture had on Akane. There was only one matter left to resolve...
“And give that thing back!” She started advancing on the fiance making attemts to snatch the memory replacer. The effort could look futile at the first glance but however fast and agile a martial artist is... Aha,here is it! Always in the wrong time in the wrong place!
The pigtailed martial artist windmilled his feet keeping his balance... but losing the towel in the process. After which he needed his hands for more urgent task than holding a memory replacer not belonging to him. The lighter-like object flew in an arch landing in the basin.
Rukia used the situation to its full extent ushering the indignant Mousse out together with the cowed Ranma who was highly unnerved by the hysterical shrieks of the beet-red Akane. In Rukia's opinion, the troubled girl utterly failed to disguise her embarrassment for a righteous fury... But the fiance bought it, for some reason or the other.
When the guys finished dressing and the dressing room fell quiet Rukia directed her protege towards the hot bath. Worn out by the day's stresses, Akane quickly fell into the limp noodle mode, both bodily and mentally. Alas, Rukia was denied the much deserved relaxation. Instead of soaking she spent a whole hour searching in the basin, around the basin, in the wash-basins that held shampoos and other assorted stuff, even in the dressing room amongst the towels.
The memory replacer was nowhere to be found.
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Shampoo was nodding with a harried smile gripping the polished wood of the ancient staff. She'd seen granny in many moods: good-natured, harsh, even furious like a mountain storm, but this... This was too much. When Cologne forgot he passage of time digging through the chest full of various mementos she could understand and so she readied herself to wait. When Cologne began reminiscing the stories of her youth, she could understand and so she readied herself to listen. But when Cologne went to remember her fiance of ages long past, going into all the juicy details and giggling like a demented schoolgirl... Shampoo kept her polite smile on with sheer willpower alone while wishing for only one thing: to be somewhere far, far away.
The old masters could be outright terrifying at times.
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“Wha... What's this?!” Ukyou lost her voice, the words coming out in a hysterical wheeze.
“It's one of the best modifications I ever made!” proudly replied Tessai while handing the cook her battle spatula. The mustached giant obviously missed her point.
“That's not what I meant!” shrieked Ukyou. “What's this? Right there?” She pointed her shaky finger at the flat of the spatula.
“It's the channeling and focusing sigils,” Tessai went into technical details missing her point again. “This circuit here absorbs the scattered spiritual energy while resonating with your spirit. The entire network is attuned to it making this spatula an unique weapon only you could wield. Then there's another resonator working also as an accumulator, and there's the focusing construct that forms a plane of energy superimposed with the plane of your weapon while also increasing its structural strength. The task many would find impossible,” There was a note of pride in his voice, “but not me. Implanting the silver-filled capillar channels into the base metal I...” He was lost in his explanation drowning his audience with the arcane terminology and hearing no one but himself.
Ukyou wanted to hit her head against the wall. Repeatedly.
“The cross... Why the cross...?” she asked almost crying.
“The cross?” echoed Tessai, clearly confused. He looked down at his handiwork. “Hmm, really a cross...” It seems this was the first time he noticed a huge silvery cross adorning now the flat of the spatula. “An interesting side effect. I didn't expect the solution of the combined equation to manifest as the traditional Quincy symbol...”
“You see,” added Urahara emerging from her back, “The Quincy didn't choose their symbol out of the blue. It's simply the most efficient focus for the type of spiritual energy you use. However you want to call yourself, however you modify their techniques, you still stay a Quincy of sorts.”
“Ain't that comforting, Owner,” Ukyou said with a heavy sigh kneeling down and receiving her weapon from Tessai with both hands, like a samurai sword. “Thank you,” She said with sincere gratitude bowing to the mustached giant. “I acted rudely, blaming you when I should blame... I should blame what I am.” She gripped the handle of the modified spatula whispering almost inaudibly: “So you can't run from your fate...? Wel, I don't give a damn. I'll follow Ran-chan even into the Hell itself.”
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Mousse held his trophy high, triumphant. At last! At the long last! A real arcane artifact! With this he'll win his Xian Pu making her see that Ranma is a honorless... Ahem... He suddenly remembered the guy in question saving his hide. He'll make her see that Ranma is a shameless gigolo and two-timer! Even if you can rely on him in combat.
He looked at his tool of justice. Hmm, looks like an ordinary lighter. How exactly does one use it? It can't be that simply...
*Poof!* A cloud of colored smoke erupted out of the thing, Mousse's eyes following the bird head bobbing on a spring. He was completely hypnotized. Then his hand spasmed.
*Poof!* *Poof!* *Poof!* *POO-POOFF!!!*
A huge cloud of colored smoke rose over some unremarkable rooftop. Then an unlucky hidden weapons master fell out of that cloud like a ragdoll crashing into someone's trashcans below. A burnt out, blackened bird head dropped near him with a muffled tap.
“Beloved, I'm coming...” He tried to rise but flopped back into the pile of trash, the cracked glasses falling off his nose. “Just wait for me... And I'll come...” Her angelic face swam before his eyes beaming a smile at him. She laughed without a care in the world dancing under the emerald-green spring sky, her violet hair tied into a pigtail flowing in the wind... He smiled back at her, and lost his consciousness.
~~ End of Chapter 9 ~~
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Thanks for C&C to:
— Sunshine Temple
Last correction: March 19, 2010
There were none (well, you can count Happousai if you wish)
Обсудить сам фанфик или его перевод можно на нашем форуме (но на форуме нужно зарегистрироваться ^^
Это не сложно ^_^)
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