I don’t own Buffy or Ranma. Thanks for the use.
Note: I know there are comics out there that continue the series. I don’t consider them canon. Story takes place about a year after the end of Buffy and about a month after the end of Angel.
Ranma, red hair drenched with sweat, slowly began to pull his hated female body up again. With a grunt of effort the martial artist finished the one armed pull up. “Two-hundred” Lowering slowly the cursed young Japanese man let go and shook out the left arm. Turning back to the bar he reached up a seemingly dainty right hand, gripped the bar and began pulling. “One” One and half years ago even in his female body he’d been able to keep doing this until he got bored. “Two” One and a half years ago he’d begun to get a grip on the curse. “Three” Now he had to work to keep what muscle he could on this body. “Four” His ki had been locked away. “Five” His manhood had been locked away. “Six” It had taken almost a month of constant death dodging to use what little ki he had left to force a wedge to get access to even a little of his old reserves. “Seven” They were still there. “Eight” Cologne had been able to sense them. “Nine” He just didn’t have access anymore. “Ten” Across the world, in another country, a witch had worked a spell. “Eleven” Two thirds of the female martial artists he knew and every female martial artist over twelve in Nerima except Kodachi had lost most of their ki ability overnight. “Twelve” So far he was the only one to even get some of it back. “Thirteen” This would be his sixth and final attempt to break the spell. “Fourteen” The first two hadn’t worked even a little. “Fifteen” They had left him drained for days. “Sixteen” The next two had been blocked apparently unconsciously. “Seventeen” Ryouga had screwed up the next one. “Eighteen” But, the information the pig boy had unwittingly brought provided the final key. “Nineteen” Today he was going to win. “Twenty” Or he was going to die trying. “Twenty-one” Ranma grinned with no humor at the thought. He’d have to hurry if he wanted to get in a third set before the sun came up.
Lying quietly in bed after a wonderful evening together Kennedy gazed down at Willows gently smiling, sleeping form. A soft smile crept across the Slayers face as she brushed a few stray brown hairs away from her lovers face. Despite the witches enormous power she still slept like a little girl. With any luck this night would be largely uneventful. For the past month Willow had been complaining of powerful intermittent migraines that woke her from even the deepest sleep. Though the research and spells she’d cast had indicated a mystical source for the pain they hadn’t been able to narrow things down yet. Kennedy spooned herself behind the sleeping woman and wrapped an arm around her. It seemed luck was with them tonight. Closing her eyes Kennedy decided to get a nap in before she went patrolling. Before she fell asleep she decided that if the migraines kept up she was going to have to call Buffy.
Nodoka Saotome stretched and pulled her sleeping kimono closely about her. Moving with practiced efficiency she stripped and folded her futon and put it away in its closet. Slipping on her house slippers she made her way out of the bedroom she formerly shared with her departed husband. The chill air of the late fall morning was creeping through the house and she fought off a shiver as she closed the shoji behind her. Stopping briefly she checked her only child’s room and was unsurprised to find her absent. Checking quickly she assured herself that Ranmas pack and belongings were still in the room before she continued down the hallway. The auburn haired woman stopped and mentally slapped herself. He was a man. Beating back tears Nodoka reinforced that line of thinking yet again. A verbal slip like that would have Ranma on the verge of leaving again and the newly devoted mother would do anything to avoid that. Shaking off the haunting thoughts Nodoka turned on the heater for the furo and laid out clothes for her cursed son.
Slipping gracefully into the kitchen Nodoka set the rice cooker on the stove and placed out the tofu to warm up. When her son came in he would undoubtedly be hungry. Pulling her clothing tighter, Nodoka tapped the hot water spigot to make a quick cup of tea. Barbaric but it would beat off the chill until she could make a civilized cup. Clasping her cup in her hands to ward off the nip in the air Nodoka slipped into her geta and walked out across the frost-tinged yard to the newly built Saotome dojo. The sun was just beginning to lighten the horizon as she stepped up onto the attached stairs. The spicy smell of fresh cut exotic wood still lingered about the solidly assembled structure and Nodoka marveled once again at how well her son had built. He’d cut, trimmed, planed and fitted every board by hand and using only those ki-claws he seemed so reluctant to talk about. There wasn’t a nail in the structure and the walls had already shown the ability to host a no-holds barred Ryouga/Ranma conflict. Whatever her son had traded to the Amazons for the wood was apparently more than worth it.
Slowly the matriarch eased the shoji open a crack and peeked into the dark interior of the Saotome dojo. Little light leaked in from the rising sun outside and it took the traditional Japanese woman’s eyes a little while to adjust. Gradually her vision began picking up details within. Off to one side the broken sign of the former Tendo dojo sat waiting for that schools heir to challenge for it. The month was almost up and it looked more and more like the second school of unrestrained grappling was going to become little more than a memory. Making odd shadows in the pink light of dawn the training dummies were neatly arranged against the wall. Sitting in front of the dojo shrine in her locked female form Nodoka’s son sat in quiet meditation. She knew he was preparing for this afternoon; building up the ki charge he believed would break the lock and restore both his manhood and his strength. For his sake she hoped he was right. The mother looked worriedly at her son. She wasn’t sure he could take another failure.
Ranma felt his mother withdraw as silently as she came and took a deep breath. He’d felt her apprehension from across the room and he wasn’t sure if he could blame her. It had been just over a year since he’d lost his gender and strength in a single excruciating moment. A lot had happened since then. Most of it hadn’t been good but he’d found out who his real friends were and more importantly who they weren’t. In the end it had surprised and hurt him more than a little to find which side some had fallen on. But today the tide would turn for the final time. Ironically enough it had been his greatest weakness, the Neko-ken, which led him to discover how to undo the spell. It had taken more than a little help from Cologne but he’d mastered the quasi-demonic power bonded to his soul. In truth if it weren’t for the Neko-ken he’d have probably died a dozen times over this year. Now with both the Neko-ken and ancient matriarch to help he’d finally teach that witch a lesson. The Joketsuzoku sources put her in Chicago somewhere so she should be deep asleep in just a couple of hours. He’d tried doing it the nice way; just easing himself free but every time he’d just be bound to the spell again. No more.
Ranma smiled and opened his eyes. Brushing away the few red strands that had drifted in front of his face he stood up and walked out of the dojo. With a whistle the currently female martial artist bounced over the frozen ground and onto the wooden porch. In just a couple hours he’d either be a man again or a corpse. Quieting his gurgling stomach the Saotome heir made his way inside the house. Whatever happened would be met better after a full meal. A Saotome lived by their stomach after all.
Cologne, most ancient and honored of Joketsuzoku matriarchs looked up from where her great-granddaughter was serving a steaming hot bowl of ramen to a customer and checked the clock. Sighing deeply she grabbed her staff and nimbly hopped out of the kitchen. Nodding to her descendant she picked up a bag of items sent from the village and hopped out of the Neko-hanten.
Mu-tsu watched the old-mummy leave as he stepped into her place almost without breaking the flow of cooking. Despite their differences he wished the young Saotome luck. Glancing over at his purple haired spouse he gave a long sigh. He’d achieved his life-long dream of marrying the woman he loved and the victory had become ashes in his mouth. Through the months that they’d lived together her heart hadn’t softened. She met her matrimonial duties and presented the very picture of a devoted Joketsuzoku wife but he’d had his illusions shattered. No matter how much he loved her or how long they were married she would never love him. Shaking his head at the folly of his youth Mu-tsu dished out another bowl of ramen and spun it through the air over the customer’s heads to his wife.
Quietly stepping around the room Kennedy gathered her weapons and clothing and prepared to go out on patrol. She’d considered waking her paramour to say goodnight but had decided against it. This was probably the best nights sleep the Wiccan had gotten in the past few weeks and the slayer couldn’t bring herself to interrupt it. She smiled down at the gently sleeping Willow. Anyone or anything that wanted to bother her lover tonight would just have to get past her sweet Mexican ass. With a final kiss on the forehead the slayer made her way out of their apartment and onto the streets of Chicago. She had troops to round up and Vampires to slay. It looked to be a good night.
Ranma looked out over the rooftops of Nerima-ku from his perch on top of a water tower. The crisp cold air made him feel more alive than anytime in the past year as it nipped through the thin silk shirt that made up his daily uniform. There was hardly any haze today and the cursed boy could swear that was Fuji way over there. Still he had better get started heading back. He didn’t have near the strength or speed that he used to and it would take a few minutes in his diminished capacity. Still if things worked right he’d soon be better than ever. With the ki control and techniques he’d created or mastered in the past few months he’d able to take ol’ pig boy with one hand. Ranma grimaced as he climbed down from his watch point. The muscle twinge reminded him that he wasn’t there yet and a meeting with Ryouga right now would be sure to set his plans back days. He just wished he could jump down. Reflexes, the result of a lifetime of training, kept getting him in trouble. But soon a fall like this wouldn’t even bother him. Keeping one eye on the rungs of the ladder Ranma looked over the mid morning city. It looked like it was going to be a good day.
Nodoka watched, hiding her nervousness as much as possible, as Cologne continued to set up the items from a sack in an orderly design. Tiny fetish dolls joined intricately carved rocks and other less recognizable objects in a pattern that presumably made sense to its creator. The auburn haired woman shuddered as a particularly nasty object was pulled from the bag. As soon as Ranma returned from whatever last minute errand he’d been running they would begin. As if called, her cursed son hopped gaily through the open shoji. Astonishingly he didn’t look stressed at all. Walking calmly toward her the red head girl gave his mother a tight hug. Nodoka returned the hug warmly and looked down worriedly at her offspring. Blue eyes met hers and Ranma gave her an impudent grin. “Don’t worry mom. It’s all gonna work out fine.” Nodoka reluctantly released her son and made her way to the side of the dojo.
Ranma took a final look over the preparations and then bowed to the Joketsuzoku matriarch. “Thank you great-grandmother for your help both today and in the past. Whatever happens…” he trailed off unsure how to complete the sentence.
“Happens, grandson.” Cologne grinned. Whatever else had changed in Ranma he still wasn’t the most eloquent of speakers. “Now let’s get started. My scout told me a couple minutes ago that her paramour left the house and the witch is apparently sleeping.”
Nodoka looked up interested. “You used some kind of mystical charm to communicate?”
The old woman scoffed. “No. While we have artifacts capable of it they would only have alerted our target.” She pulled out a Nokia cell phone. “Technology, in this case, is much more useful.”
Ranma nodded. “Alright then.” Checking his position Ranma sat down squarely in the middle of a diagram inscribed in the floor. “Now, let’s see how good she is.”
Light flakes of intermittent snow drifted lazily through the air wetting the Chicago streets. Kennedy jogged along at a ground eating pace as she made the rounds of the downtown nightlife area. Well, the alleyways anyway. So far she’d staked two vampires. She’d swing around and check a couple of cemeteries later. Since the destruction of Sunnyvale the slayers had organized into mobile units that swapped territories regularly. They searched out activated slayers and did their best to keep the general supernatural mayhem to a minimum. Kennedy cleared her head as her gut told her to pay more attention. Slowing from her jog the pretty Latino quietly palmed her stake and knife. The stale air of the alley would keep her scent from her prey and if she kept quiet she could hit them before they even knew she was there. Rounding the corner she approached the human seeming pair smoking a cigarette. To the casual eye they were just a couple of toughs keeping out of the cold and damp. An observant person would notice that despite the cold neither one seemed chilled nor that any fog left their mouths when they talked. Of course the crowd walking just beyond the alley mouth noticed nothing. She’d need them a bit farther into the alley. It was more risky but there was less chance that they’d get away or that she’d have to explain her actions to the cops. Again. Casually she kicked a crushed aluminum can.
Rob, The Crusher, stopped talking and glanced over at the noise. He smirked at the scared little girl and nudged his cohort. “What do you think Jake? Think she needs some help?” Jake moved away from the wall they had been leaning on and started advancing on the retreating girl. “I’m sure she does Rob. A couple helpful guys like us was just what she was looking for.” Grinning maliciously the two vampires continued walking towards the girl as she stumblingly tried to make a quiet retreat. Neither thought that the girl would remain quiet long once they revealed their game faces.
Kennedy continued feigning panic and backed up until she was out of sight of the alleyway entrance then she turned and ran. Smiling wickedly she slowed down to let the two vamps catch up then turned to face them. Wiping the smile from her face she gazed steadily at her pursuers.
Rob the slightly brighter of the two started to slow down. A number of things weren’t adding up here. Jake, a little slower on the uptake, saw his chance to grab the girl first and leapt forward. “Sorry man. I guess this time I get it first huh?”
The slayer flipped her stake forward and rammed it through the vamps heart in one smooth motion. With a screech the undead dusted leaving only one slayer and one vamp. Kennedy grinned at the remaining vamp and held up the stake. “I guess he did get it first. But, there’s plenty left for you.”
Rob glanced behind and realized they’d been well and truly suckered. By the time he made a run for it the girl would have that stake pounded through his ribs. Every vampire, demon, and beast had heard about the doings in Sunnyvale and not a one was happy with the sudden bitch-crowd of slayers running around. One was bad enough but the army that Buffy chick had under her now was making unlife difficult for everyone. There wasn’t a ghost of a chance he could take a slayer alone but running just meant he’d die tired.
The dark haired slayer frowned slightly as a tremor ran through her and blue sparks leapt between her fingers. That wasn’t right. She could feel her strength slipping.
Rob was passing beyond scared now and was beginning to rethink the whole running idea. A slayer was bad enough. An angry looking slayer glowing and sparking was enough beyond bad that if he’d still been human he’d be pissing himself. Deciding he didn’t have much to lose the vamp shot down the alley at top speed. He was two miles away before he stopped to look for pursuit and was surprised to find none.
Back in the alley Kennedy raced in the opposite direction. With every step she could feel just a little more of her slayer abilities draining away. She had to get back to Willow before they were gone completely. If anyone could help her hold onto her powers it was the witch that had granted them in the first place.
Nodoka grimaced as another shower of blue sparks flew from her son. His aura had taken the shape of a yowling, great cat and it seemed to be fighting some kind of black shadow in a frightening display of soundless violence. In the center of the maelstrom Ranma sat in lotus position seemingly unmindful of and unaffected by the spiritual war around him.
Cologne sensed an incoming attack and grabbed an Egyptian spirit ring to deflect it. Joketsuzoku artifacts that had taken centuries to gather and charge were being used up at a horrendous rate. If Ranma didn’t win soon, she feared, he wouldn’t win at all. Only the young Wicca’s distance from the target of her magic was keeping the battle as even as it was.
Kennedy heard the screams as she opened the door to the apartment. Running through the living room she watched in horror as her lover writhed and screamed in pain. Sweat flowed in rivulets down the powerful witches face and her hands clutched at the sheets in their bed. Going from a grimace of agony to a glare of anger Willows eyes popped open, their whites glowing a molten gold. A moment later Kennedy felt fear as the eyes flickered from glowing gold to matte black. A sense of pressure was building in the room and the young slayer wasn’t sure what would happen when it broke. Malevolent spells formed and arrowed off into the night as the Wicca broke from her screaming long enough to chant a quick attack before the renewed assault ripped another cry from her lips. In a final spasm of back arching agony a fountain of blue light streamers and white sparks encompassed the Wicca and then faded dropping her exhausted to the bed. Kennedy moved to Willow and cradled the witches head as she began sobbing “I’m sorry.” over and over.
Cologne held tight to the last few pieces of ancient magic and walked warily over to the slumped Saotome heir. Those last few incoming spells had been nasty and she wasn’t entirely sure she’d blocked them all. Seeing movement out of the corner of her eye she waved Ranma’s mother back. If there was something wrong the last thing she’d need is a distraction. “Ranma?”
Ranmas eyes came up and the matriarch was surprised to see tears in them. Slowly the boy’s shoulders started shaking as the tears broke and streamed down the feminine face. Fearing the worst she moved to comfort the boy, then he broke out laughing. The laugh warmed the old woman’s heart as Nodoka rushed to her child’s side. It was a good laugh; a deep belly laugh full of the end of pain and the return of true joy after entirely too long. Cologne felt a surge of ki and Ranma was male once again. The laugh choked off painfully and Ranma fumbled inside his clothing for a moment before breathing a sigh of relief. “Okasan, I don’t care how unfeminine it is I ain’t putting panties on again. Damn things nearly crushed your hopes of a future generation.” Smiling the male Saotome stood up and resumed holding his happily crying mother. “I’m back.”