The Crispy Rat
Welcome back, and thanks for all the fish. Reviews! I mean reviews! The improbability drive is down so I still don’t own Ranma or Buffy. Weebee is the hoopy frood who is acting as my proofreader. Any Buffy bashing is for amusement factor only. And I am wearing my fire rat trench coat, there is a squirrel standing in front of me, and I have an Elder Sigil. I also have Kasumi standing by with the Borg shielding. That said, feel free to review. Now where did I put that towel…
In the seedier part of Sunnydale, two girls were approaching the dilapidated building jokingly called a motel. It would have been condemned years ago, had the building inspector not been eaten. As she entered Faith's room, Ranma could not help but incredulously ask, “You live here?”
“Yeah,” Faith said defensively. “What of it?”
The redhead looked over the room quickly, her trained eyes picking up things even a Slayer would miss. The slight discoloring of the wallpaper, small scratch marks on the furniture, and other indications that all was not right in the room. “I've stayed in worse,” Ranma admitted with a shrug. “It's a good place to crash for a day or two if you don't have any money. If you don't mind lice, fleas, rats, cockroaches, mold, and other annoyances. These places are never clean. And the staff can't be trusted.”
“Yeah, so?” Faith asked, disturbed by the list of possible problems her room could contain, but still defensive of her not so chosen domicile.
“Well, we have money now,” Ranma stated, dumping their loot onto the bed. “We might as well use it for something useful.”
“We?” Faith asked, a strange emotion coloring her voice.
“Yeah, sure, I guess,” Ranma replied, scratching the base of her pigtail. “If you still want me around, that is,” she added forlornly.
“Why wouldn't I want you around? You're a lot more fun than the others.”
“I told you, I'm not really a girl,” Ranma reminded her. “Look, I'll go get some hot water, and I'll show you. Nobody ever believes me at first, even when they no about magic. At least not without a demonstration.”
Faith replied, “Go knock yourself out,” before turning to the paper that the hotel management had taped to her door. She started chuckling right before a shriek of feminine rage emanated from the bathroom. “What a time for the fucking water heater to break. Yo, Ranma! We've got a coffee pot out here!” A minute later, an annoyed, damp redhead stomped out of the bathroom, grabbed the coffee pot, and returned to the bathroom to fill it.
“This had better work,” Ranma grouched as she poured the water into the coffee maker and pushed the on button. She waited expectantly for a minute. Nothing happened. After another three minutes and nothing happening, her patience gave out. “What is wrong with this thing?” she demanded.
“It worked this morning,” Faith assured her shorter companion. “Maybe the cleaning people accidentally unplugged it?” A quick check showed that the coffee pot was plugged in. It also revealed the real culprit. Lying next to a gnawed power cord was a crispy rat. “Fuck, what are the chances of that happening?”
“Annoyingly high,” Ranma growled. Now I'll have to wait until tomorrow.” Getting ready for bed, meaning changing into a pair of boxers and an undershirt, Ranma continued, “Just keep in mind that I'm really a guy and don't do anything you'll hit me for later.”
“Fine,” Faith replied, also getting dressed for bed. Unfortunately, for Ranma, Faith preferred to sleep in the nude. When Ranma squawked a protest and stared determinedly into the corner away from Faith, the Slayer admonished, “Stop that! I'm not going to fucking beat you for seeing something you already have! Now go to bed; we've got to get up damned early tomorrow.”
Resigning herself to the imminent beating for seeing Faith naked, Ranma rolled over in her bed and went to sleep, thinking of ways to avoid the pummeling. Perhaps the Crouch of the Wild Tiger would work, though she doubted anyone outside of Nerima would buy that one. If all else failed, there was always the Saotome Secret Technique. There was no way in hell that she was going to live with another abusive female, especially without an engagement to tie her there.
All too soon, the sun was rising in the east, sending light through there window, and the alarm clock was making the garish noise they are known for. Wait, the noise stopped. That did not take long at all. Too bad about the clock, though; may it rest in pieces. “Time to get up already?” Faith asked. “What the fuck? I just got to sleep!” Looking over at Ranma while she stretched, Faith noticed that Ranma was still sprawled out on her bed, fast asleep. An evil grin spread across the Slayer's face as a plan began to form. That is, it was a mischievously evil grin not an evil evil grin, as demonstrated when Faith issued her ultimatum, “Ranma, get up now, or I'm going to jump on you and tickle the shit out of you!”
Ranma snored a little louder, but otherwise made no response.
Faith's grin spread even wider, and she pounced. Oddly, to anyone that knows Ranma and her sleeping habits at least, the Slayer landed exactly where she wanted to: nose to nose, and on top of Ranma. Hands flew up and down Ranma's sides, tickling with Slayer speed. After only a few minutes, Ranma stirred.
As she awoke, Ranma immediately noticed one thing. She was in bed. With a naked female. This could mean naught but one thing: she was going to die. “Damn it, Shampoo! Get off me!”
Satisfied that her roommate was awake, Faith sat back. Her curiosity quickly overcame her, admittedly lacking, impulse control, and she asked, “What did you just call me?”
Ranma finally woke up enough to actually look around and take stock of her surroundings. “Oh, Faith. It's just you.” Shivering slightly at what she had thought was happening, she explained, “Shampoo was one of the girls trying to marry me back in Nerima. She'd sneak into my futon nude. Akane always blamed and pounded me for being a pervert.”
Faith couldn't help but blink in surprise. “She considered that perverted?” she asked.
“Apparently, being walked in on in the bath is also perverted,” Ranma griped.
“She called you a perv when she was the one to walk in on you?” Faith asked, seeking clarification. At Ranma's nod of affirmation, she added, “That's fucked up.”
Nodding her head in agreement, Ranma sat up and tried to stand, only to notice that Faith, still naked, was sitting on her legs. “Um, Faith? Could you get off me? We still need to get ready to go.”
“But I'm comfy,” Faith jokingly whined. Rolling off the redhead, she relented, “Fine, I'll get off. We are supposed to be at the school in an hour, I think.” Walking over to the bathroom, she called over her shoulder, “I've got the shower first.” With a naughty grin, she added, “Unless you want to share?”
Ranma was so shocked, she could only stare after Faith as she entered the bathroom; then she noticed that Faith was still completely and utterly naked. “Gah!” she squawked as she launched herself under the covers, still expecting the usual blunt trauma.
Faith poked her head out of the bathroom and laughed at the redhead cowering on her bed. “So you're not going to take a shower with me? It'd just be us two girls; what's wrong with that?”
“I turn back into a guy with hot water,” Ranma shouted back.
“So?” Faith asked. “The damned hot water heater is broken. All we've got is cold water.” Despite the truth of Faith's argument, Ranma did not join her roommate in the shower, instead waiting for Fait to finish before using it herself.
Once both girls were squeaky clean and dressed, they left for the school, stopping only at a diner for breakfast. The cook must have been a relatively good vampire, because any human receiving such a large order, at least outside of Nerima, would have had a heart attack. Both girls were quite satisfied with their $60 breakfast, paid for by the vampires fought the night before, as the food was of surprisingly good quality, and the place did not skimp on serving sizes. Both Faith and Ranma individually vowed to keep the vampire cook in the land of the slightly-less-dead.
Their hunger sated for the moment, the insanely powerful martial artist and the Slayer continued on their way to Sunnydale High School, arriving a full hour before the majority of normal people would be arriving. As the pair walked into the library, they heard Buffy whine, “But she has to be a demon!”
Giles rebutted with, “There is no evidence, save a possibly exaggerated story of her abilities, to support such an accusation.” He noticed that the two girls, one of whom they were discussing, too late to safely change the subject, though he tried valiantly anyways, “Ah, Ranma, Faith, you're here. Good. I shall endeavor to prepare your room by tonight, so you can move in with me. Also, I've taken the liberty to enroll you here. You are a sophomore, correct?”
“Huh?” Ranma replied intelligently. “Um, yeah, I think I'm a sophomore. Why do I have to go to school, anyways? Faith doesn't go, does she?”
“Hm, you're right,” Giles agreed. “I'll register Faith as well.” If glares could kill, Faith would have reduced Ranma to her constituent sub-atomic particles right then. Luckily, for Ranma, most glares are incapable of killing anything.
“Thanks a lot, Ranma,” she groused. “He hadn't noticed until you fucking told him.”
“Hey, don't blame me!” Ranma shot back. “I was trying to get out of it!” Turning back to Giles, Ranma added, “No offense, but I already told Faith I'd stay with her and try to find a better place to stay than her motel. It's not really a good place to crash for a night let alone live in.”
“Yes, well,” Giles replied, employing his British stiff upper lip to the fullest, “if you truly feel that way, perhaps we can find some other arrangement.”
“Wouldn't a three bedroom house work?” Ranma asked herself, though no one paid it any mind.
“So what type of demon are you?” Buffy impatiently, and rudely, asked.
“I'm not a demon!” Ranma protested hotly.
“Ha!” Buffy cried. “She denied it! She must be trying to trick us!”
“B, she's not a demon,” Faith stated. “She was with me the whole fucking night; I think I would have noticed.”
“She's brainwashed you!” Buffy accused, finally pissing Ranma off enough to do something about it. While the others watched, Ranma vanished from view, only blurring to the Slayers, and, suddenly, Buffy collapsed, only to be caught by Ranma and lowered to the floor.
“What did you do to Buffy?” Willow demanded.
Ranma shrugged. “She was being annoying, so I made her stop. She should wake up before class.”
“Yes, quite,” Giles replied, while cleaning his glasses. “Was that entirely necessary? You do know that she'll use this as evidence of you being a demon, correct?”
“Yes, it was necessary,” Ranma answered. “That was the fastest way for me to shut her up without hurting her. Besides, if I wanted any of you dead, do you really think you'd be alive right now?”
“What, exactly, do you mean by that?” Giles inquired.
“I've been in battles that have leveled mountains. Do you really think two Slayers could stop me?”
“A crossbow to the heart would work,” Xander opined.
“No it wouldn’t,” Ranma declared. “A crossbow bolt is slower than a thrown bandana, and I can already dodge those.” At this point, only Faith really believed her. “Besides, what would you do with my body? My human body.”
“If you're human, and not a demon, then what are you?” Willow asked. “Last night you said you weren't really a girl.”
“I'm a guy, damn it!” Ranma hotly proclaimed, surprising everyone not named Faith.
“You are the most stacked guy I've ever met,” Xander quipped with a perfect deadpan. It also earned him a smack on the back of the head from Willow.
“If you don't mind me asking,” Giles began, “if you are, indeed, a man, why do you look like a young woman?”
“It's a curse,” came Ranma's succinct answer.
“Being a woman is not a crime!” Willow declared, preparing to work up to a feminist rant. The good kind, not the psycho kind.
Before Willow's rant could commence, let alone gather steam, Ranma cut in with her explanation, “It is a curse when you're born male, raised to be a 'man amongst men' for sixteen years, and then fall into a cursed pool that turns you into a girl every time you get splashed by cold water, and you can't get any hot water!”
“It's true.” Faith corroborated. “Neither of us has managed to get within three fucking feet of hot water since I met her!” The waitress tried to bring us water five times before we finally gave up!”
“That is unusual,” Giles admitted, “even on the Hellmouth.” After a moment of consideration, Giles continued, “Oh dear. It seems that I have erred in regards to your paperwork. I indicated you were female. I suppose you will have to attend as you are. I most sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.”
“Why can't you just fix my registration?” Ranma demanded. “I don't want to be stuck as a girl again!”
“I really am sorry,” Giles reiterate placatingly, “But the principal is nothing if not unreasonable. He would never allow it. Especially not while you look like that.”
“He's a miserable little troll,” Xander added. “And he likes making everyone else miserable, too.”
“Why did you want me to come in this early?” a new arrival asked as she strode into the library. “If anyone ever finds out I came to the library this early, my reputation will be ruined!” Upon noticing Ranma, she stopped her self-centered whining and inquired, “Who's the new girl?” Before anyone could respond, she considered with her fashion assessment, “Her clothing's a little weird, Asian or something, but she makes it work, mostly because she's Asian. If her outfit wasn't two sizes too large and she wore a bra, then she'd pass inspection.”
“Thanks, I think?” Ranma replied uncertainly.
“Yes, well,” Giles began, after replacing his glasses, having once again cleaned them, “Cordelia, this is, apparently, my son, Ranma.”
“Apparently your son?” Cordelia parroted sarcastically. “I think you need a stronger prescription, because your 'son' looks like a girl from here.”
“It's a curse, damn it!” Ranma exclaimed in exasperation.
“Honey, that is not a curse,” Cordelia explained, patronizing the younger girl. “That body is a blessing.”
“She means that literally,” Faith commented. “Real fucked up magic shit.”
“Whatever. Just don't rub any of it off on me.”
“Hm, yes,” Giles began while heading to the door. “Now that the office is open, I'll register you, Faith, so you should be able to begin classes today with Ranma.”
“Oh goody,” came the youngest brunette's response. Giles, having already left the room, did not hear her.
“Why is Buffy on the floor? Cordelia asked, having finally noticed the blonde.
“She really pissed me off,” Ranma stated.
“I'll admit that she really shouldn't have kept calling you a demon,” Willow allowed, “but was that really necessary?”
“Yes, yes it was,” both Faith and Ranma replied. Ranma continued, “She was calling me a demon, just because I'm a better fighter than a Slayer, according to Faith. I've never even seen a Slayer fight! She's just lucky I only hit her sleep point.”
“How much longer is she going to be out?” Cordelia asked. “Snyder gives us enough trouble without Buffy sleeping through class.”
“I hit one of the shorter lasting pressure points,” Ranma explained. “So, she should be waking up right about ... now.”
Right on cue, Buffy stretched and yawned. “Why am I sleeping in the library? I wasn't up that late last night.”
“Apparently, Ranma knows the Vulcan Neck Pinch,” Xander quipped.
“The what?” Ranma asked, not getting the cultural reference. Growing up in the wilderness will do that to a person.
“What did you do to me?” Buffy demanded, looking around for anything she could use as a weapon.
“You were being annoying, so I put you to sleep for a while.”
“See, Giles? She really is a demon!” Buffy claimed, having not yet noticed that Giles was not currently present.
“Do you want me to knock you out again?” Ranma asked rhetorically.
“Ha!” Buffy scoffed. “You just got lucky.”
“You know, if I really was a demon, and wanted to make you suffer,” Ranma said slowly, “there are things I could do that are far worse than simply making you take a short nap.”
“Well, speaking purely from personal experience,” the redhead began, “there's temporary paralysis, pain, permanently making you painfully sensitive to even lukewarm water, and making you as weak as a newborn baby.”
“What do you mean by personal experience?” Willow asked.
“I've had each of those done to me within the last year,” Ranma admitted. “The last two were the worst.”
“If you're as weak as a baby,” Faith started curiously, “then why didn't you have any problem carrying me?”
“I never said those problems were always permanent, or that there weren't anyways around the permanent ones,” Ranma explained sagely. “You'd have to get me really mad to use any of those, though. I'd probably turn you into a boy or a pig or something first.”
“See?” Buffy cried, pointing at Ranma. “She's admitting her evil powers!”
“Um, no,” Ranma retorted. “Anyone could do that. All it takes is to get some special packets mail ordered from this certain Chinese company.”
“Can we get off the fucking demon shtick already?” Faith asked impatiently. “It was amusing, for the first five minutes or so, but now it's just fucking annoying. B, Ranma is not a demon. She's really a guy with a curse that makes him a girl. Deal with it and move on.”
“So she's a shape changing demon!” Buffy declared smugly. If it were not so close to class time, she would have been taking another nap right around then.
“I am not a demon!” Ranma shouted, now quite irate. “Anyone can get as strong as I am if they train for at least ten years using the most potent, dangerous training methods around!” With a wince, she added, “Pops was always a 'sink or swim' style teacher. Sometimes literally.”
Before the argument could continue, and more than likely turn physical, Giles returned. “Ah, good, you're all here and awake,” he began, observing that Buffy was awake and that no one had wandered away. “Both Ranma and Faith are going to be attending school here, so I want the rest of you to watch out for them. More to keep them out of trouble than to keep them safe.”
“Hey!” both aforementioned girls complained.
“I have school records for both of you,” Giles said flatly. “Ranma, if your records were not in Japanese, there is no way the administration would have allowed you to be registered, and that is based solely on what I managed to make out.”
“I never started any of that!” Ranma protested indignantly.
“Be that as it may, you have been involved in more fights at school over the years than Buffy has since becoming the Slayer. Faith, you need to be on your best behavior. You are already on probation because of your history of beating up the sports teams. As it is, I had to use Buffy's recent success to get you in.”
“There was a reason I was beating them up,” Faith muttered sourly. “And I wasn't even a Slayer then.”
“Yes, well,” Giles replied, cleaning his glasses yet again. “Regardless, please refrain from any more unnecessary violence.”
“A Slayer, refraining from violence?” Xander asked jokingly. “Somehow, I can't picture it.” For that comment, he earned a smack to the head from Buffy.
“In any case,” Giles continued, now pinching the bridge of his nose, “it is time for all of you to go to class. We’ll meet here for more research, and Buffy’s training, after school. Any questions?”
Seeing the question Ranma was about to ask in her eyes, Faith quickly said, “That’s great. Can Ranma and I have our schedules?” As soon as the twin papers hit her hand, she was gone, pulling a surprised Ranma behind her.
“What did you do that for?” Ranma demanded once Faith had slowed down. “I had a question!”
“And I didn’t want you to ask that question,” Faith replied with an eye roll.
“But why didn’t they mention your training?” the redhead asked anxiously.
“Look,” Faith began. “A Watcher is only supposed to be in charge of one Slayer. Buffy was, and is, Giles’ first Slayer. He doesn’t have time left over to teach me, too.”
Ranma’s face set into a look of determination, and she replied, “Then there is only one thing to do.”
“Yeah? And what’s that?” Faith asked. “Kill Buffy? I don’t think the G-man would appreciate that.”
“Of course not!” Ranma exclaimed before realizing that Faith was only joking. “I’m going to call Pops. I need to get permission to teach.”
“Oh.” After a second, Ranma’s words actually registered. “Wait, what the fuck?”
“I need to get permission from the Grandmaster or Master of my style in order to teach,” Ranma explained. “We’ll show them what a Slayer can really do!” Mainly thinking to herself, Ranma added, “I should probably ask to unseal and teach the Senkens as well.”
“The Senkens?” Faith asked, now highly curious.
“Don’t worry about it yet. You’ll find out soon enough if I get permission, and it won’t matter if I don’t,” Ranma said with a shrug. “And we should talk more later today. We’re at our first class, and we probably shouldn’t mention any of this to them.”
“Damn it,” Faith muttered. “You’re right. Let’s get this over with.” With that said, both new students entered their classroom.