From A Different Viewpoint Chapter 33

All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications. Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Taeuchi.

                          A Different Viewpoint pt 33

    Ranma was woken the next morning by the sensation of getting thrown into the Koi pond by his father.

    "You're getting lax boy!"  Genma announced haughtily.  "Let me tell you... urk!"

    Ranma-chan turned her choke hold into an over the shoulder throw into the pond.  "What were you going to say, old man?"  Genma came out of the pond in a rush, having gained a couple hundred pounds of mass and black and white fur.  Ranma kicked her father back into the pond unceremoniously.  "Were you saying something about being fat?  Or maybe you wanted to teach me how to play with a tire?"  Ranma kicked her father's favorite panda toy into him as he was climbing out of the pond again, sending him back into the water.

    Nodoka looked on proudly as the girl that was her son walked away from the panda that was her husband.  < Ranma is a true man among men, even when he is a girl...>  She frowned a bit when she noticed her husband playing with the spare tire Ranma had kicked into him.  < No thanks to that idiot panda of mine.>  Nodoka shook her head in dismay.  < Just thinking about it makes my head hurt.>  Pictures of her husband and son transforming ran over and over through her head until she made herself think of something else.

    "Breakfast is ready!"  Nodoka announced, immediately getting her family's attention.

    Ranma and Genma were first to the table, followed by the Tendos. Nabiki came in first, already prepared for school.  Soun came in leisurely, nodding pleasantly to Nodoka.  Akane came in hurriedly, still in her Gi, obviously just having been practicing in the Dojo.  Johnathon Dwire came in last, followed closely by a pair of black cats; Kasumi and the kitten.

    Nabiki looked over at her elder sister with mixed dismay and concern.  "Hey, Kasumi... I heard about what happened..."  She paused uncomfortably, not knowing what to say.  Kasumi seemed to understand her difficulty and meowed at her pleasantly.  < What is she trying to say?>  Nabiki wondered.  < Johnathon seems to understand her, but I don't speak cat!  Oh well, since it's Kasumi, she's probably just saying something nice.>  Nabiki sighed and looked at Kasumi, who was sitting on her husband's lap.  She seemed happy enough, as did Johnathon.  However, there was a faint undercurrent of sadness there, just enough to notice.

    Everyone seemed to sense the somber mood and breakfast was a quiet affair.  The newness of Johnathon's presence at the breakfast table was overshadowed by the tragedy of Kasumi's current
situation.  No one wanted to make the situation any worse, so conversation was stilted.  The silence was broken by a crash from upstairs and an anguished voice.

    "Where on earth am I now?!"  Ryoga's voice came down from the guest bedroom, it was muffled, as if he was in the closet.

    Nabiki sighed.  "Akane, it's your turn to take the lost boy to school, OK?  I've got things I've got to do."

    Akane looked up from her food and nodded.  "Sure sis.  No problem."

    Ranma looked over at Akane.  "I'll help ya with him Akane.  Ryoga is bound to get lost if we don't keep an eye on him all the time."  < This gives us the chance to talk to him about going to Juuban with us.  Maybe we can convince Akane to stay behind if both me and Ryoga ask her.>  He shook his head.  < Nah, Akane would never back down, at least with Ryoga around Akane'll be a little safer.>

    Nodoka broke the silence with an innocuous question.  "So, Johnathon-san.  How are Ranma and Akane doing in your class?"

    Genma panicked, knowing Ranma's general habits in school.  He brought out a sign behind Nodoka's head where Ranma could see it.  *Quick boy, run!*

    Ranma snorted at his old man's cowardliness.  < Idiot, didn't he know what we we doing all the way back from China?>

    Johnathon smiled at the Saotome matron.  "Ranma and Akane are ahead of the rest of their class, Ms. Saotome.  They are quite likely to get high marks, as long as they do well on the final."  Genma looked shocked, especially when Nodoka borrowed the sign he had been holding and crossed out *boy* to replace it with *panda*.  He took the advice belatedly, seeing the glow in his wife's eyes.

    Nodoka sat down after Genma was out of sight and smiled, her anger gone in an instant.  "I hope breakfast is too your liking, Johnathon-san.  I'm unused to cooking for so many."

    Johnathon's smile never faded.  "Breakfast was delicious, thank you.  I..."  He broke off, glancing at Kasumi.  When he looked up his smile was a bit sad.  "I..."  < I've been cooking breakfast for the last couple days...>  He forced himself not to think about why and nodded to Nodoka.  "I wish I could eat like this every day."  He coughed, embarrassed, and looked down at Kasumi.  "I mean, if Kasumi... when Kasumi... gets cured..."  He stopped, the words getting caught in his throat.  Kasumi looked up at him sadly and shook her head.

    Akane sighed.  < Johnathon you idiot.>  "We've got to get going to school, lots to do today."  Akane said quickly, trying to cover Johnathon's embarrassment.

    Ranma stood up.  "I've gotta change first."

    Akane stood as well.  "I'll collect Ryoga."

    Johnathon nodded to himself and stood as well, holding Kasumi in his arms.  "I need to prepare as well.  Thank you for breakfast, Nodoka-san."

    Ranma proceeded upstairs, followed by Akane and Johnathon.  When they were out of earshot of the living room Akane nodded at her room and they all slipped inside.

    Johnathon sighed and spoke.  "OK, we have a lot to get accomplished today.  Why don't we split up on the way to school and tell everyone."

    Akane nodded.  "Sounds like a plan."

    Johnathon mused.  "I gave this some thought last night.  Ranma, you tell Ryoga on the way to school.  The two of you can go to the Cat-cafe and tell everyone there.  Akane, you should tell Kuno, he's sure to listen to you.  I'll talk to Ukyo myself."  He paused.  "Keep this close to your chest.  Not many would believe us anyway, but..."  Ranma and Akane nodded.  Johnathon put Kasumi down.  "You're sitting this one out, Kasumi-chan."  Kasumi nodded understandingly.

    They split up to get ready for school.  Minutes later, Johnathon, Ryoga, Ranma, and Akane walked out of the Tendo gates together.  They separated after a short way, each going a different direction.

    Ranma dragged Ryoga behind him.  "We've got to talk, Ryoga."

    The lost boy was looking around confusedly.  "Why did Akane and Johnathon run off?"  Ryoga started to get annoyed.  "Where are you taking me Ranma?"

    Ranma tried to figure out what to tell Ryoga, and how.  < Oh well, Ryoga's not strong on subtly anyway.>  "Ryoga, there's a bunch of Demons that are going to invade the Earth tonight.  Want to help me beat them up?"

    Ryoga pulled Ranma to a halt.  "Demons?"

    Ranma nodded.  "Yup, so are ya in?"

    Ryoga looked dubious.  "Demons?"

    Ranma sighed.  "Ryoga, I'm serious.  Akane, Johnathon and I..."

    Ryoga interrupted.  "Akane's going to fight Demons?"

    Ranma shrugged.  "Hey, she does what she wants, remember Ryogensawa?"

    Ryoga growled at the pig tailed boy.  "Akane's going to fight Demons and you're not going to stop her?  Ranma!  How can you call yourself Akane's fiancee!"

    Ranma frowned at the lost boy.  "If you're so worried then you should come along."

    Ryoga snorted.  "Of course I'm coming along!  I can't believe you'd let Akane fight demons!"

    Ranma sighed again.  "Give it a rest, Ryoga.  Come on, we're going to the Cat Cafe now."  He started off, letting Ryoga chase after him.

    Ryoga caught up in a couple seconds.  "Why in the world are we going there?"

    Ranma shrugged.  "We might need the help.  Mousse and Shampoo will pitch in for sure.  As for the old ghoul... What better to fight a monster than another monster?"

            ***************************************************

    Johnathon was nearing the Ucchan when he saw Ukyo coming out the front door and closing it behind her.  "Ukyo!  Wait up!"

    Ukyo looked back at him and started in his direction.  "Johnathon-san, heading to school?"

    The tall English instructor nodded.  "Yes, I also wished to talk to you."

    Ukyo nodded.  "I figured.  This isn't on the route from the Tendo's.  How is Kasumi, anyway?"

    Johnathon sighed.  "You heard, huh."

    Ukyo nodded again, looking sympathetic.  "Ryoga told me.  Is she...?"

    Johnathon sighed again.  "Kasumi has been trapped in her cat form for several days now."

    Ukyo looked horrified.  "I'm... I'm so sorry, Johnathon.  If there is anything I can do to help..."

    Johnathon slowly shook his head.  "I don't think there is anything we can do unless Cologne gives us the Phoenix pill.  Cologne won't do that until Ranma marries Shampoo."

    Ukyo frowned.  "That's ridiculous.  That old ghoul has gone way too far this time."  Johnathon just sighed again.  Ukyo blinked.  "But if you didn't come for help, why did you come to me?"

    Johnathon looked over at Ukyo as they continued to walk.  "I did come to you for help, on a different matter."

    Ukyo looked interested.  "Oh?  What's the problem?"

    Johnathon cleared his throat.  "Have you caught the recent news?"

    Ukyo shrugged.  "Well, I do try to keep abreast of things, why?"

    Johnathon nodded.  "Have you heard about the recent series of monster attacks in Juuban?"

    Ukyo blinked.  "I saw something about that on the news last night..."  She paused.  "Hey... that cat monster...  It was you, wasn't it!  Last week there was this strange story about a cat monster working with the Sailor Senshi, scaring people... It was pretty controversial, but I figured since it was way over in Juuban it was just a coincidence."

    Johnathon shrugged.  "Don't believe everything you see on TV."

    Ukyo looked at him sideways.  "Don't tell me, you're really Tuxedo Kamen aren't you!"

    Johnathon groaned.  "No!  Why do people always say that?  Just because we're both tall, thin and like black..."

    Ukyo shrugged.  "There you go.  So you were in Juuban?  What happened?"

    Johnathon shrugged.  "Yeah, well. the psychologist that's been helping us with Ranma's cat-phobia lives over in Juuban, and..."

    Ukyo stopped him.  "The Cat-Fist?  You've been trying to cure Ranma of it?"

    Johnathon nodded.  "Yeah.  Since Kasumi becomes a cat now, I figured it was a good idea.  Anyway, when I was out there I got splashed with cold water.  While I was running for some hot water the Senshi showed up and nearly blew me away.  They thought I was a demon.  Anyway, I convinced them I wasn't and ended up helping them fight a real Youma."

    Ukyo's eyes went wide.  "You fought a Demon with the Senshi?  Whoa, that's incredible.  What are they like?"

    Johnathon shrugged.  "Actually, I was going to ask you to come to Juuban with me tonight.  That way you can decide what they're like for yourself."

    Ukyo stopped dead in her tracks.  "You're kidding."

    Johnathon stopped a couple of feet farther along and looked back.  "No, I'm serious.  I've been back to Juuban several times in the last week.  There are more demons coming into our world every night.  The Senshi needed help and Ranma, Akane and I have decided to give them a hand."

    Ukyo blinked.  "Ranma?"  She looked thoughtful.  "Was he in Juuban last night?"

    Johnathon nodded.  "Yes, we all were.  The Senshi have discovered a way to stop the Youma, but they need some help to do it."

    Ukyo nodded, then started chuckling.  "I thought that red head looked familiar."  She laughed harder.  "Sailor Earth... Oh brother, I can't believe he wore a fuku to fight monsters."  Ukyo's eyes were tearing up as she continued laughing hysterically.  "How... did you get him... into that outfit?"   Ukyo managed to say as she fought to stop laughing.  It took awhile for Johnathon to understand that Ukyo had seen a red headed Sailor Senshi with a pig tail on the news last night.

    Johnathon started laughing as well.  "And they called her Sailor Earth?"  They both stood there, shaking with laughter, as other pedestrians passed by looking puzzled.  Johnathon finally calmed down.  "Oh my, I'm sorry I missed that."

    Ukyo chuckled a bit longer and they started walking to the school again.  "So you say that the Sailor Senshi need help to stop these Youma?"  Johnathon nodded.  Ukyo smiled widely.  "I'm in.  I'd come just so I can see Ranma in a Sailor fuku."  She chuckled again.  "When do we leave?"

    Johnathon blinked.  "Well, we need to be in Juuban before ten PM tonight.  Ranma and Akane are getting some of the others to help.  Why don't we see what happens and we'll discuss it right after school, OK?"

    Ukyo nodded.  "Sounds good, Dwire-san.  So, who's coming?"

    Johnathon coughed.  "We'll see.  We'd better get to school, eh?"

            ************************************************

    Akane arrived at the Kuno mansion early, hoping to catch Tatiwati Kuno before he left for school.  Sasuke greeted her and took her to Kuno, who was preparing to leave for school.

    Akane glanced around nervously.  "Um, Kuno, is Kodachi around?"

    Kuno looked surprised.  "Akane Tendo!  Is it some miracle of fate that brings you to me?  You need not fear my twisted sister.  She has left, of her own free will no less, to seek extensive psychiatric care.  I wish her well."

    Akane nodded diplomatically.  "I hope she feels better soon, upperclassman.  I am here to ask for your help."

    Kuno blinked.  "Oh?  But of course my dear!  You wish to be free of your accursed engagement to Saotome!  Never fear, I shall free you from..."

    Akane shut him up with a fist thrust threateningly into his face.  "That's not it, Kuno."

    Kuno raised an eyebrow.  < Ah, still entranced by Saotome.  I must avail myself of this opportunity to find out more about how to free Akane.>  "Then tell me, my most beauteous Akane, what assistance you require?"

    Akane sighed.  "Have you heard about the recent monster attacks in Juuban recently?"

    Kuno nodded.  "I have followed these stories with some interest.  The most recent addition to the ranks of the mysterious Senshi has caught my attention.  Fierce and brave, a maiden truly worthy of the title of Sailor Earth!"  He paused dramatically and Akane fought to keep from laughing out loud.  "Ah, I see this distresses you, fear not, for my love for you is not diminished one iota.  I, Tatiwati Kuno, the blue thunder of Furinkan High school, so declare!"

    Akane blinked.  < He's getting his speeches shorter at least.>  "Well Kuno, we were going to fight the Demons appearing in Juuban tonight.  I wanted to know if you could help?"

    Kuno stood tall, raising his ever present bokken to the sky.  "Of course!  The destruction of these foul beasts is my utmost priority!  I will gladly rid our city of these monsters, Akane Tendo!"

    Akane sighed.  "That's great, Kuno.  We're going to go to Juuban tonight, so after school..."

    Kuno nodded.  "Allow me to provide transportation for our journey.  We will set out to defeat these monsters and..."

    Akane interrupted.  "That's great Kuno.  There will be as many as eight of us, OK?"  As Kuno absorbed this information, Akane bowed to him.  "We'll come here after school Kuno, so please have that transportation ready."  She bowed again and hurriedly left.

    Kuno called after her.  "Do not worry, Akane Tendo!  Everything shall be arranged!"

            *************************************

    Ranma and Ryoga entered the Cat Cafe after knocking.  The sign outside had read closed, but the door had been open.

    Ranma called out into the darkened restaurant.  "Shampoo?  Mousse?  Anyone?"

    "They are not here, Son-in-law."  Cologne appeared behind the kitchen counter.  "Why are you?"  Ranma and Ryoga glared at the old woman.  Cologne looked impassively back.

    Ranma didn't soften his glare, but spoke civilly.  "There are demons, old ghoul, demons coming into this world in increasing numbers.  Johnathon asked me to tell you."

    The Amazon elder looked intensely at Ranma.  "You came to me?  These demons are such a threat?"

    Ranma shrugged.  "Right now they're worse than you, Cologne.  In less than a week, there will be too many to stop.  That's why we're stopping them tonight."

    Cologne nodded.  "Very well, I'll come.  If it's as you say, I should be there."  She shook her head.  "Demons.  It's been a long time."  Cologne looked up at Ranma.  "Where, and when?"

    Ranma looked back questioningly.  "Juuban, the mall in the center of town.  Ten PM.  Why do you..."

    Cologne cackled.  "Why do I believe you?  Ha, I haven't been around for hundreds of years for nothing.  I'll be there, when I'm needed."

    Ranma nodded.  "Fine.  Where are Shampoo and Mousse?"

    Cologne shrugged.  "They should be back sometime today.  I will inform them."

    Ranma nodded again, and turned to go.  "Old ghoul."  He spoke quietly, his back to her.  "We're on the same side tonight, but that's it.  Until Kasumi gets cured, we're enemies."

    Cologne's expression didn't change, although Ranma didn't turn to see.  "I know, so must it be."

    Ranma stepped quickly through the door, followed be Ryoga.  They immediately headed for Furinkan high school.

    Cologne sat in the darkness of her shop.  < Demons.  It has been a long, long time.>

            *****************************************

    The school day went relatively uneventfully.

    Gosunkugi shadowed Nabiki for the whole day, making sure she didn't start stripping in public.     < That hypnosis incense is mine.  I can't let anyone else find out about it.>

    Nabiki was getting concerned.  < Where is that pervert Happosai?  He hasn't hit the girls locker room in days.  No one has seem him since the day Kasumi got splashed by him for the last time.  If he never shows, how the heck can I deal with Gosunkugi?>  Nabiki nervously checked her clothing for the hundredth time that day.  < I'm still dressed.  If Happosai does show up he's bound to use his hypnosis trick to get my underware.>  Nabiki smirked slightly at that.  < And then I've got him.>

    As school was letting out Gosunkugi came up to Nabiki.  "You forgot your shoes Nabiki-san."

    Nabiki couldn't focus on his hands to see what he was carrying.  "What?"

    Hikaru blinked.  "Oh yeah.  Are you feeling alright?"

    Nabiki took back her shoes blankly and put them on.  "What?  Gosunkugi, what just..."  She looked down at her feet then back at him.  "Damn."

    Gosunkugi shrugged.  "I've started a minor rumor about you having some sort of problem with your feet.  Everyone has accepted it so far."

    Nabiki frowned.  "And you're my shoe caddy?"

    Gosunkugi shrugged again.  "They figure you've got something over me so I have to be your servant for a month or something."

    Nabiki looked quizzically at the pale boy.  "Why are you doing this, anyway?  Why protect me?"

    Gosunkugi shook his head.  "I'm just keeping the secret of the hypnosis incense to myself.  What's the use if everyone knows?"

    Nabiki nodded.  "That's a sensible stragedy, Hikaru.  You may be a sneaky, perverted, scumbag, but you're a smart, sneaky, perverted, scumbag."

    Hikaru snorted softly, and handed Nabiki a small paper bag.  "Batteries.  Put a new one in the transmitter every forty eight hours."

    Nabiki nodded again.  "I was wondering about that.  Do you have a second transmitter?"

    Gosunkugi blinked.  "I can get one, why?"

    Nabiki smirked.  "Can't figure it out yourself?"

    Gosunkugi looked thoughtful.  "Ah, I believe I understand.  I'll bring it in the morning."

    Nabiki walked away, stopping a moment for a parting glance at her new nemesis.  < I wish I had paid more attention to Hikaru Gosunkugi earlier.  He keeps on surprising me, and that's not easy to do.>

            ********************************************

    As the school day ended, Ranma, Akane, Ryoga and Ukyo waited for Johnathon to get out of his classroom.  He came out after talking to a few lingering students, and the five martial artists headed outside.  Everyone reported their news.

    Johnathon mused to himself.  "OK, Cologne says she'll meet us there, Kuno is providing transportation... but there been no sign of Shampoo or Mousse?"  Johnathon shrugged.  "Alright, we'll head by the Cat Cafe to check, then stop by the Dojo in case they went there.  If they aren't either place we'll go to Kuno's and head to Juuban from there."  The others nodded and they all started walking.  The Cat Cafe was closed and locked when they arrived, so they continued on to the Dojo.  Shampoo was waiting outside.

    She smiled and held up a cask.  "Shampoo bring water of life!  Johnathon use on Kasumi, yes?"

    Johnathon smiled back.  "Thank you Shampoo.  Why don't you come inside and tell us about your trip."

    A note on the front door explained that Genma, Soun and Nodoka were all out for some reason, so Johnathon led everyone to the living room.  Kasumi greeted them, kitten in tow.  Ranma picked up the kitten, Johnathon picked up his wife, and Shampoo started to tell her story as everyone got comfortable.

    "Trip easy at first."  Shampoo began in her singsong Japanese.  "No problems until enter forest.  Ryogensawa very dark, filled with mist.  First day there, it rain, very hard, then stop.  Shampoo help Mousse set up little stove for water when rats come.  Many rats.  Very large rats."  Shampoo brought out a four inch long piece of ivory.  "Here is rat's tooth, yes?"  Everyone imagined rats with four inch long teeth and shuddered.  Shampoo shivered in remembrance.  "Mousse fly away easy, but rats come for Shampoo, hunt Shampoo for long time.  Mousse try help but is not strong as duck."

    Shampoo remembered vividly Mousse's valiant attempt to fight off the giant rats.  His knives had done little damage and he had been crushed to the ground by a paw the size of his body.  If the rats hadn't been more interested in chasing her, he would probably have been killed.  For some reason, they had chased Shampoo to the exclusion of all else, and had ignored Mousse once he had fallen.

    Shampoo shook her head.  "Shampoo lead rats away from stupid Mousse, run long time, get lost in mist and trees.  Finally lose rats, but very tired.  Shampoo see light, head for light and find Cabin in woods.  Shampoo go to window, look for hot water."

    As Shampoo explained what had happened next, Ranma, Ryoga and Akane all remembered their own encounter with Shinosike and his grandfather, and pictured the scene Shampoo was describing in their heads.

        ***********************************************

    Shinosike stood in the cabin's small kitchen, heating a cup of very special tea.  His grandfather lay in bed, coughing and sneezing from a cold.  The water for the tea boiled over and Shinosike shut off the stove.  He went to go check on his grandfather while he was waiting for the tea to get cool enough to drink.

    A small white and pink cat sneaks in, knocking the glass of water over onto itself before Shinosike can come back in to get it.

    Shinosike rushed back in at the sound.  "Hey!  How did you get in here?  Why did you waste the water of life?"  He turned away then, blushing in sudden realization.  "Um, and why aren't you wearing any clothes?"

    Shampoo didn't answer right away, she was a bit puzzled as to why the near boiling water hadn't scalded her.  "Shampoo need water."  She finally explained.  "No could explain why with no voice."

    The old man from the bed had come in at this point, and handed her a blanket.  "Well, why don't you explain now."  His voice was kindly enough, but firm.

    Shampoo nodded and began explaining about her curse.  The two men had accepted her story easily enough, in fact, the only problem the old man had was with Shinosike.

    He berated his grandson.  "Shin-boy!  Why were you using the water of life to make tea?  You know it must be conserved!"

    Shinosike looked apologetic.  "You were sick.  I wanted to make sure your cold didn't become pneumonia.   Um, whoever you are..."

    The old man glared at the youth.  "I've survived colds before, boy... and I'm your Grandpa you idiot!"  The old man proceed to prove his good health by punching Shinosike across the room.  He had then immediately started coughing and Shampoo had to help him to his bed.  When he had finished coughing he spoke again.  "So young lady, why do you come to Ryogensawa?"

    Shampoo answered hopefully.  "Shampoo come for water of life.  Is much needed."

    The old man coughed again, then shook his head.  "The water of life is precious, and the supply finite.  If it is over used the spring will dry up for good."  He sneezed loudly.  "I'm afraid we can't just give it away to anyone who comes asking for it."

    Shampoo looked determined.  "Shampoo challenge boy for water.  Honorable combat.  If boy win Shampoo will..."

    The old man interrupted.  "You said you had a Jusenkyo curse, right?"  Shampoo looked puzzled but nodded.  "You wouldn't happen to be from the Amazon village near there, would you?"  Shampoo blinked and nodded again.  He smiled wryly and wagged his finger at her.  "I'm afraid not.  Shin-boy can't go and marry an Amazon.  He's needed here, to protect the water.  It's a sacred trust."

    Shampoo looked disappointed.  < I thought I could kill two birds with one stone.  I could get the water for Kasumi, and even find a replacement husband.  Shinosike is a nice boy, and a good fighter, according to what Ranma, Ryoga and Akane have said.>

    The old man nodded knowingly to himself.  "Still, you being an Amazon and all, I bet you're a good fighter.  Perhaps there is something you could do to earn the water."

    Shampoo nodded proudly.  "Shampoo best in village, save elders.  What want Shampoo do?"

    The old man nodded again.  "Good, good... Well, you see, recently we've been having a bit of a rodent problem...."

    Shampoo nodded emphatically.  "Yes!  Is bad rats chase Shampoo!  Many rats, very dangerous!"

    The old man coughed, and waved her closer.  "The water of life causes any animal, not native to Japan, to grow when they drink the water.  Some rats from a ship recently arrived and started breeding.  With the water of life they've become a real problem."  He looked at Shampoo speculatively.  "A white cat with pink socks, huh?  Must have been native to China.  There aren't any like that in Japan..."  He nodded to himself once more.  "Yes, I do believe you may be able to help us."

            ******************************************

    Shampoo cut off her narration suddenly.  "So Shampoo help get rid of rats, and bring back water of life.  Find stupid Mousse on way home."

    Akane looked interested.  "So, how did you get rid of the rats?"

    Shampoo looked pained.  "No is important."

    Akane was about to press her for details when Johnathon shot her a glance and subtly shook his head.

    Johnathon turned to Shampoo.  "Thank you Shampoo.  I really can't repay you for this.  You are a true friend."

    Shampoo shrugged.  "Shampoo help Johnathon, help Kasumi, when ever asked.  Shampoo owe..."

    Johnathon nodded.  "A debt of honor.  I know, Shampoo.  You've repaid that debt, and much more.  If you ever need my help, just ask... I'll be there."

    Shampoo smiled sadly at the tall lanky westerner.  < Would you do so, if you knew the truth?  Johnathon's whole life changed for the worse because of me.>  She shook her head.  < When did other people become so important to me?  I've changed, for the better, I hope, although Great-grandmother might not agree.>  She cleared her throat and spoke up.  When Shampoo and Mousse return to Nerima, get message saying to meet great-grandmother to meet in Juuban.  Mousse go, but Shampoo bring water first."

    Johnathon smiled at her.  "Thanks again, Shampoo.  We're all going to Juuban ourselves, so you can travel with us if you like."

    Shampoo nodded.  "Shampoo like.  Now is going to use water on Kasumi-cat?"

    Johnathon nodded back.  "I was hoping to get a clue to how to use it from your story.  I think I have."

    Shampoo smiled knowingly.  "Shampoo think she know what Johnathon do."

    Johnathon grinned.  "Come on, you can help me.  Everyone, why don't you wait here in the living room.  Akane, could you get Kasumi some clothing?"  He carried Kasumi into the kitchen.  Shampoo followed him with the cask and opened it.  Johnathon filled a tea kettle with some of the water and set it on the stove to heat.

    Akane came in with a bundle of clothing and set it down on the counter top.  "What are you going to try?"

    Johnathon filled a small bowl with the water of life and set it down in front of Kasumi.  "Two different things."  He turned on the hot water tap and filled a larger bowl with hot water.  "Kasumi, take a good drink, OK?"  Shampoo took a quiet step back as did Johnathon.  Kasumi started to drink while Johnathon explained.  "First we'll see if the water of life can cure the Cat's Tongue outright.  I'm afraid that's not very likely to work.  I would think Cologne would know about the existence of the spring.  If it was an outright cure she would probably have stopped Shampoo.  Still, there's a chance."

    Shampoo eyed Kasumi for any sign of change.  Nothing happened and she scratched her head.    < Well, Kasumi is Japanese...>

    Kasumi finished drinking from the small bowl and looked up curiously.

    Johnathon set down the larger bowl, which was just hot enough to activate the change.  "See if it's tolerable."

    Kasumi nodded and walked over to the bowl.  Gingerly she put a paw out over the water and lowered her paw in.  With a yowl of pain Kasumi jumped back.  Johnathon quickly splashed her paw with the remaining drops of the water of life in the small bowl.  Kasumi stopped dead and blinked.

    Johnathon nodded.  "As I thought.  The water of life stops pain as well as healing injury.  So, while it might not cure a shiatsu point..."  He checked the kettle.  "That's hot enough."  Johnathon picked up the kettle and brought it over Kasumi.  As a precaution he filled the small bowl up from the cask again.  "Alright, Kasumi.  If this hurts, put your paw into the water, OK?"  Kasumi nodded her understanding.  Johnathon put the bowl down next to her then brought over the kettle.

    Akane protested.  "But the water of life didn't work!  Kasumi still can't handle heat.  What are you doing?"

    Johnathon pointed at the kettle with his free hand.  "This is indeed hot water.  Hot water of life.  The water of life heals injury, and it prevents pain, right?"

    Akane blinked.  "Do you mean...?"

    Johnathon nodded.  "Cross your fingers.  Kasumi, hold out your paw, OK?"  Kasumi did so, looking up at her husband with trust.  Johnathon carefully poured several drops on her paw.  Kasumi looked at her paw, then turned it over and back.  She meowed excitedly.  "No pain?"  She shook her head.  "OK then, hold still!"  Johnathon poured hot water of life all over her.  Kasumi shuddered for an instant, then changed.  Johnathon gazed down at his wife, who was staring in awe at her human hands.

    Kasumi looked up in joy and stood.  "Johnathon!  It worked!  Oh Johnathon!"  She grabbed on to him in a spontaneous hug, not caring at the moment that she wasn't wearing a stitch of clothing.

    Johnathon returned the hug joyfully.  "Kasumi, oh Kasumi.  It's so wonderful to have you back to your old self."

    Akane's eyes were brimming with tears.  She grabbed her sister from behind, joining them in a three way hug.  "Oh big sister Kasumi.  Thank god, I'm so happy!"

    There was a commotion at the doorway as Ranma, Ryoga and Ukyo rushed in to see what had happened.  Ranma and Ryoga immediately blushed and Ukyo grinned widely before crashing her giant spatula into their faces.

    "Don't look, idiots."  Ukyo said without rancor.

    Shampoo clapped her hands excitedly.  "It work!  Water of life prevent pain from heat!  Johnathon very smart!"

    Johnathon shrugged, still holding on tightly to Kasumi.  "You thought of it too, Shampoo."

    Ukyo herded Ranma and Ryoga back into the living room.  "Congratulations, Johnathon-san.  I'm very happy for you and Kasumi."

    Akane reluctantly broke away, suddenly very self conscious about hugging her naked sister.

    She got Kasumi's clothing and held it out to her.  "Here Kasumi."  Kasumi brought her head away from Johnathon's shoulder and glanced at her younger sister.

    The eldest daughter of Soun Tendo abruptly turned a bright shade of pink.  "Oh my."  She reached out and took her dress with one hand.  "Thank you Akane-chan.  Could you and Shampoo leave us alone for a bit?"

    Akane nodded with a smile and laid the rest of Kasumi's clothing on the counter.  She and Shampoo quietly headed out to the living room.

    Kasumi kissed Johnathon passionately on the lips as soon as they were gone.  She fumbled with the dress as she did so.   Johnathon returned the kiss with intensity, concentrating every bit of thought into that one kiss.  They broke as Kasumi began sliding on the dress.

    Johnathon blinked and glanced over at the rest of the clothing Akane had brought.  "Um, aren't you going to put the rest of your clothes on?"

    Kasumi shyly shook her head.  "I will later.  Right now we're only going as far as our room, and then I won't want to be wearing anything."

    Johnathon grinned hugely and his eyes sparkled.  "I love the way you think!"  They hurried towards the stairs.  He called out into the living room.  "Go get Kuno... we're going to be busy."

    Ukyo shot him a thumbs up.  "Take your time!  We'll be back in an hour!"

    Kasumi and Johnathon rushed up stairs hand in hand.

    Ukyo grinned around at Ranma, Akane and Ryoga's blushing faces.  "Come on, lets leave the two love birds alone."

    Shampoo grinned back.  "They very much in love.  Is very good."  < And a healthy amount of lust doesn't hurt either.>  She turned to follow the others, who were headed for the door.  "Why we going to Juuban?"

    As they exited the Tendo yard Ranma answered her question.  "We're going to fight off a bunch of demons that are going to invade tonight."

    Shampoo blinked.  "Is serious?"  Akane nodded in confirmation.  "Then Shampoo get sword from Cat Cafe.  Better for demon."

    Akane blinked in surprise.  Ukyo looked thoughtful.  Ranma and Ryoga just shrugged.  They stopped by the Cat Cafe for Shampoo's sword, then went to the Ucchan so Ukyo could pick up some extra mini spatulas, as well as a few 'other' items.  They ate a quick meal at the Ucchan, Ukyo preparing Okonomiyaki with her usual flair.  Ukyo told Konatsu to mind the store, and they headed for the Kuno Mansion.

    A large black stretch limo waited outside the front gate.  Next to it, Kuno stood, dressed up as a traditional Samurai from hundreds of years ago.  He wore an antique Kantana on his side.  His man servant, Sasuke waited patiently by the limo.

    Kuno began with his usual speech.  "Greetings.  I, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High, Tatiwati Kuno, will defeat the fiends that dare invade our precious Japan."

    Everyone blinked at the brevity of his speech, but no one was complaining.  Sasuke escorted them to the limo and held the door until everyone was inside, then got in the drivers seat himself.

    "Where to?"  Sasuke asked through the intercom.

    Akane found the correct button to talk back after several tries.  "The Tendo Dojo.  We need to pick up Johnathon-san."  Sasuke nodded and started to drive.

    Kuno was remarkably quiet.  He appeared to be meditating.  Everyone welcomed the change gladly and did nothing to encourage him to talk.

            **************************************

    In Kasumi and Johnathon's room, Johnathon glanced over at the clock.  He sighed and looked at Kasumi sadly.

    She smiled gently.  "You must go.  I wish you could stay by my side, but I know you, Johnathon, my love.  You must go."

    He nodded, swiftly changing his expression to a smile.  "I will be back for you."

    Kasumi nodded back.  "Yes, I believe that you will.  Johnathon, my beloved husband, somehow I believe that this day, there is nothing you cannot accomplish."

    Slowly, reluctantly, Johnathon rose and began dressing.  Kasumi also rose, stretching out the kinks.  She began to dress as well.  "Be sure to call me after you win, Johnathon.  I will have a victory feast ready for your return."

    Johnathon grinned.  "I'm looking forward to it already."  He finished getting dressed, then frowned and turned to Kasumi again.  "Kasumi, be very careful around cold water, and hot.  You're not cured of the Cat's Tongue yet."

    Kasumi nodded.  "I will be careful.  Johnathon, please don't fight any Youma all by yourself."

    He nodded, smiling reassuringly.  "There's going to be a lot of us tonight, so don't worry."

    Kasumi sighed and nodded.  "I'll try."

    Johnathon stepped up to her and gave Kasumi a good-bye kiss.  It quickly became quite a bit more passionate as both of them tried to express their true feelings.  The kiss was finally interrupted by a quiet knocking at the door.

    "Johnathon?  Kasumi?"  Akane's voice came through softly.

    Johnathon broke away reluctantly.  "Coming!"  He glanced back at his wife.  "I love you, Kasumi."  He shouldered his pack and opened the door, nodding to Akane who was just outside.  "Lets go."

    Johnathon stopped in the kitchen to fill up two thermoses, one with hot water and one with cold.  Then he followed Akane out to Kuno's limo.

    As he entered he looked at the gathered martial artists and wondered.  < Is this going to be enough?  Are we going to be enough?>  He closed the door behind him and Sasuke started the engine.  They were on their way to the fight of their lives.

                            End pt 33.

 

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