What's the matter, Ranma?
You're walking down here with me. I've never seen you do that before. Every time we've gone to school, you've gone along the top of the fence.
So why the change?
It's nothin'. It's just that... it's nothin'. [pause] Look, you know all the stuff we've had to put up with lately. Saffron. Kiima. Happosai. Spirits. Demons. You name it.
[somewhat teasingly] I thought you could handle all of that, mister hot shot martial artist.
Of course, I can, sure. But, um... look, I'm just kinda tired of it, all right?
Sure. Gome on, we're almost there.
Hey, Kuno, what's up?
Silence, Saotome! Prepare thyself to face the just wrath of Heaven! I shall smite thee for thy transgressions against all womenkind! HA!
What trickery is this?!
Lookin' for this?
Fiend! Return my bokken at once!
Forget your stick, Kuno. Try it my way. No weapons. Just fists against face.
[pause] You are indeed a true barbarian, Saotome. I shall face you again when the time is right.
Anytime, Kuno Just don't bring a katana like ya did to the wedding. Someone might get hurt. [Slight emphasis on the word 'someone'.]
Aaargh! I shall retrieve my bokken!
Excuse me, sonny.
And whom might you be, old man?
I'm the gardener around here, sonny. I don't care what you young folks do to each other, but leave the landscaping out of it. You think trees grow on trees or something? It takes years of work - MY work - and you kids just chop 'em down or shred them into excelsior or, or run bokkens through them....
Oh, hi, Ranma!
Hey, Yuka. You didn't see where Akane went, didja?
Is anything wrong?
Well, it's just that... I mean, what if someone attacked her there?
In the bathroom? Who'd do a thing like that?
Who knows? There's always some crazy or other around.
I'm sure there's nothing to worry about, Ranma. I've got to get to class. See you!
The girl's bathroom... okay, then.
RANMA?! What are you doing in here?
Ummm... I have to go?
This is the GIRLS' bathroom! I don't care if you look like one, you're NOT a girl, and you're not coming in here!
But, Akane, what if....
'What if' what?!
Excuse me, young lady.
I've never seen you here before. I don't believe you're supposed to be in this class.
Umm... I'm a substitute?
Yeah, that's it. One of your regular students couldn't make it, and...
Honestly, Ranma, what do you think you're doing? Quit following me around, or I'll....
Heh. Heh. See ya!
Oh, hello, Akane! I didn't even know you were home yet.
Hi, Kasumi. I'm going outside to look at the roof.
Yeah. I was just in my room and I heard some weird noise from the ceiling. Kasumi. Oh! That must have been Ranma.
I saw him sitting up there just a minute ago when I was sweeping the porch.
Ranma's sitting on the roof?! Why?
[pause] Good question. [pause] Actually, he looks quite nice up there. Like the town watchman, making sure that all is well.
That's why he's been following me around all day. It all makes sense now. He thinks he's *guarding* me!
Oh my, do you really think so? [pause] Well, that's a nice thing for him to do... isn't it?
Yes. No. I don't know. It's just that.... look, can we go somewhere and talk?
Of course! Come on.
Have a seat.
Now, what did you want to talk about? Ranma-kun?
I guess. I just wish I knew how to make him be nicer to me. I wish he'd take me places, like other guys take their, um, girlfriends.
Well, Akane, I'm not sure what I can tell you. After all, I'm not the one who had dozens of boys chasing after her. I don't go out on dates. I've never had a strong, handsome fiance. [Note: This last line is said in her normal tone, without any hard edge or bitterness.]
Oh, Kasumi.... 'Strong, handsome fiance?' You, you're not...?
[laughs slightly] Oh, my, no. He's not my type at all. [slightly wistfully] Sometimes I wonder what my type is.... [back to normal tone] But that doesn't mean I don't have eyes. I can see what Shampoo sees, and Ukyo, and Kodachi... and you.
I... um... er, that is....
Sister. [pause] If you really don't want him, I'll talk to Father about releasing you from the engagement.
So. You don't have to admit the truth to him just yet, but if you don't admit it to yourself, you can still keep yourself from happiness.
I can what?
If you don't know what you want, only luck will make you happy. If you know what you want, you can plan for it and work toward it. I won't give you advice. [slight tremble in voice, but still no hard edge] I'm not... I'm not Mother. But if you want someone to talk with about your problems, sister to sister, I'd be glad to. My goodness, I'll probably learn something from you!
[laughs] Sure, I'll tell you everything you need to know about punishing jerks, being kidnapped by monsters, and frustrating two generations of Kunos! [becomes serious] But Kasumi... what about your happiness? Until.... [gulp] Until just now I hadn't even thought that you might not be. I'm... I'm sorry.
Oh, but I am happy. I know my work is appreciated, especially since Ranma-kun and Uncle Saotome came. And their guests are so very entertaining. It's hard to remember how dull life was before, isn't it?
Only... [wistful] I miss Tofu-sensei since he left. It could have been a good match.
[mumbles to herself] Sure, if he'd prescribed himself some tranquilizers.
Er... I said, I wonder whether anyone has heard from him recently?
Not that I know of. Now, I must admit to being curious about something. You and Ranma-kun told us all what happened on your trip to China, but I couldn't help thinking there were some parts you skimmed over. Why don't you tell me about Jusendo?
[gulp] Er... okay....
Hey, we made it all the way to the library without being challenged, attacked, splashed, or glomped once. That's gotta be a record.
Look, I'm going to be an hour working on that report on livestock, so why don't you just go find something else to do?
Why shouldn't I go in there?
The last time you went into the library, you got bored in five minutes and started a book-war that took Nishimoto-sensei four days to clear up, and she still blames me for it. Now I'm going in there for an hour, and you're not. Deal with it.
[mumbles to herself] Darn Ranma, he gets me in so much trouble!
Just stop thinking about him for an hour... Let's see... livestock...
[in exasperation] ARGH!
Surely you're not abusing the shelving, are you, Tendo?
Er, no, ma'am. It's just that the kanji character on this book spine is the same as "ma" as in "Ranma," and... um, never mind.
[quietly, to herself] The Taming of the Horse: An Equestrian's Guide? That's not what I want at all. [pause] Or is it?
If you have a minute....
Well, there's something I'd like to chat with you about. [pauses, then lowers voice] Privately.
Um... Nabiki can't hear us, can she?
[sigh] Really, Akane, she knows better than that. If I caught her eavesdropping on me, I would be quite vexed.
She does it to me all the time, and I get a lot more than vexed, but it doesn't stop her.
Well, for you to be vexed is one thing.... So, what would you like to chat about?
Oh, right. I found this book in the school library, and it said some interesting things. Like this... and here....
An Equestrian's Guide? Are you thinking of taking up riding?
No! [embarrassed] Um... while I was reading, it suddenly occurred to me that some of the advice in the book fit... um... me-and-Ranma.
If you don't mind my asking, who is to be the rider and who the, ah, ridee?
[pause] I'm the, um, trainer. Ranma's the horse. It was his name that gave me the idea in the first place, sort of.
I see. [Sounds of pages being flipped] Oh, my. I do see.
Oh, my goodness. If I were you, I would make sure Ranma-kun doesn't find out about this. He might get the wrong idea.
I know. That's one reason I was worried about Nabiki. I don't need to hide the book -- I have to return it in two weeks anyway -- but I have to hide what I'm up to. Do you think it'll work?
Well.... Well, assuming you intend to take the book's methods metaphorically rather than literally....
[half-jokingly] I'm not going to put a bridle on him, if that's what you mean. [becomes serious] But I told you about Jusendo. I'm sure he loves me. He's not sure I love him. That's the only weapon I've got. If I just tell him right out, I'll scare him off. The wedding proved that.
Since you mention it, I was wondering about the wedding. To tell you the truth, I was a little surprised that you went along with it, after you put up such a fuss the first time.
That was before Jusendo. That was when I was afraid Ranma didn't love me. That was before.... [pause] I didn't tell Father everything about Jusendo because... well, you know how he is. But we came so close to dying there that it still scares me. I thought if we could just be married, then everything would be all right somehow. [snort] I should have known it would all fall apart.
It was quite a mess, wasn't it? I was expecting you to be furious, or hurt, but you didn't hit poor Ranma-kun even once....
I wasn't mad, I was... exasperated. I gave that idiot the perfect chance. I saw how he looked at me. Why couldn't he just SAY it?!
[pause] Well, since you're sure he loves you, you could just wait for him to tell you so, you know.
[a bit grim] I don't think we have time. Half a dozen times in the last year, it could have all gone wrong forever. Mount Horai, Ryugenzawa, even those silly mushrooms. No, I can't wait any more. I have to do something.
Akane... are you sure about this?
[sigh] Yes. Yes, I'm sure. He's rude, insensitive, and immature, but I don't care. I want him. I want him more than anything. If I can be in control the way the book says, I can... tame him. Just enough so he'll let himself be mine.
[gently] You'll have to be in control of yourself even more.
I know. The book says that too. I have to be 'patient, understanding, and firm.' It's harder to get mad at Ranma now that I know how he really feels about me, though. I think I can manage.
What about the other girls?
I don't know. Sometimes I feel so, so inadequate compared to them. But Ranma hasn't gone off with one of them, so I must have a chance.
Oh, I think you do. I think you have the best chance.
Do you suppose you could help, Kasumi? Ranma respects you. He's as polite to you as he is to anyone. Maybe you could....
If Ranma respects me, it's probably because I'm just about the only person he knows who's not trying to get him to do something. If I try to get him to do something, even for you, I'll probably lose that without doing any good.
Well, we'll see. I've been warning him when I saw he was about to do something foolish, and that doesn't seem to have done any harm. Or any good either. Oh well.
Everyone else has been meddling, and they've made a real botch of it. It'd just be nice to have someone on my side for a change.
Well, what are you planning to do, then?
[slowly] It's not exactly a plan. Ranma's not really a horse, after all. I can punish him when he does something wrong [Kasumi laughs very slightly, like a "heh" through the nose] but I haven't figured out how to reward him when he does something right. The book says carrots, but he doesn't like my cooking for [Kasumi lets out a single strangled giggle at this point] some silly-- Kasumi?!
Honestly. My own sister laughing at me. Anyway, I can't, um, train him that way. I can't change anything about me too much, because I don't know why he loves me, and I'm afraid I'll change something he likes. So I'm just going to try to keep from getting mad at him, and hope he'll be nice to me, and wait for the right moment to... well, I haven't figured that out yet.
My, Akane, what a cunning plan! [This should be right up to the edge of sarcasm, but not over it.]
[pause] I hope so. Well, that's it, I guess. Wish me luck....
I saw this at a junk shop, and thought you might be able to use it.
[dubiously] A present? Thanks, Nabiki... I guess. [sounds of unwrapping] It's a....
A riding crop! Somehow I got the idea it might come in handy for you.
Jeez. At least she's not after me this time...