Chapter Four: Rub-a-Dub, Dub, Three Boys in the Tub.
Ranma-chan was walking towards the dojo with
P-chan in tow. She saw Akane standing at the gate, waiting for her,
while cooing to something that she held in her arms. At the sound
of her footsteps, Akane looked up.
“Ranma,” she growled. “Where have you been? You knew that you were supposed to be home by now.” She stopped ranting when she saw that Ranma was carrying P-chan. “Why do you have P-chan?” She then looked at the pig she was holding in her arms. “Then who is this?”
Ranma looked at the pig that Akane was holding. This particular little black pig wore a simple red bandanna around his neck. She had seen that pig before too and she knew where she had seen him.
Everything fell into place. The brown-hair boy, his abilities, and where s/he saw him before. She bent over the pig and stared at him in wonder.
“This is Ga-chan.”
“Who?” asked Akane.
Another voice answered.
“Ga-chan, son of P-chan.”
Akane, Ranma and the two pigs looked towards the voice of the newcomer. A fourteen-year-old girl, wearing a yellow wrap and carrying a spatula and a red umbrella came walking towards them. Her long damp hair was tied into pigtails and her yellow bandanna was soaked. Her resemblance to Ryouga was startling.
“This is your pig?” asked Akane.
“You could say that,” the girl answered.
While the girls were arguing, Ranma-chan grabbed the other pig from Akane’s arms, and ran into the house. Akane was so busy arguing that she didn’t even noticed. She raced through the front door and almost ran into Kasumi. Kasumi dropped her duster, as she was startled.
“Oh, Ranma,” she said, “you startled me.”
“You missed dinner, but I thought you might like a bath, so I drew one for you.”
“Don’t mention it.”
Ranma ran up the stairs and into the bathroom. She shut the door behind her and looked at the hot bath.
“I hope I’m right,” she murmured to herself as she dropped both pigs into the water. Seconds later, two human heads broke the surface. One was Ryouga’s, the other belonged to the brown-hair boy from the restaurant.
“I knew it!” she shouted.
The boys looked at each other.
“You!” started Ryouga.
“Relax, P-chan, I’ve got it figured out.” Ranma looked at the other boy as she got undressed. “You’re Hibiki Iikiba, right?”
The boy blushed as red as his headband, more at Ranma-chan’s casual nudity then at being found out. Ryouga looked incredulous.
“But, I don’t have a cousin named Iikiba...”
“Shut-up Ryouga,” Ranma interrupted as she climbed into the tub with the others, instantly turning male. “I want you to meet your son.”
“Uh, son...?” was Ryouga’s intelligent reply.
“H-how did you know?” asked Iikiba.
“First, tell me something,” started Ranma, “are temporal anomalies normal for you too?”
“Huh?” asked Ryouga.
“I thought it was all a dream, but now I’m not sure.” Ranma began telling his story haltingly. “Ryouga, remember the fight a few weeks ago where I was chasing you, but I was the one who got lost?”
“Yeah, I do. Nice to know I’m not the only one.”
“Uh, right. Well anyway, I ran into a
patch of glowing light, and found myself lost in the woods. I walked
for a ways until I found a campsite. The campsite was built by Jiro.
“Jiro was older, she was taller too. Taller than any other girl that I know personally. She wore her hair short like you do now, Ryouga, and she wore her headband the same way. She wasn’t alone though, with her was a little kid, ‘bout four-years-old. That was you, Iikiba.
“Well, anyway, I walked up to her and she recognised me but said that I was missing for five years, and that she and Iikiba-chan was waiting for his father, Ryouga. So I’d offer to wait with her, just to get some answers from her.
“In a bit, Iikiba-chan said that he had to go to the washroom and Jiro asked if I’d accompany him, since she had to wait for her brother and Iikiba had inherited his father’s sense of direction, or lack of. She told me not to let the little guy fall into the river and that if he did, I was not to panic and fish him out.
“Well, Iikiba did fall into the river and he turned into a tiny piglet.
“Wait a minute!” yelped Ryouga. “You
mean to say that the curses get transferred to our children?!?”
“No,” said Iikiba. “I fell into the newly reformed spring of ‘drowned black piglet’, when I was three.”
“That’s a relief.”
“Well, anyway, that’s how I recognised you,
Iikiba. I didn’t recognised you as a sixteen year-old guy, but I
remember the black piglet with the red bandanna.”
Ryouga looked at the brown-hair boy with mild curiosity and great scepticism.
“So you’re my son ...huh? Then who’s your mother?”
“Um, I’m not sure if I should say...”
“Ryouga, you’re so dense at times. Remember how he handled those jerks back at the restaurant? Who do you think he learned that from?”
Ryouga remembered Iikiba’s ability with the tiny throwing spatulas.
“You learned that from your mother...?” he asked bleakly.
“Yeah, I did,” Iikiba replied softly.
“Oh no ...” Not Ukyou ... I’m supposed to marry Akane, ... or Akari ... “No way! There’s no way that I would marry Ukyou. You both are trying to trick me!”
“Ryouga-san...” started Iikiba, when the door to the bathroom slammed open.
“Oniichan!” With that shout the girl in yellow with the spatula burst into the washroom, waving a plastic bag filled with clothes. She stopped short, however at the sight of three naked young men in the bathtub. Her eyes opened wide and became as round as saucers. Blood spurted from her nose and she dropped to the floor in a dead faint. Ranma looked at the comatose girl, then back to his rival.
“Yep. She’s definitely one of yours, Ryouga,” he commented.
“Yoiko, you dummy...” Iikiba sighed.
“What’s going on?” asked Akane from the doorway.
Both Ryouga and Iikiba turned red and tried to sink into the water, well as deep as they can go, considering the crowded circumstances.
“Akane-san...” stammered Ryouga.
“Ryouga-kun ... Why are you here?” Akane had her eyes covered.
“Oniisan, there you are.” Jiro popped into the washroom beside Akane. She looked at all three boys, calmly and with interest.
“Yoiko-chan and I had our talk,” said Akane. “She said that she was from the future and that she had to take her brother home.” She peeked through her fingers at Iikiba, who was still trying to disappear into the water. “You are Iikiba-san right?”
“Right,” he burbled from the tub.
“Why don’t we let the boys get dressed first and we can continue this conversation around a nice cup of tea?” suggested Kasumi from behind the other girls.
“Great idea, Oneechan,” congratulated Nabiki. “Maybe, we can get to the bottom of this, and get something profitable as well.”
All the girls left the washroom, except for Yoiko, who was still unconscious, and Jiro. Jiro placed a pile of Ryouga’s clothes on the shelf.
“These are the only clean clothes left, Oniisan. We’re going to have to get to the Laundromat soon.”
Ryouga grunted his agreement from the tub.
Jiro then disentangled the plastic bag form Yoiko’s fingers.
“This looks like your clothes, Iikiba-san. I’ll leave them here with Oniisan’s. I’ll take Yoiko-kun and leave.” She placed the clothes with Ryouga’s and took Yoiko’s shoulders and dragged her out of the washroom. Before she closed the door, she called out to Ryouga.
“You know, with your, um, attributes, I’m surprised that you don’t have many girlfriends. Just thought you should know.” Jiro shut the door.
Ryouga’s head disappeared under the surface of the water.
On their way downstairs, Jiro took the newly
awakened Yoiko aside.
“You are Oniisan’s future daughter, right?” she asked.
“That’s right, Auntie Ji,” Yoiko replied.
“What does ‘Auntie’ mean?”
“It’s an English form of ‘aunt’,” replied Yoiko. Jiro stopped to look at her.
“Am I really your aunt, in the future, or is that just an affectation?”
“According to Touchan, you were adopted by his family shortly after your sixteenth birthday. Kaachan said that the family celebrated in her restaurant.” Yoiko looked at Jiro, who was smiling, with tears running down her face. “Auntie Ji, are you all right?”
“Yes I am. Thanks Yoiko-kun, you’ve made me so happy.”
The girls walked down the stairs a little further.
“Um, Yoiko-kun?” asked Jiro.
“In the future, does Akane-san know about Oniisan’s curse?”
“It’s common knowledge to everyone.”
“Okay...” Jiro paused. “At this time, Akane-san doesn’t know about it. Um ... Your brother’s cursed as well, isn’t he?”
“Yep, he turns into a little black pig, just like Touchan.”
“Well, anyway, it would be a bad idea if you were to mention those curses in front of Akane-san, understand? If she found out about Oniisan’s secret, she would get mad, and Oniisan would get depressed. You know about the Shi shi Houkoudan...?”
Yoiko winced as though she imagined the damage that a full-blown chi-blast could do.
“Aah ... I see what you’re saying, Auntie Ji, I won’t mention any curses.”