Matchmaking (and Moneymaking)

The Lingerie & The Dream (Day 4-5)

Kasumi was deep in thought as she followed Akane and Ryoga back to the dojo, not even noticing when Ukyo split off to go back to her own home. Her mind was occupied with what the fortuneteller had said. Looking at the paper in her hand, she considered the possibilities once more. Kasumi reread the paper carefully, thinking over each line as she did.

"I see a beautiful woman, with a fiery temper." 'Well, Akane is definitely the first person that comes to mind.'

"Independence fills her being, as she denounces any desire for a male in her life." 'It still fits Akane at that point.'

"Beside her, I see a handsome man of incredible power." 'That could definitely apply to Ranma.'

"He claims to despise the woman's presence, but always chases her when they are apart." 'Well, 'despise' seems a bit strong, but the second half works for them.'

"His voice resounds with distaste for her, but he is always by her side in times of need." 'That works the same as the previous line, I suppose.'

Kasumi stopped herself, thinking, 'That Fortuneteller thought Ranma was a girl, though, and since there was only one girl in it, the other person can't be Akane. Maybe if I think about the girl as Ranma, I can figure out who the guy is supposed to be! Oh my, this is kind of fun!' Going back to the beginning, she looked at it differently.

"I see a beautiful woman, with a fiery temper." 'Well, that could certainly fit Ranma. Her cursed form is quite pretty.'

"Independence fills her being, as she denounces any desire for a male in her life." 'Well, that certainly matches what Ranma has said in the past. Is that supposed to suggest that what Ranma says about that isn't true, though? Or just that Ranma's mind will change in the future?'

"Beside her, I see a handsome man of incredible power." 'Unfortunately, that doesn't narrow it down much. Maybe I should ask Akane or Nabiki about it. They would have a better idea about who the most powerful fighters are than I do.'

"He claims to despise the woman's presence, but always chases her when they are apart." 'Well, there are a few boys who seem to dislike Ranma. As for chasing her, Nabiki's classmate Kuno seems to like Ranma. The only other one I can think of that would fit that part would be…'

Kasumi's eyes rose to lock on to the Lost Boy in front of her. 'Ryoga said he followed Ranma all the way to China and back,' she thought. 'That would definitely count as chasing her, right? Ryoga would certainly fit the previous line, too.' Looking back at the paper, she went on to the next line.

"His voice resounds with distaste for her, but he is always by her side in times of need." 'Well, that would certainly fit Ryoga better than Nabiki's classmate.'

Moving on to the second part of the fortune, she read through the rest. "Hatred and Love are often said to be opposite sides of the same coin, but this is a coin that lands on its edge far more frequently than it should. Love will be found in the last place it is sought, but from a source that has been there longer than any other."

Kasumi frowned as she considered that part. 'I suppose that makes sense, but what about the last line? Ranma met Ukyo before Ryoga… Does it mean that Ryoga was the first person Ranma was attracted to? But then, wouldn't that have happened before Ranma got cursed?'

Kasumi's face lit up with a blush, as she pictured that last possibility. Before she could think on it further, though, they arrived back at the dojo.

Ranma was deep in thought as she headed back to the Tendo residence. 'Doctor Tofu seemed pretty sure about what he said, but I can't change back ta a guy because of the deal I made with Nabiki! I don't wanna wear a bra, but Tofu said it could mess up my martial arts, if I don't. Maybe if I explain it ta Nabiki, she'll let me change back for a few days? It'll probably be expensive ta convince her, though…'

As she approached the dojo, Ranma saw Nabiki arriving, as well. Hurrying over, the redhead called out, "Hey, Nabiki! I need ta talk ta ya about something!"

Nabiki, who had been busy considering how to make the most of the situation with Mousse, looked up at the sound of Ranma's voice. "What is it, Saotome?" Nabiki asked.

Ranma scratched the back of her neck nervously, saying, "Well, I talked ta Dr. Tofu today, and I need ya ta let me turn back ta a guy for a couple of days."

Remembering Ranma's complaints about her back, and her own suspicions as to the cause of the issue, Nabiki decided to confirm it by asking, "Oh? And why is that?"

"Well, Tofu said my back problem could affect my martial arts if I stayed a girl for too long." Ranma said, paraphrasing what the doctor had said.

Unfortunately for her, Nabiki was not buying it. "We both know plenty of female martial artists, Ranma. What did he really tell you?" Nabiki asked, though her tone told Ranma she already somehow knew the answer.

Hanging her head, Ranma said dismally, "He said I needed ta change back ta a guy for a couple of days… or start wearing a bra…" Giving Nabiki a nervous grin, Ranma went on. "So, you'll let me change back ta a guy, right?"

"I'll think about it." Nabiki said without missing a beat. Seeing Ranma looking prepared to argue, she said, "It's getting late, so we'll deal with it tomorrow. Don't worry, Saotome, I won't make you buy a bra."

"Oh, that's a relief," Ranma said, as she relaxed.

As the pair headed inside, though, Nabiki thought, 'Of course, that doesn't mean that I won't buy one for you, Saotome.'

Five minutes later found Nabiki standing in her family's living room, watching Ryoga attacking Ranma in the back yard, and trying to figure out what had set off the Lost Boy's temper. She remembered that he had gone with Akane and Kasumi to help with the shopping, so she figured she should ask one of them. Since Akane was not in the living room, Nabiki decided to head to Kasumi's domain: the kitchen.

Upon entry, however, she was surprised to see that Kasumi was there, but NOT cooking anything. Instead, her older sister was leaning against the counter, staring intently at a piece of paper in her hand.

Curious about what could have her normally cheerful sister frowning, deep in thought, Nabiki walked over, and asked, "Are you alright, Kasumi?"

Kasumi jumped in surprise, before turning to Nabiki with a smile. "Oh, hello there, Nabiki. I didn't hear you come in." Realizing the younger girl had asked her a question, she went on, "I'm feeling fine, though. Why do you ask?"

Nodding at a smoking pot on the stove beside them, Nabiki said simply, "Well, it's not like you to let dinner burn, for one."

"OH MY!" Kasumi cried, as she whirled around to face the stove. Her hands were immediately in motion, as she hurried to save the meal she had started before getting distracted. Abandoned in favor of the food, the note she had been looking at fell slowly down to the floor.

Curious about what had managed to distract her sister so much, Nabiki picked up the piece of paper, and read prediction written on it. "What's this? Did Akane see a fortuneteller, or something?" She asked Kasumi.

Not looking up from her cooking, she replied, "Well, it is from a fortuneteller, but it's supposed to be about Ranma. The others seem to think the girl in it is Akane, though."

'Well, that explains why Ryoga was in a bad mood.' Nabiki thought, 'but if it's supposed to be about Ranma, then why would it talk about Akane first?' Then, she realized something. "Hey, Kasumi," she asked, "you said the others thought the girl was Akane… Does that mean you don't?"

Kasumi frowned as she said, "It seems that way at first, but after the others walked off, the fortuneteller asked me to give that copy of the fortune to Ranma. The way she said it, though, made it seem that like she thought Ranma was the girl."

Her words were greeted by silence for a moment, as Nabiki swiftly reread what was written. A moment later, Kasumi looked up in surprise, as her sister suddenly burst into laughter. Misinterpreting the reason for Nabiki's laughter, she smiled and said, "I suppose it is a silly mistake. Maybe Ryoga was right about her being a fake…"

"Yeah, silly." Nabiki said as she calmed down. To herself, she thought, 'Why did Ryoga think it was fake? I suppose he could have just been in denial about it.' Suddenly, an idea came to her. "Kasumi, why don't I take this note to Ranma for you, since you're busy with dinner?"

"Oh, would you? Thank you, Nabiki." Kasumi said with her usual kindly smile. "I meant to give the note to Ranma as soon as you two returned, but Ryoga was so eager to play that they headed out to the back yard as soon as she got home."

Hearing the distinctive blast of two Ki attacks colliding from outside, Nabiki couldn't help but feel that Kasumi had an odd definition of the word 'play'. Shaking her head, she left the kitchen, and moved towards the sound of the fight, note in hand.

As she stepped outside, however, her good mood was replaced by irritation, as she saw the damage the two fighters had managed to cause to her family's property. Looking around, she saw Ranma pulling herself from the now larger Koi pond, as Ryoga extricated himself from the remains of the property wall. Deciding to try and put an end to it, she called out to the combatants. "So, are you two going to fix this yourselves, or just pay me to get a landscaper in here?"

Ranma and Ryoga looked up at her in surprise, before looking around the yard, twin expressions of chagrin spreading across their faces, as they noticed the collateral damage they had caused for the first time.

Shaking her head, Nabiki said, "Just head inside and get ready for dinner." As they passed her, though, still glaring at each other, she stopped the redhead. "One second, Ranma. Kasumi wanted me to give you this." Handing Ranma the note, she explained, "The others saw a fortuneteller today, who told them a prediction about who you are supposed to end up with. I suppose that's why Ryoga was so upset."

Scanning over the note, Ranma snorted, and rolled her eyes. Crumpling it up and tossing it over her shoulder, she mumbled, "Stupid pig, believing something like that."

Nabiki smirked as she watched Ranma head inside, thinking, 'Now that that's taken care of, I just need to wait until tomorrow. It's going to be a busy day…'

"Look, I'm glad ya are willing ta help me, Nabiki, and I know ya said it would make sense when we got there, but…" Ranma glance over her shoulder at the Lost Boy following them, before she continued. "Why da we need him?"

"Well, I suppose we don't need him, per se," Nabiki said, before shrugging it off. "But he owes me a favor, and I don't feel like carrying bags."

"Bags?" Ranma asked in confusion. "Where are we going, anyway?"

"Don't worry, we're almost there." Nabiki said, as their destination came into sight. Stopping at the corner, she turned to Ryoga and said, "You stay here, we'll be back in a bit. Just make sure not to wander off."

"Great, so I get dragged along, and then just have to wait." Ryoga grumbled.

However, he was surprised by Nabiki's reply. Nabiki grinned as she spoke, having known that Ryoga would react like that. "Well, you can come in if you want to, I just didn't think you would. Make sure not to leave, though. You'll owe me if you wander off."

As Nabiki moved forward again, the two martial artists followed. Ryoga whispered to Ranma, "What is this all about, anyway? Nabiki just told me I needed to carry something for her…"

"I'm not sure." Ranma whispered back, as they followed Nabiki into a building. "She just said I'd understand when we… got… there…" Ranma trailed off as she saw the type of store they had entered. Either they had walked into Happosai's personal warehouse…

Or they had just entered a lingerie boutique.

Before either had a chance to react, a foreign looking girl behind the counter greeted them in a heavy French accent. "Welcome to ze Chantelle Nerima Boutique! Ah, Mademoiselle Nabiki! It iz a pleasure to zee you again! Are you looking for anyzing in particular today?"

"Nothing for me, just looking for something for my friend, Mademoiselle Gamichon. We should be fairly quick." Nabiki said to the French girl, before grabbing Ranma's arm and dragging Ranma off to the side of the store where she knew the less risqué items were.

Ryoga looked after the pair in surprise, thinking, 'Wait, if Nabiki isn't getting anything, then the reason she brought Ranma is… HA! No wonder Nabiki didn't tell Ranma what this was about. Otherwise she never would have come along.'

Seeing him staring after the pair, the foreign girl at the counter asked him, "It iz not often zat I zee zuch a beau in 'ere. Are you per'aps Mademoiselle Nabiki's boyfriend?"

It took Ryoga a moment to realize what the girl had said, due to her accent. "Me and Nabiki? No, no! She just asked me to carry some bags for her. I didn't realize she was going to a place like this."

"Oh? Are you with ze red'ead?" She asked curiously.

"Wha? RANMA!? That's ridiculous!" Ryoga cried, hoping no one he knew had seen him enter the store and jumped to similar conclusions.

"Zen… are you zingle, by chance?" The girl asked, her tone turning from curious to sultry. Ryoga blinked in surprise at her tone shift, and grew nervous as he saw her eyeing him up and down. Gulping, he thought, 'I really hope those two finish fast!'

Meanwhile, Ranma was just as uncomfortable, if not more so. As Nabiki led her past what seemed like a million pieces of varied colored lace, the martial artist hissed, "What the Hell, Nabiki!? I thought ya said I didn't have ta wear one of these!"

Nabiki just smirked, saying, "No, I said you wouldn't have to buy one. Since it's my fault your back started hurting, I'll pay for a couple. Remember, it's just until the end of the month, and then you can burn them if you want to."

Scowling, Ranma said, "Fine, but don't expect me ta wear anything lacy, or see through, or-"

"Believe it or not, Ranma, some bras are more about practicality than they are about appearance," Nabiki cut her off, before stopping in from of a curtained off changing room.

Confused, Ranma asked, "Why are we at the changing room already? Don't we need ta get something for me ta try on first?"

"No, first we need to get your measurements." Nabiki said, while ushering her past curtain. "Hurry up and take off your shirt. We don't want to take too long."

As Ranma complied, she asked, "Not that I don't wanna get outta here as soon as I can, but what's the hurry?"

As Nabiki started to take the redhead's measurements, she explained. "I had a reason for trying to leave Ryoga outside. The girl at the counter is the owner's daughter. While she's great at helping female customers in a friendly manner, she tends to get a bit too friendly with any cute guys that come in."

"What does that have ta do with Ryoga?" Ranma asked obliviously.

Nabiki had to fight the urge to smirk at such an easy opening. Instead, she rolled her eyes, and said, "Believe it or not, Saotome, while Ryoga may not be your typical pretty boy, he's certainly attractive in his own way. Not my type, but I could easily see someone falling for him if they were at least as stubborn as he is." Not giving Ranma time to respond, she changed subject. "Alright, I'll go get something for you to try on. Don't worry, I'll make sure to keep it functional."

With that said, Nabiki left the room with an annoyed thought. 'It really isn't fair that someone born a guy has bigger breasts than me.'

Ranma, left by herself, could not help but think about what Nabiki said. 'I suppose Ryoga ain't bad looking, for a guy, but he's so obsessed with Akane that I doubt any other girl would have a chance, even if they could put up with him. Well, maybe Akari, but besides that…'

A few moments later, Nabiki returned, and Ranma was pleasantly surprised that was she brought was lace-free. Picking up the first one, a black sports bra, Ranma sighed and grumbled, "I can't believe I'm actually doing this…"

A few minutes later, Ranma had picked out a few she could live with, all red and white sports, so they would be less likely to show, depending on whether or not she was wearing a white tank top under her usual red shirt, as she did sometimes.

Looking to Nabiki, she asked, "Is that enough, yet?"

Picking up the rejected bras, Nabiki replied, "One more should do it." She left the room, but returned fairly quickly. Unfortunately, what she brought with her was decidedly different from the previous items. The bra was low cut and the same shade of red as Ranma's hair, and edged with lace just a shade lighter, and what was worse was the matching panties Nabiki had brought with it.

Ranma opened her mouth to protest, but Nabiki held up a hand to forestall it, saying, "I know what you're going to say, but the store's having a sale, and our purchases only qualify if they include an item over a certain price. Just make sure it fits, and then whether or not you wear it after today is completely up to you."

Sighing, Ranma thought, 'When this month is over, it better be worth it.' Out loud, she said, "Fine, but this is one I'm definitely gonna get rid of."

"Just remember to wait until the end of the month." She said, before thinking to herself, 'Maybe by then, if all goes according to plan, you'll actually want to wear it.'

Slipping into the undergarments, Ranma frowned, as she looked down at the ample cleavage it left exposed. "Well, it fits where it does cover, not that it covers much." Ranma complained. Stretching her arms, she added, "And it feels like it'll rip the moment I try ta fight in it."

"Well, look on the bright side," Nabiki said, "you can keep this on hand for the next time you need to trick Happosai."

Ranma perked up at that. "Hey, that's an idea!" Turning to pose in front of a mirror in the room, the redhead smirked, saying, "Heh, that old lech wouldn't be able ta string two thoughts together if he saw this!"

Nabiki grinned, as an idea came to her. "Then again, it couldn't hurt to check its effectiveness." She said, before ducking out of the changing room.

Ranma glanced over her shoulder in confusion, thinking, 'What did she mean by that? She can't be going ta get Happosai, 'cause he's gone with our pops for the weekend.'

Heading towards the counter, Nabiki saw exactly what she expected to; the girl behind the counter flirting with Ryoga, while he stuttered responses and looked anywhere but at her. Seeing Nabiki approach, a relieved expression came across his face, and he said, "Hey, are you guys finished?"

"Just about. Follow me." Nabiki said, looking forward to how this would turn out.

Ranma was still trying to figure out what Nabiki had meant, when she returned a moment later. Ranma turned to ask her, but Nabiki spoke up first, simply saying, "Now, let's test it." As she suddenly pulled open the curtain, and stepped to the side, Ranma found herself looking at Ryoga, who looked just as confused as her.

…For all of a second, before he looked down at what she was wearing.

As his brain registered what he was seeing, Ryoga's eyes bugged out comically, before he spun away from the sight and clamped a hand to his nose to prevent a nosebleed, as his face flushed as bright red as the lingerie that had caused it.

Ranma smirked at that. She had always gotten a secret thrill when she made Ryoga react like that. Still, sometimes it was just too easy with him. Crossing her arms under her breasts, Ranma glanced at Nabiki, and said, "Oh please, getting a reaction outta that Pig hardly proves anything. I suppose Happosai ain't any better, though."

Whirling back around, Ryoga snarled, "Ranma! How dare you compare me… to…" Only for him to trail off, as he noticed Ranma's new pose had enhanced her already impressive cleavage even further.

Ranma's smirk only widened, as she got a mischievous gleam in her eyes. "What's the matter, P-chan?" She asked tauntingly. "See something you like?"

Turning away just as fast as before, Ryoga stammered, "I-I'm going to wait by the door!" Suiting word to action, he hurried away, thinking, 'What the Hell!? I thought that might be why Nabiki dragged Ranma here, but I didn't think she would be willing to wear something like that!'

As she watched the Lost Boy retreat, Ranma looked after him in surprise. Scratching her head, Ranma said, "Huh. Usually once he gets mad, he forgets I'm half naked." Looking down at the lingerie she was wearing once more, she muttered, "Maybe there's something ta this after all…"

Happy with the result, Nabiki said, "Well, since that one seems good, we should probably hurry back to the dojo, before it gets too late." Seeing Ranma's questioning look, she explained, "You two still need to clean up from your little 'spar' yesterday."

Grinning sheepishly, Ranma simply replied, "Oh right, I forgot about that."

A few minutes later found the trio heading back towards the Tendo's residence. They were about halfway back, when a familiar voice called out to them. "Nabiki, I was just coming to speak with you. Do you have a moment?"

Looking towards the source of the voice, Nabiki saw Mousse approaching them. Remembering the plan to distract Cologne, and knowing it would be more believable by keeping up the act even when she was not around, Nabiki pasted a pleasant smile on her face and said, "Of course I'll make time for you, Mousse." Turning to the others, she went on, "You two go on ahead and get to work on the yard, I'll catch up in a bit." Not waiting for them to respond, she walked over to the Amazon boy.

Ranma and Ryoga exchanged a glance, before turning back towards their destination. As they started walking again, Ranma asked her companion, "Is it just me, or has Nabiki been acting odd lately?"

Ryoga nodded. Hesitantly, he asked, "So… since Nabiki's gone, can you carry this? It is yours, after all." As he spoke, he held up the bag Nabiki had told him to carry, which contained the purchases she had made at the boutique.

"Oh, uh, sure." Ranma replied as she took the bag, unsure what else to say. Neither could think of anything else to say, Ryoga still embarrassed from earlier, and Ranma trying to figure out why her companions were acting oddly. Needless to say, the walk back to the dojo was filled with an awkward silence between the two.

Meanwhile, Nabiki was speaking with Mousse. "I take it you have something to help with the plan. Or is this about something else?" She asked, as she approached him.

Pulling a small vial filled with unassuming powder out of his sleeve, Mousse handed it to her, saying, "I managed to get ahold of this Dream Dust, and figured it might be of use."

"Dream Dust?" Nabiki asked, looking at the container Mousse had handed her.

"That's right," the Amazon boy replied. "I'm not sure how useful it will be, but you said we needed something more subtle than normal, so I thought you might be able to come up with a way to take advantage of its effects."

Seeing that the label was written in Chinese, she asked, "What does it do, exactly?"

"It's mainly used to help those plague by nightmares, to have more pleasant dreams," Mousse explained, "but when it's misused, it can have the opposite effect. Just sprinkle the powder over someone while they sleep, and whisper instructions in their ear, and that's what they'll dream about that night. The effect ends as soon as they wake up in the morning, though, so the memory of the dream will be the only lasting effect."

"I see," Nabiki said, as a grin spread across her face. "How many doses is this?"

"Only enough for one use, I'm afraid." Mousse said. Seeing her expression, he went on. "It seems you've already come up with something. Will you give someone a good dream, or a nightmare?"

Grinning even wider, the cunning girl replied, "I'm thinking... a little bit of both."

As most of those at the Tendo dojo settled in to sleep for the night, one remained awake, waiting for her opportunity to act. After an hour, which she spent making sure she had the best wording possible for what she planned, Nabiki got out of bed, grabbed the vial of Dream Dust Mousse had given her, and left her room.

Nabiki didn't have the fighting ability so many residents of Nerima had, but when it came to moving unnoticed, there were few who could match her. Moving carefully, Nabiki stole quietly into her family's guest room, and she grinned as she moved over to the redhead sleeping there. Kneeling next to Ranma's futon, she pulled out the vial of Dream Dust, and poured the dust over the sleeping girls form, reciting the instructions she had planned out earlier.

"Ranma, you will have a pleasant dream, where you are happily married to Ryoga."

Mousse had warned her that if she wasn't specific, the dreamer's subconscious would fill in the details, but in this case, Nabiki felt that might actually work out better for her plans.

Even as she left the room, Ranma's dream had already begun...

Ranma's muscles were sore, she was tired, and she could feel bruises forming all over her body. And yet, the grin that was spread across her face betrayed her true feelings. To her, there was nothing more satisfying than a hard earned victory

As she caught her breathe, a little girl ran over to her. No more than six or seven, the girl's bright red hair was done in a pair of pigtails, tied off by familiar yellow and black bandannas. "That was so cool, Mommy!" The little girl said with a fanged grin. "You really are the best martial artist ever, ain'cha?"

'Wait, did she just call me 'Mommy'?'

Ranma scooped up the little girl as she reached her. Laughing, she said, "That's right. Nobody beats Mommy, so you never have to worry, Yoiko! Now, why don't we go see about dinner?"

"And what about me?" Said her defeated opponent, as he got back to his feet.

Ranma just rolled her eyes as she replied. "We both know you've taken worse beatings than that, dear. Don't tell me you're getting soft on me? After all, we wouldn't want you to end up like my old man." Ranma grinned as her teasing caused her daughter to giggle.

Chuckling, he walked over and put his arms around her from behind, saying, "Come on, Ranma. You know I can't help but hold back when confronted with your beautiful face."

"Flatterer," Ranma said as she turned to look over her shoulder into her husband's brown eyes. "Maybe marrying you wasn't such a bad choice after all, Ryoga."

'Married? Ryoga!?'

"Hmm, sounds like you need some more convincing," Ryoga said, a roguish grin spreading across his face, before he leaned forward to give his wife a kiss, which she happily returned.


As the dream began to fade, Yoiko giggled, saying, "Mom! Dad! Get a room!"

"GAH!" Ranma cried out in shock, as she sat bolt upright in her futon. 'W-What the Hell was that!?' she thought.

Awoken by her cry, Ryoga sat up in his own bedding, and asked, "Huh? Is something wrong Ran-" Only to get cut off by a pillow colliding with his face.

"Shut up, you pig! This is all your fault!" Ranma cried, trying to erase the dream from her memory, with little success.

Numbly letting the pillow fall from his face as he blinked in surprise, Ryoga thought, 'What was that about?'

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