"Ahhhh Maaaan!" Ranma looked around in disgust at
the endless corridors, faced with identical, blank-faced doors.
"Where in the world am I now?" Nabiki had ditched him to go
after Akane, telling him 'you won't have _any_ trouble
finding the administration office'.
Ha! He'd had less trouble going over the Khyber pass
in winter. All these damn corridors looked alike and he could
_swear_ he'd passed that same coffee stain on the wall three
times before. He was going to wander in circles until he
starved to death.
Th' heck with that. Pulling open a window he jumped,
spinning to slow his fall. He watched the brick facade speed
past, felt the air rush past his face . . .wishing he could just fall
forever or, better, fly like a bird. With perfect timing he flipped
to land on all fours, spreading the impact as much as possible.
"Uhhhhh!" Shaking his head he dusted himself off,
looking up at the window two stories above. He rotated at the
hips, wincing as his back complained. He _might_ have
overdone it just a little. He'd just go around to the front and
ask someone . . .or maybe he'd just head back to the Tendo's
and----the jet of dirty water caught him completely by surprise.
"Ahhhhh . . . .yuck!" He pulled his sopping shirt away
from his breasts.
"Oh no!" A short, moon-faced girl, wearing a work
apron over her Fuurinkan uniform stuck her head out a door,
empty bucket dangling from one hand. "I'm so _sorry_. I
didn't see you out there."
"Thas' OK." Ranma hated how he sounded----like a
little girl. Well, he _was_ a girl, and not very big at that. But
did he have to sound so damn _cute_! It made him want to
"It's not OK," the girl exclaimed, grabbing him by the
arm and pulling him through the door.
"Ayumi, you klutz," a voice called, "what have you
"It's not my fault, Miyuki," Ayumi protested, "well,
not _exactly_ my fault. See, this girl ----what's your name?"
"Uhhhh . . .Ranma," he answered, without thinking,
slightly off balance as the stocky girl dragged him down the
"This girl Ranma----that's a funny name for a girl,"
Ayumi chattered nonstop, "Ranma got in the way when I
threw out the waste-water----not that I mean that you're in the
way, way----" she glanced worriedly at Ranma for a second,
"and she got splashed and I had to bring her-----but it only
took a second, so I don't see why you're being so meaaaan!"
"Ayumi!" A willowy girl, a head taller than Ranma's
male form, with a classically beautiful face, met them at the
end of the corridor. "HUSH!" Pausing to see her order was
obeyed she took a deep breath and put a hand on Ayumi's
shoulder. "Now, then. Slowly . . .tell me what's going on."
So, Ayumi did, wincing now and then as her friend
pinched her ear when she tried to stray off topic.
"Hello," the tall girl turned to Ranma when Ayumi's
recitation was finished. "I am Nakajima Miyuki class three,
homeroom four. And this chatterbox," Ayumi stuck her
tongue out, "is Somekawa Ayumi, also class three, home-
room four." Both girls bowed.
"Uhhhh . . .Saotome. Saotome Ranma." He made a
sketchy bow. "Nice to meet you. Uhhhh . . .I've got to get to
the administration office to get registered, so if you could-----"
"Registered?" Miyuki said in surprise. "You must be
one of the new transfer students." She grinned at Ranma's
look of surprise. "You're looking at the editor of the
Furrinkan High Student Newspaper. All the news that's fit to
"An' some of it's even true." Ayumi piped up.
"Hush, you." Miyuki made a friendly swipe at the
"Hey gang, come look what Ayumi caught. One of the
newbies." And suddenly, the hall was full of girls, dressed in
aprons and carrying brooms, mops, pails and brushes.
"Our illustrious leader, Principle Kunou," boos and
jeers greeted that pronouncement. "Banished us and our paper
to the dungeons," Miyuki explained, waving a hand at the
pipes and conduits that laced the utility corridor, "so we're
trying to clean out the trash and dirt so we can set up our
"I miss my darkroom." One of the newcomers
"We're setting you up as fast as we can, Mieko. Once
we finish cleaning the boys will cart all the heavy stuff down."
"But, in the _bathroom_?" the girl wailed.
"Ummm . . .if you could tell me how to get to the
office?" Ranma was uncomfortable around so many girls,
even more uncomfortable after his _change_.
"Cripes," a girl, thin almost to the point of emaciation
exclaimed. "You can't go like _this_. You stink!"
"Youko!" Another voice chided, "that's a terrible
thing to say."
"But true," Youko pulled something wet and sticky
from Ranma's hair with a grimace of distaste. "You are
_such_ a klutz," she directed this comment at Ayumi.
"I'm so sorry," Ayumi whispered, almost in tears. "I
should have watched what I was doing."
"That's OK," Ranma muttered, embarrassed by the
girls tears. "If you could just----"
"Let's get you cleaned up," a couple of girls grabbed
him by the arms and dragged him toward a closed door.
"Hey . . .that's my darkroom," Mieko protested.
"It's also our shower and bathroom," Miyuki snapped.
"And we can't let Ranma go out like this. She'll catch a
disease or something from this crap."
"She stinks." Youko seconded.
"My shirt!" Ranma protested, making a grab for the
garment as a it was whisked off. "Whoooops . . .hey, give back
"Your boyfriend's?" a girl grinned, dangling soggy
boxers on one finger.
"NO!" Ranma flushed angrily, "I ain't like that!"
"Quit teasing, Emi," Ranma was shoved, naked ,into a
room filled with boxes and bottles of chemicals. "Don't mind
that stuff. Showers at the end of the room." Another girl stuck
her head in the door. "Here's soap and a towel I got from my
gym bag." Ranma caught the items as they were thrown.
"Take your time. There's plenty of hot water." Youko missed
Ranma's sudden twitch at the mention of hot water.
"What's wrong, Ranma-san?" Miyuki asked
solicitously, sitting next to Ranma in the administration office
an hour later.
"Nuthin'." Onna-Ranma replied a bit sullenly, pulling
at her socks.
"Oh . . .I see," Ayumi said cheerfully. "Here," she
pulled a plastic tube from her pocket. "Snoopy Glue."
Ranma stared at her blankly.
"For your socks, silly." She bent down and quickly
applied some adhesive to each of Ranma's legs, then pulling
up her oversized socks. "There, now they'll stay put."
"Uhhhh . . .thanks." Ranma sat back in her chair,
trying not to tug at the collar of his . . .her blouse. He
suppressed a grimace. Bad enough they'd "kindly" replaced
his ruined clothes with a Fuurinkan uniform, Miyuki and
Ayumi had been "thoughtful" enough to escort him . . .her . . .
to the office and wait with . . .her . . .so she wouldn't feel
lonely. Ranma was still trying to think of a way to ditch them
so he could get back to the Tendo's and change. And he
didn't mean just his clothes. There were several people ahead
of him, so hopefully his two new "friends" would give up and
leave. Otherwise he was just going to have to make a trip to
the bathroom, and vanish out the window. He would have
done it already, only girls seemed incapable of going to the
bathroom by themselves, or letting anyone _else_ go by
"Kuonji! Kuonji Ukyo . . ."
Onna-Ranma's head snapped around so fast she almost
gave herself whiplash, to see a slender bishounen boy, with a
ponytail half way down his back, rise from his seat.
"Come with me please," the pleasant, fiftyish woman
said, and pulled back into her office, followed by the young
"Ranma? Are you alright?" Ayumi was concerned at
how pale Ranma looked.
"Yeah, fine," she said faintly. "I need to use a
"There's a green-phone at the end of the hall," Miyuki
"Great," Ranma stood up. "I'll be right back."
"Here," Ayumi handed Ranma a handful of coins.
"You'll need these."
"T . . .thanks," Ranma replied, staring at the coins,
feeling a little funny. No one had ever just _given_ him
something before. "I'll pay you back----"
"Don't worry about it. If I had been watching what I
was doing, you would have been through long ago."
"Well . . Thanks anyway. It's nice of ya." Ranma
made a sketchy bow, then dashed for the phone.