Will You be my Fiance?
(A Ramna 1/2 Alt History)
By Ammadeau

Much thanks to David Smith and Richard Beaubien for their C&C
on this chapter.


Kyoko was grinning as she sat in sight of the entrance to the
Kuno mansion, checking over her camera for about the sixth time.
At first, her boss' request to follow Ranma around for the night had
filled her with a sickening sort of melancholy that she'd couldn't
quite understand. She wished that Nabiki had forgotten all about
Ranma by now, but she seemed more attached to him than ever,
perhaps even closer to him than Nabiki was to her.
It was only after she had reluctantly agreed to this duty and
hung up the phone had she realized what an opportunity this
represented. All she needed to do was compile a photographic
record of how the pig-tailed boy was just like any other boy and her
boss would dump him in less time than it takes for Kuno to act like a
Kyoko was dressed all in dark shades, to make more
difficult to be seen, but at the same time not unusual to the average
passerby. The camera she held was actually borrowed from her
aunt, who was a photographer for a tabloid and was able to take
good pictures with very little light. She was pretty sure that her aunt
hadn't bought Kyoko's story about wanting to capture nature at night,
but had lent her the camera anyway. Her aunt had even given her a
few tips on pursuing 'nature' at night.
Giving the camera one final check, Kyoko grinned as she
saw her target step out of the Kuno mansion in the arms of a woman.
The first photo of the night taken, she made to follow.

Chapter 8: A Black Rose with Eight Thorns

The night seemed overly warm to Ranma. He wanted to
blame it on the tux he was wearing, but he felt certain it was all due
to the elegant girl who now gently yet firmly held onto his arm. She
had been guiding him the direction of what he hoped to be the
restaurant they were going to, not having said a word since they had
left her house. Neither had Ranma, for the simple reason he had no
idea what to say.
Nor could he relax his guard even as the minutes passed
without anything happening. With Kuno's words from earlier still
running through his head, he kept waiting for the moment when
Kodachi would change into the demon her brother had said her to
be. Normally, he would have already disregarded the kendoist's
words, but it was all too similar to a time with another girl only a
few years ago.

It had been a class trip to a real farm, and Ranma had run
ahead to the stables to see the horses there, animals which he had
always felt a deep connection to, mostly due to his name. His
school wasn't the only one having their field trip there that day,
however. An exclusive private school were just finishing up their
little excursion.
The horses greeted Ranma like a long lost friend, at least
that's how it seemed to him. When he nervously reached out to
stroke their flanks, they didn't pull away, but accepted his touch with
curious looks in their large eyes.
"What are you doing here?" said a soft female voice behind
Ranma slowly turned to see a carefully-groomed white horse
enter the stables at a walk. For just a moment, the pig-tailed boy
thought that this horse had spoken to him. Then he looked up to see
a girl about his own age dressed in a riding outfit, her golden curls
spilling out from beneath her cap. She rode in a lady-like fashion,
holding the reigns in a way that seemed to show she knew what she
was doing. Her pose was refined, almost regal, as she looked down
at him with an inquisitive look in her soft blue eyes.
"Um, my class is on a field trip," Ranma explained, feeling
like he had just been caught trespassing. "I wanted to see the
The girl nodded and told him, "My school has--"
Just then the horse stumbled over a broom which Ranma had
unknowingly knocked over earlier, causing the animal to throw its
rider. Acting solely on instinct, the pig-tailed boy managed to catch
her in his arms so she wouldn't be hurt or her clothes dirtied, though
his own shirt and pants would need a good washing afterwards.
"You... saved me," the girl said to him, blinking in surprise
as she sat in his lap.
Ranma had no idea what to say. He hadn't done it
intentionally, it had been more of a reflex than anything else.
Besides, he doubted she would have gotten seriously hurt.
"Miss Saginomiya!" cried out an elderly man's voice in
alarm as he rushed into the stables. He had greying hair and well-
made tuxedo, but didn't have the same air of elegance about him that
the girl did.
"I am fine, Geoffory," she told the man with a small smile as
she stood and brushed out the wrinkles in her pants. "This boy
saved me."
Geoffory blinked at Ranma, but then bowed to him so low
that his head nearly brushed the ground. "I thank you, sir. I don't
know what I would have done had Miss Saginomiya become injured
due to my own inattention."
Still nervous, Ranma returned the bow -- though not quite so
low -- and said, "You don't need to thank me for that. It's the duty of
every martial artist to help ladies in distress." Or at least that was
what his mom always told him.
"That's why I've decided to make him my new boyfriend,"
the girl declared, daintily draping her arm around Ranma's
Ranma blinked and opened his mouth to protest, but
Geoffory beat him to it. "You can't be serious, miss! He might have
saved you from injury, but he's obviously--"
"Hush, Geoffory," she told him with a smile, though there
was an iron underneath the soft velvet of her voice that Ranma
totally missed but the man didn't. "Have you no sense of romance?
This is love at first sight, a love so pure that it can overcome any
barrier set by class or social standing. Now go and bring the car
around. I shall depart in a few minutes."
Those with obvious reluctance, mostly directed at Ranma,
Geoffory nodded and told her, "Yes, Miss Saginomiya."
After he had left, the girl turned to face Ranma, looking him
up and down as she walked around him, a small smile playing at the
corners of her lips. "Yes, you will do nicely. Kind sir, what is your
The pig-tailed boy blinked and managed to stutter out, "It's
Ranma, Ranma Soatome."
"Ranma? How... appropriate. I shall hold that name in my
heart forever, a momento of the moment when I first discovered true
"And your name?" Ranma asked after a few moments of
silence had passed, her blue eyes staring back at him making him
feel more and more nervous.
Her laughter was like the tinkling of tiny silver bells. "I am
Asuka of the White Lily."

"Ranma-sama?" Kodachi asked, practically whispering into
his ear.
Ranma blinked and shook his head to clear it of the memory.
He shouldn't be so distrustful of Kodachi just because she reminded
him of a past disaster. From what he could tell, there was little
similarity between her and Asuka. Besides, his date with Nabiki
had gone well -- more or less -- perhaps his luck was changing.
That last thought pained him a bit for reasons he couldn't understand,
almost as if he was doing something wrong. He filed that away for
later consideration. There wasn't time for it now.
"Yes, Kodachi... san?" he replied, still feeling nervous to be
so close to this elegant girl.
Kodachi smiled in a demure fashion and gestured with her
free hand to the edifice before which they had stopped. "We have
Ranma followed the path of gesture, only to realize with
horror that the restaurant they had stopped before was the Jade
Blossom. "Oh, no," he whispered.
"Is there something wrong, Ranma-sama? Your mother
mentioned you had enjoyed dining here before and thought it was an
appropriate place to start our date. Did she err?"
Ranma frowned, mentally kicking himself for not asking
about the plans for the date beforehand. His mom would do
something like this to him. But what could he do about it now? If it
was someone else, he might have been able to take her to a place
that didn't require reservations, but this was the daughter of his
mother's best friend, and obviously a girl who was used to the best.
He didn't want to disappoint his mother, even if this was her fault.
Besides, Min-Lin might not even be working tonight. He could be
worried over nothing.
"No, nothing's wrong," Ranma explained quickly as Kodachi
continued to stare up at him curiously. "I just... just thought I had
forgotten my wallet, but then I realized your mom is paying for
"Yes, your company is all I require tonight, Ranma-sama,"
she told him at a near whisper as she leaned her head onto his
shoulder. "Shall we go inside?"
"Yeah," Ranma managed to say as he mechanically put one
foot in front of the other.

Kyoko snapped off a few more shots, making sure to get the
most incriminating angle on the pair as they silently walked down
the street, already so comfortable in each other's presence that they
didn't need to say a word.
Then she saw the restaurant that they had stopped before and
had to bite her tongue to keep from laughing out loud. Instead, she
went around the back to slip inside.

Ranma and Kodachi were met at the door by the same
elderly gentleman who had greeted the pig-tailed boy on his date
with Nabiki. The man smiled at the both of them, but threw Ranma a
slightly puzzled look, to which he bowed his head, feeling
"Welcome to the Jade Blossom. May I help you?"
"Yes, reservations for two," Kodachi spoke up before
Ranma had the chance to. "Listed under the name Kuno."
"Kuno?" the man repeated in surprise, not even glancing
down at his list. "Please come right this way, we've been expecting
Ranma listened to the man's words with a growing feeling of
dread, wondering just what his and Kodachi's mother had arranged
The old man lead them through the dimly lit restaurant, all
the while Ranma glancing around for a glimpse of golden hair, but
thankfully finding none. He guided them through the restaurant to the
back and up a spiral staircase to a hallway lined with rooms of
bamboo, looking like something that belonged in a more traditional
Japanese restaurant.
"These are our private rooms," the man explained with a
smile. "For couples who do not wished to be disturbed by others
while enjoying their meal."
"What a marvelous idea," Kodachi enthused as she snuggled
closer to the pig-tailed boy. "Our parents are so thoughtful."
"Yeah, it's nice," Ranma replied nervously, though more
over Kodachi's touch and delicate scent than anything else. A
private room greatly reduced the chances of someone coming in and
messing things up. For once, his mom had the right idea.
The elderly man slid open one of the doors and lead them
inside. The room was only six tatami mats in size, but it was enough
for a low table and cushions for resting upon. Light incense burned
in a decanter by the far wall, a wall of glass that revealed the moon,
full and bright, outside. Combined with the dim lighting cast by fat
candles placed all about the room, it created a very intimate feel that
made Ranma very nervous.
As he finished taking in the room, Ranma blinked to look
down to find Kodachi wordlessly staring up at him, her lips slightly
parted and her eyes glittering with reflected candlelight. Her
perfume mixed with the incense to create a scent that made Ranma
feel light-headed. "Yes?" he asked to the question in her lavender
eyes, resisting the odd temptation to lean forward, draw closer to
those darkly red lips.
"Shall we sit now, Ranma-sama?" she asked, sounding
faintly puzzled.
Ranma laughed nervously, backing away from her quickly as
he scrambled for his seat, careful not to knock over any of the
Kodachi slowly took the seat opposite, her eyes sad and
downcast. "Have... have I done something to offend you, Ranma-
sama?" she asked, not looking up at him, her voice overflowing with
"Erk!" Ranma realized that Kodachi had taken his
nervousness at breaking away from her quickly to be a rejection.
"No! It's just...," he struggled to explain, having absolutely no idea
what to say.
"I know that you could easily be dating women much more
beautiful than I," she told him, still not looking up. "But do you truly
find me so hideous that you have to escape my touch so quickly?"
*Baka, baka, baka!* Ranma shouted to himself. It was
obvious from the beginning that Kodachi was a very sensitive girl,
but his own silly nervousness had made him careless and hurt her.
One of Nodoka's lessons that Ranma had always agreed with one
hundred percent was that he should never hurt a girl, physically or
Ranma bowed his head down to touch the table, telling her.
"I am sorry, Kodachi-san. I don't think you're hideous. Actually, I
think you're... very pretty."
"Oh, Ranma-sama!" Kodachi declared as he looked up,
blushing as she smiled back at him.
The old man coughed, reminding them both that he was still
in the room. Now having their attention, he served them each a cup
of tea along with a menu.
"Please take your time in choosing," he told them with a
bow. "Just simply pull that bell chord when you are ready to
"Thank you, kind sir," Kodachi told him, while her eyes
gestured to the door.
"Yeah, thanks," Ranma echoed, trying to hide his current
embarrassment by burying his face in the menu.
The old man nodded to Kodachi and told the both of them,
"Enjoy your meal," before he finally left, closing the door behind

Doing her best to act like a waitress just coming in for her
shift, Kyoko found out that her targets had a private room reserved
for their use, and luckily a room next to theirs wasn't going to be
used until much later that night.
Eager not to miss a moment of Ranma's infidelity, Kyoko had
to restrain herself from bounding up the stairs, instead stealthily
entering the room next door, careful not to be noticed. The walls
were relatively thin so a little peep hole was easily made, giving
her a clear view of Ranma and the back of Kodachi.
Checking the camera once again, Kyoko waited for her next
photo opertunity.

When Kodachi has still been in middle school, she had been
petitioned to join the drama club, who thought that her flair for the
dramatic and reputation would boost up their own failing rep. After
a great show of reluctance, she had eventually consented to their
demand after they had publicly presented her with a rare shrubbery
to add to her garden.
Kodachi's only condition was that she would hold the main
role or she would not perform at all. Unfortunately, the role of the
female protagonist in the play they had chosen to do was ill-suited
for Kodachi. They tried to talk her into the male lead, which was
much closer to her personality, but she wouldn't hear of it. It was
more than just the lovely Black Rose could never play a convincing
man, but it was also the insinuation that there was something
feminine that she wouldn't be able to do.
The role was that of a samurai's wife who patiently waits for
his return after he goes off to war. She waits and waits to hear any
news, and though nothing is heard for years, she continues to
patiently await the return of her husband. Finally, after a decade has
passed, she receives word that her husband has taken a new wife in
a foreign land. The woman then commits suicide, firmly believing it
was her fault for not being able to keep her husband's love.
Kodachi thought it was rubbish, and for once her mother
agreed with her, though of course her backward brother saw no
problem with it. She nearly refused to play the role and quit the
drama club altogether, but that would have been admitting defeat,
and that was something no Kuno would do without a fight.
So instead Kodachi burned with the determination to play
the role better than anyone had ever played it before. Memorizing
the distasteful lines was the easy part, speaking them with the proper
feeling and intonation was nearly impossible. Instead of conceding
defeat, Kodachi scoured all media for similar roles to study
carefully, to find a way of becoming the dutiful housewife.
The revelation was so simple that she was surprised she
hadn't hit on it immediately. The goal was all important; the proper
means of obtaining it, no matter how distasteful, were just the means
to the end. Why should she care if other people saw her as demure,
as long as she reached her objective? Such self-consciousness was
beneath her.
Kodachi could clearly remember opening night. She hadn't
attended rehearsal for some time, practicing her role alone and free
of distractions. Shoving her understudy aside, she strode onto the
stage as her que was called. Her stride had immediately changed to
a demure pace as she felt the heat from the spotlights, her head
bowed as she approached her 'husband', a girl dressed as a samurai
who nervously explained about the war.
Applause had deafened her as she took her bow, the crowd
cheering and calling her name. The president of the drama club
handed her a bouquet of red roses, gushing out praise like a broken
faucet. Kodachi had smiled at the older girl and said, "I quit." It
was glorious.

"Something funny, Kodachi-san?" Ranma asked her
cautiously, peering over the menu.
The Black Rose blinked to realize she had been
daydreaming and laughing to herself. "Just a memory, Ranma-sama,
nothing more," she told him with a smile.
"Have you decided yet? I think I know what I'm having," he
told her, clearly trying to make conversation.
Feeling her mental mask starting to slip, Kodachi did her
best to firmly put it back in place. Things were going so well so far,
now wasn't the time to ruin it. Hitomi's brother certainly was cute,
in more ways than one. His appearance was all that she could hope
for, especially considering that her dreary life at an all-girl's school
had made men nearly inaccessible. The way he was so careful not
to offend her was also charming in a way. Clumsy, but she liked the
sense of vulnerability it gave him. It left her in control. Her only
disappointment was how trouble-free the evening had been so far,
but then again the night was young.
"Yes, I have decided as well. Forgive me for not telling you
"No, no, that's okay," Ranma replied with a nervous smile,
glancing around the room. "So I guess I just pull this rope here..."
"I would surmise as much," Kodachi said with barely
surpressed laughter in her voice. It was so much fun to keep the pig-
tailed boy off guard with only a glance or a few words. She usually
didn't have much reason to be subtle, finding that it wasn't nearly as
effective as other methods, but in this case it seemed well worth the
Ranma tugged on the long chord hanging near the wall,
wincing as if he expected something horrible to happen as a result,
but they only heard the sound of faint chimes, echoing to nothing.

Snap, snap went the camera as Kyoko studied Ranma's face
for the minute changes in expression, the signs of enamor for the girl
who now sat opposite from him. She felt mildy ill looking at him so
much, but it would be well worth freeing her sempai from his
The only thing which would have made it better was some
sort of listening device so she could hear and record what they were
saying. Sometimes they spoke clearly, but usually it was in tones
too low to be comprehensible. Kyoko was sure that it would be
twice as incriminating if she could record Ranma's words.

"Ranma-sama, you are a friend of my bother, are you not?"
Kodachi asked him in a tone chosen to get his attention.
Ranma blinked at the sudden question, answering slowly, "I
guess so..."
Kodachi hid her smile in her hand to hear the pig-tailed
boy's reluctance. It was no surprise that her delusion brother had
misunderstood Ranma. She only hoped that he had misunderstood
his connection to that... dreadful tomboy as well.
"Well, my brother has recently become enamored with a girl
at school. Normally, I wouldn't think of meddling in my brother's
affairs, but in hearing about all the gifts he plies this girl with, I've
become worried that she is taking unfair advantage of my brother's
naiveté. Tell me, what do you know about this Akane Tendo
"Akane isn't like that," Ranma responded immediately, not
noticing Kodachi's slight frown. "She might seem like kind of a
bully to most people, but the fights are never her fault. She's
actually a very nice person. It's your brother that doesn't listen to
her and keeps giving her stuff even though she keeps telling him not
"I see," Kodachi replied in an icy tone. "You seem to know
Akane Tendo quite well yourself."
"Not really," Ranma told her as if he hadn't noticed her tone.
"I just met her a few days ago. It's just... a lot of times people
observe me from a distance and think I'm a troublemaker even
though the things that happen aren't always my fault. I don't like
anyone else getting misunderstood in the same way. Besides, she's
helped me out a few times so I owe her."
"That is something I can well understand," Kodachi told him
with a slight smile. It was no surprise that her brother had misread
their relationship; Ranma merely felt indebted to the tomboy, not
enamored with her. "I have a similar difficulty with my own
reputation. No doubt you heard some of the terrible things that
people say about me from your sister or my own dear brother."
Kodachi watched Ranma squirm uncomfortably in his seat
for a few moments before he finally admitted, "Well, they did say
some stuff about you... but nothing really bad."
The Black Rose brought a napkin to her eyes to wipe away
unshed tears, and at the same time a bit worried that she might be
laying it on too thick. Ranma didn't strike her as stupid, but he did
seem naive when it came to women. She also made a mental note to
find out later just what exactly Hitomi and Tatewaki had said about
her though.
"The girls from rival schools are so jealous of my skills at
rhythmic gymnastics -- not to mention my beauty and elegance -- that
they spread these foul lies about me, saying that I'm a vicious,
wicked girl who cheats to win her matches."
Kodachi sniffed as if on the edge of bawling while peering
at Ranma out of the corner of her eye to gauge his reaction. Then
she had to stifle a smile to see an expression of mute horror break
over his face. She felt a small pang of guilt in manipulating him like
this when he obviously showed her real concern, but stifled it. She
had no idea when she'd be able to have another boy pay this much
attention to her, if at all.
Ranma moved to sit closer to her, though still keeping out of
her personal space. "Kodachi-san, you're... you're a very nice
person. People shouldn't listen to what others say about you. It's
obvious that you're very sweet and kind."
"Really?" Kodachi asked with a catch to her voice. This
time not feigned at all, no one had ever called her 'nice' or 'kind'
before. She was often praised for what she had done, by her mother
or fellow students, but never for just being herself. Even if she
wasn't technically being herself at the moment, it was still nice to
Staring back into those lavender eyes again, eyes that almost
seemed to draw him in, Ranma simply nodded.
"Oh, Ranma-sama!" Kodachi exclaimed, reaching out to
embrace him, resting her head on his chest as her arms encircled his
waist. "You are too kind. I am undeserving of such praise."
Ranma went from unable to speak to unable to think. That
was when the door opened.

Kyoko bit her tongue again, though a few giggles managed to
seep out as she quickly snapped off photos of Ranma and his date's
loving embrace. She had half-considered doing something herself to
make Ranma look bad, perhaps doctoring the photos a bit, but it
looked like the truth would provide all the ammunition she needed
to shoot down the relationship between her boss and the pig-tailed

"Ahem. Perhaps I should give you are few more minutes...
to decide on your meal," the waiter said tactfully as he moved to
shut the door again. He had the air of someone who had walked in
on such a scene several times before.
"No, wait! It wasn't what it looked like!" Ranma protested
immediately, jumping back into his seat, though at the same time
careful to gently break out of the girl's embrace, not wanting to risk
offending her again. He did wonder why people always seemed to
interrupt him at exactly the wrong time though.
"Oh, I'm so embarrassed!" Kodachi squealed, hiding her
face in her hands.
"There's no need to be, miss," the waiter said with a small
nod in her direction. "I didn't see any of what you might have been
Ranma tried to explain that they weren't doing anything, but
his date spoke before he had the chance to.
"That's so kind of you. I wouldn't want our parents to know...
We're only on our first date!" Kodachi confessed with a light blush.
Ranma tried to figure out what in the world she could be
talking about, but came up blank. Though she was so shy and timid
that she might think an innocent embrace as something bold and
daring for her.
It wasn't longer before the waiter had taken their orders and
left with a small bow, though to Ranma he seemed to be hurrying
along to leave them alone as soon as possible. Something that the
pig-tailed boy wasn't feeling at all comfortable with.
Ranma was no stranger to hormones, in fact he feared what
would be thought of him if he let them loose, the terrible things that
they might make him do to some poor, unsuspecting woman.
Thankfully, all the women that his mom usually set him up with put
enough fear into him to silence the voices of those hormones --
though the provided a whole host of other problems -- but Kodachi
was doing just the opposite, and he was becoming increasingly
worried that his control might slip.
"Your fian..." Ranma blinked to find that during his
introspective moment, the girl had vanished from her seat.
"Yes, Ranma-sama?" Kodachi asked, turning back to face
him from her new place standing beside the window, looking out at
the full moon has it hung in the night sky.
Ranma walked over to her, careful to keep her outside easy
touching distance. "I was just saying that your fiance is one lucky
guy," he told her with a smile, drawing strength from that just-
remembered fact. *Nope, can't touch her unless I really want to find
out how sharp mom keeps the family sword. She's promised to
someone else.* For Ranma, fear had always been a great motivator.
"Do you really think so?" Kodachi asked in a sad tone that
took him by surprise.
"Why sure...," Ranma started to say, pausing to think of some
positive things to break up the sudden somber mood. "You're nice,
elegant, sweet, and pretty. Any guy would be crazy not to want you
as his fiance."
Kodachi stared up at the moon, her voice so soft that it was
almost a whisper. "But I don't know anything about him. I've lived
my whole life with the knowledge that I was already promised to
someone; kept away from boys my own age, never knowing of love.
I have... accepted that, but it's been hard not knowing what my future
husband will be like, hard to hold onto the hope that he will be
everything I hope for, and not the nightmare I dread him to be."
Kodachi suddenly turned to face the pig-tailed boy, her
lavender eyes bright and shining under the moonlight as she quickly
bridged the distance between them, until their bodies were only
inches apart. "If he could only be like you, Ranma-sama -- so noble,
kind, and handsome -- then my life will not have been in vain. But if
he is not... what then will I do?"
Ranma stared at Kodachi's downcast expression, her long
lashes seeming to be blinking away tears, and felt an uncomfortable
knot twisting in his stomach. He had to bring up the fiance and make
her suffer like this, didn't he? His sister was so right, he really was
a baka.
Hesitantly at first, but quickly steeling it with conviction,
Ranma lightly placed his hand on her shoulder, causing Kodachi to
look up at him in surprise. "Then don't marry him then," he told her
in a serious tone. "If you don't like the guy, then you shouldn't
become his wife, no matter what your mother or anyone else says.
It's your life, Kodachi, you should just... follow your heart."
"You are so eloquent, Ranma-sama!" she enthused,
practically beaming with joy as she smiled up at him.
*Damn, I should watch mom's soaps more often,* Ranma
thought, still a bit surprised that it had actually worked. *There's
some useful stuff in there.*
Ranma thoughts were interrupted when Kodachi drew even
closer to him, slipping her arms around his waist as she brought her
head so close to his that their lips were nearly touching.
Kodachi whispered to him in a low and sultry voice,
"However, I don't know if I would have the strength to do that
"Uh, unless?" Ranma repeated nervously, glancing around
for some avenue of escape, realizing with dread that due to the small
size of the room, the only place he had to go was further into a
"Unless..." Kodachi replied, punctuating the word by
bringing them chest to chest, causing Ranma to fly into a state of
frozen panic as he felt her breasts squashed against him, their
presence before all but hidden before by her dark kimono. "Unless
you just do one small thing for me, to give me the strength to resist
my horrible fiance and not doom me forever to a life of slavery."
"What is it... you want me to do?" Ranma managed to stutter
out while trying and failing not to be drawn into those lavender
eyes, deeper and deeper, seeming to silently promise a pleasing and
comforting warmth, though Ranma was feeling hot enough already.
Kodachi closed her eyes, speaking so low that even as close
as they were to each other, Ranma nearly had to strain to hear it.
"Kiss me."
"Kiss you?!" Ranma immediately blurted out, at the same
time trying to keep his hormones from starting a full scale riot. "But,
but... you're engaged!"
"I know," Kodachi told him, breaking off her hug, to stare
down at the ground again, nibbling on her thumb with an expression
of worry. "But even he turns out to be all I could want, is it fair that
I should never know the embrace of another man? Is it fair that
these lips should never kiss any others but his? If I don't have this
small experience, I will forever wonder what I have missed,
regretted the time when I could share this simple pleasure with
another while I still could."
Kodachi looked up at him once again, her eyes hard and
shining with determination. "Yes, I am engaged to be wed to
another, but I am not married yet. Please, Ranma-sama, can you
grant me this one small request?"
*I don't want to do this, I don't want to do this, it's a bad
idea, it's a bad idea...,* ran over and over in Ranma's head, but as he
looked into Kodachi's pleading eyes, his resistance quickly
crumbled. "Umm, okay. I guess it couldn't do any harm."
"Thank you, Ranma-sama," she said to him with a smile,
before closing her eyes and tilting her head to purse her dark red
Ranma found himself paralyzed, unable to move, completely
afraid of what would happen if he kissed her, and also what would
if he didn't. When he was young and tried to kiss girls like his
mother wanted, he always ended up in a lot of pain as a result, but
Kodachi was asking -- almost begging -- him to, and his mother had
always been so insistent that he answer the requests of a lady.
Could he really refuse her?
Indecision ran around in his head like a dog chasing it's tail,
but managed to force it down when he saw the beginnings of a frown
forming on Kodachi's lips. *It's now or never,* he thought as he
leaned forward, closing his eyes.

Kyoko was so shocked with what she was seeing that she
nearly forgot to take the photo. Thankfully, the moment lasted long
enough for her to recover and snap off a few pictures, making sure
that this moment in particular would be recorded for all time. Her
only regret was at her angle she couldn't actually see their lips meet,
but what she had would have to do. She was sure it would be
enough to make Nabiki give up on Ranma forever.

"Your dinner is ready!" shouted a female voice, punctuated
by the loud smack of the door sliding open forcefully, nearly leaping
out of its frame. "Cook made meal extra quick so... Ah! Ranma,
what you doing?!"
Having no other place to go, Ranma instinctively leapt
straight up, grabbing a firm hold of the ceiling as he surveyed the
new interruption, only to find his worse fears realized. Min-Lin --
the golden-haired and green-eyed childhood friend that he had
nearly completely forgotten about until a few days ago -- stood in
the doorway, staring back at him with a stunned expression.
Ranma skillfully flipped from the ceiling, landing in a free
spot in the small room and putting himself between Min-Lin and
Kodachi, though trying to be too obvious about it. He had no idea
how Min-Lin would react to this, but knew that she was a serious
martial artist who could end up hurting the unskilled and demure
Kodachi. He didn't think he could bring himself to actually fight a
girl, but was confident he'd find some way to stop her, even if that
meant taking all of her blows on himself.
He failed to notice Kodachi was using the full force of her
glare on the waitress for her untimely interruption, which was
disappointingly having no effect as the girl was staring at Ranma
and ignoring her completely. Her dreary life of never knowing the
gentle kiss of man would have been at an end if that... bimbo hadn't
barged in.
Setting down the platter quickly, Min-Lin raced over to
properly greet Ranma, only to find her path blocked a girl who was
frowning at her the same way Shampoo did just before she started
yelling at her for some silly thing. Such misunderstandings had
happened to Min-Lin a lot in the Amazon village, and most of them
had involved Shampoo in some way or the other. Explanations
were wasted breath, even for the times when Min-Lin thought she
knew what it was all about. A fight was inevitable.
Ranma blinked to see Kodachi blur to the spot before him,
blocking Min-Lin's advance. He also couldn't help noticing that she
was carrying herself differently now; her frailty replaced with a
surprising strength. Remembering how Nabiki had dealt with the
Karate Queen, Ranma readied himself to save her from getting hurt
since he doubted that similar tactics would work on Min-Lin.
"You have served our meal. I suggest that you leave so we
may dine, alone," Kodachi told the waitress coldly, her arms
crossed. This girl had 'potential opponent' written all over her and
the Black Rose wanted to get her out of the way as soon as possible
so that she and Ranma could pick up where they had left off. She
currently wasn't in the mood to even try to be nice about it either.
"Why girl eating with Ranma?" Min-Lin asked as she inched
forward, trying to side-step the other girl to get to the pig-tailed boy.
"Why is it your business who Ranma-sama dines with?"
Kodachi countered, blocking the girl's obvious ploy.
"Min-Lin Ranma best friend from childhood!" she exclaimed
as if it explained everything.
"No matter what your prior connection to him might have
been, Ranma-sama and I are on a date, which was going very well
until you interrupted."
"Ranma date... you?" Min-Lin asked, pointing from one to
the other while blinking in confusion.
Kodachi fumed. "Are you trying to suggestion that I am
somehow unworthy of his affections? I believe that is up to Ranma-
sama to decide, and not a... trollop such as yourself."
"What you mean 'trollop'?" Min-Lin frown in perplexity,
guessing from the tone that it was meant as an insult, but feeling too
bewildered at the moment to be insulted by it. In the Amazon tribe,
a warrior only asked for a date when he or she wanted to challenge
the other to a fight, and this girl didn't look to be much challenge for
Ranma. Min-Lin had been on many dates in village, but they all
ended very quickly. Many men try to date her, but none of them last
very long.
Kodachi sniffed disdainfully. "It has become clear to me
that a barbarian such as yourself will only understand actions, not
words. I think I shall have to teach you a lesson."
"You challenge me?" Min-Lin asked, relieved. The
Japanese had such strange ways of challenging people, wasting time
talking that can be better used in training or fighting.
Kodachi smiled a cold smile. "Yes, though I think you will
hardly be a challenge for one such as I."
Before Ranma could utter a word of protest over this
upcoming duel, Kodachi turned around to face him, her expression
soft as she smiled demurely up at him. "Can you do me a small
favor, Ranma-sama?" she asked sweetly.
"Um, sure," he agreed, feeling totally off balance at the
"Hold this!" Kodachi roared as she spun around, her kimono
flying up into the air to fall gently into Ranma's arms. The Black
Rose was now dressed in a purple leotard with rose designs,
twirling a long ribbon in one of her free hand. Her other hand
finished tying back her long black hair into a lop-sided ponytail.
With one last tug, she turned back to stare at Min-Lin, her eyes
narrowed. "Ready?"
Min-Lin pulled a long bo staff seemingly out of thin air and
nodded with a serious expression. "I ready."
"The Black Rose will see just how ready you are, little girl!
Ohohohoho!" Kodachi taunted as she sprung into the air, her ribbon
flashing out to rip the bo out of the Amazon's hands, but Min-Lin's
hold was firm. She tried to counter by using this connection to pull
Kodachi to the ground, but the gymnast simply let up some slack and
sailed over her head.
Kodachi launched from the ceiling, aiming for a powerful
kick to Min-Lin's back, but the Amazon spun around quickly and
leapt up and away, to land on the low table, only inches away from
planting her feet in the dinner she had so recently served.
"It seems you have some skill," Kodachi observed as she
caught her breath.
"You not bad either," Min-Lin replied, studying the other girl
carefully for an opening.
"Do you really have to fight?" Ranma asked nervously as he
looked back and forth between the two girls, standing between them
once again. Min-Lin was an old friend even if he wasn't exactly
thrilled with her appearances lately, and this other side of Kodachi
coming out so suddenly was a bit disturbing for him. "Can't we sit
down and talk this out peacefully?"
"Ranma?" both girls asked him simultaneously as the turned
to look in his direction.
"Umm, yeah?" he asked, feeling even more nervous under
their intense stares.
"Don't interfere!" they both shouted and applied both ribbon
and bo to knock him back into the corner, where he sat dazed as
chibi Kodachi's and Min-Lin's circled around his head in cute little
Kodachi and Min-Lin nodded to each other, charging at the
same time with wordless battle cries. A ribbon flashed out to lift
the Black Rose up at the last moment so she could plant her feet in
her opponents face, but the Amazon had dove in order to trip the
other girl so both attacks missed.
Now standing by the table, Kodachi noticed the two meals
lying there, steam rising the still-hot dishes, and began to twirl her
ribbon with a smile. "Here you are, my dear Ranma-sama," she
declared as her ribbon lifted up one of the dishes to send it landing
gently in Ranma's lap, not spilling a single item. "You may dine as
the duel commences. The sweet taste of victory shall be my
*She's not like Asuka at all,* Ranma thought gloomily.
*She's worse.* He wasn't the sort to look a gift horse in the mouth
however, so with a shrug, he began to eat while keeping his eyes on
the two girls. They both looked more than capable of handling
themselves, so he didn't really have any right to interfere. There
was also the fact that they were likely to gang up on him again if he
tried. That didn't mean his disliked their fighting any less though.
"Min-Lin second greatest fighter of her generation in
village!" the blonde girl declared proudly. "Only lose challenge to
two people in whole life; making many, many people challenge me
over and over again. We Amazon very poor losers."
"The same can be said of the House Kuno," Kodachi replied
with a smile as she twirled her ribbon in preparation for another
attack. "But that won't be something you'll have to worry about!"
The ribbon flashed out to snag the tatami mat Min-Lin was
standing on, lifting up into the air, as the Black Rose charged in with
a shoulder block, slamming the mat into the wall. Only then did she
realize her mistake for Min-Lin wasn't behind it as she had planned,
but instead had held onto the ceiling, diving down now with a bo
strike that Kodachi was able to deflect by spinning around quickly,
tatami mat in hand.
The Black Rose then used this as a spring board for a
somersault, twisting in the air to land directly behind Min-Lin, ready
for her next attack. Or she would have been had the Amazon
remained still for those moments, but instead she had rolled to the
ground, putting the tatami mat back in place, and sprung up to face

Kyoko cursed the amazon for her interferance this time,
reflecting that she should have remembered she might be about and
done something earlier to prevent this. While extremely helpful in
disrupting the date with her boss, this was a date that she didn't want
Min-Lin interfering with.
Noticing the way the far wall now had a sizable hole
because of the last assault, and reflecting on what her aunt might do
to her if she damaged her precious camera, Kyoko decided to wait
outside for Ranma, doubting there would be anything worth
recording until the management kicked him out of the place.

Kodachi and Min-Lin stood staring silently at each other,
sizing up their opponent once more as they caught their breath.
Kodachi's usual opponents were so far below her skill in martial
arts that they were hardly a challenge at all, so this was the first time
that she had to fight with such intensity. Most of Min-Lin's usual
challengers were very straight-forward fighters, rarely using any
sort of trickery or deception. She knew now that she would have to
be very alert if she didn't want to lose this match.
"Um, excuse me?" cautiously said a young man on the other
side of the hole that Kodachi's last attack had created. He was
wearing a loose blue kimono and a perplexed expression.
With a smile, the ribbon of the Black Rose flashed out and
wrapped around him, and with a violent tug, sent him flying towards
the Amazon. Little did she know that Min-Lin was used to men
flinging themselves at her. Without turning around, she elbowed him
in the gut, socked him in the face, and sent him flying back into his
room without so much as blinking.
"Great-grandmother train Min-Lin in anti-hentai defense. Is
very useful in and outside Amazon village," she explained as he bo
hooked the table and sent it flying at Kodachi, complete with her
The Black Rose sidestepped the thrown piece of furniture
and managed to rescue her meal with another twirl of her ribbon.
Chopsticks in hand, she sampled the dish with a smile. "Delicious.
Perhaps I will eat after all, once I finished you off that is. Hold this
for me in the meantime, Ranma-sama."
Ranma accepted the dish that Kodachi's ribbon dropped in
his hands, quickly setting his own finished meal aside, and resisted
the temptation to sample it himself.
"Kuno School of Rhythmic Gymnastics Special Attack,
Wheel of Fire!" Kodachi declared as her ribbon snagged a few
candles and began to twirl them in a circle, faster and faster, until it
was a circle of fire that closed in on Min-Lin.
"Just what's going on here!?" yelled a woman who stepped
out of the same hole that the man earlier had emerged from. Her
kimono also seemed to have been hastily adorned.
Min-Lin ignored the angry lady behind her as she snagged
the teapot around in an arc in an effort to douse the fire, but the
Black Rose merely spun out of its path, laughing all the time, and the
now luke warm tea ended up splashing the irate woman in the face.
"Me turn," Min-Lin announced with a smile. "Amazon
special technique, whirlwind strike!" She slowly began to turn her
bo in her hands, it's speed increasing exponentially with each
revolution, until it was no more than a blur, sending forth a gust of
wind like an industrial fan.
Kodachi and Min-Lin began to slowly circle each other,
weapons of heat and cold coming closer and closer, each looking
for a moment to strike.
The woman was currently glaring at the both of them, wiping
the last of the tea from her face with her kimono. Tugging her belt
tightly, she set her features and marched towards them. Her timing
wasn't the best as the two opponents chose that time to charge,
placing her just between them as they closed in. Burned on one
side, frozen on the other, she marched back to her room and tugged
on the bell rope until it broke off in her hand.

Kodachi and Min-Lin both looked ready fight on, but the
shouts and complaints of the fellow patrons and employees of the
Jade Blossom were becoming too distracting, not to mention
cluttering up the battlefield.
Ranma surveyed the path of destruction somberly; wrecked
walls, broken furniture, and spilled meals making it look like two
miniature typhoons had hit the place. He couldn't help wondering if
somehow he'd get blamed for all this.
"It seems that we shall have to continue this another time,"
Kodachi announced to her opponent as she put away her ribbon.
Min-Lin nodded and with a flick of the wrist, her bo
vanished. "Me not go so easy on you next time, rose-girl."
"Until we meet again, bimbo," Kodachi replied, though there
was a note of respect in the final word. "Come along, Ranma-
Ranma stared back at her, weighing the whole situation in
his mind before very hesitantly, he followed. After what he had just
seen, the last thing he wanted to do was continue this date any
longer, but now he had to worry about not only his mother's wrath
but his date's as well.
The night air was cool on Kodachi's skin as the warmth of
combat began to wear off. Taking her kimono back from Ranma's
hands, she couldn't help noticing, with a surprisingly sharp stab of
sadness, the way he pulled away from her, as if she were some sort
of wild animal. The fear in his eyes was normally a sight that filled
her with joy to cause in others, but this instance brought her only
With a twirl of black cloth, she was once again formally
dressed, and proceeded slowly in the direction of their next
destination. Ranma was to her right and just behind, close enough to
make it obvious they were together, but well out of easy touching
Kodachi frowned to see how much of a setback her little
tussle with Min-Lin had caused. She had been moments away from
her first kiss, but now he was acting as if he were scared to death of
her. She wondered what force was keeping him from abandoning
her altogether, but was certain that whatever it was, it had little to
do with her charms.
"Ranma-sama?" she said suddenly after they had been
walking for a few minutes, breaking the heavy silence between
"Um, yeah?" he replied nervously.
"Did you have any pets when you were younger?"
No longer hearing the sound of Ranma's footsteps, Kodachi
stopped as well, but remained turned away from him, staring down
the long sidewalk, their eventual destination still no more than a
collection of light.
"Not really," Ranma finally answered after a minute or so
had passed. "My mom didn't have time to take care of Hitomi and a
pet at the same time so she wouldn't let me get one. I did find a
wounded animal and nursed it back to health in secret once, but that
was only for about a week. For some reason I can't remember what
kind of animal it was..."
"The thing I wanted most in the whole world when I was
younger was a little green turtle," Kodachi said with a smile as she
finally turned around to face him, her voice tinged with a child-like
glee. "After seeing them at an aquarium during a school trip, how
they swam around in their little pool with a comic sort of grace, I
just had to have one for my very own. So I asked my father to get
me one, but he was... becoming strange and distant, and no longer
the man I had once thought of as the most important person in the
Kodachi turned away from Ranma once again, staring up at
the moon far overhead she spoke in a soft voice, not even noticing
when the pig-tailed boy took a step closer to her to listen.
"As far back as I can remember, I had always been afraid of
my mother. I can't really explain why, she was never anything but
kind and generous to me; still there was something that chilled me
just being in her presence. However, I wanted a little green turtle
so badly that I gathered up all my small bits of courage and asked
her if I could please have one.
"My mother agreed to it easily -- too easily I can only
realize now -- but being the naive child I was, I happily waited for a
little green turtle of my very own to arrive. However, children are
never patient and I was worst than most. So on the next day I asked
my mother where my turtle was. She told me that it took time to buy
a turtle. This I accepted with a tiny nod and waited until the next
day, asking her once again, and with what I thought was a subtle
way of pointing out that a pet store not far from our house had little
turtles on sale. She simply replied with a smile that only a very
special turtle will do for her daughter.
"So the ritual was repeated day after day until at the end of
the week there was a new fixture in my mother's office: a large fish
tank. And swimming around within was something which she
claimed to be a turtle. 'But momma, it doesn't have a shell,' I
pointed out. 'This is a special, shelless turtle,' she explained with a
smile. Though I would have preferred one with a shell, I kept my
silence and happily accepted my new pet, who I dubbed with
childish creativity, Mr. Green Turtle.
"The tank was moved into my room and I was careful to feed
my new pet every day as my mother instructed me to, though I still
thought it was odd for a turtle to be eating so much. Most of my free
time was spent in play with my new pet, which I liked particularly
because we could play on land or in the water, so he could even
come with me on baths. He did have a nasty habit of trying to take
my brother's fingers off whenever he got too close, but this was
because, as my mother patiently informed me, he was a snapping
"My new little pet was just as fun as I imagined he would
be, and I started to shake off feelings of dread at my mother's
presence, thinking how much she had to loved me to get me this
special, shelless turtle. My favorite game quickly became defending
him from my brother who often tried to smite him with bandaged
fingers, claiming he was a demon from Hades sent to interfere with
his kendo practice."
Kodachi laughed lightly with this last admission, softly and
without the wicked tone of her laughter earlier that night. It was a
surprisingly pleasant sound to Ranma's ears.
"Even though my mother had expressly forbidden me to, I
brought Mr. Green Turtle into school one day, to show the class my
amazing pet, and make them all green with envy. They were awed
by my special, shelless turtle, at least until our teacher, somewhat
fearfully, pointed out that what I had thought of as a turtle for weeks
now was in fact an alligator.
"I can still remember running home in tears from the taunts
and jeers of the other girls as I held my pet to my chest, loudly
denying that he was anything but the little green turtle that I had
always wanted.
"Returning home, I ran into my father, who was dressed so
strangely that I hardly even recognized him. 'Hey, kekki, whatsa
matter?' he said to me with such an odd accent, hardly the gentle
voice I remembered, that I stopped crying in surprise. 'Dat some
alligator you got dere, kekki,' he told me, patting my pet on the head.
'It's not an alligator, it's a turtle!' I shouted back at him, fuming in
"My father went into our library and returned with two
volumes, opening one to turtles and the other to alligators. Laying
them both side by side and gently taking my pet to put him down
between them, he asked, 'Now which picture you think he look more
like, kekki?'"
"I studied the pictures and my pet for minutes without making
a sound, hardly even breathing. I had noticed what my father meant
immediately, but didn't want it to be true so much that I kept
checking and rechecking, hoping that in the next glance, my pet
would suddenly resemble the picture of the turtle and not the
"My arms shaking, I very slowly picked up my precious pet
and stared him right in the eyes. 'You are... an alligator.' Mr. Green
Turtle only stared back at me curiously as my father nodded to
himself and put the encyclopedia volumes away. With a nod of my
own, I set out to confront my mother.
"She was in her office as usual, filling out forms I had no
understanding of. So deeply she was into her work that she didn't
notice me enter until I slammed the door closed. 'Do do want
something, Dachi?' she asked me with a smile. I placed my pet on
her desk, another thing she had told me never to do, and was
rewarded with a slight frown. 'He is an alligator,' I told her slowly,
barely keeping myself from yelling.
"My mother only smiled and said, 'No, Dachi, he's a turtle,
just like you wanted.' 'He's an alligator!' I yelled at her, stomping
my feet. She only continued to smile. 'No, he's a turtle that just
happens to look like an alligator.' 'The teacher at school says he's an
alligator,' I pointed out when my short-lived tantrum obviously had
no effect. 'I would hardly consider Ms. Yokonaka a zoologist,
Dachi. She just made a mistake.' 'Dad says he's an alligator too!' I
shouted again as tears began to gather in my eyes once again. 'Your
father... hasn't been well lately,' she told me as a pained look
crossed her face.
"That was the last straw for me. I snatched up my pet,
screamed at her, 'This is all your fault! I hate you!' before storming
out of her office, slamming the door shut behind me. I ran into my
room and jumped onto my bed, holding Mr. Green Turtle tightly to
my chest as I cried and cried."
Kodachi's voice faded away into nothing as she stared up at
the moon, a slight, mocking sort of smile on her face. Ranma stood
only inches away from her now, feeling stunned by this sudden and
obviously personal admission. The silence seemed to grow heavy
on him, until after a few moments he asked softly so that it could be
ignored if considered offensive, "So then what happened?"
Kodachi turned around to face him, her mocking smile
turning into a genuine one. "Well, after a few minutes I had cried all
I possibly could, so I wiped the remaining tears away and stared at
my pet, wondering just what I should do now. Just then my brother
burst into my room and shouted, 'Foul fiend! For gnawing on my
favorite bokken, I shall smite thee!' And before I knew it, I was
laughing as I ran away from my furious brother, protecting my
precious pet from his wrath because in the end it didn't matter to me
whether he was a turtle or an alligator. I loved him just the same."
Ranma stared at her for a few moments, struggling to find
something, anything to say to her after that. "Um, so do you still
have him? Mr. Green Turtle, I mean."
"Oh, yes, though soon after that I had have a pond built for
him since he had outgrown his little tank. I think even my mother is
surprised by how well he's grown in his own little environment, but
he only really causes trouble for strangers who are foolish enough to
bother him. My brother learned his lesson and stays well clear."
Kodachi and Ranma both laughed a bit at the idea that there
could be something even Kuno could be afraid of, not that he was
likely to admit it.
"Thank you for a splendid evening, Ranma-sama," Kodachi
said suddenly, bowing to him and then turning to walk away.
"Wait, where are you going?" Ranma asked her in confusion.
"I though our parents still had stuff for us to do yet."
"Yes, I can leave all the information they provided me with
you, if you wish, because I know after the little... incident in the
restaurant, you have not further desire to remain in my company.
Don't worry, I'm sure to give you a glowing review to our parents."
Ranma instinctively reached out to take hold of her hand and
keep her from leaving. Realizing what he had just did, he blushed,
but didn't let go. "What was the next thing on their list?"
"Ballroom dancing," she told him, not turning around, but not
trying to escape him either.
"I am a master of ballroom dancing," Ranma told her smugly,
not mention that it was martial arts ballroom dancing he was a
master of. "But I'll need a partner for that. So... may I have this
Kodachi pirouetted, bringing their faces very close, a light
blush on her cheeks as her eyes shone. "You may," she replied with
a demure smile.

"Geez, what a romantic mood," Kyoko muttered to herself as
she stared at the pair looking into each other's eyes, while she
snapped off a few more pictures and made to follow, changing the
roll on the way. There was still a few pictures left on the current
one, but she had a feeling she might not get the chance to change it

Asuka Saginomiya was the very image of elegance and grace
with her long golden hair and white ball gown that appeared to be
more carefully sculpted than sown. For what her parents had paid
for it, a sculpture may have been cheaper.
She sat primly in a chair as she stared at the ballroom's other
occupants, most of them dancing to the slow music that wafted in
from the stage, their moves all imperfect to her close scrutiny, like
pieces of clockwork assembled by an apprentice watchmaker who
still had much to learn about his craft.
Outside observers might have guessed her to be patiently
awaiting the return of her date, who was cleaning himself up after
she had 'accidentally' spilled a bit of punch on him. In reality, she
was trying to come up with a way to end this date as soon as
possible that was proper for one of her social standing.
Other girls would have surely been shocked to know this for
Asuka's date had caught the eye of every female in the room with his
incredible good looks. There was muttered speculation as to
whether he was an idol, model, or TV star. Which was the very
reason that Asuka had selected him as her current boyfriend.
Asuka of the White Lily, as she sometimes called herself,
hated one thing in the world beyond all else: to lose. She had
striven to be the best in every possible way, and normally
succeeded far beyond her peers in such things as education, culture,
and even the arts; excelling to the point that most were awed, or
envious, of her abilities.
There was one incident, however, that had been burned into
her brain, tasking her ever since. It was her first year of traditional
education -- having been educated by tutors nearly since birth --
when she was to meet the girl who would become the great rival of
her life: Kodachi Kuno.
Asuka well knew from the beginning of school that the Kuno
girl was her only true opponent. While it was a private school
filled with the children of some of the wealthiest people in Japan,
none of the others came close to the refined plane which she and
Kodachi occupied.
The other girl must have sensed this as well -- that Asuka
was as much as a threat to her as she was to Asuka -- because their
first unspoken competition was in spelling out their names and
introducing themselves to the class. From there on, school had
become a battle for the two girls.
Asuka was shocked to find that they were evenly matched.
In every struggle, every act of competition, they always came out
even. That was until the boys got involved.
Both Asuka and Kodachi had made a great impression on the
rest of class, especially twin boys named A-kun and B-kun. A-kun
obeyed Kodachi's slightest whim while B-kun worshipped the
ground that Asuka walked on.
Asuka didn't think much of B-kun, he was just simply
someone who performed tasks normally reserved for servants. That
was until Kodachi suddenly declared that her A-kun was much more
handsome that Asuka's B-kun. Asuka rose to the challenge, stating
that it was obvious that B-kun was the more perfect one.
Asuka knew full well that the twins were completely
identical and if they hadn't dressed differently she would have never
been able to tell them apart. So the only way to make one more
handsome than the other was to make the other ugly. Kodachi was
also well aware of this and soon it was a battle between them to see
who could deface the other's boy the most.
Unlike all their competitions before, in the end Kodachi had
been the clear winner as A-kun remained conscious. Asuka had
yelled to the heavens that she would return to school tomorrow and
soundly defeat her rival, proving herself to be the better girl, and
left school early, just able to hide her tears of shame.
Unfortunately, Asuka's parents had a surprise waiting for her
when she returned home. They had found just the perfect mansion to
replace their current cramped home, located on the other side of
Japan. Asuka raged against this sudden injustice, but it was all for
naught. In the end, her challenge remained unfulfilled.
Asuka, however, hadn't forgotten about this loss and had
devoted most of her time to finding the most perfect boyfriend which
she could display before her old rival in triumph. There had been
many failures over the years, some coming close, especially one
which she normally avoided thinking about. Her current choice had
the looks all right -- he was quite possibly the most handsome man
she had ever seen -- only marred by a small scar on his right cheek
which was only noticeable from close up.
*He may be gorgeous,* Asuka thought with a small sigh,
*But he's really dreadfully boring.* The only two things he held any
interest in were martial arts and ballroom dancing, so she had
thought if she took him out to dance, his company wouldn't be so
tedious. However, it was a bit hard for her to tell what a perfect
dancer he was when she was practically falling asleep in his arms.
Asuka stifled a yawn as she stood, thinking a breath of cool
night air might brace her enough to endure the rest of the evening,
while also avoiding her date for a few moments longer.

The man that greeted Ranma and Kodachi at the next place
on their parent's agenda was significantly larger than the matre'd of
the Jade Blossom, and all of it muscle. Ranma immediately sized
him up as a brawler with little in the way of real martial arts skill
and consequently someone he could take on without much problem,
though hoped he wouldn't have to.
"This is an exclusive club," the man stated as he eyed Ranma
a bit distastefully. "Members only."
"Of course," Kodachi replied, laughing lightly as she
presented him with two white cards. "These are our reservations."
After reading from the reservations, the man's whole attitude
changed as he bowed to the both of them and permitted them to
enter. Ranma breathed a sigh of relief as a fight was avoided
The room they entered gleamed with polished marble; from
the floor, the columns that lined the walls, and the sculptures of
elegant dancers frozen in place that occupied little niches along the
walls. The walls themselves were painted a pale yellow and rose
high to the glass-domed ceiling above their heads, beyond which
only the brightest stars could be seen.
The pig-tailed boy looked over the foyer in awe, never
having been in a place as fancy as this, while Kodachi giggled a bit
at his reaction. She supposed it was impressive to someone who
wasn't used to it, but the Black Rose had been in places far more
Glancing over a few of the women dressed in their elegant
gowns, Kodachi told Ranma, "I must change into my own dress
now, Ranma-sama. Please wait for me here, I shall only be a
Ranma nodded absently and found a safe place to rest
against one of the walls, trying to avoid the eyes of the others in the
room. Thankfully, there were only a few other people there, but it
seemed that all of them stared at him oddly, like he was something
out of place even though his tux matched what some of the other men
were wearing.
Hearing the slow strains of music drifting in from the
ballroom, Ranma couldn't help thinking of a challenger from a month
ago: Takuya Kitahayashi, self-proclaimed master of Martial Arts
Ballroom Dancing.
Ranma had just been out walking around when he
accidentally stepped on the guy's toes and the pig-tailed boy found
himself challenged to a match. At the time, Ranma had no idea what
martial arts ballroom dancing could be, so he did his best to learn
how to dance and would just meld his own martial art into it.
Unfortunately, he had needed a dance partner and that had caused a
whole host of other problems that he definitely didn't want to think
It hadn't been the oddest match Ranma had ever had, but it
came close. Though in the end, he had won and Takuya had
slumped away in defeat, never to be seen again.

Asuka stepped into the foyer and made for the door when
something out of the corner of her eye stopped her. She turned
slowly and found herself blinking several times in surprise to find a
familiar boy there, who failed to notice her because he was
currently staring up at the ceiling.
With a smile that was threatening to bloom into a grin, Asuka
the White Lily approached her first true love.

Kyoko nearly choked in surprise when she saw a new girl
approaching Ranma. There was no way she could sneak into this
place dressed as she was, but thankfully it had large windows to
peer into, surrounded by shrubbery which provided excellent cover.
*What is it about him?* Kyoko wondered idly as she
snapped off a few pictures of Ranma's new conquest. Then she
shrugged; whatever it was, it was sure to make her boss dump him.

"Ranma-san, what a great pleasure it is to see you again,"
Asuka told him, now standing only inches away while he still stared
up at the ceiling, not acknowledging her presence. "Surely the stars
themselves have guided you back to me."
Ranma very slowly turned his head, not wanting to look, but
knowing he really didn't have a choice. "Asuka?!"
"It is I, my love," she told him with a small curtsy. "How it
fills my heart nearly to bursting to hear you speak my name with
such emotion."
*This is bad, very bad,* Ranma thought with a sinking
feeling as he glanced around for anything to help him out of his
current predicament. Kodachi would return soon and the last thing
he wanted was a repeat of what had happened with Min-Lin.
"So... what are you doing here?" he asked nervously, hoping
for some clue of getting away from her.
"Unfortunately, I have been forced to go on a date with the
most dreadful boy," she told him with a frown, but then she suddenly
brightened with a smile. "But now that you are here, my dear
Ranma-san, you can drive the scoundrel away and we can spend the
evening in each other's arms."
Asuka grabbed his arm and pulled him towards the ballroom
proper with a surprising strength, while Ranma did his best to resist
without giving offense. That was when both of them heard a woman
say, "Ranma-sama?"
"I know that voice," Asuka muttered to herself bitterly.
"Even after a decade, I still haven't forgotten its horrible sound."
Asuka of the White Lily released Ranma and strode right up
to woman who was making her way down the stairs, her life-long
rival, Kodachi Kuno.
"So we meet again, Kodachi-chan," Asuka said with
narrowed eyes, her voice friendly but with an obvious edge to it.
Kodachi blinked. "Is that you, Asuka-chan? It's been so
long that I hardly remember you. You certainly look... older. What
event has caused this happy reunion?"
"I've just been reunited with my one true love," Asuka
confessed as she grabbed a firm hold of Ranma's left arm before he
could escape, leaning her head on his shoulder. Her eyes never left
Kodachi, however, as she smiled at her rival in a challenging sort of
"There must be some mistake. Ranma-sama is my escort for
the evening," Kodachi countered as she grabbed a firm hold of
Ranma's right arm, still staring at Asuka.
"I agree that there is a mistake, but it seems to lie with you,
Kodachi-chan. Ranma-san and I are destined to be together!
Ohohohoho!" Asuka declared as she tugged Ranma closer to her,
pressing his arm into the softness of her white dress.
"You must have Ranma-sama confused with someone else,
Asuka-chan. He and I have been having a splendid evening
together. In fact, we have... but a lady never tells! Ohohohohoho!"
Kodachi replied, pulling on Ranma's other arm and drawing him
closer to her, leaning forward so that her black dress rubbed against
his side.
Their conversation went right over Ranma's head, mainly
because he was currently trying not to think about their closeness
while at the same time avoiding being pulled in two like a
wishbone. Why was he forever cursed to be a magnet for violent
girls? "Maybe we should discuss this over tea or something," he
pleaded to the both of them.
Asuka and Kodachi didn't seem to hear his words; their eyes
were locked on each other as they tried to wrest Ranma from the
other. "You're no longer the weak little girl I knew, Asuka-chan."
"Thank you for noticing, Kodachi-chan. The memory of you
cruelly bullying me was a wonderful motivator."
"And the memory of you smearing jam all over the teacher's
desk and blaming it on me was a marvelous incentive for me to
grow more cautious, however... Ranma-sama is still mine!" *tug*
"Mine!" *pull*
"Mine!" *yank*

Kyoko giggled to herself as she snapped off photos of the
impromptu tug of war over Ranma, relishing how much his own
playboy ways were currently making him suffer. Of course, she
made sure to take pictures that didn't show how much he was
obviously in pain at the moment. He didn't deserve a shred of
sympathy from Nabiki.

"Saginomiya-san, there you are... What are you doing?"
"Oh nothing, Kitahayashi-san," Asuka explained quickly to
her date who had just entered the foyer, staring at her in confusion.
She did not relinquish her hold on Ranma, however. "Just renewing
an acquaintance with an old friend. Why don't you go back into the
ballroom and wait for me? I should be along shortly."
"No, no, you really shouldn't keep your date waiting, Asuka-
chan," Kodachi told her with a smirk as with one last tug, she freed
Ranma of her old rival's hold and right into her own arms, cradling
him protectively. "We can renew our... friendship at some later
date. Ranma and I came here to dance after all, and I wouldn't want
to disappoint him."
"Ranma?" Asuka's date asked as his eyes narrowed, absently
rubbing at his cheek. "Is that you, Ranma Saotome?"
Ranma sometimes wondered about reincarnation,
specifically what sort of horrible person he'd been in a past life to
have earned such bad karma in this one. Now however wasn't the
time for such philosophy. "Yeah, it's me. Takuya, right? No hard
feelings about losing, right? I mean, I beat you fair and square."
"I'm not so petty that I would seek revenge over a loss that
was my fault for being overconfident," Takuya explained, but before
Ranma could breathe a sigh of relief, added, "However, for this
hideous defacement that you cruelly marked me with, I shall see you
laid low this very night!"
Ranma blinked and peered closely at him. "Huh? What are
you talking about?"
"This, this!" Takuya raged while pointing to the small mark
on his cheek. "My face was perfect, without a single blemish or
other mark to mar it, until you did this to it!"
Ranma examined the spot indicated from only inches away
for a few minutes, before finally shaking his head. "I still can't see
"I must admit that he is... handsome, Asuka-chan," Kodachi
said in aside to her old rival, though loud enough that the whole
room could easily hear her. "But couldn't you have done something
about his personality? Throwing a tantrum like a spoiled child is
so... uncivilized."
"You're lucky, Kodachi-chan, you didn't have to watch him
eat," Asuka replied at a stage whisper.
"No manners? I suspected as much. Surprised he managed
to keep his tuxedo clean."
"He wore a bib through the whole meal. I doubt I'll ever be
able to eat there again after the way everyone was looking at us. My
horse eats with more dignity."
Takyuka staggered with each blow to his pride. He yelled at
Ranma, "Now you further insult me by not taking responsibility for
the grave injustice you have done me. There is no option left but to
settle this like men, with a match of Martial Arts Ballroom
Ranma glanced quickly at the two girls who were idly
discussing his opponent's flaws, and began to feel a bit self-
conscious about his own. He was vaguely aware that he didn't have
much in the way of table manners, but his mom had never been
concerned with it, thinking that a good appetite was manly. There
was also the fact that the last thing he wanted was their little tug of
war to start up again.
"Very well, as I martial artist, I have no choice but to accept
your challenge," Ranma replied, hoping that he could use this match
as an excuse to wrap this date up as soon a possible. Kodachi
was... okay he supposed, though the way she could change moods in
an instant frightened him a bit. He wouldn't have minded seeing the
date out to it's natural conclusion if Asuka hadn't shown up.
Kodachi stepped forward, slipping her arm around Ranma's
elbow, no longer tugging at him, but it was still a firm grip. "Then I
shall be Ranma-sama's dance partner for the challenge. We did
come here to dance together after all."
"No, it is I who should be Ranma-san's dance partner,"
Asuka countered as she slipped her arm around the pig-tailed boy's
other elbow. "Finally being reunited after years apart, it would be
too cruel to separate us now."
"But Kitahayashi-san is your date," Kodachi pointed out
with a smug grin. "It's only right that you be his dance partner."
"But I've already danced with him tonight," Asuka countered.
"You should be the one who joins him."
"I'm closer to Ranma-sama's height."
"Ranma-san's and my outfits match better."
Takuya coughed noisily, finally getting their attention, along
with everyone else in the room. "I don't much care who dances with
who. I am only seeking revenge against Saotome for my scarring.
This is a duel between men! Anything else is unimportant."
Ranma might had immediately agreed with him if there
weren't two strong ladies currently tugging him in opposite
directions. He turned to face the blonde girl to his left and told her,
"Asuka-san, I'm sure you'd make a great dance partner and all, but I
did come here with Kodachi. Sorry." Though the truth of the matter
was that he considered each girl carefully and decided that at the
moment, Kodachi scared him less Asuka did.
Asuka bowed her head, letting go of his arm as she moved to
stand next to Takuya. "Ranma-san, you are so noble to remain loyal
to her, despite her obvious failings, that I can do nothing but abide
by your request and let Kodachi have the first dance."
"Um, that's very kind of you," Ranma replied to her, then
spoke to Takuya. "Let's get his match started then."
Kodachi rested her head on Ranma's shoulder with a smile
as he lead her into the ballroom, but kept her eyes on Asuka walking
just before her. Her date may have been fooled, but the Asuka she
had known would never given up so easily, and from what she could
tell, her old 'friend' had only become more devious as she had
grown older. The Black Rose was sure the White Lily had
something up her volumeous sleeve.

Kyoko ran to her a new hiding place that gave her full view
of the ballroom, eager to capture more of Ranma's womanizing, and
perhaps watch him be taken down a notch or two, though she thought
it a bit too much to hope for.

The floor had been cleared of dancers once the challenge
had been announced, and things were very quickly set up for the
match. Takuya had made sure that nothing breakable was near at
hand while rubbing his cheek with a frown.
The two challengers occupied opposite sides of the dance
floor, their partners at their sides. In the center of the room stood
the owner; a small elegant man with a surprisingly powerful voice
that echoed around the room when he spoke.
"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a rare treat in store for us
tonight; a double grudge match of martial arts ballroom dancing. To
my left, we have Takuya Kitahayashi and Asuka Saginomiya as the
Takuya bowed curtly to the sudden cheers of the impromptu
audience, while Asuka responded with a dainty curtsy.
"And to my right," the owner continued, "Ranma Saotome
and Kodachi Kuno as the Black Roses!"
Ranma blinked a bit when he heard his team name. "Err,
could you have picked something... a little less feminine?" he asked,
finding being called some flower more than a bit embarrassing.
"But a rose is a symbol of love, Ranma-sama," she told him
with a smile, still clinging to his arm.
Ranma sighed a bit and hoped that the match would be over
quickly, thinking fondly of his bed and the comfort of sleep.
The owner explained, "The men are fighting over an injury
sustained in a previous match, their honor as gentlemen on the line,
while the ladies are fighting for the heart of the same man, none
other than Ranma Saotome, one of our fighters. To one, he is a
childhood sweetheart, to the other a recent but heartfelt amour. It is
truly tragic that love would pit two best friends against each other,
but it should make for a very interesting match!"
His deep sense of honor and overwhelming pride were the
only things that were keeping Ranma from bolting at the moment,
and they were barely keeping him in check. He could feel every eye
of the room on him, as the people gossiped in voices just high
enough that he could occasionally pick out words, which tended to
be some rather frank speculation on himself and his past relations to
Kodachi and Asuka.
Kodachi and Asuka communicated wordlessly. With a
glance, Kodachi told her old rival that seemed to already have the
prize. With a smile, Asuka replied, "For now."
With a wave of the owner's hand in the direction of the band,
the music began to start up again, only faint at first but slowly
building in volume.
"The match is over when one challenger surrenders or
suffers a knock out. Leaving the dance floor is not permitted and a
challenger that does so is considered to have forfeited. Direct
attacks are also not permitted, the opponents must use their partners
as weapons. Is this understood?"
Takuya nodded immediately, they were standard rules for
his Art. Ranma nodded right after, eager to get his over with.
Besides, he had beaten him before, he could do it again. Once the
two girls had nodded, the owner nodded him himself and stepped
off of the dance floor.
"Then let the match begin!"
A waltz began to play. Ranma took Kodachi's hands and did
his best to dance in time. "This probably isn't what our parents had
in mind when they sent us out to dance," he told her somewhat
"No, this is much more fun! Ohohoho!" the Black Rose
laughed as she swung the pig-tailed boy bodily at the rival couple,
who slid out of his way without missing a step.
"Such viciousness... she claims to have feelings for him, but
doesn't hesitate to use him as a weapon," Takuya muttered to himself
as he looked back at Kodachi.
"And I have no feelings for you!" Asuka replied as she
twirled him quickly and used the force of the spin to hurl him
towards the dancing couple.
Kodachi reluctantly looked away from Ranma's eyes, only to
come face to face with Takuya. She had to grab hold of him just to
avoid them both getting dumped to the ground.
"I think he suits you much better, Kodachi-chan! Ohohoho!"
Asuka commented as she glided by with a dazed Ranma in her arms.
Ranma readied himself for his first attack, only to blink as he
found Kodachi gone and Asuka in her place. "Um, what just
"We switched partners, Ranma-san," Asuka explained with a
smile, "Kodachi and Tokuya, both being 2nd rate at best, are really
more suited for each other. While it is clear to anyone that we make
perfect dance partners… and other kinds of partners as well."
Kodachi glared at her old rival and drop-kicked Tokuya in
the stomach hard, sending him on a collision course with the back of
Asuka's head. Sensing danger, the White Lily tried to turn out of the
way in time, but the Tokuya-projectile still caught her in the side,
sending her spinning like a top to the other side of the dance floor.
Kodachi gently swayed over to Ranma and set his hands on
her hip and shoulder. "Are you all right, Ranma-sama? That Asuka
is so underhanded, she's likely to try anything. You best hold onto
me tightly from now on."
"Tightly?" Ranma repeated nervously.
"Oh, yes," Kodachi replied as she leaned closer, drawing
him near. "Hold me close and don't ever let me go."
The Black Rose leaned in for another kiss, only to find her
legs knocked out from under her by Takuya's head, landing on his
back and knocked the breath out of him. From this undignified
position, she watched Asuka snatch up her date once again.
"Kodachi-san, you are so... ruthless. I'm sure that if we
worked together, we could easily win this match," Takuya muttered
from somewhere underneath her.
The Black Rose failed to hear his words, concentrating only
on the mocking face of Asuka and she stood and pulled out her
% "Once again we are reunited. Such is fate," Asuka told
Ranma with a sigh as she leaned her head on his shoulder.
"But we're not dance partners in this. Neither of us can win
the match this way."
Asuka laughed lightly as she used their dancing to draw
closer and closer too him. "Who cares about the silly match... I've
got everything I want right here--urk!"
Ranma blinked in surprise when Takuya was suddenly
dumped right on top of Asuka, flattening them both to the floor. He
bent down to check if they were both all right -- and also if he had
already won the match without launching a single attack -- when
something wrapped around his waist and tugged him sharply away,
spinning him around and right into Kodachi's waiting arms.
"Again I have rescued you from the clutches of that wicked,
wicked girl. Even I am shocked at how... unprincipled she has
"But how is what you're doing any different?" Ranma asked
as he automatically waltzed with the Black Rose, not thinking about
what his body was doing but rather just letting it happen.
Kodachi's expression flickered, but only for an instant, as
her smile returned in full force. "Because she is fighting over petty
jealousy while I am fighting for love! And one must be willing to
anything for love, even if it means going against everything one
believes in! If a person isn't willing to sacrifice everything for it,
then their love can not be true!"
Ranma took a step back from Kodachi as she stood fist
upraised while she shed noble tears, all to the audience's polite
applause. The pig-tailed boy checked for exits, but depressingly
finding that only the high windows weren't blocked by the crowd.
He's been in situations before when girls had declared their
undying love for him in a similarly dramatic fashion and knew from
experience that the only positive thing he could do now was escape.
To him love like that wasn't real love, it was an unhealthy obsession
that always caused problems for him. Worse when he thought of
what his mom would do to him after she heard about this. Being
manly was one thing, stealing the fiancee of another guy was
Before Ranma could do anything, however, Asuka strode
over, glaring at the Black Rose as she dragged her dance partner
behind her, much to his protests of being able to walk himself.
Dropping him to the floor, she slowly slipped off one of her long
white gloves and struck Kodachi across the face with it.
"How dare you say such things when it is I who is fighting
for love?!" Asuka declared with a finger pointed accusingly at the
Black Rose, who are currently nursing her now-bruised cheek. "I
had been holding back before due to the memory of our sweet
childhood friendship, but no longer! Now you shall taste the full
wrath of Asuka the White Lily!"
"Very well, I will stop holding back as well, and you will
soon learn why many fear the name Kodachi the Black Rose!"
The two woman dragged their respective dance partners to
the opposite ends of the dance floor, who were both too stunned at
the moment to do much of anything.
The owner took this as his cue as he signaled for the band to
change songs, playing a faint but more intense melody now, as he
strode back onto the floor.
"Ladies and gentleman, it seems that our polite little match
has escalated to another level entirely as out two female competitors
have declared that nothing, not even rules that I might attempt to
impose, will stop them from wresting the hand of the man they love
from the arms of the other."
The man nodded to Kodachi and Asuka in turn before
continuing. "Far be it for me to get in the way of these two
determined women. Therefore, the match will resume shortly with
this addendum; no restrictions will be imposed upon the
challengers, and any act taken by them in pursuit of their goals is
considered fair play! Furthermore, the match will only be
considered ended when one of the ladies had surrendered or
rendered unconscious! Even if both of the men are unable to fight,
the challenge will still continue!"
Both Ranma and Takuya blinked at the owner in surprise,
both feeling a large blow to their pride in being told that they were
unimportant to this match. Their eyes met and they both nodded,
approaching the owner with determined looks.
The ladies meanwhile appeared as if they were patiently
waiting for the match to resume, but in actuality they were plotting
out their feints and counters while they occasionally threw the other
veiled looks.
"Um, a slight correction to what I said earlier," the owner
continued on a bit nervously as the two martial artists finished
'explaining' things to him and walked away. "We now have two
separate matches going on instead of one, so it should be double the
excitement and thrills for all! The same rules that apply to the
ladies also apply to the men, meaning this is going to be a no holds
barred match to see who is the best martial artist to dance to a tune!
"And not just their honor on the line this time either! Ranma
demands that this be the fight to end all fights and there will be no
rematches for whatever reason, while Tokuya is fighting for the right
to ask the lovely Kodachi out of a date!"
The crowd murmured their approval. They were getting far
more entertainment that night then they could have ever hoped for.
"How could you promise such a thing to that dreadful man,
Ranma-sama?" Kodachi pleaded once her dance partner had
returned. "He looks so crude and untrustworthy. How will I ever
be able to protect myself from the likes of him?"
Ranma was wishing that Kodachi would just drop the act. It
was obvious that she was more than capable of defending herself,
especially from a guy she had already used as a human cannonball
several times already.
"I didn't promise him anything. That's what he insisted on
and I didn't get to say anything about it. Even if I lost, you can just
turn him down. Not that that really matters, no way am I going to
loose to a guy like him, especially when anything goes," Ranma told
her with a confident grin as he did a few practice kicks and punches.
The whole night had been so confusing for him that it was a great
relief to now be doing something that he understood well.
"Oh, but I am sure that wicked girl Asuka will do her best to
make sure he wins so that I am forced to be in his company. With
the very honor of my dearest Ranma-sama at stake, there is no way I
could refuse him!"