* Disclaimer *

Takahashi Rumiko created Ranma 1/2 and all of the characters and situations found therein. I have no rights to them whatsoever, and hope that she and anyone to whom they have been properly licenced do not sue me.

William Shakespeare has been credited with the creation of Much Ado About Nothing, but regardless of whoever actually wrote it, I don't think I'm in danger of being sued for misusing it. My apologies nonetheless to the Bard.

Nabiki chuckled with glee. Her Literature final project was a doozy--a complete film, properly edited, based on one of William Shakespeare's plays. She'd made a further side bet, with an undergrad, that she could do it in under one hundred thousand yen.

To be sure, that wager might yet come back to bite her in the wallet. But so far, so good. Some of the people she'd asked to take part had agreed to do it for free; some of the others had agreed to do it in exchange for a reduction in their interest rates. A few others, she'd blackmailed. She'd only had to pay wages for three. And since both Tsubasa and Kodachi had bit parts...well, it helped keep the fees down.

Her scriptwriter, on the other hand, didn't need to be paid, bribed or blackmailed. He'd heard about this project, and had jumped in with both feet. Never mind that he was a gaijin...this just meant that he understood the play better. At the moment, he was slouching in a folding beach chair, script in hand, near one of the cameras.

After wages, camera rental, copies of the script, and the purchase of her editing software, she had 79,000 yen left in her budget. But of course, this was merely the first day of shooting...

"Okay, people, here's the situation." Nabiki leaned back in her director's chair--she'd swiped it from the college, but she figured nobody would notice before she returned it.

"What we're gonna do is a modern remake of a classic play. I downloaded the original English version off of a web site and translated it into Japanese." She waved a sheaf of papers in the air. "Each of you will get a copy of these."

"Hey, Nabiki." Ranma stepped forward out of the small crowd. "Why a modern remake?"

"I saw a version of Romeo and Juliet done like that. I didn't like it." Nabiki shrugged. "DiCaprio made a reasonably good Romeo, but everything else was..."

"DiCaprio?"

"Leonardo DiCaprio. Famous movie star. Did Man in the Iron Mask, Titanic..."

Ranma scratched his head. "That's the guy that did the MasterCard commercial, right? Pretended he was a martial artist?"

Nabiki sighed. "Right."

Tofu spoke up. "When do we begin?"

"Today. I want to get Act One, Scene One out of the way quickly." She double-checked her casting call. "So, clear the gate area. Dad, Kasumi, Akane, on stage. Tsubasa, just outside, please."

The crowd milled about, till only the three were left on stage. Nabiki hopped to her feet. Her videocameras were mounted on sturdy tripods, and activated by remote, but she wanted to be closer to them. Just in case. She touched the record button on the remotes. "Rolling...Action!"

Tail Kinker Presents

In Association with TN Enterprises

Much Ado About Ranma

"Girls! I have wonderful news!" Soun re-read the letter in his hands, as though not quite believing it. "My old friend, Saotome Genma, comes here very soon! He is bringing with him his protege, Ono Tofu."

From just outside the gate, Tsubasa nodded. "Doctor Tofu has demonstrated both skill and mercy. Saotome has praised him to the stars. I've already delivered a letter from Tofu to his mother, here in town, as well as one from Saotome."

"Oh?"

"Yes; she wept with joy. Though she still desires to see her son wed to a good woman..."

Akane butted in at this point. "What about the Grand High Pervert? Is he coming as well?"

Tsubasa blinked. "Surely you don't mean--"

Kasumi smiled. "My sister refers to Genma's son, Saotome Ranma."

"Ah!" Tsubasa nodded. "Yes, he is with them, and as pleasant a person as always."

Akane snorted. "That bad, eh? Probably still chasing after anything female."

Soun laughed. "I think you protest too much, Akane. Never fear, I believe young Ranma will treat you properly." He began to walk towards the house; the other three followed him.

Tsubasa added, "He has done well on this training voyage with his father and Ono."

"Don't fret over my daughter's attitude, Kurenai. She and Ranma have this war of the wits every time they meet--"

"Pity he's unarmed," Akane muttered. "Last time we met, he acted so stupidly that you couldn't tell him from a wild horse. Who's he hanging off of now?"

"Hm?"

"Every time I see him, he's either got some tart hanging off of his arm, or he's following some martial artist around like a lost puppy."

Tsubasa cleared his throat. "I believe that Ranma has spent a lot of time with Tofu."

"Ah. I see. I do hope that Doctor Tofu knows a cure for it."

"For what?"

"Ranma."

Tsubasa blinked. Soun turned, and looked back at the gates. "We have guests!"

Tsubasa let out a sigh of relief. "Thank the Kami, they're here!" He bolted through the gate, grateful to escape.

Saotome Genma strutted through the gate, larger than life and three times as ugly. Behind him were Ranma, Doctor Tofu, Kuno Tatewaki and Gosunkugi Hikaru. As soon as he came into Kasumi's presence, Tofu's glasses fogged up, and his face took on an idiotic expression.

Genma's voice boomed out across the compound. "Tendo! Good to see you!"

"It's been too long, Saotome." Tendo stepped forward and gripped his friend's hand, a rare smile crossing his face.

"So it has, so it has." He glanced over at Akane and Kasumi. "Are these your daughters, then?"

"Well, their mother told me they were..." Tendo grinned.

Ranma snorted. "Did you doubt her?"

"No, not at all." He tilted his head. "You were only a year old when Akane was born, so I had no reason to doubt her..."

Ranma scowled, as the rest of the small crowd burst into laughter. All of the crowd, save Akane, who waited for the laughter to die down.

"Maybe you would like some salt for that foot?"

Ranma scowled at her.

Akane tilted her head. "I always wondered why you keep talking, when nobody's listening to you."

"I shoulda expected to see you here, Akane. I suppose it's a little beyond belief to expect you'd be out on a date or something. Nobody's interested in a macho chick like you."

Suddenly, it was Akane's turn to fume. "I'm surprised I don't see a bimbo hanging off of you. Did you manage to lose them all? Maybe they realized what a pervert you are?"

"I ain't a pervert!" Ranma's scowl deepened. "I ain't never encouraged any of 'em."

Tendo raised his hands. "Enough of this! This is a happy occasion! Genma, my old friend. Will you stay with us awhile? Perhaps a month or two?"

"I shall be happy to, Soun. I believe my friends will not object?"

"Indeed not, my lord and master." Kuno drew himself forward in a bow. "Good sir Tendo, let me thank you from the bottom of my heart. To have such a fine residence in which I might stay, and under the roof of the beauteous Akane--"

"Cut!" Nabiki hopped off of her chair, hit the stop button on the remote, and stormed onto the set. "Kuno!"

"Yes, Tendo Nabiki? You were about to comment on my excellent diction and ad lib performance?"

"Not at all." She handed him the script. "Please open this to page three, second column, line five, and read to me your line."

Kuno opened the script, and flipped the page. "'I am not of many words, but I thank you.'"

"Perfect." She tore the script from his hands, and turned to walk back to her chair.

"But, surely my lines are far more melodious--"

"No."

"But they are inspired--"

"No, Kuno." She turned and leveled a finger at him. "My lines. Unless you'd like to forfeit those photos?"

"What photos?" Akane and Ranma yelled at the same time.

"None of your business." She turned back to Kuno. "Well?"

"I...shall recite your lines."

"Good. From Dad's line. Rolling, and...Action!"

Tendo raised his hands. "Enough of this! This is a happy occasion! Genma, my old friend. Will you stay with us awhile? Perhaps a month or two?"

"I shall be happy to, Soun. I believe my friends will not object?"

Kuno sighed. "I am not of many words, but I thank you."

"It is good to see you reconciled with your old teacher, Tatewaki." Soun turned back to Genma. "Please...this way?" He led them into the house, leaving only Ranma and Tofu standing outside.

Tofu's glasses, and possibly his mind, cleared of the fog. "Did you see her? Tendo's daughter?"

"Who? That tomboy Akane?"

A shoe flew out of the doorway, and smacked into Ranma's head. "Ranma, you jerk!"

"Cut!!" Nabiki threw her script down on the ground, jumped up, and stormed towards her little sister. "Akane!"

"He called me a tomboy!"

"Ranma is merely reciting the lines that I gave him."

"But--"

"No buts!" Nabiki jabbed a finger in Akane's direction. "He didn't say the lines. I did. Are you going to throw a shoe at me?"

"...No."

"Fine." Nabiki picked up the shoe, and threw it back at her sister. She turned and stalked towards the director's chair.

The scriptwriter chuckled. "I told you this wasn't going to work, Nabs."

"Shut up. And don't call me that." She dropped into her chair, grabbed her remote, and clicked. "From Tofu's line. Action!"

"Did you see her? Tendo's daughter?"

"Who? That tomboy Akane?"

"No! Kasumi! Isn't she lovely? And so nice..."

"Look, Doc. According to Akane, I'm some sorta pervert. You want my opinion on Kasumi?"

"We both know it isn't true, Ranma."

Ranma shrugged. "She is kinda nice. Not my type, really."

"She is an angel! A goddess!"

"Hey, Doc." Ranma sighed. "She's just a girl, y'know? Heck, I think Akane's even better looking than her, as long as you stay away from the sharp end."

"Not to me!"

Genma stepped back out of the house. "Hey, what's keeping you two?"

Ranma raised his hands. "Nothin'!"

"Ranma..." Genma sighed. "On your honour as a martial artist, you must tell me."

Ranma patted Tofu's shoulder. "Sorry, pal." To his father: "The poor guy's in love."

"With?"

Ranma hesitated. "With Kasumi."

"So?" Genma raised his eyebrows. "He could make a worse choice."

"That's what I said."

Genma grinned. "You disapprove of her?"

"Why would he wanna get married, anyway?" Ranma folded his arms and leaned back against the stone wall. "I mean, he's gettin' ready to give up all his freedom. You think she's gonna let him wander the world? You think she's gonna be happy bein' home all alone? Heck, you think she even likes martial arts?"

Genma laughed. "It's not like she'd marry you!"

"And a good thing! I don't intend to get married any time soon, or possibly ever!"

Tofu poked Ranma in the arm. "I think we'll see you fall in love yet."

"Maybe fall in debt, fall ill, fall in a pit, or have a windfall. But never fall in love." He snorted. "And if ever I do, I'll just break out the sake and drink until I fall out of love." He pushed himself away from the wall. "I'm outta here." He stalked into the house.

Genma glanced over at Tofu. "You really like Kasumi, huh? I tell you what..." He grinned. "Tendo and I go way back. I could vouch for you. Of course, you still gotta win the girl yourself, but..."

"That's a bit of a problem." Tofu adjusted his glasses. "I'm not exactly myself when I'm around her."

"What do you mean?"

"Well...I lose control of myself. I'm likely to do or say almost anything."

"Hm. Tell you what. Not only shall I speak with Tendo...I shall help you win the girl!"

Tofu laughed. "You?"

"Indeed." He leaned closer to the younger man. "You've met my wife. You recall how much like Kasumi she is?"

"I always wondered about that..."

"Trust me. This old dog still has a few tricks." He stepped back, and clapped a hand on the Doctor's shoulder. "Let's go in. Dinner's being served shortly." The two turned, and walked into the house, leaving the courtyard empty.

"Cut! And print!" Nabiki grinned inwardly at the needlessness of the last order; she had no camera crew beyond herself.

The group filed back out of the house, talking animatedly. She heard a subdued "Hallelujah!" from someone in the back.

"Okay, listen up!" She waved her hands over her head, and waited for the group to fall silent. "Second and third scenes are really short. I want to get them both out of the way tomorrow. Tsubasa, I don't think we need you until Act Five, about a week from now."

"I can change?" Tsubasa was scratching at the jeans.

"Yeah. Go put on a dress or something. Everyone else: Nice work so far. If the next two scenes go as smoothly, we can be done this thing in two weeks at the outside." She grinned...such a finish would leave her almost thirty thousand yen under budget. "Scenes Two and Three have Dad, Happousai, Hiroshi, Daisuke and Kuno. We need everyone here on Thursday for Act Two. Be here, people!"

The crowd began to disperse. Nabiki turned back and began disassembling her camera gear.

The scriptwriter was still seated in his chair. "Not a bad first day, Nabs."

"I told you not to call me that."

"You think you can keep them from each other's throats tomorrow?"

"Scene Two should be no more than two minutes long. I think we can keep Happi in line that long. Scene Three is only a bit longer." She narrowed her eyes. "But we still don't have anyone to play Antonio's son. I don't want to hire an extra."

"I'm not willing to do it, Nabs." The scriptwriter shook his head. "A lot of people would be very upset at me for doing it." He grinned. "I got a better idea. You know that Shakespeare often used a young boy to play a girl, right?"

"What's your point? It is customary for a son to be a boy." Her eyes widened suddenly.

The scriptwriter grinned. "You just got it, didn't you?"

"Ohhh, yes." She grinned. "I'll have to talk to Ukyou for the...costuming. Nice thinking. We'll keep you around."

"You'd better." The scriptwriter tapped the cover page of his creation. "Without this...you've got nothing."