Disclaimer: I do not own anything. I'd like to compliment the second OAV crewmembers on their work, for one nice piece of fried crap. I hope all the DVDs and tapes spontaneously combust. Followed by a chant of joy by the creator of the esteemed anime itself. I refuse to accept its continuity within this fic, and in the series itself. Get over it, or please leave.

Ranma Saotome was coming!

Soun Tendo was overjoyed at the fact that his old training partner's heir was finally coming, and the first and most likely only promise Genma had ever made in seriousness would be fulfilled. The Tendo School of Anything- Goes and the Saotome School of Anything-Goes would finally be united, and Anything-Goes would be at its peak, a pinnacle of perfection. He had put aside his grief and allowed Akane to study every aspect of the Art she could find. Though he himself had taught her as much of the Ryu as he could, she was simply too slow, too quick to anger, to become a practitioner of the true secrets of his legacy.

Ranma Saotome was coming.

. . . Ranma AND Genma Saotome were coming.

Genma Saotome was a louse.

A relatively friendly louse, but a louse nonetheless. He was sneaky, underhanded, idiotic, and quite possibly one of the most powerful martial artists in the world. As he had developed the style that allowed himself to imbue his own emotional ki into his blows that he dubbed the Imbuer Techniques, Genma had developed the Umisenken and Yamasenken. The 'Way of the Quiet Thief' and the 'Way of the Noisy Thief', the master had trained Genma truest to the style of Anything-Goes, leaving himself to train in solitude. The techniques he developed only in secret had shown his own potential as a true Master. Over the years, they had grown to be the best of friends, a good chunk of that friendship being what brought them to meet in the first place. The Art.

Stepping out of the reminiscing state he'd placed himself in, he walked to the door to the rather large ki presence that was on his front step. "Hello?"

He looked mildly surprised to see someone answer the door before he knocked, but he looked at the older man with a look of relief. "Soun Tendo?" His face betrayed his hopefulness; it was painfully obvious this guest was searching for him.

"I am he, and who might you be?"

The guest stood proudly for one so young, perhaps five foot five, with deep and piercing blue eyes. His leanly muscled form seemed to flow with an unspoken grace, his long legs coiled as a taut spring. A quiet grace seemed to flow within him, and he couldn't help but feel a small amount of comfort in seeing the youth. His jet-black hair was set in a braid down just an inch past his shoulders, an almost silken quality about it. He was dressed in a red shirt, probably Chinese from the looks of it. A white belt made of silk was wrapped around his waist, on top of his shirt. His black pants were tied at the ankles, an interesting look that seemed to fit him perfectly. He wore long white bracers around his arms, and in his hand was a staff, about four feet tall. It was rather smooth for what seemed to be more of a walking stick, with the traditional design seen upon a saya. Ranma bowed lightly, "Hello, Mister Tendo. My name is Ranma Saotome. . . of the Saotome Anything-Goes Style. . ."

"RANMA!" Soun moved to hug him tightly, tears running down his eyes. "I am so glad to see you here, all will be well!"

He jumped back in surprise, holding the staff like a kendoka. Poised off of one foot, his staff held in one hand with the other in a stance ready to block or twist punch. It showed great defense and offensive capability, and scared the very few wits within the Tendo patriarch right out of him.

"WAAAAAAH!" Soun turned white as a ghost, fainting dead away.

A young girl, about his age, ran forward. "Dad! Dad, what happened?" She growled at Ranma, classifying him as an assailant and pervert. "What did you do to him?"

"Your dad fainted when he. . ." He shuddered and glared at her. "Nevermind that, what tha hell do YOU want with me?" He kept his stance, slowly regretting ever listening to the letter in his oyaji's pack.

"I want you to dry up and die! KIYAH!" Akane Tendo, sole active practitioner of the Tendo Anything-Goes Ryu, 'strongest' martial artist in Nerima and unofficial pervert-smasher, charged as fast as she could towards him.

Ranma reacted instantly, leaping above the offending tomboy. She looked up and gasped, disbelief etched upon her face. The moment of surprise was all he needed as he descended as he moved towards her, in midair no less, and struck the back of her neck with his staff. "RYU TSUI SEN!" The blow made a rather interesting THWACK against her flesh, as Ranma landed on one hand and knee to recover from the ki used within the blow. "That attack. . . it takes alot outta ya. . ." He grimaced and pulled himself up with his staff, breathing haphazardly.

Akane wasn't faring much better for the attack, it was one of the few times she had really been hurt. She vaguely recognized the ki usage, but she wasn't particularly concerned with that as much as the physical and prideful pain. She was Akane Tendo! Nobody could defeat her! And this pervert had dared tried to knock her and her father out! Her battle aura, thin though it was, appeared as she charged once more. She deliberately telegraphed a straight punch, pulling it back at the last second to jump just a few feet in the air and kick off of Ranma.

He held out his staff with one hand on the top and bottom each, catching her foot on the hard wood and pushing her off of the staff. She actually recovered rather well, crouching before attacking once more. This time, he put his staff in a holster on his backpack, taking a stance not dissimilar to her original one. Turned so his side was facing her, his right arm crossed over his chest, fist placed next to the elbow of his left arm, poised to switch sides almost immediately. "So, you think your pop can steal my school? MY LIFE?" He jumped towards her, appearing to be floating a few inches in the air. He kicked out towards her, catching Akane in the gut before effectively pinning her arms, his feet catching her legs so they couldn't move either.

"What do you mean, steal your school?" She spat at him; outraged this pervert would pin her down and call her a thief, cheating by jumping so high in the air. He probably used springs on his feet. . .

"The Anything-Goes Ryu is my LIFE! You think your father can teach you a few tenants of it so you can slander the name of my style? I am the only user of Anything-Goes, and I ain't taught nobody how to do any of it in my life. How the heck do you justify stealing my LIFE?" The sheer rage on his face was evident, out of place, but evident. It scared Akane to her core, but she shook it off and glared. "My father's trained me in the Anything- Goes since I was ten years old! The only other family that practices hasn't been seen in eleven years, you idiot!" He stood up, his foot on her stomach to keep her pinned down. "I am Ranma Saotome, Grandmaster of the Saotome Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu and sole practitioner of the Saotome Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu. You may be good, but you ain't nowhere near my level. I am here to speak to Soun Tendo about school business, and if the idiot fainted it's not my fault. So do me a favor and just leave me alone so I can be miserable in peace!" He unsheathed his staff, bringing it down to her face in a swift strike. She had just enough time to close her eyes before. . .


She looked up unharmed, and this. . . Ranma, as well as her father, were gone. "KASUMI! NABIKI!"

Ranma was leaping, grumbling as he leapt off with Soun Tendo. He could feel his opponent's mind, her anger and underlying sadness from. . . loss? Ranma shook his head. No sense in trying to explain empathy today, it just wasn't worth it. He slowly began to construct a mental shield, his instincts guiding his progress towards a vacant lot as he blocked the youngest Tendo girl's mind and emotions from himself.

He set down the target of his wanderings, and pulled out some smelling salts from his father's sparse herbal kit. The old idiot did know some things about medicine, after all the injuries he'd suffered. . .

He shook his head clear of thoughts of his father, and waved them under Soun's nose. He awoke with a start. "Good Gods, what is that. . . you!" He somersaulted backward, a low crouching stance, known as the Battered Tiger.

"Please, Mister Tendo, I'm not here to hurt you. I swear. I have news of my father, Genma Saotome."

"Speak your piece, boy." He may be something of an old man now, but years of ingrained discipline and power were not to be taken lightly.

"He wrote to me, in his final will, that I was to come here to fulfill a pledge of the Anything-Goes school. I want to know why you stole my pops' school, and what this pledge is about!"

Confusion was clear among the mustachioed face of Soun Tendo. "Your father and I trained together to develop and perfect this school. . . I stole nothing from him, nor him from me."

Ranma may not have been the sharpest blade on the rack, or even the sharpest blade of grass, but he was pretty good at knowing when he was being fooled. It came with the. . . territory. "I believe you. . . and I. . . apologize. For startling you. Will you please tell me what this whole pledge is about?"

Soun sat in the lotus position, looking as calmly as the neurotic man ever did. "The pledge between our two families was to continue the Anything-Goes school was one made before even my eldest daughter was born. Our legacy and Art were at their peak then, and while they were powerful, there was no way we knew of to improve upon them. As we thought of this in a local tavern, my best friend Genma asked me why we kept our schools separate. His chaos and unpredictability in midair combat was astounding to even the most powerful masters of the art, and the defense, Jiu Jitsu, and ground combat skills of my own school were formidable at least. With this, we wrote a pledge of our family's honor. . . for as soon as we had children of the opposite gender, to have them wed, so our schools would become whole and complete. The Shin Anything-Goes."

Ranma was shocked at this, and looked to the ground. He'd been hoping it was a challenge, some battle in which to perfect his skills, old and newfound. But no. . . he was trapped in a pledge made by his father, betrothed to some girl that tried just now to beat the living crap out of him. If he didn't believe in respect for the dead. . .

"It is a matter of family honor that our two families be united. . . Genma assuredly has told you of this, hasn't he?"

A pained look crossed his face, and he looked to him. "Mister Tendo, my father. . . will not be joining us on this plane of life again. He died in the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo, in a training accident."

Soun looked down in sorrow, trying to regulate his emotions for the sake of the school and the pledge that was so important to him, the only thing that kept his old body going, save his wonderful girls. "Please. . . tell me. . . how it happened."

"It started when we were in China, traveling to Jusenkyo to train. "

"Come on boy, we're almost there!" Ranma looked to the middle aged man in front of him, by only a sparse few feet. He wasn't a skinny man, but he wasn't exactly obese. His bald head was covered by a bandana, spectacles framing his stern looking face. His dogi was a dirty white, though it was hard to tell from the traveling vest he wore around it.

"Allright pops, I'm goin'!" Ranma, on the other hand, made sure to run with blindingly fast use of his legs. He almost leapt with each step, covering a yard with each stride. He was able to go with nigh full speed, but preserved a great deal of his strength. At least, that was his theory.

"Honored sirs?" A portly little Mandarin man looked up to see two approaching martial artists.

Genma stopped in front of him and gave a shifty smile. "Would you happen to know where the Springs of Jusenkyo are?"

"Oh, I is guide to Jusenkyo, I take you dere, yes?"

"We'd like that, yes."

"Right dis way, sirs." The Jusenkyo guide began to walk. "Is only few miles to Springs. . ."

"No problem, right pops? Unless you're gettin' feeble in your old age. . ."

"We'll see about that, boy!" Genma smirked and sped up as quickly as he could, racing against his insolent son. He crouched low and sped forward, mindless of the heavy pack containing all their worldly possessions atop his rather broad (Albeit chubby) shoulders.

Ranma glared and pushed everything he did into his gliding stride, his speed a true blur to all save Genma.

The cursed guide of Jusenkyo sighed and muttered. "No one ever listen to me. What I do to them?" He sighed once more as the raw magic of the springs transported him in front of where the customers would be. He really hated this job. . . He truly pitied them more then he, however; they were about to be very, very. . . different.

The Saotome no Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu heir and grandmaster looked upon the vast grounds of the springs.

"This don't look so bad, pop."

"Allright then boy, follow me!" Genma threw off his pack and leapt into a crane stance, balanced on one foot atop one of the hundred poles that covered the springs.

Ranma followed in an instant, poised in identical fighting stance to his father and sensei. He gritted his teeth, preparing himself to fight.

"I won't go easy on ya boy!"

"That's just the way I like it!" In an instant, they leapt towards eachother. A flurry of punches and kicks were traded, the final blow struck by Genma. As Ranma was kicked into a pool below, the guide resisted the urge to scream. 'Honored sirs nothing, they is honored idiots. Why nobody ever ask about the springs?' He thought to himself.

Ranma jumped out, his speed quickened moreso even then before. In a spiraling punch, he took Genma by surprise off the pole and into a spring behind a chain fence.

"And that's how he died. . . he drowned in that spring, disappearing before we could recover the body. I read a letter in his backpack, telling me to traverse here, to see you."

"You must fulfill the pledge, son. For the honor of our families, and the sake of our schools."

"I do not only practice the Anything-Goes Ryu, Mister Tendo. I use a specialized style of Kenjitsu as well, coupled with the teachings of my father. . . a school in which I am the grandmaster of, as I was my father's heir."

"It doesn't matter, son. . . I'm sure we can overlook any problems, as long as the pledge is fulfilled."

"Tell me about your daughters then, sir. I need to know before I get engaged to anyone who likes hittin' people for pleasure, for instance. . ."

"I have three beautiful daughters. My eldest is Kasumi, who is very dear to me. She is an amazing cook, and a dutiful girl with the sun's smile. She's nineteen, so she may not wish the engagement right away."

He nodded lightly. "Continue."

"My middle daughter's name is Nabiki, who is seventeen. She's as smart as anyone you'll ever meet, a real head for business and numbers. She's a little isolated, but she's truly a very nice girl."

"And of course, my youngest, Akane. She is a martial artist as well, very sweet. She has extreme determination and will, with a face just like her dear departed mother. . ." His eyes closed at this, and he sighed. "She's a little on the violent side. If you cross her, she has a very hard time forgiving you."

Ranma thought it over, his eyes glazing over slightly as he moved into a meditative trance. His mind extended to touch and feel the youngest daughter, and he looked. . . into her mind's eye.

*FLASH* A little girl playing in the park.

*FLASH* That same little girl going through a kata over and over, attempting to master it.

*FLASH* The girl was older now, a man touches her, and she lashes out, sending him flying.

*FLASH* A wall, men clambering to push through it.

*FLASH* A picture of a woman, held close to her.

Ranma opened his eyes in a flash, wincing. "Mister Tendo, I realise I must fulfill the pledge. However, I am also rather sure if I do so, I would want to be with the one who is happiest in the agreement. . . mutually so, I am sure. Would it be allright if stayed with you, and waited to decide on the course of the engagement?"

Soun looked to him, suitably impressed. He seemed to have everything covered. . . and the pledge would finally be fulfilled. At least one of his daughters would be happy again. . . "Of course, son. Welcome to the family." He smiled at him, standing up. "Come, Ranma. . . we should go now. My daughters should meet their new brother-in-law." He laughed a little before asking, "Ranma, tell me, what are you like?"

"I'm a martial artist, best there is. The Anything-Goes is my specialty, but I also practice the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu. I only started a little ways back, but it's done wonders for my speed. I don't do much besides martial arts, and perfecting my skills in the two styles and skills related to them takes up a great deal of my time. I keep to myself alot, and I ain't a big fan of bein' ordered around. You got somethin' you want me to do, you can just ask me and I'll try and accommodate you if I can. That's not such a big deal, is it?" He smirked a bit and absently began some katas as he walked, the motions seeming accidental. He kept eye contact with the Grandmaster of his sister school, concentrating on his current situation as well as the Grand Ultimate Fist katas he had seen.

Soun blinked. He was certainly an independent young man, wasn't he? Ah well, it wasn't a big deal. "No, I suppose it isn't."

They had arrived at the Tendo Training Hall. Ranma looked to the old building, kept in pristine condition by someone who had obviously known what they were doing. "Nice place. . . I ain't seen many like'em."

"Thank you." Soun found himself confused once more, something that seemed to be happening a lot around this boy. It was odd; Ranma's voice seemed to have two different 'modes'. One used slang and atrocious grammar, and the other was one of the smoothest talkers he had ever seen. He had not missed the meditative trance he had put himself in, but he had no idea whether that had anything to do with the sudden change in voice and attitude. It was beginning to give him a headache.

"Well Ranma, shall we enter?"

He nodded in reply, absently twirling his staff like a baton. It moved at a blinding speed, even in the youth's apparent lack of attention. Soun chuckled lightly. 'I am most impressed with my old, departed friend's teachings. . .' He sombered up rather quickly at the thought of his old friend.

They walked inside, and Soun shouted, "Girls, I'm home!" He walked to the kitchen and put on a smile at his three daughters. "Girls, this is Ranma Saotome, of the Saotome Anything-Goes Style, as well as the Saotome Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu." Ranma smiled and looked to the three girls. The one farthest to his right sat on the floor, her azure hair flowing freely halfway down her shoulder blades. She looked to be about his age, with a rather cute form hidden under a dogi that spoke of her Art. The fiery look on her face that seemed rather natural. On the farthest left was a woman that looked to be about nineteen; in a plain housedress that one would think would hide her figure. In truth, it accentuated her innocent beauty and calm presence. Her long, brown hair wrapped around the front of her neck, she seemed to balance to her sister's fiery persona with her soft aura. And finally, in the middle, was a girl a year older then him. Wearing a formal kimono, she seemed to be looking rather appraisingly at his form. In return, he took an eyeful of hers. She wasn't cute, nor was she pretty, at least by his definition. If he were to be truthful, he would have to say she was sexy. An interesting smirk on her face, just slightly narrowed eyes, her face framed with a pageboy haircut, she looked to be very calculating, though a lot happier then normal. He could tell these things. All in all, they seemed to be rather attractive.

Soun smiled widely and pointed first to the youngest, "This is Akane, my youngest, she's sixteen." She promptly glared, as if she could hurt him by doing so. He then pointed the to the far left, "My eldest, Kasumi, she's nineteen." She smiled a familiar smile at him, the peaceful serenity she held within it comforting and warm. "Nabiki, my middle daughter, she's seventeen." She smiled lightly, neither of joy nor serenity, but of a form of acceptance, and if he didn't miss his guess, hope of something besides the old pledge. "Pick one of them, they'll be your new fiancée."

"I'm. . . Ranma Saotome. Sorry 'bout this." He gave an almost obligatory look to the floor, an almost embarrassed look on his face. "FIANCEE? Over my dead body! He attacked me!" Akane looked up and glared daggers towards him.

"I wish you wouldn't do that. It really gives me a headache. And you attacked me first, dimwit." He bopped her on the head with his staff. "One of the tenants of our school is to use challenges very seriously. If you wanted to fight me to defend your father, it is your duty to challenge me, and for my consent. I also practice the Anything-Goes, so I would have accepted, of course. However, you didn't, and I treated you suitably. You don't attack the best there ever was. Not without some seriously good reason, and proof behind it, especially not as badly as you did, tomboy."

She picked up a stone lantern and smashed his head in.

He rather complaisantly fell unconscious, his staff clenched tight, but otherwise unmarked.

"Akane!" Kasumi's voice got as close as it ever did to yelling, a mild reprove in her voice. She looked to the ground in shame at her elder sister's scolding. "Help me move Ranma to the old guest room, I'll check him over to see if he's all right."

"Okay Kasumi. . ." She helped hoisted him over her shoulder, not very gently, either. Walking up the stairs, she began to honestly feel bad for hitting him. 'He was just defending himself. . . and he's right, those are important rules of our Budo. I shouldn't have hit him. . . I'll apologize when he wakes up, I guess. . .' She muttered to herself about stupid boys, not noticing once that she didn't associate him as a pervert anymore.

Ranma awoke to the surprised face of Kasumi. "Ranma?"

"Uhhhh. . . what killed me?" He groaned and sat up, looking to the eldest Tendo daughter. "Usually cute girls don't take care a me. . ."

She blushed lightly and took the compliment as the result of the blow to the head. "Ranma, we have a guest here. . . his name is Tofu Ono, and he has. . . some questions for you."

"Sure. . . whatever you say. . ."

A man a little older then Kasumi walked in, his expression stern as he assessed the situation. He was told Ranma had been a boy, but when some water was spilled on him, there was a drastic change, and that his expertise in the medical and magical area was necessary. "Hello, Ranma. I'm Dr. Tofu."

"Nice ta meetcha. . . yo, Doc, can you get ridda the little tomboys beatin' my head with stuff?"

He chuckled lightly at that and looked at the base of his skull. "Fascinating. . . Ranma, have you ever been cursed?"

"Well, yeah. . ."

"Are you a boy or a girl?"

"I'M A GUY!"

"In that case, I highly recommend you explain to me how you were cursed, because right now, you're nothing of the sort."

Ranma looked to his body, or rather, hers. She had shortened quite a bit, the chest she had as a boy less muscled and much more filled out. The black hair that had once adorned her head was now a bright red, and his voice had definitely changed to be much higher. Her hands looked almost delicate, and she imagined she probably looked pretty cute. Her cursed form had beaten any girl HE ever saw in the chest department, at least. . .


He began to explain the training trip, to the cursed grounds of Jusenkyo.

After he'd finished, Dr. Tofu called out. "Nabiki! Could you bring me some hot water?"

"Sure thing, Doctor!"

He looked to Ranma's staff for a minute before his eyes widened. "Ranma, may I see that for a minute?"

"Ya mean my Bo-blade? No problem." She handed it over, curiously awaiting for whatever discovery the doctor had evidently found.

"This. . . Bo-blade, where'd you find it?" He looked rather dazed, staring intently at the top of the staff.

"Well. . . you see, a few days after Jusenkyo, just as I was tryin' some new speed maneuvers in a training manual I found. . ."

Ranma stood in river, running as hard as she could against the current. She growled at the pure pressure thrown against her, and tried her best to run faster. After ten excruciatingly long minutes, she gasped as she reached the waterfall at the end of the river. The newest student of the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu jumped out of the water, catching her breath from the uphill battle. "Whew. . . I'm making better time, but this'll be as far as I can go with the physical part before I find a sakabato, or a katana." She grimaced and sat down. "I don't want to steal one, but one in any decent fighting shape will cost me an arm and a leg."

A woman in a traveling cloak walked up to him, a staff in hand, with beautifully intricate designs of what would normally be on a saya carved into it. "Excuse me, did I hear you say you're looking for a sakabato?"

"Yeah, I am. . . why do you ask?"

She took off her hood, revealing her long white hair. A small triangle tattoo adorned her forehead, and below that was a beautiful, deeply tanned face. Sly and cunning, or so it appeared, she dripped sensuality. The rest of her was covered up by the cloak, which a small part of Ranma's mind was screaming bloody murder for. "Well, I happen to have a special blade right here." She flipped up the staff in a loose Kendo stance, smiling. "Problem is, it only works for those who have the fighting spirit to summon it. . . what do you say, kid? Interested?"

"What's the price?" Ranma wasn't an idiot; he knew enough that nothing was free unless you were ready to run from everybody and their brother, sister, nana, and dog. He learned that the hard way

"I want you to channel your ki into the blade. Make it part of you, and pull off the saya. If you can do it. . . it's yours."

She looked dubiously at the woman and took the staff in hand. "Allright. . ." Her body began to remember the Battoujutsu stance, moving to bend her knees. Half-crouched, she turned to the side as she held the staff to her left hip. She held the cloth-covered head of the staff tight, channeling the energy of her body and spirit within to the blade. Slowly, a crack smooth began to appear a few inches down from the top. Her teeth grit, and she felt the staff become a part of her. In no way attached, her spirit could literally feel the wood and metal intermixed, the energy so potent within it. She shouted to the wind as she stepped forward on her right leg and pulled on the sword, withdrawing it from its sheath. "BATTOUJUTSU STRIKE!" A vicious arc of the reversed blade left an almost visible trail in the air as it was drawn.

It was a beautiful weapon, with no nicks or cuts in the blade. It was a sakabato, so the blade was on the opposite side of the normal. The metal looked to be a silvery-white, a color he'd never seen in any metal before. He could feel the creator's life energies within the weapon, energies pulsating with care for the blade, as well as his own ki, intermixing with the passion of the smith and the power behind such a weapon. Strong, but impossible to kill with, as a sword should be. There was an inscription upon the ornate hilt, with the kanji between the saya symbols. "Bo-blade." She whispered and looked up to the stranger. "I. . . can keep this?"

"You can. . . you've earned it, kid. Seeya 'round. . . Saotome. . ." She disappeared into the forest, almost melding into the beauty of the nature surrounding.

Tofu looked at him, his eyes widened. This blade. . . it held the symbol of the Three Norn Goddesses. "That's. . . incredible, Ranma. That woman who gave you the blade. . . did she say anything else?"

"'Fraid not. . . I'd like ta say otherwise, you seem real interested."

He chuckled a little at that. "It's simply my own curiosity getting the better of me, Ranma. You appear to be in perfect health, and I hope you have the best of luck in this place. You're destined for a lot more then you think." He walked out, chuckling to his own unknown joke.

"Nice guy. . . absolutely nuts, but a nice guy." Ranma laughed to himself, grinning for the first time in days.

"Oh, Nabiki, could you bring that water up to Ranma?"

"Sure thing, Dr. Tofu. You leaving already?"

"I'm afraid I must get back to the clinic."

She grinned teasingly, "Kasumi would REALLY like you to stay. . ."

The good doctor's glasses immediately fogged up, and he skipped down the stairs, mumbling to himself about the object of his rather odd affections.

Shaking her head and smiling to herself, she walked up to the room Ranma was supposed to be in. "Ranma?" She opened the door, kettle in hand.

Ranma was sitting there stretching, the omnipresent Bo-blade sheathed on his back. "Oh, Nabiki, right?"

"Uh, right. . ." She blinked and looked at him. She'd seen the transformation occur, and probably wouldn't have believed it until she did. "I've got the hot water for you. . ."

"Oh, thanks alot." She smiled and took it, pouring it on herself before shifting into her male form. His voice deepened, and his body completely metamorphed. "Ahhh, that's so much better. . ."

"So, Ranma. . . you're. . . I guess. . . our new fiancée?"

"Yeah. . . I asked your pop to let me pick whoever'd like it best. . . so nobody got pressured into anything, y'know?"

She nodded a little and looked to the floor, then sat down. "Yeah, I know what you mean." She felt something in him. . . as if he was a safe person from life, from much of anything. His body was nice and all, but she felt. . . drawn to him, like she figured many were. He seemed to be almost magnetic towards those who needed protection, though Nabiki couldn't for the life of her figure out why. "You got any impressions of us yet?"

"That I don't want Akane, if the masochism thing becomes habit for'er."

Nabiki actually started laughing out loud, falling to the floor.

"Nabiki, are you okay?" It hadn't been that funny. . .

"Oh God. . ." She wiped a tear away. "If Akane heard you say that, she'd beat the daylights out of you. She's a real pervert-hater, and she takes nearly everything the wrong way." She giggled a little and looked up to him. "I can imagine her with a whip, going after a guy she thought was HITTING on her. . . 'Come back here, pervert! I'll give you a taste of your own dirty medicine! Now sit still and be punished!'. Akane, a closet Dom. . ." She tried not to laugh as she sat up, subconsciously leaning towards him. Seeing as she was about to fall, he moved so she'd half-rest on his shoulder.

Nabiki's eyebrow rose as she felt the rather well muscled frame of one Ranma Saotome holding her up. This felt. . . nice. . . "Forward. . . I like that."

He tensed up and started to babble. "I didn't mean to I mean you were just gonna fall and you'd ruin that nice kimono you're wearing and so I moved to catch you and. . ."

Nabiki put a finger to his lips; surprised she'd done it afterwards. In this house, everybody was an absolute prude. "Don't worry about it." She moved her finger off his lips, smiling. "I don't have many boys at school who are interested at me. . . it really got me worked up when I found out one of us was to be engaged. I thought I'd have a chance to have a fresh start with somebody."

He nodded a little at this, feeling her mind slowly open up. "I really know whacha mean. . ."

"I'm not unattractive or anything, but I use my business to earn a lot of my money at school. Guys seem to be turned off by women who aren't afraid to run the show and take charge."

"That's dumb. . . if a woman don't take charge, how can she ever get anything done? I think it's cool when women can do things guys can. . . I can't do much of anything with finances, 'cept for budget." He couldn't explain it, but he could feel the link he'd read about with her. It was slowly but steadily growing. . .

She looked up to him, seeing his expression as completely honest and straightforward. It was a tad disconcerting. . . "Our family doesn't make much money anymore, and because of it, my work is necessary to our family's finances. My nickname is the Furinkan Ice Queen for it." She found herself opening up to a stranger almost absolutely, his presence near her making her feel a little better. It was as if he was magic. . .

"I don't think you're an Ice Queen. . . you seem really open to me. It's kind of nice, seeing a person who doesn't put up anything to hide themselves."

"I guess I'm just a lot different at school. I'm so busy earning money, I never look at much of anything but the profit margin."

"I get that way with my Art. . . it's like nothing else matters. The flow of the movements, the power and speed you feel when you're doing it just right, the exhilaration of a fight, the power you feel of even the soft movements. . . it's all-consuming." Ranma poured his own emotion into the words, a sub-product of being what he was. Anytime he talked about things personal to him on a certain level, his own raw emotion was tempered into the words and felt by the person he was talking to.

She felt it allright, her breath slowly quickening. It felt right talking to him, in a way she didn't ever want to describe. . . in a way she simply couldn't. She looked up at him and cupped his face in her hand, pulling him closer to. . .

"PERVERT!" Akane Tendo stormed into the room, her trusty mallet at the ready. "You're trying to force yourself on my sister!" She glared at him, getting ready to smash his head again.

"I did nothing of the sort." Ranma's voice had become as it was with Soun, deeper and commanding. He seemed almost as if he was a different person, his vocabulary and manner of speech different in so many ways.


"Then ask her before jumping to conclusions. Or I will defeat you once more as quickly as possible." He opened his mind to her, feeling the anger consume her, become her.

"Nabiki, did this PERVERT force himself on you?"

Nabiki shook her head and stood up, her eyes deathly cold and icy. She looked to Ranma, and before she'd known what she was doing, she kissed his cheek and left the room.

Ranma's face turn beet red, his demeanor changing absolutely. "I. . . wha. . ."

Akane was flabbergasted. Her sister, the closet boy-crazy Ice Queen had kissed a boy, on the CHEEK! He must've done something to her! She made a move to attack him, but he jumped out the window, disappearing over the roofs.

He needed to think. He just wanted to help her. . . Ranma knew she was lonely, and he knew how it felt. He just wanted to make her feel a little better; that was it. So why did she do that? He didn't understand why a girl would do that. . . he needed to think, that he did. He leapt roof to roof, looking for a spot to think, and sleep. . . he'd return in the morning. Maybe she'll have cooled down by then. . . and maybe he'd have some idea what to do.

Nabiki went into her room and locked the door, lying down on her bed. She began a few yoga routines she used to keep her figure, thinking to herself. 'Why did I do that. . .' She found herself standing up in a rather familiar position, her icy cool demeanor cracking as it had around Ranma. 'He pierced through everything. He didn't even outsmart me, I just HAD to tell him. . .' She gave a swift jab in the air, not even noticing the style she was using. 'He could tell how I felt. I'm certain of it. . . up until. . .' Nabiki literally flipped in the air as she kicked, though the unprecedented maneuver caused her to fall on her butt in the landing. She knew not of what she had been doing; only that it was. . . comforting. 'Until I tried to kiss him.' She did a quick sweep before sitting in the lotus position, murmuring. "Why did I try to kiss him. . . he's no different than anyone else. So he's a martial artist, so he changes genders. . . so what? He'd still. . . he'd still. . .' She shook her head as a feeling left her, the icy indifferent exterior remaining once more on her face. She fell down onto her bed, trying to look for that feeling. . . that link, that essence that Ranma held within him. "Leave. . ."

She never once noticed she'd been using the Saotome-Ryu.

Ranma came back in a couple of hours with a grin of pure triumph. He had finally understood what Nabiki had done, and more importantly, why. 'It was obvious! When I tried to help her, she liked it. When girls liked stuff guys did, they were nice to them. Sometimes they hugged, and sometimes they kissed. Nabiki was just saying thank you!' It wasn't exactly scientific terms, but it worked for Ranma. He may not have known EXACTLY why she kissed his cheek, but that seemed to be a rather workable situation to him. He nodded slowly and set down his Bo-blade next to the futon lain out for him. He noticed a note was on his pillow, so he picked it up and read the neat and pristine kanji.

'Dear Ranma-kun,

I hope the futon is comfortable for you. I apologize for Akane-chan's behavior, it was extremely uncalled for. She's a very nice girl, she's just something of a violent maniac.'

He had to laugh at that before finishing the note.

'Anyway, before you go to sleep, would you please go into the furo and take a bath? You must be tired from the fight you and Akane-chan had earlier. I can tell you've been working out, and I'm sure the long journey hasn't had a lot of nice furos.


Ranma had to admit he probably smelled. . . Kasumi seemed to be a rather polite woman, and he could tell she took immaculate care of this home. He shrugged and walked to the furo, his body exuding a rather. . . healthy aroma from the training he'd done. He'd been working on the Ryu Tsui Sen for the past hour, and while it wasn't all the time he'd like, it had been enough to work out some kinks in the way he performed it. The way he'd been using it before completely left him open to projectiles, but it was a lot better, though he'd probably have to test it out later. He absently began taking off his clothes, not noticing that a sign was on the door to the bath. . .

He muttered to himself about rather monotonous details of the technique as he opened the door. As he finally worked out that last bedamnable detail of the ki flow in his legs, Ranma looked up to see the face of one Kasumi Tendo, washing herself in a jasmine scented bubble bath. The only thought that went through one of the prodigies of the martial arts field was one that went through boy and man alike, once caught in a situation that could prove to be volatile with any female. 'Ah CRAP.'

Kasumi Tendo was a very nice young woman. She received an A average in her school, graduated in the top three in her class, never cheated on a test, never said no to her father, took care of the house. . .

And she had to admit, it was kind of nice. The thrill of cooking the immaculate meals she brought to the table everyday was a rush for her, almost like the tea ceremony's meditations. It brought her peace of mind, tranquility, and relaxed her to no end. This was a very good thing. Because if she wasn't relaxed, she could never deal with the onslaught of the emotions she felt.

She had always been a rather emotional person. She threw herself wholly into the emotion, and it almost always led her to happiness. If she was angry, she could yell with the best of them, if she ever felt like it. In itself, that wasn't a huge problem. She had enough control over her own emotions, and enough reason to be happy, that feeling badly or much of anything besides what brought the comforting smile to her face happened almost never.

That wasn't the problem.

She had never denied being a sensitive person. She was affected by teasing very deeply, even light teasing between friends. It wasn't that she didn't know that it wasn't meant to really affect her, but she had known very well how painful teasing was to people. She never knew how to explain it. . . she almost felt as if she was the one being hurt when boys had picked on the younger classes, or when a girl became angry with another girl for any small reason. It hurt her so badly. . . she could barely deal with it. This was why she often spent time alone, or with people who felt badly themselves. She found it almost. . . compelling to make them feel better, and it always seemed to work when she tried to cheer them up.

And then she came home.

Her sister, Akane, whom she loved dearly, had the temper of a Mongol. It was almost as if she actually enjoyed the all-consuming anger she put herself in almost constantly, only stopping around her and her school friends Yuka and Sayuri. It was a constant strain on her mind, listening to the screaming, the 'KIYAH!'s as she broke every last thing she could. She ranted and raved about every last thing that irritated her, and it drove her out of her 'perfect and demure' little mind.

On the other side, there was Nabiki. She knew how flippant and light- hearted the girl was so often, but that was all she ever felt from her. It was as if she deliberately hid everything she felt from all but herself, and she wasn't sure she even admitted that much. Of course. . . tonight was different. Tonight, she felt a kind of hunger from Nabiki. It was as if her middle sister had opened up what she was to the world, and she didn't care who saw it. She hungered for it.

She thirsted, even if she wouldn't admit it.

She found her bread and water, what may very well be her solace from a very cold and lonely future.

And she almost claimed it.

Then Akane had gone and pretty much killed it. She saw her sister actually happy, and it sat horribly with her. She felt so despondent at seeing someone happy that she did what was natural, she attempted to attack and destroy.

If she weren't so nice of a person, she'd smack her little sister upside the head sometimes.

Which is exactly why she went to go work out her frustrations in the dojo. She couldn't begin to grasp the advanced ki concepts involved in the hard and fast movements of her father's style, so he suggested she take some Grand Ultimate Fist classes. Kasumi had been rather reluctant to take them, but much like cooking, she found peace in the soft and gentle movements of the style better known as Tai Chi Chuan. Each day, when her father took a nap, she went to the Dojo and lost herself in the harmony of the dance. . .

She'd not had a chance to do that today, from all the commotion Ranma had caused. She didn't mind so much, but she was rather fond of routine. So much so that the eldest Tendo daughter found she couldn't sleep without it. She moved out into the Dojo, slowly working through her forms with practiced ease. Kasumi knew how much her little sister enjoyed her family's Art, and she could never deny that. However, she also knew that the Hard within her particular use of the style kept her off-balance. If they ever fought, there was a chance, perhaps, that they could be an even match. She shook her head and stopped thinking entirely, concentrating simply on the instinctual reflex ingrained by years of work in her style. She was not a master, nor would she probably ever be, but this was bliss. To be alone, away from her sisters and father, her duties, and simply relax into what she almost lovingly referred to as the dance.

After about two hours of work, which was a little more then she usually did, she had worked up a rather healthy sw. . . glisten. Her mother instilled that into her early on, ladies did not sweat, they glistened. She laughed softly to herself, carefully walking up to the furo. She took off her sweatpants and tank top that she wore for training, shaking her head at how ridiculous she must look in those things. She'd bought them simply because her other clothes were too restricting, and she had to be honest, the motherly looking clothes she wore got old after awhile. Routine was a wonderful thing, but there is such a thing as too much. After heating up the furo, she took off her bra and panties and sat gently in the water, set exactly as she liked it. She took the ponytail holder out of her long brown hair, and simply soaked. And then he came in.

He was murmuring absently about something, and she very, very sorely regretted putting that note on his pillow. And when faced with a situation that would have almost all girls filled with a rather odd sense of dread, her thoughts came very close to Ranma's. 'Oh MY.'

Ranma was not in a wonderful mood now. His face began to turn red, and he looked down as quickly as he could. A little voice in his head, that sounded oddly female, was giving whistles at the view, while not at all a view of anything. . . private, gave him a rather clear view of the woman in front of him. This voice took the form of a little kimonoed girl, a katana strapped around her back. "I didn't mean to. . . I mean. . ." After wishing he could give that bedamned voice a kick, the sole practitioner of the Anything-Goes Style closed his eyes and prayed death would be swift.

Kasumi looked to him, looking at his not quite unclothed form. He still had his boxers on, but it was. . . quite a view. After she realized what she was doing, she looked down in an instant; very glad she was covered by the bubbles. Of course, that didn't stop the growing blush on her face. . . "It's perfectly allright, Ranma. . . I mean. . ." Rather self-consciously, she sank deeper underneath the bubbles, leaving only her face visible. "I didn't leave the sign out this early. . . it was really my fault."

Ranma winced. His. . . gifts, allowed him to give a rather unique look into Kasumi's life. She had done nothing but try to make him comfortable, and he hurt her feelings, as childish as it sounded. "Nope, it was my fault. I shoulda been payin' attention. I apologize, Kasumi, that I do." He bowed, making sure he couldn't receive a view of the rather beautiful woman in the bathtub in front of him. While doing so, he gave himself a nice mental kick in the head for even thinking those kind off thoughts while he was apologizing for the very thing the little voice was urging him to think about.

Kasumi looked at him and smiled softly. "It's allright, Ranma." She felt. . . something, digging at the corners of her mind to be recognized. "Let's split the blame fifty fifty. . ." In a rare, unfounded display of confidence, she asked him something. "Have you ever seen a girl. . . like this before?" She turned brighter red still, this felt improper to her logically. . . yet. . . that same feeling that kept her sisters closer to her then she could ever explain was starting to shine through. It alone was the thing she could trust most, and the judgements it gave were almost always right. Not always the best decision, but always right.

"No way! I'm not some kinda pervert, I promise!" He kept bent, praying for a way to escape without outright running from the kind woman.

"It's allright Ranma, I never said you were. . ." She laughed softly, her mind slipping, changing. . . it always happened this way. If she got close to a person in any way, her mind would open up. It was as though she was blind, seeing everything for the first time as her eyes truly opened. Wisdom and words flowed through her, things she could never remember learning, things she could never say unless her mind changed like this, and things she would never remember unless she was told. The confidence within her wasn't very visible, but her whole demeanor changed. The propriety within her voice was astounding, and while it still carried that same soft tone, it was as if she became part of something else. Something that was. . . epic. The very fabrics of what she tapped into seemed mammoth to her. She knew not how she did it, how to do it, or why it happened. But she knew when it overtook her. . . she was up for a wild ride.

Ranma himself was extraordinarily confused, though he was doing well so far in minimizing it. He could feel The Technique's hold slipping in on him, changing his mind to aid him. He thought, in a way, that it was almost like a living thing. . . it rushed through every last fiber of his being, aiding him when he was overwhelmed. The Technique gave him the power and strength, in a way, to do anything his body could not. As The Technique took hold of him, he felt his fears slipping away. He knew immediately she wasn't out to attack him, or do much of anything to him. But he could feel her. He felt every last piece of her kind nature, her sacrifice, her losses. . .

He felt something that almost jarred him out of the strength that The Technique gave him. It was an energy so familiar to him that he could've smacked himself upside the head for not noticing it before. The Technique's holds. . . also touched Kasumi. But that meant. . . that Kasumi was an empath. Was that even possible? The Scrolls of Washed Blood made no mention of other empaths, other then they always touched lives in the deepest way imaginable They told that ill will, as well as the desire of others to keep them happy were both equal and unparalleled. He gave a soft smile, matching hers with startling equality, his voice becoming deeper, more mature in the folds of The Technique. This was too important to be embarrassed about. "I have some questions to ask you."


Errr, well. Hmm. Yes. This isn't a masterpiece, this ain't vunderbar, this ain't even all that good. But it is an idea I've had wanderin' around in my head for a few months. if you can make sense of this, I'd applaud your skills. Make the connection and you get a prize. before it's revealed, of course. *walks off, my cloak swooshing behind me as I laugh maniacally*

Ranma: . idiot.