Disclaimer: Nope, don't own Ranma, not gonna make any money off this.



Chapter 1

Three little words, three little words were all it took to get him up here. He stared at the stars above, feeling the tiles of the roof push into his back, hoping the dew on the roof wouldn't trigger his change as it sometime did.

Ranma Saotome, the best there is in martial arts, the one who killed a god, lay on the roof of the Tendo Dojo trying to understand how those three little words unhinged him so. Until today, he may have admitted that he didn't know much about girls, school, or many other topics, but the one thing he was sure of was what he was going to do, heck what he had done, with his life. Ranma Saotome was going to be the best martial artist there is, and that's all there was to it.

Well...at least he thought he knew what he wanted, until earlier today...

"People, people, place your bets..." yelled Nabiki. This was sooo great, over the past few months, every bizarre martial artist in Japan felt the need to challenge the "Legendary Saotome". Oh, things had seemed quiet enough for the first few weeks after the failed wedding, and her sister and Ranma started getting along for the first week or so, but then things seemed to slip back to normal. Granted, even she had to admit that Ranma seemed to be trying, but face it, he just didn't have the people skills that were necessary when dealing with "her highness" Akane. It was the same old pattern of Ranma trying to explain his actions, Akane starting to blow, and then Ranma providing the final fuel for the Mallet powered explosion.

Ranma stood in the field near school facing the latest in a long series of challengers. It seems that word had spread about his battle with Saffron, and every conceivable martial artist in Japan decided that there way to fame was to defeat Ranma. True, with each battle, Ranma continued to develop more and more skills. It seemed that with each battle, the absorption of new techniques just got easier and easier...

"Now I will prove my superiority!" shouted the newcomer.

Ranma watched with amusement as the young man took of the cape that was draped around his shoulders. Under the cape, the youth wore a form fitting gi, with a bright yellow sash around his waste.

Ranma stood in his usual ready stance, letting the newcomer have the first move. His opponent led with a flurry of snap kicks that Ranma easily blocked. The challenger then switched to a series of punches that were at least at Amaguriken speeds.

"Wow, he's really fast" said Akane.

"Akane, you've got to be kidding, that's how fast Ranma was last year. He's not even close to Ranma's speed now." Nabiki commented.

As if to prove Nabiki's comments true, Ranma was easily blocking the blows of his opponent. "Is this all you have to offer?" he taunted.

"Alright, I was trying to go easy on you, but now you will know defeat! I learned this move recently as I was secretly watching a sensei and his student." The challenger cupped his hands in front of him and called out "Ka-me-ha-me-HA!" and shot the beam of energy squarly at Ranma.

There was a blinding flash of light as the beam struck Ranma. He didn't dodge, or even seem to try to block the attack. As everyone's eyes slowly started working again, they were amazed to see Ranma still standing, a few wisps of smoke rising from his body, but otherwise unharmed.

"What! That's impossible! There is no way you could just take that attack!"

"That's because I didn't block your silly attack" smirked Ranma. "I've finally figured out how to aborb a Ki-based attack instead of letting the energy slam against me. Hey, it's just life energy, if a body can create it, a body should be able to absorb it. It's just a matter of attuning your own Ki to be of the same frequency of your opponent. I'd like to play more with you... but I have a few errands I need to run" Ranma blurred forward and with his right hand, struck the young man in the chest.

His opponent seemed to launch himself away from Ranma, through two trees and into the brick wall 100 yards away. He lay there unmoving. Ranma turned away and walked back toward home.

"Feh, that wasn't even a workout" Ranma said to Akane as he was walking back toward the Tendo's.

"Oh yes, the great Ranma! We're so lucky you're here!" snarled Akane. "I am so tired of this parade of challengers. I could take any of them as easy as you could" she harrumphed.

"I doubt it." whispered Daisuke. He was walking a few steps behind them, and Ranma grinned as he overheard his comment. "If there is one thing Ranma can do, it's win martial arts fights".

"Yeah", his friend grinned, "It's just like we were talking about at lunch, a regular One Trick Pony".

"Quiet!" snapped Daisuke.

"What?" said the unknown boy, "What's he going to do, cut me down with that acid wit of his? Heck, if I were a martial artist, I'd have something to worry about, but he won't do anything to me for just words, heck, he can't even deal with Akane, more less a stranger."

"I don't care, he's still my friend...so just can-it!"

Ranma heard the brief exchange, but he had never heard the term "One Tick Pony" before, but based on the other comment, and the feeling in his gut, he felt he didn't like the sound of it... But what could you do about it, after all, they were just words, and it wouldn't be honorable to confront a non-fighter about his behavior, what could he do?

Ranma and Akane walked on in relative peace, neither one saying much as they made their way home. Akane thought something might be bothering Ranma, but more likely he was thinking disgusting thoughts about Shampoo or Ukyo or Kodachi or ...

As they walked through the gate of the Tendo's Home, Ranma finally asked "Hey Akane, you ever heard of the phrase 'One Trick Pony'?".

"No. Why should I? It sounds perverted!" she said as she took off her shoes. "It sounds like something you'd like to do with Shampoo or Ukyo! I'm going up to my room to have some peace and quiet. Why don't you stay down here for a while with your sick fantasies.." she said as she stomped off..

"So boy", Genma bellowed as he saw Ranma. "I heard Nabiki talking. Sounds like you once again protected your fiancée. Sounds like we should be making plans for a new wedding, eh Tendo".

"Exactly!" Soun chimed in "Finally the houses can be joined!"

"Protected!" shouted Ranma, "It had nothing to do with protecting her, I had another challenger today. This is getting old! These fools are hardly worth the effort any more"

"Old! It is your honor bound duty to defeat any challengers to our school." said Genma.

"Honor! I am so tired of hearing how and why I have to all that I have to do because of Honor. Lately these challengers haven't even come close to be interesting, more less a real challenge." said Ranma as he walked into the next room. 'I used to look forward to battling new people, but now it's just the same old thing..' As he turned the corner, he saw Nabiki sitting on the chair. 'Should I ask her about that phrase?' he thought. 'I know she'll charge me, but something tells me I need to figure this out'. If anybody could fill him in, she could

"Say Nabiki..." started Ranma.

"500 Yen" Nabiki cut in without thinking.

Ranma sighed, and reached into his pocket, pulling out the small amount of money he had. "Here you go. I heard something today, something that I hadn't heard of before. Have you heard of the phrase 'One Trick Pony'?"

Nabiki, the self proclaimed Ice Queen of Furinkan, tried desperately not to smile. 'So he finely heard about it' she thought, I knew those fools couldn't keep their mouths shut for long. "One Trick Pony? Where did you hear about that?"

Ranma felt an uneasy feeling in his stomach. Nabiki was good,...very good, but the time he'd spent living with her had allowed him to sometimes see beyond the mask she so expertly wore. Fortunately, this was one of those times, and he could tell Nabiki not only knew what he was talking about, but was somehow amused by it. "Oh, I overheard one of Daisuke's friends mention it. He was talking about me, and it sounded like other people have heard of it too."

Nabiki glanced at the clock...4:45..she'd have to check who won the pool she had going on when Ranma would get wind of his new nickname. "Well, I think that it's an American term. It refers to a horse that is really great at one thing, one 'trick', and one thing only, but for everything else it is worthless." There, let's see if the Saotome mental engine could put two and two together. She doubted it, but every once in a while, Ranma did manage to surprise her.

Ranma stood there trying to understand what that had to do with... "Wait, are you saying that people think I'm a One Trick Pony?"

"Oh come on Saotome!" sighed Nabiki. "Let's tally up the things you are good at, and the things that you are not. And to make it fair, I'll even ask you how you think you stand! What about school?

"Who cares about school? I don't need that stuff?"

"I'll take that as a 'not'. What about girlfriends?

"I can handle them!" protested Ranma.

"Oh give me a break Saotome, you have what 3, 4 fiance's. You can't choose a single one, you string each one on, and more likely than not, each one wants to pound you when they see you. Your female skills are definitely in the 'not' category."

"OK, maybe you have a point" consented Ranma.

"Alright, next category, money making skills?" asked Nabiki.


"Can you build things? Carpentry?"


"Do you do any volunteer work?"

"You know I don't have time for that and training too!"

"Do you have any male friends?"

"Hah! I've got you there! There is Ryoga"

"Oh please" bemused Nabiki. "Mr. 'Die Ranma! I've seen hell and I'll make you pay!'? If you consider him a friend you're worse off than I thought. I've watched you two, if he could knock you out of the picture and get Akane for himself, you'd be gone yesterday!. When it comes down to it, when has he ever helped you just for the sake of helping a friend? I know you've helped him several times, but I've never known him to do anything for you. It's always under the guise of 'helping Ranma to get rid of his curse' when all he is doing is trying to get the Naanichuan water for himself."

Ranma stopped for a minute. "You know about P-chan?"

"Of course, do you think I'm as blind as Akane? Kasumi, Daddy and I had a little talk along time ago. After Daddy saw P-chan go in the furo and Ryoga come out, he had the common sense to talk to Kasumi and I about how to handle the situation. We decided that it is between you three, and for us to get in the middle will only make it worse for all of you...and us!" she concluded.

"Ok, ok, so I don't have any real male friends, keep going"

"Alright, what about hobbies?"

"Beyond martial arts? No"

"Do you like to read?"

"Right, like a martial artist needs to be well read..."

"How about cooking?"

"Just what I learned from Pop, enough to get by"

"Man-amongst-men?" now we get a bit trickier thought Nabiki.

"Well, uh..."

Ah now here is where I set the hook.. "What about Martial Arts?"

"Duh! of course! How else am I going to be the best!" returned Ranma

"I rest my case. I present to you, Ranma Saotome, the Wild Horse, also known around town as the One Trick Pony."

So that was the phrase that got him up here. "One Trick Pony." After Nabiki had told him about the phrase, he walked off, and decided to perform some of the katas that helped him relax. He was relatively quiet through dinner, and decided to come up to his room afterward. And what a surprise...he ended up on the roof.

"One Trick Pony..."

Somehow, the image of some poor animal, proud of its accomplishment, but oblivious to the amusement of those around him made him sick to his stomach.

"One Trick Pony..."

Is that what his father had done to him? Made him so focused on being the best that it was costing him everything else. Lately, even he had thoughts of where his prowess at Martial Arts was taking him. His father and Mr. Tendo kept saying how the houses would be joined, and that he and Akane would get the Dojo, but then what? How could he teach students? Or even more amusing, how could Akane, with her hair trigger temper teach students either. All he was familiar with was the bizarre training techniques used by his father, and even he knew that nobody else would ever tolerate the methods his father had so willingly used.

"One Trick Pony..."

What did he really want? Was being the best there is really what he was shooting for. Heck, he could already tell he was almost at the top, and what was it getting him? A lot of pathetic challengers, and no new challenges left.

"One Trick Pony"

Ranma had spent so long focused on the one thing in his life that he had cared for, that he couldn't begin to figure out what he really wanted in life. But he knew one thing for sure as he drifted off too sleep, it wasn't to be a One Trick Pony an longer.

In his dream, he saw himself standing in the middle of a large ring...a circus ring! His father was the ringmaster, with Soun and Akane as clowns. His father cracked a whip and he started running around in the circle. As he jumped over obstacles placed in front of him, the crowd cheered, giving him a sense of satisfaction that he was the best. That is until he realized that he wasn't running on two legs, but four! As the whip kept cracking, he ran faster and faster. Soon the show was over and he was ready to rest, but Genma and the two clowns hustled him into a stall. "Can't let you get distracted, before the next show" Genma laughed! Soun and Akane walked away with the ringmaster, leaving Ranma alone and empty...