Author's notes: Yet another story that refused to leave my mind. James Axelrad has kindly gone through and given very helpful comments regarding the story.

Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma ½ or any of its characters.

The Twining of Two Souls

By: brindani

Chapter 1: A Spirit Banished… or not

"Take this, fiend!" Cologne cried, to Ranma's evil girl side's horror, a long white ward was reveal between two wrinkled fingers. She saw it only for a moment before it flashed towards her.

There was no time to dodge or evade. She only had one chance. Taking a deep breath, she blew with all her might. For one agonizing moment, she thought it wouldn't be enough. She was relieved when the ward halted, fluttering safely away.

"Oh, no you don't. You've had this coming for awhile." Akane screamed snagging the ward from the air.

'Damn, the uncute one has it.' The she demon shivered, realizing that Akane had stumbled upon the one thing that could hurt her. Realizing that this battle was lost, she jumped away to make good her retreat. It was no good, however, as Akane followed after, the dangerous ward clutched in her hand. 'I've got to get her away from me long enough to escape!' The spirit thought, throwing a hasty kick. In slow motion, she watched as Akane neatly dodging before slamming the ward home.

She was falling uncontrollably. She didn't notice, the ward easily stole her attention. No matter how she wanted, she couldn't touch the thing. Her fears were realized as a pulse of pain erupted through her body. Every second multiplied the pain ten full. In mere seconds, she felt as if a shooting pillar of lava had immersed her. The very essence that made her her seared away by the relentless ward. She screamed to the heavens stumbling away from the group that coldly looked on. 'The pain!' it was all she could feel, it was her existence. Her breathing became labored as she desperately searched for relief, anything. Staring at one person after another, she found only cold hard stares returned. Finally, her frantic eyes rested on Ranma. His face pained as he watched.

"Ranma, my love, please save me!" She pleaded; she would willingly be his slave if only it would stop the unrelenting agony. Relief flooded through her as her beloved reached out an arm. She would be saved!

"Don't do it." Akane said solemnly, restraining Ranma.

'No!!!' The spirit cried in despair, her last hope thwarted by that sexless tomboy! And then there was no time for pleading as pain beyond sensation engulfed her, her very being shattered by the ward. Her outline soon faded away.

"That was close." Akane said turning back to Ranma, grateful that he had not become a slave to his girl side.


Long after the group had left, a faint wisp of an outline appeared next to the tree. Kneeling on her knees, the redheaded girl cried her eyes out.

"My love," she whispered into the wind. "It hurts so much, my love." The outline shuddered as it stopped crying, standing up with a pained expression, she faded into the night.


Back in Ranma's room, Happosai edged away from the luminescent panda spirit he had inadvertently summoned.

"Have fun my boy," the old pervert laughed, dashing for the window. He had enough of everyone stomping on his head for one night.

"Don't you dare leave me with your mess," Ranma exclaimed, making a grab for the little pervert. He was far too slow as his hand only clasped his blurred after image.

"GGGRRROWWF"

Ranma instincts kicked into overdrive as he ducked, rolling away from the spirit's powerful swipe. He frowned as he slowly backed away from the advancing specter. 'This doesn't look good,' Ranma thought to himself, remembering how nothing physical had affected his own evil side.

The looming panda followed after him, an evil smirk spread across its features as it advanced. Ranma's eyes grew wider when his back bumped into the wall. He frantically looked around only to find that all escape was cut off.

'This not only doesn't look good, this is starting to look very very bad.' Ranma thought tensing for what would likely be the fiercest fight in his life.

Unnoticed, the clock ticked midnight.

"What the…" Ranma said blinking in surprised as the spirit turn translucent, vanishing before his eyes. Warily watching the space his tormentor once occupied, he shuddered. "This isn't going to end well." Ranma repressed a yawn as he shrugged his shoulder. "At least this time it's only Pops that has to worry about becoming a living zombie."

SLAM

Ranma dropped like a sack of potatoes behind a sign that read 'QUIET!'


The night settled as the calm of the household was interrupted only be an occasional snore by the large martial artist Ranma called Pops. Almost an hour after his sudden introduction to sleep, Ranma received another visitor. At first, it was only a simmering in the air. Slowly, the shimmer grew more substantial into a vague outline. Ethereal red locks waved in the windless room as Ranma's transparent girl-side appeared. Gently floating to the floor, her eyes fluttered open. Heartbroken blue eyes settled longingly onto the resting pigtailed youth.

For several long moments she stood there watching her beloved, anguish rising through her being. Her weighted heart grew heavy as she fell to her knees. "Why must we be separated, my love? All I ever wanted was to be joined with you." She sobbed silently, gently attempting to place a hand on his. Her tears redoubled as her hand passed through his without resistance.

"I can't even hold your hand at night," she said, tears trickling down her cheeks.

"Mmmm, don't cry. Everything will be all right." Ranma mumbled in his sleep, rolling towards the specter.

Startled, the girl sat up.

"Ranma still wishes to be one with me as well?" Her sad smile slowly changed into happiness. The spirit stared down on Ranma's face lovingly before emotion clouded her thoughts. "But how? That horrible ward removed my ability to anchor myself with my love." Her brows lowered, pouting cutely.

She blinked as her resolve firmed. "If I can not be one with you literally, I'll become one with you in another way. Wait for me, my love." She whispered lightly hovering a hand over Ranma's cheek. She stood silently, walking straight through the sliding door.

Once exited from Ranma's room, the spirit scanned the hallway, finding three doors with cute little name tags.

Ranko moved to hover in front of the first. Squinting through her tears, she read the name plate: Nabiki. Slowly, she shook her head. "Nabiki has done nothing, but cause pain for Ranma since he arrived. My love is worthy of so much more." She whispered into the empty air.

Floating further down the hallway, she stopped in front of the next door. Her eyes flashed with anger as she examined the little duck. "Akane Tendo" The spirit spat, shaking in rage. 'She may have purged me of evil, but the intense agony I suffered I would not wish on the most wretched of lowlifes. I can never forgive Akane.' Abruptly turning away, the spirit arrived at the final door. She tilted her head in consideration. 'Kasumi,' the spirit stopped, thinking back to the many times the gentle girl had offered Ranma care when no one else would.

Slowly drifting through the door, the spirit found a very cute room filled with knickknacks placed neatly throughout the room. Off to the side, rested Kasumi's peaceful form. Her quilt tucked to her chin, which even in sleep, held a serene smile. The spirit reflected that smile, moving to hover over the body.

She stared intently into that peaceful smile highlighted by the rays of the pale moonlight streaming through the window.

"You have always helped Ranma whenever you could," The spirit whispered. With a nod of her head, the spirit turning around in mid-air, descending into the body, slowly disappearing.

Kasumi's eyelids shot open, an eerie luminescent red flooding the room. The light lasted only for a moment as she slowly shut her eyes, once again returning the room to the night.


The next morning was very peaceful. Birds were chirping, the sun's warm touch peaked beyond the trees-tops. Yes, a nice peaceful day. At least until Akane became impatient.

"Come on Ranma, if you don't wake up now, we are going to be late." Akane shouted unhappily as she slid Ranma's door open. Frowning in disgust, Akane found two nearly identical lumps of blankets and pillows strewn about.

"You have to wake up, Ranma. I don't want to be late again." Akane said, a hint of pleading entering her voice.

"Don't wanna," Ranma mumbled, stuffing a pillow over his head.

A small concerned frown appeared on Akane's face before shifting into frustration.

"We don't have time, spirit or not, drained or not, you have got to wake-up now." Akane screamed.

"Akane, Ranma, breakfast time." Akane turned to Kasumi's gentle voice which drifted from below.

"See, now get up before…" Akane blinked as she found two blankets flop back to the ground. "What? Where did they go?" Shrugging her shoulders, Akane walked out of the guest room, heading downstairs. She was almost surprised to find both Ranma and Genma salivated at the table. Almost that is.

"Seriously, you two idiots can't be woken up by a hurricane, but the smallest mention of food and you're stumbling over each other to get to the table."

Ranma hardly spared Akane a glance, enthralled by the goddess of cooking entered the room, expertly balancing two platters in each hand. Lightly she placed them onto the table, gracefully taking in her usual spot. Each person thanked her as she served everyone a bowl of rice. Franticly, Ranma started to scarf as much life giving food as possible. He abruptly stopped as something in the back of his mind registered.

Taking another look at Kasumi, Ranma found that she wore her standard housedress with a tired but still serene smile. His frown grew as he found her eyes looked even more tired than the smile.

'Shoot, Kasumi looks like she didn't sleep well last night. I hope she's all right. Maybe something kept her up?'

"I'm all right Ranma, but thank you for your concern; I guess I just didn't sleep as well as I usually do." Kasumi answered, eating at a sedate pace.

Everyone around the table, especially Ranma, stared at Kasumi.

"Um, Kasumi? Ranma didn't say anything,"Akane said, giving Kasumi a concerned look.

'Though I did think it, that's kinda strange.' Ranma thought to himself.

"Is that so, I could have sworn I heard something," Kasumi said, delicately picking up a pickle with her chopsticks.

Everyone else around the table returned to their food, casting concerned looks at Kasumi periodically.

Ranma gave the pleasant girl twice as many glances. Something felt… different about her. He wasn't sure what though.

Finishing up his rice, Ranma was about to ask for seconds when he found a heaping bowl held before him.

"Here you go, Ranma."

Ranma blinked before gently taking the bowl.

"Uh, thanks Kasumi."

"Your very welcome," Kasumi answered in reply, shining a tired but very bright smile.

Ranma paid no head as half of his rice disappeared under his nose by several decisive strikes from his Father. He was caught up in watching Kasumi's slow deliberate motion as she ate, each bite appreciated in a way Ranma had never known.

'Something that I can't quite…'

"Oh no! We're going to be late!" Akane cried as she noticed the clock. "Come on Ranma," Akane called, grabbing her case before running out the door.

"Oh shoot you're right," Ranma said, completely distracted from his thoughts. He quickly stood, frantically searching for his own satchel.

"Here you go Ranma." Turning around, Ranma found Kasumi with a worn but sincere smile, his book bag held out.

"Oh, thanks Kasumi." Ranma responded, quickly taking the satchel.

"Have a good day at school." Kasumi called as she watched Ranma shoot towards the door.

Ranma stopped short, hesitating a moment before turning back to Kasumi.

"Get some rest, ok Kasumi? I'll try helping with the chores when I get home." Ranma then turned around, quickly disappearing from sight in his bid to catch up to the dot receding into the background.

Kasumi walked to the door, watching Ranma leave with a soft smile.

"I'll do that." Her eyes flaring red before settling to their usual serene chocolate brown.


Author's end notes: I do apologize in advance for how small this chapter is. It did include another scene, but James Axelrad pointed out that the other scene did not end nearly as well as this did.

Originally this was intended that the spirit would go for Ukyo, but after some heavy thinking, Kasumi seemed like a much better prospect.