The Name's Tendo Akane, And I Don't Lose

Summary: What if Akane's mother hadn't died? What if Soun took his youngest daughter's interest in the art seriously and trained her to become the best she could be? And what if canon Ranma's wish on the Nanban Mirror accidentally dropped him off in this backwards reality? Well, chaos would ensue, naturally.

Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma or anything else I may happen to reference. I do own the ideas in my head, though. Those are all mine.

Chapter 8

"Wait! No! You can't leave me like this!" Ryoga called out to Akane as he struggled inside of Shampoo's glomp and she walked away with a satisfied smirk on her face.

Akane gave a sidelong glance back toward the new couple and offered a quick thumbs up before making a hasty exit. Now that that ordeal was over with she wanted to get as far away from the scene as possible so she took to the nearest roof top and began her sprint across town. She darted gracefully across the Nerimian skyline on her way home and was already nearly halfway there when a mid air collision brought her speedy travel to a halt. She and the black clad figure landed in a heap in the middle of a busy street during an evening traffic rush. Akane's quick reaction saved her head from being rolled over by a vehicle that obviously needed to have it's brakes checked out by a mechanic. Her somersault brought her back onto her feet in short order and in time to see what could only be described as a ninja be sent flying twenty feet by the impact of the car she had narrowly dodged.

Konatsu skidded across the pavement and rolled to a halt beside a vehicle that was parallel parked in front of a dry cleaning shop. He groaned as he tried to shake off the mild concussion he knew he had and reached inside his road rashed tunic to make sure the mirror hadn't been damaged. He panicked when he realized it was missing and forcefully sprung onto his feet before visually scanning the area for where he may have dropped the important artifact. Unfortunately, the people who had hit him had parked their car and put on their hazard lights, on causing quite the scene. Several onlookers also had their cell phones out and were most likely calling the cops. Cursing his luck, he threw down another smoke bomb and pulled a vanishing act to save himself from any further attention.

The youngest Tendo stumbled blindy down the sidewalk as she fanned the smoke away from her face with both hands and nearly tripped when her foot got caught on a mirror laying face up on the pavement. She immediately paused to crouch down and pick up the mirror. Her eyes sparkled with interest as her reflection winked at her from within the mirror. Suddenly, she recalled the story about the mirror that Ranma's whole situation supposedly revolved around. Several seconds went by as she considered the possibility. 'Nah, the odds of this being the same mirror are slim to none. It's pretty nice though ... I think I'll keep it,' she decided before gripping it firmly and taking off in the direction of her house.

A certain ninja snuck out of the back door of the dry cleaners in a fresh disguise just in time to see Akane leap away with the mirror in her possession. He also saw her drop something by accident before disappearing from view. Konatsu smirked as he picked up the girls wallet and inspected the contents. Her identification card had her address printed on its face in bold. He quickly pulled out his phone and used its gps function to map out the directions. If he played his cards right, he could get in and out of there without risking another conflict or having someone uncover his identity. Operation Discreet Mirror Recovery ... yes, he liked the sound of that. He quietly congratulated himself on coming up with a cool name for his plan before adjusting the hem of his new skirt. The damn things always seemed to ride up whenever he had boxers underneath ...

-o o-o o-o o-o o-

Ukyo couldn't help but notice that Ranma was getting slower and sloppier with his roof hopping the longer they went. It had been nearly thirty minutes since they had gone on the hunt for the ninja named Konatsu. Ranma had given her the low down on the guy's background as well as a pretty detailed summary of his life and the events that had brought him to this reality. She had to admit that most of what he said seemed really far fetched and, if not for seeing his future double in person, would have dismissed every word as nonsense. Seeing how badly out of shape he was, she was surprised he had been able to relate his story and not pause to catch his breath while they cruised the roof tops.

Ranma cursed his weak body as his lungs burned for air and his muscles screamed bloody murder at him. He pushed the pain to the back of his mind with a tremendous amount of will power and continued to push his body forward. He was well aware of Ukyo slowing her pace so as not to pass him and mentally sighed. If he was so worn out that Ukyo had to slow down to match him then there was no way he'd be in any shape to fight when and if he finally tracked down Konatsu. As it was, he had lost Konatsu's trail about ten minutes ago but had kept on pushing in hopes of getting lucky and picking it up again. He didn't want to tell Ukyo and risk looking like a quitter either so he had kept on going.

Just as he was beginning to reconsider calling it a night, he botched a landing onto a slanted roof top and rolled his ankle before tumbling over the edge. He quickly reoriented himself in preparation to hit the pavement but was surprised when Ukyo intercepted him and helped him to the ground. She slung his arm over her shoulder and helped him limp back onto the sidewalk in front of a house across the street from the canal. He was about to open his mouth and thank her, but the sudden rush of cold water landing on him caused him to flinch. Ranma-chan looked over her shoulder and saw the old lady standing on her front door step holding an empty bucket and ladle with a surprised look on her face. "We must be close to Akane's house," Ranma surmised with a half lidded glare aimed in the old lady's direction.

Ukyo's eyes popped as she registered what had happened to Ranma. "Y-you're a ... a girl now?"

"Oh ... did I forget to mention I have an ancient Chinese curse? Silly me ..." Ranma trailed off with her best impression of non-chalance. "Cold water turns me into a girl in case you missed it and, yes, they're real. Could you please stop squeezing my chest?"

Ukyo quickly removed her hand and tried to hide an embarrassed blush with it. "Sorry," she replied. "I didn't think things like this could happen in the real world. I guess this means I have no choice but to believe all of the crazy things you've told me so far. Wow ..." she added after a pause. "Is everything ... you know ... down there ..." she said with a wave of her hand in the general direction of Ranma's crotch.

"What the ... do you need a peep show to be satisfied or something? It's none of your business, okay?" Ranma replied defensively.

Ukyo's face got at least three shades redder before she shook her head vigorously and gave Ranma an apologetic bow.

"Anyway, I lost Konatsu's trail so it's best if we just call it a night. I don't know if you've had time to make arrangements for a living space, but you're welcome to crash at my place for a while."

"I haven't, actually," Ukyo replied. "Thanks."

"Don't mention it. It's the least I can do for dropping in on this reality and screwing up your chance to get revenge on me and my old man. Sorta ..." she added.

"Oh ... that's okay," Ukyo replied with just a hint of uncertainty remaining in her voice. "I'm kind of glad things turned out this way instead. Now that I'm here, I realize how much I've missed this ... the two of us having an adventure together, I mean. It really takes me back," she said with a deep reminiscent sigh.

"Hey, don't start getting all mushy and nostalgic on me, all right?" Ranma said in a playful tone when she noticed Ukyo's eyes begin to shimmer slightly. "I'm technically not even the person you're remembering," she added.

Ukyo exhaled a half laugh half sigh as she caught herself in a moment and blinked the watery vision out of her eyes. "Thanks," she replied.

"You're right, though," Ranma said. "Those were the good 'ol days ..." After another moment, Ranma continued. "I just realized something. Because of me and my stupid old man, your childhood has been shitty in at least two realities, that I know of, and yet you were willing to let go of your grudge both times. You're a real good person, Ucchan. I'm really glad we got to be friends," Ranma said with the utmost sincerity as she made eye contact with the taller girl who was currently helping her stand with a strained ankle.

Ukyo's eyes shimmered again as she smiled back at the red head. She shifted her giant spatula to the side before ignoring Ranma's protests and hoisting her friend onto her back, piggyback style. "Stop whining, Ranchan. I'm carrying you back and that's final. If you got a problem with it, take it up with me after you can walk properly again."

-o o-o o-o o-o o-

Akane sighed as she plopped down onto her bed before continuing to gaze at the reflections within the mirror. She didn't know why exactly, but she found it increasingly difficult to look away from the mirror for more than a few minutes at a time and it only seemed to be getting worse. She had all but ignored her family upon entering the house and trekked up the stairs to her room without a word. She was aware that her mother was nearly done preparing dinner and would be expecting her to join everyone downstairs very soon but she was so entranced with the mirror by now that she hadn't even blinked in the last two minutes.

After a few more minutes of zoning into the mirror, her mother knocked on her door just as expected and asked that she join everyone for dinner. Akane finally managed to blink and turn her head toward the door before opening her mouth as if to voice a reply. She failed to break the silence and turned to look back into the mirror just as it began to glow. Her eyes grew wide and she was about to shout but was sucked into the mirror before she had the chance.

"What the hell is this place?" Akane asked no one in particular as she took in her surroundings. She stood on an infinitely flat solid white ground with a pitch black sky on the horizon in all directions. She jumped when she felt someone poke her left shoulder from behind. The kick she lashed out with by reflex was easily caught by an identical clone of her and held firmly so she couldn't move. "Who are you?" Akane asked as she struggled against the other girl's grip.

"I am no enemy of yours if that is what you are concerned about," the Akane duplicate replied. "I am merely a spirit in need of protection and I sense that you possess talents which could be of great help to me," she added before releasing her grip on Akane's ankle. "I humbly request your assistance and will grant you a wish if you manage to keep me safe."

Akane squinted her eyes and scrutinized the spirit that wore her visage as she considered the offer. She made sure to keep her guard up and be ready for action just in case things got heated though. "You obviously have abilities of your own if you were able to transport me to wherever this is and copy my appearance," Akane said. "What would someone like you need protection from?"

"There are people ... many people ... who wish to exploit my power for evil purposes and have the means to do so. I do not have the ability to refuse the wishes of those who know how to use my power. However, I do not desire to be used in such a way that causes widespread harm and I intend to use every available option I have to avoid falling into the wrong hands. The ninja you ran into earlier intended to deliver me to an organization that has, in the past, used me for terrible things. Please, I am not above begging for help," the spirit asked, humbling herself in a deep bow.

"Wow, I guess I haven't seen everything weird out there," Akane said. "Well, you certainly seem desperate enough and I can definitely kick anyone's ass if they pose a threat but I get the feeling there's a catch involved with helping you. So, what is it?"

"Very perceptive," the spirit replied. "I like that. I need you to be a temporary vessel for me. It would be a symbiotic relationship with benefits on both sides of course. You would function as my cloak and dagger until I feel satisfied that I am no longer in danger. In addition to granting you a wish at the end of our partnership, I will give you limited access to my power to enhance your abilities as long as we are together. Does this intrigue you?"

Akane shrugged. "Eh ... why not? Might as well do it. This way if anyone ever asks me if I've played host to a magical spirit I can answer with a 'yes I have'. Never hurts to be well rounded, I suppose. Just as a heads up for you, if you turn out to be a demon in disguise, I will so thoroughly disembowel you that there won't even be enough of you left to get stuck in the tread of my shoes."

The spiritual clone of Akane almost cringed upon hearing that but was able to shrug it off and get down to business. "If we have an agreement, then I will proceed with completing our connection and return us to your normal plane of existence."

"All righty, let's do this," Akane said. "I don't want to be late for dinner."

When Akane was returned to her room, she noticed that the time on her clock hadn't changed at all. The mirror she had been holding also seemed to have disappeared. Before she could think further on the situation, the voice of the mirror spoke to her inside of her head and reminded her that she didn't want to draw attention to herself by being late to dinner. So, she quickly gathered herself up and joined everyone downstairs.

Dinner was spectacularly well put together, as usual, and everyone proudly thanked Rumiko for doing a splendid job. The meal was otherwise uneventful. That is, until the bell they hung at the entrance to their compound was rung to alert them of an unannounced visitor. Kasumi, who had already been on her feet to go bring more tea volunteered to answer the door. She reappeared a few minutes later with a cute young woman trailing behind her.

Konatsu resisted the urge to smirk upon seeing the girl who had stolen the object of his interest. He schooled his features to appear meek and non-threatening as he pulled Akane's wallet from behind his back to show it to everyone while Kasumi explained that he was a nice young homeless girl who wanted to return Akane's lost wallet. Akane smiled politely as she accepted his offering and just as he was beginning to think his plan wasn't going to work, the family invited him to stay for dinner.

Before long, everyone had become very chatty with their guest and ate up the sob story that Konatsu was feeding them almost as quickly as they devoured their meals. By the time everyone's plates were empty, they had been so moved by Konatsu's plight that he had been extended an invitation to stay the night or however long it took them to find a suitable women's shelter for him to stay in. All was going according to plan.

When nightfall finally came, Konatsu donned his ninja attire once again before sneaking out of the guest room they had allowed him to stay in. He trekked stealthily up the stairs and towards Akane's room. When he arrived at the door with the yellow duck hanging from it, he carefully rested his ear against its surface and listened in for several minutes. The soft rhythmic breathing he heard assured him that Akane was asleep. Grinning beneath his mask, he ever so gently turned the knob on the door and pushed it open before creeping inside. After softly shutting the door behind him, he proceeded to silently rummage through her belongings in hopes of finding the mirror.

"Need help finding something?" Akane whispered over Konatsu's shoulder.

"Nah, I got this," Konatsu whispered back before mentally slapping his forehead. "Crap ..."

Akane had the cross-dressing ninja pinned before he could even blink. "You know, for a homeless girl, you sure have a well muscled chest. You didn't think I would actually fall for that pitiful disguise did you?"

"How in the hell could you have known?" Konatsu asked as he struggled against Akane's tremendous strength. "I'm a master of disguise."

"And I'm a master of reading auras," Akane replied, lying through her teeth. She wasn't going to tell him that it was the mirror who had alerted her to his presence. "It's child's play for me tell the difference between male and female ki. Your deception skills really need work, pal."

"Then, you know why I'm here?" he asked.

"Not a clue," she lied again. "Care to enlighten me?"

"I'd rather not," Konatsu replied as he redoubled his efforts to break Akane's grip.

"Well, you're no fun, are you?" Akane mocked before striking a pressure point on Konatsu's neck to knock him out.

After the ninja went limp, Akane proceeded to carry him downstairs and out into the yard before securely tying him to the tree nearest the koi pond. She yawned after double checking her work and decided it would be safe enough to leave him alone until she interrogated him in the morning.