Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½ or any related characters in any way, shape or form.
Author's Notes: technically, it was a tie between this and "Ranma kissed Nabiki when she challenged him to" as to which to do first. However, as several have pointed out, there are already a number of fics out there using both it and the other Nabiki centered "plotseed" I came up with, so I decided to let them both lie to the side for now and focus on the others. Apologies for the delay, but I've been out of town and my beta has had problems of his own.
Chapter 1: Planting the Seeds of a Rosy Relationship
Akane climbed onto the roof, fuming with the anger simmering inside her. Just minutes ago, she had been attacked in her own room by some lunatic calling herself "The Black Rose", apparently the girl she had to fight at the Martial Arts Rhythmic Gymnastics competition in a week. And had her so-called fiancé helped her? No- he'd rather chase her poor little pet P-chan around the room! The stupid jerk hadn't even noticed she was in danger! And then that cackling freak had scattered a cloud of black rose petals in Akane's room before vanishing out of the window, too chicken to stay and fight fair when it was obvious Akane was winning. While she had been cleaning up the mess the maniac had left behind, she'd heard something suspicious on the rooftop, which was why she had climbed up here to investigate. She stopped and stared mutely in disbelief at what she found. There was Kodachi… and Ranma… and the two were about to- oh kami, they wouldn't!
They did. She watched, horrified, as Kodachi pressed her lips to those of Akane's fiancé. Check that, EX-fiancé; if he thought she was just going to sit idly by and let him cheat on her, he had another thing coming! Like magma from beneath a weakened segment of crust, fury burst forth from deep inside her, its burning vitriol infusing her veins and making her vision turn crimson.
"How DARE YOU!"
Kodachi was in heaven. At long last, she'd finally met the man of her dreams- who would have thought this night's ambush would have been so fruitful, even if that Akane girl had proven unnaturally capable? A quick burst of paralysis powder to ensure that he couldn't try and flee, a brief moment to better prepare herself for the ending of her colourless schoolgirl life, and at last she had moved onto that which she had thirsted for… her first kiss…
His lips were soft and warm, a sensation dimly familiar and yet unlike anything she had known before in her life, she idly noted. Before she could analyse it further –or better still, focus on kissing him some more- she heard, dully, a thunderous sound from nearby, though her attention was focused on far more important things. And then she felt a tremendous blow impact into her side, the brutal sensation of something vaguely wedge-shaped driving into her abdomen below her ribcage and propelling her off of her beloved Ranma and into the air.
As she spiralled through the air, she managed to twist herself around that she could both see what had happened and land safely at the edge of the rooftop, though the action pained her bruised side. Where she had been straddling Ranma, Akane was now standing over him, shoulders hunched, fists clenched and face screwed up in an expression of deepest rage.
"Right over my bedroom, of all places! That's it Ranma! The engagement is off! You want that crazy girl, then you can go with her!"
Before Kodachi could voice her opinion of being called mad, the youngest Tendo had seized the still-paralysed Ranma by the ankles, heaved him off of the roof, spun in a full circle and hurled him through the air. Kodachi reacted immediately, with a swiftness that denied conscious thought, that denied even instinct. Her trusty ribbon slipped into her hand and lashed upwards and outwards, arcing through the air to twine about Ranma's waist, whereupon a sharp tug arrested Ranma's flight and brought him down into Kodachi's arms. She staggered slightly beneath his unanticipated weight, and then straightened. Taking a swift look at him, her gaze swept up to transfix Akane.
Slowly, deliberately, she smirked, then inhaled deeply and gave vent to a loud, deliberate laugh- Kodachi personally thought her laugh was distinguished and full of character, and had been quite offended when she'd found out that most others found it at least mildly disturbing. Still, it had its uses, and seeing Akane flinch at the sound was satisfying. With that, Kodachi turned and bounded away, Ranma still in her arms. Behind her, Akane watched them go with a sour look.
"And don't bother coming back!" she called after them.
Ranma's mind was awhirl as he tried to assimilate all that had just happened- that was still happening. Before he was still able to fully comprehend everything, Kodachi stopped leaping, gently bending down and moving him into a seating position on the roof, bending his unresponsive limbs to better suit. She kneeled before him, positioned as closely to him as she could get and looking him in the eyes. Ranma felt a chill run up his spine. Just what was she planning on doing to him, now that she had him at her mercy?
"Ranma-darling… I'm so sorry that harridan interrupted us. Shall we pick up where we left off?"
Ranma tried to respond, verbally, physically, any way possible! But the paralysis powder he'd inhaled still had him completely in its grip, and he was utterly immobilized.
Kodachi leaned forward, ready to give Ranma another kiss, but then stopped dead. Memories of titbits she had read of those magazines her underlings at St. Hebereke liked to read had surfaced, bringing her down a new train of thought. While that first kiss had been sweet, it had been strangely… unsatisfying. Perhaps if her darling Ranma was capable of actually responding, rather than simply sitting there like a warm, soft doll…? Yes… that sounded like an idea. But how to give him the antidote? Then, another memory surfaced and she smiled- that held particular promise… Leaning back, she dug out a small vial of antidote, which she opened and then took a small draught from. She then leaned forward and kissed Ranma again.
Ranma couldn't help but wonder what that fluid Kodachi had just drunk was, but then she was kissing him again and he was too distracted to care much. Especially when the tip of Kodachi's tongue slipped between her lips and probed gently but insistently at his own, forcing its way between them and bringing with it a soft, velvety moistness that trickled down Ranma's throat through the makeshift funnel of their lips. In its wake came sensation, muscles and nerves flaring into life and allowing him to move again- and also to feel what Kodachi was doing, rather than being dimly aware of the pressure. Ranma had never been kissed like this before- in fact; he didn't think he'd ever been kissed, unless you counted that kiss on the cheek that crazy Chinese girl had given him. It was so soft… so warm… and he could taste her too, a sort of sugared spice with a hint of roses. Despite the fact of how he'd gotten into this situation, he couldn't help but note how… good it felt.
And, just as suddenly as it had started, it stopped. Kodachi broke off the kiss and straightened up, wobbling slightly before she managed to catch her balance, a glaze to her eyes and a broad and rather silly grin plastered on her face. Ranma wasn't one to comment, his own expression the blankness of one whose mind had vanished. Hey, he was a teenage boy who'd just been given a rather passionate kiss- more so, he was a teenage boy who had never had any real interaction with women until he moved into the Tendo home and who had never had any romantic interaction even then. Kodachi shook her head, regaining her senses, and smiled down at Ranma.
"Au revoir, Ranma darling. Until we meet again."
With an ecstatic peal of her 'unique' laughter splitting the still night air, Kodachi bounded away. Only one who knew her intimately -a category that consisted of absolutely no one- would have recognized an extra 'spring' to her step as she raced through streets and rooftops with equal abandon, her mind filled with a chaotic whirl of thoughts. Far behind her, Ranma finally managed to snap back to reality, slowly rising up and staring absently in the direction she had vanished in. Unthinkingly, he touched his lips before murmuring to himself.
"What… was that all about?"
He didn't even know the girl- he'd interrupted her assault on Furinkan High's small group of Martial Arts Gymnasts in his girl form, whereupon she'd attacked him, and then he'd saved her after accidentally knocking her out with a kettle while chasing "P-Chan". On a normal day, Ranma would have gone off the mental track there, cursing Ryoga for going along with such a vulgar charade and taking advantage of Akane, and cursing Akane as well for being too stubborn, angry and thick-headed to let Ranma try and explain the truth about her pet. This was not a normal day. Ranma just couldn't get what had just happened out of his mind. He couldn't understand it in the least, but he still couldn't get it out of his mind. Finally, he decided to simply head back to the Tendos and go back to his room and get some sleep- not trying too hard to remember about Akane's declaration or to think about the trouble that would be waiting for him there.
And trouble there was the next day, when Ranma's "indiscretion" came out at the dinner table. His father and Akane's accused and berated him, while the youth tried desperately to persuade them that Kodachi had paralysed him after he'd saved her and kissed him without his permission. He still wasn't sure if he'd actually succeeded –probably not, given the way things had been ever since he and Genma had come to Nerima- but at least they finally stopped shouting and let him grab his lunch and race to school. He was going to be late again, and he fumed at the unfairness of it as Akane, who had slipped out quietly while he was getting yelled at, came into his sight. Pushing himself harder allowed him to finally catch up to her, whereupon the youngest Tendo made a disgruntled, dismissive snort, stuck her nose in the air and started running faster.
"Wait up! Akane!" He shouted.
"Go away, you stupid pervert! Go back to Kodachi- you obviously like them tall, leggy and completely mad!" Akane shouted back over her shoulder. Before Ranma could spit his own rebuttal to that, he noticed something- projectiles of some sort, inbound on Akane. Instinctively he dove forward, grabbing Akane around the waist and thrusting her from the danger zone as the projectiles –a trio of gymnast clubs- drilled into the ground. Akane groaned as her muscles protested the sudden shock, then realised that A: she was on the ground and B: Ranma's arm was still around her waist. She promptly slapped him across the face as hard as she could.
"Keep your hands off me, you perverted jerk!"
As the two glared at each other, having risen to their feet, Ranma naturally opened his mouth to give Akane a piece of his mind, only for a familiar female voice to suddenly interrupt him.
"Vile harpy! Bad enough that you insult my darling Ranma, worse still that you dare to sully the name of Kodachi Kuno, but to strike my beloved after he saved you from my most righteous wrath? Akane Tendo, prepare to die for your outrages!"
The two looked up, and sure enough the Black Rose was plummeting through the air with a massive mallet in her hands. They sprang to the sides as she slammed it home, driving a small crater into the concrete, then pulled it free and advanced on Akane, swinging it viciously and with every apparent intention of driving it home into Akane's skull. Until Ranma sprang on her from behind, his hands shooting past her shoulders to seize onto her arms and wrists.
"That's enough Kodachi! Stop it!"
And, as simple as that, she did, the hammer slipping from suddenly boneless fingers to slam into the ground. Ranma instinctively tightened his grip, expecting her to start struggling, but she didn't. If anything, she did the exact opposite, practically melting into his grip and pressing herself closer to his body.
"Why, Ranma darling… I never knew you were into such things…"
Ranma promptly let her go like she was red hot and darted backwards, Kodachi turning to face him with a rather disappointed expression on her face.
"Why so shy, my love? I am yours, in all ways and in all things…"
"Now cut that out!" Ranma yelped. "I don't even know you!" He paused a second as something suddenly penetrated his attention. "Wait a minute- did you just call yourself Kodachi Kuno?"
"Why, yes. My elder brother goes to Furinkan High School- maybe you know him? His name is Tatewaki."
Ranma boggled in disbelief; this girl, the girl who'd given him his first ever kiss, the girl who had just tried to defend him against Akane -true, her methods needed more than a little work, but she had been taking his side in things- was Tatewaki "Blue Thunder" Kuno's younger sister? He quickly pushed that down into the recesses of his mind- it wasn't important now. What was important was trying to get out of this situation.
"Look, anyway, you can't say that sorta stuff! We don't know each other!"
Kodachi looked hurt deeply, tears beginning to trickle from eyes that, nevertheless, smouldered with a core of anger. "So that moment we shared last night… that meant nothing to you?"
"No! I mean, Yes! I mean!" Ranma stuttered, caught completely off balance. His father had never given him any advice for dealing with this sort of situation, and while Ranma was far from a model of civility, he still had his own rough code of conduct, which meant that he couldn't stand to see a girl -even this one- cry.
"I mean- I, I mean… I'm engaged!" he finally shouted.
That worked- Kodachi's head promptly snapped up from where she had buried it in her hands, the last of her tears quickly drying as her eyes bored into Ranma's like gimlets.
"I tried to tell ya last night." Ranma continued, not liking the look in the girl's eye and desperate to try and placate her.
"You liar!" Akane snapped furiously.
"Butt out Akane!" Ranma instinctively snapped back.
Unnoticed by either of them, Kodachi blinked rapidly as that name began triggering memories. She vaguely recalled meeting her brother in the mansion earlier that week- he had been bruised from head to toe and ranting about someone who'd beaten him in a fight. A fight that had been provoked over the fact that the girl he was chasing, Akane Tendo, had gotten engaged to that mysterious stranger. Connections interlocked and fired and she smiled a sinister smile.
"Akane Tendo… is my darling Ranma your fiancé?"
"He was- but if you want the two-timing pervert, you can have him!" Akane snarled.
Kodachi laughed gently (by her standards). "Tempting as the offer is, I think it would be best to arrange something a bit more legal… tell me, what do you say to this idea? Whichever one of us wins the tournament tomorrow will be the one to get Ranma Saotome."
"What!?" Ranma yelped.
"It's a deal!" Akane barked.
Kodachi laughed again. "Then it is settled! Adieu, mon cher Ranma. Until tomorrow."
Before either of the two could react, Kodachi whirled to face Ranma, darted over and pecked him on the cheek and then sprang away, laughing with glee. Before either of the two could speak -Akane to harangue Ranma for daring to kiss Kodachi in front of her, Ranma to yell at Akane for treating him like some sort of trinket to be bartered- they made out the sound of Furinkan's bell ringing.
"Oh great, we'll be late for sure- this is all your fault Ranma!" Akane yelled in frustration, and then the two were racing desperately for Furinkan.
In the real world (so to speak), Ranma watched his "other self" and wished he could fast forward the images in the mirror- he was pretty sure the next few 'scenes' wouldn't be much different to the way they had been in reality. Apparently in response to his thoughts, the images within the mirror began accelerating and, as he'd predicted, they didn't much change. There was a confrontation between Ranma and Akane in the dojo, Akane ended up tripping over a ball she had been practising with and spraining her ankle and Ranma was promptly drafted to replace her. He was actually tempted to let Kodachi win the tournament, as he and Akane were still fighting, but in the end his competitive nature and his dislike of her attempts at cheating prompted him to claim the victory, something that managed to soften Akane's anger considerably. Still, enough lingered that the two took separate routes back to the Tendo Dojo once the match was over, and it was here that Ranma resumed normal speed and watched to see what happened.
Ranma walked absently along the fences as the sun sank into the west, dying the sky a bloody red. As he neared a particular turn, he stopped and listened: he distinctly heard the sound of someone crying. A girl, from the sound of it. Curiosity piqued, he followed the sound to an empty playground- well, not quite empty. Kodachi Kuno was sitting on a swing, rocking gently to and fro and quite plainly weeping as though heartbroken. Despite himself, Ranma couldn't ignore the girl, and quietly walked up behind her.
"Uh… Kodachi?" he ventured cautiously.
Upon hearing him, Kodachi sprang for her perch and latched onto the startled Saotome boy, burying her face in his chest and, if anything, weeping even harder. "Oh, Ranma darling!"
Ranma rocked back on his heels in shock, but managed to recover and instinctively closed his arms around her in a comforting manner, unsure what he was doing or why, as this was yet another aspect of social interaction he was unfamiliar with. Not knowing what else to do, he simply stood there and let Kodachi cry on him, listening to her sobbing- which seemed to have the odd bit of dialogue mixed into it, mostly a babble of "I'm sorry". Gently as he could, he risked speaking to her.
"Uh… what are you sorry about?"
Not the most comforting of words, but Kodachi seemed to appreciate the intent with which they were given and, after several deep gulps of breath, managed to speak intelligibly.
"I-I-I lost the tournament! I'm sorry Ranma darling! I tried my hardest to win for you, but…" she broke off in fresh sobbing for another minute or so before she managed to calm herself back down. "That wicked Akane Tendo… she hurt herself before the match, so she substituted some spiteful redhaired girl! I bet she wasn't hurt, she just knew she couldn't match the Black Rose of St. Hebereke in a fair fight."
'If you can call the way you fought fair.' Ranma thought to himself, but he kept the words on his tongue. Hey, he might be bad at talking with others, but that didn't mean he was completely stupid! Unaware of Ranma's mental commentary, Kodachi sniffled and continued.
"I- I tried everything, every trick I had, every move, every attack… but she was just too much for me. She and Akane Tendo must have made a devil's bargain before the match; if she won for Akane, she'd get Ranma for herself. It's not like Akane wanted him, she just wanted to spite me but not giving him up!"
Fresh tears welled in her eyes and she sniffled again before finally losing the battle and burying her face in Ranma's chest again.
"It's not fair! Everyone leaves me! First mother, then father, now you!" The words 'fair' and 'you' were drawn out and elongated, virtual howls of grief and anguish. Despite himself, despite the fact he'd seen first hand just what sort of dirty business the girl was capable of, Ranma couldn't help but feel sorry for her. She seemed even lonelier than he was- even he had his father, useless great lump that he was. But from the sound of things, Kodachi had nobody. It touched a chord buried somewhere deep in Ranma's own heart, and he suddenly found himself saying things he never dreamed he would have said.
"I'm still here, y'know. I'm not gonna leave."
That caught Kodachi's attention. Wiping her eyes, she stared at him in disbelief. "But, Akane Tendo…"
"Ain't the boss of me." Ranma said firmly, primarily because it was true- and the fact that she and the others in the Tendo household evidently thought otherwise was one of those things that rankled him most since he'd first come here. "But we ain't been properly introduced. I'm Ranma Saotome… d'you wanna be friends?"
Kodachi looked at him, eyes shining with emotions he couldn't identify, then smiled softly. "I'd like that…"
In the real world, Ranma managed -after some fiddling- to set the mirror to 'skip' to the most important developments of this timeline. He could watch this in more detail some other time- now that he'd seen how things had gotten started, he wanted to see some milestones before moving onto the next possibility. As he watched, he saw a friendship -awkward, complex and oft teetering on the brink of ruin- begin to grow and bloom. As he knew her, Kodachi was a sly, sneaky, bad-tempered and oft-nasty girl with little in the way of morals and prone to insane behaviour. True, he wasn't exactly a moral pillar of society himself, but still at least he wasn't quite so dangerous to others.
In the timeline he saw in the mirror, however, Kodachi began to shed such behaviours and mannerisms that drove him mad (or sent icy fingers racing up and down his spine) and a more… well, likeable girl began to emerge from beneath. In a vicious cycle, Akane grew more and more jealous as Ranma and Kodachi became more and more friendly, her tantrums and behaviour serving to further push Ranma into Kodachi's arms, eventually to the point where Ranma got kicked out of the Tendo Dojo and without hesitation moved into the Kuno estate. To the real Ranma's surprise, Genma didn't protest at all- in fact, he actually eased off of complaining as Ranma and Kodachi got together, and when Soun made his final declaration, he left his former friend's household without so much as a word of complaint. Ranma wondered if that meant that maybe there were some traces of decent father material buried in Genma after all.
Or maybe he just decided that the filthy-rich Kunos made for better in-laws than the dirt-poor Tendos.
That wasn't to say things were all wine and roses- when it finally came out that Ranma and "the pigtailed girl" were one and the same, it looked like the relationship would collapse. Somehow though, they managed to get back together- and Kodachi offered to let Ranma use her money to fund a trip to Jusenkyo to get himself cured. He refused it, partially due to the chaos that resulted when the other Jusenkyo-cursed demanded their 'piece of the pie'. They learned about each other, encouraged each other and generally supported each other, something that Ranma hadn't experienced from any of the girls in his timeline. When the mirror decided that one notable event was the first time Ranma and Kodachi became… 'intimate'… Ranma quickly deactivated the mirror, satisfied with what he'd seen.
With that timeline explored, and the rain still pouring down outside, Ranma decided to examine another one. Once more he stared into the mirror, into which images began to swirl…
Okay, and that's the first oneshot done. As mentioned before, please read and review- and when you review, leave a vote for the seed -or seeds- you would like me to tackle next. It's perfectly fine to vote for the same seed in multiple chapters; reviews asking for it indicate interest, and interest is what spurs me to write my heart out. To see what seeds are available, check the endnotes of the very first chapter of this story. If you have more seeds, which need to be based on the anime canon, then please submit them via review or PM- remember, I'm asking for moments/events that could have gone differently and affected Ranma's relationship with one (or more) girls other than Akane. As things currently stand, the next seeds to sprout are, in order: Ranma loses to Mousse and Akane kicks Mousse's butt, Ranma loses at Snow Mountain, Ranma-chan got pushed out of the ring during her fight with Kodachi/Shampoo and Ranma won the hotsprings race at Zekkyo, and Maomolin's plan to turn Shampoo into a cat worked/Ranma said "I love you" to Shampoo during the Reversal Jewel/Ukyo managed to talk with Ranma during the Girly-Girl Gambit. So please, review and let me know what things you want to see!
Here, by the way, are some new ideas that have been submitted/developed; consider these an addition to the list in the prologue.
-Kodachi sneaks back to the Tendo house that first night and finds the still-paralyzed Ranma abandoned on the roof.
-Ranma finds out how much Ukyo is hurt after "Swimming with Psychos".
-Nabiki never found out about Ranma's revenge plan and went on the date he asked her on instead of sending Akane.
-When Shampoo & Ukyo are fighting over the enchanted Ranma during the Love Bandage fiasco ("Ranma the Lady-Killer"), Ranma tries to stop things by signing both of their marriage licenses while they're distracted.
On a final note, if people express interest in a specific oneshot (primarily by making reviews/PMs on the subject), I'll consider "developing" it into a full-blown series, as I did with A Different Route Taken.