Standard Disclaimer here. IE I dont own the material I am using as a base. That said the story is mine. If you want to save it, feel free, if you want to post it somewhere else message me.

It is night time in Japan, off a shore in the middle of nowhere. Here on the beach, the waves lap and the story begins with something quite unusual. How unusual you ask? Does a red headed girl using a panda as a surfboard count? If it doesn't, you need a new definition of abnormal.

"Come on pops!" The girl, Ranma, shouted. "You can do better than that!"

The two had apparently built up some decent speed. This was evident by the loud crunching sound the panda made as it smashed into the beach, grinding up on it several meters. Ranma hopped off when they stopped, grinning at the panda that was her father Genma. The panda itself stayed still for a moment before leaping to its feet, a sign in its hand.

'Ungrateful boy!' could briefly be seen on the sign before it was swiped at Ranma , who avoided it with a slight lean. The other side of the sign, now visible, proclaimed 'Oh, how could you so exploit your poor innocent father!'

Ranma just shook her head at the panda, laughing. "Innocent my butt! I'm just working off some of your bad karma!"

Genma would probably have continued to attack his child under normal circumstances. As it was, he simply slumped down to the ground with a groan. Heaving big breaths, he looked for all the world like a panda skin rug. Blinking a few times at the uncharacteristic sight, Ranma moved closer to her father and kicked his body once or twice.

The sign popped up again. 'Get some hot water boy!'

Snickering to herself, Ranma simply shook her head. "Stupid pops. Making us swim all the way back home."

Turning away and placing her hands behind her head, unconsciously outlining her large breasts as she did so, Ranma simply walked off. "I wonder if there are any shops open nearby."

The other side of Genma's sign went unread. 'Wet Fur + Sand Not fun!'

A better look at the beach that they had washed up on made Ranma doubt that there was any hot water nearby . It was off season for swimming, and the beach was deserted. That was probably a good thing considering how the two looked, Ranma decided. The appearance of a dripping wet red head and one panda would be enough to draw a crowd, much less their means of arrival.

"That the town?" Ranma squinted at the far away lights. "We really washed up in the middle of no where."

With a sigh, Ranma began to jog. Though jog would probably be the wrong word to call it considering her speed. At that speed it took at most a few minutes before she arrived at the outskirts. The windows were all dark and, considering the size of the buildings, this was a very small town. That put the odds of finding an open store at this hour difficult to say the least.

Just as Ranma was about to head back to her father she spotted it. The house really didn't seem like it was open, but there was something about it that made her approach it almost without realizing it. Small, two stories, with a gate, and a courtyard. Ranma would have ignored it, but almost without thought the gate swung open at a light touch.

"Huh?" Looking at her fingers like they where part of something else, Ranma just stared at the house with a bewildered expression. Then with a determined expression she marched up the path and stopped cold.

There in front of her, just now coming into sight was a woman. Thin and ethereal, she was pale, with long inky black hair, and dressed in a loose flowing yukata. Lounging back in a set of cushions she took a deep breath from a lit pipe, blowing out the smoke.

"Welcome." There was a kettle in front of her, with two tea cups.

Every hair on the back of Ranma's neck stood up then, though she couldn't tell you why. Smiling nervously she just backed up slightly. "Do ya think I could have some hot water? I can get outta your way after that."

The woman simply smiled. "Of course, the kettle is yours to take, but I would like to have something in return."

Backing up even more, Ranma's smile became even shakier. She wasn't scared, really. "Like what?"

"Nothing much, simply a story. Perhaps of how you got that curse of yours?" The woman gestured at the teacups. "But first, names. I am Yuuko, Yuuko Ichihara." Yuuko smiled then. That smile was both comforting and set every off every warning light in Ranma's head.

"Gurk." Ranma's smile froze, before she visibly shook herself. Yuuko didn't carry herself like a fighter, and besides she had done nothing to threaten him. "Ranma Saotome." The responding smile threatened to undo the any ground he had gained against the sheer uneasiness Yuuko was inspiring.

Taking a deep breath Ranma sat herself in front of Yuuko, reaching forward to grasp the kettle and pouring it over her head. The hot water ran down her body, washing out the red hair, and standing in front of Yuuko was now a black haired boy. Shaking his head slightly to get out the excess water, Ranma blinked his eyes, somehow not surprised at the lack of reaction from the enigmatic woman in front of him.

"There ain't much of a story to it really. Place called Jusenkyo in China, I fell into the spring of the drowned girl. Hot water guy, cold water girl." Ranma shrugged then, and tilted the kettle a bit to see if there was any water left. On seeing that there was, he got to his feet.

"Thanks for the kettle by the way." With those words he turned away, ready to go.

"Your story telling leaves much to be desired." Yuuko rose, ignoring the way Ranma froze at the movement. "But a story is a story. Enjoy the kettle, Ranma Saotome." Almost as an afterthought, she said a last few words. "I can remove Jusenkyo's taint by the way."

Turning slowly Ranma swallowed, restraining himself with an obvious act of will. "Let me guess, you want something in return?"

"Of course, this is a shop that grants wishes." Yuuko looked up to the sky, placing her pipe at her lips. "If you can pay the price."

"The price?" The kettle bent slightly under his grip.

Letting out a slight breath of smoke, Yuuko smiled enigmatically as she looked at the young man. "I have need of a knight, so the price is simple. One year, no more, no less."

Ranma blinked a few times before he took a deep breath. "Deal."

Genma poked the campfire sullenly, grumbling silently to himself. Bad enough that the boy was taking so long, but why, oh why, did sand have to get everywhere? He was even hesitant to get out the spare tents and other items right now. He despised making more work for himself. Any further thought was broken by a kettle clanging against his head. With a slight groan, he toppled over, hitting the ground with a light thud.

Of course, being a Saotome meant that no mere kettle would be keeping him down. With ferocious bellow he lunged to his feet, waving a sign. 'Oh what abuse you subject your poor father to! Oh the shame of it all!'

Ranma just looked up at his father, before he poured the water from the kettle on him, washing away the cursed form and revealing a heavy set man. "Just cause I gotta talk to you old man. Otherwise you would be staying furry."

"Talk? What have you gotten into now boy?" Genma sighed, sitting next to the fire.

"Some creepy lady offered to cure my curse." Ranma shrugged, crouching at the other side of the fire. "I figure it's an offer too good to pass up."

"WHAT?!" Genma leapt to the air, lunging at his son. "Where?"

Leaping backwards and avoiding the first strike at his head Ranma smirked. "Yep! Of course you might not wanna try it. She wanted a year from me in exchange." Jumping over a leg sweep and using the follow up to back flip a few feet away, Ranma kept his smirk.

"A YEAR! Foolish boy!" Genma lunged at Ranma again, this time serious. "I can't let some charlatan con you out of a year of training. Besides, we have obligations!"

Twisting to the side, Ranma casually kicked out, not surprised when it was blocked. "You are free to take it up with her if you wanna pop." What followed next was a blur of punches and kicks.

"Stupid boy, she is just trying to get her talons into you. She probably doesn't even have a cure." Genma growled at his son, leaping up into the air and watching Ranma follow him.

Laughing, Ranma used his father as a springboard, sending his father down towards the ground, and launching Ranma up into the air. With a flourish, he spun a few times and both combatants landed a few meters away from each other. "Nah, Yuuko is being honest, unlike my lying father."

Genma paled. "Yuuko? Yuuko Ichihara? You talked to HER?!"

Ranma blinked at his father, confused at the sudden shift. "Yeah?"

"And you promised a year?" Genma paled even further if that was possible at the positive response.

"You know her pops?" Ranma blinked at his silent and unmoving father. "Pops?"

"Well then, heh, heh, heh." Genma went to the packs they both had carried all the way from China. "I will accept this arrangement." His gait was oddly stiff.

"Whats up pops?" Ranma darted to his father's side. "How do you know Yuuko?"

Shuddering, the heavyset man just lifted up his pack, rummaging through it. Thankfully the waterproofing had held up, so most of the items in their pack were dry. With a flourish he pulled out a piece of paper. "I want you to visit this place when you have time away from that witch."

"Witch? Pops, what the hell is going on?" Ranma was now very confused. That didn't prevent him from catching several books thrown his way.

"I expect you to keep your edge when you are with her. That includes studying." Genma's face could be granite for all the emotion he was expressing now. "Those are old books, but they will have to do. No boy of mine will fail at what he is doing, that includes service to that witch."

"Pops?" Ranma blinked a few times, holding onto the piece of paper and glancing at the address.

"Ranma my boy, you are on your own for this one." Genma had a tear in his eye as he patted his son's shoulder. "Try to come back to me in one piece."

Bemused Ranma watched his father hurry off. That had been a rather strange conversation. In fact he couldn't remember a time when his father had acted like this at all. Finally he looked at the paper in his hand before placing between the battered book pages.

Ten years of constant training, sporadic and often times spotty education, pain and suffering, triumph and despair. Genma had honestly tried his best, but the physical had always been his priority and it showed in his child. And now, his father was leaving him because of a name. Ranma was honestly not sure whether to laugh or to cry.

Blinking a few times Ranma shook his head. "Later pops." He chuckled. "I will be sure to visit eh?" With that he picked up his pack and made his way to Yuuko's place.

Behind him the sun slowly began to rise, and a small kitten chased a butterfly on the beach where they had washed up. Ranma smiled and laughed.

It was a good day.