Once upon a time, I started my fanfiction writing career with a story called Most Unlikely of Friends. Over the course of it's creation I rewrote it several times, changing many a thing. Well, I finally got it done, but since the second extension of the story I've switched over to prose style from the original script style, and frankly I can't stand reading script anymore so I'm going to give this story a wee bit of a face lift. For the most part I plan to keep the existing story intact, with some obvious edits, and a few added scenes for some clarity here and there (often I planned to talk about stuff later but never got to it, so might as well fix it up in the first place). However, there are going to be some revisions, hopefully for the better, either due to the new format, or more simply because I've thought up something I think is a bit better that still fits. I'll try not to pull a Star Wars: Special Edition here, but one can never tell.
Just some pattern notes
Okay, that should be all, so read on in good health.
Ranma 1/2: Altered Destinies, Most Unlikely of Friends
It was just one of those days.
It was one of those days that made Shampoo wish she had not gotten out of bed that morning. Oh, it had started well enough, but as of this moment Shampoo was ready to declare the whole day a total loss.
It was unfortunate too. Shampoo had been given the day off work by her Great grandmother, and had decided to use her free time to get Ranma on a date. Her chances weren't the greatest. Actually, they were abysmal, but she knew this. Without some kind of bargaining chip, Shampoo had not really managed any significant time with Ranma, but it never hurt to try. Besides, she was increasingly coming to the conclusion that unless she did get Ranma on a date without any strings attached, she'd never make any progress with the boy.
So, she set out that morning to seek out her love and ask him out with the help of a little fresh ramen to appeal to the boy's heart through his stomach. It turned out she found him wandering the neighborhood shortly after an argument with his supposed fiancee and he was quite angry with her. Shampoo had read enough stories about using such a time to get an opening that it seemed that she just might have gotten lucky today, but such was not the case. She was just in the process of asking him out when said same fiancee showed her face. She immediately had one of her usual fits at seeing Shampoo together with Ranma and proceeded to douse them both with a bucket of cold water.
Shampoo hated that. Two cursed transformations immediately followed the dousing and Ranma, who was deadly scared of cats, did not take it well that Shampoo, now a cat, was hanging onto his arm, and bolted down the street. Unfortunately, at the break neck pace Ranma was going, Shampoo could do little but hang on until Ranma slowed enough for her to jump off. Naturally, it took Ranma nearly 10 blocks to finally ram square into a wall which ended up knocking both of them cold.
By the time Shampoo came to, Ranma was long gone. Worse still, by the time she got back to her clothes, they were either missing, or ruined by passers by. Needless to say, Shampoo was not happy.
She had finally made her way home, transformed back to normal and got herself a fresh set of clothes, but her optimistic mood of the morning was shot to pieces. In fact, it took a great deal of self control not to grab her sword and go fiancee hunting. However, she restrained the urge, and instead set out to calm herself with a walk through the market.
It was one of those days that made Akane wish she had not gotten out of bed that morning. Oh, it had started well enough, but as of this moment Akane was ready to declare the whole day a total loss.
The day had started with such promise too. Akane had been practicing for weeks, with the aid of her late mother's cookbook, to cook up the perfect meal. Well, not really. It was a simple cheese omelet. She had wanted to try something more involved, but after some friendly persuasion from her aunt Nodoka and Kasumi she had restrained herself down to the simpler stuff.
Even that, however, had taken her weeks to get right. She had botched it so many times that she was becoming incredibly discouraged, but with a great deal of patience, and following the instructions in the cookbook to the letter, she had finally got it right and was ready to show it off.
And what was that jerk Ranma's reaction to several weeks of her effort? Him and his stupid father knocked the newly finished dish directly into the family pond and ruined it utterly. Needless to say, Akane was furious. An inevitable argument broke out, which ended with Akane chasing Ranma out of the house.
However, given an hour to calm down, Akane was just about ready to forgive him. It was after all an accident, and now that she knew how to do it, she could simply make another. So, sucking up her pride, Akane had set out to find Ranma and apologize. Well, it didn't work out that way.
Instead of finding Ranma mopping about, she found him gleefully eating some Ramen provided by a certain Chinese hussy. Akane's mood was already tenuous to start with and this sight was just too much for her. So, she had grabbed a bucket of water and doused the pair of them. The result was instantaneous as both were transformed and with Ranma being deathly afraid of the Chinese girl's cursed cat form, she ran off, with the other still holding onto him.
Akane didn't stick around to see the aftermath, and simply headed off home, although she didn't make it. About half way there she ran into one of the few things in Nerima that could annoy her more than Ranma, Kuno. After kicking him into the stratosphere, she found herself near tears from so much frustration in one day so she changed her destination to the local marketplace to cool off.
So, it was thus that these two girls were soon both making their way through the crowded market, neither in a good mood, and neither aware of the other's presence in the same place. Such was soon to end, though, as both soon caught sight of a new business in the neighborhood. It was a jewelry store, with a wide assortment of colorful and no doubt expensive articles on display.
For Shampoo, it was a welcome distraction. When she spotted it, she immediately headed inside, thinking that if nothing else, perhaps she could get herself something nice to make up for the miserable day she was having.
Akane was more pensive. Her family was not exactly rolling in money, so she doubted she could afford anything, and besides that she was not one to go around in such expensive things anyway. However, in the end curiosity and the need for something to busy herself with got the better of her and she headed inside using a separate door.
Neither noticed the other enter, and both were soon engrossed in examining the wares around them. Each girl was walking down opposite sides of a display when they at last ran into each other at the end, and the look they gave each other promised a lot of trouble.
Off to the side, watching the whole scene, a man smiled and said to himself. "Looks like I'm on."
"What you do here?" Shampoo demanded after a moment, looking for any excuse from the other girl simply to clock her and get some satisfaction for earlier.
"I'm just looking around. That okay with you?" Akane responded back in challenge, not about to be threatened by the amazon.
A tense moment followed, each girl subconsciously clenching their fists in readiness for a fight. However, with no further words, better judgment temporarily won out as Shampoo turned away with a huff. Akane soon echoed the gesture.
At that moment the man arrived, brimming from ear to ear with a wide smile which he greeted the two girls with. "Hello ladies. May I help you two?"
"Actually, we're not together," Akane pointed out, somewhat calmed.
"Oh, I see," the man replied thoughtfully and looked at each girl, both doing everything they could not to look at the other. "But, you do seem to know each other," the man implied with a raised eyebrow.
"Shampoo know Akane, but no like!"
"Same here," Akane responded in kind, finally causing the two girls to turn back and eye the other angrily.
The man simply continued to smile as the silent confrontation went on. "Out of curiosity, does this have something to do with a common love interest?" The question surprised both girls, causing them to momentarily forget the other and focus on the man. "Ah, such things can easily get in the way of friendships."
Both girls looked shocked at the very notion. "Shampoo no want be friend with Akane," Shampoo was the first to say, sneering at Akane as she did.
Akane returned the look. "Who would want to be your friend anyway?" Akane asked rhetorically which only served to anger the amazon more.
"Ladies, please, there is no need for that," the man interjected, sensing the anger between the two was nearing its boiling point. "Just because you two are in competition with one another does not mean you have to be enemies."
"Who said anything about being in competition? She can have the jerk for all I care," Akane said with a huff, but Shampoo was not impressed and let out a disbelieving laugh.
"Akane lie! Akane do care for Ranma, else why so jealous?" Shampoo asked, easing a little of her own anger by twisting the screws on a subject she knew Akane hated. She got the appropriate reaction as Akane turned sharply to confront her.
"What?" Akane exclaimed. "You're nuts if you think I actually like that pervert!"
Sensing an opening, Shampoo pressed on. "If do not, why keep Ranma from Shampoo?"
Akane was temporarily caught by her own words. She hesitated then changed topics. "You just think you can take anything you want?"
"Ladies, please," the man again urged from the side. 'This is may be tougher than I thought'. Both girls spared the man a glance, but finally turned their back on the other in disgust. "Don't you both think you'd be much happier if you could just put aside this hate?"
"It's her fault!" Akane accused. "She's always around where's she's not wanted-"
"Shampoo no care what Akane want!" Shampoo countered. "Ranma is Shampoo's husband."
"He is not!" Akane retorted, turning back to Shampoo, but Shampoo refused to face her.
Before the confrontation could escalate any further, the man once again interjected. "Come now, look at want this is doing to you both. I'm willing to bet both of you would be much better off if you could just get along."
Both girls momentarily looked at each other as they mulled over this proposal. Akane responded first by saying, "I'm willing, but Shampoo..." She shook her head as she trailed off.
Shampoo was momentarily surprised by this. It was not the response she was expecting from her rival. Not to be outdone, Shampoo quickly spoke up. "Shampoo can do, Akane can not."
Hearing a clear challenge in the words, Akane grew angry once again. "Hey, it's you who is always causing trouble!"
"Do not!" Shampoo countered.
"Hah, Akane just jealous!" Shampoo taunted.
"Stop saying that! I am not jealous!" Akane replied angrily.
"Please, please, ladies, there's no need for this," the main said as he finally stepped between the two. "Couldn't you both just put aside your differences for a while," he asked each girl, giving them both a concerned look.
The anger flowing between them continued for a moment, but slowly eased as each girl considered the proposal. Again Shampoo was surprised as Akane was first to speak.
"It won't work but I could try," the youngest Tendo said, eying Shampoo in a way that said 'like you would say that'.
Shampoo again found herself beat to the punch by her rival. The subject matter did not matter to her. Being bested by Akane at anything was just not to be allowed. So, it took only a second for Shampoo to nod and add her own consent. "Shampoo willing."
Nodding approvingly, the man turned and headed over to a nearby counter. "Good. Just stay here for a moment." The girls watched as he looked through the cabinet and finally came up with a pair of bracelets, each ornate and polished to a fine golden shine. One was decorated with long serpent-like dragons coiled together, looking out in a proud manner. The other was decorated with falcons, together in flight. Handing the dragon bracelet to Akane, and the falcon bracelet to Shampoo, the man began to speak.
"Those, girls, are called the bracelets of friendship. Surely a loose translation of their true title, but perhaps an apt one. It is said, long ago, that the leaders of two warring states had these two bracelets made as a gesture so that they might end the senseless conflict with each other. On the day they exchanged them, the war ended, and the two enjoyed a lifetime of friendship with the other. Some even claim that the good will that existed between the two was instilled in these very bracelets and that any two people who willingly exchange them will become lifelong friends themselves."
Both girls looked at the bracelets skeptically as the man finished the tale. "Of course, that's just a superstition, but I've never had cause to test it out. What do you say? If you really mean to give getting along a try, I'll give you those bracelets on one condition, you exchange them, just as those leaders once did."
Again both girls looked skeptical. The bracelets were clearly expensive and would no doubt make valuable possessions. There seemed no true mystical properties to them, but one could never be sure. After a moment, both girls looked at the other in consideration.
This time it was Shampoo's turn to surprise Akane as the amazon stretched out her hand, offering her bracelet to Akane. Akane remained uncertain for a second. 'What's there to be afraid of?' Akane asked herself, and coming up with no answer, mirrored Shampoo's gesture.
The two girls completed the switch, and feeling no different, turned to the man. "Now that wasn't so hard was it? No, of course not," the man said with a smile.
"Are you sure we can keep these? They must be very expensive," Akane asked.
"Priceless, but I'm sure."
"You very generous," Shampoo said with a smile.
"Think nothing of it. My payment is to see two people end an unnecessary quarrel. Now, is their anything else I can help you two with...?"
A short while later, their moods modestly improved, the two girls left the jewelry shop and went their separate ways. Neither they nor the passers by noticed as the jewelry store began to fade out, replaced by an empty room.
The man remained for a moment, nodding to himself. "Good luck girls. You have a rough road ahead, but I think you'll like the results."
"Yeah, we'll see, won't we," a mysterious female voice added, to which the man only nodded as he too faded out.
That night Akane was lying in her bed wearing the bracelet of falcons. She still felt no different than when she started the day and as such was ready to dismiss the whole legend as a fanciful tale.
'Me and Shampoo friends, I don't think so. We'll be fighting within a week,' she thought to herself as a yawn overcame her. She rolled over to her night lamp and turned it off. "Oh well," she said quietly as darkness enveloped her. As she drifted off to sleep, though, she couldn't help but feel just a little disappointed.
Across town Shampoo was in a similar state of readiness for bed, also wearing her bracelet. 'I wonder if the legend is true?' she thought as she laid back, no stranger to the mystical herself. Yet, she too felt no different towards Akane than when the day started, so she quickly dismissed it.
'Akane's always in my way. I could never could like her,' she thought with a frown, but it didn't last, replaced soon with a slightly sad look. 'Though, I'm tired of fighting all time, might be nice to stop, to have a friend,' she thought, remembering just how isolated she felt in Japan a lot of the time. 'But Akane...' Shampoo shook her head, and closed her eyes, soon falling asleep.
Some time passed as the night dragged on and both girls slept soundly. Then the two bracelets began to glow dimly in unison. The glow gradually increased in intensity but neither girl was awoken by the light. Finally the glow filled each girl's room and in a flash, they were gone.
Approximately ten years ago, the Tendo home was being consumed by misery. It had been just a short few days since the funeral for Kimiko but the passage of time seemed to do little for the pain of the loss. Soun was currently in his room, regarding an old photo of Kimiko from a happier time. She was smiling, a smile that would normally light Soun's heart, but since her death all he could think when seeing it is realize how he would never see the real thing ever again. Try as he might, he could not seem to shake the despair. Adding to his depression was knowing that his daughters were in need of his support at this time, but he just couldn't find the strength to support even himself. Everything he tried only seemed to intensify the feelings as old memories overwhelmed him. Even the ultimate refuge, his martial arts, failed him, as every time he went to the dojo to burn off a little energy he would remember the times he had shared with Kimiko in that same dojo. It was simply too much to bear.
Setting the picture on the nearby dresser Soun thought to himself, 'What am I to do, Kimiko? I just don't think I have the strength to go on without you.'
Outside, Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane Tendo were gathered around the common room table of their house each looking little better than their father. While Kasumi sat reading her mother's old cook book which she had stumbled upon earlier that day, Akane and Nabiki sat staring out at the pond. Silence ensued as each girl pondered their new life. The tears were now done with, used up at the funeral. All there was left was to move on.
"Where is father?" Kasumi asked the others to break the silence that was gripping them.
"In his room, I think," Nabiki responded and sighed. Kasumi could only nod in response as once more silence gripped them.
The mood was finally broken by a knock on the door. All three girls got up, and Kasumi took the lead to see who it was. She opened the door to greet an older man in a suit who looked down at them with a smile. For just a second Akane thought she knew this man, but could not say how.
"Hello girls, is this the Tendo residence?"
"Yes," Kasumi responded.
"Who is it, Kasumi?" Soun called out as he came down the hall.
"Ah good. Is Kimiko Tendo home?" the man asked and gained numerous downcast looks from the girls. The man looked confused as Soun came up.
"I'm sorry, Kimiko is... was my wife. She passed away a week ago," Soun explained.
"Oh goodness, my apologies," the man said in honest regret. "We've been trying to contact her for several... but of course, I'm sure you've been busy. My condolences. I will return-"
"No, it's alright," Soun quickly said, looking for something to distract himself. "What is it you came about?"
"Well, your wife entered a poetry contest about a month ago and her entry won the second prize."
"Really?" Nabiki said aloud, looking a bit cheered up, but was quickly silenced by her father with a wave of his hand.
"Yes. Of course, as her husband you are equally eligible to accept the prize. I know now is not-"
"It's alright. What is the prize?" Soun asked.
"A one week holiday in Hong Kong. The ticket is good for you and your whole family." The Tendos were surprised by this, and the girls looked up at their father quizzically, wondering how he would respond. "Unfortunately the trip leaves in two days. I could see if I could reimburse you for the value-"
"No," Soun said suddenly, and looked down at his daughters. They exchanged a long look and finally the father looked back up with a weary smile. "I will take the ticket. It is Kimiko's last gift to her family, and there is no reason to waste such a gift."
The man returned the smile. "Of course, I'll see to the arrangements immediately."
A one week trip to Hong Kong soon turned into a small excursion into nearby China, which then turned into a nine year trip throughout China and the Far East. So, when a certain young martial artist arrived in Nerima, he was in for a bit of a change.
A few quick notes as we bring this part to a close. I've added in a bit of explanation for just how the Tendo's ended up in China. This is one of those things I always intended to explain better, but never did. Not much else to say here except special thanks to Ganheim for pre-reading and such.