Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2, and all related characters, are owned by Rumiko Takahashi, VIZ Communications, and any other owners of this trademark present or future. This is a work of fanfiction, and may not be distributed commercially. Although there is no explicitly adult content in this fanfiction, like the original material it contains references to nudity and some adult situations, and should be rated T/PG-13.

"The Saotome Sisters"

by Richard Ryley

A petite, teenaged girl slid down the street, coming to a halt in the intersection. Her red hair, tied in a pigtail, was soaking wet from the rain. So were her clothes, which were somewhat masculine in appearance, a blue shirt and darker pants in a Chinese style. As she fell into a martial arts stance, prepared for the threat, a giant panda approached her. It somehow struck a pose itself, raising its paws to strike.

"Well, I still say this whole thing sucks! Engaging us to be married? Without even asking?"

The panda, of course, said nothing. Instead, it launched an attack on the girl, which she quickly sidestepped. The watching audience would have tried to get out of the way of the fight, if most of them hadn't been stunned into inactivity by the sight of a karate using panda. The girl tried to avoid them, but she was forced into the crowd of bystanders, and fell to the rain slick ground.

Before the panda could move in, though, a new figure leaped at him. This martial artist appeared to be a boy, with long brown hair, tied in a ponytail. He wore a red shirt of a more obviously Chinese design, and black pants. As the figure spoke, however, her soprano voice revealed her to also be a girl.

"Stay outta this, Sis!" the new girl yelled, as she nailed the panda with a kick to the head. "I'm the one Pops is picking a fiancée for!"

"That's even worse! A girl you don't even know!" She turned back to the panda. "Forget it! We're going back to China! So suck on that, Old Man!"

The crowd murmured at this. First of all, there was a panda on a rampage attacking young girls. A panda that knows martial arts. That might have a logical explanation but girls getting engaged to other girls? Against their will? Okay, that's just crazy...

The panda regained his feet, as the redheaded girl severed a street sign with a slash of her hand. She picked it up easily, wielding it as a weapon. As the redheaded girl leaped at him, the panda countered, wrenching the sign out of her hand and clobbering her with it. He slung the girl over his shoulder, while the ponytailed girl pounded on him from behind.

"Cut it out, you stupid panda! Sis! wake up! You gotta wake up!" The panda took off charging down the street, while the girl gave chase, screaming for the panda to stop.

"Kasumi! Nabiki! Akane! Come quickly! I have news!"

Soun Tendo called his daughters into the family room of the Tendo home. As they sat at the table expectantly, he looked out over the koi pond behind the house, looking smug.

"I have just heard from an old friend of mine, Genma Saotome. He and his son Ranma have been on a voyage of training. They recently crossed over into China, but are returning to Japan, and coming here. If one of you three girls was to marry him, and carry on this training center, then the Tendo family legacy would be secure."

"An arranged marriage?" Nabiki looked annoyed, but as if she were trying to find an angle in it for herself.

Akane was merely furious. "Hey! Don't we have some say in who we marry?"

"Now old is he?" Kasumi said. "Younger men bore me."

Nabiki eyed her father carefully. "What kind of guy is this Ranma? Is he at least cute?"

Soun feigned an overly happy laugh. "I have no idea. I've never met him."

There were further protests from the girls, but the conversation was interrupted by noises from the gate. Calling out that it must be his old friend, Soun ran for the door, followed closely by Nabiki. They soon came running back down the hallway, however, as a huge panda bear followed them, holding a young girl over its shoulder.

"Old Man!" The pigtailed girl yelled. "Put me down! You're scaring them spitless!"

As the panda and the girl came to a halt on the engawa, the brown haired girl charged in behind them. She slammed into the panda, not expecting it to have stopped so suddenly, and fell back on her bottom. Scowling, she climbed back to her feet.

"Daddy," Kasumi asked innocently. "Is this your friend?"

Soun shook his head. Nabiki yelled at him, a little overwhelmed. "Oh, so this panda just decided to visit! Happens all the time!"

The panda had set the redhead down on the floor in front of him, and turned to the girl behind him. He fell into an attack stance again, and the girl with the ponytail did the same. Before they could move, though, Soun spoke to the redhead.

"You wouldn't be... Ranma Saotome... would you?"

The girl's blue eyes widened. Her mouth opened, but before she could speak, the other girl shoved past the panda. "Hey... I'm Ranma Saotome!"

The redhead looked at the lanky figure in the Chinese clothing, and her eyes widened even further. "Ranchan?"

The taller girl smiled at her sister. "I got this."

"But..." the redhead looked afraid. "But you're... And I'm..." She pointed at her "brother's" chest. "What about..."

Ranma blushed, but turned back to Soun. "I'm Ranma Saotome."

The redhead muttered, "We're gonna be sorry about this."

Soun had hugged the "boy". "At last, you've come! It's so good of you to come!" He squeezed Ranma tightly, but Nabiki was eyeing both girls carefully. Tapping her father on the shoulder, she pulled him away.

Nabiki studied Ranma's chest for a long moment. Finally, she unbuttoned the red Chinese shirt. While she was not nearly as generously endowed as the redhaired girl, there was no doubt about what Nabiki found there. "Ranma isn't a boy, Daddy. 'He' is a girl."

Soun fainted.

"Oh, poor Daddy," put in Kasumi. She quickly set about trying to pull out a mat for her father to lay on, and Ranma and the redhead helped Akane lift him onto it.

"What's the big idea trying to fool us? Did you think we'd believe you're a guy?" Nabiki frowned at the so-called boy. It was too bad, too, he would have been kind of cute as a boy. He had the most expressive blue-green eyes...

"Hey, who says I'm not a..." Ranma was interrupted as her sister hit her. The little redhead then blushed and looked down at the floor, a movement echoed by the taller girl.

"It... uh... wasn't really my idea..." Ranma said. She looked very uncomfortable, and kept glancing at her sister for support. The redhead looked as embarrassed and intimidated as Ranma, however.

Akane finally spoke up. "Don't blame Ranma, it was probably his... her father's idea. I mean, look how she's dressed, her father obviously raised her as a boy. We'll just have to wait and talk to Mr. Saotome, and see what he says."

The two girls glanced at her, then at each other. "We know you're Ranma," said Akane, "so who is this? Your sister?"

Ranma looked at her sister and swallowed. "Oh, uh, yeah. This is... well, she ain't really my sister, but Pops adopted her and brought her along to train with me."

The redheaded girl laughed in embarrassment. "Yeah, hi. My name is Ukyo Kuonji."

"You're not Ranma's sister?"

"No. Ranchan and I met when we were six. My father asked his Pops to train me as well. So I've been following them around on the road."

Soun had finally come around. "But... Genma said that he had a son," he said, still lying somewhat stunned on the mat.

"Do you see a son here, Daddy?" Nabiki grabbed Ranma's breast and squeezed it.

Ukyo slapped at Nabiki's hand. "Hey! Watch what you're doing to..." She blushed hotly, then looked at the ground. "... his... um... her body..."

Nabiki smirked. "His body? Are you confused about the difference between boys and girls too?"

"Leave them alone, Nabiki!" Akane had noticed how uncomfortable the two girls had become, and kind of liked the way the redhead had stood up for her sister. "Ranma and Ukyo are our guests!"

"I'm Akane." She smiled at Ukyo, then met the more turquoise eyes of Ranma. "Do you two want to be friends?"

The look of surprise and hope in Ranma's eyes was a bit unexpected. "Friends... ?" she muttered.

Ukyo had begun to smile as well. She put a hand on Ranma's shoulder. "Yeah, we'd like that... wouldn't we, Ranchan?"

Ranma looked suddenly fearful. "But..." He glanced at Ukyo.

"It'll be all right. You'll see."

The ponytailed girl grinned. "Okay. Yeah, friends."

"You two are martial artists, right? Wanna join me in the practice hall?"

For the first time, the brown haired girl's eyes lit up with excitement. Her mouth quirked in a smile of challenge. "Sure!" Then she looked at Ukyo. "Unless you'd rather..."

Ukyo snickered. "Naw, Ranchan. You can go first. I'll just watch."

The three girls headed for the dojo, while Akane's two sisters tried to browbeat their father for more information. None of them paid much attention to the panda as it made its way down the hall to the furoba.

Akane came into the bathing room, stopping to throw her clothes into the hamper. She noticed the red and blue outfits both lying there. "Good," she said. "We can all take our bath."

The sparring match had certainly turned out to be interesting. She had not expected the two girls to share her interest in the Art, but Ranma had turned out to be unbelievably good. At first, she hadn't even fought back, although Ukyo had snapped at her, which stopped her from just dodging around. She still never tried to land a blow though, and Akane found the girl's attitude a little irritating. Okay, it was obvious she was good. Did she have to be a jerk about it?

The fight with Ukyo had been a bit more even, if just as humiliating. She suspected Ukyo enjoyed having the advantage over her way too much, probably because her "Ranchan" probably outclassed her, too, and was as big a jerk about it. However, she had some useful advice on holding her temper and working on her speed that Akane took to heart.

As she stepped up to the divider to the bath, she heard talking from inside. "You're not looking, right?" It was Ranma's voice. "I'm coming out."

After a moment, Ranma spoke again. "Should we go out like that? I dunno if we should..."

"Well, it's too late now, you've already spilled the beans." Akane giggled. Was Ranma talking to herself?

"I ain't hidin' who I really am. They'll have to find out anyway, sooner or later." She gave a loud sigh. "Go on, I'll get in the furo."

There was a short pause, and the divider slid open. Ranma was standing there, and her eyes widened in shock. "A... Akane!"

"I thought you said you were getting in the furo," Akane commented, a bit taken aback by the expression of fear on the ponytailed girl's face. "I expected Ukyo to come out."

Akane started to enter the bath herself, but Ranma seemed to fly into a panic. "No! Don't go in there!" She grabbed Akane's arm, but she was already sliding open the divider.

"Ukyo, you okay... ?" Akane's voice trailed off. In front of her, was a tall, muscular, and unmistakably masculine black haired boy with a pigtail, who had just finished putting one leg into the furo. He turned to look at her, as Akane, despite all intentions to the contrary, shifted her gaze slightly to confirm that she was, definitely, looking at a man. Before it could fully register what she was seeing, and in fact that he was seeing her, she was suddenly being pulled back into the laundry room.

Ranma was blushing furiously. "Sorry, Akane. I... Sorry."

Akane could say nothing for several moments. When she finally did, it was with an explosion of anger. "What the hell was that?"

The ponytailed girl could not resist a grin. But then her expression turned serious. "Um... well, you know... That was... a guy. Sorry. What that really was, was... well..."

She looked uncomfortable for a moment, but then bit the bullet and forced it out. "That was Ranma Saotome."

"What! You said you were Ranma Saotome!"

The girl blushed again, and looked at the ground. "No... actually I didn't, but it's... well, complicated. Look, I'll explain everything in a minute. Could you just leave for now?"

Akane's fists were clenched, and it looked like she was about to start hitting something. If not someone. "What, you think I'm going to leave without some sort of explanation? Give me two reasons why I should!"

"Well... first of all, sugar, if you don't, you'll get to take another look at my brother when he walks out of the furo. And so will I, and honestly, even though I do think of him as my brother I do try to give him his privacy, as much as I can when you've got to bathe in the same mountain streams and such.

"And two, unless you and I get our clothes on before he gets out, he'll get to see you again, too."

Akane turned even redder, although how much of it was still anger was a good question. Without another word, she slipped back into her gi, and stomped out of the room.

The brown haired girl breathed a heavy sigh. Reaching for her clothes in the hamper, she called out to the furo. "Ranchan, I'll be done in a minute. I'll be waiting for you in the hall."

Several minutes later, the black haired boy with the pigtail came into the family room, with his sister close behind him. Oddly, "Ranma" was now wearing Ukyo's blue outfit, while the pigtailed boy was wearing the red shirt and pants. The clothes seemed to fit them better that way around.

Akane glared at the two of them, but Nabiki merely looked surprised. "Who are you?"

"I'm Ranma Saotome," said the pigtailed boy.

"I knew we were going to be sorry about this," added the brown haired girl.

"I am Genma Saotome," said the balding man in the worn gi. "And this is my son..."

"... Ranma." Ranma and Ukyo both glanced up at Akane, to find her glaring at them.

"I thought that you said you were Ranma Saotome," Kasumi said to the girl with the ponytail, although of course without a hint of reproach in her voice. Not more than a little bit, anyway.

"Actually... I kinda didn't. You see... I was the little redhaired girl. I'm Ukyo."

As this sank in, Genma cleared his throat. "Where should I begin? I know..."

Moving with a speed that was somewhat surprising, given Ranma's already demonstrated agility, Genma grabbed his son by the shirt. Tossing him over his head, he sent the boy sailing through the air and into the koi pond.

Ranma emerged from the water as a brown haired girl, sputtering and spitting out water. The Tendo family all turned to look at Ukyo, who shrugged. The two girls looked exactly identical, except for their different clothes.

"What'd you do that for Old Man?" Ranma exclaimed, in Ukyo's voice.

"Were you not prepared to... whoop!" Genma's retort to his son was cut short as Ukyo suddenly leaped behind him, and propelled him into the pond as well. Moments later, the pond was overfilled by the mass of a panda.

"Ha ha! Good one Sis!" Ranma ducked as the panda swung at her, and moments later the two martial artists were engaged in frantic combat.

Ukyo sighed. "Maybe I'd better explain. It all started in the Bayankala mountains, in the Qinghai province of China. There is a legendary training ground there, Jusenkyo, the Training Grounds of Cursed Springs. The old man brought us there to train.

"There was this funny guy there, the Jusenkyo guide, and he was trying to warn us about the place, but Ranma and the old man didn't listen. Too busy playing their male ego games to pay attention." Ukyo smirked. "There are all these bamboo poles stuck into the springs, and Genma hopped onto one of them, and Ranma followed.

"Now, the guide was going on about 'Very dangerous you fall in spring' and talking how each of them had their own tragic legend, but I just decided to stand back and watch. Sure enough, Ranma gets the best of the old man in a few seconds, and knocks him into one of the springs.

"All of a sudden, this panda comes jumping out of the spring, just like you see there." She gestured at the panda fighting the girl in the middle of the koi pond. "The guide said something about 'You fall in Spring of Drowned Panda' and 'now you cursed to take body of panda', but I had already started to figure out what was going on. I could see Ranma was panicking, and when he heard what the guide was saying and turned to look at him, the old man hit him in the back."

Ukyo looked sort of sheepish. "I didn't really think about it, I just sort of reacted. I mean, obviously I could have been cursed too, but I just thought that I had to save Ranchan. I didn't think of anything else. So I just leaped at him, and as he flew at one the pools, I grabbed him, and flung him aside. He just barely missed the pool, but I fell in it.

"I was fine, though. I heard the Jusenkyo guide say, 'you very lucky one, you fall in Spring of Drowned Girl, but you not affected because you already girl.' But Ranma was reaching over to help me out, and just as he did, the stupid panda jumped up and kicked him in the back."

Ukyo turned a glare on the panda. He and Ranma had stopped fighting, and were watching her tell the story. "Ranchan slammed into me, and we fell into the water together. And I felt this... weird tingling, kind of. Suddenly I was changing, I could feel it. I turned into the red haired girl you saw, and Ranma turned into me."

"Ah, that explains it." Nabiki had said that. Soun and Kasumi seemed too stunned to say anything, and even Akane was looking a little shell-shocked. "And that girl, she's got blue eyes and a pigtail, like Ranma."

Ukyo nodded. "At first, the guide thought I was Ranchan, since he thought he had changed and I was still unaffected. But then when we explained what had happened, he guessed that the fact that we had been touching when we hit the water, plus the fact that the Spring had tried to curse me before but failed, caused it to act this way. He mentioned that sometimes the Jusenkyo magic tends to have a mind of its own..."

"So, Ranma is a boy that turns into a girl, and you're a girl that gets cuter, and a lot better endowed."

"Hey!" Ukyo said hotly. "I happen to think I'm kind of cute in my natural form, too! A little bit, anyway..."

Nabiki smirked. "But the better endowed thing you can't argue with, huh?"

"Well, no." Ukyo blushed, but then managed to fan her anger up again. "That didn't stop you from feeling up my body, though! And that was my body..."

"Hey, I was just trying to confirm that Ranma was a girl. It's not my fault he was in your body at the time."

Akane spoke up. "But in the furo, he was... he was..." Her face grew redder and redder, although it was not so much from anger now. "And you... that's why I thought you were talking to yourself. You were both in... the same body..." Akane's voice trailed off as she considered that.

"Hot water reverses the curse. Temporarily. Cold water returns you to your cursed form. Ranma was getting in the furo when you... saw him..." She couldn't hold back the grin, even though it made Akane scowl. "And I had just gotten out."

"Yes, Genma already told me about this," Soun produced a kettle, which he poured over Genma's head. The panda returned to being the old man in the gi.

"I said it needed to be hot," Genma said with a grimace of pain, "Not boiling!"

He then tried to pour the kettle over Ranma, but she dodged it. "There, you see, your problem isn't so terrible after all."

"Easy for you to say," Ukyo said. "No one's sharing your body."

Soun put his arm around Ranma's shoulder. "Go ahead, boy. These are my daughters, Kasumi, nineteen, Nabiki, seventeen, and Akane, sixteen. Pick the one you want, and she will be your fiancée."

"Fiancée? Hey, wait a minute!"

The other two girls had crowded around Akane. "Oh, he wants Akane. They're perfect for each other."

"Why do you say that?" Akane snapped.

"Well, you hate boys, right?" Nabiki answered. "You're in luck, he's half girl."

"He's half me!" cut in Ukyo. "I'm not letting some woman touch me!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" Akane yelled back.

"Hey, I don' wanna get engaged anyway! I got no time for fiancée's! I got to get back to China and find a cure for this thing!"

Nabiki gave that wicked smirk again. "What's the matter, 'Ranchan', something wrong with looking like your sister?"

"I don't want him looking like me any more than he does!"

"And I don't want to be married to either of them!" Akane yelled. She pointed at the two girls, for the moment looking like a pair of identical twins. "She's a girl, and he's a... pervert!"

"Hey!" both ponytailed girls said simultaneously.

"He looked at my body!" Akane protested.

"I tried to warn you! And I pulled you back as quick as I could! It was an accident!"

Ranma snorted. "You were lookin' at me, too..."

Akane snarled, taking a step towards Ranma, but Ukyo stepped between them. "Shut up, Ranchan, you're not helping." She elbowed her twin in the gut, and she doubled over.

Genma tried to step in. "Quit acting like a girl, son, and be a man. This is the honor of the Saotome name we're talking about."

"You shut up, too, panda!" Ukyo turned on Genma, her voice rising. "You're not even going to tell them, are you? You talk about the honor of the Saotome name, but you were just going to forget about that, weren't you? Or were you holding that in reserve in case this arrangement didn't work out?"

"I don't know what you're talking about, girl! This is about the Saotome name. You aren't involved."

"Not involved! Not involved!" Ukyo grabbed at the old man, and he ducked. She darted around behind him, though, and as he turned to follow her move, she pulled the floor mat out from under his feet. Genma tumbled to the floor, and she kicked him into the pond.

"You're gonna engage him to her after you've already engaged him to me? And didn't even bother telling me? How many other girls is he engaged to? How many guys have you engaged me to? How many of those times you tried to leave me behind were because you engaged me or sold me to somebody?"

"Oh, my..." Kasumi commented.

"Whoa, Ucchan... calm down." Ranma put a hand on her sister's shoulder.

"Calm down? Calm down?" Ukyo turned on her twin, and she stepped back at the anger in her eyes. But there were tears as well. "How can you say that! If you don't marry her, you'll have to marry me! If you don't marry me, there's probably somebody else! He's got you trapped as much as he's got me trapped!"

"I don't wanna marry either of ya!" Ranma protested. "I ain't gonna be forced to marry nobody. Certainly not my sister, and not some stranger I ain't never met!"

"Wait a minute," Akane cut in. "You two are engaged, too?" It was hard not to boggle at that, given that at the moment both girls were identical.

Ukyo turned to scowl at her. "The old man just told us, when he was telling us about you. When Ranma said he didn't want to get married, he said that if Ranma didn't honor the agreement, he'd have to marry me, instead."

"So if that pervert doesn't marry me, he has to marry you?"

"Hey, I ain't no pervert!"

"You're engaged to two girls, you saw me naked! You turn into a girl! I don't care whether you're a pervert or not, I'm not marrying you!"

"And I'm not marrying you either!" Ranma, unfortunately, was losing her temper. "I'm not marrying either of you two! You're both a couple of short-tempered tomboys!"

Akane clenched her fists, but it was Ukyo that attacked. "Both of us?" In a fluid move, she picked up the table and swung it up into Ranma's face. The cursed boy hit the ground with a thud. "Ranchan, you baka. Sometimes you make me hate that face." She ran from the room, an arm up to hide her tears.

Akane smirked. "I'm glad she did that. Saved me the trouble."

Ranma awoke, still in her female form. She felt her nose and forehead. Kasumi and Nabiki were hovering over her.

"Are you okay?" Kasumi asked, worriedly. "Your sister sure is spirited, isn't she?"

Nabiki snorted. "He's lucky it wasn't Akane."

Grumbling to herself, Ranma headed down the hall to the furo. Her head was still hurting, and she was sure Ukyo would still be upset in the morning. It wasn't his fault, it was the stupid panda's, couldn't she see that? It wasn't like he had ever abandoned her, he always went back for her, didn't he?

And then there's this Akane girl. She had such a cute smile, and said she wanted to be friends, but then she calls me a pervert! Ranma slipped out of her clothes, wondering what curse she picked up to make her life such a pain - literally. As she stepped up to the divider it slid open.

Akane was standing there. A look of rage came over her face, which Ranma met by wincing and hoping she would not get beaten too badly. Akane stood silently for a moment, clenching and unclenching her fist.

Finally, she asked, almost tentatively, although her eyes never lost their glare, "Ukyo? ... or Ranma... ?"

Ukyo. Definitely Ukyo. Ukyo would keep him from getting hit.

The ponytailed girl looked at the ground. "... Ranma..."

The slap echoed through the room.

Akane stalked past, arms stiffly at her sides. She walked over to the hamper and pulled out her clothes.

As Ranma started to continue into the furo, a quiet voice stopped him. "Ranma. If you had lied to me, I would have hit you a lot harder."

"Ukyo wouldn't have needed to change back." Akane was silent for a moment. "Thank you." Then she finished putting on her clothes and left the room.

Shaking his head, still wondering what he had done to deserve this life, Ranma set off to return to his natural form and go to bed.