Author's note: Howdy! I've had this idea rolling around in my head for a while, so I thought I'd share it and see what people make of it.
The basic idea here is that chapter one occurs before Genma and Ranma have even come back from China. Many small details will change in the storyline, which, all together, will cause one big divergence from canon.
Lastly, the name of the school mentioned in this chapter means 'fresh/new world' High School.
Chapter One: The New Guy
Akane Tendo was miserable. For the past hour, she'd been crying her eyes out on her pillow. Now, finally, she'd calmed down enough to merely sit on her bed and stare into space. Having run out of tears, she was feeling better, but her heart now felt empty.
It had finally happened. What she'd always thought was impossible and had been praying to never happen had happened. Dr. Tofu had actually asked Kasumi out. The object of her affections had asked out her oldest sister. Not only that, but it had been done right in front of her. He'd come to see Kasumi, Akane had answered the door, Kasumi had walked over and greeted him, he'd completely ignored Akane, stuttering and saying stupid things to Kasumi, a silence had followed, then he'd blurted out the question. Kasumi, though surprised, had naturally smiled and said that she'd love to.
It was over. Everything that Akane had worked for for the last five years of her life was over. She'd tried so hard to be the girl that he wanted... she'd tried so hard to be more appealing than Kasumi... but, in the end, she'd still lost. Kasumi, not her, was now Dr. Tofu's girlfriend.
It was true that she had plenty of choice when it came to boyfriends... she could have any guy she wanted... but none appealed to her like he did. He was kind, thoughtful and mature... whereas the horde of boys that she had to beat the crap out of everyday were just selfish mindless perverts.
She ran a hand through her long dark blue hair, sighing at her misfortune. She'd grown this hair for him, too, in an attempt to look more feminine than Kasumi. She was still just a kid to the guy, though, and always would be.
She was fed up. Now that she'd lost Dr. Tofu, why would she need to go on living the way she was? Why not just chop all of her hair off, since it was clearly no use anymore? She'd always preferred having short hair anyway; she'd only grown it to impress him.
Hell, she was a tomboy anyway, too. Why not just throw away any femininity that she'd forced on herself for his sake and go back to how she used to be? She shuddered at becoming more masculine. The thought repulsed her. If there was one thing that she'd hate to be, it was to be anything that even slightly resembled the Furinkan High School perverts.
Lowering her hand back down to the bed, she pondered this for a moment. If she was more masculine, there was a chance that those perverts would leave her alone, right? Although, it would probably take a lot more than simply cutting her hair.
What if... she became a boy herself? She shuddered again, but didn't dispel the thought. It would certainly get them off her back, but how on Earth would she even manage that? She couldn't exactly change her gender at will... not that she wanted to. Hell no. She could masquerade as one easily enough, but the Furinkan High School boys would know. They may be stupid, but not that stupid. They knew her well enough to recognise her instantly. Maybe she should just change schools. That way, she wouldn't have to pretend to be a boy and she could, maybe, get on with her life in peace.
Her thoughts were derailed by an image of a horde of boys, in completely different school uniforms, forcefully hounding her every moment of the day to go on a date with them, and her fist clenched in anger. It was true; even if she switched schools, there was no guarantee that it wouldn't happen again... and that kind of attention was the last thing she wanted after basically being rejected by Dr. Tofu. If she couldn't have him, then she didn't want anyone else.
She'd made up her mind. Frowning in determination, she stood up from the bed and made her way to her bedroom door; it was time to ask a few favours from Kasumi.
"What?" Kasumi yelped, throwing her pan of food into the air. It noisily crashed to the floor. Calming down, she lowered her arms. "Akane, are you sure?"
Akane paused for a moment, thinking it over one last time, then nodded. "I'm sure," she replied, gripping the scissors in her hand tighter.
"Hey," Nabiki said, poking her head into the kitchen. Kasumi and Akane both turned to look at her. "What's with the racket in here?"
Kasumi put a hand to her face. "Well, Akane wants me to cut her hair so that she looks like a boy..."
Nabiki paused, staring at Akane. "What? Seriously?"
Akane paused again, somewhat embarrassed. "Well..." she began, "it's time for a new start. I'm gonna ask Dad to enrol me as a boy in another school."
"You're going to do whaaaat?" Soun wailed, rushing to Nabiki's side and crying his eyes out. "Akane!" He began sobbing into his arm. "How could you do this to your father?"
Nabiki smirked. "Well, isn't this an interesting development?" she said.
Akane growled in annoyance. "Dad, come on!" she snapped. "I need to do this! It's not as if I like the idea of being of boy!"
"Why do it, then?" Kasumi asked.
Akane paused again, not willing to divulge the true reason. "I just... need a change." She worked her brain furiously for a better excuse. "I... wanted to see if there were any decent guys out there. If... I got in close with them as a boy, I could... get to know them better... and see what they're really like."
A pause followed this announcement. Finally, Nabiki smirked again. "I see..." she replied. "Very interesting. Quite strange, coming from you, but interesting."
Soun burst into tears again. "My... my little girl... wants to be a boy!" he wailed.
Kasumi smiled brightly. "Well, I'll be happy to stand by you in your decision, Akane!" she said cheerfully.
Akane was touched by her oldest sister's kindness. Truly, no woman deserved Dr. Tofu's love more than her. "Kasumi..." she replied.
"Alright, first, we have to decide which school you're going to. Father will need to get you enrolled. Before then, we can go shopping and buy you some bindings! And some male clothes! Then we can work on your hair and, after the enrolment, we can go shopping and buy you a male uniform! Oh, this'll be so much fun!"
Akane almost fell over in disbelief. It figures that Kasumi would see turning her youngest sister into a boy as a game of dress-up...
Akane held the mirror in front of her face, checking her new look again, as Kasumi tightened the bindings around her chest. She looked so different now, with two thirds of her dark blue hair in the trash can outside. She still looked a bit feminine, but a lot of masculinity was shining through too. It unnerved her that she looked so much like a boy.
Kasumi tugged one last time on the bindings, causing Akane to yell in discomfort, before she neatly secured them in place. God, she never realised how uncomfortable being a boy would actually be... and she'd have to do this every day she went to school?
"There," Kasumi said with a smile as she moved away and grabbed the long-sleeved white dress shirt and black uniform jacket from the bed.
Akane placed the mirror back down and gently touched the bindings, cringing when she felt how tight they were. "Ugh..." she said, "so uncomfortable..."
"You'll get used to it, Akane. Here." She held out the shirt.
"Thanks." Akane took it and started to put it on. Once she was finished buttoning it, Kasumi held out the jacket. She took it and started to put it on. After fastening the golden buttons of the jacket all the way to the collar, she looked down at herself, marvelling yet again at how good the winter version of the uniform looked. "Wow. I wish I had full-length mirror to look at this properly."
"Don't worry. You look very handsome, Akane."
Akane wasn't sure how to take this remark, but she figured it was a compliment. Straightening up, she smiled uneasily. "Um, thanks, Kasumi..."
"So, do you have an alias for the new school? Or did Father enrol you as 'Akane Tendo'?"
Akane hung her head as she remembered the events that had transpired the day of enrolment. They were, to say the least, very embarrassing.
"Yo!" the principal said with a toothy grin and a wave. "You must be Mr. Tendo!"
"Why, yes," Soun replied sheepishly, one hand behind his head, "I am."
The principal flashed a peace sign, his dark brown eyes burning with passion. "Radical!" He ran the hand through his shoulder-length brown hair, then placed it on the desk. His other hand then started fiddling with the gold yen-sign necklace around his neck. "And I take it that handsome young man is your son?"
Soun straightened his posture. "Yes!" He indicated Akane. "This is my son, Aka-" He froze and Akane realised, with horror, what the problem was.
With her real name being too feminine, she had to think up a new one, fast. Her father hadn't given her much to work with, much to her annoyance, but she had to try, for the sake of the plan.
"Aka..." she said, working her brain as hard as she could, "shi! Akashi Tendo." She secretly patted herself on the back for the quick thinking.
"Akashi Tendo, huh?" the principal asked, finally letting go of his necklace. "What an awesome name that is!" He stood up and slammed his hands on the desk. "Welcome to Shinkisekai High School!"
Akane sighed at the dreadful memory, then looked back at Kasumi and smiled. "Yeah, I do have an alias," she said. "My name's now Akashi Tendo."
Kasumi looked pleased. "Oh, my..." she replied, "what a manly name that is."
Akane's smile faltered. Manly? she thought. She wasn't sure whether or not she was happy about that. "Uh, yeah... thanks..."
"Well, come on, Akane. Let's go show Father and Nabiki. I'm sure they'll be just as impressed."
It was certainly strange that Akane had to get the bus to school from now on. Furinkan High School was the closest school to the Tendo household, but, since she'd wanted to switch to a school as far away from that one as possible, she'd had to attend the one on the other side of Nerima.
It had been a fairly short bus journey, but it had still been her first time riding a bus. She'd had an awkward moment trying to figure out how the fare system worked, but, other than that, it had been quite fun doing something so alien to her.
Now, wearing her summer uniform, which consisted of a short-sleeved white dress shirt and black pants, she stood in front of her new school, feeling incredibly nervous as she watched other students walk past her through the gate. She was a boy now, she had to remember. In order to truly look like one and make everyone else believe it, she had to believe it herself. No more acting the slightest bit feminine.
As a group of giggling girls walked past her, she couldn't help but admire their uniform. It was nothing like the girls' uniform in Furinkan High, which had been a white shirt covered by a green dress that had a ribbon at the back. This one was a true sailor uniform. The shirt was white with a blue collar and a yellow scarf that was tied with a pink knot and the skirt was knee-length, blue and pleated. A hint of jealousy stabbed at her heart as she realised that she'd never get to wear such a cute and feminine uniform, but she shook it off, gripping the handle of her book bag in anxiety before heading inside.
"Gooood morning, class!" the female teacher yelled cheerfully down a microphone. "Are you ready for another day of school? I know I am!"
"Yes, Miss..." the class replied in a monotone.
Akane, standing outside the classroom door, cringed at the odd peppiness at this school. First the hippy principal, now the teacher with too much energy? What next?
"Well, I think now's the time to introduce our new student! Please enter!"
Akane held her breath nervously as she slid open the door and strolled in. Sliding the door closed behind her, she made her way over to the teacher's desk. As she did so, she glanced at the class, instantly noticing that every eye was on her. She wondered if they were fooled. She may have looked like a boy, but did they actually believe that she was one? Were the students at Shinkisekai High School as stupid as the ones at Furinkan High School?
She stopped as she reached the desk, faced her fellow classmates and cleared her throat. "Uh..." she said, "hi..."
A quiet chorus of murmuring followed, during which she grew even more nervous. She couldn't hear a word that anyone was saying, so her imagination was running wild with guesses.
The teacher, her amber eyes sparkling, dramatically pointed a finger at her. "This is Akashi Tendo!" She flipped the fringe of her strawberry blonde hair. "He liked the look of our school so much..." She leaned towards the rest of the class and bellowed down her microphone. "That he chose to travel here every day all the way from the other end of Nerima!" She lowered her voice slightly. "Isn't he the coolest?" A ripple of awe sprung up from the classroom. The teacher thrust her finger out at them. "Now!" She shielded her eyes as though the sun was shining in them. "Where to seat you?" She was silent for a moment, then snapped her fingers and pointed. "That seat by the window should do nicely!"
Akane felt exasperated just watching her. So much energy... she thought. She nodded anyway, just to be polite. "Yes, Miss."
Finally, class was over and it was time for recess. Honestly, Akane was glad for the short break, as listening to a teacher yelling down a microphone with infinite energy was rather exhausting.
"Hey there," a male voice said.
Akane looked up to see a boy with dark brown hair and green eyes standing over her, smiling, while being flanked by two other boys. One had auburn hair and blue eyes, while the other had light brown hair and brown eyes.
"Hey," she replied.
"Your name was Akashi, right?"
The guy pointed to himself with his thumb. "I'm Benjiro." He pointed to the auburn-haired boy with his index finger. "That's Chikao." He pointed to the light brown-haired boy. "And that's Daichi."
What an informal introduction, Akane thought as Benjiro lowered his arm. So, they want to be on first name terms as soon as we meet, huh? "Nice to meet you all."
"You wanna hang out with us, Akashi?" Chikao asked.
"Um, sure, okay."
"Great," Daichi replied. The three began to walk away. "Come sit with us over here, then!"
Akane got up nervously, wondering if, maybe, this was some sort of trap to get her alone. Maybe they knew she was actually a girl and were planning to dog-pile her as soon as she sat down. She walked over carefully and, when directed to a chair, seated herself, watching each boy with suspicion.
Benjiro laughed. "What's the matter, Akashi?" he asked. "You look so tense. Lighten up!"
"Yeah," Chikao added with a wide smile, "we're not gonna bite ya!"
Akane relaxed a bit, but refused to let down her guard. Ever since enrolling in Furinkan High School, she'd been unable to trust boys, so it would be very difficult for her to 'lighten up' around these three. Still, they didn't seem to know that she was a girl. It was still unsettlingly weird hanging out with a group of boys, though. She was sure they were going to jump her any minute.
"So," Daichi said, "what made you decide to come to Shinkisekai High School, then, Akashi?"
Akane looked up at his warm smiling face and felt a bit more at ease. She relaxed her shoulders. "Well..." she replied, "I don't really wanna talk about it... but let's just say I needed to get away from it all."
Benjiro crossed his arms and nodded sagely. "I see," he said. "Well, I'm glad you chose this school, anyway. You seem like a pretty cool guy."
Flattered, Akane gave him a warm smile. "Thanks."
Benjiro blushed, then quickly coughed and looked away. "Um, well, yes..."
Akane blinked in disbelief. Did Benjiro just blush? she thought. But he thinks I'm a boy, right? God, am I even able to affect boys when I'm one too? Life sucks.
"That new guy is so cute!" a female voice muttered excitedly behind her.
Akane stiffened. New guy? Cute?
Another girl giggled. "Yeah, I know," she replied. "He has the most gorgeous eyes!"
"I love his hair," a third girl said. "He looks so feminine and yet... so masculine!" All three girls quietly squealed in delight.
Utterly horrified, Akane sank into her chair. Oh, hell, no... she thought. Now I've got girls fawning over me? Why me? Why?
Chikao chuckled. "Looks like you're pretty popular with the ladies there, Akashi," he said.
Akane sank lower. Whenever I look in the mirror, there must be something there I'm just not seeing... First boys, now girls... I mean, really...
"Akashi?" Daichi asked in concern. "You okay, dude?"
"Yeah... I'm great..."
Why had she thought this would be a good idea? Why did she have to decide 'Hey, why not switch schools and pretend to be a boy?' Surely, she didn't need to go to such lengths to avoid her problems... but, with the word 'quit' not being in her vocabulary, she wasn't about to give up and go back to Furinkan High School.
She looked over at her new group of 'friends' and suddenly began to miss Sayuri and Yuka. They had been her best friends for years and she'd suddenly gone and left them behind. She'd told them over the phone that she was changing schools, but she hadn't said where or why. It made her feel guilty, but she couldn't risk anyone else finding out about her situation. If Tatewaki Kuno knew the details, he'd come rushing over immediately, in an attempt to both court her and convince her to go back to Furinkan High School. She really didn't want that.
"Hey..." Benjiro said, hitting his palm with his fist, "I've just realised something."
"What?" Chikao asked.
Benjiro grinned, showing off his teeth. "Our little group is made up of the perfect four guys!"
Chikao tilted is head in confusion. "Huh?"
"I don't get it," Daichi said.
"Akashi," Benjiro said, "you get it, right?"
"Hmm?" Akane replied, unsure where he was going with this.
"Think of our four names... and then tell me why this group is so perfect together!"
Akane paused to think about it. Our names? she thought. Let's see... Akashi... What were their names again? Chikao... Daisuke- no, Daichi... um... Benjiro...
"Got it yet?"
"Hold on a minute." Akashi... Chikao... Benjiro... and Daichi... Akashi, Benjiro, Chikao and Daichi... Suddenly, it hit her. She nearly fell off her chair in disbelief. "No way..."
Benjiro leaned forward eagerly. "Well?"
Akane sighed, unable to believe the weird coincidence. "A, B, C and D..."
Benjiro clapped happily. "That's right!"
"Wow!" Chikao said, his eyes sparkling. "That is cool!"
"Yeah!" Daichi agreed. "Perfect, just like you said, Benjiro!"
Benjiro put his knuckles on his hips and chuckled, looking very smug. "Isn't it, though?" he replied.
What is with this crazy school? Akane thought, planting her face on the desk.