Ranma: A Little Earlier

Author's Note:

The following story was originally written back in 2000, and posted to . . There has been very little alteration to most parts, save to part 11 which has been edited for rating. Please note that I chose to set this time-line wise based on the original air date of Ranma. At the time of airing, the age of consent was lower, as was the age for marriage with parental permission in Japan than it is today, making this story possible.

There have been may critques of this story, many of them about the characters being out of character over the years. My betas at the time found that I had reasoning behind the behaviors but implemented it poorly. I would have done quite a bit differently if I had done a complete revision. Bear in mind that this work is an early work,

There are several notable mistakes that I have not corrected in this version that should be someday. The age issue, where I put 12 instead of 13, is being corrected as of the May 2014 re-upload.

I will be responding to all reviews of this work the last week of November 2012 and the second and third week of December 2012, in order to handle explanations of why I did what I did. As a result, no guest reviews will be approved on this work through the end of that time.

Signed reviews of all types are of course welcome.


Part 1: An Earlier Meeting

Today was Akane Tendo's first day of seventh grade, and first day at MacArthur. MacArthur Junior High was a remodeled former high school, which was just reopening to solve an overcrowding problem at the school Nabiki and Kasumi had gone to the previous year. It was an unsettling day. Before when she went to a new school Nabiki and Kasumi had been there before her. They would be able to put her fears at ease. This was also the first year she had started without her mother's special lunch and trip to the store for new clothes.

A tear rolled down Akane's cheek as she looked down at her red and blue school uniform.

"Something wrong?" a boy Akane's age asked.

"Just thinking about my mother," Akane said. "And I can't find room 204."

"That's because you're on the third floor," the boy said. "Come with me, that's where I'm headed. I'm Ranma Saotome."

"Akane Tendo. You're in seventh grade too?"

"Yeah, and I'm really going to have to do lots of catch up work," Ranma said. "My dad and I just got back from a two year long martial arts training trip."

"That must have been fun. I'm a martial artist too, but my Father would never do that," Akane said as they entered the stairway.

"Not all of it's fun. Dad has some strange ideas about training. What style do you do?"

"A small school of Unrestricted Martial Arts. Dad says that we are one of two families that practice it."

"I guess I must be from the other," Ranma said.

"Can we spar sometime?" Akane asked, as they reached the second floor. She really needed someone to practice against. Nabiki was beginning to complain that Akane was taking out too many practice dummies and venting her anger out on too many bricks. Plus, a real partner was always better. "Dad hasn't been up to much practice lately." That had been an understatement. If Dad spent an hour not crying, it would be a miracle.

"Sure, if you'll help me with my homework sometime," Ranma said.

"We can work on it together," Akane smiled.

Akane was seated by her sister Nabiki in the cafeteria. Today's lunch didn't look very appetizing. Apparently Kasumi needed a little more help in the kitchen. Not that she'd tell Kasumi that. Kasumi didn't get much time with her friends, and Akane wouldn't interrupt one of those times. At least she had friends. Akane had the misfortune to be the lone student from her class to be sent to MacArthur. What in the world did Kasumi put on this sandwich? A look over at Nabiki's revealed that Nabiki hadn't noticed, but then she was too busy trying to get in on the new school's rumor market. Sometimes Akane wished she could do something for the family. Kasumi cooked, Nabiki handled the money. That just left Akane to carry on the family's martial arts tradition, and that didn't seem like much.

"Is this seat taken?" Akane looked up. It was Ranma.

"Go ahead, Ranma," Akane said, as she tore off the burnt edge of her bread.

"Is there a problem with your lunch?" Ranma asked.

"My oldest sister made it. I think she needs some help," Akane said, before taking a tiny bite. "It doesn't taste bad, but its looks leave something to be desired."

"At least you have someone to make your lunch," Ranma said. "I had to make my own this morning."

"I rather if my mom could make it again," Akane said sadly. She missed the special touches that her mother had always put into her lunch. The letter A carefully cut into the sandwich, letting Akane know her mom had made it just for her. The special desert made just for her, always different from what her sisters got. Akane felt a tear begin its journey down her cheek.

"Don't cry Akane," Ranma said. "I hate it when a girl cries."

"I'm sorry. Things just keep reminding me of my mom. It's been almost a year since she died. You would think I'd be over it by now."

"I didn't know." They ate in silence for a while.

"Yuk, cherry pie," Akane said, opening her dessert container.

"What's wrong with cherry pie?" Ranma asked.

"Nothing, but Kasumi keeps making it," Akane said. "I think it's the only dessert she knows. After a year, I'm tired of it."

"Trade you for this packaged chocolate pudding?" Ranma said. "Homemade cherry pie has to be better than the packaged stuff Dad buys."

"Okay," Akane said as the exchange was made. "Mmmmm chocolate."

"Chocolate, where did you get chocolate?" Nabiki said, suddenly turning toward her sister. "I didn't get chocolate pudding?"

"I traded for it, Nabiki-chan," Akane said. "Surely a deal-maker like yourself find a similar deal."

"Who is your friend?" Nabiki said.

"This is Ranma Saotome, Ranma, my sister Nabiki, the ice queen," Akane said. She couldn't resist adding the last comment. After all, as a little sister she was suppose to tease her older sisters.

"Akane, I thought I told you to never call me that," Nabiki said. "A pleasure to met you, Saotome. Do you have another one of those puddings?"

"I gave my only one to Akane," Ranma said. "Maybe tomorrow."

"Darn," Nabiki said. "I guess I'll have to get to you earlier tomorrow."

"Not likely," Akane said. "He's in my class."

Akane looked up at Ranma. He was following her on the fence. They had agreed to spar after school. He had really challenged their teachers. She especially liked his challenge of "what goes up must come down" in science. She suspected that the Sensei was beginning to regret his first lecture on the importance of asking questions.

"Ranma, why are you walking on the fence?" Akane finally asked.

"Dad's training, it teaches balance," Ranma said. "One of Dad's saner ideas. You should try it sometime. It works."

"I'm not trying it in this skirt," Akane said. "Does your Dad train you a lot?"

"I think Dad believes that his life's work is training me," Ranma said. "He makes everything training. Fortunately he's got to work two jobs right now so he can get enough money to go on the next training trip, so I get to spend a year actually going to school and learning something else other than martial arts."

"I thought you liked studying martial arts," Akane said.

"Yeah, I want to be the greatest martial artist of my generation," Ranma said. "But it's like you and cherry pie. After a while you want something else for dessert. I want to learn about more than just martial arts, at least for a while."

Akane and Ranma entered the Tendo home. "I'm home!" Akane shouted. As she did, she silently prayed that her dad wouldn't break down crying and embarrass her in front of her new friend.

Soun Tendo entered from the garden. "Welcome home Akane," he said. "Who is your friend?"

"This is Ranma Saotome," Akane said. So far so good. "I asked him if he would come home and spar with me. Excuse me for a moment, Ranma, I've got to change into my gi."

"So your name is Ranma Saotome," Soun began. "Any relation to Genma Saotome?"

Ranma gulped. In his experience, this was not a good question. Still, he wasn't going to lie. "He's my father."

"Your father and I studied under the same teacher," Soun said. "It's been so long since I saw him last. It must have been shortly before my wife had Akane . . . Oh why did she have to leave me . . . " Soun broke out in sobs. It took five minutes for Akane to change. Ranma suffered though Soun's sobbing the whole time.

"Not again," Akane said, coming down the stairs in her gi. She had had so high hopes.

"I'll take care of Father," Nabiki said, as she entered the house. "Kasumi should be home in a half-hour. You can go spar with your friend. Try not to go too hard on the Dojo."

Ranma relaxed in the furo. Akane had been a good sparring partner. She was a little rusty, but she acknowledged that. Akane also didn't like to lose. That was a problem, but with a little work, he could see Akane making the matches truly even. She had thrown him, and only his father had managed to do that recently. Of course Pops was too tired to spar after work lately, which was why Ranma was glad he'd found Akane. It was time to get up though. Ranma stood and reached for his towel.

It was then that Akane opened the door. She was also in a state of undress. She noticed Ranma, and blushed. "Excuse me," she said, backing away.

Ranma covered himself and moved to the door. Trying to sound indifferent, he said, "The bath is yours, Akane."

Akane retreated into the bathroom, as Ranma entered the changing room.

As he put his clothes on, he murmured, "she's cute."