C&A Productions Presents A New Work of Ranma Fanfiction The Ties That Bind Chapter 1: Most Unlikely of Siblings Written By Chris McNeil Original Concept Provided by Robert Morrison Soun Tendo stared at the postcard, tears trickling down his face. It had been so long, and now... "T-they're coming at last!" he cried. "Oh, how I've waited for this day!" Quickly, he got up and searched for his daughters. There was not a moment to lose. "KASUMI!" he cried, even as he walked into the kitchen and saw her slicing a watermelon. "What is it, father?" she replied. He quickly told her the good news, which elicited a small widening of her eyes. "Oh my," she replied. Then she offered him a slice, which he gratefully accepted, and continued her work. After cautioning her to come out to the dining room in a few minutes, Soun walked out and over to the stairwell. "NABIKI!" he called, and then, "AKANE!" After a few moments, his middle daughter walked out of her room with a yawn, but there was no sign of his youngest. Soun felt a flash of irritation that she should be out on this most important of days. "Where -is- that girl?" he muttered. ******** At the moment, "that girl" was on the last leg of her morning jog. The fresh air and pleasant sensation of the blood waking up in her veins, combined with the beautiful spring morning, had put her in a good mood, and as this was Sunday, she thought about going over to see Yuka later, and perhaps going out to the rink. As she ran into the dojo with a cheerful cry of "I'm home!", she whipped off her sweaty running outfit and pulled on a fresh white gi. Still filled with energy, she quickly set up two concrete blocks, concentrated for a moment, and with a fierce kiai smashed her fist through them. Her blow had been perfect. Standing up from the rubble, she sighed with pleasure, grinned, and wiped her forehead. "That was nice," she said out loud. It was definitely going to be a great day. "There you go again, Akane. No wonder the boys all think you're so weird." Akane turned and scowled at her older sister. Boys were -not- what she wanted to think about on Sunday. "So why should I care?" she replied irritably. "Not -everybody- thinks the world revolves around boys, Nabiki." Affecting a look of disappointment, Nabiki turned away, crossing her arms behind her head. "No?" she said. "Then I guess this wouldn't interest -you-." ******** "FIANCEES!?" Akane exclaimed in disbelief. Completely missing his youngest daughter's mood, Soun smiled. "Yes, the sons of a very good friend of mine. If two of you were to marry them, than we would most certainly have heirs to carry on the training hall, and the Tendo family legacy would be secure." "Wait a minute," Akane interrupted angrily. She could -not- believe this. The day had started off so perfectly, and now... "Don't -we- have some say in who we marry?" "Akane's right, father," Kasumi added. "We haven't even met these boys, after all." Soun chuckled. "Oh, you needn't worry about that. They'll be here soon." ******** Several minutes ago, it had started raining. This was not unusual... Tokyo was prone to sudden, short rainshowers, especially in the spring. No, it was nothing unusual at all...certainly not unusual when compared to the sight which greeted the pedestrians on a certain street in Nerima ward. As dozens of people looked on in astonishment, they saw a short, red-haired girl running down the road. She had a pigtail, was dressed in a red, Chinese-style shirt, black pants and slightly oversized bracers, and was carrying a backpack and a pair of shoes in her hand. Unusual, certainly, but she was not what made the passersby stare. No, what had attracted everyone's eye was what the girl was running -from-...a huge, black and white panda which was racing after her with surprising agility. As they goggled, the panda growled and made a lunge at the girl, who leaped into the air, tossing her backpack aside. "Cut it OUT!" she cried, flinging herself back into a powerful dropkick that sent the panda skidding on its back down the wet road. As it got to its feet, another girl came walking up from behind, also carrying a backpack and shoes. She was considerably taller than the first, and had short blonde hair with no pigtail. She wore a tight green vest that was somewhat less than modest, baggy green pants, black bracers, and a dull orange sash. Her face wore a disgusted expression. "If you two don't stop fighting," the girl said in a surprisingly husky voice, "we are never going to get there." The panda, rising to its feet, nodded solemnly, provoking even more mutters from the crowd. "Who says I -want- to get there?" said the red-head sulkily. "I mean, this whole "fiancee" business..." The panda made an irritated growl and took a swipe at her. Angrily, she seized its paw and flipped it over, sending it sprawling against a signpost. Flicking her pigtail back over her shoulder, she grimaced at the second girl. "We should be going back to China. Heck, you should be helping me drag him back." The blonde looked down at herself for a moment, and seemed to see something she didn't like, for when she looked up she had a scowl. "All -I- want right now is a hot bath. After that, we can discuss going back to Chi..." Suddenly her eyes widened. "Ranma, look..." Even as the red-haired girl began to turn to see what had alarmed her companion, though, a signpost crashed against her head and she collapsed. "...out." the blonde finished lamely. The panda, who had wielded the signpost, slung the red-haired girl over her shoulder. "Was that really necessary, oyaji?" she said flatly. The panda merely snorted and turned. After a moment, it growled ferociously at the gawking passersby, all of whom immediately remembered pressing appointments somewhere else. The blonde rolled her eyes and picked up the other girl's discarded backpack. "This is going to be a -long- day," she muttered, and then hurried to catch up with the panda. ******** "At any rate," Soun continued, "they have been on a training voyage." Pausing for effect, he added, "Recently, it seems, they crossed into China." Nabiki leaned forward, her face showing open interest. "China? Really?" "So they were in China," said Akane flatly, looking away. "Big deal." "Are they cute?" asked Nabiki with some excitement. "How old are they?" inquired Kasumi almost simultaneously. "Younger men...well, they're not usually my type." Soun laughed a bit nervously as his two older daughters looked at him expectantly. Finally, he cleared his throat and said seriously, "I'm afraid I have no idea." Nabiki's eyes narrowed, her excitement snuffed out as if it had never been. "No idea?" she repeated cooly. "I've never met them." Nabiki rolled her eyes and seemed about to unleash a barbed comment when suddenly there was a loud crash of the door opening and several muffled shouts and bangs. "We have visitors," noted Kasumi, rising to her feet. "Oooooh! It must be them!" cried Nabiki, and without further adieu both her and their father were running down the hall towards the door. Kasumi followed more slowly, adjusting her hair, while Akane trailed. Her lip curled slightly at the sounds. Boys. And loud, noisy boys at that. Why did her father ever make such a STUPID... She stopped, staring in disbelief, as her father and Nabiki ran back around the corner frantically, pursued by a...a -panda-? And the panda seemed to have something over its shoulder, that was kicking and struggling...she heard a muffled voice, and then the person the panda was carrying raised himself up. "Let me DOWN, pop!" the...boy?...said. "This ain't exactly the way to introduce ourselves!" "Father..." said Kasumi, startled, "is -this- your friend?" Soun shook his head emphatically, prompting an irritated Nabiki to say sarcastically, "Oh, so this panda just happened to visit, huh? Happens all the time!" Akane simply stared, too surprised for words. They all looked, however, as the panda put down its burden; a short, red-haired guy in loose clothes. Before anyone could react, another person walked around the panda, standing slightly behind the first. This one, however, was obviously female despite her somewhat boyish looks, which were right now occupied in glaring at the panda. Akane blinked, confused. Wasn't there supposed to be -two- boys? Her father stepped forward, hesitantly pointing at them. "You..." he began, then swallowed and continued, "...wouldn't be..." The girl looked at him, then sighed. "Panma Saotome. And that's Ranma," she said, jerking a thumb at the short boy, who looked away. "Sorry ‘bout this," he mumbled. Unknowing or uncaring of the boy's obvious reluctance, Soun grasped him by the shoulders. "At last you've come!" "He IS cute!" added Nabiki, glancing around her father's arm. Meanwhile, Soun pulled the boy into a fierce hug. "It's so good of you to come!" he cried. "So..." and then he broke off, his eyes widening. Shoving the boy away from him, he stared incredulously down at him. Akane looked to see what had alarmed him, and her eyes widened as she noticed the definite bulges on the "boy's" chest that would have been very apparent in tighter clothing. Scowling, Nabiki walked forward and poked at the new arrival's chest, which caused 'him' to blush somewhat and quietly ask her to stop. Ignoring the protest, Nabiki turned to her father and flatly stated, "'He'...is a girl." ******** "Poor father," Kasumi sighed, wetting a cloth, "He's so disappointed." Soun Tendo was lying on a futon, tears leaking from his eyes. He had had a small nervous collapse after the revelation of Ranma's actual gender, but seemed to be recovering now. "HE'S disappointed?" snapped Nabiki. "Some fiancees these are!" As she spoke, Ranma looked down, obviously uncomfortable, while Panma, sitting next to her, grimaced and muttered something under her breath. Akane felt a surge of sympathy for them, and glared over at her sisters. "Stop it, you two!" she said. "Boys or girls, they're still our guests!" Nabiki snorted, and continued as if Akane hadn't spoken. "This is all your fault, daddy. You should have made sure!" "He said they were SONS!" protested their father, coming to life at last. Angrily, Nabiki reached over and grabbed Ranma's chest again. "Do -you- see a son here?" she demanded. "Well, do..." she broke off as her hand was seized in an iron grip and jerked away from Ranma's chest. Looking over in surprise, she blinked as she saw her hand was held by Panma, who was scowling. "I think your point has been made," she said, dangerously quietly. "How would you like it if I fondled YOUR chest in front of everybody? Especially if..." she broke off, looking away, then shoved Nabiki's hand away. "Just cut it out." Akane thought that now would be a good time to try to defuse the situation. Truth be told, she was glad they had turned out to be girls anyway, and it was unfair to make them feel guilty because of their gender. Standing up, she gave the two a warm smile. "Hey, how about we go to the practice hall?" The two looked up; Ranma in slight confusion and Panma with surprise and a bit of suspicion. Both to be expected, she supposed, after the awful reception they'd gotten. Well, she'd see what she could do to fix that. "My name's Akane," she said. "Want to be friends?" Ranma gave her a small, hesitant smile, while Panma merely cocked an eyebrow, but her expression seemed less hostile than before. Both followed her out as she led them to the dojo. "You guys do Kempo, right?" "A little," Ranma replied. Panma looked at her for a moment as if about to say something, but then apparently decided against it. "Well, why don't we have a little match, then?" she invited as they entered the dojo. The two girls looked dubious, so she added, "Just for fun. Don't worry, I won't hurt you." Ranma still looked unsure, but Panma abruptly smiled and waved her hand. "Sounds good to me," she said. "Why don't you take this match, Ranma?" "I guess," said the red-head, quickly moving to be opposite Akane. She didn't attempt to take any sort of fighting stance, however. Panma, chuckling over something, walked over and leaned against the wall. Akane could feel the girl's sharp blue eyes on her, but ignored them, concentrating on her opponent. Ranma still hadn't made any moves towards a proper stance. It looked like this wasn't going to be much of a match after all. That was strange, since with all the training her father had said they did, she would expect them to be pretty good... Charging forward, she threw a simple straight punch. She was somewhat surprised as Ranma sprang into the air to dodge it, but quickly countered with a thrust kick, forcing her to swing her legs apart or be tagged. As she landed, slightly off-balance, Akane smiled and fired a sharp jab...which was dodged. Instinctively she shot out with another kick, but Ranma ducked it with ease and then returned to her casual upright stance. Akane scowled. "What's wrong?" she demanded. "Attack me!" Quickly, she fired off a series of jabs, but every one was dodged or ducked by Ranma with apparent ease. Breathing heavily, Akane took a step back. The girl had still not attempted to counterattack. Why was she missing? Was Ranma reading her moves somehow? Alright, maybe this was going to be tougher than she thought. Eyes narrowing, she shifted her stance slightly, bringing her fists low. This time for real, she thought. Suddenly, she charged forward, her fist snapping out with incredible speed...and smashed through the dojo wall, wood easily splintering from the force of the impact. Akane froze with disbelief for a moment, and then felt a tap on the back of the head. Slowly, she turned...and saw Ranma. The red-haired girl rubbed the back of her head, and laughed a little. Akane joined in a moment later, a bit weakly. She had never expected that anyone could be so...so FAST. She'd have to train harder if she was going to keep up with them. Panma didn't laugh, but as Akane glanced at her, she smiled slightly, and then abruptly stood straight and began to walk for the door. "I'll go draw a bath, br...Ranma," she tossed over her shoulder. Ranma blinked, and her laugh cut off. "Are you sure..." But Panma was already gone. Ranma stared after her sister for a moment, until Akane cleared her throat. "Umm...you're pretty good," she said. "Is Panma that good too?" "Panma? Uh, yeah...yeah, we're about equal, I guess. Not quite the same, but..." she thought for a moment. "Yeah, actually we're tied right now. I guess we'll have a match soon." Akane was somewhat confused by that. Did Ranma mean they actually had fights all the...no, noone could possibly want to do that. Maybe they just did spars until first strike or something. Yeah, probably it. "Well, I'm kinda glad you turned out to be a girl," she said, turning to head out the door as well. "Huh?" said Ranma. "Why's that?" Akane looked back over her shoulder. "It's just...I'd really hate to lose to a boy." "Uh...yeah." Ranma looked nervous for some reason. She probably hadn't quite relaxed yet, Akane decided. Well, that would be fixed soon, if she had anything to say about it. ******** Ranma rinsed the soap off herself, shivering. That water was -cold-! Walking over to the bath, she looked over at Panma, who was leaning against the side of the tub, relaxing. "Looks like you've been here awhile." "The old man had already been here." "Great," muttered Ranma, sliding into the steaming water with no hesitation, and immediately heaved a sigh of relief. "My sentiments exactly," Panma commented. "So NOW what are we supposed to do?" Ranma demanded. ******** "Hey, Akane," said Nabiki, poking her head out of the kitchen. "Oneechan says the bath's ready." "Thanks," replied Akane. She could definitely use a nice bath, and it would be a good chance to chat with Ranma and Panma. Heading upstairs, she grabbed a towel from the closet and stepped into the bathroom. If a hot bath couldn't relax those two, nothing would. ******** "You're asking -me-?" said Panma incredulously. "How should I know?" "Aren't you the one with all the answers?" responded Ranma with a smirk. "Not for this, thank you very much." Panma paused, then grimaced and added, "but if you ask me, we should probably get it over with." ******** Shedding the last of her clothes, Akane picked up her towel and headed for the door to the bath. She could hear Ranma and Panma talking behind it, but the voices were muffled. Smiling, she reached for the handle... ******** "You're probably right," said Ranma reluctantly. "Aren't I always?" grinned Panma. Ignoring that, Ranma walked to the side of the pool and began climbing out. "Well, like you said, might as well..." The door slid open, and Ranma's head jerked over, to see Akane standing in the door, naked except for a towel that was, thankfully, draped over most of her front. For a moment, there was utter, stunned silence. Then Akane slowly looked down, taking in Ranma's muscular, obviously male chest, and certain other...definitively male features. Then the door slid shut again, with her on the other side. There was a moment of silence as Ranma, his face crimson, stared at the shut door. Then the silence was broken as Panma snickered loudly. Ranma looked over at him with a baleful expression, which if anything, increased his brother's mirth. "Well," he said between chuckles, "that sort of takes the matter out of our hands, doesn't it?" Ranma opened his mouth to reply, then winced as an ear- splitting shriek came from the bathroom. "Maybe -you- think it's funny..." "Look on the bright side, brother mine," said Panma, looking serious. "If they push the fiancee thing, at least now you know that one is well-built!" Ranma's flush returned, in spades. "She's average..." he mumbled. Panma laughed uproariously, jerking a thumb at the door, where they could still hear the scream, getting fainter as the girl ran throughout the house. "She certainly...seemed to think...YOU were pretty average, too!" he gasped, then nearly collapsed with fresh howls of mirth at his brother's indignant expression. Muttering to himself, Ranma climbed out of the water and grabbed his towel. "Yeah, well we better go explain before she does something crazy." Still grinning hugely, Panma climbed out as well. "To -you-, maybe. I don't think she even noticed me." He elbowed Ranma in the ribs. "Maybe you weren't so unimpressive after all, huh?" ******** "EEEEEEEEEYYYYYAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!" Screaming at the top of her lungs, Akane ran down the stairs, out to the garden, and looked for the nearest heavy object. She found it in the stone shrine, and with an effort she ripped the large rock from the top of it. She had had to stop screaming for this, but that wasn't too bad, because it allowed her to give voice to her thoughts. "I'll weigh him down! I'll drown him in the bathtub!" As she began stalking back inside, she was met by her sisters. "What is it, Akane?" asked Nabiki. "What's the rock for?" "There's a PERVERT in the bathroom!" she snarled. Nabiki raised an eyebrow. "Why didn't you just kill him?" "Because I was AFRAID!" shot back Akane. She certainly had been. Just walking in there, and some...some GUY there...it had been enough of an effort to stay long enough to whip on her gi and slippers. "That's odd," said Kasumi with some concern, looking over at the hall. "I thought Ranma and Panma were in there just now..." Both she and Nabiki blinked, staring. "Who are -you-!?' asked Nabiki, as Akane turned around. Standing there were two boys. One was slim, with short blue-black hair and grey eyes. His features were more than a little effeminate-looking, and he was dressed in the same outfit Panma had had on earlier, though the green vest fit that male chest somewhat better. His lips were twitching as if he was trying to keep from grinning. The other, Akane realized with a surge of anger, was the pervert from the bathroom, and oddly, he was dressed in -Ranma's- clothes. They also seemed to fit him much better than they had fit the red-haired girl. He was looking down, flushed slightly with embaressment, and was rubbing the back of his head. "Uhh..." he said hesitantly, "I'm Ranma Saotome, and this is Panma." "Sorry about this," added Panma with a perfectly straight face. Notes: "Oyaji": a derogatory way of referring to one's father, rather like calling him "old man" in English. "Oneechan": Older sister.