Chapter 2: Fiancees and Curses and Bears, Oh My!

                     C&A Productions Presents

                  A Work of Ranma 1/2 Fanfiction

                        The Ties That Bind

          Part 2: Fiancees and Curses and Bears, Oh My!

                     Written by Chris McNeil

           Original Concept provided by Robert Morrison

     "I'll explain it once more," said Soun Tendo, gesturing at the three
familiar figures. He was a tall man, getting on in years but still in good
shape, with long black hair and a neat moustache.  He wore a plain brown gi, and
despite being rather excitable at most times, was reacting to all this with
surprising calm.  "This is my dear old friend..."
     "Genma Saotome," the middle aged man replied.  He was definitely rather
portly, and wore a white gi, a bandanna to mask his baldness, and wire-rimmed
glasses.  "And these are my sons."
     "Ranma," stated one.  He was fairly handsome, with black hair pulled back
in a bobbed ponytail and clear blue eyes.  He wore red Chinese shirt and black
pants, sported studded, soft bracers on his wrists, and looked down at the floor
often, obviously uncomfortable.
     The other boy, if he was uncomfortable, showed little sign, meeting any
looks delivered at him with a cool gaze from his piercing steel grey eyes.  He
was slightly shorter than the other but even leaner, and wore a vest and baggy
pants, both dark green.  He also sported a dark orange sash around his waist,
and tight black bracers on his forearms.  His hair was short yet stylish, and
he was pretty almost to the point of being effeminate.  After a moment, Ranma
elbowed him surreptitiously, and he rolled his eyes and said dryly, "And for
those who haven't figured it out yet, I'm Panma," before returning his gaze to
the Tendos.
     "What the heck is going on here?" asked Nabiki with a touch of irritation.
The middle Tendo had short black hair, and despite casually wearing a tank top
and shorts seemed to almost radiate cool composure...usually.  Nabiki always
strove to be on top of every situation, but whatever was going on here had her
completely in the dark, and it was obvious she didn't like it.
     "Are you really those two girls?" asked Kasumi, the faint confusion in her
voice in sharp contrast to the acid annoyance of her younger sister.  She was
fairly tall, and her long brown hair was tied back into a ponytail which fell
over her shoulder.  If Nabiki almost seemed to ooze with her own competence,
Kasumi was a peacemaker who acted with an almost motherly demeanour, calm and
collected, taking everything in stride.  Yet the sheer weirdness of this
situation had apparently ruffled even her placid calm.
     Akane, the youngest of the three girls, said nothing, merely glaring over
at Ranma, who tried to avoid meeting her gaze.  She had changed into a modest
dress and put the ribbon back in her long black hair before the explanations
began, but it didn't detract much from the belligerence of her attitude.  At
least she had left off trying to smash Ranma through the floor.
     Genma cleared his throat.  "Well...where to begin?"  Panma rolled his eyes
and opened his mouth to say something, but swallowed it in surprise as Genma
seized his arm and hurled him over his shoulder...straight towards the
ornamental pond in the back yard.
     The boy's eyes widened, but he had no time to do more than cry out in
surprise before he fell into the water with a loud splash.  There were only a
few bubbles for a moment, but then a...figure burst out of the water.  The three
girls stared, because this was NOT Panma, despite the fact it was wearing his
clothes.  In fact, it was a girl, with blonde hair and...attributes that made
her gender painfully apparent with the tight vest, despite her somewhat boyish
looks.  Her fists were clenched, and she seemed to shake slightly with anger as
Genma calmly walked towards her.
     "As you can understand," he said sadly, "it's very humiliating to me."
     " you?" repeated the girl softly.  Back in the dining room,
Ranma sighed.  "HUMILIATING TO -YOU-!?"  With an inarticulate snarl, the girl
leaped from the pond.  Genma hastily sidestepped her dropkick, but the girl
twisted to grab his gi in midair, and as she landed, she hurled him into the
pond.  After a moment, a huge panda emerged from the water, and the two
immediately started fighting as the three girls gaped.
     "Now he's a...a panda." said Kasumi unnecessarily.  "Father, I must say you
have rather strange friends."
     Soun sighed.  "They weren't always like this.  It was only after they went
to China...and undertook a terrifying training exercise."
     Ranma looked over at Kasumi.  "Umm...could you go get that kettle of hot
water?"  The eldest Tendo sister blinked, but quickly got up and went into the
kitchen.  Meanwhile, Ranma got up and walked over to the rapidly escalating
conflict.  "Okay you guys, break it -up-!" he yelled, shoving the two...or the
girl, at least...apart.  "This won't help anything."  The blonde girl scowled
furiously, but turned her back and stalked back up to the house.  As Kasumi
emerged, she grabbed the kettle from her hands with a mutter that might have
been a thank you, and poured some of the steaming water within over her head.
Then it was time for another round of gasps, for as the hot water poured over
her, she...changed.  Her chest retreated and became merely muscular, her hair
changed from blonde to a glossy blue-black, and her features altered until she
was identical to the boy who had dropped into the pond a moment ago.  The panda
walked up too, holding out its paw, but Panma gave it one dark look and kicked
the kettle over its head, where it landed in the pond with a hiss.
     "Stay like that forever for all I care!" he snapped, before sitting down
with his back deliberately turned to the indignant animal.  Ranma sat down too,
and finally the panda also approximated sitting down on the porch with a growl,
causing the boards to creak ominously.  There was silence for a moment as the
three girls tried to assimilate what happened and stop from goggling.
     Nabiki recovered first.  " what exactly HAPPENED on this
training trip?"
     Ranma looked at his brother, but Panma was staring at the floor, growling
something under his breath and obviously ignoring them.  With a sigh, he cleared
his throat.  "Well, it all started about two weeks ago..."


     "Here, sirs."  The Chinese guide was a short, portly man, dressed in a
plain brown Maoist outfit and cap.  His Japanese was understandable, if heavily
accented.  "We come to legendary training ground of cursed springs, Jyusenkyou."
     The three martial artists surveyed the area with interest.  Nestled in the
shadow of Mount Quanjing, in the Bayankala range of Qinghai province, Jyusenkyou
was certainly as obscure and difficult to find as the tales proclaimed.  It had
taken them weeks of talking - especially with their extremely limited Chinese -
and searching to find it, but now that they actually were there, the two boys
couldn't help but feel a bit of disappointment.  There were no powerful
guardians to fight, no ruins showing a thousand battles, just a fairly large
valley dotted with hundreds of tiny springs, all containing two or three bamboo
poles which stuck in the air.
     "Are you two prepared?" Genma asked.
     Panma snorted.  "-This- is the fearsome legendary training grounds?" he
said in disbelief.  "I've seen scarier stuff when Ranma does the cooking."
     "Ahh, I knew those old legends had to be overblown," added Ranma.  "I mean,
an evil curse?  Yeah, right."  He rolled his eyes.
     "Ah sirs," said the guide, "you very strange ones.  This place very, -very-
dangerous.  That why nobody use it anymore.  All spring have very tragic..."
     "Well," interrupted Genma, "as long as we've arrived we should get some use
out of it.  Let's go, Ranma, you and I will spar first."  With that, the two of
them leaped into the training grounds, each expertly balancing on one of the
bamboo poles.
     "Ah sirs, what are you doing?" cried the guide.
     "I won't go easy on you, Ranma!" threatened Genma.
     "That's just the way I like it," retorted the boy.
     "Please, sirs!" called the guide.  "Very bad you fall in spring!"
     "What's your problem?" asked Panma, looking over.  "What is there, monsters
in the springs or something?"
     "Oh no, sir, far worse..."  Suddenly there was a loud cry, and both the
guide and Panma looked over to see Genma and Ranma fly towards each other.  The
older man snapped out a dropkick, but with a deft twist in the air, Ranma
flipped over and caught him from behind, sending him flying into the nearest
spring as Ranma landed safely on a nearby pole.
     "Way to go, bro!" cheered Panma, as Ranma grinned and gave him the "V"
sign.  The brothers always cheered when one of them got the best of their
father.  Smirking, Ranma looked down at the spring, where a few bubbles were
coming up.
     "What's wrong, pop?" he taunted.  "We done already?"
     The pond bubbled for a moment, and then a huge...-thing- emerged from it,
causing Ranma to gape even as Panma started.  As the thing completed its leap to
balance on another pole, they saw it was...a panda.  A huge, black and white
panda...who wore the top of their vanished father's gi, and had his glasses
hooked over one ear.  Ranma pointed at it with a shaking finger, stammering
"Whu..." over and over again.
     "That is Shonmaoniichuan, the spring of drowned panda!" explained the
guide.  "Very tragic legend of panda who drown there two thousand year ago!
Now, whoever fall in spring take body of panda!"
     Ranma stared.  "Oh no."
     Panma was less calm.  "WHAT!?" he snarled, grabbing the guide by the front
of his shirt.  "Why didn't you tell us that -earlier-, you old..."
     Suddenly he was distracted by a cry of surprise, and both he and the guide
turned to see a furious Genma-panda swiping at Ranma.  Dropping the guide, Panma
turned to him.  "You IDIOT!" he almost screamed.  "Don't..."  But it was too
late.  Ranma, still stunned by the events, was easy prey, and with a powerful
swipe, the animal Genma had become sent him hurtling from the pole...and to
another spring.
     In an instant, Panma's expression went from rage to horror.  "RANMA!" he
cried, already in motion.  Leaping into the air, he reached out and grasped his
brother's outstretched wrist, and with his other hand, caught the nearest pole.
Panma grimaced in pain as Ranma's halted descent threatened to jerk his arm out
of its socket, but held on, white-knuckled, to both Ranma and the pole.  The
moment passed, and Ranma, dangling a few inches above the water, breathed a sigh
of relief...just before the bamboo snapped in two from the strain and dumped
them both into the water.
     "Aiya!" cried the guide.  "That Nyannichuan, spring of drowned girl!  There
is tragic legend, very tragic, of young girl what drown in spring one thousand
five hundred year ago!  Now, whoever fall into spring," he continued, as two
figures erupted from the water with sprays and splutters, "take body of young
girl."  But as they emerged, it became obvious the two boys had...changed.
For one, Ranma's hair had turned a bright crimson, and as they stood, Ranma
seemed to now be considerably shorter than his brother for some reason.  Panma's
short, glossy blue-black hair was now blonde, and while Ranma's features had
softened and become more delicate, Panma's ironically now seemed somewhat less
feminine than before.  However, the biggest change of all was identical, and
realized as the brothers simultaneously swallowed, loosened their gi tops and
looked down. "You see?" the guide said.  There was a moment of profound silence,
as even the panda simply stared.  Then twin screams rang throughout the valley.


     As Ranma completed his story, everyone stared for a moment.  Panma, who had
looked up and begun paying attention about halfway through, had obviously been
infuriated by the memories, scowling furiously.  Finally, Soun spoke.  "The
legendary training ground of accursed springs," he said quietly.  "Its true
horror has always been shrouded in mystery.  But now..."
     "True horror?" repeated Panma incredulously.  He turned and smashed the
panda over the head, leaped back a bit to avoid its counter, and pivoted to face
the group again.  "The guide showed us the section about Jyusenkyou in our map
and guide book, which quite clearly warned about the danger...except this
IMBECILE can't read Chinese and didn't bother to ask!"  He looked back at the
panda and almost seemed about to attack again, but then growled something
inarticulate - and almost certainly impolite - and sat down again in a huff.
For his part, Ranma had done his share of glaring at the panda, although he
seemed a bit less enraged over the whole situation than his brother.
     "We found out later that the Nannichuan, the Spring of Drowned Man, would
cure us," Ranma continued, "but something...came up, and we had to leave China
quickly.  On the way, Pop decided to come here, and, well, you know the rest."
Panma's scowl darkened even further, if that was possible, at the mention of
them having to leave China.
     "So let me get this straight," Nabiki said, leaning forward.  "You three
have these curses, and cold water activates them, but hot water turns you back?"
Ranma nodded, and suddenly Soun was all smiles, picking the boy up and patting
him on the shoulder.
     "Well, then, your problem isn't so terrible after all!" he said.
     "That's -your- opinion," growled Panma, while Ranma looked confused, but
Soun ignored both and turned him to look at the three girls.
     "These are my daughters.  Kasumi, nineteen; Nabiki, seventeen, and Akane,
sixteen.  Pick the one you want, and she'll be your new fiancee."
     Before Ranma and Panma could stop gaping at this sudden shift in subject,
Kasumi and Nabiki had both backed up and were looking at Akane.  "Oh, he wants
Akane!" said Kasumi.
     "Definitely," agreed Nabiki.
     "You must be joking!" protested Akane, looking angrily back and forth at
them.  "Why would -I- be..."
     "Well you hate boys, don't you?" interrupted Nabiki.
     "So then you're in luck!" added Kasumi happily.  "Ranma's half girl!"
     "Me?  Marry that -pervert-!?" retorted Akane.  "No way!"
     Ranma had been ready to protest himself, but at Akane's words, he swallowed
what he had been about to say and stalked over.  "Whaddaya mean, 'pervert'?" he
     "You saw me in the nude, pervert!" she almost shouted.
     "In case you haven't forgotten," he retorted, "you saw ME.  And you walked
in on me, to boot!"
     "It's different for a girl to see a boy!"
     Ranma seemed about to answer hotly, but he was caught off-guard as Panma
laughed.  Looking over, he saw his brother grinning, his bad humour at least
temporarily eclipsed.  "Looks like you two are the perfect couple already," he
said dryly.
     "Very funny," growled Ranma.
     Panma chuckled, and he reddened a bit in embarrassment, but the anger came
back as Akane angrily said "He's a couple by -himself-!"
     "Listen, you..." Ranma began, but he was cut off as Soun swept past him to
walk over and pat Panma on the shoulder, causing the other Saotome sibling to
give him a quizzical look.
     "And you, Panma," he said good-naturedly, "which one would you like?"
Panma's eyes widened, even as Ranma let loose a loud snicker and the three girls
stared.  Genma, however, had the strangest reaction, as his eyes widened farther
than most would have believed possible and he frantically waved his arms.
Ignoring his anthropomorphic friend, Soun prompted, "Well, son?"
     "Uh..." Panma began uncertainly.
     "Well," said Kasumi, "I wouldn't want to insult you, Panma, but you and
your brother are really a little too young for me."
     Akane suddenly smiled, the first smile anyone had seen on her since she had
found out that the two new guests weren't girls after all. "Well, sis," she said
sweetly to Nabiki, "I guess that means you're the only one left."
     Nabiki gaped for a moment, then swallowed audibly and got control of
herself.  The panda, its arms still up in the air, stared for a moment and then
let them drop to its sides limply, making a resigned sound.  Panma stared at his
newly-chosen fiancee, and received a cold glare in return, which immediately
caused his own face to harden, so that their staredown was almost as hostile as
the one Ranma and Akane had resumed giving each other.  This went on for a few
minutes, the two fathers clearly more than a little nervous about interfering or
in any way making their presence noticed, until Kasumi sweetly said that she
should show them their new rooms and led the boys upstairs.  After a moment,
Akane and Nabiki exchanged glances and also headed upstairs.  Soun breathed a
sigh of relief and walked over to sit by the panda, who was staring forlornly at
the stairwell.
     "Well, that wasn't so bad, was it, Saotome-kun?"
     "That's what I thought too..."


     "I can't -believe- this!" Akane hissed, as she stalked back and forth
across the room.  "The whole engagement business was stupid to begin with, but
for Dad to do it even after we found out about...about those two PERVERTS..."
     "Personally, I think it's kind of cool they can change into girls," Nabiki
said calmly from her position on the bed.  Then she grimaced, and added, "I
don't particularly want to be engaged to one of them, though."
     "So what do we DO!?" Akane raged.
     "Well first, you can sit down before you wear a hole in the floor."  Akane
glared, but finally threw herself down in a chair.  Nabiki smiled slightly, and
said, "Good.  Now we decide what to do.  I think Daddy's dead-set on this
engagement thing, and that means Mr. Saotome probably is too."
     "So what does -that- mean?" snarled Akane.  "All it means is we can't do
     Nabiki held up a finger.  "Ah-ah-ah, I didn't say that.  The parents - both
of them - may be big on this whole fiancee business, but Ranma and Panma
themselves aren't."
     Akane's brow furrowed, but at least she had calmed down slightly.  "So
     "So all we have to do is...arrange a few things to make sure they -really-
aren't enthusiastic about staying around.  Nothing that can be traced to us
directly, of course, but if we pull strings to make their lives hell for a week
or two, I bet they go back to China no matter what ran them out or what the
parents say."  Especially Panma, she thought.  Ranma didn't like his curse, but
her 'fiancee' obviously despised it.  It wouldn't take much to get him to leave.
     Akane nodded, catching on.  "Then, when they're gone, we can talk Dad out
of this whole stupid business."
     "Exactly.  Especially if we make it look like they've deserted us.  You
know Daddy...he'll get over it, but by that time, we won't have to worry about
marrying either of them."
     "So what do we do?"
     "Well, first I think we can spread a few things at school..."


     "Now, you two don't stay up too long," Kasumi cautioned.  "You've had a
hard day, and I'm sure it's been ages since you've even been in a proper futon."
With that, she left.  As the door closed, Panma gave his brother a disgusted
     "I'm almost glad I got Nabiki instead.  That isn't his daughter, that's a
mother of three."
     "Yeah, well I don't want -any- of 'em," growled Ranma, throwing himself
down on his futon.  "Especially not the one I got.  'Pervert', she
I'd -want- to stare at a tomboy like that..."
     Panma also lay down, though more casually.  "Ah, it's not such a big deal."
     "How do you figure?"
     "This is the modern era, bro.  We're not -obligated- to marry anyone they
put in front of us, only to consider it.  Well, consider them considered and
rejected.  They can't force us to marry anyone, and in a month or so, things'll
have cooled down in China and we'll head back and get cured."
     "You think it's really that simple?" said Ranma dubiously.
     "Of course.  You think those two numbskulls can come up with anything more
complicated?  They probably got drunk one night and agreed on it, thinking we'd
fall in love at first sight."  He snorted, and continued, "There's nothing they
can do to stop us, and when we come back, old man Tendo'll eventually figure out
we're not going to do it.
     "Then he'll probably toss Pop and us out, and we'll be on our way again
like nothing ever happened?"
     "You got it," Panma grinned, then frowned as a thought occurred to him.
"Let's not tell the girls about it.  If one of them mentions it where the
parents can hear, or worse, if one actually gets ideas about going through with
this load of manure, we may never get away."  He paused, then added, "We should
try to be civil, though.  No use picking fights, and I'll bet yours, at least,
will be okay once she calms down."
     "Yeah, right."
     "Don't be so sure.  Remember what she was like when she thought we were
girls?  She's probably just high strung about that sort of thing."
     Ranma considered it for a moment, frowning as if trying to find a reason to
object.  Finally, he sighed and nodded.  "You're probably right."
     "Aren't I always?"
     "Only in your dreams, bro."
     "And speaking of dreams, I don't know about you, but the little mother had
some good advice if you ask me."  Sitting up, Panma jerked the light cord, and
then lay down in the cool darkness.  "So I'm going to get some rest.  Goodnight,
     "Night."  As both lay back, Panma's breathing became even fairly quickly,
but Ranma lay awake for a long time, staring up at the ceiling.  His brother -
seemed- to have all bases covered, but Ranma couldn't shake the gut feeling that
this wasn't going to be so simple.  Finally, he shook his head in disgust.  He
was just getting paranoid after the past few weeks.  Closing his eyes, Ranma
drifted to sleep...
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