From his vantage point on the rooftop, the figure watched as the 
red-haired girl chased her foe down the street.  The old man, so short as 
to be ridiculous-looking, was waving around a small white object.  The 
figure's sharp eyes focused on the object, a cylindrical gilt-edged scroll.  
He smiled.  It was almost time...
	"Give that back, you old freak!" cried the redhead angrily.
	"Not a chance, sweetcakes!" cackled the old man.  "With this, I 
can have all the panties I've ever wanted!"  The girl growled inarticulately 
and made a lunge for him, but the old man simply whapped her on the head 
with a pipe without even looking; this improbably sent her flying back to 
land on the street, momentarily stunned.  The old man turned with a leer 
and stuck his tongue out at her...but his eyes bulged out a moment later 
as he was caught with a powerful kick from behind and sent flying.  The 
girl blinked and looked at the figure, who was casually examining the 
scroll the old man had been holding a moment before.  He was a handsome, 
somewhat effeminate-looking young man with a lean, powerful build, clad in 
baggy white asian-style pants and a blue scaled vest and bracers.  Two long 
tendrils of hair curled below his ears, which had earrings, and he appeared 
to be using a pair of pantyhose as a sash.
	"P-pantyhose!"  cried the girl.  Without changing expression, the 
young man flicked a rock off the ground with his toe and batted it at her, 
forcing her to roll to the side.
	"Nice to see you again, fem-boy," smiled Pantyhose Tarou, as Ranma 
rose to her feet.
	"That's a matter of opinion..." growled the boy-turned girl.  She 
rushed forward and made a swipe at him, but with an evil chuckle Tarou 
backpeddled out of range.  "Give that back!"
	"Oh, I couldn't do that," he sneered.  "Something this valuable...
you'd probably waste it."
	"How'd you find out about it anyway?"
	"That's for me to know and you to find out, fem-boy.  I have my 
ways..."  Tarou chuckled evilly again.  Actually, it had only been by pure 
chance he had heard from a peddler a story about the odd travelling group 
that he had recognized as Ranma Saotome and his friends, but Tarou was
enjoying the upper hand immensely, and felt no need to mention this.  He 
noted with great satisfaction that his sneering reply had angered Ranma 
even more, and she was now tensing herself for another attack.  He shifted 
back into a more defensive position, awaiting the rush, when...
	"Just one second!"
	Both almost-combatants turned to see a growling Happousai.  The old 
man was in a combat stance, and was surrounded by a glowing red aura.  
Enmity forgotten-or seemingly so-in the face of this common threat, Tarou 
and Ranma drew closer together as they faced the old lech.
	"Pantyhose, how DARE you attack your godfather so!"  
	Tarou felt a surge of anger at the old man's words.  Many people on 
the street had stopped (from a respectful distance) to watch the fight, but 
now Tarou felt their eyes on him alone; incredulous, laughing... "Don't call 
me that!" he snarled, clenching his fists.
	Ignoring Tarou's anger, Happousai directed his wrathful gaze to the 
girl.  "And you, Ranma, how dare -you- try to steal my scroll!"
	"YOUR scroll!?" retorted Ranma.  "Who fought that stupid monster to 
get it, huh?"  But Happousai cared as little for his pupil's rage as he did 
for his godson's.  After all, there were panties on the line.
	"Now," the old lech roared, "both of you will PAY!!!"  He reared 
back, as best as his diminutive height would allow, aura hissing like a 
snake.  Surging forward, he snapped out his palms and released a huge bolt 
of energy at his two adversaries.  Ranma tensed to leap away...but then 
Tarou almost casually reached out, grabbed the back of Ranma's shirt and 
yanked her in front of him, allowing her to take the brunt of the blast.  
After a moment, he let his unconscious ‘shield’ drop to the ground in a 
heap, and looked down with a satisfied smirk.
	"And -that- was for betraying me to that psychopath Rouge, fem-boy."
	"PANTYHOSE..." growled Happousai, the reverberating tones of his 
voice telling Tarou even before he looked that his battle aura was growing 
into giant mode.  The Chinese boy's anger once more flared, but he forced it 
down and remained outwardly calm as he turned towards the old lech once 
	"Pantyhose?" he echoed mockingly.  "Sure."  Reaching into a secret 
pocket in his vest, he whipped out a pair and tossed it in the air.  The 
angry red aura instantly disappeared as the perverted old man made a lunge 
for the undergarment...which gave Tarou the perfect opportunity he needed to 
plant a kick under his chin, sending him flying into the stratosphere with 
his new goodie.  The old man already forgotten, Tarou started to unravel the 
scroll when a slight noise alerted his senses.  Glancing over, he sighed as 
he watched Ranma clamber painfully to her feet.  "You again?" he said in 
some annoyance.  "You're worse than a cockroach, fem-boy.  At least when you 
step on them, they stay dead."
	"Shut up, you jerk!" Ranma snarled.  She took a slightly unsteady 
step forward.  "Give me back that scroll before I have to hurt you." 
	Tarou chuckled again, with genuine amusement.  "You?  Hurt me?  
You'd be lucky to do that in full health, and right now you can barely stand 
on your own two feet."  Ranma's expression became, if possible, even more 
enraged, as Tarou had known it would.  The best way to get Ranma to do 
anything, after all, was to point out that the hermaphrodite had no chance 
at it.  
	Somewhat surprisingly, however, she didn't attack immediately.  
Instead, she retorted, "What are you gonna do with that scroll anyway?  
Change your name?  What a waste."  
	"Sort of like you curing your curse, eh, fem-boy?" Tarou shot back 
cooly.  "Of course, if you'd had any brains in the first place you would 
have had that cured long ago, before your stupidity got Jyusenkyou 
destroyed.  And, of course, there's also the fact you've had your piddly
little curse for...what?  Two years?...while I've had mine my entire life."  
He turned his attention back to the scroll, making as if to unroll it.  
Seeing this, Ranma threw caution to the winds and ran forward, hoping to get 
the scroll away.  
	Tarou, of course, had been expecting exactly this reaction, and as 
the girl rushed in he snapped into a defensive stance.  Once, twice, three 
times he blocked her strikes with his free arm, and then as she came in for 
a final blow he slipped to the slide, letting her own momentum carry her 
past him, and adding a backhand for good measure.  "Getting a little slow, 
fem-boy!" he taunted, as Ranma skidded to a halt.  
	With a growl, she spun around and launched a powerful haymaker, 
forgetting in her rage that as a girl she had considerably less reach.  This 
was the mistake Tarou had been waiting for.  With exaggerated casualness he 
stepped towards the attack and smashed a foreknuckle into Ranma's face, not 
even blinking at the fist prematurely stopped only a few inches from his own
	"Like I told you, fem-boy..." Pulling his arm back, he launched a 
fresh series of foreknuckles, most of which landed on his dazed adversary, 
and finished with a deadly duo-knuckle strike to the throat that sent the 
ostensible girl to her knees, gasping for air.  It was doubtful whether she 
even noticed the kick coming, but she certainly felt it, flying back to 
collide heavily with the wall.  Before she even had time to slump, Tarou was 
there, flicking a palm thrust which she clumsily blocked, then using the 
diversion to reach out, grab her face, and ram her head into the wall with 
terrific force.  Ranma's eyes glazed over and she fell, dazed.  Tarou 
smirked down at her.  "'s not a good idea to attack people when you're 
already half dead.  Well, ta ta.  I'd like to say it's been nice knowing 
you, but it hasn't.  At least it'll be nice to have -never- known you."
	Quickly, he walked a few steps away, anxious to get this over with 
before the stubborn imbecile could try to continue the fight.  Unravelling 
the scroll, he studied the archaic characters with a smile.  No wonder 
fem-boy hadn't used the scroll yet.  It was rather archiac Mandarin, and he 
no doubt had needed someone to correctly translate it for him.  Tarou, whose 
travels over the last few years had made him fluent in most of the languages 
of East Asia, had no such difficulties.  Still, he carefully read the short 
inscription, sounding out each syllable in his mind to ensure there would be 
no mistakes.  
	Finally he was satisfied, and he read the chant aloud, pronouncing 
each word clearly and distinctly.  The characters burned even as he did so, 
disappearing from the scroll in tiny wisps of smoke.  As he finished, Tarou 
spared one moment to look triumphantly at his most hated enemy, who was 
slowly rising to her feet.  "Nobody saved you this time, fem-boy," he 
sneered.  "After all the times you've gotten in my way, how appropriate that 
you should deliver a solution to this problem even better than the one I had 
in mind before."  
	Then he turned his attention back to the scroll.  It was blank, 
seemingly innocuous, but Tarou knew it was simply waiting for the words, the 
words that during the last few days he had dreamed of ironic, 
that this instrument of sheer, unparalleled power would succeed where his 
various plots and schemes had failed.  But then, he knew better than most 
that occasionally crude power was the most effective solution... Ranma was 
up now, and Tarou knew he didn't have any more time to waste.  Taking a deep 
breath, he said calmly, "Very well, scroll.  Heed my words.  My 
wish is that Happousai had never named me!"        
	In response, the scroll started to glow.  At first a soft glow, it 
soon strengthened and expanded, so that within the space of a few heartbeats 
it was nearly blinding.  However, Tarou could not pull his eyes away, even 
as the light grew until it seemed that it consumed the entire world, and 
perhaps even beyond.  Faintly, he could hear Ranma shout, though whether it 
was words or simply a cry of rage he could not make out.  But all this meant 
nothing to him.  Only one thing ran through his brain: exultation.  He had 
finally done it.  He had beaten all the odds.  And he didn't even have to 
worry about building a new life for himself, because now he would have had 
an ordinary, happy one, the life his name had denied him.  He would have 
friends, relatives, a home...he would see his mother again...this time, 
things would work out right.  Pantyhose Tarou smiled, as everything went 

			 C&A Productions Presents

		      A New Work of Ranma Fanfiction

			   The Ties That Bind

			 Written By Chris McNeil

	      Original Concept Provided by Robert Morrison
All content unless stated otherwise is ©2021 Chris McNeil. He can be contacted here. The banner picture is courtesy of Jason Heavensrun. You can find more of his stuff at Checkmate Studios.