No way no way no way NO WAY! No way in hell was he going to Tokyo! No way in hell was he going to Furinkan. And there was no way in the universe he was going to any Tendo Dojo.
Tendo. Just thinking that name brought a cold sweat to his brow and almost removed all bowel control. He knew that he might be freaking out over nothing. It might not be her. There were all sorts of Tendos everywhere. It wasn't an uncommon name. But he wasn't going to take the chance.
Besides, even if it wasn't her, what if he ran into her again anyway? She was from Furinkan. Whenever something bad could happen to him, it eventually did. What if the worst thing that could happen did happen? What if she found out he was in town? What if Murphy's Law applied specifically to people named Ranma Saotome?
If things go wrong, there's always the Jusenkyo solution. The thought of using Jusenkyo for that end made his stomach roil in disgust, but faced with a choice between Jusenkyo and her, then there was no choice at all.
He winced and tried to shake off his thoughts. This was no time for introspection. This was a time for action. Get out there and win, Ranma, he thought to himself (it was actually herself, but he always thought of himself as male, even when he was female).
"You're not going to take me there, pop," growled Ranma Saotome. "The only way you'll get me there is in a body bag, 'cause there ain't no way in hell I'm setting foot in there on my own. So make your move, jerkwad, and let's get this thing started."
Genma Saotome snarled at his son's declaration and charged forth. He heaved his panda's body forward and threw a meaty paw ahead of him. Ranma dodged and tossed his father smoothly, gracefully countering Genma's attack.
It was beautiful, really. Their battle, a contest between raving beast and delicate blossom, an ancient dance between warriors - it was breathtaking in its savage ferocity. Back and forth they fought, black and white panda versus red and black martial artist - Ranma in red shirt, black pants, and red fury.
Youth and enthusiasm, though, will always be defeated by age and treachery. Genma let himself be tossed over Ranma's shoulder again and pretended to be beaten. He watched Ranma arrogantly turn his back and walk away muttering something about sucking eggs and China. Genma smiled to himself, then carefully crept behind Ranma and knocked him unconscious with a stop sign liberated from the side of the street. Then he bent down to pick up his son.
Ranma felt an explosive pain behind him and started to slide into darkness. On his way down, he saw her eyes flash in front of him, and he was suddenly lying face down in the middle of the street.
"Nooo," he croaked out. "Won't . . . go . . . you bastard . . ." Weakly, Ranma tried to crawl away from his attacker.
Genma frowned at this last bit of resistance. He hefted the street sign and hit Ranma on the head again, then once more to be safe. Then ten more times because he was feeling put out. After that, he picked up his son and set off for the Tendo Dojo.
Soun Tendo winced at the combined outrage in the voices of his daughters. That, and his youngest was choking him with her bare hands.
"Don't . . . want . . . die . . ," he gasped out. Scowling, Akane Tendo allowed her two older sisters to pull her away (though they'd taken their time about it).
"This is a stupid idea," announced Akane testily.
"I quite agree," agreed Nabiki (she was the middle daughter).
"Father, what were you thinking?" asked Kasumi, the eldest.
"Daughters, listen to your father," whispered Soun Tendo hoarsely, trying to recapture his dignity. "My old friend Genma and I were very close when we were younger. We trained together, fought together, ate together, lived and faced the world together. We were brothers, or as close to brothers as two men could hope to be."
Bewildered at his uncharacteristic eloquence, Soun's daughters exchanged puzzled glances and sat back to listen to his words.
"After facing many hardships for our Art, Genma and I realized that it would be the greatest of crimes not to guarantee the continuation of our School," continued Soun. "We realized then that as we were united in spirit, so too could we be united in family. Daughters, it was our dream that our children would be lifelong friends as we were, and are. Please, my children. Fulfill the dreams of two old friends, and consider your father's request."
Reluctantly, Kasumi looked to her younger sisters and saw their grudging acquiescence. She sighed to herself and silently prayed for strength.
"Of course we shall honour your request, father," said Kasumi on the behalf of her sisters. "We will meet this Ranma Saotome and try to conduct a proper omiai meeting."
Whew, they bought it, thought Soun to himself. Mr. 1984 Runner-up Candidate for District Alderman strikes again!
Akane grumbled to herself at the unfairness of it all. Boys were perverts, perverts with groping hands and leering gazes. All they wanted was to get into her panties and dump her once they got bored. Well, not this girl. She had agreed to a meeting but she hadn't agreed to any marriage.
"So, Dad," began Nabiki. "What kind of guy is this Ranma?"
"Eh, wha?" said Soun, startled from his brief fantasies of political power. "What's who like?"
"Ranma, Dad," sighed Nabiki. "What sort of person is he?"
"Err, umm, he . . ," stammered Soun. Fortunately, he was saved from admitting his total ignorance on Ranma's character when a loud commotion came from the front door.
"Oh dear, could that be them?" asked Kasumi.
"Saotome, is that you?" cried Soun as he jumped up, happy to distract his daughters from their dangerous questioning. Nabiki ran after their father to see what there was to see while Kasumi and Akane decided to stay at the table and wait.
A long moment passed before they heard Nabiki's muffled shout of "Holy Shit!" from the main entrance. The thumps of running feet could be heard coming back.
"Kasumi, Akane, there's a rabid panda here!" shouted Nabiki as she came around the corner with their father. "Run for your lives!"
Akane and Kasumi got up in time to see a panda deposit something on the floor, then turn around and apparently head for the kitchen, which it had passed on the way.
"Is it hungry?" asked Kasumi.
"Never mind that, this girl's been hurt," said Akane. It was only at that moment that the others took notice of the bundle the panda had dropped. It did appear to be a young girl, badly beaten, most likely from the panda's attack on her. After all, why else would she have such bruises on her?
"Oh no, d'you think the panda saved her to eat her for later?" asked Nabiki.
"If it did, we'll show it what we can do, right, Dad?" asked Akane.
Soun was still a bit shocked at things and didn't quite hear her, but he immediately saw a stocky man in a white gi come walking towards him.
"Genma, is that you?" he asked in surprise. "Be careful, there's a rabid panda in the kitchen."
"Soun, don't worry about it, it's, uh, been taken care of," said Genma. "How's Ranma?" Not bothering to wait for an answer, Genma bent over to take a look at the unconscious girl.
"Ah, Genma, that's a girl," pointed out Soun. "That's not your son, is it?"
"My friend, there is a tragic story behind all of this. A dark and terrible tale which ends in tragedy. Oh, my dear friend, look now at a father's shame!" So saying, Genma poured the hot water from the kettle he'd taken from the kitchen onto the female Ranma.
The assembled group gasped as the girl on the living room floor inexplicably turned into a boy. Akane's gasp was loudest as she stared at Ranma's immobile form. Oh my god. Oh my god. Oh my god ohmigod ohmigod.
"Know this, Soun," announced Genma. "My son has been cursed, cursed to turn into a girl by the Springs of Sorrow, by the cursed work of accursed Jusenkyo. Oh, the shame of it all!" Genma wept and beat his chest in dramatic counterpoint to his words.
"Saotome, oh Saotome, what horrors you've endured," commiserated Soun. "But as long as your son can still be a man for one of my daughters, then know that I shall not abandon our agreement. Our schools shall still be united!"
"T-Tendo, you honour me with your words. Yes, yes, our children shall be wed!"
The two friends laughed at their brilliance while Soun's daughters continued to stare at them in shock. Actually, Akane stared at a still-unconscious Ranma, whom she hadn't stopped gaping at since he'd been turned back into a boy.
"Now then, which of your daughters shall he marry, Tendo?" asked Genma, seemingly unappreciative of the unconscious body lying in front of him.
Kasumi and Nabiki were jolted out of their stupor by that question. They exchanged quick glances and nodded in agreement.
"Akane is perfect for him!" cried Kasumi as she pushed Akane forward for inspection.
"That's right, I'm pretty sure she's a lesbian, so it all balances out!" agreed Nabiki enthusiastically as she pushed Akane too.
"Wha - what?" asked Akane in amazement as she was thrown to the wolves by her sisters.
"Oooh," moaned Ranma as he regained consciousness. He slowly woke up and found himself staring into the eyes he'd never forgotten. Oh my god.
"Ranma, what excellent timing," crowed Genma. "Meet your new fiancée, Akane Tendo of the Tendo Training Hall."
Ranma continued to stare at Akane as she stared back. Reluctantly, he broke his gaze and turned to his father.
"Pop," he said slowly, "You've outdone yourself."
"Really, boy?" beamed Genma. And here he'd been worried Ranma would fight the engagement. Nice to see that the boy appreciated what his father had arranged for him. It was also good to know Ranma liked the girl.
"Oh yeah, pop. You engaged me -”
- Here Ranma paused to take a deep breath -
"- To my EX-GIRLFRIEND!!"
Gasps again resounded through the living room.