Ranma 1/2 is owned by Takahashi Rumiko, and is used without permission.

			a Ranma 1/2 fanfic by
			Scott Schimmel

			Chapter One


	A cord.  A long cord, of bright crimson silk, with a tiny
golden band of thread ringing it near either end.  A beautiful cord, a
cord of exquisite workmanship (if that was the correct term), a
veritable paragon among cords.

	Yet -- only a cord.

	Tatewaki Kunou frowned at his sister.  "And what, pray tell,
is this?"  He shook the coiled cord, emphasizing the object of his

	An amused, condescending smile flickered across Kodachi's
face.  "It is a cord, brother dear."

	"I know that."  There was no anger in the words, for that, he
knew, would only encourage her.  "What I fail to see is how this...
cord... might aid me in liberating my loves from the clutches of the
foul sorcerer Saotome."

	She began to retort.  "Lies!  It's those witches who have--"

	Tatewaki blinked.  It was not often that his sister had the
presence of mind to stop in the midst of her ranting. (1)  Perhaps she
had finally seen the truth.  Yes, that was it; his superlative poetic
skills had finally convinced her.  Surely he was favored by the gods,
to accomplish so momentous a task.  This must be the day Saotome was
fated to fall before his prowess.  But wait; his sister was speaking,
speaking of the instrument that would (she claimed) free Akane Tendo
and the pigtailed girl.  With an effort, he fought back the euphoria.
Time enough to rejoice later; for now, the warrior's keen mind would
need to concentrate fully on the task at hand.  He nodded sagely to

	Then he realized that Kodachi had finished speaking.  She was
watching him expectantly.  How could he frame his response?

	"Are you certain?" he asked, drawing his eyebrows together in
what he imagined to be a look of noble concentration. (2)

	"Why, brother, dear, you weren't listening."  It was not a
question.  Something in her voice sent chills down his spine.  He
remained silent, hoping she would take it as outraged denial.  Which,
of course, it was.  Certainly.

	Before he could begin another long internal monologue, Kodachi
continued, "As I said, brother, it is true.  That rope possesses the
ability to bind souls together.  You must decide which of the -- of
your loves to free."  Her eyes bored into his.  "Then, simply have her
hold the end of that cord, and her soul shall be bound to yours

	Forever...?  That would mean that -- wait.  "I must...
choose?"  Why had he not guessed that his sister's gift would be the
cause of such anguish? (3)

	"You must, brother, for it will work only once."  She smiled.
"I am sorry about that," she added, not meaning a word of it.

	"There comes a time," the elder Kunou intoned, "When a man
must resolve himself, no matter what pain it cause him.  That time now
is come.  Yet, how sould I choose between two perfections?  Akane
Tendo... pigtailed girl...  Curse you, Fate, for bringing me to this

	Kodachi coughed, stifling a laugh.  "There is no need to
hurry.  Meditate on it tonight, and give the cord to your chosen
tomorrow at school."

	After a moment of thought (4), Tatewaki nodded.  "I think
there is merit in your suggestion.  I thank you, sister, for your help
in this matter."  He would retreat to his quarters, there to spend the
night in a vigil.  Tomorrow, one of his loves would be freed.

	Had he been more alert, Tatewaki Kunou might have asked
himself why his twisted younger sibling would offer him any help,
given her well-known feelings about the objects of his obsession.
But, of course, Tatewaki was Tatewaki; that is to say, far from
anything that could be considered "alert" or "perceptive" or
"intelligent." ()  Instead, he spent a sleepless night pondering
the eternal question of his existence.

	"Akane Tendo... or the pigtailed girl... how can I choose?!"

1 - Proving that there really -is- a first time for everything.
2 - It actually made him look more like he had just had a large weight
    pushed onto his head.  Which happened quite often, generally while
    he was trying to concentrate.  Blame Pavlov.
3 - Because he's an idiot.
4 - Which quickly tired him out.
5 - Some went so far as to doubt whether he could be classified as
    "sentient," in fact.


	The next morning dawned.  Ranma Saotome would later note that
moment as the beginning of his troubles, for it was then that he was
roused from a dreamless sleep by the impact of a bucket of icy
water. (1)

	"Wake up, Ranma.  I've decided we should start our morning
exercises earlier."

	In other words, Genma had awakened early and found himself
unable to get back to sleep.  So he'd decided Ranma wouldn't sleep,
either.  "Right, Pop.  Let me get some hot water first."

	"A true martial artist doesn't dwell on such inconveniences.
Come on, boy."

	Great, the old man was in lecture mode this morning.  Better
just get this over with.  "Whatever."

	Dressing quickly, Ranma leapt out the window, landing lightly
on his feet in the yard.  Not to be outdone, Genma followed, more
awkwardly.  Still, Ranma had to give the old man some points for not
missing the landing.  He slipped casually into a defensive stance,
waiting for his father's first attack.

	He didn't have long to wait.  Smiling, he ducked beneath a
roundhouse kick, blocked two punches, and dropped low beneath a third,
simultaneously trying to sweep Genma's legs out from under him.  Genma
recovered from the punch barely in time to leap backwards.  Already he
seemed to be breathing hard.  Ranma wasn't.  He could keep this up all

	Genma must have known that, too; he didn't wait long before
charging in with another attack.  Ranma allowed himself a small smile.
Today, he was going to try something a little unusual.  This time,
when the punch came, he neither blocked, dodged aside, nor sprung
upward over the attack.  Instead, he waited until the moment before it
struck him... and rolled backwards.

	Genma's eyes were wide with surprise as he barreled forward,
unable to stop his momentum.  Ranma grinned; perfect.  Just as he'd
planned.  He kicked upward as he continued rolling back, adding a
boost to Genma's motion and throwing the older man into the air.
Ranma was back on his feet before Genma splashed down into the koi
pond. (2)

	"We're done already?" he asked the panda.  Turning away before
it could respond, he continued, "No objections... I guess so, then."
Satisfied, he started to walk back into the house.

	Then a sign hit his head.  Hard. (3)

1 - The water was bad enough, but being hit by the bucket was adding
    insult to injury.
2 - They -always- land in the koi pond.  This makes for some very
    unhappy koi, one would imagine.
3 - The force of the blow, that is.  Not Ranma's head.  Although that
    would apply too.


	"Ranma?  Are you awake?"

	Ranma was, barely.  He reluctantly opened one eye, then the
other.  "Wh-- Akane?  Ow."  His head throbbed as he sat up, and he
rubbed the back of it with one hand as he tried to remember what had
happened.  And why Akane, dressed in her school uniform and holding a
kettle in front of her in both hands, was standing in the doorway.

	"Good, we might still be on time after all.  Here."  Puzzled,
Ranma accepted the kettle from her.  She rolled her eyes.  "Well, go
on, change back."

	Oh.  He hadn't noticed he was still a girl until she brought
it up.  "Uh, thanks," he said, pouring the hot water over his head.
He felt the usual momentary disorientation as the change swept through
his body--enlarging, expanding, transforming.

	Akane shifted impatiently.  "Hurry up, Ranma, or we'll be late
for school."

	"Hey, I'm... wait.  It's that late already?"  So much for an
early start.  He'd have to... 'talk'... with his father later.

	Akane nodded, but Ranma was already on his feet and hurrying
toward the door.  She turned and led him down the stairs and, after a
shouted goodbye, out the front door.

	Only then did Ranma realize something.  "Hey, wait!  I haven't
eaten breakfast yet." (1)

	Akane glanced back at him over her shoulder as they ran.
"There's no time."  Great, what else could go wrong today? (2)  "But
don't worry, I made you a big lunch!"

	Ranma stumbled, nearly falling.  "I had to ask," he muttered

	She must have heard him anyway.  "What's that?"

	"Uh, nothing."  He had increased his pace a little, and they
were now nearly side by side.  She glanced at him, but said nothing.
Had she believed him?  Probably she just wasn't interested enough to

	They weren't far from school, now, and Akane speeded up,
running a short distance in front of him once again.  He wondered why
she was so concerned with getting to school on time.  She could have
left earlier, right?

	He was preoccupied enough not to notice the water until it
struck him, splashing his face and soaking his shirt.  He spluttered
for a second, wiping at his face with one sleeve.  "Aw, man, not that
old lady again..."

	"Honestly, Ranma.  Can't you watch where you're going?"  He
didn't bother replying.  No sense in starting a fight, considering the
way things had been going.  "We don't have time to stop for hot water.
You'll have to stay as you are for a little while."

	Ranma clenched his fists, biting back a growl; he hated going
to school as a girl.  But Akane was right -- for once.  If they
stopped, they would be late.  That didn't bother him, but Akane wanted
to be on time.  So they wouldn't stop.

	He sighed.  He hoped she appreciated this.

	The gates to the school loomed before them.  They'd make it
with a minute to spare, Ranma estimated as they entered the
schoolyard.  That is, if they weren't--

	"Akane Tendo!  Pig-tailed girl!"


	"I do -not- need this," Ranma mumbled, pressing one hand
against his temples.  Akane only sighed.  Meanwhile, Kunou babbled on.

	"...Both my goddesses have come!  Is this not a clear
indication from Fate, nay, a sign from the gods?!"  He was really
getting into it.  This would take a while.

	Ranma wasn't planning to wait.  "Your turn or mine?" he asked

	"Go ahead," she offered graciously.  Ranma grinned,
approaching Kunou in the manner of a cat approaching an unaware mouse.

	"Ah, my love, are you so eager to accept the gift I have
brought you?  My heart rejoices to--"

	"Save it, Kunou."  Ranma was ten feet away and closing fast.
Once good kick...  "We don't want your flowers.  Get it?" (3)

	"But I have not brought you flowers.  Today, I bring you this
humble gift."  With a flourish, he produced... a length of cord.  Red
silk cord.

	Ranma, taken by surprise, stopped and stared.  "What now?  Are
you planning to tie us up and carry us off, or something?"  He could
almost hear Akane's anger flare behind him as he spoke.  "Geez,

	"Nay, my love, it is a gift."

	"I've had enough of this," Akane declared.  She began to head
for the school building.  "See you in class, Ranma."

	"Wait, Akane Tendo," Tatewaki pleaded.  She turned, favoring
him with a flat stare.  "Please, accept my humble offering."  He
turned back to Ranma.  "And you as well, pig-tailed girl."  He whirled
the length of cord above his head, once, twice, three times... and
threw.  In the air, its ends snaked out.  One moved toward Ranma; the
other was aimed for Akane.

	Kunou must have finally completely snapped, Ranma decided.  It
was a pretty pathetic attack.  Nonchalantly, he caught the end of the
rope out of the air.  A short distance away, Akane did the same.

	Tatewaki rejoiced.  His plan had been simple, yet effective.
Both his loves would be his.

	After all, does a cord not have -two- ends?

	Meanwhile, Ranma studied said cord, unimpressed.  It didn't
even look particularly strong.  Maybe it really was a present after
all.  It wasn't normal, but neither was Kunou.

	"Are you satisfied now?" Ranma heard himself ask.

	His jaw dropped.  He hadn't spoken.  "Hey," he protested,
"What's going on?"  His voice sounded strange.  Numbly, he let his
eyes travel along the length of the cord, from his hand to...

	His hand.  Ranma was holding the other end of the cord,
staring at him.  Involuntarily, he gasped.  But that was impossible,
Akane was... Akane was...

	He glanced downward at himself and screamed as, for the second
time in his life, he found himself in a body not his own.

	Akane was -him-.

1 - Needless to say, in Ranma's view, this was a major catastrophe.
2 - Officially, this is the second stupidest thing a person could ever
    say in a fanfic.
3 - This, of course, was a rhetorical question.  Even Ranma knew by
    now that he wouldn't.