Ranma 1/2 manga fanfiction
by Gary Kleppe

The characters of Ranma 1/2 are the creation of and rightful property of Rumiko Takahashi. They are used here without permission. This story may be freely redistributed, but it should not be altered substantially or used for profit in any way.


The Kuno mansion stood on the outskirts of Nerima, as it had for many generations. Building sections of widely varying size and shape framed a lushly wooded central courtyard. The mansion was a tribute to the wealth and prestige of the Kuno family; or, perhaps, merely a gluttonous waste of space and resources.

Tatewaki Kuno had returned to this place that had once been his home. There was no one here who he wanted to see; it was only his memories of the place that had called him to visit.

He walked through the grounds, under cover of the darkness. As a youth, he had loved his home. It was his connection to the great and noble samurai history of the Kuno clan. Now, as he looked at it in the dim evening light, it was a reminder of what he had been and the mistakes that he had made.

Perhaps he should not have come here, he thought. Being in the place posed the kind of danger that a drink did to a reformed alcoholic. For a moment, he imagined demons lying in the shadows of the darkened estate, ready to leap out at him during a careless moment and drag him back to being what he once was. He dismissed the thought as the effects of insufficient sleep, and walked toward the exit.

Something from out of the darkness struck Tatewaki, knocking him down.

He rolled over, pulling out a bokken as his eyes searched for the source of the blow. A shadowy figure was barely visible, illuminated from the side by one of the mansion's lamps. Focusing his gaze, he identified his attacker.


"Brother, dear! I mistook you for an intruder. How careless of me." Kodachi's voice carried a touch of mockery. "Perhaps you ought to have announced yourself. Have you only now returned from China?"

Tatewaki eyed his sister suspiciously, her black leotard making her nearly invisible in the darkness. "Yes. I cannot stay here, as I have urgent business at the Tendo dojo."

"Oh, do allow me to accompany you there. I've only recently returned here myself. I'd so like to hear what fascinating things you and the others have been up to during these last few years."

"What of Father?"

"He has returned to his beloved Hawaii. He mentioned something about working to aid some native people's movement there. What about you, Brother? Are you still pursuing Tendo Akane and that girl with the pig-tail?"

"No, for I have pledged my love to Shan Pu of the Amazons."

"Why, Brother!" she said with a slight smile. "Not only a mere waitress, but one from a savage culture? What would Mother say?"

Some raw impulse took control of Tatewaki. He charged with his bokken, swinging it at his sister.

Kodachi moved effortlessly out of the way of the blow, and was instantly behind her brother. Her insane laugh echoed through the yard as she paused to allow him to turn around. Her ribbon flashed out and snaked itself around his bokken, pulling it out of his hands and sending it to the ground.

"You ought to learn to control your temper, Brother," she said condescendingly. "Shall we go now?"

Tatewaki led his sister off the estate. Something felt different about her, something that he could not pin down. He wondered what events had led to her departure those years ago...


Kuno Kodachi bounced over rooftops and fences, with practiced ease, toward her abode. Life was good. It was her last year at St. Hebereke. Her gymnastics team was undefeated for the year, with a perfect record of eight wins by forfeit. Even better, her dullard brother had evidently gone off somewhere, having not been seen for the past few months.

Only one thing was still as it shouldn't be, and she would soon be seeing to that.

Kodachi leapt up onto a taller building, and looked down at the passers-by on the street below. Many years ago, she had read a story called "Flatland". It described a people who existed only in a flat, two-dimensional universe. The people below reminded her of the ones in that story. They walked along, confined to their two-dimensional sidewalks and roads, while she was free to go where she wished.

But it was not merely a matter of physical travel. Some called Kuno Kodachi insane, but the truth was that she simply thought in different ways than the Flatlanders, whose thinking was confined to narrow, predictable paths.

Kodachi had something in particular she needed to think about. Her darling Ranma still eluded her grasp. Kodachi did not quite know why this was. Perhaps the wicked Tendo Akane was trapping him into marrying her, pressuring him through their parents. Then again, she thought, Ranma might just be playing hard to get, or might not even be aware of his true feelings. There was also the girl in the pig-tail; Kodachi wasn't quite sure how she fit into the equation.

Clearly, now was the time for action. Ranma and Akane had almost been married that time several weeks ago, and if left alone would doubtless soon wed for real. Fortunately, the two serving women who had been pursuing Ranma seemed to have given up on him, having not been seen with him recently. The situation was one that presented great risk, but also great opportunity.

It mattered not what tasks needed to be done; Kuno Kodachi, the Black Rose, would complete them. She would get what she wanted, as she always did, one way or another. All she had to do was to think along a different dimension.

Kodachi spotted her main rival, obviously on the way to school, and jumped over to stand in her path. "Tendo Akane, the Black Rose challenges you!"

"Excuse me?!"

"Perhaps your listening comprehension needs work? I challenge you. Be at your Furinkan High School at 3 PM on Saturday. Unless you're afraid, of course. I know that your own abilities are rather... limited."

"Afraid? Of you? No way! I accept!"

"Very well. And to the winner will belong darling Ranma!" Before Akane could react, Kodachi bounced off, her twirling ribbon scattering black rose petals into the air.


Hinako-sensei stood in front of the classroom as she delivered the day's English lesson. Akane sat in her seat, not hearing much of what her teacher was saying -- something about conjugal verbs. The scene between her and Kodachi kept replaying itself, as she mentally malleted herself for allowing Kodachi to provoke her.

Kodachi was right. Her own abilities *were* limited, at least compared to people like Ranma, Ryoga, or Shampoo. Not that Kodachi was in a class with them, either; but she was sure to use every dirty trick in the book to win.

Akane could, of course, just call off the fight. That would be the sensible thing to do, especially since she really had nothing to gain by winning -- she was already going to marry Ranma. Or she could go
through with the challenge, but refuse to let Ranma be the prize. After all, Kodachi surely wasn't going to keep away from him if she lost. She had made a similar bet with Ranma's girl side years ago, and didn't keep her promise then either.

Yes, that would be the simple thing to do. But what would Ranma say? Akane, you're not even good at being a tomboy. I'm sick of protecting you all the time. I'm marrying somebody else, somebody who's not such a weakling.

"Oooohhh!!!!" Akane's fist smashed down on the desk, cracking the top. "How dare he call me that?! I won't lose to her. I won't!!!"

Then she noticed that Hinako, as well as everyone else in the room, was looking at her.

The child-like instructor glared at Akane, taking a coin from her pocket. "Ms. Tendo, I've told this class what would happen to the next person who made an outburst."

Hiroshi raised his hand. "Excuse me, ma'am. I've just found a couple of Snak Kakes." He held up a cellophane-wrapped package with two frosted cupcakes inside. "I guess somebody lost them. Could I give them to you, just until we can find out who the owner is?"

"Mr. Chapatsu. Do you honestly think you can distract me, or buy me off, with a couple of Snak Kakes?"

"Sorry, ma'am."

"Hand over the whole box!"

"Yes ma'am." Hiroshi got out of his seat and set the box on the teacher's desk. On his way back to his chair he whispered, "It's your turn next, Sayuri."

"Mmmm! Yummy!" Hinako wolfed down the food, her intention to punish Akane forgotten. "I love sweets."

Akane sat quietly, still fuming inside.


Saotome Nodoka carefully cut open the envelope and took out the paper inside. It read:

In response to your request for information on Mother Kuno, I've come up with the following. It's a copy of the last known communication from her.

Please send a check for four thousand yen at your convenience. Affectionately yours, (signed) Tendo Nabiki.

That's a relief, Nodoka thought; she had what she wanted without having needed to deal with that insane principal or his even more insane daughter.

She remembered having gone to see the principal several weeks ago.

"Ey, sista!" The Principal sat in his big desk chair, smiling his absurdly wide smile. "I know you. You de mudda o' dat wise guy Ranma. Name Saotome Nobaka, yeah?"

"That's Saotome Nodoka," she said, without a trace of amusement. Being in the Principal's office made her uncomfortable. The furnishings were as chaotic as the man himself, and she had no idea whether anything would blow up in her face if she touched it.

The Principal leaned back in his chair as he sipped some dark colored liquid from a tall glass. "What you wen' comin' here fo', wahine? We wen' had parent-teacher day t'ree months ago."

"Yes, I remember. I fail to see why I should have to make my way through a simulated tropical forest just to discuss my son's academic performance. As it happens, the matter at hand today is not my son; rather, it is your own children."

"Ah, Tatchi and Kotchi... dey such fine kids, yeah?"

"No!" Nodoka's temper flared. This man was obviously being deliberately obtuse. "They are *not* fine! They continually harrass my son and his fiancee without cause! They are completely out of control, and as their father it is your responsibility to do something about it!"

"I try, wahine, I try. I tell Tatchi, 'You gotta be gettin' a haircut.' I even tell him, 'I be givin' you a haircut.' Still, he don' listen. What I goan' do?"

Nodoka sighed. "I've had quite enough of this. If you refuse to be accountable for your family, I shall speak with your wife. Where can I find her?"

The Principal's expression became somber, and he spoke without his usual strange accent. "My dear, dear wife...." A tear rolled out from under his dark sunglasses. Then the smile returned to his face. "All right, wahine. I be helpin' you!"

He held up what appeared to be a common coconut. "My wife's old diary'll tell you where she is. I wen' puttin' it in a coconut dat look like dis one. It down somewhere in de gym. I forget where. You needin' a key to get de t'ing open. De key you goan' find inside one o' de pineapples over in..."

Nodoka was outside in no time, striding forcefully toward the school's exit gate.

Now, thanks to Nabiki, the letter she held in her hand might be able to tell her how to locate Mrs. Kuno. Maybe, she thought, it might also give her some idea as to why the Kuno children had turned out so wrong. Surely it was because of a laxity of discipline, because their parents had not led them down the proper path.

She took the other paper from the envelope, and began to unfold it.


Akane entered the Tendo household after school. "I'm home!" Ranma, sitting in the living room, looked up from his latest issue of Shonen Sunday and waved hello. Genma-panda and Soun turned from their shogi game and also waved.

"Why hello, Akane!" Kasumi exclaimed. As usual, her greeting made it sound as if her sister's return from school were an unexpected pleasure, not the daily routine that it really was. "You have a visitor," she added.

Akane looked into the kitchen to see Kuno Kodachi. "What do you want? Our challenge isn't supposed to be until tomorrow!" Genma and Soun also seemed surprised to see the gymnast.

"I've come so that we may agree on the terms. First of all, the bet. The winner gets Ranma. Do you agree?"

"Hey! Waitaminit!" Ranma put down his manga and stepped toward the kitchen. "Don't I get a say in this?"

"You've fought over me only about a hundred times, Ranma."

"But that's different! I..." Ranma paused, trying to think of something he could say without getting the shogi board broken over his head.

"Akane." Soun looked up from his game. "Are you sure you know what you're getting into here?"

"Yes!" Akane said to Kodachi. "I agree. And I'm not going to lose."

"Such confidence. Anyway, the second thing we must discuss is who will judge our competition. Perhaps some administrator from your school?"

"Like the one who just happens to be your father? How stupid do you think I am? If we really need a referee, how about my father here?" Akane tried to match the smug superiority in Kodachi's voice. "A martial artist like him would be a little better at refereeing a fight, wouldn't you think?"

"Fight? How drearily unimaginative," Kodachi said, not to be outdone in the smugness department. "You are a true Flatlander, aren't you?"

"What does that have to do with anything?" Akane asked angrily. Maybe Kodachi *was* better built than she was. So what?

"My dear girl, my challenge was not to a fight."

"Then what..."

"It was to a cooking contest."

"A what?" Akane, Ranma, and Soun cried out in unison. Genma fell over, scattering shogi pieces onto the floor.

"My father will be in contact with yours, Tendo Akane. They will negotiate arrangements for the judging of the contest and any other necessary matters. Unless you have any objections? No? Good." She
departed once again, laughing maniacally and flinging black rose petals into the air.


Ranma and Akane sat on the living room floor. It was late, and the others had gone to bed already. Akane grunted as she lifted her hand weights up and down, over and over, as Ranma watched.

He knew there was no way he could talk her out of competing against Kodachi. He had found that out from the conversation Akane and Mr. Tendo had had over dinner.

"It's simple," Soun had said. "Whatever arrangements Mr. Kuno offers, I reject. If we can't come to an agreement, there can't be any contest."

"I'm going through with this, Dad!" Akane had replied. "Just make fair arrangements, and make sure that Kodachi won't be able to cheat."

Ranma knew then that the cooking contest would happen. Akane was doing nothing different than what he would have done.

Akane set her weights down. She looked at her fiance and gave a long, frustrated sigh. "I have a problem."

"We have a problem. I'm supposed to be the prize, y'know. So... what're you gonna do?"

"I'm going to put my cooking up against Kodachi's, and I'm not going to cheat. I'll do the best I can. And I'll probably lose. And when I lose..." Extreme tiredness was evident in Akane's voice. "... if I lose, I'm going to look Kodachi right in the eye and tell her that I'm marrying you anyway. I'm marrying you even though I lost the bet, because that's exactly what she would've done. That is... if you'll still...."

Ranma couldn't find the voice to say what he was thinking. He was proud of his fiancee.

Akane sighed. "I let Kodachi play me like a concert piano. And now I'm going to have to do something dishonorable to get out of it."

"Hey, that's not dishonorable, it's just plain sensible." He wondered if he could have handled it if it had been him. The thought of losing at anything always made him a little crazy. "Look, she can't just go around doing stuff like this. We don't have to play by her rules."

"I suppose... but it still feels rotten, you know? I guess that's something I'll have to deal with."

"I told you... we." Ranma inched closer to Akane, and soon he felt her sleepy head on his shoulder. He sat quietly, holding her with one hand, slowly running the fingers of the other through her hair. The closeness normally would've made him uncomfortable, but he was just too tired to resist.

It was just one thing after another in this crazy town, Ranma thought. Just business as usual in Nerima. Maybe it was never his and Akane's fault that they had all the trouble they did. Maybe if they had met outside of this nuthouse of a town, things would have gone okay for them.

Suddenly, Ranma's eyes opened fully, as he sat straight up. "I've got it! I know what to do."


The next morning, Kasumi woke an hour before breakfast, as she always did. The rising sun shone brilliant orange through her window, interrupted only by an occasional rolling cloud. The sun gave life, and life was good. The sunrise always made Kasumi feel good about the whole world and everything in it. She took a moment to savor the feeling.

Soon she would have to go help Akane get ready for her competition against Kodachi. It was wonderful the way Akane was growing up. She and Ranma were surely going to marry soon, and they could go off to college together.

Of course, with Nabiki already gone, that would leave Kasumi alone with Father. Much of her life so far had been spent looking after her two sisters. What would she do after they were gone? She was still only twenty-two, young enough to do something else with her life. But what?

She had once wondered if Doctor Tofu would ask her to marry him. But he always seemed to lose his mind everytime he was in her presence. Even if he could manage to propose, what kind of married life could they have with him always like that? Tofu was no longer in Nerima these days. He had left months ago; to "further his studies", he said. Could it be that he had really left because of Kasumi, because she was making his medical practice impossible?

Kasumi savored the sun's rays some more. They meant life. As long as there was life, things would work out for the best.

Then a scream and a crash sounded from downstairs.


"Aaaaaargghhh!!!!!!" Akane threw the pot against the wall. "This one's no good either!!"

"Akane!" Kasumi ran into the room, clad in her pajamas. "Have you been here all night?"

"I... I can't make anything good! Everything comes out wrong!" Some sort of black residue covered part of Akane's face, as well as most of the stove and several dishes that were scattered around the kitchen. "I've even cooked this recipe before, and it turned out okay then!"

"I'll help you," Kasumi said reassuringly. "First you need a bath, and some rest." She led her sleepy sister toward the kitchen door. "This contest is really important to you, isn't it?"

"I don't want to lose to that... that psycho!"

Kasumi left the kitchen and climbed up the stairs, with Akane leaning on her shoulder. "You were probably too young to remember, but I tried to cook when I was little. No matter how hard Mother tried to help, everything always turned out wrong. I was awful."

Akane looked up through droopy eyelids. "Really?"

Kasumi reached Akane's bedroom and opened the door. "Then Mother passed away. Suddenly it came to me. I could cook just fine after that. Isn't that strange? Sometimes I think it was Mother's last gift to the family that she loved so much. Or maybe I just learned because somebody needed to."

Akane wasn't listening any more; she was lying on her bed, sound asleep.


A nap and a bath later, the two sisters were back together in the newly-cleaned kitchen.

Kasumi handed Akane a piece of paper. "This is a recipe for cookies. All you need to do is follow what it says on this paper. Now let's practice."

"Right! Three cups flour!" Akane quickly grabbed a cylindrical box and poured its white powdery contents into a measuring cup. The box was empty before the half-cup mark was reached. "There isn't enough! What kind of recipe IS this!?" She tapped the box bottom vigorously, as if trying to get more out.

"Akane, that's not flour, it's baking powder. And the flour doesn't get added until later. You're reading the wrong column."

"Aaarrrgh!! How am I supposed to do this?!?" Akane crushed the now empty box in her fist.

Kasumi scooped the baking powder into another container. "You've got to calm down. It's when you get upset like this that you make mistakes."

Akane didn't seem to be listening. She was busy ripping the baking powder box into shreds.

"Akane!" Kasumi's tone was unusually firm. "Do you want to lose this contest?"

Akane dropped the remains of the box she had been destroying. She paused, as the anger in her expression slowly gave way to helplessness. "No," she finally admitted, though it looked like she wouldn't have any choice in the matter.

"Then you have to calm down. You need to be able to follow this recipe, step by step, without getting angry, just as if it were not at all important. That's the only way you'll have any chance at all. Can
you do that?"

Akane swallowed a deep breath, then felt a bit less agitated. "I'll try."

"Good!" Kasumi's normal cheerful expression returned, as if it had never left. "Let's practice, okay?"


"Let's practice, Ranma! Hi-yaa!!" Genma shouted as he launched a flying kick at his son.

Ranma deftly dodged his Pop's strike. They had started sparring to work off a little tension. Akane and Kasumi hadn't come out of the kitchen for hours, and there was nothing else for the rest of them to do but wait.

Nodoka sat outside next to the carp pond, the cool autumn air brushing past her face. She turned her attention from the two fighting men to a letter that she had just opened. Switching the two papers so that the enclosed photocopy was on top, she began to read the letter yet one more time.


When we were wed, your promise to me was that our children would be raised in a way befitting their rightful status as members of a great Samurai clan.

In this duty, you have failed. Your daughter has been defeated several times this year in her martial gymnastics, and your son has not fared better at his kendo. They have also been dating those who are far from suitable for their status, in terms of both status and appearance.

Your children have dishonored me with their failure. I will not stay with you and them. Farewell, husband.

Nodoka frowned as she considered the meaning of the words. They were not what she had expected. Had Mother Kuno failed by pushing her children too hard, rather than by being too permissive? Still, it was hardly the same as...

"Pathetic, boy!" Genma blocked Ranma's arm as it was about to strike. "Concentrate! Your attacks have no power behind them! It's like being hit by a little girl!"

Suddenly, Ranma launched an intense flurry of punches and kicks. "You take that back!! I'm a man!!!" he shouted, as his father blocked frantically. The force of the blows pushed Genma back. A final strike from Ranma sent him flying, to land squarely in the middle of the carp pond.

Nodoka folded up the letter. She had much to think about.


Ranma watched Genma emerge from the pond in panda form. He didn't mean to hit Pop that hard, but his temper had gotten the better of him for a moment. His manhood had always been a sensitive area for him, even before his curse.

The combat was about to resume. Kasumi came from the kitchen in the nick of time, bearing a plate of cookies. "Would you all like a little snack?"

Ranma greedily attacked the cookies, along with his panda father. "Leggo, Pop! This one's mine!" His stomach hummed in grateful joy as it digested one after another of the tasty treats. "Just the thing to y'know, get back my energy. Thanks, Kasumi!"

He noticed Akane, leaning against the wall behind her sister, saying nothing as she just grinned. It was the kind of smile that made her look irresistably cute. What was...

"No way!!" Ranma's jaw dropped in surprise. He took the last half-eaten cookie from his mouth, sniffing at it, tasting it slowly, as Akane just giggled demurely. There was no mistake. It really was good. It really was hers.

Akane's eyes flared with determination, the same determination that pulled Ranma through a hundred fights in which his opponent seemed the only possible victor.

"I can win." For the first time, Ranma believed it.

But he knew it wouldn't be easy for her. Kasumi wouldn't be able to help her during the contest, like she obviously had with these cookies. Kodachi was also certain to try to cheat. Akane had a chance. A slim one, but this point, that was the best they could ask for.


"Alooooooha, evahbody! Welcome to our luau!" The Principal stood, along with Soun and Ranma, on a makeshift wooden platform in the lot behind Furinkan High. He spoke into a microphone. "Today we havin' de biiiiig competition, between dis kahuna's own daughter, Kuno Kochi, and de school's honor student, Tendo Akane! Yeah!"

The two contestants each wore the uniform of their respective school, blue for Furinkan and black for St. Hebereke. They stood on the ground, in front of and on opposite sides of the platform, shooting hostile looks at each other.

A sizeable crowd of students and neighborhood residents had gathered, and was milling about while listening to the Principal. Vendors sold various kinds of food from portable carts; Shampoo was one of them, the only one whom Ranma was able to recognize. She gave him a quick wave hello, which he returned.

Soun took the microphone. "The rules are simple. The Principal and I have agreed on a judge for the contest, whose identity will remain our secret for now. Our daughters will each do their cooking in the Home Ec rooms. The judge will then choose the one that he or she likes best."

Ranma felt Soun's elbow nudge him, a reminder that it was his turn to speak. "Oh yeah. Um, any contestant who attempts to interfere with the other's food, ingredients, or person will automatically lose. Oh, and there's gonna be a change in what the prize is for the winner."

Surprised looks greeted this last revelation. "Y'see, I don't trust that everybody is planning to go along with the terms of the bet if they lose." Ranma gave Kodachi a dirty look. "So I'm changin' 'em. The new bet is that the loser has to leave town. Whichever one of you loses can't be seen around here for the next four years. Everybody agree to that?"

"That is acceptable to me," Kodachi said. "I have no intention of losing."

"Neither have I," Akane retorted. "I agree too."

"Son," Soun whispered to Ranma as the Principal took the microphone back, "You better have some way of making sure Akane wins this."

"Hey, even if she doesn't, that'll be okay," Ranma whispered back. Seeing Soun's head about to grow to demonic proportions over this last remark, Ranma beat a hasty exit. "Uh, I gotta go use the bathroom."


Akane and Kodachi relocated to the home ec room. The room was filled by rows of old model stove/oven combinations. The two women went to opposite corners of the room, where each had various ingredients piled on a table. Akane's friends, Yuka and Sayuri, sat near her corner, keeping a watch on her ingredients to prevent tampering. Two of Kodachi's friends from St. Hebereke were likewise there, keeping an eye on hers.

"As the one challenged, the choice of dish is yours," Kodachi called from across the room, "but cookies? Really! Why not something more challenging?"

"It's cookies," Akane said decisively. "Hope you can handle it."

"My dear girl," Kodachi said as she moved nonchalantly over towards Akane, "I hope you have somewhere to go for the next four years."

Kodachi surveyed her opponent's territory. Her two little friends were keeping a constant vigil, one watching the oven and the other the raw materials. It would be difficult to sabotage either of them. Perhaps she could distract one of the girls in some way?

Then she noticed the piece of paper next to Akane. Looking closer, she saw that it had some sort of instructions on it. A written recipe! That cheater!

An idea came to Kodachi. She stifled the tremendous urge to laugh over her brilliant inspiration. There was no need for her to sabotage her opponent's cooking. Akane would do that for her.

"Oh dear!" Kodachi pointed at Akane's ingredient table. "Is that a cockroach?"

Akane's gaze turned. Kodachi's pen flashed out of her pocket. A numeral that had been a three on the recipe was instantly transformed into a nine.

Sayuri examined the situation. "It's a chocolate chip," she concluded.

"My mistake. Please excuse me, I shall use the facilities before cooking." Kodachi had to get away to where she could laugh; the temptation was unbearable. She felt as if she had been holding her breath for hours.


Akane retreived a large bowl and some measuring cups from the cupboard and set them down on the table in front of her. She took a stick of butter, verifying twice that it was in fact butter and was the amount specified in her recipie, and began to work it with her spoon the way she had practiced with Kasumi. Yuka and Sayuri kept their assigned watches and remained quiet, forbidden by the rules to help Akane with her cooking.

Kodachi's voice came abruptly from the hallway. "You?!"


Ranma had decided that, while this was Akane's fight, giving her a little edge wouldn't hurt. Kodachi wasn't exactly noted for her mental stability. If he could unnerve her enough, she might crack. Maybe then she'd drug her food, or do something else stupid.

He had thought of this earlier in the afternoon, and come up with a plan to provoke Kodachi. He didn't tell Akane what he was going to do, thinking that she might get mad at him for not trusting her to win on her own. It wasn't that he didn't trust her, he just figured that a little extra insurance couldn't hurt.

So, after a quick splash of water and change to some more feminine-looking clothes, out from the bathroom came the...

"Pig-tailed girl!"

Ranma gave a very good imitation Kodachi-style laugh. "Foolish girl, you've played right into my hands! Don't you know that it is I who loves Ranma most of all? By removing Tendo Akane from the scene, you leave dearest for me!"

Akane stuck her head out of the room. "Ranma!" She sounded annoyed.

Uh oh, Ranma thought.

"Next time ask before you borrow my clothes!" She went back to her cooking.


"I shall deal with you in due course, pig-tailed one." Kodachi walked past Ranma, back toward the Home Ec room.

"Oh, my heart goes pitty-pat just thinking of it!" Ranma smiled cutely, eyelashes fluttering, head resting on clasped hands. "Little me, in the arms of my big, strong darling! Tee hee!"

A voice came from behind. "Ranma." It was Nodoka's voice.

"Gaaaaaa!!" Visions of decapitation ran through Ranma's mind. "Mom! I-- I--"

"Ranma, we must talk."


A quick change of clothes and gender later, a somber Ranma faced his mother.

Thoughts of what he had just done raced around his mind; the final penitence of the man on his way to the chopping block. He was wrong to try to win the contest for Akane. It didn't matter what kind of competition it was, or what was at stake; if it had been him, he would have never forgiven someone who interfered in one of his battles.

"Mom, I can explain..."


"Ranma, I've come here to tell you that I am declaring your father's promise null and void. Your manhood is now in your own hands. You will not be asked by me to commit seppuku, now or ever."

"Huh? Why..."

Nodoka turned to go. "I shall be out with the crowd, awaiting the results of the competition."

Ranma started to say something, then stopped. He bowed to his mother. "Thank you, Mother. You honor me with your faith and trust."

Nodoka returned her son's bow, then turned and walked down the school corridor. As she approached the exit, she heard a yell from behind her.


She smiled.


Later, the contestants had resumed their original positions outside. The Principal, once again on the platform with Soun and Ranma, addressed the crowd. "Now de big moment, yeah! We goan see who da winnah!"

A school secretary brought out two plates of cookies, numbered one and two, and a piece of paper, all of which she placed in front of the three men.

Soun picked up the paper. "The decision has been made. The judge reports that 'item one was very good. Item two, though, was one'..." Soun started to cry; whether it was joy or sadness, no one could tell. "...'was one of the best things I've ever tasted!'"

Akane's heart fell. She had tried her best, but it didn't turn out the way it had with Kasumi. She could tell when she put the cookies into the oven that the dough didn't feel the same as it had before. Kodachi was an expert cook; if anyone's food was the best someone had ever tasted, it would be hers.

"It says that! Right here!!" Soun sobbed. "It really does!"

"Get on wid' it, brudda!" The Principal snatched the paper. "De winnah is numba two... Tendo Akane! Tendo Akane wen' winnin' de match!"

The crowd cheered.


Kodachi did a double take. WHAT? HOW?!? There should have been more than twice too much sugar in Akane's entry. Did they cheat? Perhaps by switching the entries?

She watched as Ranma leapt from the platform down to Akane. The two jumped into the air together, with triumphant yells. Soun cried even harder.

Kodachi took a cookie from the plate marked number two. The texture was flat, glassy, and brittle -- more akin to a candy than a cookie. She bit into it. The taste of pure sugar overpowered any other flavor. How? Who would think *this* more palatable than her own carefully-chosen blend of extracts and seasonings?

The Principal spotted someone coming from the school. "'Ey, 'ere come de judge!"

Kodachi looked to see who her father was looking at. It was... a little girl?

"Ms. Hinako? You were the judge?" Ranma asked.

"You bet!" Hinako started eating from the cookie plates. "I love sweets. They're so yummy!"

"I'm glad you won, Akane," Ranma said. "Even though if you hadn't, it would've been okay."

"How can you say that?!?" Soun cried, suddenly angry at Ranma. "Akane would have been forced to leave town!!"

"Yeah," Ranma answered. "But nobody said I wouldn't be able to go with her."

Akane looked at Ranma and smiled, the irresistably cute smile. "Thank you, Ranma."

Kodachi exited silently. She was nearly sick to her stomach. The moment she had just watched had been nauseatingly saccharine -- far more sugary than the cookies.

She would have disregarded the results of the bet in a second. What are promises to flatlanders anyway? But they had tricked her. They had set it up so that Kuno Kodachi wouldn't get what she wanted.

She left, as promised. But she knew that would be back.

Now she had returned. In the intervening years, she'd acquired some simply delightful little surprises.

She almost had to feel sorry for her dear brother. All those years in training, and she still beat him as if he had been a novice. Not that he hadn't improved -- but he was no match for the new Kuno Kodachi. Not even Ranma would be that. She couldn't wait to see him again.