Soun Tendou, despite not having taught a student in years, still exuded the unmistakable air of a martial arts master.
But not this day.
The tall, dark man with the mustache trembled as he held the postcard in his hands. He nearly tore it up in his excitement. "They're finally coming back," he chortled to himself and looked at the small photograph on the table. It showed a much younger Genma and Nodoka, the latter holding up her red-haired baby daughter. Collecting his resolve, he put up a professional front, stood up, and walked away.
Kasumi was tending to the kitchen when her father stuck his head in and called for her to come to the living room he had just vacated. She just hummed an okay and finished what she was doing, took off her apron and made her way to the living room as she was told to do.
Nabiki was reading a magazine in her room when her father repeated his call. Mumbling an okay through her snack, she got up, adjusted her clothes and was just about to go down to the living room when her father called her back.
"Do you know where your little sister is, Nabiki?" he asked. Nabiki stood in thought for a bit and looked back at the wall clock in her room.
"At this hour, she's probably still on her morning run. She should be back in time for whatever you have planned, Daddy," the middle sister replied as she slipped past her father.
But a few minutes later, all three Tendou sisters were sitting at one side of the table in the obvious order, with their father Soun opposite from them.
"So what's this about, then?" Akane asked, still a little flushed from her morning run and wearing only some shorts, a shirt, and a towel; a sharp contrast with her sisters. In response, her father slid the old photograph across the table.
"This is my old friend and training partner Genma Saotome, his wife Nodoka, and their child Ranma," the Tendou patriarch pointed out. "I haven't seen them in person for several years now. The last time I did, Kasumi was still an infant."
"That must've been quite a while then," Nabiki teased. Kasumi poked her in the shoulder in reply, whispering to Nabiki that she was only two years older.
"Alright, so what about 'em?" Akane restated. She was still not so certain where her father was going with this.
"They've just finished their training vacation in China, and will be visiting us for a short while, for old time's sake and to reunite a little" Soun finally explained. "I can't help but wonder how their child grew up."
As if on cue, the doorbell chimed. Immediately, the whole Tendou family got up and ran towards the front door; Soun and Nabiki actually running, Kasumi running in a distinguished fashion and Akane not really running at all -- she had done plenty of that already.
Walking up to the procession from the entrance was what basically amounted to an ugly guy and his hot daughter, his wife trailing a short distance behind. The girl was wearing a fluffy cap with cat ears that didn't mesh all that well with the rest of her very Chinese-looking outfit, her hands hidden behind her back.
The stout man -- for it would be a grave error in judgment to consider Genma Saotome "fat" -- just growled and smiled.
"Ah, Saotome, you're back," Soun happily exclaimed as he bumped his fist against Genma's, harder than most fist-bumps had any right to be. He then turned to the girl standing next to his old friend. "And that makes you..."
"I'm Ranma Saotome, sorry 'bout this," the girl apologized for nothing Soun was aware of.
"Sorry 'bout what, girl?" the Tendou patriarch asked.
"Sorry about having to impose on your hospitality longer than we intended to," Nodoka spoke up from behind her husband, putting away a halfway-fancy umbrella. "It seems that in our absence there was a fire and our house took the worst of it. We found out when we arrived to drop off our camping supplies."
"We'd have come earlier if we hadn't had to go through a bunch of paperwork and 'salvaging'," Genma took over, while making air quotes at the appropriate moment. "But now we're technically homeless, so until that's resolved we hoped to crash here. Surely you'd accommodate your old drinking buddy and his pretty daughter?"
On cue, Ranma put up the cute face that had helped halve the costs of the boat trip back to Japan. It looked sweet enough to make Soun feel like brushing his teeth.
"Of course, of course, make yourselves at home. The Tendou compound is large enough to fit the seven of us, I'm certain," Soun said between laughs as he held one hand behind his head. "Now, I don't think you've met my pretty daughters yet, have you?" he rhetorically inquired as he adjusted the brown gi he habitually wore, a well-deserved look of pride evident on his face.
"Only Kasumi, when she was just this big," Genma jokingly replied, holding out his hands with an approximately toddler-sized distance between them. Kasumi, expectedly, just barely suppressed a giggle, hand at her mouth.
"Well now, come in, come in," Soun insisted.
When the entire party was gathered in the living room, backpacks collected in a corner, Soun began introductions.
"This is my old friend," Soun said as he indicated the burly man sitting across the table.
"Genma Saotome. Pleasure to be here."
The Tendou sisters each remembered the old photograph. Genma had lost his hair since then, they realized, and his gi was adequately aged, but other than that he didn't look very different.
"This is my wife," Genma passed along, indicating the elegant lady seated next to him."Nodoka Saotome," she introduced herself with a bow towards Soun Tendou, revealing the Saotome Honor Blade strapped to her back. It was a very effective tool to keep her husband in line, who was still struggling, sometimes, with his past.
"And I already introduced myself earlier," Ranma spoke before her mother could indicate her, "so yeah."
"It's so good to see you again, old friend," Soun gushed. "Allow me to introduce my lovely daughters. Here's Kasumi," he indicated, the eldest sister giving a polite head nod, "Nabiki," who flashed a dangerous smirk, "and my youngest daughter Akane," who seemed to be silently judging the newcomers.
"Now, before we continue there is something you should be aware of that happened back in China," Genma announced. At his friend's expression, he wondered out loud how to best describe the problem, then walked over to Ranma, tore off her cap, grabbed her by the shirt and deftly threw the surprised girl into the Tendou garden koi pond.
"What'd you do that for, ya big jerk?" the indignant redhead exclaimed, her cursed features readily obvious as she clambered back into the room, dripping pond water all over.
"Wait, what? Cat ears?" Akane said when she saw the relevant organs stick out from Ranma's hair. They were the same red color as her hair but still visually stuck out, her regular human ears gone. She also noticed with just a little fear that the girl's nails had grown sharp.
Nabiki was more intrigued by the tail that stuck out from the cursed girl's perky bottom. It was all wet and funky-looking at the time, but Nabiki imagined it'd be a very pretty, smooth tail, considering the girl's hair and ears.
Kasumi had always liked cats, among other domestic animals, and didn't seem to mind the idea that much. She did, however, mind that Ranma dried herself up in an animal way and got pond water everywhere.
"So yeah, we had an... ah, 'little accident' during her training when we had stopped at this old, sacred training ground," Genma started to explain. Initially, Nabiki tried to listen, but found all of her attention drawn to the buxom, red-haired catgirl, intricately cleaning herself in the obvious, feline way. A single glance and a quick smirk confirmed that Ranma knew she was being watched.
"And it turns out that when you apply another curse while the first is activating, you can get strange results sometimes. The guide said it might've been the timing... I think," Genma recounted, "or maybe they just always do that. It was pretty hard to make out what he said half the time."
When Ranma tried to get a reaction out of Nabiki by cleaning her foot, she got rapped on the head by Nodoka. "What did I tell you about licking your feet, young lady? If you want to clean those, do it the regular way. You don't know where they've been!"
"Ow, okay okay mom!" Ranma conceded. Putting her legs back underneath her where they belonged in a seiza position, she turned to the three girls at the opposite side of the table. "So I take it from the way you're dressed that Akane is the only one of you who practices?"
"That's true," Nabiki confirmed. "We all know some basics, but I haven't done any martial arts practice since our mother died, and Kasumi's been too busy basically being our mother," she elaborated as Kasumi nodded.
"Though I like to do some basic kata to relax," Kasumi amended.
Right then, Akane stood up. "So, Ranma! Would you like a friendly spar?"
"Oh would I ever," the catgirl eagerly replied. "Lead the way."
As Akane obligingly led Ranma to the dojo, all but Kasumi and Nodoka quickly followed to spectate.
It was, expectedly, not much of a fight. Akane couldn't lay a finger on the graceful catgirl, who smoothly dodged every attempt with her hands behind her back, never retaliating. Slowly, she drove her opponent nearer to the wall, when Ranma suddenly jumped clear over Akane's head, twisted around in the air, and landed behind her. Genma nodded in appreciation as his daughter lightly tapped her opponent on the shoulder.
"Certainly impressive, my girl," Soun congratulated as he clasped Ranma's shoulder. "I shudder to imagine one of your gracefulness fighting offensively."
Ranma's smile was the only warning Soun got when in one smooth motion the girl ducked and spun around the larger man, swiping his legs out from beneath him. Within seconds, Soun Tendou was on his back, pinned by the petite girl sitting on his chest.
"Like this, Mr. Tendou?"
Mr. Tendou had nothing to say in reply, still processing how he'd ended up like that.
Another day, another chapter. This one also was basically done for years, but still went through a bunch of changes. For example, the reason the Saotomes move in with the Tendous, which was originally that they'd been declared legally dead and their house had been sold. In hindsight, that seemed a bit much so I changed it to the fire that it is here. The other change was that I added the first Akane/Ranma sparring match, as in canon, but with an audience and a friendly whooping on Soun's part.
Next part's gonna be a little bit more citric.
Feb 2018 edit: lightly extended.
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