by Aurora A. Valenzuela

"Okay listen up," Ranma and Akane's gym teacher was saying. The class crowded around her. "All of you know that the
League of Schools volleyball tournament is coming up," she informed them. "So we've all got to train harder than ever. So
here's what I'm going to do: we're going to have a game right now, boys vs. girls."
"Boys vs. Girls!" Hiroshi, a classmate of Ranma's, shouted. "Wouldn't it be more interesting if the teams were a combination of
both?" He winked at the clump of girls suggestively.
"Interesting for whom?" the gym teacher snapped back. "Certainly not for the poor girls unlucky enough to become your
Hiroshi reddened as the whole class snickered.
"I am doing this," she continued, "because I want you to think as a team, work like a team and act like a team."
"But boys have an unfair advantage over girls," Daisuke murmured in protest.
Coach was in his face in an instant. "Are you saying that boys are better than girls?" she roared.
"N-N-No, I-I wouldn't dream of it ma'am," Daisuke stammered, turning pale.
She nodded. "Make sure you don't. Now if there are no more unwanted comments... MOVE IT!!!"
Akane scrambled to her place like the rest. She didn't want to admit it, but she was disquieted. A boys vs. girls match meant
going up against Ranma...which was always bad news. She shook of the idea determinedly. What was she even thinking of? It
wasn't as if she had something to prove...
Akane began her warm-up exercises.

It was the third set and the game was tied at 13-all. Akane was serving for her team. One of her teammates ran up to her and
whispered, "We've got to break away now, Akane." She nodded her understanding. She took a deep breath and thwack!, the
ball went over the net. The redheaded boy who was guarding the bottom left area was too slow to move and the ball hit the
The girls in the stands cheered wildly. "Way to go, Captain!"
Akane mopped her brow then served again, aiming the ball at the same place. The boy had learnt his lesson however and
passed it to Ranma, who spiked it over the net.
"Yeah!" the boys hooted loudly.
Akane felt her heart beating in her chest. Now whoever won the next point would win the game. Glancing at her exhausted
teammates, she knew it would be up to her. The boys' team was pretty much in the same position, she observed.
She let the ball come sufficiently near then slammed it back with all her might. Ranma returned the volley just as hard. Back and
forth went the ball from Ranma to Akane; every time one would make an incredible move the other would return it. The crowd
watched breathlessly, almost not daring to blink. Then came the decisive shot. Ranma hit the ball and down it went. Panting,
Akane dove for the volley...and came up short by a few inches.
The crowd went wild. They jumped down from the stands and ran up to Ranma, thumping him on the back. As an afterthought,
some congratulated Akane as well; but she didn't answer.
She was too stunned.

Akane was changing into her uniform in the locker room. She heard a knock on the door and her best friends Yuka and Sayuri
came in.
"Hi!!!" they greeted in unison. They stopped when they saw her expression.
Sayuri sat down beside her on the bench. "Why the long face? It wasn't your fault."
Yuka nodded in agreement. "Without you the team wouldn't have stood a chance."
Akane's eyes lit up at the compliment.
"After all," Yuka continued, "they do have Ranma."
Akane face-faulted.

Ranma and Akane were walking home from school together. The pair was silent. Akane pouted while Ranma whistled, too lost
in his own thoughts to notice. All of a sudden they heard someone shout, "Look out!" and a frisbee came hurtling towards
"Whoa!" Ranma said, deftly catching it.
Akane gritted her teeth.
A boy with spiky black hair ran up to them. He smiled at Akane apologetically. "Sorry." Then he turned to Ranma and praised,
"Nice catch."
Ranma grinned arrogantly. "No prob."
The boy ran back to his friends with a wave and they resumed walking. If Ranma had looked over at Akane, he'd have seen
that a huge storm cloud was forming over her head.
They reached the Tendo residence a minute later. Ranma entered while Akane lurked outside, inspecting some flower pots.
"You're rather late today," Kasumi remarked. "I was just about to call everyone for dinner."
"There was this volleyball game in gym class," he explained. "It took quite awhile."
Akane chose that moment to come in. She cried out as her heel caught in the doorway and she tripped. Her hands came down
on the table, overturning it and sending all the platters flying. Her cheeks burnt with embarrassment.
"You should learn to watch your step," Ranma told her as she slowly sat up. He was balancing all the plates on his arms and
'Yeah," Nabiki agreed as she came down the stairs. "Good thing Ranma was there."
That was the last straw. Akane saw red. "That's it!!! I'm sick and tired of hearing how great Ranma is!" With that she, ran up
the stairs and into her room.
"What's the matter with her?" she heard Nabiki murmur before she slammed the door closed. She threw herself onto the bed,
fighting back the tears that suddenly sprang to her eyes.
"I hate him! I hate him! I hate him!!!" It was a litany she'd often recited and it calmed her down a bit. She curled herself into a
little ball; she felt so cold inside. Before Ranma had come along she'd been the best at everything. She could beat up all the
boys at school without breaking into a sweat. Then Ranma had strutted in and he was all, "I can do anything." He made all her
achievements look tiny in comparison. Now all she was was his clumsy and awkward fiancee. The fiancee he didn't even
She closed her eyes, welcoming the soothing darkness. She slipped her hand under her pillow. She suddenly realized how tired
she was; that stupid volleyball had sapped all of her strength. She turned to her left. I wish I was Ranma, was her last thought as
she drifted into slumber...peace at last.

Akane awoke feeling hot and sticky. Groggily, she got out of bed and slipped her feet into slippers. She moaned at the pain in
her head. She felt oddly heavy. Great, she thought ruefully, I'm not only slow I'm gaining weight. She twisted the knob to her
room open. She glanced down the hall.
Nabiki was just coming out of her room. "My, my," she said, looking at Akane slyly. "What are you doing in Akane's room,
"Ranma?!" Akane exclaimed. "Why, where is he?"
Nabiki shot her a strange look. Shaking her head, she went down the stairs.
Akane shrugged, instantly dismissing her sister's words. She followed her down and entered the bathroom.

Ranma was awakened by a jolt from his father. He opened his eyes, and knew instinctively that he was a girl. He had learnt to
distinguish when he was in his cursed form or not; besides, Genma was a panda so it was a logical conclusion. He got up and
winced at the unexpected nausea he felt. He observed Genma gesticulating wildly, a panicked look in his eyes.
"What's the matter with you?" Ranma muttered grumpily. He trudged outside, groaning. Genma frantically searched for a certain
wooden sign, throwing out the wrong ones. Ranma ignored him and headed for the bathroom.

They passed within inches of each other; Akane coming from the bathroom, Ranma going into it. They had both gone a few
steps when they stopped and turned to look back, mouths agape. In disbelief, they stared at each other - or more accurately -
they stared at themselves.
"AAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!" they cried at exactly the same time. Identical looks of horror were reflected on their
Doors opened.
Akane-in-Ranma's-body dragged Ranma-in-Akane's-body to the Saotomes' room, which was closest. Akane slammed the
door shut. They heard footsteps in the corridor outside. "Who is it?" they heard Kasumi call. When no one answered, she finally
left, her footsteps fading after awhile.
Akane sighed in relief.
Ranma faced her, a look of frenzy etched onto his face. It was highly disturbing to see himself while he was someone else.
"Akane is that really you?!" he yelled.
"Of course it's me," Akane snapped. Then she frowned in confusion. "No, i-it's not me," she stammered. "I'm you but I'm not
you, I'm me but I'm-"
Ranma shook her to stop her babbling. "We both don't know what's going on.Who knows, this might all be just a bad dream-"
"A nightmare you mean," Akane corrected.
Ranma looked annoyed. "Hey I'm the one stuck in your body."
'You think I like having your body?!" Akane exclaimed. "Why you pervert!"
"Uncute tomboy!"
They glared at each other, eyes shooting out sparks. Suddenly, they saw the humor of the situation. They began laughing
uncontrollably. "We're insulting ourselves," Akane managed to gasp out. They laughed even harder. After awhile though, the
seriousness of the situation began to sink in and their laughter subsided. They stared at each other glumly.
"What do we do now?" Ranma asked.
Akane wasn't listening. Something vague was troubling her. "How did this happen?" she mumbled.
Ranma shrugged. "First things first; we've got to go to someone who can help us."
"And who would that be?" Akane shot back.
Their eyes lit up at the same moment. "Cologne," they muttered in unison.
Ranma smiled. "Gotta admit, if there's anyone who can help us it's gotta be the old ghoul." A thought occured to him. "Hey, do
we tell our families about all this?"
Akane thought about it. 'No," she said at last. "Maybe Cologne knows how to reverse this...curse in an instant and we don't
need to alarm them."
"Plus they wouldn't believe us," Ranma added dryly.
Akane nodded. "Right. So we need to sneak out of the house without them knowing and avoid any questions."
"But first I've gotta change," Ranma told her. He was starting to pull off the top of Akane's yellow pajamas before she stopped
"Not so fast. That's my body you'll be looking at."
Ranma's mouth dropped open. "Then what about you?" he sputtered.
"Simple. All I have to do is-" Akane grabbed a nearby pail of water and poured it on herself, demonstrating instead of
explaining further. She gasped at the unexpected feeling of the transformation. She saw that Ranma was watching her, trying to
gauge her reaction. She tried to appear nonchalant.
"Are you saying that I have to wear these pajamas outside?" Ranma incredulously asked. Then he smiled craftily. "Wait a
minute, what am I worrying about? It's you who's going to look like a dork."
Akane opened her mouth to reply but realized he was right. She thought fast. "All right," she conceded. "But you'll have to do
with your eyes closed."
Ranma decided that that was close enough and nodded his agreement.
"Now I'll have to steal upstairs for some clothes-" Akane was saying when Ranma interrupted her.
He flushed. "You don't need to, Akane. I've got clothes right here."
Akane tried to hide a smile. She rummaged through the sizable pile of clothes and settled on a pair of black slacks and a pink
v-neck shirt. She also brought out a handkerchief to use as a blindfold.
Ranma rolled his eyes. "Like I'd want to peek," he quipped.
Akane tied it over his eyes and handed him the clothes. It took him awhile to put the clothes on straight so when he tore the
piece of cloth off, Akane was dressed as well.
"Let's go," she said. She checked the hall and found it empty. She gave the go-signal to Ranma.
"Do we have to go now?" Ranma whined as they tiptoed out. "We haven't even eaten breakfast yet."
Akane didn't bother to reply. They crept out silently and were already out the door when they heard a voice from behind them.
"Now where do you think you're going?" Nabiki asked.
They turned around guiltily and confronted the Tendos and Genma, who were glaring at them accusingly.
"It's not what you think," they stammered out.
Soun inexplicably broke into tears. "What else can we think?" he wailed.
Nabiki nodded. "Yeah, how can you guys deny it?"
Ranma and Akane hung their heads.
"I mean," Nabiki continued, "I caught Ranma coming out of your room, Akane."
Genma stepped forward, holding out a sign. In lights it read: "I saw Akane sleeping in Ranma's bed!!!" He and Soun began
hopping and dancing all over the place.
"Ranma and Akane slept together," Soun sang while Genma warbled in panda language.
Ranma and Akane began heatedly denying it.
"Now wait a minute," Akane cried. "I would never-"
"With a tomboy like her?!" Ranma blurted.
Akane turned on him. "Jerk!"
They suddenly noticed that all eyes were on them. They realized their mistake.
"I mean, that pervert," Ranma corrected falteringly.
"Yeah and you're so uncute," Akane said in response.
They looked at each other in confusion. In silent agreement, they fled as fast as their legs could carry them.
"But you did sleep with each other?!" Soun called after them.
"Yeah whatever," they answered, not hearing the question. They disappeared around the turn in the road.
Soun and Genma looked at each other delighted. They high-fived with enthusiasm. "Kasumi! Nabiki! Get ready for the

Ryoga's eyes widened as he observed Ranma and Akane approaching him. That Ranma was with her was deplorable but in
this case unavoidable. He began laughing and grinning like an idiot and his cheeks flushed. Ranma felt like throwing up. He was
quick to use it to his advantage. "Ryoga, I always wanted to tell you that I-" He let out a cry as Akane dragged him away.
"Not now, Akane," she muttered with clenched teeth. They entered the Nekohanten hurriedly. The chimes tinkled as they came
Cologne was wiping the counter. Looking up, she addressed Akane. "Well son-in-law, you just missed Shampoo-"
Ranma interrupted with, "No! I'm Ranma."
Cologne glanced from one to another, her wizened face impassive.
"It's true," Akane confirmed. "When we woke up, we were already like this. We had, er - switched bodies."
Cologne's expression never changed. "Son-in-law, this is your most pathetic attempt yet to trick Shampoo."
Ranma took a step forward threateningly. "Why you old ghoul-" He was stopped from saying more by a poke in the throat
from Cologne's staff.
"Now I believe you," she croaked. "Akane wouldn't have said that.
Akane stepped in. "Will you help us, Cologne?"
Cologne stared into space, thinking deeply. "The question is, can I help you. We need to know first what caused this." She
turned to Akane. "Did you, by any chance, put your hand underneath your pillow then turned to the left?"
Akane thought hard, trying to recall her actions. "I think I did," she replied, unsure of her answer. All she could remember was
being mad at Ranma and wishing that- Akane gasped out loud.
Cologne observed her reaction knowingly. "Then you wished to have Ranma's body right?"
Ranma made choking noises in the background.
"Yes I did," Akane replied in a horrified whisper.
Cologne nodded. "I thought as much."
Ranma gaped at Akane. "You wished for my body?"
Akane turned on him, angry all of a sudden to hide her embarrassment. "Well don't let it get to your head."
"How can I?" Ranma shot back. "That's where you're spouting off from."
The two dropped into morose silence.
Cologne cleared her throat. "If you two have nothing more to say, I think you'd like to know how all this came to be."
They nodded dumbly.
"Few people know this, but everyone is granted one wish in the in their lifetime. The problem is, you have to utilize it on a
certain night and on that night only. Also, you have to put your hand beneath your pillow and turn to the left before wishing."
"But how are we-" Ranma began.
"Fortunately there's a way to reverse it," Cologne continued, shooting Ranma an annoyed look. "All that Akane needs to do is
repeat the procedure tonight and wish things back to normal."
Akane was at a loss for words. "You mean I wasted my wish on having his body?" was what she said out loud.
Cologne chuckled dryly. "I wouldn't worry. Only a handful of people have been able to use their wish anyway. You're not
losing out on much."
"So what do we do in the meantime?" Ranma asked.
Cologne sighed. "As much as it ruins Shampoo's chances, I'd have to advise you to lay low the whole day. Preferably alone
"Now that's a sacrifice," Ranma remarked. He did the symbol as Akane hit him with her mallet. "Real good Akane," he
muttered indignantly. "Remember whose body you're damaging."
Akane winced as the words struck home. She'd have to learn to check her reflexes from now on. "Can we eat brunch here
Cologne?" she inquired as Ranma straightened out.
Cologne looked at her coldly. "No," was her reply.
"Why not?" Ranma asked, honestly puzzled.
It was his turn to feel the ice in her gaze. "Because you just can't." She hopped towards the back room.
"Hey how did you know it was me who made the wish?" Akane feebly called out after her.
Cologne laughed, not deigning to answer.
With a heavy heart, she and Ranma exited the restaurant. "Why don't we go to Ucchan's?" he suggested hopefully.
"We can't go there. There's no way I can act like you around Ukyo."
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked defensively.
"It means - oh forget it. Just take my word for it, we can't go there."
"Would you like us to starve to death?"
"Of course I don't."
"Then I guess we don't have a choice. We'll have to head back home."
They did.

Sulkily, Ranma and Akane ate their meal side-by-side. When they'd gotten home, they had found Soun and Genma already
hanging up the wedding sign. It had taken an hour to explain to them that they didn't plan on getting married. It had taken
another hour to convince their outraged parents that they hadn't slept together. They very carefully avoided talking to anybody.
As soon as Kasumi had cleared the plates Akane (Ranma to them) announced that they were going on a picnic. This raised the
skepticism of their only being platonic to all-time high. "But you said - I thought - Oh my - really now? - Akane??? - Ranma!!!"
They stopped their ears and ran out, Ranma not forgetting to snatch the picnic basket before they left.
"Hey, this empty," he exclaimed when they finally paused for breath.
Akane hit him on the head. "What did you expect? That it would magically fill up?"
"I don't know." He studied her quizzically. "Doesn't that ever happen to you? For me it's cold water; that's for sure."
"Well," Akane confessed. "My mallet does come in handy at the oddest times-" She stopped when she found Ranma listening
raptly. "Oh, what are we talking about?"
Ranma mentally snapped his fingers in frustration. So close. "We're talking about no food, no picnic."
"Excuse me but have you looked around?" Akane pointed to a building behind Ranma. His eyes bulged in surprise as he read:
Sandwiches and other snacks for sale.
"But that would mean spending money," he protested.
"Come off it." She sauntered into the store. "Really, you're beginning to sound like Nabiki."
Ranma stared at her. "Hey take that back," he said, hurrying to catch up.

They found a beautiful spot overlooking the lake. They spread out a checkered cloth and sat down on it. Akane sighed in
contentment. The grass was green and the sun was shining. Not even being displaced in someone else's body could spoil the
day. "Isn't this the life?" she murmured.
"Probably is," Ranma mumbled grumpily.
Akane turned on him, her expression suddenly serious. "Let's forget our problems for now, okay, Ranma?"
Ranma shrugged, indifferent. "Well at least you have the curse."
Akane shot up. "That's it!" she cried. "Why didn't I think of it before?" She grabbed Ranma by the collar, forgetting again that
he was in her body. "Ranma go for a swim."
"Huh?" he said, not comprehending.
"See what it feels like not to change when you get wet, dummy!" she cried out in exasperation. She was more than
compensated when she saw the look of pure joy flicker across his face.
"Well I -" Ranma fidgeted, trying to appear cool and collected. He shifted from one foot to another.
"Go on in, stupid," Akane whispered.
That was enough for him. He dove in whooping, not bothering to strip, which Akane was grateful for. He came up for air,
grinning and laughing like a madman.
Akane laughed along with him, delighted that he had that chance. Her features softened...very feminine. She didn't know it, but
if anyone had come across her like that they would have thought one thought only. That's a woman in love.

Ranma sighed too as he lay on the grass; letting the sun warm and dry his clothes. He idly pulled up tufts of grass and threw
them up in the air.
"Hey." Akane almost hated to intrude on his mood. "Snacks are ready."
He sprang up in response and began devouring a peanut butter sandwich. Akane munched at her own, lost in her thoughts.
From out of nowhere, she heard Ranma murmur, "Having a picnic was a good idea, Akane."
She blushed, in reality more flattered that he'd complimented her than at the compliment itself. "Maybe we should do it again
some time," she mumbled.
There was an awkward pause.
Akane felt her cheeks burn in humiliation. How could she have said that? she thought to herself. "I'm sorry. That was a dumb
thing to say." She began clearing the plastic bags and empty paper cups away.
"No," she was surprised to hear him say. "It wasn't dumb."
She glanced at him shyly, knowing how hard that must have been for him to say. Their eyes locked. Both felt a heightened
awareness of the other that hadn't been their before. Ranma looked away, something clearly troubling him.
Akane watched him, concerned.
"It's just-" He turned to face her, his expression intense. "Why did you wish for my body?"
Akane shifted her eyes uncomfortably. She had trouble answering. "I didn't wish it on purpose. You know that."
Ranma nodded impatiently. "But what brought it on?"
Akane lowered her eyes, ashamed. She took a deep breath to steady herself before answering. "I could say it was because of
the volleyball game or the frisbee or even the table accident but I'd be lying." She paused, then continued. "When I was young, I
always felt that Daddy was secretly disappointed in me. I was no good at cooking like Kasumi or managing money the way
Nabiki did. So I tried to find something I could excel in. It turned out to be martial arts and I got really good at it. When my
sisters did something fantastic I always had something to fall back on. Then you came along. Everything changed overnight. You
were better than me and everything I'd done before looked like child's play. I lost the crutch I'd had for so long." She hung her
head and Ranma saw that she was struggling to keep the tears from falling. He bowed his head.
He knew she had revealed to him her innermost thoughts and he felt obligated to do the same. He wanted to comfort her and
himself as well. He spoke softly. "Sometimes... sometimes I think you're stronger than me where it really counts." He saw her lift
her head in surprise. "You're better at dealing with people, with emotions n' stuff like that. Same goes for your sisters. Kasumi's
angelic...but she's oblivious to what's really going on around her. Nabiki hides her feelings from everyone. I'm sure your father
appreciates that about you."
Akane was touched at his words beyond belief. They rang true. That it would come from him of all people was ironic...but
"Besides," Ranma added. "Look at me now." He stopped. "No, not now but you know what I mean. I'm half a man." He
closed his eyes at the pain. "That body is cursed, Akane. You'd have been better off wishing for another one."
Akane put her hands on his shoulders, forcing him to look at her. "It isn't cursed, Ranma. I's all right with me. I could
live with it."
He smiled and the spell was broken. But the words that they'd exchanged remained. He noticed that the sun was setting and he
held out his hand. "We better be heading back."
"Just a minute," she said, stopping him. "Let's at least watch the sunset." Ranma hesitated then nodded his assent. Holding
hands, they watched as the golden orb sunk lower and lower and finally disappearing from the sky in a brilliant display of light.
Without a word, they turned around and went home.

Later that night, Akane lay down on Ranma's futon to sleep, but she knew she'd be awake for a long time yet. They had
decided it wasn't worth it to sneak into their respective rooms and risk another day of teasing. She smiled. It was ironic that,
unknown to her family, it was only now that they were doing what they thought they had done yesterday. Anyway, Akane
instinctively knew she'd wake up in her bed the next morning.
Taking Ranma's advice, she stopped her ears with cotton balls. Having Genma sleep next to her made it necessary. It had been
a confusing day and she wanted to go over the events in her mind.
The rest of the night had passed without further incident. They had traded the wrong insults again but no one seemed to notice -
or care. It had been hilarious when Ranma had been forced to help Kasumi with the dishes. That reminded her, she'd be the
one who'd have to pay for all the dishes he'd broken. Then again, the expression on his face - her face - had been priceless.
Her face warmed when she recalled their conversation earlier. It had been perhaps their most intimate yet. No doubt the switch
had had something to do with that. When she'd poured out her sorrows, she'd felt like she was talking to herself instead of
Ranma - to her reflection in the mirror so to speak.
Almost with reluctance, she slipped her hand beneath the pillow and turned to the left. "I wish things back to normal," she said
out loud. Inwardly she thought, But I'll never forget this day for as long as I live...

Meanwhile, Ranma was in Akane's bed, as sleepless as she. He put his hand to the pillow and turned to the left. "I wish this
curse was gone," he said. Then he shook his head in disgust. "As if life would be that kind," he muttered.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: Terry Martin - for the names of Hiroshi, Daisuke, Yuka and Sayuri.

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