Chapter 3 - Settling Down
Nabiki sat at the table with her father and Kasumi. Ranma and woken up
early that morning and insisted on going for a run. When she complained of
sore muscles, he pulled out two asprin and a glass of water. It was hard
going at first, but Ranma stayed beside her, extorting her to take the next
An hour later, and after taking a soak, she had to admit that the run did
loosen her muscles and relieved her soreness. She still hurt, though.
Most excruciating was bending over to reach her cup of tea.
"Are you alright, Nabiki?" Kasumi mothered.
Nabiki put her cup down on the table and winced in pain.
Her father looked up from the newspaper. "Are you sure about this,
Nabiki?" he asked. He put the paper down and looked at his daughter and
continued. "You know it doesn't matter to me which of my daughters marry
Ranma. I only want you to be happy with your decision."
"I..." Nabiki started to answer before Kasumi interrupted.
"Father, Nabiki has said that she wants to sell the Dojo and live off the
Soun Tendo rushed to Nabiki and grabbed her shoulders and looked her
sternly in her eyes. "Nabiki! You must renounce your engagement to
"No, Father. I won't. I am going to marry Ranma."
"I forbid you! If you sell the Dojo, the school will disappear! That must
Nabiki looked into her father's eyes and saw fear and terror in his eyes.
She tried to remember when she said she'd sell the dojo, and failed. It
wasn't like Kasumi to bring something like that up unless she did make such
a statement in the past, so she reasoned that she really might have said
that she would sell the Dojo. The circumstances now are certainly
different than that of the time she made the offending statement; now she
was engaged to a top martial artist who would need the Dojo, and she had
just started training after a many year absence. For the moment, she
She was certain that Ranma would never sell the Dojo unless there was
something to replace it. And even then, she doubted that he would sell it
even in that case; more than once he called the Tendo compound "home." No,
he wouldn't want to sell it, and she doubted that she could convince him if
his roots set any deeper.
"Daddy, I'm not going to sell the Dojo. Ranma needs it, and so do I. And
if we are ever to start teaching again, we'll need it."
Soun took his arms off his daughter's shoulders and looked at her. "You
"Yes, Father. I promise I will not sell the Dojo." She was happy she left
the loop-hole of Ranma possibly selling the Dojo if it became absolutely
Soun sat back down in his place and grabbed the newspaper. "Good."
* * * * * * * *
Nabiki and Ranma were in her room. Ranma was replacing the bandage on her
forehead and making sure there weren't any signs of infection.
"So that whole thing yesterday was set up by Akane?" Ranma asked.
"I think so. I'm almost positive she created the flyers, and I'll bet she
made sure that Kodachi and Shampoo knew of Ukyo's challenge."
Nabiki looked at him and saw that he had a crushed look on his face. "You
liked her, didn't you?"
"What?!" He paused a moment. "That tomboy? No way!"
Nabiki noticed that Ranma wasn't as vehement as he normally was. "That's
okay Ranma, I think I know how you feel."
Ranma put a band-aid on her forehead and back away a little. Nabiki
brushed a lock of hair away and curious, leaned up and peered into the
mirror. Satisfied that the bruise wasn't too visible and that the band-aid
didn't make her look too much like a misfit, she sat down again.
"Ranma, what do you think about our engagement?"
"I dunno. I was engaged to Akane for so long, I guess it hasn't really sat
in yet." He looked at the older girl and continued after a pause. "You
haven't hit me yet. This is the longest time I think I've ever gone
without being hit by a fiancée."
"And you haven't yet taken all the money I have."
Nabiki looked at him with a hurt face. When Ranma panicked, she smiled at
him. "Well, I think that would be pointless. Once we're married, I'll
have it all anyway."
"Oh, come on Ranma. You did know that the wife is responsible for all
financial matters in the household, didn't you?"
Ranma scratched the top of head. "Uh. I guess I do now," he said. Ranma
finished putting the first-aid kit back together and then asked, "You're
serious aren't you?"
Nabiki captured his eyes, "Didn't my getting you up in the middle of the
night for a talk convince you? Or the fact that I'm actually practiced the
art for one day mean anything?"
Meekly, Ranma responded with, "I guess you are."
Nabiki grabbed a towel and stood up. "Come on Ranma. You said you were
going to show me how to kick this morning."
* * * * * * * *
Bored in class the following Monday, Ranma tossed a note to Akane that
simply said, "You still mad?" A moment later it came back to him. He
unwrapped it, and read the one word reply, "Idiot!" Being trained that an
insult requires a response, he scribbled his response of, "Who's the idiot,
The return message was a book thrown at Ranma's face. Inside the book was
her reply, "Idiot!" written several times inside its cover.
Ranma slammed the book on his desk and shouted, "Damn it, Akane! Will you
quit being so stubborn!"
Akane stood and answered the challenge, "So what! You want to fight about
A moment later, they both found themselves standing the hallway, holding
buckets of water. Neither of them looked at each other.
"This is stupid," Ranma said. "You're the one with the hate thing going
Akane kept her eyes on the far wall as she responded. "What's wrong?
Don't you like Nabiki?"
Ranma looked at Akane as he considered his answer. It was not only what
she said, but also how she said it. It almost sounded as a challenge, so
he responded in kind, "As a matter of fact, I do like her. She's been nice
to me so far, and she isn't prone to strange mood swings. And now that I
think about it, she's kinda pretty."
Akane turned to see Ranma looking at her, and he continued, "So still want
to fight about it?"
The expression on Akane's face softened a little. "No. It's not worth
Ranma thought the expression on Akane's face was kind of cute. "So, are
you going to make up with her?"
Akane's face hardened a little for a second and then it relaxed into
sadness. "I don't know if I can. What I did was pretty harsh."
"I think Nabiki would forgive you if you asked."
"Me forgive her? She should give me the apology! She took what is mine!"
"But you took them all back. And she promised not to do it again."
"Augh!" Akane threw her bucket at Ranma. "You IDIOT!"
Ranma, now a girl, watched a tear form in Akane's eye. Akane turned and
dashed down the hallway.
* * * * * * * *
Ranma met Nabiki under a Sakura tree at the end of lunch. "What did you
say to Akane?"
Ranma turned around in embarrassment. "Um, well..." He tried to collect
his thoughts for the moment. Nabiki's question meant that Akane ran up to
her. "I asked her to apologize to you."
"You mean when you told her that you like me?" The whole school either
head Akane calling Ranma an idiot, or had heard about it via an incredibly
He liked all the Tendo girls, but he actually said he liked Nabiki, and the
whole school knows he said it. He didn't like her in a romantic sort of
way, and he certainly wouldn't call her a "best friend". But he did like
her. Could he fall in love with Nabiki? Could she be a good wife? He
didn't know, but now that he was engaged to her, he had the opportunity to
find out. From his point of view, he was still very leery of Nabiki and
her mercenary and Machiavellian view of the world, but that was the public
persona she had; she may (he hoped) had a more personable side to her in
private. At least this time, he had the experience of making mistakes with
Akane. A pang of regret washed over him when he thought of her. He really
did like her, but if his father or her father ever heard that, they would
have been married within hours of his admission. He acknowledged his
feelings but soldiered on. His father taught him that regrets don't fix
the past and that it's better to do better in the future. Eventually, he
intellectually knew, he'd get over it.
He quickly looked at Nabiki from the corner of his eye and turned away
again. Ranma at the ground and rubbed his hands together in nervousness.
He moved his mouth, but he couldn't get his vocal cords to work.
"I didn't hear you, Ranma."
Ranma peeked back towards Nabiki and saw that she was looking away. He
guessed by her body language that she had an emotional investment in his
answer. Ranma started sweating. "Yeah. I said I like you."
Nabiki came up to Ranma and stood very close to him. She peered up at his
face stared into his eyes and asked, "You like me?"
"Yeah. Uh, I like you...."
Nabiki's eyes brightened and she broke into a smile. "Oh! I'm so happy!
Nobody ever said they liked me before!"
Ranma stood there, afraid that she was going to give him an Amazon style
hug, but when she stood there with a goofy smile on her face and her hands
holding her cheeks, he figured he was safe for the moment. The expression
on her face changed to something a little more serious, but she still
"Stay here for a moment, Ranma. I'll be right back."
Ranma leaned against the tree and watched Nabiki run off to a group of boys
under a nearby tree. He was trying to make sense of what he said earlier
when he made his confession to Akane. It was amazing how so few words
could change a person's life. He started to worry that his comment was
going to taken out of context. He did like Nabiki, and he hoped that
Nabiki wouldn't turn into another Ukyo, Shampoo, or Kodachi.
He turned around and saw Nabiki standing next to him with her hands behind
her back. "Hey, um, Nabiki?"
Ranma saw some papers drop behind Nabiki. "Oops!" she said
It was easy to see that they were photographs of his girl form. He picked
up a few and looked at them. "What are these, exactly?"
Nabiki closed her eyes as she responded, "Oh, Ranma. How would it look if
I didn't carry pictures of my fiancée?"
Ranma looked at Nabiki and wasn't fooled. She had a long history of
selling pictures of him half naked. He became angry and called her out,
"You were selling them."
Nabiki put on a hurt look. "Only the duplicates."
Ranma looked at the photos. On one level, he didn't consider that the girl
in the pictures was really him. Ranma Saotome was a male, and the female
part was just a curse he had to bear until he could find way to get rid of
the damn thing. But, it was him. Everything that happened to her was in
his memories. Her life was his. This was one of those situations where he
had to accept his curse and deal with his feminine side.
Many of the pictures were of him running around the house, a few were of
him in some fight with an unseen opponent. He noted that most of the
pictures were of him without a top on, but that didn't bother him, as
modesty wasn't something he cared much for. What bothered him was that
Nabiki was now his fiancée, and this was something he didn't think that his
fiancée should be doing. When Nabiki was the sister of his fiancée, it
wasn't an issue; Nabiki was Nabiki, and at best, a future sister-in-law.
He wasn't going to have to live with her for the rest of his life.
He didn't mind it when she "rented" him to the Martial Arts team on Friday,
but there had to be a limit.
Being engaged to her changed his perspective. He wasn't sure if he wanted
a wife that worked, much less one that worked in a darker side of society.
He was going to have to come to an agreement with her if they were going to
Get married. It wasn't even a week yet, and he was already thinking about
being married to her. She sure had a way of drilling in a simple concept
into his head.
Nabiki crossed her arms and put on a stern face. "How am I going to make a
little spending money? Do you know how much money those pictures bring
Ranma knew. He had overheard many different negotiations. It was
astounding how much money she could bring in when she tried. It was still
wrong to do it.
Nabiki relaxed and broke her eye contact with Ranma. "Ranma, we need to
work this out."
The bell rang, and lunch was over. Everyone, including Ranma and Nabiki,
started walking back to the school.
Nabiki continued as they walked in. "We'll talk about this at home.
"Yeah. I guess."
* * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * * ** * * * * * *
** * * * * * * *
Chapter 4 - Not Ready, but Getting Ready
Nabiki and Ranma arrived to a silent house when they arrived at home after
school. They walked past the kitchen and saw that a small flash of
something in the tea-room. Ranma took the lead and carefully entered the
room, ready to defend himself from an attack. Nabiki took her place at the
entrance, ready to bolt for the front door if she needed to.
"Surprise!" The doors to the engawa opened revealing Soun, Genma and
Kasumi. Behind him a banner unfurled that said, "Congratulations Ranma and
Nabiki noted that the name "Akane" was crossed out and her name was written
above it. She knew where this was going, and immediately tried to take
control of the situation before something bad happened.
"What are you congratulating us for?"
"Your impending wedding!"
Nabiki grabbed Ranma by the shirt and pulled him into the hallway. She
didn't let go of him when she started talking, "Saotome, listen to me. Do
not say a word when we go back in there. Let me do all the talking."
"I ain't getting married," he protested.
"Ranma, what did I say? We are, I repeat, we are, getting married."
Nabiki let go of his shirt but kept his attention by maintaining eye
contact. "But we aren't getting married until we say we are getting
married." Nabiki brushed a lock of hair away from her face, and smiled at
him. She took a step away and indicated that he was to follow her back in.
After nearly falling on top of the eavesdropping family members, Nabiki
crossed her arms and waited for her father to say something. The wait was
a little longer than she expected, as he was crying again, but she wasn't
sure what for. Eventually, he spoke, "Nabiki is going to get married!"
"And when do you think I'm getting married?" She tried to keep her voice
level and even. Although this was very personal, it was also a business
Soun looked at his daughter and stopped crying long enough to say, "This
weekend! We have everything planned! It'll be so beautiful!"
Nabiki looked at Ranma and put on a smile that reeked of conspiracy. "So,
Ranma, what do you think? Should we get married one year from this
weekend?" She winked for good measure to let him know that she expected
him to play along.
"One year? Yeah, I guess that'll be okay."
Nabiki walked up to the platter of food on the table and sat down.
"Great!" she started. "Now Daddy, tell me about the wedding you have
Soun's eyes dried and he stood in front of daughter. "Nabiki," he sternly
said, "the wedding is this weekend. Not next year."
Nabiki nonchalantly took a cookie and handed it to Ranma before taking a
bite of her own. "Don't you think we should get to know each other before
we get married? We haven't even been on a date yet."
Soun looked at the fat man in the dingy white gi for support, and true to
form, Genma was there for his friend.
"But Ranma already said he liked you. Why wait?" Genma said.
Nabiki shoved a cookie in Ranma's mouth to prevent him from answering. The
action wasn't missed by anyone on the table. "Just because," she said, "he
said he likes me doesn't mean we're ready to get married."
Nabiki handed Ranma a cup full of milk so he could wash the massive cookie
he was still chewing. "And just because I kind of like him too doesn't
mean I'm ready to start having babies or anything like that."
Ranma spewed the milk and cookies all over the table. Soun and Genma
dropped their mouths in shock. And all Kasumi could do was say "Oh, my!"
* * * * * * * *
After everyone recovered from her "like" and "baby" remark and the table
was cleaned, the wedding negotiations began in earnest. At first Nabiki
made good progress in making sure that the wedding wouldn't be until Ranma
graduated at the earliest, and kept the cost of the wedding and reception
down. Then there was the discussion of families, and the "baby" remark
came back to haunt her.
When told that she actually made the remark, she lost her objectivity and
her father slipped in her name instead of Ranma's. The final agreement was
that she and Ranma would get married after she graduated.
Luck was on their side however, as Ranma spoke up and corrected Soun. He
said that his daughter agreed to getting married after she graduated.
Ranma caught him in a trap of words and pointed out that the agreement was
"after", and not "when" or "as soon as". Ranma also pointed out the fact
that the discussion was based upon his graduation.
Nabiki recovered herself at this point, and said that the agreement is
based upon graduations, and it wasn't specified which graduation. If one
of them went to college or to trade school, the agreement applied to the
final graduation, not the graduation from Furinkan.
Kasumi spoke up at that point and asked what if they wanted to get married
before then. Nabiki said if she and Ranma wanted to get married earlier,
then they will.
* * * * * * * *
Ranma was in Nabiki's room, supposedly studying but really was reflecting
on the day's events. He sarcastically muttered to Nabiki, "That was a
great job negotiating."
Nabiki put her elbows on the desk and hung her head in her palms, "I can't
believe I made such a stupid mistake."
"And now you know our fathers are going to come up with every stupid plan
in the book to make us want to get married soon.
"If you think Akane and I had it bad, you just wait and see." Ranma
shivered at the memory of the look of his father's and Soun's eyes when
Nabiki said they might get married sooner.
They both studied for the next hour or so. Ranma wasn't sure how much time
had passed, but he noted that Nabiki changed the tape in her player twice
before she called it quits for the night.
She stretched lazily and leaned back in her chair. The workout that
afternoon after the negotiations was very hard. It was obvious to her that
Ranma was using the session as a way to work out the stress he just went
through. As a result, he pushed her a little harder than he had the
previous two times.
"Ranma?" she asked sleepily, "Can you give me another back rub?"
And it ended with another cry of, "Pervert!"
* * * * * * * *
"So, son. When are you going to take her out on a date?" Genma and Soun
were sitting at the shogi table and were looking at the board hoping the
color of the pieces would change to their liking.
"Yes, Ranma. My daughter said she had not been on a date with you yet.
You don't want to disappoint her, do you?"
"Uh, no. I dunno. This weekend, maybe?"
"Excellent!" the father chorused.
* * * * * * * *
Nabiki's first date with Ranma was about to start, she found herself
standing in front of a hedge-maze, waiting for her fiancée. She took a
deep breath and felt the strap of the purse she held in her hands,
reminding herself that she vowed that she wouldn't look at her watch to
find out what time it was. Nabiki had arrived at the park a little early
to scout out potential escape routes if they were interrupted, and since
that took less time than she anticipated, she had a bit of free time on her
The afternoon in the maze wasn't she wanted on a date; she would have
preferred to be taken out for dinner and dancing, but that may have been
asking too much of Ranma. As it was, he probably was pressured to ask her
out. She was a little surprised when he did ask her, she was almost
willing to bet that she was going to have to ask him to go out with her.
She pulled the compact out of her purse and checked her hair and make-up
one last time. She was taught that first impressions were important, and
that was why she wore the kimono when Ranma first arrived. Even though
they've known each other for a few months, she thought that they were
starting all over again, and she wanted to make sure he had a positive
impression of her.
She took her time getting ready for the date that morning, not because she
was excited about going out with Ranma, but because she used the time to
plan what she was going to do with him. She had to be careful that she
didn't push him away, but she didn't want to turn him into a lovesick puppy
She had to plan for the other fiancées as well. She knew she had a tough
battle keeping Ranma from straying to Ukyo or Shampoo. In the race for
Ranma, the other girls had a head start, and as a latecomer, she has a lot
of catching up to do. She knew she had a chance, simply because the other
girls often became too possessive and demanding of his attentions. If she
could find the balance between possessiveness and freedom and avoid getting
into battles with everyone else, she figured she could quickly catch up and
possibly pass the other girls.
Nabiki had a basic plan that she was going to follow: she was going to gain
Ranma's trust and confidence. She was experienced in gating a person's
trust; it was one of the most important tools in her line of "work." She
knew how to get a person to open up and to listen to her ideas and accept
them. She had the patience to work her way through a person's defenses and
find the necessary catches for her hooks. But what she needed was time.
She wasn't under the illusion it was going to be an easy task. It would be
easy enough to drive him away or to keep him at arms length; she's been
doing that for months now. But now she was the hunter and he was the prey,
and she wanted to bring him in carefully so that he wouldn't know he'd been
She had another worry as well. Did she like Ranma enough to stick to her
resolution? And if she did, was there a danger of falling for him? It was
possible that she could, for he did have that rough edge that made him
In the back of her mind, in an unconscious corner, one incident replayed
itself over and over again -- Ranma said she liked her, aloud and never
denied it that she knew of. She knew his admission wasn't because of
romantic feelings, but it was sincere. It touched her, and she didn't know
how much until she accidentally said that she liked Ranma.
And now her date was about to start.
She turned around to see Ranma approaching with a bouquet of flowers in his
hands. It looked to be roses from the distance. As he closed in, she saw
that the wrapping was badly wrinkled. It was obvious that he had a rough
time making it to the date.
"Hello, Ranma." Nabiki said. She ignored the flowers in his hands with
the hope that he'll try to do it right. Maybe he learned something about
courting girls from Akane.
Ranma looked a little nervous and his eyes darted to the sides before
saying anything. His "hi, Nabiki" was a little uneasy. Nabiki watched
his face turn a little red.
"Sorry about these roses I brought for you. I had a run in with Shampoo,
and she thought that they were for her."
Ranma sheepishly held out the bouquet. Nabiki gracefully took it and
looked at the roses. Several of the stems were obviously broken, but the
buds themselves were still in perfect shape. Given Ranma' story, she was
impressed with his determination to protect her flowers. She smiled and
nodded her head, "Thank you, Ranma!"
Ranma quietly led her to the entrance of the maze and took one last look
around before letting out a sigh.
"What is it, Ranma? You look nervous." Nabiki said as she stepped into
the maze. It was the first time in it for her, and she was curious how
long it would take the two of them to come out the other side.
"Just making sure nobody else is following me."
Ranma and Nabiki stepped out of the maze to see Ukyo and her portable
Okonomiyaki cart. Ukyo was waving enthusiastically at them, so the two
"Hi, Uc-chan! I'm surprised to see you here today."
The chef put on a happy face and wiped her hands on her apron as she said,
"Oh, I thought I needed a change of scenery."
Nabiki's voice lacked warmth, but was at least polite. "Hello, Ukyo."
Ukyo didn't even acknowledge Nabiki. Instead, she started talking to
Ranma, saying, "How could you go out with that heartless woman?"
And without missing a beat, Ukyo then turned to Nabiki, "And you should
give up. My Ran-chan will see whatever cruel plan you have in mind for
him. And when he does, he'll come running to me."
Ranma started to sweat. Ukyo was challenging Nabiki, and if it escalated
to violence, the more experienced Ukyo would easily beat Nabiki. He had to
ensure that the battle stayed verbal.
"I doubt that will ever happen, Ukyo. You see, I'm not Akane. I won't go
hitting him whenever he makes a mistake. And if we ever fight, I hope we
can work it out like two civilized people."
Ukyo regarded her opponent for a moment before responding, "I don't know
what you see in this ugly, old woman anyway. I'm your cute fiancée."
Nabiki looked at Ranma and saw an opportunity; Ukyo made a very bad
tactical mistake. She put on a hurt face and started to force tears into
her eyes and started to sob, "You think I'm too ugly and old for you?"
As Nabiki predicted, Ranma started to go into hysterics. Ranma waved his
arms and stuttered, "Eep! Aaaah! Errr. No. No. I don't care about
Nabiki looked up at him, and egged him on, "You don't?"
Ranma gained enough composure to not stutter, "Nope. Not at all."
Nabiki stepped away and stared at Ukyo in defiance for a moment before
looking at Ranma again. It was time to play the second part of her plan.
"Ranma. She was mean. She said I was ugly." Again, she put on her hurt
puppy-dog look that was irresistible to Ranma. She wasn't disappointed in
the results. His voice, though, was surprisingly confident.
"You're not ugly, Nabiki. You're pretty. I said that before."
Nabiki noticed that Ranma was actually looking at her when he made the
claim. She knew that she was honest when he said that, and it was an ego
boost that she didn't expect. Nabiki looked over to Ukyo and saw that
Okonomiyaki chef was hurt.
Knowing that she had won this round, Nabiki took Ranma's arm and escorted
him away, saying, "Since you've been so nice to me today, I'm treating you
to ice cream."
I'm not sure if I'll ever get around to finishing this thing. I may end up
merging it with another story that is also stalled.
I hope you enjoyed it...