|Just a Little Tenderness
Author: uy PM
It's prom night and Akane's going stag. Why and how? Ranma's not about to sit home and patiently wait for her.Rated: Fiction K - English - Romance - Akane & Ranma - Words: 3,194 - Reviews: 27 - Favs: 39 - Follows: 4 - Published: 04-15-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2894059
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: I haven't written in so long! This has been sitting, unfinished, in my computer for an impossibly long time. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine. The song I'll be using isn't mine either. No suing.
A LITTLE TENDERNESS
"I'm going stag…" She hadn't said it loud but everyone paused and fell silent. Stag echoed down the corridor in lonely decibels. She could feel their eyes on her but she kept her head down, not quite ashamed but also not proud; she was afraid she looked disappointed.
"S-stag?" one of her girlfriends said, although she couldn't remember whether it was Yuka or Sayuri. "B-but, Akane…" And suddenly the school was alive again, the boys regretting the fact that they already had dates and the rest of the girls debating amongst themselves why Ranma and Akane weren't going to be together on prom night.
Stuffing two other books in her bag, Akane made her way down the hall sighing in between answers to questions like, "Did you and Ranma have a serious fight?", "Are you disappointed?", and "Is he going with someone else?"
All of these she answered with an ever-patient no. Sometimes it was a lie and sometimes it wasn't. The girls' questions lasted half the walk home before they decided it was time to drop the subject; there was still tomorrow to talk about it. And everybody knew everybody else's telephone numbers, anyway.
"I can't believe you're still going, sis," she said for the fourth time that day.
Akane sighed. She felt old. "Well, what would you have me do? Stay home and watch Ranma stuff his mouth with who-knows-what while my friends are feasting on seasoned prawns and crème brulèe?"
"It's just a little strange, you know… I mean, you have all these guys just dying to be your date and you choose to go stag?" Nabiki held up a pink babydoll dress that fell to the knees and had puffed sleeves.
Akane looked at the dress, considering it and imagining it on herself. "Nobody, except that moron, Kunou, asked me," she said, with as little emotion as she could, taking the dress from her sister and draping it over an arm to be fitted later.
Nabiki wanted to ask why but she felt that Akane really didn't want to talk about it. Besides, the answers were obvious: people had just assumed Ranma would be her date and Akane had been waiting for him to ask. The boys, who were undoubtedly afraid of how Ranma would react to their asking his fiancée out, probably hadn't dared approach Akane.
And Nabiki knew her sister would die first before letting Kunou take her to prom.
Nabiki smirked, leaning against the open shoji. You're SO going to eat your words, lover-boy.
And almost as soon as she thought it, there was the most beautiful Akane anyone had ever seen. Stepping into the warm light of the dining room, she fidgeted uneasily and pulled at her skirt. They had chosen a very simple pale blue, almost silver, halter that crossed at the back and stopped just a little below the knees. The dress, while modest, hugged her in all the right places.
Everyone oohed and aahhed and smiled and hugged Akane. Kasumi had the biggest grin and Soun had tears in his eyes. Even Genma chuckled loudly and told Akane 'what a fine youngun she was'. Nabiki took pictures, already mentally calculating the profit she was going to make out of selling them. Akane, who had never really gotten used to being ogled, just smiled awkwardly.
A honk from outside and a female yell finally brought Akane onto the porch and she approached the limousine Yuka and Daisuke had rented for the night. Jogging excitedly in her heels, the skirt of her dress flying behind her, Akane got into the car, not sparing a glance at the fiancé who stared stupidly after her.
Sitting at one of the tables nearest the stage, where a jazz band was performing, Akane couldn't help but feel out of place, in the beautiful dress that made a good number of the guys stare at her and the silver heels she could barely walk in. It took about half an hour for the boys to figure out that she really had come without a date and one finally gathered enough courage to ask her for a dance.
"H-hello, Akane-san! If-if you don't mind… I'd like to dance with you," he said pleasantly, offering his hand.
Akane, feeling more than a little relieved at being able to do something other than watch her friends have fun, smiled and took the offered hand, "Sure, Tasuki-san."
He grinned and led her to the dance floor, feeling on his back the envious glares of many of the other boys.
Poor man doesn't know his own son. Shaking her head, she stood up and placed the money in her drawer. Two hours… ha!
Her estimations were more accurate than she thought. It took Ranma five minutes to finally get up the nerve to ask her if she had a tux he could borrow and ten minutes to put it on. Another two seconds and he was running out the door.
"He is SO predictable," she said to the room.
Women do get weary…
Dancing to soft jazz, even with someone she barely knew, made Akane feel pleasantly at peace. Her disappointment at not having someone of her own to slow dance with and the added frustrations of knowing a certain someone was unwillingly obligated to do things like slow dance with her did not go away and was in fact magnified by the situation, but at the moment, she decided she was contented with her impromptu partner's cordial presence.
Tasuki's hands on her waist made her feel slightly more comfortable in the room, their partnership giving her the feeling that she didn't stand out as much as she did when she first arrived and people started to stare and whisper amongst themselves. However, she did have to admit that she would have preferred to be clutching a certain someone's arm.
Wearing the same shabby dress…
And when she's weary,
Try a little tenderness…
The cool voice of the lady singer's voice calmed Akane's nerves and she decided that she was going to make the most of the night even without her stubborn fiancé. Sighing, she hooked her fingers behind Tasuki's head and stepped closer.
Ooh, she may be waiting,
Things she may never possess
And while she's without them…
"Hey buddy, mind if I cut in?"
Try a little tenderness…
Raising her head to make sure her mind wasn't playing tricks on her, Akane gasped, along with the people watching the scene play out. It was, indeed, Ranma who was standing before her and asking if she could dance with him.
Tasuki fumbled, stepping away, noting the hints of possessiveness, impatience, and withheld irritation in Ranma's voice. "O-of course, Ranma-san…"
It's not just sentimental
She has her grief and her care…
Nervously placing his hands on Akane's waist, Ranma searched his mind for something to say. It had just occurred to him that he hadn't prepared an excuse for his being there.
"I… I ain't much of a dancer…"
"Ranma, what are you doing here?" Akane asked, putting her hands on his shoulders.
He flushed, and not just because of his growing panic; Akane's hands felt solid and pleasant. He had to come up with something soon, or he might say something damaging, like the truth.
"I thought you didn't want to come here?" Ranma didn't miss the note of bitterness in his fiancée's voice. "Did our dads make you go? Because if they did, I'm perfectly fine-"
"No," he said, cutting her off. She was starting to sound angry. "Uh, no, they didn't make me or nothin'. I, uh, just felt like goin'…"
But a word, so soft and gentle
Makes it easier to bear…
Akane wasn't satisfied with his answer (Ranma could practically taste the irritation in her aura) but she really didn't feel up to starting a fight in the middle of a room full of people in gowns and ties. Besides, didn't she want Ranma with her anyway?
Akane would soon find out that having her chaos-magnet fiancée dancing with her had its disadvantages.
Kasumi, drying a plate with her apron, stepped out of the kitchen to greet the unexpected visitor. "Well, good evening Shampoo!" she smiled. She wasn't at all glad at the Amazon's presence that particular night, but Kasumi always received guests with warmth. "Ranma's not here right now."
"Where airen?" Shampoo demanded.
"Yeah, where is he?" a new voice cut in. Ukyou stepped into the dining room, another food container in hand.
"What you here for?"
"Same thing you are, sugar," Ukyou answered with disdain. "So, where is he?"
Kasumi sighed. She rarely lied, and she disliked lying, but she was about to right then and there, if Nabiki hadn't stepped in.
"Two thousand yen and I'll tell you."
About a minute after Ranma had nervously placed his hands on Akane's waist, the ballroom had fallen, by the all-too familiar echoes of two battle cries, into a panicked frenzy. Couples automatically cleared the dance floor, leaving Ranma and Akane in the center.
"Sugar, you should've taken me!"
"Airen! What you doing holding violent girl!"
Not wanting to wait for Akane to get mad enough to hit him or for the two girls, who had stomped angrily to the dance floor, to attack and possibly wreck the entire night for everyone else, Ranma swept a surprised Akane into his arms and, as fast as he could, leapt out into the night. "See ya around!"
The two girls followed, their furious shrieks drowning in the room's audible sigh of relief.
He saw the animal just after his body jumped. Predictably, his eyes widened with horror and, landing just a few inches in front of the innocent feline, he lost his balance and slid off into the street, Akane landing on top of him.
Just as suddenly, Shampoo kicked Akane in the stomach and the surprised girl rolled into the curb.
"Violent girl no touch airen!"
Akane coughed with the impact of the hit and stood up on wobbly legs. She vaguely noticed that a part of her dress had caught on a rock and torn.
Ranma stood in front of her and yelled, "Leave us alone, Shampoo!"
Just then, Akane took another blow from Ukyou, who came from the right. She managed to block the next one, aimed at her face, but had had to take a few steps backward. Akane pushed Ukyou off her, twisted around and hit her opponent's shoulder with her elbow. Ukyou fell to her knees with a pained yelp.
Wasting no time, Ranma chose that moment to again sweep Akane into his arms and speed away.
It was just then that he got a chance to check on Akane's physical status. Her hair and face were fine but she had a few bruises and scratch marks on her arms and shoulders. Her beautiful dress, though, had torn to the point of no repair. Its skirt was a mess of dirt-speckled silver and there was a tear that ran from hip to hem.
After dusting herself off as much as she could, Akane wearily sat down on the base of a tree and rested her head on the trunk. Looking up, she stared at the stars between the leaves and branches and sighed.
Ranma, figuring that the beating was not coming soon, sat in front of her, leaning forward and resting his elbows on his knees. "I'm sorry about your dress, 'Kane," he said remorsefully.
Keeping her eyes on the night sky, she answered softly, "It's okay. I never get to keep pretty things."
For some reason, her reply made Ranma feel worse. Akane didn't care much for dressing up, as most girls were, but he had a feeling that her prom dress meant something… something, and she should have been able to keep it.
Akane started running her hands up and down her arms to keep warm. She shivered a little and pulled her legs closer to her body.
Taking off his black jacket and offering it to her, Ranma muttered, "Here. You'll catch a cold like that. I shoulda brought you an extra sweater or somethin'…"
"Thanks," she muttered back, pushing her arms through the armholes.
"I'm sorry I ruined your night too" was all he could think of saying next.
She nodded and remained silent.
Her uncharacteristic despondency worried Ranma, and he decided he would have to make it up to her.
"Hey, can I still have that dance?" he said nervously. "I mean, if… if ya want…"
Akane looked at him, an eyebrow raised in skepticism. There's my Akane, Ranma mused, smiling inwardly.
"There's no music."
"So? We have the night… sounds. Crickets chirping and all." Smooth, Ranma, real smooth, he thought sarcastically, making a mental note to kick himself later. He stood up, blushing furiously, and offered her his hand.
Akane didn't seem to mind his lack of eloquence. "O-okay." She took his hand and let him pull her up. Stepping closer to him, she awkwardly took his wrists and directed him to their earlier position, before Shampoo and Ukyou had interrupted.
Soon, they fell into a dance that didn't seem so silent, even without the jazz accompaniment.
You won't regret it
Women don't forget it
Love is their whole happiness
And it's oh, so easy…
"Hey, I came b-because… I was worried." Among other things. Ranma wished he didn't stutter like that. He couldn't very well help it, what with Akane being so close and following his lead. When he swayed them to the right, she'd let him, and it made him feel strangely warm and glad.
"Why? It's just prom, Ranma," she said irritably.
Breathing heavily, he finally growled, "All right, I was sorry!"
Akane stopped the dance and stepped back. "What? You're not making sense…"
"I was sorry I didn't ask ya, okay?" Ranma scratched the back of his head in a gesture of discomfort.
"Why? If you wanted to go, you could've just said so."
"I didn't think it'd be all that great, anyway. And I couldn't ask you… But then you looked so… so…"
Akane's eyes widened. So that was the brunt of it: he was nervous, he was afraid she'd reject him, just as nervous and afraid as all the other boys were. "So… so what, Ranma?"
As an automatic form of defense, Ranma felt an insult about to leave his mouth. Not wanting to ruin the moment, and feeling that, at this point, moving was the most reliable course of action, he strengthened his spine, pulled Akane by the shoulders and kissed her.
Akane let out a muffled yelp of surprise as her eyes fluttered shut and she unconsciously clutched at his elbow.
Try a little tenderness.
Ranma smiled against his fiancée's surprisingly willing, and incredibly soft, lips. Finally breaking the contact, he forgot to worry about Akane getting mad and hitting him. All he could think about was how wonderful kissing her felt. He could hardly believe he hadn't done it sooner.
Watching her eyes slowly open, the moonlight creating speckles of gray in her irises, he was suddenly very aware of how beautiful his fiancée really was, and he understood why so many were so desperate to be in his position.
Shying away from him, Akane took a step back, stared at her feet, crossed her arms, and hid her hands in the jacket Ranma had lent her. To his male satisfaction, she was biting her lower lip and blushing just as furiously as he was. He was relieved at her reaction. I could get used to her being like this…
After a long pause, he finally broke the silence, "Um… you wanna go home?"
Surprisingly, Akane shook her head and raised her eyes to meet his. "Too early."
Grinning, he took her hand and led her back to the base of the tree. They sat down, staring at everything but each other.
"I think we need to talk…"
"Even just a little?"
"No lying, Ranma."
"All right, but uh, could you cover your leg up?" He pointed to the tear on her skirt. "It's kinda distracting."
Akane, for the first time that night, laughed.
The song is "Try a Little Tenderness". I forget who the original artist is but Michael Bublé has a version which is really good.
Thanks for sparing a few minutes for my little pointless one-shot!