The Burning of Their Blood

A Ranma ½ Romance

by

Jeremy Harper

Disclaimer – Ranma ½ is the creation of Rumiko Takahashi and is used without permission.

Chapter 1

Ranma sat at the sidelines of the gym with his friends while the Furinkan Girls Volleyball team practiced. Arms draped across his drawn-up knees, chin resting on his forearms, he moodily watched the team captain while ignoring Hiroshi and Daisuke's often lewd running commentary. In his mind he repeated a familiar litany with desperate fervor.

Built like a brick.

Akane set herself by the net, waiting for the opposing squad's serve, legs spread and her body bent forward slightly. Her tee-shirt, somewhat oversized, hung loosely, allowing a peek down her collar and a glimpse of the cleavage formed by her sports bra. The upper slopes of her breasts swelled pleasantly, colored pink by a slight blush of exertion, looking firm and healthy. Her red bloomers clung tightly to her form, showing off the athletic curves of her shapely hips.

Thighs too thick.

The volleyball came spinning over the net. Akane leaped gracefully, long, very toned legs propelling her into the air. With a loud cry she spiked the ball back over the net, scoring a point and retrieving serve for her squad.

Uncute chick.

Akane's face lit up with a confident smile, cheeks flushed with satisfaction. In the afternoon sunlight she seemed to glow.

Ranma sighed inaudibly and pressed his eyes against his forearms. What a crock of shit. He pushed himself to his feet and walked towards the doors, head bowed and hands thrust in pockets, attempting to project nonchalance.

"Where are you going, Ranma?" Hiroshi called out.

"Bored now," Ranma said. "I'm going home." The clang of kicking open the door to the practice fields obscured any follow-up from his friends. Outside, Ranma paused to take a deep, shuddering breath before starting for the school gates, lost in brooding thoughts.

It had been so easy at first, denying that any attraction existed. He had been furious at Akane for how she had so swiftly taken back her offer of friendship after she discovered his curse and had their engagement forced upon her. But the following week proved Kasumi right, that a sweet girl was hiding beneath a violent exterior. Akane buying him time against Kuno, her carrying him back to the Tendo house after his legs gave out, and most of all the sweet smile she gave him after he told her, in his ham-fisted way, that he thought her cute with short hair – all of that starting the slow but sure destruction of his resistance, its fall inevitable as that of a cliff crumbling to the sea.

Sometimes it felt like they took a step back for every two steps forward, but then came Ryugunzawa. He thought he had lost Akane to another boy, Shinnosuke. That his unthinking mouth and rowdiness had finally driven her away. Then she nearly got devoured by the Orochi in an effort to protect him. It had been two weeks since and Ranma was still waking up at night, ghosts of fear and regret chilling him. But even more potent was the memory of Akane's slim, strong hand in his, the warmth of her happiness and contentment radiating from her. All the way home a wish grew in Ranma's heart, and no matter how viciously he drove it away it always returned, each time stronger and more demanding.

Ranma let out another shuddering sigh. He was close to the Tendo estate now, crossing the bridge spanning the canal. He deftly leaped onto the fence and squatted, staring out at the water. He could not lie to himself anymore. He wanted Akane Tendo, wanted to be with her, to mean something to her other than an unwilling fiance or smart-mouthed friend. When he looked at her, he felt within himself a hollow, throbbing ache that he instinctively knew could only be assuaged by her. When he felt that ache, his blood flowed hot and quick, becoming a liquid fire that burned and hurt wonderfully.

Ranma shook his head sharply, standing up and walking the fence rail. The whole situation was hopeless. It was stupid to long for something he could never have. Even discounting all the traps surrounding him set by his father's greed or his own impulsiveness, he could not see how Akane would want to be with someone like him. Certainly, they had a friendship of sorts, despite the pressure of their engagement, and got along fine more often than not. But there remained the fact that far too often his words hurt her. Despite his best intentions his mouth ran faster than his mind and would send Akane into either a fury or tears. He had been trying to curb this habit since returning to Ryugunzawa and had become extraordinarily taciturn. But in the effort to not say the wrong thing, he was barely saying anything to Akane at all. He felt imprisoned, unable to move forward, unwilling to go back.

Ranma entered the house without announcing himself, removing his shoes and quietly making his way to the guest room. The old men ignored him, concentrating on their perpetual shogi game. He heard Kasumi puttering around in the kitchen. He knew Nabiki was out with friends, and Akane would be a while yet. Good. He wanted to be left alone for a time. He threw himself down on his futon and stared at the ceiling, trying to empty his mind. But always his thoughts returned to Akane practicing in the gym, recalling the glimpse down her shirt, the curve of her hips, the passion and pride on her face, all making her desirable beyond compare. Ranma hissed in frustration before surrendering to his rebel thoughts. He submerged himself in all his memories of Akane, allowing himself to revel in the burning of his blood.