DISCLAIMER: Oh, how I wish I owned Ranma and Company. But I don't and I admit it, so don't sue me.


By Rising Sun

Chapter 1

It was a bright and sunny day in Nerima. Birds were chirping, children were laughing, and one particular Nabiki Tendo in room 3E at Furinken High School was about to blow her top.

"Sensei, I _cannot_ be paired with Kuno for our project!! This is ridiculous!"

"Miss Tendo, I'm very sorry, but this cannot be helped; everyone else has already started their project with their current partners. I can't possibly move you now."

Nabiki stared at her teacher in abject horror. No no no nonononono!!!!!!! How could this happen? Just one period missed because of a dentist appointment (how could she possible have known that her sweet tooth would be the death of her!) and she was stuck doing her science project with Kuno, Nerima's own private walking freak show.

"Sensei, could I please at least do this project on my own?" You don't have a choice! she thought fiercely. You had better give me a better partner or I'm going to kick your ass! But then she remembered, resignedly, that this particular teacher was the cousin of the best friend of a very VERY influential certain person in Kobe. It would be certain death for her career if she screwed with this wimpy excuse for a human being. So she surrendered.

"Nabiki Tendo, if it's any consolation at all, I am equally disgusted by the potential that we may be actually have to spend time with each other."

Nabiki was not having a good day.


The sky was a brilliant blue, a cerulean of such intensity that it muted the sounds from the play yard. Nabiki stared into the cloudless sky. It's so warm for a fall day, she thought. Unusually warm. The deep green of the leaves above her cast a still shadow onto her face. There was no breeze to stir them from their quiet tranquility. This was Nabiki's tree, the one she seldom came to anymore. When she was younger, the oak was her usual haunt, the place of scraped palms, quiet afternoons, solitary picnics, and home of furtive dreams. The trunk was unusually high and smooth, and so the other children never ventured into its branches. Young Nabiki, inept though she was at martial arts, was surprisingly proficient at tree climbing, and soon claimed the uncharted territory as hers. Many times, she would find young couples sitting together under the tree. Sometimes she would be sprawled high in the oak when they came, and, hidden by the thick foliage, she had had to wait for them to leave before she could climb back down. Nabiki had always been, at heart, a solitary creature, who enjoyed her moments of being alone. Recently, she had stayed away from the oak, finding that managing school, home, money, and a social life left little time for reclusive contemplation. But once in a while, on difficult days like today, she came back to have some time to herself.

Why do I have to be stuck with Kuno? she wondered for the hundredth time. The sun was already beginning to set, and she slid out of the tree Harder to do in a school uniform! Nobody look! she thought to herself, grinning. Kami, I won't be able to get anything done! He's going to rave and rant the whole time, and even if he does try to contribute, it won't amount to nothing anyways. He doesn't even have two brain cells to rub together. She kicked at the sidewalk. A breeze had come up and she was unprepared. The cold wind hit her bare arms, knocking out whatever semblance of warmth she had absorbed earlier. And the ten-year anniversary would be in a week. Ten years! More than half her life she had been self sufficient, relying on no one, not even Kasumi, to nurse her wounds and offer a shoulder to cry on. Ten years since she had substituted a tree for a mother.

She was so absorbed in her thoughts that Nabiki did not notice a dark form coming up beside her. All she knew was that it was warm, and that she was cold, and that she missed her mami.

She unconsciously drifted toward the source of the warmth, and nearly jumped out of her skin when the form spoke.

"Umm. Nabiki?"

"Shit Kuno! What are you trying to do, give me a heart attack???" Kuno picked up her book bag from the street, and handed it to her. She snatched it away, growling something unintelligible. Her hand was shaking, Kuno noticed worriedly.

"Are you all right? You're completely white."

"But of course I'm fine! Just like any normal human being would be after they'd been scared half to death by some unknown person on a deserted street at sundown!"

"But you know who I am."

"Not if you sneak up next to me like a goddam stalker and shout my name in my ear!" Nabiki stalked homeward, glowing with a palpable ferocity. She tried to control her self, to regain whatever shred of dignity she had left, and managed to push down the rushing adrenaline caused by sudden terror. But as she regained control of her wits, she still could not understand why she had been so frightened and upset by his sudden appearance in the first place.

She whipped around; he was still following her, keeping pace by her side with a look of concern on his face.

"I apologize," Kuno ventured. "I have been searching for you all afternoon because you left without telling me when you would like to meet for the project."

Nabiki stared. Kuno? Being responsible for once? This is a first! "I suppose we can meet at my house after school."

"Why not at the Kuno Estate?"

"Because I just happen to have this strange aversion to being drugged by leotard wearing maniacs, that's why." Nabiki felt her heart rate slow considerably. Amazing what wonders a few sarcastic, biting remarks could do for her health! She grinned inwardly.

"Fine then, till tomorrow, Nabiki Tendo." He turned around and walked away.

Nabiki watched him leave with a mixture of disgust and puzzlement. Then she shook her head and headed for home.



"You never learn, do you Kuno? Ouch!"

"Hah! You feel my wrath!"

"Okay, now you're gonna get it!"

"HOLD IT RIGHT THERE!" A high-pitched yell resounded throughout the yard. Heads turned. Ranma and Kuno froze in mid-air, fists just millimeters from each other's stomachs.

Nabiki strode unhurriedly onto the field, and stopped underneath the pair, looking up at them with one hand on her hip and the other holding a rice cracker.

"Ranma, get down from there, and. No! Don't you dare try and go through with that left jab, or I will personally see to it that your debts are increased 50%. You definitely can't afford that; I know this for a fact. And Kuno, if you so much as touch Ranma with that pathetic excuse for a weapon, you are never going to see your pigtailed pumpkin EVER AGAIN, DO YOU HEAR ME? I have a science project with Kuno that needs to get done, and I absolutely refuse to work with a crippled idiot after school. So no more fights for the next month until after we've turned the project in, kapish?"

".Y.yes, Nabiki. s.sorry."

Exhilarated by the recent display of her power, Nabiki permitted herself a small smile as she turned to head out of school. She had reached the gate when she heard, "Nabiki Tendo! Permit me to accompany you!"

She stopped and waited for Kuno to catch up, and then strolled out of Furinken.

"I love capable women," he declared.

"Bullshit. You love beautiful women who hate you." Kuno laughed, surprising her.


The first day of work passed uneventfully and productively. Nabiki was surprised at how much Kuno knew about scientists and their discoveries.


"Okay. So if Franklin discovered the structure of DNA."

"No, that was Watson and Crick. Franklin only took the picture that led them to that conclusion."

She does a face fault. "Kuno! I never knew! The hidden genius emerges!"

He stares at her with an unreadable expression. "I'm not an idiot, despite what you obviously think."

She doesn't know what to say to that. "Oh."

"I actually do learn things in school. I might actually LIKE science." He keeps looking at her. She notices that he has really beautiful eyes. She wishes he would stop staring at her like that. Like a wounded animal or something.

She doesn't tease him about what he knows anymore.

Kuno was surprised to discover that the Periodic Table of Elements could bring out the hidden, sweet, contemplative side of a usually malicious Nabiki.


"Since metals always have to pair with non metals."

"Like people."


"Like how people always hang out with certain types of people and not others."

He is confused. "I suppose so."

She has her chin in her hands. "I wonder if elements bond to another particular element better than any other. You know, like people have soul mates, or so some people think. Or maybe elements don't have a special bond to another, and that's why people don't. " She is staring into space.

He sees her soft brown hair and slender, vulnerable frame for the first time. He finds that he can't remember why he so intensely disliked her or thought her vicious. He thinks that of all the people who deserve forever, it's her.


"I'm starving. Let's go bug Kasumi for something to eat." Nabiki jumped up and stepped nimbly over the stacks of books and printed information and notebooks scattered around her bedroom floor. Kuno, startled from his reverie, scratched a jagged line through the equation he was writing.

"Hey! Wake up! I'm not hosting this party to watch you snooze!" snapped Nabiki, indicating the ugly line on Kuno's paper.

"Calm yourself, Nabiki Tendo," Kuno grumbled, standing up. "I can rewrite it."

Nabiki threw up her hands. "Fine, whatever. I just need to get something to eat right now. Coming or not?"

"Of course."

"Ok then." She slipped out of the room. Kuno hesitated for a moment, trying to recall the sense of happy contentment he had had a minute earlier. Had he really been asleep and dreaming? He shook his head again and followed Nabiki down to the kitchen.

To be continued.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: An obvious Nabiki and Kuno fic. Should I continue this? Do I have any hope at all? C&C please!