Ukifune: Drifting Boat

By: Crystal_V_Princess

Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½ and I never professed that I did! Well, that's that! *brushes shirtfront off* On with the stor-ay!

She moves quietly, almost noiselessly. Almost. But I've been trained from the youngest part of my childhood to catch even the slightest sound. The ruffle of clothing, a soft breath carried on the wind.

And yet, even viewing the bold shortcomings she so unknowingly exhibits before me, I admire her. Her spirit, the spark of life that keeps her striving for even the slipperiest hold on excellence; Akane Tendo is perfectly imperfect, and maybe that's why she means so much.

"Ranma?" She doesn't touch me, rarely does, actually tries her hardest not to, but she might as well have. It's as if her hands, held tightly by her sides are lying flat on my shoulder blades, her slender fingers splayed out over the pale blue of my shirt, all I have to do is close my eyes and there they are. Her presence is enough to make the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand on end as I bask in the warm glow of heat radiating from her form. She's at least five feet away, but I could feel her from a mile; a shiver runs down my spine despite my forced deportment of composure.

"Yeah?" Great reply there, one of my best. Knowing this fact, I suddenly feel really obtuse as she stares down at me, crouched inelegantly on the roof of the dojo. How does one little tomboy who can't even master the Art she was raised to perform master me so easily?

A small smile appears on her lips and my heart twists sickeningly in my chest. Was that smile for me or at me? There's a difference I know, but somehow I can never find it. "Time for dinner." Her voice is low, not masculine, soft, like a sigh or a whisper tossed on the breeze.

"Okay. Thanks, Akane." I said that by accident. We never show gratitude toward one another, not for simple things like small reminders anyway. It always takes a near-death situation to draw us out of the web of austere emotions that we've woven together. It's pathetic. I know I love her. It's obvious she loves me. Then why's it so hard to say?

After staring blankly at the tiles I'm seated on, I finally raise my eyes to hers. She's surprised, I can tell, even though her face is expressionless. I could always tell with Akane. We're funny that way, so close and so far at the same time. I wonder briefly if I'm really what the doctor ordered for her, but I toss it aside quickly. It doesn't matter; it's too late to ask questions. We've fallen, and complications build by the second.

"Why are you just sitting there?" She questions me, her beautiful brown eyes staring into my soul. I feel like I'm in one of those dreams where you're walking around completely naked in front of a crowd of sneering people, except this is worse. This is Akane. My fiancée. My one and only true love. And she knows it.

"No reason." My retorts are getting shoddier with each syllable. Wow do I have a strong desire to sink into the roofing and stay there for a few thousand years. But she seems satisfied.

"Come one, Ranma." She steps closer and even with my basically flawless balance, I stumble forward when her fingers drop gently around my wrist. "Let's go." I'm on my feet swiftly, standing beside her, barely breathing, my hand hanging limply.

I follow like a pet puppy, but I'm not ashamed. Should I be? Should I let myself succumb to her soft velvet eyes and the curve of her lips as they grace me with that wonderfully limited grin? Strangely enough, I don't really care If I should or not. "You're cute when you smile." I murmur, staring ahead of me as we walk, repeating that one compliment that had stayed to haunt us both for so long, hanging above our heads at awkward moments.

She stops, even before we get to the trapdoor leading back inside, and turns to face me. Her face is pale, sad. I want to do something to bring back the flush in her cheeks that appears whenever I hold her close. "Don't say that." The tone is quavering, as if she might cry. "Please don't say that to me."

I reach up to touch the smooth skin of her brow, tracing my fingertips down the decent of her cheekbone. "Why?" My thumb runs briefly over her bottom lip, I'm fighting a battle within myself, whether I should listen to what she has to say, or just stare idiotically and lose this moment. I move my hand away, and it's as if I'm releasing her from some kind of bond.

"Because you don't have to." Her voice is logical, 'you should know this!' it says, and once again I feel ludicrous. Then she's crying, round beads making darkened trails down her face, the face that I just stroked so tenderly only moments ago.

"Why are you crying?" Is this something I should already have the answer to? What can I do? I contemplate drawing her into my arms, but she's already there, her tears forming a wet mark on my shirtfront. A flash of memouries busies itself in my brain and I remember a story I had to read in school. The Tale of Genji, it was a drama. There was a girl in that story, a girl named Ukifune. Ukifune, drifting boat. Akane and me, we were just like her in our own way.

We're so wrapped up in what we've convinced ourselves we don't have that we can't face what we do have. We're drifting boats. And a drifting boat knows not its destination. "Sorry, Ranma." She pulls back from me abruptly and I'm almost throw off balance again. How does she keep doing that?

"Don't be." I mean it. I don't want her to be sorry for knowing I love her or loving me in return. I want her to face it. But then, I can't really either, so I'm in no place to makes requests. I move my hand to brush the mussed bangs from her view, or more importantly, my view of her.

She catches my hand, pushes it back to my side, but her fingers hold tightly to mine and I grip back with all the strength I possess. "Would you do something for me?" She asks, turning her watery eyes up to mine. I want to tell her I'd do anything for her, die for her if I had to. But I can barely breathe.

"Yes." I finally manage to choke out. It's the best response I've had in what seems like a long while. Her body moves closer to mine and I'm not sure what she's going to do.

"Will you kiss me?" I, Ranma Saotome, self- proclaimed master martial artist and equanimity guru, almost faint. Really. My head begins to feel too heavy for my neck and my vision blurs as I look down at the girl parallel to me. Somehow I compel enough might up in myself to nod mindlessly. I hope there isn't some sort of dopey grin on my face.

I drop my lips to hers clumsily, and well I should, I've never kissed anyone of my own accord before and it shows. Akane, on the other hand seems to be handling this like a pro, as if she's done it a thousand times. A blaze of jealousy rips through me shortly as I wonder who it was that kissed her first. Did she love him?

We separate slowly, our mouths lingering near one another's, waiting, pondering if we should try it again. And as I gaze into her eyes for what must have been the hundredth time that hour, I know that there was no one else. "Akane, I-" I begin to speak, unsure of exactly what I'm going to say. Luckily, she silences any inane babble that might have been blurted with a finger on my lips.

"Shh. I know." She whispers, circling my waist with her arms, her face pressed into my chest again. "I know."

There's nothing else to say. I know one thing for sure as I grab hold of her hand silently and lead her back into the house, we're no longer drifting boats. A drifting boat knows not its destination. We do. Finally.

Author's Note:

Yes, yes, I know it was short! I also know you guys are crazy-mad at me for not yet updating the next chapter of "Three Days", but I had a huge case of Writer's Block! And it's a true fact that those who try and compose through The Block are usually poisoned by it and can no longer write that story again!!!!! *crosses fingers behind her back* No! Really! These aren't just excuses! Heh, heh-well, anyhoo, I'm writing it now and it should be up soon. I promise! Please don't stone me! Much love to my supporters and my reviewers! You guys are the ultimate everything! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Love,

Your lady,

Crystal_V_Princess ;P

P.S. Please don't send me anymore messages saying, "Get your butt in gear, Princess! You lazy crazy!" I'm still recovering from the trauma of the hundred or so messages relaying this memorandum to me *sobs dismally* Just WHO sent all those anyway! *eyes the crowd and begins plucking people out and pointing wildly* You, you! It was YOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU!!!!! Meanie! You know who you are! Teehee, just kidding. All those messages actually helped! Lata!