The Talk


Jeremy Harper

Disclaimer – Ranma ½ is the creation of Rumiko Takahashi. Batman is the creation of Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Both are used without permission.

Note: This story takes place after Looking For Trouble. In it, Akane has moved to Gotham City with Ranma and Bruce, has received advanced training and has assumed a heroic identity. She and Ranma have also begun seriously dating. There are no spoilers for Looking For Trouble or any of the other stories I have in mind in this series. I will not be revealing Akane's superheroic persona here.

"Master Bruce, there is something important I need to discuss with you."

Bruce looked up from the paperwork he had brought home from his office at Wayne Enterprises, frowning a little in concern at Alfred's tone.

"Of course, Alfred. What's the problem?"

"It's not a problem per se, sir, but I do believe it requires your attention."

Alfred paused for a moment. Bruce looked at him curiously. If he did not know better, he would have thought his old friend was slightly abashed. The butler coughed into his fist and continued.

"I think it would behoove everyone concerned if you give your proteges The Talk."

Bruce blinked, momentarily confused. "The Talk?" he muttered.

Alfred nodded and gave him a direct look. Bruce's brows arched to his hairline as insight dawned.

"Oh! Well, Alfred... I'm not certain why you think that's necessary. We both gave Ranma a thorough grounding on the matter before we let him out on the field back when he was ten. As for Akane, I'm certain that between school and Kasumi she knows what she needs to about the... uh... facts of life."

"I have no doubt that Master Ranma and Miss Akane understand the mechanics of the act, sir. But I think it would be helpful if you spoke with them about the actuality of sex and set some ground rules." Alfred looked expectantly at his oldest for a moment, sighing softly when he received but a blank look in return. "You have noticed that Master Ranma and Miss Akane are quite enamored with each other, and have recently started acting on those feelings? They have gone on dates three weekends in a row. Besides that they are almost continuously in each other's presence during their waking hours. You also realize that they are both extremely physical, are participating in a profession that is highly stressful, and that their working partnership is reinforcing the already strong bonds that formed between them due to their shared experiences in Japan. Finally, both of them are very attractive, and they are quite aware of how comely the other is. It would be prudent if you spoke to them before they follow the instincts nature and circumstances has endowed in them, just so to avoid complications later on."

Bruce stared wide-eyed at Alfred for a few moments as he reviewed incidents and interactions between his two junior partners. He blew out a deep breath and leaned back in his leather office chair, rubbing at his brow.

"You're right, of course, Alfred. I have noticed it, but didn't think I needed to comment on it. Both of them are responsible young adults."

Alfred smiled. "They are indeed, but they are also hot-blooded, and hormones have the tendency to burn away responsibility and muddle rational thought."

Bruce nodded. He dropped his hand and visibly steeled himself. "I'll talk to them when they get back from school." He tapped a forefinger against his lips thoughtfully. His mouth quirked in a half-smile and he stood. "I'll be down on in the Batcave, Alfred. Let me know when they come home."

Alfred looked at him quizzically. "What are you thinking, Master Bruce?"

"Oh, nothing serious. Just if I have to go through with this, I might as well get a little amusement from it as pay-off."

Alfred arched an eyebrow. "Very well. I'll leave it to you then, sir." He walked to the door, then paused at it and turned back. "I hope you understand that I will be monitoring the situation discretely."

Bruce frowned, feeling chastised. "Alfred, I'm not going to do anything to embarrass them." Alfred's gaze was skeptical. "Well, it won't embarrass them that much."

"Oh, more the pity. I agree that one must get one's amusement where he can."

Alfred was doing some light cleaning in the library when the mansion's security system informed him of Ranma and Akane returning from school. He promptly informed Bruce via the intercom.

"Thank you, Alfred. Send them up to my study in a few minutes."

The butler acknowledged the request and went to fetch the young couple. He found them in the foyer, standing before the large front door, and paused a moment when he saw them, fond amusement warming him. The two teens were rather involved with each other and had not noticed his approach. They were kissing, not deeply yet, but intensely, eyes shut as they became lost in each other. Ranma's hands rested on Akane's hips, gently stroking up and down. Akane hummed into his mouth in approval. She stood on her tiptoes, arms thrown around her fiance's broad shoulders, one small hand toying with his pig-tail. Ranma's right hand slipped to the small of her back and began to gently trail up her spine.

Alfred coughed discretely into his fist. The two teens' eyes snapped open and they jumped away from each other as if yanked apart by ropes.

"Alfred!" squeaked Akane. "How... How are you?"

Her cheeks had taken on the hue of ripe tomatoes, her eyes darted about, refusing to settle on him as she nervously straightened her blouse. Ranma's expression was better schooled, though his face was somewhat flushed. He rocked back a little on his heels, thrusting his hands in his pockets. The smile he flashed seemed both embarrassed and smug.

"I'm doing quite well, Miss Akane," said Alfred. "I take it the two of you have had a good day."

Ranma's smile became a grin. "Yeah, you could say that," he said, giving Akane a teasing, sideways look. She gave him a pouting frown and shoved him.

"Jerk," she muttered. He snickered at her reaction.

Alfred smiled in amusement. "I'm glad to hear that. I've come to tell you that Master Bruce wants you to meet him in his study." The two teens quickly shed their embarrassment, looking seriously at him.

"Is something serious going on, Alfred?" asked Ranma. He was concerned, since Bruce rarely asked for a meeting in the study.

"No, no, it's nothing work-related," he hastily reassured them. "It's just that something has come to his attention that he wants to discuss with both of you."

Akane glanced questioningly at Ranma, who shrugged and shook his head. "Okay. Let us drop our books off in our rooms and then we'll go see him."

"Of course, Master Ranma."

A few minutes later the two knocked on the study door, entering when Bruce answered. He was sitting behind his large oaken desk, a well-cared for antique that had been in the family since before the Civil War. The teens looked at him curiously; their mentor seemed pensive, tapping a finger on the desk top, his lips pursed.

"You wanted to see us, Bruce?" Akane asked.

"Yes." He gestured at the two leather chairs in front of the desk and they sat.

"What's up?" asked Ranma.

Bruce did not answer immediately, instead leaning back in his chair and staring at the ceiling for a minute. The two teens exchanged confused glances. Bruce actually seemed reluctant, almost embarrassed, something outside of Akane's experience, and which Ranma could not recall last seeing. Finally Bruce let out a deep breath and leaned forward, looking seriously at his proteges.

"It's come to my attention that the two of you are dating," he said.

Akane blinked. "Well, yes," she said slowly. "It's not like we've been hiding the fact. We've told you every time we go out to dinner or the movies."

"I know. And also I've noticed that you're quite... happy... with each other. Very affectionate, in fact."

Akane blushed a little. Ranma simply rolled his eyes. "You truly are the World's Greatest Detective," he deadpanned. "Is there a point to this, Bruce?"

"Yes. In light of your new, growing relationship, Alfred suggested that I have a talk with you two."

Akane frowned slightly. Ranma's brow furrowed. "A talk..." he muttered. Then both teens realized what Bruce meant simultaneously, their eyes going wide. "Are you kidding me?" Ranma snapped.

Akane blush deepened. "There's... there's really no need, Bruce," she stammered out. "I know how... how... sex works." She squirmed a little in her chair and looked at her fiance out of the corner of her eyes. He looked more indignant than embarrassed, scowling at his guardian.

"I do, too," Ranma said. "You had me write a fifteen page essay on it back when I was ten before you let me join you on patrol."

"It was necessary," said Bruce mildly. "There are women who use their sexuality as a weapon and would think you an easy target, especially when you were younger. You had to be prepared to defend against that."

"I understand and appreciate that, but in all honesty I really don't want to repeat the experience. Receiving the Talk from you and Alfred once was more than enough. We don't need it."

Bruce held up a placating hand. "Ranma, I know you and Akane aren't ignorant about sex. However, Alfred thinks, and I agree with him, that we need to set some ground rules for your relationship.

"Bruce!" shouted Ranma, outraged.

Akane desperately wanted the floor to open up and send her plummeting into the Batcave to escape this. Going to a tea party hosted by the Mad Hatter felt more appealing than staying here. "We... we aren't going to... I mean, we're not planning on sleeping together!"

Bruce gave them both a stern, direct look. "Perhaps not now, but can either of you honestly say to me that you have not been considering it?"

Akane felt so hot she was surprised she had not caught fire yet, while Ranma looked pole-axed and had started blushing deeply himself.

"You care for each other deeply," Bruce continued. "You share a profound bond, one that is growing stronger due to your partnership and shared experience in a very exclusive profession. Unless something untoward happens, it's going to happen, probably fairly soon, and I'd rather have this matter out in the open now than have the pair of you sneak around behind my and Alfred's backs."

"Not gonna happen anytime soon now," muttered Ranma, feeling very disappointed despite himself. He glanced at Akane and suddenly looked away. Akane looked down at her hands clenched together in her lap, but nodded in agreement.

"You're a jerk, Bruce," Ranma grumbled with great feeling

Bruce smiled, unoffended. "That I am, but I'm also right. Do either of you disagree?"

Neither teen said anything. Bruce nodded, satisfied.

"Now with the preliminaries out of the way." Bruce took a deep breath, taking a moment to carefully pick what to say next. "I want both of you to be responsible, and take appropriate precautions. I would also appreciate it, when the time comes, that you be discrete. The Gotham and New York gossip columns and news sites are already having fun covering you two dating. Try not to give Vicki Vale anything really juicy to report."

Ranma and Akane stared at Bruce in surprise. Ranma's jaw fell open a little.

"What?" he said, sounding stunned.

"Are... you giving us your approval?" Akane asked softly.

"No," said Bruce. "But neither am I forbidding you. Frankly, Akane, I don't have a say in this. You're both seventeen now, a year past the age of consent in Gotham County and well past it for Japan. But even if I did disapprove, I'm realist enough to understand that nothing I do or say will stop the two of you when you decide to have sex."

Both teens winced. Bruce smiled indulgently.

"Also," he continued, "as far as I'm concerned, the two of you are adults. You operate and thrive under pressures and responsibilities that most adults will never experience or understand. And since you have adult responsibilities, I will not be a hypocrite and treat you like children in this matter. I trust you, and know that you will behave appropriately."

Ranma and Akane did not say anything. They both were still tense, but Bruce could see them start to relax. Ranma's eyes looked thoughtful, and Akane had a small smile on her face. They glanced at each other again, and this time did not flinch away from the eye contact.

"I'm only going to set one rule," said Bruce. "No fooling around on the field, either in Gotham or out with the Titans. Understood?" Akane and Ranma nodded. "Other than that..." he trailed off for a moment and sighed, slumping a little in his chair. "Be safe and considerate of each other. Sex changes things. Your relationship, the way you look and think about each other will be different. Just remember that please."

No one said anything. Ranma and Akane were lost in their own contemplations, while Bruce watched them thoughtfully. After a minute Bruce spoke up. "Akane, would you like me to make an appointment with Dr. Thompkins to discuss birth control?"

"I... I think that would be a good idea, Bruce," she said quietly. She licked her lips nervously. Ranma visibly swallowed.

Bruce nodded. "Very well. Until then I want you to keep these in your utility belts." He took something from a drawer of his desk and slid it across to his proteges.

"What is it?" Akane asked, picking it up. After looking at it she let out a squeak, dropping it as if it had burned her fingers.

"Really?" said Ranma loudly, his blue eyes flaming. "Really?"

The items had unfolded into two strips of condoms. Stamped on each silver foil packet in stark black was the bat symbol.

"You are such a dork!" Ranma growled.

Bruce grinned, unrepentant. "True, but I can live with that as long as you keep your dork covered."

Akane covered her blushing face with her hands. Ranma made incoherent choking sounds.

"That's it," he finally managed to rasp out. "I'm outta here." He stormed out of the study in disgust.

Akane dropped her hands and glared at Bruce. He grinned back toothily.

"I don't have the words," she said. "I just don't. I'm not talking to you anymore."

She followed her fiance with as much dignity as she could muster, Bruce's good natured laughter chasing after her.

In another part of the manor Alfred chuckled heartily as he made a mental note to make some of Akane's and Ranma's favorite dishes for tonight's dinner, so to sooth ruffled feathers and pay them back for the amusement the young couple had provided.

Author's Notes: Blame PurseMonger for this.

Originally this was a story I was saving for a catch-all I'm planning called The Prince and Princess of Gotham City, a series dealing with Ranma and Akane's relationship both in and out of costume. However, this series is at least three or four stories away, and I don't know if I'll ever get to it. Meanwhile, PurseMonger had been pester... I mean, encouraging me to write more romantic interactions between the two, and pointed out that I don't have to write the stories in the order I had planned. I wrote back to her, saying that I'm a linear writer by nature, but the seed had been planted and this story demanded to be written out of sequence. Hopefully you enjoyed it.

Thanks once again to PurseMonger for her pre-reading, suggestions, and enthusiastic support.