Akane smiled as she walked to school. It was a bright sunny morning and everything had gone well for a change. She had gotten up early for practice and finished up her morning routine with a leisure jog around the neighborhood. Then she surprised her family by cooking breakfast. She beamed brightly in remembrance of Kasumi begging for the recipe as her father loudly proclaimed it to be the best meal he'd ever eaten. Nabiki even offered to help her publish a cookbook, for a share of the profits of course.

As she neared the gates of the school she reflected that this was probably the best day of her life and nothing could possibly happen to change that. She saw the gathered boys that she had to beat every morning and prepared for combat, determined not to let this ruin her good mood. Suddenly the entire group burst out laughing and Akane looked around desperately trying to find what they thought was so funny. Looking down she suddenly realized she was clothed in nothing but a pair of oversized clown shoes.

The laughter grew...

Akane shot up in bed gasping in a cold sweat. Calming she looked around and reassured herself that she was in her room. Looking at the clock she saw it was just after four in the morning. Flopping back into bed, Akane sighed in tired frustration. Something would have to change at school and soon, the dreams were just getting more and more weird...

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City of Dreams

Yet another fanfic by John Tannius.

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Nabiki gave her younger sister a smirk as Akane came down the stairs for breakfast, "You look like hell sis."

"Gee, thanks a lot." Akane stuck out her tongue.

"Oh dear, more bad dreams Akane?" Kasumi asked as she brought breakfast in from the kitchen.

Akane shrugged, "It's not that bad really. I'll be fine."

In a rare show of compassion Nabiki spoke up, "I know the morning fights are bringing in money but I can help stop them if need be."

Akane shook her head, "It's my fight. I will deal with this myself." Kasumi gave her a worried look but nodded as she began dishing food out.

All further discussion was silenced as the girls' father came downstairs to eat. Soun looked at his daughters and inwardly sighed. It was obvious they were holding something from him but wouldn't talk about it to protect him. Soun knew he had problems controlling his emotions since his wife died but worried that his daughters might be taking on too much burden just to spare his feelings.

Resolving to confront them about it later Soun sat down to read his morning paper and eat breakfast.

* * * * * * * * * *

Akane walked to school, having let Nabiki go on ahead to set up her betting pools. She sighed as she passed Dr. Tofu's office. Maybe he could do something if she told him of her situation. She shook her head resolutely. This was her problem and she'd just have to deal with it. She just hoped she'd still have some friends after it was all said and done. All the boys wanted to get into her pants and the girls were starting to think she was just a tease, or a lesbian. Only Yuka and Sayuri stuck by her. Akane was thinking of cutting them loose rather than have their reputations tarnished by associating with her.

Maybe she could just transfer to another school. No, that seemed to be running away from her problems. Her real problem was Tatewaki Kuno. If she could somehow deal with him then the rest of her problems would sort themselves out. But how do you convince someone you don't want to have anything to do with them when all they can hear is the sound of their own voice? She'd tried reason, then threats, and finally violence. Nothing seemed to work, the more she resisted, the harder he pursued her. It was almost as if he got off on abuse. Akane shuddered at that thought. As if boys weren't perverted enough, she was being chased by a masochist. If only she could find someone nice to date, someone strong enough to stand up to Kuno.

Akane sighed as she visualized her knight on a white horse riding to save her from her dreadful life. She was shaken from her fantasies by the sounds of charging Furinkan High students. Letting the anger of having been interrupted from her daydreaming wash over her, Akane drove into the crowd of male students all making proclamations of love, or at least lust. She was a little rougher on them than usual and left more than a few unconscious. She thought she may have even broken an arm this time as well. Maybe that was what it took for them to get the hint. She turned to go into the school hoping against hope that he wouldn't be there today and she would go unmolested.

Her prayers went unanswered as a rose shot through the air towards her. Catching it and luckily avoiding the thorns she looked to where Kuno stepped out from behind a tree and let her head droop. "Thank you for the rose Kuno but I'm running late and have to get to class. Besides, I've told you every day since this semester started that I'm not interested in dating you!" He voice rose from a whisper to shouting as she started stomping towards the front door of the school building.

The man named Kuno smiled wistfully and brushed his bangs away from his eyes in a manner he was sure made the ladies hearts flutter, "Ahh dear Akane Tendo, to be so fierce yet so shy. If only you could admit your true feelings then we could drop this daily charade and move on to more romantic pursuits. I challenge you, if you win I will consent to date you."

Akane cringed. Inwardly she felt like crying and she reached for the comfortable anger that she'd had since her mother died and embraced it. She leapt at Kuno with a kick that would have pulverized solid stone. He barely evaded and returned a stinging blow to her thigh as she passed him. As soon as she landed however, Akane kicked back, catching Kuno in the kidney as he turned to face her. As he foot came down, she completed her turn and caught Kuno with an uppercut as he attempted to bring his bokken to defend. Pushing aside the fake sword as if it wasn't there, Akane planted another fist into his solar plexus and caught him in the crotch with her foot as a coup' de grace. She heard groans from some of the recovering male students as Kuno dropped his bokken to cover his family jewels. Akane turned and walked into the school hoping the bell would not ring until she was seated in her classroom.

As Kuno regained his breath and the dark spots cleared from his vision, he wondered if maybe it was Akane's time of the month.

* * * * * * * * * *

Akane sat in the park on a swing idly watching the pinkish cotton candy clouds float by on a mild breeze. The sun was close to setting but she was in no hurry to go home. This was the park her mother used to take her to when she was younger. She'd play for hours on the swings or jungle gym. Sometimes she'd build castles in the sandbox or play tag or some other game with the other children. Mostly she loved being pushed on the swings by her mother. She idly dug her foot in the dirt. Her mother would have known what to do. She had always had the answers, until she started getting sick that is. Not even Dr. Tofu's father who used to run the clinic knew how to make her better.

Akane sighed again trying to find the energy to get up and go home.

"Hey, are you all right?"

To say Akane was startled was something of an understatement. Picking herself up off the ground where she had slid out of the swing she turned to see who had spoken. In the next swing sat a boy about her age. He had black hair in a ponytail and the deepest blue eyes that were currently looking at her in concern. He was wearing a red silk shirt and black pants with black felt slip on shoes. All in all he was quite good looking and Akane blushed in spite of herself.

"Sorry, didn't mean to startle you. You just looked so sad sitting here all by yourself. Would you like to talk about it?"

Akane managed to collect her wits and sat back on the swing, "Not really. I was just thinking of some stuff I have to deal with and was wondering how my mother would have dealt with it."

"Oh... is your mother... is she dead?" The boy asked in barely a whisper.

Akane turned and looked at the strange boy and nodded slowly. She realized she'd never seen him before, "Are you new to the area? I don't think I've seen you before."

The boy shrugged, "Kinda. Depends... I kinda travel a lot but this place looks familiar. By the way, my name is Ranma." He held out a hand.

Akane took it hesitantly and gave it a shake, "Akane Tendo. So are you staying nearby right now?"

"I might." He replied cryptically, "Hey, let's go get some ice cream, it always cheers me up. My treat." He jumped up and held out his hand to Akane.

Akane thought for a moment then took his hand. It wasn't as if he was asking for a date, her mind rationalized.

They walked for a few moments in silence before coming to an ice cream parlor Akane had never seen in her neighborhood before. Ranma opened the door for Akane and pointed to a booth that was empty near the front window. They sat down opposite each other as a waitress came over to take their orders.

Ranma looked up and smiled, "Hiya Celeste, I'll have my usual. What would you like Akane? I recommend the rocky road here, it's the best I've ever had."

Chocolate ice cream sounded very good right now as it was something Akane had always eaten when feeling extremely depressed. She nodded and asked for two scoops in a dish. Celeste nodded with a smile and turned to get their orders. Akane couldn't help but notice the two small batlike wings poking out of the back of Celeste's uniform. For some reason it didn't seem at all strange.

Ranma noticed Akane's stare, "I've known Celeste ever since I was little. She's really nice. She'll probably make sure you get extra large scoops because you're with me." Ranma gave a conspiratal wink.

Akane turned back to Ranma and suddenly noticed it was a bright sunny day outside. Ranma smiled.

"See, your mood is already improving." He remarked.

It all fell into place for her, "This is a dream."

Ranma shrugged, "Dream, reality, what matters is we have ice cream." Celeste had returned and placed a dish of rocky road in front of Akane and a huge banana split with every topping imaginable in front of Ranma.

Akane frowned as Ranma dug into his dessert.

"What? Do I have something on my nose?" He asked.

"None of this is real?" Akane pressed.

Ranma took another bite of ice cream, "Seems pretty real to me. Take a bite, trust me."

Akane hesitantly picked up a spoonful of chocolate and marshmallow confection and put it in her mouth. It tasted real. In fact it tasted better than any ice cream she'd ever had before. She took another bite, then another. Soon she'd finished off the whole bowl.

"That was delicious!" Akane exclaimed.

"Told ya." Ranma grinned as he finished off his belly ache special.

"This is so much better than the dreams I've been having. It's nice to just sit and talk and eat ice cream without worrying about anything."

Ranma raised an eyebrow, "I take it things aren't so good right now? Is it your mother?"

Akane's smile drooped, "No, my mother left us years ago. I've just been having some problems at school. It's nothing I can't deal with it."

"Sometimes it helps to talk about it. Just getting it out can sometimes provide insight for a solution. Speaking of which, what's the answer to question forty two?"

"Huh?" Akane said blanky.

"Akane Tendo, what is the answer to question forty two?" Ranma said in a voice that wasn't Ranma's. In fact it sounded a lot like Tahara Sensei from math class...

* * * * * * * * * *

Akane jerked awake, knocking her books off her desk to the laughter of her fellow students.

"Miss Tendo, if you cannot be bothered to pay attention in my class you will have to sit out the rest of class in the hallway. Buckets now."

There were snickers from behind her as Akane picked up her books then got up and left the room.

Standing in the hallway with a bucket of water in each hand, Akane thought back to the dream she'd just had.

"My dreams are definitely getting weirder."

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Author's Rant:

I usually don't come up with original ideas very often. Most times I see something someone else has done and either make my own version or mix it with another stolen idea to make something new. Sometimes this is better than the original but more often it's not. City of Dreams came to me out of almost nowhere recently and wouldn't stop pestering me until I started writing it. I can't say much without giving away the plot but the basis for the mechanics of the story come from a series of conversations I had with a room mate almost seven years ago. Things will become apparent as the story progresses and I will save this space at the end to reply to any comments made in previous chapters.

Notice of Disclaimer: 'dis claimer here claims dat 'dis work of fiction is based on da' works of Rumiko Takahashi and no one here is claimin' day's ownin' it see?