AN: I wrote this little scene to take place after Ranma realizes the Instant Nannichuan *isn't* permanent. Why did I feel the need to write it? ::grin:: Well, simply because I felt like there was a lot of events that were never really explored or discussed. Hence the name of "Sequel". I also wrote it because WAFF is more than just a little fun. Please enjoy and thank you for reading! ^_^
'The Dojo Destroyer was back!' Akane realized with alarm. Her eyes frantically flitted about the sparse room, searching desperately for Ranma, but the only people she could find were Kasumi, and her father, watching pensively from the sidelines. Her fiancé was nowhere in sight.
'Alright, then, I guess it's up to me!' She nodded her head once in resolve, eyeing the huge man no more than ten feet away.
Akane steeled herself and charged- only to shriek in pain as her injured left fist collided with one of the signs from the Dojo Destroyer's extensive collection. She recoiled savagely, the pain from the forgotten injury shocking her into letting her guard down as she cradled her arm against her stooped form.
The Dojo Destroyer knew an opening when he saw one. Flinging the boards of wood as if they were no more than light-weight darts, he pinned the stunned Akane to the wall of the sparring room. The world seemed to go slo-mo as she watched the Destroyer carefully aim and deploy one last sign- it's trajectory was quite obviously the exact center of her face.
'Wait…I…I remember this! Ranma! Ranma will come now!' Akane recalled, a sense of elation breaking through the shell of dread that encased her. Any second, he'd burst through the wall on Shampoo's bike and block the final defeating blow.
But the sign came closer and Ranma didn't come at all. Letting out a last desperate cry she squeezed her eyes shut as she felt the sign make contact, heard the crunch of splintered cartilage as the pain screamed down her nerve endings.
Akane jerked up in her bed, panting wildly. Instinctively, she brought her hands up to her face, expecting to find a pancake instead of her nose. Relief crashed through her when she came in contact with a perfectly three-dimensional sniffer. As she slumped back on her pillows she heard the beams above her ceiling groan, as if a weight had been shifted slightly.
'Is he still up?' Akane wondered, throwing the covers, that now seemed to smother more than soothe, off of her. Quietly, she padded out of her room.
Ranma didn't even lift her disinterested gaze when she heard the soft crack of a ladder against the roof, nor flinch as a stream of hot water was poured over her head, restoring masculinity. He did, however, turn slightly to accept the fluffy yellow towel that had been thrust under his nose, and to regard the small, pajama-clad female that had joined him.
"Still brooding over that instant nannichuan?" Akane asked, a slight shiver caused by the cool night working it's way up her spine.
He turned away again and fixed his blank stare on the horizon as he rubbed the towel over his dripping locks. Akane took a moment to study his grim profile in the soft light cast by the half moon before she sighed heavily as she thumped down next to him, legs tucked neatly beside her body.
"I'll take that as a 'yes'" she commented when it became apparent that he wouldn't. After a few minutes of silence she favored him with a sympathetic look. "You shouldn't worry about it too much. I mean, even with the curse, you have girls falling all over you."
"I know," Ranma sighed, making Akane roll her eyes at his unintentional arrogance, "But it's disappointing, y'know? I got my hopes up, went through all that trouble-for nothing." He shook his head sadly, the wind whispering as if to agree with him.
"Well, you live, you learn." Akane mused, as she shifted into a more comfortable position. She winced for only a moment when she placed a little too much weight on her left hand, but it was enough to gain Ranma's attention.
"What's wrong?" He inquired, his brooding instantly forgotten. He raised his eyebrows as he saw Akane stiffen next to him.
"N-Nothing!" She nearly snapped, her reply too strong and too fast for Ranma to buy it.
Ignoring the undertones of warning she had sent him, his eyes methodically swept her body looking for any signs of injuries or illness. He pulled up short when he found one- crisp white bandages, like snow, wrapped tightly around her fingers and palm. He hadn't noticed that earlier.
"Di-did that happen in…the fight?" He asked sheepishly, gesturing to the hand lying lightly on the rough roof tiles.
"No." Akane huffed as she angrily blew a few errant bangs out of her eyes. She knew Ranma had caught the hint that she didn't wish to speak about her hand…and now he'd just laugh at her. "I got it before the fight…when I punched that wall. Dr. Tofu fixed it but…I accidentally hit something before I was supposed to use it again."
She fixed her gaze on the koi pond below her to avoid Ranma's eyes, thoroughly embarrassed, almost dreading the derogatory comments she knew were coming.
Ranma nearly smiled at Akane's confession.
'After all,' he reasoned 'only Akane could *accidentally* hit something.'
But any amusement he would have felt from that fact was overshadowed by a frightening revelation- she had only been fighting with one hand. Shampoo had been right when she had said the Dojo Destroyer was too strong for just Akane to beat. And that was neglecting the fact that Akane might have had any injuries. She easily could've attained more serious injuries than the few bruises she sported now. Guilt flooded Ranma.
"Listen…Akane," Ranma began, scratching the back of his head to cover his nervousness. "I'm…I'm really sorry I wasn't there today. Y'know to prote- I mean, to help you out."
These were not the words Akane had been expecting. She started and jerked her head to look at her fiancé, just in time to catch his sincere expression. The night may have been chilly, but Ranma's heartfelt apology was enough to warm Akane. She felt all the resentment she had been storing over his abandonment grow soft and melt.
"It's alright, Ranma. I think…I think I understand." She responded, unknowingly flashing Ranma the smile that made his heart kick into a gallop and his mouth cease any form of coherent communication.
Quickly, Ranma averted his wide-eyed gaze, before the smile had time to produce any more adverse effects. Clearing his throat, he took a deep gulp of the sharp air before he answered her. "No, it's not ok. You were only fighting with one hand. You really coulda been hurt."
Akane's happiness dissolved into a confused frown. Was he implying that she was weak?
"Ranma, I'm a martial artist the same as you. I may not be as good as you, but that doesn't mean that I should shirk the responsibilities of my challenges. It's our dojo- we should be the ones to protect it. Stop feeling so guilty. Besides, if it had been me in your position-"
"You woulda blown Shampoo off and been there after-school." Ranma finished vehemently.
Akane blinked up at him, rendered completely mute. Ranma felt his cheeks flush slightly in embarrassment but continued. "And well…that's my point. I didn't *hafta* be there. I just shoulda been."
A faint "Ranma" was about all Akane could manage. She had never known either of the Saotome's to admit they were wrong- Ranma was completely tearing down the walls of predictability.
"I mean," Ranma continued, a bit heartened by her rapt attention, "You're always helpin' me out, even if it doesn't do much good most of the time-"
At this, Akane deflated. The classic Ranma "Foot in Mouth" syndrome had reasserted itself. Well, she knew it was too good to last.
"-but you still try and then when you really need *my* help, I run off on some stupid date with Shampoo, and leave you to fight with a hurt hand."
Finished with his explanation, he tugged at his pigtail unconsciously in his remorse. The silence from Akane was intimidating and he wondered if maybe he had said something wrong again. He sighed, his mind turning that melting smile she had thrown at him into the expression of annoyance and anger she usually sported when talking to him.
"Speaking of Shampoo…" She almost whispered, her tone too soft to be able to distinguish what emotions were behind it, "You…you never really told me indefinitely…if you kissed her or not."
Ranma cast a cautious glance in her direction. Anything more unsettling than a quiet Akane was a meek Akane. He simply just wasn't accustomed to this faucet of her personality- she usually reserved it for people she liked.
"You did, didn't you?" She huffed in an almost hurt voice, mistaking his lack of response for an affirmation of guilt.
"No! I didn't!" Ranma denied, "But…" he added in a smaller voice.
"But?" Akane repeated expectantly.
"But…I would have." Ranma admitted in a fit of honesty, his eyes squeezing shut and waiting for the mallet he knew would send him into orbit. When the only thing that hit him was the air from Akane's little "oh…" he opened one eye tentatively.
She didn't look angry; she looked calm and composed in her oversized pajamas, eyes slightly brighter than usual. A night breeze tousled her short ebony locks, but despite the image of serenity, Ranma had a gut feeling that it was merely that- an image. Reproach followed in the wake of her sad acceptance.
"It's…not like I *wanted* to or nothing." He explained in his defense, "But, she wouldn't let me get the packet and come back to the dojo unless I did…"
He trailed off, for once his excuses sounding lame to his own ears. But it seemed to have made a difference to Akane, for she sat up a little straighter.
"Well…"she said slowly, as if she was forming a very delicate and complex sentence, "even if you had, it wouldn't have counted."
"It wouldn't have?" Ranma parroted stupidly.
"Nope. It only counts if you *want* to kiss them. If they make you, or trick you, then it's null and void." She reasoned, looking pleased at her own logic.
Ranma grinned. "Yeah! Yeah, I guess you're right!"
Akane beamed at Ranma then, once again turning all of his mental capacities to mush. Never had Akane smiled so much at Ranma before, and the effect of those smiles must have dazed the poor boy, for the next question he let slip was one he had never thought he would voice outloud.
"Akane…does that mean….does that mean that the time I kissed you when I was in the Cat Fist counts?"
Akane drew a sharp breath, as if she had taken a good punch to the gut. "I thought you said you didn't remember that. Besides, you would have kissed anyone." She pointed out glumly, but her words struck a chord in the pigtailed martial artist crouching next to her, provoking his ire.
He rose angrily, his voice an angry shout, "I would *not* have kissed anyone! What kind of guy do you think I am!? I was around plenty of girls in the schoolyard and I didn't kiss none of them, did I!?"'So if I kissed you, it was because I wanted to…'
The implication hung heavy in the air. Ranma fumed silently, entirely unaware in his anger what he had just let slip.
Akane, however, had none of Ranma's righteous indignation, and was desperately trying to keep her cheeks from turning rosy, while simultaneously doing her best not to feel too awkard- or too please.
"So you remember, then?" Akane asked, almost hopeful.
"Well…no…" Ranma answered, losing his fire and sitting down again "But I saw a picture." He countered. But he wanted to remember. Kissing Akane…well that just wasn't a memory you'd want to pass up, after all.
There was a long pause before Akane responded.
"Well…until you remember it, I think it's safe to say it doesn't count." she remarked, her chilly toes suddenly holding her undivided attention.
"O..ok." Ranma agreed reluctantly, both relieved and disappointed at the same time.
The conversation waned as they both sat on the roof, a rare contented silence stretching over the two. It was when the edges of grey touched the black blanket of night that Akane decided it was time to go in.
Rising from her seated position she yawned and stretched both arms over her head. Ranma watched her out of the corner of his eye.
"Well, I'm going back to bed," She declared, relishing the thought of sleep. "You should go to bed, too." She advised the pig-tailed one.
"In a bit." Ranma waved off her suggestion. "I'm still not tired."
"Ok," Akane replied over another yawn, "In that case, goodnight."
"Night, Akane." For some reason, Ranma's accustomed response seemed to hold more weight than usual. Truth be told, he was slightly at loathe to see her going, but he was not about to admit that- to *anyone*.
"And Ranma" Akane called a minute after her head disappeared over the edge of the roof.
"I'm glad you didn't kiss Shampoo. Even if it wouldn't have counted."
The mere words would have been enough to send the martial artist on the roof to stammering idiotically, but the way she had said them, soft and gentle as if she were intending them to be some sort of verbal caress, had his heart doing the can-can in his chest.
"AKANE!" He yelled after her. The footsteps down the ladder halted. That was enough for Ranma. "Why are you glad I didn't kiss Shampoo?!"
There was a pause before Akane poked her head up and stuck her tongue out.
"Not telling." She grinned and started down again. Seconds ticked by as Ranma sat in stunned silence.
"He-HEY!" He protested finally, "You can't do that!"
"Caaaan tooooo" Akane countered in a sing-song voice as she made her way down the last ladder rungs.
Ranma bristled slightly in annoyance. "Stupid tomboy." He said loudly enough for her to catch it.
"Grumpy pervert!" Akane's retort drifted cheerily up to his perch above her from the safety of the ground.
Ranma waited to hear the door close behind her before he muttered out his usual speil. "She is *so* uncute."
But this time, there was a smile on his face when he said it.