This is a work of fiction. In the United States, the characters and situations are property of Viz Communications. I don't know about else where. All the characters were created by Rumiko Takahashi.

All I claim is, uh, very little.

Thanks go to the folks that looked at this before.

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Chapter 1 - Akane Gets Mad

"You teamed up with Nabiki to make fun of me!"

From the door way came Nabiki. "Akane. Don't jump to conclusions. We were making fun of you, but..."

Ranma interjected, "We were definitely not working together."

"We were making fun of you on our own."

"And it was only coincidence that we happened to do it at the same time."

It was a bad day, and this was more than what Akane's temper could take. First, Nabiki ruined her new jacket, and then she found that Nabiki was stealing her clothes, and lastly at dinner, Nabiki sided with Ranma when he said she only looked good in a gi. She clenched her fists and tensed her shoulders. "Please," she said with each word getting louder as she released her anger, I don't want to talk about this...any...more!"

She slammed her fist into the balcony with the same force she normally reserved for shattering concrete bricks. The wood gave way, and with a loud "Crack!"

Akane fell towards the ground and her martial arts training took over as she was able to land on a branch of a tree that stood next to the house. As the adrenaline from the danger receded, she thought of her older sister. Nabiki wasn't a martial artist, and would be seriously hurt falling from the second floor balcony. She turned around to see Ranma land gently on the ground carrying her sister. Nabiki was acting very comfortable in Ranma's arms.

Ranma breathed a sigh of relief. "That was close."

As he lowered her, Akane heard Nabiki's say in a voice that was sweet and flirtatious, "Ranma, you saved me. Thanks!"

Akane watched Ranma let her sister on the ground. Nabiki stood next to Ranma, holding his hand. Suddenly Nabiki let go of his hand and faced Ranma, saying, "You know, this must look pretty bad. For a moment there, you neglected your fiancée."

Ranma put on a defensive face. "It couldn't be helped," he said, "you're a normal defenseless girl, totally unlike Akane." He turned and looked up at Akane. "Right, Akane. You're alright, aren'tcha?"

Akane felt the pressure cooker building up steam again. She looked down at the two of them from her branch, and saw Nabiki almost leaning into the back of her fiancée. "She's flirting with him! My sister is flirting with that, that, pervert."

Ranma's voice filtered into her brain "Right, Akane? You re alright, right?"

Akane watched Nabiki tug at his shirt and whisper something into his ear. She couldn't hear what was said, but had to be a promise of some reward for saving her life. And the only thing that Nabiki could offer Ranma was sex.

Akane fumed, "I don't know how I am any more!" Akane crouched on her branch and leapt forward to give Ranma some behavior correction via her foot. As she flew, she yelled, "Since you think she's so wonderful, why don't you save us all the trouble and become Nabiki's fiancée?"

Akane felt her foot solidly connect with Ranma's head. Then there was an unexpected secondary impact. She rolled onto her feet and saw her stupid fiancée lying on the ground, facing her sister. Both of them had large lumps on their foreheads.

"Suits them right. That pervert and that hussy must have been about to kiss." Akane stormed into the house, leaving the other two lying on the ground.

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Ranma woke, and he felt a lump on the back of head and a sting on his forehead where Akane kicked him, but other that, he was fine.

He heard soft breathing very close to his ear. Opening his eyes, he saw Nabiki next to him, lying still and with a tiny rivulet of blood dripping from a contusion on her forehead. He quickly shut down the urge to panic and started to evaluate what else might be wrong with the girl beside him. He knew she was breathing, so she was obviously still alive. She had a small cut on her forehead and what looked to be a large bruise forming there as well. Without touching her, Ranma looked for any other clue as to what may be wrong. He knew that head injuries in martial arts were often accompanied by at least a minor neck injury as well.

He heard Nabiki groan and watched her eyes open after a few tentative blinks. He watched her eyes focus on his, and when she moved her hands to her head, he knew that she was probably going to be all right.

"What happened?" Nabiki asked, as she touched her forehead.

Ranma watched her look at her bloodied fingers for a moment and then answered, "Akane kicked me, knocking me into you."

Nabiki's face winced when she tried to sit up. "Unh! That hurts," she said as she started to lie on the on the ground again.

"You stay here. I'm going to get the first aid kit and Kasumi." Ranma dashed into the house.

Ranma ran into the bathroom to get the first aid kit, and on the way back to Nabiki, he nearly ran into Kasumi. After telling her that Nabiki was laying on the ground outside with a head injury, Kasumi quickly dashed into the laundry room saying that she is getting a blanket and a pillow.

Once outside, Ranma calmed himself and kneeled next to Nabiki. He opened an antiseptic washcloth and washed his hands with it before opening a package of gauze. He gently pressed the white gauze on her head and slowly applied pressure. Nabiki winced in pain when he first touched her, but soon relaxed when Ranma stopped increasing the pressure to her wound.

"How are you feeling?"

"My head hurts and my butt is freezing."

Ranma smiled at her comment. "Here's Kasumi. She has a pillow and a blanket for you." Ranma helped Nabiki lift her head up while Kasumi slipped the pillow under her head. Ranma instructed Nabiki to hold the gauze on her forehead so he and Kasumi could wrap Nabiki in the blanket for warmth.

Ranma added another gauze to Nabiki's forehead and held it there while Kasumi started to clean her sister's face. While wiping the drying blood off Nabiki's eyebrows, Kasumi asked what happened.

"Not much to tell, Sis. Ranma and I were trying to tell Akane that Ranma and I weren't working together at the dinner table. Then she got mad again and blew apart the balcony. Ranma grabbed me and carried me to the ground, probably saving my life. We saw that Akane was safe in the tree."

Nabiki stopped talking for a moment when Ranma checked the gauze and added another one on top of the two that were already there. Even small cuts like the one she has can bleed a lot before they coagulate.

"That's when she became upset because Ranma saved me and not her. When he tried to explain to her that he knew that she wouldn't be hurt by the fall, she, for no reason at all, jumped off the branch and kicked Ranma in the head, knocking him into me."

Kasumi looked at her sister for a moment and then at Ranma.

In defense, Ranma said, "All I was did was ask was if she wasn't hurt." Ranma pulled the gauze away and saw that the bleeding had stopped. He pulled open another wipe and washed the small gash on her forehead before putting ointment and a clean gauze strip on her head.

Soun came rushing out of the house followed by a large panda. "Ranma! What did you do to my daughter?"

"I didn't do anything. It was Akane that caused this mess"

"My baby girl is up in her room crying, saying that you are now engaged to Nabiki? And that it's her fault?"

Nabiki watched Ranma look at her father. Soun Tendo was a large and imposing man that tended towards emotional outbursts when it came to his daughters. With Nabiki's head bandaged, and apparently Akane was upset in her room, it was only a matter of time before he would start crying.

It took Ranma a moment to respond, "She said I was engaged to Nabiki?"

"She said that she told you that since you cared so much for Nabiki, that you should be engaged to her instead."

"She..." Ranma started.

Nabiki interrupted Ranma. "So that's what that careless and violent idiot yelled when she jumped out of that tree."

"Nabiki!" Kasumi chided.

Nabiki faced her sister, and angrily said, "She slammed a table on Ranma's head, almost ruining dinner. Then she demolished the balcony, almost killing me. And then she recklessly attacked Ranma, giving me this massive headache. She was acting like a violent idiot!"

"So what else is new?" Ranma muttered just barely loud enough for Nabiki to hear.

Nabiki touched her bandage, and looked at the bump on Ranma's head. Visions of the Ranma being hit by Akane every time the fathers try to force them to be together. It was obvious that they liked each other, but it wasn't a healthy relationship. Sooner or later, somebody was going to be seriously hurt by her temper, and it was a matter of luck that Ranma thought of her as the balcony collapsed.

She knew she had a hand in what occurred. She manipulated Ranma to make Akane angry with him with the goal of getting the two of them to admit their feelings towards each other. She furled her forehead and felt the pain again. That plan really went awry.

Admittedly, Nabiki felt that Ranma often deserved the punishment that Akane meted out. As the months went by, however, Ranma never really responded to Akane's behavior correction efforts. What happened a few minutes ago was a completely new level of violence and anger from Akane, and it was uncalled for.

She touched her forehead again; it throbbed with each beat of her heart. More than once she heard Ranma called Akane violent and a tomboy. She even heard Kasumi make some of the same remarks. Even she thought that Akane pushed the bounds a little hard.

Now she was faced with an interesting choice. She could reject Akane's claim and let things go as they have been, or she could accept the engagement. This was a development she didn't plan for. She looked at Ranma and saw that he was waiting for her answer.

"Saotome, we need to talk. Alone." When she saw that Ranma hesitated, she added, "Now."

Ranma carried her to her bedroom, where he placed her on her own bed. She needed to think this through, and having Ranma in her room made it easier for her to stay focused through the pain in head. She squirmed on the bed, and when she was comfortable, she called out to Ranma, "We did a good job this time, didn't we?"

"What did we do? I don't know why she got so mad."

That remark is why her sister and Ranma could never have a long lasting and healthy relationship.

Nabiki wondered if she wanted to be engaged to Ranma? No. She didn't. It wasn't that she didn't like Ranma. It was more along the lines that they were two very different people. He was a socially unskilled, stubborn, immature, egocentric, super-competitive jock. She made her life reading people and taking advantage of situations.

But he did have several good attributes that made him the heart-throb of school. He was good looking, and for the most part an honest, caring, and kind young man that was also just possibly the greatest athlete of her own generation.

Nabiki loved her family dearly. The only thing that approached the level of love was perhaps the vice of greed. She admitted she was greedy. And when she was greedy, she could turn into, as Akane said once, a cold heartless bitch. She didn't think she'd ever sell out her own family, but she knew that everyone had a price. She hoped she would never find hers.

Deep down, for the sake of the family, she knew she needed to be engaged to Ranma. For whatever reason, the Tendo and Saotome agreement had to be held up. Honor was an outdated notion, but it was something that her father, Kasumi and Akane placed a lot of stock into. And to an extent, so did she, but she didn't allow it to rule her life, or so she thought.

She felt the adrenaline wear off and her head was really beginning to hurt. Akane was going to be the death of Ranma, and probably the family if she kept her role. Akane was a decent martial artist, but her skills have not improved significantly for over a year now. Even with Ranma constantly challenging her, she never really improved. She was good enough to teach young children, but Nabiki doubted that her younger sister would ever be good enough to teach advanced classes.

Teaching required patience and calmness. Those were two traits that Akane never showed an abundance of. And in order to get along with Ranma, you needed to have both.

Nabiki sighed with the conclusion that while Ranma and Akane probably do like each other an awful lot, they were actually a poor fit to be husband and wife. Her cooking skills would probably kill Ranma within a month of being married.

Nabiki felt a rage build up in her that she did not know she had. Akane was an embarrassment to the family. She allowed herself to be dragged into the petty fights between Ukyo and Shampoo. She constantly called Ranma a pervert, when it was obvious that he was almost anything but.

If Akane stayed engaged to Ranma and married him, she would certainly harm the family name.

"Akane can be so stupid and stubborn," Nabiki thought. Stubborn was an obvious trait, but stupid was one that popped in Nabiki's mind for the first time in a long time. Nabiki wondered how much longer it would be before Akane realized that Ryoga was P-Chan? Or that Ranma tries to let her know about her pet pig.

She made a note to herself to ask Ranma about his own involvement with Ryoga getting cursed to become a pig when doused with cold water.

"So she dumped Ranma on me," Nabiki thought. She started thinking about how seriously she wanted to treat the engagement. On one hand she could milk it for all the money she could get and then sell Ranma back to Akane. That didn't appeal to her very much. Just because she can make a ton of money doesn't mean that Akane should get Ranma back again. "She doesn't deserve Ranma," she mused.

The thought "and he doesn't deserve me" was whispered in the back of her mind.

This train carrying the thoughts of being engaged to Ranma wasn't easily derailed. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't bring herself to foist Ranma upon Kasumi, and worse yet, she couldn't let Akane have Ranma back for fear of indirectly hurting her father and Kasumi.

She looked over and saw him meditating on the floor of her bedroom. "I guess he's mine now."

* * * * * * * *

Everyone was seated at the table when Ranma carried Nabiki into the common room. After putting her down on the pillow next to her father, he sat down between her and his father. The two then eyed Akane, who, despite the red eyes from crying, still held the posture of anger.

"Well," Nabiki started, "I guess Ranma and I are engaged to each other." She looked around the table for reactions. The fathers had a concerned look on their faces, but kept quiet for the moment. Kasumi sat, as usual, serenely. Akane's expression didn't look like it changed, but somehow Nabiki knew she was a little madder.

Nabiki kept talking, making sure that Akane knew that she was addressing her. "I am not borrowing him. You are giving him up for me to keeps."

Nabiki kept eye contact with her sister, challenging her. She made a show of putting her arm around Ranma's and said, "You understand I am not giving him back."

The knuckles in Akane's fists cracked audibly. "You slutty thief. You can have him. And don't you ever talk to me again! As far as I am concerned, you are not my sister!" Akane turned around and faced the wall, putting Nabiki to her back.

"Oh, my!"

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Later that night, while her new fiancée was changing the bandage on her forehead, Nabiki thought about what needed to happen the next day. Akane's reaction stunned her, for it was far more vehement that she thought possible. Not only was Akane angry with Ranma, but she too was a target of her fury.

Nabiki didn't see how she could profit from her sister without making a bad situation worse. If this were a normal situation where Akane would get mad at Ranma, she could probably milk the situation by renting Ranma out to his other fiancées and perhaps to the sports clubs, eventually charging Akane money to "buy" him back.

This time was different. Her younger sister had declared her dead. Such a declaration was an extreme measure; it meant that Ranma, by being Nabiki's fiancée, would be considered unworthy and unredeemable.

Her father and older sister tried to calm Akane down, but did not have any luck. After Akane finally left for her own room, Nabiki and Kasumi suggested that they all go their own ways for the night to let emotions calm down. Ranma followed her to her own room and was now taking care of her.

After sitting silently for a few moments, Nabiki decided that she wanted to go to bed, so she sent Ranma to his room.

Nabiki lay awake in the middle of the night. Her attempts to fall asleep were rendered ineffective by a turbulent mind that was swimming with a situation that was out of control. Cussing to herself, she threw the covers off and walked into Ranma's room.

In his room she saw that he was sprawled on his back, sound asleep. She was able to quietly rouse him by gently nudging him. Motioning him to be quiet, she led him downstairs to the kitchen. The two looked at each other and started raiding the refrigerator and pantries for snacks.

At the table, Nabiki looked at Ranma and came to a decision. "Ranma," she started, "we are getting married."

Ranma looked up at her and with a mouth full of rice, said, "huh?"

"Honor dictates that a Tendo and the Saotome families be joined. Last night Akane switched the engagement to me, and I accepted it. Yet," Nabiki took a sip of warm tea and wiped her face before continuing, "I don't know exactly why I accepted it. But I do know I'm not like Akane."

"That's for sure. You don't poison or hit me, and you certainly don't get mad for no reason."

She looked at him with a stern face. "Saotome, I need to get a few things clear with you first, then maybe I'll be able to get some sleep.

"First, we are going to get married. I don't know when, but you and I need work that one out before our fathers decide to so something stupid.

"Second, tomorrow is going to be a strange day at school. I don't want you saying anything about us being engaged until I figure how to break the news.

"And third, avoid Akane tomorrow. Don't say more than two words to her. Understand? She'll still be angry, and misconstrue anything you'll say."

Ranma nodded his head in acceptance.

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