Ranma ½: Game of Pretend

*Disclaimer: * Ranma ½ and all related titles are the sole and exclusive property of Takahashi Rumiko, Shounen Sunday, Kitty TV, and Viz Communications.

Premises: Ranma and Akane are getting fed-up with their fathers' constant insistance that they marry. So they formulate a plan: Perhaps if they act like they're finally together, then they can convince Soun and Genma to let them wait 'till they're ready to marry. But in this game of pretend, will something real emerge?



Part One: Reverse Psychology

Ranma ½: Game of Pretend


'Uncute!' Saotome Ranma yelled. He was standing a full five metres from Akane, and was leaning forward, the both of them in the middle of a blazing row.

'Pervert!' Tendo Akane screamed back. Her face was flushed, her gi crumpled. Once more, the two were having one of their famous fights. It was over something trivial, somtehing stupid, Akane wasn't sure anymore. It was just…whenever he started with the usual insults, Akane replied, more out of habit than anything else. It was the same words, the same insults; Akane thought that Ranma could at least be a bit more inventive.

'Tomboy!' Ranma went again. Mentally, he sighed. The insults simply flowed from his mouth. He didn't even have to think about them anymore. In fact, he wasn't even sure what had happened that had made him start with Akane.

'Jerk!' Akane yelled, her face scowling.

Ranma opened his mouth to reply, but he was suddenly seized from behind, and something large, warm and furry clamped over his mouth. He knew by Akane's muffled noises that someone had grabbed her too.

'Gerroff me!' he yelled, twisting to see the furry, black-and-white panda form of Saotome Genma holding him back from Akane. Tendo Soun was pulling Akane back also. Genma didn't let go. 'What's this all about, Pops?' Ranma demanded fiercely. Genma nodded at Soun, and the two fathers pulled their offspring into separate rooms.

Pouring a kettle-full of hot water upon himself, Genma re-appeared in human form, looking quite angry. 'Son,' he started, 'that is no way to treat your fiancee!'

'She ain't my fiancee!' Ranma said mulishly, glancing at his father with half-closed eyes.

'You're right, boy,' Genma said, almost threatingly, 'because Akane is going to be your wife soon!'

'W-W-Wife?' Ranma stuttered. 'You mean, we're getting married? Again? Now?'

'Yes!' Genma thundered. 'Since you two obviously can't be affianced in peace, being man and wife will knock sense into you! Once you're married,' Genma continued, his voice taking on the dreamy quality it held when ever he talked about his son's marriage with Akane, 'you're going to have to live by yourselves until you're done with your education. Then you can take over the Anything-Goes School…..'


In the room opposite of Genma and Ranma, another father was having a similar talk with his daughter.

'Akane,' Soun said seriously, 'we're getting you and Ranma married.'

'N-Now?' Akane said, unknowingly echoing her her fiance.

'Being married will teach you responsibility,' Soun snapped, 'which you two obviously don't have now! Then, when you're done with school, Ranma and you will inherit the Anything-Goes School, and the Tendo and Saotome schools will forever be joined!' There was an expression of elation on Soun's face. The opposite feeling manifested itself on Akane's features.

I…can't be married to Ranma! she thought furiously. Especially not when we're in school! She remained quiet for few moments, before smiling gently and rising.

'I must go now, Father,' she said, carefully not expressing any of her thoughts on her impending marriage with Ranma. 'I have work to do….' She exited the room calmly, but the moment she was in the corridor she ran to the dojo.

'Pops, I ain't marryin' her again!' Ranma declared. Not now, at any rate, he thought.

'Ranma…' Genma said dangerously. Ranma sprang up and aimed a kick at his father, stopping millimetres from his face. Ranma threw open the shogi and sprinted down the corridor, almost knocking down Nabiki, to emerge in the dojo.

'Geez!' Ranma muttered to himself. 'I hate this!--' he punched a stack of bricks for emphasis, splitting them neatly in two.

'Ranma?' Akane said, hearing the crack of cinder blocks as they split, and coming in.

'Pops just told me we're gonna get married again,' he said. 'And he said now.'

Akane nodded. 'Father told me the same thing also,' she said, stretching. Ranma noticed she was very limbre.

'And all because we fight sometimes,' Ranma continued, going through a kata. He did not see the logic of getting married to Akane when they couldn't be civil to each other for more than ten minutes.

'There's our fathers for you,' Akane agreed. The two practiced for a few more moments before the full impact of Ranma's words set in.

'Hey…Akane?' Ranma said uncertainly, pausing mid-kick. Akane had stopped also.

'If our fathers want us married because we're always fighting…' she said slowly.

'…and they think marriage will stop us from fighting….' Ranma continued, his brows knit in thought.

'…then if we be nice to each other, and pretend we love each other, then they'll stop pressuring us!' Akane finished triumphantly. Ranma blinked. Akane's face fell a little bit.

'It can't be that hard, can it?' Ranma rationalised. 'All we gotta do is stop fighting-- at least, whenever Pops and your dad are around.' Akane nodded.

'It'd be better than being married,' she said. 'And if we make them believe that we're in love, maybe we can make them wait longer before we're married! And who knows if we'll even be together then?' Akane continued. It was a brilliant plan, she felt. This was the way to get Soun and Genma off their backs. Reverse pyschology…Akane thought. From what Nabiki said, the technique worked quite well. And Nabiki ought to know, Akane thought, a bit wryly. She's used it often enough.

'Great!' Ranma said quickly. 'When do we start?' Kasumi's call of "Dinner!" came before Akane answered. She grinned.

'Now,' she said, her smile turning a little devilish.

Ranma walked close to Akane as they went down the corridor into the dining-room. 'Make it look good!' Akane whispered sharply to Ranma. 'You have to make them believe that we really do love each other.' All of a sudden, she giggled loudly, making Ranma jump.

'What the heck--?' Ranma said loudly, looking at Akane as if he thought she'd gone insane. She elbowed him sharply in the ribs and said, even louder than Ranma, 'Good joke, Ranma!' Ranma winced and rubbed the spot on his chest where she had hit, finally catching on: The assembled family could hear them.

'Yeah…I got a whole bunch of others,' Ranma said.

'I'd love to hear them…my Ranma,' Akane said. The latter part she had added as an after thought. It almost hurt her teeth to say them. Ranma grimaced. She said "make it good," he thought, but did she really haveta say that?

'Any time, Akane-chan,' Ranma forced out, Akane-chan sounding foreign and strange on his tongue. By this time, the two had chosen seats, sitting near each other, rather than across the table as they usually did. Soun and Genma had tears of joy running down their faces. They jumped up and started doing a strange dance, hugging each other.

'This is the happiest day of my life, Saotome-kun,' Soun declared.

'Finally, what we said got through to them, eh, Tendo-kun?' Genma said happily. Kasumi wore her usual smile, but Nabiki looked highly suspicious. Nabiki's scrutinising glances did not go unnoticed by Ranma and Akane, who attempted a loving smile at each other but instead ended up with a sickly sort of grimace.

'So when's the marriage?' Soun asked. Ranma and Akane exchanged quick glances before replying.

'About that,' Ranma started. He nudged Akane with his foot to make her continue.

'We were wondering…we realised we did love each other,' Akane said, putting all her acting skills to use to try and convince Soun and Genma. 'And we were hoping if we could wait until we're done with school before we get married.'

Genma frowned. 'Son, I don't like this,' he said to Ranma. He leant close to both of them and narrowed his eyes, carefully examining the two. Ranma tried to compose his features into that of complete innocence. 'It's too sudden….' Nabiki was nodding along with Genma; Ranma could almost see the cogs and wheels turning in her shrewd brain.

'Don't complain, friend!' Soun said loudly. 'Let's get them married now!' Nabiki opened her mouth to say something. Akane shook her head as imperceptibly as she could. Nabiki shrugged, her eyes clearly implying: Why shouldn't I tell the truth to Father and Saotome Uncle?

'Here's the deal, boy,' Genma announced, straightening and staring Ranma in the eye. 'If you really can live together for one week--in front of all of us--then we'll let you get married.' Soun opened his mouth to reply, but was at a loss for words. His mouth worked soundlessly like a guppy out of water.

'Yes Father,' Nabiki said, jumping up after Genma's challenge. 'I think it's a good plan. If they can live together for one week they can live together for ever, right?'

Soun sighed, resolved. With his eyes closed, he nodded. 'Will you be able to wait one week before your wedding?' he asked, his tone almost imploring them to say, "No, I simply can't wait that long!" Akane and Ranma nodded, trying to look as if they couldn't stand the thought of having to wait a week.

'So it's settled!' Nabiki said, clapping her hands once. She winked at Ranma. 'I'll help you move your things into Akane's room, okay?'

'Now wait a second!' Ranma yelled, jumping up. 'Whaddaya mean, move my things into Akane's room?'

'Oh, I see,' Akane said, quickly coming to Ranma's rescue. 'You don't want to move in with me, but you want me to move in with you? You don't feel like being dependent on a woman, right?' Ranma looked confused for a few moments, but cottoning on, nodded.

'Yeah…that's it…' he muttered.

'We would, but you share your room with Saotome Uncle,' Nabiki said. 'And we want to give you and Akane as much privacy as possible.' Akane blushed deeply and glanced down at the floor, while Ranma muttered imcomprehensibly under his breath. 'Besides, if we did install you and Akane in your room, Ranma, we'd have to put Saotome Uncle in Akane's room.'

'Then move in with Akane, boy!' Genma said quickly. Nabiki smiled.

'Come on, brother-in-law,' Nabiki said, beckoning to Ranma and Akane. 'Let's get you set up.'

They left Kasumi washing the dishes and Genma and Soun discussing Ranma's marriage with Akane over a game of shoji. Ranma collected his meagre belongings-- the futon, a few sets of clothing-- and went to follow Nabiki and Akane, who had already settled themselves in Akane's room.

Ranma paused for a moment at the door, the yellow-duck doorsign proclaiming "Akane" in large, red English letters. He sighed, tracing a finger over the worn wood of the duck. How would he and Akane ever get along for a week? Now they would be expected to do even more things together. And no more shouting matches…no, that was a definite no-no.

Akane sounded as if it hurt her so much, to even pretend we are in love, Ranma thought. He surprised himself when he heard the twinge of regret and hurt in his thought-voice. Sure, they didn't want to be affianced. But Ranma had felt that their initial disgust and intense disliking of each other had over time mellowed into a friendship. And now, at the point they were, with Ranma standing outside the door, he felt they had something slightly more than friendship, though not necessarily love.

Ranma resigned himeslf. Placing his free hand on the cool, smooth metal of the door-knob, Ranma twisted and entered, thinking it really couldn't be that bad.


A/N: Yes, Genma acted OOC. I had to make him act like that or else he wouldn't have made the challenge. This idea is different than the other ones, because it's not just Ranma living with Akane because he loves her from the word go. They're just trying to convince Soun and Genma. Which brings me to the point number two: Ranma and Akane don't really feel for each other yet. In many fics, I see that from the start they pretty much like each other a lot. Well, the point of this story is first to mature the two's relationship and then get them together. I have the entire story planned out, and of course Ranma and Akane will get together. So…keep reading and enjoy!

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