The Sacrifice

Chapter 4 - And Then It Begins

Friday started with a cover of clouds overhead. The promise of rain to come, but the thing to darken the start to day for many people in Nerima, was the morning call of the local samurai wannabe.

"Akane, you surely are a work of art! First you woo me with your incredible beauty, and then you deny our feelings by playing hard to get for over a year. Your playfulness has certainly strengthened my resolve for our love." Kuno stood in poise at the gates of Furinkin High. "Your three days of absence from my sight is really not needed to test the strength of our devotion. I assure you, there is no other whom deserves what I have to offer, and there is no other that I wish to give it to.

"Please come back to me my love. My heart is yearning for your beauty to light my way."

Nabiki watched his ranting from aside, a wicked grin plastered across her face. 'This is just the perfect opportunity to up the prices on the Akane prints. In this state he'll be likely to pay anything that I ask.' As she planed her sale strategy, her hands rubbed together and an evil cackle burst forth from her lips.

After their first class, Nabiki wandered over to Kuno's desk and sat opposite him. Her sly expression on her face immediately drew his attention.

"And what do I owe the pleasure of your company Nabiki Tendo?" he drawled.

"Oh, just something that I believe might spark your interest," she replied while tracing circles on his desk with her finger.

Kuno waited for a short moment, then "Well? What is it?" he continued in an impatient manner. He didn't appreciate distractions from his fantasies of Akane.

Nabiki was enjoying her manipulations by drawing it out. "Oh I noticed that you have been pining for my sister the past few days..." She stopped to watch his reaction.

At the mention of her sister, Kuno rushed to the edge of his seat and was giving Nabiki his every bit of attention. "Where is she? I prey thee do tell me! If she's with that demon Saotome, she needs rescuing!"

"Oh, I'm sure that she's perfectly safe where she is, but I am not quite ready to divulge her location just yet. At least, I'm not sure you could afford it this early. Maybe next week, when the price is slightly more reasonable..."

As she got up to leave, he grabbed her arm. "Just name your price. Surely there could be nothing that the Great House of Kuno could not offer that is worthy of my true love's location," he begged.

'Bingo!' Nabiki silently cheered. She put on a forlorn expression and said "I'm sorry but that is just not possible at this time..." she sighed. "But if it would calm your nerves I could supply you with a rare selection of photos of your cherished one. Photos of her that may never be repeated again." She was laughing inside, 'Preparation of her wedding day! He won't know what hit him!'

"I'll take them all!" he shouted as he took out his money and held it in Nabiki's face.

"Hmm," she sounded. Looking at the large pile of money so quickly handed out to her, she felt a bit disappointed. She wanted to toy with him to make the deal sweeter on her side. She remained silent for a moment while she thought of how to draw it out a bit longer. She raised her eyes to Kuno, "I'm afraid it's not that simple. Because these shots are so rare, I'll have to release them slow-ly so that they would be more appreciated..." she paused. 'And now for the killing blow...' "Also since these are so rare, it would be terribly unfair to sell them all to one buyer. What about all of those other fans out there?"

His eyes widened at that statement. 'Other people, with pictures of his beloved Akane, in unrepeatable scenarios!' "That's so unfair!" he sobbed.

Nabiki was surprised at his response. 'The strong and noble Kuno, breaking down!? I'll have to tread carefully.' She took a deep breath. "I'll tell you what. I'll reserve the first one for you. I should have it ready for tomorrow morning, but the rest will be released daily, and sold to the highest bidder. I must warn you though; each one will cost more than the previous one. So make sure you don't short change yourself," and with that said she took the bundle of money from his hands and left.

Back in her room that evening, Nabiki had all of the photos she took of the wedding spread out over her bed. She was sorting through them for a small series that will hide the purpose of the occasion with little doctoring, until the last one which will blow Kuno away.

Akane was dressed in her night gown. She was facing slightly to the left with a serene, happy expression on her face.

"It truly is a sight to see..."

"And as I said, it's a rare selection. I don't think that I've ever seen her like that before."

"How much? I must have it."

"Well, I did say that it was rare, so it'll have to be more than my usual fee."

"HOW MUCH!?"

"Let's see... My usual for you is five thousand... Each one is going to be worth more than the previous... Make it ten thousand, and it's yours."

"Done!" The money was under her nose before she could even blink.

'Whoah! She reflexively took the money and buried it in her pocket. 'Now, how to do this next part?' "Kuno..." he pried his eyes of his latest purchase. "I'm going to make an announcement over the P.A system here to alert everyone who may be interested in the acquisition of these prints. I suggest hiding that photo from the rest of the school. You don't want it to get wrecked."

He looked at the maniacal grin on her face. "What are you planning to do?" he asked warily.

She looked at him with a puzzled look. "You are asking me of what MY plans are? Surely you haven't forgotten who I am. When have I ever divulged my plans to anyone?" her gaze softened a bit. "I'm just warning you, that the photo you are holding may be worth more than you paid for. Just keep it safe."

Over the P.A system...

Everyone, I have an announcement to make.
Nabiki Tendo here, and I have to alert you to a sale of rare photos of my sister Akane.
These photos are of a day in her life that is most likely to never be repeated.
Since these are so unique, I will have to charge more than my standard. Also since there are only six left that I am willing to sell, I will hold an auction everyday for the next six days until they are sold.
The first was purchased be Tatewaki Kuno, for ten thousand yen. The rest will be of increasing value.
The auctions will be held in the hall at 7am.

Oh and another reason why these shots will be so much more valuable than the others is because I believe that this will be the last opportunity that I may get to sell photos of Akane openly to the public. Good day to you all, and I shall see you tomorrow morning.

Silence proceeded the announcement, where everyone looked at each other. Then as one, they all swarmed Kuno.

"Give us a look!"

"Yeah show us!"

"I'll pay 11 thousand for it!"

"I'll pay fifteen!"

"How come you get first dibs?"

"Yeah! Why didn't you tell us about it Kuno?" they all closed in.

For the first time ever, Kuno's school fellows did not look up to him. No, they were scowling at him. He slowly began to back away, clutching to his breast pocket, protecting the most sacred commodity in the school ground.

He straightened his posture and puffed out his chest. "The Noble House of Kuno has no need to tell any of it's inferiors about its own business," he said while trying to look imposing.

It didn't work. The crowd kept advancing on him.

He pulled out his bokken and waved it about menacingly. "Halt you knaves!" he commanded.

Too fuelled with the knowledge of there being only six photos left, they didn't hear a word of Kuno's rant. They all HAD to get their hands on his picture.

For an instant, Kuno had a glimpse of what he had forced onto Akane every morning for the past year; a pack of hungry wolves. Only used to fighting off one opponent at a time, he saw no hope of winning while protecting his treasure. His only chance was... He looked to the side of the room.

Glass exploded outside from the window, and with it soared the blue samurai garbed kendoist. It was immediately followed by a downpour of students. After landing badly on the field, he tore from the school grounds and fled to safety. Behind him lay the unconscious bodies his fellow students that followed him out from the third floor window.

Watching the dust clouds in the distance, Nabiki contemplated what she was unleashing. 'Another opportunity to make a killing in video and snapshots. The boys fighting over a few pictures!' She laughed to herself while wondering whether the girls, or some comedy video company would turn out the bigger profits.

The sun was peaking through a small gap in the clouds, and shone over the roofs of the houses, the morning birds were chirping, and the grass was wet from the night time rain, but that didn't stop the ruckus at the school.

All of Akane's fans, 'The Hentai Brigade', were swarming the school grounds. Everyone wanted to get one of the last pictures of the object of their fantasies. None of the shoves, fists, elbows, or foot stomps from the other boys would deter them.

"Gee, look at them!" Nabiki waved her arm, pointing out the crowd to her minions. "Pathetic aren't they girls?"

They all nodded with the standard Nabiki smirks on their faces.

"Okay, here's what I want you to do. I want full coverage of these auctions. Get a full 360 degree span of everything that goes on in there. Any fights or squabbles amongst them especially. Use the zoom and get close ups of all action. It would probably be best if you get views from above their heads, but if one of you could risk getting close shots of being amongst them, it would also prove to be affective."

"Hai Sensei!" the three girls chorused.

"Now I'll wait for about ten minutes for you to get set up and positioned, and then I'll head out there and stir them up some more before starting this killing sale! Now get going."

Ten minutes later...

"Look! There's Nabiki." The crowd roared and lurched forward, mashing those at the front into the stage. Several boys were picked up and thrown to the back so the others could get closer. It was pure pandemonium!

The squeal of the megaphone quieted them down though.

"Thankyou for coming to order. Before I start the bidding I will go over the rules.

"Rule #1. I have the final say in who made the higher bid first.

"Rule #2. The highest bidder must have the cash on hand as I will be proceeding with the exchange immediately after the auction.

"Rule #3. I will take no responsibility for any damages that may occur during and after the sale takes place. There will be no reprints, so take care of the picture if you buy it.

"And rule #4. If anyone breaks any of these rules they will be severely punished," she finished with a 'death' glare. A synchronous gulp came from the mob.

"Good. Now that that's all cleared up we can begin.

"Today's picture is of Akane lying in bed, smiling in her sleep. This was taken before she was woken for the special day.
"The bidding shall start at fifteen thousand yen.

"Yeah I hear twenty. Do I hear twenty five?"

"Thirty!"

"Thirty five!"

Then a shout carried over them which drove them to silence.

"One hundred!"

Nabiki spluttered. "Did I hear one hundred thousand Kuno?" The waving bokken replied in the affirmative.

"Any higher bids?" she asked softly into the microphone. Silence answered her. "Okay, sold to Kuno for one hundred thousand yen. Come forward Kuno and settle your account. The crowd split down the middle with mutterings and curses towards the bokken wielding idiot as he approached the front.

After a brief exchange of hands, Kuno's wallet was lightened, and he was holding his prize. With a short glimpse at his new possession, his face lighted up with glee and he let out a high pitched cheer. The crowd swore at his voicing which prompted him to turn back to his fellow students.

"You all should know by now that is no one better than those of the Great House of Kuno! So there is no one here more deserving than I," he proudly said.

"He's right. There IS no one more deserving than what he's going to get!" some one called out. Kuno's face fell as the angry mob surrounding him made their intentions clear. So he made a wise decision and ran away from the area.

"GET HIM!" and the mob swarmed after him.

The sudden lack of persons in the building was a bit eerie after the event. 'At least it will all be on tape to see it again.

"And cut!" Nabiki called to her helpers. They turned their surveillance equipment off and approached her. "Well done all of you. I think it went rather well. However I think it could have been a bit better."

"What do you mean Sensei?" one of them asked.

"Kuno set the final price! No one out bid his first offer! We could have gotten so much more out of him by the way he was acting."

"What do you suggest we do? Place some false bidders in there?"

Nabiki's face split into an evil grin. "I see you are learning well. That's exactly what we are going to do. But it will take a bit of work to pull it off. As most people here know who we are, it will seem that I am breaking my own rules if you three were calling out..."

"Damn! So how could we do it?" Nabiki thought.

A few minutes later, another smirk swept across her face. "Got it! Let's take a visit to our favourite store after school today."

The next day

"Today's picture is of my sister with stars in her eyes looking at something out of view."

"Bidding shall start at thirty thousand yen.

"Do I hear thirty five?"

"Forty."

"Forty five..."

"Eighty!" was heard from a spot within the crowd.

Nabiki pointed to a nervous looking boy who definitely did not have the money. "I hear eighty! Do I hear more?"

"One hundred!" was shouted from the other side of the crowd.

"I hear one hundred thousand." She said pointing to the area it came from.

"One twenty!"

"One forty!"

"One sixty!"

Kuno was surprised the bid had gotten that high already without him. He had to get that picture! Deciding to go significantly higher than the others to deter them from continuing, "Two hundred!" he shouted.

"Two twenty!" was called back.

"Two forty!"

Kuno topped them off with, "Two sixty!"

There was a brief pause before his competition raised their bid.

"Two sixty five."

"Two sixty eight."

Both callers seemed unsure whether they could continue much further. But to ensure that he got the picture, Kuno raised the bid again.

"Two eighty!"

Silence proceeded his call.

"Sold to Kuno, for two hundred and eighty thousand yen. Please come forward and settle your account."

As he made his way forward, the crowd remained quiet. They were in shock! First it was that the bid managed to get so high, but mostly from the fact that Nabiki was pointing to people amongst the students that would be extremely unlikely to come across that amount of money! 'What if Kuno didn't raise his bid? How could they possibly manage to settle the bill?'

They were broken from their moment of shocked silence by another one of Kuno's pompous statements. "Ha ha ha. You should know by now to respect your betters. And the Great House of Kuno never loses!"

The crowd's response was the same as the previous time.

"GET HIM!"

The grounds were vacated very quickly after Kuno's retreating figure.

Nabiki met with her minions soon after. "That was incredible! I couldn't believe that worked!" one of them said.

"This is 'The Blue Thunder' we are talking about. He is so easy to manipulate!"

"That's true Sensei."

"So did you recover the planted voice synthesises from the students?"

"Yes. And they are ready to be used again tomorrow."

"Excellent!" Nabiki cackled.

The next morning started with similar results: Kuno pushed the bid to his upper limits of his wallet, while Nabiki celebrated with champagne and planed for the next scam.

However after the gathering, school was back in for the week... Well, after all of the male students gave up on their chase of the subject of their ire. But to the pleasure of the staff, the students were quiet and subdued from their earlier loss. The teachers couldn't let such an opportunity pass without using it to their advantage, so they managed to get through the day's work relatively early. Thus the mall received the surplus of customers an hour ahead of schedule.

On the downside, the egomaniac was let loose before anyone had gathered up their nerves.

"Oh, my dear Akane. Seeing you so lively brings joy to my heart." Looking down at the image of Akane swirling a length of white lace-ribbon overhead, "Your grace alone makes my yearning swell beyond limits! Until we meet again, I must prepare for tomorrow to ensure none of the unworthy may glimpse the picture of your beauty."

He put the photo away and walked to the bank to withdraw some more money from the family account.

"WHAT DO YOU MEAN MY CARD IS CANCELLED?" Kuno yelled at the bank teller.

"Sir, please keep you voice down. The bank had received the instruction to..."

"WHO COULD POSSIBLY HAVE THE AUTHORITY TO KEEP THE GREAT HOUSE OF KUNO AWAY FROM THEIR WEALTH?" he interrupted.

"The card was cancelled by the account owner, Mr Kuno himself. Perhaps you should talk to him about it."

The front doors of the Kuno manor slammed open as the young master stormed his way in.

"FATHER," he shouted. The halls echoed as the thunderous foot falls of the young master marched angrily to his father's office. "I DEMAND AN EXPLANATION!"

Kuno Senior looked up from his account papers with a raised eyebrow.

"WHY HAVE YOU BARRED MY ACCESS TO THE FAMILY WEALTH?"

His father looked at him with a blank expression for a moment, dropped the papers he was holding in front of his son, and leant back into his chair. "Need I remind you that you do not hold exclusive rights to the family wealth?"

"WHAT?" Tatewakai flabbergasted.

"The Kuno estate is still under my name. Though I permit you access to the accounts, they are not for you to squander until it dries up."

"I..." Kuno started to say, but his father overrode him.

"I know of your infatuation, and of your dealings with the Tendos. I must say, your actions are disgracing the image of the family." He stood up and walked over to the window, his arms held behind his back. "I have let you continue with your obsession, cutting into the family's profit for long enough. You have drawn more money for your wants than the rest of us out together. Such large expenditures of money draws the unwanted attention of the law. I have no intention to allow that to happen to our high and noble family. If you wish to continue with your outrageous action, do not let it be led back to our family."

"But..."

"That is all. Now leave my office. I have more work to do."

The young Kuno, fuming, stood up and left the room muttering to himself.

Kuno slammed his bedroom door shut after he entered. "That pompous old fool. Cutting me off when on a mission of great importance!" he quickly walked over to one side of his room that he has made into a shrine dedicated to Akane Tendo. He placed the latest photo on the mantle and knelt down before it.

"Oh my goddess of beauty, I have devoted everything I have for you. But I have now come across an impediment." He hung his head.

"A test! You are testing me my love. You are testing how far my devotion goes for you. That's it!" he jumped to his feet. "That's it isn't it? I must find a way to purchase the last of your pictures to show you my worth. But how to do it?" his voice trailed off.

While pacing, his eyes glanced over the objects in his room. It was full of samurai collectables, swords, ancient armour, and expensive models of medieval swordsmen. Awareness suddenly sank in. He figured out what he must do, what his goddess was asking of him. "Tis indeed a test. A great test." But looking once again at all of the Akane pictures, imagining them all looking down at him, goading him into turning away, his determination kept him from failing. "No. No I will not fail you."

Prying his eyes away from the shrine, he called out for his servants. "Quick!" he started pulling his samurai collection down. "Gather these. I am going to town and sell these to a fine weapons collector. I am sure that this will please my love..." he trailed off. His servants just rolled their eyes as they went about their orders.

The next morning

"Did you hear?"

"Hear what?"

"Kuno has been denied access to the family's money."

"Really?! That means we have a chance of winning the next bid!" several of the gathered boys cheered, but they soon stopped and leered at each other as they realised that it was 'every man for themselves' again.

"Okay boys," Nabiki called as she tapped the podium. "Today's picture is of Akane raising her glass for a toast.

"Bidding shall start at forty five thousand yen."

"Forty seven!"

"Forty nine!"

"Fifty!"

Since they thought Kuno was without money, they could keep the bid low so 'normal' people could participate. But to their displeasure, the one voice they didn't want to hear that morning sounded over the crowd.

"One hundred!"

The crowd groaned. The rumour was just too good to be true.

"One fifty!" The biggest jump yet came from amongst the crowd.

"One seventy!"

"Two hundred!" called Kuno as he began to sweat. He got a substantial amount for his samurai collection, but once the kitty is empty, he'll have to refill it with something else. It was causing him worry of thinking about what it might be.

"Two thirty!"

"Two sixty!"

"Two eighty!" Kuno tried.

"Three hundred!"

"Three twenty!" were their replies.

"Three thirty!" Kuno called.

"Three forty!"

"Three forty five!"

"Three fifty!" Kuno squinted, waiting for another bid.

"Sold to Kuno, for three hundred and fifty thousand yen." Nabiki announced.

The crowd groaned again. 'When will we ever get a chance?' Of course not! Not while Kuno is around. At least he isn't getting it his own way since some people are giving him competition. But no one has yet to figure out who amongst them were outbidding Kuno. A few people thought they recognised the voices, but when they confronted their friends about it, the idea was tossed away with their denials.

As Kuno went forward to deal with his purchase, he was preoccupied with the dilemma he was facing. With the trend of the going prices he has been paying, he will soon be falling short. 'It will be very close for tomorrow's picture, but I will definitely need more for the last one!' he thought. He needed to find something else he could sell. But what else did he have that he could sell? All he had left was...

No! He couldn't part with that. Could he? That was his image!

While he was thinking to himself, he managed to go one morning without insulting everyone else about his grand superiority over them, so the day started without a grand chase around the neighbourhood. Although Kuno wasn't run down from the morning's antics, he passed through the day quiet and recluse, too bothered with what he may have to part with.

Upon arriving home from school, Kuno head straight to his dojo. There lay his most prised possessions: his samurai robes and steel katana. Both once belonged to one of his great ancestors who Kuno worshipped. It was a life long dream of nearing the skill in the sword with what it was once used with. The picture of himself standing high in victory with the sword in hand was his goal in life.

The rest of the evening, he spent practising his form with swift and fluid motions. Never leaving the dojo for supper, he used his time wisely for a memory to cherish... because come tomorrow, all that will be left, will be the dream of what may have been.

Wednesday

"Roll up, Roll up. The second last photo is of Akane dressed in a beautiful kimono," Nabiki called out.

"The price will start at fifty thousand yen.

"Begin!"

"Fifty two!" one of the freshmen shouted.

"Fifty four!" called another.

"Seventy!" No one missed the lack of enthusiasm in his voice. Nabiki quickly warned her minions to be careful. The last thing they needed was for Kuno to lose the bid and have her manipulations exposed when no one approaches the front.

"Ninety!" Kuno's first competition shouted.

"One hundred!" replied the other. Nabiki ground her teeth at their lack of caution after her warning, but to her relief, Kuno continued as he had previously.

"One thirty!"

"One fifty!"

"One eighty!"

"Two hundred!" Kuno couldn't do anything to stop the increasing price, but keep up. It would not do him good to give up after all he had sacrificed. Yet the dwindling balance of his wallet did not help his darkening mood.

"Two forty!"

"Two seventy!"

'Damn!' Kuno thought. The other bidders were using the same tactic that he started with; significantly increase the bid to impress on the others that he had no worry about spending lots of money and encourage them to quit while they could. Yet Kuno couldn't give up. "Three hundred!"

"Three twenty!"

"Three fifty!"

'Oh well, I can't do anything about it.' "Three seventy!"

There was a brief silence, then "Sold!"

Kuno made his way slowly forward to pay his dues, made the exchange, then left the building. His recent triumph did not have the accompanied feeling with it. The approaching loss of his heirloom sat heavily in his heart, and it gave him no mind to bother staying the day at school.

In a depressed state, he headed out of he school grounds and towards the Kuno mansion to spend his last moments with his samurai gear. With the sudden downpour of rain soaking into his clothes, made his long walk home.

The day went rather well for Nabiki; she made another large sum of money, Kuno kept out of her hair, and she started to compile a documentary on 'Crazed, rich, hormonal boys and at what lengths they would do to get what they want'. To finish the day on a high note, she was foretelling how the sale of the final photo will increase her account by a considerable amount. So happy she was that she was unconsciously skipping down the road and splashing in the puddles like a seven year old child playing in the rain, rather than the cold hearted money grubbing bitch she was famous for. Her happy mood even seemed to match Kasumi's pleasant demeanour when she arrived home, but as most good things usually come to an end, her carefree mood had to die and revert itself to unease...

It wasn't due to concern of how her sister might be fairing in the foul weather, nor was it due to the trouble Ranma may have been facing with having to deal with his curse in such rain. It was due to the fact that they decided to return home the evening before the last photo was sold!

"Oh my!" Kasumi voiced when she got a look at the bedraggled sight that the newlyweds made when they appeared at the door. Both were soaked to their skin with their clothes dripping muddy water all over the door mats. Akane was holding the larger backpack this time, clearly having some trouble with it. But the main reason she was carrying it was obvious: Ranma, in cursed form, was barely standing. She had her arm over Akane's shoulders, and was just holding her other high enough from touching the ground. As they stepped over the threshold of the doorway, they both called "We're home," then collapsed into a heap on the floor.

A few hours had elapsed before Akane and Ranma managed to warm up with a hot relaxing bath after their trek through mud and rain. But those precious few hours were all they got before the rest of the house swarmed them for details about their honeymoon/training trip.

"Did you two enjoy yourselves?"

"Yeah, what did you get 'up' to?"

"Nabiki!" Kasumi exclaimed.

"How did your training go?"

They both had to fight off their blushes at Nabiki's implication before they could start to form answers for them. Ranma, back in his normal form, looked at Akane, and then started to tell the awaiting audience about their trip, omitting all of the activities that Nabiki was referring to.

"Well, we didn't get there till late in the afternoon, b-but after the long hike, we set camp in a cave, which we were lllucky to have done due to the weather, and spent some time in a hot spring there."

He glanced over to Akane, and then continued on, "We didn't start training until the next day, when I got Akane to work on her balance, aerial attacks, and her awareness of her surroundings, while she helped me with the Nnneko-ken and my curse. We got a few good days of training in b-before the weather turned nasty. After that we were pretty much confined to the cave."

"But I kept Ranma up on familiarising himself to his cursed form," Akane continued. "And lucky he did. As the rain refused to cease for our trip back, he had to spend all of his time that way. We had a much harder time on the way back due to the mud, and Ranma had to go at a slower pace, fighting off the temptation of letting Neko out while making sure I was okay." She smiled at Ranma and gave his hand a squeeze. "But I thought he did rather well considering."

"Aren't you going to tell us anything about your interactions together," Nabiki pried.

"No way!" Akane retorted. "Get your own fantasies!"

"Oh my!"

Soun chuckled at the play between his daughters.

"Don't encourage her Pops!" Akane snapped. But when Ranma caught how her face looked when she crossed her eyebrows, he started to laugh too. "Now don't you start."

"Sorry Akane, but that just looked t-too cute," he said while pointing at her forehead.

"Humph!" she sounded while turning, but was immediately pulled back and hugged tightly to Ranma's chest.

Kasumi smiled at their interaction. "Oh well. It looks like you two are getting along just fine. But now that it's getting late, we should probably head off to bed."

"Yeah," Nabiki added. "You still have to christen your room!"

"Nabiki! Stop being so childish!" Soun reprimanded.

"Oh yeah, are you going to go straight back to school tomorrow, or have the rest of the week off?" Kasumi asked. "I don't know whether I should make sure you are both up early in the morning."

They looked at each other with questioning faces, but it was Akane who answered. "Well, usually I'd say that I would go back, but considering the weather, and the trouble we've had with it the past few days, I think we should take the rest of the week off. Hopefully it would clear up before we go back."

Nabiki sighed in relief. That means that there would be time to finish off her dealings at school before Akane can find out about it. But to be sure that they don't expect anything, she had to misdirect their opinion of her for the time being. "Oh well then. Since I am going to school," she started, trying to sound like she had a bit of jealousy in her voice, "I must go to sleep soon so I wake up in time. Try not to make too much noise. The walls are pretty thin," and she left the couple at the table with their faces flushing crimson.

"Yeah," Ranma said to his wife. "I could probably do with some sleep too. You coming Akane?" He got up from the table, offered his hand which Akane took, and helped her to her feet. "Good night Kasumi, Soun."

"Yeah, we'll see you in the morning," Akane said mid yawn, before they climbed the staircase to their new bedroom.

"Well, things are certainly getting better around here," Soun remarked after the retreating teenagers.

"Hmm. It seems so. She seems so much happier now that she has someone to share her life with. But aside from that, they are all correct."

"Huh?"

"We should all be getting some sleep."

"That's true. Goodnight Kasumi."

"Goodnight Dad."

The world blurred for a moment, then slowly came back into focus. The ground started moving oddly. 'Hang on!' Akane thought. 'I'm not on the ground. Where am I?' she opened her eyes and looked around. She was on a bed that wasn't hers, in a room that looked slightly familiar. She wasn't alone either, next to her, shaking her shoulder was Ranma. Her face cracked into a smile. "Good morning. Pleasant dreams?"

"Sure. I had all the inspiration next to me," Ranma spoke softly. "But it's now time to get up."

"Too early, and I'm so comfortable..." she groaned.

"I know this is much better to lie on than those camping mattresses," he hit the futon beneath them. "But now that we're home, you can't start to slack off from your training. You need to keep it up. So it's time to get up."

"Nooo..." she rolled over, wrapping her arm around Ranma's torso. "Bit longer."

"No can do." As he got up, Akane was dragged up with him, hanging from his shoulder.

She snapped awake as the blanket fell and the cool morning air hit her. "It's cold!" she shivered.

"That's why we're going to the dojo, to get your blood pumping. Then you won't be cold. Besides, I need to get a bit of a workout. Cramped up in that cave for a few days due to the rain didn't go too well with me." He smiled down at her, "Although we did get enough exercise then, we needed a larger space. Now that we have it, I am determined to make the most of it. And you're coming with me, dressed or not."

"Eek!" she shrieked. "Okay, okay," she said in defeat, so they both got dressed and went about their morning workout.

The alarm clock was the worst sound Nabiki had ever heard. That was the purpose! A sound so horrible that upon hearing it, the user immediately develops violent tendencies, which will not fade, until the offensive noise maker had been silenced by the most destructive means. Nabiki, who was definitely not a morning person, had to get up early to get a start on her monetary schemes. And today was definitely not a day to be late! In fact it was a day to be really early! It was the day that her biggest operation comes to completion! So to make sure that she got up in time, she fixed her alarm clock to the ceiling, where she can't smash it silent without climbing on a chair. A most ingenious system for her time demanding hobby. It always gets her up, but not normally with a good disposition.

Her covers were thrown aside, her chair brought over from the other side of the room, a stretched arm plucking the hateful object from its perch, and a face that could melt the polar ice caps looked upon it with loathing.

Not everyone thought the early hours were bad. In fact many of the locals enjoyed the tranquillity of the sun slowly peaking over the horizon. Even though filtered through clouds, the sun was usually nature's way of telling the sleeping creatures to awaken.

A small flock of birds had made their home among the trees of the local park. Most of which were stretching their limbs for their morning flight. Once both wings had the muscles loosened after a night of inactivity, and a fresh surge of blood flow through the body, the birds flapped their wings and launched into the crisp morning air.

Falling into formation, the flock were high up in the air gliding over the slight updrafts of wind. These birds experienced the ultimate high when soaring through the skies amongst their own kind. They didn't take very well to other species, which quite often flew with different styles that clashed and lost the grace with which flight should be overflowing. Therefore any other type of bird was chased away by this particular flock. It was their airspace and theirs alone!

Hark! A foreign bird approaches! By the sound of it, it was a tone deaf songbird. The flock altered its course to head off the obscene fowl.

Coming within sight, the flock leaders noticed that their target not only had a terrible voice, but it also was an eyesore. It was a round, fat creature, with short stumpy wings, and totally lacked grace of any kind. It HAD to be put down! The leader of the flock inclined its head to further minimise air resistance for a faster approach, and for a more effective attack.

The gap between them began to close. At a shorter distance, the hunters noticed that their prey had a very stupid way of flying; it held its wings up at ineffective angles for holding the air, and was swinging its head back and forth between them.

The songbird was getting louder and starting to really irritate the local gang, so they prepared to strike in three.
Two.
One.
And THOCK! The silver alarm clock smashed through them, reducing their number by half. As such it is nature to hammer down the nail that stands up the tallest.

At the Kuno mansion, Tatewakai stood in school uniform, in front of a tall mirror, eyeing his current state of dress. "Ah, what a poor sight it is. To see one of a great house reduced to appear as one of the commoners. But for such a holy purpose! Nothing is too great a task to do for one of such beauty of Akane Tendo!"

He turned from his reflection and struck a pose, the loss of his most prised heirlooms long forgotten. "Know this, when upon this morn is over, the future of my dear Akane shall be safe as the last portrait shall be saved from the hands of those unworthy peasants!" He lowered his arm to clutch at his breast, while he ranted with hearts in his eyes, "Where upon your return, you will be moved by my valour, and will shine down thy love on me with a kiss." With that thought in mind, he rushed from his room and out of the house.

Many of the residents of the higher class end of Nerima were early rising people, so it was not strange for many people to witness the flight of one Tatewakai Kuno, from the gates of his house. The one thing that was strange was the fact that as soon as the young Kuno entered the grounds of public domain, everyone froze in their spot at the sight that beheld them.

As Kuno ran, be begun to notice the strange behaviour of his neighbours, the looks of shock horror on their faces. While everyone around him were stunned at the absence of the young noble's samurai robes which he had always worn out in public, Kuno interpreted their expressions as revulsion. Revulsion at the idea that one of a great family could sell off their image, just for the sake of gaining money.

'No!' he thought. It was for a worthy cause. But the experience of walking down the path, and having several dead birds fall from the sky above him, did little to ease his mind.

Nabiki ran down the stairs, hoping to get out of the house before anyone noticed her, especially Akane! But alas, it was not to be. As she was nearing the family room, her younger sister and Ranma came in from the dojo.

"Morning Sis!" Akane greeted.

Nabiki stumbled. "W-What are you doing up so early?"

"Just finished our morning workout."

"Yeah. It's so much better having a place dry to practise when the ground is wet," added Ranma.

"Sure," Nabiki couldn't think how to reply to that. "Oh well, enjoy your day. I'll see you both later."

"Where are you going so early?" Akane asked.

"Umm," Nabiki hadn't counted on this. "Sorrycan'ttalknowgottagobye!" she rushed out the door before they could continue on with their conversation.

"What was that about?" Ranma asked.

Akane shrugged.

Nabiki arrived at school a bit flustered. She was acting nervous around her sister. And running away like that was really unlike her. It made her feel like she was losing control, and for that she would need to prove that she still had it.

She watched as a few more boys came in for the final picture. Her evil grin returned. She would grill Kuno for everything he had for the last photo, not that she wasn't already going to do that, but now she had a greater need for success! She had to get the feeling that her public face she put up was still standing strong!

A few more minutes passed as the rest of the prospective buyers arrived. She hadn't noticed Kuno yet, but he would have to be out there somewhere. There was no way that he would miss out on his last opportunity of another photo of Akane. At the thought Nabiki chuckled. 'Just wait till he finds out what the photo is of.' It would leave him no doubt that it will indeed be the last photo of Akane he would buy if he holds any honour, twisted or not.

She looked at her watch as it ticked the last seconds until seven. She lifted the megaphone to her mouth and began. "Glad you could all make it.

"The last photo," she held up a white envelope, "will stay unopened until the end of the auction. And no I will not tell you what it is of, just that one of the happiest moments and purpose of the day is captured in the image.
"Bidding shall start at fifty five thousand!"

The usual bunch of boys started off with the small offers, but it was the voice of Kuno that got everyone's attention. No one had noticed his presence.

Starting high, he thought he could bypass the initial battle, as no doubt the final price would be high, 'just hopefully not too high!' he thought. "One hundred and fifty!"

All eyes turned in his direction. There was the arrogant self-absorbed kendoist, yet he was dressed in such a way that he looked no different from the rest. Such a change did not go unnoticed! Nabiki sent the signal to her minions to play it tough, err, tough for Kuno.

"One ninety!"

"Two forty!"

"Two seventy," Kuno's voice quailed. The price had increased in larger jumps than he thought it would.

"Three hundred!

"Three thirty!"

"Three fifty!" Kuno called, thinking that it was getting bad.

"Three seventy!"

"Three ninety!"

Kuno checked his wallet, gulped, and said "Three ninety five."

"Four hundred!"

'Not too bad,' Kuno thought, but just as he was about to raise it again for his last bid...

"Four hundred and ten!" the mysterious bidder announced.

"WHAT?!" Kuno shouted. "NOOO! THIS CAN'T BE HAPPENING! THAT PHOTO IS MINE! ONLY I AM WORTHY OF IT! I CHALLENGE THEE!" he charged into the crowd, violently swinging his wooden sword, and knocking all that were in his way down. Those to the side of his warpath who saw their comrades being severely injured shouted in warning and started to flee for the exits of the building.

Kuno was left circling dangerously around the area that the offending bidder was in. He eyed them all, and found to his satisfaction that they were either nursing their wounds, or unconscious. When he believed that they were not going to hinder his quest any more, he ran to Nabiki, dropped the contents of his wallet in her hands, and then snatched the envelope holding the last photo from her grasp.

When he fled from the hall, Nabiki was left standing in horror, to look over the results of the monster she had unleashed.

Sirens waled in the distance. The sound startling the neighbourhood, as many of the people were martial artists, there was hardly any need for such emergency services. Crime was usually scared away by the expert fighters, and since they were of such skill, little to no harm was usually caused to people who could not handle it. The code of honour for martial artists prevented that.

"I wonder what's going on out there," Akane said.

Ranma looked out the door. "It doesn't look as though it will rain soon. Want to go and have a look?"

"Sure. Let's go."

They traced the noise down to the school grounds. Several ambulance vans and police cars were parked at the entrance.

"This looks more intense than anything else I've seen here," Akane remarked.

"It all seems to centre about the hall," he pointed.

Inside they found several people sporting severe injuries, bandaged up, and some on gurneys ready to be carted off to the general hospital. In the corner more people were being interviewed by the police. One of them was Nabiki. Akane and Ranma made their way over to see what it was all about.

"Can you please tell me what was going on here this morning Miss," one of the constables asked.

"Umm," Nabiki felt like she was under the spotlight for a change and she didn't like it. "I was selling the last picture of my sister's wedding to the highest bidder." Akane narrowed her eyes when overhearing this. "I guess that the price got too high for one of her more enthusiastic admirers, and then he became violent and attacked everyone."

"Do you know the name of the violent offender?"

"Yes, his name is Tatewakai Kuno."

"Kuno!" the policeman exclaimed. He whispered a few comments with his colleagues. Akane growled.

"Do you have any idea why he may behave like that? Isn't it out of character for one of a noble family to misbehave in such a way?"

Nabiki laughed. "For Kuno?! Definitely not! He has been like that for a while now. He has some backward way of thinking and made an announcement to the rest of the school that no one may date my younger sister until they beat her in a challenge of combat. Since then almost all the male division of the students have been ambushing her in the morning as she arrives. Kuno of all people normally waits until she finishes fighting the rest, hoping that she may have exhausted herself before he makes his attempt. He often rants about him being an honourable samurai but in reality he acts in a way that says quite the opposite."

"Hmm," the policeman sounded while making notes on what he heard. "You do realise that you selling pictures of a married woman to people who have done everything they could to date her is asking for trouble." He paused to let his comment sink in. Nabiki twitched under his scrutiny. "Is there anything else you can tell me?"

Nabiki, her sense of confidence fading, "Umm, her fiancé first showed up at school on Monday last week, and Kuno attacked him as soon as he found out who he was, while claiming that Akane was his."

"This doesn't sound good. Thankyou for your time. If there is anything else you can think of later, please give us a call," he said and handed her a card.

Nabiki nodded and left the policemen's influence, just to find herself facing an angry Akane. "Ahh," She choked off. "Hi Sis! How are you doing?"

"Nabiki," Akane grabbed her by the arm, and spoke in a soft controlled manner. "We are going to have a looong talk about you stepping beyond your boundaries."

The phone rang at the Kuno estate.

"Hello, House of Kuno here. May I help you?"

"YOU'VE GOT TO GET ME OUT OF HERE!"

"Master Kuno, is that you?" the servant asked.

"YES! THE LOCAL POLICEMEN HAVE FORGOTTEN THEIR PLACE AND ARRESTED ME! COME AND GET ME OUT OF HERE!"

"Yes Sir. I should be down there as soon as possible."

"We first pulled him in when he was charging down the streets waving his wooden sword around at anyone who was unfortunate to be in his path. He was shouting about fiends trying to take his Goddess away.
"But soon after that we got in a call from another disturbance at the local school. A lot of people were assaulted when they were all attending an auction for someone's wedding photos, and the price went over his limit."

"Yes. Young Master had his access to the family accounts barred a few days ago when Sir Kuno found that large sums of money were being withdrawn for the auctions in question. After that, Master took his entire samurai collection to sell for the last three pictures. I believe that he held some of those items most highly because they were from his great family's heritage."

"I see. So due to the loss of these special items of his, just to miss out of gaining the intended object, he threw a fit of violent rage."

"Umm," the servant started, not sure if he should be saying these things about his master. "Y-y-yes."

"So, the pompous Tatewakai Kuno, 'The Blue Thunder of Furinkin High' is just a rich spoiled brat."

The servant hung his head, took a deep breath, and said, "Yes, I'm afraid so. P-please don't tell anyone I said that," he stammered nervously.

The law enforcer smiled. "Don't you worry. That was just my conclusion." He looked around, "Now that you agree, would you like to have a say in his punishment?"

"W-what do you have in mind?"

The constable's grin widened.

"SIX MONTHS COMMUNITY SERVICE! HOW DARE THEY? TREATING THEIR SUPERIORS LIKE SERVANTS! THEY SHOULD BE PUNISHED FOR SUCH DISHONOUR!"

"Umm," the servant said. He stopped himself for correcting Kuno on his misguided suggestion since it was his punishment for behaving in such a way. He looked down at the manila envelope that he was given when his master was being discharged. "Here are your artefacts that were confiscated Master." It was quickly snatched away.

Kuno immediately opened it up and pulled out the small while envelope which contained his trophy for the day's actions. With great excitement he flipped the package open, and slid the picture out for a brief glance.

"Ah my dear Akane. Tis truly your finest moment. To be held in the arms of your..." he trailed off. He looked back down at the photograph and recognised it for what it really was; his worst nightmare! It was a picture of Akane, in lip lock with Ranma Saotome, while dressed in what was obviously a wedding kimono!

The world crumbled around him! He had sacrificed everything he had held dearly to him for the last images of his one true love, just to get it spat back in his face. He had nothing left but his name. And what a name it is! A laughing stock to the community after what rumours that calculative Nabiki Tendo will most likely spread.

"That Nabiki Tendo" he said to himself. She knew what was going on all the time! 'Just wait until I get my hands on her. I'll...'

'No damn it!' He couldn't do anything to harm Akane's sister. If he harmed any one of the Tendos, his Goddess would definitely stop loving him!

"ARRRGGG!" he shouted, swinging his bokken about once again, smashing everything around him. What else could he do? His beloved Akane was taken from him.

He looked back down at the picture, examining the look of ultimate bliss in her eyes. She had no worries or care for her surroundings. He blinked. In every one of the latest photos, she had that far away dreamy look in her eyes. She was being controlled, her mind ensnared by that retched Saotome!

"That's it! I have you now!"

"All I have to do is destroy that vile sorcerer! Then when you are free of his magic, you will be mine! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha! Errk!"

His laughter was cut off by the policemen who charged and apprehended him. "GET YOUR FILTHY COMMONER HANDS OFF ME!" he was shouting as he was led back to an awaiting police van. The remains of shops with smashed in windows, public benches split in half, and the rubble that used to be several parked cars, scattered over the pavement and road were left behind them.

"Ahh! Welcome back Mr Kuno. Did you miss us already?" the constable he met earlier asked him.

Kuno just grumbled in reply about noble men being man-handled by the lower peasants.

"Just can't get enough of that community service can you?" He looked over the list of damages sustained during his latest tantrum. "Well, well, well. Looks like you have been busy. Repetitive offences, huh? This is going to extend your community service time to eighteen months."

Kuno growled, and struggled in his restraints.

"On top of that," he continued, "You will have to pay for all of the damages you caused." The cop sneered at the youth, "Daddy's not going to be too happy is he?"

Kuno continued to curse under his breath.

"Oh, and just to be careful, you can spend the night in the 'tank' until you cool down. We don't want you to get in any more trouble now do we?"

"How could you Nabiki? You know that I've been having trouble with the boys at school, AND AFTER ALL THIS TIME, YOU HAVE BEEN ENCOURAGING THEM?!!"

"Whoa! Cool down Akane," Ranma tried soothing her, while holding her tight.

She nodded, and after taking a few deep breaths, continued on. "Do you have any idea of what it is like to have hundreds of boys attacking you, thinking that if they win that they can do whatever they like with you?"

"I wouldn't call it that," Nabiki replied. "It wouldn't go that far..."

Akane ignored her comment. "This is how people become victims of rape or murder. Did you ever think of that?"

Nabiki blanched.

"Hmm, I didn't think so. After all you may be right; it probably isn't like that... yet. So far I have been able to defend myself. But sooner or later it will get out of control and then where would I be? Look what happened today. Several people got severely hurt due to an out of control maniac addicted to your offerings. OFFERINGS WHICH EXPLOITED YOUR OWN SISTER!" she screamed while trying to get at Nabiki with her fists, but was held back in Ranma's strong embrace.

"Shh Akane. You don't need to hit her. You could just take some photos of her in the bathroom, or while changing, to distribute among the boys so then she would know how it feels."

Nabiki panicked! 'What could she do against that?' her mind reeled, but it soon found a bit of relief.

"No. that's just as bad as what she has been doing. Besides," Akane warned her husband, "I don't want you trying to see my sister naked!"

Ranma just gave her a cheesy grin.

"But she will pay us every single yen she received while taking advantage of me!" her eyes boring into Nabiki's. "And don't try going cheap on me! I can, and will find out how much you dished the memories of one of my happier days out for."

Nabiki could only nod in assent.

"Come on Ranma, let's go."

They were walking down the road on the way back home. Akane had her arms around Ranma and was leaning her head on his shoulder, while Ranma was tracing one of his hands through her hair. Neither was speaking since leaving the school grounds. Akane's mood was starting to get a bit sullen so Ranma tried to start up a bit of a conversation to lighten up her spirits.

"Well, that was a bit unexpected, wasn't it?"

"I can't believe she would do such a thing to me! I knew she went a bit far sometimes with her dealings at school, but this..." she shook her head. "I just hope there won't be too much trouble for us when we go back on Monday."

"Speaking of Monday," Ranma started. "That's four days away. What could we do with our time until then?"

"Well, we could go for a walk through the park," she suggested.

"Hmm," Ranma said. He looked up at the sky, "There's a bit too mmmuch moi-moisture in the air for my llliking at the moment. Maybe if it clears up tomorrow..."

"Or we could go and visit your parents."

"Yeah. I wonder how Pops is dealing with being caged up with a cranky demanding female panda. It would be fun to get a few photos while he's in there..."

"Or perhaps your mother..."

"Oh y-yeah, you're right. I should be spending more time with her now that I know where she is. We could go and visit her today."

"That would be great." Akane smiled.

At the Saotome residence

Ranma walked hand in hand with Akane down the front path to the front door.

Knock Knock

A soft "Coming" could be heard from within the house. A few soft foot steps and a soft click, the door opened. Their eyes met for a short moment and then, "Ranma!" Two strong arms reached out and ensnared Ranma in a vice like grip, and then he was dragged inside. Akane giggled at the sight of her husband struggling to break out from his bonds.

Ranma gave her the look that said 'Don't laugh, you're next!' just before Nodoka released her son then caught Akane in a bone crushing hug.

"I'm so glad you came," she said. "I didn't know when you were getting back."

Only Ranma could answer, Akane was still in the strong embrace. "We just managed to get back last night. It was quite a tr-trip back in all the rain."

"I'm sure it was. How did you manage?" she said while releasing Akane.

"B-barely! But I got a bit of practise in my c-cursed form for the last few days in the drizzle. And Akane here did a great job helping Me." he said while softly holding onto her while she got her breath back.

"Oh my, where are my manners? Please come in." Nodoka stepped to the side of her doorway and ushered them to the table. "I'll get us some tea, and then you can tell me all about it."

So they settled themselves down while Nodoka prepared the tea.

"How has the past week been for the two newlyweds?" she called from the kitchen.

"Pretty good. Ranma had me training most of the time, helping me gain back my potential. Then after that we would soak in the hot springs."

"That does sound good," she said as she brought the tea out and poured everyone a cup. "But I'm sure that wasn't all you got up to. I mean you did say that you were stuck in the cave for a few days before you returned, and you must have done other things when you weren't training. Tell me, when will you be giving me grandchildren?"

Ranma and Akane choked on their tea. "P-pardon?" Ranma couldn't believe his mother could be so forward.

"You know what I mean. I don't believe that all you did up there was train, especially on your wedding night. So as I said, when will I be getting grandchildren?"

Ranma meet Akane's eyes. His asked 'should we tell her?', while hers were saying 'I don't see how we could get out of it'. Ranma cleared his throat, "Umm, we have talked about it, and we both want to raise a family at some point. After the way we were both raised with nobody, we thought that now that we have each other, we could definitely share our love with some more."

Nodoka looked as though Christmas had come early. "Since we are still at school, I told Akane that I can help her out with her work when she needs the time off. The only thing we can think of that is holding us back is the lack of resources. I'm sure that raising children is no easy matter."

"There's the dojo..." Nodoka suggested.

"Yeah, but I've been the only student to train there in a long time," said Akane.

"Well, reopen it," Nodoka said it as though it was the most obvious thing to do. "That is what it was meant for. I'm sure that Soun will be glad to help out whenever he can. And don't forget that I'm here too. I'll help you in any way that I can to make sure you are both happy."

"Thanks Mum. It really means a lot."

"That's what I'm here for." She gathered them both in a soft hug.

They both left Nodoka's house with more things on their mind. 'Children', they both agreed that they want to have them, but were they ready? And then when to start?

In the end they agreed to wait for a while before they go any further. As for starting the dojo up again, now's a good a time as any.

"Pops!" Akane called when they got back home.

"Ah there you are. I missed you two this morning."

"There was a disturbance at the school earlier on, so we went to check it out."

"Oh my!" Kasumi exclaimed. "I hope no one got hurt."

"Well yeah, some people did..."

"Is Nabiki okay?" Soun asked quickly, jumping to his feet.

"She's fine. But you may want to have a talk to her about her activities. She's the one that started the mess in the first place."

"What do you mean?" Soun asked.

"She was selling copies of our wedding day photos for the highest bid, to the boys at school."

"That's nice that people want to share your wedding happiness," Kasumi said.

"Umm, I don't think that was the case. I believe Nabiki made sure that no one could figure out what was going on. The trouble started when the price got too high for Kuno, and he attacked everyone."

"Oh My," Kasumi exclaimed again.

"Kuno, isn't that a rich noble family?"

"Oh yes, he is a pompous and arrogant ass! He is always talking down to everyone, and for the past year he has been trying to get me to date with him."

"Well, he is definitely overstepping his ground," Soun remarked.

"Yeah, but never mind that. We can talk about it later when Nabiki comes home. What we wanted to talk to you about is reopening the dojo."

Soun was silent at those words.

"We are going to need an income to start a new family," Ranma added, but immediately covered his mouth before he blurted out any more.

"Ranma!" Akane chided him.

"F-family?!" Soun stumbled. "Oh happy day!" he celebrated while swinging Akane around.

Every revolution of Soun, Ranma saw the evil eye Akane was giving him. "Sorry," he squeeked.

"Pops, put me down!"

"Oh I'm just so happy for you!" he cheered.

"Nothing has happened yet. We were just planning on starting one in the near future. It wouldn't hurt to have a steady income beforehand."

Soun came back down from his euphoria. "Yes, I'm sorry for going overboard there. That is a good idea to start up the dojo again."

"But we will need a lot of help from you to do it. We have no real idea of how to run the classes, or manage the finances. The way Ranma has been training me is effective, but not ideal to be taught inside with large classes."

"No, you're right. I have been slack with keeping the dojo running. I'm sorry for giving it to you in such a state. But before you go too far into the class structure itself, you have to decide on how you want to teach new students. You could go for the standard method of teaching our moves like other places do, but that goes back to where our style got its techniques from; other dojos. But if you want to teach the main principle behind the 'Anything Goes' style, you may have to find an alternative method."

"How?" Akane and Ranma chorused.

"I don't know. I couldn't figure that one out either."

The young couple face faulted.

"You have to remember that when Genma and I were learning, our master had us doing the most despicable things to feed his perversions. He was an excellent teacher, but he took the name of the school through the mud. The principle was to use the best of the best styles in a way to get what was needed done. Our master had us stealing and going on, ahem 'panty raids'..."

His words stunned his audience. Akane and Ranma's eyes opened as wide as dished, while Kasumi exclaimed with another 'Oh My!'

"I am not proud of it, but the master's antics put us in situations where we had to do anything we possibly could to get out scot free. Most of the time we were caught and had to take the blame, but it got us to think of ways to deal with the utmost dire situations. Which in the end, was the master's undoing."

"Oh man!" Ranma voiced. "I guess that's why Pops tried teaching me those exotic styles. Extreme though they may be, they could be highly effective."

"I believe so. The best thing you could do that I could think of is to start with the basics. Teach them the foundations of 'Anything goes', and from there select a few who show promise to learn the more advanced techniques and methodology."

Ranma nodded. "I agree. I don't think I could take an entire dojo full of students through the same training methods that I am used to. So I guess its back to teaching like standard dojos. Perhaps with a few demonstrations to the public of how far the style could take them may get some attention. What do you think Akane?"

"It might work. Just remember that you are still teaching me, so I may not be of much help," she said, sounding a bit downcast.

"Cheer up. You are already up in the advanced class area. You definitely know enough to teach the basic classes."

"Gee, thanks for the compliment," she said sarcastically.

"You know what I mean. You can be very impressive to people who don't know much martial arts. But Soun, how good are you? I still haven't seen you in action so I'm not sure on how to judge your skill."

"Me?! I haven't practiced in a long time. I would probably be quite rusty in that department."

"Well now's a good time to brush up on your skills. It would be good to have as many practitioners of the art at any display we may put up. Ha, it wouldn't hurt to have a fighting panda there either. We could give the zoo a call, and see if they wouldn't mind us setting up for a display there."

"A... fighting... p-panda! Bwhahahaha!" Akane broke out in laughter.

"Yeah. If people see that an animal could learn our style, anyone can. It would put that pudding of a pop to good use anyway."

"A family trip to the zoo!" Kasumi said. "That sounds like a great idea!"

"I'll give them a buzz now, while Soun can warm up for our sparring session in the dojo."

"A Spar?"

"Sure. We'll need all our practitioners up to scratch for the day. Besides, I'm quite interested in how good you really are. And it would do you good to get you out of your hole you settled yourself in over the years."

Nabiki's day had been a whirlwind. The day starting off nice and strong, just to backfire with Kuno's actions. And to top it off, Akane found out about her dealings with the boys at school and demanded Nabiki to pay her all of the profits. She had lost the profits from the photos, but upon finding how Kuno finished the day, she made a killing in selling the info to everyone. Even the staff were craving the juice about the fool.

Upon arriving home, she called out in greeting, but found nobody inside. While looking around for them, she heard the sound of fighting in the dojo, so she walked on over to see what was going on. Upon entering she found Akane and Kasumi sitting at the side, watching the action on the dojo floor. But the sight that beheld her made her jaw drop: her father going head to head with Ranma in an extremely difficult and artful sparring match.

There were midair punches and kicks, while performing extremely fast dodges. They were rebounding off the walls and ceiling for faster and more powerful approaches of tagging their opponent. The changing of their attack pattern in midair was a bit disconcerting to one's view of the laws of physics, but that wasn't the main source of Nabiki's surprise. No, it was the fact that her father was capable of doing such things. He hadn't shown a bit of such training for such a long time that the girls couldn't remember any of it.

The match came to a finish when Soun's trajectory was redirected by Ranma, which left him to crash onto the floor with a solid 'thwack'.

"Daddy!" Kasumi ran forward. Soun was slowly getting up when she reached him to see how he was.

"I'm okay, don't worry." Once he was back on his feet, he looked over the martial arts prodigy that was his son-in-law. Holding his shaking hand out, he said "Good match."

Ranma shook hands with Soun, and replied "Yeah, you weren't bad yourself. For being rusty though, you did pretty well."

"What's going on?" Nabiki asked.

"We're reopening the dojo, and I wanted to see how good your old man was," Ranma answered. "We've got a lot of work ahead of us. We need to hand out some flyers so people know about it, and we're going to do some public demonstrations."

"Yeah, next weekend Ranma organised a demonstration at the zoo," Akane sniggered. "It's going to include a fighting panda!" She fell over again in tears of laughter.

"A fighting panda hey," Nabiki mused. "That would get a lot of attention."

"That's the whole point. The zookeeper was climbing up the walls with glee when I asked him about it. It will get him a large mass of people there too. I originally sent Pops there for punishment and to get him out of the way, but it seems to have become even more beneficial to both our and the zoo's purposes."

"Beneficial indeed! Do you know how much money we can make out of this?"

"We sure do, but that's your department. Since you've already accumulated us a large amount of money this morning for the dojo, if you want, you can be in charge of the finances for a percentage."

"I can do that. When do we begin?"

"Two week from now. Hopefully our demonstration will gain enough attention for a whole class."

Akane wrapped her arms around her husband. "It shouldn't be a problem. You will definitely bring them in," she said before kissing him.

"Ahem," Nabiki cleared her throat. "Before you two get lost in each other, I have some more news about what happened today."

"Speaking of which, Nabiki I am ashamed of you. Lots of people got hurt because of what you did."

"I didn't hurt those people! Kuno did..."

"You drove him to act like that. It was your fault," Kasumi admonished.

Nabiki brushed her words away. "But wait till you hear what else he did. He was arrested for making a menace of himself in the streets in a similar way to that he did at school. When the incidence at school was added to the list, he was given six months community service."

"Bwhahahaha!" Akane started laughing again. "Kuno doing Community service! I've got to see that!"

"But wait, there's more," Nabiki smirked. "When he got out, he finally got around to seeing what the last photo was of."

"What was it of?" Akane growled.

"Your first post-marital kiss. When he saw it he had another tantrum, smashed up quite a bit of public property, and got taken back to the police station. There, his community service was extended to two years, and he would have to get a job to pay for the damages since his father had cut him off from the family funds for spending too much on your photos."

She didn't get the reaction that she was expecting. Kasumi felt sorry for the 'poor boy' for being cut off, Soun was upset due to the so-called noble destroying the public, and Akane was angry again for the selling off of her wedding photos. "Just how much did you make from selling out your sister's wedding huh?"

"One million, eight hundred and forty thousand yen."

"WHAT!" everyone shouted.

"Yeah I know. You're quite popular sis."

Akane was quiet for a moment, and then said "You sold my photos to Kuno for almost two million!"

"Yeah," Nabiki cheerfully said.

"And he was cut form the family."

She nodded.

"And on top of that, he has community services and has to go to work to pay the damages off..."

"Yes to all. Oh yeah, and on top of that he spent the night in a cell to cool off."

"Thank you very much Nabs! Do you know that he will now be coming after me with greater determination?"

"What do you mean?"

"He had a big enough infatuation with me before. Now he will be completely obsessed. To top that off, he is also violent to everyone, and in trouble with the police."

Nabiki was taken aback.

"He has lost everything while chasing after me, and received nothing in return." She paused for Nabiki to take it in.

"You should now be shouting, 'IT'S ALIVE, ALIVE!' like Victor Frankenstein, because you've created a monster that is a complete sore loser, and will now be worse than ever before!"

After telling her sister off, Akane felt emotionally drained. "Come on Ranma. Lets go and have our bath!" and she dragged him out of the dojo.

Nabiki blinked. "I didn't think that she would react so badly."

"But she was right Nabiki. You should think of how your actions will affect everyone involved." While Kasumi's words were softly spoken, her scolding made Nabiki feel like a small child again.

They were both sitting in the furo, Ranma's arms holding onto Akane reassuringly.

"How could she do that?"

"Don't worry about it."

"But what if something bad happens to us because of him?"

"Nothing will happen. We were both brought up to be strong and be able to look out for ourselves. Our style of martial arts was founded for that purpose. We will get through this, alright."

Akane nodded and sunk her face into his shoulder. Ranma kissed her forehead. "Come on, let's get out of here and have an early night."

"Okay."

"And maybe we could go for that walk in the park tomorrow."

"Mmm," Akane smiled.

The week ended relatively quietly. The confrontations with Kuno that Akane was worried about never went to pass. On top of that, the weather began to clear up, so overall, Akane and Ranma had a carefree few days off before they had to face the horror of returning to school.

"Wake up. Come on, wake up."

"Nnnnn," Akane moaned.

"Hey, I dislike school even more than you do. Yet here I am trying to get you set an example..."

"Fine, fine. Just don't get too carried away while lecturing me. That's one of the things I hate about school; the teacher thinking they know what's best for me."

"Damn! I was going to say that getting a good workout beforehand will help get your mind running."

"That's just typical of you. Trying to find more reasons to get up at absurd hours of the morning, and to exhaust myself out before the day begins. Mmnnn..." Ranma cut her off with a morning kiss.

"You can't be a master of 'Anything Goes' with that philosophy. Come on and get up. We still have to make a martial artist of you yet."

"Hey!" Ranma jumped away from Akane's swing. "Get back here!"

"Nnnnrr!," he poked his tongue out at her. "You've gotta catch me first!" he then bolted out of the room.

Hot on his heels, Akane chased Ranma through the house, and out to the dojo, where she had to grind her feet into the floor to stop herself from barrelling into him. Ranma had come to a dead stop and turned himself around in his usual 'non' stance, ready for their early morning spar.

"Good for you to make it down here. I was going to go for a jog first, but seeing that you didn't bother putting your clothes on, I decided to wait."

She looked down at herself, noticed that she had run through the house, and through the backyard in only her panties. "Eek!" she shrieked, and then dashed to the changing room for her spare gi. The sound of Ranma's laughter echoing behind her, "That wasn't funny! What if somebody saw me?"

"I did. I thought you looked rather good."

"Besides you, you idiot!"

"Well if you got up without complaining, you would have gotten dressed first. I thought that you would have gotten used to getting up early by now. A bit flat on the learning curve there. Oh well, I guess I can't have everything," he spoke in a mocking tone.

"Learning curve?! I'll get you for that!" and so while complaining about the early rise, she managed to get in one of her best workouts without realising.

That is until it was time to get ready for school. "Come on Akane! You need a bath, you stink!"

"Nnnnn," she moaned. "If I could only lift my arm, I'd clobber you for saying that."

Ranma raised his arms in exasperation. "What did I ever do to deserve such a lazy wife?" he said, still mocking. "I can't take you anywhere smelling like that. 'Sigh'. I guess I'll have to do all the work!" he tucked her under one arm and marched her up to the bathroom.

To further her embarrassment, she received a few sideways looks of amusement from the rest of her family who were beginning to rise.

A thorough scrub and a few splashes later, they were back at the table for breakfast.

"Gee Akane, still so perky in the morning?" Nabiki asked.

Akane could only flop her head over enough to be able to scowl back at her.

"She right 'Kane. I mean look at this," he lifted one of her arms, then let it fall limply back to its resting point. He looked back towards Nabiki, "How ever did you manage to get her ready before I came?"

Akane growled a bit more at their mocking scrutiny but stopped at her sister's response. "No, we usually had to stay clear of her fiery morning attitude. I guess all the after hour activities you two get up to..." she left it hanging.

"I hope you've cleared up all the trouble at school you caused. I don't think that Akane is up to handling all the trouble so soon after our wedding. Then again, she can't even handle standing up by herself at the moment."

"It must have been good," Nabiki said in an erotic tone.

"I could handle it if only my baka husband here would finish off with my chi treatment."

"Aww. But I'm having so much fun." he said while nuzzling into her neck. "Just think, I could carry you into school, slung over my shoulder like I had just come home from my hunt."

"DON'T YOU DARE JOKE ABOUT THAT! I'm worried enough about Kuno's antics already without you setting them a bad example."

"No, you're right. I'm sorry. Here," and he worked his magic over her body, replenishing her chi flows with a fresh surge of energy. "That should just about do it."

"About time too," Akane said, working the stiffness out of her arms.

"Quit your complaining. As soon as you finish your breakfast, the sooner we can deal with the problems at school."

The scene at the front gates of the school looked promising. Apparently the hentai squad had not received the news of Akane's return, and Kuno was occupied with his newly found obligations.

"Looks good so far."

"Yeah, it does. So what window was it? Oh yeah, that one on the end. Come on." He grabbed Akane under the arms, and then leapt three floors up to their classroom window. To say their fellow students already in the room were surprised would be an understatement! But Ranma, not really caring what they thought, just walked across the room to place Akane and himself into their seats.

Soon the teacher arrived and the class was smothered in the thick fog of boredom. Only Ranma was strong enough to counter the rolling waves, and annoyingly correct the teachers.

To the relief of all, the lunch bell sounded. Ranma and Akane made their way down to the cafeteria, and that's where all the fun began!

"Oh my god!"

"Would you look at that."

"Hey, there's a new person serving the food?"

"Who is that?"

"I don't know, but he looks familiar."

"Hey, what? I don't believe it! No it couldn't be..."

"Who?"

"Tatewakai Kuno!"

"No Way!"

The room erupted into laughter. The so called noble warrior, dressed in an apron, serving students at the buffet. Such a plummet in social standing it was, you had to feel sorry for him. But then again he had this coming to him.

Kuno just growled at the people mocking him. The area surrounding him tended to darken a bit and made everyone skirt around him to avoid his selection of food. 'They think they are just too good for me! But I will show them...'

At that moment, Akane walked in the room. Kuno's heart soared, and the reason for his existence was made clear. Akane, the one who had captured his heart! But for so long what he thought was her being too overwhelmed by his might to return his love, turned out to be controlled through black magic by that sorcerer Saotome!

'And there he is,' Kuno mused. 'Enriching himself at the cost of my dear Akane's innocence! Deeds of such evil should soon be stopped, and her divine grace protected from his influence!'

Kuno watched on in loathing at Ranma's presence, his ire boiling over when he saw the fiend contaminating her purity with his demon lips! "NO WAY! I WILL NOT ALLOW IT! THERE IS NO WAY THAT I SHALL LET YOU HOLD AKANE BOUND TO YOUR EVIL WAYS!" he shouted as he vaulted over the counter.

"There have been no problems for us so far. Quit worrying yourself. Nothing bad will happen," Ranma reassured her.

"I know I'm just being paranoid, but I have never gone through a single day here without that oaf causing some trouble for me," Akane spoke in a quiet manner.

"There's nothing wrong with being cautious, but you shouldn't let it spoil the day." He cupped her cheek in one hand and kissed her. "We'll be fine!"

But the moment had to be interrupted, so say the laws of nature when someone says that something will be okay. "NO WAY! I WILL NOT ALLOW IT! THERE IS NO WAY THAT I SHALL LET YOU HOLD AKANE BOUND TO YOUR EVIL NEEDS!" echoed over the heads of the students.

"I guess I spoke too soon," Ranma shrugged.

Kuno's apron flapped dangerously on his dart-like approach across the room. Be was brandishing his serving tongs in place of his usual weapon of choice. "I have at thee..." his war cry cut off with a solid punch to the face from Ranma.

Kuno Senior found himself called down to his son's school due to a small 'situation' concerning his son. 'He better not have made a fool of our family again!' he thought as he stormed his way to the principal's office.

Inside he found Tatewakai with an ice-pack on his head, and a couple of other students cuddling together. "What happened now?" he demanded, tired of his son's behaviour lately.

Ranma looked him square in the eye, clearly not intimidated by his presence. "Your son has been hounding Akane for the past year, and recently has been attacking everyone since he found out about our wedding. Just at lunch he decided to have another 'episode' and tried to get at me."

"You two are married?" he asked, not really concerned about it. But the dishonour of approaching a married woman! He was about to reprimand his son about it, but the glint of light from the couple's wedding bands caught his eye. Taking a closer look, his face turned white when he recognised what they represented.

"My sincere apologies!" he bowed his head. Tatewakai was astounded at his father's courtesy toward Saotome. "I am sure my son had no idea about the consequences of his actions. He has been running wild for too long and has been disgracing our family name all too often." Speaking directly to Tatewakai, he said "I have warned you previously that any further misconduct will not be tolerated. You have just been chasing a married woman, and have just assaulted a member of a family which is highly revered by the noble houses!

"You have brought far too much shame to the Kuno family. I cast you out Tatewakai! You are no longer my son!" A few gasps were heard at the announcement. "I give you until the end of the week to pack your belongings, and to leave my house!" After he had finished his proclamation, he stormed out of the room.

The room was still, it had an ominous feel to it. "I think we should go back to class now," Akane whispered. Ranma nodded, and they made their way out of the room.

The word of the late Kuno's demise reached all corners of the school at a record breaking speed. No one dared to say a word in fear that Tatewakai may take offence and have another episode at their expense.

At the end of the day, the students progressed out of the gates of Furinkin High with a solemn 'funeral' march. Only after they were more than a block away from the place where the dishonour of a powerful family took place, did people start to talk.

"Well that was certainly an interesting day!" Ranma exclaimed. "I wonder what else could possibly happen..."

"RANMA! PREPARE TO DIE!"

"Damn, spoke too soon," he said as chunks of smashed concrete flew everywhere.

Author's notes

Took a while for this to get out. I'm not a great fan of Nabiki, so I had trouble devising her part in this chapter.

Gave Kuno one though. He pissed me off in the comic, so I got him back. I decided to change the idea of principal Kuno, as thought it was just too silly, and to make excuses for more episodes. So, in my world the Kuno family are not absolute lunatics, just spoiled brats that need taking down a few pegs!

Ryoga is up next. I am planning on introducing the main characters in a similar order as the manga. But no, don't run away yet... I promise this is going somewhere different!