Okay, okay. I got bored, all right? I was going to take a break from writing fanfics, and then there was a big party in my friend's room and everyone else was playing video games and all I had was a computer with NO GAMES and NO INTERNET. . . which means it is a typewriter with some nice extras.

In any case, for this to truly make sense I suppose you'd have to read A Matter of Choice. All my fics run in the same storyline, and this one comes right after that one. Well, a year after. This occurs after the end of the series, and doesn't take any of the OAV's or movies into account. Mostly because I haven't seen them. They're just about to graduate from high school. Everything else SHOULD be in there . . . hope you like it.

Chapter 1

Akane arched her back, moaning a little. She could feel the steady rise and fall of Ranma's chest on her stomach. She opened her eyes and looked down at him. His head was resting just above her breasts, on the flat plane of her sternum, tucked under her chin. She smiled and ran a hand through his thick black hair, falling loose in waves over her own shoulder.

Her muscles were still sore from the revels of the night before. Ranma, in order to celebrate the end of their first year as a married couple, had taken her out dancing. She couldn't pretend to be great at that sort of thing, but Ranma. . . being Ranma. . . was of course a good dancer. Not great, but entirely passable. The trick was getting him to actually dance, he tended to hide at their small table on the edge of the dance floor. She giggled as she remembered the startled faces of the other dancers as she and Ranma swept past them all, the very image of seriousness at first and then reeling around, drunk on laughter. She had no idea when that actual change occurred, it was at some point after the first glass of rice wine and before the fourth. After having made a general mess of the dance floor and the surrounding tables, they'd stumbled home to the dojo. And that was where the real exertion had begun.

In past year, Ranma had trained her to become better than Ukyo. Better than Kuno. In fact, she was now almost as good as him. It had been a learning process for both of them, he was learning how to teach and she was learning how to control her anger enough to make it a weapon. He'd insisted on the training, not that she'd objected, because, as he said, he couldn't be around her all the time to protect her. He seemed desperately afraid of losing her.

Last night, however, had not been purely training. In fact, for the last three months they hadn't been able to manage a single session that remained purely training.

It began that way. For the first two hours all they'd done was throw blows at each other. But then, with a low growl, he'd picked her up in his arms and kissed her, hard. When their training had first begun turning into kisses, she'd fought him, or he'd fought her, depending on who began the more serious pursuits. Now, however, she'd simply kissed him back, her hands pulling his body towards her. Somehow, she couldn't quite remember how, they'd ended up against the wall of the dojo, with his knee between her thighs and her hands untying his black ponytail. And at that point, of course, the panda decided to see who was making so much noise in the dojo.

They'd disentangled themselves, of course, and Ranma had chased his transmorgified father away. With smiles of regret, they'd simply taken their baths and gone to bed, giving up training as a lost cause and. . . other things as far more lost than that. Once one person interupted, there were always bound to be more. That, at least, hadn't changed in the last year. What had changed was that every night, Ranma lay down his head to sleep in Akane's bed. And everyone assumed they were doing things in said bed that would, eventually, lead to an heir to the Saotome-Tendo school.

Of course, everyone was wrong. Despite how increasingly appealing that idea was, Akane and Ranma had never. . . well, not that they hadn't been close . . . but despite Happosai and Nodoka's advice on how to acomplish the deed, they'd never done more than kiss. Not much more, anyway. If any of the fiance's knew the marriage hadn't been consummated, the trouble would have started all over again, so they just let everyone assume. Of course, if everyone knew the marriage had been a sham to start with, they would have more problems than that.

A year ago, Ranma and Akane had come up with the idea of pretending to elope to take some of the pressure off. Things had appeared to backfire for a bit, when their parents had made them sleep in the same room, when Ukyou had stopped talking to them, when they'd sent them on that honeymoon. . . but some good had come of the idea. Shampoo, Mousse and Cologne went back to China, the Kunos moved on to other pursuits, and Ryouga left town. Of course, some of those "good effects" had some bad consequences. When Mousse and Shampoo went back to China, the old ghoul forced them to get married. There were, after all, younger sisters who couldn't get married until Shampoo had, and once Ranma was spoken for. . . Of course, in order to ensure he was the man Shampoo had to marry, Mousse had to take some desperate actions. He'd had to fight the other suitor. . . over the flooded pools of Jusenkyo. He'd won, but he'd fallen in, and become a monster. In an effort to appease his new, demonically cold wife, he'd returned to Japan to defeat Ranma. In his new form, he'd suceeded. And Ranma, for the last year, had remained unable to forgive himself for losing.

Of course, a year sleeping in Akane's bed, akward as it was at first, had done wonders for his outlook on life, martial arts, and the relative importance of things. The "training" hadn't hurt much either.

"Urhhhhhhm," Ranma moaned, moving his head a little. There was a time when Akane would have killed him for sleeping draped across her. Of course, the first morning they'd woken up with her sprawled across him had pretty much killed all her grounds for that argument. Still. . . she blushed as his head moved lower. Resting his head on her sternum was one thing, but. . . She shook him gently.

"Ranma, wake up," she murmered. He groaned and rolled over. . . right on to the floor. Once his head hit the hard surface, he jolted awake. With a yelp, he jumped to his feet and looked around. When the only person in view was Akane, he turned his glare on her.

"What was that for?" he asked, rubbing the back of his head. Akane rolled her eyes.

"It's not MY fault that you rolled out of bed. Go get dressed already. It's almost time for school!" she huffed, sitting up and swinging her legs off the bed. Ranma grumbled something and went off to take a bath. Akane watched him with a smile. It was good to know that even after a year of acting like a couple, some things never changed. She stood and went to join Ranma in the baths.

Before Cologne left, she gave Ranma a final gift. In an effort to preserve as much of Shampoo's honor as possible, she tried to kill the girl Ranma. Naturally, the only way to do that was to douse him in water of the Spring of Drowned Man. . . of which she happened to have a jar. She'd planned on using it to blackmail him into marrying Shampoo but then when word came that Akane and Ranma had eloped. . . well. Unfortunately, the water hadn't quite had the desired effect. It reversed the curse so that "he" turned into a "she" with hot water instead of cold water. Akane considered hopping in the tub with Ranma. . . but decided against it. Even though they'd both be girls, he'd still be getting a look at her real body. She sniffed at her armpits speculatively, then sighed and walked into the bathroom anyway. She hadn't taken the time for a bath the night before, and she regretted it.

Ranma was already a girl in the steaming baths when Akane opened the door. She looked up, her red hair hanging in damp streamers in her face, and blinked in confusion at Akane. Akane blushed and, ducking her head, went straight for the shower. She got a rag wet and ran it up and down her arms, up her legs in the long nightgown, and then paused. She could either get naked, or begin to scrabble in an undignified manner under her nightgown.

"Jeez, Akane, why don't you just get in the tub? It ain't like I've never seen you," Ranma muttered. Akane blushed, and turned to glare at Ranma. The redhead was watching her from the tub, covered in suds.

"Some of us aren't so free with their bodies," Akane said loftily, holding the rag loosely in her hand. She looked at Ranma in the tub, somewhat confused. She certainly didn't want to be naked. . . or undignified. . . or stinky. What a conundrum.

With a sigh, Ranma ducked her head under the water and then stood, free of suds. She stepped out of the tub and walked over to the shower. Akane stepped back, blushing, as Ranma picked up the moving showerhead and sprayed herself with cold water.

He smiled at Akane and then, without bothering to put on a towel, walked out of the bathroom. He paused at the door and turned to look at Akane, who was blushing furiously.

"You'd be better off if you were more free with your body," he observed. With a nonchalant wave of his hand, he dismissed her and the bathroom. "All yours," he said. Akane watched him close the door, fighting to keep her eyes on his shoulders. She could still remember when he hadn't been all that free with himself, either. She supposed all that time spent taking blatant advantage of his girl half made him numb to modesty. Shaking her head, she stripped and hopped into the tub.

Bathed, dressed, and STILL sore in her hip muscles from all the side- kicks she threw yesterday, Akane ran to school with Ranma. He'd taken to running on the sidewalk beside her, instead of on the fencerail.

"We're gonna be late because you just had to take a separate bath!" Ranma growled. Akane glared at him.

"Oh, like it matters. No one's doing anything but study for entrance exams," she replied. It was true enough. They were in the last week of high school, and their teachers had forgone the formality of finals in order to give the seniors time to study for college enrtance exams. Of course, for those among their classmates who weren't going to college, that just meant a lot of free time.

School was boring. Worse than boring, it was a waste of time. Ranma stared out of the windows of his classroom, ignoring the silent scratchings of pencils behind him. Hinako-sensei had announced a study hall, and for once the students of Furinkan High were actually studying when they were supposed to. He was bored out of his mind. He half wished he had entrance exams to study for, just so he'd have something to do.

A piece of paper slid in front of his eyes, attatched to a pair of pale, slender fingers. He looked down a slender arm to see Akane smiling at him. He looked back to the piece of paper.

::Permission to go to the library?" he thought. He looked back at Akane, who winked at him. His face broke out into a grin. With a smile and a wave at Hinako-sensei, they strode out of the library. In the way of teenagers, they avoided the library completely and went straight to the roof.

The air was warm, with a strong wind blowing across the top of the building. Akane skipped out onto the roof, putting the embarassments of the morning far from her mind. He watched her with a small smile on his face.

"Aren't you going to thank me for saving you from study hall?" Akane said lightly. She leaned against the rail, the wind ruffling her hair and the hem of her skirt.

"Thanks," he said unceremoniously. "You caught me just as I was wishing I actually had studying to do."

"You're kidding!" she said, a real expression of shock crossing her face. "You? Study?"

"Hey, it has been known to happen," he cocked an eyebrow at her. "Anyway, don't you think about it sometimes? What it would be like to actually go to college?"

"Ah..." Akane stammered, and looked away. The thought had crossed her mind. "I don't really see much point. I mean, it isn't as though I'd get a great job if I went to college, I'd probably end up as some underpaid office lady. Besides, I like martial arts. I want to take over the dojo, make it something respectable," she said quietly. She glanced up at Ranma, who was eyeing her thoughtfully. When she turned her gaze to him, he started and looked away himself.

"I. . . well, I was just sort of thinking about it. I mean, the whole reason we wanted to fake the marriage was so they'd give us room to make some choices, right? And we're still gonna end up taking over the dojo and getting married. . ." his voice trailed off.

"Hey, you're the one who said you wanted to make the marriage a reality eventually. Remember? When our dads sent us on that silly honeymoon?" she smiled, nudging him. Instead of the smile she'd expected, he looked right through her with a pained expression on her face. ::He doesn't. . . want to take it back? Tell them it was all a sham and go our separate ways?:: Her blood seemed to flow out of her body, leaving her cold and tingling. He couldn't, could he?

"Yeah, I remember. That was right after Mousse beat me, wasn't it?" he muttered. Akane blinked at him. "It's just that. . . well, I was all set to be a martial artist for the rest of my life, do nothin' but train and all that, but then that little pissant beat me. . ." he clenched his fists. She reached out a hand to lay it on his shoulder, but dropped it before it reached him.

"Well, in his current monstrous form, it's no wonder. He took you by surprise, is all. You were expecting a duck, and you got. . . that THING," she shuddered at the thought of Mousse's new cursed form. "So you lost one fight. You beat him a thousand times, one fight isn't such a big deal. And anyway, you hate school," she pointed out. Ranma shrugged and leaned against the pole next to her. His expression worried Akane, he seemed so serious. . . Ranma was never serious for long.

"You know," she said, clearing her throat loudly. "There's no rule that says we can't go to China and settle this." Ranma's head snapped up and he stared at her. "I mean, we'd have to get summer jobs and save up over the summer, but we could do it. It's not like we have anything better to do," she said, smiling encouragingly. Ranma stared at her for a moment, then grabbed her by the shoulders, so fast he made her jump.

"You mean it? I mean, I'd be gone for a while, but I'd be back real soon and you're far enough in your training that you'll be fine for a few months. You're the best, Akane!" he grinned, pulling her into a hug. She pushed him off, roughly.

"Did I say YOU should go to China? No!" she yelled. After all those months talking about training her so he wouldn't have to protect her so much, and at the first suggestion he runs off to find Mousse. . .Ranma released her in confusion.

"Then what did you mean?"

"I said WE should go to China! The both of us! Or are you so eager to get rid of me?" she snarled. He blinked at her.

"No. . .I. . . that isn't what I meant. I meant. . . how can we go to China together? I mean, it's not like you haven't come a long way in training, and you're still strong as an ox, but you're still a girl and camping out is rough. . ." he trailed off when he realized he was only making her madder. He put a hand on each of her shaking shoulders, trying to stave off destruction.

"Akane. . ."

"You IDIOT! We are BOTH going to China and you are going to beat Mousse so you can STOP MOPING ABOUT IT!" she yelled. He took a deep breath and released her shoulders, deciding it was best to keep some distance.

"Okay, okay. You win. We'll both go to China. Hey, everyone thinks we're married anyway, right? Might as well."

Let me know what you think. Like I said, it is a continuation of another story which I felt simply HAD to be told as another story entirely. . . eh. Constructive criticism is always welcome.