Concerto

A Ranma ½ fanfic in three movements.

The characters aren't mine, and neither is the music.

Allegro maestoso

I'd just put a disk in my CD player when I heard a frantic knocking at my door. It
figures, really. I don't have many chances to relax in a day, and now it looked like I
wasn't going to have any at all. I turned in the chair, composed my face and answered:
"Alright, who is it." I could barely hear Ranma's whispered answer.

"It's me. Can I come in?" he asked.

"Do you have any money?"

"Yes… yes! Just let me in!" He sounded a bit frantic. I wanted some time alone, but
letting such a wonderful bargaining position slip away seemed like such a waste.

"Fine," I said, and he was inside almost before I'd finished saying it. A stampede in the
hallway a few seconds after he got in let me know he'd been just in time.
Poor Ranma-kun looked a little worse for wear really. I hadn't been keeping track of
who was after him this afternoon, but they must have been pretty serious about it.

"Let me hide in here for a while, Nabiki," he asked. "You won't even know I'm here,
promise!"

"How much do you have?" I asked, wanting to make sure it was worth my while.

"2,000," he said. It looked like he'd made a bit doing something today.

"Ok," I said, "you can stay until the end of the CD, and not a sound out of you or you're
gone."

"You're a lifesaver," he gushed, with a bit of a smile. He collapsed down next to the wall
and looked out the window.

Poor sap, he still wasn't any good at negotiating. I was just about to open the door and
offer to sell him out to whoever was chasing him when I thought of people chasing him
in my room, possible damage, and all the rest of it.

I looked at him, and saw the bruise starting to come out on his cheek. It occurred to me
that he probably didn't get much of a chance to relax either.

So just once, he got a freebie. I turned in my chair and pressed play.

You might not think it of me, but I prefer classical music. At first I'd cultivated the
knowledge as one more thing to set me apart and above anyone else looking for a job, but
I'd ended up getting hooked. I couldn't afford to indulge myself often, but when I could
I'd add another CD to my growing collection.

I'd chosen a disk of Chopin piano concertos that day, and I sat back and let it play.

I drifted off in thought for a while, and only remembered after half and hour or so that I
wasn't alone. I'd fully expected to have to toss Ranma out for disturbing me after five
minutes, but a glance over at him showed he was just sitting there, taking in the music.

Who'd have thought it?

I leaned back in the chair and stretched my legs out onto the bed. Every once in a while,
the boy surprised me.

Finally the disk got to the end. The house had been silent, so he was probably ok going
back out.

I jerked a thumb at my door. "Ok, time's up. Get back out there and face the music." I
gave him a bit of a grin too, just so he'd know I wasn't pissed at him.

"I'm goin' I'm goin," he said, stretching and making his way to the door. He looked a
little less beaten around now, so that was good. I'd have to contact some people and put
the odds on him for the evening's fight. He turned at the door and looked back at me.

"Hey, umm…. Nabiki?"

"What is it now, Sautome?"

"Thanks. The, uh, music was nice too."

"Well, we'll say 1000 next time you want a concert, if the time is good for me, and you
behave."

"Really? Great! I'll see you at dinner," he said, and slid my door shut behind him.

I turned to my books and added in his payment and the contract. Damn. Even if the boy
did have a nice smile, the price should have been more than 1000.

Romanze, Larghetto

I was sort of expecting Ranma to come by that night. After that first day, he'd often
stopped by, coughed up his cash or put it on account, and listened to some music.
He needed some down time like anyone else did, and he'd found a way of getting a time
out, every once in a while.

Sometimes when I was in the mood, I'd tell him a bit about the music or musician. It
wouldn't do to have someone totally without education hitched to my baby sister, after
all.

It paid well too, considering I didn't have to do anything for the money. Sometimes it cut
down on damage to the house as well, which was always good.

Ok, and after a while, I liked the company. Nothing wrong with that is there?

So anyway, that day had been pretty bad. First off, it was the anniversary of when our
mother had died which had all of us on edge to start with, at least Daddy and my two
sisters. Or course after last year, Ranma had an idea and was treading pretty careful, but
Genma, the idiot, chose to announce a training trip that had suspiciously been planned to
coincide with Nodoka paying us a visit.

Of course she was going to be around because she knew what time of year it was.

Pity that Genma was still worried about that whole suicide pact and was all set to drag
Ranma off with him, especially since he hadn't shown any signs of being 'manly' with
anyone.

It was also a pity that Akane had decided to try her hand in the kitchen yet again. I'm not
sure what happened since I was long gone, but it can't have been pretty.

Too bad that Ranma was sent on some sort of 'manly' errand and met up with Akane at
the wrong time when she wasn't totally dressed.

And then Shampoo showed up.

The screaming hadn't stopped for quite some time, or the pounding, and Ranma had
taken the brunt of both. Now Akane was in her room with some pop music on loud to
hide her crying.

She might have broken off the engagement yet again, I wasn't too sure.

So even though it was night by that time, I wasn't surprised when I heard the light
knocking on my door. I let the poor jerk in without even saying anything. I gestured to
the floor, and put on the first disk.

We had to use headphones for the first disk.

Akane was talking with Nodoka by the time we got to the second disk, so we just
sprawled out on the floor, leaning back against my bed. The sun had set, and the summer
sky was clear above the city.

I was selecting to match my mood that night, so it was mostly cello music, and not that
cheery. Then I switched back to the Chopin. I had an idea Kasumi mentioned to me
once that mother had liked Chopin.

I sat with my shoulder touching Ranma's.

After all the noise and commotion during the day, the silence in the house combined with
the music made the night seem surreal somehow.

"What happened down there?" I asked.

"She called me a bastard, broke the engagement, and smacked me into the floor a few
times. Nothing that new I guess," he said. He sounded like he was hurting, more from
the words, I was sure.

"..mmmmm..." I muttered. There was no point in telling him everything would be ok,
because who really knew about that sort of thing?

I leaned on him a bit more.

I made it through the whole first movement of the piano concerto, but the second is filled
with feeling, and it was a bit much for me. I reached up to wipe the tear away and
checked to see if Ranma was watching me, just out of the corner of my eye, you know.

He was crying as well.

I'll probably never know just what it was. Maybe it was Akane telling him off like she
had. Maybe it was because his father is scared to death of his mother. Maybe it was the
music. It could have been something else.

I reached up to wipe the tear off his face.

He turned to look at me.

And then we were kissing each other.

It was stupid. I didn't even like the boy. And even if he wasn't currently engaged to my
sister, he also wasn't engaged to me.

But his lips were so soft on mine. And his skin, his hair, and his touch; they were soft as
well.

I suppose he could be engaged to me after all.

He could be my fiancée.

For real this time.

We broke apart from each other some time later. I'm not sure when. The music had
stopped though.

I couldn't say anything to him just then, so we sat together.

Until we heard the pounding footsteps coming from my sister's room. Ranma hopped up
to his feet just as my door was whisked open and a vengeful sister appeared in it.

"What are you doing in here bothering my sister, you pervert!" she screamed, and hurled
one of her barbells at his head.

He swayed to the side and the barbell crashed into the CD player on my desk.

Splintered plastic flew everywhere.

Things were quite lively until about two in the morning, but by then we were all tired out.
Akane was in her room wondering how she was going to get the money to pay for a new
CD player.

I expect Genma was wondering if he was going to live out the night alone with his wife.

Ranma was downstairs, but I'm not sure what he was thinking about.

I was wondering when I would have the guts to talk to Ranma, or if he would come and
talk to me. I wondered what would happen when we did talk.

But the Chopin CD had broken along with the player. I couldn't help but think that
maybe a few unclear memories of one night were all I would end up with.

Rondo, Vivace

About two weeks had passed since That One Night, and I still hadn't talked to Ranma,
and he hadn't talked to me.

Sad, that it was important enough to merit being capitalised in my brain. On the other
hand, it was my first real kiss, and my life wasn't exactly replete with CEO's sweeping
me off my feet type romance. To my knowledge, it was also the first time that Ranma
had actually kissed someone when he wasn't drugged, under a spell, or thinking he was a
cat.

And wow, it was some kiss. Or kisses.

Ahem.

Of course I might have said something to him the next morning, but our parents had
passed the engagement on to Kasumi by then.

That caused a bit of a commotion.

Then Ranma was off for a week fighting someone or other and Kasumi convinced
everyone concerned that she had better things to do that to deal with marriage to him. I
think letting Akane cook dinner for three nights running would convince anyone to
change their position on anything.

Then, by the time he got back, everything seemed strained between everyone. Shampoo
and Ukyo had been frantic. Akane might have wanted him back, but wasn't daring to
show any sign of it. Kasumi was still a bit put out that Ranma had been shovelled off on
her without any warning. Daddy was still having occasional hallucinations after that big
plate of mushrooms he'd eaten the second night Akane was cooking.

Ranma, well I guess he had some soul searching to do. After all, things were a bit more
complicated for him. Although since he wasn't currently engaged to any of us Tendo
sisters specifically, things were a bit complicated for me as well.

And then today it was my birthday. Akane had already replaced the CD player, so I
wasn't expecting much from her.

I was wondering what Ranma would come up with though.

"Hey boss, what's up? You seem a bit out of it."

That was Akemi. I yanked my mind back to the present, and specifically to the jumbo ice
cream sundae that was sitting in front of me.

"Sorry girls," I said, "things have been a bit hectic at our house recently."

"That's right!" said Hiromi. "I knew from the betting pools that Kasumi had ended up as
Ranma's fiancée for a while. That can't have been easy for her."

Hiromi was a shy girl in her first year of high school burdened with the twin liabilities of
big, thick glasses and a very skinny build, but she was better with odds than anyone in the
school but me.

"No kidding," added Akemi. "Ranma might be easy on the eyes, but it just wouldn't be
worth it."

"This from the only girl who has a copy of every photo I've ever sold of him," I said with
a smirk. Of course I did as well, but that had been purely for documentary purposes.

"Sure," Akemi answered with her own smirk. "Looking is fine. I'd even test the
merchandise out, but I wouldn't keep it."

"Akemi!" squeaked Hiromi, looking scandalised. She then totally ruined the effect by
adding, "Anyway, wouldn't it be even nicer to spend every night with him for the rest of
your life?"

She then promptly turned as red as fresh tuna, and ate four big spoonfuls of her sundae. I
made a mental note of this interesting information. Akemi I'd known about, but little
Hiromi sounded like she was carrying a bit of a torch for Ranma herself. What was it
about him that even sucked in the school math geek?

My informal party with my two friends lasted a while longer, but eventually I had to
excuse myself so I could get home in time for my party with my family.

On my way home, I thought about what they had said. I'm sure they weren't aware of
how close their comments were to the decision I might have to make. Was he really
interested in me? What sort of return would I get on an investment in him?

I suddenly understood my little sister's behaviour over the last year a bit better. There
was no middle course with Ranma. No time to date him or 'test the merchandise' as
Akemi put it. Either you backed off or you got engaged or married, and marriage is a
pretty scary idea in a lot of ways.

Shopping in the 'no refunds or returns' section of the store wasn't really part of my plan
when it came to finding a husband.

Damn it.

For a minute, I really hated Chopin and his stupid romantic music.

Then I sighed, crammed all of those feelings away and shut the lid on them tight. If
everything worked out right, things would be good. I would make a profit. If Ranma
ended up back with Akane it was ok, I'd find a better man for myself. And I would make
a profit.

It was only later that I realised that even when slipping back into viewing everything as a
simple loss / gain statement, I'd started thinking of Ranma as a gain. Et tu, accounting?

Anyway, the party at home was nice. For once the house was full again, and people were
in a good mood. Nobody showed up and challenged anyone to a fight to the death. And
Kasumi's cold soba noodles were superb.

After dinner, we sat down to open all the gifts from my family. There were some really
nice things, but my attention was focussed the whole time on the rather grubby, untidy
parcel that lurked at the back with 'Nabiki' written in awful kanji. Martial arts gift
wrapping was presumably a challenge Ranma had not faced yet. Opening it took quite a
while, since there was more wrapping than gift, but what was left was a CD. It was the
same Chopin CD that had been broken.

It felt like someone had suddenly coated my insides with hot fudge. Warm, goopy, and
sweet weren't regular feelings for me to have in large amounts.

"Um, so is this it, Sautome?" I managed to get out. "Not too original, but it'll be nice to
listen to again."

It took him a minute, but from the shy smile he threw my way a bit later, I figure he
understood what I was saying.

When he knocked on my door later that evening, I knew for sure.

And this time when we started kissing, I really was his fiancée. After all, successful
entrepreneurs have to take calculated risks. This was a biggie, but I figured that in the
end, the payoff would be amazing.

The End


I was listening to the Concertos in question and for some reason the whole idea for this
little fic popped into my mind fully formed (much like Zeus with Athena, but without the
headache thankfully).

Well, it's just a short ficlet really, but at least it's done. I'm not sure how well I write
Nabiki, but there you are. Maybe later I'll go back and write Ranma's take on all of this.