Disclaimer: I almost forgot this part – I'm so used to doing chapters for stories where I've already done the disclaimer for the whole fic at the beginning. Anyway, I really shouldn't have to tell you again, but I absolutely do not, can not, and will not own Ranma ½ or any of the characters therin. I do, however, own Inuyasha!

Come on, this is a Ranmafic – the owners of Inuyasha would never think to look here for such a statement…I'm so sneaky! (--is handed memo--) You mean they're both owned by the same person?! Damn, foiled again…

Author's Note: Well, I seem to have hit a minor bit of writer's block regarding all my current stories at the moment (except Father's House, Husband's House, but I can't really do another chapter on that one until I either finish Alter Ego or update Missing in Action, because I don't want to leave the others behind for too long), so I wrote this little sort of stream-of-consciousness one-shot in the hopes that it would jump start my brain.

It's not actually a songfic, but it was inspired in part by the song More Than Words (well, at least the title was…--cough--), as well as the Ranma ½ OAV episode about the contrary jewel. It really has nothing to do with that particular episode, but that was what I happened to be watching when the idea popped into my head (--grin--). Anyway, here's the result, and to those of you waiting for an update on one or more of my other fics, well…I'm working on it…


More Than Words

The sky was a deep indigo, like a velvet cloak that shielded the world from the light of the sun and left Akane to brood in peaceful darkness. Only the sliver of the moon and the myriad of distant stars cast light upon her form as she leaned against the railing of the balcony with a quiet sigh.

She couldn't sleep. For the life of her she couldn't seem to figure out why she was having trouble doing so tonight of all nights. Certainly she was used to the frequent bouts of insomnia brought on by the antics of Nerima's martial arts crowd -- most particularly one Ranma Saotome, whose uncanny talent for trouble of all shapes and sizes had kept her awake more nights than she cared to count -- but that wasn't the case tonight. Things had been relatively quiet of late -- the keyword being relatively -- and she could think of no particular incident that was praying on her mind at the moment.

For whatever reason, Akane was feeling reflective tonight, and after having spent at least two hours tossing and turning, her mind drifting without purpose or direction from one abstract subject to the next, she had decided to step out on the porch for a breath of fresh air and give in to her contemplative mindset.

Loneliness is a funny thing, she mused absently. Isn't it strange how one can be surrounded by people, a loving family, friends, even enemies, the whole of which hardly ever leave her alone, and yet, at the end of the day, still feel so utterly alone? I've always considered myself to be very self-sufficient -- I don't depend on anyone, and no one depends on me. It's better that way. People cause trouble; they always want something from you or use you to get something else. I'm not anti-social, per se, but it seems that when it comes to my relationships with other people there's only so far that I'm willing to let them in. I can't trust people to understand me -- how could they understand? What if I were to let someone in, let them see who I truly am on the inside, and they betrayed me? What would they think of me if they really knew who I was?

No, it's better to be safe, better to keep my heart and soul to myself and keep everyone at a distance than to risk being destroyed from the inside out.

But still, when the sun goes down and I am truly alone, I can't help but feel that there's something missing from my life. What is it that everyone else in the world seems to understand, that to me remains this giant mystery?

Late at night, when my mind is in that strange, twilit realm of near sleep, I wonder what it would be like to be kissed by someone. Not a kiss on the cheek or even the mere touching of lips, but to be truly kissed -- the kind of exchange you see in the movies when you just know that those two people are meant to spend the rest of their lives together, when you can almost feel the understanding and the honesty being transmitted between them. Does such a thing even exist in the real world? Is it possible to love someone with all your heart, despite their faults and the imperfections in your relationship, and for them to love you back with equal depth? To accept you, despite your faults? Or is that no more than pop culture, as realistic an idea as having flawless skin or a supermodel-esque figure?

And here's the real question: Even if it is possible to find such a love, am I capable of it?

I used to think it would be enough just to wait, that one day my prince would come to sweep me off my feet. But now, having been literally swept off my feet by countless princes, that whole idea has lost some of it's appeal. It probably has something to do with growing older as well, but I just don't think that's what I want anymore. I know better than anyone that simply being carried away by some handsome stranger does not guarantee any sort of emotional connection whatsoever, and it's become clear to me of late that all I really want is that -- the connection, the understanding -- the love, in it's deepest and most realistic sense.

As long as I'm being completely honest with myself, I think there's only one person in my entire life who's ever really made me feel that...that indescribable 'something' that you always hear about. It's like...like you want to crawl inside him, be a part of him, and have him be a part of you. It's not a mere attraction, because I've known what that was like since I was about eight. 'Attraction' is what I feel for Ryoga -- not to mention Ranma's friend Hiroshi, that guy who sits in front of me in English class, and Brad Pitt. Attraction is to this 'something' as the number twelve is to the face of a clock -- it's an essential part of it, but by no means is it the whole picture.

But that's only half the story. It's not enough that I have feelings for him -- they have to be returned for the whole thing to have any meaning at all. And that's where things get complicated...

Her thoughts trailed off as she reached the usual dead end. Beyond that point matters were out of her hands and she knew it. She would never have the courage to find out if he returned her feelings, because that would require admitting her feelings in the first place. And she knew him well enough to say with some certainty that if, by some glorious chance, he felt the same way she did, he wouldn't have the courage to risk his ego in telling her the truth any more than she. Wasn't that the classic paradox?

She sighed softly in a sort of wry chuckle, smiling in a manner that said silently 'aye, there's the rub'. Just as she was about to turn and head back to her room to make another attempt at sleep, a small noise from the shadowy room behind her brought her to attention.

Glancing back over her shoulder with a curious frown, she observed none other than Ranma stepping out of the darkness and into the dim light of the moon, sliding the door shut behind him. He gave her a small, slightly sheepish smile, which she returned, asking softly, "What are you doing out here in the middle of the night?"

"I could ask you the same thing," he returned, stepping up beside her and leaning against the railing about a foot to her left. His eyes gazed out over the horizon, away from her, but she couldn't seem to take her eyes from his face.

"I couldn't sleep," she said simply and he nodded slightly in acknowledgement.

"I know -- I heard you come out here earlier. I couldn't sleep either."

A silence fell between them, and Akane cast her eyes down to her hands in thought. There was something different about Ranma tonight. Maybe it was just the fact that he was tired, or that he wasn't being chased by a flock of fiancees, or that there didn't seem to be anything for the two of them to argue about at the moment, but something was different. She had rarely seen him so...quiet. But then she supposed that she too was a bit on the quiet side this evening.

"Is there something on your mind Ranma?" she questioned at last, and the man's gaze flickered briefly to her face before returning to the horizon. He seemed to be considering his answer.

"Not exactly," he replied, "I don't know..."

Something in his answer, in the tone of his voice, which sounded somewhat lost, made her reach out to take his hand in her own. She didn't really even think about it -- it just seemed like the right thing to do. Ranma glanced down at their joined hands in slight surprise, but she didn't pull away as she might have otherwise. In the back of her mind the end of her musings clung like the mist over a lake at dawn: Neither willing to make the first move -- Isn't that the classic paradox?

When Ranma's eyes lifted to her face she could see within their stormy blue depths a sort of question, one that he seemed reluctant to voice aloud lest he should find that the answer was not what he had hoped. Was it really what she hoped, or was she merely interpreting the curious confusion in his gaze as a mirror of her own thoughts, projecting onto him the thoughts she wished him to have?

But when he spoke, though he said only her name, she took heart. The tone of his voice, the apprehension, the question, all seemed to confirm her hopes. "Akane?" he whispered, uncertainty fringing the edges of his speech.

A small reassuring smile spread across her face at the sound, and she watched as his eyes widened slightly in hopeful understanding, the beginnings of a smile upon his own lips.

"Ranma," she whispered as well, and without giving her mind a chance to reject the idea, she followed her instincts, moving in slowly, letting her eyes drift shut and praying that he would be there to catch her -- as he always was -- in this, the biggest fall of her life.

Much to her relief, he was. His lips met hers timidly at first, both of them still nursing fears and reservations, unwilling to let go of their respective safety nets, but the first brush was like a drug, demanding more. He raised a hand to her shoulder and pressed his lips to hers more firmly as she did the same in return, her hands moving almost instinctively to his face. The contact was so utterly sweet and sincere that it nearly brought tears to her lidded eyes. Slowly, ever so slowly, the kiss became an embrace, her arms sliding to loop around his neck and his drawing her against him as they encircled her waist.

For the first time in as long as she could remember she felt safe in a way that she had never imagined. Not merely safe from danger, for she had long known that she could trust Ranma to rescue her from any danger that might befall her, but safe in the heart and soul. He had held her in his arms countless times, carried her across rooftops and mountains like those princes she'd once dreamed of, but never before had she been so certain that she belonged there -- and that he wanted her there as well.

To be wanted, to be received, to be understood and needed like this was the most she could have asked for. Where before her feelings for Ranma had always been tinted with the stain of regret and resentment for their onesidedness and unfulfillment, now they were no longer so. Affections unreturned had made her loneliness only that much more acute -- but now things were different. There was only one word to describe what she was feeling at this very moment: Complete.

At long last they drew apart, both smiling at each other more openly than either could have hoped for not long ago. True, they still had a long way to go, and there were many, many multitudes of issues to be dealt with -- but those were matters for the light and the daytime. Tonight was theirs, and all they had to think about was each other.

"I love you, Akane Tendo." Ranma's voice was soft but strong, at once awed by the power of the words as he spoke them and certain, as he had never been before, that they were true. It rumbled deep in his chest, and Akane smiled at the sensation.

"I love you, Ranma Saotome," she whispered back, resting her cheek against his chest and allowing him to wrap his arms more firmly around her, both utterly content with each other's company.

There were no castles in the sky, no crumbling buildings, no fireworks or grand ball gowns or glass slippers -- just a couple of teenagers standing out on the back porch in the middle of the night, whispering those three simple words into the dark; and yet, Akane thought, it was the most romantic thing she could have imagined had she been given the title of God herself and allowed to create it. Sure her prince could sweep her off her feet if he so chose, but so could Kuno and Ryoga and Kirin and Tomoh -- but none of them were on the porch with her that night. For that she was eternally grateful.

-- -- --

A/N: Thus endth the one-shot. What do you think? Like I said, it was stream-of-consciousness, so virtually no planning involved…so if it sucks that's probably why. But if it doesn't suck…great! Anyway, drop me a review if you should so please; I'll love you for it!