Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½, Rumiko Takahashi does and whoever she sells the rights to do too.

A/N: Well, this is a new story. I hope you like it and any suggestions will be gladly accepted! If anyone knows how to make spaces between the paragraphs bigger I'd love to know! I'm going to guess this chapter so sorry if things look cruddy, I'll clean it up. If you'd like to reach me you can at Thanks, and enjoy!

"The only courage that matters is the kind that gets you from one moment to the next."

--Mingnon McLaughlin

The dark haired boy pushed himself through a final line of bush and emerged atop a hill, overlooking a city. He sighed deeply, a longing sigh, and subsequently looked all around him, confused. He felt his pockets and ran his fingers over a folded piece of paper. After thoroughly reading it, he folded it up again carefully, and put it back into his pocket. Looking down at the city again, he murmured, "Akane . . ."

Akane Tendo sat on her bed, separating what looked to be a stapler, some pencils, erasers, notebooks, and a calculator with a big sticker of a piglet on the front. She was sorting each pile eagerly, and grinning to herself. Every so often she started talking to the pig sitting atop her desk; he had a yellow and black bandana on, and waslooking quite content.

"Alright P-Chan," she said gleefully, "which notebook should be for Math?" She held up a red notebook, and a blue one with her other hand. She waited for P-Chan to somehow answer, and he did. He ran over and nudged the blue one with his nose, his little hoofs becoming caught up in the folds of her blankets.

She laughed and picked him up; poking him on the nose and dropping him gently on her pillow, laughing lightly again. She picked up the navy notebook and turned to her other hand, holding the red one.

"I dunno P-Chan," she said distantly, running her hand over the red notebook, "I kinda like this one."

"Hey Kasumi," Ranma Saotome greeted, grinning and licking his lips as he watched the food that would soon preside in his stomach eagerly, "So when's the food gonna be ready?"

"Almost done," Kasumi told him sweetly, and turned away from her cooking to properly address him, "My, you're happy today! Talked to Akane yet?"

Ranma inhaled sharply at the name and looked up, pretending nothing had happened, and, in fact, he was cooler and calmer than he had been before, "Naw, why? She ask for me?"

Kasumi noted a glint of hope in his question, "No," she smiled, "you just seemed so happy."

Before Ranma could compute what she had said, she plopped down a full breakfast in front of him; everything else seemingly dimmed. He began to stuff his face, only stopping for a moment to thank Kasumi and tell her the food was amazing.

"Oh, of course!" She replied pleasantly. She went back to the stove and back to cooking, humming a melody lowly to herself.

Ranma grinned again and finished up, "Thanks again Kasumi," he mentioned as he ran from the room, in an effort to get to the dojo before anyone else had the chance.

He ran out, and was just about at the door, when it slid open and Genma walked out. Ranma rolled his eyes and stared deadpanned at his father.

"What're you doin' in the dojo, Pops? Couldn't be training," Ranma goaded.

"Quiet, boy!" Genma instructed, voice booming, but then turning quite giddy, "We're going to a ball tonight!"

"A what?" Ranma asked suspiciously.

Genma's eyes glazed over, as if he was seeing the place in his mind, "Tons of free food; people walking around, just waiting for you to take it."

Noticing he caught Ranma's eye he continued, "And they don't get mad if ya take it all," he nudged him in the stomach with his elbow, "It's the best thing anybody ever made up, boy. We'll be so full, we won't be able to get up!"

Ranma licked his lips, "So it's like a food court for free, with sample people everywhere?"

"Uh," Genma muttered, pondering if this could be taken as true, "sure, but the catch," Genma said, his son's eyes clouded over, "is you gotta dress up."

"Oh no," Ranma backed away, nearly tripping over a nearby protruding root, "I'm not gettin' all girly for a place you," he emphasized, "told me about."

"No," Genma said quickly, "you're gonna dress up like a man of course; nice and flashy!"

"Hmmm," Ranma commented, mulling over whether anything coming from his father could be trusted.

"In a tux," Genma added.

"And there's free food?"

Genma nodded and Ranma continued, hands folded across his chest, "All I can eat, and you know I can eat a lot, Pop, so be honest; if it's actually physically possible?"

"Of course, now lemme show you your clothes, and wash your face," Genma scowled, "we're goin' respectable tonight!"

Ranma rolled his eyes as Genma brought him back to the house; he just knew he was going to regret this.

That night, Akane had walked around her room for the fifty thousandth time. She looked to a very dizzy P-Chan, who had been watching her each time, with a worried look.

"How do I look P-Chan?" She asked again, nervously. She smoothed down the sides of her dress and held her arms out, waiting for a reply.

Her dress was royal blue and made of fine silk. It was a strapless corset at the top, tied up at the back, and went from very tight to very loose around her hips as the silk flowed in pleats to rightabove her knees. She looked electric.

"Bwee!" P-Chan commented, never getting enough of how truly pretty she looked. He sat there, wondering if there was somewhere he could get in there tonight.

It was to be held at the Kuno Estate, and was for the "Needy of Nerima Foundation" (the NON Foundation). No one knew where the money from the foundation went, or who donated, but they knew it was a free party, and that was more than good enough for them.

Akane looked at herself again in the mirror, reflecting, "I hope Ranma doesn't make fun of it."

'If he does,' Ryoga thought grinning, 'he'll be dead before he finishes the sentence.'

"Well Mr. P-Chan, you seem awfully happy all of a sudden," Akane noticed, "you must really like this!"

She hugged him and got ready to go.

"Akane dear, hurry down, we've got to go now!" Soun hollered up the stairs, pleading.

They had been waiting for fifteen minutes now and the clouds seemed to be edging towards rain. He didn't want to get his suit any wetter than it had to be so he had told all the girls to go into the car and he, Ranma, and Genma would wait inside for her.

"Ranma," Genma instructed, "go and get your fiancé!"

"Yes Ranma, go fetch her," Soun agreed. They pushed him towards the stairs as he batted them off frantically.

"I ain't goin' up there," he hollered, ready for a fight, "and ya can't make me."

Soun and Genma looked at each other, thento Ranma, then at each other again. They both swiftly grabbed a side of Ranma, threw him up the stairs, and over the railing. He flew into the wall loudly and quickly picked himself up, dusting off some fallen ceiling.

He grumbled ineligibly, turning to look behind him angrily, opening the door instinctively while doing so. Before he realized it, he had swung the door open and was staring at Akane. As she turned to look at who was at the door, he had to admit; she looked stunning.

"Hey," he mumbled, looking at her shell shocked, "uh, they," he pointed behind him, "wanted me to tell ya we've been waiting and to hurry up or we'll be cute – I mean late, we'll be late," he laughed nervously, "And . . ." he trailed off, "yeah. Sorry about the not knockin' thing, but I forgot."

"Right," Akane said slowly, not knowing just what to say, "What do you think, Ranma?"

Ranma took the chance she had given him to do what he had been forcing himself not to, and looked her up and down, and then once more, for clarity of course.

"Uh," Ranma didn't know what to say and stepped back a bit, into the door frame, "ya look," he was at a loss of words.

Akane kind of liked him speechless for once.

"Yes?" She asked, waiting patiently. Waiting was easy, she got to see him in his nice tuxedo, his hair was all nice, and she could faintly smell cologne, that he wore only about once or twice before, that she liked very much indeed.

"Uh," Ranma had to answer, this was sad. Where were the witty remarks he had thought up for an instant like this? Oh yes, they were with his brain outside the door. Damn, ". . . punctual?" he finally said nervously.

Akane's eyes turned to slits, "All you can say is . . . PUNCTUAL?"

For the next few hours everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves; everyone except Ranma.

"Pop," he whispered harshly into the old man's ear, as soon as he took in the scene, "you forgot to mention all the dancin'!"

"Oh did I?" Genma asked innocently, "My goodness, I am getting on in age, aren't I?"

"Erg," Ranma growled, as everyone turned to look where the sound originated from. He laughed nervously and meekly added, "Geez, I'm hungry. My stomach actually sounded like it was growling, eh? Heh, heh."

Everyone didn't accept it as much as they ignored it; everyone except Akane.

"Ranma," she scolded, coming to stand next to him,parallel to the table laden with assorted meats, "stop being a dummy and embarrassing the dojo!"

He scowled, "I can say whatever I want; don't try and make me say anything else, ya stupid tomboy."

Genma frowned, "You two should look happy, or you'll embarrass the dojo. Remember, a martial artist is in control of all emotions."

Ranma scoffed.

"Enough of that, boy!"


"Do you want a cold water accident?" Genma threatened grinning, "It would certainly bring in business."

"Hey! You promised I'd get to stay a guy tonight!" Ranma countered.

"Then be good."

Akane snickered, "Afraid of him, Ranma?"

"Y'know Akane," Ranma started.

Someone respectable walked by and they stopped, smiling sweetly asthe personpassed; putting up appearances.

Akane, still smiling as people walked by and watched, answered, "What, pervert?"

Ranma smiled again, looking delighted that the meat pies were so nicely meaty, "I'm just amazed they found a dress and a shoehorn big enough to put together your outfit tonight."

Akane's face turned red, "And I'm amazed your big head fit through the double doors."







"Uh . . . smelly," Ranma tried sneering, respectively.

Akane sneered back, "Freak."

They both found it quite hard to sneer with a kind smile.

Ranma ran out of things from the top of his head, "You are so . . ."

"Punctual?" Akane helped, grinning.

At this Ranma turned beet red. He stood tall and turned, "Uncute. I'm amazed ya even decided to come. People are probably laughin' behind their drinks at ya. Why, I'd be amazed if they didn't throw ya out!"

That one hurt.

"Ranma," Akane accused, "you jerk!"

She turned on her heels and let Ranma get a clear view of them, going out the double doors and downthe stone porch, leading into town.

Ranma rolled his eyes and got ready to go after her when he suddenly felt the wind being knocked out of him, "What the-?"

"Airen," Shampoo cooed, "I bell of ball, yes?"

Ranma tried to scramble away, but to no avail. Shampoo had a good grip on him, and was not letting go. He struggled some more but it became like a finger trap; the more he struggled, the closer she got.

Ranma stopped, and turned to face her. She smelled of spices, and her lips were dark red. The red lips came even closer, and he became even more uncomfortable, "Shampoo, get offa me!"

Shampoo shimmied a little to show him her dress; it was deep lavender, her eye shadow matched. It had a deep neck line, and high slits on both sides.

"Airen like?" Shampoo asked confidently. She flung back her hair, and grinned, waiting for his reply.

Ranma took the chance to wriggle out of her grasp and booked itthrough the doors. As he ran, Shampoo began to tear up.

"I get all dressed up for Airen, and he no want to see me for second," She sniffled loudly and wiped her eyes.

He stopped, aighed, and walked back.

"Shampoo, it's not like that," Ranma pleaded, walking back, and guiltily explaining, "ya look great!"

Shampoo immediately stopped crying, looking up eagerly, "You really think?"

"Yeah," Ranma told her unconvincingly, running out the door; just swooping out of the way of her hands, grabbing at him.

"Airen, wait," Shampoo called loudly, starting to run after his disappearing figure, until a hand came down on her shoulder.

"Sorry, Shampoo, but the old ghoul asked me to tell you she needs you at the Cat Café," Nabiki told her sympathetically.

Shampoo looked back at her suspiciously, "Why Shampoo trust money grabber?"

Nabiki looked back at her impassively, "I really don't care if you go; I did my part."

"Shampoo check with great grandmother. Nabiki better not be lying," she warned.

"I'm shaking," Nabiki uttered sarcastically.

At that Shampoo gave her one last steely eyed glare, and set off.

"Humph," Nabiki mused, "Akane sure owes me one now."

Akane ran. She ran like she wasn't looking because, well, she really wasn't looking.

'How could Ranma be so mean?' Akane thought, 'Did I really hurt him, or something? I really wanted him to like the dress,' Akane's heart hurt, 'why did he think I was even wearing the damn thing?'

She wiped her eyes again, and bustled steadily into the night, into the town, and away from a certain pig tailed boy.

'Why would he say that? Why would I say that?' Akane tortured herself, just like after every one of their fights. Her head hurt.

She stepped onto a street lit by a few bright street lamps, shielding her eyes, but keeping steadily down the street. She kept going, faster and faster, stopping only because she had hit what felt like a clothed wall.

"Ouch," she muttered from the ground. Which turned out to not be ground at all, but a man in a navy blue outfit, befuddled beyond reason.

"Sorry, Miss," a male voice said, confused. She could hear him scratching his head, "I'm pretty sure that was my fault."

They had fallen out of the light and, as Akane sat up and he did the same, they moved into the way of the stream of light, coming from the closest street light.

Akane looked up and gasped in shock at what she saw. Still sitting on him, from the waist down, Akane quickly got up, never losing sight of him. He was shaking his head; trying to get the dirt, from the street, out of his hair.

When he finally looked up, sitting nicely on the ground, his eyes bulged and a humungous smile engulfed his face, "Akane?"

Akane breathlessly whispered, hand over her mouth in shock, "Shinosuke?"

He stood up slowly, and wordlessly wiped away Akane's tears with his warm hand, concern apparent on his face. Akane stood stunned, too shocked to move.

"What are you doing here?" Akane whispered, cautiously letting him cup her face with one hand, not knowing why.

"Looking for you, I think," Shinosuke said distantly, seemingly lost in her eyes, "I like your dress."

She laughed nervously, "It's blue."

"It's amazing," he replied, truly dazzled.

Akane noticed.

'Ranma didn't think so,' she remembered angrily. Suddenly, she felt like being less odd with Shinosuke, and friendlier, 'I mean, he's being sonice to me, and other people have been so mean.'

"Thanks, you look great too," she replied politely, but less rigidly.

"Really?" He asked hopefully.

He took a step back, and reached into his pocket for what looked to be a letter. He lifted it out, and passed it to Akane. She took it gracefully and looked back at him, confused.

"I remember knowing you had to read this; what does it say?" He asked nicely.

Akane opened it, still a tad bit wary, and started to read.

She read it allowed, letting Shinosuke hear, watching him comprehend, "One, Grandfather is missing. Two, find Akane. Three, find Grandfather. Four, buy Akane flowers. Five, or candy. Six, or a horse."

Shinosuke laughed lightly, "Oh yeah, I forgot about that stuff."

"Shinosuke, what is this?" Akane asked.

"It's my list of all the things I have to remember," He explained, "everything that matters to me. Could you pass me a pen?"

"Sorry," Akane said confused, "I haven't got one."

He fumbled through his pockets and pulled out a blue pen triumphantly, "I found one."

He took the paper from Akane and neatly wrote, handing it back after he finished.

Akane read a loud again, "Seven," Akane choked back a tear, "Akane is beautiful in blue dresses."

Shinosuke blushed bright red, "It's true."

"Umm," Akane didn't know what to say. She liked that he was being so nice, but something was tugging at her, "thanks."

"No," Shinosuke said sincerely, grasping her in his arms, "thank you for saving me. At least I remember you saving me; getting the scars gone from my back! It seems I remember just about everything about you! Please, let me thank you."

He smiled and then planted a smooth kiss on Akane's lips. She hesitated at first,but then felt herself kiss back, remembering all the nasty things Ranma had said that night. She finally withdrew and looked instinctively behind her shoulder, hearing a rustling.

Ranma stood frozen, eyes wide. Then, he lowered his face and stared at the ground. After another few tense seconds he looked up again, right into Shinosuke's eyes, "Get away from her."

Shinosuke looked back with the same cold stare, "I think I'm more welcome here than you are; who are you?"

"Ya already know who I am," Ranma yelled, "Ranma Saotome; your worst nightmare."

"Am I supposed to know who that is?" He asked in slight disbelief, "Have we even met before?"

"Yeah," Ranma chuckled darkly, "and you're gonna wish ya never met me again."

"Ranma," Akane warned, reading his stance.

"Stay outta this Akane, it ain't about you," Ranma told her warily.

"What?" Akane demanded, fists forming into balls. She had tried so hard to be patient tonight too.

At that moment Shinosuke leaned forward to get his broom, and Ranma swung forward, punching him in the stomach, sending him flying back, and into a tree. One of the branches suddenly fell, and before he could move, crashed down on his leg. Everyone heard a tiny "crack".

Akane ran towards him and Ranma followed worriedly.

"It was just a tiny punch," Ranma defended, watching Akane try and lift up the unconscious Shinosuke.

"Not for him, Ranma," Akane seethed, trying to pick him up and throw him over her shoulder.

Ranma stepped forward to help, "Ya gotta lift the branch off first," he explained, taking the heavy stick off Shinosuke's knee, "You take one shoulder, and I'll take the other."

Akane nodded, but refused to make eye contact with him. She took her side, and picked up the broom lying where it had almost been picked up, and he took his. As they walked back to the dojo they didn't say a word. Ranma couldn't stand it anymore.

"I didn't mean to knock him out Akane, ya know that," he said quietly but defensively.

"Whatever Ranma, I'm not the one you should say sorry to," Akane scolded, struggling a bit.

Ranma fumed, "Oh yeah, I'm gonna say sorry to yer lover boy here."

"Ranma," Akane stopped, "he is not my "lover boy"."

Ranma stopped a bit ahead and turned around, eyes filled with accusation, "Oh, so you'll kiss just any guy walkin' down the street, then?"

Akane rolled her eyes, on the brink of frustrated tears, "He was thanking me. If you weren't so jealous-" Akane started but was interrupted by forced laughter.

"Jealous?" Ranma spat, "Why would I ever be jealous of a guy kissin' you?"

Akane smiled innocently, or as best as she could manage, "Good, then you'll have no objections next time?"

Akane started walking again coolly; not believing she had actually said that, hoping Ranma was stewing in it.

Ranma was jerked forward into walking again, almost dropping Shinosuke. He stared forward; troubled expression clear on his face, stewing in it.

A/N: So? Review or I might forget to write the next chapter! I'm hoping to write the next one and have it up by the time the previous one is off the newest twenty five.