Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma ½

Chapter 31

The Kiss of Release

The next day in Nerima Ranma and Akane awoke to their usual day. Ranma was thrown outside by a surprise attack from his father and Akane went for a jog to try to relieve her frustrations. Her family had been glad to see them back but it was hard not to go back to the old routine. She had argued with Ranma over dinner because of something…She forgot exactly what it was now; it had been so small, something about how he was putting his chopsticks down on the table the wrong way. It had started at dinner, she knew she'd snapped at him over something like that and he had snapped back and everyone just seemed to laugh it off as a couple fight. He had ignored her in the evening and she didn't bother going up to the roof to see if he was hiding there. She had just gone to bed angry. Now it was morning and she was still angry.

She punched a passing post as she remembered the cold look he had gave him. She imagined it was his face. 'Stupid Ranma… stupid me…' She sighed, she had to admit she was angrier with herself than Ranma but she knew she had to keep their budding relationship a secret. Only it seemed impossible with all her family around her. It just seemed so easy to go back to their old routine. She had no real intention of starting any fights, it had just happened.

As she entered the garden she spotted Ranma doing a karate routine. He always had such a good form. She tried to hide her smile but she couldn't help but wave shyly at him. She guessed she could forgive him, it wasn't entirely his fault. He noticed her waving and stopped his exercise to wave back only to be thrown by his father who had been watching from the bushes as he trained. There really was no privacy in the house at all. Akane walked on ignoring the bickering and sparing between father and son.

"Kasumi, is breakfast ready?" Akane asked as she entered the kitchen.

"Almost, are you going to school today?" Her elder sister asked back.

"I don't think I am in any mood for their questions… I've been absent for a few days now." Akane said sitting down at the kitchen table. "Did anything happen while we were gone?"

"Actually it's been the most peaceful we've ever seen it." Kasumi said smiling. "No visitors at all, I had too much food prepared but Mr. Saotome helped eat it all."

"You should just starve that freeloader." Nabiki said snidely as she walked in on them. "It was insanely boring with you, Ranma and all the rest of the usual lot gone. Kuno has been on patrol looking for you guys but he really didn't do anything."

"Does that mean you're glad I'm back?" Akane said, her sister only smirked back. She had to take that as a yes. "We still haven't found a cure so we're going to the Amazon's today to see what they say. The elder Cologne said there might be a way, but she didn't seem so sure."

"So you don't know if it's permanent or not?" Nabiki asked. "Well, remember Kasumi keep fish off the menu for a while then."

"I made some fish for breakfast…" Kasumi said going white.

"I think it should be okay, it only seems to be a fresh fish." Akane said embarrassed, she wasn't fully sure of the rules herself. There had been that one time she vaguely recalled where she turned where no fish were involved.

"Best give her toast instead then, or just rice." Nabiki said smiling at the blushing Akane, she did find that awkward teen side of her younger sister very cute and malleable.

The rest of the household soon joined them and Akane was flushed trying not to look at Ranma. She wanted to get him somewhere quiet to apologise but she couldn't look at him in case she had to explain herself to her father. She was petrified that the fathers would find out. She really didn't want to be forced to marry until she felt she was ready. Plus would Ranma really be happy married to someone like her who had a curse that made him afraid of her?

"So are you two going to the Chinese restaurant today?" Nabiki asked even though she knew very well the answer. It broke the silence though.

"I guess." Ranma shrugged as he ate quickly.

Akane couldn't lift her eyes up, she knew her face was easy to read. She wanted to desperately to talk to Ranma and tell him how sorry she was but she couldn't do it in front of the fathers. Her freedom of the campsite was so easily missed.

"After this we'll go for a walk over there." Akane said, she quickly glanced up to Ranma and looked back to her breakfast. "The sooner the better." She couldn't look him in the eye and was back to being angry at herself for acting that way. Nothing had seemed to have changed yet she knew deep down they had to make that change if they even wanted to get anywhere. She took a final gulp of her tea and stood up.

"I'll be outside waiting." Akane said as left the table. Kasumi followed Akane to try and give her a lunch box. "Sis, we'll get something from the restaurant, besides we might be finished by lunch time."

"Will you be okay? You've done nothing but been tense since you came back." Kasumi said.

I'll be fine. I just need some more privacy." Akane said.

"Oh, getting to that stage already." Nabiki said from over Kasumi's shoulder.

Akane glared daggers and didn't answer, she checked to see if her father picked up the innuendo but he was nursing his hangover. "I won't comment about any stages or stuff like that."

"What are you sure you haven't even reached first base yet then?"

Akane blushed and stormed out of the kitchen.

"Nabiki really!" Kasumi quietly scolded her sister under her breath. Nabiki only laughed in reply and went back to the table.

It was easier for Akane to sit outside watching the well abused koi swimming around the pond. She was surprised they were still any there but they must be the hardy ones to have lasted so long.

"Akane…. Step away from the fish!"

She turned round to see a spooked looking Ranma with his hands up. She inwardly cursed at herself and backed away from the pond.

"I wasn't doing anything…" Akane sighed. "I was just looking."

A fish suddenly sprung up out of the pond and Akane fell back waiting for it to hit her but the fish was knocked away.

"You know how things go in this place, it just has lots of random…" Ranma tripped into the water. "…happenings."

"I guess, I thought it only ever happened to you though." Akane sighed. "We do have the worst luck." She helped Ranma up and tried her best 'sorry' smile.

"You got a twitch or something?" Ranma asked. "There's something wrong with your face." Ranma was thrown back into the pond.

"Stop teasing me!" Akane snapped and sat away from the pond. "Just go get changed idiot! I wish you would stop making fun of me."

"I can't help it, you're too easy." Ranma chuckled as he tried to laugh it off. He saw Akane glaring back to him and he just hung his head. It never seemed to go smoothly. "Give me five minutes and your man will be right back."

"Idiot!" Akane hissed but he was already running off. She didn't like how he could flirt so easily and in the open. It was much easier when they were in the mountains. She wasn't sure if part of it was that Ranma whether in his male or female form still treated her the same way, as the girl he loved. She tried to place her hands on her cheeks to stop them burning with these thoughts but she couldn't help it.

Ranma soon returned in a new shirt and with his male body. He was sure Akane was just in a bad mood and maybe because she had only toast for breakfast. Though she was being careless with the fish pond earlier. She had only been home for 12 hours and she was already back to the violent tomboy ways. He was sure the long talk they had on the bus about being careful about fish and trying to keep their curse under control was something they had both decided on. It was only when they came back that she had snapped something about not being a couple in front of the family. Then again Ranma didn't really remember much about the talk on the bus and only about sleeping on Akane's shoulder. So maybe he had just dreamt it all.

He looked across at the red faced girl who he really wanted to hug but he knew that it would be a death wish. She really looked very angry at everything.

"C'mon let's go." Ranma said. "Let's get out of this place." 'And maybe somewhere quiet so I can get to hug you.'

Akane just nodded and followed her fiancé out the garden. "I'm sorry…" She muttered under her breath.

Ranma leaned down from the fence he was running on and made a very strange angle with his body. "Sorry Akane I didn't quite catch that."

"I said… I'm… SORRY!"

Ranma fell off the fence and had to run and hop back up to catch up with the running away figure of Akane. "I did hear right?" Ranma gasped with a huge grin. "I'm not sure what you're apologising for but I'll take it!"

"I'm apologising for being violent." Akane said. "I didn't mean to be… and the fish thing, I sort of forgot for a moment… I wasn't thinking."

Ranma made his grin even bigger, this flustered Akane was really cute to him for some reason and he just wanted to tease more. "I mean… Akane not thinking? I never would have imagined it, you're always calling me the unthinking idiot!" He felt a punch in his chest and Ranma winced preparing for the worst. He really did push Akane just that little bit too far sometimes. Only the pain didn't come and he was feeling a very nice warm sensation as he was pinned by his chest.

He opened his eyes to see a flushed Akane staring intently at him. Akane had him in a side alley her arms holding him in a front lock her whole body pushed right up against him. If he thought too much about it he could swear he could feel her chest almost like a cushion against him.

"Um…" Ranma could feel his own cheeks becoming hot.

"You really do like teasing me!" Akane said angrily. "I've been trying to hide our relationship this whole time and you just outright flirt with me."

"Is it flirting?" Ranma couldn't keep eye contact with her. She pretty much had him in a tight situation and he was forcing himself to stop smiling and act like the man in charge.

"Yeah Ranma, it's flirting." Akane whispered. "I only just recently got that… you have no idea how to get attention from any girl you like so you just say mean things and get her full attention all on you."

"But…we're a couple, right?" Ranma spluttered. "How-How would I need to do that?"

"Because we're right back in our old roles since last night." Akane said. "I act cold, you act like a jerk, get me all angry and I hit you."

"Ah… I didn't mean to say those things…" Ranma said. "Sort of… I mean the chopstick thing was really stupid…"

"Well, I just had a thought." Akane said, not wanting to bring up that argument that really had been stupid, she couldn't disagree about that. "I want to try something different to give you the attention you obviously want."

"ME?" Ranma spat. "Want attention…when did you think that?" He rolled his eyes around looking for an escape. He felt her breasts press harder against him and he was pulled down into a kiss from Akane. Ranma's ponytail stuck straight up in surprise as their lips met. She let go of his arms and Ranma was free again. Akane was smiling glad she got the upper hand for once.

"That's my apology." She said smiling. "I don't want to go back to our old habits."

Ranma shook his head awake. He grabbed Akane's arm and captured her lips in a lot deeper kiss. "Apology accepted." He whispered.

"You really can't let anyone have the last word!" Akane gasped pushing him away.

"Neither can you." Ranma said laughing as he followed Akane out of the alley. "I guess we'll always have our stupid arguments."

"I guess." Akane sighed, "But you could be a little bit more discreet in the house."

"Yeah, we'll need to find some more side-alley fun to have."

"Ranma…" Akane poked him in the ribs as she saw an old woman giving them a side ways look. "Be more careful. I swear we need to keep this a secret."

"I say we should just strike a deal and try to get some sort of arrangement without the shotgun wedding."

"We'll try and talk about it later." Akane said as she stopped in front of the Chinese restaurant. "We should maybe go off to the mountains again once it gets quiet."

"Since when do we have any quiet moments?" Ranma asked as he knocked on the door. It opened and Ranma looked down to see a very tired looking Cologne at the door.

"We have been waiting for you Saotome." Cologne said. "You're late."

"It's only 10am… give us a break." Ranma sighed.

"I could easily break your arms for what you have done to my granddaughter's honour but she has no-one but herself to blame for it escalating to what it has." Cologne growled. "Now come in, the Tendo girl too."

Ranma and Akane found themselves inside and amazed to see all the boxes that were scattered around the place. "You're leaving?" Akane asked.

"Well, we plan to." Cologne sighed. "Our business in Japan is almost at an end. Saotome, my granddaughter wants to meet with you."

"That's why we're here, there's also that antidote for Akane too."

"After, first you must go to Shampoo." Cologne said as she beckoned them up the stairs to the living quarters. As they reached the top Cologne kept Akane back with her stick. "I would ask you to wait here for now. This will be a private ceremony between Shampoo, myself as witness and Ranma. It will be to your benefit if you are to marry Ranma but you must wait outside."

"Will you be okay Ranma?" Akane asked. They hadn't seen Shampoo awake since she had been possessed; the girl couldn't help but worry especially when it was about the Amazon. Ranma really didn't know how to handle her.

"It's only Shampoo, just wait for me." Ranma said confidentially. Akane couldn't only look on in concern. She'd seen that arrogant look before and it always ended up worse, so long as he didn't say… "What could go wrong?" He added and Akane just slumped down in the chair outside the room. He was a hopeless guy and she was just as hopeless. The door shut and she was left to look at the brightly coloured wallpaper. It wasn't jealousy anymore with Shampoo, she knew Ranma loved her but there was still that small nagging feeling that maybe Shampoo had got so angry about Ranma that she really did love him.

Akane looked at the closed door with the cat and some strange Chinese characters that she didn't recognise but she assumed said "Shampoo". The Amazon with all her strength and traditions was after all just a girl like her. 'Okay, maybe I am still jealous!' She inwardly scolded herself.

There was a faint murmur of voices and Akane looked at the door again. She was just suppose to wait outside and not go inside. They never said anything about listening if they spoke really loud. She leaned forward in her chair. The murmurs got slightly louder but it was still too muffled to make out clearly. Akane saw a small vase on the hallway table and didn't even inwardly fight it. The glass vase was up against the door and she listened in. This did after all involve her even if she had to be considered the outsider.

"We are ready." Came the Elder's voice. "Do you denounce your right to be Shampoo's husband?"

"Yeah of course, never had the right in the first place."

"Shampoo does not see him fit as a husband, he loves another."

"He was betrothed to Akane Tendo at birth, we must honour that agreement."

"Well… I might marry her…"

"SILENCE! Shampoo were you not defeated by another man of our tribe?"

"It happened but I want a rematch!"

"That cannot be undone child; you will get your right to appeal back at the village, for now we finish our business with Saotome."

"Shampoo cannot marry Ranma, Ranma shouldn't be so sad."

"I won't be."

"Ranma will be a pig of a husband. Shampoo does not regret this."

"I must admit to having some regret Saotome." Cologne said. "You would have been a strong match and improved our bloodline but this is for the best."

"So what do I have to do?"

"Ranma just stand there and be kissed!"

"Hey wait! I have Akane! I don't need a kiss from you!"

"This is a Kiss of Release BOY!" Cologne shouted. "It is not a lover's kiss, it shall set you free from our traditions."

"Shampoo will kiss you but only on the part that sticks out!"

Akane jolted back her vase almost dropping from her hands and she scrambled to catch it. Her face was going all sorts of colours as she imagined what they were talking about. She tried to focus and placed the glass up against the door.

"So is that it?"

"Yes, you are free." Cologne said. "Though you still are welcome to our village I would refrain from eating any giant feasts or fighting any of our Amazons or you will be back in the same situation."

It was over already! Akane stepped back from the door and placed the vase awkwardly back on the table. It was a little cracked from her clutching at the glass. She could only imagine one thing. This kiss of release had been something so badly perverted that she had to be kept out of the room! There was only one part of a man that she knew stuck out and she was feeling almost sick to the stomach. That traitor of a man! Only a few moments ago he had been kissing her! They were going to have a nice long talk about their future and they now had this hanging over them.

The door opened and a smug looking Ranma walked out. He had no idea of the minefield he was walking into.

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Author's Note: Happy New Year 2013!

I bet more people are surprised at how this story just keeps going, I know I am but I really do want to wrap things up. The new relationship between Ranma and Akane is sort of how I envisioned them. Ranma is a lot more cocky and confident with his teasing but Akane is still trying to adjust to it all and throwing a few surprises in there for Ranma. He is still really naïve when it comes to romance.

Though of course there are still lots of misunderstandings in their way. Honestly I think that's normal for any relationship but for Ranma and Akane they're going to be taking it to the manga comedy extreme. The next chapter should hopefully clear up this big one that's been left as a cliff hanger. Sorry, bad habits are hard to break.

Next chapter will come when it comes, hopefully this year but I can't make any promises. Real life continues as always and I have to fight against it all.

Thanks again to all the reviewers old and new, I do appreciate it all. If there are any flaws, spelling, grammar, whatever I would like any opinions on that till I find a good beta again.