Disclaimer: Takahashi created the paints, I used my own easel. And maybe diluted some of the colors...

Akane woke again, feeling disoriented. There was a faint burning pain from above one breast, near her heart. She began to sit up slowly, finding her progress aided by a pair of hands. She groaned, looking around her in confusion.

She recognized that she was in a hospital, and turned to search for Ranma, eyes filled with terror. The woman next to her, the redhead... Akane sagged in relief, and asked, "Is it over?"

Ranma nodded, smiling at her weakly. "Yes... Ryouga... isn't going to be bothering us anymore."

The redhead shifted her feet uncomfortably, then sighed, looking towards a window pensively. Akane swallowed nervously, and tremulously asked, "What... what's wrong?"

Ranma slumped, and said, "Well... there's good news, and bad news. What do you want first?"

Akane examined herself briefly, finding nothing out of place except the odd burning pain in her chest, and a vague sense of loss. "What's the bad news?"

Ranma swallowed, none of the grim stoic demeanor remaining as she hesitantly explained, "You... miscarried... while you were out... and... the damage from your ki attack made it so that... you can't have children anymore, either. Something like the eggs are still there, but the rest of the, uh... womb was destroyed. I think. I can get a doctor to explain it, if you'd like..."

Akane slumped, mulling things over. The loss of... Ryouga's child... was a loss, but at the same time... "I... I don't think I regret... that... but... I had hoped..." She _had_ wanted to raise children at some point...

Ranma smiled, looking vaguely ill. "Well. I'm not worried about having kids at the moment, but, uh... The good news is that you're fine. And my mother is taking things well. Sort of. Um. This isn't the greatest time, and I know things are a little messed up right now, but... since we got you back, I want to ask you... Will you... Will you... damn it all. Hang on, I need some hot water." The fidgeting girl turned about, and began peering around the room.

Akane blinked, a slow smile building. After everything, Ranma still wanted to be with her? She had slept with another man, carried his child, lost it, and was unable to bear children of her own... and Ranma was still willing to accept her? "Yes."

Ranma turned from her search for water, stunned. "Huh?"

Wiping a tear away, Akane repeated herself, "Yes. I think I know what you were going to ask, and I said yes. And I don't mind that you're a girl half the time... you should know that." She managed a naughty wink, forcing the other girl to blush slightly.

Ranma tried to force back a grin, and approached Akane nervously. "You know... after all that we've done, I feel silly and embarrassed asking. But... I love you, Akane-chan."

Akane reached out her arms, and Ranma leaned down to give her a tender hug. Akane sniffled, finally feeling the burden on her heart release. Finally... finally... finally... There was just one small problem. "What... what about children? I mean... What are we going to do..."

Ranma blanched, and shook her head. "Uh... Cologne said that... since I'm an ally of her tribe... there's a way... And... there's another way, where they can... your and... my... and... ah, screw it. Let's just worry about that part later, okay, Akane-chan?" Ranma looked nervously uncomfortable, and shifted her feet anxiously.

Akane flushed, as realization slowly set in. "Oh." She managed, in a small voice. Embracing Ranma tightly, she felt suddenly very tired again. Before sleep overtook her again, she murmured, "Love you, Ranma... Love you lots."

The other girl returned her embrace, whispering, "I love you too, Akane-chan. I'll love you forever. Now rest, you need your strength." Realizing that she was already asleep, Ranma collapsed into the chair, a goofy grin on her face. "Finally... finally... finally..."


Author's notes:

Firstly, a thank you to all of the people I foolishly _forgot_ to mention the first time around.

I'd like to thank, in no particular order:

Ginrai -- for his excellent commentary.

Mad-Hamlet -- for... um... not actually killing me, like he said he would.

Nanashi -- for help in making sure that minor details were just _so_.

MageOhki -- for help with characterization.

PatchMonkey -- for hosting, and being an all-around great and helpful guy.

Rakhal Stormwarden -- errata help, and running the penultimate fanfiction index, which is the most useful resource in the world. More valuable than its weight in gold.

Gary Kleppe -- Advice and comments on characterization.

Alyn Yonge -- Advice and comments on characterization.

I don't really know where this came from... but I think I'm happy with it. Because... sometimes, true love wins out over everything else. So there.

An explanation:

Akuma doki dan: angry demon's attack

There's more errata... but that will be posted... Never, in retrospect. The story should stand on it's own. I just hope it can.