A/N: well, here's a new story that I really hope I finish. I haven't read anything like this in Ranma-verse yet, but I got the idea from the book Dance of Knives, though the plot is nothing like that of the book. I hope you guys like it. I had a lot of fun writing this chapter.

Disclaimer: I own none of the characters that you recognize.

And I'd give up forever to touch you
Cause I know that you feel me somehow
You're the closest to heaven that I'll ever be
And I don't want to go home right now

And all I can taste is this moment
And all I can breathe is your life
Cause sooner or later it's over
I just don't want to miss you tonight

And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

And you can't fight the tears that ain't coming
Or the moment of truth in your lies
When everything seems like the movies
Yeah you bleed just to know your alive

And I don't want the world to see me
Cause I don't think that they'd understand
When everything's made to be broken
I just want you to know who I am

--Goo Goo Dols- Iris


Click, click, click, said Akane Tendo's kitten heels as she expertly maneuvered her way through the Tokyo subway. The gentle sounds made by her shoes were drowned out by the rest of Japan getting ready for work on a Monday morning. As the young woman quietly slipped into the train, there really should not have been such the hustle as men of all ages turned her direction. At twenty-four, Akane Tendo looked the image of just another citizen. Dressing to avoid attention, she wore a simple cotton top and khakis. Akane's line of work didn't have dress codes, but she liked to remain professional. Her dark blue hair was cropped short about her chin making for quitea nice frame for her delicate heart shaped face, two honey bronze eyes void of make up. Akane Tendo, though not beautiful, was exotic.

As the announcer warned passengers away from the closing doors, Akane reached into her Louise Vuitton purse for a book. Though he made no sound at all, Akane was well aware of the pigtailed man sitting across from her watching her. Ranma Saotome, he was. Dressed in his signature red Chinese silk shirt and black pants, Ranma stood out in a train of modernly dressed Japanese people. His boyish good looks mussed with roughness and those beautiful blue-grey eyes didn't help the process.In the six months that he had been riding this train (sitting across from Akane), not a single passenger has ever heard a sound from his lips. All was well, as neither Akane nor Ranma wanted more attention than they've already received.

Starting her new book Modern Psychology, Akane's mind was engulfed by theories and ideas, most of which she disagreed with, but some made sense. It was her daily ritual to prepare her mind each morning, as her patients weren't the usual I-didn't-realize-how-good-I-had-it type, but the Some-idiot-tortured-me-so-now-I'm-all-screwed-up type. Andpartly for that reason,Akane rarely had more than two patients at a time because of the grueling work involved in "fixing" them. At this time, she had only one patient: Ranma Saotome.

The subway jerked to a stop and people shuffled about. Akane barely noted the change, nose still buried in her book. Ranma kept his eyes glued to the girl in front of him, making sure she didn't leave or disappear, though she had always gone back to him in the past. As the train started moving again, he called down a bit; Akane wasn't stupid enough to jump out ofa moving train. As long as the train was in motion, Akane would stay right where she was.

Ranma's mind wandered, as it did most mornings, to the last time Akane had left. Though his long-term time perception was rather poor, he knew that it had happened before he moved in with her. Akane had told him that she was going on vacation to see an old friend, Shinosuke. She was to be gone for one week. Because Ranma had no clue how long one week was, she had shown him on the calendar.

"Here Ranma," she had said. "Every night when it gets dark, you can mark off one square, starting with this one."

Akane then picked up a black Sharpie and demonstrating her instructions, drew a big X over the box. Turning to Ranma again, she studied his features. He hadn't seemed confused, but he never gave a sign that he understood.

"When you cross off this box," Akane pointed, "it means that I'll be home when you wake up."

On the day next to it, she wrote "Akane's back!"

Ranma looked at the calendar curiously and nodded. Akane had given him a bright smile and squeezed his hand telling him how much she would miss him. Then she had left.

The day after, Ranma had gone to Akane's office and upon discovering her absence, threw a fit. It took a tranquilizer dart to calm him down and put him in solitary confinement for a day.

Ranma shuddered at the memory. It was the worst day of his life after he left Hito's service. He was in a small room alone with only a toilet, water fountain, and a bed. The walls were white and there was no window. The only human contact he had was when meals were delivered, and they were all by strangers. None of them had talked to him. When Ranmawas finally released, the guard had reminded him that Akane was gone with Shinosuke in the forest to the north.

Wrong move on the guard's part.

It had taken Ranma twenty-eight hours, without sleep, to find Akane.

He could still hear her startled words burn with anger when he had burst open to the door and found her with Shinosuke, laughing.

"Ranma?" she had stood up and taken a step toward him. "What are you doing here? How did you even find here?"

Ranma didn't move, but just stood there panting slightly as twenty-eight hours of nonstop activity without food began to catch up with him. He didn't say a word; he rarely ever said anything, and he wasn't about to in front of a perfect stranger.

"I'm on vacation!" Akane had yelled then. "I haven't had a break since I graduated, Ranma, and I'm tired. I need time to just be alive and not surrounded by... by crazy people who can't even...UGH!"

She pushed past the stunned man into the welcoming night. Ranma had stood therewaiting for her return as Shinosuke left to find her. He had stood in the same spot for three more hours and when Akane finally returned, he had, without a word, slumped down in slumber right away as she caught him in her arms. The next morning Akane made a deal with him: she would stay in the forest for one more day and he could stay with her. Ranma hadn't argued.

Clearing his thoughts, Ranma willed the memories away. He didn't know why he had hunted her down like a mad man, but he remembered the urgency in which he needed to know that she was still around. Akane couldn't leave. For a long time, Ranma wasn't sure how long, she had chased away his fears and nightmares, and Ranma just couldn't let her leave like that. He didn't even know what vacation was.

The train stopped again and Akane instinctively stood up. This was their stop. Putting her book away, the young psychiatrist didn't need to look to know that Ranma was right behind her, as he always was. The two walked out of the open door in silence and up the stairs that lead out of the subway tunnel. Outside, the sun shone brightly lending its light. The streets, as always, were crowded with millions of people hurrying to work, getting back from work, and on errand for work.

Akane led Ranma through a maze of streets and stopped in front of an inconspicuous building with black tinted windows. Towards the top of its hundred and fifty floors, the building proudly bore the title Yamamoto Corp. For the billionth time since accepting her job offer there, Akane wondered why she picked this place.

Actually, she remembered the winning conversation from two years ago quite well...

"Akane-chan, the boss said that he'd take you!" a bouncy purpled haired woman announced happily from the other end of the phone line.

It was a rather quiet Saturday afternoon and Akane was taking a relaxing bath. She had graduated from the University of Tokyo exactly a month ago and she still didn't have a proper job. Sure, she had a source of income from working as a waitress at a restaurant called Ucchan's, but she wanted something more. There was a reason she went to college in the first place, and it wasn't so that she could spend the rest of her life as a waitress, no matter how much she loved her boss.

"Really?" Akane was surprised at the news. "But didn't you say that they're trying to get rid of the program? Why-"

Shampoo interrupted then, "Nah, they changed their minds. So you'll come work here, no? We'll be in the same building and everything! This is great."

A pause, then, "Uh, Shampoo? I got an offer from another place that's much safer than-"

"Don't worry about safety," the other girl said confidently. She had a bad habit of interrupting people too, "You won't need to go on missions and in the psych ward there arelots of guards around. You'll be perfectly safe."


"You'll be with me," Shampoo pleaded. "And besides, this is for a far better cause. The people you'll treat are basically slaves to their old bosses. They need you, Akane-chan."

The girl in questioned sighed, "All right."

"Yay! We'll go out to celebrate tonight..."

Akane shook her head; it was useless. She had a three-year contract and she couldn't quit before then. To be completely honest, she didn't even know if she would quit when the time came to sign a new contract. Yamamoto Corp. wasn't exactly a mental hospital, first off. It was a special missions agency. Most of the people under employment, like Shampoo, were spies and/or special agents. Others were techies or engineers that made the agents and spies' lives easier with better technology and such. Akane, however, was part of a group of twenty-some psychiatrists that helped the victims of the agencies that Yamamoto Corp took down. She knew Shampoo was right in saying that these people needed her help.

Walking through the revolving doors, Akane and Ranma made their ways to the elevator. Inside the building, it was relatively quiet. The employees didn't usually talk muchin the lobby as it often gave easy information to spies from the other side. Passing by security, Akane showed her ID and Ranma's papers. After the guards scanned them, both were admitted across. The three receptionists chatted in whispers and answered phones. The only other sounds heard were the swift movements of cloth and shoes tapping on the floor. The lobby had always made Akane uneasy, and she was glad when they reached the elevator. Finally.

After pressing the four for her own floor, Akane and Ranma edged to the side. People entered until there was no way another person could fit through. The door closed and the elevator shot up. Glad that her floor was closer to the ground, Akane breathed a sigh of relief when the door opened again. It could be said that the girl didn't have an afinity for elevators. She and Ranma were the only ones the leave on the fourth floor.

Stepping into the hall of the Yamamoto Psych Ward, Akane noted the cream colored walls with distaste. Why couldn't they pick a more interesting color? The poor people here are crazy enough as is, they shouldn't have to deal with the company's bad interior design. Having walked the path to her office for over two years, Akane's subconscious mind lead the way as her thoughts drifted elsewhere.

Ranma Saotome. What was she going to do with him? Ranma was her longest patient by far. She received him a few months into her career when Shampoo's team went after Hito's underground smuggling organization. Though she didn't know for sure (or even cared about it that much), Akane was fairly sure that a majority of their business was with drug lords. It had taken Akane the better part of her first year with Ranma to rid him of hid addictions. It was her first major accomplishment with him among few others.

Stopping in front of her door, Akane reached for her keys in her purse and mechanically unlocked and opened the wooden door. Placing her purse on the desk, she sat in her chair behind it. The golden hue of her walls reminded Akane of the minutes before sunset and put her mind temporarily at peace with her problems. She gestured to a coffee brown comfy chair and glanced at Ranma.

"Sit," she said firmly.

Ranma walked to the chair and sat down, back straight. Still used to being ordered around, it was easiest to communicate with him through direct comands. Akane turned to her files on Ranma and frowned. He was still uncomfortable and Akane was beginning to get sick of warming him up to her every morning. What did she need to do make him feel at peace?

"How are you, Ranma?" she asked, putting away the folder.Familiarity worked best, according to her experience in the field.


The answer was succinct and straightforward. Ranma's voice sounded hoarse and unsure with a slight drawl to it. Sometimes the man in his early thirties sounded more like a little boy. Akane looked into his eyes and found that the Ranma looking back at her didn't have any traces of fear or rebellion etched into him. This was a good sign.

"What kind of 'fine'?" This was their daily ritual in Conversation 101. "Good? Bad? Middle?"


Akane had to smile a rueful smile. It had been about nine months since she had finally gotten Ranma to speak with her, but he still had difficulties with it. (Not that she blamed him. As a human weapon for Hito, there couldn't have been much occasions for conversation in the past.) He refused to open his mouth if anyone other than Akane was present. He didn't talk unless Akane directly addressed him with a question. He didn't speak more than a few words at a time. He rarely spoke in complete sentences. He didn't "chat".

"Now what do you say?" she prompted.

"How are you, Akane?" Ranma replied in a practiced manner.


She watched him carefully and mentally smiled as she noted surprise in Ranma's eyes. So he did take these small conversations to heart after all. Normally she told him how she really felt with wordy explanations of why, but this idea had just popped in her head and she had to try it out. Ranma didn't say anything as the surprise faded and Akane gave a small sigh. She had hoped that Ranma would ask her what kind of fine she felt, but apparently he wasn't in the mood to. Oh well. It was worth a shot anyway.

Akane turned to sort through her mail and notes. There were the usual warnings to stay away from certain parts of town at certain times. She took a thumbtack and pinned it to her new board. These were the places that would be under attack and she really needed to stay away. Last time she forgot about that warning... well, long story short, that washow she ended up with Ranma. The last note in the small pile was a reminder for a meeting that Wednesday to discuss the progress of their patients. She turned to her calendar and saw that she had already had the meeting penciled in. Another month had gone by and she still had no progress to report.This was discouraging news...

"What kind of fine?" Ranma whispered softly, eyes on the ground.

Akane smiled brilliantly, "The good kind."

He stole a quick glance at her and turned his attention back on the floor again. Apparently Akane's marble tiles were very interesting specimen.

"Because you're here," she expanded, as she usually did. "I'm great because you wanted to talk to me."

A/N: There, all finished. How do you like it so far? It's short and it's different from what I usually do, I know, but I wanted to give it a shot. Don't forget to review! You know you want to. I can tell.