Disclaimer: No, I don't own Ranma. If I did, this wouldn't be a fanfic, now would it?
AN: Just to let you know, this is my first fanfic ever. The first chapter is kind of long but I couldn't really think of anywhere in the story where I wanted to stop it. I have no idea if the other chapters will be anywhere near as long. To warn you, I don't think I'll be able to update this on a regular basis but I do promise to finish this story. Please review and let me know if it'll be worth my effort to do so.
Akane Tendo sat at her desk staring out of her window. It was morning and she had already gone on her morning jog, bathed and had just finished getting dressed for school. She had woken up earlier than usual and had a just a few minutes to herself before Kasumi would call her to come downstairs for breakfast. Her much enjoyed peace was soon broken by a the call of a certain male voice.
"Heeeya! You're too slow, Old Man!" Ranma Saotome yelled out as he and his father traded blows in their usual morning sparring.
"You're getting too soft, Boy!" Genma yelled back just Kasumi began to call everyone that breakfast was over. And Genma, being the great martial artist that he was, used the distraction to land a blow into Ranma's gut and knock him into the koi pond.
"What'd ya do that for?!" Yelled Ranma-chan.
Akane watched all this in mild interest and wondered exactly when she had gotten so used to the chaos that had entered her life so that morning battles were no longer a surprise to her. In fact she would be mildly worried if there were no morning sparring between Ranma and his father. She couldn't ever complain about having a boring life but exciting was really the only way she could describe her life Akane suddenly realized. It wasn't a sad life with her family, who although they were a bit controlling it was not for a lack of love. Akane could not say she had a happy life though and she was suddenly sobered by that thought. Why wouldn't she be happy?
"Akane, breakfast is ready!" Kasumi called out in her gentle motherly voice.
"Coming, Kasumi!" Akane called back and raced down the stairs. She took her usual seat beside Ranma and saw that he was still slightly wet from having been dipped into the pond and from then having a tea kettle poured over him to change him back into a boy. She grabbed her bowl of rice and began to slowly eat her breakfast.
Ranma as usual was quickly stuffing his mouth full when he was not guarding his bowl from his father's table training exercises. He briefly glanced over at Akane and wondered why she had not said anything yet. The thought was soon pushed out of his mind as his father was able to steal a bit of his food and Ranma went to steal it back.
Akane barely finished half of her bowl but set it down and stood up. "I'm heading out now." She announced and went to grab her school case and put on her shoes. Ranma finished eating his breakfast even faster than before and quickly stood up. He grabbed his school bag as he hurriedly put on his shoes and ran after her. As Akane calmly walked to school Ranma walked along the fence and every so often stole glances over to her. He did not know what to make of Akane at all. She had not a said a word during breakfast like she normally did commenting on his bad table manners. They had not a fought over Ranma calling her a tomboy. She had not sent him Air Akane. Ranma did not know whether he should be relieved at the peaceful turn of the day or worried. As he continued to watch her he noticed that Akane seemed to be deep in thought and suddenly had a panicky feeling that he should be terribly worried.
Just then the "ching, ching" of a bell rang out and Ranma steeled himself for the attack. He briefly thought about simply dodging the predictable attack but then pushed the thought out of his mind. Running away usually caused more problems ending in a long chase and he simply did not have time for that. Ranma did not at all feel like doing bucket duty this morning. As expected the Chinese ramen girl glomped him in a way that only an Amazon could.
"Airen no go to school and take Shampoo on date, yes?" Shampoo called out in her bubbly voice.
"I ain't taking ya no where!" Ranma cried out and began to struggle out of her grip. "I mean, Shampoo, I gotta get ta school."
Ranma glanced over at Akane to see how angry she was getting when he saw that, although she saw Shampoo hugging him, she did not seem to be glowing her usual blue battle aura when seeing something like this. "Akane?" He said softly in fear of incurring any wrath but too curious, or maybe just too stupid even Ranma sometimes didn't even know his reasons, as to why he wasn't keeping his mouth shut.
Akane had been so wrapped up in her thoughts that it was not until Ranma had said her name that she realized what was happening. For a moment Akane could feel her usual anger and temper rearing up and began to pull her fingers into making a fist but realized that there was no point in doing so. Ranma and Mr. Saotome always sparred in the morning and as Akane and Ranma ran to school Shampoo would always glomp him and so on. Things had not changed but Akane's feelings had. Akane had not wanted her feelings to change but they had and she had to find a way to deal with her new realization.
"I'll see you at school, Ranma." Akane simply said with only a slight edge to her voice and continued to walk on.
"Akane?" Ranma asked again.
"Violent girl gone now. Airen give Shampoo kiss now?" Shampoo said as she tried to give him one.
"Not now, Shampoo." Ranma told her as he kept staring at Akane as she continued to walk away from him. Ranma was now seriously worried about his fiancee's behavior and decided to follow her.
"Shampoo, my love! Saotome, unhand her!" Called out an inevitable voice.
It was Mousse and he was charging his way to where Ranma and Shampoo were standing. Ranma decided to the use the blind boy's arrival as his distraction and as Shampoo went to yell for Mousse to leave her alone, he gave her the slip and headed toward school where Akane was, leaving Shampoo and Mousse to their usual chase.
Akane had just walked through the school gates and knocked out Kuno when Ranma had finally caught up to her. It was also at this moment when the school bell rang so if he didn't want to stand in the hall he was going to have to wait til lunchtime to talk to her. Akane sat at her desk as Ranma walked into their homeroom class and took his seat just behind her. Akane already had her notebook out and pen in hand ready to listen to the teacher. Ranma shoved his school bag under his seat and simply stared at whatever was in front of him although every so often he would glance to the left and watch his fiancee. Akane glad to have classes to take her mind off her own thoughts listened carefully to the teacher's lecture and hardly glanced at her forced-upon fiance.
Lunch time rolled around and Ranma grabbed his bento box ready to follow Akane along with everyone else outside where they all ate but Akane didn't seem to be in a hurry at all and took her time putting her things away and getting her bento box out of her school bag. Ranma decided it was probably not a good idea for him to look as if he was waiting for Akane, even if it was what he was indeed doing, and decided the best thing for him to do was go outside and wait for her there. Just as Ranma had stepped out of the doorway and into the school yard he heard the voice of another of his determined fiancees call for him.
"Ran-chan! Let's eat lunch together. I'll cook up some okinamiyaki for us." Ukyo said as she latched herself to Ranma's arm and began to drag him to a grassy area where they could sit.
It was just then that Akane finally walked out of the building and saw Ranma with his other fiancee. She had been feeling a little bit better since taking her mind off her problematic question but her good mood was instantly dissipated when she saw her fiancé with another woman. This time Akane did not even feel her usual anger boiling. She just didn't feel as if it were worth the effort this time around and decided it was best that she should simply eat the lunch that Kasumi had made for her. Akane went to sit with her best friend Sayuri and Yuka at their usual lunch spot under the tree.
Ranma could only stare at Akane as she walked away from him. He was very surprised, and even relieved, that she had not gotten angry at all. It was the second time that day that another of his fiancees had been hanging onto him and she had not even said a word about it to him. He was so stunned that he did not even notice Ukyo was still pulling on him and was now dragging him away. For the rest of the lunch Ranma sat and pondered what could possibly be wrong with Akane while Ukyo tried very hard to please him by chatting cheerily to him and force feeding him one of her freshly made Japanese pizzas. Akane simply sat and talked with her friends. The bell rang and they all went inside for the rest of classes. The rest of school went very much as it had that morning but Ranma stole many more glances than he had earlier. Akane hardly noticed as she concentrated on the teacher's lecture. The school day ended and Ranma grabbed his bag and stood by the classroom's door to wait for Akane so that they could walk home together. Akane walked out of the room last and finally noticed Ranma standing there as if waiting for her.
"Ranma, are you waiting for me?" She asked him.
"No! Of course not!" Ranma said loudly trying to hide his embarrassment at Akane having already figured out his motive. "I just figured since we live at the same house and all that . . ." He couldn't seem to think of a way to finish that sentence that did not confirm her idea.
"OK, Ranma. Let's go home." Akane simply said giving her fiancee a half smile. It was not her full smile but it still had the power to make Ranma's heart skip a beat. Akane had to almost force that smile on her face. She was feeling much better since lunch but was still not totally happy with Ranma.
Ranma was once again walking on the fence just behind Akane as they made their usual route home. He once again started his habit of stealing glances of her without her knowing it as he tried to figure out a way that he could ask her what was bothering her without bring upon himself any of her ire. Then again, Ranma would almost be too glad for Akane to get angry at him. Her too-calm attitude about Shampoo and Ukyo clinging to him earlier had creeped him out just a little bit.
"Akane, are you OK?" He finally blurted out.
"I'm all right, Ranma." Akane answered him looking up at him but before she could elaborate further on her feelings they both heard a "ching, ching" from a certain bike bell.
"Airen! You all done school now and take Shampoo on date now, yes?" Shampoo once again squealed as she launched herself at Ranma for the second time that day.
Akane's eyes lit up with the flames of her anger. She had been preparing herself all day with what she was going to say to Ranma and when she was finally ready to talk to him, one of his insistent fiances just had to show and interrupt before she could even get a word out. If only Ranma would do something about it but it seemed too much to ask for so of course, it was all his fault. Her fingers began to close into the shape of a fist ready to send Ranma Air Akane back to the Tendo dojo but before she could raise her hand another person came crashing toward them at just their usual correct timing.
"Saotome, you will die for putting your hands on my darling Shampoo!" Mousse yelled.
"Mousse, you go home now!" Shampoo yelled letting of Ranma just to give the poor blind boy a good right hook into his jaw, knocking him out and causing him to fall to the ground right in front of Akane.
Akane stared down at the poor boy and gave out a small sigh. She felt sorry for him. She knew exactly how he felt a lot of the time as they were both constantly rejected by the person they strived for attention from. As much as Akane hated to admit it, she did try to do things for Ranma and always hated failing. She knelt down to the ground and lifted Mousse's head up a little.
"Mousse? Can you hear me? Are you OK?" Akane asked him.
Ranma and Shampoo could only stare dumbfounded as they saw Akane trying to take care of Mousse. She had never shown such care toward him before.
"Why Violent Girl be so nice to Blind Boy?" Shampoo sneered at Akane.
"Ughh . . ." Mousse groaned as he started to wake up again and opened his eyes to stare right into the eyes of Akane. "Tendo Akane?"
"Are you OK, Mousse?" Akane simply asked him kindly.
"I am fine." He said as he began to sit up rubbing the back of his head where he had hit the ground and then rubbed his jaw where the girl of his dreams had slugged him a good one.
As he stood up, Akane helped steady him. "That's a pretty bad bump on your head there and on your jaw too. Let me help you take you to Dr. Tofu's office so that he can look at it." Mousse, having a bad headache and very surprised to hear Akane offering to help him, only nodded in answer. "Ranma, I'll meet you at home later." She told him as she grabbed the Chinese boy's arm and began to walk with him down the street toward the clinic.
Shampoo seeing the Violent Girl lead her Duck Boy, without any protest from him, was utterly shocked and convinced herself that it didn't mean a thing to her at all and so she promptly turned around and walked away but she still could not help another glance at the 2 retreating figures. Ranma had simply stood there the entire time with his mouth wide open. It was a full minute after Akane and Mousse had left his sight before he finally came to his senses and decided on what course of action to take. He could follow her and the blind boy as he had when Akane and Ryoga had gone on a date but as those 2 were not actually on a date, Ranma was not up with any excuses as to why he was there with them when he would get caught and Ranma had no disillusions that he would not get caught since luck was never on his side for too long. His other option was to just go home as Akane had suggested. After less than a minute of thought, he decided the safest option was just go home and wait for Akane. After all, they weren't on a date. She was taking him to Dr. Tofu's.
Akane and Mousse arrived in front of the clinic of Dr. Tofu.
"Tendo Akane, why are you helping me?" Asked Mousse.
"Because you are hurt." Akane pointed out the obvious.
Not able to find anything to say against it, Mousse decided to simply go along with her and they walked into Dr. Tofu's office together.
"Dr. Tofu!" Akane called out for the chiropractor.
"Yes, Akane?" The good doctor answered. "What can I do for you today?"
"Dr. Tofu, it's Mousse here. He got knocked out and I think you should take a look at him." Akane explained to the good doctor.
"Well, Mousse have a seat then and I'll take a look at you." Said Dr. Tofu as he adjusted his glasses and then began to do as he said. "It looks like you took a hard hit to your jaw and a slight bump on your head but it's nothing too serious. It'll feel sore for a day or 2 but I'll give you some salve to rub onto it and take any pain away."
"Thank you, Dr. Tofu." Mousse said politely and after taking the small jar he gave a small bow in thanks. "And thank you, Tendo Akane, for your concern."
"It's OK, Mousse." Akane answered back. "Thank you, Dr. Tofu."
"You're welcome, Mousse and Akane. Just take care of yourselves and I'll see you another time." Dr. Tofu called after them as the pair left his clinic.
"Are you sure you're fine, Mousse?" Akane asked him once again as they stood outside out of the clinic.
"I am fine, Tendo Akane." Mousse reassured her. "Allow me to walk you home in gratitude for taking me to Dr. Tofu."
"I can take of myself and I can walk home myself." Akane told him hotly.
"I know that, Tendo Akane. It's just the polite thing of me to do." Mousse told her evenly.
"Well, if that's the case then sure, you can walk me home, Mousse." Akane said letting go one of her dazzling smiles as the 2 began to walk to the Tendo haven.
Mousse could only smile back in the face of such a friendly, cute and even kawaii smile.
The 2 martial artists walked along in quiet company until it was Akane who broke the silence. "Mousse, don't you ever get tired of how Shampoo treats you?"
"I love her and I will endure anything she puts me through to receive her love." Mousse explained to her. "Why do you endure the insults from Saotome Ranma?"
"It's because of our fathers!" Akane said beginning to get charged up with her always impending temper.
"You don't stay with Saotome just because of your fathers though, Tendo Akane." Mousse said. "If your fathers were the only reason, you would not still be engaged to him. You are not easily forced to do what you do not want to do."
Akane promptly shut her mouth. It was true but that didn't mean she had to admit to it and it was never long before she would open her mouth again. "Why do you always try to fight with Ranma though? You know he won't be defeated."
"If I can defeat him then in the eyes of the Amazon's he is not worthy to be Shampoo's husband." Mousse let Akane know. "It's much in the same way that you want to defeat my dear Shampoo."
"I guess we have a few things in common." Akane grudgingly admitted as they stood in front of the Tendo's door. "Would you like to stay for dinner?"
"I do not want to intrude." Mousse declined very politely.
It was just then that Kasumi called out. "Akane? Is that you?"
"Tadaima, Oneechan!" Akane answered back just as Kasumi opened the door to see where her younger sister was at.
"Oh, what are you doing here, Mousse?" Kasumi asked in surprise.
"He was very kind and walked me home after I took him to see Dr. Tofu, Onee-chan." Akane said.
"Well, then he must stay for dinner." Kasumi told them both as she opened the door wide enough for the both of them to walk through. "It's already at the table and we were just waiting for Akane to come inside."
"But . . ." Mouse started to protest.
"I insist." Kasumi said. No one could ever say no to Kasumi for too long and without another word of argument Mousse found himself being led through the Tendo household and seated at their dinner table.
"What's he doin here?" Ranma yelled out as soon as he saw the white robed Chinese boy.
"Don't be rude, Ranma!" Akane snapped back to her inazuke. "He walked me home after I took him to Dr. Tofu's and Kasumi asked him to stay for dinner."
Kasumi had Mousse sit on the other side of Akane as she began to serve everyone his or her plate of food. As usual Ranma ate his food very quickly while guarding it from his father but all the while he kept sneaking glances to his left as his fiancee kept a running conversation with the boy Amazon. Akane did not completely ignore her fiancé though. She did tell Ranma of his deplorable table manners when the meal first began. Akane was quite glad that Kasumi had asked Mousse to stay for dinner. It was a nice change to have an actual conversation with someone who did not insult her all the time. She had never had a real chance to talk to the Amazon boy before and she found that she actually liked to talk to him. Mousse felt the same way. He found it very enjoyable to talk to someone who did not smack him with her cane or knock him out as soon as he opened his mouth. The 2 covered all sorts of topics but their talk always came back to the subject of martial arts.
"Want to spar?" Akane asked Mousse once dinner was over and the dishes were away.
"Sure." Mousse replied casually. "But I need to call the Nekohaten and tell Colonge that I will be by later to clean the restaurant."
"OK!" Akane said breaking out into smile. "I'll go change while you make your call. Meet you in the dojo."
Akane led Mousse to use the phone and then ran upstairs to change into her gi. After just a few minutes she was running down the stairs when she saw Ranma standing at the bottom of them.
"What do ya want to spar with the blind boy for?" Ranma asked her.
"What do you care, Ranma?" Akane shot back at the pig-tailed boy.
"I don't!" Ranma yelled back defensively.
"Then you don't stand in my way." Akane told him as she barged right by him on her way to the dojo.
As Akane past him Ranma decided that he would watch his fiancee spar so he went and sat by the koi pond where it wouldn't be too obvious to everyone about what he was doing.
"I'm ready!" Akane declared to Mousse as he stood in the middle of the dojo.
"Tendo Akane I won't use my weapons against you since this is just a sparring match." Mousse let her know.
Akane just nodded as he posed herself into a simple fighting stance. As soon as Mousse was ready, Akane launched a series of punches and kickes at him. Mousse dodged and blocked them easily enough and even took some shots at the female martial artists. Akane managed to dodge and block all of them until Mousse dropped into a leg sweep and knocked Akane to the ground. Ranma had watched the entire thing and had the sudden urge to knock the Chinese boy out of the dojo for knocking his fiancee down.
"Are you alright, Tendo Akane?" Mousse asked the small girl as he helped her stand up.
"I'm fine. I'm not made of glass." Akane told him. "You're better than I expected without your weapons, Mousse."
"Thank you, Tendo Akane." Mousse replied simply. "You are not bad either though you could use some practice."
"Yes, I am a bit out of form. I haven't been able to find anyone who will train and spar with me." Akane admitted.
"If you like, I could train and spar with you sometimes." Mousse offered.
"Really? You would do that?" Akane asked as her face broke into such a very big and happy smile. Ranma thought that Mousse didn't deserve any sort of smile from Akane and nearly decked himself for having such a thought.
"I could always use the practice to get better." Said Mousse.
"Hey Mousse?" Said Akane. "Want to be friends?" At those words, Ranma felt his heart wretch. She had asked him that same question when they had first met and now she was asking the blind boy. He wanted to kill the Amazon male.
"Tendo Akane, I would like that very much." Mousse said with a friendly smile on his face as he held out his hand for the young girl to shake. After they shook hands, Mousse decided that it was time for him to go. "I will come back tomorrow after you are back from school and we can start to spar everyday."
"That is great but Mousse now that we've agreed to be friends you don't have to call me Tendo Akane. It's just Akane." Akane told him.
"Yes, Ten . . .Akane." Mousse said. "Good night and I will see you tomorrow."
"Good night, Mousse." Akane told him as he went to leave and Akane went back inside the house.
Ranma caught his blue short haired fiancee just as she stepped inside the house. "Why do ya want to train with Mousse?" Ranma asked her. "He's not that good. I can beat him easy."
"At least he's willing to help me get better." Akane reminded him. "Unlike some people, Mousse will actually take me seriously as a martial artist. I am tired and I want to go to bed. Good night, Ranma."