Ranma sighed, sinking deeper into the tub, "What to do, what to do?" All about him, the warm, comforting waters of the tub gently crested and waved about him, as he pondered his predicament. "They're gonna find out eventually, I may as well go out like I am." He was concerned mostly with how the girl, Akane was her name, would take it. She offered his girl form friendship, even a friendly spar... though the techniques she was using, the strike points she was aiming for... they seemed a bit more permanent than what a sparring session called for. Not that it mattered to her, as the redhead easily evaded the strikes. Beside, the girl probably was going to stop short of connecting anyhow...

The hole through the wall was just a simple accident.

Steeling his resolve and his resignation, the pigtailed young man pulled himself out of the tub, unheeding of the silhouette outside the door. At the sound of the door, Ranma froze, not expecting anyone's entry. He baulked, when he noticed the girl he had been sparring with standing before him in sky clad.

Ranma blinked, before chuckling nervously, "Ah... I can explain..." The girl before him blinked, but said nothing, as if waiting for his explanation. Realizing he had her attention, Ranma scratched the back of his head, "Actually, I'll explain it to you and your family at the same time, it's kinda an embarrassing story I don't wanna have to explain again."

The girl stood there, just staring.

"Ah... so..." Ranma sat back in the tub, diverting his eyes from the form she made no move to cover, "If you could, like, wait till I get dressed..."

The girl made no move.

"I shouldn't take long, I mean a few seconds, and you can have the bath."

She remained in the doorway, seemingly unphased by the sight, and unmoving.

"Um, you know? This is kinda awkward..." Ranma commented, shifting deeper into the tub, and praying that she didn't decide to jump in with him.

After about ten minutes, the girl named Akane standing before him, as Ranma remained trying to use the tub to protect his modesty... something she seemed not to have, the pigtailed boy sighed, before leaning over, grabbing one of the wash buckets, and standing up, "Alright, I guess you're in shock or something, sooooo, I'll just be going now. Okay?" Making sure to cover his bidness, Ranma slowly rose out of the tub, a bit nervous as to the way Akane's eyes followed him. She made no move to evacuate the doorway, forcing Ranma to carefully squeeze himself by, trying his best to not touch her. Unfortunately, the bucket did, sending Ranma into a series of hasty apologies. They seemed to go unheeded, as Akane just turned to watch him.

With strategic contortions of his form, Ranma managed to quickly dry himself, dress, and excavate himself from the bathroom. Once outside, he huffed, releasing the breath he had been holding, expecting some sort of explosive reaction. He then sighed, wondering what was going through the girl's head.


"Well, congratulations on your engagement, Ranma," the girl with the chin length hair congratulated with a sardonic smirk.

"Ah, about that," Ranma replied, removing his hand from leading her to a relatively secluded spot, "There's something I gotta ask you about your sister..."

"Oh, ask away, the longer the question, the more it's gonna cost."

Ranma blinked, but asked anyhow, "Is there, well... something wrong with your sister? I mean when I got out of the tub earlier, she just stared at me."

The smirk immediately fell from Nabiki's face, "Um... well... you know she's a virgin... I mean yeah... she's never seen a naked guy before... not even Daddy... heh heh... heh..."

The pigtailed boy raised an eyebrow, "Are you sure she ain't a pervert or something?"

"Yeah, that's it! She's a pervert! I guess that answers that!" Ranma blinked, surprised at the speed the girl suddenly moved at, "Gottagobye!"

"Huh," Ranma replied, scratching the back of his head. At least that was more than he got out of the eldest sister. "Well, that answers that question"


"Damn it, Pops," Ranma grumbled to himself, as he stared up at the ceiling above his bed, "You just had to get me engaged to some weirdo girl. She may be kinda cute, but the way she was staring at me in the tub, and where was she the rest of the night? She wasn't even there when we got this engagement forced on us!"

Groaning, the pigtailed young man decided that he wouldn't get this mystery solved tonight, and that sleep was his best current option. It was well past lights out for everyone, with the rest of the house turned in for the night. Ranma quickly began to doze off, before his eyes fluttered open. Sitting up, he turned to the door to the guest room he and his father were staying in, staring at it as if he were attempting to look through it. After several moments, he quietly got out of his futon, and crept to the door.

After a slight hesitation, he took a deep breath, and opened it. He double blinked, as Akane's startled expression turned to him. Her hand almost went slack on the large bag she was dragging behind her, which Ranma presumed was the source of the thumping up the stairs. Ranma's eyes shifted from the long, heavy looking sack back to Akane. Akane stared owlishly back at Ranma. Ranma stared dumbfounded at Akane. Akane stared back at Ranma. Ranma stared back at Akane.

Akane suddenly broke into a brisk, nervous walk, dragging the bag behind her as if it were suddenly weightless. Ranma continued to stare after her, startled at her reaction, as she quickly disappeared into her room, and closed the door. Ranma blinked several times, before Akane's door opened up enough for its owner to poke her head out.

"Good night." With that, Akane closed the door again.

"Ah... good night... I guess," Ranma replied, wondering what the hell just happened.


"Man, that was a weird dream," Ranma mumbled to himself, stretching, "I mean, getting engaged to she weird pervert chick," Ranma stretched, and headed for the room's exit, "and that scene in the hallway, what was that all a-"

Ranma stopped short, being careful not to trip over the girl kneeling in front of his door, diligently scrubbing the wooden floor. "Oh, good morning, Ranma-kun. Breakfast may be a little late this morning."

"Ah... Kasumi, right?" Ranma enquired, hoping he got it right. The girl smiled at him, and gave him a confirmational nod, "What are you doing?"

"Oh, this?" Kasumi looked down at the sponge in her hand, as if she didn't realize it was there, and then at the red streak that lead from splotches on the stairwell where she had apparently started scrubbing from, to a solid streak that lead to Akane's door, "I'm just cleaning up this... pig's blood. You know how pig's blood can stain hard wood."

"Why would there be pig's blood on the floor?"

Kasumi blinked, "You know, Ranma? That would be a good question!"

"Yes, that might be why I asked it."

"Well..." Kasumi seemed to ponder it, "Perhaps someone wanted a late night snack?"

"While it was still dripping blood?"

"Hmm," Kasumi almost conceded to that, "We all occasionally get those cravings. Why, I remember one when I was suddenly feeling hungry for salami niri sushi, is that not odd?"

"Yes, very," Ranma responded, no longer trying to hide his suspicion, as he looked towards Akane's door, "Alright, what's going on here?"

Kasumi followed Ranma's gaze, before her eyes went wide, "Uh, w-what ever do you mean?"

Ranma chose not to answer, instead heading for Akane's room, unnoticing of the way the eldest sister's face drained of all color. "If you're not gonna answer me, then I may have to find out myself..."

"Ranma, NO!" Kasumi shouted, suddenly shooting to standing, and rushing after Ranma. She wasn't fast enough, as the pigtailed young man turned the knob, finding it unlocked, and pushed open the door.

His eyes went wide at the sight before him, not expecting what he saw. The flowery wallpaper was offset by the barbells by the bed, that worked to compliment the semi-mess the room lay in, speaking volumes of the girly, yet tomboyish nature of its owner... who was staring back at Ranma while midway through buttoning up her blouse for her school uniform.

"Yes?" Akane enquired, looking expectantly at Ranma.

The pigtailed boy looked down, finding the bloodstains disappeared at the doorframe. He looked up at Akane, finding her buttoning the final button on her uniform, not paying attention to him at all. "Ah... nothing, thought I, um, heard something, that's all," Ranma responded, lamely, "I guess I'll just let you get back to... whatever then." With that, he closed the door.

Akane sighed, as she reached between her mattress for the rusty butcher knife, got up, and inspected the bloody corpse hanging from the door against a plastic tarp taped from the base of the door to keep it from staining the rug in her room. She already knew she was going to hear it from Kasumi later on already for the hallway, best not to make a bigger mess.


"School?" Ranma parroted, startled by the announcement.

"Well, we will be here a while," Genma commented, staring towards his son.

"Here, Ranma, you can come with me," the middle sister, Nabiki, offered, "Just hurry up before-"

"Hey Ranma, I'm about to head for school, so you might want to hurry."

Ranma blinked, and turned to the youngest Tendou that just came into the tearoom, "Uh, sure, though your sis...ter... hey, Nabiki, you okay?"

The girl in question was sheet white, before she forced herself to regain her composure, "Uh... n-no, no Ranma, that's okay. I have some final arrangment-er-I mean some last rite- WAIT I mean some stuff to do... before school."

"I mean you looked like you saw a ghost or something," Ranma clarified.

"It's the weather, really! I just have a cold, nothing life threaten- ah... I think I better be going..." With that, Nabiki quickly scurried towards the front door, keeping her expression schooled until she was out of Ranma's sight. "Damn it, Akane, and this one was cute, too."

"Hmm," Ranma mused, "Well, lemme get some supplies or something. Hey, Mr. Tendou, you... okay what's the matter with you?"

Soun took one more picture with the Polaroid camera, before nodding to himself, "There, that one should do, a nice three quarter view." He then turned towards Genma "My condolences, old friend."

"Wha? Did someone die?" the elder Saotome asked, accidentally spitting bits of leftover breakfast about.

"Come on, Akane," Ranma ordered, tired of the circus going on around him, "I'll get by for the day."

"If you say so, Ranma"


"Your family always act like that?" Ranma enquired, deciding to break the silence that existed between them as they walked down the street.

"I guess you stirred things up a bit," Akane replied, not bothering to look up at the pigtailed boy walking on the fence.

"I guess so. Hey, about this engagement thing, you don't really want it, do ya? I mean, we don't even know each other, and we're both kinda young..."

Akane paused, before turning to Ranma, and studying him for a few moments. The scrutinizing gaze put the pigtailed boy back a bit, before regaining his balance and holding firm. After almost a full minute, Akane spoke, "Ranma, are you mine?"

Ranma nearly fell off the fence at the question, "W-what?"

"Do you belong to me? Are you mine?"

"Uh... I'm your fiancé... for the time being, if that's what you mean." Ranma continued walking along the fence, "And that's until we get this mess sorted out. I mean not that you aren't cute and all, but I- aw crap."

Akane walked to where the diminutive redhead stood on the fence, wiping the wet red hair from her face, "Great, now I need to take a bath." Ranma hopped off the fence, and turned to head back to the Tendou residence. She paused, when she felt a hand on her shoulder, and turned, "Huh? Wuzzis?" Ranma took the proffered thermos, and opened it, "Hot water?"

"I want you to be a boy," Akane simply stated, staring at Ranma expectantly.

"Um, thanks." Ranma upended the thermos, returning himself to his rightful form, "That was pretty good forethought. My curse sometimes seems like it's a water magnet."

Akane merely nodded, "Come on, we better get going, let's take a short cut..." She led on, and then suddenly made a turn around a corner.

Ranma caught up with her, then paused, "Uh, the short cut is this dark, indescrept alleyway?"

Akane turned, and smiled brightly at Ranma, "We'll be finished in no time through here!"

"If you say so," Ranma hesitantly agreed, walking alongside Akane, as they ventured deeper into the alleyway, "Do you come this way often?"

Ranma didn't notice the way Akane's eyes remained hidden by her bangs, most likely because she wasn't turned towards him, "Why yes, I come through this way quite often during the night times, but sometimes it's convenient during the day."

"Isn't it dangerous for people to be walking through this at night?"

"I suppose so, tee hee."

Ranma paused for a split second, a bit startled by the giggle, "And what's that smell? It smells like something rotting..."

They both walked by a mound covered with a soiled old mattress spread, scaring the rats about it to hide under it, where their most recent food source was also hidden. Akane made a subtle glance towards the mound, her face twisting into an expression of distain, "Probably just some garbage, pay it no attention."

Ranma's nose wrinkled, "Well, the sooner we're out of there and away from the stench, the better."

"Don't worry, Ranma, you won't be whining for much longer," Akane stated, darkly, as her voice seemed to grow faint.

Ranma grew edgy at her tone, "What do you mean... and where did you go?"

"We're here, see?" Akane stepped out of the shadows Ranma didn't even notice her slipping into, and pointed to the exit of the alley, facing the Furinkan High School gates.

"Oh, hey, that didn't take long at all!" Ranma commented, Akane happily nodded. They both walked through the gates, suddenly gaining the attention of everyone in the schoolyard. Various expressions turned to frowns, shock, and pity. The ones wearing the latter two expressions went looking for either Nabiki or one of her associates, aiming to pay off their lost bets. From the description and pictures Nabiki showed them, the boy was recognized, and he made it unscathed to the school. The odds on that were too good to pass up.

"Wow," Nabiki herself whispered in awe, "No screams, no mad dash, no horrible disfigurations, they even came out of Line's End Alley." Nabiki decided that observing her sister and Ranma might prove interesting, and profitable.

"What's with all the stares?" Ranma enquired, trying to ignore the intense attention he was getting."

"New student," Akane explained, "Pay them no mind."

"Oh."

The raven haired girl nodded in approval, before making a beeline for a group of girls who watched her wearily approach. Ranma followed, concerned about the way they were looking at the girl he arrived with, until he and Akane were upon them. It was then apparent they weren't looking at Akane, but at him.

"Ah... hey, Akane..." one of the girls tentatively ventured, "Who's this?"

"Hey Yuka, Sayuri, Kanako!" Akane greeted cheerfully, "Oh, him?" The three girls nodded urging Akane on, "He's mine."

"Ah, I'm her... guest right now," Ranma explained, subtly glaring at Akane's introduction of him, "Ranma Saotome."

"Hello Ranma, mind if we speak to you, away from Akane? Far... FAR away from Akane?"

"Yeah, we need to get you away from Akane... to speak to you."

"Uh... Akane... you mind?" Ranma enquired, wondering what this was all about.

"Yes, I do mind, because you're mine."

"Hey, I'm not yours!" Ranma retorted, "Just because our parents eng-"

"YOU THERE!"

Ranma and Akane paused, following everyone's gaze to the young man dressed in a gi and hakama, loosely gripping a bokken that rested on his shoulder, "Who, me?"

"Yes you, knave," the boy responded, now pointing the wooden sword at the pigtailed martial artist, as Akane set her book satchel on the ground, "How is it that you believe you are privileged enough to speak with Akane Tendou, she who has spurned all men, including Upperclassman Kuno of Junior group E, captain of the Kendou club, and the undefeated new star of the high school kendou world..."

He raised his bokken to the sky, striking a dramatic pose, "The Blue Thunder of Furinkan Hi-UGH!"

Ranma blinked, as Akane savagely sacked Kuno, slamming him into the ground with enough force to make most NFL players swear to playing golf for the rest of their days. He blinked again, as Akane brought her fist back, and brought it down with resounding force against Kuno's face. She then pulled her fist back again, and repeated the process, before setting into a steady rhythm.

"Akane..."

Akane had a good beat going, something you could dance to.

"Hey Akane..."

It's interesting how once you do set a rhythm with motion and breathing, you can keep going forever.

"AKANE!"

The girl in question paused, her bloodied fist raised for another strike, "Yes, Ranma?"

"I think he's dead now," Ranma commented, sarcastically.

"No, not yet," Akane argued, "his breathing is shallow, but it's still there."

Ranma rolled his eyes at how far Akane seemed to take the joke, "Whatever, you've been beating him for ten minutes, everyone's already gone inside."

"Ten minutes? WE'RE LATE!" Akane stood up, grabbed Ranma's hand with her bloodied one, and jerked him towards the school entrance.


Akane and Ranma stood in the hall, each holding a pair of water filled buckets. For most of the class period, neither spoke to each other, before curiosity got the best of him, "So, what was that all about, anyhow?"

The girl looked at Ranma, before sighing, and looking back out the window across from her, "A while back, Kuno made a proclamation that if anyone wanted to date me, they would have to defeat me in battle. After that, every morning most of the boys in school would gather in the front yard to fight me all at once." Akane huffed, "It got pretty irritating after a while."

"So... they stopped at least, right?" Ranma ventured, "What stopped them?"

"Someone had an accident every morning," Akane almost groaned, "Someone tripped on someone's weapon, someone had a weight crack open their skull, someone accidentally had their neck broken, someone got stabbed through the eye with a pencil..." Akane giggled slightly, "Once, someone even had got impaled on the flag pole."

"Whoa... that's... something."

"It sure was," Akane chirped, unnoticing of Ranma's queer eyed glare at her.


"The girl is nuts," Ranma effectively decided, as he sat cross legged in the Tendou training hall, "But there's something else really weird about her, other than her just being plain weird."

With a sigh, he leaned back, laying on the wooden floor, "Well, she's pretty cute, at least for a tomboy. If Pops had engaged me to one of those uncute tomboy types I think I would be halfway back to China by now. And she seems pretty mindful of my curse; I think she wants me to stay a guy as much as I do."

Ranma sat up, on his head, resting upside down in lotus position, "I guess it could work out, if we were to get married, which we're not. But... something just keeps nagging me about her. Ah well, guess I'll find out in time, I mean it's not like she's gonna kill me or something."

Ranma blinked, as he caught a glimpse of the shrine, before his face scowled, "Why is my picture up there?"

:THUMP:

Ranma rolled back to being upright, finding Akane blinking owlishly back at him, before she quickly turned around, having to adjust the large blanket wrapped mass to trail down the steps behind her out the training hall, "Sorry, didn't realize anyone was in here."

Ranma double blinked, "Yeah, something definitely weird about her"


"Well... a week late, but I finished. Now it's time for some home booze."

"Um, Mr. Froze..."

"It's 'WFROSE', Kasumi"

"I'm sorry, Mr. WFROSE, but not to criticize your writing or creative capabilities... but perhaps you can give Akane a skin rash, or something?"

"Uh, why?"

"Why? Well, perhaps it's because sis one year ended up a mindless zombie, and last year you ended me with a damn KNIFE in my back, we were hoping sis here..." The girl with the chin length hair pointed to the girl dancing like an idiot in celebration that had just escaped the firing squad, "...would get something more than being an adorable sociopath, you non-impartial little jerk!"

"Yes, perhaps you could at least... well give her a slight cold or something?"

WFROSE sighed, and slumped in his chair before speaking, "Look, I'm seven days late for Halloween with this damn story because between my Capoeira classes and twelve hour workdays, I barely have any time to myself. I'm tired, I'm irritable, and I need to do laundry. Not that you two lovely women are a treasure to hang around from time to time during my moments of psychosis or drunken stupors, but we all well know my greatest pet peeve is listening to people bitch..."

"Yes, but..."

"Look, you want me to give Akane fair treatment?"

Both girls nodded.

"Fine." WFROSE reached under his bed, and turned to Akane...

:BLAM:

Both girls watched in shock, as their sister flew back several feet, before landing head first on the ground. After several moments, they turned to WFROSE with shocked expressions.

"Now," WFROSE started, almost conversationally, "I've solved your problem. I hope this makes you happy, because if I hear one more complaint, I don't think I would be able to go any further on Akane's end... which means I'll have to silence them from the other end..." WFROSE gestured to both girls with the barrel of the Colt Anaconda being held loosely in his grip, "Kapeesh?"

Both girls nodded vigorously.

"Good, I'm glad we could come to this understanding with such minimal effort. Anyhow, happy belated Halloween everyone."