Part IV. Conclusion

To a normal observer, the dojo might have seemed empty; aside from
myself standing in the middle of the room and the calligraphy hanging
on the back wall, the place looked devoid of life. But that was the
idea, and I knew better: this was my class I was teaching. It was a
game of hide-and-seek, in plain sight, one of the most basic of the
ninja techniques, and yet one of the most difficult to master. Still,
this was my advanced class, and they were doing well... except for a
slight rustling noise in the corner.

I walked over to the corner and stomped my foot. There was a yelp of
pain, and a young boy stood up, grasping his hand.

"Hey, wha'dja do that for, anyway?"

I gave him a mildly reproving glower. "Because I *could*, Kyouma.
I could actually find you, and that is a fatal mistake for a ninja;
you know that. Now, I didn't mean to hurt you so much (why don't you
head to the living room and ask Auntie Akane to bandage that up for
you), and I apologize. But do try to remember that invisibility means
you need to be inaudible, too." I let my expression soften, and I got
down on one knee to face him directly. "Kyouma, you're an excellent
student. You're picking up techniques even your father never learned
to master, and with the same speed that he had. You're one of the
youngest to ever reach this level of expertise in the ninja arts.
And I've got the advantage of experience -- it takes a ninja to catch
a ninja, more or less. An ordinary person would never have seen you
there. But you've still got to be careful. When you're in ninja
mode, assume there's always a fellow ninja out there that might be
able to detect it. If you can hear yourself moving, so can he."
I smiled warmly. "Anyway, you go get that hand looked at, okay?"

He returned my smile. It didn't take much to cheer Kyouma up; at any
rate, he was as impervious to pain as his father was. He ran out
the dojo door, nearly tripping over one of his fellow students as he
left. I smiled at the student Kyouma tripped over. "You can get up
now, Hideo. If Kyouma missed you, it's definately a sign you're doing
well." I looked around the room, and clapped my hands together. "In
fact, everybody get up. That's good work, all of you. But let that
be lesson to each of you. Always assume there's another ninja out
there, and you have to fool *him*." I received an audible glare from
a pair of kunoichis in my class, and corrected myself quickly. "Or
*her*. Yes... sorry about that.

"Dismissed, everyone." and in a flash, the room was indeed empty,
save for myself. There were two hours to kill before Akane's own
martial arts class was to begin arriving; I decided to check up on
her and Kyouma in the meanwhile.


Soun Tendo had been as good as his word that fateful day. Akane and
Ranma did indeed get married, as he insisted upon.

Just not to each other.

What with everyone suddenly coming to an epiphany about Ukyou's
feelings toward Ranma, and the pain of her impending loss, the
assembly rose up en masse to favor Ukyou's rights to Ranma. No one
could have argued, even before the onions took effect, that she didn't
have a legitimate claim to his affections, right down to the fact that
a dowry actually had changed hands -- something that Akane couldn't
claim yet.

Once they had worked their magic, though, no one was about to take
Akane's side on the matter at all. Except me.

"Please, people! Listen to me! Now you know the pain of loss that
Ukyou... sama... has been going through all this time..." It was the
last time I would ever refer to her like that; even then, it had
already become difficult to squeeze out the "-sama" designation.
"...but don't you understand? This is what Akane will endure once
you give Ranma over to Ukyou! Forever!"

A hand rested lightly on my shoulder. Akane.

My heart broke inside of me as I saw her tears. They were for Ukyou
as much as anyone's, since she had tasted the tainted okonomi-yaki.
But I knew they were also for herself.

"They're not listening, Konatsu... it's over. Thank you for trying,
but I'm afraid Ranma is going to be hers."

"I'm sorry Akane... I did everything I could."

"I know... but there's one more thing you could do..."


Some Western comedian once made a joke about weddings: something
about how the bride is the unique central character of the ceremony.
The groom and the rest of the guys, on the other hand, are pretty
much interchangable: they even dress the same. So while the groom is
asked, "Do you take so-and-so to be your bride?" the bride is merely
asked, "Do you take this man?" It could be the groom, it could be the
best man...

...Or it could be somebody else entirely. Like me.


"Akane Tendo, do you take this... man?" Akane nodded, as if to
confirm the preist's questioning tone. Well, I could understand.
As far a dress sense was concerned, I did look more like a bride than
a groom, "...to be your wedded husband?"

I could only stare at her. Did she realize what she was about to do?

"I do." ...Akane!


Even with the three of us there, the dojo had never been emptier than
this before.

When the wedding guests had departed from the scene of the ceremony,
Kasumi and I had carried a profusely weeping Mr. Tendo to his room.
I returned to the dojo find Nabiki, standing at the entrance, gazing
out into space, and Akane, on her knees, by the makeshift altar.

I stared at Nabiki first, trying to read her; a difficult task under
the best of circumstances, now nearly impossible. The best guess as
to her emotional state I could muster was... confusion. I doubted
whether even *she* knew how she felt. I waved a hand before her
glassy-eyed face. "Nabiki?"

She turned to me, slowly. "Isn't the pain supposed to go away?"

I could only shrug. "Maybe it's just being replaced."

"Replaced?" Her mask turned quizzical. It was at that moment that
Akane took a deep, choking breath in between quiet sobs. The look of
horrified realization grew on Nabiki's face -- the same look that
developed when she first partook of the fateful onion. "Oh my gosh...

She rushed to her sister's side, agonized. "Akane... I'm so sorry...
I had no idea what I was doing... I... I..." Her voice trailed off as
Akane looked up at her.

A bluish glow began to form around the younger girl, and the tears
evaporated on her face as she answered. "Get. Away. From. Me."
Nabiki sat there on her knees, eye to eye with her sister. She was
almost too stunned to move. Akane's voice rose in fury. "NOW!"

Nabiki got up and scurried out of the dojo. Akane stood and watched
her sister as she ran out of the Tendo compound entirely. Kami alone
knew where she was headed.

Now Akane turned her aura on me. "You, too."

I stood my ground. "I can't do that, Akane."

"I said GO!"

Several years ago, that would have been more than enough to send me
scurrying off in the same manner Nabiki had left. After my father
died, my stepmother and her two daughters beat me into total
submission. Whatever they said, went. Immediately. No matter
how distasteful, dirty or dangerous. The woman who rescued me
from that false family, however, taught me to think for myself,
and that orders were not always to be obeyed without question,
and sometimes defiance was better for all concerned. At this
moment, she was never more right.

And yet... I was about to put that knowledge to its best use to
benefit her own victim.

"And I said... NO!" I strode over to Akane and put my hands firmly
on her shoulders. She struggled to escape my grasp, but I held onto
her tightly. "Akane, I'm not going anywhere. You're hurt... you need
someone to be with you right now...

"Like it or not, I'm going to be that someone for you now. You asked
me to be, remember...? Come on... let's get you to your room. It's
been a long, hard day for all of us; you need your rest." I took her
hand to lead her out of the dojo.

She yanked her hand away and dropped back to her knees. "I'm not
going anywhere. Leave me alone."

I knelt down beside her. "Fine," I said quietly. "Then I'll stay here,

A silent eon passed between us in that empty room. I watched as the
light flowing into the dojo from outdoors began to redden, then
disappear. As darkness began its final descent, Akane collapsed
into my lap, weeping afresh. I gathered her up in my arms, and began
to carry her to her room.


I sat by her bedside as she cried herself to sleep, seemingly unaware
of my presence. It occurred to me that my former mistress must have
had no idea how much Akane really cared for Ranma. Certainly, if I
had a yen for every time Akane called him 'baka,' I'm sure I would be
wealthier than Nabiki. I imagine that Uky... my mistress sort of
assumed that since neither of them liked each other very much, and
since it was evident that Ranma liked *her* (at the very least, as a
friend), all would be better served by she and Ranma getting together
rather than him and Akane.

Trouble is, sometimes just because one doesn't like another person
doesn't mean they can't love each other. And Akane had just lost her
dearest love, a man whom she just so happened not to like very much.

The human mind has a nearly limitless capacity for self-deception.
I guess to a certain extent, it's what keeps us sane in the direst
situations, allowing us to cling to hope even against all odds. It
was that self-deception, after all, that kept... my former mistress...
going in the days leading up to the wedding: somehow he'd come to his
senses and realize that she was truly the one for her. She had
blinded herself to Akane's love for her Ran-chan.

Akane, on the other hand, must never have even considered the
possibility of any of Ranma's fiancees disrupting the wedding;
well, maybe she had, but I could probably state without fear of
contradiction that any of them could ever succeed in carrying him
off. Of course, neither had Ranma...

But now... now that the truth had reared its awful head over her,
Akane was in a fragile state. I'd seen it happen before...

I wondered if she regretted her own action...

A gentle snort shook me from my contemplations. Akane had rolled
slightly in her sleep, and was now snoring quietly. I decided to
slip out and get someone's permission to move in... I doubted I'd
be welcome at the Ucchan anymore.


Kasumi met me at the foot of the stairs. Her eyes were ringed with
concern. "How is she, Konatsu?"

I shrugged. "I don't know, Kasumi-san, but I think someone's going
to have to keep an eye on her for a while. This has been a terrible
shock she's undergone today, and I imagine that the next few days
and weeks are going to be very hard on her."

Kasumi smiled. "Well, from the looks of things, she may well be in
good hands. It's good to know she has a husband who's really
concerned about her welfare..."

I must have had a puzzled look on my face, because she almost broke
out laughing at me. "Konatsu-kun... you don't remember? I'm talking
about you..."

Then her look turned serious. "Maybe you'd better go to the Ucchan
and collect your things, Konatsu-kun. You're living here, now, you
know... and somehow, I think Ukyou will want you out of there at
any rate."

"Uh... all right. Thank you, Kasumi-san."


The walk to and from the restaurant was as long as trek as ever I
had taken. It wasn't that I was worried about what would become of
me. Despite having to leave Ukyou's service so abruptly, I had found
myself a new home within the Tendo household. No longer would I be
a servant; I was family now.

I would have been more worried about how Akane felt about this had
it not been at her insistance. And I guess, given the circumstances,
it was all she could do; if not Ranma, then she would accept the
adequate(?) substitute that I provided. If it truly was her will,
who was I to refuse her?

But was it truly her will...?


I could normally find my way to the Ucchan blindfolded, but tonight,
I was having difficulty. Not because I didn't know where it was,
or perhaps I should saywhere it was supposed to be. Even in the dark,
I knew my way flawlessly. But once I stood before the storefront
that used to be the Ucchan, I had a difficult time recognizing it.
The signs were gone, the windows were barren; could she have
dismantled the place so fast?

I placed my hand on the entrance, and the door practically fell open.
The place had been almost completely dismantled, and in a hurry, too.
The grill that served as a countertop was gone, and all the cabinet
doors hung open, showing to all the world that they were completely

In the kitchen, again the scene was one of desolation. Everything
that could have been picked up and taken was gone. I found my few
worldly possessions untouched in a rear corner, and I gently placed
them onto my futon, rolled it up, strapped it to my back, and prepared
to return to the dojo.

Then, I saw it. Lying in the floor a few paces from the walk-in
cooler, was an onion. A Bayakala Onion. I picked it up, and looked
at it as intently as I dared. Again, the juices began to sting my

To think, this harmless-looking vegetable had caused so much trouble.
I left via the back entrance, and found myself facing the trash, still
lined up in preparation for Monday's pickup. I weighed the onion in
my hand, and threw it as hard as I could against the fence upon which
the garbage leaned. The onion hit the fence and shattered with a
satisfying SMACK.


When I arrived at the dojo, there was a faint glow from the living room
to greet me. I crossed over to discover its source -- in any case, it
was on my way to the guest room, from which Genma Saotome had so recently
been cast out.

The glow turned out to be the television set, showing some late-night
soap opera. Akane was sitting in front of it, eyes glazed.

I walked over to her. "Akane-san... shouldn't you be in bed? I thought
you were sleeping."

"I was, Konatsu-kun..." The first words came out sleepily enough, but
they began spilling out in a torrent so fast that Akane's lips could
barely keep up, "but I had this terrible nightmare. I dreamed that
Ukyou had broken up the wedding, and had convinced everyone that she
deserved Ranma more than I did, and they got married instead, and I was
left with... with..." And now the words began to catch in her throat,
as she realized what time it was, and who she was talking to, and that...
"...It wasn't a dream, was it, Konatsu-kun?"

I knelt down in front of her. "I'm afraid not, Akane-san. It looks like
my mistress won him. It wasn't fair, and it wasn't right, but what's
done is done. I'll be here for you, if you need me; somehow, I'm pretty
sure you will. But you'll get through this... I swear it. At any rate,
you need to get your sleep. You've got to pull yourself together, and
that means getting your life back to normal as quickly as possible, okay?"

She nodded, and stood up. A faint smile crossed her lips. "That's a
girl. Get some rest; I'll see you in the morning..."

"Where are you going with your things, Konatsu-kun...?"

I gave my... bride? a puzzled look. "I'm putting them in the guest
room, Akane-san."

Her smile was brave and sad. "Konatsu-kun... you're no guest. You're
my husband now. Take those things into my room, why don't you?" My
heart ached for her.


I did as she asked me to; I went to her room and unrolled my futon at
the foot of her bed. And I slept there, at her feet, for the next
year and a half. By day, we operated the dojo together -- I taught
classes on the ninja arts, and she instructed students in the more
conventional arts such as kenpo and karate.

The days and weeks wore on, and while it was not always easy to
encourage Akane to eat and exercise, I did what I could to help
keep her strength up and her mind off the past events. I started
to accompany her to school, and found myself sitting in the seat
that Ranma had vacated. Occasionally, I would glance at Akane, to
check her mood. More often than not, I found that she had been
looking at me already; but when I turned to check on her, she would
look away absently... quickly, but not quickly enough.


In the meantime, Kasumi had gotten married to Dr. Tofu -- which came
as a surprise to no one, except for the fact that the good doctor
finally screwed up the courage to ask for her -- and Nabiki had gone
off to Tohai University with a full scholarship; although thankfully,
she still came by occasionally to review the dojo's books. She never
charged for her services, either; I believe it might have been as much
a matter of penance as filial piety. In either case, I was quite
grateful for her assistance.

Not much was ever said about our sleeping arrangements -- Akane
really never said anything about it, and I wasn't about to press
her about her feelings toward it. I did know I wasn't her first
choice for a husband. In fact, I knew there were at least two or
three others besides Ranma who I think would have been preferable
to me. And so, I vowed I would never touch her -- I wanted to
give her an out, if she so chose.


There was one night, several months later, when her little pet P-chan
came back to her after a long absence. I was lying on my futon in the
dark, staring at the ceiling, when I heard a squeak and a thump. Not
long afterward, there was a tapping on my shoulder. I rolled onto my
side and stared into a pair of large white eyes that were asking "What
the hell are *you* doing here?"

I decided it would be easier to answer a human than a pig. I carefully
picked him up, and carried him to the bathroom.

Through the steam, Ryoga's expression was glum. "I heard about you and
Akane. And about Ranma and Ukyou."

"I'm sorry, Ryoga. I did what I could to break it up. And I know you
cared about Akane..."

"Do you know HOW MUCH I cared for her?!" Ryoga's temper flared and he
bared his fangs at me.

I looked around frantically for something to deaden the sound.
Finding nothing, I waved my hands at him to keep it down. "Look,
Ryoga... she asked me. I'm sure she would have asked you if you'd
been there... maybe she still will."

"She married YOU, you little freak of nature! It's too late for me!"

"Shh! No, it isn't! We can still get an annullment, if she wants you."

All the anger drained from him in an instant. "A-a-an... annullment?"

I nodded. "Well, yeah. I've never touched her."

"You're kidding! It's been nearly a year! I was sure that... you and
Akane... must have..." He was turning bright red and fidgeting.

I shook my head. "I couldn't do that to her. I don't know if she
ever really wanted me."

"You just said she asked you to be her husband..."

"Yeah, well... I don't really know if she meant it, really... I just
happened to be the one guy there on her side..."

Ryoga looked at me. Stared, actually. For a long time. The darkness
begin to lift from his eyes, but the cloudiness remained; a sadness
I could not quite understand. Then he stood up. "I think I'd better
get my clothes."

"Let me take care of it. She's got a spare dresser you can put them

"No, Konatsu... I've got to go. If I had been in your shoes, I would
not have had your honor, your willpower. I would have taken her that
first night, had I the strength. I would have known I wasn't her
first choice, but I wouldn't have cared. That is not the sort of
conduct worthy of her. You've earned the right to her, Konatsu.
You belong in the spot I've been occupying these past few years.
I suggest you take it; I shall vacate it for its rightful owner."

"But Ryoga... what about P-chan? She loves that little piggy of hers.
How could I take your place?"

Ryoga shrugged. "What *about* P-chan? Akari loves him, too." Oh,
yeah... I'd forgotten about her. "And if that's the only way Akane
can have me... it's no good, anyway."

"Well, why don't you stay the night, in any case? I can call the
Unryuu farm in the morning, and have her come and pick you up. That
way, you won't get lost."

"I'd appreciate that, Konatsu."


There came a day when, after I had finished with my classes, she met
me in the living room. She wasn't nearly ready for her class; instead
of her traditional gi, she was dressed in a simple yukata. It was not
typical for her, and I knew something was up.

I didn't have to wait long to find out what it was.

"Konatsu... I want to have a baby."

"Uh... a baby?"

"Uh-huh. Don't you remember? We're supposed to be creating an heir
to the Anything-Goes school of martial arts."

"I... uh..." I wasn't prepared to deal with this. I was more than
ready and willing to *raise* a child with her; but... "How do you
propose to go about accomplishing this?

Her smile quirked its way up one side of her face. "How do *you*
think, Konatsu?"

I don't believe I'd ever completely facefaulted before. But now, my
whole *body* faulted, and the next thing I knew, I was picking myself
up off the floor.

"Konatsu...?" The smile was gone, and a worried expression had taken
over. She was worried... about me!

I hauled myself up to a sitting position. "Akane-san... do you realize
what you're saying?"

"More than you know, Konatsu..." She undid her yukata, and let it fall
to the floor... she was wearing nothing underneath. I had never seen
her like this before. Oh, I had had the opportunity, I'm sure -- but
I never allowed myself to look before. It had all been part and parcel
of my vow that I not take advantage of her.

And here she was... standing before me like this... asking me to...

I'm sure there were tears running down my face. "Akane-san... b-b-but
this means that..."

"...that you and I really will be husband and wife in more than name.
I know." She knelt in front of me. "Konatsu... please. You've never
even touched me like this..." and she took my hand and placed it on her
breast, "since we were married. Don't you find me attractive?"

I pulled my hand away as if I had touched a hot poker. But my hand
wouldn't let me pull away entirely... *Akane* was afraid *I* didn't
like *her*? "I... I -- yes! I do! But... what about the others?"

"Others? What others?" She looked genuinely confused. I had never
told her of my vow.

As I did, she began to undo the knots in my obi. "Konatsu... now I
understand why you've been keeping such distance. But you don't need
to do that anymore. Ryoga, Shinnosuke, Ki-rin... none of them were
there when I needed them. You were. And you have been ever since.
Isn't that enough?

"So now, I need one more thing from you... that is, if you're willing
to give it to me..."

I was.

And I did.


The first few times were tentative; neither of us really understood
what we were doing. And to add to that, I was still a bit nervous
about turning myself into a lesbian for real. Somehow, I knew I
wasn't ready for this part of marriage. Not as a man, anyway.

But we continued our efforts, and it wasn't long before it ceased to
be a duty we did for the sake of the dojo; rather, it was a joy we
looked forward to whenever we could. When I was inside of her, I
knew that this was what it really felt like to be a man, and decided
to renounce my girlish ways for good. I also came to the conclusion
that Ranma had no clue what he had lost out on...

I didn't know what had possessed her to ask that we begin relating to
each other fully as husband and wife, but whatever it was, I was
grateful for it.


Nearly fifteen years passed before I discovered the source of
Akane's sudden outpouring of passion. During that time, we had
succeeded in producing an heir, a beautiful little girl we named
Junko. She grew up to be a very pretty child, and quite popular
in the midst of a great boomlet of children; many friends who had
been at that fateful wedding had decided, independantly and
simultaneously, to have children, too. So Junko had plenty of
friends her age, and shone out amongst them like a little human
star... or am I sounding like a doting parent?

It was a Sunday, a cold, rainy day even for Nerima, when a vaguely
familiar-looking boy, a little older than Junko, came pounding on
the door of the dojo. I let him in, and called for Junko to come
downstairs; I assumed it was one of her numerous suitors intending
to take her on a date.

When she came into the living room, she had a puzzled look on her
face. "What is it, Father?"

This, in turn, puzzled me. I turned to the boy, who was as perplexed
as I was. "Didn't you come here to see Junko?"

He gestured at her. "Junko? Is that her name?" Now I was *really*
confused. I turned to my daughter, who waved her hands frantically in
front of her, and mouthing 'I've never seen him before in my life!'
The boy resumed speaking, and my attention returned to him.

"Naw, I wasn't lookin' for her. I was lookin' for the Tendo dojo."

I nodded. "Well, you've come to the right place. Have you come to

"Dunno. It's just that my old man useta always talk about how great
things were around here, and I guess I figgered that I could do worse
than come here, now that I'm on my own."

'My old man...' The turn of phrase sounded familiar... "On your own,
did you say?"

"Yeah, I've ditched 'em. Pop's always talkin' about turning me into a
'man among men,' and Mom's always threatening to bring *his* mother
over if he tries. So I saved 'em the trouble and headed out."

The pieces were starting to fall into place. "You wouldn't be..."

He extended a hand, nonchalantly. "Name's Kyouma Saotome." -- it was
limp and clammy; of course, that could be just from all that time in
the cold rain. I bowed to him, and he dropped his hand and followed
suit rather hurriedly. "Sorry 'bout this..."

I straightened up. "...You're Ranma's boy?"

He looked up. "You knew my Pop?" Then he blinked and muttered half
to himself. "Well, duh. Of *course* you would. He lived here for
what? Three, four years?"

I smiled. "Something like that. You're welcome to stay here, if you
so choose."


Several years went by, and I was amazed at how quickly Kyouma picked
up on the ninja arts. He did have an advantage to my other students,
of course, in that he was around the dojo 24 hours a day, watching
me and Akane...

...and Junko. Over time, the two of them took quite well to each other,
and I got some satisfaction out of the thought that perhaps the vows
that Mr. Tendo and Mr. Saotome had once made of uniting the families
to run this dojo might actually come true... a generation later than
originally intended.

Pity Mr. Tendo couldn't understand...


I brought a bowl of miso soup into his room. "Here you are, Father.
Please drink this... you need to keep up your strength."

Mr. Tendo would join us for dinner, of course, but in the meantime,
we needed to ply him with salt and liquid; he had never ceased crying
since that day.

He took the soup from me with a grateful smile. "You're so good to
your old father, Kasumi." Unfortunately, the emotional drain the
onions had caused was beginning to take its toll on him. Dr. Tofu
could not recommend anything else for us save to keep him comfortable
and as happy as he could be under the circumstances, and to make sure
he did not lose too much salt or water.

He drained the soup at a single draught. I smiled. In some ways, it
was good that he thought I was Kasumi; in his former mental state, he
would never have eaten anything that Akane had prepared. Of course,
one's skills can improve vastly over the course of a decade of practice,
but his memory of her reputation had prevented him from eating much of
her cooking for a long time. It was only as his memory began to erode
with the emotional drain that he began to consume her cooking with an
enthusiasm once reserved for Kasumi's meals. Of course, if he thought
it was Kasumi who was bringing it to him...

"As always, magnificent, my dear. You do your dear mother proud."
Through his tears, he was capable of a broad smile, but it only would
last for a moment; the memory of his dear wife was enough to send his
emotions into yet another tailspin, and his crying resumed in full

"Thank you, Father." I took the empty bowl from him, and bowed deeply
as I backed out of the room.


Once Akane had finished patching up Kyouma's hand, he and Junko headed
out to the shooping plaza to hang out with the rest of their friends.
We watched the two of them depart, holding each other's hand; my eyes
were fixed on Kyouma. "Do you ever have any regrets, Akane-san? That
could've been your son, you know."

"I don't think so. Back then, I may have figured I was settling for
some kind of second-best when I asked you to take Ranma's place. But
I'm starting to believe I got better than I ever deserved." I blushed,
but she continued. "No, it's true. You listen to me, you put up with
my tirades, you offer a shoulder to cry on when I need one... you
*know* I'd never be so lucky with that 'baka'." She smiled as she
recalled the 'pet' name she had for him. I smirked within myself --
another yen! -- but I wasn't quite convinced she wasn't still carrying
a torch for him. Still, who was I to complain, when she lavished me
with so much praise?

"Well, what about that promise between your father and his? An heir
to the dojo and all that?"

"What of it? The dojo's in good hands, and so is Dad. Besides, I
think Kyouma's got a thing for our Junko. We may be a generation
behind, but there's always a possibility..." she smiled.

"Yeah, but I won't go making any stupid promises like that."


"Anyway, you know that my class starts in an hour and a half..."

"Yes, I do."

"...and since, Kyouma and Junko have headed off to the plaza, I
thought maybe we could..." Her voice trailed off.

My turn to smile. "I like the sound of that."

She headed for the stairs. "Come on up in about ten minutes, okay?"
She had a spring in her step that made her still seem like she was
only twenty. And still as beautiful, too...


Upstairs, Akane was waiting in the bedroom. I stood outside, a sentry
guarding this harem of one. Her voice floated out to me: "Are you
ready, 'Natsu-chan?"

I loosened my obi, and walked in. I knelt down by the bed, where she
reclined, naked as the day she was born. She was a marvellous sight...
Ranma hardly knows what he's missing. I prostrated my face and arms
onto the bed before this magnificent sight, before the woman who
really and truly loved and wanted me. "I am ready to please you,
my mistress Akane-sama."

She sat up abruptly and lifted my face from the mattress. There was a
bit of a pout on her face. "Oh, please, Konatsu-chan. Knock off the
'mistress' bit, will you?" Then she noticed the grin on my face. "Hm.
Well, if you insist, mabye sometime I'll wear some leather or whatever.
But for now..." and she shifted herself over to the wall a bit, and
patted the portion of mattress she had just vacated, "just get up here,
will you?"

I could not wipe the smile off my face. "Your wish is my command, my
dear." I kissed her as I climbed onto the bed next to her.


Author's notes...

Wow. That's it. Finally. This story has taken me places I never
expected it to go, but it's been a most interesting ride...

I want to dedicate this story to 'Rei-sama', my very own real-life
Konatsu; Akane's sentiments are essentially mine. Once I left college
without a serious significant other, I assumed I was going to spend
the rest of my life alone (kinda sounds like the 'real' Ukyou, ne?).
After some thought, I decided that of all the friends I ever had, if
I were required to choose one to spend the rest of my life with, it
would be Rei-sama. And I sent a letter to that effect, assuming all
the while that it would scare Rei completely away. But much to my
astonishment and delight, my sentiments were returned to me, and we
were married shortly thereafter (I say shortly ^_^;; I had to wait
for two years until Rei got out of college), and we've been together
for nearly six years and counting...

I got far better than I expected or deserved. And for those of you who
wonder about 'Natsu-chan's erm, leanings, let me say this: you strip us
down to the bare essentials, and 'Natsu-chan's as much a man as I am a
woman. What more could I ask for?

My blessings go with you all. Until next time, I remain yours.

Itsu mo,
Ucchan ^_^