Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and all the characters, trademarks etc. belong to Rumiko Takahashi and to their other rightful owners. To sum it up: I don't own Ranma

"Spoken"

-Thought-

D-Day, February 14th… V-Day, March 14th

The Prelude, in which Ranma plans for Valentine's Day…

Saotome Ranma was walking exactly 1,011187 meters …about, give or take a nanometer… behind his fiancée, slightly to her left side. He had calculated the distance during math class to alleviate his boredom since he didn't sleep at school anymore. Ranma had actually started to pay some attention at school and had coaxed Akane into helping him with his homework and it showed, his grades weren't abysmal anymore… only nearly so.

Smiling ruefully he contemplated on the changes that had occurred in his life after the whole Saffron incident and the failed wedding. He still had the multiple fiancées issue, something that wasn't going to work itself out and the poor excuse of a father he had wasn't really helping either. Ryoga was still being a pest, he had showed up as 'P-chan' only a week after the wrecked wedding and had promptly caused trouble between him and Akane.

-That damn bacon breath… He said he'd go to Akari but still comes back to trouble me and trying to cuddle against Akane's breasts. Served him right when Akari caught him red handed and dumped him, now only if the tomboy would figure out that her 'widdle P-chan' is not exactly what he seems to be. That and the 'Ranma prepare to die!' and 'Ranma it's all your fault!' act is getting really old, I mean seriously… how is it my fault that Akari dumped him?-

Ranma would have scowled but decided against it... if you didn't count the usual irritants that were part of his life, you could say that things had gotten a lot better. He looked at Akane's back and smiled slightly, they had gotten along considerably better after Jusendo… they really hadn't spoken about their relationship, but had formed a sort of silent agreement between the two of them. That, and Ranma now had two allies helping him, Kasumi and surprisingly his mother…

-Flashback-

It was a day after the failed wedding when Ranma entered the kitchen, where Kasumi was bustling about, going through her motions while preparing yet another of her mouth watering feasts. Ranma also noted that his mother was there helping Kasumi by chopping up some vegetables, he shrugged not really caring whether his mother heard him or not. Kasumi noted his somewhat troubled, yet determined look and asked. "Can I help you Ranma-kun?"

His mother looked at him when she heard this. Ranma only nodded, and then began to put his thoughts to words. "Ano Kasumi-chan… you know that ah, I'm not too good with talking an' stuff. You know because that stupid panda raised me to be a douche bag, he really didn't teach me anything besides hitting stuff so I was wondering…"

He never got to finish when his mother began to caress her Katana suggestively and said "Now Ranma… it's not manly to blame your shortcomings on others, even if they were the resul…"

A vein popped on Ranma's forehead, this was exactly what pissed him off the most… everyone, aside from Kasumi and to an extent Akane, just wanted him to do things and used threats, imposed guilt or whatnot to try and make him do what they wanted. It never was about what he wanted, ever… Something just snapped in his mind when his own mother of all people was trying to do that. He got really angry and yelled "SHUT UP!"

Nodoka was shaken by the sudden outburst and tried to point out that it wasn't 'manly' to yell at your own mother, Ranma however would have none of that. "Would you cut that fucking shit out already mother." he narrowed his eyes. "You are just like the rest of them, if you want me to do something you don't even bother to ask, you simply caress that damn sword and state that it's manly to do whatever it is you want." He lowered his voice. "It ends now, one way or the other… two weeks ago I killed using the art, I killed to save my fiancée. Not only that… I killed a being that was supposedly immortal, a phoenix god of all things…"

He sighed and set his face in a determined mask "If that's not manly enough for you then get your damn Katana and lop my head off already. If it is then just shut the hell up about the damn contract and try to act like a freakin mother you are supposed to be."

Now Nodoka Saotome was a proud and collected woman, but no amount of pride or self control could stop her from reacting the way she did. She jerked as if shot when the harsh words his own son had said sunk in… then images of herself hanging the damnable contract over his head, manipulating him to do whatever it was she wished him to do. Eyes brimming with tears she dropped the Katana as if it was burning and then rushed out of the kitchen leaving a trail of tears on her wake.

Ranma felt like crap when he began to calm down, he had lost control, which was something he really hated. Granted, the last few weeks had been bad but still… he then felt a soft hand touch his shoulder. "Ranma-kun… don't worry about it, I'll talk to her when she has had some time to calm down." Kasumi smiled gently at the boy. "Now if you would please finish chopping those vegetables…"

-End Flashback-

Yeah, things certainly had changed after that… Nodoka after calming down had torn the contract before Ranma and then burned the shreds, something that she also asked he keep from his father so that the part time panda was easier to control. She proved to be apt in controlling the meddling fathers, whenever they began to plan for yet another way to get their wayward children together Nodoka would begin caressing the naked blade of the Saotome family sword… a sight that for some reason always drove Genma into fits of nervous sweating.

And now he was plotting… while most people would say that Ranma was incapable of deep thought, something that amazed him to no ends. Seriously he wasn't stupid, just… well he really had lacked a proper role model while growing up, as someone who tosses his own son to a pit of starved cats, thinks that going to school is a waste of time and has questionable morals isn't exactly best parent material. So Ranma wasn't a moron and besides, he'd started to treat his life as a martial arts challenge… and Saotome Ranma didn't lose, ever.

He really didn't even notice that they had arrived at Furinkan High, or that he had punted the 'true blunder' into the school wall, not many noticed that actually since it was business as usual. Ranma became more aware when he suddenly found himself sitting in classroom, staring at Akane's back with a concentrated look. -Akane, it was all about Akane… The doc was right, she really is a sweet girl when she lets it show, though it took me long enough to figure it out.- They still fought but it was more like a verbal sparring instead of vicious insulting, rarely escalating into anything physical… rarely and thus Ranma had stopped earning frequent flyer bonuses from Mallet Airways.

He smiled wistfully, thinking back to the pivotal turning point in their 'relationship'. All it took was a little mustered courage and an apologetic "Akane… you know I don't mean those things I say about you, right?" when they were walking to school and a frantic "Whatever you do, don't throw water on us, if and when that bimbo tries to latch on me… I'm liable to seriously hurt her if I slip into the Neko-ken…" when they tried to run away from an amorous Shampoo only moments later.

Shampoo, along with the lost-boy, was one of the more irritating aspects in his life. She just didn't get the message… oh he had tried and sure enough she had only blinked and then started the whole 'Wo ai ni… airen' routine as if nothing had happened. When he'd tried again, this time with more force she had flown of the handle and started ranting about how he, as a male should be 'obedient' and come to Joketsuzoku with her on the spot. She was also most likely candidate to try and kill off Akane, which was the very reason Ranma had swallowed his pride and had offered to train Akane in the art.

He cast a last longing look at his tomboyish fiancée and then began to go through his plan, trying to find faults in it, exploit any weaknesses if any… and to do the same for his backups should the craziness that was 'normal' for Nerima wreak havoc to his plan, he even had a contingency for your odd prince or the like coming to steal Akane for his bride. If the thing worked then he would have the tomboy for sure and the rest of the Nerima Wrecking Crew would be forced to deal with it, no more would he have hordes of fiancées or fiancée wannabes hounding after him. Now if someone would only commit the Kunos to a mental asylum…

The school day was over soon enough, time really flew when you were having fun… or when you tried to go through a masterful plan that would land you a fiancée, a plan that would require almost no talking… It irritated him to now end that despite all the lessons from Kasumi and his mother Ranma still had trouble expressing himself, especially to Akane. Shrugging mentally he gathered his books and walked out from the classroom right behind Akane, the trip home was uneventful and Ranma for once made it through the whole way without getting drenched.

------

After some sparring, during which Ranma actively instructed Akane… he still refused to hit her but did fight back and tag her if he found holes in her defences, it was dinner time. It was almost like a normal dinner with the exception that Ranma was eating normally, not fighting his father, who had learned not to try and take Ranma's food soon after the failed wedding… a glare from Kasumi, a splash of water, a platter of bamboo and a warning that anymore attempts to steal Ranma's food from him would result in bamboo dinners, was all that it took to stop the fights.

Ranma sniffed the miso soup before eating it and sure enough, it was made by Akane, it was by no means inedible as she had progressed in cooking just like she had progressed in the art… well maybe not as much as she had in the art. Still, Akane could now make simple dishes like soups and she also could cook rice without ruining it, if she was in a good mood that is, and she had recently started making pretty good cookies. Her garlic laced 'cookies' made a killer snack, actually and they served another purpose… Ranma had found out that Shampoo detested the smell of garlic and thus was much less prone to try and shove her tongue into his mouth if he had ingested the garlicky goodies.

After dinner it was time to do the homework, something that Ranma enjoyed immensely… not because he really liked solving differential equations or stuff like that, but because it was mostly uninterrupted time he got to spend with Akane. As an added bonus it also drove Ryoga absolutely mad, since Akane had tossed P-chan out after series biting incidents… and when he'd been allowed back in the room it had taken Ranma only a slight leaning towards Akane to drive the pig wild and teeth first into his arm. After that P-chan was always set out in the hallway during these study sessions.

So there they were up in Akane's room, sitting side by side and going through some more complex math problems. Or Akane went through them, seeing as Ranma was too giddy to really concentrate on the homework… it was time to start. He cast a furtive glance at his fiancée and asked. "So you going to ask Kasumi to help you make chocolate this year?" This caused Akane to shift her concentration from the homework to the pigtailed boy sitting next to her. "I mean, cause your cooking has been improving and all but you probably don't want to poison anyone you decide to give chocolate to…"

Ranma pointedly fixed his eyes to the math problems they had to solve. "So anyway, what's the answer to problem number five?" Akane blinked and then mumbled something incoherent while trying to figure out exactly what had happened. -Oh my god, did he just ask me, in a very roundabout way, to make him Valentine's day chocolate?- She was actually shell shocked, this was the closest thing to a admission of any kind of feelings she'd gotten from him since that day in Jusendo. She gaped at Ranma who seemed to be completely immersed in his math problems, an image that was made somewhat incredulous seeing as he had the wrong page open and all.

She smiled evilly and pointed the fact out to Ranma who blushed furiously confirming her suspicions. -He does want me to make him that chocolate… the baka, why can't he just ask me directly? Maybe he's paranoid about someone hearing, if, heavens preserve us, our fathers heard him asking we would married in an instant.-

This was indeed the very reason Ranma was being as vague as possible, the unwritten law of chaos, or the 'Saotome Ranma theorem' clearly stated that should he ask Akane for some chocolate directly, it would be heard by at least one parent and one fiancée and/or one of the other random crazies that were norm in Nerima. He had also planned for the possibility that Akane, who could be totally oblivious on an occasion, would not get his subtle hinting… a plan that apparently went unneeded as Akane nodded thoughtfully and almost whispered. "You are probably right, I should ask for help… if I decide to make chocolate that is…"

Ranma did a mental high-five… there was a tone that said 'message received and acknowledged' in her final statement. He smiled and nodded pointing at the book and said "So… problem five?"

------

And herein ends the Prelude: in which Ranma planned… and did some other stuff, like fed the koi and kicked the panda twice…

A/N…

Nothing here much, most of the notes will be in the last chapter. Including a small cultural reference on to white day/valentine's day in japan…