Rumiko Takahashi created Ranma 1/2.
A scream tore through the air. Ranma just smiled, his face trying hard not to show it. He sat on the steps leading into the Dojo where he could see the porch. There, in the shade offered from the house, sat Mr. Tendo and Ranma's father. Between them was the ever-present game of Go. Despite being in the middle of their favorite past time, both looked worried and slightly scared. Akane screamed again from the kitchen, sending big drops of sweat down both of their foreheads. "Cowards." Ranma muttered softly, this time not suppressing the smile.
Closing his eyes, Ranma leaned farther back, letting the light splash upon his face. The warmth of the sun on the Saturday afternoon could be felt through his clothes as it shined down on Nimera. Eyes still shut, Ranma let his other incredible senses stretch out through the yard. The gentle sounds of the grass stirring made for a somber duet with the water lapping against the edge of the near by pond. A strangely nostalgic smell was being carried on the wind, and it was making the young man's stomach growl even more. Luckily he was upwind of the kitchen, his father's grumbling clearly spoke volumes of what it had to smell like downwind of the Tendo's Kitchen.
Overall, it was much too pleasant of a day to be bothered, even by Akane, who was furiously helping with lunch. Besides, fate had been rather despicable towards him. Ranma had grown fond of the youngest Tendo's culinary attempts. How many people were able to "eat" a nice spicy glass of lemonade? It wasn't like he really "liked her' or anything like that, Akane was just helping him build an immunity to toxins.
Ranma tried to envision Akane as she scurried around in the kitchen. In some ways, Akane was maybe, sort of, kind of cute. Especially when she had that "I will cook for him, whether he likes it or not" look on her face. Ranma could easily see Akane with her sleeves rolled up, and food stains on every other inch of her apron. The kitchen had to be a mess by now, with holes and powder everywhere. He had heard his mother and Kasumi squeal in terror a few times... at least he thought it was terror. He built up the urge to laugh some more and couldn't hold it back, seeing Akane in his minds eye clanging pots together, at the same time hearing the metallic thud in the real world.
With that last image, Ranma felt himself drift off to sleep from the warmth of the sun, and people he cared about around him. As he slept, Ranma dreamed of a time where he would no longer have to fight with a specific short haired girl. In the dream they were off camping by themselves, and he had just proposed. Her positive answer made him smile in the real world, up until the point he woke up.
Ranma didn't open his eyes, instead he let his senses tell him who was approaching. "Having a nice dream?" Ranma didn't need to hear the voice to tell it was Akane. Despite popular opinion, their fights were more of the exception and not the rule. Normally, they were pretty peaceful around each other.
"Yes, a pretty good one too." He let his voice be distorted from a stretch as he worked his back. Opening his eyes Ranma thought for a moment she was blushing, but as quick as the thought came it was dismissed. "Lunch done?" Standing up, Ranma noticed Akane's sleeves were wrinkled from having been rolled up. Sniffing softly he wasn't able to detect the acidic odor of smoke. Well, at least she was learning something from her mother's cook book. "You've got food on your nose."
"Where?" Akane was mortified, and reached up to wipe off her face. Ranma just laughed and ran off towards the home, slowing to a stop before the porch. "Ranma!" Akane yelled in mock anger, joining him as they walked up the porch. Sitting down in their usual spots, everyone waited as Kasumi and Nokoda brought out the meal. A moment later Nakoda came out first carrying many of the dishes they would be eating. After her came a slightly green Kasumi, holding a pan as far from her as etiquette could allow.
"Aw come on! Who let Akane cook? We're still gett'n over the last time she tried to cook!" Ranma may have adapted to her style of cooking but there was no reason to let her know that. Truth be told, Akane did make a rather worthy adversary when she was mad. At least a much cuter one then a damp, angry panda.
"Ranma!" His mother snapped, her usual Kasumi like persona slipping. "I feel you should apologize to Akane. She did make this for you."
"No I didn't! As far as I'm concerned, Ranma doesn't have to eat a bite!" Ranma winced more from Akane's anger than his mother's retort. Sheepishly he looked down. No apology was said, though. After that there were a few moments of awkward silence until Kasumi put down the pan.
"So, who's first?" Nabiki asked, clearly showing Nabiki herself was not about to take the first bite.
"Boy, show your fiancée some gratitude. Eat what Akane's cooked for you!"... 'And when the boy goes down, the rest of us will be able to escape. You know, Genma, some times you manage to even amaze yourself.' Everyone looked at Genma as he started to laugh out loud for no reason.
Now that a few others had taken shots at Akane, Ranma felt it was safe to begin again. "I don't wan'n'a die!" Ranma instinctively caught the cutting knife Akane was trying to stab him with. "How come I always got't'a be the one who suffers?"
"Fine, Ranma! Don't eat it!" Akane's arms shot out to take away the pan. In a moment Ranma knew what he had to do. Coming in under her arms, Ranma snatched a piece of "something" and promptly put it into his mouth. The wooden sticks dropped from nerveless fingers and clattered to the table, the only sound in the silent room. Jumping to his feet, Ranma put a hand to his throat, desperately trying to breath. In his eyes was an unholy look of terror, and his other hand started to tremble.
"This... Th... This... Th... This is... This..." Ranma continued for a long time still clutching his throat, and looking at the pan with undisguised dismay.
"Great Akane, you've finally sent him over the edge with your cooking. Now daddy's going to have to find you a new fiancée." Nabiki stated in shock.
"I didn't do anything wrong, Nabiki!" Akane defended herself, pulling the pan protectively closer to her. The look in Ranma's eyes was starting to haunt her. Meanwhile Genma was crying how unfair it was that he should outlive his son.
"I'll call Dr. Tofu." Kasumi made a move to get up.
"No! If YOU call, my son will die for sure!" Genma jumped up to stop Kasumi.
"Genma!" Again Nokoda dropped her normal act, but soon returned to her normal cheerfulness. "At least Ranma had an honorable death," she whispered out loud.
"Hey!" Akane cried in anger, forgetting about the stuttering Ranma.
"This is... This is tasty... Maybe even delicious." Ranma said quietly, trying hard not to panic. Everyone in the room turned pale, each looking at Ranma then the pan of "Something" he had eaten from. Without a second thought Akane dropped the pan in fear, and everyone including Akane moved a bit farther away.
"Akane, you haven't just driven him insane, you deranged him!" Nabiki moved further away then the others had from the table.
"My son!" Genma cried, sounding a lot like Soun.
"Oh, son!" Soun cried like he always managed to in these situations.
"Aw, shut up! I ain't crazy... this stuff is good." Large drops of sweat began to drip from his face, and dark patches of perspiration formed on his shirt. "Somehow... Akane's managed to actually make something not only edible but... good." Real terror was in his voice. Swallowing that fear, Ranma again reached for another bite.
"No! Look what one bites already done to you!" Genma jumped to grab Ranma's arm, struggling with him for just a second Genma ended up on his back. A moment after that he felt "something" put in his mouth. Realizing it was some of Akane's cooking he tried to spit it out, but to no avail, Ranma made him swallow the morsel.
"How could you boy! After all I've done for you how could you go and poison your old man..." Genma let his voice trail off realizing there was no foul aftertaste left in his mouth. In fact there was a spicy hint of chicken, normal tasting chicken.
"Hey, I'm the one who's always got'ta eat her slop, don'tch think I ain't scared too." Ranma said, his normal color returning to him.
"This... isn't natural! How could she learn to cook like this?" Genma shouted, his eyes as large as his glasses.
"How should I know? I'm still trying to get over the shock of it not tasting bad!" Ranma and Genma were holding the front of each others' shirts yelling at each others' face.
"Mmmmm, this isn't bad at all."
"Nabiki! How could you have taken your life so lightly?" Soun said in shock to his middle daughter, surprised to see she had eaten.
"How can something that smells like this taste this good?" Kasumi asked as she too took a bite.
Akane felt herself smile and a tear form in her eye as everyone eventually tried her cooking. Right when she thought she couldn't stand the joy any more it got even better. Before her Ranma started to fill his plate with a generous portion from her pan. It was like a dream, everyone was saying it tasted good, and not only to humor her! She hadn't even used the water of life in it, to make it magically taste good!
...Like all dreams, this one would soon be coming to an end.
Right when Akane was about to take her first bite, Ranma touched her shoulder. Akane looked at him, wondering what Ranma had on his mind. Blushing furiously, he put a hand behind his head, waiting for the courage he had to return to him. "Akane... I'm never going to forgive myself for saying this... Akane, this tastes good," Akane held back tears of joy; the most important opinion was a positive one. Before she could say 'thank you' Ranma continued. "This is some of the best curry I've ever had."
Akane's world came crashing down around her. Pain filled the eyes that had only seconds ago been filled with joy. If she could have found herself able to talk, Akane would have demanded why Ranma had said such a thing. Sliding back from the table, Akane eased away from her family and the Saotomes. Refusing to show any sign she was hurt Akane got up and walked away from the table. Ranma watched her get up and leave. He realized some how he had hurt Akane.
"What..?" Ranma turned to the others trying see what he had done wrong.
"Curry... Chicken curry... That's what this tastes like." Kasumi was looking at her chop stick, again turning a little green. "Excuse me Aunty, but didn't you..."
"Yes," Nakoda said cutting off the eldest Tendo girl's question. "I gave Akane a recipe for a very bland miso soup." As she finished the sentence, everyone groaned and jumped away from the table, lunch having definitely ended.
"Akane...?" After knocking a few times Ranma opened the door to Akane's room. "Akane... You okay?" In the dim shadows from the setting sun, Ranma could just make her outline lying on her bed. "Kasumi, sent me up to get you, dinner's ready." Ranma could more feel then actually see Akane shift her gaze on to him.
"I'm not very hungry." Akane spoke with little energy. She sounded like Ranma had woken her from a nap.
"Of course you are, you didn't eat any of that stuff for lunch... I mean..." Instantly Ranma sighed, remembering he had been told it was in his best interest to never again mention the lunch. Ranma got the impression of Akane shrugging her shoulders.
"As I said, I'm not really in the mood to eat... Thanks anyway."
Ranma looked at the prone form of his fiancee and was swallowed by a feeling of loss. All he could do for Akane was fight for her: when she needed him to, Ranma could defeat anything. If it was called for, he could actually do anything. And as much as he enjoyed fighting for her, he dreaded those times when physical action couldn't cut it.
"Akane... It really was a good meal." The words felt hollow, but what else could he say? Akane just guffawed at him. "Damn it, I hate it when you do this..."
"Do what?" Akane sat up. For the first time in their conversation, her normal spitfire self showed.
"I hate it when you..." Ranma mumbled quietly, Akane of course took it as a challenge.
"What are you talking about?" Akane was now standing, a blue battle aura lighting the formally darkened room. "..." Akane opened her mouth to continue, but for once Ranma made sure she understood his side.
"Akane," speaking softer, Ranma continued, "You're trying way too hard to get me to like you. I eat everything you cook... Hell, I even wear that scarf you made for me. Akane, you don't have to try as hard as you do to impress me into liking you... As your pop says 'Don't fix it if it aint broke'."
Akane's battle Aura vanished leaving a bright red shine from her blush. Then again it might have been Ranma's blush that was bathing the room in red. "Ranma...? Are you saying...?"
"I ain't saying nothin'!" Ranma started to play with his pig-tail. "At least not yet... Akane, I hate it when you get hurt over stuff like this... Just understand I'm still here long after the stomach cramps have gone away." His admission of liking her felt good, but still he needed to get at least one barb in.
A surprisingly comfortable silence filled the space between them. Both had no idea what else to say and decided to let the conversation end. "Well we'd better be heading down before pop eats everything." Ranma turned and hurried out of the dark room before he said anything stupid.
"I'll be right down!" Akane called after him. Turning around to her bed she picked up her pet pig, hidden by her comforter. "Did you hear that, P-Chan? Ranma just said he likes me!" So caught up in her happy adolescent dream, Akane missed that the pig was glowing deep red, and the murderous look in his eyes as he looked to where Ranma had been only moments ago.
Thanks for reading,