Title: Seven Dates

Author: Princess France

Summary: The corollary of a broken leg could instigate fun, but that's just putting it nicely for our poor pigtailed martial artist who has to go around pushing a wheelchair with his worst (or best?) nightmare sitting on it.

Pairing: Ranma/Akane

Disclaimer: So a while ago I went to Starbucks to study, and when I opened my wallet I realized that the only thing I could afford is the tissue. They give those away for free.

Author's Note: My first! I actually began writing years ago but I decided to publish this one just now. I started writing this the summer after my high school graduation, what with the swirling emotions and the whole I'm! In! College! thing. We'll see if emotional turbulence makes nice stories. Because I'm really hoping it does. Otherwise this would all be regrettably pointless, yes?

Prologue: The Meatier Things In Life

"You can tell when a war starts, but when does the prewar start?" —Christa Wolf, Cassandra

It was a dark, nimbus-filled Thursday noon.

Akane Tendo has had enough, and yet she knew she couldn't do anything to escape the prison she had gotten herself into. She was bound hand and foot.

As well as other parts of her body her muscles wired themselves in.

"No more," she whimpered, along with eleven other girls who, for the past week, had begun to feel foolish about pursuing their childhood passion. What were a juvenile's hobbies, anyway? They were pipe dreams, no need to make them come true. Oh, and the college scholarship. Who cared about that?

Because there was no harm in sweating a few bucketfuls everyday, but gastric suicide?

A short, burly woman wearing the school jacket blew the whistle hanging from her neck and elicited both startled and annoyed looks from the hapless people in the vicinity.

"I say ditch the large fries!" she grunted in her infamous, she-male from the Amazon manner. "Quarter pounder's the key, squirts! Fifty percent fat, fifty percent protein. Doesn't get any better than that, eh? At this rate, you'll be building your muscles faster than Hogan can say beefy!"

She slammed on the table a tray piled with 25 gigantic servings of Ronald McDonald's secret weapon of mass cellulite buildup.

Groaning. Which there had been a lot of for the past several days.

"I don't eat beef, Coach Toda," said Rhaiya, and the girls instantly sensed the relief injected in her frostiness. "My religion prohibits me to do so."

This didn't dampen the coach's high spirits at all, as indicated by her wide, yellow-toothed grin. "I saw that coming, Miss Singh, and that is why," she purred, digging through the pile and looking triumphant as she got hold of a pack that was differently colored from the rest, "I had this specially ordered for you… a pork quarter pounder!"

"But we don't eat—"

"DIG IN!" Toda declared, cutting Rhaiya off, meaning to be inviting but ending up sounding like she was about to attend a nasty session of butchery at the slaughterhouse.

The poor Indian girl virtually heard claps of ominous Transylvanian thunder and Beethoven's Fifth—the church organ version—as Coach Toda lifted it up in the air.

Akane liked beef. Except when it was fried in grease and sandwiched between round buns. It was so shiny, so slick, so oleaginous, so—


And now she was trapped in the Beef Headquarters of the World, obligated to demolish the mound of iniquity sitting sinisterly in the middle of the table, because it was the team's obligation to do every obligation that the coach obligated them to finish before next week ended.

The obligation being having to follow a protein overfeeding program, apparently.

"I hate beef," she mumbled, making sure that Yuka heard it and Coach Toda didn't. Slowly, she opened the wrapper and saw a piece of lettuce peeking outside the bun.

It was not healthful anymore, she was so sure. Poor lettuce, tainted by the impurity of such an unctuous patty.

"I don't really have meat problems," Yuka whispered, shuddering after swallowing her first bite, "but now I'm just too full that everything tastes awful already! I mean, we all had turkeyfor breakfast this morning. Turkey! For breakfast!"

"And pork burgers are not heaven either," broached Rhaiya, pointing inside her open mouth for emphasis of disgust as the three of them huddled together.

Akane put her burger down. "You know what I hate?"

"Toda," Yuka supplied tartly.

"Pork," hissed Rhaiya in abhorrence, preparing herself to rant interminably. "There's more fat in it than lean meat. And it's made from pigs. Come to think of it, I don't like pigs. They stink and snort and wallow in mud and are useless to the world because they can't catch irritating insects or convert carbon dioxide into oxygen."

Feeling her heart being pricked by sharp hog gristles, Akane twitched. "I have a pet piglet."

"Well, can it fly?"

The image of a black piglet wearing a yellow patterned scarf and flapping its little ears à la Dumbo conceived inside her head. "No, it can't."

But it's mastered the art of landing after her brutal fiancé had thrown it out of the city hundreds of times.

"Right you are. Pigs can't fly, and they never will. They don't produce good meat and are useless."

"But P-chan's cute," deviated Yuka, who had indeed seen Akane's adorable pet.

"Not—all—pigs—are—cute," Rhaiya forced out between unpleasant chomping.

Akane watched as her two friends debated on the Significance of Pig. Adjacent to them were their other teammates who plastered bland smiles whenever the coach's sight hovered on their faces. The tempo of their chews was exactly like the heartbeat of a dying animal.

Then, to their horror.

"Pick up the pace, squirts!" Coach Toda roared dynamically, blowing her whistle for the eighty-third time and annoying the fifty-second customer that day. "Next stop for dinner after practice is Buffet Meat Palace! 27 kinds of meat, over 300 various dips…"

As the coach continued to chatter about how their next gastronomic sojourn was a bonanza for a protein-deprived bunch like them and twelve high school girls futilely attempted to eradicate the burgers on the table without having to enter their maltreated digestive tracts, Akane hung her head in woe.

The Furinkan High School volleyball team will be dead because of sky-high cholesterol before next Saturday's championship against St. Hebereke.

Or worse, too fat to wear their team tank tops and spandex gym shorts.

Sayuri supported a shivering Akane's weight as they stumbled into the doors of the Tendo residence.

"Oh my," Kasumi gasped, immediately wrapping her youngest sister with a thick towel. "Thank you for bringing her here, Sayuri-chan. I hope it's not much of an inconvenience, seeing that it's raining and you had to carry her and the umbrella all the way…"

"No, not at all! I was actually on my way here when I saw her huddled beside the vending machine. The team suffered really heavy stuff today, I can tell!"

Kasumi shook her head as she and Sayuri helped Akane up the stairs, then onto the bed in her room.

"I'm certain she'll refuse dinner tonight, but would you like some beef teriya—"

Under the covers of her bed, Akane wailed softly. No more mention of any kind of meat, not even the word patty—not now, not ever. She was going to die of pancreatitis any time.

Refusing the offer as the first Tendo sister exited the room, Sayuri sighed and took a seat on the edge of the bed. "I guess that means no study session tonight."

"Yes," Akane agreed dimly, sitting up bit by bit, leaning her back against a pillow and clutching her blanket close. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry will just have to wait until the Evil that is meat is gone from her system.

Or at least until she'd throw up the Grenouille et Gingembre chef specialty that she had accidentally dipped in Worcestershire sauce. Never did she imagine touching a frog again after she had dissected one in science class, let alone actually masticating it!

Sayuri tsk-ed. "I told you and Yuka that joining the volleyball team would be suicide, but did you listen to me? Did you listen when I said that Toda was pushier than a lion pushing a lioness to the ground while copulating, when I said that there are a million other ways to flaunt your booties besides wearing synthetic stretch fabric and running around a court just to assault an inflated ball that did nothing to deserve the treatment you're giving it?"

"Sports is our passion, Yuri-chan," Akane explained, hogging the pillows around her for warmth. "Besides the scholarship offers for the whole team if we win, Furinkan hasn't won a championship for ten years, not even a semi-finals match! I'm a team forward and I'm pretty sure Toda won't let me go if I wanted out."

"But you do want out, right? Because you have a black belt, you know, and if she stops you from going you could just kick her patootie and—and—are you shivering?"

"Mm-mm," negated Akane, stubbornly brushing aside her friend's concern as she wanted to still be Akane the Mighty. "I just need something to keep me warm."

And ten boxes of antacid for my survival, she tensely thought, feeling her insides churn violently.

Footsteps down the corridor. And whistling.

"Saotome-kun," Sayuri called out before Akane could stop her.

The door opened, and Ranma's interrogative expression peeked into the room.

"Would you be kind enough as to go and ask Kasumi for a couple of extra blankets for Akane?"

"I just came from downstairs. She can go get them herself, since she has her feet intact and all."

"No she can't," she insisted, a sticky, honeyed smile dominating her freckled face. "She's sick."

"Eh?" Ranma quirked an eyebrow, his sight probing Akane's huddled form among the pillows. "What trouble have you gotten yourself into that you couldn't get out of this time?"

Akane winced and fixed her eyes on the beautiful, blank wall beside her. "Never mind, Sayuri, I'll go get them myse—"

"You can be a real mule sometimes," interrupted Ranma casually, his head disappearing behind the door. "She said you're sick."

The knob clicked close.

"I don't get your fiancé," Sayuri spilled, her smile disappearing.

"Nobody does," replied Akane, rolling her eyes. "He has the clarity of morning fog and the emotional maturity of a baby baboon."

"But," Sayuri whispered, leaning close, "he's manly and opinionated. And his childishness makes him look cute, too! You have to admit that he's rather, uhm, endearing?"

Akane was appalled. "Oh," she said, throwing her hands in the air. "Endearing! If having a fiancé who calls me a 'mule with thick thighs and cowlick hair' is what every little girl dreams of, then I'd call Ranma lovable!"

Sayuri smiled slyly. "Lovable… like, worthy of your love?"

"What? Woman, you are drunk. And in need of a cold bucket of water."

"So he has a chance," said Sayuri as if Akane didn't say anything. "He does, right? Your hatred does not stretch along the racetrack of forever, because there's a pit stop somewhere that's called Love. Because he has a chance!"

She had obviously been reading a lot of those cheap, paperback, romance novels from the second hand book store a few blocks away. Sayuri should learn to save her money for more important things in life, like intensive-healing hand lotions and lip gloss and chocolates and firm-grip, fine-tipped pens.

"Come on, Akane. Engagement at sixteen makes a very interesting love story! Anyway, you'll be stuck with each other for, like, ever. So why don't you just give him a chance? And why am I talking about chances when at this very moment you could already be deeply smitten by Ranma Saotome?"

Akane snorted the most sarcastic snort she had ever snorted in her entire life.

When pigs fly!

And thanks to her Indian friend who bests anyone in mentally multiplying two-digit numbers by three-digit numbers and identifying all parts of the human anatomy, Akane was positive that it would never happen.

"Boo, you killjoy," Sayuri gibed, pulling a raspberry.

Laughing (and then quickly regretting it as her hands rushed to her sore tummy), Akane answered with "My stomach is a spoiled brat and says that I should digress. And I do."

There was a knock on the door and Ranma, upon entering the room, gracelessly handed her a stack of three neatly-folded blankets. "Kasumi said she'll bring you tea later. What happened to you anyway?"

Spreading the woolen fabrics on her lap with the help of Sayuri, Akane gave him a cold look. "I got myself into trouble that I couldn't get out of."

He turned towards the door. "You always do the stupidest of things. Get well soon, all right?"

Could it be that—

"Pops and Uncle are leaving tonight for a training trip and won't be back until Wednesday, and that hentai old man's busy farming women's underwear outside the city. Ryouga's still halfway around the world… so I'll have to bear with your bunny rabbit skills for the mean time. And now that you're handicapped with whatever sickness you have—"

Bunny rabbit? Bunny rabbit skills?

"Get out, Ranma," Akane gritted out, "before my stomach pulls a Wolverine and heals faster than you could blink and before my hand pulls a Merlin and makes a mallet materialize out of thin air faster than you can spell your own name. Which isn't really fast, actually, so fear me."

A flash of lightning followed by roaring thunder made a mean team that it wasn't hard to believe that the carps in the pond outside were getting fried.

"Keh." Flicking his nose, Ranma exited.

A fuming Akane burned a hole in the door with her glare. "When pigs fly, Sayuri. When pigs fly."

Sayuri shook her head in hopelessness. "I'll be heading home when the rain's over."

Darkness shrouded the city like a sinuous black cloak. It had always been like that—winter, spring, summer, or fall—at this time of night. And just as the reflection of a mirror is always similar with its pre-image no matter how intricate its details are, the present was as dark as the ink-black nights of history.

It was usually in these quiet, dim evenings when creatures that fed on fear and had always imperceptibly lurked and brooded and spawned finally had the fortune of divulging themselves and their fangs and their appetite for fresh flesh to the slumbering world, most especially to those who are obstinately up and about and unmindful of the need of their body to rest.

That, of course, did not stop Ranma Saotome from having his favorite midnight snack of pocky.

He slid the door open, tiptoed outside the room, and found himself not knowing the difference whether he'd opened or shut his eyes.

Bah, who needed eyes when he had hands that had thrice the number of nerve endings in his feet? Besides, he had always been more of a feeler than a seer… whatever that meant.

Down the corridor he slinked, feeling the walls for support and stepping as soundlessly as he could regardless of the refractory, creaking wood. Soon, his hand found the tip of the stairway railing.

Then, footfalls right behind him.

Nobody in Nerima had faster reflexes than Ranma Saotome—and that was engraved in stone—but unfortunately, his mind was focused on that faraway box of chocolate pocky hidden behind the pickle jar in the refrigerator.

And so when they collided, Ranma instinctively grabbed hold of its arms and twisted his lean body so that the creature took the damage from the long fall down the stairs.

In a matter of seconds, the creature's cry of pain turned into a scream of anger that pierced the stillness of Nerima.

One Friday morning, Ranma wondered.

"This is all your fault!"

"Your fault all hope is lost for the team!"

"Your fault we won't get those scholarships!"

"Your fault St. Hebereke's nut of a volleyball captain would have an excuse to hurl her clubs at us!"

Ranma felt his ears throbbing. "Okay, okay, just quit it already!" he roared, shaking off the sound waves being chucked at him from all directions.

Fine, maybe it was his fault that the racket last night disrupted Nabiki's and Kasumi's sleep at 1:00 in the morning, that he had to endure Akane's enraged barking until 1:30, which was when Dr. Tofu's sleep was disrupted as well, that the little Trunchbull of a coach gave him a brutal reproof at 5:10, that the entire Furinkan volleyball team still suffering from indigestion had circled him right outside room 202 of the clinic at 6:00 and have been excoriating him for about twenty minutes already for ruining their lives.

But all of these wouldn't have been his fault if Akane hadn't been sneaking out of her room in the middle of the night!

Which was actually what he was doing, but that was not the point.

"No, we're not going to quit shouting at you because you deserve it," Rhaiya snapped. "This is the championship we're talking about here, Saotome! Competing without Akane in the team would be like playing volleyball without a hand—"

"Or a foot!" bridged Yuka hotly.

Ranma scowled. "So whaddya want me to do now, talk her into healing her leg? She started ignoring me as if I were a fly on the wall since we got here, and that's even worse than having her throw me the side table!"

"Nothing can heal Akane-chan's leg in time for the championship," a soft-spoken sophomore named Arisa morosely concluded.

"Ah, you underestimate her too much," a voice behind them piped up. The lot turned to see a positive-looking Dr. Tofu, carrying a tray of toast, marmalade and milk. "She told me that your championship game will be next Saturday. I've been nursing Akane's injuries for as long as anybody can remember, and I'm certain that with her rate of recovery she'll be as fit as a fiddle after a week!"

"But that will allot her inadequate time to prepare for the big match," Yuka said. "Oh, we need to talk to her now! May we, please?"

The bespectacled doctor smiled. "Why, of course! She needs visitors now more than ever for encouragement and to hasten her improvement."

Yuka softly knocked on the door. "Akane, it's us."

Ranma snorted. "The tomboy wouldn't even look at me, so why would she let you—"

"Come in!" a sweet, eager voice replied from inside.

The girls gave Ranma a team smirk that said 'Your fault' a final time before entering the room with Dr. Tofu.

And so, one Friday morning, Ranma wondered as he sat on a plastic chair beside the door why he was feeling an uncomfortable sensation in his stomach, a slight throbbing in his temples and… well, bad and—

No, because Akane was stupid for wandering the house after midnight with a super stomachache and without a flashlight and total consciousness and a brain, all for a cup of that nasty digestive tea from Sri Lanka. Plus, she was terribly clumsy that he somehow got infected with it and lost his reflexes that very second! It was all her fault, not his, so they shouldn't point their fingers at him! Only… the box of pocky belonged to Akane and he was about to steal it and accuse P-chan of piggery (which was perfect) the following morning.

Yes, it was his fault.

He had to apologize. But only after he found a way to maneuver around the room without having a flower vase chucked at him, in case Akane realized that inflicting physical pain was better than indifference.

About half an hour later, a significantly simmered down group of eleven emerged from the room and left Dr. Tofu's clinic to make their way to school without a backward glance at Ranma. He took the cue and entered the gates of hell.

"…once in a while to keep the blood circulating—" The doctor detected the new visitor while Akane's face dropped from attentive to dour. "Ranma-kun! I see you've brought Akane—er, nothing, but your presence is welcome! Do take care of her for a minute, will you? I'm needed downstairs. My rheumatic patients are definitely increasing in number nowadays…"

"Uh, sure."

Once the two were left, Ranma stood on her bedside and launched the speech he rehearsed twenty seconds ago. "So, how are you?"

The moment he recognized the presence of the enormous cast her leg was enclosed in, he mentally pounded himself. He was really bad at making speeches. Never again! He should stick to good ol' adlibbing.

"Look, before you fire your bullets—"

"I'm going to miss a week of practice," Akane said, her gaze fixed on the ceiling in front of her and her voice sounding sedate so far. "After that, I'll have one day to prepare. One day."

Not knowing whether to stay still or move off the door's direction before Akane reached for the telephone and hurled it at him, Ranma coughed awkwardly. "Tofu-sensei did say you'll recover quickly."

"We trained for months and faced over fifteen schools and bore with a coach who made us eat—animal flesh—five times a day for ten days straight and counting. Just to get here. But I end up incarcerating myself on this bed for the time it would take me to get ready for the final game, so now I am supposed to use a wheelchair to move around, am hating you for—"

"Hey, I was walking blindly too!"

"—making sure that I fell first before you did," she continued as if he hadn't uttered a word, and what she just said had deepened the fissure in Ranma's heart. "I really am."

"But I didn't know it was you!" protested Ranma. "And I was the reason your leg was broken last time, but you didn't hate me like this!"

"Last time I wasn't in the volleyball team, wasn't pining for a championship trophy coated with synthetic gold, wasn't aware that things like this could happen and change the lives of an entire team."

The morning breeze waved the curtains gently.

Ranma took a deep breath and adlibbed, praying his mouth would cooperate (Please don't say "You're stupid for walking in the dark without your eyeballs and cerebellum intact in the first place," come on…).

"I'm sorry, okay? It's my fault. I snuck off to finish your chocolate pocky and the next thing I know, you hate me like you never have before, and it doesn't feel good. So there, ya happy? Now you know that P-chan didn't wolf down your leftover takoyaki last time."

Akane's eyes widened for a split second. "What did you say?"

"I said that I snuck off to—"

"No, before that."

If that was what it took, then sure, he'd repeat those words no matter how inglorious they sounded.

Okay, no. Not in a million—oh, dammit—

"I'm sorry. It's my fault."

A smile began tugging her lips, but she tugged back. "You've never apologized to me before."

"Well… before, you weren't supposed to use a wheelchair, weren't in the volleyball team, weren't pining for a championship trophy coated with gold, weren't aware that things like this could happen and change the lives of an entire team."

Ah, the Ranma grin.

Akane's smile, however, kept tugging fruitlessly. "You should go now. I need to finish my breakfast."

Feeling the fire die down, Ranma tossed in a "Yeah, I noticed Tofu-sensei prepared that yummy—" but it was swatted away by Akane's hot glare before gravity acted on it.

"Right," he concluded hastily. "Get well."

As Ranma closed the door behind him and sank back on the plastic chair, he was not sure whether Akane finally gave in to the struggle with the muscles of her face, but he sure was hit by the enormity of the situation.

Akane. Angry, but not shouting anathemas or fiercely clobbering him with various metallic objects.

It was horribly, terribly, Twilight Zone wrong, and that just made his stomach feel more uncomfortable.

Physical pain was better than indifference, all right.

"She's really dispirited, you know," came in Sayuri's concerned voice that made Ranma jump. "She called me earlier and was crying and didn't know what to do."

"When did you get here?" he demanded.

"Why, I've been standing here ever since you got out of the room! Whatever happened to your godlike senses, Saotome-kun?"

"I—I just—I left them inside my closet," he finished banally, wanting to digress. "What did Akane say? How's she feeling?"

"Didn't you just come out of that room?"

"Yeah, well, she's dispirited, that I know. But other than that, she was as open as a closed book."

Sayuri sighed. "She needs you now more than ever."

"Akane said that?" Ranma asked in disbelief.

"No, I said that," she amended, rolling her eyes. "I mean, besides the fact that you're the primary reason behind this whole catastrophe, she's never been as dejected like this her whole life! I've known her ever since and her wailing this morning was more miserable than any wound-stitching childhood incident. You're her fiancé for crying out loud, and even though I know that you mixed up the customary be acquainted, go crushing, get to know, be infatuated, fall in love, get engaged, get married sequence, you should still be her crying shoulder and—"

"But she's not crying anymore," said Ranma stupidly.

Rubbing her temples, Sayuri groaned. "I meant be there for her and entertain her and stuff like that, so she'd stop wallowing in misery and get back to being herself."

"But that'll be a 24-hour job! 24 times 7 equals… a week! I have important things to do, train more and humiliate challengers and actually go to school."

"Hmm, let's see. You almost cost the Furinkan volleyball team their college scholarships, Akane her cheerfulness, our school their only hope in sports seeing as the kendo, sumo, basketball, soccer, baseball and wrestling teams cannot even handle every morning against said 16-year old whose cheerfulness you cost her, and yourself your previous, not-depressed fiancée."

A bewildered eyebrow was the only one to respond.

"Not to mention," Sayuri continued, firm with intent, "Gosunkugi his obsession, Daisuke his childhood-and-up-to-now crush, Coach Toda her sanity—"

"What are you trying to do?" asked Ranma flatly.

"Making you feel guilty. Which you should."

"And suppose you actually accomplish that?"

She patted his shoulder the way those guidance counselors always did when they gave out advice, which almost always denoted a "Follow my counsel or you'll fail in life" or something relevant.

"You should take her out sometime."

"Y-you mean on a date?" a dazed Ranma construed. "Akane on a wheelchair on a date?"

She giggled in amusement. "I meant for fresh air, but that will do just fine!"

"Oi." Ranma's trademark bland face came back.

Sayuri duplicated it as her hilarity instantly died down. "No, really? Take her out on a date or suffer."

"Why?" Ranma whispered, eyes wide. "Whatcha gonna do, make me over with that green facial mask and give my hair extra volume by putting it in curlers overnight?"

"I'll tell Akane things that will eliminate your chances of ever getting together with her," she spoke threateningly, with the slyness of a fox and the venomousness of a viper. "And I execute elimination missions a lot better than the CIA, believe me."

"I don't care!" he exclaimed, laughing momentarily. And he was not kidding, not one bit.

"Oh boy, the onus. Onus for the rest of your life…"

His face dropped. "Whaddya mean?"

"You think I'm being Ms. Matchmaker here? You think I'm doing this so you would fall for Akane in the process and Akane, for you? (Which I am, but you know very well I'm too smart to reveal that.) Of course not! I'm worried about the future of the Furinkan volleyball team. What'll happen to them without the college scholarships? I'm worried about their pride and prestige, and most of all I'm worried about my emotionally-weakened friend inside that room. Maybe when her leg recovers, her emotional state would still be incapacitated. That would mean she couldn't play well in the finals!"

Ranma pondered on this. He didn't want his fiancée to turn into a vegetable—wait, Akane damaged her leg, not her brain!

"You think I'm that stupid?"

"Maybe, but do you find it really hard to take Akane out?" was Sayuri's short reply, for she didn't want to launch a long lecture about emotionality being related to performance, physical status of brain aside.

"N-no, but I've got things to do, I already told you!"

"Better things to do? Because, if you ask me, nothing's more important than making your fiancée feel better when she really needs it. Wouldn't it bring you joy to revive the hopes of an entire team, revive the hopes of Akane Tendo, who has done nothing but love you with every beat of her—"

"Don't kid yourself. She's done everything but that. And by everything I mean having hobbies that involve the words brutality and Ranma."

The freckled girl frowned and crossed her arms. "Okay. But it all boils down to one thing, right? Decide. Now."

Well, she just didn't give him enough reasons. If it resulted in ending all wars on the planet and making pocky the staple food of Asians, why not? Otherwise, why would he waste the organic fuels of his body in pushing around a wheelchair with an untamed species of Tomboy sitting on it and expose himself to contagious Akanecitis?

"What do I get in doing this?" he asked, knowing that it was useless because he would just rebuff her unhealthy offer in the end.

"Akane's forgiveness and deliverance from her eternal wrath."

"DEAL," he affirmed without a second thought. "A day with her, then."

Sayuri laughed, clearly amused with Ranma's ignorance. "A day? Of course not. You'll take her out everyday until her leg heals!" Her hand rested on the knob as Ranma's open jaw filled the whole room.

"But Tofu-sensei said she'll be in a wheelchair for a week! That would mean—"

"Not one, not two, not even three! Ranma, you'll be taking Akane out on seven dates. Isn't that just wonderful?" Enthusiastically, she opened the door. "Now wait here, I'll just talk to Akane for a minute and then we'll discuss the full details on the way to school. Oh, you're not a killjoy after all!"

Practically skipping into the room, Sayuri left a stunned Ranma alone, sinking low on his plastic seat. He was dead meat. And knowing the silently acrimonious Akane's recent development of loathing towards meat, he knew for sure that he would either be ground, minced, or flaked. Or all of the above.

Shutting his eyes tightly, he prayed like he'd never prayed before.