Kuno Tatewaki Asks Questions

By Ninnik Nishukan

Even somebody as out of the loop as Kuno would also have to be deaf and blind not to catch the latest big thing on the Furinkan rumour mill— except supposedly this wasn't even a rumour; it was the hard truth.

As of yet, nobody quite knew the exact cause behind it, but the fact was that Tendo Nabiki now found herself to be the new fiancée of one Saotome Ranma. And there was more, he'd overheard them say, it gets juicier— he doesn't just have yet another suitor, oh no— did you know that he's actually traded Tendo Akane for her own sister?

The elation Kuno should've felt simply wasn't forthcoming. Well, there was the moment when he'd whooped with glee over the news because Tendo Akane was finally freed from her terrible engagement, and had gone to congratulate her…but then later in the day he'd come to realize that she was still forced to live under the same roof as that idiot Saotome, and even worse, that she would now have to watch her own sister living it up with her former fiancée in her own house.

Kuno had discarded his delusions of whisking her away from her miserable life, however; she was living with her family, who loved her, and she was only sixteen. He wanted to date her, yes, but he was hardly thinking of marriage yet. Despite all of his pompous speeches about his destiny to become her groom, Kuno was actually aware of the fact that he was still just a high school student.

His third reaction to the news surprised him. He felt sort of…exasperated, sort of annoyed. And he felt rather…disappointed. After all, Nabiki of all people was supposed to be smarter than this, wasn't she?

The latter object of his thoughts was currently sitting amidst a throng of people who were crowding her with questions. Nabiki was used to this, and her normal, calm exterior remained in place as she leisurely ate her lunch as she answered whichever questions she wanted to at her own pace. She wasn't even being rude, she was just so very, very unaffected by all the noise around her.

Surely this couldn't be the sight of Tendo Nabiki in love? Surely even she would let something slip, a nervous giggle, a shy smile— hell, even clearing her throat would be something! Kuno Tatewaki didn't care if she ended up with that jerk— he wouldn't able to control her, anyway, she'd play her little games until he folded completely— but if she truly did have some feelings for this horrible boy, it irritated him that she could remain so calm while all of these people were asking so many questions, while he himself burst with emotions and with the need to express them, even over casual crushes! How did she do it? Was she really such an Ice Queen?

He'd heard rumours of her getting love letters from young men, a couple from Furinkan, a few from neighbouring schools, and then proceeding to make them treat her to dinner, the movies and even managing to connive some jewellery, clothes and expensive gifts out of them before ending the date with the sugary-sweet, maiden-like declaration that she simply wasn't ready to go steady with anyone yet. If they objected, she blackmailed them by threatening to publish the love letters she'd received, so of course she always got away clean.

Kuno had shuddered when he'd heard that particular horror story. At least he was fortunate enough to be spared that kind of humiliation. Sure, he always had to fork over a lot of cash to Nabiki, and often in the form of lunch, dinner or other food stuffs, but at least she never pretended anything with him and she'd never really needed to blackmail him because he willingly gave her all the money she wanted in exchange for those damned girly pictures.

Nabiki really knew how to take advantage of the fact that most boys their age— and especially he— were more or less ruled by their hormones. Sometimes he had to wonder how she managed to wear the last stages of puberty like a graceful, expensive coat instead of an awkward burden like most people. Didn't she ever get affected or excited by the other gender? It was enough to make him hate her, just a little.

On the other hand, he also felt as if he'd risk losing his faith in the human race if it turned out that sensible, stable, smart and attractive though devious girls like Tendo Nabiki could just go out and fall for vile fiends like that Saotome character! What was the world coming to?

Why was he always so popular? Why did everybody fall for Saotome? Why?

Could it be possible that he was going at it the wrong way? Could it be possible that his good looks, his captainship in the kendo club and all his riches just…weren't enough? What was it that put Saotome Ranma apart from the rest? What did they see in him except his obvious prowess in the martial arts? Surely…surely there had to be someone who preferred Kuno Tatewaki?

Kuno didn't like rumours. Sure, they gave him some useful information once in a while, but they were often completely unfounded…and they also had a tedious tendency to center on Tendo Akane and Saotome Ranma.

Or worse yet, himself.

That was why he decided to ask Nabiki about the latest developments after school.

As soon as the bell rang after their very last class, Nabiki gathered up all of her things, waved goodbye to her friends and left.

Kuno hadn't counted on that. She always lingered after class to talk to her flunkies to see if they'd acquired any juicy gossip, to check if anybody was interested in placing any bets and of course to check if he himself was interested in purchasing any of her photographs, so he hadn't been prepared for her hasty retreat; he didn't even manage to get out a single word to stop her with before she'd disappeared.

Why was she leaving so early today? Did it have anything to do with the engagement? Had she finally had enough of the topic for today?

Frantically stuffing his books in his bag and picking up his bokken, Kuno took off at a run.

Not much later, he caught sight of her by a bento shop not far outside the school grounds.

"T-Tendo Nabiki!!" He bellowed as he accelerated, not wanting to lose her as she rounded the corner. Apparently she'd heard him, because he almost barrelled right into her as he turned the corner where she'd stopped.

Kuno quickly backtracked. "Ah! E-excuse me for my haste, I was simply—"

"What's up, Kuno-chan?" Nabiki interrupted him, a raised eyebrow and a slightly impatient-looking turn of her mouth accompanying the question.

He cursed inwardly; once again he was discomposed, flustered, while she was as cool as a fresh morning breeze. "I…I wanted to ask you a question," He said in a strained sort of voice as he attempted to even out his breathing. He shouldn't have run. It could've waited for tomorrow.

She sighed, putting a hand on her hip. "I don't have any new pictures today. You'll have to wait a few days."

He shook his head. "This matter does not concern…business."

She gave him a one-shouldered shrug, hiding her curiosity well. "OK, I guess I have a minute or two. Fire away. "

"Well…" Kuno cleared his throat, drawing a quick hand through his somewhat damp bangs. "First off, I must admit I expected better of you."

She blinked. "Hmm?"

The leather handle on his book bag creaked in protest as his fingers clenched tightly around it. "Exactly why are you suddenly engaged to Saotome Ranma?"

Nabiki, always quick to find flaws in the other party's arguments, scoffed. "You 'expected better'? Kuno-chan, do I have to point out that before lunch you were congratulating me on my engagement and calling Ranma your brother-in-law?" She reminded him dryly.

Kuno smoothly ignored the look on her face, which was clearly advertising to him and anyone who wanted to see it that she'd discovered all over again what a big moron he was. "I do concede to having met the news with a joyous outlook at first, but…are all the girls in this area insane?" He took a step forward; she held her ground, completely unfazed. "Are you actually in love with him?" His lips curled in distaste as he uttered the words.

Nabiki stared at him for a second or two, and he felt an odd sort of sense of triumph; he'd gotten some sort of reaction out of her! She was puzzled!

Suddenly she grinned widely, clearly amused. "Sure I am, Kuno-chan!" She said cheerfully before she winked at him and turned on her heel, continuing on her way home.

Kuno felt his shoulders come down and his breath finally leaving his lungs as he relaxed. That was as good as saying that she wasn't.

"Wait!" He shouted after her as he suddenly remembered something. "Why did you not stay after class today as usual?"

Nabiki didn't even turn her head. "Kasumi's making yakiniku today!" She replied casually, giving him a half-hearted wave over her shoulder as she kept on walking.

Kuno gaped after her. And here he'd thought that perhaps she'd just finally been too embarrassed about all the questions concerning her new engagement, like a normal person would have been! Truly, this girl possessed no shame whatsoever! Shaking his head, he found himself grinning slightly to himself.

By tomorrow, Nabiki would no doubt have already arranged for bets to be made on how long her own engagement would last. He gave it a week, maybe two at the most. In the meantime, Nabiki was sure to find other creative ways to make money out of the situation. Reassured that Nerima had at least one sane girl who hadn't bowed to Saotome's spell, Kuno Tatewaki started on his way home.

Author's note: Please go to YouTube and search for +kuno +nabiki to see my new (and only, so far) Ranma ½ music video called "Kuno-chan is kinda weird, isn't he?", which focuses on Kuno and Nabiki. If all else fails, my user name is NinnikNishukan.

Kuno Tatewaki Asks Questions will most likely have some sort of sequel.