Title: Ranma's… Husband? 25: Ucchan?

Rating: Teenishish

Disclaimer: Ok, time to be serious, or not. Ranma ½ is not mine, yada yada yada. No money for me.

Official Pairings: Akane/Mousse, Kiyoshi/Ranma, Ryu/Kasumi, Nabiki/OFC.

Author's notes: Um…

I am not sure when the next bit will be out.

I have a fully formed plot idea in another fandom that wants me to write it. On the plus side the story in question is not that long, only about 16,000 (weird what I consider short, but just look at the word count on this thing) and shouldn't take anymore that a week or so (mind you there is more work for Uni due soon) so expect me to be back with this in 2-3 weeks, a month at the most.

Sorry.

However, don't for one minute think I'm abandoning this story. I'm already writing another series set in the Heroes universe at the same time as I'm writing this so I can multi-task.

Final Note:

I would like to say thank you to everyone who has read and especially everyone who has reviewed this story, be the review good or bad.

I think it is too easy for a writer to take their readers for granted.

You have been fantastic.

I mean it.

Your feedback has encouraged me so much. I like writing; I really, really do, but the fact that there are people out there that want to read what I've written makes it easier in a way.

Furthermore sometimes things that some of you have said in your reviews have sparked off ideas, or helped me to work out how to do things in a different, and hopefully better way. Even the critical reviews, though some of them have been a bit groundless (in my opinion at least), have made me think about what I'm doing, what I'm writing and how I'm writing it.

I really appreciate every bit of feedback I've been given.

So…

Thank You All.

000

(Ranma's POV- female)

If he was very, very still then maybe it would all go away… maybe it would be happening to someone else.

Or not.

He flinched away from the scissors flashing through his hair.

Why, oh why had he agreed to this?

Oh yeah… for some reason he was incapable of arguing with his mother when she got an idea in her head. He didn't understand it, it was like… guilt and… and he wanted her to be happy… and he was only just beginning to realise that underneath her sweet, gentle appearance there might just be something more.

Something with a will of iron.

At least he'd managed to convince her that all his hair really needed was a trim and a clean up… since he usually cut it himself, and after all that with the dragon-whisker it was a bit of a mess… but still… at least it wasn't anything like what she'd first suggested. He was being too passive with her, he knew he was. He just didn't know how to…

Why was he intimidated by her? Why?...

He just didn't want her to hate him, and he was so, so frightened that she would if he was too much like himself. His mother wanted him…No… not him; she wanted Ranko to be some perfect, idealised girl. But he was Ranko… Ranko didn't exist outside of him, and it was so confusing when the person who would demand he commit seppoku if he wasn't a man amongst men was the one insisting that he had to think and act like a girl.

The woman cutting his hair finally laid down the scissors.

She smiled at him, flashing overly white teeth, "There… what do you think?"

He frowned at his reflection.

He didn't look all that different than before. Well… he didn't look like what he was used to seeing in a mirror, because he was still in his female form… but his hair…

Anyway, not that different. Even with it smoothed down by the cold water the woman had sprayed on it her could see the ends were less ragged and his fringe was a little more even.

"Um… yes?" he replied, hoping she wouldn't ask him for any more participation.

She sighed and muttered something that he didn't quite catch before reaching out and grabbing a canister of something. She pressed the top and squirted something white and frothy into her hand and put the canister back.

He twitched away from her when she reached out with hands covered in the suspiciously scented white froth. She sighed again and shook her head. She reached out again and this time he managed to hold himself still while she brusquely ran the foam into his hair.

After she had done that she reached for the hairdryer…

He found himself looking over to his mother, who was having another woman do something to her nails, for help. Nodoka didn't even look up from where she was happily chatting away, watching what the woman was doing.

Why was this happening to him?

The woman turned on the hairdryer. The whirring of its engine and the hiss of rushing air made him freeze. The woman reached out with some sort of cylindrical brush in one hand and the hairdryer in the other. He winced as she rolled a portion of his hair over the brush and then blasted him with hot air.

Ow… his scalp was burning.

He just couldn't imagine how women did this all the time. It was ridiculous, painful and annoying. Obviously he'd underestimated them.

He found himself holding his breath and squeezing his eyes shut. It would be over soon… it had to be.

000

(Ukyou's POV)

Well… it wasn't going too badly.

She carefully readjusted her stride, focussing on moving with her shoulders instead of her hips…

No, not going too badly at all.

But she needed practice; which was why she was here, wandering about Nerima's shopping district. Wandering around dressed as a boy – which wasn't even remotely unusual for her… but this time she was acting like a boy, she was thinking like a boy… she was a boy in all but body. Or so she hoped.

She needed to be good enough to convince Ranchan that she was willing to make this sacrifice so that they could be together. To convince him that she really, honestly, completely and totally loved him and was willing to accept his little… idiosyncrasies.

She sighed, she had to act fast. If she wasn't careful Kiyoshi Kurosawa would steal her Ranchan and then where would she be?

She needed him.

A giggle drew her attention and she looked to her left.

Oh my…

There were girls, young women actually, and they were… they were… at her

Oh… well, it was sort of flattering.

Obviously they didn't go to Furinkan so they didn't recognise her and she supposed she made a reasonably good looking boy.

Er…

She blushed and looked away. She just wasn't attracted to girls.

Which might be a problem with Ranchan, as she had this tiny, awful suspicion that maybe he wasn't actually gay. Maybe he was just a woman trapped in a man's body… she's heard such things happened, sometimes, and he did seem awfully fond of running around in his female form. But for Ranchan she could endure… she would make herself attracted to his female form.

She would.

Or so she hoped… it had to work though, it had to.

She drew herself up and turned to the girls. Forcing a flirtatious smile onto her face she almost laughed when they giggled and blushed. It made her feel powerful, in a strange way.

She let that sense of power, that confidence, buoy her along. She strutted down the street, feeling like… hoping she looked like one of those really confident boys. Arrogant, smug, confident... maybe confidence would be enough to sway Ranchan, make him see her.

So she swaggered, she smiled, she winked, and grinned, and flirted. Even as it felt alien, wrong, it got easier, so much easier. And then…

Then she saw him. Her. Stepping out of a hairdresser's; wearing soft summery colours and her hair… a fall of lustrous crimson.

Ranchan.

000

(Kiyoshi's POV)

Well… That's what he got for being late. Later than usual anyway.

Apparently Ranma was out somewhere with Nodoka. So… what was he going to do?

He could go home, or go somewhere else… but… what else was there for him to do in Nerima? Who else did he know?

Ryu was… somewhere, and he wasn't overly fond of the idea of spending the day in his mother's company…

He could always use this time to get to know Akane. Well… Akane and Mousse, as they seemed to be a matched set currently.

He looked over to Akane, who was sitting with her elbow on the table and staring off into space.

Maybe he should just find somewhere to nap until Ranma came back.

He didn't feel… comfortable here.

Breakfast had been rather less bountiful than usual… as well as rather awkward. Akane had been lost deep in thought and Mousse sitting next to her and not looking at anyone; neither of them had eaten anything, he wondered if they had eaten earlier. The panda was sulking in the corner, but he had greedily stuffed his face when Kasumi had called him over, Nabiki hadn't said anything; which he thought was a little strange, the Tendou patriarch hadn't come out of his room, and Kasumi kept touching her lips and giving little, secretive smiles.

He missed Ranma.

He felt comfortable with Ranma… without his fiancée… well he realised that he didn't really know any of these people. Why was he even here?

Kasumi had left a while ago now, she'd gone shopping. Genma had left also, but he hadn't said where he was going… and that just left himself, Akane, Mousse and Nabiki in the house… well, and Soun, but he didn't think that counted.

Still looking as though her mind was elsewhere Akane suddenly spoke, "Mousse?"

The boy startled and looked at her apprehensively, "Yes, Akane?"

"What's your mother like?"

The boy obviously hadn't been expecting the question because he blinked at her for a moment, opened his mouth a few times as though to say something before finally gathering himself, "She's strong, intelligent, brave… a fearsome warrior… why?"

Akane turned and studied the boy, "Because Cologne said that she expects her to be coming here when she finds out about… about this… and that she won't be happy. Cologne sounded worried. Scared even."

Mousse was obviously gob smacked. "What? Why…? I mean… Why?"

Akane frowned at him and had just opened her mouth to say something when Nabiki looked up from the manga she was reading and nonchalantly said, "Well then, shouldn't you do something about his clothes? If she's so scary?"

Akane froze and stared at her sister before shaking her head and sighing, "I don't have any money."

"I could lend you some, if you'd like." Nabiki smirked at her.

Akane arched her brow at Nabiki, "I don't think so. I'm not stupid."

"Come on," Nabiki gave her sister an indulgent smile, "I won't even charge you interest."

"Why?" Akane squinted at her sister with suspicion, "That's not like you Nabiki."

Nabiki smirked, "Can't a girl do something nice for her sister?"

Akane gave her a flat look.

Nabiki sighed and shook her head, "Ok. Firstly, I don't exactly want you getting pulverised by a rampaging Amazon. Secondly… I'm bored. I want to go out and do something. So I thought I could come with you, maybe something interesting might happen."

Akane bit her lip and looked away for a minute or so before turning back to Nabiki with a serious look, "How much?"

"Will I lend you?" Nabiki asked.

Akane nodded.

"However much you need."

Akane took another moment to think about it and then nodded her head decisively. She got to her feet at and looked down at Mousse who gave her a nervous smile and carefully stood as well. Nabiki languidly stretched and rose to her feet, she looked down at him and smirked, "You coming?"

Him? She was inviting him along?

Oh well, he had nothing better to do.

000

(Ranma's POV- female)

He didn't know what Ukyou was playing at.

He really didn't.

At least she wasn't dressed like that anymore, but he didn't know if he liked the new her anymore than that her. He just missed the old her.

She was smiling at him again, That horrible, flirtatious smile. Coming out of a face and body that his mind kept trying to tell him was male. He didn't know what to think.

It was confusing him. As were her actions.

She was acting like he was a girl. Being all flirty and chivalrous… she'd even pulled out the seat for him. And there she was, sitting across from him, looking at him all funny and charming his mother.

His mother who seemed to think that she was a friend of his. Of Ranma's. A friend that was obviously interested in 'Ranko'.

His mother seemed to think it was cute. She'd whispered something horrible and embarrassing into his ear earlier. It was bad enough that she thought he was interested in Kiyoshi… or whatever she thought about the mess… but to have her think he was interested in not one but two boys was mortifying.

Absolutely mortifying.

He lifted a spoon full of parfait to his lips, scowling at Ukyou and his laughing mother. The last thing he wanted right now was to be sitting in this nice little café, eating this remarkably tasty confection and watching Ukyou pretend to be a boy and make his mother laugh.

He should have refused to spend the day with her, with his mother, then he could have been lurking around the Dojou. Napping, or sparring with Kiyoshi, helping Akane with something… maybe even baking.

But no… instead he was here. Bored, embarrassed, unhappy, wanting to be elsewhere…

He sighed and scooped up another bite of parfait.

A particularly loud giggle from his mother made him wince. Anywhere but here. He wished he was anywhere but here.

000

(Nabiki's POV)

It was strange. So strange… she was really getting a chance to see a different side of her sister. A side she found she liked.

Akane was unconsciously taking control of the situation. Deciding where they were going, how long they'd spend there…

Nabiki was pleasantly surprised at how rational Akane was being. She seemed to have worked out in her head everything that Mousse needed and was taking them from shop to shop without getting distracted. She didn't think that she'd seen Akane gazing at something for herself even once.

They'd started out getting Mousse some essentials. Underwear, socks and the like. She was actually quite proud of the fact that she'd somehow resisted making some of the comments that had flashed through her mind when Akane had been picking out underwear. She didn't need to antagonise her sister, she wasn't that bored.

Though she was bored. She'd forgotten how tedious it was watching other people shop.

But Akane was doing a good job; she was even trying to get things that Mousse liked. It was kind of sweet, in a weird way, watching Akane with Mousse. She was gentle with him, patient. She always asked if he saw anything he liked and never lost her temper when he was hesitant about telling her.

The side of Akane that she was seeing was one that Ranma could never bring out in her sister. She was actually beginning to think that maybe Mousse would be good for Akane. She definitely thought that Akane would be good for Mousse.

The way he acted sometimes gave her the feeling that he was actually surprised that Akane was treating him like a sentient being. It was… mildly disconcerting.

She looked over to where Akane was holding out a couple of shirts to Mousse, one a deep maroon red and the other a pale blue, it seemed that her sister was asking the boy what he thought of them. Mousse said something too quietly for her to hear, but whatever it was Akane must have heard it as she put both of the shirts into their basket.

Nabiki looked over to Kiyoshi, who was looming a little way away.

Every now and then Akane would ask him his opinion of something for Mousse, but otherwise he didn't say anything. Do anything. He just loomed.

He looked as bored as she felt. She wondered why he'd agreed to come with them, but then… it wasn't like he had anything else to do, not with Ranma elsewhere.

She wasn't exactly sure what to think of him, but she didn't think he was a bad person. A little anti-social, sure… but the way he did look at Ranma when Ranma was there.

No one who could look at another person like that, with that much devotion, that much awe, could be a bad person.

Oh gods. She was turning into a sappy idiot.

"Come on, let's go to the next shop," called out Akane.

She sighed and followed. It was time to watch more of her precious money getting flushed away.

Why had she volunteered to give Akane a loan? Particularly an interest free loan?

She must be loosing her mind. Or going soft in her old age…

Maybe it was all the good will she had left over from seeing Hitomi the day before.

Hitomi.

She shook herself out of her thoughts before more than a flash of those beautiful eyes and shapely legs could cross her mind.

She couldn't let this… whatever it was of hers divert her from her ambitions in life.

She was going to marry Tatewaki Kuno. That was it.

Of course she could always cheat on him. She doubted very much that he'd be faithful.

She sighed… Oh well.

She watched as Akane's purchases were rung up and then they were off.

Off to find another shop.

She strolled along a few steps behind Akane and Mousse, who she had to admit did make a good looking couple (cross-dressing aside), almost next to Kiyoshi.

Kiyoshi who suddenly stopped.

She turned to see what had caught his attention and found her attention seized.

In the window of one of the shops was a group of delicate, life-like mannequins wearing truly gorgeous festival yukatas.

It was a whimsical, beautiful scene.

The mannequins were grouped together as though they were a group of young women walking together, talking and giggling. They were set against a painted backdrop full of brightly coloured festival booths.

She turned to look at Kiyoshi, just briefly. Taking in the wistful, longing expression on his face.

He was imagining Ranma, she just knew it, and she could see it. Could see Ranma wearing one of those yukatas and walking along hand in hand with Kiyoshi.

It was and almost… idyllic… scene.

She looked back to the mannequins and found herself captured.

There at the back, almost behind a blonde mannequin wearing a flashy orange yukata, was…

Pale lilac coloured, an elegant chrysanthemum pattern… such a beautiful yukata.

The mannequin wearing it had short black hair and was holding a fan over most of its face…

Oh…

Hitomi. She could see it on Hitomi, it would look so beautiful. She would look so beautiful.

Of course her moment of ridiculous sentimentality had to be ruined.

There, strutting across that lovely visage, interrupting her line of sight… Yuuka and Aoi.

Resentment, anger, hatred…

She was seething with it.

She closed her eyes, she took ten deep breaths and she distanced herself from it. She was stringer than them, smarter than them, better than them… and she'd had her vengeance long ago.

She opened her eyes.

She turned away from the window display and began to walk towards the shop that Akane and Mousse had entered.

She felt cool, cold really, calm, collected….

000

(Ranma's POV – Female)

Nodoka had gone into one of the shops by herself, leaving him alone with Ukyou.

"What are you doing Ucchan?"

She looked at him, studied him…

"It's ok Ranchan; I understand. I accept you just the way you are. Don't you see, we can be happy together." She sounded… so forceful, so convinced… what did she think? That if she acted like a boy he'd magically fall in love with her?

Why wouldn't she listen to him? Why wouldn't anyone listen to him?

Feeling as though the weight of the world was crushing him he tried to reason with her, "Ukyou, it won't work. I'm not gay. I'm not. Why won't you believe me?"

She gave him this sweet, slightly manic smile, "its ok. I do understand. You don't have to pretend with me Ranchan; I accept that you really want to be a girl. I accept it so much that I'm willing to go to Jusenkyou, to find the Spring of Drowned Man, so that we can be together."

WHAT?!

This was…

HOLY…

He didn't know what he was going to do, how he was going to react. His mind was reeling.

She thought what?!

She…

She had taken advantage of his complete disorientation.

She was…

She was kissing him.

Hot, wet, warm…

His eyes were still open and it looked, it felt like he was being kissed by a boy. But not like Mikado Senzenin… no…

For a moment, just a moment, he found himself relaxing into the kiss. Letting her kiss him… but no.

It was wrong.

She was wrong…

She didn't feel right, she didn't smell right, she wasn't warm enough… she didn't make him feel safe.

She wasn't…

He wrenched himself away from her, briefly noting her flushed cheeks and wide eyes, and then… then he fled.

He ran.

He ran.

As fast as he could, as far away from her as he could go.

He ran blindly.

He ran and ran and ran until…

Thwack.

He ran headlong into someone.

Someone large, warm…

Someone who didn't stagger from the force of their collision.

Kiyoshi.

He didn't even need to look up to know who it was, he recognised that scent.

But he did, he looked up, into Kiyoshi's wide dark eyes.

He felt… safe.

000

(Ukyou's POV)

No.

NO!

She hadn't… she had hoped so much… but she hadn't

When she kissed him she felt nothing.

Nothing.

000