By Ninnik Nishukan
Chapter One: Farewell, Furinkan!
So, graduation had finally come. They were all sitting there in their school uniforms, and all the boys were looking tidier than usual. Even Kuno-chan, who more often than not wore his kendo uniform even to class, was looking rather severe, covered in black from head to toe as he was. Sometimes Nabiki wondered who had designed the Furinkan uniform for boys. It looked like they were all attending a funeral and not a happy occasion such as a graduation ceremony should be.
And those tight, black collars had to be uncomfortable. Maybe she could even make a joke about him needing to loosen his collar if he said something stiff and Kuno-like as usual?
Nah, too lame.
The uniform for girls, on the other hand, with its little white blouse with the cutesy collar under a blue dress with the big ribbon on the back made all the female students look like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz or some sort of milkmaids or something.
Nabiki sighed. A room full of milkmaids and funeral directors watching a man who thought life was a constant Hawaiian holiday make a speech about how disappointed he was that they were all leaving before he'd had the chance to shave all their heads first.
Oh, what fun.
In the row in front of her, Kimiko and Momoe were whispering to each other animatedly, occasionally glancing over at Kuno-chan. She caught the gist of the hot topic not because she could hear them properly, but because she saw them pointing surreptitiously first at Kuno-chan, then at his father on the stage.
Nabiki rolled her eyes; Kimiko and Momoe were always flapping their jaws about something. Sometimes it was useful to her because she could blackmail them for things she'd overheard them talking about or because she could get juicy rumours from them, but a lot of the time she thought it was really annoying the way they were always talking crap about someone. Nabiki didn't actually care for talking about people behind their backs; she was just interested in making money off of the fact that other people did.
Leaning forward, Nabiki poked Momoe in the back; it felt satisfying when she jumped in her chair, startled. "I'll raise your interest rates," Nabiki whispered calmly, leaning nonchalantly back in her chair to watch the expressions of true terror appearing on their now suddenly pale faces.
"Why are you defending that nutcase?" Kimiko hissed when she'd put two and two together. She'd always been the gutsier of the two, even in the face of the severe debt they still hadn't managed to pay back to her before graduation.
Nabiki smirked. "Kuno-chan's always been a much better customer than you two."
Kimiko's eyes narrowed with malign intent. "Yeah, I bet he ha—"
"You two wahines bettah not be talking during de big ceremony!" The Principal's voice suddenly boomed.
Kimiko and Momoe froze, probably fearing for their hair. Since they'd been sitting with their backs facing the stage when they were talking to Nabiki, it had been very obvious to the Principal that they hadn't been paying any attention, while Nabiki, facing front and looking quite attentive, got away with it.
There was some sporadic, muffled laughter across the room. Kimiko and Momoe both blushed and tried to become as invisible as possible while the Principal continued in his speech.
From the other side of the room, in the section for boys, Tatewaki looked over at the two girls sitting in front of Nabiki, cowering in their seats, and then at Nabiki herself, relaxing comfortably in her seat and wearing a rather smug grin. He frowned as he wondered what had happened.
Though she never made a big deal out of herself, it always seemed as if she was up to something. Or maybe he just had a naturally guarded disposition around her because he knew what she was capable of.
She certainly had a knack for finding your weak spots and exploiting them, but she always did in such a way that you'd find yourself agreeing with what she was saying, almost to the point where it seemed so logical that you thought you'd come up with it yourself.
After a while, though, he'd become less and less gullible around her, calling her on her true intentions; the problem was just that he somehow still found himself complying to her even though he knew what she was up to. Maybe it was because she mostly never actually tricked people in a way that would be harmful to anything other than their wallets. And she knew that Kuno Tatewaki had a pretty sizable wallet. And maybe it was because she'd always managed to have something he wanted, whether it was information or photos or notes from class.
In a way, it was going to be quite strange never seeing her again. She was one of the few people except for his peers at the kendo club who willingly talked to him at school, and who even seemed to enjoy doing so. To his great surprise, she'd kept on bothering him with her teasing and her banter even after he'd stopped buying pictures from her and had stopped asking her about her sister last Christmas.
She'd talked to him a little less often, of course, but even so, she'd always seemed to have some sort of excuse to talk to him, whether it was just to make fun of him for something he'd said in class, or to compare their test scores— she almost always did better than him, and loved to tease him about it— or to try to convince him to place a bet with her. Once, she'd even gone as far as asking him if he wanted to partner up for a project, but he'd been so shocked that he hadn't even managed to answer before one of her friends had come and asked her instead.
Sometimes he wondered what would've happened, how Nabiki usually studied and how she treated people working with her. He had a feeling she'd treat him sterner than her friends. She never made things easy for him.
But this was going to be it. When this ceremony was over, they never had to return to Furinkan ever again, and Kuno Tatewaki's money would be safe from Tendo Nabiki's greedy hands. The chances were high that he'd never see her again. She'd already been accepted to a school and he wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do yet, and since money wasn't an issue, he was going to take some time for himself to figure out his future. He had no family business that forced him to walk a certain path, so he was thinking he might see if there was anywhere he could teach kendo. He knew of a couple of schools in the area where he could apply.
As for love, he was just going to forget about it for a while. Tendo Akane was…unavailable now, and the pig-tailed girl— he felt sick whenever he even thought about how wrong he'd been. How was it even possible not to notice that the girls you were smitten with were not only not interested in you in the least, but were in fact in love with each other because it turned out that one of the girls wasn't even a girl at all, but your very male nemesis?
Kuno wasn't going to fool himself; he was sure he'd be chasing some other girl before he knew it, but at least perhaps he could try to be a little more careful this time.
Gods, this uniform was awful, and the collar was the most horrible part of it, all tight and stiff and choking. Grimacing as he tried to wedge a finger into the collar and loosen it a bit, he felt eyes on him; glancing over at the other side of the room, he locked eyes with Nabiki, who was looking rather amused as she tried to cover up her chuckle with her hand. Feeling discomposed and irritable at the attention, he left his collar alone and tried to get a bit more comfortable in his seat, his face feeling hot as she openly scrutinized him.
Without even really doing anything, and even when in the opposite corner of a room, that girl still had the ability to make him feel stupid. She'd always been just about the only person who always managed to pop his ego like a balloon. How did she do it?
Principal Kuno had tried to suggest they have a school dance before the graduation ceremony, but nearly each and every student had voted against it. Apparently no one could get out of this school fast enough and away from Principal Kuno, Miss Hinako and the general chaos the school attracted because Ranma was still a student there.
Still, a dance might've been nice, Nabiki thought wistfully, before shaking her head at herself. Correction; a dance at any other school might've been nice.
She would've loved wearing a sexy ball gown, though. Something in black. Or red, maybe. Nabiki didn't dress up much usually. For everyday situations she preferred pants, for practical reasons. A lot of other girls spent a lot of time dolling themselves up with frilly skirts and high heels and cute tops, but Nabiki didn't bother. If she was going to dress up, she was going to go all out, and you couldn't exactly go grocery shopping in a cocktail dress. You needed a special occasion, and now she didn't have one.
Oh well. She shrugged. With the future she was planning for herself, there would be plenty of special occasions. She'd already been accepted to the business school she'd wanted to go to.
Although…seeing Kuno-chan and the other boys in tuxedos would've been neat as well. The boys in the graduating classes were certainly well on their way to becoming men, and Kuno-chan most of all. He'd always been the tallest boy in their year, and his long, lean face and exceptionally broad shoulders made him look just a little more mature— in which case appearances where deceiving, as Kuno-chan was about as mature as a freshly made piece of cheese— than the other boys, and they'd even asked him a couple of times if he could try and buy cigarettes and beer for them, but of course he always refused to do it, like the total stick in the mud that he was. Nabiki didn't think Kuno had ever been invited to a party during high school, and especially not after his more eccentric behaviour started during second year after Ranma and Akane and his father came to Furinkan.
It might've been interesting to see how he behaved himself in a party situation before she never saw him again. A little send off, kinda.
Nabiki bit her lip, lost in thought. She was going to miss her friends, but most of them, at least the closest ones…well, she knew she'd keep in touch with them, but she had no valid reason to keep in touch with Kuno-chan, and he probably wouldn't even want to.
Kuno-chan, with all of his boastful, showboating behaviour had, in her mind, become sort of a mascot for Furinkan. He was the first thing she thought of when she thought of her school, because he was what she associated Furinkan with. He'd just always been such a powerful presence, had always puzzled, amused and sometimes disgusted her. You might try, but you just couldn't ignore Kuno Tatewaki. She was sure that everybody from her class— and most likely anyone who'd ever been to school with him— would remember him, just like everybody would remember Ranma.
The first time Tatewaki had met Nabiki was on his first day of school at Furinkan, at sixteen. There was something about her mellow, yet mischievous voice, her secretive smile and her somewhat unusual, tilting haircut that told him she might be interesting.
He'd been right about that, but he'd been completely misguided in thinking he might be able to chat her up.
One sentence from him, in his normal speaking pattern, and he'd been on the receiving end of one of the most cynical, cool looks he'd ever seen. Not managing to get out another word after this treatment, he'd simply retreated to his desk, and that had been that.
Other girls would've given him a kind of startled, disbelieving look and started looking around for an escape route, but Nabiki had only appeared as if she was the unfortunate attendant of a particularly boring lecture about pocket lint or something. And she'd never moved. She'd simply waited for him to go away.
One day, though, about a month or two into their first year, when he'd been challenged to a fight in the school yard by one of the older boys and had lost spectacularly, having been knocked totally unconscious, he'd awoken in the nurse's office to find Tendo Nabiki sitting there on a chair next to him.
Nabiki had smirked a little, obviously enjoying herself. "What do you think? You were knocked out."
Blinking and placing a hand to his forehead as he'd tried to sit up, he'd almost gasped when Nabiki suddenly grabbed both of his shoulders, pushing him back down on the sick bed. "The nurse said you should wait for a while before trying to get up."
Tatewaki had felt suddenly self-conscious and a bit irritated at her bossy tone. "Shouldn't you be in class?" He asked sourly.
She'd shrugged as she wrung up a wet cloth and placed it on his forehead. "I got some time off to bring you here."
He'd given her a slightly sceptical, yet surprised look. "I thank you for that, Tendo Nabiki." He'd said, deciding it was probably best to be polite.
She'd only grinned. "Any time, Kuno-chan."
After that, she'd stopped ignoring him. In fact she even actively searched him out sometimes just to annoy him, but the way she addressed him was rude and a bit overbearing and she just wouldn't stop calling him Kuno-chan no matter how many times he ordered her to. He didn't really like her that much. It grated on his nerves every time he heard that wretched nickname and each time she demonstrated that she could outfox him in any situation. Sometimes he even found himself wishing she was a boy so he could challenge her to a fight and knock some sense into her, because he sure couldn't challenge her when it came to school matters.
She always seemed to be one step ahead, especially when it came to maths.
And each time he got knocked out in a fight, it was always Nabiki's bored, exasperated gaze— or her amused smirk, depending on how the fight had gone and what kind of mood she was in— that met him when he woke up at the nurse's office. It was completely humiliating to him, and it was beyond him why she kept doing it. Was she really that much of a sadist?
Tatewaki hated how much she obviously liked making him lose his composure, but at least she made life interesting, if nothing else
When the ceremony was over and they'd all received their diplomas, Yuki came over to her when they were all hanging around aimlessly outside of school in a sort of collective incredulity— they were that stunned that they were finally done with Furinkan— and asked her if she wanted to come along with him and the others for some dinner and karaoke.
Hesitating for a second or two, she shook her head apologetically. "You guys go ahead. I have some business to attend to."
Yuki tilted his head a little in bafflement. "Business now? Don't you wanna celebrate? It's the end of the evil reign of Principal Kuno! "
Nabiki shook her head firmly. "I need to have a word with Principal Kuno Junior," She explained, pointing her thumb over her shoulder towards Kuno.
Yuki looked disappointed. "What for?" seemed to be the unspoken question in his eyes. Nabiki had always suspected he might have some sort of thing for her, but she just wasn't interested if he did. "Okay, but you'll be along later, right? We'll be at the Karaoke Box after dinner, you know which one."
Nabiki smiled fleetingly at him, nodding. "See you guys later." With that, she turned to speak to Kuno-chan before he left for good.
Tatewaki frowned with confusion as he saw all of Nabiki's friends leaving while she remained, waving goodbye to them. What was she hanging around alone here for? He was even more confused when she suddenly turned and started walking towards him, and he glanced behind him to see if she'd seen someone else she wanted to talk to, but there was nobody there. Glancing apprehensively at the girl's approach, he braced himself for whatever parting words she might see fit to send him off with. It wouldn't be anything actually mean, never that, but it would doubtlessly be something that was designed to bug him for the rest of his natural existence.
"Kuno Tatewaki," She smirked as she reached him, tilting her hip as she came to a halt.
"Tendo-chan," He said ironically, letting it slip before he'd gotten to think twice about it.
Nabiki raised her eyebrows at him before she laughed briefly. "How about you take me out to dinner for old time's sake?" She suggested coyly, cutting right to the chase. Then she put on that sugary sweet voice she used when she wanted to be really sarcastic or when she wanted something from him. Or both.
"I'll promise I won't ever bother you again, Kuno-chan."
That's what I'm afraid of. To his own dismay, it felt like a cold stone had just dropped into his stomach. "Dinner?" He ground out.
This time, she only cocked one eyebrow. "You know, the meal one usually eats after breakfast and lunch?"
He closed his eyes for a second, exasperated. "I mean…why?"
"Because we're both hungry?" She offered in a flat tone.
"Why didn't you go with your friends?" He asked suspiciously.
She chuckled. "My, my, my, we're really asking a lot of questions today, aren't we?"
He pursed his lips in irritation and sent her an impatient look. "Nabiki—"
"I can see them whenever," She interrupted him. "Besides, they can't afford to buy me dinner." She gave him a hopeful smile.
"Why would I buy you dinner?" Kuno demanded.
Nabiki was as unaffected as ever. "I don't know, why would you?" She retorted.
"Because I have nothing better to do, apparently," He said in a tight voice. By now, he was growing quite indignant. What did she think she—
"Me, neither," Nabiki joked lightly as she left Furinkan for good, pulling him with her by his sleeve.
Author's note: The title Proxemics concerns "the study of the symbolic and communicative role in a culture of spatial arrangements and variations in distance, as in how far apart individuals engaged in conversation stand depending on the degree of intimacy between them". (Source: Kuno Asks Questions is a sort of prequel or companion piece to Proxemics.
I'm keeping the chapters short for once.
Kimiko, Momoe and Yuki aren't actually characters in Ranma ½, not really; I just needed to make up some names for some of those anonymous students always hanging around in the background near Nabiki.
Proxemics is inspired in part by Richard Lawson's Needs and Desires, and most specifically the scene where Kuno puts Nabiki's name into a poem.
Later chapters will have mature content. You have been warned.
Statement: There are just too, too few Nabiki/Kuno lemons out there! Hell, there are too few general Nabiki/Kuno stories, as well! Please write!