Ranma 1/2
Relative Peace

Part 1
Meetings





Ranma relaxed on the roof and slowly let out his breath as he
stared at the night sky. The day had been a busy one, with the going
away party for Nabiki. Not one to enjoy parties all that much, he
reluctantly attended when Akane dragged him downstairs. It wasn't too
bad, just a lot of people talking, some small food items (they were
barely big enough to make a dent in his appetite), and some dancing.

Of course, it didn't help that most of the people there were
friends of Nabiki. Translation: they were girls and they were 100% loyal
and obedient to Nabiki only.

He sighed. It was bound to happen. One of the girls asked him
to dance just as he was working up the courage to ask Akane for one. His
eyes met hers across the dojo and he felt a wave of emotion well up, not
entirely unpleasant. She was wearing a beautiful white sun dress, and
had some white flower in her hair that made her look absolutely
incredible. To cover his reaction up, he quickly looked away, missing
the hurt look that momentarily flashed across Akane's face as she
returned to talking to her friends.

Pounding his thigh in frustration, he decided to make a move.
Getting up, he started to walk across the dojo, nonchalantly making his
way over to her. That's when Tomoe tapped him on the shoulder and asked
him to dance. Before he could say anything, she had already grabbed him
and pulled in onto the floor, holding him close for the slow dance
number. Ranma couldn't think of any way to get out of it, so he just
decided to go with it and ask Akane to the next dance.

Bad move.

As soon as the song was over, he attempted to disengage, but
Tomoe leaned over and kissed him before letting go. By the time he got
to Akane, she was in no mood to talk to him. In fact, she booted him out
of the dojo when he tried to explain.

And that's why he was on the roof now, where he had been since
he left the party two hours ago.

His reverie was broken when a soft pair of footfalls landed
somewhere behind him. Someone had leaped up to the roof so he guessed it
was Akane. The training over the past year they had occasionally done
together had given her increased strength and speed. For once, Ranma had
wanted to train her... ever since China... and Saffron. Now she was
almost on par with Shampoo.

"Ranma?" he heard her voice call. Ranma didn't say anything, so
Akane took this as a sign to continue on. She walked over and sat down
beside him.

"Is the party over?" he asked casually, noticing she had changed
into a pair of jeans and a T-shirt.

"Yeah, Nabiki left 30 minutes ago." She pulled her knees up to
her chest and rested her chin on them.

First good thing to happen today. "Good."

Akane over at him and scowled. "What do you mean by that? She's
my sister!"

Ranma snorted. "Maybe, but I know she hates me. At least now she
won't be manipulating, extorting, or taking pictures of me in the nude."

"She's not that bad!" Akane retorted. "Who do you think manages
the investment portfolios that bring in the money needed for all that
food you consume? And besides, she's not going to be nice to you unless
you're nice to her!"

Ranma sat up and was about to yell something back, when he
snapped his mouth closed and laid back down, hands behind his head. "Ah,
forget it. I don't feel like fightin' now."

Akane bit back the insult she was going to hurl, and instead
just sat there, thinking. After a few minutes, she asked, "Ranma, did
you... really mean what... you said, before you left?"

Ranma closed his eyes and remembered. It was just after she
kicked him to the door, he got up and shouted, "I wanted to dance with
you! But if you're gonna get all uncute and jealous about it, then you
can just forget it, tomboy!" When he realized what he said, he turned
his back and headed out of the dojo.

Did he really mean it? Two years I've been here, and one year
since I really decided that I... I... love her... He shook his head.
She's made it clear she doesn't want me. Still... I don't know what I'd
do without her... Feh, I don't need anyone! Another part of him asked,
Then why don't you leave? You've had plenty of opportunity. What keeps
you here?

"Ranma?" came her voice again, bringing him out of his thoughts.

"Yeah, I did, okay?" he muttered. "Like you care."

There was silence for a few more minutes as Akane digested
this. He wanted to dance with me? Why? He doesn't like me, does he?
Images came to her of his declaration in Jusendo. He denied it
afterward... didn't he? No, not exactly, he just said he didn't say it.
Was he thinking it?

After the failed wedding, weeks stretched into months with more
of the same. Every time they seemed to make some iota of progress, it
was ruined or set back by something that interfered. In fact, the only
good thing that seemed to stay was that Ranma had started to take her
seriously during their sparring sessions.

She had learned so much in the past year; she had never felt
more confident of her skill then she did now. Oh sure, she was still no
match for Ranma, but she felt she was rapidly getting to that level.
Soon, she hoped to be able to be a match for Shampoo, so she could show
the bimbo what a real martial artist could do. She could already beat
Kodachi easily, and in fact, she did. The crazed gymnast spent several
days in the hospital after breaking up a pseudo-date Akane was on with
Ranma.

That only left Ukyo, and Akane was at a loss on what to do about
her. When Nabiki had left a little while ago, she suddenly started to
think about what would happen if Ranma were to leave. She found herself
getting scared at the fact that he could leave, alone or with Ukyo.
After all, the okonomiyaki chef was his best friend.

Ranma stood up. "Feh, I'm going to bed." He looked down on her
with eyes that were filled with... what? Longing? Then he turned to go.

Ranma wait, don't leave yet, please? Akane suddenly found
herself wanting to say, but the words wouldn't come out.

Then, he was gone.


-----------------------------------------------------------------


A few days later, Akane was still beating herself up over the
lost opportunity to say something as she jogged in the early pre-dawn
hours. It was yet another one of Ranma's `suggestions'. That if she were
a true martial artist, she'd get up earlier to jog farther. Of course,
she then argued that she would show him.

She laughed to herself. It's just his way of training me, I
guess.

It was still pretty dark and the air around her was chilly, but
after the first five miles her body was generating enough heat to
counteract that. And she wasn't even winded. In fact, she had never felt
better and so... alive! Is this how Ranma and the other's feel? She
suddenly found herself wanting to really test her skills against
someone. She hadn't had a real fight in a long time, not since Kodachi,
and the crazed gymnast wasn't much of a challenge.

She was almost tempted to go find Shampoo, when she sensed
someone following her. The trace was faint and didn't last long, but it
was enough to know that someone was behind her. She knew she'd have to
face this stalker, so she began planning how to confront them. Part of
her was scared at this unknown and the results that might come of it,
but another part of her was looking forward to it.

On the next intersection, she turned the corner and flattened
herself against the wall. She quickly bent down and picked up a small
stone, tossing it down the street to strike some garbage cans.

Sure enough, a figure leaped along the walls and down to the
area where she threw the stone. Focusing, Akane shot down the remaining
distance between her and the cloaked figure. She could see the figure
turn in astonishment, and it was clear he didn't expect this.

Akane lanced out with a sweep kick as she closed, and the
figure jumped over it. She followed up with a high kick while her
opponent was still in the air, but he merely jumped off her outstretched
foot. She leapt into the air after him, exchanging several high speed
and high powered blows, before returning to the ground.

She leapt away as she set down and assessed what she had
learned, just like Ranma taught her. The man was good and Akane knew she
could be in trouble. He had blocked or dodged all of her attacks, yet he
didn't strike her at all. Akane knew she was good, but this guy seemed
to be better. And why was he holding back?

Akane froze, then folded her arms across her chest. "Alright
Ranma, why are you following me?"

"How'd you know?' Ranma asked, sheepishly as he removed the
cloak from his head.

"I've been fighting with you for two years now, I should know
your style by now," she said sternly. "And I know how you dodge."

Ranma cleared his throat. "Well, just testin' ya. See ya back
at the house!" He turned to go.

"Don't you DARE use the Saotome Secret Technique!" came the
command.

Ranma froze... and gulped... and turned back around to face
her. He could tell when his fiancee was angry.

"Now, why were you following me?" she asked in a somewhat softer
voice.

"I told ya, I was just testin' ya!" he repeated.

She smirked. "You were worried about me."

He snorted. "Yeah right. Why would I be worried about a macho
chick like..."

"You would!" she blurted out, interrupting him. "Why can't you
just say it for once!?"

"Say what?" he challenged her.

She sputtered. "You know... that you.. well..."

"I told ya I was just testin' ya," he said, turning around to
go.

"No, I think you still don't trust me!" she yelled out suddenly.
"After all this time, you still don't think I can take of myself!"

"That's not it at all!" he said, voice rising.

Akane nearly exploded. "Oh yes it is! This is always how it is!
You never think I'll be okay by myself. Even though you started training
me, you still don't think I'll be good enough!"

Ranma lost it. "Dammit, Akane! If you knew what could be
lurking out here..."

Akane lost it, too. "You were the one who suggested I get up
earlier for my jogs! Besides, I CAN take care of myself, I was doing it
long before you showed up! I DON'T NEED A JERK LIKE YOU!" She stopped,
holding a hand to her mouth. Oh no, what did I say!?

Ranma was struck by the statement, but tried not to show it.
And if had stopped to think about the implications of his next
statement, experience would tell him it wasn't a good thing. "Fine then!
I don't want an uncute, macho, jock chick holding me back anyway!"

Akane's anger returned. "WHAT did you say!?" She charged forward
again and swung.

Ranma ducked to the side and Akane's blow whizzed by. He dodged
her next punch as well, and then began to move back under the furious
assault.

Akane's anger was making her attacks stronger, but less
skillful. As a result she wasn't able to connect with her moving target,
but instead inflicted a LOT of collateral damage. With each punch or
kick she threw, a part of her screamed at her to stop this, that it
wasn't what she really wanted. Another part of her told her to lash out
in the only way she knew how, to hurt the thing that hurt her.

Ranma was at a loss of what to do at the moment, besides dodge.
Internally, his conscience said he caused this, that he had hurt Akane.
As usual, his pride argued back, saying he wasn't at fault. For some
reason, the former voice gained an edge this time, and slowed Ranma's
speed enough for Akane to connect with an uppercut that sent him flying
into a concrete wall.

As the jackhammer pounded inside his brain, Ranma groggily
noted Akane approaching him with a fist raised. He knew he couldn't
dodge this time, and prepared to absorb the blow. At the last second,
however, something flashed through Akane's eyes, and she diverted the
fist into the wall beside him.

When Ranma recovered enough to move and fully sense the world
around him, his ears caught the sound of crying. Looking up, he could
see Akane walking away with her head down. And she was the source of the
sound that wrenched his heart in so many ways.

An instinctive voice from within told him to go after her. That
it was his fault and he should help her. His pride argued otherwise, but
he found it easier to shove it down this time. Shakily regaining his
feet, he called after her.

"Akane?"

She continued on as if she hadn't heard him.

"Akane, please stop." A little louder. This time, she did stop
moving, but not crying. He walked over to stand behind her. "Akane... I-
I'm sorry. I-wasn't thinkin' again and I..."

She suddenly swung around and buried her head in his chest,
throwing her arms around his waist and forcing him onto his butt. There
she collapsed and sobbed into his shirt. Ranma was paralyzed for a
minute at this sudden change, but he slowly put his arms around her and
pulled her into his lap, hoping for once in his life it was the right
thing to do. It was.

Akane slowly cried herself out over the next twenty minutes.
Eventually Ranma felt her body slacken against his as she snuggled
against him, her head resting on his shoulder. His brain was still
sputtering on what to do, when he felt her breathing slow and even out.
Looking down, he saw her eyes were closed and knew she was asleep.

Well, what do ya know. I don't think I'm ever gonna understand
women. He looked up. Well, can't stay here, I better get her back to
the house. Slowly, with one arm cradling her head and the other holding
up her legs, he stood up and carried her down the street.

As he reached the dojo, the sun began to peak over the horizon
and Ranma knew the rest of the family would be up soon. He really didn't
want to go in like this, so he leapt to Akane's window and slid it open
with his foot. Once inside, he gently bent down and laid his fiancee
down onto her bed. Her arms momentarily locked around his neck, but he
managed to slide them off and disengage himself.

As she stepped away, he briefly heard her mumble in her sleep.

"Ranma... please don't go... don't leave me, Ranma... I'm
sorry... please..."

He couldn't resist reaching down to brush her cheek, and Akane
seemed to settle down and smile slightly at his touch. Then, his resolve
set in and he climbed up to the window.

Turning back to the sleeping girl, he whispered, "I won't ever
leave you, Akane. I promise. Just... don't leave me."

Then, Ranma was gone and the window was closed. Inside, Akane
smiled and slept peacefully.




-----------------------------------------------------------------




Neither Ranma nor Akane said much to each other over the next
several days. Akane had returned to her normal 10-mile jogging routine,
but only started later in order to get more sleeping-in time. That was
part of the reason she fell asleep in Ranma's arms; getting up too early
was taking it's toll on her and that, plus the fight and crying, was
enough to knock her out.

Ranma, for the most part, was unsure of how to act or what to
say around his fiancee. Something had changed on that early morning in
April, but he still wasn't quite sure what. All he knew was that he had
hurt her yet again and he didn't even know how.

Unbeknownst to him, Akane was feeling the exact same way. She
knew she had hurt him, and didn't know what to do anymore. At first she
was aiming to smash him hard when he landed on the ground from her first
punch, but then realization popped into her anger clouded brain. It was
yet another one of their stupid senseless fights, and she somehow knew
she had to stop it. After all, deep down she knew this wasn't what she
wanted.

She also knew there were so many times she tried to talk to him
in the past, to sort things out, and almost every single time something
interrupted. It was almost as if the universe was conspiring against
them.

So, when school started again, they were both glad for the same
reason. They would be able to spend some time apart with their friends.
Of course, Kuno (who was attending a local college to stay near his
`loves') still glomped Akane and attacked or glomped Ranma (depending on
gender), Shampoo glomped Ranma, Ukyo made special `I love you'
okonomiyaki's for Ranma, and Akane still got jealous when it looked like
any of the girls were getting somewhere with Ranma.

In short, it was back to business as usual. Only as the weeks
passed, Akane was getting more and more determined to do something about
it. And one day, she saw her opportunity.

It was a Sunday and she was out taking a stroll, just spending
some time alone and out of the house. As she passed through the park,
she caught sight of a man with a red shirt disappear into a more heavily
forested and secluded section.

Her curiosity peaked, she decided to follow. When she glimpsed
the pig-tail, she knew who it was and decided to follow him. Ranma
eventually stopped in a empty glade, causing Akane to dart behind a tree
and watch as he stripped off his shirt and began a kata.

As his chest came into view and he began to move, Akane started
to feel excited. I've seen his chest before, she rationalized. So why
should it affect me now?

She figured it had something to do with his movements; how he
jumped and kicked, punched and twirled about the secluded, forest glade.
She marveled at the movement of his actions, how perfectly they flowed,
like water.

For the first time, she finally understood what the Art was all
about, and how far away she was from achieving it.

And then he was done, a thin sheen of sweat covering his brow,
telling her of the concentration he had put into the kata. As he dabbed
at his face with the towel, Akane decided to make her move. Stepping
into view, but still behind him, she walked a few steps into the glade
and stopped.

"Ranma?" she spoke tentatively. She got no reply. "Can we talk?"

She could hear Ranma sigh. "Why?"

Hurriedly, she searched for a reason, and found one. "Well, we
rarely get time to talk and... I'd like to talk with you a bit... if you
want?"

"You know we'll just end up getting mad at each other again,
`cause I'll say somethin' and you'll hit me..." His voice trailed off.

Akane felt her heart drop as she looked down. "I... do hit you
a lot, don't I?"

Ranma turned back to see her looking down, and not just
physically. "Well, I don't mind gettin' hit, I'm used to it I suppose.
It's just that ya never seem ta give me time to explain myself
sometimes." And ya get so jealous when there's really no need for you
to be.

Akane was shocked as she sat down on a nearby rock. He's used
to being hit by me? She looked up. "I'm... sorry, Ranma. I guess I
just... Do-do you... hate me? I wouldn't blame you if you did..."

He surprised her by walking back over and sitting back down
next to her. "Naw, I don't hate ya. I-I always thought you hated me..."

"No Ranma, I could never... hate you."

The pig-tailed boy turned to gaze into the eyes of the youngest
Tendo daughter... and saw something. A lifetime of martial arts had
taught him to be able to read an opponent, and that skill was screaming
something right now.

His gaze traveled from her deep, brown eyes to her nose, which
he didn't want to admit was cute the way it wrinkled when she was mad.
His eyes dropped lower to her lips, which were slightly open and
inviting... what? He felt the stirring's in his body once again, which
happened whenever he was this close to her. Usually, he tried to make up
some excuse, or change the subject, or hope to be interrupted, rather
then let his body make the decisions for him.

But this time was different, though he didn't know how. Maybe
it was the full moon or the alignment of the planets, but this time he
decided to throw caution to the wind. He might get malleted, but for
once, he thought it just might be worth it.

Akane had been feeling the same stirrings as she studied his
face. Logically, she knew it was wishful thinking to believe something
could come of this. Something always seemed to interrupt, or one of them
would get cold feet, and it would be back to square one. At this moment,
however, she wanted desperately to... what? To kiss him? Why not?

Then, she noticed his face start slowly foreword and her heart
caught in her throat. Is he going to? Will he? He stopped suddenly,
and Akane could feel his hot breath on her lips. Her body unconsciously
shivered in delight in reaction to this.

When Akane didn't show any signs of rejection or running away,
Ranma closed the remaining distance and touched his lips to hers.

The effect was electrifying to both teens. The technique was
poor, since neither had any experience in kissing. Well, Ranma had a
little if you count Mikado or Shampoo, but he never kissed them back.
Still, he approached it like a martial arts technique, and like any
technique, he improved upon it by the second.

Akane was kissing him back now, trying to live in the moment as
everything else fell away except her lips on his. Adrenaline was
flooding her body, yet she was starting to feel very weak. A small part
of her brain decided it was a good kind of weakness, however.

She added more passion to it, wanting to make up in a few
moments the feelings and missed emotions that had been building in her
for two years. Her hands unconsciously went up to cup his face.

And then she realized how very much she had been wanting this!
It was everything that she could have hoped for and more, yet she
couldn't stop the few tears that leaked out of her closed eyelids.

After several moments Ranma pulled back to look at her, his
body shaking somewhat despite his attempts at control. Akane wanted to
lunge foreword and kiss him again, but a small look of... fear? passing
his eyes made her stop. Her hands dropped from his face.

Then there was a gust of wind and he was gone. She collapsed on
the grass as she rode out the aftereffects of the moment. Her body
slowly returned to normal from it's trembling state, and she could still
feel his lips on hers. After taking several minutes to recover, she
quickly retreated from the glen.

As she walked home, her hand reached up to touch her lips,
wondering at the fact that just a short time ago they had been caressed
by Ranma's own. Glancing around, she realized other people were in the
vicinity, so she dropped her hand to her side. She thought for sure she
must look different somehow; that everyone should be able to tell easily
that she HAD been kissing Ranma. But if anyone noticed, they didn't give
any sign.

Her thoughts became ever more jumbled as she approached the
dojo. I wonder why he decided to kiss me? And for that matter, why did
he stop? Why did he look afraid when he pulled away?

She had hoped to talk to him again, but he wasn't at the dojo
when she got back. In fact, he didn't arrive home until dinner, then he
promptly disappeared again before she could talk to him.

As she lay in bed that night, she realized that he may not be
ready to talk about what happened. And the more she thought about, the
more she realized that she may not be ready either.



-----------------------------------------------------------------




A couple weeks later she decided it was time.

"Ranma, we need to talk."

The boy in question gulped silently, but continued to read from
the manga he was holding as he sat in the dining room of the Tendo dojo.
He had a pretty good idea what the girl behind him wanted to talk about,
but he wasn't all that sure he wanted to talk about it.

Ranma, for the most part, was confused and somewhat scared.
After he had pulled away from the kiss, he had seen the tears flowing
down her face and she was trembling. Of course, he immediately thought,
Oh no, she didn't want that! I-I forced that kiss! Now I know she
doesn't like me... And then he had left, lest he hurt her again.

His mind naturally misplaced the part where she had been
kissing him back.

And so, he had avoided her for two weeks. Figuring either she
was so upset about it, so he didn't want to upset her more, or that she
was angry with him and he didn't want to be around when she vented that
anger.

But now, here she was. He had thought she'd gone out with
friends, but obviously she hadn't.

"'Bout what?" he asked as nonchalantly as he could. He flipped a
page and began reading the next section.

He heard an exasperated sigh from behind, then Akane walked
around in front of him and knelt down, pulling the manga down with her
to look her fiancee in the eye. "You know what."

Ranma gulped again, and this time Akane caught it. "Ranma, why
are you so afraid about this?"

"I ain't scared of nothin'!" he almost yelled. He was glad that
the house was empty at the moment so no one had heard that. Genma and
Soun had gone to visit the local bars, so they'd be gone for awhile. And
Kasumi had gone with Nodoka to visit an ailing friend, and would be with
her all evening. Of course, Nabiki was still at college.

"Then, why don't you want to talk about this?" she said, almost
as loud. With effort, she calmed herself and her face softened. "Why...
did you kiss me?"

The nervous, pig-tailed boy shrugged, then muttered something
under his breath.

Akane blinked, not quite sure she heard what she heard. "What
did you say? I didn't quite catch that." Ranma shifted, but didn't say
anything. Akane growled in frustration. "Ranma..."

"I just felt like it, okay!?" he finally yelled. "Go ahead an'
hit me."

Akane blinked. "That's it?" her voice raised a few levels. "You
just felt like it!? Silly me. Here I actually thought it might have
meant something, when all I was, was just a cheap thrill for you!" The
next words were spoken at normal volume, and with her back to him. "I
guess I'm just another one of the girls for you then..."

Now it was Ranma's turn to blink. She almost sounds like she
wanted it to mean something... Does she...? "It's not like that at all!
And I don't have, nor do I want, any other girls! You're the only one
that I..." Ranma quickly shut up.

Akane turned around. "Only one that you what?" But he had gone
back to his manga and was trying to ignore her. "Oh no, you're not
getting out of this that easily, not this time!" She ripped the manga
out of his hands.

He leapt to his feet. "What'd you do that for!"

Akane tried to control her anger, but wasn't entirely
successful. "I'm trying to talk to you, and all you can do is fumble
around and ignore me instead of telling me how you really feel!"

"Oh yeah!?" Ranma fumbled for a witty response. "Well, why don't
you tell me how you really feel!?"

Her voice rose in volume. "You want to know how I feel? Then
here!"

Almost without thinking what she was doing, she grabbed the
front of Ranma's blue Chinese shirt and pulled him towards her. Ranma,
stunned at what she was doing (and part of him not wanting to resist),
didn't act until she had pressed her lips to his.

And then they were kissing, really getting into it. While their
first kiss in the secluded glade two weeks ago was soft and gentle,
these kisses were rougher and more urgent, but also filled with more
passion.

Ranma's arms unconsciously went around her waist and his eyes
closed as he threw all his skill into the passionate embrace.

Akane heard a small moan and realized it was her own voice, but
she didn't care. He HAS to love me! This has to prove it! Her arms
wove around his neck and meant to go and pull him down on top of her,
though it didn't work out quite that way. She forgot about the table
that was right behind her, and she hit the back of her left ankle on the
table and tripped, pulling him down with her.

Ranma, suddenly realizing he was falling, acted. His first
instinct said to protect Akane, and he automatically used his martial
art skills to twist in mid-flight so his back hit the table first. With
an `oomph', the air was driven from his lungs, and then Akane landed on
top of him, forcing his head back to smack the table as well.

For a few moments, there was silence.

"I-I'm sorry, Ranma," Akane said as she started getting off
him. She looked down at him and noticed he wasn't moving. "Ranma!? Kami,
Ranma, answer me!"

Akane's stomach froze and dropped several feet. No, no, no,
no, no! I can't lose him! Not after that, I couldn't have killed him!
She was a bit relieved to see he was still breathing, but his eyes were
closed and he wasn't responding. Tears began to flow as she lifted his
head up. "Come on Ranma! Wake up! Don't leave me, oh kami, don't leave
me!"

"Huh?" came the soft, mumbled reply as the pig-tailed boy began
to stir. "Wazzat?"

"You're alive!" Akane exclaimed as she buried her face in his
chest to release her tears. "I-I though I'd lost you!"

When Ranma began to become aware of the situation, the first
thing he noticed was Akane on top of him. He could sense that she was
upset about something because she was... crying? As his eyes opened, he
realized he was laying somewhat uncomfortably on something hard, but
that thought was ignored by the fact that Akane was crying into his
chest.

"Akane?" His arms automatically went around her once again. One
went around to rest on her back, the other went up to stroke the back of
her head. "Are you alright?"

She looked up at him, tear streaks running from her brown eyes.
Through the highly charged emotions running through her, a thought
penetrated her brain. He's more worried about me, than himself...
Without another word, she lunged forward and began to kiss him again,
just as urgently, but with more tenderness.

"Uh, Akane," he managed through kisses. "It hurts..."

The words stung her and she quickly backed off of him. "I'm
sorry, Ranma! I..."

"That's okay," he replied, slowly getting up. "It was just kinda
uncomfortable laying on the table with you on top of me."

The two teens glanced at each other, then Akane giggled.
"You're just lucky Kuno didn't hear that."

Ranma chuckled along with that as Akane helped to move him to
pile of cushions. In his best `noble samurai' voice, he intoned,
"Saotome! How dare you enchant beauteous Tendo Akane with your evil
sorcerer ways!"

That caused both teens to erupt into laughter, draining the
tense moments that had been building, away. As Ranma lay on his back,
Akane snuggled up to his side. She reached up to wipe away her remaining
tears but Ranma beat her to it, and instead she enjoyed the feel of his
fingers play across her cheeks. She then settled her head onto his chest
once more and there was silence again.

After several minutes of quiet breathing, Akane whispered,
"What are we going to do?"

Ranma closed his eyes and inhaled the scent of her hair,
enjoying it. "I-I don't know... Half the time I don't know what I feel
anyway..."

She ran a hand across his chest and tried to suppress a giggle
when she saw him attempt to hide the reaction to her touch by crossing
his legs. Unsexy am I? Hah, I don't think you think so!

After a moment, she moved foreword to gently kiss him, just
enjoying the feel of his body against hers and the taste of his lips.
Greatly daring, she opened her mouth and darted her tongue into his
mouth, whacking his own tongue, before retreating again.

Ranma started at this, not knowing quite what to make of it.
Somehow, he knew it felt kinda good, and if Akane could do it, so could
he. Having made up his mind, he stuck his tongue foreword on their next
kiss and Akane eagerly accepted it, stopping the kiss to suck on it
gently, before going back into the kiss.






They stayed like that for almost an hour, releasing two years
worth of pent-up feelings and emotions as they relaxed in each other's
arms and enjoying each other's company. Eventually, the fear of
discovery caused them to separate, lest they fall asleep where they were
and be discovered by someone before they awoke.

Without another word, they got ready for bed, gave each other a
long good-night kiss, and went to their separate rooms. Both still
reveling in their feelings of warmth, and both still desiring to spend
the night in the arms of the other.





-----------------------------------------------------------------




The rest of the week passed with much nervousness, as neither
Ranma nor Akane decided they wanted to let the rest of the family know
of the change in their relationship. For the most part they went through
business as usual, except for a shared glance here, and a brush of the
hand there.

And of course, a shared kiss goodnight, usually with Ranma
meeting Akane at her window.

Surprisingly, almost no one seemed to be the wiser towards
their new feelings. Especially at school, where Akane thought for sure
her friends would recognize the change in her and catch on to her
feelings about Ranma. Except for some good-natured teasing about her
"hunk martial artist fiancee," to which Akane replied, "Why would I care
about that perverted baka?"

Well, except for a couple of students that were a bit more
observant than the rest. Talking amongst themselves, they discussed that
it seemed Ranma and Akane were getting along slightly better than
normal, and they wondered if anything had happen between them to cause a
change.

Nothing much would've come of this, but unfortunately, a
certain okonomiyaki chef overhead the conversation. Ever alert for
updates or changes in the status quo of the Ranma fiancee group, she
took a moment to study the pair and decided things did seem unusual.
Nothing she could put her finger on, but she figured she better makes
some countermoves just in case.

And she did, at lunch. With free special love-note okonomiyaki,
and then some close snuggling afterward where she tried to whisper sweet
nothings in his ear.

Ranma, desperate to get out of the unnerving situation, had no
choice but to thank her for the good lunch and that it was a welcome
break from the toxic stew Akane tried to poison him with.

Naturally, Akane heard this and got into an argument with him
that ended when sent him flying into a wall with the bent lunch box she
had made for him. Immediately afterward, she realized that it was time
for them to have another talk.

So, here she was, nervously waiting in this patch of forest for
her pig-tailed fiance to show up. She had slipped him a note when no one
was looking, asking him to meet her after school in this spot, right
after lunch ended and he had nodded in her direction after reading it.
The baka better show up or else...

That thought was interrupted when two arms slipped around her
waist and a pair of lips found her neck. Startled, Akane grabbed an arm
and executed a perfect judo throw that sent Ranma crashing into a tree.

"Oh!" she exclaimed when she realized who it was. "I'm sorry,
Ranma. But you shouldn't surprise me like that!" She helped him get
right side up and noticed he had still had a big grin on his face. "Why
are you smiling like that?"

He shrugged. "Well, you hadn't hit me or sent me flyin' all
week; I guess I just missed it, that's all."

Akane cocked her head, then sat down against the tree and next
to Ranma. "Ranma? Do mean to say you actually like it when I hit you?"

Her fiancee shrugged again, but didn't really answer her
question. "Well, it's just that your performance yesterday, when ya sent
me flyin', did quite a bit to quench the rumor mill. Didn't you see the
way Ukyo was actin'?"

Akane frowned, but nodded. "Of course, but it seems no one
really knows what's going on. It's just the standard rumors; everywhere
from `Akane is a lesbian' to `Akane is carrying Ranma's love child.'"
Her face turned bright red as she said this, and Ranma matched that.

"Yeah, I hear that, too." She shifted closer to him so that
their bodies touched lightly. I'm glad she did that, I was afraid to.
He continued. "But, there were people talking about how nice we've been
to each other this week. If we're gonna keep this a secret, we gotta
keep up the act at school as well as home."

Akane looked down. "I guess you're right. If we want this
relationship to based on we want, instead of our parents, we can't tell
them. And if the people at school find out..."

"Both our respective admirers will come after us with a
vengeance," Ranma finished. "And then our parent's will find out and
we'll be married faster than Oyaji can snag a meatball."

"Would that really be so bad?" Akane asked. "I mean, to be
married?"

Ranma looked down. "I-I just don't know if I'm really ready to
be hu-husband. I mean, I'm a girl half the time, I'm scared of c-cats,
not to mention I don't know if I could even be a good father. We've
still got school to get through and..." he laughed, "there's still the
problem of our suitors..."

"Yeah, I guess you're right..." she said softly, but Ranma
detected a hint of.. regret? sorrow? in her voice. "But your problems
don't matter to me. For as long as I've known you, you've been cursed,
and to me, that's just the way you are." She felt Ranma stiffen a bit
and she tried putting her hand on his shoulder to calm him. "No, it's
okay Ranma. Even if you get cured, it doesn't matter to me. Remember
what you said as we watched the Jusenkyo pools flood? You said that,
somewhere along the line you stopped caring about your curse and
realized that your girl side will always be a part of you. Do you still
feel that way?"

Ranma let out a breath. "Yeah, kinda, I guess. I still feel you
deserve a full man for a husband..."

She whacked him lightly. "Stop that. I-I've told you before
that I like you the way you are. As for your fear of cats, well, it
doesn't come up that often. Maybe there's something we can do about that
if you want, since there are ways of curing people of their fears." She
sighed. "And I don't think I'm ready to be a wife or a mother either.
After all, I can't cook or sew, or do a lot of the stuff a married woman
is supposed to do."

He looked over at the girl nestled against him. "Hey, you're
cooking's getting better. I was able to get through your dinner a couple
of nights ago." He reflected back on it the meal both his mother and
Kasumi had helped Akane make. "It wasn't that bad." She looked up at him
with a hopeful look on her face and he grinned. "You'll get the hang of
it... in ten years or so."

She scowled and whacked him again across the back of his head.
"Baka."

"Uncute macho chick."

Akane felt a little hurt. "You... still think I'm uncute?"

He sighed. Time to explain this, I guess. "Akane, uncute was
never about how ya looked. It was just how you got angry and jealous so
often, and then whackin' me before I got a chance ta explain." His voice
dropped to a whisper. "I-I always thought you were really pretty."

Akane shivered in delight, both from his declaration, the
nearness of his body, and his definitely masculine scent. She began to
feel a little warm under the collar. She looked up at her fiance and
wondered if he was feeling the same way, but if he was, he gave no sign.
She smiled impishly at the thoughts that began to float through her head
and wondered if they were a byproduct of her talks with Nodoka about
Ranma's manliness. Ranma's mom seemed nice enough overall, but she could
be a little strange.

Building up her courage, she slipped out of Ranma's arm and
move into his lap, facing him. She smiled at Ranma's *gulp* as moved her
body against his and kissed him. She brought her hands to either side of
his face and rested them on his cheeks, caressing his face. When she
pulled away, she giggled a little at Ranma's expression of love and
wonderment... and a little embarrassment.

"We don't have much time before we'll expected back at home, and
I don't want to waste it," she said in answer to his unasked question.
I guess I'll be the aggressive one for now. Ranma hasn't made any real
moves on me since we started talking, with the exception of that first
kiss... I'll just have to let him know it's alright. "It's alright with
you, isn't it?"

Ranma gulped, somewhere between nervousness and excitement.
"Oh... yeah, it's fine..."

She smiled at him and his hands reach up of their own accord to
touch her cheeks, bringing her face back down to his. He kissed her
deeply and fully before resting his hands on her back. As the afternoon
wore on, their tongues made the exchanges. Emotions and actions they
couldn't act on during the day, were released with much urgency and
passion, like a kettle full of boiling water that needed to release some
steam.

Eventually, the fear of discovery once again made them part.
Ranma was the first to go, then Akane shortly afterward.

And both marveled at the fact that no one seemed to be any the
wiser about it.





-----------------------------------------------------------------







She attacked with a straight punch. He deflected it with his
forearm. She lanced out with a side kick. He brought his own leg up to
block. Hopefully, today will be the day, she hoped.

Kasumi called from outside. "I'll be going to the market now!"

He and she called back, "Okay!"

He dodged around his opponent and grabbed her arm, tossing her
to the other side of the dojo. She landed on her feet, counted to five
and rushed her adversary. This is my chance now! she thought. In all
the time we've been together, he has yet to say it. I know he feels the
same way about me that I feel about him. It's time to put my plan into
motion. I just need to get him off guard first...

He crouched and prepared to dodge her charge. She smiled and
opened her gi top.

He noted that she wasn't anything underneath... and gulped...
and froze... and stared... and let a drop of blood escape his nose.

She attacked.

In the span of a few seconds, he was on his back and she was on
him, kissing him madly. He couldn't do much else at this point, except
kiss her back.

After a second, she pulled back and giggled. "I've seen you use
that move before, but I didn't think it would be that effective!"

"Feh, that was a dirty trick," he replied.

"Oh come on, Ranma. Admit it, I beat you fair and square."

He sighed. Truth be told, she had done it and done it very
well; he just never expected her to do that sort of thing. And he had to
admit, it felt good the way she was now resting on top of him.

Their `meetings' had been going on for about two months now,
whenever they could find some time alone without arousing suspicion. And
that was the amazing thing, it wasn't arousing any suspicion. With the
way their luck had gone, they had never gotten this much time alone
since their always seemed to be something that interrupted and/or drove
them apart.

That's why the first half off their meetings had been
relatively short. As time went on, they began to grow more comfortable
with their time together and with each other, not worrying that someone
would intervene.

And now another meeting was taking place in the dojo since
Happosai had taken his two pupils on a refresher course and Kasumi had
just gone to the market. Ucchans had been busier than normal during the
summer hours and Shampoo was back in China on Amazon business. As for
the Kunos? Currently in the hospital; and I think we all know how.

"Okay, okay, it WAS a good dirty trick, but you did beat me."

She smiled and moved in for another high-voltage kiss. "You know
what this means don't you? You remember the terms for our little match?"

He did. "The loser has to answer any question honestly that the
winner asks," he grumbled. He had figured he would've been the one doing
the asking though. "So what do you wanna know?"

She took a deep breath. Now's my chance. I have to know.
Things have been pretty good between us, but if this doesn't go the
right way, it'll all be over. But it just HAS to be right. "Ranma..."
she brought herself up to gaze into his eyes, and she could feel the
capillaries of her face filling. "Do you...love me?"

There. She asked. It was now or never time.

For almost a minute, Ranma was stunned. One of his greatest
fears was that he would love her but she wouldn't love him back. Oh
sure, it seemed she like him, maybe even cared about him. But love?

"Ranma, you promised..." she reminded him. Come on!

Well, what have I got to lose? he thought. His face flushed,
all he could manage was a nod.

Akane felt a new warmness and exhilaration flood her. Yes!
"Oh Ranma!" she cried, hugging him fiercely.

She doesn't seem upset. Maybe... "Akane...?" he managed
weakly.

Akane pulled back some to look at his handsome face, a big
smile on her face and a few tears in her eyes. "Ranma, I've waited so
long for you to admit that." Her smile changed somewhat. "And it's about
time!"

His eyes widened and he sputtered, "B-but, you-"

She put a finger on his lips to silence him. "And I love you
too, Saotome Ranma."

Ranma was the picture of a pig-tailed martial artist who
couldn't believe his ears. "Really?"

She nodded and kissed him deeply and fully. His lips responded
to the situation and his arms wrapped around her. Akane loved him! And
because of that, he threw everything he had into the passionate embrace.

He then started to realize another part of him responding to
the situation. And unlike last time, he couldn't do much to hide it
since part of Akane was laying on it! Oh no, she's gonna think I'm a
pervert! It had happened before, but he felt confident he had hidden it
well enough.

Akane had noticed the way this kissing session was affecting
him, and a part of her felt proud of the fact that she could cause this
sort of reaction in him. Another part of her mind was screaming to take
advantage of that bulge that was pressing against her thigh, and only
her by using all of her self-control was she able to hold those thoughts
at bay. I'm not ready for THAT. And I don't think Ranma is either.

Breaking the kiss for a breather, she noticed Ranma looking a
bit uncomfortable, and knew what he must be thinking. "Ranma? It's
alright."

"Akane?" came the strained reply.

She giggled a little. "I know, and you don't have to be
embarrassed or ashamed about it. I think it's flattering you think of me
that way."

Ranma exhaled a breath he didn't know he'd been holding before
Akane moved in to kiss him again. "You... you don't think I'm a
pervert?" he asked in soft voice that dripped with disbelief.

She laughed. "I'd think you were a pervert if this situation
wasn't doing anything to you." She grinned. "So, unsexy am I?"

Ranma let a breath out he didn't know he'd been holding. "Heh,
guess I can't say that no more."

She shook her head and leaned back down, resting her head on
his shoulder. She could hear the rapid thumping of his heart and it was
music to her ears. He loved her, and that made everything right with the
world.

Honestly, she didn't think it could get much better than this.

Ranma for the most part was resting his hands on her back, not
up to doing much else besides gently and slowly rubbing her shoulders
and upper back. The whole world was centered in the girl he held in his
arms, and he didn't ever want to let her go. No one had ever made him
feel the way she did and, though he didn't understand it, he didn't want
it to ever go away.

Honestly, he didn't know if it could get much better than this.





Eventually, Akane realized they didn't have much time left, and
if they continued, it would lead somewhere where she wasn't ready to go
just yet. So, she reluctantly broke the embrace and they separated,
spending several minutes just recovering. Then, with a last kiss, they
parted, Akane leaving to take a bath. Her body was tempting her to ask
if Ranma wanted to join in, but her mind exerted control and shot down
that idea.

After surrendering the bath to her fiancee, Akane went to her
room wondering how long they could keep this up before anybody noticed.
She had thought it a miracle that they could keep their relationship a
secret for the few months they'd been together. It seemed they never got
any privacy like this before and Akane briefly wondered why that was.

Glancing at the calendar in her room, she noticed that Nabiki
was scheduled to arrive back from college on break next week. She was
anxious to see how the three months and a half months at college had
treated her. She knew her older sister didn't exactly approve of Ranma,
but it would be nice to see her again. After all, Nabiki was family and
Akane knew her older sister loved her, too.

Yes, Nabiki only wanted what she thought was best.


---------------------------------------------------------------------

Author's notes:

Well, part 1 is completed. This will probably be a 3 or 4 part story.
Part 2 is being worked on, and I'll hopefully have it out in a couple of
months. It'll advance the plot quite a bit more.

This was an idea I grabbed off of Lord Archive's ideas page, and I'd
like to thank him for that and for taking the time to proof-read and
assist me with this. Thanks!

Find this and my other stories at: www.geocities.com/kaiphantom2000

This story written by: Kaiphantom (aka Brad in real life)
No rights reserved, except for the right to bare arms!(yes, I did mean
to put `bare')