Hello and welcome to the third story arc! Warning: This first chapter
contains a WAFFy scene. Those who don't like warm and fuzzy moments
should run, scream, and hide; not necessarily in that order.

Tell me what you think: oddball22@hotmail .com

Find my other chapters at: www.geocities.com/kaiphantom2000

DISCLAIMER: Ranma 1/2 and it's characters were not created by me. That
honor goes to Rumiko Takahashi-sama and I forever bow to her will. I'm
using them strictly for non-profit and entertainment purposes only.

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

There are things that we assume are truth, and that will never change.

The sun is yellow. What goes up, must come down. Politicians will fail
to deliver on their promises. Death and Taxes.

And there are things that we assume will change.

The seasons. The sales at the supermarket. Fads and clothing styles.
Your neighbors.

The trick is to distinguish between the two, and it's not always an easy
task. Often we take for granted something or someone will always be
there, and then they are gone. Or we expect something to change or to
happen, and it never does.

All that you know, could be wrong. Then again, something you think to be
true, could surprise you by being true.

The rule to live by, is to expect the unexpected.

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Ranma 1/2: New Challenges
All That We Have Known
Chapter 1




"The tables are clean, Ukyo-chan," Yuri said happily.

The young ninja-girl-in-training was feeling almost as good as
she had before the night of the fire. In her opinion, this was so much
better than than living in secrecy in those cheap cabins in the woods.
There, her time was taken up by constant training and patrolling. The
clan had been nice to her, but now she had a more normal family again,
and a place that felt more like home.

Ukyo looked up from where she was cleaning the grill. "Thanks
Yuri-chan. Why don't you see how your brother is doing?"

The chef had to smile at the trainee ninja girl's bubbly
personality. She practically radiated a positive picture, especially in
the cute short skirt and blouse that was her waitress outfit.

In that getup, more than one guy had tried to make passes at
her or had tried to grope her, but the ninja girl easily evaded all
their attempts, not letting anyone touch her. She didn't even seem
upset, just uninterested in their advances.

"He's washing the dishes, right?" Yuri asked, to which Ukyo
nodded.

Yuri headed into the kitchen in the back where her brother was
hunched over the sink scrubbing away in the hot, steamy water, his back
to her. [Of course, since he doesn't want to get cold water on himself.]
She tapped her lower lip. [Hmmmm... I've never acutally seen his curse
in action before. I wonder if he just made it up? Sensei Oka believed
him, but that could just be that she knows about Jusenkyo curses.]

A wicked grin appeared on her face and she went to one of the
spare sinks to fill a glass of cold water. Kenji noticed her and smiled
as she drank some of the contents, pretending she was thirsty. When he
turned his face away, she crept up on him and emptied the cup's contents
on his head.

She gasped and dropped the cup as her brother shrank and
disappeared into his clothes. "It's true!" she exclaimed as the cutest
doggy she had ever seen made his way out from underneath Kenji's
clothes.

Kenji looked up at his sister feeling a mite bit perturbed. He
really didn't like being a stupid animal. [Now, why'd she go and do
that? Of course, she hasn't seen my wolf form yet, so maybe she just
wanted to see if it was true. All right then, let's have a little fun
with her!]

Yuri was laughing now and trying to apologize through her fits,
but it wasn't working too well. She looked back at her brother and
stopped laughing. The wolf was growling and baring his teeth at her
while approaching her slowly. She started to back up.

"Kenji?" She asked. "Are you alright? I'm sorry about that, I
just wanted to... Eeep!"

The wolf lunged at her and tried to bite her leg, forcing Yuri
to leap back to avoid it. He jumped at her again, and soon, he was
chasing her around the restaurant. Yuri was genuinely scared, yet she
didn't want to hurt her brother.

[He really has become a wolf and now he doesn't recognize me!]
"Oniichan! It's me, Yuri! I'm sorry, calm down! I know you're in there
Kenji, you have to calm down!"

Ukyo looked up as Yuri zoomed out of the kitchen and into the
dining area. Kenji was in hot pursuit, nipping at her heels. He finally
cornered her (in a corner) and proceeded to growl viciously at his
sister. Ukyo could tell Yuri looked genuinely scared.

"Ukyo-chan, help me!" she wimpered softly. "I think Kenji has
really lost it!"

Ukyo broke down, laughing hysterically. After a couple of
minutes, she recovered enough to speak again. "All right Kenji-kun,
you've had your fun. Knock it off or the new menu special contains dog
meat!" At that, Kenji stopped growling and walked away, wagging his
tail. Yuri could almost swear the animal was smiling! "Don't worry Yuri-
chan, he may look like a mutt, but he still has the mind of a baka."

Yuri look aghast. "Kenji? You were faking!?" Now it was her
turn to growl. "That's it `niichan! You're dead meat!" And with that,
the chase began again, this time in reverse.

"Hey!" Ukyo yelled. "We're supposed to go over to the Tendos for
dinner soon, so kill him quick!"

Yuri chased him around the restaurant for a several minutes
before grabbing the nozzle hose next to the sink and spraying him with
hot water. Now naked and wet, he `eeped' and ran off to his room,
streaking past Ukyo in the process. When he finished dressing and came
back down, he found the chef and his sister holding up signs. Ukyo's
read 8.1 and Yuri's read, 6.4. They both broke out laughing at Kenji's
horrified expression.

"Oh come on, I think I deserve at least a 9.9!" Kenji stated
while striking a masculine pose.

"I'm sorry, but I can't rate you any higher, since you are my
brother and I just
don't think that way about you," Yuri reasoned.

Ukyo shrugged. "I didn't get a good enough look, you went by
too fast." Kenji turned beet red and told them he'd wait outside. The
two girls broke out laughing as Ukyo closed and locked the shop.

Yuri decided to give her brother a break and change the
subject. "Can we fly over there `niichan? I wanna work on the
technique!"

Kenji shook his head. His sister really loved to fly. "We both
need to work on it, but now's not the right time. Plus, I don't want to
risk carrying Ukyo if I do crash again."

"Besides, you don't want to to attract too much attention and
it's a nice evening for a walk," Ukyo added. While she knew something as
strange as flying people probably wouldn't have been noticed in Nerima,
the siblings had only been living here for a couple of days and wouldn't
know that.

Yuri pouted a bit, but relented and the three strode off into
the night.






Ranma was also walking down the street that night, trying to
think.

The decision about the engagement had to be made soon, or else
he knew his mother would get the fathers to annul it. Since the battle
at the compound, he hadn't had a chance to talk with her yet, to find
out what she wanted.

They had been loaded into seperate ambulances, then moved to
seperate areas once they arrived at the hospital. Eventually, the Nerima
gang had wound up in the same ward, so they could talk, but not
privately like they both wanted. She had been discharged earlier, while
he had just got out today.

Tonight had to be the night to talk to her.

He knew he loved her now, and she had said she loved him; at
least that's what he thought he heard. Still, that was when he was badly
hurt and he didn't know if she only said it to make him feel better.
[But why would she do that? Maybe she does care. Then again, maybe she
doesn't.] Actually, he didn't know which thought scared him more.

[Think Ranma! Do you really want to risk losing her? Would you
want her to go off with someone else, or die before you tell her how you
feel? How many times do you have to almost lose her before you say
something? One of these times she could be gone for good.]

He was so caught up in his thoughts that the next time he
looked up, he was at his destination: The Tendo Dojo. He didn't want to
alert the other family members, so he snuck over the outer wall and up
to Akane's window. Thankfully, the light was on and she was in her room.
He gathered up his courage, as if preparing for battle, then tapped on
the window.

"Hi Ranma," Akane said as she smiled and opened the window. "I
guess they finally let you out today. You want to come in?"

"Hiya Akane," he replied. He hesitated, for once being paranoid
about Nabiki's possible spy microphones, or anybody else that might
overhear them. "Uh, actually, I was wondering if you'd like to go for a
walk or something."

Akane blinked, not really expecting him to ask her that. She
studied him for a minute, before deciding to go with him. He held out
his hand and she took it, stepping out onto the roof overhang outside
her window.

As she did, Ranma swung her around and was about to pick her
up, but Akane stopped him. "No, Ranma. You have a broken arm and you've
hurt your ribs, remember? I can move perfectly fine by myself."

Ranma felt a pang of regret, even though he intellectually knew
she was right. He brightened, however, when she reached down and gave
his free hand a squeeze. Then together, they leapt down to the ground. A
second leap took them over the wall and they began to walk along in
silence.

Inside, Akane knew this was coming and it scared her. [Well,
this what I've wanted; a chance to talk. To find out how he feels about
me. I said I loved him, and... I think he said he loved me, too?] She
remembered being dizzy and weak from the Tora Dokiken technique and from
the strangle hold. Ranma was talking to Krynn and the wizard asked him
why he should spare Akane. In response, Akane thought she heard Ranma
say he loved her.

[But can we actually get through this before we're
interrupted?] she wondered. [Something always seems to come along...]





Unbeknowst to her, the sneaky kami of mishaps, unusual
encounters, and bad timing was out on vacation and therefore was unable
to manufacture the needed interuptions that usually popped up anytime
they tried to get close. In fact, this particular vaction had been
enforced by a higher kami, due to a special request by a very special
lady in blue.

Don't worry though, he'll be back on duty in a couple of days.





The engaged-against-their-will-at-the-beginning couple
eventually reached the park and found a bench to sit down on. Ranma was
silent for a few moments, trying to gather both the courage and strength
to say what he needed. Akane somehow sensed this and decided to try and
make things a bit easier.

She took a deep breath and remembered the talk she had with
Kasumi about her anger. Her older sister had told her, `You'd be
surprised what you'll find out if you keep your anger in check and just
talk to him.'

"Actually, I wanted to talk to you, too," she said at last. "I
think it's time to clear up a few things. I-I know I get... upset quite
a bit and sometimes jump to conclusions. Well, I'm sorry about that, but
I'll make you deal: I'll be honest with you, if you'll be honest with
me. I promise to hear you out and I won't get upset or hit you, no
matter what you say, okay?" She had to remember to thank Nabiki about
that idea, too. If it worked.

Ranma gulped and nodded, but the tension level seemed to drop a
bit. "O-okay." He looked down. "It's not like I don't deserve it, since
I haven't been that nice ta ya at times... I-I'm sorry..."

She put a hand on his shoulder. "Maybe we both have things we
need to work on. But first, I need to know: How do you feel about our
engagement?"

Ranma cleared his throat. [Okay, here goes...] "I, well, I just
don't wanna to force you into anythin' you don't want. I know it's our
parents' idea, but I don't want them forcin' us together if it ain't
what you want." He looked down. "I guess... I just want ya ta be happy,
that's all."

Akane looked up at him, smiling a little at his concern for
her. "Ranma, I think you should know, that I do care about you, a great
deal. You can be insulting, egotistical, a jerk, and many other things."
Ranma's face dropped, and she brought a hand up to lift his chin. "But
you also can be kind, caring, protective, honorable, and self-
sacrificing." Surprise and wonder worked their way onto his face.
"Didn't you even think about why I was willing to go through with the
wedding?"

Ranma shrugged. "I thought your dad was just bribin' you with
the naniichaun water for me," he replied glumly.

Akane sighed noisily and resisted the urge to strike him.
[Don't get mad, don't get mad.] "That wasn't it at all, Ranma! Do you
really think I could be forced into marriage I didn't want!?" After it
came out, she realized it sounded a bit more harsh than she intended.
[Control.]

Ranma's anger rose a bit at that. "But..."

She cut him off quickly, knowing she had to get this out. "It
was because of all the things that happened at Jusendo, Baka! While I
was a doll, I was conscious of all the things happening around me, and I
could hear what was going on." Her voice became softer. "I saw how you
shut off when you thought I was dead. The same thing happened to my dad
when my mother died, and I knew they were really in love. I saw how hard
you fought for me, how you wouldn't give up and wouldn't let me give
up."

She stopped to wipe a few tears off her face. [How'd they get
there?] She continued. "There were several times I was tempted to let
go, but then I would hear your voice begging me to come back. And then I
heard you say you loved me and I knew that despite whatever else you
were, you would always be there for me, whenever I needed you. I knew
then, that I wouldn't mind being married to you."

She took another breath. "And I finally allowed myself to
realize... I-I love you, Ranma." Somehow, it seemed easier to say after
she had said it out loud at the mage compound. "I can't go on like this,
though. I don't want anymore misunderstandings between us, so, I need to
know how you truly feel. If you don't want me, or pick someone else, let
me know now. I promise not to get upset, I just need to know." There,
she had risked it all and put her heart on the line. [But please love
me, Ranma. I don't know if I could live if you didn't...]

Ranma gulped and gazed into her big, brown eyes. He couldn't
believe what he just heard, despite the fact that she had said while
holding him during the battle with Krynn. "Y-you love me? You really
mean it?"

She returned his gaze evenly, her face reddening, her voice
fluctuating a little. "Yes, I do. I can finally admit that to both
myself and to you. I-I don't want to lose you, ever."

In that one moment, his world was turned upside down. Akane
loved him. No love potions, or magic jewels, tricks or dares. He knew
she cared for him at least a little, after all the times she helped him
when he needed it (not that he'd ever admit he needed help).

Ranma stared dumbly at her, even as his brain shut down from
information overload. Incredibly intense sensations rushed through his
body. He didn't know what they were, but he did know he wanted them to
continue, as if they were some highly addictive drug. His face was
flushed and his heart was thumping for attention.

No wait, that was Akane thumping his chest, her face showing an
interesting combination of anger and nervousness. "Well!?"

He blinked, trying to jump-start his brain, and a thought
popped in. [Can you really afford to keep waiting?] Out of habit, he was
about to deny strenously and throw in an insult, but that thought
stopped it cold. "Akane..." he started, wide-eyed. [I've got to do this.
I have to!] But he looked down and spoke in a quiet voice. "I... I don't
want to lose you, either." And in even a quieter voice, almost a
whisper, he added, "I-I l-l-loveyou,too."

"Oh, Ranma!"

Suddenly Ranma was enveloped with crushing force, a head buried
into his chest. He could feel wet spots forming on his shirt and was at
a complete loss as to what to do, other then put his free hand around
her. Eventually, she looked up at him, her eyes glistening and wet
streaks down her cheeks.

[She's crying!] Ranma thought, incredulously, and became
worried. "Akane? What's wrong? Ah geez, what'd I do know?"

She sniffed. "Nothing, Ranma. For once in her your life, you
did everything just right." Feeling a sudden, overwhelming urge, Akane
reached up the remaing distance with her head.

Ranma, wondering what she was up to, was taken totally by
surprise when her lips were suddenly hot on his. Some incredibly small
part of his brain that did not shut down with the rest, took control of
his lips and began to kiss her back.

A jolt of electricity passed through them as the outside world
fell away. Passions that had been long suppressed and bottled for most
of a year, exploded within the span of a few minutes.

Akane moved her hands up to cup his face, even as she continued
the caressing of lips. She briefly wondered if her heart would explode,
beating as hard and fast as it was.

But it was wonderful! It was everything she dreamed about and
more. Oh sure, they bumped noses more than once and mistimed their
kisses, but she knew they'd get better with time, and she planned on
putting in many practice sessions with him.

Ranma's brain was still blank, as he was working mainly on
instinct. All his world was centered on the girl in his arms, and her
lips in particular.

After what seemed like an eternity, but was really several
minutes, Akane eventually broke the final kiss and rested her head on
his chest. Both were panting heavily, both content and scared at the
direction their life had now taken.

Ranma closed his eyes and wrapped his non-broken arm around her
waist, suddenly realizing how warm he felt, and in particular how hot
his face was. [She feels so delicate in my arms. I wonder why?]

They probably would've stayed that way all night, if it wasn't
for the whistles and catcalls.

Immediately they were several feet apart, several dark shades
of red coloring their faces as they scanned for the noisemakers. That's
when Ukyo, Kenji, and Yuri walked out of the shadows.

"Oh come on you two," Yuri teased. "We watched the whole thing,
don't try to
fool us."

Force of habit finally kicked in for Ranma. "Are kiddin', why
would I..." he started.

"Shut up, Ranchan!" Ukyo said forcefully, bringing her battle
spatula down on his head to enforce the command. A couple of months ago,
she would have broken them up when she first arrived and saw them
chatting in the park, but things had changed for her.

She had known for awhile that Ranma didn't love her as anything
more than a friend, so she had a little time to get used to that. She
had known for almost as long that he had loved Akane instead, and that
Akane had loved him. She was still getting used to that.

But to actually see the way they were making out a few moments
ago, and to know that they were actually, really, together... She never
really thought it would hurt that much. It twisted her heart in more
ways then she could imagine, even as she wished she could be in Akane's
place. But it was not to be and dwelling on it wasn't going to help her
at all.

"Don't screw it up!" she yelled at him, even as she removed her
battle spat'. "If you EVER think of taking it all back or make Akane-
chan upset, I'll never forgive you. I'll fulfill my vow of revenge that
I held for ten years to hunt down and kill you if you ever make me
regret giving you up!"

Ranma gulped and nodded, while everyone else chuckled.

"So what are you three doing out here anyway?" Akane asked,
trying to ease the tension and change the subject.

"Actually, we were on our way over to your house for dinner,
Akane-san," Kenji stated. "Remember, your father invited us along with
the Saotome's. We just happened to pass by here when Ukyo-san saw you
and Saotome sitting here, and said she wanted to watch."

Ukyo's spatula promptly found Kenji's face. "Now you better
shut up, sugar."

Kenji mumbled something that could have been an apology into
the metal and Ranma, eyeing the two, decided to turn the tables. "So,
Ucchan, Kenji... When's your next date?"

Ukyo and Kenji immediately started denying everything,
prompting Yuri to jump in. "Oh, I think they like each other all right.
But I assume it'll take awhile for them to realize that."

Kenji cleared his throat. "Ahem. Well, shall we get back to the
business at hand?"

"Yes!" Ukyo agreed. "This is a happy moment for you two! So,
when's the wedding?"

The group continued the conversation was they walked to the
Tendo residence. Ranma and Akane walked along with Akane holding on to
his arm. Kenji took a chance and slipped his hand into Ukyo's while they
walked, blushing slightly. Ukyo squeezed slightly letting him know it
was okay. After awhile, Akane dropped back to talk to Ukyo alone, while
Kenji moved up to talk to Ranma and Yuri.

"So, are you really ok with this, Ukyo-chan?" Akane asked
hesitantly. "I still want us to be friends, and I know Ranma would like
that."

Ukyo thought for a minute, then sighed. "I'd be lying if I said
I was happy with it. But I knew he could only choose one of us. Despite
what happened at the wedding, and our actions afterward, I still held
out some hope that he'd come to love me." She gave a weak smile. "I'll
say this, if I couldn't have him, I would rather he had chosen you, as
opposed to Shampoo or Kodachi." They shared a short laugh together over
that. "Just give me some time, okay? It'll still take me some time to
get completely over him. Konatsu had awhile to help me deal with this,
and so has Yuri."

Akane stopped and gave Ukyo a hug, which she returned.
"Anything I can do for you, just let me know."

The chef half-smiled. "For starters, call me Ucchan; all my
close friends do."

They seperated and continued on, talking about less sensitive
subject matter. In no time, they were at the front gate. Opening it,
they stepped inside.

Dinner passed quickly with light conversation about topics of
no real importance. While most of the group was oblivious, Nabiki
noticed a strange air between her little sister and her fiance. They
weren't exchanging any sort of insults and she occasionally saw one or
the other look up and smile at the other, then quickly look away and
rejoin the conversation.

[Hmmm, methinks something happened between my little sister and
my soon-to-be brother-in-law,] she thought. [Could they have actually
worked out their problems? I think a little `sisterly' talk is on order
tonight.]

No one realized that another figure was watching them from the
darkness. He had observed Ranma and Akane in the park, and had heard
everything. [Yes,] he thought to himself. [They are practically ready,
and not a moment too soon.]






Akane went upstairs quickly and headed for her room after the
guests left, including Ranma, leaving just the orginal four Tendos in
the house. All through dinner she could swear she was broadcasting some
sort of signal that said, "Ranma and I love each other and are really
together!" She didn't want to let the family know just yet and it seemed
the secret had been kept. Opening her door, she slipped inside and
breathed a sigh of relief. She made it!

At least that's what she thought anyway.

"What took you so long?" Akane turned around to see Nabiki
sitting on her bed.

"W-what are you doing here!?" Akane nearly stuttered in
surprise.

Nabiki rolled her eyes dramatically. "How dumb do you think I
am sis? I'm hurt." She sighed. "You have to make a decision on your
engagement soon and you haven't had a chance to talk with Ranma yet. So
when you two headed out tonight, I assumed it was to talk to him.
Therefore, I knew you'd come back in one of two moods. Either he
rejected you, and you'd be feeling angry and upset, so I'd have to
comfort you, or there was option number 2. I think you experienced
option 2." Nabiki leaned foreword. "So, did you use your tongue?"

Akane was shocked. "Nabiki! What makes you think anything
happened between me and that pervert?"

"Don't give me that!" Nabiki admonished. She then raised her a
voice a bit. "Okay Kasumi!"

The door opened and the eldest Tendo daughter entered, smile on
her face. She immediately hugged her younger sister. "Oh Akane-chan,
congratulations!"

Akane staggered a bit and plopped down into her desk chair.
"What are you guys doing? What are you talking about?"

"Oh come on, the *look* is all over your face," Nabiki said
while Kasumi sat down on the bed next to her.

"What look?" Akane squeaked, knowing she was losing the battle.

Nabiki grinned. "The one that says you just made out with the
guy of your dreams."

Kasumi left some room between them and patted the space. "Come
over here and tell us all about it. After all, that's what sisters are
for!"

"You really surprise me sometimes, oneechan," Nabiki admitted
while Akane reluctantly sat down between them. "I don't think you're
nearly as oblivious as you seem to be." Kasumi merely smiled, while
Nabiki turned back to her other sister. "Now, spill the beans, Akane."

The youngest Tendo sighed. Apparently, she was not going to be
able to get away with it, so she shrugged. "There's not that much to
tell. He just told me loved me and I told him I loved him."

"And?" Nabiki promted.

Akane brought her knees up and planted her face between them.
"And then we kissed," she added, her ears burning. Then she brought her
face up, a faraway gaze on her face. "And it was the most wonderful
thing in the world!"

Nabiki giggled. "Way to go, sis! It's about time. You just be
sure to hang onto him this time, `cause if you don't unite the schools,
I will!" It wasn't the total truth. To her, Ranma had a nice body, but
she was looking for someone with a little more intellectual spunk.

Akane stared at her sister. "Nabiki! You do and I'll drag your
butt into the dojo and evaluate your skills!"

Nabiki actually gulped, since she really couldn't tell if her
sister was serious.

"I'm glad it worked out for you, Akane-chan," Kasumi added,
draping an arm around her shoulders.

"Thanks to you, oneechan," Akane returned. "Your advice helped a
lot."

Nabiki jumped in. "Anyway, wait'll you hear about the date
Kasumi made with the good doctor..."

They stayed for a long time talking about things that girls
talk about, mostly boys I think. (Author's note: I'm a guy so I really
have no idea what girls talk about. Really, I don't. Maybe I should go
find that Nyaniichaun...)