Ranma had practically dragged her the entire way to school. Akane really couldn't understand him sometimes. He'd been kind of in a daze since the morning after the failed wedding. She had almost convinced herself that he was mad at her for placing most of the blame on his shoulders, no matter how much it belonged there. He'd also spent a lot of time talking privately with his mother and as curious and upset as she was, she couldn't bring himself to ask him about it. She desperately wished her own mother was still alive to talk to, her confusion was overwhelming. Ranma's hand in hers, no matter how much he dragged on her arm, was slowly helping to put her mind at ease. That quickly evaporated as he dragged her through the school gates, his grip still tight.

"Ranma! We're at school!" Akane yelled.

"Yeah, I noticed!" He yelled back. She tried to tug her hand out of his grip, but his fingers just tightened around her wrist as he kicked first Principle Kuno, then his son.

Akane blushed, the stares, whispers, and cries of her classmates making her anxious. They passed a glowering Ukyo in the hallway, but Ranma didn't even slow down. He didn't slow down as they hit the stairwell, just climbed them two at a time.

"Ranma, you passed the classroom!" Akane yelled, her arm smarting from being yanked.

"We've got to do something else today!"

"What?! Ranma, we can't skip school!" She tried again to get her hand loose, only to cry out as his grip tightened again. Ranma suddenly stopped as she cried out causing her to fall against his back. He spun swiftly and she felt his arms go around her waist. Akane flushed a deeper shade of red as she was lifted and thrown over his shoulder. He turned back and resumed running up the stairs leaving her face to face with two girls for a moment whose giggles followed them up the stairwell. "Ranma! Stop! Put me down!" She began to flail about, pounding helplessly on his back.

A loud smack rang out and she went silent with fury and shock as her backside burned where he'd slapped it. She heard the door to the roof slam open before the breeze caught and lifted her skirt. The fresh air against her exposed flesh caused the tears dancing in her eyes to fall. Ranma's hands moved over her again, smoothing her skirt back down. He skidded to a stop as the door slammed back shut, and hurriedly put her back on her feet. Without a thought she brought her hand up, slapping him full in the face as her shoulders shook with sobs.

"Feel better?" The innocence of the question finally broke her resolve and she shook her head, burying her face in his chest. He didn't pull away, hesitantly wrapping his arms around her shoulders and burying his nose in her hair. She didn't know how long she stood there sobbing, but he didn't fidget once. She breathed deeply, trying to regain her composure. Ranma's heart beat beneath her fingertips and she listened to the soothing rhythm. It was calm, reassuring, and surprisingly steady. The realization hit her like a sack of bricks and she sagged against him.

"Whoa! Akane! What's wrong?!" His arm tightened around her waist, pulling her up on tiptoes against him while he gently tugged her head back by the base of her neck, striving to see what he did wrong this time. She let herself be pulled, gelatin in his arms. Because now, pressed against him, she could feel more than just a heartbeat and before she would have screamed and called him a pervert, she was instead excited, the night after the wedding rushing through her mind again. She looked into his eyes and he moved closer. Their noses were less than an inch apart. She delicately pressed her fingertips to his cheekbone and he shivered, bringing his face even closer.

"Why did you bring us up here, Ranma? Everyone saw us. We're going to have detention for a week." Her lips brushed his slightly as she spoke and she could feel him breathing.

"Well, I've been thinking…" He drifted off as his lips brushed hers and the brush lingered to turn into a kiss. Akane felt her strength returning as the kiss deepened. Ranma's fingers twined in the hair at the back of her neck and her nipples stiffened causing her to gasp and then his tongue was against hers and all thought of detention and classmates were forgotten.

The chimes of the school announcement system startled Ranma and Akane into breaking apart. They stared at each other with chests heaving together, trying to rein in their emotions. Akane recovered first.

"Ah, great! Now we really will have detention!" Her hands on his chest turned into a shove, but Ranma didn't budge and she was forced a step backward. As she went to cross her arms over her chest he caught her retreating hands.

"Akane, I brought us up here to talk, forget detention for a minute."

"What about the gossip?" He shrugged. "And why do you want to talk all of a sudden now? You haven't wanted to talk to me all week!" Her voice quavered a bit at the end, but she was proud that it didn't break.

"Who said I didn't want to talk?"

"No one had to say it! Your avoiding me was clear enough!"

Ranma sighed heavily and dropped her hands. Akane crossed her arms over her chest, trying to hide her disappointment as he turned away, looking out over the school courtyard. "I wasn't avoiding you."

She scoffed, "Could've fooled me!"

"Well, okay, not intentionally at least. I…I was working on something. A new kinda training."

"What kind of training?" She asked, still suspicious.

"I dunno, talking trainin."

"Talking training?! What kind of training is that? Some new plan of yours to humiliate me again?"


"Well, forget it, I've had enough! I'm going home!" She stalked towards the door to the roof.

"Akane!" He called after her retreating figure, following. "Akane, wait! I really do want to talk! It's not what you think." She grasped the door handle to open it when his last plea startled her with its volume. "Akane! Please!" She looked back at where he stood, a few steps behind, trembling. She suddenly regretted not hearing him out; she knew how clumsy he was with words. She smiled lightly and took a step towards him when the door behind her burst open.

"Ah-ha! Delinquents! Happo-50yen-satsu!"

Akane was caught directly in the aura-sucking beam. She kept her gaze on Ranma as everything slowed down and static filled her ears. She saw every detail of Ranma flicking a coin passed her head and then the roof was rushing up to meet her face. She didn't even close her eyes, waiting for the impact. Hands clutched her shoulders pulling her up before she hit. She knew it was Ranma, but in her disjointed reality she couldn't even look up to be sure. She was forcefully moved again, a blur of blue sky and concrete before her field of vision was reduced to red silk and tan skin. She only had a brief moment of wondering what was happening before everything faded to gray.