I have returned from the netherworld. I have taken a long and dangerous journey. A journey that I think every being should take at one time or other. I have faced it and have come above victorious. Now the world shall tremble before me as I have become a new creation.

I graduated college. :D

So, therefore, that being said, I can focus on the work of my fingers. My stories are extremely behind. I have failed you all. Forgive this now poor but newly educated servant. I have faced many perils. But now I can make amends. Soon, I will become unstoppable… until September when I start working for my Masters… but we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

Disclaimer: When I rule the world I shall own Ranma ½, Halo and Lord of the Rings. I just have to hatch my plan of world domination.


Grace is but glory begun, and glory is but grace perfected. ~Jonathan Edwards

Grace

Grace.

That is what it was. Utter and complete grace. But it was different.

It was strange, even.

Had anyone else had this sort of quality, he would have found it manipulating.

It was not something one could learn, not something taught to perfection, because it was it innate. From within. An ability that was unachievable for everyone else in the world, and very fortunate at that. If every female had been born with this talent, this grace, the world would be in uproar.

But luckily, Akane Tendo seemed to be the only one.

Lucky for the world

Most unlucky for him, though.

He watched her as she pranced about, looking at different items on the shelves, gasping excitedly when something caught her eye.

He had a look of utter long suffering upon his handsome face. There were about a hundred different places he'd rather be. Provided that the company was the same, anyplace would do right about now.

But, no. Akane had used that particular talent of hers and brought him here. He didn't even remember how they had gotten to this little sickeningly sweet smelling shop, or how he ended up carrying a couple of bags full of party surprise items.

"Ranma!" she called, softly, and he groaned and headed towards her.

She was standing among glass bottles, various shapes and color, and sizes. All containing copious amount of fragrances, all begging to be bought by the naïve excited women in front of them.

Ranma wondered if she had a chance.

"What, Akane." He said, a little tired. The overwhelming amounts of smells were starting to get to him.

She gave him an animated look, and pointed to a purple flask. "Can you get that for me?"

He grinned at her, "Too short?"

She frowned at him, her eyebrows tightening together. It was an all too familiar look. "Oh! Don't be a bully! Are you going to help me or not?"

He leaned over and gently plucked the cool bottle from the shelf. He enjoyed the attention she was giving him, and the fact she quite needed him at the moment. He dangled the small glass container over her head, high above her crown of raven black hair.

Over the years, they had both grown to the reasonable sizes that they were today. But Ranma completely dwarfed the young women at his side. He remembered all too clearly the weeks earlier when he held her close that mother's day. He had swallowed her whole in his bulk, and her small warm body had been soft, and fragile to him. He looked down at her, her annoyed eyes glaring at him. Her petite, smooth figure relaxed, despite the light aura of angry irritation.

His grin widened to a full out smile. He rejoiced at her undivided notice, "Do you promise that we'll leave this place after looking at this bottle?"

Akane frowned harder, "No way! I haven't found Kasumi's gift!" She shifted from one foot to another, and crossed her arms. "We have got to find the perfect perfume for her!"

Ranma rolled his eyes. He was just as grateful to Kasumi as Akane, but his fiancée was going a bit overboard. As she did with most things, and it was a tendency that Ranma loved, and hated.

"You are taking too long." Ranma replied. It was true; they had been stuck in the shop for an hour now.

"Fine!" Akane huffed, "You don't have to stay if you don't want to!" She flared out her arms, and pointed to the door. "Leave if you'd like!"

Ranma gave an exasperated sigh, "That's not what I mea-''

She suddenly lunged for the bottle, and he staggered back, trying to keep it out of her reach. He bumped into a shelf behind him, and the next thing he knew, he was soaked.

Akane gasped and leaned away, a guilty look on her face.

Ranma looked up, and saw a vase that was spilled over, the flowers that it held scattered on the shelf, and probably at his feet.

And suddenly he was looking up at Akane. And though his male side had grown quite a bit, his female version had stayed relatively the same. Akane eyes anxiously looked around.

Ranma gave her a harsh pointed look, "Thanks a lot, Akane." He shook his wet red head, and wiped his face with his now long sleeve.

The commotion had grabbed the attention of a store clerk, and Ranma saw him rushing over to them.

"Oh, don't blame me! I just wanted the perfume." She said indignantly, and neatly crouched to pick up the dropped lilies.

The store clerk came to a stop in front of Ranma, and his name tag read, 'Shiro.'

He saw the spilled vase, the flowers on the floor, and wet Ranma. And when he saw Ranma, his eyes sparked with interest, and he smiled. Ranma felt disgusted, but a little grateful. He knew if Shiro was interested in him, Ranma could flirt himself out of paying for any damages. Even though it was Akane's fault…

"Well, hello…" the clerk said smoothly, and advanced towards the red head. Ranma grimaced, and then grinned.

"Hello there cutie," Ranma replied, with much experience in these matters. From the corner of his eye he saw Akane's head shoot up.

Shiro outright leered at him, looming over them with obvious enthusiastic interest. Ranma put on his most charming smile, and lowered his thickly lashed eyes. Oh yes, he had this make-men-into-putty-in-the-hands- trick down pat. "I'm sorry that we're so clumsy, sir."

The store clerk crossed his arms, flexing non existing muscles. "Hey now, call me Shiro. And don't worry about a thing. In fact, I could even really help you find a nice…" He leaned in closer, to the point where Ranma had to scrunch up his nose from the smell of pure dirty teenager the boy emitted. And that was saying something since there were in a scent shop. "sexy musk. Just for you."

Ranma leaned away, and tried to giggle. "uh…. Well, its for Akane not m-"

Shiro continued in that annoying flirty tone. "and a discount too."

"Really?"

Akane jumped into the conversation at that. Ranma regreted that she came into the scene at all. Akane was totally against using feminine charms to arm twist anyone into anything. Despite the fact that she did it to him all the time. Unknowingly, yes, but still did it nevertheless.

Shiro's eyes left Ranma for a second, turned to Akane, and returned to leering at Ranma. "Yeah, I guess I could." He said distractedly.

And then Akane did that thing, that utterly unbelievable talent of hers that had almost every male that she encountered in love with her, that grace, fully manifested in one simple action.

She smiled.

"Oh! Thanks." She said gratefully, while smiling at the undeserving perverted boy. "You're name is Shiro, right?"

The said male turned again, almost half heartedly, "Yeah, So wh-"

He stopped short, his mouth dropped slightly, and Ranma swore that he saw the stupid guy's glaze over. Akane probably looked like a vision, a goddess to him. Sunlight filtered through the bright windows of the store, dewy lilies in her hands, her clear kind eyes glowing at him, and the damn smile directed at him, had all the elements of unearthly.

"Ahhhh…."

Akane had the gull to look confused. Ranma rolled his eyes, and quickly began to think of ways to return the attention to himself.

"So, big boy, what can you do for me?" He emphasized the "me" in the sentence, allowing his eyelashes flutter as he peered up at the taller male. Shiro, much to his disappointment, ignored him.

His focus was entirely on his fiancée. And much to Ranma annoyance the look in Shiro's eyes was not the perverted leer that he had been given but a sheer wonderment.

Stupid smile.

Ranma watched with narrowed eyes as Shiro wiped his hands on his pants, and then addressed Akane in the most respectful way possible.

"Uh, so, Miss. What is your name?"

Akane shook the water from her hand, and handed it neatly to the store clerk. "My name is Akane. Akane Tendo. "

He seemed to jump at the chance to grab her hand, and Ranma eyes crossed at his sheer eagerness.

Akane laughed at the boy's clumsy attempt, or at least he Ranma assumed she did. That's the problem with Akane. She was oblivious to the admiration and ogling that she lived with on a daily basis. So she probably thought that Shiro was being nice instead of flirtatious.

Oh Akane…

"So what are you looking for exactly?" Shiro asked, trying to appear older than he actually was. He couldn't be much older then them.

"Something for my sister. It's her birthday next weekend. She looked at the bottle in her hands, "I thought this might be good…but I really don't know."

Shiro grinned, " I'll help you!" He said much too excitedly.

Ranma was seething by now, and quickly thinking of a plan to distract Shiro. And if that failed, He could always deck him, and honestly Plan B was looking more effective.

"Hey Shiro, I want a sexy musk too. You know…" he leaned closer and whispered the next words. "…to go with my new lingerie."

He leaned back and looked at the boy, waiting for his reaction.

"Uh I could help you too. Later. After I help Miss Akane." he told her, not bothering to look at him. Ranma hand formed a fist, and he was about to punch said male, when Akane poked him in the arm. "Happy, now?" she began, "With Shiro's help we'll leave soon. Like you wanted."

Ranma scowled, "Yeah, Whatever."

Akane gave him a confused look, "What wrong with you? I thought you wanted to leave?"

Ranma ignored her. Stupid tomboy…

She crossed her arms, and was about to lay into him, when he saw Shiro lay a tentative hand on her shoulder, "Uh, Akane, I can ..uh.. show some stuff. Over here..."

Akane glanced over to him, shrugging her shoulder lightly to remove the his hand. "Uh thanks...Shiro."

"Uh...No...uh No problem.."

He turned back to the wall, and reached for a light purple bottle, " I think this one will is great for...um a pretty girl like you. " Shiro said to Akane, blushing like mad. All the while Ranma watching, getting more annoyed and pissed off by the second. Akane took the bottle, and was about to give a dainty sniff when Shiro grinned and leaned in to smell the perfume with her.

Ranma had had quite enough. "Hey, idiot!"

Both Akane and the stupid boy turned, His fiancee frowned "What, Ranma?"

"I wasn't talking to you, tomboy. I was talking to him." He turned his gaze to the clerk. "We don't need your help, got it?"

Shiro's eyes widened, "uh..but Aka-? "

"I said you can leave, Shiro, before I beat into the ground."

"Ranma! He is helping me so butt out!" Akane huffed. She turned back to Shiro, "Ignore her, she cranky.…''

Ranma snarled, took two steps to Akane, and ripped the bottle from her hands, and started walking to the counter, "Hey, Shiro , could you do your job and ring me up"

"But, what about.."

"I'm the customer! That makes me right! So get over here. NOW!"

Shiro jumped and glancing once at Akane, who was glaring daggers at Ranma. "Of course..."

Ranma placed money on the counter as Shiro checked the price. He stood there arms folded, and moody, as he watched the other male count the money. He could feel Akane's gaze searing a hole in the back of his head, but he would deal with that later.

He didn't know who to blame. Either this stupid guy or Akane herself, for smiling so easily at someone else. And it was not just the smile... it was the being nice. For some reason Akane always became….cuter when she interacted with other people. He knew it wasn't intentional, but when she was he watched her be admired by other guys, everything she did, Ranma suddenly saw through different eyes. Through eyes of wanting...of hoping. Because even though he was engaged to her, and he lived in the same house with her, sometimes…. often even, he felt that he had as much chance with Akane as guys like Shiro.

He was annoyed, and angry because that look that Shiro was giving to Akane...was probably the same look that he knew he gave her.

And it stung.

Ranma was a confident guy. In everything. He had looks, skill, and charisma. There was plenty of proof to draw from. His numerous victories, the girls pining after him, and from all the people that he met along his life that in the end had been drawn in by his charming smile and amazing ability to be better than anyone in whatever he did.

So why was he so threatened when another so much as looked at Akane?

This store clerk, Ryoga, the guys at school, Kuno, Gosunkugi, and dozens of others that have come along that one way or another saw Akane more than Ranma was willing to let them think about.

It was stupid.

Shiro wrapped the glass bottle in flowery tissue paper, and placed it in a pink paper bag. "Uh hey...Can I ask you something?"

Ranma looked at the guy square in the face, allowing his annoyance to show.

"Is Akane single? I just was thinking about asking her out... and you seem to be her friend and all…"

Ranma gritted his teeth, but then smiled forcefully at the unsuspecting boy. "Actually, She has a fiance. And He could rip you to shreds. and if he finds out that you touched Akane like you did earlier, he'll come in here and punch you so hard you'll be feeling it for years!"

Shiro gave her a wide eyed look, but then his eyes relaxed and he chuckled. "I thought you were serious for a moment. but that can't be true."

Ranma frowned, "What are you talking about, idiot? Of course it true!"

"There is no way in hell that Akane could be dating a brute like that. and Engaged? What is this, feudal japan? She's too young for that. " he sighed and looked over to the young girl who was sniffing at some other perfumes on display. "She couldn't like a guy like that. he'd be all wrong for her…"

Ranma bristled at his words, and he clenched his fist

"Can you give her my number?"

Ranma grabbed the bag from the clerk swung it around, knocking over a basket of scented hand sanitizers and marched to his fiancée.

He grabbed Akane by the strap of her bag dragging her almost roughly out of of the store. The crisp air did him good and he began heading home.

"Ranma..?"

There was no way Shiro was right. He didn't know Akane at all. He didn't know that Akane was immature and loud and totally unfeminine..

"Ranma!?"

He continued down the road, walking briskly. He was not a... what did the stupid guy said?...A brute? He was not sure what that meant but he guessed it was a caveman of some sort. Sure, he wasn't book smart like Akane, and he sure in hell wasn't a gentlemen, but he knew that he was the exact man for Akane. She needed someone as stubborn as him. Right? Right?

"RANMA!"

He stopped and glanced behind him to the girl he was dragging.

"What!?"

Akane was huffing, her scarf half on the floor, her jacket twisted and off her shoulder. " Let my purse go!"She worked at his hand struggling to make him release her.

He watched her for a second. He was right for her. No man had this kind of patience with such a rough tomboy.

He let go her, and stepped back still watching her.

She fixed herself up and then gave him a hard stare. Then she threw her hand out her other hand leaning on her hip. " Hand it over, Ranma."

He gave her a questioning look, "What? Hand what over?"

"The bag! The perfume that was for Kasumi! I don't know what it even smells like!"

Ranma felt totally right in his earlier action to get her out of the shop, but maybe he had been a little rough. He handed her the bag and she unwrapped it and looked at it. It was purple and pretty he guessed. Akane uncapped it and sprayed a little and sniffed the air. She gave him a thoughtful look.." I don't know..." she muttered. "what do you think?"

Ranma snorted at the fact that she was asking him, a guy who hated girly things. Nevermind the fact he knew way more than he should about these sorts things. She sprayed again and this time Ranma leaned his head forward to take in the scent. It smelled heavy, acidic. He didn't like and he wrinkled his nose.

Then he noticed how close she was, her face thrust forward, eyes closed, her cute little nose sniffing the air.

For a moment he contemplated kissing her..

Oh, It would be sooooo easy... He could lean forward, and lightly press his lips against hers. And maybe she would respond.

He could finally let those bottled up feelings loose upon her.

He leaned forward, his face inching closer to her. He glanced down at her lips, pink and soft looking. He wondered how she tasted. Would she taste like the fire in her eyes when a challenge arose, or sweet like her compassion, her softness?

He wanted to know. No, he needed to know. Ever since that life changing moment when she asked him to be friends, and showed her unhindered grace to him. She found him worthy. He allowed himself to hope, and want something that he never before had wanted..

He suddenly felt the tip of his nose touch hers, and watched as her eyes opened wide, a blush blaze across her face. He had leaned forward without truly realizing it, and was so close to her he felt her breath brush over his lips.

She flew back, and was about to fall on her bottom, when Ranma snaked out his hand and grab her arm. He pulled her in, steadying her.

"Uh.." He started. Her face was on fire, and he would pay all the money in the world to know what was on her mind. "You okay?"

She nodded, and backed away from him, and capped the perfume. "So uh...Ranma, What do you think?" She wasn't looking at him, her gaze pointedly directed at the ground.

"About…?" He said, knowing exactly what she meant

"The perfume! What do you think." Her outburst made him grin, Seeing how desperately she was trying diffuse the tension.

"Oh...its nice, I guess. I don't like like it, but Kasumi might."

"You don't like it?"

He shrugged, and she put away the bottle in the bag. She unwrapped her scarf, and stuffed it in her shoulder bag, still avoiding eye contact. "So, what type of perfume do you like?"

He scoffed at her question, but then he grinned. Oh, this could be fun.

"Oh, I don't know. Something light, and sweet. Like apples..."

Her head shot up, her eyes wide and she stopped in her tracks "Apples?"

He nodded, enjoying her bewilderment. "Yeah. I really like apples…"

She averted her eyes, "Ah... uh..good. I like the smell of apples too."

He grinned at her, and how she was practically preening. Her blush made her look so feminine and shy that he had the urge to hold her close and tell her more sweet things to make an even brighter blush blossom.

He knew that she smelled like apples. He didn't know if it was her soap or a spray she put on, but all he knew that it was light and sweet and intoxicating.

"Too bad we couldn't find something like that at the store…" she murmured, quietly.

Ranma frowned at the mention of the store, and more importantly at the store clerk.

Akane started again, swinging the gift bag, a little skip in her step. Ranma walked next to her, trying to repress a smile.

"But..it was fun. so..Thanks Ranma…" she said quietly, "for coming along."

Then she did it again, and sun and moon couldn't compare. He doubted anything could be as beautiful and as blindly as her smile. It was simple and powerful. He had heard that some of the greatest men in the world had fallen victim to the beauty of a smile. In his case, it was the grace, untainted and pure like a beam of holy light, warmth that injected into his soul. She smiled. She smiled at him. And when she did it made him feel as if everything was perfect in the world, and he was in a different realm where everything was about him and this goddess of love and beauty.

And grace.

He nodded, and swallowed hard. It was hard to believe that she was his. His fiancee. And one day, his wife. At least in his wildest deepest dreams she was.

She went up to the house gate, and paused turning to him.

"Ranma…?" Her eyes shone brightly in the afternoon sun. She seemed deep in thought, as she questioned him. Her eyes, to his surprise, roamed over him from head to toe. He felt his ears burn. What was she doi-

"Where are the bags?"

Ranma was confused. "What bags?"

Her eyebrows shot up, "The bags with all the party stuff inside them!" She placed her hand on her hips, a pose that he knew in his sleep, "The ones that we spent all day shopping for?"

Ranma crossed his arms, "Well, I don't know! I just got the stupid perfume."

"Ranma! You left them in the store!"

"Me!? It's not my fault...If you weren't so busy flirt-"

She threw her hands up in the air, "You have got to be kidding me! Me? Flirting!? You were literally doing your I-want-something-free moves on him! How dare you accuse me of flirting!?"

Ranma rolled his eyes, "You were flirting. You smiled at him. No one can resist you when you smi-"

He stopped himself, at that was a miracle in itself, since he didn't have the best track record in self control when it came to shutting up.

"Wha… Resist me when I what?"

Ranma pointedly looked away, both because he was blushing hard, and because his month would continue to slip if he looked at her face. "Nothing, Tomboy. The point is that it was your fault. Not mine so don't go blaming this on me."

Akane mumbled something that suspiciously sounded like cursing. She dropped the gift bag she was holding, and crossed her arms. "Well fine then." She said, and started back into the road.

Ranma was still reeling a little from almost letting a semi confession leave him like that, that it took him a second to understand that she was headed back to the store.

Oh Hell No.

"Where are you going?" He asked, as he quickly strode up to her.

"Where do you think, genius? To get the stuff. Hopefully No one grabbed it. I'll ask that clerk..what was his name?" She slowed in her step as she tried to remember.

Ranma gritted his teeth, before calmly stepping in front of her. "Ill get it. You go back and take a bath or something."

Akane frowned at him, "What?" then she looked suspicious. "Why are you volunteering, Ranma? I thought you hated that place."

Ranma put on a confident smile, "Yeah, I do. buuuut.." he said quickly, "You..don't need to go. I'll grab them real quick and Come back."

"Why?" She asked bluntly.

Ranma was trying to think of a less incriminating excuse then 'I don't want that stupid guy looking at you'. "Cause...look I'm trying to be nice. Beside, you look tired."

She did, that was true. And right on cue, she began to yawn, and looked mightily cute doing it "Okay, Ranma, you win. Just make sure that Kasumi doesn't see it, Kay?"

He nodded, and watched her open the front gate and disappear behind it. Ranma then took off at lightning speed, towards that damn little shop.

He got there in record time. He was standing outside, about to run in and grab the bags when an idea came to him. There was a restaurant next to the shop, and he went in asked the chef for a cup of hot water. The chef gave him a quizzical look but complied.

And when Ranma walked out of the restaurant, he was male, and very, very happy.

He entered the shop, and the overwhelming smell hit him like a fat perfumed lady. He spotted Shiro working at the counter, and marched right over to him, manliness in every step of his swagger.

"Hey! Are you Shiro?" He barked, and the pervert looked up. "Yeah who want to kn- oh. Hello…?"

Ranma wanted to grin as the boy grew intimidated. As he should, Ranma was one of the best, most fearsome martial artists in all the world. "I heard you called me a brute."

Shiro's eyes widened, "What? No, sir! I don't even know you-!"

"I also heard that you touched my fiancee."

Shiro's eyes doubled in size, and he almost looked comical, "You don't mean.."

Ranma crossed his arms, trying to hold back a grin by scowling, "Do you know what happened to the last man that touched my fiancee?"

Shiro shook his head like he was trying to shake off a spider. "No..I-"

"I sent him up there." Ranma pointed up. It was technically true. Happosai had grabbed Akane in the morning and Ranma had sent him flying, but not necessarily killing him. But of course, Shiro didn't know that.

The boy was sweating now, "Im Sorry I didn't know...I..She was just so..I mean. Im truly sorry." He took a step back from the counter, and looked around , Ranma guessed, for help. "I'll never do it again! I swear!"

Ranma nodded, still scowling. "You got off easy this time, kid. Watch what you touch next time, alright!"

Shiro nodded dumbly,"Yes, of course. Thank you.."

Ranma spotted the bags of party supplies by the door, and grabbed them as he walked out. But before he left, he called out to Shiro, "I'll be watching, ya hear."

He didn't get to see the clerks face, but it was probably hilariously terrified.

Once Ranma was outside, he laughed loudly. Usually, he never tried to frighten people. He was a martial artist, and as such he helped the weak and defenseless. But that boy needed to learn a lesson. No one called him a brute, touched his fiancee and got away with it.

Ranma, feeling accomplished rushed towards the house. Dinner was approaching, his stomach informed him, and he could already taste Kasumi's cooking . When he got there, he jumped over the fence, and onto the roof.

He had to sneak into the house, because Kasumi would hear him come in and ask how his day was. And Akane had told him not to let the Tendo eldest see the stuff he had.

So obviously he was going to come in through Akane's window.

It was open, despite the slight chill in the afternoon air. He jumped in, without thinking that maybe he should have informed her that he was coming in. There had been instances where he came to her window to talk and she was in the middle of undressing, but she was always quick to blind him by throwing something hard and painful at his face.

Luckily, she didn't protest to his arrival this time. She was asleep, curled up on her bed, still clothed in the sweater and jeans she had worn that day. She looked so comfortable, so..huggable. Ranma blinked. He hadn't even know that the word huggable was in his limited dictionary.

He wanted to join her.

But of course..he was Ranma Saotome. No way would he do such a thing...especially if she was sleeping. He would need her consent, and to get that he would need to wake her, and to do that he would probably have to tell that he kinda sorta..loved her in a way… maybe.

Ranma sighed and dropped the party supplies by her desk. He was about to leave when the wind blew, her curtain flying up, and Akane shifted a little, as the wind caressed her hair.

And then Ranma smelled apples.

It was very light, and very sweet. He leaned in just a little, trying to get a better whiff of it. He only wanted to get a little closer, but he body said, 'what the hell', and dragged him down to her level. Her exposed neck was just there, waiting for him to breathe her in.

Common Sense said, no don't do it. What if she wakes up? How are you going to explain you sniffing her like a crazed man? But, as usual he didn't listen to common sense.

So he leaned in, her warmth flooding his senses, and took in a breath. he smelled apples, and a bit of the acidic perfume, with just a touch of something that was Akane. It was light, and filling, and Ranma wanted more. But as satisfying as this moment was, it wasn't complete. He felt like he was stealing something.

He wanted her to be awake, and looking at him. She was beautiful , lying there smelling so nice and girly, but he wanted her to see him, to watch him as he took in her scent, her eyes filled with that unbearable, irresistible grace, and to want him to bring her close.
Ranma leaned away, disappointed in his current life situation. Why couldn't he have that. Why did he have to sneak around like this to get close, to feel her warmth?

Oh. That's right. He was Ranma. and she was Akane.

Because he feared that the thin thread that was woven between them would be severed if anything ever changed.

Better safe then sorry.

Bitterness filled him, and he stood up abruptly, and stepped back. And as he did so his foot crushed something.

It exploded with a loud pop. Ranma jumped away, and onto the table. Akane, yelped, and stood straight up, her stance battle ready, "What was that!?"

Her eyes seemed confused, but she was trying to shake the sleep out of them.

Ranma was appalled. What to say? What to do? "Uh..something...popped…?"

Akane looked up at him on the table, her face clearly perplexed. "What?" then she glance at the bag that Ranma had stepped on, "Oh Ranma, you stepped on a popper." She rolled her eyes, "I guess you didn't want me napping."tiredkasumi

"I was just dropping them off" Ranma defended, and jumped off the table. Akane nodded, "Yeah. Well, luckily its only one of them. " She grabbed the bags and hid them in her closet, "So did she see you?"

Ranma was still trying to get his heart beat at a manageable level, "Kasumi..? No."

"Good." She came back to the bed and sat down, looking up at him. "You're male again? Run into any problems?"

Ranma shook his head. He wasn't about to tell her about his little prank on that Shiro. She fixed her hair, before giving him a look. "I knew you would come in through the window. I was waitin-" She paused, frowning. Ranma started at this. So...she was waiting? "I mean..I must've fallen asleep…" She blushed then, and incredibly brought a hand to her neck, her finger drifting over the spot where he had inhaled. Did she know that he..?

"Well, I'm hungry!" Ranma said loudly, and very agitated. She started at his voice and he guiltily looked away

"uh..yeah me too."

He walked over to the door, trying to make a clean getaway and desperately avoiding the sight of her hand on her neck.

"Wait! Ranma?"

He paused at the door, and glanced over his shoulder at her, "Yeah?"

Her hands were back in her lap, and she wasn't looking at him. "I was wondering if you wanted to..help me plan Kasumi party?"

Ranma blinked.

"I mean not that I need your help or anything, I just think it would be more fun and faster if we both did it." She continued on nervously, "And then you could claim that you helped and stuff."

Ranma blinked again.

Akane was not happy with his lack of response, "Oh whatever!" she stood up, and shoved past Ranma and out the door, "I can do myself! Honestly!"

Ranma wanted to both roll his eyes, and laugh at her. "Akane! I'll help! Geez."

She stopped, and looked at him, "Oh don't force yourself, Ranma. I'm sure you're plenty busy."

Ranma groaned as he followed her down the stairs, "Man! What a Tomboy! I said I'll help didn't I? Thats means I'll help. Besides with your creative skills you need all the help you can get!"

She wrinkled her nose at him, and stuck out her tongue. He grinned back, cocky. Only Akane could look attractive while making such a face. "Well, FIne! After dinner. My room."

Then she walked into the family room, where Kasumi was setting the table.

Ranma watched her, still smiling stupidly. And his blood was racing just a little, because the invitation to her room sounded a lot less innocent in his mind.

But there was another reason that he stood there. Something had clicked in his brain. Akane was always pretty, whether in a Gi, or an expensive dress. But that wasn't why Ranma found her alluring. Akane was Akane when she was alive and nipping at him, fighting with him, looking at him with her bright expressive eyes. It was at those moments that her grace and beauty filled the room and captured all those, unfortunate (or fortunate) to be in her presence. And that's why the moment in the room had felt incomplete. She was Beauty all the time, but she was only Grace when she was awake, and smiling.

Preferably at him.

And all the the quiet heated moments, or stolen kisses couldn't compare with one grace filled smile.

Grace

Because she had her own kind of grace. And that is what he wanted

Grace


Love implies anger. The man who is angered by nothing cares about nothing.~ Edward Abbey

Anger

Oh no, he was not mad.

He was more than mad.

But the most startlingly fact was that it was she that made him feel this way. He felt as if he had brought her close, only to have her stab him in the heart, the blade piercing through his ribs.

So, no. Mad was not the right word.

The right word was fury, outrage, wrath.

Anger


I...kinda drifted away from the theme...and tried to pull it back together there at the end….my bad (Do kids still say that?)

And

In regards to my definition of grace..uh...Just go along with it. This was a very hard chapter to write. It was just not clicking! And truth be told, I still don't totally like it.

But I hope you enjoyed it, nevertheless.

Just for reference: I ALWAYS refer to Ranma in male terminology. Although he is a girl, and sometimes I forget he's a guy, I believe Ranma is male through and through. So, I apologize if you got confused at some point of this chapter.

BTW: Reviews brought me back. It lit a fire under my butt! KEEP BOTHERING ME! It works, I swear.