Ranma/ NiGHTS
'Into Dreams'
Finale




Since waking up, Akane and Ranma had not seen each other but for a scant glance, what with the instantanious rush for them and Nabiki to begin preparing for that night. Regardless, the intimate and knowing smile that was taught to them by a mutual friend that had also taught them to fly would be enough to fuel the renewed hunger for one another's presence. Nor Ranma or Akane had ever experienced such a moment of clarity for what they truly wanted and desired in their whole lives, but now since the first rise of the day, they were more than familiar with it; they wore it like a prized possession such as a childhood blanket or a token from the one they loved most. The latter is what it truly was, more valuable than any ring or flower or impossible task...

For nothing held more weight than gold than another's heart.

Ranma fidgited nervously, as his mother worked on his wild hair; never prior having had any attempt to be tamed meant Nodoka had her work cut out for her.

The Saotome matriarch sighed, as she fought with Ranma's unruly bangs, "Honestly, with your father's condition, I would have suspected that he would at least demand you learn proper grooming while you were on the road. Your hair is nearly unmanagable, dear son of mine."

"Ah," Ranma started, "It wasn't as if keeping my hair neat was a high priority at the time, Mom. we..." Ranma was cut off by the ringing of the phone.

"Ranma-kun, it's for you," Kasumi's voice called upstairs. Nodoka breathed, and backed away from her son sitting.

"Go ahead and answer it, Ranma, we have a bit of time to go." Ranma nodded, a bit grateful for the breather himself, and strode downstairs to graciously accept the phone from the eldest Tendou Daughter.

"Sup?"

"[Hey, Ranma, how is everything?]"

The pigtailed boy raised an eyebrow. He hadn't spoken to Ryoga since the failed wedding incident, and wondered why his rival in the art would be calling now, much less with the sanguine tone. Perhaps Akari had managed to do the impossible, and forced Ryoga to lighten up? "Hey, Ryoga, everything's okay here, how're things for you?"

"[Ah, they're pretty good, thanks for asking.]" Ranma's other eyebrow joined the other one in altitude climb.

"Ryoga, you're not dying or anything, are you?"

"[... Why would you say that?]"

"Ah, it's just that... well... something's different with you..." Ranma stumbled out, and was surprised at Ryoga's light hearted chuckle.

"[Heh, I guess. Listen, I know it's been a while, but I was wondering if we could get together sometime and... you know... spar or something?]"

"You mean fight each other?" Ranma asked, guardedly.

Ranma couldn't see Ryoga raise his hand in a peace gesture, but the words stated had the same impact as the visual action, anyhow, "[Heh, no, just sparring. I've been working around the farm here, and hadn't had as much time as before to really practice. You were the only one who kept me in shape, I mean other than the occational bout with Mousse, I mean.]"

"Ah, sure... buddy, anytime," Ranma replied, feeling the bounce that was being barely held back within him become more spry. He then grimaced, "Ah, anytime but today, though. Me and Akane are supposed to be going to the Prom at Furinkan tonight." Ranma then blinked, realizing that Ryoga hadn't even asked about Akane, yet.

"[Prom? That's an American custom, right? That's good. Akari had taken me to her own school's White Day ball. I hope you have fun then.]"

"Uh, thanks!" Ranma replied, still a bit disorientated by the pleasantness of the conversation, "Well... I have to finish getting ready for tonight, I'll catch you later, okay?"

"[Okay, take care, Ranma... OH... and Ranma... thanks.]"

"Thanks? For...?" No answer but the click of a phone being hung up was forthcoming.
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"Okay, Akane, what's with the smirk?" Nabiki asked, as she sat on the bed, idly picking off small stray hairs that were on her sleek deep umber gown for the Prom.

Akane couldn't turn from where her eldest sister was working on her hair, but could see Nabiki's teasing but curious expression in the reflection in the mirror in front of her, "Nothing, just content..."

"Akane, 'just content'?" Nabiki asked, "Most girls would take this as one of the biggest nights of their lives. I would presume you would be more than just 'content', especially since your fiancee is the one taking you."

Akane's smirk grew larger, surprising her sister from the fact that the intended jibe towards Akane about being Ranma's fiancee did not have the expected result, "Yeah, I'm content with things today." Akane was more than content, she felt a completeness before that eluded her prior, even as she could see the answer. Like the final puzzle piece in hand, and staring at the very hole in the picture it belonged to, without realizing completely conciously that there was nothing left but to place it where it belonged. She knew what Ranma had told her at Jusendo, despite his ready denials of his admittance of love. But now, even if he hadn't said it, she knew what she felt for him, and that it was so strong, that Ranma could only reciprocate those same emotions. She knew that she had to complete him, as much as he completed her.

The largest hurdle in their tentative relationship had been overcome, and with that, it seemed as if all other obstacles before them were much to trivial in comparison. The would be easily conquered, as long as they battled it together.

"You're acting weird, even for someone going to their first Prom," Nabiki replied with a guarded tone. Kasumi and Akane just giggled.
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Ranma stood out on the front porch in his tuxedo, waiting for Akane, and idly noted his mother and father approaching him from behind.

"Ah, my dear son looks so manly," Nodoka beamed, causing Ranma to squirm under the scruteny.

"Boy, this day you truly make me proud, taking your fiancee to this Prom. You bring honor to both the Saotome Clan and the Tendou Clan." Genma stated with no little amount of pride.

"Ah... th-thanks..." Ranma replied, turning away so they wouldn't see his blush.

"Son, as handsome as you look at the moment... your outfit seems to be missing a touch..." Nodoka pulled out a red silk hankercheif, and folded it to go into Ranma's vest pocket, "You just do not seem yourself without a touch of red... whoops!" A wayward gust of wind caught the delicate cloth, unfolded it, and carried it away. "Oh dear, I have such butterfingers..." Nodoka stated with a slightly subdued tone.

"Don't worry Mom, I'll get it. Tell Akane if I'm not back to start on without me, I'll meet her on the way!" before any other words could be made, Ranma leapt after the cloth that was gaining a decent head start over him.

"PLEASE DO TRY NOT TO RUIN YOUR TUXEDO, DEAR," Nodoka shouted out after her son. At that moment, Akane and Nabiki came downstairs, eliciting gasps from the others present.

"Oh, Akane, Nabiki, the both of you look simply lovely!"

Akane blushed a bit, and bowed her head, "Thank you, Auntie. Um, where's Ranma?"

"I'm afraid he is off rectifying an error on my behalf, but he had said for you to start on without him, and he would meet you along the way. I trust it wouldn't take him long to finish his task," Nodoka replied.

Akane forced down a pout; she was looking forward to walking with Ranma, "Okay, Auntie. We'll be sure to have pictures done for you while we're there, then."

"I've got that covered," Nabiki added, flashing the camera she had in her purse, "I won't let a single precious moment between them slip."

"I hope that doesn't distract from your own enjoyment," Nodoka answered, turning to towards the open gates, to see three young men carrying flowers, and glaring at one another in challenge.

"Ah..." Nabiki started, turning a slightly nervous glance towards her father, whose eyes were narrowing slightly, "I think I'll manage... somehow." She took off towards the gate before her father decided to make a move, and decide if any of the three boys were good enough for his little girl. Akane giggled, and started after her sister.
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"Lousy hankerchief," Ranma grumbled, once again attempting to snag it, only to have it flutter just out of his grasp. Ranma suddenly hit breaks, as he watched the cloth end up in the hand of one person he didn't want to see tonight.

"Ranma, darling," a fancifully dressed Kodachi voiced with icy dissapproval, "I have been patient in awaiting your forthcoming proposal for me to attend your quaint suarre that no doubt was the brainchild of my brainless father, but my patience is becoming finite."

"Maybe that's because I wasn't intending to go with you, did that ever cross your mind?" Ranma shot back.

"Oh, come now, you honestly would not have me to believe that you truly would settle for that insolent bratling over the beautiful Black Rose? It is to laugh!"

"Inna heartbeat," Ranma replied without hesistation. Kodachi seemed to ignore his response, as she pulled from somewhere a black rose.

"For you, my darling, wear this upon your lapel, so that your garb would be truly complete!" Kodachi idly tossed away the hankercheif she was holding, and approached Ranma with the rose. A flash of metal, and the head of the rose fell to the rooftop, "WHO DARES?!?"

Ukyo stood at ground level, wearing her own tuxedo, holding a couple more throwing spatulas, "I dare pretty easily, sugar. Now you back off from my pal there, or you're gonna get what's com'n to ya!"

"Ah, so the common street vender wishes to challenge her better? This shall be a short, and rather unfulfilling match, but I shall obligate you..." Kodachi replied, "But first..."

"WHOA!" Ranma was forced to flip back away from a barrage of black roses that were thrown at him like darts, a few of them almost managing to snag his tux. He flipped to ground level, and after landing, found his perspective lowered even further. "Great, this was just *bound* to happen," the redhead grumbled, looking at the oversized and wet outfit, and not paying attention to the woman on the second floor of her house apologising profusely for drenchingthe poor girl.

"YOU, THE REDHEADED HARLOT!" Kodachi screeched out, "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE WITH MY DARLING RANMA?!?"

"That-a-way," Ranma-chan said, guilelessly, "If ya hurry, you might catch him... eventually."

"I have not the time to properly deal with you, we shall have a reckoning soon, pigtailed girl!" Kodachi took off in the direction suggested, allowing Ranma to breath a sigh of relief.

"Ranchan, we're gonna have to get you out of that before it ruins..." Ukyo stated with concern. Just then, a lovely girl dressed in a prom gown landed next to Ranma, and kneeled while holding the hankercheif out for him.

"I have retrieved the item of your pursuit, Ranma-sama."

"Ah? Konatsu?"

"Heh, yeah," Ukyo replied, "He cleans up pretty nice for events, don't you think?"

"Um, so he's your date for tonight?"

"Yeah," Ukyo replied with a meloncoly tone, "If I couldn't go with you, I thought that I would at least take a good and close friend."

"Hey! Good goin', Konatsu!" Ranma congradulated.

"Um, thank you for your esteemed praise, Ranma-sama."

"Ranma, we can't dally here. Let's head back to my place, I have a spare tuxedo that should fit you. We can also get you some hot water there."

"Thanks, you're a real pal, Ucchan!"
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"MY TIGRESS!"

Akane's heart sank at the presumptuous and haughty voice that stank of inflated arrogance, "Kunoooo, please, not him.!"

"I have fully prepared for us to share our most magical night of our fleeting youth!" Kuno stood before the group's path, wearing a black Kimono with haori jacket emblazened with his family crest and hakama trousers.

"Kuno... it's like this..." Akane took a deep breath, "I'm *not* going to the prom with you, is that clear?"

"Nonesense, for the very Deities and stars themselves have deemed that we spend this gracious evening within the company of each other. To go against what fate has decreed is to bring tragedy upon our houses of the likes that the immortal bard Shakesbeare could only ima.." A hollow thunk drowned out the last syllable of Kuno's soliloquey.

"Stick boy talk, too, too much," Shampoo commented with an irritated tone, while putting her bonbori mace away.

"Sh-Shampoo?" Akane stepped back, slightly nervous. It wasn't that she wasn't sure she could take the Amazon, as Akane firmly believed in her ability, but Kasumi and Auntie Nodoka worked so hard on the deep navy blue full-length gown she was wearing. Mousse dropped from the rooftop next to Shampoo, and bowed to Akane.

"Akane Tendou, even with my sight as it is, I must say that you are absolutely radiant this evening."

"Um, thank you, Mousse," Akane replied, still standing in defensive. Her sister and her dates had backed away to a safe distance, in case something were to break out.

Fortunately, that wasn't Shampoo's intention, "Shampoo... I want Akane to know, Akane take good care of Ranma, yes?"

A slight confusion settled over Akane, "Pardon?"

"Cologne has decided that we are needed back home," Mousse answered for her, "We are not sure how long we'll be gone, of if we'll even be coming back."

"Ah... so... you're...?" Akane asked tentatively, slowly coming out of defensive, but in a subtle manner.

"Shampoo... I want Akane to treat Ranma too, too good. Can Akane do, and no beat or feed him poison cooking?"

Akane's eye twitched, but before she could answer, Mousse interjected, "Shampoo, you know what your Great Grandmother said about needling her."

Shampoo looked properly chided, "I sorry. Akane... Shampoo know she not always treat Akane fairly. I no want... I do not want... want to have bad feeling with Ranma bride, is okay?"

Nabiki and her dates stood silently, as Akane had been sufficiently surprised by the subdued tone, and the lowered eyes of her rival, "Just... what are you trying to say, Shampoo?"

The Amazon girl stuck her hand out, "Shampoo would like to be Akane friend, if Akane no hate Shampoo too, too much."

Akane allowed a warm smile to cross her face, as she took Shampoo's hand, "I didn't hate you, Shampoo. True, you drove me up the wall at times, but I didn't hate you."

Shampoo looked surprised, "What?"

"Truthfully, I always thought you two would make great friends," Nabiki interjected, earning a nod from Mousse in confirmation.

Shampoo looked to Akane's sister, and back to Mousse, before settling back on Akane. The Chinese girl's smile began to match her new friend's, and her hand firmly gripped more onto Akane's, as confidence began to firm, "Akane nice girl, Sham... I like to be Akane's friend."

Akane pulled Shampoo into a hug, startling her, "Thanks, Shampoo, it would be good to be your friend, too."

Mousse smiled, and then turned away, while clearing his throat, "Well, we have to begin packing, We will see Saotome later then, since he was not here with you.

"Ah..." Akane started, "You know? I think Ranma would appreciate seeing you there, Shampoo, Mousse. Why don't you two come along?"

"We are not students of Furinkan, so I am afraid the invitation does us no good, but thank you for the offer," Mousse replied, diplomatically. Akane grew an impish grin remenicient of a purple garbed harlequin that caused Shampoo to momentarily flinch.

"You know? There isn't a rule against bringing dates that do not attend Furinkan to this Prom..." Akane looked back to her sister, who smirked in confirmation of what was being implied.

"What you mean?" Shampoo asked with a puzzled expression. She was answered, as Akane took the lavender haired girl's arm into hers, and Mousses arm into the other.

Overcoming his surprise first, Mousse spoke up, "But... isn't this a formal ball? What of our clothing?"

"You're both fine," Akane answered, "Now, let's go, and hopefully Ranma will meet us on the way."
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Ranma, Ukyo, and Konatsu arrived at the Prom of a gaudy Hawaiian theme that amazingly managed not to detract from the jovial air, amd found the dancefloor sparcely populated, as most of the students sat along the walls and socialized. He felt a faint dissappointment at not seeing Akane around, but did not let that bring him down, as he kept looking around. From another entrance, Akane, Mousse, and Shampoo arrived.

"I don't see Ranma anywhere," Akane stated with faint despair in her voice. Shampoo picked up on it, and turned to Akane.

"Akane, Ranma like you much. I no.. I do no think he stand you up."

"Shampoo's right," Mousse added, "Do not disheart, for Saotome is tenatious as a force of nature when it comes to your wellbeing."

Akane took some comfort in Mousse's words, "I guess, thanks."

"Akane no have to wait longer," Shampoo said with a tone of emotions that Akane couldn't single out. She turned to the Amazon girl, and followed to where she was pointing.

Just as a new song started playing, a song from a dream that carried promise of love found and kept, a song of bells and violins and flutes playing in perfect, passionate, and heartfelt harmony glided into the air and coated it with a peace and happiness; Akane's eyes met Ranma's across the nearly empty dancefloor. At once, they slowly approached each other to meet at the middle, noticed by just about all attending.

Like two parts that had been perfectly broken apart coming back to the whole, they joined to each other; Ranma's arms encircling Akane's waist, while her hands grasped onto his shoulders. As they seemed to fuse together, The decorated gymnasium seemed to melt away. like paint being chipped away by the fine pieces, and becoming sparkling glitter that fluttered into the air. Brown and brick walls melted into hazy mist, while ceiling became a peaceful blue sky. Plastic Palmtrees shimmered into bamboo poles that jutted from crystalline springs, while A orange-red sun barely climbed over mountains in the distance to spread a pink and orange soft, warm glow across the springs, the underside of the light and fluffy clouds, the largish bubbles that rose from the springs, and the thin wisps of fog that hung about.

Akane rested her head upon Ranma's shoulder as they began to slowly dance; the only ones upon the hill at the center of Jusenkyo, as a sparkling trail that they would have recognized at the glitter that followed them during flight descended down upon them.
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Toltir twitched on his side and yowled miserably, while 'Foxy' fiddled with getting a syringe into his vein with heavily shaking and seemingly drunken hands.

"ETERNITY CONSUME US ALL, YOU'VE MADE ME A DIABETIC!!!" Fox shouted, injecting himself with insulin.

NiGHTS held back his/her chuckle, as he/she waited for the hosts of the contest to get themselves back in order.

Toltiir pulled himself back together first, and hissed malevolently, "I should gut you like a freshwater trout for that..." The cat then growled to himself, "Not only did you manage to nearly kill us from sugarshock, you duped us!"

Fox's eye's went wide, "Huh? How is that?"

"The Nightmaren wasn't interested in the contest, were you?" NiGHTS made a vague gesture, and then shrugged.

"Then, what was the point?"

"Oh, I guess NiGHTS did have some intrest in the challenge, but for a personal agenda. We can't break down this reality, even if we wanted to. Since it is now pretty vital to how everything is running."

"What do you mean?"

"NiGHTS linked a base reality with an alternate reality. The Nightopia reality was the base one, and Zmartwan was actually making a critical move that would have affected us all in a very negative manner."

"Huh, then shouldn't we be grateful, I mean, regardless of the enormously dangerous amount of WAFF that was forcefed to us?"

"Maybe," Toltiir replied, "but I don't care to be used like that." The cat then turned back to NiGHTS, "Don't think that this will get you a free win, buddy."

NiGHTS shrugged, and smiled disarmingly. With a bow to his/her hosts, the harlequin flew into the air, leaving a trail of promises and dreams fulfilled... and a nausious cat and Fox god... in his/her wake.
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MERCIFUL GOD! I THINK I LOST A PART OF MY CHERISHED, BLACKENED SOUL IN WRITING THAT!!! I will NEVER write anything THAT WAFFY *EVER* again!!! It hurts, dear lord the immense pain as my manhood has been scarred irreparibly. Anyhow, I'll have the notes later on what the Hell was going on in the Dream chapters, but for now, I gotta go write something dark ^_^