Ranma ½ was created by Takahashi Rumiko, and is owned by Kitty, Shonen Sunday Comics, Viz Video. Not me.


The Potion

Nine

We both got in trouble because of you. Akane's thoughts were bitter, but not truly angry. At least, not yet.

She bought our story at least.

But doing something that perverted in the middle of class--!

I wasn't doin' nothin', he protested. At least, nothin' visible.

Akane closed her eyes and imagined her hands stroking something, something which made Ranma tense and stop.

Hey, for guys it's different! We can't hide it!

Oh, and me shuddering and gasping in front of the whole class was invisible.

Ya managed to cover it up well enough--

Ranma. She sighed, and switched to speaking. "I can't say this strongly enough. I don't want you doing something like that to me in public."

Ranma hung his head down. "But in private?"

Akane shook her head, until she got an idea in her head and smiled.

"Oh, no. Don't even..." Ranma started to protest as Akane jumped in front of the stream of a nearby hose.

They shifted. Akane cursed quietly, and turned to face the nearest wall.

Ranma chuckled. "Sucks, don't it?"

"Yeah. How you stayed sane..."

"So is there a reason you decided we needed to be in alternate forms?"

"I'm treating you to ice cream."

"Your treat?" Ranma seemed absolutely giddy.

"Absolutely."

She frowned, tasting a hint of deception in her mental echo. "What's the catch?"

"Simple. If at any time you show anyone in the store how horny you're getting, you have to pay."

Well, if I win, I'll just show I have better control...however, if I lose, I might just be...and then, with Akane...not again, not until we do it regular... Ranma's thoughts were soft, but were readable. If somewhat incoherent.

"What's the matter, Ranma?" Akane grinned. "Don't think you can handle such a little challenge? After all, according to you, guys have a harder time hiding it, right?"

"What if I win?"

"Then I'll admit you were right."

Ranma snorted. "That ain't fair."

"I didn't say anything about fair," countered Akane. "If you win, I'm paying for the ice cream. Isn't that good enough?"

Ranma shrugged, which Akane had to admit was absolutely cute. "I guess..."

"Guessing isn't good enough. Do we have a deal?"

Ranma held his hand out. "Deal!"

Akane grabbed his hand and shook it. Then unleashed the one detail she'd managed to conceal from him:

"Oh, by the way. This is a one way challenge. You can't do the same to me while we're in the store."

"What if I don't do it mentally?"

"What if you get your hands shoved up your nose?"

"Huh?" Ranma seemed confused. "Whatcha mean?"

"I mean, if you lay a hand on me, I'll rip your arms off." She scowled. "Getting manhandled in an ice cream parlor is even worse then getting mindhandled in class."

"What, ya think I'll just touch ya like that?" Ranma grinned. "What if I did what any girlfriend'll do to her boyfriend in public?"

"Oh, in that case," said Akane, "I don't think I have to worry."

"Alright!" Ranma eagerly took Akane's arm and wrapped himself around it, pressing his chest lightly against that arm. Akane nearly jumped. "What? I see couples like like this alla time."

"All the time where?"

"Come on! Haven't you ever looked around?" Ranma giggled, a sound that was far too cute coming from a guy. Even if said guy was currently petite and busty.

"I'll take your word for it..." Akane decided to let that one slide. Damn male hormones. Damn Ranma's use of sex appeal...

Damn straight.

Even she had to chuckle at that. "Come on. Let's go. We still have some practice to get in tonight."

"We gotta spar like this too." Ranma pointed out.

"Balance?"

"Yep. Plus reach differences. I dunno if you noticed, but you gained a half shaku of reach in this form."

"Ranma, I don't really know the archaic measures. Use metric, okay?"

"Ya gotta learn 'em eventually." Ranma sighed, and rolled his eyes. "All right. Ice cream. And your eventual humiliation."


Nearly everyone in the ice cream parlor was watching the redhead who was slowly eating her sundae. It seemed every bite made her squirm in a way that was delicious to watch.

I warned you not to eat chocolate, Ranma.

S..shut it...I like chocolate! I didn't know it'd heighten that!

Heighten what?

I ain't even gonna think about it, or it'll make it even worse.

You can give up any time you like. Akane grinned, and started thinking of additional images with which to torment her fiance.

Ranma struggled, but gathered his strength again. He smiled and put his head on Akane's shoulder.

Ranma struggled, but gathered his strength again. He smiled and put his head on Akane's shoulder.

"You're such a sweetheart, Akane, for treatin' me to ice cream. You know how much I love it..."

Your verbal seduction skills are not intimidating.

Oh, poo! Worked all the time on Ryouga.

A statue would work on Ryouga.

Well, yeah. If it was cute.

Akane grinned, and envisioned running fingers over various parts of Ranma's anatomy. Never mind that it would require more fingers than she had to hit all the points she had in mind, even if said fingers were not attached to only two hands.

Ranma shivered, but pressed himself against Akane a bit stronger.

Remember, the limit is normal social interaction!

What you're imaginin' ain't normal by any stretch of the imagination.

You know, I'm starting to think that mental foreplay could be better than the real thing.

Yeah, but the endin' climax just makes it worse.

Oh, not if we return to the physical before the end...just to do something like this...

Ranma nearly squealed again. Ya really want me to be the mother first?

No of course not! Akane thought back.

Then back it off a bit--

You lose.

Huh? Ranma glanced around...and realized that everyone in the restaurant was staring at her. Most of the boys were obviously drooling.

Damn! Ranma thought. Fine, I'll pay, but we gotta like... make out or somethin'...

I don't recall making any such deal. Akane grinned a bit wider.

Pleeease, the mental plea was accompanied by a mental hand stroking something....

Hey! You're not allowed!

Already lost.

Well, there is that, allowed Akane. But I can still say no. So you might not want to upset me too much.

Ranma leaned in and pressed a soft kiss on Akane's lips. Ya don't understand...just a little...

What makes you think I don't understand? Akane sighed. I was looking forward to it myself. But we can't leave yet.

Why not?

Because if I stand up right now, it will be very obvious that you weren't the only one having a good time.

Well, couples make out in restaurants.

Maybe in the boonies in China, but not in downtown Nerima.

Ranma settled. Fine, but we better! I'm serious. Somethin' in me really wants ta.

So you admit I was right?

Fine, yer right! Now ya gotta take responsibility.

I will, don't worry. Akane blinked. Did you notice...we're not jumbling our thoughts up as badly as we were earlier.

Hey, yeah! Mebbe it's 'cause I'm a girl right now!

No, I think it's something else. Akane pondered it. It's been, what, four days since the potion?

Yeah, four days.

We got worse on the second and third day, and it's getting better now. Akane thought a bit harder. When was the last time we had a real fight?

Dunno. Not as often. Mebbe, on a lower level we're already one or somethin'.

That's kind of what I was thinking. Though I doubt it's quite that in-depth. It's just...we can tell when we're about to do something stupid.

Akane, can we discuss somethin'?

What is it, Ranma?

We'd outta talk about the type of ceremony, shouldn't we?

I thought we had, already. We both decided that we hate ceremonies. Her eyes narrowed. I also thought we'd agreed to wait until all the fiancees are dealt with. There's still Kodachi and Ukyo.

Come on! I was thinkin' we could have two ceremonies.

Why two from zero?

Small ceremonies.

By small, you're thinking just our parents and my sisters? And by two, you're thinking one for each form?

An one western an one japanese.

Oh, didn't quite get that thought, she admitted.

Which do you want, Akane?

She rolled the thoughts around in her head. Twice as expensive...gotta get a different dress for each one...would have to anyway, since Ranma and I aren't the same size... She realized from the amused look on his face that she was woolgathering. I think I like the idea.

Good, but do ya wanna be the bride in the japanese or western wedding?

I think I'd rather be the bride in the Shinto wedding, thought Akane. I could wear my mother's bridal kimono. Then she grinned wickedly. And you can wear the white gown in the western wedding.

Waitaminute!

Cut very low, to capitalize on your assets.

I wonder which honeymoon'd be wilder...

Don't be thinking like that right now. You've still got chocolate ice cream to finish. Akane grinned again, and switched to speaking out loud. "Remind me on the way home to stop at the fruitmonger's. I want to pick up some apricots."

"Apricots?" Ranma took in another spoonful.

Much like chocolate, they're an aphrodisiac.

Afro-whatsit? They come from Africa?

No! They enhance attraction and pleasure.

Oh. Ranma shivered again, and a few chuckles ran through the restaurant. He paused to glower at them, then turned back to Akane. "I'm all done. You ready to go?"

"Yeah, I'm ready," said Akane Lucky it settled down. How do you guys walk around with one of these? Not only does it get in the way, it's a buld in bodily weakness.

Tell me that next time some guy grabs your tit. Ranma stood up. "About time. I'm gonna take you home an' put you through the workout of your life."

Every guy in the place nearly fainted from blood loss.


"Hey! It was just getting good!" Ranma shouted, rather incensed.

"Here, dry yourself off," Nabiki snapped as she threw Ranma a small towel.

Akane, however, was quite embarassed. "Look, Nabiki, next time,can you knock?"

Nabiki slung the large kettle behind her back. "Not when I need to be trained. Besides, the amount of noise you two animals were making, you'd never have heard me knock."

"Did anyone else hear anything?" asked Ranma sheepishly.

Nabiki smirked. "Your mother thinks you're very manly. Even when you're a woman."

"Nabiki, we weren't..."

"I know, you were just rounding third. Now, come on, teachers. Time is money."


"Normally, there'd be no way you'd be ready to beat Ukyo by Saturday," said Ranma. "But luckily, she's ceded her best advantages to you."

Nabiki smirked. "I knew that punch would get her too heated to think straight."

Ranma frowned. "Do you ever do anything on impulse?"

"My haircut was on impulse."

"Is that a line of credit?" asked Akane.

"Oh, ha ha." Nabiki rolled her eyes.

"Okay, so you're methodical, an' ya always take time ta think things through." Ranma frowned. "Normally, that'd be a good thing. But in the Art, ya gotta learn to let your instincts take over."

"That sounds dangerous."

"Not really. It's thinkin' without thinkin'. "

"Then you're a grand master."

"Of course," smirked Ranma. "How many times have you done the first kata?"

"I can do it blindfolded." Nabiki smirked confidently.

"Hey, that's not a bad idea!"

"I was kidding!"

Ranma held up the towel she'd thrown him earlier. "I was not. Akane, you'll respond."

Akane took a stance across from Nabiki as Ranma tied the towel over Nabiki's eyes.

"This isn't fair," groused Nabiki. "How can I do this kata against Akane when I can't see her?"

"Ya just do it."

"But it's a defensive kata!" argued Nabiki. "If I can't see her attacks--"

"Ya gotta go on instinct."

"Fine, fine, Yoda."

"That's Master Yoda to you." Ranma stepped back. "Begin!"

Nabiki pushed up the first block easily enough. But from there, it quickly degraded. Nabiki wavered between trying to go by memory and trying to sense Akane's presence. All too quickly, it came to an abrupt halt when she missed a parry and Akane's fist slammed into her gut. She fell to the mat, gasping for air.

Ranma stood over her, waited until she'd recovered. "Good thing Akane was pullin' her punches, or you'd be a red smear."

"Yeah, thanks sis.." Nabiki pulled the blindfold off.

"Hey, who said you can take that off?!" To Nabiki's surprise, Ranma pushed the blindfold back in place.

"I just got pounded. Doesn't that prove that I can't do this?"

"Yeah, it does. Which is why you're gonna do it again." Ranma paused. "I wasn't really sure if you were tryin' ta figure out where Akane was goin', or just match the forms by memory."

"Neither was I."

"Both are wrong," he said. "Ya gotta clear your mind of everythin'. Forget the kata. Don't worry about what Akane's doin'. Just do the kata."

"How do I do the kata and forget it at the same time?"

"Let your body remember where it has to go. Empty your mind."

"Unlearn what I learned? There is no try?"

"You can't unlearn the kata. Your body won't let you. You just have to not worry about it."

"Mind of no mind," supplied Akane helpfully.

"Yeah, that's what the navel-watchers called it."

Nabiki started to slowly breathe, her arms drifted into guard.

"Go!" Ranma commanded, and Akane once again rushed forward.

This time, Nabiki's parries were on target, deflecting seven attacks mere centimeters from their targets. But the eighth caught her and knocked her to the ground again.

"You were gettin' cocky."

"You'd both know all about that," groused Nabiki as she picked herself up again. Luckily, Akane's foot sweep hadn't knocked the wind out of her this time.

"I got some Instant Nannichuan if ya wanna give it a try."

"Let's not."

"Again!"

Nabiki barely put her defenses up in time. But she matched each attack flawlessly, right up until the final kick, which clipped the side of her head.

"Ow! Fuck! I'm remembering why I quit all this!"

"Well, ya better remember why ya started, cause ya got one chef that wants ta put you on the menu."

"That's why I'm here. I want to put paid to her account."

"Akane, increase the tempo."

"What?" squawked Nabiki.

"Begin!"

Akane roared into the attack, throwing punches and kicks faster than before. And this time, Nabiki completed the kata perfectly.

Nabiki was obviously amazed at herself. "How--"

"Simple," said Ranma smugly. "We didn't give ya time to think. Ya didn't have time ta second-guess yourself. All ya could do was go on instinct, 'cause ya had nothin' else."

"So, I just need to have my life threatened and I can beat her." Nabiki took the blindfold off.

"No, that's just foolish."

"Then tell me, O Great And Fearless Teacher." Nabiki tossed him the blindfold. "How do I tap into this store of instinct?"

"Stop thinkin' and start doin'! Oh, and keep trainin' and get more stuff in yer muscles."

"So now that I've finished the first kata, what do we do now?"

"The first kata."

"But--"

"Until ya can do it in your sleep."


We should go see a movie. The thought was sudden, almost out of nowhere.

Ranma turned to Akane as they were enjoying dinner. A movie? Why?

Because that's what couples do.

Normal couples... but normal couples don't change sex with water or can read each other's minds.

I want us to be normal! Akane sounded almost petulant. Just for one evening, I want to pretend that we can go out and have some fun, and not be challenged by random martial artists, kidnapped by magical Princes, or acquire new suitors!

Fine, we can have our date tomorrow night. But we should still dress in case of weather, if ya know what I mean.

Do you still have any of that waterproof soap?

Never did. Ryouga had that.

Damn pig.

An' it ain't like we can get any more, what with the Amazons havin' buggered off.

I can live with unisex clothing while going to the movies. The mental tone showed it was more of a tolerance.

Ranma paused, and grinned. Wait a minute...are you askin' me out on a date?

No! We are going like this! Akane sounded rather firm.

Are ya sure? 'Cause I caught that mental image of me in that green dress Mom bought for me.

Nabiki cleared her throat. "Got something on your mind, Sis?" She glanced meaningfully towards the Tendo patriarch, who was looking at Akane oddly.

"Oh, Ranma and I are going on a date tomorrow night," Akane announced.

Nabiki winced. "Good move, Akane."

Predictably, Soun had burst into tears. "Oh, happy day! They're finally getting along!"

Genma nodded. "Perhaps, in a few more weeks, we can send for the priest again, eh, Tendo?"

Both fathers were soon on the floor, fists from their respective offspring. Ranma sat down, and picked up his rice bowl. "Anyway. Is there anythin' good playin' at the theatre?"

"Rebirth of Mothra is playing," said Kasumi happily.

The entire room fell silent. Five pairs of eyes boggled in Kasumi's general direction.

Nabiki was the first to speak. "Uh...you like kaiju movies?"

"Who doesn't?" Kasumi looked honestly puzzled. "I've been watching Gojira since I was a little girl."

"Well, Kasumi, a monster movie doesn't seem exactly romantic..."

Ranma put his arm around Akane's shoulder. "We're there for the atmosphere anyways."

"Do remember that you have a math test on Friday," said Nabiki. "Shouldn't you do some studying?"

Ranma shrugged. "Gonna fail it anyway."

"No, you won't! I'll make sure of that!"

Nabiki smirked. "Going to 'pass notes' to him during the test, Sis?"

"No, of course not! I'll make him study!"

Ranma shrugged again. "I already know how to add an' subtract, an' I can always use a calculator for multiplyin' an' dividin'. What else do I need for runnin' a dojo?"

"Finances for one."

"Thought you were gonna handle that part."

"Yeah, but I might doctor the books."

"Would you?"

"That's besides the point."

Ranma shook his head. "I don't think so. Because like with martial arts, if ya don't know it an' can't learn it, ya get someone else ta do it. Ya get someone ya can trust, an' when it comes ta handlin' money, I trust ya."

Nabiki blinked. "Wait...did you just say you trusted me?"

"With money, yeah. With a camera, hell no."

"That's too bad, because we are shooting for the flyers on Sunday."

"Crud. Forgot about that." Ranma sighed. "Look, Nabs, I just don't think I need the math classes. I mean, we're learnin' algreba an' vector maths."

"Well, some people are learning," commented Akane.

"Sure, there's a use for them in combat, but if ya stop ta solve a formula in combat, you're gonna get your ass kicked."

"So you can judge the speed of objects, their angles, and path in the air?"

"Of course."

"Tell me, Ranma." Nabiki grinned. "Do you stop to solve the angles of each and every punch before you throw it?"

"Well, no."

"But the angles are important, right?"

"Yeah, but ya practice the punch, until ya do it right."

Nabiki waited for it to sink in.

"So what does that have to do with math?"

Nabiki thumped her head off the table. "Jesus, and I thought you were smarter than that." She looked up. "If you can practice a punch until you can do it right every time, certainly you can do the same with a math problem?"

"...Math kata?"

"If you ever actually did your homework," observed Akane drily, "you'd realize that that's exactly what it is."