A/N: I'm back at it again! I love tinkering with Ranma and Akane....they are so pliable, yet so....hmm..something. They are fun! I was inspired by a million things to write this! I hope you enjoy!!
A Delicate Covenant
"Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind."
Helena ~A Midsummer Night's Dream
The clock ticked with each passing second, simultaneously matching the tick forming on the face of the woman who sat, her form an agitated heap of frustration and near despair. Akane glared at her computer screen. And glared. And glared. The same error message had been plaguing her monitor for the last thirty minutes and she was absolutely at a lost as to what to do. This would be a manageable situation any other time. She'd just call down to the IT department, and with whatever kind of magistical wonders those brainiacs possessed, they would with with two clicks here and a whatever they do there instantly solve her problems. But at the current moment, she was a proverbial damsel in distress. It was 8 o'clock and her team of nerdy knights in armor were long gone, leaving her to gaze at her computer screen in dumbfound surrender...and contempt.
She balled up her fist menacingly at the screen, slowly extending out her middle finger, but stopped midpoint. No need to anger the computer Kami for her ungraceful ignorance in the world of computers. She had a presentation due in the morning. A very big huge presentation. One her career depended on. One she had sacrificed every evening for the last three months for. One that seemed to be only a click away, if the confounded error message would just go away. In a burst of energy she didn't' know she still had left, she pushed herself away from her computer. "Mangy piece of shit." she muttered as she raked a hand through her hair.
Inhaling and sighing, she took a look around at her office from her crumpled position. In a company as big as Taichou, having your own office was definitely a sign of accomplishment. It was big and roomy, richly decorated in solid woods and a floral motif that she adored. Even when she was in her small, cramped cubicle as an intern and then as an entry level employee, she always was surrounded by flowers. The frame that held her degree even had flowers etched into it. Orchids to be precise. She enjoyed the solitude, the privacy and status that came with the office. But with that privacy, came a sense of detachment from her coworkers. Ever since her promotion, she'd seen friends turn into colleagues and relationships that she'd built as an intern, dwindle into the wind. But with power comes responsibility. Or whatever philosophical mumbo jumbo she'd created to make up for the absence of amity she'd grown accustomed to at work.
"Coffee. Must find...coffee." Admitting defeat for the time being, she swung her office chair sideways and slowly raised to her feet. Taking one last glance at her monitor hoping the error message would have ka'putted itself out of existence, she snarled at its stubborn refusal to die and stomped towards her door. She wadded barefoot through the office hallways. No one was there, not a soul to chastise her for her disruption of social normality. Passing a mirror in the hallways, she noticed her appearance. Her long hair was slung into a sloppy bun, tendrils of blue black framing her face and caressing the back of her neck. Her silk voile blouse was pulled carelessly out of her skirt and her stockings long abandoned in a corner of her office. With a giggle she shrugged and turned to walk away. "Ninomiya-san would kill me if she were to see me like this."
"Well, it's a good thing that Ninomiya-san isn't here, wouldn't you say?"
Akane shrieked, and whipped around, grabbing the nearest object she could find. When she about faced, she came eye to chest to the person who had scared her witless. Quickly taking a step back, she gulped when she felt her back run into the wall she was just facing. Without a second's hesitation she raised the object in her hand to her attacker's face.
A stapler. She groaned inwardly, and felt her cheeks grow hot in embarrassment. Heir to a dojo and THIS is how I react? Dad would not be pleased. As she was lost in her thoughts, the hand belonging to the "attacker" raised and smoothly pushed the stapler out of his face. Akane slowly raised her head up, her free hand balling into a fist at her sides. She should be the only one here, but the man that stood in front of her had on a business collared shirt, slacks and the badge from his key chain had the Taichou insignia on it. By the time her eyes landed on his face, the combination of apprehension and near death fright he had given her, had her shaded red as an apple.
Instant realization dawned on her, and her earlier inward groan grew in volume, enough to make it out of her thoughts, pass her lips and out into the open..
Saotome. Ranma Saotome.
She never knew his position, never knew what his purpose was in the company. He was new, only having been hired a mere six months ago. And although she knew nothing about him, she knew everything about about him...physically. Hair, the color of her darkest most sensual dreams, that boyishly fell over his dark blue orbs, smooth tanned exotic looking skin, and a grin that was to die for. Take that back. To kill for. Why she had never approached him, she couldn't tell you. She had no idea why every time he approached her in the hallways or the break room, she'd blush like a teenager and make up some excuse to rush out of the area.
She would find herself after observation, picking more feminine things to wear. Skirts instead of slacks, or she would let her hair loose, letting it flow and cascade down her back instead of the very neat and sensible buns she had worn to work for years. By the time she realized how attracted she was to the man, that she'd developed some kind of high school crush on him, she knew there was no way to back out of it. She had been making a fool of herself for months over his very appearance. She had vowed to try something, anything, to stop the madness. Her heart beating as if he had come to work bare chested and waiting, just for her...THAT had to stop. So she altered her paths, changed up what time she went to lunch, all in hopes of avoiding him. Only to end up nearly attacking him with office equipment.
But there was no avoiding him now, how precariously close he was at the moment, how she could feel how he warmed her as his inhaled and exhaled breaths flushed over her skin. Suddenly and slowly at the same time she saw his hand rise from his side, reach across the modest space between them to push the hair that had fallen from her sloppy bun out of her face. His hand paused there for one brief second, then took a lingering spiral, his knuckles now caressing the soft skin of her face. Closing the space between them, he slid his hand around to the back of her neck, kneading the skin he found there. She, in turn wanted to reach up to touch him, but something heavy was weighing her hand down....when she realized she was still holding the stapler.
She blinked once. Twice. Three times, then only realizing that Ranma had not moved from his spot, and neither had she.
So wrapped up in her own thoughts, her rampant fantasies, she'd managed to not hear a single word coming from his lips. Shaking her head, she painfully dragged her gaze from his lips...right to his nose, finding it the only suitable place she could look at without looking like someone had kicked the thermostat up to high hell.
"What...what did you...say?" Akane's glance was immediately drawn back down to his lips, as they quirked up in that irresistible smirk only he could make so damn handsome.
"I said, if you're going to stay behind and work by yourself, you should try something a little more menacing, than a stapler. Or was there something I missed in those mandatory self defense classes?" Ranma crossed his arms in front of his chest, laughter playing in his eyes and shortly after on his lips.
Akane eyes ventured back down the stapler in question, and visibly slumped even farther down the wall. Smooth Tendou. So classically smooth. "I..I-I"
A glint of teeth was shown as Ranma's quirky smirk inched further up his cheek, seemingly reveling in the flustered woman who stood before him. He took into account that he had startled her, but her response was so uproarious and he found himself in no rush to leave the obviously discomposed but mildly captivating woman to her own devices. He crossed his arms in front of his chest, waiting for her to stop tripping over herself and speak.
Upon seeing that smirk played across his face at her benefit, Akane quickly gained her bearings and snapped out of the infatuated haze she was trapped in. Who does this little punk think he is?
Stomping one bare foot on the carpeted floor, she fixed her gaze on him and pointed her finger squarely right between his eyes.
"Well, for starters Mr....Mr..." Ranma raised his hand to remove her fingers from his face, but never released it, choosing instead to caress the soft skin there. Only to infuriate her more. And it worked as he smirked as she shaded an impossibly deeper red at his antics.
"Whatever!" Akane bellowed, snatching her hand back. " I don't think it's THAT funny for you to startle people when they have their back turned to you...and what are you doing here, I thought that I was the only one still authorized to be here...you know you should check in with someone if you're gonna...."
Akane was cut off as she was suddenly looking at his back as he strode away in the direction towards her office. As he approached the door with her name on it, he turned the knob. "Rude! Hey! I'm still talking to you! And what do you think you're doing! Get away from my office!"
"Ms. Tendo. You may or may not know since you spend all of your time either fleeing the area when I'm around or locked in this cell block you call an office..." He paused for dramatic effect and to chuckle under his breath at his presumably correct assertions about her. "...but I'm the supervising chair for the IT department. I received an automated email from your unit, indicating an error. I didn't think anyone was here, so I came up to investigate. But if you don't want me to look at your computer...." And with that he removed his hand from her doorknob and began to walk back towards her.
Akane blinked slowly, and in the next instance was down the hall right behind him. Close enough to smell his cologne and had to resist the urge to inhale deeply. Yeah, be as creepy as possible Akane. SNAP out of it. You are not fifteen years old. Grabbing his wrist in a death grip, she ignored his raised eyebrow as she swung the door open, dragging him in behind her. Circling around him, she then with more force than gentleness, pushed him towards her computer, shoving him into the seat.
"Excuse my rudeness, Mr. Saotome, please PLEASE PLEAAASE take a look. All I need to do is save the final draft. I really need your help, you see. I have the Doulcher account to present to the Kunoji-san and the board in the morning. And if you could JUST get that stupid error message to go away, you'd be worth your weight in gold." Standing directly behind his seated form, she reached over his shoulder and jutted her finger out towards her screen at the error message. Smiling focused on the screen and began typing furiously on her keyboard, accessing the issue at breakneck speed.
Ranma paused for a minute. With her standing so close, he caught a whiff of her scent. She smells good too?
Snapping back to, Ranma focused on what she had said. "Doulcher? As in THE Doulcher? As in the top advertising company is the United States?" Ranma stopped mid keystroke and looked up at her. Akane smiled proudly at the awe in his voice, her chin tilting upward by slight measure.
"Yes, Doulcher wants to branch with Taichou to bring our software over to the United States. So far our program is still relatively new outside of Japan, and Doulcher wants to help us get our name into American households."
"...And they gave it to you?" Ranma snorted and continued to tap tap his way across her keyboard. It was only seconds later when he could feel the hair raising off the back of his neck and his skin prickled as if someone had released a blast of static electricity into the room. He froze and it was then he could feel that the weird sensation was coming from behind him. Whipping around in the chair, he could see a large tick forming under Akane's eye, her lips pressed into a very thin line and her eyes locked onto his form.
"Yes. They gave it to me. Vice President of Public Relations for Taichou Enterprises. The only other person qualified to take on the job would be Youku-san, and she's not here." Ice punctuated Akane's voice as lowered her face directly in front of his. "Now if you could kindly fix my damn computer so I can go home, it would be greatly appreciated."
The tension in the room was thick as butter, with Akane glaring into Ranma's soul and Ranma looking as if he'd seen the devil with his own two eyes, until the mask of anger lifted off Akane's face and without word, kindly turned Ranma's chair back forward.
"You know, you're cute when you're mad. Your face gets all red and your eyes kind of sparkle like tiny tiny fireworks are going off behind them....."
Ranma was no glutton for punishment and figured he was too close to the tiger's claws to take this any further. But oh did he love riling her up. He noticed her. He always did. He had noticed her from the first day he took up the position of IT chair. And the first thing he made out was her very sensible bun. To him it screamed...well sensibility. His previous encounters with women had led him to believe they were all bird brains or even worse, creepy crawler harpies with their thousands and thousands of hands reaching out, trying to grab and claim anything they could get their hands on. Quick to spurt off bouts of love and commitment without even knowing him.
That's why she caught his eye. No, it wasn't love at first sight it wasn't love at all. It was definitely attraction, but aside from that, he respected her. And with that respect came observation. After a couple of months at Taichou, he noticed that she took her lunch break around the same time he did, so one afternoon, he turned and smiled at her as they approached the elevator. He honestly hadn't expected the reaction he received.
He knew she was had recently been promoted to Vice Chair of the Public Relations department, and that she had graduated with honors with a dual degree in both Graphic Design and Mass Communications from some fancy smancy school. That, mind you, she paid for out of her own pocket. Wow. He knew she was a workaholic, as she spent most of her time pent up in her office, either on the phone, or doing some conceptual design for the company. He also knew that for the last couple of months she had stayed behind while they clocked out and headed to their respective homes. Like he said. He noticed her. A lot.
He expected for her to smile back and then go about her day. What he received was an almost inaudible squeak and her retreating figure as she quickly turned on her heels and headed for the stairs. That confused him greatly. So much that when he told Ryoga, his best friend, he had to walk away from him to save face. Ryoga in between gasps of breath educated Ranma that he was "losing his touch".
A few weeks later, as he sat in the break room, he saw her smiling face round the corner. He smiled and waved to her in the friendliest manner he could muster. His confusion mounted as her smile disappeared, she lowered her head and turned to walk out. Do I have something in my teeth? Does my breath stink. Better yet, she's acting like a teenager with a cru....
Realization dawned on him at that moment. Did Akane Tendo, his walking sense and sensibility, have a crush on him? The thought alone made him laugh, but for the next few months, he decided to test his theory. He would go out of his way to speak, wave, smile, ANYTHING that would normally force a response out of any other normal person. But all he got in return was the color draining from her face (or to her face) and her marching off in the opposite direction. Yes. Crush...or a terrible paranoia of technical gurus confirmed.
And that's how he found himself, checking on an error message coming from her computer and apparently scaring her into her next lifetime. Not that he had meant to do that, he really wasn't supposed to be there. But it was end of month, and a supervisor has his duties. He, although, couldn't' say he didn't enjoy the flush of her skin in the wake of his actions.
He slowly lifted his hands in a placating gesture of innocence and backed away from her before she bit his head off whole. "I'm done, Ms. Tendo. I took the liberty of saving it for you." He lifted up a small flash port. "I also saved a copy here, so that you can review it before your "big" day tomorrow." With that he flashed a mega-bright smile, leaned back in her office chair and crossed his feet, basking in the glory of being, well freaking awesome.
Akane looked up from his face, towards her monitor. The bright red error message was gone. She glanced down at the flash port in his hands. She smiled a brilliant smile in return. "And to think, thirty seconds ago I was thinking on how I was going to kill you and where I could hide the body."
The smile dropped from Ranma's face as he stared at the easy going smile splayed across her face. The smile fooled him none, she was probably serious as a heart attack. Sense and sensibility, my ass. "Whatever." Ranma straightened up in the chair. "You all done here? Lock up. I think I should treat you to a cup of coffee and a bagel, for all your hard work here at Taichou." Then Ranma looked behind Akane. "Although...by the looks of your ass, you should probably lay off the bagels."
He thought he heard her growl and wanted to chuckle, but suppressed it. She was too much fun. She turned on him in a flash, and with strength he probably wasn't accustomed to females having, grabbed a handful of his shirt and yanked him out of her chair. "Keep your eyes off my ass, or I'll pluck them out for you. Then you don't have to worry about how many bagels I eat, got it buddy?" With that she unceremoniously let go of his shirt, and laughed as he stared at her slack jawed.
Yes. Way too much fun.
"Soooooorry. You sure are touchy. Look. At least let me walk you to your car. I mean...you don't have your stapler. So I don't want you to get hurt." Ranma's quick thinking and even quicker feet was the only thing that saved him from a backhanded slap Akane was going to deliver just for him. And then the growl was confirmed. She does growl. How cute.
"Just this once. This very once, seeing how we are such great new friends. I'll let you walk me to my car." Akane spent the next few moments gathering all her things up, making sure everything was set for the presentation and headed off towards the elevator. "There isn't anything you should be...you know...shutting down or turning off down in your department is there?
Ranma pressed the elevator down button and turned towards her. "Nope, did all that before I came to save the day up here. Everything's locked up." As the elevator doors open, he smacked his head. "Except ONE thing. Dammit. Good thing they put us up one flight up above the parking deck." Stepping inside he pressed the button for his floor and turned towards her again. "You don't mind do you? It should only take a minute. I need to shut the server down so it can backup for tomorrow."
Akane made a throwaway gesture and leaned against the cool metal of the elevator walls. It had been a very long and tiring day. Another minute out of her time wouldn't make a difference. All she wanted to do was get out of these clothes, into a nice warm bath, and away from the object of her desires. She learned something new today. He could light her fire...and piss her the hell off in the same instance. She just needed to establish her boundaries with him, because the amount of times she turned the color of cherry blossoms today couldn't be healthy for her pride.
Although she must say, being this close to him completely destroyed her previous fantasies but promised that any future fantasies she was bound to have would grow exponentially after tonight. His trail of hair would have made anyone else look foolish and immature, but the pigtail that rested on his well defined shoulder made him twice as cute. He had a penchant for keeping his hands stuffed in his pocket, in the indescribably but concupiscence way that drew attention to his nice firm bu...
The ding of the elevator once again drew Akane out of the inescapable fantasies she was having about Ranma. She followed him as he paced down a long hallway. Running lengthwise down both sides were ceiling to floor glass windows and behind them were several computer stations, ropes of wires wrapped around poles, all leading to a seemingly gigantic blinking server on the opposite ends of the rooms. Wow. Impressive. I've never been down here before...not that I had a reason to...
Finally they reached Ranma's office. It was nicely decorated, and by that, very simple. He had his desk, his computer, with paper work neatly piled in a stack. His degree stood proudly on the far wall by itself in a simple conservative frame. Hundreds of books lined the ceiling height book case that was erected right behind his desk and a small plant stood in the corner of his room with an artificial light placed on it. Quaint. Obviously a well matched surrounding for the otherwise smooth but sprightly countenance of his.
Ranma rounded on his desk, taking a key out he reached into a safe that was concealed behind a row of books and removed a manilla enveloped sealed with red tape at the top.
Akane smirked. "You think its wise to show a relative stranger your "secret" hide space?" He looked over his shoulder as he closed the door to the tiny safe. "I trust you. Any woman that follows a nerd into his office in the middle of the night, looking as good as you do right now, can't be that untrustworthy." He winked at her then turned to his computer, pressed a couple of buttons and in the background the sound of mechanism going off signaled the server powering down.
"Alright! All done. Now before we were so rudely interrupted by my detour, we were headed to your car, as you were in need of my protection." Ranma held out his arm in a grandiose expression and then lifted his eyebrows twice, his eye twinkling.
Akane rolled her eyes heavenward, crossed her arms and began to tap her delicately heeled foot. "Let's go moron. It's amazing that I've known you for all of maybe an hour and you've managed to get on my nerves enough times for it be illegal." She slapped at his arm, walked past him and back into the hallway. Ranma quickly followed as the paced they long hallway and rode the elevator down to the parking deck. As the doors opened, Ranma turned to Akane.
"So which way is your car?" Akane pointed to the far side of the deck and began walking. Ranma let her walk a couple of paces in front of him, obviously enjoying a view that he had grown accustomed too, after watching her walk in the opposite direction many times before. "A-ka-ne. I have a question." Never breaking her stride, she turned her head slightly towards him her eyes narrowing. "Don't call me that".
He looked just over her shoulder as a sudden blare of light caused him to squint. Abruptly a screeching tires against pavement sound filled the garage and the next thing Akane felt was her body as it hit the pavement. Expect the pavement was soft and surprisingly, sinewy. She looked up trying to acclimate herself with what just happened, when she felt Ranma body tense, the arms he had wrapped securely around her waist tighten. She closed her eyes, the adrenaline rushing through her body was making her head feel light. The screeching sound continued until the sound faded as the car made its way out of the garage.
"Shhhh....don't....move." Ranma's attentions were snapped to the sounds of the parking deck. He was sure he'd seen what he'd seen and it was only his quick reactions that saved him and Akane. But he realized it was imperative to get her away from him. Without notice, he rolled hard to his right, bringing Akane under him, effectively shielding her while he thought of the next step. He had an idea of what was going on, glancing down at the envelope still tucked in his shirt pocket. He never thought about her reaction, he was thinking on pure instincts at the moment.
Akane didn't know what was going on. She had no idea why Ranma dragged her to ground other than a car had nearly missed them. But the car had passed so why was he now hovering over her, the look of danger still in his eyes. "Ranma?" She called out. He looked down at her, bewildered to why she would call his name. Then he looked down at himself, plastered up against her. He cocked his head to the side and smirked. What exactly does she think I'm doing? Shaking his head, he listened for another second before hauling himself up with Akane still in his arms.
"Stop looking at me like that. I saved your life, you know. I think I should get more gratitude than your testy attitude flowing off of you in waves." Ranma backed up, releasing Akane. He took another moment to look around the nearly empty parking garage. Seeing nothing he grabbed Akane's wrist and gunned across the parking lot towards where Akane said her car was. "Let me get you to your car... quickly."
"So you are just going to shovel me off, and not explain? What are you thinking Ranma? Do you think that was more than an accident? Explain how it looks like the color has drained from your face. Explain to me why in the middle of January, you are sweating...." When he didn't answer and continued to drag her tactlessly through the garage, she dug her heels into the ground, effectively stopping both of them. "ANSWER ME!"
He whipped around fiercely to face her. Akane took a step back,not used to seeing such anger played across his face. "Just get to your damn car! Stop worrying about things that don't concern you." Impatiently he looked around in the direction they were walking. "Where the hell is your car?"
Akane's eyes withered to slits across her face, her mouth set in a scowl. She just wanted to know what was going on. Was she in danger? Why couldn't he just answer her questions. She impetuously began searching through her purse for her keys. Upon finding them, she turned in the general direction of her vehicle and pressed the auto start button.
"Fine! I never asked to come down here with you in the first place! Do whatever you want. Hope everything works out real fucking fine for you." She spun on her heels, her now broken stiletto pumps fisted in her hand. He watched as she walked away. He barely cared that she was upset. Anything to keep her from getting involved with these issues. She didn't belong in this world. She was too frail and too fragile, to be drug under with him and this mess.
He spotted her car when she lifted her remote to unlock the door, the rear end lights blinking. At that exact moment, Ranma noticed something terribly wrong. There was another blinking light directly under the drive side door. His heart lurched at realizing what was about to happen.
"AKANE!!! Stop! Come back! Your car! " He took off after her, praying that she'd stop and listen to him. When he received the middle finger from her instead of her cooperation, he groaned and quicken his pace to an all out sprint.
Akane soon approached her car when the breath was knocked from her body. Seconds later her bones jarred as her body hit the pavement for the second time in a matter of minutes. Her eyes grew to the size of saucers as she struggled to regain her breath, fury turning her blood cold. She had managed to meet a complete nut job, one that she was fiercely attracted to, one she didn't want to leave to his own devices because she gathered she cared. But there were few excuses for him tackling her for actually listening to him and following his directions. Was he completely detached and deranged?
She had opened her mouth to verbally flatten him, when she felt a sudden heat nip at her from all sides then draw all around her and in the next second she heard the deafening blast. The vacuum from the blast consumed the last measure of air breath and her eyes slid closed.
A/N: Whoooa! I'm writing action and adventure! *LAUGHS* Lets see how this turns out! Heh Heh Heh.....