Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma, nor do I make any profit from temporarily borrowing this wonderful cast of characters created by Rumiko Takahashi.
Author's note: I originally wasn't going to post this, but couldn't help it, and figured someone out there might enjoy it. I thought it was kinda anticlimactic when I finished it up the other day…but not if the reader is a fan of Ranma and Akane fluff. And I haven't written anything for these two in a while, and I was dying to; hope they stayed in character… So anyway, here you go…some fluff.
Akane couldn't wait to get out of school for the day. The lectures seemed longer than usual, stretching on and on for hours about arithmetic and English. But the worst was when her homeroom teacher began asking students what their plans were for the future, about college and those infamous entrance exams. She didn't even want to begin to think about that, but she knew she couldn't avoid it for long. Summer vacation was just around the corner, and after that was over she'd have to start deciding what she wanted to do with her life after high school, beside the dojo…and even getting married. As she turned to talk to her friends Sayuri and Yuki to hopefully get her mind off of things, it seemed they were already deeply immersed in a conversation about Toudai.
She turned back around, put her head down on her desk, and tried to block it all out.
As Akane opened her shoe locker, a small, folded-up and wrinkled note fluttered to her feet. She groaned and hoped it wasn't another love note, but relaxed quite visibly when she recognized the messy scrawl that was Ranma's horrendous mix of katakana and kanji.
Akane, I have cleaning duty with Daisuke, so it's probably gonna take a while. Just go home without me today.
She looked towards the windows, and grimaced at the sight of the graying sky. They'd shared an umbrella on the way here, and either she took it home now or Ranma got wet on the way home later on, which he probably wouldn't be too happy about. Akane pulled their umbrella out from the buckets by the doors and left it on top of the lockers for him to use later. She pulled the note back out, and scribbled a message on the other side.
The umbrella we used earlier today is on top of the shoe lockers. If it pours and I get soaked, you owe me one, baka.
For some odd reason she smiled at her own note, then realized what she was doing, blushed, and tucked it into one of his shoes before beginning the long trek home through the light rain.
"I'm home!" she called out as she slowly slid open the shoji, startled by the silence that replied. She still hadn't adjusted to it.
Nabiki now attended University and would be away from home until August rolled around in a couple of weeks, and Kasumi had lately been frequenting Dr. Tofu's office since they'd be married in a year, and he still was unable to calm his nerves whenever she stepped into his home. Akane still wasn't sure how he'd even managed the proposal, but was happy for them nonetheless.
She assumed her father and Genma were playing shogi, and Ranma wouldn't return from school for another hour or so. She replaced her shoes with slippers and shuffled silently towards the stairs.
"Ah, Akane. Before you go to your room I have a favor to ask." Her father approached her and looked a bit wary about what he was about to request. "Ukyo called earlier and left a message for you. She said she'd like you to visit her restaurant tonight. Apparently, she's made some free okonomiyaki for you and Ranma…I'm sure as some sort of an apology."
Akane sighed inwardly, dreading this. Her fellow fiancés had tiptoed around her and evaded her since the wedding incident, and she had hoped it would remain that way for years to come. But she knew, deep down, that at least one of them would eventually request some sort of confrontation, to settle things once and for all. She tried to think optimistically, considering Ukyo would probably be much easier to deal with than Shampoo or Kodachi, both of whom were perpetually armed and dangerous. Ukyo was the only suitor who'd probably be truly sorry for the whole ordeal; though Akane had yet to forgive any of them.
"All right. I'll go. Are there any umbrellas left?"
"Sorry. Kasumi used the last one to visit Dr. Tofu."
She listened to the downpour roll off the sloped roof for a few seconds, and bit back a gripe as the rain grew thicker. Just my luck. I hope this isn't an omen.
The rain seemed to ease up as Akane stepped back outside, though the ashen clouds remained. She decided it'd be best if she hurried, considering how downcast the sky appeared the closer she got to Ukyo's house. And the humidity was thick, smothering, and highly unpleasant. This rainy season simply wouldn't leave quickly enough.
The temperature only rose as she stepped into the okonomiyaki restaurant, the smells of various ingredients, and the din of the late afternoon rush adding to the overall density of the air. Getting the chef's attention wouldn't be easy, and she watched from afar as Ukyo flitted around restlessly in a haphazard attempt to fill all the orders as quickly as possible.
"Oh, Akane-san." Akane turned and saw Konatsu addressing her from the other end of the restaurant, clearly exhausted but trying his best to hide it. "We will be right with you. We're just a bit busy right now."
"I can see that," she remarked as she took a seat on one the stools, waiting both patiently and anxiously for Ukyo to finish up and let her go back home. She needed to practice in the dojo for a long, long while to relieve all this excess stress, as well as a very long soak in the bath later on. Anything to get her mind off of all this.
Finally, the flow of customers lessened, and Ukyo was able to take a small break to speak with Akane like she'd originally intended. "Sorry about that Akane. Summer brings a lot of tourists, and that brings a lot of customers. Not that I mind." She smiled, then decided it would be best to blunt for now. "I've got a question for you."
Akane visibly slouched. "I thought the only thing you had for me was okonomiyaki."
"Nah. I just had something important to talk to you about." Her grin faltered a bit.
Akane sighed, blatantly exasperated. "What is with you fiancés and your ulterior motives?" she asked with a slight tinge of acid to her voice.
"We're girls in love; it's only natural, right?"
"I think you all go way beyond natural."
Ukyo laughed a bit nervously to break the silence, and then realized how painfully true it was, especially in Nerima. "Well, anyway, I didn't bring you here for banter. I just want to know…since the, er, wedding ordeal, have you and Ranma become…closer?"
For a moment, Akane just stared straight ahead, void of expression. Then the words sunk in, and she fought to keep herself from blushing. "Wh-what are you implying?"
"I just haven't been up to date with you two lately, and I want to know if…you've gotten closer to each other or something." Now they were both partly flustered.
Akane wasn't sure how she was supposed to respond. She technically still wanted revenge for the destruction of her wedding, and figured it would be easy now to lie and say they had become very close simply to upset Ukyo. But at the same time, it wasn't true, was it? She thought of the note she'd left in Ranma's shoe locker early on, and the way she'd smiled in spite of herself at his messy scrawl and her own playful response. "I…" A long pause ensued, and the two avoided each other's gaze. "Yes," she finally admitted, "we have."
The chef's eyes narrowed, and she seemed to be scrutinizing Akane, as if the real answer was written on her face. She backed away from Ukyo, again evading the deepening suspicion.
"Then prove it," Ukyo said, absently twirling one of her spatulas.
"Prove to me that you two have become closer." She crossed her arms, askance still thick in her gaze. "I'll follow you home today, and you have to show me some sort of proof."
Now Akane narrowed her eyes. "What'll you do if you don't?"
"Go back to being Ukyo the crafty fiancé."
"Those ulterior motives we were talking about before."
A slight hesitation, then, "Fine. Let's go. I'll prove you wrong."
The chef smirked, still filled with disbelief. "Good."
The timing was perfect. Akane approached the gate to her house just as Ranma was coming home from school. Ukyo hid in a nearby bush, watching and waiting for this alleged "proof."
"Ranma!" Akane called, hurriedly catching up to him at the gate and snagging his attention.
"You all right, Akane? You look like you've been running around in the rain all day." He seemed genuinely concerned, which only made it easier for her to take the next step.
She ran up to him and gave him a hug.
"A-Akane? Are you feeling okay? Do you have a fever or something?" Ranma's cheeks turned a delicate shade of red as her grip tightened around his back, thoroughly confused by her unusual gesture. She found herself leaning into his chest, soaking in the warmth.
"Ju-just hug me back. And m-make it look nice. Like pr-proof," she whispered.
"What? What are you talkin' about?"
"Hug me back!" Her whisper grew fiercer this time around, but he still refused to do as he was told, completely perplexed. The stress of the day finally getting to her, she stepped on his foot, and he bit back a yelp of pain.
"What was that for?!"
"You owe me for the umbrella, remember? So just do me a favor and hug me back." Her foot hovered again over his, a threat as looming as the sky.
"F-fine." His blush turned a darker shade of pink. "But only if you don't accuse me of being a pervert and hit me."
Akane relaxed, her muscles losing all their tension as a smile laced her lips. "Then only if you don't say I'm uncute."
He seemed to be relaxing now, too, and also found himself smiling. "Deal." He wrapped his arms around the small of her back, and rested his chin on the top of her head, surprised at how easy it was to fall into place like this.
In the distance, Akane heard the rustle of leaves and knew Ukyo had left quite unsatisfied; this was, after all, solid proof.
"How long can we stay like this?" Akane suddenly asked, her voice muffled.
"Until it rains, I guess." He cleared his throat, still blushing, and far too comfortable to move.
They both quietly hoped then and there that the sun would break through the clouds.