INSENSITIVE JERKS AND UNGRATEFUL MORONS

It actually felt like a normal place to live in during the early morning hours, Akane mused. No sudden fights breaking out in the middle of the road, no bicycles pinning you in the head, not even a crazed lover trying to embrace you until you gagged. It's not that she wanted or even liked being the target of any of those stupid things but, at this point in her pathetic morning, Akane would even welcome an idiot challenge from Kodachi if it got her moving.

Instead, very much alone in the foggy morning, Akane Tendo puffed her cheeks in anger and stared at her twisted ankle as it rapidly swelled up to twice its normal size. Just her luck that she injuries herself when no sane or insane person is awake. Of all the times Ranma's fiancées decided to bother her, why not now!?

Bracing her back up to a fence along the road, Akane attempted to pull herself up but, failing miserably, crashed hard on her butt. Geez. Maybe it was better no one was around to see this….

She could crawl, she supposed. Dr. Tofu's clinic wasn't that far. An easy twenty minutes on shuffling knees, even. But…What would she do if someone saw her crawling across the road?! If Shampoo or Ukyo saw her it would be too embarrassing to recover from!!! She was supposed to be strong! Unstoppable! A martial artist in her own right. Tendo's do not crawl.

But people in pain sure as hell did…

Stealthily looking around just to be sure no one saw her, Akane twisted her body and braced herself up on her knees. Or thought she had. But instead of ground below her, Akane stared in confusion at the breaking dawn as the wind rushed past her eyes and made her hair fly. A gentle pressure beneath her thighs and at her breast alerted her of being held even before her wide eyes darted up to his teasing gaze. Without braking a stride, Ranma continued to run along the street with her in his arms.

"Oy, Akane. You're in my way. I can't run with your macho-chick body blocking off all the roads."

Her cheeks flared. "Are you calling me fat?!"

"Baka. Don't take it as an insult. In fact, I'm happy to see you."

She looked up at him flatly. "You are…?"

"Of course I am!" His smile sparkled. "I left the weights at home and I needed something heavy to carry!"

A mallet promptly struck him to the ground.

With his inability to feel emotion, Ranma definitely wasn't her first choice for help, but beggars couldn't be choosy here so she explained what happened. And, for the record, Ranma did show a sweet side as his fingers gently checked her now largely inflamed ankle for any serious damage. The concentrated look on his face even made her blush a little.

"….anyways, it's not like I need you to help me but…" Akane added as she finished telling him what happened. "But…since you're already here….I need to get to Tofu Sensei's before it gets worse so…if you're going that way you might as well take me with you…."

"Yeah, I'll take ya but--Geez, Akane…"

She shyly met his heated gaze. "I-It looks pretty bad, huh?"

"It does, but that's not what I'm worried about, stupid…."

"Something worse?" she asked, fearfully.

"Much worse…" he said softly.

"What? What is it?"

"Tripping yourself like that…" Ranma sighed. "How is a klutz like you ever going to get a husband?"

Akane angrily pulled at his cheeks as Ranma laughed and stuck out his tongue.

"T-This isn't funny, Ranma! I-It really hurts!"

"If it does than stop kicking me!"

"Stop being a jerk and I will!"

"Saotome Ranma!"

"Damnit. Not this guy again…"

With Akane in his arms, Ranma deftly jumped to the side just as Kuno appeared out of nowhere, swinging a sword at Ranma's head.

"Today is the day that I defeat you and win a date with Tendo Akane!"

"Who agreed to that?!" Akane demanded.

"Now's not the time for this." Ranma hopped over Kuno, stomping on his face. "I got something to do, Kuno."

"You dare to ignore me? Or do you run because you know you will loose?"

"Don't make me laugh!!"

"You just don't want to be defeated by my mighty sword! Coward!"

"I'd like to see you try to knock me down, Kuno!!"

"Hey! Hey! Don't start something when you're still carrying me!" Akane shouted above their idiotic challenges.

As Ranma ducked the attacks of Kuno and the three weaved in and out and above the streets together, it began to dawn on Akane just who was responsible for getting her into all sorts of stupid situations. As if on call, the sound of a bike bell echoed behind them. Having just brought Kuno to the floor and pressed his foot into Kuno's face, Ranma was now pinned between the eyes with a bicycle tire.

"GAH!"

"Ranma! Today, you try new breakfast I make!"

Shampoo's cute smile instantly dropped once seeing Akane in Ranma's arms. As Shampoo thrust her face and cold stare into Akane's face, Akane blushed and looked off to the side. It wasn't like she had asked to be held by him....!

"Damnit, Shampoo! Do you always have to get me in the face?!" Ranma said, shaking his head to clear the pain. "I told ya yesterday I'd try some later! Later! I have stuff to do this morning!"

"Akane dying?"

"What? Why would she be dying?"

Shampoo's eyebrows jerked together as she sharply pointed an accusing finger down at Akane. "Then why you hold close?"

"What are you talking a--ahh!" Ranma jumped up in surprise as he looked down. The idiot actually forgot he was holding her?!

"Ran-chan!"

You have to be kidding me, Akane thought as Ukyo appeared around the corner, cheerfully waving.

"I thought I recognized your voice! Weren't we going to meet me at my restaurant so we could walk to school together this morning? I already have our lunches made so we could just go from here instead. What are you doing in the middle of the…."

Great.

Now Akane had Shampoo and Ukyo's inquisitive stares on her. This was just getting stupid. Did Ranma have a radar chip on him or something?! She was starting to think that she was better off in the road than in his arms, especially when a rubber chicken landed on Ranma's head.

"Ranma! How dare you take my sweet Shampoo away from me when we're trying to have breakfast together?!"

Akane sighed, tossing the chicken into the air towards Mousse. As the rubber animal exploded, knocking Mousse off his aerial attack and to Ranma's feet, the two girls stepped over Mousse's unmoving body and pressed in towards her and Ranma.

"You hold because you want?"

"Do you guys always do this in the morning when you think no one is watching?"

"What you and Akane do every morning?"

"Is this why you couldn't come over earlier?"

"O-Of course not!" Ranma quickly insisted, running away like he always did. "I-It's not like I like holding her! I have no choice, alright?!"

Searing from the offense, Akane snapped, "No one asked you to carry me! If I'm so disgusting then put me down, you jerk!"

"Keep that attitude up and maybe I will!" he threatened.

When she struggled to get free, Ranma gripped her tighter against his chest.

"Let me go!"

"Why the hell should I?!"

"It's obvious that I'm just in the way from the busy morning you have planned for yourself!"

"Are you crazy?! You think I want them following me?!"

"You're pathetic, Ranma! Just---just go off and have breakfast with your other fiancées for all I care! I'm fine without you!"

"Damnit, Akane, stop being a jealous idiot!"

"I'm not jealous!!!"

"I can't leave a clumsy moron like you alone, so just stop fighting me and be grateful for once, will ya?!"

"Grateful for what?! Being chased by every psycho in the town?!" she asked, thrusting a finger behind her.

"Ranma! You come and try breakfast!"

"Saotome Ranma! Come back!"

"Ran-chan! I thought we were going to walk to school together today!! Why are you walking with Akane-chan instead?!"

"Ranma! Unhand Shampoo! Nothing gives you the right to hold her like that, you woman abuser!"

"Ranma-sama! I knew you'd come this way to see me before school! I made cookies for you!"

"Ranma!"

"Ran-chan!"

"Ranma-sama!"

"Gee, isn't that great, Ranma? A free breakfast with Shampoo, a free lunch with Ukyo-chan and all the cookies you can eat from Kodachi. You and your stomach must be so happy."

"Happy is not that word," he breathed out in irritation.

As gymnastic ribbons, cooking utensils, Amazon weapons and chains buzzed past them, Akane crossed her arms and watched as Ranma's face contorted in frustration, eyes darting between her swollen ankle and the crowd of people rushing after them. As pathetic as he looked in his attempt to help her and run away, she couldn't feel too much sympathy for him since he brought it upon himself by being so flaky with everyone....

"Everyone just leave me alone!!!" he shouted, loosing any cool he attempted to maintain. "I'm in the middle of something here! So just stay away until I say---!"

A fist collided into his face.

"Ranma!"

"Ryoga-kun!" Akane gasped.

"What the hell was that for?!" Ranma yelled, kicking him away.

"You actually call yourself a man?! How dare you hold onto Akane-san like that when you're in the middle of a battle! Don't you have any respect for her?!"

"I'm not in any battle, you moron! Get out of my way!"

Akane pulled on his shirt. "Wait, Ranma. Let Ryoga-kun take me while you take care of--"

"WHAT?!"

"R-Really, Akane-san?" Ryoga pushed his pointer fingers together, blushing. "Y-You want me to carry you?"

"If it's not a problem…" she began to say.

"How thick-headed can you be?! With his bad sense of direction, you'd never get to Tofu's this year! Outta the way, Ryoga!"

"This is no time to be jealous!" Akane said, ducking a spatula aimed at her.

"That has nothing to do with it!"

"Then quite being an idiot and let him take me!"

"Shut up! I told you that I would take you to the Doc, and I will!"

"I won't allow you to put her in danger like this when---come back here, Ranma!!!"

"Ran-chan!"

"Ranma!"

"Saotome Ranma!"

"Ranma-sama!"

Akane groaned and buried her face in her hands as she was carried all across town in Ranma's arms. It took more than half an hour before Ranma had managed to loose all traces of his rivals and fiancées. By this time, Akane was half asleep in his arms and trying to fan away the growing smell of Ranma's sweat as he limped down the street.

"...You can put me down now," she muttered as she pulled a spatula out of her hair. "I think I've had enough of your help for one day."

"I already told ya. I can't leave a klutz like you on your own."

"You know, just once it'd be nice to get some sympathy from you, you insensitive jerk."

"I should be the one getting sympathy for having to dealing with you all the time. I had to go through all that and you're still as ungrateful as ever."

"How can I be grateful about this?" she demanded, pulling a ribbon off her bruised throat. "You put me in more danger than you get me out of, Ranma!"

"I'm not the one who was throwing things at you! Why the hell are you getting mad at me!?"

"Because you're the reason that they are throwing things, you idiot! Because of you, I'm more injured then before! Honestly! I'd be better off crawling on the ground and getting stepped on then having you 'protect' me!"

Abruptly tossed in the air, Akane barely had time to react before being caught on Ranma's back. She immediately pounded him on the head for the scare but when no insult followed, her anger melted into confusion. She peeked over his shoulder but Ranma didn't look back to catch her eye. Instead, stumbling as he walked and staring straight ahead, Ranma kept his jaw clenched and his mouth shut.

Ranma wasn't hurt by what she said, was he? She scoffed at herself. Yeah, right. It's not like Ranma actually wanted to help her, she just happened to be in his way this morning and his fatheaded ego jumped at the opportunity of getting her out of a pathetic situation to gloat about later.

…..

Right?

Think Akane, she said to herself. When had Ranma ever just helped her because she was in his way. He may be an insensitive jerk with a tasteless sense of humor, she mused. But Ranma always did try his hardest to help her. She hated to admit it, but the idiot even looked slightly heroic right now. Ribbons tied around him, spatulas in his hair, bicycle marks on his face….he had faced all that just for her. Not exactly a storybook knight but….he was very Ranma, she thought with a smile. Stupid pigheaded Ranma who wanted to be the one who "saved" her. Defying common sense to do so…

After shuffling to a stop in front of Tofu's clinic, Ranma tugged her arms off his shoulders and hoisted her up to sit on top of the fence post. Turning to hide his flushed cheeks, Ranma muttered, "I've got training to do this morning. Tofu can deal with you," before starting to retreat.

"Ranma..."

"Now what?"

Ranma glanced over his shoulder. Before he could reply, he was gasping and lunging forward to catch her from falling as she slid off the post.

"Y-You moron! I put you up there for a reason! Why are you so--….W-What are you doing?"

"Thanking you, stupid..."

Pulling back from the hug and clinging to the fence post, Akane looked off to the clinic with a blush. "I do appreciate your help….If I could choose from any idiot in this town to help me, it'd be you….It's not exactly a compliment but…"

"Does this mean you're not mad at me?"

"It means my ankle really hurts and I want to get it treated," she replied, impassively.

As Akane hobbled her way towards the entrance, she chanced a glance at Ranma and saw an almost timid, not quite cocky smile pulling at the corners of his lips. He probably didn't deserve the ego boost, but she'd rather have him grinning like an idiot than sulking like a child.

Almost immediately after their eyes met, he was scooping her up against his chest and carrying her towards the door of the clinic. With a slight limp in his step, and a faint blush on his cheeks, Akane couldn't deny that there was something about Ranma that she really did sort of, kind of….like. Oh, he was an idiot. But, he really wasn't that bad for an idiot. Even kind of charming, in his own fatheaded way.

Akane laughed to herself as her cheeks rose in a blush. The multiple hits to the head from the spatulas must have gotten to her….

"Akane…."

"Hmm?"

"I shouldn't have to say this but…"

"It's alright, Ranma." Smiling shyly, Akane began gently untangling the ribbons from his neck. "You don't have to apologize. I know you didn't mean any of that….and…well, I'm sorry too."

"Wait. Who said anything about apologizing?"

"Then what were you--"

"Have you gained weight?" He pulled a pained expression as his shaking arms attempted to shift her body. "You're a lot heavier than the last time I carried you so you must have, right?"

Yup, Akane thought as she gagged the laughing Ranma with the ribbon. It was definitely the multiple hits to the head that had her liking this insensitive moron.