In the middle of the night, the streets of Nerima were quiet. A dog barked at the moon. The crickets chirped.
A shadowy figure leapt from rooftop to rooftop, pausing to crouch on an eave and peer into a room. An evil smirk crossed the person's darkened features. With one easy leap, the figure leapt in through the open window.
Moments later, a scream shattered the serene night. As lights came on all around the home of the screaming girl, the figure leapt clear of the window, landing lightly on the stone wall surrounding the house and running. A girl threw herself halfway out the window after the person. "Pervert! Sicko!" An alarm clock bounced harmlessly off the wall at the person's feet, but the figure took no notice, fleeing the scene of the crime and cackling all the way.
"The Nighttime Kisser?" Akane asked, eyes wide.
Sayuri nodded furiously, fists clenched under her chin. "Uh-huh! He sneaks into women's rooms in the middle of the night and then he kisses them against their will. Nobody even knows what he looks like! Or even if it's really a guy. But isn't it just horrible?"
Yuka pressed the back of her hand to her forehead. "People say he only comes into rooms with open windows. But with this heat wave, it's too much to keep my window closed just in case he comes."
Akane knitted her brow at this news. "That's just sick," she hissed, clenching a fist and raising it to eye level. "As a girl and a martial artist, I can't let this pass. Yuka! Sayuri! I'm going to catch this kissing pervert!"
"You're so brave!" Sayuri cheered.
"Better you than us!" Yuka agreed.
Two desks over, Ranma was leaning back in his chair and picking his teeth with his chopsticks. "A kissing pervert?" he asked, eyes half-lidded at Hiroshi and Daisuke.
His two friends exchanged glances. "You haven't heard? It's all the girls are talking about," Hiroshi pointed out. "He comes into girls' rooms and kisses them in their sleep, then sneaks off before anyone even sees him."
"Y'sure it aint' upperclassman Kuno?" Ranma asked with a smirk, before laughing at his own joke. "Nah, can't be him – everyone'd know in a second when he started spouting Greek poetry!"
Daisuke leaned in close and cupped his hand around his mouth. "Well, we were kinda wondering if – well – it was you."
Ranma's chair tipped over and he hit the ground with a crash. A second later he was on his feet, pigtail sticking straight up. "What the hell gave you that idea!"
Daisuke sprang back with his fingers folded into warding symbols. "Everyone knows you're a Casanova! And you'd have to be a really great martial artist to sneak around on the roofs like that!"
"I ain't a pervert, and I ain't a Casanova!" Ranma snarled. "Can I help it if girls throw themselves at me! It's not my fau—ERK!"
Ranma collapsed under the desk that had hit him broadside; Akane was panting for breath, still posed in a throwing position. "Who's throwing herself at you!" she demanded.
Quick as a snake Ranma was inches from her face, fingers curved into upturned claws that begged 'why me!' "Did I say your name!"
"That engagement is totally wasted on Ranma," Hiroshi observed from the (hopefully) safe far corner of the classroom.
"Then again," Daisuke pointed out, "who else is tough enough to marry Akane?"
Hiroshi nodded sagely. "True, true!"
Just then the shoji flew open to admit one Kuno Tatewaki, his aura on fire even as tears streamed down his cheeks. "My beautiful Akane! I have heard tell of this horrible Nighttime Kisser!" He barreled through the room, sending desks, chairs, and students flying. "Fear not, beautiful warrior, for though I do not doubt your strength, I, the Blue Thunder of Furikan High, shall absolutely protect y-!"
"WHO ASKED YOU!" Akane screamed. She grabbed Kuno by the gi and hakama and in a perfectly executed Judo throw, she hurled him through the open classroom window.
"I love yooooou~!" Kuno called as he flew into the distance.
Argument forgotten, Ranma stood at the window and shielded his eyes as he followed the upperclassman's trajectory. "Good form. Impressive distance."
"Mm." Akane retrieved her desk and set it upright in its proper place. "Not my best."
"You're gonna catch the Nighttime Kisser?" Ranma asked from the fence.
Akane walked beside him on the ground, her bookbag banging against her knees. "You bet I am! I mean, what kind of sicko goes around stealing kisses? That's heartless!"
"You seem pretty fired up," Ranma observed, looking skyward and bracing his hands and bookbag behind his neck.
"It's the job of a martial artist to protect the weak and helpless," Akane pointed out, lifting her chin. "Besides, if he doesn't know the girls he's kissing, what if he's stealing somebody's first kiss? Can you imagine?"
It took her a moment to realize that Ranma was no longer walking alongside her; she turned and found him standing stock still on the fence, fists clenched at his sides, and his cheeks bright red. "Ranma?"
As it happened, Ranma could imagine all too well what it was like to have a first kiss stolen, and the very memory of it had him trembling with fury and embarrassment. He would never forget the feeling of Mikado Sanzenin's lips on his; not even his revenge was enough to make him feel better.
He shook his head furiously when Akane approached him and hopped off the fence. "Akane," he said, closing his eyes and lowering his chin.
Akane tilted her head in confusion. "What?"
Abruptly Ranma held a microphone in his hands. "PUNT THAT SICKO STRAIGHT TO THE MOON!" he shouted.
At that exact moment, on the other side of the canal the fence bordered, a runaway trawler barreled through the flimsy chainlink and pushed a two-ton boulder into the water below. The effect was that of a raging ocean wave complementing Ranma's declaration of blessing for Akane's mission – right up to the point the water hit him in the back.
Ranma let out a startled girlish scream and grabbed her sagging pants.
Akane watched this improbable event with half-lidded eyes. "Maybe you wanna help me out, Ra-n-ma-cha-n?" she asked, arching an eyebrow.
Ranma scowled. "Like you need help! If that guy shows up you'll just kick him right through the roof. Problem solved." She undid the loose cloth belt at her waist and cinched it tight again.
Akane took a deep breath and let it out through her nose, reminding herself that Ranma had not actually insulted her with that statement no matter how uncomfortably close it was to 'uncute macho chick'. "I want to catch the pervert, remember? Besides, what if I fall asleep waiting for him and he kisses me?"
There was a moment of uncomfortable silence at this declaration: Ranma's eyes had gone wide with realization. "Oh, yeah," she said at length, slapping a fist into her open palm. "You sleep like a rock. He'd totally get ya." Oblivious to how Akane grit her teeth at this, she continued, "But hey! On the bright side, why would he even come after an uncute tomboy like-"
Normally this would have been the point that Ranma was sent skywards or dug into a crater, but the boulder falling into the canal had not just washed up some water.
"Pigtailed goddess!" Kuno loomed up looking like a sodden gi-and-hakama-clad half-drowned oni, towering over the two girls. "Beauteous Akane! You need not fear the Nighttime Kisser! I am here to provide my amorous strength and-"
"Heard it!" Both Ranma and Akane planted the soles of their shoes in Kuno's face; he collapsed to the ground, twitching.
"Think he'll ever get the hint?" Ranma wondered, flipping her pigtail over her shoulder and turning to look at Akane, but Akane had already stomped off in the direction of home. "Akane?" She picked up her soaked bookbag and jogged off after her. "Akane, what-?"
"Leave me alone!" Akane turned up her nose and kept going. "Jerk!"
"What'd I do this time!" Ranma demanded. When Akane ignored her, she stuck out her tongue. "So not cute!"
Behind them, Kuno twitched on the ground and dreamed of a happier future. "You need not fight over me," he slurred woozily. "There is enough to go around ..."
Akane was miffed all through dinner; Ranma wisely stayed well out of her way, glaring at her in between defending his fish from Genma's chopsticks. Soun covered his eyes and wept. "The schools will never be united!"
"Oh, Daddy," Nabiki sighed, eying the two fiances wearily and trying to figure out how she could make a few yen off of this. "They're just being their usual selves."
Later that night while Akane was doing her homework (homework that they technically shared, not that Ranma often bothered with such things), Ranma worked his way through a kata in the dojo. "That stupid Akane … what's she mad about? That crazy kissing pervert won't come after her, and even if he did, she'd just punt him. Nothing to worry about!"
Unfortunately for Ranma, his imagination was fertile. He went pale, then red as he envisioned a dark, evil figure with a forked tongue sneaking into Akane's room, hissing its approval of her open window. Akane had fallen asleep propped up against the bedroom wall, shinai in hand, and the evil kisser leaned over her, closer and closer, about to …
He was vaulted across the dojo to slam facefirst into the wall by a wooden sign reading [AN OPENING!] The offending attacker, a huge panda, landed heavily on the polished floor and assumed a stance.
"Pops!" Ranma growled, unsticking his face from the wall and turning slowly, knuckles cracking. "Why doncha just go DIE!" He rushed the panda.
Ten minutes later said panda was sipping tea on the veranda and Ranma was doing a headstand on a stone lantern in the yard, arms and legs crossed as he contemplated the direction of events. There was no way he was risking Akane getting kissed by some weirdo. The only problem was, how was he gonna keep an eye on her without her knowing? "Oh!" he exclaimed. "Duh!" She'd already asked for his help, on their way back from school! He'd just tell Akane he was deigning to come to her aid and everything would be fine!
He did a handspring off the stone lantern and ran off to take a quick bath.