Author's Note: Man, how long has it been since I've posted something? Anyway… I hope my writing has improved a little… but if not, I at least hope this little ficclet evokes a smile or two from you!
By the way... I know this particular fic doesn't fit perfectly into the series... but just go with it and please try to enjoy. :)
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ ain't mine.
Contrary to the Contrary Jewel…
Despite the frigid night air, Ranma's mind was running in circles too quickly for him to sit still on his futon, so instead he took up residence in his favorite location: the Tendos' roof. He closed his eyes and let out a short sigh against the cold.
"I love you, Ranma! Love you lots!"
Why couldn't he get Akane out of his mind? A confession of love (from either gender) had become commonplace for the pigtailed boy since he'd moved in with the Tendo family, but for some reason when Akane said it Ranma felt his mouth run dry and his ears pound. Sure he found out later that an Amazonian spell had manipulated the situation, but before that…
Something had happened earlier at the Cat Café, something dealing with emotions. And Ranma knew the only thing he knew about feelings was that he knew absolutely nothing. Despite his black belt in martial arts, his white belt in social interaction couldn't ever get him out of trouble.
He scratched the tip of his nose and furrowed his brow deeply in thought, repositioning himself against the roof shingles to keep the blood circulating through his feet.
She looked into his eyes, and he saw her irises glistening brightly with adoration. "I love you… more than anyone else in the world!"
And then he distinctly remembered leaning in willingly for a kiss…
Ranma's stomach lurched at the memory. After a week of chasing Shampoo, his sudden switch in focus amazed him. Rigid shock quickly melted into hopefulness, and he suddenly found himself yearning to see that enamored expression on Akane's face again.
She was so… uncute. She was always so volatile and irrational and emotional and… and… Who am I kidding? Ranma mentally kicked himself. It took him all of two seconds to acknowledge that his "uncute" fiancée was not "uncute" at all. She was even pretty sometimes.
But she's still a tomboy.
Nevertheless, Ranma wanted – no, needed – to talk to her, and before he knew it, he was outside her bedroom window, throwing caution to the winds and fiddling with her window latch. His hands were cold, so the process took several minutes, but eventually a loud click signaled his success. Before Ranma even got one toe into the room, though, he heard a loud crash, felt a splitting pain on the top of his head, and wound up face down on his fiancée's carpeted floor.
"Take this!" Akane Tendo motioned to hit the intruder again, but she stopped midswing upon seeing the twitching figure in front of her. "Ranma?"
The pigtailed boy lay there blinking stars from his eyes as his skull threatened to split in half. He sat up and groaned, a large bump forming mid-cranium. "Ugh…" He rubbed his head and sat up, crossing his legs Indian style. "What'd you do that for?" he asked as another weak moan escaped his lips.
Akane stood breathing heavily in her yellow-clad, adrenaline pumping glory. "I thought you were a pervert! Wait a sec," she snapped, reconsidering, "you are a pervert! What do you think you're doing here?" She glowered down at her fiancé and brought the baseball bat in front of her at arm's length.
Akane's blunt objects had threatened Ranma so many times that holding out his arms in defense had become a conditioned response. "It's not what it looks like!" he insisted, withering under her fiery glare and scrambling backwards into a desk leg. He motioned desperately for her to be quiet, lest she wake up the rest of the house and put the two of them in yet another awkward situation.
"Then what the heck are you doing!" Akane hissed at him, picking up on his nonverbal signals. "You practically gave me a heart attack, you jerk!"
"Uh…" Despite being asked that question countless times, Ranma couldn't ever come up with a satisfactory answer. He normally just did things without applying the "think before you act" mentality, so… why did he want to go into Akane's room? He wished he'd actually asked himself that question before adopting the role of a burglar, but he knew he wanted someone to talk to, someone to help him filter through his convoluted thoughts and not only pick out the relevant ones but help him decipher what they meant.
Epiphany dominated Ranma's day. Between the fear of losing Akane and hearing those three little words escape the lips of the only blue-haired girl who could make his stomach flip-flop, it finally dawned on the oblivious boy that there was something, dare he say it, romantic between the two of them. His pitiful inability to handle women just complicated the already tangled situation, and not knowing exactly how to transform his conflicted feelings into words, Ranma settled on saying, "I couldn't sleep."
He saw Akane's brow furrow, but much to his relief, she also relaxed. Her grip on the baseball bat loosened, anyway. "And why is that my problem?"
Ranma tried to suppress a flamboyant blush, but he judged from Akane's similar embarrassed expression that she didn't miss it. "Uh… well… I was… I was just thinking…" he trailed off expectantly, averting his gaze and focusing intently on a dust bunny in a corner of the room.
"'Thinking?'" she repeated incredulously, cocking her head curiously as she peered at him. "About what?"
"Oh, ya know… about what happened earlier..." Ranma rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly, twisting his feet nervously on the carpet.
Akane frowned and crossed her arms, shoulders tensing. She turned her back to him and stuck her button nose up in the air. "I don't care what you do with Shampoo!" she hissed. "And I was not jealous!"
Ranma merely blinked at her through the darkness and deflated. "Y-You mean you don't remember… anything?"
"What're you talking about?" Akane failed to stifle a yawn but nevertheless relented to her curiosity and sat cross-legged on the floor beside her fiancé.
To the pigtailed boy's immense relief, her baseball bat lay forgotten several feet to her left, but he rolled his eyes when he noticed how unnecessarily far away she sat; typical Akane. It took a considerable amount of willpower to refrain from commenting, but Ranma decided it was already difficult enough to discuss such a delicate subject; having a mallet imprint on his face would only lead to unnecessary complications. "Heh." He smirked and scratched his brow dubiously. "Now you know how I always feel."
"Oh? And whaddaya mean by that?" Akane drew her knees protectively to her chest and observed him with interest.
"Well… usually I'm the one who doesn't remember what happened, and then I have to deal with people jumping to conclusions, and getting all ticked off, blah blah blah…" He trailed off with a nonchalant wave of his hand. "Shocking, isn't it?" He couldn't help but smirk at the look of disbelief on his fiancée's adorable features; now she no longer had the right to hit him when he did something without remembering.
"Are you gonna tell me what happened, or aren't you!" Akane spared a dismayed glance at her alarm clock. The illuminated numbers informed her that she would need to be up for school in about three hours… and instead she was awake and listening to her fiancé trip over his tongue.
"Uh… I uh…" Ranma gave the back of his neck a break and busied himself by twiddling his thumbs.
"Ranma!" The blue-haired girl's voice displayed the slightest hint of nervousness, and her hands twitched as if itching to close around his throat as punishment for the building anticipation.
"Oh, c-c'mon, Akane… calm down."
"Don't you tell me to calm down!" she snapped in outrage. "You woke me up for no reason!" She coupled her last sentence by punching the ground where Ranma's foot would have been had he not moved it out of the way in time.
"Would ya stop yelling at me?" The pigtailed boy retaliated once he recovered from his heart attack. "I'm tryna talk to you, and all you're doing is biting my head off!"
"Stop beating around the bush!"
"Okay, okay…" Ranma's award-winning stalling ability had evidently lost its effectiveness, and Akane had successfully backed him into a corner. But how, just how, was he supposed to bring up her confession, let alone the fact that it affected him, without either sounding like a lovesick puppy or a pervert? If he said the wrong thing, he'd never hear the end of it.
It took several minutes for him to regain his composure and build-up the nerve to vocalize intelligible words. "You just, uh… told me you loved me…" He trailed off half-heartedly, tugging absent-mindedly on his pigtail and avoiding eye contact with his fiancée.
Akane blushed furiously as her mind finished processing. "You're lying!" she spat reflexively.
Ranma's embarrassment quickly vanished as the two of them wandered into the familiar territory of an argument. "Why the heck would I be up this late, putting up with you if I was?"
"Well, it wouldn't be the first time you came into my room in the middle of the night, you pervert!"
"What? When have I ever – " But Ranma cut himself off, having remembered an instance only a couple years ago during which he'd ended up on top of her after trying and failing to throw P-Chan out the window. "Uh…" he managed as a recovery. Judging by the awkward silence that had fallen between them, she had probably recalled the same memory.
Akane cleared her throat uncomfortably. "S-So… h-how'd you, uh… react to that?" she prodded in a small voice. "Me saying I… loved you?" It was the blue-haired girl's turn to fidget in embarrassment, and she plucked at a loose seam on her pajamas, twirling the yellow thread between a thumb and forefinger into a little ball. "Why aren't you answering me!" she demanded angrily, for Ranma had taken an unnecessarily long time to respond.
But for some reason, the pigtailed boy couldn't formulate sentences and sat there with his jaw firmly clenched instead. Why, why, why did this always have to happen? Akane would hint at something, something that clearly urged him to prod a little deeper into the fragile beginnings of their relationship, but Ranma had no clue what she wanted him to say. Every time the ball was in his court, the best he could do was blank out and gape like a goldfish.
An interminable minute passed, and Ranma, assuming Akane to be looking bashfully down at the ground as well, thought it safe to spare her a side-glance. His heart skipped a beat when he saw her brown eyes looking intensely at him through the darkness. Her mouth was set, and the pink stain on her face deepened. Her brow was slightly creased, but she wasn't glaring or hurt. She was just looking, almost daring him to make a move.
"I-I…" The pigtailed boy realized he'd been cornered again, and rather than make Akane even angrier, he decided for once in his life to come clean; he did wake her up, after all. "I was…" But how was he supposed to finish that sentence? His internal dictionary seemed to be malfunctioning. Was he surprised? Disbelieving? Worried? "Happy…" He could hear his heartbeat in his ears so loudly that he didn't even hear the words leave his mouth.
"You wha-?" The look of surprise on Akane's face was priceless.
"That's why I'm here. I mean… I think that's why I'm here…" Ranma scooted closer to her as he spoke, as if afraid someone was listening. He lowered his voice to a murmur. "I just… I feel like I really need to say something to you, but I don't know what it is…" There was that circular speech that seemed to plague him wherever he went. "I mean… this is the sort of thing we're supposed to talk about, right?"
Akane looked at him in utter disbelief. "When have we ever had a conversation about something like this?"
She had a fair point. Whenever the conversation crossed into awkward or unfamiliar territory, or when either of them made themselves vulnerable to the other, their first reaction was to get defensive and angry. "But we're engaged, Akane…"
She raised a delicate eyebrow, wondering what on Earth that had to do with anything. "But you know I only said whatever it was because I was wearing the contrary jewel." She tried to wave away the detail as unimportant.
Ranma, on the other hand, didn't seem as willing to let it go. "I get what you're saying…" he muttered, shoulders drooping slightly. "You could've said it to anyone."
Akane didn't miss the melancholy note in his voice. "Look, Ranma… It didn't mean anything! Don't worry about it!" She finished by laughing nervously.
Her demeanor grew sympathetic. "Now you know how I always feel…"
Ranma's head snapped up. "What're you talking about?"
For some inexplicable reason, she began to boil. "You always get to do whatever you want, whenever you want with whoever you want! I'm the one who ends up getting all confused and hurt later!"
Ranma never ceased to be amazed with how quickly Akane could switch from happy-go-lucky, to depressed, to being on the verge of destroying him. "Wait, why're you getting all mad now?" he asked incredulously as he watched blue flames lick her seething form.
Akane finally snapped her baseball bat in half. "Because you spent the last week pining after Shampoo!" All of a sudden she had him by his shirt collar and all but blew fire into his face.
"But what'd I – ?"
"Ranma, you didn't even give me a second thought! You have three girls chasing you all the time, so don't go pretending like you actually care about what I said!"
Although he usually let that kind of a comment slide without retaliation, it interrupted the seriousness of the situation, and Ranma couldn't help but feel offended. "Hey! It's not like I asked for all these girls to chase me around! And who're you to talk? You've never had to put up with Kuno or Ryoga or Shinnosuke or Sanzenin or… or… any of those weirdos like I have! You don't see me hitting people on the head with mallets!"
"It. Doesn't. Matter!" Akane's eyes flashed dangerously.
"Of course it does! We're talking about the exact same thing here!"
"No we aren't, Ranma!"
"Well, what the hell's the difference?"
"You're a guy! You have three beautiful girls declaring their love for you every single day!"
"What's that have to do with anything? You have about fifty guys chasing you around every day!"
Akane rolled her eyes pointedly at him. "It's different when it's a guy being chased around by girls… You just look like a player! And don't try to deny your raging testosterone levels! I don't care who you date, Ranma!"
"What?" Ranma's eyebrow twitched; how dare she put him on the same playing field as Kuno? And how did the conversation suddenly veer so far away from the original subject? Oh, women and their frightening tendency to reach ridiculous conclusions. "Who's dating anyone?"
"Oh, come on! Shampoo's prettier than me, Ukyo cooks a thousand times better, and Kodachi has a 'much hotter bod!' You've said this all yourself!" The blue-haired girl counted off angrily on her fingers.
"Hey! She runs around in a leotard all day! What am I supposed to think?" He didn't mention that he'd stared openly at Akane also on the rare occasions that she'd worn tight spandex.
"You… you pervert!" she responded angrily, releasing his shirtfront.
"Will you quit it? Stop acting so uncute and listen for a sec!"
"'Uncute?' You break into my room in the middle of the night and think you can get away with – "
"I am not overreacting! You stop being a jerk!"
"Akane, you know I'm not serious… looks aren't the most important thing in the world!"
"Prove it! You're the one who's always going on about me being uncute!"
"Okay, fine," he answered with a roll of his eyes. "You're not exactly… completely… uncute."
Akane's glare didn't waver. "Is that all?"
"No, it isn't, actually," Ranma snapped. "But I don't think I even wanna say anything else anymore. Not if you're gonna knock my teeth out."
The blue haired girl frowned. "See? This is why we can't ever talk about stuff like this!" she hissed.
"I was trying to!"
"Ya coulda fooled me!"
Ranma rubbed his brow in exasperation. "Jeez…" he mumbled to himself before making eye contact with his fiancée; she faltered under his stare. "Ukyo, Shampoo, and Kodachi never treat me like an actual person. I'm just an object to them… I only know one person who challenges me and accepts me as I am."
"Ranma… if you're talking about your dad – "
Ranma face-faulted. "No, you dummy! I'm talking about you!"
"Wha – Me?"
"B-but, I don't…" Akane trailed off.
"God, you're so stupid, Akane!"
"How much clearer can I be? You're not sexy, your cooking's terrible, and you are kinda flat… Hold on! Hear me out, will ya?" Ranma held up his hands in front of his face for defense when he saw Akane shaking with anger again.
"You idiot, all you ever do is insult me!"
"I'm not trying to!"
"Yes you are!" She took a half-hearted swing at his face with her palm, but Ranma caught her wrist and forced it back to her side.
"No! I'm just saying that even though you're the biggest psycho in the world, you're the only person who could make me feel as… happy as I felt at Shampoo's restaurant when you told me you l-loved me…" He said the last bit so quietly that Akane almost missed it.
She wasn't sure how to react, and it didn't help that his hand was still on hers. "Oh… c-c'mon, do you even know what you're saying?" She was vaguely reminded of the time her fiancé had put on a magical band-aid by mistake, but she didn't feel inclined to be hurt for the hundredth time.
Ranma, however, nodded resolutely and inched closer. "Akane, I know I always tease you and stuff… but I just… I just don't know how to show you how I… well, you know." He reached out a hand as if to stroke her cheek but refrained at the last second as if afraid touching her would open another Pandora's box full of problems. He clenched his fist and shut his eyes in frustration as words failed him for the thousandth time that night. "I don't even know what I think with people ordering me around all the time… I'm just trying to figure it all out…"
A tentative touch made Ranma's eyes snap open and still his unconsciously shaking fist. He relaxed, allowing Akane to entwine her fingers with his. She sighed, biting her lip apprehensively. "I want to believe you. I always want to believe you… but after all of… all of this, our entire engagement… I know you don't realize this – or maybe you do and just don't care – but being engaged to you hurts…" Brown orbs gazed desperately into the violet depths of Ranma's eyes, pleading for some sign that he was genuine, that he wasn't under the influence of bribery or a Chinese spell.
The pigtailed boy felt a pang of guilt as he looked into her despondent face. "Dummy, of course I – You think I don't know that? How do you think I feel whenever you decide to go out and date Ryoga all the time? I can't tell if you're serious or not."
"Isn't it obvious?" She sighed, knowing full well how vulnerable she was making herself. "It's to make you jealous… I don't think the same thing can be said for you and the millions of girls that follow you around."
"W-Well, I…" the pigtailed boy stammered. "N-No, not really… I don't try to make you jealous, Akane. It just happens. But I sure as hell hate it when you're with another guy…"
"Why?" Akane whispered, eyes shining.
And before he knew what he was doing, Ranma used his other hand to brush a silken strand of hair from his fiancée's cheek, trail his fingers to the base of her neck, and draw her flushing face within several millimeters of his own. He felt Akane's hot breath on his mouth as she let out a startled gasp. To his dismay, she pulled away at the last second, pinker than ever.
"W-What're you doing?" The blue haired girl had placed a hand exactly where her heart was threatening to break her rib cage. Ranma was relieved to hear that she wasn't angry, but she glanced anxiously at every corner in her room, expecting to see Nabiki's camera poking out from behind a pillow somewhere.
"Uh… I-I was just – I mean, I wasn't trying to kiss you… I wouldn't do that! No way – I was – I mean, unless you wanted me to or somethin', not that I'd mind…"
"Ranma…" Akane chewed thoughtfully on her tongue as she carefully contemplated her next words. "I really can't tell if you're trying to tell me you love me or not…"
"WHAT?" Ranma spat defensively, surprised by her forwardness. "Of course I'm n – " but he stopped himself. Was that what he needed to say? It certainly explained his presence in her room during the wee hours of the morning. Who was he kidding? Of course he loved her. It had never been clearer than at that moment.
He gulped and nodded slowly, face flaming.
Because everyone in Japan seemed to get involved in their lives, it became virtually impossible for Ranma and Akane to come to terms with their own feelings, let alone admit them aloud. Genuine moments were so rare between the two of them that they became increasingly difficult to recognize, but as Ranma studied Akane's face, he knew she wanted him too.
"Sh – should I kiss you now?"
Akane broke into a small, coy grin. "I thought you'd never ask." This time when Ranma tentatively drew closer to his fiancée, she helped him along, grasping the front of his silk shirt and closing the distance between their faces until their lips touched.
It was clumsy. It was messy and foreign to both of them, and the kiss only lasted for a total of five seconds before the two teenagers broke apart, both scarlet in the face and slightly out of breath.
"What do you think?" Ranma asked tentatively, withdrawing his hands when he realized they'd been snaking around her back. He missed her softness almost immediately.
"That was…" Akane licked her lips and moved her leg off of Ranma's (when had she ended up on his lap?). "I-I think we should try it again, y-you know, just in case we didn't get it right the first time."
Get it right? Ranma was dumbfounded. How could kissing her ever be wrong? But he happily obliged his fiancée and used a trembling hand to draw her face close. When their lips met, Akane positively melted against him with a pleasant sigh, wrapping her arms smoothly around his neck. She tilted her head and parted her lips slightly, giving Ranma easier access to her mouth, while he snuck an arm around her waist and drew her closer until their torsos were touching. He smirked to himself when he heard a small noise of surprise and pleasure escape his fiancée's mouth. He took the moan as encouragement to continue his ministrations. Removing his lips from hers and breathing rather heavily, Ranma proceeded to kiss her neck, delicately at first and then with more force as Akane leaned into his touches. "Ranma…" she murmured lustily as his tongue traced the shell of her ear. Without realizing he was doing it, the hand he'd placed around her waist trailed down lower and lower…
"Oh, happy day!" The couple broke apart in surprise upon hearing an overjoyed yell coming from the doorway. "We did it, Saotome!" They turned around to see the rest of the household staring at them through Akane's open door and promptly turned identical shades of red.
"DAD?" Akane sputtered, positively mortified. Her hands were still on Ranma's chest, but he appeared to notice this and sprung five feet away from her.
"Pop, what the hell are you doing here?" the pigtailed boy demanded.
The panda held up a wooden sign. You can't hide the truth, he'd written in magic marker.
"Why you…" Ranma's shoulders shook angrily. "What're you guys doing – ?"
"You go, Saotome." The middle Tendo daughter looked positively mirthful in her turquoise pajamas.
Ranma recoiled. "N-N-N-Nabiki?" he stuttered, horrified; he hated to imagine the damage she could cause at school with that sort of blackmail material in her possession. "Don't tell me you – "
"Oh, I'll let you off easy this time. But I think you should take these." She winked and tossed him a small cardboard box.
Ranma flipped it over to read the label and face-faulted.
Recovering from her the initial onslaught of embarrassment, Akane reached curiously for the box in her fiancé's hand. "What's wrong with – ? 'Condoms?'" Her voice suddenly became high-pitched when she read the label. Her face turned redder, if that was even possible.
"Hey," Nabiki rationalized, "he does have a habit of sneaking into your room in the middle of the night. Better safe than sorry if you ask me."
Akane looked pleadingly to her father for help, but all he could do was sob, tears threatening to erode his face. "I'm counting on you, son!" He thumped Ranma heavily on the back once the pigtailed boy had regained his footing, rendering the younger martial artist face down onto the carpet yet again.
"Daaaad!" The blue haired said in dismay, on the verge of dying from embarrassment.
"Oh my…" Kasumi appeared sleepily in the doorway. "What's everyone doing up at this hour?"
"Ranma kissed Akane."
"Shut up, Nabiki!"
"What? You did kiss her."
The eldest daughter clasped her hands together and positively beamed. "Oh, Akane, that's wonderful! Just make sure you two use protection, okay?"
I always had faith in you, boy… A true man among men.
"Cut it out, you old fart!"
Is that any way to talk to your father?
"Mr. Saotome," Kasumi piqued, placing a hand on the panda's furry shoulder, "hadn't we better get back to bed and – "
" – And leave 'em alone? My thoughts exactly." Nabiki emitted an exaggerated yawn. "'Night, you two. Don't shake the sheets too loudly." She turned and walked back to her own room.
"My little girl's all grown up!" Soun wept uncontrollably into his daughter's pajama front. "Make me proud, Akane!"
"Mr. Tendo, what the hell are you talking about?" Ranma's face matched the color of his shirt.
"Akane… don't do anything you're not comfortable with," Kasumi warned gently with a slight frown.
"But I – "
"Just do what your heart tells you. If you love him, you'll know what to do." She kissed her younger sister on the forehead before leaving. The panda finally wrenched his friend away from Akane's pajamas, and the two of them retreated to their respective bedrooms, growls and sobs echoing down the hallway.
When the door finally shut, Ranma and Akane looked at each other again but stayed silent for a good three minutes as they waited for their stomachs to stop flip-flopping.
"Is it just me, or does Kasumi sound like she's speaking from experience?"
Akane scowled. She crawled into her bed and tucked herself in. "Oh, come on. You know she and Dr. Tofu wouldn't do anything like that." She turned on her side and showed Ranma her back as a means of avoiding the reality of the situation.
"But both of our families think that you and I… well…" He saw Akane's shoulders tense under her blanket. "Are you okay?"
Ranma took one step closer to his fiancée's bed when he noticed her getting defensive again. "Would… would you feel better if we just forgot – "
"Of course not," she whispered, turning around and gazing at him with her chocolate eyes. "Let's just calculate it better next time." She smiled through a small yawn.
Next time… Ranma felt himself relax. So there would be a "next time." He took in her appearance and was suddenly overwhelmed by uncharacteristic thoughts involving himself, Akane, and a blanket. "I…" He began, rubbing the back of his neck and glancing out her window. He decided to quit while he was still ahead. "I guess I'd better go," he finished lamely. Thoroughly embarrassed, he hopped up onto Akane's windowsill and pried open the sliding glass. A small tug on the bottom of his shirt surprised him. He turned around to find Akane biting her lip and looking pointedly away from him.
"Ranma…" she whispered timidly.
The pigtailed boy pivoted around. "Don't tell me you want me to stay." He stepped down from the window ledge and couldn't suppress the goofy grin that erupted on his face.
She slapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Of course not!" she snapped. "It's just, uh…" Her fingers twiddled with the hem of her nightshirt.
Ranma grinned, realizing what she was trying to say. He cupped her chin in one hand and forced her eyes to meet his. He kissed her gently and drew her close so that their bodies were pressed flush against one another. One arm slid around her waist and the other buried itself in her short blue hair. It took considerable effort to keep it short and sweet, but Ranma managed. "G'night," he whispered, pulling away.
Akane's eyes fluttered open. "'Night," she breathed back.
With one last smile over his shoulder, Ranma departed through the open window.
Weird… he thought to himself as he took a moment to reflect on the roof; Nerima no longer felt so cold.
Author's Note: Sooo… Not the most creative thing ever written, but hopefully that tickled your fluff gland. ^_^ Please drop a review; I'd really appreciate it!