Author's Note: I suck at thinking of titles... In case people don't catch it, "Don Ranma" is meant to be kind of a spin-off of "Don Juan..." It'll make sense! xD
This ficclet isn't any exception to my personal preference of Ranma ½ fan fiction (cute and fluffy). However, I moved a little bit away from just Ranma/Akane interaction and branched a little bit to make this story actually take place over several days rather than just one moment with the two of them. :3 So… please read it? I hope you enjoy it!
Disclaimer: Shampoo would get a boot to the face if I owned Ranma ½…
When Akane came home from school with a love letter, Ranma didn't give it a second thought. His fiancée had enjoyed taunting him briefly by waving it out of his reach when he tried to read it, but it took all of three minutes for the thrill to subside and for her to shove the heart-shaped paper back into her bag.
Ranma didn't really care. Akane was a girl, and a pretty one at that… violent, sure, but exceptionally pretty. She was entitled to the occasional confession, and guys were at perfect liberty to like her. It wasn't his business, nor was it his job to stop them; she'd already proven herself more than capable of doing so on her own. But when the event of the letter repeated itself daily for the next week and a half, and when Akane seemed to welcome each occurrence with open arms, the pigtailed boy couldn't suppress his overprotective instinct any longer.
What a persistent jerk… Ranma peered at his fiancée through the crack in her open bedroom door. She was sitting at her desk with her back to him, presumably reading her admirer's latest heartfelt profession.
It worried him whenever Akane got secretive and spent large blocks of time alone in her room rather than in the dojo kicking the stuffing out of scarecrows with pigtails, and his stomach twisted when she started sighing romantically at every turn; she was the most aggressive tomboy he ever knew, and yet there she was, practically swooning over a crummy piece of paper.
He'd never understand the things words did to women…
Ranma dug his fingernails angrily into the doorjamb when he heard her let out an uncharacteristic giggle. "Why you…" He gritted his teeth and charged into her room before he could stop himself, slamming through the door so huffily that it bounced back from the wall and almost hit him in the face. "Akane!" he yelled, legs set widely apart on the carpeted floor.
The blue haired girl jumped in her seat and spun around. "Ranma!" she exclaimed, clutching the letter protectively against her chest. "What do you think you're doing?"
Too bad Ranma seldom had an acceptable excuse. "Huh? Oh, I uh…" he said intelligently, bravado long-gone. "I see you got another letter." He looked pointedly at the note in his fiancée's hands.
"Yeah…" she answered slowly, raising her eyebrow. "What's it to ya?"
"I just wanted to – "
Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. "You can't read it."
"And why not?"
"You know why. You'd either laugh at me or just do your best to get in the way."
Ranma tried and failed to look offended despite noting that she had him figured out to a tee. "I just wanted to know what kind of weirdo likes writing letters to barrel-bodied girls."
Akane's fists clenched so tightly that her knuckles turned white, and even her desk seemed to tremble in fear. "Who're you calling barrel-bodied, exactly?"
The pigtailed boy didn't answer. Instead, he seated himself on her goldenrod mattress and, much to her displeasure, made himself right at home. "I'll never get how those guys' minds work," he pondered, lying his head right on her pillow and looking at her with amusement.
It appeared to take all of Akane's self-control for her to refrain from hitting him. "Speaking of 'guys' minds,'" she countered, "what was going through yours when you decided to hang around outside my room?"
Ranma blushed, his standard reaction around Akane. "I wasn't spyin' if that's what you're thinking!"
Akane swiveled around on her chair and met the pigtailed boy's flustered face with a grin. "I get it," she chirped. An overwhelming sense of foreboding overcame Ranma when he saw her eyes light up knowingly.
"You're jealous… aren't you?"
"Oh, please. Don't flatter yourself!"
"Just admit it already!"
"Why'd I be jealous over a flat-chested macho-chick like you? I never wanted to read your stupid letter anyway!" A tense, awkward silence filled the room for a minute or two; Akane looked positively livid. "So… what does it say?" Ranma finally asked.
Akane looked at the letter, then at her fiancé, then at the letter again. She folded it up and calmly put it back in its envelope. "Ranma," she began, wearing the falsely sweet smile that usually told him he'd be eating dirt in a matter of moments. "We may be engaged…" she started shaking with anger, "but stay outta my business!" Her mallet sent him on a first class trip to the moon.
He waited until she was in the bath to strike.
Crawling his way along the ceiling to Akane's room –
"Hey there, Romeo. Whatcha up to?"
The pigtailed boy relinquished his gecko-like grip from the wooden beams with a yelp of surprise and wound up prostrate on the floor. He opened a sapphire eye to see the middle Tendo daughter smiling down at him, a cherry popsicle in her mouth. "Nabiki… you… you…" He pointed at her dumbly and immediately regretted his decision to wrap a dark handkerchief around his head.
"You look like an underwear thief." She leaned down closer to him and winked, a suggestive grin erupting from the corners of her mouth. "Akane's in the bath… in case you wanted to spy on her again."
Ranma sprung to his feet and placed his palms on either side of his beet-red face, protesting madly with his favorite techniques: denial and wild gesticulations. "No! No! No! You've got it all wr – "
"So then what are you – Oooh, I get it…" Nabiki smirked. "You're trying to read her love letters, aren't you?"
"What?" It wasn't the first time Ranma suspected she could read minds.
"Worried she'll give you the old heave ho then, eh?"
"Get serious, will ya!"
"Oh, Ranma, Ranma, Ranma… you're too predictable! But I'll tell you what. Give me seven hundred yen, and these lips are sealed." She made a zipping motion across her mouth then held out an expectant hand under his nose.
Ranma slumped his shoulders and sighed in defeat. "Just put it on my tab."
Nabiki… The middle daughter hummed her way down the hall to her own room, sucking thoughtfully on her ice pop. The martial artist sweat-dropped as he watched her turn a corner; his debt probably outweighed the value of his own life by now… But there were presently more pressing matters at hand.
With a quick glance to either side before entering Akane's room, Ranma creaked the door open. He tiptoed to his fiancée's desk in the dark and rifled through her satchel until he pulled out the offensive envelope. There it was… the magic formula that somehow turned brutish tomboys into… girls. He all but ripped it open with rapacious eagerness.
Dearest Akane, it read in curvy script.
How wildly my heart beats knowing you're so near to me each and every day. How I long to call you my own.
What the heck? Ranma's face contorted in disgust. He almost stopped reading right then and there – the words alone made him nauseous – but he gave his head a little shake and reluctantly forced himself to continue.
What grieves me most is knowing you're promised to another. Even so, my love for you burns with an undying flame.
That's why I must ask you, sweet Akane, to meet with me this Saturday. Even if you can't reciprocate my feelings, I know I'd regret not taking this chance for the rest of my life.
Something about the letter's language sounded suspiciously like Ryoga, but when Ranma tilted the paper and scrutinized the text in the moonlight, he saw that it didn't quite match up. He'd intercepted the lost boy's love letters numerous times over the years, and the mysterious Don Juan's handwriting was a bit too curly to signify a duplicate.
I would be honored if you'd meet me at –
Ranma heard the click of a turning doorknob behind him and froze, sensing death breathing down his neck. He shoved the letter back into his fiancée's bag just as a light turned on above him, illuminating his guilty face and Akane's damp, towel-clad form as she entered her room. "Ranma?"
His eyes travelled openly over her damp body, stopping blatantly on her moist cleavage. It took him several moments to put two and two together, and he immediately yanked the handkerchief off his head as a pitiful means of remedying the situation. "I-It's not what you think!" He held up his hands in defense, backing away from her seething form.
Akane followed his gaze and yanked up her towel for better coverage. "Why you…" Her face flamed. "YOU PERVERT!" She sent him flying into the stratosphere yet again.
"It's not what it looks like…!" His voice trailed away into the star-strewn sky.
Akane: 2, Ranma: 0
Okay…. Ranma pondered, upside down on the roof after he'd returned to Earth's atmosphere. The front and backdoor approaches had failed miserably (he had several bruised ribs to prove it), but he'd only read half of the letter…
"Girl problems, Ranma?"
"What the – ?" The pigtailed boy used his hands to pivot himself around via cranium only to be greeted by a smoke ring to the face that sent him into a violent coughing fit. Once he recovered from his minor attack, Ranma noted Happosai smoking his pipe atop a dark green bundle full of nicked lingerie. "What're you doing here, you old goat?"
The old man gave his stolen goods an affectionate pat. "Just finishing my nightly rounds… from Akane's room!" He threw back his head and guffawed.
Ranma felt a vein pop on his forehead. "Why you…" Despite his upturned position, he dealt a swift kick to Happosai's stolen underwear and sent it flying. The garments floated through the air like lacy butterflies and sprawled themselves all over the Tendos' lawn.
"RANMA! How dare you?" Burning red with rage, Happosai launched a vicious uppercut at the younger martial artist and sent him flying into the koi pond with a sharp splash.
A bustier Ranma emerged spitting out water and pond scum. "You stupid old man!" She wiped mud out of her eyes and furiously red bangs. "What the hell do you think you're – AH!" The maroon blur had attached itself to the front of her shirt and fondled her ample chest through the soaked fabric.
"The least you can do is repay me," Happosai pleaded, nuzzling her bosom.
"Get off me!" Ranma punched wildly and gave the old man a free trip into the sky.
Five minutes later, the two of them resumed their Indian-style seating on the roof, a newly emptied and steaming kettle beside Ranma, who had regained his masculinity. "What're you doing here anyway?" Happosai asked him angrily.
The pigtailed boy crossed his arms indignantly. "Nunna yer damn business!"
"Did Akane kick you out of the bedroom?"
"'The b-bedroom?'" Ranma repeated in disbelief, both recognizing and hating the suggestive implications.
Happosai relit his pipe and breathed in the tobacco fumes. "You know how women are. Leave 'em unsatisfied, and you find yourself out in the cold. What you need to do is get back in there and show her a night of good lovin'!"
"What - ! What did you just – ?"
"You'd better get going. Rock those bedposts a little."
Ranma blushed. "I don't need your stupid advice, you old lech!" He took a swing at the older martial artist, who easily avoided his fist.
"Well… if you won't…" Happosai pulled out a particularly sensual pair of yellow lingerie from his recollected bundle and rubbed it against his cheek. "Do you think Akane'll model this one for me?" He sprung to said girl's bedroom window, giggling lustily, but Ranma grabbed him by the scruff of his neck before he could cause any damage. "Hey!" the struggling thief protested, waving his short arms around indignantly.
Ranma snatched the pair of underwear away angrily and threw Happosai across town. "In your dreams!" After a quick internal battle, the pigtailed boy resigned to his burning curiosity of the love letter's contents and decided to test his breaking and entering skills a second time. "That stupid Akane…" It took only moments for him to force her lock open. Nudging the glass panels aside, he stuck a tentative toe into the room and –
Cue lunatic number two.
Ranma nearly face-planted onto the roof when he felt a pair of aquamarine-clad arms snake around his torso from behind. He'd recognize that cackle anywhere. "K-Kodachi?"
The gymnast rubbed her cheek against his back, sending an unpleasant shiver up his spine and making the hairs on the back of his neck stand at attention. "Indeed, it is I, Ranma sweetums. And we're all alone on this roof beneath the beams of the romantic moon!" She giggled manically, digging her talons into his chest.
Ranma struggled in vain against her vice grip. "Get off me!" Why on Earth did every psycho in Nerima make a habit of rooftop jumping in the middle of the night? In another futile attempt to free himself, he stood up, tripped on a loose shingle, and sent the two of them – underwear and all – toppling forward through Akane's open window with a thundering crash.
"How bold, my love!" If it was even possible, Kodachi's death grip tightened as she blushed against the fabric of his shirt.
Ranma tried making his way to Akane's book bag, but with the Black Rose clinging to his back, his pitiful crawl matched the gait of a turtle. "Almost… there…" The pigtailed boy stretched out a shaking hand toward his goal. He was mere inches away when a searing pain shot through his skull and ran down to his feet. Carpet fibers wedged themselves between his teeth.
"How dare you, you… you shameless pervert! And right in my room, too!"
Hm… since when did Akane have a golf club? "I swear it's not what it looks like!" Ranma tried to bow at his fiancée's feet, but the human koala on his back made it impossible.
"Ranma… you're despicable." Akane's shoulders shook with rage beneath her yellow pajamas.
"Let me explain!" he pleaded, though vaguely realizing that he didn't really have a good excuse.
"Oh, Ranma, dearest." Kodachi nuzzled his back again, making the pigtailed boy's skin crawl. "Don't be shy, tell her the truth about our love!"
Akane emitted a subtle growl. "Will you just get out of here!" She sent the Black Rose flying with a swing of her nine iron, a trail of black rose petals in her wake. Then she rounded furiously on her cowering fiancé. "You have five seconds."
That was five seconds longer than she usually gave him. Unfortunately, Ranma couldn't make good use of his time. "Well, I uh… I – " He saw Akane's eyebrow twitch.
"Listen very closely…" she began, menacingly brandishing the heavy piece of metal. "First you get all jealous over a letter, then you insult me… then you sneak in to spy on me in a towel. And to top it all off, you bring that nut job into my room to… to do who knows what!"
"Oh, come on! Do you really think I'm that sick?" Ranma held up a fist.
"And just what do you think you're doing with my underwear?" Pink in the face, she snatched the lingerie he'd unknowingly just displayed right under her nose.
"It wasn't my fault!"
Akane ignored him. "I don't care what you do with your life or who you do it with… Just leave me out of it! And stop stringing me along by getting all jealous and then going behind my back doing… doing… whatever it is you two were doing!"
"'Doing?'" Ranma echoed in horror. "We weren't 'doing' anything!"
Akane peered at him through narrowed brown eyes. "So you say," she replied disbelievingly, crossing her arms.
"She's the one who – !"
"Save it. As of right now… we're no longer speaking!"
Ranma rolled his eyes. "Jeez, will ya quit being so stu – " But he cut himself off. Despite his fiancée's pitch-black room, the glimmer of her unshed tears didn't escape his notice.
"Just go," she demanded plainly without rearing back to take a swing at him.
A fresh wave of guilt washing over him, he reached tentatively for her hand. "Akane – "
"I said leave!" A well-aimed kick sent him flying, leaving a Ranma-shaped hole in the roof.
At breakfast the next morning, Akane blatantly ignored all of Ranma's attempts to catch her attention. She ploughed over him when he tried to speak to her, she closed the bathroom door on his hand when she finished brushing her teeth, and she "accidentally" spilled her iced tea on him, turning him into a girl and causing him to leave the house late and lunchless.
"That idiot…" Ranma mumbled angrily under his breath as he sprinted to Furinkan on his usual chain link fence beside the canal. He ran through the school gate as the bell stopped ringing.
He spent the first hour outside holding a bucket of water in each hand for being tardy, and when he finally resumed his seat next to Akane, she looked pointedly in the other direction, ignoring every paper ball he threw at her and every prod of his eraser.
The teacher had granted Ranma another hour-long punishment in the hall after he had stood up and yelled angrily at his fiancée. So by the time lunch rolled around, the pigtailed boy was in a positively foul mood, especially after realizing he'd left his food at home. Not inclined to play soccer or get harassed by a bevy of fiancées, he took a seat up in one of the school's more leafy trees, where he planned to brood through the duration of his forty-two minute lunch period.
"He and Kodachi were doing that right in your room?"
"Wow… even for him that's pretty low…"
Ranma wasn't an idiot. He knew perfectly well Akane would complain to Yuka and Sayuri at school. He expected them to walk by and take up lodgings elsewhere, but his frustration compounded when the trio sat cross-legged beneath the branches of his tree and smoothed out their skirts to enjoy lunch together. He groaned. Leaving became extremely tempting, but unfortunately it involved climbing down from the tree, and climbing down from the tree involved being seen by Akane, which would undoubtedly result in another airborne trip over Nerima. She was apoplectic enough already; getting her to listen to him would be as easy as telling Ryoga to read a map. So, ignoring his stomach as it prepared to digest itself, Ranma leaned back against a heavy bow, closed his eyes, and tried to ignore the conversation below him.
"And even after all this… you're still in love with him, Akane?"
"'Still?' I never was!"
"Are you sure?"
"O-Of course I am! And Ranma would never – "
"Why do you sound so flustered then?"
"I do not, Sayuri! Anyway, I have other things to worry about!"
Yuka emitted an excited giggle. "You mean you got another letter? Tell us what it said! Come on!" A shuffling and crinkling of paper told Ranma that the note was exchanging hands.
"'… My love for you burns with an undying flame,'" Sayuri read with an emphatic sigh. "That's so romantic!"
"And it says here he wants to meet you on Saturday? Akane, that's tomorrow! You're going, right?"
"I don't know…" the blue haired girl replied uneasily.
"You're worried about Ranma, aren't you?" Hearing this, the pigtailed boy pricked his ears and opened a cerulean eye.
Uncute… to the max.
"Then go! What've you got to lose? You're gonna hate yourself if you miss a chance to meet this mystery guy!" Ranma rolled his eyes; Yuka was such a hopeless romantic.
"Yeah," Sayuri agreed heartily. "Besides… you're going to the ice cream shop downtown, right? If things get really bad, you can at least get him to buy you any dessert you want!"
Akane didn't answer, apparently weighing her options; Ranma peered down curiously at her irresolute face through the foliage.
"Akane… it's just a date. I mean… Ranma's engaged to about a million different women. There's no need for you to feel guilty about actually going out with someone else…"
"Yeah, and I'm sure whoever this guy is… he's a lot sweeter than your current boyfriend…"
That seemed to convince her. "Okay…"
So… she's going to the ice cream shop? Ranma thought to himself, smirking. And apparently she was going to meet a guy more charming than he? Oh yeah? Not if I can help it! Blue flames of battle aura licking his frame, Ranma stood up abruptly on the branch and saw stars when his head connected sharply with the limb right above him. The impact rendered him off-balance and out of the tree. With a shocked yell, he practically landed right in Akane's lap.
Heavily disoriented, the pigtailed boy lay there on the grass spitting out leaves and shaking twigs out of his hair. He blinked as reality hit him; his elbow had landed right in his fiancée's bento box. "Akane…" he said quietly, looking up into her confounded expression.
"Hey! Were you in that tree this whole time?" Sayuri demanded angrily.
"Uh…" Ranma grinned sheepishly and half-shrugged as the three irate females glared daggers at him.
Akane crossed her arms. "You're pathetic."
"'Pathetic?'" he echoed. "That does it." He sat up abruptly and grasped her by the shoulders, forcing her to look at him. "I needa talk to you!" Recovering from her momentary shock, she maintained a rather convincing death glare.
"Uh…" Yuka interrupted suddenly. "Should we leave…?"
Ranma forgot he and his fiancée weren't alone and nearly jumped out of his skin. "Huh?" His face promptly turned a dark shade of red, causing the two other girls to chortle as if sharing an unvoiced secret.
"We'll see you two later." Sayuri winked suggestively, and she and Yuka both stood up and walked away giggling, leaving the disgruntled couple to themselves.
An awkward silence persisted until – "Get your hands off me."
Ranma immediately released her shoulders and scampered several feet away from her. "D-Don't get the wrong idea."
"Do you have something to say, or not?"
"Then say it!"
Akane glowered at her fiancé, and he scowled right back. The sounds of excited yells from the volleyball team practicing on the other side of the field filled the air, but they did nothing to dissipate the tension.
"You… You can't seriously be considering going out with this creep," the pigtailed boy finally asked in a low voice, sounding less confident than he'd hoped to.
"And what if I am?" Akane challenged, narrowing her eyes dangerously. "It's nunna your business."
Catching her off guard, Ranma finally snatched the letter out of her loosened grasp. "How do you know it's not just Kuno being a moron again?" he asked nonchalantly, opening the envelope.
"Oh, come on," she replied, grabbing the note back despite his protests. "Every letter he sends me ends up being half about you." (Ranma face-faulted). "No, this one… this one's different."
Akane nodded softly, a dreamy look on her face. "I know you wouldn't understand, Ranma, but this guy makes me feel…" She clutched the note over her heart, her eyes downcast. "He makes me feel wanted, okay?"
"Hey! Don't I – " But Ranma faltered. He never knew what to do when the situation got sensitive, so he tried steering the conversation away from the topic of feelings. "What if he turns out to be a real weirdo, and I'm not there to… you know…" He trailed off, rubbing the back of his neck.
"You're not there to what?" she snapped. "Change into a girl and follow me around? You pervert."
Ranma disregarded her statement with difficulty. "You know what I think?" His voice suddenly reverted back to its normal cockiness once the momentary embarrassment subsided.
"No, and I don't particularly care."
"I think you know who it is," he answered, ignoring her blatant coldness. He sidled unnecessarily close to the blue haired girl and poked her on the tip of her nose with a playful finger. A smirk graced his features. "And you're doing this just to bug me."
"Oh, get real," she replied, her voice full of chagrin as she brushed away the offending digit. "You're hardly worth the time. If you're jealous, just admit it."
"I'm not!" he insisted, though the pink tinge on his face revealed otherwise.
"Then leave me alone!" She stood up huffily, an unvoiced indication that the conversation was over. Brushing bits of foliage and spilled rice off her skirt, she rounded on him. "I'm going to meet this guy tomorrow, and if you pull one of your stupid, date-wrecking stunts, so help me, I'll… I'll…!" A clenched fist before her face finished the sentiment.
"But – "
"I'm done talking to you!" She turned on her heel and stomped away angrily, leaving Ranma to clean up the mess.
When Ranma requested a second helping of rice at dinner that night, Akane deposited a single grain into his bowl. It sat there looking sad and alone. "I get it…" The pigtailed boy poked at the pathetic serving with an irritated chopstick. "This is payback for landing in your lunch earlier today."
"Oh dear…" Kasumi put a delicate hand to her cheek as she observed her sister's unsubtle display of resentment. "Did you two get into another fight?"
"Ranma and me?" Akane sipped up the last of her tea without looking at her fiancé. "Not at all." She stood up and excused herself without another word.
The table stayed quiet until everyone heard her bedroom door slam shut on the story above. Without further ado, the entire family turned Ranma into a scapegoat.
"What did you do to my daughter!" Soun Tendo hauled up his future son-in-law by the collar until the pigtailed boy's feet were barely skimming the floor and employed his famous "tear tactic," weeping noisily into the front of Ranma's shirt and quickly drenching it with saline. An indignant panda whacked his son over the head with a sign reading, "stupid boy!"
"Jeez, Daddy, calm down…" Nabiki took a bite out of a cookie as she looked on in boredom. "I'm sure it was just a lovers' tiff… Right, Ranma?"
"And what 'lovers' would those be?"
The shoji screen to the dining room suddenly slid open, and all eyes turned to stare at Ryoga. "Ranma!" the lost boy shouted, paying no heed to the dinner laid out on the table. "I need to have a word with you."
Quite accustomed to random interruptions, the Tendo house residents remained unmoved in front of their respective dinners as Ryoga put his rival in a headlock and dragged him into the backyard. "Watch out for the laundry hanging on the line!" Kasumi called as the door slid shut with a rustle.
Ranma didn't struggle as he was heaved across the lawn. "What brings you out here, P-Chan? Shouldn't you be in Akane's room?" he asked sarcastically, arms folded across his chest as his ankles skimmed the moist grass. The scent of soap and the dampness of Ryoga's hair was evidence that he'd only recently reverted to human form and evaded "bedtime."
"Ah, the sting of rejection," the fanged martial artist sighed, dropping Ranma none too gently on the ground.
"What're you talking about?" The pigtailed boy coughed, rubbing his abused windpipe.
"I know that feeling better than anyone…" Ryoga said sympathetically, craning his neck to gaze wistfully at the star-streaked sky. "I know how it feels to have your heart ripped out…"
Ranma rolled his eyes. "Will you stop being so melodramatic?" His response was a sharp laugh.
"Look at yourself, Ranma… getting so bitter over a letter."
A sudden urge to pummel Ryoga with his own shi shi hokodan boiled up inside the pigtailed boy's chest. "Don't tell me it was you who wrote it!"
But the lost boy just scoffed. "Of course not."
"I shoulda known." Suddenly Ranma felt foolish for getting so worked up. He grinned smugly. "You of all people wouldn't've had the nerve to come here after sending her something that stupid."
"Shut up!" Ryoga flicked a pebble at the pigtailed boy and hit him in the ear. "Anyway… don't say you didn't see it coming. It was only a matter of time before she got fed up with you and your insensitive treatment."
"Jeez, quit kiddin' around." Ranma retaliated with a larger rock, leaving a red imprint on Ryoga's nose. "And what about you, Ryoga? When'd you get so noble all of a sudden?"
"I'm no stranger to rejection, and I handle it with grace," – Ranma scoffed – "But let me ask you something, Saotome." The lost boy pointed an insistent thumb at his face. "Would these eyes lie?"
The Saotome heir almost laughed, but then he realized something. Ryoga spent most of his time in the Tendo household as P-Chan. To Akane, P-Chan was more than just a pig, and as much as he detested the relationship she had with her "pet," it seemed only natural that she'd tell him those kinds of secrets. If Akane was in love… "P-Chan" would know…
Ranma always assumed she would be right by his side, but now the distinction wasn't so obvious. There was something about a lack of identity that made this letter-bearing Romeo more of a threat than Ryoga, Shinnosuke, Sanzenin, and Kuno combined… Ranma could kick another guy in his sleep (and had, too, on multiple occasions). Kicking an idea, fighting words with words, wasn't exactly his area of expertise.
He felt his stomach turn. It made so much sense when he finally thought about it… Of course she'd move on eventually… It wouldn't be difficult to find a guy who called her "cute" instead of "sexless," who encouraged her instead of laughed at her cooking. To say Akane had a handful of admirers was a gross understatement, but Ranma didn't ever think he'd have to get in touch with his romantic side to keep her around.
"So… she really has fallen for this guy then?"
Ryoga observed Ranma's turmoil with a mixture of pity and amusement. He crossed his arms and closed his eyes pompously. "All I'm saying is that you'd better fix your behavior, or it won't be long until she forgets all about you."
The pigtailed boy stared at the ground and didn't respond. He was sorely tempted to prod for further elaboration, but part of him – a large part – feared any further knowledge. He felt a heavy hand rest upon his shoulder.
"Please don't let yourself get too upset…" Ryoga's face appeared in front of him. "You're weird when you're not being a jerk."
"Ryoga…" In spite of their frequent quarreling, Ranma had always felt an inexplicable fondness for the lost boy. There was a certain freedom that came with having a close male companion. Being suddenly thrown into an animal cage full of marriage-obsessed females upon his move to Nerima, Ranma's time among other testosterone-driven boys had been extremely limited, and there were only so many "wiggles" he could release in his interaction with girls; they always seemed to demand a little bit of special attention, and even Akane wouldn't handle a thump on the back very well. The pigtailed boy gave his rival a grateful smile.
"Anyway… I'd better get to bed." With that, Ryoga plunged into the koi pond and came out "bwee-ing" as a little black piglet. He jumped on Ranma's head, making the pigtailed boy eat dirt, and scampered back into the house.
"Why you…" Ranma regained his footing and tore after the pig in a red blur.
It was sunny the next morning, and Ranma found himself walking to Furinkan High alone. Figuring his fiancée still had a bone to pick with him, he didn't question the situation and just strolled casually beside the canal, kicking a pebble down the sidewalk. He suddenly spotted an all-too-recognizable figure clad in a blue uniform several yards ahead of him. "Yo, Akane!" he hollered, waving to get her attention. He quickened his gait. "Wait up! I'll walk with you to – " But he cut himself off and skidded to a halt as a foreign scene unfolded before his eyes.
A tall, masculine figure had appeared out of nowhere beside his fiancée, and the pigtailed boy watched, stunned, as the other guy wrapped a long arm around Akane's waist. His astonishment degenerated into horror when he watched her reciprocate the gesture and lean into his touches.
Ranma sprinted up behind them, not bothering with subtlety. "Hey!" he yelled angrily without thinking. Akane turned first. "Akane, what the heck are you doing?"
Brown eyes blinked back at him. "Do I… know you?" she asked curiously.
"Oh, very funny!" He jabbed his chest with an emphatic thumb. "I'm Ranma, you dummy!"
Her confusion was genuine. "My… what?" Akane suddenly appeared afraid. She looked away from Ranma and into the face of the boy embracing her. "I'm scared…" she whispered, clinging to his school uniform. "I think this guy's a pervert or something!"
The male figure finally turned to face Ranma, and the pigtailed boy recoiled in revolted astonishment. Where a face should have been there was nothing more than a diffuse blob of grey matter, moving and contorting sluggishly inside an invisible sphere. From the depths of this mass, a pair of pinprick eyes opened and began glowing. The glow became a glare that got brighter and brighter until –
Ranma sat bolt upright on his futon, eyes wide open. "What the…?" It took a moment or two for him to gather his bearings and realize that the brightness in his dream had been nothing more than sunlight pouring in through his open window. Kicking his father's panda limbs off his midsection, he stood and tried to calm his overenthusiastic nerves. Some fearless fighter he was; a guy with no face had him sweating in fear. Ranma allowed the sun to shine on his naked torso for a couple minutes while he took several deep, calming breaths.
His stomach emitted a persistent growl. After skipping lunch and most of dinner yesterday, he suddenly wanted nothing more than to drown himself in food. He picked up a whiff of something cooking in the kitchen. It must've been at least noon. Kasumi was probably –
Wait… noon? Saturday at noon?
"Damnit!" Clad only in a pair of old boxers, the pigtailed boy hightailed it downstairs and into the kitchen to find the eldest Tendo daughter preparing stir fry and fish over a hot stove. "Where's Akane?" he panted from the doorway.
Kasumi looked at him over her shoulder. "Akane?" she asked above the smell and sound of sizzling soy sauce. "She left about an hour ago."
"Thanks!" Without another word, Ranma turned around and bolted toward the front door.
"Shouldn't you at least put on some clothes?" Kasumi called after him. She was answered by a peach-colored blur that whizzed by her and up the stairs.
Clothes… clothes… clothes… Ranma rummaged through his half of the closet, throwing martial arts gis and undershirts behind him until the floor was strewn with garments, both washed and unwashed. But what the hell was it with martial artists only having three different outfits?
After his unsuspected wardrobe malfunction, and after finally deciding to just put on a sleeveless blue silk shirt instead of a red one, Ranma dashed back down the stairs.
"Do you want anything to eat?" he vaguely heard Kasumi call earnestly as he tornadoed whole-heartedly out of the house.
I need to make this convincing…
Nothing irked Akane more than when Shampoo tried to have her way with him, so after a quick trip to the florist's shop (knowing full well the blue haired girl would take the bait and jump to that very conclusion), Ranma marched confidently to the ice cream parlor downtown with a bouquet of red roses in his hand. He spotted Akane sitting at a table for two with a bowl of ice cream, enjoying the sunlight. She was clad in a pale pink sundress, modest but revealing enough to show quite a bit of leg and bare shoulder. Did she buy that just to wear for him? Ranma found himself wondering angrily, almost throwing the flowers to the ground in rage. Why I oughta…
Puffing out his chest, he strutted right past her table and didn't get a reaction, so he turned around and passed through her field of vision a second time. Again, no response. Ignore me, will she? Why that – "Oi, Akane! Fancy meeting you here!" he said with mock cheerfulness, striding right up alongside her, waving in greeting. He smirked in satisfaction at her momentary shock, but Akane quickly recovered and turned her head pointedly in the opposite direction, nose in the air.
"I thought I told you not to follow me," she responded icily.
"Who'd follow you?" Up close he noticed she had applied the smallest amount of makeup to her eyes and – was that perfume? For some reason the fact that she'd get dolled up for another guy bothered him to no end. "I've got somewhere else to be."
"My, my, aren't we dressed up." She eyed the bouquet in his arms with distaste. "You got a big date with Shampoo, or something?"
He ran a cocky hand through his hair. "As a matter of fact… I do," he said, lying through his teeth in hopes of making her jealous for a change.
But Akane merely pursed her lips as she dissolved a small spoonful of cherry sorbet in her mouth. "First Kodachi, now Shampoo… you're quite the lady-killer, Ranma," she said sarcastically.
"As if you're one to talk. What's with the makeup, Akane? You look like a clown."
Her face took on a brilliant shade of crimson, but she turned away, suddenly self-conscious. "You and I aren't speaking, remember?" she spat through gritted teeth. "So get lost!"
Ranma, however, pulled out the chair across from his fiancée and sat in it, setting the roses between them and resting his elbows firmly on the circular table. His cocky smile made her want to slap him silly. Right on cue, a balding and rather tactless waiter strolled over. "Are you ready to order, sir?"
"No!" Akane protested indignantly, looking positively desperate. "He's not staying – "
"Ice cream. Chocolate." Ranma answered, not taking his eyes off his fiancée for a second as she gaped disbelievingly at him, ire etched into every crease of her face. "I'm just gonna stay until your friend gets here."
Akane tried to ignore him, but she only maintained her calm façade for a minute or two before she slammed her spoon down into the porcelain bowl with a dreadful clang. "Where do you get off being such a jerk!" she demanded, trying to burn a hole through her fiancé's face with her eyes.
"I'm a jerk because I'm eating ice cream?" he asked with a smirk, planting his chin on an upturned palm. Hm… she looked pretty enticing when she was on the verge of dismembering him.
"You – You…" The blue haired girl clenched her fists, anger apparently impeding her speech.
"So where is this mystery man anyway?" he questioned, enjoying her discomfort immensely. "Could he be that guy over there?" Ranma almost laughed as he pointed behind his other hand to an overweight man in his forties ordering enough ice cream to feed a small family. "Now I totally understand why you dumped me."
"Don't be stupid!"
"And I'll take a wild guess that that's not him either?" A pimply teenager dressed as a wizard meandered past their table, tripping on a cloak that was several sizes too big.
"Of course not…" But the blue haired girl didn't sound so sure.
Ha, any minute now she's gonna realize how wrong she was and beg me to take her back, Ranma thought, feeling pleased with himself.
But Akane did no such thing. She continued her irate stare and leaned across the table. "The guy coming here today is completely unlike you. He's sweet, funny, romantic…" she peeked slyly at him, "handsome."
It took effort for Ranma to ignore the jibe. "'Cept there's one problem. Mister Wonderful ain't here." He watched her flounder for a comeback. "Looks like you're stuck with me."
"He's not here yet."
"You sound unsure."
"I do not!" Akane snapped with a note of finality. "He'll be here soon, and when he is, I don't want you to get in the way!"
"'To get in the way?'" he parroted, looking like he'd just swallowed a lemon. "Just what is going on between you and this… Casanova anyway?"
"Just what is going on between you and Kodachi?" She folded her arms and gave him a look that clearly said, "why, yes, I am playing that game."
"Hey, don't change the subject!"
"You're the one butting into other peoples' business!"
"Excuse me, I don't butt – "
"What else would you call it?" She leaned over and prodded him in the chest with a choleric finger. "You're date-crashing and proud of it!"
Ranma landed a firm fist on the decorative table, causing it to wobble precariously. "Pride's got nothin' to do with it! I have every right to be here!"
"How do you figure?"
"Because you're my fiancée, Akane, not this weirdo's!" Being rejected by women didn't suit Ranma; the incident with Shampoo and the reversal jewel told him how much of a sap he could be when a girl challenged his masculine charm. And for some reason those feelings amplified insanely when the situation involved Akane. After those incidents in the Kolhotz High ice rink, Nekonron, Ryugenzawa… Jusendo… "You should know by now that I'm not just gonna give you up to some random jerk!"
"How dare you?" Hackles raised, the blue haired girl began glowing neon with battle aura. "I'm not an object, you moron!"
"I never said you were!"
"Then stop staking your claim on me like I'm some sort of… of… prize!" she hissed, realizing that people seated at nearby tables were beginning to stare at their unsubtle display.
"You think that's what I'm doing?" Ranma stood up in outrage. Bracing both hands on the table, he leaned forward angrily and towered over his fiancée.
She glared back just as persistently, unnerved by his proximity. "I know that's what you're doing! You have girls glued to your hip every hour of the day! I'm sick of only being worth your time when it's convenient!"
"'Convenient?" For Pete's sake… he'd never understand how women seemed to reach the most illogical conclusions. "Akane, being engaged to you is never 'convenient' with all these idiots chasing us around all the time!"
Akane looked taken aback. "I can't believe you just said that!" Her eyes began shining precariously, and Ranma thought he saw her bottom lip quiver. "If I'm such a burden to you, figure out a way to cancel this dumb engagement!"
"Are you even listening to me?" By this point, their noses mere centimeters apart. "If I wanted to ditch ya, I'd've done it a long time ago! The only reason I'm with you now is because I want to be, stupid! Why else would I put up with your uncuteness on a daily basis?"
Akane's fingernails began digging half moons into her palms. "Says the idiot with three fiancées!"
Did she really not get what he was trying to say? Liking her had absolutely nothing to do with convenience, and he released his frustration in one of the only ways he knew how to without actually throwing a punch: insulting her. "You… dummy!"
"Uncute, uncute, uncute!" Their squabbles always seemed to veer into the completely nonsensical, but if there was ever a chance to evade an explosive argument, Ranma never saw it.
"Fine! If I'm so 'uncute,' just leave me alone to marry this guy!" Her eyes began shining again.
"M-Marry…?" There she went, making ludicrous assumptions again!
"Or maybe you'd like it better if I married Ryoga… or even Kuno! At least they like me! Go marry Shampoo and Ukyo and Kodachi for all I care!"
Ranma could hardly stomach the thought of marrying one of them, let alone all three. "You think I like when they molest me?" he asked in disbelief, hating that Akane's hearing became ridiculously selective when she got mad. "Oh no you don't!" He pulled her arm and forced her back into her seat when she tried to move to another table. "Stop getting so jealous and listen for a sec, will ya?"
"I am not jealous!"
"Which definitely explains why you're getting so mad, right?" Ranma took several deep breaths to calm down. "Look… I see what you're doing here. It's the same junk you always pull. You involve some random guy and try to make me jealous over you!"
She wrenched her arm out of his grasp. "And it's obviously working! Just admit it, Ranma! You're afraid of losing me to someone just… better than you! You're so obsessed with winning that this engagement is just another competition! And now your first priority is taking out the frustration of your inadequacies on me! Why else would you go through all this trouble!"
Even though he couldn't ignore the truth in her statement, being compared to another guy was where he drew the line. "You, idiot! You're my first priority! And it's got nothing to do with our engagement or our dads or fiancées… or… any of that stuff, so don't you dare joke about running off with someone else!" Amazed at his own boldness, Ranma didn't back down. "You know damn well that if any guy should be sitting here with you… it should be me!" Without further ado, he closed the tiny gap between them and planted a rough, uncoordinated kiss right on her lips.
He felt Akane resist furiously at first, but her tense muscles gradually relaxed, and she positively melted against his mouth. The sound of a scraping chair against concrete told Ranma that she'd also resumed standing, and he almost lost his balance when she aggressively wrapped her arms around his neck, kissing him back fervently and releasing her pent up frustration in a hot battle of tongues. He responded by placing his hands on her back, drawing her as close as he could.
It suddenly didn't matter that they were lip locked in front of a bunch of strangers or that the circular table between them forced them to lean in awkwardly toward one another. All Ranma could comprehend was the succulent feel of her mouth sliding against his, the slight cherry tang of the residual sorbet left on her lips, and the delicious sounds she made in the back of her throat as he continued attacking her mouth with his own. A shaking hand twisted itself in his pigtail, and Akane raked her fingernails gently over the sensitive skin of his scalp, sending sharp jolts of pleasure coursing through his body. Ranma returned the favor, tangling one hand firmly in her blue locks and angling their heads –
"Excuse me… sir?"
The couple broke apart with a small popping sound, blinking obliviously at the waiter who'd chosen that exact moment to drop off Ranma's order. He stood there nervously with a melting chocolate ice cream in his hand, and the pigtailed boy vaguely wondered how long he'd been watching.
Then reality hit the embarrassed couple like a ton of bricks; the whispers surrounding them suddenly became audible, and they sprang several feet away from each other. "Get a room!" someone yelled over the din.
Ranma's face resembled an exceptionally ripe cherry tomato. "I… it's not what it looks like!" he insisted, resorting to his most natural defense mechanism: denial.
"Oh, sure!" someone in the crowd shouted sarcastically.
Burning with humiliation, he dropped a few hundred yen on the table and bolted to the park across the street, dragging his protesting fiancée behind him. It took all of his resolve to ignore the stares of innocent bystanders enjoying sundaes on the same patio, but once he got the two of them to a more secluded location, Ranma finally found his voice again. He backed Akane up against a big tree and put both his hands on the trunk on either side of her, making it virtually impossible for her to get away. "What…" he panted, "was that all about?" Confused didn't even begin to describe how he felt. Where had the transition been between arguing and… and… that?
"You started it," she mumbled, avoiding his eyes.
"Well, you finished it!" came his angry, schoolyard retort. He pointed an accusing finger at her and dropped his arms when he realized she wasn't about to run away and leave the argument unsettled.
"So what if I did?" she challenged resolutely, the pink haze on her face deepening in color. She looked unusually vulnerable. "Why'd you do it in the first place?"
That was one of Ranma's many problems and one of the reasons for all the angry people that seemed to hunt him down from every corner of the globe… He never seemed to think before acting. "I… I don't know! I thought it seemed appropriate! You were right there, so I just did it!"
The answer didn't satisfy Akane. "You pig!"
"Oh, come on, don't get mad again!"
"I am not getting mad! Just tell me why you kissed me!"
"I already told ya… I don't know! I just… I just wanted to!"
"What?" His "uncute" fiancée began to boil.
Fortunately for Ranma, he realized where her logic was heading before his foot-in-mouth disease bit him on the butt. "It's not like that! I wouldn't just go and kiss anyone!"
"But you'd kiss me?"
"W-Well, yeah!" he stuttered, flustered beyond belief. "I mean I – "
Ranma never imagined one little word could send him reeling into a spiraling fit of confusion. Why? It was innocent enough, but for some reason the pigtailed boy lost his ability to speak and think at the same time. There he was, "Mr. Eloquent," and she wanted an explanation? Shouldn't she know by now that he was crazy about her? Wasn't that the kind of risk a guy took when he liked a girl, especially one who could physically maim him? But Ranma was tactless and instead he started giving reasons why he wouldn't kiss anyone else. "Ukyo's my friend."
Caught off-guard, Akane responded with a simple, "Huh?"
"Ukyo's my friend," he repeated, sounding more confident. "So I can't kiss her. Kodachi's just… insane, okay? There's no way in hell I'd ever – " Ranma shuddered visibly. "And Shampoo… Shampoo's just not my type."
The blue haired girl raised a wary eyebrow. "Then what is your type?" She crossed her arms.
"I like 'em…" Ranma surveyed the girl before him and noted her slightly flushed face, her short, tousled hair, and her creased, angry brow. She looked breath taking. "Spunky," he finished, turning red. "Tomboyish, if you will."
"What'd you just – ?"Akane looked like she was about to hit him again, but then she visibly relaxed. What was she expecting anyway? "O-Okay…" she answered awkwardly.
"'Okay?'" he echoed dubiously, opening an eye he hadn't realized he'd closed. "You're not gonna yell anymore?"
"No…" she answered slowly. "I don't think so… You're lucky I like perverted jerks."
Amazed at his luck, Ranma rubbed the back of his neck. "So… now what? I mean… I never thought our first kiss would be like that…" He faltered when he saw Akane grin. "What?"
"So you've thought about us kissing?"
Ranma took a step closer to her, all but pinning his fiancée to the tree trunk with his body. "… Maybe…" he answered in a surprisingly husky voice.
"So have I."
He figured that was his cue.
Ranma had to admit… he liked the second kiss a bit more than the frantic one they'd shared several minutes ago.
It was more tentative and shy and seemed to be more along the lines of a textbook first kiss; their noses even bumped into each other awkwardly as they tried to get used to the idea of being in close contact. But when their lips finally melted together, Ranma never felt more natural in his life. He moved his mouth slowly against hers, closing his eyes and allowing the sensations of her lips and soft hands on the nape of his neck to render him breathless.
If that wasn't good enough, as he pulled her closer to him, he could hear every little noise of pleasure she emitted and actually feel her soft body pressed against his own, something he definitely didn't feel when the table had behaved as a barrier. Of its own accord, his hand traveled to Akane's torso, where his fingers made their first tentative, accidental contact with her breast. He retracted his arm instantly, back stiffening as he felt her pause against his mouth, but she shocked the hell out of him when she grabbed his hand and placed it firmly back on her chest. A soft squeeze evoked one of the most delightful sounds he'd ever heard, and goose bumps erupted all over his body when she raked her fingernails lightly over his bare bicep, kissing him more passionately than she had been a few moments prior.
As the pigtailed boy realized he thoroughly enjoyed kissing the girl in his arms, he wondered why they'd never thought to try it before. He could do it forever.
Akane, on the other hand, needed to breathe. She pulled away panting, her eyes half-closed and a lusty flush staining her cheeks.
"Did we just make up?" Ranma asked hesitantly, aware that his own face was on fire; "make out" was probably the more accurate term to use… He quickly removed his hand from her chest.
"I… guess we did," Akane answered calmly, keeping her eyes trained on the hem of her skirt and her hands on his shoulders.
"So… you gonna get back to your date now?" he asked, still slightly bitter.
"You gonna get back to yours?" she countered, snapping her head up and locking her eyes with his.
Ranma contemplated the question and realized it was no contest. He'd rather be wrapped up in Akane's embrace any day of the week. He shook his head slowly, his jaw set and eyes peering intently at her. "I mean, if it's okay with you…"
Her face reflected mild disbelief. "I dunno… You did ruin my date even after I told you not to" – Ranma's shoulders drooped – "But take me out to lunch and we'll call it even." She smiled brightly and, making the pigtailed boy go weak in the knees, accepted the hand he held out to her. "You know, Ranma," she began as the pair made their way through the park, "next time you should just ask me out. It'd save me the trouble of writing all those stupid love letters to myself."
Author's Note: Well… there you go. :D Just in case anyone was wondering, the scene in the ice cream shop was very very loosely inspired by the coffee shop scene in "You've Got Mail." Has anyone else seen that movie? Anyway, hope that was an enjoyable read for you! Review? Please? LoL.