Author's Notes:

I was fascinated by the concept of MZephyr's story, "Waking Up". At first, I thought of maybe rewriting the story, extending it, and possibly making it more dramatic, with Ranma and Akane being partially cured, before having a relapse and having to fight to see through the delusions and not fall back into their old pattern of insults and arguments. After a while, though, I settled for just writing up a few additional scenes that came to me, as a sort of sequel.

If you don't want to have major events of "Waking Up" spoilered, you should read that story before this one. I do jump right into the story without even giving as much time for suspension of disbelief as the original did, but later on I do try to give my own take on addressing some of the "flaws" in the concept. In the end, though, you either buy it or you don't.

I freely admit that quite a few scenes in this fanfic are simply stolen (not word for word, just the concepts) from other sources. The scene with Shampoo, Ranma and Akane joking around in the family room comes from "Genma's Daughter", while the pictures I threw in because I so liked the way they were used in Kirinin's "Akane". The "feeding each other" scene may also have been inspired by Trent O'Donoghue's "Meeting Later", although I'm more blatant about it being a romantic gesture instead of a competition.

I don't think this really adds much to MZephyr's original story. In fact, except for a bit near the end, this is pure WAFF. I am not responsible for any cavities which reading this may cause. :) Also, I wasn't trying to say anything with Shampoo flirting with Nabiki. It was just fun, and fit with Shampoo's playful (and somewhat more intelligent) personality.

"After the Awakening"

by Richard Ryley

based on "Waking Up" by MZephyr

Chapter 1

Ranma darted into his bedroom, almost shivering with excitement, blushing deeply, and with his heart hammering in his chest. He quickly closed the door behind him, then set about pulling off the clothes he had so frantically rushed to put on. He tried vainly to recover some sense of control over himself, but somehow felt that the silly grin plastered across his face would be stuck there forever.

He had just spent the night with the most beautiful girl in existence. He had pledged his love to the one girl he had ever truly wanted, and who had finally revealed that she loved him in return. And oh, how she had revealed that to him... Another shiver ran through his body as a few memories of their night together flashed across his mind.

And then, to be caught by her father the next morning! But while he had cowered in the corner, ashamed and embarrassed, Akane had stood up for him. She told her father, right to his face, that she loved him, and trusted him, and knew that he would never hurt her. That she was the one who had asked him to spend the night with her. Akane, the girl who, up until three days ago, continually insisted that she would never let a pervert like him touch her. The girl that HE had insisted, up until three days ago, was nothing but a flat-chested, violent, short-tempered, uncute tomboy whose cooking was like a toxic waste spill.

Oh, it wasn't that he didn't see that she was attractive. No, she was beautiful, and in the privacy of his own thoughts, he had to admit that to himself. She was the most incredible girl he had ever seen, with that short cropped, blue-black hair that so fit her athletic personality, those huge, chocolate brown eyes that seemed so alive whenever she was angry, and that incredible smile, which still made his heart skip beats in his chest every time he saw it. She could be so sweet, so gentle and so tender... he found out just how tender last night... and yet she was strong and independent and never backed away from any challenge.

Yet, somehow, he had been compelled to call her names, insult her, put her down, and deny that he had fallen madly in love with her. She was his fiancee, and yet he had fought the engagement as if it was worse than a death sentence. And she had fought it as well, saying that he was a freak and a pervert, flying into jealous rages if he so much as looked at another girl, and pounding him with such strength that it sent him flying through the stratosphere as if propelled like a missile.

Now it all seemed all too incredible to be real. And it wasn't, he knew, it was some sort of mass hallucination that they had all been experiencing for the past two years. Three days ago the "spell" had been broken, and slowly they all started to come out of its effects. Suddenly, Ranma had realized that he wasn't a superhuman martial artist with the ability to fire blasts of chi from his hands and leap tall fences in a single bound. And Akane wasn't a brutishly strong boy hater who flew into berserk rages at the drop of a hat, and produced meals that were a biological hazard. Instead, they were just two normal teenagers, or at least, as normal as two seventeen year olds with black belts could be.

The craziest part was his own belief that, for the last two years, he had been under a curse which caused him to turn into a girl. Cold water would change his gender, and hot water would turn him back. It seemed so real at the time, and he could almost swear than he knew what it FELT like to be female, to have the weight of breasts on his chest, and to experience the... um... problems... of a woman. Or so he thought, maybe it was just something that he was only thinking of now, looking back on the things he had experienced. Or her, anyway.

It all seemed like some sort of dream that was, even now, rapidly fading. He still remembered it all vividly, but there was so much of it that didn't make sense, that didn't seem logical. Or even CLOSE to reasonable, in the cold light of day. Were his memories of the last two years even in the right order, and as set and constant as he believed them to be? So much seemed to have happened that he didn't think it could all fit in two years. It was almost like time had sped up, or kept repeating itself.

Having finished taking off his clothes from the night before, Ranma quickly picked out something to wear. It was Sunday, so at least he didn't have to start worrying about getting a school uniform. He hoped he could get away with it for a few more days, at least, but figured he should try and pick some uniforms up during the week. Everyone in Nerima was recovering, and although they were acting fairly normal, it would take a while to get adjusted to the new lives they were all leading. So Principal Kuno (who was acting strangely normal as well) would probably give him enough time.

Ranma was starting to get his breathing under control, but it caught in his throat at a memory of Akane's body. This was going to take some getting used to as well. He knew they had loved each other for a long time. With whatever had effected him gone, his thinking was much clearer. The little signs Akane would give him that she cared about him were much more obvious now. But to go from, as far as he knew, hating each other to not just boyfriend and girlfriend, but... lovers? They would have to get married soon, he didn't think he could hold out much longer. He had never wanted anything so badly. But of course, in the cold light of day he also knew they had to wait and graduate from high school first.

He couldn't fight the blush as he thought about how aggressive Akane had been last night. She had been the one to ask him to stay, had reassured him when he protested, and even managed to produce the... well, condoms. He could say it, maybe not out loud, but in his thoughts anyway. They really had no idea what they were doing, and there were some awkward moments that left them tangled up in each other and giggling madly, but finally they got it right.

That seemed like a dream, too, only it was real. He had denied his feelings for her for so long that now that whatever it was no longer effected him, he just couldn't hold back any more. And he didn't want to hold back. It almost seemed like he should be worried, like Akane was a whole new person now, and he shouldn't know anything about her. But he DID know her, he knew her now better than he had ever known her before. It was like the veil had been lifted, and what he had always sensed was there, just under the surface, turned out to be the real Akane. The one he had known and loved the whole time.

He hoped that she felt the same way.

He stepped out the door to his room to find her waiting there for him. She dropped her eyes shyly, aware that he knew she was waiting for him. But, she timidly took his hand. "Do you want to spar again this morning?" Akane asked him hopefully, still somewhat unsure about whether he was still going to take her training seriously.

Ranma smiled widely at her insecurity. "Of course, Akane, I said I would, didn't I? I need a partner anyway, with Pop not around any more." He kissed her gently. "And I can't think of anyone I'd rather spar with than you."

Her eyes twinkled as she wrapped her arms around him in an enthusiastic hug. They headed downstairs and to the dojo, where they again pushed each other to their limits. It was good that they were so evenly matched, Ranma decided, it kept his skills sharpened, while at the same time helping Akane to build up her confidence. He wondered why it had ever been so important to him that he be so much better than her, and why he had resisted training her for so long. That was just their shared delusion, though, and really, there was not that much more than he could teach Akane that he didn't still need to learn himself.

As with their sparring match the day before, though, Ranma found his mind distracted. It wasn't the memories of their true selves returning, though, it was memories of how beautiful Akane was under that gi. And as she moved, he kept catching little glimpses of her skin, which would send a thrill through his body. Akane was having trouble concentrating as well, he could tell, and he kept catching her giving him appraising glances, with the occasional lustful sigh.

Finally, she left herself open for an attack, and Ranma darted in to grapple with her. Before he knew it, he had wrapped her arms around her, and suddenly didn't want to let go. Turning a little to draw her even closer to him, Ranma leaned down and kissed her soft lips.

Akane gave a moan of pleasure, her eyes closing as she returned the kiss. Their sparring was quickly forgotten, as Akane began to stroke her hands across the muscles of his back. Ranma returned the favor, sliding his hand up between them to caress her shoulders. Then he worked his hand inside of her gi, and cupped the softness that he found hidden there.

"Oh, Ranma," Akane breathed. "I can't stop thinking about... you know. Last night." She cast her eyes up at him, blushing.

"I know. I can't either." Ranma began to kiss her again, still caressing her, causing her to gasp against his lips. Then he gazed at her uncertainly as she looked into his eyes. "Did... um... was it good... for you?"

Akane chuckled, her eyes sparkling. "Oh, Ranma. How cliche'. Of course it was good for me." She kissed him again.

Ranma blushed. "Well... I mean, I know you... you asked me to stay and all. But I kinda figured you were saving it... um, for your wedding night. You know, like you wanted it to be special."

He bit his lip, embarrassed. "Was it... special?"

Akane kissed him, deeply. "It was everything I hoped it would be, Ranma. And I still hope that our first night together... you know, as husband and wife... is pretty special too. But I just didn't want to wait any more. I had waited long enough and... well, all of a sudden, it just didn't matter."

Her expression then turned unsure, and she looked up at him, her own blush deepening. "Um... what about..." She looked down at his chest, stroking his muscles with her hand. "Did I... make it good... um..."

Ranma decided to let her off the hook. "It was wonderful, Akane. You're wonderful. I think it's adorable the way you doubt yourself like that, but don't." He smiled at her. "You're the sexiest thing I've ever seen, and the best martial artist, too. You couldn't be more beautiful to me."

Akane's eyes lit up, and the biggest smile Ranma had ever seen spread over her face. She squealed in delight, wrapping her arms around him and hugging him tightly. Too tightly, almost, she forced the breath out of him. Ranma still laughed, despite himself, and then turned his attention back to kissing and caressing her.

Before he could really start to enjoy it, though, he heard Kasumi clear her throat. He looked up to find her standing in the doorway to the dojo, with a slight smile on her face. Akane gave a yelp of surprise, and let go of Ranma, and Ranma found himself involuntarily stepping away from her as well. Both teenagers blushed deeply, and looked away from each other.

"Um... It's not what it looks like!" Ranma began.

"Oh? Why, it is obvious that you and Akane are practicing your grappling holds," Kasumi said innocently. "What did you think it looks like?"

"Um... um..." Ranma blushed even deeper, looking down at the floor. His throat totally closed up, and he couldn't answer if he had wanted to.

Kasumi burst out laughing. "I am just kidding. Of course I knew what you were doing, and I don't mind at all. I couldn't be happier for the both of you. It's about time."

Her expression then turned to mock anger. "However... you two missed breakfast this morning, and I didn't save any for you. Obviously, you had other things on your minds, but if you're not going to help with the breakfast, then I'm not going to put myself out preparing enough for you. Especially you, Ranma..."

Ranma glanced at Akane, who blushed, but met Kasumi's eyes with confidence. "Actually... Ranma and... I mean, I slept in this morning, and didn't really feel like breakfast. Since Ranma has agreed to spar with me, I just wanted to get started as soon as I could. I figured we could spar until lunch, when we'd both have worked up an appetite."

Kasumi's eyes twinkled. "Oh, and you two didn't get enough of a workout last night?"

This silenced Akane, who looked down at the floor, her face turning as red as a beet. Kasumi just giggled, however. "It's okay, Imoto, I understand. Father is still quite upset, but as I said, I'm happy for you. I'm honestly surprised that you were able to hold out so long."

"It's true that while all this... strangeness was going on, I might have been somewhat concerned about the two of you acting 'properly'." She grinned widely. "But I don't care about that at all any more. In fact, I hope that Tofu and I will soon have some measure of the love that you two feel for each other. I think it's time I stopped trying to act like the proper Japanese woman, and started to do what is best for Kasumi. What makes Kasumi happy."

"I hope so too, Kasumi," Ranma said. He wasn't quite over his embarassment, but managed a sheepish smile. "You two deserve it."

"Well, lunch is almost ready. So unless you are too busy with each other, come on in the house." She smiled over her shoulder as she turned to leave. "You don't have to hurry."

Akane drew Ranma closer to her, hugging him. "We'll be in in just a minute, Oneechan. Thanks."

Kasumi nodded and started to walk out of the dojo, but stopped at the door. "Oh, and Akane, do be sure to adjust your top before you leave. I can see that Ranma left a very large hickey on your breast last night."

With a loud squeal of embarrassment, Akane looked down, and quickly closed her gi. Ranma laughed, which earned him a playful punch on the shoulder. The two returned to their sparring, while Kasumi walked out of the dojo, smiling to herself.

Some minutes later, Ranma and Akane walked together into the family room, where they sat down at the table for lunch. Nabiki and their father Soun were already at the table, Soun involved in his paper, and Nabiki intently studying a magazine. She did favor Ranma and Akane with a mischievous grin. She didn't say anything, but her knowing look made Ranma wonder just how much she had overheard. The wall between their bedrooms WAS awfully thin...

Soun, in the meantime, kept glaring at him. Ranma knew he was upset about they way he discovered them this morning, but chose not to meet his eyes. After a moment, Kasumi brought in their plates, and Ranma and Akane began eating, not talking, but glancing at each other and blushing. This continued for several minutes, with the two teenagers seeking out each other's eyes and staring for a few seconds, before reluctantly returning to their food.

After a while, though, Ranma began to sense something missing. He realized what it was almost immediately, his father was not there stealing food off his plate. In fact, although Ranma was not really eating with the speed he seemed to demonstrate in the past, he was moving pretty fast, and it was almost making him choke. He began to slow the rate at which he shoveled the food into his mouth, and try to enjoy it. Kasumi's cooking, as usual, was very good, and he wondered why he had never slowed down to appreciate it.

He began to slow down even further, though, almost stopping eating altogether. His Pop hadn't been there upstairs when he got up, either, and he kind of missed that they didn't have their usual spar by the pond. Of course, Pop had moved in with his mother, and he had his own life now, with Akane. He had chosen to stay with her, and she had insisted he stay as well, even though their engagement had turned out to be false. Of course, now he had Akane to spar with, but in a way he missed his Old Man.

He leaned a bit closer to Akane, feeling his loneliness easing a bit from having her near. She was leaning towards him as well, almost unconsciously, although she was busy eating her breakfast and not looking at him. Except for the occasional hungry look she would give him, that had nothing to do with her food. Ranma studied her for a moment, a memory flashing across his mind that took his breath away. He blushed deeply and looked back at his food, but still picked at it. Akane stole another glance at him, blushing as well, but a bit of concern showed in her face as she noticed that he wasn't eating.

Something didn't feel right. Soun was still glaring at him, and Nabiki had looked up as well, noticing that he had slowed down eating. It was all for the best, actually, Kasumi had only served him about half of what she used to, which Ranma suspected was her subtle way of saying, "You're not a freeloader any more, you won't eat as much of our food as you used to." He didn't mind that, though. As Akane looked over at him again, her eyes worried, he smiled at her.

It was the fact that everyone was looking at them. At him, and Akane. The whole family knew what they had done, he could tell, and Ranma felt his blush grow deeper. He was here because Akane had insisted on it. They had shared something, something special last night, and... well, they weren't really fighting any more, not like they used to, and yet still, this scene just didn't feel right.

"What's the matter?" Akane asked. "Is something wrong? It's okay, isn't it?"

Kasumi looked worried as well, thinking she had somehow messed up the meal. It was Soun still glaring at him that bothered Ranma the most, though. Suddenly, an image from a TV show he had seen flashed across his brain, and without really thinking about it, he decided to try it.

"No, no, it's delicious." Ranma said. Scooping up a bit of the rice on his chopsticks, he held it up to Akane. "Want to try some?"

Akane's eyes widened in astonishment. It was the reaction of the rest of the family that made Ranma grin inwardly, though. Nabiki's mouth fell open. Soun looked like his eyebrows were going to crawl right off the top of his head. And Kasumi... well, Kasumi just did the usual thing, and muttered, "Oh, my."

As she noticed the look in Ranma's eyes, and realized he was watching the rest of the family at the table, she stole a glance back at her father. Then she curled her lips in a smirk of mischief. "Sure, Ranma," she said, and opened her mouth for him. Ranma placed the bit of food in her mouth, and she closed her lips around the chopsticks.

Akane slowly chewed, then swallowed. "You're right, Ranma. It is good." She turned back to her own meal, but Ranma found himself unable to think for a moment. The sight of her lips had so mesmerised him that he just stared at her. Finally, though, he turned back to his own bowl.

"Would you like to try some of mine?" Akane asked. There was that hint of mischief in her voice, and she cast her eyes over at him, knowingly. With a nod, Ranma opened his mouth, and Akane fed him a morsel with her own chopsticks.

They continued like this for a few minutes, interrupting their own meal to ask the other to "try" a particular vegetable or to comment on how good the sauce was. Eventually, they just stopped pretending altogether and started feeding each other. Soun, by this time, had submerged himself behind his paper, and it looked very much like he was blushing. Kasumi, however, was grinning ear to ear.

Akane's bowl was finished first, as she had less than Ranma. So, they both began to finish off Ranma's remaining rice. Neither bothered to eat themselves, they just both fed the other. Finally, Nabiki grouchily commented, "This is so sweet I think I'm going to get cavities."

Both teenagers burst into giggles as they finished off the meal. Akane leaned up to kiss her fiance' on the cheek. "Thank you, Ranma." She then turned to the other family members at the table. "Now, can I assume there is not going to be any more staring, or questions about Ranma and my personal lives? We do want to get married," Akane took Ranma's hand at this, and he squeezed it, although he still swallowed a little, "but not until after the end of the school year at least."

"You sure you don't want to put it off longer than that?" Nabiki asked with a knowing smirk. "I assume my... little gift to you a couple of months ago came in handy."

Akane blushed hotly, but regarded her sister evenly. "That is none of your business. Although of course Ranma and I are being careful." Ranma swallowed even harder at this, and Soun suddenly found something interesting to catch his attention in the paper. Akane met Ranma's eyes, though, and seemed to be seeking his approval as she asked him. "We do want to get married fairly soon, right, Ranma?"

Ranma managed a smile, hoping it seemed strong and confident. In any case, it wasn't forced. "I can't think of anything better than spending the rest of my life with you, Akane."

That dazzling smile crossed her face again, and Akane gave him another impromptu kiss. "Thank you, Ranma." She turned back to the others. "Does August sound about right?"

The discussion was interrupted by a sound from the engawa. A startled voice, having just seen the kiss between Akane and Ranma, gave out a shocked "Bwee!" Everyone turned to look at the sound, and then the three females all turned as one to look back away. It was Ryoga, and he was stark naked, crouched on all fours just outside the open doors.

Ranma chuckled, standing up to both take off his shirt, and impose himself between the nude boy and the three blushing sisters. "Ryoga! Put some clothes on!"

"Bwee?" Ryoga asked, obviously looking at Ranma as if questioning why he should wear clothes. His expression suddenly turned to abject fear, however, as Akane suddenly gasped.

"Ryoga is P-Chan?" She said, turning the thought over in her mind. Obviously, it wasn't a question, it was obvious from the way Ryoga was acting that he believed himself to be the pig. But now, of course, his curse was revealed to be nothing but a delusion. A delusion that the rest of them no longer shared.

Ranma shoved aside his first thought, of why Ryoga had not been cured when the rest of them had, to deal with the bigger issue. Akane now knew he had lied to her. "I'm sorry, Akane! I wanted to tell you, really I did, but I made a promise to Ryoga! And it sounds really stupid right now, but at the time..."

The rest of the family were staring at Akane as well, and backing away as if to make room for the explosion. Nabiki, although shocked at this revelation, was sharp enough to notice her father did not seem overly surprised. If anything, he seemed to have suddenly realized concerns about the situation that had never occurred to him before, and was starting to glare at Ryoga. Ryoga, for his part, clearly knew the jig was up, and was about to bolt and run.

Ranma, steeling himself for what he knew was probably going to be the beating of his life, stepped closer to Akane to try and plead with her. He was just muttering, "I'm sorry, Akane..." when she surprised everyone by suddenly bursting into hysterical laughter.

Everyone continued to stare as Akane laughed, first bending over to wrap her arms around herself, then falling to the floor, unable to keep her balance. Ranma caught her, but this only made her laugh the harder. She pointed at Ranma, struggling to speak, but could not, and finally looked away, shaking her head. Her peals of laughter continued for several minutes more, until she finally found her voice.

"He... that's why you were always fighting with him! And when I must of carried him around..." She doubled over in uproarious laughter again. "Remember that first night, when I grabbed your breast? And you were in the furoba with him, in girl form!" She slapped her knee. "Oh, Kami, what that must have looked like! A guy thinking he's a girl, with another guy squealing like a pig!"

Despite himself, Ranma found a smile creeping onto his face. Akane met his eyes, with a look of love and bemused affection. "And that's why you fell into my bed. You were trying to get him out of there..."

Ranma shrugged, apologetically. "You're... not mad?"

"Oh, I'm mad, but..." She sighed, her momentary hysterics passing. "It's like I said. We all did a lot of things we'd like to forget." She glanced at Ryoga and frowned. "I don't think I want to think too deeply about what the reality must have been like, when..." she swallowed. "... When I thought I was sleeping with a pig."

Both Nabiki and Kasumi turned green at this comment. Kasumi, in fact, got a murderous look on her face for a moment. She finally seemed to decide Akane was right, though, and made a visible effort to calm down. Ryoga had been gaping at her in astonishment, and had forgotten to run, but now was eyeing the yard outside.

Ranma stepped forward to try and catch him, and Ryoga's expression suddenly turned angry. He made as if to lunge at him, but then backed away and turned to run out of the house. Before he could make his escape, though, Akane called out to him.

"Ryoga! Don't go, we need to talk to you." Her voice was not harsh, but firm enough that Ryoga could tell she meant business. He turned and looked at her. "I know you probably think I'm mad at you, too, and I haven't quite decided exactly what I'm going to do about what you've done, but..."

She paused a moment. "For now, I forgive you. Just... come on in, and let Ranma change you back and put some clothes on you." Blushing, she turned away from the naked boy. Ryoga wasn't sure why she kept doing that, or why none of the other girls would look at him, but he figured it was the revelation of his true identity. He couldn't think of any other reason they would be embarrassed at seeing a naked pig.

Ryoga growled, as if to say, "This is all Ranma's fault!" Ranma, however, eyed him with sympathy, not anger. "She's right, Ryoga. We've got something to tell you."

Still looking away from him, Akane agreed. "Go with him, Ryoga. I know how things must seem to you right now, but I swear, it's not what you think. There's a lot you don't understand..."

Ryoga looked back and forth between Ranma and Akane. He could see the difference in the way they were acting towards each other. That she had forgiven him so quickly was a sure sign that their relationship had changed. "Bwee?" He asked, eyeing Ranma accusingly.

Ranma glanced at Akane and then nodded. "Yes, Ryoga. We're getting along now. We've... we've decided to accept the engagement." That wasn't the whole story, but close enough.

The lost boy's face fell. He thought for a moment, looked between then two of them again, then gave a deep sigh. It wasn't like he hadn't given up on Akane long ago, when he decided to pursue Akari instead.

"It'll be okay," Ranma said, his voice still sympathetic. "You'll see. It's not nearly as bad as you think. In fact..." He glanced at Akane for a moment. "The way you think everything is so bad is probably part of how it's effected you."

"Yeah," Akane agreed. "Probably his getting lost, too. Or I hope so."

Ryoga looked up at them, suddenly interested. They had learned something about his always getting lost? Maybe this would be good news after all.

Ranma managed a grin. "Come on, P-Chan. You need a hot bath. Then we can talk."