Sorry for the long absence but good news! I'm back so I'm not gonna bore you with what went during the break. Without much further ado, here's a new chapter! Enjoy!

Winking rapidly to clear her vision, Akane threw her arm back and stretched sinuously like a cat; yawning widely in the process. She placed a palm over her eyes and scowled as she shielded herself from the morning sun.

Akane twisted to the side and fumbled for the alarm clock on her bedside table. It took a few tries before her hand finally captured the elusive object. Cracking one eye open, Akane peered at the hands and jerk upright; hair flopping messily over her face.

*It's 9.30 am already?!* Akane brought the clock closer to have a more precise look at it. *Yep, its 9.30am alright; time to wake up.*

It's a personal rule of hers to be up by nine. Anything later than that would have ticked Akane off for the rest of the day. It was as though she had risen at the wrong side of the bed, literally speaking.

Swinging her legs over the edge of her bed, Akane gave one final yawn as she tucked her feet into her slippers. With considerable effort, Akane lifted herself onto her feet; wobbling slightly but nonetheless standing.

She shuffled aimlessly towards the door, out into the hall and headed for the bathroom. After a good wash and a brushing of teeth, Akane felt significantly more alert then she did. Though she still feels a little grouchy due to extra half an hour's worth of sleep.

As Akane entered the kitchen, she was stunned to see the familiar pigtail swinging from left to right from the back of a scruffy head.

*Why was Ranma up so early? Is this an illusion? Normally he would have slept until noon if he could get away with it.* Just trying to wake the Baka up every day to get him ready for school was a hassle itself. Sometimes Akane had to resort to a good old-fashioned bucket dunking to shock Ranma awake.

"Why are you up so early?"

Turning around to face the tomboy, Ranma gave her a dazzling grin and said "Good morning sleepy head!" while saluting her with a spatula. "What? Is there a rule that I can't wake up whenever I please?"

"No." Akane admitted as she bit her lip. "But's its kinda weird to see you up and functioning at this point of time."

"Well, I think the early turn in last night gave me enough rest already. I don't particularly feel like lazing around. So…"

"What cha doing then?" Akane questioned as the smell of something burning hit her straight in the orifices of her nasal appendage.

"Eh? Frying eggs… Oh crap!" Ranma cursed as the egg that he was frying turned from a bright cheery yellow to a charred blacken crisp. He couldn't believe that just the sight of the tomboy would result in him losing his attention.

A little giggle reached the martial artist's ears. Whipping his head sharply to meet the source, Ranma was disgruntled by the undisguised mirth spread across the tomboy's face. Great, now Akane was probably laughing at his mishap.

"Wha…What's so funny?" Ranma fumed as he scraped the sorry excuse for an egg off the bottom of the saucepan and into the trash. No point salvaging it with the help of condiments. It was too far gone.

"And someone was accusing me of being a terrible cook." Akane teased, causing the Baka's cheeks to turn pink.

Forcing a sigh of resentment through gritted teeth, Ranma made no move to defend himself. That incident had placed his image in jeopardy. And he wasn't one to shy away from responsibility. Let the tomboy had her bout of fun, she wasn't going to have more opportunities in the future.

"Akane, get over here." Ranma barked as he gestured her to approach.


"You said you wanted to learn didn't you? Well consider this your first lesson in the culinary arts."

That certainly caught Akane's attention. With a wide smile spread across her face, she stepped towards the stove and eyed Ranma expectantly. "So what am I supposed to do?"

"Hey don't look at me, do what you normally do. Pretend that I'm not here." Ranma explained. His plan was to guide the tomboy step by step, but not to the extent of spoon-feeding her. He wanted to see if Akane had pick up any skills after all that training with Kasumi. *Surely it hadn't been for naught did it?*

"Okay…" Retrieving an egg from the tray, Akane was about to crack it open when a wooden spatula tapped sharply on her wrist; stopping her in her tracks.

"Huh?!" Turing her head backwards, Akane gazed at Ranma in utter confusion. Did she do something wrong? Why was the Baka interfering? In order to fry an egg, don't you have to crack it open first?

"Akane, have it ever occurred to you that adding the oil is the first step?"

"You mean it is?" The tomboy replied, her eyes widening in bewilderment. Ranma gave her a hard look and realized that she wasn't joking. Akane honestly had no idea which step came first. He couldn't help muttering a curse. *Why can't Kasumi be a little more harsh instead?*

It would have made his task a whole lot easier. With a resigned sigh, Ranma steeled his resolve for the task ahead of him.

"Yes, it is." He emphasized, passing Akane the bottle of oil.

Wordlessly, she grabbed it and returned to the stove; cheeks pinking slightly. Akane was about to tip the bottle when she was halted by a firm grip of her wrist.

"Gently, gently Akane… For frying an egg, all you need is just a bare minimum of grease to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan." His voice, soft and compelling at the edge of her ear caused the girl to stiffen momentarily.

With his hand still wrapped around her wrist, Ranma continued to guide Akane on the appropriate amount of oil to use. Drizzling about a teaspoon onto the saucepan. "That's it."

Throughout this entire one-sided conversation, Akane could only nod her head numbly. She felt slightly unnerved by how velvety smooth Ranma's voice was. Those uttered words slid like liquid silk down the length of her spine; causing Akane to barely supress a shudder.

*Pay attention! Now is not the time to be spacing out!*Akane gave herself a metal shake; snapping out of her stupor. With a sheepish smile tugging at the corner of her lips, Akane reeled her attention back onto track. She may have traded a passive sensei with one that will probably serve as a distraction instead.

"Don't be too hasty; allow the oil to heat up first before cracking the egg. Failing to do so will result in the mixing of the two, causing a complete and utter disaster." Ranma cheerfully explained. The subtle pout of the tomboy's lower lip let him know that she was miffed. Most probably due to her previous mishaps…

*So that's why my eggs always failed to fry properly…* Akane sniffed in realization. *Well, it's never too late to start afresh* With a small sigh, Akane made an attempt to crack open an egg.

Fisting her hand over the entire oval, Akane brought her arm up and was about to swing the egg harshly against the edge of the saucepan when once again she was stopped in her tracks.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Not so hard! Jeez, does everything you do have to be so violent?!" Ranma yelped as he snatched the poor egg from being pulverised. "Relax, to crack open an egg you simply just give it a little tap on the side."

He tapped the egg lightly to prove his point before splitting it open to pour the contents into the saucepan. "Here, you try it." Ranma urged as he handed Akane another from the tray.

Receiving the egg from Ranma, Akane hesitated as she contemplated on the boy's advice. She has always thought that the best way to solve a problem is to tackle it head on with an oomph and an aplomb. Sometimes, it seems that too much enthusiasm may not be the answer.

Taking a deep breath, Akane did as she was instructed. Tapping the egg lightly on its side instead of using her usual strength. Splitting the egg nicely from the minuscule crack.

"I did it! And not a single eggshell to be seen!" Akane squealed as she gave a little dance of joy.

"Yes, yes good job." Ranma remarked dryly as a ghost of a grin flitted across his face. Amused by the tomboy's obvious zeal. "Moving on…" He handed her the spatula.

In an instant, it was gone. Swiped by the overly excited Akane. Levelling the spatula under the egg, she flicked her wrist upwards and frowned as it failed to flip over as a whole.

Ranma snickered as he saw how dumbfounded Akane looked. He will never get over the fact by how expressive the tomboy was. Her face was akin to a canvas for the different emotions a human could possibly conjure.

When Akane was angry, she frowns. Happy, a bright smile that could light up an entire room. Sad, a pitiful quivering of her cherry lips… No constraints, no inhibitions. That's how unrestrained her heart was and he loved every inch of it.

Stepping up, Ranma gently took hold of Akane's wrists with both hands. "Like I said, don't be too hasty. Cooking needs patience, you just can't rush your way through Akane…"

Guiding the hand that held the spatula, Ranma pressed his body closer in an attempt to have a better reach. Ranma quirked his brow as he realised that the wrist that he was latching to was trembling.

With a shrug, he tightened his grip a little and returned back to his task. "It's best to check if the base has been fully bonded together before attempting to flip it over. Unless you wanna have scrambled eggs that is…"

Akane, since the start of Ranma grabbing her wrist and trapping her between his chest and the stove; her mind had been a complete blank. All she could comprehend was the feeling of the Baka's broad chest pressing against her back.

Ranma's presence was overwhelming. With him this close Akane could feel his body heat, cloaking her in warmth.

"Hey, Akane! Pay Attention!"

"Oh… Sorry…" Akane spluttered in apology as she was reeled back onto track.

Shaking his head ruefully, Ranma angled the spatula on the underside of the egg and looked for the sign. "There, you see how the entire white had adhered together? That's when it's A Ok." With that, Ranma gave both their wrists a deft flick; causing the egg to soar gracefully into the air.

In a remarkable display of coordination, they took a step back in sync. Following the path of the airborne morsel before expertly catching it into the safety of the saucepan. Deep throaty chuckles and light-hearted giggling reverted throughout the kitchen.

In their mirth, both Ranma and Akane failed to notice the increasingly loud footsteps approaching the kitchen. It was only when a loud 'thump' brought them to their senses.

Whipping their heads sharply towards the source of the sound, both teens had their eyes wide opened in shock. Standing at the corridor was none other than Kasumi herself.

"Oh my…" The trademark phrase of the gentle house maker slipped from her lips before she covered her mouth demurely with her hand. From another person's point of view, the close proximity between the two normally bickering couple will bound to cause misconceptions.

Especially from the way how Ranma's body enveloped Akane's small frame in an impromptu hug.

For a full five seconds, both parties did nothing but stare at each other. A slight cough from the gentle homemaker broke the tension and caused the teens to jump from each other. Distinct blushes blossoming on both tan and cream cheeks.

"Ka…Kasumi! You're, you're back!" Akane stuttered the obvious as she greeted her elder sister. Tucking a stray lock behind her ear as she tried to stay nonchalant.

"Yes. I'm back. Well it's great to see the two of you getting along instead of the usual squabbling." This caused the pink on Akane's cheeks to darken to a fiery red. Ranma on the other hand, had crossed his arms over his chest with his head facing the other direction. Trying to salvage any amount of dignity left.

"Have you had breakfast already?"

"Oh, not yet. Ranma and I were just frying some eggs." Akane replied as she dragged Kasumi over to the stove.

Kasumi couldn't help but marvel at lack of charred parts or the tell-tale grease of an over indulgence of oil. Using the spatula to flip the egg over for further inspection, Kasumi had no choice but to declare that it was a perfectly fried egg. Earning herself an elated whoop of victory from the tomboy.

The gentle and amused quirk of Ranma's lips did not escape the ever sharp Kasumi. Locking her gaze with the martial artist, the home keeper gave a slow, knowing smile and a wink. Chuckling inwardly as Ranma stiffened and rubbed his hair sheepishly.

Glancing at the clock, Kasumi mused. It wouldn't be half bad to start on an early lunch. Crossing over towards the refrigerator, she peered into its contents and gave a little sigh as she saw that it was mostly empty. *Guess I just have to head down to the market to grab some ingredients.*

Retrieving the basket that she used whenever she did her grocery shopping, Kasumi turned to face the two teens. "Well I'm just going to head to the market do some grocery shopping. In the meantime, why don't you two lovebirds carry on…"

"I'll do it!" Akane hastily interrupted as she grabbed the basket before racing out of the house as fast as her legs could carry her. It's so embarrassing! If she was to stay, Akane was certain that she would burst out screaming while denying everything; creating a ruckus in the process.

Blinking her eyes rapidly as Kasumi recovered from her sister's blur, she turned her attention to the boy still residing in the kitchen. Quirking a brow as though as in implying what was he going to make of the situation.

"Er… I think I better make sure that the tomboy doesn't choose all lousy fare…" Ranma muttered as he bid a speedy retreat.

Kasumi inwardly smiled as she watched the martial artist race after her sister. She didn't know had transpired between her time of absence but she certainly approved of the couple's displays of affection. However slight it maybe…

The poor dears, having amorous fan girls and two childish fathers constantly on the lookout to sabotage any chance of romanticism would bound to make anyone frustrated. All Kasumi could ever do to help to alleviate their suffering in any means possible. Perhaps it's time that she gave father and uncle Saotome a good long talking to…

"Hey! Hey Akane! Wait up!" Ranma hollered after the tomboy.
Quickening his steps, the martial artist gave a short burst of speed; effectively catching up with the girl.

"Why are you following me?" Akane hissed though she slowed down a little, allowing the Baka to fall by her side.

"What? You're just gonna leave me at Kasumi's mercy? Anyway, I just want to make sure you don't mess up. Knowing you, you'll probably end up choosing lousy rotten vegetables and week-old fish." Ranma teased as he smirked downwards, taking advantage in the difference in their height.

"Jerk! I'm not physically blind to be unable to differentiate the tell-tale signs of fraying leaves! Don't look down on me!" Akane snarled as she wacked Ranma with the wicker basket.

"Prove it to me then." The boy countered as he rubbed his arm to bring back the feeling to it.

Narrowing her eyes at the challenge, Akane folded her arms across her chest. Tilting her gaze upwards, she glared at him in confidence. "Bring it on!" With that Akane spun around and stomped off towards the nearest grocer.

Shaking his head ruefully, Ranma chuckled at the tomboy's antics. That blow from he felt from her was almost at Akane's full strength. *Guess that means that she's well on her way to recovery.* Honestly, he was glad that the tomboy will be back to her usual violent self. Although he did lament the fact that he wouldn't be able to baby her any further.

Three hours and a half later, both teens were trudging back with the wicker basket stuffed to the brim with fresh ingredients. The whole shopping trip would have been completed faster if it wasn't for Ranma stopping at every stall to point out useful tips of information.

Akane on the other hand had her head swimming with the amount of facts the boy had thrust at her. She learnt that celery should be light green in colour, firm, compact, and well-shaped. The stalk should have a solid, rigid feel and leaflets should be fresh or only slightly wilted.

One should peer under a fish's gills to check whether it was a rich red. A faded brick was a no-no. The flesh should also be resilient to enough to withstand a press of your fingers.

Produces, seafood and cooking methods; the martial artist elaborated and explained one after another. Never stopping for a moment of rest. Akane could only try her very best to absorb Ranma's advice.

"Hey Ranma?"


"How did you get to be so knowledgeable at grocery shopping?" Akane popped the question as she gazed at him earnestly.

"Hmm… Well you know how useless and a buffoon pops is. Ever since I was young all he cared about was training me. Sometimes with techniques that made no sense at all." Ranma muttered; looking back at her as the tomboy nodded in understanding.

"He never bothered working to earn cash to pay for our daily needs. Food was hard to come by. Can you imagine having to resort to stealing, eating at restaurants and fleeing after you had finished to avoid paying the bill?" The brows of the martial artist scrunched up as he recalled his bitter experiences.

Ranma remained silent for a moment before continuing "In the end I couldn't withstood the shame of doing such honourless acts anymore. He may find it alright to continue but not me. I'll rather starve.'' Memories of scorned looks flashed through his mind.

"So I decided to work and to pay for my own expenses. Overtime, you pick up a few tips of choosing fresh produce here and there. Though I do remember catching my own fish whenever there's a stream or river around…"

As quick as a snap of a finger, Ranma's mood shifted from downcast to cheerful. "That's about it I think… Did that answer your question? Akane?"

Said girl was staring at him with her mouth slightly agape with shock. Akane knew that Ranma had lived a tough life as compared with her own. But she had never comprehended how utterly grievous it must be until Ranma related his past experience. No wonder he had always gorged himself on food like inhaling air. Never knowing when his next meal would come by.

Never again, never again will Akane sneer at Ranma's lack of table manners. As a matter of fact her respect for him had skyrocketed.


Satisfied with her answer, Ranma nodded as he picked up his pace. Normally he wouldn't be so easy in opening up his inner most feelings. But with the tomboy… Let's just say that he didn't really mind.

Trialing a little behind, Akane was still trying to digest what the boy had told her. She desperately wanted to find a way to show that she understand his pain. Looking left to right and finding the street mostly empty, Akane made her choice.

Reaching forward, she clasped her hand around Ranma's free right. This caused the boy's smooth gait to falter slightly. Drawing courage from deep within herself, Akane gave a little squeeze and was pleased to feel it being returned.

Thus, the two made their way back hand in hand. A brief respite from all the insanity present in their lives. A moment of peace and quiet to enjoy one another's company.

Meanwhile on the other side of the alley, a tan, muscular bandanna wearing youth limped wearily. His dusty worn clothes depicted a tedious and arduous journey. Peering wildly around his surroundings, Ryoga yelled in frustration.

Why does this street seem so familiar yet so vague? All he wanted was to rush to the Tendo's to deliver the sweet bun pastries that he bought as a souvenir from Osaka before it reaches its expiry date.

But most of all, what he desired most was to see the face that hunted him most on those lonely nights. The sweet smile that reflected on the surface of the moon as he lay under the stars.

"Wait for me my sweet dear Akane! I'm coming soon!" Ryoga roared in agitation as his imagination geared into overdrive. *Akane in her usual glory was running towards him, leaping joyously into his open arms. "Oh, Ryoga! I've missed you so much!" *

This erupted an eerie snickering from the lost boy as he crushed a lamp post in his zeal... Having calmed down from the high of the fig mentation of his inner most fantasy, Ryoga was just in time to catch a glimpse of his goddess sashaying down the street. Her mere presence alone illuminates the drab path. The only thing marring her perfection is the bane of his existence, his number one adversary.

Ranma Saotome… Ryoga snarled as he spat the name out with distaste. What he wouldn't give to put the egoistic bastard in his place. Peering closely, Ryoga realized that the two were standing awfully close together. Then his eyes widened at the sight before him. *Are… are they…ho…holding…hands…?!*

Flabbergasted, Ryoga wiped his eyes to clarify. But as he was about to make certain, he was drenched and in a split second, stared at hooves instead of hands. Now transformed into a small black piglet, it snorted angrily at the source of his ire. *Darn it! Why does that stupid old lady have to constantly water her plants from morning to night?*

No use trying to scream obscenities when the old bat couldn't understand a word he was saying. So with a sigh, P-chan gripped the strap of his backpack with his teeth. Dragging it behind him as he made his way towards the Tendo's if he managed to find his way there that is…

"We're back! Kasumi!"

"Oh! Did you have a good time?"

"You wouldn't believe how many times I have to prevent the tomboy from poisoning us all with her lousy skills in grocery shopping…" Ranma drawled as he placed the wicker basket on the dining table.

"Hey, I wasn't that bad! Was I?" Akane defended herself hotly at first before faltering slightly.

"Frankly, you were." He bluntly replied. "But don't worry; no doubt with my expertise I'll have you whipped up into shape in no time!" Ranma assured the tomboy with a cocky grin.

"Let's see what have here… Ooh! Nice stalks of celery! Fine potatoes… How bout we make some nice vegetable soup?" Kasumi proposed as she held up the stick of celery that Ranma had haggled with the grocer for a straight fifteen minutes.

"Sure, why not?" He replied, earning himself a quirk of a brow from the home maker. "Er… I mean I will be happy to help out." Ranma looked vaguely embarrassed as he rubbed his neck offhandedly.

"In that case, you can start by chopping and slicing the onions." Kasumi said with her a smile as she handed him a couple. "You too, Akane…"

"Go on…" The homemaker pressed as she gave her little sister a little push. Smiling as the two bickered on who gets to use the better knife.

*Aww… They look so sweet like an old married couple…*

The rest of the day when by in a blink of an eye as Ranma, Akane and Kasumi whipped up a storm in the kitchen. Kasumi learnt of the deal that Akane had struck with the martial artist. Much to the boy's chagrin. But he visibly relaxed when the homemaker promised not to reveal his secret.

At about early evening, the fathers of the teenagers stumbled in in a rowdy disaccord; singing a song slightly out of tune. "Kasumi! We're…Back!" Soun drawled as he hiccupped.

"Father, did you indulge in sake again?" Kasumi gently admonished as she relieved the ruddy faced man of his backpack.

"Ah hah hah… Sorry Kasumi. The training trip was a success so I thought I should celebrate with some good old sake." Soun apologized, having the decency to look embarrassed.

"Welcome back Father, Mr. Saotome. Why don't you take a bath? Dinner's about ready soon."

"Why thank you Kasumi." Genma gushed gratefully. Bless that girl's heart. "Now where is that useless son of mine?" The bespectacled man questioned as he started across the kitchen. Only to be halted by a hand to his shoulder.

Turning his head around, Genma flinched as he saw the eerie smile spread across the young woman's face. He couldn't help feeling a shiver travelling down his spine from the menacing aura emitting from the house keeper.

"Why don't you go and take a nice hot bath first, Mr Saotome."

"But I feel like…"

"Wouldn't a nice long soak in hot water be therapeutic for your muscle aches? Besides it isn't nice to be near food when one is covered in sweat. It's not exactly hygienic is it?" Kasumi insisted adamantly in an angelic tone; although one can practically feel the underlying barb beneath those sweet words.

Genma's early warning system begun to sound relentlessly, which was normally a sign that his kantana welding wife was in the vicinity. However, this time around it was not his estranged spouse that was causing his hair to stand at its end. What's left of it that is…

His instincts are screaming at him to heed the homemaker's advice before it's too late. Swallowing the lump at his throat, Genma gave a reluctant nod and heaved a sigh of relief as the dark aura surrounding Kasumi dispersed without a trace.

"Good… Do take your time." She confirmed, a sweet smile reappearing on her face.

"Right…" Genma sweat dropped. When he didn't make an attempt to move, he got a raised eyebrow which caused him to turn tail and flee.

*That showed him.* Kasumi thought to herself as she made her way back into the kitchen. "It's okay Ranma, you can come out now. The coast is clear."

From the corner of her eye, the top cabinet swung open and out slid a relief looking martial artist. "Thanks Kasumi. I, er… I'm gonna…"

"Just go Ranma, it's okay." Akane huffed as she made a shooing motion towards the martial artist. Seeing that Ranma had yet to move, she gave him a little shove.

"Don't poison us all, tomboy." The boy teased as he left the kitchen swiftly before Akane could retaliate.

"Jerk." She muttered under her breath as she slammed the sliding door shut. It was best that their little bet goes unannounced. Knowing those two nosey elders, they will be in a load of trouble if it went out.

"Let's show them what you got, shall we?" Kasumi proposed as she handed Akane a knife.

"Yes, lets…" A snide smile crept across the tomboy's face as light glinted sharply from the eight inch long kitchen knife held tightly in her hand. With a deft swipe, Akane cleaved the carrot into two.

"So boy, did you keep up with the rest of your training? I trust that you did not neglect improving on your skills while I'm gone. Did you?"

"Heh, don't worry your bald head Oyaji. Of course I keep up with my training." *Though not the kind you had in mind.* "I could kick your ass every time if I wanted." Ranma taunted arrogantly, causing the tick mark located at the elder martial artist's forehead to swell to the size of a plum.

"Why you insolent whelp! Let's see who's the one that's getting their ass kicked!" Genma snarled as he lunged at the cocky brat.

"Oops! Too slow old man. Guess old age is starting to gain on your heels." Ranma admonished cheekily as he leapt nimbly away from his father's grasp.

"Get back here Ranma!"

"Nah ni nah ni nah nah, you cannot catch me!" The said boy blew a wet raspberry in his father's direction before sprinting off at the top of his heels.

Both father and son rushed throughout the house; their footsteps creating a din in their wake. So engrossed were the two martial artists in their game of chase that they failed to catch hold of the sound of the home keeper's melodic voice until she appeared right in front of them.

Ranma eyes widened in shock and he gave a sharp twist to the left. Narrowing missing collision with Kasumi by a hair's breadth. Genma on the other hand wasn't as lucky, he crashed into the saucepan that she held up with a resounding clang of skull meeting metal.

The pudgy full grown man tethered unsteadily on his feet before reeling over in a dead faint. Stars circling around his head.

"I said dinner is ready. Ranma could you be a dear and get your father to come to the dining room? Before the food gets cold." Kasumi informed as she turned and left.

"Okay…" The boy replied as he sweat dropped. "Oi Oyaji. Wake up!" Ranma prodded the still out cold Genma with his toe and received no reply. "It's dinner…"

Before the sentence was even finished, the once comatose oaf was up and off at the speed of light. *Trust that no good lazy bum to be revived with the prospects of food…* Ranma rolled his eyes as he made his way towards the wafting aroma.

Genma's eyes widen to the size of saucers as he took in the delectable spread on the table. Crispy fried tempura, savoury Yakitori served with tangy sauce and his favourite pork cutlet, Tonkatsu. Drool was starting to drip down his chin. Hastily, he wiped it away and snatched up a pair of chopsticks.

"You really outdid yourself Kasumi. I had never tasted such a divine spread!" Soun mumbled in compliment as he shovelled rice and cutlets into his mouth; table manners forgotten. Genma on the other hand who's certainly lacking in the etiquette department was stuffing food into his face significantly faster than usual.

"I'm glad to hear that. After all, Akane was the one that made most of the dishes." Kasumi emphasized as she calmly placed a silver of grilled eel into her mouth.

Twin gushers of rice erupted from the two elder's mouths as they spat in shock.

"Aka…Akane made all of this?" Soun gasped as he eyed the perfectly cooked fish in front of him before staring at his daughter; swallowing the lump in his throat.

"Geez, Dad. I'm soooo glad that you have such great faith in my abilities." Akane drawled as she rolled her eyes at her father's disbelief. A part deep inside of her still feel rather hurt by her father's reaction. Though it was soothed slightly by Soun's praise before he decided to spew.

Taking an experimental bite out of his cutlet, Soun gave it a few good chews before letting it slid down his throat. No vile or unpleasant taste, the meat was perfectly cooked. Well done but not to the extent of being too dry.

Pinching his arm to ensure that he was not suffering from the effects of alcohol, Soun declared himself stone cold sober by the sharp sting of bruised flesh.

"Oh my baby girl has grown up! This is a joyous day for us all!" the man sobbed as tears of joy ran down his face.

"Jeez, Dad. Stop embarrassing me!" Akane giggled as she avoided her father's attempt to give her a hug.

"You'll get your tears all over my shirt!"

Laughter and merry making filled the entire dining room, as the family experienced a miracle in the making. But the ruckus was interrupted when a bolt of black shot into Akane's arms and startled her in mid conversation.

"Pi… Pi Chan!" Akane exclaimed in shock and then in pleasure as she rubbed her cheek against the black piglet. "Where have you been? I've missed you so much!"

Said pig was snorting and squealing in pleasure as his beloved mistress lavished her attentions on his humble self. He even makes sure to shoot a smug smirk at the martial artist sitting nearby.

Snap! The sound of splintering metal rang across the room. Clutched aggressively in Ranma's palm were the remains of a ruined pair of chopsticks. So aggravated by the pipsqueak's actions that he didn't noticed the amount of killing intent he was leaking out; resulting both elders to edge away from the source of danger.

"I'm done." Ranma growled as he slammed his bowl onto the dining table and stalked out in a huff.

*What's wrong with that Baka?* Akane wondered as she watched Ranma stomp out of the room. Looking down at the pig in her arms, the answer hit her like a ton of bricks.

"Stupid pig!" Ranma cursed and swore under his breath as he plopped down onto his favorite spot; the patio that overlooked into the garden.

*It just wasn't fair! How dare he… How dare Ryoga cuddled up to Akane as though he owned her. She's mine dammit! MINE! Property of Ranma Saotome!*

The martial artist sorely regretted not using his favor to bared Akane from ever being in contact with the no good swine. But then again, it will surely result in the said tomboy belting him into the stratosphere.

Sighing, Ranma gritted his teeth in annoyance. To be truthful, it's not because of the taunts the swine cast upon him. In fact, it kills him to say it but he was jealous. Jealous of a pig! There are times which Ranma would give anything to be in Ryoga's place, in Akane's sweet embrace.

He may be her fiancé, but when it comes to physical attention, the lost boy certainly outranked him.

*Well, whatever. Let's see who have the last laugh Ryoga…*

Holding pi-chan in her arms, Akane made her way back to her room. She just couldn't get the image of Ranma's fury out of her mind. The only time where she had seen him that angry was when he fought Prince Kirin to get her back.

Perhaps it wasn't the best thing to do under the circumstances, hugging the black piglet right under Ranma's eyes. True, he didn't forbid her to shun all contact with pi-chan. However Akane could tell that Ranma was hurt by her actions.

Normally, she would have dismissed it with a snort. But after spending quality time with him, Akane felt kinda bad. Nope, guilty was a much better word.

The brunette was so caught in her thoughts that she had not noticed that she had already reached her room, the ever familiar yellow duck hanging on the door. Having made up her mind, Akane knelt down and set pi-chan on the floor.

"Sorry Pi-chan. But you can't sleep in my room anymore. So be a good boy and see you in the morning okay."

Upon hearing those words, Ryoga was struck speechless. But he soon recovered and voiced out his protests in snorts and squeaks. Pulling on his most pitiful puppy dog eyes and nuzzling on Akane's leg in the hopes of changing her mind.

Akane felt her heart soften and almost gave in. However she reined in her emotions and scowled at the piglet.

"Pi-chan! No means No! Besides I already promised Ranma." After admonishing him with a firm scolding, Akane slammed the door shut in his face.

Ryoga felt as though he had been hit by a sledge hammer. Shell shocked and utterly paralyzed he sat there for a full minute before sprinting for the bathroom as fast as his pudgy legs could carry him.

Ranma was taking a short nap when he was rudely awakened by a choking grip on his throat.

"Ranma, you lousy bastard! You told her didn't you? You told Akane!" Ryoga snarled his face barely an inch away from the martial artist while water dripped from his torso.

"What the fuck are you talking about?"

"Don't play dumb with me Saotome! You told Akane didn't you? You told her about my curse!" the livid wanderer edged onwards as he tightened his grip on Ranma's collar.

"You're out of your mind. I didn't spill your stupid secret! What do you take me for? A squealer?" Ranma spat as he crushed Ryoga's wrist forcing the boy to let go.

"Then why doesn't Akane allow me to sleep with her?" Ryoga questioned as he massaged his wrist.

Upon hearing those words, it was as though someone had flicked the light switch inside Ranma's head. *So she did keep her promise.* A slow sly smirk crept across his lips.

"Maybe she got sick of your stench pig-boy. Besides, if Akane knew of the curse did you think that she will have welcomed you with open arms?"

"True. Okay, so you didn't tell her but that didn't explained why Akane would suddenly change her mind." Ryoga mused.

"Oh, she found something else to cuddle." A snort escaped from Ranma's lips. "After all, the chick just can't keep her hands off me…"

"Ranma!" A sharp and angry growl cut the teen in mid- sentence. Both boys turned around to see a fuming Akane stomp her way towards them. A dark and ominous aura circling around her frame.

"Oh, hi Akane. I was just telling Ryoga how…"

"SHUT. UP. If you know what's good for you. I don't want to hear a single word about what happened last night. Is that clear?" Her chocolate brown eyes narrowing as she emphasized each word by jabbing at Ranma's chest.

Instead of answering immediately, the martial artist's eyes veered left and then right before finally focusing on the bluenette. A slight curving of his lips was all the warning that she got before he spoke.


A scream was the gunshot he was waiting for. With a laugh, Ranma sprinted off with a fire breathing Akane at his heels. Ryoga at the other hand had fainted upon hearing the conversation between the two. His jaw unhinged and at eyes starry.

*Some things never change.* Kasumi chuckled as she watched the pair bicker before retiring for the night.

Well, that concludes the end of fever. I hope you enjoyed it and stay tuned to new stories!

Yuria out.