Disclaimer: The characters of Ranma 1/2 are owned by Rumiko Takahashi, but this story belongs to me.

A Duck Into A Swan

Part 3: Ranma and Akane

Mousse bowed to Akane and kissed her hand. His lips barely touched her skin when he was struck so powerfully that he was airborne, Ranma's curses still ringing in his ears.



30 Minutes Ago:

"You listen to me, Ranma Saotome! Mousse and I have one more dance to perform tonight, and if you so much as mess up one hair on his head I will make your life miserable!"

"Akane..." both said in unison.

Ranma breathed a sigh of relief when it was Mousse she turned on with fire in her eyes. "If you want to fight Ranma AFTER the dance, that is your right. But we worked too hard on this for one of your idiotic battles to wreck it. So get back in there and get a smile back on your face. And put your dancing clothes back on!"

Akane turned her attention to a very angry Ranma. It bothered him more than he'd like to admit that Akane was comfortable enough with Mousse to yell at him like that. It bothered him even more that Mousse simply sighed and did as she told him to do without question.

"I don't know what your problem is," she said coldly, "But we can discuss it AFTER class. If you think you can sit quietly and not cause a scene, then I'm sure the teacher will have no problem if you want to watch. After all... other people brought family members to watch the final performances."

That startled Ranma out of his rage. "But not you?"

"No," she said as she turned and walked back through the door. "Not me."

"Why not?"

Akane glared at him before opening the door. "And what if I had? You would have just made fun of me. This was supposed to be private."

The hairs on the back of his neck stood up when she said 'private'.

He watched her skirt swish as she walked away from him, not turning back once. Why hadn't she invited anyone if it was that big of a deal? Ranma followed Akane up the stairs, noticing that her shoulders relaxed some as he stomped up the stairs behind her. Hands in pockets, he slips in the door behind her and finds a place in the very back row of the bleachers that had been set up. Everyone, except him, clapped politely as a different couple finished their dance.



Akane wasn't in no couple with no stupid Mousse. That was just... stupid! And since when had Mousse had eyes for anyone other than that amazon freakshow? When had AKANE had eyes for ANYONE?

It took all of his willpower to not stomp down to where Akane was nervously twisting her fingers and whispering to the blind duck. Blind... wait... where was his glasses? Ranma sat up straighter. No way! Mousse got contacts... for Akane? He didn't even take half this much care in how he looked for Shampoo!


Right there!

He just SMILED at AKANE!

Smiled at HIS fiancée!

He shouldn't have come. He should have stayed at home doing the laundry or the dishes or whatever torture the Tendo sisters threw his way. He couldn't stand to see this. It... hurt.

"Akane and Mousse. Take your positions, please."

Mouse held his hand out to Akane... and she placed her small hand in his. She was so tiny, especially compared to that gawky giant grabbing at her with his sweaty grubby hand. Having her so close to Mousse was wrenching his heart... probably because the man had been their enemy. And this might all be a plot by Shampoo to somehow hurt Akane.

That was it!

A spell!

Shampoo must have put a spell on both of them! That's why they were acting so crazy!

Akane gave a small graceful curtsy as Mousse bowed to her. He could swear that he saw a blush on Akane's cheeks as her partner opened his arms for her to step into. Would a spell make her blush like that? Maybe. Probably... Yes. Yes it would. Akane wouldn't blush for Mousse unless she was under some sort of spell.

She put one hand on his shoulder and rested the other on his arm. Luckily it wasn't the embrace that Ranma didn't realize he feared until he sagged with relief. The stood a respectable distance, though he wasn't crazy at the sight of Mousse's hand so close to Akane.

Then she turned her head slightly and looked into the audience... and smiled.

At him.



Akane's heart thundered in her chest as they waited for the music to begin. Mousse gave her shaking fingers an encouraging squeeze.

Ranma was there. Watching her.

Would she ever live it down if she fell on her face and made a fool of herself? Would she ever be able to face him even if she danced her best? She felt silly all dressed up in front of him. Like she was pretending to be someone she was not. She spent so much time trying to prove to him that she was tough... now she was going to have to dance like a lady. Luckily the waltz had already been done. And she couldn't bear the thought of dancing the samba or the rumba in front of him. The quickstep was bad enough.

The first notes of the song began, and she couldn't help herself... she looked at Ranma. He was watching. Oh please don't let me mess up, she prayed. Then she smiled at him before she took her first step. Her smile turned into a grin as she imagined doing the paso doble. That was one dance she could imagine Ranma would enjoy.

The tempo of the music was quick and upbeat.

Quarter turn.


Quick. Quick.


Slow... quickquick slow...

Slow... quickquick slow...

Quarter turn.

Smile at the audience.

Turn, running steps, spin and step spin and step.

In perfect synch their feet went through a series of intricate steps before they once again took off across the ballroom in fast steps that were half skip and half run. At the end of the run is when their difference in height made for a spectacular show as she leapt high, turned, and landed in a pose they held for only a moment before once again they were spinning across the ballroom floor. The room burst in applause.

It was exhilarating!

Dance and spin, faster as the music flowed, posing dramatically at the pauses. Leaping steps as she practically flew!

The music stopped just as Akane was dipped so low her hair brushed the floor. A giggle burst out of her as Mousse helped her back to her feet. Her heart was beating louder than the applause. It felt like she had just run miles! But running had never been THIS much fun!

She curtsied and Mousse bowed, then they listened as the teacher praised their dance, and critiqued it. There were a few times the movements could have been sharper Akane, try not to lift Akane during the jumps unnecessarily, smile more Mousse... but over all there had been no major faults found with the dance. Mousse grabbed her hand and they walked back to their seats to wait for the teacher to dismiss the class.

When Akane looked back... Ranma was gone.



At this moment:

Mousse bowed to Akane and kissed her hand. His lips barely touched her skin when he was struck so powerfully that he was airborne, Ranma's curses still ringing in his ears.

"Ranma!" Akane (and Mousse) had been taken by surprise. She had thought that he had gone home, or out for noodles or something. She would have worried about him, but her dancing partner seemed quite used to flying through the air. Still, it was incredibly rude.

Ranma looked down at his fist. His hand was shaking. How DARE Mousse put his lips on Akane! Anywhere on Akane! HOW DARE HE!

"Why?" he asked as he watched the sky in the direction Mousse had disappeared, his voice trembling.

"Why what? The dance classes?"

"The classes. The secrets. Mousse. Why Mousse, Akane?" Why not me?

For a moment Akane was speechless. Ranma had turned his intense gaze on her at that last question. Then she took a deep breath, a little glad that she no longer had to keep secrets. Linking her hands behind her, she stared off into the night.

"One day I happened to find Mousse... upset. I had to stay late to pick up an assignment for a sick friend, and you had run off with Ukyo. I asked him what was wrong, and he started telling me about how Shampoo doesn't notice him. Then he asked what he was doing wrong. And we started talking."

Ranma closed his eyes. "I didn't 'run off' with Ukyo, I was hungry and she was offering free food. I don't think of her like that. Not at all! I think of her as... well... a guy. Most of the time I knew her I thought she WAS a guy! I don't think of her like that. Not her. Not Shampoo. Certainly not Kodachi. I..."

Akane waved her hand in front of him and looked off to the side. "Yes, yes, I know. You don't think of me like that either. I got that." She took a quick breath and continued her story. "So Mouse and I thought that maybe if we changed him image that Shampoo might look at him differently. I suggested contacts, so we went together to see if he could get some. They gave him a free pair while we wait for his others to come in. Disposable ones you know. We consulted a hair stylist... for both of us... I mean, I was there too, I might as well."

"Akane... I..."

"Then we happened to pass the dance studio. And I gushed about how wonderful I thought dancing was, how beautiful, how romantic. And Mousse wondered if maybe being able to dance would make Shampoo look at him. And, well... it's good exercise. And... fun..." She looked away again.

Ranma struggled with the right words to say. Words that wouldn't make him look jealous and possessive. Words that wouldn't start a fight.

"So... you aren't... a couple...?"

Akane laughed, bringing a smile back to her eyes. "Of course not!"

Thank goodness.

"You... looked... good." This time he looked away. "Maybe even a little pretty." Quickly he covered up the compliment. "And the dancing looks like it builds up stamina. And muscles, kinda like martial arts." He grinned at her. "Maybe we should start a new school, The Anything Goes School of Dancing Martial Arts."

Akane laughed.

Then at the same moment they went silent as they recalled the wording of his last sentence. He had used the word "we".

This time it was Akane who used careful words. "We could put a ballet bar in the dojo to help them work on stretching their legs. Greater extension for higher kicks."

Slowly Ranma smiled. "Yeah! Great idea. And that dance you did, the quickstep?, we could change some of those spins into flying kicks. Think of all the dodging techniques we could come up with. And we could teach the kids to... work in... pairs."

Akane looked into his eyes. "I think that would be... perfect."

"HA! I bet you could swing your partner so fast you could rocket THROUGH your opponent when you let them go!"

"Ew! Ranma!" Wait. He said kids. The students or...

"You could! Kind of like when we were partners in ice skating. Remember? But without the ice. Or the skates. Or the weird outfits."

Akane laughed. She couldn't help it. "I don't think the kids would appreciate those kinds of colorful outfits."

"Especially if we have boys."

Taking a breath, and a chance, Akane said, "Well, we Tendos tend to have a lot of girls in the family."

Ranma paused. Chewed on his lip for a moment. Then put his hands in his pockets and started walking off towards home. Akane's heart sunk.

"That's okay," he said without looking back, "I'm sure our girls will have better taste than to like those outfits either." He stopped walking, then slowly pulled his hands out of his pockets and let them rest at his side. "Right?"

Akane slowly took his hand. "Right," she whispered.

Then they began to walk home.


"Yes, Ranma?"

"Don't let no more guys go kissing you, okay?"

Akane tried not to smile. She kept hold of his hand, but made a point to keep her eyes straight ahead. "No guys at all?"

Ranma stopped walking, his palms getting a little sweaty, but Akane didn't really mind. He took a deep breath.

"Well," he said quietly, "Maybe just... one."



"What are you doing, sister dear?" Nabiki asked as she noticed her sister spying out of the window. Kasumi wasn't really the spying type. That was her job, after all.

The eldest Tendo daughter merely smiled, then closed the curtain to give her little sister privacy as she kissed her fiancée in the moonlight.

Nabiki, however... well... she started taking pictures.



Author's Note:

I hope y'all enjoyed the story. Thank you for your comments and reviews.