Tee hee, I'm so silly ^_^

"Wow, you're not half bad!" Ranma-chan congradulated, it was rare that anyone ever gave her such a challenge. It was almost as if this Akane girl had no apprehensions about staying offensive; she must have went through many trials for the art, like she had.

"Thanks!" the raven-haired girl beamed back, "You're not too shabby, yourself!"

"Well, I did have a lot of training on the road," Ranma-chan replied almost smugly.

Akane smiled, really liking the girl before her. With a slight sniff, Akane turned her nose up, "Well, it definitely smells like you've lived on the road."

Ranma chuckled sheepishly, almost like a guy, to Akane, "Ah... I guess we didn't have much time for baths before we arrived."

"You and your panda?" Akane asked, with an almost excited expression at remembering Ranma's animal, the girl continued, "Is it dangerous?"

"Nope, just a royal pain in the butt, sometimes," Ranma-chan grumbled.

Akane seemed almost disappointed, "Well, go take a bath, I'll join you later if you're still in."

"Ah... you can go first, if you want," Ranma replied, a bit nervously, "I kind of would rather bathe alone."

"Shy, aren't we?" Akane teased, "I'll tell you what, you go first, okay? And let me know when you're done."

Ranma nodded, and smiled at Akane; the raven-haired girl was definitely nice, and she had such a beautiful smile.

After asking Kasumi for directions, Ranma entered the bathroom with towels handed to her by the older girl. Ranma undressed, and started to walk into the the furo room, before stopping. Her head turned back into the restroom part. That was a serious looking medicine cabinet, if Ranma hazarded a guess, it was made of heavy steel. On top of that, it had some serious, heavy-duty padlocks on it, to boot...

Ranma had finally decided to reveal himself before the surprised Tendous. Ranma turned to look at Akane, concerned about what she probably thought of him, and was both relieved and surpsied himself to find nothing but curiosity on her part.

"So, you're really that girl from before?" Kasumi asked, tentatively.

"Hmm," Genma mused, "Where should I begin?" Before he could realize it, Ranma found himself airborne. "My Son, how humiliating!"

"Daddy, why are you friends with them?" Kasumi enquired, pointing to the two bickering and cursed martial artists.

"No sweat!" Soun gleefully stated, "You're problem isn't so bad after all!" Suddenly, Soun's expression became intensely serious, "Now, I must ask, you are indeed skilled in the art, I presume?"

"He is pretty good, Daddy," Akane spoke up, "I spared with him, myself!"

Soun ignored her, "Really, just because you trained in China, and your father, who is an exellent martial artist, himself, trained you, are you as exeptional as you would have us believe?"

"Of COURSE he is!" Genma bellowed, outraged at what his old training partner was insinuating, "I would NEVER allow Ranma to slack off! Why, he's the best of his generation! I made sure of that!"

"Well, you *are* his father, so I would expect you to say that," Nabiki interjected, catching onto what her father was doing. Kasumi looked between everyone, before her face lit up in realization. After a moment, the eldest daughter began to cry silent tears of joyous hope.

Nabiki glared *hard* at Ranma, "What we want to know, is, if you are *truly* as good as you're making yourself out to be."

Ranma-chan was gritting her teeth, but replied, "Like my old man said, I am the best there is..." she looked up to glare defiantly at the other girl, "and I challenge you to find anyone else better!"

"Words, Ranma," Nabiki replied flippantly, "Can you prove it?"

"OF COURSE I CAN!" Ranma shouted, "I, on my honor as a martial artist and a Saotome, dare you to find any challenge to prove it! Ah... within reason, I mean..."

"That's settled!" Soun quickly spoke up, "Then the challenge is you'll be engaged to Akane!"

"HEY!" both Akane and Ranma shouted in shock.

"Oh, they make such a beautiful match!" Kasumi cooed.

"I trust you *will* take good care of my sister, watch over her, and protect her to the fullest of your ability... " Nabiki asked in a hard voice. Suddenly, Ranma found Nabiki looming over him like an overbearing oni, "WON'T YOU?"

"YES SON, *WON'T YOU*?" Soun followed suit with his own demon head attack.

Ranma looked between both large headed spectors, and helplessly looked to her father.

"[Pandas have no say in this]" read the sign of the panda playing with a beachball.

"Why not?" Akane asked, nonchilantly.

"Huh?" Ranma quickly snapped her head towards the other girl, surpised to find her so accepting.

Akane just shrugged, "Well, I still have a bath to take, nice to have you as my fiancee, Ranma-kun!" With that, Akane left.

"Ah... aren't we a bit too young to be getting married?" Ranma asked, still staring after where Akane had left.

"Oh, you'll do fine," Kasumi replied with a serene smile that seemed to have something more to it. Ranma know what that *something* was, it was something that his father's expression held when he was telling Ranma that 'it's someone else's problem, now'. Ranma gulped.


Soun's head suddenly snapped up, as he turned to the bathroom, "Um, is that the medicine cabinet?"


Both Kasumi and Nabiki turned to the direction of the bathroom.



Ranma and Genma blinked, finding themselves alone in the room. Ranma feared what he had been duped into.

"No! Akane, get those out of your mouth!" Kasumi's urgent voice, along with the sounds of a faint scuffle, could be heard all the way into the living room

Ranma didn't understand the situation he was in. Sure, he had experienced similar plots from his father in the past, but this is the first one he recalled that his father stuck with it. Ranma turned to look at the girl leading him to school; she was pretty cute, but he didn't even know her! She was also taking this exeptionally well, and wondered if she even considered any reservations to the engagement.

"Hey, Akane..."

The girl looked up to him from the ground, her eyebrows raising in attention, "Hmm?"

"Uh, don't you, you know... have anything to say against this whole thing? I mean, surely a cute girl like you has someone else they're interested in!"

Akane tilted her head, and smiled, "Thank you for the compliment, but it doesn't matter."

"Doesn't matter?" Ranma repeated, "Are you one of those chicks that are extremely afraid of becoming an old maid or something? Sure you don't have much of a figure, but your face..."


"HEY!" Ranma shouted, rubbing the back of his head from where his father just smacked him.


"Uh, yeah, but..." Ranma started.

"Listen, I'm only going to say this once..."

Rolling his eyes at being cut off, Ranma surrupticiously slipped his foot under his father's, tripping him off the fence. "What's that, Pop? Were you try'n to say something?"

The angry and wet panda leapt at Ranma, and caught him before he could escape. The pigtailed boy was pitched into the air, but managed to recover his balance before landing, "Ha! Check this out!"


Ranma looked down at herself silently, before starting back for the Tendous, "I'm going home to take a bath."

"No, wait!" Akane called out, "You're going to be late!"

"I can't exactly start my first day of school as a girl, you know?" Ranma drolled, turning to look at Akane.

"Well, you just need to pour hot water on you to change back, right..."

"Come on, in here!" Akane lead Ranma into the clinic, not even bothering to announce their presence

"Hi Dr. Tofu!" Akane called out to a young man with glasses, who was currently looking over some paperwork.

"Oh, hello, Akane, no new injuries today... I hope," The doctor asked almost casually. Akane rolled her eyes, and shook her head.

"Oh? And who's your friend?" the doctor asked, observing Ranma-chan.

"Oh, this is Ranma," Akane introduced the redhead, as she gave a bow. "She's a guest staying with us. Ranma, this is Dr. Tofu," Akane introduced the two, heading for the clinic kitchenette. Ranma wondered why Akane didn't mention the engagement, but dismissed the thought; it wasn't like she wanted it, herself.

"Akane, you know you're not allowed back there," Tofu lightly chided, earning an embarrassed expression from Akane.

"Sorry. Could you possibly go get us some hot water?" Akane asked.

"Sure! HOld on a sec," the doctor started back to the kichenette, and then added, in after-thought, "And stay out of my medicine cabinet, please."

Akane gruffed, and folded her arms with an indignant expression. Before long, Tofu returned with a steaming kettle, "So, what do you two need this for?"

"Ah..." Akane's eyes flashed back to a nervous Ranma-chan, "It's kind of a secret..."

Tofu's expression hardened, "Tell me, or you're not getting this..."

"It's for her, honest!" Akane wildly placated, pointing towards Ranma.

Ranma sighed, and stepped forward, "Well, it's not like it's going to remain a secret from everyone..." While the kettle was still in Tofu's posession, the redhead tipped its contents onto her head.

"Well, I'll be," Tofu whispered in awe, "A Jusenkyo curse..."

"Huh? You know about them?" Akane asked with a surprised lilt.

"I've heard about them, but this is the first one I've ever seen," Tofu replied, carefully studying Ranma.

"Uh, then you wouldn't to happen to know a cure for them, would ya?" Ranma asked with a hopeful expression. The good doctor shook his head.

"Afraid not, but if you want, you can stop by sometime, and we can study it to find out a few things that may help you."

"Great! I'll do that!"

Tofu chuckled at the boy's entheusiasm, "Well, I'm sure you two have to get going. You don't want to be late for school now, do you?"

"Oh! We better hurry!" Akane exclaimed, tugging Ranma out the door.

"That's some doctor you have there," Ranma stated, following beside Akane in a brisque jog.

"Oh yeah, he's been taking care of my family ever since I was younger," Akane replied, slowing to a walk.

"Ah, a family doctor," Ranma replied, trying to keep up the conversation.

"Yup, oh, that reminds me..." Akane pulled out a bottle of pills and opened the lid.

Ranma looked over at Akane curiously, "What are those?"

"Medicine," Akane stated, factually, "I have a heart condition."

"Ah," Ranma replied, walking alongside Akane.

"It keeps beating," Akane stated, factually, popping half the bottle into her mouth, and chewing.

"I see," Ranma replied, continuing forward.

"DOC!!!" Ranma shouted, frantically, with Akane fiercely trying to pull herself off of Ranma's shoulder.


"Hello Ranma," Tofu replied, sitting at his desk and looking over paperwork.


"They're just the usual placebos I set out in case Akane feels tempted," Tofu replied, not looking up from his paperwork.

"THAT'S NOT FAIR!" Akane shouted, still slung over Ranma's shoulder, "THAT'S CHEATING!"

"Uh... so they're harmless?" Ranma asked, feeling some of the edge of his anxiousness wearing down.

"Yup," Tofu replied, not looking up from his paperwork, "You two should really be heading for school, now, you're going to be late."

"Ah..." Ranma replied, feeling more than a bit confused, "Be seeing ya, doc." Ranma set a glaring Akane back on the ground, and stated out the clinic.

"Take care, Ranma," Tofu replied, not looking up from his paperwork.

"What's the big idea, giving me a scare like that?" Ranma almost shouted at Akane.

The girl in question shrugged, and smiled cutely.

"That wasn't funny! I thought it was serious!"

"It's all Tofu's fault," Akane retorted in a sulting tone, "I though I almost had it, there..."

"Had, had what?" Ranma asked, before pausing, "Uh, why's your nose bleeding?"

"Oh?" Akane reached a finger up, and rubbed the under part of her nose. She came back with a good deal of blood, "Hmm, I was wondering when those would kick in..."

Ranma's left eye twitched...

Akane the Suicidal