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From ffml-bounce@fanfic.com Sat Oct 7 13:51:52 2000


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Ranma's Apartment

a Ranma 1/2 - Aa! Megami-sama Fanstory
by Chris Jones

revised 10-07-2000
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Ranma glared around at the destruction that surrounded him. He
was *trying* to get ready for his class, but now that was completely
out of the question.

Having forgotten about him for a brief second, Ukyou and Shampoo
were wrestling. They had rolled over near the dojo, and were kicking up
an inordinate amount of dust. His father was unconscious, in panda
form, lying half on, half off of the steps.

Ryouga, P-chan rather, was just crawling out of the koi-pond, but
he still had vengeance in his eyes, and was about to leap for Ranma.

"DON'T PICK ON P-CHAN, BAKA!"

Ranma spun around, but couldn't avoid Akane's frying pan. He fell
to the ground half dazed, but his eyes cleared as Akane was picking a
broadly grinning piglet up off of one of the large rocks near the pond.

"I wasn't pickin' on the pig, Akane. He attacked *me*."

"Oh, I'm so sure. I know you like to beat him all the time."

"Akane I ain't gonna--"

"Aiyah! Violent girl no harrass husband!"

"That's right, Honey! You want to bully Ran-chan, you're gonna
have to go through me!" Shampoo and Ukyou had both momentarily
forgotten their fight to gang up on Akane. Ranma stood up to protest,
but was roughly shoved aside by a blue blur.

"Akane, take the advice of these two serving-women and leave
Saotome's foul embrace for the tender mercies that only I can provide."
Tatewaki Kunou posed with his back to Ranma. "Even then, I shall
struggle endlessly to also free the fair pigtailed girl from his dark
clutches."

"Serving-women?!?!" Ukyou and Shampoo cried in unison.

"Kunou, how many times do I gotta tell you not to--"

"Ranma-sama!!!! Ohohohohoho! Now I will take you away from the
abuse of all these harridans!"

"Ranma!" Akane shouted, "How could you invite Kodachi here?!?!"

"I didn't invite no--"

"Ribbon girl leave husband alone!"

"Shampoo, listen to me... I gotta go to--"

"Hush, Ran-chan. I'm just going to remove a few unwelcome
intrusions to our relationship."

"Ukyou! Why--"

"Ranma, you pervert! How can you keep stringing all these girls
along when you're engaged?"

"Akane, I'm not--"

"Now is not the time to proclaim your innocence, enslaver of
women. Now is the time to die under Blue Thunder's mighty onslaught!"

"I AIN'T GOT TIME FOR--"

"Bukuiii!!!"

"Damnitt, somebody get this pig--"

"Stop picking on P-chan, Ranma!"

"ALL RIGHT, I'VE HAD IT!!!!"

The world stopped as Ranma 'had it'. The resulting explosion of
three years worth of pent up violence lasted several minutes. The first
casualty was the 'Blue Thunder'. He was sent back home via the Hiryuu
Shouten Ha.

Kodachi didn't escape so easily. She ended up unconscious and
tied up upside down from the overhang in her own ribbon.

Happosai showed up sometime during the middle of the fight with a
pail of cold water, but was forcibly ejected in much the same manner
Kunou was before he got a chance to use it.

Ukyou and Shampoo both cowered, crying, in one corner of the
walled-in yard, transfixed and terrified by Ranma's fiery gaze and
cruel words.

"...An' if I ever see either of you again, it'll be too soon.
This has gone on long enough. Now it's over. All the engagements are
*over*!"

Both girls broke at his pronouncement. They leapt the fence and
ran off in opposite directions.

To her horror, Ranma strode up to Akane with the same murderous
expression on his face. She held P-chan protectively to her breast as
he approached.

"R-R-Ranma?"

"Same thing goes for you, Akane. I'm tired of your crap, and I'm
tired of bein' hit all the time. You're violent, you're mean, you don't
listen to anything I gotta say, and I've been trying to get along for
three years. No more, Akane. No more! I sick of it all, and I'm sick of
*you*!"

Suddenly, there was a demon head and a monstrous panda hovering
over Ranma.

"HOW DARE YOU TREAT YOUR FIANCEE IN SUCH A MANNER, BOY?!?!"

"GRRROOOWWWWFFF!"

Ranma glared back with none of his usual fear. "Just you wait,
Pops, Tendou. You're next."

Akane stared back at Ranma with tears standing in her eyes. He
was glowing with rage, and getting brighter.

"Now, I'm in college, and I'm about to fail out 'cause I can't
get even GET TO CLASS 'CAUSE OF ALL THE CRAP THAT GOES ON AROUND HERE.
I'VE HAD IT!"

He spun back around to Akane and pointed a finger directly at her
face. "I'll be damned if I ever marry a tomboy like you. Do you hear
that? I'm gone, and I ain't ever comin' back."

* * *

Akane watched him walk out. All he left with was one suitcase,
and his backpack. She had a horrible feeling in that if she were to
look in the guest room that it would be as empty as it was before he
came.

Just like that, after all the time he had spent here, he was
gone. After his horrible pronouncement, he had made no more effort to
fight or insult anyone. He just left and said he wasn't coming back.

P-chan nuzzled her warmly, but her skin was far too numb to
notice. She felt the blood drain out of her face and ears, but not the
tears that coursed down her face.

"Bweee?"

"H-h-he's gone? B-b-but..."

She watched him turn the corner over and over again in her mind.
He was gone.

Akane's legs went out from under her as her father began to speak
with Uncle Saotome.

"He's coming back, isn't he, Saotome-kun?"

"Of course, Tendou-kun. He's always come back, before. Why
wouldn't he this time?"

She looked up into Genma's face. It betrayed his calm words with
a worried glance back down at her.

* * *

Ranma sighed as he strolled down the street. His mother had just
given him enough money to rent an apartment and buy food. He'd have to
get a part-time job and cook for himself, but he was *finally* away
from all the craziness.

He thought back to the conversation with his mother after he left
the dojo.

"You could always stay here, Ranma. It's not that far from
campus, and the building has a very nice athletic workout room."

He shrugged, not wanting to hurt her feelings. "It's just, I
gotta be on my own for a while. How am I gonna learn to live by myself
if I never get the chance?"

"Those words are years beyond you, Ranma. You're only nineteen. I
lived with my parents until I was twenty-two, and then with Genma until
you were four."

He tried to counter by stating that the generations were
different, but got tied up in his words like he usually did. In the
end, she accepted his explanation anyway. He privately suspected that
she understood his real reasons.

It was difficult to tell his mother that he didn't want to move
back in with her. It would be so nice to have someone to cook for him.
Someone who would clean and keep the house nice. No, he *had* to get
away from that.

*From now on, *NOBODY* tells Ranma Saotome what to do but Ranma.*

He turned, following a guide-book map to the apartment building.

He had seen it earlier in the week. It was on his way to school,
fairly near the University's sports-center as a matter of fact. It was
a new building, so the rates were very inexpensive as it tried to
attract tenants.

He looked up at it as he approached the front walk. It was a
grey, hulking monstrosity, but it was likely to be his home for the
next several weeks, if not indefinitely.

He walked into the front doors, and began to look for the rental
office. A pleasant looking older woman, about forty or so, called to
him from an open door.

"Are you looking for something?"

Ranma turned, and adjusted his backpack slightly. "Yeah, I'm
lookin' to rent a room."

"Oh, you've come to the right place then!" She opened the door
wide, and waved Ranma inside.

"Are you a student?"

Ranma nodded nervously as the woman began to rifle through
several folders. She pulled out several documents, and a ball point
pen, which she handed to Ranma.

"What are you studying, if you don't mind my asking?"

"Ummm... Physical education. I'm gonna be a martial arts
teacher."

"Hmmm, a teacher, how nice! I need you to fill out this," She
pointed to the first sheet, "And this one as well, to this line. My
name's Mariko, so if you have any questions, just ask."

* * *

Akane sat in her bed with her knees drawn up to her chest,
sobbing uncontrollably. P-chan was doing his best to keep her company,
but he was scant comfort.

There was a soft knock on the door, and Kasumi came in and sat
down next to her. She gently ran her motherly hand across Akane's short
hair and pulled the girl close for an embrace.

"How are you doing, little sister?"

Akane just buried her head in her sister's shoulder.

"Do you miss Ranma"

"I do NOT miss that baka hentai!"

"Of course not."

The gates were open, though. Once Akane had spoken, the words
continued to fall out of her mouth like running water.

"How could he do something like that?!?! He insults me all the
time, and makes fun of me, and won't eat my cooking! Doesn't he care
about how I feel!"

"I'm certain he does, Akane."

"It's not fair! He sees all the other girls, and doesn't pay any
attention at all to me, and he does so many things that make me angry,
and--"

"Now, Akane, is that really his fault?"

"Of course it is! He's a perverted jerk!"

"I'm not so sure. Any time Shampoo or Kodachi shows up, he really
does try his best to get away from her. You really don't give him a
chance before you hit him, you know."

A fresh wave of tears started. "That's *HIS* fault! Besides, what
about Ukyou?!?!"

Kasumi bit her bottom lip. "Regardless of how Ukyou feels for
him, she *is* one of Ranma's best friends. She's known him since he was
very little."

Akane nodded, but kept her angry expression.

"Have you ever given him a chance, Akane?"

"Wha--"

"Just once, why don't you try letting him explain himself, Akane.
Ranma's not very good with words, you know. If you give him a chance,
he may have a reasonable explanation or two."

"HE BROKE OUR ENGAGEMENT! How can there be an explanation for
that?"

P-chan 'Buki'ed' in agreement.

Kasumi smiled and put her hands back in her lap. "All right. My
friend, Mako, has a younger brother about your age. I want you to spend
the rest of your life with him without any previous visits or knowing
even what he looks like. Regardless of your first impression, I'm going
to ask that you treat him with devotion and honor, and be a good wife
to him regardless of how he treats you and how faithful he acts."

"Kasumi! How can you ask that of..." Reality crashed down on
Akane as her words stumbled to a halt.

Kasumi nodded in acknowledgment. "Regardless of what it seems,
that's exactly what an arranged marriage is. Regardless of the way you
feel about Ranma, one of his first memories of you is being hit over
the head with our table."

Akane felt the fear she had first felt at his leaving clench a
new claw around her heart. "But that means that he hates me! He's gone,
and he'll never be back!"

"I very much doubt that Ranma hates you, Akane. More likely, he
needs some time away. Perhaps he wants a chance to get to know you like
a new person. A person that doesn't fight with him or hit him on a
daily basis, maybe?"

"How can I know?"

Kasumi patted her shoulder again. "You can't, Akane. Not unless
he tells you. You have to go to him." She looked up at Akane's
calendar, which was just barely readable in the darkness. "You have
class tomorrow. Why don't you find out where he eats lunch and go
apologize for hitting him today. Maybe you should take back some of the
things you said, as well."

Akane nodded, nervously.

"Remember, you must not lose your temper, or you will only be
working against yourself. Promise me, Akane?"

Akane clenched her eyes and nodded, weakly. "I'll try, Kasumi."

The older girl smiled and embraced her sister. "It'll be okay,
Akane. You'll see."

After Kasumi left, the only sound in Akane's bedroom was a soft,
anguished snuffling as P-chan tried to comfort Akane.

* * *

It was fairly late by the time Ranma returned to his apartment
from grocery shopping. He opened the door of his apartment, and sat the
bag of food down on the floor next to the refrigerator.

As he began to stack the food inside the small refrigerator,
Ranma decided that he liked the design of the room. It was compact, yet
efficient. There was room for a little furniture and a futon, once he
could afford them.

For a second, he worried about the lack of a dresser. He had
lived out of a backpack for almost a decade, but his half of the guest
room bureau at the Tendou's was something he had grown accustomed to.

He did have a small closet, so he hung what he could on wire
hangers, and laid his bedroll out in place of a futon.

*Gotta see about the facilities. Never know when I'm gonna need
hot water.* He padded over to a narrow door set near to the apartment's
entrance and opened it.

A face stared back at him.

"Ah-ah-ah-ah--"

Luckily, she was fully clothed.

"You must be the new tenant! Hi, I'm Megumi. Would you excuse me
for a minute?" She pulled his door closed.

Rather than wait at the door, Ranma ran back to his pack and
pulled out the floor plan advertisement. Sure enough, every two rooms
shared a bathroom.

*Ack! I'm sharing a bathroom with-- one person?*

It was true. It was a *significant* improvement over the Tendou
place, where there was frequently a line for the toilet every morning.
True, it threw another unknown into Ranma's situation, be he thought it
was one he could deal with.

A few minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Ranma pulled
it open to find Megumi standing there.

"Uh... I'm Ranma. Sorry 'bout that."

She smiled warmly and wagged her finger at him. "We'll just have
to be careful about walking in on each other. Here," She handed him a
little sign on a piece of string. One side was bright green and the
other was bright red. "Hang this on your doorknob, and when I go, I'll
reach in and turn in around. I'll put one just like it on my door. This
way, we'll always know if there's somebody in the restroom."

Ranma nodded and rubbed his chin. "Sounds like it'd work. Pretty
nice that the rooms even have bathrooms."

"Yeah, and Western style shower stalls, too!"

"Really?"

She waved him inside the small bathroom. Indeed, it did have a
glass-doored shower stall set into the wall across from the porcelain
basin.

Megumi crossed her arms over her chest and leaned up against the
tile wall. "It's not a furo, but it's still pretty nice."

Ranma could only nod. Hot water... on demand. He would never have
to wait for a kettle again. "This is... wonderful!"

"I'll say. Hey, are you a student too?"

* * *


Megumi was an engineering student, along with her brother. Her
parents were strict conservatives, and originally wanted her to rent an
apartment with their other child while they attended university, but by
the time she tracked him down, he was already happily shacked up with
his gaijin girlfriend.

Megumi *could* have told her mother, who would not have approved
and probably disowned her son, be she held back because her brother's
lover was so *nice*.

She found this apartment building, after she heard some bad
rumors about the rent house her brother found for her and took
advantage of the move-in special when it was first constructed.

That was a year ago.

Since, the building had done poorly. The service was excellent,
but the building had an odd design which was unacceptable to many of
its potential customers. It just barely stayed afloat.

Just recently, the manager had lowered the rates back to the
special level when the building had first been constructed in a last
ditch effort to keep it solvent. Megumi, who had attended the tenants
meeting when the building was facing bankruptcy, was rather proud that
the building was finally attracting tenants. Ranma was one of the first
of the new batch as the building was slowly becoming populated.

Megumi was rather shocked to learn that her suite-mate had been
the unwilling recipient of no less than seven different marriage
proposals, several of which his father encouraged.

"You're kidding, right?"

Sadly, Ranma shook his head. "Nah, I wish I was. Pops would do
just about anything if it meant a free meal. He even tried to make it
my fault that he stole the cart. Asked me if I liked okonomiyaki more,
or the girl. I even thought she was just another guy 'till I was
sixteen 'cause I hadn't seen her since I was five."

"That's awful! How could anyone do something like that to their
own child?" Megumi sipped at the soda she brought in from her room.

"That's why I wanted to get away from the old fart. Every time
somthin' went wrong, it was my fault, regardless of what really
happened."

Megumi put her hands under her chin. "So which one do you like?"

"Huh?"

"Which one of the girls? The amazon, the chef, the martial artist
or the gymnast?"

Ranma's face took on a sick expression. "Eugh... I've had enough
of Shampoo to last me a lifetime. I hear one more--" Ranma changed his
voice to a falsetto singsong, "'-- Wo-da Airen!' an I'm gonna puke!"

"The chef, Ukyou wasn't it? She sounds like a pretty good friend.
What do you think about her?"

Ranma shook his head. "Ukyou's nice and pretty and all, but she's
my best friend. It'd be like marryin' my sister." *Or brother...* He
added mentally. "Kodachi's *really* pretty."

"I think I saw her at one of my friend's gymnastic competitions
once. If it's the same person, I know what you mean."

Ranma nodded. "Pretty, but crazy as loon. She's into all sorts of
drugs, and tries to poison people all the time. She *needs* help,
but'll never get it 'cause she's so rich. 'Kodachi's not crazy, just
eccentric.'"

"How many times have I heard that?" Megumi rolled her eyes. "So
what about the martial artist? You seem to have a lot in common, if
nothing else."

Ranma just looked down at his feet.

"You like her, don't you? Hmmm?"

Ranma ran his finger along the texture in the carpet, trying to
word his response. "Yeah... I like her. I like her a lot, but she
doesn't like me very much at all. She hates all the other girls, 'cept
Ukyou, and even they don't get along real well. She gets mad really
easy and she gets frustrated about just about anything.

"Sometimes, she smiles at me. It's when I've just won a fight, or
kept her from gettin' hurt, but it makes me feel like..."

Megumi grinned broadly, and cocked her head at him. "Oooh, what a
lucky girl! To have a hunk of a martial artist like you in love with
her. Mmmm... what I'd give!"

"Hey, I'm not in love with her!"

"Sure, Ranma. You're also not a martial artist," Megumi teased.

Ranma was about to say something else, but Megumi started
laughing and he couldn't keep from joining her.

They talked long into the night, about their families and loves.
Ranma realized that he had found a true friend.

Just before she went back to her own room for the night, Megumi
pulled out a spare futon, and a little black and white television to
lend Ranma until he could afford his own furnishings. He tried to
refuse them, but Megumi plugged the television in and turned it on for
him before he finished protesting.

"There, now. I'm sure that you won't have a problem with these,
right?"

Ranma rolled his eyes, but Megumi had somehow managed to find his
favorite martial arts movie when she turned on the set. It would be
nice to have a real futon too, instead of his thin bedroll. He sighed,
and began to lay his blankets over the top of it. "They'll be fine. I'm
just trying to get away from--" he pronounced the word with obvious
distaste, "freeloading."

"You're not freeloading, Ranma. You're a *friend*, who's being
helped through a rough time by your *freind*. Okay?"

Ranma nodded. "Thanks, Megumi. I'll... owe you one."

Megumi smiled and patted his shoulder. "That's what friends do,
Ranma. They help each other. There no 'owe' to it. I'd like to think
you're a nice enough guy that you'd help me out if I needed it if I had
never seen you before in my life. For me, that's enough."

Ranma smiled and hesitantly nodded. "Okay, I can live with that."
Still, Ranma felt the need to repay her kindness, "Hey, do you think
you'd like a martial arts lesson sometime?"

"Sure!" Megumi tousled his hair and walked back through the
bathroom into her own room. "Goodnight, Ranma."

"'Night, Megumi."

Things were looking up, Ranma thought as he did his before-bed
katas. He had a refrigerator full of food, a loaned futon and a
television that was currently playing his favorite movie, and most
importantly, an honest, kind *friend*.

If he could actually manage to get to class on time tomorrow,
life would be almost *perfect*.

* * *

Akane slept poorly and woke late. Having slept through her alarm,
she skipped breakfast and ran for the train that would take her to
school.

Much to her chagrin, the train was delayed several times and by
the time she made it to campus, it was already lunchtime.

Akane *usually* ate with Ranma. Still, her drama class wouldn't
start for another hour and she did skip breakfast.

Akane ordered a burger and fries from the fast food concession in
the student union and made her way to her usual eating place.

She nearly dropped her tray when she saw Ranma.

He was there already with a beefbowl and a glass of cold tea.
Next to him, in Akane's usual spot, was another girl.

"Why that Casanova! He's gone for a day and has already picked up
another girlfriend. That pervert!"

Akane wanted to scream and throw her plate at Ranma but Kasumi's
words came back to her. She *refused* to lose her temper again for
something that baka did. She would go over and kindly ask him what he
was doing and who his newest hussy was.

*No! I'm already doing it!* Akane rolled her head back and tried
to calm herself so that she could confront Ranma. Nervously, and a
little anxiously, she made her way over to her ex-fiancee.

Ranma jerked as he saw her, nearly spitting out a mouthful of
beefbowl.

"Hello, Ranma."

The girl smiled broadly and waved at Akane.

"Oh, you must be Akane! Ranma's told me all about you. Why don't
you have lunch with us?"

Akane's angry gaze bore a hole into Ranma's but she sat down
across from him and the strange girl.

"Who's your *friend*, Ranma?" she asked coldly.

"Uhh, this is Megumi. We share a bath." Ranma smiled at the quick
explanation, but then realized what he had said. *Kuso...* He thought
to himself, as he closed his eyes in preparation for the inevitable
mallet strike.

Megumi saved him. She pulled out a diagram of the suite and
pointed out the architectural peculiarities to Akane.

"...So we have to be really careful not to walk in on each other.
It seems to work fairly well for most of the other tenants."

"I... see." Akane studied the diagram intensely for a few
seconds. "So, your rent is reasonable?"

Megumi nodded as Ranma prayed in thanks.

Ranma pulled the contract out of his pocket and handed it to
Akane. "It's pretty cheap. They're trying to get new renters, so I got
a special deal. Mom's helpin' me out until I find a job."

"Um-hmm". Akane's expression became troubled as she studied the
contract. "This is a six-month contract."

"Yeah. I coulda got a year, but I don't wanna be stuck with it if
I end up not likin' it."

Megumi stood up and lifted her tray. "Well, *I* like it. Bye,
Ranma; I've got to get to class. It was nice to meet you, Akane!" She
strode off towards the cafeteria entrance.

Akane let her finger rest on the expiration date. "So this means
you have to live there the whole six months."

"Yup. Should be 'bout Christmas."

"What if you want to come home?" Akane asked, almost desperately.

Ranma allowed his eyes to dip down to the table. "I ain't goin'
back. Not ever."

"But--"

Ranma shushed her and clasped his hands together on the table.
"No buts, Akane. I've had enough of havin' my life lived for me. I'm
gonna make my own decisions and I'm gonna run my own life. If Oyaji or
Tendou don't like that, tough."

"What if I--" Akane began to feel the tears pricking behind her
eyelids again. She breathed in sharply to try to control herself.

Ranma leaned back in his chair. "What?"

"Can I see your apartment?"

His eyes widened briefly, but then darkened and flashed. "Maybe
some other time, Akane."

A tear wound its way down her cheek. "You don't want me to see
it."

"Hey! I didn't say that!"

"No, but you meant it. Why don't you want me to see your room?"

Ranma's eyes narrowed in anger. "'Cause I'll say somthin' stupid
about my room or Megumi or you, an' you'll hit me, an everything I
wanted to get away from is gonna come right back home." He crossed his
arms. "I'm sick of the crap, the fightin' cause no one listens, of
havin' eighteen fiancees an not asking for any of them, of havin'
Ryouga wake me up with a punch, drugs or worse in my food. I can't... I
*will not* take it any more. If I'm gonna be engaged, it'll be because
I'm in love, not because Oyaji ran out on a restaurant bill. Got
that?"

Tears streamed openly down Akane's face as his words crashed down
on her. He *hated* her! How could she...

"iwon'thit..." She murmured.

"What?"

"I... I won't hit you anymore, Ranma. Please believe me."

Ranma's angry expression suddenly became uncertain. He thought he
would be able to stand up to her when she started crying.

"Please, please don't hate me..."

"Akane?" He felt a funny feeling in his chest as she folded her
face into her hands.

"Please don't hate me, Ranma..."

"Okay," Ranma hesitated for a second, but his defenses fell
against the onslaught of Akane's tears. "But you gotta promise that
*nobody* finds out where I live. Not your family, not my dad, not Ukyou
or Shampoo, and especially not Ryouga, Okay?"

Akane lifted her head in wonder. Tears still ran down her face,
but hope sparked somewhere in her throat.

"Ranma? You don't hate me?"

"Nah, 'course I don't hate you. Just leave the mallet alone for
while, okay? Just gimme a chance to explain when I goof up."

Akane wiped the tears from her eyes and anxiously nodded. "I'll
try. Will you..."

"Yeah?"

"Will you try not to insult me?"

A broad smile broke across Ranma's face. "Who am I gonna joke
with if I can't tease my favorite tomboy?"

"Ranma..."

"Okay, okay. I got class at two, and I was gonna go ho-- back to
the apartment after that. Is that gonna be alright?"

* * *

"Tadaima!"

Kasumi watched Akane come in the door from her vantage behind the
kitchen counter. "Did you have a nice day at school, Akane-chan?"

Akane nodded happily and skipped into the living room.

Kasumi smiled knowingly. Akane had made up with Ranma. There was
hope yet.

A smirk crossed her face as she heard her father and Uncle
Saotome rush in to the room to question her sister.

"Did you see that worthless son of mine today?" Genma asked in an
angry voice. Uncle Saotome had been *very* upset when Ranma hadn't
returned for dinner or bed the previous evening.

Kasumi could almost hear Akane mentally shift gears.

"Yes, where is Ranma, Daughter?"

Her voice, cold and shrill, sounded out against the pleas of the
older men.

"He wouldn't tell me. You know how stubborn he is."

Lie.

Genma grunted, "Did you talk to him at all?"

"Briefly. He didn't say much at all."

Lie. Acting class was such a good influence on Akane. It did
wonders for her temper.

"Daughter, you must tell us what he's doing, and who he's with!"

"If you must know, Ranma has already found another girl and is
living with her. Some son, *Uncle* Saotome."

Kasumi's eyes widened in shock. Akane's voice betrayed some truth
in her last statement. Still, the girl was so happy... She decided it
must have been creative exaggeration on Akane's part. If he was in a
coed apartment or dormitory, he could very well live near female
students. That would usually still be enough to set her little sister
off, though.

*Is little Akane growing up? I wonder,* The situation merited
further examination.

Kasumi smiled and prepared dinner.

All through the meal, Akane kept shooting nasty glances at both
her father and Uncle Saotome. Still, Kasumi caught the corners of her
mouth turning up more than once.

After Akane had gone to bed, Kasumi knocked softly on her door
and crept into her sister's room.

"Onee-chan?"

"I see that you made up with Ranma today." Kasumi sat down next
to her sister and adjusted the sheets around her.

Akane nodded in the darkness.

"Is he really living with another girl?"

Akane laughed quietly. "They 'share a bath'," she quoted.

"Akane?!?!"

Akane smiled and explained the living arrangements.

"What did he have to say to you, then?"

"It's really funny, Kasumi. He never did take back what he said
yesterday, but he's never treated me nicer."

"So the engagement is still off?"

Akane nodded. "I think so. At least... until Ranma says so.
I'm..."

"Frightened?" Kasumi wrapped her arm around the suddenly
shivering girl.

"Yeah. A little. He's not there for me all the time, anymore, but
his eyes... They seem so alive now! He's happy... and I think I am
too."

"Do you still love him?"

"I DO NOT LOVE THAT BA--" Akane faltered. "I... I-I... yes. I
do."

"Does he love you back?"

"I-I'm not sure. He says he didn't hate me..."

"That's a good start." Kasumi pointed out at the stars. "If he's
still willing to be your friend, you can still win him, Akane."

"Even with all the other girls?"

Kasumi nodded. "You have the advantage now. You know where he
lives and they don't."

Akane grimaced.

"What is it, little sister?"

"It's just that... He's so alone. He doesn't really have anything
but a television and a refrigerator."

"I've already put together a care package. It's behind the dojo
for when you go to school tomorrow."

* * *

P-chan left just after dinner. He finally found a bathhouse
around nine, and changed back. He wasn't doing Akane any good by being
there, and he knew it. There was only one reason why she was in pain,
and there was only one cure.

This was all Ranma's fault, and he must die for tormenting Akane.

Ryouga growled and ran off into the night in search of his
nemesis, completely unaware of the tall, grey building next to the
bathhouse.




* * *
Author's notes:

First, a big thanks to Dave Eddy for prereading!

Second, this is intended to be a standalone story. While I feel
like I have left room for a sequel, I'm not sure if I want to
write one right now.

I'm sure all of you caught who the guest star was. While I had
fun doing it, This is really not intended to be a crossover
story... Although I could be persuaded.

I hope you enjoyed it.

Author's Notes 10-07-2000 :

Standalone story? HA! Somethin' like that. Not a crossover? HA!

I just finished the draft for 'Storms' and thought that it would be
nice to go in and make a few minor revisions to this guy before I
posted 'Storms' to the FFML and my web page. It let me see just how far
the story has come. (The stories do tend to take on a life of their
own...)

* * *
C. Jones
http://www.furinkan.net

Watashi ha ultra-relakusu!



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