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From ffml-bounce@fanfic.com Sat Oct 14 21:43:15 2000

(10-14-2000)
------------------------------

Hiroshi Tanaka was a meteorologist at the University of
Japan in Tokyo. He taught a few classes, typed up a few
reports, and wished he could get a higher paying job on
television. His main concern, however, was to watch the radar
weather maps for trouble that could affect the country. When
severe weather threatened, it was Hiroshi's job to calculate
the chance that it would actually strike.

Currently, he was poring over a satellite map of the
South Pacific. A little blob of white on a sea of black labeled
'117' was his current concern.

A coworker, the man who'd brought the map to Hiroshi's
attention, looked over his shoulder.

"It's one hundred fifty percent larger than this same
time yesterday?" Hiroshi asked.

The other man nodded. "Radar suggests that wind speeds
inside are picking up as well."

"Hmm... I really think it's coming in too fast to grow
very large," Hiroshi noted. "Also, it should catch this current
and turn North and curve away before it ever comes close to the
mainland."

The coworker nodded.

Hiroshi stopped him just before he walked off. "Let's
upgrade it to 'Tropical Storm' status and issue some sea swell
warnings."

"Right!"

----------------------------------------
Ranma's Apartment: 4 - Storms

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

"Ms. Tendou, you can come back now."

Akane winked at Megumi and hopped out of her seat.

"Good luck, Akane!" Megumi whispered.

She followed the nurse out of the waiting room and into
the main office.

"Step up here if you would," the nurse prompted,
gesturing to a balance scale.

Akane set down her book bag and stepped onto the short
platform.

"Hmm..." The nurse made the fine adjustments necessary to
gauge the girl's weight. "Fifty-two kilograms and," she
adjusted the level at the top of the scale. "152 centimeters.
You've lost two kilos since your last checkup."

"I've been training a lot lately," Akane offered in
explanation. "My... boyfriend has really been putting me
through the wringer lately."

"The martial artist?"

Akane nodded.

"This way please." The nurse led Akane into an
examination room and pulled a white cotton gown out of a low
cabinet. "Go ahead and change into this if you would. I need to
get some more supplies but I should be right back."

After Akane had changed into the thin gown, the nurse
returned with several evil-looking devices. Akane shivered
nervously in expectation but tried to relax. It was just part
of the exam. after all.

A few minutes later it was all over. The nurse made a few
cursory notes on her tablet and handed a sheet of paper to
Akane.

"These are the results of your tests from yesterday. No
infections, no STD's and you aren't currently pregnant."

Even though she had been expecting it, Akane breathed a
sigh of relief.

"I take it you were worried," the nurse asked.

Akane shook her head. "Not really. My period's just not
that regular. We... ummm..."

"Had intercourse?"

"Yes. That. We were using... protection, but I'm really
not sure that either one of us will remember that very well."

The nurse saved her from further embarrassment. "It's
good you've decided to take steps. So have you decided what
kind you'd like to try yet?"

Akane nodded. "I've been looking at the literature you
gave me, and I've been asking around a little. My sister just
got on the pill because she's about to get married, but I'm a
little forgetful for that. I think I'd like to try the shots."

"Good choice. They're very reliable."

Less than fifteen minutes later, Akane strode into the
waiting room of the clinic with only slightly less of a blush
than she had when she walked in.

Megumi dropped her magazine and ran over to the girl.
"Did you do it?" she asked of her friend.

Akane nodded, trying to keep her blush from deepening. "I
did it," she whispered. Exhaling noisily, she grabbed Megumi by
the arm and dragged her from the clinic. "Come on already!"

In the embarrassed rush, neither Akane nor Megumi noticed
that the dark-haired receptionist watching them leave was not
the same one who had watched them come in.

*So,* the receptionist thought to herself. *The perverted
Akane Tendou seeks to seduce my Ranma-sama with her pathetic
body. This will not do...*

The rest of the clinic shuddered in horror as a crazy
laugh echoed off the walls.

* * *

"What really gets me is just how awful they make all the
possible side affects seem," Megumi complained.

Akane smirked her affirmation. "Irregular menstruation,
bloating, bleeding, hair loss, possible stroke..."

"It's rare, but it happens," Megumi informed her. "I've
never actually *heard* of it happening, mind you."

"Weight-gain..." Akane shuddered, and started trying to
look behind herself as the two girls walked down the sidewalk.

"What are you doing?"

"Megumi, be honest with me. Do I look like I'm getting
fat?"

Megumi paused in midstride and guffawed. "Yahright."

"Really... Be serious."

"I am being serious!" Megumi retorted. "With the kind of
training Ranma's been giving you lately, I wonder if you have
any body fat at all."

In truth, the lessons Megumi had been taking from her
suitemate were doing absolutely marvelous things to her thighs
and backside as well. Curves were a very nice thing to have,
but when you had curves *and* the kind of fine toning Ranma's
brand of training put on your body...

"Look out, Nekomi!"

"What?" Akane paused after only a few more steps, looking
back at the girl with confusion.

Actually, with girls like Akane and Belldandy around, the
men probably wouldn't look twice at Megumi, she thought sadly.
She groaned in mock pain. "I was just thinking..."

"What?"

"Don't worry about it. You look fine, Akane. Trust me!"

They walked a few more meters.

"Now that I'm... Now that I've taken the shot, would you
tell me if you are..."

Megumi grinned wickedly. "Actually, I've been on the pill
since I was twelve."

"WHAT?!?!"

She chuckled in amusement. "I've never had occasion for
it to be of any real use to me. It's not for lack of trying,
though."

"Megumi!"

The girl's expression became a little more serious.
"Actually, it's because I've got a weird cycle. Sometimes I
just bleed for months on end if I don't take it."

Akane made a disgusted face. "Bleh!!!"

"I have a cousin who does the same thing," Megumi
informed her. "The doctors all say that it's not really an
uncommon problem."

"I've never heard of it before."

Megumi shrugged. "Say, does Ranma have a period?"

Both she and Akane stopped dead in their tracks, staring
at each other.

"I... I've never asked." Akane admitted. "I honestly
don't know."

"Hmmm..." Megumi pursed her lips in thought. "He would be
*very* upset if we asked."

"Yes," Akane agreed. "Yes he would."

The two girls resumed their pace, both trying to imagine
Ranma's reaction to the question. Megumi shook her head at the
thought while Akane just shuddered.

They continued that way in silence for a few blocks.
Finally, with a curious look on her face, Akane turned to her
friend. "Do the goddesses?"

Megumi was taken aback, but kept up her pace. "Well, Urd
and Skuld are definitely moody enough sometimes..." She shook
her head a little bit. "I've never heard them complain,
though."

Akane nodded in agreement. "Menstruation of the gods does
seem just a bit far-fetched, I guess."

"My turn," Megumi stated. "Since we're playing twenty
questions all of a sudden. Have you and Ranma done anything
since the party? Hmmm..."

Akane's blush muscles were getting a definite workout.
"Not... as much as we did at the party. We've gotten pretty
serious, but not *that* serious."

"I see. Now, has Ranma--"

"I thought it was my turn!" Akane complained.

"Just answer the question. Now, has Ranma ever been a
girl when the two of you--"

"MEGUMI!!!!" Akane shouted. In mock anger she chased her
friend all the way to their destination.

A few minutes of running brought them to Yang's Chinese,
a medium-sized restaurant fairly near Ranma's apartment. They
stopped in front of the enameled glass doorway to catch their
breaths.

"I can't... *huff*... believe you said that!" Akane
complained. "How... *huff* could you?!"

Megumi stood, bent over with her hands on her knees. "You
never answered my question!"

Akane just snarled and took a mock swipe at her friend.

After the two had caught their breaths, they stepped
inside the restaurant. They were greeted by a short, red haired
waitress with a pigtail. She wore a pink and white dress and
pink pumps.

"Welcome to Yang's!" she chirped in a fake Chinese
accent. "We have excellent dim-sum today, and special on won-
ton. Only three hundred yen for dozen!"

"Lay off, Loverboy," Megumi chided.

"Unless of course you just feel like acting for us,
Ranma," Akane teased.

Ranma grimaced and jerked her thumb towards the serving
window near the back of the restaurant. "Ahh, Old Man Yang's
just got a bug up his ass. If he don't hear the spiel every
time the doorbell rings, he goes ballistic. Booth okay?"

Both Megumi and Akane nodded and the martial artist-
turned-waitress led the two real girls to a booth under the
restaurant's front window.

"I'll be right back," Ranma promised. The girl soon
returned with three bowls of ramen expertly balanced on her
finger tips.

"Okay, spicy pork for Akane," Ranma set the bowl of ramen
down in front of the girl, impossibly balancing the other two
on one hand. "Veggie for Megumi, and Saotome's Seafood
Specialty for me."

"Of course Ranma gets to make *his* own," Megumi chanted
mockingly.

"You don't get a fish sausage, then." Ranma dropped one
of the round sausages in her own bowl and held the other out
grasped between a pair of chopsticks.

"Ranma?" Akane asked as the redhead held the sausage
teasingly over her own bowl.

"Well, do you want it?"

"Give it to me, Baka!"

"Take it from me."

Megumi recognized the challenge. Ranma would take *any*
opportunity to train Akane of late.

With a cool, confident smile, Akane snapped at the
sausage with her own chopsticks.

Ranma responded by snapping the sausage back. Almost
instantly the two pairs of chopsticks buzzed over the table.
Akane sat calmly, focusing all her attention on the sausage,
while Ranma kept making mocking expressions at the girl. All
the while, the sausage hovered between the two, being held in
the air by the chopsticks which were moving far too fast to see
clearly.

"Oww!" Akane yipped at one point, not taking her eyes
away from the scrimmage.

Ranma chuckled quietly, renewing her attack.

Megumi couldn't even see what had caused the girl to cry
out. "What is it?" she asked.

"This jerk pinched me!" she said, lunging with her entire
body.

Ranma dodged back, away from Akane's attack, while the
girl grabbed the sausage out of mid air and popped it in her
mouth. She smiled smugly.

Megumi shook her head in wonder. She had *never* seen
anyone as fast as Ranma *or* Akane.

"Was that enough?" Akane asked in a teasing, petulant
voice.

Ranma placed her hands on her hips and nodded
appreciatively. "Almost," she admitted. "You're faster than I
was when I started."

Akane did her best to keep the exultant expression off
her face. Megumi could still see a proud blush rise to the
girl's cheeks.

Ranma gazed proudly at Akane, who was doing her best to
keep from exploding.

"All right, Akane!" Megumi congratulated.

The mood was ruined when the rough voice of the chef
sounded out from the kitchen. "Saotome! You got a customer!"

"I'm off the clock, moron!" Ranma shouted back. "I have
*got* to get a new job," she complained.


* * *


It took her some time to adjust to the dim, filtered
light of the restaurant through her sunglasses. Glancing
around, she quickly located the booth where Akane and the
pigtailed girl were sitting. One other was with them, the same
girl that had been escorting Akane at the clinic. She was
presumably a minor member of their plot to steal away her
Ranma-sama, or else a lover of one of the two perverted girls.
Probably, she assumed, the girl was both.

A waitress, who rattled off a formula greeting and sales
pitch escorted her to a secluded booth, almost on the other
side of the crowded restaurant from her enemies. She ordered
dessert and coffee, and settled down to watch.

She could not hear what the girls were saying. She could
see their lips move, but nothing more than a suggestion of
their voices rose above the din of the restaurant. Their
behavior, however, suggested a happy gathering. The three joked
and cajoled. They were no doubt already deep in their plans to
snare her Ranma-sama, and were prematurely lording their
victory over her.

"Sirens!" she cursed under her breath. "Harridans!
Whores!"

Then she saw the pigtailed girl nervously peck Akane on
the cheek. It was an innocent gesture... but she knew it for
what it was. It was obvious that the two girls were lovers.
They were forever touching... forever letting their gazes
linger over one another...

It would not do to have her Ranma-sama ensnared by such
wanton women. She would make a much better, much more demure
wife for him. She would never betray his love with another
woman.

As the three finished their meal, so did she. She left a
large bill lying on the table, not bothering to wait for the
change. There were more important things.

Of this, The Black Rose had no doubt. Where Akane Tendou
and the pigtailed girl led, there she would find her Ranma-
sama.


* * *

"In other news, the Japanese Meteorological Bureau has
upgraded tropical depression 'Mikado' to Tropical Storm status.
While the storm is not expected to come overland, all Honshu
residents who live in low lying or easily flooded areas are
being advised to--"

*CLICK*

Tatewaki Kunou had no time for such trivialities. He
asked himself why he had bothered listening to the radio in the
first place. The classical strains were interrupted almost
continually with commentary and commercialism. This was no way
to calm his mind.

That was the crux of the situation, he surmised. He had
been ill at ease ever since the pigtailed girl had disappeared.
It was true that the fair Akane was still in residence at the
Tendou Dojo, but Kunou just couldn't help himself from thinking
about why the pigtailed girl *and* the heinous Ranma Saotome
had gone missing.

Had he taken the girl to some secret hideout to molest
her in seclusion? Was he having his cruel way with her as Kunou
sat powerless to stop such a crime?

"Save me, Kunou-sempai!" the crying red-headed angel
seemed to plead from just in front of his eyes.

"AUGGHH! The injustice! I'll not bear it!"

But what could he do? he asked himself. Not only was the
lovely visage of the pigtailed girl gone from his sight, but
the divine Akane made herself absent from his presence as well.

Her dress and behavior had changed drastically since
Saotome left Nerima ward. Worse, she was gone from the area all
day, most days. When he or his loyal ninja tried to follow her,
all she did was ride the train all day, and get off at the end
of the day without giving neither hint nor clue to her original
destination.

He was at his wits' end.

*RING*

He calmed himself. It was not meet to display any
weakness before others. "Moshi moshi. Tatewaki Kunou speaking,"
he answered.

The static hiss of cellular phone greeted him on the
other end of the line.

"Hello?" he asked once more.

"Brother. I have found Ranma-sama."

Kunou's heart skipped a beat. Where hideth Saotome, so
lies imprisoned the pigtailed girl!

"Where?" he demanded, scrabbling for something to write
the address down on.

Kodachi gave him the address tersely. Without even
bothering to hang up the phone, Tatewaki Kunou grabbed his
bokken and ran from his house. He didn't even notice the dark
smear of clouds forming on the horizon.

* * *

"Do you think it will be a bad storm?" Akane asked,
snuggling her back against Ranma.

The pigtailed martial artist shook his head briefly and
continued to kiss the back of her neck, just underneath Akane's
hairline. He tightened his embrace around her slightly as she
leaned toward the window they were both gazing out.

The dark line on the horizon had grown noticeably since
that afternoon, and large cumulonimbus clouds were starting to
form, even in the coolness of the evening.

"They said on the radio that it wasn't supposed to go
inland," he responded.

"Ummm... do that again..." Akane whispered.

"What?"

"When you breathed on my ne-- oh. That."

Ranma smirked and buried his face in the short, thick
hair. He inhaled deeply, savoring the fragrance, and exhaled
slowly, sending the girl into shivers.

"You did real good today," he said, complimenting her.
"You're gettin' to the point where you can really start tryin'
to master the Amiguriken."

Akane did her best to keep from shivering again. Ranma's
pronouncement thrilled her almost as much as his lips on her
neck did. She had never felt so confident, or so alive as when
she trained with him. It was there, in the athletics room on
the ground floor of the building, or outside, in the courtyard
when they sparred that Akane felt like Ranma really respected
her. She found that she was almost addicted to that wonderful
gaze he gave her whenever she mastered a new kata or blocked
one of his blows.

"I... got the shot today, Ranma." She said, allowing as
much sensuality as she could into her voice for such a mundane
subject.

"The shot? The... That shot?!?!"

"The one we were talking about."

Ranma was left quite speechless. He had never quite
regained the brazenness or the confidence of the night of the
Halloween party. The night when Akane gave her virginity to
him. He desperately wanted to make love to Akane again... but
was unsure how to approach the situation. Whenever they
approached that kind of heat together, something always seemed
to come up.

Even if nobody interrupted them, Akane always seemed to
remember something that she needed to get home for, or
something he needed to do the next morning. He suspected that
she was as nervous about it as he was. He wanted to talk to her
about it, but was afraid that he would end up pushing her away
again if he rushed her.

Finally, about two weeks ago, one of Megumi's close
friends turned up pregnant with her boyfriend's baby. Neither
Ranma nor Akane knew the girl very well, but Megumi spent quite
a while helping her through the ordeal, and Ranma and Akane
volunteered a weekend to helping the girl and her boyfriend
move in together.

Even though everyone put a fairly nice face on the whole
situation, it was obvious that life was going to be fairly
difficult for the two. Both were full time students, and
neither really had much family to fall back on. They were going
to be lucky, *very* lucky, if one or both didn't have to drop
out of school to start working to support the baby.

And it made Ranma and Akane stop and think. In quiet
tones at the back of the university commons, they discussed
what they had done at the party, and the risks they were
starting to take. With Ranma's, and eventually Megumi's help,
Akane decided to go to the school infirmary and start looking
into a more reliable method of birth control.

Just in case.

Now, with the pronouncement that she had actually gone
through with the shot, the question was out in the open. She
had laid it on the table for Ranma to pick up.

He started to tremble, slightly. He realized that Akane
could probably feel his erection through his pants. She was
trembling as well.

Before anything could happen, she stood up abruptly.

"What? Is something wrong?" Ranma asked.

"No! No... It's just... everyone's going to leave for the
trip tomorrow morning. You remember, right?"

Ranma nodded, familiar, yet somehow sweet, disappointment
setting in. In celebration of the upcoming wedding, Mother Ono
had paid for both Kasumi and Tofu as well as Nabiki, Akane and
both fathers to go to a resort hotel in Hawaii for a week.
Akane declined politely, citing a nonexistent school project,
but she *was* expected to help pack and see her family off to
the airport.

"If... If we do *anything* tonight, I'll probably end up
missing them leaving... tomorrow morning... and father will be
worried all week... and..."

He stood, and silenced her with a kiss.

"It's okay. You don't have to explain. I understand."

Akane could see the disappointed acceptance in his eyes.
It hurt... but it was something she might be able to fix.

"While they're gone... I was thinking of locking up the
house and the dojo and spending... the week... over here."

Ranma's eyes brightened. He realized that he was probably
blushing as deeply as Akane was now, but he didn't care. He
carefully shifted his stance, hoping to keep his erection from
showing.

"I'd... I'd like that."

"Do you think the dojo will be okay?" Akane asked,
concern showing in her expression.

"Oh yeah! Unless there's a typhoon or something!" he
joked, pointing to the darkened horizon line. "It'll be fine,
I'm sure!" He paused, clasping his hands. "So... You better
leave pretty quick, huh?"

"Well," Akane responded, a naughty gleam lighting up in
her eyes. "I can stay... for a little while longer."

* * *

Kodachi and her brother watched.

They waited in silence.

They waited some more.

Kunou started to expound upon Akane's beauty and Ranma's
crimes in heroic couplets.

Kodachi smacked him one and told him he had damn well
better shut up.

The two waited further in silence.

Finally, Akane Tendou came out the front of the building.

"See!" Kodachi hissed from her vantage inside the dense
shrubbery near the courtyard..

"My goddess!" Tatewaki proclaimed. "I must go to her!"

"No! You will do no such thing!" his sister admonished.
"To do so will only let her know that we are aware of her
little scheme."

"But she is so near, and must surely know where the
pigtailed-gir--OOF!"

Kodachi whapped her brother sharply across the face.
"Silence! You will never see either of them again if you act in
haste, Brother. They will run from you like panicked deer."

"Will you keep me from saving my darlings from that
madman!?!?"

"Look, she's leaving. Let us follow... *discreetly*."

As Akane made her way from the apartment building, across
the street, and toward the university campus, Kodachi leapt up
on top of a nearby convenience store and peered down at her
from the roof.

Climbing a pile of crates, and heaving himself bodily
onto the roof of the store, Kunou joined his sister.

"I don't understand," he complained.

"You never do! Watch," she said, pointing at the rapidly
receding Akane. "It never works to follow her, because as soon
as she sees you on the train, she just sits there like a frog
on a log."

Kodachi was rather pleased with her allusion. Akane *did*
look rather amphibian. "Midorigame, however, will wait for the
frogs to jump into the water before he strikes. By letting
Akane pass without incident, and following her at a great
distance, we will know the path she will take the next day."

After almost a minute, comprehension slowly dawned across
Kunou's face. "If we could find which stop she gets off at..."

"You could meet her there tomorrow morning! You could
easily delay her there, giving me time to figure out which of
those rooms houses my darling Ranma-sama."

"Oh, Akane Tendou! How I have longed to be re--"

"Quiet!" Kodachi hissed, whacking her brother with a
club. "Save your rantings for tomorrow morning, my foolish
brother."

* * *

Message-ID: 000d01be3487$9ce78340$63a910cf@jws.utokyo.ed.jp
From: "CPO E. McAtee" emctee2@minnesota.navy.mil
To: roto@jws.utokyo.ed.jp
Subject: Re: Depression 117
X-Mailer: RIFLE v1.1.7

possible, check out Depression #117 with American radar as
noted on the attached maps, if at all Possible. I need to

Roshi,

I took a look at the maps you gave me and pulled a few
strings with the NWB in Oahu. A bud of mine at NWB agrees
with your assessment. Tropical Storm 'Mikado' almost
certainly will move out to sea and shift north again
before hitting the Japanese mainland. I don't think you
need to start looking for typhoons.

As a matter of a fact, he said that there is less than
1 chance in 100 that the depress
typhoon.

Does this match your assessment?

Ern...

---

Cheif Petty Officer Ernest McAtee - USS Minnesota

* * *


Although it was getting kind of grey outside due to the
gathering clouds, for Akane the day dawned bright and early.
With more than a little bit of excitement, she rose and ran to
the bathroom. She brushed her teeth, and ran her hands through
her short hair.

It only took her a few minutes to get dressed and ready
for her day.

Nabiki, on the other hand, did rather badly most
mornings.

"Wake up, Sleepy-head!" Akane demanded, poking her head
into her sister's room.

Nabiki groaned once, and rolled over, pulling herself in
tighter under her down comforter.

A few minutes later, Akane returned, and forcibly pulled
the comforter off her sister. "Get out of bed, Lazy-bones!" she
teased. "You need to start packing!"

"Nnn..." Nabiki grumbled. "Someone is just too damn
cheerful this morning," she complained, blinking her eyes
against the harsh morning light.

"You don't want to miss your flight, do you?" Akane
asked, as she pulled open her sister's closet and began to
rummage through it.

"Flight's not till noon, Akane," Nabiki snapped, gingerly
letting her feet touch the floor.

"You know how father is," her sister countered seriously,
selecting a sun dress from the closet and laying on the bed
next to Nabiki. "The closer it gets to ten, the more worried
he'll get that the plane is leaving early without him."

"Don't remind me."

Akane pulled a pantsuit from the closet and laid it on
top of the sun dress. She pulled out a black skirt, but tucked
it under one arm.

"And this one is mine, Nabiki!" she playfully teased.

"You know," Nabiki noticed. "For as cheerful as you're
acting, someone would think *you* had a trip planned this
week."

Akane said nothing, merely selecting another short dress
for her sister.

"You do, don't you? You and Ranma, right? You little--"

"Akane!" Kasumi's pleasant call came from downstairs.
"Some of your friends are here!"

"I'll be right there," Akane said, turning her back on
her sister.

"Wait, Akane! You didn't answer me!!!" Nabiki commanded,
jumping up and running after the shorter girl.

Waiting in the foyer downstairs, Megumi, Belldandy and
Skuld stood patiently, or impatiently and scanning a nervous
panda, in Skuld's case.

"We've come to help everybody off," Megumi explained.

"Growf?"

"Kasumi-chan," Belldandy greeted her host. "I'll cook
breakfast for your family this morning so you can pack for your
trip."

"Why, thank-you Belldandy-chan!" Kasumi exclaimed,
lightly embracing the other girl. "That's so generous of you!"

Soun looked up from his paper and goggled at the two
girls. He looked back and forth suspiciously between the two
for several minutes.

"C'mon, Akane!" Nabiki demanded. "I *know* something's...
What!?!?" she asked, looking down at the young raven-haired
girl scanning her with a device that looked like it came
straight out of 'Star Trek'.

"Hmmm... no residual morphogenic signature," Skuld mused.
"Still, there's only one way to be sure."

She produced a glass of water and threw it into Nabiki's
unbelieving face.

"AAAAAA!!!! WHAT WAS THAT FOR?!?!" Nabiki screamed aloud.

"Now I think that should be perfectly obvious," Skuld
answered.

"C'mon," Akane gestured to Megumi. "Nabiki's not quite
packed yet. Let's go help her while she changes."

Sputtering, wet, and furious about being splashed, Nabiki
altogether lost her train of thought that led to Ranma and
Akane's plans.


* * *

Wearing his best clothes, i.e. his Chinese army uniform,
Ranma sat on the brickwork just by the fountain in front of
'Yang's' where he was supposed to meet Akane for the day.

Looking across the square, he glanced one more time at
the 'Lacy Doll' just across the street, before checking that,
yes, the wrapped package he held in his lap bore the same name
and logo. He was having a difficult time accepting what he had
just done.

He honestly thought that there would have been a chorus
of 'Hentai' and 'Lecher' as he purchased the garment.

"I... I like this one," he had said, pointing to the lace
garment.

The saleslady gave him a naughty grin, but said nothing.

"I really don't know what size to get," he admitted. He
knew what size he would need if it were for him, he struggled
not to say.

"Do you know her measurements?" the saleslady asked,
pursing her lips as she spoke.

Ranma bit his lip nervously, and pulled the little slip
of paper out of his pocket, the little slip that contained the
three little numbers that were already burned indelibly into
his mind.

The saleslady rifled through the rack, until she came
away with one of the long-sleeved body-suits.

Ranma gulped nervously, seeing for the first time all the
way through the belly and back of the garment. There were
strategically placed clusters of denser lace around the cups
and at the bottom, near the snaps that held the thing together.

Ranma had no illusions about how much they would actually
cover in practice.

"Do you think she'd like stockings to go with it?" the
saleslady asked, gesturing demurely to a featureless mannequin
that was wearing nothing but thigh-high black lace.

Ranma let his teeth to dig into his bottom lip, drawing a
slight amount of blood.

"Yes... I think she would, thank-you." He answered.

So now Ranma sat, almost an hour early for the meeting,
desperately trying to think of how to present this, the most
intimate of gifts, to the woman he loved. If he was lucky,
Ranma thought, then he wouldn't get pounded for being so
provocative.

"I've gotta quit thinking like that!" he hissed aloud.
Akane had promised not to hit him any more. If he *was* going
too far, then she would tell him, and he would... apologize,
and all would be fine.

He hoped.

Ranma sighed, glancing at the clock in the middle of the
square. "Eleven thirty... *sigh*"

* * *

"Shin, look at this..."

"Hmmm?"

The air traffic controller handed his supervisor a
weather map.

"What do you think?" the controller asked.

Shin 'tsked' as he examined the report.

He bit his lip and shook his head.

"Well?"

"Have the ground crews prepare to change the active
runway," Shin advised. "Also, warn all pilots about possible
wind shear conditions."

"I'll do it, boss," the controller answered.

Shin bit his lip again. There was always a little more
chance of an 'incident' when weather was changing like this.
Such a sudden shift in the air currents was a bad omen.


* * *

Elsewhere in the airport, a stewardess fretted over a
problem customer.

"WAAAAAAHHHH!" Soun bellowed as he was being bodily
dragged along the boarding ramp by the stewardess and his best
friend. "My little girl will be all alone!!!!"

"She's got her friends, Tendou," Genma noted, gesturing
to the waving Akane and the three girls who had accompanied
them to the airport. "I'm certain she'll be okay."

"But she'll be all by herself!!!" Soun lamented.

"Akane's a big girl, Father," Kasumi comforted him.
"Right, Tofu-sensei?"

"Uhh... Heh... yes, of course Kasumi. I hope they serve
the honey roasted peanuts as well!"

"So..." Genma whispered in his friend's ear, just as the
walls of the ramp blocked out view of the pre-boarding lounge.
"Which one do you think is Akane's..." he let the question
hang, relying on its suggestive nature to drill it in.

Suddenly serious, but still being pulled up the ramp,
Soun rubbed his slightly stubbled chin. "Hmm... Nabiki dear,"
he asked, pulling out his wallet. "Which one did you say you
saw Akane with?"

Nabiki's eyes lit up at the sight of her father's wallet,
and was about to respond, until she caught Kasumi's firm
expression.

"I'm not sure, Daddy. I really couldn't say," she
answered darkly.

"Give me your wallet, Saotome," Soun commanded.

"But--" the larger man protested.

"I mean, Father," Nabiki corrected, "I *really* don't
know who she is. It was dark... okay?"

Soun grimaced, but accepted his daughter's story at face
value.

"It's the one with the facial tattoos," Genma whispered.

"Hmmm... The younger one, or the older one?" His friend
mulled.

"Older... the younger one's *too* young..." Genma
supposed.

"You're probably right..." Soun admitted.

Genma shook his head and took the opportunity to push his
glasses up just before they boarded the jet. "You remember what
the master always says about women with tattoos..."

* * *

Twelve fifteen.

Ranma glanced nervously at the clouds that were building
overhead. In the back of his mind, he was thinking that they
were probably a result of the tropical storm. Up front however,
he was trying to visualize a situation in which he gave the
lingerie to Akane as a girl and didn't cause a fight.

"I can't think like that!" he chided himself. It wasn't
like he and Akane hadn't even experimented with...

Ranma took a moment to calm himself, flashes of pink
flesh and the red vinyl of their Halloween costumes roaring
through his mind.

Telling himself he was passing the time, Ranma started to
pick out 'hiding' places around the square where he could stay
dry. As the clouds above began to grow darker, he gave brief
thought to hiding inside Yang's if it started to look like it
was going to drizzle.

Akane might not think to look in there, he reasoned.
Perhaps it would be good to try to find someplace in sight, but
out of the rain. Possibly, he could take shelter under the
narrow awning of the video store across the street. Would Akane
see him there when she came to meet him?

Ranma shifted nervously on his brick perch.

The first drop of rain fell on his cheek.

* * *

"Hiroshi!"

"Hmm?" The weatherman sipped at his coffee before turning
around. "What is it, boss?"

"It look's like 'Mikado' is turning late," the weather
bureau chief for the University of Tokyo stated, holding out
several pages of printouts. "It's also starting to rain over in
Nerima district."

"Wha--" Hiroshi took another long gulp of coffee as he
studied the satellite maps. "Shit!" he yelled angrily, slamming
the cup down on his desk.

"What?!?!"

"I burned my mouth!"

"Oh..."

Hiroshi shook his head over the printouts. "Still, this
isn't good. It was supposed to have turned North by now. It's
getting too damn big."

"You're not saying..."

Hiroshi shrugged. "*If* it does hit, it'll be a class 1
or 2 until it peters out. That could take any where from twelve
hours to five days."

The boss sighed at length. "Do we issue a warning,
Hiroshi?"

"Well, that would mean calling the TV networks and
everything and..."

"'Yes' or 'No' answer, Hiroshi," his boss cut him off.

Hiroshi thought carefully for several seconds.

"Yes," he said finally and formally. "I'm estimating that
there's a fifty percent chance that it will actually come
overland at this time.

"Those are bad enough odds for me," the chief replied.

"Okay," Hiroshi acknowledged, "But you gotta call the
networks!"

* * *

From the train station near the airport, there was only
one connection to board the train that would take the girls to
the station nearest Ranma's apartment and the university.
Conversation between the four was light, until they started to
notice the rapidly darkening sky overhead.

"That just looks nasty," Megumi noted.

The other girls nodded in agreement.

"I wonder if Ranma's noticed this yet," Akane wondered,
vaguely concerned for the martial artist.

Skuld was doing quite a bit of work on a portable
computer, Akane noticed, and occasionally aiming a sensor
through the train window at the sky.

"What's the forecast, Skuld-chan?" Belldandy asked.

"Not good. The television networks are only now starting
to issue weather warnings. They all thought that the typhoon
was supposed to move back out to sea. Morons!"

"Now, now, Skuld," Belldandy chided her sister. "Human
meteorologists don't have quite the technology available to
them that they really need for accurate predictions yet. Give
them a little while, and they'll get better."

Skuld nodded irritatedly. Akane and Megumi both had to
work to keep from giggling at the girl's ire.

The train slowed and pulled into a short tunnel that led
into the train station itself. The girls gathered their
belongings. For Akane, this was a full overnight bag. She was a
little bit embarrassed about it, but the other girls hadn't
said anything about the bag yet, even if she was fairly certain
that both Megumi and Belldandy knew what it was for.

The four girls hurried through the hallways of the
station which were almost deserted due to the growing storm.
They were almost out to the door when a dark figure leapt out
in front of them from a darkened alcove.

Megumi shrieked as she was startled but Akane dropped her
bag and fell into one of the strong defensive stances that
Ranma had taught her.

The filthy figure raised his face and produced a bokken,
which he leveled at Akane.

Akane and the other girls made noises of disgust at his
appearance and odor.

It was Kunou, and he looked like hell. His clothes were
rumpled and wrinkled and even from a distance, all four girls
could tell that he was in severe need of a bath. His hair was
mussed beyond recognition and there was a large grimy, sticky
spot on his hakama where someone had spilled a soda on him
several hours earlier. An old ice-cream wrapper was stuck to
one of his sandals and one leg of the hakama had ripped almost
to the knee.

Worse, Kunou's face revealed his lack of sleep. He looked
weary and tired, as if he had been up all night, but there was
a fanatic burning in his eyes. Kunou's body looked tired, but
his weariness and exhaustion cast a frightening, zealous glow.
With a motion that was almost too quick for the humans in the
group to follow, Kunou slashed his bokken back and forth once
and held it at the ready position.

Akane started, partly in shock, and a little in fear. She
had to remind herself that even before Ranma's extensive
training that she was usually more than a match for the Blue
Thunder.

"Kunou-sempai!" she stated nervously. "Did you spend all
night here at the station?"

"SILENCE!!!!" Kunou bellowed. His voice was unstable.
"Know this, Akane Tendou! Now that I have at last followed your
path to its conclusion, your days of servitude to the foul
demon Saotome are over!"

"Demon?" Skuld whispered. "Did he say demon?"

"I'm sure he meant it metaphorically, Skuld-chan,"
Belldandy explained.

"Nay!" Kunou shouted back, overhearing the private
exchange. "For there is none baser nor fouler than the dread
Ranma Saotome. Verily doth he thwart my every plan to free both
Akane and the lovely Pigtailed Girl from his dire clutches!
This effrontery has persisted for far too long. Now fight me,
Akane Tendou. Should you win, I would allow you to date me!
Should I win, I will gladly grace you with my presence."

"Maybe you should go home and take a bath, Kunou," Akane
suggested. "I'm certain the we can talk about this later."

"The time for words is long past," Kunou ranted
eloquently. "Now defend yourself, Akane, so that my tender
mercies may discipline you away from the foul sorcerer."

"Damn!" Akane hissed. "He's serious!"

"He's seriously bent," Megumi commented.

"I'm going to have to fight him," Akane responded,
kicking off her shoes. "Try to get around him while I distract
him."

"Akane-san," Belldandy asked in concern. "Are you going
to be okay?'

Akane nodded. "I used to trash Kunou all the time before
I started going out with Ranma. Seriously, this shouldn't be
any big deal."

It *was* a big deal, Akane found out as Kunou lunged at
her. Ranma's training had driven into her a need and the
ability to read her opponents, so as Akane dodged out of the
way and attempted to drive a foot into Kunou's mid-section, she
could tell that he was far, far beyond feeling any pain. He
lashed out again, doing his best to knock Akane down, rather
than hit or cut her.

When Kunou shrugged off one of her best uppercuts, Akane
began to tremble slightly.

Megumi, Belldandy, and Skuld attempted to dodge past the
enraged kendoist, but Kunou blocked their way with a bokken
strike. Megumi skidded to a halt and nearly fell over backwards
to keep from being hit.

"Nay, fair ones! Do not flee the wrath of Tatewaki Kunou,
for you shall bear witness to Akane's defeat at my hands so
that no one may doubt to whom she truly belongs!"

"I don't belong to *anybody*, Kunou!" Akane yelled out,
striking Kunou in the face with the heel of her palm. He took
the blow and bounced back, apparently never feeling it. "Fight
me, Kunou!" Akane demanded. "And leave my friends alone!"

"So be it, my tiger-hearted goddess. Now feel the fury of
Blue Thunder. YAAH!" he screamed as he began madly slashing at
Akane.

Akane dodged what blows she could. Not nearly as many as
Ranma, but more than she had ever been able to before. The
bokken strikes she couldn't dodge, she turned aside with quick,
glancing blows of her fists. The occasional slash that did get
through hurt Akane, though. One landed on her shoulder, and the
other on her ribs. She was certain that both would bruise
horribly.

"STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE STRIKE
STRIKE..."

Kunou was fighting insanely, Akane noticed. His strikes
and blows followed no real pattern, and he was leaving himself
almost completely open to attack while he fought.

There was no help for it, Akane knew. Wanting to end the
fight quickly, she took another glancing blow to the ribs, and
dove forward towards Kunou's relatively undefended body. She
drove her right knee into his gut and brought it up into his
chin before he could react.

Kunou spit blood and fell backwards.

"Run!" Akane yelled at her friends.

Nodding, Megumi grabbed Skuld's arm and led her past the
stunned kendoist and out the door of the train station.
Belldandy followed close behind. Akane took a few steps away
from her attacker and stood just outside the doorway.

"I... yield... not..." Kunou grunted, and struggled to
his feet. A line of blood ran down his chin and onto his chest.
He slashed back and forth again, as if he was cutting at the
weariness that plagued him, and stumbled out the door after
them.

Akane narrowed her eyes. "Let's stop this now, Kunou.
You're tired and dirty. I promise that if you go home, we can
talk about this some other time."

"Will talk heal my broken heart, Akane Tendou?" Kunou
demanded angrily. "Nay, for only the possession of what is
rightfully mine will soothe my savage breast."

Akane shook her head. He beyond reason. She hoped that
she wasn't going to have to injure him. "I'm not your
'possession', Kunou," she snapped back. "I never was, no matter
how often you imagined it. Now are you going to go home?"

"No!"

"Fine." Akane lunged.

Megumi gasped and Belldandy's hand went to her mouth in
surprise. Akane had darted in to strike at the kendoist at a
speed that defied description. She struck with both fists at
once, hammering Kunou in the face and chest. Her blows were so
rapid that he couldn't even raise his bokken to defend himself
against them. They sought out all his vulnerable points and
pounded them dozens of times over.

Before he could react, Akane jumped back out of range and
tried to catch her breath.

She hadn't *quite* managed a true Kachuu Tenshin
Amiguriken speed attack, but she was close enough.

Kunou staggered, his bokken clattering to the sidewalk.

"I.... *haff* yield..... not...."

"He's not dead yet?" Skuld asked incredulously.

"You know, Sempai?" Akane huffed in anger and
frustration. "The thing I really *hate* about you is that you
just won't go *DOWN*! KUNOU NO BAKA!!!!"

She ran in and drop-kicked the kendoist.

Kunou was unconscious by the time he landed.

"Come on!" Akane commanded as a light drizzle began to
dampen the four girls, trying to put the fight behind her. "We
need to find Ranma before it really starts to rain."

Skuld shook her head. "If there's a typhoon coming in,
then we need to get back to the temple and board up the
windows."

"I'm certain that Keiichi-san is already working on it,"
Belldandy noted trustingly.

Akane nodded. "I should do the same for the dojo. I'll
find Ranma and we'll go board it up together."

"I'll help board up the temple," Megumi offered. "And
once we're done, I'll help you and Ranma, too!"

Akane nodded, and the four girls took off in two
directions.

* * *

"Damnit..." Ranma muttered as she ran through the rain
that was now pouring through the town. She held the bag of
lingerie under her bowed head to keep the water from getting
into the bag and soaking through the paper wrapping.

There wasn't any help for it. She might have even waited
in the rain for Akane, had she not had the gift with her. As it
was, she didn't want Akane's present to get ruined. She wasn't
certain if rainwater would harm the delicate fabric, but was
unwilling to take the chance. She also didn't want to present
Akane with a soggy gift.

Ranma grumbled, but soon approached her apartment
building. She ran in the front door, taking time to shake the
rain out of her hair. In the elevator, she took the paper
wrapped package out of the bag to ensure that it had not gotten
wet at all. She breathed a sigh of relief and stepped out of
the elevator at the her floor.

She walked into her room and tossed the package on the
futon. Leaving the door unlocked in case Akane showed up, she
stepped into the bathroom she shared with Megumi to shower off
and change back.

A few seconds after the water began to run in the
bathroom the front door opened, ever so slightly.

Almost half a minute passed. The only sound in the room
was the gentle hiss of running water behind a closed door.

The door opened more fully and Kodachi Kunou stepped
inside.

She smiled broadly, biting her lip to keep from laughing
in triumph. She had followed Ranma back from the square in
front of the Chinese food restaurant where she had seen the
pigtailed girl and Akane making their diabolical plans.

Leaping from rooftop to rooftop, she lost track of the
pigtailed martial artist when it began to rain and concentrated
on catching a glimpse of the green uniform her most beloved had
been wearing. After only a few seconds, she came across the
pigtailed girl wearing a uniform just like Ranma's.

She wanted to be with Ranma, but this was too good an
opportunity to dispose of one of her rivals to ignore. Besides,
where Ranma went, the pigtailed girl usually followed. Chances
were that wherever she wound up in following the wicked harlot
would leave her in close proximity to Ranma.

Kodachi carefully closed the door behind her and
discarded her raincoat. Wearing a pretty dress, she stepped in
and began to examine Ranma's prison. It was tiny and ugly,
surely not befitting a proud warrior such as her beloved.
Worse, in quite a few places there were pictures of that
horrible little beast, Akane Tendou! They were left, no doubt,
to remind Ranma of his captivity.

Her eyes finally came to rest on Ranma's futon, and the
package she had seen him with earlier.

"Hmm..." she wondered quietly. It could be nothing, she
supposed, but it might be a present for *her*! Akane or the
pigtailed girl would no doubt confiscate and destroy the gift
once they realized that Ranma had bought it, so she stepped
over and opened it without a second thought.

Kodachi reddened once she saw what was inside the
package. "Oh, Ranma-sama, you daring, wicked man! Of course
I'll accept your gift!"

* * *

Kunou came to a painful consciousness once the rain began
to pound down on him and ran up his nose. He shook his head and
pushed his wet hair out of his eyes and began to look around
for Akane.

He was a little ways away from the train station where
Akane, like a shy schoolgirl, had run away from him. He
grimaced in pain as he tried to stand, remembering how
exuberantly forceful her running away had been.

"I am quite impressed, Akane Tendou!" he declared out
loud, using his bokken as a crutch. "But you shall be mine, no
doubt!"

Now if only he could remember where the foul sorcerer
Saotome's apartment was...

* * *

Ranma stepped out of the shower and began to towel
himself off. Happy and male, he used the towel to strip the
water off his arms and legs. Dry, he wrapped another towel
around his waist.

He heard the door open while he was in the shower, so
Akane must have made her way into his room when he wasn't at
the meeting place. Ranma shook out his bath towel and hung it
on a hook next to one of Megumi's and opened the door to his
room, holding the other towel up with one hand..

"Hey, Akane. I'm sorry I--"

What lay on his futon was most definitely *not* Akane.

"Ohhhh, Ranma-sama!"

"Oh, hell..."

Kodachi lay on his futon. Ranma's brain seemed to not
want to recognize that fact. No matter how he looked at it,
however, there was no mistaking the situation.

Worse, Ranma thought in shock, she was clad in sheer
lingerie and thigh high stockings. Her nipples and thick black
delta were clearly visible through the transparent lace as she
sensuously ran her hands down her torso and over her hips.
Starting in anger and ripping his eyes away from her delicately
exposed body, he saw the 'Lacy Doll' package torn open on the
floor next to his futon.

Ranma clenched his fists in fury. Kodachi had broken into
his apartment and was wearing the bodysuit and stockings he had
bought specially for Akane!

"Kodachi..." he growled, his rage growing.

"Oh, my darling Ranma," she breathed back. "What a
wonderful man you are. How could you have known just what I
wanted? Mmmmm..." she purred, lifting one stockinged leg into
the air and running her hand along it, offering Ranma a naughty
glimpse of what was only concealed by a thin wisp of sheer
lace. She pulled her hand back and cupped her breasts through
the lace embroidery, making appreciative moans and fixing Ranma
with a seductive stare all the while.

Ranma's face twisted in rage. He was so mad that he
wanted to strike at the apparition in front of him. She... she
was ruining everything! She had taken Akane's gift and...
and... and...

"Get out..." he growled again, his fists balling up and
his shoulders hunching over in anger. He turned his head so
that he didn't have to see his gift ruined. "Get out, NOW!"

"You're so playful, Ranma-sama!" Kodachi exclaimed. She
rolled forward and hopped onto her stocking feet. She took a
step towards Ranma, her arms out to embrace him. "Come to me,
my love," she pleaded.

"GET AWAY FROM ME!!!!"

"Don't refuse my love, Ranma-sama," Kodachi begged,
throwing her arms around the angry martial-artist.

"DAMNITT! LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!"

Ranma struggled to get away, but Kodachi was more intent
on rubbing herself against Ranma's frame than avoiding being
pushed or prodded. She wasn't about to let go.

Then, to Ranma's horror, the door opened.

* * *

Lightning struck off in the distance, and the winds were
picking up. Akane was thoroughly soaked, and not getting any
dryer. It was a good thing her bag was watertight. She *really*
wanted to get to a radio or television to hear the weather
report. As it was, she was going to be satisfied getting to the
safety of Ranma's apartment.

After several minutes of running in the now-horizontal
rain and winds that were threatening to knock her light body
over, Akane finally made her way to the stark grey building.
Maintenance workers were boarding over the glass front doors,
so Akane darted into a service entrance on the side of the
building and ran up the steel stairs.

At the fifth floor, she opened the door into the main
building and ran down to Ranma's room. She was keyed up from
the violence of the storm outside and excited about seeing
Ranma. She was fairly trembling with one kind of arousal or
another.

She stopped, and put her hand on the doorknob. It was
unlocked, so Ranma must already be there, away from the rain.

Smiling, she pushed the door open.

Akane's smile fell. She gasped, dropping her bag. Her
hands went to her face in terror.

"No..." Akane breathed.

Kodachi was there...

She was... almost naked. Akane's jaw worked in disbelief
and horror. She was wearing sheer lingerie and her body was
draped over Ranma. Ranma, from what she could see, was mostly
naked as well. He might have been wearing his boxers, but Akane
couldn't tell since one of Kodachi's legs was wrapped around
his waist.

Ranma's... hands....

Akane gulped, not wanting to believe what she was seeing.

Ranma's hands were on Kodachi's body.

"No... please... no..." Akane began to cry.

"OHOHOHOHOHOHOH!" Kodachi laughed merrily. "But it is
true, Akane! Ranma-sama is mine now!"

"NO!!!" Akane screamed.

"Oh God no, Akane, this isn't what it looks like!" Ranma
declared.

Her eyes wide and staring, Akane took two trembling steps
back from the doorway. She turned and fled.

"NO! AKANE!!!!"

* * *

"What are you doing, Daughter," Soun asked.

"It's the latest thing, Daddy," Nabiki explained, holding
up the flat screen she was holding. "You can get one of these
from the stewardess and play videos or watch TV."

She turned in her seat to afford her father a better view
of the gadget. Behind her, Genma poked his head up over her
headrest to gaze on it as well.

"Quite an invention, eh, Tendou?" the bulky martial
artist commented. "Why, when I was flying back from Hong Kong,
the only real entertainment we had was a squawking chicken!"

"I thought you said that was a JAL flight, and that they
played a Pauley Shore movie, Saotome," Soun countered.

"Like I said... a squawking chicken," Genma defended his
answer.

Nabiki grimaced, but continued her explanation. "You can
get movies, cartoons, sports--"

"See if there's a sumo basho on, Tendou," Genma
suggested.

"And Japanese and American news," Nabiki finished. "See?"

"And in other news, typhoon 'Mikado' has crossed onto the
Japanese mainland over the island of Honshu. While the storm is
considered relatively light in severity, all Tokyo residents
are being advised to take shelter and stay away from windows."

Soun, Genma and Nabiki stared in shock at the tiny news
broadcast.

"As previously forecasted, the typhoon was expected to
turn North and drift back out to sea. This unexpected turn of
events is not expected to cause severe damage to Tokyo, but
light to moderate damage is possible and expected."

"MY LITTLE GIRL!!!!" Soun began to wail.

"Calm down, Daddy!" Nabiki hissed. "It's only a bad
storm."

"We have to turn the plane around right now!" Soun
pleaded. "We have to go back now!"

Genma grunted in displeasure and concern.

"What's wrong, Father?" Kasumi asked from across the
aisle, where she and Dr. Tofu were sitting. Carefully checking
the 'fasten seat belts' sign, Kasumi undid hers so that she
could see what had upset her father so.

"We have to go back to save Akane!" Soun wailed
hysterically.

Kasumi examined the news broadcast on the tiny screen.
"Oh, it's too late, now, Father. They've closed the airport.
The best we can do is make sure Akane is okay once we get to
the hotel. The storm has already started."

* * *

The horrible image of Kodachi and Ranma together was
burned into Akane's eyes as she ran aimlessly down the hallway.

"AKANE! NO!!!!" A voice called out behind her.

Paying no heed to the voice, Akane careened into a
concrete support column near the side of the hallway since her
eyes were bleary with tears. She was knocked on her ass, but
felt no pain, since the pain in her heart was already
overwhelming. She staggered to her feet and continued her
flight, more running from the image in her mind of Ranma's
hands all over Kodachi's near-naked body.

*His hands roamed up and down her lace clad torso with
wild abandon as Kodachi began to obscenely lick his neck. All
Akane could do was stand nearby and watch helplessly.*

Akane's world was shattered. Every last foundation came
crashing down on her. Not really caring that she bruised her
arm running into the elevator, she punched several of the
buttons and collapsed in the corner to cry.

Ranma, having finally worked himself free of Kodachi's
embrace, tumbled out into the hall just in time to see the
elevator doors close on the dark-haired girl.

He stood and straightened his towel.

Kodachi knelt in his doorway, still clad in only the
lingerie that he had bought for Akane.

If looks could kill, Kodachi would have been vaporized on
the spot. As it was, she misinterpreted his burning glare as
intent.

"Oh, take me now, Ranma-sama! Now that that annoying
little alley-cat is out of the way, we can be together with no
interruptions!"

Ranma's lip curled in unholy rage. He felt the feelings
building again like they had so many months ago when he first
abandoned the Tendou Dojo. It had been a mistake, he realized
darkly, to stop being so careful about guarding his location
from all his old... acquaintances.

His entire body trembling in almost uncontrolled fury,
Ranma raised one open palm.

"Oooh! Do you want to play those kinds of games, Ranma-
sama?" Kodachi asked, rising to her knees and stretching her
arms behind her back to provide her love with the best view of
her barely concealed assets. "Punish me, Ranma-sama! Punish me
until I displease you no more! Show me the measure of your love
by your discipline. Love me harshly, Ranma-sama!"

Ranma blinked. He couldn't do it. His hand fell
uselessly, impotently to his side. He couldn't bring himself to
hit her unprovoked like this. The sexual manner in which she
begged disgusted him. How could she be so--

"That little Tendou whore will never know your love, will
she, Darling?" Kodachi asked, running one hand down her side
and over her hip.

Ranma dropped her with a single blow to the temple. The
girl collapsed in an unconscious heap at his feet. Much to his
relief, Kodachi twisted as she fell so that her assets were
mostly hidden underneath her.

"That's for calling Akane a whore," Ranma declared. "And
this," he stated as he trod roughly on her back as he walked
back inside the apartment, "is for stealing her present. Rot in
hell, Nutcase."

Ranma quickly located and donned his clothes and ran back
out into the hallway. If only he could get Akane to understand
what had happened...

By the time he reached the elevator, the floor indicator
read 'PG', which led Ranma to believe that Akane had made her
way down to the basement parking garage underneath the complex.
Ranma ran in and hit the button.

* * *

Akane ran out of the front of the building and into the
storm. It had gotten much worse since she first went inside.
Even the maintenance workers were gone, no doubt safe in some
sheltered area. The rain poured down in blinding sheets and she
staggered against the wind, desperately trying her best to keep
her tiny body upright.

"Oh God, why?" she wailed out loud, her voice lost in the
howling wind.

She staggered almost a half block away from the apartment
building, fighting the wind and rain every step of the way when
a dark shape loomed up out of the rain.

"No..." Akane hissed.

"Akane Tendou!" Tatewaki Kunou shouted over howl of the
rain and wind. "Now you will be mine. Submit yourself to me!"

Akane lurched back, horrified. Kunou's wet hair whipped
all around him in a terrifying nimbus. His bruised body stood
upright, unmoved by the elements. His eyes were totally devoid
of anything even close to reason.

Worse, he had abandoned his wooden bokken in favor of a
steel katana. Akane gulped upon seeing the razor edge of the
sword.

"Now, Akane Tendou!" Kunou cried out, striking with his
blade.

Akane dodged, barely avoiding the cutting edge. She cried
out in horror.

"Take this!" Kunou bellowed. "And this! And this! Let my
blazing sword be the light of my love for you!"

He backed her up against an alley wall in almost no time.

"Now, Akane Tendou, I will take back from Saotome what is
rightfully mine!" he cried, reaching for her blouse.

Akane ducked and rolled under his arm, barely avoiding
having her blouse ripped away. Kunou lashed out, catching Akane
on the ribs with the back of his sword as she rolled past.
Akane cried out at the painful blow, but staggered to her feet
and ran weakly back to the apartment, the wind blowing her
along and causing her to stumble. She had never felt so weak or
so powerless.


* * *

Ranma grimaced and growled in anger. Akane wasn't in the
parking garage, and when he returned to his own floor, Kodachi
was already missing from his apartment. Realizing that Akane
must have left the building, Ranma reentered the elevator and
went down to the ground floor. He was just about to open one of
the boarded over doors and start to search outside, when the
door flew open and Akane darted inside.

"Akane!"

She was terrified, her eyes opened wide with panic and
pain. She was breathing in great, heaving gasps and clutching
her side just below her breast. Ranma didn't see any blood, but
from he way the girl was moving, it looked like she had been
badly bruised.

"Get away from my Ranma-sama, you little hussy!"
Kodachi's voice declared from above.

"What the--?" Ranma and Akane both looked up.

Still wearing the sheer lingerie, Kodachi burst out of
the ceiling tile, gymnastics clubs at the ready.

"In the ceiling?" Ranma wondered out loud, stunned.

Akane noticed a dark lump on Kodachi's forehead. Had
somebody hit her?

At almost the same time Kodachi hit the floor, the doors
burst in, the howling wind blowing rain and broken glass into
the lobby of the building. Kunou stood in the open doorway, his
body soaked, his wet hair streaming around his head and his
mouth almost frothing.

"Wonderful," Ranma hissed, dropping into a defensive
stance. "Blue blunder has gone bye-bye. Stay sharp, Akane!"
Ranma shouted as he faced Kunou.

Kunou lunged in, trying to seek out Ranma's blood with
his katana.

Kodachi, her eyes narrowed in anger, lashed out at Akane
with one of her clubs. Still confused, Akane dodged to one side
and chopped Kodachi's wrist, sending the club flying.

"You horrid little girl," Kodachi hissed, drawing out a
ribbon. "Why didn't you just stay away?"

Akane didn't dignify the girl's barb with a response. It
was funny, she thought to herself as she dropped into a
defensive stance similar to Ranma's. It seemed like all her
strength was returning as she fought back to back with Ranma.
The image of Ranma and Kodachi pawing each other was still
burned into her mind, but it seemed abstract somehow, as if she
had imagined it. She was cold, wet, and scared, but she didn't
want to be anywhere else than where she was.

Kodachi sent her ribbon ripping towards Akane.

Akane let it snap around her arm, coiling and bunching
like a python. She twisted her arm and caught the ribbon with
her fingers.

Kodachi, refusing to let go of the ribbon, was drawn in
towards Akane when she began to pull. There was an odd,
expectant expression on the gymnast's face, as if she thought
she was invulnerable. Her expression shattered into disbelief
as Akane drove her tightly clenched fist into Kodachi's gut.

The girl was thrown back and lost her grip on the ribbon.
Akane threw it to one side.

"*Haff*... How dare you?!?!" Kodachi choked out in
protest. Fight by the rules, commoner!"

Akane just reached around and backhanded the girl across
the face as hard as she could.

Kodachi went down, splashing in a large puddle of
rainwater on the floor. Dazedly, she probed at her lips, which
were bleeding. For a second, she looked around in disbelief as
if she didn't understand what was going on. "You... YOU...
YOU.... DIE, TENDOU!!!" she screamed.

Kodachi launched herself at Akane and began to pound on
the girl with her fists like a child pounds the floor in a
tantrum. It was obvious to Akane, who was easily dodging or
blocking the blows, that Kodachi was quite useless without her
gymnastics tools.

Akane suddenly realized how badly she was out-classing
the taller girl. It must have been Ranma's training. Kodachi
wasn't landing *anything* that Akane couldn't easily block.
Confidence and strength surged through her. Akane smiled,
knowing that she had already won the fight.

Akane blocked an angry fist and tagged Kodachi's face
hard enough to make her spit blood again.

"That does it! KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF ME!!" Kodachi
screamed. She jumped into the air, her fists aimed at Akane's
face.

Time seemed to slow for Akane. Kodachi seemed to be
floating in front of her.

With one arm held in a guarded position, Akane lashed out
with her other fist, hitting a vulnerable spot on Kodachi's
ribcage. She lashed out again, blackening the girl's left eye.
She lashed out again... and again... and...

"KACHUU TENSHIN AMAGURIKEN!!!" Akane screamed, unleashing
dozens of blows to Kodachi's vulnerable points in just a few
seconds. Kodachi flew back and impacted the wall behind her.

Ranma couldn't help but whip around when he heard the
battle cry and felt the rising aura behind him. Akane's fists
cut the air like knives. He smiled at Akane, but paid for it
with his distraction as the hilt of Kunou's katana caught him
against the side of the head, bruising his ear.

Back in combat-mode, angry at himself for being
distracted, Ranma turned and dealt the kendoist a vicious
uppercut. Kunou went flying, but picked himself back up off the
ground and charged Ranma again.

*This is getting bad,* Ranma thought to himself. He was
using almost-crippling blows to attack Kunou, but the kendoist
was so far gone in rage that he wasn't feeling any of the
injuries Ranma was handing out. Taking a cue from Akane, Ranma
unleashed an Amaguriken-speed volley of punches and kicks that
put the taller boy down for a second or two.

Feeling a throbbing in her skull and chest, Kodachi
blinked her way back to consciousness. She was slumped against
the wall, lying in a puddle of dirty rainwater. She hurt like
she had never hurt before and Akane, the girl who had done this
to her, wasn't even looking at her.

Instead, she was watching Ranma-sama fight with Kodachi's
brother.

Ranma dodged underneath a swipe of Kunou's blade and
rolled towards the open door. A blast of cold water from the
storm outside blew in, drenching the martial artist.

Kodachi blinked, unsure of what she had just seen. Did
Ranma-sama just... *become*... the...

"No..." she cried, her voice just barely above a weak
whisper.

"PIGTAILED GIRL!" Kunou screamed, his katana still at the
ready. "Verily, I have come to nobly free you from your cruel
enslavement!"

Ranma eeped and dodged back away from the groping
kendoist, moving through the doorway and outside the building
into the brunt of the storm. Kunou leapt after her and managed
to grab her roughly around the midsection, groping crudely at
one of the girl's breasts.

"Free this, Kunou!" Akane yelled, running out into the
storm and throwing a punch at the side of the distracted
kendoist's head.

Kunou took the hit and stumbled in the driving rain,
losing his grip on Ranma. He turned around and lashed at Akane
with his katana.

Akane screamed in pain. She was too close to dodge the
swing. Kunou sliced open her forearm in a long, shallow gash.
Driven by the rain, blood began to pour down Akane's arm.

"Hold, fiery Akane! Your turn to battle Blue Thunder
shall come anon! I must first capture mighty pigtailed girl
before I can turn my attention to you, fair one!"

"Akane!" Ranma cried out, panicked and enraged.

"I'm okay!" Akane shouted over the roaring wind. She
gripped the wound with her hand, holding it closed and applying
as much pressure as she could to try to stop the bleeding.
"Just put him out!" she yelled, running back into the building.

Kodachi blinked, not believing what she's seen. Ranma-
sama had just become the pigtailed girl and her brother had
seriously hurt Akane, a girl he claimed to love. What madness
was this? She staggered to her

"Okay, you asshole," Ranma screamed. "You just did the
one thing that's gonna earn you a trip to the morgue." She
leapt for Kunou, easily dodging the katana strikes and driving
her foot into his chin.

Kunou was knocked down, but staggered back to his feet.

"I fight on!" he yelled back in defiance.

He raised his katana and started a vicious slashing
attack that crossed back and forth in front of Ranma.

Unwilling to risk being caught with Kunou's blade, Ranma
allowed herself to be backed into the building. Eventually,
Kunou's katana slashed into the wall and stuck. Steaming water
from the boiler line behind the surface of the wall began to
spray out, mixing with the cold rain.

Ranma was caught in the spray once again, this time
changing back into a man.

"What have you done with the pigtailed girl?!?" Kunou
screamed, his rage increasing as he tried to dislodge his sword
from its metal trap

Kodachi boggled, falling back to her knees. Ranma's
fighting movements didn't even change when he transformed. It
was true... and her brother couldn't see that.

Akane glanced at her as she clutched at her bloody arm.

"This is for tearing up my place," Ranma hissed, driving
his fist into Kunou's face, bloodying the kendoist's nose. "And
this is for grabbing me," he yelled, punching Kunou again.

Defiantly, Kunou strained, trying to pull his sword out
of the wall.

"And this is for cutting Akane, you asshole!"

Kodachi had never seen a blow so powerful. Her brother
was bleeding freely from his nose and mouth as he fell away
from Ranma's fist, his hands finally losing their grip on his
katana.

Exhausted, Ranma staggered over to Akane and peered at
her wounded arm. "Are you okay?"

Akane nodded. The wound was not life threatening, but it
would definitely need medical attention soon. She would be
lucky if it didn't leave a large scar.

Kodachi crawled over to her brother and checked for a
pulse. He was still alive, but his face was bruised beyond
recognition and he was bleeding from both ears.

"Ranma-sama," she called out.

Ranma ignored her. He had ripped a piece of his Chinese
shirt away, dampened it in the warm stream of water from the
boiler line, and was using to clean Akane's wound.

"Ranma-sama."

"Haven't you done enough?" Ranma asked angrily, whipping
around to face her. "What? Did you think I'd be *happy* you
intruded on my personal life and tried to hurt the woman I
love?"

The stream from the broken boiler line suddenly went cold
and surged, splashing both Ranma and Akane with chilly water.
Ranma changed again.

"Moron," she insulted the gymnast in a cold voice.

Kodachi stared on in quiet horror. He... he... she... was
angry. At her. At Kodachi. The gymnast, wearing the tattered
remains of the lingerie... that Ranma... had... had *not*
bought for her, began to feel ashamed.

"I... fight... on!" Kunou shouted, lurching to a sitting
position.

Kodachi grabbed one of her discarded clubs and rapped him
across the back of the head.

"Sister... dearest?" he asked just before he passed back
out.

"You really do have no idea, do you?" She asked in a
haughty, accusing tone. Still, inside, she felt horrible. Ranma
*hated* her.

Kunou burbled, as the bleeding from his nose started to
wane.

"Is he okay?" Akane asked in concern, still holding her
injured arm.

Kodachi scowled, her face red with embarrassment and
misery. "I'm certain he'll survive, and if he doesn't, would
you really be upset?"

Akane raised her eyebrows at the statement. Ranma just
stared at her coldly.

Kodachi turned away, not able to face either one of them
any more. Feeling more horrible than she ever had before, she
reached down and hefted her brother across her shoulders.
Staggering under the weight, she lurched out into the storm.

* * *

"Who knew?" Hiroshi Tanaka wondered out loud as he
watched the bulk of the storm approach the Japanese mainland on
radar.

'Mikado' was going to top out as a Class 1 typhoon, so
even though there was no evacuation warning, there probably
wouldn't be any real damage or injury caused by the storm. It
was a big blowhard, and nothing more.

He sipped his coffee and swore as he burned his mouth
again.

* * *

"MY LITTLE GIRL IS ALL ALONE!!!!" Soun wailed.

"Really, Daddy," Nabiki complained, glancing around at
all the other travellers in the Honolulu International Airport.
There were a good number of Japanese there that could
understand what he was saying and knew enough about the storm
to understand why he was upset, but there were more Americans
and people from other countries that just stared in awe at the
raving Japanese man. "You need to calm down. I'm certain that
Akane's okay."

"It's official, Tendou," Genma stated as he walked up out
of the crowd. "They've canceled all flights into or out of
Narita for today and tomorrow. The girl at the JAL counter
wouldn't even tell me when the first flight back was
scheduled."

"We'll hike back, then!" Soun declared, defiantly
shouldering his back-pack and hefting his small travel-bag. "I
won't allow my baby daughter to face this horror all by
herself!"

"There is the small matter of a few thousand miles of
ocean to cross, Daddy," Nabiki reminded him. "You don't mind
swimming, do you?"

"It's pointless, Tendou," Genma protested. "Even if we
did manage to get a boat or *ahem*... swim, it would still be
faster to wait here for the next flight."

"WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!"

Kasumi, Tofu and his mother walked back over to the group
from a cluster of pay-phones.

"I can't reach Akane at the dojo," Kasumi explained,
putting a finger to her wailing father's lips. "But that
probably means that she's found shelter with her friends," she
concluded.

*She's with Ranma,* Nabiki guessed, *and Kasumi knows
it.*

"Really, Father," Kasumi said, comforting the man. "Akane
will be just fine. She has angels watching over her, you know."


* * *

Akane did indeed have angels watching her.

As a matter of fact, she had two. Only moments after
Kodachi and Kunou disappeared into the rain, a certain BMW
motorcycle drove up, protected from the rain and wind by a
magical bubble. On board were Keiichi, Megumi, and Belldandy as
well as Skuld in miniature form. Trying to keep from getting
more soaked, the four rushed into the damaged lobby of the
apartment building.

Upon seeing what had happened, Belldandy instantly took
Akane's arm and began to examine the cut.

"Is she going to be all right, Onee-sama?" Skuld asked.

"Of course, Skuld. Do you want to help me heal Akane-
chan's injury?"

Skuld nodded nervously and stepped forward. As Belldandy
began to chant quietly, Skuld began to glow. Both seemed a
little tired afterwards, but Skuld quickly pulled out an ice
cream crunch bar and began to snarf it up.

"They're really using too much power," Keiichi commented,
"But Skuld's providing a lot of the energy so that Bell-chan
can do more in the way of control. It's still exhausting--"

"But this is an emergency," Belldandy cut him off. "I'll
be all right. Your home still needs to be protected against the
storm, doesn't it, Akane?"

The girl nodded. "I couldn't ask you to help, Belldandy."

"It's okay," Megumi said. "Skuld made these for us!"

She pulled three rifle-like devices from the sidecar of
Keiichi's motorcycle. They had tanks on the top that sloshed
back and forth with a thick green liquid. They looked rather
like water guns.

"We can use these to cover the windows and doors,"
Keiichi explained. "Right, Skuld?"

The smallest goddess nodded confidently, still chewing
eagerly on her ice-cream bar.

The ride was tight, but after making sure Ranma and
Megumi's apartment rooms were locked up tight, Akane and Ranma
crammed into the side car, while Megumi latched behind her
brother on the motorcycle's small 'passenger' seat. Belldandy
and Skuld both shrank down, partly for room and partly for the
sake of conserving energy. Once again, Belldandy cast a spell
that created a bubble around the motorcycle so that high speed
was not a problem, even in the driving rain, which was rapidly
getting worse.

They leapt out in front of the Tendou Dojo and went to
work, using Skuld's devices to coat all the windows and doors
with a kind of super-tough lightweight adhesive foam. It was
quick work, even though Ranma and Akane both had to be careful
to stay on their feet in the high winds.

They also had to be careful to try to keep the green goo
from getting on their hands. It tended to drip down the spray
guns and stick to their fingers. After trying to help each
other peel the substance away, Belldandy had to cast a spell to
unstick them.

After less than a half hour, even with minor problems,
the house and dojo had both been secured and the group was on
their way to Belldandy's temple.

Ranma and Akane were nestled together in Keiichi's side-
car again as Keiichi began the long drive across town. Ranma
was in back, holding Akane in front of her. Ranma could feel
how tense and upset the girl still was.

It was a few minutes into the ride when Akane turned and
pressed her face into Ranma's red hair and began to whisper.
Even with Belldandy's shield, the wind whipped howlingly around
them so that only Ranma could hear her.

"So... So why were you in there... naked... with
Kodachi?" Akane asked.

Ranma gulped. She could hear the pain and uncertainty in
her voice over the roaring wind. She knew that if she answered
wrong, then she stood the chance of truly injuring Akane and
tearing the two of the apart. What to do? How was he supposed
to get out of this one?

"The... The uh... lingerie was supposed to be for you,"
Ranma admitted, a blush creeping up her face. She decided to
tell the truth and see what happened.

Akane relaxed somewhat against Ranma's damp chest.

Once the words started out of Ranma's mouth, they were
almost impossible to stop.

"I... wanted it to be a surprise for you when we met, but
then it started to rain, and I was so keyed up that I didn't
realize she was following me. I guess I forgot to lock the door
on my room and..."

"So what I saw was--"

"Kodachi tryin' to rip my towel off, just after I got out
of the shower," Ranma finished. "I can't tell you how pissed I
was right then. I... uh... I hit Kodachi," Ranma admitted
guiltily.

Akane blinked in surprise.

"I really shouldn't have. I feel horrible about it,"
Ranma said, a self-loathing expression growing in her eyes.

Akane couldn't help but smile. True, it was rather unfair
for Ranma to hit Kodachi in his anger, but Akane couldn't help
but feel like Ranma was defending her *and* their relationship.

"Well, tell me next time, and I'll hit her for you,"
Akane offered, a smile playing across her lips. "Ranma...
I'm... I'm sorry that I jumped to..."

"'S okay," Ranma said. "I'm sorry your nighty got
trashed. I'll... uh... I'll get you... a new one," she said,
blushing furiously.

Akane's smile widened. Impulsively, she twisted and
pecked the red-head on the lips.

Ranma started, but returned the kiss.

"You should have told me you wanted to see me in
lingerie," Akane whispered into Ranma's ear.

Ranma could feel the girl's hot breath flowing over her
skin. It tingled in the cold air, and Ranma couldn't help but
shudder.

"Oh?" she asked, trembling slightly, even though she was
quite a bit warmer than she was a second ago.

"I have some at home that I've been wanting to model for
you for quite a while," Akane admitted. "Maybe after the
storm?" she suggested.

Ranma was speechless.

* * *


Kodachi was not quite sure how she had gotten home. It
had taken her a few hours to cross town on foot. She guessed
her brother's weight had kept her from being blown away. Now,
as the storm outside had turned almost completely black in the
early evening, she was nursing a low-grade fever and a runny
nose in one of the sitting rooms in the Kunou mansion. Most of
the windows had already been boarded over, but the one next to
her was in the lee of the bulk of the mansion, protected from
high winds and flying debris. As she listened to a weather
report on a battery operated radio, she watched the rain hammer
down and the brutal winds roar through the trees. The storm
outside mirrored her mood. Even as the howling winds tore at
the grounds of the Kunou Estate, so did the winds of
uncertainty tear at her fevered brain.

Ranma loved her, didn't he? How could any man resist her
charms, elegant and dark like midnight? Wasn't Ranma attracted
to her body, toned by years of gymnastics and martial arts?
Didn't he know that she would do anything to please him?

Yet Ranma had rebuked her. As the lump on her forehead
attested, he had done so rather forcefully.

Another blow: Ranma *was* the red-haired pigtailed girl,
Kodachi thought after a few seconds. It was a difficult
conclusion to come to, but she simply couldn't rationalize what
she had seen any other way. She had heard rumors of a dark
curse that plagued the man she loved, but she had dismissed
them as poppycock. Now... Now she wasn't so sure. Was it
because she had treated the pigtailed girl so badly that Ranma
was wroth with her? Perhaps... Perhaps it was because she had
treated the Tendou girl so poorly. Ranma seemed to be rather
affectionate with her.

Lightening crashed fiercely. Kodachi couldn't tell from
the volume, but it sounded as if it had struck somewhere close
by. The power went out, robbing Kodachi of the light of the
small lamp next to her. The battery powered radio continued to
play, interrupted only by brief surges of static.

On a sofa next to her, Kunou sat up and began to rant in
a delirious voice. "Whazz? Nuh? Drat! The foul sorcerer Saotome
has spirited away the Pigtailed Girl and Akane Tendou once
again! The letch!" He staggered to his feet, clutching at his
aching skull. "I... ooh... I shall vanquish him this day! I
swear that... uhhh... swear... ugh... Blue Thunder doesn't feel
so good."

Kodachi lit a candle, casting her flushed face in an
eerie mix of light and shadow. "I'm not surprised, my buffoon
of a brother. The 'foul sorcerer' gave you a *richly* deserved
concussion."

"Untrue!" Kunou declared, lurching around the room,
looking for his katana. "Ranma Saotome could never... uhhhhgh."
Tatewaki dropped to his knees and clutched at his head. "I feel
*very* bad, Sister."

"You're lucky you got off so easily after you hurt Akane,
you moron." Kodachi said, snapping at her brother. It felt
good to say it, after Ranma had used that same insult on her.
It still didn't ease the persistent ache in her heart, however.

"I fight on." Kunou stated, rising unsteadily back to his
feet. "Where is my noble blade?"

"I have *no* idea, Brother," Kodachi admitted. "I do know
that you will probably not survive if you venture back out into
the storm. Why don't you wait for it to subside before persuing
your specious romances."

"Yes. Of course. Even the indomitable Tatewaki Kunou must
take time to rest and heal from his harrowing ordeal. Hold
tightly, my loves. I shall come to rescue you soon!"

"And Akane and Ranma-sama will be just as happy to pound
you into oblivion later rather than sooner, I would think,"
Kodachi said out loud to herself.

Unfazed by her words, Kunou staggered off into the
recesses of the mansion, probably to soak his aching head.

Kodachi sighed deeply and considered going to find the
emergency generators deep in the basement of the mansion.
Instead, she rose from her seat and used her candle to light
several more around the room, casting a warm twilight against
the dark fury of the storm.

For some reason, the weak candlelight seemed more
comforting than all the impervious bulk of her family's estate.

After several seconds, she reached into a nearby shelf
and took down a pen and paper.

"My dearest Ranma-sama... No. That's not right. It would
only upset him further."

She put the tip of the pen to her lip and looked out into
the storm in thought. After a few seconds she began to write.

"Dear Ranma. I have been a fool. For of all the ways I
wanted to show my love for you, I never intended to hurt your
feelings..."

Kodachi sighed, suddenly very unsure of herself and what
she had written. She wasn't sure what she wanted to say, but at
least she had a start.

* * *

Author's notes:

Let's see a show of hands in the audience, who knows what a
'Freeze Plug' is in relationship to a car.

(Jones nods, seeing a few of the more mechanically inclined
members of the audience wincing in sympathy.)

Well *I* didn't, not until mine cracked and started spraying water
all over my engine block. If you can't imagine the sound that
would make, imagine the sound on any given planet just after Kei
and Yuri have visited. It's also the sound my checkbook made when
I spent the majority of Friday afternoon and evening at the local
Mazda dealership looking at the prospect of getting myself in
beucoup debt. After a family member's wedding I attended today, I
managed to polish up the second draft and post it. It's a good
thing because I wouldn't have had time to do it tommorrow, either.

("Ahem, excuse me, Jones-san," a young woman in the front row
asks. "Why are you apologizing for *this* delay, when it's been
more than a year since you posted "Guises?")

Ahhh... Uhhh... Sore wa himitsu-des!

(The Audience is *not* amused.)

Okay. First of all, I've been writing 'The Clan'. Most of the 20+
chapters were written between the first half and second half of
'Storms'. On top of that, in the last few months, I've experienced
the wonder of a high-speed personal internet connection. I've
gotten rather heavily into the online-fansub trading scene and
have actually been *watching* more anime than I've been writing
fanfiction. Doing so has finally eradicated my unfulfilled desire
to write Eva fanfics. Now I want to write 'Kodomo no Omocha',
'Tenshi ni Narumon' and 'Love Hina' fics.

Hmmm... 'Kodomo no Omocha ni Narumon' (I'll become a Child's Toy!)

What's next for Ranma's Apartment? Part 5 will *definitely* be the
last chapter. Look forward to Shampoo and Ukyou looking for
answers from Ranma. There may also be a Lemon side story that
covers the rest of the duration of 'Mikado'.

What's next for me? Probably more 'Clan' if I can get to it. There
may be a one-shot or two in the works.

One last thing: I posted a few of my stories to fanfiction.net and
have already seen some reviews generated by the site. Has anyone
else on the FFML had good or bad experiences with fanfiction.net?
If you're not familiar with fanfiction.net, they host thousands of
fanfic stories of all genres. Did you know there was a thriving
Harry Potter fanfic community?

Finally, I'd like to thank Vincent, David, Steven, Allyn, and
MWhaleK (and everybody else I forgot...) for prereading. In
particular, Vincent shredded my story and made me repolish it. I'd
also like to thank everyone who's written in about chapters 1-3.
I'll try to get back to everybody, but it may take a few days.
(Just for the record, Skuld's change triggering device burned out
between 'Guises' and 'Storms'. ^_^)

Vincent Says: "What? What DOES the master always say about women
with tattoos?
Whaaaaat?" ...as Megumi might say. :)"


C.
* * *

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

Watashi ha ultra-relakusu!



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