Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 and its characters belong to someone else.
Not me. Don't sue. Simple, no?

^^^^^^^^^^
The Tendos' Brother: Chapter One
A Ranma 1/2 Self-Insertion Fanfic
By Nathan Huss
^^^^^^^^^^

Nathan paused in the kata he was practicing, hearing footsteps coming
towards the dojo. Grinning, he immediately and quietly scrambled over
to the entrance, and hid next to the open doorway, making sure that his
shadow wasn't visible to someone from the outside.

The sound of footsteps stopped just a few feet from the entrance.
Nathan listened closely for any further movement, but could detect none.

That was why he was very surprised when he found himself grabbed by the
collar of his gi and slammed against the wall.

"Ooof! What the!?" He tried to get a look at his attacker, but then
realized that he could mostly see only a large amount of red hair, as the
assailant was a good deal shorter than he was.

"Nathan, when are you going to grow out of this?" Akane asked from a few
feet away.

Nathan was let go and the person took a few steps back, allowing him to
get a better look at the girl who had attacked him. "Huh? You mean this
guy wasn't trying to ambush us?" she asked. She looked up and him, and a
look of recognition appeared on her face. "Hey! You're that guy from
earlier."

"Heh heh. Yeah. Again, sorry about that. I was in a hurry," Nathan said
sheepishly.

"Oh, you've already met?" asked Akane. "When?"

"Right after the alley," said Nathan.

"'Right after...' Oh, you mean earlier when I was chasing you?"

Ranma looked from one to the other. "You mean she's the one you were
runnin' from?" she asked Nathan. The boy nodded.

"I'd wondered why you had less of a head start after that," Akane said.
"Anyway, Nathan, this is Ranma Saotome. Ranma, this is Nathan Huss."

"Nice ta meet you," Ranma said, nodding. "Why _were_ you hiding like
that, though?"

"Nothing major, just trying to surprise Akane as she came in. Keep her
on her toes, you know? I do it all the time."

"Oh, you mean like for training?" Ranma asked. "I get it."

Akane grumbled for a moment about how it was training she wished he didn't
have so much fun with. "I offered to let Ranma watch while we sparred,
Nate. Is that all right with you?"

Nathan nodded. "Sure, I don't mind."

With that, the three of them walked into the dojo, Nathan and Akane taking
up positions near the center of the training hall while Ranma stood off to
the side.

Akane and Nathan nodded to each other, moved into combat stances, and then
rushed in at each other.

Akane started off with a quick leg sweep, which Nathan just hopped over,
and followed up with a brief flurry of punches. Nathan backpedaled
slightly, batting Akane's strikes off target when they came close, and
then lashing out with his own.

They continued for a bit to merely trade blows, attacking and blocking,
before Nathan began to advance on Akane, assaulting her from a distance with
his longer limbs while she retreated from him.

Akane was driven back several feet until she made a grab for one of Nathan's
arms as he pulled it back after a punch. Instead of trying to yank it out
of her grasp, however, he rushed forward, and managed to hook his foot behind
her leg in an attempt to trip her. The maneuver succeeded, sending Akane
toward the floor, but she had kept her grip on his arm, and used his momentum
from advancing to flip him over.

Both of them had their backs slammed against the floor, and immediately struggled to get back up first. Akane managed to rise first, and so was able
to move into position to attack as Nathan finally stood.

She struck at him from close range, and moved with him to prevent him from
trying to use his long reach again. He kept backing up, trying to give
himself enough distance from her so that he could retaliate, but ended up
nearly being forced into the wall of the dojo.

At that point he managed to put enough space between himself and Akane, and
tried for a kick. Akane ducked under it, and performed another sweeping
kick that knocked him back to the floor. The force from the impact knocked
the air out of his lungs, and he just lay there and the ground trying to
catch his breath.

"You... win... this time," he gasped eventually.

Akane grinned and wiped some sweat off from her forehead with her sleeve,
then offered a hand to help him up. Nathan took it, paused for a moment as
if considering something, but then dismissed it before standing.

"Good match," Nathan said. He readjusted his glasses, which had barely
managed to stay on his face. He turned to Ranma, who had walked up next to
them once the match had ended. "What did you think?" he asked the redhead.

Ranma hesitated for a moment before answering. "Well, you're both pretty
good. Akane has some real power behind her blows, but you're fairly decent
at avoiding them."

"Thanks," Akane said, smiling. "Do you want to spar sometime? I'd like to
see how good you are if you've been on a training trip for 10 years."

"Um, sure. That'd be great."

Nathan stretched, wincing slightly as he felt some of the injuries he had
just suffered protest the movement. "Training trip?" he asked.

Ranma nodded. "Yeah. Pop and me have been going around trainin' in the Art
for about ten years now. Apparently he's an old friend of Mr. Tendo, and
wanted to visit."

"I see," said Nathan, nodding. "Anyway, I'm gonna go grab a snack. Nice
meeting you, Ranma."

"Sooo... he a student at the dojo or somethin'?" Ranma asked after Nathan
had walked outside.

"Yeah, something like that," Akane said. "He's been living with us for
about six years since his parents died."

Ranma's eyes widened at that. "Man, both of 'em?"

Akane nodded. "It doesn't seem to bother him that much anymore, but it
would probably be best not to ask him that much about it."

"Got ya."

"Well, I'm going to go see if Daddy is feeling better," Akane said. "I
still can't believe he just fainted like that when he found out you were
a girl."

"Eh-heh... Yeah."

^^^^^

Nathan, having changed out of his gi into some normal clothing, pulled a box
of cookies out of one of the cabinets in the kitchen, and immediately began
to eat.

"I really wish you wouldn't eat so much so close to supper," Kasumi said as
she prepared food for dinner.

"I'm just having a small snack," Nathan replied. "Anyway, I'm a growing boy."

"You always say that when you're snacking."

"It's still true, after all-"

Nathan was cut off as Nabiki walked into the kitchen.

"Hey, do either of you know who that man talking to Daddy is?" the middle
Tendo daughter asked, and snatched a cookie out of Nathan's hand.

"Got me," Kasumi replied.

"Didn't even notice him," said Nathan, fishing another cookie out of the
box. "Why don't you ask him now?" he asked as he noticed Soun walking into
the kitchen.

^^^^^

Ranma walked around the dojo for a bit, looking at the equipment and the
small shrine on the wall, before a large, bespectacled man wearing a white
gi and bandanna came in and strode towards her.

"Why haven't you taken this opportunity to change back?"

"I don't wanna freak 'em out," Ranma said. "They first saw me like this,
and if I show up as a guy they wouldn't recognize me. Hey, pop?"

"What?" her father asked.

"We've been traveling for a while, and I never really thought about it,
but..."

"Out with it, boy."

"How come we've never gone to see mom? I don't know where she lives. Heck,
I'm not even sure if she's still alive or not."

"Your mother... aah... Why the sudden interest?"

"I just met this guy, Nathan. Found out he lost both his parents a long
while back, and it just got me thinkin' a bit."

"Nathan? Oh, that boy Tendo spoke about. Yes, very tragic about that.
Anyway, come on. Now that I've explained things to Soun, we can get back
to deciding who will your fiancée."

"Oh, that reminds me, oyaji," Ranma said, cracking her knuckles. "I'm still
not happy 'bout you just telling me that today."

^^^^^

Back in the house, the Tendos were once again gathered in the living room,
as well as Nathan this time.

"Now what is it, daddy?" Akane asked. "I was going to go take a bath."

"I've just found out that things may not be as bad as I thought they would
be," Soun said.

"You're not going to engage Nathan to Ranma, are you father?" asked Kasumi.

(In the midst of her fight with Genma, Ranma suddenly flinched.)

"Oh, no," Soun said, laughing. "Whatever would make you think I'd do
something like that?"

A moment of silence...

Which, before any of the teenagers could get around to answering Soun's
question, was broken by the sounds of combat coming from the back yard.

"Get back here, oyaji!"

"Ranma, this is no time to be fooling around. Now calm down and-"

Splash!

"- Growf!" finished Genma after being tossed into the koi pond.

"Hah! Serves you right! I..." Ranma trailed off as she saw that the rest
of the household was standing on the porch and had just witnessed her
father transform into a panda.

^^^^^

"What's going on here?" asked Nabiki as her father walked in from the
kitchen with a kettle of boiling water.

"I'll explain," replied Soun. He quickly walked over to the panda that
was sitting across from them. "This," he said, pouring some of the water
over the panda, "is my old friend, Genma Saotome."

"Yeow! Not so hot, Soun!"

"Sorry, Genma. And this is his son, Ranma."

Ranma dodged out of the stream of boiling water Soun tried to pour on
her. "Watch it with that!" she exclaimed.

"Stop whining, boy," Genma admonished, grabbing both Ranma and the kettle.
He quickly doused Ranma.

"Hot!" Ranma shouted.

Akane, Nathan, Nabiki, and Kasumi sat wide-eyed as the short, red-haired
girl transformed into a taller, black-haired boy.

"Er... sorry 'bout this," Ranma said sheepishly.

There was an audible *blink* from the other teenagers. In stereo no
less.

"Ya see!? This is what I wanted to avoid!" Ranma shouted at his father.

"Quit whining, boy!" Genma retorted. "It's best to get these things out
of the way quickly. They'd have had to find out eventually."

"What's going on, Father?" Kasumi asked as the two Saotomes continued
arguing with each other.

Soun sighed. "Well, from what Saotome has told me, it all happened at a
place called Jusenkyo..."

^^^^^

After the Saotomes had calmed back down, Genma related the tale of Ranma's
and his experience at the Cursed Springs of Jusenkyo. As he reached the
end of the story, Ranma was livid with the memories it brought back.

"If you had just listened to the damn Guide, oyaji!" Ranma growled as he
grabbed the collar of his father's gi.

Genma reversed the grab and tossed Ranma into the koi pond. "I didn't see
you hesitating to leap up onto the poles with me, boy!"

Sputtering, Ranma-chan surfaced. "That's 'cause I made the mistake of
thinking you actually knew what you were doin' for once!"

The two once again started fighting.

"Why do I get the feeling that this is a common occurrence for them?"
Nathan commented, as he and the Tendo sisters looked on.

"Oh, dear. I hope they don't- *crash!* -never mind," Kasumi said. "I
don't suppose you'll be able to fix that, Nathan?"

"Yeah, sure. Say, just wondering, but shouldn't we stop them before
anything else gets broken?" asked Nathan.

"You go right ahead. I'll watch from over here," said Nabiki.

"Nabiki..."

While those two were talking, Akane walked right up to where the two
Saotomes were now fighting outside and stood in between them, causing them
to stop.

"Mr. Saotome, You went way too far!" Akane exclaimed. "Dad never did
anything like that training me and Nate!"

Genma looked over to Soun. "He didn't? Well, I shouldn't be surprised.
After all, there's no way a girl could endure the hardships to become a
true martial artist, and as for-"

*WHAM!* *SPLASH!*

Akane stomped back to the porch, and then glared at Nathan and Nabiki, who
were barely containing smirks. "He deserved that."

"My, my... Did we say anything, Nate-chan?" Nabiki said innocently.

"Not a thing. Didn't make a single comment, Nab," he replied in the same
tone of voice.

"If forced to, though," continued Nabiki, in a more normal tone of voice,
"I would commend you for sticking up for Ranma like that, and suggest you
for his fiancée. See you!" She retreated back into the house before Akane
could respond.

"That's a wonderful idea! It's decided then. Akane will be Ranma's
fiancée," Soun said.

"I- but- wha- NO! Don't I get a say in this!?" Akane shouted.

Unfortunately, everyone had vanished back into the house, except for Ranma.
She stood there, just as stunned as Akane was. In the background, Soun and
a once-again-human Genma congratulated themselves for picking such an
obviously perfect match.

^^^^^
"Stupid oyaji," Ranma-chan muttered as she walked towards the bathroom.
"Pullin' something like this... One of these days I'm gonna..."

Her thoughts turned toward her newly acquired fiancée. 'Being forced into
this mess really sucks.' She stepped into the bathroom and started getting
ready for her bath.

'Still, Akane does seem pretty nice, though. Cute, too,' she thought as she
opened the door to the furo. She stopped suddenly, finding herself face to
face with Akane, who had just gotten out from finishing her own bath.

Akane did not look happy.

"Er... um... s-sor-" Ranma-chan had a very flustered look on her face as she
saw Akane's lack of dress.

"Aaaaah!" Akane screamed in embarrassment. "Hentai!"

*WHAM!*

Akane quickly grabbed a towel to cover herself with and her clothes, and
ran out.

'Ouch...'

^^^^^^^^^^

The next morning...

"What do you mean I have to go to school?" Ranma asked.

"Can't have you laying about the house all day," Genma replied. "Besides,
it will be a good chance for you to get to know your fiancée better."

"I don't want to get to know her better!" Ranma exclaimed. It was then that
he realized that Akane had just walked into the room. Proving his fears
that she had heard him, she began to glare at him.

"Who'd want to know you either, hentai!" she growled. Turning, she stormed
back out. "Nathan! Hurry up or you'll be late!"

"Aw, I didn't mean it like that," Ranma tried to apologize, following her
out. Unfortunately, all he got for trying was a schoolbag slammed into his
gut.

"Nathan!" Akane called again.

"Coming!"

Akane ignored Ranma as she waited for Nathan. After a few moments the
bespectacled boy bounded down the staircase.

"You have got to start waking up earlier," Akane said.

"I'm not a morning person," he replied. "I need more sleep."

"You wouldn't need more sleep if you didn't stay up late reading manga."

Nathan just grumbled slightly. Then he looked around. "Did Nab leave
already?"

"She went on ahead since you were taking so long," Akane said. "She also
said that I should walk with my... fiancée." She nearly spat out the last
word.

Nathan either didn't notice or ignored her tone of voice. "Right. Oh,
morning, Ranma."

Ranma nodded in response, and then turned to Akane. "Look, I didn't mean
what I said like that."

"Oh? Just what _did_ you mean, then?" she asked.

"I just meant that... I mean... aaaah..."

"Let's go, Nate," Akane said crossly.

"Uh, right."

The three of them headed out. Akane and Nathan walked on the sidewalk,
while Ranma was up on top of a wall next to them. Both Akane and Ranma were
silent as they walked, leaving Nathan to glance between them in confusion.

"Soooo..." he began slowly.

"How could you just dump me with this?" said Akane.

Nathan blinked. "Excuse me?"

"You all just left me to become engaged to this... this hentai!"

"Hey, quit callin' me that!" Ranma shouted.

"You walked in on me in the bath!"

"It was an accident!"

"Yeah, right! And where do you think you're going?"

"Aaah... to school?" Nathan answered warily as his attempt to sneak away
failed.

"Nice try. Answer the question."

"Look, it had nothing to do with me," Nathan said. "It was either you, Nab,
or Kasumi. They dumped it on you, not me. I just got out of the potential crossfire. Discuss it with them."

"Still, just leaving me there with this hentai..."

Ranma jumped down and stood in front of Akane. "Stop callin' me that! It
was an accident, honest! And as for what I said earlier, I was just angry
at the old man for pulling this whole fiancée thing."

"You didn't have to be so rude about it," Akane retorted.

"Geez, I was just-"

*Splash!*

The three of them looked over to the old woman who had just splashed Ranma
while cleaning the sidewalk in front of her house.

Ranma-chan sighed. "I'm going back to take a bath."

Akane stopped her before she could leave. "What do you mean? We've got to
get to school."

"You think I want to show up like this? I'm a boy! If I have to go to
school, I'm gonna register as one."

"Look, all you need is hot water right? There's a place nearby where we can
get some and still be on time for school."

"Fine," Ranma sighed.

"I'll go on ahead," Nathan said. "See you two at school."

^^^^^

Ranma waited outside the building Akane had walked into.

'Just great. First day of school and this happens. At least I managed to
apologize... I think.'

She was so distracted by thinking about what had gone wrong in the last few
days that she barely noticed a hand fall onto her shoulder. When she felt
it, she quickly turned around.

"BOO!" a skeleton shouted.

"Gaaah!" Ranma leapt straight up and latched onto the wall.

"Oh, didn't mean to scare you that badly," said a man wearing glasses and
a brown gi. Ranma could now see that the man had been holding the
skeleton.

"This is Betty," the man said, making one of the skeleton's arms wave a
greeting.

"Uh, hi." Ranma dropped down from where she had jumped.

"Can I help you with something?"

*Clang!* "Tofu-sensei!"

Ranma glared at Akane who had just dropped a kettle onto her head.

"Good morning, Akane," Tofu said. "Is everything all right? No new injuries
I hope?"

"Hai. I'm fine. A couple bruises from sparring with Nathan yesterday, but
that's all."

"Good to hear."

Ranma poured the hot water from the kettle over herself, and listened as
Akane and Tofu continued to make small talk.

"Well, I don't want to keep you any longer," Tofu said. "Don't want you to
be late for school. Say hello to Nathan for me."

"Hai, Tofu-sensei." Akane blinked. "Wait... Oh, no! Nathan!"

She grabbed Ranma's arm and dashed off toward school. "Bye, Tofu-sensei!"

Once Ranma managed to free himself from Akane's grip, he looked questioningly
at her as they ran. "What's the hurry?"

"I can't believe I almost forgot! He's not used to fighting them all by
himself!"

"What? What do you mean?" Ranma asked, not understanding.

"We usually cover each other's backs, and they usually focus on me more
than him."

"What in the world are you talking about!?"

It was at that point that they finally reached the school gates. Just past
them, Ranma could see that the schoolyard was littered with the prone forms
of dozens of boys in a miscellany of sports uniforms. Most of them seemed
to be heavily bruised, though none had any serious injuries. Curiously,
however, a decent number of them appeared to have no sign of any injuries
even though they couldn't move.

"What the...?" he started.

Akane pointed, and Ranma then noticed that there were a group of about ten
boys still up, surrounding Nathan.

Nathan looked battered; his school uniform had a fair number of small rips
and tears in it, and was holding his school bag vaguely like a shield. Most
of the boys facing him were in a similar condition.

A baseball player swung his bat to attack, only to have Nathan's bag thrown
squarely into his face, sending him down. Nathan grabbed the falling bat as
it was dropped, used it to parry a thrust from a shinai another boy in full
kendo gear rushed to hit him with, and then tossed it at the boy's legs,
tripping him. As the boy went down, Nathan poked at his lower spine with his
index finger, seemingly making his collapse even faster.

A kick lashed into a boxer's gut as Nathan leapt over a football player's
tackle, striking at the back of his neck while doing so, sending both down.

As he landed, however, Nathan was tripped by a sliding tackle from a soccer
player, and was shortly struck with a shinai by another kendoist. He managed
to roll away from following attacks and regained his footing. Dashing
forward, he jabbed with a finger at a spot on the kendoist's arm, which
immediately fell limp, and did the same on several spots on the soccer
player's torso, causing both of his legs to collapse from under him.

"Nathan!" Akane shouted, sounding angry.

All the remaining combatants turned when they heard her, but Nathan quickly
recovered and sped through his opponents while they were still distracted.
Soon, he was the only boy left standing. Akane quickly jogged over to him.

"Hiya, 'Kane," Nathan said, staggering slightly. "I managed to get them
all. It was almost fun." He clutched his side and quietly added, "Ouch."

"Baka! Why did you try to take them all on? Look at you! And besides,
what about-"

She was interrupted by something flung at her, which she snatched out of
the air, revealing it to be a rose.

"Kuno," Akane and Nathan said together in a resigned tone of voice.

Said person stepped out from behind a tree. "How good it is to see you,
lovely Akane. I noted that the gaijin Huss entered these grounds alone,
and feared you had taken ill. I now can see that such fears were
unwarranted, though I would have gladly come to tend you in your sickness
should that have been the case."

"Can we just skip him and go inside? Please? I tired myself out on the
rest of them," Nathan whispered to Akane.

"Wish we could, but I don't think he'll let us," Akane replied, eyeing Kuno
as he continued to talk.

"Will one of you please explain what just happened?" Ranma said, moving up
next to them. "What's with all these guys attackin' Nathan?"

Before Akane or Nathan could answer, Kuno pointed his bokken at Ranma.
"Who are you to speak so familiarly to the fair Akane Tendo?"

Ranma blinked. "Me? Well, I'm-"

Kuno cut him off before he could get any further. "Ah, but is it not
customary to give one's own name first? Very well, then! I am the rising
star of the kendo world, the-"

Nathan had scooped up a small stone from the ground, and chucked it at
Kuno's head. The kendoist blocked it with his bokken. "Huss! How dare
you interrupt one such as I!"

"Just get to the end, Kuno," Nathan replied. "School's gonna start
soon."

"You will address me as Kuno-sempai, gaijin!" Kuno glared at him, and
continued. "I am Tatewaki Kuno, the Blue Thunder of Furinkan High!"

*CRACKTHOOM!*

"If for nothing else, I admire him for being able to do that bit," Nathan
said.

Akane sighed. "Don't encourage him."

"Now I ask again," Kuno said, pointing his bokken at Ranma, "What is your
connection to Akane Tendo?"

"Well, me and my pop are staying at the Tendos', and..."

"What!? You dare sleep under the same roof as Akane? I shall not allow
it!"

With that, Kuno swung his bokken down at Ranma's head. The pig-tailed
martial artist easily dodged. Tossing his school bag to Akane, who caught
it out of reflex more than anything else, he said, "I am Ranma Saotome of
the School of Anything Goes Martial Arts, and I accept your challenge!"

"This is getting out of hand," Akane muttered. "We'll be late for class."

"I think it's rather nice seeing someone else fight Kuno," said Nathan.
"Besides, we're getting a chance to see how good Ranma is."

"I guess, but..."

She trailed off as Kuno attempted to attack Ranma. Despite how quick his
strikes were, the pig-tailed boy easily dodged them, letting them hit
either thin air or the occasional tree or wall behind him.

"Wow, he's fast," Akane said in a slightly awed tone.

"He'd better be, homeroom starts in three minutes. See ya." Nathan dashed
past the fight and through the school doors.

"What?" Akane looked up at the school clock and saw that Nathan was right.
"Oh, no. Ranma! You're going to be late!" she yelled as she ran into the
building.

"Huh? Hey, wait up! I don't know where the classroom is!" Ranma exclaimed.
"And you still have my bag!"

"Do not ignore me, whelp!" Kuno shouted, and performed a vicious slash with
his bokken. Ranma just slipped to the side, performed a roundhouse kick to
Kuno's head, and then dashed after Akane.

"That... did not hurt," Kuno said, and then collapsed.

A little while later it began to rain.

^^^^^

Nathan walked into his homeroom and collapsed at his desk, grinning
slightly. "Maybe me 'n Akane should take turns fighting them all off on
our own," he mumbled. "It would make great training."

He rested his head on the desk as he waited for the teacher to come in and
begin class, but then realized something.

"Aaah! My schoolbag! It's still outside!" He was about to run for the
door when he noticed a girl was standing just behind him. "Oh, hi Umeko.
What's up?"

"Um... Nabiki-sempai said that you would have forgotten this during the so
she had me go get it since we're in the same homeroom and all..." she said,
holding out his schoolbag.

"Oh, thanks! I had just remembered I had left it out there," he said as he
took the bag and got out his stuff for class.

Umeko Segawa was one of the girls that hung out with Nabiki, who besides
being friends aided her with the betting pools and loans she made. She had
also had the same homeroom as Nathan in junior high, so he had often seen
her either there or when he was doing a favor for Nabiki.

She was slightly more than half a foot shorter than he was, with a slender
build. Her hair was dark brown, done in a medium length ponytail. Brown
eyes looked at him as he unpacked, only to turn away when he noticed.

He never really understood why she seemed a bit nervous around him. Must be
his height or something.

"So... are you okay? You looked kinda hurt after fighting all the guys."

"I'm fine. I took a few hits, but nothing serious. I'll probably need to
get my uniform mended, possibly have to buy a new one. Otherwise it's
nothing I can't handle."

Umeko smiled. "That's good. There were a few times when I was worried
that they were going to really hurt you."

"Nothing Tofu-sensei couldn't fix," Nathan said. "Maybe I could even do
it myself. There are advantages to working for him." He got a funny look
on his face, then mumbled something that sounded like, "Akane's going to be
mad at me for that, if she realizes..."

"What?"

Smiling, Nathan shook his head. "Sorry, it's nothing serious."

"If you say so," said Umeko. She fidgeted for a few moments. "Hey, Nathan?"

"Yeah?"

Before Umeko could continue further, the teacher walked into the room.
Sighing slightly, she rushed back to her desk. Nathan just blinked,
shrugged, and sat down at his own desk as class began.

^^^^^

Later, during lunch...

"... so that's why you two have to fight all those guys?" Ranma asked.
"Just because that Kuno guy made some speech or somthin'?"

"Pretty much," Akane said. "We beat them every day, though, so it's no
problem."

Ranma, for lack of anywhere else to go during that time, was sitting with
Akane, Nabiki, and a number of their friends as they ate.

"So, where is Nathan, anyway? I kinda was expected him to be here with
you guys," said Ranma.

"Oh, he's over there," Nabiki said, absently pointing over to a tree a
couple dozen meters away where Nathan was talking with a thin, sunken-eyed
boy. "He used to sit with us, but the girl-talk became a bit much for him."

"The fact that you actually tried to embarrass him didn't help, sempai,"
Umeko said.

"It was all in good fun," she replied, grinning. "How was I to know it
would be so effective?"

"The 'deer-in-the-headlights' expression he ended up getting should have
been a clue, Nabiki," Akane said, wearing her own grin.

Similar topics like this started bouncing back and forth among the girls,
such as other ways of how to embarrass boys, which lead to just talking
about boys, and very soon Ranma felt like maybe he should go join Nathan
and that other boy.

He was prevented from making that decision by the arrival of Kuno.

"Saotome! Again I find you hounding after Akane Tendo!"

Ranma blinked. "'Hounding'? I'm just having lunch."

"So you would have some believe!"

"Jeez... what's your problem?"

"Oh, Kuno-chan's just upset that I wouldn't tell him anything useful about
you during class," said Nabiki.

"The very heavens would weep at the price you were asking for, Nabiki
Tendo," Kuno said.

"Hey, it's not like you couldn't afford it," Nabiki said with a shrug.

"It matters not. I come to tell you, Saotome, that you should hope not to
seize Akane Tendo's affections, for they belong solely to I."

*Wham!*

"You wish!" Akane shouted as she removed her fist from Kuno's face.

After wobbling for a few seconds, Kuno regained his composure. "Ah, fair
Akane, how you show your affection with such love taps."

"Is he for real?" Ranma asked incredulously.

"Unfortunately," Nathan said.

"Gaaah!" Ranma had a feeling of deja vu as he saw that Nathan had somehow
managed to approach without the pig-tailed martial artist ever noticing.
"Don't do that!"

Nathan shrugged apologetically, but the corners of his mouth were twitching
upward slightly.

"Kuno never seems to be affected no matter how much Akane or I pound him,"
Nathan said. "In a way it's almost amusing."

Akane glared at Nathan. "That's only because he doesn't hassle you as much
as he does me. Also, he goes after you for totally different reasons."

"True. It's still amusing."

"You'll pay for that during sparring, Nate."

"Ahem!" Kuno tried to return the focus back to him. Akane just punched him
in the gut while Nathan did the same to his head, sending the kendoist down.

"I don't know about that, 'Kane. I came pretty close to beating you
yesterday. Bet I could beat you this time."

"Oh, really? Fine. You. Me. Right after school."

Ranma noticed that the two of them had actually been smiling during the
entire exchange. At this point, however, Nathan grimaced.

"Can't. I'm working at Tofu-sensei's today after school."

"Oh," Akane said. "After you get back, then?"

"Maybe. I have a fair amount of homework, but I'll see how quickly I can
finish it," Nathan replied.

"Okay."

The bell rang then, and they all headed back in to class.

Later, Kuno woke up and also went back inside.

^^^^^

After school...

Ranma was walking with Akane, Nabiki, Nathan, and Hikaru Gosunkugi, the boy
he had see with Nathan during lunch.

"That was impressive," Nabiki said. "Kuno was nearly fifteen minutes late
for class. You two really did a job on him with that double strike."

"I suppose," Akane replied. "He'll just be back tomorrow, though."

"At least he didn't find out about the engagement," Nathan said. "That
would have really set him off."

"Engagement?" asked Gosunkugi.

"Stupid oyaji," said Ranma.

"Tendo-sensei and Ranma's father are old friends. They decided to unite
their martial arts schools by engaging their kids."

"Ranma's an only child, and Akane was elected from us Tendos," Nabiki said.
"So, at least as far as dad and Mr. Saotome are concerned, Ranma and Akane
are fiancées."

Akane and Ranma both grumbled at that.

"F-f-fiancées?" Gosunkugi stuttered.

"Yeah. Oh, Nabiki," Nathan said. "I almost forgot to thank you for having
Umeko get my bag when I forgot it during the fight this morning."

Nabiki blinked. "Huh? I didn't have her do that. In fact, I hadn't seen
her all day until lunch."

"Eh? You didn't?"

Nabiki shook her head.

"Why did she say that you had?" he wondered. Akane and Nabiki exchanged a
glance, and sighed.

The group came up to Tofu's clinic, and Nathan just shrugged. "Oh well.
See you guys at home. Later, Hikaru." With that, he walked inside the
building.

"So what does he do there?" Ranma asked as the rest of them continued on.

"Various things," Akane said. "He answers phone calls, treats some of the
minor injuries that people come in with, keeps track of the supplies, stuff
like that."

"Hmm... I guess that's where he learned those pressure points he was usin'
this morning?"

"Pressure points?" Akane suddenly frowned. "Hey, that's right! And he
hasn't been using those during sparring! He hasn't been going all out on
me!"

"He's supposed to fight you all out?" asked Ranma.

"Of course. How else are we supposed to improve?"

"But... you're a girl."

"So? I'm still a martial artist!" On seeing Ranma's still-skeptical look,
she growled. "Don't believe me? All right then! How about _we_ spar,
then?"

Nabiki just shook her head as she watched this continue. "This ought to be
interesting. Hey Hikaru, isn't this where you turn to go home?"

"What?" The boy blinked. "Oh... right... Bye."

As Akane, Ranma, and Nabiki headed on to the Tendo Dojo, Gosunkugi just
stood at the intersection.

"Akane has a... fiancée?"

^^^^^

"Come on! Fight me for real!"

Ranma and Akane were currently in the dojo, sparring. Well, to be more
precise, Akane was trying to hit Ranma, while he was dodging all of her
attacks.

"Dammit, stop dodging like that!"

"Look, just what are you so worked up about?" Ranma asked as he flipped over
a kick aimed at his side. He had to quickly block a punch that came at him
unexpectedly. He blinked in surprise as he did, realizing that she was
better than he had originally taken her for. That was the third time she
had nearly gotten him.

"You're not taking me seriously! Come on and actually fight back!"

"But... I'd have ta hit you."

"Yes, your point is?" she asked in an aggravated voice.

"You're a girl."

Akane stopped her assault and glared at him. "You... you..."

Without further word, she stomped out of the dojo.

"Man, what's her problem?"

^^^^^

Nathan yawned as he walked in through the front door that evening.

"Tadaima!"

"Okaeri," was replied from somewhere inside. After he had taken off his
shoes and headed inside, he walked over to the kitchen. He was vaguely
surprised to see Nabiki in there, absently stirring a pot on the stove
while reading a book.

"Hi Nab. Where's Kasumi?"

Nabiki looked up from the book. "Oh, hi Nate-chan. She's left already,
but she had most of the food done. Dinner's almost ready."

"Ah. I thought her classes didn't start for a while yet," he said.

"They don't. She just wanted to head out a bit early. Probably going to
study with some friends or something before class starts."

They both felt a slight tremor through the floorboards as Akane stalked
into the kitchen. She immediately walked up to Nate and glared at him.

"Aah... um... Hi, 'Kane. What's up?"

"Why didn't you tell me you knew some pressure points?"

"It... never came up?"

Nabiki just stood back and watched, also trying to keep Akane from noticing
that the food was still cooking.

"You never used them during our sparring matches. What, didn't think I
could handle them?" Akane asked.

Nathan blinked. "Akane, that is sparring. S-P-A-R-R-I-N-G. It's just
practice. The point is to test our skills and improve. Not beat each
other into a pulp. You don't know how to counter them, so if I used any
pressure points it would be over too quickly."

Akane frowned, considering this. "You could have at least told me."

"Weeeell... I was kinda holding them in reserve. You've been winning
more often lately, so I was going to use them if I couldn't beat you
otherwise."

"I see," Akane said. "I'll just have to watch out for them now, won't I.
After all, I can't have my winning streak ruined." She grinned.

"That's it, your going down next fight," said Nathan. "You won't stand a
chance against my skill! I shall be triumphant!"

"Watch it, Nate-chan," Nabiki interjected. "You were beginning to sound
a bit like Kuno there."

Akane looked over at her sister. "Don't say scary stuff like that.
Hey! Dinner's not done yet? Great! I have some ideas..."

"Ack!" Nabiki's eyes bulged. "Nonono! It's done!"

^^^^^^^^^^

Author's Notes:

Finally got another chapter done... Must stop getting so distracted by
shiny objects in the future.

Anyway, I'd like to thank those that preread this chapter for me: Taiteki
Kagato (Taitekikagato@aol.com), Ame Suisei (StLonginus@aol.com), Hpackrat
(hpackrat@yahoo.com), Gemini 3 (thrdtwin@hotmail.com), and Myrmiddon
(myrmiddon@hotmail.com).

Please C&C with any questions, comments, suggestions, etc. to
Wakoid2@aol.com.

On to the next chapter!