As the young lovers sleep contentedly, their families were sitting around a table in an empty Neko Hanten. It seemed that the friends that Soun and Genma were expecting had reserved the entire restaurant for the evening. They had been sitting and waiting now for a good thirty minutes waiting on these friends to show up, and Nabiki was beginning to get impatient. There was so much she could be doing other than just sitting there. She had money to collect, and information to gather. This was really cutting into her profits.
Not only that, but she was beginning to become suspicious. They hadn’t seen hide nor cat hair of Shampoo, Mousse had sat them and taken their order. Her father wasn’t even telling the others who they were meeting, though it wouldn’t be too far of a stretch to think that he didn’t know either considering how nervous he got every time Nabiki asked. Genma and Nodoka were there as well, but it seemed as if Genma had just come along for the free food, and Nodoka came because of her husband.
Finally the bell above the door jingled, and they all turned to see who it was. The two younger girls were all surprised to see Tatewaki Kuno stride through the door, followed by his sister Kodachi, and a parade of servants. The servants quickly set on the table, arranging it with candelabras, flowers, and gold rimmed dishes. Some went into the kitchen, probably to try to help out, but judging by the stream of Chinese cursing coming from the kitchen, they were just getting in the way.
Nabiki was the first to speak. “Well, well, Kuno-chan, what brings you here? Ramen isn’t exactly gourmet food, even if the Neko Hanten serves the best in the area.” She figured that one of the Amazons were probably eavesdropping, and it wouldn’t hurt to butter them up a little.
Kuno struck a dramatic pose, his ever present wooden bokken held aloft. “I have come to ask for the hand of the fair Akane Tendo in marriage. The spell of the evil sorcerer Saotome has finally been broken, and she has twice shown me the extent of her love for my self.”
Kodachi then stepped forward. She was dressed demurely in a wedding kimono, black and patterned with roses. She kneeled in front of the families collected at the table and bowed low. When she spoke, it was softly and demurely, very unlike her. “I have come asking for the hand of the magnificent Ranma Saotome in marriage. He has showed his affection for me as well, and it would have been complete had not the wretched Akane Tendo interrupted us.” She then snapped her fingers, and a group of servants filed by laying expensive gifts of electronics, alcohol, and Nabiki thought she saw at least one set of car keys added to the pile. She also noted that Genma was eyeing the pile greedily and had already reached for a DVD player.
Nabiki sighed and hit her head on the table. Only the Kunos would think that they were being shown love from Ranma and Akane. The entire school knew that Shampoo was the one who had been sleeping with Kuno, and that Kodachi had drugged Ranma and carried him off. Akane had filled in the details about what had happened later. She was ready to shoot down these ridiculous claims when she was interrupted by her father’s voice. “Well sit down then Son, Daughter, and we will discuss the future.” Genma was sitting next to him, smiling and nodding.
Kuno sat down in across from Soun, but this didn’t leave one open for Kodachi. She impatiently tapped her foot as one of her servants quickly fetched one from another table. Nabiki’s ears perked up at the sounds of angry Chinese muttering coming from behind her. It sounded like Shampoo wasn’t expecting this other guest, and wasn’t pleased about it either.
Nabiki turned to her father, incredulous at her father’s willingness to go along with this farce. Sure she liked milking Kuno for spending money, but there was no way in hell that she wanted to be related to him. “Daddy, you know what really happened the other day, why are you even considering listening to them?”
Kasumi weighed in as well. She discretely whispered to Soun. “Father, you know how much Akane dislikes this boy, and that it was discovered that that Shampoo girl was the one who was having intercourse with him.”
Soun waved off his daughter’s concerns. “Let’s just hear what they have to say before we jump to any conclusions.” Nabiki noted that he had already uncorked the gift of expensive Japanese whiskey that one of the servants had placed before him and was pouring a generous portion for himself. He motioned for Kuno to speak first. “So young man, what can you offer my daughter should you marry her?”
Kuno drew up tall in his seat. “Your daughter shall want for nothing for the rest of her life. My family is wealthy, having descended from noble daimyo blood that can be traced back to the Sengoku Jidai. I can provide her with everything her heart desires, and she will bring our children into a world of wealth and privilege.” He paused to take a sip of water from a goblet on the table. It was promptly refilled by a servant. “Of course her family will also be well taken care of for the rest of their lives as well.”
Soun smiled and nodded at his answer. Nabiki looked like she was about to kill someone, but couldn’t decide between her father or her classmate. She opened her mouth to protest once more, but was interrupted by Genma. “And what about you, Lady Kodachi, what do you have to offer my son? I notice you are a nun, are you going to give up that lifestyle for him?”
Kodachi kept her head bowed in front of her prospective in-laws, but gritted her teeth at the question. Nabiki had to hide a giggle behind her hand, as it seemed that Nodoka had taken Akane’s revenge to mean Kodachi was a nun. “I too am wealthy, as I am Tatewaki’s sister. Ranma will want for nothing for the rest of his life, and will be free to travel as he pleases to keep up on his training. I would only ask that he return once a year to give me a child, to help strengthen the clan line.” She looked Genma dead in the eye and dropped what she felt would seal the deal with him. “My dowry of course is quite large.”
Nabiki noticed Nodoka’s eyes light up at the mention of children. Uh oh, she was falling for it too. It was easy to see why their fathers were falling for it, but Nodoka was supposed to be the intelligent one of the family, excluding some of her eccentricities. It was time to end this now. “We’re sorry to the both of you, but we won’t be accepting your offers.” She stood to leave, but was interrupted by Shampoo bringing out the main course, seven bowls of ramen all balanced along her arms, on chopsticks in her hands, and even one on her head. She happily placed each bowl in front of one of the diners, but conspicuously avoided eye contact with any of them.
Tatewaki gave Nabiki a dirty look. “You do not speak for your family, my future sister-in-law, nor do you speak for your sister. I see no reason as to why you are even here.”
“Because I am the only one who has proof of your infidelity my future nothing-in-law.” She reached into her purse and pulled out a photo, clearly showing Kuno having sex with an ecstatic Shampoo in the school yard. Out of nowhere, Shampoo grabbed the photo and promptly tore it into tiny pieces, eating the scraps. Nabiki nearly laughed out loud at the antics of the girl trying not to get caught. “I have more copies you know,” she said.
“More copies of what?” came a question from the direction of the kitchen. Everyone turned to see Mousse standing in the doorway wiping his hands on a towel. He walked over to the table to see what all the commotion was about. Shampoo cursed when she saw he actually had his glasses on. She tried to grab Nabiki’s purse, but she was tripped up by something when she made her way over. She looked up to see a blushing Kasumi trying to hider her face in shame, her foot stuck in Shampoo’s way.
Mousse took one look at the picture, and immediately broke out in tears. He turned to his love. “How could you do such a thing! To cast aside my love for you like that!”
Shampoo rolled her eyes. <Oh relax Mousse, I’ve had sex with you lots of times,> she replied in Chinese. This of course stopped him in his tracks, distracting him long enough for Shampoo to splash him with a bucket of water, and hit him over the head with the empty bucket. Once he was unconscious she tossed him back into the kitchen. She’d have to wipe him again later, or else she’d never get another moment of peace.
Kuno harrumphed as he looked at the picture himself deep inside of Shampoo. “This is obviously a forgery. I have never been with any woman other than the beautiful Akane.”
Nabiki just sighed and glared at her father, daring him to say another stupid thing that would commit her baby sister to a marriage she’d hate. At least she didn’t despise Ranma anymore. She shouldn’t have bothered, since he was already drunk from all the expensive whiskey he was drinking, and thus anything he would have said was stupid. On the other hand, this gave her a good excuse. “As you can plainly see Kuno, my father has enjoyed a little too much of your gift, and thus he won’t be able to make a well educated decision. Might I suggest that we reconvene at a later date?”
Kuno gave Nabiki another dirty look. This was the one fly in the ointment, that in marrying Akane, he would also be related to her mercenary sister. His sister on the other hand looked as if she might be about to arrange her own marriage, when there was a protest from an unlikely source. “I’m afraid I need to agree with Nabiki and ask for a delay on a decision,” said Nodoka. “I cannot in good conscious arrange a marriage with you, Kodachi, unless your parents are present as well. Perhaps we can meet again at a later date.”
Kodachi frowned deeply. “I’m afraid that our father has left for Hawaii this morning, and isn’t due back for a month. Our mother is no longer around.”
Nodoka looked sympathetic. “I’m sorry for your loss.”
“She left Father for her personal trainer. He had hair so long he could sit on it.”
“Oh. Well, then lets set another omiai for a month from today when he returns to Japan.”
Kuno snapped his fingers, and one of his servants approached holding a date book. “We are available again on the twentieth of April, and our father should have returned by then.”
“Very well. We shall meet here again on that date. I thank you for your invitation tonight, but I think we should be going.”
Kuno looked puzzled. “Invitation? We were under the impression that you invited us?”
Nabiki looked suspiciously over at Shampoo, who was looking anywhere but at the people sitting around the table. She’d have to keep an eye on her.
The next day at school was interesting. Both Ranma and Akane couldn’t help but have big smiles on their faces the entire day, despite hearing about their omiai with the Kunos last night. It also affected their schoolwork. Well, not Ranma so much as he daydreamed anyway, but Akane was having an exceedingly hard time concentrating on anything. Her friends had noticed as well, and interrogated her during lunch.
“So did you and Ranma finally do the deed then?” asked Sayuri, subtle as a bomb.
Akane couldn’t help herself. She blushed hard and looked down, telling her friends all they needed to know. They started to squeal excitedly, but Akane shushed them into silence, looking over at Ukyo to see if she was looking at them. “Look I’ll give you details if you swear not to tell ANYONE. So help me if Ukyo finds out you’re going to be eating through a straw for weeks,” she threatened, waving her fist under their noses. They all nodded excitedly and waited for their friend to spill.
Ranma was having to deal with his own group of nosy friends, but at least his reputation showed that if they bothered him too much that he would actually follow through on his threats. On the other hand, some of the things they were asking about were giving him ideas to try. That sixty-nine thing sounded like it might be fun.
Finally the day ended and Ranma and Akane were allowed to go home. It was then that Ranma noticed something that would probably lead to their downfall: Akane was walking funny, still feeling sore from the night before. What was worse, someone else seemed to notice as well, Ukyo had a look on her face that could melt steel, and was storming over to them. “So you finally did it,” she accused Akane. “You finally stole Ranma away from me.”
Akane schooled her face, trying not to blush. Now was not the time for “What do you mean Ukyo?” she asked, trying her damndest to sound innocent.
“I’ve seen how you’ve been walking all day today Akane. If it was just for an hour or so, I’d have just thought that you had a wedgie or something, but you never stopped. You and Ranma had sex last night, and you’re still feeling sore aren’t you?”
Akane looked to Ranma, but he was of no use, completely locked up thinking that they had been caught. Akane on the other hand had an idea. “It’s not what you think Ukyo. I went to rescue Ranma from Kodachi the other day right? Some of her servants got in a few good blows.” She looked around, before dragging Ukyo off behind the storage shed. When they returned, Ukyo was the one looking embarrassed. She apologized to Akane, but still didn’t speak to Ranma. Ranma was confused. “What did you say to her?”
“I showed her the bruise on my side and explained that someone had gotten me in the groin as well, and that was why I was walking funny.”
Ranma breathed a sigh of relief. “Good thing that worked. I’m not sure when we should tell her the truth though. She’s already angry at me rejecting her the other day, telling her that you and I had sex might push her to do something drastic. Remember how she was before she decided that she wanted to be my fiancée again?” Ranma shuddered. “I don’t want to have to fight her, and I don’t want you to either. I just want us to be friends.” He suddenly got a lecherous look in his eye. “Maybe tonight I can kiss it better for you and you won’t walk so funny tomorrow.”
Akane gave her lover a death glare, but then remembered that she wanted him to touch her now, so instead settled for smacking him upside the head. “Not where people will hear you Baka!” she whispered. Still, it was always nice when he said things like that that assured her that she was the one he had chosen. But she also felt bad for Ukyo and the situation she had been thrust into. She wasn’t sure how, but someday she’d make it up to the chef for lying to her about this.
One month later…
Ranma found himself in an increasingly familiar place, lying on the futon out in the dojo, with Akane cuddled up to him. Oh, and they were both naked. That was an important little detail. She was also snoring rather loudly, hence why he wasn’t sleeping himself. She always seemed to do that after sex. She’d go at it like a chainsaw for about an hour, before she’d shift in her sleep, and suddenly be breathing quietly again, so he’d just have to wait it out. At least she didn’t toss and turn in her sleep anymore like she used to, although she had taken to clutching onto him hard instead.
Ranma got some of his best thinking done during that hour, and usually used it to reflect on the days events. This entire month had been a little too eventful if one were to ask him. Once the floodgates had been opened with Akane, she had been almost insatiable. He had moved out of the spare room with his parents and into the dojo, citing the need for his own space rather than having to share it with his parents. He implied to his father that perhaps a little privacy might help with his relationship with his mother as well, hoping the want for sex after so many years of celibacy would make his father agree with him. It worked.
So he moved his meager belongings out to the dojo, but only enough that he could shove it all in the closet when they needed the dojo for its’ primary function. His move had the added benefit of having a place for Akane to join him at night. They had once tried to have sex in her bed, but Akane is what is known in the bedroom as a screamer. The one time they had done it in her room had left them so worried that they had been heard that they hadn’t even looked at each other at home for a week. Of course this led to other interesting trysts.
Akane had a bit of an exhibitionist streak in her. They’d done it in the janitor’s closet, the equipment shed, on the roof, and that was just during the day. They’d even snuck onto school grounds late at night and did it against the wall where Shampoo had started the entire mess. Then there was that time where she had wanted to do it in the park, but they got interrupted just as he pulled his pants down by a surprise rainstorm, and then Kuno who saw his pigtailed goddess without her pants on and chased her across town. He was a little worried that Akane almost wanted to get caught. As it was he needed to cover her mouth to keep her from making too much noise in the closet.
Not that he was complaining. He always got excited whenever Akane got that look in her eye at about ten in the morning, and he knew he was going to get desert with his lunch. Buying all those condoms was really starting to eat into his spending money, but it was certainly a sacrifice he was willing to make.
He was almost sure that Akane’s friends had found out, if not had been outright told by her when they did it the first time. They would give him sly glances every so often and giggle when he noticed them. It was kind of weird, but if Akane was bragging about her big studly fiancée, who was he to argue?
The one thing they hadn’t tried yet – he was both curious about it and scared shitless about it – was doing it while he was a girl. Sure Akane was getting more and more into some kinky ideas, she’d shaved her own pubic hair and insisted he stay bald as well, and they’d done all the positions they could think of and even invented some that most people couldn’t do unless they were both as strong and flexible as Ranma and Akane were, but he’d never asked her if she’d like to do it as two girls. He was a little afraid that she’d hate him for asking, or worse, that she’d go for it and he’d like it too much.
Suddenly Akane woke with a start and looked around, seemingly forgetting where she was. She sighed contentedly once she figured it out and snuggled in closer. Ranma hated to break the mood, but there was something that they had to discuss. “We got that omiai with the Kunos in a few days. How do we want to deal with it?”
Akane groaned that he had to bring it up now, when she was feeling so good. It was the night that they first made love that their parents had come home from a “meeting with friends” which had turned out to be an omiai, possibly set up by Shampoo, with the intention that they would be wed to the Kunos. Akane couldn’t believe how stupid their fathers were being by even considering the idea. Her own father had claimed that it would still be joining the schools since they would be inlaws, and since they were so against marrying each other that this would be a viable solution. It took all of her willpower not to kick her father over the horizon after that comment.
Fortunately her sisters were on her side, knowing about all the hardships she’d had to put up with due to Kuno. Surprisingly, Ranma’s mother also seemed to be on their side as well, despite her early intentions to agree with it since Kodachi was promising her at least one grandchild a year. However, once she was sat down by the Tendo women and explained the situation, along with pictures of Kuno having sex with Shampoo and an embarrassed Akane telling her what Kodachi had done to her manly son’s hair, she was dead set against the arrangement. Of course, Akane didn’t tell her that she had asked Ranma to keep it clean.
“Ranma, we’ll go to the thing, and tell them we aren’t interested in marrying them. They aren’t going to listen, but we’ll just ignore them like we always do. If our fathers try to decide for us, Auntie has said that she’d help to convince them otherwise. With her katana. Now can I go back to sleep?”
Ranma just sighed and gave her a squeeze. Akane lay there for a second before looking up at him, and giving him a long kiss on the lips. “I love you, Baka,” she said before putting her head down again.
“I love you too Tomboy,” he replied, and settled himself down to sleep as well. Maybe if he fell asleep first he wouldn’t notice her snoring.
Shampoo was sick. She’d woken up that morning and just didn’t have the energy to get out of bed. When Cologne came up to check on her, she said she didn’t have a fever, and therefore had no excuse to get out of working for the day. So she dragged herself out of bed, and jumped in the shower to wash up for the day. She nearly fell asleep on her feet standing under the hot water, which resulted in Cologne yelling at her to move her slow ass or else she’d be made to wait on the women customers all day rather than the men. This of course was considered a bad thing since it meant she’d be getting fewer tips. She didn’t even have the energy to beat up on Mousse when he hugged her. She had to settle with stomping on his instep instead.
When she sat down for breakfast, she felt queasy. When Cologne served her breakfast, congee and you tiao made just how she liked it, her stomach turned. She couldn’t even drink down the rice gruel. Instead she stood from the table, and went out into the dining room to prepare the tables. Just the smells of the kitchen were making her woozy.
It didn’t get any better as the day progressed. By the time they had opened for lunch, she felt like she was just one second away from emptying her stomach. The only thing that kept her from doing so was the fact that there was nothing in it. She tried to put on a happy face for the steady stream of customers coming through the door, but she just couldn’t hold it for long. Many of the regulars commented on how green she looked and that she should go lie down. Some of the more lecherous ones suggested that they had the cure and that she should allow them to administer it orally… or anally… or vaginally. Since these customers were also the biggest tippers, she just ignored their advances.
The final straw came when she had to serve the first dish of the day, fish ramen. The smell of the meat in the soup hit her with a wave of nausea that she just could not keep down. Halfway to the table she felt the bile rising in her throat, and quickly tossed the bowl onto the table in front of the customer. This earned her a round of applause as the soup landed without spilling a drop, but she couldn’t hear it as she had already raced into the bathroom, and was dry heaving into the toilet.
Shampoo stayed kneeling with her head resting on the bowl of the toilet, the cold porcelain feeling good against her forehead as she tried to catch her breath. Why was she feeling this sick? It just came on all of a sudden, yesterday she was feeling fine. She was sure the chicken last night was cooked thoroughly, she had grilled it herself. She hadn’t gone out drinking last night since she knew she had to work today, that and she didn’t have a man to buy her drinks at the moment. She hadn’t even snuck some of her Grandma’s opium in weeks. Why was she sick?
Cologne entered the bathroom behind her granddaughter, less than pleased that she was short one worker for the day. She wasn’t completely heartless though. “Are you all right Shampoo?” A non-committal grunt is all she got in reply. Cologne walked up to her and felt her forehead, it was cool. “You don’t have a fever, so it’s not the flu. If you’re hung over I’m just going to make you go back out there you know,” she warned.
Shampoo just shook her head. “No Great-Grandmother, haven’t had anything to drink in a long time. Shampoo not know why she is feeling sick today.”
Cologne grabbed her wrist to check her pulse. She also placed her hands on Shampoo’s neck, chest, and stomach, checking her over. She couldn’t quite tell what was wrong with her, but it was obvious that she wasn’t faking. There was certainly something out of alignment in her ki, and it was making her nauseous. “Perhaps the chicken you ate last night was bad, and you just have food poisoning. Why don’t you go upstairs to rest and I’ll come check on you in an hour.
Shampoo nodded, and dragged herself up the stairs to her bedroom. No sooner did her head hit the pillow, she was asleep. It only seemed like a second that she was out before Cologne was shaking her awake. “I need you to stand up so I can examine you Shampoo,” she said.
Shampoo noted that she didn’t feel quite so sick anymore, so she stood up, and let her grandmother look at her. She knew that she was observing her ki patterns, looking for any kind of change that would explain the sickness.
Cologne had to say she was somewhat baffled. Shampoo’s ki was wildly different, but her body didn’t seem to be preparing to fend of a disease. It was then that she realized that there would be one reason other than disease that would cause her ki to look this way, and make her sick as well, and if this test came back positive, it would either be a glorious day, or one that Shampoo would rue for the rest of her life. Unfortunately, considering how much Son-in-law had been avoiding coming to the restaurant lately, she was guessing it was going to be the latter.
Shampoo was starting to look nervous as Cologne took on an almost angry stare as she examined her. Finally she spoke. “Shampoo, when was your last moon flow?”
This question caught her by surprise. She had to think about it for a second before she answered. “Shampoo think it was about five or six weeks ago.” She blinked at the revelation. She wasn’t always regular, but that seemed a bit long.
Cologne frowned deeper. “Wait right here.” She left Shampoo standing in her bedroom, going off to her own, and rummaging around in her chest of jewels. There was one in here that would tell them the answer. Ah, here it was. She held up deep blue sapphire on a long golden chain. Hurrying back to Shampoo’s room, she handed it to her granddaughter. “Put this around your neck, and let it hang down,” she instructed. Shampoo complied. The chain was long enough that the jewel at the end of it hung down to her belly. Cologne watched as it changed color. Green. Damn. “Shampoo, who have you been sleeping with?” she asked.
Shampoo’s face turned white. Was that it? Did she catch some sort of venereal disease and it was just now showing it’s ugly head? Still, it wasn’t exactly something she could admit to her grandmother. “Shampoo not sleep with anyone Great-Grandmother. Am saving self for Ranma.”
Cologne sighed and shook her head, before looking angrily up at her granddaughter. “Don’t lie Shampoo. The gem turned green. Had it been red, I might have believed you. You’re pregnant, and there is only one way to catch that particular disease. Now who was it!” She jumped up onto her stick in order to look Shampoo more in the face. “And don’t try to tell me it was Ranma. Your last statement tells me that you haven’t been sleeping with him.”
Pregnant? PREGNANT? That was impossible! She hadn’t slept with anyone in weeks! She hadn’t touched Mousse in a long time. There were those two cute customer boys that came in from time to time though, but even they’d been too busy to fool around.
Wait a minute. The last time she had sex was her failed plan to ruin Akane. That was about a month ago wasn’t it? Oh no…
“TA MA DE! Not him!” she shouted.
Cologne grabbed the chain around Shampoo’s neck and dragged her down, her face an inch away from Shampoo’s. “Who is the father? Is it Mousse?” She could just about stand it if it was, at least he was an Amazon who knew his place.
Shampoo averted her eyes, and shook her head. “Kuno,” she mumbled.
Cologne nearly fell over. “Kuno? KUNO? You chose that idiot to bed with?”
Shampoo tried to explain. “Was in Akane’s form! Was trying to ruin Akane’s reputation by rutting with stupid Stick Boy in front of the school in her form using instant Jusenkyo spring. But Shampoo’s plan failed when real Akane showed up and dumped hot water on Shampoo. Kuno finished inside of me, but Shampoo thought it was a safe day!”
“Idiot!” Cologne cried, rapping Shampoo over the head with her staff. “The rhythm method doesn’t work!” She rubbed her head in exasperation. “Are you sure it is Kuno?”
Shampoo nodded. “Could be a couple other boys, they regular customers, but Shampoo not see them in a while. Kuno only since last moon flow.”
Cologne could kill her granddaughter. “You sleep with the customers?” Small wonder she got so many tips. “Just how many boys have you slept with Miss Saving-it-for-Ranma.”
Shampoo stopped to think about it. She didn’t know herself. She just shrugged, but that seemed to only aggravate Cologne further. The one thing that would have trapped Ranma into a marriage with her, and she was risking getting pregnant with who knows how many guys, and she had finally lost that gamble. She smacked Shampoo over the head again. “Lie down and take a nap. I’ll bring you some ginger tea in a little while. That should cure your morning sickness. Today you can rest, but tomorrow, you’re back to work understand?” Shampoo just nodded and moved to comply. “I’m going to go see that Kuno boy and find out for sure if he is the father of your child. The child which you are keeping by the way. I’m going to make you carry that child to term as your punishment for fucking our entire plan up.”
Shampoo laid down in her bed to do just that. If Great-Grandmother was cursing like that, then she must have really screwed up. Damn! If only she’d figured it out first, she could have taken care of the little problem before it became a big one! Now she was being forced to carry the idiot’s child, and was probably going to lose Ranma over it as well. She closed her eyes and cried herself to sleep.
Cologne was hopping madly along on her stick, racing to the Kuno estate. Her one glimmer of hope was that this idiot wasn’t really the father, that one of Shampoo’s other friends might be. Of course, considering how afraid Shampoo had been that it was Kuno didn’t bode well for that plan.
Finally she arrived, and promptly rang the doorbell. When it was answered by someone on the intercom rather than in person, she took it as an insult, but kept her temper in check. “I wish to speak with the boy,” she said to the man on the screen.
“I’m afraid that Master Kuno is terribly busy at the moment and is not taking any visitors,” came the reply from the speaker.
“I’m afraid it is a matter of the utmost importance,” she replied. “I suspect that he has gotten my great-granddaughter pregnant, and I wish to be sure.”
The man on the screen was taken aback. The entire staff had heard the cries of pleasure coming from Kuno’s bedroom, but they had all assumed that he was watching another one of his “movies”. The fact that the only woman who had come to visit Kuno… well, ever… was Akane Tendo, who had since then fought tooth and nail to rescue Kodachi’s paramour, it was just astonishing to think that it was possible that the young master had actually lost his virginity. “Wait right there, someone will be down shortly to take you to Master Kuno,” he said.
The door opened and a young servant girl bowed low to Cologne before leading her into the house. Cologne took note of the peculiar weaving path the girl was taking along the straight hallway, almost as if she were avoiding something. Figuring it must have been for a good reason, she followed the same path. She didn’t want to have to waste her time by needing to destroy any traps that might be placed in her way.
Finally they reached Kuno’s room. The servant girl knocked quietly on the door and waited for a response. She opened the door when prompted, and bowed low. “This woman wishes to speak with you Master Kuno,” she said keeping her eyes averted.
Kuno sneered at her. “I told you I didn’t want to be interrupted today,” he said. It looked as if he were trying to do calligraphy with a large brush on a sheet of paper at his feet. His penmanship was so poor that Cologne couldn’t make out what the character was supposed to be. The walls of the room were covered in an odd wallpaper that had the faces of both Akane Tendo and Son-in-law’s female side smiling at the people in the room. Cologne had heard stories about how devoted this man was to his two “loves”, but this was rather creepy.
The servant kept her eyes averted. “I know Master Kuno, but this woman says that she has a matter of honor that she needs to speak to you about.”
“Oh? Well then she may speak if she is brief,” he replied. He waved the servant away, before tuning to face Cologne for the first time. “And what matter of honor do you bring to the most honorable Tatewaki Kuno?” he asked.
Cologne held out the jewel on the long chain that she had used to test Shampoo. The gem was still green. “Put this on around your neck and let it hang down.”
Puzzled, Kuno complied. “I do not understand what this has to do with honor old woman. I do not wear jewelry such as this. If you are looking for a person with a similar figure to my own magnificent self who does wear such gaudy baubles, then I wish you luck in your search.”
Cologne was ignoring the stream of nonsense that was spewing from his mouth, and concentrated on the gem. It was turning back to blue. Well damn. If it had stayed green, then it would have meant he wasn’t the father. As it was now… “I’m afraid that I have indeed found who I am looking for sonny. The stone has changed color. You are the father of the child my granddaughter is carrying.”
Kuno, for once in his life, found himself speechless. Father? “Then you are the grandmother of the fierce tigress Akane Tendo? Oh joyous day! I promise you my good woman that I shall do the right thing and wed her at once!” He started to dance around the room.
Cologne was flabbergasted. “No, I am the grandmother of the idiot Shampoo. You know, long purple hair, Chinese, works in the restaurant downtown.”
“Oh but that is impossible, for I have only been with one woman, and that woman is Akane Tendo. I would never debase myself so much to sleep with a gaijin. Surely you are just being senile in forgetting who is your offspring. Now if you will excuse me, I have a wedding to plan.” He ushered the older woman out of the room, and slammed the door behind her.
Cologne was amazed at how stupid this boy truly was. She knew that Shampoo had said that she was in Akane’s form when she had slept with him, but for him to take it so far as to believe she didn’t know her own granddaughter? She expected him to be confused, and then have it demonstrated for him before he understood, not just completely ignore everything he didn’t want to hear. His obsession with the Tendo girl was a step beyond unhealthy to the point where Cologne felt concerned for the girl.
Well, this was a mess made by Amazon magic, it would just have to be cleaned up with Amazon magic as well. Cologne would hire some extra help around the restaurant and have Mousse spy on Kuno. When the boy went to claim Akane for his own, claiming that she was pregnant with his child, she’d go along to prove that she wasn’t even pregnant. She didn’t particularly like the girl, but she wouldn’t wish this man on any woman.
Akane couldn’t remember a time when she was happier. Ever since she and Ranma had finally admitted their feelings for each other, she just found it harder and harder to get angry. Oh sure they still had fights, he still refused to eat her cooking damn it, but they always made up later that night, and angry sex was beginning to become Akane’s favorite.
Mmmmm, just the thought of lying with Ranma, all hot and sweaty and naked, was making her wish she could take him right now. Unfortunately there was still an hour before the end of the school day. She didn’t understand why she felt so horny all the time, she was getting it every night, and most days during lunch as well. It was just such a great feeling that she felt she had to make up for lost time. Why was she so against doing this?
She yawned and had to stifle it with her hand. That was the only problem with all the fun she’d been having. The only way for them to get any privacy at all was for Akane to stay up late at night and sneak into the dojo when everyone else was asleep. Then she had to get up early and go back to her own bed before even Kasumi woke up in the morning. She was running on perhaps 5 or 6 hours of sleep a day, and it was starting to get to her. She was even starting to feel a little sick. She was sure Ranma would understand though if she told him that she needed to rest.
Ranma. It was amazing how different he had become in such a short while. He no longer pointed out her every flaw and picked on her all the time. He was training her in the art, and it was really beginning to show both in her skill, and in her body. He also had his own sweet way of showing his affection for her, too shy to be open about it, but still would sneak in quick kisses every so often when nobody was looking, sometimes when she least expected it. It was those times that she really felt the need to pounce on him.
He also had this little game he liked to play which he called “Shikoku.” Any chance he got, usually when she was naked, but sometimes when they were just alone in a room, he’d smack her on the ass and cry out “Shikoku!” It was always in the same spot too, right where her birthmark was, which was why he’d call out the name of the island when he did it. At first Akane found it extremely annoying, and thought he was teasing her about her mark, but then she figured out that he was doing it because he thought the mark was sexy, and liked to bring attention to it. Once she realized this, she found the game downright erotic.
Well… maybe it wouldn’t hurt for them to fool around again tonight. After all, they had that farce of an omiai with the Kunos tomorrow, and she wanted to be as relaxed and stress free about the entire thing as possible. If nothing else, that was the greatest benefit of all, was that she always felt relaxed afterwards. She’d need all the help she could get to get through the omiai without killing someone.
Oh gods, Ranma loved it when Akane was on top. Not only did he not have to do any work, but he got to see her entire body on display for him from her face scrunched up in ecstasy, down past her bouncing breasts, all the way down to her clean shaven pubic area, mashed up against his own. He could reach up and touch any part of her that he liked, and really drive her wild. Right now he was grasping onto her breasts, massaging them as she bounced. They seemed to be getting more and more sensitive lately, so he played with them as much as possible. He was also almost certain they were getting bigger too.
Finally Akane let out a scream and sat down hard, her orgasm causing her to squeeze tightly on his cock. It always hurt a little, but he never complained since it was his big signal that he had done his job properly. He was even starting to enjoy it, and it caused him to fall into his own orgasm. Exhausted, Akane fell down on top of him, and he held on to her as they caught their breath. Ranma pulled out of her, and removed the condom, tying a knot in it and setting it aside for disposal later. He kissed his fiancée and held her tight.
He could hear Akane’s breathing begin to slow as she started to fall asleep, but there was something he wanted to ask first. “Akane? You awake?”
“Mmm,” came the non-committal grunt.
“Can I ask you something?”
“I don’t really want to wait anymore. After we tell off the Kunos tomorrow, I think that will mean all our other commitments have been dealt with. Will you… will you marry me?”
Ranma boggled at his fiancée. “Uhh… Akane?”
Ranma couldn’t tell if she was really too far gone asleep that she didn’t hear what he asked or if she was pulling his leg. He gave her a gentle shake. She stirred and looked up at him. “What is it Ranma?”
He smiled at her. “Didn’t you hear a word I said?”
Akane looked miffed that he had woken her up. “You were asking me a question. Can’t it wait until tomorrow?” Akane settled down on his chest to fall asleep again, when her brain finally caught up to what her ears had heard him say. Suddenly she was wide awake and looking at him wide eyed. “You want to get married? For real? To me?”
Ranma just smiled. “Is that a yes?”
Akane’s answer was to kiss him hard on the mouth, more electrifying than anything they’d experienced before. When she finally pulled away, she said one word: “Yes.” Then she reached for the box of condoms.
She said yes many more times before they finally fell asleep.
The next day found the collective Tendo, Saotome, and Kuno families all gathered in the Neko Hanten once more. This time, however, Ranma, Akane, and Principal Kuno were also in attendance. Nabiki was kind of surprised that her sister had even bothered to show up, but then again, maybe the Kunos would actually understand they were being rejected if it was done formally and traditionally.
All assembled had dressed in their very best. It was odd seeing Principal Kuno wearing a suit and sans his trademark sunglasses and palm tree. On the other hand it also looked as if he wasn’t conscious either. The big lump on his forehead was just more evidence to suggest this.
There was one thing that was weirding Nabiki out though, and that was the demeanor of her younger sister. If Akane’s smile was any wider, the top of her head would fall off. She also seemed to be hiding something in her hand. Nabiki normally wouldn’t have taken any notice, but Akane was playing with whatever it was clutched between her hands, constantly rubbing her thumb over something. She couldn’t guess what it was.
The parents were once again lavished with many expensive gifts, this time there seemed to be two sets of keys in the pile. Genma was practically drooling over it, but one quick glance at his wife’s angry face told him he’d better keep his hands to himself. Soun for his part was trying his damnedest not to even look at it, lest he fall to temptation. He could feel Kasumi’s hard face on him, making sure he didn’t.
Finally Kuno spoke. “As you can see, our father is present today and so we may continue with our discussion of a month ago.” He waved to the pile in front of him. “This is but a small gift for my future in laws. Now please tell me your answer.”
Kodachi, once again dressed in the wedding kimono, addressed the Saotomes, passing them a check covered in zeroes. “This is my dowry, please accept it as a token of my appreciation for allowing me to join the noble Saotome clan.” She bowed low, but Nabiki noticed that she had to put a hand to her head. It seemed that she was trying to keep her hairpiece in place.
Ranma snerked at the adjective “noble.” Not when it came to his father it wasn’t. This entire thing was beginning to get out of hand. He was about to say something snide, when his mother spoke up. “I’m afraid that we must decline your generous offer Lady Kodachi,” she said. “My family already has an agreement with the Tendo family to wed our son to their youngest daughter.”
Genma got a look at the number on the check and paled at his wife’s declaration. “But… but No-chan! Just look at this check!” He picked it up to show it to her, only to have it fall apart in two pieces in his hand. Nobody saw the Saotome family blade move, but they heard it as it slid home into its scabbard.
For his part, Soun needed no more intimidation than what was being offered by the face of his oldest daughter. “The Tendo family is going to have to decline as well. My daughter is already engaged to wed the Saotome son.” On the other hand… “Perhaps you’d be interested in marrying one of my other daughters?” For that remark he earned a kick in the shins under the table from both of his other daughters.
Kuno didn’t seem to notice. “Nay, though it is good of you to offer so that our families may be joined, I do not wish to marry any save the fair Akane. Especially since she carries my child.”
Stunned silence was the only response to this declaration. Since Kuno was used to people being stunned in his presence, he continued to speak. “Only yesterday, the grandmother of Akane Tendo came to my abode and informed me that her granddaughter was pregnant, and that I, Tatewaki Kuno, The Blue Thunder, was child’s father. Being an honorable man, I at once pledged to her that I would do the right thing and wed the fair Akane.” He drew himself up into a dramatic pose in an effort to show his sincerity and magnificence at doing what was honorable.
Akane laid him flat with a right cross to the jaw. “What on Earth are you talking about you idiot? I have never in my life slept with you, nor will I ever even consider it! And both my grandmothers are dead!” She reared back to kick him in the stomach while he was down, but Ranma intervened and pulled her back into a hug. Nabiki’s eyes boggled as she saw him calm her little sister by holding her. Since when did they get so close?
Then they heard a voice coming from the kitchen. “I’m afraid that young Master Kuno got the wrong idea when I went to visit him.” Cologne stepped out of the kitchen, Shampoo in tow. The younger Amazon had her head bowed, Nabiki thought she looked a little green.
Cologne held up the blue jewel. “This jewel is an ancient family heirloom,” she said. “It has mystical powers in that it acts as a pregnancy test, much more accurate than anything available on the market today.” She placed the chain around her neck, and the gem turned red. “When placed around the neck of a woman who is not pregnant, the sapphire turns red.” She removed it and put it around Shampoo’s neck. “About the neck of a pregnant woman, it turns green.” Everyone gasped when they saw that indeed the jewel was green. Nabiki started to see dollar signs at this implication. She had many bets on the fact that Shampoo would be the first to bed Ranma and get pregnant. This made all those bets null in her book.
Cologne then turned to Kuno. “So you see sonny, my granddaughter, SHAMPOO, is pregnant, and she claims that you are the father.”
Kuno rubbed his sore jaw. “That is preposterous. I would never debase myself to lay with a gaijin such as your daughter.”
Shampoo looked up and glared daggers at him. Cologne was less than pleased with this boy’s attitude as well, but she had one more ace up her sleeve. “Shampoo has told me that she had used magic to take the form of your Akane Tendo to seduce you in an effort to ruin her reputation.” She removed the jewel from about Shampoo’s neck. “If this jewel is worn by the father of the child she is carrying then it will return to blue.” She called for Mousse. He came into the dining room, a defeated man. He obviously hadn’t slept last night, and wouldn’t even look at Shampoo. “Put it around your neck to demonstrate, please.” Mousse complied, and saw that the gem stayed green. Cologne sighed sadly before she offered the necklace to Kuno. “Now you.”
“This is preposterous, I refuse to take part in this farce. Your granddaughter may be pregnant, old woman, but I guarantee that the child is not mine.” For all his protests, all Kuno received was a smack on the head from Cologne’s stick, and had the necklace placed around his neck anyway. Everyone gasped when it turned blue once more.
Akane smiled. Finally Shampoo made a fatal error, and was no longer in her hair. With any luck, Kuno might not be either. She sighed in relief and leaned back against her fiancé who was holding her. Now they could come out in the open, show everyone her new engagement ring, and eventually get married.
Suddenly, Ranma had an idea. “Hey Kuno! You got Shampoo pregnant because I used my ‘demon magic’ to make her look like Akane while you had sex with her.” Shampoo gave him a look that said “don’t do me any favors.”
Suddenly it all made sense. Of course, the demon Saotome used this poor gaijin woman to fool him and trap him! He moved to draw his bokken and kill the demon in vengeance, when he felt a hand over his. “Brother, you may have rutted with that foreigner once, but don’t forget that you were with the Tendo girl later that night. Perhaps the genuine article that time?”
This got Kuno’s attention, and before Akane could deny anything, he had removed the necklace and placed it about her neck. Akane looked annoyed, and lifted the jewel up to show him that it hadn’t changed color when she noticed something odd.
The jewel was green.
“Aha! You see!” Kuno cried. “She is carrying my child after all!” He turned towards the door. “Fear not dear Akane! I will soon return with the family blade and with it I shall kill the demon before us and free you to marry me!” He ran out the door before anyone could stop him.
“Ohohohohoho! So the fair Akane Tendo isn’t so fair after all!” laughed Kodachi. “Ranma is mine at last!”
Ranma was still in a stupor. His lover was pregnant. He snapped out of it when he realized what Kodachi was saying, glaring at the laughing woman. He still had an issue with hitting her, but he had a new idea. He slipped into the umi-sen-ken briefly, and Kodachi’s wig disappeared.
“My hair!” Kodachi screamed, trying to cover her fuzzy head with her arms. She ran screaming from the restaurant, following her brother. Neither Kuno noticed that they had left their father still unconscious at the table.
Akane was still staring at the green jewel, near tears at the fact that she was pregnant. Her father finally found his voice. “Well Akane,” he asked sternly. “Is the Kuno boy’s claim true?”
Akane stared at her father, incredulous that he’d even suggest such a thing. Thankfully Ranma seemed to know what to do. He gently took the necklace off of Akane’s neck, and placed it around his own. The jewel turned blue. He then reached out a hand, caressing her cheek, before pulling her in close, and kissing her gently. Akane responded in kind, lifting her left hand, and showing her family the simple silver ring that they had picked out that morning.
Which is when both were tackled by an overly enthusiastic Kasumi and Nodoka.
Back at the Tendo house, the combined Saotome and Tendo families were all gathered in the living room discussing what had happened last month which finally brought the youngest members of the families together. Akane was snuggling in Ranma’s lap, trying to draw on his calmness. Her hand was resting on her stomach, and she was concentrating on it, trying to see if she could feel her baby.
Ranma for his part was alert to everything in his surroundings. He knew Kuno would be coming for him soon, and he wanted to make sure he was ready. He also could tell that some of the people in the room were less than pleased that he had gotten his lover pregnant.
Finally the discussion turned to the future. “Well, Son,” said Soun. “What do you plan to do about my daughter?”
Ranma looked Soun dead in the eye, his determination flowing off of him in waves. “I plan to marry her of course. I asked her last night before we knew about her being pregnant, and she said yes. I… I love her, and she loves me.” He gave Akane a little squeeze.
Kasumi spoke up next, visibly upset. “But what are you going to do about the baby? Neither of you will be out of school when it comes, and you won’t be able to take care of it. You’ll probably have a hard time getting a job in order to buy everything it is going to need for that matter.”
Ranma hadn’t thought of that. At least he did have one thing going for him though. “I have the art. I’ll start teaching classes in the dojo to help pay for everything.” He turned to Soun. “If that’s ok with you… Dad.”
It was the “Dad” that did the trick. Soun teared up and nodded, elated that his dreams of uniting the families were coming to pass. “Of course you can… Son,” he managed to squeak out before he was too overwhelmed with emotion.
Akane let out a big yawn. “I think I’m going to get to bed, it’s been a long day.” She turned in her seat to give Ranma a quick kiss, before getting up and walking out of the room. Ranma just smiled as he watched her go. Nabiki had to pick up her chin off the floor at how comfortable her sister was with Ranma. She shook her head, and excused herself as well, needing to get up to her room to see who she could collect from in the morning.
Kasumi stood as well, but didn’t go to her room. She turned to go to the kitchen instead. “Ranma, could I speak with you privately please?” she asked. Ranma looked up at her, and saw that she was still upset. He gulped nervously, and followed her.
Kasumi was standing at the sink washing dishes, her back turned to Ranma as he walked into the room. The fact that the dishes already seemed to be clean tipped off Ranma as to how furious she was with him. He cleared his throat to get her attention.
Kasumi slammed the dish into the drying rack, shattering it. She looked down at her hand in surprise, as if it had done that on its’ own. She closed her eyes and took a deep shuddering breath before addressing to her new brother-in-law, her back still turned to him. “I’m very disappointed in you Ranma,” she said in a low voice. “I thought you’d be honorable enough to wait until you were married to Akane before you started doing… that. Now my sister is pregnant before she’s ready, before either of you are ready, to take on the responsibility of a child.”
Ranma wanted to defend himself. It wasn’t COMPLETELY his fault. She’d seduced him! It was hard to talk back to Kasumi though, so he tried for placating her instead. “I know, and I’m sorry Kasumi. It just kinda happened. I didn’t force her into anything, and we always used protection.”
Kasumi rounded on him now. “Every time? Are you sure about that? Even if you are, condoms aren’t 100 percent effective Ranma, nothing is save not doing it.”
Ranma had to think about that. He was pretty sure that they’d always used a condom Ever since she gave him one to put on that first time at school. Wait… that was the day after… ah hell.
Ranma averted his eyes, not able to look his new sister in the eye while she was tearing him a new one. Especially since he now had a pretty good idea how Akane got pregnant in the first place. Then he heard Kasumi sigh, and close the distance between them. She put her hand on his shoulder. “I know you didn’t mean for this to happen, and that it’s not completely your fault. I just wish it hadn’t happened this way.” She pulled him into a hug. “Welcome to the family, little brother.” Ranma returned the hug, thankful that he was being let off easy. When Kasumi pulled away, she looked him dead in the face. “If you hurt her or leave her,” she said, “I will make you wish you never set foot in my house.” She then turned her back on him, and started to clean up the broken plate. Ranma nervously made his escape.
On his way out to the dojo, he saw a shadowy figure leap from the wall. He instantly took a ready stance, thinking it was Kuno come to exact his revenge. When it came to a landing in front of him, he relaxed when it turned out to be too short to be Kuno. The presence of the walking stick allowing him to relax further since it proved it was Cologne rather than Happosai. “What is it Cologne?” he asked.
“I have just come from the Kuno mansion. You don’t have to worry about either of those crazy suitors any longer,” she said with a chuckle. “You remember the Xi Fa Xiang Gao technique don’t you? Shampoo told me she used it on your lover once.”
Ranma frowned. “Yeah, and it didn’t work. Akane was able to get her memory back.”
Cologne waved away his concerns. “That’s because my granddaughter doesn’t know the meaning of moderation. She always goes too far. I didn’t make them forget who you are, since if they were reminded enough then the amnesia wouldn’t take hold, like it did with Akane. I just made them forget all about the omiai, and the fiction they believe about that boy sleeping with your girl. Since nobody will remind them of this falsehood, they will never remember.”
Ranma was relieved to hear that he didn’t have to try to convince Kuno that the child wasn’t his. He didn’t know what would happen once Akane started to show, but he figured they’d cross that bridge when they got to it. Still, there was something odd about all this. “Why are you doing this for us?” he asked.
Cologne had a sad look on her face now. “Shampoo has failed in her pursuit of you. Her mistake in getting pregnant by another just seals her fate. She is considered and adulteress now since she got pregnant by one other than her husband, and therefore you have the option to sue for a divorce.” She scrutinized him briefly. “Unless you don’t want one.”
Ranma quickly shook his head and held up his hands. “Nonono, I want the divorce.”
“Then it’s done. You two are no longer bride and groom.” She sighed sadly. “I had hoped to bring your genes and your knowledge of the art into the tribe, but now I see that that was just a dream. Since you have professed your love for Akane, I figured the least I could do to make up for this debacle would be to help you with the Kunos.”
Ranma was stunned that his ordeal with Shampoo was over. He wondered if there was a way he could have helped this to happen a long time ago. Oh well. “Thanks Cologne,” he said. “Um… What’s going to happen to Shampoo now?”
“Her punishment is that she will carry her child to term and raise it as her own. Her family has always had difficult pregnancies. Perhaps after nine months of sickness and hormone swings she will see the error of her ways.” She shook her head. “If only she’d seduced you rather than every other guy in town…” Ranma was taken aback at this statement, but said nothing in reply. “Oh well, good bye Ranma.” With that, she leapt onto her stick, and bounced off into the night.
Ranma looked up at the moon for a while, sighing a bit at the fact that nothing was ever going to be the same again. He then shook his head. No, it was only going to get better, he decided. He entered the dojo, and shut the door behind him. He stripped down to his tank top and boxers, and walked in the dark over to where his futon was laid out. He was surprised to see there was already a lump under the covers. He turned the light on, and was even more surprised to find Akane was that lump, blinking awake in the light. “Ranma? You coming to bed?”
“Uh, what are you doing in my bed Akane?” he asked.
“I figured since everyone knew about us now, it would be ok for us to sleep together all the time rather than try to sneak in and out every night.” She looked up at him, tears in her eyes. “And… I… I need you to hold me… please?”
Ranma’s answer was to pull the covers back and get into bed with her. Akane clutched onto him desperately, so he held her gently, rubbing her back and whispering soothing noises to her. Finally, Akane seemed to calm down enough to fall asleep. Ranma joined her shortly thereafter.
Breakfast the next morning wasn’t as tense as Ranma was dreading it to be. Kasumi was still visibly miffed, but was still able to put on a smile for her family and join in the morning’s conversation. Soun hid his face behind the morning paper as he always did, only dropping it from time to time for a bite of food. Genma looked as if he wanted to say something, but one look from his wife put him in his place.
It was Nabiki who seemed to be the most animated out of everyone. She’d been up late into the night figuring out who owed her how much on the bets on when Ranma and Akane would hook up, but that didn’t seem to slow her down now that the hour of collection was at hand. Akane glared over her sister, a sour look on her face. “And just how much money are you set to earn thanks to people betting on my sex life?”
Nabiki giggled maniacally. “I could put a very large down payment on a car with what I’m making today, my dear sweet sister,” she replied. Finally she just couldn’t take the wait anymore, and jumped to her feet. “I’m going to school early so that I can set up. I’ll see you there!”
“Nabiki, wait a moment and I’ll get your bento!” Kasumi called after her. She rushed into the kitchen, and came out with the lunch, meeting Nabiki at the front gate.
“Thanks Sis! Gotta run!” Nabiki said, but she stopped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up the arm to see that it was indeed attached to her demure older sister. “Um… Kasumi?”
“Nabiki, please don’t tell everyone about your sister today,” she said. “She’ll tell people when she’s ready to, and then you’ll be able to collect.”
Nabiki tried to pull away, but her sister’s grip was like iron. “I wasn’t going to tell them that Akane was pregnant, just that she and Ranma have finally done the deed.”
“Even so, I’m sure Akane could do without the stress today. She just found out yesterday that she is pregnant, and she is scared. Just give her some time.”
Nabiki gave Kasumi one of her coldest stares, but was met with one equally cold on Kasumi’s face. Finally she rolled her eyes and sighed. “OK, you win. I’ll let them tell people on their own.” She pulled her arm out of Kasumi’s grip. “Since when did you get all scary anyway?” she asked. Kasumi just gave her sister an enigmatic smile and shooed her on her way.
Akane and Ranma ran out of the door soon after. Akane waved goodbye to Kasumi, but Ranma avoided looking at her. When Akane looked at him quizzically, he just shook his head, asking her to drop it.
They arrived at school early for once. They were hoping to avoid the overexcited crowds of people wanting to confirm what Nabiki had told them, only to be surprised to find that nobody was even paying attention to them. They looked up at the balcony where Nabiki was looking down at them. It was obvious by the look on her face that she was less than pleased. “I wonder what her problem is,” said Ranma.
“ I dunno,” replied Akane. “Maybe someone didn’t want to pay up.”
Ranma was about to reply, when all the sudden Kuno came out from behind a tree. “Aha!” he shouted as he leapt from his hiding place. “My lover has come to stand by my side against the evil demon Saotome!”
Akane sighed at the antics of her upperclassman. She was going to ignore him and just continue walking into the school, when she noticed a look on Ranma face. “What is it?” she asked.
“He’s not supposed to remember that,” replied Ranma.
“And how is it that I would not remember the dear, sweet, Akane joining me in my chambers for a night of bliss.”
Akane also looked confused at run the statement. “Cologne came to me last night and told me that she had used the Xi Fa Xiang Gao technique, and made him to forget that he had slept with Shampoo,” he said. “It was supposed to be better than when Shampoo used it against you since she wasn’t trying to make and forget you all together, only that you had slept with him.” He turned to Kuno. “Did you wake up last night feeling refreshed?”
Kuno looked confused at the question. “Yes I did, but I put it down to my dear sister experimenting upon me again. She is always trying her new potions out on me before she use them against an enemy.” He smirked. “Unfortunately for her I have built up an immunity to her potions from long exposure to them.”
“Oh brother,” mumbled Ranma. “Come on Akane, lets go home. I don’t need this right now, and neither do you.” He put his arm around her shoulder and started to lead her away, his fiancée blushing at the sudden show of affection, when they were stopped cold by the continuing ranting of the lunatic behind them.
“Halt!” Kuno cried, unsheathing a metal katana. He screamed as he dashed after the pair, an overhead strike intending to remove Ranma’s arm from her shoulder, and from his own as well. Ranma turned at the sound of his scream, and shoved Akane out of the way, knocking her to the ground. “Dammit Kuno, you almost hit Akane!” he cried. He winced as he remembered the baby, but hitting the ground was better than getting cut by that sword.
Kuno didn’t seem to realize what was going on. “You shall no longer hold sway over the mother of my child!” he screamed as he renewed his attack, slashing quickly over and over. Ranma managed to dodge the attacks, but since he didn’t want to risk a block against the katana, he was unable to effectively counterattack. He backed away from the crazed kendoist, trying to lead him away from Akane. Finally, Ranma had Kuno right where he wanted him. A duck under a side slash left the katana stuck fast in the trunk of a tree. Ranma used the opening to follow up with an uppercut, lifting his opponent off his feet. Kuno didn’t get back up.
Ranma took a deep breath, shuddering as he let it out. This maniac nearly killed Akane, and yet he professed to love her? It took all his willpower not to do more permanent damage to the prone Kendoist. Instead, he looked over at the sword still embedded in the tree. Grabbing the hilt, he pulled down on the sword until it snapped in half. He tossed away the broken hilt, leaving the blade stuck in the tree. He walked over to his fiancée who was watching from the sidelines. He surprised her by pulling her into a tight hug, holding her silently for a while. Akane was startled at first, but soon returned the hug, ignoring the gasps and chattering from the people watching them. “Lets go home,” he repeated. “I don’t want to deal with this guy today, and I don’t want you to have to deal with him either.”
Akane just nodded, well aware of how close she had come to death that day. She leaned up and kissed Ranma on the cheek, earning an even larger gasp from the onlookers. She no longer cared. “Nabiki!” she called up to her sister. “Go ahead and tell them!” She then turned her back on the crowd, and walked out of the yard, her arm around Ranma’s waist.
Nabiki gawked at her sister as she left school, but then the words that had been shouted up at her registered, and she saw yen signs. “I hope you all brought your wallets, folks, because the results are in!”
“Are you sure you’re ok?” Ranma asked for the third time. “Maybe we should go see Dr Tofu.” Akane was struggling to keep her temper in check. He was only saying it because she took a rough fall, and he was concerned for her and for the baby. He wasn’t trying to be annoying.
“Yes, I’m fine Ranma. I just scraped my knees a little,” she replied. She grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze. “Thanks for worrying though.” Maybe if she placated him like that he’d shut up.
Ranma looked like he wanted to say more, but the look in her eyes suggested it might be prudent to hold his tongue. Besides, he had other things to worry about. “I wanna go see Cologne before we go home,” he said, dead serious. “She told me that she had taken care of Kuno for us. I want an explanation.”
Akane pondered this for a second. “I think we already got one Ranma,” she replied. “Remember what he said? He’s immune to Kodachi’s potions. The Xi Fa Xiang Gao uses an herbal shampoo along with the massage to remove memory. It might not work on him.”
Ranma thought about it and had to admit that the idea had merit, considering that he himself was working up a bit of an immunity to Kodachi’s potions. “In that case we need to think about what we can do about him. He’s too focused on you now that he knows you’re pregnant. He’ll only end up hurting someone, if not you or me, then maybe the baby once it’s born.”
That statement left Akane feeling sick to her stomach. She was still new to the idea that she was going to be a mother, but already she knew she would do anything to protect her unborn child. She clutched Ranma’s hand tighter. “What do we do?”
“Well, if giving him a shampooing didn’t do the trick, maybe Cologne knows some other trick that might make him forget about you. Lets go see her.”
Akane nodded, leaning up to give Ranma another kiss on the cheek. “Thanks for saving me this morning,” she said.
They walked towards the café in silence, only broken once when Akane noisily broke wind. “Sorry. I’ve had the worst gas this morning,” she said blushing hard. Ranma just tried to keep his laughter quiet, glad for something to lighten the mood.
“I’m afraid I don’t have good news for you,” Cologne told the two teens seated in front of her. “Any other techniques I might try require some sort of potion or herbal mix to work.”
Ranma frowned at this news. He was quickly running out of options. If Kuno wouldn’t back off, then someone was going to get hurt, and he was going to do everything in his power to make sure it was the crazed kendoist if it came down to that.
Akane was getting desperate too. “What about Shampoo? It’s her fault he’s like this now, and SHE’S the one carrying his baby. Can’t she do something to distract him?”
Cologne gave her a hard look. “First of all, that boy has already utterly rejected my granddaughter simply due to her heritage. Secondly, Shampoo is being punished enough for her indiscretions.” She was interrupted briefly by the sound of Shampoo retching violently in the bathroom above them, making her point. “Thirdly, I wouldn’t wish that young man on any woman.”
Akane had to concede the point, but was still at a loss as to what to do next. For his part, Ranma was much more angry with the situation. “If he comes after Akane with that sword again, I’m going to have to put him down hard. No more holding back.”
Akane placed a hand on his shoulder, hoping to calm him. “Ranma, please don’t think about that. You’re not a killer.”
“Well what do you want me to do?” Ranma asked frustrated.
“I might have a suggestion,” replied Cologne. “You can leave Nerima.”
This stunned the two teens into silence. “Leave?” asked Akane. “I can’t leave! My family is here! My friends are here! Where would we go? I’m going to have a baby in eight months! I can’t be traveling!” Cologne reached over with her stick and poked her on the forehead, and Akane promptly fell over sideways against Ranma, falling dead asleep.
Ranma looked up in protest, but Cologne waved off his concerns. “I’ve just put her to sleep. She was panicking, and was starting to hyperventilate. That would not be good for her or for her child.” She waited until Ranma calmed down enough to listen before she continued. “That boy is dangerous. If you were to stay here, the only option for you would be to kill him. Considering the wealth and power of his family, he’s not going to be stopped by the authorities, and should you kill him, it probably won’t matter if it was in defense of yourself or your family, you will be the one at fault. Your only course of action is to leave Nerima until Kuno gives up on her. However, with his obsessive nature, you may never return as long as he is here.”
Ranma took all this in with a grim look on his face. The last thing he wanted to do was run away. It was like admitting to a loss. On the other hand Cologne had a point about what would happen if this conflict reached its’ logical end. “I’m fine with leaving. I don’t have anything tying me to Nerima other than Akane, so if she were to come with me, it would be no problem. She’s not going to like it though.” He leaned back in his chair, placing an arm around Akane’s shoulder. “Besides, she had a good point, where would we go?”
“Joketzuko,” came the suggestion from behind him. Startled, Ranma tried to twist to look behind him without waking Akane, only to find that Mousse was the one who made it. Of course it was kinda hard to tell at first since he was speaking to a plant. “Have Akane become a member of the tribe, and Ranma can come with her to the village.”
Cologne was surprised that Mousse would make such a suggestion, and yet it both made sense, and lead to a result that she had been after for a long time now. The idea certainly had merit. “Yes, I think that would be an excellent idea. The two of you would become members of our tribe. You would have a home, food, and help for when the baby comes. We would also do our best to protect you should Kuno find out where you have gone.” She smiled evilly. “And if he were to set foot on our turf, you would have license to defend your family as you saw fit.”
Ranma was taken aback at the offer. He’d always been adamant about not joining the tribe, but the offer had always been to join it as husband to Shampoo. This would be as husband to Akane. It also had the added benefit of being in a separate country altogether, somewhere it would be harder for Kuno to track them down. And once the baby came, who else would know better about childbirth than a tribe of women?
The alternative was for the two of them to go off on their own as if on an extended training trip. Always moving from one place to another, living off the land, the only shelter from the elements would be a tent. And once the baby came… Ranma didn’t even want to think about what might happen if Akane went into labor while off in the mountains all alone.
Cologne interrupted Ranma before he could agree with the plan. “Before you make any decisions, talk it over with your lover. You may not have any problems with leaving at the drop of a hat, but you will be asking her to leave everything she’s ever known behind. You can take as much time as you need to convince her. We won’t leave without you.”
Ranma nodded in agreement, then picked up his fiancée, and carried her out of the door. Cologne turned her attention to Mousse who had gone back to sweeping the floor. “That was a very generous thing you offered, Mousse,” she said.
Mousse just shrugged. “He’s made his choice. I no longer have a reason to hate him. Besides, I’m sick of this place. If this gets us home quicker, so much the better.”
Cologne watched him for a moment, wondering just how much the blind man noticed about the world.
Akane awoke later that morning, spooning in bed with Ranma. The young man was laying there awake, drawing comfort from the presence of his lover, and trying to mull over how he was going to convince Akane that they had to leave the only home she ever knew. He still had no idea what he was going to say to her when she spoke first. “Ranma, we have to leave.”
He sighed. “Yeah, I know. It’s for the best. But we might be able to come back in a year or so.”
Akane shook her head. “I wish we could, but I really don’t think we’d ever be able to as long as Kuno was still around. He’d just cause more trouble. And with the baby on the way, and him using live steel now rather than just his bokken, it’s just not safe to be here anymore.” She tried to be brave, but couldn’t help but tremble in his arms.
Ranma held her closer to his body, trying to ease her fear. “Don’t worry Akane, I’ll protect the both of you. I promise.” He placed a kiss on top of her head. “Cologne came up with an idea while you were out. Actually it was Mousse’s idea. If you were to become a member of the Joketzuko tribe, then we could go live with them in China. We’d have a house, and we could get work within the tribe to earn what food we’d need, and when the baby comes, you’d have the best midwife in all of Asia to help you.” He held her close trying to gage her reaction to this news, but couldn’t tell what her silence meant.
Akane thought about the offer to live with the Joketzuko. It certainly sounded like a better plan than just going off on their own, wandering the countryside. “Will it be safe to stay in one place? What if Kuno finds us there?”
“Cologne basically gave me carte blanche to take care of him if he were to try anything on Joketzuko land,” said Ranma. “I won’t let him hurt you.”
Akane turned over in Ranma’s arms to face him. “I hope you never have to worry about it.” She kissed him fully on the lips, long and hard. “Let’s take Cologne up on her offer. I’ll become an Amazon, we’ll submit our paperwork at city hall to be married, have a small ceremony, then we’ll go to China. It will be like an extended honeymoon.”
Relieved that this problem would soon be over, but still somewhat scared about what the future would bring, Ranma kissed Akane once more, his hands roaming up and down her back as he kissed her thoroughly. Akane returned the kiss with equal enthusiasm, her own hands wandering over his torso. Finally, she came up for air. “Make love to me Ranma. Please?”
Ranma nodded as he started to remove her uniform, but then hesitated as he had a thought. “How’s the gas? You’re not going to fart halfway through, are you?” Akane looked pissed and started to glow blue, but then she saw the laughter in his eyes, and calmed down. At least a little bit. “You’re lucky I want you right now buster, or else you wouldn’t be getting any for a looooong time thanks to that crack.”
Her case wasn’t helped when she let one rip right then. Ranma took it in stride however. “There, now you’ve cleared the airways, so we’ll be ok to fool around for a while before the next buildup.” He started to get up to go to their stash of condoms when Akane grabbed his arm.
“You know, I’m already pregnant, so wearing a condom is pretty much a moot point now right?” she said, a lustful look in her eye. “Wanna go bareback?”