Disclaimer: These characters are not mine. They belong to the wonderful Rumiko Takahashi and her licensees (Viz Communications in North America). This work is strictly for the non-profit enjoyment of fans. No copyright infringement is intended.
A pensive Ranma was thinking of the failed wedding last weekend.
Of how he failed.
It wasn't that he wanted to be married, hell he was only just eighteen, he wasn't even allowed to drink or vote until he was twenty. It was more what he'd almost done to Akane. In his mind, he kept seeing her in that wedding dress.
He looked down at his fiancée, walking along the ground as they came home from school. She had been so volatile since it had happened. Compared with the time coming back from China, he really didn't like it. But he remembered how happy she'd been after the wedding was cancelled. He liked.... loved her smile. But he knew he had to give it up... give her up.
'Arrrg, How could he?! He forgave them! Less than seven days after they ruin our wedding day, they shed a few crocodile tears and he up and forgives them! They threw bombs at him, his Mother and the woman he loves, a blubbered apology and he forgives them! If not for them he could have saved his cure! Right now We could have been alone on our honeymoon, a little begging, he forgives them!'
Glancing up at her fiancé walking on the fence, . 'If only he hadn't denied it when he had the chance. Why can't you say it, Ranma? I know how you feel.'
Ukyo entered her restaurant with a grin she couldn't wipe off. Her mind aflutter with thoughts of how he did care for her. He had wanted her to stop the wedding. Now if she kept rubbing it in Akane's face she'd dump him and he'd see which fiancée was right for him. The cute one!
The brown eyes of the waitress mopping the floor could see the change in his boss in an instant, his heart sinking at the lack of the frown she had had over the state of her relationship since she disrupted her fiancé’s wedding to Akane Tendo. "Having a good day, Ukyo-sama?"
"The best day Konatsu, Ranchan forgave me, isn't that great!"
Konatsu found that even guessing it in advance, it was difficult to maintain the smile at hearing it. He said a silent prayer to whichever Kami was listening that this wasn't the beginning of the end of his own hopes with Ukyo.
Cologne shook her head and gave a toothy grin at the sight before her. For the martial artist with the greatest potential she'd ever heard of, he was a supreme wimp when it came to women. She watched as her Great Granddaughter bounced into the Nekohanten with more bounce than she had in six months, and considering how... deflated she'd been this past week, that was some improvement.
Ranma sat watching the rise over Tokyo. If there was something other than Akane or the Tendo's and his friends themselves he'd miss by leaving here, it was the calm he normally found up on this roof.
He started the letter to Kasumi again. Out of the three personal letters this was the hardest. Ukyo and Shampoo had been easy, just 'I don't love you except as friends, I'm sorry I can't marry you, hope you have good lives, thank you and such'. Kasumi was the only non-fiancée getting a goodbye letter, she'd been a stable and helpful element the whole time he’d been here. The only one not to cause him more trouble than he normally had. Everyone else got a general letter. He'd leave the letters for Kasumi to find and hand out. Akane and his Mother he'd have to face personally. He'd shoot over to Mom after he left here, meaning he'd have to face Akane first. The words would be tough enough but keeping her calm would be a problem. She'd understand in the end.
Akane dried her hair with the towel while walking into her bedroom after her morning bath. She only detected the presence of another just before she felt the touch on her back and the darkness claimed her.
Ranma saw Akane's eyes opening with panic, before focusing on him. She growled some words into the gag before stretching against the bonds. She was gagged and hog-tied on her bed, facing Ranma who was sitting on her chair.
"Hey Akane, don't bother. You'll just hurt yourself." He tried to shut out the confused and panicked look in her brown eyes. "You're fine, I ain't gonna hurt ya... I'm gonna give ya your life back."
The surprise in her face he took as consent to continue. "I'm sorry Akane, about a lot of things. I've left a note explaining why to everyone else. Akane, I... I'm leaving."
Unable to face her he turned away, swivelling on the chair to face the window. He ignored the gagged words, though he made at least one 'Baka' out. "At the wedding, when your Dad said ya had agreed to the wedding and ran up to your room. I was...I was gonna ask why and then ask you to marry me of your own choice."
The sudden silence made it all easier to say. "But when I saw you in that dress, I couldn't ask. I couldn't take no."
He took a deep breath "I was gonna let them force you to marry me. I was thinking of how much of a coward I was, that when you said I said I loved you, I just reacted and denied it, just like I denied it for the past year and a half."
"Truth is I don't know if I said it, I don't know what I was saying. You were... you were dead in my arms and I would a done anything to have you back. I could a said it. If you say I said it I must of, but it don’t matter if I did or didn't, I do... love you."
He heard the whimpering through the gag. "Akane, it's alright. I know ya don't feel the same about me. I'm not going to let them force or bribe ya to marry me. But I can't stay. Who knows, maybe in a few years I'll be over you and we can be friends."
Once again he ignored the gagged words and was a little disappointed at the anger growing in her voice, but then that was just another part of the Akane he loved. He got up and moved for the door still not looking back.
As he reached for the door handle, he heard the snapping sounds and spun around to find Akane coming at him, a flying grapple, her face inches from his. When the back of his head hit the wall he drowned in the familiar embrace of unconsciousness.
"Truth is I don't know if I said it, I don't know what I was saying. You were... you were dead in my arms and I would a done anything to have you back. I could a said it. If you say I said it I must of, but regardless of if I did or didn't, I do... love you."
'He said it! He finally said it. He loves me.' Akane couldn't keep the tears and sobs inside.
"Akane, it's alright. I know you don't feel the same about me. I'm not going to let them force or bribe you to marry me. But I can't stay. Who knows, maybe in a few years I'll be over you and we can be friends."
She yelled through the gag even knowing that he wouldn't understand "-Baka!-, -Don't- -you- -dare- -try- -and- -leave- -me- -Baka!-, -I'll- -hunt- -you- -down- -Baka!-, -I- -love- -you- -too!-, -I- -LOVE- YOU- -TOO!!!-"
Watching him reaching for the doorknob, she stressed the ropes with everything she had. 'I will not lose him!!!'
Rolling up to her feet she dove forward for a flying body blow, bringing her arms forward, short lengths of snapped rope flinging away from her. She wrapped her arms around him, slamming him against the wall and brought her lips up to his.
Even through the gag she could feel he wasn't returning the kiss. Opening her eyes she pulled back to find out the problem and watched his head roll to one side revealing a dented doorframe behind.
Through the door she heard Nabiki's voice. "Come on Akane, be careful! The damage from the wedding isn’t even paid off yet."
"-Sorry-, -augh-, blah, Sorry Sis, it was an accident, it doesn’t need fixing."
"Whatever, I'm going out."
"Bye, have a good day."
She lugged her comatose fiancé over and tossed him on the bed with a thump. Untying the last ropes and the gag, she looked at the unconscious pigtailed boy on her bed.
He'd said it.
He'd tried to leave her but he'd said it. Now she just needed a plan to keep him here regardless of anymore stupid ideas he may have, especially ones about leaving for her own good. She gently stroked his cheek, "Over honourable jerk". As her eyes travelled down his shoulders, she blushed shaking her head,"Not until were married." Her brow furrowed as she looked to the wall she shared with Nabiki's room, another blush coming over her face followed by a nervous mischievous grin.
Akane darted out her door and down to the next. The duck on Nabiki's door wobbled silently as it's door shut. Akane went straight to the closet and began reaching for the cases on top, looking in each for her goal before carefully removing it.
The flash blinded Akane for a few moments but she smiled anyway, "Got it".
She stepped around the tripod and aimed the polaroid camera over at her bed and fiancé. Stepping on the discarded first shot without noticing, she moved quickly to the bed, her brown eyes looking over his handsome form and began to arrange him to suit her plan.
Ranma slowly opened his eyes, idly noting this was one of his better wet dreams. He was on his back, lying on his fiancée’s bed, Akane herself was gloriously naked, straddling his waist, her hand holding one of his hands to her breast, her eyes closed and a smile of pleasure on her lips. Without thought, his hand began to squeeze, noticing every texture in his palm.
Opening her eyes in the wake of another flash, Akane heard the camera timer click, and the photo began to pop out, knocking its predecessor to the ground. She was just about to break the pose when she felt something prodding her where she sat on his waist, followed quickly by Ranma's formerly limp hand squeezing.
Ranma ignored the click and flash from the other side of the room, his focus much closer to him. It wasn't until Akane's face shot down to look at him with panic in her eyes, that he realised it wasn't a going to be a happy dream. He probably could of dodged her fist but just didn't.
Akane didn't even realise she'd punched him until after she was on the other side of the room, holding her pyjama top in front of her bare body. She slowly walked back over to his again limp form. Her faced winced as she saw his left eye was already puffing up. "Sorry Ranma, err ... not before were married." She was unable to stop her eyes flowing down his form to his previously limp member. She found herself staring before swallowing and resisting the urge to reach out. "No, not till were married."
Turning away intent on ignoring it, she saw the camera. Snatching it up she took one close up. "Till we're married."
She grabbed the photos from the floor and began packing up the camera.
Ranma awoke again to the sound of cheerful humming. He briefly flitted across his memories wondering of it was just a dream. Sitting up he found he was naked and on Akane's bed, his black pants had been tossed over his lap. 'Not a dream? What is going on?'
He gently prodded his eye in vain hopes of making some medical diagnosis, especially futile really since he could already feel it was a black eye. He turned to the humming to see Akane dressed in a light white sundress, humming, and trying on a hat and examining it in the mirror. She turned and smiled at him, before wincing again at the black eye.
"Sorry about the eye."
"What the hell is going on Akane?"
She could hear the confusion in his voice and focused on the words she'd rehearsed. Sitting beside him on the bed she laid one hand on his. "Ranma, I need you to make me a promise, a big one."
Reaching for her desk she grabbed three polaroids from it and handed them to him. "Ranma, if anyone ever saw these photos, no one would believe there fake. The rumours would dishonour me."
Ranma's black eye cracked open in the hopes of matching the other eye bugging out. The three photographs all featured a naked Akane 'riding' a naked him. Taken from a rear angle, they preserved Akane's modesty, but in all three there was no arguments on what they looked like they were doing. Especially the one with his eyes opened and a lecherous grin on his face. He was feeling a large amount of envy and jealousy of the man in the picture along with his confusion over the situation.
"Ranma, I want you to swear to me that you'll do everything in your power to make sure no one ever sees these photos." She took the polaroids and tossed them into her dresser drawer, holding in a giggle at the pouting look he was giving the drawer.
"What's going on Akane?"
"Please Ranma, swear it."
Looking into her eyes he couldn't deny her. "I swear I'll never let anyone see those photos." It wasn't until after he said the words he remembered his last big promise and the porcine problems that came with it. But for the smile Akane was giving him he'd do anything.
"Thank you, Ranma." Suddenly her smile changed slightly to something more vicious. Her hand caught his pigtail and locked his head in front of her. "Now I swear if you ever try to leave me or marry someone else, I'll show every person in Tokyo those photos."
The brain of the pigtailed boy retuned to the confused setting. "Huh? Why Akane?"
"Because Baka! I *kiss* LOVE *kiss* YOU *kiss, kiss KISS*"
Ranma was too stunned to start returning the kiss for several moments but heard noises of appreciation when he did. He felt her hands start to roam his bare back and was wondering if he should be doing the same when she broke the kiss and hugged him tight. He could just hear her whispering under her breath to herself. "...after the wedding, after the wedding, after the wedding..."
Breaking the hug she stood and started straightening her dress. "Hurry up and get dressed."
"Huh?" It just wasn't Ranma's day for understanding.
"You're taking me on a date."
"Yes fiancée, you are."
"Oh." He blushed slightly at being naked before her as he started dressing ignoring the obvious of what she'd been doing for the past... Kami knows how long. As he lifted his shirt from the floor he saw a single polaroid and hid it in a pocket before Akane noticed.
Just as his finished the last tie on his shirt, he surreptitiously snuck a glance at the extra polaroid. His eyes popped out again, his mouth salivated and a trickle of blood ran down his lip. Akane must have been bending over the camera when this one was taken. 'How'd she forget it?' It was a close up of Akane's body from thigh to shoulder, full frontal, glorious naked fiancee.
He managed to flick it back into his pocket at the first sound of Akane's door bursting open to reveal a pale faced and panting Kasumi, waving several sheets of paper and envelopes. "Akane, Ranma's leaving! You have to..."
Akane walked over to Kasumi and took the papers from Kasumi as her elder sister recovered from seeing the runaway here. "Can I see those, Sis?"
Kasumi regained her breath, her eyes shifting between her younger sister leafing through the pages and her future brother in law, his eye swollen and bruising, and his nose bloodied.
"Baka," she said at length, and dumped the paper in the bin. "Don't worry Sis, Ranma's not leaving. Right Baka?"
"Right, sorry, ah, false alarm, err, only going on a date with Akane." Ranma's smile lost its cautiousness at Akane's bright smile.
Kasumi looked intently at the smile on the beaten face, 'He was happy?'
Akane held Ranma-chans arm as they walked into the house together, "We're home."
They'd just been to the park and had some ice cream. For a first date, it was a decent start. He was very cautious but he'd relax with a few more dates. She almost had to hit him when he refused to hold her arm after he got splashed on the way home though. They'd have to have a talk about his girl form soon, she mused.
The red head darted off to get hot water as soon as they stepped in, while Akane went in to the main room to say hello to her sisters. She found them eating snow cones, the small panda shaped ice crusher sat beside Kasumi.
Kasumi smiled as Akane entered, "Oh Akane, how was your date?"
"It was good, considering we weren't disturbed."
"Shampoo came by while you were out, she wasn't happy the two of you were out."
"Good." Akane gave a very Ranma like smirk. "Oh Nabiki, sorry but I had to borrow your polaroid camera. It was, kind of an emergency."
Nabiki assumed her businesswoman posture to hide the flash of anger, "This something to do with Ranma trying to run but changing his mind?"
The change from being overly cocky to clipped and reserved was too easy for Nabiki to miss, her sister had a secret. "So what did you need a photo of?"
Akane hated it when Nabiki decided she wanted to know all the details. Was it worth denying everything? Then she remembered what photo she still had on her. She reached into her purse for that photo as she accepted a snow cone from Kasumi. She quickly showed it to Nabiki. "This." Her voice was almost casual.
Nabiki, who had just taken a large mouthful of her snow cone, glanced at the polaroid, not expecting to be faced with a close up of Ranma's manhood.
A mouth full of crushed ice spread out over the table, as Nabiki sat coughing and sputtering, her sisters began brushing the ice from their faces. Nabiki gave the giggling Akane a dirty look before facing away, looking straight at Ranma. It wasn't until he spoke that she realised her head height sitting at the table was just below his waist, the memory of the photo flashing up in her mind.
"What's going on?" He was tempted to ask for a snow cone but the bits of crushed ice spread over the table, his fiancée, and other parts of the room were bringing the confusion of this morning back, overriding the blur of the afternoon. The fact his ice sprinkled fiancée went from giggling to laughter and Nabiki was so bright red he could feel the heat wasn't helping.
"Oh hello Ranma-kun, Akane just showed Nabiki a photo. May I see it Akane-chan?"
That stopped Akane cold, it was one thing to show Nabiki a picture of... her future property, but to show Kasumi. A glance to Ranma for some help, saw the pale confused look staring at the back of the photo in her hand. "No Ranma, different photo, not one of those, see." Akane would look back on this moment and wonder what the hell she thinking when she held up the polaroid up, but then she'd wonder how this day came about for a long time anyway.
Ranma went pale that his fiancée was carrying a picture of some guy's erection. Kasumi leaned to get a look and continued to topple over in a faint.
"Oh, if it's not like the others then what's this of?" The wretched owner of this voice leaped to Ranma's head before immediately toppling to the ground, little hands rubbing his eyes. "AHHH! My eyes! My eyes! How could you show me something so abhorrent? My eyes!"
Ranma didn't require any encouragement to take the opportunity boot, sending the aged Master of Anything Goes out the door and over the fence, while Akane's brain caught up and hid the picture.
Nabiki, on the other hand had an idea. "Akane, I'll get Kuno to give up on you if you give me that polaroid. No more poetry, hugging or attacking. Ever. Just for that photo."
Leaning over to Kasumi when she heard this, Akane looked over at her sister. "No chance, that belongs to me."
"Oh come on, do you know how much some of the girls have offered for an erect shot? Enough for me to consider trying to seduce him myself, that's how much. No Kuno, *ever* again."
"Akane, why do you own some guys...."
Akane looked up at her pale fiancé and the strange pain in his eyes. Finally guessing what he was going on about "Okay, I don't own it till our wedding night but no one else does either."
"You’re bringing in some other guy on our wedding night?" The disbelief in his voice had Nabiki rolling over with laughter. His voice changed to a whisper of self-loathing, "You don't think I'm a man with the curse."
Akane finally caught onto the same tangent Ranma had run down. "Baka, the picture is of you."
His face and posture went through a chaotic storm of emotions easily read. Disbelief, confused, embarrassed, happy, angry, and glimpses of pride whirled before finally settling on disbelief. "And you're selling it to Nabiki!?!"
"No Baka! Enough girls have photos of you naked without them getting this."
"What!?!" The disbelief was being ridden like a chariot by anger through his mind, his head switching now between Akane and Nabiki.
Nabiki stopped laughing to look up at him with a hungry look, her voice as sultry as she had. "Oh don't be like that Ranma-kun, you should be proud of the attention."
Disbelief was run off the track as the flaming chariot of Ego tore through driven by pride, only to stop in the pit stop of confusion over what to do.
Happi's voice from the other side of the room brought all three gazes. "If you want to be proud, Ranma my boy, you have every reason to be. Akane-chan who'd though you were such a naughty girl."
Nabiki knew the proverbial mother load was on the three polaroids in Happi's hands as all the blood vanished from Akane and Ranma's faces.
Akane was ready to try and negotiate with Happi for the pictures, but didn't get a chance as Ranma was attacking, foot first. Ranma expected the pipe counter to flip him outside so angled to snatch the photos and go with the pipe. Happi saw the grasp for the polaroids even as he flipped his pipe sent his opponent out the shogi. A wrist twist flung the polaroids around the room.
Diving forward, Akane clumsily grasped out at two, missing both and tripping over Kasumi's still prone form with a thud. Nabiki leapt for the third but tripped over the table.
Laughing with joy, Happosai snatched the photos back up, even as the girls took a second lunge for them. "I'm just going for some shopping at the mall, see you there."
Ranma-chan dashed in dripping wet and wild-eyed looking for the little perverted bastard. "Where'd he go."
"The mall!" Akane knew she'd had blown it with this scheme, it was all her fault. They'd be married before next weekend and Ranma would hate her for it.
Ranma didn't notice Akane beginning to cry as she snatched her up and was out the door.
Springing to her feet, Nabiki spared a glance for her fallen elder sister. "Sorry Sis, profit calls," And she leapt over the older girl and was dashing for the door, her mind desperate for a short cut to pursue them, otherwise she might never make it before anything happened... 'STOP!' Taking three steps back she saw one precious polaroid on the grass of the front lawn. Gently picking it up she smile turning it over.
"Oh dear little sister, did you drop this." It would be hard to copy the polaroid, but for what the girls in school would pay, it would be well worth the effort.
Akane felt the wind in her face as she was carried in the powerful arms, amazed at the strength Ranma showed even in this cursed body. She always liked being in his arms, although being larger than Ranma forced more strain on him like this. The retreating form of Happosai was ahead and they may not catch him before he arrived at the Mall.
She cursed under her breath and wished Ranma had left her behind as she saw the larger buildings of the approaching district knowing that the mall was in them. She knew she was slowing Ranma down, but if they could catch him they could tag team him into giving up the polaroids.
The fear of everyone she knew seeing the photos of her and her fiancée swelled stronger than ever, as she saw the ugly gnome of a man dive into the Sunday shopping crowd at the main doors of the huge structure.
Akane prepared to swing her feet down so they could charge into the crowd after him, but Ranma had other plans leaping through the doors into the air conditioned interior. Still holding Akane, the red haired girl leapt from bench to wall to bin to art to advertisement to anything that she could spring off in her pursuit of the dirty old man. A tight smile cracked the red heads face as she overtook the line of outraged women shouting and crying out in the crowd.
Landing in front, Ranma set Akane down and moved away from her to pincer the old fart. Akane looked around her area. They were now on the ground level just before the large open centre of the mall reaching skywards ten floors in a huge cathedral like glass ceiling. A large stage was set in the middle and the props of an Arabian Nights setting were in place.
Happi broke through the crowd with a nice sack of pretties already building and straight into Ranma's fist closing on his neck. The red head was emitting an angry red glow as she began rifling through his clothes with the spare hand. With an evil leer the old man tossed a firecracker down at their feet.
Ranma reacted fast with her speed to slam the old fart down on the cracker but found herself flying across to slam into the back of an elevator. Getting up to run back, a larger cracker banged close to her face and she dropped to the floor while the doors closed.
Akane didn't fare any better. She was groped and toppled as Happi went past her into the centre of the complex. Getting up in pursuit she charged after him, taking lunges and attacks when she could keep up. With a long leap the old goat managed to get up on the stage. His smile widened when he saw a man testing a microphone and video camera.
Akane climbed up onto the stage and just as she made it she saw high above was Happosai's face, in full colour at least twenty meters high, way up against one wall. With dread she realised it was a bank of television screens, more than she had time to count, and as she heard his aged voice cackle through the centre wide audio system, she froze in terror. People were coming to the various balconies and all could get a good look at the screen.
"Can I have everyone's attention?"
Ranma returned to the living as her name was called again. She idly noted she'd lost count of how many times she'd been unconscious today. Through the open doors of the lift she heard the pervert’s voice again. 'The Polaroids'. Up in a flash she darted through the again closing doors and looked down from six stories up. "I'm right here, you old fart."
With single step up she leapt from the rail flipping twice before landing beside Akane. A round of applause from the audience almost brought Ego and Pride to the driving seat but they were squashed with the thought of that same audience seeing the damned polaroids on the big screen.
"Oh no, as much as I like that form I need the true Ranma Saotome for this." Pulling a steaming teakettle form nowhere, he tossed it towards the red haired girl.
Ranma caught the kettle and poured it on his head, ignoring the heat and the applause from the crowd as they watched him transform on the big screen.
"Give me the photo's old ....." His voice gave out and Akane 'eep-ed’ as Happi held the polaroids in front of the camera. On the big screen the backs of the three polaroids appeared. From only a few yards they recognised the genuine polaroids, even seeing the smirk on Ranma's face in the 'Awake' shot.
"Happosai please, the pictures aren't what happened, I wanted them to force Ranma not to leave me."
Flicking the microphone off, Happi looked at the pair. "Oh, I know you're both still virgins."
"Please Happosai, give me the photo's back?" The tears were freely flowing down her face in the stress, which was feeding Ranma's rage to no end.
With a flick of his thumb the wretched old man began to speak into the microphone again. "Tell the audience your name and martial arts school."
Ranma knew his pride was about to be stung badly, knowing where this was leading, but between his desire not to dishonour Akane and his oath over the polaroids, he had little choice. "Ranma Saotome of the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts."
Akane whispered an apology to him before matching his words. "Akane Tendo of the Tendo School of Anything Goes Martial Arts."
Happosai's evil eyes followed the pair over his sneer "And who am I." He shook the photos in his hand.
"Happosai, Grand Master of the Anything Goes School of Martial Arts."
"Very good Ranma-chan, now for the final act. Kneel, bow and address me as Master."
Ranma was stock still until the old pervert began twisting his hand slowly for the camera.
Akane would have nightmares over the dirty look Ranma gave her before he dropped to his knees. She turned away not wanting to see Ranma stripped of his pride in front of balconies and balconies of people, because of her actions. All around, the speakers echoed his voice. "Master."
Some in the crowd clapped, a few laughed, most were just confused or pitying. When they saw the screen turned off, they began to disperse back to their shopping, a few stragglers waiting to see of something else would happen.
There was a dull thud as the microphone was tossed away. "Well Ranma, you want these?"
There was no answer.
"Please Happosai, you got him to call you Master. What more do you want?"
"What do I want? Hmmm"
Ranma was still down in the prone position waiting for the old freak to come close enough to grab him. He wondered wryly if he would ever throw a 'Moko Takabisha' attack ever again.
The grin breaking out over Happi's ugly little face nearly broke Akane down again. "Three Photos, Three days. Ranma, my student, swear that you will do for me any tasks I set to the best of your abilities for each of the next three days, and no one gets to see the photos."
(To be continued)
Thank you for reading.