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Draft 26 04
Akane pulled her sock up, her eyes admiring the red and dark blue bracelet on her wrist as she worked, her thoughts going fondly to the silver ring threaded through the similar band around her fiancé's wrist last night. Slipping on her house slippers, she idly wondered if Ranma had gone to sleep still wearing the ring on his wrist or took it off.
Knocking on her door as she stood made her turn as Nabiki looked in.
“Merry Christmas Sis.” Nabiki said before tossing a colorfully wrapped gift to Akane.
Akane shook the box hearing a an odd light rattling. “Thanks, there is a little thing for you down under the tree.”
“You want to open it now,” Nabiki informed her. “That's one you'd rather open alone. Though I noticed most of the presents under the tree weren't opened when I got back late last night.”
Giving her sister a wary look, Akane nodded slowly then cautiously started to open the wrapping. “Yeah, everyone kind of split up, then when Aunty got home last she went straight to bed. As it was it took nearly that long to pry Ryoga and Akari apart.”
Closing the door behind her, Nabiki stepped in. “Well aren't you the master matchmaker?”
Akane gave an impish grin, “They left together after some breakfast. Akari took Ryoga to see her farm.” The paper in her hands fell open to show six boxes of medication, printed on all sides in English.
Nabiki smirked at her sister's confused face. “You should get a prescription before you start on them. But they're a generic brand and that's a six month supply.”
Suddenly Akane went red and glared at her sister, the glare faltering at the look knowing Nabiki returned but Akane's embarrassment remained. “Sis, you already risked making me a nineteen year old Aunt once, now go talk to a doctor to see if you could have complications, and start taking the pill before you 'get back on the horse'. This way you won't forget protection, and trust me when I tell you I paid less for a years supply than a teenage boy will want to go through in condoms.”
Still blushing, Akane had difficulty meeting her sisters eyes and gave a single nod of agreement. Akane's eyes came up curiously. “A years supply? You said this was only six months?”
Kasumi's angry voice rang out from down the hall, “Nabiki!”
Nabiki rolled her eyes, “Do you realize how weird it is for me that because of your indiscretion, it is safer to be in the same room as you opening that present than being being around Kasumi?” Even as Nabiki spoke, she stepped back to be behind Akane's door when it suddenly slammed open.
Angry eyes looked past Akane as Kasumi sought her other sibling. The eldest sister's eyes locked on the parcel in Akane's hands, identical to the other left in her bedroom.
“You too! Nabiki is as bad as you are, I suppose you think it's a funny gift as well. Like your little joke last night.”
Akane flushed, reminded of her prank with the condoms left in Kasumi's purse, and recalling hearing the intimate sounds she had heard her sister making when her sister was alone in her room with the good Doctor Tofu.
Biting her lower lip, Akane bowed her head at her glaring sister, but before the youngest Tendo daughter could speak Kasumi swung around and slammed the door shut again, glaring at Nabiki.
“Merry Christmas, Sis,” Nabiki drawled confidently, as if she hadn't just been caught hiding behind a door from her angry sister. “Would you prefer next year I have you open contraceptives in front of everyone downstairs?”
Akane waved her hands from behind Kasumi in warning, desperately mouthing 'no'.
For a brief instant, Nabiki thought Kasumi might hit her as the older girl shook in impotent anger, when from out in the hall another voice rang out, followed by the sounds of fighting.
“Haha, Busted! Thinking of a little gay fantasy were you!”
Akane was opening her door before either of her sisters, leading them into the hall seeing Happosai backing up towards them from an angry red faced Ranma. Dressed in boxers but holding a pillow in front of his waist, Ranma froze seeing Akane and her sisters ahead.
“What is going on?” Akane demanded.
Still laughing, Happosai darted behind the girls to be clear of Ranma. “Your little boy fiancé was assaulting his weapon, doing a little pudwrestling, ramming the ham.”
Ignoring Ranma's wincing, Akane looked confused at Happosai. “What?”
“Having a staff meeting! Shaking hands with the unemployed!” Happi said between laughter as Ranma backed away from a glaring Kasumi and ignorant Akane.
Nabiki tried not to laugh, “Akane, Ranma was scratching his pole? Whacking off?”
Finally getting it, Akane flushed and turned back to Ranma only to find Kasumi in front of her, one hand blocking her path as the other pointed at Ranma. “Ranma, please go back to the guest room. Alone. Akane, please come with me to the kitchen.”
With a final glare for Happosai, Ranma withdrew embarrassed. Akane swallowing as she was herded past the guest room door and down the stairs.
A moment later, Kasumi returned just as Nabiki reached to knock on the guest room door. Grabbing her younger sister by the arm, dragging her down stairs, ignoring her protests.
Ranma separated from Akane with a nervous wave as they ran through the school gate.
After not able to find his father to beat up in the name of training to at least hide from the girl's of the house, they had a very awkward breakfast with some snide comments from Nabiki and dark looks from Kasumi. Finally the embarrassed martial artist and his fiancée had fled the house and ran at a near sprint to the school.
Cracking his knuckles, Ranma ran into Love Dome, ignoring the short queue of challengers, eyes glancing at the current fight where Yuka was surrendering to one of the boys from the School soccer team, to step up to the small desk where one of the senior girl's had a list of who was challenging who.
“Hey, so who is in the queue after my sister Ranko or Akane?”
The brown haired girl looked up with a sigh, “No challenges for Ranko Saotome or Akane Tendo.”
“Huh?” Ranma replied scratching his head at the change from the expected few.
Looking bored at Ranma the girl sighed again. “I can tell you that a couple students have asked for a ruling as per page six, paragraph three of the Love Dome rules. Those rules cover any appeals for the challenged party to be on hand to declare his or her champion rather than allow currently registered date or previously nominated champion to automatically volunteer. So perhaps you should ask either girl if they have been challenged with a request for you not to be the champion.”
Ranma sputtered for a moment before looking at he girl with a pleading smile. “Can you please write that stuff down so I can show Akane?”
Akane slumped red faced on her desk before the grinning Sayuri.
“It was all we could do not to laugh when she stood up to Ms Hinako. Ranma's mother was just so drunk but still scary strong.”
Hearing what she had missed from last nights dance after she had slipped out with Ranma filled her in as to why Aunty had returned home and gone straight to bed. Akane smiled despite herself recalling her time with Ranma and her successful matchmaking between Akari and Ryoga last night that had kept her distracted of the older woman's mood. “Is that all she did? Get drunk, throw Ryoga after Akari, and bully Ms Hinako?”
“Oh no, she threw Ranma's father out the door when he tried to take her home, screaming at him for getting Ranma arrested last Christmas.”
Akane slumped again wondering if the rumor mill was going to really spread this stuff around when the last of what Sayuri said brought her head up. “Wait, Ranma was arrested?”
“Not sure,” Sayuri shrugged. “Just that he was arrested last Christmas. I was hoping you'd tell me. I heard someone claim the Saotome's are Yakuza.”
Shaking her head, Akane groaned. “They aren't Yakuza. But I'll have to ask Ranma about whatever happened last Christmas.”
Sayuri was about to reply when she saw a figure enter their classroom and start walking over to Akane. Looking where Sayuri was, Akane sat up as a senior from Kuno's class approached, one who had challenged her in the past.
With a curt bow, the senior laid a white rose on Akane's desk.
“Ms Tendo. As Saotome has been exposed as being a criminal, I was wondering if you'd like me to challenge you in love dome. If I won against you, you and that Yakuza would be broken up before it can reflect on you.”
Ranma ran into the school classroom just in time to see his pretty fiancée holding down a male student and threatening him with bodily harm.
“He has a criminal record and avoids everyone to go off in a corner when getting changed, he is hiding his tattoos!”
Akane looked up and smiled past her anger as her fiancé arrived, her hand still idly pressing the struggling young man down as he gave his evidence.
“Ranma, this jerk says you're a criminal. That you were arrested because you're Yakuza.”
The glare on Ranma's face made the young man wilt more than Akane's threat of impending violence. “It's what I heard?” he offered with a wavering voice.
“Last night after you and Akane left the dance, your mother said some stuff to the school. Like that you were arrested last Christmas.” Sayuri explained, fishing for more details.
“Huh, that? I was arrested and held cause I stopped a robbery but didn't have ID to prove I was me and not with them.”
Sayuri nodded, unimpressed with the truth to what she had been building in her imagination. “And you don't hide from the other boys in the change room to hide your 'ink'?”
“Ranma doesn't have any tattoos anywhere on his body.” Akane stated firmly. Lifting the boy off her desk, she held him by her grip on the front of his shirt. “If anyone else tells you he is a criminal, tell them he isn't. Got it?”
Nodding franticly the senior ran off the second Akane released him.
The arrival of Ms Hinako and the ringing of the school warning bell cut further conversation. Ranma headed for his seat, stumbling over a desk nervously distracted by the glare the home room teacher was giving him. Sayuri followed suit, walking past Akane close enough to whisper to her, “How do you know he hasn't got any tattoos anywhere on his body?”
Face flaming, Akane sat quickly trying to think of some way to answer that without inviting more questions from her friend, knowing Sayuri wasn't going to drop that line of questioning.
“Be apologetic, be polite, don't blame it on Ranma. Be apologetic, be polite, don't blame it on Ranma.”
Adjusting his spotted bandanna, Ryoga Hibiki chanted the mantra as Jiro had instructed him. After failing to enlighten his beloved Ukyo to Saotome's philandering ways yesterday morning, though he certainly felt he was making progress with making Ukyo like him, Jiro Ohata was again pushing him to tell one of Saotome's fiancées of her betrothed's location and his indiscretion.
Approaching Ukyo had been nerve wracking because her words rejecting him were never pleasant. At least Sakura just wanted to kill him the last time they met. Ever since that time he had ruined her date with Ranma and accidentally walked in on her in the bath she had been unreasonable.
Checking his appearance in the mirror on the back of the elevator, Ryoga steeled himself for facing the woman who lived in the penthouse of the Tokyo skyscraper.
The second the door opened, Ryoga saw eight young men in black and gold tracksuits who were arranged flanking the elevator doors in two rows. Though none held weapons, and Ryoga was pretty sure he could take Sakura's 'Delivery Boys', they were probably going to try and grapple him down should Sakura want such.
Entering through gilded doors, an older man in a suit walked out and bowed to Ryoga. “Mistress Shishimi will see you now.”
Led out into what appeared to be a tasteful dining hall, Ryoga couldn't help but gawk at the view of the city of Tokyo, out of the windows that made up one wall of the room.
Followed by the Delivery Boys, Ryoga had over a minute to admire the view before doors at the other end of the room opened. Wearing a black and gold leotard, the buxom Sakura Shishimi walked in, a towel in her hand wiping perspiration from her face.
“Ryoga Hibiki. Have you forgotten so easily how you wronged me? The only reason my boys haven't already taken you to the roof and tossed you off it is because you claim you have something to make up for humiliating me.”
Swallowing, Ryoga bowed to the young woman. “I just thought you'd want to know where Ranma is and why he has another fiancée.”
Sakura frowned. “My dear future Mother-in-law, already explained Ranma is staying with another fiancée that fat fraud of a husband arranged in the past.”
Licking his lips, Ryoga winced not sure how to explain it more tactfully. “Ranma is living in Nerima with Akane Tendo, who is also fiancée because his mother caught them in bed together.” He held out a note on which Jiro had written the address of the Tendo dojo.
Stepping forward, Sakura snatched the note from his hand and glared at him suspiciously. Finally she smiled.
“Thank you Ryoga-kun. Do you like the view?”
Giving a sigh of relief, Ryoga nodded and glanced to the window before pain blossomed from his body. With fast pokes of a chopstick, Sakura stabbed several pressure points on the young man. Pain and weakness blossomed in the martial artist, slowing him as the nearest two of Sakura's Delivery Boys grabbed him, allowing Sakura to prod him again and again.
Heaving his muscles, Ryoga lifted both opponents up and was about to throw them out the window, halting when he recalled the dizzying elevation they were at. His delay cost him as Sakura struck again and the rest of the Delivery Boys grabbed onto him.
Finally paralyzed and still in pain, Ryoga was lowered to the ground twitching and dreading the baleful glare in Sakura's eyes.
“Boys, start by taking his pants.”
Sitting down in the school gym, Ranma was just glad to be out of class.
Dropping down beside him, Hiroshi and Daisuke looked at him with a mixture of amusement and sympathy.
“Aw man that was brutal. She is so pissed with your mother that she's taking it out on you.” Hiroshi stated.
“Yeah, the way she kept asking you every question on those equations. I couldn't even answer them.” Daisuke added. “Then when you got that one right and she demanded you explain your work, and you told her she just taught you how to do those sums? Talk about living dangerously.”
Hiroshi grinned, “When she told you to go out in the hall with buckets and you had that look in your eye like your mother had last night. Michiko claimed that made her night even more than the our big dance.”
Having received the full rundown on what his mother had done after he and Akane had left, Ranma frowned wondering how many stories about his mother and family were floating around like the yakuza rumor. He'd hoped after Bokuto high he wouldn't have to be on about this stuff anymore.
Daisuke looked at Hiroshi. “So if it went so well, what's with the fat lip?”
Reminded of the cut, Hiroshi touched his fingers to his lips. But when he spoke the smugness was rampant. “Yeah, it isn't a fat lip, it's just cut. We stopped near home and made out some.”
Leaning in, he smugly made a groping motion with his fingers. “Got to B.”
It took a moment for Ranma to recall from his boys school days about the letters representing how far a guy got with a girl. A for kiss, B for breast... “And that's when she cut your lip?” Ranma asked.
With a sheepish smile, Hiroshi shrugged. “This I tore on one of her earrings. I'll have to be more careful with her piercings next time.” Again his smugness returned as he gestured to his chest before sharing a 'high five' with Daisuke.
Ranma shook his head at their antics and looked at Daisuke. “So what happened with your date?”
“I have no idea,” Daisuke said with pink cheeks. “After she tried to stab me with that tanto knife she had hidden in her kimono, she wanted to go home. I was expecting her to rip into me when we got there then she leans up and kisses me on the cheek, says she enjoyed the night and would tell her mother we should have another date. I don't know if I should be scared or happy.”
Ranma frowned and shrugged. “I'd take it as a sign that she liked you. Just she wasn't ready for you ta grope her so soon.”
Nodding to his new friend and instructor in women's hearts, Daisuke smirked and relaxed some.
For his part, Ranma was wondering what was taking Akane and her friends so long going to the bathroom on the way to assembly.
“Spill,” Sayuri insisted to her cornered and blushing friend. “How much have you and Ranma done?”
Yuka nodded. “Remember that Ranma said he had the promise for not being intimate with his fiancées that you changed to all girls.”
“And this morning you said you knew Ranma didn't have any tattoos, anywhere on his body,” Sayuri added.
“It was nothing,” Akane tried explain. “We had a few accidents in the bath, and at the hot springs.”
Frowning, Yuka's mood shifted. “He spied on you?”
“No! Ranma's a gentleman.” Akane defended. “They really were accidents, or situations that just looked bad.”
Reading the tug at Akane's lips, Sayuri looked penetratingly at her long time friend. “Akane, you know we can keep a secret and we know you are dying to spill the beans. Your face is so red! So tell, what have you two done?”
Wincing, in part caught and in part at the way her body reacted recalling the training trip, Akane held up her hands as she looked around the empty girls change room again. “Okay. I will tell you but you can't tell anyone, and I am not giving you details here at school.”
“Come on then. How far did that fiancé of yours change you from being the pervert hater?” Yuka joked.
Akane winced again. "We've made love," Akane said with a rising blush and a wide smile.
Sayuri fell on her behind as Yuka shrieked with laughter.
Among the last to reach the gym hall, Akane barely led Yuka and Sayuri to sit near Ranma and the boys before all the other students had sat down.
Ranma would have asked her if she was okay as she tried in vain to contain her blushing face, when the curtain opened and on the stage Principal Kuno emerged. Dressed in a bright floral shirt, Bermuda shorts, dark sunglasses and with a small coconut tree sticking up the back of his shirt, the elder and craziest Kuno grabbed the microphone off the stand.
“Ah Good morning ma students! Have un been good year for all ma wahinis and bruddas. Me be hav' un good news for you. Mr Saotome, please come up here.”
Glancing nervously to Akane at being singled out, Ranma ignored the collective looks of the student body as he stood and walked up to the stage area.
“Done last night, this here good brudda enforced the law on my own boy,” Principal Kuno said with tears in his eyes. Clicking a remote, a projector showed images of side by side, of Tatewaki Kuno, the first in his Kendo uniform with the label 'before' and the second labeled 'after' he was shaved bald in a disheveled uniform.
“For dis here duty, I appointing you to brand new school position,” the strange older man said. Opening a small box, he pulled out a sash to hang around Ranma like a beauty queen. In bold gold letters it spelled out in English, “Hair Cut Monitor.”
The Principal pushed a pair of electric clippers into Ranma's hand.
“Ranma Saotome be new school Haircut Monitor!” the principal announced into the microphone. “He been in charge of checking everyone hair cut and when I not available, he be shaving the head of bad boys and girls who break rules.”
Bewildered, Ranma wondered what he had just gotten stuck with as most of the students looked at him warily.
Flipping over lunch time okonomiyaki, Ukyo kept a hospitable smile on her face as she listened to a group of giggling girls sharing the cute mini-okonomiyaki platter special.
The try-hard cuties from one of the local private schools talked and gossiped, praising each others choice of accessories or for past social successes, until a pair would go to the bathroom, the remainders waspishly criticizing the departed behind their back.
Ukyo and Junko were still working out best nickname for them. So far she was pushing 'Snake sisters', while Juno suggested 'future divorcees'.
Entering the door, the girl all gave a cheerful greeting to their 'queen', a pretty girl Ukyo had run afoul of previously called Asuza Shiratori. Asuza sat among her friends, ignoring Ukyo to give her order to Konatsu for mini-okonomiyaki with extra cute.
Shiratori had moved to the area a year ago, and had crossed Ukyo by hitting on Ranma trying to make him join her in pairs ice skating. After a brief fight between the pair that left the skater humiliated, Asuza still came into her shop, she just never acknowledged Ukyo herself.
Preparing the order, Ukyo glanced up as her shop curtain opened again, a deliveryman wheeling in a large crate. “Special delivery,” he announced.
“Deliveries around the back in future please,” Ukyo said testily.
The man in the delivery outfit shrugged, and tipped it off his trolley. Without asking for a signature, her smiled and walked out, calling back. “Have a nice day.”
“Wait,” Ukyo cried. “Who is it from?”
Not getting an answer, she looked to her waitress. “Konatsu-chan, can you drag it out the back for me? See if there is a label on it?”
With a jolt, the box tipped forward on its own, hitting the ground with a bang and a whimper of pain.
Jumping her hotplate and bar table, Ukyo quickly used a spatula to pry up the lid and reef it open.
She immediately shut the lid at seeing the honey glazed young man, arms and legs bound in rope his only covering with an apple in his mouth.
Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath to resist dumping the naked Ryoga out on the road.
“Natsu-chan, grab the other end. Junko, can you go start filling the bathroom tub.”
Putting an okonomiyaki on a plate, Ukyo haded the meal to Ryoga. “So what did you tell Sakura what made her react like that?”
Rygoa swallowed nervously as he was surrounded by women looking at him. Fortunately Sakura had left his clothes in a bag in the crate with him and no more than Azusa and Ukyo had seen in the crate when she opened it, but the embarrassment was still present.
“Yes, tell us how this happened, Dorathée?”
Wincing as the ditzy skater used her pet name for Ryoga when she had been trying to keep him as a pet, and the glare on Ukyo's face told him being reminded of his piglet act was not fond memories of his betrayal.
Hanging his head, he mumbled a reply.
“What?” Ukyo asked testily.
“I said I was telling Sakura that Ranma was living with Akane Tendo in Nerima. That she is his new fiancée.” Swallowing again at the glare Ukyo was giving him, he blurted out the last of it. “And they're engaged because they had sex.”
Ukyo shook her head, “No, thats not true. Nodoka said Akane wasn't a fiancée. And that Ranma would be staying with the family of a fiancée his father engaged him to before he was even born. Did Jiro tell you all this?”
Wincing, Ryoga nodded. “He did, but he seemed pretty sure. He said to say if you doubt it, look Ranma in the eye and ask on his honor.”
Asuza tentatively interrupted. “Akane Tendo was the girl who knocked both of us out of the Juuban tournament?” she asked Ukyo, breaking her rule of not acknowledging the chef.
Ukyo nodded, distracted from her glaring at Ryoga and wondering how to dissect him.
Asuza shrugged, “I hadn't thought about it, but weekend after next, my former partner is in a pairs skating match against the team of Akane Tendo and Ranma Saotome.”
“Where?” Ukyo growled.
“I still think its suspicious. Even if they're not Yakuza, his mother's obviously a bit of a ball buster. No wonder he is delinquent enough to get arrested.”
A couple of Furinkan students having lunch at the table nodded in agreement with Mikado Sanzenin.
“Upperclassman Sanzenin, have you seen your fiancées brother since Christmas?”
Nodding at one of his sycophantic friends, Mikado smiled gleaming white teeth. “Of course, the buffoon has been trying to find a wig that matches 'the greatness of the locks he lost'.”
Putting down his chopsticks into his lunch bento Mikado shook his head, his own wavy blond hair gracefully swaying with the movement. “But that doesn't excuse that criminal Saotome from...”
Furinkan High Haircut Monitor Ranma Saotome smirked at the chilling effect the electric clippers the Principal had given him had on the blond young man.
“Hey Goldenboy,” Ranma stated before turning off the clippers. “Before we discus if your haircut is up to standard for this school. I'd like to just say that the funny thing about gossiping I noticed. Since no one asked me my side of what happened, I think you all sound like idiots making stuff up. Or you're making stuff up to try and make me look bad.”
Letting Mikado turn around, Ranma shrugged. “But who would just decide to make someone else look bad?”
Mikado cursed himself for flinching as Ranma triggered the clippers again.
“We'll see if your so tough on ice, Saotome.”
“I'll bring these,” Ranma said with a grin, waving his clippers.
Walking home early at lunch on the half day Saturday, Ranma was giving suspicious glances to Yuka and Sayuri as they walked with the young couple back to the Tendo Dojo.
“So you still haven't shaved anyone?” Yuka asked as they walked.
Ranma shook his head. “Nah, I didn't like Kuno cutting my hair. But it's great for threatening people who say stuff about my family. If Mikado leers at my b... sister's chest one more time I'd be tempted to give him a buzz cut. Well if Kodachi wouldn't hate me for doing it.”
Akane grumbled and Sayuri glanced up, one of the few times since Akane's confession on Tuesday she had looked at Ranma without going bright red. “Are you that close to that girl?”
“Even if she hadn't helped me rescue Akane, she helped with some other stuff. After the trouble I had with girls trying to be friends to get close to me, having a friend who is engaged to someone else is nice. What's wrong with her?”
Clenching her fists, Akane hissed. “Sayuri is surprised that you are close to a girl I have had so many fights with in the past. Kodachi's been nothing but a pain to me.”
“That's how I feel about Happosai but he is nice to you for some reason.”
“Ew no,” Yuka said, missing Akane glaring at Ranma. “Sanzenin is much worse. Remember when he was nearly drooling with the boys at the rest of us in swim class last summer? Aside from bare legs those school swimsuits are not that flattering.”
Briefly brushing the stray thought of what Akane in a bathing suit looked like from his mind, Ranma shook his head. “I caught him trying to angle to see up my... my sister's dress when she was fighting in love dome. He sat were he would get a flash when she kicked.” He complained, briefly smirking at the fact all he would have seen that day was a glimpse of his male shorts.
Shaking the smirk, he continued on his point. “But Happosai, man that old...”
Ranma's voice trailed off as he held out his hand, blocking Akane's path.
Looking curiously at her fiancé, Akane turned as he nodded out ahead. Two young men were loitering near the gate to the Tendo property. The distinctive black and golden themed tracksuits with the Shishimi restaurant logo on the upper chest made Akane groan as she anticipated the arrival of one of Ranma's other fiancées, Sakura Shishimi.
Both men were looking at them as Ranma and the girl's approached, only just when Ranma was about to ask what they wanted, a black limousine pulled up before them.
“Ranma, darling. I've missed you so much!” Sakura said as she emerged from the luxury vehicle. She immediately moved for her fiancé only to find Akane in her way.
“So I guess it is true, you were Nodoka's little ringer brought in to thwart me out of spite. Where is she?”
Ranma held up his hand. “Akane was engaged to me before we were born. Just ask her father. He should be inside with Mom.”
Glaring at her fiancé for inviting the blond tramp inside, Akane huffed and led the way. “Your men can stay out here, Sakura.”
Placing her cup of tea on the table, Nodoka looked to Kasumi as the eldest daughter escorted Yuka and Sayuri out to the dojo to entertain them while the matronly woman, her son, and Akane spoke to Sakura. Ranma returned from the front door having closed it behind the fathers, the pair of older men all too happy to accept some spending money and a suggestion that the local sports bar was showing Sumo wrestling.
“Sakura, now that we are alone, would you like to address why you actually came?”
Smiling, Sakura put down her cup of tea. “Why I thought it would be obvious. I'm here for my turn.”
Nodoka shook her head firmly. “I'm afraid Sakura, that Ranma's staying here is to give him the chance to get to know Akane further. You have after all known Ranma for far longer, and there is limited time till the engagement meeting.”
Her steely gaze held Nodoka's as Sakura smiled. “I'm afraid you misunderstand, Mother-dear. I am talking about my turn with Ranma. My trial of his performance as a husband.”
Ranma blushed and frowned, putting a hand on Akane's arm as the red faced girl clenched her fist. Nodoka calmly looked at the young woman who sought to be her daughter-in-law.
“I have no idea what made you think there had been any change to the promise my son made regarding intimacy. As it stands, I can't help but look unfavorably on trying to interfere in the tranquility of this home with such a request.”
Sakura's eyes narrowed and she smiled. “Let's assume that you are simply ignorant, Mother-dear. Ranma, will you swear on the honor of your family, of your mother, that you have not been intimate with Akane?”
Ranma barely had time to squirm before Nodoka spoke. “I don't know where you heard such Sakura-chan but if you want to break off your engagement over this rumor, we will release you from your obligation.”
Licking her lips, Sakura kept a grip on her temper. “Part of why I want... my own 'test drive', is to prove that Ranma will be a worthy husband as my fortune has foretold. I am not looking to place any blame over this. I don't even mind that my predestined husband has sowed some wild oats, he is a strong and virile man. I had even hoped when we met, Mother-dearest, that you would see the value in letting him play the field, but now I see it was because you couldn't risk him finding out the delights of his chosen one, over the flat-chested muscle freak you personally chose.”
“So you've been playing the field too,” Akane spat, her anger manifesting as the near bone crushing pressure of her grip on Ranma's hand.
“Of course not my dear, I have saved myself for my true and destined love. And today and tonight I mean to have...”
Sakura's voice trailed off as her eyes narrowed on the video camera, being held just around the corner recording them.
Seeing she had been spotted, Nabiki step into the tea room. “Please, continue.”
“Nabiki,” Nodoka said firmly. “Please give us some privacy.”
“I'm afraid not Aunty,” Nabiki said back keeping the camera on Sakura. “See if the media get a whiff that Sakura Shishimi's mysterious fiancé has been cheating on her, this video will be worth a lot of yen to the tabloids. Throw in Ranma's previous criminal arrest record to spice it up, that could pay really well.”
“Nabiki!” Akane complained.
“I know Sis, I can only sell this out if Sakura goes around claiming you cheated first, but if she drags you into the mud, we will get paid for it.”
Sakura glared at the girl behind the camera lens, and finally stood to look down at Nodoka. “So you would tie your already damaged family honor to one of sluts and blackmailers. I won't forget this Mother.”
Ranma stood quickly, angry at the insult but Sakura's glare held his tongue. “It has been foretold Ranma Saotome. You will be by husband. Your curse, your meddling mother, and your current crush, they won't stop what is to come. Choosing anyone but me is only going to leave a hurt woman in your wake because come the spring, we will stand together on the Mountain of Love and the Light of Heaven shall prove our purity. You will be revealed to all as my true love.”
Still holding Ranma's hand, Akane stood to watch Sakura as the blond girl stormed to the end of the hall and soon after hear the front door slam. Behind her, Ranma sat and wondered how Sakura would escalate this, while Nodoka turned on Nabiki.
“That was not polite, Nabiki-chan. It was rude, and could well cause more problems than it solved with Sakura. Please give me the camera.”
With a shrug, Nabiki ejected the tape and offered Nodoka the camera. Pocketing the tape, Nabiki kept her stare on the older woman. “Now you could probably take it from me, but I already told you I can't use it unless Akane and Ranma have already been exposed. Before you talk to me about the tape, perhaps you should ask Akane about why her friends have been giddily trying to invite themselves over after school all week for 'details' is about.”
“Nabiki!” Akane hissed, wilting as Nodoka looked at her. “They were guessing. I had to tell them, but they promised not to tell anyone else.”
Akane rolled onto her side in her bed, a smile on her sleeping face.
After the embarrassment of having Sakura show up, Nodoka had gone off at her for telling her best friends some of what she and Ranma had done in the mountains. Ranma had tried to be quietly intimidating to protect her honor, pointing out rather forwardly to his mother that neither Sayuri or Yuka would spread it around. He made his point to both of Akane's friends by activating the electric clippers in his pocket as a threat, only to cause more embarrassment when Kasumi thought it was a vibrator and he was making some kind of sexual threat.
Between that incident and what handful of details she had divulged to her friends about the night in the mountains, Akane's eyes were flickering wildly under her eyelids as she gave a sigh, dreaming of Ranma, gleaming wet and male wearing only the bracelet on his wrist, the silver engagement ring not the only thing hanging tantalizingly. Then there were two of him and their hands were everywhere.
Pain blossomed in Akane's limbs as fast jabs poked her through her blanket, aimed at joints and her throat.
“Shhhh,” Sakura whispered soothingly to the suddenly wakened young woman struggling to make her own limbs move even as her blanket was pull off her. As Sakura started putting acupuncture needles into her, the blond girl smiled down at her. “Don't worry dear. You'll be fine once these needles are pulled out.”
Smiling down at Akane, Sakura held a finger to her lips. “It's just like my future mother-in-law said Akane-chan, I can't be disrupting the harmony of the house. So you just wait here, and I'll be back in an hour or two.”
Ditching the black clothes she wore, Sakura posed for Akane in a baby doll teddy so sheer that Akane could only tell it was there by the lacy trim. “If you listen very carefully, you may even hear your fiancé moaning my name.”
Leaving Akane to struggle in vain, Sakura slipped out into the hall of the Tendo home and casually strolled down towards the guest room.
Almost giddy with anticipation, Sakura ran her hands down her body before sliding the door silently open. Her eyes lit upon her prize, Ranma sprawled on his bedding, and two final obstacles, his parents sleeping nearby.
Seeing Ranma off to the right in the room, his parents on futons to the left and at a right angle to her beloveds bedding, Sakura frowned at how Genma was sleeping so far to the edge of the futon he was against the wall away from his wife. Shaking her head, Sakura proceeded to open the small bento box in her hand and with her chopsticks pulled out a piece of chicken.
Waving it in front of Genma, Sakura smiled as like an animal he woke barely enough to bite into the fresh cooked meat, swallowing it down before realizing how it had been laced with anesthetic chemicals, his breath deepening as he fell into a deep sleep.
Looking carefully at her dear future husband, Sakura was wary of stepping too close as she moved to get to Nodoka. She had tried before and gotten caught when her slumbering fiancé, trained through his childhood by his father to expect attack at any time, had lashed out, clearly unwitting of it being her, and knocked her out. She wouldn't risk such again till all the distractions were taken care of.
With a smile, Sakura reached for Nodoka's blanket, pulling it back to reveal the ornate dogi she wore even while asleep.
Unaware she had kicked across an intruders jaw, Nodoka rolled onto her side and kept slumbering.
Smoking his pipe on the roof, Happosai frowned at the lack of sound of fighting or humping from the room below him. He knew that the artificially endowed fiancée of Ranma had been sneaking in, but surely she wasn't that quiet.
Hanging from the roof, the diminutive old man climbed to a position to look in the window, disappointed to see the blond girl sprawled out between the bedding at Nodoka's feet. Puffing on his pipe, the old man sighed, “Want something done, you have to do it yourself.”
Opening the window and climbing in, the diminutive old man jumped over Nodoka to Sakura, his surprising strength aided by perverted hand placement to roll her bodily over onto Ranma's futon and pulling his blanket over her.
Grinning and inspecting the near transparent lingerie Sakura had been wearing, Happosai folded and pocketed it just as he entered Akane's bedroom.
Faking concern, the wizened old man leaped on the bed of his former student. “What happened, Akane-chan?” Hiding his smile, he let her growl weakly before finally pulling out the needles in her skin.
With the final one, Akane struggled weakly to her feet, ignoring the numb feeling as her body. “Thanks, got to go kill Sakura.”
Awkwardly making it to the door, Akane stumbled into the hall, her steps getting less erratic and stronger as she moved down towards the guest room. By the time she swung the door open, Akane was ready to fight, and Sakura was in Ranma's bed.
The first kick flung Sakura and the blanket off Ranma, leaving him wide open to a curb stomp into the floor boards that she would later begrudgingly admit wasn't really warranted.
The noise of crashing bodies woke Nodoka instantly, kicking to block Akane from attacking. The pair of women traded several blows and blocks, dogi versus trained skills, in the still darkened room till a punch from each got through, knocking them apart.
Stumbling back up, both blinked as the lights turned on, Kasumi the first of the rest of the house to arrive looking in with her hand on the switch.
Nodoka glanced down seeing Akane had been kicking a naked Sakura. “Oh Akane-chan, I am sorry, please proceed.”
Before Akane could, Ranma was pulling himself out of the floor. “Wait.”
Glaring at her fiancé, Akane kicked the blanket over Sakura.
“What is going on?” Kasumi finally asked, Nabiki and Soun looking in the door now.
“Sakura decided to sneak in, attack me and sleep with Ranma. What does it look like?” Akane snapped back.
“Are you okay?” Ranma asked standing up.
The concern in his voice took the edge off her anger, reminded he loved her and wasn't behind this incident. “Yeah, she used pressure points to paralyze me and show off her barely there nightie. Grandfather found me in time at least.”
Ranma frowned. “Where's the nightie?”
“Excuse me?” Akane hissed, her anger returning.
“Akane, he is in on this. He wants you thinking Sakura and I did something. She was naked in bed with me but didn't wake me? She just wanted a nap?” he asked rhetorically. “This is just like him sending Taro to interfere with us, and I bet he sent Ryoga too. He took the nightie and put her in my bed before waking you up on purpose!”
Pulling on his pants, Ranma was already stretching. “That's it. I'm going to stop his meddling.”
Akane bit her lip. “Wait Ranma. Let me go talk to him. He won't stop just because you attack him. He is like you, he likes the fighting.”
She could already see Ranma wasn't calm enough to let her go alone. Fortunately Nodoka read her son's expression too. “Ranma, perhaps you could escort Soun back down stairs to his room then go out the front and find Sakura's limo? Please ask the driver to come to the front gate to collect her? Kasumi and I will find something for Sakura to wear while Nabiki can get an icepack from the fridge for her chin.”
Akane was already moving out of the room as Nabiki frowned, her hand holding a camera behind her back twitching.
“Now Nabiki,” Nodoka insisted.
Akane was wearing her training gi as she approached the dojo. Frowning she looked once around for Ranma before pulling out two white high heels from her bag and putting them on, quickly stepping up to the dojo doors.
Stepping inside, Akane could smell the smoke and see the slight red glow of Happosai's pipe. Turning on the light, she wasn't surprised to see her old instructor looking at her.
“Grandfather, can we talk?”
Happosai puffed on his pipe. “What about Akane-chan?”
His lack of goading told Akane he was upset and this wasn't just him messing around.
“Why don't you like Ranma?”
“But Akane-chan, why wouldn't I like Ranma? I'm going to be the one who presides over the wedding. If I didn't want you together would I do that?”
Ignoring his sarcastic tone, Akane stared back at him. “Why are you using Taro and Sakura to break us up? Why are you trying to hurt us?”
With a snort, Happosai puffed his pipe. “I'm not trying to hurt you.”
“Then why are you trying to hurt him?” Akane said, her tone showing her growing annoyance.
Happosai glared at her. “Because he stole from me.”
Taken aback, Akane tilted her head. “What did he take?”
Akane frowned confused before she blushed. “It wasn't... Ranma and I were living together, practicing together. He is better than me and so he was naturally teaching me. He didn't steal me from you.”
“Didn't he?” the old man asked. “Who was there when that Kendo punk nearly made you run away from home? Who was there when your father engaged you to the French boy? Who was there for the Oni? The Orochi?”
Akane swallowed. “That was all you, but I didn't betray you...”
“You abandoned me. You didn't come to me when your father engaged you again, you just ran off. And when you finally come home, are you out here asking your old master for training?”
Now Akane was mad. “Where were you? You had left town. Daddy said you approved the engagement to the son of another student. I couldn't stay and wait for you to show up.”
Happosai puffed his pipe. “Did you kick your father in the arse and tell him no?”
Akane glared at him. “I'm not going to attack my father just because he is an idiot.”
“Can you beat Ranma?”
Frowning at the change in subject, Akane shocker her head. “I can give him a challenge, but he generally wins sparring for the moment.”
Angrily climbing to his feet, Happi pointed his pipe at her. “Sparring nothing. All out. Can you take him?”
“We aren't going to go all out, Grandfather. We love each other.”
Sneering, Happi shook his head. “So he holds back 'cause your a girl and you do because you have a crush.”
“It isn't a crush,” Akane warned.
“If you really loved him, you'd be going all out to push each other. And if he loved you, you wouldn't be sleeping alone. Isn't that right, gay-boy?”
With a thump, Ranma landed from hiding in the rafters. “I love her. Not that it is your business, but if it wasn't for that promise and if I had my way, Sakura would have found me in Akane's room tonight.”
Ignoring the blushing Akane, Happosai looked back at Ranma. “Big talk. If you really wanted it...”
“Grandfather,” Akane interrupted. “Please, I'm sorry that I made you feel I abandoned you for Ranma. I'm sure Ranma feels the same.”
Both men looked at her disbelievingly.
“But we are engaged. How can we get over this and work together. We are the heirs to the school. Shouldn't you be training both of us?”
Happosai grinned. “I only train the best.”
“So why did you train Pop,” Ranma quipped.
“Fight. All out. If Ranma wins, then you are his student only and I'll stay out of it. Akane wins, you both become my students.”
“Grandfather!” Akane shouted. “I am not going to fight all out with Ranma.”
Ignoring Ranma glaring at him, Happosai walked his stubby legs over to Akane and pointed back at Ranma.
“Look at him, he doesn't think you could beat him.”
“The only think on my face is my contempt for you, you stupid old perv.”
Happosai smirked. “So you honestly think Akane could beat you?”
Akane's eyes narrowed, trying to read her fiancé's reaction. Akane barely dived aside when Happi yanked her gi pants down. Rolling into an awkward stance as she tried to get her pants up, Akane's eyes opened in horror at piece of paper in Happosai's hand.
Jumping back from a kick from Ranma, Happi laughed at the pair.
“Sometime, somewhere Akane, I'll make you go all out against him. If you kill him it's because you didn't listen to your teacher.”
Leaping out the door, Happosai vanished into the night.
Ranma turned to Akane. “You gonna explain that?”
Biting her lower lip, Akane looked at Nodoka and Ranma in the dojo. Along with Kasumi, the foursome were drinking fresh tea the elder Tendo daughter had brought out after Akane asked Ranma to bring Nodoka out to hear her little secret.
Swallowing some hot tea, Akane knew they were patiently waiting for her to speak. “Um, I have a demon in my bottom.”
Neither Ranma or Nodoka looked liked they got it.
“I told Ranma at least that there was an oni, a demon, that was trapped in a special box at that temple near Yuka's house. Last spring the priests asked us to help them changing the seal on the box before the old one wore out and got free, but the dummy priest wrote the new seal wrong and it got free. Into Daddy, then into Kuno, then into Kasumi. Whoever it was in turned evil, acting on their worst emotions.”
Kasumi's eyes widened recalling this part of the story and got up silently. Akane couldn't help but smirk as her sister reached the doors and shut them behind her. “It only took one blow to knock it out of Daddy, and Kuno thank heavens. But Kasumi. We didn't want to hit her. The priest claimed he could make a seal to drive it from her, and so I had him make two, one to drive it out of her, and one to seal it in a new box.”
Swallowing, Akane looked down. “When I got home with them, I found Kasumi, in a room kissing Taro. I had only just dumped him and I thought, the oni tricked me into thinking they had... made love.” Akane smiled slightly as she glanced to Ranma.
“I got mad. Really mad. A thousand times Kuno at his worst mad. Grandfather said after, because I was so mad, the oni jumped over to me. Grandfather said after that is was because I was so mad, it didn't possess me but through the anger became me. Made me part of it.”
Akane shrugged. “I can remember the power, using it to try to hurt, well, more like kill Taro for jumping Kasumi. But then Grandfather slapped the sealing ward on me and did something to it, and the horns and all of it was sealed inside... my bottom.”
“The two swirl marks?” Ranma asked nervously.
Akane nodded and stood up, turning and pulling down the back of her pants to reveal the two green and yellow swirls on her flesh.
“They get the point Akane,” Kasumi said returning from outside.
Ranma bit his lip as Akane pulled her clothes back into place.
“So that piece of paper he had was some kinda unsealer? He just tried to let it out?”
“Yeah,” Akane nodded, despite Ranma's choice of word.
“Why?” Nodoka asked.
Akane sighed. “Because it will make me so angry and hateful I will fight Ranma all out like he wants. He probably thinks that with its power I will beat Ranma so bad it either breaks us up or he can mock Ranma for being beaten.”
Nodoka ignored the look in her son's eyes, the hungry glimmer of competition. “Akane-chan, is it so powerful and dangerous?”
Glancing nervously at Kasumi, Akane squirmed. “Um, last fall I ran away from home to repay an honor debt in the forests of Ryuugonzawa. A boy there got injured saving me when I was a little girl, and I had to return the whistle he gave me to escape that place. When I got there I found out he was dying of that injury and that he needed a special moss to heal the injuries. Grandfather was sent by Daddy and Kasumi to find me and with his help we found the moss, on a giant beast, an eight headed dragon called the 'Orochi'. It would have eaten us all, starting with me as the only girl.”
Sipping her tea, Akane continued. “I thought the marks on me were just that till Grandfather released it. I nearly turned on him and Shinnosuke and his grandfather, till the Orochi tried to eat me and I beat it down. It didn't stand a chance. Fortunately I was gloating so hard grandfather was able to sneak up on me to and reseal it again. And Shinnosuke's grandfather managed to get the moss.”
Ranma shrugged. “So it is like my neko-ken. No biggy. We just keep the old goat from putting that ward on you till he gets bored trying to be a threat to us or a beat him into agreeing to leave us alone.”
“Ranma,” Akane said slowly to get through to him. “This is dangerous.”
“Nah. We stay alert and I'll sleep on the floor in your bedroom to protect you at night.”
“No you won't,” Kasumi stated. “Akane can sleep in my room.”
“Nothing personal Kasumi, but you ain't gonna scare the old letch off,” Ranma pointed out.
Nodoka smiled slightly. “Ranma will sleep in Akane's bed. We move my useless husband down with Soun and Akane can join me in the guest room.”
Carrying his ice skates after their three hour Sunday practice, Ranma was scanning around for Happosai as he walked beside his fiancée.
“You're getting better. We might be able to put up a fight for Mikado and Kodachi next Saturday.”
Ranma shook his head at Akane's goading. “If we keep up the training I'll be out-skating you. But we are still gonna need some decent team combos to take them on. Mikado is tricky.”
Frowning darkly, Akane shook her head. “Everything he learned he got from Kodachi, and you've seen only the tip of the iceberg.”
“I'm more worried that Happosai will strike during that fight really,” Ranma confessed. “We'd be distracted fighting Mikado and Kodachi and it's a public place. If he thinks you can beat me all out, he'd want an audience.
Akane pursed her lips. “We could just do as he asks and have a proper fight in the dojo.”
Shaking his head, Ranma turned to Akane. “Akane... I, going all out, I'm not sure I could do it even if I did want to risk hurting ya. Not long ago Mom nearly died and this guy in China wouldn't let me near the water to cure her. The only reason he is alive is because he was part phoenix and came back as an egg. I don't want to go through that again, let alone with you at risk, and especially if I have to fight you like that.”
Akane swallowed and nodded before hugging him. “I've been wondering when you were going to tell me about that. Aunty told me what happened. She was worried about you.”
Giving a shrug, Ranma weakly hugged her back. “I'm okay. I mean he didn't die. But while the art is meant to protect people, I don't think it is right to use it to kill. If you go into a fight to protect someone's life, and the enemy won't back down, we both risk our lives if it goes too far. I get that. But if you fight at that intensity just to prove who is best... That was how Junko's dad died. He was protecting his dojo's name and the dojo destroyer who wanted the sign was using techniques that equate the body to a house, and then steals from it. It went too far and stole his life.”
Akane squeezed him harder, ignoring the fact her display of affection and comfort was in public.
After a moment, the pair broke apart, Akane grabbing Ranma's hand, the red and blue bracelet around her wrist touching the one around his. “Is that why you don't hit me harder than you do?”
Ranma shrugged. “Maybe. Not like I want to hurt you. Yeah it's important to be able to take a hit, but you can't show me anything new if you are hurt and defensive.”
Using the hand on his, she hit him in the side lightly. “I'm not a china doll.”
Smirking, Ranma used his free hand to flick the side of her head with a finger. “Didn't clink.”
He grunted as she hit him again. “I'm not fragile.”
“Didn't say you were,” Ranma said trying to be lighter. “But if I can't rub ointment on your bruises till you're wearing this ring, why would I want to make them?”
Smiling despite herself, Akane shook her head, recognizing the tone of him trying to change the subject and letting it drop. “What is it with you and marks on my body.”
“Well maybe I wouldn't mind giving you a hickey now that your little ass swirls have a less sexy story behind them.”
Akane glared at him if only to stop the blush coming to her cheeks, but didn't take the bait as another issue on her mind floated up. “Ranma?”
“Yeah?” Ranma replied cautiously, reading her tone and wincing that she was going back to the subject of going all out.
“Last week, we're you thinking of me?”
Glancing in confusion, Ranma frowned, “Huh?”
Blushing, Akane increased her pace, dragging him with her. “When Grandfather caught you... whacking off,” she clarified, using Nabiki's label.
Ranma looked at his fiancé. “Well duh, who else would I be thinking of?”
Akane stopped and turned on him. “Sakura?” She poked him in the chest as she said the name but he grabbed her free hand before she could poke him further as she continued. “Shampoo? Ukyo? Kodachi? Need I go on?”
“So when ya touch yourself you think of Mikado and Taro and Ryoga?”
Pushing Ranma into a nearby wall and pinning him with an elbow across his chest, Akane looked from side to side up and down the street, embarrassed in case somebody heard. “I don't do that!” she hissed.
Non-plussed, Ranma shrugged. “So if you don't think of them why do you think I...”
“I don't touch myself,” Akane firmly interrupted.
Ranma tilted his head, his tone pure sarcasm. “Right.”
Akane glared once before turning away and walking ahead, Ranma falling into step behind her with a grin.
A simple growl from Akane was all Ranma got in reply.
“You know what they say, the more you deny it the more you must do it.”
“No it doesn't, because I don't.”
“You seemed to know how you liked to be touched in the tent.”
Akane lashed out with a kick that Ranma ducked under.
“I think you think stuff so dirty you don't want to admit it.”
“Die pervert!” Akane cried as she kicked at him again, readying her ice skate blades to teach him to shut his mouth.
Sticking out his tongue, Ranma ducked around her and ran for home, feeling her close on his heels.
“Akane-chan.” Nodoka called, entering the dojo.
Looking up from breaking bricks, Akane forced a smile to her lips. Ranma's little joke was still bothering her, especially after she had thought she had finally gotten him and he tripped her into the freezing water of the pond in the yard.
She was willing to acknowledge that part of it was her fault for letting anger dominate her while he led her into a trap, and as he had teased, if she really didn't... she had nothing to be angry about.
There were times she so wanted to wring his neck.
“What is it Aunty?”
Shutting the door behind her, Nodoka took off her kimono to show the ornate dogi she wore. “I think it is time we did some training together.”
Akane raised an eyebrow questioningly. “Why?”
“I feel I am best qualified to teach you to defend yourself from Happosai.”
Blinking in surprise, Akane looked unconvinced.
“Well, dogi-chan and I will teach you. You see the suit brings out the skills as if I had reached the pinnacle of my potential as a martial artist. And together we have fought my husband in such a way I can share my experience to defending against a weakness you and I share Akane.”
“Weakness?” Akane asked concerned.
“Akane-chan, you are nearly a woman but you have a lot more to learn in life, and some of those things will only come with life experience. One of the things I was surprised to learn when I married Ranma's father, was that I found it arousing to be spanked.”
Akane went red.
“It is a very strong weakness for me,” Nodoka admitted. “One my husband exploits whenever he can. Hence why now when we fight the suit helps me especially to stop Genma from reaching my behind, and to break his hands to thwart him. These are what I would like to show you.”
Gingerly climbing the stairs, keenly aware of the throbbing red cheek on her behind, Akane walked tiredly to the open guest room door. Ranma was flopped on the futon she slept on last night reading from an illustrated book on ice skating.
“Ranma. No matter what I say, you hit me as hard as you find comfortable. And only for training. Okay?”
Seeing the frown on his face, Akane just turned and headed down the hall. No way was she ready to talk about spanking and fetishes with her fiancé.
With a shriek, Akane jumped up, nearly spilling her breakfast as Nodoka slapped her on the behind.
“Your defenses are down dear,” the older woman said casually as she took her place at the table.
Ranma stopped inhaling food to look curiously at his fiancée frowning and embarrassed. “What's that about?”
“Nothing to concern yourself with, my son,” Nodoka said indifferently. “It is part of the training regime I am giving her.”
Genma looked up from across the table. “You're training Akane?”
“Do you feel you would be better husband?” Nodoka said evenly. “I am training her to protect her from your old master, do you wish to risk angering that old pervert to protect your future daughter-in-law?”
Genma hunched and focused back on his breakfast.
“Akane, you must study hard under your new sensei to fend off my old master” Soun said still taking an interest. “But try not to make him mad.”
“Daddy!” Akane complained.
Quickly finishing his breakfast, Ranma put down his chopsticks. “Akane, I got an idea when you come upstairs.”
Quickly heading up the stairs, Akane turned down the hall towards her room, seeing Ranma near her open bedroom door. “What's your idea?”
“What underwear are you wearing?” Ranma asked seriously.
Blushing lightly, Akane looked away from him. “Why?”
“Well I figure since Happi tried to yank ya pants down that ward that will release ya demon, it won't work through clothes?”
More disappointed than relieved by the nature of Ranma's interest in her underwear, Akane nodded. “I thought so too. I'm wearing bloomers and two pairs of underwear under them in case he tries again.”
“No good, one pull could drop them all,” Ranma said before offering her a pair of his boxer shorts. “If he even looks up ya skirt with those on, he'll stall for long enough to give you a chance to fight.”
Akane looked concerned. “And what will everyone else think of my wearing your underwear?”
“Do you want them looking at you like some monster?”
Akane reddened recalling how her combined form did look before snatching the shorts and pulling them up her legs and under her skirt.
Eating their lunches, Akane and Yuka rolled their eyes, not even needing to look to know she was looking at Daisuke. Initially Akane was going to keep this tidbit to herself but the way her friend was pining was getting annoying.
“Ranma said Daisuke is apparently seeing that Arisu girl again.”
When Sayuri looked up with a slight whining moan, Akane continued. “Apparently he is with her family on a boat in Tokyo harbor tonight to see some New Years fireworks show.”
“Oh god, kill me now.” Sayuri said theatrically before flopping back on the grass.
“Please, he may be clueless,” Yuka began, “but at least he is worth dating. I went out with Hiro on Saturday night. Not only was talking about how many kids he wants to have, when I looked up from checking out a cute boy, so was he! I mean talk about sending out conflicting signs.”
Akane's eyes crossed then she joined Sayuri giggling.
“Do you think he does like boys?” Sayuri asked.
Yuka shrugged, then looked around. “Don't care. Though try not to spread it around so no one gives him grief either way. He paid for dinner and didn't talk to my chest so I owe him that much.”
The smile on Akane's face fell as Yuka looked at her. The young woman could read her friends expression. “I told you everything I'm going to on Saturday. So don't bother asking for more.”
“Wasn't planning to,” Yuka bold faced lied. “But how many kids are you and Ranma going to have?”
Frowning, Akane shook her head. “No idea. We've never talked about it and I'm not going to bring it up yet. I don't even know how many I want.”
Sayuri leaned back up. “So what is the most embarrassing thing you and Ranma have talked about?”
Glaring at her friend, Akane briefly wondered how a girl who hadn't been able to look Ranma in the face after hearing the details of what happened between the engaged couple could then keep asking questions after. Her mind briefly reviewed some of their conversations, and she blushed recalling her talk with Ranma yesterday and his teasing.
Seeing the blush both her friends huddled closer. “Spill.”
Realizing she was caught, Akane sagged before leaning in, looking around again for anyone close enough to hear. “It wasn't a discussion, but, Ranma was caught last week...” Her voice trailed off as she made like her hand was holding a pipe and waved it back and forth with her wrist like she imaged Ranma had.
Giggling the girls nodded and let her continue.
“I asked him if he was thinking of anyone else, and then he accused me of, pleasuring myself.”
Sayuri blushed but Yuka just shrugged. “So?”
“So I didn't want to tell him I did,” Akane said testily.
“Do you?” Akane asked.
Yuka shifted awkwardly, “Well, I mean I didn't get a kiss goodnight on Saturday, but I went to bed warm thinking of Hiro and that cute boy he was checking out. So what?”
“I don't know,” Akane said awkwardly. “I just don't want him thinking I am doing that every time my door is shut.”
Sayuri frowned. “You think that's bad. My mom offered to get me a vibrator. She gave me this whole speech about saving myself for marriage but when it happens, she wished she knew how she'd like to be touched rather than relying on my dad who was even more clueless than her.”
“Doesn't sound like Ranma had that problem,” Yuka teased.
Sayuri nodded. “Are you sure he didn't do it with any of those other girls before you?”
Looking at her friends, “Even if Ranma hadn't sworn I was the first, if any of those girls had gotten to him in the past they wouldn't shut up about it now.”
Smirking, Yuka shrugged. “Can you be sure other girls now out of the picture haven't practiced with his sword?”
“Nay!” Kuno cried, making all the girls jump as he suddenly appeared beside them and hearing the last words from Yuka. “Akane's strong but dainty hands should only handle my bokken. Her very presence as I practice would make my wooden weapon unstoppable.”
Akane backed away red faced, Sayuri backing in a different direction and Yuka doubling over with laughter at the innuendo.
Hiroshi was mid way through talking about possible reasons for tattoos he was considering when Ranma got up and sprinted away. He and Daisuke looked up to see him heading towards Kuno near the girls who were scattering away from the wannabe samurai.
Eyes narrowing on the ugly wig the kendoist had on his head, Ranma moved up beside Kuno. “Nice wig Kuno. It took you a week to find one so you could show yourself around here?”
“Saotome, I return armed to defeat you. This day I face you again in my dome and I will be the victor!”
“No,” said Ranma with a smirk.
“Yes! This day...”
“This day I shall...”
“Saotome what you....”
“No challenges Kuno,” Ranma said bored. “I could beat you but it is a hell of a lot more fun to tell you that I read the rules on love dome. You lost to me. Twice. And suffered the penalty. You can't submit any challenges for weeks.”
“Indeed Saotome, you only prove your mind is but a candle to the bonfire between my ears. I have made my challenge.”
Nabiki shrugged, “Sorry Kuno-baby. You lost two challenges to Ranma. Pitifully quickly I might add. You'll have to wait for January twenty fourth. Rules as written.”
Inside the love dome, the action had slowed as the overconfident kendoist claimed he could issue a challenge. “Even your own trickster imagination fails to compare to my brilliance, Nabiki Tendo. Verily, Sasuke! Come forth and explain the brilliant ruling they have failed to appreciate.”
The diminutive ninja manservant of the Kuno family appeared obediently, holding up a copy of the love dome rules. His thin mustache twitched as he explained. “Sub clause three of section five of the rules you wrote Ms Tendo. Quote, 'Master Kuno's challenges are immediately placed at the front of the queue challenge queue, regardless of those in front or other conditions that Master Kuno does not agree with verbally.' End quote.”
Kuno smiled obnoxiously as Nabiki blushed and double checked the rules. Without waiting for confirmation the wannabe samurai made his way into the ring, carrying two bokken.
“Sorry Ranma,” Nabiki said, holding her hand before her face briefly in apology. “I didn't pay enough attention to those clauses. Didn't think I had to contend with Kuno's brain.”
The glance Nabiki gave Sasuke made it clear she knew were this idea had come from.
“So what? I have to fight him whenever he wants?”
“Afraid so,” Nabiki said, not focused on him as she kept rereading section five of the rules, the special class of rules she had written in to appease Kuno enough to make him share his arena to become Love Dome. She looked up at him, “My bad.”
“Do I get to shave any stubble under that stupid wig.”
Sasuke ruffled the papers in his hand. “Master Kuno would like to point out that according to sub-clause five, he is exempt from Love Dome interference by Principal Kuno. Master Kuno would argue this also applies to the punishment chair.”
Even before Nabiki could start looking at the loophole, Ranma shrugged. “Fine.”
Turning around, he took Akane's hand and looked her in the eye. “Maybe the view would be better by the punishment chair,” he whispered.
Akane smiled and nodded, holding the electric clippers Ranma slipped her under her arm to hide it from view as best as possible.
“Begin!” Nabiki cried.
Kuno had just enough time to raise his two bokken, the blades crossing even as they glowed with charged ki, before Ranma launched fired his pink tinged ki.
“Muteki Kurohyou Me-To!”
Going straight through Kuno's defenses, the attack lifted and launched the wannabe samurai back.
Crashing into the ground, Ranma didn't wait for Nabiki to declare himself the winner, calling his attack again.
Crying the name of the 'Unyielding Panther Mate' attack again, Ranma sent another blast of ki at the downed opponent.
Before Kuno could recover, Ranma jumped near and kicked the bokken from his hands. Dragging Kuno up, Ranma immediately started dragging him towards Akane and the barber's chair.
Grinning, Akane pulled the sheet off the chair, before stepping quickly towards Ranma and past him, raising a fist at the approaching ninja.
Sasuke waved the printed rules of the love dome. “Master Kuno is exempt from the punishment chair!”
“Release me!” Kuno cried, waking up to the danger with one arm already strapped to the chair.
Struggling, Ranma dragged Kuno's free hand over to the other arm strap.
Akane pointed at Sasuke warningly. “Ranma was made School Haircut monitor. He has Principal Kuno's permission to make shave anyone with an inappropriate haircut. That isn't a Love Dome rule.”
Thrashing in the chair, Kuno managed to get one foot to Ranma to boot him away, sending Rama crashing into Akane.
Grabbing Akane, Ranma twisted to hit the ground first on his back, letting Akane land on him, her skirt flaring up. The pair froze, faces reddening at the closeness, before Ranma saw past Akane's shoulder to Sasuke trying to release Kuno who was still looking at the boy's boxers Akane was wearing.
Getting up, Akane pulled her skirt back into place as Ranma propped himself on one arm. “Oi, Ninja guy,” Ranma said. “You undo that strap and I will shave you too.”
The short ninja shrugged and pulled his hood back showing his head with barest fuzz of hair. “Master Kuno insisted his servants don't have more than him.”
Ranma pursed his lips. “Then I'll ask Kodachi for how best to humiliate you.”
Sasuke's eyes widened. Even if he doubted Mistress Kodachi knew him well enough to know the worst way to humiliate him, most of her requests were humiliating.
“Coward, release me!” Kuno yelled as his servant backed up.
Ignoring Kuno's legs, Ranma stepped behind the chair and up to Kuno's head, pulling off his bad wig to expose the week's worth of stubble. “We can do this every time you challenge me, Kuno.”
“Nice undies,” Ranma mocked, catching a glimpse of his shorts under Akane's skirt as she climbed the stairs in the Tendo home after school.
Sticking out her tongue, Akane looked over her shoulder at him. “Well if Sakura comes around claiming things again we can say this was me getting in your pants.”
Ranma gave her a red eye, continuing to the guest room even as Akane moved down to her bedroom to change out of her uniform.
Closing her door, Akane undid her school dress and slipped out of it, turning towards her closet to put it on a hook.
Glancing in her mirror, Akane stopped, looking at the bra and boxer shorts on her body. She huffed as she felt a stirring inside her.
She had been feeling a little tense all day, even without seeing that damned engagement ring on Ranma's wrist all through class, or Yuka's teasing reminding her of what she had shared with Ranma when camping. If anything the memory of their training trip was making a stronger reaction in her body every time she thought back on it.
And falling on Ranma when they were trying to strap down Kuno in Love Dome had made her cheeks pink for most of the afternoon.
Cupping her chest over her bra, Akane bit her lower lip as she sat down on her bed, letting her fingers wander.
She was caught off guard when her closet burst open.
Bored with waiting for Akane to come to her, Nodoka leaped out of the closet in ambush.
Both women froze, both went red, but Nodoka was the first to turn around, “I'm very sorry Akane-chan. This is an unfortunate time to ambush you. Please continue.”
Opening the door and slipping out, Nodoka closed it behind her.
Pulling her hands off her body, Akane heard Ranma's voice out in the hall. “Is Akane okay?”
Giving a light wail, Akane pulled her pillow over her face.
“Please don't have told Ranma, please don't have told Ranma,” Akane said by way of a mantra as she stepped out from her room, eyes glancing warily down the empty hall.
Sighing in relief, the young woman in the off white gi stepped into the hall shutting her door behind her. She made it three steps before a yawn behind her made her swing around.
Ranma stood near the balcony door, looking at her as he posed remarkably like a muscle builder as he faked a stretch with his even more over acted yawn.
Dragging her eyes from defined muscles of her shirtless fiancé, Akane focused on her anger. “You are so egotistical.”
Licking his lips, he smiled a smirk that she almost flinched away from. “Just thought you needed a little reminder to help you... not do whatever it was Mom didn't interrupt you doing.”
Closing her eyes as she winced in embarrassment, Nodoka had obviously told him.
“Fine, come on get it all out,” Akane said, till she flushed and realized her choice of words. “Your teasing! Get all your teasing out now, because if you tease me in front of anyone, I will hurt you so bad.”
Pursing his lips, he dropped his hands, relaxed at his sides but ready to guard if she took a swing at him. “Not if you're gonna sap all the fun out of it... Though I suppose Mom already did for you.”
Biting her lip and clenching her fists, Akane kept her calm as he managed to be serious for half a sentence before reverting to teasing. Her lips turned down in a frown, and she glanced down the hall to make sure they were alone before walking up to back him into the end of the hall to whisper to him. “What did what we did on the training trip mean to you, Ranma?”
Reacting awkwardly to the change in tone Akane was pushing, Ranma put one hand behind his head as he thought about the words. Closing up he turned it around. “What did it mean to you?”
“I asked you first,” Akane said tersely. “Then you should be willing to say first,” Ranma stalled.
Wincing and having to step back to drag her eyes from the flex of his bicep as he scratched behind his head, she shook her head. Looking up at him again, she whispered again. “I... I realized how much you meant to me but I thought it was our last time together. I don't regret it, but I...”
Stumbling while trying to find the right words, Ranma spoke up. “I don't know how to say it either. All I know is it felt right.”
Akane looked up at him nearly crying as he fumbled words trying to explain the same tumbling of emotions inside her.
Looking at the brimming brown eyes before him Ranma grew more uncomfortable. “Is that what you were thinking of in your room?”
The shift in her eyes told Ranma he had hit a very raw nerve and his smugness cost him an instant of reaction, leaving him too slow to dodge the punch that dropped him to his knees. He was still struggling for breath as he heard her angry steps heading down the stairs.
Heading down in pursuit, he nearly caught up when Akane had reached the door to the dojo outside. Opening the door she turned to look at him as he ran up. “I'm training with your mother. Go away.”
The door was slid shut hard in his face.
Still smirking smugly, Ranma turned back to the house, his eyes narrowed on his father playing shogi with Mr Tendo. Both men were well robed against the cold as they played near the pond.
“Yo pop, time to train.”
“Can't boy,” Genma said cautiously, knowing that the incident with Akane's Christmas present was still on his son's mind. “Twisted my back. Should be healed soon.”
Sneering at the lie, Ranma's eyes looked to Soun. “Mr Tendo. Up for some practice or you too out of shape?”
Caught between annoyance for his old friend picking an excuse that he couldn't share to not train with the annoyed young man, and the very same young man's stab at his pride. “The women have the dojo right now Son, and we aren't going to ruin my garden sparring in it. Better you sit with us and we talk about how you are wooing my daughter?”
Ranma grimaced as the older man caught him off guard. “You two are enjoying ya game. I'll go train and we can talk later,” Ranma said quickly. 'Much later,' he thought too himself as he made to go around the house and out the gate for a run.
“He's still young,” Soun said with a snort, looking at his old friend then at the changed game board between them. “And you are a cheat!”
“Was that necessary Akane-chan?” Nodoka asked, looking up from the remains of bricks she had been breaking to see Akane ordering Ranma not to join them and slamming the dojo door.
“You didn't have to tell him,” Akane complained as she crossed the dojo.
“Is there a problem Akane-chan? He probably very much likes the idea he has that affect on you.”
“It isn't his business,” Akane said firmly as she approached the older woman, eyes on the practice she had been doing with the power of the ornate magical fighting dogi she wore as if she really had to train. Reaching the middle of the floor, she bowed to her trainer like Nodoka was a true martial artist rather than a magic using cheat.
“Of course not, not until you are finally together of course.”
Grimacing, unsure how to portray her anger to her fiancé's mother, Akane couldn't help but recall facing this woman twice outside of this training hall. Once Nodoka was the one enraged trying to dissect Ryoga and then two nights ago when Nodoka had defended Sakura from Akane.
By the look in Nodoka's eyes as she came forward and bowed, Akane was sure the older woman was thinking the same.
Akane winced as she opened the change room door into the hall and found Ranma there.
She felt his eyes on her split lip, but the way his eyes looked down the robe covering her body let Akane know Nabiki had blabbed about the bruises seen when they joined her sister in the bath.
“Who started it?” he asked neutrally.
Behind Akane, Nodoka stepped up with an ice bag wrapped in a towel to her eye. “It was simple training accidents. We both merely got a bit vigorous. Nothing to concern yourself over, my son.”
“One injury is an accident. Heavy bruising, you're favorin' your ankle, Akane her wrist,” Ranma began rebelliously.
“Please enunciate your words properly, Ranma.” Nodoka begun firmly, pulling the ice pack from her blackened eye. “As it is, I'm not sure how you would consider bruises you haven't seen, 'heavy'. But we are both quite okay.”
Akane reached out to put her hand on his lips. “We're fine. We were just blowing off some old steam. It's done now. You can come and train with us from now on to make sure.”
The tone Akane had was subtly smug, and the way his mother's eyes narrowed in less than complete agreement with Akane's assessment let Ranma know that while Akane thought she had worked out whatever was going on, Nodoka hadn't dropped it.
Looking out at the light winter drizzle, Nabiki sighed and turned from the window to the TV in the corner.
Eating soba noodles and mochi balls, most of the two families were huddled in the tea room, he kotatsu tabletop warmed by the traditional floor charcoal burner. Nabiki slipped her pyjama covered legs under the kotatsu beside where Kasumi sat, just around the corner from Akane. Beside Akane, was Ranma with Nodoka alone on the other side.
“I thought father said that he and Uncle would be home early tonight. It is like breaking tradition for him not to be here.”
Nodoka bit into a rice cracker loudly, before replacing the ice pack on her eye. “It is also tradition for my husband to spend most of this night out claiming that with the fresh new year I should forgive him. He never learns and is undoubtedly a bad influence on your father.”
“So it was just you and Ranma last new years eve?” Akane asked.
The glare of Nodoka and Ranma's uncomfortable squirm suggested no.
“Ah, no. I got stuck saving Shampoo and Junko from a ghost.”
“A ghost cat,” Nodoka corrected.
Seeing Akane's quizzical look he started to explain.
“Shampoo brought this stupid giant bell back from China. It was part of a matched pair and she wore the small one. She claimed the couple with them were destined to marry. Problem is the big bell was haunted with a giant ghost...”
Even before Ranma could articulate the word, his body shivered and Nodoka took over. “Cat. It was a two story tall ghost cat. And with Ranma's unfortunate training in the neko-ken, it proved an uncomfortable opponent for him.”
Ranma nodded even as he felt Akane take his hand and squeeze it.
“Anyway, it showed up and bothered us a couple times, but one time it called Shampoo out for a ramen delivery to trap her in an abandoned temple. It made it so she'd change into her cursed form if she left. It planned to marry her on new years, when she would be stuck with it as a cat forever.”
Nabiki leaned forward. “Because she has the Jusenkyo curse that turns her into a cat?”
“Yeah,” Ranma confirmed.
“So couldn't you just have exorcised this ghost cat?”
Ranma shrugged. “No idea how to. Wouldn't even know where to look for anyone who can.”
“We have those demon priests at that temple near the school. I'm sure...” Nabiki began till Akane cut her off.
“Nabiki, maybe we should hear how they beat the cat without an exorcist?”
Taking a nod from Akane as a queue, Ranma continued. “Anyway Shampoo told us she could break free with a kiss, and wanted it from me. Mousse tried to kiss her but she rejected him as usual. Then when it was nearly midnight, Junko showed up and helped me get past the c-c-c-cats the ghost used to keep me away.”
“We got up to Shampoo who was held in a cage near the temple bell, who told us she'd be stuck when it was rung one hundred and eight times for new years. Mousse tried to kiss her to break the curse and again she kicked him away. I was about to kiSS...” Ranma's voice rose sharply as he grabbed his thigh, trying to pry Akane's fingers out of his flesh. “Let me finish first.”
Akane released her grip, Nodoka frowning as Nabiki smirked at the couple.
“Ranma, you said you were about to kiss Shampoo,” Nabiki prodded to make him continue.
“Yeah, I was about to but Junko let the ghost cat beside her. She and Shampoo have bad blood between them for ages, and she thought Shampoo still had till midnight so did it to tease her. It got to me and drove me back, and I tripped backwards down a well. The ghost then grabbed the bell ringer and started slamming it real fast trying to get through the hundred and eight rings.”
“I was tryin' ta get out of the well,” Ranma said before Nodoka put her hand on his.
“Enunciation,” the older woman pointed out.
“He was just getting excited,” Akane defended. “He often sounds rough when he is excited.”
“Anyway,” Ranma said to cut them off that subject. “I couldn't get out of the well fast enough, and Mousse wasn't back yet, so Junko kissed Shampoo and broke the curse. Shampoo was so annoyed that Junko had fouled up me kissing her, that she tried to make Junko the bride of the ghost. It said it couldn't because she didn't have Shampoo's curse.”
Relaxed, Akane pulled her hand back, while around from her Nabiki adjusted her legs under the kotatsu apparently for comfort. The middle sister looked at Ranma. “So how did that Mousse guy react to Junko kissing Shampoo? He likes her, right?”
“He is infatuated with Shampoo. But really he was so mad he hit me, because he didn't want to hit Junko. Apparently two girls happens in their culture so he is mad that Junko made a move.”
Nabiki grinned, “Poor baby.”
Rolling his eyes at Nabiki's reply, Ranma looked suddenly at Akane. For her part, Akane wasn't sure what the slight shake of his head meant. Her confusion grew as he glared and shook his head more firmly, mouthing 'we can't' at her.
Akane's eyes narrowed, her hands lunging under the kotatsu and finding Nabiki's leg reaching over hers to get to gods knew what part of Ranma.
Nabiki's eyes widened as the two sister's briefly struggled under the table. Akane smirked widely.
Frowning, Nabiki looked her sister in the eye. “Anyone want anything while I'm up?”
Before Akane could stop her, Nabiki stood. Even subtly pulling her pyjama top down in the front, Ranma glanced at her bare legs, and as she turned got a glimpse of bare behind. He looked away as Nabiki started to leave and Akane looked at him suspicious of how much of her sister he had seen.
“Nabiki!” Kasumi cried. “Where are your pants?”
Shrugging her shoulders making her expose more, Nabiki didn't look back. “Ask Akane.”
As Nodoka, Ranma and the angry Kasumi looked at Akane, the youngest flushed and held up the stolen pants. “She was trying to play footsie with Ranma. I didn't think she'd go parading it! I didn't take her underwear, she mustn't have been wearing any!”
The sound of a faint crunch made Ranma's eyes flick open, his body rolling out of Akane's bed with speed. Past the door and down the hall, Ranma saw Kasumi's door open also, the older girl looking out nervously as more sounds of fighting came from the guest bedroom.
Sliding the door open, Ranma leaned on his back foot, ready to charge and fight whatever was happening within.
He wasn't prepared to see Akane and Nodoka sound asleep, and throwing punches at each other.
Frowning, Ranma wasn't sure to jump in or not, when Akane was shoved back hard enough that her next kick hit the wall. His eyes widened realizing what would wake them, and tried to mimic the right voice, “Sweeto!”
Both women sat up suddenly, arms ready to defend themselves, only to groan from impacts they had been receiving from the other.
“Are you two nuts?” Ranma began, but when a sound came from behind him he spun in place, guard up. His hands dropped seeing Kasumi stepping sleepily towards the door with him.
“What's going on?” the elder sister asked.
Frowning, Ranma glared at the two sheepish women looking at each other in bed. “They're fighting in their sleep.”
“I'm sure it is a misunderstanding. Akane must have rolled over and Dogi-chan must have thought she was a threat,” Nodoka proffered.
Akane glared, “Or it struck fir...”
Ranma slapping one fist into his other hand to get the attention of the two most important women in his life, before one stuck her foot in her mouth. Pursing his lips, Ranma glanced at the confused look on Kasumi's face. “Sorry for disturbing you Kasumi. Go back to bed, I know what will keep them apart.”
Ignoring the three confused looks on their faces, Ranma turned and headed back down the hall, past Nabiki's and even Akane's door to the balcony at the end.
Still frowning, Kasumi proffered well wishes for the pair and returned to her room, missing the return of a wet haired Ranma in his girl form carrying his bedding. Without speaking, Ranma set his bedding between the pair.
“Can we get some sleep this time or are we going to be too tired to stop Happosai when he finally comes after Akane?”
Shifting in the darkness, Akane felt keenly aware of Ranma beside her. It was reassuring to hear his girl forms light snores, despite not really having slept beside his cursed form in the past.
Licking her lips, she rolled onto her side to face away from him. She hadn't really thought about how little she cared about his curse anymore. Her body certainly was whispering her fiancé was near, even if there was absolutely nothing she could do about it, even without the mood killer of his mother in the room, there was the promise. Still, that girl body was her fiancé.
Her brow furrowed as she wondered if Ranma-chan would 'inherit' Aunty's kinky desires. With a low groan at her own thoughts hindering her own efforts to sleep, Akane resolved to not hit Ranma in his girl form, before rolling over and mentally running through kata till she drifted into sleep.
Just after dawn, a dressed Kasumi smiled as she silently opened her door to a new day. Stepping out without a sound to disrupt the harmony of the house, she made it three feet before noticing the change to her regular environment, her eyes glancing down the hall to the open door to Akane's room.
Rather than turn to investigate it, she turned with a frown to the door of the guest room, sliding it open without noise, one eyes peeking it to ascertain what Ranma had used to keep the two women inside from nocturnal scuffles.
Her eye widened as her demeanor became icy, seeing Ranma's girl form laying between Nodoka and Akane. Worse, during the night, Aunty had wrapped her arms around her son's feminine neck, pulling him back to cradle the red head to her bosom.
Against Ranma's front, Akane had also encircled the red head in her arms, sleeping on the red head's breasts like a pillow. A little puddle of damp on Ranma's shirt from drool said Akane had been this way for a while.
Stepping into the bedroom, Kasumi reached for Ranma's ear to drag the pervert from the bedding, when from under blankets both Akane and Nodoka kicked out instinctively.
Taking simultaneous blows in the shins, Kasumi toppled forward, about to land on Ranma when two feminine hands, one from each woman in the bed, reached up and caught her roughly.
Now awake, Nodoka and Akane looked confused at the embarrassed Kasumi, each having one hand on her breast, holding her off the red head slumbering between them.
With silent, awkward embarrassment, the three women all got up, leaving Ranma to sleep, not discussing what had happened till they reached the kitchen.
“Why did we have to come to this temple?” Akane lamented.
The question was somewhat rhetorical as after the embarrassing position she had woken up in. After they had all quietly agreed to not inform Ranma of what had happened, Kasumi had rushed to get everyone into kimono to head to a temple for the first prayers of the new year. Akane should have expected Kasumi would want to make a point so there was no repeat of this mornings events, but in leading her here of all....
“Hail the demon-slayer!” proclaimed the priest over the small crowd of early morning attendees. The Shinto priest smiled grandly, leaving his position by a covered old dry well on the temple grounds to greet them.
Blushing lightly, Akane gave a light bow to the priest, hoping he would move on.
“All be blessed by the presence of the demon-slayer. Come and take the hand of the blessed warrior of heaven!”
Wincing Akane was at least thankful that Kuno was not present, the last time he had been around this priest had started a praise war till she was being thanked for the sun coming up in the morning. The young woman looked up as a strong hand took hers.
Reading Akane's discomfort, Ranma stepped up looking at the priest in the tall Shinto headgear. “Yo, Funny Hat. Akane is my fiancée so no one is taking her hand but me.”
“Ranma, be polite,” Nodoka stated reprovingly. “Please accept our apologies Priest-san. We are just here to prayer. For martial artists of our families school, like my son and future daughter-in-law, it is a duty to defeat such monsters. We prefer a certain amount of discretion.”
Taking the hint, the priest bowed his head and started to step back, using one hand to gesture them onwards towards the shrine.
Kneeling down, it was only after a polite cough from Kasumi that the pair let each other's hands go in prayer.
Akane knew what she was praying for but Ranma frowned, listening with his eyes closed as he heard the priest talking to his mother. “So have the children decided on where to hold the wedding? We...”
A cackling voice interrupted, “Find out if there will be a wedding first! The bride looks like she is having a change of heart!”
Ranma spun to his feet from his kneeling position, looking past Akane as Happosai tore a whole in the back of her kimono, through layers of cloth to reach in with a slip of paper.
Even as Akane tried to react, the magic scroll made contact on her flesh and underwear, the thin cloth not enough to stop the energy exchange, the horn swirls vanishing from her skin. With a cry of pain, her back arched as her body convulsed.
Growling, Ranma launched himself at the laughing old man. “Reseal it!” he demanded, even as he jumped towards Happosai with nearly deadly intent.
“Oh I got you a present already gay boy,” the wizened old man cried, stepping back just enough to time the swing of his pipe. With nearly no effort, he hooked the young man and with Ranma's own momentum flung him in an arc through the air.
Twisting in the air, Ranma brought his hands together to blast the old master, when he saw Happosai toss one of his lit firecrackers. Looking down, he saw he was coming down on the covering wooden lid of over the old dry well of the temple when the firecracker landed on it. With a bang the firecracker went off, shattering the wood to splinters as Ranma fell uncontrollably into the opening.
Laughing, Happosai dodged past a kick from Nodoka. Landing he looked at the wife of his fattest student. “Listen, listen!” he declared, holding a finger to his lips.
Frowning, Nodoka stopped her attack, looking to the well even as many of the mostly elderly temple goers were leaving through the gates near the well. Echoing up, she could hear the dozens of meowing cats even over those temple visitors fleeing.
Ducking behind the priest to keep away from Nodoka, Happosai froze at a stern glance from the eldest Tendo daughter. “Grandfather Happosai, why are you doing this?”
Slightly sheepish at being glared at, Happosai stopped for a second. His smile returned as Akane's yowl became more of an angry roar, her body lifting into the air against the pull of gravity.
“Sorry Kasumi-chan, but I can't let Akane see you right now. That would spoil my plans,” he declared.
Kasumi had the sudden sensation of fear and disgust as Happosai lecherously leaped at her. In barely a second later Kasumi's world was dark as she struggled against heavy cloth around her, her legs cold.
With martial skill bestowed by the magic dogi, Nodoka charged after the old goat to beat him into stopping this, Kasumi now his third victim. The layers of the young woman's kimono were folded up over her body, knotted over her head, leaving her struggling like an onion, her pink panties on display through her pantyhose, her legs otherwise bare to the world.
“The oni! The demon returns!”
Nodoka chased the old man, but the cries from the shocked Shinto priest made her turn to see her future daughter-in-law floating in the air. Akane's clothes were aflame with crackling blue energy, two small horns emerging from her hair just above her forehead, as she looked down at the priest. The last of her kimono burning away leaving a leopard print bikini, and similar print boots with heels that stretched up to just above her knees.
Oni-Akane sneered down at the priest, “Hello again old priest. Your 'demon slayer' just became a priest slayer. Goodbye old priest!”
Raising her hand, Oni-Akane's finger pointed down at the priest, the tip crackling with blue white energy before a bolt of lightning emerged gouging the ground where the priest had been.
Rolling back to her feet, Nodoka hefted the priest up to toss him over the fence and clear of the enraged demon that was Akane. Swinging around, Nodoka had to dive clear again as a second bolt of lightning came from the floating girl in go-go boots.
“Akane-chan...” Nodoka began before the demon cut her off.
Dodging another lightning bolt, Nodoka tried to counter attack but Oni-Akane simply floated back out of the older woman's reach. And straight into the path of a fast moving blur.
Oni-Akane screeched as she landed on her back on the grass, looking up at her attacker, the smirking face of Ranma looking at her with oddly empty eyes as he straddled the girl, his hands like paws on her shoulders. “Meow,” he 'spoke' inquisitively.
“You! I'll kill you!” Her face contorting with ugly rage, Akane struck up into the young man with deadly intent, only for him to dart aside, then leap over a thunderous crackling bolt of lightning.
Taking her distraction, Nodoka jumped into the fray, a sharp kick to the side of Akane's head failed to knock her out but left the demon girl dazed. She was about to try again when Ranma blurred and charged her, knocking his own mother to the ground.
Crunching her abs to lift her legs, Nodoka Saotome pushed off her back to flip to her feet, only to find Ranma growl angrily at her continued fight. Even the dogi couldn't make the mother raise her hand against her son quickly, as he lashed out with a claw, not cutting her skin but shredding down her kimono, the dogi beneath, and most importantly the belt of the magical outfit.
Nodoka slumped to her knees, her clothes now rags around her, all her skill and strength gone as the power of the magic dogi vanished. She watched as her son turned from her, springing back after his demonic fiancée as she shook off Nodoka's last successful blow.
The smell of ozone mixed with foul tobacco as Happosai puffed his pipe beside the older woman, watching as the demon raged against the playful boy acting like a cat.
“Why?” Nodoka begged. “Why have you done this old man?”
Happosai blew a smoke ring at the woman with a smirk. “Because he doesn't deserve my Akane-chan. He can't beat her now. Even at his best, the power of the oni is too much. He took my student from me, now we see why I am the master and not him.”
“Please Happosai,” Nodoka begged. “Stop this before they hurt each other.”
Sneering, Happosai pointed his pipe at the pair, Ranma swatting Akane's legs from under her making her spin in mid air. “Don't you see it. The cat in him still thinks it is a game he is playing with her. By herself she couldn't hurt him, but the Oni, the Oni is a demon. It can't know love without knowing pain. Her crush on that brat will make her feel a pain only killing him will stop. The Neko-ken might be physically powerful, but it leaves him wide open emotionally. Very soon the cat will recognize this isn't a game, that Akane-chan is trying to kill him. That betrayal will stab right to his heart, and this little crush will be over.”
Pale faced, Nodoka stood, looking around for some source of water to try and break Ranma from the neko-ken, only to stop as her clothes started to rip. Looking back, Nodoka glared at Happosai standing on the back of her kimono. Briefly debating whether to leave her clothes and the shreds of the dogi behind, mindful of everyone still in the temple grounds. Nodoka looked back to the fight as Ranma and Akane crashed to the ground once more.
Oni-Akane screeched again as she was pinned down by her frustrating opponent, when his tongue licking up her neck and cheek silenced her. Suddenly keenly aware that his paws were pressing down on her barely contained breasts, the emotion of anger and rage that normally dominated the hybrid of woman and demon suddenly found another emotion it did know, lust.
Two legs in long boots wrapped around Neko-Ranma's back, pulling the girl beneath him up to press to his flesh. Her hand grabbed the side of his head roughly by the hair, pulling them together in a harsh and awkward but searing kiss.
Happosai frowned as the fight he had orchestrated suddenly changed, the insanity of the neko-ken barely recognizable as Ranma passionately kissed Akane in public, pinning her bikini clad form to the grass.
“Not in public!” Kasumi cried, finally pulling her head out of the layers of kimono still encasing her upper body.
“Not again my son,” Nodoka lamented of the broken promise as she watched her insane son dry hump his hips into the overly willing demon girl beneath him.
Happosai looked confused to both women then back at the young couple, the demon defying gravity to lift both from the ground and slam Ranma onto his back, still straddling him, still kissing him, but tearing the kimono and undershirt from his body.
“You mean they already have?” Happosai asked quietly as he watched the show, only seeing Nodoka nodding from the corner of his eye.
Ranma-chan sat up confused, looking at Akane in a bikini straddling him, her body shaking as the horns receded into her head, a warding piece of paper on the left cheek of her behind. Taking Akane's hand as she recovered, Ranma looked around confused as to what had happened
Standing beside them, tears in his eyes, Happosai placed his hands on theirs. “You both truly are my heirs. And here I thought you were gay for men. Of course I bless this union.”
Still dazed as to what was going on, the pair watched the old pervert jump away, blowing his nose on paper blessings from the temple. A groan made the pair look at one of the older man still on the grounds clutching his chest and trying to sit down.
Akane's face went bright red and she slapped her hands on Ranma's breasts to cover them. Two more old men started clutching their chests as many of the older women glared.
“Children, perhaps we should go,” Nodoka called, already moving cautiously to wards the gates, trying to hold her rags to not expose herself. Ahead of her the bare legged Kasumi was already leaving red faced.
The topless red head and the girl in the bikini followed in a flash.
Two eyes shone in the dark of a drainage tunnel. Two red eyes that conveyed malice no human knew.
Trudging through the dark, the creature of myth brushed aside a shopping trolley washed into the tunnels with its club. Bemused by rats scattering from its presence, it ignored the indignity of traveling in such filth that only humans could make, crouching slightly as the two black and green horns from its forehead brushing the concrete ceiling with every step.
“I've tracked you twice to this city, oh rarest of flowers. Female oni, next time you appear, you will be my bride!”
To be continued.
AN: Don't worry, I learned my lesson from Kodak Moments. This demon after Oni-Akane won't be in the grand finale but I could hardly let it be a one off