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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Deceiving Appearances

The red head examined her reflection, titling her head to the side. The cut on her cheek was a red blemish on her otherwise perfect pink skin.

“Damn that Kuno, he had to get my face.” She opened the medicine cabinet and found a bottle of flesh toned liquid. Lightly using her fingertips she worked the makeup into her skin until the red gash was barely visible. ‘God I’m even wearing makeup, how pathetic can I get.’

After donning her feminine articles of clothing, Ranma walked down the Tendo hallway toward Akane’s room. ‘I’ll just tell her I went out on another training trip, I doubt she’ll be upset that I didn’t say good bye.’ She thought to herself raising her hand to knock, when without warning the door was flung open and she was yanked into the room by her extended arm.

“What the-?” Ranma swiveled around a bit off balance to find the young girl standing in front of her wearing only a plain, loose fitting, black slip that stopped just above her knees and a pair of tan nylons. She quickly faced the opposite direction blushing. “Akane what are you doing?”

“What am I doing, where have you been?” Akane held her hands on her hips burning holes through the red head’s back.

“Wh-what do you mean? I was here sick all day.” Ranma twiddled her fingers staring downward.

“Come on, don’t lie I thought we were friends.” She spun the girl around to face her. “I saw you with him and I know you weren’t up in your room.”

“…” Ranma stood panicked.

“You should have just told me. I would have understood.” This time it was Akane to turn her back on Ranma, whose eyes were bugging out of her head. ‘She knows!’

“I-I wanted to tell you, but things got so complicated…” Ranma fidgeted frantically unable to move from her spot staring at Akane’s back, like a dear in headlights. “I thought you would think badly of me.”

Ranma finally hung her head in despair. Akane stood unmoving for a few moments before spinning around and crushing the red head in a hug.

“Oh I could never think badly of you! You’re-you’re the BEST friend I ever had.” Ranma was stunned for a moment, but soon returned the taller girl’s embrace.

“Akane…” She whispered, burying her head in the girl’s shoulder and a soft mass of freshly washed hair.

“Ever since you came I finally thought I found someone that understood me and has so much in common.”

“I promise I’ll never keep anything from you again.” The weight on Ranma’s shoulders seemed to lift away as she gently rubbed her face in Akane’s hair, and reluctantly let Akane pull away putting a few inches between their arms still around each other.

“OK now spill it, where did you two meet?” Ranma’s brow furrowed with confusion.

“Where did we meet?”

“You and Ryoga.” Akane slipped away from the petite girl and plopped down on the bed, Ranma slowly following her down.

“Oh, um, we met in Jr. High.”

“Really, wow you must have been dating for awhile now.”


“Oh sorry, I guess you could have been friends first. Wait, have you even gotten to date yet since he hasn’t beat Ranma yet?”

‘Woe, woe, woe!’ Ranma’s mind shouted trying to catch up with the girl across from her still dressed in only her black slip. ‘I don’t know what she is talking about, but she definitely doesn’t know about my curse.’

“Ryoga definitely hasn’t beat Ranma, he takes that kind of thing seriously.” ‘Stick to the stuff you know.’ She thought to herself fidgeting between words. “Sooo, what did you think about my bro?” Ranma asked tentatively.

“I don’t know, he was all right, when he wasn’t being a sexist jerk. He’s good, I’ll give him that, but I don’t need him fighting my battles for me. How can he say that the only reason I ever win is because I’m a girl? You don’t agree do you?”

“Uhh well, you know a lot of guys hold back when they fight a girl.” Ranma said a little nervously.

“Doesn’t that infuriate you? Do you want them to think you are some china doll that’ll break at the slightest touch?” Akane said getting closer and closer to the red head.

“No way!” Ranma shouted getting into it, then cocked her head at her own response. “Maybe he just didn’t want to hurt you.”

Akane was stunned for a moment and walked to her mirror examining her own thoughtful expression. “I won’t break.” She said softly.

“Did you find Ryoga?” Akane fidgeted with her hair trying to decide which style she preferred.

“No, he gets lost, a lot.” Ranma folded her legs in front of her.

“Have you talked to Ranma?” Akane turned her eyes from the mirror to the young girl on her bed.

“Ah, not really.”

“So you didn’t hear about the fight?!” Akane jumped unto the bed in front of Ranma.

“Between Ranma and Ryoga?” Akane nodded excitedly. “I guess not.”

Akane went on to describe the fight blow by blow. Ranma was surprised by Akane’s description of the fight her male self had just hours before. She was obviously impressed by his skill, describing him in a good light throughout the whole fight, except where she thought he was being sexist. Ranma felt her immense ego return as Akane’s story continued and the gleam in her eyes shown. Subconsciously, Ranma had stopped listening to Akane’s critical analysis of Ranma’s style of Anything-Goes and just smiled listening to her speak, watching her lips move from words to smile to various expressions.

“Ranko, are you even listening to me?”

“Sure, I was just thinking I’ve never met a girl like you before. I mean a girl that is so into martial arts.”

“You mean except for you?”

“Yeah, right.”

“Same here.” Akane sprung from the bed and headed over to the mirror again. “Not to be too girly, but what do you think of my hair like this?”

Akane held her hair up in a twist letting her bangs frame around her face. “It looks nice, I like your hair back.” Inwardly Ranma had to laugh at herself, considering how that statement might have sounded from a guy. ‘Definitely not manly.’

“I used to have short hair, I think it suited me better.”

“Then why did you grow it?”

“I dunno.” She dropped her hair, but kept her eyes on her reflection. “I guess I thought it would make me look older, more feminine, more like…Kasumi.”

“Huh?” Ranma asked puzzled.

“Dr. Tofu has had a crush on Kasumi for as long as I can remember.” Akane said with little emotion.

“Oh…sorry.” Ranma’s voice dropped.

“Don’t worry about it, I don’t. I think it is kind of silly now, trying to be someone I’m not. I mean if someone is going to love you they have to see who you really are sometime, right?”

“Right.” Ranma slumped down even further.

“Hey?” Akane was suddenly in front of Ranma looking at her face closely. Ranma became frantic fearing that she noticed the mark on her face. “Are you wearing makeup?”

“Huh? Just a little.” Her face flushed with mixture of embarrassment and shame.

“Are you planning on skipping dinner and going out with Ryoga?” Akane smiled down at her and Ranma’s first instinct was to violently reply no but she was left stuttering. “I can cover for you, I’ll tell them you’re not feeling well.”

“Th-thanks Akane.” ‘I think.’

“Don’t have too much fun.” Akane giggled as Ranma burst from the room down the hall. Ranma quickly changed into her black pants and the black shirt with the gold ties that Genma had given her earlier. Embroidered on the shirt, also in gold, was a dragon. The head rested on her chest while the rest of the body stretched around her torso to the back. Stealthily she slipped out of her window and into the empty bathroom below. After splashing himself with hot water he emerged from the bathroom into the hall as if he had just finished his bath. ‘Well since she doesn’t totally hate me this way, it will be nice to spend some time as a guy for a while.’

Ranma proceeded to walk down the hall from the top of the stairs toward the guestroom. A dark blue blur flew past him spinning him around on his heel just as he reached the door.

“Um what are you doing?” Regaining his balance Ranma looked down at the feminine figure before him. Akane stood before him again in the radiant blue dress looking up at him smiling awkwardly.


“Um ready to go?”

“I-I guess.” They started to walk away when a devilish plan popped into Ranma’s head. “I just wanted to say hi to Ranko.”

Ranma swirled around, but Akane was already in front of the door. “Oh no, Ranko is resting. She stayed home from school today.”

“Well, I’ll be quick then.” He tried to place his hand on the door, but Akane moved into his way.

“She’s sleeping right now.”

“I don’t think she’ll mind, we haven’t seen each other for awhile.”

“She was really sick, you don’t want her to get worse do you?” Ranma shook his head stifling back a smirk. “Let’s go to dinner then you can see her when we get back.”

They both turned and started toward the stairs. Before they could make it to the top stair Ranma whipped around heading for the door a smile plastered on his face. “Really I’ll just be a second.”

‘Damn!’ Akane flew towards him throwing herself at him hoping to pull it of as an accident. At the last second Ranma pivoted and caught her before she could tackle him to the floor. ‘Not that it wouldn’t have been fun, but if she crinkled her dress I’d be here for the next century waiting for her to change. Girls!’ Ranma thought.

“Are you ok?” Akane looked up from his chest to see Ranma’s confused face starring down at her. Things had not gone as she had expected.

“Yes, I…I think I hurt my ankle this morning, that’s all.”

“Oh, well then I better carry you.” Ranma swiftly lifted her off her feet and into his arms. Akane was a little flustered and didn’t notice that they were suddenly standing in the foyer facing the living/dining area of the house with the rest of the inhabitants watching them.

“Well already carry her over the threshold.” Nabiki said raising an eyebrow. Akane jumped from his arms putting a good three feet between them.

“Fast recovery.” Ranma said still a little red from his embarrassment.

“I heal quickly.” She smiled weakly at him also shinning with a bright pink glow.

The entire family was soon on their way to the restaurant after some minor blubbering from Soun and Genma as to what a nice couple Ranma and Akane made. The two were forced together most of the night, but once they started to eat the mood seemed to lighten. Ranma described some the travels they made across Japan and China while training, throwing in bits about Ranko on the way just for show. Much to his delight Akane hung on his every word especially when he described some of the techniques he learned.

“Well aren’t you the lucky one Akane.” Nabiki said removing her shoes looking slyly at her younger sister out of the corner of her eye.

“What?! W-what are you talking about?”

“Oh come on Akane you were practically drooling at dinner and it wasn’t from the fine French cuisine.” Akane’s eyes bugged out as she shifted her body to see the rest of the family slowly walking up the stone path to the front door. Kasumi was helping her slightly inebriated father while Ranma dragged his father behind him by the collar. Akane quickly closed the front door and shot her sister a scolding look.

“I was NOT!”

“Really Akane I understand, he’s cute, in incredible shape, sure he is a little rough around the edges, but that just makes him a better match for you.”

“How can you say that we just met?”

“And before it was ‘I don’t even know him.’ Really Akane you are going to run out of excuses soon.” Akane was left gawking after her sister when the door behind her was wrenched open and an overweight martial artist was thrown past her.

“Sober up yah lush! Oh, sorry Akane.” Ranma gave her an awkward smile then walked past her to his father’s prone form.

‘I was definitely not drooling.’

Throwing his father over his shoulder Ranma trudged upstairs dropping him onto one of the mats in the guest room they shared. The old man grumbled drunkenly rolling over onto his stomach.

“Some parent you turned out to be.” Ranma huffed. However, his annoyance was short lived as he felt another presence in the room with him. His eyes fell upon the shadows in the corner of the room. Keeping his eyes locked on the darkness not seeing, but knowing the interloper’s position. In a second the darkness seemed to take form lunging at Ranma tackling him around the waist sending them both crashing out the still open door into the hall where they rolled around somehow making it into Akane’s room and out the window into the moist night air.

Akane’s view of the stars above was quickly obscured by two boys flying overhead. Trying to shield herself from the glass she ducked her head and covered herself with her arms. Looking back over his shoulder, Ranma notice that their trajectory was taking them straight into the koi pond right in front of Akane’s eyes. Exuding an incredible amount of skill he twisted them both in the air causing Ryoga to take the brunt of the fall just beside the pond, Ranma landed on him his knee slamming into his stomach.

“So we are at it again eh Ryoga, you never even told me what you are so mad about.” Ranma stood up looking down at the boy before him feeling the sting of daggers being bored into him. Ryoga pulled himself up continuing to give Ranma his fierce glare when he spotted Akane on the steps leading to the house. ‘That same sweet girl, so the bastard took her as his prize already.’

“Ranma, because of you I can never be a whole man.” Ryoga started throwing punches and kicks that Ranma weaved around.

“Huh?” A crash of thunder stopped Ranma’s investigation from going any further. “Look man you can’t attack me here this ain’t my place, I’m a guest here.”

“Stop trying to distract me!” Ryoga sent a kick toward Ranma’s torso that he used to vault over Ryoga’s head to land easily atop the stone wall surrounding the yard.

“Let’s take this to somewhere we’ll cause less damage.” With that Ranma leapt down to the street sprinting away from the house.

“Running away again. Ranma!” Ryoga was over the wall and in close pursuit.

Akane sat stunned dusting the glass from her hair. “Wow, th-they’re incredible.”

“Very virile aren’t they.” Akane turned to see Nabiki in her pajamas standing behind her with a glass of water in her hand. “Still Akane, do you think you can ask your future husband to limit these things to during the daylight hours.”

“Don’t call him that!” Akane yelled to Nabiki’s back as she walked out the doorway into the hall. Lightening flashed through the sky lighting up the night. “They are going to get soaked.”


Deflecting Ryoga’s fist with his forearm Ranma looked up into the sky smelling the scent of the coming rain fill the air all around them. Snapping back to the fight he thrust his leg at Ryoga’s chest, but met only his umbrella.

“Look Ryoga, if this is about that whole bread thing, I’ll buy yah all the bread you want. Let’s just get in before it rains.”

“This goes a lot further than some measly bread. This is about you ruining my life!” A second before the downpour started he flipped open his umbrella and shielded himself. Before his eyes he watched Ranma transform into a smaller, bustier version of himself with flaming red hair.

“And how did I do that?” The young girl said folding her arms over her chest. “The last I remember is me waiting three days for you to show up to our fight, then Pop dragged me off again.”

“Right and when I showed up for the fourth day you had turned tail and ran.”

“Hey man, why the heck were you four days late?!”

“I certainly wasn’t on vacation! I searched all over Japan for that cursed lot and when I saw that you left I followed to finish our fight. It seemed like I was following you for ages, I even made it all the way to China, and that’s, and that’s when my life as a man ended!”

“Oh Ryoga,” she said stunned, lowering her stance “you don’t mean that you change…”

“Shut up and fight!” He said throwing himself at her. Ranma brought her leg up to send him flying inadvertently knocking his umbrella from his hand. Ryoga felt the cool droplets hit his forehead and wasted no time whipping his backpack off and roughly slamming it into Ranma’s face. When she recovered he was gone, his pack and umbrella was all that remained. Her suspicions were confirmed when she found his clothes in a pile around the corner.

She made it back to the dojo with all his things using the rooftop to avoid being seen in ‘Ranma’s’ clothes. She swung in through the guestroom’s window depositing Ryoga’s things and changed into her more feminine red Chinese outfit. Heading back out into the rain and the roof she made her way to the front of the house and dropped down to the front door. ‘Ok first Ranko returns home then when she is in bed Ranma will return with an umbrella.’

Casually she walked in through the front door removing her shoes at the door and shaking the rain from her clothes.

“Ranma?!” Akane came bursting into the front hall looking slightly disappointed to see Ranko instead of her brother. “Oh Ranko its you, shouldn’t you have snuck in so nobody saw you?”

“Haha, never thought of that.” Ranma said placing her hand behind her head in embarrassment. “Hey Akane where’d you get the weird little pig?”

Akane looked down remembering the cute little bundle in her arms. “Oh I found him wondering around the backyard, I think he’s lost. Isn’t he cute, I’m gonna call him P-chan.”

She emphasized her point by smothering the animal against her bosom while it blushed furiously.

“Perverted little pig. I’m gonna go take a bath then I’m gonna head off to bed, see you in the morning.”

“Can you take him with you?” The pig sneezed pitifully.

“Yeah I guess. Come on pig.” The animal squirmed and squealed in her hands as she made her way down the hall to the Tendos bathroom. “Look this isn’t fun for me either pig, I prefer to bathe alone.”

Tossing her clothes into the hamper she restrained the pig and brought it over to the furo and they both submerged inside. The water level quickly rose as the two boys emerged from the water staring at each other.

“R-a-n-m-a.” Ryoga said in a low growl.

“Ryoga…you…the pig.” Ryoga’s only response was to throw his hands around Ranma’s throat and start choking him.

“You did THIS to me!”

“Ranko I thought you’d be warmer in a pair of pajamas instead of those boxers…” Both boys looked with surprise to find Akane standing in her pajamas at the bathroom door. They both turned a bright crimson and sank low into the water. Akane turned her back on them immediately, her cheeks flushing a rosy red.

“I-I thought Ranko was taking her bath with P-chan.”

“She, uh just left.” Ranma stuttered.

“Funny, I didn’t pass her in the hall or the stairs.” Akane turned her head to see them out of the corner of her eye.

“Oh well she said something about getting a glass of water.” Ryoga added and Ranma nodded.

“I’m sorry, I’ll leave you to…your bath.” She closed the door behind her and quickly left the changing room still feeling the burning sensation in her cheeks.

“Man we gotta get outta here and upstairs right away.” Ryoga agreed without a word and both were out of the tub splashing themselves with cold water. Ranma threw on a pair of boxers and a t-shirt then scurried out the bathroom window with P-chan under one arm. Trying her best not to get wet she made it to the guest room and toweled off.

“Ha made it.” The pig squealed its agreement and they both exited the room into the hall coming face to face with Kasumi.

“Feeling better, Ranko?”

“Oh yes.” She closed the door behind her guarding it from entry with her body.

“Is Ranma already in bed.”

“Yup sure is, fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, better not to disturb him.”

“Good then you’ll be staying in Akane’s room.”

“Huh?” The little pigs eyes bugged out of his head.

“Well the guest room isn’t big to start with, three would definitely be uncomfortable. Plus you and Ranma are too old to be sleeping in the same room.”

“I-I guess…”

“So since you are a girl you can stay with Akane. I already put a sleeping roll in there for you. Have a good night.” She smiled sweetly as she walked off to her own room.

Ranma’s shoulders slump forward as she walked down the hall toward the room with the carved wooden duck hanging on the door. Again the pig squirmed and squealed in her arms. “Look I ain’t happy about this either so settle down.”

“Come on in Ranko.” Ranma poked her head inside the room and found Akane straightening the blanket covering a mat beside her bed on the floor.

“Don’t worry about knocking, this is your room too while Ranma is here.”

“Hehe yeah.” Ranma scratched the back of her head and Ryoga took the opportunity to jump from her arm and bound over to Akane.

“P-chan! Are you all nice and clean baby?” Akane said in a baby voice while Ranma watched in disgust.

“We better get some sleep huh Akane?”

“Oh yeah, come on P-chan you can sleep with me.”

“What!” Ryoga’s eyes doubled in size as Akane climbed into bed hugging him to her chest. ‘Why that little-’ Ranma never took his eyes off the little black pig as she lay down on the mat getting underneath the blankets.

“Night Ranko pleasant dreams.” Akane leaned over and turned off her desk lamp. After a few minutes Akane stopped moving in her bed her breathing slow and steady. Ranma climbed out of bed and glanced down at the gleeful looking pig.

“You dirty pig Ryoga.” She whispered. The pig’s eyes snapped open and immediately clamped down on her hand with his teeth. Ranma growled in response pulling against Akane’s grip. Akane surprised her by pulling back and taking Ranma down onto the bed with her.

“Hm Ranko?” Her eyes slowly fluttered open her voice soft and sleepy. Ranma and Ryoga froze with shock.

“Were you cold?” Ranma nodded mutely.

“You can slip under the covers with me if you like.” Akane pulled back the blankets revealing her pajama-clad body underneath. Shaking slightly Ranma climbed into Akane’s bed beside her their bodies almost touching. Ryoga squealed in disapproval so Akane released him from her chest and set him down above her head on the pillow.

“Don’t want you to get squished sweetie.” Ranma smirked up at the pig while its eyes filled up with tears of disbelief. “It’s not a very big bed you may get a bit cramped, but you’ll stay nice and warm.”

Akane’s smile was so warm and sweet Ranma no longer felt uncomfortable, feeling the heaviness of her eyelids she slowly melted into sleep the events of the day finally taking their toll.

Akane soon followed while Ryoga sat watching over the two until he too succumbed to his own weariness.



“Ranko its time to get up we have to get ready for school.”

“Mmm, just a few more minutes Akane.” Ranma said wearily hugging herself against her pillow, which made a soft giggle. Breathing in deeply the light smell of flowers and soap filled her nostrils, for some reason she couldn’t describe this aroma made the muscles in her stomach tense reflexively. Apprehensively she slowly opened her eyes, all she saw were bed sheets slowly rising and falling. She raised her head to find Akane’s smiling face next to her own. The pillow she thought she was holding was actually Akane’s waist her head buried in her shoulder.

“Ah jeez-sorry.” Ranma scurried away from Akane off the edge of the bed in a tangle of sheets. Akane just giggled looking down at her on the floor. Ranma forced a weak smile.

“What’s the matter did you think I was going to hit you or something?”

“Haha, no of course not. W-we’re both girls right. I was wondering why my pillow started laughing.”

Akane giggled and stepped over Ranma on her way over to her dresser taking out some new undergarments another school uniform hanging on the back of the closet door.

“Did you bring clothes with you to change for school?”

“Oh, no-” She rose to leave at the sight of Akane reaching for the bottom of her pajama top, but was stopped by a projectile pig slamming into her face knocking her to the ground. Ranma cursed as she struggled with the berserker pig.

“P-chan, boy are you grouchy in the morning.” Akane giggled as she held him by the back of his bandana. She smothered the pig in a hug crushing him in her breasts. “Be a good boy.”

Ranma felt a little light headed looking up at Akane only wearing her white bra and panties. Ryoga’s nose nearly exploded with blood and Ranma grabbed him when Akane squealed in surprise.

“I’ll make sure he’s ok.” Ranma bolted out the door closing it behind her. “Jeez, you are pathetic man. I would have been out of there if you hadn’t stopped me.”

The pig snorted in response as Ranma placed him down in her room as she started to change into a new set of clothes. Walking downstairs to the bathroom the girl dropped the pig into the bath and watched as a full-grown boy emerged displacing the water around him.

“Yeah right Ranma, you were loving every minute of it. Making that poor innocent girl believe you’re a real girl to get into her bed.”

“Look who’s talking P-chan!” Ranma gritted her teeth glaring at Ryoga.

“Ranko are you in here giving P-chan a bath AGAIN?” Akane, now dressed in her school uniform, stopped when she saw the girl and boy in the bathing area. Ranma quickly zipped around behind Ryoga and started to lather up his back. “Oh sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt.”

“No problem Akane.” Both of them said with wide smiles on their faces and sweat drops on their brows. Akane left them alone a bright red blush across her face. ‘I definitely have to start knocking, you never know what is going to be happening in the bath now a days.’ The two sighed heavily, then continued to glare at each other.

“Ok Ryoga, we’re agreed neither of us would be very happy if Akane found out about our secret.”

“She’d hate us for sure.” Ryoga agreed his heart trembling at the thought. “But I’m not you’re damn boyfriend you pervert.”

“Oh Ryoga, you’re breakin’ my heart.” Ranma said with mock sweetness, batting her eyes.

“Cut it out Saotome, you’re given me the creeps.” Ryoga got up out of the furo and started to get dressed. “I still plan on killing you, yah know.”

“Of course.” Ranma said, absently straightening out her shirt.

Ranma left Ryoga to wonder around in the bathroom and joined Akane and the rest of her family at breakfast. Akane kept her eyes glued on her food pushing the rice around her bowl, her cheeks still holding the rosy glow of embarrassment.

“Well I think we better get to school don’t you Ranko?” Akane quickly rose from the table and yanked Ranma by her pigtail out the door.

“But I’m not done my breakfast.” The red head protested, chopsticks still in her mouth. Abruptly, Akane stopped around the corner from the dojo. “What gives Akane, we still had ten minutes before we had to leave.”

“I had no idea you and Ryoga were so close. You made it sound like you were only friends.” Akane stared at the shorter girl her arms on her hips waiting for a response.

“What the bathroom, that was nothing.” Ranma shrugged the incident off and started to walk toward school at a relaxed pace, Akane following.

“That was NOTHING? I tell you I certainly couldn’t do something like that with a boy and call it nothing.”

“We’ve known each other for a long time it’s really no big deal.” She shrugged her shoulders holding her hands behind the back of her head. Akane walked beside her friend marveling at her nonchalant attitude. From around the corner a small black piglet walked by them grumbling. Akane squealed in delight and picked the pig up cuddling him in her arms. Ranma stared at the pig in loathing.

Akane carried P-chan around with her all day and let her friends play with him during lunch. Each of the girls smothered the pig with affection, giggling happily while Ranma watched disgusted.

“So Ranko, tell us about this boyfriend Akane’s been telling us about.”

“Huh? Oh, Ryoga.”

“He looks so strong and cute.” One of Akane’s friends commented.

“Ah yeah, I guess.”

“Oh he looks like such a sweetie.” Another girl said and all the girls started to giggle.

“Sweetie, ha!” All of them turned at Ranma’s outburst as she stared daggers at the pig cuddled happily between Akane’s breasts. “He’s a pig.”

“Really?” All the girls listened intently.

“Ahh, he never remembers my birthday.” She started lamely, trying to remember all the mushy stuff the girls talked about while she tried to look like she was paying attention. “He never gives me flowers, only ever takes me to movies that he wants to see, and, and…”

She racked her brain while all the girls leaned toward her dying in anticipation. “And?”

“And, he’s very forceful when it comes to, um, romantic issues.” All the girls gasped including Akane, and the little pig growled from his place in her arms.

“You don’t mean he forces himself on you?” The first girl asked shocked and Ranma nodded solemnly, smirking happily on the inside. ‘That’ll teach yah pig.’


“The nerve!” The girls traded angry retorts about the boy while Akane sat flabbergasted.

“Gee and he seemed so nice the other day…when he wasn’t try to beat up Ranma.” Akane said. At that the pig burst from her arms and smacked into Ranma’s face knocking her back then ran off Ranma followed cursing at the pig loosing it behind one of the hedges. The school bell rang signaling the end of lunch, but Ranma refused to give up the pursuit heading toward the athletic field. As she rounded the athletic shed an arm shot out from the door and she was pulled in, nose to nose with a very wet, very human, and very pissed Ryoga. After a quick dose of hot water, Ranma’s manhood was also restored.

“What’s up pork butt?”

“Ranma you bastard. Sabotaging any chance with Akane like that. I’ll kill you.”

“Hey man, as long as I’m around you ain’t got no chance with her.”

“That’s what you think!” Ryoga yelled clenching his hands around Ranma’s throat and sending them both crashing through the wall of the shed.

Loud shouts could be heard from outside the window of the third story classroom. Several students were drawn to the window to view the sight below. “Hey Akane, isn’t that your fiancé?”

“Ranma?” Akane had been sitting at her desk wondering where Ranko had run off with her pet P-chan. She rushed to the window to see that it was in fact her fiancé fighting with the boy she met only yesterday. “Fighting again?”

Akane bolted from the room various students following her out to the athletic field to watch the two martial artists that seemed so evenly matched. Ranma and Ryoga traded blow for blow neither seeming to give or gain any ground. Ranma smiled to himself inwardly, Ryoga at least deserved a fighting chance even after all the trouble had caused.

“What are you smirking at?!” Ryoga coming close to grabbing Ranma’s neck in his vise grip only to meet air as Ranma effortlessly dodged out of the way.

From behind the chain link fence Akane watched the two fight, her hands desperately clutching the metal wires between her fingers turning her knuckles white.

Ryoga sent his umbrella hurtling toward Ranma like a buzz saw slicing up the ground between them. Swiftly moving to the side, Ranma avoided the umbrella and deflected the kick that was meant for his head with his forearm.

“Trying to distract me, Ryoga?” The lost boy looked stunned for the moment and felt a blow to his chest that sent him flying a few yards away from Ranma who stood with his arm still extended, palm out. ‘Wow, I didn’t even see him move.’ Akane thought anxiously fidgeting from the sidelines.

Ryoga rolled up onto his elbow wiping a bit of blood from the corner of his mouth with his other hand. Jumping up, he ran and grabbed his umbrella and bolted toward the fence hoping to gain some advantage over Ranma in the chase. Ranma followed and both took flight over the fence and over Akane’s head. She followed them with her eyes up and over, turning her back on the fence to watch their decent a few feet from where she stood. Exchanging a few more blows they made their way off school grounds. Akane stayed pressed against the fence for a few moments as if a great force held her there. Never in her life had she seen such great martial artists. She smiled to herself then ran off to follow them and the trail of destruction they left in their wake.

She finally found them in the middle of the Nerima Zoo. Ryoga was staggering to his feet Ranma leg still extended in the kick.

“Have yah had enough, Ryoga?” Ranma said crossing his arms over his chest. Breathing heavily, Ryoga just grunted in reply and lunged at Ranma’s midsection. Ranma twisted out of the way using Ryoga’s forward momentum to send him crashing through a stonewall then pulled him out again slamming his body to the ground finally sending him into unconsciousness. Breathing heavily himself, Ranma stared down at his rival with a less then pleased expression.

“Jeez Ryoga, why do we have to come to this. Come on.” Ranma dragged the boy to his feet, slung one of Ryoga’s arms over his shoulder and gabbed hold around his waist and dragged him off into the distance.

Akane stayed where she was leaving the two boys to there own devices then walked off in an opposite direction with no desire to return to school.

After dropping Ryoga off at Dr. Tofu’s and making sure he would be ok, Ranma started his walk back to the Tendo Dojo. ‘Should have known that Ryoga’s thick head would be just fine.’ Turning the corner, he jumped up onto the fence above the drainage canal feeling a little down from the afternoon’s events. ‘Back to life as a girl.’ A pang of regret hit him straight in his heart, he solemnly kept his eyes on his shoes as they maintained his balance on the fence below.

“You, that fight, it was great.” A familiar female voice called out to him. He smiled before turning ‘Akane.’ He pivoted on the fence crouching down to look at her, but the person he was looking at was not the fiancée he was expecting.

“Oh, sorry Miss, I thought you were someone else.” He straightened and the girl before him giggled.

“Who DID you think it was?” She said a bright smile on her face, an unmistakable smile.

“Akane? Is that you?” He jumped down next to her to get a closer look. The laugh and the smile were hers, but the features of her face seemed enhanced by the short hair that framed it. Her face had matured and somehow he felt like a child standing in her light.

“It’s different, huh? So what do you think, is it ok?” She smiled less broadly as if she held a secret.

“Uh-ah.” Ranma nodded his head numbly. “Its cute, I mean you’re cute, that is in a macho tomboy sort of way.”

He found himself sweating profusely while he stuttered before her. The same enigmatic smile returned.

“I’ll let that go just this once.” She said tapping him on the nose with her finger and giving him a stern look.

“So why the new look?” Ranma cringed as his voice rose a little higher than he had intended.

“I guess I just needed a change and it seemed like the perfect time.” She smiled wistfully walking on ahead of him. “You’re leaving now aren’t you?”

Her voice seemed to cloud over and Ranma became slightly nervous. “Um, yeah. I have to get back to training, but I’ll be back to visit soon.” He held a hand behind his head a goofy smile on his face.

“I mean, I’ll only be training in the mountains near here so I’ll never be too far.”

“So when do you start off?”

“Soon.” Ranma said turning away. “But I can at least walk you home.”

“And say goodbye to Ranko.”


Ranma waved goodbye to the Tendos as he made his way outside the gate. Kasumi had been nice enough to give him a care package for the road, of course Akane had added some homemade cookies. Having experience with the toxic waste Akane called cooking Ranma conveniently dropped them in the drainage canal. Soun had cried at his departure and even Nabiki seemed unhappy to see him leaving. She probably loss some money not having anymore fights to bet on.

He hopped up on the fence, wandering around town so it wouldn’t be too suspicious when he came back. He had to thank Ryoga, as gross as it was, saying he was out on a date with Ryoga was perfect. He smiled when he thought back to Akane’s reaction to his leaving, she seemed angry at ‘Ranko’ for not being there to say goodbye to her brother. It was hard to decide which way he liked her better as a friend or as a girl to his male side.

It was nice both ways, just different. Although she was more confusing now then she had been as just a friend.

Having made his rounds Ranma leapt into his bedroom window. Throwing his pack into the back of his closet Ranma pulled out a thermos of water long since grown cold and poured it over his head. After a quick change of clothes she jumped out of her window, and a walk round to the back door where the family was cleaning up after dinner.

“Oh Ranko, I’ve kept some dinner on the stove for you.”

“Thanks Kasumi.”

“Where have you been?” Akane demanded.

“Yeah you missed Ranma’s mushy departure. Akane was almost in tears.” Nabiki chided.

“I was not!” Akane’s face flushed slightly.

“Yup, I think she’s in love.” Nabiki continued and Ranma looked at Akane with a wide-eyed innocence.

“I am NOT!” Akane turned and started toward the stairs. “He’s…all right.”

Once Akane was out of the room Nabiki turned to Ranma a smirk on her face. “It must be love, Akane, the self proclaimed manhater, admitting that some man is ‘all right.’ But let’s discuss this boyfriend and brother of yours further.”

“Well, ah…” Nabiki through her arm around the smaller girl’s shoulder as she stuttered incoherently.

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