"Let's Try That Again."
-= THE PRESENT =-
Akane was undressing.
Alone in her room, she undid the fastenings of her school uniform and allowed it to fall to the floor around her ankles. Then, stepping out of it, she began unbuttoning her blouse, using her toes at the same time to push down and step out of her loose white socks. Frowning slightly, she finished pulling her arms from her top and dropped it onto the pile of discarded clothing. Clad now only in her brand new bra and panties, she stepped over to the full-length mirror on her wall and looked at herself.
At her body.
A girl's body. A female body.
A fully functioning normal healthy responsive female body.
Quietly, under her breath, she said the only thing she could think of.
"Ranma no baka."
-= THAT FIRST NIGHT =-
Ranma had gone in first. Seeing no one around, he leaned back outside and whispered to his hiding partner, "Okay, it's all clear. Let's go."
A disheveled Akane, wearing a dirty, stretched out, slightly ripped and very wrinkled gi, entered the Tendo home, trying to move quickly without LOOKING like she was trying to move quickly. She had attempted to straighten her hair as much as possible, but it still looked quite rumpled.
The truth was, aside from the gi, she didn't look all that different than she always did after an unusually hard workout. But, like so many people after their first sexual experience, she was certain that somehow it must show on the outside. She was determined to get a bath and change before anyone saw her.
Given the downstairs was deserted right now, the odds of running into someone upstairs seemed likely to increase. That meant the bath would be more safely reachable than her bedroom. Her goal decided upon, she whispered conspiratorially, "Go get me some clothes."
Akane stopped and turned back toward her fiancee. "Go get me some clothes!"
"From my bedroom, silly! Where else?"
"You want me to go into your bedroom?"
"Ranma! I need some clothes to change into after my bath."
"Yeah, but what if someone sees me? What am I gonna tell 'em? 'I'm just gettin' some clothes for Akane? I'm gonna go take 'em to her in the bath now, 'cause she's naked?' Come on, Akane, I can't do that!"
"Then just sneak in the window and grab something, Ranma! I can't go up there looking like this. Just get my pajamas or something. Hurry!" And she started off again, leaving him to deal with his assignment by himself.
-= THE PRESENT =-
Akane turned sideways and gazed at herself in the mirror from that new angle. She arched her back and lifted her chin, examining how she appeared posing in such a manner. Then she turned away from the mirror, looking back over her shoulder to examine this view of herself, also. Finally, she slumped, apparently having seen whatever it was she was looking for.
"I just don't get it," she said.
Moving to her dresser, she opened a drawer and removed a small white tank top. Shaking the folded garment loose, she moved to the mirror once more, holding it up in front of her body. It was only a half-shirt, cut off in the middle to expose her stomach. She knew it was sexy, and she didn't wear it much.
But she had worn it then.
A frown appeared on her face, and she threw the tiny piece of cloth away from her as she went to sit on her bed.
More strongly this time, she repeated her litany.
"Ranma no baka!"
-= THAT NEXT DAY =-
Ranma charged his opponent! Ducking a blow that would have rendered lesser mortals unconscious, he rolled past behind his adversary, spun and sprang upward, hoping to catch his target from behind before she had time to react.
Grabbing Akane's gi by the material on either side of her neck, he yanked her top over and off her shoulders, along her arms and down to her waist, exposing her t-shirt and pinning her hands by her ...
"Ranma! Stop it!"
Startled into immobility, Ranma didn't even try to hold onto her as she stepped forward out of his grasp and began to pull her top back into its proper position. "Really! Can't you think of anything else? You can't just attack me every time we spar now, you know!"
"Well, yeah, but ... you know, you said, 'Next time,' and all ... and ... well ..."
"Well, you don't get to just grab me whenever you want! And you should wear a gi! It's not a fair fight for me if you wear your Chinese clothes! Besides, can't you think of anything more original than that? Try something different! Honestly!"
"Why should I wear a gi?" asked Ranma, totally missing her point.
"Because it puts me at a disadvantage when you try to undress I mean, if you're wearing that, how am I supposed to be able to" She stopped, embarrassed. "I mean, yours don't come off as easy as I mean ..." She stopped again, flustered.
Ranma, unused to conversations like this one, and embarrassed now himself, tried to cover by saying the only thing he could think of.
"Well, gee, Akane, it ain't like you're ever gonna be able to take me, anyway."
And with one sentence, what could have been the beginning of an intimate mood shattered with an almost audible clamor.
"Baka!" yelled Akane. "Hentai! Fine, see if I ever let you touch me again!"
And she stomped out, leaving Ranma standing alone amidst the jagged shards of what had been his newly found self-assurance with women.
-= THE PRESENT =-
She moved to her closet. Opening the door, she reached inside and pulled down one pair of drawstring pants and several gi tops from one of the shelves. Being a martial artist raised in a dojo, she had more than she needed.
Laying them on her bed, she took them one by one in her hands, turning them over, running her fingers lightly over the material, the stitching, comparing them each, examining them for something ... only she knew what. One by one, she laid them each aside to pick up the next.
As she worked, her motions grew stronger, smoother, more deliberate, more sure.
So did her voice.
"Ranma No Baka!"
-= LATER THAT WEEK =-
"What's with you two? You're acting funny."
Ranma and Akane both started at this sudden challenge from Nabiki. Neither did a very good job of covering the blushes which they were suddenly wearing.
... they said in unison.
They looked at each other ... they looked away.
They looked guilty.
Nabiki pounced! "All right, you two ... what's up? I didn't mean anything major by it, but now? There's definitely something going on. What is it?"
... they began together.
"Did something happen between you two?"
"What? With that bak"
"Heck no! Who'd want a kawaiiku"
... they started to reply automatically.
Then, they stopped.
Then, they looked at each other.
Then, they looked away, silent for a moment.
"A-anyway, there's nothin' goin' on," said Ranma finally before walking off.
"Yeah," added Akane sadly before she too left, "nothing."
-= THE PRESENT =-
Akane stood and walked to her mirror, a scowl on her face. She took one last look at herself in her underthings. Then, after a single decisive nod of her head, she stripped the feminine articles off and threw them down among the rest of the items now cluttering her floor.
Naked now, she crossed to her desk. Picking up her gi belt from where it lay atop a book entitled, 101 Useful Knots For Sailors, she walked back to her bed.
Grabbing the pants, she quickly donned them, following with one of the two almost identical tops she had so carefully selected. Working with the comfortable coordinated movement of well-practiced actions, she secured it tightly around her waist with complex and carefully chosen weavings of her belt. It wasn't the traditional way, but this was war!
Wearing nothing under her battle garb, she took her spare top in hand ...
... opened her bedroom window ...
"... No ..."
... and threw it out, upward onto the roof, where she could retrieve it later.
-= YESTERDAY =-
"Gee, what's her problem?" asked Nabiki.
"Is everything okay between the two of you, Ranma-kun?" asked Kasumi.
"W-what do you mean?" replied the nervous young man.
"It's just that I've never seen Akane-chan practicing so much before. And she's been wanting to spar with you almost every day. Is everything okay?"
"Yeah," added Nabiki. "Her mood has been getting worse for days! All she does anymore is work out. And then afterward, all she wants to do is fight. It's starting to get a little creepy. What goes on in those fights of yours, anyway? What'd you do to make her so upset?"
"Nothin'!" replied Ranma, a little too quickly. "I didn't do nothin'! All we do is spar! That's it! Honest!"
"Easy boy," said Nabiki. "We weren't accusing you of anything. We're just worried about Akane."
"That's true, Ranma-kun," added Kasumi. "We know you'd never hurt Akane-chan. But whatever it is she wants from your fights, it seems clear that she's not getting it."
Ranma thought about that for a moment. "I don't want her to be mad," he said, "but ..."
"But what?" asked the older sister.
Ranma bowed his head and said with a sigh, "But I don't know how to act around her all of a sudden. I thought I did, but now I just don't know what she wants ... or what she wants me to do ... and if I guess wrong, I know she's gonna get mad at me again."
"We can't help you, Ranma-kun." said the younger sister. "You're on your own for this one. But whatever's bugging her, you'd better figure it out soon, or that poor girl's going to snap!"
-= THE PRESENT =-
The family was gathered in the living room. From just outside in the hall, the sound came ...
"... *NO* ..."
Akane stomped into the room angrily and glared harshly at each person present before settling her gaze on the object of her outburst.
"Ranma! I have had it with you! Get your gi on right now and meet me in the dojo!"
Five people suddenly tried to be invisible.
Or rather, four. Ranma wasn't sure he had heard her correctly. "My ... gi?"
"Your gi! We're going to try it for real this time!"
The family looked worried. They were all used to Akane's temper, especially recently, but none of them could ever remember a time when Akane had been this worked up.
Ranma's eyes widened slightly. He stole a quick glance at her lapels, or rather, between them. "'Try it for real?'"
"That's right!" she said, glaring at him, ignoring everyone else as if they weren't there. "Unless you don't think you can 'handle' me!"
Ranma began to grin, just ever so slightly. "'Handle' you?"
"*MOVE IT!*" she screamed.
"H-hai!" Ranma tried hard to pretend he was worried, as he got up quickly to leave, making his best effort not to look TOO eager.
After he left the room, Akane turned on her family. "And nobody better bother us, if you know what's good for you!" Then, she stomped out toward the dojo.
As the family began to recover from the violence of the scene, Nabiki finally spoke up, giving voice to what all of them were feeling. "Poor Ranma. I sure don't envy him right now. It sounds like that's going to be one hell of a fight."
-= THE END =-
-= ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS =-
I'd like to thank my normal prereaders, C-kun, St. Zero, Belldandy & Keichi, and other members of the Dallas Sempai gang who helped me work out the story, especially Kestrel, who helped me clarify the timeline. I'd also like to thank Ohmen1 for helping me realize I needed to clarify certain plot and character motivation points better.
Arigatou gozaimasu, mina-san.
Please send me any kind of C&C.