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A Ranma ½ story
by Adrian D. Moten

Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. No disrespect intended by this simple fanfic.


Chapter 1: Be Careful What You Ask For…


Fingers of sunlight tickled Ranma's eyelids as he slumbered. He grumbled as his consciousness stirred, then the rest of his being activated in almost domino fashion. Automatically, one eye cracked open.

Immediately, he regretted doing so. It felt as if a thousand bees lanced his brain repeatedly with Amaguriken speed. He shuddered in violent agony, slamming the offending eye shut. His head throbbed for a moment more before fading, however the pain didn't disappear completely.

He felt something move in his arms, snuggling against his chest warmly and sighing softly. It definitely sounded female, but he was not very willing to open his eyes again and suffer the wrath of the sun god. So, in Ranma's mind, identifying whoever the person was through his other senses was the safest thing he could do with the least amount of pain inflicted on him. Or at least in theory. Hoping that it wasn't Shampoo (that incident caused far too much trouble for him at the time, and he rather not have a repeat of it), he used his fingers of one hand to feel out the unknown interloper.

It was very much female to his surprise and horror. The good thing was, he did not feel an odango hairstyle, so Shampoo was definitely out. The hair did not feel very long, either, which removed a number of other girls, including Kodachi. Sneaking into his bedroom in the middle of the night might not be above her, although she had not done so to his knowledge. Ukyo would not do such a thing either, or at least he hoped she wouldn't. That would be… weird, for reasons which he could not think of at the moment because his head felt like it was splitting down the middle.

His hand sent more information to his sluggish brain for processing. Hair was definitely cut short. 'Bobbed' was the word, he thought to himself. Akane? The thought melted away when it came up. She was still mad at him, and all because of Nabiki. He would have to exact revenge on the brunette. The conversation he'd heard the other day revealed that she was playing him for a sap all last week. Maybe pretending he had fallen in love with her lock, stock, and barrel would be good enough. That would make her think twice before toying with Ranma Saotome again.

The hand was sending up way too much data for him to process at this rate, so he mentally told it to return back to wherever it had left from. There was a very pleasurable moan, almost a purring sound, coming from the female, probably invoked by where the hand relocated itself, but it was placed in the waiting line of his mind. Examining and filing away the information, he was proved right that it was not Akane; this person's hair was cut all wrong to be her bob. It was snipped angularly from the back to her collarbone. Plus her breasts felt bigger, judging from the way they were pressed against his body. Also, the stranger's body, while lean and toned, was not very muscular. Even her derrière was softer, more rounded out. Whoever this person was, she was definitely no martial artist.

She was also naked.

…so was he.

It took well over ten seconds for the implications to finally register. The mental klaxons blared like banshees, which made his head hurt even more, but one thing was certain. The situation was bad, with an overwhelming, guaranteed potential to worsen.

There was no other choice. He had to open his eyes. Very cautiously, he pried them open little by little, tilting his head down and away from any source of light. His head throbbed with those accursed bees attempting to turn his brain into Swiss cheese, but he forced himself to bear the pain in order to know just what was going on.

A bleary pair of eyes greeted Ranma. Blinking a little, he pulled back, examining the owner of those eyes. If he weren't so out of it, there would have been instant calamity right then and them. Instead, he simply said, "Hey, Nabiki."

"Hey yourself, Ranma," a groggy Nabiki mumbled.

Silence ensued. The two blinked dumbly at the other. Apparently, Nabiki's brain was just as sluggish as his was.

Obviously, hers recovered much more quickly than his, judging from the way her eyes grew wide like headlights. Suddenly, she screamed at the top of her lungs. Ranma's migraine intensified significantly at the sonic assault, so much that his vision seemed to shift and displace itself.

"What the hell are you doing in my bed?!" she cried out, pushing the surprised young man away as hard as she could.

Already off-balance from Nabiki's scream, Ranma found himself tumbling to the floor violently. He bounced off the matted floor, rolled head over heels twice, and landed against the wall upside-down on his shoulders with his legs dangling just above his head. He moaned, feeling very nauseous. His brains were making a very good attempt to crack his skull open and run free around the room. "I wish you hadn't done that…." he mumbled, wincing.

Nabiki mentally pulled up short, seeing his state of undress, then quickly checked her own body. "Oh, no… It didn't… It couldn't have…." she breathed. Frantically, she hopped out of her bed and flung back the covers. She sharply sucked in her breath, her eyes popping wide open as she stared at her bedcover.

Nearly in the center of the sheets was an irregular, burgundy splotch, somewhat smeared about on the ivory fabric. A glittering nearby caught her eye and she quickly switched her attention to its source. It was coming from a small diamond, refracting light in a spray of several colors. The precious gem was mounted in a setting of a golden ring adorning the ring finger of her left hand.

All color drained from Nabiki's face then. After spending several moments blinking at the unchanging scene, she sank down to her knees, muttering "It's all a dream" over and over. A tear quietly slid down along the side of her nose, then trail down the crease her mouth had formed as she chanted her flat, lifeless mantra.

Meanwhile, Ranma had righted himself and found a pair of white pants haplessly tossed into one corner of the room. Slowly, but surely, his brain began to make sense out of a lot of things, once he was able to battle the grating migraine into a sort of stand-off. First thing he noticed was that he was in Nabiki's room. Second thing he noticed, in addition to the discovery of the white pants, which he was putting on at the moment, was that there were other articles of clothing strung about like a hurricane had flung them around the room. An ivory tuxedo coat with a red smudge along the collar over here, a wedding dress with a broken zipper over there, a garter belt hanging on the doorknob, a pair of yellow-and-blue boxer shorts practically clawed off at the waistband lying alongside a pair of lacy white panties, shoes… and the faint scent of sake.

His mind froze in place. "No way… We didn't… How—"

A knock on the door slapped down most of his rising denials. "Son, are you two finally awake?"

Another woman's voice. It certainly wasn't Kasumi's. Why would she call him "son" anyway? Curious, though leery of any more surprises, he approached the door like it was a fierce opponent, and cautiously opened it just wide enough to see the person on the other side.

Standing there was an older woman, looking to be in her early thirties. She wore a blue kimono with her auburn hair pulled up into a bun. Her blue eyes twinkled a bit as she smiled at Ranma exuberantly. "Son, I take it you and Nabiki-chan are ready for lunch now?"

He blinked. "Nabiki-chan? Lunch? Son?" Cocking his head to one side, the door swung open further as he more said than asked, "Mom?"

She nodded, smiling. "Yes, son?"

For a minute, Ranma just stood there gaping at his mother. His mind was completely devoid of any thought; better to be empty-headed than to scream about losing one's sanity. Then he allowed one thought to permeate his consciousness, and he promptly voiced it. "Uh… Does this mean… you know?"

"About the training trip to Jusenkyou?"

He paled a bit.

"Of course. Your father told me last night. I must say I was a little put off about you turning into a girl, but clearly that hasn't affected your manliness one bit." The way Nodoka beamed at her flesh-and-blood made him feel a little uncomfortable as well as somewhat embarrassed.

"It's nearly one o'clock," she informed him. Ranma blinked in surprise, but before he could say something in response, she went on. "You were so…" A blush suffused her cheeks while she beamed with pride. "…manly last night, your fathers and I decided to let you two sleep in today. Hopefully, you will contain your excitement better from now on. I doubt it if anyone managed more than a few hours rest with all the noise you and your lovely bride made last night."

"Excuse me?" Nabiki inquired, appearing immediately behind Ranma. She had wrapped a thin bed sheet around her previously nude body and was doing her best to control her attitude in her current state. She was performing poorly at the task.

Nodoka either did not hear her, or did not pay her any attention. "At any rate, Kasumi and I have prepared you two a very big lunch. We figured you'd need the energy. There's also a hot bath drawn, so relax and enjoy yourselves first before preparing to eat… though not too much." She gave Ranma a secret wink. He nodded dumbly in response. "And don't worry about the bed coverings. We'll take care of everything." Then she added in a low whisper, "I hope you were gentle with her, son."

It wasn't low enough for Nabiki's ears. She nearly fell over, livid at the very comment.

Ranma, still not up to speed with the current world, mumbled, "I… I guess."

Ranma's mother hugged him, fiercely. "Oh, son, you make me so proud! I'll be expecting lots of grandchildren, all right?"

If Nodoka weren't holding him, Ranma might have very well fallen over. Nabiki, however, did complete her aborted tumble, thumping onto the floor.

The older woman looked down over the young man's shoulder and spotted her sprawled out. "Oh, Nabiki-chan, you're awake! I hope we didn't disturb your rest, dear," she said, releasing her son.

"No, not at all." she responded, a touch of frost in her voice.

"Good!" Nodoka clapped her hands in joy, clearly unaffected by Nabiki's thinly veiled mood. "Well, I'll see you two downstairs later, all right?"

"Uh… Sure, mom," a shell-shocked Ranma barely muttered.

"All right then." She bowed to both of them and quietly left the hall.

The door was closed firmly behind Nodoka, Nabiki's hand on the knob. "Ranma," she said with the most even tone of voice she could muster. "We must have a talk. Now." Her efforts were failing, judging by the little snarl on the end of her last word.

"Why me?" he muttered to no one in particular.

She spun him around until he was facing her. "Because this is your fault. All of it."

"Like hell it is!" he snarled, getting defensive. His brains gave him a quick reminder that loud noises were a bad thing at the moment, but he ignored the pain-filled warning. "I wasn't the one who decided to get engaged to you."

"You could have backed out of it."

"Yeah, right, like you would have let me."

"If I had known how stupid you were, I would have backed out myself!"

"Then why didn't you?"

"I don't know!"

They glared at each other for several seconds. Then something dawned on Ranma. "What are we fighting about?"

Nabiki blinked. "You mean, you haven't figured it out?"

He scratched the back of his head, pondering. "Well, I kinda know that we got married yesterday—"

"And whose fault was that?" She crossed her arms over her chest, glaring at him.

"Hey, I wasn't the one who told my old man and Mr. Tendo to get a western-style wedding with the works set up by the next day!"

"I wasn't the one who proclaimed an undying love in a maze the day before, remember?"

Ranma started to open his mouth to fire off a retort, but closed it quickly. She was right, after he gave himself a moment to think it over. The whole "I love you" plan in the maze was suppose to be about revenge. However, it backfired. Nabiki should have been afraid and ran off, but instead she insisted on him telling everyone about the wedding that would be held the next day. It felt like another trick, but he could not be sure, so he did as she asked, watching for her reaction. She acted nonchalant about his news, which disappointed him. Then he overheard Nabiki converse with Kasumi again about the whole wedding plans. The older sister disproved of her toying with Ranma again, while she laughed it off. "Relax, Kasumi, Ranma doesn't have the balls to actually marry anyone. I'm not worried one bit."

Her comments raised the hackles on the back of his neck. Again, she was manipulating him. Well, so would he. Tit for tat. Point, counterpoint.

Of course, things didn't turn out that way, as evidenced by the morning's-correction-afternoon's antics. So what happened? Did she really want to marry him all this time? Ridiculous! But still….

"If this is what you wanted, then why are you so upset about it?"

That question caught Nabiki flatfooted; she did not expect him to think of that, so she did not have a reply ready. Two days ago, she had deduced almost immediately that his "great revenge plan" that had stirred her imagination was just another lame Ranma Saotome trick. It irked her that she was foolish enough to actually believe that he really would harm her for all the pranks she pulled on him. He was too soft in that respect. So, as a counterattack, she told him to announce to everyone and the wedding that was planned for the next afternoon. It was rather surprising that he had done it and it was even more of a shock that their fathers manage to corral everything needed for a western-styled wedding (including invitations and catered foods) to the dojo for the next day's "glorious" event, but she landed on her feet and made sure the wedding would be a total bust. She personally delivered wedding invitations to Ukyo, Shampoo, and Kodachi, knowing full and well they would demolish the festivities. She could yell at Ranma, blaming his fiancée troubles for everything, break off their engagement, let the ruined son find solace in Akane's arms, and everything would fall back to normal. She convinced a few of her friends to run a betting pool on the likelihood of one or all events happening; after all, she had to make something of a profit off of this whole scheme, as it was almost certain the money gifts the guests would bring would have to be given back. She felt so confident, she even told them to throw in a bet on her and Ranma actually getting married with a ten-to-one odds rate. Her plan was so easy, even an infant could pull it off.

Apparently, she must have been a newborn, because none of the expected catastrophes happened at all. Shampoo, Ukyo, Kodachi… none of the three showed up at all. Somewhere in the planning and execution, things went terribly awry, and the only hitch that occurred yesterday was her own. And it was all because of her pride, at that. If she was not so proud, she would have ended the ceremonies when it was becoming increasingly clear that no party crashers were arriving, and Ranma apparently wanted to be married to her. Either that, or he was baiting her with another lame trick and was incredibly stupid not to realize what they were walking into.

"Nabiki?"

She shook herself out of her thoughts at the sound of her name. "What is it now?"

'Um… My question…?"

"Drop it, Ranma." She felt weary and old. Dealing with the new changes in her life was already sapping her strength. "I'm going to the bath now. Don't you dare follow me in."

There wasn't much force in her voice, but Ranma backed up all the same. "No problems outta me. Just hurry up. I wanna get cleaned up, too."

She ignored him, padding out of her room, parts of her mind still in a daze. So prideful… so stupid… the thoughts jogged about within her head, unable to differentiate themselves in her mind. So muddled in her own world, she nearly knocked over Kasumi as she was coming upstairs.

"Oh, my! You're awake now, Nabiki?"

"Nope, still dreaming." —Or rather, living in a nightmare, she thought dourly to herself.

"I see. Is that why you are wrapped up in your bedsheet?"

Nabiki blinked, and looked down. "Dammit!" she swore under her breath, spinning around quickly and re-entering her bedroom.

Ranma, who was busy examining his shredded underwear, looked up as the middle Tendo daughter flung off her bedsheet to retrieve a bathrobe. She quickly jammed her arms into the sleeves, when she suddenly remembered her visitor. "What the hell are you doing here?!" She snapped the front of her robe close as tightly as possible.

He grabbed his head with one hand. "You mind? My head's killing me here."

"I'm going to kill you if you don't get out of my room right now!"

"Like I really want to see you naked again!"

Infuriated, Nabiki grabbed a book off her table and let it fly at the young Saotome. "Get out!"

Ranma dodged the makeshift projectile, quickly heading toward the door. "Fine! Whatever! I'm outta here!" He stormed into his room across the hall.

Nabiki came out of her room in a huff. "Damn idiot…."

Kasumi covered her mouth to keep from laughing. "I hear that the adjustment period will only last for a month at most. Really, you could consider yourself lucky to be married to Ranma."

With a bit of effort, she forced her murderous thoughts of strangling her beloved older sister into the dark recesses of her mind. "So, Kasumi," Nabiki began, controlling her voice. "What's with the sudden change? The day before—"

"I know, I know. I was a little harsh on you then. But I've come to realize that Ranma seemed very eager to be wedded to you, so I decided not to be so critical. And I know you would not have followed through with it unless you were serious about the marriage as well."

Nabiki blinked. "Really?"

"Yes. At the reception, the way you two were drinking, I just thought you were overwhelmed with everyone's love and support. Even Auntie Nodoka could see it."

Again, Nabiki blinked. "Drinking?"

"It was the best sake Father could find. 'Nothing less than the best for my girls' he said as he helped organize everything."

"Okay… I think I'll be heading down to the bath house now."

"All right. Is Ranma joining you later?"

Again, Nabiki fought down the image of her hands around Kasumi's neck, shaking her like a rag doll.


"Great, we got drunk," Nabiki muttered to herself as she reclined against the bath's tiled walls. "We got drunk, and we… we…." She shivered unconsciously. It made her feel so uncomfortable admitting she had not just slept with Ranma, but they were so noisy, no one else could sleep either. She would never live it down. How Akane must have been feeling while having to listen—

Akane! her mind screamed, rousing Nabiki out of her depressed state. She sleeps in the room adjacent to hers, so she had gotten first-hand knowledge of—

She gasped, feeling what little hope she may have had slide into the hot water and dissolved completely. Even if she could get their marriage annulled, or, worse comes to worst, divorce Ranma, there was no way her little sister could ever truly accept her former fiancé after listening to him make love to someone else. Especially when the "someone else" was her own blood.

"Great, it just gets better and better," she muttered to herself. Then she brightened a little. "Well, at least the betting pool's cash will be of some comfort. It's not like someone was stupid enough to actually bet on us getting married."


"What?!" Never in all of Nabiki's life had she been more cursed than what was thought possible. "Someone won the bet?!"

The younger girl on the other line shirked from her "boss's" shriek. "Like I said, someone won the bet."

Nabiki willed herself to visibly calm down on the phone. "How many?"

"Just one."

"Good news at the least. Next question. How much?"

The other girl paused nervously, clearing her throat very slowly. "Twenty-five."

"Twenty-five yen?" The newly inducted Saotome wife breathed a sigh of relief. "A whimsical bet, no doubt. Hope against hope for the best outcome. For a moment, I was getting scared there."

"No, you don't understand… Twenty-five thousand."

The silence that chased after that sentence, those three little words, was deafening the middle Tendo daughter. She, however, was not paying it much attention, her concentration completely focused on the younger girl on the other end of the phone line. After what felt like eternity and two days, Nabiki's mouth finally began processing the massive traffic jam in her brain. "Twenty-five… thousand?"

"Yes." The answer cemented her thoughts. Some god or goddess up there must really not like her today.

"That's 250,000 yen that person won… How much did we take in yesterday?"

"Including the winner's bet, minus expenses, around 200,000 yen."

It took the married Tendo a minute to collect herself again. "Now, who exactly won the bet?" She had to figure out a way to get that person to forget the whole thing; she didn't have 50,000 yen just lying around! No one was supposed to actually bet on her tying the knot in the first place!

"Um… #136. A Kay Tee."

Nabiki paused for a moment. "Kay Tee?"

"That's what it says. No name, just the initials Kay Tee."

"Well, call me immediately if this Kay Tee comes around to collect."

"But Nabiki, it's supposed to be your honeymoon."

"Never mind that! Just do it!" Angrily, she slammed the phone down onto the cradle. She was being mocked again, this time by her own underling! What deific force had she piss off, she wondered, fuming at her luck.

"Oh, Nabiki!"

She looked up from the phone to her sister. "Oh, what is it, Kasumi?"

"I need to borrow the phone. I have to call this number." She waved a blue slip of paper just in front of Nabiki.

"That looks familiar," the younger of the two said, more to herself, her eye casually tracking the slip.

"It should be. It is one of your gambling slips. Number 136."

"Oh, well, in that case—" The words slapped Nabiki fully awake. "Number 136?!"

"Yes, dear sister. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to redeem this." Kasumi reached for the receiver.

"Hold it!" Nabiki proclaimed, jerking the cordless unit out from underneath her hand. "I want to know what the hell is going on here, 'dear' sister."

Kasumi gave her a blissful smile. "Why, Nabiki, I simply made a bet on your future happiness, is all."

Her eyes narrowed. "Bullshit. 25,000 yen is not a bet on future happiness; it's a fool's gamble, unless you're privy to some inside information."

Kasumi's smile seemed to broaden a little. Suddenly, Nabiki had an immense desire to beat her charming sister senseless as she could feel the cold realization of a trap snapping on her, rending her completely helpless to prevent change. It was a decidedly unfriendly feeling. She idly wondered if Ranma felt like this with her. Realizing where her thoughts had strayed, she quashed it immediately and gave her full attention to her angelic sister balancing her halo atop the points of her hidden horns.

"It wasn't easy, Nabiki, but I managed to learn some 'inside information'. I learned about how you planned on sabotaging your own wedding. As your sister, I couldn't let anyone do such a thing, even if it's the bride wanting such things to occur. So I took care of matters."

Dread lay inside of Nabiki's stomach. "How?"

"It was rather easy. I spoke with Mousse and convinced the nice young man to slip Shampoo sleeping pills in her food at night, just enough for her to sleep into the afternoon of the next day. Also, I gave Kodachi a corrected invitation, saying the wedding was actually going to be held in Kobe."

Nabiki blinked. She knew her older sister was smart, but when did she get devious? "Okay, that took care of two obstacles. But what about—"

"Ukyo? I made a call to a health inspector whom I met a few times, and actually became friends with. He gave her a call afterwards, telling her to be at her shop for an inspection. Otherwise, her business might well be shut down."

Nabiki took a long moment digesting all that information. She came to one conclusion. "I think I liked you better when you appeared to be vacuous and blissfully unaware of your surroundings."

Kasumi shrugged slightly. "In times like these, one must be very alert. Now, excuse me. I need to redeem this ticket." She held out her hand for the handset.

Nabiki gave her older sister a decidedly unfriendly glare, before speaking. "Don't worry about calling it in. I'll bring you the money later today."

"All right, little sister." Kasumi smiled again that sweetly evil smile. "I'll be outside hanging the laundry if you're looking for me." She turned around and left her sister standing in the living room.

Nabiki had never in her life wanted to kill Kasumi so badly as she felt at the moment.


Meanwhile, Ranma was sitting outside on the patio steps, gazing at the koi pond, his lovingly-prepared lunch half-eaten. His appetite was absent, partly from the subsiding hangover, partly from what he had just stepped into yesterday, and partly from realizing he was doomed. Akane, he hadn't seen at all today, mainly because she left for school while he was….

He couldn't force himself to finish that line of thought. The consequences were grave enough as they were. Silently, he looked up at the sky, praying to whatever deity not laughing at him to have somehow spared Akane his stupidity. And from hearing whatever went on in Nabiki's room. Maybe he could talk Shampoo into using that memory-erasing technique to wipe last night out of her—

Damn, he had completely forgotten about Shampoo and Ukyo. And Kodachi, as an afterthought. Maybe that same deity he was just praying to could take him now, and spare him a hideous death.

"Ranma, my boy."

The newlywed husband looked up at the voice of Genma, who sat down beside him. He held a small brown paper bag folded over. "So, how does it feel your first day of being married?"

"Horrible, dad."

The older Saotome chuckled heartily, patting Ranma on the back. "Oh, it takes some time getting used to the differences. It's not an easy path to walk, just like martial arts. Sometimes, marriage is fraught with more peril than The Art."

Ranma shook his head. "That's not what I meant."

Genma raised his empty hand. "Yes, son, I do know what you meant. Akane, right?"

The son nodded.

"She's stronger than you think. Like everything else, it'll take time. She'll get over it soon enough."

That wasn't the kind of answer he was hoping for. Then again, he hadn't really expected his father to come out and talk to him about marriage in the first place. It certainly was a surreal moment: real, true-to-life bonding over something other than martial arts with the old man. It made him feel funny, and he couldn't find the strength or courage to ask the real questions on his mind — like how the hell he could escape being married to Nabiki.

"Oh, by the way, I picked up something for you. It'll put to rest some of the burning questions you must have but are afraid to ask about right now." He handed over the brown parcel. As Ranma took it in wonderment, Genma got up. "Don't despair, boy." He went inside the residence, leaving Ranma alone with his thoughts.

Curiosity setting in, Ranma unfurled the packaging, dropping a box with a note secured around it by a rubber band. The note removed before looking at the box, Ranma read aloud. "'Family after high school. Ask for more as needed'? What the—" he started to say, turning over the box in his hand.

Nodoka was sipping a cup of tea when Genma came into the kitchen area. She set her cup down on the saucer. "So, did you—"

"FAMILY PACK CONDOMS?!"

Nodoka heard her son's proclamation from outside and smiled. "I told you he might be concerned with starting a family while Nabiki is still in high school."

Genma nodded assertively. "Apparently so, my wife. That should ease his mind of worry."

"I agree. Tea, dear?"

"Yes, please."


The wedded Tendo was sitting in front of the television, seeing the images flash before her eyes, but not watching it at all. Ranma came in, looking around the room before spying her. Quickly, he approached his "wife".

"Nabiki, we gotta talk."

Her eyes focused to reality again, and she painstakingly turned around to face her "husband". "Oh, really now, Ranma baby? About what, pray tell?” She held up a hand before Ranma could open his mouth, then placed the tip of her index to her chin. “No, wait, let me guess; you've figured out yet another aspect of my life which you can ruin. I'm overjoyed, really."

"Will you shut up and listen to me for once in your life? This is serious!"

"And you think I'm not?"

"Look, you think I like this any more than you do? Old man just gave me a bunch of condoms. You got any idea how embarrassing that is?"

"Oh, pooh, you were given condoms, so wha—" Nabiki's words went dead, giving way to a growing sense of freshly born horror.

Ranma considered getting Tofu to recommend a surgeon to sew his mouth shut. Every time he opened it, something bad invariably occurred. Like now, judging from the way Nabiki's face paled, like she was being turned into a Goth girl right before his eyes. "Uh, Nabiki—"

"God damn you, Ranma." It came out so quietly, Ranma almost missed it. "You did find another aspect of my life to ruin. You son of a bitch. Do you really hate me that much?" Her voice quivered as she spoke the last sentence.

"What are you talking about?"

"You getting me pregnant."

Ranma stared at her for a few moments. Then he smirked, confidence wafting through the room. "Oh, is that all you're worried about? No problem!"

Nabiki was really getting annoyed with people and their little secret smiles. She so much wanted to imbed her fist dead into her "husband's" kisser and ruin that smile forever. "What do you mean, 'No problem'? It's a very big problem!"

He dismissed he concerns with a wave of his hand. "Nabiki, there's no way you can be pregnant!"

An unexpected ray of light bore through the clouds of darkness surrounding Nabiki. She couldn’t explain it, but the way Ranma beamed made her feel… hopeful. "How, why are you so certain about… this?"

Ranma grinned. "Everybody knows you can't get pregnant the first time you have sex with someone!"

The ray of light was devoured by the black hole Ranma's proclamation created in the living room. Hibiki's eye twitched uncontrollably.

"Y-You… you…"

"Oh, don't thank me, Nabiki. I'm just glad I remembered what Hiroshi and Daisuke told me a while back."

"You… idiot!"

"Huh?" Ranma was confused. "What're you getting upset about? I told you—"

"Are you really that stupid, or do you practice everyday?"

"Hey!"

"You can get pregnant on the first try. Or if you practice the rhythm method. Or if you pull out before ejaculation. Or if—"

Ranma was slowly backing away from Nabiki; she may have sounded calm and rational, but her body language was throwing out more screams and expletives than a ship of drunken sailors. Tears welled in her eyes like lakes on the verge of flooding during the rainy seasons. Worse, still, Ranma had no idea as to what to do, too afraid of stepping on another emotional landmine.

"I'm home…." Startled, Ranma and Nabiki looked at the front door as one. A now-dumbstruck Akane blinked back at the two, and time momentarily lost its hold over the living room. The memory, however, was burned indelibly in the minds of the three teenagers.

Just as suddenly as the whole world stopped in its tracks, time reasserted control, and life moved on.

Nabiki got up, unsteadily to the point she had to grab Ranma's shoulders to remain standing. Dropping her head to her chest, she spoke softly, her voice quavering. "I'm sorry… I'm so sorry, Akane…" Tears tumbled down the married Tendo's cheeks, splattering on her clothes and the floor carelessly. "I…"

"Nabiki," Akane said, her voice trembling slightly. However, that seemed to have been too much for her sister, as she suddenly bolted for her room, stumbling and falling all the way up the stairs. She could only watch her flee the room, rooted to the spot on the landing. Then her eyes landed on Ranma, who had a completely lost look about him, eyes darting to the stairwell, and then back at her, his mouth moving, but no intelligent words were forthcoming. She rent her eyes from the scene, turning to go back outside.

"Akane, wait!"

"I'm going to the dojo, to train, Ranma. Go to your… your wife… She needs you."

The gravity of the words, your wife, threatened to suffocate the young husband. Coming from Akane, they were daggers of ice, lancing through his spirit, and freezing him where he stood. He watched helplessly, as she quickly walked out the door on him, both literally and figuratively.

He crumbled into the couch, realization leaving him drunk and sickened. There was no easy way out for him. In fact, there was no way out at all. He was now married to a life of misery. Worst still, this was just the first day, and Ranma didn't know if he could make it through another one, since harder times were most certainly waiting around the corner, ready to bludgeon him at a moment's notice. He was trapped under the rock and a hard place, no room to breathe or move without inevitable death looking to gain its pound of flesh.

What do I do now? Ranma thought to himself, stifling his nonexistent tears harshly. Men don't cry. They fix everything. The problem was that he didn't know where to start. Perhaps it was time he had a long talk with those that have already been through this kind of thing before.

"Now where did my parents go?"

 

To be continued.

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