Subject: [FFML2] A Saiyan Tail[Part 23][R.5/DB]
From: Ryoga P Hibiki
Date: 2/13/2001, 4:01 PM
To: ffml2@listbot.com

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    A Saiyan Tail

    Part 23

    Cologne's Revenge!

+++++++++

    "The beach?" said Akane as she looked over at the two men and
blinked.

    "Yes, It has come to my attention, that Saotome has never been.
Well, not in so many words. We did train on a tropical island, and
have both had a few adventures in the ocean. We've just never, gone to
the beach."

    Goku blinked at him and shrugged his shoulders. "We never went
just to have fun before. I thought you guys might like it, you've been
training real hard."

    "Oh my, how nice," commented Kasumi cheerfully. "Will we be taking
the train? I suppose I should make lunch."

    "Great!" chimed Ranma happily.

    "Train?" asked Goku in confusion. "Why would we do that?"

+++++++++++

    "Watch where you put your hands husband, there are children
present," commented Nodoka from her husband's grip as they flew
through the air with the children trailing behind them.

    "Huh?" Goku looked down and saw that the hand he was holding her
torso up with was a little higher than he had intended. "Oh, sorry."

    "Now Saotome, please behave," agreed Soun as he carried Kasumi and
pulled up next to him.

    "Soun please," said Nodoka in embarrassment.

    "Really father!" exclaimed Kasumi.

    "Now, now," said Soun. "I was only joking, and my children are old
enough to hear a little good natured ribbing now and then." Tears
began to form in his eyes suddenly. "I only wish that my little Nabiki
was here to see this!"

    "Calm down Tendo," muttered Nodoka with a small sigh.

+++++++++++

    Trailing just behind them, Akane and Ranma flew through the air
easily, with two large packs full of beach gear and food.

    "Honestly! Why do I get stuck with this stuff?" grumbled Akane
irritably.

    "Well, you're the one in training you know," said Ranma with a
shrug. He had a good sized backpack on himself, loaded with towels,
and the rest of the food. "And they've both been flying a lot longer
than us, so it's just safer for them to carry the others."

    "Yeah, I know, I'm not really mad," muttered Akane with a sigh.
"Hey, Ranma..." she suddenly looked embarrassed.

    "Huh? What's up Akane?" said the boy cheerfully.

    "Do you think... you could help me with my swimming a little
later? I still haven't really learned how. You're dad's been helping
me, and I'm a little better now, but..."

    "Huh? Why don't you just hold your breath and fly underwater?"
said Ranma obliviously.

    "Hold my breath?" Akane faltered in the air for a moment. "Why
would I do that? Does it help?"

    "Huh?" muttered Ranma as he looked at her. "Akane, you can't
breathe water. You have to hold your breath."

    "I can't?" muttered the girl with a shocked look on her face.

    "Um...no," said Ranma as he looked at her oddly for a moment.

    "Oh," said the girl with a shrug.  "What's this about flying
underwater?"

    "Huh? Oh, well..." Ranma thought about it for a moment. "You can
do that too. Basically you just do it like you were in the air, and
kick. It's easier to move around if you kick. If you do that, you can
go a lot deeper than a normal person. Something about Chi protecting
you from the pressure or something."

    "Oh, that sounds easy enough," said Akane cheerfully.

    Something about the situation made Ranma feel uneasy.

++++++++++

    Ranma sat back in one of the beach chairs they had brought along
with them and sighed as she relaxed. She was dressed in a single piece
bathing suit with the word 'boy' written across the chest in English.
A pair of sunglasses rested across her nose and she stretched out
completely, much to the anger of every girlfriend within forty yards
of the scene. The fact that Kasumi Tendo was in a similar position
right next to her didn't help matters any.

    Nodoka sat nearby with Goku on a blanket and frowned slightly.
"That isn't very manly." She was dressed in a conservative dark blue
swimsuit herself, and rested with Soun under a large umbrella that was
stuck into the sand.

    "Huh? You worry too much dear," said the man cheerfully. "Ranma is
fine." He went back to blowing up a beach ball obliviously.

    "It doesn't bother you that our son is feminine?" she said in
shock.

    "Huh? Why not? He's a girl right now isn't he?" muttered the man
obliviously as he finished his task and closed the valve.

    "Goku!" snapped the woman in irritation.

    "What? Akane doesn't seem to mind," muttered the man as he looked
over and saw Soun's daughter had taken a spot right next to her
fiancee on a beach towel. The pair was talking together cheerfully.

    Nodoka sighed and hung her head. "I suppose you're right."

    Goku blinked as he continued to dig through the backpack. "I know
I put it in here..."

    "What are you looking for?" said Nodoka as she looked over to the
man.

    "Aha!" said Goku as he pulled out a worn looking net.

    "Oh dear," muttered Nodoka as she recognized the thing instantly.

    "Hey Tendo!" called Goku as he jumped up.

    "No, no, no! Can't we ever have a day of peace?" said his wife
under her breath.

++++++++++

    Soun was drinking a glass of iced tea, next to his eldest
daughter. Guarding the trio of girls like a vigilant watchdog. He was
dressed as Goku was, in a T-shirt and a loose pair of orange swimming
trunks. The jealous glares of every woman on the beach seemed to be
fixated on their area; as most of the male attention was focused on
them, or on several other pretty girls in the immediate vicinity. It
was the beach after all.

    Counting Nodoka, the group was probably the largest concentration
of such beauty on the beach, and naturally that was where the men
tended to look.

    "Hey Tendo!" called Goku as he jumped up from his place nearby and
waved his arms.

    Soun arched his eyebrow as he realized that his friend was waving
something in the air. A worn looking volley ball.

    "Saotome, did you bring the net?" asked the man with a sudden
hunger in his voice.

    Akane looked at the her father in shock. She had ever heard that
tone from the man before.

    "Yeah, too bad Kurillin and Yamcha aren't here," said Goku as he
stopped in front of them and put the ball under his arm. "Master Roshi
and Master Happosai, well... I doubt they'd play right now anyway..."
Goku looked around at all the young girls on the beach and frowned
slightly.

    "Indeed, let's go Saotome!" Soun jumped up and started to set up
the net.

    Akane looked at Ranma after the scene had ended and noticed a
small frown on the redhead's face.

    Goku paused and looked over to them from where he was setting up
the net. "Are you two coming?"

    Ranma's frown suddenly changed into a sly looking grin. "Come on
Akane."

    "Huh?" muttered the girl as she looked at her fiancee for a
moment.

++++++++++++

    "Heh. Look, the old men think they can play ball," said one of a
large group of boys who had gathered around the net. A few of them
were hoping to steal the game away from the older men, after they had
tired. A few girls had also gathered around, hoping to watch the
younger boys play after the old men were finished.

    Goku and Soun smirked and continued their work, finally finishing
up the net and standing off to either side.

    "Ready Tendo?" said Goku as he removed his shirt.

    "Anytime Saotome!" agreed Soun as he did the same.

    Any snide remarks the boys had stopped there. Both men had looked
large before, but they were completely buff and would easily keep up
with any one of the younger boys from the look of them.

    It should also be noted, that the girls in the crowd were no
longer waiting to watch the younger men play.

    "Come on you two, we've got a game to play," said Goku over the
crowd.

    The mass parted as Akane Tendo, and Ranma Saotome in his female
form walked calmly into the playing field.

    "Hey! You need any more players?" called one of the boys. It was
quickly accepted by most of the others. Several boyfriends were
promptly decked, or otherwise injured, by their significant others.

    "Stay back, or you'll get hurt," commented Ranma lazily as she
took up a spot beside Soun.

    "What's going on?" said Akane as she looked back and fourth at the
two teams nervously. She had been expecting to be on a team with
Ranma, against the two older men.

    "Don't worry about it, just try and keep up. Okay?" said Goku
cheerfully from beside her.

    "Right!" said Ranma with a nod. "Are you ready to eat that ball
old man?"

    "That's the spirit son!" agreed Soun.

    Three battle auras suddenly flared to life in the field. Akane
seemed to catch on and steeled herself as hers flared to life as well.

    Akane gasped as her father served the ball, it was covered in a
blue aura and slammed into the ground in front of her, creating a
small explosion. She jumped back and stared at the hole in shock.
"What the?"

    Gasps of shock and worried sounding mutters began to form in the
surrounding crowd. A few of the boys who had offered to join the game
suddenly went pale. One even passed out cold.

    "I'll allow that one, since my daughter was not prepared Saotome,"
said Soun with a small smile on his face.

    "Come on Akane, I know you can do it!" said Ranma cheerfully.

    Akane looked at her father and frowned, as everything suddenly
made sense. "All right, come on then!"

    "That's the spirit Akane!" agreed Goku cheerfully. His face became
serious a moment after that as he returned the ball.

    "I knew she was my daughter!" agreed Soun as he caught it and
readied himself again.

    All the spectators suddenly moved back about ten feet from the
edge of the field.

+++++++++++

    "Men," muttered Nodoka as she watched the scene play out with
Kasumi. A small explosion sounded from the beach in front of them as
the ball hit the ground again.

    "Oh my, I hope father doesn't wear himself out too much. It's been
so long since they played together," commented Kasumi.

    "Yes I know, I told them they weren't allowed to play at my house
any longer after they blew up my garden," said Nodoka with a sigh.

    "Father doesn't like to play at home, because we have to patch the
holes in the dojo," pointed out Kasumi.

    "Or the house," agreed Nodoka. "I suppose there's no harm in doing
it here. This stupid competitive drive of my husbands is going to get
us all killed one day."

    "I don't think they'll go that far," said Kasumi sweetly.

    Another explosion sounded as the ball hit the ground again. A
feminine cry of 'Yatta!' floated over to the two women.

    "Oh! It seems Akane is enjoying herself," said Kasumi cheerfully.

    "So it seems," muttered Nodoka as she pursed her lips. Two more
additions to the volleyball madness, was not something she looked
forward too, but the damage had already been done.

++++++++++++

    About an hour later, the beach in front of the Tendo encampment
was nothing more than a patch of smoking craters. Akane was beaming
proudly beside Goku, who had the ball tucked under his arm with the
net.

    "Had enough?" said Nodoka cheerfully.

    "Yup, we won!" said Goku happily.

    "That's three in a row for you Saotome. Perhaps I'm getting too
old for this sort of thing," said Soun as he walked up beside the man
with Ranma at his side.

    "Well, Akane was a good partner, once we got started," said Goku
as he rubbed at the girl's head for a moment.

    "Yup, Akane did real good!" said Ranma cheerfully.

    "Even though you did get more points than she did," said Soun.

    "Huh? I did?" muttered the redhead obliviously. "I guess I did!"
she said with a proud grin of her own after counting them out in her
mind.

    "Well, we won. That's what matters," said Akane with a slight
frown.

    "I guess," replied the pigtailed girl with a shrug. "I'm hungry."
She looked towards her mother and Kasumi, who were already breaking
out the baskets of food, all six of them.

    Ranma was biting into a watermelon slice within seconds, with
Akane sitting beside her. The redhead suddenly went rigid as something
poked at her back, she turned to see Cologne smiling at her with her
staff poked out. The pigtailed girl immediately began choking on a
half-chewed piece of the melon. Akane slapped her on the back and she
coughed it up and gasped for breath.

    "Why daughter in law, imagine finding you here? Did you come to
visit Shampoo? I know you've missed her since we relocated for the
summer."

    Ranma blinked and looked at her. She turned towards Akane.
"Shampoo's been gone?"

    "For about two weeks," said the girl as she looked back at the old
woman emotionlessly.

    "Oh, I thought it had been quiet."

    Cologne almost fell on her face. She had sought to lure them out
here with the Phoenix Pill. "Surely you don't think you're cured of
that shiatsu?" She looked directly at Akane.

    "Um yeah, why?" replied the girl dumbly.

    "Heh, foolish girl. You'll have to take a hot bath every day for
the rest of your life, in order to keep up the immunity you've gained
through your training."

    "Akane takes a bath every night," commented Ranma with a shrug.

    Cologne frowned; she wasn't used to having hot water so easily
available as it was in Japan. The village didn't exactly have running
water, and she had failed to include that in her plans. After a while,
the girl's immunity would grow enough that it would be almost
permanent. Apparently, these children were aware of that. "Well, the
Cat's Tongue's effects grow with time. Soon, even going outside on a
warm day will be enough. To say nothing of the summer heat, like
say... a day like today?" It was a small lie, but enough.

    Both teens looked at her in shock.

    "Gotcha!" thought the hag as she eyed the reaction cheerfully.

    "What?" stammered Akane in shock.

    "I hadn't really intended for this to go quite that far. I'll
admit I was planing on curing her after the young Daughter in law
returned with us. I am not a cruel person. However, there is only one
pill, and I cannot give it up without some sort of compensation."
Cologne smirked as the reactions were exactly as expected.

    Ranma jumped up and grabbed for her, Cologne jumped back merrily
and  waved her finger at the girl. "Now child, I don't have the pill
at the moment. My young Shampoo does."

    "And where might she be?" said a new voice from behind them.

    Everyone turned to see Ryoga standing there, cracking his knuckles
absently. He was dressed in his traveling clothes, and had his
backpack slung across his shoulders.

    "How long have you been there?" snapped Cologne.

    "Long enough," said Ryoga with a small shrug as he frowned at her.

    "You!" snarled Akane angrily as she began to power up.

    "Akane! Calm down!" snapped Ranma as she stood between the pair
for a moment. "He's on our side now!"

    "For the moment," agreed Ryoga quietly. "As I said, even bringing
that girl back to life won't make up for what I did. Maybe I can start
making up for it now. Tell me old woman, where is this 'Pill'?"

    Cologne glared at the boy. She recognized him after a moment of
study. His hair was different now, standing upright, where it had been
hanging around his face before. "You are the one who attacked my
village."

    "I attacked Ranma. He was in your village at the time. No one was
hurt, so quit complaining and cough up that pill, or I might decide I
don't like you," replied the boy angrily as he glared at her.

    Akane growled at him and stepped back, allowing her aura to die
down a bit. "We don't need your help."

    Ryoga looked at her for a moment with an expression that she
couldn't read. "I owe you, and your family, a debt. I intend to pay
it."

    "Akane, let it go. He's sorry he did it. We're going to fix it,"
pleaded Ranma.

    "That doesn't do me any good now," snapped the girl as she glared
at the redhead for a moment. She didn't move to attack again though.

    Cologne was standing in the middle of the scene, listening
carefully. "Bring back the dead? Who is this boy?" she muttered
quietly as she watched Ryoga cautiously. The situation was not getting
any better, she had no doubts that she could beat the trio if
necessary, but it would not be an easy task. Especially with their
parents standing nearby.

    "Now children. Let's be polite about this. Why don't we all go
over there and play a little game?" The old woman pointed over to a
strange looking race. An announcer was standing on a podium with a
microphone, calling out loudly to the crowd in an attempt to get them
to join in.

    "Martial arts melon splitting! The rules are simple! Simply make
it to the finish line with your melon intact! The other racers will
attempt to split yours during the course of the race!" said the man
cheerily.

    Most of the beach goers were largely uninterested. Until...

    "And the prize of this race is... Miss Shampoo!"

    The amazon appeared on the podium with a familiar object in her
hand.

    "That's it," commented Ranma as she nodded towards the girl.

    "Seems easy enough," replied Ryoga casually.

    "Let's not over do it, there will be normal people in that race,"
commented Ranma as he glanced over at both Ryoga and Akane.

    "That's not a mistake I intend to make twice," said Ryoga darkly
as he started walking forward, away from the race.

    "This way," said Ranma with a sigh as she pulled on his arm.

    Akane growled under her breath and followed behind the pair,
clenching her fists.

++++++++++

    "You fight for me, yes, Ranma?" said Shampoo as she grabbed
Ranma's neck at the starting line.

    "No, no, no!" cried Ranma as she attempted to dislodge the girls
grip from her.

    "Quit flirting Saotome. We've got a job to do," commented Ryoga
with a small frown.

    A few seconds later, she was released as Shampoo wandered over to
the winner's circle. Akane glared at her fiancee for a moment and
Ranma shrugged at her before taking her place at the starting line.
Everyone in the race was holding a melon, and a bokuten.

    "On your marks, get set, go!" cried the announcer. The three
martial artists were gone at the same instant as the starting gun went
off.

    All the other contestant's watermelons shattered before they took
their first step and they looked down dumbly. "Hey! No fair!"

    Ryoga smirked and rushed forward, or so he thought. He was running
away from the battle. His smile fell though, when Akane appeared in
front of him with her melon held under her arm, and her bokuten in her
grip. "We don't need your help."

    "Like I said lady. I don't care," the lost boy rushed forward and
barely missed getting his melon split by Akane. He rolled away and
frowned as she spun to face him again after he had passed. Her own
melon was still intact. "Damn, she's not bad, and I promised I'd take
it easy... so no powering up."

    Akane didn't seem to have that problem as her aura flared to life
around her.

++++++++++

    Meanwhile, Ranma rushed forward towards the finish line alone with
a smirk on her face. "Heh, almost there."

    A shadow formed over her head and she looked up to see Cologne
plummeting out of the sky towards her. The old woman slashed at the
ground with her staff and forced Ranma to jump back. She was surprised
to find the young girl smiling at her when she turned to face her.

    "So, you're playing too? I'm glad, I didn't want this to be too
easy."

    "Well, I just got to thinking about the days when I was a girl
playing on the beach," said Cologne cheerfully.

    Soun landed just behind her and slashed down with a bokuten of his
own. Ranma jumped back once again. "Ranma! How could you? You're
engaged to Akane! How could you be trying to win Shampoo?"

    "Huh?" said Ranma in confusion.

    Goku appeared just beside the man and put his fist through his
melon. It shattered on the ground and Soun looked up at him. "Saotome?
How could you?"

    "The pill Tendo, he's trying to win the pill," said Goku as he
pulled the man off the field forcibly.

    Cologne narrowed her eyes at this scene and turned back towards
Ranma again.

    "Forget about them, let's get started," said the redhead with a
smirk on her face.

    "Very well," commented Cologne as she jumped after the girl.

++++++++++++

    Ryoga was at a stalemate with Akane. He could overpower her easily
and be done with it, but he didn't really want to hurt her. That
coupled with the fact that she was even better than she was the last
time they had met, made his problem more difficult that it seemed.
"Cut it out will you? We're missing the battle!"

    "I won't let you!" snarled Akane bitterly as she jumped forward.

    A red blur passed over them and both their melons shattered in an
instant. Both looked up to see Ranma glancing back at them as she
rushed away. "Quit goofing off and find the stupid pill!"

    "Uh, right," muttered Akane as she looked at the juice that now
covered her hand for a moment.

    The redhead appeared in front of the finish line and paused as
Cologne stopped her cold directly in front of her.

    "Hey, you're faster than you look," commented Ranma coolly.

    "Yes, you're a hundred years too slow to beat me," said the old
woman cheerfully.

    "Heh, somehow, I doubt that," replied the girl with a smirk.

    "At any rate, I won't let you pass, until you choose Shampoo,"
said the old woman.

    The bokuten and the staff blurred in the air as the two combatants
struck at one another. Finally, Ranma managed to get a blow in, as
Cologne jumped up and slashed at Ranma's melon, and missed.

    "What? How?" snapped the hag as she glared at the girl for a
moment. Ranma hacked at her staff and smirked. "Since when are you
good enough to split my melon?"

    "Heh, old lady, I'm still holding back, and so are you," replied
the redhead with a smirk. She slashed and forced the staff from
Cologne's grip, catching it with her foot. "Come on, let's see what
you've really got." She flipped her foot out slightly and tossed the
staff back.

    "It seems I've underestimated you," commented Cologne dryly. "We
must have him!" she thought to herself as she picked up the staff.
"How about a little deal? If you win, I'll give you the real Phoenix
Pill. If I win, you return to China with me and Shampoo, and become
her bride."

    "Sure thing old woman, if you can beat me that is," said the girl
with a smirk on her face.

    "Aiyah! Shampoo so happy!" exclaimed the Amazon from the
sidelines.

    "Heh, I'm not worried," commented Akane lazily from beside her.
Her face fell a moment later as Cologne seemed to blur around Ranma
giving the impression of many images of her at once. She pushed the
sand up into the redhead's face and cackled merrily. Ranma merely
stood there, as the sand seemed to pass right through her.

    "Well little girl, you'll be good enough to beat me, in about a
hundred years!" snapped the old woman as she moved. He stopped
laughing when Ranma seemed to appear in front of her face. "What?"
They jumped away from each other and Cologne frowned. "She's more
skilled than I had thought possible! Still, no match for me though."

    The hag charged forward faster than Ranma had ever seen her move
before. The pair vanished for a moment and reappeared just over the
water. Ranma had a serious look on her face, and Cologne mirrored that
look almost exactly.

    "Well, since we're in the ocean, let me show you a fun water
trick!" said Cologne. Both went under and the old woman spun her staff
in a tight circle, pointing it directly at Ranma.

    A huge waterspout blasted up from the surface.

    "Look a waterspout!" cried one of the spectators.

    "Inside it!" agreed one of the others.

    Cologne could be seen inside the waterspout, with Ranma in a
headlock.

    "Grrvvlllurrrppp?" asked Cologne.

    Ranma, just smiled.

    "A headlock," commented Soun lazily.

    "Ranma give up now!" called Shampoo happily.

    "You don't think that's enough to beat her do you?" said Akane
with a smirk on her face.

    "Huh? What you talking?" said Shampoo obliviously. Surely her
great grandmother knew what she was doing?

    A light formed inside the waterspout for a moment, just before it
exploded, sending a shower of water all over the beach. Cologne landed
nearby on the surface of the water and stood there. Turning to face
her opponent in shock.

    Ranma was floating in the air, just inside a sphere of blue
energy. It died down and she floated down next to Cologne, appearing
to stand on the water as well.

    "That's a neat trick," commented the old woman. Her mind was
laughing out loud though. Surely she would have used all her energy up
with a blast like that.

    The old woman's foothold was revealed, as a twenty-foot shark
jumped suddenly with her standing on top of it.

    The crowd on the beach stood in silence for a moment, just
watching the scene. After a moment, Akane spoke up. "It's a shark."

    "It is, isn't it?" agreed Soun.

    "Hey, she's not bad," commented Goku cheerfully.

    "Great Grandmother is greatest!" snapped Shampoo at him angrily.

    Out over the ocean, Cologne struck the water with her fists, and
it slammed into Ranma's chest in the shape of a shark. "Semeken!"

    Ranma was thrown into the air by the force of the unexpected blow
and sank into the water again.

    The shark dove in after her and Ranma was just starting to recover
as it passed by beside her. She trust her hands forward once again,
and tossed the pigtailed girl out of the water and into the air.

    Akane gasped in shock as the girl fell limply back into the waves.
"No! He'll drown!" she cried as she rushed forward. "Ranma! I'm
coming!" she thought as she dove into the water. "Now what was that
again? Oh yeah! Breathe deeply, and fly underwater." She then took a
deep breath, after breaking the surface of the water. About a half
second later, she flailed her arms around and sank like a rock.

    Ranma, who was floating nearby, turned her head and stared in
shock as her fiancee passed by, on her way down. She spun around
underwater and dove after her, pulling her up to the surface.

    "Akane... what are you doing out here?" she said as they broke the
surface.

    "b-but you... hack, hack, hack, hack," replied Akane as she
coughed up the water she had swallowed.

    Cologne appeared just behind them on top of the shark. The animal
was bearing down on them and breached the water with its mouth open.
"Oh, some poor girl has fallen into the water. I'll just have to get
rid of her," commented the old woman merrily.

    Ranma's face became serious suddenly, and she raised her palm out
of the water, pointing it at the creature.

    Cologne's eyes went wide as a blast of light struck her, throwing
her into the air, and onto the beach. She landed roughly and lay still
in the sand for a moment.

    "Aiya! Great Grandmother!" exclaimed Shampoo as she fell to her
knees beside the old woman.

    "Impossible!" muttered Cologne as she tried to force herself up
with her arms.

    "Well, well," said Ryoga as he took something from the helpless
old woman's pocket. "What have we here?" Ranma and Akane landed next
to them softly, and he tossed the Phoenix Pill to Akane casually and
smirked at her for a moment.

    "Yeah, thanks," grumbled the girl irritably as she opened the
container and swallowed the pill. "Just don't think you're off the
hook for this yet."

    "It's a start," replied the boy as he floated into the air and
flew off. He stopped and looked back at the ground for a moment. "I
wonder why Ranma held back so much? Oh well." He simply flew away,
going back on his way.

    "You! Don't ever threaten Akane like that again!" snapped Ranma as
he glared at the old woman for a moment. "This was between us!"

    "I wasn't going to really hurt her," muttered Cologne as she
glared up at him. "I can see that I shouldn't have held back anything
against you. That was foolish."

    "Old woman, you haven't even seen half of my true power," snapped
Ranma in retort.

    Cologne waved that off easily. She had to be bragging about that;
there was no way anyone could be as strong as that at her age. "Well,
it was fun. It brings back memories of better times." Cologne sat up
and pat her back for a moment before standing. "We'll withdraw for
today, consider the Phoenix Pill a gift, for a fighting spirit. Come
Shampoo, we're leaving." The two amazons started walking away. "See
you around... Son in law."

    Akane turned towards her fiancee with a worried look on her face.

    "Hey, old lady," said Ranma with a smirk.

    "Yes?" said Cologne.

    Ranma merely pointed at the finish line to the race behind her,
and lifted her foot up. Sitting there on top of it, was a slightly
cooked, but still intact, watermelon. "I win."

    Cologne felt something inside her snap. She simply stood there,
with her mouth hanging open and gawked at the girl. After a moment,
she closed her mouth and nodded. "So it seems. Come Shampoo." The pair
walked away, leaving the two families to their day at the beach.

+++++++++++++

    That night, Ranma flew just behind the two families holding the
sleeping form of Akane Tendo in his arms. He hung back a bit,
partially because of his double load due to the girl sleeping in his
arms, and partially because he wanted to take his time, and enjoy the
evening.

    Akane muttered in her sleep and pushed her head against his neck.
Ranma smiled at this and looked down at her for a moment. Akane
responded to him moving his head and wrapped her arms around his neck.
"Ranma."

    "Huh?" said the boy, just before she kissed him full on the lips.

    He froze in mid flight, and simply hung there, with the girl in
his arms. Her eyes fluttered open for a moment and she looked at him.

    "What the heck do you think you're doing?" she snapped as she
slapped him across his face.

    "Huh? What?" stammered the boy in shock.

    "You were sleeping!" he cried defensively.

    "So you thought it was okay to kiss me?" she retorted angrily.

    "Hey! You kissed me! I wasn't doin nuthin!" he snapped at her with
confusion and frustration clear on his face.

    "I... what?" said Akane as she looked at him dumbly.

    "I was just carrying you. You said my name and kissed me in your
sleep," said the boy as he seemed to relax a bit more.

    Akane just hung there, looking at him in shock with tears in her
eyes. "R-Ranma? I..."

    "Look, I'm sorry," said the boy in an attempt to pacify her.

    She looked at him with a sudden dread in her eyes and backed away.
"No! I don't want to be in love with you!" After that, she blasted
across the sky at full speed.

    "Akane!" cried Ranma as he followed after her, not managing to
catch up because of his load. "Wait..." he muttered as he slowed
suddenly and watched her vanish into the horizon. "Great. Now what did
I do?" he asked himself angrily.

++++++++++++++

    "You're home," said Akane quietly as she stepped out onto the
roof. Ranma was sitting there, staring at the stars.

    "Oh, I'm sorry, are you still mad at me?" said the boy as he sat
up and looked at her for a moment with worry in his eyes.

    "Stop that," she whispered.

    "Huh?" he managed.

    "Don't apologize..." she said as she sat down a comfortable
distance away from him. "Look, it was my fault. I'm sorry. I'm just
confused right now."

    "Oh," said Ranma as he lay back down and looked up at the stars
again.

    "Ranma?"

    "Yeah?"

    "I'm sorry, for everything," said the girl as she moved a little
closer to him.

    "Huh? Why?"

    "I've treated you terribly. I mean, since you came here. I'm
really sorry," said the girl with tears forming in her eyes.

    "What? You've been a great friend!" cried Ranma defensively. Akane
reached out and put her hand over his mouth.

    "No I haven't, you have. You're always telling me how great I am.
I'm really not. I even told you I hated you, when all you wanted was
to be my friend."

    "That was a long time ago! I almost forgot it happened," said
Ranma honestly.

    "No, there were other times, that was just the worst. I've never
really been all that nice to you."

    Ranma frowned at her, it was clear he had no idea what she was
talking about. He managed to keep quiet though and simply nodded.

    Akane gave a small gentle laugh. "Jerk, you don't have to lie. I
can tell you have no idea what I mean."

    "Oh? Okay," said the boy with a small shrug.

    "Ranma, I really mean it. I'm sorry," she said as she looked at
him again. "For tonight especially. I never should have said that."

    Ranma was speechless; he had no idea what to do. He simply
fidgeted for a moment and looked away from her. "It's okay, really
Akane. I ain't mad or nothin," he finally managed.

    "I know," she said and kissed him gently on the lips.

    Ranma sat there in shock, waiting for the retribution that usually
followed a moment like this between them. Nothing happened, Akane
simply kissed him for a moment, stood up, and walked away. Going back
down into the yard, and then into the home.

    He sat there, looking out across the city for a long time.
Finally, he scratched his head. "Huh?"

++++++++++

    TBC...

    Next time: The Sacred Waters of Jusenkyo!

    BTW: Cologne referring to Ranma as 'Son in law' wasn't a typo.
You'll notice everyone else talking about him as a boy. She just
figured it out.

C&C to Carrotglace@juno.com

Previous parts can be found at Http://www.fanfiction.net and R&C Books
International Fanfic Company at Http://www.rcbooks.org

Ja!


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