From A Different Viewpoint Chapter 30

All Ranma characters are property of Rumiko Takahashi, first published by Shogakugan in Japan and brought over to North America by Viz Communications. Sailor Moon was created by Naoko Taeuchi.

                                    A Different Viewpoint pt 30
 

    After school on Monday morning, Ranma and Akane came home to an empty house.  It was quiet, the silence was unnerving.  The Tendo Dojo almost always had someone in at this time of the day.  Their fathers and Kasumi usually would greet them when they got home.  It was strange not to hear them as they came in.

    Akane immediately called out.  "Kasumi, are you here?"  She walked into the living room, Ranma just behind her.  Kasumi walked up to her, stretching.  Akane smiled.  "Taking a nap, sis? I was worried for a bit."

    Kasumi meowed contentedly.  < I never realized how boring an empty house could be... until there was nothing to do.>  She stretched a bit more.  < Still, it was nice to just be lazy for once.>

    Ranma glanced around.  "Is Johnathon back yet?"  Kasumi shook her head.

    Akane looked at Ranma in exasperation.  "He's teaching now, you know.  Johnathon has to stay at school longer than we do."

    Ranma shrugged.  "Oh yeah.  So, wanna do some light sparring?  I thought I could help you work on your speed."

    Akane grinned.  "You bet!"  She followed him out toward the Dojo. < Ranma, why did it take you so long to start treating me like a real person.  Why did it take me so long to accept him?>

    Ranma started by having Akane attack him as usual.  He quickly began to counter attack, forcing her to defend herself at a faster and faster pace.  Ranma kept picking up the speed, until Akane was at her limit. She was blocking and dodging with every bit of her speed and skill. Akane saw something change in Ranma's expression as they fought.  He had been thoughtful at first, watching her every move with a practiced eye. But after a few minutes he had appeared to consider something, then get a slightly mischievous grin.

    Akane's eyes narrowed as she defended herself.  < What's he thinking?>

    Ranma spoke, his voice showing no sign of the strain of attacking at high speed.  "Ready to take it up a notch?"

    Akane nodded grimly.  < About time, but can I handle it if Ranma speeds up?>

    Ranma smiled.  "Just say when I should stop."  His hands started to blur.

    Akane felt him tap her lightly again and again, getting though her defenses with ease.  She pushed herself to her limits, trying to block faster.  Akane was as fast as she had ever been in her life, but she couldn't push herself any faster.

    Ranma's eyes narrowed.  < She needs motivation… and I can't hit her. Akane's going to kill me for this, but...>

    Akane yelped as Ranma lightly pinched her cheeks.  < What the hell?> Akane started getting angry.  He lightly slapped her rear, then tickled her under the ribs.  Akane nearly blew her concentration.  < What the hell does he think he's doing!  If he thinks I'm going to let him get to me he's wrong!>  Akane's anger gave her an adrenaline surge.  She started to speed up, faster and faster.  Akane got more and more frustrated as Ranma kept getting though her defenses.  < He's making fun of me!  And I'm not getting any better at all!>  She still wouldn't admit defeat. < I won't give up!>

    Ranma was impressed.  < Akane's gotten twenty percent faster already. She's improving a lot!>  He picked up his own speed to match her increase.  < Is this how the old ghoul was training me?>  Akane started to glow faintly.  < Uh oh, better stop, she's getting mad.>

    Akane broke off.  "Alright, stop!"  She fought to control her anger. < Damn it. He was just making fun of me again.>

    Ranma stopped attacking.  "Hey, Akane, you're getting a lot faster…"

    Akane cut him off.  "Oh stop pretending, Ranma.  I hate it when you patronize me!"

    Ranma blinked.  "Patronize?  No Akane, honest!  You're getting faster! I just kept increasing my own speed to match, but you're getting a lot faster."

    Akane looked at him sideways.  "Really?"

    Ranma nodded emphatically.  "Really.  It's just like when I was trying to get the Phoenix pill from the old ghoul.  She kept sparring with me and I never realized that I was getting faster each time.  Remember when she covered me with reject stamps?"

    Akane giggled, remembering back then.  She looked at Ranma reprovingly "You're not going to do that to me, are you?"

    Ranma looked thoughtful.  "Well…"  Ranma noticed Akane's glare.  "No, no, just kidding.  But the motivation was doing you good.  Another couple of weeks of this and you might be able to pull off the Chestnut fist."

    Akane blinked.  "Really?"

    Ranma nodded.  "Really."

    Akane looked at her fiancee, and nodded with determination.  "OK, Ranma, let's do it, whatever it takes, I'll do."

    Ranma nodded back.  "I'm not going to go easy on you."

    Akane grinned.  "That's just the way I like it."

    They both held straight faces for several long seconds.  Then Akane started to giggle.  Ranma started to chuckle.  In moments they were both laughing uproariously.

    Johnathon Dwire walked into the Dojo.  "Hey, what did I miss?"  When Ranma and Akane finished laughing neither one was able to explain it to Johnathon.  He shrugged.  "Never mind.  I thought this afternoon might be a good time to get that kitten, don't you?"

    Ranma nodded.  "Yeah, we should get going before the pet stores close!"

    Johnathon nodded back.  "Take Kasumi with you.  I'm sure she'd like to help pick it out.  Me, I've got to do some work.  I have to prepare a test for the final.  Finals are coming up soon you know."

    Akane nodded at that.  "Alright, Johnathon, we'll be home in a few hours."

    Johnathon smiled.  "Good, dinner will be ready by seven, OK?"

    They nodded and headed for the house to get Kasumi.  Johnathon followed, heading for the room he shared with Kasumi.  After everyone had left, Johnathon brought his paperwork down to the living room, and went to the phone.  He dialed up a phone number he knew well.

    Shampoo answered.  "Cat Cafe, how may I help you?"

    Johnathon smiled to himself.  "One Ramen, the Tendo Dojo, Shampoo."

    Johnathon heard Shampoo's sudden intake of breath, then she replied.  "Yes, one Ramen.  Be right over!"  He hung up the phone and continued working on his paperwork in the living room.

    Before long Shampoo came in by the back door, delivery box in one hand.  "One order Ramen, Johnathon-san.  But takeout order not why Johnathon call Shampoo right?"

    He nodded.  "That's correct, Shampoo.  I called to ask for your help."

    Shampoo nodded happily.  "Shampoo owe Johnathon, owe Kasumi, debt of honor.  What can Shampoo do?"

    Johnathon smiled gratefully at the purple haired Chinese girl.  "In a forest called Ryogensawa, here in Japan, there are springs, one spring at least, of water called the water of life."

    Shampoo nodded again, eagerly.  "Water of life maybe cure Full Body Cat's Tongue, right?"

    Johnathon blinked.  < She thought of that pretty fast.>  "Correct, that is my hope.  I would ask you to go to Ryogensawa.  The forest has its guardians.  A young man named Shinosike and his grandfather.  Go to them and request the water of life."

    Shampoo nodded once again.  "I do as asked."

    Johnathon held up his hand.  "Be careful, Shampoo.  Ryogensawa is dangerous.  It is filled with giant animals and traps for them.  There is also supposed to be an eight headed dragon sleeping there.  So be very careful."

    Shampoo nodded calmly.  "Shampoo will.  Shampoo return with water, no worry!"

    Johnathon brought out a map.  "Here are directions to the home of the guardians of the forest of Ryogensawa.  Be careful."  He repeated, looking slightly guilty.  Shampoo either missed the look or ignored it.

    She took the map and headed for the door.  "Shampoo leave in morning.  No worry!  Shampoo happy to visit forest!  Shampoo return, three, four days."  The Amazon girl bounded away.

    Johnathon watched her go.  "Be safe, Shampoo."  < I hope this is the right thing to do... I hope it works.>  Unnoticed by Johnathon, a shadowy figure had listened in on their conversation and now followed after Shampoo.

    As he chased her the eavesdropper realized that Johnathon must have had another reason for sending Shampoo to Ryogensawa.  < He plans on her falling for the guardian of the spring.  But that boy won't do.  I can think of one that will.>

    When Shampoo returned to the Cat Cafe, Cologne was waiting for her.  "So, great granddaughter, what did Johnathon Dwire wish to speak to you about?"

    Shampoo sighed.  < I can't fool great grandmother.>  "Shampoo going to forest of Ryogensawa to get water of life."

    Cologne nodded.  < I see, he intends for Shampoo to meet other strong male outsiders.  The water of life is not a cure for shiatsu points.>  "I will permit it, great granddaughter."

    Shampoo bowed.  "Thank you Elder."

    Cologne turned and pogoed away.  < It may not work, it most likely will not work. Never-the-less, good try, Johnathon Dwire.  At the worst, Shampoo will get some useful training, at the same time as impressing the son-in-law with her helpfulness.  United against the "old ghoul" perhaps they will grow closer.>  She sighed.  < It matters not.  If this doesn't work, what will they try next?>  Cologne entered her room.  < Ranma will be forced to marry Shampoo, or another will be found.  The only one they will despise is me.  I have been hated before, I am old, it does not matter.>

    Outside the Cat Cafe, Happosai schemed.  < Cologne is the one who took my strength.  I'll never get it back from her myself.  I can't beat her like this and I won't be able to steal the chart. Cologne will be expecting me.  The only way to get the chart is to get someone else to get the chart for me.  Shampoo-chan's trip to meet the guardian of Ryogensawa gives me an idea.>  He cackled softly to himself.  < And I know just who can pull it off.>  The old pervert ran off, his plans set.  All he needed was the patsy.

    Johnathon pushed the papers into a pile as he heard the front door open.  Ranma and Akane walked into the living room all smiles.  Akane let Kasumi down from her perch in Akane's arms. Kasumi walked to her husband's side and meowed, looking back at Ranma.  Ranma had a tiny black ball curled up in the crook of one arm.  He held his other hand protectively over its back.

    Johnathon peered up at the little ball of fur.  "Black?  You know, people who don't know better will think its Kasumi's."

    Ranma chuckled as he sat carefully down so as not to disturb his passenger.  "I hadn't thought of that.  The little fellow does kind of look like Kasumi, doesn't he?"  Ranma gently deposited the tiny kitten on the table.  Taken from its comfortable perch the little black kitten yawned and stretched.  It was almost unbearably cute.

    Johnathon smiled at the kitten.  "Kasumi picked it out?"

    Akane nodded, grinning.  "Yup, I think she likes it because it looks like you did when you turned into a normal cat."

    Kasumi put her paw to her cheek in a classic Kasumi gesture.  < Oh my.>

    Akane laughed.  "Caught you, didn't I sis!"  Kasumi nodded and meowed.

    Johnathon chuckled.  "I was never that cute.  So, what are you going to name him?"

    Ranma laughed.  "I bet Akane want's to name him C-chan.

    Akane got a little red.  "I was not!"  She mumbled to herself.  "Besides, what's wrong with C-chan?"

    Johnathon checked his watch.  "Well, I'd better get started on supper."

    Akane petted the kitten and looked at Ranma.  "Ranma, why don't we spar some more tonight?"

    Ranma nodded.  "Alright Akane."  He looked at Kasumi.  "Can you take care of the kitten, Kasumi?"  She nodded.  "Great!  Lets go, Akane!"

    The two teenagers went into the Dojo, leaving the kitten with Kasumi.  It looked around slowly, and started to explore.  The kitten started to head directly for Johnathon's English papers.

    Kasumi blinked.  < Oh no, that won't do.>

    She jumped up on the table and headed the kitten off.  It bumped into Kasumi's side and looked up at her with wide eyes.

    The kitten made a small sound.  "Me."  It sounded like a question.

    Kasumi gently guided the kitten away from the papers with her body.  It was content to walk by her side till they reached the end of the table.  The drop wasn't far, but the kitten was still quite young.  It regarded the edge warily.

    Kasumi pondered the problem.  < I shouldn't leave the kitten up on the table, but how do I get it down?>  Kasumi remembered seeing a mother cat pick up a kitten by the scruff of the neck, so she tried it.  Kasumi gingerly mouthed the back of the kittens neck.  She found it simple enough to gather a large fold of skin in her mouth.

    She bit down carefully.  < I think this is how.  I don't think I'm hurting him.>  Kasumi lifted slowly and the kitten came off the table.  It made a curious little "mew" sound but didn't seem like it was in distress.  Kasumi walked to the edge of the table and dropped off, careful to keep the kitten safe.  She landed with a slight effort and gently put the kitten down.  < It would be nice to have hands right now, but I believe I did that correctly.>  The kitten looked up at her and meowed clearly with an approving tone.  It sat up and gave her a tentative lick on the chin, then ran off, heading for the enticing sounds and smells of the kitchen.  Kasumi went after it, starting to enjoy her "mother cat" role.

    The phone rang in the hall and Kasumi watched Johnathon come out of the kitchen to get it. The kitten went into the kitchen as he left it, and Kasumi started to follow.  Before she entered the kitchen Johnathon answered the phone.

    "Hello?"  Johnathon spoke clearly into the phone as Kasumi started into the kitchen.  Kasumi was surprised to hear him switch over to English.  "You're speaking to him, mother."  He said into the phone, and Kasumi stopped to listen, concentrating to understand his words.  Kasumi had not practiced her English as much as she had wanted to recently, but she recognized the word "mother".

    Johnathon was listening to the phone and Kasumi started toward him.  < Johnathon's mother?> As Kasumi listened to Johnathon's end of the phone conversation, she tried to remember what Johnathon had told her about his family.

    Johnathon appeared to be wincing a bit at whatever his mother was saying to him.  "I'm sorry mom, things have been so hectic recently..."  He broke off, listening again.  "Yes mother, four days ago, it was very sudden I admit, but we felt it was the right decision at the time..."  He grimaced.  "I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner, mom, really... Yes, Kasumi Tendo, I told you about her before... Yes she's very nice... Um... No, Kasumi can't... talk right now..."

    Johnathon glanced down and was unsurprised to see his wife at his feet, looking up.  "It's my mother."  He mouthed quietly at her in Japanese, covering the mouthpiece with his hand.  Kasumi nodded and Johnathon concentrated again on the phone.  "Yes, I'm sure Kasumi would like to talk to you but she can't right now.  I'm sure you'll get a chance to talk to her later."  He shook his head wryly.  "Yes I'll tell her."  Johnathon listened a bit longer then spoke again.  "I'll be staying here in Japan, with Kasumi and the Tendos for the present, mom.  I can't ask her to leave her family."

    Johnathon grimaced again.  "I know you miss me.  I miss you too, mom... Yeah... Yeah... I love you too, mom."  Johnathon blinked.  "You want us to visit?  Well, not for awhile, mom.  I have to finish the school year first, then maybe...  Things are kinda tight right now, so I'm not sure when we could come see you..."  Johnathon sighed.  "I'd have to talk to Kasumi first..."  He paused, listening.  "You come here?"  Johnathon thought about his parents in Nerima and shuddered. "No, no, that's alright, you two are too busy to get away for so long.  Why don't we talk about this later, mom.  I'm in the middle of fixing dinner and I think something's starting to burn..."  He listened.  "Yes, I'll call tomorrow... Yes... I love you too... Good bye."

    Johnathon hung up and shook his head.  "I just don't know what I'm going to do about that."  He told Kasumi, switching back to Japanese.  "I'm not sure how much of that you followed, but my folks really want to meet you, Kasumi.  When I told them I might not be able to visit them in America... That we might not be able too that is... Mom suggested that they come visit us here." He shook his head.  "I really don't think that's a good idea."  Kasumi sighed and nodded.  "My folks don't know about the curses, or Jusenkyo, or any of the wilder things that have happened here."  Johnathon informed her.  Kasumi nodded again, remembering him saying as much earlier.

    Johnathon shook his head.  "We can't go see them either, at least until we've gotten you the Phoenix pill."  He squatted down to get closer to her level.  "My mother offered to send us some round trip plane tickets.  After we get you cured, would you like to go visit them in America?" Kasumi nodded and meowed in an affirmative tone.  Johnathon smiled faintly, then sighed. "We'll get that pill, I'm sure we will."  He stood.  "Better get back to the kitchen before..."  There was a loud clang and a crash from the kitchen.  "Before something like that happens!"

    He and Kasumi rushed into the kitchen to see what had happened.  They found the kitten under an apron next to the sink.  Johnathon had left it hanging off the sink with some pots and pans sitting on it, and the kitten had pulled it down, along with the pots and pans.  The kitten crawled out from under the apron, mewing piteously.

    Johnathon shook his head, chuckling.  "Oh my."  He quipped lightly, getting an exasperated sigh out of Kasumi.  She rolled her eyes and went to comfort the kitten while Johnathon picked up the mess.

    In the Dojo, Ranma and Akane had squared off.  Akane looked determined.  "Right then, Ranma, let's begin from where we left off, shall we?"

    Ranma nodded slowly.  "OK, Akane... just say when you've had enough and I'll stop, OK?"

    Akane's eyes narrowed.  < I can handle anything you can throw at me, Ranma.>

    They began to spar.  They started as before, with Ranma slowly picking up speed.  Akane blocked and counter attacked faster and faster to keep up.  They stood only a few feet apart, only moving slightly back and forth, just using their hands.  Ranma would tap Akane, again and again as they built up speed.  It became a game.  Akane had gotten mad the first time, but now that she knew the purpose of the exercise she couldn't stay angry.

    Ranma was getting slowly frustrated.  Akane had reached her old speed, and a fraction more, but she seemed to lack motivation.  < This won't stick if I don't drive it home.  Pops would just hit me hard enough so I'd remember, the pain would remind me.  The old ghoul humiliated me in a different way each time.  The reject stamp, just slapping me around the first time.  But I can't hit Akane, I have to come up with a different way to motivate her, like Cologne did me.>

    Ranma bit his lip.  < She's gonna kill me after this, but it'll be worth it if it works.>  "Hey Akane."  He spoke nonchalantly, never slowing his attack.

    "What?"  She asked, slightly fatigued, but trying to ignore it.

    "What are you wearing under that gi?"  Ranma asked casually.

    Akane's eyes widened.  "WHAT?"

    Ranma's hands went for the neck of her gi, the the shoulders, then her belt, then again and again, faster and faster.  < It's working.>  He observed.  < Akane's reached a whole new level of speed.  Let's see how fast she can go.>

    Ranma assumed a lecherous grin copied from Happosai as he managed to tug the top of her gi open with a yank.  Akane started to glow faintly again, and Ranma kept pushing, going for his top chestnut fist speed.  He tugged at her belt, then the front of her gi, then her belt again.  Akane felt her belt come off after several dozen tugs by Ranma, she couldn't stop to grab it because she had to stop him from opening her gi.

    Akane was getting incredulous.  < How far is he going to take this?>  She started counter attacking, trying to drive Ranma back while still protecting her clothing.  "Ranma, you, you, pervert!"  Akane growled the words menacingly, but didn't shout.

    Ranma had opened the front of her gi top up all the way and its flapping was slowing her down a tiny bit.  Akane started escalating things, shooting a knee, then a kick at her infuriating fiancee. He moved inside her guard and pulled the shoulders of her gi down.  Akane was wearing a white tee shirt underneath.  It was soaked with sweat and pulled to accentuate her curves.  The gi was trapping her arms now, Ranma had moved in and was pulling it down.  Akane went for a leg sweep and missed.  Ranma countered and Akane dropped to the floor.  She rolled away, leaving Ranma holding the empty garment.

    Ranma tossed Akane's gi top to the side and went into a defensive stance.  < Ah man, Akane's gonna murder me.>  He couldn't help but stare a bit at her heaving chest.  The sweat made the material of her tee-shirt transparent in places.  Her bare arms, toned with muscle, her wild hair, the wide look in her eyes, and the ribbon of skin between her gi bottoms and her tee-shirt.  < She's so... sexy...>  In self defense Ranma upped the stakes.  "You're still too slow, Akane.  Is that all you got?"

    Akane growled and came at him in a rush.  "I'm not beaten yet, Ranma!"

    The pig tailed martial artist danced away, blocking and counter attacking.  < Alright, she's really going now, but she's still holding back something...>  Ranma grinned again, predatorily. "So, what color panties are you wearing?"

    His hands blurred, going for her waist.  With the warning, Akane began parrying and blocking frantically.  Ranma caught the drawstring of her pants and pulled it loose, and Akane's speed increased again.  Ranma matched her increase in speed once more, changing targets.  In an instant Akane felt her tee-shirt pulled up tight underneath her breasts.  Then when she tried to defend that, her pants were pulled loose.  Akane fought to defend both but was loosing ground quickly.

    Akane felt a chill of remembrance.  < No.>  When Ranma had gone cat, she couldn't stop him. She had been so very afraid.  < No, not again.>

    Ranma executed a tight series of attacks, expecting at least some of them to be blocked.  None of them were.  In an instant, Akane's shirt was up over her head, her pants were falling down around her knees, and he had even opened the hook that held her bra closed.  Akane fell back with a small frightened cry and Ranma froze, horrified.

    Ranma had stopped dead at Akane's quiet shriek.  < Oh no, I went too far... way, way to far.> Akane had hit the Dojo floor on her rear end, frantically freeing her arms to defend herself, and coincidentally tossing her tee-shirt to the side.  Her bra dropped to the floor behind her and Akane kicked her legs free as well in her fit of terror.

    Akane froze a second later.  < What am I doing?  Ranma's not going to hurt me, that's when he was a cat.>  Akane belatedly covered her breasts with her arms, then took several deep breaths.

    Ranma stepped toward her.  "Akane..."

    She involuntarily scuttled away.  "No!  Stay back!  I..."  Akane fought the urge to curl up into a ball.  < He was a cat, he didn't know.  He was a cat, he wasn't in control.>  She controlled her breathing and looked up.  Ranma was gone.  "Oh damn!"  Akane shot to her feet.  "Ranma wait!" Akane rushed to her gi pants and shucked them on, then grabbed her gi top, pulling it on in mid run.  She stopped just long enough to grab her belt and took off looking for him.  "Ranma!  Come back!  Ranma!"  Akane cursed to herself.  < What an idiot.  How could he get so carried away? How come I didn't stop him?  How could I have panicked like that?>  Akane headed for the river.  < Ranma will be there.  He's got to be there!>

    Akane started to calm down as she ran.  < Why did I panic?  I knew Ranma would stop as soon as I said to.  I let him take it as far as he did.  Part of me wanted him to... take it further.>  She sighed.  < It started to remind me of that last night that he went cat.  He wanted to... mate.  He was going to... rape me, but Johnathon stopped him.  I've never told anyone about how scared I was. When Ranma came back, I turned him back into a guy, and let him... have me.  To fight that fear, in part.  Mostly it was to save Johnathon, and to bring Ranma back to himself.  Partly it was because I wanted it.  But part was to deny the fear, the fear that's still in me.>  Akane reached the river and spotted Ranma.  She was female, sitting in the river, not moving at all.

    Akane plunged in after her fiancee, her love, and grabbed on to the smaller girl.  "Ranma, it's OK.  Ranma, you didn't hurt me, don't worry."  Akane pulled the red headed girl out of the river.

    Ranma turned her face away.  "Akane, I'm so sorry, I went too far, way too far.  I know you must hate me now and I don't blame you."

    Akane pulled the smaller girl around to face her.  "Hate you?  Don't be ridiculous."

    Ranma couldn't look at her.  "Akane, I... I..."  Akane grabbed Ranma's head, and kissed her violently to quiet her protests.  Ranma froze in shock.  Slowly she returned the kiss.  Akane hugged Ranma to her.  Finally, Akane broke the kiss.

    Ranma was speechless, so Akane spoke for her.  "I could have called it off any time, Ranma, so it's not your fault.  I just... panicked a bit at the end, that's not your fault either."  < In a way, it was, but I can't tell him that now.>

    Ranma started to protest.  "Akane, I went too far.  I should have called it off... I..."

    Akane looked the smaller girl in the eye.  "Oh stop that, or I'll kiss you again."  Ranma paused then looked at Akane incredulously.

    Slowly the red haired girl murmured.  "Then maybe I shouldn't stop..."  Akane and Ranma both blushed bright red.

    Ranma started to pull guiltily away but Akane held on.  "Ranma, I..."

    Ranma blushed brighter and started struggling.  "A-Akane!  We're both girls right now, and someone could see us and..."

    Akane reluctantly let go.  "Ranma, don't run away from me, please.  Don't run away again."

    Ranma nodded.  "I won't Akane."

    Akane shivered.  "We'd better get back for dinner.  We've both got to change clothes."

    Ranma suddenly noticed something.  "Um, Akane, did you leave your tee-shirt in the Dojo?"

    Akane's eyes went wide.  "And my bra!  If someone goes in there...!"  They both turned and sprinted for the Tendo Dojo.  When they arrived, the Dojo was as they had left it.  Akane breathed a sigh of relief and picked up her tee-shirt and bra.  She looked at Ranma.  "I figured out what you were doing, Ranma.  You were motivating me like Cologne did you, right?"

    The red head nodded, sheepishly putting her hand behind her head.  "Heh, not exactly like that, but yeah, mostly."

    Akane pretended to look shocked.  "Don't tell me you and Cologne..."

    Ranma wasn't pretending his own shock.  'No!  No no no!  With that ghoul?  I..."

    Akane was giggling.  "So just with me."  He nodded.  Akane continued blithely.  "So you only try to strip me naked, not any other girls."

    Ranma nodded.  "Right.... No!  That's not it!  I mean..."

    Akane hid her smile.  "So you've stripped other girls too?"

    Ranma was panicking.  "No!  No, that's not what I meant!  Just you!  I mean it was training and, and..."

    Akane grinned mischivieously at him.  "And?"

    Ranma sighed, realizing finally that Akane was baiting him.  "And it got out of hand, but it was working.  You got lots faster."

    Akane smiled at that.  "Really?  I did?"

    Ranma nodded, starting to calm down.  "Oh yeah!  When I started to strip..."  She blushed. "Um, when you got some motivation, you really poured it on, really."

    Akane shook her head.  "So you're planning to train other people this way?  With proper motivation?"

    Ranma turned red.  "Um, I did go overboard with that, way overboard.  Akane, I got carried away, I'm sorry."

    Akane nodded.  "Apology accepted.  I don't mind, Ranma, not really.  I have to say I'll never forget this sparring session though."  She paused and spoke quietly.  "Ranma... until we resolve things with Shampoo, we can't get married, but... I don't want to lose you, OK?  If you have to marry Shampoo, to save Kasumi and her..."  Akane paused.  "I won't give up on you, I can't, Ranma, I love you."

    Ranma sighed.  "I know.  I won't give up either, Akane.  I... I love you too, OK?"  They stood silently for several long moments.

    From inside the house Johnathon's voice called out.  "Akane, Ranma, dinner!"  They both turned with a start.

    Ranma looked at Akane.  "The run back got us dry, mostly.  I'll go first and you can dress and follow."

    Akane nodded and Ranma headed for the living room.  Akane quickly removed her gi and put her bra and tee-shirt back on before pulling her gi top on again.  She then hurried into the house. Johnathon didn't bat an eye when Ranma walked in female.

    Johnathon didn't comment on Akane's slightly disheveled appearance either, although he did notice.  < That must have been some training session!>  Kasumi was showing the kitten how to eat out of a bowl.

    It was hesitant and ate very little, but Kasumi wasn't worried.  < He's still young.  We'll see in a few days.>  Johnathon noticed the kittens hesitation and small intake.

    He looked at Ranma.  "The kitten is still pretty young.  Perhaps it still needs to be bottle fed."

    Akane looked at the kitten.  "I'll do it, but we don't have a bottle.  I'll buy one tomorrow I guess."

    Johnathon nodded.  "The kitten will be fine for tonight I think."  He looked down at it.  "Where will he sleep?"  Johnathon wondered aloud.

    Ranma glanced at the kitten.  "Is it too young to sleep on my futon with me?"

    Johnathon shook his head.  "I don't see why not."  Kasumi nodded in agreement.  Johnathon looked around the table.  "So, has anyone thought of a name yet?"

    Dinner went quietly.  Ranma and Akane went upstairs to study and Johnathon did some more paperwork before heading up to bed.  As usual, Kasumi followed him upstairs and joined him on the bed.  As he climbed beneath the covers she came over to his face.  Kasumi gave his cheek a lick.

    Johnathon petted her head.  "Do you like the kitten?"  Kasumi nodded and meowed pleasantly. "I'm glad.  Want to talk?"  Kasumi shook her head and moved closer, then rubbed her head against his cheek.  "Feeling affectionate tonight?"  Kasumi purred and pressed her side along his cheek and neck.  He gently stroked her back.  Kasumi's purr deepened, and she slowly pulled herself along the line of his body to his chest.  Johnathon's voice was soft.  "Kasumi?"  She stopped and turned to face him.

    Johnathon looked down at her.  Kasumi sighed deeply and cuddled up against his chest, facing him.  Johnathon sighed in response.  He lay a hand lightly on her.  They fell asleep like that. Johnathon conscious of her soft fur against his skin.  Kasumi listening to his heart beat as she slipped away to sleep.

                                            End pt 30.
 

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