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[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]
Bridging the Gap

By Lord Archive

Characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi and a bunch of companies and are
used without consent.

This occurs the same day as the final panel of Manga volume 38.


Ranma was not pleased with the idea to return to school. He knew the
other students would grill him about events of the wedding fiasco and
whether anything else happened between him and Akane. Not to mention
questions about what happened in China.

Akane, however, looked happy to go to school. She was also nervous,
but the rumor horde was enough to make anyone nervous.

Ranma and Akane grabbed their books bags and were ready to leave for

"Akane, I'm sure the school'll understand if we don't go today."

"Ranma, we'll have to face them sooner or later, so running away won't
do anything," Akane replied with a nervous smile.

"Hey, I don't run away from anything." Ranma turned and ran out of the

Akane shook her head and chased after him. <Then don't run away from
this. Oh, please let this work.>

Kasumi smiled as she watched them leave, also giving the same silent
prayer Akane did. She picked up the phone and dialed a number.

---------------------------------------------------------- -----------

"Ranma, will you stop for a moment?" Akane screamed at Ranma as he ran
over a bridge.

"What is it?" Ranma asked, stopping.

"Follow me for a second," Akane ordered.

Ranma raised an eyebrow. "I thought you wanted to go to school."

"This is more important."

Ranma shrugged and followed her under the bridge. "So, why did you
want me to follow?"

Akane took a deep breath. "Ranma, could you sit down? I think we need
to talk."

"Talk?" Ranma asked, surprised.

"I know it's a foreign concept to us, but we really need to talk. You
know, talk about the failed wedding and China."

Ranma looked REAL uncomfortable, but nodded.

Akane nervously said, "I-I think we need a few ground rules though:
First, avoid insulting. Second, avoid hitting. Third, it is preferable
to think about answers before responding. Forth, do not interrupt when
the other person is speaking. These rules apply to me as well as you."

Ranma could tell Akane had put a lot of thought into it, as those
rules sounded like Nabiki had come up with them. "F-fair enough,"
Ranma said nervously after a moment. He sat against the slanted
underside of the bridge.

Akane stood in front of him, looking at her fidgeting hands as her
resolve started to fade. "Um, Ranma, I want you to know that... when I
was in China and became that... dehydrated doll... I was... aware
of... what was going on... I knew you all thought I... was dead... I
heard Ryoga crying... I heard how upset Mousse was... I didn't hear
you... I heard Ryoga trying to help you... but you wouldn't respond...
I heard him hit you... you didn't respond... It was like... you died."

Akane looked at Ranma with tears in her eyes. Ranma was very
uncomfortable and at a loss of words.

Akane continued, "I... I've only seen... someone... act like that...
once." She sighed. "It... it was my father... when... Mom died... He
just... shut himself off... He was... emotionally... dead... It took
over a week for Kasumi to get him out of it."

Akane shut her eyes tightly. "Ranma... I can't deny it anymore... and
you shouldn't either... I know you... love me... Your reaction was not
of someone who lost a friend... It was of someone who... lost...
someone they... love more than life itself."

Akane opened her eyes to see Ranma staring at her, unmoving. She stood
there wanting him to say something. Akane heard Shampoo calling out
for Ranma and heard Ryoga scream his usual question. Neither she nor
Ranma made an attempt to move to let them know of their presence.
After a half-hour Ranma moved, he started to stare at the ground.

"Ranma?" Akane asked, tentatively. When she didn't get a response, she
sat down next to him. She wanted a response from him, but her sisters
told her to let him think.

Akane was startled when she heard Ranma mutter an hour later, "If you
had died... I'd be an emotion wreck like Mr. Tendo." He shook his

"Something like that."

Ranma blinked, he was unaware he actually said it. "I doubt it. There
is no way anyone could make me that way," he said defensively.

Akane shook her head. "You shouldn't deny it. You might have been
able to recover better than daddy did, but you did emotionally die. I
know you were crying when it was discovered I was still alive. And, I
know you tried to say I love you when you thought I died that second

Ranma remained silent for a moment, "Would you react the same way I

"I-I'm not entirely sure. I might. I know enough that I'd risk my life
for you without a second thought, because I have."

"Did ya really want to marry me?"

"Ranma, I did put on the wedding dress."

"Did you do it just because of the Nanniichaun or because you think I
love you?"

"Think? Why can't you just admit?" Akane started to get angry.

"Why can't you?" Ranma returned.

"Because I want you to say it first!"

"What? You don't want to be able to say you said it first?"

"FINE! Ranma, I love you! Now you admit it!" Akane said, angrily.

"I love you, too." Ranma smirked.

Akane blinked. She had promised herself to make him say it first, but
he got her to. "Why did you... why did you want me to say it first?"

"I think we've been playing sort of the same game. We were going to
wait until the other said it first."

Akane playfully hit Ranma in shoulder. "Baka, you were going to put
your pride over admitted your love."

"You were doing that too. And you just broke two of your rules." Ranma
smiled. "Besides, you both won and lost. You lost because I got you to
say it first and won for being able to say you said it first."

Akane smiled, "I'll take any victory over you I can." She sighed. "What
do we do now though? You still have too many fiancees, and I... sort
of... wanttomarryyousoon."

Ranma blinked. "Um, ah, why?"

"Er, well, its just that... with the way your life is... your next
adventure could be your last... or mine. If we don't get married soon,
we might never get married."

Ranma shook his head. "Akane, I d-do want to m-m-marry you... but I'm
not ready. That is why I never really did anything about the other
fiancees. With the unresolved problems, they shouldn't have tried to
get us married."

Akane laughed. "How much different would marrying me be? You already
have to answer to me when you do something stupid. You protect my
family from harm. The only difference I see... is, um, where you
sleep." Akane's face was now bright red.

Ranma blushed too. After several moments Ranma asked, "But what about
the increased responsibilities?"

"We won't exactly be on our own. Kasumi will help care for the house
and train me to be a good wife. Not to mention that based off current
funds of the Tendo estate we have years to go before money is a

"What about... children?" Ranma was blushing bright red.

Akane's face once again took a crimson shade. "We'll use birth
control. I'm not exactly eager to have children as that would cause us
to have a lot of responsibilities, not to mention we're both still in
high school."

After a long moment, Ranma said, "Let me think about it... I-I'm still
not sure."

"Don't make me wait too long." Akane sighed. "At least let's work on
how to handle your fiancee problem. It'll hurt them more if we don't."

Ranma nodded.

"Good. Let's go back home and start working on some ideas."

"But if we go home... won't our parents be there."

"Sure they are, but they already know what we've said."

"W-what?" Ranma stammered, shocked.

"I was talking to Kasumi about my idea of talking to you... and Nabiki
somehow found out and helped work out the details. I got them to keep
our parents home, but I would not be surprised if everything we said
was taped and played for them."

"Just great. Why can't we have any privacy?"

Akane sighed. "I wish we could have some privacy, but with how nosy
our family is, we're going to have to learn to ignore them."

"Even when we..." Ranma's face turned red, again.

Akane blushed again, "We'll have to set some rules against them being
nosy about THAT. Nabiki will get some rather aggressive martial arts
training if she even tries to take a picture."

Ranma sighed. "Okay, let's go. We have a lot of work ahead of us."

"We certainly do." Akane smiled.

Ranma and Akane left for home, to plan a future for the two of them.