Important:It’s the second to the last chapter!^___^Yea!!!* jumps up and down*

Disclaimer -A form of appreciation for Rumiko Takahashi-sama for all sentimentality shared between fans and the like because of Ranma Nibun No Ichi.

Chapter 10-Just To See Your Smiling Face

“I’ll never accept defeat!!!!” I screamed as I entered the kitchen again.“That jerk will eat my cooking if it’s the last thing he does!”

Kasumi was at the doorway smiling.“You’re so determined, Akane!That’s good.Keep on going with the bridal training.”

My father, who was behind her, was bawling.“Someday, my little girl will have a cure…”

Mr. Saotome, who was to the left of my father, lifted up a sign that said, “Just keep on, Akane-chan.”

Then, Kasumi onee-chan closed the kitchen door before her.And I was alone with P-chan to compose my thoughts and calm down.

“Always!”I sighed and looked out the window.“That dummy.”

“Bwee, bwee,” P-chan squealed in agreement.

I turned around to P-chan.Then I picked him up from the counter.“I was just making a welcome home dinner since you came back.You haven’t been here for months!And you said it was good…”

“Bwee!” He nodded.

“…so I thought I had improved too.”I put him back on the counter and gathered all my ingredients again.“I’ll try my best again, I guess.Mm-hmm.”

I kissed P-chan on the forehead.“I will!”

As I looked back and forth at the ingredients, I let out a little breath of relief.About three times, I checked the ingredients while P-chan walked around them.

It was only six days since then.I couldn’t believe it had only been six days since I had sat on our roof thinking that things were okay because it had seemed I did it so long ago.

To other people, it might seem, “Oh, only six days?Almost a week?”But that wasn’t in my case and that will never hold for this household.As I said, things happened everyday, from hour to hour, from second to second.If someone wasn’t running around, I was the one who was hitting Ranma on the head or other.Something was always happening.

Six days were normal workdays for others.For us, it meant another day of mayhem, another day of chaos, another day of ‘what kind of fortune and misfortune will happen today?’I laughed cheerfully.“Hey, at least we’re never bored.”

I thought aloud as I looked at my watch,“Gee, it’s already 11 o’clock and Ranma hasn’t come home yet, P-chan.” 

“Remember,” I said to P-chan while we were touching head-to-head, “if you think I’m putting something wrong, squeal as loud as you can to warn me, okay?”

“Bwee!”He was somewhat squealing and humming to himself.

I smiled to myself.I can do this.I can really do this.I can cook if I really wanted to!

So, I rolled up my sleeves as they began to drop below my elbow.I looked at the ingredients and carefully put one at a time.

“I’ve been trying so hard…”

I know I’m not the world’s greatest cook and I know I hit you all the time, but why don’t you ever give me some kind of chance?

“Bwee!!!!”

“Ah!!!”I looked at the bowl in front of me.“Have to change bowls and start again.”

As I mixed the ingredients correctly this time, I couldn’t help but imitate Kasumi onee-chan.She had always been the great cook.She always had the talent for these kinds of things.I wish I did also, but I didn’t.That’s why I always asked for her help.

I smiled to myself.“She’s the only one who ever really encourages me to do anything I’ve really wanted to do.Like the play…”

She always encouraged me.Because she knew I looked up to her, she had to be the role model.Dad couldn’t do that anymore.He just cried at everything now.Somehow, I couldn’t blame him.Having all of us and freeloading guests and not to mention his perverted ‘master’…

I laughed at that.“Then again, she got the ‘overreacting trait’ from Dad because mom was never really fazed by things like that.I was the tomboy who got hurt all the time.”

P-chan just sat there quietly on the counter listening and watching me at the same time.I patted his head as I walked past him to get a pan from a cupboard on the other side of the kitchen.

“A pan…” Nabiki.I sighed.She could care less about ‘menial task and such’ as she would put it.As far as I knew, she had always been like that.Money this, interest there.I mean, come on!She’s sold my pictures.Her own sister!I thought she knew where to draw the line, but not anymore…

I’m a little disappointed, but who wouldn’t?She may be my own sister, but sometimes, I think she should look after someone else’s feelings for a change.Then again, she does care, in her own way.

I put P-chan on my lap and hugged him after putting the pan of mix into the oven.I sat there just hugging him with my head softly on his own.Quietly, I watched the oven.

Shampoo and Ukyou, they had talents too. They were good martial artists and cooks.I felt kind of left out at times.I sometimes felt that the people around me had talent that could be seen and I couldn’t see my own.

I knew also, sometimes, I was no match for them.But, my stubborn pride wouldn’t ever let me show otherwise.Like the first time Shampoo and I were ‘supposed’ to fight and then she did that amnesia shiatsu on me, she won that time.It wasn’t easy dealing with each of them, but I did.One day they were helpful, the other they were trying to get me out of their way for a chance of getting closer to Ranma.I always had mixed feelings about everything, especially them.

In the end, it would be, “Ukyou’s his best friend” or “Shampoo’s grandmother always has a plan…”

Just like Kunou.He always wanted me to go out with him.But doesn’t he ever get the hint?No.He won’t and will never get the point.I did not hate him for it, but I had been too disgusted at the hardship he gave me.Fighting every boy who wanted to date me and everything before and after that.

He would never catch the obvious hint that was in front of him.Never.Just like Ranma.

“Ryouga…”He was the only person that I’d come to trust the most among all of them.I trusted Ranma, of course, but Ryouga, he listened to me.Sure, he overreacted to things and he was a little too sensitive, but he always looked out for my best interests.And I had really appreciated that being his friend.

P-chan perked up his head and looked at me.“Bwee?”

“I can always trust Ryouga.”I looked away from the oven and let my eyes wander around the room.

Ranma got me into trouble.Nothing was ever the same again ever since he showed up on our doorstep.Nothing at all.

My life changed ever since I had become his fiancée.Both good and bad things happened to me.In the end, they came out good but still, the changes seemed like a roller coaster that went up and down and seemed never-ending.

Forced to marry someone I didn’t even know.But, I had come to know him over the course of time.I knew my family, this whole family I meant, by now.

I was associated with all these people through Ranma.Their faces flashed before my head one by one.And I felt comforted and uncertain at the same time.It didn’t make sense, but that’s how I could describe it the best that I can. 

The only question that would remain about Ranma was what he felt about everything…and…about me.I wished, at times, that he would just take things seriously for a change.

Maybe I never let him.

Maybe I never give you a chance to explain anything, but I’ve put up with a lot of things.And you’ve learned to deal with my family and especially me.It hasn’t been easy through these few years, but I am…but I don’t blame…I…

I don’t know how to say it.

“Ranma, you dummy.”I wiped a tear away.It really did surprise me that I had even started to get teary-eyed.

“Ah man, what did I do this time?!”Ranma stepped into the kitchen with his hand on his head.“I still have a bump because you beat me up.”

“Oh, hey Mr. P.”He waved and stood at the now open door.

“Sit down please.” 

He sat down on the seat I had just got out from.I took out the pan from the oven and placed it on the counter in front of him.

Ranma looked at me and then he looked at the hot pan.Again, he looked at me.“You want me to eat this?”

I nodded.

“We all know you-“

There were tears on my face.“You inconsiderate idiot!”

And so, I got out a little hammer to smash the bump already there.“I tried so hard for you!!!”

Our eyes darted at each other’s.We both blushed.

He looked down again at the cake before him and gulped with uncertainty all over his eyes.“O-okay.Just for the record, I a’int doing this for you, it’s cuz-“

“Just shut up and eat it already, you idiot.”I laughed and smiled at him while shaking my head with encouragement.

He blushed more as he looked at me.Then, he shook his head and took a bite.

My heart beat fast.All sorts of things ran through my head:“Did I do it right this time?Why did I blurt that out?P-chan was my cooking warning bell this time.Why do I try so hard for you?Oh, what if it came out wrong again?”

Ranma chewed and swallowed it slowly.He put his head down; then he looked me straight in the eye.“I remember this taste…”

I walked over next to him and folded my hands.“How was it?I made a mistake, didn’t I?I knew I should-”

“No,” he interrupted.He then turned his head and looked at me.With a tap, he poked my forehead.“It tastes really good.It doesn’t look like it, but it does.”

“REALLY?!”I smiled and all of my emotions came into a confused commotion inside of me.And since I was so excited, without thinking, I found myself quickly kissing his forehead.

We both blushed furiously while looking up and down at each other.

“Sorry…”I backed away from him.“I did get the recipe from your mom and she said it was your favorite cake, though, when you were little.But I did combine half of the recipe with ingredients from one of my mom’s own cakes.”

Ranma shook his head. “That’s why it tasted that way.”

Silence.

“Th-Thanks, Akane…” Ranma looked at his fingers while fidgeting with them.He then looked into my direction with a soft expression in his eyes.

At that moment, for the first time in my life, while leaning his elbow on the counter and laying his tilted head on his palm, he smiled at me.

I was taken aback by how this had all taken place.In my mind, it happened so gracefully and in slow motion.

I blushed and looked away.

He had both thanked me and smiled at me at the same time…

Both of our parents, their master, and my sisters came into the kitchen by then.They had smelled it from upstairs.And so, they each took pieces of the cake and ate.I leaned on one arm and smiled at P-chan as I fed him with a small fork.

They were all smiling.I was so proud of myself…

But, as I watched them and went back to feeding P-chan, I felt like Ranma and I were the only ones in the room.He sat there eating more cake happily.And I couldn’t help but think about the person across me willingly stuffing his face with my own cooking.

I then took a moment to watch him eat while he tried to avoid my glance.

With an adorable and sincere face, you gave the sweetest smile 

I had ever seen in my whole life; 

It was the first one you ever gave to me, Ranma…

I…

I think I understand now about everything between people in my life and especially about us.

I peered at everyone in the room again.

Again, I looked into Ranma’s direction.I could actually finish my thought now without frustration.Now, I could put it into words.

I felt as if I were again on the roof six days ago with the cold wind caressing my body tenderly while hugging my knees.

This one thing you’ll always misunderstand about me:

Things as they are…

are how they should be…

“Always,” 

I whispered softly to myself.

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Author’s note:I know, I know.It’s ooc, but that’s okay.I like it.And it works.

But now, I’m at a dilemma.I don’t know whether to make this the ending or not.Then again, how can it be Ranma ½ without Ranma’s perception on his own situation?

Oh well, I will just proceed as I had planned.But it was quite difficult to see whether it would be Ranma and Akane to end this fanfic.

This very fanfic was difficult to do and so, please sit back and relax for five minutes as I try to explain or glance over some things.^_^This chapter’s pretty important.

It took me three hours to edit it and three to do a preliminary on it = very long time to do this.^^;;;I know it still seems out of character for Akane (especially the way she thinks here) but then again, it doesn’t.Akane may seem like the typical ‘violent, jealous girl’ she had been stereotyped as, but she is very sensitive.She’s dense, but sometimes, that’s to her advantage.

I wanted to relate all this fanfic’s chapters together by letting you the reader see two sides of the same story and how they both compared and contrasted to how they related to one another.

As it turns out, the more and more I wrote the chapters in general, and after I read the feedback, I put forth characteristics that were once questioned.Or rather, I pushed forth the qualities and mentality that each character had presented most about themselves.Yes, I did make Shampoo more compassionate towards Mousse or Kasumi more worldly than she was portrayed, as someone had described to me about this whole project of mine.But that’s how I thought they would have acted from all the things I had seen and much more, of what I know I wanted to see.Biased, yes, but as part of my personality, I’m supposed to make you think.

So how does this all lead to this chapter?Well, Akane is related to Ranma in a special way that was more than an engagement or feelings.I don’t know how to describe it.But she is definitely a central character and the most important to Ranma himself.This was both a personal and ‘outsider’s view’ of Ranma’s predicament from ‘herself’ as well as how she was related to every single detail of Ranma’s life she was entwined to.

So with that, * bows humbly *thank you for reading so far and listening to my notes.^_^

Any questions or comments?Feel free to e-mail ReiAkane_enju@yahoo.com or AinoTenshi1@hotmail.com

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