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WFY Chapter 1: A Gift For Akane

Waiting For You
A Ranma 1/2 Fanfic By Stiffanie Flores

Disclaimer : Ranma 1/2 and all characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi. This fanfic is written for enjoyment and self-fulfillment purposes only.

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Sunlight streamed in through the window. Pots were cooking on the stove, and Kasumi was humming softly as she chopped up some vegetables. Today was special, so she'd prepared a special breakfast.

Carefully, she set each dish on a plate, and brought them out to the dining room. The table was set. She'd carefully arranged fresh flowers in vases around the house. She'd prepared all of the family's favorite dishes. Everything was set.

It was just about time for everyone to wake up.

A flash of movement caught her eye, and she turned to see Ranma walking out.

He smiled at Kasumi's "Good morning!" and started to do his morning exercises. Kasumi watched him from the dining room. His movements were fluid, his muscles straining, as he performed his katas. But even from the distance, Kasumi could sense the difference in today's training. Ranma's mind was distracted as he mechanically went through the exercises.

Ranma looked up and saw Kasumi's gaze on him. Caught spying, she smiled at him, and went back to the kitchen. When she was gone, Ranma wiped the sweat off his brow, and assumed a lotus position on the ground, the needles of grass tickling his bare feet.

He gazed up at the blue sky, as if beseeching it for guidance. He berated himself for waiting this long. Today was the day, and he hadn't thought of anything yet.

"Good morning!"

Akane stepped out to stand beside him. She was looking down at him and smiling. "Good morning," Ranma replied.

"Akane, breakfast," called out Kasumi's voice. The eldest Tendo sister took her seat at the table as Nabiki, Soun, and Genma-panda came out.

Ranma stood up and followed Akane inside. He took his seat beside her, and reached for the bowls of rice Kasumi held out. Turning to Akane, he handed one to her.

"Thank you." Akane picked up her chopsticks, and began eating.

"Akane, could you run out for some groceries this afternoon?"

Akane nodded at her sister. She swallowed her food and asked, "Sure. Why, are we out of supplies already?"

Kasumi thought for a moment. "I just need some soy sauce, a pound of sugar, a bottle of salad oil..." She broke off, smiling. "I guess I'd better make a list."

"I'll go with you, Akane."

Akane started, looking at Ranma with surprised eyes. "You're coming with me?" she asked. "For real?"

Ranma lowered his eyes, embarrassed. "Yeah, sure. I have to pick up a few things."

*He remembers?* Akane's eyes glowed with happiness.

She was still staring at him, and Ranma shifted awkwardly. "Look, I'm not asking you out or anything, okay? Who'd want to date a stupid tomboy like - oomph!"

Akane punched his face. "Baka," she muttered. *Just great, Akane,* she scolded herself. *Get your hopes up again. As if he'd ever think of anyone besides himself.*

Ranma rubbed his cheek as he stood up. *Violent tomboy. Don't know why I bother to be nice to you.*

Ranma walked back to his room, still angry. She always yelled at him. She never gave him a chance to finish what he was saying before she hit him with her mallet. She never let him explain whenever she found Shampoo or Ukyou in his arms. She always tries to poison him with her cooking - if you can call it that. She calls him a pervert even though most of the times she walks in on him.

*I'm nothing but a sex-changing, free-loading pervert in her eyes. So why the hell do I still put up with all that crap?*

Ranma pushed open the door to his room, and sank down on the floor, staring up at the ceiling. Unbidden, visions of Akane filled his mind. He saw her rushing to him with a kettle of hot water to turn him back to a guy. He imagined her smiling up at him, as they were on their way to school, late as usual. He saw her expressive eyes filled with joy, every time he won a battle, or darkened with sorrow, when she would try to comfort him, every time he lost.

More than anything else, he remembered holding her after battling Saffron in Jyusenkyo, her body still as death. Terror he'd never known filled his heart, as he'd begged her to come back, the tears he couldn't hold back streaming down his cheeks. For the moment he'd thought she was lost to him forever, he'd contemplated living without her, and he couldn't imagine what it would be like without her at his side. For he'd realized it was her he'd lived for, and without her, he couldn't imagine being happy ever again.

For a rare moment, he pushed aside all his delusions and doubts, and let himself face the truth. *Because you like her, you stupid jerk. And the way she smiles at you makes everything worth it.*

Ranma sighed, lying down on his futon. Deep inside, he'd known how he felt for her. Back in Jyusenkyo, it was the first time he'd admitted to himself that he loved her. The words had burst forth from his heart, as the dam he'd built to hide from his feelings broke down with the grief over Akane's near-death. And although she'd agreed to the wedding engineered by their parents, he still wasn't sure how she felt for him.

When she was angry at him, he was sure she hated him. Never needed a reason to, just for simply being himself. He would get so mad at her, when she would blame him for everything that went wrong, even if nothing had been his fault. And he would lash right back at her, saying things he knew would hurt her. Whenever she made him angry, he would forget that he had to be nice to her, as her fiancee. He would forget all those times she seemed so happy when he would do something for her.

He remembered the present Nodoka had asked him to give Akane. He'd thought it was a ring. Heck, everyone thought it was an engagement ring. He'd been terrified thinking of her reaction. He'd thought up ways to give it to her without giving her the impression he was proposing marriage. When she'd finally opened the ring case, and he saw the look in her eyes as she gazed at the plain gold band, he thought she'd never looked more beautiful. She'd looked so happy, at least until they found out it wasn't a ring after all.

So many times he'd seen her look so happy when he did something for her. He glowed inside whenever she smiled at him. Her smile makes him forget he thought she was a stupid, violent, uncute tomboy. Her smile could break down all his defenses and reach inside him to fill him with happiness he'd never known.

He wanted to do something for her. He didn't have much money, nor did he have much time. But he wanted to make her happy, make her smile. Even just for today.

It was her birthday, after all.


*Stupid Ranma.*

Akane walked down the hall to Ranma's room. *Why can't he ever be nice to me? I swear, if he insults me one more time, he's really gonna get it.*

She pushed the door open with a loud swish. Ranma was sitting on the floor, counting the money in his wallet. He looked up as she entered.

He smiled. Akane could forget what a jerk he was, whenever he smiled at her. "Are you coming or not?" she asked, leaning against the door behind her. "'Cause if you're not, I'm leaving right now."

Ranma stood up. "Sure. I'm ready to go now."

Akane turned to leave, when Ranma's voice halted her. "Akane."

She looked at him, surprised. He smiled again. "Happy Birthday, Akane," he told her.

It was like the first rays of sunshine bursting through the darkness. Remnants of her anger faded away. "Thank you, Ranma."

He scratched his head, sheepishly. "Sorry I don't have anything for you. I'm kind of low on cash right now."

She shook her head. "That's okay, Ranma. I'm glad you remembered."

In happy companionship, they left for the mall.


"Ranma, let's go look around for a while, okay?"

He hid his smile. He had counted on this. "Sure, Akane. Whatever you like."

If Akane was suspicious why he was being so nice, she didn't say anything. Together, they strolled through boutiques and gift shops, not really intent on buying something, just for the simple fun of window-shopping.

At least, for Akane. Ranma's thoughts were a different matter. He was hoping to get an idea of what to get her, as he browsed through the shops with her.

Akane didn't even entertain the notion that Ranma might be shopping for a gift for her. She'd accepted what he'd said about being broke for the truth. Ranma always fell victim to Nabiki's scams, so Akane knew most of his money went to Nabiki, one way or the other.

Akane stopped in front of her favorite dress shop. "Let's go in," she told him, and not really waiting for his reply, went in ahead.

Ranma didn't really mind, although being a guy, he felt uncomfortable merely being inside a women's boutique. Even if he did mind, his resolve to be agreeable would silence all his protests.

Ranma stood just inside the door as Akane shuffled through the racks. Casually, he peered at the displays in the store window. A glimmer of light caught his eye, and he saw a pair of crystal swans, their graceful necks joined to form a delicate heart. Even from the distance he could see the magnificent handiwork. He could guess it would cost quite a bundle, too.

"Ranma!" Akane waved at him from the back of the room, holding out a blue silk dress.

Ranma walked to her as she held the dress up against her, smiling. "What do you think?" she asked. The dress came to just above her knees. It was sleeveless, and yellow and blue flowers adorned the soft blue fabric.

He was no expert on women's clothing, but he could tell it would look good on her. "It suits you," he said simply.

"Really?" Akane held the dress at arm's length, fingering the price tag.

"Why don't you try it on, miss?" The saleslady beside Akane gestured towards the fitting rooms.

Akane smiled, shaking her head. "No thanks," she replied, handing the dress hanger back to the woman.

"Come again," the saleslady called after them as they left the store.

"Why didn't you get that dress, Akane?" Ranma asked. "I could tell that you liked it."

She shrugged. "It's very pretty, but it's a little out of my price range." She brightened. "There's a sale next week. Maybe I could get a discount then."

Ranma nodded, seeming distracted. Akane nudged him to get his attention. "Or maybe you can get it for me for my birthday," she suggested, grinning devilishly.

Ranma paled. "Look, Akane, you know I'm broke. There's no way I could afford a dress like that. I - "

Akane laughed, punching his arm lightly. "I was only kidding, Ranma." She linked her arms through his, leading him to the supermarket. "Anyway, we'd better get Kasumi's groceries and head home, before I see anything else I like."

Ranma let her lead him along, his mind already imagining the soft, flowing dress on Akane.


Akane closed the bathroom door behind her, still toweling her hair. She sniffed the air, smiling as she thought of the wonderful things Kasumi was preparing for dinner. She'd probably have a cake, just like last year.

She went into her room, sighing to herself. If only she could cook as well as Kasumi. She could prepare her own birthday dinner. She could surprise Ranma with a homemade cake and his favorite dishes on his birthday. She could-

The first thing Akane noticed was the package propped up on her study table. It was wrapped with a bright yellow paper, and tied with a dark red bow. Curious, she walked over to pick it up. The label simply said, *Akane,* with no indication of who it was from.

*Who could it be?* she thought. She'd already received presents from her family. Kasumi had knitted her a new sweater. Nabiki had given her a scarf. And the big white teddy bear on her bed was from her father and Genma. And Ranma said he was - Ranma!

Certain it was from Ranma, she tore open the wrapping eagerly, and flipped open the box. She uttered a little cry of glee as she gently lifted a blue dress. A soft smile played on her lips. It was the same dress she'd admired at the boutique. A small silver brooch set with an aquamarine stone was pinned on the dress.

Crossing the room to lock her door, she shed her clothes, and put the dress on. She reached behind her to struggle with the zipper, jumping in surprise when the pin pricked her. In her hurry she hadn't noticed that the clasp was left open. Carefully, she secured the clasp, and peered closely at her skin. Luckily, the wound did not draw blood.

Brushing her palms down the dress, she marveled at the feel of the soft fabric on her skin. She was reaching for her mirror when someone knocked on her door. "Can I come in?" called Ranma's voice.

She hurried to unlock the door to let Ranma in. He stepped inside her room, his eyes pausing on her. A slow grin spread across his lips. "Hey, that looks nice," he told her.

"Thank you for the dress." She smiled at him. "I thought you were broke. How could you afford it?"

Ranma looked at her, puzzled. "But I didn't buy you any dress," he said.

Akane blinked. "Then - " She trailed off as he thrust a package in front of her. "I've got something for you." Ranma watched her as she stared up at him.

"Wait a minute, this dress..." Akane sat down on her bed, still baffled. "Who could it be from?" She looked at him suspiciously, then at the package he held out. "Are you sure this isn't from you?"

Ranma laughed. "Are you kidding, Akane? I couldn't possibly afford two presents for you, could I?" He dropped the small box on her lap and sat down on the floor in front of her. "Come on, open it," he urged, as she continued to stare at him. "We'll find out who it's from later, Akane."

"All right." Akane carefully tore open the package to reveal a flat jeweler's box. She threw a surprised look at Ranma as she flipped open the lid.

Nestled against the white satin was a thin gold necklace with matching earrings. Six tiny daisies were linked together by the gold chain. The dainty petals were set with small blue stones, matching the delicate flowers in the earrings.

Akane fingered the necklace as Ranma spoke. "I thought it would match that dress you're wearing. Not that I knew you were going to get it so soon. I'd hoped that you would buy it next week at the sale you mentioned."

After they'd come home, and Akane had gone up to her room, Ranma made a quick trip back to the mall. He was feeling hopeless, and was just about to head for the toy store to buy her a stuffed toy, when he'd passed by a ladies' boutique.

The pretty blue stones had caught his eye. A vision of Akane wearing the blue dress had flashed in his mind, and he'd gone inside the store for a closer look. Up close, the stones were even prettier, and even though they weren't real, they didn't look like cheap stock. The second good thing was that he could afford it.

The salesman had winked at Ranma conversationally as he pulled the money out of his wallet. "For your girlfriend?" the man had asked.

"No, my fiancee," Ranma had answered, reddening.

Ranma looked at Akane now, waiting for her reaction.

When Akane glanced up to look straight into his eyes, he fumbled with his words. "I know I told you I was broke this morning, but then I still hadn't thought of what to give you, and I wanted to surprise you."

Akane opened her mouth to speak, but Ranma cut her off as he hurried through his explanation. "The stones ain't real, you know. And the necklace and earrings are only gold-plated. It's not exactly expensive finery. You know I could never afford nothing like that. When I saw it, I just thought it would look good with the dress, so I - "

He stopped talking as she held a finger in front of his eyes. Akane shook her head. "Thank you, Ranma. It's beautiful." She gently lifted the necklace out of the box. "Help me put it on?" she asked.

Ranma helped her secure the necklace around her throat. She put on the earrings, and ran her fingers through her short hair. "What do you think?" she asked.

"It even matches that brooch you're wearing," Ranma commented, noticing the blue pin for the first time.

"This?" Akane fingered the stone on the brooch. "It came with the dress. I wonder who had left it on my table?"

Ranma raised his eyebrows. "You found it on your table?"

"Yeah, just as I came in my room after my bath. I'd assumed it was from you, especially after I saw the dress. I mean, who else could it be?"

He shrugged. "You'll find out later, don't worry. The dress was probably just a coincidence."

"Ranma, Akane, dinner!" Kasumi's voice called from downstairs.

Akane smiled at Ranma as they walked out of her room. "Your favorite time of the day."

"Kasumi's cooking makes it difficult not to look forward to it."

*Yeah,* Akane thought sadly, remembering her earlier thoughts. *If only you were that enthusiastic about _my_ cooking.*

They had made it to the stairs when Akane felt the world tip on end. She gripped the banister to steady herself.

The room blurred in her vision, and she closed her eyes, shaking her head to clear her mind.

Ranma grabbed her arm, and Akane blinked, her eyes snapping to focus again. *What was that?* she thought to herself.

"You okay, Akane?"

Akane nodded at Ranma's voice. "Sure."

Ranma let go of her arm, and they went downstairs together.

Nabiki raised her brow as the couple appeared at the table. "New dress, Akane?"

"You like it, oneechan?" Akane asked.

"If I say yes, can I borrow it?"

Akane laughed, shaking her head. "Not until I've worn it a few times." She glared at her sister. "Don't get any ideas."

She put her hand on her throat, where the necklace rested. "Like my new necklace, Nabiki?"

Nabiki motioned Akane closer, and peered at the tiny stones. "Ain't real," she commented. "But pretty enough."

Akane smiled. "Ranma gave it to me."

Upon hearing this, Soun let out a fresh wail. "Did you hear that, Saotome? Our children are getting along! Our families can still be joined. Wah!"

Genma-panda held up a sign. *Way to go, boy!*

Nabiki, Akane, and Ranma rolled their eyes to heaven as Soun bawled like a child. Kasumi's appearance put an end to the racket.

"Father, you promised you wouldn't get over-emotional," her soft voice scolded him.

Kasumi came out of the kitchen carrying a big homemade cake. "Happy birthday, Akane."

Akane beamed at her eldest sister as she started to step forward to help Kasumi set the cake on the table. A wave of dizziness attacked her, and she paused in mid-step, putting a hand to her forehead.

Already seated at the table, Ranma started to get up. "Akane?"

Akane waved him back to his seat. "I'm fine, Ranma. You don't need to get up." She started to smile at her family reassuringly, as the hammers in her head continued pounding.

The room spun around her, making her head throb. Vaguely, she heard voices calling her name, as darkness closed around her.

*** End CHAPTER 1 ***