Akane is sitting motionless on a stool in Nabiki's room. Her eyes are wide, her fingers splayed in shock.
Nabiki: You heard me correctly - I said: seduce Ranma!
Akane shakes her head violently.
Akane: No... No way.
Nabiki: Listen. It makes perfect sense. I told you that we should try to awaken Ranko's suppressed personality aspects, right? Obviously her female aspects will be harder to suppress, since she is really a girl. So if you tried to seduce Ranma, his female side would have to rebel. Thereby we can force him to remember both his sides and restore his memory.
Akane looks still sceptical and reluctant.
Nabiki: Look, you don't even have to carry through. Just look for signs of mental stress and concentrate on that.
Still not wholly convinced, Akane slowly nods.
Akane: You're completely crazy... but OK, I'll do it.
Nabiki: So you will seduce him?
Souun, who was walking along the hall, hears the last sentence and stops dead in his tracks. He drops to his knees and scrambles to look through the keyhole.
Akane: But how do I do it?
Nabiki: Akane, I'm just one year older than you...
Akane: [interjects] One and a half.
Nabiki: ... and I have to tell you? You who had half of the school running after you?
Akane: Pah! Those jerks were just after me because of the challenge. And anyway, none of them was good enough to beat me.
Nabiki: You never fail to amaze me, sis. Did it never occur to you that you could just have lost to one of them?
Akane: [puzzled] But they weren't good enough to win.
Nabiki: Never mind. I have something for you, when you put the move on Ranma...
She walks over to the wardrobe and rummages through it. When she emerges again, she is carrying a red dress - or rather a Rrrred Drresssss! It's a strapless one-piece that bottoms out in a very short mini-skirt.
Akane: Oh god, I can't wear that. It's skin tight; I'll look like a sausage!
Nabiki: Yes, but a sexy sausage. One that makes men want to take a bite. Trust me, they may say that the way to a man's heart leads through his stomach, but there's a short-cut through his eyes.
Akane holds the dress against herself to try it out, and blushes almost as red as the cloth.
Souun is bounding down the stairs and skidding into the living room.
Souun: Genma! Our dreams come true!
Genma: Kasumi and Ranko are cooking dinner again?
Souun: Akane is going for Ranma!
Genma jumps up. The two old men join hands and begin to dance in a circle.
Souun: I overheard that she is out to seduce him.
Genma: No doubt, because of his new manliness.
Souun: Waaah! Our children will finally marry.
Ranma is coming in through the front door and is immediately set upon by the two fathers.
Genma: Son. We have important things to talk about. We have to prepare you.
Ranma: Prepare me? For what?
Souun: For the most joyous experience in a young man's life.
Ranma: Moving out?
Genma: [smacks him over the head] Girls, Dummy!
Ranma: Oh no! You're not sending me on another date with Akane! The last time, I got splashed with hot tea and we had to hurry home... to... uh, change my shirt. Besides - she doesn't like me that well. Whenever I'm with her, she seems so... distant. Like she doesn't really see me as a boy.
Souun: She's shy.
Genma: Listen, son, when she mmmblft...
Ranma's hand, clapped about his mouth, silences Genma in mid-sentence. Ranma slowly edges past him, his eyes fixed on the stairs. Akane stands at the foot of the stairs. She is wearing The Dress and smiling at him.
Akane: Oh, Ranma! Would you come up and help me with this dress? I want to make sure how it looks on me.
She pronounces "on" with a certain tone of voice, implying that "off" is definitely an option. Like a robot operated by remote-control, Ranma walks up to her. Hidden at the top of the stairs, Nabiki gives Akane a thumbs-up sign.
Nabiki: [whispers] Perfect! [thinks] That last-minute coaching really did the job.
She rushes back to her room, before the two teenagers come up and enter the door marked "Akane".
In Akane's room, Akane sits down on her bed and crosses her legs. She flutters her eyelids in a totally overplayed gesture, but Ranma is incoherent already, anyway. He fidgets with his fingers, pulls up the chair and, after three unsuccessful tries, sits in it.
Akane: [thinks] Those must be the signs of mental stress, that Nabiki talked about. I'm on the right track. [out loud] Well, Ranma. How nice to have you here in my room alone with me.
A flash interrupts her train of thought. Outside the window hangs Souun, upside down, with a camera in his hands. Akane walks over, shifts open the window and stares at him.
Souun: Just taking a little photo for the memory of this wonderful day, heh heh heh...
Akane takes the camera from him and places a heavy dumbbell in his hands. Immediately his arms are pulled down. A second later, Genma, who was holding him up by his feet, is pulled from the roof after him. Akane closes the window again. From outside comes a metallic <CLANGG!> that signals the fathers' landing.
Akane: Where was I?
Ranma: You um... err, ah, you were... uh...
Akane: Ah, yes, I wanted to tell you how long I've waited for a chance to have you all to myself for a moment...
Kunou: [entering by the door] Saotome Ranma! How dare you accost Akane in her own room! I came to offer her these roses, and I find you!
Akane: Oh, Kunou-sempai! How nice of you to visit. Say, I'm sure I heard something outside. I'm so scared - could you look out the window, what it is? [ushers him over and opens the window]
Kunou: Fear not, my beloved Akane! I will make sure that you are undisturbed. [he leans out of the window] Ah, there are two men lying down there. It seems, that one of them is your esteemed father.
Akane: Are you sure? Lean out a bit more and look closer.
Kunou: [complies] Yes. It is indeed your father, I am completely suooooaaaaahhh!
Akane: [looking after him] Right onto the dumbbell. [turns around on her heel] Right! As I was saying, how nice that we are here together all alo...
Souun: [peeking over the windowsill] What? Are you still not any further?
Genma: [bursting in through the door] Do we have to help you with everything?
Souun scrambles in through the window. Both fathers push their respective children together.
Souun: Now, come on, ha ha ha!
Genma: Don't be shy, Ranma! Kiss her.
Suddenly Ranma breaks out.
Akane: [thinks] That's it! His female side is rebelling against the situation.
Ranma: You interfering old geezers! You have no business here.
He grabs them and boots them out of the open window, towards the horizon. He then turns to look at Akane.
Akane: [thinks] Has he regained his memory?
Ranma: Akane. I am sorry that I let it come this far.
Akane: [thinks] Yes!
Ranma: I have realized something, just now.
Akane: [thinks] Yes!
Ranma: If I am ever going to do it, it should be of my own free will - not because I am pushed by our fathers.
Akane: [thinks] Huh?!?
Ranma: Finally I can say it without shame... This is what I want.
Akane's eyes bug out, as Ranma sweeps her up in his arms, looks her into the eyes and plants a deep, passionate kiss on her lips.
-- End of Part 22
Part 23: "Is easy"
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