A Ranma ½ fanfic
Ranma ½ is property of Rumiko Takahashi and Viz video
Even through the crowd of people between us in the hotel lobby, I catch sight of him almost immediately. Perhaps itís fate. Perhaps not. I feel my breath leave me, exhaled in my shock at seeing a reminder of a past Iím not ready to face.
Perhaps inevitably, he has seen me too. He hesitates, then with a look of resolve makes his way through the throng toward me. So much easier if he would have just turned away. But the Ranma Saotome I knew was no coward, and itís clear that the passage of half a decade hasnít changed that.
He reaches me and gives me greeting. Were things other than they are, I might be amused at his uncertainty. He is clearly unsure of what tone to adopt, struggling between formal and familiar, coming to rest at last with the former. Were I not so far off balance, I might perhaps be amused to see Ranma has learned at least some personal skills since last we parted ways.
I take a deep breath, and gather what I can of my composure, and return his greeting. However, I deliberately adopt a more familiar tone. Not the one I was wont to use in addressing him, nothing that could give him the impression that I plan to return things to that level. My words are chosen for a different purpose, and I wonder if Ranma is perceptive enough now to understand.
Apparently he is. He gives me a searching look, then some of the tension leaves him. He asks quietly, "Did you find what you were looking for?"
I nod, not trusting myself to speak just then. He dares to give me a slight smile, then actually suggests we repair to the veranda and get drinks.
I agree to this. The shock has begun to wear off, and though seeing him is still painful, I am beginning to feel alive. More alive than I have in years. I suppose there are some pasts with which you can never cut ties completely.
We seat ourselves at a table, with a bright, festive umbrella overhead. Conversation flags until the drinks have arrived. Then, in typical Ranma fashion, my companion cuts straight to the heart of the matter. "Howíd you finally manage to get cured the rest of the way?"
I tell him. How, after years of searching, and expense enough to strain even my familyís resources, four months back I finally discovered a site in the Appalachian mountains in America. A place where four ley lines intersected, where a meteorite strike had disrupted that junction, leaving a powerful field that obliterates any magic that enters. I swallow, and tell him that if he seeks a cure to his curse, he could find it there. Speaking of his curse is still difficult for me… I yet retain some of my resentment, at not having been told the truth for so long. That he himself never managed to tell me, leaving me to find out so much later, and by accident at that.
"Thanks, but I donít need it any longer," he answers. "I found a way to block the effect. Now I can even tap the stored-up magic and do stuff with it." He gestures, and the smooth iron armrest of his chair blooms into a rose. He smiles, then asks the question I wanted to ask him. "Whatíre you doing in the Amazon rain forest?"
"I… I just wanted to see it. Not to take anything from it, not to study it, not even to fight for it," I answer. "I hoped I might find some peace here."
"Peace?" he asks, though looking into his eyes I suspect he understands at least partly why I might now be searching for such. "Finding the cure didnít give you that, huh?"
I smile bitterly. "The last vestiges of my ancestral curse were removed. I am insane no longer. That doesnít make the memories of the years in which I was any less painful."
"No, I guess it wouldnít," he admits quietly. "But maybe you ought to think about cominí back to Nerima. Things arenít nearly as bad there anymore. Might be what you need to get over the past."
Shaking my head, I give him an incredulous look. "I do not ever intend to return. How could I? Everyone and everything there is a reminder of the… the despicable THING I once was!"
He frowns. "Hold on, there." Another long, searching look. I feel a slight buzzing, though it wonít be until much later that I learn one of Ranmaís new tricks allows him to read a personís surface thoughts. At last, he sighs and says, "So youíre just gonna change one prison for another? Is that it?"
"What do you mean?"
"You hate yourself now. I can see it," he says quietly. "You got rid of one set of chains, and slapped another on yourself as soon as you were free. Aní this time, nobody can get you loose except you. Youíre making a mistake."
"A mistake?" I ask bitterly. "A mistake, to depise myself for what I once was? For how I once acted?" Bitter bile rises in my throat. "For how I treated you?"
"Yeah. Thatís right. Itís a mistake. The person who did all that is dead, died in the mountains in America. YOU were born five years ago, back when we first learned about the Kuno clan curse and managed to weaken it. You got no right to hate yourself for something someone else did."
"Really," I say, my tone making it clear that Iím not accepting this.
"Yeah. Really." He gives an exasperated sigh. "Listen, even back in Nerima, before we found out about your familyís curse, even then I didnít hate you. You made me angry, sometimes scared me, but that was all." He fixes me with an intense stare. "So I can say you got no right to hate yourself."
Hearing that does make a difference. I can feel something shift inside me, though Iím not sure yet to just what effect. Still, itís not that easy to simply let go. "Ranma, for most of the last five years Iíve had to constantly fight off that old person, had to maintain constant vigilance lest the suppressed curse break forth in me again. Those memories too are bitter, bitter to the core. I cannot just walk away from them."
He shrugs. "I know. But right now you got the chance to make a fresh start. Donít waste it by lookiní at the past all the time. Because the past is there for us to look at and learn from our mistakes, but then we move on."
"Quite a bit more insightful than I would have expected from you, Ranma," I admit.
"Well, even a guy like me can learn a bit in five years," he replies. "Listen, thereís somebody I think you need to talk to." He pulls out a cell phone and places a call. "Honey? Iím out on the veranda. Thereís somebody I want you to come see… No, itís a surprise… Okay, bye."
Truth be told, the wedding ring on his finger was almost the first thing I noticed about Ranma, but I had not felt equal to bringing the subject up. Still, the issue has now been forced, so I gulp, and say, "Then you and… Akane… finally took that step?"
He grins at me, then falls serious again. "I donít think you really understand just what kinda chance youíve got here. You can make a whole new start… you donít have to let the past keep dragginí you down. And I bet talkiní to my wife will help you see that."
Insensitive though it seems, I cannot but feel that Ranma is right. Though seeing them together will hurt, if she can forgive me as he has, perhaps I will be able to forgive myself.
Again we fall silent, waiting. And then… the door opens… a flash of sunlight on black hair as she steps out from the hotel… our eyes meet.
I must have blinked, for suddenly she is right there, standing beside our table. That or perhaps she moved with a speed which formerly was possessed only by the man who is now her husband. Her eyes still wide in shock, she speaks, hesitantly, disbelievingly.
Ranma rises, and with the cockiest grin Iíve ever seen in my life, he slides his arm around her shoulders. "Tatewaki Kuno, may I introduce my wife. Kodachi Saotome."
Clearly this is my cue to faint. I take it.
Authorís notes: Not much to say about this one, except that the idea came to me in a dream. Yes, Iíve actually dreamt about writing a Ranma Ĺ fanfic. Is that sad or what?
As this was so short, I doubt itíll generate any appreciable C&C, but if for some reason you do want to comment, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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