A Ranma ½ fan fiction story
Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 characters property of Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
The rapid sound of chirping crickets filled the crisp air of the summer night. A pale moon hung in the star-filled sky, its silvery light shining brightly against the canopy of dust, smog and ambient light that filled the Tokyo skyline. A gentle breeze whispered through the leaves and the grass, carrying with it the clean scent of pollen and cherry-blossom petals.
Ryoga scrubbed the sweat from his brow as he slid open the shogi doors. Entering the kitchen, he grabbed a white towel from the laundry basket and wiped the sheen of his training from his chest, before throwing himself into a worn, black t-shirt. Reaching into the fridge, he pulled out a cold bottle of juice, pressing it against his forehead to let the wonderful coolness seep into his overheated skin. Unscrewing the top as he walked, he slid open the door to the living room.
The smile dropped from his face.
His fiancée, his love, his reason for being, she knelt at the table. A book lay open on the wooden surface, yet under her fingers the unread pages ruffled in the wind. The television warbled in the back ground yet went unheard. Her brown eyes were wide open, shimmering with moisture as she stared at some distant point far beyond the walls of the room.
"Akane," he said softly, tentatively. No response. Jaw working as he swallowed, he tried again louder, fangs biting out her name. "Akane!"
She jumped at the sound of his voice, eyes widening as her body jerked. She spun to face him, her short bangs of blue-black hair tossing as she turned.
"Oh, hi, Ryoga," she blurted. "You've finished training already Didn't seem that long You want something to eat ? Um I ate already but " Akane stopped, as if realising she was babbling, her words trailing into weak
"You were thinking of him again, weren't you?" It was not a question, as Ryoga already knew the truth. He always knew when those filled her mind, her eyes became distant as if her body was there but her heart and soul were with him.
"No!" she yelped suddenly, too suddenly. "Of course not, Ryoga! Why would you think that?"
"Akane!" he snapped firmly, the hurt welling in his chest providing him with the courage to face down the woman he loved. "You were thinking about Ranma again, weren't you?"
Her shoulder slumped as she sighed, "Yes," she murmured, her voice so soft as to be barely heard. Her head bowed and she stared at the floor through hooded lids.
He watched her fidget beneath his gaze, but he did not take his eyes away. He continued to drill into her with his emerald irises, watching her as the whirlwind of emotions raged in his head. His breathing was deep and slow, surging through his nostril and burning his lungs, hands at his sides reflexively balling into fists and relaxing. The dam burst.
"WHY?!" he cried, sinking to his knees in front of her, unable to find the strength to stand anymore. He reached across to touch her hands, driven by an unknown desire to feel her. She took his hand in hers and curled her fingers around his; the gesture almost melted Ryoga's heart.
"Why, Akane?" he repeated, voice wavering. "He left you. He ran away. It's over."
"I know," she said simply, squeezing his hand, yet still not meeting his eyes.
"Three years, Akane. It's been three years, since he ran off with Ukyo. Why can't you let go? Why can't you see that it's over? Why can't…" His voice faltered, almost breaking. Inhaling deeply, he forced himself under control. "Why can't you see that I love you?"
"Ryoga," she whispered, tears falling down her cheeks. She was so beautiful. Out of instinct he released his hand from her tender grip and brushed the tears from her face with his fingertips. As his touch traced her cheek, her hands came up and wrapped around his, rubbing her face against his palm. "Ryoga, I know you love me."
"THEN WHY?!" he yelled, jerking his hand away as he surged to his feet. "Why do you still think of him, when I love you so? When I'd do anything to make you happy? Why, Akane? Why?" The word revolved in his head, torturing him.
"I don't know," she whispered.
He raised his fist, he wanted to hit something, hit her, hit anything. But as he watched her recoil in fright, he knew he could not. He could not hurt her, could not bear to let anything else hurt her in the world. He wanted to heal her pain, but she would not let him. His hand was still outstretched, fingers clawing to grasp at the air, before sagging to his side. His head fell too, turning away from her as he squeezed his eyes shut.
"I can't do this anymore, Akane," he said in a broken voice. "I can't live like this. It's gotten old. I can't share you with the ghost of the man who ran out on you. Not anymore."
He heard her gasp. "What are you saying, Ryoga?"
He sighed, as if the world and its pain could be diffused away with the contents of his lungs. But all it did was make all his burdens heavier on his shoulders.
"I want to kill him, y'know?" he grunted. "I want to tear out his throat for what he's done to you. To me. To us. I want to tear him apart," Ryoga's hands clawed before him as if he were digging his nails into his imaginary rival.
"That's how I always solved things in the past. I fought them, I faced them and pounded at them with my fists." He shook his head wordlessly, biting into his lips hard enough for his fangs to pierce the skin. But he had never been able to hold in his emotions.
"I can't do that," he roared. "Not this time, Akane. I'd fight and I'd die for you. But I can't fight someone who isn't there. I can't fight phantoms."
"Ryoga!" she cried. "You're not making any sense." She swallowed before continuing, word-by-word. "What-are-you-trying-to say?"
He took another deep breath, and used it to steel himself. "Marry me, Akane, right now."
"W-What?" Akane spluttered, and her face paled, her dried tears and reddened eyes standing out even more as the blood drained from her face. "Are you serious?"
"Yes, Akane. It's now or never. Marry me today, or watch me leave." He had hoped his voice could sound firm but he heard it waver as his throat tightened painfully.
"But, Ryoga, that's not fair," Akane yelled at him.
"I DON'T CARE," he screamed, causing the girl to jump. "I don't care if it's not fair; it's the way it has to be. All or nothing, Akane. I need to know where I stand."
Akane sat there staring at him with wide, glimmering eyes. Her mouth worked but the only sounds were muffled squeaks. She watched him, saying nothing, not moving as if his words had frozen her in time. He moved closer to her, her presence driving him crazy, making him want to ignore what he had said and just hold her. He reached out, but then focussed himself, summoning every ounce of will power he had. He took her by the shoulders and pulled her so that their eyes could meet. Brown met green in a flash of sparks.
"Akane," he whispered. "I know you love me. I've seen it in your eyes. There have been times when I've seen your soul in your irises, and the world melted away, leaving just the two of us." His heart lurched at the memory of those gazes. His mind had always told him he was wrong. His rationality telling him it was too good to be true, telling him not to believe. But his heart knew better.
"Ryoga, I do love you," she said, tears once again sliding down her skin. At any other time those words would have set the lost boy on cloud nine, would have made the world sparkle and his inside melt in the glow. This time, he knew there was more. "But…" He had known it was coming, yet that one word still shattered his glass heart. "Ryoga, I need more time. I promise that…" He brought his fingers up to gently press them against her lips.
"Don't make promises, Akane," he breathed. "You were never good at keeping them."
"But, Ryoga…" she started, but he pressed his fingers more firmly against her lips.
"Akane, you say you love me, but I need to know. Do you still love Ranma?" He had dreaded that question for three years, and now it had sprung from his tongue and into the air where it circled like a vulture.
The girl had frozen once again, staring at him like frightened deer.
"Akane, the truth," he insisted.
She said no words; she did not blink. Her head moved only the tiniest fraction, but it was enough. Ryoga had seen it, and felt it deep in his chest were his heart had frozen mid-beat. It had been a nod. Akane still loved Ranma.
"Akane, there's no room in your heart for both of us. And I won't share your love with him, not after what he did to you, not ever. It's time to choose, Akane."
Taking her hands in both of his he moved so that he was on one knee. He looked into her eyes, wet with tears and so beautiful that he could happily drown in their depths. He opened his mouth to lick at suddenly dry lips, and he desperately fought to silence the butterflies that flogged at his stomach.
"Marry me, Akane. Let him go."
Time stopped and that one moment encompassed everything. It was if those few crucial seconds had been locked in amber, frozen solid and made to last forever. The sand of time had slowed to a trickle, passing through the hourglass one grain at a time. Even his heartbeat seemed to stop, the one pulse echoing in his ears for what seemed to be an eternity. Finally her lips moved.
"No," she said softly, her voice ragged and so slight it almost faded into the night.
Time started again, and the tears came to him. Her hands dropped from his numbed grasp and his mouth opened to release a shuddering breath. He cried freely, the sadness falling in crystalline droplets from his eyes. He could hear his own sobs, yet they did not register, simply echoing in a mind void of all thoughts.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, as she stood and left the room.
Ryoga did not hear her or move to stop her; he simply knelt and wept, his body a broken shell, without hope, without love, without a soul.
Author's notes: Yes, I know I should be writing honour and pride. Sue me. I was listening to a song by a cheesy boy band that I really should not have been listening to for fear of my masculinity. And this fic popped into my head. I also wanted to work on my showing-vs-telling and see if I could write a story in under a day. If I could only do that much writing on H&P when I needed to. Oh well, I have started the second saga, so be patient. But tell me what you think of this please. By the way, the song was All or Nothing by O-town. Sad isn't it?
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