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A Ranma ½ story
by Brian Randall

Disclaimer: Ranma belongs to Rumiko Takahashi and Viz Communications.

Notes: No pre-readers, because it's supposed to be a surprise. Could be whenever. Don't think about it too hard; it's just a seasonal story.


Christmas, as far as she could remember, was a romantic holiday.

A day for lovers.

Which made her wonder where Ranma was.

Sighing, she shut down the grill, preparing to close early. It wasn't a great day for business, either, because okonomiyaki was generally not considered romantic. She disagreed with the sentiment of okonomiyaki being unromantic, but could easily understand the desire to go somewhere nicer instead, hence the relative lack of business.

With a shake of her head, she trotted out to the street, where a light fall of snow was drifting down. She spent a moment with the door open, merely staring upwards, watching the little motes of white flit about on their way to the ground.

Descending in their slow dance, they whirled merrily, coating everything with a pristine, clean white shroud. She smiled at the image, turning about and taking down the curtain over the door. It was probably silly, but would make a cute poem.

Sliding the door shut, and placing the curtain away carefully, she passed into her room, gathering pen and paper, then, after a moment of hesitation, set the pen down. Rifling through a small box of memories from her father, she retrieved a much prized and well-tended ink-brush, a moment later adding a somewhat newer bottle of ink.

Returning to the grill, she took a seat at one of the covered boxes that served as stools, comforting herself with the slowly fading heat of the grill, and pulled a small clipboard from behind the counter. Paper comfortably in place, and ink set on the small lip of counter that sat before the grill, she smiled. All was in readiness.

Taking a moment to put her thoughts into words, she carefully lowered the brush to the ink, and then, set it to paper.

Long years of brushing okonomiyaki lent her a small modicum of skill, and she had tried to refine that skill as much as she could, though she was not often taken to poetry. Yet, something about the moment strove to be captured, prompting her to retrieve the treasured ink brush.

Born among the stars,
they dance to Earth, and apart,
then dance close once more.

Done, she held the paper away from her, and studied it critically. The brushwork was nearly flawless, but small details nagged her, needling that it wasn't perfect.

Still, for the time, it would be good enough. Signing it carefully, she added a delicate, 'To my beloved Ranchan' at the top, smiling happily at it. Not as good as her father's writing, she knew, but it was also the best she could truly hope for.

Her smile faded, as she returned ink, papers, and brush to their proper places. A gift without a recipient was useless, though. She spent a moment pondering the haiku, unsure what to do with it. Sighing sadly, she carefully folded it in three, setting it aside, and pondering.

There was nothing more to worry about at the moment, at least. Reclining slightly, stretching her arms into the air above her, she yawned.

Of course, in her dreams, Ranma would come, and she would answer the door, and he would shyly present her with a gift— maybe a ring, or a scarf, or chocolates… But then she would give him his gift, and they would talk softly and hold hands deep into the night, which would end with a kiss.

The reality of the situation would likely be different, she admitted to herself. Most likely there would be no Ranma at all, and were he to arrive, it would be without a gift, and most certainly the night would end without any handholding, or… a kiss.

A tremulous tapping at the door interrupted her thoughts, and she jumped, scurrying to answer it apprehensively.

Standing in the doorway, scarf over his shoulders in the twilight, shivering very slightly, was the very boy she had been thinking of. "Hiya, Ucchan," he managed, smiling apologetically.

"Ranchan!" she exclaimed, hurrying him inside and closing the door after him. "Why… why are you here?" She knew better than to think it was for the reason she wanted it to be, but… there was hope.

"Um," he began, fidgeting and nervous. "I don't know," he admitted after a moment. "I just… didn't want to be… there… right now."

"Your father?" Ukyou asked cautiously.

Ranma paused hesitantly, and scratched the back of his neck in embarrassment. "Well… that's a good part of it. I thought… um… if you weren't busy, I'd maybe visit with you for a bit."

She smiled brightly. "I should have known you were coming," she said cheerfully, motioning him to a seat. He sat as she directed, looking at her in confusion. Picking up the short poem she had written for him, she presented it cautiously, blushing faintly and biting her lip, unable to meet his eyes in the heat of the moment. "I… I made this for you," she managed tremulously.

He accepted the paper, unfolding it carefully and reading it, scanning the page several times to consider the meaning before he looked up. "Oh," he said quietly. "I… I guess I never really looked at it that way before."

"Ranchan?"

"Um… I mean, I know you said it, but I never really thought of… I mean…" He folded the paper up and set it on the counter, thinking deeply. "I wish I had gotten something for you," he said after a moment, his tone clearly carrying his dismay at his lack of forethought.

"Don't worry about it," she laughed, smiling at the way he fidgeted. "Have you had anything to eat, yet?"

"Uh… No. I was in a hurry, and… sorry."

"Don't be," she laughed again, glad simply of not being alone for the night. "I'll heat the grill up. What would you like?"

"I, uh… um… just… whatever's easiest for you," he managed, appearing slightly guilty.

"Ah," Ukyou said, nodding knowingly. "You're guilty because you didn't get me anything?" she teased.

"Hey!" he protested. "It's not, uh, no, I mean… uh…"

She giggled, shaking her head. "Then I'll make you a plain okonomiyaki," she announced. "Just like the snow outside."

"Okay," he agreed. "That's fine by me."

Blinking, she raised an eyebrow. "I was kidding, Ranchan… are you sure?"

"Why not?" he asked, smiling softly.

Giggling again, Ukyou did as he requested, swiftly making an okonomiyaki with nothing more than the bare essentials. Serving him the lone okonomiyaki, far too dark to truly be compared to snow, she shut the grill off, and moved to sit at his side.

He smiled at her as he tasted it cautiously. "Wow," he exclaimed, turning to stare at the okonomiyaki in surprise. "This is really good, Ucchan!"

She flushed at the compliment; she received many such words throughout the day, but a positive comment from him was so rare as to be treasured. "Thank you," she mumbled, staring at her feet bashfully.

"Um… Ucchan, I… I didn't get you anything, so, um… if there's anything I can do for you, just tell me."

She looked upwards, peering into his face intently as he remained nervously unsure. "Anything?" she asked. "Anything at all?"

"Well… Yeah, sure, I guess," he mumbled.

"Then… then come with me!" she commanded, grinning impishly, and holding a hand out to him.

He accepted the hand after a moment, still nervous, and she tugged him outside, where the coat of snow on the ground had thickened to a carpet a few inches deep. This late, even her and Ranma's earlier footsteps had vanished, leaving the street bare and flawless for the pair of them.

Drawing him to the center of the street, she turned to face him, and said, "If you'll do anything for me, then I want… I want…" She broke off, flushing crimson, and managed, "I want you to dance with me."

He stared at her, bewildered and nervous. "Dance? I mean, uh, me? Here?"

"Yes," she insisted, recovering some of her resolve. "You promised, after all."

"I don't know how," he complained.

"I'll show you," she laughed. "It's not hard, and you promised, didn't you?"

"Yes," he admitted. "Okay… Um… show me how we do it."

Giggling, she led him through the first, clumsy, awkward steps, until he grasped what she was trying to teach him. He led as they began again, one hand around the small of her back, the other clasped with hers, with no regard to being in the middle of the street.

Public place or not, the night was theirs, and theirs alone. It was only they, the stars, and the snow, flitting down slowly to veil everything in a mysterious, dream-like atmosphere.

A third time, much more slowly, they danced without a need for music beyond the presence of one another. Ukyou sighed contentedly, leaning her head on Ranma's shoulder as they moved.

"You know what I wish?" Ukyou murmured quietly.

"What's that?" Ranma asked in a soft voice, the reverberations through his chest giving Ukyou a feeling of closeness as she felt them.

"I wish that we could be like this forever." So saying, she broke away gently, staring at her feet, and the snow marked with the footsteps of a pair of dancers, slowly being covered by the still falling snow. Voice quavering, she continued, "But it can't, can it? Tomorrow… Tomorrow, what we had tonight will be gone, and all that we'll have for it is a badly written poem about snow, and our memories."

Ranma reached towards her tentatively, then dropped his hands to his sides. "I don't know," he mumbled after a moment. "I… Ucchan… Maybe. Maybe. I don't know right now. But… but someday, maybe… maybe I'll come over, and ask you for a plain okonomiyaki." Smiling ruefully, he added, "Besides, it was a beautiful poem about us, not snow. I'll never forget that, Ucchan."

She sniffled then, managing a brave smile, and blinking away the tears as he placed a tender kiss upon her forehead, and bowed his head apologetically. Walking away into the night, he turned once to look over his shoulder, and grinned at her. She shivered, whispering, "I love you, Ranchan."

It wasn't until she was back in the restaurant, door securely latched, that she realized he had left the poem there. Perhaps… Perhaps he would come for it tomorrow. And maybe, just maybe, he'd ask for a plain okonomiyaki.

 


Author's notes: Joyous Yule and a merry Solstice to all. Here's to a new year of trials, pain, growth, friendship, and maybe, just maybe, love.

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