A Ranma ½ story by
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Terry Brooks and the publisher of his books own all the characters and ideas that I use from them.
Author's Notes: This story will be crossing over with a trilogy of books by Terry Brooks: 'Running With the Demon', 'A Knight of the Word', and 'Angel Fire East'. Characters from these books may make short appearances throughout the story but it will mainly be Ranma with the concept of the trilogy.
"You pervert!!! What did you do to my sister?!?" demanded Akane.
Ranma was too shocked by the accusation to respond so he sat there, staring stupidly at her.
Nabiki, however, was quicker to act, even while sleeping. Her eyes snapped open and quickly surveyed the area. At first she didn't see Ranma, only an angry and glowing Akane, but then she began to wonder why she was so warm and comfortable. Slowly she turned her head and caught sight of Ranma and his shocked expression. That brought back the memories of the last couple hours and she groaned to herself at the stupidity of it all. What had possessed her to do that?
Far away a magical entity, timeless and beautiful, sneezed for the first time in its existence.
"Calm down, Akane. Ranma-kun didn't do anything." Ranma-kun?! What the hell?!?
Akane only grunted in reply, she was busily calculating the angle of impact needed to send Ranma back to China. After a moment she gave up; even she wasn't that strong.
"Really. He just heard me crying and wanted to see if I was hurt. That's how the door got broken. Isn't that right, Ranma?"
Ranma nodded distractedly. How had he managed to act so sensitive? He just couldn't figure it out. Every other time in his life, when even remotely similar situations cropped up that needed finesse or kindness, he had only managed to get himself attacked or engaged by making the wrong comment. Whatever had kept him going was no longer present, though.
"Wow, sneezing is fun," concluded the entity after it suffered from a second one.
Nabiki got on her feet and with a reluctant Akane's help, pulled Ranma to his feet. He stood, glassy eyed and with the same expression on his face. Wordlessly, and like a robot he walked out of the room, only stopping at the door to hear Nabiki say, "This never happened."
Akane still had a firm grip on her anger and needed an outlet, badly. "Don't pretend with me, Nabiki! You were hoping to use this as blackmail against Ranma! I can't believe you!"
Nabiki's eyes, for an instant, flashed with sorrow and pain, but it was gone too quick for the remarkably unobservant Akane. "I suggest you keep your accusations to yourself." The look that passed from older to younger sister bore such menace that the younger flinched and took a step back. "Now, if you don't mind, I would like to get some work done."
Akane took that at face value and retreated from the lion's den. After all, she did have a baka pervert to punish.
She found Ranma down stairs watching TV, or at least sitting in front of the TV. Kasumi sat on the couch beside him, organizing her recipe book.
"Oh, Akane-chan, do you know what's wrong with Ranma?" asked Kasumi who never looked up from her book.
"I don't know, but I sure am going to find out." She caught a hold of Ranma's pigtail and used it to haul him over the side of the couch and drag him into the back yard where she threw him into the koi pond.
The shock brought Ranma out of his— now her— stupor. She leapt out of the water and scowled at Akane. "What'cha do that for?" demanded the dripping girl.
"Don't you dare play innocent with me! I know you were doing something with Nabiki!!"
"Jeez. Didn't you hear Nabiki? She told you the truth."
Ranma cut her off. "What the hell is your problem?! This is Nabiki we're talking about! Do you realize that she would own my soul by now if something had happened?"
"Arghhh! For Kami's sake, will you just believe me for once!?! She was crying and it was my fault! I had to make her feel better!" He didn't know why, though.
Akane, not convinced, prepared to call forth her mallet and hand out some extremely prejudiced justice, but she caught the look in Ranma's eyes and stopped. Even with all the anger she had built up over this incident she could easily see just how upset Ranma was, and she wasn't stupid. Well, maybe she was a tad bit stupid (think p-chan), but she did know that if Ranma ever decided to fight back against her she didn't stand a chance. Still angry, but scared enough not to attack, she turned and stomped back into the house.
Ranma sighed and hung his head. Why couldn't Akane ever just trust him? Would it be so hard?
"I'm proud of you, boy."
"Eeek!" squeaked Ranma girlishly. "Will you stop doing that?!" she demanded of her father, who was standing behind her. "And why are you proud of me?"
"You're finally taking a stand with against Akane and talking up for yourself. Now the schools’ union is assured!" proclaimed Genma excitedly.
Ranma didn't see what there was to celebrate, but she did know that her father was willing to teach her and now was as good a time as any. "Will you shut up Oyaji? There's only so much time in the day." Genma sported a blank look similar to the one Ranma had been using a few minutes earlier. "Baka! The forbidden techniques. You were going to begin teaching them to me. Maybe your little panda brain forgot?"
"Show some respect for your elders, boy!" Genma leapt into the air and did a somersault.
Ranma nearly didn't see it coming, the distortion in the air being so minute. At the last possible second she dodged out of the way only to have her vision impaired by the cloud of dust that rose into the air when her father's vacuum blades smashed into one of the rocks that lined the edge of the koi pond. Before she could muster much of a defense, a solid kick to the back of her head sent her flying into the wall.
"What's the big idea?" she said weakly after extracting herself from the wall.
"Simple. I am going to use the Umisenken and the Yamasenken against you until you can defeat me with them."
Ranma received no other warning before she was forced into a wild pattern of leaps and dodges. When Kasumi finally announced dinner, it was a much more bruised and slightly humbler Ranma that entered the house. Plus, she was pretty certain that with a little practice and a few minutes of free time that she could produce a vacuum blade. It was really hard, though, when you're barely keeping yourself from being disemboweled.
Ranma bounced off the wall, using the extra momentum to carry himself higher into the air, then when he reached the apex of his flight, came barreling down in a whirling mass of chi induced wind. His target, currently a bewildered panda, stood staring as the mini-cyclone that was his son impacted him squarely in the gut. All at once the wind slammed into the panda like a freight train.
As Genma-panda went flying into the evening sky, he grinned panda-ishly before the pain caught up with his brain and he fainted. It had been nearly a week and Genma had mercilessly pounded on Ranma using the forbidden techniques. In the morning before school and from the time he arrived home in the afternoon until Kasumi called them in to eat dinner. What really surprised him was that Ranma seemed unable to pick up the simplest maneuver. His speed and dodging abilities had increased dramatically, along with his chi awareness but nothing else. Then it all changed. On Saturday, Genma got his ass kicked.
Ranma had immediately faded from view, and before the man knew what was going on, he had been beaten into the ground. Sure, he had tried to defend himself, but his son was like a force of nature, unmerciful and unstoppable.
Ranma cheered for himself— no one else was there to do it. He'd shown that fat panda who was boss. He'd even used improved versions of some the techniques and created new ones using the base idea of the quiet thief and the noisy thief.
He wished that his mother was here to see his victory, the first true victory he'd had against his father, who had always held back from going all out; but she was still out of town. "Oh, well, maybe Kasumi has some cookies made."
"Ranma, that was wonderful," said Kasumi when he walked into the kitchen.
"Huh?" was all he could manage as a reply.
"Your fight with your father, silly!" She wiped her hands on her apron and produced a plate of cookies from behind her back. "Nabiki and I watched it. How ever did you manage to turn into that cute little whirlwind, though?"
"Oh, that. It was just a whole bunch of vacuum blades. Hey, can I have some of those cookies?" he asked eagerly.
"Who do you think they're for?" she asked, setting the plate of steaming cookies on the table along with a glass of milk.
Ranma could have sworn that she was using Hidden Weapons Style martial arts. Maybe he could get her to teach him one day. Nah, probably just worked on food and stuff. Whoa, cool. A inch before the cookie could enter his mouth he stopped and eyed the treat intensely. "Um, Kasumi?"
They looked good and sure did smell good, but it wouldn't hurt to be a little cautious. "You did make these, right? Without Akane helping?"
Nodding happily, she was about to wash some dishes when she noticed a small cut on the back of Ranma's hand. "Ranma, your hand is bleeding!"
Already on his third cookie, Ranma examined the hand Kasumi was pointing at, his left and notice there was indeed a small scratch on the back, just behind the knuckles. "Must of been one of the blades."
Kasumi was already at his side with a first aid kit, and bandaging the wound.
Akane walked into the kitchen intent on trying out this new recipe she had just found in a magazine. Sitting at the table was Ranma— she didn't know why she even tried to cook good food for the baka— and he was holding Kasumi's hand. She completely missed the fact that Kasumi was holding the hand in place as she dabbed antiseptic on the wound on Ranma's hand.
"Pervert!!! Get away from my sister!!!" She belted him over the head with her mallet then when he was down, she smashed him through the kitchen wall and into the koi pond.
Oh, no! The kitchen! "Akane," said Kasumi sternly.
The equivalent of being slapped by Kasumi was enough to stop Akane from further punishing Ranma for his perverted ways.
"That was uncalled for and you should go apologize to Ranma. I was only binding a cut he got fighting his father."
Akane wanted to crawl into a hole and die when Kasumi said that to her. "Maybe… but he's still a baka pervert." she said weakly.
Ranma was seriously beginning to question whether or not Akane was truly unbalanced. For months now her temper had been growing worse, and the smallest things would set her off. Not even two weeks ago he had sneezed in class and she had somehow taken it as an insult and knocked him out the third story window of the classroom. Now, in the last week she had attacked him twice, assuming that he was cheating on her with her own sisters.
"Stupid tomboy," mumbled the soaked redhead as she dragged herself from the pond.
Ranma's sleep came slowly that night, and when he finally did nod off, his dreams were anything but pleasant.
The landscape was bleak, the grass dead and trees dying. Despite the appearance, it wasn't winter and there was no drought, easily noticeable thanks to the sweltering heat and puddles of muddy water scattered about. At his side, holding his hand, walked his wife of ten years. She was like a light in the darkness. Through all the hardships the fall of civilization had brought, she'd been with him. They had tried so hard to stop it; many had. Their efforts had been in vain, though, as one by one their fellow knights were hunted down, until only they remained. The hunters and demons had come for them on numerous occasions, but none had succeeded. Eventually they grew so feared that they were left alone by those who now ruled the world: demons— humans twisted by evil into beings as fundamentally different from humans as humans were from fish, and Once-men— those who had thrown away all values and restraint and lived for the killing and destruction. A small consolation; they now lived as wanderers, moving between the last few strongholds of humanity, walled and fortified cities where humans could live in relative safety. No one welcomed them for fear that they would bring greater attention from the ever-watchful demons.
Ranma saw a feeder through the corner of his eye, and with a burst of fire reduced it to a wisp of shadows. He felt a slight tug on his hand and turned to see Nabiki, his wife, pointing to the great walled city of Tokyo. Then he heard the sounds of automatic weapons fire and high explosives.
Ranma's dream was rudely interrupted by a pail of ice water.
Nabiki walked through the carnage, unshed tears fresh in her eyes. Bodies lined the street and blood flowed, turning puddles from a recent summer thunderstorm into pools of crimson. How had the demons and their followers broken through the defenses? She and her husband had traveled all over the world, helping where they could, and no place they'd encountered was as heavily defended as Tokyo. Where were the mech-units and the laser-turrets? It just didn't make sense.
A scream rent the calm of the morning after, followed by a burst of gunfire. She and her husband took to the air and began searching for the possible survivor; maybe she could answer their questions. They found her, huddled behind an overturned dumpster, trembling and sobbing in fear. Nabiki knelt down to offer the frightened woman a hand. She recoiled as if bitten though as the woman turned to face her, it was Kasumi. She was a changed woman, though. Her face, especially her eyes, shone with age years beyond her. A nasty gash on her temple had smeared blood all along the side of her face.
As if she didn't believe her own eyes, Kasumi rubbed them gently with the hem of her dress then looked up again. "Nabi-"
Another scream, this one real, forced Nabiki to wake, seconds after sharing a look of deep sorrow with Ranma.
"I'm really, really sorry, Akane," said Ranma as she tried to comfort the crying girl. "You just surprised me, and I was having a bad dream."
When Ranma tried to brush Akane's hair out of her face she slapped her hand away and said, "L-leave me alone."
"Why are you acting like this? I already apologized, so what's the problem?"
When she received no answer except for a weakly thrown mallet, Ranma stood and left Akane's room. She ran into Nabiki in the hall.
"What's going on, Ranma?" asked Nabiki with a no small amount of nervousness. Even though the memories from the strange dream were fading fast, she still could not help but feel an attachment to her hus- no, Ranma.
Ranma averted her eyes to the floor when she saw Nabiki. It may have only been a dream, but it was a very vivid dream, and she still felt lingering ties to Nabiki, her wife.
"Well?" Nabiki asked, irritated at Ranma's reluctance to look at her. It hurt a little to be ignored by her.
"Akane decided to wake me up by throwing cold water on me, as you can see. Well, I was having a bad dream and she surprised me. It was just a reflex," she said quietly, still looking at the floor.
"What was just a reflex?" questioned Nabiki. She saw how upset Ranma was, and her previous anger quickly left her, replaced by a need to comfort the little redhead. That part of her mind was quickly pushed deeper into her subconscious by long-present mental barriers.
"I slammed her into the wall and held her by her throat real tight. She's got a bruise and burn from my battle aura. I didn't mean it, honest," pleaded the redhead, near tears, the idea of hurting a defenseless girl being so alien to her.
"Is she alright, Ranma?" Nabiki didn't wait for an answer, though, and ran to her sister's room to check on her. Ranma went downstairs for breakfast.
"Why are you so upset? Ranma told you he didn't do it on purpose," emphasized Nabiki.
"H-he w-was so s-s-scary," Akane managed to say between sniffles.
"Oh, come on, Akane. Ranma is a big puppydog, you should see how upset he is right now. I thought he was going to cry."
"You don't understand!" exclaimed the girl after she had stopped crying. "His eyes were completely red, and he was surrounded in fire. It wasn't a battle aura; it was real fire. Look at my neck." Akane pointed to a small Ranma-chan sized handprint. It appeared to be a minor first-degree burn.
Just like I remember from the dream. "You know Ranma can probably fake stuff like that."
"Yeah," conceded Akane.
"And you did wake him up in the middle of a bad dream, right?"
"But what about last week?"
"What about last week?" Nabiki asked curiously. The only thing she knew of interest that had happened over the last week was Ranma's defeat of his father and acquisition of the Saotome Forbidden Techniques.
"After that time when you broke down, you know?" Nabiki nodded tightly. She really wished no one but Ranma had seen that. "I threw Ranma in the koi pond and he got real mad."
"He always gets mad when you do that and when you hit him, or feed him, or hit and feed him."
"This time he looked like he does when he gets really mad." Akane placed extra emphasis on the 'really mad' part.
"He looked like he was going to attack me."
Oh, that explained a lot. "Why are you so worried? You could just wop him with your mallet like always."
Akane let out a sharp, bitter laugh, totally out of character for her. "I couldn't stop Ranma if he didn't let me. I'm pathetic compared to him."
Bingo. "Why don't you come down stairs and look at Ranma? He looks miserable. He could never bring himself to hurt you."
A now male Ranma was absentmindedly twirling a chop-stick like a miniature baton when they came down. When he saw Akane he immediately started apologizing.
"It's all right, Ranma," lied Akane. In truth she could hardly even look at him.
Instantly Ranma's demeanor changed back to cocky martial artist and he said, "I shouldn't've been worried about a tomboy like you anyway. I'm surprised I didn't hurt my hand." He cringed in expectation of a mallet because of his slip of the tongue, but when he opened his eyes he saw only Nabiki looking at him a bit wistfully. He had to force himself to not make direct eye contact with her.
"She's scared of you," said Nabiki out of the blue.
"Akane's acting so strange because she's scared of you now."
"Why? Never mind, no yen." He felt a pang of guilt at his careless remark.
Nabiki felt pain and guilt: pain because of Ranma's opinion of her and guilt because he didn't have any other reason not to act that way around her. Still she needed to tell Ranma what to do to make Akane go back to normal. "This one's free."
Ranma's eyes bulged and his jaw hung loosely when he heard Nabiki.
She continued, "My guess is that Akane has always been worried that you could force yourself on her or something like she used to think the boys at school would do if they ever defeated her. That's probably why she started hitting you. Her temper and ability to jump to conclusions is why she never stopped, though. Now that you have attacked her, even if it was an accident, she's realized that you still could force yourself on her any time you want, and she really wouldn't be able to stop you."
"But that's stupid! Why would I try to do that to Akane, or any other girl?!" demanded Ranma, angry at the implied accusation.
"This is Akane we're talking about. She saw Ryoga change into P-chan last week and still didn't figure it out."
"Oh, yeah… What?! She saw him transform and still didn't figure it out?!"
Uh, oh. "I thought you knew."
Ranma was by now exhibiting a slight battle aura, and Nabiki could easily feel the heat being generated. "That's it. Promise or no promise, Akane is finding out about P-chan!"
To be continued.
Author's Note: Yeah, yeah. I know that Ranma and Nabiki are acting OOC. So what. This is my fic and I did throw in the magic influence from last chapter and the small little dream sequences (they'll be playing a big part in the next couple of chapters). C&C welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
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