A Ranma ½ story
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. In no way is this a claim to these characters. I make no money from this.
Exar, A.K.A. Ben Jernigan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ranma sat daydreaming in class, doing his best to look like he was paying attention, while in his head reviewing various aspects of this morning's workout, new ideas for the training trip he wanted to take over the next school break, and the galactic adventures of some gaijin spaceman named Spiff. The zargulon lasers spraying the rocks around Spiff resolved themselves alarmingly into an eraser flying at Ranma's head. Apparently, his best wasn't all that great.
Ranma snatched the eraser out of the air while mentally making a note to polish his acting skills. "Yes, sensei?"
"So you are paying that much attention, at least. Very well, Mr. Saotome, since you have clearly been listening to my lecture on American government, what three things are inalienable rights of every man, according to the US Declaration of Independence?
"Um… Beer, guns and cars?"
"No, Mr. Saotome. And I quote: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.' I encourage you to contemplate that statement while you get your buckets, Mr. Saotome."
"WHERE ON EARTH AM I NOW?!?!?"
Ryoga Hibiki was lost. As is his habit, he cried out to the heavens from time to time, in the hopes of getting an answer. This time he did.
"You in back alley behind Cat Cafe, stupid pig boy."
"Shampoo? Then that means… I'm back in Tokyo!! Shampoo! Which way to the Tendo Dojo?"
"Later. First, important talking."
"Hurry up, come in. Shampoo explain."
Elsewhere, a familiar couple made their way home from school.
"I can't believe you wouldn't even try the cake I made for you. I worked hard on that!"
"Sorry, Akane, I just couldn't bear to destroy that perfect a Frisbee."
"So that's why you gave it to Daisuke! To use as a discus?!"
"Yeah, he's on the track team, and that heavy of a discus will really help him practice."
"Rannnmmmaaa… YOU JERK!!!"
"You want me to do what?"
"Ask violent girl out on date. Today."
"B-b-but I don't know. D-d-dating? That's a big step, I mean, you know…" Ryoga trailed off lamely as he twisted his hands in angst.
"Shampoo help you with special technique."
Shampoo takes out a scroll that is dusty, and apparently quite old. "Get scroll from Great-grandmother. It talk about shiatsu Casanova Point. After press, Ryoga can ask any girl out."
"Thank you, Shampoo! How can I repay you?"
"Just ask out Akane. While you date her, Shampoo have Ranma to own self."
Shampoo opened the scroll, frowned at it for a moment, the reached out and poked Ryoga's throat. He immediately began to choke and thrash about on the floor.
"Aiyah! That wrong spot!"
She quickly pressed the point again, relieving Ryoga's sudden problem.
"Maybe— *gasp* —you should study it some more, first."
"No, Shampoo see where she go wrong. This right spot."
Shampoo again poked Ryoga's neck, a little to the right of her last target.
"Did it work?"
Shampoo stared at Ryoga. His voice had dropped half an octave and his nervous smile had somehow shifted into Ranma's trademark smirk.
"Shampoo think so."
"Great! Akane, here I come!" Ryoga leapt to his feet and ran out the door, laughing in what was supposed to be a maniacal fashion, but somehow, still managed to be sexy. A moment later, he walked out of the bathroom with a sheepish, but cute look on his face. "Could you point me to the way out?"
"Shampoo do better than that. She go visit Ranma now. You follow, yes?"
"Jeez, she didn't have to hit me so hard. Oh, well, I got home faster. I wonder if Kasumi has anything to eat."
Ranma peeled himself out of the new Ranma-shaped depression in the roof, and jumped down into the Tendo's yard. Unfortunately, he landed on a large beach ball, bouncing directly into the koi pond. Heaving a sigh and muttering something about fate and pandas, he pulled himself out. "I swear that fish has better reflexes than me. Hey, Kasumi? Are you home?"
"Yes, Ranma. I'm in the kitchen. Where's Akane?"
"She's still on her way home."
"Oh. Well, I guess that explains the splash. What happened?" Kasumi went to the stove and got the kettle that she always heated up at this time of day, and poured some of it over Ranma.
"She baked a cake for me in Home Ec today. It was inedible as usual, but it was perfectly balanced and made a great Frisbee. I ended up giving it to Daisuke for him to practice with."
"Oh. Is he on the track team?"
"Yeah. I figured that a discus as heavy as that would be great for him train on."
"That was very kind of you, Ranma. But you did it in front of Akane, right?"
"If you ever want to get along with her, you really need to learn to think before you act."
"I know, but it's so hard. I've never had to think before I did anything before. It's really tough to have to start now."
"That's not true. You have to think before you act in a fight."
"No I don't. If I did, I wouldn't win."
"What do you mean?"
"In a fight, if I took the time t'think about what I was doin', I'd have already lost the fight. If I need to think, I use the Saotome secret technique."
"Oh. But this isn't martial arts, it's life."
"Martial arts is my life, Kasumi. I'm not smart like you or nothin'. All I got goin' for me is my Art."
"Don't say that Ranma, you're very smart. And if you wanted to, you could do lots of things besides martial arts."
"If you say so, Kasumi."
"I do say so. So why don't you use the secret technique with Akane?"
"What are you talkin' about?"
"Why don't you get away from her and think before you react to her?"
"Get serious. I can't run from a girl. Besides, she'd just chase me."
"Then why can't you just talk to her?"
"You mean besides the times she hits me before I can say anything? I dunno. I just can't talk to girls."
"You're talking to me just fine."
"But you're you!" Ranma seemed to realize that this was not the most intelligible answer, so he tried again. "I mean, you don't wanna marry me, or kill me, or somethin'. I can trust you."
"And you don't trust Akane?"
"Well, sorta, I guess. She sure doesn't trust me, though!"
"Ranma, she just doesn't know how to express her feelings. She really does like you a lot."
"I'd like to think so, but she almost never acts like it. I don't mind her, much, but she really doesn't make it easy for me."
A thoughtful silence descended upon the Tendo kitchen for a time.
Finally, Ranma spoke up. "Kasumi, um, thanks."
"Listenin' to me an' being my friend. I think you're the only real friend I've got."
"Don't say that. You have friends, what about Ryoga, and Ukyo?"
"Ryoga? I'd like to be his friend, but he blames everythin' that ever went wrong in his life on me, even when I had nothin' to do with it. Ukyo, hell, I still can't deal with her bein' a girl! 'Sides, she's after me as much as Shampoo."
"I'm sorry, Ranma, I didn't know. I didn't realize that someone with four fiancées could be lonely."
"Funny, ain't it?"
"You're welcome, Ranma. Well, I've got to get dinner started. Why don't you see if Akane is home yet?"
"Go away, Ranma, I don't want to see you now."
"Akane, it's Ryoga."
"Oh, sorry I yelled at you. Come in."
Ryoga sauntered in the doorway, seeming to strut standing still. Akane stared as he flashed a million-dollar smile and sat down on the bed next to her. "Akane, I need to ask you something."
He grasped her hand gently, while looking directly into her eyes. "Will you go to dinner with me tonight?"
Ranma walked up the stairs with a thoughtful expression on his face. Akane's shoes had been at the door, and she wasn't in the dojo, so she must be up in her room. As he walked to her door, he heard voices inside.
"I said, 'Will you go to dinner with me tonight?'"
"S-sure, Ryoga. That sounds fun."
"Great! I've got reservations at a nice place downtown."
"That sounds good to me. What should I wear?"
"Oh, dress casual."
Ranma's danger sense went off as someone leaped at him from behind. He twisted quickly throwing up his hands to guard himself— and found himself with two handfuls of Shampoo's bosom. She giggled and threw her arms around him. "Airen, you so forward!"
Unfortunately, her glomp hit him off-balance, and carried them both into the door, pushing it open and spilling them onto Akane's floor.
Akane's mind was in a whirl. Ryoga liked her? He was asking her out? Was that why Ranma picked on him all the time? Or was poor Ryoga being used by one of the fiancées again? Only one way to find out. "S-sure, Ryoga. That sounds fun." At the least, she could have a good time with someone who could admit to liking her.
"Great! I've got reservations at a nice place downtown."
"That sounds good to me. What should I wear?" Besides, maybe Ranma will get jealous! This is a win-win situation, she thought. Then the door to her room swung open, and Ranma and Shampoo rolled in through the passage. She was hugging him tightly, and his hands… "RANMA!! How dare you do that with Shampoo! And in my room, no less. You pervert!!"
Akane reached behind her and pulled out a bucket of cold water, which she promptly threw at Ranma and Shampoo. Suddenly, a female Ranma was on the floor, attempting to get the cat off of her shoulder.
"Shampoo, get off of him! Ranma, HOW COULD YOU!?! Get out of my room!! I can't believe you would do this! Ranma, you JERK!" With a mighty yell, she kicked Ranma out the door, causing him to ricochet down the hall with Shampoo hanging on for dear life. "Ryoga, I'm sorry. I can't believe that jerk would do that to me. Let's go now, before he can bother us again, okay?"
"As you wish," he said. He then opened the door and held it for her, sending a suave smile her way. "After you, Akane."
As they walked into the hall, moving towards the stairs, they heard a scuffle behind them.
"Get it away! Somebody get this cat offa me!" shrieked Ranma as he dashed back up the hall, flailing his arms ineffectually.
Ryoga let go of Akane's hand, reached out and smoothly pulled the cat off of Ranma's back. "Anything you say, Ranma." He wanted to say more, something about Ranma's eyes, but his face was suddenly covered by a furious ball of purple fur.
Akane fumed, then turned her glare to a (temporarily) relieved Ranma. "What is wrong with you, you pervert? First you time to play some kind of kinky sex game with Shampoo in my room, then you let her hurt poor Ryoga!"
Ranma looked at Akane in growing confusion, glancing at Ryoga, who now had a streak of purple orbiting him at high velocity, with splashes of blood and tatters of clothing flying in random directions. "You really think that's what I was doing?"
"You're not trying to deny it, are you? It was obvious to anyone who looked what you two were up to! I saw where your hands were, you freak!"
Ranma's voice was growing calmer, and an odd look appeared in his eye. "And you didn't see me trying to get away from her?"
"Getting away? I saw you getting off, like the pervert you are! You enjoy her throwing herself at you like that!"
Ranma's voice was past calm now, almost cold. "And you feel justified getting mad at me for it, even as you were leaving for a date with Ryoga?"
Akane's face flushed red with guilt, but she only grew angrier. "Of course! We weren't going to do anything perverted like you!"
"I see. And did it ever occur to you that I tried to avoid Shampoo because of our engagement?"
"Oh, does cheating on your fiancée make your conscience quiver? Fine, I break the engagement! Go canoodle with Shampoo all you want!"
Ranma's cold front cracked, and his hands balled into fists unwittingly, outwardly betraying his inward battle to control his anger. Akane's eyes widened as she belatedly noticed that Ranma wasn't acting normal.
Is he getting angry for once? Could he have actually meant what he said? No way! I know what I saw! But still…
"Akane, if that's what you really want, you win." Ranma turned and ran down the stairs, then on out of the house.
Akane's anger fled as realized that he sounded like he meant it.
Soun Tendo peeked around a corner. Seeing nothing threatening, he walked slowly into the hallway and up the stairs. Before him lay a strange sight.
The Hibiki boy, lying on the floor, naked and bleeding.
Akane, sitting on the floor, crying softly.
A small camp stove, with a kettle on it, in the middle of the floor.
And finally, Shampoo, struggling into her too-tight pants.
He went to Akane and asked her what was wrong. Her only response was to sniffle and say "He's gone.". He quickly picked her up, carried her into her room, and gently laid her on the bed. He grabbed a blanket and threw it over Ryoga's form, then turned and looked at Shampoo, preparing to unleash the dreaded Demon Head attack. But she was already long gone.
Ranma sat on the roof. Normally, this was something he enjoyed doing. He often came up here to look at the stars, to daydream, or just to get a little peace. Tonight, he was doing none of the above. What he was doing was crying. He'd just had his heart broken, after all. He was alone, and glad of it, because, in his current mood, he would probably have killed any witnesses to this show of emotion.
Nabiki was relaxing in her room, reading a manga. It was a romantic comedy, one of her favorites. Out of habit, she glanced at her stereo/surveillance system. Currently, two of the meters were jiggling, showing that there was noise in the dining room, and on the roof.
The roof…? Realizing who the most likely person to be making noise on the roof was, she put on her headphones and turned that channel up. Maybe she would hear something that would let her figure out what Akane and Ranma's fight was about today. It had seemed a little more vicious than normal. To say that she was surprised by what she heard would be an understatement. He's… crying? I've never heard him cry. Ever. This is big. I gotta talk to Akane.
If Akane had done something that would chase Ranma away, it could cost Nabiki a lot of money. At least that's what she told herself.
"Akane? Are you in there?"
"Akane, what happened? Ranma is really upset. He's crying on the roof."
Akane sat up in bed, where she had been laying and feeling sorry for herself. He was crying? He never cried. Wait… he only went up on the roof? He must not have really meant it. She was safe. "So? It's not my fault."
"Akane, don't you think you ought to talk to him? I think you hurt him bad."
"I don't care! That pervert had it coming!" Humph. I'll let him stew overnight, then talk to him tomorrow. He'll be so glad to see me by then, I won't have to apologize. Not that I really need to.
"I think you're making a mistake here, Akane, but he's your fiancé. Good night."
"Shampoo, *sniff* please. Not now."
Denying her attempt at a hug, Ranma turned his back to Shampoo. Her inability to see his tears was only a convenient side effect.
"No! Shampoo take Airen on date. Make him feel better."
"Shampoo, that would make you feel better, not me."
Shampoo's eyes widened, hearing a touch of bitterness in Ranma's voice.
"All right. But Shampoo stay here. Be with Airen in hard time."
"Shampoo, please. I just wanna be alone. I'll take you to a movie or somethin' later, but not right now."
"Shampoo hold you to promise. Wo ai ni." With that, she bounded off into the sunset.
Nabiki had a hard time getting back into her manga after talking to Akane. She kept glancing over at her stereo. She began to wonder how many tears the boy had in him. After half an hour of this, she got up and walked downstairs. She found her sister dusting something that, to Nabiki at least, appeared to be perfectly clean.
"Kasumi, something's wrong."
"Ranma. He's up on the roof, and he's been bawling his eyes out for a half hour now. Akane won't go talk to him, and I'm — well, I'm a little worried about him, but I'm no good at sympathizing and stuff. So… could you?", she trailed off, gesturing upward.
"Of course. Just help me get the ladder out."
Kasumi climbed the ladder quickly, and levered herself the final distance up onto the roof. She envied Ranma's ability to simply jump up here.
She slowly walked towards Ranma, taking care not to slip. She stopped about five feet from him. "Ranma?"
"Lemme alone, Ka— *sniff* —Kasumi. I don't wanna see anyone right now."
"Don't you mean you don't want anyone seeing you cry?"
Ranma's head whipped up in indignation, "I ain't crying! Guys don't cry, dammit!"
"You're right, Ranma, guys don't cry. Men do. Men aren't afraid of their own emotions, or what people think of them."
"I-I ain't afraid of nothin'!"
"So are you sure you aren't crying?"
Ranma's shoulders slumped, and when he spoke again, it was in a very small voice. "You're right, I'm crying. Happy now?"
"No. Of course not. You're hurting. What happened?"
"Ryoga asked Akane out. I was outside her door when he did. I didn't mean to eavesdrop, but I was just going to her room to try to make peace after she got home."
"Did you try to stop him?"
"No. I didn't get a chance. She said yes, then Shampoo came outta nowhere and tackled me. We ended up on the floor in Akane's room."
"Oh, my. I can see how that would make her mad."
"Yeah, well. She didn't give me a chance to explain, like always, but instead threw water on us. Then she kicked me out of her room and down the hall. I couldn't get Shampoo off in time. I guess she was scared or somethin', and she set her claws and held on."
"And you were scared."
"Yeah. Then Akane and Ryoga walked out of her room. He pulled Shampoo off me, but then Akane laid into me." Ranma sighed and continued. "She blamed me for messin' up her date, and accused me of wantin' to do… stuff… with Shampoo in her room. I tried to tell her that I wouldn't do that, 'specially when I'm engaged to her, but she was so mad she broke off the engagement, again, and refused to listen to me.
"I just up and walked out. It hurt so bad, though. She doesn't trust me, she hates me, and I'm tired of it."
"She didn't mean it, she was just upset."
"I can't believe that. She means it. Why else would she say it time and time again? I — sorta — cared for her. That's why it hurt. But I've had enough. I can't — won't — take that crap anymore. It's not worth it." He grew visibly angrier with each statement. The last came out as a snarl. Calming, he continued. "I've been thinkin' about something I heard in school today. 'Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'."
"From the Declaration of Independence."
"Yeah, that. Anyway, I been thinkin', I'm sure as hell not happy, so maybe I should start pursuing it."
"I'm sorry, Ranma. I think Akane would be, too, if her pride would let her be."
"Her pride is no longer my problem. She broke the engagement again, but for once I agree. I'm breaking it from my end, too."
"I see. Our fathers aren't going to be happy about that."
"I know. I gotta find a way to satisfy honor."
Silence reigned for a moment as the two chewed over their thoughts.
"If the family honor means I'm gonna be miserable for the rest of my life, then it can go jump off a pier. I've suffered enough for honor."
"What will you do?"
"I dunno. Probably just leave. Renounce my name, so I don't have to worry about fiancées, or debts, or my mom. Then go looking for happiness somewhere else. I don't wanna marry anyone who's chasing me now, anyway. Shampoo would have me be her "househusband" when we got back to the Amazon village, Ucchan? Hell… I still think of her as a guy! I'd just as soon marry Ryoga. Kodachi's nuts. Akane — well, she hates me."
"I see. Those are problems."
"Yeah. Thing is, I wanna see my mom again. I miss her — a lot. But if I reject my name, I'll never get to be her son." He paused for a moment, then continued, "Hey… Kasumi? I got an idea, but I need your help."
"What is it?"
"Well, it like this; I'll give honor one last chance. The agreement said a Tendo daughter. It don't have to be Akane."
"Oh, my. You mean, me?"
"Yeah. We get along, right? Way better than me and Akane, at least. We just try it out, and if we don't… well… hit it off, I leave, and never come back."
"What about Nabiki?"
"How'd ya know I was up here tonight? S'okay, you don't gotta answer. I couldn't live with that. I gotta have some privacy."
"Well, I really don't want to see you abandon your name, Ranma, and of course I want to keep my family's honor intact. I guess my answer is yes."
"I suppose it would be too much to ask that one of your reasons be fondness for me, too."
"Don't be silly, Ranma. I wouldn't agree if I didn't at least like you."
"Good. I've had enough of forcing myself on women who hate me."
"So.. Fiancés?", Ranma said, holding out his hand to Kasumi.
"Fiancés," she replied, and took his hand. She softly sat down beside him.
Ranma leaned back carefully and relaxed. After talking things through, he felt much better, and was able to look at the stars and again appreciate their beauty. He felt Kasumi lay back beside him, still holding his hand.
"Do you know where any constellations are, Kasumi?"
She pointed up and showed him fanciful animals and mythic men. They stayed there and watched the stars until late at night. Kasumi worried only briefly about her interrupted dusting.
Inside, Nabiki had a worried look on her face. "Akane's not gonna like this…"
To be continued.
Author’s notes: I removed the cat-fist scene as I felt it was too contrived, and that the catfist itself is too much of a fanfic cliché (especially in Ranma/Kasumi fics. weird, huh?). Hopefully, the new scene flows a bit better and seems more natural. I'm trying hard to keep everyone in character as much as I can. The only people I want OOC are Ranma (more introspective, and tired of the crap), and Kasumi (having a personality at all, beyond the caricature of the perfect housewife). It's tough to keep Akane in character, but I think I've managed to avoid the fanfic cliché pitfall of the "demonic Akane" who can do no right. My Akane is quick tempered and immature, but she does love Ranma, and will learn from her mistakes. Will it be in time? I'm not telling.
Revised May 13, 2005
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