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
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.
Ranma knocked on the door, just below the wooden duck bearing Akane's name.
Ranma opened the door and entered, attempting and failing to appear casual.
"What do you want, Ranma?" said Akane, not turning from where she sat at her desk.
"Umm… I need to talk to you, Akane," he stammered.
"Okay. Go ahead," she said, turning around to face him.
God she's beautiful. Why'd I ever call her uncute? Ranma stood silent for a moment, trying to speak, unsuccessfully.
"Well? Talk already, you idiot!"
No! I'm tryin' to tell her I love her! I won't fight! Ranma thought as he clenched his hands into fists. "Akane, I-I love you. I have for a while now." There. I said it!
Akane rocked back in her seat with a stunned expression on her face. Which changed quickly into amusement. "You love me? That's the funniest thing I've ever heard! Don't you get it? I hate you! I never wanted to be engaged to you, and would never marry you! I've tried everything I could think of to get rid of you since you first got here! Hitting you several times a day, cooking nuclear waste, sabotaging your cures and your relationships with your other fiancées, but nothing's worked! And now you say you love me? THAT'S PATHETIC! HAHAHAHAHA!!"
Ranma grabbed his head in his hands and screamed, "NOOOOOOOOOO!"
Ranma sat up in bed, grabbed his head in his hands and screamed, "NOOOOOOOOOO!!!" Ranma looked around wildly, trying to see in all directions at once. It was only a dream. He settled back into his covers, thinking wildly. Only a dream, only a dream, only a dream, Akane doesn't hate me. Akane doesn't… Ah, crap… Memories of the previous night crashed down on Ranma. She does hate me. Oh, god, I'm depressed.
"Akane…" He said wistfully, staring at the ceiling.
He read a sign saying, "Quiet, boy," as it swooped through its arc and smashed into his face.
Kasumi woke with a smile on her face. She had breakfast all planned out, and all she had to do was cook it. The hard part, the planning and preparation, was already done. She rose and walked to the bathroom, knocking on the door to the bath, just to be sure it was empty. She set down the clothes she'd brought from her room, and pulled off her nightgown. She folded it carefully, then placed it next to her clothes. She went into the bath, scrubbed and washed in the cold water, then got into the hot bathtub to soak.
As she sat in the tub, she mentally went over her plans for the day. First, to fix breakfast for everyone, then make lunches for Nabiki, Akane, and Ranma… Ranma. The events of the previous night came barreling out of the shady corners of her memory and took up position in the forefront of her mind. "Oh, my, I'm engaged now. I suppose I'll have to fix Ranma a special lunch today."
Ranma awoke some time later. His father was still asleep, which suited him fine. He was so wound up, if he'd had to spar with the panda this morning, he probably would've pounded him into next week.
After hurrying through his morning bath, he joined Kasumi in the kitchen. "Mornin', Kasumi. Is Akane up yet?"
"Yes, Ranma, I think she's out jogging," Kasumi replied as she poured a spoonful of soup into a tasting dish.
"Okay. I think I'm gonna go catch her. I wanna talk to her away from everyone else."
"That's a good idea. Try not to hurt her feelings, alright?"
"I'll try, but no promises."
As Ranma left, Kasumi sipped at the broth and decided it needed more salt.
"Yo, Akane! Wait up!"
Akane turned and glanced over her shoulder. There was Ranma, running to catch up to her. Her first thought was to stop and wait for him, then she remembered that she was supposed to be mad at him. "Why would I do that?"
"Jeez, Akane, what'cha mad about now?" he said as he caught up to her.
"As if you have to ask!" Akane huffed as she crossed her arms showed him her back.
"Yes, I have to ask, 'cause you never tell me!"
Ranma reached out, intent on grabbing her shoulder, but checked the motion as she whirled around.
"You were groping Shampoo in my room, and you let her beat up poor Ryoga! That's why I'm mad!" She stood firmly, with her hands on her hips, in the classic pose of a woman lambasting her man.
"Shampoo tackled me, like she always does, and I'm not in control of Shampoo."
"That doesn't change the fact that you still let her hurt him."
"Why do you care so much about that guy? You don't seem to mind when he beats the tar outta me," Ranma said in a slightly hurt voice.
"Because he's not a pervert like you! Besides, why should I care about you?"
Ranma clenched his fists and visibly controlled his growing anger. "Good! If you don't care about me, then this'll be easier!" Ranma all but shouted.
"What are you talking about?"
"We ain't engaged anymore. You broke it from your end, I'm breakin' it from mine. I'm engaged to Kasumi now."
"Good! I feel sorry for her, but I'm glad I don't have to deal with you anymore!" Akane said heatedly.
Biting back an oath, Ranma spun on his heel and leapt away, hoping she hadn't seen his tears.
Kasumi was putting the finishing touches on breakfast when Ranma walked in.
"I told her."
Kasumi looked up from the rice she was putting into a serving dish. "And?"
Ranma walked up to her and leaned on the counter next to her, stopping only long enough to snag a lump of rice at chestnut-fist speed, earning a knuckle-rap almost as fast. "Ow!"
"Wait to eat with the rest of us. So what happened?"
With a longsuffering sigh, he slumped back against the cupboard and spoke. "She said she felt sorry for you, but that she was happy the engagement was over."
Kasumi sighed. "Somehow, I doubt it."
Ranma straightened and opened the cupboard he had been leaning against. "Yeah, well, that's her problem. Wanna hand setting the table?"
Kasumi replied positively, and Ranma started pulling dishes from the shelves. "I've been wanting to try this for a while," Ranma said as he threw the dishes into the air.
"Oh, my! What are you doing with my plates, Ranma?"
As he juggled a score or more plates, cups, bowls and chopsticks in the air, Ranma replied, "Setting the table."
"Oh," said Kasumi, not comforted in the least by his response.
"Watch." Said Ranma as he moved into the dining room. In a dizzying display of speed and martial precision, Ranma flipped dishes from their orbits in his juggling pattern to their proper places on the table. Amazingly, none of them broke or even seemed to hit the table very hard. As Ranma continued around the table, he reached Soun’s spot, where the elder Tendo already sat, reading his morning paper. As Ranma reached Soun's spot, a wind seemed to come out of nowhere and flapped the pages of the newspaper wildly, switching from the finance section all the way back to the sports news.
Ranma, having finished setting the table, stepped to the side and took a bow. Only then did he notice Soun Tendo sitting in his spot with a bedraggled newspaper and a shell-shocked expression. Kasumi couldn't help but clap and she barely held in a giggle.
"Oops, sorry, Mr. Tendo, didn't see ya there," mumbled Ranma, looking at his feet with an abashed expression on his face.
Soun snapped out of his surprise and said, "That's all right, son, but how did you do that?"
"Easy! It's like the speed training I did at the Cat Cafe! I just use the chestnut fist to juggle all the dishes at once, toss 'em out in the right area, catch 'em right before they land, and put 'em in the right spot."
Kasumi really did giggle at that. "Ranma, is there anything that you don't approach as training?"
"Uh, no. Should there be?" he said, confused.
"Of course not, boy! All of life is training to the true martial artist!" said a large panda as it walked into the room. Or rather, a sign the panda held said.
"Good morning, Mr. Saotome," said Kasumi in her normal cheerful way.
The panda's spun his sign with a practiced twist. "Good morning, Kasumi dear."
"Breakfast will be ready in just a moment, father, Mr. Saotome."
"Thank you, Kasumi. That sounds wonderful."
"Growf." The panda spun his sign once again, and it said: "Then I'll wait to take my bath."
"Stupid old man, Kasumi didn't fix bamboo this mornin'! Go take your bath. Just be quick about it!" Ranma yelled as he kicked his father in the general direction of the bath. "Want me to help ya bring out the food Kasumi?" Ranma said as he walked back toward the kitchen door.
"No, thank you, Ranma, that's all right, but I don't think we need you juggling the food as well as the dishes," she replied with a smile.
"Hey! I didn't drop any!"
No doubt about it. Kasumi giggled again.
Where am I? thought Ryoga as he awoke. Wherever I am, the decor leaves a lot to be desired. Ryoga found himself in a very small room, barely bigger than a walk-in closet. In it was a futon, a tiny dresser, a red urn seemingly filled with panties, and a small, iron-bound chest. The walls were covered in posters. Naughty posters.
In every direction Ryoga looked, he saw several square feet of exposed female flesh. By virtue of reflex, his hand flew to his nose to attempt to stop the river of blood that was sure to come. But nothing happened.
Ryoga pulled his still-bloodless hand from his nose and looked around in wonder. He hadn't fainted! His nose didn't bleed! Kami be praised! He could go to the beach again!
But how? How did this happen to him? Memories began to return. Shampoo did something to him. That was why he could look at the pictures! He had asked Akane out! And she even said yes! Ranma. Ranma did something. With… Shampoo. And hurt Akane's feelings. Ranma must DIE! Now if I could just find him….
The door slid open. "Hey, Ryoga, good to see you're awake. Breakfast is ready. For a thousand yen, I'll lead you to the dining room."
"I've got a better bargain, Nabiki. Lead me to a nice restaurant and I'll treat. Then maybe a movie, if you're interested," Ryoga said as he stood and suavely took Nabiki's hand.
"Please, Ryoga, I know you're gaga over my sister. Why are you asking me out? Just trying to practice?"
"Akane? Nah, she's obsessed with Ranma, so I've moved on. I like more mature women anyway." As Ryoga said these things, his mind was in a whirl. I can't stop talking! I don't want to date Nabiki! I love Akane! Why can't I let go of her hand? Wait… Shampoo said she hit the Casanova point! Does that mean I'll ask out any girl I see? Arrrgh! Ranma, this is all your fault!
"Oh, really? Well then, by all means, follow me."
"I'd be delighted," said Ryoga as he followed her out the door of Happosai's room. Inwardly, he was cringing.
Breakfast was a tense matter. Nabiki was mysteriously absent, and Akane was grimly quiet. For once in their lives, Soun and Genma picked up on the tension and decided not to add to it. Of course, this didn't stop Genma from trying to steal food off Ranma's plate, or Ranma from defending his food automatically.
Finally, Kasumi spoke up. "Ranma, don't you think you should tell them about your decision?"
The two fathers stared at Ranma with ill-concealed impatience.
"Okay, I'll tell! The long and short of it is this: I ain't marryin' Akane. She—"
Soun and Genma leapt to their feet and shouted as one. "Son!" "Boy!" ""How could you do this…"" "…to me?" "…to your father?"
"I AIN'T FINISHED YET!"
More surprised than scared by Ranma's outburst, the fathers sat back down.
"Like I was tryin' t'say, she hates me. I dunno why, but she does. I ain't gonna force myself on someone who hates me."
Seeing the growing interruption in his father's eyes, Ranma glared at him and said, "Lemme finish, old man. 'Cause unlike you, pops, I actually care about my honor an' my family's. I talked to Kasumi, and we agreed to try out bein' engaged. No promises, though. If it don't work out, I'm gone. A ronin don't need family honor."
"You'll do no such thing, boy. If you do, your mother will kill me!" said Genma.
"Then you'll just have to keep hiding from her like you've been for the last ten years! Right now, you don't gotta worry about it. I wanna see mom again. That's why me an' Kasumi are tryin' it out. Now I gotta get to school. Later, old man. Goodbye, Kasumi."
Ranma walked to school in a funk. He kept thinking about what Akane had said earlier. She didn't care about him. But how did that stack up against the things she'd done for him before? When he'd angered Happosai the first time he came around, and been kicked out of the house, she'd come out and found him, and even brought him food. Speaking of food, she was always trying to cook for him, even though she couldn't. Didn't that say something?
Yet, the words she spoke this morning and the night before said something, too. And their message was loud and clear. Akane didn't love him. And if she didn't hate him, she hated the idea of marrying him. Which amounted to the same thing, given the odd nature of their relationship. And that meant, even though he hated the thought, she would be happiest with him out of her life.
He would do whatever he could to make her happy. Because that's what you do for the ones you love.
Shampoo was excited. Ranma had asked her out on a date! True, it was in exchange for her leaving him alone last night, but he had asked! She was willing to take what she could get when it came to Ranma. He had proved surprisingly difficult to wrap around her finger. The elders said that seducing men was fun and easy, because they were by nature weak-willed, and all that a woman need do to catch one was flash a little skin and smile a lot. It didn't work on Ranma. Nor did her skintight outfits. Or showing up in his bed in the middle of the night. Or much of anything else she'd tried. She hoped he didn't secretly like boys. Maybe that's why Ryoga hated him so much… Suddenly, Shampoo was struck by a vision of Ranma and Ryoga, Ryoga looking and sounding like he had after she used the Casanova Point on him, and Ranma looking like he did when he was shopping for food in his girl form. Very cute and sweet. They leaned towards each other slowly, eyes closed, lips searching.
"Oh, no! Airen not go to pig-boy for love! Shampoo love you too, too much!!" Shampoo cried as she stood up and assumed a dramatic pose. Unfortunately, the branch she was standing on wasn't wide enough to accommodate dramatic poses. Unable to catch herself, she fell to the ground and landed in a heap.
Akane walked to school alone for the first time in months. It was an odd experience. She kept glancing at the fence, half expecting Ranma to be there. That idiot. Didn't he know that she lov- liked him a lot? She'd always said differently when she was mad, but he just had to know how she really felt, didn't he?
Apparently not. He thought she hated him. Well, she'd just have to show him that he was wrong. Akane continued walking, thoughts of how to show Ranma her feelings filling her mind.
Ranma walked towards Shampoo's unconscious form. She was sprawled at the base of a tree, mumbling something unintelligible. As he approached, he heard her clearly say, "No, Ryoga!" then something that sounded like "love", then a clear "Ranma". Had Ryoga beaten Shampoo?
P-chan was good enough, Ranma knew, but why would he? He knew Amazon law, or at least the relevant part. But, if Ryoga had beaten Shampoo, she'd have to start chasing him instead of Ranma! It was a blow to his ego for Ranma to lose any of the girls chasing him, especially to Ryoga, but in the long run, he wouldn't mind being rid of Shampoo and her great-grandmother.
Ranma proceeded to school with a bit more spring in his step.
"Are you sure you don't want to see a movie, Nabiki?" said Ryoga in his strangely suave voice.
"Thank you, Ryoga, but I need to get to school. Maybe tomorrow?" Nabiki smiled as she spoke. Ryoga had a lot more money than she'd thought. It was fun spending other people's money!
"Sure, Nabiki. I'd love to."
"See you later!"
She spun on her heel and ran towards the school building.
Ryoga stared after her for a moment, then turned and leaned against the school gate. That had been strange. He'd been himself most of the time, but any time he tried to leave or tell Nabiki he loved Akane, something took over, and turned what he was saying into something from a girl's manga! He had to get Shampoo to take off this Casanova point if it was going to do this to him! Now how to find her?
"Hey, P-chan. Congratulations."
Ryoga looked up. In front of him stood Ranma, currently female and slightly damp. He'd been so deep in thought, he hadn't noticed Ranma's approach.
"What are you talking about, you jerk? And don't call me that!" was what he tried to say. What he really said was, "Thank you, Ranma. Would you like me to take you to breakfast to celebrate?"
Ranma blinked. Nothing changed, so he blinked again. Ryoga stubbornly insisted upon existing, so he said, "Ryoga, did you get hit really hard on the head or somethin'?"
"No, Ranma, I just realized what an attractive woman you are when you want to be," Ryoga responded, giving Ranma a smooth smile. Inwardly, Ryoga was screaming in abject horror.
Ranma was detained from replying due to his jaw working up and down in a rhythmic fashion. Suddenly, a purple blur flashed by Ranma, impacted on Ryoga, and resolved itself into Shampoo.
"Ryoga, what you doing, stupid pig-boy? You no ask out Ranma!" she yelled as she began pummeling Ryoga about the head.
"Now, Shampoo -ow- you know I wouldn't -oof- ask Ranma out, I was warming -eep- up to asking -yowtch- you out, of course!", he managed to get out between bashings.
Ranma shook his head, decided to leave them to their games, then wandered off towards the school in search of hot water.
The school day passed slowly, seeming to drag on for endless stretches while Ranma stared at Akane's back until their classmates were wondering when it was going to catch fire. Occasionally, Akane shot a glance back at Ranma. Whether she caught him looking at her, somewhere else, or nowhere at all, she never seemed satisfied with what she saw there. Ranma was extremely grateful when, at long last, the final bell rang.
As he walked home from school, something was bothering Ranma, but he didn't know what it was. Trying to puzzle it out, he wandered around town, aimlessly walking in a pattern usually reserved for Hibikis. Unable to find an answer, he looked around him to get his bearings, so he could go home. The first structure he laid eyes on was Dr. Tofu's clinic. "Oh, yeah," he said, feeling intense guilt building inside of him, "That."
To be continued.
Author's notes: Didn't change a whole lot in this chapter, just the conversation between Ranma and Akane where he tells her the bad news. Had to adjust for the removal of the cat-fist scene in the last chapter. Fixed random spelling errors. Pretty sure I missed a bunch still. *sigh*
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