A Ranma ½ / Love Hina crossover story
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video. Love Hina belongs to Ken Akamatsu, Kodansha Comics, Shounen Magazine Comics, TV Tokyo and Pioneer Entertainment. Ken-san banzai!
Foreword: The "Ranma" divergence takes place before Nodoka's introduction, but after the Shi Shi Hokodan story arc. The "Love Hina" part is an alternate universe that uses a mix of the anime and manga sources. There are spoilers if you haven't read through the manga or haven't seen the entire set of Love Hina TV series, OVAs, and specials.
Chapter 1: Memory
The scene was blurry and faded by the passage of time and numerous impacts by blunt objects to the head. But he could still see the sandbox. And the plump stuffed beaver animal doll. He would never ever forget anything looking that silly.
"Do you want to know a secret?"
Two kids were playing in the sand, one slightly bigger then other. He couldn't make out their faces, only vague shadows and impressions.
"If two people go to Todai together, they'll find their happiness there."
He wanted to find happiness too. He opened his mouth to call out to them, but only silence emerged.
"Let's make a promise to meet in Todai."
He wanted to go too! He started running toward them as fast as he could, trying to catch up to them before they vanished like they always did. "Wait for me! Wait! Don't leave me behind!" He didn't want to forget them like he always did when morning came. If he could only make it before the kiss
"It's a promise!"
Too late. Again.
He cried out, "Todai!" and with a start, Ranma Saotome woke up.
"Ugggh, what the hell was I dreaming about this time?" The last wispy fragments slipped through his mental grasp like quicksilver, vanishing along with the last holdouts of the previous night in the blindingly bright morning sun. He hated that feeling of not being able to remember anything, but there was nothing he could actually do about it. "What time is it anyway?"
It was rare for him to be able to get up like a normal person. Thanks to the usual suspects, mornings usually came too damn early for him. But this morning none of them had shown up yet. Weird. He wondered how long his luck would last today. If previous experiences were any indicator, probably not much longer.
With a yawn and a groan, he threw off the warmth of the blanket and sat up on the beaten-up old futon. It might beat sleeping on the ground, but not by much.
The Tendos didn't have the slightest clue of how good they had it here. There had been times on the training trip when Ranma would have happily kicked somebody else's ass to be able to sleep on a real mattress.
The brisk morning chill in the air worked better then any cup of coffee to shake the last cobwebs of slumber from his body. From his new vantage point, he was able to see that the angle of the light streaming in from the window was relatively low, indicating that he probably hadn't overslept much. A pity; he could have used the extra rest.
One quick glance across the room was enough to verify that Genma wasn't here. With a regretful look, he got up and stepped away from the temptation of simply going back to sleep Which was just as well, because there was a strange restlessness in him today, and it bothered him. He wondered if it had something to do with the dream that he couldn't remember. Maybe.
It was the most disturbing sensation. He felt lonely.
What am I missing?
Ranma had been so preoccupied that he'd hardly tasted breakfast. It might as well have been mush and gruel; he probably wouldn't have noticed any difference. Even the absence of Soun and Genma barely registered.
Am I happy?
He was really starting to dislike this feeling.
Shouldn't I be?
This kind of uncertainty had no business in his life. He was a martial artist. One of the best. He had to be; otherwise that would mean the last ten years of his life had been wasted for nothing. Surely that was enough?
But no matter how hard he tried, Ranma could not shake the cloud of unease that hung over him.
What else is there for me?
Tired of putting up with the strange looks that Akane and Nabiki had been giving him all morning, he'd decided to go out for a walk. It had taken him a bit longer to lose them when they'd tried to follow him. But the final outcome had never been in doubt. After all, neither one of them were up to roof-hopping.
Now he was just randomly strolling along the streets of Nerima, taking care to keep a safe distance from the Nekohanten and Ucchan's Okonomiyaki restaurant. The longer he could put off running into someone that he knew, the better. He didn't feel up to another one of those all out free-for-alls that seemed to be breaking out more and more frequently lately.
Damn it, what was wrong with him today?!
"Thank you, Gwan-ma!"
He turned to see a cute little tyke who didn't look a day over five give a wrinkled old woman a warm hug. It was nothing. Just a simple family scene. And yet, something held his attention there.
"You're welcome, dearie."
What was this tight, burning feeling in his chest? Jealousy?! But why? What was he getting so upset about? Just because he didn't have any memories of his family like that .
He didn't did he?
He could remember training, cold nights with not enough to eat, and his father always fighting with him for food. But for the life of him, Ranma could not remember a genuinely happy moment spent with his parent. Did he even have a mother? Or grandparents? Was the old man all the family he really had?
Suddenly he didn't feel like walking anymore.
The tense feeling that had been hanging in the empty cavern of his stomach turned cold and queasy as he returned to the Tendo home. Something was up. The excited voices coming from the living room could only mean one thing. Trouble.
He entered to find the household in an uproar. Soun was weeping, whether in happiness or sorrow he didn't know. Not that it made much of a difference to him either way. Nabiki was eyeing him like a piece of expensive meat or a large denomination yen note. It was hard to tell the difference sometimes with her. Not a good sign.
Looking at Kasumi didn't help. She would probably still have that same happy little expression even if Martians were to suddenly invade the neighborhood with handheld Deathrays while screaming about "Love and Peace!"
Hmm? What was going on? Were those yen notes his old man was holding? Where the heck did he get so many of them? And why was Akane giving him such a dirty look? What was he being blamed for this time?
Then he spotted the envelope addressed to him, or rather what was left of it. Torn and smudged, it bore all the signs of having been in several hands so far. At first glance it looked empty, but then he noticed a small letter that had somehow been overlooked by the others and was still lying hidden inside. He pulled it out slowly. It seemed to have escaped the notice of everyone else who had gone through his mail, and he was determined to protect this small remnant of his personal privacy. Ranma looked down and started to read.
His heart froze. The words kept echoing in his brain over and over.
Your grandmother passed away.
Genma had never told him.
He didn't know how long he kept staring at the paper clutched in his hands, his eyes blurring from the pain in his heart that he could not, dared not acknowledge. He was a man. And men did not cry.
"Don't worry, boy! Your father will take care of all this money. I only want what's best for you. Ah, the priest is finally here!"
A peculiar pressure began building up inside Ranma's head as soon as he heard that gloating tone. A dreadful premonition of something so unspeakable that for one of the few times in his life, the young man silently prayed that his intuition was wrong.
Please. Just this once, don't do this to me.
"Perfect! We can hold the wedding ceremony immediately, Saotome! After all these years, our retirement of beer and shogi has come!"
Bile clawed at Ranma's tightening throat while his shaken mind tried to cope with this unbelievable turn of events.
"I won't marry him!"
He heard Akane's words as if from a great distance, for there was a dull roar filling his ears now, as if the ocean itself had been summoned into his skull, knocking aside the very pillars of his existence as if they were mere castles in the sand.
"If you don't want Ranma, I'll be more then happy to take him now that he's got some actual money."
"That's the Tendo spirit, girls!"
"Dad! How can you say that?!
Ten years. The training, his sacrifices, the loneliness. All of it for nothing. No home. No real friends. Not even a bed to call his own. And now this.
"Jealous? Of that idiot? Never!""
"I'm sure Shampoo and Ukyo will be happy to hear that."
"They can have him, for all I care!"
A cold black void started seeping into Ranma's very being. He felt empty. Completely drained of all hope, all joy. Even Cologne's Soul of Ice training had never pierced this deeply through him.
"Stop staring and say something, Ranma! Try to think about how I feel for once instead only thinking about yourself!"
"Boy! You will marry Akane, and that's that!"
"Don't you dare try to leave my daughter at the altar!"
"I've got the tuxedo ready over here, Father."
"I won't marry him!"
"Time to start paying off your tab, Ranma."
It was simply too much. The letter crumpled as he balled both hands into shaking fists.
Something shattered deep inside of him.
And he ran.
To be continued.
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