Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma, despite my many attempts to impersonate Rumiko Takihashi at the bank. I think they were tipped off by the whole 'not being Japanese' thing. ^_^

C&C makes me write faster. I also get kind of depressed if I don't get any comments. Helpful criticism is appreciated too. Flames I find morbidly funny. Complements make me want to write. Nothing.... makes me sad =(

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Lost Days Lamenting Lost Days

Prologue

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The sun was setting on the Nerima district, bathing the town in a soft orange-red light. Night would soon fall, bringing with it climatic martial arts battles, crazy fiancée chasing women, and many other strange creatures that called Nerima their homes while lowering (or raising, depending on who you ask) the property values of Nerima.

Ukyou Kuonji walked happily down a sidewalk on her way to meet her Ranchan. The cool spring air was slightly damp and felt invigorating as the wind blew. The cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom and occasionally dotted the sidewalk. She stopped a moment to admire one as it slowly made its chaotic journey to earth. It fluttered to the ground and joined its brethren on the newly paved sidewalk.

She smiled.

It was such a beautiful day! Everything was going great. She had made a killing at Ucchan's today, and now she was on her way to give her Ranchan an especially made okonomiyaki. Extra work had been put into it. The toppings had been applied lovingly and with care. She had even written "Ranchan plus Ucchan Forever!" on the top with sauce. She doubted he would actually see the writing before he inhaled it, but it never hurt to try. The warm box clutched next to her chest felt good... like a hug from an old friend.

Of course, she didn't have many old friends, but the metaphor was still nice.

"Would Ranchan's embrace feel like this?" Her hand clutched the takeout box tightly.

This time she was going to show him that they belonged together. That bimbo Shampoo wouldn't stand a chance! Ranchan can barely even understand the hussy! Feh...

And Kodachi? Ha! That was laughable. He was afraid of the insane gymnast. That wasn't exactly a basis for a good relationship. She couldn't really blame Ranma either. The girl was CREEPY. She'd end up in prison for attempted murder before she would end up in a wedding dress!

And Akane well... sure he was nice to her at times. But that was just him being nice in general! He only tolerates the engagement because he believes strongly in family honor!

Ukyou smiled wider. Ranchan was like that! He was such a good guy. TOO good of a guy sometimes. He let that gorilla girl beat up on him all the time because he was too much of a gentleman to do anything about it. Well, Ukyou wasn't going to allow it to continue! She was NOT going to let him get stuck in a loveless marriage! She was engaged to him too! It was just as good!

She never got in fights with him and they didn't call each other names. How could everyone not see how perfect it would be? She was going to save him and they'd live happily ever after.

Ukyou stopped abruptly and a troubled expression crossed her face. The wind lifted up her hair and spread it in tendrils across her shoulders. Cherry blossoms rained on her from overhead, a few got caught up in the long chestnut strands of her hair.

"Why does he do that?" She shook her head. Poor Ranchan was just getting picked on, after all. Akane insults him too; most of the time it was in retaliation. Right? Sure, Ranchan put his foot in his mouth sometimes, but no one was perfect. Akane didn't have to freak out all the time.

A long sigh escaped Ukyou's lips as she gazed up at the sky.

The first star of the night had twinkled into existence. She was tempted to make a wish, but quickly cast the thought away. Wishing never got anyone anything. She wasn't the type to just wait around for her prince to come. Ukyou Kuonji made her own fate.

The okonomiyaki chef slid her gaze from the stars and continued her walk. She walked for several blocks in silence, listening to the wind rustle through the trees. Before she knew it, the Tendo gate stood before her. Its patched and marred surface made her smile. Ranchan could be a little hard on the scenery. She went to push the large wooden doors open...and stopped at the sound of voices.

"You don't have the guts."

Was that Akane? Ukyou peered through a crack in the gate.

"It's not that."

On the other side of the fence, Ranma and Akane stood arguing by the koi pond. They were alone. If Ukyou didn't know any better, she would have sworn they both were blushing. She squinted her eyes.

"You chicken?" Akane took a step toward Ranma. The two were nearly touching. Ukyou resisted the urge to attack her right there.

She slowed her breathing and tried to remain silent.

"Am not! It's just..." Ranma's voice faded out. A bead of sweat rolled down his brow.

"Just what?" Akane's voice took on a dangerous edge, daring him to say the next expected line.

A gentle wind blew in from the west, ruffling Akane and Ranma's hair. The stars twinkled overhead and the moon cast a silver glow on the couple. Akane's threatening demeanor had disappeared. She looked on Ranma with a look of... anxiousness... hope? Ukyou wasn't sure.

But she didn't like it one damn bit.

Suddenly, Ranma grabbed Akane's hand and swung her toward him in one smooth, quick motion. He cupped her face with his palm; his fingertips were like the touch of a feather on her chin. His head tilted down and he pressed his lips against her's in a tender kiss. Akane's eyes widened in shock but she didn't pull away.

It was all very beautiful and romantic if you weren't the girl watching all her hopes and dreams shatter like a fragile heart of glass; every shard, ripped and cut into her soul.

This wasn't happening. SHE was the cute fiancée. It couldn't be happening... it just couldn't be.

But she was unable to wrench her eyes away. It was like looking at a car wreck, you didn't want to, but you couldn't stop gawking... Didn't they ever need air?

It was just one kiss. It should have meant nothing, but the look in their eyes... She knew that look. She would have to be blind not to know it. It was the same way she looked at Ranch--

She numbly stepped away from the wall. Her face was emotionless as she turned and walked away from the home. The warm okonomiyaki next to her chest reminded her of its presence. She tossed it in a nearby trashcan with the other... trash.

Ukyou Kuonji headed back to her own, empty restaurant. She didn't even feel the tears as they started to streak down her face.

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Ryouga was lost. He knew it. Everyone else expected it. The world was on the proverbial straight and narrow when he was wandering around aimlessly. Hell, he suddenly getting a sense of direction would probably be one of the signs of the end of the world. His bad sense of direction was something he knew he couldn't fix. All Hibiki's had it. There wasn't any way around it. That didn't mean he had to like it, though.

Every once in awhile, during the lonely winter nights, he would find himself thinking of what he would do with a sense of direction. It was a guilty pleasure. He knew it wasn't healthy to think of things that could never be, but he couldn't help it. Besides, it helped pass the long journeys. Of course, he'd go to Jusenkyou first and rid himself of the pig curse. Then he'd return and defeat Ranma. The details of how he would do that were sketchy at best, but he figured he would burn that bridge when he came to it. It couldn't be _THAT_ hard if he had a sense of direction. After that, maybe he could go to school... it had been so long since he had went to school. It would have been nice to graduate.

His mother had always wanted him to get a good education.

Ryouga sighed and dragged himself from his inner musings. He should know by now not to dream of the impossible. Like a crippled dreaming of walking, it hurt to dream, but it also hurt not to.

The paved streets he was walking on seemed oddly out of place for the location. The lost boy looked around himself, seeing shop after identical shop pass by. He pulled his cloak closer to his body. Fellow pedestrians gave him a wide berth. He knew it was chilly in the mountains but... sidewalks? What will they think of next?

A familiar face passed by his line of sight, making him blink.

What was Ukyou doing in the mountains?

He waved at her to get her attention. "Hey Ukyou!" His voice went unnoticed as she kept walking.

Ryouga frowned. If he followed her, she might lead him to her restaurant. In the last few days, all he had eaten were mushrooms. At least, they were the normal kind. The thought of a warm okonomiyaki really appealed to him. He couldn't let her out of his sight.

"Ukyou wait up!"

Her head was cast down; the long strands of her hair fell across her face. She took a random direction, not caring or paying attention to where she was going. Ryouga started to jog to catch up with her. He almost reached her when she turned and walked into the road.

"Idiot, get out of the road!" Ryouga heard a car's horn. He turned his head and saw a semi truck barreling down the road at high speed. Ukyou didn't look up as the truck's lights illuminated her. Without thinking, he ran and pushed her out of the way. The last thing he saw was the grill of the semi coming towards his face...

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Lost Days Lamenting Lost Days

Chapter 1

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"Heh, I can't believe the boy's still alive."

"Yeah, he should be a smear on the pavement from the speed the semi was going."

What was going on? Why was everything so dark?

"Suction."

"There you go doctor."

Where were the voices coming from?

"I hear he's one of those Nerima martial artists."

"Well that explains a lot. Although, I bet he hadn't trained for that tractor tailor."

"I wouldn't talk Akira. I heard he saved some girl's life."

Where the hell was he now?!

"Doctor his pulse is weakening."

"Damn it!"

"He's flatlined!"

"Give me the paddles! . . . Clear!"

Ryouga was confused and had no idea where he was. Usually nothing would be out of the ordinary with that, but he felt... different. Something wasn't right. He felt so lightheaded. It was almost like he was rising... higher and higher. It was a weird sense of detachment, not really being pulled or lifted just... going up. All around him was empty blackness, but he thought he saw a speck of light in the distance. Was that his Uncle Haru standing by that river? Nah couldn't be... Uncle Haru was dead... or lost in the Bermuda Triangle like his mom always insisted.

"Again! Clear!"

He rose even higher. The light was almost at his fingertips now. Did he have fingertips? Oh well... closer and closer he came until suddenly... he stopped.

"We got him back doctor!"

Ryouga opened his eyes. He was in some kind of operating room. Weird, he'd never gotten lost in one of those before. He looked across the room where some poor sap was being operated on. The guy was a bloody mess, like he was hit by a speeding truck or something. Doctors hovered over his prone form cutting, sucking, poking, and lots of other things that made Ryouga feel slightly queasy.

The lost boy turned and walked quietly out of the room. He didn't want to disturb them and have them accidentally cut out something they weren't supposed to.

He walked through a side door and picked a random direction. Periodically, he passed doctors and patients as he walked through the wallpapered hallways. No one stopped him or asked him why he was there. It didn't bother him much. He was used to indifferent people. Taking a right, he entered a small waiting area.

Akane, Ranma, Ukyou, Genma, and the rest of the Tendo family sat in the waiting area. Ukyou held her face in her hand, choking down sobs. Akane tried to console her, but she was worse for wear herself. Ranma stood in front of a large bay window silently gazing out at the stars. His expression was for once, unreadable.

The rest of the occupants sat quietly, wringing their hands. Well, except Nabiki, she was reading a magazine in the corner. Free manga was nothing to be scoffed at, regardless of the situation.

"Hey everyone, what's going on?" Ryouga scratched his head.

"He was always such a nice young man." Soun's voice cut through the silence of the room, seeming to not notice Ryouga.

"Stop saying _WAS_ dad." Akane glared at her father. "He's going to be fine. I know it." She looked up at Ranma for support, but he continued to look out of the window silently.

Ryouga raised an eyebrow. Whoa, did someone get hurt? Everyone in the Tendo family that Ryouga knew was here. Well, Ranma's mother wasn't there, but she wasn't a man as far as he knew. Maybe Akane had a cousin he didn't know about?

Kasumi sat her knitting down. "You're right father. He was such a good friend to Akane."

Eh? Friend? Akane has guy friends? Damn it, there better not be another rival for her affections out there!

"Not you too Kasumi!"

"Oh my... I'm sorry Akane." Kasumi blushed and resumed her knitting.

Genma, for once in human form, cleared his throat. "I'll say this much, he always kept the boy on his toes. He was almost a worthy opponent for him."

Eh? Rival? Did Mousse become Akane's friend while Ryouga wasn't paying attention?

"He IS a worthy opponent." Ranma's voice was low and confident. All eyes turned to regard him. It was the first thing he had said all night.

Ryouga shook his head. Couldn't be Mousse than. That vaguely sounded like respect coming from Ranma. Who the heck would Ranma respect? Did Buddha personally befriend Akane or something?

"And pop, stop talkin about him like he's already gone. He's a lot tougher than he looks. Heh, I'm more worried about the semi. He's gonna be ok." He met Akane's eyes. "Right Akane?"

Akane nodded and smiled. Everyone else was too busy with their own thoughts to notice the way her eyes lit up when he spoke her name. But Ryouga did.

And he didn't like it one damn bit.

Ryouga was about to ask them what was wrong again when a nurse walked into the room.

"Excuse me..." An older nurse, her dark hair shot with streaks of gray, held a clip board in her hand. She cleared her throat to get everyone's attention.

Various degrees of hope and dread spread across the faces of those gathered. Except for Nabiki, who was busy stuffing a couple of manga books into her purse. And not the phonebook kind either, some grief stricken suckers had left graphic novels behind! She could get a couple yen from them if she pawned them at second hand book stores. Heh heh...

"Is... he ok?" Ukyou asked softly hardly daring to know the truth. What if he was dead? Dead because he tried to save her... She didn't even like him very much! Why did the idiot have to do it? They weren't even friends. She didn't know what she would do... if he...

"I don't know miss. I just need the names of the next of kin and a way to contact them." She held a form up expectantly.

Everyone looked at each other for answers. Silence hung in the air until finally, Genma turned toward Ranma. "Boy do you know the kid's parents?"

"No pop we..." he trailed off.

"...never really bothered to ask," Akane finished softly for him.

"Does anyone know a phone number? An address?" The nurse turned back toward Ranma.

"No, I never knew his phone number. I can get to his house but... that's not going to help you contact the Hibikis."

"So you're telling me if this boy dies I will have no way to contact the next of kin? What about the paperwork?" The overweight nurse put her hands on her hips. She hated when people made her work harder. A dead kid without parents on the forms would be a hell of a lot more paperwork. She only had a few months till retirement and she didn't want to have to deal with this crap.

"Shut up! He's not going to die!" Ukyou stood and glared icy daggers at the nurse. The nurse shrugged, nonplussed by Ukyou's outburst. Stupid emotional people. They thought they were the only ones with problems.

Ryouga was confused, but he was used to it.

Why was Ukyou so upset? Did she know Akane's cousin too? He must be one hell of a playboy to get Ukyou too. Ryouga didn't like the guy already. Hopefully, he would get well so Ryouga could punch him a couple times.

"Well, I suppose if no one knows we're going to have to ask him when he wakes up." The nurse sighed melodramatically and turned to leave the room, clipboard in hand.

"Hello?" Ryouga stepped out from the hallway and into the middle of the room. No one turned around or even twitched. "Damn it! Someone pay attention to me!" He waved his hands above his head for emphasis.

What the hell was going on? Why was everyone ignoring him?! It was enough to give a guy complexes!

"_IF_ he wakes up." Ukyou sighed miserably and sat down. She hugged her knees to her chest and tried to get her tears under control. She was tough; tough girls don't cry.

Ryouga walked toward Ranma. He would MAKE Ranma notice him. A nice kick to the head ought to do it. Ryouga pivoted on his heel to deliver a little wallflower justice... or he would have if he hadn't passed through him. Ryouga landed on the floor in a heap.

A shiver ran through Ranma's body. The pigtailed boy idly rolled down his sleeves and wondered about the air conditioning as Ryouga lay shocked on the floor.

"That idiot he didn't have to do that. Why did he do it? It's all my fault." Ukyou buried her head in her knees. Akane put a comforting arm around her.

"Ukyou, it wasn't your fault."

Ukyou's head rose and she gazed at Akane with haunted eyes.

Ryouga really wished Ukyou would stop crying. She looked so sad. He hated seeing girls cry. Stupid playboy cousin, making everyone worry! And what did she mean by 'it was all her fault'? Did she drop a grill on him?

"Then whose fault was it? Huh? Whose fault was it?! He saved MY life..." She stood up and clenched her fists. Her eyes closed tightly trying to suppress her tears. She didn't want pity from Akane. Ranma walked over to her and put a comforting hand on her shoulder.

"Ucchan calm down. I know Ryouga. He's too stubborn to let something like this kill him."

...Ryouga? He was the one hurt?! And... Ranma was defending him?!

"I've hit him a lot harder than this before and he still came back for more." Ranma smirked confidently.

Ryouga gaped from the floor. He had sacrificed himself for Ukyou? What the hell had he been thinking?!

"You... really think so?" Ukyou wiped the newly shed tears off her face with the back of her hand.

He couldn't believe it. Maybe Ranma wasn't as big a jerk as he had thought...

"Besides, didn't he make that vow that he wouldn't rest until he defeated me? And you know what that means."

"What?" Ukyou sniffled.

"He's going to live forever!"

The corner of Ukyou's mouth turned up into a slight smile. "I suppose you're right."

HEY! Damn Saotome! Ryouga had to live. There was no way he was going to let him get away with that statement!

"And besides he's..." Ranma looked thoughtful for a moment as realization dawned on his face. "He's sort of my friend. I'm not going to let him die."

"...Damn it Ranma! Stop confusing me!" Ryouga jumped to his feet and shook his invisible fist at Ranma.

"I guess you're right Ranma." Ukyou's small smile turned into a full blown grin.

Why was everyone so broken up? Maybe they didn't hate him as much as he thought they did? What had happened? Ryouga couldn't remember but...everything seemed to be ok now.

Suddenly, there was a blinding flash of light as the scene before him began to fade away. He tried to fight it, but it was an uphill battle. He felt as if he was being ripped into two; almost as if he was existing in two places at once. The last image he saw before darkness claimed him was Ukyou smiling hopefully. Ryouga let go of his fight, it didn't seem so bad leaving now...

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