Disclaimer: Ranma, Akane, and every other Ranma ½ character does not belong to me. I am not making money off of this. The only thing I get out of this are possible reviews and rants ;) And everyone is entitled to those.
Author's Note: VERY pointless fic, I was writing Blush part 2, and didn't feel like waiting for another Ranma/Akane moment to spring to mind so I went with this one. It's brief, but aren't all great moments in love short and fleeting? ;)
He dialed the number with fingers numbed from the cold, and waited for the operator to tell him the total amount it would take to let the call go through. Fishing out the correct change, the martial artist had to tense his body as another cold blast of wind came howling by where pathetic pay phone stood in a rickety old wooden booth.
Down to his last few yen, Ranma's heart silently dropped. It wasn't that he was worried about not having enough to eat, no, that was taken care of, it was that he wouldn't be able to make any extra cash until it warmed up again. If it still didn't make sense, it was the fact he wouldn't be able to call home for a few weeks that had the pigtailed boy upset.
Letters and cards going home was like a prayer in the dark. He could send them, but since this was a training trip, the boy couldn't receive any. Just like his previous trip, the black haired young man was use to not staying in one place more than a week.
Sighing deeply, Ranma drummed his fingers on the side of the phone booth, at least until a piece of it crumbled off. Raising an eyebrow at this, Soatome decided not to stay in this decaying town much longer. Truth be told, he probably wouldn't have even give it a second glance if it hadn't been for the one lone phone on the corner near a closed market.
He'd been on the road for nearly six months, and he still had a while to go before he was going to be satisfied. But the more time that passed, the more it felt like he was still looking for something, but that he was constantly going to wrong way.
Ranma rolled his eyes at that thought, him lost? Yeah right, he wasn't Ryouga!
The phone's connection wasn't the best, it didn't take an expert to know that the way it popped and crackled wasn't a good sign. It would be his luck, after two days in the wilderness with no way to communicate with Nerima, the phone would be on its last leg.
"Hello, Tendo residence." It was Kasumi, and a familiar voice made Ranma sigh in relief. Maybe he'd actually be fortunate enough to have a decent phone conversation for the first time in three weeks.
"Kasumi, it's me, Ranma." He was half way certain he didn't need to start every phone call this way. But it would hurt if they every asked 'who is this?' so to prevent that, Ranma would go on introducing himself.
"Ranma! How are you?" Kasumi's ever optimistic voice made a small tug come to the young man's heart. She was the closest thing he had to a mother for nearly two years, even when his real mother came to the scene. In fact, looking back on it, Ranma almost felt guilty when his real mom came, not because he did anything wrong, but because his to mother-love was already being given to the quiet and steady Kasumi.
"I'm fine, just a bit cold." That was the understatement of the century, he was freezing! "Listen, is--"
"I'll go get Akane. Hold on a minute please." That was Kasumi for you. She seemed to always know what the entire family was thinking. Many times Ranma suspected she was a telepath or something along those lines. He didn't even have to ask her, didn't have to 'embarrass' himself that way-- even though there was no one who knew or cared about him in this lonesome little town.
"Thanks," Soatome knew no one was listening to his one worded reply. It took a few seconds, and then came another voice.
"Ranma, are you there?' Akane, he would never need her to tell him who it was. "Ranma?"
"Yeah, I'm here." Ranma smiled as he heard her sigh in relief. "How ya been 'kane?"
"I'm okay, but how are you? Where are you?"
"I'm everywhere I think. It's freezing wherever the heck I am. And I'm 'okay' too. How's Pop and the Tendos?"
Akane's voice was so nice to hear after nothing but the wind's hungry cries filled his ears. "They're all fine." Her voice became heavily sarcastic, "Your Dad is complaining that without you here to spar with, he's gaining weight. I think it's that he is doing his 'father's duty' and eating your share of food."
Ranma couldn't help but laugh at that antic of his Pop's. It sounded just like something the old man would dream up to make sure he could stuff his face even more than usual. "That's good."
There was a silence, not long, but it was there, bracing himself, the boy knew what was coming. "When are you coming back?" Her voice wasn't in a whisper, but it was defiantly softer, more humble than what Ranma was use to.
"I--I don't know." He could almost picture her brown eyes filling up with tears. Ranma's own blue eyes began to burn, he hated to make her cry, but there was no answer he could give she would ever care to hear.
"Oh," was all her reply.
"I toldja, 'kane, I can't come back. Not until I find what I'm looking for."
"What? I di……static….aking up….repea…"
The storm was getting heavier, and the phone's ancient lines couldn't take much more. "Akane? Can you still hear me?"
"Yeah, I think it's cleared up." Akane's relief was evident, and Ranma thanked God that for once, his luck was on the better side.
"I can't talk much longer, this phone ain't so great, and I have to find a place to stay before long." Ranma waited for the question to come again, but it didn't. Nor was her normal 'why don't you just come back' line. He didn't think he could take it one more time without satisfying her wants.
"Okay, well, uh, whenever you get wherever it is your going. Let me know, please, Ranma?" Briefly wondering if she meant to make her request just for her, 'let -me- know' not 'let -us-know', maybe she did care.
"Yeah, I will. Tell Pops to go pick on the Old Ghoul for a work out."
Akane snorted, "I don't think he's that desperate."
"Or that stupid." Ranma waited for a tick, "then again."
"Yeah," Akane agreed, gigging a bit at the comment.
A new, even colder wind snaked it's way quickly through the streets of the small town where he stood, and Ranma's teeth began to chatter, "Listen, I really hate to, but I have got to get into somewhere warmer."
"It sounds like it." Akane agreed, her voice once again becoming soft.
"I guess I'll call or write in a week or so. Probably write since I ain't got much money on me." He was lying, after this, he was flat broke, but he didn't need her worrying about him in that way. "Uhm, so, take care Akane, and try not to pound Kuno too hard."
She let out a half hearted laugh, "I'll do that."
Then silence on the phone, whereas the wind decided it was time to add a new aspect to the climate and called on the rain to fall. Oh perfect, Ranma thought his heart hitting the floor. In his female form it was harder to keep warm and considering he was already chilled to the bone, it was going to be a very long night.
"You take care of yourself." Akane instructed, guessing by now she was trying not to blink because as soon as she did, tears would start to fall.
"Ranma," She hesitated.
"I--I miss you." The words were so soft that the hateful old phone almost concealed them in its static. But he -did- hear them, and that is what mattered. She did care. She missed him, and that knowledge made his heart melt, even in the cutting cold and wet place where he stood, barely protected from the rain by the shabby planks of wood that made up the phone booth.
She missed him.
"I---" and that was all he got to say, the operator cut through demanding more money if he 'wished to continue the phone call'. Sighing, the boy hung up the phone, stared at it for a few seconds, and then shook his head as if to clear it. Pulling his jacket hood over his head, Ranma braced himself for the journey, and walked out into the storm.