A Ranma 1/2 shortfic by Aondehafka

Disclaimer: the Ranmaverse characters owned by Rumiko Takahashi,
and all that obligatory stuff.


Even through the crowd of people between us in the hotel lobby, I
catch sight of him almost immediately. Perhaps it's fate. Perhaps
not. I feel my breath leave me, exhaled in my shock at seeing this
reminder of a past I'm not ready to face.

Perhaps inevitably, he has seen me too. He hesitates, then with a
look of resolve makes his way through the throng toward me. So much
easier if he would have just turned away. But the Ranma Saotome I knew
was no coward, and it's clear that the passage of half a decade hasn't
changed that.

He reaches me and gives me greeting. Were things other than they are,
I might be amused at his uncertainty. He is clearly unsure of what
tone to adopt, struggling between formal and familiar, coming to rest
at last with the former. Were I not already so far off balance, I
might be amused to see Ranma has learned such personal skills since
last we parted ways.

I take a deep breath, and gather what I can of my composure, and
return his greeting. However, I deliberately adopt a more familiar
tone. Not the one I was wont to use in addressing him, nothing that
could give him the impression that I plan to return things to that
level. My words are chosen for a different purpose, and I wonder if
Ranma is perceptive enough now to understand.

Apparently he is. He gives me a searching look, then some of the
tension leaves him. He asks quietly, "Did you find what you were
looking for?"

I nod, not trusting myself to speak just then. He dares to give me a
slight smile, then actually suggests we repair to the veranda and get

I agree to this. The shock has begun to wear off, and though seeing
him is still painful, I am beginning to feel alive. More alive than I
have in years. I suppose there are some pasts with which you can never
cut ties completely.

We seat ourselves at a table, with a bright, festive umbrella overhead.
Conversation flags until the drinks have arrived. Then, in typical
Ranma fashion, my companion cuts straight to the heart of the matter.
"How'd you finally manage to get cured the rest of the way?"

I tell him. How, after years of searching, and expense enough to
strain even my family's resources, four months back I finally discovered
a site in the Appalachian mountains in America. A place where four
ley lines intersected, where a meteorite strike had disrupted that
junction, leaving a powerful field that obliterates any magic that
enters. I swallow, and tell him that if he seeks a cure to his curse,
he could find it there. Speaking of his curse is still difficult for me...
I yet retain some of my resentment, at not having been told the truth
for so long. That he himself never managed to tell me, leaving me to
find out so much later, and by accident at that.

"Thanks, but I don't need it any longer," he answers. "I found a way
to block the effect. Now I can even tap the stored-up magic and do
stuff with it." He gestures, and the smooth iron armrest of his chair
blooms into a rose. He smiles, then asks the question I wanted to ask
him. "What're you doing in the Amazon rain forest?"

"I... I just wanted to see it. Not to take anything from it, not to
study it, not even to fight for it," I answer. "I hoped I might find
some peace here."

"Peace?" he asks, though looking into his eyes I suspect he under-
stands at least partly why I might now be searching for such. "Finding
the cure didn't give you that, huh?"

I smile bitterly. "The last vestiges of my ancestral curse were
removed. I am insane no longer. That doesn't make the memories of the
years in which I was any less painful."

"No, I guess it wouldn't," he admits quietly. "But maybe you ought to
think about comin' back to Nerima. Things aren't nearly as bad there
anymore. Might be what you need to get over the past."

Shaking my head, I give him an incredulous look. "I do not ever
intend to return. How could I? Everyone and everything there is a
reminder of the... the despicable THING I once was!"

He frowns. "Hold on, there." Another long, searching look. I feel a
slight buzzing, though it won't be until much later that I learn one
of Ranma's new tricks allows him to read a person's surface thoughts.
At last, he sighs and says, "So you're just gonna change one prison
for another? Is that it?"

"What do you mean?"

"You hate yourself now. I can see it," he says quietly. "You got rid
of one set of chains, and slapped another on yourself as soon as you
were free. An' this time, nobody can get you loose except you. You're
making a mistake."

"A mistake?" I demand. "A mistake, to depise myself for what I once
was? For how I once acted?" Bitter bile rises in my throat. "For how
I treated you?"

"Yeah. That's right. It's a mistake. The person who did all that is
dead, died in the mountains in America. YOU were born five years ago,
back when we first learned about the Kuno clan curse and managed to
weaken it. You got no right to hate yourself for something someone
else did."

"Really," I say, my tone making it clear that I'm not accepting this.

"Yeah. Really." He gives an exasperated sigh. "Listen, even back
in Nerima, before we found out about your family's curse, even then I
didn't hate you. You made me angry, sometimes scared me, but that
was all." He fixes me with an intense stare. "So I can say you got
no right to hate yourself."

Hearing that does make a difference. I can feel something shift
inside me, though I'm not sure yet to just what effect. Still, it's
not that easy to simply let go. "Ranma, for most of the last five
years I've had to constantly fight off that old person, had to maintain
constant vigilance lest the suppressed curse break forth in me again.
Those memories too are bitter, bitter to the core. I cannot just walk
away from them."

He shrugs. "I know. But right now you got the chance to make a
fresh start. Don't waste it by lookin' at the past all the time.
Because the past is there for us to look at and learn from our mistakes,
but then we move on."

"Quite a bit more insightful than I would have expected from you,
Ranma," I admit.

"Well, even a guy like me can learn a bit in five years," he replies.
"Listen, there's somebody I think you need to talk to." He pulls
out a cell phone and places a call. "Honey? I'm out on the veranda.
There's somebody I want you to come see... No, it's a surprise...
Okay, bye."

Truth be told, the wedding ring on his finger was almost the first
thing I noticed about Ranma, but I had not felt equal to bringing the
subject up. Still, the issue has now been forced, so I gulp, and say,
"Then you and... Akane... finally took that step?"

He grins at me, then falls serious again. "I don't think you really
understand just what kinda chance you've got here. You can make a
whole new start... you don't have to let the past keep draggin' you
down. And I bet talkin' to my wife will help you see that."

Insensitive though it seems, I cannot but feel that Ranma is right.
Though seeing them together will hurt, if she can forgive me as he
has, perhaps I will be able to forgive myself.

Again we fall silent, waiting. And then... the door opens... a
flash of sunlight on black hair as she steps out from the hotel...
our eyes meet.

My blink of surprise must last several seconds. That or perhaps she
moves with a speed which formerly was possessed only by the man who
is now her husband, for as I open my eyes again she is right there,
standing beside our table. Her eyes still wide in shock, she speaks,
hesitantly, disbelievingly.


Ranma rises, and with the cockiest grin I've ever seen in my life,
he slides his arm around her shoulders. "Tatewaki Kuno, I'd like to
introduce my wife. Kodachi Saotome."

Clearly this is my cue to faint. I take it.


Author's notes

Not much to say about this story, except that the idea came to me in
a dream. Yes, I've actually dreamt about writing a Ranma 1/2 fanfic.
Is that sad or what?

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