Solar Demise - or - Oblivion has Gained on Us
by Pink

Part Eight - Making Her Move

"Akane, are you going to sleep all day or have some breakfast for a change?" Nabiki stood over my bed, shaking me by the shoulder.

"Is ...he down there?" I saw up rubbing my eyes. Thinking about what took place in the last month, I stared sullenly at my lap. No matter how many memories I tried to remind Ranma of, he never seemed to remember a thing. How could an entire month slip away without any progress? We stopped sparring together after a week. Everything I did to try to win him over alienated him further. Competing against Ukyou's cuteness, Shampoo's sexiness, or their cooking ability (out of the question) left me without any kind of advantage. It didn't feel like this Ranma was the same one I knew. If I were to totally win this Ranma over, would it realy be worth it? I grew more skeptical as the days passed. "If he's down there, I don't want to go."

Nabiki moved her hand to my back. "Akane." She made sure that I was paying attention before speaking further. "Believe me when I say you WANT to come down and have breakfast with us." I raised an eyebrow. "How often am I wrong about something?"

Nabiki turned and walked out. I sat up and stared blankly at my bedroom door. The voices downstairs were soft from here. I stood and walked out of my room. As I descended down the stairs, the voices became more and more coherent. I could make out who was speaking, which made me clench my fists. When I glanced at the table, my eyes caught purple. Shampoo and Ukyou were sitting on either side of Ranma, feeding him breakfast.

"Good morning, everyone." I smiled at my family and Ranma's parents, bowing a little. I held a stare with Nabiki as I sat next to her, directly in front of Ranma.

Nabiki gave me moral support in her hard stares at Shampoo and Ukyou. When I explained to my family about Ranma's incident with Shampoo, they immediately agreed to support me in getting our Ranma back. From behind Nabiki's glare, I pushed myself to look straight at Ranma, despite Ukyou and Shampoo's disapproval.

"Morning, Ranma." I forced a smile for him, who returned it slowly, under the scrutiny of his other suitors. "Did you sleep well--"

"Ranchan, Honey, would you mind trying a little bit of the okonomiyaki I made? I guarantee you'll love it." Ukyou interrupted.

"You should first try the rice that I fried; it's still hot!" Shampoo interjected.

We sat in uncomfortable silence as the radio news report played in the background. I looked up from my food for only a second, but it was easy to notice the angry looks that Ranma was getting from his and my parents. I looked down at my food, trying to immerse myself in the broadcast.

"Yes," a make announcer muttered in monotone, "Big surprise here, tomorrow will be yet another scorcher."

My chewing seemed to drown out most of the other sounds in the room.

"In other news... it's HOT. Water levels in the ocean are beginning to show a dramatic rise. However, please remember to conserve your drinking and bathing water, as sea water is not a substitute..."

I coughed quietly and reached for some more dried fish.

"...sure Shampoo, Ukyou." Ranma answered, taking food from both. Ranma ate, timidly. "Thanks." He peered up at our family with a cautious gaze and glanced over to me. "Akane..?"

"Hm?" I blinked.

"Thanks, I slept fine."

Nodding, I smiled a little. "I'm glad."

"You know Ukyou, Shampoo, what you made is great!" They sighed happily, fawning over Ranma a little more. "Akane, try some of this!" Ranma reached for my bowl, while I was trying to fathom why he was doing such a thing. He was immediately stopped by Shampoo and Ukyou, who gave him hard looks.

"Ranma, as much as I'd do anything for you, I don't think I can stand for this." Ukyou folded her arms.

"I didn't make this for Akane, I made this for you." Shampoo added. "This wasn't intended for a girl who doesn't appreciate good food and can't cook to save her life." Shampoo smirked at me.

"I didn't have this house built so that my daughter could be insulted by two girls without any shame." My father's facial expression was disturbingly calm as he spoke. "I still welcome you into my home even though your only intention is to get Ranma's attention."

Nabiki 'hmmphed.' "More than that," she added, "If Akane is so gracious that she's sharing her fiancee with you two, the least you could do is make her a damned meal. You think you can waltz in here and do this in front of us forever?"

"Nabiki-chan, that's fine." Ranma's mother spoke calmly. "If I were to accept either of these ladies as Ranma's wife, they would have to adjust their ethics a little bit first. Next, I wouldn't want girls with such bad manners as a part of my family. My Ranma has always been intended for Akane, and I'm happy about that."

Ranma, Ukyou, and Shampoo stared bewildered. After a few quiet moments at the table, the radio playing faithfully in the background, Ranma stood.

"Funny," he said exchanging looks with Nabiki and my dad, "I never knew I was supposed to be treated like a piece of property." He stared down at me; I slouched a little, intimidated by him. "You come out of nowhere and suddenly I'm obligated to YOU? Sorry-- no, I'm not gonna apologize. I don't 'belong' to anyone."

"BAKA!" I jumped up, leaning over the table to yell towards Ranma. "I didn't come out of nowhere! Just because you can't remember me, that doesn't mean you have to act so cold! We get along when nobody's around, and you KNOW it!" Ranma looked taken aback as I dashed up the stairs, retreating into my room.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Night fell almost recklessly. I watched Ranma and Ukyou hang out in the tree again, figuring they didn't realize how easy it was to hear their conversation. They spoke so comfortably. Tonight, I didn't have the heart to open my window to hear what they were actually saying. I crouched low at my desk so that I wouldn't be seen.

Whatever they were talking about, they looked as if they were having fun. Ranma laughed a little and pointed to himself, waving his hands wildly. I looked away, remembering the first kisses we shared, by the ocean. My heart fluttered at the memory, as if it were happening again. The shock of that kiss never dulled, even in hindsight. I lingered on that thought and suddenly felt my breath wavering. Before I realized why, I swept a tear off of my cheek. His words from before came to mind. Live the rest of these days with no regrets. I slammed my fists onto my desk as the kiss repeated in my head unmercifully. "Dammit!" I sobbed. I wanted to live by those words, not only because Ranma said them but because I believed them. It was frustrating to do so in a bleak situation. How do you live without any regrets when every option is something you'll regret?

I looked back up at Ranma and Ukyou. Ranma was grinning when suddenly Ukyou pulled him by the shoulders and kissed him hard. Stunned, Ranma stared at her with his mouth open. She waved goodbye, jumping out of the tree. I stood up out of my chair, watching Ranma recover. Tears burned down my face. I sighed, staring at him, bidding a silent goodbye to our past life. Just as I reached to close my blinds, Ranma turned his head towards my window and noticed me looking at him.

I only hesitated for a second. I stared at Ranma helplessly before I turned rushing out of my room, running down the stairs. I barely noticed Nabiki and Mrs. Saotome calling me, but I refused to stop. I figured that if I were to disappear, I could find happiness away from Ukyou and Shampoo. Away from Ranma. *Where are you going?* My thoughts said tauntingly. I mentally retorted with indifference. My mind wandered to thoughts of Ryouga. Even though I turned him down, part of me considered him as a fall-back crush. It was too dark to see what I was leaping over as I ran. Faintly I could hear a voice behind me.

"Akane!" it screamed. I pushed myself harder, my feet padding against the cement in sharp snaps. The last thing I wanted was to be forced to answer to him. He was probably chasing me because he was told to, the bastard. I turned a corner, heading for the nearest fork in the road. I could still hear him behind me, but I knew he wasn't close yet. *If I turned one of these corners before he does, I'll lose him!* Gasping, I pushed harder, ignoring the bits of broken glass and jagged pebbles that I stepped on. There was no way I wanted to chase after someone who didn't love me. Unlike Ukyou and Shampoo, I couldn't stand to pine after someone who openly rejected me. That wasn't the same Ranma I knew, anyway.

*Ryouga will take care of me.* I almost missed the cat that was running in front of me, but I hopped over it in time. *Ryouga loves Akari, now.* My tears burned and blurred my vision. Just as I looked back to see if Ranma was behind me, I felt my foot stepping through something jagged, making a metallic crunch. I fell, landing on my elbows. My foot had gone through the spokes of an old bike tire. I scanned down the street and noticed that Ranma was closing in on me. Ripping the tire away, I frisbeed it at Ranma and launched myself back up. The pain I was ignoring was starting to set in; I flinched when I stood on my feet again. I'm sure they were bleeding, but it was too dark to distinguish between dirt and blood in a glance. In addition my body was trembling from the way I pushed it. Jumping the walls around my house was hard enough on its own, and trying to beat Ranma's speed wasn't easy. I tried to continue running, but the effort was pathetic. At best, I could limp quickly.

Ranma caught up with me effortlessly and pulled me by the hand. I turned around, trying to slap him but he blocked me. "Let me go!" I screamed desperately. I was in front of a house with lights on, and someone peered out at us through a crack in the doorway.

Ranma's voice was steady. "Akane, let's go home now, what the hell were you doing?"

I stared deliberately at the figure standing in the house. "Please! Somebody help me, this man is trying to kill me!" Ranma's eyes grew wild. I struggled to break away from Ranma's grip, but it was obvious that he was stronger than me.

"No I'm not! This girl is crazy!" Ranma screamed in reply. "Akane, come home with me!"

"Get OFF of me!" I screeched, kicking Ranma between the legs as hard as I could. His grip loosened enough for me to yank my hands away and run more. The pain was still present in my legs and feet, but after the brief rest, I could keep going. Unfortunately, it wasn't any help. This time Ranma tackled me to the ground before picking us both up.

"I'm not giving up, Akane. I'm faster than you." Ranma's arms closed around my entire body.

"What's going to stop me from leaving once I get home? You can't watch me 24 hours a day, so just give up." I head-butted Ranma with the back of my head, and elbowed him in the stomach. His grip tightened, but I continued to struggle. "Leave me ALONE, damn you!" I screamed. "I'm NOT coming home, even if you take your bitch of a girlfriend and--"

"It felt WRONG, Akane."

I don't think they ever really stopped, but I noticed tears shooting down my face again. I grabbed a street sign for support, exhaused and trembling violently.

"Look, I know that's why you ran. I don't even begin to understand how you can love someone you hardly know, but I can't say that I MIND if, ah... cute girls like me..." Ranma's hands moved to my arms, his hands closing firmly around them. "...er, but my point was that I thought I'd let you know: I know you've got a thing for me--"

"--I do NOT have a THING for you!" I interrupted instinctively, regretting what I said as soon as it was blurted out.

"..." Ranma sighed, lifting me over his shoulder. I started to protest but realized I was in too much pain and still winded from running. Carrying me through the beat up streets like a sack of rice, Ranma spoke again. "What I wanted to TELL you, was that I'm telling Ukyou I just want to be friends."

"You don't mind if cute girls like you, but you're telling her you want to be friends?" I replied. "What's the point of THAT?"

The confusion in Ranma's voice showed that he was trying to find the reason as he explained it to me. "There's just... something that didn't feel right when she kissed me. I like her, I think she's cute, but there was just something that went OFF in my head. It just felt like I was kissing my sister, it was creepy."

My face spread into a smile: the widest one I'd worn in too long. I nodded, speaking softly. "I see."

"Maybe I shouldn't even say this," Ranma mumbled. "Again, I just don't get why you even care about me so much..."

*You didn't believe me when I told you,* I answered mentally.

"...but for one reason or another, I feel like I already know you in some ways, Akane."

"Why did you follow me?" The words escaped from my lips shyly.

Ranma remained silent.

=-=-=-=-=-=

Ranma led me to my room, motioning for me to get into bed. "Akane... I could have been nicer to you through all of this. I'm sorry--" I closed his mouth, brushing his lips closed with my index finger and shaking my head.

"You were just being yourself, Ranma." I climbed into bed. A handful of different feelings swam in my stomach, some conflicting with each other. Ukyou was out of the competition for Ranma. Ranma let on that he didn't exactly hate me. I already asked myself what the point of being in love with this Ranma was. Without his memories of what we did together, he was generally the same Ranma. His relationships with everyone except for Ukyou and I were the same. In a sense though, this wasn't Ranma. To him, any ties we had in the past were erased completely. Was there even a reason for me to love him now?

If love had an off-switch, would I even turn it off?

Ranma sat on the edge of my bed. "I'm going to clean and bandage those feet. Are you gonna need another blanket besides this sheet?"

"No way, it's going to be hot when I wake up." My words were a little slurred, but I smiled up at Ranma. He prodded me to lay my head down, running his hands through my hair. "Good... ni...ght..." I whispered as sleep took me.

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Author's Notes: (January 2003)
If you read the original version of this part, you would have noticed a little something that was missing! ^_~ I thought about this when I rewrote it, and decided that maybe, we didn't need Ranma to get his memory back. This is fine for now, let's see what happens when it goes further... :O

(May 2003)
This is where the original story left off. ^^ Incidentally, this is also where I leave off now, as Chapter 9 is in the works. If you actually feel inclined to read more, feel free to read the side stories to chapter 5 (They are posted as a seperate fic).

If you made it this far: THANK YOU SO MUCH! ^o^/ I wouldn't mind some good writing tips. :3