Painegloss


Some fights aren't worth winning.

I know. I know. That's the last thing in the world that you think you'd ever hear from me, but it's true. I guess time changes everything. I know it changed me and everyone around me. But changes aren't always for the better. I...awww, I'm sorry. Let me start at the beginning or you ain't going to have a clue to what I'm talking about.

I guess it really all began right after the failed wedding attempt. In hindsight, I don't think I was all that eager for it, you know? I was still on that emotional high from saving Akane and battling Saffron. I needed more time to adjust to the situation between me and her, like admitting to myself that I loved her. Yeah, I can say that now. Like that's a surprise after what's happened the last few years. Now I can say it easy. I'm not sure when it happened. I know I had difficulty saying it at first because I didn't know if I was in love with her, but after Mount Phoenix, I knew I was. Still, admitting it out loud took a while. And I needed a lot longer than the twenty-four hours I was given after first accepting the fact that I was in love with Akane.

We really needed some downtime after that whole fight, and rushing into marriage would have been a really big mistake, no matter how much we loved one another. I think I knew it, which is why I never really held anything against everyone that disrupted it. They kind of did me a favor, except for Happosai and losing that Nanniichuan water. Man, I wish I could have gotten my hands on it. I never forgave him for drinking it. None of us did. At least with Pop and the other guys that had the curse, I could understand why they got in the way. I can respect that they wanted cured too, but the old goat just squandered it. And now, years later, I still hate that little bastard. Actually, I hate him more than ever. It's a good thing for him he stopped hanging around right after that. Everyone was really going out of their way to beat the living shit out of him, and I guess it stopped being fun for him after that. So he headed for the hills and hasn't been heard from to this day.

What's that? Yeah. I'm still cursed and no nearer to a cure than I was when I set out to find one right after the screwed up wedding. I found out Ryouga stumbled on some of the guy water a while back and cured himself. I'm not resentful though. Like I said, I can't fault the guy for curing himself, I just wish he had some left over for me.

Sorry for drifting off there. It's just I really hate the curse now. When I first got the curse, I thought a cure was right around the corner and I didn't have nothing to worry about. Only now, years later, I can't seem to find out where the damn corner is. Ain't seen hide nor hair of a cure in years, and I'm getting tired of the whole sex-changing thing. I ain't going to go on about it too much, but I still get angry about it, even after all this time.

Anyway, after I got back from searching, everything kind of went back to normal, except for Ryouga not bothering me as much anymore. Me and Akane kind of avoided the subject of the marriage until one day, right before our senior year was about to start. Pop and Mr. Tendou come up to us and say it's time to try again. They found out that the Chinese bunch went back to China for several days, and that the Kunous were visiting some relatives somewhere in Hokkaido. The only one left to get in the way was Ukyou, and since it was a Saturday, she was so busy running her restaurant that the odds of her stumbling on to us were next to nothing.

So we go down to the chapel to get married. Akane got herself a new wedding dress and looked even more beautiful than before. Yeah, I can say that about her too. I called her uncute maybe, four or five times since that failed wedding, and even then you could tell I was just blowing off steam. I was stunned to discover that, after I laid eyes on her, I wanted to get married. I mean I really wanted to get married, way worse than the first time. And it was a good feeling. No reservations whatsoever. I was really looking forward to it when the first bomb was dropped on me. I should have known something would come up. What I should have done was take it as a portent of things to come and gotten the hell out of there. But like an idiot, I stuck around and look what it got me.

The bomb was that Mr. Tendou announces right before the wedding that I'm going to take on the Tendou name. That was a complete shock. No one ever said anything about that. They wanted me to change my name. Screw that. If Akane was all fired up to marry me, she could take on my name. Why am I so pissed about that? Look, all my life, at least as far back as I can remember, I didn't have anything. Me and Pop traveled real light. I had no toys. I didn't have any friends. Sometimes I didn't have food. I didn't have anything but the clothes on my back and two things that I could truly call my own. Two things that, no matter how bad it got, I always had. One was my martial arts and the other was my name. If I ever lost the first, I'd die. Just like that. Losing the second wasn't as bad, but it was still a symbol of losing one of the few things I had that made me what I am.

Damn it! I am Ranma Saotome. Not Ranma Tendou. Saotome. It was about the only constant I had in my life, but suddenly everyone wanted to take that from me and make me feel like I was taking a backseat to my wife. Oh, they argued the point, saying it was because the Tendou name was more prominent --like it's my fault my family wasn't famous or rich-- and that the deal was for the houses to be united so they could carry on the 'Tendou Dojo.' Not the 'Saotome Dojo.' They made it real clear right then it was supposed to remain the 'Tendou Dojo.' Mr. Tendou wasn't budging an inch, and Akane refused to talk some sense into him, even going so far as to say she wanted to keep her family name. I was so pissed about it I almost walked off, but my mother managed to talk me into accepting it. I swear to god if it wasn't for her I would have gone home that day. It made me that angry. Anyone else, even Pop, and I would have balked, but I was still trying to please my mom. So I listened to her and reluctantly admitted I would change my name.

Yeah. I lost a fight and accepted it. Who'd have thought it?

The ceremony began right after that, in case I started to get second thoughts or cold feet (both of which could have happened with the way I felt), but once Akane walked down that aisle, I had thoughts for nothing else. I tell you, anybody else probably would have cried, she was so beautiful. I almost did. Really. But I'm a real man, and we don't cry over mushy stuff like that. We got married easily enough. Not a single interruption. Truthfully, I was surprised, but grateful. Me and Akane earned that sort of peace and quiet a long time ago. It was about time we collected.

Right from there we set off on our honeymoon; a luxury cruise paid for by Mr. Tendou. Our parents promised to take care of things in Nerima about telling everyone that me and Akane finally got hitched. At the time, I couldn't have cared less. I just wanted Akane all to myself. And I got it too. That honeymoon was the best time in my life. Even after everything that's happened, everything I've done, I wouldn't have traded that time together for the world. Not a single second of it for anything.

Once we got back home, we were sure it was all going to be a mess. I mean, if Ukyou and Shampoo were willing to bomb a wedding to keep it from happening, what were they going to do once me and Akane were really married?

Surprisingly, the answer was nothing. Yep. Not a damn thing. Right after we left, Mom, Pop, and Mr. Tendou got together and started to tell everyone what had happened. They told Ukyou first. She thought they were lying and that it was some kind of trick to get rid of her, but after they showed her the official marriage document, she just told them to get out. They didn't hear a thing out of her after that, and truthfully, none of them wanted anything to do with her. They whole situation was just a big mess. A couple of weeks later, they found out that Ucchan's was closed down and that she and Konatsu had moved out. Someone bought up the property within the week, and a month later they made it into a French bistro, of all things. Damn good food they got there, by the way.

The ones they were really worried about were Cologne and Shampoo. When those two got back from China, they let the old ghoul know what had happened. She wanted some proof too, so they showed her the paper. Once she got a good look at, all she did was sigh and say something about it being about time the whole matter was resolved. From what they told me, Shampoo just got this devastated look on her face and went upstairs without another word. The ghoul assured them they had nothing to fear from her, and she would see to Shampoo and make sure she didn't bother any of them either. Pattern kind of repeated itself same as Ukyou's after that, though it took them a month to sell the Nekohantan. Someone was smart enough to make it into another Chinese restaurant, but they never did as much business as when the old ghoul ran it. A couple of months later, I heard from someone that Shampoo stayed in Japan and opened another Nekohantan in Meguro. I never heard a word out of her though, not that I wanted to hear anything from her. I sure as heck wasn't going to go looking for trouble. Still, Shampoo was the last one I thought would go so quietly away. I just counted myself lucky.

The Kunous were next. Kodachi was the easiest to deal with, which to me, wasn't all that surprising; she knew all along I didn't love her. When they told her the truth of me and Akane getting married, she gave some dramatic, high-handed speech and told the three of them to go away or she'd have them thrown off the property. Even Kunou didn't do more than rant for a week. I think somewhere, deep down inside, maybe he knew he lost and didn't feel up to fighting a battle he could never win. So without Akane to chase, he switched his attentions to whatshername? The cheerleader that kept spelling out his name. It started with an 'M', I think. Ah! I hate it when I forget names. Anyway, he still talked about his 'pigtailed girl,' but I was amazed to discover that we pretty much stopped crossing paths -at least when I was in my cursed form-and I was able to avoid him after that. When he never got to see me as girl, he eventually lost interest. Well, that and the fact that the cheerleader actually returned his attentions might have had something to do with it. Another surprise, that. Like I said, I counted myself lucky.

Things calmed down a heck of a lot after that. I mean, yeah, all the fiancees and other romantic interests were what caused the majority of problems, but not all of them. However, everything went to being pretty normal. Even Nabiki was behaving herself, although I think it had to do with a long talk Akane had with her one night after we got back from the honeymoon. Nabiki seemed real subdued right after that and never tried any money schemes with me or Akane ever again. School was the same way. Normal. Principal Kunou got kicked out for all of the problems he had caused. Miss Hinako moved on to a reform school since ours became way too quiet for her. Gos started going out with Sayuri -figure that one out- and quit stalking Akane. Everything became normal.

At first everyone was real happy for me and Akane. We were kind of the talk of the school for a couple of weeks, until new gossips took over the center of attention. One kind of sad thing though. Hiroshi, Daisuke and me kind of drifted apart. Couldn't tell you why, though I think Hiroshi said something about how since I was married to Akane, everything just seemed different now. I was kind of sad about that. They were the only real friends I had there, or anywhere, for that matter. Same thing happened with Akane and her friends, Sayuri and Yuka. She spent almost no time with them and more time with me. When I asked her why she didn't seem to be hanging around them anymore, she began crying and told me it had to do with Yuka saying something about the marriage and she and Akane got into a fight. I didn't know how to deal with it, so I didn't say anything and just held her. It seemed to work, but we never talked about it again. It suited me fine. I ain't any good at dealing with all that emotional stuff.

And as to events around us, they didn't pick up at all. Not in the least. No wandering sex-changing princes came to steal Akane away. No perverts. Not even a crossdresser in sight. Nothing. It was really weird, but kind of nice, at first. After a while it became kind of annoying. And after that-

After that I hated it.

I didn't have any outlets any more. The sheer boredom got to me. It was like being trapped at a huge carnival for hours and hours on end, trying to do everything that's there at a breakneck pace, and then the whole thing suddenly vanishes without warning. At first you might be happy it stopped because you wanted a break from all of the things that you were doing, but after a while, you get bored and want the carnival to continue. Only this carnival never came back. And that's sort of what happened to me. Not right away, but slowly, over period of time. Akane could still keep me on my toes, but aside from that there was nothing interesting happening.

My life became terribly boring. And it bothered the hell out of me.

The only real bright spot that could relieve the tedium was that the marriage between me and Akane was great. We completely stopped picking on each other and getting on each other's nerves, although with all of the sex we were having, we didn't have much energy for anything else. Heh. That had a lot to do with those early days of bliss, let me tell you. We went at it like rabbits. I may have called her an uncute tomboy in the past, but after that honeymoon, those words never passed my lips again. Not ever, no matter how bad it got. Now don't get me wrong. That wasn't the only thing we did, and the marriage wasn't only based on that, but that was one aspect of it we were really good at. Sorry. I guess you don't want me to go there. Anyway, things went along okay until the end of our senior year rolled along. That was when things really started to fall apart.

A lot of it had to do with our plans for after school. Akane wanted to go to college. She did real good on her college entrance exams, even better than Nabiki did when she took them. I, on the other hand, didn't want to go and didn't do well on the exams. I didn't care. I didn't see any point to it. I wanted to be a martial arts instructor. It's all I've ever wanted to do and I've already got all the skills I need. College would have been a waste of money and time, and it ain't like we were rolling in dough. Akane wanted me to go to school and kept going on about how all martial arts instructors nowadays had college educations and stuff and how no one would want to train with me if I didn't have one. She also said it would be a way for us to keep close together, taking classes and things. She didn't want me staying back in Nerima and running the dojo while she went away to some college. Not a chance. I wasn't going to school again no matter what. That was that. She wasn't happy about it, so I told her to give up school and stay with me. Well, she didn't want to do that either since she had always wanted to go to college and now had a chance to go to a really good one. It was a stalemate, and neither one of us wanted to give up our dreams. So neither one of us did.

There was another major sticking point that popped up at the same time. My mother wanted to have grandchildren as soon as possible. Akane didn't. Akane said it would get in the way of her schooling and she wasn't prepared to take care of any kids yet anyway. She said that since she was going to be living on campus, me and her would be apart a lot of the time and not see each other for days on end, so it wouldn't be a healthy environment for a kid to grow up in. Now Mom wasn't real thrilled about Akane going to school in the first place, saying a woman didn't need that sort of thing in her life and that raising a family should have been first and foremost on her mind. Akane really didn't like being told how to live her life. Then Mom insisted that if Akane was intent on 'leaving her husband and family behind,' that she had better live up to her duty as a wife and have a child. When Akane insisted that she wouldn't be around enough to raise the kid, Mom said she'd be happy to do it. That was when 'The War' broke out.

Now Mom and Akane had always gotten along okay in the past. They weren't best buds or anything. Hell, they're nearly the opposite of one another in personality, but they were fine together, acting like a mother and daughter-in-law should. At least until that disagreement broke out. Later on we nicknamed it, 'The War That Never Ended', because neither one of them gave an inch. I'm not sure who really started it. Mom accused Akane of being an 'unfit, irresponsible, immature, little girl,' and Akane said she'd be damned if she'd let someone with a 'bunch of crazy ideas on raising children' like Mom, raise her kids. After that, things just went downhill between them. I tried to stop it, but they told me to butt out since it was between them. Neither one would back off and they just seemed to feed off of each other's anger. They argued several times every day and for hours on end. By the end of the week, they barely talked to each other. Mom was even going so far as to openly say to everyone, especially Mr. Tendou, how she had misjudged Akane's fitness as a wife and that she was sorry me and her had ever married.

Man did it hurt watching those two tear into each other like that. They were probably the two people in the world I loved the most. I would have done anything to stop it, but for once in my life, I was completely helpless. I tried talking to Mom, but she wouldn't listen. I tried getting Akane to let up a little, but then she accused me of taking Mom's side, which I wasn't doing. After that, I took Pop's advice and just tried staying out of the line of fire. First time he had the right idea about something that I can ever remember.

The school year eventually started and Akane went away. It turned out she loved college the instant she was there, which surprised me. I was hoping she'd hate it and come back to live at home where she belonged, but that didn't happen. So we ended up going with the original plan. We worked things out so that she would visit weekends and make it back home at least twice during the school week. It was a long train ride for her, but we figured it would be worth the effort. The first couple of months, everything went according to plan. It was hard, but me and her were always happy to see one another. At the time I recalled that saying about absence making the heart grow fonder. Later on I learned that was a crock of shit.

Problems started to crop up for Akane. In the beginning, her grades weren't really good. Instead of giving up (which she never does), she kept at it, staying at school longer and skipping coming home during the school week in favor of studying. It paid off and her grades started getting real high, higher than anyone expected. When Nabiki found out Akane was doing even better than her, she really got jealous. It was sort of neat to see the con artist taking a backseat in the brains department behind Akane. But that was the only good thing about Akane's absences.

Without Akane around, I felt like I was going nuts. The boredom became ten times worse and I started looking for trouble. Luckily, I started running the dojo full time, with Mr. Tendou helping me. Throwing myself into teaching helped me out and gave me something to focus on. Things were okay, but I don't think me and Mr. Tendou's styles really meshed too good. He wanted to go slow with the students, but I wanted to press them hard, like Pop did with me. You can't fault going it the hard way; look at how I turned out. But Mr. Tendou insisted I expected too much out of the students and didn't have enough patience with them. He said that I should ease them into things. Hell, it wasn't like I tried teaching them the neko-ken or anything. At one point he even claimed I wasn't a very good teacher, which was a bunch of bull. I'm a great teacher. I even checked with Pop. He might not know much, but he does know martial arts. He thought my training methods were fine. So when me and Mr. Tendou got into another disagreement, I asked him who was going to run the dojo, me or him? After all, wasn't the whole point of me and Akane marrying supposed to be so we could run the dojo, the schools united? He couldn't really counter that, so he quit teaching altogether. He didn't seem real happy about it, though. I felt sorry for him, but it wasn't like he was teaching in the year plus that I knew him, so how much could it have really bothered him? Besides, it was my responsibility now, and I took it seriously. Still, there was now a bit of friction between me and him, and we pretty much stayed out of each other's way as much as we could after that.

As time passed, the whole situation with me and Akane got worse. It became obvious, after several months, that us being apart was putting a strain on our marriage, even though we were trying to see each other as often as we could. Akane insisted she had to stay during the entire school week to keep her grades up and could only come home during weekends and vacations. I tried talking her into coming back home for good, explaining to her how much I missed her, but she wouldn't hear of it. Instead, she said I could live with her on campus, like my teaching martial arts wasn't more important than her going away to college. Damn! I hated the way she just discarded my teaching like a joke. Like it wasn't a real job since I didn't have a college education like she was getting. The hell it wasn't! What I was doing was important, and I was damned if I was going to give it up.

Pretty soon, we started arguing about it. At first they were just little disagreements, but it didn't take long before they became really big. They eventually got worse than the stuff we had when we first got engaged to one another. It was probably because the problems were more real than imagined, unlike the arguments we had before we were married. But I was in the right this time. If there were problems happening, she should have come back home to me, not me having to go to her. I'd already given up my name to her, I wasn't going to give up my job too. Marriages are supposed to be give and take, not give and give. It was her turn to give. Mom thought I was right. Pop too. But Akane got stubborn and refused to listen to anyone else.

Things got better when she was on winter break and the problems seemed to melt away. But once the spring semester started, it fell back into the old pattern again even more quickly than before. Even when we got together on weekends, we'd argue almost as soon as we saw one another. And then something else came into the picture, and as usual, Akane overreacted.

See, I had some female friends. Not self-proclaimed fiancees, like Ukyou or Shampoo, just girls that liked to hang out with me. We never did nothing and they never tried to make me say I loved them or anything. We were just friends. Heck, they were the only ones I hung around with anymore. But during one weekend, a couple of them stopped by, one right after another, and Akane went into a jealous act. She thought I was going out behind her back. I tried telling her that I did hang out with several of them, but it was just a friendly kind of thing. I wasn't even that close with any of them. Then Akane said the looks they gave her when they found out she was my wife were anything but friendly, which she took to mean they were interested in me. Even if they were -and I don't think they were-- I wasn't interested in them. And I never led them on or anything, just like I never led any of the other girls on before. But Akane wasn't willing to listen to it. She automatically assumed it was like before with Ukyou and the others and she tried ordering me to not see them anymore.

Wrong. Akane might have been my wife, but no one tells me who I can and can't hang out with. Man, that was the worst argument we ever had. She went back to college that same Friday night and refused to come back that weekend. I almost went to her, to try and explain things again, but mom talked me out of it and assured me it was Akane that should have done the apologizing for jumping to the wrong conclusions. She also pointed out that if Akane had stayed home, like she should have, she wouldn't have had to worry about that sort of thing. After a while, I realized that mom was right, so I waited for Akane to come to me and say she was sorry. I would have accepted it without hesitation. The whole situation had been blown out of proportion by her and it was not my fault. Only she didn't come home that weekend. She did come by the next, but she didn't apologize and neither did I. We just didn't talk about it and sort of let it pass, at least on the surface, but sometimes I wonder if the resentment over it didn't get to both of us and we were just pretending it didn't.

It got worse from there. We'd have arguments. We'd make up, but then something else would happen and we'd end up arguing again. It bothered me a lot, I admit it, but dammit she was wrong, not me! It wasn't my fault that girls still liked me, even if I was married. I never betrayed her trust. Never. It was all in her head.

The next big thing came towards the end of the spring semester, during one of our other fights. We were really getting into it, saying some pretty harsh things. Stuff that was way worse than the things we used to say to one another before we were married. It wasn't a surprise. Once we were married we understood each other better, which also meant we learned more effective ways to hurt one another as well. Some of our verbal fights hurt me as bad as going ten rounds with Ryouga. She was that good at it, and so was I.

It was during one really savage fight that she dropped a bombshell on me. She said I didn't know how to run a dojo and was driving the students away. Now I admit, the number of students we had when we started was pretty high, but a lot of guys dropped out along the way. A lot of them quit because they couldn't handle the pressure. Martial arts ain't easy. You either commit yourself to learning it or you don't. Well, most of the students did drop out and there were only a handful left, but they were pretty good. Not as good as me or Ryouga, but they had some real potential to be something else. When I told that to Akane, she said it was the responsibility of the teacher to let each student learn at their individual pace to the best of each one's abilities, and not just train the chosen few that were really good. She just didn't seem to get it. My time was valuable and I wanted to concentrate on teaching the best, not waste my time training a bunch of guys that were doing this as some sort of hobby. I wanted to train students that could make their master proud, those that were capable of learning what I could teach them.

Now I know early on Akane had dreams about running the dojo. After all, that was one of the reasons she still practiced martial arts. But with her going to college and all, I assumed she was going into some other kind of work. It's not like she was going to leave it in my hands for four years and then graduate and come back so she could start calling the shots. Besides, I'm a guy. I should be the one in charge. I was pretty angry at that point, and told her that it didn't matter what she thought since I was the one that was going to be running the dojo anyway. I was a lot better than she would ever be, after all, so I was the one in charge. That was when she got real quiet and told me that it was her family's dojo, and that she would have just as much say in running it as I did. I told her there was only one true master of any school, and I was it, not her. She really exploded after that. Hauled off and left without another word.

She didn't come back the next weekend, but I didn't break down and go see her, even if her not being there did bother me a lot. The next weekend after that was the end of the spring semester, but she didn't come back then either. That was enough for me. She was my wife and she should have come back home to her husband, not hang around a school and avoid me. I wanted her with me, so I went up to the college and was going to bring her back, even if it meant throwing her over my shoulder and hauling her like a sack of rice.

When I got to her apartment, she wasn't there. I saw one of her neighbors and asked if she knew where Akane was. She said that she saw some guy named Yoshi come by and pick Akane up. She thought they usually hung out around one of the nearby coffee shops and that was probably where they were. I was barely able to ask her who Yoshi was. The girl said she thought he was Akane's boyfriend or something. I managed to keep it together long enough to say that I heard Akane was married. The girl said something about how Akane's husband was never around and apparently they were fighting anyway. She then mentioned how this Yoshi guy was around more and more often, until it seemed like he was always there. She knew that he even stayed overnight with Akane last weekend and that it didn't take a genius to figure out why.

I don't remember much after that. It was all a haze. I barely remembered anything except the name of that coffee shop. I guess I eventually found it, though I don't remember the trip to it. I just remembered kind of walking around until my eyes fell on the sign to the place. It had one of those big windows in the front where people can look out and see the street and stuff. And right there, sitting at one of the front tables, was Akane and some other guy. I kind of just stood there for a moment, and then I realized that even though I had been really angry, deep down inside I thought maybe the girl at the apartment had been wrong and Akane wasn't really with this guy. That it was all some kind of mistake and it was some other apartment the guy had stayed at and he hadn't been with Akane at all. But the girl had been right. The proof was right in front of my eyes.

My wife was staying at college instead of with me.

My wife was going out with some guy instead of me.

My wife was sleeping with some guy instead of me.

I was just standing there, getting angrier by the second as it all 'fell into place.' I was so fucking angry that I was barely able to think, when it happened right in plain sight for me to see. He leaned forward and they kissed.

Everything went red after that. I think I remember running up to the window and jumping through it like it wasn't there. I definitely remember landing on the table while the guy looked at me in shock. When my eyes briefly settled on Akane, that was a different story. There was a look of naked terror on her face which only confirmed what I knew in my mind. She tried blurting out something about how it wasn't what it looked like, but I didn't hear it. I picked the guy up with one hand and hit him with the other. Not like I hit Ryouga. Not like I hit Saffron. I mean I HIT him. I didn't want to hurt him. I wanted to destroy him. Never before had I ever truly wanted to kill someone. But this piece of shit, who had dared to take my wife away from me, I wanted dead.

I connected with his chest instead of his head, which was a good thing since I doubt if it would have stayed attached to the rest of him. Instead, the shirt I was holding him by ripped and he went flying out the way I came in. He ended up crashing through the window of some building across the way. I suppose it was a good thing he was a pretty good martial artist. That he was in shape was the only thing that allowed him to survive the blow. He got off lucky. Left arm broken in two spots. Five ribs shattered. Sternum broke. Left leg broke. Pelvis broke. Some internal injuries. Major concussion. He healed well, though. From what I hear, the only thing that's left as a reminder is the limp he has. Like I said, he got off real lucky, at least compared to me.

Akane was crying when she grabbed onto my arm, begging me to stop, begging me to show mercy to the guy that had seduced her away from me. What happened next, well, not a day goes by that I don't replay it in my mind at least a dozen times, even in the years since it took place. You think it would be gone by now, but it isn't. It's still there, though I think a bit of the hurt has gone away. A little. Time's supposed to heal all wounds, so maybe it'll get to this one too. Eventually.

There she was, the woman who betrayed me and was begging for me to not hurt the guy who took her from me. And I was angry, angrier than I had ever been. So angry that if I had known a technique to harness my anger, like depression does the Shi Shi Hokoudan, I would have inadvertently killed everyone in the area cause I was that out of control. But instead of using my hatred to strike out with some technique, I used it to strike out at something else

I struck Akane instead.

And then the anger went away. Just like that. Just as my hand made contact with her face, it disappeared. It had only been a backhand slap, nothing like what I hit the guy with, something that Ryouga wouldn't have even flinched at, but Akane recoiled, then held the spot where I struck her with her hand while she stared at me. One look at her eyes, and I knew it hurt her worse than any blow I had ever struck anyone else. Not because it hurt physically, even though I'm sure it did, but because to her it was the ultimate sign of betrayal. To her and to me.

Do I sound poetic? You think about something that much over the years, and you develop a talent for poetry. Believe me.

My anger might have been gone, but it didn't matter. Some part of me cried out to apologize to her, but I knew it wouldn't do any good. It was almost as though with that contact, all of my rage was transferred from me and into her. It didn't display itself in the trembling fury like it had when it had been within me. It was contained completely in her eyes; eyes that told me everything I needed to know. She spoke some words anyway, not that they were needed. I think she knew that too, but she needed to say them, if for everyone else's sake rather than our own.

"I want a divorce."

You're saying to yourself that that seemed kind of rash. You're saying that once we let things cool down, we could have gone to counseling, or had a trial separation and see what would have happened then. We could have done something and tried to work it out. Tried in some way to make the fix the marriage and make it the way it was.

It wouldn't have done any good, and we both knew it. The blow that I landed on Yoshi wasn't the killing one. The true deathblow was the one I had struck Akane with; the one with far more power than the first. What we once had, everything that we had built upon since that first time I came to the Tendou household and said, 'I'm Ranma Saotome. Sorry about this,' was lost in that one blow. Both of us knew that, no matter what happened from that point onward, we would never be able to reclaim it again. Maybe we could have salvaged something, but the loss would have hurt even more if we had tried to remain together.

Our passions had always burned way too hot for our own good, but there'd always been a barrier that kept us from hurting each other too much. I destroyed that barrier with that slap, and both of us knew that it wasn't ever coming back. Without it, we'd have ended up hurting each other again and again, exactly like we were doing right there. We wouldn't want to do it, but we couldn't help being ourselves either. I loved her too much to do that to her and she felt the same way. To this day I'd stand by my choice, even as I know Akane would too. Once lost, innocence can never be reclaimed.

Never.

Oh, the truth of the matter was that the Yoshi guy was someone that Akane had several classes with in her first semester. Since they saw each other so much, they began talking and found out they had a lot of things in common, even martial arts, though he wasn't anywhere near as good as she was. They were friends. Really close friends. When our marriage began to go sour, she turned to him and he consoled her. The worse things got, the more she turned to him. During the weekend where he had slept over at her place, it turned out she was so depressed with the state of our marriage that she got stinking drunk and he had to escort her back to her apartment to make sure she got there safely. He stayed overnight to make sure she was okay, and nothing happened between them. The kiss I saw had been totally on his part. She hadn't kissed back.

I know she was telling the truth. There isn't any doubt; it's just something I know instinctively. I also know that, for the briefest of seconds towards the end of the explanation, there was a faint glimmer of doubt when she told me she didn't love him. That didn't matter though. She hadn't betrayed me in her heart, and that was all I cared about. She had remained true to me, no matter what doubts she might have had. Doubts were okay. I sure as hell had them when I went to find her, and the man she was with, on that damned day.

No. I didn't marry Kasumi or Nabiki. After what happened between me and Akane, as well as how well me and Mr. Tendou were getting along, we were happy to get rid of the agreement to join the families. Better luck next generation, I guess. No. I haven't been seeing anyone yet either. I haven't felt up to it. Probably some day I will. I know mom wants me to marry again, but I don't even feel like dating anyone, let alone doing anything else. No. Especially not with those three would-be fiancees, wherever they are. I didn't want them then, I still don't want them now. I'll find some other girl that'll make me happy, someday.

Yeah. Someday.

By the way, I was wrong about losing that fight the day of the wedding. I changed my name back to Saotome after the divorce. I ended up winning after all. Three cheers for me. Heh. I think that was when I learned the most important lesson in my life:

Some fights aren't worth winning.


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Man. That was depressing just to write. Still, I wanted to try my hand at something with a darker and more melancholy turn than what I usually do. Hopefully I've achieved that. And in case there are some kind of misconceptions, no, I am not trying to make a 'statement' here about Ranma and Akane's relationship. This is just a story.

One other thing...

Standard disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 is owned by Rumiko Takahashi and whomever she sold the rights to.

Any and all C+C (including flames) is appreciated. You can contact me at
sommer@3rdm.net

Ciao,
D.B. Sommer