Dreamwalk With Me
A Ranma Nibun no Ichi FanFic by Anansi42
Disclaimer - This is a story based on characters created, owned and copyrighted by Takahashi Rumiko, Shogakukan Publishing, VIZ Communications, assorted teams of costumed sentai, Kitty Film, Fuji TV and other associated parties. I'm only borrowing them for a bit without permission. This story is written expressly for entertainment purposes.
Shampoo awoke to see Cologne sitting by the bed, a worried look on her face.
"How are you feeling?"
"I'm alright, Hibachan. I'm just tired."
Cologne blinked, "Your Japanese has improved."
Shampoo just shrugged, "I've had a few years to practice."
"What else did you learn?"
"I think I can do a Kachu Tenshin Amaguriken or Hiryu Shoten Ha with just a little more practice; but that's not the most important thing."
"Our whole approach to Ranma has been wrong: we never considered his thoughts and feelings on the matter. By ignoring his opinions, we put ourselves at a disadvantage."
"He is only an outsider…"
"Who you are highly desirous of bringing into the village. Who you have taught in certain techniques forbidden for men to know."
Cologne sighed, "Who is the best student I have ever encountered. I admit that I enjoy training him."
"But that approach isn't helping our case, Hibachan. Ranma respects you for your knowledge, and the training you've given him; but the times you… we… have tried to drag him home have made him not trust us."
"That is unfortunately true. That is why I approved of your idea to begin with."
"And I blew it in my excitement."
Cologne just shook her head, "Not completely. Your basic idea is sound and may still work with a little… tweaking."
Shampoo's eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"So you don't trust me so much any more? That's good! The sooner you realize that everyone has their own agenda, the sooner you will stop being surprised by the actions of others."
"What's your agenda?" Shampoo asked.
"I have several. As far as Son-in-Law is concerned my goal is to bring him into our village, or at least into the family. That's why I plan to teach the Tendo girl."
"What? Why would you do that?"
"If Son-in-Law gets his ego bruised by Tendo Akane, he should be more amenable to accept Amazon training to counter it."
"You… plan to teach both Ranma and Viol-- Akane?"
"No, I will teach you. You'll teach Ranma."
Shampoo raised her eyebrows as she saw more of Cologne's plan. "I can't help but think that this was your original plan from the start."
Cologne answered her with a coy smile. "Maybe it was. Maybe it was just a good fallback option. In either event, it will give you more time with Ranma: time he will see as safe, since you aren't going to be chasing him; but during which you may gain a deeper relationship."
"You are very crafty, Hibachan."
"I'm a Matriarch, it goes with the territory."
Tofu entered the room, "And how is the patient?"
"She should be just fine, Dr. Tofu." Cologne turned back to address Shampoo, "I have to get back to the Nekohanten if I want to do any business this week, but I'll visit again later."
"And Mousse?" Shampoo asked, not a little hesitantly.
"Under direct orders from me not to bother you or Ranma on pain of 'Full-Body Cat Tongue'."
Shampoo sighed in relief, "Thank you, Hibachan."
Cologne smiled, "Recover quickly. If I have to spend much more time with just Mousse to help in the restaurant, I'll be tempted to add Peking Duck to the menu." She patted the girl's hand before leaving, chuckling.
Shampoo watched Cologne leave before speaking to Dr. Tofu.
"How is Ranma?"
"Still sleeping. Ranma's ki had been drained far worse than yours, so he'll need a bit more time to recover; but he should pull through just fine."
"That's good. Can I see him?"
"Not yet; not until Elder Cologne and I can be sure that the tea has been completely neutralized."
"I just hope he can ever trust me again."
"I'm sure he will. As I understand what happened, the two of you could hardly keep secrets from each other."
"That's true, at least until I became completely trapped inside the dream and my conscious mind could take over."
"Then perhaps you should just trust him."
"Hai. I'll try."
"Good. I need to check on the others; but I'll let you know about Ranma when he awakes."
"Thank you, Tofu-sensei."
Some time later, Ranma opened his eyes to see Dr. Tofu looking down on him.
"How do you feel, Ranma?"
"Very tired, but not at all sleepy… if that makes any sense."
Dr. Tofu smiled at that, "Good. I think you should be back to your old self in a couple of days."
"I wish I could be so sure, Tofu-sensei."
"What do you mean?"
"So much happened in… that place. I feel as if I grew while in that other world."
"I have no doubt of that, but all of what you saw and felt was a dream. Most dreams fade with time, and I imagine that most of what happened to you there will also."
"I'm not sure I want that to happen."
"You cannot help that. The best you may be able to do is try to remember some fragments and apply them to the waking world."
"How is Shampoo?"
Tofu blinked in surprise as he realized that, from when he awoke, Ranma had been speaking in passably good Mandarin. "Then again, you both may remember more than mere fragments. Just be careful how you deal with others for a while; you may have changed but the rest of us are pretty much the same as we were four days ago."
Ranma had noticed his speech as well, for he shifted back to Japanese, "It's been four days and five years for me."
"Yes. Well, to answer your question Shampoo is doing fine. Like you, she is tired but not really sleepy. She asked about your condition before I came to check on you."
"Can I see her?"
Tofu's smile returned, "She wanted to see you, too; but not yet. Elder Cologne and I aren't sure what effect close contact, even voice contact, would have while you both are still under the tea's influence. Give it a few days to let the tea completely flush out of your systems just to be safe. I need to keep both of you here for that time anyway to make sure that your ki has been properly restored."
"Oh, then please tell her I'll be fine."
"I will, but there are a couple of others who'd like to see you now. I'll let them in."
Dr. Tofu paused on his way out to allow Ukyo into the room.
"Hey yourself, Ranchan."
"I thought that you took the tea also. Aren't you susceptible to the effects?"
"I did, but the herbs Cologne and Tofu-sensei gave me and Akane pretty well freed us from the dream world. Tofu-sensei said it'd be okay."
Ukyo took a deep breath before continuing, "Ranchan, when I was… locked into your dream… stuck as Saotome Ukyo, your sister, I started thinking: thinking about me, about you, and about us."
"Please, let me finish. I had thought that I wanted to be your wife more than anything; but being your sister wasn't so bad. I realize now that part of why I've pursued you so much is that I want a family - either one of my own or to be part of someone else's. I'm going to need some time before I can tell you if what I want from you is you, or just to be a part of your family."
"I'm sorry that the dream didn't form differently."
"So am I, Ranchan-- Ranma; because then maybe I wouldn't be so confused right now." She paused to wipe a tear from her face; "I'm going to go back to work and think, if I can."
"Ucchan, I don't know what to say."
She placed her fingers on his lips, "Not 'Ucchan', Ranma, not now. Maybe later; but not now."
"Ucch-- Ukyo… I'm so very sorry."
Tears began to stream down her cheeks again. "It isn't your fault; not really. You've just been trying to keep all of us as friends, but in the end that's going to be impossible because you'll have to make a choice. I look at you and see the boy you were, the person you are now, and the man I saw in that dreamscape - someone you may still become. They're good people, Ranma, worth fighting for; but I don't know if I have the strength to keep doing that any more."
Ranma was silent a moment. "Will I see you again?"
"Yes. But only when I've made up my mind, and not before."
Ukyo suddenly leaned over his bed to give Ranma a quick, passionate, desperate kiss.
Ranma just sat in shock, his face growing bright red.
Ukyo just sighed, "Damn. I was hoping that would answer some questions; but it just left me with more. See you around, Ranma." She ran out of the room, completely missing Akane in her tears.
Akane stepped into Ranma's room, a confused look on her face. "What did you do to her, Ranma?"
"Nothing. She just asked me not to see her for a while. Said she needed time to think."
"Think about what? That dream world?"
"Yeah. What happened to her there really had an effect on her. She's not sure anymore if she wants to chase me as a fiancée, or to be adopted into the family as my… sister."
"Wow. I… don't know what to say."
"I don't either. I care for her a lot, Akane; she's one of my oldest friends, and I really don't have that many. I want her to make the right decision; but I want that to be the best decision for her."
"Even if it's not the best one for you?"
"I can't tell you anything about that until I hear from her again." Ranma replied, "What about you, Akane? What effect did the dreamscape have on you?"
"I'm not thinking of marrying Ryoga, if that's what you mean. About Ryoga: why didn't you ever come out and tell me that he had a Jusenkyo curse; that he was P-chan?"
Ranma lowered his gaze, "When I found out about his curse, I made a promise not to reveal it to others if I could ever help it. I was just thinking of preserving Ryoga's dignity; but I never dreamed that he'd do what he did afterward. There've been a lot of times, and I mean A LOT, that I've wanted to tell you; and I dropped hints when I could.
"What happened to him was the result of his own stubbornness; but I'm partly to blame. Right after I got cursed at Jusenkyo, Ryoga showed up. I still don't understand why he trailed me for so long; but he was standing near the edge of a cliff when I was chasing after Pop for getting us both cursed. I knocked into Ryoga, though I didn't notice at the time, and he fell over the cliff into the Heitounennichuan pool, the Spring of Drowned Piglet. His becoming P-chan is at least partly my fault: that's why I made that promise.
"The reason I was so uncomfortable all the times you and P-chan… Ryoga… were together was because Ryoga was taking shameless advantage of my promise and I couldn't see a way out of that. Pop's broken his promises so many times that I swore never to go back on my word." Ranma lowered his voice, "I'm sorry if I've hurt you with that pledge. It was wrong of me to let you be taken advantage of by that promise."
"I know that I should be angry, Ranma, and I am; but more at myself than at you or Ryoga. I did some thinking and I could remember all the times you dropped hints, sometimes really blatant hints about P-chan. I'm really not that angry at you, Ranma; I just feel like an idiot."
"Don't feel like that." Ranma said, "Remember, my curse fooled you until you actually saw it with your own eyes and my curse keeps me human. I'll bet when you look at each of my forms now you can see a resemblance between my girl-type and guy-type. With P-chan and Ryoga it's not so easy; you have to look for similarities in behavior."
"Or the bandanna."
Ranma's mouth quirked into a smile. "Or the bandanna," he agreed.
Akane looked at Ranma a moment before speaking again, "What about you? What changed for you in the dreamscape?"
"In what way?"
"Being married, running a dojo, becoming a father: all of that felt good. It felt right. I want those things again; and this time I want them to be real."
"Real with Shampoo?"
Ranma shook his head, "Just real. The five years spent with 'Xian Pu' were a wonderful dream, but in the end that's all it was."
"Then with Ukyo? With… me?"
"I won't mislead you, Akane: in the end it may be with none of you. That will depend in part on what sense I can make out of the dreamscape and just what it is that I want. All I can promise is that I'll be more serious about deciding."
"So what does that mean?"
"Want to go out Friday night?"
"You know, a date: dinner, dancing, a movie. Whatever you'd like. I should be out of here by then."
"You're asking me out on a date?"
"Yeah. Would you like to go?"
"I said I need to decide, and I can't decide blindly."
"Maybe a walk in the park?"
Ranma's smile disappeared, "Could I take a rain check on that? I'm sorry but I have too many memories now of the park to want to go there… just yet. I know they're not real memories, but that's how they feel to me."
Akane couldn't help but be angry, and a little jealous, of those memories. "I see. You'd rather do that with Shampoo."
"Yes… no… maybe… I don't know, but not now, not yet. Not until I can be sure I'm not trying to recapture a dream with her."
"So you'll try to recapture it with me instead?"
"No. To see if maybe we can build a new one together."
"What about Shampoo and Ukyo?"
"Ukyo is something I can't tell you yet, only because I don't know what she'll do; but I will be considering Shampoo just as seriously as I will you."
"So you'll be dating her."
Akane's battle aura flared for a moment, then she took a deep breath. "I should be furious with you for doing that but I won't be, not yet anyway; not after seeing you and Shampoo in that dream world. I just don't like the idea that you'll be two-timing me."
"I don't either. It's partially my fault that I'm in this mess, and I'm the one who has to resolve it. With things the way they are now, I simply can't make a blind choice anymore. Maybe last week I could, and to be honest if I had had to make that choice I would have chosen you; but with what I've seen and 'experienced' in the dreamscape, the choice isn't so simple for me anymore."
"Being seen dating two people, maybe even more, you're going to be called the new Kuno."
Ranma winced at that, "That's an unpleasant thought! If anything I hope that I could be called a successful Kuno, since that idiot can't get a date with any one woman, let alone two. At least I won't be trying to do it on the same date."
"Like I said, I don't really like what you feel you have to do; but I remember the man I saw in the dreamscape, the man you may one day be. I liked him, and I'm not going to give him up without a fight."
Ranma's smile returned, "I wouldn't have it any other way, tomboy."
Akane also smiled, "Baka. I'll see you when you get out. Start planning where you'll take me to dinner, a good restaurant, and I'll pick the movie." She gave his hand a gentle squeeze before leaving.
Ranma lay back in the hospital bed and thought.
Shampoo started this whole mess with her dream of snaring me for a husband.
I can't call it a snare any more; call it her attempt to recruit me with and to her dreams. At least this time her intention was to have me understand her dreams instead of just clubbing me over the head with them; but that wasn't what happened, and all because I got an early night's sleep.
I do understand Shampoo's dreams now, at least in part. The surprising thing is that she also understands my dreams, at least in part. Maybe that's for the best: we can use that to start fresh, maybe build something new. Shampoo really is something special, I can finally see that now; but she needs to understand that the right to choose whom to marry is mine just as much as hers.
I also caught a glimpse of Ucchan's… Ukyo's dreams for a family and home. If anyone's been a victim in all of this, it's Ukyo. Whatever she decides, I hope it's something that I can give her. She deserves that much.
Akane… I still don't really know what her dreams are, or even if I fit in them anymore. I guess she's a little like me, pushed by her father's expectations into a role she may not ever be comfortable with. Could she be happy with me if our fathers pushed us into it? Could I with her?
Pop and Tendo-san said once that their dream was for me to marry Akane and inherit the Tendo dojo; but why? I don't think they want grandchildren, or at least I don't think they care much either way. Pop certainly never offered to teach classes in the dojo unless the only other choice was starvation, so it's not like he wants to work. Maybe we're a retirement plan: Akane and me?
Could be. Pop's certainly lazy enough for that. Tendo-san too, to judge by the amount of shogi he plays with Pop: maybe he wants to switch to being a full-time bum when he thinks someone else is ready to take over the dojo.
Well, we'll see about that; if they think I'm going along with any more of their greedy, stupid plans they're mistaken. If Akane and I get together it will only be because we BOTH want that.
Shampoo showed me a dream; but in that altered dreamscape I found I had dreams of my own. I hadn't known about some those dreams, or maybe I just never admitted them to myself; but I can't deny them now.
I've followed other people's dreams for too long. It's time for me to chase my own dreams for a change and see where that leads. Hopefully I can get back some of the dream I shared with Shampoo, maybe with her, maybe with someone else; but even if I can't recreate that dream, at least I'll be following my own heart, not anyone else's.
If I'm really lucky someone else's dreams will match mine, at least in part.
I just hope that part of their dream includes a walk in the park by moonlight.
Three weeks later, exhausted and dusty from his travels, Ryoga had found his way to Nerima General Hospital.
Damn you, Ranma. You broke your word. You said you'd never reveal my curse to others; but Akane knows about it now, which means you MUST have told her.
Akane may never love me again because of your treacherous actions, and if I can't have her I'll make sure you won't live to be with her either.
It's been a long road; but I've finally returned to Nerima. I'm back so that I can finally destroy your happiness once and for all, Ranma. When that's done I'll kill you for the pain you've put me through.
The look in Akane's eyes when she confirmed what you must have told her was worse than any mallet blow she may ever have given you, Ranma. She ripped my heart in two and then stomped the pieces flat.
You'll pay for that, Ranma, now that I'm back in Nerima. You thought you saw a perfected Shi Shi Hokodan before, but I'll show you power from new depths of despair.
With you truly out of the way I'll be able to apologize to Akane, make her understand how it's all YOUR fault. Then I can start to make up for my hiding the truth from Akane…
When did someone put giraffes in the park?
Did I wander into the zoo again? Then where are the cages?
Waaait a minute…
Ryoga looked around carefully. He couldn't recall hyenas or elephants being in the Tokyo area before. Nor did he remember a lion's roar to be a typical Neriman background noise. The white safari van filled with tourists who eagerly snapped his photo just confirmed his suspicions.
Crap. Lost again.
"DAMN IT!! Where the HELL am I NOW!?!?"
End (for now)
Author's Note (updated April 20, 2004)
While revising this story for spelling and some of the word choices I've used (and a special thanks to aondehafka for a note about my OOC Akane remark - Akane's been a hard one for me to write) I decided to rethink my ideas for furthering 'Dreamwalk'. Originally I thought that I might expand it into a trilogy comprising three separate files; but now I think I should just expand upon this original file with more chapters to comprise two to three story arcs. That being said, these epilogues should be renamed as 'interludes' and have been. I know how the story will end, and I have a rough idea of how to get it there; but I'm still feeling my way for part of it. Once I know with more detail how I'll get this story to go where I want it to go, I'll start submitting more chapters for it. I will say that Ranma will end up with one of the standard fiancées, but the choice of who was made by a roll of the dice (literally). You'll just have to read future installments to see who winds up together, and how. I hope to not take too long in getting those installments out to you and that they meet with your approval when they do.
I am still working on the next chapter of 'A Measure of Honor', but new possibilities keep presenting themselves and I'm chasing rabbit trails all the time to see how I think they'll turn out. I am hoping to avoid the possibility of introducing something in the chapter that I can't or won't back up later in the story or, worse, write myself into a corner. With luck, I'll be able to present the next chapter soon.