Part 7: Aftermath

The next day Ryoga went to the dojo early in the morning. He didn't think anyone would answer the door, but Kasumi answered. He didn't even think anyone was awake at that hour.

"Akane wouldn't happen to be awake would she?" he asked politely after greeting Kasumi.

"No, she's not. But I can wake her for you. I'll be back in a little while."

"Oh, no, that's - " But Kasumi had gone. "Okay."

Akane appeared after some time. The light shone in her eyes. She put a hand to her brow to protect her eyes from the painful light. She squinted. She wasn't dressed in her nightgown. She was dressed in a skirt and a simple shirt.

"Ryoga?" she aksed as she stepped outside. "What is it? What's wrong?"

"I - I wanted to tell you something before I left."

"You're leaving?"

Ryoga nodded as he sat down. He took a deep breath. Something told him that maybe he should've found a helmet before going to Akane. She'd be angry. He knew she would be, but he knew he would have to tell her about his feelings for her sooner or later. He knew telling her wouldn't change a thing. For she was in love with Ranma and nothing in the world could change her mind. He would just have to live with it. He would slowly get over her. It wasn't going to be easy, but it would be done.

"Akane," Ryoga began. Akane sat down beside him. "I've had these . . . feelings for . . . this beautiful, wonderful girl whom I've fallen for. I'm in deep."

"You should tell her."

"I'm trying right now," he said as he looked her in the eyes. "The girl is you, Akane."

Akane was beyond shocked.

"I've fell for you the first time I saw you."

Akane didn't realize she was holding her breath.

"Ryoga," she said.

"No, I know how you feel about Ranma. And I'll just have to except that. I know telling you this won't change a thing. But that's not what I'm hoping to do."

It was a lie. He wanted this to change things between them. Although he knew very well that it wouldn't, he still hoped. He looked away. Akane watched as a single tear ran down his cheek. This was so hard. Getting away from her and Ranma was the best thing. It would make it easier for him. The pain would eventually subside. He hoped it would. He knew he'd always love her, but he hoped that maybe his love would die down some. Not all, just some. Enough for him to truly be able to cope with it all. Enough for him to be able to love her as a friend anbd nothing more and nothing less.

"I'm so sorry, Ryoga."

"Don't be. It's not your fault. No one is to blame for this." He stood. "I might not be coming back any time soon. I might not be coming back at all. So it's just one less person you have to worry about ruining your engagement to Ranma. And I hope you two have a happy life together. I hope he's forgiven you too."

Akane stood. "I want you to return, Ryoga. You're my friend and I love you as only a friend could. You mean a lot to me. And as your friend, I want to be able to see you again. I understand the situation. But, please, return some day. Don't forget about me. Our time spent. Don't forget, okay?" "I won't forget. I'll never forget. And if you do wish for me to return, then I will. Some day. I will."

She nodded.

"And what of Ranma? Has he forgiven you?"

She shook her head as she looked down at her shoes. Ryoga nodded. He lifted her chin and smiled gently and assuringly. "He will."

"How do you know that?" Akane asked as she looked him in the eyes.

"Because he loves you just as much as you love him." He paused. "Good-bye, Akane."

He turned and began to walk away. "Oh, one more thing," he said as he turned to her. He was a bit unsure of the next secret he was about to reveal. "Did you ever wonder why Ranma called me P-chan?"

Akane nodded.

Ryoga looked away as he spoke, "It's because . . . I am P-chan." He smiled weakly as he looked back up. He backed away slightly as he watched Akane's mouth grow wide.

"You! Ryoga! I'll kill you!"

She got up and chased him down the block.

Later that day. Ranma sat alone on his bed. Akane knocked on his door. She opened it slightly.

"Can I come in?"

"Do I have a choice?"

"Ranma, listen, I - "

"No, I apologize for treating you the way that I have been lately. It was just that it made me crazy to think that you slept with Rahzar after claiming to love me."

The images were still very clear in his mind as he began to remember the night. He shook his head as an effort to clear his mind of all those thoughts. But they kept returning. Haunting him.

"I didn't know. I felt something was off, but I guessed it was because we were actually holding each other in a way we never had before."

"Most of all, it hurt. Knowing that the girl I loved was making love to another guy," Ranma said, ignoring Akane. He shook his head as he smiled. He had finally said it aloud. He finally admited his love for Akane. Just like that. It seemed hard to him before. But it jkust came out like he had always been saying it.

"I'm sorry. I - "

Ranma looked at her as if waiting for her to finish her sentence. She moved closer to him and sat down on the bed. "You really do love me?" Ranma looked away. Akane looked down. "Ryoga said you did." Ranma turned to her.

"We talked."

"Do you really love me, Ranma?" Akane looked up, but Ranma was not looking at her. "Well. Do you?!"

He looked at her. After a moment of hesitation, he nodded. Then he sighed as he looked down. "Yes, I do. I guess in a way I always have. To some extent." He looked at her. "Akane, I understand about you and Rahzar."

"There is no me and Rahzar! There never was, Ranma!"

"I have his memories of when he was in my body. He tricked you. I can see the look on your face when you two were . . . making love. The look in your eyes gave away nothing but love and passion. I could tell that you had no clue. But why couldn't you tell?" Ranma asked, once again ignoring her spoken words.

"I don't know! I just don't know! But I'm sorry. And if I could turn back time I would and I wouldn't do what I did, I wouldn't. I wouldn't."

Tears began to well up in her eyes. Ranma held her. Hesitant at first, but he held her. Close. Protectively. "It's okay. I get it. Just don't do it again." She laughed. "What?" He let her go.

"I love you, Ranma," she said seriously. She looked into his eyes.

"And I you, Akane." He leaned forward and kissed he lightly. He pulled away to look into her eyes. There it had been again. The same love and passion she held in her eyes that very night. But it was for him and him alone. He smiled down at her and kissed her again.

THE END