Honor and Vengance
Chapter… Ummm… I seem to have lost count somewhere… I'll call it number three…
Disclaimer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Disclaimed.
Ranma and Hiko had no sooner left out the door than the Tendo sisters turned on the fathers and began firing off rapid questions. Questions like "Why haven't you started teaching?", "Are you going to let him order us around like that?", "I really want to do this, may I?", and almost universally "What are you going to do about this?"
Soun, for his part, was floored and unable to collect his thoughts for more than a few minutes, while Genma was deep in thought.
"GENMA! How could your son talk to my little girls like that? And where exactly did he get the idea that it was alright to order ME around IN MY OWN HOME?" Soun shrieked.
Genma favored his old friend with a calculating gaze.
"Soun, do you remember that temple in Nepal? The one the with all the warrior nuns?"
Soun paused for a moment, and thought hard."…yeah, sort of. Why?"
Genma continued, still deep in thought. "Remember how they were able to defeat the master, and keep him from their undergarments?"
Soun blinked in confusion. "Not really, no. But, what does that have to do with this, Saotome?"
Genma sighed and looked Soun in the eyes. "The point is, Tendo, those nuns had the favor of almost EVERY female deity known to humanity, good AND evil, and probably some of the ones that have been forgotten. That favor is what gave them the edge that kept the master from their undergarments, you see. Now, here we are, with both of our families having the favor of both the Gods and Devils and nobody, it seems, is seeing it for what it is."
"And what exactly is it, Saotome?" Soun almost snarled.
"Good fortune, my friend. Pure, unaltered good fortune. Think about it for a moment. How is it that Nabiki's actions never caught the eye of the police or yakuza? Why, after all the damage that Akane has done to those boys at her school, has she never been brought up on charges? Or your family sued for that matter? How is it that you've always managed to come up with enough money to scrape by on everything? What possible reason could there be for our children, and ourselves for that matter, to be as strong in the Art as we are? Our families are blessed, Tendo, truly blessed. And we are in danger of destroying that blessing with our actions. Heavens know that I've done enough to destroy my Karma, and it's only through the graces of my son's good nature that he still has any love or respect for me! I know your daughters love you, Tendo, but do they still respect you? As a man, or as a father?" Genma stood and heaved a sigh. "As much as I'd like to ask you to play a round of shogi, it's past time that I go home and talk to my wife, about everything. I'd suggest, my old friend, that you do the same with your daughters. Without the tears this time, I think." Genma walked over to the engawa and paused for a moment. "I'll come by after everything is done and we can talk about what happened over tea and Go, if you'd like"
Soun nodded a troubled expression on his face. "Yes, my old friend, I'd like that a lot."
Genma smiled, and walked out the door.
Soun turned to his daughters, and smiled. "Now, my dears, it seems that we all need to have a family discussion."
All three daughters nodded at him in agreement.
Meanwhile, at Furinkan, the divine couple was enjoying a leisurely stroll through the gates, instantly stirring up the gossip mill and astounding the onlookers. Ranma was entering the school, literally beside himself, and wearing something at least somewhat close to a uniform!
As with almost all semi-peaceful situations in Nerima, it was doomed to die almost from the get-go. This particular moment's demise arrived in the form of Tatewaki Kuno, who made a loud exclamation of joy upon seeing Hiko.
"Pigtailed-girl! You have returned to me! Come, leave the side of that vile wretch Saotome and join me in bliss!" he screamed while swooping at her.
Hiko smiled, and glanced at Ranma, who shook his head minutely. She pouted for a moment at being denied her fun, but stepped out to the side in order to allow her husband his amusements.
Ranma gave Kuno an impassive stare and stood in Kuno's path.
"Cur! Stand aside that I may embrace my most glorious love!"
"No." Ranma responded.
"What? You mean to defy me and thwart my love from expressing her desire for me? Cease your foul magic upon her, vilanous sorcerer, and release her that she might bask in mine glorious presence!" Kuno ranted.
Ranma's gaze hardened and he took a step forward.
"My wife, Kuno," Ranma began, "Is not yours to claim. She does not love you, and she never did. We were cursed, Kuno, cursed to always be together, but never able to see or speak to each other. The curse forced our two souls to share one body and mind. Do you realize what that means, Upperclassman Kuno?"
Kuno looked gob-smacked for a moment. "You mean…?"
Ranma nodded. "That's correct, Upperclassman. Every time you attacked me, you were attacking her. Every time you forced yourself on her, you were forcing yourself on me. Everything you did to me, you did to her, and vice-versa."
Kuno fell to his knees in shock. He had raised his sword against one of his twin loves, and at the same time, confessed his love to his eternal rival. A good portion of Kuno's world had just been turned on its ear, and he was having a little trouble adjusting.
After a moment, he managed to collect himself enough to form a coherent thought.
Wife, he thought, he called her his wife… which means that they are married… but isn't he engaged to Akane Tendo?
"And what of Akane Tendo? Is your engagement with her still standing? Furthermore, what of my sister? Twisted she may be, but love you she truly does."
Ranma shook his head. "I know of your family's madness, Upperclassman Kuno, and even with that in mind, I cannot bring myself to love her in return. Perhaps if things had been different, this might have changed, but with the way events and situations played themselves out, I cannot see it happening right now." Ranma paused and took a deep breath.
"With regard to Miss Tendo, I cannot honestly find it in my heart to forgive her for how she treated me. I know that you caused some of it with the morning fights, and that I made it worse with the teasing, but the choice of actions was completely hers, all along. She didn't have to attack me, or you, but she chose to anyway. Furthermore, she was so obsessed with the idea that either you, one of the boys from the morning brawl, or I were planning on forcing ourselves on either her or some other hapless female that she never gained any trust in me. She may have had sweet moments, and she is beautiful, to be sure, but I cannot ignore all that she has done. So, I say to you and everyone listening in, that the engagement between Akane Tendo and I is dissolved and annulled."
Kuno nodded along while Ranma was talking. Everything he was saying was making sense, and the man before him was incapable of lying, everyone said so, so his words must be true.
Hiko caught Ranma's attention and tapped her wrist in a meaningful way. Time was wasting, and they didn't want to be late, after all.
"Please, meditate upon my words, Upperclassman Kuno. Now, if you'll excuse me, my wife and I would like to get to class on time for a change." With a short bow, Ranma turned and rejoined Hiko on their way to class, leaving Kuno where he knelt.
The crowd of students parted for them like curtains on a stage.
The morning proceeded much as they used to, with the assorted students prying into each other's personal lives and speculating on the direction of the local rumor mill. However, the local vendor of such information was notably absent, along with her pugilistic sister. The rumor mill had it reported, and summarily dispersed, that the chaos-bringer had split into male and female selves and was apparently in some sort of relationship with him/her self. This, of course, spawned a whole host of comments, from the "Damn! What a lucky dog!" all the way to the "Heh, Narcissism, anyone?" with a few odd "She's probably the only person that He could be in a relationship with and NOT drive insane!" thrown in for good measure.
The person who had the most drastic reaction was one Ukyo Kuonji; Okonomiyaki vendor extraordinaire. She hadn't actually thought that what was said last night was serious, Ranma was constantly finding himself in one odd scrape or another, and she felt confident that this one would be no different than the others. A few days of madcap zany-ness and then everything goes back to the status quo. At least until her Ranma got his act together and decided to make the right choice (marrying her), that is. So, one can imagine the surprise it was when Ranma, her Ranma walked into the classroom with his, literally, other half on his arm. Now, granted, she'd been at the dojo when Ranma had made the revelation, and also granted, that he'd come out and said that he pretty much hated her.
But come on, this was Ranma here; he couldn't hate anyone if his life depended on it!
'But, then again…' she thought, 'he's never actually stood up for himself before, either…'
This thought did little comfort her, and much to further unsettle her current state of mind. It was with a troubled heart that she ascended the stairs to the classroom, visions of all the times that she could have been there as a friend for Ranma, supported and comforted him in his times of need, where she chose instead to play the fiancé card in a bid to further cement her place in the fiancé game. These thoughts continued plaguing her, and her heart continued breaking from the disgust and self-loathing her actions caused. Introspection, at least honest introspection, is never an easy thing, and Ukyo's was no exception.
The school day wore on until the half-way point when the students were released for lunch. This was when Ukyo felt it was her chance to speak with Ranma about everything. Heartsick, she followed him and her out the classroom door and into the schoolyard. Casting about for a moment, she quickly located the pony-tailed divinity and approached him, with a small amount of trepidation.
"Ran-ch-, I mean, Ranma, can we talk for a moment?" she asked.
Ranma looked at her with an unreadable expression for a moment before nodding slightly.
"Well, that depends, Kuongi-san." Ukyo flinched slightly at the form of address. "Is my best friend trying to ask, or is my so-called fiancé trying to ask?" he queried.
Ukyo sighed and looked at him with a heartbroken expression. "You really meant what you said, didn't you?"
Ranma looked her dead in the eyes and simply replied "Every last word."
Ukyo flinched as if his words had physically struck her.
"What none of you seemed to understand is that I wanted to make the choice on my own, and that while I was trying to make that choice, I needed support from the ones who were supposed to be my friends. All I got instead were 'Ranma take Shampoo to date, yes?' or 'Ranchan, don't you like your cute fiancé's cooking?' and 'Ranma-Sama! You shall be mine!'. Nobody actually took the time to ask me what I wanted! On top of that, there was mine and Akane's fathers trying everything under the sun to get us married to each other, and the cavalcade of rivals out for my blood. Oh, and let's not forget the Idiots Three: Kuno, Mousse, and Ryouga. It's not like those three constantly attacking me over things they had either heard second- or third-hand , misunderstood, or blew WAY out of proportion. You think about all of that, put yourself in my shoes, and then see if you feel particularly charitable towards anyone involved."
Ukyo blanched as his words struck home and the pain in her heart shot to a new height.
"I thought gods were supposed to be kind Ranma…" she began
"Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind, Ukyo." Ranma finished. Further conversation was halted as the bell signaling the end of the lunch break rang, and all the students began filtering back into their classrooms.
The remainder of the day as a riot of rumors, notes, and random classes that nobody paid attention to, anyway. I mean, seriously, who actually takes underwater basket-weaving? Even for a humanities credit? Ranma and Hiko continued to weather the storm of gossip and endeavored to pay attention to their classes, though it was extremely difficult to do so. The notes continued to pile up and it eventually got to a point where Hiko had to flash-fry them with a small burst of fire.
Needless to say, the notes stopped after that.
The end-of-day bell had rung and the general student population or Furinkan was exiting the building when one of the most chilling sounds known to humanity echoed through the air.
This chapter took me a long time to get out, primarily because I couldn't remember where the plot was going in the first place. I'll keep after it, but I fear this story may die a lingering death from neglect and lack of inspiration.