CHAPTER FIVE

ZENKAI POWER..
Akane was already in the ring, tapping her foot impatiently. Ranma put his hand on the surface and hopped up. She glared at him.
"Aren't you forgetting something!?" she yelled.
"This is the way it's gonna be," he smirked and bowed to her.
She looked to her trainers, but saw only the samurai geared-clad Gosan. She threw up her hands in a questioning gesture. Gosan shrugged. She shook her head, but bowed anyway.
Ranma began creeping around the ring. Akane became frustrated with him and attacked. He blocked her easily and smiled, his confidence was unbreakable. Akane's began to crumble.
Akago came back out from the showers in his boy form and joined his brother at the bench. He watched the fight for a few moments before his grin faded. He looked at his brother. Gosan frowned back.
"Oh, no. I've made a mistake," he muttered.
"Is he stronger as a boy?"
"No. Just as strong, twice as confident."
"Ah.. That's bad."
"There's no way she can win."
Akane knew this. She tried very hard not to panic. She blinked and there were ten times more people in the audience. As if that wasn't bad enough, she turned and suddenly made eye contact with her father waving wildly from the upper tier.
Ranma punched her in the stomach. "Akane! Concentrate! I'm kicking your ass!"
"I'm trying!" she struggled not to cry. What was she doing up there? She wasn't on their level! What had made her decide to come along on this crazy mission? She wished she were up in the stands right now, sucking down a soda...
"Akane!" Gosan waved to get her attention. "Don't give up!"
She gasped for breath and took power from his words. Akane did three back-springs away from Ranma and charged up. She landed facing him and stood on her toes. She stretched her hands out, swung her arms around to her left and gathered her Ki between her spread hands. "Aka.. neno.." She threw them towards Ranma. "HAA!!"
Ranma blocked. The blast pushed him to the edge, but he clawed it with his bare toes. He struggled against its power. He began building his own Ki up and channeled it down his arms. It surfaced at his hands and forced her blast back. She refused to give up, but he was more powerful. Finally her toes slid past the edge of the elevated surface and she fell gently, landing on her feet. Ranma looked down at her. Akane hung her head. The crowd cheered him, but he didn't bow to them. He hopped down next to her and lifted up her chin. Her eyes were glittering. He smiled at her and gently turned her shoulders, forcing her to face the crowd. They were cheering her. The tears brimmed over. She smiled, quickly turned back to Ranma and threw her arms around him. He hugged her back.

"The winner is.. Ranma Saotome?" announced the puzzled MC.
Akane sat back down on the bench after getting hugs from the rest of her team. Ranma slid closer to her, but she didn't move. He put his hand on top of hers and squeezed it.
"So why did you say 'this is the way it's gonna be'?"
"I'll tell ya after the match."
He couldn't believe the way she looked. She wasn't just cute; she was beautiful. He looked to Ryoga suddenly, remembering the boy's feelings for Akane. He was well aware of Ranma's actions, but was in conversation with Akago.
"Uh, Sensei?"
"Mmm..?"
"I have to say that I'm glad you're really a girl.."
"Well, gee, of course you are; you can be cured now!"
"Well yeah, that and other reasons," he blushed.
Akago blushed furiously but found he couldn't reply. He wanted to throw his arms around Ryoga and give him a big, wet kiss, but restrained himself. "Cool," he whispered nonchalantly.
"But I was wondering," he scratched his head, "why you have.."
"A tail?"
"Ah yeah."
He turned to face Ryoga more directly. "Don't stare too hard, but see the people in the second tier, four up and eleven over? That's our family. My Grandfather's on the inside, he's the first one who had a tail. Me and my sister are the only one's who still have them."
"Is that your sister on the end?"
"No, that's my Uncle Goten's wife, Paris.
"Oh. So the woman with blue hair is your.." he stopped and gasped.
Akago began to reply, but noticed his shock. "What?"
"Oh my god.. Look! Look who're they're sitting right next to! Isn't that weird?"
He swung around and stared at the balcony. "Holy shit." The Tendos waved. "Gosan!"
"And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, the last of our semi-final rounds, Jack Frost verses Ryoga Hibiki!"
Akago began to panic. "Uh, ah, um, Ryoga! Remember what I said about power attacks and try not to block his ice attacks, ok!?"
"Hai Sensei!" He bowed deeply and went to the ring.
"What's up, Bro?" Gosan smiled smugly. "I'm gonna miss saying that.."
"Yeah, whatever, look. I have a mission for you."

Ryoga felt a draught as he entered the ring and rubbed his hands together. A chill wind picked up as Frost stepped onto the surface. He was paler than he was before, and grinning eerily. He bowed to Ryoga and wasted no time, hurling razor-sharp icicles at the boy.
"Woah!" Ryoga jumped out of the way of the dozens of projectiles. "That's not cool!"
"Oh contraire!" Jack laughed and blew freezing air into the middle of the ring. It condensed and formed a miniature snow storm. Snow began to pile up rapidly. Ryoga blinked at it, but charged Frost anyway. He leapt over the drift and flew feet first at him. With a flick of the wrist, Frost conjured a wall of ice which Ryoga hit, feet first and slipped. He began sliding away to the left, straight towards the lip of the ring.
"What the?! Hey! You're not actually fighting!!" Ryoga got mad. He reached out and slammed his fingers into the ice-wall. This stopped him, inches from being disqualified and he flipped back up between the wall and the snow drift. Ryoga punched the wall, shattering it. Frost quaked in his boots on the other side.
"Why don't you fight me?!"
"I thought I could defeat anyone on Earth with this power!" he whimpered. Ryoga felt suddenly very bad for Frost. Jack smirked and pulled what he had been hiding out from behind him. "And I still think I can!!" he swung the bat at Ryoga.
Speed was not his forte, so Ryoga took the hit. The ice-bat shattered against the side of his head.
"Ow.." he rubbed the spot. A small welt appeared. "That stung, you jerk!" he pulled back his fist and jammed it into Jack's face.
"The winner, Ryoga Hibiki will go on to fight Ranma Saotome in the final match of the 32nd Tenkaichi Boudokai!!!"

SECRET AGENT MAN..
Soun cheered emphatically. He was growing hoarse. Suddenly, he was pulled back under the bleacher-type seats.
"Shhh! Don't say anything!" Gosan hissed. "I need to ask you a favor!"
Soun nodded.
"Whatever you do, don't say our names!"
Soun nodded.
"Whaddaya mean? Yes you won't say, or you already have?"
He shook his head.
Gosan looked worried and frustrated. "Ok! You can talk! Tell me!!"
Soun pointed to his throat and made some squeaky noises.
"You lost your voice!?"
He nodded.
"But before that, you didn't say..." he leaned in and whispered, "Akago, Gosan or Son..?"
Soun shook his head.
"Do you mean you did or...?"

"Where the hell is Gosan!?!" Akago fretted after he got done congratulating Ryoga. The two boys smirked at each other. "So," Ranma hammed it up. "It is down to you, and it is down to me.."
"So it is, Ranma Saotome, as I have wanted it for these last few years."
"Well, today's your day, ain't it?"
"There he is," Akane pointed as the pint-sized samurai waddled back to the bench.
"Well!?"
He looked tired. "It's cool." He flopped down on the bench.
"It's time." Akago got the signal from the MC.
Ranma and Ryoga made their way to the ring.

THE KIDS' GOT FUNKY SOUL..
The audience was especially loud. After sitting for several hours they were anxious to see the end of the competition. The contestants bowed to each other and poised for the fight. The boys began with traditional hand-to-hand techniques which built up as they warmed up into more and more impressive maneuvers. Soon they were blurring as they zipped about the ring. Ryoga couldn't land a solid hit as Ranma was faster than he was, and Ranma found that all his punches and kicks seemed to have no effect on the stronger boy. Fifteen solid minutes went by with neither getting the advantage. They were tiring quickly. Akago stared at them, trying to judge which one would come out on top.
"They're getting winded!" Gosan proclaimed.
Akago bit his lip and furrowed his brow. "Oh, I want this to be over with!"
"Who do we cheer for!?" Akane wondered.
"Why not both?!" Gosan yelled. "Come on .. eh.. guys! You can do it!"

Ranma caught Ryoga's left arm. "This is ridiculous!" he panted. "We can't just hang out here like this all day!"
"You're right," Ryoga didn't relax. "What do you want to do about this?"
They both grinned and began powering up.

"Uh-Oh," Gosan strapped the samurai helmet down tightly. "This is gonna be rough."

Ryoga ripped free of Ranma's grip and spun out and away from him. Ranma put his wrists together. "Kame..!"

The Tendo family stared in awe, not sure who to root for. The Son family stared, mouths hanging loosely. They slowly turned and stared at each other.
"Did you hear.." Goten asked.
"..what I just heard?!" Gohan finished.

"Hame..!"
Ryoga landed and whirled, too late to counter, he threw up his arms to block.
"HA!!"
The blast struck Ryoga hard, but his feet remained planted. The cement under them buckled in a spherical depression as the shockwave exploded. He stood, panting heavily, unharmed.
"Huh?" Ranma's smile fell. "Uh-oh."
Ryoga put his own wrists together.

"He should have known Ryoga could take that! He's not thinking!" Ranma! Get off yourself! Fight!" Akago yelled at his student.

Ranma shook his head and built up his own Ki for another attack. Ryoga began to chant.

"Him too!!!?" cried Goku. "This is too weird! I didn't know the old guy was taking new students!!"

Two identical blasts met head on in the center of the partially demolished ring. The crowd screamed louder. Even after years of coming to see this sort of thing, it still inspired awe in every man, woman and child; and this year, even in past contestants. The light was blinding; the noise deafening. Both boys strained against the other's power. For fifteen seconds the beams held their position, then they began to waver.
Akane gasped, "Gosan, what's happening?"
They shivered like the Veranzano Narrows in the wind. The boys saw this and started panicking. Their bodies were pushed more and more towards the edge of the crumbling surface.
'What the hell do I do now!?!' thought Ranma as he began to lose control.
'Kuso! I can't hold him off much longer!!' Ryoga gritted his teeth.
"They can't overcome each other.. the power is too equal!" Akago blurted out.
Suddenly the meeting of the beams gave way in a huge explosion of power. Ranma was knocked backwards into the wall. He hit his head and slid down.
People scattered as Ryoga was blown head over heels, off of the ring and into the stands.
Team Tendo jumped up and ran to their fallen teammates. Akane and Gosan bolted for Ranma.
"Ryoga!" Akago nearly flew to him. "Holy crap! Are you ok?!" He pulled him out of the twisted remains of the bleachers.
"Uhnnn.." he groaned. "Ranma.."
They both looked over and saw Akane hugging a semi-conscious Ranma.
"Looks ok."
"Heh. Too bad.." he laughed lightly.
"Come on," Akago helped him up. He walked him back to the bench where the paramedics met them. The crowd murmured restlessly.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," the MC staggered to the center of what was left of the ring. "As both contestants have been knocked out of the ring.." The audience grew silent. Nabiki, Kasumi, Dr. Tofu, Shampoo, Ukyo, Mouse, Kuno, Kodachi, Genma and Soun all held their breath. Bulma, Trunks, Goten, Paris, Nyoku, Chi-Chi, Atsuko, Gohan and Goku strained to see between the people standing in their way. "..we must look to the photo finish."
Giant TV screens flickered from the image of the MC to a wide-angle shot of the moments directly after the blast. It zoomed in on Ranma and Ryoga's feet. In the same shot, both their feet were lifted off the surface at the same time. "We have a tie!!!!!" Cheers erupted once again. "The purse shall be split between the TWO champions of the 32nd Tenkaichi Boudokai, Ranma Saotome and Ryoga Hibiki!!!!"

HAIL, THE CONQUERING HERO(S)..
The Tendo cheering squad jumped up and down and hugged each other in joy. Everyone won. The Son family and friends gathered together and tried to make their way out of the stadium. Atsuko put her sweater on and sighed. She couldn't shake her sadness.
"Hey mom!" Gosan piped as he sneaked up on her.
"Gosan!!" she cried and grabbed him. "Oh my special little guy! Where have you been!?! Where's your sister!?"
He sprawled in her tight grip. "Well.."
"Son, why are you dressed as a samurai?"
"You were down there this whole time?" Atsuko held him at arms length and examined him.
"Uh, yeah. We'll be home soon, mom!" he levitated up, kissed her cheek and ran away into the crowd.
"Thank you Gosan! Thank you Akago! We'll never forget you!" Soun croaked. Genma-panda grunted with tears running down his face. Goku raised his eyebrows and blinked at them. Goten shrugged.

EPILOG..
Gosan touched down and let go of Ranma and Akane. Akago followed with Ryoga. They proceeded to the mist-covered springs silently. Ranma's heart was pounding. Akane was bewildered, she watched them, wide-eyed. No matter how much she had protested, they still had not told her where they were going or why or how it was that her Sensei could FLY!! As they approached the waters, she gasped. She knew where she was.
"Well, here we are." Ranma clenched his teeth. He had been here so many times. So many times only to find that there was no cure.
"Yup." Akago stepped forward.
"You remember where it was?"
"Do you remember where yours was?" he frowned.
Ranma nodded and pointed to Nyannichuan: the girl spring. Akago stepped forward. He pointed to Ninnichuan. Akane and Gosan stood and watched as the others approached the springs.
"What's going on?" Akane hissed.
"You'll see." Gosan replied, not taking his eyes off his 'brother'.
They looked at each other one last time, and jumped in at once. The waters consumed them, boiled and were still. Akane bit her lip and hugged Gosan's arm. He merely smiled. Suddenly the surface of both pools erupted and three figures leapt up onto bamboo poles. Ranma stared at Ryoga then down at himself. "All right!!!!" he cried with joy. Ryoga hugged himself and did a flip off his pole onto solid ground. Ranma followed. The boys jumped up and down and cried out. Akago jumped down delicately from her pole and smirked at them.
"So glad I could help," she purred. They hugged her and thanked her over and over again.
"What the.. you don't mean..?" Akane stuttered.
Gosan smiled. "They're cured."
"Ryoga?" she cocked her head to the side and looked at him.
He blushed. Ranma gave him a noogie. "You mean P-CHAN!!!"
Akane fell over. Ranma ran over and picked her up and danced with her, semi-conscious or not.
"Ryoga?" Akago walked as she usually did, on the balls of her feet, over to him.
He smiled and held his hands behind his back.
"I want you to have this," she reached over and took his right hand. She placed something in it.
He looked at his gift. "A compass?"
She nodded and looked into his eyes. "So you can find me. We live under Mount Paozu, just head north-east."
He clutched it then put it around his neck. "Thanks, Go-Chan."
"We have to get home. Mom really misses us." Gosan interrupted.
"Yeah," she sighed. They took to the skies.
"Good-bye!!" Akane waved with the boys.
"Thank you for everything!" shouted Ranma, his arm curled tightly around Akane's waist.
"We'll never forget you!" Ryoga blinked back tears. The Son siblings shot off, waving and shouting their good-byes as they disappeared into the east.

THE END

I hope you liked it! -aks