Chapter 11 Merry Wife of Nerima
Akane and Ranma ran breathlessly through the gates of Furinkan High School, Akane yelling, "Hurry Ranma, or we'll be late!!'
Ranma yelled back, "Hey, who was it that decided we could take the later train?"
Akane blushed beet red as she remembered why she had wanted to take the later train. They ran up the stairs to their classroom, only stopping long enough to throw a small suitcase into Akane's locker. The two of them entered their classroom and sat down in their respective seats just as the final bell rang, effectively stilling the buzz of conversation that had started as they had made their entrance.
The teacher mechanically called roll, marking off those that answered. When he called the name 'Saotome,' he was surprised that there was no response from Ranma. He looked up and repeated 'Saotome?' looking straight at Ranma.
Ranma smirked and replied, "It's Tendo now, sensei. Ranma Saotome is no more. We'll get the records straight in the office as soon as possible."
"Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Tendo," the teacher said dryly, "Thank you for gracing us with your presence today. I'm sure there are other things you would rather be doing this morning."
Ranma and Akane blushed as all of the girls giggled and the boys whistled. After allowing several minutes of the cacophony to reign, the teacher coughed loudly to get the class's attention and said, "Now that we've got that out of our system, we do have a lesson to get through today. IF there are no other surprises, then lets finish the roll call." The class settled down, though both Ranma and Akane knew that this was only a brief respite from the inquisition that Akane's friends were going to give her. For the first time in his life, Ranma was giving serious consideration to skipping lunch.
Ranma was correct. Lunch was a disaster. He had tried to escape with his wife, but he had been cut off by several of Akane's girlfriends. She had smiled at him, and then reluctantly followed her friends outside. The displeasure showing on his face was enough to allow him to plow through the horde allowing him to sit near Akane, but he couldn't reach her through the crowd of girlfriends sitting around her. From the occasional snatch of conversation, and the rosy hue on Akane's cheeks, Ranma decided that maybe he didn't want to sit too close and hear what they were talking about. He was sure he would rather not know after he stopped to consider it. He moved away a few feet to where he couldn't overhear the conversation. Unfortunately, that allowed many of the boys to surround him.
Ranma decided to be proactive and said, "I'm not going to answer any questions about my marriage. That is between Akane and I and no one else. The only thing I will say is that it is every thing that I hoped it would be. If anyone else has any questions, I suggest they remember who I am and that if I don't like the question, I may get physical." He glared around at the other boys and asked, "Are there any other questions?" The crowd melted from around him as he cracked his knuckles. As all of the boys disappeared, Ranma grinned and said, "I thought not."
Finally the afternoon classes were over and Ranma and Akane could escape the crowds of people. They made their to his mother's home, where, as soon as they got there, Akane was ambushed by her sisters and Nodoka and dragged away to the guestroom to talk about the weekend.
Ranma found Soun in the living room, surrounded by several papers. Soun looked up, startled to see Ranma there. "Hello Ranma, how's married life treating you?" Soun asked.
Ranma grinned and said, "I can't complain. Of course, it's only been two days. The only problem was at school, where I had to threaten the perverts to keep them from asking questions that I wouldn't answer.
"I went to see Genma yesterday to play shogi and to talk. I let him know about you and Akane getting married. He was happy to hear that; he said he only wanted you to be happy after all. I also told him of the girls' demand that he leave our house. He understood that while I valued his friendship, reuniting my family had to come first," Soun said with a sigh, "I will miss him staying there. I know he isn't a very good person in many respects, but we shared many years together. I'm sorry that his actions caused the two of you to become estranged."
Ranma smiled sadly, and said, "It' funny, but I'll miss him as well, Mr. Tendo. He's been the only parent I've known and the only constant in my life. There are some good memories in those ten years, but also a lot of bad ones. He made many foolish decisions and now he has to suffer the consequences for what he did. It's sad in a way, he wanted me to marry one of your daughters so he could live in comfort, but he screwed up big time and now has lost everything that he once held dear."
"Yes, I feel pity for him as well because of that," Soun responded, "I'm not sure what he is going to do once he leaves the hospital. Your mother told him about her plans for him as well. From talking to her today, that seemed to hurt him more than anything else that have happened to him. I'll probably find out when I go see him later today. I owe him a few more games of shogi."
Ranma sighed and said, "I'll have to see him again as well, Mr. Tendo. I still feel guilty for what I did to him."
"Ranma, I've been meaning to ask you this before. Do you suppose you could call me Soun or maybe Dad?" Soun asked, "After all, you're my son-in-law now, so there's no real need to be that formal anymore."
Ranma replied, "I'd be honored to call you Dad. I was just a bit reluctant to do so without your permission."
Soun hesitated and then asked, "Do you need to talk to someone about the fight, Ranma? If so, I'd like to listen."
"It wasn't a fight, it was a beating. I outclassed him by so much it wasn't fair at all. I feel like I abused the art by what I did to him. We're supposed to protect the weak with our skills, but instead I brutalized him," Ranma said in self-disgust, "He is a foolish man who would have destroyed the reputation of the Saotome School, but he didn't deserve what I did to him."
Soun said sympathetically, "Ranma, so long as you realize that, I believe you've learned a valuable lesson. Your ability in the art is a gift, one that I don't believe you'll misuse again. It's a painful lesson to learn, especially for someone still as young as you are, and I'm sorry you had to learn it the way you did. But now that you've learned it, you'll be a better person for it."
Ranma's face cleared as the words registered. He said thoughtfully, "Genma said much the same thing when I talked to him at the hospital. It's funny, but hearing you agree with him and tell me this makes me feel a bit better about the situation."
"When are you and Akane going to come home?" Soun asked, "You know that I intended to give the house and dojo to the two of you as a wedding present. I filed the necessary paperwork for that today while I was at the town hall for my council meeting. I made your mother and myself the trustees until you turn twenty-one, I hope that meets with your approval."
Ranma said quietly, "I know that had been your plan. I love Akane and would have married her without that. While the dojo means a great deal to her, it doesn't really matter to me where I am so long as I can teach martial arts. I care about it, of course, since it is the only real home that I have ever known, but to her, it is a place of many memories. I don't know how soon we'll come back. I know Mom likes us here, and Akane and I haven't had a chance to think about our future yet. I know it would make more sense for us to live there, now that we have several classes to teach. At least until we graduate from high school and head off to college, anyway."
Soun smiled at the young man he was proud to call his son, even if it was only by marriage. "Yes, we've made a good start with the classes we've started. I'll try not to run it into the ground while you two are away at college. I've actually come to enjoy the classes that I have been teaching. I'm glad you encouraged me to start teaching again. I haven't felt this good about things in a long time," Soun said.
Ranma grinned, and replied, "You mean twisted your arm, doncha? I'm glad you're enjoying yourself though. You're a good instructor; I've learned a few things from you myself about teaching. You've also shown me how much more I need to learn. That's one of the reasons that I realized that I need to continue on to college and get a degree."
After Kasumi and Nodoka had left the guestroom to begin preparing dinner, once they had successfully embarrassed Akane with all of the questions they had asked, Akane stayed behind to talk to Nabiki. She hesitated and then said, softly, "Sis, I want to thank you for all the help you gave us in getting the wedding together so quickly. We wouldn't be married now if it weren't for what you did. I know it has to be hard for you, though."
"Akane don't worry about me. Seeing how happy this has made the two of you makes me realize how selfish I was in trying to tear you apart. My helping you with the wedding is only a partial payment of the debt that I owe, and I always pay my debts in full," Nabiki replied.
Akane sighed as she said, "Sis, Ranma and I have forgiven you, why can't you forgive yourself?"
Nabiki smiled thinly and replied, "I can't until my debt to you is repaid."
"And when will that be? When you're old and grey? As far as we're concerned there is no debt. You've more than made up for what you did. I can't blame you for fighting for the man you loved, I would have done the same thing if it had looked like Ranma was going to pick someone other than me," Akane replied.
Nabiki sighed as she replied, "Yes, but you would have tried to convince him he had picked the wrong girl by showing him how much you loved him, and allowed him to make his own choice. And once he had made that choice, you would have accepted it, not continue to fight it."
"I'm not sure I agree with you about that, Sis. I had a hard time with my jealousy when all three of us were dating Ranma. There were times when I actually hated both you and Kasumi. I don't know if I would have been so quick to give him up if he had picked either of you over me," Akane admitted.
Nabiki replied, "You know that actually makes me feel a little better to find out that I'm not the only one who wouldn't lose gracefully. The thing that makes what I tried to do so horrible, though, and the reason I'm still having a hard time forgiving myself, is that I never really was in the running. Ranma likes me, I know, in spite of everything, but he never came to love me, at least not romantically. When he looks at me, I can tell that all he sees is a sister, not a lover. If I had realized that sooner, all of us would have been better off, especially me. No, the real competition for his love was only between you and Kasumi."
"Well, this conversation certainly got depressing in a hurry," Akane said as she smiled sadly, "So I'm going to change the subject. Ranma and I wanted you to come with us to a play this Wednesday. We've got tickets to a murder mystery at one of the theatres. It's our way of saying thank you for the wedding, and we're not taking no for an answer."
Nabiki giggled and said, "Then I guess I'd better say yes. Seriously, I'd love to come. You know how much I like murder mysteries."
"Good, it's settled then," Akane said with a smile.
Ranma escorted Akane and Nabiki into the theatre. Nabiki asked, nervously, "Are you sure you two don't mind me being with you? I feel like such a fifth wheel, right now."
Akane giggled and replied, "Nonsense, Nabiki. We want you to have a good time tonight."
Ranma winked at Akane and added, "She's right, Biki-chan. Besides, I kinda like having the two most attractive women in the theatre on each arm. Does wonders for the male ego."
Akane snorted and said, "Yeah, like your ego needs to get any bigger."
Nabiki giggled attractively and replied, "It would be a shame to waste this ticket, anyway."
Ranma picked up three programs and led the way to their seats. After finding the right row, he waited for Nabiki to make her way to the innermost seat of the three. Then he said, "Have a good time, Nabiki. We'll see you later. Our seats are in a different section." Then he leaned forward slightly and said, "Hello," to the white-robed occupant of the seat next to Nabiki.
"Hi, Mousse," Akane added, as Nabiki turned to stare at the person sitting next to her.
"Why do I get the feeling we've been set up, Nabiki?" Mousse asked.
Nabiki smiled and replied, "Because I think we were. My too clever sister is playing matchmaker, I think."
Akane giggled and replied, "Maybe a little. When Ranma went to thank Mousse for his help with Kodachi, Mousse mentioned that he wanted to see this play. That gave me the idea; I have to admit. Bye, sis." Ranma and Akane left to make their way to their seats.
"I'm sorry that you got roped into this Mousse. My sister seems to be more of a romantic than I realized," Nabiki said.
Mousse smiled easily and replied, "It's okay, Nabiki. I wouldn't mind spending some time with you. The little bit of conversation we had at the wedding was enjoyable. I thought you had a wicked sense of humor that I really liked. Besides, you are an attractive woman, so this isn't a hardship at all."
Nabiki returned his smile with one of her own and said, "Thanks, Mousse. I could stand a little company right now to be honest. I've had a rough several days recently and could use some cheering up."
"Do you want to talk about it, or is it something private?" Mousse asked hesitantly, "I make a pretty good sounding board, I've been told."
Nabiki hesitated for a long time and then said, "Why not? What's one more person thinking that I'm an idiot going to hurt?" She paused and then continued, "I made the mistake of falling in love with someone. Unfortunately, he didn't love me and instead married the woman he loved."
"That man must have been a fool to turn you down, Nabiki," Mousse replied.
"That's kind of you to say, but Ranma's not a fool. Well, at least not always," Nabiki said.
"Oh," Mousse replied.
"Yeah, oh. I fell in love with my sister's fiancé. Brilliant of me, wasn't it?" Nabiki said, depreciatively, "Ranma's an easy guy to like. He can be charming; he's certainly good looking enough, and one of the three of us was supposed to marry him to carry on the family school."
"Well, if it's any consolation, I understand a little of what you're going through. I've been in love with Shampoo since we were three. However, she's made it very clear that she doesn't return my love," Mousse said, "So I've decided to try to move on."
"Just like that?" Nabiki asked.
Mousse smiled sadly, and replied, "Well, maybe not just like that. But there's probably no point in wasting the rest of my life chasing something that can't happen. I was just too blind to see that until recently."
"Well then, how about for tonight, I'll forget about Ranma and you can forget about Shampoo, and we can have a good time together. After the play is over, you and I can go have a romantic dinner together, and let the matchmakers think their plan is working," Nabiki said with a dangerous glint to her eye.
Mousse let his mouth curl up in a sardonic smile, and then he laughed. "That sounds like a good plan, Nabiki. I know of several nice restaurants around here, and a few of them also have a nice little dance band, if you're into that," he replied.