DISCLAIMER: I do not own or really have anything to do with Ranma ½. All characters, trademarks, copyrights, etc, are the properties of their respective owners. I only wish I owned Ranma ½. I'm just a humble fanfiction writer.
"Akane! Time to wake up, breakfast is almost ready!" Kasumi's voice rang up the stairs toward her little sister's room.
"I'm already awake, Kasumi!" she called back. Akane had been awake for an hour already, she wanted to make sure she looked right this morning. Checking herself over a final time, she went downstairs to join her family for breakfast. Dropping herself at the table, she quickly noticed that someone was missing.
"Has anyone seen Ranma this morning?"
"No, and I can't seem to catch him ever leaving, either," came the annoyed-sounding voice of her older sister, Nabiki. Akane couldn't help but smile a little. It was hard to hide something from Nabiki, and somehow, Ranma had managed to avoid her catching him leaving the house, despite her best efforts. The smile vanished as quickly as it had left, and she lost herself in thought.
Where does he go on the days he leaves in the morning? she wondered. He's been like this for so long now… just up and vanishes for a couple of hours. Oh, Ranma, what are you hiding from us? From me? Why… why won't you just tell us where you vanish off to? She knew he wasn't spending time with any of his other fiancées, since she had risen early several times to wait for him at the Nekohanten. He hadn't ever shown up, and she knew he hadn't snuck inside, since most times she could see Shampoo inside, cleaning up and getting ready for a day of work. She tried waiting at Ukyo's twice, though she knew it was pointless. He'd only just forgiven her for her involvement in the whole failed wedding disaster. Akane had once tried the so-called 'noble house of Kuno' in desperation. Half an hour up a tree in the rain watching the idiot Kuno siblings bicker about her, the pig-tailed girl, and 'Ranma-darling' over morning tea had not only convinced her that Ranma was not there, but that she was never, ever coming back to that place. Ever. It was six months since the failed wedding, and Ranma had started disappearing on random mornings for the last three, always missing breakfast. She was starting to get worried. No, no, no! I'm not worried about him! Not at all! NO! It's just… just… She sighed. Ranma… To make matter's worse, every since he had started vanishing in the morning, he had become… withdrawn. To the point where he barely said anything to anyone. The most Akane had heard him say in a month was the grunting he made as he worked out in the dojo. What's happened to him…?
"AKANE!!" bellowed Nabiki.
"WHAT?! YOU DON'T HAVE TO YELL!"
"Apparently I do, because I've only been calling your name for the past three minutes. You finished eating five minutes ago and have been staring at your food ever since."
"Oh, sorry. I just didn't feel like getting up right away. So!" she said, as she got up, "we know Ranma isn't sneaking out through the hall, because you've been watching it like a hawk. Is he still in his room?"
"He was when you came downstairs, but he isn't now."
"Ah," Akane said. "Any idea how he's getting past the security camera hidden under his window?"
"No," grumped Nabiki, "and if I don't figure it out soon, I'm gonna- HEY! HOW DID YOU KNOW ABOUT THE CAMERA?!"
Laughing, Akane grabbed an umbrella and ran for the door.
"DAMNIT, AKANE! HOW DID YOU KNOW?!"
Akane stuck her tongue out at her sister as she went out the door. "Biii!"
Nabiki grumped as she sat back down at the table. "How did she…?"
Kasumi spoke up. "Now Nabiki, it's not proper to watch Akane's fiancée while he's sleeping."
"I'm NOT watching that bozo while he's asleep, sis. I just want to know how he's getting out."
"Well… I guess that's ok. Did anyone else notice how Akane was dressed?"
Akane looked down at herself, making sure she still looked good. She was wearing a simple black sweater and skirt, but she knew it looked very nice on her. She wanted to look good this morning. Despite her worries about Ranma, she pushed any thoughts of him to one side. She had someone very special she had to see this morning, and she wanted to make sure she still looked her best when she got there.
She was so intent on where she was going, that she barely noticed the blur shoot over her head, bounding from one rooftop to the next, heading in the same direction. Ranma? Where's he…? Realizing it was far too late to follow her roof-hopping fiancée, she continued on. She had someone just as special to visit.
Ranma bounced from one roof to the next, trying to keep an eye on the weather. He was going to see her again, and it would not do for him to show up as a girl when it started to rain. He's shown up once as a girl, and found that he couldn't even speak to her until he found some hot water.
He looked up at the sky. I'd better hurry, it looks like it's gonna start pouring real soon. He jumped faster, trying to beat the rain. Finally, he bounded onto the last possible house, and looked around at the field spread before him. Now, where…? Right, she should be right past that tree way over there… He jumped off the roof, and landed in a tree, holding onto the branch for balance. He jumped again, this time leaping from tree branch to tree branch, until he was finally in the tree he had spotted in the distance. There she is, he thought as he dropped down. He paused, and silence hung in the air. It was like this every time, he never knew where to start. Five minutes passed, then ten. It started to rain, and Ranma quickly pulled his hood up over his head to stay dry. Finally, fifteen minutes had past with him standing. Ugh, just start from the beginning, baka! he thought to himself. Readying himself with a single flower in one hand, his voice was a little shaky, just like every other morning he had come here.
"Hey. Nothing's changed, you know. I'm not sure it ever will. So, can we talk some more today?" Silence filled the air for a moment, as he waited for his answer. Then silence was his answer, as he spoke again.
"Thank you. I don't know where to start, but…" He dropped to one knee, and held the lone flower out. "I swear I'll do my best." He spoke her name.
Akane was running a little, she didn't want to get caught in the rain that looked like it was about to start any minute. She jogged through the field, trying to make sure she didn't slip. She moved quickly, hoping to at least be there before the rain started. Then, her eyes caught sight of a pig-tailed boy, dressed in black Chinese silk, with a lone flower in his hand.
Ranma? What's he doing here? Is… is this where's he's been going to? All previous thoughts erased from her mind, she crept closer to him, hiding behind the tree, as he pulled his hood over his head as the rain finally came down. She watched him in silence. A minute passed, then two, then five. Unable to move, she watched as he finally seemed to prepare himself, then started speaking. She couldn't hear what he was saying, and moved closer, just a little closer and…
"… where to start, but…" As Akane watched, Ranma dropped to one knee. "I swear I'll do my best." Akane watched, numbly as she realized who Ranma was here for. He's here to talk to… you? But… but… Ranma, why?! That's… she… she's… unable to complete the thought, all Akane could do was listen to Ranma as he sat down, and began to speak.
Ranma sat, leaned back, and felt hard stone pressing against him, "What I wouldn't give to be able to see things, just for one moment, the way that you can. Wouldn't this be so much easier? You're able to see things and understand them, all I can do is see them and react to them. Heh, the famous Saotome Foot In Mouth Technique, the capability of shoving your own foot into you're mouth and leaving enough room for your leg. I'm trying… I'm trying not to hurt her, you know, but everything I say causes her pain. I can see it in her eyes. By the time I realize what I've done, and want to apologize, tell her I don't mean it, it's usually far too late. She never listens, you know. Of course you know, you've known her for so long. She acts like it's my fault, every time, and never gives me a chance to say anything. I've been called 'hentai' and 'baka' so much I'm starting to think that's my real name. How's that for funny? 'Hi, I'm Baka Hentai, of the Hentai School of Anything Goes Martial Arts.' Heh. I just need… I just need you to tell me something.
"Tell me I'm doing the right thing. I think what I'm doing is hurting her, but… I can't tell if I'm hurting her more this way than the way I was before. Please, tell me I'm doing the honorable thing. Tell me I'm right when I…
"Tell me Akane's doing better without me."
"I think she is. I haven't once heard her cry ever since I stopped talking to her. She doesn't get angry any more. I've been keeping Kuno off of her back without her knowing about it. I know she wouldn't want me to, but I figured out a really easy way to do it. I just gave in to his whole 'Black Sorcerer Saotome' delusion, and told him I really had cast a spell on Akane and 'the pig-tailed girl,' and that as soon as one of them touched him, that Kuno would be under my spell, and then I would have him kill off all of Furinkan High, and then conquer Japan. Then I told him that unless he could avoid them both until they graduate, that the spell would never be able to touch him. The baka fell for it, I couldn't even believe that, because I gave him the problem and the answer at the same time!
I know that Akane would hate me for it, and I know how tough she is, she really is a great martial artist-"
Ranma thinks I'm great?
"-but she's nowhere near my level." He couldn't help but grin. "But hey, no one really is. After all, I'm the best."
Akane felt a small bubble of anger. Ranma…
"I got to go, I need to get back to the dojo for my morning practice, but… I'll see you again."
With that, Ranma bowed, then jumped back into the tree, before he began his journey back to the Tendo's.
A few minutes passed, then Akane came out from hiding. She approached the spot where, minutes before, Ranma had been sitting. The person, the woman, he had been talking to was still there. She would be there for some time.
"… it's been you he's been coming to see? Why… why would he come talk to you? I… I… I don't understand…" Akane rested her hand against smooth stone. "… Mother."