Summary: Just how does all that chaos around Ranma stay balanced?

Disclaimer: Ranma Nibunnoichi is the property of Rumiko Takahashi, whoever translates it into English, and the various groups that turned it into an anime series. No profit is being made off of this story and no copyright infringement is intended.

Author's Note: Inspired by word #53 at the 15minuteficlets livejournal community.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o
Straight Answers
o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

It is next to impossible to get a straight answer out of Saotome Ranma. Even when you think he's given you one, more often than not it turns out to be just a knee-jerk defensive reaction, which closer scrutiny of his actions will disprove.

On the surface, this makes him very easy to take advantage of. Since he can't -- or won't -- explain himself properly, people can ascribe any number of motives to him. Or any number of desires. Or even any number of actions he's never committed.

And you can get him to take the blame for anything, mostly because he can't -- or won't -- effectively deny your claims, and by now everyone around here is used to blaming him for everything anyway.

But when you look more closely, you start to realize that, barring the strange accidents he's prone to, when Ranma truly objects to something, it doesn't happen. And when he really wants something, he eventually gets it. Notice, for instance, that he's still not married to any of his supposed fiancées. Ryoga has finally stopped playing Akane's pet. His mother has accepted him as manly despite his curse, so he's free from that seppuku contract. And the constant chaos keeps his skills sharp, while never quite getting past the point where he can bear it.

As for his curse, I don't think he ever minded it as much as he said, not when he's so willing to "go girl" to get out of tight spots. Granted, the curse gets him into as many problems as it gets him out of, but Ranma wouldn't know what to do with himself if he weren't in trouble.

I've known for a long time now that he lets me take pictures for Kuno; I don't think I ever caught him by surprise after his first few weeks in Nerima. I'm still not sure why he goes along with my photography business. Yes, some of that money goes to support my family, and he may feel obligated to pose as a sort of rent payment. But then again, he may just allow the pictures as a way to keep Kuno's obsession -- and consequently his attacks and contributions to the general chaos -- fresh and constant.

I don't think he's that smart, that underhanded -- after the Gambling King, I'd almost swear Ranma couldn't lie or keep secrets to save his life -- but the way the pattern of his actions always keeps everything hanging, balanced just so... well, there are times that I wonder. After all, the best way to lie is to make the untruth so big that nobody thinks to disbelieve you, and keep everything else on the level so you seem trustworthy. What if he's been playing with us all along?

I tried asking him once, walked up to him with a smile on my face and said, "So what chaos are you planning this week, Ranma-kun? I might be able to help you, for a price."

He gave me that stunned-rabbit look he does so well and said, "I don't plan stuff! Stuff just happens to me."

I raised my eyebrow. "And it never occurred to you to take advantage of the situation?"

He shrugged. "Aw, Nabiki, you know I ain't like you." Which could mean any number of things, but before I could ask him to clarify himself, Shampoo burst through the front gate with a takeout order of ramen, which brought Akane out of the house and led to Ranma fleeing the scene with the two fiancées in hot pursuit. He grinned at me as he left.

So I still haven't gotten a straight answer from him.

But then again, I wasn't really expecting one.

o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-o

AN: Thank you for reading, and please review! I appreciate all feedback, but I'm particularly interested in knowing what parts of the story worked for you, what parts didn't, and why.