Disclaimer: Ranma ½ doesn't belong to me.
Lost Manhood, Lost Memory
A Glimpse of the Future
"I've got an idea, Ranma. Why don't you come back to college with me?" Akane asked, a smile on her face.
"W..what? I don't know Akane..." Ranma muttered. She was pretty surprised by the sudden suggestion. She hadn't even considered schooling. She didn't even remember going to high school!
"Come on, Ranma! You've been out of school for 3 years. You have to go back sometime." Akane chided. "Besides, the new school year will be starting soon. It's the perfect time to enroll."
"But...I'm not exactly good at book work. Did I even graduate from high school?" Ranma asked. The expression on Akane's face didn't exactly give her high hopes in that regard.
"You shouldn't worry about that, Ranma. There are tests you can take that can give you the equivalent of a high school diploma. With a little tutoring, you should be able to pass easily." Hinako pointed out. She hadn't exactly been in the conversation, however she felt the need to add her two cents.
"Yeah, Ranma! Hinako's a teacher, she'll be able to help you get in." Akane got excited again. Ranma was feeling a little awkward now. However, she really didn't have a reason to say no. It's not like she could just stay home with her parents all day, and she was a bit old to go to high school.
"Alright, I'll go with you Akane."
"Wake up, Ryoga." Ranma insisted, jabbing the slumbering man in the ribs a couple time with her elbow. Normally, she would have just let him sleep, considering it was a long train ride and all. However, he had started to mumble in his sleep, and it was becoming embarrassing to sit next to him.
"Huh, wha?" Ryoga mumbled, sitting up straight and rubbing his eyes. "Where am I?"
"Train to Okinawa, remember? Kasumi and Mousse invited us along to a hot spring resort." Ranma responded, pointing at the married couple across the isle from them. Mousse was showing Akira a card trick, while Kasumi flipped through a magazine.
"Oh, right." Ryoga muttered, relaxing into his seat. He spotted a magazine tucked into the pocket of the seat in front of him and picked it up, flipping through the pages in an attempt to find something worth reading.
"What?" Ryoga asked, glancing at Ranma. She had been giving him a weird look ever since he woke up, almost as if she was accusing him of something.
"Who's Sachiko?" She asked, crossing her arms and glancing at Ryoga with that same look. It wasn't exactly a glare, but it certainly didn't look friendly.
"Huh?" Ryoga asked, confused.
"You were talking in your sleep Ryoga. So tell me, Who's Sachiko?" Ranma asked. Ryoga swallowed nervously, giving his full attention back to the magazine. He wasn't about to divulged the specifics of his dream to Ranma. It was far too embarrassing.
"Nobody. Don't worry about it."
"Oh my God! Ranma, You're alive!" Ranma turned around upon hearing the voice, fairly surprised to see a brown haired woman in a bathing suit and an apron running towards her with her arms open. Before the redhead could properly react, she was enveloped in a tight hug.
"Where the hell have you been? It's been three years you jackass, I thought you were dead!" The woman gushed, openly crying on Ranma's shoulder. For her part, Ranma was incredibly confused. She was also fairly embarrassed about the whole thing.
"Eh, Ukyo? What are you doing here?" Ryoga asked. It seemed his words only drew Ukyo's attention though, as he too was yanked into the fierce bear hug.
"Ryoga, you're here too! It's a miracle!" Ukyo cried out, hugging them both like a barnacle on a ship.
"Ryoga, who is this crazy woman?" Ranma asked, struggling out of Ukyo's hold and looking at the chef like she grew a second head.
"What are you talking about, Ranma? It's me, Ucchan! Don't you recognize me?" She said, looking intently at the redhead.
"Ukyo, Ranma has amnesia. It's why she disappeared for three years." Ryoga explained. She glanced at Ryoga for a second, a confused look on her face.
"Really? He doesn't remember anything?" Ukyo asked. Ryoga nodded in response.
"Come on, Ukyo. I should probably fill you in on what's happened in the past three years. Wait here Ranma." With those words, Ryoga grabbed Ukyo by the arm and moved down the path a little ways. Ranma just stood and watched, barely able to hear them talking as Ryoga explained everything to Ukyo. After a few moments, the woman started to glow a bright red, pulled a giant bladed Spatula out of nowhere, and promptly tried to cut Ryoga in half with it while screaming 'You son of a bitch!'
"Huh, wonder why she did that." Ranma muttered, content in simply watching the enraged chef trying to murder her boyfriend. Too bad she didn't have any popcorn.
"Greetings, Ryoga-dono. It's been quite awhile, hasn't it?" Ryoga spun around when he heard the voice, losing his concentration and ending his practice abruptly. It was no doubt about it, The aged woman behind him was none other than Cologne. Time had not been kind to her, it seemed. Despite the fact it had been a mere three years since he last saw the woman, Cologne looked to have aged 50 years. She had looked fairly old before, but now she seemed ancient, almost decrepit. Ryoga couldn't remember a time in which the elder had ever looked so fragile.
"Old lady? What are you doing here?" Ryoga asked, breathing a bit heavily from his practice. He had originally intended to be a bit more vicious in his response, but her appearance changed his mind immediately.
"I received word that my son in law lives and you think I wouldn't come to see him? You are more foolish than I thought, boy." Cologne chided, walking slowly across the yard towards a lawn chair that sat nearby. She still moved with the same grace as always, but it seemed that the power had left her body. Ryoga would not have been very surprised if a brisk wind could knock her off her feet.
"However, considering the word we received from the Tendos, it seems you are fairly foolish anyway. To think, you actually are seeking a relationship with my son-in-law. You must have some kind of death wish." Cologne said simply, chuckling slightly. She leapt up into the lawn chair and seemed to relax, completely unconcerned with her surroundings.
"Death wish? Hate to break it to you, Cologne, but you hardly look like a threat to me right now." Ryoga responded. Though he made no move to get into a defensive stance, his muscles tensed and his hands formed into tight fists. He wasn't about to be caught off guard.
"Heh, you may be right about that. I'm not the one you should worry about, though. I didn't come here alone, you know." Cologne answered, coughing a few times lightly into her hand.
"Die!" Ryoga spun around like a top, a spike of fear shooting up his spine as he saw the woman that was descending upon his position. She hung in the air, her clothes and hair billowing behind her from the wind while her eyes held nothing but hatred.
Ryoga barely moved in time, rolling across the dew covered grass as Shampoo's sword bit into the space his body had previously been occupying. As her blade moved, it seemed to split everything in its path. The grass, the ground, the wall, even the air itself seemed to part in the wake of her attack.
"Oh, Shampoo, How nice of you to join us." Cologne muttered, pulling some kind of thermos from her robes and taking a wary sip, not wanting the liquid within to burn her tongue. "You may kill him now."
"I don't know if I can take this anymore, Mousse. I mean, Akane has been all but hitting on me since I got here. Then Ukyo showed up, and now Shampoo? I can't keep up." Ranma muttered, slouching over on the porch. Mousse just sat where he was, his eyes pointing towards the koi pond but not truly seeing anything.
"You left a lot of loose ends when you disappeared, Ranma. It's only natural that you'd have to face them all now that you've returned." Mousse replied.
"Well, what should I do about it? I'm not a lesbian, Mousse. And I don't really like the idea that Shampoo has tried to murder Ryoga every time he comes back into town." Ranma was about at her wits end over the whole thing. The girls were nice and all, but this was becoming ridiculous.
"There is something you could do to get them off your back." Mousse suddenly said, drawing Ranma's attention, "They are only so intent over you because of who you were. You could tell them about the other Ranma. He is who you were."
"Saffron is a being of fire, Ryoga. He provides heat and light to the people of Phoenix mountain. However, even with all his might, his power is not limitless. He will burn out, as he had many times in the past. And when that happens, he will die and be reborn." Cologne muttered, coughing a few times. Ryoga looked at her warily, unsure of how to respond.
"Why are you telling me this?" Ryoga asked. The old woman was nothing but a mystery to him. Sometimes she was helpful, sometimes she wanted him dead. He couldn't tell which one she was right now.
"Because Saffron does not retain himself when he is reborn. He loses all his memory, gains an entirely new personality. Whenever Saffron dies, he dies in every sense of the word. When he is reborn, it is someone else that takes his place. I've lived through many Saffrons. He is sometimes kind, sometimes cruel, sometimes insane. He's never the same twice. Saffron knows his time is coming, and he fears it." Cologne added on. She took a sip of her tea and continued on.
"We've been spying on the people of phoenix mountain ever since they took Jusenkyo from us. It turns out that Saffron has been searching for something. He's looking for a way to...recharge himself, so to speak. And, he believes he's found one." Cologne paused long enough to take another sip before continuing.
"How he learned of her, I do not know. But there are many phoenix hiding in Japan. They are looking for a woman whose chi burns like fire. Sound familiar?"
"Damn it!" Ryoga swore, punching another tree in anger. Why didn't she just listen to him? Why wouldn't she let him explain? No, she had to throw him out the window, and now he didn't know where the hell he was!
"I gotta get back. I have to explain myself, or else she'll never forgive me." Ryoga muttered. Damn it, it was just his luck she'd walk in on that. He never should have helped that crazy woman and her pig. Then he wouldn't be in this mess.
"You seem as angry as ever, Ryoga." Ryoga glanced towards the source of the voice, seeing two cloaked figures coming down the forest path. Good, someone who recognized him. That meant he was somewhere familiar, which meant he could get back to Ranma soon.
"Hey," Ryoga said, pretending to know who he was talking to, "Which way is Tokyo?" The taller cloaked figure chuckled a bit, removing his hood in the process. Ryoga hadn't been able to see his face before, due to the darkness, however now he could see him clear as day.
"It's good to see you again, Ryoga. I trust you've been taking care of my sister?"
The End. To Be Continued in LMLM: Aftermath.
There it is, the epilogue I promised ages ago. As you can probably tell, it's just a bunch of teaser scenes from the eventual sequel. That's right, I'm writing a sequel.
Don't ask me when it'll premiere, since I haven't got a clue, but it'll take place immediately from where LMLM left off. So those of you who still have this story on your alert list, you might as well take it off. The next time I update this, it'll be as a separate story.