A Ranma ½ fan fiction…
Author – Chibi / Warlordess
Disclaimer – I don't own Ranma ½; it is a product by the great Rumiko Takahashi. I'm also not creative enough to make up a better disclaimer than that. How sad. . .
Notes – I have no idea how this idea came to me. I went from having no inspiration or confidence for R/A fan fiction to harboring this suddenly evolved plot that just popped out of nowhere. It was just, I could see this as something in the series, I guess. Those who've read the manga might not agree with me first off thanks to the summary I gave you, but it is a bit misleading, so you'll just have to find out why. Also, let it be known… I HATE THAT TITLE! DIE, TITLE!
Dedication – To my online sister, Silverflare07, who sent me the first through third seasons of the anime and who encouraged the creation and progress of this fic. She's the one who deserves it most of all.
Title - Herbal Remedies
Chapter Eight - "Don't Be Disappointed"
Summary - It started with Akane's losing her mind and telling Ranma that she loved him, and then it was his unwillingness to tell her he didn't feel the same way. . . But how did all of this madness start, and when? R x A romance. Kind of. :P
Three days later, early morning would find Akane sneaking out of her room with her arms full, heading towards the bath. In fact, she seemed to be holding the things so closely to her chest as she walked that it seemed like she was ensuring that her face couldn't be seen.
This was how it had been for her since the discussion she and Ranma had had days earlier. After her fiancé had come out with the story of what had been going on, for some reason, she'd been left, not angry, not disbelieving, but thoroughly embarrassed.
It was as Ranma had said to her, after all. It was possible that his crazy love story was more plausible than Shampoo's tale of a simple mistake. And, strangely enough, as she, Akane, listened to what the pigtailed boy had to say to her, she couldn't help agreeing. Now, she wasn't sure if that was because some twisted part of her actually hoped that Ranma might be in love with her, or maybe she just realized on some deep, subconscious level that it was easier to trust him than the Amazon warrior.
But then, after she'd heard everything Ranma had had to say, she'd been left to deal with the aftermath on her own. And, according to him, once Ryouga decided to show up from wherever it was he'd disappeared to, she'd finally be able to see this 'proof' she'd heard so much about. . .
Anyway, after Ranma had finished talking to her about his side of the story, she'd numbly reached her feet and left the comfort of the family room and walked away, but she knew that it wasn't before she and her fiancé had formed a silent understanding between each other; she just needed some time. To think, to reminisce, to do whatever she needed to. . . And he'd gotten that for once. He hadn't whimpered her name, sweet-talked her, grabbed a hold of her waist, or any such thing since then.
But now, three days since that whole thing had come and gone and she wasn't much closer to solving the puzzle that had made itself known to her over the past week.
What she did know, the one small tidbit of knowledge she'd gained since first she began to wonder, was that she liked it. She didn't like the constant touching, or the entirely sappy demeanor, or anything like that, but she simply loved the idea of being. . . well. . . loved. She didn't find it 'flattering' on so many levels as much as she just knew it was worth appreciating how Ranma may have really felt for her. . .
. . . But did that mean that she felt the same way for him?
Had someone asked her that a few days ago and she'd have turned scarlet in fury and probably whacked the person soundly over the head with her bokken; now, however. . . Really, if she did, then the feeling, while not farfetched, was somehow. . . premature. . . If Akane really did love Ranma, then she wasn't supposed to know it yet. At this point, the emotion just made her feel awkward. . .
It was lucky for her that Ranma understood that and was allowing her some space to figure everything out. . . But how long could she afford. . . ? There was no way she could live with this Ranma forever. Even justified, it still wasn't him; keeping him this way would be like committing some form of injustice, she was sure. . .
But dare she tell him what Shampoo had told her to? Dare she tell Ranma she didn't love him. . . ? Her fiancé had only been too eager to explain why she'd better not, leaving her to understand that if she did say those words to him, any affection he may have held for her would simply vanish on the spot. . . But what about Shampoo? Akane seriously doubted that the Amazon would remain absent during such a serious situation for much longer. . .
Still, for now, what was she to do to occupy her time? She didn't feel confident enough about herself, somehow, to tell Ranma she loved him, but she definitely wasn't compelled enough to tell him the opposite, either. . . And she couldn't just leave everything as it was. . . She felt trapped, suffocated. . . And she felt pressed to react in a way that she didn't know how.
She was growing irritated. She thought that figuring out that Ranma's feelings for her were real would ease her anger, but, contrary to that, she found herself growing more and more frustrated about things in general.
"It's all Shampoo's fault. . ." The thought wouldn't cease crossing her mind. If Shampoo hadn't been so quick to assume that that herb of hers would end things so well then this wouldn't be happening. . . Ranma wouldn't be acting so off, she, Akane, wouldn't be slinking around corners to avoid talking to him, everything would be just as it always was. . . "Why'd she have to do this. . . ?"
For a brief moment, Akane almost considered telling Ranma that she loved him, just to spite the Amazon warrior. . . But that was soon quashed by pure human virtue. There was no way she'd use Ranma like that. . . No; it was out of the question.
As Akane sat herself into the tub, relaxing amongst the bubbles, hot water, and scents of ivory and lavender, she attempted to amuse herself with thoughts of how things would turn out after (or even if) she decided to tell Ranma she loved him; instead, this only worried her. After all, what if he just acted as he always did? She admitted to herself that she did miss him, but that didn't mean that she wanted to deal with his carelessness or mockery after such a romantic notion. . .
And what about everyone else? Would their fathers use such a strangely acquired confession to steer the two of them into marriage? Would both Kuno and Kodachi, Ukyou and Shampoo, Ryouga and Gosenkuge, and everyone else end up waging war against them or be forcibly removed by people like the entire Tendo and Saotome family, and Happosai, who'd decide to take advantage of the many heartbroken girls in their weak element?
Hearing the sounds of her awakening family from outside the bathroom, Akane stood up and pulled the drain stopped, watching as the frothy, soapy water vanished. She wrapped herself up in her towel and stepped as quickly as possible, exiting into the laundry room and picking at her clothes.
Ever since her talk with Ranma leading to her utter embarrassment, she'd started the day early every morning. She bathed before anyone else was up, and after that, requested Kasumi to prepare an easy breakfast for her so that she could eat before the table was set. Then she would head to school an hour early, where she'd wait upstairs in the classoom. Given, in class, she couldn't avoid Ranma as easily as anywhere else, but seeing as personal contact would get them in trouble anyway, she knew that he wouldn't even try to catch her eye.
But today was Sunday. This posed a problem. She knew that she could bathe and eat and leave for school before the sun had even risen, but there'd be no way for her to get inside the building on a day when it was closed and locked down.
Knowing that she couldn't remain where she was forever, knowing that sticking around here would surely cause awkward issues with her family, Akane stepped out of the laundry room and into the hallway, regretting it almost instantly as she went crashing straight into Ranma, the very person she'd been hoping to avoid the most, as he was walking by outside.
"You know, if I didn't know any better, I'd say that you were stalking me, Ranma. . ." She commented, elbowing her way around the anxiety that seemed to be crippling their relationship nowadays.
"Well, if it would make you happy, I'll willingly oblige to the task." Her fiancé responded in such a serious tone that she almost fainted. . . He wasn't joking about that. How very. . . obsessive and creepy. . . of him.
"Ano. . . Iie, that's alright; I think Kuno following me around and Happosai popping out of nowhere is enough for me at the moment." Akane replied, making sure to stress the declination of his offer, "Anyway, hai, I must be going. There's breakfast, and then I've got things to do. . . Hai, hai. . . A lot of things. . ."
She turned to walk in the opposite direction, but Ranma, who seemed to be throwing caution to the wind, grabbed a hold of her lingering hand at the last moment.
The sound of her heart pulsing in her ears almost prevented her from hearing what he had to say.
"Really, Akane, how long is this going to last? Because, for what it's worth, I haven't taken to stalking you like it seems, demo, if it's the only way for us to ever fold a civil conversation with each other, then I'm sad to say that I might just be resorting to that sometime soon. . ."
Akane opened her mouth to argue, but Ranma removed his hand from hers and held it up to stop her. As though inclined to listen to him continue, she didn't leave him there as she easily could've done now that he'd let go of her.
"Look, I'm not trying to say that we have to - to talk about all that's been going on; the last thing I wanna go is force you into all of that before you're ready. . . I though you were before, but I - I guess that I was wrong. . . Anyway, I don't think it's fair that that one topic of discussion can ruin everything else about us. . ." The pigtailed boy took a deep breath and then continued, "See, the point is that I still wanna be able to spend time with you. . . We don't even have to think about all of. . . well. . . everything that's going on; we can find ways to keep busy. . . So, well, I'd really like it if you'd maybe, you know, agree to spend the day with me?"
Among all the anxiety and embarrassment, Akane could tell that he was simply inclined to miss her over the past few days. And, well, she would have thought it strange before, but now that she'd heard his side of the story and now that she was actually thinking about believing him, it seemed almost comprehendible that she'd missed him too; though the whole fiasco of the past three days had been her fault to begin with.
And now he was kindly confronting her about it, and inviting her to do something with him (although what it was going to be, even he didn't know) and promising her that any place, any person, anything in general that reminded her of the very thing she was trying to ignore would surely be avoided. And though, on some level, she knew that being around him in itself was only going to increase the urgency for closure of said problem, she thought that the idea was so sweet that she didn't want to turn him down.
But then, really, could she count on things to get anymore crazy than they already were. . . ?
"Ano. . . Hai, Ranma. . ." She sighed, giving in so easily that she almost thought it was somehow dangerous, "I - I guess that it's fine. . ." Ranma's face lit up into an amazingly grateful smile before she continued, "Demo, I don't want any of that 'aishiteru' and 'my kawaii fiancé' stuff. Onegai, just for now. . ." She explained to him.
"Hai, hai. . . !" Ranma nodded his head vigorously and then, still with a wide grin on his face, he saluted her in a dorky manner and ran past her and twirled mid-jump while on his way downstairs for breakfast. He looked a lot like Tofu-sensei after Kasumi had presented herself to him, "We'll leave after we're done eating!" He decided for himself, and his shout reached her ears.
She should have argued with him over that. After all, what right did he have to dictate when she should be expected to go out. . . ? She should at least have a part in the decision, shouldn't she? But those thoughts had barely breached the surface of her temperamental mind when it hit her. . .
Ranma had just asked her out on a date. And she had agreed.
Well, he'd never actually called it a date. . . and, sometimes, he acted so oblivious around her about things that she wouldn't be surprised if he hadn't realized what it meant when he'd asked her, either.
However, if the evil, conniving baka was aware of what he'd been doing, and he'd intended for it to sound totally innocent when, really, he was planning to make another move on her. . . Well, she was sure to be ready now, wasn't she?
You watch yourself, Ranma; I'll be keeping an eye on you very closely while we're out. . . Akane glowered to herself as she stalked back to her bedroom to drop off her bathing things and then set off determinedly for the main room so that she could get a start on breakfast.
That plan, however, lasted barely twenty minutes after they'd left the dojo and began walking around town. Obviously Ranma's perception had greatly improved, as, even though their 'date' had just started, he'd already caught her staring determinedly at him six times.
"You know, Akane, there's no doubt that I'm so thoroughly attractive but you don't need to keep staring at me like someone's about to rip my face off. . . You know that you can look at it whenever you want to." He told her finally in a very cheeky way, "I'm giving you my permission."
Akane knew that he was just trying to steer clear of the uber-romantic comment that he oh-so wanted to make, and she was both appreciative and aggravated with him for succeeding to do so. It just seemed that every comment he made was either complimentary towards her or insulting, and he couldn't seem to find a moderation between the two, a neutrality.
"Ah, gomen," he said immediately, and Akane almost tripped over herself in her haste to wonder if she'd actually been glaring at him. After all, how else could he have known that she wasn't exactly taking a liking to his humor? "I couldn't help it. Honestly, I thought you'd wanna hear something like that from me at this point. . . Anyway, why were you staring at me like that, really. . . ?" He asked just as they made it through the front entrance to the park.
"Oh, well, it's. . ." Akane fumbled, trying not to sound too suspicious of him. But then, if she spent the whole day making sure that he wasn't trying to pull something on her, she wouldn't be able to enjoy anything, really, would she? And, if nothing else, Ranma was sure to notice that. . . In the end, it just seemed better to clear the air right here and now, "Do you consider this a date?" She noticed that her opening statement was such a blunt question that even she felt it sounded a bit more than accusatory than it should've been, "Iie, I mean, when you came out with asking me to come spend the day with you this morning, did you expect me to agree to it as a date, so that you could try to win me over again. . . ?"
It took a moment for Ranma to answer, and for a moment, she thought that she'd been right. But the sheepish grin that suddenly found its way to her fiancé's face, the way he stared embarrassedly back at her, the hand he moved to the back of his neck, all seemed so. . . unfitting for the confirmation she was looking for.
"Honestly, Akane, I don't know what I expected, demo, it certainly wasn't your approval of the idea of spending the day with me. . . I asked you this morning more out of desperation than anything else. . ." At this, Akane's brow furrowed in anger, in misunderstanding, "Iie, I meant that I was desperate because we hadn't talked in three days, and you kept avoiding me. . . ! After all that I told you about the herb and everything. . . well, I knew you'd want to ignore anything to do with it for awhile so that you could think things through, but I didn't know at the time that it meant you'd be ignoring me entirely, too! I just hoped today, when I asked you out here, I could use the opportunity to help us get past all that. You know how the herb manifests my love for you so strongly that it's at its purest level, right. . . ?"
"I - I thought I said we wouldn't be talking about this today, Ranma. . ." Akane replied, but the look on Ranma's face was so imploringly serious that she felt herself compelled to answer anyway, "Hai, I - I know. . ."
"Well, since you haven't talked to me, or hit me, or even looked at me for so long, in the state I'm in. . . It's been so bad for me over the past few days that I'd almost call is physically mutilating. . . It was actually painful, torturous. . ." The look on his face, Akane finally recognized it now; it was agony. And for once, she understood that it was her fault, and she accepted that responsibility for once.
"G - gomen nasai, Ranma, I - I didn't know. . ." She said, and she turned away from him as her eyes began tearing up. Of course she hadn't known. She was so selfish to be worried only about her own sanity. . . Really, she should have guessed what Ranma was going through. After all, giving up on Tofu-sensei had caused so much grief, so much heartache, of her own at that time, so she should have gotten that. . . ! How could she have missed it so easily? "Gomen. I can't believe that I was so wrong. After what happened between me and Tofu-sensei, I can't believe I couldn't see how you were going through the same thing as me, that time. . . !"
"Er. . . Ano. . . Matte!" Ranma started with a slight flinch, catching on, "Y - You don't have to cry about it, Akane! It's not your fault!" Obviously, he hadn't expected her to actually come to terms with how she was involved with causing his pain. "C - c'mon, Akane, y - you know better than to listen to me complaining! I'm just a - a baka, hentai cross dresser! What do I know, ne?" But this didn't seem to stop her.
"Ah, you're not the baka this time, Ranma, I am! I should have expected you to feel this way after I left you to yourself like I did! I mean, I felt it, too! After Tofu-sensei. . ." She sniffled here, and Ranma flinched again and patted her awkwardly on the shoulder.
"Ack, stop feeling guilty! It's not your fault! Kami-sama, I brought you out here to have a good time, not to make you feel this way!"
"B - but what about what I did to you? I can't ignore it, since I know how it feels, after Tofu-sensei--"
"--You're not helping by talking about him, Akane!" Ranma shouted, finally sounding like a shadow of his older self, if not out of jealousy, "I don't wanna hear anything else to do with your trysts with Tofu-sensei. . ." He mocked the doctor's name in a green way, and this caused Akane's tears to stop falling quite suddenly as her face began glowing red out of anger at the insinuation.
"You are a baka, if you think that anything really was going on between us!" She shouted, advancing so swiftly towards him that their faces were soon barely an inch apart. The romantic notion that might have been visible, however, was ruined by the fact that she looked ready to rip his head off.
"Aa, Akane. . ." And then he was backing away from her and smiling in that 'you've got me hooked' sort of way, and she was again turning red, but not out of anger, or embarrassment this time, "It's good to see that you're finally back to yourself. I was afraid that you'd started to go soft on me. . . And you know how I can't stand a crying girl." Even through the grin, she could tell that he was anxious to move on to their next topic of conversation, so that they didn't end up back-pedaling and making their entire last few minutes of personal discussion useless. "Besides, you need to get it through your thick head. . ." Okay, she was starting to look mighty angry again, ". . . that it's not your job to read my mind. . . And it was just as wrong of me, if not more-so, to put you on the spot like that in such a public place. I was only trying to explain things for your benefit, but I guess that, in the end, I got just a bit too carried away." Her fiancé replied.
Akane allowed one of the smallest of grins to grace her slightly splotchy features as she regained her spot at his side and poked him three times in the cheek, "You are the baka here, the way you act so understanding like this. . . It makes me feel even worse, somehow."
Ranma patted her on the shoulder again with a friendly expression on his face, "Nah, don't worry about it too much. It won't be around for long once the spell's broken. Then I'll probably just go back to being my annoying and dense self. It's a shame, really. I'm gonna miss me when I'm gone." He said, that arrogant smirk from before returning with a vengeance, "Anyway, c'mon, let's go do something for awhile, like maybe go out on the lake, and then we can get some lunch. . . !" He finished, looking almost excited at the idea of food, even though they'd just had breakfast barely an hour ago, and he took a couple of steps towards the dock where they would have the opportunity to rent one of the rowing boats, "You know, before the fiancé horde decides to show up and add to the fun. . ." He rolled his eyes to enlighten her of his sarcasm.
Akane wiped a bit at her face and followed after him, only just barely suppressing her own opinion, that was, that if she hadn't been missing the Ranma she'd always known so much, she might've just been inclined to allow this one to stay, as well.
Throughout the next couple of hours, Akane attempted to enjoy herself with Ranma, all so that he could enjoy himself because, after all, it was obvious that that was what he needed over anything else. And she supposed that this would have to be a heavy but temporary substitution for the absence of any romantic reply she might not be willing to share with him anytime soon.
But why? She knew that he loved her. Or, well, she believed that it was the case. . . Didn't she? Was she still doubting him, after all of the things he'd told her, after everything he'd said? Then again, Ranma had said many things on his own without any spell's effects that would have left her head spinning at other times, rather because she'd have been oh-so willing to bash his head in for his insensitivity, or because he'd so easily been able to take her breath away. . .
Staring at him sitting across from her on the rowboat, steering them gently along the surface of the lake. . . There were no impending disturbances, no prophecies of doom, no disgusting hentai appearing out of nowhere to either glomp her, or to turn Ranma into a girl and glomp him. . . And Ranma still had this small, handsome grin on his face as he stared openly at her, gentlemanly, and even though she could feel herself flushing under his gaze, she couldn't seem to find the courage to look him in the eye anymore.
Perhaps she was growing to like this feeling, this situation, a bit too much. . .
"Unless. . . you do love Ranma and spell is convenient for you?" Shampoo had asked of her, when she'd wondered about telling Ranma that she didn't love him being the only way to get him back to normal.
She had denied that, said it was crazy and impossible and yet, at the same time, felt herself going scarlet then, too, and she had known that she was lying, and she had known that Shampoo had been aware of that fact, as well.
But it really doesn't matter how much I might love the baka, or vice-versa. . . Akane admitted, . . . Because this isn't the way he is. And when he comes back to normal, when I'm forced to top this whole thing off, like I know that I'll have to, we'll both go back to the way things were before, with everyone else coming between us, those. . . interferences. . . We'll be right back where we started. . . No matter how little I might actually agree with that. . . Somehow, the thought of it all was beginning to make her feel queasy.
"Ano, Ranma. . . ? Can we head back? I think that I'm beginning to feel seasick or something."
"Hai. . . !" He replied instantly, and she saw a flash of worry reflected in his eyes as he turned them around. She was barely able to contain her frown.
This isn't the way he is. . . The real Ranma is rude and abrasive and. . . He doesn't know how to treat me, at least, not as a girl. . . When he's returned to himself, what will it be like? Will we actually. . . be together? Will we go back to denying everything? Will I go back to being a. . . kawaikunai, built-like-a-brick tomboy. . . ? This doesn't feel right, anyway, this doesn't feel real or - or something like that. . . I don't think. . .
Their boat touched land and Ranma reached his feet, hopping out and holding out a hand to escort her aboard the docks as well. She accepted it and cautiously returned the small grin he gave her, as though willing herself not to become buried any deeper into the six-foot-deep situation that was becoming quite apparent. But as soon as he'd turned away from her and began to lead her down the pathway and back into town, she felt her heart plummet into her stomach in despair.
. . . I don't know if I believe him, after all.
Notes - Gods, this chapter had absolutely no humour whatsoever, but I think I loved it, probably more than all of the others. . . Well, more than most of them, anyway. The last line was absolutely worth it! Heh, heh! I'm so proud of myself for finally finishing this chapter! Man, I had hoped that this one, or the next would be the last, but I'm really not so sure. I'm thinking that the tenth will be it, though, so look forward to it.
Okay, now, moving on! Uhm, I want to make sure you all know. . . Ranma and Akane's "date" isn't exactly over. I would have continued with it in this chapter, but I figured that it was long enough by now, so I'll finish it up in the next part, and then start up the final confrontation with Ryouga finally finding his way back into Nerima. . . And poor Shampoo, having forgotten about his poor sense of direction and so she ended up following him all the way out to who-know's-where. . . Lol. . .
Anyway, yea! So, anyone who reviews gets my appreciation! It's not much, but, hey! I'm poor! Also, they'll probably get another chapter, since I live off of reviews and comments / compliments are what I feed off of. . . Heh, heh. . .
Until next time!
Oh, wait. . . I think (well, I feel that it's true, but then again, I could be wrong) that Akane was OOC in this chapter, but then, emotions were running pretty high, and I mean, there have been some truly dramatic scenes in the Ranma manga/anime to fit this type of thing to. . . What do you guys think? Was it good enough?