Standing On The Edge

By Edward Simons

Based on characters and situations created by Takahashi Rumiko Ranma 1/2 and characters copyright Shogakukan, Kitty Animation Circle, and Takahashi Rumiko. This story written 2000 - Edward A. Simons

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In Japan, the legal drinking age is twenty. Of course, this doesn't mean much when you can buy beer from unmonitored vending machines. High above the streets of Nerima a lone unsteady figure wobbled along the steel beams of the uncompleted high-rise.

From a distance, the tall figure could have been mistaken for a boy. From this height, the noises of traffic below blurred together, reminding Ukyou of the roar of the sea she grown up near. She was trying to use that sound to forget, just like she was using the beer.

Ukyou walked slowly, but she wasn't going anywhere, she was just walking. For a moment, she felt dizzy and only her superb reflexes saved her from a multistory plummet. Ukyou hauled herself back onto the beam and began sobbing.

When it hurt too much to cry anymore, she pulled another beer out of the sack she was carrying and chugged it down. Half the liquid spilled down her front instead of her throat, but she didn't care if she looked like a mess anymore. Ukyou crushed the empty can in a swift motion that had become an unwanted reflex and tossed it over her shoulder.

Ukyou winced as it clanged against one of the metal support beams. It reminded her of the sound of her battle spatula striking Ranma's head. She'd learned to hate that sound.

Ironically, this mess had really started when she gave up on Ranma. It was the hardest thing Ukyou had ever done, but she saw the way he looked at Akane. There was something in Ranma's eyes she never saw when he looked at her. Yes, it started when Ukyou's dream shattered, just like her heart.

She'd thought she'd hated Ranma when she devoted ten years to hunting him down for betraying her. That was a candle flame compared to the white-hot rage Ukyou had felt when she saw the way Ranma looked at Akane. Ranma continued on like nothing had changed between them, but Ukyou had felt the rage inside her boiling away.

One day it boiled over. Ranma had bounced into her restaurant with a smile on his face and begun babbling on about his latest date with Akane. Ukyou had given a scream of rage and swung her battle spatula. Ranma never saw it coming and was smashed through the roof of the restaurant.

Ukyou thought that would be the last time she ever saw the jerk, but Ranma came back the very next day. This time it was easier to hit him, easier to channel that rage through her weapon. He came back the next day, too.

She became frustrated and frantic and reached levels of violence that scared her. Ranma kept coming back. It was worse than when Ukyou was harassed by that stalker Tsubasa. Eventually, after months of being smashed by her battle spatula, Tsubasa gave up.

Ranma didn't give up. He never did.

Ukyou began throwing screaming fits, hurling every bit of verbal abuse she could think of at her former friend. All the years of pain and anger and loneliness came pouring out her mouth. She shocked herself again with just how much venom she was capable of and always, always it ended with the metallic clang of her battle spatula against Ranma's skull.

Ukyou had tried to deny what was happening, tried to deny what she was seeing in Ranma's eyes. He kept coming back and in his eyes Ukyou saw the same look she'd seen when he looked at Akane. The look he'd used to give Akane.

Ranma loved Ukyou and it wasn't in spite of the way she was treating him. It was because of the way she was treating him. The day Ukyou realized that was the day Ukyou began drinking.

Genma was the only regular influence Ranma had when he was growing up. And what did Ranma get from his father? Constant verbal abuse, constant denying of his skill and his manhood. That's the only kind of verbal attention he'd gotten from his father.

And physically Ranma had been on the receiving end of every kind of brutality that was ever dignified by the name of martial arts training. Ukyou shuddered imagining what it must have been like to be wrapped in fish sausages and thrown into a pit of starving cats over and over and over again. Blood and fear and pain repeatedly inflicted by someone that was supposed to love him.

It made a twisted kind of sense. Genma was a coward and most cowards were bullies. And Genma had been given over ten years to inflict his bullying ways on the boy.

Ukyou clung to the metal beam and vomited into the darkness below. Her sides ached but the steel felt cold on her cheek and that helped keep her awake. She wiped her mouth clean with the back of her hand, but she couldn't get rid of that taste.

How could any father do that to his child? Yet far too many did. And Ranma had grown up receiving only one kind of attention. In his simple child's way, he'd mistaken that kind of attention for love.

The worse you treated Ranma the more he thought you loved him.

So far, Ukyou had been able to maintain the violence by pretending Ranma was his father, but the hate had drained out of her and it was only a matter of time before Ranma would realize that and drift away into who knew what horrors. Behind the hatred Ukyou still cared about Ranma, maybe she even still loved him, and she couldn't go on this way anymore.

They were both wandering along a narrow path in the darkness where one misstep would lead to destruction. Ukyou's tear-filled eyes couldn't see the future anymore and she couldn't find a way out for either of them. She'd finally won Ranma's heart and it was destroying her.