Till Death Shall Part Us
Edward A. 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 1998 - Edward A. Simons
The skies were gray as a chill wind scattered the drab husks of dead leaves across the perfectly manicured lawn. The gate slid soundlessly open and a lone figure limped forward, hunched against the wind. Finally reaching his destination, he began to speak.
"Umm, hi Ucchan. Your place looks umm...nice."
Actually it looked barren, sterile, and bleak as the weather. There was no way Ranma was going to say that to Ukyou.
"You're looking good, Ucchan." Another lie.
"Umm, Ucchan, I'm not so good at saying this. Me and Akane are finally getting hitched. I know you won't be coming, but I had to tell you. I'm...I'm sorry I couldn't be everything you needed, everything you wanted, but I always tried to be your friend. Hope you aren't too mad things ended up like this."
"After you and Shampoo wrecked that first wedding, I figured out what a mess I'd made of things. If I decided between my fiancées, I'd hurt people I cared about. I knew I needed to get stuff straightened out before I married anybody. But it didn't get any simpler. There were always new fiancées, new rivals, new problems, life kept getting more and more complicated."
He paused but heard nothing but the rising wind.
"I...I know I promised I'd always take care of you. I meant it, I guess I was just too dumb back then to realize how you might have taken it. The way you did take it. Sorry."
The word seemed inadequate no matter how many times he said it.
"As if I didn't have enough troubles with the promises Pops made I had to go making more. Guess Akane had it right all the times she called me an idiot. Still, I figured I could sort things out without hurting anyone."
"And I thought I had lots of time. I didn't realize how fast life was passing, or that...that death was waiting. I should have woken up when Tsubasa got killed by that hit and run driver. He was only twenty. Then it was Cologne. She was three hundred freaking years old, nothing could kill her. Ha, I was so stupid."
"And so I lost them one by one - friends, enemies, fiancées. Almost everyone I knew is gone, facing the one enemy none of us could defeat. It's hard to believe Gosunkugi was the last rival to go. Yeah, who'd have figured that skinny little twerp would outlast all those trained martial artists."
"I'm glad through all those years you stayed my friend. I sure didn't deserve it. I hurt you so many ways. But you were always there to listen, to encourage, to be there for me. The words are so inadequate, but thanks."
Ranma winced as he laid the fresh flowers by the gravestone. He still found it hard to believe she'd been gone three years. He'd made precious few friends in his life and he still missed Ukyou. Ranma didn't hear the figure behind him, but he saw its shadow. He spun rapidly, in spite of the protesting pain of his knee.
"Sorry, Ranma, I didn't mean to disturb you."
"Ryouga, I can't believe you snuck up on me like that."
"Even I got tired of screaming 'Ranma you die!' before attacking."
"Not as tired as I did," smiled Ranma. "Glad you got here before the wedding."
"Hey, with how long it took you guys to get to it, even I could find this place in time."
"Is your wife here?"
"Akari can't make it, Ranma."
"That's too bad. Give me another minute with Ucchan and I'll lead you to the dojo."
Enduring a lifetime with no noticeable sense of direction had helped Ryouga develop patience. He stepped back quietly and waited for Ranma to finish.
Ranma knelt again and whispered. "Sorry, Ucchan. I promised to take care of you, but it was a fight I couldn't win. What good are martial arts against cancer? I felt so stupid and helpless and at the end you were the one that encouraged me. I still miss you. Sorry I could never give you everything you deserved."
He stood again and turned to his rival and friend. "Ok, Ryouga, we better get moving. Looks like it's gonna rain."
"That's great, all I need is Akane to find out I'm P-chan."
"She still doesn't know? Even Azusa figured that out."
Akane had been fussy the entire day. This wedding was going to be perfect. No jealous rivals, no crazed challenges, no exploding food, just a nice simple wedding. Any problems at all and it was going to be 'Hammer Time'
"Kasumi, Kasumi, where's my wedding dress?"
"Right here, Akane," she sighed.
All day long it had been "Kasumi, Kasumi..." and usually the same questions were repeated several times. It was enough to make almost anyone scream. Still, one had to be patient. Akane would never walk again, nor ever bear children.
Ranma paced restlessly. "How long can it take to put on a stupid dress?"
His voice trailed off as Akane entered the chapel. All these years and she still looked great. Ranma realized he'd stopped breathing for a moment. Akane always had that effect on him when she smiled.
"Hey Ryouga, you ready to be the best man."
"I always was the best man, Ranma."
Ranma refrained from replying. It was finally happening. He was getting married to Akane and nothing was going to stop it. He was tempted to use the Saotome Ultimate Technique and flee. He wasn't ready and he knew it. But it was too late now.
"Hey Ranma, you awake in there?"
"Umm, yeah. Sure."
"Right. So who's pushing Akane's wheelchair."
"That's Kasumi's oldest granddaughter, Kuriko. Everybody says she looks just like Kasumi used to. Say, Ryouga, I'm not sure I'm ready for this."
"No one ever is Ranma. You've had seventy years since your last marriage attempt, so shut up and relax. Nothing is going to go wrong."
Ryouga's skill at foretelling the future proved equal to his direction sense.