Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma 1/2.
Author's Notes: I'm back with another heaping helping of fanfiction goodness. That sounded so cool when I thought it up but it's corny to read. Thus I shall keep it to my eternal shame, mortification, and amusement. If that didn't make sense that's okay. Welcome to the conclusion of the Kidnapped Ranma story arc.
To Dumbledork: Adrenaline is a beautiful thing which is what allowed them to shake off the gas. Ranma had been carried off and their lives were in direct danger. There isn't much a person can't do under those circumstance.
Enough with the notes. We're moving right alone now so on with the show!
The New Girl on the Block
Surf and Turf
The scene below was like something out of a martial arts horror movie. Taro was just glad that he wasn't down there when the berserkers clashed. He had done enough to both of the psycho chicks that they would have torn him apart. The mad creature was far from stupid. He understood his limits even in his beast form. Taro circled over the battlefield waiting for the perfect moment to strike. The girl with the headband was familiar but he couldn't place her. The only one thinking rationally and who was healthy was her so she would be the first to fall. Then again it might be better to crush the ones who couldn't fight back first. Decisions, decisions.
"Femboy's mommy sure took a chunk out of my hide. Oh well, I'll get my pound of flesh from these jokers. Shouldn't be too hard. How did the pretty kitty learn the Neko-ken though? Feh, it doesn't matter to me and the pigtailed nuisance is still out cold. Good job doing my work for me!" he would have let out a bellow of triumph but he also knew what happened to villains who let their cards on the table.
The battle down below went heavily into the pyrotechnics making him happier that he was up here and not down there. The strange girl was holding a kunai over her head and was making it glow white. What the hell kind of attack used white ki? All he had seen was the Moko Takabisha and Shi Shi Hokodan. When the cat girl slashed it out of the air he groaned in disgust. An amateur mistake unless you've never seen the Neko-ken before. Then the blast went off and gave Shampoo her own little crater to recline in.
"Yeesh...I'm gone a short while and all the freaky tricks start to crop up. I hope she can't use more than one of those." he mused. As the group gathered around Femboy to wake him up he decided that this was his best time to strike. With a ferocious bellow he flew down at the weakened warriors, scattering them all with a vicious roundhouse punch that sent their bodies flying into walls, through crates, and augering into the harbor walk. He gave a bovine smirk as he found himself standing above Ranma with no one around to save him. Yes, this was good.
Kat was the unfortunate one who was sent like a drill into the ground. She was brutally snapped from her berserker rage by the terrible rain roaring thorugh her body. Her head came up weakly to see what had happened and sucked in a breath. There was Toidi Taro standing over her fiance! She tried to move but all she succeeded in doing was injuring herself more. Her body refused to respond to her wishes.
"Get away from him you jerk!" she shouted at him. Once again hoping against hope that someone would get involved. Why couldn't the Sailor Senshi be real? Why couldn't they be rescued at the last minute by Ultraman or something? This sucked! All the good heroes were in anime. She brought her hands up, channeling her ki into her palms. It was the only thing she could think of. She had heard of the Moko Takabisha, a blast of confidence infused ki, but she wasn't feeling all that confident. Her emotions were descending into a sickly haze as she realized that this was stupid. There was nothing she could do even if she could harness her ki well. Tears streamed down her face as she unintentionally unleashed a Shi Shi Hokodan right into Taro's chest. To add insult to injury, it wasn't even strong enough to scorch the fur before she passed out.
Akane was pissed off at Taro for throwing her through the damn crates. She smelled like fish sausage and it stunk terribly. The violent girl managed to get back to her feet even if she was shaky. Taro was distracted by the bright glow around Kat's hand so she had a few moment's to weigh the possibilites. After seeing those ki attacks in action she knew that Kat didn't have enough built up to do the job but that was okay. The violent girl channeled her ki into the chain subconsciously as she twirled it slowly. She was careful to keep the noise down. As the blast fired she struck out sharply with the chain, catching one of his horns and giving it a sharp tug. A sound like a gunshot echoed across the wharf as his horn was crushed and ripped out, blood flying everywhere as his ear was taken with it.
"What the hell...?" Akane was staring at the bloody wreck on the ground with a queasy feeling. She had meant to rope the cowboy not maim him. An infuriated moo drew her attention back to the situation at hand. The big oaf's fist was cocked back just seconds before he launched forward, intent on knocking her block off. She did a quick turn to the side, sweeping the chain out and catching him around his left leg and burying the sharp horn into his inner thigh, nearly castrating the bully. His startled moo was quickly followed by overwhelming rage as he gave his captured leg a sharp tug. Akane was helpless to stop herself as she was suddenly pulled violently toward what would surely be her doom.
Ukyou was pinned to the wall do to how deeply her body was embedded in it. She looked to the battle and saw what was happening. They were still fighting, not giving up. Well she couldn't let her sisters in arms down as she forcefully pulled her arms loose from the stonework, dust falling down upon her but she didn't care. She picked up the remains of her battle spatula and charged at the beast. As she got closer she reflected on what she was going to do and grinned evilly. She always wondered who shoved the stick up his ass well...guess it was her.
"Try this on for size!" she cried out. As Taro was preparing to finish off Akane, he failed to noticed the chef's appearance, but he did know she was there in a rather big way. Ukyou shoved the handle up his rectum with enough force to kill a lesser being. The sinister chimera let out a high-pitched moo while Akane corrected her flight into a dragon kick right between the legs. The evil minotaur let out a pathetic little shrieking sound before clobbering them both in the side of their heads with both fists. The two girls went soaring off in opposite directions. Ukyou landed beside Kat and Akane flew into the harbor.
Konatsu stared in stunned amazement at the ferocity of the attacks. He had never seen a spatula wielded in such a manner and frankly never hoped to see it again. The male kunoichi was about to cheer in relief before it died a horrible death. The two girls were sent flying. That wasn't a problem in an of itself since he knew both girls could take a lot of punishment. The problem came in when it was clear that Akane was not surfacing under her own power. Who in Nerima didn't know that Akane swam like a brick with lead weights? He managed to pull himself from the wreckage of the boxes he landed in and rushed towards the water. Only his superior reflexes kept him from being mashed into paste by Taro.
"She'll die you heartless bastard! Let me through! I have no wish to fight you!" Konatsu was shouting as he dodged about frantically. The chimera was enraged beyond belief and had grown strong beyond belief. He was trying to get away but couldn't. Everytime he went for the water Taro would jump in front of him. His eyes fell on Ranma's unconscious form. Suddenly he had an idea. If it didn't work well...it was a gamble. A martial artist of Ranma's calibre should be able to respond to any situation especially if he's in danger. He prayed that the girls would forgive him for this but he focused his ki into his legs, and booted Ranma into the water! Taro actually stopped his attack in complete amazement. His inattention cost him his other horn as Konatsu tried to slash him across the eyes but only a quick step back prevented that. Konatsu's prayers went with Ranma as the battle was joined again.
The anchor that Sora had wielded was currently resting on her chest uncomfortably. It was a good thing she was Hibiki or it might have killed her. As it was she was sure her ribs were bruised if not cracked. She pushed the heavy metal thing off of herself and stood up on shaky legs. The anchor was still as inviting as it was when she went at Shampoo with it so she picked it back up. Her gaze swept the battlefield quickly just in time to see Konatsu punt Ranma into the water. Now she would have flipped out in true Hibiki fashion but then she saw a redhead pop up to the surface briefly. Her ears were ringing so bad she could just make out "Akane" and "water" from Konatsu. The one they were trying to save turned pale and dived underwater quickly.
"Can't swim I guess. At least when she gets back she can help us." Sora commented as she vaulted in just in time to bury the anchor in Taro's back. His wings instantly drooped but his backfist was anything but slow. She braced for impact and almost went into the water as well if she hadn't wrapped her legs around his arm. He swung her at Konatsu who linked hands with her. Taro's own momentum swung Konatsu into the side of his head. The genius shinobi had time enough to turn it into a powerful kick to the side of the monster's severely damaged head. The raging beast charged blindly forward and crashed into a wall. His small attackers took the full brunt of the attack since they were between him and the hard surface. He stepped back and watched them fall.
"I-I'm sorry little brother...I guess I won't see ya again after all..." Sora thought weakly as she watched the chimera rear back to stomp.
-Under the harbor-
Cold water is definitely the way to awaken a Saotome aside from food. Ranma was swimming as fast as she could to reach the girl that was only dimly being felt through her ki. Akane could swim about as well as a fish if the fish had weights attached. The last thing she remembered was being in the classroom and Shampoo hitting her with a sleep point. To find herself awake and underwater was not a pleasant thing. She would have yelled at Konatsu for doing it but had to admit that the situation was desperate. He was fighting Taro alone and it looked like everyone else was out for the count. Her lungs strained but she had to continue.
"Hold on ya baka tomboy..." she thought fiercely. She was not going to lose Akane! They were just gaining a friendship and things were looking food. Why did it have to be so screwed up? Why? Why? Why why why why why...? Her mind was screaming in rage creating a whole lot of heat. She began a spiral as she caught sight of Akane. The girl was too far down to be reached in time and it was looking desperate. With the same determination that saw her through Jusendo, Ranma improvised on the spot. She unleashed the heated energy she held within her body into the water and drew on the Soul of Ice. The spiral completed, she mentally called out "Hiryuu Shoten Ha!" and the famous tornado once again responded to it's Mistress' call turning into a waterspout. It shot Akane up from the bottom and right into the redhead's waiting arms.
"Akane! Hang out!" Ranma thought as they were shot out violently from the top of the water spout. She landed on the wharf easily but was still a little dizzy from her trip. A strange sound reached her ears and she looked down the harbor in time to see someone she didn't expect to see there. It was just too unreal. Especially after everything that had happened.
-Mountains in California-
Alexander the Great was proud of his newest student. The Lost Boy was a very quick study. It had been an intense day of training so far and he had already run out of things to teach him. He couldn't tell the Hibiki boy that yet. There was much more he could teach him but not until his honor and soul was cleansed. He wanted that day to come soon for his school's sake but more importanly for Ryoga's sake.
"Good job Ryoga, go wash up." he ordered his student who finished the kata he had been working on. Ryoga bowed to one of the few people who had shown him genuine respect even with what he did. That was humbling for the Lost Boy. He gave the man a quick "Hai sensei" before heading for the lake where he knew Alex was practicing. She always had water on for him to clean up with. Such a considerate girl. Little Alex reminded him of Kasumi actually. As he was on his way to water he suddenly stopped.
"Hey Ryoga, what's up?" Alex asked him cheerfully only to stop at the look of desperation on his face. It wasn't unusual for him to have these spells she noticed but something was definitely off about this. His eyes were flickering from hazel to red. It was a frightening look as even his fangs seemed to elongate. If someone had said he looked like a wild boar she would have agreed wholeheartedly.
"Apologize to Marx-sensei for me. I need to go." he grated out. His mind was full of flames and his target was Taro. He had no idea how he would get there but he would. The Lost Boy had seen his sister about to be stomped on by the maniac minotaur. He picked a direction and ran that way, his desperation giving him insane power. To Alex it appeared as if he had run behind a tree and failed to come out on the other side.
"Be safe Ryoga." the child whispered before running back to camp to tell her father.
Sora and Konatsu watched the foot come down in slow motion. What should have been a rescue mission was turning into a fight for their lives. And they were losing. The insane creature above them was obviously anticipating the damage he was going to cause but it seemed as if it was not to be. A large form slammed into the killer chimera with all the force of a freight train sending his form skidding down the harbor walk. The Hibiki girl looked up to her rescuer but it was Konatsu who said his name.
"Ryoga?" the confused shinobi asked. He looked to Sora who had the biggest smile on her face. There was no time to ponder specifics as Taro came charging back. He used the last of his strength to get the two of them away from what promised to be Armaggedon. The Lost Boy met the charge head on by grabbing the fiendish freak by the head, and using finesse instead of strength, hurled him off to the side. That was definitely a new trick since the old Ryoga couldn't throw Taro around like that. The Hibiki child took stock of all the people down and injured with growing fury. When he didn't see Akane he automatically assumed the worst.
"Shi Shi Hokodan" he said with his hands out. He knows his sensei said not to use it but this was a dire emergency. The fiendish beast had more stamina than him and was stronger. The only thing working on his side right now was surprise. The ball of depression energy roared out and sent the minotaur down field even further. He charged forward, unleashing blow upon punishing blow at full speed to the monster's abdomen. It wasn't the Katchuu Tenshin Amaguriken but it was damn fast. Taro was being held up by the force of the blows alone, he couldn't bring his arms up to block. The shining eyes of his tormentor seemed to sap his will to fight.
"I'm gonna knock ya to the moon ya bastard!" he roared as he brought an uppercut from deep down south right into the thing's jaw. He actually picked Taro up off the ground as a glowing ball of shining blue energy coallesced at the contact point before firing off straight upwards. The monster was tossed high in the air before landing down on the anchor in his back, forcing it in deeper. If he was turned back now it would kill him. Just as Ryoga was advancing a waterspout erupted from off to the left bearing Ranma with Akane in her arms.
"R-Ryoga?" Ranma exclaimed. Her old nemesis gave her a strangely cocky smirk. The pigtailed martial artist was never so happy to see the pig boy before now. She was getting ready to return the smile when she saw Taro rise up behind Ryoga. Ranma was beyond pissed.
"Moko Takabisha!" she launched her signature attack over the Lost Boy's shoulder. The blast so close it singed the white gi he was wearing only to blast the overgrown cow right in the snout. Taro staggered back, trying to recover, only to have Ryoga punch him in the nose and grab the ring sticking out of there. Taro had never questioned why he had a nose ring before but now he was especially when Hibiki ripped it out.
He looked to either side of him as his tormentors were slowly joined by the walking wounded. They were all radiating battle auras even the ones who shouldn't be! This was looking bad for him since he knew that if he stayed they would be dining on him tonight. He let out a loud moo that translated to "Saotome Final Attack! Run Away!" Hey, everyone had used it at least once now it was his moment. He took off running so fast he didn't even realize he had fallen into the harbor but even that didn't stop him. The powerful minotaur immediately began swimming. New York was nice this time of year and didn't have crazed martial artists out for chimera steaks.
Ryoga spat on the ground at the coward's retreat but was inwardly glad. It meant that there was less chance of anyone else being hurt. Since studying with Marx-sensei his attitude had become much more focused. He could still cut loose but now he was weighing his actions. He turned to look at the assembled martial artists. Ranma was openly smiling at him in greeting. Akane was also smiling, she wouldn't be after he told her the truth, so he savored it. Konatsu and Ukyou appeared to be grateful then again they were both slumped over one another. Kat was using Ranma to support her. Her gaze was no longer condemning which was a load off his mind. His eyes went to the last person there. The one he was trying to regain the approval of. If Akane never wanted to see him again he could live with it as long as this person still cared.
Sora was staring at him with tears in her eyes and smile on her face. She hobbled towards him only to start to collapse, but he was there to catch her. His big sister kissed him on the cheek, crying softly. He held her to his chest, crying as well. If there was anything good to come of this whole mess it was that he finally found his sister. The Hibiki girl looked to the others with a small smile. Ukyou noticed Shampoo, awake and trying to crawl away, and used some of the cold water squeezed from Ranchan's shirt to "cat" her. She then picked the indignant feline up by the scruff.
"You're not getting away from us Miss Kitty." she said with a wicked grin. Since they were heading in that direction anyway, the victory party was going to be held at the Nekohanten. Kat was getting ready to go over and give Shampoo a piece of her mind when she slid on the wet harbor ground and went into the water as well. A disgruntled neo-wolf popped to the surface with a grunt of annoyance. It was enough to break the tension and everyone laughed at the sight even as Ranma and Ryoga pulled the wolf out. Kat was mindful not to shake out her coat all over the Lost Boy. Sora had told her the truth about her little brother. Once everyone was at a safe distance she shook her whole body so hard the droplets splashed over everyone but Ryoga. Small miracles.
"Well...think you're up for for a passenger Kat?" Ranma asked. The wolf tilted her head in confusion before Ranma pointed to Ukyou. Both her and Konatsu were so weakened that the only thing keeping them standing was that they were leaning against one another. She would have shrugged but her shoulders were built wrong. The chef settled gingerly on the massive beast's back and held on. The war party left the scene with Ukyou still holding their prisoner close to her chest. The cat girl didn't even dare breath especially considering how big the mount was and what those teeth might do to her.
"Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea..." she thought despairingly as they left the harbor.
The party was in full swing at the Nekohanten. It was a surprisingly energetic one considering that most of the people celebrating were injured in some form or another. Shampoo was forced to watch the celebration from her cage knowing that they were making light of her loss. It wouldn't have been so bad for the cat girl if she didn't have to watch it. She looked to Mousse who had taken it upon himself to make certain she stayed in the cage this time. He had even thoughtfully reinforced it with barbed wire. "How considerate of him," she thought with some heat. It wasn't fair that she had to go back to China while the blind fool was able to live it up here without her around. Damn them all! She would have continued ranting but her heart just wasn't in it. Shampoo would just go down like a warrior with dignity. It was the only thing these bastards left her with.
Cologne looked to her caged granddaughter with a mixture of sadness and perverse pride. Even if she had broken the laws by defying the Matriarch she had shown true ambition. It was the first time she had truly done something on her own and almost succeeded. While it was wrong of her to do what she did, at least she had gone out with a bang. The old crone chuckled softly at that even if her heart was aching. It ached for the child that was now trapped in a cage of her own devising. She looked to the other teens as they laughed happily. Even with the injuries some of them sustained they were still able to smile. Pretty soon though it would be time to end the secrets. She looked to Ryoga, one of her star pupils, and knew he was gathering his courage. Hopefully it wouldn't spoil everything the teens were now trying to work for.
Ranma sat beside Kat with one arm around her shoulders and another shoveling food in his mouth. Between bites he would take notice of the other people around him. They were all together as one group. Laughing, smiling, and generally having a good time. Is this what they had been missing all this time? Rarely did they ever have a common goal or a common foe. If nothing else, Taro should be thanked for bringing them together like this. With the heat of the Fiancee Wars all but over it appeared as if they were gravitating together. Taro just happened to have become the gravity they needed. He looked to the beautiful girl sitting beside him. The warrior who had gone into a battle with Shampoo the first time with the odds stacked against her. Who once again took on Shampoo to save his worthless hide once again. Every time she ran the risk of permanent injury or death. She looked to him with a smile. Without a word he kissed her. Doing something he should have done a long time ago with Akane. He was not going to screw up this time.
The transwolf was talking animatedly with Ukyou, Sora, and Akane as the boys stuffed their faces. It was such a warm feeling knowing that they were now friends or at least firmly on their way. Listening to the girls talk was soothing on so many levels. There was a friendly rivalry brewing between them which was fine by her. To hear Sora tell the tale it was Kat who did everything. The girl with the dual color eyes blushed prettily while denying it was her alone. The other two were reacting with mock indignation to the older girl's pronouncements. If nothing else then these strong bonds would hold them together. According to Akane she was now an official member of the Nerima Wrecking Crew and so was Sora. Her eyes grew a little teary when she felt a pair of warm eyes on her. She turned to look at Ranma and gave him a smile that was only for him when he leaned in and kissed her. Kat was stunned at the PDA but returned it with quiet intensity quickly blocking out the rest of the room.
Akane was laughing at something that Ukyou said when the chef went still. Judging by the glassy eyes whatever she was looking at had caused her to go into shock so she decided to look as well. It was all she could do not to go into shock as well. There was Ranma enthusiastically kissing a girl. Normally this would be time for a cry of pervert but this was his fiancee for crying out loud. Now if they were doing more than kissing that would warrant the mallet. Maybe not. Kat was a friend now and so was Ranma. Did you smash friends flat with mallets? Of course not! Then again you shouldn't smash fiances either. She gave Ukyou a hard pinch on the arm causing her to almost leap out her seat with a yelp. The chef glared at her only to be disarmed by an almost pixish smile. It was fun to tease people she concluded.
Ukyou wanted to be mad at Akane. She really did, but then again she couldn't bring herself to be angry. The chef looked to Konatsu only to see her kunoichi laughing his head off at Ryoga's fierce blush. The crossdressing shinobi looked so happy and alive as opposed to his normal demure exterior. It brought a rush of warmth to her face when she remembered him wearing her uniform. She had worn that same uniform the next day in the belief that maybe it held his scent. Despite all logic it had. A peculiar little scent that reminded her of the shop but also somehow of the teahouse he had fled from. Was what she felt for Ranma merely a crush? Was she that immature that she turned a schoolgirl crush into a war? He was her best friend and she had treated him like crap but despite it all he kept coming back. It gave the chef pause. Once again her eyes went to Konatsu before staring at the table with a fierce blush. He had caught her watching him! It felt nice but mostly she wanted to die. Especially considering the laughter was now at her expense.
Konatsu flashed a mock growl at the other people at the table. It had the effect of taking the heat off of Ukyou and getting everyone to laugh at him. He usually hated being the center of attention but for once it felt so good. The crossdresser had finally realized what he had been missing. It wasn't just love but acceptance. For the longest time he had been on the outside of the chaos. Never helping them out or starting trouble. It felt so good to be acknowledged. Truly this was what he needed. He looked back to Ukyou again surreptitiously, more discreet since he was caught once already. His gaze went back to Ranma who had finally come up for air. Konatsu gave the pigtailed boy a grin and thanked him. When he looked confused, the male kunoichi explained that if Ranma had never shown up at the teahouse then he never would have met everyone. Just like he expected, Ranma waved off his thanks with a laugh and a smile. He was more modest than people gave him credit for. He truly owed Ranma for the friends he had.
Mousse was also looking at Ranma. Half of him was still angry at him but the fear was definitely there. He had seen first hand what the pigtailed boy was capable of when he was pushed. His thoughts turned to Shampoo. The reason he knew his rival's anger so intimately. If he could go back in time and tell his younger self anything it would be to never get involved with Shampoo. His fellow Amazon had used him for the last time. He sat back in his wheelchair; the wheels creaking to remind him of their presence. Mousse looked to Sora. The one who had hurt Shampoo and who had indirectly introduced him to a whole new dimension of pain. The fanged girl was beautiful which only served to emphasize the crime he had almost commited. It wasn't a beauty of face or form, but of the spirit. She was truly more worthy of praise then Shampoo. He went to turn to go back into the kitchen only to find a hand grabbing his wheelchair. Involuntarily he looked to the person holding his chair and faltered. Sora, the one who he didn't deserve to look at, was smiling at him. There was nothing he could do since hurting her was out. He let himself be pulled back to the table.
Sora was far from stupid and more intuitive than most Hibikis. She felt Mousse's guilt ridden gaze on her and her heart went out to him. He had only gone after her because the cat girl had used him. True, he had made his choice, but the Amazon bitch had given him a push. It was because of Shampoo that he had stared death right in the face and it was a redhead with blue eyes. The massacre, one couldn't even call it a battle, replayed in her head with agonizing slowness. She shivered at the memory. Her brother absently put his arm around her shoulders as if knowing she needed comfort. She noticed Mousse trying to leave and quickly snagged his chair. The Chinese boy looked to her shyly. She gave him a reassuring smile and pulled him back to the table. He gave her a scared look. No, not her, her brother. Apparently Akane had whispered to him about what Mousse had tried to do. It took less effort to calm her brother down then usual. Actually Kat wanted to know where Ryoga had been which was a good question. All eyes turned to the true hero of the hour in anticipation of what he had to say.
"Where have I been? I've been in San Franciso, California learning from a new sensei." he told them. The looks on their faces prompted him to continue. He took a drink of the cold tea sitting there and sat it down too close to the edge. It didn't fall which prompted him to nudge it gently back onto the table more.
"Actually I got a chance to meet Kat's father and little sister. I'm currently a student of the Marx school. Oh yeah, they send their best since we all figured I would wander off eventually so they wanted me to give you a message. It was the strangest thing but the meditation exercises and the katas helped me to center myself much better than before. I had just finished a strenuous kata when I saw my sister and Konatsu about to be flattened. I didn't think I just ran as fast as I could and somehow found myself at the harbor. Well the rest is history." he shrugged with a laugh. The laugh was a tad nervous. He didn't need to be a genius to know that this was the perfect chance to fix his honor and help Akane salvage hers.
"You...you're a student of my father's school...?" that for some reason made Kat feel pretty good. If anyone could help the Lost Boy it was her father.
"Yep. Listen...before I chicken out...Akane? Could I speak to you?" he asked nervously. The sound of chopsticks hitting bowls was nigh deafening. Even Cologne fell off her staff. The silence was not even broken by breathing as they waited for the victory feast to turn into a bloodbath. Akane looked to Ryoga and smiled at him.
"Sure thing Ryoga. What do you need?" she asked. Her curiousity was obvious but obviously she wasn't picking up on the vibes. Everyone else was starting to look for the fallout shelter but there was no way to run without being obvious. It was with some fear that they sat there watching the horror movie unfold. Mousse felt even more vulnerable because if his chair tipped he was screwed.
"Could we talk in private?" Ryoga asked, not at all oblivious to the looks beinf exchanged. He knew what to expect. It strangely gave him a sense of peace. He was finally going to do the right thing even if he was killed in the process. He was all set to recieve his punishment. The Lost Boy noticed the relieved looks on everyone's faces at his suggestion. It almost made him laugh, almost.
"Whatever it is can be said in front of our friends, right?" her bright smile was completely guileless but he sort of got the impression she was somehow laughing. It wasn't the normal paranoid feeling he usually got but a different one. Somehow he knew something was going to go very differently then he anticipated. It was as if since seeing his sister his danger some sealed portion of his mind had been unlocked. The unlocked portion was still small but was screaming at him to tread cautiously. He gave a silent apology to the unfortunate people who would soon he caught in the crossfire.
"Well, this is going to come as a shock to you. This is a secret so private that no word of this can leave this room. Ranma has known since the beginning. Don't blame him for this since it was my own idea to continue. I used his honor and abused yours because I was a coward. Well, I am finally going to make things right. Even if you hate me forever at least you will know. I will not ask you to forgive me Akane. What I will ask is for you to not be mad at anyone else but me." he took a few deep breaths. This was much harder than he thought it would be. He looked to Akane. It was do or die time.
"I..." the silence deepened "am..." the tension grew unbearably "P-chan." he concluded quietly. The reactions were varied all around the table. He looked to Ranma and saw amazement before getting a discreet thumbs up. His gaze traveled to Kat who gave him a respectful nod. He looked to Ukyou and was amazed at the slight smile he recieved. Konatsu gave him a small shinobi salute. He looked to his sister and almost melted at the proud smile she wore. When he looked to Akane he saw her head lowered and...
"I know." she said. Those two words destroyed the tension filled stillness. It was simultaneously freeing and terrifying. Ryoga stared in absolute amazement at what she said. The rest of the NWC also stared at the short-haired girl. Even Cologne was rattled by what Akane had just admitted to. If she had known all this time then the damage to her honor would be irreparable. The Lost Boy slumped back in his chair. The clatter of his chair broke the silence and everyone began asking questions at the same time. Nothing could be understood until the sound of Cologne's staff hitting the floor broke them from their arguement.
"Why?" it was clear that there was more to that one word question than just that. It was short and succinct but the ramifications of the answer had everyone waiting with baited breath.
"He is a nice guy. I-It became obvious during the whole incident where Ryoga and P-chan had the same mark on their stomach. I felt stupid for being so blind. Once I saw that I began putting other things together like the bandanna, he would get lost, and Ranma's teasing. I thought everyone was laughing at me but then it occured to me that Ryoga never had anyone stable to rely on. We didn't know he had a sister and she was pretty much absent so he was alone. I wanted to play pound the pervert but I also realized he never once looked at me while changing. If he did see something he would faint dead away. That's why I let it continue. I was waiting for him to get up the courage to tell me himself. To see if he respected me as much as he claimed. The truth is late but at least it came." Akane gave him a smile and Ryoga smiled back, tentatively. No one saw the mallet form in her hand until Ryoga was pasted into the wall. A few seconds later Ranma was in a matching crater beside him.
"They had that one coming." oddly enough it was Kat and Sora who said that.
Kat supported Ranma's weakened form to the front door. The girl was in better shape since her natural ability for taking ki from the planet let her recover so well. Her fiance was in bad shape because of the blasting he took at Akane's mallet. Nerima never ceased to amaze her. She gave her fiance a gentle squeeze. He looked to her with a smile.
"So she knew all along...and made us all look like fools." he commented idly. The smile had not left his face since they left. She knew what he thought was so funny. Akane had known for a long time about Ryoga and let them tap dance around one another. He wanted to be angry at being used but then she punctured it with a turnabout. She had a point. Her honor was the one being abused and kicked around. No one had the courage to tell her the truth. Her honor had come out second best. It made him upset but he was still smiling.
"She had her reasons. Like you had yours for not telling her. It's a good thing she's so forgiving. One smash with a mallet and all is right with the world. No offense Ranchan but if it had been my honor being run through the sewer I would have beaten you to a pulp." she told him causing the boy to go a little more still beside her. She gave his arm a squeeze to let him know it was okay but it did give him food for thought. The two of them stepped in the door.
"Tadaima!" the chorused before looking at each other in surprise and then laughing.
"Okaeri..." filtered in from the living room. The pitch sounded far too weak for either of their liking. Ranma found new strength as the two of them rushed in to see the Saotome matriarch laid out on the couch. She was covered in bandages on her left side but could still move apparently. Ranma's teeth ground together at the sight. Kat echoed the sentiment. It was then that Happosai entered the room bearing a tray with a tea service. Someone followed him into the room causing both youths to pause. Ranma was the one to voice their disbelief.
Author's Notes: Yes, the Ranma is Kidnapped arc is finally concluded! I hope you forgive me for some artistic license. I know Ryoga is not strong enough to hammer on Taro unassisted but I was also taking into all the other damage done to him into consideration. As for Akane knowing about P-chan? It was funny in the series but even I have a hard time suspending disbelief on anyone being that stupid. Besides I figured that the chaos created from her actually knowing would be greater. About Konatsu. He does not see enough use in any of the fanfics I've read save for "Ranma: The Second Time Around". Great fic by the way. I suggest you read it. I'm not really a pro-Akane person if this fic is any indication but I can see how it would work. That is if both fathers were locked up somewhere. Okay, I know that the notes got a little long but thank you for bearing with me. Until next time minna, ja ne!