Disclaimer- I don't own Ranma ½, which is property of Rumiko Takashi and whoever else.

"Hello, operator? I need to place a call.

"I need to find a number... the one I have is... old. Her name's Akane. Akane Ten-... no, it's Saotome now, I almost forgot. Anyway, she lives at the Tendo Dojo in Tokyo, Nerima district, with an... old acquaintance of mine, Ranma Saotome.

"He's her husband.

"Heh... it's funny, actually. They used to always fight all the time. She always used to say how much he made her angry, how much she hated him, how much she despised the way he would pick a fight with me, how much she loathed all the girls hanging off of him.

"I had a thing for her. No... scratch that. I loved her. I still do.

"I really thought she was the one for me, y'know. She was so sweet and kind, and beautiful, not in that stunning way that makes you stop and stare, but a cute, spunky girl-next-door kind of beautiful. I was hoping Ranma didn't see that.

"But he did. I should have known, y'know. From the first time I saw them. Even in the middle of a fight, he was always making sure that she was safe, going out of his way to protect her.

"Oh, yeah. I forgot to mention that. I was always fighting with Ranma. Day or night, at his school, in the mountains, in a park, at Akane's home, it didn't matter to me.

"All that ever mattered back then was hearing Ranma slight Akane even a little bit, and I was after his blood. I blamed him for a lot of things, which I'll admit was pretty stupid, even though nearly all of Nerima did the same.

"Now that I think about it, it's really all my fault for being so stupid and set on vengeance and regaining my honor that I followed that idiot all the way to China and back. He kicked me in the spring himself, or rather, herself, but in the end, I suppose the only person I can really blame for starting all this is me.

"I don't really know what to call Ranma, really. I hated him, first because of all that anger I had in me, then because of how much Akane loved him, and how little he seemed to regard her. But we were friends, I guess, in our own weird way.

"This one time, he got really weak, and I couldn't stand to see him being beaten on by anyone else. I actually stuck my neck out for him, and even went so far as to train with him to make him powerful enough to beat me again.

"Talk about an idiotic masochist, huh? I could have finished him off myself, joined in with the whole bandwagon who was out for Ranma's blood. Instead, I backed him up. And kept doing it. I've even helped him fight an immortal.

"...

"I think, out of all of the people who were fighting Ranma, he thought of me as his closest friend. Sure, we were fighting over Akane a lot of the time, but that somehow made our friendship work. It gave us common ground. Despite myself, I knew I could trust Ranma to take care of Akane.

"After all, he was always better at everything than me. Fighting, finding his way around, getting lunch before me. This should have been no different.

"But I wanted it to be different. I wanted this one time, this one moment of my life to be different. That I would come out on top, and not the invincible, indomitable Ranma Saotome.

"But no matter how many times I tried to look at it a different way, no matter how many times I plotted or helped someone else try to break Ranma and Akane up, I somehow knew I was fighting a losing battle.

"Maybe it was that sad, anguished look Akane got on her face whenever Ranma was ensnared by one of his other fiancees, that kept driving it home for me.

"That guy... I actually feel sorry for him, after all these years. His father, boorish oaf that he was, made Ranma's life really complicated by making all these deals. A seppuku pledge to his mother, and engagements to multiple women that cost several their honor, forcing him into a bind...

"Still, it doesn't make it any easier to forgive him when I remember how hard she struggled not to cry so many times, how many times she would whisper his name in her sleep with a pleading, desperate tone, begging him not to leave her.

"I hated him for that. Every tear that wouldn't fall, I wanted his a quarter of his blood. But I respected him, nonetheless. Back in China, he actually killed an immortal for her. He screamed her name and told her he loved her, as he held her in his arms and cried.

"I knew then that I had lost Akane. I had known it for a while, known it because of all the times she would call out for him, softly in her sleep.

"Don't get me wrong, I'm no pervert. I was... young. I was taking advantage of a unique situation, and it was wrong of me. I took advantage of Ranma's honor. In a way, by doing those two things, I had made void any insult to my own honor Ranma had made.

"And I don't doubt that if I wasn't a Hibiki, I'd probably have been killed by her bone crushing movements in her sleep.

"I wonder how Ranma copes with that, sometimes. Other times, I don't even want to think about it.

"Is it weird, y'think? To, after so many years of ignoring Christmas cards, party invitations, anniversary invitations, birthdays... to call the woman I loved and the man who took her away from me?

"Sometimes, I pretend that the wedding never happened. It was horrible, after all.

"Oh, don't get me wrong. It was a wonderful, beautiful ceremony. But swallowing my pride and accepting defeat, watching Akane, utterly radiant in her wedding gown, marry Ranma was the worst moment of my life. We ruined their first attempt at a wedding, though. Even Shampoo, that crazy Amazon, realized just how furious the two of them were at us.

"They gave me their number. They even tried to get me to promise to at least try to wander in their direction. Ranma too, which was the hardest, most bitter pill to swallow of them all.

"I smiled as best I could, left, and tried as hard as I could not to look back for these past few years.

"It is a bit silly, isn't it? To just call, out of the blue? No warning, after being completely absent for this long?

"But dropping by in person would be too painful, I think. I'm not ready for that just yet. Besides, with my sense of direction, I'd probably take another couple of years to find the place.

"Calling... calling is hard, but I can do it. Not too long, but just long enough to check up on them, to make sure Akane's alright, that Ranma's treating her well... even though I know that's a moot point, since Ranma has proven time and again he'd protect Akane with his life.

"I suppose... I suppose I just want to tell them I'm alright. That I'm getting by. That I'm over it.

"But that's a lie. I'm not really alright. I'm barely surviving each day. And I'm far from over it. The woman I really, really love is with the man she truly loves and I'm stuck with nothing. They got their happy ending, but what about me?

"But hey, that's just the way it goes.

"...

"You know what, this is stupid. I don't think I'm ready to call them, just yet. I'm really sorry for wasting your time, operator. You've been much more than very kind, listening to my problems like this.

"Thanks."