This fic is the reformatted version of Things Can Only Go Up From Here, my second
fic. It used to be, before I posted it on the net, perfectly grammatically formatted.
The problem was, my stone-age computer screwed it up in text only format, so here's
the redone version. I'm sorry for those of you who reviewed TCOGUFH, because on
fanfiction.net they were lost, but I still have them on my email account. Thank
you so much for reviewing, but I just couldn't bear the readers of fanfiction.net
believing I was a grammatically impaired moron.

Ranma 1/2 belongs to Rumiko Takahashi. No duh.

BIG thanks goes out to Alissa, my prereader extrodinare! She's totally fantastic,
but I could always use more. Email me at nakigoe_chan@hotmail.com if you want to,
provide some C&C, and get emails from me containing fanfics and complaints about
my life! Heehee.I forgot to mention last time that I got into UVA writers camp,
so maybe I'll improve. I am very excited, and most of my work may be fanfiction.
Heehee again. Poor teachers.

This fic is for Katie, who is never as depressed as this character and who put
me in her 'senior's will.' This is what she willed to me: A complete set of
Inu-Yasha and Ranma manga ('nuff said), a glaive that doesn't get left at a bus
stop (this is what happens when you dress up at otakon. You leave your
seven-foot Silence Glaive at bus stops), and a pedestrian bridge over the highway
(this shows how sane I am; none of my friends were brave enough to run across the
busy highway, but I was. No, I don't have a death wish). Anyway, Katie, good
luck in college!

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THINGS CAN ONLY GO UP FROM HERE (BUT THERE'S NO GENIE IN THIS BOTTLE)
by: nakigoe-chan
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

I stare blankly at the bottle clasped in my hand. It is only about a
third empty. I know how much more I can drink and still function at school
tomorrow: none.

Though in the end, it doesn't really matter. I never continue drinking
past the point when the alcohol ceases to burn down my throat. That is all I
need - pain to mask the rest of my pain, the pain that has nothing to do with
a physical feeling.

And then, at last, there's no pain at all. Though this feeling won't
last long. It never does.

My pain always comes back...

I don't need to drink the rest to know that the bottom of the bottle
doesn't hold the genie I'm looking for - only the monsters and demons and pain
that I'm trying to escape.

Instead I stare at it, this bottle that exerts so much power over me.
I can crush enemies with a flick of my wrist, but somehow the allure of this
bottle is never something I can overcome. And to think, in all the books I've
read, all the movies I've seen, all the stories I've heard glass is consistently
a symbol of weakness. It is something that shatters from a fall or a toss or
a fist. And even more ironic is the fact that they're right. All this time,
I thought I was so much stronger, when, in fact, I'm so much weaker... I find
this realization infuriating and - this is unexpected - painful. I glare at
the bottle in resentment. [You were supposed to take away my pain,] I think at
it. [But now you've just made it worse.] I crush the bottle with my fist in
defiance. The shards of glass slice my hands, turning the alcohol pink as it
spills over the table. My hands are in no pain from the bloody cuts. I smile
in defiance at the bottle, smug and triumphant once again. I carry arrogance
well; it is an expression I have a lot of practice with. [You cannot cause me
that kind of pain,] I smirk at it.

My smirk wavers again. [Stupid bottle,] I sulk. It doesn't even have to
try at all to make me miserable. Forget the manufacturers - the goddamn haughty
vodka bottle is the one at fault.

Things, I suppose, can only go up from here.

It has been a long time since I have looked back on what I thought or
said and realized how utterly silly it is. I have drank so often, but have
never thought that I was actually *drunk* before. Now I realize that I am most
definitely intoxicated, and probably have been every time. I wonder why I am not
weaving around in sloppy circles. Then, of course, I realize the reason that I'm
not doing that may have something to do with the fact that I am currently sitting
down.

Why do I drink?

I wish *I* knew, so I'm certainly not going to give *you* any kind of
comprehensible answer to that question.

No, really, that's a bald-faced lie.

I know why I do it.

I just don't want to admit that that selfish bitch and what she did
to us - to me - had any influence at all. I don't want to admit that she had
EVER influenced me. But she did. She really, really did.

Mothers generally do.

And we loved her. We were so good to her, so caring, so compassionate.
We were sweet and adoring, we were perfect angels, and Daddy gave her her every
heart's desire.

And the inconsiderate bitch went and died on us.

After that, we fell apart. My family wasn't my family anymore. We
weren't even a family at all anymore, much less mine.

My father (ever the sensible one) tried to bribe her back - with a Hawaii
vacation, of all things. The vacation itself was a tradition we had been upholding
for years, and my mother loved it. She had often declared that those times on the
islands were the happiest of her life. Maybe my father was hoping that he could
find her there. He never had a strong mind, and his grief snapped it like a dry,
dead twig; it sent him off into the constant daydream that she would come back
and happy hula him off into the horizon.

I'm pretty sure my brother went weird after my mother's death to prove
that it wasn't his fault. It obviously wasn't his fault; no matter how
all-powerful he perceived himself as, he couldn't cause a terminal illness.
But he evidently thought that it was punishment for something he had done, and
if he established his innocence then whatever higher power had taken her away
would send her back with a note of apology for the mistake and a complimentary
box of Belgian chocolates.

As if.

But then the sainthood thing became an obsession. Not that he behaved
any better - in fact, he behaved far worse - but he justified to himself everything
he did. He believed himself to be deserving of everything he wanted, and if he
couldn't get it in a straightforward way, then he would use whatever means necessary,
not caring who got trampled along the way. His vision of what everyone else was like
became warped into what he wanted them to be like.

And then Akane Tendou came along.

I didn't see what everyone found so special about her, but evidently all
the boys at Furinkan High did. I didn't go there, so I didn't even see her until
about three weeks after my brother came home one day and announced that a
"raven-haired goddess whose fierce spirit danceth in mine eyes and whose adoration
of mine glorious self doth humble even those heathens that do not acknowledge my
prowess," was now in the Furinkan sophomore class. I think I told him that goddesses
don't generally attend high school. Or I may have told him that if she was as
wonderful as he claimed then she couldn't possibly be foolish enough to be remotely
interested in him. Or I may have told him to talk normally because I had no clue
what the hell he was saying.

But when, after days of listening to him ramble in his own incomprehensible
Shakespearean fashion, I got curious enough to go see her. Spying through some higher
branches of a nearby tree, I determined that a) although she was pretty, I wouldn't
call her a "goddess" as my brother put it - her hair would probably look better short;
and b) as I had predicted, she obviously despised him. Not to mention every other boy
in the school. Oddly, I felt a certain kinship with her; so far above those slobbering
idiots, she would someday find a boy who would captivate her interests, but he was going
to have to be incredible.

And he was. For the both of us.

He had to be - after all, he was the same boy.

And no one was going to deny that Ranma Saotome was incredible. He was like
a tornado - sucking everyone around him into his dance, spiraling them through the
air and then tossing them back; shocked, numb, gasping, and changed for the rest of
their lives. It becomes like a story to tell: 'you got caught in a tornado? Well, I
met Ranma Saotome. Beat that, Hotshot.'

I'm not sure what Akane's reaction was the first time she laid eyes on him, or
even the circumstances that brought their meeting about, but my first encounter is
forever sealed in my memory as one of the most magical and beautiful moments of my life.

I had, in fact, just come from attacking Akane Tendou. All feelings of kinship
aside, she was competition for rhythmic gymnastics wrestling, and I was not about to risk
relinquishing my title of the best ever. It was the skill I had cherished as proof that
my mother's death had taken nothing from me. It was something I was brilliant at.

I had heard, however, rumors that if there was any girl that could replace me as
the queen of the ribbon, ball, and baton, it was Tendou. It seemed that while she hated
him, my brother had at least - as I suspected - bestowed his affections on someone with
worth. The threat she posed was not one easily dismissed.

And so, that night, I sneaked into the Tendou Dojo with the plan to simply make
her unable to pose such a threat. A twisted ankle, a sprained wrist - just something to
deter this threat would be enough. The problem was, it didn't work. I might have been
able to pull it off, but for someone - or something - crashing through the door to that
girl's room and throwing me headlong into the wall, where, for a millisecond, I blacked
out. When I recovered, the surprise intruder was gone, and Akane was distracted yelling
at someone in the hallway - doubtless, it was the person who had unintentionally saved
her from my blow. However, even striking at her while her attention was focused elsewhere
was ineffective; some quick reflexes and a powerful kick sent my hammer flying. I decided
that if the element of surprise was gone, I would have to deal with this situation when she
was again unsuspecting of it. A whirl of black rose petals proclaimed my exit, as Akane
Tendou's complaints about the removal of said petals followed me into the night. Didn't
they have servants for that kind of thing?

Which was when something hard and unyielding - metal, I think - hit me square in the
face. For the second time in a span of about a minute I had a momentary blackout. When my
vision cleared, the colored spots dancing away from my eyes, I found to my horror that I was
tumbling toward the rocky ground headfirst at an alarming pace.

Or was it to my horror?

I could have flipped. I really could have. A simple twist of my body would have
meant a graceful landing on my feet, no injury past that of my pride and a bruise the size
of the immediate Asian continent on my forehead from whatever had hit me.

But I didn't.

I simply stared at the ground rushing toward my face. [Take away my pain,] I willed
to it. [I don't care how.]

But then I remembered. Memories of things long buried, things mocked by the Black
Rose but cherished in the very back of the mind of one Kodachi Kunou, things that even that
malevolent flower facade could not take away from me. I wanted to find that little laughing
girl again; the one that had, I realized in an instant, been buried with my mother - not
buried in a casket, mind you, but hidden away as a shameful secret would be while the owner
willed it to go away until, like a homeless child with a door slammed in the face, it struck
out on its own until it vanished into the storm.

But by then it was too late, the ground was to close.

[At least,] I remember thinking, [I'll get to see Mommy again.]

But suddenly a pair of firm arms wrapped around me and I was flying upwards instead
of downwards. I smiled to myself at the absurd possibility of symbolism. It occurred to me
that it might have been Daddy, but no, he was still in Hawaii. Tatewaki was also ruled out -
at this hour, he was doubtlessly writing terrible poetry to the girl whose room I had just
left. So who was it? I could think of no one who would give a damn if I died.

I opened my eyes.

Had my mother sent an angel to rescue me?

My, where had that thought come from?

But he was so beautiful...

Not beautiful in the normal sense, of course. Usually I went for the elegantly
beautiful types. Refined and sophisticated - you know, the type who knew the difference
between the dinner fork, the salad fork, and the dessert fork, and who preferably had a large
inheritance going for him that I could play with.

But this boy was beautiful all the same. Clear, cerulean eyes framed by wild, silky
black hair stared down at me as he asked me if I was all right.

If I was all right...

Someone cared if I was all right!

Gorgeous *and* sweet! Was this my night or what?

Then, of course, I screwed up.

I always have drugged flowers with me. And while my mind did know on some level that
"all gorgeous men are either gay, obnoxious, or taken," was a cliché and therefore nowhere
near the truth, my mind was not focused on sensible thoughts - it was focused on imagining
how gorgeous the parts of this guy that I *couldn't* see were.

I'm sorry, that was terribly vulgar. But looking back, it probably was what I was
thinking at the time.

But, to my shame and later regret, I offered him a bouquet of drugged roses that
instantly rendered him temporarily paralyzed. What can I say - he happens to be almost
as sexy when he's helpless as he is when he's playing hero. But of course, it was probably
what etched me in his mind as a psycho. I couldn't resist trying to kiss him, but I was
kicked away by Akane Tendou herself. Which led to another question - what was this dream
doing on her roof?

I was to find out the next morning, when he used her - his *fiancée* - as a polite,
though awkward, excuse not to get involved with me. Which, of course, meant that I had to
challenge the Tendou girl for him. Akane didn't even make it to the match, but her replacement
led me to the first defeat of my career as a rhythmic gymnast wrestler. Humiliation crashed
with Despair - I had lost at the only skill I had left, and I would have to give up the boy
of my dreams less than a week after I met him. Lacking any better options, I immediately
switched to the skill my brother had perfected: Denial. Old passion had to be given up?
Just rename it!

But I found out the downside to this technique. The truth always catches up to you,
sooner or later - like it did to me, tonight.

I realized that he loves her. He's always loved her, dammit!

Ranma Saotome loves Akane Tendou.

[Finally facing up to the facts, huh, Kodachi?] an inner voice sneers at me. No, for
the first time, it isn't sneering. It is just sad and resolved. My mother, Ranma, my brother,
my father, and most of all, myself - I am seeing each of these people clearly for the first
time in a long time. I am even seeing Akane Tendou clearer. Who would have thought - all I
needed was an emotional blow and a third of a bottle of Absolute. How charming.

Things, I suppose, can only go up from here.

I look out the window and see the colors of dawn hinting the sky. It is not the struggle
I imagined it would be to get up and walk to the yard - I have need of flowers. Not my black
roses, of course. But after the nth time of being sent out to get dozens of roses for the women
my brother bestows his doubtlessly annoying affections upon, Sasuke planted a garden of his own
behind the mansion - roses of all the colors imaginable, to risk sounding melodramatic once again.
I took some of all colors but black - from wine to pink to violet to yellow to white to a soft
peach color that made me smile through my tears.

I stagger up to my room clutching a rainbow in my arms. Opening the door, I glare
accusingly at the vase of black roses by the large bay window. I remove each of the dark
flowers, laying them beside the vase, and carefully putting the new ones in their place.

When I am done, I carefully pick up my black flowers by the upper stems and turn to
look out the window. Dawn is breaking, the sunbeams crawling over the horizon. It reminds
me of a Tropicana orange juice commercial, and I giggle. Not the full-out, ohohohohoh laugh
cackle that I've perfected to the point of stunning enemies in battle with expressions akin
to those of people undergoing root canal surgery without anesthetic, but a real, genuine,
happy-laugh. Still giggling, I fling the contents of my right hand out my window. No longer
elegant, the flowers flit like dying bats to the garden below.

Things can only go up from here.

No Black Roses will bloom this spring...

--------------------------------------------
Please tell me what you think! I NEED reviews!

Author's babble: I tend to try and get inside the heads of characters that I
don't like, to try and understand them, since generally an unliked character
(to me) is like a talking head with nothing between the ears. Kodachi was
ticking me off with that laugh, so I decided, what the hey, she's even one of
the wierder characters. And you know what? After writing this, I look at her
and think, hey, she's not so bad...scary, ain't it? I actually don't mind
Kodachi anymore. Kodachi fans, please don't kill me for that last sentence.

No, really, I don't know WHERE this one came from. I think I thought it up on
Jamaica while I was there for spring break. I came home to cold, rainy
Washington DC, wrote, like, the first paragraph, and then promptly forgot about
it for a couple months. I stumbled upon it again the weekend that I finished
my exams and thought: I have a desperate need to share my misery with the
world of fanfic readers by writing about Kodachi. Actually, I just needed
to calm down because I was freaking out about my Japanese exam, which was
not fun. I'd place it about on par with having your fingernails pulled out
one by one. Oh, well.

The prolouge of my first loooong fic is coming out this month. I
think. I hope. I have no IDEA what I'm doing. I'm a high school sophomore,
dammit! Well, I guess I'm a junier now, since I have just finished tenth grade.
But still! Ohhh, boy. I'm ranting. I need a good book, a cup of tea, and a
bed. Maybe I'll wake up for UVA. Maybe not. When you're ranting random stuff
to people you don't know in the wee hours of the am, it's hard to sound
optomistic about anything. So now, I suppose, I'll get on to the part that
many of you probably came to this fic to read.

The Lady, or the Tiger?

Oh, jeez.

Well, this fic got mixed reviews. Some thought it was good, some...less so.
People seemed to like my writing style, but not everyone was hippy-hoppy-happy with
the plot.

All right, I admit it.

I was going through a SERIOUS writer's block when I wrote both Lady/Tiger
and when I started the above Kodachi fic. See, I have been playing with the idea
of a fic (the aforementioned prologue is the start) for months. I have, clear as
a bell, clear as seran wrap, clear as Sally Hansen top coat, clear as my sister's
desire to annoy me, a middle of the story. I know EXACTLY how my fic will end.
I just have no beginning. So then, one day, I was feeling frustrated and decided
I had three options:

1) forgo any fanfic writing on my part and settle on forever being an
observer,

2)throw the computer that is obviously jinxing me out the window and
use the school computers forever,

3)write a random short fic, post it to fanfiction.net, and see if it
got slammed. If it didn't, then I would retain hope and continue foraging
onward with the long one.

I didn't like the first option for several reasons. The first reason
is that I love to write, and if I happen to be writing nothing but normal
stories then I have no way to annoy my mother, who seems to be under the
foolish impression that anime is childish, because it is a cartoon. Another
reason is that if I give up working on this fic, I will have nothing to do in
geography class. I would say chemistry, because I am not a science person,
but at my school we spend chemistry class setting cheetos on fire. I swear.
My teacher, this short quite British woman, says we're finding its energy
content. Yeah, right. But in geography all I can due is bug my teacher,
who unlike the subject is totally cool. My school has an anime club, and
she's the sponsor. Hehe.

O-kay, after that bit of digression...

The second option was also out, because I would get in trouble, and I
really don't need the computer's help to get in trouble. I was all for the
third option.

The Neko-ken factor: okay, that's a good point, but not relevant and
not necessarily true. The point is not what happens to Ranma, the point is
what is on the other side of the door. The story is more about Xian Pu's
decision then about Ranma's fate. Also, this is an AU - who's to say Ranma
has been taught the Neko-ken in this existance? This story is that of something
that happened looong ago - there is even the possibility that the Neko-ken has,
in this world, yet to be developed.

I have the utmost faith that Ranma can take a tiger. However, if you
will recall, anyone who opens the door of the tiger has declared themselves
guilty. Sure, Ranma could kick the tiger's butt - but could he then defeat a
whole tribe of Amazons, led by Kho Lhon? That is far more on the grim side
for Ranma.

Like the story, this fic lets the reader decide what came out of the
door, and it's staying that way. I'm sorry to those of you who wanted a
sequel, but the chances are slim to none on that front. This was written to
make you think. The utmost thanks to those who have reviewed my fic, and kudos
to those who have honored the request of telling me what THEY think came out
of the door. So far the lady has the tiger beat, two and sorta a half to two.
Don't like that? So change it!

I think I've just done the longest Authors Notes in the history of
fanfiction. ^_^

ja ne!

~nakigoe-chan