Disclaimer: Aah… You know. I really shouldn't hog all the glory for myself. I mean, everybody did a splendid job; couldn't have done it without them. Thank you, Viz & others, your part in this has not gone unnoticed. And Rumiko Takahashi, now, she's really put in an effort here. I mean, really, marvellous. If you want to thank anyone, thank her.
This one is going to be mainly humorous, with a wee bit of Akane's emotional life on the side.
As the story progresses, I am going to make Ranma more and more out of character. There are, to say the least, many fics out there that wrap things up by making Ranma a little less stubborn and indecisive. Nothing wrong with that, and I have spent countless hours reading them.
But I, in the darkness that is my room at night, have decided to go the other way around. Be prepared for an emotionally blind, overly narcissistic, and hopefully very entertaining Ranma.
On to the story.
Ranma woke up.
It was morning.
He was in midair and headed for the pond.
He looked back just in time to see the wicked face of his father before he crashed down into the cold water. She shot up in an instant and roared:
"Stop doing that!"
"Silence boy! A tongue lash and a cold bath are what you ask for when you sleep in your father's presence! If you want human warmth and comfort, you should go sleep with your fiancée! Now prepare!"
Her father leapt into the air and came down with a hard kick where she had stood. Which was in the pond. Ranma was sitting on the porch, looking with a calculating glare at the surprised panda; trying to decide how to best beat him up quickly so she could go and have breakfast.
Then it dawned on her why her father had expected her to freeze in place.
"Yeah, right! Like I would ever snuggle up with that uncute…!" Mallet. Ranma hit her chin on the edge of the porch, a very unpleasant experience when you have a blunt metal object pushing you down. She whimpered a little and looked up to see the raging infernos that were her fiancée's eyes. She quickly closed her eyes and played dead. It worked with bears.
"Baka…" Akane whispered. She brought the mallet down a few times more and ran into the house.
Ranma sighed. She had made Akane sad again. Still… usually by now she'd be plastered somewhere on the wall. In agony. It was better than most of the times she had annoyed her.
She felt a very large and hairy foot in her side. Growling, she returned her attention to the malign panda, and countered his next attack, sending him flying back into the pond. She went in for breakfast.
Breakfast passed by silently. Nabiki was still smiling contently about the money she had made on the wedding, Nodoka was letting her gaze wander cautiously between Ranma and Akane, and Genma was very concentrated on stealing Ranma's food. There was no conversation.
Ranma and Akane headed off for school. They had left in time, for once, and didn't have to run. Neither said anything for a while, and Ranma thought it was an awkward silence.
He tried to break it.
"So… Back to school again, huh?"
They walked on, both uncertain of what to say.
"You… wanna grab an ice cream or something? After school?"
Akane almost slowed down. Ranma… is trying to be nice?
They walked on in silence.
Eventually they heard a familiar bicycle bell, and looked up to see Shampoo soaring for Ranma.
For once he ducked in time, and Shampoo just continued her arch into the canal, a wild shock on her face.
Perhaps today wouldn't be such a bad day.
But it was. It was a horrible day in school; both were plagued by people who wanted to hear about the wedding; any and every petty little detail about it.
Kuno had attacked Ranma four times before he ended up in the recovery room for the rest of the day. Ukyo hadn't spoken to him, but she seemed to be following him; waiting for the crowd around him to disperse.
Akane was paid even more attention. Kuno had cited three love poems, declared his undying love twice, and arranged, from the recovery room, for a limousine to pick her up after school. When she had refused to get in, she had been attacked by the driver. The Hentai Horde had stalked her vigorously, and some of its members had been caught ditching classes to sit and stare at her through the windows from the opposite roof. Nabiki had sold binoculars.
Nabiki had also made money on the various rumours that circulated.
When school rang out, Ranma and Akane hadn't had a chance to talk all day. Ranma had decided that the rumours would only worsen if they were seen talking over ice cream at the moment, so he made a point of showing the school population that he headed straight home when it ended. Akane was thankful.
She was also furious. The future of their relationship was very uncertain after the wedding, and it did not need the input it was getting from school. Especially with all the perverts being fuelled by Nabiki's meddling. She needed to seek her sister out.
"What's the occasion, Akane?" Nabiki asked. They were sitting in a small café, eating ice cream. "Been a while since you bought me ice cream."
"Mm…" Akane was uncertain of how to begin. But this was Nabiki, and she had always needed to hear things straight out.
"I want you to stop, sis."
Nabiki nodded to herself. She knew her sister had had a rough day, but this was more than Akane just being upset about her creative money making.
"Elaborate." She sucked ice cream through her straw, looking expectantly at her sister.
"Nabiki… stop doing this. I can't even talk to Ranma in school now."
"Ooh? So you want to talk to him, hmm?"
Instead of the defying outburst she had expected, Akane just sat still, eyes fixed on her frozen dish.
"L… look. Promise not to tell anyone?"
Nabiki nodded. This conversation was taking a direction that led away from money. Akane was her sister, after all.
"I… I don't know about Ranma and me… After Jusenkyo…" She trailed of.
When she continued, she was almost whispering. "I think he really loves me, Nabiki. She blushed. A lot.
Nabiki felt a slight sting in the back of her mind.
"What makes you say that?"
"I…" This was getting uncomfortable. "I just do, all right?"
Nabiki looked at her sister. She seemed a little different.
"I think I like him, too." Akane continued.
Another, slightly stronger sting in the back of Nabiki's mind.
"Nabiki…?" Nabiki looked up from her ice cream.
Akane almost whispered: "I think I would have wanted the wedding. Nanniichuan or no."
This time Nabiki was sure of it. Her conscience was acting up.
"Oh…" she mumbled.
Akane's face was a crimson red. "So will you please stop driving us apart? Whenever you get involved and try to make money, he always ends up doing something so stupid I lose control, and mallet him. I don't want to… hurt Ranma, anymore."
Nabiki was feeling guilty. If Akane wanted to get closer to Ranma, then she had been in the way a little too much to shrug it of her conscience.
"Are you sure you want to get closer to him?" she replied, eventually.
Nabiki nodded. "He might not love you, you know."
Akane looked down. "I don't know what to do, sis. I just wish I knew how he feels."
Nabiki entered her room. It was just before dinner, and she hoped she would find what she was looking for before the Saotomes ate her share.
She rummaged around amongst the still unsorted wedding gifts she had confiscated and hid in her closet. She found what she was looking for; an old, withered scroll. She had read it through on the night of the wedding, and considered it something of a curiosity. Now, it might just be what she needed to sort things out. One way or the other.
She placed it on her bed, and went down for dinner.
The rest would be up to Ranma.
Dinner was over. Ranma went up the stairs, and headed for his room. When he came in, he saw Nabiki standing with her back leaned against the wall, waiting for him. A sly smile on her face.
"Ranma-kun!" she exclaimed cheerfully, "A little talk?"
"What do you want, Nabiki?" His expression went cold. He, too, was more than a little upset about her meddling lately.
"What's with the face? I came to apologize, Ranma-kun."
Ranma blinked. That's a first…
"Why, for inviting all of your friends to the wedding, of course. A pity the way it turned out, hmm? And I realise I might just have had my little part in it."
Ranma looked for a moment as if he was going to challenge the terms "friends", "might", and "little", so she pressed on.
"So I have a consolation gift. I believe you may come out of this very thankful to me."
He doubted it. He had no experience of Nabiki ever giving him anything without ending up making money. Usually from him.
"What is it?" He was going to listen very carefully for anything she said that sounded fine print this time.
"What you always search for, Ranma." He felt his pulse fasten. "A new technique." His heart sank. Still…
"I don't know it myself, of course. I'm not a martial artist. However… I have the scroll. Here."
She reached out, and held up an old scroll to him, covered in print. She smiled. Ranma looked at it like it was going to explode.
"It won't bite, you know." Her smile remained. She was enjoying this.
"Are you planning on making money on this?" Ranma asked, staring at the scroll in her hand.
She thought for a moment, and then said: "Not from you."
He sighed, in relief.
"Oh, come on, Ranma-kun. If you feel uncomfortable with the technique, you can just not use it, right?"
He slowly, with great hesitation, reached out and took the scroll. Her smile widened.
She winked, and left his room.
He debated for a moment whether he should call out and ask her more, but decided against it. After all, she was right. If he realised the technique was some kind of trick, he could just leave it. He sat down, and opened the scroll.
He read it through carefully, and read it again. Really now, this was so obviously a trick on her part...
Yet if it was real, then it would be a potent technique. But it would require… He gulped. Then he narrowed his eyes. Why was Nabiki doing this? He would have expected it from his father, but…
He decided to let it wait a little. He hid the scroll under a loose plank in the floor, and headed for a workout in the yard. As he passed the men playing Go, they turned to him and made a toast in sake.
It was later that night. Ranma had re-read the scroll, and he was sure that it was real. The technique was ki-based, and it reminded him of the Hiryu Shöten Ha. It was powerful. And he would be unable to use it.
Thinking anything else would just be downright ridiculous, and just precisely what Nabiki would be hoping for.
He summarised the technique in his head. Like the Hiryu Shöten Ha, it was based on difference in energies. It would send out a giant pressure wave by creating a link between the souls of him and his target. The cold would be substituted with a lack of emotion he would form in his mind, and the heat would be represented by a pure emotion of his heart; whatever he was feeling for his opponent. Since it was all in his mind, it had the benefit that he wouldn't have to let his enemy too close.
However, the technique had three layers. Like the Shi Shi Hoko Dan, the simple version was just the beginning. For the advanced technique, he would need an emotional bond with the target. If the feeling he was concentrating on was opposite to that which he felt for the opponent, then the link would act as a cannon, and shoot his target fast and hard directly away from him. If the emotions were neutral, the link would be useless, except that he would feel their presence, even if they were behind him. If the emotions were similar, the link would act as a vacuum, and suck the target nearer. That, too, could be useful, if he fought someone who preferred to fight long range.
But for the mastered version, the emotions felt would have to be hatred and love.
While he knew several techniques that responded to what he was thinking, and while he could force feelings to a degree, there was just no way he could pretend either hatred or love as strong as the technique required. Firstly, he would have to ignore absolutely everything about his enemy except something that he could really scorn. Secondly, he would need a virtually endless source of love. Something he was prepared to fight for, to protect… something he could never let go of.
He could probably force himself to focus on nothing but a single source of distaste in the opponent for a few seconds. After all, no one was perfect; he could probably find at least one great flaw in any personality. Such as that it was going to attack him.
What he could not do, was force himself to love. The scroll was very clear about that; it had to be sincere. If he tried to feign it, the technique would fail, and he would stand and look stupid while his adversary clobbered him into the ground. And there was no one he loved like that. There were a few people he liked, in one way or another, but when he tried to think about love…
He blinked. He focused his eyes. He stared very forcefully into the wall, thinking intensely.
He would not do that. He would be in really deep trouble if he tried that. Even if it didn't work, just for trying.
And especially if it did.
But the idea wouldn't go away, so he pondered it some more. It would get him into trouble, no doubt. He could think of a few people who would get really, really angry when they found out. Angry enough, in fact, for him to really need the technique.
On the other hand… wouldn't they eventually get that mad with him, anyway? He had to deal with them, sooner or later. The technique would be good to have, then. Especially since they would probably attack together, or at least all at the same time.
He would decide in the morning. Now he needed to sleep.