'By Calm Water'
By Krimzonrayne no Akai Kou Hana and Rayne no Akai Hinageshi.
Chapter One: All things' relative
Disclaimer: I understand now that these things are legally useless… so from now on my story won't have them… but, just for one last time , Ranma ½ and Love Hina are not mine, they belong to Rumiko-sama and that dude Ken… my apparent causal disregard for proper grammar, spelling and sentence structures aren't mine either… they're my dyslexia shining through…
A house is the building or structure in which one lives; home is the place one lives with the pleasant connotations or family ties included.
Akane called out to the slightly demure pig tailed boy who continued trotting ahead as if he hasn't heard her call. She picked up her pace and caught up to him. She tapped him on the shoulder to get his attention.
"Huh?" Ranma muttered, looking at his fiancée in confusion. "What is it Akane?"
"Why didn't you answer, I've been calling you for ages." The girl gave him a small scowl. She wasn't mad or anything, just a little worried that's all… and it's not because she liked him or anything!
"Sorry." The martial artist apologized absentmindedly.
That was weird. Getting Ranma 'Man amongst man' Saotome to apologize is usually like trying to pry opens the jaw of a crocodile, an exercise of futility if there ever was one. The girl hesitated for a second before her concern over road her hesitation.
"Are you okay? I mean, you've been really quiet since we came out of the cinema."
"Well you can't really blame him can you, Akane." A sarcastic comment floated by them. It was Nabiki Tendo, the self-heralded Ice Queen of Furinkan and an annoying big sister to one Akane Tendo.
"I mean his first movie in years and it had to be one like that. Why, even I was almost tempted to complain and ask for my money back."
"Hey, how was I to know Curse of the Golden Flower would turn out to be like that? The poster, the advertisement… everything pointed towards it's being a decent martial arts film." Akane protested.
"Well it wasn't 'a decent martial art film' now, was it?" Nabiki countered sardonically. She wasn't deliberately being mean but that last gruesome scene still weighed heavily on her mind… and she just spent a good three hours watching a whole film of scenes like that too, a good three Sunday's afternoon hours.
"I guess you're right… still, I can't believe they ended it like that…" Akane conceded with a sigh.
"Yeah, especially that last scene, right?"
The bag of popcorn that's been left untouched since the first ten minutes into the film exploded in Ranma's now tightly clenched fist, showering the pavement with slightly buttered, snow white puffs.
"See you guys at home. I, ah, have something I got do." The pig tailed boy mubbled out a hasty goodbye and began hopping away.
"Ranma!" Akane shouted after the boy. Watching him go, she called out softly one more time.
It started so innocently; a month or so has passed since the failed wedding and she'd finally built up enough courage to ask him to go out for a movie. When he'd accident blurted out 'l… like a d…date?' she'd lost her nerved and asked Nabiki to come along as well.
At that point it still wasn't so bad… Ranma was quite excited (it was his first time going to a cinema after all) and he put that little hurdle out of his mind soon enough. He grumbled at bit at not being able to score extra scoops on his ice cream cone because he was in his male form and Akane teased him about that a little.
And instead of getting into a fight like they used to, the pair traded name calling then stared at each other for a while before bursting out laughing.
Things were starting to look up.
She had to yell at Ranma once when the movie was starting, he was making big fuzz about the advertisement… the silly idiot thought they were in the wrong cinema, can you believe it? Thinking back now it was rather funny how child-like her pig tailed fiancée can be at times.
And then the movie began in earnest.
The Curse of the Golden Flower was not a bad film.
Despite what Nabiki and Akane have said, it was not a bad film at all. He supposed it's not like he can really judge or anything… after all, it was the first movie he'd ever watched. And it hasn't been quite what he'd expected at all… sure there was a lot of action and some of those scenes looked really cool but you could never call Curse of the Golden Flower a martial art flick.
No martial art flick has a story like that… He'd seen re-runs of old films on televisions before and he's pretty he knows what a generic kung fu film's plot line is like… a young man fight evil crime lord to save his pretty girl friend… an exiled prince coming back to liberate his kingdom…
No, the Curse of the Golden Flower was not like that at all.
It was a story of a family… a family who let their misguided sense of nobility to destroy the only bond that held them together. Here pride, honor and spirit weren't glorified; no, they were crushed, proven wrong and defaced.
No, the Curse of the Golden Flower was definitely NOT a martial art film.
He liked it.
Well sorta of…
He didn't exactly like it… he wasn't even sure what he thought about it. The scenes, especially that last one, lingered deeply within his mind.
It made him think. Over and over, it made him thing.
Lack of comparison aside, Ranma's pretty sure that this was what good film is supposed to be like.
"Oh my, welcome home." Kasumi chimed in respond as he slipped off his shoes and step into the house. "You're back early, Ranma-kun."
Not quite sure how he should answer that (Really, was that a question or a statement?), the boy walked passed the Tendo girl and head straight into the living room. He spotted the phone on the counter and went over to pick it up.
He quickly dialed a number he'd committed to memory sometime ago and cradled the phone against his ear. The tone rang for a bit before some on the other side picked up.
"Aoyama resident, this is Aoyama Kenjou speaking. How may I help you?"
"Em… can I talk to Tsuruko please?" Ranma said into the handset.
"If you'd hold for a second, I'll go get her for you…" The guy on the other end paused a bit. "By the way, may I ask who's speaking?"
"I'm Ranma, Saotome Ranma."
"Nodoka's son? How are you doing? We haven't heard from you since New Year."
"I'm fine…" If you discount the whole duel to death with a Phoenix God thing that is… or the mess with fiancées… or the gender bending curse… "I've been busy I guess."
"That's good to hear… I'll go get my wife for you now, hold on a sec."
Calls of 'Tsuruko', 'Dear' and 'Honey' could be heard coming faintly from somewhere nearby. The pig tailed martial artist stood tapping his foot impatiently for almost a minute before softly crackling alert told him someone just picked up the phone.
"Ah little Ranma, how do you fare these day?" A deceptively sweet-sounding voice chimed over the phone.
Ranma sweat dropped. Little Ranma? Sure she's almost eight years older than he was but he's eighteen for crying out loud.
"I'm okay I guess. I called 'cause…" That was all he'd gotten out before Tsuruko cut in.
"That's really good, Ranma-han. Tell me, are you married yet? Is that why you've called, to invite us to your wedding?"
The pig tailed boy face faulted.
"NO!" He yelled into the receiver, sweating like crazy as he did so. He groaned and continued in an exasperated tone. "No… I'm only just finishing high school this year Tsuruko."
"Ah that's too bad."
Too bad? Good lord, what's with these Aoyama women and their obsession with marriage? Progeny is important, okay, he understood that but reminding him about it everything time they've met was a bit much wasn't it? First it was just his mum but now Tsuruko is doing it as well; good thing little Motoko-chan isn't like that.
Speaking of Motoko-chan…
"Say… is Motoko-chan there? I'd like to talk to her."
"Oh my… I was not aware the two of you are back on speaking term already. After all, that was an awfully bad fight you two had."
"Fight? …what fight?" The boy asked feeling slightly confused. What is she talking about? The last time he and Motoko-chan had seen each other was when he and Nodoka went to Kyoto for a visit. That was on during New Years… Oh crap.
He suddenly remembered exactly how that visit went… in frighteningly vivid detail…
"…." Ranma scratched the back of his head uncomfortably, this suddenly silence was creeping him out.
"Why did you go all quiet, Tsuruko?" He asked slowly, fearing what kind of answers he might receive.
"My my, I thought you were having one of those long winded flash back and so I did not wish to interrupt you."
Ranma's face painfully made contact with the floor.
"Why would you think that?!?" He yelled into the receiver.
"But Motoko-han does it all the time and in that manner the two of you are exact copies of each other."
'And you are exact copies of Mum, especially in the area of spaziness.' The martial artist mentally commended, all the while shaking his head resignedly as he did so.
Dang it, he's really getting sidetracked here.
"Em…so anyway, can I talk to Motoko-chan?" Ranma repeated the question to Tsuruko once again. 'She can't still be angry… after this long… can she?
He suddenly remembered what happened with Ryoga, Ucchan and Shampoo… and Ryu Kumon… and… and…
Oh crap, she CAN still be holding a grudge against him.
"I am afraid you cannot, Ranma-han. You see, Motoko-han does not reside here. In fact, she has not for many years now."
"Huh? But last what about January? When me and Ma went over…" Ranma drifted off meaningfully.
"Once a blue moon she would join us for a few days, often time it'd be during New Year and other such festivities. Three month previous was one of such rarity."
"So em… where is she staying right now?"
"I believe Motoko-ha is currently living in a female dormitory called Hinata. I shall recite the phone number for you if you wish."
Ranma quickly jotted down the number Tsuruko gave him and bid her farewell before hanging up the phone. He stared at piece of paper with the phone number for a short while, debating whether or not to call Motoko. If he recalled correctly, she's still extremely pissed off at him.
"I guess there's no help for it." The boy grumbled softly to himself before picking up the phone once more. He dialed the number and stood listening to it ring.
"…H-Hello…?" A really shaky voice stuttered out.
"Hi, is this Hinata-sou?"
"Y-Yes, m-may I ask who's speaking?"
"This is Ranma Saotome, could'ya get me Motoko-chan please? I'd like to speak to her."
"I-I don't know any- I-I'm sorry sir, I just moved in yesterday and I don't know the tenants very well. I-I'll go get Naru-sempai!"
Ranma sweat dropped… Did he just make a random girl cry…over the phone?! … How the heck did that happen?!?
There was a sound of flurry of foot steps coming from the phone… as if someone just dropped the thing and was now running away from it.
Ranma pictured the scene in his head and sweat dropped even more… Okay, this is just getting a bit too silly now… even by his standard. He walked over to a nearby chair and sat down, the cord trailing along behind him like a slinky.
"Naru-sempai! Where are you, Naru-sempai?!"
Damn it, why is it taking her so long? How big can this Hinata place be anyway?
Ranma stood up in a huff, the phone almost dropped off his hand. What the heck was that?
Wait a sec… that scream…
"You lecherous vile perverted stalker, how dare you pray on innocent maiden?!?"
That WAS Motoko-chan. But she's pretty darn good with that sword of her, how could some pervert get a drop on her like that? Unless…
An image of a decrepit-looking yet extremely powerful old man appeared in the bubble above Ranma's head.
Happosai? Nah, it can't be… He just punted the old freak to China this morning. Unless…
The image blurred and a second later, where there was one before, was now two.
The pig tailed boy whole body shuddered involuntarily.
"No no no, you got it all wrong, I live here!" A deeper and more masculine voice protested. If our favorite pig tailed hero would listen more closely, he'd realized that the voice sounded exactly like he himself would when he's stammering an excuse for Akane.
But, as we all know, Ranma never pays any attention to stuff like that.
"Spare me your feeble lie! This is an all girls dormitory." A voice which Ranma now recognized as Motoko-chan's roared over the boy's.
"Are you alright sempai… AH!!! I-I'm sorry… I-I m-mean..." That was that stuttering girl from earlier, the one who picked up the phone.
"Hey ya Motoko!" A heavily accented yet feminine voice called out.
"Hey, what's with all the fuzz, I couldn't even concentra… Ah Motoko-chan, you're back from the training camp already? And what are you doing?" Yet another voice had said. From her pitch, the owner was undoubtedly a girl.
"S-Stalker! It's a stalker; he snuck in and peeked at me while I was changing!" Motoko said.
What!!! That bastard peeked at little Motoko-chan?
"Wait Motoko-chan. He's our new manager."
The phone fell from Ranma's nerveless hand and clattered on the floor. His eyes twitched as he tried to refrain himself from over reacting.
"I'm coming Motoko-chan!"
Tried was, of course, the practical word there.
"This is absolutely unacceptable!"
Motoko Aoyama, the seventeen years old master swordswoman of the Shinmei School of Swordsmanship, bellowed at her friends and the single most perverted and vile male. There were currently at the dinner table and are discussing things out reasonably like other civilized human being... well they were but that was before she realized the discussion wasn't about the male manager thing being a joke.
'They cannot be serious!' The kendo girl yelled indignantly in her mind. 'Males cannot be a girls' dormitory's manager! They're good for nothing but despicable, foul demons… they're the corrupters of pure maidens… they beguiled and steal away your beloved sister… they befriend you and left you when you needed them the most…
"Come on now Motoko-chan, there's no need to get so worked up." Naru sempai, the girl with long cascading blond hair and an athletic figure, said placating.
'There no need to get work up?' Motoko repeated mentally, starring at the other girl.
She, Naru Narusegawa, was one year older than she was and although Motoko used to look up her in the past, the swordswoman in exactly happy with her at the moment. How could she! Motoko had thought Naru, of all people, would've known better than to allow this travesty to occur.
"It's outrageous for a young man to reside in a girls' dormitory," Grasping straws, Motoko turned to the new tenant, Shinobu, a young girl who moved in while she was on camp. She turned to the vile stalker who was shuffling about uncomfortably in his seat (Good for him, and if he knows what he got coming… he'd be doing a more than that) and finished her statement. "Especially now that we have such a young resident living here, it's unseemly!"
"…E-Em… if you're worried about me… I-I don't mind if Urashima-sempai stays here…" The incredibly diffident looking girl said softly, fidgeting with her hands.
'Of course you do not, you are far too pure and naïve to understand the true evils the likes of him possesses.' The kendo practitioner thought irritably. But before she can voice it out loud, another had already opened her mouth.
"Me, neither." Mitsune Konno or, as her friend liked to call her, Kitsune added. "He's gonna to be a lawyer or a businessman someday. He won't do anything stupid."
"He's a Todai student!" Kaolla Su, the eccentric foreign girl whom Motoko was quite fond of, chorused cheerfully in that heavily accented Japanese of her.
"Uh-huh!" Kitsune nodded as if what Su just said justified everything.
"How can you vouch for him just because he goes to Tokyo U (Toudai)?" This time Motoko did vocalized her feeling of the matter.
This did not fazed Mitsune 'the Fox' Konno one bit. She smiled pleasantly and answered.
"Well… it's just a feeling."
"Yeah, and he's Keitaro!" Su chimed in once again.
"Uh-huh." Kitsune repeated her nodded with a strange little grin.
"Those are not valid reasons!" Motoko roared in disgust. How could they be so willing to trust a male to a job like this?
"Look if he does do something stupid, we'll just make him pay, how about that?" Kitsune said with a sigh, trying to reason with the kendo practitioner. She turned to the boy and winked playfully at him "Right?"
"If I do something? Excuse me, what exactly do you mean by 'pay'? The pathetic male beside Motoko asked, raising this hand bashfully.
The swordswoman looked back and forth between Kitsune and Su before turning to her only hope, Naru-sempai, the only remaining tenant who's sane enough to really the perversity of this situation.
"Naru-sempai…" Motoko cried. 'Do something', she wanted to add but such words didn't come easily out of her mouth.
Naru-sempai rested her chin against her hands and sighed.
"What choice do we have?" She said in a somber tone. "No one else wants to be our manager. If he doesn't do it then Hinata-sou will be closed down and we'll all have to leave."
That look of resignation… she'd given up? She's letting him stay?
Having lost all her potential supporters, Motoko stumbled back a step. She looked a bit dazed as she muttered. "Preposterous…"
She turned back to Naru-sempai once more but the older girl had looked away, not meeting her eyes. "Well, you did say you'd go along with whatever we decided." She said quietly in lieu of an excuse.
That was the last straw… now Motoko was completely at her wit's end. What could she do? What could she say? She looked from one tenant to another with a feeling of dread and confusion until her eyes finally came to rest upon one Keitaro Urashima, the new MALE manager of the Hinata girls' dormitory.
He, HE, was sitting there looking up at her timidly. His posture was somewhat slouched over… weak and without confident. His aura was nothing out of norm. Suddenly their eyes met and she could feel his hope shining through.
"…?!?" Motoko could feel her cheek redden as she averted her gaze.
'Why am I blushing?' She thought furiously to herself. 'Could it possibly be that I am…"
That line of thought was killed before it could begin to form. With her self-control snapped firmly back into place, the kendo girl spun around and stalked off.
It took Ranma a surprisingly small amount of time (for him anyway) to find out where Hinata-sou. Later on, looking back, he'd probably be amazed with how logical he approached the dilemma and solved it… looking where he knew there were information… calling the operator… getting a map… doing all of those things instead of running around like a chicken with its head chopped off…
It was now an hour or so after the incident with the phone call. He'd calmed down a bit since then but still intended to go see Motoko-chan anyway, if not to save her then to visit her at least.
Event as dense as he's, he still realized he'd overreacted. After all, if he remembered correctly, Motoko-chan has been awarded the complete mastery of her style since she was fifteen… there's no way one lousy pervert can get to her… not even if he's her dorm's manager.
Still… it'd be nice to see her again… even if she's still pissed off at him.
Ranma cringed as he began to remember the incident that occurred when he and Nodoka has visited the Aoyama during New Year.
How could you! How could you abandon me like that!? You're just like the rest of them! I hate you Ranma Saotome! I. Hate. You.
Kanagawa Station, approaching Kanagawa Station! All passengers heading for Gunma Station and Shin (new) Negano Station please change train here.
Ranma shook himself out of his reverie and stood up. All that was in the past now, there's no point in worrying about it any longer.
The train slowed down and came to a stop. The intercom speaker wished the pig tailed boy a good day as he stepped off the train He made his way from the station and stopped at one of the souvenir shop located nearby to ask for direction.
"Hey Aunty, could ya tell me the way's Hinata-sou?" Ranma asked the middle aged woman standing behind the counter.
"It's that's way." She said good-naturedly, pointing down the street. "It's the only building on that mountain, just go that way until you hit the steps and follows those up, you can't miss it."
"That way, the steps and up, gotcha, thanks Aunty!" The young man waved good bye to the nice shop keeper and bounded off in the direction she just gave to him.
Within minutes after he left the souvenirs shop, Ranma was already bounding up the steps, taking a couple each times. He seemed to a lot less tense than earlier as he'd all but forgotten about the movie which made him worried in the first place.
"OUGI: ZAN KUU SEN!!!"
Ranma ears perked up at the scream. 'Ultimate technique: Air Cleaving Sword'? That's one of the Shinmei school secret techniques… that was Motoko-chan?!?!
The young martial artist sprinted to the top of the steps and ran inside the large inn. No more cries of techniques came but he could still hear the explosions that are rocking the old building about.
Following the shouts and cries, he found himself in an outdoor communal both of a sort and he wasn't alone.
"Hey! Could one of you girls tell me what's going on here?" Ranma said to the bunch of girls gathered around the washing area. It looked like they're watching some kind of showdown or something.
One of the two taller girls spun around and opened her mouth to say something. But whatever it was, it mustn't have been important 'cause she just stood there gaping at him. The other one, the one with beady eyes and short, grey hair, instantly brightened upon seeing the pig tailed martial artist. She seemed to slink over to where he was and latched onto him.
"Hey there stud. I'm Mitsune Konno but you can call me Kitsune anytime." She cooed into his ears. "Oh by the way, what's your name?"
Having more or less grown accustomed to such enthusiastic behaviors (You have to be with three official fiancées and one of who's an affectionate Amazon), he wasn't one bit fazed by it and just answered the question normally.
"Ranma Saotome of the Saotome Anything Goes School of Martial Arts." He spouted off his name and school almost reflexively.
The girl with long, light brown haired seemed to have recovered from her stupor. She shook her head as if to clear it before walking over to the two of them and stared at Ranma intently.
"Hey, what are you doing here? You know that this is an all girls' dorm, right?" She asked him.
"Yeah, I know. I'm just here to see Motoko-chan."
"Motoko…chan?!?!" The two girls screamed as one.
Ranma sweat dropped, did he just said something wrong?
"Ah!" Another girl, this one with short dark blue hair, cried out in fright. She seemed to be starring at something on the roof. Ranma followed her gaze and found what caused her to cry out.
Up on the roof was two people, one of them was a girl in red and white hakama (think Kuno-baka-sempai) (1) holding a sword in high guard while the other was a guy in t-shirt and trousers.
The girl was none other than Motoko-chan.
"Em… Can you tell me what's going on here?" He repeated his question, this time a little louder.
"I'm not sure myself; Keitaro said something about a duel… and that if she wins then he won't be a manager anymore…" The long haired girl said.
"B-but M-Motoko-sempai can't f-fight right now! She's has a fever, she should be resting." The blue haired girl stuttered out.
"AH!" Somebody gasped out in surprise causing Ranma to turn his eyes back to the fight.
Then he saw it.
Almost as if the world had slow down, he could see Motoko-chan tipped over and started to fall slowly.
"MOTOKO-CHAN!" Ranma yelled, pushing off the ground with his legs. He shot upwards and intercepted the sword wielding girl just as she was about to fall off the roof. He caught her in a tight hug and cradled and gently to his chest before landing lightly on the roof.
He spun around and glared at the guy who looked like he was about to leap at them, probably to attack Motoko again!
"You bastard! How could you! Fighting a girl is one thing, but forcing a girl to fight while she's in no condition to do so is another!" Ranma barked at the stunned man. He was so angry now that his aura was plainly visible and his ki was rolling off him in malevolent-looking waves.
This seemed to have an effect on the somnolent girl. She slowly creaked her eyes opened and said the first thing she saw in her hazy vision.
(1) Hakama is a thicker and tougher version of yukata (night wear) used all year round by samurai in the old days
(2) Older brother, used to refer to YOUR older brother only… onii-san can be used to refer to a male person who's older than you by a year or two as well as your older brother.
Author's note: Oho ho ho ho hGACK! Cough Cough
Damn it, I'm NOT doing that again.
Anyway, here's another offering from lil ole me, I hope you enjoyed it. I've wanted to write a Love Hina fic for a while now but I never really know where to start… I mean, the series was done with an Epilogue… and because I actually liked the Epilogue, there's not much left to do…
So what did you think, please tell me cause I'd really appreciate it.
p.s. This is gonna set me back a bit on my release for This Sky… I was intending to wait for the big holiday to post volume two of Like Folding Alice anyway…