Title: Together -- A Tale of Transformation and Tragedy
Author: Rowan Seven
Teaser: A magic fountain makes one of Nodoka's desires come true in a way she neither desired nor expected.
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ belongs to Viz Communications and Rumiko Takahashi. I am not making any profit off this story.
Author's Notes: - - indicates thoughts. # # indicates signs.
First, I would like to thank the Ryouga Mailing List (sadly now mostly defunct and spam-ridden) and especially Orlean for their comments and criticisms as I wrote this story. Their assistance and encouragement helped me greatly, and "Together" is a better tale because of them. Orlean in particular helped me with insightful feedback and amusing commentary. Secondly, I need to give credit to Kent Hyam. His two stories "Crossed Wires" and "Mixed Signals" served as great inspirations for "Together," and I patterned Nodoka after his depiction of her. All errors, weaknesses, and faults of this tale are my own.
Anyway, I'm sure some of you are wondering why none of the cast physically died at the end. In answer to that, it was simply never my attention to have the characters kill themselves. I partly originally envisioned this story as a dark parody of Ranko and Ryouga pairings with Tomoko and the curse serving both as the reasons for Ranma's out of character behavior and a subtle dig at Ranko and Ryouga pairings in which Ranma is OOC without any explanation. There are some incredible Ranko and Ryouga and even Ranma and Ryouga stories out there that beautifully explore and develop the characters, but there are also quite a number that virtually just throw the two characters together and either have them spontaneously decide to fall in love or interpose a hidden love between them that has existed all along. This story is partially a reaction to these contrived tales. Additionally, Nodoka's "wish" was for Ranko to be happily married to Ryouga and feminine, and Ranko can't do this if she has committed suicide. Instead, Tomoko was true to her word, so to speak, and fulfilled Nodoka's wish in such a way that Ranko is the only one who's truly happy in the end even though she's living a life that's at odds with the very nature of who she used to be and that would horrify Ranma. Still, even though tragedies don't need to end in death to be tragic, I do feel a little bit that by not going to that extreme the ending is somewhat of a cop-out. Hopefully the readers will feel otherwise.
Anyway, everyone who has read this far has my thanks. Constructive feedback would be appreciated, but more than that I hope you all enjoyed this story and that it gave you something to think about. As a treat, below are a few bonus scenes written for entertainment purposes.
Ranma vs. Ryouga –
Apart from this chaos stood two youths on the field behind Furinkan. One was Saotome Ranma, dressed in his traditional red Chinese shirt and blue pants and staring at his opponent with self-assured, nearly arrogant, crystal blue eyes. The other was a determined Hibiki Ryouga who was garbed in his usual traveling garb consisting of his yellow shirt and brown pants with the trademark black on yellow bandanna around his forehead. His red combat umbrella was held tightly in his left hand.
"So you actually made it on time for once, P-chan. I'm impressed," Ranma said with a smirk and his arms crossed in a brazen display of confidence. "What did you do, ask a policeman to lead you here?"
"Shut up Ranma! I'm here, and that's all that matters. Now let's get this battle started!" Ryouga yelled, eager to get going and defeat Ranma once and for all, as he tensed and prepared to spring into action.
"I'm ready whenever you are, P-chan," Ranma stated, uncrossing his arms and assuming a defensive position as he prepared to evade Ryouga's normal opening lunge.
"After you, Ranko," Ryouga snarled back in reply, not letting himself be baited and adjusting his stance to be better prepared for defending. "Ladies first and all that."
Ranma frowned in annoyance and charged at Ryouga with lightning speed. "I am not a lady!" he shouted as the Lost Boy rushed to meet him in the center of the field. The two martial artists never took their eyes off each other as their unavoidable confrontation drew ever nearer, and both seemed to grin in anticipation and eagerness as they at last met and began their epic battle.
"Rock, paper, scissors, shoot!"
Ranma learns a thing or two about Street Fighting –
"Heh, you hit pretty hard for a girl," the young man commented nonchalantly as he rose to his feet in one swift motion. He grinned as he noticed Ranma-chan tense. "Just so you realize what a stupid mistake you made when you decided to interfere, my name is Adon. One day the world will fear it."
"Tough words coming from somebody who seems to enjoy picking on children who can't defend themselves!" Ranma-chan retorted smugly, time spent in her female form having done nothing to curb her self-confidence. "And just so you know what a huge mistake you made when you decided to walk into Nerima, my name is Saotome Ranma and I never lose!"
"Is that so?" Adon said wryly, chuckling. "The competition in these parts must be pretty weak, then. Please, permit me to show you a true challenge." He took a step forward and assumed an offensive stance. "Prepare yourself for a thrashing, little girl."
Ranma-chan casually assumed a defensive posture and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Finally, she got fed up and complained. "What the heck are you waiting for, Adon? Losing your nerve?"
The young, red-haired martial artist looked at her as if she were crazy. "Don't you know anything about street fighting, girl? We can't start our battle until the cue is given."
Ranma-chan blinked and returned Adon's contemptuous gaze with a confused one of her own. "Cue? What are you talking about?"
"ROUND 1, FIGHT!" announced a booming disembodied voice.
"That cue," Adon answered, smirking, as he launched himself at his newest opponent.
Akane's back to normal –
(Contributed by Orlean)
The Lost Boy's voice thickened with emotion and grief as he continued
his tirade to the solemn Ranko. "I hated you with a passion, but I
also envied you! It was my dream to surpass you and prove myself to
Akane, to become the man she loves! No matter how dark and lonely the
world was, I had a dream to fight and live for! Now, because of you,
it's broken! I can't win Akane's love, not without doing something
even worse than pretending to be P-chan and for which I could never
forgive myself..." Ryouga trailed off as he turned to see the source of
a strange purple glow.
"Um, hi Akane, I didn't see you standing back there."
-Scenes of extreme violence deleted to retain PG-13 Rating-
A quite clatter marks the closing of a sliding wooden door. On the floor of the
Dojo lies the crumpled remains of two human bodies. From one of them a female
voice remarks, "Well, looks like Akane's back to normal."
Tomoko's Plan B, or How I Could Have Achieved the Same Results in Three Pages –
The first thing Ryouga noticed as he slowly woke up was that he had a splitting headache that easily rivaled any of the pain he'd experienced during his Bakusai Tenketsu training. The second thing he noticed was that there was a warm, soft female body pressed tightly against his own, and after his mind processed this knowledge he promptly and rather predictably lost consciousness again.
A few minutes later, as the Lost Boy slowly woke up for the second time his senses notified his mind that this wasn't a dream and that there was, indeed, a warm female body pressed tightly against his own. Ryouga's mind, shy and prone to overreaction at the best of times, entered panic mood at this confirmation so quickly that the rest of the body lagged behind, and Ryouga was, for a few surreal moments, completely calm and rational. His much ignored common sense seized this rare opportunity to take control and decided that it would probably be a good idea to find out who he was sharing a bed and personal space with, if for no other reason than to know the identity of the woman who was probably going to try to kill him in the next several minutes.
With great reluctance, Ryouga opened his brown eyes and peered into a pair of blue orbs set in a familiar face that looked as groggy as he felt. "Ranma?" he asked, more puzzled than anything else at the moment.
His rival responded to hearing her name called and seemed to become slightly more alert. "Ryouga? What are...erg, you doing here, and why...does my head feel like it's just gone a dozen rounds with Akane's mallet and lost? Ow."
The Lost Boy was opening his mouth with a retort prepared when the surreality of the situation wore off for both of them. As one, they realized that they were in the same bed, not wearing any clothes, and wrapped up in each other's arms, and as one they simultaneously screamed in terror, let go of each other in disgust, and leapt to opposite sides of the room.
"Ranma, what did you do to me last night?!" Ryouga demanded to know, reaching for a discarded blanket to cover his nether parts with and looking around the room in an effort to find his clothes. He quickly spotted them, or at least what remained of them, and between his clothing's torn state as if it had been impatiently ripped off and the disarray of the rest of the room the young martial artist began to get a very clear idea of just what had happened last night and felt his horror grow. They couldn't have...he would never...WITH Ranma? By all that was holy, what the heck had he been thinking last night?
"What did I do to you? What did YOU do to ME?!" Ranma screamed back, red in the face and handling the situation about as well as Ryouga was, which was to say not well at all. Waking up in girl form was nothing new to her, but waking up as a naked girl in a guy's arms was a nightmare come true, especially as she, like the Lost Boy, took in their surroundings and came to a similar conclusion about what had probably happened. The thought made her sick to her stomach and she reflexively rested her hands there, realizing as she did so that she was still naked. Her lack of attire normally wouldn't have bothered her, but considering the situation she was in she did not want to be naked around her rival right now. She could pummel him into the ground after she'd found some clothes.
Ryouga watched numbly as Ranma dashed through a side-door into what he assumed was the bathroom of this...apartment? Where in the world were they, anyway, and how did they get here? Deciding he could pummel Ranma into the ground after he'd pieced together recent events, the Lost Boy walked back over to the bed and sat down. Now, what was the last thing he remembered? There'd been some sort of celebration at the Tendo's, saké had been served freely, he vaguely remembered getting into a drinking contest with Ranma which would explain this excruciating hangover, and then...the rest of the night was hazy, and what little he could recall he'd rather not because it involved him and Ranma doing- hm, best if he didn't finish that sentence. Now, where were they again?
Looking for clues, the Eternally Lost Boy turned to the wooden commode next to the bed and opened the top drawer. Inside was an English-language magazine with the words "Las Vegas" on the front cover. There was also a slip of paper placed in between two magazine pages, and, feeling a sense of dread overcome him, Ryouga reached down and pulled out the paper, using his language skills to read the document. He didn't get much farther than the words "groom", "bride", and "marriage" before dropping the signed and sealed marriage certificate in shock.
"Gods," he groaned weakly, gazing around the room but not really seeing anything as the weight of the reality he'd woken up to made itself known. "Ranma and I...got drunk, somehow wound up on the other side of the world in Las Vegas, got married, and had sex. Can this morning possibly get any worse?"
It was then that Ranma screamed again, and, acting more on instinct than anything else, Ryouga sprang to his feet and rushed to the bathroom. He saw Ranma standing in front of the bathroom sink, hands held under the running faucet and a look of horror on her face as she gazed at her reflection in the mirror. He was about to ask what was wrong when she turned the cold water faucet and splashed him.
"Bwee!" Ryouga complained with all the vehemence he could muster as a small black piglet. A moment later Ranma splashed him again with hot water, and the now human martial artist wasted no time in grabbing his rival by the neck and lifting her off the floor. "What did you do that for?!" he yelled angrily.
If Ranma was at all bothered by the Lost Boy's ire, she didn't show it and seemed to be lost in a world of her own. "Hot water isn't changing me back to a guy," she spoke morosely and nearly disbelievingly, words halting Ryouga in mid-tirade. "But your curse is still working normally. Why? What could possibly be affecting me that wouldn't be affecting you too after last night?"
They both considered this for a few seconds, neither one expecting an answer but, unbidden, receiving one anyway as the same idea occurred to the two cursed youths. Ryouga blanched and started shaking uncontrollably while Ranma's aura erupted in an explosive wave of anger that even Akane would envy.
"Ryouga," Ranma said with deadly sweetness, "if you got me pregnant I will KILL YOU!"
Ryouga figured that it probably wouldn't be a good idea to inform Ranma right then that if she followed through on that threat she'd be a widow.