Disclaimer: Characters and setting are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, I'm just borrowing them for a little non-profit fun.
Author's Notes: This is an old story that's been sitting on my hard-drive for awhile. I'm editting it and posting it in hopes of getting back into the mood to write Ramna. Basically I'm posting this to try to motivate myself into writing more for "Friends: Old and New".
Each chapter is told from the POV of a different character in the show.
"Saotome Ranma, prepare to die!"
My life is built around that phrase. It's my battle cry, my reason for getting up in the morning. It's why I train, why I travel. That phrase, that goal, has kept me going through unimaginable horrors and all consuming despair.
I have escaped from all type of man and beast determined to eat me, kept on going despite the blackest of depressions, simply for a chance to fight him again. All I do is in the hopes of someday standing triumphant over my rival… Of killing him?
"Saotome Ranma, prepare to die!"
That's what I always say isn't it? If you say something a thousand times does it still have the same meaning? Or, at some point, does it change into a meaningless collection of sounds said by simple habit?
Other people see each other in the street and say: "Hello, how have you been?" I see him and yell: "Saotome Ranma, prepare to die." Is my meaning any different than theirs after all this time?
This time he was on a short training journey in the mountains. As usual I was looking for Nerima, the Tendo Dojo, Akane, Furikan High… him. I found him.
Of course the first thing out of my mouth was "Saotome Ranma, prepare to die!"
And then we fought. Ranma smiles a lot while he fights. He loves showing off and no one can deny his talent for martial arts or the skill a lifetime of nothing but training has given him. Is that why he grins when he sees me? Because I always give him the chance to really show how good he is? Mousse and Kuno never force him to new heights. They're generally unconscious before he can get to the fancy stuff.
The fight is the only reason his face lights up when he hears my challenge. Isn't it?
I didn't have any new moves this time. No special technique he hadn't learned to counter yet. No magical advantage to let me beat him. Just my strength and endurance set against his speed and agility. I'm not slow; he's not weak, not when you compare us to anyone but each other.
He's the only one worth fighting over and over again. For him I travel the world mastering new techniques. Then I come home and for a few glorious moments I dare to believe that I've become better than he is. And then he beats that hope down as he adapts to my new skill and exceeds it. And so I keep trying. I keep learning new and better and more powerful techniques, all in the hopes of someday killing him, that's what I say isn't it?
This time the fight was like a summary of our relationship. We started with the basics and escalated from there. We didn't get far.
The ground exploded into a hail of shrapnel from my touch. My training has made me impervious to this sort of blast. I just stood there as if the hail of rock were a gentle snowfall.
"Kachü Tenshin Amaguriken!"
Ranma had his own way of avoiding injury. His hands moved too fast to be seen as anything but a blur as he plucked the shards of stone from the air.
One chip got past his defenses. Just one. Just a little one. It shouldn't have mattered.
When I discover a new edge I pound him mercilessly into the ground. When he discovers how to overcome it he returns the favor. That is how we fight. We've done it a hundred times before. We've each taken the worst the other can dish out and have always come back for another round.
It was just one hit, it shouldn't have been anything at all. One sharp edged fletchlet, like a primitive arrowhead, that he didn't catch. It sliced through his femoral artery.
Ranma's blood has turned the ground where we fought red. It soaked through the bandages I applied. Direct pressure wasn't enough to stop the bleeding. The wound is too close to his body for an effective tourniquet, besides I saw the look in his eyes when I suggested trying one. Ranma would rather die than risk losing a leg. If I could get him to a hospital it would be okay but we're miles from anywhere and I don't even know which direction I should head toward. I'm probably carrying him further from the help he needs with every step I take.
His eyes flutter then fix determinedly on mine. Ranma's eyes are like the ocean, you can drown in them. "Ryouga, stop."
"I have to get you…"
"We're over a day's walk from town. Even if you didn't get lost in your own backyard you couldn't do anything." I should get mad over the crack about my sense of direction but he's telling me it's not my fault.
He smiles a little. Ranma's grins are infectious. Love him or hate him, no one is indifferent to Saotome Ranma. When he smiles it cuts though every defense and lays your heart open.
"I was just a stupid accident. You didn't mean for this to happen, I know that, we've always been friends." He sighs and his body goes limp in my arms.
"Saotome Ranma, prepare to die."
"You didn't mean it, we've always been friends."
One of us is lying to themselves. I wonder which one of us it is. I wonder which answer would be easier to live with if I don't find a damn hospital.