Changing View Points
Disclaimer: Premise and characters are the property of Rumiko Takahashi, I'm just borrowing them for a bit of non-profit fun.
Author's Notes: This chapter is a bit different, Ryoga's voice in his letter is a lot more formal than his thoughts or speech, but it is a letter and most people get more formal when they're writing as opposed to talking.
A letter arrived at the Tendo Dojo six months after Ranma had left. It was from Ryoga and addressed to all three fiancees.
Akane called Ukyo and Shampoo and they read the letter together.
I never set out to hurt you, any of you. I never, ever planned on falling for Ranma.
He still talks about being honor-bound to marry you, all three of you. And he can only marry one person. Which means he won't marry any of you. Not if it means leaving the other two disgraced.
He's stopped talking about how it would make things easier if I'd just fall out of love with him lately. You're all going to think I'm being selfish, but I'm glad. Maybe I am being selfish in that. I want him, but I also honestly believe I have the best chance of making him happy. Still Ranma is right, it would make things simpler if I'd said we were just friends the first time Ranma got a clue that I more than liked him. But I would have been lying. And simpler doesn't equal better.
The way things were going Ranma was going to get hurt.
The last thing Ranma wants is to dishonor any of you. And with his mother and that damned sword of hers around he can't not think about suicide. It would be a simple way of getting out of the mess his father got him into while keeping everyone's honor intact. But it's not something any of us would want.
Less drastically, Ranma was going to get hurt because his curse isn't just going to go away. Shampoo, you and I both know first hand that our Jusenkyo Curses don't change who we are inside. It's not fair to Ranma to treat him one way when he's a girl and another when he's a boy. And you all do it.
Because Ranma really is a boy and I know it, I had to deal with that up front. I know how it looks when we're together and he's in his natural form. Just like you know how it looks when he's with you and he gets splashed. I had to decide I was okay with that right off because Ranma wasn't about to let me court him without proof that it was HIM that I liked.
You're all still expecting that the curse will just go away someday. It won't. As far as I can tell the Kami just don't want him to get uncursed. While we've been traveling we have been looking for a cure. The closer we get to having one in hand the bigger the disaster. You probably saw reports about the volcano that blew it's top in Korea last month? That was us. Don't worry, after that we decided to stop looking, for a while anyway.
Here's another thing, Ranma would never be happy running a restaurant or even a dojo. Ukyo, if you're honest with yourself you know that's the truth. Akane, you know that as good as Ranma is at the art, he's a lousy instructor. The thing is, the way he was taught would have killed anyone even half as naturally talented as Ranma. And he knows that, he knows he can't teach the way he learned but he doesn't know any other way to learn. Plus he'd much rather be out finding new techniques and getting better himself than being stuck in a dojo teaching other people.
Ranma grew up on the road, traveling and training is the only life he's ever really gotten used to. Even Nerima was just an unusually long break to him. With my directional curse learning to like being on the road is just self-defense. Ranma and I enjoy drifting from place to place, doing odd-jobs and improving our skills. We're both perfectly happy living out of a knapsack.
Here's the thing. At least two of you were never going to marry Ranma. All three of you dealt with that by assuming you were going to be the other one. Cut it out. Stop putting it all on Ranma to protect your honor. Figure out some way out of this mess for yourselves. Ranma's rescued each of you a dozen times over. You owe it to him to help him when he can't see a way to get out with honor intact. What chance did he have when each of you is only looking at your own honor and not the whole picture?
I'm willing to make you guys a deal about this. If Ranma feels anything other than obligation toward any of you after you've straightened out the fiancee mess then I'll give him up. I'll tell him I could be just friends if that's what he really wants. Which for Ranma translates into 'It would be safe to let Ryoga get within a hundred miles of Nerima.' Basically as long as I say I love him, Ranma won't return to Nerima. He doesn't trust me not to end up back due to my directional sense and because of how the three of you acted he thinks he has to protect me from you. Since he doesn't want to fight you that means keep us far away from you.
And I'm happy with the way things are. But I won't stand in Ranma's way if he wants to go back to you for some reason beyond feeling obligated to do so.
To give fair warning, I should tell you that I hope you take a LONG time to sort things out. Like I said earlier, Ranma isn't asking me to be just friends anymore. The longer you take the less likely he is to care. Still some day, I'd like it if Ranma didn't have the various engagements hanging over his head making him miserable, so I'm willing to offer you something in return for dealing with them.
Once again I'm sorry for any pain I've caused,
P.S. Akane, I can't say how sorry I am about P-Chan. I know how I acted was unforgivable. I hope you believe that I never meant for it to get so out of hand. I didn't know how to tell you without making you hate me, so I just let it go on and kept getting in deeper.
I swear on my honor as a Martial Artist that I never did anything to take advantage of you. Even if you can't trust me anymore, you should trust that Ranma wouldn't have allowed that.
After reading the letter the three girls looked at each other for a moment. They each found themselves wondering if the only thing Ranma felt for them was an obligation to fulfill the promises that had been made. They each knew that if they didn't take Ryoga up on his offer that, even if they did end up married to Ranma, it would be a hollow victory because they'd spend the rest of their life wondering if he really loved them or if it was just because he felt he had to.
"So," Akane said after a long silence. "Is there a way out?"
Author's Note: This story has been fun, and the end isn't a completely closed one, but it felt like the time to end it. I hope everyone enjoyed and thanks for sticking with it too the end.