A Ranma ½ Fanfiction
By Azurite

Started: September 15, 2001

Author's Notes: Here's the deal: It takes place during the end of Manga 38—you know, the famous failed-wedding, lost-chance-for-a-cure tankubon. Rumiko Takahashi's brilliant "finish" to the Ranma saga. Well, I've gone and twisted it into… something very twisty! Matter of fact, you won't be able to recognize it! MUAHAHHA! This is, of course, a Ranma + Akane story, in the long run.

But look for supernatural + drama first!

Argh: This is my second time writing a fic in .html format for I checked out the last one I posted "One Headlight" and it didn't look so good… then again, my browser is weird. So, if there's something wrong with the format here, do tell me. I'm learning!

Disclaimer: Like I own Ranma ½. Feh. giggles madly But this plot is mine. -- So no taking, borrowing, copying, chewing, smoking, snarling… etc. ;; If you want to post it on your site, then just let me know! If you want to yell/flame/shout/chew me out in any size, shape, or form, then instant message me! If you want to hug/congratulate/wonder about/dance around/giggle with me, then feel free to instant message me too! Or email me, if you're non-AIM inclined. Onwards!

'She's… she's smiling…'

It was more than a bit difficult to think of such trivial things as smiling when you're hurtling downwards towards a rocky landscape at over 150 kilometers an hour. But for Ranma Saotome, self-proclaimed martial artist-extraordinaire, smiles were everything.

At least, because the aforementioned 'she' was Ranma's dying fiancée of 18 months.

That's right, dying. She'd gone and done something foolish and uncute again, and Ranma couldn't have stopped her had he tried. Hell, he hadn't even known she was in China! Those blasted Phoenix people had kidnapped her, and the Jusenkyo Guide had helped her get out of the prison Kiima, a particularly vicious winged-woman of the Phoenix people, had put her in. Not until it was too late did Ranma know that Kiima had created a cursed spring in Akane's name—drowning the youngest Tendo girl in it, and then, at the last minute, bringing her out for her Lord Saffron.

Saffron was dead-set on transforming into his adult form, which meant the end of the Cursed Springs for him, Ryoga, Mousse, Shampoo, and Genma. Akane tried to stop Saffron by grabbing the deadly-hot Kinjakan, but only succeeded in draining her body of all its water. Ranma had been on a time limit after that, having to restore the springs to their normal cold-water state in order to save Akane's life.

But he'd been too late. He'd blasted the very head off the Dragon-Phoenix tap that controlled the heat of the Jusenkyo-cursed springs, using a modified version of one of his Amazon-techniques—the Hiryuu Shouten Ha became the Hiryuu Gyouten Ha, to accompany the fact he was on a horizontal battlefield in the air with Saffron, and not a vertical one on the ground.

But it had all been too… damn late…

Ryoga, Mousse, Shampoo and Genma watched in stunned silence. From their position behind a set of craggy rocks, they stared at Ranma Saotome. He was now in his male-form, no closer to being cured than he had been when he first arrived in Nerima. But he was in China now, with a lifeless Akane sprawled out on his lap.

The first thing he'd realized as he came down from his atmospheric battle with Saffron was 'She's… she's smiling.' The doll that had been Akane had a painted smile on her face, weak and barely there. And her eyes… they were closing.

Her body slowly restored itself to its normal size with the cold water of the Dragon tap, but nothing had changed. She was still smiling. Her eyes remained closed. She wasn't breathing

Everything came down to a grinding halt at that moment. His martial arts skills and talents meant nothing if he couldn't get her to breathe again. But he'd never been in school during those times when CPR and rescue breathing was taught. Had no idea how to go about it, and, when he tried, his attempts were futile.

Her body cold, wet, and with only Ranma's discarded red Mandarin shirt covering her… and lifeless. Ranma became like the doll she had been—unable to do anything at all but stare.

He'd tried talking to her. His mind had chided him later for this, asking him what good would it do to talk to a corpse? He'd tried to violently shove that thought away, but it remained, taunting him. He'd failed. She was dead.

Even after desperately calling her name, begging any spirits to bring her back, even after crashing through that one barrier that had always stopped him before—his own emotions—Akane lay still. Cold. The others had approached him with some apprehensiveness—an emotional Ranma was a dangerous Ranma. But he just sat there, holding her in his arms, tears sliding down his face, regardless of all his father's teachings about 'manliness' and such.

His heartfelt cry of, "AKANE, I LOVE YOU!" had only echoed off the rock-faces of Jusendo. The shaken warrior Shampoo, once a mind-servant of Kiima, now doubly shaken. Her 'Airen' was in love with the violent-pervert girl. How could she not have seen it before? Or rather, why hadn't she?

Ryoga was torn between shredding Ranma to bits or trying to comfort him. Now it seemed that Ranma was 'The Lost Boy' with no sense of direction. Yet Ranma didn't need a literal direction, he needed a future. Without Akane, there was no joining of the Saotome and Tendo lines. There was no reason to try getting a cure. There was nothing.

It seemed like days later—but was only hours—that Ranma and the rest of the Cursed Wretches left the Jusenkyo grounds. Rain flooded all of the springs, making them useless for cures. It would be weeks before they would level out again, and even longer before the Guide could make sure the Springs were still the same Springs. After all, the Phoenix and Dragon taps, in addition to the heavy rains, very easily could have tainted each of the Springs and made even stranger cursed pools than those that had existed before.

A covered cart would take them as far as the nearest boat port, where they would have to stay until the weather evened out so they could 'ship off'—in the literal sense. But Ranma seemed to be having difficulty separating himself from Akane's… corpse.

"It's best we leave it here," Mousse said, pushing his thick glasses up the bridge of his nose. "The price for a cold storage fridge would be extreme, trying to bring it back to Japan," he finished. Shampoo frowned at Mousse's callousness. But she herself was guilty of such coldness. She had, after all, ignored the obvious romantic tension and feeling between Akane and Ranma...

"'It!'" Ryoga demanded. If Ranma had become a quiet, lost soul, Ryoga had become an angry, disheartened ticking time bomb. He shoved Mousse violently against the wall of the Guide's home, upsetting the balance of a nearby table and and nearly tipping it over.

It was pure luck that the rain had stopped temporarily-- but storm clouds still hung over the area like a choking gas, and the rains would continue-- heavily, and without care to the cursed wretches. If they didn't leave soon, they would be stuck going back to Japan in their cursed forms- something none of them wanted to do, if they had the choice.

"Apologies, Ryoga. I was referring to Akane." Mousse brushed the Lost Boy off with his slight words, adjusting his glasses again. Ryoga was practically foaming at the mouth, but he held himself back. Ranma, behind Mousse, holding Akane, staring into her pale face. He was cold, as one could tell from his subconscious shivers. But he would not remove the only garment on Akane's frame to warm himself.

"Boy..." The newly-human, now free of Shampoo's mind control Genma approached his son with some fear. He'd never truly been afraid of his son before, but Ranma had never lost anyone so important to him before. There was nothing to be done. Mousse was right. They hadn't the time or the money to transport it -Akane- back to Japan. Soun would no doubt throw a fit, but he'd have to understand... under the circumstances...

"You should put your shirt back on, boy. You'll catch cold." Cold winds were blowing against the house, threatening the great mansion's stability. Placed on the edge of an ancient cliff overlooking the Jusenkyo Valley, the house almosr seemed to totter and sway from the force of what was sure to be an oncoming thunderstorm. The inside of the house was cold too, though dry. Everyone still looked dishelveled from the recent events atop Phoenix Mountain, but no one seemed to care.

"But Akane will get cold," Ranma murmured, his first words to anyone in the past three hours. Ryoga, Mousse and Genma exchanged a glance. Shampoo shook her head. Airen or no, no one deserved to think...

"Ranma. Is dead," Shampoo quietly murmured with her broken Japanese, gesturing to Akane. Ranma turned to her slowly, his eyes filled with fire.

"NO! She's not! She's not..." Ranma chanced to look at Akane's limp, cold, pale form. No longer vibrant, full of emotion or colors. She was just a mass of dull colors, blurring in and out of focus. He barely registered the pressure on his neck before he collapsed onto the floor sideways, unconscious.

"Should stay sleeping for few more hours now," Shampoo told the others after she'd applied the pressure points for sleeping on Ranma. She eyed her 'airen,' who was hardly sleeping fitfully. Only minutes into his forced sleep, he seemed to be having a series of nightmares. He tossed and turned endlessly on the cot the Jusenkyo Guide had provided.

The others had abandoned hope of leaving for Japan that night. The Guide had graciously offered to provide housing for the Cursed Wretches until the next day, when the Guide's friend with the cart would return to take them to port.

Hours later...

Ryoga and Mousse entered the spacious home of the Guide with simultaneous sighs of relief. A glistening of sweat adorned both their brows, which they wiped as they entered from the cold outside.

"We've finished digging..." Ryoga paused. He didn't want to say it. He didn't even want to think it. It was all a bad dream, but... there she was. A lifeless, cold corpse, covered from head to toe in an ornamental blanket.

Akane was dead.

"Good. We put... Young Mistress in grave before Mr. Customer wake up." The Guide motioned to Plum, his daughter. The girl had been offering prayers for Akane's safe passage into the other world, and dressing the older girl in some borrowed robes she had attained via trades with the nearby Amazon village.

Only a week or so ago, this girl had been alive and... well, kicking. Plum had only known her for a short time, and, despite the Phoenix lady's imitation of her, trusted her even after Mr. Customer had teased her and her figure. She'd been very nice, and very brave... if for the few minutes they had met. Poor Mr. Customer was by far, the worse affected by the tragic death of the Young Mistress. At first, he barely talked, but now...

Plum tried to ignore the tossings and turnings of Ranma as she walked past the sleeping boy and into her room. She was to share the room tonight with Shampoo. While Plum trusted Shampoo a bit less than the late Young Mistress, the elder Amazon girl at least, knew Mandarin. She was also cursed, and that made her one of Plum and her father's wards. And finally, Shampoo was a friend of Mr. Customer's. Sort of.

Plum went to her bedroom while the Guide and the other customers -Ryoga, Mousse, and Genma- helped bring the Young Mistress' body out to Jusenkyo, the only place she could possibly be buried. She was the first to die at Jusenkyo that had not died of drowning in a cursed spring.

Or so Plum thought.

In the next part, you find out what "Saisei" really means when it concerns Ranma and Co.!