Strange Love

Title: Strange Love REVISED 9/19/01
Part 1: The Unthinkable
A Ranma ½ Fanfiction
By: Azurite [azurite_moon@yahoo.com]
http://www.geocities.com/azurite_moon
http://www.geocities.com/sailor_andromida
Genre: Angst/Romance

*And the people start wondering about Azurite's sanity...*

Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma in any size, shape, or form. I'm a penniless student! However, I do own this plotline, so don't take or borrow without asking first, ne?

Stuff You Should Know: I thought this up one night (September 17th, around 2ish in the morning, to be exact) and thought it would make for an interesting plot. I seem to have a thing for the Nanban mirror... but that's all you're going to find out about this fic without reading it! Hehee... -_-;;

Hm. Out for one day, and I'm already unsatisfied. Don't get me wrong, I had 18 reviews, and that's pretty good for one day on the site. But two of them-- the only two "flame-worthy" reviews, were the ones that really got my attention. One person said that s/he would never read my stuff again, regardless of a rewrite, so oh well. But I was unsatisfied with what I put out, and didn't think about it much until too late. I really want to flesh out this series, and make it long. It has potential, regardless of what others think.

My personal disclaimer is that yes, this fic contains physical abuse. Not the kind you would have in this world, but abuse all the same. My original version didn't portrat things accurately, and I believe that as a writer, and someone who has experience in this area --and no, I'm not a shrink or counselor-- I can write this. I'm changing the style of this fic to fit Akane and Ranma's perspectives, instead of an omnipotent, all-seeing being.

What didn't allow this fic to work the first time around was my rushiness. In the real world, time can be felt and sensed, but not forced. It's a gravity that we have no control over. Things are going to progress in them as I see fit. ^^; Writer's control.

About the Ranma/Akane thing: I never said that people DESERVE to be hit. I don't believe such a... it doesn't even have a name. I just don't believe that-- not even in slapstick humor, where people wield large mallets and can can thrown into the nexy city over. Abuse is a very scary and cruel thing. Some people have no control over what they do to others, and other people willingly hurt others, in a sadistic and inhumane way. Even dealing with Ranma and Akane, Ranma doesn't always get hit by Akane with reason-- that's one of her faults, jumping to conclusions. But likewise, she doesn't always "deserve" to get teased. Even if Akane is a fictional character, I can relate to her. I hate it when people make fun of me, insult my integrity, and my honor. They mean a lot to me as a person, and having your self-esteem or ego crushed is not fun. It damages who you are. Worse, past events -ones that don't get covered in manga and anime, due to their realism- like death don't get covered. They make up a big portion of someone's lifestyle and personality. So authors CAN take liberties with characters, because they each see a certain person from a different point of view-- based on their own, real-life experiences, and their perspectives on the history of the character.

I know I'm turning this into a rant, but I just had to get that off my chest. I'm not a hypocrite. I respect any and all authors-- even lemon writers, and those that kill off every character. People have their own reasons for writing the way they do, with the context and material they do. Fanfictions exist to throw out of whack the existing plotlines, or to finish what was left... "unfinished". I am all for creativity and originality, but it is MY preference and opinion that it's trashing an author's work to screw up couples when there is obvious evidence to the contrary. But, likewise, where would be so many great fics without those "other possibilities"? So I'm looking at these issues from both sides-- not bashing any one.

I'm done-- you can judge for yourself now. What follows is my revised fanfiction, "Strange Love". If you would like a copy of the original SL, email me. I won't post it anymore.

KEY
Thoughts
Emphasis
"Spoken"
*Setting*

I should explain things. My name is... well, you all know me, anyways. I'm Akane. But wait! Not the Akane you know. I'm Akane Saotome, married to Ranma Saotome for almost 18 months now. But he's not the Ranma you know. He never was.

It all started that fateful day. You know which day I mean-- the one where we were all going about our business, and then Dad just drops the bomb on us. His best friend and former training partner is coming to stay with us-- and his son, too. But Dad's never met the son. Nabiki is excited-- she wants to know if he's cute.

If you've known Nabiki long enough, 'cute' is code for 'gullible'. I love my sister, but after Mom died, she didn't have much of a purpose to fall back on. She'd never been one for the Art, so she filled her whole life with financial affairs. Her excuses for her "money-grubbing" as the better half of my high-school called it, was that without Dad teaching classes, we needed the money. We were too young to get legal jobs, so her system of placing bets at school events was the next best thing.

I should let Nabiki talk about herself. Not to be egotistical or anything, but this is about me.

So Dad tells us these guys are coming-- all the way from China. Can you hear my sarcasm here? Not impressed. At least, that's not how I came off to most people. I'd been stuck in the same ward all my life. I'd never left Nerima. I'd never gone to any of the other wards in Tokyo. Actually, the one, count it, one time I left Nerima was just after Mom's funeral, when I was six.

The family went to Ryugenzawa-- but you know that story too.

So I was stuck here in Nerima, inevitably for years to come. I was torn between wanting to stay, where the small bits of my good memories-- times with Mom, when everyone was a family, and we did things together-- were here. Elsewhere, I tried to convince myself, I'd be alone. Vulnerable. And Akane Tendo-- as I'd been at the time-- would never be vulnerable. It's not like I'd promised my mother on her deathbed that I would be strong.

Fact is, I never saw my mom when she died. Of all times and places I could have been, I was with my friends. We were playing Jan-ken-pon over who got to use the Nintendo next when Yuka's mother came out, pale and trembling.

"Akane," she called to me, "Please come inside."

I looked to my friends in bewilderment, thinking I was in trouble or something. But Yuka's mom had checked the answering machine. I heard the last bits of the message playing as I went inside-- it sounded like Father, screaming. Not the angry kind of scream, but a scared, hurt scream. I look back and recognize it as that, but back then, I didn't know who or what it was. I thought it was some prank that Yuka and her mom had set up to scare me with.

Yuka's mom sat me down, next to Yuka. Predictably, my other friend, Sayuri, was asked to go upstairs. She glued herself to the Nintendo for the hour it took for things to be explained to me. Mother was dead, Yuka's mom said.

She'd been in an accident. Fell from a cliff. Wasn't... wasn't supposed to be in that area. Was supposed to be more careful than that. Now she was dead.

"You're... you're joking me, right?"

When Yuka's mom had said that my mother had been in an accident, I remembered my mom that morning. She was excited about something. She was meeting with an old friend from high school that afternoon. I had left for Yuka's just before she was due to leave. I waved to her from the street as I left, forgetting to say 'I love you'.

I look back on that now, and it stings. I feel like I could have done something. Even having said, 'Mom, I love you' would have been something. I remember these moments sporadically, and people wonder why I'm all-of-a-sudden depressed.

I burst into tears. Yuka was there for me, but as a shoulder only. Yuka's mother asked me if I wanted to go home, or stay here a while. Go home, I said, immediately. As if I would stay. No... it couldn't be true. It just COULDN'T.

Yuka's mother called Dad to let him know, but he was still hysterical. I'm not sure who it was-- maybe a police officer, maybe Kasumi or Nabiki. Someone who obviously was calm in the face of what had just happened explained the details again. Yes, I was needed at home. Come now. That was all.

When I got home, I'd never seen so many policemen. Father was in the center of it all, explaining things as calmly as he could-- he was still in hysterics. To this day, he still has those hysterics when things get bad. I don't think he wants to lose anyone else important to him. Maybe crying isn't manly or honorable or whatnot, but when your very life is ripped out from under you, you don't have much semblance of how you look to others left.

So I acted as the statue for Father. You would have thought it would be Kasumi or Nabiki, being the silent, all-observing, calm girls they are. But they were just as hysterical as father. The loss of their mother at so young-- and I was no exception, being only 6, traumatized them. Kasumi was, from that very day, responsible for being the mother figure. Father refused to let her drop out of school, despite her protests. He fed the same excuse to Nabiki, who also begged to get out of school. We had to get our education. Had to be smart and savvy when we were older, so we could take over the dojo, like Mother had wished.

Mother hadn't really wished. She was adept in the Art, I'll give her that, but having three children kind of puts strings on your abilities to practice anything. She seemed to be more interested in music than anything else. In fact, she got all of us involved in playing... but that's for later on.

From that day forward, the Tendos changed.

Kasumi juggled being the mother of us all, even between school. It was most stressful for her before high school entrance exams, because I had gotten sick with the chicken pox, and Nabiki was cutting classes for who-knows-what reason. She was almost suicidal. Counseling had put her back on the right track, and she's been steady since then.

But me? No. I was just entering a new school that coming year-- after all, I was old enough to be in 1st grade. My teachers all knew what had happened and sympathized. But my friends didn't know at all. My new friends must have pitied me at first. I'm still friends with them now, but I still wonder if the only reason they stuck around me was because I was so unstable.

I hated the world, I hated people, and I hated myself. I got over it. Sort of. My personality got stuck in this running loop, though. I was dubbed a 'bitch' for all my years to come, even at such a young age. 7 years old, and I was the outcast. I had to suffer 6 more years of this?

I made friends with other outcasts. I lost some friends, gained others. I started crushing on a guy who had actually been at the funeral. I probably didn't remember him too well because I'd been so traumatized. I felt I had to act as the support for my family, and had always let my relatives babble to me, cry on me, or talk to me in their plastic, sympathetic tones.

But he'd been the shoulder I'd cried on. I realized, in my 6th and final year in elementary school, that I loved him. He'd spoiled me rotten throughout 4th and 5th year, giving me roses and game cards; jewelry and origami boxes. But by 6th grade year, we didn't talk much. We were never in the same classes. He was an outcast too, but the kind that moved up in the scale.

Come junior high, he ignored me. Then hated me. Outwardly teased me. I spent hours sobbing with my friends, mourning my losses. I wrote depressing poems and stories for class, and always dedicated them to my 'Mother, an angel' and my friends. But beneath all that depression and tears, people saw something in me.

I earned true friends, regardless of my behavior towards them. Even when I was violent and threatening, dramatic and upset, people stood tall. People fought back. I started to crave that kind of friendship, where I couldn't just talk to someone, but argue with them, and sleep that night, knowing he or she was still my friend.

People asked me how many friends I have. I used to retort with all sorts of snappy comments-- "More than you, loser!" or "Enough to please." Other times I would get so annoyed I would just shout a string of curses, or worse, actually count of my friends. That made the people teasing me grin from ear to ear, knowing I could actually count my friends on one or two hands.

Now, that fact doesn't bother me too much. I never liked popularity. I'd been popular once, for a short while in 5th year elementary. But I did something horrible to my best friend, and things were never the same. I wish now that I'd been slightly more mature back then. Taken advice from Kasumi and Nabiki, who seemed infinitely older and wiser than me at the time.

But that's the way time works, isn't it? Always forward. Looking back to things doesn't change them or you-- if anything, you get depressed. I try not to think about the bad things. It doesn't make me ignorant, but it makes me strong. I think of those bad things only when I need to remind myself why I have to be strong. Why I don't have to stand for teasing, prejudice, or abuse.

Practice what you preach, they said. If only I'd listened...

Where was I? I was explaining my attitude towards this guy, Ranma, showing up, with his father, from a long training trip in China.

I hadn't made a big deal about it mostly because I was afraid. For two reasons, I was afraid. I was afraid, first of all, that I would actually make a new friend. And he would leave me, just like Ayeka did, and like Tojigamura did. Ayeka, Mother had told me, when I first made friends with her in kindergarten, was a bad seed. Popular or no, she wouldn't be my friend forever. Regardless of circumstances, she warned, I would lose her. How right she was. Tojigamura, on the other hand, was that boy I'd crushed on for so long, then lost to my own stupidity of giving him what he wanted-- retorts, insults, and framework-- in other words, things that made me look even worse than I already did. Then he left. The boy I'd crushed on, needed, and even loved, was gone. It's still a hole in my heart.

So I was afraid of loss. The second thing I was afraid of was that he would be like those other boys at school. Jumping to conclusions about who I was, based on my face, or on what they heard. He would hate me before he even knew me, and then I would always regret that lost chance, the chance I had to make a friend.

Better not to be impressed with him. Not ot fawn over him, and feed his ego. Because doing things like that led them to believe they were above you, and they would leave you eventually, one way or another. That's what had happened with Tojigamura, why not this Ranma guy?

But things were different with Ranma.

For starters, he came to the house-- as a she. I'll admit, I was never big on fantasy. I liked anime and manga, but it wasn't until my 5th grade year that I became an avid fan. I needed it to escape my problems. Other people saw it as a fun hobby, a bad obsession, or a silly escape. But when something out of an anime suddenly appears on your doorstep, in the form of a panda and a aquatranssexual boy... or girl, whichever-- you get a bit scared.

My foundation, my walls, that I had spent so long putting up... was starting to crumble. If things like curses were real, then how could I be so sure that my heartache with Ayeka and Tojigamura was over? That Mother was really gone? Was I doomed to suffer?

If things were bad then, they only got worse. You see, I didn't know about Ranma's curse until I walked in on him in the bath-- a total accident, mind you.

When he first arrived, as a girl, Nabiki had chastised him-- for not being male. Of course, she hadn't known about the curse at the time. I think she was just disapointed at having lost a potential gullible customer-- guys didn't see through Nabiki's ways as fast as girls did.

Whatever the case, Kasumi urged Ranma, soaking wet from the rain, to take a bath. I didn't know. I was angry from having gotten beaten in a fight by Ranma.

"I'm so glad you're not a boy," I'd told him afterwards. Her. Whatever. If I had only noticed the hurt look on Ranma's face... but here I am again, dwelling on the past, and wishing for things I can't have...

Sweaty from the fight, and a bit of practice I'd forced myself to do afterwards, Nabiki told me haul myself to the bath. I stunk. She was right. So I went upstairs and into the bathroom. Took off my clothes and expected to soak until I was raisin-y all over.

Hence my surprise at seeing a completely naked boy in the bathtub. Don't get me wrong, I like guys. People in junior high whispered behind my back that I was a lesbian. Girls strayed away from me, and my only friends for the longest time were Yuka and Sayuri. But homosexuality isn't as accepted here in Japan as it is elsewhere... like the United States. So people saying that about me was crushing to my ego.

I blushed fever-red, nearly dropped my towel, and left without a word. Such was my surprise that, on auto-pilot, I reverted to what I fondly call 'bitch-mode'. That's me-- I say that to my friends, and they click their tongues.

"Bitch, Akane? You're not a bitch. You're just melodramatic."

But I'm actually proud to be a 'bitch'. Long after I adopted the title, Nabiki told me that in some places, 'bitch' is an acronym for 'Babe In Total Control of Herself.' I like that. I want to believe I'm in control of myself-- not that my emotions are, my history is, or some kind of predetermined destiny.

Then, I screamed. Ran outside in my robe, grabbed a stone birdhouse, and tromped back inside. Such was my adrenaline rush that my arms didn't even tire as I held the easily-70kg over my head.

When I arrived in the hall, that same young man stood there, fully clothed this time, and staring at his feet.

"I'm Ranma Saotome," he said, scratching behind his ear, "Sorry about this."

Sounds... normal enough, right? To a point, I suppose. But after our engagement was announced, things between Ranma and I really went from bad to worse. I wasn't sure if he'd ever forgive me for walking in on him, branding him a pervert (in front of my family, no less), and saying that "I'm glad you're not a boy" in the dojo. True, I hadn't known better, and nobody's perfect... but my past likes to guilt-trip me.

Ranma was a sort of introvert-- the opposite of me. How could we possibly get along?

The way my sisters explained it, he was a girl half the time. We had to get along. BBZT! Wrong. Being a girl didn't mean he had a girl's mind, or a girl's problems. He hated being a girl, and outwardly said the first few times we, and I must emphasize this, tried to spar, that girls were weak.

I wanted to slap him for being a chauvanistic pig. I wanted to yell at him that girls were plenty strong-- he had no idea who he was talking to, or what I had been through. To my own surprise, I malleted him. I still have no idea where that darn thing comes from, or how I started using it. But when my emotions get the better of me, I can pull it out from thin air.

The scariness didn't begin until the second week. Ranma's father-- Genma Saotome-- and my father, were ecstatic about our engagement, and the joining of the two schools that made up the Anything Goes line. They insisted, even though Ranma and I were only freshmen in high school, that we marry.

I swore that Ranma would disagree, but he didn't. Three against one meant the odds were against me, so I said yes. We were married the next Sunday. Luckily, or unluckily, as I look at it from time to time, we didn't have school the following week. Spring break. Ranma came at just the right time for everything in my life to go to hell-- again.

Kasumi, Nabiki, Genma and my father left us for a whole week, expecting something. I knew very well what they expected. They wanted their heir, and they wanted it then and there. But I was only 16. Still learning about life, and love, and here I was, bound by honor to a guy I barely knew.

But I wanted to know him. I wanted to see what was past that shell, that wall he put up. I found that we shared a lot of things in common besides the Art. Things that I had to notice on my own, because he rarely talked to me. When he did, it was to say something insulted. To get my juices going, I guess. It worked. I always got overemotional and upset when he acted so condescending and egotistical. Not to mention rude, insensitive... anyways, we fought. A lot. Our methods were unconventional, but that was what Anything Goes was founded on. A principle of any situation-- any time, anywhere, you have to be ready to fight, with what you have.

So Father and Genma were displeased that at the end of Spring Break, Ranma and I appeared no closer to being friends than a rabbit and a fox. We were sparring when they got home. Not making out, and certainly not in bed together. I think Kasumi and Nabiki were relieved. So was I. While I learned to like, and even respect Ranma, I wasn't ready to sleep with him yet, let alone have a child.

There were other girls in this world who had no choice. They'd been raped, molested, or in a situation where there was nothing else. I was glad that I had some semblance of control, at least when it came to my body and my future.

Time passed. Part of Ranma opened up to me, I guess, but there was still so much he was hiding. I wanted to poke and prod at his secrets until we were on the same level. If he thought he knew how it felt to love and lose, to have your role model die on you, and to be teased constantly, then I had to know how and why. I couldn't be friends, and certainly not fiancees with someone who never spoke.

He stung like a scorpion with his words. Sometimes, I took things in stride, marking his insults off as playful comments. Or perhaps he was just trying to get me riled up for one of his odd training sessions again. Or maybe I was just too afraid to see what really lay underneath the exterior of handsome-guy-with-talent, big-mouth, and-pigtail.

You know the idea that bottling up your emotions is bad... because you'll blow up at those you love and cherish the most? I believe it. It's happened to me, and it happened to Ranma.

An old "friend" of his, Ryoga Hibiki, showed up. They got into a fight over something stupid. I ended up with ten centimeters less hair, not to mention a bruised ego.

I suppose I should tell you that, after Tojigamura, I didn't stop liking guys. People might have called me a lesbian, but it's not as if they had anything to base their "information" on. I had a crush-- just not on a boy. Rather, a man. A man I knew very well I couldn't have, and I suppose that's why he was appealing. Five years my senior, and a complete fool around my eldest sister, Dr. Tofu was the epitomy of everything I wanted to need. The stereotypical perfect man, but not my perfect man.

I look back on my foolishness of the day, and wonder what possessed me to like the good doctor. Really like him. I think I'd admired him for a while, maybe even been jealous over Kasumi and her talents and popularity... but really, I just wanted someone to be my shoulder, my hand to hold, and my friend.

Then Ranma came, and I fell back on that old admiration to deny what I felt for Ranma wasn't love. It took time to grow on me. Even though I was almost immediately married, not to mention forced. How can you love someone that is forced to marry you within two weeks of your meeting?

I'd always been insistent on marrying someone I loved. I was stuck on that age old idea of having 2.5 kids, a dog, and a picket fence. But that kind of thing didn't happen in Tokyo, not in this time, and certainly not to martial artists. That was just the way things WERE.

I slapped him. For the first time, I slapped Ranma. He'd said to, just as Ryoga had. I again, was torn between doing what I wanted to do (which was run away crying like the baby I felt like) or slapping him and Ryoga silly for ruining what I considered my life (my hair). Again, I think I was more immature than anyone could have given me credit for. Crying over cut hair is like crying over spilt milk-- what's done is done... and so be it.

Maybe I hit him harder than I thought. There was a tiny bruise, and an imprint there, even the next day. After my actions, I always felt guilty, but too proud to say so. I didn't want to set myself up to get stung again, and I sure as hell didn't want to feed Ranma's ego. He was strong, he was brave... but he was also human, and I wanted him to recognize that, so that one day, he could talk to me.

I suppose you could call what I was trying to do 'teaching the teacher'. Only I didn't have a lesson plan. I was doing thing improv-style, as I went along. Anything Goes, right? Wrong.

I must have hurt him with more than a slap. Things were rocky between us after that. I had no idea why they got as jagged as they did. I needed someone to cry on. I was feeling weak and rotten all the time, and still being too proud to talk to Ranma, too afraid to open up to the introvert who was such an unknown to me... and too silly to turn to my own sisters.

I found a tiny black piglet. I named him P-chan. Ranma didn't like him, not one bit. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why. Whenever I tried to ask Ranma, that damned wall went back up again, and I was stuck without knowing.

I spent my nights holding P-chan, wishing for courage, bravery, and above all, the heart to tell Ranma that I was falling in love with him. Who'd've thought, after all? Most of the time, I was still the bitch I made myself out to be. I jumped to conclusions because I was afraid. I was always so damned scared that if, for once, anyone had told me the straight and brutal truth to my face, I might have collapsed.

That's what I did to others, regardless of feeling, and that was why things between Ranma and I were so tense. I didn't try enough. I cried into P-chan's soft black fur. The nights he disappeared without explanation, I barely slept. Pig or no, I needed that living thing, that idea that someone out there, somewhere, wanted to --could-- listen to me.

Then they came. As if you have to ask, you know who. The first of the bunch was Shampoo. Renowned Amazon fighter, from the Joketsuzoku tribe of Central Qinghai, China. I met her at the Kolkhoz Ice Skating rink, in a match versus the Golden Pair of Tokyo-- two student skaters with mental issues.

The battle was over P-chan, who I was not ready to give up yet. Ranma was my untrained skating partner, yet things somehow swerved into him being paired up with Ryoga on the ice-- with Ranma as a girl. I think it must have been more humiliating for him on the ice than anyone else-- so I tried to 'help' by yelling at him for stealing my place.

We got tossed together again, and then fate decided to play a mind game with us. Or maybe it was a game of hearts. In any case, our lives were at stake, and all because two crazy skaters wanted to mess with us.

Mikado Sanzenin wanted to kiss me, while his immature partner, Azusa,wanted P-chan -or Charlotte, as she called him- to add to her collection of 'cute'. They trapped us in their final deadly attack-- you see, it was Martial Arts skating. As I've said before, Anything Goes.

So they caught us in their spinning, nauseating, whirlwind attack, where Mikado spun rapidly, Azusa was being held up by him, and Ranma was held by Azusa. Ranma was hanging onto me by my hands and wrists alone. He held me so tightly that I had bruises on my wrists afterwards. It was so unlike him, but consdering the situation, I cut him some slack.

After all, he was an introvert. He wouldn't tell me anything if it cost him his soul, let alone his life. The technique was meant to 'cleave' a couple's relationship --not that the married one that Ranma and I had was all that stable to begin with-- when one person let go of another. Inevitably, someone would get hurt. The faster the technique, the more fatal to whoever was dropped.

Being on the outside, spinning like a top, was no joy ride, if you'll excuse the pun. Not only was I nauseous, but Ranma wouldn't let go. I screamed and yelled at him to let go, if only to save himself, and I think for the first time, he opened up. A string of compassion fell into him, and he said that he wouldn't let go, not if I begged him! True to his word, he hung on, until that blasted Azusa was too dizzy to keep hanging on to Ranma's ankles.

But all of a sudden, it wasn't just my life in danger, but both of ours. In the split second it took for us to go flying towards the rink's walls, Ranma performed an amazing soumersault in mid-air, completely blocking me from the wall. I crumpled against him like a rag doll.

But he wasn't moving. For the first time in my life since my Mother's death, I felt that irrational fear of losing someone I didn't know I needed. I needed him so much, I hardly realized it. Or why. I felt very much his wife at that moment, and I cried to him to come back. He did.

Maybe that compassion was gone, or maybe it was just dulled. He got into another fight with Ryoga in his girl form, despite his weakness. But those words he'd said, just before Mikado had tried to kiss me, stayed with me forever.

"You touch her and I'll kill you!"

Maybe it didn't frighten me as much as it should have. People in the audience gasped. Others, the more arrogant Kolkhoz students, didn't think that anyone could defeat Mikado of the Golden Pair. Especially the jerk's own cheerleading squad. But I was touched. He felt that much protection for me?

Any of my guy friends might have threatened a fist fight, but never death. I suppose that was my first warning. After the rink got smashed into pieces, and I was awake again (I'd nearly drowned), a new enemy showed up. Shampoo, out to kill Ranma's girl half. But she had no idea Ranma was really male...

If that was just a sampling of my life with Ranma to come, then I'd only seen the appetizers. Following Shampoo came her blind suitor, Mousse. Once Shampoo left, upon discovery of Ranma's curse and its true nature, he too, left. They both got cursed.

I forgot to mention-- Kuno. The House of, to be exact. Tatewaki Kuno had caused me problems since the first day of school. Perhaps he'd heard about me in advance from Nabiki, or maybe the dojo's reputation was wider-spread than I knew. But in any case, he managed to get all the boys in the school to think they could date me if they defeated me. Yeah, right.

This pissed Ranma off too, and he actually helped me dwindle the number of fool-hardly, hormone-incensed boys to a scant few. Then there was Kuno. After Spring Break, he took our marriage as 'foul sorcery'. But since I wasn't altogther unhappy, Kuno was forced to lay off, or risk having a restraining order placed on him-- thus embarassing his 'noble house'.

To this day, he only bothers me in passing, as a sort of joke. I don't think Ranma likes it any more, but all the same, at least he's not giving me flowers, jewelry, or buying pictures of me.

With the arrival of Team China in Japan again, Ranma gained Shampoo as a 'legal suitor'. Her laws supposedly outweighed marriage claims and certificates, and she would pursue Ranma until she defeated him or he married her. Since Ranma didn't seem big on multiple marriages (and thank god for that), Shampoo was, for the most part, a nuisance. Her spells and potions added both spice and problems to our married life, but I owe her some credit.

I saw more of Ranma when Shampoo showed up. He was forced to explain a part of his part to me, and I was only too willing to listen. But the problems came with the blessings. Shampoo was an avid glomper-of-men. Especially her 'Airen'. I got pissed when I saw Shampoo attached to Ranma like that. Maybe it fed Ranma's ego, just like I didn't want, when I got pissed off and jealous, and part of me agrees. I was jealous-- that I couldn't provide the affection Ranma deserved after ten years on the road. But as far as I could tell, love was a two-way street. If he didn't show me any, I couldn't give myself to him.

When I said that to myself, I began noticing that Ranma really didn't want to be with Shampoo. He wanted to get rid of her, and possiby even set her up with her blind suitor. But oftentimes, his pride got the better of him, and he refused to deal with Cologne, Shampoo's great-grandmother, that was at the core of the problems. So he came home with an extra burden on his shoulder, and I couldn't help him.

So he took his anger out on me.

I should inject here that we had been sleeping together for some time. Mind you, sleeping together didn't mean having intimate relations. I hadn't seen a bit of Ranma naked since the day we met-- save his exhibitionist displays as a girl. We slept in the same room, on the same futon, and sometimes even woke up in each other's arms. But that was all. He was always up before me, so I never woke up to that dream of being in warm, protected arms. Waking up to a kiss on my forehead, or a caress on my back. It was too much to hope for.

Our fights, once interesting, challenging, and even fun for me, took a dangerous turn. Ranma started fighting back, blindly. His rules about injuring girls went out the window, and it was as if he were someone else-- and so was I. I was a target, someone to take his anger, hurt, and power out on.

I fought back as best I could the first time, but not gotten away unscathed. I had a bruise on my upper arm, and a series of them on my left calf. No big deal. After it was all over, and I was heaving, Ranma was staring at me. I got up, pain striking my leg like a poker, and that was when he ran off. Just like that. I waited up all night in bed for him, telling him it was okay-- and thanks for the workout... but he never came. At first, I thought he actually might have gone to Shampoo's restaurant, the Nekohanten, to spend the night with her... after all, she could fight... not to mention the fact that she was beautiful, and well-endowed for male and female tastes.

But Kasumi told me he slept on the roof. I never had the courage to ask him why.

Whenever the fights happened, I didn't ask questions. I fought back for as long as I could, and then I collapsed. Usually Ranma stopped then. When Yuka and Sayuri noticed bruises and limps, they began to ask questions, but I reassured them. When I came to school with a sprained arm, they told me that I had to get help. I said I was fine; I was a martial artist, and I had to learn to take this kind of pain.

"It's not pain, Akane, it's abuse! He's hurting you to please himself!"
"Please. He's not pleasing anyone. It's not as if he laughs maniacally or rapes me or anything," I told Yuka and Sayuri as quietly as I could manage, during passing period. "Besides, we're married."

I think that was the statement that cinched it. Being married was no excuse, they said. Then they turned around and left the class.

Nabiki approached Ranma and I at lunch, and told Ranma, rather blatantly, that if he ever touched me in anger again, she would make his life miserable. That only got him angrier at me, and I was suddenly scared.

Maybe Yuka and Sayuri were right-- I needed help. Help with my martial arts, I thought at first, to help me get better, and give Ranma the fight he longed for. Help with my people skills, so I could finally talk to Ranma and tell him... anything.

Even Kuno seemed to get worried about me. There were times when my injuries should have prevented me from coming to school. Excuses were running low, and both Kasumi and Nabiki were getting suspicious. Father and Genma --I never referred to him as Father-- turned a blind eye to my injuries, or attributed them to my constant 'practice sparring' with Ranma. Perhaps it was a shared conviction that girls were weak. Yes, I'd tell them sarcastically one day, I'd broken my leg while walking to school. That was how.

How wrong I would be. Ranma seemed to have a darker side of him than I ever could have imagined. Deep secrets, a hidden fear that I couldn't touch. That he wouldn't allow me to touch, even in our most private and... quiet moments. Any chance for passion between us was slowly dying out. I wanted him, it was true, but I was still not ready.

Not mentally, and with my growing number of injuries, and their slow healing, not physically. He would never want me, I assured myself. Why else would he fight with me so? Over stupid things, usually, or sometimes without explanation at all.

Then there were those days that he just seemed to forget that I ever fought him, ever insulted him. Days when we held hands, and I felt like his wife again. That love I was so unsure of came back full force those days, but died a quick death the moment something bad happened.

Bad would be Shampoo, or Ryoga fighting Ranma for some odd reason. Or Happosai, Father and Genma's old, perverted, panty-stealing master. Then the cycle would start all over again.

I don't know when I finally decided that it had to stop.

End of Part 1: The Unthinkable. This is the "prequel" to the events of my original Strange Love story. The events of the original SL storyline will follow in Part 2, "Different Circumstances".

If you haven't already, please scroll to the top, and read my disclaimers.

End Note #01: The events of this story are, in some parts, true. The death of Akane's mother, as described, happened to me, but regarding a different family member. 'Ayeka' and 'Tojigamura' are real people. Abuse happens. It's sad, and often unstoppable. If you or someone you know is being abused, get help. It's the best thing you can do for everyone involved, and their futures.

Thanks for your time! Go read part 2, and be sure to email me!

azurite_moon@yahoo.com