Chapter Thirteen: "The truth comes out."
Akane was fuming and it was obvious to everybody. Of course, that didn't mean they had to pay attention to her. Everyone was having fun, and the moody girl was not going to ruin it, well, except maybe for one person.
"I certainly hope you aren't too disappointed." "Not at all." Came her bitter voice, which proved otherwise. Even the cool tea wouldn't soothe the girl's mood. "If I'd known they would come too, I would have certainly done something." "It's fine. It wasn't your fault." "…Yet you're upset." "Not really." Yes, really, especially considering those sweet, tender words didn't belong to the person that should. Just then, across the room Ranma had started laughing loudly, making her frown deepen. What a husband he was! Sure, he'd been mad at first, but now he was fighting over snacks with his father, laughing as he managed to steal Genma's share too. Poor Ryoga had been trying so hard to make her happy, though. Too bad it wasn't Ryoga who was supposed to make her happy.
"If you want, I can try to distract them." Akane smiled to him, feeling warm for a moment. There was no one in the world as sweet as Ryoga, and he surely deserved the best of the best. Hopefully he would find happiness, and hopefully, to someone far sweeter than Ranma.
"THAT'S NOT FAIR!" Came a sudden, loud voice, this time it didn't belong to Ranma. "Why no fair? Shampoo travel too too far to come too!" "But how come you get to be with Ranma at night? I WAS HERE FIRST!" "You have Ranma all day! Now Shampoo's turn!" Akane let out another bitter sigh. Was every single person in the room crazy?
"Hey, Akane!" Came someone's voice from behind her, making the girl turn just in time to see her sisters and mother in law coming in with a big smile. "We just found out this place has some pretty cool hot springs." Nabiki grinned her winning smile at her sister as she carelessly let herself fall next to her sister and grab a snack.
"It seems Auntie's friend was reserving them for us. Quite a nice lady she is." Followed Kasumi's voice, gentle and sweet as ever, as she moved closer and gladly accepted the cup of tea from Konatsu. Nodoka laughed deviously behind the sleeve of her kimono as she took place next to Kasumi, and right in front of Akane. "Ah, Kasumi dear. She's lovely now, but I've known her since we were children. The stories I could tell you!" Then she proceeded to tell such stories to Kasumi, which the oldest of the Tendo sisters often blushed at.
"So what do you say, Akane?" Akane turned her attention back to Nabiki as she grinned her devious trademark grin at her, winking for effect, "Want to go get a beauty bath before the big night?" That made the girl blush and she sent a sideways look toward her husband who seemed far too preoccupied with winning snacks to pay attention to his wife.
"Ah! This is EXACTLY what I needed!"
Akane gave a sad smile to her older sister as she proceeded to relax in the hot water herself. It'd been such a long day so she was grateful she could relax for a moment. Things had gone from bad to worse since she got married and just when she'd thought things would be wonderful and romantic between herself and Ranma, her dearest family and friends had gone and ruined them. She carefully held her ring still hanging from her neck. Such a nice gesture from him, to get them both that. Even now, in plain view, Shampoo and Ukyo had been too busy fighting each other to notice it.
"So Akane, how are things going between you and Ranma?" Asked Kasumi, bringing her little sister out of her world and throw a cautious look toward the two long haired girls in the place, who were currently too preoccupied setting a schedule in which they both would be able to be alone with Ranma to pay much attention to what she had to say.
"It's been…" She noticed Nodoka staring at her, "lovely." Damn, she was a bad liar. Instead of hurrying to grab her sword and beheading her son like Akane had thought she would, Nodoka merely laughed and patted the girl's shoulder.
"Saotome men are never easy to deal with, my dear, but you surely will never have a dull moment." She turned her sweet, loving smile to the wooden wall that separated the bathroom in two, where at the other side the men were taking their own bath. It made Akane wonder whether her mother was thinking of her husband or her son. Never the less, it brought a smile to the girl's face.
"THAT IS NOT FAIR! How come you get to be with Ranma for THREE hours straight!" "Shampoo much more special to Aireen. Shampoo deserve more time!" "I'll give you what Shampoo deserves!"
Akane sighed before sending the two arguing girls a well-deserved glare. No dull moments indeed.
"It feels so wrong to be here…" Konatsu threw a concerned glance at the other men sharing the bath. "I feel so violated!" He covered his chest with both arms, mimicking a girl perfectly though there was nothing there to hide.
Ranma merely rolled his eyes, "Cheer up Konatsu. It's not like the girls wanted you there either." That earned him a glare from the Okama. It earned him a glare from Ryoga too but for very different reasons. For someone whose honeymoon had just been ruined, Ranma certainly was acting too fresh. He could understand why Akane grew so mad at him most of the time. Ranma didn't seem to care that much about the entire thing. How could someone so careless ever make her happy?
"You really are too laidback Ranma." Ryoga's voice could not have sounded smugger in Ranma's ears as he turned to the fanged boy (seriously, what was wrong with his teeth?) and proceeded to glare at him, knowing full well what he meant. "Oh, and I bet Akane would be much better with someone who follows her around like a little pet, right P-chan?"
Ryoga didn't have time to spat back because he was quickly pushed away by both Soun and Genma. "What does he mean by that, boy?" "Ranma! Are you not making Akane happy?" Ranma glared at them both, "I'm not the one who ruined the trip! Maybe she's unhappy because her entire family suddenly decided to stop by!" For a moment there, both men glared at the boy, but their glares suddenly turned into realization, small drops of sweat forming on their temples. They'd ruined the honeymoon…
"Hahahaha! This is such a nice hotel, isn't it Saotome?!" "Quite right, Tendo! What a wonderful place! Hahahaha!" They'd both suddenly turned their attention somewhere else, rather pathetically throwing water at each other, mimicking little kids as Ranma glared at them. Old fools. Of course they wouldn't want to make things right and leave, they were having far too much fun. "Idiots…"
Ranma was far too concerned with glaring at them that he did not notice the small shadow by the neatly placed garden by the corner of the bathroom, easily hidden behind bamboo leaves. Well, it didn't hide for long. Konatsu's sudden girly yell made both Ranma and Ryoga turn quickly, thinking it'd been one of the girls, when they realized what'd happened.
"What a pretty little girl! You lost your way in, little girl? Give grampa Happosai a kiss!" Konatsu was splashing about rather comically with Happosai hanging from his shoulder, desperately trying to pat the guy's chest. It certainly made Ranma smirk in delight.
"I AM NOT A GIRL, YOU FOOL!" Now that was a manly voice. It was nice to know Konatsu could pull that off when he needed to. He stood up, letting Happosai take in all the 'manliness' as the master suddenly froze, almost literally turning into stone as he realized he'd just tried to glomp a man.
"Hahaha! Serves you right, old man!" Ranma couldn't stop laughing. It was just too good to see his master mess up this nicely. Even Ryoga was smirking at the sight. Happosai had started to cry, covering his huge eyes with his tiny hands. "Ranma you're so cruel! How could you have forgotten about me? First you leave me all alone and then you make me grope a man. What an ungrateful student you are! But you can make it up by turning into a girl!" He jumped suddenly, bringing out of nowhere a bucket of water, cold apparently. Where does he keep those? Thought Ranma as he dodged the water. "No one was supposed to come, old man! " "Don't try to trick me, Ranma! You invited the entire family and you all left me behind! I wanted to be a part of the honey moon too!"
There was a silence after that.
Konatsu and Mousse stared at Happosai with an incredulous faces, then turned their attention to Ranma, then back at Happosai, and back at Ranma. "Ha…ha! I- I- He's senile- What crazy things he- I can explain! I- Akane and I-" Ryoga rolled his eyes. It was nice to know he wasn't the only idiot around.
"You are married?" Konatsu's expression went from incredulous to a winning smirk. "YOU ARE MARRIED!" Seconded Mousse. It was obvious what they were thinking. If Ranma was married then… "Miss Ukyo! Miss Ukyo!" "SHAMPOO!"
The okama started splashing around, trying to hurry to the edge of the hot spring, only to be pulled back by Mousse who wanted to be the first to announce it to the girls. "Stop it! You can't tell them!"
The pigtailed boy jumped on Mouse, prepared to fight the blind boy if it was necessary, he fell right in front of the exit, blocking it. "You can't fight both of us, Saotome." Smirked Mousse as Konatsu stood next to him with the same triumphant face. Cue Ryoga, jumping to stand next to Ranma, ready to help him. "I am not doing this for you. I'm doing it for Akane." Ranma let out a snort. As if there was any question about it.
"What is going on?"
The girls stared at the wooden wall, trying to figure out what was happening. There was yelling and they could clearly hear Happosai's voice at the other side, plus Konatsu's girly scream. Akane let out a grim sigh, glaring at the wooden wall that separated the two sides of the bathroom. Of course! What else could ruin her honeymoon if it wasn't for Master Happosai's presence. It was all clear to her now. Kami hated her. Or maybe someone else found pleasure in her misfortune. Sick bastards. Whatever the cause, she rolled her eyes, going back into the water until it covered her mouth and closed her eyes. Nothing could go wrong now. Everything that could happen happened.
Akane's eyes snapped open, as she stared at the backs of the two arguing girls who'd suddenly turned very quiet, staring at the wooden door.
"You are married?" Oh no… "YOU ARE MARRIED!" OH NO! That idiot!
Ever so slowly, the two girls turned to Akane, both wearing the same incredulous expression, while she looked very much like a deer caught in the highlights. "Married?" Came Ukyo's squeal. She was shaking, though Akane wasn't sure if it was because whether she was going to cry or was just going to kill her.
Kasumi's quiet exclamation was enough to initiate the explosion. Both girls jumped at Akane, as the girl jumped out of water, barely missing the two. She was quick to cover herself with a towel. It seemed that Shampoo and Ukyo thought the same because next time she looked they were both wearing their own towels. Akane frowned as she managed to think Ranma's training had been good for her. She was sure if she hadn't gone through the pain, she wouldn't have been able to dodge both girls so smoothly. But that didn't make her better, just equal, and there were two of them.
"WHAT THE HELL DO THEY MEAN, AKANE!?" Ukyo really seemed like she was going to start crying any second, but Shampoo seemed more angry than sad. "MUST BE MISTAKE! AIREN WOULDN'T CHOOSE STUPID GIRL OVER SHAMPOO!"
A loud thump was heard against the wall, among the yelling. It seemed like they had their little free for all at the other side too. Well, this lot always seemed the kind to fight now and ask questions later. Shampoo proved just that by connecting her foot against Akane's cheek, easily knocking her to her back. The girl sat up, lightly touching the sore spot on her face. This wasn't going as planned…
"Move away, you idiot!" "Ranma, you're so mean to your poor master!" "LEAVE ME ALONE!" "Stop right there!" Among the screaming, kicks and punches all about, a Panda sat next to his best friend cheering his son on, with a nice sign that said "Go Ranma!" "Ranma! You protect my daughter!"
Ranma moved away from Mousse's well placed chains (where was he keeping them?) as they managed to go through the wooden wall. "STOP IT, IDIOTS! YOU'LL BREAK IT!" Ryoga seemed busy trying to stop Konatsu by pulling at his long hair, who'd somehow managed to hide as a mailbox and was trying to run away (Where did he get that!?). "I can't let you say anything! They'll kill Akane!" Mousse smirked, "As long as Shampoo is mine, I don't care what happens to your girl, Ranma."
It seemed that Akane had had enough of this stupidity, because her very distraught and angry voice was heard all around the bathroom. "WE CAN HEAR YOU, YOU IDIOTS!"
Oops. Ranma's face froze mid air as he fell to the water, turning into a she once again.
Mousse seemed too happy about that fact, because those screams and fighting meant Shampoo already knew! "SHAMPOO!" And he did the most idiotic thing he could have possibly done. The blind boy pulled at his chains, not noticing they were stuck in the wood, successfully bringing it down. After that it was a free for all. The wall fell.
Kasumi and Nabiki hurried to cover themselves while Ukyo and Shampoo tried desperately to grab Akane, while she jumped out of the way. It was obvious Ranma had trained her now, because no one was as good as Ranma in getting away. But now they had Happosai to deal with, who was entirely too happy about the wall breaking down. It was a mess.
"Wait! I can explain!" Tried Akane, sounding far too much like Ranma for her liking. Ugh. "Explain what?!" Sobbed Ukyo who was now actually crying, looking as hurt as ever. It managed to make Akane feel guilty. She'd never seen someone so heartbroken in her life. "That he chose you?! Without even telling me?" Now that made Akane feel even worse. She should have trusted Ukyo enough to know she would have accepted it. But not like this, not because of Happosai of all people. "I-"
"It was my fault, Ukyo." Akane blinked as Ranma stepped up. "I didn't tell you, either of you. But I'm telling you now. I choose- I chose Akane." Without even noticing him, he'd managed to stand behind Akane, even placing a hand on her shoulder as he did so. Akane blushed red. It was one of those moments, one of those far too few moments, when Ranma's declarations of love made her feel like the most important person in the world, as if he could never love someone else in his life. It'd happened before. When he first declared it in front of the entire school, Akane is my fiancée!. Or when he declared it in front of Mikado and Asuza. Akane is mine, if you touch her I'll kill you. Or in front of Toma. Akane is mine and she's engaged to me! But just like in those moments, something had to ruin it. Something or someone would come and make any proclamation of love turn into disaster and this was no exception.
Ukyo seemed ready to start hitting Ranma, tears still falling and Shampoo, looking ready to kill someone was starting to get in position to help along, kill either Akane or Ranma. But then, from between the two, Happosai jumped, oblivious to the emotional moment they were having and stretched his tiny arms out toward Akane.
"AKANE MY LOVE!" It was a good thing she'd managed to cover herself with a towel. Akane shrieked and both Ranma and Ryoga jumped to protect the girl. "Not so fast, boys!" Out of somewhere, Happosai managed to bring out a bomb, one that sent the two boys flying through the air. The girl managed to punch her master on the face, jumping toward where the two boys had landed… the cold water fountain.
"Gah! That idiotic, son of a-"
There was a sudden silence in the room. Ranma opened her eyes, letting the cool water fall from her mouth. Everyone was staring at Akane, who was just standing there, shaking, eyes wide open. "Wha-?" Wha-? Indeed. Right next to Ranma was a tiny drowning pig, desperately trying to stay afloat.
Oh no. Oh hell no. Ranma's nervous glance went from the pig, to Akane, whose face went from confusion to realization. Even Happosai seemed to know it wasn't the right time to do anything. Shampoo was smirking, it seemed she was glad Akane was suffering as she had. Ukyo merely seemed as confused as Akane.
"Akane, I can explain!" Ranma hurried, stretching her hands out to her in what she hoped was a reassuring gesture. Akane's eyes went to Ranma, confused for a moment as she took in her words. "You knew?" At that Ranma's eyes widened. Crap. He was an idiot.
"You didn't know?" Came Nabiki's sharp tongue from the other side of the room, raising an eyebrow. "My, little sister. I knew you were dense but I never thought you were this stupid." Akane turned slowly. Everyone was quiet. Kasumi and Nodoka seemed as surprised as she was but… "Dad?" She gasped, helplessly. "Um, well, sweety. We thought you knew!"
Her broken gaze turned back to her adored P-chan, who was now hanging from the edge of the pool, looking up at her with tears in it's eyes. "Ryoga?" She whispered, as if she needed some sort of confirmation. The tiny piglet sobbed and nodded, letting out a tiny, sad "oink" of confirmation. This was just too much to handle.
Akane took a step back, her hand going immediately to her neck, grasping the ring that'd been neatly hidden under the towel. She was shaking as she took another step back. This was crazy, too crazy. She looked around. The place was a mess. Pieces of wood were all about, Konatsu peeking out of his post, Mousse hugging him, thinking it was Shampoo. Happosai was floating on the water unconscious, smoke still about from his bombs. Kasumi was scolding Nabiki who seemed bored by the entire thing. Shampoo seemed ready to kill but didn't seem sure whether it was the smart thing to do or not and Ukyo was still crying, glaring at her with much hatred. P-chan was looking up at her in wonder, looking all kinds of hurt. P-chan? No… Ryoga. Ryoga had been her pet all along.
Ranma's voice brought her back to reality. She looked so concerned. She… Not he, but a she. Akane let out a shaky breath. This was crazy. All of this. It was far too crazy. Her husband was a female, her pet turned out to be her best friend, her father in law was a panda, her husband was being chased by two angry girls… This was her honeymoon. This mess of a life was her life now. Ranma had brought this to her life. Whatever fantasies she'd had of being a little wife in a little house, making dinner and having children were so far away right now. She loved Ranma, she did, but she just…
"I can't do this anymore."
With one swift movement, Akane pulled at the golden ring hanging from her neck, quickly breaking the necklace. She gave the ring to her husband, who merely took it out of shock. And Akane walked away, leaving a shocked and hurt Ranma behind.
What- What did just happen?
Author's note: So many years late, but I found myself returning to this story. Why? Maybe because I'm trying to get right back to the writing hobby and what's best than to go to your roots? Or maybe it's because I just watched all of the character profiles from DJCLYVE in youtube again. Or maybe it's because it just came to me. I have to say that I now where this story is going and how it'll end. I think that's the problem. I KNOW how it ends, it came to me, I know where everyone is going now and how they'll turn out to be, so why bother writing it? Well, now I have an excuse. Seems pretty selfish, no? But there you go.
This chapter isn't as good as I wanted it to be. I think this was the hardest of them all. I knew it when I stopped writing the story that this one was going to be the turning point, so I delayed it as long as I could. Of course this isn't the ending, I don't write sad endings… for most stories. The next chapters will be everyone getting on with their lives, building up from the ashes so to speak. I think it's time, and I hate saying this, that they all grow up, because we all have to eventually, as sad as that is.