Ranma was the first one to wake up the next morning.
He was stretching his arms like every morning when he realized he wasn't in his room. His hand met another person's arm on his left. Akane's arm...
"Hmm..." she mumbled, her eyelids fluttering.
The young girl rolled over in the bed, pushing Ranma out of it.
"Damn it !"
"What's... who's there ?" Akane asked, hiding her naked body under the sheets and turning on the bedside lamp.
The teenagers' eyes locked, as a million questions burst in their minds.
A : Why is Ranma in my room ?
R : Why am I in Akane's room ?
A : Why am I naked ?!
R : Did... it really happen ?
"You remember what happened as well as I do, right ?" Ranma asked, afraid that everything that had been nothing but a dream.
"I-I think I do..."
Then she smiled. So she wasn't mad. Ranma felt a wave of relief calm his frenzied heartbeats. He wanted to kiss her. It was okay now right ? They were like... a couple ? But Akane looked away and blushed.
"That's kind of embarrassing... we should get dressed"
"Y-yeah... I guess I'll go then" Ranma replied, piqued.
"No ! Uhm, you can stay here. Please"
"Whatever you like" Ranma shrugged, but he'd rarely felt so happy in his life.
They both got dressed in silence, and then Ranma slowly sat next to his fiancée. She looked beautiful, with her sparkling eyes, her tousled hair and the half-smile on her lips. He caressed her cheek with the tips of his fingers. He felt ridiculous. Never had he touched anyone like that... and it was still hard to realize that this Akane was the real Akane. Not the one from his dreams and fantasies. There would always be a tiny part of him that was afraid to be rejected by her.
Akane grabbed his hand and kissed it softly. She too, felt a little awkward. After all, she had dreamed of being with Ranma like that, so many times that it was really hard to believe that this was reality. She could kiss him, she could hug him and he wouldn't make fun of her. He loved her. As much as she loved him.
"You love me... right ?" she asked shyly.
(It was still better to make sure.)
"Yeah" he said with an almost not-shaky voice.
(It was easier to just answer the question.)
Akane giggled, turned off the lamp, and lay down on her back, pulling Ranma with her. She was cold, so she grabbed his right arm and snuggled up to his side.
"I love you too" she whispered.
They kept quiet for a long moment, enjoying each other's warmth. The room was still dark but it was getting lighter and lighter outside. Akane glanced at the alarm clock on her night table.
"Oh my god"
"What's wrong ?"
"So I'm supposed to leave in an hour..." Akane exclaimed, her voice breaking on the last words.
"Oh" Ranma said, as a horrible pain spread through his chest, as if he had just been stabbed right in the heart.
Akane felt him stiffen beside her.
"What's wrong ?"
Ranma took a deep breath.
"You're still leaving ?" he asked in a cold tone.
Akane let out an anxious sigh.
"I don't know... I HAVE to... I guess"
"You don't HAVE to do anything that you don't want to" Ranma said calmly, boiling on the inside.
He was so afraid, so afraid that she would leave him. How could he make her change her mind ? He had told her he loved her for God's sake ! He had opened his heart to her, what else did she need ?!
"But what if I... do ?" Akane asked in a very low voice.
That was it. She had killed him. Ranma closed his eyes, preparing himself to say something he'd never imagined he would be able to say :
"Then go. If that's what you really want, just go. Don't worry about me, don't worry about anyone but yourself. That's what you should do"
And he turned his head to kiss her on the forehead. This was too much, he had to get out. He had to get away from her before she could see that he was only pretending to be ok with her leaving. He jumped to his feet, just when someone knocked.
"Akane ? Are you awake ?" Kasumi asked behind the door.
"Shit" Ranma cursed.
"Y-yeah I'm awake, I'm getting dressed" Akane lied to her sister.
"What do you want for breakfast ?"
"Anything, anything's fine"
"Okay... hurry up, you don't wanna be late"
"I know. I'll be right there"
They heard Kasumi's footsteps walk away. Akane got up, facing Ranma.
"I have something to ask you -" she began.
Ranma let out a bitter laugh. It was getting harder and harder to hide his true feelings. He was about to burst, he could feel it. What else do you want ? You've stolen my heart, crushed it with your small hands, and stomped on it with your feet. What else do you wanna take from me ? My pride ? That's what you want ? You want me to cry in fronta you ?
"Go ahead" he just said, a bitter taste in his mouth.
Akane lowered her gaze, embarrassed.
"Go ahead" Ranma repeated, a little roughly.
"Fuck yeah I'm mad !" he finally let out. "I gave you all, all I had. What else do you want ?!"
"I... I want you to come with me! " Akane exclaimed, her eyes full of tears.
Ranma felt his anger vanish. He couldn't bear to see her like that. Wait... what did she just say ?
"You're asking me to come with you ?" he said in an incredulous tone.
Akane just nodded her head.
"Akane, do you realize how stupid that sounds ? Wh-what would I do in America ? What could I possibly do while you're studying, making new friends, living your new life? I'd be a burden, that's what I'd be. I wouldn't fit in. You know that martial arts are my whole life..."
He stopped, noticing the tears running down Akane's cheeks. She smiled weakly.
"You're right, that was a stupid idea"
"Seems like we both... see our own future differently, huh ?"
"Clearly... but it's so hard cuz I really... wanna be with you" she answered, biting her lips.
"Well you know what...?" Ranma said, smiling.
"When you come back... I'll be there"
"What do you mean you'll be there ?"
"It's not because you're going away for a year that we have to stop what's just started. I've been waiting for three years. What's another year?"
"Are you-sure ? Are you not gonna replace me while I'm not here ? With—"
"Don't say 'Shampoo' or 'Ukyo' or else I'll get really mad" he ordered, putting his index on her lips.
"I should be the one worrying. Probably gonna find yourself a rich American guy to go out with..."
Akane shook her head no.
"That's not likely to happen. I've already given my heart to someone else. Can never take it back"
"Akane what are you doing in there ?" cried Nabiki, "we gotta leave for the airport in 10 minutes !"
"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming!" Akane replied, angry that her sister would interrupt such an important moment.
"I'd better go... before anyone breaks into your room" Ranma whispered with a small laugh.
"Ranma... how can I... thank you?"
"Thank me for what ? I ain't done anything"
"For letting me go. For understanding what it means to me. Well, for pretending so hard..."
"Hum, you could start like this..."
He kissed her softly on the lips.
"You deserve better than me" she mumbled.
"Well it's too bad cuz it's you I want" Ranma laughed.
"I love you"
"I love you too."
The more he said it, the more natural it sounded. So he said it again :
"I love you and I'll wait for you. But please do come back... alright ?"
"I will. I promise." Akane nodded.
They kissed again, slowly, both of them wanting to make it last forever. Then Ranma opened the window, turned around to look at her one last time, and jumped out.
In her room, Akane burst into tears.
Up on the roof, Ranma did the same. He kept brushing away the tears, but they kept reappearing.
Why did I let her go ? Why would I do that ? WHY?!
A little voice in his head answered : Because you love her.
And then he understood. Sometimes the best way to show someone how much you love them is to just let them make their own choices. No matter how much it hurts you, no matter how much you hate yourself afterwards, it's just the best thing to do. Try to put someone in a cage and they'll fight to escape. Try to tell someone what to do, and they'll do just the opposite. Let someone go for a while, and they'll come back to you.
Akane will come back. I'll just have to remind myself everytime I can't stand the pain, and it'll be alright. Yeah, it'll be alright...
Note from the author : Hey ! I'm sorry it took me almost 2 months to finish this story, it's just that I didn't know myself how to end it ! Finally, I realized the same thing as Ranma, and I decided to let Akane go. It definately is something that I've experienced myself in my own life, so I feel it's a good lesson for everyone who just love someone so much that they want to "possess" them. It never works. The person's either gonna be very unhappy, or try to break free. Or both. Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this story. REVIEW and let me know if you have ideas for any future stories... :)