-1All characters TM & copyright Rumiko Takahashi.
No one was more shocked and amazed at the news that Ryoga and Akari had broken up then Akane Tendo. She had known the Lost Boy for over three years, and in that time she had come to consider him a dear friend (if she was honest with herself, he was probably her best friend, given that Yuka and Sayuri had become more and more distant as the fights between her and Ranma had grown more and more hostile), and so she was more than a little surprised on the day when she found him wandering the streets of Nerima red-eyed and sniffling. He had tearfully explained that two hours earlier he had gotten into a fight with Akari while they were having dinner and she had broken things off for good.
That was it, finito, finished. They were through as a couple, Akari had said, and she wouldn't take him back. Ryoga had broken out into fresh tears at that point and so Akane had done the only thing she could think of, awkwardly hug him, pat him on the back, and then lead him back to the Tendo house where she could at least let him cry in the privacy of her bedroom.
And so it was that Akane found herself patting Ryoga on the back as he sat in her desk chair, asking him "Why did she do it, Ryoga?"
He sniffled before speaking. "She said...she said that I was in love with another girl. And she refused to be number two to anybody."
Her brow furrowed. Ryoga in love with another girl? That was absurd. As far as Akane knew, the only members of the opposite sex Ryoga knew were the people in their social sphere: her, her sisters, Kodachi, Ukyo, Shampoo, and of course Akari. Ryoga had never shown any sort of romantic interest in the other girls (and what a dear and loyal friend he had always been to her) so who could he be in love with?
"Is that true," she asked, "is there someone else you love more than Akari?"
He scratched the back of his neck, but not in the slightly embarrassed way that Akane secretly found so cute, but in an uncomfortable way that showed he'd rather be anywhere but here. "Maybe..." he whispered.
"Maybe you're in love with someone else? Who?"
The Lost Boy hunched his shoulders, seeming to shrink inwards. "That's...um...that's not something I feel comfortable telling you."
"Is it someone I know?"
"You could...um...you could say that," Ryoga said. He was beet red and practically scrunched into a ball in Akane's chair. At first he had been thankful that he'd stumbled into Akane, thankful that she'd been their to comfort him. Now he wished he was somewhere else entirely.
"Have you told her how you feel?"
He looked up at her wild-eyed. "NO! I could never tell her! I mean, I've tried to drop hints to her, plenty of times, but I could never just up and tell her that I love her. I don't want to run the risk of her not feeling the same way."
Akane sat down across from him, looking Ryoga directly in the eyes. "Ryoga, if you truly care about this girl, then you've got to tell her. You've got to go to this girl, take her by the shoulders, tell her you love her, and kiss her. Kiss her with everything you've got."
He looked at her flabbergasted. "Akane, I can't do that!"
"You've got to. If what you've told me is true and you've dropped dozens of hints about your feelings, and she still hasn't picked up on them, then you have to tell her point blank that you care about her."
Ryoga swallowed hard, unable to look her in the eyes. "What...what if she rejects me?"
"Then at least you tried," Akane said. "And that's the most important thing. If she doesn't feel the same way, then you can make a clean break, you can know that you tried and you can move on."
He nodded slowly, still unable to meet Akane's eyes. "Okay," he whispered, "I'll give it a shot."
She smiled. "That's good, Ryoga. Really good. So when do you-"
Akane was cut off from further questioning as Ryoga grabbed her by her shoulders.
"Ryoga, what are you doing?" There was no panic or shock in her voice, just a sense of confusion with a bare hint of dawning understanding.
"Akane Tendo," Ryoga said, "I love you." He kissed her, hard.
Two years later, as the limo drove Ryoga and Akane rode away from the church they'd just been married in, Akane turned to her new husband.
"You know what, Ryoga?" she asked, smiling.
"I think that's the best advice I ever gave anyone."
He smiled, leaning in to kiss his new wife. "I couldn't agree more."
Note: Yes, this is basically one giant cliche, but it's a cliche that I enjoy.