Valley of the Wind Productions presents...
A Ranma 1/2 Fanfic by Intrasonic

> brackets denote Chinese speech

Part 9

"That's mine, old man!"
"Try and get it, boy!"
Genma cuffed his son over the head, quickly eating a piece of fish as he did so. Ranma took advantage of the brief pause to plant his foot in his father's face, inhaling a portion of rice in the process. Genma responded by grabbing his son and tossing him towards the pond. Ranma's free hand snagged his father by the sleeve, managing to drag the man along with him and into the pond. As expected, a girl and a panda surfaced, still flailing away at each other with the intensity of martial artists who were determined to eat each other's breakfast.
"Go eat some bamboo, you old fool!"
"Same to you!!!"
Genma finally over-extended a swipe, giving Ranma the opportunity to flip him head-first into a rock, providing the ideal window of opportunity. A fraction of a second later, the redhead was enveloping the remains of breakfast without bothering to use chopsticks. Another fraction of a second later, a rock bounced off the back of her skull, knocking her down into the now empty plate.
[ Insolent boy ] Genma signed upon realizing the plates were now empty.
Ranma tossed her father back into the pond, grabbing the plates before they followed. "Ha!!! You snooze, you lose, old man!!!"
[ You won't be so lucky tomorrow ]
Ranma bounced the aforementioned rock off the panda's head. "You don't even like fish when you're a panda, anyway! It don't matter what I look like when I eat!"
"Obviously not," Nabiki agreed, finishing off her own breakfast. "We should be getting to school, Akane."
Akane finished clearing her own plate, silently congratulating herself on having managed to avoid eye-contact with Ranma throughout the entire meal. Somehow, she almost felt irritated that Ranma hadn't mentioned anything yet. "I'm coming."

"So... how are you feeling?"
Akane swallowed at the question, briefly glancing behind them to see if anyone else was around. More specifically...
"Ranma will be a few more minutes while the kettle heats up," Nabiki assured her, reading the worried look on her sister's face. "You know he never likes to come to school as a girl if he can help it. So how are you feeling today?"
"He hasn't said anything," was all she said for an answer.
"True. So what did you expect him to say?"
She wasn't entirely certain herself. "I don't know. But... it's like nothing ever happened! He and Shampoo were ganging up on me last night! How can he not say something about it all?"
"Why should he? It's over with."
"Just because I don't... have that power any more-"
"That means that the whole affair is done with," Nabiki replied. "Seriously, Akane. This is Ranma we're talking about. He fights with his father for every piece of food at breakfast. He walks to school on the fences for balance practice. He gets brained by at least one of his fiancees every day. He has people challenging him all the time. What's so significant about you suddenly becoming strong enough to beat him?"
Akane offered a rueful smile. "So I was nothing special, is that it?"
"I didn't mean it that way, but for Ranma... he probably just figured that you were the next person in line. And do you see him holding grudges against anyone else?"
"I guess not."
"Of course not. It's just the way he is. It's one of those little things that make every girl in town think they'd like him for a boyfriend. And it's one of those little things that would probably make him the worst boyfriend in the world."
"Maybe you're right."
"I think I am. I can't speak for our favourite Amazon, but I don't think you should worry about having to face Ranma."
Akane swallowed. "That reminds me. I... need to make a little trip to the Nekohanten."
Nabiki raised an eyebrow. "Are you sure you want to do that right now?"
"No. But it's something I need to do."

If Akane felt nervous knocking on the door to the Nekohanten, she hoped she didn't show it. Much. If she'd been asked to put her reasoning into words, she wasn't entirely certain that she could have succeeded. But if nothing else, she was going to see a certain matter through to the end. And deal with the consequences as they came at her...
The door opened quietly.
"Good day, Tendou-girl."
"Good morning... Cologne." Akane paused, not quite certain where to start. "I... you fixed the door, I guess."
"Not a difficult thing. It happens quite often, to be honest. Is there anything that I can help you with? I'm afraid that Shampoo is out on errands right now, but...."
If Akane hadn't seen the wry smile on the Amazon's face, she would have had no trouble hearing it. "That's... okay. I... came to return something to you."
Akane swallowed, extending her hand forwards. "This... jewel. It's yours."
Cologne nodded, accepting the jewel. "Thank-you. These jewels are a treasure that belong to the Amazons as a whole, one of our many legacies. And time after time, they have served as a lesson to aspiring warriors. A reminder as to what true power is, and a reminder of what is required to achieve it."
"I... think I understand. And I'm... sorry about yesterday."
"No real harm done, Tendou-girl. And I was the one who originally misled you. Were you aware that your sister and I discussed the matter last night?"
"Nabiki told me about it. She's... not going to do anything."
"Do you understand why?"
Wordlessly, Akane nodded.
"You and Son-in-Law have grown up worlds apart, to the point where you no longer even think the same way. He has known nothing but The Art. The Art has consumed his existence to the point where everything else that he does is but an extension of it. It is the same with my Shampoo. Though they may be taught, play games, or talk with friends. they do so as martial artists. The pain and sorrow in their lives are but necessary tools to forge them into stronger people. The joy and happiness in their lives are the rewards of their dedication and serve as encouragement to further their pursuit even more. It is no mere hobby or interest for them, it is who they are at heart."
Akane looked downcast as she started to leave the restaurant. "I... I'm sure they'll be happy together."
Cologne chuckled. "You make it sound as though the two were already married, Tendou-girl. Do you really believe that Son-in-Law's problems could be settled so easily?"
Akane looked back, a slightly curious look on her face.
"I have made the two aware of a common bond they share," the Amazon continued, "but that is all. You don't really think the lunacy in Son-in-Law's life will suddenly end now?"
"Probably not."
"Of course not. Unexpected things can happen in the blink of an eye. I would not discount yourself from the race already. But you should run the race with open eyes."
Akane took a deep breath. "I... I'm not... in the race anymore."
"You can't say that for certain."
"No." Akane's voice was firmer this time. "I don't want to be. You're right. Ranma and I... aren't alike. We grew up in completely different worlds. I don't understand how... he can be the way he is. If Shampoo does, then maybe they'll be happy together."
"Are you quite sure?"
"Yes. And maybe this way, him and I can at least stop fighting all the time."
Cologne gave an approving smile. "If that is your stand on the matter, then perhaps you've come out wiser for this experience in the end. Then allow me to give one last thing for you to meditate over."
Akane blinked, not deigning to say anything.
"Look around you as you head to school," the matriarch advised. "Look at all the people around you, and try to imagine all the things that they strive towards through their day. Much the same as you, I imagine. Education, money, entertainment, food,
exercise, friendship, happiness, love... so many different things for each person. But is that really such a strange thing?"
"I... don't think so."
"Of course not. But Son-in-law would have difficulty understanding such a thing. For him, The Art is all. Anything and everything else is irrelevant in comparison to that. And still girls chase after him, thinking that they could possibly distract him."
Akane had to laugh at that, thinking back to what Nabiki had said earlier. "Maybe you're right. Maybe most of the time, he barely even knows we even exist."
"So don't get angry about it all, Tendou-girl. Just stand back and enjoy the show. Live your life the way you want it to be. Study at school, have fun with your friends, and by all means, keep practising your martial arts. But above all, enjoy your life. Is there really any point in trying to be someone else?"
That was food for thought.
"You should be getting to school," Cologne suggested kindly. "And I believe it's about time that we opened the doors of the Nekohanten again."
"I guess you're right. But thanks." Akane smiled in spite of herself. "Even for that necklace, I guess. Maybe there is something to all those thousands of years of Amazon history after all."
Cologne cackled at that. "Only for those who would listen, Tendou-girl. Would that Son-in-law occasionally saw things that way too. Have yourself a pleasant day."

It was with a lighter mood that Akane continued on her way to school. Even if she'd been almost fearing it beforehand, it had been good to get that business off her chest. She wasn't quite sure how she'd react upon seeing Shampoo face-to-face the next time, but she'd simply have to deal with that as best she could. In the meantime...
Up ahead, the school yard awaited her as it always did. Ranma was already there, and busy fighting it out with Kunou. Apparently, Ranma was once again guilty of corrupting innocent maidens with his evil charms...
Lunacy. But not her own, Akane decided with a smile. Ranma could live out his own life however he wanted to. If that entailed getting every single martial artist in the world angry or in love with him for some reason... knowing him, he probably considered it all training. But as for herself...
Akane turned to meet Yuki. "Good morning!" she greeted cheerfully.
"What's up?" the other girl inquired curiously. You look really happy."
And somehow, she was happy. "No reason. You ever have one of those days when everything just seems right?"
"So what happened?"
She would have loved to be a powerful martial artist just like Ranma, Akane reflected. But she was finally beginning to understand what she would have had to sacrifice in the process. And even looking at Yuki's bemused expression right now... some sacrifices would have been too great. "Nothing much. Life is just good, that's all."


Author's Notes:
Just about every Ranma 1/2 fan has their favourite fiancee, if you will. And they've all got their reasons for preferring that particular fiancee. I suppose that I could have just thrown together a quick little essay on my favourite fiancee, posted it up
on my site, and moved on to other things. But if someone is going to believe something, shouldn't it be put to the test? That is, if I happen to think Shampoo would be the best match-up for Ranma, shouldn't it possible to make a story along those lines?
/fanfic author's motivational crisis>

This story is the cumulation of such thoughts, and I suppose that I'm fairly happy with the result. Yes, I suppose you could say that I fall into the Shampoo-club. Although I would say it's more of an anti-Akane thing. To be blunt, the only thing I really think the Ranma-Akane match-up has going for it is the fact that it's canon. Not to discount that little fact, but the idea that Ranma and Akane could expect to live a happy, fulfilling, married life together falls along the lines of the notion that putting a wolf and a sheep together will result in mating. Pairing up Ranma and Akane is a source of comedy, not romance. The only really distinctive thing that I ever see about the Ranma-Akane match-up is the whole "Too stubborn to admit their real feelings" notion that's incredibly popular with the WAFF crowd. To brutally honest, is that sort of leap of logic only permissible with one fiancee?

The fact remains that Ranma is obsessive about martial arts. And he's going to have problems with a fiancee who is not. Akane is not obsessive about martial arts. Whereas Shampoo is the one fiancee who's consistently portrayed as a capable martial artist (Original meeting, Dojo Destroyer, Super Soba, Hot Springs Race, Pink&Link, etc). And with a Great-grandmother like Cologne, is that a surprise?

This story is basically a cumulation of those thoughts (And others). But I'd also like to put forth another question. Can a story be a romance without any kissing or marriage proposals happening? If so, consider this story to be one. Hope you enjoyed it.