"The Chance of Change"
A Ranma ½ fanfiction by Pia-san
Authors Notes: 01 March 2015: These are long… you may just want to skip them by scrolling down :)
I've been writing this story since 1998. I was a senior in highschool then. I'm in my 30's now. That's a long time to be writing anything. I'm always amazed that the whole plotline -something I envisioned in the middle of Chilean history lessons, in a classroom where no one paid any attention to the teacher, on a day I had a nice new notebook that ached to be written on, and after devouring "Ranma's Girls" (have you read that yet? If not, please go!) for all its frustrating and obvious tension- still seems valid in my mind. I wondered how a Ranmaverse story could be so different, and yet so appealing to me. I was also about to leave high school. All the world ahead of me. The possibilities were infinite. Since then, I've been writing at an average of one chapter per year. Probably less. Thank you to all the readers that have stuck by me. I truly appreciate your support, and it's only because of you that I haven't abandoned this when it's gotten tougher to write it.
This story was always about discovering the things that really matter, as opposed to those we think matter, but don't really make us happy in the long run. Which translates to reaching maturity, maybe? It seems an important point to visit, every once in a while. During the past decade, life has gotten intense in many flanks, and the questions behind everything always remain. Why am I'm doing what I'm doing? Why do we choose to struggle and stress out? How do we let things go? What is it that we live for? And a whole bunch of etcs.
What are the things that matter? Whenever I start thinking and wondering, or something major happens, I feel like posting. I never mean to stop, really. I will finish eventually. People in the know can assure you of this. I keep posting one chapter every one or two years. But these characters grow and develop together with my life, obviously. What are the things that matter? I see myself reflected in them, in their attitudes towards life. It helps me deal with my own life, and put things into perspective. What am I waiting for? Why do I work and push myself? Why do I plan? Would I be better off without it? Would I be happier as feather floating around? Can I be a feather? More importantly, do I WANT to be a feather? Etc etc...
All these mental ramblings have obviously started during teenage years, and although perspectives change, they are still there, only less... whiny. I hope! Initially, I ached to find the answers. Hence this story. I've found lately that I'm happy to realize I have questions. I don't need the answers anymore. But it is a good, fun thing to explore. Hence this story.
I've forgotten how many times I've rewritten this. But this is the first time I'm actually happy with the result. So I think it's staying put. Although the basic premises remain the same, I believe the rewrite gives the character more humanity and consequence. It makes sense that older chapters would need more changes. But I didn't want them to lose their initial naïveté. Let's hope I've achieved this.
While yet to be posted, I'm already working on the final chapters. They're all over the place of course, but that's the one tidbit to try and keep your hopes up :). I usually need to go over the whole thing again before carrying on.
I know I've bored you to tears, but since I've had my say, please feel free to move on to the story. And thank you for reading!
This story takes place in an alternate Ranmaverse, where Akane is a year younger than Ranma, and they have never met. There are no curses, no fiancées...Not your regular Ranmaverse. This story, however, does try to explore a point that I feel is valid in any universe, be that Ranmaverses, or our own!
Chapter One: On the Beaten Path
Latest Revision: 01/March/2015
Ranma's spirits were about as high as his ankles. Not only he was late, but he'd also had an awful time the night before trying to study and heat up his brain for today's exam. He hadn't managed to get much studying done at all, since his heart wasn't really in getting the best grades he could. Mostly, he worried about his mother's wrath. But that was it. There was no way he would have been able to memorize so much in such a short time anyway. In his defense, he had tried. What made matters worse; his back was slowly killing him from having fallen asleep over his desk in the early hours in a very awkward position. The whole thing felt slightly like wasted effort.
Even this early in the morning, he'd already had better days.
Damn chemistry exam that he didn't even need. Stupid thing didn't have the slightest thing to do with martial arts anyways
Still, he kept on running to meet his fate at the hands of an ugly test.
It was good that this year was his final one, and graduation just around the corner. For a long time, Ranma had known what he wanted to do with his life. His old man quite approved, obviously. Already knew he wanted to carry on his father's legacy and teach martial arts, so his mother had advised him that if he wanted to carry on his father's legacy in this day and age, he better to go to college or something, and get a physical education degree, or something. Hence his half heartfelt concern with studying.
Only one more month to go.
With this thought in mind, he ran the last two blocks and entered the Furinkan High school grounds with a minute to spare. Most of the students were running towards the school building, but Ranma stopped to watch the regular confusion that occurred at this time of day. He could outrun them all anyway, and would still be on time to sit his exam.
Finally, finally... He got a bit melancholic as he started to slowly walk towards the main building, his book bag over his shoulder and one hand in his pocket.
Would he miss it? He looked over the school grounds with a smile on his lips, forgetting he was supposed to run to arrive on time. He hadn't actually been all that long here, except when he was a small kid, before his old man took him training. But it was more 'home' than any other place he'd ever been in. Some of his classmates had lived in the area all of his life. Ranma only had some memories from recent years.
A significant part of his lifetime was coming to an end, and he knew that it wasn't going to be easier when he made it to... wherever else he was going now. College, like his mom wanted? He knew he was still an immature boy even if his mother sometimes told him that he seemed older than he really was, at least for some things. 'The things that mattered', she'd said. For everything else, not so much. Not that he knew what 'mattered' really was. She said that he had a sense of honor no one his age had, and that he was relatively wiser than most 18-year-olds. He thought it was because he didn't have a tendency to worry about stuff not worth worrying about. He didn't really feel this was wisdom, because he'd always been like that. Or perhaps it'd been that training trip that had forced him to live with nothing but essential things. Life had had a tendency to sort itself out on those days. You'd have thought life would have been difficult, but somehow it had made things easier for him. Of course, his dad had sheltered him a bit, especially at the beginning.
There was just the one thing he thought about with some concern. He didn't want to disappoint his parents. Carrying on the Saotome legacy was s big deal to him. He took his training seriously. These things he did without even thinking about the effort involved. Studying though... that was a whole entirely different matter. Perhaps, if this had been brought up earlier on, he would have found a way to make studying part of the efforts. But by now it was a lost cause. Almost.
So his mom said he was a mature sort of kid. But then again, mothers always find their children exceptional, didn't they? That didn't really counted.
With this mental wandering, he didn't notice a couple of girls intently staring at him. But he did hear them giggling when he passed by, and tried to ignore them as he always did.
Moments later, he entered his classroom.
Akane was sitting with her usual party under a tree, waiting for classes to start. It was a warm, sunny day, and it was definitely worth it to leave home a little bit earlier than usual. She didn't know why, but she was feeling extremely refreshed today. The yearbook was almost done, and the amount of homework was diminishing, if only because they needed to study for the upcoming finals. Still, it felt like the load was easing off. Always a nice feeling.
"So, Akane. How's it shaping up?"
Akane started. "What is... what?"
"The yearbook. I've wondered, since you haven't brought it up, you know, like you usually do—" Yuka was saying.
"Until our ears bleed..." Sayuri interrupted. Akane gave her friend a glare which she ignored.
"—and we sort of figured the committee would be planning something special and extra secret. Or something" Yuka continued.
"Mmm," Akane mumbled, slightly stung. The yearbook was a big responsibility, and she took it very seriously as part of the committee. Although she had to admit her friend was right. She wasn't as excited about it as the previous two times. Akane was only stressed. "It's going to be the same as last year. What made you think it wouldn't?"
"I just heard that something was going to be different with this year's seniors"
"Oh! That!" Akane said smiling. And promptly shut her mouth.
Sayuri's eyebrows shot to her hairline, as she urged Akane to continue.
"That's not about the yearbook. The seniors made proposals for new activities before they leave school this year, and the junior class is supposed to organize everything. It's like a farewell party... farewell week… sort of."
"You mean we have to do all the work?" said Sayuri, disappointed.
"Yup," Akane nodded "but I think it'll be fun. We could have been left out altogether, you know. Besides, if things work out, I'm definitely pushing to make it a tradition!"
"Ooohh. That'd be amazing!" Yuka added, right before the last minute bell rang, and Akane and her friends had to stop her ruminations and hurry to their classroom, before she really had a chance to explain anything at all.
Akane took her seat by the window. Out of habit, she absently stared toward the gates. Her attention was piqued by a boy standing in the middle of the yard. She didn't recall having seen him before. He would probably get himself grounded if he didn't hurry…
Her attention was then turned to the teacher. She realized the man had been addressing the classroom for a while now.
"... There's going to be a whole week of special events in which the entire school can participate, and the seniors have suggested that they want revenge on some of the underclassman, or so they have phrased it. So that week's activities, apart from a small carnival, and a day of competitions, will include what the upperclassmen are calling a 'Senior Vengance Day' also."
"A 'Senior Vengance Day'. They will be publishing a 'black list' list of people that need to be 'taken care of''". The teacher continued, Akane couldn't tell whether he was in support of the idea or not. After all, it was authorized -although regulated- bullying. She'd heard some of the teachers in staff had been very reluctant to agree to that part of the end of year activities. Everything else, the stands, the games, the competitions… like a different sort of Carinval, everyone seemed fine with all of that. But 'Senior Vengance Day' was a different matter. "All of the students will run the risk of getting soaked, floured, showered in vinegar or have eggs thrown on them..."
"Are they allowed to do that?!" someone squealed with indignation, while someone else hooted their approval, eliciting a few giggles from the group.
"This year, yes" the teacher replied, "And if everything turns out okay, you'll have the same chance next year."
A general murmur could be heard all over the classroom.
Akane was silent. She'd already known about it, of course. There was going to be an article on the yearbook highlighting the end of year activities. She was certain she would be chosen to organize part of all that. She always ended up getting picked for that sort of thing.
Since the confusion was general, Akane thought shedding some light on things would be okay. She raised her hand.
"Well... This whole thing... It's supposed to be fun, kind of like a little war inside the school. Nothing too serious! 'Senior Vengeance Day' sounds okay to me..." And then she added with a grin, "Plus, no classes that day".
Another murmur could be heard, a more positive one. Not that she truly believed what she'd just said, but it was better if people were on board. Maybe she was right; it could be fun playing "hide and seek" for a day.
"Okay! Quiet, everyone! I'm not finished, yet!" the teacher demanded. "Let me explain it a little better. People mentioned on the list will receive special treatment, but there are still rules for this. There's going to be a girls list and a boys list. To put it simple, girls take care of girls, and boys take care of boys. We don't want any misunderstandings here..."
Yet another murmur could be heard... a really disappointed one.
"Also, like I said, water and flour is as bad as it gets. Principal Kuno will shortly be announcing who in this class will be part of the committee in charge of the carnival."
Akane wasn't surprised when she heard the wacko principal mention her name a few minutes later on the Public Address system.
"Senior Vengeance Day?" Ranma asked, confused.
"Yeah" Daisuke said, "We get to kick some ass this year. Yeahhhh!"
"Uh huh. Wait 'till I get my hands on that Gosenkugi guy." Hiroshi added with an evil look on his face.
Ranma continued to eat his lunch quietly as his friends spoke.
"I wonder, can we can go after any girls, too?"
"Nah… wouldn't count on it. I bet the principal will forbid it…" Ranma pointed out.
"How dull…" Hiroshi sounded disappointed.
"But you never know. Maybe we could get some damage done in the general chaos…"
Grins touched their faces. Suddenly, Hiroshi and Daisuke burst out laughing.
"What about you, Saotome?" Daisuke asked.
"What about what?"
"Who'd you write down on the list for SVD?"
"You mean… to kick or to grab?" Ranma asked smiling lopsidedly.
"Hehehe…" Hiroshi started to laugh again.
"You know what I mean…" Daisuke said.
"Ha. Yeah, dunno. Haven't even thought of it…"
"What? I just can't believe you, man. You're only the most popular dude around" Daisuke sounded hurt. "The ladies will be disappointed."
"Yeah. You're just an offense to us men of the world!" Hiroshi added.
"Oh! Come on, you guys. It ain't like that. Gimme a break already. You haven't met any of them. It's not like they really like ME. They just sort of—" Ranma struggled to find the right way to put it, "They just giggle at me, you know" Ranma said.
"Ooooohh! You're so full of shit! Oh, sorry! I meant yourself! You're so full of yourself!" Hiroshi gesticulated wildly, while Daisuke laughed.
"So what if they giggle? Giggling is cute!" Daisuke tried between fits, "I wish a giggling girl would confess to me…"
"I dunno, it's like they're afraid of me or something. And if they get past the giggles," Ranma tried his best to ignore the fact that he wanted to punch Hisoshi, "if they get past the giggles, they get bored with me, I guess. Or maybe they like that I paid attention to them. It's usually been a lot about them being around with me. It's not like they really like me…" Ranma defended himself.
"You really are full of shit." Hiroshi complained once more while Daisuke wailed, "Does it matter?!".
Any more disturbed and they would have passed out from shock.
"It's just that… it gets boring, ok?"
Ranma was starting to feel weird. His friends were fast going into their female worshipping personas, that very rarely failed to make Ranma feel quite uncomfortable, and becoming louder by the second. He could feel the eyes turning in their direction.
"Does it matter?!" they asked yet again.
Ranma just sighed and turned his attention back to his bento.
"Oh, man! I wish I could kick your ass instead of Gosenkugi's!" Hiroshi grabbed Ranma by his neck, and started mock punching him.
"Oh, yeah! It'll be your name in that list if you don't cut it out!" Ranma fought a little and was free again. He looked suddenly murderous, "And you know I can beat the crap out of you, see how well that'll work out!"
The other two backed away instantly and raised their hands in defeat.
"Fine! Be like that!" Hiroshi protested as he folded his arms over his chest.
"Good," Ranma relaxed, "thank you."
"Yeah, whatever…" Hiroshi answered nonchalantly, and added "I still want to kick you for it, though."
"Yeah… You'll probably get laid way before we do!" Daisuke said matter-of-factly.
"Hey!" Hiroshi protested, "Speak for yourself!"
And it went on and on and on…
Ranma suppressed a sigh.
Now the topic would most likely drift to his experiences, which his friends considered to be extensive. Was it? He wasn't so sure.
And back to hitting and punching him again.
With a slight tinge of bitterness, Ranma thought that this routine was getting a bit old.
He was uncomfortable with his friends' jealousy. It was nice to have girls flirt with him, a real ego boost; and it was sort of true that he got ambushed a lot with shy confessions, and it sure as heck felt like a little nuclear bomb in his chest when one didn't pay attention when he wanted her to, which had only happened once. He was quite confident and self assured. He mentally patted himself on the back at that. It made his life so much easier. What annoyed him was that none of the girls ever really tried to get to know him, although he was certain that if they did, they wouldn't flirt nearly as much.
It wasn't as if he was picky. The only thing he really wanted in a girl was sincerity, he liked to think. Or a nice personality.
That and looks. And boobs, obviously. A nice ass wouldn't hurt either. But that went without saying. But all that could be set aside sometimes. Almost every girl he'd been around with had been very worried about their appearance. It'd happened when he was much younger, and him and his pop had stayed at smaller villages for longer periods. Perhaps because they'd been the new people in town or whatever. But it seemed like the local girls would just float into his general direction. Actually, these girls weren't so bad.
But when they'd gotten back to the city for good… That was when Ranma had seen a sort of pattern. In general, it wasn't such a bad thing for them to care about how they looked, especially because the results could be very nice to look at and fantasize about. But they were so caught up in it that he'd never gotten to actually know them.
Maybe it was his own fault for getting so tempted by the lookers and being so over confident of his impression on them. There'd been a few girls in high school, the first two years. What was he to do? They confessed, he thought they were pretty, and they started to hang out. And see what happened. The point was that nothing happened, really. Nothing was ever serious after all, at all. And lately… Well, lately he'd been feeling rather... lonely. Or isolated. Even from his friends. Sure, girls paid a lot of attention to him even now. But he didn't find it as exciting as he did a while back, when anything that moved would get his attention. And if it moved, and it was pretty... well. And he'd started to lose interest in this little scene with his friends. It was like they didn't have many things in common anymore.
Maybe he did need a change of pace. Or place. Going to college would help, probably. There'd be new people, for sure. Some with similar interests? And maybe some interesting new girls, too. Not that he was desperate. He wasn't complaining, really. But it would be... nice.
He suddenly felt a prickle on the back of his neck. His training told him to pay attention to these things. And he was good at listening to his instincts. He was sure someone was tracking him. He turned his head around, searching. And sure enough, there they were, a pair of eyes staring intently at him...
"Yeah, Akane! Since you're in on organizing this, you better team us up with some of the cute guys!" Sayuri giggled.
"Is she allowed to do that?" Yuka timidly asked Sayuri, as if Akane wasn't really there. Because she wasn't, not really.
Her mind had wandered far away from them.
She would be very busy until the carnival was over, but she wasn't worried about it. There were lots of other people helping and organizing, and some of the seniors had volunteered to help out after all. She usually wound up in charge of the committees she was picked for, but since there were seniors involved this time, they would probably be chosen as the leaders instead.
It kind of bugged her that she always seemed to end up responsible for everything, but she had to admit that it was her own fault. Whenever the task at hand was difficult, she got impatient when other people didn't pay attention to the job. In the end, she always figured she could handle it better. While it was stupid for her to act like people wouldn't be able to handle something as well as she could, she just couldn't seem to stop herself. It was a fault in her personality, and although it helped her to be efficient in her tasks, she wished she wasn't so… uptight about certain things.
She tried to shake off her moodiness. Akane needed to be thinking of different games and booths to put up for the carnival. The first meeting was going to be right after school this afternoon, and she had to have some ideas. Maybe one of those dunking tanks, and a goldfish-catching booth? They would need some competitions, too. A 'who can eat more' contest was always fun... Then there'd be the general games, where all teams would be competing to fulfill some task. What could those be?
It was definitively going to take a long time to put things together, time that they didn't actually have. That meant putting in lots of extra work hours to finish up on schedule.
On reflection, she thanked the gods that the seniors would most likely bear the responsibility. Even with all the people they had to help, this would be hard to pull off if they didn't get properly organized.
Her mind wandered to thoughts of the senior class. What would it be like, to leave school forever? Something about the idea disturbed her, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. Still, in a few weeks she would be a senior herself, and really feel what it was like to know that in a year school would be over for good.
Akane's eyes drifted over the different people having lunch in the yard, looking for seniors. She spotted a couple of girls talking and laughing. They seemed like grown women to her, except for the school uniforms they were wearing. So at ease and comfortable with themselves. So feminine. Somehow, Akane couldn't picture herself as an adult. Ever since she was little she had watched the older girls on their way to school. She'd always marveled at how 'grownup' they looked. Now that she was that age, she felt she still had a long way to go before she looked like those girls.
Guys though… now that was a different story.
Her eyes fell upon a couple of boys laughing at something. Yeah, especially like those two. There was a third one with them who was not sharing the joke. It seemed his attention was somewhere far away. There was something very out of place.
It was almost as if the other two looked even more childish sitting next to that red shirt guy…
Wait. Red shirt? She took a closer look.
Wow. He wasn't even wearing a school uniform! Instead, he had a Chinese-looking outfit on, and he had a pigtail instead of the regulation haircut the principle insisted on.
Then she remembered she'd seen him this morning, late for class. Akane thought it strange that she hadn't noticed him before, considering his clothing made him stand out so much. She hadn't really noticed his outfit this morning, either. She should have been more observant than that; and there was another thing that she should have noticed right off.
He was very good looking…
He was eating very slowly, which made him seem more distant, as if he was so busy thinking that he didn't really know what his body was doing.
Then he spoke a few words, and the other two yelled something at him, then he spoke again, and the others yelled again. If she hadn't been so busy looking at him, she might have been able to make out the words, but she didn't really care. Akane was mesmerized.
They made a strange picture, really.
One of the boys started punching and hitting him. The aggressor's face was distorted by the incredible amount of words that were coming out of his mouth. The third boy just couldn't stop laughing. He had to lay his upper half on the table to keep from falling from the bench. His face was all red. Akane could only guess from some of the words she could make out, they were talking about girls. And they weren't exactly nice comments. Not that she was surprised, really.
Akane found herself feeling strangely glad that the red shirt boy wasn't laughing his head off at his friend's speech. Instead, he just answered a few words every now and then and shrugged his shoulders. More than anything, it looked like he was not very happy with the situation. Akane tilted her head lightly. In that scene, he just seemed to be so...
"...misplaced" Akane mumbled, voicing her thoughts.
In the next second, before Yuka asked her what it was that she'd just said, the boy's blue eyes (blue!) were suddenly turning on her. Akane felt a little lurch in her stomach and averted her gaze for a second, but looked right back up. She felt a sudden urge to... something… to him, talk? Maybe? She wanted to ask what had him so distracted...
"Hey, Akane! Are you even listening?" Sayuri asked, a little offended that her monologue was all for naught. It'd been running on the background for a while, now.
Akane nearly jumped out of her skin.
"Huh? Oh... sorry..." she whispered, and unashamedly and quite uncharacteristically for her, returned her attention to the boy, who hadn't looked away either.
It didn't take an instant, and Yuka and Sayuri had managed to grasp the situation very clearly. They looked at each other and then followed Akane's gaze, trying to figure out what was it that could grab their friend's attention so effectively.
Yuka giggled excitedly, distracting Akane.
"Ohhh, Akane... you would get his attention" Sayuri smiled.
Akane found herself at loss of words. Her normally rational thoughts seemed to be completely scattered, so instead she looked at her feet and blushed, her fingers absently playing with a strand of long, black hair.
"I didn't know you had a thing for Saotome-kun", Yuka said, curiosity evident in her soft voice.
"Who?" Akane asked, recovering.
"Ranma Saotome, that cute guy you're ogling." Sayuri said matter-of-factly.
Akane looked up at the guy again. Ranma. Saotome. He wasn't looking at her anymore. She felt both relieved and... disappointed. Was that even possible?
"It's about damn time you noticed a guy!" Sayuri said. "Or maybe it's been a secret crush for ages…" She clasped her hands together, "Wouldn't that be romantic! Akaneee! Is that it?"
"Do you know if he dates?" Yuka asked. "I heard he's always being confessed to."
"I don't think he's dating anyone."
"That's odd, considering how popular he is."
"Yeah, I've heard he used to, tho. Even older girls, when he was an underclassman..."
Yuka and Sayuri continued talking about Ranma like Akane wasn't even there, as she tried to pull herself together, all to no avail.
Latest revision: .2015
Just to remind you, I was only 16 when I first wrote this, so please be kind… I've revised it a lot. Tried to keep the essence, while making it seem less cartoonish.