Part 16: Departure

Akane was holding on to Ranma's hand tightly, as she waited for her oldest sister to put breakfast on the table. It had been two weeks since she had married Ranma, and today he was leaving. Akane could find no way to get him to stay, she was fortunate that Ranma's mom had gotten Genma to delay it that much. She remembered how furious she'd been when she heard that he had been plaining to take Ranma away before their wedding night.

"Akane, ease up a little," Ranma said. Her grip was very strong.

"Sorry," Akane said. She pulled her hand away, and stared down at her lap. Soon she'd be all alone again. She would sleep alone, go to school alone, and train alone. Tears began to flow down her face.

"Don't cry Akane," Ranma said, moving to hug her. "I don't leave for another couple hours."

"I don't want you to go," Akane sobbed, as Kasumi brought in the food.

"I don't want to go," Ranma said, looking at the food. "I have no choice."

The couple just picked at their breakfast. Kasumi was worried. She'd gotten up an hour early just to make Ranma's favorite breakfast. She knew it wasn't because of the taste or looks. It was perfect as usual. No she knew why they weren't eating, and she had no idea how to fix it. This disturbed Kasumi. Her sister was hurting because her husband was going away for a three year trip and she had no way to stop it. Ranma was, in Kasumi's opinion, not that anyone would ask her, the best thing that had happened to her baby sister. In Ranma, Akane had found a confidant, a sparring partner, a friend, and (Kasumi blushed at the thought) a lover. She hoped that Ranma's absence wouldn't cause Akane to go back to the tearful, angry, emotional girl she had become after their mother's death. Well, it was Kasumi's job to make sure that didn't happen.

"Eat, Ranma, you've got a long journey ahead of you today," Kasumi said.

Ranma began to eat faster, but didn't seem to enjoy the food. As soon as he finished, he stood. "Come on, Akane. We need to spar a little."

"Okay," Akane said, unenthusiastically, before following him.

It was time to go. Ranma could put it off no longer. The Tendo house had become a home to him. It was there he had found first a friend, then a lover, and finally a wife. He had learnt how to teach, and what it meant to have family.

"Good bye Ranma," Nabiki said. "Come back soon."

"I will," Ranma said, then with a devilish smile, he continued. "I haven't challenged this dojo's senior student."

"Hopefully Dad will change that soon," Nabiki muttered under her breath.

"Be sure you get plenty to eat, Ranma," Kasumi said, hugging Ranma. "We'll miss you."

"I'll miss your cherry pie," Ranma said. "Thanks for all the good meals."

"It was my pleasure, Ranma."

Ranma turned next to Sensei Ogawa, who had accompanied his mother to the send off. "Mr. Saotome, you've been a real pleasure to teach," she said. "I hope you won't forget anything or get behind on that study plan I gave you."

"I won't."

"Just remember to listen and learn before you jump into anything, and you'll do fine," Ogawa concluded.

"I'll remember."

Next was Soun Tendo. For perhaps the first time since Ranma met his father-in-law, he wasn't in tears. Actually, Soun hadn't been crying as much since Ranma and Akane had gotten married. Soun was trying to portray the serious Master of the Art. "Ranma, promise you'll come back to my daughter."

"I will, Mr. Tendo," Ranma said. "I promise I'll return within three years to my wife."

"Then train, my son, and come back to lead the Dojo with honor," Soun replied.

His mother was beside the gate, opposite Akane. The sheaved family sword was strapped to her back, and she had a serious expression on her face. "Take care, my son," she said. "Remember your honor and be careful during your training."

"I will."

"And remember what we talked about concerning your father's training methods."

"Ask if he read the whole book, read it yourself, and make sure it makes sense before you let him try it," Ranma recited.

"Good. I don't want a repeat of the Cat Fist," Nodoka favored Genma with a cold glare as Ranma shuddered. "And don't forget to write."

"I promised to write Akane weekly," Ranma said, before turning to the last person he was leaving behind.

Akane threw herself into Ranma's arms. "Don't go, Ranma. I don't want you to leave."

"I have to go," Ranma said, looking into Akane's eyes. "It's only three years. I'll be back before you know it."

"Three years is a long time, Ranma," Akane said, sobbing. "What if something happens to you."

"Nothing is going to happen to me," Ranma replied. "I'll write you ever week. I'll tell you everything that happens. It will almost be like you're there with me."

"I wish I could go with you," Akane said, straightening up a little.

Ranma pulled her back close to him, and favored her with a deep and long kiss. Then he pulled away and said with some difficulty, "Good bye Akane. I love you."

As Ranma hefted on his backpack, and began to follow his father out of the Tendo compound, Akane stood looking at him, tears streaming do her face. The two walked out, and down the street. Before they disappeared in the distance, Ranma turned and waved. Finally, they were lost in the teaming foot traffic on the Nerima streets. Akane turned and buried her face in her father's gi, as tears streamed from her eyes.

Here Ends "A Little Earlier"

Stay tuned for "Letters from Ranma"

Author's Note

As many have noted this work needs quite a bit of revision. In particular some of the things I have a note to do, is to work in Akane's short temper a bit, give Ranma a bit more boasting towards the beginning of the story, and write more of the parent's point of view.

There is a good chance that a full revision of this story would result in a lot longer story. After all, this version was intended to only revise what was then Chapter 11: Making Lemonade. That revision resulted in two more chapters than exist in the rec arts anime creative version.

It is my intention to fix the problems that this old work has, someday, so critique is quite welcome. You find that I do try to explain why particular choices were made, and that the more specific your issues are, the more likely changes will be made.

A good portion of the sequel "Letters from Ranma" was written at the time. However, it's in even worse shape than this work, therefore it is currently unlikely to see the light of day in it's current form without a good Ranma beta, which I currently lack. As far as I know, the FFML is no longer around, or at least I can't find it to rejoin, and there is no way I could be as active as was required at the time to be a member to get the feedback that I really need as I write.

I will be adding to this author's note as critique comes in until the end of the year to let you know what specifically is on the cutting block, and what remains. This story will not be having Guest Reviews approved on it until the end of the year, due to my needing to ask questions of reviewers for that revision.