Ranma had spent the rest of the day in class watching Akane from his spot near the back of the room. She seemed totally unaffected by the break-up of the engagement and it really bothered him. She had been gone for two days when it had happened, but now she seemed perfectly fine. Did it really only take two days to forget everything they had been through?
Ranma was still plagued by these thoughts on his way home, he barely registered that Ukyo was still clinging to his arm on the walk home, happily chatting at him. The warning sound of a bicycle bell chimed twice but was too late for Ranma to avoid the front tire smashing into the back of his head.
"Ni hao Airen!" Shampoo greeted chipperly. "Shampoo hear break up with kitchen wrecker! Now Ranma free to marry Shampoo!" Shampoo had abandoned her bike to glomp on to Ranma's free arm.
"Shampoo!" Ranma cried, recovering from her previous assault. "Let go'a me!" He cried, struggling to remove his arm from her grip, finally realizing Ukyo was holding onto the other arm as if for dear life.
"Sorry Sugar, Ranma is my fiancé, so you'll have to get in line."
"Ucchan! Gimme back my arm!" He struggled against her as well.
Both girls glared across Ranma with deadly intent.
"Obstacles is for killing." Shampoo hissed with venom.
"Bring it on, hon."
Just then, a pail of water thrown out carelessly splashed Ranma, and Shampoo yet managing to miss Ukyo as Ranma's muscular form shrunk into a shapely redheaded woman and Shampoo disappeared and a damp pink cat took her place. Ranma sighed at his curse, before noticing the cat still clinging to his arm as his eyes grew large and his arms began flailing, flinging Shampoo free as he ran screaming, "Cat cat cat cat cat!" off down the street and disappearing around a corner as Shampoo's furry form streaked after him and Ukyo followed suit, calling after her fiancé and hoping she could find some hot water along the way.
It had been a long and tiresome escapade, but Ranma and Shampoo had finally returned to their respective forms, with the help of Ukyo and all three had wound up back at Ranma's house around dinner time.
"Ranma say 'ah'!" Shampoo chirped sweetly, holding out a bite of dinner that Nodoka had cooked for her family, unaware they would have company.
"No Ran-chan, over here." Ukyo insisted cutely as she too held a tasty morsel in her chopsticks. Ranma sat between them, fidgeting uncomfortably as his two fiancés tried to feed him dinner, competing for his attentions.
When Ranma opened his mouth to protest, the girls would pounce, shoving food into his mouth as fast as possible; good thing he had a big mouth and a voracious appetite. Genma pouted as most of the food was taken by the crazed fiances and fed to his son. Any time he tried to interfere however, he was met by the glare of Shampoo and Ukyo and would quickly be cowed into submission. By the time the meal was over and Ranma was stuffed, and he knew he needed to escape.
"Well… that was great, thanks mom… uh ladies… I'm off ta sleep, night!" He called, dashing up the stairs before one of the girls could snatch him again and slamming the door behind him.
Genma watched his sons shameful retreat and shook his head. The girls looked after him curiously, but without concern.
"Well, I guess I should get back to my restaurant." Ukyo said, then turned to Nodoka. "Thank you, Mrs. Saotome, I'm sure I'll be seeing you soon."
"Aiya! Shampoo bring dinner next time! Shampoo make too too good ramen for Husband and Mother. Panda have ramen too." Shampoo said addressing the fully human Genma.
"Or I could make Okonomiyaki! I even have my own portable grill. It's not quite an Okonomiyaki cart," she said smiling sweet daggers at Genma, "but it works well enough in a pinch." She ended with a wink at Nodoka.
"Oh my, such kind offers." Nodoka said, smiling sweetly at both girls.
"Bye-bye!" They called, walking out the door, jostling each other the whole way.
Ranma stayed braced against his bedroom door after checking that his window was locked and stayed there until he heard the front door slam shut and the voices of his two remaining fiancés disappeared. Slowly he slid down the door with a long exhale, wrapping his arms around his legs and resting his head on his knees. How did my life get like this? Ranma thought to himself, picturing Akane smiling blandly at him before walking away from him, probably forever. His hands balled into fists, clenching so hard his nails bit into his palms and his knuckles turned white. His mind unhelpfully returned to the conversation that had started everything.
"Isn't Akane cute today?"
"If you're into tomboys that are built like a brick, and no sex appeal."
"Didn't ya two get closer in China? Ya know, when you saved her?"
"I wouldn't of had to save her if she didn't keep getting herself kidnapped. Then she just kept getting in the way, that idiot. More trouble than she's worth if you ask me."
"But you two almost got married; you were going to go through with it."
"If I didn' go through with the wedding, I wasn' gonna get any of the water from the Spring of the Drowned Man."
"You love her, don't you?!"
"N-no, no I don't! I never said that!" Ranma was shouting back now, jumping to his feet, and clenching his fists. "If you like her so much, maybe you should marry her! I don't need all these fiancés and trouble!"
Ranma stared off into space as the conversation was playing through his mind. No wonder she's mad… "I am such an ass…" he muttered, hanging his head. He opened the top drawer of his dresser and moved aside a couple shirts to reveal the blue-black silken strands tied with a bow and beside it a lumpy yellow scarf. Ranma took the scarf out almost reverently and ran his thumbs over the uneven stitches, recalling the time she had given it to him.
It had been Christmas and as usual, he was being chased by his admirers and he and Akane had to flee from Kodachi, Ukyo and Shampoo. A bad landing that resulted in them crashing through the roof, Akane landing heavily on top of him, had helped them avoid their pursuers. After the moment of pain passed, he realized that Akane was on top of him, held protectively in his arms and she began to slowly sit up and came to the same realization. She blushed and scooted back, turning away so he wouldn't see her blush.
Finally with a moment alone, they were finally able to exchange gifts. She had been embarrassed by the scarf, but he had insisted that he was the only one dumb enough to wear it, stubbornly wrapping it around his neck. Her soft smile of appreciation made his stomach twist unnaturally and his heartrate sped up. He had then given her the present he had managed to keep safe during their little escape. It was a picture from a previous adventure and Akane's smile grew even larger, and her eyes took on a soft gleam as she looked at him, hugging the frame close to herself.
He had been so captivated by how cute she was that he had barely registered her words of gratitude. The pulse pounding in his ears so loud it nearly drowned her out, but he did notice as the floor began to give way yet again and he clutched her to him protectively as he used his body to cushion their fall again, landing amongst the partygoers and the women he had been trying to avoid earlier.
Later that night, once he had escaped most of the trouble, Ranma had felt bold enough to put an arm around her and pull her close. His boldness was rewarded with not being malleted and she even leaned her head against his shoulder.
He sat on his futon, holding the scarf, and running his fingers along the stitches that made up the R and S as a different voice echoed in his head.
"It's fine. I'm over it."
Ranma buried his face in the scarf, grieving his loss, having no idea how to fix it.
The eternally lost boy, Ryoga Hibiki, stumbled across a long field, exhausted and starving from his latest travels. Finally giving up, he collapsed on the ground, panting.
"Somehow Ranma… this is your fault!" Ryoga growled to the night air.
Ryoga had thought he was finally over Akane; Ranma had made his feeling for her clear and it seemed that Akane returned them. She had finally agreed to the wedding and Ryoga had thought he had been ready to let her go, even if it broke his poor, fragile heart to leave her to someone like Saotome.
His plan had been to graciously give the woman he loved to the one she cared for, even if he was a no-good scoundrel. Seeing Akane in that wedding dress had been too much and of course the lure of the Nanniichuan had been irresistible. He could have it all! He could become all man again and be rid of the pig forever, and he could get the girl. The only things he ever wanted, well, besides beating up that jerk Saotome, had been a cure and Akane's sweet affections.
Through no fault of his own, the wedding had been a disaster and the Nanniichuan was lost, but at least Akane hadn't ended up marrying Ranma. That meant there was still a chance. He would find Akane and tell her how he really felt about her!
Gathering his strength, he began to set up camp and start a fire before eating some jerky he found in his backpack. When he was done eating, he crawled into his tent, eager for a well-deserved rest.
Little did Ryoga know that he had set up camp on Furinkan High's athletic field behind the school. Things were about to get interesting because this was Nerima and Ranma's life was never simple.
Sarahplainntall here, thanks for sticking with me! I know the chapters are a bit short and take a while to get out (I work at a vet and am going to school to become a certified vet nurse) because I'm busy. But I hope you enjoy! Special thanks to SonkaD, Flameraven, Wergar82, margherita, Monelos92, James Birdsong, CuteClau, Iselaglezcam, Barbaritta24 for the reviews! They keep me motivated and make me smile, so thank you.