Twin Hearts

Twin Hearts

Ranko's heartache, Ranma's hate

By: Shotorin

Disclaimer: Ranma 1/2 is a trademark of Rumiko Takahashi and VIZ Communications, and its characters have been borrowed without permission. This story was written for non-commercial purposes only.

Chapter 4: Hyoushou

Ranma's blood boiled, his eyes promised death upon Hyoushou. It was far more than hatred that shown in Ranma's eyes then, it was complete and utter contempt and loathing. Past images of a younger version of the young man that stood before him swam through his mind.

"Ranma!" Akane's voice split the air, breaking the spell that captivated the three martial artists. Ranma closed his eyes and took a deep, slow breath. His battle aura dissipated as he let it out, and he backed the few steps to stand beside his sister.

By then Akane had alighted the rooftop but Ranma scarcely noticed, his eyes were still locked on Hyoushou.

Ranko had not noticed Akane at all; her breathing was shallow, her breath refusing to come steady. She stood completely still, her mind replaying memories of emotions she had locked away long ago. Memories of a touch she had dreamed of for months after arriving in Nerima left her even more shortened of breath.

"Ranko?" Akane's voice sounded as though it came from a great distance, and it took Akane another three times to get her attention. "Are you all right,"

Ranko felt a trickle of sweat run slowly down her cheek. "No," her voice trembled as she spoke, she felt unsteady. "Ran…" she could say no more, unconsciousness snatched her from the waking world well before she took a step forward to steady herself. Before all of her senses failed her, however she picked up on the beautifully intoxicating smell of lavender.

The first of Ranko's senses to return was her hearing. At first things were muffled so she could not recognize specific words or voice, however when she finally did recognize a voice she was shocked at the first she heard. Though she could not distinguish any actual words, she could however hear his voice. The second voice was far from a shock, as Ranma seemed intent on assaulting Hyoushou verbally.

The second sense that returned was her sight, as she attempted to open her eyes. She closed them almost immediately however as the lights turned out to be a little too bright for her. After a few minutes, she slowly opened her eyes letting them adjust to the light gradually.

Her sense of smell returned last of all, and as it did, Ranko was gradually flooded with the same beautifully intoxicating scent that had been present when she slipped into unconsciousness. Lavender wrapped itself around her, and as she looked around, she realized that it emanated from Hyoushou.

She looked him over curious of the obvious changes in him, though it had been years since she had last seen him. His hair, which had been cut short when she had last seen him, was now more than long enough to pull back into the ponytail that he had it in. Currently it draped over his left shoulder. He had taken off his shirt sometime, she noticed and the sleeveless t-shirt he wore did nothing to hide the outrageous muscle tone that he had developed. Stray thoughts began to run through her mind, the first being how different Hyoushou looked, and the second being how good he looked.

It was a few minutes before she remembered that Ranma was yelling at Hyoushou, but when she did, it was when she began to actually distinguish words.

"So exactly why the hell are you here?" Ranma was shouting.

"You'll find out in time," Hyoushou replied calmly, this only seemed to provoke Ranma.

"LEAVE NOW," he snapped.

"Ranma shut up," Ranko shouted at her brother, or tried to her voice was horse but even so, it was enough to shock Ranma into silence. "You're giving me a headache."

"I think its time that I leave for now." Hyoushou stood to leave.

"No, don't," Ranko turned her gaze to him and sat up. "I want to talk to you for a bit."

Hyoushou gave her a strange look; however, it was one that seemed vaguely familiar to her. It sent a thrill through her, and the very faintest hint of a blush spread across her cheeks. "Are you sure," his usually stoic expression gave way to the briefest hint of concern.

Ranko nodded. "Yeah, just give me a minute and we can go for a walk."

Ranma had a dark expression on his face as Hyoushou left the room.

"What are you doing?" he asked the second he was sure Hyoushou was out of earshot. "The sooner he leaves Nerima, the less we'll have to deal with in the long run, Ranko."

"Yeah like you're one to talk," Ranko shot back, "I want to know a few things alright?"

Ranma looked like he wanted to continue to argue, but quickly resigned himself to backing down. There were just some fights that were better off not fought, he knew, and one with Ranko with the look she was presently giving him was a sign that this was one of them.

"Just be careful, 'kay," Ranma sighed, he did not like where things were going, but for now it was best to let Ranko do as she pleased. Ranko nodded.

Hyoushou was waiting for her just outside of the Tendo home when Ranko exited the residence.

"So you ready to go?" Ranko asked, as the door shut behind her. Hyoushou nodded but did not speak.

The two walked in silence in several minutes before either said anything, it was Hyoushou who finally broke the silence.

"It's been a while, Ranko," he began, a slight hesitation coming across his emotionless tones. "Since we've been alone like this."

"So it is true?" Ranko stated more than asked, however Hyoushou took it as a question.

"That we were once a couple?" he replied to her question with another. "Yes it is true, though your brother's hatred of me put a stop to our relationship."

"I'm sorry to say that I don't remember." Ranko said looking away from him as they continued walking. "I don't know the reason but I do know that it may have been the reason that I fainted earlier."

Hyoushou said nothing; however, his shoulder slumped somewhat guiltily as an unbidden memory flashed across his minds eye. Ranko noticed.

"You know don't you," Ranko asked, well more like stated, her voice somehow steady although, her heart raced. "You know why I can't remember don't you?"

Hyoushou's heavy sigh was all the answer she needed. "If you want to know, ask your father." He paused then added. "Then again you could always ask your brother, he knows why you can't remember as well."

Ranko stopped dead her eyes betraying the rest of her body as they went wide in surprise.

Ranma was leaning against the far side of the dojo wall when Hyoushou entered, neither looked surprised to see the other, in fact Hyoushou looked pleased. He looked dead at Ranma and said clearly, "you know why I'm here." His voice seemed to lack any emotion.

"You can't have her," Ranma's tone was cold. "I won't let you have her."

"You won't let her make the choice for herself," Hyoushou replied, "is it the fear of what she will do with the ability to choose that we fight, Ranma?"

"No," Ranma replied slowly, his icy tones dimmed but still present. "I just hate you that much."

"Then there is no helping it," came Hyoushou's sorrow felt reply. "From this moment on, we are enemies Ranma Saotome."

"From this moment on," Ranma began, in an instant he had crossed the distance between him and Hyoushou and grabbed the latter by his shirt, easily lifting him and shoving him roughly against the wall. "If you make a move towards her, I will not hold back."

Hyoushou merely smiled that cold smile of his, "kill me if you choose, Saotome, though I doubt that she will approve."

"Killing isn't beneath me, Hyoushou." Ranma warned, his gaze seemed even colder.

"I heard about Jusendo," was Hyoushou's even reply. A hand rose and lay gently on Ranma's own, before squeezing and forcing Ranma to let him go. "However I am not Saffron, and I will not allow you to stand between me and her."

Hyoushou turned and departed from the dojo, however before leaving he paused at the door. "I won't let you stand in my way again, Saotome, Ranko will be mine."

The morning air was crisp as Ranko lightly padded across the floor of the dojo. As always her nodachi was strapped to her back, the large sword was nearly as long as she was tall. The handle ended around her ear, and the lowest point of the blade stopped just above her knees. When sheathed and set on the ground the sword was more than long enough for Ranko to use as a cane.

Ranko smiled a grim smile as she set up some boards on cinderblocks that rested in a corner of the dojo. In all she set twelve boards, one stacked on top of the other, on the cinderblocks. If only her father and brother knew the true depths of her ability as a martial artist.

Pop might not have named Ranma as the heir to the school, Ranko thought as she prepped for the break, if he knew just how many techniques, I have mastered over the years. Several of Ryoga's attacks came to mind at the thought, all of which had given Ranma trouble at one point or another; on top of that, she had added several chi attacks of her own design. However, none of these techniques was she more proud of than her mastery of Kyokushin and Penkat Silat. Though she had had her share of bouts since arriving in Nerima, she had never had the need to reveal her strength with either technique.

Ranko took a slow breath, letting it out even more slowly than she took it. The power that blazed in her eyes as she stepped up to the boards was nothing short of shocking.

Her shout of exertion echoed throughout the empty dojo, quickly followed by the clatter of wood hitting the ground. As the sound of her shout faded, the sound of gentle applause caught her ears.

"Hyoushou," Ranko did not have to look at the doors to know that it was he that stood there. Though she could feel his energy, she needed have had to know that it was he that watched her.

"So that you know," Hyoushou began, as if he had not been watching her. "I came to Nerima for you, Ranko Saotome." Just as suddenly as his presence came to her it was gone, as he was when she turned to look where he had been standing.

A flurry of images, long ago buried rose to the surface of Ranko's mind. Hyoushou, she thought, why can't I remember you?