Wind Break is here! I hope it spends/wastes your time here in all the best, pleasing, and most possible ways. Review if you most please! I would adore it so!
Disclaimer: I do not own Ryoga nor any of the characters of Ranma, though the plot of this story is all my own.
In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade,
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down,
Or cut him 'til he cried out in his anger and his shame,
"I am leaving, I am leaving."
But the fighter still remains.
-The Boxer by Paul Simon
Walking three days straight with not a drop of food or drink is hard work. Especially while hoarding a heavy backpack, an even heavier weapon, and a broken heart.
Ryoga Hibiki, the sorry guy, was living proof.
Everywhere the young male wandered was a blur of sky and mountain. His sense of direction was long gone.
He stumbled forward for half a mile until his sore legs demanded he stop. Ryoga obeyed and let his body rest against a cliff face. This wasn't a good place to stay at all.
Scary things were left to worry about. Scarier than the fact that these cliffs were highly unstable. More frightening than the lack of food, life, or water. No- the scariest thing of all was that Ryoga had time to think.
It was a dangerous sport for him. When he got thoughtful, he went deep. Too deep.
Ryoga's eyes slipped closed. His chest heaved up and down with gentle movements. His every motion was slow and listless.
Death would do him better justice.
But justice was not served, and there he was, lost in high, lofty cliffs.
His whole body was burning.
Because he wanted food. Or maybe water. Anything would do. Steak, tuna, sake, noodles, curry, tofu, a whole Christmas dinner…
Ryoga raised his shirt to peak at his chest. Ribs protruded through his skin. He poked his empty belly. It growled at him. He grumbled back.
He needed someone to blame for this. There had to be some person that he could lay this all onto, besides faulting his lack of direction or general stupidity. It wasn't hard to pick a target. Just the thought of the culprit sparked anger.
Ryoga drilled his fist into the ground.
"I'll kill him..." he spat.
A wind passed by. It flung up his hair and Ryoga looked up with the pressure.
And blinked at what he saw next.
Everything was green. Vivid green. Healthy grass and cherry blossoms spread around him in endless fields. A stream trickled in the distance. Deer and rabbits grazed in fields of bright flowers.
When Ryoga took a step forward in this too-perfect world, a figure instantly appeared. Ryoga's throat clutched at the sight.
Ryoga's heart thumped in his ears. He stopped breathing. The moment was much too great. For there she was, the girl of his dreams.
She stood before him with a smile so bright, that it broke his heart again and again. She wore a simple, sunny dress that flattered her perfectly. Her cropped hair twirled around her face, and a small flush colored her cheeks.
"A-Akane," Ryoga muttered. His fingers stretched forward to touch her.
Then she was gone. All the green grass and trees vanished with her. In place of the fine dream world were the dry, jagged cliffs. A croak rose to Ryoga's throat, and his knees slammed to the ground.
A dream. A stupid fantasy.
He was too tired.
Being lost didn't help. Nor did his ravenous hunger.
He needed out.
Anywhere would do.
He was tired, sore, starving, and hadn't slept in days.
Yet he would take this all and more if he could see Akane again.
He pictured her smile, a beautiful dance on a gorgeous face. He thought of all her traits, the cheerful encouragement, her laughing friendliness.
He wanted so much to look into her eyes. He wished to stare into them again, and fly away into the pure gleam of brown, brown, brown.
A bird cawed from above and the visions melted away.
Ryoga let out a sigh.
"Get it together, Ryoga," he told himself.
But he couldn't turn his thoughts from her. He gave up trying.
"That's it." he said. "I'll see her as soon as I leave this place."
But as soon as he said it, he found his mistake.
He could never see Akane again. Ever. Doing so would hurt too much.
A flare of rage rose in his chest. His eyes narrowed as the memory struck him.
He remembered how it felt to fall at the hands of Ranma Saotome. Again.
And judging Ryoga from the twitch in his brow, and the way his fists curled and uncurled, it didn't feel good at all.
The loss itself meant nothing. Ryoga lost so many times that after some days of torment, he got over it. Defeat was just another tally. Losing her was what killed him.
For Akane Tendo, was no longer his to claim.
Ryoga had undergone months of training for that battle. His strength increased. He'd mastered numerous attacks and counterattacks of many kinds.
He challenged dojos all over Nerima for practice. The dojo signs squeezed in his knapsack boasted his skill. Not even half his strength was needed to succeed in every fight.
And yet, he lost to Ranma.
Ryoga murmured a few curses, and then got to his feet. He stared ahead and saw nothing but the set of colors in the sky.
"I was strong!" He shouted.
His words echoed across the cliff tops. He lowered his head and his eyes softened to the ground.
"I was impossible to beat. But something went wrong."
Tears of rage burned his eyes.
"What does Ranma Saotome have that I don't?"
All his emotions centered around one. The one feeling that said it all.
He never learned the rules of look before you leap. He took the all-or-nothing approach in everything. He never compromised, was never satisfied. And months before the battle, he'd come up with a plan. The way to make Akane his.
But his failure only proved him more of a loser than ever.
"Whoever loses this battle gives up Akane," Ryoga declared.
They stood in the crowded schoolyard. Curious Furinkan students sprinted from all around to watch the encounter.
He gave Ranma a smirk.
"Permanently." He added.
Shouts of wonder bounced through the lot.
Ranma just stood there with narrowed eyes. Then he crossed his arms and gave a snort.
"If she's the deal, I'd rather lose."
Ryoga gave a laugh.
"So forfeit… if you're scared. I don't mind. Just walk quietly home."
That brought giggled through the crowds.
Ranma's cheeks warmed, and he stomped his foot to the ground.
"No," he snarled. "I never turn down a battle."
Then, coolly, he added, "Even if the prize is brick woman Akane."
Nothing followed after that because Akane, who'd just sauntered past, heard her name. One punch brought Ranma flying through the air.
"Brick woman that!" she shouted.
It was apparent she missed the terms of their battle as she walked in; as usual, she only heard the insult.
The boys met seven days after the issued challenge. Ryoga had wandered off and only then rediscovered the schoolyard.
Once he got there, Ranma was ready. School had long let-out. A late glow of sunlight stretched across the pavement. Ranma waited, perched on a wall, having camped out at the school all week for this.
He was taking this as seriously as Ryoga.
He noticed the lost boy roving through nearby fields. He ran towards him.
"Yo!" He called out.
He spun Ryoga around. Ryoga blinked, surprised.
"Got lost again, bud? Good thing I was smart enough to hang around here."
Ryoga growled and threw a punch at Ranma. Ryoga's fist brought up the strands of Ranma's hair. He'd barely slipped out of the way.
"I'm not here for jokes," Ryoga said. "Let's settle this."
And they fought, the sunlight gleaming beside them. Bystanders peaked out from windows at the fight. Bystanders cried out at the sight of fast fists and loud grunts.
Ryoga didn't hold back, launching strong kicks and punches at Ranma non-stop.
Ranma darted wildly from Ryoga's advances and he avoided all the hits. But he quickly grew tired and couldn't dodge forever.
Ryoga's breathing was even, hardly stressed from the fight.
At a fury of punches, Ranma worked his hardest to leap out of the way of each launch. Ryoga broke out each hard jut with no break.
Then the one instant Ranma slowed, Ryoga landed a punch straight into his chest. It sent Ranma skidding across the dirt.
Ranma lied on the ground, twitching, and a bloody cough bubbled from his chest. He stayed like that for a full minute.
Ryoga chuckled as the hope of feat inflated his throat. He stood over Ranma.
"I really thought you'd provide more of a challenge than that," he said to him. Then he smirked.
"I guess not."
He began to turn away, just as Ranma leapt to his feet.
Ryoga felt a thick, heated aura burn the back of his neck. He quickly turned around.
Ranma was engulfed in red. It was as if fire leapt off his skin.
When Ranma stepped towards Ryoga, he felt a shiver. Ranma was dangerous.
But Ryoga kept a high chin, his fists high.
"Well," he said. "Done with your nap?"
Ranma's hair hid his eyes. Then after a moment's silence, he spoke.
"Never, underestimate me." He said. And he launched.
Ryoga leaned away but it was too late; he was caught in Ranma's grasp. Ranma's punches broke into his face and body.
Ryoga was covered in blood by the time he gained enough strength to kneel Ranma hard in the chest. Ranma folded over.
Ryoga gathered himself from the ground, and limped over to Ranma, landing three jolts in his side.
But Ranma surprised him.
He lurched upward, quick and smooth as silk. Ryoga was too hurt, too slow to avoid it, and Ranma's hard, fierce head butt shot straight through Ryoga's belly.
He let out a cry as his body ejected through the air. He dropped hard into the dirt.
The dent on that land would remain there for days, until the rain filled it up and washed the spot with grime and clay.
Ryoga tried to stand. It was a foolish act. He stumbled over immediately and fell flat into the dirt.
At first he lay there silent. Then as the battle wounds permeated through him, he let out a deep, gurgled cry.
"I…lost." He muttered to the ground. His face remained in the dust.
Time passed, and he didn't move. Ranma finally approached the fallen Ryoga and carefully laid a hand to his shoulder.
"Ryoga," he said. "You alright?"
"Don't touch me."
Ranma drew back his hand, but didn't move from his side.
"It doesn't have to be this way." He said.
"You can keep chasing the tomboy. See if I care."
Ryoga winced, and forced out his next words.
"A deal is a deal."
Ranma chewed his lip.
"Are you sure?"
"A deal is a deal." he repeated.
Ranma raised a hand, then let it drop.
"Okay." he said, and stood. "It's official."
And he walked away, leaving Ryoga to mend his broken pride.
Though Ryoga's strength was great, Ranma's speed surpassed all. His quick moves and swift punches were too much for Ryoga. And so he failed.
This deal was slowly killing him.
"His speed." Ryoga grunted. "His speed is all I lack. If I were faster, I'd beat Ranma. But it's too late now."
And it was.
He had no choice but to say good-bye. Days after the loss, Ryoga wandered into a forest and then passed through a swamp, the countryside, and a travelling circus, until he ended up on these rocky cliffs.
He couldn't find his way out.
And after using all provisions, he was famished and tired.
This was truly defeat.
Ryoga threw himself against a rock and let out a call of distress.
"Akane!" he called to the late afternoon. Birds squawked in reply. He sighed, letting his head fall and his thoughts wander.
'I've been travelling for days, trying to clear my head, but I find them jumbled as they began.'
Ryoga sighed and wiped a falling bead of sweat from his forehead. He thought back to his last moments with Akane.
They passed quickly. On his way to the Tendo house he had encountered the Cat Café and walked in silently, ignoring the stares of Shampoo, Mousse, and Cologne. There he sprayed himself with water and hurried off as a little black piglet, his bandana flying in the wind.
When he finally made it to Akane's by nightfall, she welcomed him happily.
"P-Chan!" she called, and smiled at her small friend.
He squeaked and then leapt into her arms, tears in his eyes.
"What's wrong, P-Chan?" Akane gasped.
She hugged him to her chest and P-Chan's little heart went pounding.
He sunk into her comfortably just as a shadow loomed above him.
P-Chan looked up to see the smiling Ranma. A crazy grin marked his face.
P-Chan glared and squeaked at the pig-tailed boy.
"Forgetting something, 'P-Chan?" Ranma said, and poked the piglet.
Akane whacked him away.
"Leave him alone!" she demanded.
Ranma chuckled and the piglet hid his face between Akane's chest.
"Hey!" Ranma said, snatching him from Akane and dangling the pig from his scarf.
"Watch it, Ryoga." He whispered. "It looks like your deal needs some reinforcing."
Though he hated it, Ranma was right.
Ryoga couldn't let himself fall away from what he had sworn by written oath.
Before Akane could swipe him from Ranma's grasp, the piglet freed himself and skipped through the yard and into the blackened night.
"Come back, P-chan!" she called.
He knew he could not obey. And with tears in his eyes, he ran.
Ryoga was unsatisfied.
Not only was he frustrated at losing Akane, but Ranma had to rub it in. He didn't even let him finish a proper goodbye. He suspected the jerk was more protective of Akane then he let on.
Ryoga dug into his bag and pulled out a paper. He scanned the words of the deal, written in his careful calligraphy.
'I, Ryoga Hibiki, will give up my pursuit of Akane Tendo if this battle against Ranma Saotome is lost.'
There was no mistake.
He needed someone to blame for his agony, and Ranma was his favorite target.
Ryoga stood up and wandered between the cliffs. He used his breaking point to blast out the rocks as he passed. He pretended they were Ranma's jaw.
"Dammit!" Ryoga hissed. He pulverized a rock with his bare fist.
He let his body sink to the ground, his head held down, defenseless.
"You're a sorry sight," said a voice.
Ryoga looked up with a snap. He glared around.
"Who was that?"he said.
"Do you see me?" the voice asked. There was a tease in the tone.
His muscles tensed.
He didn't recognize this voice. It was someone new. Someone female.
Ryoga leapt to his feet and looked around. He bent into a fighting stance.
Then a breeze lifted his hair. He looked up towards a high platform of a cliff above.
And then he saw her.
She was looking at him with soft eyes, but something in her face was not so soft. Was it her eyebrows, curved in at him, as if he was the one in question? Or was it that smile she wore, so alluring yet mocking?
Ryoga never saw her in his life, yet she sat there, so casual, as if they'd been friends for years.
Her legs were open wider than was proper for a girl, and her arms dropped between them. The girl looked at ease on the perch of the cliff edge. He didn't trust it one bit.
Ryoga raised an eyebrow, but stood his ground. She waited. His patience was thin. He lifted his fist up to where she sat.
"Are you seeking a fight?" he grumbled.
Her giggle curled down to his ears.
"How forward. And we just met." She said, and then leapt from the high platform.
She soared down like wind circled her feet. A wild grace swirled about her movements.
Ryoga leapt back.
"You're quick." He noted. His brows furrowed. His arms slightly lowered.
"So they say." she said, with a grin.
Nerves tingled up his spine.
This wasn't good. His recent battle was lost to the quickness he lacked. He felt wounded by speed.
She stood a few feet before him within the space. She curved her head to the side as she stared at his face.
And then he noticed the eyes.
He'd never seen that color in his life. In flowers and morning skies, maybe, but never in a pair of eyes. The color was bright, eccentric, and unusual. They could only be described as violet.
Nothing about her felt normal.
Just to prove him right, she took one step forward and was instantly beside him.
Ryoga stepped back. His stare was hard on her.
"What are you?" He demanded.
The girl just chuckled.
"Human. If that's what you're wondering."
Life couldn't get any stranger.