I do not own Ranma 1/2 or any of the characters depicted herein. Those rights belong to Rumiko. However, any I add do belong to me…
All I can tell you is that I am in a bad way right now and needed to release it in the best way I know how…and that's through my favorite character in the anime universe.
It was summertime in the month of August, the weather hot and dry with seemingly no relief in sight over Japan. Of course, in other parts of the world drought was taking hold: the price of corn rising and raising food costs; the Mississippi river dwindling away to nothing… But if one was to go to Nerima, Japan and visit the Tendo estate, they would meet one person who didn't have much time to worry about the world's problems since he had his own personal problems with emotional scars that no one could understand or even see.
The Tendo estate is a rather large location within Nerima, Tokyo and one of the most well-known homes. It included a sizable house with an adjoining dojo and a white wall spanning the property's boundaries with one gated entrance bearing a sign that read: "The Tendo Dojo, home of the School of Indiscriminate Grappling," which was similar to the art the other family that shared the home, the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts.
Fall leaves had started to turn and fall to the sidewalk in the backyard of the estate, the koi pond shimmering in the light of the sun. A lone figure with a pigtail sat looking to the water. He was a young man, his eyes a steel grey. His clothes consisted of a pair of blue silk slacks and a red Chinese-style silk shirt that was unbuttoned, revealing a white muscle shirt that showed off his chiseled chest. His feet bare and nearby sat a dusty traveling pack. The Tendo home itself showed little signs of life, since the family and almost everyone else they knew—including the Amazons, the Kunos and the other fiancées—had all left on a trip to China. Wait, why wasn't Ranma with the family as they headed to China, you ask? I mean, it seems like the perfect time to try and get the curse cured. Genma probably did all he could to encourage his son to go along; however, on the day of their departure, Ranma had ditched them at the airport to get some time to himself away from fiancées and family.
Ranma continued to stare into the koi pond, casually reaching over to pick up a small, flat stone. He proceeded to skip it across the water, where it bounced three times before dropping below the surface. It settled at the bottom, causing a koi to swim to it rather quickly before swimming off to the other side of the pond. Watching this, the boy sighed to himself. Depression weighed heavily on his shoulders. He finally stood up from his spot, picking up his pack and heading for the house. Upon entering, he listened for any signs of life. Noting none could be heard, he let a bittersweet chuckle escape his lips as he headed to the guest room; his feet barely made a sound as he walked. Once he finally entered the room, he tossed the pack down next to his rolled-up futon and turned to go to the dojo.
The inside of the Tendo dojo was what one could expect of a traditional design: the school motto was properly displayed on the wall and two large sliding windows stood at the very back, facing the street. A door for challengers to enter was also in the back, as it was located just next to the street. Ranma entered the dojo, reaching over to turn on the lights. However, he sighed to himself since nothing happened and it remained somewhat dark. 'Yeah, that's right. They turned off all the power to save money while they were away,' Ranma reminded himself. Looking around, he padded further into the large space. Ranma soon turned his gaze to a small break in the wall that could be seen thanks to the light of the dojo's windows. Walking over to the crack, he placed his hand over the break, remembering how Akane's delicate but powerful left fist broke right through the wood panel.
~My name's Akane. Want to be friends? I am just so glad you're not a boy.~ Those words rang through his thoughts as he reminisced about his first days at the Tendo dojo and meeting the girl who would be his fiancée and possible wife for the rest of his life.
"'Friends,' she said… haha," Ranma chuckled lightly to himself. He staggered momentarily, falling to one knee, as a sparkle of a tear fell from his right eye. Quickly wiping it away, he forced himself to stand, his heart aching and the back of his throat feeling as if it had been closed off by some unseen force. He shook it off before going into a regime of varying kata to try and deal with years of regrets and pain and sorrow. After what seemed to be hours, Ranma finally called it quits and heading back to the house, punching the door frame of the dojo as he left in frustration. Upon entering, he found the kitchen and turning the cold water faucet. A screeching sound was heard from the pipe, yet nothing came out…not even a single drop.
"Damn, guess they turned everything off," Ranma noted to himself. Walking out of the kitchen, he sat down by the table. Lying his head down, his stomach growled in protest to remind him it needed food. He raised his head, standing from the table and walking back upstairs to the guest room. Once there, he immediately dumped out his pack, searching through its holdings and tossing things to the floor. He then turned his attention to the closet. Opening it, he found a white piggy bank his father used to store change. He dumped its contents, only for dust and lint to fall out.
The raven-haired boy sighed to himself. Stand up from his spot, he then headed out of the guest room and quickly arrived at the door to the room of the middle sibling of the Tendo sisters. The sign on the door read "Nabiki." Ranma started to reach for the door handle; however, he pulled his hand back as if it were a viper ready to strike. He quickly clenched his fist.
"You're better than that," he chided himself as he headed back downstairs. Walking outside, he found himself at the koi pond once more. Ranma reached down, cupping his hands to collect some of the pond water. Bringing it over his head, he let it pour down on himself. His transformation happened in an instant. Emotions that were already heavy suddenly seemed to rush back in full force. His female side, for whatever reason, always caused things to become amplified when depression reared its ugly head. He, now she, stood up and headed for the house yet again. Once inside, she then crossed through the first floor, exiting via the front door. As she moved down a familiar street, the aromas of foods carried on the wind attacked her sense of smell. Finally, after thirty minutes of walking, she found a familiar dumpling stand. The gentleman running it was a large individual; his mustache reminded her of Soun, but older. He was busily tending to his craft, soon turning his deep brown eyes towards her.
The man gazed skeptically at the familiar redhead. He noted her usual cheerful smile and sparkling blue eyes had been replaced by sad, dull ones. Her outfit seemed dull as well, as if it needed to be washed. Of course he knew by now that the girl in question was really a boy (though he played ignorant, casually cutting the gender-bending martial artist a break here and there).
"You okay, miss?" came the cook's concerned words while Ranma stepped closer to the stand, looking over the menu. Her hands were held in front of her stomach as she twiddled her index fingers.
Ranma tried to give a falsely cheery smile. "Neh-no, nothing's wrong…I was, well…you know what? Forget it." She then turned to leave.
"Now, hold on a minute. You forgot your money at home again, didn't you?" the cook called to the fleeing girl.
Ranma swallowed, turning to face the man before giving a slight nod. "Yeah. Kinda was hungry and left without grabbing my money before heading here."
"Ah. Well, you're in luck. I just happen to have some extra potstickers I was just about to throw out if you want them," the cook offered, fully aware that the redhead in question was lying to him. He had gotten to know her as time went on and felt deep sympathy for her.
Ranma eyed the man, her expression turning slightly cheerful. "You sure, Mr. Yamagi? I wouldn't want to take from your sales."
"There's that smile. And yes, I'm sure, kiddo," Yamagi replied as he packed up some dumplings and grabbed a bottle of tea to go with them.
Ranma just watched on as her acquaintance worked, taking the drink in hand that he offered along with the box containing the food that she craved. The aging cook the gazed at her expectantly. "Thanks, Mr. Yamagi I appreciate this. I'll make sure my brother comes by to pay for it later."
"Anytime. Tell him hello for me, won't you?" Yamagi requested as he watched the young redhead dash away from his stand.
As she left, Ranma called back over her shoulder, food and drink in hand. "Yeah, sure, I'll tell him when he gets back from China."
Moving on, the redhead soon arrived at a familiar park. Finding a spot by a fountain, she sat down and started in on her meal. Her gaze settled on a familiar trashcan into which she and her fiancée had been tossing trash shortly after leaving Dr. Tofu's office and having an argument. Her gaze fell to her food as she ate slowly, taking small sips of her drink between bites.
"Why do I do these things?" she questioned herself out loud, pain piercing deeply through her heart as she thought on how she obtained her food. Her thoughts flooded with images, even the painful truth that it was her who was partly to blame for Ryoga's curse: a simple mistake of not paying attention while chasing her father.
Ranma continued to eat despite her thoughts. Finally finding the box empty, she tossed it to the ground and leaned back against the park bench. 'Why must I always lie to protect myself? And why can't anyone ever believe me when I am telling the truth? Why must I be ashamed every time I am a girl? Why do I still have to worry that my own mother is going to take my head nearly every night if I don't measure up to being a man among men? Why can't that tomboy ever listen to my side of the story for once? Why can't Pops stop being a trainer and be a father? And why can't I make my own fucking decisions?' she asked herself bitterly.
She had watched her peers with whom she attended school, their lives seeming to play out so easily…couples loving in secret and on their own while others worked small jobs, seemingly happy with the money they made to buy games or go to concerts. They had choices and opportunities to do whatever they wanted. What did she have to look forward to? As far as she was concerned, nothing at all. Unlike her peers, she never had a choice. Every decision was made for her. The only thing she had going for her was her prowess in the Art, a testament to her father's legacy. The sole heir to the Saotome School of Anything Goes Martial Arts…a path that was forced on her from the age of five (though to be more realistic, from the time she was born).
"Nothing good ever really came of any of it," Ranma lamented, as all the Art seemed to bring her were more problems. It left her with a phobia of cats, an animal she once loved as a young child, a female curse that was the source of endless criticism from her father for nearly four years, an entire brigade of fiancées and other unwanted suitors, not to mention all the various enemies she had made along the way without even trying to. Her hands were left stained with the blood of the lord of the Phoenix tribe, Saffron. Though he wasn't truly dead and had been revived, she couldn't shake the fact that she had killed a man…something she swore never to do. Yet somehow fate made her break that promise, though she almost broke it once before when it came to Mikado, who had forcibly taken her first ever kiss that should have gone to the one she finally decided to marry when the time was right.
Ranma set her tea on the ground before lying down on the bench and closing her eyes. Her chest rose and fell as she breathed in and out. "No one truly cares about what really happens to me…they just go through the motions," she told herself in a mere whisper. 'I could be raped in my female form and left for dead in a ditch and no one would care. Hell, they would probably say I had it coming. And if one of my rivals just happened upon me, they might be so kind as to deal the killing blow. Ryoga would accuse me of cheating on Akane with a man and try and beat me to death,' she thought darkly, bile building at the back of her throat at the mere idea of such an incident.
~You have Kasumi. She would care…she would miss you,~ a voice in her head called out from the far reaches of her mind.
'Yeah, you're probably right…she's the only reason I even continue to try and live through this miserable existence. I live not to harm her. She's like her namesake, mist. She hasn't a clue, seeming to exist in her own little world where everything is perfect. Yet she is the wisest woman I have ever met and the most caring'. Ranma opened her eyes, looking to the sky above before sitting up.
"I can't do this anymore. I just don't have the strength needed to survive this crap anymore," she said aloud to no one as she stood up from her spot, a plan taking shape. Ranma returned to the Tendos' later in the evening and packed her things. She then left in the dead of night, stopping at a nearby gas station for some hot water before heading down one of the many roads leading west.
…To be continued?