The Journey is the Destination
Author's Note: Ranma 1/2 is owned by Takahashi Rumiko and they have no connection to this what so ever. These characters are used without their permission and include a plea not to be sued as I have no money.
Yuka and Saiyuri were sitting at their desks doing their class work when they noticed that Ranma seemed a bit quieter than usual. While Akane and Ukyo were clearly proud of their battle scars and were happily showing them off to everyone else, the red head was not showing off or telling her tale of battling Cologne. She seemed to be letting the other two girls shine but it just didn’t seem right. They knew they had to find out what was the source of her problem. It made them sad to see their friend so clearly out of sorts.
Their chance to get answers came when the red head took off for the bathroom. The two girls followed behind her and stopped Ranma after the girl got out of the stall. She looked up at them a bit confused, her blue eyes a bit wide and before she could say anything they both bracketed her and gave the martial artist a tight hug.
This action startled Ranma at first but then she relaxed into it and sighed. After a few moments of just accepting the hug, she asked, “Thank you, but what was that for?”
“What’s wrong Ranma? You don’t look okay?” asked Saiyuri, her eyes open and caring.
The red head was even more surprised by this and looked between the two girls, as if trying to figure this out, why they had shown up and asked her these things. “I… I don’t know what you mean.”
Yuka sighed and rested a hand on her friend’s arm as she spoke, “Ranma, honestly, you’ve always been a terrible liar. Something big happened with the Amazons and Akane and Ukyo are all excited and proud about beating Shampoo and Mousse but you don’t look happy. This is not how fights with you often happen, so something is clearly wrong. What is it? What’s wrong? You can let us know.”
Ranma opened her mouth to say something in response and then closed it again as if words failed. She looked clearly uncomfortable as she fidgeted nervously. With a frown at the door to the bathroom Saiyuri caught on and figured something out, “Come on; let’s go up to the roof.”
The three girls hurried up to the roof, avoiding wandering teachers and hall monitors. Once up there and they could see that they were alone Saiyuri turned, pointed a finger at the redhead, and said, “Okay… spill.”
Shaking her long red hair, Ranma said, “I had to do something this weekend that… that was pretty… final and the results are just starting to hit me.”
Yuka gasped, hand rushing to cover her mouth and she whispered as she asked, “You didn’t kill anybody… did you?”
Ranma rolled her blue eyes, “No! Honestly Yuka. Sheesh… no I had to use the water I had set aside to turn me back as part of a ploy to get Cologne to back down. So now I am stuck this way forever.”
Yuka blinked again, as if she was having trouble processing all of this. “I thought the plan that we had come up with was that you were a girl and always had been?”
Saiyuri sighed and patted her friend on the head as she shook her own. “I understand Ranma. So, your only way out of this is gone?”
“Yeah. To get more I would have to go back to China. And I kind of want to and kind of don’t.” said Ranma, turning to look out across Nerima, not willing to meet anyone’s eyes.
“Kind of don’t?” asked Yuka.
“I like being a girl. It’s nice. My life has been quieter, calmer, less insane, especially since all the fiancé problems have been solved as well as the Amazons. I mean… things are pretty good. I also like how the body feels most of the time. There are a lot of positive things that make me not care about the water.” said Ranma a bit dreamily, gazing off at the endless horizon.
“But…” prompted Saiyuri, knowing there had to be more to all of this. It was Ranma, there always had to be more. There was nothing about her that was ever simple.
“But you know… I kind of wanted to be able to change back occasionally, so I could marry Akane at the very least and so that we could have kids. You know, it’s not like I originally wanted to stay this way forever, just long enough to calm things down in my life.” Ranma looked even more down, her gaze turning down to the base of the building.
“Have you told Akane this?” asked Saiyuri worriedly.
“Yeah… she knows. I think she knows. She should know. She knows that was my plan way back at the beginning. But she knew also that this was the best plan to stop the Amazons. So now we are trapped in the same place and I’m not sure what to do.” Her eyes were getting wet with tears as she turned to face the friends she had made with Akane’s help.
Saiyuri hugged the redhead again. “Well, then all you can do is live as a girl until we can get you to China so you can get the water. It’s not the end of the world Ranma. It’s just a little setback. Your dreams can still happen. Don’t give up on your happy endings.”
Ranma sniffled a little and then smiled, “Yeah, you’re probably right. Besides, we’re Amazons now, so it’s not like we’re going to get in trouble this time around when we head into China. No one hunting us, no kiss of death or marriage. That will be a great relief.”
“That would be a nice change of pace.” commented Yuka. They all laughed at that. “We should head back now that we know that you are okay. Will you be fine?”
“Thanks guys. You two are both great friends. I think I can keep going. It’s just that this has all been so overwhelming.”
After another hug the three of them set out back down the stairwell. They got back to their room fairly quickly, avoiding one of the Principal’s haircutting traps and sat back in their seats. Akane looked over at her girlfriend and flipped over a note. Ranma snatched it from the air, unfolded it, and smiled over at Akane after she read it, warmed by her concern, mouthing, ‘I’m okay.’
Akane relaxed, the tension clearly fading and gave Ranma a small smile of relief.
At lunch, as the group walked outside to the tree covered area where they usually sat, Akane asked what was up and because Ranma seemed a bit tongue tied and emotional Saiyuri explained things to the other two, such as what Ranma had admitted on the roof. The five girls were quiet as they sat down under a tree to eat.
Ukyo slowly got her grill together and absently made everyone some okonomiyaki, her skill such that even distracted as she was they turned out great. Ranma was busy looking at her shoes, the grass, anything but the other girls and she was clearly embarrassed by all of this. After Akane finished her pancake, she looked at Ranma, lifting her head and asked, “Is there anything I can do to help make you feel better?”
“I don’t know.”
“You know I love you, right? Whichever form you are in you are my Ranma and that is all that matters to me.” declared Akane, is a strong and sure voice.
Ranma could feel the truth of it through Akane’s aura and it made her smile. “Really?”
Ukyo rolled her eyes and chided the girl, “Honestly Ranma, you are like the dumbest sister ever. Of course she loves you. One of the only reasons I am okay with how everything turned out between us is because of how much she loves you and how much you love her. So don’t be act the idiot like boy Ranma the super dope. Girl Ranma is far smarter than that.”
The smirk that was on the redhead’s face was very familiar and the girls realized that they hadn’t seen it in several days. Perhaps this problem had been worse than they had thought. “Smarter than that, hunh?”
Yuka chimed in at that point. “Yep. Boy Ranma had severe foot in mouth disease and always seemed to stumble into trouble because he never bothered to think before he did anything. Girl Ranma is much smarter in that respect.”
Ranma shook her head, “You all really believe this?”
“Absolutely!” stated Saiyuri. “Boy Ranma was great and all but honestly, he caused himself over half the trouble he found himself in. You, young lady, have managed to fix all that. So yeah, you are stuck in this form, for the moment, but so what? I thought you keep saying that Ranma Saotome don’t lose?”
That earned them another chuckle. “Yeah, I guess I do say that.”
Akane looked at him a bit funny, as this also seemed a bit… off, “You guess you say that?”
“Well, honestly I’m not so interested in winning all the time. Yeah I want to be the best, but I realized I haven’t gotten where I am now by winning all the time. Actually, come to think of it, I lose a lot, sometimes several times before I figure things out and then I go after them again to win. I guess it really isn’t that I don’t lose as much as I don’t quit.” mused Ranma, as she thought about what everybody was saying.
“Then if that’s the case, don’t stress out over not being able to change back right now. Don’t quit. It’s not over. We just have to go to China at some point. See, easy solution.” stated Akane, as it were the simplest thing in the world.
Ranma chuckled, and then began to laugh until tears began to pour down her face. The others looked at each other worriedly as this whole display was somewhat disturbing, though this was not the kind of maniacal laughter they had heard from Ranma before that always led to bad plans and embarrassing defeats. Ukyo looked a bit scared as she tentatively asked, “Are you okay Ran-chan?”
The laughter slowly reduced to chuckles and Ranma wiped her blue eyes, which seemed to sparkle happily, “Yeah Uk-chan. I really am. I am fine. For once, I think I can honestly say that I really am okay. I mean think about it. Right now, at this moment, all of the problems I used to have are solved, are gone. Poof! I did it! I DID IT!!”
Ranma leapt to her feet, jumping up and down a few times before posing heroically, with her fingers in the classic V sign. The other girls just stared at her as if she had lost her mind. Saiyuri looked at the others and asked carefully, “Have you finally lost it?”
“No… don’t you get it… it’s over. I’ve won. I’ve beaten them all. I’ve defeated all of my opponents! There are no more barriers to my happiness!! You and I are great Uk-chan and the rest of them, the rest of them are leaving me alone. I can finally have some peace!” Ranma grinned broadly.
There was a collective long slow blink as what Ranma said penetrated everyone’s heads and they all started to smile one at a time. She smiled back at them and nodded vigorously. “Yep yep yep. My plan worked.”
Akane blinked a few times, still kind of bowled over by this assertion. “Your plan worked?”
“My plan worked.” stated Ranma confidently.
“Your plan worked?”
“Well… you did help me with it so I guess it is more our plan, but yes it worked.” Ranma corrected what she had said, to more accurately reflect what had actually happened, which also seemed to surprise people.
“Our… plan worked?”
Ranma smiled softly at the short haired girl, clearly showing the love she felt for the tomboy who had once beaten her all the time with a mallet and pieces of furniture when she had said lots of stupid and hurtful things, who had helped her time and again through various challenges, who wanted to become as strong a martial artist as she was, who had died and come back to her all for love. “Yes love, our plan worked. I think this means I’m free, really and truly free.”
Akane whooped, was on her feet in an instant, plucking Ranma up and swinging her around before kissing the redhead soundly in front of everybody in the schoolyard. “We did it!!”
The others laughed at the two of them, though Ukyo looked slightly melancholy. Ranma noticed this and got Akane to put her down. She pulled Ukyo to her feet and hugged her, “We are good, right sis?”
Ukyo looked into the blue eyes of her adopted sister and saw love there, not the love she had so wanted for so long but in the end far more than she had expected. She reached up and wiped a tear away before smiling. “Yeah sis, we are good. And when we can make it happen, you can be my brother as well.”
Ranma tightened her hug and Akane followed suit, the three of them holding each other tight. Yuka and Saiyuri looked on smiling. Akane whispered to Ranma, “So baka, feel alone and stressed now?”
With a look at the friends that she had never expected to meet and at her sister and her love, she grinned happily, saying excitedly, “Nope. I think in the end, my life is just about perfect.”
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