Disclaimer: Yadda, yadda…You know the drill.
“So bring it on!” Ranma yelled at the two opponents he faced for what seemed like the thousandth time. Kuno and Ryouga both smirked and with a cry from each they charged the pig-tailed one. Ranma rushed forward, meeting them halfway and kicked Kuno away for a moment to concentrate on Ryouga. He knew just the thing too.
“Kachu-Tenshin Amaguriken!” Ryouga had time to curse the hated attack before 300 punches impacted his stomach in the span of a single second. After about five more seconds of the same, Ryouga finally managed to swat Ranma aside and groaned a bit in pain. Ranma had hit his stomach with over a thousand full-strength blows, and even with the enhancements Brahm gave him, he still felt like his stomach was on fire. Ranma was dodging some strikes from Kuno and Ryouga recovered and rushed over to help the insane kendoist. Ranma was managing to dodge Kuno’s hits although he noted that they came faster than normal, when he saw the arrogant upper-classman smirk again.
“Dodge this Saotome!” He cried as he executed his
”Strike! Strike! Strike! Strike!” He repeated the mantra as his blade became a blur of jabs capable of pulverizing steel. Ranma weaved through the attacks, and Kuno upped the ante. His sword moved even faster and he executed the advanced form of the technique.
“Ha! Die foul one!” Miniature vacuum blades erupted forth and sought his hated enemy’s flesh. Ranma’s eyes widened and he barely had time to register Belldandy’s voice screaming for him to watch out before the ki-blades were upon him. Some of the blades struck the ground, causing dust to rise around Ranma, and everyone watching, especially the Tendo sisters and a certain okonomiyaki chef, held their breath as the dust started to clear. Kuno smirked, knowing that no one, not even Ranma could have survived such an attack. Which is why his jaw hit the floor when the dust finally cleared and Ranma stood with both arms crossed in front of his face, a faint shimmer in front of him. He uncrossed his arms and breathed a sigh of relief. Truth be told he was unsure if that technique would work, as it basically involved the user to focus all of his aura into a spot in front of them to form a sort of barrier. He had been working on it for a while now after seeing Belldandy’s shield spell, and he was glad it worked, although he had done it mostly on reflex that time. Kuno gripped the handle of his sword until his knuckles turned white and he raised it above his head.
“Foul sorcerer! You shall pay!” He cried. Ranma was about to dodge, when something in his mind clicked.
“Their auras, they remind me of… of Brahm!” He then realized why they seemed so much stronger.
“Of course! The sword! Their weird auras! Brahm musta done something to them!” He noticed that Belldandy was watching fearfully and realized that she couldn’t help him.
“That’s right. She told me she can’t use her magic on mortals unless they attack her first…” Ranma got an idea, although it would be tricky.
“It should work, although it might put her in danger…” Finally he decided it would be best to go with it. Kuno was too dangerous with that sword and he was betting a Goddess could probably undo something a Demon did.
“Here goes nothing…” He muttered as Kuno was almost on top of him.
“Your time has come Saotome! I shall free my Goddesses!” Kuno roared as he swung the blade downward. Ranma slid underneath the stroke and fell back onto his hands, pressing his feet against Kuno’s stomach.
“Have a nice trip Sempai…” Ranma said coldly as he simultaneously rolled backwards and pushed his legs outward, catapulting Kuno towards Belldandy. She seemed to understand and as Kuno went flying towards her, she felt the restriction on her powers lift momentarily. Closing her eyes, she cast a very strong sleep spell, which put the kendoist out as he skidded to a stop in front of her. Belldandy quickly ran over and hastily cast a purification spell, causing the blackness in his aura to slowly recede to nothingness. The problem was that the sword would still increase his power a great deal, and needed to be dealt with. This would take longer however, and Belldandy quickly set about purifying the sword. To a casual observer, it looked like Kuno had been knocked out and she was just checking on him. Meanwhile Ranma faced his age-old rival once more.
“Ryouga…” He said simply to which the lost boy responded.
“Ranma…” The two leapt at each other without another word. Ranma knew the same trick wouldn’t work twice. Ryouga, he would have to beat himself so Belldandy could hopefully get rid of the taint in his aura.
“Ranma, you have tormented me for too long! I shall rid the world of you forever!” Ryouga yelled as he struck out with punch that could shatter concrete without effort. Ranma spun to the side and in the same motion slammed his elbow down onto Ryouga’s bicep, causing his opponent to wince in pain. He then dodged a kick and retaliated with one of his own, along with a punch as interest. Ryouga seemed to shrug them off and continued his attack. Finally one of his fists struck Ranma in the face, and he went spinning in the air, before slamming into the ground. Spitting blood, Ranma flipped onto his feet and wiped some of the red liquid off of his mouth.
“Damn it! Ryouga’s hits have always been strong, but I used to be able to take them without losing blood, especially after Saffron…” He then saw Ryouga’s aura spring to life and begin to coalesce into his hands.
“Aw crap…” Ranma muttered as energy exploded from Ryouga’s outstretched arms.
“Shi Shi Hokodan!” He cried, and Ranma could swear he heard a real lion roar. He quickly brought one arm up and supported it with his other by holding the wrist. He closed his eyes and focused his aura in front of him. The dark, sickly green ki blast impacted Ranma’s shimmering blue shield and nearly broke through, before finally dissipating in the air. Ranma gasped from the strain and stood on shaky legs.
“Damn. Not only are his blasts much stronger, but he can throw them faster too. Not good…” Ryouga grinned, showing fangs, and thrust a finger into the ground.
“Let’s see you block this Ranma! Bakusai Tenketsu!” The finger stabbed the ground, and caused dozens of rocks to shoot out towards Ranma. His eyes widened again and he quickly cupped his hands in front of himself.
“No time to charge this up. Mouko Takabisha!” The blue ki blast met the shards of rock and managed to disintegrate them, all except one, which whizzed by and sliced a cut into Ranma’s cheek, which began to bleed a bit. Ranma’s eyes narrowed and he wiped the blood off calmly. Ryouga looked slightly unsure, as he was a bit puzzled with Ranma’s odd behavior. Normally his enemy would be throwing insults as much as he threw punches, but so far he hadn’t said one, and had been uncharacteristically calm and unemotional. Ryouga shook this off however and held his hands to his side.
“Prepare to die Ranma! This time I will kill you!” He charged his depression ki, fueled by the demonic power of Brahm, into his hands, and felt the fiery presence of the Demon’s magic running through him. Finally he was ready. He threw his arms forward and ki seemed to explode from them like a cannon.
“ Shin Shi Shi Hokodan!” He cried as the most powerful ki-blast he had ever thrown raced towards Ranma. He saw Kasumi gasp in fear and cry out.
“Ranma!” As for said martial artist, well, he was charging his own ki-attack. Beams of light shot from his cupped hands as he continued to charge up the attack. And just as Ryouga’s bolt was about to hit him, his closed eyes snapped open, and he executed his own attack.
“Are you okay Ranchan?” Ukyou asked curiously. Ranma nodded his head and stood to his full height. He glanced over to where Kuno lay and saw that he was unconscious and his sword was gone. He looked questioningly at Belldandy, who smiled knowingly. Shrugging, he walked over to Ryouga with the others following.
“Hey, uh, I think you’d better make sure Ryouga’s okay Kasumi.” She nodded, catching his meaning, and knelt beside the lost one. Placing her hand as if to check his pulse, she closed her eyes and cast a purify spell. After a moment, the darkness in his aura vanished. Smiling, she stood up.
“He’ll be just fine…”
Up on the roof of Furinkan, the Demon Brahm watched angrily.
“Damn! It seems I underestimated the mortal again. His resourcefulness is truly amazing. Brahm turned, his black leather trench coat billowing behind him.
“There must be a way to defeat him without the Goddess interfering, but how? He turned back and watched as Ranma conversed with Belldandy.
“Hmm, perhaps I should call in that favor from Loki…” Nodding at this course of action, Brahm disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Ranma sighed to himself as he waited for Belldandy on the roof of a building a fair distance from the Tendo Dojo. They were going to have their talk here, and he wasn’t going to leave until he had gotten some things off of his chest. He didn’t even turn around as he sensed her land behind him.
“It’s a nice night Belldandy…” He said as he looked out at the clear evening sky, his mind not even worrying over the fact that he had been fighting for his life earlier in the day. That’s what defending yourself almost every waking moment did to you he supposed. He watched as the stars twinkled at him as they always did. His friends… He turned to her at last and smiled faintly. She had come in her real form, and he still couldn’t get over how breathtaking it was. Of course, she was a Goddess, so it was only fitting that she be stunningly beautiful, more so that any mortal woman. She smiled at him in her usual understanding way that she did as Kasumi. It was funny how even though she now looked a lot different, subtle similarities could still be detected. There was her voice, which was identical in either form, and her facial expressions. The way she smiled with one side of her mouth slightly more upturned than the other, or the way her eyes sparkled when she was concerned or worried about something. He realized now that even though he now knew her to be Belldandy, she was still Kasumi, still the woman he… He shook his head as she started to speak.
“Ranma, is there something you want to tell me?” He nodded and looked down.
“I, I realize that I have been treating you badly ever since I found out about your uh, secret, and I just… wanted to apologize for that…” She nodded, a curious expression on her face. He took a deep breath and continued.
“All my life, I’ve been forced to go it alone, to fight my own battles. My whole life has been one chaotic mess thrown in a blender and put on puree. Then I came to the Tendo Dojo, and I met a girl named Kasumi, and I finally found someone who could bring some semblance of order, of peace to my life. And while my life was still insane, even more so than before, It didn’t matter quite as much, because I knew I could always go to Kasumi and she would kindly offer me advice or tell me when I was honestly wrong, or if nothing else just make me feel better. Without her, I would have gone nuts a long time ago…” He trailed off for a moment and checked her reaction. She was still curiously listening to him, and giving him her undivided attention, causing him a bit of embarrassment, but he controlled himself and continued.
“I tried to make myself love Akane, but I just couldn’t, because I loved someone else, and after the failed wedding things got worse and I finally just gave the engagement up as a lost cause. But Kasumi was always there to help me, and this time was no different. Then, then I found out that the woman I had known and loved all this time was in fact another person, a Goddess. And I felt a part of me die. I, I panicked for lack of a better word, and lashed out at the one I perceived took the woman I loved away from me…” She was wide-eyed and had a hand up to her mouth in shock. He bowed his head sadly.
“I cannot hope for your forgiveness, but I ask it anyway. Please forgive me Belldandy-san for my misguided poor conduct towards you…” He kept his head bowed until he felt her lift it back up. She smiled at him kindly, so much like Kasumi.
“There is nothing to forgive Ranma, your actions made me sad, but I can see why you acted the way you did, and it is quite understandable…” She saw him tremble a bit and he closed his eyes. She gasped as a tear slid past them. They snapped open and focused on her own.
“Why?” He questioned.
“Why can’t you ever get mad or angry? I’ve treated you like dirt ever since I found out who you were and you just tell me it’s alright! Do you know how guilty I feel now! You should be furious at me! Especially since I did it for such a silly reason…” She smiled again causing him to deflate slightly.
“Because I can understand how you feel, because it’s not a silly reason at all, because you’re the one person I can honestly say ever treated me like a real person, and not just some character in the background. When Rumiko Tendo made that wish and I became Kasumi Tendo, I basically accepted that I would probably never see my friends and family for a long time, and it was even harder because I was so young at the time. But then you came into my life and suddenly I had a friend close to my own age. I had someone who treated me like I mattered, like I actually had a brain.” She bowed her head.
“I cannot thank you enough Ranma…” He blinked and sighed sadly.
“No, I should be thanking you. Like I said earlier, I would have gone nuts a long time ago without you there.” He smiled brightly, causing her to do the same.
“You’re always there to catch me when I fall Belldandy…” His mind flashed to the dream from before.
“I think we catch each other…” She whispered. And they didn’t say anything else, content to simply watch the twinkling stars together. Ranma didn’t see the sadness in Belldandy’s eyes however.
Author’s Notes: Well this one was by far the most difficult to write yet. Not only did I have to do your typical big Ranma fight scene, although I’m hoping it wasn’t too boring, but I also had to do a big emotional scene, which hopefully clarified some of Ranma’s thoughts and feeling, and Bell’s as well. I hope I succeeded at least on some small level. Anyway, please review and if possible send me some e-mail too. Until next time…