Falling again, endlessly falling… Blackness surrounding him on all sides. Familiar yet ghostly images appearing on the edges of his vision. He wishes she were there to stop it, to save him from himself. But she is not, and the scary part is he isn’t sure which “her” he means… Two clearer images appear before him.
“You must make your choice…” They whisper to him as his gaze moves from one to the other.
“You cannot wait
“You took too long like always, now the choice has been made for you…” The remaining one smiles, though it is not very comforting.
“You never can make a decision can you Ranma? You’re so selfish…always thinking of yourself and no one else… Aren’t you Ranma?” The image says in a sweet voice. He clenches his eyes shut and wills for it to all go away.
“I didn’t mean too! I’m sorry! Please…I’m sorry…”
Ranma sat up with a gasp and warily glanced around his dark surroundings. Noting the familiar shapes and smells of his room, he breathes a sigh of relief. Placing a hand to his forehead, he closes his eyes, willing himself to calm down, and his heart to stop its erratic beating.
“Just another dream…” His head suddenly snaps up and he races out the window of his room, flipping onto the roof of the Tendo home, and makes his way silently towards the window of the one he seeks. Stopping above it, he swings down and catches the lip of the windowsill with his hand, and pulls himself up one-handed to a crouch on the sill. Seeing that it is unlocked, he slides it open and slips inside. He stops in front of her bed and watches her pleasant face in peaceful slumber. He has to make sure, make sure she isn’t gone. He had to prove it to himself. Brushing a stray lock of hair from her face, he smiles at her slightly and just contents himself with watching her for a while. The wind begins to pick up, and he decides its time to leave. Without a sound he disappears through the open window, shutting it on his way out, leaving no evidence of his departure save the still lightly billowing drapes. And lying in her bed, Belldandy’s face grows a smile.
The next morning, a soft breeze lazily swept through the open window of Ranma Saotome, lightly brushing across his face and blowing some hair into it. Though Ranma was generally a very heavy sleeper, this was enough to make him stir and crack open an eye. Wearily opening the other he groaned and turned over, before remembering something he told himself he would do the previous night. Springing out of bed, he quickly headed for the bathroom to conduct his morning activities. Clean and ready for the day, he headed for his next stop, the kitchen. Sure enough, the resident Goddess Belldandy was merrily preparing breakfast while humming to herself, although it looked a little forced, at least to his eyes. Ranma coughed to get her attention and she turned to regard him. She smiled in pleasant surprise and he hesitantly stepped towards her.
“Uh hey, you need some help there?” Belldandy nodded her head happily.
“Why yes, that would be wonderful Ranma.” And so the two prepared breakfast together for the first time since Ranma found out about Kasumi’s secret. And outside the stray breeze continued on its way, sweeping through the little place called Nerima.
After everyone had consumed breakfast, and Ranma had been malleted by Akane for some reason or another, no one really kept track anymore, Ranma was dragged off to school by the pigtail thanks to his aforementioned crazed fiancée. Belldandy kept her smile until he was out of sight before it slipped slowly from her face.
Brahm muttered a few choice words on his feelings of Gods in general as he waited for Loki to show up at their appointed meeting place. Bad enough the crafty God was Lord of Trickery and Deceit and at times made Demons look kind and helpful, but couldn’t he at least be punctual? The blonde-haired Demon tapped his foot impatiently and crossed his arms while his face scowled. Loki’s deeds in the past even made Brahm seem like Belldandy in comparison. At the thought of the sweet, kind, innocent Goddess Brahm’s scowl twisted in anger. Oh how he loathed her. He had looked up her file shortly after their first encounter, and just reading about her made him retch. How anyone could believe so fully in the good of humanity was beyond him.
“Haven’t the humans shown that they are only good for causing pain and suffering upon each other and their surroundings?” A laugh echoed around him and his scowl deepened further, although he didn’t move otherwise.
“Aren’t you forgetting how much your kind helps them along my dear Brahm?” Brahm sneered contemptuously.
“You’re one to talk Loki…” The laugh echoed again and suddenly standing behind him was the Trickster himself.
“So nice to see that you’re as friendly as always Brahm…” Brahm turned at last and glared.
“Enough Deceiver! You know why I have summoned you!” Loki smirked but nodded his head.
“Yes, yes I most certainly do…” His smirk grew more pronounced.
“You need my help to deal with, oh what was it again? Ah yes! A mortal…” Loki said with as much snideness and sarcasm as he could muster. Brahm grit his teeth but reminded himself that Loki did this on purpose just to annoy him.
“More than that, I want the mortal for myself, what I want is for you to get Belldandy temporarily out of the picture so I can take care of him.” Loki nodded.
“Easily done for one such as I, but tell me Brahm, why so hung up on a silly mortal?” Brahm closed his eyes and clenched a fist.
“That mortal has interfered in my affairs many times now, for that, death is the only suitable punishment…” Loki nodded again.
“Fine fine, good enough, but tell me one more thing…what is this mortal’s name?” Brahm growled his hated foe’s name out.
“Ranma Saotome…” Loki’s eyes widened and he laughed loudly.
“Ranma Saotome!? As in cursed to become a girl Ranma Saotome? I love that guy!” Loki laughed and laughed while Brahm stood there puzzled.
“He causes more chaos and insanity than I do sometimes!” Loki wiped an imaginary tear from his eye.
“Whew, that was great. I can’t believe that now he’s causing you trouble too. That is just too funny!” Brahm glared angrily at the God while flames erupted around him.
“I don’t see what’s so humorous about it!” Loki smirked and with a snap of his fingers a pail of water upended over the Demon, putting out the fire.
“Cool off!” Loki’s eyes narrowed dangerously for a moment.
“Or you may end up getting burned little Demon…” Brahm was a bit puzzled by this but nodded his head, though the glare did not leave his face. Loki suddenly became all smiles again.
“Okay! I’ll take care of Belldandy, the sweet thing, and let you handle Ranma!” Brahm slowly nodded his head. He knew making any sort of deal with the Trickster was dangerous, even for a Demon, but he also knew that Loki got things done, and decided like he always did, that the ends justified the means. He noticed Loki laughing again as he pulled out a camera and took a picture of the still wet Brahm.
“Even if the means leave much to be desired…”
Ranma muttered to himself as he stood outside the classroom with a bucket of water in each arm.
“Stupid tomboy…nearly pulls my hair out and we’re still late…” He sighed. Actually she had made it in time. He had stopped for a moment outside the door as he felt…something. He couldn’t understand what it was but he knew that something was going to happen soon, and it…unnerved him. He got the same feeling right before the Saffron incident, and Akane had nearly died then. He decided to be extra alert for now. He shifted his arms uneasily.
“Something…is going to happen soon…” He just wished he knew what.
The day passed by fairly uneventfully after that. Kuno attacked, but Ranma, as always, dealt him with swiftly, and soon school ended. Walking home with Akane, Ranma for once stayed on the ground and not on the fence, making sure that he would be able to protect Akane if anything attacked or otherwise threatened her in any way. That feeling was still going, though not as strong, and he intended to be extra wary and ready for anything, be it perverted masters, or lovesick princes, or even a jealous fiancée. He didn’t notice Akane’s slight smile at this or the slight reddening of her cheeks. Finally they reached the Tendo Home without incident, and Ranma blew out a relieved breath. He just hoped that it was not the calm before the storm. But then again, this was his life after all, and nothing ever went right in it.
Children happily played in the park, while in other areas, lovers embraced warmly, whispering words of tenderness in each other’s ears. Belldandy smiled faintly as she watched all this. She had thought about changing to her real appearance, but decided not to. She had stepped out for a walk shortly after Ranma, Akane, and Nabiki had gone to school. She admitted that she should probably be doing the chores, but figured that she deserved at least a little time to herself once in a while. She sighed sadly as she looked up at the blue sky.
“So beautiful…” She whispered.
“Not as beautiful as you my dear…” A voice said from beside her. She started and her head whirled in the direction of the voice. Sitting on the bench beside her was a young man who looked to be in his early twenties and had dark brown hair, and deep blue eyes.
“Almost like Ranma…” She thought to herself as she stared at his eyes. She blushed a bit as he smiled at her and turned away for a moment.
“So tell me, what are you doing here all alone?” She didn’t know why, but his voice, it was so…alluring. She couldn’t help but answer him truthfully.
“I…I wanted to get away from…things for a while.” He nodded thoughtfully and turned away as well.
“A man?” He questioned simply, to which she nodded slowly.
“Yes… H-he loves someone else…” He turned to her again.
“Perhaps a drink will take your mind off of him…my treat?” She was unsure. He seemed nice enough, but there was something about him… He reminded her of someone… She turned to him at last with an answer.
“I suppose it wouldn’t hurt. May I ask your name?” He smiled deeply and kissed her hand, causing her some embarrassment.
“My name is…Ran…” She blinked.
“Ran? Chaos?” She wondered to herself.
“What a coincidence! It must be Ranma who he reminds me of…” Getting up, she followed him out of the park. The sly smirk he wore as they walked went unnoticed.
Ryouga cursed to himself for what seemed like the millionth time as he found himself lost yet again. He sighed and adjusted a strap on his large pack while staring at the map he held in front of him.
“Damn thing…” He muttered as he threw it to the ground in disgust and trudged on wearily. He glanced up at the sky and saw the clouds roll by lazily. From the general layout and various surroundings he had encountered in the forest so far he could tell he was still in Japan, and that knowledge both comforted him, and saddened him. He still couldn’t believe how he had actually accepted the aid of a Demon. True it was for the cause of defeating Ranma, but that didn’t make it any less dishonorable in his eyes. He could easily say that he had been tricked, but that would be taking the coward’s way out. And while he was a coward when it came to certain things, like the secret of the pig, he was still fairly honorable when it came to martial arts and the warrior’s code. He didn’t even take advantage of Ranma when he was weak with the moxibustion, or when he had gained the power of that accursed tattoo. To put it simply, he was ashamed at how easily he had agreed to the Demon’s aid. Maybe the drive to beat his rival had finally caused him to do it. After witnessing the battle between Ranma and Saffron, he had lost almost all hope of ever surpassing the pig-tailed one on his own skill. Before he had always deluded himself into thinking that he stood a chance of defeating Ranma, but the battle at Phoenix Mountain made him see just how much Ranma was holding back in all of their fights. He had been desperate afterwards, and when the Demon offered him a way to crush Ranma, he foolishly accepted it. Now he felt unworthy of even seeing the two women he loved more than anything else.
“Akane…Akari…I am going to go away for a while and clear my head, and perhaps gain a better outlook of my life…I am tired of the way things are…I may not return for a long time, but I will return someday…That I promise…” With that thought in mind, Ryouga adjusted the straps of his pack once again, and set off for places unknown.
Belldandy smiled as she continued to follow the man named Ran.
“So where exactly are we going?” Ran smiled.
“Oh, just a little place where we can talk…” He turned a corner and she quickly followed, only to find an alleyway.
“What the…” She did not finish as she sensed very strong magic being cast and felt consciousness leaving her.
“Sleep spell…” She muttered as she tried to fight it, but whoever cast it was even stronger than her, and she had been caught completely off guard. The last thing she saw was the face of Ran smirking cruelly.
“Sweet dreams little angel…” He whispered evilly.
Brahm grinned as he watched all this from the rooftops. All was going as planned. Soon, he would be free to deal with the mortal, and the Goddess would be unable to aid him at all if Loki did his part. He knew the mortal was no match for him without her help.
“They will both suffer for causing me so much trouble…” He thought darkly.
She slowly opened her eyes and grimaced as she remembered what had happened. She noticed that she was lying on an ornate bed, and that she was surrounded by a lavish room like something out of medieval times. She knew almost instinctively where she was.
“Heaven? But how? And where?” She then realized that she was back in her true form. A voice spoke up from behind her.
“You are in my domain my dear…” Whirling around, she came face to face with Ran once again.
“You…I don’t understand…” He smirked.
“I am surprised you haven’t recognized me yet, but allow me to help you.” In a flash, there was a figure dressed in fancy robes and wearing a cruel smile on his face.
“Now do you recognize me Belldandy?” She gasped.
“No…Loki…” He giggled.
“Righto! A prize for the pretty lady!” A stuffed bear appeared in her arms. She blinked before placing it beside her. Belldandy then realized that Ran had reminded her of Loki and not Ranma. Loki chuckled at her.
“What’s the matter my dear? I mean no harm.” Her eyes narrowed slightly.
“Then why kidnap me like this? Why bring me back to Heaven when I am on assignment?” Loki smirked causing her to grow angrier, even though she rarely did get mad.
“Well, you did want to talk about things did you not? And what better place than here?” She regarded him warily.
“I find it hard to believe that you would go through so much trouble just to talk to me…” He turned away from her for a moment and walked a few steps forward.
“Ah, but it is the truth…I am worried about you my dear!” He turned back to her.
“Am I correct in assuming that you love this mortal that you are living with? This Ranma Saotome…” She blushed.
“I…that is…that’s none of your business!” He sighed dramatically.
“Oh! That we could all be so young and foolish!” He spoke again to her.
“You said yourself that he does not love you. So who does he love hmmm?” Belldandy looked away, her eyes tearing up slightly.
“He…he loves a woman who does not truly exist …” Loki nodded his head thoughtfully.
“I begin to understand…” He began to pace a bit.
“You’re saying he is in love with your human form right? The woman he knew you as before you revealed yourself to him correct?” She nodded sorrowfully. Loki grinned and snapped his fingers.
“I’ve got it!” He exclaimed as if the idea had just come to him.
“What if you became this Kasumi Tendo individual permanently?” Belldandy bowed her head slightly in thought. Become Kasumi permanently? That seemed so drastic… Surely she could… She looked up at him.
“Why are you helping me?” Loki looked hurt.
“Why my dear Belldandy! I am merely looking out for a fellow deity! It is my duty to help if you are in distress. Especially since it is you Belldandy. Arguably Father’s favorite child…” She looked away.
“Do you really think he loves me more than the others or you?” Loki smirked cruelly.
“Please Belldandy, don’t even try…I am the God of Mischief and Chaos after all…Father would sooner send me to Hell than look at me!” She could tell there was some old pain there so decided not to continue. Loki brightened considerably after a moment.
“So what’ll it be? Will you accept my offer?” She was still unsure.
“Can you really do that?” He nodded and held up a glass bottle.
“Yes, I will simply place the essence of your divinity inside this, and alter certain portions of your body structure so that you will for all intents and purposes be mortal! Although you will lose all memory of ever being a Goddess… For all intents and purposes, you as you currently exist will be gone forever…” Belldandy bit her lip. It was so tempting. Not only would the Tendos, her family, be happy, but Ranma would be too.
“Ranma…” She thought to herself as she remembered all the fond memories she had of him, and the even fonder ones that they shared together. She found herself nodding her head at Loki.
“Very well…” He smiled.
“Excellent! Now just lay down and remain still…this won’t hurt at all!” She nodded and did so. Closing her eyes as she felt her what seemed like her very soul slip away. Her last thought was of Ranma smiling, his blue eyes glittering in mirth. A tear slid down her cheek.