A Ranma ½ story
by D.B. Sommer
Disclaimer: Ranma ½ and its characters and settings belong to Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video.
All comments and criticisms appreciated. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Whoa. Did you hear what happened to her?”
Words said unthinkingly, spontaneous in nature as they form from the cacophony of thoughts that make up the mind and emerge almost instantly from the mouth. When ‘restraint’ is a word that is difficult to pronounce, and certainly not understood, never will one know honesty in a truer form.
“I can’t believe she got dumped like that.”
Still incapable of understanding the damage that can be inflicted with words, more pour from others with a basic savagery that lacks true malice. That comes later, when such speakers suffer from the words of others themselves, and that which is termed ‘empathy’ is conceived, understood, and eventually manipulated.
“I’m not surprised. I wouldn’t wanna marry her.”
But not now. Not yet.
“Some guy ran off with her dowry.”
Adults have the benefit of experience, learning from past pains and forging armor to protect themselves from those insults, whose wicked barbs dig deeper and reach into places that no physical weapon could ever touch. Though no matter how strong and resilient the armor is, it can always be destroyed by a single word employed in just the right place at just the right time. Flawed creatures are incapable of creating perfect things.
“No one’s ever going to want to marry her.”
Children lack such protection and must suffer fully each and every jab and thrust, learning through such gauntlets how to protect themselves from others, as well as mastering how to inflict that self-same pain when the urge/desire/need forms and there is not enough urge/desire/need to prevent them from being used so that the cycle might be perpetuated once again.
“I heard he dumped her, just like that. Right after he found out they were gonna be married.”
Ah, the wonderful era of growing up that all are forced to enjoy.
“Why would he want to take her with him? She’s not pretty.”
Ah, the wonderful era of growing up that all are forced to suffer.
“I wouldn’t want to marry her either.”
Welcome to a moment in the childhood of Ukyou Kuonji.
“I bet he thought she was ugly.”
Insults from friends, acquaintances, enemies, strangers, all sounding the same and blending into one. Ukyou was too young to decide which were worse: the cutting words from those that never liked her, or the ones from those that were her friends.
“He probably didn’t like her okonomiyaki.”
Over and over again and again, words expressed in a variety of different ways but with identical meanings.
“I think he didn’t like her.”
Children are so blessed with an infinite capacity for talk.
“You know, with the way she dresses and acts, I bet she’s not even a real girl.”
And when the degradation seems to twist into eternity, sometimes all that is left is to react. To accept and believe the words, and form the majority of one’s life as a basis from them, or to—
“Liar! That’s not true! I am a girl! A real girl! I’ll show you! I’ll be the prettiest and nicest and bestest girl there is! All of the other girls will be jealous of me because I’ll be a better girl than they are! And all of the boys will like me and not want to leave me! I’ll make them all like me! You’ll be sorry you ever said those mean things about me!”
Basic defense and return attack unleashed, Ukyou turned and ran, the vow spoken etching itself forever into the first layer of armor that the girl was even now weaving to protect herself from those tormenting words.
“Just you wait and see, and I’ll show all of you!
“I’ll show everyone!”
Time does many things. Hurts. Heals. Scars. It means different things to different people as their meager existence passes during it. But the one thing it does to everyone equally is that it passes.
A yawn found itself escaping Ranma’s lips. In response, the young man began twirling a pencil around between his fingers and forced himself to at least try to listen to the droning voice of his homeroom teacher. It would not have been so difficult if the man could talk in anything other than a monotone that would have bored a fire into extinguishing itself. About the only time the teacher raised his voice was to send someone out into the hall; a situation Ranma had found himself experiencing all too many times in the past. He vowed that if fate was going to have him holding a couple of buckets again, it was not going to be because he dozed off in class.
Looking over his shoulder, he noticed Akane steal a glance in his direction, then look back towards the front of the class, her interest obviously piqued by something the teacher seemed to be doing. The pencil was placed back upon the desk as Ranma returned his attention to the front of the class.
Ranma was surprised to see the teacher seem almost nervous as he looked to the open door that led to the hallway, then nod his head towards someone just out of sight from the position Ranma had in his seat. Taking a deep breath of air, the teacher adjusted his tie and said in a loud, unusually authoritative voice, “Class, stand. I want to introduce to you a new transfer student.”
All eyes in homeroom 1-F of Furinkan High School followed the teacher’s stare as they turned to the doorway leading from the hall to the room.
The figure passed through the doorway and into the classroom itself, coming into view for all to see. She moved slowly, but with a graceful, fluid motion that suggested she were gliding across the tiled floor instead of merely walking across it. Her outfit was the standard uniform all of the girls at Furinkan wore, but her bearing as she approached the class made it appear that she was dressed in an elegant gown that molded to her form perfectly. Her every movement demanded attention, though subtly, rather than overtly.
A soft smile, without the slightest hint of forcefulness or strain, was etched on her features. It was warm and caring, and served to put many of the students in the room at ease. Her features were attractive, very much so, with just the right amount of make-up applied to just the right places to make her seem beautiful without being unattainable. Even through her school uniform, it was obvious her body was appealing, while being neither voluptuous nor too slender. Her allure was almost palpable, emanating from a combination of her physical features, posture, and the warm smile she carried into the room.
As her half-lidded gaze poured over the students, every male in the room became convinced that for one, brief moment, he was the complete center of attention this newcomer had to offer. Nearly every man in the room found his heart beat just a little faster, and basic, primal urges called out to prove themselves worthy of this new girl’s attention.
For most of the girls, the response was to shoot the newcomer glares either of hostility, both warded and open, or looks of awe. Instincts cried out that this new student was someone to either be feared or emulated, and each female reacted accordingly to her own instincts. The newcomer’s own gaze was that of open innocence, as though evaluating each person with an open mind.
For her part, Akane found herself put on edge by the appearance of the new girl. A bit of jealousy at how… feminine… she seemed, when compared to Akane’s own admittedly somewhat tomboyish demeanor, plagued her. It wasn’t like Kasumi’s own somewhat standard Japanese housewife appearance, which Akane had never tried to imitate. This new person radiated something different, and Akane reluctantly admitted some part of her wished she were more feminine in the newcomer’s manner.
Guilt followed on the heels of jealousy. Akane quickly squashed those feelings of distrust and tried looking at the new girl with a more positive attitude. She was new and probably needed friends. Just so long as she didn’t try to cozy up to Ranma, like far too many other girls had already done.
Time seemed to stretch into an eternity as the girl finally bowed with a grace that made nearly every man in the room want to stand and bow back, though all remained in their seats.
At last she spoke. “Greetings. My name is Ukyou Kuonji. It’s a pleasure to meet you all.”
Of all the men in the room, only Ranma had remained impassive to the girl’s appearance. But all of that changed the instant her name passed her lips. His head jerked up; a reaction that did not go unnoticed by Akane.
“It can’t be,” Ranma murmured under his breath. Memories conflicted with one another at what was supposedly ‘known’ and the obvious evidence before his eyes. Familiarity hammered at his memory as he carefully looked the newcomer over, trying to reconcile the image of a boy from his youth with the obvious symbol of femininity before him. Perhaps it was nothing more than a coincidence; it was the only explanation that made sense.
A pencil in Akane’s hand snapped in half as she absorbed the intense stare Ranma was shooting the new girl. Of course he would react the same way every other guy in the room was; he was a stupid boy, after all. Ranma could do whatever he wanted to that Ukyou girl, and Akane wouldn’t care in the slightest.
The halves snapped into quarters.
The teacher closed his mouth as he realized he was staring at the new girl. Again. He knew his reaction was highly improper, the girl was less than half his age, but he was still a man. “There is a seat next to Miss Tendou, over there.” He pointed towards the empty chair and desk. “Please be seated and we’ll resume class.”
Still moving with a casual, yet captivating, gait, Ukyou made her way towards the seat the teacher had indicated. She flashed a wider smile towards each of the boys she passed, riveting their attention to her even after she had moved her smile on to another. It was not until she came to Ranma’s desk, nearly across for her own, that she paused and gave her most winning smile yet.
“It’s been a long time, Ranchan. Surprised to see me?”
Ranma’s jaw dropped low enough to almost hit his desk. He paled slightly as he mouthed a barely audible, “Ucchan?”
Through the sudden haze of anger that formed when Ranma was looking slack-jawed at the newcomer, Akane would have sworn that, for the briefest of moments, Ukyou’s smile went from heartwarming to feral, but then it disappeared so quickly that the youngest Tendou daughter was certain she had made a mistake. Besides, there were more important things to worry about, like why Ranma was acting as much like a jerk as every other guy in the room.
And for Ukyou, who felt her heart skip a beat at Ranma’s obvious attention towards her, she knew that things were about to come full circle at last.
She wondered to whose soul Heaven should have mercy.
To be continued.
Author's notes: Experimenting with my style again
Special thanks to Jason Liao and Wade Tritschler for prereading this.
All I have written out, so far. Let me know what you think.
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