Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction ❯ Forever Bound ❯ The ashes that we left behind ( Chapter 2 )

[ P - Pre-Teen ]
Forever Bound
Chapter 2, The ashes that we left behind

Author's notes: Nothing to say this time except send all comments and criticism to silverflame_maiden@hotmail.com

Disclaimer: I don't own Ranma 1/2 okay? So stop rubbing it in! *Pouts and twiddles fingers*
Rumiko Takashi owns Ranma 1/2.
(Tokyo airport, Nerima district)
Akane stepped out the plane tunnel into the large bustling airport. As she turned and saw a familiar looking group of people walk towards her, she unintentionally tightened her grip on Belldandy's hand. Belldandy sensed her mother's distress and squeezed back. When Akane looked down and saw Belldandy's optimistic face, she felt her nervousness melt away. When she looked up again, she saw the pale face of her father. Soun rushed towards Akane and wrapped his arms around her giving her a death hug. Akane, who somehow managed to get her breath back, comfortingly patted her crying father's back. Belldandy looked quizzically at this man then at her mother.

"Mommy?" she asked meekly, "Is this Grampa?"
Soun, who until now didn't bother to notice the little girl by Akane's side, stared blankly at Belldandy and his eyes watered up again.
"Oh! My granddaughter!" Soun cried as he ran towards Belldandy intent on giving her a death hug, but when his face reached one inch of hers, she did something totally unexpected. Belldandy pulled out a small, pink mallet from hammerspace and bopped him lightly on the head.

"Grampa no baka," Belldandy giggled as she held up her little arms for Soun to pick her up. Soun picked her up and gave her a piggyback ride that she enjoyed immensely.
Ukyo walked up to Belldandy and asked her, "And what's your name, sugar?"
Belldandy giggled happily and replied, "Oh, Auntie Yo-chan. You already know my name's Belldandy." Ukyo only had a moment to look surprised that Belldandy remembered her after 3 years, before Akane ran towards her and gave her a hug.

"Hey, Ne-chan, " Ukyo laughed as Akane held her at arms' length and gave her a look of total surprise. Akane turned to Ukyo's husband, Shiro, and said as she gestured to Ukyo's bulging stomach, "So, when did this happen and why wasn't I informed?" Both Shiro and Ukyo blushed a deep red and decided the floor looked awfully interesting at the moment.
Akane smiled and hugged them both as she whispered so that only they could hear, "You two keep those kids rolling in. I want a whole soccer team of kids for Belldandy to play with, okay?"

Ukyo laughed and pushed Akane lightly away as she said, "Go off, Ne-chan before you make my husband into a living tomato." Akane laughed also and when she turned around she stared into two large, beautiful black round eyes. Akane sighed as she felt tears beginning to sting her eyes. She soon found herself enveloped in a tender hug by Ryouga and she hugged back.

"Come on, Ryo-chan... S-stop crying...I'm back... I won't leave again, "Akane whispered with a small smile into Ryouga's dark black hair. Ryouga finally calmed himself and pulled away back next to Akari's side, but not before he gave Akanes hand a small squeeze that to others would have meant nothing, but to them meant unforgotten promises, hopeful dreams, and a beautiful trust you could only share with a friend. Akari smiled at the pair and said nothing. Maybe once, long ago, she would have felt an envy at that look they shared that meant only-for-two, but she knew. She knew Ryouga loved her and Akane, only differently. He used to love her only as a friend and Akane as his (wishful) wife, but something happened along the years and time changed their positions. Ryouga now loved her as a husband loves his wife although they were just dating. He loved Akane more then a sister and a friend and they shared an unspoken bond, but he no longer loved her the way he used to. He no longer considered Akane romantically anymore and Akari was glad. *I guess time does have a way of healing all wounds...* Akari thought, but when she looked at the pained look in Akane's eyes hidden deep behind the joy she added *...just so it can make new ones*

Akane went to hug Nabiki and Kuno, punching him softly on the jaw for old times' sake. As the old Nerima crowd left the airport, they felt content that they were together again, but they still felt a piece missing from the puzzle. No one spoke, but all of them knew that no matter how much they tried they could not return those carefree days of teenaged youth anymore because the main person that the most wonderful years of their lives centered on was gone. After all, what do you do when you lose the most important piece to a puzzle? Yet as all the others thought wistfully at their lost, Akane looked over at Belldandy's energetic form and thought *What do you do when you lose a piece to a puzzle? ...You create a new piece to fill its place*
On the other side of the airport stood a muscular young man in Chinese clothing standing next to a bouncing rat-tailed haired little boy. The little boy was still jumpy and frightened from the scary ride on the big machine everyone called an airplane. Yet, he held it in, after all a warrior was never afraid, his mother had taught him. Could you blame him though? The first time his young mind had seen an airplane he had thought it was a large winged demon threatening his life. The boy looked up at the far-away look in his father's eyes and puffed his chest up, hoping to look as manly as his father did. The boy saw his father swing the large bag over his shoulder effortlessly as though it was nothing at all, and he tried to do the same with his small bag only to fall over. The man smiled at his son as he saw his foolhardy attempt at flinging the bag and he picked up his son in one arm and the bag in the other and started to move towards the exit. As the onlookers saw the man and the boy leave all they could distinguish from his features was his mysterious, blue-gray eyes...
A kane flopped tiredly onto her bed. Today was very tiring, even with her athletic healthy body. After leaving the airport she had to go to the Furinken Elementary to have the interview/conversation with the school's principal. It turned out that the school really needed a teacher and she had to start teaching on Monday. Luckily, while still there she managed to enroll Belldandy into her kindergarten class, and she'll start school Monday too. Belldandy was absolutely thrilled at the prospect of starting school and meeting new friends. After leaving the school Akane went to the Tashi Theater of Arts to get aquatinted with her director and cast. It turned out that her job was to be in any part of any play that they put on. Simple enough.

Akane could still hear Belldandy's squeal of delight at seeing the garden and koi pond. Yet, her look of sheer happiness at seeing the dojo was just icing on the cake for everyone. Akane was sure she would have done a kata right then and there had Akane not told her to go take a bath in the furo first. The tantalizing smell of Kasumi's delicious cooking floated around the house and into Akane's room making her stomach growl in anger at not being fed. Akane laughed softly and jumped from her window to sit next to the koi pond.

After awhile she heard soft footsteps behind her and someone sit down. Akane turned to Ryouga who was staring straight ahead beyond the koi pond. She reached out and squeezed his hand as she smiled tentatively and asked, "Ryo-chan, what's the matter?" Akane knew that Ryouga once had loved her *that* way, but that was past now and Ryouga was her best friend besides Ukyo and her family.

Ryouga stared at Akane a minute before replying softly, " I w-want to ask Akari to a m-m-m-marry m-me, Akane's face broke into a wide grin and she broke out laughing. Ryouga scowled at her and asked indignantly, "What's so funny?"

Akane wiped a tear from her eye and said as she laughed, "That's all! By that look on your face, I could have sworn that you were going to go against some unbeatable demon. What are you so afraid of?"
Ryouga looked sadly away and said softly, barely audible, "But what if she says no? What if she only pretended to like me because I defeated her stupid pig?"
Akane's face became somber and she said reassuringly, "She does love you, I can tell. It's that look in her eyes and the way that she smiles at you that I know. After all, I only see it all the time on a certain little black piglet whenever he looks at her."

"Wait, Akari's big sumo pig doesn't-" and at that Ryouga stopped finally realizing that Akane meant him, he blushed. Strangely, from anyone's mouth it would have meant nothing, but from Akane it gave him a strange sense of confidence. He stood up and said as he dusted himself off, "Thanks Ke-chan, I'll go ask her now." Ryouga gave Akane a small peck on the cheek and ran stumbling into the house screaming, "AAAAKKKKKAARRRRRIIII!"

Akane laughed and looked out onto the koi pond saying softly as she smiled, "No problem Ryo-chan, you would have done the same for me, I know." Akane's eyes glazed over as a memory found it's way into her subcounciousness.

Akane sat on top of the roof of Furinken High and cried softly. As she stared out at the glowing beautiful moon standing alone in the empty sky she thought *I know how you feel...* She had thought her heart had only broke once that evening he left 3 days ago, but her heart broke many times afterward, even after he was gone. *Damn, Ranma! You still manage to hurt me even after your gone* Her heart tore at itself every time she saw his picture, every time she passed his room, every time she passed anyplace in Nerima hoping to see him there teasing her. He was never there, and she felt the pain deep in her gut every time.

Akane heard footsteps behind her and heard someone sit down. For a moment her heart flared a little with hope that it was Ranma, but disappointment came crashing down on her as she saw it was Ryouga. No one had seen him for some time, not that that was unusual. Ryouga turned his head then and Akane saw the painful unshed tears in his eyes.

"W-what?" Akane asked dumbly. She was surprised Ryouga had been hurt. After all, didn't he want Ranma gone? Why was he crying now? *No! * Akane's mind screamed at her *Ryouga was Ranma's friend even if they fought...*

Ryouga didn't say anything for awhile until he spoke up, in a soft voice this time, instead of his usual deep-toned one, "Ranma and I were friends, you know. Even if we fought we both never went all out against each other. H-he was my only friend. It was so boring when you get lost and have basically no goals when I never stay anywhere long enough to do that...and... and..." Ryouga stopped talking as a sob choked him and tears lined down his face.

Akane put her hand on his arm as her own tears stained her beautiful moonlit face.
Ryouga finally found the strength to speak again. He had to tell someone, he couldn't hold it in anymore. "I was in l-love with you, you know. And maybe that's why I tried to find excuses to fight him and call him dishonorable but deep inside I knew he was the most honorable of all the people I know, including myself. W-when I finally figured out that you didn't love me, but loved him, it hurt like nothing ever could, but I was also k-kinda relieved. I was r-relieved because deep inside I always knew you cared for him. The look in your eyes and the way you smile at him tells it all. I was P-chan-"
"I know..." Akane interrupted him.

Ryouga's face clouded over and he whispered, "H-how?"
Akane looked away, " H-he told me. Don't worry he didn't break his promise to you, it was an accident. He told me the night b-before Shampoo arrived." With that she broke down sobbing in Ryoga's arms. Ryouga cried to whispering over and over again, "He was my only friend...only friend...only friend..." After they pulled away from each other Akane looked sadly at Ryouga and for the first time since it happened smiled, "I k-know I couldn't be as good a friend as he was, but if you want I'll be your best friend." Akane held out her hand.

Ryouga stared blankly at Akane's small outstretched hand and smiled, "Okay, Friends.. no Best Friends now and forever, promise?" He said as he stretched his hand out an inch from hers. Akane smile grew and she put her small hand into his rough ones.

"Promise, Ryo...Ryo-chan," Akane sniffed as she gave him a weak smile.
"Promise, Ka-chan, " Ryouga gave her the same weak smile.

So, there on top of Furinken High, under the moonlight sat two newfound best friends holding hands, brought together by a crisis, but staying together through a bond.
#######End of Flashback########

Akane sighed happily and stood up. She walked into the living room and saw a glowing Akari fanning an unconscious smiling blissfully Ryouga. Akane noticed the engagement ring on Akari's hand and laughed as she went upstairs. She stopped at the door of the guestroom first to kiss Belldandy goodnight then went back to her room. Her already small room was tightly packed with baggages of luggage. Akane didn't bother to change and just fell on top of her bed and as she drifted off to sleep thought, *Who needs love when you have friends and family...* she sighed again *...I do*