From Chapter 4: More than Just Friends of More Tales of the City

 

It was just an hour before the Saotome-Tendo wedding that Ranma saw Ryoga one last time. Ranma was in Akane’s room getting ready while Akane was downstairs in the practice room with her sisters. He stood in front of Akane's full body-mirror adjusting his tie. He heard a small crash on his left side. But a gust of wind silenced it. Suddenly Ranma felt the tip of a hard bamboo rod at his neck, choking him. As he gasped for air, he followed the rod to the familiar outline of an umbrella.

 

            “Damnit do I have to beat the crap out of you too?” Ranma grumbled as he assumed his fighting position. “I had to deal with Shampoo, Ukyou, Kodachi, Kuno, Happosai, Mousse, Mikado, and a bunch of other people I can’t remember. It’s like a reunion to beat Ranma up.”

 

            “I’m not here to fight,” Ryoga said. Ryoga put the umbrella away. He looked handsome in his dark black tuxedo. “I’m just here to say that I won’t be attending your wedding, Saotome. But you got what you wanted.”

 

            “It’s best for Akane-chan,” Ranma said quietly. “She needs me right now.”

 

            “Yeah,” Ryoga looked down. “She needs you more than I do.” He started to turn away.

 

“Excuse me?” Ranma looked at Ryoga. "Since when did you ever need me? As a punching bag? You never needed anyone because every time someone got close to you, you just ran away like you usually do.”

 

            “No, that’s what you do!"  Ryoga turned back around. “If things don’t go your way you just run away till they do. Well, congratulations because it’s finally going your way now.”

 

            “I don’t comprehend,” Ranma said apathetically. “Ya’ know Ryoga, I don’t comprehend a lot of things you say.”

 

            “You didn’t tell her the real story,” Ryoga snarled. “You told her that dumb ‘curry bread’ story. That wasn’t the reason why we were fighting remember!  It was because all the boys were snickering that I WAS YOUR SEMPAI! And you had to prove how ‘manly’ you were thanks to that stupid contract that your father made your mother sign. So you told me that we just needed to pretend that we were fighting a little bit so the boys wouldn’t think you were just like them.”

 

            “Except your stupid sense of direction ruined everything,” Ranma said. “And by the time you came back, I was already off to China. You couldn’t even find your way to the park for our first date.” Ranma was shocked at what he was saying. “Besides, it was meant to happen this way.”

 

            “I followed you for our ‘fight,’” Ryoga stammered angrily. “And you took me to hell and back. You made me feel loved and wanted and needed. And all of a sudden you just turn away from me…for an...uncute girl!” Ryoga paused for a moment, the anger building under his breath. “ No wait…it was SEVERAL WOMEN that I had to compete with! And you were doing a really good job acting like you didn’t mind all the women!”

 

            “People change, eh?” Ranma leered angrily. He wasn’t going to let Ryoga ruin the happiest day of his life. “And so did you. You were doing a good job sleeping with Akane, eh P-Chan? Admit it, you liked her as well.”

 

             “I admit that there was some satisfaction in watching your blood boil as she warmed up to me,” Ryoga crossed his arms grinning. “But no, I was not in love with her. Nor was I with Akari. I can’t give Akari what she wants. She wanted a pig and...I wanted a man.”

 

            “Then you were a good actor,” Ranma replied. “Ryoga, you fall for anyone who shows you pity that you don’t deserve.”

 

            “And you use the Saotome-Secret-Technique of running away from your problems really well,” Ryoga said. “You’re a master at it.”

 

            “Look Ryoga,” Ranma told him coldly. “What we were was a joke. I was confused…and all of those hormones… And we were kids, you know, but now we’re adults and it’s time to grow up.” He spoke with poignant daggers that pierced Ryoga’s heart.

 

“Really?” Ryoga said coolly. “Because it wasn’t a joke to me.” He drew himself closer to Ranma and kissed him. He could feel Ranma’s warm breath tingle on his lips and hear faintly Ranma’s heart beating. Faster. Ryoga drew away with tears in his eyes. But he stuffed them. He needed to be a man so he pushed the tears back into his eyes. “Give Akane my apologies that P-Chan won’t be able to go to the wedding.”

 

And Ryoga ran out of the dojo, never to be heard of again.

 

Ranma paused for a while to let the aftermath sink in. The tingle of Ryoga still on his lips. Did Ryoga just do what he just did to him? Did Ryoga actually love him?

 

Akane walked into the room. She looked absolutelly stunning, not the rugged tomboy Ranma once knew. Her hair was covered by a lacy white veil with carnations sprouting out from both sides of her hair. Her dress was slim, pale white, with silk ribbon.

 

            “It’s bad luck for the groom to see the bride,” Ranma looked down.

 

"I heard the crash coming from the roof," Akane smiled. "Are you alright?"

 

"I'm fine," Ranma said. "Ryoga can't make it to the wedding," Ranma said nonchalantly. "He had to go on some trip or whatever."

 

            “It’s a shame,” Akane said. “Didn’t you want him to be your best man?”

 

            “Ryoga’s just weird,” Ranma muttered quietly. “He was the closest to a friend that I’ve ever gotten to. Well, a guy friend ya’ know?” Ranma tried to choke up the words. He tried to look strong in front of Akane. But he couldn’t. He looked at Akane and instead saw Ryoga’s torn face staring back at him. Ranma broke down. Akane gave him a warm hug. He kissed Akane and felt safe again. This is how it is supposed to go.

 

            “Are you ready to go, Ms. Saotome?” Ranma held Akane’s hand.

 

            “More ready than ever,” Akane grinned.

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