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Resolution Resolution
A Ranma 1/2 fanfic by Stiffanie Flores

Disclaimer : Ranma 1/2 and all characters belong to Rumiko Takahashi. This fanfic is written for enjoyment and self-fulfillment purposes only.

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"How many times do I have to tell you to stop calling me that?" I yell at Akane.

"Well, you are a pervert!" Akane yells back. "Only a pervert would cavort with his Amazon fiancee so early in the morning! In the middle of the road, with everyone looking on!"

"Do you think I like Shampoo grabbing me like that?"

"Well, maybe you do!"

"Macho tomboy."

Akane glares at me, her eyes blazing. "What did you say?"

I roll my eyes. "Duh, Akane. You are just so uncute. I don't know why I bother to - ugh!"

My head snaps back as Akane's fist connected with my face. I reach up reflexively to rub the soreness in my right cheek, where I'm sure a bright red imprint of Akane's hand is forming even now. I spun my head around, irate eyes focusing on Akane. "Whatcha do that f - umm..."

Akane stands with her arm raised, poised to hit me a second time. Tears of anger streams down her face, as she glares at me angrily. "Stay away from me, Ranma," she yells, before turning around and running away.

"Aww, man..." I slump to the floor, closing my eyes for a brief moment. I reach up to touch my cheek, wincing as my fingers probe the sore flesh.

"Strong as a gorilla, too," I mutter under my breath.

It was funny, really, how Akane was always able to land a blow on me, when most people, and other martial artists couldn't even lay a finger on me in combat. Take Kunou, for example. He's obviously a better fighter than Akane; the only reason why she'd been winning every time was because Kunou always held back during their fights. The kendoist hadn't been a match for me, though. The fight had lasted, what, five minutes, and Kunou was flat on his face, unconscious from the blows I'd landed on him.

But Akane's another matter. She hit me with whatever she could get her hands on - barbells, huge boulders, the dining room table. And if she doesn't have anything handy, she'd use her bare fists, which are just as bad. And with my aversion to physically striking women, I couldn't lift a finger in retaliation.

And when she was angry, her blows connected with uncanny accuracy.

I walk out of the dojo, coming to sit on the ground beside the koi pond. Slowly, I tilt my head, looking up at Akane's bedroom window. The room is flooded with light, which means Akane must be inside.

I pick up a pebble beside my feet, absently turning it around my fingers. I remember a time I'd hung upside down at her window, looking at Akane in concern, as she'd stared off numbly into space, her hair a ragged mess framing her face.

I knew she'd worn her hair long, trying to imitate Kasumi, hoping to win the affections of the local chiropractor. After I'd accidentally cut her hair, she'd looked so angry, I thought she'd never forgive me. And yet, after Kasumi trimmed her hair, she'd let me off the hook, telling me she'd been meaning to cut it anyway.

I remember watching her walk away, her short bob bouncing with each step, and I'd felt an odd tenderness swelling my heart. If someone were to ask me when I'd first fallen in love with my fiancee, I'd know what to answer.

I blink in surprise, dropping the pebble. _In love_? An automated response pops up in my head. How could I possibly be in love with such an uncute tomboy, who pounded me to a pulp whenever I opened my big mouth? A violent, macho girl who can't cook, can't swim, can't sew, and got insanely jealous when I so much as glanced at another girl? ...

As abruptly as switching channels, the sound of my own voice inside my head softened. Would it be so awful, it asked me, to be in love with a kind, generous girl, who'd forgiven me for my slights too many times to count? A sweet, affectionate girl who couldn't stand seeing anyone get hurt, even if it's just a stupid black piglet? A brave, strong-willed girl who threw herself recklessly into the path of danger to help me, save me from certain death?

My heart throbs painfully at the memory. Akane, leaping into the Orochi's mouth with a kettle of hot water to change me back. Akane, caught in the whirlwind of the Hiryu Shoten Ha, after retrieving the pressure-point chart to cure the moxibustion technique Happosai used on me. Akane, turning into a tiny, dehydrated doll, after touching the Kinjakan to save me ...

And each time she risks her life to help me, what do I do? Too choked up with emotion over her actions, emotion that I couldn't quite put into words, I'd say the first thing that came to mind - "Stupid tomboy!"

I remember holding her motionless body in Mt. Phoenix, fear gripping my heart. Fear that I'd been too late, I hadn't saved her. I remember struggling with my words, trying to tell her how I felt. I remember the sting of my own punch to my cheek, after I'd called her stupid for butting her head into "a man's fight". I remember apologizing, and saying thank you -

It had been so easy, so absurdly easy, to say thank you, for everything. Why couldn't I tell her, then? Why did I have to throw around unkind words at every turn, knowing how much it hurt her?

Because you're a coward, a voice inside my brain whispers. Because insulting her is easier than saying thank you. Easier than saying sorry for being such a jerk. Easier than telling her you love her.

I try desperately to think of a retort, but none came to mind. It was as if my brain had shut off completely, refusing to let me deny my feelings, as I'd done so often in the past. I feel an odd catch in my throat, as I let the truth sink in. I love Akane. Being with her fills me with a joy unlike any other, a happiness I know I can never find with another. Being without her - I have been down that road for so many times, and I wish with all my heart I won't have to go through the pain of losing her ever again.

Ryouga, Kunou, Kirin, Toma - they'd tried to take Akane away from me. And Shinnosuke...

I tremble slightly as the thought enters my mind. Shinnosuke - he'd come _way_ too close to taking her away from me. For the most agonizingly long hours of my life, when I'd thought Akane loved him, I couldn't think of anything, except how much I love her, how I wanted to tell her I love her, and I can't live without her...

And Saffron - I clench my teeth as I remember his crime - he'd tried to take away the single most important thing in my life, the one person who's brought me happiness and filled my heart with joy. For that I'd made him pay - dearly.

They all think I don't deserve her. In their eyes, Akane's a beautiful goddess who's descended from the heavens to bring them happiness and love, brightening their lives with the sound of her laughter and her sunny smiles, just as she has mine. They think she deserves more than a selfish, arrogant, sex-changing freak like me.

And they're right - about everything. But even though I know all that, I love her too much to let her go. I love her so much that I can't bear the thought of living without her. Because ... I need her.

My life isn't what you would call an ideal life. The only company I'd had for more than ten years was my old man. I didn't have a childhood. I didn't have any friends. But, despite all that, I thought I was happy. I thought I was contented with the life I had, in which the only constant thing was the Art.

I was wrong.

I've been living with the Tendos for what, more than a year? I've known Akane for almost two years. For two years, I've sat beside her, walked with her, quarreled with her, laughed with her, fought battles with her beside me, cheering me on. These past two years I've spent with her, the happiness I've found with her, the laughter I've shared with her, is more important, more meaningful, than anything I've ever experienced before I'd met her. After these two years with her, all those years I spent on the road, honing my skills, training day and night - it all seems so meaningless in comparison. It's hard to think I was happy then, when it was only after I met her that I knew what happiness was.

I love her strength, her beauty, her stubborn will, her enormous capacity for caring. I love the sound of her voice calling my name, the feel of her hand clasped in mine. I love the thought of waking up every morning to see her face, smiling at me, and the thought of coming home to her at night.

I can deny it all I want, object to the forced engagement as loudly as possible, but it won't change anything. I love her. I want to marry her. Having her in my life is a joy I would never relinquish, not for anything in the world. We quarrel incessantly over the silliest things, and most of the time, I regret most of the cruel things I say to her the moment the words leave my mouth. To see the stricken expression on her face, before she hastily hides it behind her anger, is enough to end guilt crashing down like the waves slapping against the sand.

Knowing how much it hurts her, I try to think before I open my mouth, not wanting to cause her more distress than I already have for the past several months. Most of the time, my efforts are futile; it seems as if my mouth has a mind of its own. But there have been rare times when I speak without thinking, and amazingly enough, I manage to say the right thing.

I smile despite myself as I remember the badly knitted scarf Akane gave me for Christmas. It was just about the ugliest thing I've ever seen - I'd said as much. I remember Akane glowering with indignant anger as she tried to snatch the scarf away, certain I was going to make some cruel remark about her knitting skills - or lack thereof. I remember what I said to her, about how there wasn't another being in the world who would be willing to wear something as ugly as that scarf. She'd looked so surprised I accepted her gift, she didn't have the time to get angry over what I'd said about the scarf.

I glance up at the makeshift balcony on the second floor, and my eyes light up with the memory. Looking up at the stars, watching the meteor shower above us, I was painfully aware of Akane standing beside me, hugging my gift to her chest as if it would disappear if she set it down. I remember reaching over hesitantly to put an arm around her shoulders, holding my breath as I waited for her to react, half-expecting her to punt me off into the sky. I remember the quiet joy that had filled my heart, as she slowly leaned against me, resting her head on my shoulder. Even now I could feel her light weight leaning against my body, her soft hair a fragrant perfume filling my senses.

On the rare times when we would get along, she would turn around to look at me, a gentle smile curving her lips. Basking in the warmth of her smile, I would gaze back at her, my heart pounding uncontrollably against my rib cage. I would look into her eyes, wishing I could tell her I love her - summoning every ounce of feeling I have for her, trying to tell her with my gaze what I could never say out loud.

I hear footsteps coming in my direction, and I straighten, hastily clearing my face of all expression. Akane strides out, careful not to look at me. I quickly note the firm set of her jaw, and her tight grip on the handle of the broom she was carrying, before she disappeared around the corner, towards the back yard.

She's still angry. Sometimes, she would get angry at me for things which weren't my fault, things which I had no control over. Her temper hasn't mellowed out, not since that first day I met her.

I stand up, taking a few steps forward. Today was my fault. Sure, I don't like Shampoo hanging all over me like that. I should have done something about that long ago. It's not too late to do that. To tell them there's only one person I want to have beside me for the rest of my life - if she'll have me.

But first, I have to apologize, I know. It's the first step, one of the many steps I have to make, before I can ever hope to have a chance for a future with Akane.

I turn the corner to the backyard. Akane stands with her back turned to me, briskly sweeping fallen leaves. The very sight of her, even when she's angry, fills me with utter contentment - knowing that this beautiful, wonderful girl, the one girl the entire male Furinkan population is crazy about - she's mine. I would die before giving her up.

But right now, I wish she would turn around and smile at me.

"Uh - Akane?" I call hesitantly.

She pauses in mid-sweep, but doesn't bother turning around to look at me. "Yeah?"

"About what I said earlier, I didn't mean that, Akane." I try to smile. "I'm sorry I made you angry."

I watch her back stiffen, as she slowly turns around to face me. I start to take a step back, moving into a defensive stance, preparing for whatever she's going to throw at me in a fit of anger. I catch my breath in surprise as I notice the expression on her face.

Her eyes shimmering with uncertainty, she tries to smile. "I'm sorry, too, Ranma," she says.

I stare at her, speechless at the turn of events. I'd come to apologize, and now Akane's telling me she's sorry, too?

Akane looks down, shuffling her feet awkwardly. "I shouldn't have hit you like that. I'm sorry."

"No," I hurry to explain. "It's OK. Really. It didn't hurt much. See?"

Akane smiles weakly. "I know. After all, how could a slowpoke like me hope to hurt you, right?"

I let out a breath slowly. I always get her angry when I tease her about her fighting skills, but I never knew it hurt her this much...

Well, it's high time I did something about that, isn't it?

I smile at her brightly. "Well, why don't we do something about that, then?"

She looks at me, confused. "Wha-?"

"Wanna spar?" I continue to smile at her. "I can show you a thing or two."

Her eyes light up with enthusiasm. "For real?"

I laugh at her delighted expression. "Sure. As long as you think you can take it."

She grins at me. "I'll show you. I'll just change into something more comfortable, OK?" Turning around, she runs into the house.

I watch her as she bounds away, her skirt billowing in the wind. My heart feels light in my chest, as a faint smile settles on my lips.


"What?" She turns around to smile at me.

I would love to love you, Akane. Won't you let me love you?

I shake my head at her. "Nothing. I'll wait for you in the dojo."

"'Kay. Be right there."

I smile as I turn around, making my way to the dojo. The wind ruffles my hair, and I turn my head up, closing my eyes as I luxuriate in the soothing sensation of the cool air on my face.

Maybe one day, I'll ask her. And maybe, she'll even say yes.

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