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A Moment of Truth A Moment of Truth
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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Ukyou walked across the school grounds, scanning the crowd anxiously. "Where could he be?" she murmured to herself.

A flash of red caught her eye, and she turned. There he was! He had his back turned to her, and Ukyou gazed at his broad shoulders and trim back dreamily, watching as the lean muscles under his shirt rippled as he moved. Her heart skipped a beat, just as it always did every time she saw Ranma.

For a moment, she stood still, staring at his profile as a goofy smile spread across her face. She could stand here all day, and stare at him without growing tired of the way his eyes lit up when he smiled, or the way he ran his fingers through his unruly black hair. Or the way his voice gurgled as he choked on a bite of ... choked?!

Startled out of her trance, she quickly ran forward, careful not to drop the box of okonomiyaki she held in one hand.

"What are you trying to do, kill me, you stupid tomboy?!"

Ranma's voice rang out across the field, clear enough for everyone to hear. Ukyou stopped in her tracks, coming to stand a few feet behind Ranma. Around her, conversation ground to a halt, as heads looked up in expectation.

Akane jumped to her feet beside Ranma, glaring down at him, her face flushed with anger. Her hands clenched at her sides, and she raised a fist, drawing back her arm as she swung her open palm towards Ranma's face. Ukyou looked away, holding her breath as she waited for the inevitable.

There was nothing but total silence for the next couple of seconds. Ukyou looked up cautiously. Akane was still standing beside Ranma, her arm raised, her whole body trembling with barely contained anger. Tears ran unchecked down her cheeks. Abruptly, she lowered her arm, glaring at Ranma hatefully one last time, before she whipped around, running away.

Ukyou looked down at Ranma, as he stared after Akane's retreating back. Before Ukyou could move a step, he sprang to his feet, running after her. Ukyou watched as he caught up to Akane, laying a hand on her shoulder. Akane angrily shoved him away. Ranma persisted, and Ukyou could see his lips moving, but she was too far away to hear what they were saying. She watched helplessly as Akane's fist crashed into Ranma's face, sending him stumbling a few feet back until he landed on his rump.

Ranma sat unmoving, staring after Akane, even after she'd disappeared from sight. The other students, seeing that the commotion was over, returned their attention to their lunch boxes. Around Ukyou, the chattering grew steadily, as the students engaged once again in their conversation, quickly forgetting about Akane and Ranma.

Ukyou made her way towards Ranma, keeping her eyes on him worriedly as she walked. He didn't even look up, as she came to a stop beside him.

"Ranchan?" she began hesitantly. "I brought you some lunch. Do you -"

Ranma stood up, his hand rubbing his cheek absently. "No thanks, Ucchan," he mumbled as he walked away. "Not very hungry."

Ukyou stared after him helplessly. She stepped forward, intending to catch up to him. A hand gripped her shoulder, and she paused, turning to see Nabiki. She looked at Ukyou silently, and shook her head. Then, letting go of Ukyou, Nabiki walked back to her friends.

Ukyou sighed and turned around, walking back to class, the box of okonomiyaki forgotten in her hands.


"Two specials, please."

Ukyou looked up from her place at the grill. A couple, hand in hand, took their seats across each other at an empty booth. The guy reached across the table to take his girlfriend's hand. He looked up at Ukyou, repeating his order.

Nodding vigorously, Ukyou poured batter over her grill, deftly flipping an okonomiyaki with her spatula. Minutes later, she sent two of her special Japanese pizzas flying across the room, landing with uncanny accuracy at her customers' plates. There was a light smattering of applause from her customers, and she smiled in appreciation.

Her eyes drifted over to the couple sitting across from her. They were just about her age. In fact, she thought they looked vaguely familiar. They probably went to Furinkan as well.

She watched longingly as the guy rubbed his thumb gently over the girl's knuckles, then his hand closed around hers, completely engulfing her small hand in his. He leaned over to whisper something to her, and Ukyou watched as a light blush crept up the girl's cheeks as she smiled.

Tearing her gaze away from the happy couple, she busied herself with wiping her counter clean. Involuntarily, the image of Ranma sprang up in her mind. She closed her eyes for a moment, losing herself in her reverie. Ranma, handsome in his black tuxedo, sitting across from her at a posh restaurant, as they shared a quiet, candlelit dinner. He laughed as she entertained him with one of the funny stories from their childhood, then, abruptly, he reached across the table, laying his hand over hers. She raised her eyes to his, to find him gazing at her tenderly...

She shook her head slowly, hurriedly blinking back tears she refused to shed in front of her customers. She didn't need a fancy restaurant, or formal clothes, or a romantic dinner for two. All she wanted was for him to look at her with love.

"Hey, Ucchan."

Startled, Ukyou looked up to see Ranma plopping down on one of her stools at the counter. He looked absolutely dejected, she thought. His eyes were unusually downcast, as he slumped forward on his seat.

Attempting a bright smile for him, she quickly whipped up one of her okonomiyakis, using the special recipe she knew was his favorite. "Hungry, Ranchan?" she asked cheerfully.

"Yeah, a little," he muttered. "Didn't get any lunch."

She plopped the okonomiyaki down on a plate and set it in front of him. "Thought you said you weren't hungry," she said accusingly.

Ranma shrugged. "Lost my appetite, I guess."

Ukyou watched as he picked at his food half-heartedly. Usually he'd be gobbling down everything in a bite and asking her for seconds. Even if he was in a bad mood, she knew that some good food would perk him right up.

She took a deep breath. "Something wrong, Ranchan?" she asked tentatively, already dreading hearing his answer. But she had to ask. Because she knew, that's why he came here. Because he needed someone to talk to.

And she wanted him to know, "Ucchan" would always be here for him. And she'd always hoped, that one day, he'd realize that, and then he would love her, as much as she loved him...

"Come on, tell me," she prodded gently, when he remained silent. "Maybe I can help," she said, a little too cheerfully.

Ranma didn't look up as he spoke. "I didn't know."

She frowned. "Didn't know what?"

His hand tightened on his chopsticks. "I didn't know that today was her birthday, that she stayed up half the night to make that special lunch for me. I noticed she was in an unusually good mood today, but I didn't know ... until Kasumi told me."

Ukyou struggled to keep her voice steady. "That was her special lunch, today at school?"

Ranma hung his head. "I didn't know. It - it was just so bad. I almost threw up trying to swallow it. I couldn't help it, the words just came out. And then, she just stared at me. I thought she was gonna hit me, but then, she just ran away. And she didn't even tell me - " The chopsticks snapped into two. Ranma didn't seem to notice. He continued to grip the broken pieces in his hand, the jagged edges digging into his skin.

Ukyou winced, reaching over to pry the broken chopsticks out of his hand. "What should I do, Ucchan?" she heard him say softly.

Ukyou held onto the counter to steady herself. "What do you think?"

He shook his head. "I don't know. After Kasumi told me, I went up to her room, I tried to talk to her - she wouldn't let me in. I want to apologize, but she won't even talk to me..."

"Maybe you should give it more time," she suggested quietly. "She'll come around."

"Yeah, I hope so. The last time I saw her this angry, it was when Ryouga accidentally cut her hair. But then, she didn't look quite so angry back then ..." He looked up. "I want to do something for her, Ucchan. What can I do?"

She closed her eyes, swallowing painfully. "I - I don't know."

"Come on, Ucchan," he pleaded, oblivious to her distress. "You have to have some idea."

Ukyou looked at him. "What?" he asked impatiently. His eyes filled with panic, as he stared at her. "You don't have any idea?"

Minutes ago, she'd wished Ranma would look at her with longing in his eyes. Now, here he was. Who said wishes didn't come true? They did, just not the way you wanted.

"Well," she began, her lower lip trembling slightly, "since you said it's her birthday and all, maybe you could get her a present or something?"

Ranma slapped his palm on the counter. "Why didn't I think of that?" he yelped. Jumping up from his seat, he smiled at her happily. "Thanks a lot, Ucchan. You're a pal!" Grinning, he darted out of her restaurant.

Ukyou watched him as he disappeared out onto the street, her hand tightening painfully on her spatula. "Yeah," she whispered to herself softly.


A real pal...

Ukyou ran her hand through her damp hair, sighing softly to herself. Her eyes were downcast as she walked home from the public bath, carrying a small pail of toiletries in one arm.

She sniffled softly, holding back tears. So what if he got Akane a nice present? So what if they'd already made up? Nothing has changed. Tomorrow, everything will be back to normal. It didn't take much to spark Akane's temper. One careless word, and she'd light up like a furnace, and punt Ranma into the horizon.

Yes, it was a normal routine, she thought. Fight, make up, only to fight again. Surely one day Ranchan would tire of this, after putting up with Akane's hair-trigger temper for so long. Surely one day he'd realize there was only one woman for him, and that she's always been here beside him, waiting for him to realize he loved her. She had to hold on to that hope, no matter what, or else she'd go insane.

Ukyou sighed again as she quietly opened the door of her restaurant, letting herself in. For a moment, she stood just inside the doorway, looking around her with squinted eyes. She smiled to herself as she felt a lump rise up her throat. Ucchan's - serving the best okonomiyaki in Nerima. No, in Japan! Even though Ucchan's was only open after school hours, and in the weekends, she made a thriving business. And she was never happier than when she stood behind her grill, flipping okonomiyakis as she listened to the light chattering of her customers as they lingered over their food.

But at night, as she stood alone in the darkened dining area, the familiar sense of loneliness swept over her like a tidal wave. Loneliness that she'd lived with for ten years, when she'd disguised herself as a man, dedicating her life to her family's Art. Loneliness that had continued to plague her, even after she'd settled in Nerima, as she watched Ranma continually ignore her presence as he chased after Akane.

Leaving her bath things on the counter, she dashed out, unable to stand in the stifling darkness any longer. A walk, she decided, as she walked down the street, forcing her breathing to even out. A walk would be just the thing to calm her frazzled nerves.

Even as she walked briskly, enjoying the calm night air, thoughts of Ranma remained in her mind. Why didn't he ever look at her twice, except when he wanted a second helping of okonomiyaki? Why didn't he realize how much she loved him, how long she's been waiting for him to love her?

The possibility that Ranma might be in love with someone else had often trespassed into Ukyou's mind, only to be shoved away quickly. Who else could Ranma love, if not Ukyou?

Shampoo? Ranma had never shown any attraction for Shampoo, even as she hiked up her skirt and rubbed herself against him in a way that made Ukyou blush and other men glare at Ranma in envy. Ranma had told her once how he'd managed to get Shampoo as a fiancee, and Ukyou thought that was just about the silliest thing she'd ever heard. Good thing for Shampoo Ranma was such a catch, though. Imagine being forced to marry some big ugly oaf just because he bested her in combat ... ugh.

Kodachi? Ukyou snorted indelicately. As if dealing with one Kunou sibling on a regular basis wasn't enough.

Akane? Ukyou lost her smirk as she thought of the youngest Tendo daughter. She hit him, insulted him, and just about made it clear as day that she didn't want anything to do with "that pervert." But if she didn't care for him as she claimed, why did she try so hard to cook for Ranma? Or try to make nice things for Ranma, like that ridiculous scarf Ranma had been wearing last Christmas? And whenever Ranma was in trouble, it was always Akane standing by his side, helping him, cheering him up...

As much as she tried to deny it, Ukyou knew Akane was the closest thing to a rival she had for Ranchan's love. Akane lived with Ranma. Ate with him. Went to school with him. And if that wasn't enough, family honor demanded that Ranma marry Akane. After all, the agreement with the Tendos held precedence over all the other engagements.

Akane. Ukyou's eyes narrowed as she thought of her rival. Akane had everything Ukyou had ever wanted. Her family loved her. Her friends adored her. And the boys at Furinkan - they all flocked to her like love-sick sheep. All, except one. The one that mattered the most. The one who was supposed to love and cherish her, as her fiancee.

And yet, even if Ranma didn't stare after her with stars in his eyes, who was to say he didn't care for her? Ukyou wished with all her heart that it wasn't true. But as she watched Ranma repeatedly abandon Ukyou to run after Akane, or when he forced down her cooking, or whenever Ranma went to pieces when Akane burst into tears - it was getting harder and harder every day to convince herself that Ranma didn't love Akane.

The sound of a dog barking startled her, and Ukyou looked up, realizing that she was standing outside the Tendo dojo. She whacked herself lightly on her forehead as she turned to walk back to her restaurant. What was it with this family? Even as she walked aimlessly to enjoy the night air, she still found herself being drawn to the Tendos. Was this how Ryouga felt? Ukyou snickered softly to herself as she thought of the bandanna-clad boy. Too bad her plan to set him up with Akane hadn't worked, though...

"Cold, Akane?"

Ukyou stiffened, then quickly ducked around the corner. That was - it was Ranma's voice, wasn't it?

She carefully poked her head out, almost afraid to look. Sure enough, there was Ranma, standing with Akane in front of the dojo gate. A pale sliver of moonlight shone down on the couple, illuminating Ranma's features. Ukyou's heart wrenched as she saw the Ranma's expression. He was looking down at Akane, a tender smile on his face.

Run away, her subconscious screamed wildly. Run away and don't look back. It's just a bad dream. It can't be real!

But Ukyou stood rooted in place, stunned in morbid fascination as she watched Akane smile up at Ranma. The girl was very pretty, she noted absently, especially when she smiled.

"I had a nice time, Ranma," Akane said. "Thanks for suggesting the walk."

Ranma shifted on his feet, a light blush coloring his cheeks. "I'm sorry about lunch, and -"

Akane shook her head. "You already apologized for that, remember? That's enough." She blushed. "Was it really that bad?" she asked timidly.

Ranma paled. "A little...No! Not really... I mean..."

Akane managed a small smile. "It's okay. I know it was pretty bad."

"You'll get better with practice, Akane." Ranma looked at her uncertainly. "Won't you?"

Akane smiled. "I could kill you for that remark." She laughed as Ranma backed a step away from her. She grabbed his arm to pull him back. "I'm kidding. Can't you take a joke, dummy?"

"That's my line, tomboy," Ranma quipped good-naturedly.

Ukyou closed her eyes, biting her lip to keep the tears from leaking out. He'd followed her advice. He'd probably gotten her a nice gift, and then took her on a walk around town. And even with her eyes closed, the image of Ranma's face tenderly smiling down at Akane was burned in her mind forever. How could she ever hope to win his heart now, when it was so painfully obvious to whom it already belonged?

"No!" she whispered fiercely. "I won't give up." Hadn't that been her motto for ten years, as she trained herself in her Art, in order to track down one Ranma Saotome and beat him to a pulp for breaking her heart? Hadn't she whispered that same phrase to herself over and over again for the past two years, holding on to the belief that Ranma would be hers, if she just held on for a little longer...

"I - I love you, Ranma." Ukyou froze at the softly-spoken words. She pressed her back to the wall behind her, her chest rising and falling heavily. She strained her ears to hear their conversation, trying to ignore the frantic pounding of her heart.

"Akane..." Ukyou could hear the hesitation in his voice. She held her breath, waiting for Ranma's response.

"I'm sorry, Akane..." Yes! He didn't -

"...always made fun of your cooking, or your martial arts skills. I've always called you uncute, and violent, and - most of the time, Akane, I just don't know how to tell you how I really feel. I wish I was like Kunou, or Shinnosuke, 'cause they're able to tell you so easily. I -"

Ukyou resisted the urge to scream. No. No, please...

"I love you, too, Akane."

A choked sob escaping her lips, she spun around, running down the street as fast as she could. Tears blurred her vision, and she held a hand over her mouth, holding back the scream welling up in her throat. He loved her. He loved Akane.

Why Akane? Ukyou thought bitterly. Why does Akane always have to come first? Why is it that Akane, who had everything Ukyou herself wanted in life, still had to take away the single most important thing she had left?

Her steps slowing to a stop, she stood silently for a moment, until she slowly crumpled to the ground, hugging her knees to her chest as sobs racked her entire body. Why couldn't he love her? Why? After all she's done for him, how could he...

A shadow fell over her, and Ukyou felt, rather than saw, footsteps come to a halt beside her.

"Ucchan," a soft voice whispered. His voice.

She didn't look up. "Go away. Leave me alone."

There was a tense pause, until she heard a soft thump as Ranma lowered himself to the ground. His hand grasped her shoulder.

She shook it off angrily. "Leave me alone!" She looked up, glaring at him.

Big mistake. Ranma had the most expressive eyes she had ever seen. When he was happy, his smile reached up to his eyes, as they sparkled like stars against the midnight sky. And right now, they were filled with immense sadness, and guilt...

She tore her gaze away, swallowing painfully. "Please, just go."

"I'm sorry, Ucchan," he said softly. "I-"

"You're sorry?" Her voice rose as she jumped to her feet. "What are you sorry for? For making me fall in love with you? For leading me on? For breaking my heart?"

Ranma winced, as he slowly stood up. "I never meant to hurt you, Ucchan. I'm sorry."

Her heart melted as she looked at the pleading expression on his face. Taking a step towards him, she leaned her forehead on his shoulder. "I love you so much, Ranchan," she cried softly. "Please, can't you love me too?"

Ranma took a deep, shuddering breath, as he put his hands on her shoulders, and took a step back from her. Ukyou looked up at him tearfully. "Ranchan-"

His hands fell back to his sides. "I can't do that, Ucchan."

"Why?" she whispered brokenly. "Why her? Why can't you love me?"

Ranma looked away. "I think I've loved her for the longest time. Long before you came to town, Ucchan."

"You mean, if you'd met me before her, you would've fallen in love with me, then?" she asked hopefully. To have that consolation, at least...

Ranma hesitated before answering. "I don't know."

"Dammit, can't you lie to me just once?" she cried out angrily. "Just to make me feel better? Why do you have to break my heart over and over again?"

Ranma looked at her, his eyes sad. "I've tried to do that, Ucchan. For almost two years, I've tried to deny my feelings. I've put off making a decision, 'cause I was afraid of hurting people. Like how I'm hurting you now." He looked down. "I don't wanna do that no more. I don't wanna be like Oyaji, running away from my problems. I don't want to hurt you, Ucchan. But I can't hide from myself any more."

Her anger dissipated. "You're nothing like your father, Ranchan," she said hoarsely. "You're the nicest, most honorable man I've ever known." Despite herself, tears welled up in her eyes. "That's why I love you so much."

Ranma stood awkwardly beside her as Ukyou wiped at her tears impatiently. "It's okay, Ranchan. Really." She started forward. "I have to go home."

Ranma stepped in front of her. "At least let me take you home."

She shook her head. "No. I'll be fine, don't worry."

He continued to look at her worriedly. She tried for a wobbly smile, for his benefit. Because, even now, her stupid heart still couldn't bear to see him unhappy.

"I really need to be alone, Ranc- Ranma. Please?"

She walked away slowly, and this time, he didn't get in her way. Then, his voice called from behind her, "I still want to be your friend, Ucchan."

She looked over her shoulder. He was standing in the same spot, his eyes filled with indescribable sorrow, as he stared after her.

Drawing a long, ragged breath, she nodded slowly. "I want to be your friend, too, Ranm...Ranchan."

"Are you sure you'll be okay?"

She nodded again. "See you in school," she said softly.

"Okay, then." Shooting her one last concerned look, he turned and walked away.

She stood silently, watching him as he strode away, the faint glow from the streetlights illuminating his athletic form, until he disappeared around the corner. Her subconscious chose this moment to take her back through time. She saw six-year old Ranma, sitting on top of their okonomiyaki cart, waving goodbye to her cheerfully as he walked out of her life, leaving her alone.


Tears burned her vision, and this time, she made no effort to contain them. "Goodbye, Ranchan," she whispered softly. "I love you."


Author's notes:

I know, this idea has been done to death already, and I'm not even an "Ukyou" fan, so why did I write something like this? ^_^

All I can say is, inspiration struck, and there it was.

Also, the characterization of Akane is a little "biased" here, and it was portrayed from Ukyou's POV, not mine.

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