More Than One...
"Son, listen well to the words of your father."
What the hell is this? Oyaji!
"Which do you like more: Ukyo or okonomiyaki?"
The young Saotome Ranma looked at the half-eaten piece of food in his hands and didn't hesitate in exclaiming his response.
No! It's this again!
"Ucchan, sayonara!" Ranma called and waved good-bye as he rode atop the departing yattai that his father pulled.
"You jerks!" the little Kuonji Ukyo shouted after them, "You told me you'd take me with you!" and continued her chase and cursing for as long as until she tripped on the side of the road and was left in the dust.
"UCCHAN!!!" Ranma bolted up from his futon in the cold sweat that had drenched him during his nightmare. He shot a cold look to the snoring panda who continued to sleep as he thought, Damn you old man. Putting the blame on me for abandoning my only friend when I don't even remember anything about it. The young martial artist was feeling so disgusted at that moment that he didn't even want to be in the same building as his father, let alone the same room. After taking a moment to wash his face and throw some clothes on, he headed outside and onto the roof to think about his dream of the past, which had been haunting him every night so far that week.
The small strip of light on the horizon told Ranma that dawn was soon approaching, giving him plenty of time to think before he had to go to school that Tuesday morning. What had surprised him at that moment was the fact that nobody had shouted at him or hit him for making so much noise with his loud awakening as tended to happen when he was experiencing a nightmare.
That ain't important, he thought, I just want to know why I'm dreamin' about ten years ago. Why can't I remember "choosing" okonomiyaki over Ukyo? And why don't I trust oyaji about that story?
Twenty minutes passed without a solution and Ranma decided that he wasn't going to be able to figure this one out on his own. Slipping quietly off the top of the house and over the gate, Ranma ran along the fence towards the place he needed to go to. I hope he's awake, he thought. His wish was granted, for when he arrived at Dr. Tofu's clinic the older man was just exiting the building.
"Tofu-sensei!" Ranma called as he ran up to meet him.
"Ranma-kun, you're up early," Dr. Tofu commented as he made sure the door was locked.
"I need to talk to you," he spoke directly.
"I'm afraid it will have to wait. I just got a call from Konatsu-chan. He says that Ukyo-chan has a high fever and is crying out in her sleep."
"Ucchan?" Ranma felt a large sense of dread enter his stomach, "Then what are we waiting for?"
The two men wasted no time in hurrying towards the Okonomiyaki Ucchan at full speed. When they arrived, Konatsu was already waiting for them at the front door.
"Tofu-sensei," he looked calm but sounded frantic, "Ranma-sama! I'm so glad you're here! I tried calling you but Kasumi-san said you weren't home!"
"Konatsu," Ranma asked, "what's wrong with Ucchan?"
"I don't know," the male kunoichi answered while he led them in, "Ukyo-sama is thrashing in her sleep, throwing off any blankets I put on her and calling after someone. I've tried but I can't wake her up!"
"She must be having a terrible nightmare," Dr. Tofu guessed as the three of them reached the top of the stairs.
Inside of Ukyo's bedroom, the okonomiyaki chef had again thrown the blankets from her bed and was thrashing about violently as she was crying, "No! You promised you'd take me with you! Don't leave me behind!"
"That has been all she's said. What is she talking about?" Konatsu asked. Ranma was unable to answer as he felt an enormous lump form in his throat.
"It's definitely a fever dream," Dr. Tofu concluded as he felt her forehead, "she's burning up."
"It's more than that," Ranma spoke quietly, "she's having the same dream, only she can't break out of it."
"Ranma-sama, what do you mean?" Konatsu asked again.
"Tofu-sensei, before you do anything, let me try something that should get her up."
"Go ahead," the young doctor stepped aside, "you know more about this than anyone else."
Ranma took a deep breath, put his hands on the shoulders of his childhood friend, and called over her crying, "Ukyo, it's me, Ranma! I'm right here! You're not being left behind! Ucchan, wake up!"
He repeated the same set of phrases a few more times before Ukyo finally began to calm down and stop shouting. Only a few seconds more passed before her eyes opened. The instant she recognized the person above her, she sat up and caught Ranma in a tight hug, crying, "Oh Ranchan, I could hear you call to me."
"Ucchan, what happened," he inquired.
"It was happening all over again," she answered as tears fell down her cheeks, "The promise. The dowry. The pain. It all came back!" As the memories again returned, she broke down and sobbed into his shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Ucchan," was all he could say, over and over. He wanted to be able to tell her that everything would be okay, but he couldn't, not after he had promised he'd take care of her during the incident with her secret sauce and, once it was over, forgot that promise.
Another few minutes passed before she collected herself enough to answer questions from Dr. Tofu. He spent a good half-hour asking her about various reactions she'd been having around certain people or certain events. The answers she gave were mixed, almost as if she couldn't tell what she would do in those situations. She sounded nervous, almost as if she would break apart if a strong gust of wind came by. Once he obtained all of the information he needed, Dr. Tofu was able to complete his diagnosis.
"You're suffering from a mental disorder known as Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome," he informed her, "the pain that you suffered when Ranma-kun's father abandoned you isn't completely healed. What was left had been building inside of you until your body couldn't handle it anymore. The fever dreams you were experiencing were one way for your body to release it, but not without bringing the memory back. Had this continued, you would have probably gone insane."
"I know..." Ukyo sighed, "I forgave Ranchan, but I can never forgive Genma. He has done nothing to seek forgiveness from me or my family."
"Ucchan," Ranma asked quietly, but sternly, "why didn't you ever tell me about this? I would've made oyaji apologize."
"It wouldn't have helped! He'd never apologize sincerely! All he wanted was the yattai! He didn't care what happened to you or me!" Ukyo was still feeling vulnerable, which she displayed by putting her hands to her face and beginning to cry again, "I hate him! I hate his guts!"
"Ranma-kun," Dr. Tofu chided, "now isn't the time to say such things. Ukyo-chan is on the verge of a nervous breakdown."
Ranma took another look at his friend and sat down next to her, "Ucchan, I'm sorry. This is my fault for telling oyaji that I liked okonomiyaki more than you," he said soberly.
"That's not true!" she grabbed his shirt and gave him a tear-filled look, "You were six! You didn't know about the engagement! You didn't even know that I was a girl! Genma tricked you! All he's done is trick and torment you just for his own self and so you can marry Akane!"
"Wait a minute," Dr. Tofu was looking at the calendar, "when did this happen?"
"It was sometime ten years ago," Ranma answered right away and while he couldn't give the exact date, Ukyo could.
"Then it's eleven years now," he pointed at the calendar.
"You mean-" Konatsu began.
"That today is-" Ukyo continued.
"The anniversary of when I left Ucchan?" Ranma finished.
Dr. Tofu nodded, "That could be another cause of your current condition and why you have been dreaming about it."
"Ucchan, I'm not gonna lie to you," Ranma turned to face her again, "I've been dreaming about it too every night this week. I'm tryin' to remember when oyaji asked me that question, but I just can't."
"Ranma-kun, did anything happen to you around this time?" Dr. Tofu asked, "Something that was so traumatic that it's buried so deeply inside your memories that you conscious mind couldn't possibly summon at will?"
"Well, the only thing that I can think of is-" he quickly realized his answer, "oh..."
"Ranma-sama," Konatsu spoke, "what's wrong?"
"The Neko-ken," he replied, shuddering.
"That's understandable," Dr. Tofu folded his arms and lifted one hand to rest his chin into, "but Ranma-kun, if you haven't completely buried those memories, the trauma you suffered could overtake your mind and body and you'd be going through the same thing that Ukyo-chan is facing."
Ranma looked at the girl known as his cute fiancÚ then back to the older man, "Tofu-sensei, how can I remember the time I left Ucchan behind? I want to know the truth, even if it means going through being thrown into a cellar full of hungry cats."
"You're a brave young man, Ranma-kun," Dr. Tofu smiled at him and stepped towards the door, "in order to do this I need to grab something from the clinic. I'll be right back." With those words, he headed downstairs and out of the restaurant.
"Ukyo-sama," Konatsu looked at his boss, "is there anything I can do for you?"
"Yes, Konatsu, there is," Ukyo nodded, "go downstairs and wait for Tofu-sensei. I want to talk to Ranchan alone."
"Yes, Ukyo-sama," the ninja suddenly seemed faded from their view.
"Ucchan?" Ranma blinked when she suddenly hugged him again.
"I wasn't lying when I said, 'My Ranchan is a hunky man,' on the day I learned about your curse. I almost can't believe that you'd do something so hard for me. But I know you, Ranchan, and I'm so happy that you're willing to face your fears for me."
"This is my fault, Ucchan," he told her, "I'm the one who should be like this."
"I told you it wasn't your fault, jackass!" Her voice became angry as she glared at him, "It wasn't your fault that you didn't know I was a girl! It wasn't your fault that Genma tricked you and stole my dad's yattai! How many times do I have to tell you that it wasn't your fault!" As she said this, her anger slowly vanished as the trauma again surfaced. She did everything she could to suppress more tears, but failed. Ranma couldn't bear to see his best pal in pain like this.
"Ucchan..." he surprised her by returning her previous hug, "let it all out. Let your pain go."
"Ranchan..." although he couldn't have seen it, her face was now red. She could feel his concern for her, and even though it wasn't the love she felt for him that she wished he would return, it was enough for her to fully open herself to him as she cried, "I was so lonely. And even though I was hunting you for revenge, I missed you, Ranchan."
"I know. There were times when I thought about you a lot and for a long time I even asked oyaji if we could go and visit you. But when I'd ask, he'd change the subject. It got so bad that I almost forgot you, until you showed up at school."
"Ranchan, if you knew that I was a girl from the start, would things have been different?"
"I don't know," he shook his head, "but I wish I did."
No more words were exchanged between the two of them until Konatsu returned from downstairs with Dr. Tofu immediately behind. The doctor was carrying a small tea kettle. He poured a cupful and handed it to Ranma.
"Drink this," he instructed, "it's a special herbal blend that aids in memory recovery. I use it when trying to remember a series of pressure points and I don't want to dig through all my books to find it."
"All right," Ranma didn't hesitate to down the dark-green liquid in one gulp. He was immediately glad that none of the other three in the room had a camera to capture the expression on his face when he found out how bitter the tea was.
"Blaugh! What is this stuff!" He had to give it everything he had to keep the liquid down.
"Actually, it might be a good thing you drank it all at once," Dr. Tofu was dead serious, "personally I can't stand more than a single sip of that tea."
Ranma was about to say something else, but he was interrupted as he could literally feel long forgotten memories come flooding into his mind.
"Hey," he exclaimed, "I can remember a lot of stuff from when I was a kid! I can remember leaving on that ten-year training trip and... signing that promise... to Mom..." his excitement faded as he thought about his mother.
"Ranchan?" Ukyo's voice was filled with concern.
The pig-tailed man just shook his head and continued to delve into his memories as they surfaced to his conscious brain level.
"It's all coming back now, the time I spent with Ucchan in Kyoto. Every day we played and sparred and I got a free lunch. We were there for a couple of months before oyaji suddenly came and asked me that question. I'd just eaten lunch when he sat behind me and asked..."
Several more seconds of silence passed as Ranma recalled the whole incident. The nasty twitch his eyebrows were making was more than enough to say that he was getting beyond angry. The other three all asked his name numerous times before he spoke again.
"OYAJI!!!" he finally exploded and, without warning, crashed through Ukyo's bedroom window and sprinted back towards the Tendo dojo in the early morning light.
"We need to go after him!" Ukyo exclaimed as she immediately leapt out of her bed, grabbed some normal clothes, and dashed into the bathroom to get dressed.
"I've never seen him this angry," Dr. Tofu observed as they waited, "it could be more dangerous for him than anyone."
"Ranma-sama..." Konatsu spoke softly.
The Final Battle (Lagoon)
Damn you, old man! Damn you to hell! I'm going to kill you with my bare hands! Ranma's angry form tore through the streets, sending people out of his way as they became afraid of him. The fire in his eyes and his aura that had burned when he found out Tsubasa's true gender was now merely a lit match against the light of an atomic explosion. Even if he had run into all of Ryoga, Kuno, and Mousse on the way back, he was so enraged that his power would have let him simply swat all three aside like mosquitoes. He finally reached the gates of the Tendo household and stormed into the house, where everyone was still eating breakfast.
"Oyaji!" the disgust he felt upon seeing his father made him want to vomit. But the devil head he formed upon shouting Genma's title was far more fearsome than anything Soun and Happosai could have created, combined!
"Ranma, you look like you need to cool off," Happosai produced a bucket of cold water and leapt for his pupil, only to be smacked aside with his arm and sent over the horizon due to his power of anger and adrenaline.
"I'll deal with you later, old freak!" Ranma's voice may as well have been fire as he approached Genma, "Oyaji, outside, now!"
"Ranma, if you're so upset that I ate your share because you weren't here for breakfast then you shouldn't run off."
"Cut the crap!" Ranma grabbed his father's shirt, "I said 'outside!' The Tendos have treated me kindly and have gone through a lot to put up with all of the messes you've put them in and I don't want to mess up their home with your blood as I tear you apart!"
"Ranma, what's gotten into you?" Akane asked as she stood up. The look he gave her was more than enough to give her the message of "back off."
"This ain't got nothin' to do with you, Akane, or anyone from your family," he emphasized with words, "this is between me and oyaji!"
"Hmph," Genma snorted, "if you want a fight that badly then just say so," and walked towards the back door.
As difficult as it was, Ranma held onto his desire to attack then and there, but only had to wait until they were both safely outside. All four of the Tendos watched the unfolding scene, despite the fact that it was time for Akane and Nabiki to leave for school.
"Now," Genma folded his arms, "what's your problem this time, boy?"
"'Which do you like more: Ukyo or okonomiyaki?' my ass!" Ranma accused as he entered his stance.
"You know the blame is on your head for the decision you made. You knew that I left it up to you. The anger your showing and dwelling on the past is a sign of weakness. You'll be so easy to beat that after I do, we'll have to start your training all over again." Genma was dead wrong as his son broke the sound barrier in his charge, successfully landed a full series of Kachuu Tenshin Amaguriken punches in his face, and spent several minutes landing even more countless blows of punches and kicks through his broken defenses. Even when he was down on the ground and completely unconscious, his enraged son still wasn't finished.
"It's time you died, old man! This is for everything you've done to Ucchan, me, and Mom!" he declared as a green sphere of anger-filled energy began growing in his hands.
This is it, oyaji, he thought, now you will die and rot in hell!
"Ranma, stop!" Akane shouted, "He's your father!"
It penetrated nothing.
At long last, I'll be rid of you and all your damn lies!
"Think of what you're doing!" Soun warned, "You'll be guilty of murder! Your honor would forever be lost and when you marry Akane it will taint my family as well!"
Again, he did not hear.
I don't care about anything anymore! To hell with it all!
Ranma truly didn't care if the recoil of the blast would kill him, but he would die a happy man if Genma never stood up again.
"Ranchan, stop!" Everyone in the area turned to see Ukyo, followed by Konatsu, and Dr. Tofu (who had been conveniently blindfolded by the ninja once he saw that Kasumi was there), come running into the fray. The okonomiyaki girl didn't hesitate for a second to tackle Ranma to the ground and disrupt his concentration enough to abort the attack.
"Think of how your mother would react!" Ukyo shouted as she gave him a look even more icy than Shampoo's while she wore the Jewel of Reversal.
"So you're on his side!" Ranma's anger had now blinded him and he could no longer think rationally. As the insanity gripped his mind, he raised a hand in front of Ukyo's chest.
Ukyo immediately recalled the words he'd used to wake her up, "Ranma, it's me, Ukyo!"
"I'm right here!"
"You're not being left behind!"
"Ranchan!" she leaned forward a little, "Wake up!"
"The sound of his childhood nickname and the voice of the person who spoke it was enough to set his mind back to normal for a brief moment. He was about to shake his head, lose his sanity again, and ready another Shishi Hokodan when he was distracted by something he felt as he sat up a little further. His hand was now directly on Ukyo's breast!
"HANDS OFF!!!" she shouted in her instinctive reaction and the slap followed suit. Even though Ranma was slightly dazed, his sanity had been restored enough to allow his mind to continue its journey through life and quickly recalled the next major even that would scar him forever. He suddenly began to shriek like a banshee as he wildly swung his arms around, yelling, "Get 'em off! GET 'EM OFF!!!"
"He's remembering being thrown into the cellar of cats!" Ukyo exclaimed, having an even harder time holding him down.
"Mom, it hurts! The cats are tearing me up! Oyaji is up there telling me to take it like a man!"
"He's calling out to his mother," Kasumi spoke softly.
"We've got to stop him from entering the Neko-ken!" Ukyo shouted above Ranma's cries of a child in pain.
"Tofu-sensei," Konatsu turned to him, "what should we do?"
"Ukyo-chan," Dr. Tofu ordered, "give him the treatment only available to the people who have been to Jusenkyo!"
"Right!" Ukyo affirmed and, using all of her strength, was able to drag Ranma over and into the pond. His wild thrashing nearly caused her to lose balance and fall in with him.
A few seconds passed before Ranma-chan broke the surface of the water, breathing heavily but with a conscious and rational mindset.
"Ucchan, thank you," she said.
"Ranma-kun," Soun was now examining his defeated friend, "what is the meaning of this madness?"
"Ojii-san," Ranma's voice was dead serious as the words left her mouth, "I can't marry one of your daughters."
"What?" Soun's explosion brought him into devil head mode, but Ranma didn't flinch.
"Don't make me fight you too, Ojii-san," she continued, "I learned the truth behind oyaji's engaging me to Ucchan and taking the dowry. Ukyo is my only legitimate fiancÚ."
Gasps came from all directions while Akane, who stood in disbelief, shouted, "No! NO!!!" then ran into the house.
"Akane!" her sisters called after her.
"Let's go inside," Ranma continued, "I'll tell you the truth behind my 'choosing' okonomiyaki over Ukyo."
The young girl had just barely climbed out of the pond when an older female voice called, "Hello? Good morning, it's me again!"
Mom! Ranma's mind recognized the voice of his male-half's mother and she immediately grinned, This is too perfect.
"Hello everyone," Saotome Nodoka greeted as she rounded the corner and caught sight of all of them, "Ranko-chan, you're all wet!"
Ranma simply laughed and scratched the back of her head, "Well, it is warm out here."
"Auntie Saotome," Nabiki walked over to her, "there's something you should see," and gestured over to the bruised and broken Genma.
Nodoka did a double-take before running over and crying, "My husband! What kind of brute could have done such a thing!"
During these few seconds, Ranma had run back into the kitchen and grabbed the tea kettle that had been used for breakfast. She returned just in time to answer, "I did."
Nodoka turned around, "Ranko-chan?"
"No, there is no Ranko. There never was. I was afraid before, but after what just happened, not anymore," she poured the hot water over herself. "Mom, it's me, Ranma."
He nodded, then practically felt a knife stab into his back when he saw his mother faint.
The next hour was spent trying to revive Nodoka and, once that was done, explain Ranma's curse and his multiple fiancÚ problem.
"But Ranma, you were first promised to Akane-chan," Nodoka spoke after the story was over.
"Not Akane, Mom," Ranma felt he was putting his life on the line by saying this, "the promise was to any one of the three Tendo daughters. The day we met, Ojii-san presented them to me and said, 'Choose any one of them, she's your fiancÚ.' Before I could make my own choice, the other two said, 'He wants Akane.' Since I was asked to choose and never did, I could still pick any one of 'em right now, but I've been going along with this hoping that I'd actually ever get to have any say in this mess. But during this whole time, a lot of the other girls oyaji engaged me to showed up and that didn't make things any easier."
"How could he do such a thing?" Nodoka looked at her still unconscious husband, "But the original promise still lies with the Tendos because the dowry of the Tendo dojo is prepared and you will receive it the day you're married."
"I was just getting to that," Ranma gestured to Ukyo, "this is Kuonji Ukyo, my friend Ucchan. She's one of the girls."
"It's nice to meet you, Saotome-san," Ukyo bowed.
"We met not long after oyaji and I left home and were in Kyoto-" he proceeded to explain their entire background, but once he reached the point where Genma had asked him to choose, he stopped.
"Ranchan, what's wrong?" Ukyo asked.
"Bring Akane down here," he requested of no one in particular, "she needs to hear this as much as all of you."
Both Kasumi and Nodoka headed upstairs and weren't successful for nearly twenty minutes. During this whole time, everyone waited impatiently for Ranma to explain the incident that nearly drove him to killing his own father. When the two women returned with Akane, she refused to look at him. He continued the second everyone sat back down.
"Here's the rest of the background," he explained, "I didn't know that the yattai was the dowry, or even about the engagement, nor that Ucchan was a girl. This is was really happened that day, no, those three days-"
Young Ranma sat on the grassy hillside after having finished his lunch. It felt great to be full but he wanted to play with Ucchan some more. He said he couldn't because he had to help his dad first. While Ranma was letting his free okonomiyaki digest, he saw his father approach him.
"Son, listen well to the words of your father," Genma said, "which do you like more: Ukyo or okonomiyaki?"
Ranma didn't hesitate to answer, "Ukyo!"
Genma immediately stepped back, covered with sweat. Ranma didn't know why he'd just done that, but continued to lay in the sun.
The next day, Genma approached him again, this time during lunch.
"Son, listen well to the words of your father," Genma said, "which do you like more: Ukyo or okonomiyaki?"
Again, Ranma answered right away, "Ukyo!"
Genma went even more pale than the day before, and left his son alone for the afternoon. Ranma shrugged again, finished his okonomiyaki, and went to find Ucchan.
The following day, again during lunch, Genma approached his son.
"What are you eating for lunch today, Ranma?" he asked.
"Okonomiyaki!" he answered cheerfully.
"What kind is it?"
"What did you have for lunch yesterday?"
And thus the questions continued, nearly fifty were asked in which the answers to all of them were, of course, "Okonomiyaki!" Then came the fateful one.
"Which do you like more: Ukyo or okonomiyaki?"
The young Saotome Ranma looked at the half-eaten piece of food in his hands and didn't hesitate in exclaiming his response,
That was the answer Genma had been waiting to hear.
"So there you have it," Ranma concluded and folded his arms, "oyaji tricked me, stole the dowry, abandoned my rightful arranged fiancÚ, and blamed it on me for my 'choice' of okonomiyaki when I originally said Ukyo. There was more than one time he asked me, more than one time I answered Ukyo, but there was only one okonomiyaki. The dowry was accepted and the promises to the Tendos and all of the other men whose daughters I was 'promised' to marry were shattered forever."
As he looked around the room he saw that Nodoka's jaw had dropped while Nabiki and Kasumi restrained Akane, while Dr. Tofu Soun, and Konatsu grabbed Ukyo to keep her from finishing Genma off.
Once everyone had been calmed down, courtesy of Dr. Tofu and his knowledge of pressure points (even while blindfolded), Nodoka approached Ukyo.
"Ukyo-san," she bowed, "I wish to apologize on behalf of my family for the wrongs that my husband has brought to you and your family. Tofu-sensei has just told me about your near-nervous breakdown because of what happened and I wish to offer to pay for any therapy you will need."
"Oh, Saotome-san, please don't," Ukyo shook her head.
"But I must in order to begin the long process of restoring the honor of the Saotome name. And I wouldn't want you to be suffering from these harmful effects when you marry my son."
All movement and sounds in the room ceased when Nodoka made that statement. All everyone could do was stare at her.
"Why are you so surprised?" she asked calmly as she drew her katana and pointed the blade at the throat of her now-moving husband, who was truly about to receive a rude awakening.
-This is simply another way I devised for Ranma and Ukyo to get together because I'm adamant for their marriage. But there was another, deeper reason for the incidents in this fanfic. I suffer from the same condition that Ukyo was diagnosed with and nearly had a nervous breakdown at only the age of 20.
-If the true situation of how Ranma "chose" okonomiyaki over Ukyo was the exact same in the Ranma 1/2 series as it is in this fanfic, then Ukyo is and always has been Ranma's only fiancÚ and there is nothing that can make it otherwise.