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Wave's End -- Starlit Tears
A 'Compass Points' Side-Story

A Ranma ½ story
by Brian Randall

Disclaimer: Ranma is property of Rumiko Takahashi and Viz video

[Chime: One]

Dreams again.

He wasn't lost — never as he had been.

But this time… he didn't know where he was.

Oddly, he still had no real sense of being lost… just not knowing where he was.

He wasn't certain how such a thing could be… so it must have been a dream.

[Fate's Question]

Three sisters surrounded him, each in turn shifting to the last, baffling him.

But beyond that, he knew who they were.

"What do you want with me?"

They froze, becoming static.

The eldest spoke first. "We simply need you to make a choice, poppet."

[Chime: Two]

The grass was always greener.

Not that he'd allow himself to believe that, anymore. It wasn't really greener. Empty promises. The only real things in the world were those that you crafted with your own hands. Real things.

Things that could be touched, carried…

Not the flimsy ethereal stuff of dreams.


Sometimes, he noticed, his mind wandered.

And with it, his feet, though never as far as he once had traveled.

He shook his head, turning his attention back to the road, and the call that drew him onward.

"Akari…" he murmured.

[Chime: Three]

How many chances, he wondered, to change a life?

How many opportunities to change what he had done, what he had been…

And try to make a better person of himself for it?


"Firstly," she said, "we offer you the stuff of dreams. To make real that which is… not."

He blinked, moving to answer, but was hushed by a finger across his lips.

"Listen to all, then decide."


She hummed softly, washing the dishes, and gasping slightly, as she thought on the thing she had bought earlier that day. And the answer it had given her.

Something that would change her marriage, she felt, and only for the better.

But he seemed so distant, lately…

[Chime: Four]

"It's fading," he mused, eyeing the target before him.

He tried again, gathering his will, his anger, his depression, his very essence… and throwing it all into one concentrated point.

A ball of sickly light projected from his fingers, becoming insubstantial and winking out before reaching the stone he faced. "Huh," he mumbled. "Maybe… maybe it never really was real?"


"We can let you grow in ways you had thought closed to you forever."

He nodded dubiously, remembering to remain silent.


"Mmm…" she murmured contently, leaning into his arm, as he enfolded her gently.

He smiled, smelling deeply of her hair, and staring into the fire they sat near. "I think… I think I'm happy."

"Mm? I know I am."

[Chime: Five]

He grunted, barely managing to lever the gigantic creature before him over, pushing it back into the pen it had come from. "That's not good," he muttered, catching his breath.


He shook his head, staring at his hands, ignoring the sweat that had formed on his face despite the nearly constant winter of the last two years. "I thought I was stronger…"


"We can give you back what you've lost. Everything you've had to do without…"

He blinked, considering. His lost strength, his power… all of that could be returned to him?


"Dearest?" she whispered into the darkness, his form next to hers on their small bed.


"I wanted to tell you first… you're going to be a father."

He smiled, embracing her in the night, happiness overwhelming all else for the moment.

[Chime: Six]

He nodded, dismissing her worried question. "Not as tough as I thought I was."


"Everything is fine, I think."

[Hero's answer]

"No…" he said, smiling. "It's not worth it. Sorry. I don't want to be anything other than what I am. I'm… happy this way."

In one voice, they returned, "As it will be."


"Dearest?" she murmured sleepily, as he stirred near her.

"Nothing," he whispered, watching her outline in the faint light of the stars, tears of joy blurring his vision. "I love you."

"I love you too, dearest," she answered, moving to be closer with him again.


Author's Notes: Hm… what to say? And here you thought that I hated Ryouga.

I don't. But really, I think that he's got a much better chance of living a 'normal' life than anyone else…

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