Author's Note: A word of advice: never get depressed in the early morning hours of Easter Sunday. You might end up writing something like this. All characters are the creation of Rumiko Takahashi. I beg pardon if the powers that be take offense.


A MAN I'LL NEVER BE


by Nicholas W. Leifker


"Well, I'd better be heading back to the Nekohanten. The place is probably falling apart without me. I'll see you later, Ranma." Mousse turns to me, smiles, and rises from the bath, quickly grabbing a towel to dry off.

"Take care, Mousse. And Mousse...thanks." I try to smile convincingly, then turn to face Ryouga.

"Heh. I need to be going too. Enjoy your bath, Ranma." Ryouga rises from the bath and walks over to the shower. A wicked smile adorns his face as he turns the cold water on. I find a subtle fascination spreading through me as I watch his features change...Mousse carefully turns off the water and opens the door to leave. P-chan follows, eager to be with Akane. For once, I'm not in the mood to follow. I rise from the tub, close the door, and slide back into the comforting water, grateful for the privacy.

A slight tremor goes through me, rippling the water around me. I close my eyes tightly, trying not to see...not to think about what...what happened. God, it was close...If Ryouga hadn't gone down after the Kaisuihuu...If Herb had guessed my Hiryuu Koorin Dan...If...if...God, I can't stop shaking... can't stop...thinking...about what...what almost happened...to be stuck... forever...

Quivering hands splash water on my face, desperate for anything to calm down. Rubbing my eyes, I look down at myself...a masculine form...for once... My fear turns to anger as I focus on Herb's crime. He...He tried to take away...everything I have...everything I am...

Akane. I...I...During the fight with Herb...it was thoughts of her that kept me going...kept me fighting...despite Herb's power. Of all...of all the reasons...why her? She hits me constantly with that mallet of hers, calls me a pervert...yet...when I got home...she came over to me...hugged me...cried... A chill sweeps through me as I think of the subtle feel of her heartbeat... her tears...her...Does she...

No way. There's no chance...All I am in her eyes is some perverted loud-mouthed sex-changing free-loading jerk. So...why her? Of all the girls it could be...why her? Why can't I get my mind off of her? If I wanted to, I could have Ukyou...or Shampoo...or even Kodachi...

Uh...maybe not. Ukyou...she's a friend, perhaps my oldest and closest friend...she's attractive, intelligent, resourceful...but...could we live together...like that? Probably not...

Shampoo? She's cute and strong...but I couldn't live with her. She's too...too...unpredictable. One minute, she'd be all over you, the next trying to kill you. Her great-grandmother doesn't help matters any.

Kodachi? I have more than enough nightmares, thank you very much.

Nightmares. It feels like my entire life has been one big nightmare. Once upon a time, I would have nightmares about cats...clawing... scratching...Now, whenever I close my eyes...I see...the pool rushing to meet me...the swirling water around me, weaving its magic...the look in the guide's face as I surface...my body...my...

I rise from the bathtub and head for the shower. Shaking hands reach for the handle, turning on the cold water.

The change...it's something that can't really be described...it feels like your foot's asleep for a second, only it's spread over your entire body...I force my eyes open, watching as the change comes over me...as... as certain features shift...breasts...expand...body...shrinks...The shaking knocks me to my knees as I hold onto myself, trembling.

Why me, dammit? WHY ME??? Because...of...of this...I can't...I...can't visit my mom without...posing...as "Ranko"...I can't enjoy the rain...or a nice swim...I...can't....

I can't tell Akane I love her.

I can't...I can't ask her...like this...Noone...noone should be... asked for that...noone...

Tears start to well in my eyes...a small corner of my mind fights it, desperately calling them back... "Come on...Guys don't cry..." my mind urges...but the message is delivered to the wrong crowd.

Because...as much as my natural form...this is who I am.

And there is nothing I can do about it.


Additional Author's Notes:
When I wrote this, around 1 AM on Easter morning, I was in a serious deep blue funk...things haven't been anywhere near normal lately, so I vented my frustrations on notebook paper. The title comes from an old Boston tune, about a guy whose girlfriend sees something in him that isn't there (at least in his way of thinking). I think the song is very appropriate for Ranma's character...the boyo's got a serious fragile male ego problem...All the girls see the man inside him...even if he doesn't.

Thanks...

To Rumiko Takahashi, the creator of this adventure we call Ranma 1/2.

To Doug, my roommate, for the use of his computer.

To ANOC, for being there with plenty of anime and laughs.

To my parents, for showing me how to shoot for goals...even if you do fall short, at least you get farther than doing nothing.

Nicholas W. Leifker
"Nightelf"
April 12, 1996


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A Man I'll Never Be, 20 April 1996