I invited my former fiance over for lunch at my place. Let me tell you about it.

He took off his hat and scarf as he sat down -- strange things to be wearing in early spring, I thought -- and I could see bumps and bruises scattered across his once-handsome face. "She did that to you, didn't she!"

He ignored me and dove into the food I had set out. "Mmmm! Delicious. You don't know how good it is to eat this after months and months of the wife's cookin'. Her stuff is definitely not made for human consumption."

"I see she's been redecorating your face, too." I hated to be so blunt, but I couldn't just let it slide. A while back I gave up on loving him -- if I ever really had -- but I still considered him a friend, and I still felt pain for him.

"Yeah," he sheepishly admitted. "There ain't nothin' to do about it, though. She's a violent maniac. I never woulda married her if I'd known how bad it would be."

I let out a small "Hmph" before I could stop myself. I certainly had a perfect right to say I told you so, but it seemed pointless now -- like rubbing salt in his wounds. Of course, I was known for my own bad temper -- but it couldn't compare with hers.

"Yeah, you're right. I'm a real jerk. A complete idiot, who deserves what he's getting."

"No! I didn't say that!"

"But it's true, ain't it!"

I tried to find a diplomatic way to put it. "No, you're not an idiot. I've seen you do some very clever things when you put your mind to it. You're just someone who... who lives for the present moment, without thinking much about the future. You tend to follow the path of least resistance." He glowered at those last words I said. Okay, it was a pretty unkind metaphor to use. That's me, little miss foot-in-mouth.

He sighed. "Yup. Story of my life, I guess. Maybe that's what they'll carve on my tombstone." I wish I could tell you that he was smiling when he said that. "I ended up married to her just 'cause we lived in the same house -- 'cause she was with me all the time and you weren't."

I took hold of his hand. "Look, it's not too late to get help! There are places you can go!"

"Places where I could be safe? From her?"

Obviously not. Scratch one stupid idea.

"Nope," he said in answer to his own question. "It's dangerous enough being here. If she knew I was seeing you, she'd kill both of us. You know that. You know how jealous she is. I shoulda known too. I just didn't pay attention. Just didn't want to see the kind of person she was."

He pushed his chair away from the table and stood up. "Just forget you ever knew me. You're better off that way." With a quick wave, he was gone, putting on his hat and scarf as he slipped out the door.

I just sat there, unable to react, completely helpless. I was losing a friend -- an ex-lover -- maybe someone I still loved -- and there was nothing I could do for him. Nothing.

I called after him, in a whisper that he couldn't possibly hear, yet somehow I hoped he would.

"Good luck, Ataru."

Oh, did you think I was someone else?


Note to readers: Yes, it's an Urusei Yatsura fic, not Ranma 1/2. Putting it in the non-Ranma section of my page would've ruined the surprise, I think. Besides, it's really meant as a response to "Bitter End" and other Akane-bashing that goes on. Lum seems to me much more jealous, possessive, and underhanded than Akane. I guess someone who goes around in a tiger-striped bikini can be forgiven more easily. :-)

- Gary
- Shinobu supporter