Up On The Roof

One day, your life changes.

One day, your world changes.

One day, you change.

I've been thinking about that a lot, lately.

About how, one day, you're doing what you do, doing ordinary things, everyday things...

...and then something happens, and things are never going to be the same.

Ever again.

Even if you try to put things back...

Even if things go back the way they were, /you/ can't go back to the way you were. You've changed.

And you can't change back.

"Don't even /try/ to understand. How could you?'

Arrogant. Arrogant, angry... and /scared/.

I thought... I thought no-one else would understand. They didn't know what had happened, what had been done.

They'd never seen what I'd seen, all the stuff I'd seen.

Monsters and nightmares and terrors...

It wasn't part of /their/ world. How could they understand?

Even the Doctor.

Even the guy who looks in the mirror and finds himself faced with a stranger.

/He/ didn't end up looking like a monster.

But it happened to him, too. He was doing what /he/ did, the adventure thing... and then his life changed, his /body/ changed, and he couldn't go back to the way it used to be.

So he went forward. Living with the change.

Not making the change his /life/...

The water's stopped glugging.


Take a step back...

One dripping wet Ryouga, with towel round his waist.

And a glare at the girl who got him in this.


'Izzy? My clothes?'

'Here you go.'

He snatches them, and retreats back inside.


Grief, he should /know/ what would happen, the more people around who know about his changing into a pig...

Which's a good thing. For me, for him, for Akane... and for the structure of the house.

Don't think even the /Doctor's/ budget could accommodate /that/ many repairs.

Seconds later...

...he's out of the bathroom, scowling.

Could have been worse.

I could have been in there with him.

'All right. Shall we go?'


And we set off.

He pauses. 'Wait... we're going in the same direction.'


'This /is/ the way out, right?'

'No, it's the way to the roof.'

'The way to the- Why do you want to go to the roof?'

I shrug. 'Have a sit down, watch the stars... usual sort of thing.'

He looks suspiciously at me.

'Got anything better to do?'

He flushes at that one.

But he comes along anyway.


Clouds scudding across the moon. Not a clear night tonight.

Doesn't matter much - watching the clouds across the sky's okay, too. Especially today.

And now we're here...

'What'd happen if you were cured?'

Ryouga blinks. 'You /know/-'

'Just assume, okay? What'd happen if you were cured?'

He frowns. 'I wouldn't have to worry about Akane - or her family - ever finding out about the pig... but then, someone could still /tell/ them about the pig. I think - I /hope/ - Akari wouldn't mind if it were cured...'

This is a new one. 'Akari?'

He clams up.

'Ryouga... who's Akari?'


'You're talking to someone who knows you turn into a pig, /and/ who knows about your crush on Akane. Who's Akari?'

He wavers.

Then he folds faster than a paper tissue. 'Akari Unryuu. Her family have run a pig farm for ages. She's sweet, and gentle, and kind, and-'

Before he can get any further, I ask 'So how did you meet her?'

'I knocked her family's sumo pig unconscious.'


'I knocked her family's sumo pig unconscious, proving I had the strength and skill to be a worthy husband.'

'You knocked-' Okay. I got a quick lesson on /Amazon/ marriages, but this... This is /weird/.


I blink. Wait... 'Wouldn't mind?'

'She's kind, and sweet, and gentle... and she has a fascination with pigs.'

With... /D'oh!/

I should've realised!

Wait a minute...

'Akane... /and/ Akari?'

The massive blush he suddenly develops tells me /everything/ I need to know about /that/.

'Let me guess... If Akane found out you were sleeping in her bed as a pig...'

His blush gets worse. Wow. We really /can/ blush /spectacularly/...

'And if Akari found out you were in love with Akane, and the whole sneaking into her bed thing...'

I'm impressed. I didn't think /anyone/ could reach /that/ colour.

'And on top of this, you're still a /little/ worried she loves you because you turn into a pig, and not for who you are.'


'It's written all over your face.'

And it is.


'Okay... But Akane's chosen Ranma.'

He nods dolefully. 'I know. It... still hurts, but... I know.'

'So what's stopping you from going to Akari? Apart from the sense of direction?'

He flinches.


'It /is/ my family's accursed sense of direction. I could never seem to find my way back to her family's farm. Then I met you... and the curse got worse.'

I wince. 'Um... sorry.'

Well... it /is/ our fault, in a way.

He doesn't notice. 'And now... thanks to those cursed temporal energies... now I can't even find my way back to the right /time/ period!'

We're still not sure how it happened. We know he must have been exposed to temporal energies at some point... problem is, we don't know when.

And the end result is... now, he's getting lost in time /and/ space.

Which /is/ something we're familiar with (thanks, Doctor)... but he takes it to a whole new level.


'You still want to go back to her?'

He stares at me like I've grown an extra antenna. 'Of /course/ I do.'

'Okay, okay...'

He means it, I know that. Means it absolutely.

Like Kuno.

/Kuno/ fell for two women (okay, one of them was Ranma in female forn, but I am /not/ getting into that) and.... couldn't choose between...


Better not mention /that/ insight. He's in enough of a temper as it is.

'How'd it all begin?'

He looks at me. 'Hnh?'

'How'd it begin? You, and Ranma and Akane... how did it all start?'

'With bread.' He looks at me as if I'm going to say something.

I just nod. Compared to some of the things I've been hearing, this is blissfully normal.

Which should give an idea of how weird said things were.

'It began in high school, at lunchtimes. There would always be a rush for the last bread of the day - curry bread, meat bread, seaweed bread... And Ranma would always get it. At /my/ expense.'

'Couldn't /always/ have been at your expense.'

He blinks. 'Huh?'

'If you kept getting lost back then, you couldn't always have been at lunch. And if you weren't always at lunch, then it wasn't always at your expense.'

'But when I /was/ there, it /was/ always at my expense.' he says. 'Now, if I could continue?'

Holds a grudge, this guy...

'In time... I challenged him to a fight. My honour had been offended for the final time. I challenged him... and he never showed up.'


He looks a little uncomfortable. 'Well... he /did/, but after three days, he went home. I finally arrived on the fourth day.'

'Strictly speaking... isn't that saying that you didn't show up on time?'

He glares at me.

'Sorry, sorry...'

'And by the time I showed up... he and his father had already left for the Jusenkyou Springs. So I followed him - he would not run out on our duel. This was a matter of honour.'

'Where you fell in.'

He fidgets again. ' I was knocked in. By a girl and a panda.'

A girl and a panda- uh-oh.

Ranma and Genma.


'Into the Spring of Drowned Black Pig.' he continues, grimacing. 'But that was not the worst of it - in my attempts to escape Jusenkyou, I was nearly boiled and eaten. Fortunately, the boiling water returned me to normal... and I swore that now, Ranma would not escape. Because of him, I had seen /hell/.'

'So you ended up in Nerima.'

He nods. 'And it was /there/ I met Akane... and fell in love with her. But she... not so with me. For one, she was already engaged to Ranma. For another... Icutoffherhair.'


'I cut off her hair. Before I arrived, she had long, lustrous black hair. When I confronted Ranma.... when I confronted him, one of my attacks - the spinning umbrella - sheared most of it off.' His features darken. 'If it had been a little closer, it would have hit her neck.'

I wince.

'And I would have lived with that forever after.' he says quietly.

There's a glow in the air around him - his aura's starting to flare.

I do /not/ want one of his ki-blasts. Not now. 'What happened next?'

'She slapped me. I deserved it, after all. But... I couldn't let go of my honour. I /had/ to see this out. So I arrived at the Tendo Dojo... and my damnable curse kicked in. And Akane thought...' He looks down. 'She thought I really /was/ a baby pig. Her P-chan. And she took me to her bed - to cuddle, like a... teddy bear?'

I nod. 'Go on.'

'But Ranma knew about my curse. He promised to keep it secret - out of consideration. For my pride... and, I sometimes suspect, for my thick-headedness.'

I *look* at him.

'My stubbornness.' he elaborates.

'So who /doesn't/ know about your curse?'

He frowns. 'I think... I think, at the moment, only the Tendos do not know. Everyone else does. Excepting maybe the Kunos...'

I'm seriously impressed. That he's managed to keep it secret - /and/ that no-one's used it against Akane... /that/ is impressive.

Also a little... well, it's weird.

Yeah, I know. Me talking about weird. I mean, you'd have thought they'd catch on...

I think Fey explained it a while back, one of the rules around here. You'll only /believe/ someone transforms when you see it yourself, no matter how similar the two forms are. It's not stupidity... they just don't make the connection, no matter how obvious it is.

My transformation doesn't fall into that category. They /know/.

'Oh. Then what?'

He sighs. 'Then I alternately fought with Ranma, attempting to get him out of the way so I could ask Akane out... or teamed up with him, to save Akane or find a way to break our curses. I learned many things... but I was never able to tell Akane.'

I wince again. 'I know /that/ one.'

Around everyone else - perfectly normal. But you can't tell the person you love how you really feel.

/Especially/ not now. Carrie would... would freak, I think. I'd /like/ to think otherwise, but...

...I got a taste of it, Inside. "Carnival show?", "Animal?", "Deformed?".

If that's how they react...

...how would someone who knew me - knew how I used to be, the human Izzy - react?

There's also the issue of whether they'll /return/ your feelings. They may not feel like that about you... or have the same orientation as you.

It occured to me once. I'm in a perfect position to see whether sexual orientation's determined by the body or the mind. /Destrii/ was practically drooling over the Doctor, but I wasn't straight in the first place... so now I'm in Destrii's body, is it /her/ orientation, or /mine/, that takes over?

I'm /not/ in a hurry to find out.

And I hope the Doctor had that word with Washu...

He looks surprised, then continues. 'Then... I defeated the sumo pig, and met Akari. And then... our final confrontation, on Phoenix Mountain. In that battle... Akane was near death... and Ranma brought her back. He brought her back.

'And they finally realised that they were, in truth, in love with each other.'

"You're not the only girl who one day found herself in a different body."

'Knowing that... I set off for the Unryuu farm.'

'And ended up meeting us.' I finish.

He nods. 'My debt of honour against Ranma is discharged. My love for Akane... it is still there, but Ranma was the one who won her heart, I know. Now... there is Akari.'

'And that thing about you becoming the Norns' Champion.'

He winces. 'I am /still/ not comfortable with that... It was Skuld's idea.'

'But you accepted it.'

'I /know/.'

'And now Kuno thinks /he's/ Skuld's champion, too.'

'Do /not/ remind me...'

'So why not see Akari? Urd, Bell and Skuld wouldn't mind... actually, Skuld might actually be able to find the farm...'

He catches on. 'And then I could return to Akari! Izzy... /thank/ you!'

'Mn.' I look up again. The clouds're thickening. Might be rain. Hope not...

'...Mind if I tell you something?' I say.

'Okay...' he says cautiously.

'It goes a little something like this.

'Once upon a time, there was a man - we'll call him K.

'One day, he found his world had changed.

'/He/ had changed - become something that was part human, and part machine. Something that didn't remember the man he used to be. Somthing called a Cyberman.'

'A... Cyberman?'

'From cybernetics. Cyborgs - part human, part machine - and it's the machine that's supposed to dominate. /Supposed/.' I emphasise.

'Cyborgs? Like the Borg?'

I give him an ironic look. 'We know.'


'Okay. One day, something changes for the Cyberman.

'He gets a soul. Gets a personality. The man dominates the machine.

'But it's a new man. One who remembers being a Cyberman - but not the man he was before. Who doesn't want to remember, because it'd torment him to know what he'd lost, and what he'd never get back. So he moves on. Looking for somewhere where he'll be accepted. Hoping...'

Ryouga's giving me that look. I /know/ the level of self-referentiality here. That doesn't take away from it.

'He calls himself Kroton. That was the Cyberman's name, not his original name - but it's the only name he remembers.'

'Kroton?' His eyes widen.

'And he runs into the Doctor and me... he's on this spaceship being attacked by pirates, and the TARDIS's materialised there too. We meet up with him, the Doctor electrocutes him, and we end up defeating the pirates together.'

He's just /looking/ at me now.

'He comes on board the TARDIS... and we end up in another adventure. Confronting one of the Doctor's old enemies, while we try to save the Omniverse.

'Finally... in /this/ final battle... Kroton gets his memories back. Remembers his life before all the changes. He's never forgotten that once, he /was/ human... but now, he remembers K's life. And his wife, Shialla.'

'Kami-sama...' Ryouga whispers.

'He doesn't have his life back... but he has the memories back.

'And then... And then, to save the Omniverse, to keep it going... he Transcends. Transcends without dying.'

'Oh Kami-sama,' he whispers again.

'And now... I'm scared.'

'/You're/ scared?'

'Scared that I'm going to get used to /my/ change. That I'm going to stop finding it strange... because then it means I'm going to forget what it was like to be human. Not forget that I /was/, but forget what it was like... I /saw/ it happen, I don't want it to happen...' I can barely hear my own voice. 'I /want/ my memories, even if I never go back. Even if they hurt...'

He turns away. I'm not surprised.

'But it does hurt... and I want the pain to stop. Want it to stop so /much/ sometimes. Do so much to get back to the way it used to be. Then... then I don't have to /be/ this, /feel/ this...'

The sky is almost black with clouds.

He looks back at me. 'Do you know what I wish, sometimes?'


'I wish I'd never fallen in love with Akane.'

He /must/ see the look on my face at that.

'I wish that, because /then/ I wouldn't feel /this/ inside me. Feel this /loss/, this /pain/. Knowing, knowing for /certain/ that she loves someone else - and he loves her. That my love will not be returned.

'I would be in love with Akari. I wouldn't have to worry about being in love with another girl. It would be Akari alone...'

'We try to move on.' I say quietly. 'It hurts. Each and every step we take hurts - but we try to move on, we try to live. The pain's there - the pain will /be/ there...'

'How do you know?' Ryouga asks.

'Because... Because I met someone Inside who I thought wouldn't understand, not with the life she'd led... Who told me I wasn't the only one who found themselves in a different body, a different life. Who'd lived with her pain ever since, but still lived. Who...'

'Brought you back down?'

'If you're going to put it like /that/...' I give him the ironic look. 'It's the "No-one else can do what we do" thing. Sometimes it's a good thing... other times, you get in over your head. You forget if someone else can do it...'

'True enough.'

I let my breath out. 'Well... not literally over your head. If you can breathe water, anyway.'

He gives me a /look/.


'Mm. Izzy?'


'Thank you.'

'You're welcome. Give my love to Akari.'

'How did- written all over my face?'

'Close enough.'

A spatter of drizzle lands on the roof.

'You know...' Ryouga says after a while. 'Charley said something, just after you'd got back from looking around the temples..'

'Oh?' What's this about?

'She said she thought your antennae were charming.'

I blink. 'She said /what/?'

'She thought the way they could move around, flop down... she thought it was charming.'

'I'm gonna have a word with that girl someday...' I mutter.

"I wouldn't have to worry about being in love with another girl...", he says.

Oh yeah. A word. And soon.

Rain starts to come down from overhead.

'Wonderful.' Ryouga puts his umbrella up. 'Just what I needed... Izzy? Are you okay?'

I /think/ I am, I want to say.

But something else wants to come out of my mouth.

I look up at the clouds.


I open my mouth.

And something else comes out.


I stop hearing /anything/ - at all - for the next four millennia.

Or the next few seconds.

'Izzy...' Ryouga says, very, very carefully (and after the ringing in my ears stops - having a wider aural range is /not/ all it's cracked up to be). 'In the time I've known you, I've learned enough to know that you - none of you - usually generate a ki-aura.'


'And that, because you don't generate one, such an aura wouldn't usually be blue.'


'And that you would not usually be able to use that aura - since you can't generate it - to burst a cloud.'


'So something's going on.'

'Uh-huh.' I finally get my mouth to start working again. 'I think so. Or it might be my fault.'

'Your fault?'

'Something about me adapting to the environment, during a weird mystic communion thing I had while we were looking around a temple.'

'That /would/ explain things.' Ryouga says, without a trace of irony.

'Can we just get inside?'

What was I saying?

Oh yeah. Now I remember.

Then something even nastier occurs to me.

Something about "nine bound together", and "if you accept, it will apply to all".

Something about Anji's fainting spell, and Anji never fainting.

And, because the world works the way it does, I get a sinking feeling where I /hope/ my stomach is...

Because right now, I want to join it.

One day, your world changes.

One day, your life changes.

One day, you change.

Not again...




Copyright 2001 Imran Inayat