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In a small home in Bokuto, an angry Ryoga Hibiki wearing a spotted bandanna looked up from the weak miso soup he was calling breakfast as his 'benefactor' Ohata swaggered in. “You said you’d help me win Ukyo from Ranma, and so far you’ve done squat,” Ryoga growled.
Ohata for his part was far from concerned at the threat from the martial artist in the spotted bandanna. He had been imposing on Toko to house the disgruntled martial artist while Jiro worked out how best to use him to interfere in Ranma’s life. In reality he was more worried about Toko giving him trouble rather than this fool. Standing up to Hibiki, he kept the hand behind his back.
”Unlike you who ended up fighting the very man you were partnered with against Saotome,” Jiro reminded the bandanna wearing boy of their last outing the Sunday five days prior. “I have been keeping my eye on our goals. I had a friend play delivery girl to your pretty chef, with a bunch of roses.”
”Roses?” Ryoga squeaked, suddenly hopeful at this development.
Jiro grinned. ”Not cheap in winter either, eleven red and one white rose.”
”Huh, why one white one?”
”Because I took the liberty of signing your name to the card, which said…” Jiro paused, sweeping his hand through his brown hair as he set himself, eyes he vaguely up and to the side of his audience. “In this world there are few who stand out, you are the one who holds my heart.”
Ryoga didn’t really know if it was good, but it sounded like poetry.
”Did she accept them?”
With a wider grin, Ohata brought forth the takeaway okonomiyaki box from behind his back, holding it out to Ryoga. “Breakfast Okonomiyaki. Made fresh just for you, with a message in the sauce. I’d say things are looking up.”
With trembling fingers Ryoga gently open the lid, enjoying the wafting aroma of the food, inhaling deeply as the words were revealed. On it was written words in white Japanese mayonnaise on the think black okonomiyaki sauce.
’The special ingredient is love.’
The grand sigh from the lost boy almost made Jiro’s smile falter, knowing he wouldn’t have long to hold onto this tool should Ukyo forgive him. Though actions could be taken if need be to slow a romance.
With tender care, Ryoga lifted the gift from the box, taking a large bite filled with the taste of such a fine cook as his Ukyo, and filled with the hope of a future he had so often dreamed of.
As his teeth bit off the piece, his mouth was also filled with the pain of biting into the thorny stem of a rose, the thick dark sauce base hiding the petals and stems of the diced gift sent in his name and cooked into the food.
Ohata and Toko winced as all joy left the boy and he began to glow a sickly green.
“Why is there no bacon with these eggs?”
Kodachi smirked at her handsome fiancé, amused by his question of their western breakfast. With a leisurely gesture at their guest in the tiger striped bandanna at the end of the table, the black haired young woman nodded. “How do you boys talk so much without sharing anything? Hohohohohoho!”
Ryoga, looked up at the end of the table, holding half way through eating another serve of eggs and French toast cooked by the help, waiting for her laugh to end, resisting the urge to wince at the sound of her high pitched laughter.
Finally, Kodachi wound down.
“My love, if you had taken the time to talk to your friend about yourselves, you'd know Ryoga-kun has an affinity for pigs. Just as I could never think to dine on the meat of a brethren of Mr Turtle, how could we ask our new friend to do so on the flesh of animals he feels so close to?”
Mikado frowned, glancing at Rygoa, who embarrassed, went back to eating. Kodachi had admitted yesterday his new acquaintance and fiancée had nearly had an embarrassing encounter in the bathroom, she'd even teased him of Ryoga's gentlemanly behavior, but there was something she wasn't telling him about this young man he was using to annoy Tendo and her fiancé Saotome.
Careful not to get any of his breakfast on the crisp white shirt and black slacks his hosts had so kindly loaned him, Ryoga kept eating when there was a knock at the doorway and the diminutive ninja called Sasuke humbly approached.
“Yes Sasuke, what is it?” Mikado asked imperiously.
Bowing to Mikado, Sasuke instead addressed Kodachi. “Mistress, your plants are well, but someone has vandalized a window on your exotic greenhouse.”
The flat eyes of Kodachi on him actually made Sasuke glad he has opened with referring to her prize botanical endeavors as safe. “We have covered the broken pane and await the arrival of the glazer to replace it. However one bunch from your exotic breeds has been taken.”
Kodachi stood angrily at the violation of her garden. “Which flowers were taken?”
“Just some wild orchids, Mistress Kodachi.”
Ryoga looked up, “Like the ones Akane likes?”
“Indeed,” Kodachi said glaring at him. “Would Ranma be the type to steal like this?”
“Well he is cheap like his father,” Ryoga spat back, but after a moment he squirmed and his conscience didn't want to lie to his benefactors. “But he would sneak in rather than break a window. He never gets caught that easy.”
With a mysterious smile Kodachi nodded at her guest in the tiger print bandanna. When she looked back to Sasuke, Kodachi's anger returned. “Find out who took them. Have Akane Tendo watched to see if an admirer had a gift for her.”
Sasuke nodded, bowed and left.
Kodachi turned to the two men with her. “When we find this thief I'll teach him no one steals from the Black Rose and gets away with it.”
With a smirk, Mikado shrugged, “You said that about the kiss I stole from you the day we met.”
“I didn't let you get away did I? Hohohohohohoho!”
Ryoga blushed as his hosts kissed passionately, focusing on his eggs and wondering how Akane laughed.
Outside, Sasuke walked silently down the corridor to the estate yard and the glasshouses, but stopped suddenly with a sly smile. Turning, he went back to go into his tiny office under the stairs and the phone within. One of Akane's classmates would make a better choice than having to spy himself on his Mistress's rival and Master's love interest. And the classmate he had in mind, had been a good source of photos of the Tendo girl for his master. Not much of a photographer, Hikaru Gosunkugi's prior crush on Akane Tendo gave him some gift for photographing her.
Rolling her eyes, Akane watched as Ranma showed off by tipping over to rest on his head, his back against the wall as he slipped both his shoes onto his feet at the same time. Moving for the front gate, Akane just opened it, shaking off an ominous feeling, when she heard an “ack” from behind her.
”Forgot my homework,” Ranma said embarrassed, reversing direction. Rather than remove his shoes to enter the house again, he overturned again, quickly running inside and up the stairs on his hands.
”I’m not waiting forever!” Akane called back, shaking her head.
”Did I ever make you wait?”
The accented voice behind her made Akane spin around, taking a ready stance. The sight of the young Chinese man in exotic clothes, casually standing in the road, sent memories flooding through her, from the warmth of old intimacy to the chill of his betrayal. It took her a long moment to collect herself.
”What do you want, Baka?”
Wincing, Taro stood more formally and gave a short bow. “I was traveling around China looking for anything that might convince your master to change my name to one of my choosing, but things kept reminding me of you.”
Snorting in disgust at his words, Akane glared at him for a long moment, eyes tracing over all the traits she found attractive when dating him, now she was wondering what she was thinking, and compared to her Ranma, she found the features of his face more attractive in his monster form.
Taking hope in her eyes looking over him, Taro swallowed his pride and took a knee, flourishing a bouquet of flowers from behind his back. “I was a fool and a jerk. I had to lose you to realize how much you meant to me.”
Despite herself, Akane’s cheeks pinked in the chill morning air as the jerk who had played her and cast her aside for his pride, apologized and said words that pulled at old wounds. Her brown eyes focused on the flowers he held if only to not look at her ex-boyfriend’s face, pain that he remembered her favourite.
”Grandfather isn’t here, so go away.”
”But Akane,” Taro began, going down on both knees, a display of humility she didn’t expect of him, her mind unable to see Ranma do such the same way. She briefly wondered if he was doing this to play to her sympathies, she wasn’t moved but she was distracted enough that he managed to grab her hand.
The contact surprised her, it nothing special but her body was apparently recalled Ranma’s touch making her shiver.
”Akane, you know we were good together.”
With a flick of her wrist, Akane pressed his hand back with pressure on his wrist, making him hiss in pain. She was about to tell him to leave again when her fiancé darted out of the gate.
Racing to catch up to his fiancée, Ranma had to skid to a stop coming out of the gate finding her standing there. His smile fell as he found yet another guy on his knees offering flowers to his fiancé. His mood dropped in recognition.
”What the hell do you want Pantyhose?”
Ranma’s scorn made the older foreigner flush, worse realizing he was in such a submissive position. Failing an attempt to break Akane’s wrist lock, Taro still managed to get to his feet. ”I’ve got more right to be here than you, fem-boy.”
Akane twisted her grip, “That isn’t your name to answer to, Baka.”
Smirking at his former opponent, Ranma was amused that the Chinese young man was still caught by Akane but trying to look in control. “You know this jackass Akane? Or did he deny his name was Pantyhose to you?”
Finally slipping out of Akane’s grip, the Chinese traveler gave Akane a warning glare that was met with a vicious smile from the Japanese young woman.
”His name was Pantyhose Taro, but I had Grandfather change it months ago. His name is ‘Ecchi-Baka Taro' now, because he was a perverted idiot!”
The anger filled words of his ex-girlfriend still hit him like blows despite the time that had passed, but Ranma laughing at him stoked his shame and embarrassment into anger.
”Nice choice Akane, what’d he do to piss you off?” Ranma asked.
Akane frowned at her fiancé's choice of language, irritated that he sounded as crude as Taro. She shook it off with a shrug. “He used me to get his name changed by Happosai.”
”Hey, Happosai told me to ask you out, I never did it to hurt you.”
”Woah, hold up,” Ranma stated, his voice deepening as his hands raised, palms out. “You mean you dated this jerk? This was your ex-boyfriend?”
Akane got a slight thrill at the obvious anger and jealousy in Ranma’s voice, but suppressed it to glare at him. “I already said he tricked me, making me think he was a decent human being and not a monster.”
”Takes one to know one,” Taro shot back, but neither of the couple cared enough to even glare at him.
Akane gave a shrug. “Besides that was before we even met Ranma, it doesn’t change the fact we’re engaged now.”
Seeing Ranma nod, Taro put together the obvious, “So you’re the one her crybaby father engaged her to. He must really think Akane didn’t like men to set her up with a transvestite.”
Akane bristled, at the insult to her man and her father, knowing the enmity her father had for the Chinese young man while the history between her fiancé and ex almost palpable in the air. “Watch your mouth, Ecchi-Baka.”
Ranma slapped is clenched hand down on his open palm. “I get it, Akane. This is why you can’t cook!”
”What?” Akane exclaimed. “How does me once dating this jerk make me a bad cook?”
”It’s obvious, you have absolutely no taste.”
”Excuse me?” Akane cried, holding up a fist. “I picked you idiot!”
Ignoring the threat and warming to the subject Ranma's jealousy lashed out in explanation. “Actually your old man made the promise. So that proves he has good taste, just like me. You just lucked out.”
Akane’s mouth fell open at his gall.
”And with his ugly mug,” Ranma continued refering to Soun's face, “You must 'ave got your looks from ya Mum. That proves his good taste, but you must have gotten her bad taste. Could she cook?”
Having been insulted, then had her father insulted, then finally her late mother, Akane snapped. “Ranma you jerk!” she cried before booting him into the sky.
Taro smirked, watching his ex stomping off towards school in a rage. Breaking these two up should be easy.
Jogging back, Ranma just caught up to Akane as she reached the gates to the school. His blue eyes saw she was still fuming and he considered apologizing for angering her but when he saw Taro still following her towards the school that idea evaporated. Akane's attitude at least showed she didn't care for the Chinese wanderer with the embarrassing name any more, but as he imagined Taro holding her as his girlfriend even many months ago, his blood churned.
Glancing at her approaching fiancé then giving a final glare at the young man behind her she was ignoring, Akane sighed, caught between her anger for his previous words and warmth of seeing Ranma's feelings so bare on his face. Turning around, she glared again at her ex. “Taro, go away. I am engaged to Ranma and even if I wasn't, I'm not interested in you.”
“You say that in front of the transsexual,” Taro said with a vague gesture at the fuming dark haired young man.
“I'd say it to your face alone too,” Akane shot back in frustration.
“And ya ain't getting her alone, Ecchi-Baka.”
The two glaring boys frustrated Akane, emotions churning she turned away to collect herself. Looking into the dome structure in the High school, she turned back to Ranma. “He isn't going to just leave unless I talk to him.”
Ranma shook his head, “I've driven him off before.”
“You don't have time to fight him if he goes into his monster form before class starts.”
“Says you... wait, you know about his monster form?” Ranma asked, puzzled.
“Of course I do. I saw him use it on Happosai a couple times,” Akane huffed back, not interested in getting off the topic of explaining why she was going to have to talk to Taro in private.
“But you didn't know my curse when you walked in on me in the bath?”
“What has your curse got to do with his monster form?”
“Duh Akane, he changes into it with cold water and back with hot water. It's a Jusenkyo curse too.”
Glancing at the slightly embarrassed Chinese boy, Akane suddenly reviewed her memories of him. “I thought it changed cause he just got angry like the incredible hulk or something.”
“Happosai bathed him in the cursed Spring of Drowned Yeti riding burro holding crane and eel, then he splashed some drowned octopus pool on his back for the tentacles. The ugly he came by naturally.”
“It was Yeti riding Bull, fem-boy” Taro growled back.
“Oh that's right, you were naturally part 'ass',” Ranma shot back, smirking at having Taro fall into the setup like that.
Squeezing her lips shut to not laugh, embarrassed to be amused by her fiancé's crude joking, especially since he just used similar on her, Akane put her hand on Ranma's shoulder to get his attention as she stepped in close.
“Look, I don't want to spend any time with him. But if I don't let him have his say he won't move on. Would you rather he will follow us in and get involved in Love Dome, I don't want to fight him and since you're championing Ranko, do you want him exposing your curse?”
Frowning as Akane's logic drilled into him, Ranma pointed at Taro. “Keep your hands to yourself, Ecchi-Baka.” Turning abruptly he headed off into the school.
Akane watched Ranma move in past the gate and heading for Love Dome quickly to vent on some unsuspecting students wanting to date his cursed form. Turning back, she looked at Taro holding out the bouquet of wild orchids to her again.
The youngest Tendo daughter shook her head and spoke slowly and clearly. “I don't want the flowers, Taro. I don't want to talk to you, and I don't want to help you make Grandfather rename you 'Awesome Taro'.”
Tossing the flowers aside, Taro shook his head. “I don't need your help to have Happosai change my name to one I want. I really am here just because of what I feel for you.”
“It's too late Taro. I'm engaged.”
“Yeah, by a promise your father made. It isn't like fem-boy proposed to you.”
“That's right Taro, insult my fiancé for his curse, way to make me feel even more the fool for ever liking you,” Akane said sarcastically. “Call him names just one more time and I'll make Grandfather an offer to keep your name Ecchi-Baka Taro no matter what you're offering.”
“You are lousy at bluffing, Akane-chan,” Taro said smoothly, pulling out a large piece of paper and unrolling it. “I took this off a martial artist called Lukkosai in Beijing. I was surprised to see your name on it.”
Opening the page like a poster, Akane reddened seeing the color print. The ink was almost magically bright with colors of the rainbow that set without blending together and reflected the light in a way to catch the eye. That the ink showed two round pressings in the paper made by a pair of breasts.
Akane recalled the piece of paper with embarrassment, feeling angry this pervert had it, having made it to try and end the threat Lukkosai posed with the source of the beautiful ink, the Butterfly Brocade.
“Give that to me, you pervert,” Akane commanded moving up to him, but he stepped back, folding the page carefully and sliding it in his vest.
“Take it from me?”
Akane struck fast, lashing out with her foot, only for Taro to flow back out of reach.
Hikaro Gosunkugi was still puffing from climbing up on the building roof as he photoed that cad foreigner Taro talking to Akane. He had hated the foreign boy when Akane had dated him, and he hated him more when he broke her heart. Now she seemed happy to be this new comer, Ranma Saotome, so Taro being back could only hurt his former crush again.
Over time Hikaru had come to accept that Akane would never hold a place for him in her heart, not as he did for her, and his crush had become less intense. Adding in his recent experiences with his 'girlfriend,' Kaori Kumayama, was making him more wary of any girl that much stronger than himself. Most girls were stronger than him but he shivered as the St Hebereke girl two years his junior dragged him to meet her parents. Hopefully with this photo of Taro and the missing flowers he had been told to look for, he could convince Kodachi Kuno to have a word to cool her school junior, or even champion him to break off the relationship he was too weak to end physically or emotionally. That and have someone beat up the foreigner Taro appealed greatly.
Seeing Taro provoke a fight with his classmate, Gosunkugi continued to take photos, camera clicking as the foreigner led the fight away from the school gates to more privacy. With a thanks to the gods, the boy with the black circles under his eyes moved around to the next side of the building the fight moved behind, thankful for not losing sight or having to climb down and find another vantage point.
Taro punched back at Akane, his opponent barely getting her block up to deflect the blow from her face. The Chinese wanderer then had to defend, springing back as she lashed out with kicks to his midsection.
Her increased use of kicks and obvious lightness on her feet was a definite change in her style compared to what he remembered when they used to spar together before the breakup. Still as he lashed out with a hard kick she had no choice but to block, the tug of a smile on her lips let him know she still liked to play rough.
A hard jab for her flank Akane turned aside, grabbing Taro to pull past her twisting body and send him sprawling to the ground, her body recalling hard sparring sessions, his smell reaching her over the child winter air. “Give me the breast print, Taro.”
Ignoring her demand as he stood, Taro gave smiled, “You've gotten better.”
“You haven't. And if you go...”
Akane's threat failed as Taro charged back in with a lashing kick, a feint that felt weak against her block, drawing her arm up as he slugged a punch into her stomach. Gasping for breath, Akane struck back, attacking his blocking arm, twisting up to bash and stun his elbow, shifting his balance as she smoothly counter spun her body to sweep his legs out from under him, smirking at her advantage.
Landing on his hands and drawing his legs in to a crouch, Taro let Akane launch her next kick before standing into it, his arm grabbing and locking her leg to his side. Grabbing her opposing arm to pull her shoulder forward, dragging her arm between them, forcing her torso to twist around denying her good power to weaken blows against his open side. He carefully schooled his face as Akane moved into the final move.
Akane lashed out with her free arm without the momentum of her shoulder anyway, her fist opening as she reached his shoulder, fingers gripping over his shoulder and digging in with all her grip, not a true shiatsu pressure point attack, but very painful if done right, such close contact reminding of making out so long ago.
In pulling his shoulder forward while balancing on one leg, Akane was caught off when Taro mashed his lips on hers.
For one brief moment as Akane froze, Taro thought he had succeeded, pressing to deepen the kiss trying to remind her of what they had briefly had in the past. Stunned for a moment Akane's lips recalled what they had in the past, then she recalled what she had in present, revolution buring past everything else.
With a cry Taro broke his holds and darted back, his lip bleeding from where Akane bit it and his groin stinging lightly from her raising her knee against his hold.
“You Jerk! You perverted pig idiot jerk!” Akane accused wiping at her lips and spitting out the contact with the lips of her ex-boyfriend. “And you're wearing a cup, you cheat.”
Taro winced at the negative reaction, letting his anger surge at the rejection and the stinging around his groin where his protective cup had been driven in hard.
“You felt it. What we had,” Taro snapped. “You think I played you but you just felt how much I cared about us. Obviously more than you did!”
Already angry, having old emotions torn at inflamed Akane more as she glared back at the taller young man. “What we had? What we had was nothing. I cared about you! You were just after my bra to give to Happosai for your precious name change! And what I felt for you was nothing, nothing compared to how Ranma makes me feel now.”
“The fem-boy?” Taro yelled back in surprise. “When we started people were surprised that you even liked guys so I guess no one else is surprised you want to marry a woman.”
“He's ten times the man you are!” Akane cried before booting him hard, sending him over the nearest building to impact into the canal beyond.
With a sob, Akane Tendo turned on her heels and stormed back towards the school tears falling down her cheeks.
Landing with a splash legs first in the icy canal water, Taro lamented coming to Japan in winter. Taking the impact in his suddenly monstrous legs, he kept upright to avoid getting his wings wet. From the crane part of his curses, the wings still worked in the wet but they were more effort and always felt the cold more than the rest of his coarse-furred body.
He glared angrily in the direction of the school and his ex, before sneering his yak lips, realizing that particular bridge was certainly burned while Ranma was in the way. Still that old goat Happosai only wanted them broken up, not him back with her.
With a powerful beat of its wing, the monstrous form of 'Ecchi-Baka Taro' took off towards familiar ground to prepare.
Ranma smirked as he took on another challenger after a date with his 'sister' Ranko, for whom he was officially championing in the Love Dome arena. One of the forwards on school football team, the brown haired senior wore his team outfit including head protection.
Waving on to the bored senior in the black and white shirt acting as referee to the match, Ranma watched as she lazily raised her hand, apparently one of the few to consider this a foregone conclusion.
Like clockwork the footballer rushed in, hoping to tackle Ranma down, believing if you could take the martial artist of his feet he would lose much of his strength and moves. Ranma let him tackle into him stomach, bracing himself, grabbing his opponent around the shoulder with one arm, his other grabbing the football shorts of the senior and lifting.
Instead of finding himself on the ground wrestling down the dark haired new student, the senior was instead hanging head down in the air.
Leaning back Ranma let his victim bend backwards over his shoulder, the limber martial artist all but falling backwards till he felt the footballers feet hit the ground outside the fighting circle then dumped his opponent unceremoniously on his back.
“Winner, Ranma Saotome on behalf of Ranko Saotome,” the bored referee called.
Briefly wondering where Akane was, he glanced to the entrance to see his disheveled and crying fiancée run in.
Jumping over to her, Ranma's face set to anger. “Where is he and what did he do?”
Wherever Taro might have done Akane grabbed his hand with a grip like a vice, dragging him behind her to one of the exits of the arena building, opening the janitors supply cupboard and pushing him inside before following into the dark.
Ranma wasn't sure what to expect when he felt Akane's arms wrap around his torso, locking his arms to his sides, pressing her face to his chest.
Holding his hands to his side so as not to reciprocate the hug with the painful promise still hanging over them, Ranma spoke softly. “What did he do?”
It was a moment before Akane looked up, “Nothing. Just old baggage from that bastard. But this whole week... We got engaged and it should be wonderful but Nabiki and Kasumi knowing about what we did, the girls at school all gossiping and challenging you, Ecchi-Baka coming back, Kuno, Mrs Miyakoji and Ms Hinako, and that stupid promise. It's all so crazy.”
Nodding, Ranma winced as he spoke, “Ah, about that promise...”
Growling Akane squeezed him tighter. “I didn't make that stupid promise, you just have to resist.”
In a pained voice Ranma looked at the top of her head. “That's kind of how Sakura and Shampoo reacted too. I don't want to reject you like I do them.”
Releasing him with disgruntled moan, Akane looked up at him in understanding, before lashing out with her fist to his midsection. Ranma blocked it expecting the reaction, only to be caught as it was a feint, her foot stamping on his toes.
“Thank you,” Ranma said as his mother handed him a plate piled high with shimeji and shiso.
Smiling for her son's gratitude, Nodoka began to prepare a plate for herself, a twinge of humility in her that Kasumi, who was even now serving her sisters, had prepared the almost perfect meal for the two families.
Akane smiled at Ranma's improving manners, expressing his gratitude similarly for Kasumi, Akane's amused at the slight joy her big sister had from being complimented. After school sparring with Ranma had been the most satisfying for nearly a week, not just because she got to vent at Ranma over Taro, or that he was holding back less with his own irritation, but their mutual focus on the art had managed to take things seriously. They had even attempted a couple wrestling holds, though these were broken up by blushing apologies rather than blushing for holding back.
Soun as head of the Tendo family, called for everyone to begin eating and all enjoyed the meal, broken only by Nodoka firstly glaring at her husband for trying to steal from Ranma's plate, then more directly swatting him in the chest hard enough to knock him to his back.
Giving a bemused eye as her baby sister and her fiancé ate in almost synchronized movements, Nabiki tapped her lips with a napkin as she put her chopsticks down completing her own meal.
“Ranma-kun, do you have much homework to do tonight?”
Both Akane and Ranma looked up at the middle sister's question, the former suspicious while the latter surprised. Ranma had planned to head out for some more secret dance training but he couldn't admit to that and call it secret. “Not a lot. Why?”
Smirking a little too smugly, Nabiki kept her voice casual. “I thought I'd like to collect on our bet?”
“Bet?” Akane asked before Ranma could.
“Of course, while you're doing the dishes, since it is your turn, I thought I'd claim the prize, or rather my share of the prize, we won on the bet about Ranma defeating you for the title of champion of breakfast for the month of November?”
Akane frowned trying to recall but Ranma nodded. “Oh the massage. Sure, if you want,” he said, only to glance at Akane when she gave a muffled negative sound.
Holding in the 'No' by her lips, Akane flushed at the jealous surge at the idea of her sister having her fiancé's hands on her, eyes dipping at the amusement in Nabiki's eyes.
“Great,” Nabiki said, standing up. “I'll go get a towel and strip off for you.”
Kasumi's glare on her little sister might have been as dark as Akane's eyes, not that Nabiki paid attention to either, glancing once at Ranma who wasn't even blushing.
“Take your time and wash off first, I'll get some incense sticks and oils.”
Frowning, Nabiki gave a nod and headed for the furo, leaving Ranma to finish his meal. Seeing Akane glare at him before starting to collect plates in a quick fashion, including his unfinished one, Ranma followed as she left for the kitchen.
“What's up with you?”
Akane turned from the sink to her fiancé, aware of the Kasumi preparing to wash up beside her. “Your promise about all girls not just fiancées, that includes my sisters.”
Kasumi gasped at the implication, but Ranma shrugged as Akane went pointedly back to cleaning up. “You know she's trying to get your goat, right? She's playing a tune and you're dancing to it. Actually back when Shampoo and Sakura would come to Doc Tofu's wanting a massage from me they were much more blatant.”
As Ranma recovered from his fiancées fist, watching from the ground as she and Kasumi scrubbed vigorously at the sink, he realized he had probably said the wrong thing.
Soun watched as his future son-in-law left the room, leaving him alone with his old friend and friend's wife.
“Nabiki seems to like him a great deal as well, is that going to be a problem?”
“No Soun,” Nodoka said quietly. “Nabiki knows she can't beat Akane's hold on my son's heart, but she enjoys teasing others too much. I told you when she was younger she needed a pet.”
Soun frowned recalling how hard it was to raise three girls by himself back then without the addition of pets.
Genma shrugged, “Who knows, as long as the boy shacks up with one of your daughters the promise will work out.”
Soun glared at his friend. “Your plan better not get two of my girls in trouble.”
Genma gave a warning wave to shut Soun up about the 'plan', less than effective as he sat in plain view of Nodoka between his wife and old friend.
“What plan is this, Husband?”
Swallowing, Genma affected a calming smile. “Oh just to let nature take its course, just like you wanted us to do. Just stay out of it.”
Lamenting the fact her son had pushed the envelope of his word by doing what came naturally, Nodoka focused on things here. “Husband, just tell me what you did and I will decide if it will foul things up like most of your attempts to help have done.”
“Er, nothing dear. I left the boy a present to help him be more comfortable to express himself.”
“Dear, do you remember the mess when you hid condoms in Ranma's room to make me think he was more manly? Do you remember what it made all the girls think?”
Genma winced, his neck tightening as he used a finger to pull at his collar. “Ah, yeah, about that.”
“Come in,” Nabiki called at Ranma’s knock on the door.
Opening the door with the duck shaped nameplate bearing her name in English, Ranma swallowed. It wasn’t the sight of the topless girl face down with just a towel under her rump, mirth filled eyes shamelessly on him, but the fact that from within minutes of meeting Akane's older sister nearly two months before, he had seen how she had a very similar body shape to his newest fiancée's and his libido was well aware of it.
Nabiki had a sudden nervous flash as her sister's betrothed looked at her body. She wasn't really worried of the exposure. It was really no different to undoing the back of her bikini while sunbathing face down at the beach last summer, but something in his eyes pointed out for the first time his lack of accepting favors from his other pursuers was about control and not lack of interest.
“Good timing, I just laid down. If you had come any sooner it would have been improper.”
Ranma frowned as he laid out his oil bottle, a tube of lotion, a towel, and incense sticks on her desk. “Ah Nabiki, Akane ain't here to hear you, and I've heard worse. If you keep on with the innuendo you'll just distract yourself from relaxing.”
Pouting at the rebuff, Nabiki nodded, watching him light a stick and put it in a holder first, then pick up a tube of lotion. “Fair enough. So what was it like to jump my sister?”
With a pop, Ranma's sudden grip on the tube forced the lid open sending a jet of lotion up the wall. “Could you not talk about that stuff out loud? If Pop or your old man figure out what we did, things would get real awkward.”
Nabiki laughed lightly, slightly higher in pitch but unmistakably like Akane's laugh. “You got that right, when Kasumi got possessed by a demon and ended up caught by Daddy undressed with Akane's ex-boyfriend, there were tears.”
Ranma mistook the mysterious smile on Nabiki's face, his focus on the image in his mind. “He made Taro cry?” he asked nearly laughing.
“Akane told you of her ex?”
“He showed up this morning, but I knew him back when he was Pantyhose Taro. He came after Happosai to change his name but was picking on the rest of us Jusenkyo cursed.”
Nabiki frowned, assimilating the information wondering how such a loud mouth and monster had passed through without her hearing about it, understanding why Akane was upset in Love Dome, and realizing that her sister's monstrous ex was vulnerable to just a splash of hot water.
Rubbing his oiled hands together, Ranma moved beside Nabiki's bed, stopping just short of putting his hands on her. “Are you ready for me to begin?”
Ignoring any nervousness, Nabiki arched her back, relaxing against her bedding. “Please go ahead.”
Ranma pressed his palms against her back, splayed fingers tracing her muscles and bones as he moved up, kneading into her flesh. “You don't have any injuries I should know of do you?” he queried.
“None at all, unless it'll get me special treatment?”
Ranma chuckled, “Nah, means I don't have to hold back.”
Pressing against her skin, he felt her as much as heard her quiet at the contact, pressing her muscles, stretching them on her back to work any stress from them.
Breathing in her nose in time to his long slow presses, Nabiki exhaled a slow moan, lips turning up as she did it again, trying to get closer to what she imagined Akane sounded like on their naughty camping trip.
Listening to the moans, Ranma shook his head. “Is that helping you relax? Akane's moans were more high pitched.”
Giggling at being caught, Nabiki's voice raised mid chuckle as he pressed again.
Shaking his head, Ranma figured it was easier to just get it over with. “Even higher, and faster than that towards the end.”
Slightly embarrassed, Nabiki lightened her voice to impersonate Akanes. “'Shut up'!” she said, smirking as she won a point when Ranma's fingers froze on her back.
For his part, it wasn't only the words bashing his libido from Nabiki that froze Ranma, but Akane's hand suddenly appearing from under her sister's bed, fingernails digging into his calf with a steel grip.
Under Nabiki's bed, Akane grimaced for exposing herself to Ranma, knowing he wasn't a good liar and could give away the fact she was there to Nabiki. Still the whole reason she was here was to prevent Ranma from saying or doing something stupid, with Nabiki no doubt encouraging him or tricking him into such.
Releasing his foot, Akane withdrew her hand slowly, stroking down his foot gently as above Ranma went back to work.
“Ah, Akane told you about that huh? The 'shut ups'”
Akane internally winced as Nabiki laughed above her. “Surely you know girls talk Ranma. Especially sisters. She told me she lost count of how often she said it that night.”
Akane could almost hear Ranma swallowing, his stance moving up as he focused more on Nabiki's shoulders and upper arms.
“Um, what else did she tell you?”
Pinching at the skin of Ranma's foot got the point to change the subject to her fiancé but the question was already asked. Fortunately Nabiki showed her nature. “Oh so much, Ranma-kun. But quid-pro-quo, before I answer another question, you have to answer one of mine.”
Akane almost punched his foot but held back fearing Nabiki would hear an impact. “How long, how many shut ups, did it take before you rationalized your promise as Akane not being a fiancée to break your promise over the engagement?”
Akane wasn't sure if it was her presence that made Ranma stumble over the words looking for how to answer, a smirk tugging at her pink lips when his stance shifted as he worked harder on Nabiki to drag out the time to answer.
“Well, I wasn't really thinking like that. It was just me and her. I'm kind of ashamed she made me forget the promise. It was when I was on the train home I figured I didn't really break it.”
Nabiki's laugh irritated Akane at hearing Ranma's confession, smiling as she found her hand patting his foot like he was a good pet.
“So what question about my Sister would you like next?”
“How serious did Taro and Akane get?”
The pinching of the skin of Ranma's feet hopefully got through to him that this wasn't a good subject either, but Nabiki above her was already answering.
“She had a big crush on him. Cute enough foreign martial artist who'd stood up to Kuno's bullying, she was primed to fall for such a guy,” Nabiki said slightly muffled by relaxing into her pillow. “They had a couple dates, kissed some, he tried for second base but she drew the line there and he'd always walk away frustrated with a hand print on his face. Akane-chan thought it was him just being a perverted boy but I find it even funnier since he was just after her bra.”
“Her bra? What's that about?”
“Akane hadn't told you even that much?” Nabiki said as she shifted above Akane on the mattress, the younger Tendo daughter awkwardly pulling back her hand.
“Well you know he was after Happosai to change his name, well Grandfather told him in secret that he had to get Akane to voluntarily give him her bra, if he got her to do that he could pick his own name.”
“So in he comes, tried to beat Kuno but lost, which just let Akane play 'Florence Nightingale' to him, and they had a couple dates. Like I said he tried to get to second base but Sis kept it above the neck.”
Ranma grunted something but Akane was too nervous to look up at his face.
Nabiki groaned, interrupting her story as his hands worked a recalcitrant muscle group. “Then Kuno had this girl fall for him. Real ditz. Americanized cheerleader, called Minako, no it was Mariko, Mariko Konjo from Seisyun High. She came to our school to cheer on a volleyball team against Akane's, and made Akane lose with her Martial Arts Cheerleading.”
“Yeah Akane told me about that style. Basically support your player and take out the enemy.”
Akane found herself nodding, agreeing with what Ranma found important.
“Akane of course got all prideful and decided to try and out Cheerleader the ditz and they fought over Kuno's attention, when Kodachi Kuno joined in cheering on her fiancé Mikado and playing dirty against her brother with some embarrassing baby photos.”
“Akane sulked back to Taro then realized she didn't have to try and evoke the love of Kuno to win. So she put out a challenge for a big fight between them them all. Nice enough if short fight, Taro was holding his own against Mikado while the girls kept Kuno at bay, when Taro pulled Akane back and slipped her a bra he had stolen earlier. Going with his idea was still bold of her, but she gifted it to him as a show of affection in the fight. Having what he wanted, he humiliated her by turning monster and flying away leaving her as the loser.”
This time it was Ranma that groaned, at the past treatment of his fiancée.
“When she finally found him offering her bra to Happosai, she dumped him, beat him, and then for the only time ever, she offered that if Grandfather would change his name to 'Ecchi-baka Taro', she'd read Grandfather one of his dirty magazine stories with the Martial Arts Naughty Voice he got her trained in.”
Hands freezing, Ranma's voice was shocked, “Martial arts what?”
Akane felt her face was searing hot with rushing blood, both in recalling the first session of training in that obscure art on the first night of training with Grandfather to face down the magically endowed power of Tatewaki Kuno.
“Oh yeah, brought Kuno to his knees after one night of training. Ask her about it, and if she doesn't want to show you I have Grandfather's recording of her reading the filthy magazine story you can listen to.”
Akane wanted to cry in embarrassment.
Feeling Ranma's hands move from her back down to her calves, Nabiki purred into her pillow for a moment before focusing on the opportunity again.
“So after that history lesson, you owe me a big story. Tell me about the time Jiro Ohata kissed you?”
Groaning, Ranma leaned over to begin to work on her feet. “That's just embarrassing. I was tricked.”
“Oh I got that. You did say he kissed you so I didn't think you went and made out with him,” Nabiki said carefully.
Ranma might have been more suspicious if he knew Nabiki better and Akane wasn't soothingly stroking his foot obviously wanting to hear the answer herself.
“Fine, after I turned girl near school one time, Mom and I made up the identity of my sister Ranko, and we acted like I was my own twin sister. After about of week of Jiro and his goon friends trying to bully me and failing, Jiro with his ego decided to try and hit on Ranko. I was even less interested in him like that, and put him down a couple times. But then he came with a newspaper article about some sex fiend who was attacking couples on dates going through this park.”
“He sold it as us going on a fake date, to lure this criminal out and we'd catch him. That impressed mom as manly and she saw it as a chance for me to girl up because she wasn't happy her 'daughter' had a reputation as a tomboy.”
Nabiki started to giggle at that but it failed as his fingers worked the soles of her feet sending delicious aches up her legs.
“That and she said she wanted me to treat it as a real date so I'd understand how a girl feels on a date and be a better man when I started dating. This was before the engagement messes started up pretty much ruining dating for me.”
Nabiki smirked, unaware Akane's pinching fingertips told a different view of that subject. “So where did he take you?”
“Some fancy European place. Mom had me wear this floral dress and do up my hair. I hated it but went with it to try and lure out this criminal if nothing else.”
“So you went through with the date playing the girl.”
He shrugged as he massaged over Nabiki's feet and ankles. “Didn't have to do much acting, Jiro did all the talking about himself. After that we went walking through the park, him putting his arm around me like it was a real date. He tried to put a move on me, saying we should look like we're totally into each other and not watching for this stalker, and he tried to kiss me then, but I was damn sure not gonna let him get away with that.”
“How did he take that?” Nabiki asked, her eyes closed.
“When he tried to force things I twisted his fingers backwards the wrong way till he gave it up, then out of a bush this guy, some friend of Jiro's, jumped up and tried to cop a feel of me but I kicked him in the face. Jiro booted him but just managed to push him back and he ran off. That's when he started on that we had driven the pervert off and kissed me when I wasn't ready.”
Despite the disgust in his voice, Nabiki had to ask. “And how was it.”
“Awful. Not that I wanted it but he was pushing his teeth on mine and trying to get his tongue in my throat. Ug gross.”
Nabiki shrugged her bare shoulders, “I thought a wannabe womanizer like him would know how to kiss at least.”
“Well if I was a girl, I'd still hate it.”
Nabiki smirked at that. “So what did you do?”
“There was a fountain in the park, I knocked him out and caught up to his friend. I left both of them hanging by their underwear from it. The next day he started telling stories that we had slept together which then backfired when the school found out about my curse later on.”
Ranma could see the hint of a mysterious smile pulling at the corners of Nabiki's mouth, making him frown as he moved back down to return to working her calves, but it was Akane's patting his foot that Ranma couldn't work out the intent of.
With a deft swish of his foot, Ranma pinned Akane's wrist to the floor.
“So what else did Akane tell you about what we did?”
Biting her lip, Akane silently struggled to free herself, shifting to get on her side and reach with her other arm for his foot but the bed was too low, she'd have to press up at the bed springs, which would give her presence away to Nabiki on the mattress above.
“She didn't hold back. A hot little tale.” Nabiki purred, “If I believe her on it.”
The sudden halting of Akane's struggling arm made Ranma pay more attention to that. “You don't?”
“Most girls don't enjoy their first time you know. Akane told a tale I'm tempted to have written out and submitted to a 'gentleman's magazines'.”
Smirking as Akane's arm was again struggling to free itself from under his foot, Ranma slid his hands up to the back of Nabiki's thighs.
“What my sister described was not a nervous virgin's first time.”
This time Ranma froze, his hands on her smooth legs. “I though she was?”
Nabiki leaned up on shoulder enough to look back at him, her action covering Akane pushing up enough to roll her shoulders and get her body near the edge of under the bed to reach her other hand to grab his foot in painful ways.
“Not her idiot. She described a guy who knew far more about it than she did.”
Blushing, Ranma refocused on his work while collecting himself, Nabiki leaning back down suddenly very aware of his hands, while Akane's hands on his foot just holding it.
“Ah, well, you know it's manly to make it about the girl enjoying it, Mom got me a few old manuals she wanted me to study. I guess knowing a bit and just going for it just worked out good.”
Nabiki smirked, face back on her pillow, one eye awkwardly following him. “But was your curse the only exploratory toy?”
“Ah, I don't like being turned on as a girl but yeah, okay, it taught me some stuff that those books mom got me weren't real clear on,” the red faced young man quickly stated.
Nabiki was apparently satisfied. “No need to be embarrassed if it gets you praise like Akane gave.”
Akane was the one embarrassed this time, her hands vanishing back under the bed.
“She said even when you first took her, she nearly passed out from the pleasure.”
Ranma smirked, “Really, she looked like she was gonna cry, so I thought it was hurting. I shifted around to get into what my books called a sexually healing position and that helped.”
Nabiki suppressed the heat in her body. “You must have studied those books pretty close to recall that in the heat of the moment.”
“Nah not really. That move was called 'Wild Horse Leaps', so I always figured that'd be my move. You know, Ranma, wild horse.”
Nabiki rolled her eyes, “Ranma, that is so egotistical you had better never let Akane find out.”
“Yeah I get that,” Ranma replied in a neutral voice as Akane's hands tried to compound pressure break the bones in his feet.
The brown eye of the middle Tendo daughter narrowed as her masseuse glanced nervously at his foot while wincing in pain.
Kasumi looked in the open door to the guest room, apparently left that way by Ranma after he got his massaging accompaniments, his discarded school uniform and training gi on the ground near his pack. Normally she would leave this for Nodoka but since she was here anyway...
Picking up the items of clothing with a smile, she turned away, not seeing the trailing sleeve of Ranma's shirt hook on his backpack, pulling it over.
Hearing it tip over, the eldest Tendo daughter turned, her eyes going wide at the pile of prophylactics that had poured out.
Nabiki purred as Ranma's strong hands massaged her bare back, his actions smoother and gentler as he started final phases of the massage.
With a lazy sigh, Nabiki stretched her arm out, letting it hang her hand off the edge of her bed, her breath pausing as she listened for the shift of the third wheel hiding under her bed. If Akane wanted to watch her it was time she put on a show.
“Ranma, can I ask a personal question?”
Shrugging as he worked, Ranma tried to figure what was more personal than the subjects already covered. “I guess.”
“I was just wondering,” Nabiki purred, “As a heterosexual man, how does my body stack up against your fiancées?”
Flushing red, Ranma shuffled his feet to avoid Akane's grip without success.
“Ah, your definitely up there, but you must have had some guys challenging you in Love Dome, what do you care what I think?”
Her arm stretched to brush his thigh. “I want the opinion of a man Ranma, not boys. I know I'm not as big as Shampoo, or athletic as Akane, or sculpted as Sakura.”
Under the bed Akane desperately squeezed at Ranma's foot to shut him up as Nabiki put herself down and like an idiot he tried to build her back up.
“Hey you can't compare yourself to Sakura, she denies it but it isn't all naturally her. And trust me you aren't far behind Akane. First day I met you when I had to carry all your stuff while you walked with Akane, I could see you're real close to her, just a little more curved where she has muscle tone.”
Nabiki smiled, turning her shoulder up enough Ranma had to move his gaze from her emerging side.
“You know Ranma-kun. I think I know why my sister was so desperate to take her one chance when she had you all alone on that camping trip,” Nabiki said in a husky voice. Shifting slightly to look up at him, her voice slowed. “Do you understand how you make a woman feel?”
Wincing as Akane's digging fingernails on his calf made it clear how his fiancée felt about Nabiki's words, Ranma swallowed. “Ah, well after a massage you should be calm and relaxed or I did it wrong.”
Giving a breathy chuckle and a wicked smirk, Nabiki grabbed the leg of his pants yanking them down to his ankles as he looked down at Akane again.
“That's it!” Akane cried, pushing out and up, nearly upturning the bed with a ripping sound, her skirt catching under Ranma's foot and left behind on the ground.
Nabiki too jumped to her feet, glaring at her distrusting sister, the towel falling, her chest covered with one arm, watching as Ranma fumbled to stay upright with his ankles bound by his pants, his hands grabbing each of the sister's shoulder to stay upright, drawing them close to him.
With a bang, Kasumi barged into her sister's bedroom ready to give the apparently trustworthy Ranma a piece of her mind, her hand trailing a strip of evidence condoms, only to find said young man, pants around his ankles holding her sisters, one missing her skirt, the other missing a lot more.
“You... you...” Kasumi was beyond words as she saw the obvious conclusion, and sprang forward, hands reaching for his throat.
As one, Akane and Nabiki moved between their big sister and Ranma, both grabbing her to hold her back from attacking the only innocent one in the room.
Overbalanced, Kasumi fell backwards as her half naked sister's grabbed her and pulled her back, her blouse tearing open and one of the buttons shooting off and hitting Ranma on the chin.
Nodoka Saotome finally arrived at the doorway to Nabiki's bedroom, surprised to see a pile of arms and legs and exposed skin of three sisters before her pants down son rubbing his chin apparently thoughtfully, a string of condoms on the ground between them.
“I take it there is an explanation here?”
“She started it. She was coming onto Ranma,” Akane complained, pointing at Nabiki sitting in a dressing gown on the other side of Kasumi on the bed.
“I was teasing, because I knew my 'baby' sister was hiding under my bed unable to trust her fiancé,” Nabiki stated in a bored voice.
Kasumi simply sat blushing between her two arguing sisters' on the disheveled bed in Nabiki's room while Nodoka heard the story from each girl. Nodoka sighed holding the strip of condoms in her hand.
“I trust him, I was trying to protect him from you,” Akane spat back.
Nabiki smirked. “Oh I'd trust him, the way he was looking at your big sister's chest.”
Kasumi blushed again, wishing she'd worn a nicer bra before ignoring her libido and wishing she'd not stormed in. She looked up as Aunty Nodoka held up her hand to the girls.
“Well I think I've heard enough. This does look completely innocent except for of course my foolish Husband. I will have words with him next,” Nodoka stated, putting the strip of condoms on the desk. “I won't ask any of you to apologize to my son for not trusting his intentions, I dare say he would suggest it was not a big issue. I find it best to ask my son for an explanation about what happens around him. Like his name sake the 'wild horse', events seem to stampede around him and it helps to slow things down and retrace them before leaping to conclusions.”
Nabiki smirked over Kasumi at the blushing Akane who hadn't gotten past the term 'Wild horse', but at least the older sister nodded to Aunty's words.
The second Aunty left the room, the embarrassed Akane and Kasumi followed, both heading for their bedrooms. Closing the door behind them, Nabiki looked down at the bathrobe she wore before heading for her drawers to get some pajamas.
With a frown at her desk, Nabiki wondered where the strip of condoms went.
Opening her eyes, Akane focused on the constant tapping early in the morning.
Rubbing sleep from her eyes, the youngest Tendo daughter turned her head to see the odd shadow on her closed blinds against the morning sun, something tapping gently on the glass hanging from above.
Slipping out of bed and to her feet, Akane grabbed up a weight bar from the floor as she approached the unusual visitor waking her just after six.
With a fast action, Akane yanked her blind to the side, ready to defend herself, but relaxed seeing her fiancé hanging there. Putting down the weight, Akane pulled open the window, her free hand patting at her hair in case it was standing up after sleeping. “Morning,” she said.
“Were you up and working out?” he asked, pointing at the weight while hanging from above the window by one hand.
“I was sleeping till some jerk woke me while acting like a monkey,” Akane said back gesturing at his position.
“Yeah well, I didn't get a lot of sleep after last night.”
Swallowing and nodding, Akane recalled Aunty Nodoka's words. “I'm sorry I didn't trust you with Nabiki. I just thought she'd embarrass you and me.”
Ranma shook his head, “Not that,” he stated with a shrug. “How did Happosai convince you to learn a perverted art called Martial Arts Naughty Girl?”
Flushing red, not realizing how cute Ranma thought she was in her yellow pajamas, Akane couldn't look him in the eyes. “It was Naughty Voice, and I had no choice. You might be a pervert who stayed up thinking about that all night but that's all I'm telling you about that.”
“Squid-joe-pro,” Ranma parroted of Nabiki's words the night before, “you wanted to hear some of my stories last night, and you owe me one story at least.”
“It's quid-pro-quo, idiot, and no I don't.”
“You can either tell me or I'll ask Nabiki to hear it, she said she recorded you using it.”
Closing her eyes and taking a breath, Akane glanced around Ranma to see if others were listening. “Fine. Sit down.” she said gesturing to her desk chair as she sat on her bed.”
Licking her lips, she considered where to start. “It was after Kuno made that wish and got all strong, I couldn't beat him and the others at school kept pressuring me to go on dates when he defeated me. I was already scared but then he started hinting to Daddy about wanting an Omiai and I knew he could probably bully Daddy into it and probably an agreement.”
“I needed something to beat Kuno the next day before he talked to Daddy, and I was so scared I nearly went off looking for Aunty like I did when we met. Grandfather Happosai found me leaving and started mocking me for being a coward. I was ashamed and then he offered to let me prove I am an Anything Goes martial artist.”
Ranma nodded, scratching rubbing the back of his neck ashamed of not being there for her despite not knowing her then.
“He took me into the city to this office where all these women were on the phone in booths. It was one of those phone sex companies, you know.”
Blushing, jealousy surged in Ranma as imagining some guy talking to Akane like that, but with a curt nod he let his fiancée continue.
Blushing herself, Akane continued. “Anyway the owner was a woman, Miss Aika Tensei. She didn't want to have anything to do with us at first, Grandfather owed her for calling her with someone else's credit card, but I told her about Kuno and she let me stay and watch and listen. It was embarrassing but what she did with her voice was amazing. Every time on the phone she'd be all breathy but she built up and then released her ki and she couldn't get the guys to hang up if she tried.”
Calming that Akane wasn't involved in such a business, Ranma nodded again, idly scratching his nose, still hanging from the roof.
“After work before dawn, she taught me breathing exercises, and the mentality behind it all and wrote up a script for me to memorize. I went to school the next day but arrived late to get Kuno after the rest of the students were in class,” she admitted before giving a sigh and looking at her fiancé.
Ranma swallowed and changed hands, easily seeing what Akane was admitting she wouldn't tell admit to anyone but him.
“I read out what Miss Tensei had written, and it was flowery and like a samurai drama only sexy. Kuno thought I was really coming onto him and for a second I thought he might try to jump on me then and there. But that was when I suddenly saw how Miss Tensei had been doing it, and when I released my ki while still talking, his eyes got all glazed, I told him to get on his knees and put his boken away... and I kicked him in the head.”
“It felt so good to feel safe after being so scared of him, then Grandfather arrived and said I'd shown a little hope, and started training me properly.”
Akane looked up at her fiancé, hoping he'd understand why she'd learned the perverted art. She hadn't even used it since she bribed Happosai with it. “That's it.”
“You're full of crap. Talking sexy is not a technique that uses ki.”
Akane's face fell at being called a liar, and without considering it she summoned her ki. “Ra-n-ma-kun.”
The breathy voice of his fiancée took on a deep rich quality that shook Ranma down to his bones. “Y-yeah?”
A sultry smile on Akane's face locked his eyes on her lips as his breath deepened.
“You know how I feel about you, don't you Ra-n-ma? You know how I wouldn't do anything like this for anyone but you, don't you Ra-n-ma?”
“Touch my face, Ra-n-ma-kun?”
Nodding with vague eyes, his body trembling, Ranma reached out for her, forgetting the importance of his grip above the window.
The blushing Akane smirked and looked out the window at young man sprawled on the ground below.
Ranma glared up at her, face red with embarrassment. “Get to the dojo, it's training time.”
“That's it Ryoga-kun, gently but firmly, imagine Tendo's lips.”
The tiger print bandanna wearing young man eating lunch again in the fancy Kuno mansion with his benefactors and new friends Mikado and Kodachi nodded at the repeated instruction. His 'special training' had moved beyond embarrassment and humiliation as he gently worked his lips against the pulp of the half grapefruit, sucking up the juices released.
Nodding at Mikado's student working at his breakfast, Kodachi smiled gently, glad for the Saturday half school day opportunity to come home and spend time with her fiancé and his little friend. In truth she had a pang of disquiet in trying to interfere with Ranma's relationship, but looked at it as testing Akane as worthy of her engagement to Kodachi's blue eyed friend.
“Mistress Kodachi?” Sasuke interrupted quietly. “It happened again.”
Looking up at the short ninja manservant, Kodachi's dark eyes narrowed on the servant as he wheeled in a television set and video player. “What happened again?” she asked imperiously.
“The greenhouse was broken into.”
Seething, she stood up, Mikado and Ryoga following suit. “Wild orchids again?”
“No Mistress Kuno. This time it was from the infusion bay of your roses.”
Controlling her voice, Kodachi looked at the video equipment. “I assume this time you are showing some competence and you have some clue to the identity of this intruder?”
Swallowing at the dangerous lilt in her voice, Sasuke nodded and brought out a folder. “These photos were taken yesterday. They show the foreigner 'Ecchi-Baka', aka 'Pantyhose' Taro approaching Akane Tendo with a bouquet of the wild orchids.”
“Pantyhose?” Ryoga growled, recognizing the name of the bully who ambushed him in his cursed form, then kidnapped the innocent Junko, used his curse against him as he, Ranma, Shampoo and Mousse rescued her from the 'Water Temple', then finally was the source of the cursed spring of drown twin water that Ranma tricked him into using that gave him his second Jusenkyo curse rather than curing the first.
“You know that jerk?” Mikado asked his nodding student, recalling Akane's ex-boyfriend who he had not seen since last defeating him with Kodachi's help as his Martial arts cheerleader.
Leafing through the images, Kodachi spared an eye for the growling young men, Sasuke explained. “He was seen being rejected by, then provoking a fight with, Miss Tendo, but as you can see the photos end when the fight went behind a building from our photographer. He was then seen punted towards the canals and Miss Tendo went into school. Then this was captured this morning at the time of the break in.”
Switching on the video screen and hitting play on the master control, an image flared of the monstrous chimera form, like a winged minotaur, elements of bull, crane, eel, and octopus in the furred body. The soundless image from the CCTV of the mansion showed the beast stride across the grass, stolen black roses in its hand before taking to the air with powerful beats of its small wings.
“Why is that jerk after Akane?” Ryoga growled, already nervous in opposing Ranma for Akane, another man after her was not good for his mood.
Kodachi frowned, then looked to her fiancé. “Mikado dear, will you go down and commandeer my brothers conveyance, we need to visit the Tendo Dojo.”
Watching her blond haired future husband nod and move for the door, Kodachi looked to Ryoga. “That foreigner is Akane's ex boyfriend, going back at least six months ago when he broke her heart over something to do with that evil gnome grandfather of hers, Happosai.”
“Yeah, Happosai is the only one who can change Taro's na... Happosai is Akane-chan's grandfather?!” Ryoga realised.
“Perhaps not biologically but that is what she calls the old toad,” Kodachi replied impatiently, glancing for the door to make sure her fiancé was gone. “But that is beside the point. He is another of you, isn't he? Another from Jusenkyo?”
“Sasuke, we will need to take hot water too.”
Akane sighed in the steaming water of the furo, glad for the chance to wash off. The girls change room at school had had the hot water turned off, so rather than shower there after sports she just dressed and went home after the Saturday half day to clean up in the family bathroom. She had worked up more a sweat with a game of tag with Ranma making them run a longer way home. She had even made him sweat a little.
Closing her eyes, she briefly played with the fantasy of Ranma joining her, the image of him looking at Nabiki yesterday intruding on her fun.
With a huff, she stood up out of the water, her hands wiping it off her as she moved for a towel to begin drying off. Holding up the middle of the towel, she placed it against her forehead, stretching it around while bowing forward and twisting the ends around, so when she flicked back up her hair was contained in the towel to dry, her hands reaching for a second towel to go around her body and finish drying off.
Some moisturizing, brushing of her teeth, and other personal preparations later, Akane opened the cupboards for a robe, annoyed with herself for not preparing a change of clothes. The cupboard was empty.
Frowning, she glanced at herself in the mirror, briefly considering calling for someone to help, but knew Kasumi and Nodoka were out and wasn't sure if Nabiki was home. Tilting her towel-covered head, Akane recalled Uncle Genma had gone out with Aunty, apparently unwilling to let him stay alone with her and Ranma after the condom 'plan'. If Aunty and Uncle were out she figured it was safe to slip through the house in the towel.
Silent steps she made it to the stairs and started up, quickly reaching the second story without incident, but turning into the hall to reach her room, saw froze as Ranma left the guest room further up the hall. Her cheeks pinked as she saw Ranma's eyes dip to the towel she held around her body.
“Hey,” Ranma said overly casually.
“Hey yourself,” Akane replied but didn't move for her door.
“I forgot you were cute in just a towel.”
Blushing, Akane looked down, a smile teasing her lips. “Better than Nabiki?”
“You're the only one I want to see in and out of that towel.”
Akane blushed again, embarrassed by his forwardness, the heat in her body, and the smug grin on his face knowing she liked his attention.
Calming herself, she looked through her eyelashes at him and affected her huskiest voice without channeling her ki. “Do you want me to take off my towel?” “Right now, right here?”
Nodding, Akane reached up slowly, then with a firm tug pulled the towel wrapped around her head off, poking out her tongue at his disappointed face with the second towel still around her body.
“Tease,” Ranma said feeling cheated by Akane for a second time today, and by the promise in general, that he couldn't take this further.
“I'm not as perverted as you,” Akane said giving a little laugh. Her laughter stopped when both heard heavy steps on the stairs.
Giving an indulgent smile for Ranma, Akane reached for her door handle to go into her room, her shoulder bumping the still closed door when the handle came off in her hand.
Still looking dumbfounded at the door handle in her hand, Akane just managed to use her arm to pin her towel to her body, in bumping into the door she had loosened it, falling open around the back, leaving her holding it only to her front, her back and rear exposed.
Ranma tore his eyes from Akane's predicament to see his fiancée's father enter the hall behind Akane.
Akane spun around to see who it was, banging her elbow on the wall, the jarring sensation sparking up the nerves of her arm. Flapping her elbow released her towel, her hand grabbing it before it hit the floor, both hands bringing the towel to preserve her modesty. It took another moment for the embarrassed girl to realize she was still holding two separate towels, hindering her efforts.
Embarrassment finally gave way to anger and with a fast boot to open her door, she vanished inside shutting it behind her.
Ranma looked nervously at Soun, mind off Akane to Nabiki's words from the night before.
'... when Kasumi got possessed by a demon and ended up caught by Daddy undressed with Akane's ex-boyfriend, there were tears.'
Swallowing, Ranma prepared to be chewed out by a wrathful father.
Soun burst into tears.
Calming herself, Akane put a chair against her broken door and moved to her drawers, taking out clean underwear and dressing quickly. Zipping up a long denim skirt, she reached for a blouse when she heard a tapping on her window.
Glancing at the closed blind, recalling Ranma hanging there that morning, she wondered what he expected coming to her so quickly. Glancing down at her blue and white striped bra, she was tempted briefly to open the window first but instead slipped on the blouse and buttoned it up.
With a smooth action she pulled the window and blinds open at the same time, shrieking at the monstrous bull head where she expected her fiancé. Snaking in the window, black tentacles reached for the young woman, wrapping around her stomach quickly, squeezing tight before she could take good breath. As quickly as they were there, the tentacles relaxed, her body automatically gulping air as a bunch of black roses were shoved in her face, her reaction inhaling the pollen as she struggled before going limp.
Hearing Akane's scream had the two deeply uncomfortable men in the hall moving instantly, Ranma barging through the door into her room first to see the giant bull head of Taro's monstrous cursed form through Akane's window, Akane herself no where to be seen.
“Taro!” Ranma roared, jumping forward, but ducking down as the massive hairy fist of his opponent, bashed in the window at him.
Turning his fist over, Taro hit the roof inside Akane's room to bring down debris, delaying Ranma as the monster strode away from the building, Akane limp in the octopus tentacles on his broad bestial back.
Reaching the wall, Taro looked back at the Tendo home even as Ranma burst out and landed on the grass, Soun right behind him out the doors in his full armor, spear at the ready.
“Give her back Taro!”
The two shouting men charged forward, Ranma the faster, but forced to duck when a tentacle waving a bouquet of black roses swept over his head, and a second shot at him, making him roll backwards from the sneering bull lips of the beast. Soun was less successful as the first tentacle Ranma ducked swept into him, his helmeted head meeting with the black blossoms, his momentum carrying his body on to crash into the grass as the narcotics dragged him rapidly into slumber.
Twisting around Ranma kicked the heads off an approaching bouquet of the black roses, using the momentum to twist to his feet.
“Just give her back 'Ecchi-baka'!” Ranma warned angrily.
Taro smirked down at Ranma with contempt, interlacing his big hands and cracking his knuckles confidently, before taking a stance and waving Ranma in to try again.
Which was when the jet of hot water hit Taro in the side of the head.
With a thump Akane's limp body hit the ground as Taro's monstrous form shrank down into his naked male form, his eyes looking up the laughing Kodachi standing on the Tendo yard wall in her common place leotard with a large pump action water pistol giving off a light steam.
“You see, my love,” Kodachi said to Mikado as he jumped onto the yard wall on the other side armed similarly. “With the right knowledge and tools, one can render the strongest of stupid beasts impotent. Hohohohohoho!”
Snarling, Taro would have given a scathing reply but was forced to save his breath as Ranma struck hard, blurring in with lightning hands, the Chinese young man diving just clear and sprinting for a free part of the wall, his leap up matched by a figure jumping up from the outside.
“Pigboy?” Taro managed to growl before Ryoga's hand found his throat, momentum with the heavier Japanese male to keep them in the Tendo yard as he drove Taro into the ground, neck first.
Ryoga stood up grinning with victory, only for his smile to fall as Ranma was tending to the down Akane who had failed to witness the events.
Taro growled from the ground, a towel from the clothes line, and Kodachi's ribbon had him decent and bound on the grass of the Tendo yard. Ryoga helped lean the unconscious Soun against a wall near where Ranma was tending to the unconscious Akane.
Still holding the water pistol, Kodachi watched Ranma work leaving Mikado to watch Taro.
“They'll be fine in a while. Those blossoms this thief stole from my greenhouse were mature, and so their effects are predictable,” Kodachi stated airily.
Ranma glanced up at the black haired Kuno, annoyed at her casual reference to the poison plants she grew, recalling the effect of her paralysis but for her timing in stopping Taro from escaping with his unconscious fiancée he would let anything slide.
With a nod for the girl, Ranma stood, surprised to see Ryoga here, especially in dark slacks, a crisp white shirt, black dress shoes, all identical to what Mikado wore but for the tiger stripped bandanna on his head. Looking back to Kodachi he nodded at Ryoga. “He's here with you?”
“Any friend of Mikado-chan's is of course a friend of mine, and he does have so many fascinating stories. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised that Taro had been to that part of China. Hohohohohoho!”
Nodding again and trying not to wince at Kodachi's laughter, Ranma glance to Mikado wondering if the lecherous blond now knew about cursed forms including his own.
“Oh shut her up!” Taro's voice complained from his position bound on the grass.
“Little boys unable to get girls to go out with them willingly should be too ashamed to talk,” Mikado said, standing over Taro.
“Sleaze bags who pick up at the local loony bin should keep it to themselves.”
Mikado sneered, “Stand up and say that? Oh yeah, you can't.”
“I'm surprised your standing,” Taro spat back, “Aren't you a little fag boy in tights and always on skates?”
Ryoga's hand held back Mikado from action, but it was Kodachi who stepped up. “Ecchi-baka dear, I assure you that my Mikado is more a man than you can imagine.”
“Oh surprise, 'Mistress of Pain' stands up for her bitch,” Taro deadpanned.
Mikado had heard enough, twisting under Ryoga's blocking hand he booted the foul mouthed foreigner, the kick to the stomach sending him rolling. Taro just rolled with it in his bound form straight into and over the rocks, into the Tendo pond.
With a mighty roar the monstrous form of the cursed Chinese man burst from the water and bindings, rushing forward to attack.
Kodachi automatically raised her water pistol and fired, but in the past minutes on a winter day, the water had cooled too far to be effective.
Taro lashed out, driving between the four, tentacles sweeping into Mikado and Ryoga, while hairy fists driving at Kodachi and Ranma. Dodging the fist coming at him, Ranma kicked the other off from the rolling Kodachi, twisting to strike up a kick into the beast's chest.
Behind Taro, Ryoga wrestled with the powerful octopus appendages, concerned for Mikado when the blond haired martial artist was tossed from the fray to the Tendo wall. Yanked along as Taro was driven back by the fists and kicks of Ranma, Ryoga dug in his heels to stop the giant from reaching the water of the pond and taking him out of the fight.
With a swipe of his massive fist, Taro drove Ranma back to avoid the blow, a feint that cost him when Taro pointed two fat fingers at him, a jet of black octopus ink firing into his face. Twisting his other bestial arm backwards, a second blast of the black ink splashed into the struggling Ryoga.
Coughing on ink, Ryoga was lifted by Taro's powerful tentacles, the giant spinning to hit Ranma with Ryoga like the fanged martial artist was a weapon, before flinging the young man in the tiger print bandanna at Kodachi, knocking the last standing opponent from her feet.
With a heavy fist, Taro punched the dazed Ranma in the stomach, grabbing his face between large finger and thumb, smirking at his open mouth as he pulled out a couple of tiny blue pills and flicking them down his throat. Clamping his fist on Ranma's face, he used one big hairy finger to stroke his neck and make him swallow. Feeling the Japanese man's throat undulate, he tossed him aside.
Brushing the ink from his eyes, the dazed Ranma got one eye clear enough to look around, spotting Taro standing away from him, tapping the side of his monsterous head meaningfully at his Japanese opponent, before taking to the sky with powerful beats of its crane like wings.
Akane Tendo, still unconscious hung from the tentacles on the beast's back as it flew away.
For Ecchi-baka Taro, phases one and two of his plan were complete, the bait was caught and the Viagra would be working by the time Ranma caught up.
“Head south and towards the coast,” Ranma demanded of the diminutive ninja while still wiping the ink from his face.
Impatiently he watched Ryoga and Mikado cleaning up, both of their shirts in tatters from the fight.
“So he took another girl to this water temple before?” Kodachi asked, going over what Ranma had said previously when she had offered their stretch limousine to pursue the flying opponent.
The blue eyed young man looked up at Kodachi, the dark haired beauty now in a mink coat against the winter chill. “Yeah, he kidnapped a friend called Junko. Ryoga, me, and a couple other Chinese friends went and kicked his ass.”
Ryoga nodded, swallowing thinking of his curse. “You really think he's going back to that temple?”
“He all but told me he was.”
Ryoga bared his teeth, showing the prominent points of his incisors. “Then he could have gone anywhere to do anything to Akane-chan while we follow you on a wild goose chase.”
“If you've got a better place to look, lets hear it pig-boy?” Ranma demanded.
The loud sharp laughter of the Kuno heiress made the boys stop arguing, looking to her as she pulled open a gymnastics kit bag from the cupboard under the espresso machine in the limousine. Pulling out two uniforms, she reached up to hit the button to open the sunroof. “Ranma-kun, why don't you join me above, you can make sure we are heading the right way. As it is I must give the boys the illusion of privacy while they change.”
Mikado looked at the male gymnastics uniforms, his lips frowning. Before he could offer a refusal his fiancée looked at his ruined shirt and Ryoga's ruined and inked stained one. “Because these are easier to replace than those, and if this is an old temple so you won't be skating. You'll need to rely on the gymnastics I taught you.”
Her dark eyes looked to Ryoga, “I believe you mentioned you were versed in Rhythmic gymnastics yourself. Normal and my special tools are in the bags. Now both of you get changed.”
Considering the matter settled, Kodachi put on a pair of designer sunglasses and passing Ranma a pair before standing up in the moving vehicle as they sped down the road.
Speeding down the expressway, Ranma was squinting behind the sunglasses keeping the wind from his eyes, trying to see the flying figure in the sky ahead but couldn't make Taro out.
Kodachi, her black hair waving behind her in the wind as she stood with Ranma, their upper bodies out the sunroof of her brother's stretch limousine, glanced to the young man beside her. “I apologize for Mikado losing his temper to that foul mouthed goon and letting him reach cold water again.”
Ranma shook his head, a twitch of a smile on his lips that vanished quickly. “No biggy. I threw a glass of water in his face without thinking when we had him tied up once a year ago. Just as long as we get to Akane quickly. He's prepared a trap and wasn't gonna leave without making me go through it.”
Smiling her white teeth, Kodachi pulled her mink coat around her body against the wind chill as the vehicle sped on.
Giving up on spotting Taro expecting he had reached the Temple by now, Ranma glanced to the young woman. “I didn't think you liked Akane enough to go rescue her?”
Kodachi's cheeks pinked. “Akane-chan and I have a lot of history and not a lot of it friendly, but is it not good enough that I am here because she is the fiancée of my friend?”
Ranma glanced at the dark haired girl, “Thanks,” he said gratefully just over the blowing wind.
The moment lasted seconds before his face fell, squirming knowing he felt nothing but friendship for the girl beside him, yet unmistakably felt something stirring in his body, something he was keenly aware shouldn't be happening away from Akane.
Trying to appear casual, Ranma looked ahead. “So why haven't you told Mikado about... our condition?”
“Hohohohohohohoho!” Kodachi's shrill laughter cut through the cold at Ranma bringing up the Jusenkyo curses. “My dear you and Akane-chan have much to learn about keeping spice in a relationship.”
Ranma had no idea what that meant but when he looked forward, in the distance seeing old landmarks from last time. “Not far now, we need to take the next right.”
The way Kodachi vanished suddenly back down inside the vehicle surprised him.
Kodachi glared at her fiancé who had pulled her back down from talking to Ranma. Her blond partner glared right back, “And what exactly are you two talking about?” he hissed, pointing at the prominent bulge in the front of Ranma's pants.
“My my,” Kodachi said fanning herself, even as Ranma bent down.
“Hey driver, the next right,” he said before looking to see the two men glaring at him and Kodachi blushing.
“What's up?” he asked, glancing at Mikado's black gymnastics tights, his arms bare and cut low in the front to expose his smooth chest to the topmost abdominal muscle. Across the stomach a yellow-gold band was marked with Kodachi's black rose insignia.
“Hohohohohoho!” Kodachi laughed, cutting the tension back, and gesturing towards his pants. “Ranma-kun, I believe my fiancé is worried that we were discussing naughty things and I excited you.”
“Urk,” Ranma croaked, red faced.
“I must admit I am more worried it was the thought of these boys changing that has affected you so.”
Eyes bugging out, Ranma shook his head, “Hell no. I was just, ah, thinking of Akane.”
Ryoga, now wearing a similar set of tights to Mikado, grabbed Ranma's neck. “Animal!”
“Boys, as much as I like to see handsome men wrestle, might we save our energy for Taro?”
“I can take him!” “I can take him!”
Ranma and Ryoga glared at each other for speaking in stereo.
Ranma adjusted himself, annoyed by the unprompted and uncomfortable erection that refused to go down. He would have been mocking the two muscular young men in their ridiculous athletics tights but with his embarrassing problem he wasn't looking at two guys even like that.
His eyes drifted across from the nearest road to the rough terrain. In the distance he could see the balcony of the water temple on its cliff top position over the sea. Maybe three kilometers away.
The sound of the espresso machine hissing in the limousine signified the final preparations as Ryoga hefted his umbrella but also had a gymnastics ribbon, coiled up and ready to use. Similarly Mikado held a ribbon and a circular hoop in preparation for the battle ahead, its outer side honed to a sharp edge. Kodachi stood beside the vehicle door impatiently waiting for the ninja within to finish his duties.
“Okay,” Ranma said to draw attention to himself. “About a kilometer from the temple a waterfall runs down it to the coast. There are some hot springs down there, but all the rest of it is cold water. Under the temple itself are traps upon traps, rock falls and such but many will jet out water if you're not careful. Remember that ta turn into the beast he needs only a little cold water so if we get him human he will go for them or the river, whatever is closer.”
“If he prepared this place, he did it aimed to slow me down. You guys he shouldn't be really ready for, but keep alert. He'll try to knock you out so he can concentrate on me as the biggest threat.”
Mikado looked unimpressed while Ryoga growled at the put down.
“Hohohohohoho! A simple strike, we take him down and rescue Akane-chan. Very easy.”
The three boys winced wondering if their position was given away but as the high laugh echoed over the valleys. As echoes came back they returned even creepier.
“Yeah, take him down, get to the top and rescue Akane.”
Ranma nodded and turned his back, missing Ryoga nod to Mikado that he understood he had to be the first to Akane.
Sasuke stepped to the limousine door, the sound of the espresso machine cooling as he handed Kodachi the first of the brightly colored water pistols. “Be careful mistress, they're extra hot.” The diminutive ninja passed three more of the children's toys with hot water to the young men, and another non-steaming one in, trimmed in black and gold, to Mikado.
With a nod, the four turned and sprang off, rushing through the bushes to get to the target before the hot water cooled too much.
Sasuke watched them go, sipping at a cup of espresso.
“Hohohohoho... Hohohohoho... Hohohohoho...”
Not for the first time Akane Tendo struggled back to consciousness at the sound of Kodachi Kuno's laughter, but normally it was in her face, not so distant and repeating.
“Good timing,” Taro's voice intruded, “I was worried you wouldn't wake up in time to watch me beat down on your fem-boy girlfriend and the gay cheer squad.”
Turning her head to yell expletives at Taro, Akane managed to make some noises through the pantyhose twisted and bound around her head as a gag, but she was really surprised when her head sprang to face forward with elastic pressure. Using her eyes to looked down, Akane could only image how badly she must look, able to see peripherally she was bound and wrapped in layer upon layer of knotted together pantyhose like some deformed Egyptian mummy.
“Save your efforts, you're not going to bust out of it or talk your way out of this.”
Several more growls came from Akane as he positioned her just inside the temple to be able to see out the door but not down the mountain.
“I'm going to assume that was a threat about what your beloved dickless wonder will try to do to me. Which will get him angrier, like this?” Holding up her yellow blouse and denim skirt, Taro waved it from side to side, then up and down. “Or this?”
Smirking, the Chinese young man nodded at her angry muffled yelling. “Yes yes, I'm a man, so I'm a pervert.”
Walking away from the muffled yelling out of the temple and leaping off the balcony, Taro tossed Akane's outer clothing away behind some rocks. He'd have taken her underwear too to make this plan foolproof, but he wasn't that much of an animal. The little blue pills he had forced on the dazed Ranma back at the dojo would make sure her rescuer was in the right state.
Walking to the prepared bonfire, Taro ignited a cigarette lighter and put it to a simple torch, a wooden stick with a tip dipped in oily tar. Approaching a tall dry wood lattice, he began to ignite the sides. Soon enough the flames reached the core of the bonfire, lightly filled with greener leaves to put up the smoke like he had last time when he had kidnapped that bratty Junko girl.
“Come on fem-boy, your bride is stewing up there waiting for a hero. Of course what she'll get is a shameless pervert, and we all know how much Akane Tendo likes perverts.”
Kasumi and Nodoka looked down at Soun in his armor.
It had been a shock to see the damage to the house and yard, but not surprising after such that Akane and Ranma missing.
“I'm sure their okay. I guess we just have to wait for them to come back.”
Kasumi nodded at Nodoka's words. “What do we do about father?”
“GENMA!” Nodoka called.
Making good time over the brush and scrub and rocky terrain, most of the foursome of the rescue team moved with surprising grace, reaching the river to look up at the climb towards the cliff top Temple. Ranma led and while the others were faster than his awkward gait, they followed, though even Ryoga would have a hard time getting lost with the column of signal smoke from above leading them in.
Across the swift river, Ecchi-baka Taro looked contemptuously at them in his loose pants and scaled vest. “Just like last time you need help to beat me, fem-boy? A little cannon fodder to wear me down. Pig-boy didn't even learn the lesson.”
Angered further by the insult, Ryoga stepped forward. “Where's Akane?” he demanded.
Taro smirked, “Where you'd expect. She and I just needed to talk about old times.”
“Hohohohohohoho!” Kodachi laughed, “A gentleman normally doesn't need drugs to talk to a girl.”
“I wonder where I got the idea? Didn't you kidnap the blond prancer here doing the same thing?” Taro spat back, surprised that Kodachi had the good grace to blush, and even despite the insult Mikado smirked at the fond memory of their 'first date'.
Catching Ranma subtly adjusting his pants again, Taro smirked and waited for Ranma to act.
“Why are you doing this Taro? How is this going to help you change your name?”
Taro looked contemptuously at Ranma.
“Couldn't this be about her? About showing her I'm the only one for her.”
“You filthy scum...” Ryoga began only to be cut off by Ranma.
“You lying nylon narcissist. You aren't capable of thinking about others, and even if you did feel that way about Akane, you'd have done something more in the last six months than stay away.”
Taro growled. “Well if you were so in love with her you'd be over this river already.”
Ranma smirked, “Don't need to be. Muteki Kurohyou Me-To!”
Aimed slightly down, Ranma brought his emotion and ki into his hands, shoving it forward with the cry of 'Unyielding Panther Mate' to send it skirting over the water of the river. The natural tendency of the light ki to rise curved up into the target, Taro raising his arms to block but was staggered backwards into the stones behind him.
Focusing on imagining Akane's eyes seeing him in the embarrassing and tight gymnastics outfit, letting words of rejection build his emotions, Ryoga Hibiki threw forth his own hands. “Shishi Hokodan!”
Dazed from the first attack, Taro was open to Ryoga's own ki blast technique, the 'Lions Roar Blast' casting the Chinese warrior backwards to crash into the rocks.
Slightly nervous at the caliber of the other two fighters throwing such big attacks so early, Kodachi and Mikado both knew the importance of moving into position for an attack while your team mate strikes, lithely running onto irregular rocks in the river, Mikado first but stopping mid way and without looking back, putting his arm out for Kodachi to grab and with his strength get flung across the rushing waters to the other side.
A gurgling sound behind Taro was the only warning before the stones broke free a torrent of water, and with a roar he burst from his clothes, the great hairy minotaur like form angry and ready to fight.
Landing in a graceful tumble and smoothly rolling to her feet, Kodachi twisted into a handless sideways gymnastic flip, firing the water pistol of hot water at Taro's chest.
Striking true, Kodachi's face fell as he failed to change back to human, in her urgency to return him to his human form she failed to take in her small stream of hot water would be unable to override the chill water still jetting into his back from behind the rock wall behind him.
Lashing tentacles groped for the dark haired girl, forcing her back, herding her till one snatched her weapon, her grip doing little but snap the plastic handle off the toy turned weapon as he yanked it from her and cast it into the river.
Leaping from rock to rock, Ranma and Ryoga crossed the water flow and landed on the bank of the river, looking for Kodachi as she cartwheeled back out of Taro's reach. The pair divided to approach Taro apart, Ryoga annoyed as Mikado darted up the rock side, climbing quickly towards the temple at the top.
Gaining enough height part way up the rock face, careful to stand on dry rock and not the odd black patches dotting the grounds, Mikado turned flicking the razor hoop he held around him once and leaping up, into the ring itself. “Koorisuberi enjin no meiun!”
Lithely compacting his form inside the ring of the razor hoop, his arms held out for balance, his gymnastics shoes on the rim sliding as the hoop rolled down hill with the speed of his weight, cutting stone as he called his 'Skating the ring of doom!' attack.
Snorting at the approaching fighters around him, Taro focused and blurred, tearing across the ground to be clear of Mikado's descent carving into the ground where he just stood. Funneling his power to his legs to move so fast, Taro bellowed unable to articulate his attack as he caught Ryoga with the speed of his power gore, flinging the bandanna wearing opponent up and back, turning away expecting that even if the gore of his horns had failed to take pig-boy down, he would be out of the fight when he landed in the river.
Grunting and winded from the blow that failed to pierce his breaking point trained skin, Ryoga twisted and opened his umbrella. The sheer weight of the umbrella would never delay his descent, instead he inverted it, his feet landing in the heavy weapon as it landed on the river, his momentum pushing it like a boat to reach the opposite shore of the river without getting splashed.
Dodging clear of Mikado before the blond caught him with his own attack, Ranma glanced up the hill but decided to take down Taro before trying for it before one of his rescue team got seriously hurt. Rushing in, Ranma ran at the beast, Taro smirking his bull lips, tentacles slamming the ground to free more water traps, Ranma tossing his water pistol away knowing it was useless while Taro kept safe with cold water hitting his legs.
Leaping up, Ranma went for his head, kicks and punches being blocked by the beast hairy arms but a few getting through. Octopus limbs reached from Taro's back, Ranma attempting to kick back from reach but found the shooting pain of his sensitive problem in the way, the tentacles wrapping around his body.
Struggling, Ranma closed his eyes as he was splashed in the face with black ink before being tossed away like a rag doll.
Rolling across the ground and wiping to clear his eyes, Ranma frowned ignoring his three companions fighting the monster to look at his clothes and where he had been tossed. Black circles were all over his clothes, stickier than the ink, something Taro must have rubbed on his back before the fight to have on his tentacles. As if that wasn't suspicious enough, the jerk had tossed him away but clear from cold water of any kind.
“What's your game, Taro?” Ranma asked himself.
Taro bellowed angrily as a black ribbon encircled his heavy wrist, Ryoga tensing the weapon, a second gymnastics ribbon from Mikado grabbing the beasts other arm to pull back enough to hold it as Ryoga's greater strength stretched the beast.
Beating his crane wings, Taro tried to take off and drag the boys with him, but like a shadow, Kodachi struck from behind, her own ribbon binding the wings, gravity dropping the giant back down and to his knees in the water.
In the cold water Taro was immune to their water pistols, but that didn't seem to worry Kodachi as she drew out a gymnastics club with her free hand, depressing a hidden stud a fat spark of electricity lighting its end with a ticking sound. Locking the button on, she tossed it in the water rushing around Taro's feet.
With a zapping sound Taro's spine straightened suddenly, his limbs flinching at the voltage crossing the water into him. With a nod to Mikado ahead of Taro, both young men with the ribbons on the beasts arms rushed forward, toppling the still flinching opponent onto the rocky ground.
“Hohohohohoho!” Kodachi howled again, before looking over at Ranma, “I think we have it here, Ranma-kun.”
Nodding, Ranma started climbing, careful of the traps, frowning at an ugly patch of black material pooled on a ledge.
The effect of the baton shaped taser apparently lessoning, Ryoga and Mikado strained to drag the fallen enemy from the water, Mikado nodding Ryoga to start climbing, hoping his fanged friend could reach the top before Ranma as he dropped his own ribbon and pumped the pressure on his water pistol.
Raising it to fire at the down monster, Taro sent back a stream of black ink into its path, Mikado making the mistake of ducking back from the staining ink than adjust his aim.
The first punch knocked Mikado off his feet, his water pistol clattering away, Taro looking at the two figures half way up the hillside to the temple as his tentacles gathered heavy stones.
Waiting for Ranma to get to a particular stage, Taro bellowed and channeled his ki into his legs as he had with his earlier charge into Hibiki, this time spinning fast enough on the spot to blur, this tentacles lashing out to flick heavy stones like a catapult up to the cliff top, past those climbing to the bonfire, shattering it and scattering the flaming wood.
Tar, gathered the previous evening and dribbled down the climb up, lit like a wick by flaming debris above, flames following it down, outlining a lattice of fire on the hillside.
Ranma frowned at the approaching fire, ignoring it to jump ahead, when a random lick of flame reached Taro's trap, the tar he had slapped onto Ranma's clothes with his tentacles earlier, catching fire now.
With a yelp Ranma tore the garments from his body, diving from the fire for a beam of wood, certainly part of a rockfall or water trap but had to be safer than the flames.
Taro idly grabbed at the dazed Mikado, his eyes more on Ranma diving for the water trap, his distraction costing him as the skate-less ice skater dived and rolled aside.
Above, Ranma got a mouthful of dirty water, the wooden beam he grabbed dropping loose as the hidden trap of high pressure water shot into his face and body. The water power against his suddenly much lighter female body nearly flinging him from the hillside, the red heads strong fingers keeping a grip as her body was extended horizontally out.
Splatted with water from above, Kodachi felt a light wet slap to the face, surprised to find Ranma's boxers on her head, blown off the reduced hips of his smaller girl form. Glancing up the flaming and smoking mountainside, Kodachi tossed the sodden cloth aside to focus on her fiancé facing the beast.
Twisting his body around another stream of hot water, Taro grabbed again after the nimble opponent, animal eyes picking his movements on the ground to press the blond young man into a trap, but it was Mikado's own eyes that endangered him, glancing up towards the temple to see a nymph like beauty showing a lot of skin bounced gratuitously through the flames.
The solid yeti fist slammed Mikado back, the other hairy hand grabbing the vulnerable hot water pistol and flinging it away up to the temple as the beast kept after the skater.
Above, Ranma dodged the heat of the flames, ignoring the nudity of his currently female body to keep climbing hoping Ryoga might reach the temple and find Akane first, not that it was likely with the his former rival's sense of direction. Probably lost in the smoke already, Ranma thought jokingly but didn't smile, his concern growing for Akane if this fire was in the temple, sure that for Akane to have not come out Taro must still have her unconscious or restrained above.
Bunching his legs, Ranma leaped to the next area of the hillside free of the burning tar, a hint of a shadow setting off his reflexes making him jump, hands closing on the hot water pistol tossed away from below.
Landing in a safe enough spot holding against stone, the red head looked at the toy turned weapon for a long moment. After all Taro did to keep him wet and in his weaker girl form the first time they battled here, to have tossed this hot water into his path was making the dangerous feeling of a closing trap worse.
Shooting himself in the face to return to male form, he reasoned it was still it was better to be stronger and not a bare-assed Ranko near Mikado. Carrying the weapon, Ranma started climbing and avoiding the hot fires again, Ranma winced as he felt his nethers reacting again, still unaware of the Viagra in his blood.
“Hohohohohohoho!” Kodachi howled with laughter that grew more amused as Taro looked away from her fiancé to her, letting Mikado slip back out of reach.
With a glance, the two partners made a plan.
“You must think you're very clever turning this water temple into a fire temple?” Kodachi called, moving in with a pair of gymnastic clubs in her hands. She smirked as the beast before her casually shrugged with smugness. “But even now do you see your mistake?”
Mikado closed range, careful to keep clear of the reach of Taro's tentacles, he brought out the second water pistol he carried, this one much longer and a little worn from previous use, black with golden trim.
“You foolishly seek a fight with the premier martial arts ice skating team of 'Black Gold', and now you want to play with fire against us?”
Taro bellowed at the odd burning in his octopus tentacles, turning to see Mikado hosing him with the second liquid projector, this one coming with the foul stench of refined oil.
“Hohohohoho!” Kodachi laughed raising one club, thumb on the hidden button, “Need a light?”
With a flash, sparks exploded from the baton like club, burning Taro and worse igniting the petrol spray on his body.
“Hohohohohoho!” Kodachi laughed as her opponent lumbered to the river and dove in to escape the flames.
Akane leaned against her elastic bindings, nervous of the flames outside, terrified and sure Ranma was out there walking into Taro's trap. The glow of flames in the courtyard of the temple was growing from what she could see from her position though the smoke was increasing, and wafting in the doorway of the building she was in.
Suddenly through the haze, her eyes spotted a figure stumbling on, her surprise spiking that it was Ryoga Hibiki. Not one to complain about good fortune, she began to cry out through the muffling pantyhose gag, hoping he would hear even as the young man in the tiger print bandanna looked everywhere but towards her.
With a bellow Taro burst up from the water, enraged and seething at the pain from the light searing he had received, especially bad on his sensitive tentacles. This was way worse than flying all day without putting sunscreen on his extra limbs.
Surging out of the river he raised his arms, a heavy stone from riverbed in each massive hand, he tossed them overhand, aiming not for the members of black gold but at their feet.
Kodachi and Mikado both predictably leaped from the attacks, neither prepared as the stones shattered into a spread of flying chunks, Kodachi's tucking roll only taking stinging impacts. Mikado, who more tried to jump and twirl took a heavy hit to feet, knocking him sideways, landing heavily and awkwardly on the stone.
Charging forward Taro reached the blond opponent before he could stand, his hairy hand slamming his palm into Mikado's upper chest to ram him into the stone wall.
Kodachi screamed enraged at the vicious blow to her fiancé as the water burst from behind the stone around the pair, charging in, crying out her attack, “Sentekonbou!”
Taro grunted as his tentacles were battered away by Kodachi's hands blurring with bashing club blows, failing to spot she was using more than two clubs till each of the sixteen gymnastics batons started firing past his defenses into the back and side of his head.
Growling Taro raised his free hand to squirt ink at Kodachi, distracting her as he brought the limp Mikado around held up by his neck, holding him like a shield against Kodachi, eyes looking up as he searched for his real target.
Flexing his back, with a snap Kodachi's ribbon fell away from his wings, the crane like feathers flexing before he took off into the air, Kodachi darting up the flaming hillside in pursuit.
Through the smoke, Ryoga looked for any sign of Akane around the cliff top temple, moving cautiously still to avoid water traps.
Finally through the smoke and an open doorway Ryoga made out the struggling vaguely human shape of the bound Akane.
Rushing forward, Ryoga tried not to look too eager, Mikado's words of being aloof from their 'training' sessions in his ears as he moved for the building.
His face fell when a bare Ranma with a water pistol darted past him and into the building.
Akane sighed in relief as Ranma bound out of the smoke and into the building, her breath catching as his state of dress and eyes crossing at his other state.
“Ranma!” Ryoga yelled charging in after Ranma, red faced at the naked rival waving his junk in his future date's face.
Ignoring him, Ranma got Akane's gag out of her mouth but before he could ask if she was okay she was faster. “Ranma I know saving me is exciting but no!” She yelled, eyes still below the waist.
“It ain't like that, I don't know why but it won't go down!” Ranma yelled back, nervous now for his erratic manhood now his fear for Akane was relieved.
Ryoga moved up and grabbed his shoulder to pull him back and away from Akane, but Ranma twisted his shoulder free of the grip to keep examining how Taro had bound Akane. “Get away from her you pervert.”
Turning angrily at his fanged rival, Ranma stood over him immodestly. “Thanks for your help Ryoga, but this is my fiancée, I think she wants to be freed more than worry about me finding pants.”
Ryoga's eyes glanced to Akane who was unhelpfully still staring inappropriately. “The only person she needs freeing from is you.”
“What the hell? She is my fiancée!”
“Yeah, one of three, but I'm only there for her when we date next week!”
Ranma froze then looked confused at the red faced Akane. “Ah, it's a double date, I was going to tell you but we've been busy.”
His mouth open for a no doubt scathing reply, Ranma was cut off by Kodachi's cry from outside.
“Give him back you freak!”
Ranma internalized his confusion and anger, with a single hand dragged the bound Akane by one part of the pantyhose knotted 'rope' she was mummified in. Moving out the doorway into the temple courtyard, the trio could see Kodachi yelling at the monstrous Taro flying above, the blond Mikado hanging limply from his hand.
Seeing the monster flying toward the ocean, Ranma turned to Ryoga.
“Make yourself useful and don't let go!” he cried, sticking part of Akane's bonds in his hand and forcing his arm up so she was left hanging. Grabbing the loose end, he ran for the cliff face.
Akane closed her eyes as her body twirled being unraveled, controlling her breathing and focusing her mind to try to resist the coming nausea.
“Oi, Taro!” Ranma called dashing towards the cliff face trying to get the beast man's attention. “Time for another meteor kick you Pantyhose Punching-bag!”
Despite himself, Taro looked back at the naked figure charging, leaving the bound Akane with the idiot pig boy. He gave a grunt hoping his plan had taken seed but there was no way to see the look on Akane's face as she spun like an unraveling spinning top.
Growling, the beast banked right, heaving its body and arm to fling the unconscious young man it carried back towards the temple. Kodachi cried seeing Mikado heading towards Ryoga and Akane, “Catch him!”
Even if Akane's hands were free, she was spinning too fast to catch the falling martial artists. Ryoga on the other hand was too focused on the flashes of creamy flesh and white and blue underwear emerging from the damsel in distress, that he was hit clean in the head by the falling skater.
No longer held back by Ryoga's hand, Akane bounced after the tensed line Ranma pulled from her, her spinning slowing as she shot towards him.
Taro “Moo'ed!” in victory as he set Akane to collide with his naked opponent.
Ranma growled, reaching the edge of the cliff ready to leap when he felt the pantyhose knotted rope go slack, spinning to see Akane not free but hurtling towards him at the edge of the cliff. “You better want payback,” he cried as with a smooth action, he tossed his fiancée out into the air at the flying beast.
Twirling free of her bindings, Akane kept a grip on one end of the pantyhose rope as she flew uncontrolled at her captor. Lashing out with her foot, she collected one side of his head, twisting Taro into a roll but her own momentum took her over and past the monster.
Still dazed, Taro bellowed as the knotted pantyhose zipped over his back with punishing friction burns as Akane's weight pulled it across him and downwards below.
The stretching rope slowed Akane's descent, her feet hitting the rocky beach below hard but she kept on her feet, looking up at Taro with a dark grin.
Ecchi-baka Taro glared back, missing the danger as the pantyhose rope, its length now down to Akane had given Ranma a lot of tension.
“Pantyhose Meteor Kick!” Ranma declared as he jump kicked into Taro's side.
Bellowing enraged again, Taro was thankful for the blow hitting his side this time where the original time he had fallen for this it had been to the head. Still conscious, he lashed out with a heavy fist, hitting Ranma in the back to send him rocketing to the ground, bull lips crying out again as the rope burned across Taro's back just above his desperately beating wings.
Seeing Ranma falling, Akane realized it was her turn, reacting quickly and holding the rope to let the tension build.
Taro caught sight of the tensing end that Akane held below him release, shoving his fist out to catch her before taking a similar kick from her, only to catch something else bound in the end of the pantyhose. The sparking wick disappeared inside the large firecracker of Happosai's Happodactarin technique.
Finishing binding Taro's bruised human form in a length of pantyhose rope, Ranma looked up at Akane who had fashioned a modest bikini out of some of the length and the remnants of Taro's own burst clothes, passing Ranma some to cover up similarly.
Taro caught her staring at Ranma dressing. “You're not going to go off at him for being a pervert boy?” He growled disgusted.
Akane blushed at being caught but then her eyes widened. “Is this what this was about? You wanted me to see Ranma as a pervert so you did all of this?”
Taro looked away but his lack of social graces let Akane know she had guessed right. From his own pockets she pulled out the bottle of little blue pills. “That's what these are, to make him like that? You somehow slipped them to Ranma to make him like that to make me think he was some kind of pervert?”
“And instead I find you're gagging for transvestite... oof!”
Pulling back his foot from cutting of Taro's snapped reply, Ranma stepped back to let Akane handle the rest of this.
“Why Taro? Why all this when you could just have offered Grandfather these to change your name and leave?” Akane asked holding out the pile of perverted prints and the butterfly brocade, its rainbow colors shimmering as beautiful as ever. “I assume that's why you got them?”
Taro refused to answer. Ranma looked disgusted, “Is it because you still want Akane?”
“Like hell I do!” Taro growled.
Akane looked at Ranma, seeing the jealousy of Taro's interest. “Doesn't matter, even if he did grow a heart, he would have changed his name before bothering us. So what is the real reason, Ecchi-baka?”
Flinching at Akane saying his name, Taro looked away. “The old bastard refused, okay. He wanted all those plus he wanted you and fem-boy broken up.”
This time Akane put the boot into Taro. “You tried to ruin my relationship!” she hissed.
Gulping for breath from the blow to the stomach, Taro glared up at her. “I should have figured from that breast print of your chest you were more of a pervert than when we broke up.”
Akane growled but Ranma was faster, “The what?”
Dismissing Ranma's question with a wave of her hand, Akane glared at Taro, taking a deep breath to calm herself. “You're an idiot. If you had asked we could have helped you change your name. Just like if you had asked the first time rather than steal my bra.”
“He doesn't learn,” Ranma said angrily, still glancing at the sheaf of perverted prints Akane held. “First time we fought here I offered after to help him change his name.”
“And all I got was nearly killed by the old bastard.”
“Cause you're an impatient ass!”
“Ranma, stop arguing and untie him,” Akane said finally, glaring down at Taro. “Ecchi-baka Taro, go back to China. If you go right now, I won't make grandfather call you something even worse.”
“Like there is anything worse?” Taro demanded angrily.
“Ecchi-baka Ichiro?” Ranma supplied unhelpfully.
A grin tugged at Akane's lips but she suppressed it. “Taro, if you come back in at least one year from now, we'll help you. Come back with an offering for grandfather and come to us to help you change his mind. Ever come back before then and don't tell us first, there isn't a present you can bring that Ranma and I can't do better than to make him pick any name we want for you.”
Growling, Taro struggled against his bindings, still waiting for Ranma to cut him free. When it was obvious Ranma was waiting before helping, Taro nodded, “I'll go.”
Finally set free, Taro stood, shaking out his arms. Looking to the water then at Akane and Ranma, the Chinese young man smirked, “I guess yesterday was our kiss goodbye?”
“What?” Ranma demanded angrily turning on Akane.
Leaving them in a fight, Taro kicked into the water to splash himself and turn monster before taking off to the air laughing.
“What the hell, Akane?”
Said girl looked back at her fiancé, “Calm down idiot. He kissed me!”
“When? And why the hell didn't you say anything?”
“Yesterday when I talked to him before school, he picked a fight then got me when my guard was down. It didn't mean anything.”
“It did to him,” Ranma accused.
Flushing, Akane's mouth was open in shock of Ranma's attitude. “Who cares about him, it meant nothing to me other than I got tricked in a fight.”
“Says the girl who also 'forgot' to tell me she's got a date with some other guy and loses her clothes when kidnapped!”
“Says the girl in love with you, idiot!”
“What!?” Ranma yelled, wincing at his loud voice as the mood changed.
“I didn't want to admit to you that that jerk tricked me and pushed his lips on me,” Akane began pushing a finger into Ranma's bare chest. “And the date with Ryoga is because before we were engaged I surrendered to him in love dome before all those girls at school challenged him, he didn't even know about the date rule when he challenged me. And when I was meant to go on that date, I totally forgot it and was in a tent with you in the mountains!”
Ranma blushed, recalling that night.
“Ranma, the date with Ryoga I have a friend coming for him, because I want to go to the Christmas dance with you.”
“You could have said.”
“I was more worried about what Aunty will say,” Akane admitted. “Not that you asked me out to it yet?”
Ignoring her quip, Ranma looked at her seriously. “Anyone else?”
Akane glared at him, then her eyes turned softer and more sultry, her voice slowing and turning sweeter, “There is one guy, he's a complete idiot, but he makes me feel like no one else does. When he's around I don't even see other boys.”
Ranma smirked sheepishly, “What else?”
Rolling her eyes Akane stepped closer to her fiancé “He makes me jealous of other girls around him, makes me do things I never thought I would, and drives me mad by not being allowed to kiss him.”
Her tone got breathier. “He does this 'Cradle of hell' technique meant to drive people away but it just makes me want to jump on him. And he makes me use a technique on him I never wanted to use again.”
Looking into his eyes, Akane funneled her ki into her voice. “Ra-n-ma?”
“Y-Yeah?” Ranma stuttered as his legs
“Oh Ra-n-ma, please, Ra-n-ma, kiss me?”
At the breathy command Ranma leaned in pursing his lips, pressing them against Akane's fingers before her lips.
“Ranma,” Akane stated in her normal voice, “If you want me to let you keep your promise to your other fiancées, you better believe me next time about other boys. Otherwise I will show you how much you mean to me.”
“Got it,” Ranma said uncomfortably, shifting his stance looking anywhere but at her but unable to turn from her.
Climbing the still smoking but not longer flaming hillside, Ranma looked back at Akane. “What about them?” he said pointing to the set of papers with bright colors on them.
“Ug,” Akane said, red faced. “One of Grandfather's old friends, Lukkosai, somehow made himself appear to be a child and wanted to be a student, but it was a trick to get in the house find get this.”
Holding up the butterfly brocade, Akane let the sunlight shine across the beautiful colors. “It's just really good ink but Lukkosai was a real pervert...”
“Like Happosai isn't?”
Ignoring Ranma's quip, Akane continued climbing. “When Grandfather exposed Lukkosai as a perverted old man, before he tricked me into taking a bath with him, he used his ink techniques to try and trap me and trade for this. They tried to attack Ms Hinako as an adult with it to make a breast print.”
“What is a breast print?”
Looking up to see if Ranma was teasing her but saw he was serious. “It's this perverted thing where they put the ink on a womans breasts and press paper to make a print. It's just perverted.”
“So why did they have one of you?”
Akane blushed, shaking her head. “I thought it was destroyed, I offered to make it in exchange for them to let me destroy the brocade.”
Ranma stopped to look back at her, “You did that for a pair of lecherous old men?”
“No, I lied and used a feminine Tanuki statue,” she explained referring to the lucky Raccoon-Dog statues common near temples and many restaurants. “I used the breasts on a big one of them to make a fake and put my name on it.”
Ranma nodded apparently satisfied, “So why didn't you destroy the brocade?”
Blushing deeper, Akane considered lying but huffed a breath and confessed, “Because the stupid statue had bigger breasts than me and those two old perverts could tell.”
He honestly tried not to laugh.
Cresting the top Akane saw Kodachi tending to the unconscious Mikado and Ryoga near the old temple building. The dark haired female rescuer looked up, concerned at not seeing Ranma with the returning hostage.
“Where is Ranma-kun?”
“He tripped back to the bottom,” Akane replied lightly.
To be continued.