Disclaimer: I don't own YuYu Hakusho's brilliance or Ranma's Balls to the Wall humour
Alright! I'm back and I'm back with a new name. I'm LightningAsh now, based on my favourite character from Rainbow Six Siege. I could go for a bit of Siege right now, actually. Please, enjoy, my friends.
Ranma's agonizing scream of pure pain ripped through the quiet, quaint little seemingly unassuming clinic Yusuke and Akane had brought her to, tears pooling in her eyes.
"Uh-huh." Akane frowned in irritation, finger still outstretched from the mere soft jab she gently plucked into Ranma's bandaged wrapped sides, "You were saying something about not being hurt all that much, tough guy?"
Normally, Yusuke would've joined in with Akane in teasing Ranma about her superman (or superwoman) act but right now, he could focus on nothing other than his violent rage over Ranma's state. Yusuke was loyal like a dog. If he knew his friend was attacked, he would go to the ends of the earth to deal out retribution. Retribution. The only thing on his mind right now as he sat hunched forward on a chair turned backwards, gazing darkly through the injured girl at whatever depiction of a Dr Gero ripoff that he could manifest in his mind's eye.
"Rest up, Ranma," Yusuke said, looking at the girl over his arms folded over the back of the chair.
Yusuke's expressionless tone devoid of his usual levity elicited a startle from her, causing her to snap her eyes to his. She gaped, wordlessly gazing in the dark void of Yusuke's pupils lacking their typical mischief, 'He looks so,' Scary. Demonic. Exactly the enigma Yusuke clarified himself as, 'Could he actually have been telling the truth about that?' Ranma didn't know if she believed Yusuke's declaration of him being a demon. It wasn't easy to swallow but when she thought about it, it explained a bit about Yusuke, particularly his seeming demonic trait of his eyes glowing red whenever he was properly annoyed.
Akane looked between the two when neither of them replied, stalling for what seemed like an infinite amount of time, "What's going on?"
Yusuke stood up with a sigh, "Gonna go teach these Jusenkyo assholes a lesson in pain for hurting Ranma."
Ranma gasped, eyes widening wide. There was that feeling again, her heart swelling up in euphoria to hear Yusuke admitting how much he cared for her, "Butt out of it!" Even still, her pride wouldn't allow him to sweep her aside to handle her business. Stupid, fuzzy conflicted feelings or not, this was her beef, not his, and she wouldn't let him take care of her crap.
Yusuke glared, annoyed, "What?"
"Stay out of my business!" Ranma commanded in confirmation, stubbornly throwing a pillow at Yusuke which he calmly grabbed and placed back onto the bed.
Akane's temper flared, "You idiot!" She admonished, "Don't you remember what happened last time? You're in the hospital! What if you end up like Mousse!?"
"Swallow your stupid pride, jerk!"
"I'd rather DIE!"
The sheer ferocity and vehemence in Ranma's loud tone could've melted the hardest steel in the world, flooding the room in a deafening void of immense silence. Even Akane was stunned into muteness, staring breathlessly at a sour-faced redhead doggedly refusing to meet anyone's gaze.
"Ranma…" Akane hesitated, but Ranma adamantly whirled her head away, "Is your pride really so important?"
"I can take care of my own business, okay!" Ranma persisted, dodging Akane's question in its entirety. She locked eyes with the powerhouse youth in front of her bed, "So you can just stay out of it," The feisty martial artist's tone grew increasingly derisive, "Okay, demon-boy?"
Ranma waited for Yusuke's reply, never letting up on her unyielding glare. She expected him to chew her out about being bullheaded, continue to insist that she was better off letting him handle the Jusenkyo guys and make a comeback about her barb at his race, but she got none of that. He just-
Sincerely, brightly, and warmly. It was like she was gaping at the sun.
'W-What the-?' The radiance of Yusuke's glowing smile was so illuminating it almost blinded her, eyes glistening, Goosebumps erupting across her skin, heart racing a thousand miles a minute and blood flowing in her face, 'Wait a minute. I-I-I-I.'
"Red," Yusuke said through an endearing chuckle, swiftly turning his seat around to sit normally, propping his legs up at the bottom of Ranma's bed crossed at the ankles, "It's not like I don't understand your beef, 'cause I do."
Ranma looked away from the glowing charismatic boy, hands over her rapidly beating heart. She sucked in a great amount of cool air like a glass of fresh water, steeling her nerves to face him with a gulp. Yusuke's eyebrow just inclined at her odd reaction, "Uh-huh…" She eventually uttered with a shaky, dry tone, "So you say, Demon-boy."
"Hey, hey! I was once weak once upon a time, too, y'know!" Yusuke defended himself, making a face, "Wasn't just born this legit."
Ranma remained unconvinced, "Uh-huh." She reignited her usual snarky mojo with a flick of her lighter quip, "Sometimes it seems like you were though."
Yusuke caressed with the back of his head in tired annoyance, "Anyway. Can't just let ya go off into the frying pan willy nilly, ya feel?" He held up a hand before Ranma could go off on a tangent, pulling a cigarette out to place in between his lips unlighted, "That's why I'm gonna train your weak ass. Than after, me and you are going to deal with these "preservation"-pricks together."
Ranma couldn't believe her ears, "Wait! You're gonna-!"
Yusuke flashed her a fanged smirk, "That's right.~" He teased, "Think you can keep up, babe."
The sudden prospect of learning new moves and a potential whole new way of fighting was not one a fighting scholar like Ranma was going to pass up. She was a great studier of all things fighting. She lived and breathed it like Goku from Dragonball. It fascinated her in the same way a scientist was intrigued with all things of substance to mould together. The elation which filled her being was so great she didn't even mind Yusuke's little flirt, "Don't kid yourself," She began, developing her own smirk, "I'll finish your training in record time and surpass you in no time flat."
"Is that so?"
"Heck yeah it is. Just you wait."
"Can't wait." Yusuke chuckled, looking over at Akane who was suspiciously mute throughout the whole engage, "What?"
Akane was gawking at the pair of them, and unbeknownst to Yusuke and Ranma, she had been doing so since they began their bonding experience. Stunned as she was, she didn't even notice Ranma referring to Yusuke as a demonic entity but that didn't surprise Ranma any. This was Akane after all. Most blind, ignorant person she had ever met. Period. Ranma had given her more than enough hints for her to ascertain that Ryoga was her beloved pet that she might as well be beating her over the head with a massive sign that read "Ryoga is P-chan!"
Really, the implications of Ranma's new nickname for Yusuke sailing over her head didn't come as any great shock to Ranma.
Akane grumped, stomping over to Yusuke and dislodging the cigarette from his mouth before walking away, partly because she knew trying to assert herself on him like she had done to Ranma many times prior would get her nowhere, "You shouldn't be smoking in a clinic."
But yeah, if she couldn't clobber or chew him out she would do the next best thing.
"I wasn't gonna light it. It was just for show."
Coasting Through Life
The moon was out in full by the time the trio left the clinic. Fortunately for Ranma, she was far studlier than what Yusuke gave her credit for, so she didn't have to stay overnight or many more getting treated by the day. She was just heavily bandaged up with one of her legs in a cast which meant she had to walk on crutches for a while . Oddly enough, Ranma hadn't bothered changing back to her regular form even when the nutty doctor, in Yusuke's words, offered her a kettle of streaming hot water to go. She just said she would change back when they got back to the Tendo's. Yusuke could put that down to Dr. Tofu's weird tendency to go from a normal person with an functioning brain to an absolute wacko at the mere mention of Akane's older sister. Yusuke even had to stop the man from dislocating the girl's neck when Kasumi called.
"I said it before and I'll say it again," Yusuke grumbled with a crane of his neck, sauntering in between the girls from the clinic they patched Ranma up at whilst the quirky doctor waved them off in a good natured manner, "There's something funny in the water in this place."
Akane playfully smacked him on the arm with a giggle, "You shouldn't be mean to Doctor Tofu."
"Yeah, I forgot he's about as stable as Dr Nick from the Simpsons," Yusuke deadpanned with his usual snark.
Akane persistently patted him with nagging but gentle strokes, continuing to giggle, "Oh stop!"
Another crane of his neck, "Alright." He said with a tired sigh and Akane smiled, looping an arm around his. With the pearlescent light of the glowing moon shining above them, Yusuke turned his attention to the girl on his other side on crutches, "How're you holding up, Red?"
"Fine…" She grouched, a bite of stubborn tenacity in her tone. She was wrapped up from tonso to toe and plastered but still, she clung to her pride, trudging hastily forward with the crutches underneath her armpits.
"You sure?" One eye narrowed, askance.
"I said I'm fine, demon!" The wounded red head snapped, drawing a flinch from the apparent demonic being. A look of hurt briefly flashed across Yusuke before he quickly disguised it with his trademark nonchalance and guilt fostered in the pit of Ranma's stomach, cooling her heated annoyance. She hadn't meant to snap at him like that but the emotional moment they shared left her confused. Ranma just couldn't understand why her body was reacting positively to Yusuke's touches and tender smiles.
Akane's own anger boiled to the surface in place of Ranma's, "You jerk!" She rounded on her and because this was Akane (miss clueless who doesn't know Ryoga is P-chan) the implications of Ranma's bitter remark of Yusuke's race sailed over her head, "Yusuke's only worried about you! You would know if you wasn't such a selfish, egocentric jerk!"
"No one asked him!"
"He shouldn't have to!"
"Enough!" Yusuke commanded, nipping the issue in the bud before it could really get out of hand, "I get it. Ranma wants to walk home under her own power and you don't want her just brushing my concern under the rug like it ain't nothing," He summarized their points, annoyance simmering down as he dragged a hand down his face.
"He!" Ranma injected.
"Whatever!" Yusuke brushed off, drawing a pout from Ranma, "It's done now. Can we just walk home in peace?"
Quickly remembering Yusuke's initial silent rage converted into pure power to crater the ground to shut up them the first time, the girls compelled, but not without one final electric stare-off of hostility before huffing and turning swiftly away from each other.
Yusuke sighed, 'Man, I knew this, but what the hell were their old men thinking trying to wed their dumbasses?' He mused, scratching his scalp in a show of exhausted annoyance.
"Um, so, Yusuke," Yusuke's light irritation simmered into curiosity when he heard Akane crawling into her shell of winsome shyness, "Would you, um," She averted her gaze from his peering eyes, hoping he wouldn't see her reddening cheeks, "Like to try my cooking when we get back?"
It turned out turning her head from the object of her current affections was for the best. Now his bug-eyed stare of dumbfounded annoyance was entirely out of her mind, 'What's up with her?' He said inwardly whilst Ranma gaped at his side. He halved another sigh, "Sure."
Even though his allowance was spoken with all his signature indifference, she instantly whipped her head back to him with a wide eyed look of stunned amazement, almost drawing a cringe from Yusuke at her overreaction, "Alright," She murmured, tears leaking out of her closed eyes as she smiled at him, relaxing her head on his arm, "I'll get started right away."
'I don't believe it!' Ranma continued to gawk at the cuddled two, 'She's falling for the jerk!' The redhead barely had to look to notice how much of a couple they looked with Akane wrapped around his arm, even with Yusuke looking uncomfortable as they did. She deadpanned at the older teen's discomfort to the girl's affections, 'I bet he doesn't even know why Akane's all over him, the blockhead.' Ranma didn't understand how Yusuke was not only wooing but seemingly controlling Shampoo and Akane. The latter was really peeving her off. Yusuke could interact with them without being on the receiving end of one of their assaults.
What Ranma wouldn't give to possess such impeccable composure and the willingness to stand firm against a girl's tsundere fury but alas, it seemed Ranma was cursed, pun intended, to always crumble into a crippling mess every time a girl unleashed her inner rage.
'Gotta beat him!' She resolutely decided, glaring a hole through him. Not for the first time Ranma had pledged to herself that she would beat Yusuke and restore her fallen pride and she would be telling herself that until she achieved her objective. She was now officially under Yusuke's wing after demanding he butt out of her business during their time in Dr Tofu's clinic, but Yusuke still couldn't in good conscious just let her face enemies wholly capable of decimating her with a single cyborg and HAD to extend that invitation to enter his school of kickassery, which she accepted.
She knew if she desired to put Yusuke in his place learning all his tricks to decipher would be one of the better methods to go about it.
They continued on in silence bathed in the brilliant light of the moon. Naturally it took them longer than necessary to reach home given Ranma's current condition.
Akane reluctantly dislodged herself from her prince charming to unlock the front door with her key, smiling sweetly all the while, "I'll go get started."
"Yeah, yeah," Yusuke sighed, stopping by the door to look at Ranma over his shoulder, earning a swift glare from the other girl beside him at his unspoken enquiry.
Ranma grumped, whisking her head from him before trudging past him into the dojo in frustration, eliciting another hard exhale from her recently dubbed sensei.
And Yusuke's annoyance only grew in intensity when he spun to find Akane eyeballing him in irritation, "What?"
Yusuke's retort only ended up fanning the flames of Akane's inferno lour, a raising curtain of crimson enveloping over her face before she relieved her streaming exasperation with a hard huff, whirling from him in dismissal. She matched down the hall, leaving a puzzled Yusuke and an innately smug Ranma alone.
"What did I even do?"
"This coming from the mummy on crutches?"
Ranma faltered at the low blow to her current state before deadpanning in dry irritation, "You just HAD to go there, didn't you, Demon boy?"
"It's what I do," Yusuke preened, purposefully displaying his fangs at the redhead. Ranma just rolled her eyes. "Alright, rest up. As soon as you're healed we'll get started on your training. Be ready. My boot camp ain't no cakewalk. Just ask Ryo."
Ranma grumped, hopping around before facing the stairs, advancing up one painstaking step at a time; Yusuke watching her with unbidden concern clouding his usually mischievous gaze, "Don't underestimate me, pal. I've been put through hell since I could walk. Compared to that, your "boot camp" will be a cakewalk."
"Is that so?" Yusuke asked, leaning against the railing and situating a foot right at the bottom of the stairs.
Ranma stopped her advancement up at the flight of stairs to flash Yusuke a recognizable smirk of bright confidence, blasting him full force in the nostalgia, "Count on it."
Such belief in herself, it reminded Yusuke of himself and his own indomitable resolve to win every fight he steps into. It was no wonder he was warming up to Ranma as quickly as he was.
They were both wise guys brimming with all the conviction in the world.
Yusuke removed himself from his step, features softening with a smile, "Oh yeah? Then I'm counting on ya."
"Don't count too hard, your brain might melt," Ranma jeered, earning a warm chuckle from Yusuke before she continued toward her current goal of reaching the top floor on crutches. Feeling the apparent demon's eyes on her as she advanced, Ranma couldn't resist one last sneaky shot, devilish glint in her eye, "Enjoy Akane's cooking."
Yusuke blinked, "…Thanks for the heads up, I guess." As soon as Ranma reached the top he sauntered down the hall.
Once Yusuke was out of sight, Ranma shook her head, sighing in mock-pity, "Poor sap," She muttered underneath her breath, trudging off to her room, "He has no idea what he's in store for."
In the bliss of his own ignorance to the apparent horror that awaited him, Yusuke ventured down the hall, meeting Kasumi at a crossroads between the living room and the outside garden, "Oh, Urameshi-kun!" She brightened, delicately holding a streaming golden kettle in her arms, "You're back."
"Hey, Kasumi," Yusuke greeted plainly, briefly acknowledging Soun and Genma playing a game of shogi; the latter in his panda form. "Yeah. Woulda been back sooner but I had to run janitor duty cleaning up the mess at Furinkan."
"Oh dear," Kasumi pitted, fidgeting lightly on her tiptoes, "I had hoped Ranma-kun wouldn't have been in trouble when we saw the news regarding the destruction of his school, but…" Kasumi trailed off, eyes drifting off in melancholy. Yusuke whined. Even she was quick to blame Ranma. The cloud of despondency fogging her eyes was cleared by a bright glow of appreciation, "Thank you for taking care of little sister and Ranma-kun."
*I agree. Good to know I can count on ya to pull my boy out of hot water.*
"And I agree with Kasumi and Saotome. Thank you for taking care of my youngest daughter," Soun smiled, exhaling in bliss, "I can take comfort knowing she has a man of your strength looking over her, my liege. In fact, If you're interested, I'd be more than happy to give you my blessing to take her hand in marriage. I feel she would be safe under your care."
Yusuke eyed him strangely, 'The hell's with this guy?' So trigger happy to give away one of his daughters but Yusuke couldn't say he was surprised. After all, this was the same guy trying force wed Akane and Ranma despite how incompatible they were as an item to unite his school with Genma's, "Uh, thanks, I'll be sure to keep that in mind," He mumbled, dry sarcasm oozing from his tone.
Soun nodded contently, returning to his game with the panda.
Kasumi snapped to attention with a gasp before moving behind Saotome and pouring the contents of the golden kettle over his form.
"Much better," Genma breathed in content.
"By the way," Yusuke said, looking around the immediate area.
"Yes, my liege?"
"Did Ryo make it back? We kinda got separated when we made it to Furinkan."
"Hmm, no. I don't believe he has."
"Figures," He grouched. He should never have let him out of his sight but he assumed he would be following him. He had no reason to assume Ryoga wouldn't be in step beside him and the time he realised he wasn't he was already gone, "Better go get his lost-ass. Be back in a sec."
They bid him their collective farewells before he sauntered off to the front door, coming to a halt with his hand gripping the handle when hurried footsteps approached.
"Yusuke!" Akane called out, worry etched onto her face, "You're leaving already?" She fiddled with a cooking spoon she had brought with her in her hurry to stop Yusuke in her apron, "What about my cooking?"
"Just gonna fetch Ryo, you know how he is," Although he meant it as an inside joke at Ryoga's expanse, the fanged smirk Yusuke flashed Akane with heated her face in several shades of deep, scarlet red, "Won't be long. Get the stove on in the meantime, y'hear?" When Akane didn't respond, he enquired, "What?"
Akane glanced at her wiggling toes, butterflies erupting from their cocoon of previous protected nerves as her reddened face deepened to atomic levels; Yusuke blinking blankly at her gestures.
Before he could ask what was wrong, she jetted into his chest, pressing her rapidly blushing face into his toned pecks.
"Get back soon, okay." She quickly (reluctantly) pried herself from him and dashed off, leaving a stunned faced Yusuke behind.
Seconds became minutes and minutes felt like hours before Yusuke felt fit to verbalize his feelings on what just happened.
"Well, I dun goofed."
(With Ryoga – Location Unknown)
Heavy footsteps padded audibly off the sandy lands the eternally lost boy found himself in, wandering to nowhere in particular, wanting nothing to do with anything. Ukyo had unknowingly planted a dangerous seed in his head and now he could think of nothing else but his crush and apparent sensei together, cuddling blatantly in his face with all the intention to drive him up the wall.
And it worked.
"Can't believe I fell for all that," He mumbled, bitterly crushing his supposed training equipment between his fists, "Endurance training my ass. He just wanted to humiliate me so he could get closer to Akane." He gritted his teeth, glaring hotly into the deep sands covering his ankles; fists clenched tight at his sides.
"I swear I'll never forgive you!"
Speaking of the current bane of his existence, Ryoga didn't even turn his head to acknowledge his former sensei, expression darkening in malevolent contempt, "What the hell do you want?"
Yusuke silently whined, 'Ouch. He's pissed,' He mused, listening to the gentle waves of the ocean before inhaling deeply, "That anyway to talk to the loving big bro who went out of his way to pick ya up?" He figured going with a joke to break the ice would be the best way to go about this.
He had the nerve to still joke about that following his betrayal? Such audacity, "Shut your damned mouth!" He roared, drawing a sigh from Yusuke, "Why don't you just go back to Akane?" He sarcastically queried, features drying up, "Since that's what you've really come here for, to rub it in my face."
Instead of denying any such accusations of his alleged fling with Akane, Yusuke seemingly admitted it, both surprising and further aggravating Ryoga, "So you caught onto that, huh?"
"So YOU admit it, HUH!?" Ryoga ferociously rounded on the traitorous nineteen-year-old, face a mask of unhinged glowing crimson red rage, "Prepare to die, traitor!" Ryoga rushed forward.
"Whoa! Hold up," Yusuke hastily requested, pressing an index finger into Ryoga's forehead, halting his onslaught, "Just hear me out!"
"I don't need to hear your excuses, damn you!" Ryoga yelled, thrashing forward in Yusuke's light but powerful hold on his forehead; the equivalent to a baby throwing a temper tantrum and being held off by his dad with a single hand, "You've already admitted you're with Akane now, you damned traitor!"
"Like hell I'll ever listen to another word from you again, traitor!"
The visible air waves flowing inwards like fumes of a car to Yusuke's nostrils was the only forewarning Ryoga was going to get. Before the irrationally enraged boy knew what was happening, he was pulled in by a magnetic-like grip on his arm and powerfully hammered on his cheek, sent sprawling across the beach by the force behind the blow.
"Damn you, bastard," Ryoga wheezed, sitting up on his sand-made bed his own body had upheaved on his forced trip across the island resort; the shadow mark of Yusuke's handiwork already blemishing his cheek. He would surely have a massive bruise come tomorrow.
Yusuke impassively stared him down with a shadow forming over his eyes, "Now will you just listen?"
"Feh." He wiped his mouth, "First he steals the love of my life, punches me and then tells me to listen?!" Ryoga said, more to himself than Yusuke, slowly getting up for a second round, "Fat chance!"
"I didn't steal her!"
"Akane's fallen for me! Not the other way around!" Yusuke defended himself, jerking a thumb at his posture, "Whaddya want me to say? Whaddya want me to do?"
Ryoga began to approach Yusuke, further accelerating with each threatening step he took until he broke into a full-on sprint, "I want you to drop dead and die so I can be with Akane!" He led with a wild, brawler-styled haymaker, feeling the cool breeze of his foe's easy evasion brush his arm, much to his annoyance.
"Yeah, not gonna happen," Yusuke deadpanned with an eye roll, once more trapping Ryoga by the arm when the furious boy tried to nail him with his forearm, "Look Ryo, I never meant for this to happen."
"Yeah, right!" Ryoga shouted, outright refusing to buy in to anymore of Yusuke's bullshit as he thrashed to free his arm from Yusuke's grip, "You expect me to believe that?!"
"I saw you hugging her!"
"Seriously, that's your beef?!" Ryoga's intensifying glare only confirmed said suspicions, "Ryo, friends hug."
"Yeah, well, not where I'm from!"
"Then where the hell are you from?"
Then an eruption of fury.
"Just shaddap!" Ryoga roared and struggled, thrashing left and right to free his arm but all for naught. Yusuke's expressionless frown only further fuelled his fire. He tried arrowing a jab at that deadpanned mug he currently hated so much with his free fist, but Yusuke stepped around his punch, twisting his arm painfully over his shoulder, "ARGH!" He screeched in agony, violently squirming to free his imprisoned arm, "Let me go and fight me like a man, you coward!"
Yusuke glared dryly, "Try breaking free instead of bitching," He advised, turning Ryoga's face red, "If this was a real one vs one, you wouldn't get the chance to complain about being trapped. You'll be done," He stated darkly before quipping, "Consider that your final lesson."
"This is a real fight! And drop the stupid sensei-act already!" Ryoga demanded vehemently, but ironically took Yusuke's advice in trying to break free of Yusuke's arm lock but to no avail, grunting and squirming belligerently, "Ughhhhh! Get off me and prepare to die! I'm NOT gonna let you take Akane away from me!"
"Okay," Yusuke said, voice dropping a dangerous octave. He took hold of Ryoga's neck with his other hand, straightening out his twisted arm before swinging him around as though he were a Frisbee disc; heel gouging through the sands and making a circle around him in his speedy rotation. Ryoga's complexion lost all colouring as he dangled in the winds picked up by Yusuke, "You need to cool off."
Yusuke hauled Ryoga several miles skyward like a football, sending him on a one-way course to the ocean to quote "cool off."
"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!" Ryoga's scream ripping through the quiet nightly air was all magic to Yusuke's ears.
He dusted off his hands, straightening from his herculean toss of the irrational heartbroken boy in self-satisfaction, "That oughta cool him off," He said, watching the waves wash over Ryoga's audible splash. He waited, hands in his pockets, for Ryoga to emerge, but when he didn't realization blasted Yusuke as though an egg had landed right on his face, "Oh shit."
(Sometime Later - Location Tokyo)
"Well," A sheepishly grinning Yusuke tried to amend, sat next to a visibly annoyed Ryoga in a hot bath, "Least you got a free bath, right?"
After rescuing Ryoga from his own fuck-up Yusuke took them to a public bath to get them cleaned up and more importantly, Ryoga back in his human form. It wasn't like Ryoga could refuse the offer given his predicament, so he naturally accepted the invitation as Yusuke plucked his tiny form out of the ocean he foolishly chucked him into whilst the little piglet glared daggers of death at him.
And now they sat soothing their bodies in total awkward silence.
Ryoga wasn't interested in trying to reconcile their early bond and ignored Yusuke as he sat beside him, eyes closed and arms sternly crossed over his chest.
Yusuke exhaled in exhaustion, one arm draped across the surface of the tub, 'This blows. How the hell did Akane even wind up falling for me anyhow?' He could feel his brain cells working overtime trying to ascertain Akane's feelings for him. 'Did Cupid's arrow nail her while I wasn't looking?' He scowled. It was the only explanation he could think of. He just couldn't understand how Akane could've fallen for him. He wasn't even trying to woo her or anything. Not that he could woo a woman even if he wanted to. Yusuke was the farthest thing from a ladies' man as he could be. Even if he enjoyed flirting with Ranma from time to time he didn't make a habit of flirting with the first attractive female in his line of sight.
The boys finished their uncomfortable bath in record time – mostly because they wanted to get away from each other and the awkward atmosphere they created – and dressed, walking toward the entrance.
"Thank you for your patronage. I hope you enjoyed your time. Come again soon." The perky receptionist said robotically, dipping into a bow behind the desk.
Yusuke flicked two fingers at her in cool bidding, "Will do. Thanks," He muttered plainly, following Ryoga outside before stopping by the door, "Ryo?"
Ryoga only had eyes for the road ahead of him. With a deep sigh, he admitted, "I know I'm not strong enough to beat you yet," He started, not turning to acknowledge Yusuke's cheeky grin, "But!" His eyes steeled in a resolute glare, "Mark my words, someday I will surpass you!" Yusuke could see Ryoga's shoulders and fists trembling down at his sides in his declaration of war.
"Is that so?" Yusuke said, masking his emotion.
Ryoga's fire soon dried, "So keep Akane warm for me." He clarified, retreating from his new rival for Akane's hand, "Because I will be back for her, Urameshi."
Ouch. Reverting to a second-name basis. That was a blow right to the dick of Yusuke's heart, "I'm sorry, Ryo," He said, eyes softening and lowered voice full of remorse. Ryoga continued to walk away from him, "I really am."
His apology felt on deaf ears. With not much else other than a grunt and a delay in his retreat, Ryoga assumed his travels.
When the lost boy was no longer in sight, Yusuke pulled out a cigarette and lighted it with a bit of spirit energy, inhaling a long drag of soothing fumes and exhaling in a cloud of melancholy, "Well, that could've gone better," He murmured. He lost his first friend since stepping into this crazed land and the first new friend since his days as a spirit detective and temporary Demon King ruler of Raizan's territory.
Yusuke silently bemoaned the lost of his first new friendship since setting out in his aimless wander across the globe, finishing his cigarette before trudging off toward his temporary home.
A slow thirty minute walk across Tokyo's Nerima district saw Yusuke rapping on the Tendo dojo's door for the second time that evening. Mostly for Ryoga's sake Yusuke had the decency to fly them to Tokyo before taking them to a public bath to get Ryoga cleaned and reverted back to his normal form.
Yusuke could already tell who was greeting him the moment he heard rapidly scurrying footsteps behind the closed door. As such it came as no great surprise when his apparent admirer (for some reason he was yet to figure out) hurriedly opened the doorway, huffing heavily in the exertion of her mad dash to meet him, "Yusuke!" She called, perceptibly alarmed, "You're back. I thought…" She trailed off, drinking in the "new look" of her crush, eyes pooling in romance, "…you weren't going to come back." She finished in a slow, dreamy drawl, staring off into space with only Yusuke and his sculptured figure in it, materializing a pink backdrop behind him.
Goodness. With his hair down Yusuke looked like a totally different person. Boyish and dashing and Akane very much liked.
"My bad," Yusuke offered by way of apology, but Akane barely heard him, "Got sidetracked." He snorted. That was putting it mildly, "Hope you saved leftovers." He joked tepidly, raising an eyebrow when Akane didn't move aside to let him in, "Uh, gonna let me in or what?" Still nothing. Yusuke pinched the bridge of his nose, inhaling deeply with a hand on his hip, "I don't need this crap."
"Helllllooo!" Yusuke echoed mockingly, waving a hand in front of Akane's face to try and knock her out of her trance, "Earth to Akane! Anyone in there?"
That did the track. With a startle Akane snapped out of her daydream, "Oh, sorry Yusuke," She said, stepping to the side with a sweet smile, "I was, um."
Yusuke rolled his eyes, moving past her, "Doesn't matter."
Akane stretched her head past the door, looking left and right for any sign of the wayward objective Yusuke was supposed to bring, "I thought you said you were going to bring Ryoga." She grumped, thinking he was just trying to weasel out of tasting her cooking.
"Ryoga's doing his own thing now," Yusuke explained, a pang of regret spiking his heart.
"Oh." Akane uttered, closing the door.
"Yeah." Yusuke drawled, looking up at the ceiling with a forlorn look in his gaze. He half-turned, eyeing the lovestruck girl sidelong, "Akane?"
"Yes, Yusuke?" She asked, pleasantly.
"Did you know Ryo had a thing for ya?"
Yusuke didn't move an inch. He just stared vacantly to give Akane a moment to process just what he said.
After what seemed like an eternity, Akane's eyes widened slightly, "W-What?" She sputtered, scrambling for anything to cling onto as she laughed, waving her hand across her mouth as if dismissing a funny joke, "Oh, stop! You're teasing me, aren't you, Yusuke? Ryoga's the sweetest the most genuine guy I know. He wouldn't have fallen for me."
"I'm not." Yusuke hard clarified and the firm matter-of-fact tone of his voice left no room for further interpretation, halting Akane's attempts to shield herself from rationality. She knew Yusuke a little now. He wasn't the kind of man who half assed his points, "Ryoga digs you."
"No way," Akane murmured, left shellshocked as if her best friend had committed a hideous crime. Part of her felt betrayed by the boy who was supposedly smitten by her. Her view of Ryoga was that of an starry-eyed innocent lad whose innocence she felt inclined to protect and mother. The thought of him being romantically interested in her never once crossed her mind, "That's so," Akane's boiling rage spilled over, "Gross! Ugh! I can't believe I trusted him. How could he be like that?"
Yusuke inched an eyebrow upward, "What's so wrong with digging a hot girl?" He asked, heating Akane's cheeks at the implications of her looks, "You're a pretty girl, Akane. It's only natural dudes will fall heads over heels for you," Akane's face fully erupted in a rosy red sea, "Especially when they're teenagers, ya feel?"
Akane turned her blushing red face away from her crush, crossing her arms impatiently underneath her bosom, "Dumb boys," She grumped, "I thought Ryoga was different but it turns out he's just another icky boy."
Call it guilt eating away at him for how things ended between him and his first disciple but Yusuke felt inclined to come to Ryoga's defence, "C'mon, it's not like that."
Akane stared at him flatly, "Really? How so?" She asked, a hint of sarcasm dipping from her tone, "You said I was pretty yourself!" Her wrath simmered slightly under the influence of her nerves, "He obviously only liked me because he found me attractive! Ugh! He's such a creep!"
Yusuke opened his mouth, fingers raising in protest but a single realization made him hesitate. As much as he felt obligated to defend Ryoga's honour, he barely knew the boy. For all Yusuke knew Ryoga could've only been interested in Akane just because he thought she was gorgeous, which she admittedly was.
With that realized, he dropped his finger, shaking his head to dismiss the matter, "Forget it." He turned, ambling toward the living room, "I'm too beat to argue about it."
Akane smirked in triumph before her own conscious kicked in. 'It all makes sense why he took so long. He was fighting with Ryoga, over me," In a rare show of rationality, Akane deduced that her growing feelings for Ryoga's brother must have made him feel jealous, which led to a fight between the two. That would explain Yusuke's clarification of Ryoga doing his own thing. They've fallen out. Over her, 'How awful.' She shook her head, gaze sharpening resolutely, 'I have to apologize.'
She fell in step beside him.
Akane fidgeted awkwardly.
"You know what!"
"Ugh! It's about what happened between you and your brother!"
"Oh, you still believe that bs?"
Akane shot him a fish eyed stare.
"I made all that bros-thing up for shit-and-giggles!"
"You're the worst!"
Out with one disciple and in with the next. That's just the way it goes sometimes.