at long last
a story by
Saotome Ranma walks away from the fight, his opponent down for the count, a shimmering rage suffusing his body, making his hands shake.
`Hey, Ranma,' Daisuke calls from a safe distance, `Ranma is looking for you.'
`What does she want?' he asks, anger coloring his tone.
`The teachers want one of you to use a different name.'
`I'll fight her for it,' Ranma says, and stalks off.
`What is it?' Ranma asks from Ukyou's lap.
`You want my name, too,' Ranma growls, `after you've taken everything else?'
`I lost my manhood. Permanently.'
`I lost Akane. Also permanently.'
`Point. I will keep my name, but I'll use a different one - good enough?'
`Fine, Ran_ko_,' Ranma sneers.'
`Ranka,' she corrects.
`Uncontrolled fire. Suits her, doesn't it?' Ukyou asks, hugging "Ranka" to her chest.
`I suppose,' Ranma growls, and stalks off.
`What's with him?' Ukyou asks.
`Who has he been touching?' Ranka asks, `Ryouga. Kunou. Mousse. A couple Challenger-of-the-days. People who are always angry.'
`Oh. What can we do?'
`I can't think of anything more - we told the interested people, and they vanished. We don't even have any new fiancees, haven't for months. I'm worried about him.'
`You think he might really die?'
`I think he might end up permanently angry - the only time he touches anyone, or anyone touches him, is during a fight,' Ranka cuddles down into Ukyou's arms a little deeper.
`Hey,' Saiyuu, one of the new students, a Chinese boy, black braid to the middle of his back, says, `What's got you steamed this time?'
`Me?' Kunou Tachihiko, the other new student, asks, rubbing the back of his short-cropped head.
`No, your idiot cousin. He was going on about my ensourceling his loves when I cast them off, one to the other and the other to "That Other Pervert",' his fingers tighten, and more of the already chewed-looking table crumbles. He drops his head gently to its surface.
`It'll be OK,' Saiyuu says, laying a callused hand on Ranma's shoulder, `Idiots tend to have low reproductive success, so your kids shouldn't have to deal with idiot Kunou children.'
`I'm related to him. That's always worried me,' Tachihiko scowls.
`I don't think it's genetic - his sister's a bit loopy, but it's an act,' Ranma, calmer, clouts his friend on the back.
`It is? How can you tell?' he asks, rubbing his shoulder.
`She's good, but I can tell - she pauses at the wrong places, thinks about it too much. She'd be a better martial artist if she let it go.'
`I'll tell her you said that,' Tachihiko smiles a bit.
`Please don't - I haven't seen her in a week, and it's been so nice. Quiet, too.'
`You mean you don't like being the object of every girl's affection?' Saiyuu asks, `I wouldn't mind all the looks, giggles, and dropped voices you get.'
`They think I'm a freak.'
`They think you're the prettiest girl and the coolest boy in school. Not the prettiest girl anymore, but . . . ' Tachihiko says.
`How do you know?'
`I asked. I eavesdropped. Most of them would like to be your girl - quite a few would like to just fuck you, boy or girl or both. A few of the boys watch you like that, too,' he gives a half-smirk, `but more of them watch the other Ranma.'
`Ranka,' he draws the kanji on the desk with his finger, leaving no marks, `It's a good name.'
`I'm just so angry it pisses me off.'
`Which doesn't help, I'm sure.'
`No, it doesn't,' Ranma laughs, his mood lifted somewhat.
`Spar for a little bit?' Saiyuu asks.
`Sure,' Ranma bounds to his feet and gives Tachihiko a hand up while Saiyuu rises gracefully on his own.
`How did you learn Martial Arts Rythmic Gymnastics? I didn't know males competed in it.'
`They don't - I just had to master it before my parents would pay for training in anything else. I'm still a student.'
`That sucks,' Ranma thinks for a little bit, `I could teach you a number of different styles.'
`That would be cool. I could teach you more Martial Arts Rythmic Gymnastics.'
`It's a weapon's style - once one knows the weapons, one knows most of it.'
`I heard about your match with my cousin - that one was pure brute strength, no artistry at all.'
`Oh?' Ranma asks archly.
`Yes! Watch,' Tachihiko throws himself into a double layed-out backflip down the hall, his hands not touching the ground in the middle of the move, bounds forward and summersaults along the ceiling.
`Well,' he asks, back on the floor.
`That ceiling trick was nice,` Ranma admits.
Ranka pulls back into the classroom, `It's good to see he's gotten some new friends, and these ones seem to be good for him, too.'
`Tachihiko and Saiyuu are rather cool, in a bishonen way.'
`They are rather bishonen, aren't they. I hadn't noticed,' Ranka smiles at that.
`I noticed because I was one. Not that I have eyes for anyone else,' she reaches out and gives Ranka's hand a squeeze.
`Better not,' Ranka's voice is a mock growl.
Ranma, Tachihiko, Saiyuu, and the teacher arrive at about the same time.
Ukyou squeezes Ranka's hand again, then drops it.
Ranma, Tachihiko, and Saiyuu are doing forms, topless, sweat dripping down their forms, hair damp.
`Enough,' Ranma says, `Tachihiko's about to collapse.'
`No,' he gasps, `I can keep going for another hour or so.'
`You might be able too, but you're not using your chi right - You're burning it for power, not using it for restoration.'
`I wouldn'ta put it that way, but he's right - don't focus your ki on keeping going, but on how you do your form. After you get that down you'll start learning how to use it for self-healing.'
`How,' *gasp*, `About healing others?'
`Like this,' Saiyuu lays a hand on Tachihiko's chest.
Tachihiko's breath slows, his face lightens from the bright red it had taken on. He raises his hand and brushes sweat around in his short hair, getting some of it out, `Wow - that's amazing. How does it work? Do you use your ki to fix the other person?'
`No, I change the way your chi flows, and you heal yourself.'
`Like the way Dr. Toufuu works,' Ranma says, `I need to learn that.'
`It'll be more difficult to teach you - Your chi is very strong, difficult to disrupt or move.'
`And you learned by having someone heal at you,' Ranma says.
`Yeah,' Saiyuu says, contemplatively, `But if you pay attention you could probably feel it when I make the attempt.'
`Let's see,' Ranma says, stepping close.
Saiyuu lays a hand on him.
`That tickles,' he says, `Yeah, I can feel how to change it,' he steps back, `How do you know where to change it to?'
`Some people use their own bodies, other people know what the patterns are supposed to be like for different people-'
`Like how my ki felt different when I was a girl, or how a pregnant woman's ki is all knotted, no, swirly.'
`Yep, if one isn't careful-'
`You can really mess someone up. Who uses this sort of thing in combat?'
`Desperate people, and dead ones. Using it once or twice when there are no other good options is worrying. Anyone who uses it all the time,' pause, `It is our obligation to hunt them down and kill them,' Saiyuu shrugs a little.
`You ever kill anyone?' Tachihiko asks, `I came too close, once.'
`No,' Ranma says.
`I had someone I was supposed to kill, once, but I couldn't.'
`Couldn't because they were too strong?' Tachihiko asks, drying himself with a towel.
`No, because they really hadn't done anything wrong. I couldn't kill them after my blood had cooled.'
`Is that why you're here?'
`In part. I'm at Furinkan because we got booted from Tachihiko's last school.'
`OK. So you're staying with your cousin?' he asks Tachihiko.
`Yeah. Tatewaki is . . . difficult.'
`How is his sister? I haven't seen her, or Shanpuu, come to think of it, in nearly two weeks.'
`Shanpuu is a purple-haired Chinese girl? Busty?' Tachihiko holds his hands cupped in front of his chest.
`They've been hanging out together a lot, recently. They're probably up to something.'
`Probably,' Ranma says, grimacing.
`I'm going to get something to eat. Would you like to come along? I'll pay.'
`Sure,' Ranma wipes himself quickly with a towel, wrings a little more sweat from his braid, and wiggles into his shirt.
Saiyuu just nods, already dressed.
`Hey, thanks for dinner!' Ranma calls, already up on a nearby rooftop before he remembers his manners.
Tachihiko and Saiyuu join him, `Your're welcome,' and Saiyuu gives him a hug.
Ranma stiffens, then returns it, thumping him on the back.
`Hey, you want a hug too?' Ranma asks Tachihiko, a smirk on his face.
`Sure,' Tachihiko smirks back, and squeezes him hard.
`See you tomorrow!' Ranma calls, and bounds away.
`I feel like a pervert,' Ranka says, watching from a little bit away.
`Look like one, too,' Cologne says from next to her.
`Good job - I didn't know you were there until right before I spoke,' a smirk flits across Ranka's face, more obscured by the gathering dusk than the black cloth tied under her nose, `Why are you here?'
`Just checking up on my great-grandaughter and her friend's latest scheme.'
`Great-grandaughter? . . . Saiyuu,' she shakes her head, `It does seem to be working, if that is the goal. Tachihiko would be Kodachi, then?'
Cologne nods again.
`She asked you not to tell, didn't she?'
Cologne nods again.
`Then it is a good thing I figured this out on my own, isn't it. Makes me worry a lot less.'
`That is good to know,' Cologne smiles, and hops away.
Ranka smiles, and leaps for the next roof.
`Hey, you know how I told Kodachi I wasn't even sure if the other Ranma still liked girls?'
`Yeah,' Ukyou sounds a little confused.
`Seems she and Shanpuu took it to heart.'
Ukyou looks even more confused for a little bit, then her face blossoms into shocked understanding, `Saiyuu and Tachihiko!'
`Knew they were too pretty to be real boys.'
`Should I be jealous or something?'
`Of course not,' Ukyou gathers Ranka up in her arms and kisses her thoughroughly, her hands slipping up under Ranka's shirt.
`So,' Tachihiko says, eyes closed, head back against the edge of the bath, `Do you think we scared him?'
`No, he didn't run away. He's responding, I can feel it.'
`Told you hanging out at a gay bar would be decent research.'
`But he watches girls. Rather avidly, in fact.'
`We've been watching them, too.'
`Appreciating them, even. Never thought that would happen,' Saiyuu smiles, a little bit crookedly, `Leastwise not on my part.'
`I think I might have always liked girls, somewhat. Were you watching that girl, last Saturday, who was at the match?'
`The curvey one? Who kept screaming your name? Yeah, she was rather nice looking,' Saiyuu says.
`I was rather fascinated. Nearly distracted, even,' Tachihiko says, opening his eyes, `Hey! You lying wench! You're hard!'
`You're fine, too, but yeah, that girl was really nice looking.'
`You!' Tachihiko yells, and dunks the other boy.
`Rise! Bow! Sit!' the class rep calls.
Ranka looks over at Saiyuu and Tachihiko, and smiles. She draws out a sheet of paper, scribbles a quick note, and folds it carefully. An instant later, it vanishes.
Saiyuu picks it up, opens it, `Hey, that uniform looked good on you, Saturday. I had been wondering who you were, and why you had been watching me so avidly, almost as avidly as you were watching Kodachi. Nice dye job - Kodachi was in a wig?'
Saiyuu looks up at Ranka, and nods.
Ranma is oblivious.
Three sweaty boys drop down on their heels, then sit.
Saiyuu turns to Ranma, leans forward, and kisses him.
Ranma sits stock-still, and Saiyuu slips further over onto him, rubbing his thigh. Ranma suddenly responds, wrapping his arms around the other boy, lips parting, tongue slipping into his mouth.
Tachihiko starts rubbing his hand up Ranma's other thigh, rubbing his penis through his pants. Ranma groans, parting his thighs further, then rips his lips from Saiyuu, reaching for Tachihiko's lips.
Tachihiko kisses him hard, almost bruising.
Saiyuu's hand joins Tachihiko's, and with another groan Ranma comes in his pants.
Breaking the kiss with Tachihiko he plasters his lips against Saiyuu's again, eyes closed.
`Did we scare him off?' Shanpuu asks, looking down, up to her neck in the bathwater.
`Probably. He left really quick,' Kodachi replies, equally dejected.
`He was enjoying it.'
`Yeah, but a lot of enjoyable things are really scary.'
`Maybe Ranka will straighten him out,' Shanpuu says, `Come over here, might as well be miserable together,' she holds her arms out.
`Don't really want him straight. Just a little gay would be perfect, don't you think?' Kodachi nuzzles down against Shanpuu, her face in Shanpuu's hair.
`Ranka! Ranka! I need to talk to you!' Ranma calls frantically, pounding on Ukyou's door.
`Come in,' she tells him, opening the door, looking quite disheveled, maybe even debauched, dressed in a too-large men's yukata.
`What's wrong?' Ranka pours herself a cup of cold tea, and offers the pot to Ranma, who pours himself a cup of the bitter, over-steeped brew.
`I kissed a boy. No, I kissed _two_ boys, and it was nice.'
`Wonderful, better than anything I've felt before,' he stares down into his cup, `So, am I a fag? I liked it, I really did?'
`Do you find girls sexually attractive?'
`Yes. Too many of them. More of them than ever before.'
He pauses a long moment, then shakes his head.
`Tachihiko and Saiyuu?'
He looks startled, then nods.
`I'd guess you're straight, or nearly so, and in love, the early stages of it, with them,' Ranka looks into her own cup, swirling her tea, `They have a couple of secrets they need to share with you, but they aren't trying to hurt you, remember that when they come out, OK?'
`Then these secrets,' he sips his tea, `Are rather bad?'
`No, just a little unexpected. Don't worry, it's nothing to worry about.'
`Should I have figured it out by now?'
`I didn't until Cologne gave me a big clue.'
`The old bat? What was she doing?'
`Checking up on her great-grandaughter.'
`While I was checking up on you, 'bout sunset last night.'
Ranma ponders, then faults suddenly, `No.'
`Yep. Kodachi got a cut, and Shanpuu hit the dye.'
`And with instant that's quite enough of a disguise,' he smirks a little ruefully, `And they all but told me, too.'
`Yeah, Tachihiko told me Kodachi was hanging around with Shanpuu, apparently plotting something,' he drains his cup, hands it back, `You've really helped, thank you.'
`You're welcome,' Ranka drains her own cup, sets it down, and shows Ranma to the door, yawning a little after she closes the door.
`Tachihiko! Saiyuu!' Ranma calls, running up to his friends.
`Oi, Ranma!' Tachihiko calls back.
`Sorry if I scared you last night, but I was a little rocked.'
`Rocked?' Saiyuu asks.
`Shaken, sort of like when I got cursed. I'm better now, went to talk to the other me, and she let me in on a little secret, but not until after she got me calmed down about the two of you,' Ranma smiles at them.
`Oh?' Tachihiko arches.
`Come around with me, please,' Ranma waves his hand, and the other two follow.
At the "most convienient copse of trees on the grounds" Ranma backs Tachihiko up against a tree, stands between his legs, pulls the taller boy's head down, and kisses him.
Tachihiko moans, pulling Ranma up straddle his thigh.
Ranma breaks the kiss, smiles, `Ranka didn't quite tell me, but she gave me the big clues, Kodachi,' he turns his head, `Shanpuu.'
`You're not mad?' Tachihiko asks.
`I was willing before I learned, so I should be after. No, I'm not mad, a little surprised, but not mad,' he reaches an arm out, and Saiyuu comes close, getting kissed on the lips.
Ranma, Tachihiko and Saiyuu walk to class together, to be greeted by a smiling Ranka and Ukyou.
2002/Apr/7: paper draft
2002/apr/8: paper ed
2002/apr/14: started copying up to web.
2002/may/14: copied some more.
2002/Jun/9: finished copying.
2009/Jul/12: Tiny edits, mauled for posting to ff.n
* Saiyuu was romanized `Sai Yuk' originally. I stole it from a movie, and used a more phonetic romanization.
* Akane is still hanging. Oh well.