Ranko , Part 15:
"What a cute piglet"


<HSSSSSSSS>

The pouring rain is drenching all of Nerima, Tokyo. The deep-hanging clouds are so black that it is impossible to get any impression of the sky and only the burning streetlamps indicate that it is nighttime.

A dark figure with a bamboo umbrella is walking down the street, his feet splish-sploshing on the sidewalk that is one single puddle. It is Ryouga. He is nearing the end of his search; A sign shows him that he has found the place.

Ryouga: [thinks] Ah, It is the Tendou Dojo. This is where it ends; Today we will settle it once and for all.

~*~

In the guest room, Ranko is sleeping deep and sound on her futon, next to her father's. The digital clock is showing 02:06 in the morning.

Without making a sound the shadowy figure of Ryouga slips in. He walks up to the bed determinedly, then hesitates. He looks down at Ranko and a look of insecurity creeps into his eyes. He steps back and retreats to the other side of the room. There he sits down, resting against the wall, and contemplates.

Ryouga: [thinks] Ranko... Despite everything, you are a girl. I cannot fight you like this. What am I to do? Because of you, my life was ruined.

<BZAAAAAWWW>

Ranko snores loudly and stirs on her futon.

Ranko: Ummmmh... <Smack, Smack>

She sits up slowly and is looking right at Ryouga. Ryouga's heart is beating loudly. She seems to ponder the figure leaning against the wall, then takes a deep breath and speaks up.

Ranko: Buzfgleblllnmm... <SnuoOORK, WHOOMPH!>

She falls over sideways, still fast asleep. Ryouga lets out his breath that he was holding without even noticing.

Ranko is tossing and turning under her covers. She struggles out from under them, and when she turns flat on her back, Ryouga can see clearly that her top has slipped upwards, revealing her breasts. The boy blushes deeply, but mercifully Ranko flops right over on her stomach again and creeps back down under the covers. For the next few minutes he hears only her grunts and the rustling of the bedclothes.

When Ranko emerges the next time she is lying face down with her legs pulled up under her chest. Slowly she pushes her legs back, thereby raising her rear up on her knees. The covers slide down from her back. Unfortunately, in traveling down, they take with them Ranko's boxer shorts, and despite the thick layer of clouds Ryouga sees the moon rise.

He jerks his head to the side, his eyes screwed shut, but it is already to late. There is a trickle of blood running out of his left nostril. Frantically he tries to open his backpack with closed eyes, to reach a tissue, but he only succeeds in letting his heavy umbrella fall to the floor.

<KA-THUNK!>

In a blur of motion, Ranko jumps high into the air, flips over and lands on her feet in a ready position. There is no question that she is awake this time. She stares at Ryouga who has opened his eyes again, but is still not looking directly at her. Re-arranging her clothes to cover herself, Ranko begins to seethe with rage.

Ranko: So. Spying on a sleeping girl in her own bedroom.

Ryouga: No. I can explain. It wasn't my intention. I didn't come just to watch you...

Ranko: [screams] So you had more in mind than just peeping, you hentai?!!

~*~

<WHACK>

Two figures are flying from the guest room, out into the rain. In the door stands the Panda, who has knocked them flying with a big sign, reading "Quiet!"

Where should Ranko's trajectory take her, if not right into the garden pool? Ryouga, who has whipped out his umbrella with lightning speed, clears the pool and lands securely on the other side. From there he watches Ranma emerge from the waters.

Ranma: [coughs and hacks] Ryouga! What're you doing? I always thought you were fairly honourable.

Ryouga: And I always held you to be a dishonourable jerk, who'd jump to conclusions without letting others explain. I came here for revenge!

Ranma: [crosses his arms] Still? Listen up, lost boy: You've got no reason for revenge! You missed our fight, and I've already apologized for all the bread stuff. What more do you want before you finally leave me in peace?

Ryouga: [coldly] You do not even grasp the depth of your guilt. Let me tell you one thing: I followed you on your cowardly flight... all the way to China.

The expressions of comprehension and then shock dawn on Ranma's face.

Ranma: Don't tell me you went to Jusenkyou... And that you fell...

Ryouga: Shut up! Now you will pay!

He jumps at Ranma with a flying kick. Ranma, still shocked, evades on auto-pilot.

~*~

Akane sits up in her bed and rubs her eyes.

Akane: Where does all that noise come from?

The door opens and Kasumi looks in. She, too, is in her nightshirt with a light jacket thrown over her shoulders against the cold.

Kasumi: Are you awake, Akane?

Akane: Yes, Kasumi. You heard it, too?

They descend the stairs together. Akane is carrying a shinai [That's a bamboo sword. More of a cane, really].

Kasumi: Do you think someone is breaking in?

Akane: If they are, that's not the only thing that'll break.

A flash of lightning illuminates the sky, and for a split second the sisters see a jumping figure with a backpack outlined black against white.

Kasumi: Oh dear, it is a burglar. Look at the backpack.

Akane: [hefts the shinai] We'll see about that.

Kasumi holds her back by the shoulder.

Kasumi: Akane. It's too dangerous that way. Here.

She places a heavy, metal dumbbell into Akane's hand.

~*~

Ranma deflects a kick from Ryouga with his arm in mid-air and presses on with a kick of his own. Before he can connect, though, a projectile zooms in and bonks off the back of Ryouga's head with pinpoint precision.

<KLONG-G-G>

First the Dumbbell falls, then Ryouga's umbrella, having escaped his feelingless fingers, then Ryouga himself plummets to the ground. The pouring rain begins to drench him, and he wraps his arms around his face, as if to avert the inevitable. In a mighty jump he clears the garden wall and shoots down the street.

Ranma: Ryouga!

~*~

Akane is standing in the door with Kasumi.

Akane: Ryouga?

Kasumi: [relieved] Oh, good. It was just Ranma's friend.

~*~

<PLISH PLISH PLISH>

Ranma is running down the street Ryouga took, trying to find him. But he only finds The backpack and his clothes. Ryouga is gone.

Ranma: [thinks] His pack and clothes... So I probably guessed right.

He looks left and right, but there is no trace of the other boy. The rain continues to pour.

~*~

Akane is yawning, as she closes her door again, behind her.

Akane: It's almost three in the morning, now. They were lucky, I didn't want to get wet, too, or I'd have told them something!

An imperceptible movement or sound, picked up by her subconscious, alerts her. She senses a presence.

Akane: [thinks] There's somebody here.

She stands up in the middle of the room and demands

Akane: Come out! Show yourself.

A black lightning bolt shoots at her from the corner of the room. Automatically, without thinking she bats it away, before it reaches her. When she sees it clearly her eyes go wide.

Her stare is met by a pair of eyes, set in a face that is as black as the night outside.

Akane: [thinks] A piglet? [out loud] Well, who're you, then? Come here, piggy.

Akane tries to entice the little black animal into her arms. At first the pig is reluctant and evades Akane's attempts of touching it, but soon it seems to determine that Akane is no threat and lets itself be touched. Akane picks it up and cuddles it a little.

Akane: What a cute piglet! Oh, you're completely wet. Were you out in the rain? And where did you get that bandanna - are you someone's pet? Oops, what's this? You've got a pretty big bump on the back of your head. Poor piggy.

~*~

In the living room, the light is still on. Ranko is sitting there, drying herself off with a towel. The kettle that helped her transform back is standing beside her.

Ranko: [thinks] Man, I can't believe that Ryouga! No wonder he was so crazy and screwed up. I wonder what kind of thing he turns into when he gets wet. It must be pretty bad, to make him so angry - a dog perhaps or even [shudders] a cat.

Akane comes in with the piglet.

Akane: Oh, Ranko. You're still up?

Ranko: So're you.

Akane: Yes, but look: I found a little piggy in my room. I think it came in from the rain. Isn't it cute.

She presses the piglet to her bosom in an embrace. The animal sighs and blushes slightly.

Ranko: Oh, is it blushing?

Akane: A pig blushing? You silly!

Ranko: It must be a male, then. That's one of the signs, you know? You press someone to your bosom and if he blushes, he's male.

Akane giggles. She holds up the pig and inspects its genitalia.

Akane: It is male, no doubt.

Ranko: See, I told ya. [grins] Can I hold him, too?

Akane: Sure. But be careful - he's got a big bump on his head. Don't hurt him.

With Akane's last words Ranko narrows her eyes. She takes over the pig from Akane and doesn't seem too surprised when it struggles and tries to bite her.

Akane: Oh, he doesn't like that.

Ranko stares at the pig. You can practically see the thoughts forming in her head.

Ranko: [slowly] I can't imagine why. Sa-a-ay Akane... It must be pretty cold, after being out in the rain. I thought of taking a bath before going to bed again - perhaps I should give the little piggy one, too?

Akane: Oh, Ranko, would you? That's nice of you.

Ranko: Don't mention it. G'night, Akane, happy dreams.

Akane: [yawns] Thanks, Ranko. Have a nice bath.

She slinks back up the stairs to her room, while Ranko takes off to the bathroom.

~*~

The hot water steams in the tub. Ranko has prepared everything for her bath, but she makes no motion to take it. Instead she brings forward the piglet that she is holding by the bandanna around its neck. At the sight of the hot tub, the animal squeals loudly and redoubles its struggles. To no avail. With a fancy throwing maneuver Ranko <Bop>s the squealing pig into the water, then leans against the wall, watching.

The water seems to boil for a moment, then swell upwards. When the water parts, a naked, human figure kneels in the tub. It is Ryouga.

Ranko is still leaning against the wall with crossed arms, watching impassively.

Ranko: Hiya, pig boy.

-- End of part 15.


Part 16: "You won't betray her trust"


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