"Christmas Party"

Title: Christmas Party
Author: Me ^-^
Anime: Ranma 1/2
Pairing: Ryoga/Ranma
Notes: Shonen ai, Sap, Angst
Disclaimer: I own nothing other then the thoughts bouncing around in my head. The song "Face of Love" belongs to Jewel.
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The large room looked like someone had meticulously gone to make sure every little spot available was covered in some kind of cheerful decoration. Greens and reds standing out the most, but there were other colors mixed in here and there not allowing it to be plain and boring. Garland strung across the walls while ornaments hung glitteringly from the rope. While tensile was hanging delicately from the ceiling in small arcs offering yet more hanging ornaments to see. Over all available door ways hung a small green plant, known as mistletoe. Soft lights glittered through the room as ropy strands were placed along the meeting of the ceiling and walls.

A soft voice whistled when a slender body entered the room. "Wow Akane, this room looks great..." A female voice said as a head titled back to reveal flaming red hair under a large Santa hat. "I guess you win."

Another body joined her in the room with a low chuckle, "I like to decorate sometimes, and Christmas is the best time of the year to do it. You'll get the hang of it Ranma; if you want I can help you in the other room."

"Nah, its okay," the female replied turning clear crystal blue eyes on the other girl, "I better get back to work if I want to finish it at all."

"Well okay, holler if you need anything," the dark haired girl replied shrugging her shoulders. "Oh I invited Ryoga to the party, so try and be nice to him."

"You did what!?" Ranma-chan squeaked suddenly looking up at the other girl.

"Hey he's a friend, why shouldn't we?" She replied startled by the reaction.

'Oh man what the hell, why did they have to invite him to the party. Now I feel so foolish!' Ranma-chan thought not even realizing the blush that crossed her features. Akane's voice pulled her instantly from her thoughts. "Oh uh, it's nothing. Never mind..."

She hastily left the room heading for the one she was supposed to be decorating. They all had gotten a room and the one that looked the best won. It was a silly prize really; Ranma wasn't sure why he really even cared about the whole thing. He decided though to do it in his girl form, thinking it would be easier and probably come out better in the end.

Akane watched after the fleeting figure a smile curving her lips before she sighed softly, "Operation 'Christmas party' commenced."

Ranma-chan worked quietly most of the afternoon not even noticing how time was moving. She looked at her project realizing how hopeless this all really was when a voice startled her. A very deep and strong voice, "You know I think if you put something in that corner it would really look good."

Spinning around her crystal eyes focused on strong features and clear blue eyes. 'How did he manage to make it here, early...?' She wondered unconsciously biting her lower lip. She could see the smile in his eyes even if it wasn't on his face. "Thank you very much but I can handle it!" She replied as heartily as possible.

Ryoga raised his hands as if to ward off her attitude. "Just trying to help, that's all. Won't let anyone help you huh, Ranma?"

She turned her back on him picking up a short strand of fabric snowflakes. Going over to the wall she held it up seeing if that was something she really wanted to do. She tried to ignore the eyes she could feel watching her every move. "Did you want something?" She finally asked not turning around.

"Uh, not really. Just seeing what you were doing in comparison with Akane-san," Ryoga replied smoothly sending a chill down Ranma-chan's spine.

"Oh," she said dropping her arms bringing the snowflakes down with them. It was really pointless, she knew she was beat the moment Akane winked at her when they were assigned a room. Luckily no one really came into this one very much.

"Want some help?" Ryoga asked taking a step further into the room.

Suddenly anger flared in her, 'how dare he!' She turned back toward him her voice tight and loud, "NO! I can handle it I said!" She snapped. "I don't need your help, why don't you just leave and go hang out with someone else!"

"I don't get it... I was just offering to help," Ryoga replied shrugging his shoulders as if unfazed by her anger.

Ranma-chan snapped back around her hands clenching the fabric roughly. She could hear the soft footsteps only they didn't sound to be moving away but getting closer. 'Stop, just leave already. I feel so foolish now!' She felt Ryoga not but a few steps behind her, taking a step forward to stretch that space.

"Is there something wrong? I mean its Christmas time, I thought we could call a truce you know," Ryoga said looking at the Santa hat covered head. "By the way that hat looks really cute on you."

"What?" She sputtered turning around surprised by his compliment.

"The Santa hat looks really cute," Ryoga repeated pointing toward it slightly. "Probably would stand out a lot more against black hair though. Hey why are you in your girl form anyway? That doesn't make much sense."

Crystal blue eyes blinked a moment, "Why do you care... but if you must know. I thought it would be easier... and maybe look a little better. Good luck huh?" She whispered the last part under her breath not realizing he could hear her clearly.

"Well if I was judging it I'd have to say it looks very good, just needs to be finished that's all," Ryoga replied surprising her even more. "Sure you don't want some help?"

"Positive!" She replied quickly moving toward the other side of the room. She could hear his footsteps moving away this time, toward the door. "Uh, Ryoga is Christmas the only reason you're not trying to pound me into the ground?"

"Of course," Ryoga replied looking up at her turned back. "Well I'll go see how dinner is coming. The Christmas party is tomorrow, right?"

She heard him leave letting out a soft sigh, "I thought so." Only in girl form did Ranma allow himself to think of something he had been harboring somewhere far in the recesses of his heart. Oh it was there when he was in his correct form, but he refused to think about it. Wouldn't it make him weird? Pushing her thoughts aside she continued to work, knowing what she was capable of doing was almost complete anyway.

Finally placing the final bow she sighed softly to herself. Looking around the room it glowed in the setting sun, the colors bouncing off the covered walls. Silver ornaments hung from red tensile, along the four walls. White bows marked where the tensile was actually attached while snowflakes dangled from the ceiling, lights running along connecting each set. While green tensile held position where the meeting between the walls and ceiling were some branching down to cover halfway down the corners. Settling on the floor she closed her eyes briefly when a voice spoke behind her.

"Wow Ranma this room looks great!" Akane said stepping inside. "I came to get you for dinner; you know I think we have a real competition this year."

Ranma-chan looked up at her surprised, "You think so?"

"Yeah, now come on dinner's ready," she replied turning from the room.

Getting up Ranma-chan decided a change was in order. Going upstairs to the bath she climbed in the hot water changing almost instantly into his proper form. Dark hair appeared as he resurfaced. "Much better," his deeper voice mumbled climbing out and toweling off. Changing he decided to slip the Santa hat back on, he wasn't sure why but he just felt like wearing it, maybe it was because of what Ryoga had said.

Stepping into the dinning room he noticed the only seat left was between Akane and Ryoga. He wondered why Ryoga hadn't just sat down next to the girl he claimed to love. Sitting down he shrugged at the odd looks almost everyone at the table gave him. Picking up his bowl of rice he began to eat silently. He looked over toward Akane who smiled softly before continuing to eat, he felt like he was missing something all of a sudden. Was he the butt of some joke he had walked in on? Turning slight the other way he realized Ryoga was looking at him and not Akane with this goofy weird look on his face. What was going on here?

The dishes had been cleared and everyone left to see how the decorating went, except Akane, Ranma, and Ryoga. Akane turned to the two boys smiling sweetly. "So Ryoga what are you going to wear to the party tomorrow?"

"Well I really hadn't thought about it I guess," Ryoga replied easily not like his normal babbling self. Ranma found the situation growing even weirder by the second.

"Well you do know it's a masked party right?" Akane asked. "Oh and we also have this Christmas tradition that at the end of the party you find the person you want to spend Christmas and the rest of your life with. You then kiss them under the mistletoe to make it everlasting."

Great, Ranma thought, that means I'm going to have to keep P-chan over there away from Akane. It wasn't that he cared for Akane like that; it was just that he didn't want to see him kissing her. It would have hurt too much really. As the idea popped into his head he wanted to scold himself. He was starting to slip in his ability to keep it locked away.

"Oh I see, I'll have to remember that," Ryoga replied winking toward Ranma who blinked surprised but realizing the challenge behind it. Or at least he thought he did cause not some seconds later Ryoga graced him with an unsettlingly sweet smile.

"So Ranma are you coming as a boy or a girl?" Akane asked expecting him to explode at her.

Which he did without hesitation, "What the hell do you think?! Of course I'm going to be a boy... that's what I am damn it!"

"Alright we get it now stop yelling," she replied sternly causing him to snap his mouth shut.

She sounded like Akane and she looked like her, but something was defiantly off here. "I'm going now," He said standing up.

"Wait don't you want to see who won?" She replied reaching out for his wrist only missing it as he stepped back.

"I don't know what you're up to really, but you can just stop now. You've been acting weird all evening. What the hell is going on?" He replied his voice rising.

Akane looked up at him before smiling slightly, "What do you mean? I think Christmas is one of the best times of the year. I can't wait for this party; it'll be so much fun this year."

"Yeah, whatever," Ranma grumbled before leaving the room and heading upstairs to his own. Closing the screen he flopped down on his futon and tried to get comfortable, the events after dinner slipping from his mind.

Downstairs the two left in the room shared a soft laugh, the girl regaining her senses first. "Well I told you... you're just going to have to sweep him off his feet and shove it in his face or he won't notice it."

"Oh I think he noticed alright," the young man replied snickering. "You should have seen his face this afternoon. You kind of have to feel sorry for his cluelessness."

"Yes well, you can all you want I just want him to be happy," Akane replied looking toward where the stairs were. "Earlier today when I mentioned I had invited you, 'her' face blushed so deeply, but 'her' eyes had this forlorn, fallen look."

"I think I saw the same thing this afternoon after 'she' asked why I was there," Ryoga replied sighing. "I just can't believe how stupid I had been not to notice it before really. I guess he lets it show more when in girl form."

"Maybe," Akane replied. "Come on let's go see what they thought of the rooms."

"Sure," Ryoga replied getting up from the table and following the shorter girl out of the room.

~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+


Akane held her dress tightly to her clothed chest watching herself in the mirror. The gown was going to look great, she just knew it. A slight noise drew her attention causing her to look up. Ranma stood in her open doorway only this Ranma had flaming red hair and crystal blue eyes. "What's up? Oh did you hear you won the contest!"

"What?" Ranma-chan's gentle voice replied shocked. "Oh I fell in the lake again, haven't changed back yet."

Akane smiled slightly, "Yep, you won. Well why don't you just go like that I mean put on a nice dress and all? You'd probably look very pretty."

"No way!" Ranma-chan snapped quickly turning to leave the doorway she was occupying with her smaller female frame.

"Oh come on, why not! I mean it's not like any of us haven't seen you in a dress before," Akane replied chasing after the smaller girl who was ignoring her.

Ranma-chan turned on her eyes wide with shock, "What do you mean by that?"

"Well it's just that one time when you thought you were actually a girl and all..." she replied slowly the dress she was going to wear still in her hands. "Come on we can go shopping and get you something very nice I bet."

"Why are you doing this?" the redhead replied an eyebrow raised.

"I just thought you might want to try something different, maybe you would have a lot of fun," Akane replied smiling softly. "That way you could throw caution to the wind and just have lots of fun with the rest of us."

'Throw caution to the wind... what was she trying to imply,' Ranma-chan wondered. 'Well I could probably find out if I followed her suggestion, she is very adamant about this and isn't giving up. It must have something to do with earlier.' She slowly nodded her head in agreement causing Akane to laugh delighted by the change in her decision.

"Come on, let me get my coat," Akane smiled again. "Oh and you might want to change."

Ranma-chan looked down at the tight shirt realizing she was probably right. Going into her room she pulled on a loose long sleeve shirt that hung off one of her shoulders and some jeans that fit alright if not to big for her smaller frame. Reappearing in the hall Akane was slipping into her jacket offering one out to Ranma-chan. The redhead took it and slipped it on noticing a particular smell about it.

"Uh where did you get this jacket?" she asked as they stepped out of the dojo.

"Oh I asked Ryoga if you could borrow his, since he wasn't using it," she replied not turning back to keep Ranma from seeing her sly smile.

'What? I can't believe it!' Her mind screamed but she kept her mouth shut, without realizing her cheeks were lighting up in a soft red blush. She followed the other girl a cool breeze touching their faces. They stopped at many shops and explored the stores to find the perfect outfit. Finally, carrying several bags they began to head back home to get ready for the party that was in a little under two hours.

Entering the dojo they both shivered at the warmth that gushed toward them. Slipping out of their coats, the redhead wasn't sure just what she was going to do with hers. Not but a few moments later a voice spoke behind her. "Oh I see you guys are back, have fun?"

Turning she looked at the owner of the coat but wasn't able to say anything before Akane did. "Oh yeah, it was great. Just wait until you see her tonight... well that is if you recognize her."

She shoved the coat at him, surprising him, before turning on her heels and rushing upstairs the bags sifting with her sudden and quick movements. Downstairs the two stood watching the small figure disappear. Ryoga collected his coat from the floor noticing her scent on it. "So you think this is going to work?" He asked the dark haired girl.

"Yes, I mean I've gotten this far haven't I. Just find her by the end of the party and leave the rest to me," Akane replied. "Hope you don't mind getting a little wet either, some of the water might hit you."

"Just so long as it's not cold," he replied with a smile.

"If it was cold it wouldn't do anything," Akane replied picking up the few bags left behind and turned to go upstairs.

Two hours passed by quickly as they prepared for the party and everyone got ready. A few of their classmates had been invited from school but not many of them really showed up. Akane smiled as she saw the bucket of water sitting in a dark corner, waiting to be used. It steamed slightly, letting anyone know it was very warm water. The red dress she wore hugged tightly to her curves while her short hair had a small red bow decorating it. Her heels clicked softly on the wood floor of the large room. The mask covering half her face was finely detailed with small red roses over a white satin material.

Looking over she watched a lovely girl enter the room. Long red hair waterfalled in loose curls around an unusually delicate face. A small mask hid most of the features except the crystal blue eyes, the deep blue of the material glittered in the soft lights glowing in the room. The small frame was covered in a strapless tight heavenly blue gown that fanned out at the bottom almost touching the floor if it weren't for the heeled velvet boots.

Turning slightly she spotted Ryoga in a very nice suit his face covered with a tiger's mask. She noticed that his eyes were looking the same direction hers had just been. Trying to gain his attention she sifted her body slightly under the lights and he finally looked toward her. Giving a soft wink she knew he knew exactly which girl was Ranma-chan. "Step two and three went just fine," she whispered under her breath watching him move toward the redhead standing by the door.

He bowed slightly before her surprising the young woman who blinked in confusion. He silently offered his hand out toward her, wanting to draw her out of the darkness and into the small group of people dancing in the center of the room. A beautiful Christmas song was playing lightly in the background. Taking the hand she was led from the doorway out into the middle of the room. His arm slipped about her smaller waist, pulling her close as they began to circle lazily around the room. Her dress fanned and followed their movements with a soft sigh, as the boots clicked softly on the floor.

As the party continued Ranma-chan spent most of the evening in the charming young man's strong arms. She was surprised enough by her own actions not to really take much notice of the young man who danced with her. Stepping away from the center of the room they rested against one of the walls his arm slipping around her waist, she allowed it for this night only. They hadn't spoken a word to each other, and she was far to embarrassed to start now as the night drew on. Soon enough it would end and she would probably never see him again anyway. Not to mention she would also change back. Silly Akane and her ideas, she thought a moment before he whisked her back out into the small crowd.

The night wore on and she could tell the party was going to come to a close very soon. Looking around she tried to pick Akane out and see if she could find the one person she just knew would take advantage of this tradition. Only she couldn't seem to find either of them in the small group of people, which was weird considering how little the number of people was here. Her search was stopped as a strong hand gently turned her chin back to face the young man who had been her companion all evening. It didn't take very long for her to realize he was going to kiss her. Ranma-chan felt her mind scream that this was wrong and she needed to get out of there, a boy, she was really a boy.

He was too strong for her though, there was no way she was fighting free of his hold on her. As they drew closer her eyes slipped close. Just before their lips met warm water washed over her head and back, instantly changing her into the boy she was. The lips locked upon his own freezing him on the spot. Another boy was kissing him, kissing Ranma, male form.

Finally the kiss was released but the strong hold on him remained. Blinking his eyes open he could see the smile on the other young man's face. Something about it seemed all too familiar. He was still a bit shorter then the other even in male form which also felt familiar. "I knew kissing you would be sweet," a very deep, strong voice said, one he easily recognized.

Ryoga... it was Ryoga. How? Why? So many thoughts flooded his mind as he tried to break free of the grip the lost boy had on him. He had to get away, get out of here. Had Akane planned this to get revenge for all the stuff he'd done to her? But this was beyond that this was hateful and he never thought Akane could be that hateful. Finally succeeding in breaking Ryoga's hold he ran from the room, his feet carrying him as far as he could get before collapsing into a heap. Voices, there were voices behind him, chasing him. His heart stopped beating for several seconds, he had enjoyed being in Ryoga's arms... how could any of them known of his secret feelings. What he tried to bury so deep that kept resurfacing.

He felt a hand gently touch his bare shoulder, instantly jerking away from the comfort it tried to offer. "Ranma?" Akane's soft voice filled his ears, she almost sounded worried not happy.

"Why?" He asked quietly trying to keep his emotions under control. "Why did you do that to me?"

"I thought that was what you wanted..." She replied sitting down beside him. "Every time we mention Ryoga you get this little blush but your eyes are so sad. I hated seeing that look on your face, so I wanted to change that. I told Ryoga and he admitted his own feelings toward you. I know it was a devious way to do it but I didn't know how else to... you're a hard man to convince of anything."

"You're wrong," he whimpered. Inside his body ached to finally admit the truth, he wouldn't allow it though.

"Am I?" She replied trying to look into his downcast face. "Even he noticed it after I told him about it... how can we both be wrong?"

"No," his voice was so low she had to lean forward even more to hear his words. "It's not true... it's not... it's not... it's..."

"True," she whispered for him seeing the crystal tears rolling down under the beautiful blue mask. "I'm going to go and get him now."

She left him sitting there on the floor heading back the way she had come to retrieve the one thing that was driving his life into a downward spiral. It seemed like only seconds passed between that and when two strong arms encircled his chest. His body jerked up at the contact drawing him closer to the solid warm body behind him.

"You looked very beautiful tonight," Ryoga's warm voice wafted past his ear. One of his arms released their hold to use his fingers to wipe the stray tears off of Ranma's cheek. "I didn't mean to deceive you but Akane-san had said this was the best way to get your attention."

"I thought you hated me... wanted revenge for everything that had happened to you," Ranma replied shakily. "No this is just a hateful trick!"

Ryoga's arms tightened around the young man pulling him as close as possible, "I only did it so that I could be close to you all the time. I want to be near you always and forever, always protecting you no matter what. I wasn't sure how you felt about that so I faked it by claiming to want Akane-san. I'm sorry if I hurt you that was never my intention."

"What other intention could you have? You kissed me in front of everyone!" Ranma shouted trying to fight free again.

"No one knew but Akane-san, I made sure we were in the darkest part of the room, or did you not notice?" Ryoga replied refusing to let go of him. "I only wanted you to know how I felt."

Ranma's head sagged as his heart raced, he was starting to run out of excuses to rebuff the young man who seemed to be hang on to him for dear life. Sighing softly he stopped struggling, "Please... leave me alone. I just want to be alone right now."

"No, I don't know what you'd do if I left you alone and I won't let you hurt yourself," Ryoga replied stubbornly.

"I won't... I promise," Ranma rebuked softly. "I just need time to think that's all."

"I'm supposed to believe that pathetic voice..." Ryoga responded. "Ranma I won't let you make yourself miserable by trying to deny what there is between us. I can see it in the way you look at me, I'm not blind and you shouldn't pretend to be either. It's only going to tare you apart inside."

"Stop it!" Ranma yelled finally pulling himself free. Jerking to his feet he stumbled down the hall, unshed tears glistening in his eyes. 'Stop it, you can't be right! Stop being right!'

Ryoga hurried after him refusing to allow the smaller man out of his sight. He feared just what Ranma might do if he were alone. Akane had come and told him that he had been upset by the whole event; he knew that it was mutual even if Ranma refused to admit it. He could see it in the way he unconsciously moved closer, his cheeks lighting up probably without him even realizing they were. Several steps ahead of him he saw the young man had collapsed again and was violently shaking with uncontrolled sobs.

Ranma felt like his body was being pulled apart, his heart shattering in his clenched hands. His brain reeled at the idea that Ryoga could possibly return his feelings. No it was just a cruel trick played out by them both. They wanted to destroy him for everything he had ever done to them, they hated him. Right? That was what it was, they wanted him to suffer and die. As he struggled to pull himself up again he felt two strong arms enfold around him again. They were warm, almost protective and possessive in their grip. He couldn't fight it anymore his whole body ached and his mind spun as his world went black.

Ranma went limp in Ryoga's arms; he could hear the young man breathing softly as if just sleeping. 'Tonight had been too overwhelming on his system,' Ryoga thought as he gently scooped the young man's legs up. The usually pigtailed boy curled up closer to his solid chest as if an effort to find warmth and comfort. He turned to go upstairs when he caught sight of dark hair, looking over Akane-san was smiling softly at him. He nodded towards her before heading up to Ranma's room.

Soft Christmas music gently wafted through the floor of the room where Ryoga sat beside the still unconscious Ranma. He hadn't realized how long Ranma's hair was until now; it was down and lying against the pillow delicately. The black contrasted against the white material standing it out even more. There had been small jewels in his hair; most of them were still there glowing in the soft moonlight filtering into the room. Brushing his fingers gently through the silky strands he reveled in them. Pulling his mask off he gently slid Ranma's free as well, what was the use hiding behind one of these now. Ranma knew how he really felt, he had told him of those feelings he carried inside. 'He's absolutely beautiful,' Ryoga thought his hands leaving the soft hair to ghost across a smooth cheek.

Blue eyes opened as soft lips parted slightly. The hazy vision cleared before him, to reveal the person he had been trying to run away from. It seemed he hadn't succeeded at all. Jerking away from the gentle caress on his cheek he slowly sat up. The tears were waiting just behind his eyes as he focused on Ryoga's warm face. "Why? Why are you doing this me?"

Ryoga reached out toward him but the smaller man jerked away even more. "Ranma don't you understand... I love you with all my heart."

"No!" Ranma shouted his whole body shaking. "It's not true! This is some trick you and Akane cooked up to get back at me."

"Akane only wants to make you happy, as I do," Ryoga replied denying the accusation.

Ranma bolted to his feet the dress and shoes hindering his movements and slowing him down. He rushed from the room and down the stairs hearing Ryoga's heavy footsteps right behind him. Rushing though the open screen door he came upon the yard where they had fought so often before. His mind reeled from the memories of their fights. His feet stumbled on the cold slick steps but he was able to keep his balance. A light snow was falling from the gray sky above him.

He could hear Ryoga's voice behind him, causing him to turn back to see how close the lost boy was. Only the distraction threw him off course, when his shoes slipped on the slick rocks around the pond sending him into the freezing water. His body changed instantly under the cold water. Red hair emerged from the water to find a hand offered out to the woman he had become.

Ryoga noticed that Ranma was not taking his offered hand but instead remained in the freezing water. He had to be careful or he was going to be a little black pig. He knew she couldn't stay in there long or she would become sick, reaching out a bit further he grabbed the small shoulder and pulled her over to the rocks. She flailed her arms in surprise but Ryoga was able to get a hand on her arm and pull her from the water. Taking off his dress coat he wrapped it around her small shivering frame. "I told you to be careful... didn't you hear me?"

"Don't... Don't... touch me...." her voice stammered with her chattering teeth. Turning away from him she took off away from the pond toward the gate to the streets beyond. Her feet became tangled in her dress as she ran causing her to fall to the ground in a heap. The snow seemed to be falling harder now from the looming dark sky.

She was lifted from the cold cement by a pair of strong arms. Pushing against Ryoga gained her nothing other then exhaustion. Ranma-chan was starting to feel the effects of the cold water as her whole body shook. Ryoga carried her back inside the warm dojo heading upstairs to the bath where he could get her warmed up more quickly. Running the hot water he settled her in the tub, knowing it was only soaking the gown even more.

Ranma's blue eyes watched from behind wet black hair as Ryoga moved to leave the room. He wondered where the lost boy was going and if he would make his way back. It was then that he realized, in everything that had happened since Ryoga had shown up, he hadn't gotten lost yet. The other martial artist reappeared a moment later in his hands a towel and clean dry clothes.

"Thought you would want a change of clothes," Ryoga said to the look Ranma was giving him. "If you take the dress and shoes off I'll hang them up to dry out."

Ranma looked down at his soaked dress and the shoes under the pool of water. Slipping the boots free from his feet he laid them beside the tub where Ryoga picked them up. Reaching back he unzipped the dress and pulled it down his arms, freeing his upper body from the tight material. He wasn't sure how he was going to get the rest off though.

Ryoga seemed to read his mind as he turned his back from the other boy allowing Ranma the privacy to slip free of the dress and sink back into the water. The soggy material sloshed to the floor letting the Ryoga know he was free from it. Collecting the dress from the floor he went to hang it up and place the boots in a spot where they would dry out. Returning to the bath he noticed Ranma had dried off and put on the clothes he had brought for him.

Ranma watched him, standing still in the small room, before Ryoga took his hand and pulled him out into the hall. He was led to his room before Ryoga finally let go. Could he have been honest? Ranma's mind began to wonder if Ryoga was actually being honest in telling him he loved him. His heart dared to hope, pushing his brain even further away from his emotions.

"Ryoga... were you being serious?" Ranma asked slowly getting the other's attention.

"Very," Ryoga answered looking into the deep blue eyes he had fallen in love with. "I would never do anything to hurt you or play with your emotions."

Ranma collapsed to the floor the words he needed to hear ringing in his head. His one desire wanted him back. Ryoga was at his side instantly his hand coming to rest on Ranma's shoulder. He heard Ryoga talking but couldn't make out the words. "Yes... Yes I love you," he finally admitted stopping whatever Ryoga had been saying.

Ryoga stared at him, his blue eyes going wide for only a moment before he wrapped his arms around Ranma's slender frame. Pulling the other close he felt him relax in his embrace. Ranma's head rested comfortably against Ryoga's strong chest as his fingers curled around Ryoga's dress shirt. Allowing his eyes to slip close he felt safe and warm in that protective embrace. This was all he needed, all he ever wanted. He was glad he had finally found it, he felt complete now.

Until tonight
My heart was just half full
I'd never know the fruit, which feed the soul
Now I see what may put to rest my longing

For I have seen
The face of love
The grace of God
The face of love

In silence I feared my heart
Would remain words unheard
Inside a separateness of skin
But now I know that the skin just veils the soul

For I have seen
The face of love
The grace of God
The face of love

So take my hand and knowing
With it I also give my heart
Wanting never to be separate again
Let eternity begin

If I were a flame
I'd allow myself to be consumed completely
Were you the wind I would wish you to pass through me
But now I know that the skin just veils the soul

For I have seen
The face of love
The grace of God
The face of love

~Owari~