Beauty And the Pig: A Fractured Fairy Tale
"This is so…so…wow! Ryoga! However did you grow these roses?" Ranma asked in awe, trailing away from Ryoga's side to better look at the garden.
"Its my gardener," The cursed boy answered with a shrug, still oddly pleased with Ranma's delight. The other boy looked rather nice framed by the luminescent flowers. Abruptly, Ranma bent over and pulled something from the rose bed.
"Does he have anything to do with this straw doll full of pins?"
Ryoga sweatdropped, seeing what Ranma held. "You know what? I don't ask and he doesn't tell."
"Ah." He calmly tossed it back into the garden and wiped his hand on his skirt. A cluster of tie-dye roses caught his attention and he ran over to check them out. "So, just how did you end up as a giant pig?" Ranma called over his shoulder.
With a sigh, Ryoga settled on a stone bench where he could see Ranma and played with his bandanna. "It's really complicated. And somewhat embarrassing."
"Oh? Whatcha do, fall in cursed spring or something?"
"No…I just…said 'no' to the wrong person." he lightly clicked his hoof against the bench, deciding to ignore the kissy noises Ranma was making at the koi in the fishpond. "I went walking one day and I well, got lost. So I asked this really old woman for directions, but she just kept pointing at trees! I got frustrated and ran away. I kept running until I came to this large house. A sorceress lived there and when I asked for help, she told me that in order to earn her help, I must become her slave for two years."
"Freaky." Ranma said, glancing up at the pig-boy.
"That wasn't the end of it." Ryoga lamented, "She said that during those two years, I would have to live in a strange alter-dimension where I was in love with a girl who didn't feel the same for me, there was this one guy who was always beating me up but I could never win against him, and all this terrible strange stuff would keep on happening to me!"
"What a loon!" Ranma announced, sharing an appalled look with Ryoga.
Hope: *nervously* Don't you think its a bad idea to insult the Her like that?
Sadie: Only if She finds out. But seriously, have you read some of the stuff on the net? I do believe I am _way_ down on Her hit list.
Hope: If you say so. *continues to looks around fearfully.*
"Tell me about it. Either way, I said no and she turned me into a giant pig and made everyone in my castle invisible until...." He broke off. Best to tell not Ranma how the curse was broken.
"Until what?" The pig-tailed boy pushed, moving aside bush leaves in order to investigate some odder-looking blossoms. He's mouth dropped open when he found they were covered in porno pictures.
"Until…until she says so." Ryoga finished uneasily. It felt very odd to talk to another person for so long. The servants and their families in the castle normally kept to themselves and didn't talk to him unless to confirm orders or tell him when food was ready. He's own family had left when he was child, so he was pretty much used to quiet and entertaining himself.
"Ah, okay." Ranma carefully stepped free of the bushes he'd been digging through, ever mindful of thorns. He'd collected a nice little bundle of roses. "Is it all right if I keep these?"
[Asking after he's already picked them….] Ryoga stared in dismay at the plucked blossoms that were rapidly losing their color. With a sigh of defeat, he nodded. "Sure. I'll have one the servants get a vase for your room."
"See, that's another thing," Ranma said, rubbing the back of his neck. "I'm really not gonna to be staying here long enough to need a room. I'll probably stay tonight, seeing how late it is, but I'm gone tomorrow."
"What?!" Ryoga flared, jumping to his feet. Ranma blinked.
"Look, I'm sorry. I don't know what my touchan told you…oh, jeez, " He sighed as Ryoga started to glow red and quiver. "Don't get all upset about it. If you really means that much to you, I'll stay an extra night. Being as I'm a such a nice person and everything."
Ryoga took a few deep breaths, hind hooves digging into the dirt. "Just what did your father tell you about coming here?." He said slowly, forcing the words out around his anger.
"Just that you wanted to meet me. Its been real nice and all that, but my sisters really do need my at home." [Yeah, right.]
"That…that…" Ryoga trailed off into a line of insults. At least Ranma thought they were insults, he didn't recognize half of what the pig-boy was saying. He made mental notes for later. Finally getting himself back under control, Ryoga fixed Ranma with a sharp look. "Your father came into my home to steal from me. In exchange for his freedom, he promised one of his daughters to me."
There was a long moment of silence in which Ranma stared blankly at Ryoga. Slowly but surely, the pieces fell together in his mind.
A loud, horrible roar filled the garden.
Sadie: *deep, eerie voice* Kushinada......
Hope: *blink, blink*
Several hours later, Ranma stood dirty, worn, and tattered in the front courtyard. There appeared to be nothing more then a scant hundred yards of empty space between him and the gate---and beyond that, only a few miles before he could beat his father into red play-do---but he knew it was so much more than that. For before him was an army of invisible warriors wielding all manner of weapons: from spatulas, chains and whips, to wooden swords, ribbons, and even some exploding pastries.
Ranma was an expert Martial Artist and so had no trouble fighting an unseen enemy. However, a few hundred unseen enemies was a bit much, even for him. Add to that the fact they were all better-than-decent Martial Artists and it was no wonder he was feeling rather overwhelmed.
But he was Saotome Ranma, and nothing, not a giant pig, not an army of invisible soldiers, was going to keep him from his goal!
"Ranma! Master want me to tell you, breakfast is ready!"
…well, the fighting could wait until after food. Its not like anyone was going anywhere. Then maybe he could take a shower, since he was getting rather dirty, and perhaps a nap since he had been fighting all night…
Sadie: *in dignified, documentary voice* To make a long story short.....
Crew: Too late!
Sadie: *ignoring them*...I'm going give an overview of the following chapters. No one really wants to know all the details, right?
Hope: *waving arms around* Oh, me! Me! I want the details! I like details!
Sadie: Like potty breaks, teeth brushing, the hours spent asleep....
Hope: Never mind. *muttering* Kill joy.
Things fell into a pattern over the next two months. Ranma would fight the palace servants for hours at a time, only to be distracted by food, sleep, or new clothing. He would rest a few hours, or maybe even a day or two, then go back to fighting for his freedom.
During that rest time, he and Ryoga got to know each other better. It was found that in addition to Martial Arts, they also shared the same interest in food and interior design (don't ask). Ryoga was also a romantic at heart and every now and again built up the courage to ask Ranma to watch the sunset with him or do other romantic couple-type activities. Ranma was surprised to find that before he was cursed, Ryoga had spent most of his childhood on the road, mainly looking for his family, and the cross-dressed boy enjoyed the stories Ryoga had to tell him of those adventures.
The time between fights became longer and longer, and the fights themselves became fewer and fewer (much to the unmeasurable relief of the palace servants) and the two boys became ever closer. Whether Ryoga knew it or was in a state of denial---the most likely, seeing as this is Ryoga---but he had fallen deeply in love with Ranma. This served to cause him only greater anxiety, since Ranma had not admitted his love and may not feel that way about him.
Ranma could not leave unless Ryoga said so, Ryoga was unable to tell his feelings and Ranma didn't state his. So, they were caught at a stalemate. Until one day…
"So, should I use the flowers or the stripes?"
"Stripes. They go better with the wallpaper."
"You're right." Ryoga cast a grin over his shoulder and selected the blue-and-white stripe curtains. Ranma forced a weak grin, playing with the hem of his shirt. For once, the boy was dressed in a loose pair of black pants and matching long shirt. His father would have been proud, but again, his father was the main reason Ranma had pushed wearing girl clothes.
Ryoga paused in his re-decorating to glance worriedly at the other boy. Ranma had been very quiet the past few days and the pig-boy was beginning to miss the sound of his companion's chatter. With a sigh, he hooked the curtains in place and shuffled over to crouch next to Ranma.
"Okay, what is it?"
"Wha…?" Ranma blinked, looking up from his deep, life-affirming contemplation of a spot on the carpet.
"You've been moping the past few days. What's wrong?" Ryoga's deep brown eyes were softened with concern. Ranma looked uneasily away from them.
"I…" he paused, then took a deep breath, "Iknowyoudon'twantmetogobutIreallyreallyneedtoseemyfamilyandtakecareofsomethingsandIpromiseI'llbebackinafewdayssomayIleaveplease?"
Ranma finished with a gasp, then promptly passed out from lack of oxygen.
Hope: *snicker* He must have failed Duo's Talking For Long Periods of Time Without Breathing So Other People Can't Interrupt Class.
Sadie: But he wasn't breathing, that's why he passed out.
Hope: Part of the class is how not to pass out.
Ranma awoke to water being splashed on his face. Yelping, he jerked upright, blinking through damp bangs.
"You passed out." Ryoga said, holding an empty vase in one hand and sounding apologetic.
"I remember." He pulled a limp flower from his hair. [He could have at least removed the plant life.] Suddenly, he giggled. "Oh, Ryoga."
"Nani?" The cursed boy wondered, somewhat miffed.
Ranma looked up at him, Prussian blue eyes sparkling. "You're my friend, aren't you?"
Ryoga's heart tightened painfully. "Of course I am."
"Well, would it be all right if I left for a few days to see my family?" He asked imploringly. Ryoga started to bristle.
"Not forever!! Please, Ryoga...." he smiled with all the sweetness and innocence he could muster, "You're my friend. I'll be back soon, I promise."
"Why do you need too? You everything you could ever want right here!!" Ryoga snapped back, pacing back and forth with annoyance. "Clothes, food, entertainment, companionship, lo...." he stopped himself heartbeats before saying 'love'.
"I know. That's why I like it here," Ranma said demurely, "But that doesn't change the fact that I still have unfinished business back home. I'll never be…truly at peace until I tend to it."
When Ryoga continued to hesitate, Ranma pulled out the big guns.
The Big Guns being wide, wobbly eyes, a pout and the killer words; "Don't you like me anymore?"
Ryoga watched from the southeast tower as Ranma, once again in his familiar skirts, left the estate. There was a terrible sinking feeling in his stomach, which could have been due to Kodachi messing with the food again, but somehow.....
...he feared it was much worse than that.
Seated out in the front yard with the sewing, Kasumi looked up to see her youngest 'sister' heading down the road to the gate. "Oh, Ranma, I've been wanting to talk to you."
Ranma paused in his leap over the fence, perched balanced on the pointed top. "Ara? You have?"
"Yes," a concerned look covered Kasumi's face, "Ranma, I'm really worried about you. You haven't been eating at all and you're bed's not been slept in. You don't talk ever and I don't see you around the house…please, please tell what is wrong!"
".……" Ranma fell off the fence, landing in the garden with an *umph*. He shoved himself up to his feet. "Kasumi! I've been gone for nearly three months!"
"Gone?" Kasumi's doe like eyes blinked, uncertain.
"Yes, Kasumi," he spoke slowly, like talking to a particularly dim child, "Gone. Far, far away. Not anywhere near the house. Physically not present."
"Oh...." She blinked a few more times. "Well then, welcome home." Content with the resettling of her world, Kasumi returned to her sewing. Ranma shook his head.
[And I lived with this woman? Jeez, I never even noticed what an idiot she is....] He sighed and brushed dirt and dried plants off his skirt. There was a commotion at the door.
"Oi! Kasumi! Are you going to fix dinner soon?" Genma demanded, swinging his large bulk through the doorway. He froze in absolute shock at the sight of the boy standing in the front yard. "R...r...ranma..ma..ma...."
"Hey, touchan, long time no see...." Ranma drawled, rolling up the sleeves of his top.
Sometime later, after dinner had been made and Genma had been peeled off the porch, the three sister's sat down to properly greet their youngest back with al the necessary love and affection.
"So where the hell have you been?" Nabiki demanded without preamble.
"Oh right, like touchan didn't tell you." Ranma snapped back around his ramen. "I'll even bet you egged him on."
"Maybe, but we didn't think you were going to be gone for so long!" Akane insisted, some guilt shinning through her words, "We were really worried you'd gotten hurt or killed or....or....!"
"All your underwear was dirty." Kasumi finished mournfully. There was a collective eyebrow twitch, then the airhead was firmly ignored.
"Well, I wasn't hurt or anything. I just really, really," a dreamy smile crossed his lips, "Really, really...."
"We get the point!"
"…liked it at Ryoga's castle."
"But wasn't he a giant pig?" Nabiki inquired, eyebrow raised.
Ranma shifted. "Yeah, but it's just a curse. He's a nice guy either way."
"A curse? Ranma, those things can be really dangerous. I mean," Akane leaned forward, "What if the only way for him to break the curse is with a virgin sacrifice?"
"Uhh...." Ranma turned red, "But! But if that was the case, why didn't he do it when I first showed up, huh?"
Kasumi rolled her eyes, "Really, Ranma, don't you know anything? To be affective, virgin sacrifices can only be performed on the night of the full moon when the constellation Taurus is in the house of Pluto, which won't be for another week. And of course you have to gather the proper herbs and hand make a white shift out of non-animal materials." Oblivious to the stares of her family, Kasumi returned to the white cotton dress she was sewing.
Hope: The audience waited.
"Ryoga isn't going to kill me." Ranma said finally, with more conviction then he felt.
"He doesn't have to *kill* you. There are other ways to sacrifice a virgin." Nabiki said, almost leering.
[Now *that* I wouldn't mind....]
"He could also torture you for black magic....."
"Or feed you to demons....."
"Or force you to watch Barney videos...."
"Enough!" Ranma yelped, still shaking after the last one.
"Ranma," Akane said softly, reaching over to grab her sister's hand. "I know it may not seem like it, but we do care about you. Please, please just stay with us. For....for a week at least, until the full moon is over. Okay?"
Ranma hesitated, remembering his promise. "I....only for a week?"
"Sure." Akane smiled.
"All right then. For a week."
"Besides, these inter-species relationships never work."
So a week passed and Ranma's sisters found more reasons for him to stay. Another week went by, and another.....and it began to seem the time with Ryoga was only a dream.....then another week....
.....And one day, Ranma, with no warning at all, was dive-bombed by one of those fly-by moments of insight that attack us all. "I love Ryoga."
"What was that?"
Ranma blinked, shocked by the thought and the words. He turned to look at where Kasumi was washing clothes. "I love Ryoga." he repeated, a broad, warm feeling spreading through him and expanding his chest.
[I love him, I really do. The way he talks, that adorable look he gets on his face when he's confused, the way he starts tearing thing apart when he's really happy…all of it. I love him.] Suddenly, the strange nagging feeling his had the past few days came to the front.
"Oh my God!! Ryoga!! The promise!!" He lunged to his feet, "How could I have been so *stupid*?!?!"
"Imouto-chan?" Kasumi said, baffled by Ranma's outburst. Ranma scowled at her.
"Stop calling me that, I'm not your damned sister." With that, he jumped over the fence and vanished off down the road at full tilt.
Kasumi smiled brightly. "Goodbye, Ramna-kun."
Hope: So the baka finally figured it out. *she reaches into the couch cushions and pulls out a flag* Go Ranma, go!!
(Sadie reaches into the couch to pull out her own flag, but ends up with a pair of blue boxers instead.)
Sadie: *reading the tag* 'Property of Chang Wufei'?
Ranma dismounted the horse he's stolen just outside the gate to Ryoga's castle. Some of the servants must have been watching for him because the gate swung open, missing him by centimeters, soon as his feet touched the ground.
"Where is Ryoga?" he called, rushing into the courtyard. He was instantly stopped by the application of a large flat object to the top of his head. "Ite!!"
"*That's* for running of for so long," came the distinctive voice of Ukyo. "And *this*," ::WHAP:: "Is for breaking Master Ryoga's heart and *this*" ::WHAP:: ::WHAP:: "Is because I feel like it. Now, Ryoga is in his room, moping."
"Th..tha..than'k 'ooo." Ranma clutched his aching head and staggered into the manor. By the time he reached the stairs, the ringing in his ears had stopped. Which was good since he was forced to dodge the various weapons thrown at him by irate servants. [Ryoga's more popular then he thought.]
Finally, he made it to Ryoga's room, shoving open the door to find the pig-boy curled on his side. Ryoga lay unmoving.
"Oh no! Ryoga, don't be dead!" Ranma wailed, pouncing the bed and clinging frantically to the immobile form. "I'm so sorry I broke my promise! I'm so sorry I didn't come back when I said I would!"
"Get off me."
Ranma blinked and pulled back. Ryoga turned over slightly and glared at him. Relief flooded Ranma. "You're okay."
"Of course I am, I was asleep."
Ryoga continued to glare. "What do you want? Come back from laughing at me with your sisters to further torture the poor, helpless cursed boy?" he tone was scathing and Ranma winced away from it.
"No! I would never laugh at you! I'm sorry I didn't come back sooner," He looked down at his clenched hands. "I should have known better then to listen to my sisters."
Ryoga wasn't buying it. "Why did you came back, Ranma?"
The pig-tailed martial artist took a deep, steadying breath. "Because.....because...."
"Because.....I love you." the last nearly whispered. Ranma closed his eyes, waiting for answer. There was none. [God, he must really hate me.] Moisture began to gather in his eyes. Light shinned through his eyelids, but he didn't notice.... when a soft, warm hand cupped his cheek.
Ranma gasped, eyes flying open in shock. Sprawled next to him on the bed was a beautiful young man, with brown hair held back by a yellow bandanna, and Ryoga's chocolate brown eyes. It was his hand against Ranma's cheek. "Ryoga....?" The bewildered boy breathed.
"Yes," The other smiled, like the sun coming over the hills. "Its me. Ranma....." the name was like a caress and Ranma shivered. "You broke the curse."
"Hai." The smile grew brighter, if such was really possible, "I love you." Ranma's breath caught in his throat as he was pulled down for the first of many, searing, loving kisses......and the beginning of Happily Ever After.
(Sadie breaks off reading and turns the page, looking confused. She turns the page back and forth.)
Hope: That's it? Where's the rest of the fic?
Sadie: There isn't anymore. Just a page that says "Passworded for protection of the innocent."
Hope: *enraged* WHAT INNOCENTS?!?!?
Crew Member: They're coming! They're coming!!
Hope: No they're not! We haven't gotten that far yet!
(The yelling crew member runs across the set and is quickly followed by a horde of shouting, howling, leather clad, sword swinging....)
(The horde over runs the set, shoving and jostling each other, and after long moments vanish to the other side. Sadie is sitting stunned on the couch, Hope is nowhere in sight, and the wall scroll behind them is gone. Sounds of chaos and thrown items come from where the Vikings had passed through. A few screams ring out and a female crewmember rushes out with a Viking in hot pursuit. Sadie reaches into the couch and pulls out a walkie-talkie.)
Sadie: Um, Jerico, did you feed the Vikings today?
(A faint, sheepish voice breaks through the static.)
(The horde comes charging through again, now carrying a food table and several crewmembers on their shoulders. A gleeful "Whee!" can be heard amidst the screaming. They pass quickly and are gone. In the following silence, Hope crawls from under the couch, holding Tasuki's tessen in one hand.)
Hope: Who the hell has been using your couch, neechan? *looks around* What's the damage?
Crew member1: They got all the food.
Crew member2: And they napped Jennifer, Bill, Mike, and a few others.
Sadie: Ack! They took the book! Now we'll never get to the lemon!
Hope: *eyes flaming* They took my Saturn plsuhie!!! Noooo!!
(She rips away her jamies to show a leather outfit that would turn Xena green with envy, pulls out a massive broad sword from-somewhere and runs off after the Vikings.)
Sadie: Damn, we better go after her. Every one, arm up! *smiles at the camera* Thank you for viewing and we hope to see you back again soon.
(Screen goes black)