Solar Demise - or - Oblivion has Gained on Us
by Pink

Part Seven - Back to Square -1

My face gets hot when I'm flustered. Fussing. Frustrated. When I get this way I have to lash out in order to feel better. My lashing out for the day resulted in a flying pillow and a broken mug on the floor.

It. Was. Hot.

No, that's an understatement. I woke up in the flaming pits of hell (there, much more accurate!). I sat up, frustrated and sweaty, hurdling pillows in several directions.

"A bath, a bath, a bath," my mind repeated to me. If anything could cool me down, it would be a bath. I assumed from the position of the sun in the sky and the intensity of the heat that it was well after noon. It was a Thursday, so the men got first dibs on the bathwater. Everyone would be finished bathing at this time of day. My angry disposition was about to be lifted! I headed to the bathroom, pushing the door to the side and ecstatically pulled my clothes off. Sighing happily as I grabbed a towel, I entered the actual bathing room and slammed the door loudly to one side. I blushed immediately after.

"Sorry!" I gasped. Ranma was starting to get out of the bath as I entered the room. Upon noticing my presence he turned his head in my direction and stared at me, confused.

"Um... sorry Miss, are you a guest here?" Ranma's beet red face poked up from behind the side of the tub as he ducked back down into the water. Remembering that I too was naked, I wrapped my body as best as I could with the towel in my hand. I headed towards the bath tub.

*What am I doing?* I sat at the edge of the tub close to Ranma and dipped my feet in the water, much to his shock. I gave the cutest smile I could muster and splashed a little, trying to hide the fact that I was trembling. My actions were on a whim; I was acting before thinking. I wasn't quite sure what to do with this situation. Reintroduce myself? Sure, that sounded good for now.

"I'm Akane. Nice to meet you." In the same fashion as when I first met Ranma for real, I bowed, smiling.

"Ah... i-is that so?" Ranma bowed his head in salutation, still blushing, but smiling slightly. I wanted to throw myself at him, and punch him into the sky for forgetting me. "I'm Ranma. Well, I should probably let you have a turn at the bath since I'm finished anyway. Excuse me..." I wanted to make a lasting impression. I wanted to live with no regrets, after all. As Ranma got up, I thought fast and stood quickly.

"Thank you! Well, it was nice to meet you-ooouuuUUUU!" I bowed 'haphazardly,' pushing my leg out from under me so that I would slip. My hands shot out to the sides and I pretended to lose my balance, and landed into Ranma. He slipped back into the tub with me in tow. Being the gentleman that he was (even though he would never admit it), he tried to break my fall. *YESS!* Just as I planned, I lay on top of Ranma in the water. His stunned face reddened, and I felt the quickening beats of his heart. I was a bit embarassed when I realized that I wasn't pushed up against my towel, I was pushed up against Ranma's bare skin. I must have dropped the towel when I fell. My mind flipped through the possibilities of handling this situation, but my mind blanked when trying to decide what to do next. Another darker part of my mind thought it was extremely sexy to be close to him like this.

"You okay?" Ranma gulped and faced away from me to be polite. I picked myself up off of him and sunk into the water to hide myself. I wanted Ranma to fall in love with me, but I wasn't about to whore myself out to him.

"I'm sorry! I'm so sorry, that was extremely clumsy of me! I should be asking if you're okay." Ranma nodded. "Thank you... I noticed that you tried to break my fall... that's really sweet of you."

"No, it was nothing!" Ranma kept eye contact with me as he got up and wrapped my wet towel around his waist. "I happened to notice that you seem to know how to fall properly, though... I could tell in the way that you arched your back."

My eyes widened.

"...but I'm not one to allow a girl to fall like that." He winked at me and headed for the door. "You move like a martial artist. Would you mind sparring a bit before your bath?"

That was close. "...the way I arched my back? I was right in front of you. The only way you'd notice something like that is if you were... staring... at... my..." I blushed for real.

Ranma's face flushed back to beet red. "AH?! I wasn't looking on purpose! Er, I mean, that's all I could see... no... uh... it looked great?" Ranma's face twisted to uncertainty. "I promise you, I'm not some kind of pervert!"

This was an opportunity to take this in any direction I wanted. "Of course not," I purred. I tried looking oblivious while sliding a finger suggestively into my mouth. Ranma's blush stayed potent. "But, you got to rub against something that would have otherwise been left untouched until marriage. I think I'm going to have to meet you in the dojo."

Ranma smirked a little. "Looks like it, but this time if you fall," he winked. "It'll be because I made you." He shut the door behind him and got dressed.

Too bad he didn't forget how to be cocky. "Ranma no baka!" I yelled. His silhouette faltered.

=-=-=-=-=-=

As I stepped into the dojo I finished tying my gi. "Just a short match, all right? I really need to get into the bath."

"Interesting, you don't look all that dirty to me." Ranma bowed slightly and waited for me to take a fighting stance. "But I can understand how much better you'll feel after a bath. Ready?"

"Sure." I tensed. Ranma molded me into a sparring partner that was at the very least, somewhat of a challenge. Months of fighting Ranma didn't measure up to his lifetime of experience, though. *That doesn't mean I haven't surprised him a couple times.* I may not have defeated Ranma, but there were times during my training when I nearly got the best of him. For once, I had a small advantage as I knew what to expect in a fight with Ranma. "Let's do it." I leaped as high into the air as I could, kicking sharply towards Ranma's face. Of course, he moved forward in order to strike me from behind when I landed, but things wouldn't turn out that way. I landed, dropping low and sweeping my leg under Ranma. he barely dodged, and I caught the surprised look on his face as he leaped away. There was no pause between his landing and his launching himself at me. "Damn him for being so fast!" I hissed. I barely leaped back, swinging my legs back and high into the air so that I could land on both hands. I pivoted on my palms, doing a split in an effort to swipe Ranma in the back before he could turn around. Ranma dodged, using his legs to push my hands out from under me.

In a delayed attempt to get away, I tried moving one arm out of the way. That was a big mistake. Ranma's foot continued to move and collided with my face. Feeling the pain instantly, I reflexively brought my arms to my face, forcing the remaining weight of my body to crash down on my head. To put things lightly, it hurt.

"SORRY!" Ranma was instantly at my side, flailing. "I, uh.. usually don't go all out on girls, but I think... when I was fighting you I kinda got carried away." Ranma covered his mouth to stop himself from rambling. "It feels so natural sparring with you, Akane! I'm, uh, really surprised. You're much better than any girl I've fought before..."

No matter how good I was, my face still stung. "You know, you're amazing," I said rubbing my face. "You fight like you've trained all your life." Hopefully, those words would make Ranma raise an eyebrow.

"...I have, actually. Hey." Ranma lowered his gaze and began to twiddle his thumbs. "Can we do that again some time? That was really fun." He examined my face. "Aw, man. I'm really sorry for that kick."

"No, it's fine, really!" I bowed. "Thank you for the exercise..." It was time to test the waters a little more. "You've fought other girls?"

"Ranmaaaaa! Are you in here?" That voice could only be...

"Ah, Ukyou." Ranma stood quickly and bend down to help me up., "Akane, have you met Ukyou? Apparently she's... ah..."

"Ranma's fiancee." Ukyou enjoyed rubbing that in my face. "Ranchan, are you beating up defenseless girls?"

"Hey Ukyou, I'm not that kind of guy--"

"Care to find out how 'defenseless' I am?" I glared at Ukyou, who was still standing in the doorway. She must have introduced herself to Ranma before I woke up today. Trying not to look intimidated by her short skirt and tight shirt I added, "Ranma was just having a little fun with his ORIGINAL fiancee."

Ranma turned back to me and stared. He didn't seem too happy, but at least this time around he didn't insult my figure or my looks.

=-=-=-=-=-=

I finally got my chance to take a soothing dip in the tub, but it was later in the day after dinner. The quiet echoing of my splashes was enough to ease the stress of everything that went wrong today, namely Ukyou. I left as soon as I realized I couldn't do much by hounding Ranma. My revelation in the dojo about being betrothed to Ranma got me on his bad side, which ticked me off, too.

Footsteps from the hallway grew louder as did a girl's humming. That girl entered the room and blanched upon seeing my naked body, for the second time today.

"Uhhh..."

I blinked. This could get interesting.

"I, ah, take it that you're the Akane that my COUSIN, RANMA, is engaged to?" Oh-ho. Ranma was making an attempt to hide his curse. I grinned deviously.

"Yes, that's the same one!" Trying not to blush, I held a steady gaze and watched Ranma nervously glancing at my body every so often. "It's pretty hot... how about some cool water over your back?"

"S-sure..." Ranma gulped quiety and stared forcefully at the soap he, er, she brought in.

I stood, wrapped a towel around my body and filled a bucket with water from the tub. Walking over to Ranma, I emptied the bucket over Ranma, who shrieked. It was interesting to watch his body shift back to a male one. He stood, alarmed, and turned to face me. "A-akane, um, uh,

"Jusenkyou," I interrupted. Ranma's jaw nearly dropped to the floor. "At least wait until we're married before you start peeking. Why didn't you just leave when you saw me here?"

"I-- I dunnow, I panicked, okay?" Ranma grabbed the bucket I held and covered himself with it.

"...More than that, you were STARING. It's not like you haven't seen a naked girl before, you pervert!"

"Hey, What's this crap about 'waiting until we're married' anyway?"

"It was REFERRING to the fact that we're ENGAGED." I answered. "It's what our parents want, after all."

"You know, I really thought we connected when we were doing that sparring, honestly. But when you say something like that and sit back to accept it without knowing what kind of guy I am first... I wonder what kind of person you are." Ranma stood to leave the bathroom. "I never agreed to marry ANYBODY."

=-=-=-=-=-=

"I'm such an idiot," I muttered and plopped onto my bed. I sighed, gazing out my open window.

"What do I think, Ukyou? I dunnow anymore." The voice was distant, but not faint. It sounded like it came from... the roof? No, farther. I peeked out the window and spotted Ranma and Ukyou hanging out in a tree in the yard. Glaring at nobody in particular, I laid back and looked away from the window.

"What was your family thinking, Ranchan?"

Someone sighed out there. For the rest of the time that I was awake, there were no further words spoken.
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Author's Notes: (December 2002)
Some of you may notice that I don't write Shampoo's dialogue in broken English like in the U.S. released manga and anime. Part of the reason is because I don't really hear such freakish use of Japanese in the anime or the original manga when she speaks (then again, I don't know Japanese very well ^^;;;). In lieu of that, I made Shampoo's speech very formal, as if she were speaking out of a text book. It's almost like how I spoke French in France: in complete sentences because I wasn't very familiar with how to speak casually.

When many Americans speak to others who speak English as a second language and hear broken English they make an assumption that said person isn't very intelligent. It takes work to be able to converse in a foreign language that you weren't born speaking, though. The idea that broken English = dumb still hangs in the back of some people's minds, so I didn't want Shampoo to be seen as unintelligent, I don't think she is.

(May 2003)
I just realized that I didn't mention that I'm open to some good C+C. ^^ I may not be aiming for any kind of notability as far as my writing goes, but I'm not adversed to improving nonetheless! Come on, you crazy English majors, help a girl out. XD