The Heart Sutra  

A Ranma 1/2 Fanfic

By Ashoka Roque

Disclaimer: These characters, with the exception of Ti Xiu, belong to Rumiko Takahashi, not me. While I have put them in situations that diverge somewhat from the original storyline, I have done so with intent to avoid compromising the integrity of her work.  I make no profit from this story.  The character of Ti Xiu is my own creation

Warning: PG. Slightly harsh language

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Chapter Four: Confession

P-chan awoke to the feeling of something sticky hitting his body.  The horrible noise had died down somewhat, though it was still uncomfortably loud.

"What is this, blood?" thought Ryouga, "Where am I?"

Then, P-chan smelled smoke.  The acrid smoke of some type of cheap, man-made fabric being burned.

"We have to find P-chan, Ranma!" screamed Akane 

"I know, I know - - follow me back behind the school!"

When Ranma and Akane arrived at the pile of still braying Piggachu dolls, they saw that the school janitors had doused the lot in a sticky, tar-like substance, apparently in an effort to get the cheaply manufactured toys to burn.

"Yeah, they got some type of flame-retardant in 'em, but this'll get 'em to burn good!" Ranma heard one of the men to say as she ran by.

Ahead of them, near an ambulance, stood Dr. Tofu and Ti Xiu, caring for some of the injured students.

"Ranma-kun, Akane-chan! Where are you going!" cried Tofu.

"We have to rescue P-chan!" screamed Akane, rushing towards the bonfire.

"P-chan?" asked Ti Xiu, turning to Dr. Tofu.

"That's Akane's pet pig, Ti-sensei." Tofu replied.

"He's a very special pig, Ti-sensei!" cried Ranma, using precious breath. "You know - the one Ryouga was telling you about during that cold rain shower on the road into town!"

"That pig!" replied Ti Xiu, raising his eyebrows. "Oh, my, yes. He is very special indeed! We must not let anything happen to him!"

"Akane!" screamed Dr Tofu in alarm.  Ranma looked in the direction of the bonfire.  There, on the edge, lay Akane, overcome by heat and the chemical fumes of the burning toys and tar. "Akane-chan!!"

"Stay here with the injured students, Tofu!" shouted Ti Xiu, as he began running towards the fire.  "I'll see to Akane-chan.  Ranma - - you must find that pig!"

"I know, I know! I'm trying, dammit!" screamed Ranma, moving into the fire so quickly that her legs were an invisible blur. At least I am faster as a girl - that may help for something.  How am I ever going to find him?

In desperation, Ranma danced through the fire, looking frantically for any signs of movement, Ryouga's bandana, anything that might help.

No, no, no - I can't be too late!

There!

There it was, a movement, a flash of tan and orange cloth.

It was - it was - P-chan!

Ranma quickly scooped up the pig. Yes, it was! And he was still moving, struggling weakly.

"I have him! I have him, Ti-sensei!"

"Good, lad, I knew you could do it!" cried Ti Xiu, briefly looking up from Akane, still lying on the ground. "I need a few more moments with Akane, and then she will be fine.  You must get that pig back to the dojo, and into a hot bath... do you understand me? If he has not had a hot bath, I won't be able to treat his wounds!"

"Yes, sensei! I understand!"

"Get going then, boy .. uh, girl ... child! Hurry, my child!"

Running back to the dojo, Ranma took her shirt and wrapped P-chan in it.  Sticky tar covered the pig, and Ranma's arms and clothes as she held him tightly against her body.

Hang in there, Ryouga! We have to make it!

Ranma ran desperately, her breath coming in heavy gasps due to over-exertion and the effects of breathing in the acrid smoke. Damn, when did P-chan get to be so small?  He usually struggles so much when I have to hold him - biting and clawing.  You'd never notice how tiny and helpless he really is! Ryouga must really suffer as P-chan...

The words from last night flooded into Ranma's brain.  The Heart Sutra...the suffering of loved ones. Man, am I an idiot!

It seemed like ages, but it was only short moments before Ranma entered the Tendo dojo and rushed to the bath. Fortunately, the boiler had been kept warm in anticipation of Ti Xiu's return for a mid-morning soak - rudely interrupted when he and Dr. Tofu were called to assist at the school.  Ranma ripped off her tar-stained clothes and quickly eased herself into the water, holding P-chan close.

The transformation back to male was probably just as physically uncomfortable as changing to a girl was, but somehow it never really felt nearly as bad to Ranma.

The change in body volume - more drastic in Ryouga's case - pushed several liters of water out of the tub and onto the surrounding floor, where it pooled briefly before easing down the drain surrounding the spa.

Ryouga's breathing was labored and ragged.  Damn, he inhaled too much of that fucking smoke! thought Ranma, desperate for what to do. If I hadn't been such an asshole this morning, we would never have fought, and he would not have been P-chan when this whole mess happened.

"Ryouga, please, hang on..."

Ranma was seated in the tub behind the unconscious Ryouga, who was facing the wall of the bathroom. Ranma noticed a sharp stinging in his legs and backside. He must have been scorched in that bonfire, and only now was his body acknowledging the injury.  Hot water was not the place to be with burns like these! Too damn bad for me, thought Ranma, I'm not letting go of Ryouga until Ti-sensei gets here.

Ranma noticed the thick, black tar that was clinging to Ryouga's hair. P-chan had been covered with the stuff, and somehow the transformation back to boy had left the majority of the glop strung on Ryouga's head.  Thought the tub water was warm, it was much cooler than the fire.  The tar had begun to congeal and harden.  Ranma realized that Ryouga's hair would have to be cut almost to the scalp to remove the sticky mess.

Something gave way inside of Ranma.  After his father's ultimatum, the confusing revelations of Ti Xiu the night before, the fight with Ryouga, the shock at the school, the fire, and his own conflicted and guilty feelings about Ryouga's life-threatening situation, this seemed like to much for him to bear.  "Oh, Ryouga, not your hair, too. Not that..."

Slowing, growing stronger with each breath, sobs began to wrack Ranma's naked body. Gingerly, carefully, he pulled Ryouga tightly to his chest, gasping as he spoke, "I am so sorry...I have been a total shit...from the day we met." Ranma could feel the skin-to-skin contact between his body and that of the unconscious boy. The burned areas of his legs burned even hotter as he wrapped them around Ryouga's, pulling him in towards his own body, against the buoyancy of the water. "And you were right...I tease guys...Especially you...And I look at you...I always look at you.  I can't keep from looking at you, even when I try not to."

In a panic, Ranma realized that Ryouga's ragged breathing had stopped.

"RYOUGA!  No...you can't, damn you..."

"Get him out of the tub, and on to his back on the bathmat.  Here - quickly, boy!"  Ti Xiu's voice was the most welcome sound that Ranma had ever heard in his life.

Quickly, Ranma and Ti lifted Ryouga from the tub and got him to the floor.  Ti arranged Ryouga's limbs, and placed his ear to the boy's chest.

"Do they teach CPR in that school of yours?" he asked Ranma, raising his head and looking him in the eye.

"Yes, Ti-sensei.  I just took the class this spring."

"Good.  His heart is beating poorly, and his breathing is so shallow I thought it had stopped for a moment.  I need to get some things from my bags - luckily, Tofu is bringing them here from the school.  I will run to meet him - can you take care of this for a few minutes more?"

"Yes, Ti-sensei."

"Good - I knew you could."  Ti moved towards the door, pausing for a moment. "Remember when I said that nothing happens randomly.  Do your best - and what will be is what will be." That said, Ti Xiu left Ranma, naked on the floor with the nude body of his friend, barely clinging to life.

"Okay, it was... clear the throat...tilt the head.  Deep breath..." Ranma lowered his face towards Ryouga's, placing his mouth over that of the prone boy.

Even through the concentrated effort to keep his friend alive, Ranma felt a stir of emotion.  My first kiss as a guy - and it's with Ryouga!  And I'm not even sure how I feel about it.  I guess it doesn't really count.  It's CPR, and he's out cold.  Even so, his mouth is so warm.  His lips are so soft.  I can feel his teeth with my teeth, if I tilt my head just a little this way...

"I think that will be enough, child..." said the returning Ti Xiu, bringing Ranma back up for air.  "I need him to breath in this herbal steam.  It will get his lungs to clear, and make his heart beat as it should."

In a few moments, Ryouga's eye's fluttered, then opened. His body jerked with three, then four deep, sharp coughs.  "Ranma..."

"Lie still for a while more, my son," said Ti Xiu, smiling. "You'll be fine.  It was a very close thing for a while, but Ranma saved you."

"Ranma...hates me.  Why..?"

"I don't hate you, you idiot," said Ranma, softly.  "I've just been an asshole.  I'm so sorry..."

"I...well...I..." Ryouga sputtered, then coughed some more.

"Enough for now," said Ti, patting Ryouga on the shoulder.  "Let's get you covered up, then into bed. You'll be there for a while."

Looking down, Ranma realized that both he and Ryouga were still nude. "I had better get dressed too, I think." Standing up, and turning around, Ranma stopped dead in his tracks.

Standing in the doorway were the three Tendo daughters, in various states of shock.

"Whe-when did you get here!" sputtered Ranma, face turning a deep shade of red.

"We came up with Ti-sensei," said Nabiki, politely turning her head away.

"Wha-wha did you see?"

"We saw you kissing Ryouga, if that's what you mean," said Akane, looking somewhat bemused.

"You kissed me?!" wailed Ryouga, bringing on another fit of coughing.

"It was NOT a kiss - it was CPR, and it saved your life, you baka idiot!"

"Looked like a kiss to me," said Akane.

Most interesting was Kasumi's reaction.  She was waving her right hand in front of her flushed face in an attempt to cool down her skin, while her left hand held the front of her blouse, which she was also fanning in and out.  "That was...very...stimulating."

"I think we should be going to the kitchen," said Akane, leading Nabiki out and physically dragging Kasumi behind her.

"They saw you give me mouth-to-mouth...how embarrassing!" Ryouga moaned.

"Well, they must have seen my bare ass up in the air while I was giving you mouth-to-mouth! How do you think I feel?"

Epilogue:

Ti Xiu walked down the road from Nerima, waving good-bye to everyone.  He made especially sure to catch the eye of Hibiki Ryouga, whose ever-present bandana was tied a little more tightly than usual around his recent crew-cut.  

I will have to come back someday, of course, but I think they have enough to work with for a while.

He smiled to himself.  As a good Buddhist, he was not supposed to revel in the role of wise savior, one who comes in and fixes things for others. It was supposed to simply be his calling, doing his work on this earth.

But it certainly felt good sometimes, that it did!

END

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Ashoro's "Ranma Sutras" fanfic series continues in "The Diamond Sutra" 

C&C welcome - ashoro@excite.com