By Ninnik Nishukan
Ukyo was having a dream.
It was strange, because it was as if everyone she met in the dream only drifted by, as insubstantial as mist, rather a felt presence in her mind than actual persons. There was Akane in the street, all smiles, black hair, her usual blue school uniform...she stood in front of a bridge, and turned in a fluid swirl, gazing after Ukyo as she passed.
There was intense sunlight, making everything brighter than usual; it had a white-yellowish hue to it, dimming it down, like someone had painted a picture with water colour and had used too much water, making everything pale. And yet it shone, yet it felt warm, made Ukyo feel passive and slightly dizzy. But she kept walking. She was going somewhere, yes, she almost remembered now. She had something to do, something concerning Akane.
It was the usual splitting-up of Ranma and Akane, wasn't it? She walked on, a little more haste in her step, her body feeling inexplicably light, and it felt as if she had padded the soles of her feet with cotton, because she hardly made a sound, and the ground felt so soft.
She vaguely remembered bumping into Ryoga earlier, but not what they had talked about. She hadn't seen the sun set, but suddenly an almost black, yet starry sky was hanging overhead. A wave of depressed ki washed over her, as insubstantial as the people she had passed, as if someone had just breathed gently on her skin, yet it hit her mind quite roughly. A dull ache throbbed in her brain afterwards, and she stared at the person crouching down a few feet away from her on another wooden bridge.
Her steps still light, as if she was almost floating, she approached him, an image of herself suddenly appearing in her mind, as if she was looking at herself from outside. The world had become bright again, at least around her, and she saw her own face, the expression softened, happy and serene, her movements elegant and feminine-- in fact she had never felt so exceedingly feminine in her entire life. The thing that sort of ruined the picture of womanly beauty, however, was the fact that she was wearing a creamy white tuxedo, the long tails of the coat swaying as she moved. Not a dress or a skirt. A tuxedo. Yet, she shone with an overwhelming angelic beauty.
With a smile as sunny as Akane's, she tried to help the figure up. She had guessed sometime ago who it was, even if she hadn't been able to see him clearly. No one could be crouched together, radiating depression like this, but Ryoga. She had seen him like this before, but now she sensed something different. It was odd how everything became clear to her in this dream; it was as if she could see emotions like bright colours in the air, feel them, taste them, smell them. The emotions surrounding Ryoga were not pleasant; apart from the things she could remember usually noticing about him when he was depressed, he was curled around a painful center; there was a tight, awkward, almost shameful and nauseous feeling in the middle of it all. Ukyo could see it as an inky, darkly swirling shape in his lower abdomen.
Ukyo pulled a little harder, though still gently, on his arm, and he finally allowed himself to be helped to his feet. Then she didn't quite know what was happening. They were having a hushed conversation, and suddenly, they were dancing. In this dream, certain things just arrived in her mind, even though no one had said anything; now, she knew it was the classic I'll-teach-you-how-to-dance-to-impress-this-other-girl thing that was going on, so she didn't consider it much. She was leading, moving daintily but determantly in her classy tuxedo, both the pants and tailcoat fitting her figure, though oddly, the suit seemed slightly baggy on her at the same time. Her long, black hair was free, swishing against her back as she danced. Ryoga wore an undecipherable expression, and she wondered if he was feeling better or not.
Then he was kissing her neck. It was almost scary; he was moving desperately, roughly, and she wondered if he was going to poise to take a bite out of her neck. Clutching onto her neck, it was almost like he was sucking the very life out of her, and her mind protested in so many ways, but all she knew, as she saw herself from outside again, was her wide open eyes and the apparent shock and fear on her face. She went rigid as a dozen thoughts hurried through her mind. This is wrong, is he going crazy, is he going to kill me, why is he kissing me when I'm wearing a tuxedo, I should be wearing a dress or at least a skirt, why...
She was completely unable to sort out her irrational thoughts, but as her body went limp, the horrible claws in her chest let go and the pressure of Ryoga's confused, desperate feelings pushing against her mind let up, his attentions to her neck becoming less painful and awkward. Slowly, gradually, it began to turn into pleasure, melting away the frightening sensations, and she hummed softly, feeling safer again, though a tiny part of her still felt like he was sucking at her soul. He caressed the back of her neck beneath her hair. The soft, bright picture of Ukyo's face and her lightly coloured tuxedo made a beautiful contrast against her black hair, but Ryoga...he was so far-away. He was in darkness, but not in shadows-- in fact, she realized now, as he stopped kissing her neck and leaned back again and she could see his face; it was as if she was looking at him through sunglasses.
Ukyo could see him, every line, every feature, but he was in shades of black and brown, he was dimmed down, muffled, like the landscape, only with darkness instead of intense light, and...yes, it made him look unreachable. She touched her face-- no, she wasn't wearing sunglasses.
Ukyo awoke, her face a picture of agony and confusion-- what was this?! Here, alone in her dark, cold bedroom, it was as if she was still feeling the stabbing of her heart, the nasty shock still with her. She turned her head quickly, a hiss of fear and anger leaving her between her teeth, expecting to see someone uninvited in her room, but as she turned on her bedside lamp with trembling hands, she saw that the carpet was all that lay in the spot where she thought she'd sensed someone.
Ryoga was walking, and as usual, getting nowhere. Or at least not where he wanted to go. At least he had found a restaurant, which was good, since he didn't have any food left, and was more or less starving. He should be thinking of finding a supermarket later to restock his provisions, but first things first; he needed to refill his growling stomach right away. He couldn't wait for food he had to buy and set up camp to prepare it before he was able to eat it.
As he approached the restaurant, he noticed the words on the banners, whipping in the wind.
"Huh? This is Uccha--"
He was startled as the street door of Ucchan's was suddenly torn open and a very angry woman stepped outside. He stared at her; she stared back. It was Ukyo, but why was she acting like that, what could he have possibly done to her? He hadn't been here in a month at least! Why was she staring so intently at him?
She walked slowly towards him, her fingers twitching, and as he tried once again to speak, she bared her teeth in a snarl and pounced him, grabbing two handfulls of his hair and biting down on his neck, less than an inch from his jugular. He screamed, waving his arms frantically as she clung on to him, feeling icy shock run down his spine at this unexpected situation. As he regained himself, he tried to peel her off of him, which was no easy task. It was like being attacked by a facehugger, only facehuggers didn't bite. He put one knee in her stomach and pushed as he removed her arms from his hair. When the whole ordeal was over, she was standing there with two small tufts of his hair in her hands, and he was dabbing at the blood running down his neck with a bandanna. His backpack had fallen to the ground in all the commotion.
She breathed as heavily as him, not letting her eyes leave him for a second. Ryoga's brow knitted in a seriously worried frown. "Ukyo, wha..." He began, then shook his head. No, why in the world should he try to act like a gentleman? What was wrong with her?! "A-a-are you insane?!" He exploded.
Ukyo exhaled, brushed Ryoga's hair off her fingers, then shook herself as if she wanted to get rid of the moment. "Let's call it payback." She said quietly, then ran into her shop. Ryoga stood there, blinking in puzzlement. Payback for what? Shortly after, Ukyo returned with a neatly wrapped parcel, tied with a piece of string. She seemed more composed now, smoothing down her hair as she walked towards him. He recoiled as she raised her hand, but realized she was only handing him the parcel. He hesitated, then took it silently. A deliscious smell wafted from it; food. His stomach growled again. He looked at Ukyo. "What is...Ukyo...I...um?"
"It's a stack of freshly made okonomiyakis. You must be hungry." She looked down, her hands folded, her arms kept neatly down in front of her. Ryoga was fazed by the sudden change from a wild she-demon to this demure young woman. "Yeah, I'm actually very hungry, but..."
She raised her hand to his neck, making him wince, but a friendly, reassuring smile from her made him relax, and he let her take the bandanna away. "I'll just have this cleaned, so you don't have to wash it in a river or something." She smiled, slightly strained, he thought, but then it turned more natural, and he swallowed as she touched his neck, wiping away the last few drops of blood.
"Ukyo..." His voice cracked slightly, astonished. "What is all this about?"
Ukyo smiled crookedly; she seemed amused about something. "Sorry, I think it's time to close my restaurant."
Ryoga made a small, odd sound, exasparated and somewhat outraged. "Ukyo, you can't just act like some kind of Norman Bates and then not even tell me wh--"
"Shouldn't you be on your way to the Tendo Dojo?" She asked softly.
He was taken aback. "Yes. No. Maybe...I, I don't know now! Just tell me what's going on! I'm your friend, dammit, I'm not leaving until you--"
"Goodbye, Ryoga." She smiled, patting his cheek in an almost motherly fashion.
She stopped, about to close the door behind her. "Just behave yourself in my dreams from now on, okay?"
The door closed, then he heard the sound of a key turning in the lock.
He was stunned. Did she just say...that...
So where should he go? He glanced down at the parcel of still hot food in his hands, feeling hunger flaring up again. Well, at least I know the answer to one of my problems...
"Let's call it payback."
"Just behave yourself in my dreams from now on, okay?"
So she had a dream about me? Exactly what did I do in that dream?
Being able to fall asleep that night, however, proved to be much more difficult.
Ukyo smiled to herself, confident that she had at least given the Lost Boy a lot to think about. She was unsure, however, if she really wanted to dream again tonight.