"An' I still say this can only mean trouble" said one to the other
"My niece is getting named and I have no intention of missing it!" replied the other.
Two figures were walking through the early morning mist in Nerima. They walked side-by-side, hands held in what was for Japan a blatant show of affection. Both wore heavy coats against the morning chill. The taller of the two was wearing a bag over his shoulder and had one arm of the coat across their front, empty. Both walked with an obvious grace, acquired by different means, but no less complimentary for that.
Ranma and Nabiki were back in Nerima for the christening of Kasumi's newest addition to the Ono clan. It had taken some persuasion to get Ranma to come but as Nabiki had said
"There's no way we're sleeping apart if I can help it"
They had arrived on a helicopter this morning having set out in the middle of the night before. Both were more than a little bit cranky from the ride and the sudden lack of coffee sellers.
"Its freezing out here" said Nabiki. "It wasn't this cold when I left"
"Winter." Ranma said.
"Really, my I must have missed that." Said Nabiki sarcastically. Ranma flinched.
"You want my coat?" he asked.
"No dummy, put your arm around me" Nabiki replied far more warmly.
"Can I get it back later?" he joked
"I'll think about it stud" she teased, cuddling up under his arm. Suddenly Ranma twitched.
"Damn" he whispered
"Arm playing up again?" Nabiki asked genuinely concerned.
"Just old bones" Ranma replied with a smile
"I'm older than you are" Nabiki replied
"Uh-Huh" Ranma grunted with a smile. Nabiki just punched his ribs.
" I am not the one with white hair" she teased reaching up to where a white streak was growing out from his roots near his forehead. A momento of the Queen's mental assault, all those who survived the attack bore the mark.
"Besides you know it won't be for long your new arm is already growing in the tanks, and if you weren't so stubborn then you could have had a robotic one already!"
"Not the same!" Ranma muttered.
From out of the mist loomed the gate of the Tendo-ke. The two lovers reluctantly separated, each looking the other over. They briefly nodded to each other and Ranma opened the gate for Nabiki to enter.
Nabiki pushed the door open and shouted her greeting. Her father hurled himself at her in a flash, tears already streaking behind.
"WAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!" my daughter has finally come home." The Tendo fountain was in full force. It was just as well Nabiki hadn't had time to take her coat off. Ranma meanwhile stood well back, outside the house, in the gloom. It was from there he spotted his father cheating at the go table.
"Dad. Please." Nabiki said. It was enough to get him to let go but not to stop crying.
"Did you see the boy?" said Genma while moving towards her, having finally finished fixing the table.
"Just this morning" replied Nabiki, taking off her coat. As she stepped aside a roll of mist wafted in through the door and there stood Ranma, with his empty sleeve. The grey light framed him like a revenant.
"Pops," Ranma said in a low voice.
"My Boy- " Genma started only to be interrupted by Ranma suddenly pinning him against a wall.
"I am a little old to be 'boy' these days, and I stopped being yours many years ago." Ranma stated coolly. "Whatever plans you had for me are finished. Do you agree?"
Genma just nodded. Ranma put him down and went back to the door to take off his coat. He briefly apologised to the Tendo patriarch and then removed his shoes and hung up his coat.
"Daddy I am going up to our room. We can catch up after Ranma and I have settled in." She looked at Ranma, who shouldered their bag again and followed her up to her room.
"You can shift the bed out a bit if you need more leg-room" she said, making it very clear where she expected him to sleep tonight. Secretly he was also very grateful she refused to treat him any different despite his loss.
"Uh-huh, he replied," sitting down on the bed, small smile adorning his face. "Now what?"
"Now we make up for all the time lost on the helicopter" she said and seated herself astride his lap. Her eyes were not so much twinkling as flaring and the moment her breath brushed across his face all other thoughts fled.
Downstairs Soun and Genma once more sat across the table from each other. Apparently deep in thought, in fact both were trying very hard to ignore the 'friendly' noises from upstairs.
"Perhaps we ought to reconsider Akane?" Soun suggested slightly timidly, wincing as another giggle came through the ceiling. Genma shook his head emphatically.
"We CAN'T Tendo old buddy," he said sadly. Soun looked up questioningly. "You saw the boy, without me around he's gone soft. The future of the school asks nay demands that we cannot allow that to continue. You have carefully bred Akane and trained her for this very task." Genma had once more assumed his 'champion' pose. "The only way we can secure our legacy, not to mention our retirement, is to ensure that Akane marries Ranma!"
Soun leapt to his feet and joined in the pose.
"Its Operation Bride and Groom!" they cried together. Before swiftly crouching over and hushing each other. They listened in silence until the noises started again and then shook hands.
Soun however was not entirely convinced. "but what about Nabiki? I mean they have well you know…"
"Just makes him a better catch for Akane, now he'll know what to do on his wedding night." Genma said sagely. Soun just nodded.
A little later after the noises had gone away the two were suddenly startled by a shout and a thud. Soun was up and running for his daughter's room immediately, Genma followed as soon as he stopped running the other way.
They burst into the middle daughter's room to see a strange sight. Nabiki was on the floor leaning up on one elbow, wrapped in the bedsheets and staring grumpily at a very confused looking Ranma, who in turn was in a fighting stance on the bed, naked. He also looked very confused.
"Daddy out!" Nabiki commanded grumpily. "And shut that door!" she shouted as her father fled. By now Ranma was coming round.
"Again?" he asked sheepishly.
"Again" she replied grumpily and then more softly, "what was it this time?"
"The others were burying me" Ranma started, sitting back down on the bed. Nabiki rapidly moved to hold him. "I wasn't dead and they thought I was and they were burying me." Nabiki squeezed him to her. "And there were things, things in the dust" he shuddered.
"Hey hero" Nabiki whispered, "you aren't there, you are here, with me." She punctuated her sentence with kisses. "All that's left are a few scars and some bad memories. Okay?"
"Okay Biki," he said and kissed her on the nose. She quickly crossed her eyes and then looked at him in mock reproach. "Call that a kiss?" she demanded. "do it properly soldier!" so he did
"and while we are on the subject you owe me for dumping me on my ass like that!"
"Oh mighty mistress, how can this humble servant gain forgiveness in your divine eyes." Ranma replied teasingly
"Better." Nabiki said through the kisses as the two lay back on the bed.
"Least I don't have to worry about Nodoka thinking he isn't manly enough" muttered Genma as the two lovers started again.
"She might still be pissed aout the arm Genma ol' buddy." Interjected Soun "Oh yeah and the whole not seeing you for sixteen years." Genma slumped deeper.
"You might be right Tendo"
"And I doubt her sword is any less sharp these days." Soun added thoughtfully. Genma just shuddered.
Upstairs the two lovers finally got round to talking just before lunch.
"There is no way its this easy" Ranma said, looking up at the ceiling. Nabiki snuggled in on his good side, absent-mindedly running her nails across his chest.
"Course not, the idiots are probably planning mischief right now." Nabiki said, propping herself up and pulling his face towards her. "The important thing is that whatever damn-fool plan they come up with we face it together."
"Meaning that I ain't to go off half-cocked?" said Ranma quietly, Nabiki just kissed him.
"I was going to give Abi and the others a call, organise something for tonight." Nabiki said sitting up and stretching. Of course the stretch nearly had her dragged back to bed. "Nuh-uh stud, any more of that and I won't be able to walk let alone dance." Ranma put on a fake pout. "Awww" Nabiki mocked and then kissed him. "Now where on earth did you throw my panties?"
"No idea," Ranma said, "you'll just have to go without." He finished with that look in his eyes. Nabiki looked at him, smiled and leant across him to retrieve the wayward thong.
"Shouldn't you be practicing your feng-shui or whatever?" Nabiki admonished, while picking up her bra the other side of the room.
"Nah, can't do too much until I get the graft, it'll just throw me out of whack. Meditation and light exercise is about all I can get away with." Ranma replied, swinging out of bed. Nabiki shook her head at what he described as light exercise and went searching for her trousers.
"Right then, I'll go see Kasumi, you go and do some 'light exercise' and I'll meet you back here in a few hours." Nabiki said while admiring his butt. She found she couldn't resist so she gave it a quick grope before dashing for the furoba dressed only in her yukata.
"OI!" Ranma shouted in mock outrage, running to the door clutching his trousers over his front. He joined her a few moments later, pulling faces every time she reminded him that all he was there for was scrubbing her back.
Ranma found himself doing a leisurely jog around Nerima's roof tops. Dressed in his traditional red and black civvies he was jumping across the gaps between buildings and flipping over busy streets. It simply did not occur to him that this was particularly unusual, and fortunately this was Nerima so he was at least half right.
Nevertheless it came as somewhat of a surprise to meet someone coming the other way. The figure gradually resolved itself into…. a dustbin in a tutu?Ranma was, to say the least, a little bit confused. Especially when a boy dressed in traditional okonomiyaki garb and wielding a giant spatula came bouncing after the can. He watched the two run around for a while before catching up with the chef.
"excuse me, this may seem like a real dumb question but what did the can do?" Ranma asked, bounding alongside the pursuer.
"Bastard tried to kiss me again" the chef explained, finally stopping. " He just won't take no for an answer and it has been years!"
"Have you told him you're not gay?" Ranma asked trying to hide his amusement. The chef turned to look at him as if he was nuts.
"Oh Tsubaba isn't really a girl he just dresses like that because he thinks I like it" Strangely enough this didn't clear a thing up.
"Riiight" Ranma said. At that moment his empty stomach desided to growl.
"Look how about you come back to mine and grab a bite to eat, I'll lay the whole story on you." The chef said taking pity on this very attractive man.
"Uh I'm sort of attached" explained Ranma, having caught a bit of what was implied "to a girl and everything." He added a bit too quickly.
"Oh well nobody's perfect and ya can't blame me for trying. The offer still stands if you are intrested." The chef said cheerfully. Ranmareached up and tugged his pigtail.
"Well sure, I mean a guy's gotta eat don't he. I am sure Biki won't mind."