"SODA POP AND SYMPATHY"
A Ranma 1 / 2 lemon
By Bill K.

(e-mail at billk57@earthlink.net)

Characters are copyright Rumiko Takahashi; used without permission, but
with love.

Ranma sullenly walked the halls of Furinkan High, his hands
stuffed in his pockets and his wiry, powerful shoulders hunched. A
scowl had taken up permanent residence on his face.

He walked aimlessly in the general direction of the front door and
the courtyard outside the school. Students in the hall got out of his
way.

Outside, Ranma found a thin shade tree without really seeing it
and leaned up against it. He stared at the ground with enough intensity
to burn holes in the lawn, but he wasn't focused on it. He was focused
internally on the source of his anger: a memory loop that ran unbidden
in his brain, over and over.

"Stupid Akane," muttered Ranma.

The loop played again, to Ranma's immediate irritation and
sub-conscious delight. He'd been passing Akane's room innocently enough
last evening, headed for the kitchen to try to nab a snack without Kasumi
catching him. As he passed, he heard a moan come from her room. Instantly
he froze; it was Akane's voice. Was she hurt? Was she sick? Maybe that
nitwit Kuno was forcing himself on her! Maybe P-Chan was taking unfair
liberties on the unsuspecting girl! Sick with dread, and curiosity, Ranma
slid the door open and peered inside the bedroom.

Akane sat alone. She had her pajama top on, but not the bottoms,
and was sitting up. One bare leg curled toward her while the other
dangled over the side of the bed. Her head was thrown back. Ranma could
just catch a glimpse of her features. At first he thought they were
twisted in pain. Then his eyes ran down her right arm draped across her
front, her hand between her legs, the fingers inserted...

"Oh my," he whispered, eyes popping.

Ranma felt his right eye. It was still tender and puffy from where
Akane had hit him. OK, he had been staring at her while she masturbated
- - for five minutes. OK, she probably had the right to be mad - - probably
even to give him a black eye. But she was still mad this morning! He'd
apologized, over and over again. Yet she wouldn't look at him, wouldn't
acknowledge him except to snarl "pervert" as she passed him on the way out
the door. Ranma couldn't understand why she was still upset. He actually
thought she'd never looked more beautiful than in that moment of erotic
rapture. It had surprised him; he hadn't known she had it in her.

"Stupid macho chick!" muttered Ranma.

Just then the stupid macho chick passed by about seventy-five feet
away, flanked by her girlfriends in a protective circle. Ranma pushed off
the tree and stood at full height, staring hopefully. Akane never
acknowledged him. A couple of her friends cast quick menacing glances
at him, then kept walking.

"Ah, what's the point of explaining?" he sighed, sagging back
against the tree. "She'd just take it the wrong way. She always does."

Cracking open his lunch, Ranma sat down and began eating. Too mad
and sick at heart to enjoy or even notice the taste, he was half way
through before he returned to reality. Just after noticing his lunch
was half gone, he noticed someone standing next to him.

"Hello," the girl said, smiling hopefully.

Ranma was immediately struck by how cute the girl was. His age,
with short boyishly cut black hair that didn't seem so boyish on her,
the girl possessed a lovely dimpled smile and wondrous pool-like green
eyes. Her figure was proportionate for a girl her age, but she didn't
seem to mind showing it, wearing a flattering short skirt and a midriff
baring top. She wasn't Akane, but...

Yeah. She wasn't Akane, was she?

"Hi," Ranma said, amazed this girl had ventured to speak to him
with his fearsome - - and he felt, undeserved - - reputation.

"Do you mind if I sit down?" she prodded.

"Uh, go ahead."

"Thank you," she smiled politely. "I hope I'm not being forward,
but I saw you sitting here and you seemed so depressed. Can I help you
with anything?"

"No," scowled Ranma.

"What's wrong?" the girl persisted. "If you don't mind my asking."

"Oh," he hesitated, then relented, "I did something really dumb
and embarrassed this girl. I tried to apologize and make it up to her,
but she won't listen! It's always like that with her!"

"Oh," the girl said softly. "Sounds like she's got a temper."

"I'll say!"

"Do you love her?"

"A macho chick like her?"

"I guess so." The girl stayed silent for a beat, gathering her
courage. "Does she love you?"

Ranma didn't answer. Did Akane love him? Sometimes it seemed
like she did. But sometimes she didn't - - and sometimes she was just some
raving psycho demon from the seven gates!

"It doesn't sound like she does," the girl offered. "Loving
someone means forgiving their faults and accepting their inadequacies
and stupidities."

"Yeah! If she loved me, she'd accept that I'm...wait a minute."

"I'm sorry. I didn't quite mean it like that," and she twittered
an enchanting, musical little giggle. "It's just that people can't help
making mistakes. If you're truly sorry, she should be able to see that
and find it in her heart to forgive you."

"Yeah, you'd think," sighed Ranma.

Just then the bell rang. The girl got up and headed back to
school. Suddenly Ranma sprang to his feet. His hand shot out and caught
the girl's arms, stopping her.

"What's your name?" he asked.

"Um...Reiko," the girl replied hesitantly.

"Reiko," he repeated, a hint of a smile curling the corners of his
mouth. "Thanks for listening, Reiko."

"I was happy to," she grinned, her eyes twinkling.

All afternoon Ranma wondered about Reiko. Who was she? He didn't
recall ever seeing her around before, not that he paid much attention to
everyone. Why had she approached him? Was it possible she liked him? His
mind's eye called up the memory of her. She was cute. More importantly,
she was nice. She didn't spend half her time judging him or trying to
change him into some half-baked fantasy man. She listened. She seemed
to understand his side. Ranma never knew it was possible for a girl to
understand a guy's side. He thought about her through math; he thought
about her through geography; he even thought about her through the
time he was ordered to hold the buckets of water in the hall for not
paying attention in class.

When school ended, Ranma was the first one out of the building.
He then parked himself ten feet from the door and let the wave of
students wash past him like a rock in the rolling river tide. He
searched the crowd for Reiko, hoping to find her and talk some more.
At length he spotted her. The crowd parted as he closed the gap between
them. Reiko caught sight of him and her face lit up.

"Ranma!" she beamed. "I was hoping to catch up to you. You seem
happier than you were at lunch."

"Guess I am," he grinned. Several students gawked. They'd never
seen Ranma Saotome grin and it frightened them. "Can I walk you home?"

"I'd like that," she smiled demurely.

The couple walked along. They talked, invariably about him - - even
if he asked about her, she would give a vague or general answer, then
direct the conversation back to him. After a while Ranma gave in and
talked about himself. He had to admit he liked being the center of
attention. He stopped at a street vendor and bought them both a treat.
Her grateful smile filled him with euphoric warmth.

It was uncanny. Reiko was the most understanding, easy to talk to
girl he'd known since - - ever. She wasn't fawning; she genuinely shared
many of his points of view. She didn't try to possess him like Shampoo or
Ukyo or any of the others. And every time he looked at her, she seemed
prettier.

"You're pretty perceptive," Ranma said, "to notice I was angry and
depressed at lunch today. Or was I that obvious?"

"You weren't exactly hiding it," laughed Reiko. "But I have to
confess, I was watching you. I've kind of been watching you for a while
now."

"Oh?"

"Yes. Don't be offended, but I've thought for some time that you
were really nice looking." Reiko's breath shuddered out. "It took me a
little while to work up the nerve to speak to you." She looked at him,
eyes sparkling and smile beaming. "I'm glad I did now. You're even
nicer in person."

"Really? Well you're pretty nice, too," Ranma smiled, finding he
meant it.

"Thanks," Reiko said - - no gushing, no fawning, no cross-examination.
They arrived at a modest house that wasn't far from the Tendo place.
"Well, we're here."

She hesitated. Ranma was ready to leave, though he didn't want to,
but lingered out of respect. She seemed to want to say something more.

"Would you," Reiko swallowed, "like to come in?"

Ranma stood at a precipice. He wanted to say yes. He found Reiko
intriguing in a way no other girl was, not even Akane. He felt connected
to her in a way he couldn't explain. But to say yes was to risk losing
something that was very valuable to him.

Of course, it might already be too late. He might have already
lost it.

"Sure," he said softly. A bird in the hand...
* * * *
The door slammed shut and Akane stormed into dinner.

"Save the performance," grunted Nabiki, not even looking up.
"Ranma's not here."

"He's not?" Akane said, worried, then hardened. "Well who cares
if he's not!"

"Not me," said Genma's sign. "Just means more for everyone else."
The panda eyed the table with barely restrained desire.

"Oh, Genma," clucked Kasumi. "Akane, maybe he's just giving you
some space to calm down."

"Maybe he's thinking up a new way to humiliate me," Akane said
bitterly.

"Maybe he's with that girl," Nabiki commented blandly.

Everyone at the table turned to Nabiki.

"WHAT GIRL?" roared Akane.

"The girl he was talking to at lunch," Nabiki replied calmly. "The
girl he waited at the front door of the school for. The girl he walked
off with, headed southwest."

"You saw this?" Kasumi asked, mildly surprised.

"Some of it. I got the rest from my spies."

"Who is she?" Akane asked, a slight quaver in her voice.

"I'm still working on that," Nabiki replied. "And that one's going
to cost you."

"Nabiki," Kasumi said, mildly reproachful.

"Hey, I've got expenses! I can't keep giving her freebies just
because she's family!"

"Are we ready to eat?" asked Soun, entering. "Where's Ranma?"

"Out with another girl, apparently," Kasumi replied innocently.

"WHAT?" roared Soun, glaring daggers at Genma.

"He takes after his mother," read Genma's sign as the panda reached
for some rice.
* * * *
Ranma and Reiko sat on the floor of her living room, locked in an
intense embrace.

She'd seemed willing and, as Ranma found out when he moved his mouth
toward hers, he'd read her signals precisely right. Lips caressed, burning
with fiery passion and scorching all they touched. Bodies crushed against
one another, each so different and yet so alike, searching and finding
warmth, comfort and stimulation. Hands searched for new areas to explore
and familiar ones to revisit. The young man's senses were swimming,
spiraling in a whirlpool of passion. Faced with the choice of coming up or
drowning, he gently broke the clench and gasped in air.

Reiko looked up at him, light dancing in her lively green eyes, her
chest heaving as his did. She stared, as if trying to read the thought
foremost on his mind, that he wanted her so badly, that he wanted to
culminate their explosion of passion in a union of ecstasy.

"Yes," she said softly, the corners of her delightful mouth curled
ever so slightly.

Holding his gaze the entire time, Reiko reached down and pulled off
her top. She fumbled awkwardly with her bra, finally undoing the clasp
and allowing it to slip down her arms. Ranma reached out tentatively and
cupped one breast in his right hand, lightly dragging his thumb across
the nipple. He knew from personal experimentation how sensitive the
nipple could be. Reiko's eyes closed and air hissed in through parted
teeth. It was not an unpleasant sound.

At once her eyes opened and stared with unconcealed lust for him.
Her grin widened.

"You like that?" Ranma smirked.

"You knew I would, you bad boy," Reiko grinned slyly, squirming as
he kept working her nipple. "Bet I can get undressed before you."

"You have a head start," chuckled Ranma.

He pulled off his shirt as Reiko shimmied out of her skirt and
panties. Her hands folded over his and together they removed his pants
and underwear, giggling with playful joy.

Then their mood grew somber as they faced each other, naked and
exposed, confronted with the final step that lay before them. Reiko
jammed her face up to his, their lips locked. Ranma's arms curled around
Reiko. She molded herself to his body. The couple teetered over
backwards and Reiko fell on top of Ranma, his erection jutting between
her legs. They kissed long and hard, then paused long enough for Reiko
to guide Ranma inside her.
* * * *
Akane sat on the roof overlooking the walk to the front door. Her
chin was cupped in her hands. Her martial arts gi fell open just enough
to reveal the line of her cleavage. It went unattended. Akane had spent
two hours beating out her frustration and anger on her practice dummy,
then came straight up to the roof outside her bedroom to watch for Ranma
where no one else would spot her.

"Where are you, you big jerk?" she sighed.

Impressions of the street had burned onto her retinas. Akane
glanced away long enough to relieve the strain on her neck, then returned
to her vigil.

"Maybe something awful's happened to him," she whispered.

The idea gave her an ounce of comfort and she clung desperately to
it. Maybe he'd been in an accident. Maybe one of his many enemies had
finally beaten him and he lay bleeding in a gutter or was hiding in some
wooded area, too ashamed to face her - - them. As horrible as all of those
possibilities were, they were still preferable to the alternative: that
she'd finally driven him away.

Akane's breath shuddered, but she held firm. She wasn't going to
cry over him. Yes, he'd broken his back trying to apologize this morning;
but what good were his apologies if he only kept hurting her again and
again and again? The words grew to have no meaning. And the big goof
barged in on a private intimate moment. There was no telling how long
he'd been staring, leering at her. And she was just supposed to shrug
her shoulders and forget that?

"Mmmmm," groaned Akane.

That brought her out of her reverie with a start. The memory of
Ranma's intrusion triggered the memory of which young sex-changing boy's
image she'd been masturbating to in the first place. Alarmed, Akane
looked down. Her hand was between her legs. It had been rubbing her gi
against her clitoris.

"Face it," Akane whispered to herself, hot tears bubbling over her
eyelids and trickling down her cheeks. "Ranma is your curse and you're
never going to escape it."
* * * *
"OH! AH! AH! AH! AH! AHHH! AHHHHHH!" Reiko sighed. It was
music to Ranma's ears and sent him over the edge. Moments later the
couple lay curled up with each other in the corner of the dark room.

"When do your parents get home," mumbled Ranma, his mouth
decorated with a satisfied grin.

"Don't worry," purred Reiko. "You can stay as long as you like."

"Sounds good," he murmured.

Reiko kissed his chest, then stroked it lightly with her hand. He
looked so peaceful. Her chest swelled.

"I kind of planned this," she admitted. "I've been admiring you
for months, but - - well, you seemed involved. But fate gave me a chance
today and I took it. And it made all of my suffering worthwhile."

"Sure, Akane," Ranma mumbled as he drifted off to sleep. "Anything
you say."

The silence in the room was cavernous.
* * * *
It was about five that Ranma stirred. His initial thought was to
kick Genma for waking him. He managed to catch himself in time,
realizing the body next to him was not Genma. Reiko stirred upon his
stirring.

"Hi," she smiled sweetly.

"Hi," Ranma grinned. "Boy, we had a time last night, didn't we?"

"We did. It was almost perfect."

"Almost?"

"You called me `Akane' before you fell asleep.

Ramna's eyes rolled back in his head and his shoulders slumped.
Why, he asked himself, did he always do stuff like that? Did every god
in the universe have it in for him?

"Reiko, I'm sorry," he moaned. "It's just..."

"It's just that it's too soon," Reiko said, putting her hand on his.
"It was a slip of the tongue. I understand."

"You do?"

"Sure. After all," she grinned, "I'm the one you gave the wonderful
night to."

Ranma couldn't help gaping.

"You are the most amazing girl," he marveled. "Akane would have
hit me with the breakfast table."

"Oh come now," she giggled, stretching her perky round torso.
"You're exaggerating."

"Not really."

"We all make mistakes," she said sweetly. "It's the intent that's
important. If someone you love, um, like, is honest with you, you have
to forgive them."

Reiko got up and went into the bathroom, leaving Ranma to think.
He had the ultimate test for her little theory, all right. Did he dare
tell her? Did he dare not? Ranma sighed in frustration.

"Reiko," Ranma said slowly upon her return. "I've got something
to show you, and I'm not sure you're going to like it."

With the young beauty looking curiously at him, Ranma got up. He
trudged like a condemned man to the sink and poured out a pan full of
water. Trudging back in, he stood face to face with Reiko and dumped
the water over his head.

"There's this little problem I have," girl-type Ranma squeaked.

"The curse?" Reiko said cheerfully. "I know all about that."

"You do?"

"Sure! Remember, I've been watching you for months," Reiko replied.
"And I'm not nearly as stupid as the other folks in school."

"And it doesn't bother you?"

"Well, I have to admit I like you better as a boy, but - - I like
you, Ranma. Sure, the package is hot, but I like what's inside, too.
You're strong and mysterious, but all I have to do is look and I can
see you're kind and good. The outside package isn't going to change
how I feel about you."

"Wow."

Reiko looked down then, troubled by a sudden pang.

"I suppose since you were totally honest with me, I should be
totally honest with you," she said.

Ranma gulped.

"OK. You met my secret bravely," Ranma said, steeling her resolve.
"I'll meet yours with similar bravery and try to be as understanding as
you."

Reiko went into the kitchen and returned with a pan of water. She
faced the girl-type, then dumped the water over her own head.

Ranma went pale.
* * * *
Akane was pulled from her bed by a loud crash. It sounded to her
still fuzzy mind like a door had been pushed in--or maybe a wall.

Foregoing a robe, she stumbled out into the living room, Nabiki and
Soun close on her heels. There in the farthest corner, shadowed in the
dim light of morning, was a naked, cowering figure.

"RANMA!" they all gasped, but it was Akane who tore to his side.
She knelt down next to the shaking girl and touched her shoulder.

"AAAAAAAH!" she screamed, whirling around to defend herself. Akane
flinched back.

"Oh! It's you," Ranma panted, her bare chest heaving. "Oh, it was
awful!"

"What?" Akane gasped. "What happened?"

"And what happened to the girl?" Nabiki added.

"GIRL? WHAT GIRL?" roared Soun.

"Daddy, not now!" snapped Akane. "Ranma, what was it? What
happened?"

"I have seen the very face of hell," Ramna said, staring blankly,
his voice a horrific sepulchral tone that chilled Akane. "I have
ventured where no man should go. My life is over."

"Oh, Ranma," sobbed Akane.

"I think you're over-reacting just a little," came a voice from
behind.

The Tendo clan turned to the hole where their front door used to
be. Standing in the frame was a young man about Ranma's age. He was
boyishly handsome and dressed indifferently, as if in a hurry. Ranma
took one look at him and screamed.

"YOU KEEP AWAY FROM ME!" she bellowed.

"Just who are you?" demanded Soun.

"I'm Ranma-chan's girlfriend," the boy smiled happily. "We're
very much in love."

Soun's eyes bugged out. Even Nabiki was thrown.

"OH MY GOD!" wailed Akane. "I knew I'd driven you away, but I
didn't think I could drive you into the arms of another MAN!"

"WE'RE NOT IN LOVE!" Ranma roared.

"Then why did you spend the night in my arms?" demanded the boy.

"OH MY GOD!" wailed Akane.

"Well, Ranma?" Soun asked thinly.

"It's not what it looks like!" Ranma-chan growled. "He was a girl
last night!"

"THAT'S EVEN WORSE!" Akane bellowed, cuffing Ranma on the back of
the head.

"What are you saying? He's a demon?" demanded Soun.

"NO, HE'S A PERVERT!" howled Ranma.

"Oh, everybody's up," chirped Kasumi. "I'll get breakfast."

"Wait, wait!" shouted the boy. "I can explain all of this if
you'll all let me!"

"Great," smiled Nabiki. "The movie rights to this will be worth a
million easy."

After a few minutes, in which Akane was convinced to stop hitting
Ranma, Ranma reverted to his boy-type, Nabiki got a pen and paper to take
notes, Genma was roused out of bed and Kasumi served breakfast, the two
families sat down to listen.

"First off, my name's not Reiko," the boy admitted. "It's Ryoichi.
Reiko was my mother's name. They're gone now. I live on my own a few
blocks over."

Ranma maintained his cross-legged, cross-armed glare while the
others listened intently.

"About two years ago I was in China, taking a tour," Ryoichi
continued. "We were looking at these strange springs. I got too close,
slipped and fell in one."

"Oh my god," Akane gasped. "It wasn't the Spring of the Drowned
Girl, was it?"

"Uh huh," he nodded. Ranma gaped. "What, you thought you're the
only one who ever fell into that spring in fifteen hundred years? They
ought to put a fence around the thing."

"Then you have the curse, too?" Akane asked.

"Curse?" Ryoichi said. "In a way, it's the best thing that ever
happened to me. You see - - I'm gay. And what better way to make it with
cute guys than as a girl. Nobody looks down on you. You don't have to
hide your preferences. You don't have to deal with close-minded jerks,"
and he glanced at Ranma, "most of the time."

"Hey, you lied to me!" snapped Ranma.

"Quiet, adulterer!" Akane snarled, smacking the back of Ranma's
head.

"No, he's right," Ryoichi said, glancing down in shame. "I figured
he'd be more receptive to going out with me if I came on to him as a
girl."

"You...came on to him?" Akane choked.

"Yeah. I mean, he's so gorgeous, I just couldn't resist," grinned
Ryoichi. "You probably understand that, huh Akane?"

"M-Me?" Gasped an agitated Akane, looking down and stiffening
perceptibly. "Why ask me?"

"Well, I mean, I knew you two were seeing each other. But whenever
I saw you two you were always fighting or not speaking to each other.
I thought I had a shot." Ryoichi rubbed the back of his neck while Ranma
and Akane exchanged guilty looks. "I just figured that I could get him
to love me and...if he loved me, the fact that I started out a guy
wouldn't matter."

The room grew eerily quiet.

"That's so sad," sniffed Kasumi.

"I think you need to do the honorable thing, son," Genma said
solemnly.

"I'M NOT MARRYING A GUY, OLD MAN!" snapped Ranma.

"Ranma?" Ryoichi said, appealing pitifully to him. "I'm still the
same person you slept with inside."

"Look, I'm," Ranma stammered, unable to look Ryoichi in the eye,
"sorry. I can't."

"But...but I thought we," Ryoichi whispered, "connected."

"We did," Ranma murmured. "It's just...now I know why. I think
you better go."

Ryoichi uttered a deep sigh. He got slowly to his feet and headed
to the hole where the door had been. Before he exited, though, Ryoichi
turned back to him.

"Ranma," he said softly. "I understand."

Ranma, still staring at the floor, scrunched his features tight.
A tear escaped anyway.

Soon the only two in the living room were Ranma and Akane. Both
sat stiffly within arm's reach, not looking at the other one, each
waiting for the other to explode.

"I guess," Akane said finally, "I drove you to this."

"I shouldn't have done it," Ranma offered.

"Would you be quiet!" hissed Akane. "I'm trying to apologize!"

"You call that an apology?"

"Well you didn't have to jump into bed with her!"

"Well you don't have to be such a psycho all the time!"

Suddenly the pair realized they were nose to nose, yelling. Each
froze, shocked, then quickly retreated to their original positions. The
tension in the room was palpable.

"Are we going to be doing this for the rest of our lives?" Akane
asked, her voice a hoarse, haunted shell. She didn't turn to him.

"I don't know," Ranma answered softly, avoiding facing her. "I am
trying."

"Well try h..." Akane started to say, before she caught herself.
"I'm sorry."

Without looking, Ranma extended his hand back and felt along the
floor until he found Akane's, then closed his hand around hers. Akane
squeezed the hand tightly.
* * * *
Monday morning lunch at Furinkan High: Ranma sat by the same shade
tree munching absently on his lunch.

At once, his eye caught a pretty young girl by the school. In an
instant he recognized her as Ryoichi in his "Reiko" guise. She spotted
him and the two locked eyes for what seemed like an eternity, Reiko
looking up hopefully.

Finally Ranma looked away, his face clouded by guilt and shame.
Reiko cast her eyes to the ground in disappointment and continued on her
way.

END