Omiyage: Osaka IV
By Ninnik Nishukan
Author's note: Warning for rude language said by construction workers.
Things had been pretty calm at the construction site that day— well, things were never calm at a construction site during work hours, but Kenichi and his friends had been behaving, except for the occasional snicker and pointed finger when they thought he wasn't looking. Now, though, just as everybody was getting off work, they came sauntering over to him, advertising trouble.
"Is the okonomiyaki transv— I mean, is Ukyo coming to pick you up today?"
Ryoga peered critically at Kenichi. "Yeah, she is." He said eventually.
Kenichi grinned and elbowed his friend playfully. "Maybe I'll say hello to her, for old times' sake."
"Right," Ryoga said slowly, wondering if he could be fired if Ukyo beat up these guys when she arrived; she didn't work here, but if management found out she was his friend, was there any way they would have grounds to let him go?
Ukyo was just coming around the corner, walking into the construction site when she saw the small group of men surrounding Ryoga, caught his annoyed, discomfited stance and then when she heard the voice speak up—
Maybe it would be worth it, anyway, Ryoga thought to himself as one of Kenichi's friends leered at him. "Hey, Hibiki, is it true that your friend's a dyke?"
Ukyo felt all the white hot anger and embarrassment caused by the comment leave her like steam from a kettle until her teeth ground together with grim determination. She wasn't wearing any boys' clothing, any breast bindings or shoes that were too big for her, she didn't reek of cabbage and she had removed herself from the bitter little lump of past that had shoved her down that hurtful road to begin with.
Okay, that's it, Ryoga sighed heavily as he tossed his helmet onto the work table. He didn't like fighting those weaker than him, but fired or not, these guys were going to at least get a punch in the mouth for opening it and letting such offensive things spew out.
She'd show them all what a woman she really was, Ukyo thought, she'd shut Kenichi and his friends' mouths for good; the gossiping little twerps wouldn't even know what hit them. In a swish of skirts, she sailed towards them, bearing down on Ryoga.
"A girl dressing like that has to be the type to go for a little girl on girl action, am I right?" The friend went on, quite effectively writing his own obituary. He died of acute stupidity, Ryoga thought as he cricked his neck, getting ready to throw a punch. Theyoung man snickered, oblivious. "Too ugly to get a man, so she'll just have to settle for—"
Everybody turned their heads, disoriented at the sound of the bright, feminine cry, as a pretty young woman came running towards Hibiki, her dress and her ponytail flowing behind her. They couldn't fail to notice certain parts of her anatomy bouncing fetchingly, either.
Ukyo threw her arms wide open and embraced Ryoga, capturing his lips in a "hello, there" kind of kiss. She let one hand slide down to his hip while the other one rested against on the back of his neck, pulling him closer, her lips attacking his wetly.
Immediately, Ukyo felt his frame go rigid with the unexpected assault and she experienced a brief shot of guilt for putting him in this kind of position. There was a sharp, fast moment of panic as she contemplated how this would affect their friendship and whether he would pass out with a spurt of nasal blood and embarrass them both further.With a small gasp, she withdrew herself from Ryoga, breathing soundlessly once or twice before grabbing his hand to lead him out of the construction site.
She summoned up a falsely cheery smile and chirped at the astounded men: "Oh hi, Kenichi— didn't see you there!"
As she dragged Ryoga out of there, she listened to the results of her little performance.
"Who was that?"
"That…that was Kuonji Ukyo…" Kenichi sounded absolutely gobsmacked.
"Sure didn't look like a man to me!"
"Sorry, Hibiki, we didn't know she was your girlfriend! Sorry!" Someone called desperately after Ryoga.
Laughter of elation giving her winged feet even when they were well out of earshot, Ukyo all but skipped along. "We sure showed them, didn't we?" She said triumphantly, not really expecting an answer in all her preoccupied joy.
She didn't even notice Ryoga's hand shaking in hers before they'd almost reached the parking lot where she'd left the car.
"Ukyo…?" She heard him call for her tentatively, almost hoarsely; "U-Ukyo…can we just…stop?" He swallowed, squeezing her hand pleadingly. "J-just for a minute?"
And then the world, which had seemed obliviously trouble-free or at least in denial for about five seconds, completely skidded to a halt.
Ukyo turned to him, just as wide-eyed as he. Ryoga didn't look like he thought this had all been in good fun, and why should he, when she herself was now that very moment realizing the repercussions of what she'd done?
She'd just given Ryoga his very first, proper kiss, and by extension, he'd given her hers. This was not a fact which they could pass idly by.
Ukyo's head swam and her heart ached at the uncertain, frightened look on his face.
Ryoga exhaled tremulously. "D-did you…did you just do what you did because you just wanted to make those guys…?" His voice died in his throat.
The expression in his eyes begged her to tell him something different than what he suspected, and her shoulders sagged with the guilt. Sometimes she could be so very, very stupid in her own little ways.
"Ryoga…" She protested meekly, noticing that he'd let go of her hand at some point.
Ryoga bit his lip, staring down at the pavement as he struggled to hold in the tears that just kept pushing and pushing inside, demanding to be released, stinging his eyes ferociously. So this was how it was to be, huh? Every time he started thinking a girl might like him, reality saw fit to hammer some sense into his skull. No, scratch that, every time he saw a chance at happiness—
The kiss— a kiss from Ukyo— had been some of the happiest couple of seconds in his entire life, pure bliss filling up his bones, warming his body from the inside out. But that was just it— it had only been for a couple of seconds. Then confusion...then uncertainty and then sharp, relentless depression. She'd only done it to prove something to herself, to make those bullies shut up, she hadn't done it because she actually—
Letting out a shuddering sigh, Ryoga unclenched his fists, glancing at her. "You know…" he started shakily. "It would be so nice if just once I—" He paused, clenching his fists again. "I…I guess I just hoped that…" Shaking his head self-deprecatingly, he padded over to but stop bench to sit down.
Ukyo followed him helplessly, wringing her hands. "Ryoga…" She trailed off apologetically as she walked up to him, hovering beside the bench, not quite daring to sit down. "I'm so sorry for—"
Ryoga held up a hand, silencing her. "Can I just ask you one thing?" He said, his voice thick with emotion.
Ukyo stared at him, quickly nodding. "Anything, Ryoga."
Ryoga swallowed audibly before speaking. "Did it…was I…did you think it was good?" It obviously took him a lot of courage to ask the question.
Ukyo's eyes widened a bit further, her face flushing hotly. "I…um…I dunno, it happened so fast, I couldn't…um…" She murmured waveringly.
Misinterpreting her inability to give him a straight answer, Ryoga closed his eyes, nodding grimly. "I see."
Confused, Ukyo frowned deeply before actually realizing what he was on about. He thought she thought he'd been bad at it, that it'd been an awful experience for her, which was an especially hard blow to a first-time kisser. "I am such a stupid, stupid…" Ukyo muttered to herself, suddenly wanting very badly to be able to kick her own behind.
Her eyes softening, she went and joined Ryoga on the bench. He wouldn't look at her. She noticed he was shaking again, his fingers twitching, his eyes halfway hidden under his thick bangs. Touching his arm gently, she leaned towards him. "Ryoga…?" She squeezed his arm lightly to get his attention.
Finally he turned. She could see moisture in his eyes, but he wasn't crying. Not yet.
"Ryoga…" She began, looking into the warm brown of his eyes, her stomach tying itself in knots as she saw the hurt there. What she was about to say would be very daring, but it would be true, and she needed to finally make him understand. She couldn't just ask him to let her postpone her explanation again, like he'd let her do about her crying. "It…it was good, Ryoga." She said softly. "I just wish it'd been longer."
The pain fled Ryoga's eyes as they went wide with surprise. A soundless exclamation escaped him. There was a cracking sound as he, and seemingly without realizing it, reached out and broke the armrest of the bench between his fingers. Ukyo shivered a little at the intensity of his emotions.
"U-Ukyo…" He breathed, eyes full of awe and red tinting his cheeks as he absently poked little holes in the bench with his index finger. "Really?"
"Yes," she whispered fervently. Leaning into him, Ukyo took a deep breath, fighting for courage, before she caught his face in her hands and pressed her lips softly against his. She began to worry a bit when all she got in return was a kind of numb, frozen partner, and she was about to pull back—
Ukyo's eyes fluttered open in surprise when Ryoga's hitherto slack mouth pressed against hers, tryingly, then firmly before parting her lips gently with his. It was slightly clumsy— a couple of times she could feel the tips of his fangs prickling her, but they quickly managed to work around the problem— and she could tell he was inexperienced, but so was she, not knowing quite where to put her hands or how to breathe properly while kissing, and the fact was that simply allowing herself to realize exactly who she was kissing was enough to blow her mind.
Ukyo found herself whimpering with the contact, surprised to realize how much she'd in fact wanted this.
A low moan escaped Ukyo as she closed her eyes and leaned further into him. Her hand strayed from his hip and travelled up to his arm, clutching it, a hot flush blasting up her spine at the feel of the rigid muscles combined with all the sensations he was causing in her with his mouth.
Ryoga almost felt like he was running on auto pilot. He was astonished that he was even doing this, that he wasn't fainting or fumbling, that he was actually able to do this in what seemed to be an acceptable way, even though he'd never done it before.
Despite the fact that they were both a bit uncertain as to how to do this, they managed to work it out eventually, and he was glad that she was as inexperienced as him, because that took the edge off of the performance anxiety for him. The soft, needy noises she was making were like pure beauty pouring into his mind through his ears, because they told him beyond a shadow of a doubt, even more so than the words she'd confessed to him, that she liked this, that she wanted this, that she was not only accepting his lips, but very happily so.
His hands rested by his sides, his fingers twitching with need, but he didn't know what to do with them and didn't want to spoil the moment, and to be honest, his mind was already having a hard time even controlling his lips, as joy and pleasure assaulted his senses.
When they pulled apart, Ukyo felt that this had to be what it might feel to get drunk, as the world seemed slightly hazy and too nice and her head was spinning just a little. She exhaled heavily, leaning against his chest. When she felt she'd managed to calm down a little, she leaned back so she could look at his face.
He looked like what she would imagine the sole survivor from a nasty accident would look like as he crawled out of the wreckage, taking deep lungfuls of air and realizing, in a burst of manic joy, that he was still alive. He looked scared, like he had no idea what to do, yet somehow immensely happy to find himself where he was. Ukyo imagined she had to look a lot the same way. Smiling dizzily, she reached out and brushed a few stray strands of hair from his face.
"U-Ukyo…" There seemed to be some kind of question in that shivering puff of breath, some kind of question in his eyes, huge and filling up her vision with their shiny blacks, whites and browns.
He wanted to know how she felt. There were so many things she could tell him, but she wasn't quite ready yet; she'd only barely figured out that she loved him yesterday, and she was still overwhelmed by it.
She knew she would need some time to sort those emotions out before telling him. Ukyo decided to start out small. "Ryoga, um…the thing is…I really like you and I'm…I've wanted to kiss you like this for a while." She licked her lips, her face reddening. "I'm really attracted to you."
Ryoga sucked in a shocked, yet excited breath. "Wh-what?"
"Yeah," She didn't bother repeating herself, because she knew he'd heard her. "I am."
His mind exploded at her concession, the pure exhilaration making his head fuzzy, coloured spots appearing in front of his eyes. He closed his eyes for a brief moment, soaking up this completely new kind of reality he had to relate to now; she thought he was— she wanted to— she said…!
And she was waiting for a response.
"Ukyo," He began intently, meeting her gaze, his expression fevered, his lips trembling; the only time she'd ever seen him look anything like this was in the midst of battle, letting his emotions take him over completely. "You…I'm…me too!" He finally settled on.
There was a faint smile on her lips. "So I guess…I guess you won't mind it if I kiss you again?"
Why was she even asking? Leaning forward, he pushed his face into hers, meeting her lips. He heard Ukyo swallow a gasp as he kissed her insistently, his wet lips pushing hers open.
In the back of her mind, there was a voice that told her that this was beginning to get a bit intimate for a public display, but it was quickly quieted as his tongue entered her mouth, hungrily probing. Suddenly he seemed a whole lot more aggressive.
Ryoga's chest burned with trying to contain his emotions, his head feeling hot and his brain far too busy. She felt too wonderful, her warm, slender fingers skating across his skin through his T-shirt, her sweet, wet, hot tongue willingly tangling with his and tasting like tea and spices and happiness and eagerness and pure affection and everything that was good and right in the world.
Oh gods, Ukyo thought, the warmness of him, the softness and salty wetness of his lips and tongue, the strength of his embrace—
It was when he clutched her to himself that it dawned on Ukyo that he hadn't in fact touched her so far, except with his lips and tongue. So far it had only been her that had embraced him.
Casting that thought away, she sucked his lower lip into her mouth and nibbled on it a little, listening to his breathing going harsh and his grip tightening—
—felt her chest constrict, her ribs creaking ominously—
"R-Ryoga!" She forced her head back, wheezing. "Y-you're…h-hurting…LET GO!" She screamed, terrified for an instant as everything suddenly seemed to spin out of control out of nowhere.
Ryoga let go of her as soon as he heard the cry, scrambling backwards on the bench in a flash, his eyes wide and deathly afraid as he stared at her from the other side of the bench, shocked beyond reason.
He hadn't expected that. That hadn't happened since—
He'd almost been able to repress the incident with Akane that one time, when he'd been so close to giving her a hug so strong it could crush large wooden poles, but now the memory bubbled up to the surface again like scum, a dark and sharp and painful presence in his mind.
He hadn't thought he would ever do it again.
He had hoped he wouldn't.
He'd thought he would be fine— after all, he'd hugged Ukyo before without losing it— but the problem was that always before, there had been some semblance of control, some amount of restraint in him whenever she acted in a way that might give him some hope that she felt something for him, or in a way that made it seem as if something might happen.
Their friendship had worked as some sort of mental blockade for him, not only making him more comfortable and relaxed around her than other girls, but also unconsciously making him refuse to believe that her affection towards him was sexual in any way.
Holding his hand? Nothing but a sign of friendship and support.
Hugging him? Nothing but a sign of having missed an absent friend.
Kissing his cheek? Nothing but an attempt to build his confidence for the Moko Takabisha.
Even the intimate hug in the bathroom could only have happened because she was simply upset that he might be leaving. There was no other reason. Right?
There was always the risk of heartbreak as a cause of misinterpretation, so he never dared to really assume anything.
But now, when she'd purposely hauled off and kissed him right on the lips and then did it again, so he couldn't rationalize it as some sort of fluke, all his self-restraint had snapped like an old rubber band.
Even the most timid heart, even the most insecure person couldn't explain that away.
For him, such an intimate kiss on the lips could only mean affirmation of sexual attraction and maybe even love. But worse than the physical contact had been the words she'd told him, words that unleashed something in him as she confessed her feelings for him, her interest in him as more than just a friend— those words had broken the chains of fear and shyness wrapped around his heart, and he'd just been overwhelmed with emotions, suddenly excited and aggressive.
Nosebleeds and fainting were nothing; those could also simply be reactions to girls in general. The much worse reactions would only come when he thought his affections towards a particular girl were being requited, and especially if she showed it physically, because such a thing simply blew his mind.
And he understood, now, that losing control was something you simply could not do if you were Hibiki Ryoga. If Ranma hadn't been there that day when Akane had hugged him under the influence of Shampoo's Amazon tricks and he'd gotten it into his head to show her the same kind of affection, what would have happened? Would he have almost have broken her ribs as well? Would he have broken her ribs?
He'd always thought, later, that he'd been so out of bounds that day because he'd been so desperate to end his extreme loneliness, but he hadn't been lonely lately, so why did this happen to him…?
As she looked at her shocked expression, at her arm nursing her ribs, he felt completely sick with fear and guilt, his stomach churning and his heart pinching in his chest, panic rising in him like the inevitable tide.
And he'd promised her father the very day before that he'd never hurt his daughter, too! He'd promised!
So he did the only thing he could do, and ran away.
Ukyo's mind drew a blank as he watched him leave, as if the world was suddenly moving in slow motion, but abruptly, everything snapped back into fast, hard reality, and she scrambled off of the bench and to her feet, taking off after him at a run.
"Stop, you jerk!" She screamed, accelerating so that she was now sprinting after him. Good grief, what a day to wear a dress and sandals on! Snapping up a discarded tricycle that some kid must've left there, she aimed as she ran, hurling it straight at his head. "STOP!"
It didn't faze him the least.
"RYOGA!" She bellowed, picking up yet more speed. Growling low in her throat in frustration, she finally gained on him, and with a savage cry, she tackled him, knocking him to the ground. She wasn't that heavy, but the running gave her momentum, she was angry enough to put some real quality muscle behind the attack, and she obviously had the element of surprise on her side; Ryoga went down like a sack of flour.
"Where the hell do you think you're going?" She demanded, twisting his arm behind his back as if she was a police officer in the process of apprehending a dangerous criminal or something. Driving her knee into his lower back, she forced him to quit struggling. When he finally settled down— she could tell that the struggling had been quite half-hearted in any case— she released him and flipped him over, pulling him to his feet by his arm.
Her breath went sketchy when she saw his face, streaked with dust and tears, his expression radiating guilt and pain.
Ryoga stared up at her, saw her crooked sundress, saw her ponytail hanging lopsidedly, half undone from its bow, saw her angry, yet pleading eyes and her face, red with desperate exertion.
"Where are you going?" She repeated, her voice curiously low and steady. "You said you wouldn't leave at the first sign of trouble. You promised."
His breath hitched wetly in his chest, his voice broken and thick. "I...I am the trouble, Ukyo! I need to go...I have to go..."
"No." She said firmly, sounding cool and composed, yet Ryoga could see tears forming in the corners of her eyes. "No. You don't have to do anything except come home with me so we can talk about this."
"B-but...Ukyo..." He objected feebly, his heart twisting painfully; he'd made her cry. He'd hurt her, and he'd made her cry. It was not okay, he could not just go home with her after something like that—
"Don't. Not now." She shook her head, and a tear dropped from her eye, splashing his cheek. It cut him to the core, and suddenly he could do nothing but obey her after all. If this was what she wanted, he'd do it for her, no matter how much self-loathing was churning in his stomach right then, blackening his mind. Ukyo wanted him to follow her, so he did.
Nodding, he looked up at her solemnly, agreeing to her request.
They wordlessly dusted off and straightened out their clothes, Ukyo tightening her dissolving ponytail again.
There was silence as he followed her to the car, and neither said anything when she started up the engine and pulled out on the road.
After about five minutes, however, he had the urge to speak despite everything.
"Why are you wearing a dress?" He asked faintly, sounding like he'd only just discovered the fact.
"I wanted to look nice for you." Ukyo replied quietly, and that seemed to end all conversation for the rest of the drive. For the moment, her reply told him everything he needed to know.
When they arrived at her father's house, he wasn't there. Wherever he was, out grocery shopping or visiting their neighbour, he wasn't there, and Ukyo felt relieved. She'd have hated to have to answer any difficult questions, such as why her dress was dirty, why it looked like she'd been crying again or why both she and Ryoga looked completely emotionally exhausted and rattled.
Her father would have only jumped to the wrong kind of conclusions, she knew.
Ryoga looked at Ukyo's back as she toed off her sandals in the genkan. Her ponytail was still a little ruffled, and there was a stain of road dust on the side of her pretty dress.
What were they supposed to do now? He wondered as he stepped out of his shoes, his breath turning shallow as he began getting nervous. She seemed so determined to not let him leave, but for how long would that last? How long would it take for her to realize what a harmful freak he was? How long would it take her to decide that what she wanted out of a guy wasn't someone who might crush her ribs whenever they hugged?
Dark, heavy self-hatred rolled in his mind as he followed her into the living room with dragging steps. By agreeing to come with her, he was only setting himself up for heart ache, he knew that, because she would never want—
He wasn't paying attention, his gaze trained on the floor, and suddenly he almost bumped into Ukyo, who'd stopped in front of the tea table and was looking at him with an indecipherable expression on her face.
"Ukyo...?" He asked warily, trying to take a step back from their close proximity, but she stopped him by gently encircling his wrist with her hand.
"Ryoga, I..." Her voice was trembling, and so was the hand that she raised to cup his face, he realized. "I think we could work this out..." She murmured, her face approaching his.
"N-no..." He objected, but his voice was so small it didn't sound like a real protest at all, and as she placed her lips over his in a tender, vulnerable kind of lingering kiss, nothing like the passionate kisses they'd shared before, her fingers curling tightly into the front of his shirt, his heart shivered as he became aware that she was as shaken as him by what had happened, and was trying to be careful. Somehow, she still wanted him, but she was also just a little apprehensive, and he would have to do his best to keep his hands away from her.
If it were up to him, they wouldn't be kissing at all, and he'd be running away to let her lead a happier, less painful life than she would with him, but now that they were, he couldn't bring himself to end it, both because she would be hurt again if he broke it off, but also because it felt so good...
As Ukyo briefly parted their lips so they could breathe, she halted abruptly on her way to rejoin their lips when she caught sight of what he was doing.
Ryoga was holding his arms out like some kid pretending to be an airplane. If it hadn't been for the tense, terrified look on his face, Ukyo might've been inclined to find the whole thing funny.
"What are you doing?" She asked softly.
"I'm…tr-trying not to touch you…!" Ryoga said between gritted teeth.
"…what?" There was a drop in Ukyo's stomach. He didn't want to touch her?
"I couldn't…if I was…I don't want to hurt you again!" Ryoga backtracked at the hurt expression on her face; she'd obviously misinterpreted his words. Gods, was there no end to how he would wound her today?
Ukyo paused, frowning a little before she sighed softly; how was she supposed to help him get over that? "It's nothing, you just bruised me a little," she said, trying to appease him, "I'm a martial artist, I've had much, much worse. I'm perfectly fine."
"I 'just bruised' you?" Ryoga choked on a sob, trembling; how could she even be forgiving him after what he'd done? "U-Ukyo…you don't understand! That's not 'just'! We were kissing, not fighting! I'm not supposed to have hurt you at all! I'm horrible! I'm a stupid, out-of-control monster!"
Ukyo let out a worried, exasperated breath. "Ryoga, I really think you're overreacting—"
"I'm not! Do you know how this feels for me? I've hurt you! What if I do it again?" Tears were flowing freely down his face now, and she winced as she looked at him. It was a terrible thing to see another person in such a state of sorrow, especially when it was somebody you cared about. "I'm too afraid to even shake your hand now! Do you understand?"
"Ryoga…" She appealed, trying to meet his gaze.
"What if I do it again?" He repeated silently, voice lowering; it was obvious that he was far from calm, though. "Will you still be attracted to me?" He asked with bitter sarcasm, sounding exhausted.
"Ryoga, please," she begged, her breath hitching in her chest when he flinched away as she went to touch his arm. "Why don't we just try to relax a little and then try it again? I'm sure we can find some way to do this, can't we?" She'd longed to kiss him, but when the moment finally came— this was just too much! There had to be a way! "Please," she went on. "I really want to kiss you again," she told him, hoping such an open admission would make him feel better again. "And I really want you to feel like it's okay to kiss me, too."
Giving her a long, uncertain look, he suddenly buried his face in his hands, his shoulders shaking.
Her gaze softening with sympathy, she went to stroke his back soothingly, but then his head shot up abruptly, his fists shaking. "Fuck!" He bellowed, his voice raw with pain. "This is so fucking UNFAIR!"
She'd never heard him swear like that before, and realized he had to be a lot more upset than she'd thought. What with his mercurial moods, it was sometimes hard to tell the difference between him just being melodramatic and when he was in real pain.
"Ryoga," she said in a low voice, watching him pant with the emotional strain. "If you do a Shi Shi Hokodan in my father's house, I'm gonna be really mad." And her father would be right in what he'd warned her about, which she would never be able to recover from. Neither would her father's opinions of Ryoga.
His shoulders sagged a little as he seemed to notice the dark aura gathering up around him. As he attempted to even out his breathing and calm himself down, the aura gradually vanished, like ceiling lights being dimmed. "Sorry…I'm really very, very sorry…" He told her in a dead voice.
Shaking her head, she moved closer to him, slowly sliding her arms around him and resting her forehead against his jaw line, which was working furiously as he tried to control himself. "Just…relax, all right? It's just me, okay? Just…don't tense up…and it's not so bad…is it?"
"No, it's not bad…" He told her in a strained voice. "It's v-very good, I'm just afraid that I'll—"
"Shhh," She whispered, motioning him to sit down with her on the couch, leaning against his side, holding his arm and putting her head on his shoulder.
After a while, she heard him sigh softly. "I just…I really don't see why you even bother with me…"
"Yeah, well," Ukyo said lightly, "I do see why, so just…shhh, okay?"
"O-okay," He relented, gently lowering his head on top of hers on his shoulder, exhaling at the feel of her warm temple and her soft hair against his face.
Humming a little in the back of her throat, Ukyo placed the fingertips of one hand on the center of his chest, lightly rubbing in circles. When this didn't seem to upset him noteworthy, she leaned closer and placed a tiny kiss on his neck, right below his ear. This coaxed a small groan out of him, and his head lolled backwards, resting on the back of the couch. He closed his eyes.
Encouraged by this, she leaned closer to him, trailing a path of light kisses upwards until she reached his lips. Before she could kiss him there, though, she met with his eyes, now open and looking a little fearful.
"Hhh…" He made this odd, breathy noise before dipping his head down, pressing his mouth to hers. Elated that he was taking the initiative since it proved that it wasn't just her that wanted this, she let go of an appreciative sound and pushed herself against his chest, her breasts squishing against him, and kissed him back with joy, her mouth falling open and the kiss turning warm and wet.
A protesting, little sound escaped him then before he dragged himself from her embrace, panting heavily when he leaned back.
"Ryoga, what's...?" She swallowed, stumped by the course of events. What did he want?
"I…I can't…I can't control myself," He gasped, and her gaze dropped to his hand, clenched so tightly that his knuckles where white, and saw that he had punched right through one of the throw pillows on the couch. "We h-have to stop."
Ukyo was starting to feel exasperated. "But…but it's just a kiss!" She objected. "It's not like we're…I mean, we're not, you know…having sex or anything,"
Colour rose to his face. "N-no…but you're…you were leaning…and your b-breasts…against me…and your hand…"
Following his gaze downwards, she was stunned to see that she was resting her hand quite far up his thigh, and she quickly snatched it away. "S-sorry!"
"It's okay…" His voice trailed off, his face only darkening further in colour.
"I just don't understand this," Ukyo sighed, slumping back into the couch. "I mean, we're both single and I want to kiss you and you want to kiss me and that should be it, right? There shouldn't be any complications now!" She nearly wailed.
Ryoga looked down at his dangerous hands, hating them. "S-sorry…"
Ukyo let out a heavy breath. "I still think we should be able to kiss without any bodily harm being involved," She began hopefully.
Ryoga cringed. "I can't…I couldn't…if you were hurt and it was my fault…"
Shaking her head, Ukyo picked up the punctured throw pillow, staring fixedly at it. "It just doesn't make any sense," she muttered. "Why is this happening to you?"
Bowing his head in shame, he wouldn't meet her eyes, staring instead at her knee when he finally answered, the explanation coming out tryingly, in fragments. "I don't know…it's just…this is all very overwhelming for me…I've always dreamed of…I mean, I've always wanted something like this, s-someone like you, and now…" He swallowed.
"I know I've always been too emotional…and too physically strong, which isn't a very good combination…but I didn't think it w-was this bad…!" Drawing a hand through his thick hair, he pulled out his bandanna and looked at it where it lay in his hand. "I think…I think I've been alone for too long…so I always react so oddly…to everything…I feel everything too intensely, and I feel like I'm always too involved, too desperate…I'm— I'm just not good at distancing myself from things…" He glanced up at her, his eyes looking too bright. "…especially when it comes to you."
"I don't mind that," Ukyo told him in a small voice.
His breath hitched when he looked at her and saw the unwavering acceptance in her eyes, his bandanna dropping from his hand to the floor. "D-don't you see how…how hard this is for me? It's so hard for me to— to even get over the fact that you seem to accept me so— so easily like that! Because I can't understand it! Can't you see how screwed up I am?" He asked. "It was okay when we were just friends, but now you're saying you're— that you want to— I mean, I admit I had some delusions that we could be together like that, and I was so excited when we— but, but now I see that I can't even kiss you without hurting you or— or the furniture! It'll never work! I'll ruin your life!"
Something in her snapped. "Ruin my— okay, you know what? I've had enough of this!" She declared, grabbing his shirt and shaking him a little. "Can you just stop? Are you even listening to yourself? I know you're insecure, but Ryoga…if you haven't already forgotten, we've already lived together for more than a month! And that worked, didn't it? Don't you remember that whole speech I made to you about how nice it was to have you around? How I felt like I wasn't lonely anymore? Because I certainly don't remember mentioning anything about you ruining my life! Do you?"
"N-no, but…that was then." He said evasively. "Now it's just…more complicated."
Ukyo looked at him closely. "Maybe so, but it's also better! It's gonna be better! Can't you just try?"
Ryoga ground his teeth in frustration. "Ukyo, I'm not stupid! I mean, I know I'm not exactly the most confident of people, but I'm not— I'm not a masochist! Do you really think I'd say no to you for no other reason than to make myself miserable?" He asked her intensely, trying to make her understand.
"Do you really think I'd see you, offering me— do you think I'd reject you just because I was being a self-pitying moron? Do you really think I can't see what's right in front of me? It's got nothing to do with that! I can't be with you because I'm hurting you! I can't let you be with a guy that'll— who's gonna end up sending you to the hospital just because you wanted a hug!" He wailed. "Nobody deserves that, least of all you!"
"Why don't you let me decide that!" Ukyo snapped.
Ryoga's voice went softer, then, trembling with regret. "I almost hurt Akane like this, one time, because Shampoo had made it look like she liked me. Everything turned out okay because Ranma was there, but Akane said that...that she felt sorry for whoever ended up being my girlfriend...and I can't let that be you. Do you understand?"
"You promised you wouldn't leave!" She reminded him fiercely.
"I also promised your father I'd never hurtyou!" He announced emphatically.
After receiving that interesting bit of news, she stared at him for a moment before speaking again. "Don't you see that it would hurt me a whole lot more if you left me than what a couple of broken ribs would?" She asked him, her voice quiet.
He closed his eyes briefly, as if in pain. "Don't say that..."
"Look, we can make this work, okay?" She pressed.
He just shook his head slowly. "I c-can't...I care about you too much to do that to you."
"I can take it." She insisted, squeezing his arm reassuringly.
It didn't seem to work, however, as Ryoga only kept on shaking his head stubbornly, his eyes shining with inner conflict before he looked away.
Ukyo bit her lip in thought for a moment before deciding to change tacks.
"Listen, I know you're not easy to live with at times, but I know I'm not easy to live with, either!" She began firmly. "And how can we be easy to live with? We've both lived alone for a long time! Sometimes I get really mad because I don't know what your deal is with making things so hard all the time, but I've also noticed that I'm not too…uh, that maybe I oversimplify things sometimes, that I'm too, you know, 'snap out of it' and 'come on', and just maybe sort of bossy and insensitive, and that I could use to learn some patience, and I…I feel that living with you…well, it's started to teach me patience." She told him a bit sheepishly, shrugging.
Ryoga listened to her speech in silence, his thoughts going a mile a minute as he tried to digest everything she was saying. It seemed as if he'd honestly, truly had an impact on another person, and not just in the sense that he'd kept her company; he'd also seemed to change her way of thinking a little, and frankly it overwhelmed him. He hadn't known quite how much he mattered to her.
"Usually I'm never this patient, so I figure it must be because…because I really care." She confessed timidly. "I care about how you're doing, I care about not hurting you. And so I try to adapt, and I've noticed that you've been doing the same thing, trying to get along with me, trying not to be so sorry for everything and daring to speak your mind, daring to joke. And I like that I'm responsible for that."
"That was only for a month, Ukyo," He mumbled, almost tempted to give in but not allowing himself to out of fear. So he resisted. "If we lived together again, soon enough you'd realize you'd be better off with someone like Ranma."
"Oh, don't be stupid!" She barked, disbelieving at how he still clung onto his negative thinking despite everything she was telling him. "Now you're just wallowing in self-pity here! Don't even bring him into this! I'm not even engaged to him anymore, didn't you hear?" She huffed. "And I don't want anyone like him, either, I want you! Do you really think something like him would be so much easier to live with than you?" She demanded, not keen to put Ranma down, but utterly tired of Ryoga's damn inferiority complex when it came to the other boy, and disappointed that he was even bringing it up when he knew— he had to know how she felt, right? So how could he still—
"He's got a curse, too, y'know," she reminded him, "and he goes off on training trips with his father so often that he'd probably be gone almost as often as you! Not to mention he seems to attract every kind of trouble known to man! The Tendos can keep patching up their dojo, but I sure as hell can't afford needing constant repairs on my restaurant!"
"B-but he probably wouldn't have any problems with something as simple as— as kissing a girl!" Ryoga blurted desperately.
Ukyo rolled her eyes. "Oh, please, are we even talking about the same person? Have you seen him with girls?"
"B-but…"He stammered, momentarily unable to find a retort, because everything she was saying was of course true.
She shook her head. "And no matter how much I complain about you being depressed, I also think that Ranma is a bit too easygoing for me, like he wouldn't think the same things are important that I do." She smiled wryly. "As awful as it may sound, I can relate to some of the bitterness you still feel, especially when it comes to him."
Ryoga just sat speechlessly, then, listening to her.
"And at least I hold your attention," she went on, "With you, I feel like I'm important to you. With you, I feel like I'm needed and wanted and..." She paused briefly to clear her throat as her voice went slightly thicker with emotion. "I feel like you'd stick up for me, like you'd stick around as best as you could, like you wouldn't ditch me for somebody else." Leaning forward, she looked imploringly into his eyes, willing him to understand. "I trust you, Ryoga."
Ryoga could feel his throat constrict as he heard the straight, true words she told him, as she told him things that he'd thought about her as well; that was exactly how he felt when he was with her, as if he was somebody, as if he was important to her, and as she kept on trying to convince him, it was getting harder and harder to resist her, but he knew he had to do it for her own good. "But it's not just this..." He gulped. "It's not just that I can't control my body. You don't know…how I might get…I mean, I tend to get way too hung up on a girl…"
"You mean you might get too emotional and clingy? Too needy?" She only laughed.
"Y-yes…" He admitted, turning shame-faced as he heard her laughter; he hadn't expected her to laugh at him.
"Fine by me," Ukyo sent him a warm smile. "That's my problem, too, you see— I get pretty intense about stuff like this, too, so I know can handle it if you're that way because I can understand it. I've gotten to know you, Ryoga, and I've liked what I've seen so far, good and bad. I feel like you need me, and I really like that." She took his hand, squeezing it tenderly. "I like to feel needed…and I need you, too, in case you haven't noticed."
Ryoga could only gape at her, then. He hadn't expected that, either.
"I'd love it if you gave me too much attention," She whispered flirtatiously, laughter in her voice as she leaned closer to him.
"You would?" He was proud that he'd even uttered the words without stammering.
Ukyo nodded solemnly, even as she smirked coyly at him, so close she could see all the warm tones of his irises. "Besides, don't you still have a job at my restaurant?"
"Right." He agreed distractedly, mesmerized by her smiling eyes.
"Right…" She echoed before grabbing his face to pull him into a kiss. For a while, it went fine; he wasn't backing away, he was in fact responding rather well, and she got enthusiastic because of that, which was probably her mistake. He wasn't daring to touch her, but she was okay with that; they could take it slow so he could get used to it and have time to calm down. Besides, she was just happy that she was getting to touch him at all.
Slipping her tongue tentatively into his mouth, she deepened the kiss and took him along with her as he welcomed her into his mouth, his own tongue slowly coming out to touch hers. They did all that and there was still no damage done, though she could feel the tension in his body, his arms as taut as guitar strings.
The thing she probably shouldn't have done, though, was to climb into his lap. She did it because it was getting to be uncomfortable to have to twist her upper body like that to be able to face him. Draping herself across him affectionately, her chest against his, she shifted herself a little to get more comfy, and before she knew it, she was straddling him and— and then she heard a sound that really couldn't bode well.
When she looked down, she saw that Ryoga had in fact ripped out a sizeable chunk of the couch itself, stuffing and all, his hand shaking as it clutched a big wad of leather, foam rubber and even a little plywood.
"Please," he pleaded, looking utterly scared. "W-we have to stop."
Ukyo opened her mouth to comment, but he quickly shook his head. "I…I know it's just k-kissing, but we have to stop."
"Yeah, maybe," She agreed, her voice timorous as she slowly climbed off of his lap. "For the sake of my dad's couch, anyway," She remarked, trying to lighten the mood. "I'm not quite sure what I'll tell him about this, really." The throw pillow she could just toss out with the trash, but as for the couch itself…well…dad wasn't going to be happy, she knew that much.
"Sorry about that," Ryoga said miserably, his head in his hands as he leaned forward so far that Ukyo started wondering if he was doing one of those head-between-your-legs things that you were supposed to do to prevent dizziness or hyperventilation or something—or was that nausea? She couldn't recall.
"Come on," she took his hand to help him up. "Let's get you a glass of water."
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so pushy like that." Ukyo said as she leaned on the kitchen counter, watching him with eyes that were soft with concern.
Ryoga only made a vague grunt as he gulped down the water she'd given him; he looked like he'd really needed it.
"I hope you don't think I'm— I mean, I'm not gonna be, I dunno, some psycho girl who just throws herself at you at the drop of a hat—"She blushed deeply. "I…I just really got so frustrated about our problem…it was so maddening that something like that would happen now that we've finally— um, anyway, s-so I guess I just got a little carried away." Clearing her throat, she looked down. "I know a relationship isn't just supposed to be all rampant hormones and stuff."
'Our problem', she said…hah! "It's not our problem, Ukyo," he said, a hint of bitterness in his tone, "It's my problem, because I'm the one who's causing this problem and—"He froze, staring at her. "W-wait a minute…Ukyo, did you just say…did you say a relationship?"
Ukyo blinked up at him, forgetting her own embarrassment in her confusion. "Yes?"
"D-do you mean to say...y-you want to be my g-girlfriend?" Admitting an attraction to him was one thing; this was just…! He'd simply assumed that everything would be mostly like before, except with the added complication of increased physical contact, but if what she was saying was true—
"Uh…" Ukyo hesitated; he hadn't assumed that that was what all this meant? Her voice was tiny when she spoke. "Yes?"
There was a strange, small noise as the glass he was holding shattered in Ryoga's hand; he didn't even seem to notice the pieces flying every which way and the remaining shards of glass cutting into his hand. "U-Ukyo…"
Startled, Ukyo lowered her arms from her face, having raised them in a reflex movement when the glass broke. "R-Ryoga?" Gasping, she rushed forward, grasping his wrist. "Ryoga, your hand!" When he still wasn't responding, she shook him roughly. "Your hand, Ryoga! Are you okay? Can you hear me?"
Getting slowly back to himself, Ryoga felt like his head was full of fluff. And spinning. "Uh…why?"
"Why what?" Ukyo asked, perplexed.
His throat dry, he spoke to her somewhat hoarsely, sounding dazed. "After what I did, why would you want to be my…?"
Ukyo paused; she knew exactly why, but she wasn't quite prepared to reveal that yet. Besides, judging from how he'd reacted to everything so far, he'd probably go into a coma or something if she actually told him the L-word at this point.
"I…I don't know, I guess I just…I know I like spending time with you and I know I'm attracted to you and I guess…I just like you, in general. I care about you." She shook her head, starting to feel a little faint as she saw blood start to trickle out of the mess of skin and glass in his closed palm. Normally she wouldn't have had any problem with blood, but this was Ryoga's hand, and the injury had come so unexpected, right in the middle of a discussion about— "And…and isn't that what you do in those cases? Isn't that enough to start something up? Isn't that what you're supposed to do?"
"Y-yes…I suppose so," Ryoga nodded, looking pale.
Swallowing, Ukyo gently opened up his palm and winced when she saw a large shard of glass imbedded in the middle of it, as well as many much smaller ones. "D-does it hurt?"
"N-no," Ryoga said in a faraway voice. "It's just a little confusing…"
Ukyo frowned, an urge to laugh hysterically bubbling up in her, but fading fast; he was still so shocked over her declaration that he was completely oblivious to the wound in his hand! "Ryoga! I meant your hand!"
He peered at her in confusion, as if trying to focus. "M-my hand?"
"Does it hurt?" Ukyo repeated anxiously.
"Uh…no…maybe." He floundered, looking dizzy.
"Let's just…let's get this fixed up, okay?" She said softly, pushing him down into a chair. "Sit here." She told him sternly, running to the bathroom to get some supplies. When she got back, she used a pair of tweezers to pick out the many pieces of glass in his hand; apart from the one big one, most were tiny, tiny and hard to spot, but luckily, Ukyo had a very good eye. Much to her dismay, Ryoga was barely even flinching as she did it. She supposed it could be some sort of macho martial artist kind of thing, but most likely it was because he was still completely emotionally thrown.
Getting out a clean cloth and soaking it in warm water, she cleaned his wounds before dabbing a bit of iodine on the smaller cuts, finally applying gauze over the whole thing, wrapping his palm up tightly.
"Now," she said with an air of finality. "We're not gonna break any more stuff today, okay?"
Ukyo sighed as she took a seat in the chair next to him. "I worry about you, you know,"
He blinked at her in surprise. "You do?"
"Yes," Ukyo went on, fiddling absently with the skirt of her dress. "Are you okay?"
"I…I guess." Ryoga looked down. "My hand's gonna be fine."
"I wasn't talking about the hand," Ukyo said seriously.
Ryoga cleared his throat somewhat awkwardly. "Oh."
Sighing again, Ukyo leaned forward to look at his face. "It's just…sometimes everything is fine. We can joke and have fun and everything…and then you get like this." She frowned sadly. "I know I get depressed sometimes, too, but when you're like this, I don't quite know what to do…" A wry smile zipped across her mouth. "When I know you're just being a drama queen, I can always just yell at you or something, 'cause I have to admit that sometimes the only thing you need is a bop on the head," Her face turned more serious then, "But this is real. So what should I do?"
His Adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed anxiously, Ryoga shook his head. "Um, I don't know…"
Ukyo took his injured hand, stroking the bandages carefully. "My first impulse is to kiss you or hug you to make you feel better, but that's what started this mess in the first place."
Blushing, Ryoga slipped his hand out of hers, looking down.
A sudden wave of grief hit Ukyo as she saw the withdrawn look on his face. "Shouldn't I have said any of this? Would it have been better if I never kissed you at all? Would it have been better if I didn't like you this way?"
Ryoga looked up again, seeming a little astounded. "N-no, that's not it at all!"
Ukyo lifted a quizzical eyebrow. "Then what?"
"Look, Ukyo, I know…I know it may not seem like it, b-but I'm…I'm really happy you told me all these things, because I did want to hear them." He waved a hand in a wishy-washy gesture as he tried to find the words with which to explain his feelings. "It's just that I don't quite know how to deal with it. My…my body's doing things…without me telling it to…and I just don't have any control…"
"Listen," Ukyo put a hand on his arm, smiling soothingly. "Let's make a compromise, okay?"
Ryoga hesitated. "What kind of compromise?"
Ukyo nodded, her smile softening further. "As long as I know you feel the same as me, I'm willing to wait for you to find out how you're gonna deal with…well, me."
He gaped at her, amazed. "Y-you'd do that for me?"
"Of course, idiot!" Ukyo rolled her eyes, grinning fondly at him. "Haven't you been listening to a single word I've said? You're the guy who's gonna teach me patience!"
"Ukyo…" His voice and his gaze were so reverent that she became acutely self-conscious.
"Here," she said quickly, reaching out her hand, curled into a fist with only her pinkie finger extended.
When he only gave her a blank, uncomprehending look, she grinned and grabbed his unresisting hand, moving his fingers into that same position before hooking her extended pinkie finger around his and squeezing.
It took a moment before the gesture made any sense to him, but when it did, he had to grin despite himself. "Pinkie promise?"
"Yes," she laughed softly, squeezing his pinkie finger again before letting go. "From now on, I'm officially your girlfriend. Okay?"
That made the already small grin fade completely from his lips. He hadn't expected her to say it that blatantly, in such a sure voice. Or maybe he hadn't expected her to say it at all.
"…you are?" His voice sounded miniscule and distant to his own ears.
She nodded, her smile warm. "I'm your girlfriend now. And you're my boyfriend, right?"
"Hhff…" He stuttered feebly, his body feeling heavy as he slumped into a kitchen chair.
"Right?" Ukyo prompted, patiently yet a bit nervously.
Ryoga only made an odd sound in the back of his throat, his fingers mechanically beginning to pick apart the edges of the seat of the same chair he was sitting in into tiny chunks, as easily as if he'd been pulling the petals off of a flower. He didn't look like he was even aware that he was doing it.
Ukyo sighed heavily, tilting her hip as she waited for him to come back to himself.
"…yes…!" Came his voice a minute or two later, his head nodding slowly as he looked up at her with awe, and suddenly she didn't care if she would have to explain all the random destruction to her father or not.
Ryoga was her boyfriend!
Even if he didn't even dare to hug her, he was still her boyfriend.
And they would figure it all out together.
Dinner that evening was…rather strange.
There was still tension there, but it felt more…resolved than it had before. It didn't feel like something stretched so tightly it might snap; it now felt like some warm, subdued energy that they shared. That was the key word, sharing. They now knew, at last, what the other was all about. They now knew, better than before, where they stood with each other. There was still the new tension born from the problems they'd had earlier that day, but at least they weren't as confused anymore.
When Ukyo's father asked about Ryoga's wounded hand, Ukyo quickly explained that it was an injury he'd gotten at work, and that seemed to be that, and Ryoga was grateful for the backup as he'd been too befuddled to answer, lost in thought as he'd been.
Ukyo was smiling to herself and occasionally chatting with her father, while Ryoga…Ryoga just felt too stunned by the recent events to do anything other than eat his dinner and think.
Somehow, he needed to fix this. If they were supposed to make it work between them— and he really did want that, now that she'd actually managed to ignite the confidence and determination within him to strive for their common goal— he had to change. He had to resolve his issues.
By the time dinner was over, Ryoga had made up his mind.
I hope you know that I would never want to hurt you ever again, which is why
I'm leaving for a while to learn how to control myself.
I'm planning to go to this secret temple I've heard about where they teach
all sorts of ways of focusing and concentrating when it comes to losing emotional
control, like how to avoid making anger distract you during battle, so I'm hoping they'll
have some sort of meditation method or something that might help me.
I don't know when I'll return, but I'll see you in Nerima as soon as possible, I promise.
That was the note Ukyo found tacked to her bedroom door the next morning. After about an hour of throwing a fit of frustrated rage, during which she tore at her hair, gritted her teeth, cried, punched the pillows on her bed, almost broke the padded training pole in the Kuonji backyard, and cursed Hibiki Ryoga at the top of her lungs, she finally calmed down when she admitted to herself that none of it was going to change the fact that he was gone.
She felt a little better for letting it all out, though, even if her behaviour had chased her father off, who'd suddenly remembered having a 'dentist appointment' he'd never mentioned before.
"Boys!" Ukyo gave a heart-felt groan, slapping her forehead as she slumped onto her back on the grass of their backyard. When she'd said she'd wait until he'd found out how to control himself and how to relate to their feelings for each other, she'd assumed they'd work it out together— but no! He just had to go off on some kind of stupid quest so he could be all noble and fix all the problems himself, didn't he? Why was she surrounded by people who thought that learning a new technique was the solution to everything?
Oh well, Ukyo sighed, Ryoga's problem was pretty special. Maybe it needed a special solution, too?
She just wished he'd have taken the time to say goodbye before he left, but she guessed that he'd been afraid that she'd try to talk him out of going. This was probably one of those macho things that he needed to do alone.
But okay, this she could actually deal with. This was different than the last time he'd been gone, when she'd been riddled with guilt and she'd had no idea whether he'd actually be back or not. Now she knew she just had to wait for him for a while.
Sure, she didn't know for how long he'd be gone, but all she needed to know was that he'd promised he'd be back. Because she'd never been anything if not a strong-willed woman.
The only thing that still made her a little mad was that she had no way in which to contact him. The idiot hadn't even bought that cell phone yet!
Exhaling heavily, she was almost drifting off into slumber on the grass, exhausted from her massive emotional outlet, when her father, back from his 'dentist appointment', startled her out of it as he suddenly called for her from the living room.
"Ukyo! Why is there a hole in the couch?"
Ukyo grinned lamely. "Aheheheh…"
Damn that jackass.
Author's note: Yes, I'm that evil. It's over. They're a couple. The End.
...there might be a sequel. Maybe. I decided I didn't want to deal with their actual relationship here since Omiyage was just supposed to be all about getting them together. I wanted a clean break.
I have written some stuff that I might maybe possibly use for a sequel. Don't hold your breath, though.
"I need you, too, in case you haven't noticed." Yep, I quoted Ukyo's line from Nihao, My Concubine AKA Daikessen! Hanayome wo Torimodose! (I don't quite know which title is stupider). How could I resist?
One of the reasons why I've realized I support Ryoga/Ukyo is because I feel like they are both so needy, so emotionally demanding that instead of scaring each other off with it, they'd probably understand each other because of it.I feel like they would be able to handle each other.Ukyo is the only girl tough enough to be with Ryoga, I feel, just as Ryoga is the only boy who wouldn't actually mind all the attention that Ukyo usually bestows on Ranma (who's only overwhelmed and confused by it).
I saw a gorgeous piece of Ry/Uk art on a Japanese site that made me go 'YES, she's got the idea!' I had already thought out and written the part about Ryoga's inability to control his strength in romantic situations in 2005 (I write my stories without any kind of order, just jotting down things as they come to me), inspired by the whole Jusenkyo Waterproof Soap story, and apparently this artist had been, too.
It was a picture of Ryoga and Ukyo about to kiss, and Ryoga holding his hands away from Ukyo's body so as not to hurt her. The artist's (Mako) explanation was that Ryoga keeping his hands away was a rule they had to abide by whenever they kissed, because Ukyo had had some trouble when Ryoga had hugged her with all of his strength before.
When you think about it, it's actually kind of sad. I think the artist saw it from a lighter perspective, though. Maybe I'm just depressing. :) There's a link to the artist's page on my homepage, under RUX: Mako's Japanese Ry/Uk Fan Art Gallery.
Does anybody ever visit my Ryoga/Ukyo page, by the way? Just wondering. I'm gonna keep updating it anyway, because I love showing off that beautiful Japanese Ry/Uk art.