Gold, Power, and Black Trousers
Based on the creation of Rumiko Takahashi, Ranma 1/2
written by Riverburn
Gold, Power and black trousers ... and a bit of coincidence. Ranma and Nabiki recall events that led them to their controversial, unlikely and quite uncommon bond that is not quite fluffy, but a wild clash of wills
Short story nr 2: Nabiki has a bad week, Ranma has a bad week, and both need some perspective to solve their problems.
This chapter is currently enjoying some much needed polishing.
Nabiki's week was not good, not good at all.
It all began on a Monday, the start and the worst day of the week, the day that everything preferably should go all right, but usually – through sheer frustration of the whole damn city starting to work – didn't. Nabiki's Monday was no exception.
Her newest project was closing a deal for a record company, Ixina records. Not such a big deal, it was her niche after all, the entertainment industry. What was not, however, was architecture, what was more or less what Ixina records needed. They had gotten it into their heads to move a Rolls Royce onto the fifth floor as some weird publicity stunt. No matter what they wanted, she had no idea who to contact for something like that.
Usually this meant a day without too much work since obviously someone wasn't doing their job right and had given her the assignment on the superficial fact that the client in question was a record company. This needed rectifying, and usually it took a complete day before she got a new assignment. However, this wasn't a mistake. No one with some architectural insight was free at the moment, so they had to go with the next best thing, the entertainment industry, in other words, her.
The greater part of her Monday was spent trying to figure out what they wanted, though having no clue which questions were vital, which information she could give and worst of all, which third party to contact. Tired and feeling very unproductive she had returned home.
Tuesday was usually a good day. Compared to Monday every day looked good. This Tuesday however wasn't. Not only did her boss felt her current project was too easy and gave her another one, but some client from the past week which she handled successfully claimed that the deal she closed was not in accordance with their demands. Patiently she had explained how every demand was met and that he wouldn't get a refund.
Then came the horrendous job of finding architects that felt like stuffing a big car on the fifth floor of a skyscraper. She didn't know why they needed an architect in the first place. Wasn't a moving company enough? One that had a lifter strong enough to haul up a car. The fact that it wouldn't do at all proved how much she was not qualified. Apparently, from what she could gather, they needed to partly rebuild the fifth floor.
She had contacted a few – courtesy of a very irate architectural bureau who couldn't spare five minutes to give her some useful advice besides a bunch of numbers - but of course, none of them actually did that sort of thing. They were kind enough to give some helpful numbers, but even they proved useless. After an hour of nonstop calling, she had a total of two companies that were willing to alter skyscrapers. Compare that with the usual thirty possible options she had otherwise, and it was apparent she wasn't doing well.
Wednesday was the day her colleague called in sick – light sunstroke – and she had to answer his phone. She idly wondered if he had purposefully decided to jog under a hot blazing sun, because there were many angry calls, and she had to listen to them wine about conditions and demands. Combine that with hardly any development in the architecture case, and the result is a horribly unproductive noon. Add for good measure the same pestering client from yesterday and Nabiki was ready to go postal.
On Thursday her second assignment had called to make an appointment. When she finished the phone call, she sighed and idly wondered if the week could get any worse. Clients were not supposed to contact her, she was to contact them, as soon as possible. What was even worse was that she never had made an appointment for the architectural job. So immediately she called the record company to set a date as soon as possible. Somehow she winced when soon apparently was tomorrow. The rest of the day was spent preparing a business proposal for Ixina records.
Friday was a happy day, the last day of the week if she chooses it to be. She had no problem admitting she was a workaholic, and certainly had no problem working the weekend. But not this weekend, this weekend was for eating chocolate ice-cream and watching stupid movies. At any rate, she had yet to survive this last day and it didn't look good.
The onslaught of the passing week left her troops bitter and demoralised, the ill-prepared business proposal was a five to one battle in her disadvantage, the insistent arse client a constant buzz for her already fatigued troops and the other job a reminder of a battle gone wrong. The only thing keeping her fighting was the reassurance that everything would turn out okay in the end. If not by herself then with someone else's help.
So she had started working on her second job. The client was an independent television commercial company looking for new lighting equipment. An easy job, a quick job, with reasonable demands, one she could easily prepare, if she could access the database containing all the information she required, which wasn't the case. It was no surprise she was less then polite when the appalling client began nitpicking on the place of delivery.
The afternoon was reserved for the meeting. Considering her frustration with the week, the client, the offline database, the ill-prepared application, and the meeting it was no surprise it went bad, very bad. They began telling exactly what they wanted, how they wanted it, that they wanted to make it permanent, how the floor was too small to fit the car into, what they also wanted to change without extra costs and when it should be done. She asked few questions and gave little information but promised to have a permanent business proposal ready as soon as possible.
What made it absolutely unbearable, what made her almost destroy her flat, was a man gone missing. Usually she could vent her frustration on him. He didn't really need to say anything just appear to be listening (he usually did comment, but that was good, it showed that he was listening) to her insulting the no good idiot of a client, her boss for insisting she could complete an architectural contract, the nerds who had made the database inaccessible. But Ranma wasn't here, and Ranma's mobile usually hadn't any signal in whatever backwards magical kingdom he resided.
Regardless, as soon as she came home, she fished her mobile out of her purse, threw the purse aside, and threw herself on the sofa, quick called Ranma and waited for Ranma's voicemail.
"Hey Nabs!" instead she heard Ranma, a slightly irritated and exhausted Ranma, but Ranma nonetheless.
"Hey Saotome, great timing answering your phone, I need some serious venting." As always, Nabiki didn't betray any sign of anxiousness.
"Can't it wait? I'm kinda in the middle of something"
Ranma was having a bad week, a bad week by his standards, which meant he'd been playing dice with death a couple of times. Ironically, it all started on Monday – a day apparently most disliked in the world – entering a strange secluded mountain range somewhere in the west of China. The moment he ascended the mountain it began raining. Being a woman wasn't a big deal, but climbing became harder and her backpack hung from her shoulders almost doubling in weight. Not that Ranma complained. 'Enduring' was a great teacher.
She did however complain when the mountain people attacked her on sight. She had never visited this place, there shouldn't be any reason for hostility. But then again, did that ever stop people? So greater part of the day she had spent escaping crazed townspeople and trying to find out why they were so hostile. Eventually she came across some old guy in the woods who told her they wanted to offer her to some evil creature demanding pretty women. The next moment Ranma lost consciousness.
Somewhere at midnight Ranma woke and found herself chained to some stone pillar in the middle of the bridge, wearing a revealing cocktail dress. It was dark, cold and her head hurt. Irritably she combed her red hair with her fingers, snapping the tight chains in the process. She warmed some water, undressed and changed genders. In need for clothes, the village was the only option. Besides, if the old man's story was true they wouldn't bother him.
They were kind of awkward with a near nude stranger entering their village at midnight but they did not attack. They even gave him a room with a comfy bed. He slept with one eye open, wary for cold water. He didn't change while he slept, but did when some heavily blushing girl tripped and spilled milk on him. The results were kind of predictable. In no time at all, the entire village was behind tripping over their feet trying to catch her. This time however she wasn't so lucky. While running away, diplomatically sticking out her tongue at them she slipped over some loose rocks and toppled down in some valley.
When she woke she was once more chained to the same stone post. She knew she was wearing again some perverted revealing outfit; however were first her hands were simply chained behind the post now she had a full body suit of chain, safe for her face and bosom. In fact, Ranma suspected the townsmen had intentionally chained profoundly under her breasts. Wonderbra couldn't hold a candle to their handiwork.
Tired and more than a little irritated at how the week was going Ranma stretched herself. The multitude of layers of chain loudly snapped and noisily fell down. She regarded the bunny suit she was currently wearing and with a groan decided to just keep it on, safe the high heels. She had learned to walk on them but even Nabiki – a professional when it came to high heels – couldn't walk here on heels.
The villagers weren't really happy when they saw Ranma once again returning carrying besides a pair of high heels a very angry scowl. Hence for the third time they assaulted Ranma. Groaning, Ranma shook her head, and decided there and then that enough was enough. An hour later Ranma successfully convinced to not only stop bothering her, but also tell her what the hell was wrong with them.
Apparently some years ago an evil magician lived in this town. He wasn't any trouble and kept to himself mostly in his big house looming over the village. However, one day he had decided he wanted to marry some girl. The girl in question turned him down. Enraged the magician cursed the village, summoning an evil spirit that would demand every full moon a pretty girl. It wasn't said however that it had to be a girl from the village. So whenever they could capture an outsider girl they did.
Ranma proposed to help, but they refused. They told her that many heroes had come before trying to defeat the creature but without any success. The monster was never amused when such a thing occurred and began destroying their village.
So Ranma found herself spending her Wednesday proving herself to the villagers. It wouldn't be the first time Ranma had to proof herself adequate, but she didn't see the point in wearing lingerie while climbing an insane steep hill with six heavy boulders attached to an iron garters belt. It wasn't a good Wednesday, but at least they were more or less convinced that she was the woman to handle all their problems.
Thursday was spent searching through the ruins of the old man's place for some trace of the demon. It was a dark, eerie and a moist place looming ominously over the village. Of course it rained, it seemed to rain all week. Finding nothing she returned to the village dirty, wet and pissed. The only other solution was waiting by the stone pillar for the monster to show up.
It did, somewhere after midnight. It was an ugly black greenish semi transparent entity that towered above Ranma and was quite strong. In fact, there didn't seem a limit to the beast's strength. Picking up boulders that had to weigh several tons was as easy as say, tearing ton-heavy boulders out of the mountain. Nothing Ranma couldn't handle, but it made things more complex, certainly since it appeared to be invulnerable. No matter how fast, hard or complex Ranma kicked the beast, it went right through it, as if it wasn't there.
This wasn't new to Ranma, he had battled spectres before and won. All it took was a little ki. After five ki blasts, a couple of ki charged kicks and punches and a dozen special ki attacks Ranma decided maybe this wouldn't work after all. Ranma reasoned that usually ethereal monsters like the one in front of him were usually insanely controlled ki manifestations. So sucking its life-force should work if the monstrosity had any sign of those that is. If Ranma had to go by his senses he'd say that the monster wasn't even there. He had tried to suck it nonetheless, without success of course.
By now the sun was rising and Ranma realised he had been fighting all night. Not that he was tired, he just usually liked to be in bed before dawn. However Ranma did feel the hours of non-stop fighting, the beast didn't seem fazed.
Hence Ranma had to come up with a plan, quick. He couldn't fight the monster forever, even his endurance ended at some point. He assumed that if the monster had no ki, but was so clearly using lots of it, there had to be some artefact powering it. So the monster had to be a manifestation of the artefact. But where was the artefact?
Ranma, convinced of his theory, began spending the greater part of Friday's morning looking for some peculiar artefact and at the same time evading the monster who had a tendency to wade through walls and scare the shit out of him at the most inopportune moments.
After a fruitless search for the greater part of the morning, Ranma began to wonder if an artefact really existed. Moreso, artefacts like that usually stood out like a blazing super-depressed Ryoga in a cloister.
By noon the monster had grown tired of Ranma and decided to attack the village. Ranma could now search in peace for the artefact, but letting the villagers get slaughtered wasn't really a solution either. So in the middle of the town Ranma once again began battling the undead apparition. The problem however was that Ranma was now feeling the strain of fighting non-stop for sixteen hours.
It has to be understood that besides cats Ranma really didn't fear much. He had been in the most dire and deadly situations and always maintained a clear-head and successfully turned the situation around. However today was the end of a very bad week, he was tired, he hadn't slept in 32 hours, and was fighting a losing battle.
It only got worse when the spectre thrust his long ugly grey middle finger at him. Ranma, fatiqued wasn't fast enough to evade it. He tried deflecting it but couldn't muster enough strength. In a last desperate attempt he charged his hands with all his ki and held the spectre's hand.
Its nails were less than an inch from his right eye. The monster pushed his hand forward, intending to skewer Ranma's brain, but with an inhuman effort Ranma succeeded in keeping the spearlike finger from spearing his head. Still, the finger remained right in front of Ranma's right eye, and Ranma's ki charged hands around its hand.
All the villagers were quiet, holding their breath, the apparition was quiet, but then it never had said a word, and Ranma was quiet, concentrating on keeping the finger from piercing his eye, and trying to find a way to get out of this lousy situation.
In this ultra deafening silence – where the merest drop of a feather could be heard - all suddenly could hear Tokyo Jihen's rendition of "Savvy Lady". Ranma groaned and more than a little embarrassed, charged his left hand with all his ki, hoping it could hold the ghoul's hand, and fished out his mobile with his right hand.
Without looking who it was, Ranma accepted the call.
"Hey Nabs!" usually he was happy to hear Nabiki, now was no such time. He was irritated, tired, weary and about to be killed.
"Hey Saotome, great timing answering your phone, I need some serious venting." Nabiki sounded pretty cool, unstressed and relaxed, but Ranma had learnt to at least pick up the more obvious signs when Nabiki wasn't any of that. The fact that she immediately began about venting was one of the obvious kind.
"Can't it wait? I'm kinda in the middle of something"
"Nooo, it cannot wait!" She finally had him, she wasn't about to let him go. Nabiki turned around in her sofa, planting a cushion under her head. She was planning to make this call long, very long.
"I mean, I'm reaaaly in the middle of something" Ranma groaned, and rolled his eyes. The terrified townspeople around him began murmuring.
"Well, then you tell whoever is taking up your time to wait a day or two."
Ranma glanced at the undead monstrosity trying to push his hand forward but failing. His face was a horrid mask of pain, suffer and anguish. Looking too long in its sickly green eyes could damage any lesser man's eyesight forever.
"I don't think he'll let me" Ranma deadpanned.
"Hand me over," Nabiki simply said, intent on explaining the jackass who was monopolizing Ranma, how much she had priority.
Ranma sighed, looked at his mobile, looked at the horrible monster, shrugged, and hold the mobile in the monster's vicinity. The monster began making horrible screeching noises that defied physics.
Ranma took over the line "I doubt it wants to talk to you," he said nonchalantly.
"He's horribly rude isn't he?" Nabiki's ears were still ringing from the horrible sound that couldn't possibly be human.
"I guess it's a matter of customs"
"Bull, you don't scream into mobile, it simply is not done. What is "it" anyway?" Nabiki was more than a bit irked. She was not used to being so casually ignored.
"An undead apparition called from the bowels of hell to punish a poor village" Ranma answered casually.
"And you, the eternal altruist, feels like solving their problem again. You probably didn't ask for compensation again I bet"
"Not really, no"
"I don't understand how you can keep endangering yourself without getting paid"
"I can probably buy up half of Shanghai after this."
"See no ..." Nabiki realised what he had said. "What did you say?" she asked shocked. As always when talking money, Nabiki began walking around.
"Yea well, you see, the old man's must've been quite rich. Enough gold there to ensure the population of a small country doesn't have to work anymore."
"Ranma, you've already got enough gold to stay your entire life at Hilton's"
"What, Nabiki dismisses money just like that?" Ranma asked genuinely nonplussed. "What's the world coming to?"
"Sarcasm doesn't become you Saotome, quit it. Besides, it doesn't change my point; you hadn't asked anything at first. What if there wasn't anything there?"
"I'd safe a lot of life's I guess"
"I still think you're crazy"
"... ar ... o..." Ranma's voice suddenly sounded very distant.
"Saotome, what's wrong, I can't hear you?"
"Just a second" Ranma sounded out of breath
Ranma threw a punch at the spectre – holding his mobile - which went right through it, but somehow it did weaken its threatening trusting finger enough so that Ranma could push it away. Ranma rolled away, got into another fighting stance, feeling strangely revitalised, and held his mobile between his shoulder and ear.
"What was that?" Nabiki didn't like it very much when people were doing other things while calling.
"Fumbling with my phone. It ain't easy defending yourself from a stinking dead beast from hell with one hand ya know." Ranma's voice sounded distant and disrupted.
"Let me guess, you're talking with the phone between your shoulders and ear." It was something that required training in Nabiki's book, Ranma didn't had that training and hence he shouldn't be doing it.
"Well yea, I could use my hands in a situation like this." Ranma deflected two strikes now that he knew how to physically avert its hits. The phone however fell on the ground.
On the other end Nabiki heard the phone falling. "Hey Saotome, that had better not be you falling down. I still need some venting."
Ranma jumped away from where the monster had almost beheaded him, dived for the mobile, and rolled away from another almost deathstrike. "What was that honey-pie?" Ranma replied eventually breathless. Nabiki could hear the shrieks from the monstrosity in between Ranma's reply.
"Honey pie, where did that came from?"
"Dunno, but the unreasonable demand for my attention while I'm more or less fighting for my life seems something like a wife might do. And honey pie sounds about right for a wife"
Ranma couldn't help but smile wickedly when he could almost hear Nabiki bristle on the other line.
"Look here Saotome, I'm not your bloody wife, and my demand is not unreasonable, I might do something rash if I don't get to vent."
"Ooh, you're going to do something rash? Are you about to eat chocolate ice cream? Or maybe throw some plastic beakers around?" Ranma's tone wasn't really mean-spirited, more like gently making fun.
Nabiki was now nervously circling her sofa. "I'll..." she stopped when she heard fighting on the other line that sounded like Ranma jumping around, and an annoyed dead creature trying to catch him.
"You there Saotome?" Nabiki couldn't help but feel some pity for the creature.
"I'm..." he stepped back, barely evading a mortal sweep, took another step back, and then somersaulted on one hand a couple of times to create some distance.
"Okay, I'm here now."
"I might do something rash if you call me honey-pie again," Nabiki stated deftly.
"Yea, what's that?" he said, while ducking, and trying to hit it with a low leg sweep charged with ki. Not surprisingly it went right through the creature.
"Let you sleep on the sofa" she finished smugly.
"Nabiki," he said breathlessly and with humour in his voice. "When I come back, you'll probably chain me to the bed and won't let me sleep for the next twenty-four hours." As an afterthought Ranma added "I won't let you sleep for the next twenty-four hours."
"Don't be so sure of that Saotome"
"What? So it's okay if I stay here a day longer or so?"
"Don't. Even. Think. About. It. Just get your ass here as soon as possible."
"To sleep on the sofa?" Ranma asked with apparent curiosity.
"You won't touch the sofa, you probably won't even have time to see it" Nabiki smiled sultry imagining all the things she'd do when Ranma'd be back. He'll probably see the sofa, but not to sleep on it.
"I think the sofa is big enough for the two of us, don't you think?"
"It is, isn't it?" Nabiki said dreamily looking at the sofa in question – already forgotten her previous frustration - imagining both their naked bodies on it, a squirming mass of arms and legs and sweat.
"I don't really mind the sofa, just make sure you're on it, preferable with as little on as possible."
"You'll get me, and the sofa, and the absence of clothes if you get here as fast as possible."
Ranma suddenly felt a sudden urge to finish the fight as soon as possible. When he was about to resume the fight he suddenly noticed everyone was staring at him. Some were drooling, some were green with envy, but most of them were just shocked. Even the green horror from the pits of hell was looking at him with new respect.
"Hey, get your minds out of the gutter will ya, I'm having a conversation here." Ranma waved at his mobile irritably. The people suddenly tried to find something else to do. Even the ghastly ghoul found his ethereal undead toenails very interesting.
"Okay, I won't call you honey-pie anymore"
"Okay, okay, sheesh, I was just joking. You have no romantic soul you know that."
"You haven't got one as well, and we don't need one. Just stick with the name you have"
"What? You mean 'insatiable bunny on steroids'?!" Ranma began grinning. It was a very appropriate name. The people began to pay attention again. They couldn't help it really. If people around you talked sex, you just had to listen in.
Nabiki also grinned. "That's the one."
Ranma looked around and once again found the people very intent on the conversation he was having. "While I love this conversation Nabs, these people don't understand the concept of privacy." Ranma threw a baleful glare at the people around him while he said this.
"Well, maybe it's a good distraction for your newest enemy."
Ranma scratched his scalp when he saw sickening green slimes on the undead's face lightening up, as if it was blushing. "Maybe you're right."
"Maybe it is also a good idea to use the handfree set I gave you. You suck at holding the phone between your shoulders and ears."
"I think I left it in my luggage" Ranma fumbled a bit in his pockets for effect, not really hoping to find it, regardless he apparently had taken it with him. " oh... no wait, I've got it right here."
The people around Ranma frowned when they saw Ranma installing something on his right ear. He said something, but apparently didn't get the results he wanted. He talked into his mobile again.
"This stuff ain't working Nabs."
Nabiki sighed and mumbled something under her breath. "Did you set your mobile correct?"
Ranma looked at his phone and frowned. "Huh?"
Before Nabiki could reply, one of the onlookers approached Ranma – shaking his head – briskly took his phone without asking, and while shaking his head and murmuring things best left not translated for Ranma, connected the earpiece with his mobile.
"Can you hear me?" Ranma asked when the onlooker had returned the mobile and earpiece.
"Positive Saotome, I can hear you, over." Nabiki smiled, Bluetooth was a nice technology, certainly when you were a monster fighting martial artist that needed to have his hands free destroying horrible demonic undeads.
"This stuff is nice, although it still would've been better if you just waited a while; it would've taken me only half an hour top to defeat this monster here."
Suddenly the monster began making the same horrible screeching noise, as if he disagreed with that last statement. It at least got Ranma's attention, which was good because the monster began attacking him again.
"What's the problem anyway?" Nabiki said, changing the subject. "You sound pretty weary."
"Well...," Ranma began, launching a quick series of thrust followed by a bleu blazing ki charged low leg sweep, and trying for a special funnel attack uppercut that would disable any living organism but just went through this horrible abomination of nature.
"It's like this, I can't hit it. I've been trying now for an odd twenty hours, and I don't seem to have a lot of luck." Although not really in concordance with his situation, Ranma sounded peculiarly casual and light-hearted about his current predicament.
"Why don't you just suck its ki? That always worked before." Nabiki easily admitted that she knew squat about martial arts, and even less about the kind of martial arts Ranma used. But maybe her different perspective might proof helpful.
"Already tried, doesn't seem like the thing has any ki," Ranma replied wearily with a tone of someone not wanting help from somebody with no knowledge whatsoever on the subject.
"Maybe it's a different kind of ki." Nabiki realised that her remark could easily be really stupid. Ki for her was even more alien than martial arts – excepting one specific kind of Ki. The only time she saw it manifested was when Ranma did so deliberately. She had to admit that punching with light effects was pretty cool.
Ranma took two quick steps backwards to evade a possible mortal slash from its claws. "That's just stupid Nabiki." Ranma ducked, evading another slash, but did raise his arm to catch the slash, and at the exact same moment kicked the ethereal spectre with a white radiant foot against the chins "And even if it does, I still would've felt it." The sweep hit his arm, and hard. Ranma immediately jumped to safety. He had noted though that the monster's slashes were less effective when the it suffered a Ki attack.
"Only trying to help here, you never know with those undead"
"They're a nasty bunch," agreed Ranma, ducking and manoeuvring out of the spectre's way.
"Why's that stupid anyway?" Nabiki never was the one who easily agreed with not knowing something, she had to ask.
"You mind if I explain you later? Like, when I'm not about to have my soul devoured by a flesh rendering ethereal idiot," Ranma said easily.
"Idiot? Aren't you losing? But just explain, who knows, I might come up with something"
"Not in a million years," Ranma mumbled under his breath.
"Another good reason to use Bluetooth is the heavenly absence of privacy. In other words, I heard that," Nabiki cut in, in mock irritation.
Ranma sighed while leaning over backwards to evade a suddenly wild frenzy of slashes aimed at his face. "Alright, you've got different sorts of Ki. But they are like crayons. Many different colours, but you can still see them."
"Well, maybe they are indeed like colours, but maybe more like spectrum colours. The visible colours are only a small part of a complete spectrum. The rest is invisible."
Ranma grunted, shaking his head. "I doubt it."
"Well, you told me yourself that Ki doesn't have laws, that it is impossible to study it, to compare it, or to define it. You just feel and use it. Who says that it isn't possible that the abomination has some weird invisible undead ki"
"Because I'd feel it," Ranma returned between sudden deep inhales, evading absurd fast slashes. Even though the monster didn't have a wide variety of attacks, the ones it used were plenty mortal.
"Still, I think..." Nabiki wanted to underline her point,
"Alright, alright, I'll try to see if I can do anything with his invisible, non-existent, not-there ki." But got interrupted when Ranma cut in sarcastically.
"Just... Trying... To... Help...," replied Nabiki, emphasizing every word, sounding quite indignant.
"Sigh, I appreciate it, just maybe not..." Ranma evaded two huge boulders, and shattered the third, and immediately jumped over the fourth.
"Saotome? What was that? Are you there?" Nabiki asked, slightly worried.
Ranma jumped from the fourth boulder on a small hill, trying to clear away from the monster. He then noticed he had lost his earpiece. He scanned around, but couldn't locate it. He ducked under another boulder.
"Saotome, you'd better not be dead." Nabiki still hadn't vented, and she'd die of frustration if Ranma would die now.
Ranma jumped back on the small hill, hoping to find the small machine in the rubble of the. It wasn't easy since the monster kept throwing those irritating rocks at him. Nabiki didn't really appreciate when he suddenly left while fighting. Besides thinking he got defeated, she was afraid she'd forget what she wanted to tell.
He leaned left, and caught another boulder by first stopping it with his left elbow immediately followed by a left fist, that went synchronous with a right fist shattering it. In that action he saw that one of the onlookers had found his small device.
"Saotome is that you?" Nabiki ask hopefully, again pacing restlessly around her sofa. Ranma, besides money, was also a good reason to pace.
"His Bluetooth earpiece fell off, I'll try to throw it back!" She suddenly heard in dialectic Chinese.
"Thanks, that's kind of you. By the way, is he doing alright?" Nabiki answered in slightly accented studybook-Chinese. It was always wise to get a second objective opinion. Ranma always slightly understated things.
"It began with Ranma in favour, but gradually, as it began to be apparent the monster was invincible it became choice-winner. As the fight progressed we could see numerous beautiful attempts by Ranma, but to no avail. It became worse when stress, strain and fatigue agitated the young Japanese martial artist. He valiantly had tried to find a way to hurt the spectre but without luck. Though the audience still favoured the young pigtailed man, cheering had then stopped. It seemed the match would be lost in favour of the undead monstrosity, but then you called..."
"And then? What happened then?" Nabiki asked, curious how the fight was going.
Ranma was jumping from thrown rock to thrown rock on a hill, trying to reach the monster. Close to the monster, he jumped down from the rock he was standing on, leg stretched intent on kicking it. Just at the last moment Ranma's leg began to blaze with an intense bleu-white glow. As expected the leg went right through the monster, but as soon as his foot hit ground – upturning quite some dirt and rock - He punched it with a similar bleu blazing right fist, and a strangely positioned left hand. The left hand was not blazing, was not even fisted, just making a small slitted peace symbol.
Immediately as he landed the monster picked him up, and threw him away with incredible strength. With an enormous velocity Ranma was heading for hard looking rock, but screwed his body around, feet in front, just at the right moment, bouncing off the rock.
The monster began screeching and snarling, clearly hurt.
"When he got your phone call, the fight seemed to take a momentary pause. The monster was not gaining any ground anymore, and Ranma seemed to revitalise himself. A real change came when he used his Bluetooth earpiece. He suddenly became franker, and tried new ways to defeat it. Now, Ranma scored his first hit!!" the last phrase was screamed in sudden enthusiasm.
"your husband leans now on his knees, spitting in the rumble. His fatigue seemed to have mysteriously disappeared, his self-assured smile has returned, a strange confident lopsided smile that is accompanied by steel blue eyes and a taunting gesture."
Nabiki was biting on her lips in excitement. The Chinese man knew pretty well how to describe the fight in an entertaining exciting fashion. She could easily picture Ranma staring the creature down, tauntingly goading it. She was so excited in fact that she didn't correct the onlooker when he called Ranma her husband.
"Ranma is preparing a new attack apparently. His right fist is completely covered by an intense white swirling sphere much like a boxing glove. His left hand is again making that particular peace sign. Now he charges. The monster violently slashes at Ranma, but he easily ducks, and punches the monster with his right fist. But why? Doesn't he know he cannot..." Nabiki gasped at the same time the commentator gasped. Unlike him, she didn't know why, but apparently it was impressive enough that he fell silent for a couple of seconds.
After two seconds, Nabiki wanted to know what had happened. She was pretty sure Ranma had won, he always did, certainly when he had that smile, she just wanted to know how. "Hey, you still there? How did he win?"
"unbelievable," he began, obviously in awe at what had transpired "Ranma punched the ethereal apparition and much like before his fist went right through it. However, instead of redrawing he apparently channelled vast amounts of ki into his right fist. His left hand is drawn back, but its middle and ring finger in a slit. He appears to be sucking its energy."
Nabiki could hear the monster screaming on the background. She couldn't help but smile at one of Ranma's newest victories. "Hey, I appreciate the evaluation of the fight, but could you connect me back."
The onlooker took the earpiece off, and signalled Ranma. Ranma redrew his fist out of the spectre, and jumped away. He caught the earpiece when it was thrown at him, and installed it back on his ear.
"Hey Nabs," Ranma answered fast and confident. "It's almost dead; give me another couple of seconds."
Nabiki couldn't help but notice how absurdly elated Ranma sounded. Not that it was the first time, but never really this clear and high.
Ranma was full of energy. All the strain, fatigue and weariness were gone. Sucking the spectre's energy filled him with an incredible kind of life ki. He had sucked the life-force out of undeads before, and it always was a pleasant experience. But this one was something else entirely.
Filled to the brim with alien and very potent ki, he could see, feel and smell more clearly. But above all, he could see life. Undeads always needed potent life-ki to sustain its unlife. Normal men couldn't handle its prowess; Ranma could till a certain level.
Were old and weak people were blurred out of his vision, disappearing in the background. Young and vibrant people were highly contrasted and had lively and almost pulsating colours. But above all, he could see the object supporting the monster.
He jumped towards the stone post on the middle of the bridge, and flattened it with one life-ki-charged fist. A sudden burst of ki shot out of the rubble, shattering the black gem inside it. The monster faded instantly without a sound.
"That's that," Ranma said, both to himself as to Nabiki, looking at the rubble. "See, if you would've waited another ten minutes I'd have beaten him."
"You used my hint Saotome," Nabiki stated sharply, sure that he defeated the monster with her help.
"What?! Why'dja think that?"
"Well, the Chinese guy explained me what was happening, and it suspiciously looked like you were draining his ki."
Ranma snorted, and shook his head. "Well, it did remind me of something, so I guess your hint did help. But I came up with the idea and gave it a beating it'll never forget." He sounded very proud indeed, and very exhilarated.
"Sure you did Saotome, sure you did. By the way, undeads aren't exactly famous for their memory. I doubt he'll remember much of it."
Ranma grinned. Nabiki had little experience with the undead. "Nabiki, I haven't encountered anyone with a memory as good as an undead's one."
Nabiki was about to point out that zombies and the like had rotting brains and didn't seem to remember much beyond wanting to eat brains, but then remembered some of the occasions she had actually met undead.
Ranma had this particular interest in completely obliterating the factual and concrete world that she lived in. He had done a pretty good job when he first came into her life; he had finished it when he came back for round two.
Before she met Ranma, she didn't really believe in the undead. Sure, she had seen them, but ignored them, and tried to simply forget about it – it was a past life in a crazy district. Her new life was a highly competitive dog eats dog world were you fight to the death to get deals – zombies, ghosts, magic and whatnot was not part of it.
When Ranma arrived in Hong Kong he had changed most of it. Once, an undead would scare her silly, now was a monthly occurrence. Once, dragons were only seen in movies, now she had met one, named Hector, and was actually pretty disappointing. Ranma came back, and had chosen to stay, something Nabiki didn't really mind, she was even willing to take all the undeads, dragons, ghosts, satires, kitsunes, gods, demi-gods, martial arts from every possible branch, painters and so on that came with him. At first it was a little strange, but she gradually began to appreciate the novelty of it, and conversation certainly was never dull.
Hence Nabiki admitted that maybe Ranma had a point about the undead possibly having great memories. If one can discuss fashion without a none-ethereal body, then memorising things probably wasn't that hard either.
Nabiki walked to the kitchen, speakers on so that she didn't have to carry an earpiece or a mobile. "So how did you beat him?" She wondered just how much her hint had helped him.
Ranma in the meantime was being welcomed by a wildly cheering town that fell immediately dead silent when Ranma pointed to his earpiece. Taken aback by the sudden silence of an apparently very understanding town, Ranma explained.
"You told me about that Ki-force I couldn't sense, right? Well, as far as I know, there doesn't exist one I don't know about. You're actually partly right now that I think about it. You can't sense Ki, so for you it's invisible. I can easily sense it, but some types easier than others. As I said, it really ain't an exact science." Ranma walked over to some higher ground to get a better reception, shakings hands as he went by a very grateful town.
"At any rate, I thought about Ki to maintain life. That alone comes in many forms and sizes. One of those is Ki used to raise the dead. Usually I can suck that ki right out of the undead, and if not I can find whatever is disrupting me easily and destroy it. The thing was that the object sustaining this undead only provided it with life force when it had need for it. In other words, I would only start noticing the object when the spectre was attacking me, and at that time saving my skin had priority.
So I forced the creature to use its ki, by attacking it with ki, and at the same time sucking its ki. Very dangerous ki, but feels insanely good, very addictive even." Nabiki had no problem believing that. Ranma sounded like he had taken a serious dose of morphine, very clear and elated that she was beginning to feel giddy herself. Something Nabiki was not accustomed to, and was not about to start.
"Filled with its ki, I could easily spot the object, and destroyed it, destroying the monster in the process," he finished eventually, very proud about his achievement.
"And now I'm on a mountain," Ranma continued, changing the subject. "Looking at a clearing sky, trying my best to control the ki in me. Very irritating," though Ranma said 'irritating' he really didn't sound sorry at all. "characteristic that's it is VERY lively, very concentrated on life, making someone want to live life to the fullest," Ranma talked slowly, waiting till Nabiki would catch on.
She had caught on, she had when he began about trying to control the ki. It wasn't exactly the first time something like this has happened. However, she wanted to hear it from Ranma, since he could be such a prude at times. "Continue,"
Ranma groaned pitifully. He was pretty sure Nabiki knew in what state he was. "Making someone want to create life," he eventually said, pursing his lips.
Ranma sighed, and got comfortable on a rock. "Don't do this to me Nabiki," he whined.
He felt the power and might of the foreign ki invading his own life-force, making havoc of his state of mind. "It's already bad. I mean, you're probably in that sofa now, you've got a free weekend, and I bet you'd dress up really good just to spite me, and it is..." Ranma raised his voice "SO frustrating." He took a deep breath to control the heat.
"You only got yourself to blame for that," Nabiki said, making herself comfortable in her sofa, and unbuttoning the top buttons on her blouse. "It is so hot in here so I just opened some buttons on my blouse, hope you don't mind."
"Argh, stop it." Ranma was now pacing, trying his damnest best to not let the alien ki get control over him.
"Anyway," he went on, sounding flustered and still giddy. "What's your problem?"
Now Nabiki got even more comfortable. Venting was something she loved doing, and always took the time for.
"Started all on Monday, of course the Monday." Nabiki hated Mondays.
Ranma sighed. "I don't get it, why do you hate Mondays so much?" Really, he didn't get it. He could see why starting to work was not always that pleasant, but didn't you choose your work because you liked it? Shouldn't Mondays be great days?
"I've explained you hundred times before; it's the start of the workweek, the same tiresome workweek." Nabiki had explained this numerous times before, and she knew he wouldn't understand it now, and probably never will. This because she simply couldn't argue the point he always made.
"How can you say that? Besides the many different challenges you get in the form of contracts, you've got ghosts, Jinnis, Tanuki's, Tengu's, Dragons and a whole rally of other supernatural beings knocking on your door every week or so, even without my help. Worse, some are even bugging you know to get some contracts done since you've explained them what you do for a living."
"Yea, but still...," Nabiki sighed, shook her head, and decided a different tact was in order. "Regardless of what you think about Mondays, mine was pretty bad."
"How come it was so bad?" Ranma asked curiously, even thought he had a pretty good idea what would follow. A sequence of horrible mishaps, usually the fault of incompetent colleagues and jerks. Although, Ranma had to hand it to her, when she in the wrong, she admitted it – just not dwelling long on it.
"It all started with this new project I got..." Ranma hmmm'ed and listened, or at least gave the impression of listening. He wasn't ignoring her, and really tried to listen – he liked her after all, but not everything she said made sense to him.
For example, why would someone give her a job she was totally not qualified for? It didn't make sense; if she couldn't do it then don't accept it. Of course, you cannot 'refuse' in that world apparently. Refusing would cost thousands upon thousands dollars. So the company couldn't refuse, and she couldn't refuse.
This made some sense to him. A company has to work to get money, so they accepted all the work they could get. Her second problem was more complicated though. It had to do with what she was supposed to do. 'get a car on the fifth floor'? Ranma understood why she was frustrated. Heck, he'd be frustrated if someone asked him to do that. But he didn't get why someone would want it, and why someone would ask Nabiki to do it.
Shouldn't they just call a contractor or something? In a way, Nabiki was, but not the right kind. There were people who did that sort of stuff, with hoisters, scaffolds and stuff. Nabiki was not such a person. But no... Nabiki was supposed to do this.
Ranma did however get the pesky ex-client who kept insisting that the contract they had completed wasn't in fact what they agreed on. He felt almost embarrassed for the client when Nabiki summed up the excuses the client used to get some money back. It made more sense to Nabik, but Ranma really didn't get how it could matter if the stuff was delivered 15 minutes late, and 200 metres from the agreed on place – which wasn't even the case.
"Then came Wednesday, and my colleague called in sick..." by now Nabiki was getting fired up. Ranma couldn't help but notice that every time Nabiki vented, she sounded more excited and elated then really frustrated.
"Let me guess," I answered for her. "You had to mind his phone again?" he knew a little about where she worked, about the kind and generous colleagues, about her pretty decent and competent boss, and of course her pesky colleagues who got sick on the most unfortunate moment.
"Yeah, so I got called by an army of unhappy client, which wasn't all..." on and on she went, horror story after horror story, the later probably more horrifying then the last – not that Ranma knew, he just went by how excited she sounded. Talking fast and sardonically laughing was usually a number one horror story whereas a jokingly told story was usually a slight frustrated or a fault on her part.
Ranma laughed with her when she told about her stupidity by not calling her clients first, and then dryly asked her why that was such a bad thing. Although it was interrupting Nabiki's rant, she never really minded. She liked explaining things to Ranma, and it somehow was always a nice addition to her dialogue that actually was more of a monologue.
Eventually they reached the climax. Friday afternoon, an ill prepared business meeting with no information whatsoever, a promise she couldn't keep, and no good hope for the future. The climax didn't end in a happy one either.
Luckily it hadn't ended yet, just a horrible cliff-hanger. Unluckily enough, real life cliff hangers were awful.
"So why don't you ask someone else to do it?" Ranma, as Nabiki knew squat about Martial Arts, easily admitted he knew nothing about serious business.
Nabiki sighed. "I can't ask someone else to do it. How would that look?"
"I dunno, but better I guess then you botching it up" he shrugged, really not realising what all the fuss was about.
"If someone else was better suited for a fight then you'd be, would you let him fight for you?" Nabiki said, making a perfect analogy with Ranma's world.
"Of course not, but that's completely different."
"First off, there is no one better suited to fight then me..." Ranma said casually, as if it was stupid to assume different.
"But presume there is." Nabiki interrupted.
"Then no, I wouldn't let him. I was challenged not..." but Ranma stopped, he saw Nabiki's point of view.
"You see?" Nabiki said; convinced Ranma understood what she meant. "Someone gave me the contract, challenge if you will. I can't back out. If you are challenged for a fashion contest, no matter how much you'd hate it, you'd still make sure you'd win."
"And I won. I still get fanmail," Ranma replied smiling happily. That had been a horrible challenge, but a brilliant victory. Who knew that clothes Did make the man.
"So I can't back out either. I need to have a business proposal ready somewhere next week. The other assignment isn't really a biggy, I can get it done as soon as the databases are up and running. But that other deal is a problem."
"I still say you should just outsource it."
"'outsource'? Where did you learn that word?" it wasn't the first time Ranma surprised Nabiki like that. He didn't always get what she said, but he did listen. It wasn't that surprising that he caught on here and there.
"Listening," Ranma simply said. "Anyway, if I'm about to lose a fight, possibly resulting in my dead, and I knew about someone who could easily defeat my challenger, I'd pass on the challenge. So really, I think you'd have to see how important this deal is for you. If a lot depends on it, just ask someone else, otherwise, count your losses and..."
"'ask someone else'... Ranma you're a genius." Nabiki said, suddenly cutting in.
"Eh... I know, but..."
"Sorry Saotome, I gotta go, need to make some phonecalls. Thanks a million. Be sure to get your tight ass here as soon as possible" and with that the phone call ended.
"What was that about?" Ranma said to no one in particular.
Putting aside the two bulging sacks of gold, Ranma walked inside their fancy flat. He threw his keys on the kitchen counter, walked over to the fridge, and drank some milk from the carton. Putting the carton back, he scanned the flat for Nabiki, but couldn't find her.
Hearing some on the phone, he walked over to her rather big office. There she was, still in her tight work outfit – black short skirt, black tights, high heeled black shoes, a white shirt and a black vest. She was smiling, full of activity, and calling.
She was so busy she hadn't noticed Ranma. Conceiling his presence, he slipped inside, and got comfortable on the sofa opposite her desk.
After only ten minutes she saw Ranma sitting. Her smiled grew larger if that was possible. She finished the call in a matter of seconds, and as fast as she could jumped on Ranma's lap, locking him in a deep yearning kiss.
When both had exchanged enough greetings, Ranma began with what was on his mind the last four days.
"So, how did you solve your problem?"
Nabiki grinned shrewdly. "You sure you want to hear Saotome? You might not understand a word I'd say".
Ranma grinned. "Don't underestimate me Nabs. I might understand more than you'd credit me for."
Nabiki smiled, gave Ranma along drawn out kiss before starting how she handled her problem.
"It isn't actually that spectacular. I don't have the contacts and addresses of the right people, and even if I had, I'm not familiar in that environment, they don't know me there. Having contacts is pretty important."
"I know that, you've pointed that out quite a few times."
"Exactly, so I had to find someone else to do my job." Nabiki said finally, smiling joyfully at her solution. Ranma also had to smile.
"Aha, so you did use my tip."
"Noooo, You said I had to hand my project over to someone else. Instead I got someone to work for me." Giddy with the way she worked around her problem, she began pacing in front of Ranma, idly opening the top buttons of her blouse.
Ranma leaned over, and smiled assuredly.
"I never said you had to hand over your project, I said you best had someone else do it." Ranma said casually.
Nabiki walked over to Ranma, squatted in front of him. Put her flats hands on Ranma's respective right and left side of his face. Gave him a short kiss on the lips, and then released him.
"Alright, I guess you did help me a bit. But you'd never guess how I managed to do this."
"No clue, how did you manage it?" Ranma really had no clue, and he knew Nabiki always wanted to share her genius with someone, preferably him. Sharing her geniality on the job was not smart, so Nabiki was more than happy to have Ranma applaud her for her cleverness. Besides, he was rather curious.
"I got a company to do it for me."
"A company... but?"
"A company I started. Nabiki Arch, one CEO, namely me, and one employee, Sato Nagasaki an expert when it comes to contracting architectural deals." Ranma had no clue why she went to such great lengths to preserve some credentials, but apparently it was really a thing.
"So, let me get this straight. You started a company to work on that project of yours? Why do something like that?"
"Well, if I'd outsource it to some other company, they'd get acknowledged. Hiring someone else was not possible, because I'm not authorized to. Doing it myself was possible, but would hurt the company more than it would do good. By creating a company myself, I keep the client myself, since I'm the CEO of this company. The only downside is that there is no credit for the company I actually work for. But Nabiki Arch can never misuse it's useless credentials, and I keep the client as person."
Ranma frowned, obviously confused. "But isn't it very expensive, and doesn't it require a lot of paperwork to start a company?"
Nabiki got comfortable next to Ranma. "It isn't free, but if the company's small, it really doesn't require a lot of paperwork, or time. It might in Japan, but we're not in Japan. Although I'm pretty proud of myself, it isn't uncommon to start a fake company, albeit not always for the same reasons."
Ranma opened his mouth to ask another question, but was answered with a mouthful of affectionate Nabiki. It soon became obvious Ranma was not to leave the sofa.
The next day, two young naked adults woke on the plush comfortable carpet in their living room. Both woke up with a silly but happy smile. Nabiki kept her smile, while Ranma got a little worried as he came around.
"Shouldn't you go to work? It's Wednesday?"
"What? Tired of me already?" Nabiki asked faux indignantly.
"No, it's just that with all that stress and work you have, I'd think you wouldn't want to miss a day."
Nabiki smiled pleasantly. "The advantages of being CEO. Sato is handling the architectural job, and I'm on schedule with the other project. Besides, you've been gone for more than a week, we've got some serious catching up to do."