(Scene break, just in case)
There was an unwritten rule aboard the last train of the evening – you didn't pay attention to those around you, and they afforded you the same respect. Ranma and Rogue shared the train car with a couple of drunken salary men and a group of college students who had finished a night of revelry and were heading back to their homes. Beyond drunken ramblings and soft snores, there wasn't really much conversation as fatigue and alcohol, combined with the hypnotizing motions of the train, luring most of the passengers to sleep or caused them to stare, with vacant, bleary-eyed expressions, at the passing nighttime cityscape.
Ranma was the sole exception. His mind was churning as Rogue slept on his shoulder, her head rocking gently with the swaying of the train.
He was racking his brains trying to remember what he'd done that had led to this situation in the first place. While he didn't regret it in the least, he knew that he also wasn't ready to face the consequences of this what they had done. He didn't regret it at all, and knowing that worried him even more. Given his luck, he knew it would only be a matter of time before the situation devolved into the normal chaos that was his life. Hopefully, he'd have enough time between now and that distant future to try and figure out how in the hell he was going to get out of this situation with tarnishing his, and the Tendo's, honors beyond repair.
He nearly missed the call for the Nerima station when the train pulled in. Ranma roused Rogue and they slipped out of the car before the doors closed. The walk from the train station to the dojo was brisk and silent, but not in an uncomfortable way. The lights of the dojo were off when they arrived, but even still Ranma paused at the back wall, listening carefully for any hints that the household might be up and about. This late at night, he didn't expect anyone to be awake, but he wanted to avoid running into anyone and having them jump to the wrong – or in this case, the right – conclusion.
Ranma nodded at Rogue and picked up Rogue in a bridal carry. From there, he leapt silently to the top of the back wall, and then the roof, gently setting her down as quietly as possible. He paused for a bit, listening carefully to see if his landing had awoken anyone inside. Satisfied that nobody was awake, he silently crawled to the edge of the roof, motioning for Rogue to follow him. He peeked over the edge of the roof and saw the window to Akane's old room below and slight to his left. Gripping the edge of the roof with his hands, he swung over the side, pausing just long enough to hook his toes on the eaves and hang upside down from the roof.
The moon provided just enough light for Ranma to see what he was doing, but not enough to really make him stand out. He slowly applied more force to the window until the latch finally gave up the ghost and popped free. Ranma grimaced as the window squeaked as he slowly forced it open from the outside. Rogue peered nervously over the edge of the roof at the sound. He flashed a quick thumbs up at her and grinned, trying to calm her nerves, even though his own threatened to reduce him to a blubbering heap. Once the window was finally open enough to get in, Ranma exhaled a breath that he didn't realized he'd been holding.
He reached up towards his toes and grabbed the edge of the roof, and pulled himself up with one hand until his face was just below Rogue's.
He mouthed, "We've got to be quiet."
Rogue nodded. Ranma let go of the roof and swung back down. She slid over the edge of the roof, feet first, letting her self down until she felt Ranma grab her ankles and guide her feet to the windowsill. Once they touched the sill, she let go with her hands as Ranma pushed on her back, making sure she got into the room safely and silently. Once in, she climbed down out of the window and blew him a kiss before shutting the window as quietly as possible.
Satisfied that she was out of danger, he pulled himself back up to the roof and crept to the opposite side of the dojo before leaping down to the grass surrounding the goldfish pond. Feeling relieved that it had gone so smoothly, he crept to the entrance of the dojo and silently slid the door back. The dojo was empty, so he quickly hopped inside and turned to close the door behind him.
"Hm. Bit late, isn't it?"
He whipped around with a muffled curse, and thanked whatever Gods that usually tormented him that was Happosai and not Soun. Granted, the old goat hadn't been there seconds before, but since he hadn't made a big scene yet Ranma figured he could still get out of this relatively unscathed. The old pervert was sitting cross-legged on his pillow, silently puffing on his pipe. The only light in the dojo was red glow of the tobacco in his pipe. Happosai took a drag on his pipe, causing the embers to glow brightly in the darkness. It threw his heavily lined face into stark relief, making the wrinkles make even more pronounced than usual.
Happosai blew out a series of smoke rings, each slightly smaller than the one preceding it. He asked, "Did you have a good time, Ranma?"
Ranma eyed the pervert suspiciously. "Whaddya want?"
"Sit." Happosai gestured with his pipe, pointing at the floor in front of him. "And take off your shoes. You know better."
Ranma slipped his shoes off his feet and set them near the door, the sat on the floor with his legs under him where indicated. Happosai took another drag on his pipe, eyes half closed as he slowly exhaled a plume of smoke through his nostrils.
"You're in luck today, Ranma."
"Meetin' you ain't never lucky."
Happosai arched an eyebrow. "You might not want to take that tone with me, considering I'm willing to cover for you."
Ranma looked at him quizzically. "What?"
"Cover your relationship with Rogue. How do you think Soun would feel if he knew daddy's little girl was being cheated on by her fiancé? Can you imagine what a stain on your honor this would be?"
Ranma began to sweat bullets. "I don't know what you're talking about."
Happosai snorted. "You reek of sex. So does Rogue. She was a virgin a couple of days ago, and I can tell just by her aura that her cherry's been popped. You both come back under the cover of darkness after not being seen for nearly two days. Doesn't take a genius to figure out what happened there, does it?"
"I didn't do nothin' with Rogue. I was over at Akane's. We…" Ranma cast frantically for a reasonable explanation. "Akane n' me had a fling for old times' sake."
"Don't bullshit with me, boy. You can't con a pervert. I know what I smell and I know what I sense. I don't sense a hint of Akane on you, but Rogue got her claws into you good."
Ranma started to protest but was cut off by Happosai, who pulled his pipe out of his mouth and jabbed Ranma in the chest. "Ranma, so help me god, if you lie to me about this again I'll cast you out of my school. Now. Shut. Up." Happosai punctuated each word by tapping Ranma on the breast bone hard enough to make the younger martial artist grunt. Happosai put his pipe back in his mouth and took another drag, exhaling the smoke in Ranma's face with a satisfied sigh.
The silence lingered for a bit as Ranma rubbed his chest, glaring at the old pervert. Finally, he sat back on his haunches and asked, "What do you want?"
"Better." Happosai said. "Even though I've got you by the short and curlies, you'll find I'm not unreasonable." Happosai held up two fingers. "First, you've got to acknowledge me as your master and become my student. Second, I want free access to your female body for modeling purposes. If I give you something to wear, you wear it. You gripe about it or give me any shit, and we'll see what Soun thinks about your nocturnal activities. Got it?"
"Temper, temper! Well, if you don't like my conditions, I'll just go wake Soun up and…"
Ranma shifted subtly, curling his toes under his foot in preparation to pounce.
Unfortunately, it wasn't subtle enough. Happosai's eyes narrowed as he took the movement. He didn't shift posture, but suddenly the temperature in the dojo dropped a couple of degrees as Happosai's tone became quiet and deadly. "Unless you think you can stop me, that is."
Ranma knew he couldn't start a brawl with the old man without revealing the whole reason for it. Ranma had no illusions about his ability to win a fight against Happosai. Sure, he'd be able to hold his own, but as it stood, unless he got in a lucky shot to put the old man out of action, he just wasn't good enough to take the old pervert down cleanly. Besides, the collateral damage to the dojo would be too much to risk.
Ranma relaxed, slowly. He was stuck, and he could tell that Happosai knew it, too. Rather than just give up, though, he was going to try and get something out of this. "Why do you want me to be your student?"
"I'm bored. I want to torture someone. You're available."
Ranma blinked. He hadn't expected the old man to be honest about it. "Um... Okay..." He scratched his head, pausing for time. "I'll accept, but I've got two conditions of my own."
Happosai arched an eyebrow, but didn't stop him. Encouraged, Ranma continued, "First, you actually gotta train me. No pervey stuff. If you want me to be your student, than you gotta really train me like one. I want to know how you keep Rogue from drainin' ya."
"And the second condition?" Happosai asked.
"You help me figure a way out of this mess that doesn't hurt the Tendo's honor."
"Really?" Ranma blinked.
"But you've never done anything nice in your life."
Happosai snorted. "You're wrong about that. Remember that one time for those orphaned children?"
"Yeah, and that broke you for a couple of weeks."
Happosai shrugged. "And now I get to break you. The calculus works for me." He took a drag on his pipe. "The training I've in mind for you will make what your dad did look like a cake walk."
Ranma rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Bring it on." Unfortunately, he missed the gleam in Happosai's eye.
The pervert suddenly asked, "So, how was she?"
Happosai rapped the pig-tailed martial artist on the top of his head with his pipe, sending him sprawling. "Rogue, you idiot. Now, tell your Master everything."
Ranma rubbed his head and glared at Happosai. "No way! It's none of your business."
"Awww... come on!"
(Scene break, just in case)
Ranma awoke the next morning severely disorientated and uncomfortable. She was disorientated because she was pretty sure she'd gone to bed as a he, and she didn't remember changing sex. She was uncomfortable because she felt like she had a vice on her chest. She blinked, snapping awake as she realized there was a weight on her chest, and it was currently pawing her boobs in a rather uncouth fashion.
Aura flaring as her temper exploded, she attempted to dislodge Happosai from her breasts as he took liberties with her body. She took a swipe at him but missed. She over committed, and by the time she recovered the demented martial artist had smacked her on the ass and was already heading out the window. She moved to follow, but something red and diaphanous hit her in the face. She ripped it off and looked at it. It was a rather racy sheer bra, with a note that read "stay female and put this on for training" pinned to it in Happosai's barely legible handwriting.
Grumbling to herself, she threw the offending garment to the floor and prepared to head out after the pervert, but was stopped by yet another lacy bit of naughtiness. Only this one had a stone in it and caught her between the eyes. Cursing and rubbing her forehead as her eyes watered, Ranma looked down and saw a matching pair of underpants. Again, there was a note pinned to this one as well. It said, "and if you don't wear the bra, you can forget about turning into a boy again for a long time."
The stream of profanity that followed would have made a sailor take notes. Ranma slipped the bra on with a snarl, but not before she also put on a decent sports bra under it. Sure, she agreed to wear it, but she never agreed that she wouldn't wear anything else.
She slipped her shirt back on and took off after the rapidly diminishing form of Happosai. Even with her rage, it still took her a while to catch up, even going full out. When she finally caught up, Happosai turned around and faced her from the rooftop he had landed on across the street from her current position.
"You wearing the bra?"
Happosai grinned. "Good. Now, you've got to keep it on. If I get it off you, you don't get to eat for the rest of the day."
Ranma squawked. The squawk turned into a shriek as Happosai launched himself at her. For the next two hours, she dodge Happosai by running all over the district while engaged in a running battle of trading blows in order to prevent the old pervert from "liberating" his "lacy darlings". The battle eventually ended up back in the Tendo yard. In desperation, Ranma took to the air over the koi pond, tempting the old man to follow. She grinned viciously as he took the bait, launching into the air after her.
Only a highly trained martial artist could have even hoped to follow the flurry of blows that followed when the two met in the air. Finally, Ranma managed to snake a kick in past the old man's guard, and send him rocketing towards the water below. Rather than splash down like she expected, Happosai landed lightly on the surface of the water and leapt clear, only getting the bottom of his shoe wet.
Worn out and breathing heavily, Ranma dropped down with considerably less grace on the other side of the koi pond, staring at his foot intently.
Happosai pulled a wadded up red cloth out of his pocket and wiped off a light sheen of sweat from his forehead. "Not bad, Ranma, not bad." He tossed the rag to Ranma, who snatched it out of the air and recognized it for the bra she'd put on earlier. "But not good enough, either."
Ranma shoved the bra into her own pocket. "How did you do that?"
Happosai shook his head. "You're not ready for that yet."
"Okay, then teach me how you keep from getting' drained."
"You're not ready for that, either. We'll start small. You've got to figure how I got the bra off you first. I'll expect an answer after I'm done with breakfast. I'll see you in the dojo." Happosai walked easily over to the dojo veranda and into the kitchen, where Kasumi was busily preparing breakfast.
"Oh, good morning Grandfather Happosai!"
"Ranma won't be joining us for breakfast this morning. He's got something else he needs to be doing..."
Ranma flipped the old pervert the finger. She headed into the dojo, intent on replaying the morning's session through so she could figure out when she'd been defrocked.
Happosai came in a while later and found her meditating.
"So, did you figure it out?"
Ranma didn't bother to open her eyes. "No. But I think it happened when I kicked you."
"Oh?" Happosai sat down. "Do tell."
Ranma shrugged. "You didn't hit the water with nearly as much speed as you should have given how hard I kicked you. So, I figure you must have diverted the energy of my kick into the elastic of the bra somehow to bleed off some momentum. You took it on the way down."
Happosai rubbed his chin thoughtfully. "Clever. It's a good idea, but wrong. You should know I'd never risk hurting one of my silky darlings with a move like that!"
Ranma sighed. "Okay, then what did you do?"
"For such a prodigy, you can be a real idiot sometimes. I guess it's to be expected, given how young you are, and who your father is."
Ranma finally opened her eyes. "You callin' my dad an idiot?"
"Oh." Ranma blinked. "Okay then. Just so we understand."
"Other guesses?" Happosai prompted.
Ranma shook her head.
Happosai snorted. "Alright then." He pulled out a pile of bras from his pocket and flung them to Ranma. "I'm happy to keep beating on you until you get it."
(Scene break, just in case)
The Tendo patriarch looked up from his paper with a cigarette dangling from his mouth. "Yes, Master?" The old man was standing out on the veranda, looking at the koi pond. He looked unusually grim.
"You're training Rogue now in the mornings. I want you to teach her everything."
"Everything?" Soun blinked.
"Ah… of course, Master. May I ask why?"
"Ranma's my student now."
Soun blinked again.
"Pull no punches."
Something in Happosai's voice made Soun shiver.
(Scene break, just in case)
Rogue found Ranma that morning on her back in the dojo with her eyes closed, surrounded by a pile of sweaty lingerie. When she didn't move at the sound of her footsteps, she bent over her prostrate form and poked her gently in the forehead with a bare finger.
Ranma opened one eye and looked at her. "What was that for?"
She shrugged. "You were open. Mind if I sit?"
Ranma shrugged. "Go ahead."
"Thanks for letting me sleep in today. I'm still a bit hung over, I think."
"Didn't have a choice, really." Rogue stepped over her body and brushed some of the underwear away from where she wanted to sit. She sank down into a cross legged pose at the top of Ranma's head so she could look down at her. "You look like shit," she said. "Happosai?"
Ranma chuckled. "Yeah. How'd you guess."
"He sent me in here to 'clean you off the floor."" Rogue warily picked up some of the underwear she had moved. "Plus, there's lots of this stuff around. I really hope it isn't yours, because this color would just clash horribly with your skin tones." She dropped the offending article on to Ranma's head. "So, what were you guys doing in here?"
Ranma picked up the garment and tossed it aside. "Ki techniques."
Rogue perked up. "Really?"
"Yeah. Turns out the pervert had something useful to tell me, after all."
"So, what is it?"
"It's like the ki equivalent of a tai chi move. You use your opponents own ki against him, but rather than to inflict pain, you use it to prevent injury to yourself. It's not hard, but it takes an incredible amount of control and also timing."
"So, what's with the bras, then?"
"Happosai's a pervert. He couldn't demonstrate it normally unless he was taking one off."
Rogue scratched her head. "I'm confused."
Ranma motioned for her to get up. She did so, and the red-head sprang to her feet and took a ready pose. "Alright. Now, kick me."
Rogue shrugged and sent a half-hearted snap kick at Ranma's midsection. The other girl snorted and blocked it. "Come on, Rogue. This only works if you put something into it."
"Fine." Focusing a bit harder, Rogue's foot shot out again, catching Ranma in the stomach and sending the smaller girl across the dojo floor. Rogue's eyes widened and she ran over to where Ranma was curled in a ball. "I thought you were going to block!"
"I did!" Ranma uncurled and popped up with a wink, holding up Rogue's bra between them. Then she noticed exactly what it looked like and blushed. "Wow. That's… a nice choice."
Rogue snagged it out of Ranma's hands and wrapped it around her back so the clasps met in the front over her navel. With practiced hands, she fastened the clasps and flipped it around so she could shrug into it under her shirt. "If you wanted to see it, you could have just asked, you know."
The conversation sort of ground to a halt as Rogue continued to squirm into her bra without taking off her shirt. Ranma just watched, fascinated by the way her body moved in response.
"You could have helped."
Ranma shook her head with a grin. "It's in my interest not to."
Rogue stuck her tongue out. Ranma looked around to make sure they were alone and stole a kiss while she was making faces at him. Rogue's eyes widened when she realized she was kissing a girl, but she quickly got passed her shock and returned the kiss eagerly. Unfortunately, the ki drain had stated on contact and so Rogue pulled away once she could feel Ranma weakening. Ranma collapsed onto her back onto the dojo floor.
Rogue grimaced and scooted around so she could see Ranma's face.
Ranma tilted her head to look at her. "I'm sorry, Rogue."
She shook her head. "Not your fault. I just wish I could touch you. Like a normal person."
Rogue lay down on her side on the floor next to the red-head, propping her head up on her hand as she looked down. "What are we gonna do?"
Ranma turned her head to stare up at the ceiling. "I don't know." She wasn't exactly sure which part of the problem she was talking about, though. It was easier to distract herself than to dwell. "You wanna train?"
Rogue snorted. "No. I wanna fuck, but I guess training will have to do for now."
Ranma grinned but then remembered where she was. "Maybe we can talk about that later. Walls have ears here."
Rogue pouted. "Okay. But you," she poked Ranma in the breast, "will have to buy me ice cream, then, or I'll get you good."
"Oh yeah? Is that a threat, or a promise?"
Rogue made sure she was alone, then leaned forward and whispered in Ranma's ear. "A promise. You should know I don't make threats I can't deliver on."
Her voice was tinged with lust induced huskiness that caused Ranma to shiver. "Deal." A lecherous grin appeared on her face. She glanced over at Rogue to see a matching smirk on her face.
The sound of a throat clearing behind them made them both jump. Happosai stood looking at the pair, his hands behind his back and for once his expression completely serious.
"Sit down," he said. Rogue did as instructed, sitting down next to Ranma, both of them keeping a wary eye out on the old pervert. Happosai was unperturbed. "Rogue, you are no longer to train with Ranma unless it is supervised by me."
Both Ranma and Rogue objected loudly to this. Happosai's face darkened and the protests died under his withering gaze. "Good." He paused. "In the mornings, Ranma will be working with me. Rogue, Soun is now in charge of your training. In the afternoons, when you get back from school, I will be in charge of your training."
Neither of them was expecting this. Ranma finally asked why.
"Your gift is dangerous."
Rogue snapped, "You think I don't know that?"
"You could have fooled me. You don't seem to be working very hard on learning to control it."
Rogue's annoyance at the old man, already high, spilled over. "Just what do you think I've been doing since I got here? Taking baking lessons? I've been working on meditation and control, and I've gotten better."
Happosai ignored her protests. Faster than she could react, he reached forward and grabbed her hand by the wrist. He held his other hand out to Ranma. "Ranma, your hand, please."
Ranma held out her hand.
Happosai looked directly at Rogue. "Open your hand."
She tried to pull away but couldn't. "Let go of me."
Happosai repeated his command.
"No!" Rogue tried unsuccessfully once again to pull free. Something in his tone of voice was making her nervous.
Happosai applied pressure to her wrist and twisted, causing her to gasp in pain and her hand to open automatically. Before she could react, he placed her hand on Ranma's. They both paled as Rogue could feel the ki drain starting. She started pulling frantically on Happosai's grip, trying to get free.
The old man completely ignored her struggles as he said in a conversational tone, "So you've been training. But you haven't been working to control your gift. You've been content to let Ranma figure it all out." Happosai continued. "But you see, it's your gift, so it's your problem. Not Ranma's. If you want to fix it, you're going to have to work on it."
Next to her, Ranma was becoming increasingly pale as she was drained of ki. Rogue wanted to argue with him, but she knew he was right. "Alright." She licked her lips nervously. "You've proven your point. Let go."
"No." Happosai just held on. "You realize you're going to kill him, right?" Happosai nodded in Ranma's direction.
Beside her, Ranma's eyes rolled back in her head as she fainted. The thud of him hitting the ground made her flinch. Happosai didn't let go, though. Ranma's breathing turned ragged.
"LET GO!" She tried desperately to pull free. "PLEASE!"
Happosai continued to ignore her, instead watching Ranma. Rogue started crying as Ranma's breathing continued to become more labored. Finally, it stopped.
At that moment Happosai let go of her hand. Rogue instantly scrambled over to Ranma, but before she could help him she felt a powerful kick to her chest, knocking her across the dojo. She slid to a stop against one of the far walls hard enough to see stars.
She heard a thud as Happosai pounded once on Ranma's chest. With a gasp, the pig-tailed martial artists took in tortured gasp as her heart restarted. She curled into a ball as she tried to catch her breath, taking huge gulps of air.
Rogue staggered to her feet, unable to see straight because of her anger and tears. "You fucking crazy old pervert! You nearly killed him!" She ran over to Ranma and cradled her head in her lap, wanting comfort the martial artists with her hands but knowing that she couldn't touch her.
"No." Happosai face her. "You did. We're going to do this every day until you learn to control your gift, or you kill him."
With that, the old man left the dojo.
(Scene break, just in case)
"Rogue, wait up!"
Rogue spun and saw Akane running down the path. She waited until the other girl caught up.
Akane kept looking over at the other girl as they fell into step together.
"Are you okay?" Akane asked.
Rogue shook her head, not really trusting herself to speak right now.
Akane bit her lower lip. "Hey, um… You want to get some coffee, or something, so we can talk about it? You'll feel better, I promise."
Rogue didn't want to, but eventually agreed. They slid into opposite sides of a booth at the school cafeteria, each with a cup of tea in front of them. Under Akane's prompting, Rogue related the story with Happosai in the dojo that morning. Akane was understandably upset, but there was little she could do.
"What are you going to do?" Akane asked.
Rogue shook her head and sighed. "I don't know. I just…" she trailed off. "I don't want to hurt him, Akane."
Akane nodded and reached over to hold her hand. Unfortunately, Rogue wasn't wearing gloves and started draining her ki immediately. Akane pulled her hand back like she'd been shocked.
Rogue burst into tears.
"Rogue! Oh! I'm sorry! I didn't mean it!" Akane got up and came over to Rogue's side of the booth. Carefully, she rubbed the other girl's back, taking care to avoid any skin to skin contact. Eventually Rogue managed to calm down. She gave Akane a sheepish smile as she wiped her eyes and blew her nose on a tissue.
"No, it's okay. I understand." Akane rubbed her back some more. "You love him, don't you?"
Akane grinned at her and chuckled.
Finally, Rogue had enough. "What?"
"Where'd you guys go after the bar? Me and Rezu lost sight of you guys. We got worried when you didn't answer your phones."
"I really don't think this is the best time to talk about that, Akane. I mean, Happosai nearly killed Ranma using my own powers."
Akane shrugged. "Happosai's a bastard. No denying that. But I want to know about what happened!"
Rogue laughed. The topic change was welcome, though. "We…" Rogue trailed off, thinking about how to phrase it. "We ended up way too drunk and passed out in a hotel room."
Akane blinked. "Really?"
"You guys had sex, didn't you?"
Rogue looked away. "I'm not answering that."
Akane practically squealed. "This is great!"
Rogue tried to get the other girl to calm down. In the end, she had to agree to go back to Akane's room and tell her all the gory details. It took a lot longer than she thought and surprisingly, she enjoyed telling her about the whole experience a lot more than she thought she would. By the end, she wasn't nearly as upset about the morning, even though it did cast a pall over the tale.
Akane leaned back on her bed. "You're lucky, you know."
"What do you mean?"
"Ranma. I mean, his sense of honor's so fine tuned that he wouldn't have done that, no matter how drunk he was, if he didn't want to." She gave a little mirthless chuckle. "I should know. You have no idea how many times Xian Pu tried to get him liquored up and into the sack."
"I know he likes me. He couldn't hide it from me even if he wanted to." Rogue tapped her head.
"So how did you get around your condition, anyway?"
Rogue sighed and flopped down onto the bed next to her boyfriend's ex-fiancée. "Not sure. It was something Ranma did, but he hasn't been able to recreate it yet."
Akane clapped her hands. "That's good news, then! You know it can happen!"
"Yeah." Rogue's earlier funk returned. "But will it happen before I kill him?"
Akane rolled over to her bedside nightstand and opened the top drawer. She rummaged around for a bit and pulled out a rather large and realistic looking dildo. "Maybe you can borrow this to distract you until Ranma figures it out?"
"Akane? You're a sweet girl, but that's just gross."
(Scene break, just in case)
Things fell quickly into a pattern at the Dojo. Happosai didn't lie. His training regimen made his days under his father look like a cake walk.
Happosai kept him sleep deprived and his ki supply virtually empty. Every morning he'd get thrown out of bed and trained to the point of muscular failure. From there, he was forced to spar with Rogue until he was both physically exhausted and drained of ki. His reaction times suffered. Things he could have shrugged off at full strength were impossible to ignore while so weak. Happosai took no mercy on him though, brutally destroying his guard and picking him apart. After he was done, he had Ranma meditate to try and rebuild his ki as rapidly as possible and working on more advanced ki manipulation.
If the physical training was hard, the ki manipulation was worse. Ki manipulation, done incorrectly, hurt. It had consequences. Being exhausted and running dangerously low on ki only made the exercises harder. Needless to say, Ranma ended up in Tofu's clinic a lot, being treated for ki burns and exhaustion on top of his training injuries.
Rogue' training was with Soun was no less brutal. Soun was determined to ensure she was working as hard as Ranma. Classes lasted until breakfast, and then they had to head off to their respective schools. Ranma was so exhausted he ended up sleeping in most of his. Before, the afternoons were an opportunity for Rogue and Ranma to work on ki exercises together. However, under the new training regimen, it was all Ranma could do to stay awake until dinner time.
In the evenings, Happosai took Rogue aside. He first forced her to drain Ranma until he collapsed, and then set about training her. His training was very different from Ranma's. Ranma was trying to develop her ki pathways so she could control and manipulate it. Happosai, on the other hand, was trying to teach her to shut those pathways down so she couldn't drain people. It involved a lot of pressure points and nerve attacks and was perhaps the most painful thing she'd ever experienced in her life.
Surprisingly, Happosai had left the two of them alone for the most part, not bothering Rogue as much as he had previously. Except at bath time, that is. Ranma was too tired to maintain a changing room vigil to keep the old pervert out of the bathroom while Rogue was bathing. So the old pervert took advantage of it, groping Rogue with near impunity.
He didn't need Rogue's insistence to find some way to fix the problem. For both their sakes, he needed to figure it out, and fast. He wasn't sure how much longer he could last like this. He'd done it once. He could do it again. Ranma Saotome never failed.
(Scene break, just in case)
Happosai kicked through Ranma's guard and sent the pig-tailed martial artist rocketing towards the pond again. Ranma, now female, didn't even try to get out of the pond.
"Get up," Happosai commanded.
With a groan, Ranma rolled over and unsteadily worked her way to her feet. She tried to get into a ready stance, but she was so weak that Happosai didn't even bother with subterfuge. He blasted through her guard and sent her crashing into the wall of the compound. Ranma bounced off the wall and crumpled.
Happosai walked over to where the red-head had collapsed. "Get up."
Struggling weakly, Ranma managed to get one arm under her and pushed up. She wasn't able to get much farther, though, because Happosai kicked her in the ribs, flipping her over and knocking the breath out of her lungs.
"Pathetic." Happosai kicked her in the ribs again. "Why are you so weak, hmm?"
Ranma growled, but it was cut short as another foot caught her in her already sore ribs. "Not! Weak!" She gasped, "no…ki."
Happosai stopped kicking her. "Whose fault is that?"
Panting, Ranma just lay there.
Happosai kicked her again and asked the same question. "Why are you out of ki?"
"Drained," was Ranma's response.
"Have you learned nothing? There's all this ki just floating around. Use it! Take it! What are you waiting for?"
Ranma gasped as another kick found her ribs. She felt something break. Beyond exhaustion at this point, her mind became detached from her body as she floated between consciousness and oblivion. Pain was something that happened to her body, but her mind was free. Her senses were a dull, jumbled mess because her body had been pushed too far. At the same time, everything around her seemed vibrant and almost hyper-saturated with color.
Happosai pulled out a pair of used underwear and wiped his brow. To Ranma, it seemed to burn like the sun.
Finally, she understood. She was so drained of ki, her body was breaking down. But everything else around her was just saturated in ki, bleeding of bits of it into the atmosphere. With nothing left to lose, she opened up.
It felt almost like drowning. Ranma inhaled deeply, but instead of taking in a lung full of water, she inhaled as much ki as she could, willing her body to absorb it. It burned. The little bit of ki also made her aware of how badly she was hurt, which only added to the pain.
She felt the next kick coming at her again. She let the flood gates open, absorbing as much ki as she could and tried to block the kick. It was clumsy, but instead of catching her on the ribs again, she was able to block it with her forearm.
"Good!" Happosai chuckled. "Very good." The kicks stopped coming. "It took you long enough."
Ranma's vision swam in and out of focus. She heard Happosai telling her to rest up, because the evening session was going to be even worse.
(Scene break, just in case)
Happosai was already in the Dojo with Ranma when Rogue came in. The two of them were sitting in the middle of the floor in a meditative position. Happosai opened one eye when she came in and indicated she should sit next to Ranma.
Rogue hesitated. She hated this. It was always the same in these "lessons." When she sat down next to Ranma, Happosai would force her to drain Ranma until he was practically out of ki.
She did, but was unable to relax. She jumped when she felt a hand briefly squeeze her knee, but relaxed a bit when she realized it was Ranma's. Happosai got up and walked in circles around the couple, his footsteps falling softly on the dojo's wooden floors.
"Tonight's lesson," started the old man, "is about the way in which ki behaves."
Ranma snorted and then yelped as he got brained by Happosai's pipe. The old man made the pipe disappear with a flourish and continued his pacing. "Hmph. If you want to live through this exercise, I suggest you listen well. Ki is the energy given off by living things. But at the same time, all living matter is comprised of ki. Rock or flesh, it's all basically ki on one form or another. Your body is energy. The wood you are sitting on is energy. Everything is energy. Just because it is solid now does not mean that it can't be converted to energy at some point."
Even at the risk of being brained again, Ranma interrupted. "Like you and your panties, huh? You just use them as little batteries."
Rogue snorted and peeked at Ranma. He gave her a wink. Happosai didn't bother to correct the pig-tailed martial artist. Instead, he nodded.
"Essentially, yes. Panties are close to areas that give off a lot of life energy. They're great for that. But more importantly, I also happen to be a true pervert and they help satisfy one of my many kinks."
Ranma and Rogue had the same reaction. "Ew."
"Don't knock it till you've tried it." The pacing stopped. "But unlike the electricity stored in batteries, ki's alive. It thinks. It feels. It moves. Like water, it has potential energy. Dam it up and allow the quantity to build up, and it becomes an unstoppable force when it is finally released. Or, if you allow a small trickle through and the power can be harnessed for other purposes, like augmenting your body. But, like electricity, if you build up too much potential, it will find someway to equalize the imbalance. Too much charge in one area and ki jumps to make sure all the charges are equalized."
"Like lighting," said Rogue.
"It's a bit more complicated, than that, but essentially yes." Happosai nodded. "Because ki is most basic component of life, it is always positively charged and is looking to move into areas where ki doesn't exist. I bring this up is because of your condition."
The old man stepped in front of Ranma and barked out his name.
"Yeah?" Ranma replied.
"What have you discovered about Rogue's ki that is unique?"
The pigtailed martial artist slumped over and scratched his head. "Well… it's weird. I don't know how best to explain it. Everyone has a distinct ki signature, but there are things that are similar in everyone. Like their aura, or the color of their ki, ya know?"
Happosa nodded. "Continue."
"Well, hers is like the opposite of that." Ranma said. "Where I'd expect white or neutral tones, hers are black. It's kind of like looking at a photo negative. It also fluctuates every time she drains someone, and the whole spectrum just flips until it matches the aura of whoever she's drained. It remains stable for a short bit until it starts to degrade and reverts back to 'normal.'"
Happosai nodded and turned towards Rogue. "When you drain someone, how do you feel?"
Rogue blinked. "What do you mean?"
"Do you notice any physical differences?" Happosai asked. "Nausea, headaches, anything?"
Rogue shook her head. "No, nothing like that." She paused. "If I drain someone deeply, it feels like I've had a strong cup of coffee, though."
Happosai nodded and turned back to his student. "Anything else you've noticed about her ki, Ranma?"
"Yeah." Ranma said. "It seems to circulate differently in her than other people."
Happosai nodded and indicated he should continue.
Ranma balled his fists up and placed them at his stomach. "In everyone else I've ever seen, their ki starts here, in their stomach, then expands outward." He opened his hands, moving them in opposite directs as he opened his fingers, mimicking the way ki expanded in the body. He pointed over his shoulder with his thumb at his girlfriend. "In her, it seems to do the opposite. It starts at the outside and collapses towards her stomach."
"And when it gets there?" Happosai prompted.
He got a far off stare. "I don't know what happens to it next. I mean, I should be able to track it moving through her body, right? So, when it gets to her core, it should stay there, right? I mean, it can't go anywhere else unless it's pushed there, but I can't see it moving. Where does it go? I don't understand. It should be moving to her limbs every time she does a ki based move, but it doesn't." He shook his head. "I'm stumped, and Tofu doesn't understand it either."
Happosai nodded. "And you probably wouldn't, no matter how long you worked at it. It's not normal, and by rights she shouldn't be alive."
Ranma looked troubled, but he nodded. "Yeah, I figured as much. So, what's going on, then?"
Happosai pointed at Rogue. "You can't see her ki move because it doesn't look anything like you'd expect it to. Everything has an opposite. Like matter and anti-matter. Ki's a positive life force. Everything has it. But, somehow, Rogue's negatively charged. That's why her aura is weird, and why her ki reacts differently than you'd expect. It makes her a black hole. Ki needs to move, going to areas that don't have any. Anything she touches with will be forced to give up its ki to try and fill the void." He got a nasty grin. "But you can't fill a black hole. It just keeps taking and taking, growing stronger with each addition, until eventually it consumes everything around it. Nothing can escape."
Both the younger adults shifted in their seats, clearly uncomfortable with this image.
"So where does the ki go?" Rogue asked.
Happosai shrugged. "I bet a portion of it is still there, sitting in your core. If you ever figure out how to access that, you'll be very, very formidable as an opponent. However, a vast majority of it gets converted into the memories and abilities you gain when you drain someone, and the rest gets converted into whatever weird energies you need to survive." The old man sat down opposite the couple, facing them.
Silence stretched as the pair chewed this over in their mind. Finally, Ranma asked, "So why were we able to..." Both he and Rogue blushed. "Why was I able to stop it before?"
Happosai snorted. "Why were you able to fuck her before, you mean?"
The pair shifted uncomfortably. Eventually, Rogue nodded. "Yeah. Why, for just that one time, was Ranma able to touch me?"
"What makes you think Ranma had anything to do with it?" Happosai arched an eyebrow.
Ranma sat up straight and opened his mouth to protest. Happosai watched in amusement as the gears in the boy's head caught up with his mouth. Before he said anything, he sat back down with a grunt. "We were drunk." Ranma said slowly. "Really drunk. I thought it was something I did, but I couldn't have been. I can't really control my ki when I'm drunk." He turned to regard Rogue. "But if your ki behaves pretty much the inverse of everything I've ever been taught, then…"
He trailed off. Rogue's eyes slowly widened as she came to the same conclusion he did.
"Do you understand why the solution where Ranma stops you from draining him won't work?" Happosai asked.
They both nodded. Rogue said, "No matter how good his control gets, he won't be able to stop me forever." She looked up at the old man. "Which means…" She lunged for Happosai, but the old man bounced out of the way before she could make contact.
Happosai cackled. "Finally caught on, did you?"
Ranma blinked. "Wait. What?"
Rogue stood up and stepped menacingly towards the old man. "Happosai's not immune to my touch."
Ranma stood up too, following Rogue. "Then how?"
Happosai grinned. "Remember what you learned earlier today, Ranma?"
Ranma blinked, and then blinked again. "You're drawing ki from your surroundings, aren't you? You just feed her ambient ki, rather than your own. So she gets nothing from it. No memories, no powers, nothing."
Rogue took another step towards Happosai, intent on causing bodily harm. She was stopped in her advance, however, when Ranma grabbed her elbow.
She looked back at him. He was grinning broadly. "Come on," he said. "I want to try something." He pulled her towards the center of the dojo and took a seat, pulling her down next to him. He placed the back of his hand on her knee so that his palm was facing upwards.
"Rogue, I want you to hold my hand till I pull away, okay?"
She nodded nervously. "Ready?"
"One second." Ranma closed his eyes. She watched as his breathing slowed down a bit more and his head hung forward. "Okay. Ready!"
Rogue gingerly touched his palm with her bare skin. She heard a grunt from Ranma, and soon she could feel the ki being pulled into her body. Memories started to flood her head of the brutal sparring match he'd suffered with Happosai earlier, and the success he'd had at pulling ki from his surroundings as he finally understood what Happosai always used his stolen goods for.
Rogue's eyes widened as she understood how it felt to open up to the world around her to pull in ki. The stream of memories abruptly cut off as she felt Ranma jerk his hand away, panting.
Happosai sat in the corner of the dojo, watching the pair. "Well, how'd you do, Ranma?"
The younger man shook his head. "It was too hard. I need more practice."
Happosai nodded. "Having Rogue drain you as you practice will speed things along."
"As for you, Rogue." The old man lit his pipe. "You are to practice this too. However, you are not to do it while you are touching anyone. Understood?"
"Why not?" she responded.
"Because. If you start pulling in ambient ki around you, you'll drain all ki around you as fast as your body can absorb it. If you're touching someone, it will probably kill them instantaneously."
Rogue blanched. "Then why do you want me to practice it, then?"
"Because," Happosai replied, "You'll eventually need every bit of ki you can get access to in order to understand how to control your condition. Part of that will be having access to a ready supply of ki." He pointed at Ranma and then himself. "We can be training dummies for you to practice on. But if you want to ever be able to touch anyone else, you'll need to figure out what happens to the ki you absorb, and then you'll have to learn to control that ability."
Rogue felt like the next couple of months were going to be hell.
(Scene break, just in case)
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