Ripples of a Chaotic Pebble
Interlude 1: Ryouga
Ryouga was truly lost.
This was nothing new to the fanged youth. Buildings reached high into the air around him, all alike. The sun was low in the east and if the numerous young people in school uniforms on the streets were any indication, it was rapidly approaching school time. With a small sigh of relief, he noted that at least there were no clouds in the sky.
With no discernible landmarks to guide him, the Lost Boy did what he usually did when faced with such confusion: He shrugged, picked a direction at random and started walking.
The sounds of a commotion drew his attention from a small park, causing the cursed boy to draw closer. A casual leap carried him over the fence which girdled the perimeter, and as he landed Ryouga took note of the disturbance. A short girl flinched from a crowd all alone, her dark hair in a straight, shoulder-length cut. She was perhaps no older than thirteen, and was fighting off several taller boys.
"Get her! Get the freak!"
"Hey, you!" Ryouga snarled, stopping the gang's advance and drawing their attention to him. He was pleased to note that two of the five boys went pale at the sight of him. "Why don't you stop picking on the girl and fight someone your own size!"
"Fine, beat him, then her!" The apparent leader called, and Ryouga snorted as they charged.
Amateurs, each and every one of them. He didn't bother to dodge or block their blows: His durability had, since the Bakusai Tenketsu training, entered the realm of nigh-immunity to damage from anyone but the most powerful martial artists. These punks were nothing. The first two boys threw their shoulders into their punches, both fists connecting at the same time.
Both boys winced at the sharp crack as their knuckles broke, and they fell to each side of the boy in an awkward tumble. The next boy, someone sort of like a martial artist, attempted a spinning kick at Ryouga's chest. This, too, ended in a broken bone, the boy's shin cracking sickly before the boy flopped to the ground writhing in agony. The last two boys, the two who'd paled at the sight of him, abandoned their attack runs to back off warily.
"Even a baby wouldn't have felt those," Ryouga muttered darkly to the howling boys on the ground, ignoring their cries as he moved past them to the girl. Far from looking frightened, she wore a distinct scowl on her face. "Hey miss, are you alright?"
"I was fine until you butted in on my fight!" The girl said grumpily, crossing her arms as she looked up at him. Ryouga's surprised look prompted her to pout, adding, "How am I supposed to get any good training if someone else is beating up the guys who want to fight me? Those jerks won't even be able to come at me for weeks now!"
"Well, I'm sorry miss!" Ryouga stammered blushing. "Uh, what's your name?"
"My name is Makoto Kino!" The girl informed him, pointing one finger in his direction. "And for beating up my opponents on me, you get to fight me instead!"
Ryouga gulped as the girl slipped into a very competent kempo stance. Today was just not his day.
"You fight pretty well for someone your age," the cute fanged boy finally noted after she'd tried a few passes. While she had only tagged him a couple times and both times she was certain she'd hurt her hands more than she'd hurt him, the praise ignited a warm glow in the young girl's belly.
After their short sparring match, where the boy had refused to fight back, Makoto had dragged the fanged boy to a nearby cafe so she could ferret out some of his martial arts techniques. He was obviously very shy, so she was certain she could charm him a bit and learn what she wanted.
"Well, I practice a bit," Makoto admitted with a giggle, chuckling to herself at the way the boy's face brightened. He was easily a few years older than her, yet the way he was stammering...
"A bit, huh?" The boy muttered, eyes not meeting hers.
"Well, more than a bit," Makoto acknowledged, taking a sip of her cafe-au-lait. She raised the cup and used it to gesture at the older teenager. "You, on the other hand... Where did you learn to fight like that? I couldn't even touch you except for those two times, and the times I did hit you it felt like I was hitting steel! What's your secret?"
"No secret," Ryouga said with a shy smile, avoiding the girl's look. "I just wander from place to place, learning martial arts as I go."
"That's sooo cool!" Makoto chirped, balancing her chin on her hands, elbows gently leaning on the table. She grinned broadly at the bright-faced young man, who stammered wordlessly. He was all hers. Cute, a little bit (but not too much) older, and a fighter straight out of her father's stories from when she was a child.
He was perfect.
"I guess," the boy admitted, taking a sip of his green tea.
"So do you have any rivals? Anyone who fights as well as you do?" The brunette asked, leaning forward. She wished she'd started growing... Without any chest to speak of, the full effect of the gesture was lost on the youth in front of her. Some day she'd have something to speak of, though. She was sure of it.
"I've got a couple people like that," Ryouga admitted with a dark look, shaking his head. "It's sort of confusing. I wouldn't call either of them my enemies, but they're not exactly my friends, either. We've fought side by side almost as much as we've fought against one another, so..."
"Sounds intense," Makoto admitted, scooting her chair in a bit more to admire the chocolate brown eyes of the boy across from her. She took another sip of her coffee, grinning at the look on the boy's face. Noting he'd finished his tea, she stood and grabbed his hand. "Come on! You look far too serious for someone out having fun!"
"Wha?" The boy demanded, surprised as Makoto physically dragged him to his feet. "Wait, where are we going?"
"You're coming with me to the mall! I've got some dresses I'd like to try on and I need an opinion on them! Don't just stand there, come on! Let's go!" Makoto ignored his sputtered protests and dragged him from the shop, turning to flash him a disarming grin. "Don't worry, after that we'll go see the new Jet Li movie! We'll make a date of it!"
"Date?" The boy yelped, causing Makoto to turn and flash him anothor smile.
"Don't worry about it! I know you should consider yourself lucky to be seen with a girl as cute as me, but don't worry about it! I like you anyway!" The short brunette chirped, enjoying the bright red blush that spread across the boy's face.
"Wait, miss, I'm-" He began, only to stop as Makoto spun and planted an index finger across his lips.
"Shush! We're going to have fun, and that's final. Do. I. Make. Myself. Clear?" She enunciated each of the last with the sort of finality her mother had used to keep her father in line. It succeeded on the boy in front of her just as well as it had in the past.
"To the mall, then," Ryouga finally concluded with a weak shrug.
Ryouga was in Hell. Or he was going to wind up there, anyway.
He'd thought Ranma had forced him to see it, before. He'd thought being forced to wander the Earth in a hunt for that bastard had been bad enough. He'd assumed that the curse was the worst sort of torture imaginable. He'd assumed wrong.
"What do you think of this one?" The young girl asked, twirling in a bright yellow sun dress. Ryouga smacked his face. "No? You're right, green would probably suit my skin and hair better, wouldn't it? I'll be right back!"
The problem was not necessarily her attention. The problem was her age: She was at that rather unique time in a person's life when a child begins to grow into their adulthood. They start to want adult things, act like adults, and in general be much more mature individuals.
Things like getting a crush on seventeen year old boys were natural for girls her age. Natural, and of course, a huge pain in the ass for one Ryouga Hibiki.
He could admit that in a few years, the girl would be very cute. She was also a lot of fun to hang out with: She could talk about martial arts with the sort of competence and experience very few people could accomplish, making her an interesting partner for conversation. That didn't change the fact that he couldn't date her. Not only was sweet Akari waiting for him, she was so young! He'd have to kick his own ass for doing it, let alone what her father would try to do to him!
As she disappeared into the changing booth, he considered leaving the store. Not that he could. Upon arriving in the store, she'd flashed him a wounded-puppy look and said that of course, a strong, noble person like him wouldn't possibly just leave an innocent, helpless girl like her all alone. She hadn't let up until he'd promised not to leave.
Innocent? Maybe. Helpless? Hell no. When she'd sparred with him briefly, she'd managed to tag him in the jaw with nearly as much strength as Akane packed into her punches. The muggers and hoodlums of Tokyo needed to fear her, not the other way around.
She emerged, and Ryouga smiled for a second. She was right, the green dress did look a lot better on her. He promptly smacked himself for thinking that thought, causing the girl to chuckle and set the dress aside for purchase.
Then she started trying on bathing suits.
Yes, Ryouga reflected, he was indeed in a new form of Hell.
Somehow, some way, he knew this was all Ranma's fault.
The sweet boy had blushed furiously the entire movie, Makoto noted with a triumphant grin. It might have had something to do with her seizing his hand and slinging his arm across her shoulders, but that was just another point in her favour. He'd struggled briefly before giving up, obviously concluding that Makoto's grip was not light by any stretch of the imagination.
After the film ended, he'd even offered to walk her home!
They walked through Minato Ward's streets in a companionable silence, the short brunette not yet having let go of his hand. He'd grown somewhat comfortable with her grasp by this point. All too soon, they arrived at her apartment.
She let go of his hand for just a moment, turning to unlock the front door. Maybe she could invite him up?
She turned back as a flash of bright light reflected off the glass of the door. Some man was clinging to her boyfriend before both disappeared in another flash of light, giving the bandanna-clad young man just enough time to flash her a confused look.
Makoto stood stock still for a moment, trying to process what had just happened. It made no sense whatsoever. Her new boyfriend had just been magically whisked away. It wasn't fair.
Then again, when had life ever been fair to her?
Ryouga stared across the open field, where his pigtailed rival had tumbled to a stop. One minute he was about to try to let some poor young girl with a crush down gently, the next this bastard had come and broken her heart by taking him away from her right in front of her very eyes?
Ryouga saw red.
"Ranma, for breaking that poor girl's heart, prepare to die!" The words were comforting.
So were the fists they exchanged.
It had been a while since Ryouga had had any stress relief.
It probably would have interested Ryouga to know that the poor girl in question happened to be watching at that very moment.
Just like he was, she was very confused about the entire situation. Her green eyes narrowed as she looked at the other fighter, the confusion clearing up for her far faster than it would clear up for the brown-eyed boy fighting her father.
The fake out there was deliberate, I assure you. I wanted to play with the "Character X saves Hotaru from bullies" cliché and having the victim be Makoto was a little more original, I felt.
I know at least one person really didn't want Makoto's old boyfriend to be Ryouga, but... well... This is a comedy-themed action/adventure. Ranma having to deal with Ryouga as his little girl's heart-breaking ex-boyfriend? Yeah, tell me you don't want to see that.
Anyhoo, apologies for the delay. I've been concentrating on a few other stories. Interestingly, they're all Ranma crossovers with other series. There's a Black Lagoon crossover called Forcibly United (a reworking of A Duet of Fists to not suck), a Tenchi Muyo GXP/El Hazard crossover called Galaxy Police Cadet Scramble and a crossover with The Last Vampire called Echoes of the Past. The first two are comedy-driven like this story, though the third is more of a throwback to my serious, LH&R days.
This is back on the docket, however. My creative batteries are recharged, so to speak.