Down The Rabbit Hole
(Love Hina Arc)
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– Junk In The Trunk –
Returning from his trip into town to pick up some supplies and get his prep-school schedule Ranma was surprised to find a set of three trunks lined up outside the front entrance to the inn.
"Wonder where these came from?" he queried aloud. Looking them over he noted that each had not only the Urashima crest engraved into the central latch but his name as well. "I guess they're mine."
With a shrug he piled picked the first of them up and hauled it into the inn calling out his return to anyone who might be home but with it being the middle of the day there came no reply as all of the girls were at school. Normally Kitsune would've been home and likely lounging out on the couch in the main room but she'd left earlier on a few equine related errands shortly after the girls had left.
Once he had all three in his room, each standing side by side, Ranma considered them. Each was quite sizable almost to the point that some might consider them pieces of furniture in their own right as each trunk stood four feet in height and were easily three feet in width and just a bit deeper in depth. Inside each were a myriad of drawers on one side and a space to hang clothes or store shoes on the other. In effect the three of them were the equivalent of a dresser or a small closet and with their being three Ranma now had little need for any other form of furniture save a table, his futon, and possibly a desk should he feel the need for one.
With a shrug Ranma plucked the envelope secured to the currently central of the three trunks and opened it:
"Well, that solves where they came from, though I suppose the engravings shoulda done that."
I hope this letter finds you well and in pleasant spirits. I know the last time we spoke to each other our words we not the most pleasant but I ask you to never forget that I love you and wish only the best for you. To that end, and as a gesture of my well wishing, I have sent along a few of your things to you as you left the house with so little I imagine you need more than a few outfits to wear.
"Got that right." Ranma said with a nod. He'd found he only had about four days worth of clothing on him as spares and was getting rather tired of the little quips Naru and Kitsune had been making at his expense about his wardrobe. Kitsunes comments were more offers to help him go pick out some new ones, so long as he modeled them, were getting a tab bit old.
Now, along with your personal effects and clothing I have sent along a few things that I expect you to becoming familiar with as they will help you achieve the goal of becoming the man I know you are capable of becoming. Just remember son, a little knowledge goes a long way and proper studying and preparation are key to succeeding but not all things can be learned without a little practical application. Experience is a key to success.
Love, your mother – Nodoka Urashima.
Slipping the letter back into its envelope Ranma turned to the trunks. "Ok. Let's see what mom sent me." Opening the central trunk first, as it had an "open me first" sticker on the latch the Urashima heir blinked. Then blinked again.
Ranma's shout of "WHAT THE HELL?" sent birds flying from the trees around the inn and rattled the plates down in the kitchen.
The reason for his reaction was that the nearly packed contents of the trunk were all sexual in nature ranging from magazines and help books to sexual items of a clearly invasive nature.
"IS SHE TRYING TO GET ME KILLED?" Ranma growled out, one eyebrow twitching as he calculated how long he would last if Narusegawa or Motoko discovered its existence. Sure he could handle them if it came down to it but even with as good as he was he knew they would make his stay here a living hell if they ever caught him in possession of even one of the things his mother had packed into the trunk before him. A brief shiver of both fear and deeply repressed sexual interest went up his spine a moment later when he thought about how Kitsune would react to finding him with it. He knew she'd either blackmail him for the rest of his life or offer to help him in some 'practical application' of the items in the trunk.
He then shook his head and chuckled, "Damn fox would probably do both."
He was about to shut the trunk when he noticed another envelope taped to the top of the trunks inside hanging down. Across the front of it in bold red ink was "READ ME NOW" written on it in kanji.
With a barely repressed shudder Ranma opened it and began reading, his left eyebrow twitching as he did so.
Son, I expect you will become familiar with every item within this trunk as I have gone to a great deal of effort to put together the very best of aids for you. Now I understand your distaste for your female form son, but I want you to think of it as a way to gain an understanding of the gentler sex as no other man can. To that end I want you to know that I will not consider it unmanly of you if you use some of these to experiment with upon your own female body as a means to better pleasure your (!FEMALE!) companions in the future.
Ranma stared unbelieving at what his mother was suggesting. Ok, maybe not unbelieving as his mother, "She who extols all things manly" had underlined, highlighted, and surrounded the word female with several exclamations. If her intent wasn't clear on that the way the word had been underlined in a way that made it look like a katana which had sliced off the top of the letter i in the line beneath it.
I especially expect you to study the manuscript you will find in the central drawer my son. I will be quizzing you upon it when we next have the chance to talk. Do not fail me in this my son as I would consider it to be VERY unmanly of you to do so. I would hate to have to resort to further sanctions against you beyond banishing you from our home for you to overcome in order to prove your manliness.
Love, your mother – Nodoka Urashima.
Unable to resist his morbid sense of curiosity Ranma reached out and opened the drawer. His eyes instantly widened so much they took up nearly seventy percent of his face as he looked over the oddly glittering spidery script engraved upon the cover of the leather bound tome within. A large sweatdrop formed over his head at his instant recognition of Happosai's handwriting "Oh kami… please no…"
Despite wishing it wasn't so the book entitled "A Guide To A Woman's Body And Ki" simply wouldn't vanish. Ranma felt dirty just looking at it… he could even swear the thing was giving off lust chi!
Schooling his horror Ranma slammed the offending trunk closed with an audible :-:clack:-:, "What In The Name Of The Kami Is Mom Thinking!" He shivered in disgust and double checked to make sure all the latches were doubly secured on the 'Trunk from Hell'.
After a moment to calm himself the now pacing and frowning Ranma glared at the trunk as it if were his mother in proxy and he could burn a hole through her. "Ok. I know what she was thinking… but damn it this stuff could get me killed if not seriously maimed!"
Eying the other trunks Ranma shivered imagining what they might contain. It took him another thirty minutes just to get up the courage to open the next trunk but to his relief it, and the next one, contained only clothing and books – said manuscripts concerning either school work or martial arts and nothing remotely perverted. He was also glad to note that neither contained any female garments alleviating his fear his mother might have expectations of him to also be a woman-among-women or some such unacceptable non-sense.
His perusal of the other trunks complete Ranma stepped back and stared at the central trunk and began pacing again. "Ok, calm down Ranma. You've got 'til one of 'em gets home to get rid of this stuff and that's only…" he looked at the digital clock his grandmother had left behind and groaned "about an hour or so from now."
His eyes widened. "An hour? Crap! Where they heck am I going to get rid of this thing!" His pacing increased. "Think think think!"
Simply burning it came to mind; that is until he thought about how his mother would react if she found out. Her note had been very explicit about what she would do if failed at her 'simple' request and even though he was rather upset with her for kicking him out he did have a desire to reconcile with her at some point in the future. Plus, with the exception of Happosai's manuscript, there was a very very very deeply buried part of him was interested about some of the stuff in the trunk. Not that he would EVER admit it save perhaps under threat of eating only Akane's cooking for every meal for the rest of his life.
Continuing to pace Ranma considered the option of just locking tightly it with several chains then covering it in warning stickers and then pray the girls wouldn't get into but decided it was out of the question as he was sure they would want to know what was inside if even more. Plus, though none of them had yet to actually invade his rooms unless he was there, he had little illusion that Kitsune respected his privacy all that much. As to the male hating duo; given the idea there was something that could endanger the residents of the inn Motoko would just use one of her Ki techniques to pop it open. Narusegawa? She'd just use the inherent brute strength of the tomboy to break them. No, just locking the 'trunk of horror', hoping they'd respect his privacy was out of the question.
'Maybe I should bury it up at my private springs.' Ranma thought 'If it happened to get caught in the cross-fire during my training it wouldn't be like it was my fault, right?'
His brief smile at the trunk being destroyed returned to a frown. "That still won't get me off the hook with mom she'd just think it unmanly of me to allow it to be destroyed." He then growled loudly. "Damn it! What the heck am I supposed to do! I can't keep it up here. I wish Haruka were…"
Then it hit him.
"THE TEA SHOP!"
He smiled again. "That's it! I can hide it there with aunt Haruka 'til I think of a better place!"
Grinning at the brilliance of his plan Ranma hefted the offending trunk across his back, stepped out of his room, leapt over the currently open railing window to the ground where he quickly made his way to the long flight of stairs leading down to his aunt's shop. He reached the bottom of it without difficulty and was just about to reach the promised haven that would save his hide when he heard Kitsune say, "Whatcha got there?"
"Um… a trunk." Was his brilliant reply.
"I can see that." Kitsune said he free hand, the one not helping to cradle a bag filled with sake, going to her chin. "Where did it come from?"
"Oh! Wait! That mustta been what those delivery guys were droppin' off this mornin' when I left."
She then leaned forward eying both Ranma and the trunk with greater interest.
"Who were they for?"
"Me?" Ranma said, his response sounding more like a question then an answer.
"For little ole you eh?"
"If they're for you? Why ya headin' towards the tea shop?"
"Um… I wasn't. I was um… just getting my bearings."
Kitsune considered his words and then smiled devilishly, "So what's in it?"
Gulping at hearing her voice the question whose answer could get him killed, or in this case, blackmailed into becoming the fox's boy-toy Ranma grinned nervously as he lied, "Um… I don't know."
"It's yer trunk but ya'll got no idea what's inside?" Ranma shook his head side to side, then started to sweatdrop when Kitsune rubbed her hands together eagerly. "Well then. Lets open'er up!"
"NO! err… heheheh I should really get it up to my room first. Yeah. That's it. I mean if it's got clothes in it I wouldn't want them to spill all over ya know?"
"Hurm… Ya'll got a point there sugar." She then clapped her hands in a commanding fashion "Ok, up 'n at'em with that thing big boy! Let's get that sucker up to yer room 'n pop'er open!"
Heaving a silent sigh of relief at having avoided his fate for the moment, Ranma turned himself around and headed back up the stairs with it, switching to dragging it about half way in an effort to lengthen the time it would take him to get it up the inn in hopes Kitsune's so far limited patience would be worn-out and she would head up on her own. This would give him an opportunity to switch this trunk with one of the others before she came to see what was inside.
To his relief she reacted exactly as he predicted, he even went so far as to suggest that she take a few minutes to get them something to drink and maybe a snack – both suggestions she accepted with little convincing.
Once she was out of sight it was trunk on back and haul-ass; his body straining slightly under the extra effort he was putting on it as it wasn't in nearly good enough shape for him to be pulling these kind of high strength maneuvers just yet.
It was however ready for what he did once he made it to the room, and that was switching the contents of the 'trunk of horror' into one of the other trunks and vice-versa. Stepping outside his room and to the still open sliding doors to the outside Ranma dropped the now 'trunk of horror' to the ground below just in time to be standing there in a relaxed stance when Kitsune topped the stairs.
Thirty worry filled minutes later, Kitsune finally tired of looking through the clothing his mother had sent and with a final attempt to get him to into a compromising position Ranma watched her go to leave his room. His nervousness returned when she moved to shimmy herself up to sit on the railing over which he'd dropped the trunk.
"You know manager-san. One of these day's you're gonna have to let me take you out for a good drink."
"Really? That easy?" Kitsune asked voicing her shock at Ranma's quick acceptance.
"Sure. Um… how about tonight."
Grinning widely Kitsune leapt down off the railing and posed sexily, "If you make a dinner date I'll make it worth yer while."
Flinching at the word date Ranma smiled weakly, "Um… well not a date."
"It wouldn't be right. Us… um… going on a date. With me being your manager."
"Awwww but it could have been fun." Kitsune stretched her body out and backwards doing her best to showcase her figure yet again. A little smirk played on her lips as she watched what she thought was Ranma finally showing a reaction to her flirting when in fact he was very worried she would turn her head and see the 'trunk of horror' below.
"I know!" Ranma uttered hurriedly, closing the distance between them so as to keep her attention on him. "How about I take you out as a thank you for helping me put away my clothing!"
Beaming Kitsune slid her feet before him, an arm coming up to playfully run a finger across his chest. "Really?"
Awww you don't want to go on a date with lil' ole me?"
"You bet. On me!" Stepping back Ranma waved his hands in front of him. "So long as we're clear it's not a date that is. Ok?"
Watching him through hooded eyes for several seconds Kitsune smiled widely, nodded, turned on one foot, and began to walk away with an exaggerated swing in her hips. "Fine. Not a date. But I expect it ta be someplace nice so dress up sugar. Something from the right side of your closet oughtta do."
Once she'd stepping into the confines of her room Ranma slumped and then straightened instantly just in time to avoid Kitsune seeing his action as she stuck her head back out of her doorway. "Oh and Ranma-kun, "Kitsune said deliberately using a friendly honorific "Ya'll take care of tellin' Shinobu we won't be here for dinner ok?" Then, with a wink she added "Pick me up at six.", blew him a kiss, and then slid her door shut behind her.
Shaking his head the pig-tailed manager leaped over the railing cursing the trunk as he picked it up, grumbling aloud "Damn it you stupid trunk, you're already causin' me trouble and no one's even seen what's inside of you yet.". He started down the stairs, still grumbling, "Aoyama and Narusegawa are gonna try to kill me for sure when they find out I'm taking Kitsune out even if it ain't a date and there's just no way she's not going to say something to them."
"Your… your taking Konno-sempai on a date?" A quiet but clear voice asked.
Snapping his head up Ranma found himself looking at a blushing Shinobu who held her school bag up before of her, the handle just below her chin. Even if she hadn't of spoken the sudden additional weight on his back atop the trunk let him know she was not alone.
"What's a date? Is it good to eat?"
"Actually…" The word no died on his lips.
"Well, yeah, they can be," Ranma answered with a chuckle. "but that's not the kinda date that Maehara-san is talking about Su-chan."
"Oh. What'cha talkin' about Shinobu?"
Shinobu blushed brightly, shook her head, and started to race up the stairs tugging her friend along behind her. "I… I'll tell you when we get to the inn. I have to start dinner."
Suddenly Shinobu found herself being the one dragged into the inn.
"Can we have banana stew! I love banana stew!" Was the last he heard of the two as they vanished out of sight.
Heaving a sigh of relief Ranma turned back to the trunk… to find Naru and Motoko glaring at him.
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO THOSE WHO CELEBRATE IT! Happy holidays to all others! May the season find you and yours well.
– Written December 25th, 2011