I do not own anything written by Rumiko Takahashi or Kosuke Fujishima.
From her position floating over the roof above Akane's bedroom, Ranma sighed with relief as she watched through the roof, and the walls and floor beneath it, as her mother stepped into the house through the front door and began to switch her shoes for house slippers. Possibly the most boring day of her life was over! Or the boring part, at least.
Of course, Ranma wasn't the only one that had spent the long hours hopelessly bored, and the redhead's sigh morphed into giggles as the faint echo of Nodoka's shout letting everyone know she was home sounded through Akane's window, and the youngest Tendo threw off the blanket that Ranma could only see a hint of and practically levitated out of bed. But to the currently-a-succubus's surprise, she didn't strip off her might-as-well-not-be-there pajamas and put on her might-as-well-not-be-there after-school clothes. Instead, she stepped over to the window and called out, "Ranma, get down here!"
Ranma froze, panic flashing through her — She knows! For a moment she considered just quietly sneaking away.
Ranma gave up any thought of running away — they'd be training together, after all, no way to avoid her. Sighing resignedly, she dropped through the ceiling into Akane's room and winced at the blast of relieved irritation that hit her — Akane's enforced inactivity had not put her in a good mood. Ranma asked, "How'd ya know?" Then giggled at the way Akane had spun around, then turned beet red at the sight of the naked redhead and promptly spun around to face the window again, embarrassment replacing irritation. The succubus added, "You'll get used to it, I did, kinda."
"Get used to what?" Akane asked, staring at the property wall, then suddenly froze before whirling around to face Ranma again. This time, her reddening face wasn't from embarrassment, and Ranma found herself instinctively floating backward, away from the sudden blast of anger.
Stalking forward, Akane growled, "You haven't been peeking on the girls' showers at school, or me and Kasumi in the furo, have you?"
"I didn't mean to!" Ranma protested, then froze. Oh, crap!
"Didn't mean to? How do you not mean to use your invisibility to peep on naked girls!?" Akane demanded, voice rising. If she wasn't rapidly approaching full panic mode, Ranma would have been impressed that Akane wasn't shouting yet — her student really was getting at least some self-control.
"I'm not even in the room, I can't help it, I can't hardly see dead things!" Ranma blurted out, waving her hands around in shooing off gestures.
"You what?" Akane paused in her steady stalk, frowning. "What does that mean?"
"I have trouble seein' anything that's not alive — walls, cars, furniture, anything I can go through, it's hardly there. The denser it is the easier I can see something, but even solid steel's see-through!"
Akane stiffened, remembering the feel of bare skin against her own as the succubus Ranma carried her to her bed. That meant — "So you've been looking at us right through our clothes this whole time and nobody knew!?"
Ranma started backing up again. Akane's hands had covered her breasts and crotch, but they'd clenched into fists as she resumed stalking toward the succubus. Ranma hastily said, "Nabs knows, Mom knows, Kasumi ..." She frantically tried to remember if they'd ever actually said anything to the oldest sister.
"Yes? And Kasumi?"
"I dunno, I can't remember! Wouldn't matter, though, not ta Kasumi."
Akane paused for a moment, considering feeling insulted for her sister, then shrugged it off. Ranma was right, after all — if Kasumi found herself needing to host a nudist party, she'd strip down with a cheerful smile and a faint blush and carry on. "And why didn't you tell me!?"
"Uh ... 'cause I thought you'd try ta kill me? Ya got the temper for it." Akane froze, anger suddenly mixed with shame, and Ranma said, "I can't help it, it doesn't turn off — ya think I like seein' Mom an' Pop naked all the time? Would you like ta see yer pop naked whenever ya see him right through the wall?"
Akane turned greenish at the thought, the last of her anger washed away by disgust. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath before muttering something about lions. Opening her eyes again, she giggled at the sight of Ranma halfway buried in her bedroom door. She stepped back as Ranma sighed in relief at her student's lightening mood. "Relax, Ranma, you get to live to see the sun set," she said with a teasing smile. "Now could you leave while I change ... oh. Right, no point, not like you haven't seen everything already, over and over." She blushed again, but just turned away toward her wardrobe and began stripping off her pajamas.
"Right, sorry 'bout that," Ranma mutter, rubbing her neck behind her loose hair drifting in the air as she eased her way back into the room.
Akane sighed. "Not your fault," she said as she tossed her pajamas on her bed and pulled underwear and her gi out of the wardrobe. "I just wish you'd told me earlier."
"Yeah, right, not after what ya called me when ya found out we were lying about Ranko."
Ranma's muttered response was just a hair too loud, and Akane froze as shame flashed through her. After a moment she finished tying the fastenings on her gi and turned to face a suddenly blushing Ranma, ignoring her own red cheeks (and suppressing her automatic instinct to cover breasts and crotch). Quietly, she said, "I guess not. For what it's worth, I'm sorry I called you ... sorry I said that. And I really really mean it, this time. Friends?"
Ranma stared at her for a long moment, 'tasting' Akane's mix of shame, regret and hope, then smiled. "Sure, friends. But don't think that means I won't kick yer ass when we're trainin'."
"Oh, of course not," Akane replied, rolling her eyes and smiling back as relief flooded through her.
The two simply stood/floated smiling at each other for a long moment, until Ranma asked, "So, how did ya know I was on the roof?"
Akane shrugged. "I was lying in bed, mind drifting as I was dying of boredom, and I suddenly realized that I could sense you up there."
"You could? Cool! I guess we don't hafta ask Mom or Nabs if the bond took."
"I guess not." Akane strode past Ranma and opened the bedroom door. Forcing herself to turn back around to face the succubus (though her hands twitched), she said, "Come on, let's find them so they can tell us how it works."
"Right." Ranma floated through the wall to join Akane in the hall.
As they walked/floated toward the stairs, Akane added, "And tonight after practice, you and 'Nabs' are telling me everything there is to know about succubae."
"Uhhh ... maybe Nabs can do it."
"Hey, I'm not afraid a' nothin'!"
Akane was still laughing when they reach the foot of the stairs.
"So, nothing like a prayer?" Akane asked, the sighed with relief when Nabiki and Nodoka — the former in T-shirt and tight shorts and the latter in the keikogi and hakama she wore for workouts — shook their heads.
"I don't think so," Nabiki replied, Nodoka having already indicated that her student would be taking the lead. "True, the Western Initiates that came up with this use prayers, but they don't have to vocalize them — just thinking them is enough. I think the prayer is just a tool for focusing on the link, and since they generally link to various kami they worship — or used to — a prayer makes sense. You might need to come up with a mantra of some sort, but let's find out first if you can call Ranma by just concentrating."
Akane nodded and dropped to sit crosslegged on the wood floor of the dojo, then closed her eyes to better focus on the link she could sense between her and her sometimes-sensei. Oddly enough, that sense only went one way. Some quick experimentation had shown that Ranma could sense her when the redhead concentrated, but didn't have Akane's direction sense or constant sense of Ranma when she wasn't focused on something else. And of course when Ranma was in guy form neither could sense anything at all. (Nabiki had been especially relieved that the bond was still there when Ranma switched back to succubus, she'd commented that having to recast it just before the competition would have been no fun at all.)
Focus, girl. Letting the distractions drift away, Akane focused on the sense of Ranma that seemed to shine at her core. Reaching out to it, she somehow 'pulled'. Come!
For a long moment nothing happened, and she was just opening her eyes to report a failure when suddenly that piece of 'Ranma' seemed to explode, flashing through her, stiffening every muscle as her breath gusted out in shock. She was vaguely surprised that her hair wasn't radiating out in a static afro POOF. She slumped, gasping.
"Wow, was that weird!"
Akane froze at the voice that she wasn't hearing, at least not with her ears. "Ranma?"
"Uh, yeah, who else?" The voice in her head certainly 'sounded' like succubus-Ranma, but ...
"But Nabiki didn't say anything about you talking in my head, just that I'd get some of your skill!"
"Actually, little sis, in a way I did, we just didn't think it through. I said that when the bond was active Ranma would probably be pulled into you."
"You did?" Akane opened her eyes, and promptly lost track of Nabiki's response as she saw her sister — her smooth, shapely, sexy sister, with bare legs smoothly toned by the minimal exercise program she'd had before and now getting harder from the tougher regimen under her new sensei. Akane's eyes seemed to have a life of their own as they travelled up her sister's body — the fork in her legs covered by tight shorts tight enough, the thin shirt hugging firm breasts unencumbered by a bra and begging to be caressed —
Akane clapped her hands over her eyes, shouting "Out! Out! Out!" as she tried to push against Ranma's presence inside her. A moment later the presence was gone. Carefully peeking between her fingers, she sighed in relief to find her sister was back to her pretty but non-attractive (if currently confused) self. The naked succubus floating next to her looking equally confused was as cute as ever, but also not attractive. And Nodoka was as beautiful as ever — and also obviously confused.
Akane jerked to her feet, shouting, "Why didn't you warn me!?"
The other three exchanged glances. Nodoka asked, "Warn you of what, dear?"
"That when I looked at people, they'd be ... be ..." Akane choked, cheeks turning red.
The confusion on Nabiki's face cleared as she fought and failed to restrain herself, and she bent over clutching her sides as she howled with laughter. She finally fought herself under control when Akane's hand's curled into fists. She straightened, wiping at her eyes. "Oh, wow, that's what that flash of lust was about. Were you perving on me, little sister?"
Akane growled as her blush turned fiery, and Nabiki held up her hands. "Easy, girl, I did warn you. When I first told you about this I said that the champions would pick up some of the attitudes of the kami they bonded to, when they summoned their aspect. Just what kind of attitudes did you expect a succubus to have?"
"You did?" Akane asked in a small voice, her hands unclenching.
"Yes, I did, you just forgot about it. So did everyone else, actually, or just not think it through. We weren't playing a prank on you, really."
"Oh." Though I might have deserved it, after what I called Ranma. Akane looked over at the succubus. "And you're like that all the time, for everyone?"
Ranma rubbed at the back of her head. "Well, whenever I'm like this, yeah."
"Yeah, even guys," the succubus admitted, cheeks tinted pink.
Akane asked, "When you turn back into a guy, how do you bear it?"
Ranma shrugged. "I try not ta think about it. Helps that when I'm a guy I'm not attracted ta anybody."
"Oh." Akane filed that little fact away for later, there were more important things to think about right now. "I guess we could practice while merged alone —"
All three of the others were shaking their heads. Nodoka said, "At the competition you're going to have an audience."
"Right," Ranma agreed. "If ya aren't used ta it by then, at least a bit, you're gonna be so distracted Kodachi'll hand you yer head."
"Oh." I seem to be saying that a lot.
The more the youngest Tendo learned about what being a succubus was actually like, the more sympathy she felt for the poor boy — though Ranma seemed to be adjusting to his ... her ... new nature well enough. "A lion is a lion," she murmured. But I don't want to be a lion. She said more loudly, "I have to think about this," and strode past the other three and out of the dojo.
Dressed again in her pajamas, Akane stood at the window of her lightless bedroom and stared blindly out at the late night. Or was it early morning? She'd tried to sleep, but sleep had been impossible after spending most of the day in bed and the entire evening wrestling with the decision she had to make. She didn't want to be like Ranma, she didn't — her stomach churned whenever she thought about it. But she didn't want to hand Kodachi the victory, either, and she couldn't have one without the other, and so her mind had spent hours circling around the same two contradictory points.
Then a hint of movement caught her eye, and she focused on the house across the street, along the peak of the roof — another hint of movement, a shape...
"Ranma, across the street," she called up softly to the succubus she could sense again hovering above the roof over her bedroom.
"Yeah, it's Kodachi, she's been there awhile," Ranma replied. "But she can see me somehow, she knows I'm here. She's an ambusher, so she's keepin' her distance."
Somehow, knowing the other girl was out there, haunting her, crystallized Akane's thoughts. "Ranma, when we go train with the Amazons tomorrow we'll need to remember to let them know about her, make sure she can't see us when we ... merge."
"So we're still on?"
"Yes, we're still on. Good night."
" 'Night, Akane, see ya in the mornin'."
Akane turned from the window and climbed back into bed, asleep almost as soon as her head hit the pillow.