Ranma 1/2 Fan Fiction ❯ Memoirs of being in the Saddle ❯ The challenge ( Chapter 18 )
That was all the hints I could give Ranma. The idea had to come from him. Her.
If I said anything, if I suggested, if I even hinted or implied anything, I'm pretty sure it was game over. No continues.
And so for the next two weeks I tried to find things for Ranma to do, I really did. But the neighbors were old, and were very good at taking care of themselves, so there wasn't that much for him to do after the initial backlog was finished. Sure, some things cropped up, but nowhere near as many as there was when he started. The flow of money started to slow for the pig-tailed martial artist.
But there was improvements elsewhere. Ranma was now bathing while I was in the house. Only sometimes, mostly to evade Nabiki no doubt.
And the difference on film between when I was there and when I wasn't was so distinct, it became my new barometer for progress.
For example, the towel around her waist never came off when I was home, and Ranma was always tilted away from the door. And the first thing he did after turning into a girl with a bucket of cold water was fill the bucket with hot bath water and always keep it nearby. An ear was always listening for me, and an eye used the big mirror to extend her peripheral vision.
I still got footage of course, it's just that it was so much better when I wasn't home, but during the weekdays I didn't have that many reasons to go out if and when she arrived. It'd look suspicious.
Over two weeks Ranma bathed six times at my house, either dirty from training or bruised from some fight and wanting to relax. And three of those times I was there. One was from working on the tiny garden I had ignored since I'd gotten here.
I suspect it was the peace away from the Tendos that was the real appeal.
Also, four times Ranma threw his clothes in the wash. I tossed them into the drier and said so through the bathroom door. That was all that separated us now. The gray sweats I'd given her that one time were a pretty common sight on him and her while they dried.
And in the footage, Ranma was still looking in the mirror, even as an eye was on the door as my voice passed through it. Just in case.
At the end of the two weeks since our last big explorative talk, Ranma had successfully worked off half the debt owed to me.
And man was she pissed at that fact.
It wasn't even her fault, Nabiki had switched strategies and was pinning any bill she could on him, death of a thousand cuts.
Happosai had noticed this, and been slightly irked at the boy for his efforts in stopping his underwear thievery, and thus had started doing the same. Mostly restaurants and occasionally booze, but for a little guy he could really pack away a lot of both. Must be a martial arts thing.
And the bills came fluttering in to the Tendo household, all bearing Ranma's name.
So the debt went up and down, up and down, but in the battle of attrition Nabiki was slowly winning.
Ranma knew there was a limit to how much work was needed. And there was no more stories Ranma was willing to tell.
The time was ripe.
"I don't mind you know." I said from the couch as Ranma paced in and out of my vision. I was watching a fine Schwarzenegger film and reading the subtitles, comparing them to the English being spoken.
A hobby of mine.
Such that it was English, 'Red Heat' while a new movie at the time, is now considered one of his earlier works, and his accent was pretty damn thick on top of his accent. Yes, two accents, listen to a Russian and then Arnold, you can tell.
Belushi was great though. Chicago had such a distinct way of saying things.
"I know you don't mind, but I do." She grumped in frustration. "There's gotta be something I-" And trailed off.
Since I was looking at her from the corner of my eye I wasn't paying attention to the screen.
Ah, the hooker getting dressed. I believe the actress' name was Gretchen Palmer?
Now, she was talking quite fast, gunfire did that to conversations, and the subtitles got a fair bit wrong, 'trick' wasn't the same as Enjo kōsai, but close enough for it to make sense I suppose.
"That's it." Ranma's voice was slow, her mind a whirlwind of thoughts. "That's it!"
"That's poorly translated you mean?" I teased, knowing that Ranma's English, while good thanks to time spent around American military bases didn't hold a candle to mine.
Genma got paid quite well teaching Americans various martial arts, it was his seed money to fund his great project that was his son.
"No Stumpy," yes, that was my casual nickname when she got excited or wanted to rile me. It lasted only until I called her Tits though, especially when he was male. "That's what I can do."
I played dumb, but inside I wanted to cheer.
She pointed at the movie. "You like to watch." At my slow nod she continued. "You can watch me."
The fish was on the hook, but I couldn't reel it in just yet.
I deliberately paused the movie while the hooker was half dressed, leaving her breasts frozen on the screen. I shook my head slowly.
"I don't think that's a good idea." I said carefully. "You come here to get away from that."
"You're safe." read that as 'not a martial artist and therefore I can break you with one hand while asleep'. "And I owe you."
"Which isn't an issue for me, as I said." I pointed out. It had to be all Ranma pushing for this, nothing from me.
"It'll be fine." Ranma was completely confident in her plan, as always.
I couldn't let this be bull-rushed through, so I had to hit her where it hurt.
"I seem to recall you crying at that table," I pointed while my eyebrows drew down. "All because of something similar."
That earned me both a grimace and a flinch as she worked on her rebuttal.
“How did that go again? 'And I can break every bone in your hands up to your elbows." Her voice was strained and forcefully cheerful. "Every. Single. One.'”
Good so far, now to see how much her resolve will hold. This couldn't be easy for her.
Time to strike even lower.
I gestured at the television, at the woman frozen on it. "And what, you're gonna walk around here with your tits hanging out?"
Yeah, I went there.
"No." Zero hesitation in that reply, she had been clearly expecting it. "I have girly stuff I can wear, you can watch me in it. Like the talking deal, only, y'know, dressed up."
"Ranma," I said patiently,"That's not 'Watching', that's 'Seeing'." I stressed each word distinctly in English. "And there's a big difference."
"No there isn't!"
"It is. Watching is safe. Seeing isn't." I pointed at the frozen half-dressed girl on the screen. "Nothing can be hurt with Watching. We can't harm her. Whereas Seeing means two people in a room. There's risk. A single mistake-"
"Which I won't make!" She inserted.
I sighed and shook my head. "No."
I looked at her and cut her off. "I said no. Think of something else."
"Fine!" And she stormed off.
Think me a fool for doing that? Pah, you know nothing grasshopper.
Kung-Fu 1972-1975 starring David Carradine. Watch it.
I'd studied Ranma for a long while, at the school from a distance with tinny audio and a long angle lens, at the Tendo house, and in my home.
Quick Improvisation was his modus operandi. Look it up.
Rapid plans, seemingly bizarre ideas, and often contradictory strategy, it was one of his greatest weapons. Any oddity, any weakness, any method to win.
But the thing is, those plans get discarded just as easily if they fail.
But let an idea stew in his head, and then tell him it can't be done, then he'd get headstrong and stubborn.
He'd do it just to prove to you he was right.
And that wasn't enough. As I said, if he, she, decided to scrap the idea, I don't know if I'd ever get another chance.
So, he had to not only had to be right, he had to win, to beat me.
I wasn't sure what to expect, but if I lost too easily...
It was harder than I thought.
I couldn't laugh.
The very next day, Ranma was back. In a Furinkan Girl's uniform.
And she totally expected it to work.
I avoided staring at her easily, all as she cleaned the living room and helped me sort the video collection. The safe one I mean.
Watching her sulk was adorable, but I didn't stare, I easily looked away, and Ranma got nowhere.
I smirked as I led her to the door. "Gonna have to do a lot better than that. See you in three days." She scowled at me and left without a word.
Next round was in a white frilly dress.
If memory served, this was the dress bought when he had that blow to the head and thought he really was a woman. I'd overheard part of the conversation after following Ranma the day after it happened.
Yes, I know, creepy, shut up.
What had she said while in the parlor with Akane? It was something like: 'it's not like it's a total blank; it's more like a dream. Her memories prior to the pond feel more like something that she watched somebody else living than anything that happened to her'. And then she thanked Akane for causing the accident and setting her "free".
I think that was it, I'll check my transcripts and edit this if it wasn't.
I wonder if it was a deliberate choice, the dress, or if Ranma had simply picked it as it was prettier than the school outfit.
I still ignored her as she did the laundry, swept, and loaded my dishes in the dishwasher.
She did look really nice in it though. Not that I told her that.
It was the third time, on a Saturday, nearly ten days after we started, that she figured it out.
If more dress wasn't working, what about less?
Back and forth she ran, pushing the cloth against my floor, while the warm sun beamed down on us.
After spring, Japan can get pretty warm. Then really damn warm. Then it tries to set you on fire while you're in the shade.
I didn't like the heat much anymore. I used to, but nowadays a sweaty stump can get a rash, which is utter hell, and it gets itchy even when it isn't. Hence, My rather large electric bill due to the AC units in my house.
Yes, units plural.
While it wasn't that warm out yet, it was enough that Ranma decided to shed a layer.
Her red shirt.
With only a white loose tank-top coving her upper half Ranma ran back and forth, back and forth, tit's jiggling like mad as she pushed the cloth. And the viewing angle was pretty much straight down the cleavage.
That was round one.
Then she decided to wash the walls, minus the pants of course. 'Didn't want to get them dirty' was her excuse.
So now it's just her boxers and the tank top, while she scrubbed the walls up and down, up and down, once again making the tits dance under the loose tank-top, all while showing off her legs.
Round two, and I was already on the ropes.
Do you have any idea how hard it was not to stare at that? If it wasn't the fact that I had years of looking at porn stars in various states of undress between takes, I'dve lost ten minutes into round one.
The knockout came after the walls were washed. Sweaty, she announced she was getting a cool drink and asked aloud if I wanted one which I did, as my throat was terribly dry for some reason. Can't imagine why.
She brought two glasses of cool water, clinked glasses with me after I grabbed mine and then drank...most of it.
The rest spilled onto her already sweaty shirt. It clung, becoming semi-transparent in spots. And if you looked at it just right...
"Oops." Was all she said. And then waited ten seconds. "Gotcha."
I was staring. She knew it and I knew it.
"Damnit." I grunted out loud.
"And look at that, all those fingers, not broken." Her sarcasm was pretty thick, then it dropped, her voice becoming serious. "That's who we are. Nothing wrong with that, right?"
"All right all right, you've made your point," I growled trying my best to sound displeased. It wasn't easy. "You win, now put on your clothes and stop feeding me my own words."
I spun away quickly, and marched back to the kitchen.
I had to spin quick, otherwise she'd see the vicious grin on my face. What few scars I had on my face were deep enough to hit the nerves and as such, looked a bit disturbing.
Lose a battle, win a war.
But what an enjoyable battle to lose.
And what a war to win.