"Of Life and Love": Start         Previous: Chapter 04       Next: Chapter 06

 Revelations, Part One: "Of Life and Love"

Chapter Five:

This time, this kiss, both youths had the same intent, and they explored each other’s lips with the new and wonderful feelings within them. Ranma was astounded and baffled by the strength of her response. I didn’t think girls had this type of feeling… Not like this… I didn’t think I could have this response. I’m a guy… Aren’t I? She ran her hands over Ryoga’s back, and this time he didn’t hide his response but swayed closer to her until their bodies were pressed tight together. His arms went around her, one hand cupping the back of her head gently and the other in the small of her back, right where she was arched, pressing into him, wanting to get closer and closer… They were already so close that Ranma couldn’t feel where she left off and he began. Except for the bulge in Ryoga’s shorts. Ranma knew damn well what that was, – and her body squirmed in closer, wanting closer, wanting… Ranma couldn’t breathe anymore and moved her lips to one side to gain some fresh air.

Ryoga didn’t stop kissing her but simply moved from her lips to her cheek and then down the side of her neck to the spot where her neck and shoulder met. Ranma had thought she was already experiencing pleasure – she found out her mistake as she leaned her head back, her body almost going limp, her focus of feeling focused in two spots, where Ryoga’s lips were and in her groin. "Ryoga…" she whispered his name, unable to do more. This feeling… Ryoga…

"Is this all right?" Ryoga’s lips made their way back up her neck as his hands moved from behind her to the front of her chest, seeking out and finding her breasts again. The waves of fire in Ranma were floating her from one extreme of her body to another. "Oh, yes," Ranma breathed, I’m never going to hate my girl’s body again. Ryoga’s lips found hers again, and Ranma kissed him, and wondered briefly if they were getting this right… It felt right. It felt so very… And then Ryoga’s hands moved in a different way across her breasts that sent the pleasure shooting through her with such an electric shock that she gasped outloud. And her open lips forced Ryoga’s open. And Ranma gasped again as she tasted Ryoga… Tasted his passion, tasted his care. Her passion flared high and she couldn’t understand the complete and utter bliss combined with the excitement she was feeling. But her body was responding. Responding with instincts she hadn’t known she had. Ranma slipped her tongue into Ryoga’s mouth and felt his surprise… and then his tongue moved with hers and they sought each other out and explored and tasted and shared their feelings with their tongues as they did with their bodies, and Ranma felt herself being lowered backwards until she touched the ground with her back and Ryoga was on top of her and his hands were on her breasts and his hips on her hips and the weight felt so good and so wonderful and so right… 

When they finally had to part for air, Ranma muttered, "It’s more than ‘all right’, you moron – it’s wonderful."

Ryoga lifted his head to stare into her eyes, and he brought his hands from her chest to cup the sides of her face while he looked at her. Ranma stared back, mesmerized by the glow in his brown eyes and the happiness upon his face.

"Ranma," he breathed, "You’re beautiful." And he lowered his mouth to gently kiss her nose.

Ranma blinked. I’m… Ryoga thinks that I’m… And she wondered, "Ryoga, what are you doing?"

"Umm," Ryoga mumbled, and then grinned at her, "You had some vegetable oil on your nose, there…" He moved his mouth to her eyes as she closed them.

She gasped out through the feeling, "There too?"

"Nope," Ryoga moved back and then traced the outlines of her cheekbones with his fingers, "You just have the most incredible eyes… I had to kiss them."

Ranma brought her hands from his shoulders and raised them to his face, "You too…"

And then there were no words for awhile as their lips met again, this time open-mouthed from the start. Ranma’s hands went around his back again, and his hands traced down her sides as his chest lowered to rest on hers. And the combinations of feelings from her head to her breasts to her sides all seemed to concentrate in her abdomen and groin and she arched her back and lifted her hips into his and could feel his response to her.

"Ranma…" Ryoga’s mouth moved away briefly to speak her name with passion and care and love and such a depth of feeling… Ranma almost felt like crying for the sheer joy of it. Her eyes were moist as she whispered his name back. And the power of the emotions had her desperate to feel him inside of her… Ranma blinked at the thought, and then remembered I’m a girl… That is how it’s suppose to work, isn’t it? I wonder… She’d better make sure, first. Ranma removed her hands from Ryoga’s back and pushed down her shorts.

Ryoga paused, "Ranma?"

"I just want to make sure I know how this goes…"

"Ranma – are you sure you want to go that far?"

Ranma looked at him in disbelief, "You want to stop now?"

Ryoga’s expression was the oddest combination of concern and passion. "But… Ranma – are you sure? We’re only seventeen. And… and… You’re a… Well, you’re a… a..." he blushed beet red, "a virgin…"

"So are you!" Ranma retorted, knowing it for the truth. Still, Ranma had to grin – she’d thought he was going to say ‘a guy’ – but Ryoga already knew what she thought of that objection. Ranma herself, with the mindset of a guy, didn’t give a damn about the virginity thing. She wanted what she wanted now. But their passion a moment ago was already banked slightly and… Damnit – I made him think. Though she wasn’t so sure about herself, Ranma knew how to make Ryoga stop thinking. She pulled down his shorts. And was rather surprised at the size of his erection. It was so large… Ranma touched it curiously. Either he’s more of a man than I am… Or masturbation has no comparison with the real thing. Ranma preferred to think it was the second. But she was still wondering… Will that fit? First, though, to get their thoughts back to where they should be… Feeling, not thinking. Although… As she looked up at his face, she noticed that Ryoga’s eyes were rather glazed over and he was biting his lip as he stayed very, very still. Huh? Ranma glanced down again and realized exactly where her hands were. And she grinned. That took care of the problem rather nicely. She stroked her hand down his length. And Ryoga’s body jerked, moaning, "Ranma… are you sure…?" His fight to keep himself under control was obvious.

"Ryoga, my love," and the wording instantly got his attention, brown eyes focusing on her in startlement and wonder, "I want this. I want you." Ranma stared up into the beautiful eyes with a sincerity that he couldn’t mistake. She moved her hands to the back of his head and brought him down to her. And then she kissed him deliberately and thoroughly and deeply, her body moving on his in time with her mouth. As she moved her tongue through his mouth, she moved her groin against his erection, pushing, twisting, wiggling. Her hands caressed his buttocks and pulled him close to her. Pulled him tightly to her. The hardness of his body exciting her all over again. Feeling him against her. Feeling the fire within her rise and flame and pour though every fiber of her being – and then willing that fire out to him and then feeling it return to her again. And as Ranma moved on him, Ryoga quite definitely lost the power of speech. And so did Ranma.

Ryoga moaned; and cried her name; and his hands caressed her sides and her breasts and his hips pressed into hers and Ranma rode the waves of pleasure that swept through her body as they moved against each other and caressed each other and kissed together. And they rolled over on the ground as Ryoga’s hands went around her back and on her bottom and kept moving and moving on her, never settling but stroking and touching and exploring, and his lips did the same and hers as well and they moved and shifted and the fires kept burning brighter and brighter… And Ranma called out his name and wanted more and rolled them back over again so that his weight was on top of her again. And she felt the pressure of him on her. And she wanted him even closer…

Ranma felt the pleasure through every fiber of her girl’s body and was astounded and happy and thankful to Ryoga for this experience that she’d never dreamed of. But there was an ache in her groin that was only made worse every time his hips ground on hers and she felt him between her legs and rubbing on her thighs, but not in her and there was a burning feeling that wanted him so badly… "Ryoga… Ryoga, will you please…"

Ryoga lifted his head from her breasts, "Anything, Ranma…"

"Ryoga – I want you. I need you. I want you so much… Please, Ryoga… Will you please… Oh, damn it – you know what I mean."

Ryoga blinked. And he blushed. And he sputtered a bit, turning redder and redder… "Ranma… I don’t want to hurt you… and… well…"

Lying under him, Ranma looked up into his face, and realized, he doesn’t know… I guess I don’t either… She pulled his hands down to where their hips were together. "I think…" She did want to get this right. The burning, needing sensation was coming from there. She touched it – and her back arched and she moaned, closing her eyes at the feeling. There’s more pleasure???

"There?"

Ranma gasped out, and cried out, "Yes! There!!" And she fought not to jerk her hips upward while Ryoga was maneuvering for the right position but she could feel him and it was so close and the feeling at that spot was so intense and it overwhelmed the rest of her body to such an extent… Ryoga entered her and they both moaned at the feel… And then he was stopped partway down and both of them opened their eyes and stared at each other.

"Uhh…" Ranma’s thoughts ran in circles.

"Ranma? I’m… There’s something blocking… Are you sure this is the right spot? Am I suppose to go in any further?"

"I don’t know." Ranma felt what he felt and wondered. Ryoga wasn’t even very far in her. But from all she’d heard as a guy from guy’s talk, she’d never heard of anything like this… Not that Ranma actually knew anybody who’d gotten all the way. But… But she still burned, and wanted him and this wasn’t enough – not nearly enough. "It’s definitely the right place. Try going out and coming back in again." And Ryoga did so, and Ranma arched her back again at the feel of him moving though that incredibly sensitive spot of hers… but he was still stopped at the same place. They tried it a couple more times, going slowly in, and it just wasn’t working the way it was suppose to, the way she’d always heard it should be, the way she felt it should be… Is this girl’s body defective? Is the fact that I’m really a guy preventing me from being wholly a girl? But… But I want to be a girl! Right now,… I want… And is my damn curse going to prevent Ryoga from getting the gift I wanted to give him??? A tear slipped down the corner of her eye. A tear of bitterness. A tear of regret. A tear of… No! Ranma cried in her thoughts, I’m not going to give up!!! And she grabbed Ryoga’s hips with her flexible legs and pulled him into her with such force that the barrier was broken through and he was inside of her.

And she hurt. It… hurt. Ranma let Ryoga untangle himself from her legs and he moved away from her and spoke her name in concern and fright and self-condemnation. Hearing the last, Ranma shook herself out of her stunned surprise and reached out to Ryoga.

Ryoga was crying, his tears falling on her face as he sat next to her, his head bowed down. "Ranma… I didn’t mean to hurt you. I never meant…"

"I was the one who did that, you jackass." Ranma caressed the sides of his face and brushed away the tears. She pulled his face towards hers and tried to kiss him, but he turned away.

"I’m so sorry. Ranma-sweet. I love you, and I hurt you…"

Ranma sat up, feeling the pain between her legs but ignoring it. "Ryoga. I love you. Don’t leave me." The last was deliberate to get him back, because she could feel him retreating into his world of censure and reproach and he didn’t deserve that and she ached for him still. The line worked too, as Ryoga turned back, his eyes wide, his gaze searching hers, automatically reaching to reassure and protect her. And Ranma leaned forward and kissed him, putting her arms around him. "Ryoga…" And Ryoga held her close. Feeling her need, responding to her need. And her trust and love. His blackness retreated visibly as she held him. Ranma dropped her head to his shoulder and traced patterns on his back with her hands, "Let’s go back to the other stuff… Humm?"

Ryoga pushed her back a bit so he could look at her, and he searched her eyes looking for what she wanted, and finally he smiled. "Ranma-sweet, you’re the most wonderful person on the face of this earth and I don’t know how I ever came to be so lucky to be with you." And he leaned in and kissed her again, slowly, thoroughly… tasting more of caring and reassurance than passion. But it had worked. He was kissing her. And Ranma closed her eyes and let him and felt the pleasure wash through her again. And she stroked his back with her hands. And he moved his hands to her breasts… And their breaths grew deep and ragged again. And…

After several minutes, they came close to the same levels of pleasure they had been at before. And Ranma was surprised to find the burning, needing sensation back in her groin again. But… It still hurt, a little, but the waves of pleasure were carrying her above the pain and she really wanted him… Even more-so now than the last time, now that she knew how sensitive that spot was and what the first couple of tries had felt like… Ranma moaned out loud, more in frustration than pleasure.

"Ranma?"

"Oh, Ryoga…" Ranma caressed his strong back, "I want to try that again…"

Ryoga levered himself up above her, an eyebrow raising as he looked at her in doubt.

Ranma reclined on the ground and smiled up at his brown eyes above her. She moved her hands to his chest and traced a light line to his groin…

"Ack!" Ryoga squirmed at the tickle, and had to laugh in response to her mischievous grin. And he moved one hand along her side… They both giggled and squirmed and tried to find each other’s ticklish spots… And then Ryoga kissed her again and the caresses deepened and smoothed out and they were moving on each other again… 

And Ranma wanted more. "Seriously, Ryoga. I think it’ll be better this time."

Ryoga looked into her eyes, "Ranma, love, I don’t want to hurt you again."

"You moron! I—" Ranma reached down to his waist, "WANT—" she pulled him into position and moaned slightly as she touched that spot again, and felt him there, and the feeling was such… "THIS!!!!!" And she locked her legs around him again and pulled him down, and there was no barrier, and there wasn’t the pain, but instead was a pleasure that bloomed from that spot and kept intensifying as she pulled him deeper and deeper into her until he was all the way in and she was quivering with the feeling.

They both were still for a moment, waiting for something to happen… The feeling of him in her… completely in… Ranma smiled as Ryoga watched her face and they both knew that this time it was okay. Okay, wonderful, and magical. Then, still watching her, Ryoga pulled himself up again, and then down… This part was more instinctive, and every guy knew the basic moves and feeling, though Ranma had the impression as she watched Ryoga that the passion was much more intense than masturbation… she stopped thinking so analytically as the intense pleasure she was feeling in her groin wove its way though her body. The feeling forced its way through her lips as she moaned outloud, not trying to contain it. This, this… This feeling is so incredible… How, how can I feel such pleasure? Ryoga, my friend… It’s you. Overwhelmed with the feeling, Ranma started moving her hips on Ryoga’s, by instinct alone, a girl’s instinct, and together she and Ryoga found a rhythm that had them reduced to bodies that were incapable of thought but only feeling. And then Ryoga thrust deeply into her and Ranma felt a warmth even deeper inside her and Ryoga settled down gently on top of her, stilling his movements even as he whispered her name in an astounded satisfied sigh. His head lay on her shoulder, and his arms were curved around her, and he felt limp in her arms. Completely and utterly limp.

And Ranma had a sudden flashback to the hours she’d spent under the tree, and though he knew damn well what a guy’s final release felt like, Ranma was still scared and she called Ryoga’s name and hugged him in frightened desperation.

The glow of passion and release that held Ryoga suddenly dissipated as Ranma called to him in fright. Ryoga lifted his head and saw the terror revealed in her expression. He rolled them to their sides so that he could put his arms around her and pull her close to him. "I’m here, love. I’m here. I’m not going anywhere. I’m right here. I’m with you. Ranma-sweet, my love. I’m here."

Shuddering and shivering with reaction, and still trying to reassure herself, Ranma buried her face in his chest and cried. She could feel his heart beating. And his concern. A moment ago, he’d been enthralled with passion… Ranma gulped, "I’m sorry, Ryoga. I wanted to make you so happy, and then I spoiled it with my stupid, stupid, stup—"

Ryoga laid his hand over her mouth, and then moved his hand to put his lips there. He kissed her with all the feeling that was within him, and afterwards Ranma was stunned to silence. Ryoga studied her face even as he stroked and smoothed all her tense muscles. And he smiled. He smiled with the love that was in him and Ranma stared at him and felt herself melting until she curled up against him, her head pulled into his chest and his arms strong around her. And she felt safe. She was secure. Ryoga was with her. Ryoga was alive. Ryoga was with her and he was happy and he loved her and she was happy that he was happy… Ranma paused mid-thought, wondering, is this how it feels? The idea of being happy because somebody else is happy? This… this is love? Ranma explored her memories and feelings and could only remember feeling this a couple of times before – when he was with Akane. Akane… Ranma wondered, can it be? I really do love you. Ranma had wondered. He’d never known for sure what he felt for Akane. He cared about her – really truly cared. But now he realized that he’d never really known what love was. Love was this feeling inside of him of caring more for another person than for himself. And that was how he felt towards Akane. I never had a word for it…

"Akane…" Ranma whispered her name with the love that he now knew he felt for her. I have to tell her that I love her.

Ryoga’s hands on her back stilled abruptly and his body stiffened.

Oops. Ranma lifted her head and glanced guiltily up.

Ryoga’s rich brown eyes were sad and distant and guilty. A tear dropped down the side of his face as he stared beyond Ranma.

Big time oops. "Ryoga—" Ranma started to try and explain, but Ryoga cut her off.

"I’m sorry." The tears started dropping with regularity. "I’m sorry. I knew you were a guy, I knew it… I knew how much you love Akane, and that you wanted… her. Not me. Her. I knew it, yet I still forced myself on you." The tears fell faster. "Ranma-sweet, I’m so sorry."

Huh? That isn’t what I thought he was thinking… Ranma closed his mouth. "Ryoga, you idiot!!!! If you call that ‘forcing’, then I’m a fairy!" And then the double meaning of the word crossed his mind and he knew he was a girl but he was still a guy and… Her face grew red, "The mythical one, I mean."

"I should have had more control. Ranma, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have… I was thinking only of me. I’m so sorry. I—"

Ranma stopped him with a kiss.

Ryoga drew back in surprise.

As her blue eyes shaded over in regret for the pain she’d caused him, Ranma spoke Ryoga’s name softly and with the love that she felt. And he blinked in surprise. And Ranma shook her head for her carelessness, "Ryoga, my wonderful, sweet, amazing Ryoga – I love you. I love you. I was just reflecting on how much I love you, and how happy I was that I could give you some happiness – though really you gave me so much that I’d never ever known that I could feel…" Ranma stopped her rambling and tried again, "Ryoga – I wanted you to be happy, and then you showed me what true happiness is… And love. And Akane…" That wasn’t what she wanted to say either. Ranma dropped her eyes.

And then she felt Ryoga’s gentle touch on her cheeks, and his breath was warm on her lips… When he drew back, Ranma looked at him in wonder.

"Ranma…" Ryoga smiled gently, "I think I understand… You were thinking of what love was… and you realized you love Akane."

Ranma’s mouth dropped open.

And Ryoga pulled her back into his embrace. "I didn’t know… Ranma – did you not know that you loved Akane?"

Silently, Ranma blushed and shook her head.

"I never thought…" Ryoga brushed her hair out of her eyes, "I knew you loved her… And I always wondered why you were such a jackass. But you didn’t know…" Tears dripped down the sides of his face, "Oh, my poor Ranma-sweet. Confused and lost and not knowing it – and there I was picking on you every chance I got."

Ranma lifted her head from his grasp and sat up, "Ryoga – are you saying you did all that… Your jealousy and fights… To make me admit I loved Akane?"

Ryoga blushed. And hung his head. "Not… completely." And his eyes wandered across the tent, away from her. "Ranma…" he whispered, "I love Akane too."

The picture of a short-haired maiden was between them. Well loved by both of them. Almost worshipped. Admired. Loved. And not there except in their minds.

Settling down to kneel beside her friend, Ranma picked up his hand. "I know. I knew. I’ve always known you loved Akane. I just didn’t know…" what love really is. Or I might have been kinder…

"At first," Ryoga said, still not looking at her, his body still curled as it had been before she left his embrace, "It was just a crush. And I knew it was a crush, but it felt nice; and I liked getting your goat – you were so jealous." A tear fell down the side of his face, "And then… And then… Akane was the only thing nice in my life. I could find her. She always seemed so happy to see me – Ryoga or P-chan… And you were being so slow! …I fell in love with her all over again. This time for real. Somewhere… the crush had changed to love. I could find her. She was happy – she would welcome me home." And Ryoga finally looked at Ranma, studying him, looking at the girl’s body and seeing his friend, and the memories of his friend, realizing, "Akane… and you, Ranma. No matter where I was, I could always find either of you – usually without meaning to. And you, also, always seemed happy to see me again…" More tears fell. Ryoga gripped Ranma’s hand tightly, "You’ve always been my friend, Ranma. Whenever I was the most down – whenever something would happen… I’d find you, and you’d fight me, and I could lose those feelings being with you and then everything would be all right again. You’ve always been my friend…"

Ranma sat back on his heels, "Ryoga???"

Ryoga pulled Ranma down to him and kissed her with desperation and longing and need, the tears still falling. And Ranma’s body responded to Ryoga’s need automatically, but Ranma filed away the questions he had – later, when things were more settled; later he would ask Ryoga about them. Right now… Right now, Ryoga’s need was for more than passion – it was for reassurance, and Ranma gave his best friend what Ryoga needed in the only way she could.

After Ryoga’s urgency had spent itself in his release, he didn’t collapse but instead tried to continue to give her pleasure, stroking and caressing her. As much pleasure as she found with him, right at the moment Ranma cared more for Ryoga’s turmoil of thoughts and calmed him into cuddling into her embrace. She held him gently and gradually he relaxed, lying in her arms where she held him. Ranma pillowed Ryoga’s head on her breasts and held him gently. As gently as he’d always treated her. With all Ranma’s girl disguises, Ryoga had always treated her kindly and gently. He was a sucker… yet he was a nice one. And he’d always held her gently. Ranma remembered the most tender moment of them – when Ryoga had thought she was Akane. Ranma had wanted to let him know that Akane was scared… ‘Ryoga, I’m scared – please hold me gently…’ And Ryoga had. He’d thought he’d been holding Akane. And he’d held Ranma gently and securely and with feeling… Until he’d started squeezing her. Squeezing her so she’d thought her ribs would break and the soap that had gotten stuck in her throat was coughed up. Wait a second… Ranma blinked – and thought about the way Ryoga had held her earlier in the night, when they were still just friends, before Ranma had crossed that line into lovers. And the other times before, when Ranma had acted as the school girl and hugged him... Ryoga doesn’t hug like that. That wasn’t a hug – that was a reverse Heimlick! "Why, you asshole…!!!!"

Ryoga lifted his head and glanced up… and then backed away, "Uh, Ranma…"

Ranma clenched her fist, "You were trying to get me to cough up that soap, weren’t you? And if you were trying to get the soap…" Ranma growled low, "You knew I wasn’t Akane!!! And you were still grabbing me!"

Ryoga turned beet red and scooted across the tent floor faster than he would have sworn he could have moved a moment ago. What the hell made Ranma think of that???? "Calm down, Ranma… It’s okay… Ranma, I’m too tired to fight right now…"

"RYOGA!!!!!!"

Ryoga dodged the fist, "Hey – you were the one grabbing me!" Very solidly too. The way she’d been plastered across him was what had given Ryoga his first clue that it may not have been Akane. A clue he’d promptly dismissed out of mind. Ranma was a guy… Not a girl. Not a very cuddly girl. A guy. And then Ryoga had been very careful not to think about it at all.

As Ryoga’s words sank in, Ranma paused. And turned a solid red all across her body. And opened her hand, staring at it as if she’d never seen it before. I… was. Wasn’t I? Why did I do it that way? I could have just told him…

Ryoga kept his stance a moment longer, then cautiously decided it was okay. And was fascinated by the way that all of Ranma’s skin had turned red, even on her— 

Shamefaced, Ranma turned away, her voice low, "Ryoga… I’m sorry." She remembered the way Ryoga had run after the fiancee episode. ‘I didn’t think it would hurt him that bad,’ she’d said to Akane… And still Ranma kept doing the same stupid tricks. I’m sorry. Seeing your reaction whenever you realized it was me… it was fun to tease you. I thought.

"Ranma?" Ryoga crawled over. He glanced at her rigid body and then sat down behind her and then leaned so their backs were touching. After a moment, Ranma relaxed and they supported each other. Ryoga sighed, "No… I didn’t know. Not really. Ranma – your disguises always fooled me. Truly. Every bloody time. But… I’ve got a long way to go with Martial Artistry. My mind and my body don’t agree a lot of the time. There are a lot of things I respond to instinctively – that I don’t actually know." That I don’t want to know. That I dismiss without thinking about them because to think about them would be to be hurt. I stop seeing what I don’t want to. And then… and then my instincts take over, my training… but I don’t always know what or why I’m doing things.

Stirring, Ranma asked, "Did you know the Breaking Point wouldn’t hurt a human body?"

"Ahhh…" Okay… "Yeah, actually – I did know that one. I couldn’t see it. Wasn’t sure if it was just me – Cologne hadn’t said anything. But… But you deserved a little scare – insulting Akane’s cooking that way!" Ryoga could feel Ranma’s disbelief behind him. Fine. Truth. "You’d shamed me pretty badly in front of Akane that day at the fountain. There are some things," Ryoga paused, looking for words, "I can’t let go." I’d already had a bad day. And then to find you’d left me behind again… Left me behind with your new training. Didn’t need me. Didn’t want me. I’d been left behind – inadequate. And so, because I was humiliated – I betrayed another. Ryoga hung his head in shame and sorrow. He’d known it was wrong. So very wrong. And still… He’d let Cologne teach him. Just to fight again with Ranma. So that Ranma would accept him back again. Be his partner and spar with him. To be good like he used to be. Ranma had left him behind, and Ryoga had to catch up. No matter what the cost. And the cost… "I had to match you again. I had to."

That sentiment, Ranma knew well. Competition. She wasn’t totally sure about the feelings behind it, but… Ranma turned, and put her hands on Ryoga’s shoulders. And then leaned her head in to rest against his back. She sighed with her love for her friend, "Why were we just fighting?"

Ryoga’s shoulders shook, and he turned also. "Ranma," he was grinning from ear to ear, "Why do we ever fight?" Our prelude to sparing. It’s ingrained in us. Affection is sparing. He shook his head, "Oh come here…" But now… our friendship has another way to be expressed. And he gathered her up in his arms and kissed her on the nose and held her close, stroking her hair with his hand. "Ranma," he asked, his hand holding the ends of the braid, "Can I let your hair loose?"

Pushing herself out of his grip, Ranma stared at him. "Why???" Her heart contracted in sudden fear, "Is it because you think of me as a guy with the braid?"

Ryoga lifted an eyebrow, "Ranma – you’re you. It doesn’t matter if you’re in guy form or girl form." Really. And then he thought about it… "Though… This would have been a lot different if you were in guy form." He grinned, "I do like your girl-form! I really," he leaned in close, "really," and closer, "do." And sealed his words with an open-mouthed kiss.

His mouth tasted of love and passion and amusement and took Ranma’s breath away. His hands sought her breasts and kneaded them tenderly, stroking, circling, fondling, in time with his tongue playing with hers. Ranma broke her mouth away from his with a cry, tilting her head backwards – an unintentional invitation for his mouth to go there next. Ranma was helpless in his grasp, her entire being so awash with sensation that she couldn’t even move. How? How can I go from fighting him one moment to being his friend the next and then to this complete and utter passion? How is it possible? And Ryoga pulled them closer together, and the how took on a slightly different question that Ranma actually asked, "You were as limp as a rag doll a minute ago… And it hasn’t even been a half-hour since…"

Ryoga murmured in her ear, "Didn’t you know? My endurance isn’t that of a normal being’s…" Tweaking Ranma for her… ‘his’ words during several of their fights.

Ranma rolled her eyes at the sarcasm. And then was astonished and hurt when Ryoga moved back and sat there just looking at her. Her body was on fire for his touch… And he leaves me like this? But the way Ryoga was looking at her…

"Ranma," Ryoga lifted his hand to her cheek and traced the bone under her eye, past her ear and down her jaw before he moved back again. Ranma shivered with the feeling, needing more... Ryoga’s voice was earnest and loving, "The only reason I asked about your braid was because I wanted to run my hands though your hair."

Her mouth dropped open. And she watched the way he was looking at her. And she raised her hands slowly to the back of her head and to her braid. And Ryoga watched her.

And said softly, "If you don’t want to, Ranma-sweet, it’s fine by me."

Ranma blinked, "Oh sure yeah – after you set me on fire…"

And Ryoga was next to her before she’d finished her blink and his hands were running along her arms and his tongue licked across her eyes and she was captured in an instant, her body reaching out to him.

"Sorry…" Ryoga hoarsely whispered, "I was losing control and thought I’d better get that said before I forgot it. I didn’t think how that would leave you… I’ll make up for it now – I promise I will."

Ranma loosed her hands from his grip and reached back again to her braid and tore out the tie holding it. "Ryoga, I love you. I do. I love you and I want to feel your hands running though my hair, and everywhere else because I love you so very much. You’re the most incredible person I know. And you don’t mind my curse!" Tears appeared at the corners of her eyes and fell down her cheeks. Ryoga brushed them away.

"What are those for?"

"I’m so happy!"

And Ryoga’s breath was taken away just hearing the truth of it in her voice. And he remembered her ‘his’ voice long long ago, ‘Akane – am I happy?’ "Ranma!" he cried for the strength of feeling within him, wanting to make the world right. He’d heard Ranma’s words, and knew their truth, yet knowing that for so very long they hadn’t been and he wanted to make her happy – make her so happy that she’d be able to carry it with her wherever Ranma went in the future. So Ranma could always find the happiness within him and not have to seek it out or be amazed at it. "I love you, Ranma, I love you!"

Ryoga? Ranma’s eyes went wide, what– And lost her thought, closing her eyes as Ryoga brought both of them up to a kneeling position by running his hands up her legs, up the back of her thighs, and then up her spine so that she tingled and lifted up, reaching, straining, needing to be in the air and stretched to the limit of her being… And then his body was pressed against hers, thighs taut against hers, and his fingers were running through her hair… Ranma’s eyes widened again, ohhhh… His hands, running through my hair… How could that simple a gesture be so incredible?

"Ranma, I love you."

And Ranma found her answer. It was everything. Every touch on her body that Ryoga made – on her breasts, on her back, or on her hair… The physical sensation was increased ten-fold by his love. Because he loved her. Because it was Ryoga touching her… The tears flowed freely from her eyes, and Ryoga licked them as they fell. And then one hand cupped the back of her head, and the other was in the small of her back, and she was ever so gently stretched out on the tent floor. Ryoga’s leg knelt between hers as he leaned over her and whispered her name and stroked her sides. And then his hands moved over her body, slowly, ever so slowly… Ranma lifted her head a little, "What are you doing?"

Ryoga kissed the palm of her hand where it lay on the ground, and one of his hands cupped her hand while the other traced each finger up and down and stroked the webbing between, while his mouth moved up to her wrist… "Exploring."

Ranma’s hand open and shut without her control. Nothing was under her control any more. And she didn’t mind losing control, not at all. I can lose control – it’s Ryoga with me, and I trust Ryoga more than anybody else on this planet. "Excuse me?" Even her voice wasn’t under her control, low and hoarse and ragged…

Tracing circles on her abdomen and smoothing them out. Kissing her shoulder. Running a hand along the inside of her thigh… Ranma moaned and arched and tried to pull him down to her but he wasn’t having any of it.

"I want to know every point on your body that makes you happy. I want to find them, and know them, and then come back and love them until you know them."

And Ranma couldn’t argue with that answer, and couldn’t question it, because waves of rapture were radiating throughout her body and parts of her body that hadn’t been awake to his touch before definitely were now, and there was no spot that Ryoga touched that didn’t bring her pleasure… Yes, Ryoga, my friend. I’m happy. I’m so very happy… I’m happy that you’re alive. I’m happy that you love me. I’m happy that you’re with me. I’m astounded at the pleasure…

Ranma’s eyes opened wide. What??? She’d thought she’d been feeling pleasure. She was wrong. Ryoga entered her on the tide of an incredible amount of moisture that made his entry so smooth that she knew he was in only because of the way her body was reacting. I hadn’t known… Ranma cried out, her song raising to the stars as her hips arched into Ryoga’s and the fire that flared from it consumed her entire being, body and soul.

 

It was a long way back. A very, very long way back. Ranma drifted upon the currents, not knowing where she was going or why, just that she was so very happy. She was content. She had feasted and her body was sated yet not numb at all – just very, very satisfied. Complete. Whole. Her being was whole. His being was whole. Ranma was simply Ranma. A very happy Ranma. "Ooooooo…"

Hands stroking her face and her neck paused briefly. Then there was a low chuckle and the hands kept on. Just… stroking. Caressing. In a manner that said they knew her and loved her. There was no urgency and no rush. Just, the hands. Loving her. Moving to other parts of her body as well. There wasn’t passion – the hands fit so well within the low swells of pleasure that were still sweeping through Ranma’s body that Ranma barely knew they were there. Only knew that they were there because that was where Ryoga was. Ryoga. Her love. The one who loved her. "Ryoga…"

"Ummm…" There was a trace along her cheekbones and lips brushed hers lightly and briefly. "Ranma." Her name was spoken with such love. Such love and such pride and such… satisfaction? Some very smug satisfaction. Though she couldn’t manage it physically yet, internally Ranma grinned, okay – he deserves that one. The pleasure was floating her above the tent floor. He definitely deserves that one.

"I hadn’t known… There was more." Ranma finally opened her eyes.

Ryoga stared into the deep blue pools and lost his way – it was a familiar feeling. He grinned and traced the circumferences of her breasts. Actually… He hadn’t either. He’d been scared when Ranma had cried out like that and collapsed. But it had become obvious that it was a pleasure climax – though quite more than he’d ever thought was possible. But for that one moment when she’d screamed and then folded limply down… Ryoga was very much in sympathy with Ranma’s bout of tears after Ryoga’s first climax. Also, he thought about what it must have been like for Ranma… Ryoga hadn’t been the one stuck under a tree for several hours with a dead body. Ranma deserves all the pleasure he can get. All that I can give him. I would give all that I am – except that it is all his. He beat me to it. So, I will let him know that he is loved, and loved as well as I can. "I love you so much. Ranma, you are so beautiful…" In both body and spirit. You are what is so beautiful…

"Ryoga… That was incredible."

Ranma’s blue eyes were limpid and relaxed, reflecting her utter contentment and remembrance of the pleasure. Ryoga traced her cheek with a finger, watching her eyelids close slowly and then open again as she smiled at him. "I’m so glad, my love," Ryoga’s voice was a whisper, the love within him tightening his throat and vocal cords.

Making an effort, Ranma reached out a hand to stroke Ryoga’s cheek, glad to feel the warmth there and glad to see the spark in his eyes. "I would have been happy just to have you alive again. This," Ranma remembered all that they had done in the last several hours; done, said, and acknowledged, "This takes me to happiness beyond belief."

Ryoga watched the truth in her eyes and was glad that she was happy; and he sorrowed for the pain he’d given her. Could I have come back any sooner? Could I have come back at all if it wasn’t for Ranma? The white land had been very peaceful. However, it didn’t have Ranma. And Ranma had needed him. Ryoga shifted his weight slightly, making sure that he wasn’t hurting her – he’d earlier tried to move off of Ranma and she’d instantly shown signs of coming out of the afterglow so he’d stopped. Now, under him, Ranma shifted as well, looking like a cat that had licked her full of the cream, and she put her arms around his back, stroking him gently… Ryoga looked into her eyes and smiled. He smoothed her hair back from her forehead and lowered his lips to hers, lightly touching them. Ranma sighed happily and closed her eyes, relaxing back into the afterglow.

Drawing back just enough so he could watch her, Ryoga traced her slim body with his hands. Ranma… Ryoga hadn’t paid any attention to Ranma’s girl body before – it was Ranma, and Ranma was his friend. Ranma was still his friend… And had brought Ryoga back. Ryoga smiled, I always could find Ranma… It always took awhile, but I could find him. And Ranma would wait. Ranma had always been there for him. When they knew each other in Junior High… Ryoga hadn’t been unaware of the curious youth that had followed him around. Shadowing his movements for days. Ranma had always been curious. But never a threat. Ryoga was trained well enough to know that – especially since Ranma had come out and introduced himself that first day. Ryoga hadn’t minded the introduction – but he’d wanted the bread; he hadn’t eaten for two days, looking for the damn school. The weeks afterwards, Ranma had followed him around, not interfering, not helping, just watching. Finally one day, Ryoga got into a fight that had been more than he could handle – and Ranma had come to his aid. And Ryoga had seen for the first time the true measure of this slim youth. And instantly forgave all the cocky pride for it was well deserved. In that moment, Ryoga had given his loyalty, for he knew that he’d finally found a leader he could follow and trust. Until... Ryoga closed his eyes, stilling his movements for the memory of that pain. Betrayal. You didn’t wait… Why, why didn’t you wait for me?

And Ranma’s eyes opened and she spoke his name in concern.

Ryoga shoved the pain deep underneath. It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter. Ranma had shown how much he cared for him when he’d given his life. "I love you, Ranma. I’ve always loved you."

Ranma blinked, "Always? But the only times you ever were interested in my girl’s body were when you didn’t know it was me."

Ryoga had to laugh, and he softly nipped her nose. "Love, Ranma – not… passion. You are my best friend. One doesn’t normally jump one’s best friend."

"Normally, eh?" Ranma squirmed a little and they both rolled over to lie on their sides facing each other. Ranma traced a line down Ryoga’s spine, making Ryoga’s back arch into her, "Do you think… this…" and she caressed the most susceptible spot on his body, "is normal?"

Ryoga was fighting for breath and it took him a long time to answer. "I yield."

Ranma laughed with delight, "That was easy." And then she snuggled in close to him and curled within his embrace, content to stay there.

Oh, thanks, Ranma. Ryoga had been content to snuggle just a bit ago, but when Ranma had climaxed, he’d never actually found release himself, worried about her, and just now… He held her in his arms and shivered, trying to control himself.

Ranma moved slightly back, "What are you waiting for?"

"Excuse me?"

She smiled at him, and rolled him over so he was on his back, and she straddled him, sitting up on his thighs, and her hands stroked his chest. "I felt that, Ryoga. I know damn well what that means… And you, my friend and my love, have permission to jump my bones any time you want!"

Ryoga stared at her for a moment. And then she moved her body further up. And Ryoga reached his hands up to her and availed himself of her generous offer.

And then they lay in each other’s arms, wrapped around each other so it was hard to tell where one left off and the other began. And they were content to have it so. Resting and knowing the other was there.

 

"Ryoga…" Ranma twitched her toes, then ran her foot up his calf and back down again.

"Umm?" Ryoga lifted his head and kissed her mouth, "You don’t want more, do you? I swear, Ranma – you’re insatiable."

Ranma blushed. "Uh, well actually…"

Ryoga lifted an eyebrow.

"I’m cold."

Ryoga sat bolt upright, Ranma in his arms and pressed to his wildly pounding chest. "Ranma!" No! I thought he was safe now… It took over a minute before Ranma’s pounding on his back and her voice got through to him.

"Ryoga, you nitwit!!! Calm down!! I’m okay – I swear it!!! Ryoga, you idiot! Come on, Ryoga… Will you snap out of it? Moron!!"

As if he was letting go of a part of himself, Ryoga gently and carefully let Ranma pull away from him, setting a wild butterfly free.

Ranma sat on her knees and glared at him. And then changed to a shamefaced look as she saw his expression. "I’m sorry, Ryoga – I didn’t mean to frighten you…"

Ryoga raised a trembling hand to her face, "You’re cold…"

Ranma rolled her eyes and reached her hand up to place it over his, "Normal cold – you moron. It’s chilly out, and I’m naked and I’m cold."

Ryoga let out all his breath in a rush, still feeling his heart pounding. "Oh." And he grinned at her in apology and relief.

Shaking her head at him, Ranma’s eyes showed her own apology. She then glanced around the tent and finally saw the sleeping bag. And then she looked around the tent again… "We’re not at camp."

Ryoga got up, his body still trembling, and crawled over to the solar heater, "Oh… Lost its charge. That’s why it got chilly in here."

Ranma did another double-take, "Since when did we bring along a heater?" She crawled to the tent flap and poked her head out. The pre-dawn was lightening the sky outside; framing the giant roots of the fallen tree nicely. Ranma stared. And brought her head back in. "Ryoga… we’re not at camp."

Shaking out the sleeping bag, Ryoga fluffed it and then opened the side. "It was too far away. I needed to do something… We needed shelter."

Ranma let the tent flap fall. And stared at him. It was that serious? Hypothermia is slower… But I’d used all my ki. No defenses. She bit her lip, realizing how close to dying she must have been and how badly she’d just frightened him. We’re really a pair. I don’t think there’s a single group of emotions we haven’t been though this night. She crawled back to Ryoga and hugged him tightly. And his arms went around her and held her close.

"Ranma, my love…"

But Ranma was still cold… "Ryoga – can we go to bed now?"

Ryoga laughed, glancing at the tent walls, "Why? It’s almost time to get up and start training."

And then both of them were silent as they remembered the end of their last training session. And the use Ranma’s technique had been put to.

"I’m going to have to thank Mousse the next time I see him."

Silently, Ryoga lifted up the sleeping bag flap and gestured to it. Ranma crawled in, and Ryoga followed, zipping up the side until they were sealed in. Almost instantly, Ranma felt the warmth of their two bodies filling the space. She sighed in contentment, and then rolled to face Ryoga, putting her arms around his neck and lifting up to kiss his nose, the way he’d been kissing hers all night. Ryoga smiled tenderly at her and stroked a hand though her loose hair. They snuggled until they both were comfortable, and then they closed their eyes to sleep.

And Ranma opened his, realizing that his hand was on Ryoga’s cheek, and Ryoga’s hand was on the pulse in Ranma’s neck… We both need reassurance… and I’m frightened to go to sleep. "Ryoga…"

Ryoga opened his eyes, concern showing there almost instantly, "Yes?"

"Please promise me that for tonigh… well, while we’re sleeping… That you won’t leave. That you’ll stay with me. That…" And a lone tear dropped down his cheek. Damn… I thought I was done with that.

Ryoga bushed it dry, "I promise." He thought carefully about what he felt and could feel, and thought that there was a good chance…, "I promise I’ll stay by your side and not leave you for at least the next couple of days."

Ranma blinked, "You can do that?"

Ryoga shrugged very slightly, "You need me. I can still feel it." It was a jangling nerve within his soul that really hadn’t stopped since he’d first felt it in the white… in the… Where was I, anyway? I was dead… Ryoga squashed that line of thought firmly, I’ll just say, ‘by the banks of the river.’ And then he wondered if he dared to go to sleep. To try to wake up from a dream now… Will always remind me. The hardest thing about the white land, was how easy it would have been to stay there.

"Okay," Ranma pillowed her head back down on Ryoga’s shoulder. "I accept." And almost instantly, she was asleep.

Ryoga watched her for several more moments, but tiredness soon closed his eyes and then took him also into sleep.

 


 Notes to Chapter 5:

- Regarding the sex… In this storyline: Yes, s/he’s a martial artist and a very active one… but I was assuming that physical activity in and of itself wouldn’t tear the hymen, especially if it’s all normal physical activity for him/her. Only sudden strains or unusual activity or a tampon tear it. Since he merged into his girl-form late in life, the body template basically gave the girl’s body mostly his same physical body as far as muscles/membranes go… including that particular one. Which means it was damn strong and very flexible. And Ranma tends to be more of a kempo artist, with smooth glides and blocks and actions; rather than sudden strains. So it’s intact on their first time in this storyline. Other storylines, it’s just as valid that it could have been torn before. (Okay, maybe a bit more likely, but I wanted to leave it intact for this story!)

- Regarding motivations… It was never about the Bread Feud. Ranma brought it up as a possible reason for Ryoga's being angry… but you'll note that Ryoga never agrees. Their 'Bread Feud' was simply a series of normal competitions between them (and who says that Ryoga lost every time, anyhow? J ).

- 'fairy'… The second meaning is pretty exclusively American, and being Japanese, Ranma would probably never have thought of it… But I couldn't resist. "If you call that 'forcing' then I'm a–" I was looking for a word that Ranma would have used, and 'fairy' just came to mind and then I thought of the other meaning… and I just had to leave it in after that. :-P

"Of Life and Love": Start         Previous: Chapter 04       Next: Chapter 06