A Small Favour
Niki (NeeP) Paradis

     Ryouga was depressed.  It was later in the evening, the day of the Martial arts tournament.  It was a tie between Ranma and himself, which was one of the first times that ever happened.  It was also the day that Akane learned about his dreaded secret.  He sat with his arms wrapped around his knees on his futon in the darkened room as he recalled the events of the day.

     "You're P-chan?  You?!?  And I let You sleep with me?!?"
     "Akane-san, wait ... I can explain..."
     "No.  I don't want to talk to you... I don't even want to see you ... Never ever again."
     Akane slapped him then.  The handprint lasted for three hours afterwards.

     Ryouga just couldn't stand it anymore.  He betrayed someone he cared about and she doesn't want to forgive him. His aura started to build as his depression started to consume him, and his head sank onto his knees.

    Jiro was watching her brother from the crack in the doorway into the room.  She knew that she had to find something to distract him before he allowed his depression to overwhelm him.  She thought seriously about it for a moment then went to find Ukyou.
     Ukyou was sitting at the counter of her restaurant when Jiro Hibiki descended from the stairway.
     "How is he doing?"  Ukyou asked.
     "Not too good."  Jiro tugged at the short hair at the back of her neck.  "Actually, I'm worried, Ukyou-san.  He's got to be distracted, or shown that there are other people out there who could care deeply for him, besides Akane-san."  She looked towards Ukyou and shrugged, as if she had decided about something awkward and wanted to get it over with.  "Actually, Ukyou-san, I have a personal and important favour to ask you."  Jiro was actually blushing.
     "So...  Ask away."
     Jiro whispered into Ukyou's ear, mindful that her brother might be angry if he knew what she was asking.
    Ukyou gasped.  "You want me to WHAT!?!"

     Ryouga was still sitting in the dark when he heard a knock on the door.
     "I want to be alone for a while, please leave."
     Ukyou turned on the light and came in.
     "I said that I want to be alone!  Please leave."
     "Uh uh, I'm not leaving so you could feel sorry for yourself, Sugar."
     Ryouga glared at her.
     "So Akane hates your guts.  So what?  You know that she was never yours."
     Ryouga grunted.
     "And what am I?  Chopped Liver?"
     Ryouga's eyes opened wide at her last statement.
     "So you lost Akane and I lost Ranchan.  We both know that life goes on, right?"
     "I dunno..."
     "Well, let me tell you that there are other people who care for you and are concerned."
     "Like who?"
     "Your sister for one.  Jiro.  Remember her?"
     "And me too, you pig-headed fool."
     "Sorry doesn't cut it.  You know something, there are people who could love you for who you are, besides Akane."
    "Yeah, but Akari and I parted ways a couple months ago.  She knew that she was just infatuated with me, that it wasn't love."
     "I meant besides her."
     "Oh?  And who would love a guy like me?  With my curse, with my sense of direction, with ears like mine..."
    Ukyou leaned over to him, and whispered into his ear.
    "I would, you idiot."
    With that she kissed him.
    Ryouga was startled.  "Do you really mean it?" he asked.
    "Let me show you..." she whispered.  Slowly, hesitantly, she removed her lavender wrap and let it drop to the floor.  She smiled shyly.
    "I'll help you forget Akane."
    She kissed him again, while pulling at the collar of his new tunic.  She managed to pull it over his head and then she kissed him again.  Ryouga sat there stunned.
    "You're supposed to help me, jackass," she said softly as she reached down to unbutton his trousers.

    Ryouga and Ukyou lay together under the covers.  The sheets were wet where the blood from his nose spurted.  But Ryouga was asleep, his features serene and no longer in torment.  Ukyou was lying against him, her eyes taking in and memorising everything that she could see in the dim light.  She allowed her fingers to trace the outline of him once again, feeling every detail.  She ran her hand over his shoulders, strong and hard muscle, solid like the rock that he was learning to manipulate.  She combed her fingers through his thick hair, now long enough to reach the bottoms of his shoulder blades, often kept in a ponytail, it now was loose and it hung like a curtain across the back of his neck, accented by his yellow and black bandanna which seemed to glow in the dim light.  She traced the edge of his ear, stopping at the pointed tip.  She smiled to herself.  She couldn't believe that Ryouga thought that his newly pointed ears made him look freakish.  She personally thought that they added a certain charm, like the fangs that he was named after ? and all of the other girls at the tournament apparently thought so too, with their trying to hang around him, trying to get his attention.  The idiot didn't even noticed, she chuckled softly to herself. She sighed contentedly.  She finally won that contest.  None of the other girls were able to catch his attention.  Ryouga--no, Ryo-chan was hers.

    Ryouga woke a few hours before dawn, a little lost and confused.  For a moment, he couldn't remember where he was.  He looked down and saw Ukyou sleeping beside him.  He went light-headed as he remembered what happened the night before.  He rubbed his hand across his face and wasn't surprised that it came away sticky with blood.  He watched her sleep, and listened to her slow and even breathing.  Her bare shoulders glowed in the pre-dawn light, her thick brown hair falling down her back, and her breasts, covering her like a veil.  He picked up a lock of her hair and held it to his face, breathing the scent of her.  He couldn't believe that she gave herself to him, he couldn't believe that he actually thought that he could only be happy with Akane.  I've been a fool, he thought as he realised that his true path to happiness lay right beside him.  He kissed the back of her head and settled back down to sleep.

    Jiro woke up when she heard the birds scratching outside for crumbs.  She yawned and stretched, thinking that she had had better nights of sleep.  She should have thought about the fact that the storeroom and her futon were located directly under Ryouga's tiny room.  At least, she thought, I should be thankful that Oniichan sleeps on a futon as I do and not a box spring and mattress.   She smiled to herself as she got up.
    Jiro had simply asked Ukyou to admit her love for Ryouga.  She didn't expect Ukyou to prove her love the way that she did, but it worked.  She figured that Ryouga would no longer be obsessed with Akane.
    She quickly got dressed and exited the room.  She put a pot of water on the stove of the restaurant for her morning tea.  She looked at the clock over the door and realised that there was only an hour before Ucchan's was supposed to open.  She thought about it for a moment then she walked over to a drawer, open it, and pull out a sheet of paper and a pen.  Quickly, she made a sign just as the water was beginning to boil.  She made a mug of tea, then grabbed the still drying sign and her text on learning German and went outside to enjoy the morning.

    Akane was feeling a bit guilty.  She had the whole night to think and to argue with Ranma.  She realised that, perhaps, Ryouga just might have a reason not to tell her that he was posing as her pet pig for the last two years.  She also realised that even as P-chan, he was always a gentleman.  He never looked at her while she was changing; he never took advantage of her while she was sleeping, not even to cop a cheap feel.  She was still angry with him, but now, she could probably discuss it calmly with him.
    She and Ranma were on their way to Ucchan's so they resolve the situation.  It was just after 10 am and they figured that by this time the breakfast crowd would just be starting to leave.  But when they arrived, they were surprised to find the restaurant still closed.  They pushed their way through the muttering crowd that was gathered around the door to the store and stared at the sign that was posted.
    It read as followed:

Due to an unforeseen situation,
Ucchan's will be opening late today.
Sorry for the inconvenience.

    "Unforeseen situation?" asked Ranma.  He and Akane looked around to see if they could find someone who knew what was going on.  Akane found Jiro sitting on the wall that was on the other side of the street.
    "Hey!  Jiro-chan, what's going on?  Where's Ucchan?"
    "Where's Ryouga-kun?" asked Akane.
    Jiro looked at them both.
    "Good morning Ranma-san," she greeted him cheerfully.  "Good morning Akane-san," she said in a more frigid tone.
    "So where are they?" asked Ranma again.
    "Are they all right?" asked Akane.  "Is Ryouga-kun okay?"
    Jiro blinked at the concern in Akane's voice.
    "Oh, they're both okay.  They just haven't got out of bed yet."
    Both Ranma and Akane blinked.
    "Were they up all night?" asked Akane.
    "Something like that." Jiro shrugged.  She looked over their heads at the restaurant.  Akane and Ranma turned and saw Ukyou opening the door.
    "Hey!  Ukyou!  Good morning!"  Jiro leaped off the wall and bounced up to her.
    "G'morning Jiro-chan.  'Morning Ranchan.  Akane, you better not be here to upset poor Ryo-chan any more."  Ukyou glared at Akane.
    Sweat-drops formed on both Ranma's and Akane's heads.
    Ryo-chan?!?  They both thought.
    Akane shook her head.
    "No, just to talk, I guess I should apologise to him."
    "Well, sugar, I think he owes you an apology as well, especially for keeping something like that from you."
    Ukyou pushed open the door and allowed everyone in.  Once inside, Jiro grinned as she turned to the restaurant owner.
    "So Ukyou, how was it?"
    Ukyou was too accustomed to Jiro's directness to be bothered by her question, but she blushed as she realised that Ranma and Akane would also hear her answer besides Jiro.  She shrugged and voice dropped to a near whisper.
    "You could have told me that he was that shy.  It took about ten minutes to stop his nose from bleeding before we could even do anything."  Her blush deepened.
    "But I didn't expect you to do what you did last night.  And you should know that he's that shy-- although, I guess that might have been fixed a little bit."  Jiro grinned and winked back at Ukyou, and Ukyou then realised that Jiro was not whispering.  She looked back at the now crowded restaurant.  The whole crowd was hushed and their eyes were wide.
    Both Ranma and Akane were straining to catch every word, but they heard it all.  Ranma's eyes were starting to bug out when he realised what Ukyou and Jiro were talking about.  Ryouga and Ucchan?  You mean they did that?
    Akane's jaw dropped.  Ryouga-kun and Ukyou?  Who would have thought?
    Ukyou's face went bright red.
    "Why'd you have to let everyone know?" she hissed at Jiro.
    "What is there to be embarrassed about?" asked Jiro, truly confused.  Then her eyes went wide.  "Unless you two did something..."
    "No!  We didn't do anything kinky-- get your mind outta the gutter, girl!"  Ukyou was speaking in a loud whisper.  "Now hush up before Ryouga hears you..."
    There was a crash from the back room, as if someone was startled into knocking over some dishes.
    "He's heard the whole thing," said Jiro, then she dropped to a soft whisper.  "Didn't you, Oniichan?"
    The sound of another plate crashing to the floor could be heard.  Ryouga stepped out of the back room, wearing his uniform wrap and holding some of the pieces of the broken dishes.  His face was even redder than Ukyou's was and the blush reached the tips of his ears.
    "Good hearing," was all that he said as he pointed to one of his ears.
    "Good morning, Oniichan," chirped Jiro.  Ryouga glared at her.
    "Hey, Ryouga," called Ranma.  "I didn't think you had it in ya.  Good for you, man."
    "Uh, right."  Ryouga looked towards Ukyou.  "Shouldn't we get started?" he asked, gesturing towards all of the customers in the restaurant.
    Ukyou started, then nodded.
    "You're right.  Sorry, Ranchan, Akane, I better get started."
    "It's all right, Ukyou," replied Akane.  She looked towards Ryouga.  "Ryouga-kun, I want to talk with you later."
    "Uh, okay."
    Akane and Ranma left.

    It was later in the day, and Ryouga was outside sweeping.  He remembered Ukyou's off hand question in regards to Jiro.
"What kind of bizarre upbringing did that girl have, anyway?"
    Ryouga had no answer.  All he knew was that Jiro was raised in a very small village where the only bathhouse was communal.  Or so she has said to him.
    He bent down with the dustpan, swept up the debris and started looking for a trashcan (which was right behind him).
    Ryouga dropped the dustpan at the sound of Akane's voice.
    "A-aa-Akane-san..." Ryouga stumbled over the name.
    "We have to talk."  She didn't give him the option.
    She led him inside the restaurant, past Ukyou and Jiro, and the customers and into the back room.  The door shut behind them.
    "Now, Ryouga, can you tell me why you haven't told me that you were P-chan?"
    Ryouga blushed furiously and fidgeted.
    "Um... It's like this... One dark night, all those years ago, I came to the dojo to fight with Ranma.  It was raining and I got wet.  I changed into my cursed form and got lost when I wound up in your bedroom.  I, uh, fell in, uh, love with the girl who found me there..."

    Ukyou and Jiro were starting to close up when Akane and Ryouga both left the back room.  Ukyou saw that both Akane and Ryouga had been crying.  Akane gave Ryouga a brief hug and squeezed his hand.
    "You take care, Ryouga-kun," she said.  "I'll probably see you tomorrow."
    "Yeah, see you later, Akane-san."
    As she walked past Ukyou and Jiro on her way to the door, she stopped and turned to face Ukyou.
    "You take good care of him, Ukyou, as a favour to me," she said.  "Ryouga-kun's a very special person."
    "I will," replied Ukyou.  "Don't you worry about it, Sugar."  She looked meaningfully at Ryouga.  "I will take very good care of this Lost Boy."
    Akane nodded and then left.
    Ukyou looked towards Ryouga, who was wiping at his face with his fist.
    "Are you okay, Ryo-chan" she asked him.
    "I dunno..."
    Jiro interrupted him.
    "Why don't you take him upstairs and see if you can cheer him up, Ukyou?  I can finish up down here."
    "Thanks, Jiro-chan."
    "I'll even bring up something warm for you two to drink."
    "Thank-you again, Jiro-chan," replied Ukyou as she took Ryouga upstairs.

    Ukyou shut the door to Ryouga's room and sat him down on his futon.  Ryouga was still wiping tears from his eyes.
    "So... what did you two talk about?" she asked.
    "I told her that I was in love with her, and didn't want her to think of me as less of a man because I kept turning into a pig."  He sighed.  "She told me that she had always considered me to be a very good friend, but there was no way that there could have been anything between us.  She loves Ranma, she always had, but she didn't realise it at first.  I had no chance."
    "Anything else?"
    "One more thing.  She told me that Ranma considers you to be a very special friend and that I would be doing him a favour if I would take care of you."
    Ukyou sighed.  "That Ran-chan."  She shook her head and then brightened.  "Y'know, Jiro wanted me to cheer you up, and  I can think of one way to do it."  She grinned wickedly.  Ryouga gulped, and grinned back weakly as a trickle of blood came out of his nose.
    "Are you sure?" he asked.
    "Well, I am suppose to take good care of you..."

    Jiro watched as her brother was led away by Ukyou.  Y'know, she thought, I think something good has come from all this.  She then went about the rest of the chores.  She locked the doors, finished sweeping and put the kettle on for the hot drinks that she promised.  When the drinks were done, she placed them on a tray and carried them upstairs.  When she reached the small room where her brother slept, she stopped and listened to the sounds from inside.  Blushing, Jiro set the drinks on the floor and knocked loudly at the door.
    "Ukyou?  Oniichan?" She called out.  "I'm gonna leave the drinks out here.  You can get them when you're done."  She retreated back down stairs, figuring that Ukyou have succeeded in cheering up Ryouga.  She chuckled to herself remembering that this all started the night before by asking Ukyou for a favour.
   Yep, something good has definitely started, she thought.  I gotta ask for favours more often-- there's no telling what they will lead to.  Maybe something will come MY way.

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