It was quite a shock for the proprietor of the ice cream store to see not just the usual red-haired sweetheart walk in with her friend, but for several others to come along. He knew Kasumi well enough -- basically every business in the area was familiar with her. He wasn't quite as familiar with the two serious-looking girls, nor the ordinary-looking two... but the long-haired girl in the Chinese dress put the man on edge.
Akane and Ukyo were in turn surprised how very friendly and strangely non-aggressive the whole outing was. It was not until after she realized that Shampoo wasn't continuously cuddling up to Ranma that Akane realized she'd called it "non-aggressive" instead of "peaceful", like the word just hadn't come to mind. And Ranma didn't try to scam the proprietor, she noticed. Sure, he got the usual discount but Akane was very well aware that Ranma didn't act. He was just being a cute red-head. Perhaps the poor ice cream guy was just that well trained? If nothing else, Akane noticed Nabiki seemed a little proud of Ranma for pulling it off. Not that Nabiki showed it all that much, but Akane could tell. Barely.
Shampoo did actually hug Ranma every now and then, she and Kasumi flanking him in their seating arrangement. Akane found she simply couldn't dredge up enough motivation to care, especially after Shampoo leaned in for a kiss and got rapped on the head by Kasumi.
Sayuri and Yuka were quite content to just sit there, eat their ice cream, and giggle at the others' shenanigans, as one would. Until Yuka finished her bowl.
"Y'know, looking at Miss Kasumi and Ranma--"
"Yo hold up," Ranma interrupted. "Why's she get an honorific and I don't?"
"Respect has to be earned," Yuka gently shot back, to which Ranma graciously smirked. "But yeah. Looking at them, I can't help but think..."
"Think what, Yu?" Sayuri asked as she swapped her still half-full bowl with Yuka's.
Yuka leaned in a bit. "I think they... fucked," she whispered, dragging out the verb with a blush. To her infinite credit, Kasumi blushed perhaps even harder. Ranma smirked knowingly, showing more obvious pride (even though Yuka was wrong) than Nabiki had earlier, who in turn seemed highly intrigued by the idea. Akane also blushed, thinking of the same events her ex and sister were thinking of, while Shampoo seemed absolutely mortified.
Ukyo choked on a cherry, having mistaken Ranma's proud smirk for confirmation.
"What makes you think they did?" Sayuri asked, as flustered as any. "You know Ranma, Yu. Ranma doesn't fff--do that!"
"I won't confirm or deny anything of that nature. Not here," Kasumi said with her usual serenity, after having taken a good ten seconds to collect herself and stop blushing.
We'll see about that, Nabiki thought as she plotted.
That evening, in the Tendou dojo, all eight girls (because Ranma totally counts) sat around with sleeping bags, futons, and sundry manner of snacks and drinks. Not a single one of them was properly dressed, and not one of them cared about it, not even Ranma. If he did care about how Shampoo was only wearing a large shirt and didn't seem to have anything underneath, he did an excellent job not showing. Which was only appropriate, since Shampoo did a good job not showing, too. Ranma himself was in his usual wife beater and boxers, Kasumi was right behind him in a fairly decent nightgown, and the other two Tendou sisters had their respective pajamas on. That left Ukyo in only pajama bottoms and an old T-shirt, and those two girls in their own pajamas.
"And he seriously thought he was in Okinawa! Hibiki must be the only boy these days who doesn't get pummeled for sneaking around the girls bathroom," Ukyo finished. "I mean, he's just so innocent about it, right?"
Ranma wanted to quip about Ryouga's supposed innocence, but found he couldn't think of an example that couldn't be brushed off as proof that Ryouga was acting innocently. The only thing he could think of would out his frenemy as P-chan. He couldn't very well do that.
That Kasumi was brushing his hair didn't help thinking much either. It was as distracting as it was utterly calming.
So instead, Ranma just lightly chuckled, which Ukyo noticed. "Don't you worry, Ranma-honey. You'll get free access to the girl's bathroom soon enough."
Ranma blushed and narrowed his eyes at Ukyo. "Fuck you, Ucchan," he muttered.
"Oh no, what would your fiancée think, to hear you say that about another girl?" Ukyo immediately countered.
Said fiancée calmly continued brushing Ranma's red tresses. "Not much, I'll admit. We had a very good conversation about these matters. Didn't we, Ranma dear?"
Ranma immediately recalled how that conversation went and curled up. "Yer killin' me here," he repeated.
"Right!" Nabiki called out, ostensibly to help Ranma out of a Situation. "Who wants to play a game?"
Basically all the others responded in favor, some raising a hand, some saying "yes" or "me", some doing both. "What game'd you have in mind, sugar?" Ukyo asked.
"You all know of the King's Game, right?"
Almost everybody nodded to that, though some weren't as fast to respond. Ukyo, being a business owner, was particularly quick to recognize it as something office workers might play on nights out and wasn't surprised at all Nabiki knew of it. The only ones who didn't have a clue at all were Ranma and Shampoo, the former confusedly thinking of the Gambling King instead and the latter being Chinese.
"For a lack of numbered cards and care to acquire some more so, I'd like to introduce you to a game like the King's Game that foreigners play," Nabiki started. "They call it Truth or Dare, and all we need is an empty bottle and no sense of shame."
"I got the bottle," Ukyo offered, holding up an almost-empty soda bottle that she quickly finished and handed over to Nabiki.
"I got the no sense of shame," Ranma joked in a flash of self-awareness. "And so does Shampoo," he added as he glimpsed a grinning Shampoo secretly flashing her lack of underwear at him.
"Akane, could you be a dear and bop Shampoo for me please?" Kasumi asked with unfitting serenity.
"Now then," Nabiki said as she confirmed the bottle was adequately empty, "we all sit around in a circle, and place the bottle in the center."
Yuka scootched over to let Ukyo sit in a more fitting position while Kasumi quickly finished her brushing and let Ranma sit next to her.
"Let's go by seniority to start, shall we? Kasumi, you go first. Spin the bottle, and whomever the neck points to you get to ask, truth or dare."
"Oh my, okay," Kasumi muttered as she reached over to give the bottle a spin. After a few tense seconds, it ended up pointing at Ranma.
"Huh, almost a three-sixty. Imagine that," Ukyo quipped. Nabiki gestured at Kasumi to go ahead and ask.
"Ranma dear? I know it's a bit silly to ask you this but truth or dare?"
"Yer right. That is a silly question. Dare, of course!"
"Okay. Then... I dare you to let Shampoo sit on your lap," Kasumi firmly stated after a second or two of thought. Shampoo for her part lit up in delight at the idea.
"Well, that's not so b--"
"In her cat form," Kasumi finished. Shampoo wheezed.
"When'd you get so evil?!" Ranma retorted.
"Yeah, Sis. That's wicked," Akane joined in. "You know how Ranma gets around cats!"
"Fuck it," Ranma called out. "I'll do it. Ranma Saotome don't back out of a challenge," he boasted, trying not to tremble at the idea. Shampoo, meanwhile, stood up smirking like the cat who caught the canary, went out the door, padded over to the koi pond, took off her shirt, and splashed herself with some of the pond water. Finding a lightly trembling Ranma being held from behind (once again) by Kasumi, she tried not to meow as she calmly walked up to her love interest, climbed up into his lap, and curled up.
"It's okay, dear. It's just Shampoo," Kasumi cooed in his ear. "Don't think of her as a cat on your lap, think of her as what she really is. Just a girl. Just a shameless girl."
It sort of reminded Ranma of how he felt about Ryouga sleeping in Akane's bed, in pig form. That helped a little.
"Hold up. Did we agree on a duration for the dare?" Akane asked.
"Until she gets bored of it, or he snaps I guess," Nabiki offered in reply, to which Shampoo stirred and left the lightly trembling confines of Ranma's legs once more, then dashed off to the bathroom. "Okay, I guess she got bored of it."
"So now I gotta spin it, right?" Ranma asked as he recovered.
"Yeah but let's wait 'til Shampoo gets back."
Nabiki was not too surprised to find Shampoo returning just as she finished her sentence. Ranma reached out and gave the bottle a firm spin, watching it end up pointing at Akane.
"'Kane, truth or dare?"
Well, after that display I'm not gonna say dare, Akane considered. "I'll take truth."
"A'ight. Lemme think," Ranma requested. "Ah, I got one. What were you really thinkin' when ya first walked in on me in the bath way back then?"
"Oh yeah, I remember that one," Nabiki reacted. "My bad, telling her the bath was ready without checking."
"And my bad for not checking the sign, I guess?" Akane offered. "But... ooh, do I have to? It's been so long!"
"Is what she said," Shampoo quipped.
"Huh. Now that you put it like that... I guess we're all doomed anyway, huh?"
"Well, sugar?" Ukyo gently pushed for Akane to answer the challenge.
Akane sighed. "Yeah. When I saw Ranma as a boy, in the tub, I was thinking... 'who's this guy, oh no, he's hot.' Then I couldn't help but glance down and I saw his... you know. And... Shampoo's joke was about right. Ranma's got... good genetics."
"Thank you, 'Kane. You're not half bad yaself," Ranma offered. "Though I'd like t'state for the record that I maintained eye contact throughout."
"Must've gotten those genes from his mother," Sayuri joked.
"That's how it works, dummy," Yuka replied with a soft bop to the head.
"But yeah, it wasn't until I'd left again that the situation sank in and I guess in hindsight took the wrong turn?" Akane finished, then reached for the bottle. "And speaking of turn..."
The bottle landed on Ranma once more. "I guess it's mine again? This bottle's biased as hell."
"Too bad. Truth or dare?"
"Let it never be said that a Saotome learned from their mistakes," Ranma joked.
"Okay then, wise guy," Akane smirked. "I dare you to... huh, I'm drawing a blank here. Yuka, you got any ideas?"
Yuka, who was barely paying attention because of an image she had in mind of her walking in on Ranma taking a bath, blurted out a challenge immediately. "I dare you to make out with me!"
"... what," said Akane, Ranma, and Saiyuri all at once.
"Oh my," said Kasumi. Ranma looked at her to see if she was okay with the challenge, and Kasumi (much to the shock and/or awe of her sisters) smiled and nodded.
"Yuka what the hell," Saiyuri all but demanded. "You really want to get mixed up with Ranma's bullshit relationships?"
"No, no, I just... I just want to experience it?" Yuka defended meekly.
"Shampoo think Yuka want experience little more than that," the warrior girl next to them teased with a knowing smile.
"And you're okay with that, sis?" Nabiki pressed.
"A challenge is a challenge, and I really can't blame the girl for her interest," Kasumi shrugged. "I'm pretty sure you'd like a kiss too," she added winking at her sisters.
"Don't I get a say in this?" Ranma argued. "I mean, I guess I'm okay with kissin' Yuka on a dare but I ain't gonna let what Shampoo suggested slide jus' like that!"
"Yes," Kasumi was quick to reply, Akane fiercely nodding in agreement.
"Nope," Nabiki, Shampoo, Ukyo, and Sayuri vocally disagreed.
"Forget it," Ranma scoffed as he adjusted his shirt. "Yuka?"
Ranma was in front of the girl in a flash, giving her a kiss on the cheek.
"Now, Saotome," Nabiki chided, "that wasn't the dare."
"I know, I know. Don't wanna rush it, is all," Ranma defended himself as he held a trembling Yuka by the shoulders. "You sure 'bout this?"
"And all of you are okay with this?"
Some of the other girls took a little longer to reply, but all of them either nodded or shrugged. Ranma returned the shrug, then turned back to Yuka, grit his teeth, and kissed her on the mouth. He could feel the poor girl tense up in his grip, then relax again. They looked each other in the eye, as if to confirm if she was still down with it, and she parted her lips in response.
A few seconds of slightly-awkward tongue-wrestling later, a severely red in the face Yuka pushed Ranma away from her, who took it in stride and took back his position next to Kasumi.
"Anyone else feel hot?" Shampoo quipped, wringing her hands. Nobody dared answer.
"Hey, Kasumi? Are you really okay with your beau making out with other girls?' Ukyo asked to confirm.
"I've been keeping a close eye on the dare," the older girl answered. "If either of them had gone too far for my liking I would've stepped in, but I know Ranma is too honorable and... well, awkward to do that, and from what I know Yuka is even worse."
"Yeah," Ukyo agreed. "Look at her, she's still shaking."
Kasumi nodded, though she wasn't sure if Yuka was shaking of nerves or something else. "Who's next to spin, though? I seem to have forgotten in all the excitement."
"Mine," Ranma replied, grabbing the bottle. "Now let's see how bad this game can really get."
Author's note: Aaah why'd I have to end this on a cliffhanger just when things might get really interesting? Because I'm a horrible creature. Now, you might be thinking "why is this chapter named "The King's Game" when it's about Truth or Dare? Well, I was looking up some things to see if Japanese sleepovers might involve T-or-D, discovered the similar King's Game, and spun up an excuse or two. Then I kept the original chapter title in honor of the final episode of Kamen Rider Zi-O airing last weekend. In other words, Rejoice!