Throughout the week, Ranma and her new friends would regularly run into Ryouga on their way to and from school. He remained on his guard, and justifiably so, afraid of the Chinese girl who'd claimed him.
On Friday, they decided enough was enough. Ryouga needed something nice to take his mind off the hunt.
"But I can't skate," Ranma argued, shooting down the idea that Akane and Nabiki had decided on.
"I'm surprised you'd admit you can't do something, Ranma. But I'm no good on the ice either," Ryouga confessed.
"All the more fun," Nabiki countered. "You can take this chance to learn!"
Indeed, shortly after, all four of them were at the local rink. Nabiki drew lazy but fairly graceful little circles while Akane hovered around the cat kids, who held onto each other for dear life as they slowly made their way around.
"Really, you two are gonna have to let go at some point," Akane sighed. "People are gonna get the wrong idea. What kinda posture is that anyway?"
"Yeah, Tiger. Stand up straight," Nabiki agreed. She nodded at Akane, who moved behind Ryouga, while she snuck up behind Ranma. Together, they pulled the two scaredy cats apart. Nabiki jabbed Ranma in the back to try and straighten her out, taking a cue from the family doctor, while Akane simply grabbed Ryouga by the chest and pulled back while pushing at his waist.
He was just a little perturbed by the action, and Ranma seemed a bit surprised in a more positive way at what Nabiki did to her, but this quickly gave way to a minor panic as the sisters gave them a push, away from each other.
"Somebody catch me-heeee," Ranma cried out, waving her arms around as if that'd slow her down. Much to her short-lived relief, she was caught halfway across the rink by a young man in a nice sweater.
"Are you alright?" he asked with a soft, gentle voice.
"Thanks for the catch, ah...?"
"Mikado Sanzenin, a pleasure to make the acquaintance of such a cute young lady," he introduced himself, holding Ranma close to him, her feet off the ice, and one hand gently cupping her jaw.
Ranma shivered at the touch. Clearly, this Mikado guy was bad news.
"I can tell you've not skated before, am I right?"
"Ah, yeah... why?"
"I could teach you how to skate," Mikado offered, "for a small price..."
Ranma's finely-tuned senses cried out as Mikado's face came closer.
"... that being just a kiss."
It lasted for just a second, maybe even only half a second, but to Ranma the kiss felt like it took several minutes. Several minutes of torture, as the confessed lesbian wouldn't ever have imagined actually being kissed by a man who was not her father, let alone an obvious womanizing jackass like this Mikado Sanzenin.
"How dare you?!" Ryouga called out, fumbling his way over on pure rage alone, Nabiki trailing him with a look of shock and disgust. She was dumbstruck by the event, and somewhere in the back of her head she was happy Ryouga could speak for her. "How dare you kiss her? Ranma is not yours to treat like that!"
"Oh? You are this cute young thing's boyfriend, then?" Mikado haughtily responded as he watched a crying Ranma skitter away to the safety of what he thought must be her big sister.
"I will kick your playboy ass for making her cry," Ryouga declared, his fist burning with righteous fury.
"No," Ranma interrupted, wiping the tears from her face. "We will."
"Two-on-two, then? The Golden Pair accepts your challenge," Mikado countered. "Azusa!"
At Mikado's call, a little girl who tried way too hard to look cute glided in and hooked onto Mikado's arm. "This is my partner, Azusa Shiratori, and we are the Golden Pair of Kolhotz High."
"When you leave this rink," Azusa joined in, "it won't be as lovers."
The rink quickly cleared out, those familiar with the Golden Pair knowing what would come next and those who were not following along.
"But we're not--"
"Come at us!"
Only staying upright out of adrenaline and rage, Ranma and Ryouga did indeed come at them. Most of their attacks didn't connect simply by virtue of their targets being that much more mobile, though some got through. Mikado's sweater got cut up a bit from getting kicked by an opponent with blades strapped to their feet, but no lasting harm came to him. To the expert martial artists, this was somewhat frustrating.
Sharing an understanding nod, Ranma grabbed Ryouga by the wrists and let him swing her around, hoping to increase the strength of their impact and cut their opponent down to size. Instead, Azusa grabbed Ranma by the ankles and was in turn grabbed by Mikado.
A random bystander next to the Tendou sisters recognized what was happening and gasped. "Not the Couple Cleaver! My god..."
Nabiki turned to the bystander. "What's that?"
"It's this thing they do where they split up couples by playing on their trust."
"Couples' trust, huh? Should be interesting to see how that works out."
The bystander hummed in confusion.
Meanwhile, Azusa was firmly planted on Mikado's shoulders, holding Ranma's ankles besides her head, and Ranma in turn still held onto Ryouga's wrists. Suddenly, Mikado spun, quickly building up enough angular momentum to make his opponents fly out parallel to the ground. It became increasingly difficult for Ranma to hold onto Ryouga, who himself was now grasping at Ranma's wrist.
"Release him and I'll stop spinning," Mikado called out.
Ranma considered her options and looked at Ryouga, who smirked. They actually think we wouldn't?
A second later, Ryouga was embedded into the wall of the rink. As the spin slowed down, Azusa released her grip on Ranma's ankles, who did an impressive double flip onto the rink, then fell over.
"Why would you let go so willingly?" Mikado asked disparagingly. "Do you not love this man?"
Ranma scoffed. "And I thought he assumed too much. I'm with her, dummy!" she revealed, pointing at Nabiki.
"...oh, I get it now. Nice," said the bystander.
"Kick his ass, Ranma," Ryouga said with barely a groan as he picked himself up out of the wall.
Suitably distracted, Mikado was in no position to defend himself. Ten seconds later, Azusa pulled her partner off the rink by the collar.
Later at a table of a little café near the rink, the girls and their boy friend discussed what had happened over drinks and fast food.
"So, did all that get your mind off things, Ryouga-kun?" Akane asked.
"I gotta admit, besides the part where I got slammed into a wall I had some good fun. Now that it's over though... it doesn't really go away, does it?"
"This Shampoo girl," Nabiki carefully opened, "does she know?"
Ryouga gave her a confused look.
"About your curse?"
"Ah. I don't think so," Ryouga considered, trying to recall if the villagers had ever seen him in his cat form. "No, I'm pretty sure actually. If they even know I'm cursed, they don't know what I become."
"And you're quite sure she's around, here in Nerima?"
Nabiki pondered her idea for all of two seconds. "Then how about you go undercover as Kasumi's pet?"
Ranma grinned. "I like it! It's sneaky and yet somewhat proper!"
A loud crackling thumping noise from outside surprised the group, and a web of cracks quickly appeared on a nearby wall.
"Oh shit she's here!" Ryouga cried out, grabbing for Ranma's drink and dunking it at his face. Thinking fast as another loud thump Sounded out and the first bits of the wall fell away, Ranma quickly pulled Ryouga's pile of clothes out from under the newly-revealed housecat and stashed it into her pack.
Just as Akane split Ryouga's food between her and Nabiki, the wall exploded.
A fierce young woman stepped through the hole. She was only slightly shorter than Nabiki, with brightly colored hair down to her hips, and two fierce-looking chui in her hands.
"Hibiki zai nali?" the intruder asked nobody in particular.
AYAAAH, honored sirs! Is dramatic introduction of fearsome Shampoo! Yeah, but for real? I was gonna introduce her first thing in this chapter, when they're still in the dojo, have her fling the door open just when Ryouga and Kasumi leave to implement Nabiki's plan.
Instead, you get somewhat condensed golden pears. DWI. Now, without P-chan, you can't have Charlotte, and as such no Charlotte Cup. Hence the whole condensing it down. I'll admit I kinda ran out of steam near the end.
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