Author's intro: This
story was inspired by Solar Demise. I claim no rights to the original idea
behind the story or Takahashi's characters. I simply felt inspired to share
my own thoughts and ideas. Whatever fate is in store for this story I rest
in the hands of Laura Hendricks, who I thank for creating a story that inspired
me to a bout of creativity. ^_^
We hadn't been hiking very long before I noticed the heat really was oppressive. This was the first time I think I consciously thought of the heat as a wave. As we walked I could almost feel it lapping over me. Still, it was a small price to pay. Ranma had agreed to let me go with him. I smiled at the thought, glad that he was in front of me and so unable to see it. I was sure it was slightly lopsided and very goofy. I wondered if it was one of the ones he thought made me cute . . .
He had suggested we head to the ocean and I had readily agreed. After all, it had been a while since we'd been and the chance to spend time with Ranma was still fresh in my mind. I thought of some of our previous trips and smiled again at the memories that surfaced. Ranma was always getting in trouble at the beach. Be it fights with Cologne or Happousai there had rarely been a dull moment. Thoughts of the love pill bracelet flitted briefly through my mind before I once again focused on the trail ahead of me.
I looked up at Ranma and noticed that while the hike didn't seem to be affecting him, the heat did. Beads of sweat had formed on the back of his neck and I watched one grow heavy and fall, lost in the tank top he was wearing. That was another reason I was glad he was leading, it offered a very nice view. I blushed briefly at the turn my thoughts had taken before once again regaining my composure. Still, he was rather nice to look at.
Sighing, I decided to try and start up a conversation. "So Ranma, where exactly are we heading?"
Turning his head, Ranma smiled briefly before responding. "Well, while me and Pop were on the road, we covered some of this area. The mountains are kinda nice and in a couple days we can make the ocean."
I nodded and then asked him what it had been like being on the road so much when he was younger. It was something I had a hard time imagining. We had both had our struggles early in life. I still missed Mom, but my family had been there for me. He hadn't been able to see his Mother either. Ten years or so on the road with someone like Genma was a little more than my mind could comprehend. He told of his experiences and I found myself losing track of time and distance covered as I focused on his voice. It made for a pleasant way to hike.
We stopped some time that afternoon to eat and rest. Again we took the moment to talk. I shared some concerns I had about the mountains and traveling in the day. With the thinner atmosphere I was worried we'd have to be more careful of sunstroke and such. Ranma cocked his head to the side and agreed that might be something to be careful about. It had been a while since snow had been seen on any of the mountains. While the fresh water from the unexpected runoff had been a blessing it was still odd. How often do you have to worry about it being hot at the top of a mountain?
Sitting in the shade I decided it would be a good time to add some sunblock to my arms and shoulders, I had probably sweat most of it off. For some reason I thought of the time I had modeled my new outfits for Ranma and an idea formed.
"Ranma," I asked a little shyly, "would you rub some sunblock on my shoulders?" My heart was pounding as I waited for a reply. I knew he was still a little uncomfortable with me and some of the aspects of our relationship, but hopefully he'd take this as one friend asking another . . .
He looked over at me, curious for a moment before shrugging his shoulders and nodding. "Sure Akane. That's probably a good idea while we're here. Maybe I'll have you do me when I'm done."
I did my best to not smile from ear to ear. Instead I nodded a response, dug out the sunblock and turned my back to him. I heard him taking the top off the tube and then I felt his hands pick up mine and he started rubbing. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the sensation of cool sunblock and warm hands. His hands were a little rough and made a pleasant counterpoint to the slickness of the cream. He firmly massaged my arms and I noticed with a bit of a smirk that he was being very thorough. I could almost picture a serious expression on his face as he rubbed along the tops of my arms; it almost made me giggle. I tried hard not to sigh at his touch. As he progressed to the tops of my shoulders I asked him to get under the straps of the tank top I was wearing. We had picked it up at a shop somewhere along the way. The clothes I had started in weren't really up to the trip. I had been a bit concerned about the tank top, but decided comfort was a little more important that anything else. Besides if we were careful we shouldn't run into any trouble, solar or otherwise. I felt the fabric of the top shift as he carefully worked the sunblock along the tops of my shoulders. Realizing he was done, I leaned back into him a little, feeling him tense up at first but then relaxing.
"Thanks" I murmured. Wishing the moment wouldn't end, but realizing it must, I then turned to him and said, "Your turn!"
He smiled a little, handed me the tube and then turned away from me. I worked some of the sunblock out of the tube, rubbed it briefly between my hands and then proceeded to pick up his hands as he had mine. I held them briefly before starting to work the cream in. I noticed subtle differences in our hands. His were obviously larger, but I marveled more at the little things. The way a callous had formed, or the hair on a knuckle. Proceeding up his arms I began to rub a little harder, once again noting how muscular he was. At the moment, he was actually pretty relaxed. Maybe I had managed to get past his guard for the time being. I made sure to hit all the same spots and tried to be as thorough. I noticed briefly that he was either staring off into space, or he had closed his eyes. Smiling again, I finished. When I was done, I rested my forearms on his shoulders, putting my chin on top of his head.
"What are you thinking about Ranma?"
Silence for several seconds, before he softly responded, "I'm glad you came."
"Mmm. That's nice. Me too."
We stayed that way for what seemed an eternity. A brief breeze stirred a lock of hair and I stood up, stretching my back. "What do you say we rest here until sunset and then start out again?"
Turning to look at me, he smiled one of his rare sincere smiles. My heart melted a little more. Maybe soon I could tell him how I felt. Surely he felt the same. After all hadn't he said it was best to spend this time with someone you cared for? And he had let me come . . . Soon . . .
"That sounds fine Akane."
It was later when the sun finally ducked below the horizon, that we started out again. We had sat together marveling at the wash of color the sunset produced. I had to keep myself from leaning against him or taking his hand. I didn't want to rush things, but I also didn't want to waste a precious moment.
With the stars peeking out, we began to feel our way along the trail. Fortunately the moon was out and for the time being we could see without our flashlights. I locked this moment away in my heart. The two of us. Working our way to somewhere else, but more interested in where we were. For the first time in a while, I felt truly content and at peace. I looked to the sky and marveled at the beauty that could be found. Looking at Ranma I realized it could be found in many places. We continued to walk to the ocean. Together.
Click here to visit Andrew Eoff's Home Page.
Note from Laura: Waaahhh, isn't this fic cool?!? Andrew Eoff is also the author of other fanfics, such as "You Say it's Her Birthday" and "Akane Remembered." These were fanfics that I read back when I could barely use a mouse correctly, and are very much worth reading! Go to his page and check out his fics; you won't be disappointed. ^_^