Ranma was still in complete shock that Nakata Shiroi, Tokyo’s star football player, was now sitting next to him. In the middle of the blazing red nightclub known as “Red Dragon.” The small neon nightclub was now filling up with young men, the cheesy techno music blaring louder and the red spotlights flickered faster.
Nakata was explaining to Ranma about the different types of men that linger at Club Red Dragon. It was approximately 11 p.m. and the club was now filled to the brim with men of different shapes and sizes. The red spotlights continued to dance through the dark shadows in the background.
“You’ve got the debusen,” Nakata motioned to a group of lean men surrounding an extremely large and tanned Japanese guy. The large man just chortled at the attention. “There’s also the gaisen. They love men in uniforms.” Ranma looked to his left and saw several tall Japanese men in business suits as if they had just left work. They were all taking shots of sake and laughing happily. “And of course,” Nakata added, “You have your nyusen.” Several drag queens dressed in Japanese schoolgirl outfits had started performing on the small stage, besides the bar and were singing to Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time” remixed. Ranma hadn’t realized that this bar was so huge within the small Shinjuku-Nichome building. Within the enclave, these men created a new world burning red with the lust of their secret passions.
Ranma turned back to Nakata and smiled. “This is so amazing,” he said, “And this happens every single night.” Ranma took another shot of hot sake. He was starting to feel slightly tipsy. The red spotlights mixed with the blue spotlights in Ranma’s eyes and the scenery was starting to
“You’re definitely a safa,” Nakata replied and blushed. Ranma looked like a muscular Japanese surfer with his semi-long hair. He noticed that Nakata had suddenly looked down into his bottle of beer with his cheeks flushed a little bit red. He was pretty kawaii.
Nakata took another swig of his Asahi beer and toughened up again. “So,” he said, “What are you into?”
Ranma looked into Nakata Shiroi’s dark black eyes and smirked. He couldn’t believe he was going to say what he was about to say. “Gatchiri tampatsu no chibi,” he replied in perfect Japanese. It was close enough to a description.
“That describes me perfectly,” Nakata smirked. “You’re not saying that to impress me are you? You’re not really a gaisen.” Ranma had never felt any attraction to Western men so he shook his head.
“Y’know,” Nakata said deeply. “ You’re the first guy whose actually been nice to me. Most of these men are either looking for white guys to whisk them off to America or worse, married.”
“Well,” Ranma said, “Actually, I’m married.”
Nakata laughed. “It figures,” he sighed and took a large swig of his beer.
Ukyou got off the table and haphazardly starting throwing on her pants. “I think I better go,” she muttered to Akane. Akane was still in shock. Her brown eyes remained wide open as she nodded nervously to Ukyou. She was still clenching the blanket tightly for dear life. There was nothing else left to say.
“You know, Akane,” Ukyou told Akane as she quickly shoved her black sports bra back on. She took a quick glance and shook her head frustratingly. Akane knew exactly what she meant.
“I am and I don’t deserve you,” she looked humbly down at the wool threads of the blanket hoping she would attain Ukyou’s sympathy. She wouldn’t this time.
“That’s right,” Ukyou replied coldly, “you don’t deserve me. And I’m sick of putting myself down to the point of thinking that I’m only good enough for you.” She motioned to the dojo. “This is what you want and you got what you wanted. But this is not what I want.”
“I don’t want this!” Akane stammered. “You know deep in my heart I’ve only had feelings for you…”
“…and Ranma,” Ukyou completed Akane’s statement. “And that’s the point!” Ukyou shouted at Akane. “I can’t give you what you want if you don’t know what you want.” She paused and fought the tears that were close to rolling off her eyes. “What else can I do to prove that I love you and that you mean to me more than anyone in the world?”
“Here’s what I want,” Ukyou turned back to cowering girl in the blanket. “I’m a woman who likes women. I’m a lesbian.” She paused at every single word to give it exclusive meaning. “I-want-to-be-with-a-lesbian. And if you’re not a lesbian, then you are not what I want!”
“I want my freedom,” Akane said finally. Ukyou sighed. “I can’t give that to you,” she said quickly. “I…You’re going to figure this out on your own, Aka-chan. I can’t wait around for you anymore.”
“I never asked you to,” Akane said coldly.
“FINE!” Ukyou threw her arms up in the air. She had finished putting back on her black shirt. “Then mark my words, Miss Akane Tendo-Saotome, this is the last time you will ever see me!” She quickly threw on her green jacket and started to pack her okonomiyaki pack.
“Please don’t let it end like this,” Akane whispered pathetically. Ukyou took one quick look at Akane. Sympathy was starting to well up in her chestnut brown eyes. But this time, Ukyou threw her sympathy out of the dojo. Then she threw Akane’s shirt at her and it slammed into Akane’s face. Akane held her blanket tighter as she heard Ukyou slam the door behind her.
Nakata was telling Ranma how he found out he was gay. It was the game against Osaka four months ago. He was in the male locker room taking a shower after the game. He liked to wait until the rest of his teammates were done taking showers before he would take his own. Even though he was the star player, Nakata was pretty shy in meeting his own fans, especially the ditzy airheads from his fan clubs. Eventually they would all leave and he would be able to sneak out of the stadium through the back and join his fellow teammates at some bar in Shinjuku.
This time, he wasn’t alone. A guy from the Osaka team had also chosen to linger while his teammates were drinking their sorrows away. It took a while for Nakata to realize that the guy was quietly touching his member while making quick glances at Nakata. Without thinking, Nakata returned the favor and smiled at Mr. Osaka. Mr. Osaka quickly turned left and right and made sure that no one else was in the locker room. Then he walked up to Nakata in his wet nakedness, a soft smile on his face as he started to touch Nakata. After the sudden shock subsided, Nakata felt his own hands caressing Mr. Osaka’s lean body as well.
They proceeded to sneak into a small one-man shower stall where both of their heated muscular bodies would have to press together. With the violent sounds of water falling in the background, the two men rubbed each other to orgasm as they passionately kissed each other. The echoes of dripping water drowned out their quiet ecstsatic grunts. Ranma’s eyes opened wide as Nakata described everything in lurid detail.
“I found out that he got married to some girl in Nagasaki in the football magazine,” Nakata sighed, “he was using me as his last chance to ever be with a man.” Whether it was the sight of Nakata’s chiseled lips, his sensitive black eyes, relaying that story, Ranma was starting to feel a strange kind of heat in between his thighs. Something that he hadn’t felt for a long time.
Nakata looked back at Ranma. His piercing eyes filled with curiousity. “Now that I told you my tale,” he said eagerly. “It’s your turn. Tell me how you met this Ryoga- person you keep talking about.”
Ranma closed his eyes. He could feel the cool breeze touch his cheeks like a hard slap on the face by a warm hand. “It was a clear autumn day,” he started to tell Nakata as visions of a young man wearing a yellow-leopard bandana re-emerged through the mists of his memory.
It was a clear autumn day. My pop and I were always traveling. Something about making me a man.* Eventually, my mom decided to drag my dad back because she wanted me to grow up as a normal child. I started attending an all-boys school in Nerima called the Shinoichi Junior High School, one of the rowdiest guy schools in all of Tokyo. Every day seemed like a circus. But I somehow tamed my classmates with my impressive martial arts skills. Being a man means forcing people to respect you. And after my first and only fight, the guys respected me. School became less chaotic and I was pretty popular among the guys.
So, I’m walking home on a clear autumn day, watching the crisp leaves fall to the ground. Nothing can go wrong. And then I hear a crash behind me. I turn around and see three of my classmates pounding on another of my weaker classmates. They are pushing his face into the mud. “You stupid faggot!” one of the guys said. “This is the last time you’ll ever stare at me in the shower!” Kids can be so cruel.
“Leave him alone!” I growled at the other guys. They look up and realize that I could beat them all up to a bloody pulp.“Fine,” shrugged one of the bullies. “Don’t get into his business though. He is too weird.” They ran off across the street, pressing their feet into the crisp leaves.
“Are you okay?” I asked. I leaned over and reached out to the young boy. He was lying face down in the mud. He was ashamed that he couldn’t fight back. Eventually, he grabbed my hand and pulled himself up. And into my arms. After the first moment of shock, I looked into his eyes. Hibiki Ryoga. His soft black eyes carried a sense of mystery within them. And I was drawn to those eyes. And his smile.
“Thanks,” he muttered and turned away.
I continued to walk down the street towards my home. As I continued my journey, I heard a crunching of leaves behind me. I turned around and there he was. “Why are you following me?” I asked him.
“I don’t know how to find my way home,” he shrugged, “maybe you can help me.” I thought it was stupid at first but then I realized that he had a horrible sense of direction. Ryoga handed me a worn-out map. A shiny star stood in the middle of this map of Tokyo. It was two blocks from where we were standing. Ryoga started to turn around and head off in the wrong direction. Well, I did rescue him. I grabbed his arm and he followed me to his house, which turned out to be his mansion. Ryoga is rich.
“Ryoga!” his mother called. She was very beautiful; especially with those mysterious black eyes that Ryoga inherited. He wrapped his arms around her. “Thank you for bringing back my son,” she told me. I felt good about myself for the first time in my life.
“Will you come in for some tea?” she asked me. “It is very cold outside.” I nodded and she took my little hand as I entered her towering home. We passed through several room and finally reached Ryoga’s kitchen with its wooden cupboard, modern-day refrigerator and ivory table. Mrs. Hibiki placed a plate of rice cookies on the table and poured me a cup of tea. I munched on the cookies, feeling the crunchiness of the white Norbiko rice tinged with sugar and honey.
“How long has he been missing?” I asked.
“About three or four days,” she replied as she wiped her son’s dirty face with a tissue paper. “Sometimes, he would be gone for weeks at a time. He has terrible amnesia but he finds his way home. Ryoga looked down on the ground feeling embarrassed. Ryoga’s complexion was slightly tanned from all of his travels but as the mud started to come off, I could see the face of an attractive young man. He looked at me shyly and then walked outside. I continued to stuff my face with Mrs. Hibiki’s delicious rice cookies.
“I know you live close by because I see you walk home from school,” Mrs. Hibiki said quietly. “I leave for work early in the morning before Ryoga has to go to school. I would appreciate it if you could be Ryoga’s escort from school and back. I will pay you 10 yen every day to compensate. I just want to make sure that he is taken care of, if that is okay.” Money was an enticing enough offer.
outside to Ryoga's backyard which was half the length of his house. His mother
planted many different kinds of flowers- chrysanthemums, azaleas, cherry blossoms,
. And there was Ryoga, lean and cute, frustratingly hitting a punching bag
in the middle of the lawn.
“I want to be a strong martial artist someday,” Ryoga told me. “I’m sick of bullies beating me up. Someday, I’ll be able to beat them up.” He punched the air with a sense of sadness.
I looked at Ryoga. "Actually," I told him, "My dad is the legendary martial artist Genma Saotome of Anything-Goes Martial Arts." Ryoga gasped. He knew my dad through all of the martial artist magazines. "You can be my training partner if you want to." Ryoga faintly smiled and nodded.
I would take Ryoga to school and walk him home. First, it shocked the teachers that Ryoga was actually in class and on-time every day. Then we would walk back to his house, do our homework and then practice our katas. Soon, the money that Mrs. Hibiki offered and the cookies that she would bake for us was not my main reason for seeing him. There was something else about him that drew me to Ryoga. The innate sadness that surrounds him. When I looked into his eyes, I felt all his melancholoy and loneliness. And yet, there was something in there that made me want to know him better. That’s Ryoga for you. He draws you into his mystery. He never talked about his father, who is supposedly some wealthy merchant who left for America.
As we got older, guys started to talk about us. Why were we so close to each other? They called me Ryoga’s sempai. Of course, Ryoga didn’t turn down any of those rumors. I had a feeling that he liked the attention. I had issues with the taunting. I have never had sex with Ryoga…or any man. How could I be gay? Kids can be so cruel.
I mentally decided that I needed to distance myself from Ryoga as much as possible. It was hard to do when I walked him home and he was always around me. Ryoga and I were thirteen. He was starting to develop. His skinny arms became tight little biceps. His ribbed chest became bulging pectorals and a tight waist almost overnight. His face became more chiseled and angled and his fanged smile almost made him look like a Japanese celebrity. His clothes fit him a lot more and tighter around his lean body. I used to look at myself and realize that I too was developing into them an I was going to become. Nakata smiled and looked Ranma over. Ranma brushed him off and looked towards the stars.
We still wrestled like little kids but our strengths grew with our friendship. I could definitely feel the force of his muscles in his arms and in mine as our kicks and punches became fiercer. It was a dance of a love unmentioned. And at the end of the match, Ryoga would quickly jump into my arms and press himself on me as tight as possible. I tried to hide the almost immediate hardness I felt when I saw him by tightening my thighs around his waist. My erections freaked me out. Was I falling for him? I couldn’t…it would kill my father…and then me too. How could I be a true man if I was not in love with a woman, but with a man.
Unbeknownst to me, both Mrs. Hibiki and my father were also cautious of our ‘playfulness’ and they hatched a plan to separate us. Pop decided to take me out of school so I could focus on training and improving my manly martial arts skills in China. I was excited about my chances to travel out of Japan. I was overjoyed and excited. Ryoga had a different reaction.
I remember it was a warm summer day when I left for China. Ryoga came wearing a small yellow shirt that allowed my eyes to gaze upon his chiseled physique underneath his clothing. His eyes expressed sympathy and sudden loneliness. I told him that I had to leave Tokyo to become a man.
“I will miss you,” Ryoga looked down sadly. His adorable smile turned into a frown. “Cheer up,” I told him. “You’ll make new friends and you’ll go on with your life without me.”
Ryoga faintly smiled. “I don’t know if I can,” he said. “You’re the first person who has ever been so nice to me. You…you’re something Ranma Saotome…” He stumbled with his words and then pummeled me to the ground. But it didn’t feel like one of our regular sparring matches. Ryoga’s hands seemed much more furious in holding onto me rather than letting me go. We both fell into the crisp autumn leaves. Ryoga was on top of me. His face was so close to mine that I could feel his warm breath. His face was so close to mine that I could feel his warm breath. His piercing eyes loomed over me like a hawk.
And then he kissed me. Just lightly on the lips. How was I supposed to know that I’m not supposed to do something like that? He raised his head back with a small smile and his fangs were glistening. Then on instinct, I knew that it was wrong. I quickly shoved Ryoga off me and ran home.
Nakata’s eyes had perked up with the thought of another guy kissing Ranma. Ranma decided not to tell the rest of the story to Nakata. It was too painful for him to tell that part of the story. He would not tell the rest of the story to Nakata. It was too painful for him to tell that part of the story. He would not tell Nakata about how Ryoga followed him to Chin, how Ryoga discovered Ranma’s other fiancés, how his fierce love for Ranma turned to fierce jealousy and pure rage. He would never tell Nakata how he broke Ryoga’s heart by marrying his wife Akane Tendo. Instead, he pined for the equally attractive Nakata’s sympathy.
“So, he did kiss you?” Nakata asked, trying to hold back his own eagerness. Ranma nodded. “How?” Nakata saw that his chance had opened up and he was going to take the risk. Ranma looked into Nakata’s yearning eyes. He held Nakata really close. He could sense Nakata’s warm breath on his cheek. He looked up at Nakata and closed his eyes.
“Like this.” They touched lips. Just as Ryoga had touched his lips some time ago. But Nakata didn’t stop. His hand was behind Ranma’s head, pushing his head closer to him. Ranma felt his hand drawing behind Nakata’s oft black hair. It was so soft. He felt around Nakata’s prickly stubble on his face. Their lips continued to touch each other. Ranma’s heart pounded faster than it ever had before. Ranma searched deep intoh his psyche. One side wanted him to pull out, flashing red lights and screaming “No! No! This is all wrong!” But the other side liked this control. This desperate sense of control, as if he was going to evaporate if Nakata let him go. This time, he wouldn’t fight back. And this time, it wasn’t so bad. Nakata was very experienced and the kiss was…nice.
Eventually, Nakata drew back and held Ranma tightly. “I have an apartment two blocks from here,” he told Ranma quietly. “If you would like to spend the night…” Ranma pulled back. “I…I…can’t,” he looked up at Nakata. “I have a wife and we’re leaving for San Francisco tomorrow.”
Nakata frowned. “Why San Francisco?”
“My sister is getting married,” he replied quickly. “She lives in the United States.” Nakata nodded. “Since you’re in San Francisco,” he said, “make sure you stop in this gay district. I would love to move to America someday.”
“What’s so good about America?” Ranma shrugged. “It’s just another country.”
Nakata looked up at the stars. “Because it’s so free,” he said. “You can be whoever you want and love whoever you want in America. It’s such a great thought. I’ve been watching this American show called Queer As Folk from some friends. It was amazing. There was a gay paradise, this gay mecca where men who love each other live blissful normal lives. They no longer have to hide in the neon shadows that we do. The biggest mecca is San Francisco in the place they call Casitiro.” Nakata’s Japanese accent was really cute.
“Well,” Ranma laughed. “I’ll keep an eye out for this gay mecca that you speak of and pay pilgrimage to it.”
Nakata turned back to Ranma with a sense of franticness. “When you come back to tell your tales,” he said. “You know where to find me.” He wrote his phone number down on a sheet of paper and handed it to Ranma. He gave Ranma a swift peck on the cheek and then walked back into the neon mist.
After a long bullet train ride back home to Nerima in the middle of the night, Ranma fumbled with the key to his house and walked into the dojo. He crept into his bedroom. Alert, Ranma’s wife woke up. Akane was clutching a sharp dagger. The blade was shining.
Ranma shrugged wearily. “I won’t fight you,” he said. “I just want to go to sleep if that is okay.” He curled up into a ball underneath thefuton and fell asleep. Akane stayed up all night looking up at the pure white ceiling with the lonely sound of the ticking alarm clock to comfort her.
Dr. Mark Leland of Murdoch University in Australia has published a great anthropological paper that discusses queer Japanese culture at http://wwwsshe.murdoch.edu.au/intersections/issue3/mclelland2.html. The information may be outdated but it was useful for me in working on my research for this section of the story.
In the original Ranma ½, Ranma’s father Genma Saotome signs a contract with his wife Nodoka Saotome that he will train his son to become a man, otherwise they will both commit suicide. Ranma was very young when he signed this contract unwarily. This leads to hilarity as Ranma tries to cover up his aquatranssexual curse in the series from his mother, who always has a sword with her.
This chapter is dedicated to RRYaoi, a great yaoi archive whose stories about Ryoga and Ranma’s secret relationships motivated the creation of this novel.