Ranko , Part 5:
"He is no man"


Kunou Tatewaki and Saotome Ranko are locked in combat in the swimming pool behind Fuurinkan High. Ranko is flailing around with her arms while Kunou grips her from behind.

Kunou: Ranma! You can't escape me.

Ranko: Lemme go!

Suddenly Ranko's eyes widen as Kunou accidentally grasps one of her breasts with his gripping hands. Kunou freezes. With her teeth clenched in an angry snarl Ranko reaches up, grabs Kunou's hair and swings him out of the water by his head.

Ranko: Hentai!

As Kunou's body impacts with solid ground Ranko is carried out after him by the momentum of her throw. She uses the momentum to somersault over Kunou and whirls away from the school grounds and the eyes of the onlooking pupils that crowd the windows of the school building.

~*~

Inside the building Akane is looking out on the scene together with other pupils of her year.

Girl: What, what..?

Boy: Ranma's body... it looked smaller just now, didn't it?

Boy 2: Must have been an illusion.

Akane is leaving the others to their speculations and silently slips down the corridor to the exit.

~*~

Kunou is lying very still by the edge of the pool. Then he cocks his head.

Kunou: That... was a girl. Yes. No mistaking it. That means...

Reaching the only conclusion his brain allows, he sits up and shouts.

Kunou: Saotome Ranma! You have walked out on our battle, but you will not escape!

~*~

The sky has long cleared since Ranma's first battle with Kunou before school. Only a few clouds are still to be seen. Behind the school grounds in the trees someone can be heard breathing hard.

Ranko is sitting in a tree top wringing the water out of her trousers grumbling.

Ranko: What a hentai! Got a good feel of me, didn't he? [snarls] Well, I guess now he knows about me. Whatta way to start school.

A voice snaps her from her thoughts. It is Akane.

Akane: Hey, Ranko.

Ranko: Akane... what?

Akane: [hands behind her back] Geez, that was pretty dumb, jumping into that pool like that.

Ranko: Ah, shut up. How was I to know?

Akane: Well, in that case I can take this with me, shall I?

She is holding up a bucket of water. Ranko immediately amends her manners.

Ranko: No! I'm sorry, Akane. I'm sorry!

Akane "hmph"s but approaches with the bucket. Before Ranko can get down to take it, though, they hear squashing noises. Kunou nears.

Kunou: Saotome Ranma! Show yourself you coward!

Turning towards the older boy, Akane shouts.

Akane: Catch!

She throws the bucket to Ranko and goes to face Kunou oblivious of the fact that her throw is missing Ranko by far. Ranko is barely able to catch it.

Akane resolutely plants her feet standing in Kunou's way. She assumes a basic fighting stance.

Akane: Kunou-sempai... now you get your fight.

Kunou: [serious as always, but obviously very happy] Akane... I never dreamt that one day you would challenge me. Ah, so be it. I will allow you to go out with me if you win. And win you shall.

Akane: Who wants to go out with you? [thinks] Ranko, change back into a boy while I buy you some time.

But Ranko has her own problems. To catch Akane's bucket she had to stretch out wide; and now she hangs in the tree, only supported by her feet clamped abound a branch. Her leg muscles tremble with the effort of holding her straight with the weight of the bucket in her outstretched arms.

Ranko: Nrrrgh! So what am I supposed to do?

Kunou begins his attack. He raises the sword high above his head and brings it down on Akane with force and a scream. Honouring the fight, he will not just let himself lose, though he certainly wants to. Akane catches his blade between her palms. She lets herself fall backwards, pulling Kunou with her by his sword. When he is almost over her, she lashes out with a foot and kicks him flying.

Akane: Hyaa!

Kunou: Gyeeeh!

Ranko has at last pulled herself and the bucket back onto the branch again.

Ranko: Finally!

Unfortunately, Kunou chooses exactly that moment to come crashing into the tree. Flying upside down, his head impacts with the bucket, smashing it open. The water runs out but Kunou's head remains stuck. Ranko is now effectively holding an upside down Kunou by a handle on his head. His eyes swivel left and right and he beholds Ranko.

Kunou: Eh? You're that girl...

Ranko: Uh...

Akane: You are still a girl?!

Ranko: What'd you expect?

Kunou: So. Did you see where the boy with the pigtail went?

Ranko: [dumbfounded] Uh-uh! [shakes her head]

Kunou: That coward is running from our fight! No doubt he feared my prowess. Ah, he is no man! No man at all. Instead he runs like a fearful woman.

Ranko has grown increasingly angry during Kunou's rant. Now she simply lets go of the bucket handle and Kunou plummets to the ground. He sits up again while Ranko - still without trousers - jumps down after him.

Kunou: That hurt, you know?

Ranko: It was supposed to, jerk. I can take you any time! Come on!

Kunou: Heh. Amusing. Very well, if you should win I will allow you to go out with me.

He takes his sword back from Akane, who has been holding it all the time, and slashes at Ranko. Ranko easily dodges by jumping over the arc of the sword.

Ranko: And who...

Now well within his defense, she grabs his sword with the toes of her right foot and plants the left squarely into Kunou's face while finishing her sentence.

Ranko: ...wants to go out with you?

Kunou is going down. He looses his grip on the sword and begins to fall backwards. While he falls he cannot help but admire the girl who just beat him.

Kunou: [thinks] She... is skilled. As good as Akane. No! Even better!

Ranko makes a few fancy twirls with the Bokken while still in mid-air and then lands before him. She is grinning down at the beaten Kunou.

Ranko: You see, Kunou? It doesn't take a man to beat you! And, y'know what? Saotome Ranma is even better'n me!

Kunou: [thinks] Who on earth...?

Ranko drops the sword and confidently strides away.

Ranko: Let's go home, Akane.

Akane: You'd better get your trousers out of that tree. School isn't over yet!

~*~

Night envelopes Nerima and all the windows are lit. At the Tendou Dojo, Ranma and his father are talking in the practice hall while standing on their heads.

Genma: So, she really looked out for you at school today?

Ranma: [defensively] I didn't ask her to. [more thoughtfully] You're right, though...

~*~

Akane's window, too, is lighted. Inside, Nabiki is talking to her.

Nabiki: I really don't understand you. If she's acting so boyish as you say, then what's your problem with everyone knowing that you're engaged?

Akane: [not looking up from her homework] That's easy for you to say. [she turns to face Nabiki] She changed back into a girl right before everyone's eyes! It's only a matter of time until they realize what's going on.

Ranma is standing before her door, about to knock, when he hears Akane.

Akane: Do you think I want everyone to believe I'm a pervert, too?

With that Ranma turns away again. He slides down the banisters of the stairs, thinking.

Ranma: [thinks] Hmph! If that's how she sees me. And I wanted to thank her.

~*~

The next day at school, Kunou is astonished.

Kunou: Tendou Nabiki, can it be true? You know that girl?

Nabiki: Sure I know her. The girl with the pigtail and the Chinese clothes, right?

Kunou rushes to his place and scribbles onto a scroll.

Kunou: [thinks] If she thinks she can defeat Kunou Tatewaki and simply walk away, she thinks wrongly!

He folds the completed scroll and puts the recipients name on it. It says "To the Tree-borne Bucket Girl"

Kunou: Here, Nabiki. Will you deliver it for me?

~*~

Ranma is sitting on the terrace before the Dojo and reads the letter again.

Ranma: And you're sure this is for me?

Nabiki: Well, to your girl side. I don't think he has realized that you are the same person.

Akane joins them and Ranma reads the letter aloud.

Ranma: "On Sunday in the tenth hour, meet me in the second field of Fuurinkan High."

Akane: Sounds like a challenge to a duel.

Nabiki: Kunou-chan so hates to lose.

Akane: Vengeful, huh?

Ranma crumples the paper annoyedly.

~*~

It is Sunday and the wind howls around Fuurinkan High. The big clock of the school building is showing ten o'clock. Ranko is standing in the field apprehensively waiting for Kunou to turn up. He does so and approaches her directly.

Kunou: So, you have come, Tree-borne Bucket Girl.

Ranko: [annoyed] You don't learn too quick, do ya? So, where'd you hide your sword?

Kunou: Heh. I have no need of a sword.

Ranko: Pretty confident, huh?

There is a strange gleam in Kunou's eyes.

Kunou: Confident enough to give you... this!!

With that he throws something at Ranko in a blur of speed. Without thinking Ranko instinctively catches it. Petals fall and Ranko is surprised to see that in her hand... she holds a bouquet of flowers.

Kunou: I love you!

He blushes and quickly turns to leave. Thus he does not see Ranko's knees give way under her as she plops to the ground astonished.

-- End of part 5.


Part 6: "We are one"


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