Ranko , Part 9:
"Is she... crying?"


In Dr. Toufuu's private clinic Ranma and Akane are standing in the hall.

Ranma: Kasumi?

Akane: Well, it's true. Toufuu-sensei really likes her. I've seen the way he looks at her.

Akane lets her head hang down. Ranma carefully reaches out for her shoulder. Just in that moment Dr. Toufuu sticks his head out into the hall.

Dr. Toufuu: Ranma, Akane? What are you doing out here?

Ranma: Uh, nothing! [looks at Akane] right?

Akane does not answer. Dr. Toufuu diplomatically decides not to ask any further.

Dr. Toufuu: Well, I've got the balm now. Why don't you come back into the examination room?

~*~

Back in the room Ranma settles on the stool, while Akane takes place on the stretcher, drinking some tea that Dr. Toufuu offered to her. She tries not to look as miserable as she feels.

Akane: [thinks] I should have left.

Dr. Toufuu: Right. Now let's see that wound.

Ranma takes off the bandage and reveals a giant bruise on his cheek. There's a curved red line going through it - the impression of the baseball's seam. The doctor takes a close look.

Dr. Toufuu: Hmm... This hematome... Akane hit the ball, right?

Akane gulps.

Ranma: Um, err, how did you...

Dr. Toufuu: Oh, with a bruise this big and an impression that deep, who else could it have been?

Ranma: [avoids to look at Akane] Well, she is a martial artist.

Akane: I didn't mean to hit it that hard!

Dr. Toufuu looks a little nonplussed.

Dr. Toufuu: You mean she did hit that ball? I was just joking because of your last visit.

Akane blushes deeply and shuffles her feet. Dr. Toufuu lays a friendly arm around her shoulder.

Dr. Toufuu: It doesn't matter, Akane. Ranma is right, it just shows you're a strong and healthy girl.

Ranma: [thinks] Seems to me he likes her all right... [smiles inwardly]

Dr. Toufuu leaves the slightly calmed down Akane and begins to treat Ranma. He disinfects the wound and begins to apply the balm, when suddenly the door shifts open. Kasumi is standing in the frame.

Kasumi: Good afternoon, doctor.

The doctor looks up from his patient and his glasses become opaque, fogging over in an instant. A silly smile spreads over his face and his hands begin to fidget. Unfortunately these hands are just gripping Ranma's head.

<KRRRAKK!>

Ranma: Uh!

Ranma's neck is bent at an almost 90 degree angle. Akane looks on, almost as shocked as Ranma is. Dr. Toufuu hasn't noticed anything and clumsily returns Kasumi's greeting.

Dr. Toufuu: H-hello, Kasumi.

Kasumi: Um, I thought I heard something just now... [bends her neck to look Ranma in the face] Are you all right, Ranma?

Dr. Toufuu: He is now. He's becoming a regular guest, eh, Ranma?

He is talking to Genma and patting his shoulder. The panda holds up a sign which of course eludes the doctor.

Genma: [signs] I'm not Ranma, I'm his father.

Ranma: Uh, Doctor?

Dr. Toufuu: W-well, Kasumi, what brings you here?

Kasumi: Oh, this. [holds up the book]

Ranma: Doctor?

Dr. Toufuu: A book about human pressure points! Just what I needed.

Kasumi: It's yours.

Dr. Toufuu: Really? Oh, thank you Kasumi, you shouldn't have...

Ranma: Doctor!!

Finally Dr. Toufuu notices Ranma's situation - after a fashion.

Dr. Toufuu: Oh, Ranma. There you are again. Have you injured yourself again so soon? I'll fix that.

<KKRREAKK>

Now Ranma's neck is bent in the other direction, but Dr. Toufuu seems satisfied.

Dr. Toufuu: There you go. [turns to the skeleton] Mr. Saotome could you fetch tea for Kasumi?

Genma: [behind him, signs] Over here!

Kasumi is giggling girlishly.

Kasumi: Oh, Dr. Toufuu is so funny sometimes.

Akane laughs with her, desperately hiding behind an obviously fake smile.

Akane: Ha ha ha. Well, enjoy the company, big sister, I'll meet you at home.

She leaves. Kasumi and Ranma look after her.

Kasumi: Strange. We could have walked home together. I just wanted to give Toufuu-sensei some cookies as a thank-you.

Ranma is silent. Behind him Dr. Toufuu has apparently forgotten his assistant.

Dr. Toufuu: How may I help you, sir?

Genma: [signs] Don't touch me.

~*~

As Ranma leaves the building still with a bent neck, he encounters various patients milling around before the clinic.

Patient: Hey, is Tendou Kasumi still in there?

Ranma: Uh, yeah. Why're you all out here?

Patient2: We wouldn't go near the doctor as long as Kasumi's there.

Patient1: Yeah, you'd be risking life and limb.

Ranma: You're telling me?

~*~

A while later Ranko wanders around the Dojo looking for Akane. Her neck is straight again, but she moves it only carefully. She meets Nabiki in the hall.

Nabiki: Akane? Last time I saw her was out back behind the practice hall. But be careful - she's not in her best mood.

Ranko: Thanks Nabiki!

Ranko follows the crashing sounds around the hall and carefully looks around the corner. Akane is kneeling in the middle of the lawn, surrounded by a lot of smashed bricks and other debris. Her shoulders seem a little slumped.

Ranko: [thinks] Is she... crying?

Akane stands up and wanders over to the garden wall with her head down. She leans with one arm against it.

Akane: [thinks] I shouldn't let it get to me this way...

She feels a hand softly touching he shoulder and whips around not wanting to be seen like this.

Akane: Oh. Ranko, Um... Is your neck better?

Ranko: Uh, yeah. Kasumi did something with pressure points. She said I shouldn't tense it for a few hours, though, or it would lock up again.

Akane twitches a little at Kasumi's name, but Ranko does not seem to notice.

Ranko: Well, are you up for a little sparring session?

Akane: [wondering] Yes...?

~*~

In the practice hall, both girls in their gi work up a sweat. Both kick, dodge, thrust and parry at a rapid pace.

Akane: At least, now you're swinging at me. Why -whoop- didn't you, last time?

Ranko: Umm... Well, I was a boy then. Boys shouldn't hit girls.

Akane: Huh?! Don't tell me you off all people believe that nonsense!

Ranko ponders this for a moment, never letting up the attack or defense patterns. Then she laughs.

Ranko: Heh, yes, you're right there. If anyone should know better, I should.

Akane: Why did you want to spar now, anyway?

Ranko: Well, I believe there's nothing better to take your mind of unpleasant matters, don't you think so? And Nabiki once told me that it relaxes you.

Akane: [sceptical] So you're doing this basically for me?

Ranko: Hey, just because I'm half a boy doesn't mean I'm insensitive. And just because our parents put us into this ludicrous situation with their engagement, doesn't mean I can't care about you.

For a moment the kicking and punching subsides and the two just look at each other. Then Ranko reaches out and pushes Akane's shoulder hard. Akane loses her balance and falls on her rear.

Ranko: [smirking] Is that so astonishing that you'd leave yourself wide open because of it?

She reaches out to help Akane up. Suddenly with a snake-fast blow Akane kicks out Ranko's legs from under her. Ranko lands on the ground sitting before her. Akane grins.

Akane: That was for taking advantage of my distraction.

She sits up on her knees before Ranko.

Akane: And this is for caring about me.

She leans forward, gently touches Ranko's cheek and plants a kiss on her brow.

<CRICK>

~*~

Genma in human form sits on a mat in his room and sews. Ranko enters the room and sits down with a book. The book is about akupressure - Ranko's neck is stiff and bent again.

Genma: Isn't your neck better, yet?

Ranko: It was, for a while.

-- End of part 9.


Part 10: "Where is Fuurinkan High?"


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