Ranko , Part 12:
"She doesn't hide her feelings"


Hibiki Ryouga is flying backwards over the fence of Fuurinkan High's sports ground. He falls towards the water fountain, but is able to land on his feet on it. Close after him Ranko - still disguised as a boy - jumps over the fence. She descends upon the water fountain with her leg outstretched and smashes it. A giant stream of water fountains up from the wreckage. Ryouga who has jumped away to avoid Ranko's kick manages to evade the water, but Ranko is caught full in the face and is carried upwards.

Carefully Ryouga circles the spouting fountain. But on the other side he does not find his opponent. Instead he finds the stranger he saw yesterday, claiming to be Saotome Ranma. The boy is on his knees, his mouth is open and the eyes bugging out. He seems to have trouble breathing. He claws at his shirt, ripping it open. Under it is a curious bandage around his chest. After a few frantic attempts the boy finally manages to rip it open. He takes deep, gasping, relieved breaths.

Ranma: [mutters] Damn! Almost broke my ribs, that thing.

Realization dawns on Ryouga.

Ryouga: You... you're really Ranma?

Ranma: I told you so.

For some reason this makes Ryouga very mad and he attacks in indescribable fury. Ranma has a hard time just blocking and dodging, not to speak of landing any blows himself. A hard kick to his shoulder sends him flying backwards. He somersaults and lands on his feet. Ranma sees Ryouga taking of more bandanas - he is holding four of them in his hands. He begins twirling them faster and faster.

Ryouga: What cruel irony that you should be cursed to take this form, almost the same as your own. [roars] As if my fate was not cruel enough!

With a flick of his wrist he sends the rotating bandanas flying towards Ranma. The pieces of cloth are spinning so fast that they possess a razor-sharp edge. Just in that moment Akane appears carrying a kettle of hot water. One of the whizzing cloth shuriken cuts open the sleeve of her blouse, luckily not injuring her. She is so distracted by it that she momentarily forgets to look where she steps and trips over a tree root. The Kettle goes flying and the water splashes all over Ranma who is running towards the fallen Akane. Ranko does not pay any attention to her transformation and kneels down next to Akane, helping her up.

Ranko: Akane! Are you all right? What about your arm?

Akane: [out of breath] Yes. Yes, I just stumbled. My arm is okay.

Ryouga takes off his cloth belt and begins to twirl it like his bandanas. He advances toward Ranko and Akane.

Ryouga: Run away again, will you?

Ranko whips around with a look of absolute fury on her face. She roars at Ryouga.

Ranko: Ryouga you damn madman!! Don't you have a single shred of honour in you? You could have hurt Akane!

Ryouga freezes, completely astonished. This is partly because of the force of Ranko's explosion, but mostly because her ripped shirt gives him a good view of her breasts.

Ryouga: Ra... Ranma??

Ranko: What is it?!

Ryouga lets go of his belt in shock. It is shooting straight up into the sky. Ryouga's shaking finger points at Ranko's chest.

Ryouga: You... your...

Ranko: My what?

Akane is carefully standing up.

Akane: I think he has just noticed that you are really a girl.

Ranko looks down herself and notices the sight she offers. Blushing she closes her shirt by the remaining buttons.

Ryouga: All this time... you were a girl?

Ranko: What are you going to make of it?

Ryouga: I-I can't fight you like that.

Ranko: You didn't have any reservations a moment ago.

Ryouga: But... you're a girl. I can't hit a girl.

Ranko: [accusingly] Akane is a girl, too. You didn't seem to care a lot whether she was injured during our fight. [turns] Come, Akane, let's leave this moron.

She takes Akane's arm, supporting the limping girl as they make their way leaving the dumbfounded Ryouga standing where he is. Suddenly a whizzing sound catches Ranko's attention. She looks up and sees the belt returning to earth, headed right for them. Just in time she manages to swing Akane out of the way - but not completely in time. The rotating cloth blade descents mere centimeters behind Akane's back. Her body is not hurt by it but...

Akane's hair is cut off.

The other students arrive just in time to witness the catastrophe and gasp in shock. Silently the sheared hairpiece settles to the ground at Akane's feet. Akane just stands and stares. Ranko is standing right in front of her, but Akane's gaze seems to go right through her. A classmate calls out to her.

Girl: A... Akane?

Ranko waves her hand before Akane's eyes, but elicits no response.

Ranko: She's in shock.

Girl: What do you expect?! Seen in public with such a haircut - Any girl would be lucky not to die of shame.

Girl2: You should know that. Who are you anyway? Didn't I see you here at school once?

Ranko: What does that matter? Akane is what's important.

Ryouga: Well, she's not injured.

Ranko: She wasn't hurt, but her hair went away! [turns to Akane] Akane, I'm sorry. This was my fight and you were hurt. If it is any consolation, you can hit me.

Ryouga: That goes for me, too. Don't hold back.

~*~

As Akane silently shuffles away, Ranko and Ryouga double over and fall first to their knees and then to the ground, felled by two steam-hammer punches.

Ryouga: Urrr... She doesn't hide her feelings, does she?

-- End of part 12.


Part 13: "You're not cute"


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