“Come on, man! I told you, I’ve been with Akane all day!”
“Stop lying, Ranma. I saw you going into Ucchan’s earlier. I didn’t see Akane, then!”
Suteko finally pushed her way to the front of the crowd. There she saw the boy from the dojo this morning. He was busy dodging another boy’s punches. She analyzed their techniques. Ranma was incredibly fast. He was out of the way of the other boy’s moves almost before they were made. As she watched, she found herself becoming proud of this boy who was her half-brother. He was good. Much faster than she herself could hope to be. The other guy never laid a finger on him.
The other guy wasn’t bad, though. The damage he was doing to the surrounding walls and buildings was beyond belief. It was like he was a wrecking ball. Just how strong was this guy? She didn’t ever want to be on the receiving end of one of those punches. As she studied them, she noticed that they were an interesting contrast. Her brother, definitely a good looking specimen, was sleek. He moved like an otter, in and out of the other boy’s wake. His opponent on the other hand was more muscular than Ranma. She could see his arms were solid. Not overdeveloped like the builders at home. He was slower than Ranma but he still had talent.
“Ryouga, stop!” This came from a girl’s voice. Suteko looked over toward the girls and saw another of the people from the dojo this morning. This was the girl who had joined Ranma in looking for her. She was a pretty girl with a bob haircut. She couldn’t quite understand Ukyo’s description of the girl, Akane, as the uncute fiancée. Must be jealousy, what with Akane having first claim on Ranma.
The other boy, Ryouga, looked up when he heard his name. Seeing Akane he lost his focus long enough for Ranma to land a solid punch. He stood still for a moment and then fell gracelessly to the ground. Akane ran over to him and lifted his head up onto her lap. “Are you okay, Ryouga?”
“How interesting!” thought Suteko. “Who was this Ryouga?”
“Ranma, you didn’t need to hit him so hard!”
“Come on Akane. This is Ryouga. You know he won’t stop and listen.” “Like usual,” he said to himself. Ranma stood over the downed boy. “He accused me of lying about who I was with this morning.”
“Well, you do, you know!”
”Not this time, Akane. Remember? I was with you all morning.”
“Jerk!” Akane stood up quickly, dropping Ryouga’s head to the pavement. “Why do you always have to pick on him. You know your a better fighter than him. Why can’t you avoid these fights? Better yet tell me what your fighting about!!!”
“Tomboy!” Ranma shouted back.
It sounded to Suteko like this was the beginning of an often repeated argument. Time to step in. She pushed past the last of the onlookers and stepped into the open. Crossing her arms loosely in front of her she spoke up, loud enough to be heard over the argument. “Hello, Ranma.”
Ranma and Akane stopped fighting for a moment to look over at the girl interrupting their fight. Their first reaction was surprise, as each jaw dropped. Their next was to turn to stand side by side and tense up, like they were preparing to fight. From the ground, Ryouga shook his head to clear it. Once it cleared, he had a clear view of the strange girl. He looked toward Ranma, then at the stranger and back again. He blinked his eyes and tried shaking his head. Nope, she was still there and so was Ranma.
Suteko just smiled. It was obvious that Ranma and Akane thought that she would challenge him right here. She uncrossed her arms and held out a hand to Akane. “Hi, you must be Akane Tendo.”
Akane slowly put out her hand to take the girl’s. “Yes....”
“Nice to meet you. I have heard some interesting things about you.” Suteko smiled and turned to Ranma, “Well, little brother, been looking for me very long?”
Ranma and Akane looked at Suteko for a moment and then at each other. Confusion was clear on their faces. Ryouga took this time to get up and stand on Akane’s other side. “What’s going on here?”
Suteko turned from her brother to Ryouga. “Well, hello there. Ryouga, was it?” He nodded. “Glad to meet you, my name’s Suteko.”
Suteko was laughing inwardly at the looks of confusion. The three teenagers in front of her had no idea what to make of her. Ranma and Akane had seen her challenge Genma just a few hours before and Ryouga had no idea what was going on. It was hysterical. She started to chuckle.
Akane went from confused to a little annoyed within moments. She elbowed Ranma, trying to get a response out of him. He just gave her a quick look and turned his attention back to the girl calling him “little brother”. Akane gave him a dirty look and decided to find out what was going on.
“Are you here to challenge Ranma, instead?” Akane bristled.
Akane deflated a little at the answer. “What do you want, then?”
Suteko smiled, “Just to meet my little brother. I’ve never had one and it should be interesting.”
Ramna overcame the shock of her comment and blurted out. “Is this Atsuko your mom?”
“Yep.” Suteko answered, thinking, “This kid is a little slow.”
“And you claim that mister Satome is your dad?” Asked Akane.
“Yep.” Make that two slow ones. Suteko turned to Ryouga. “Your next, cutie. Got a question?”
Ryouga stood baffled by the dialogue around him. He slowly worked through the little information that he had. The girl in front of him looked like Ranma. Ranma was in guy form. Therefore the girl wasn’t Ranma. OK, got that. Akane asked if she was here to challenge Ranma. Girl answered no. No problem there. Girl hasn’t challenged Akane. Huh. Girl said something about her little brother. Ranma doesn’t have a big sister. “What’s going on here?” Ryouga asked the girl.
Suteko rolled her eyes. Wasn’t this guy paying attention. “Hello, Ryouga. My name is Suteko Saotome.”
It took a moment, then it hit Ryouga. “Did you say, Saotome?”
“You got it.” She smiled smugly. At the moment the resemblance between the two was clear. She looked just like Ranma.
Ryouga turned to Ranma, “Why didn’t you tell me you had a sister?” He was starting to heat up again. It was just one more thing to confuse him and Ryouga hated being confused.
“Hey, I didn’t know.” Ranma answered absently. “Your not going to challenge me?” he asked Suteko. He didn’t want to fight this girl, he wanted to talk with her. She was the first girl in a long time who wouldn’t be interested in him as a fiancé.
“Why would I do that? You didn’t do anything to my mother or me.” Suteko smiled. Boy, he must have been challenged a lot by his response. “I just wanted to meet my ‘little bro’, be nice having some family here.” She smiled, looking as innocent as she could. “More than you know,” she thought.
The four stood in silence for a few minutes as the crowd disbursed. Each of the young people had different things going through their minds. Both Ranma and Suteko were thinking about having a sibling, Ryouga was trying to work out how Ranma had pulled this over on him and Akane was just realizing something that Suteko had said. “She’s heard a lot about me? From who? She hasn’t been in town that long, has she?” Akane spoke up to break the silence. “What you hear about Me?”
Suteko just smiled for a moment. As she saw Akane start to fume she answered. “I heard that you were one of my brother’s fiancees. Set a date yet?” Suteko wasn’t ready for the response to her question.
“NO!!” Ranma, Ryouga and Akane shouted simultaneously.
“I am not going to marry....” Akane started.
“Who’d want to marry a tomboy like...” Ranma added.
“He doesn’t deserve her!” shouted Ryouga.
“Whoa, there, one at a time.” This was interesting. Did Ranma not like Akane or Akane, Ranma. And what did Ryouga mean. “What’s going on here?”
The three all started at once to explain but Suteko raised a hand to stop them. “I can see that this is going to take a while.” She turned to Ranma, “Why don’t you come with me to pick up my stuff and tell me your story. I really like to get to know you better.” Ranma looked over to Akane. She seemed nervous but she just shrugged. Suteko noticed the exchange. “It’s OK, guys. Ryouga here can walk Akane home and I’ll get her side of the story later.” At the still dubious expressions she added, “I promise I don’t want to harm Ranma. I just want to get to know him better. Um, tell you what, why don’t you met us at this little diner I just ate at.” She looked up at the sky, trying to remember the name. “Ucchan’s. That’s the place. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding it as the owner tells me she’s also Ranma’s Fiancee.”
Ranma placed a hand behind his head and chuckled. Akane just looked a bit more steamed. “Hot headed one there,” Suteko thought. “Better get Ranma out of here so we can talk.” Suteko placed a hand on Ranma’s arm. “Come on. Do you know a fast way to the airport. I left my bag there.” She pulled him away from the other two before they could get started again.
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