“OK, Akane,” Suteko smiled. All right, she could talk to him with the girl around. It wasn’t as if she was going to tell him any big family secret. She looked around, she still wasn’t quite sure were everything was in a city this size. “Um, which way is it to the airport? I left my pack there.”
Ryouga spoke up first, stepping away from the others. “We go this way.” As usual he was facing the opposite of the way they needed to go. Ranma snorted and grabbing his arm turned Ryouga around the right way.
“Wrong again, lost boy. The airport’s this way.” Ranma stepped away quickly as Ryouga took a quick swing at him. Akane snorted and started to say something when Suteko cut in.
“Let’s not start up again, boys. I need to get my stuff,” she looked around at the devastation around them. “Besides, this part of town looks like it can’t take much more damage.”
Ranma and Ryouga looked around in a bit of amazement. There wasn’t a wall anywhere within sight without a hole punched through it. “She’s right, guys.” Akane said to the two. She turned back to Suteko, “the best way would be to take a bus to the airport. We can pick one up a couple of blocks from here.” Akane proceeded ahead of the guys and Suteko fell in next to her. Akane’s natural friendliness was tempered a bit by her caution with this unknown, but she was trying to be polite. So she asked, “Suteko?”
“Are you here all by yourself?”
Suteko walked without speaking for a minute. Then she sighed. “I’ve been traveling alone for a year, now.”
Akane was amazed. Traveling all alone for a year. A girl, alone? Sure, Ryouga ends up traveling alone all the time, but he was a guy. Girls had dangers that guys didn’t have. Suteko was small and delicate, like Ranma in girl form. She must be tougher than she looked. “Must have been lonely.”
“At first it was an adventure, you know. No grownups around telling me what to do, but after a while I just wanted to find him and get it over with.” Suteko spoke to Akane without looking at her. Her attention focused on where they were going; her mind only half on talking with the girl next to her. Memories of the past year and the troubles of traveling alone in a part of the world that considered girls too weak to take care of themselves had been a real trial. In America, Suteko had had enough trouble with guys wanting to take care of the tiny girl. They always seemed to think that if they acted macho she’d fall all over them. But after a while, they got the message. Suteko had been training with her staff since she was old enough to walk.
“Do you hate him?” Akane asked. She could understand if Suteko did. To have been a child grow up knowing her father would never be there had to be terrible.
Suteko shot a look over at Akane. “Hate him?” She thought a moment. “Not really.”
She didn’t hate Pop? “Wait a minute.” Ranma pushed up next to Suteko’s other side. “You challenged the old man and you don’t hate him. I’d think after chasing us around for so long you’d want to waste the old man.”
Suteko just gave Ranma a cold look. “I don’t hate anyone. Genma had his reasons for dumping my mother, I’m sure. Anger and hatred have no place in true revenge.”
“What!” Ranma was shocked. Anger had nothing to do with revenge?! “Try telling that to Ryouga here.” He pointed his thumb over his shoulder at the other boy. Ryouga just glared at him. “He always seems to mad about something.”
Suteko stopped walking for a moment. She looked Ranma straight in the eye and explained her clan’s view on revenge. “Little brother, the Fukushuu clan has made a fine art out of revenge. All members are taught at a young age that anger and hatred can cause a warrior to lose focus and take the revenge beyond that which is truly due.” She turned toward the lost boy and spoke directly to Ryouga. “Anger can make a warrior do things he would regret upon later reflection. In modern times, revenge is best if the focus of the act is left alive to suffer with the knowledge that they were bested. To remember that what happened to them was true justice.” She then took Akane’s arm and walked on.
Akane took a quick look at Suteko’s face, she was surprised. Once Suteko was facing away from the boys, she broke out into a big grin. Suteko shot a quick glance over at Akane, her eyes dancing with merriment. She leaned over to whisper in Akane’s ear. “That little speech was one I heard from great uncle Tanto every first day for sixteen years. Pompous wasn’t it?”
Akane smiled and repressed a giggle. Suteko was pulling her brother’s leg. Ranma looked shocked at the tone and speech. The girl had sounded just like an elder priest. “You’re certainly confusing Ranma. He wasn’t expecting that at all.”
“Well, never give them what they’re expecting. That’s my motto.” With in moments they came to the bus stop. Suteko looked at her watch. It was just after one in the afternoon. “When do the buses usually run, Akane?”
“There should be one along any minute, now.”
Ranma watched Akane and his sister talking quietly. They were giggling over something. Sheesh, even his sister was girly. After traveling alone for a year you’d think she would be more adult. Just as this thought came into his head the two looked over at him.
“So, Ranma, Akane tells me you train with Genma everyday.” Suteko asked with a glint in her eye.
“Yahhh...every morning before school. Why?”
Suteko smiled. “Got any pointers?” Ranma stood there shocked. Could she be asking for help in defeating Pop in an honor battle. Suteko took pity on him after a moment. “Just kidding, Ranma. I wouldn’t ask for help in an honor battle. I was raised right.” Ranma let out his breath in a whoosh. “Besides, I think I can take care of myself.” That came out a tad smug. She sounded just like Ranma.
After a few minutes the bus arrived. The teenagers piled aboard and headed for some open seats. Akane and Ranma sat together, leaving Ryouga to sit with Suteko. Suteko took the window seat and sat staring out the window. She was amazed at just how big Tokyo and the surrounding area was. This much land covered lots of towns back in New England. Why the eighty miles of the city proper would have included Boston, Lowell, Nashua NH and all the way down to the Cape back home. How did anyone get from place to place here? She turned back to face her brother. “So, what was it like growing up with Genma?”
Ranma started to make a snide answer but the look on Suteko’s face made him change his mind. “Well it was an adventure.”
“Yep,” Ranma went on to tell about some of the places his father had taken him in their years of training. Suteko nodded as she listened. It was interesting to hear his side of the Ukyo story. Not too different but just enough. Occasionally Ryouga would break in, adding depth to the story but also causing Ranma to start arguing and Akane to join in. Suteko smiled. This seemed to be a normal part of their day. Maybe their fighting wasn’t what it seemed on the surface. They were getting loud though.
“Hey, guys. It’s not that important. I just wanted to know what it was like to grow up with a dad.”
“Akane would have been the better one to ask. Her father was more a normal father,” Ryouga said.
“You know, I agree,” added Ranma. He turned to face Akane. “Why don’t ‘cha tell her about growing up with Mister Tendo, Akane?” This lead to more conversation about families until the bus pulled up to the airport. They got out and Suteko led them to where she stashed her pack. It looked much like the one Ryouga usually carried with him. They headed back out toward the buses but got separated from Ryouga in the crowd.
“Ryouga!! Where are you!!!” Akane called out, trying to spot him in the crowd.
Ranma shrugged as he leaned against a nearby wall. “You know that ain’t goin’ to work. He’s lost again. Probably won’t see him for another week.”
“Well, your no help. Why didn’t you keep an eye on him anyway? You know he gets lost so easily.”
“Aww, Akane, why should I? He can take care of himself.”
Akane took out her mallet and prepared to bonk Ranma on the head. “Because he was your responsibility! That’s why!”
Ranma moved away, holding his hands up. “Since when is he my responsibility?”
“Since you were standing next to him at the time!” Her battle aura was coming up now. Suteko couldn’t believe the size of the mallet Akane had pulled out of no where.
“Um, Akane?” She tried to get the girl’s attention before she committed some dire act on Suteko’s newly discovered brother.
It must have worked because Akane turned and politely asked, “What is it, Suteko?”
“Ranma was talking to me when your friend wandered off. I’m sorry. I didn’t know he had such a bad problem.”
Akane calmed down a bit. “That’s OK, Suteko. It’s hard to believe just how lost Ryouga can get without meaning to.” Her aura changed back to normal and she stowed her mallet away, without using it for once. Ranma breathed a sigh of relief.
“Does he know how to get back to the dojo?”
Ranma and Akane looked at each other and smirked. Ranma answered, “Oh, yeah. He should show up sometime next week. He always seems to.”
“Well, let’s go catch a bus back to Nerima. It’s getting late and your family must be wondering where you two are.” Akane looked down at her watch. It was now half past four. “Plus I told Ukyo I would be back for dinner at her place. Don’t like being late.”
“Ranma, why don’t you and Suteko get the tickets and I’ll call Kasumi and tell her when we’ll be home?”
“OK, Akane.” He smiled at his fiancée. It was nice to avoid being hit by the mallet just once. “Meet you by the Kiosk.” The teenagers parted.
“Whoa! Easy Suteko it’s just me.”
Suteko pulled her staff back from Ranma’s face. She hadn’t touched him, due mostly to Ranma’s speed. He had ducked back, just out of range of a close attack. “Sorry Ranma. I guess I wasn’t paying attention.”
Ranma pushed the end of the staff to the side. “Did I surprise you?” Suteko nodded. “What where you thinking about so hard?”
“My great-uncle Tanto.”
“He must be important, you where out of it there.”
Suteko smiled, “Yes, he was.”
“Your pretty fast with that stick there. Where’d you learn that?”
“Uncle Tanto taught me the style and technique and traveling this past year has built up my reflexes. I’m sorry I swung at you. I didn’t hear you and my reflexes took over. Too much time alone I guess.” She fiddled with the leather wrapping the end of the staff. “Uncle always said that my single-mindedness would cause problems. I tend to focus too tightly on one thing at a time.”
Ranma understood. He had that problem once. That and Ryouga had that problem bigtime. “This Uncle sounds like a smart guy. He live back in America?”
Suteko got a pained look on her face for a moment. She took a deep breath and spoke. “Uncle Tanto died just before I left to find Genma.”
Ranma felt a wave of sympathy wash over him. He barely knew this girl but to see the pain in her eyes he knew that the man had been someone special to her. He moved forward and awkwardly put an arm about her. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to make you feel bad.”
Suteko wiped a single tear from her eye and straightened. “It’s all right. I should be over this by now. Uncle would think I was acting childish to let it bother me this long. He had a long life and he enjoyed almost all of it. Thank you for being concerned, though.”
Akane came around the corner then and saw Ranma with his arm around a girl. Her first reaction was to blow up, like always. She pulled her mallet out and said, “Ranma” in her deadly voice. As she got nearer she realized it was Suteko and she cooled down but not before Ranma saw her.
He pulled his arm away from Suteko and raised his hands to defend his head. He was amazed to see Akane back down for a second time this afternoon. Maybe having Suteko around was going to be better than he thought.
“What’s going on?” Akane looked from Ranma to Suteko and back again.
“Nothing Akane. Ranma was just being nice. I was telling him about someone I lost recently.” Suteko smiled weakly. Akane sure got mad a lot. She slid her staff back into staff-space and shook herself. “We should probably go meet the bus back to Nerima now. Yes?”
Akane nodded. “Kasumi said she’d hold dinner until we got back, Ranma.” She turned to Suteko. “She also told me to ask you to dinner.”
Suteko looked surprised. “I don’t think that would be a good idea, Akane. Genma would be there and I shouldn’t see him again until the time of our challenge.”
“I told Kasumi that but well....”
“She’s a bit different.” Added Ranma. “She doesn’t seem to understand battles and the like, right Akane.”
“Yes. I told her that you probably wouldn’t come but I promised her I would ask. Have you found a place to stay the night yet?”
“Ukyo offered me crash space at her place. So I’m taken care of for the night.” She leaned up against the wall as they waited for the bus. “I never did get that explanation about the fiancée thing. Ukyo told me you have four?”
Ranma looked stricken. He had hoped she would have forgotten that. “Um....” But before he could say anything Akane broke in.
“He only has three ‘official’ ones. Me, Ukyo and Shampoo. Kodachi just latched on to him for no reason.” Akane send a viscous look Ranma’s way.
“Hey, it wasn’t my idea. Besides she’s no worse than Kuno.”
“Oh, that’s right.” Akane turned to Suteko with an evil look on her face. “Then there’s Kuno. He has a real thing for Ranma.”
“Akane!” The two started to toss insults at each other again.
Suteko could see that Akane was enjoying making Ranma squirm so she broke in. “Does he want Ranma as a guy or a girl?”
The two broke off and looked at Suteko. “As a girl, of course. What kinda guy you think I am?”
“Oh, don’t worry, I understand. Must be tough having a guy fawn all over you when your a guy.”
“You don't know the half of it. Besides he loves Akane.”
“Kuno is such a jerk. He couldn’t make up his mind...”
“If he had one.” Ranma snorted. Then Akane and Ranma got to explaining just exactly who was or thought they were engaged to Ranma. There explanation was just short of an all out war but Suteko got the gist of the story.
“So, Akane, you have first claim on Ranma, right?”
“Yes, not that I want to.” Akane answered with disgust. “He’s a pervert, girl chasing pain.”
“How’s he a pervert, Akane.”
“Well, he’s a cross dressing, window peeping......”
“Does he dress in women’s clothes when he’s a guy?”
Akane thought a moment. “No....”
“Then he’s not a cross dresser.” Suteko said smugly. Sounded like Akane just wanted to find something wrong with Ranma. She knew she shouldn’t jump to conclusions but Suteko trusted this younger brother of her’s for some reason. She turned to Ranma. “So do you have a favorite?” Ranma didn’t answer that one. He was still torn. Besides he didn’t want to say anything in front of Akane. After a moment Suteko continued. “Do either of you have a problem with me staying at Ukyo’s? If you do I can find somewhere else to sleep.” Ranma told he didn’t and after a quick thought Akane didn’t either. “OK. Look I don’t know anything about this Shampoo but her claim doesn’t sound as valid as Akane and Ukyo’s and this other girl, um, what’s her name?”
“Kodachi,” answered Akane.
“Thank you. She sounds like a real problem. We had someone like her back in Boston. She finally got put away for her own good. Poisoned the boy she had her crush on. Better watch out for that one.” Just then their bus pulled up. The three got on board and took the back seat since it would sit three.
return to Lisa's home page
return to Ranma 1/2 story page
go forward to chapter five b
If you liked this story please send C&C to me at firstname.lastname@example.org