By Ninnik Nishukan

PROLOGUE: First Impressions

This boy was weird, that much was certain. He'd shown up, squashed Ranchan with a giant tanuki statue which he certainly shouldn't have been able to carry on his back, fought Ranchan, fought her—called me a man, she reminded herself, gritting her teeth with the annoying memory—fought her some more, had gotten a good view of her cleavage and had finally gotten kicked into the side of the school building by Ranchan, while sporting a violent nosebleed…and all this within the space of less than five minutes!

And what kind of guy gets a geyser nosebleed just at the sight of a little cleavage, she wondered, shaking her head exasperatedly as she wandered around the neighbourhood, looking, in fact, for the very same guy. She had a feeling she'd regret it, but he might prove to be useful; he had a thing for Akane, that much was certain, and if she played her cards right—

"Don't worry about us, she says? ARRGGGHHHH!!!"

Ukyo turned around, startled by the outburst. Of course; she should've known. It was that strange boy again. He certainly made enough noise to be impossible to miss when you were looking for him.

Ukyo sighed and sat down on a mailbox as she waited for him to finish his tantrum, or at least for him to pause in his shouting so she could get his attention. She watched him smash holes in a brick wall as he approached her, still completely unaware that she was even there.

"She doesn't know how I feel!!!" He wailed as he punched the telephone pole next to Ukyo, creating a large dent in it.

Ukyo took a deep breath as she tried to think of something to say.

The guy who turned out not to be a guy after all, had introduced herself as Kuonji Ukyo, 'Ranchan's cute fiancée', and he'd realized it was no wonder she'd been offended about his assessment of the engagement.

And it also made sense why she was so set on him dating Akane; it wasn't as if she was some kind of Good Samaritan or anything, she was just using him to get what she wanted. Which was fine by him, really, if it got him what he wanted, too.

"I'm on your side!" She'd said. It was a strange feeling, he thought, having an ally for once. Of course he couldn't be too sure of how much she'd actually back him up or how loyal she was— he'd just met her, after all.

But she seemed to have calmed down a bit, and her voice had changed completely now that she wasn't pretending to be a boy anymore, and her hair was long and loose against her back, her facial expression almost serene as she cooked him some okonomiyaki on the house. Maybe she wasn't such a bad person?

He could tell by the way she talked and the way she carried herself that she was kind of bossy, though. Working with her might not be easy, but he'd give it a shot since he hadn't managed to make any progress with Akane by himself.

He took a bite out of the okonomiyaki.

It was the best he'd ever tasted, and she gave him a brilliant smile when he told her.

At least he's polite, Ukyo thought, pleased when he asked for another.