Disclaimer: Ranma1/2 is the creation of Takahashi Rumiko, Sailormoon from Takeuchi Nakao, and "Long Vacation," the J-drama show from KNDY & the Asunaro Association starring Takuya Kimura and Yamaguchi Tomoko, belongs to Fuji TV.

Note: A good deal of the romance scenes in the story is heavily adapted from the series "Long Vacation." If you can find a translated copy of the show, watching it is highly encouraged.

Take it with a grain of salt. This is just some weird product I cooked up while trying to get back into writing shape.

You have been warned.
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- Prologue -

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April 15, 1999
11:37 AM

This story began with a cat.

She was extremely alert, in good physical condition with firm muscle tones. Her head was smooth, medium wedge-shaped, neither tapering nor massive, with a blunt muzzle but not any exaggerated pinch. No nose breaks either. Had a pair of rather large and pointed ears – translucent skin, thank you very much, as she would seem to point out from the way she looked at you at times – with very fine hair. Her eyes were large, often expressively so. A long and slender neck that that is almost regal in appearance gradually widened at the shoulders. Body and legs fine-boned, maintaining a characteristically lithe and graceful outline and carriage without being tubular in appearance. Her paws were small and slightly rounded. It would be an insult to even suggest that she had an incorrect number of toes. And, not that it's readily visible from her current position, but she possessed a perfectly-looking tail as well. Lastly, her coat was short, dense, fine, and plush. Almost like silk, her owner would say if she could be bothered to make the comparison. She presented the very picture of what an international show champion should look like, if only her hair wasn't standing on its ends at the moment.

Luna shivered in a corner behind the sofa, suddenly coming down with a case of bad vibes this morning.

This was a bad thing.

Turning one ear to the sides without actually moving, she tapped back into the conversation around her after her owner's current string of whining had ceased. It never failed to amaze Luna the lung capacity that Usagi had. If anyone asked the moon cat her honest opinion, she'd reply that the only thing that could hold more air than Usagi's lungs would be her head.

"Sure, I'll play the organ." Haruka said. "I used to play pianos all the time."

"Okay, then that's settled. Let's see… I'll cross that item out. Next on the list, table-seating arrangements… hey, Ami, can you take care of that?" That would be her charge speaking. For Luna, the only thing good that'll come out of this mess would be that hopefully, Mamoru would prove to be a much more responsible owner than Usagi. She had her reservations, however; all male bachelors, no matter how-well dressed they appear on the outside, could secretly turn out to be total flea-bitten slobs that shed more hair in weight than they excrete daily, just like a certain cat not presently mentioned. She didn't know how she would survive if her prince's neatness habits were anywhere comparable to her princess's.

"Um, Usagi," Ami interjected.

"Yes?"

"We're pretty much near the end of the list, right?" The blue-haired girl hesitated again.

Usagi didn't know where this was going. "Yeah?"

"So, um, who's going to be the maid-of-honor?"

"Oh." Usagi held a finger to her mouth, trying as hard as she could to think up an answer. Her brows creased so much from the sheer effort that air was coming out of her ears. "Crap!" She exploded, "I'd totally forgotten about that! I can't believe that I never thought of that and it's only three weeks to the wedding and oh my god what am I gunna do help me help me Ami anybody I'll die if you don't - umm… Naru?" She offered tentatively, instantly recovering from her bout of hysteria as soon as her brain finally came up with an answer.

Rei rolled her eyes heavenward. "Nice try, odango-atama. She left for the States eight months ago." Then the fire senshi added, "Besides, you only have two weeks and a half left."

"Waaah!" The bride-to-be went back to bawling her eyes out. Now, that's a thought, Luna winced at the high-pitched noise from the other side of the couch and muttered to herself. If she cried even half as much during the last fight, Sailor Moon could probably have drowned Galaxia in her tears. Moon Shining Deluge, or something to that effect. It's even marginally less embarrassing sounding than Chibi's Pink Sugar Heart Attack in her books.

Tuning the rest of the conversation out, Luna curled inward even more and tried to go back to sleep. She figured that the worst case scenario would be that Usagi forgot to order a bridal gown and had to use the disguise pen on the day of her wedding. Now if only she could convince that the dread she was feeling earlier was anything short of impending disaster, everything would be just peachy.

Her thoughts were derailed, however, as the air in their usual meeting room shimmered, then a vertical line of pure magic appeared and expanded sideways into a portal. Silence settled all around Hikawa shrine for a brief instant before the gleaming Garnet Orb poked through where there was only empty space a mere moment ago.

Sailor Pluto followed briskly after that, gloved fingers gripping tightly about the silver-colored Time Staff.

"Setsuna!" Usagi cried, latching herself onto the green-haired senshi in a heartbeat. "You're just in time! You've got to help me out on this one oh my god I'm like so doomed… hey, Setsuna? Say, would you be my maid-of-honor at the wedding?" Then, seeing no reaction or even acknowledgment of her presence, Usagi said, "Setsuna, are you listening?"

Ruby irises that seemed to even outshine the brightness of the Orb darted around the room instinctively, almost as if she were on a battlefield. Then, only after they apparently found what she was looking for, Sailor Pluto allowed her posture to relax. "Finally… everything… it's all fixed." Her shoulders slumped forward in a very uncharacteristic manner, Setsuna said to no one in particular with surprisingly thick emotion. Then, as abrupt as her entrance, Setsuna vanished without another word, leaving a wide-eyed and quite off-balanced Usagi a detailed look at the grain textures of the cookies Makoto set upon the table earlier as she crashed into the plate of snacks.

Rei rose up from her place at the sofa immediately. "Usagi! Are you all right?" Seeing that her princess's head proved to be sturdier than the metal plate, the shrine maiden sighed in relief. Then frowned. "That Setsuna… barging in again out of nowhere! I can't believe she still does it after all this time."

"Do you think we have another enemy showing up?" Shrugging and straightening herself from her seat next to her lover, Michiru - who barely spoke all morning - offered. "Pluto didn't look herself when she dropped by."

"Naah. I doubt anybody would want to fight us after Galaxia." Haruka said. "But, you're right though. If I didn't know better, I could've sworn that Setsuna looked like she was crying."

Minako, still flipping through the bridal catalogue and admiring the various dresses, looked up at that and called a quick time-out. "Okay, time-out, time-out." Completely bug-eyed, she crossed her fingers in an "X" in front of her and asked, "Setsuna, crying? You must be kidding. I don't think she'd shed a tear if she saw her own coffin being pried open."

"That's 'nailed shut'… oh never mind," Makoto corrected in an exasperated tone. "But if she were crying…" Here, her voice dropped the customary fifty-decibels to make it qualify for a conspiratorial whisper as the brown-haired girl sneaked a furtive look to everyone in the room, "Could she be… jealous?"

At once, all heads – even Luna's – turned towards the princess.

"Mmmph mmm mmph mmmmph mmm," said a surprised Usagi who was busy cleaning off the last bits of crumb on the plate until now. "What?"

Naturally, as she was already curled up like a ball, Luna did not face-fault like all the other girls in the room.

Unfortunately, she did something worse in her opinion. She shivered again.
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April 29, 1999
10:15 AM

As it turned out, Usagi did order a gown ahead of time. She even remembered to show up at the rehearsal without anyone's help, a sign which Luna took as either a positive step to Usagi's growth, or that the world was going to end very soon. She had actually bet on the latter and, fortunately for the rest of the world, lost against Artemis. However, that did not mean there were no problems in the meantime…

"Has anybody found Mamoru yet?" A nervous Rei came out of the ladies' room and asked the others, who had formed a loose circle while waiting outside. A collective shake of heads was her reply. "Damn. Odango's been crying and throwing a fit in there."

"We sorta heard," Michiru said, "along with everyone else on this side of town."

Makoto mused. "Still, it's not like him to be this late. I mean, a whole hour?"

"Here, here," Minako waved a pamphlet in the air excitedly. "I just picked this little thing up somewhere the other day, and I bet it'll tell us what to do in case something like this happens." Unfolding her copy of 'You Know Your Upcoming Wedding is Going Down the Drain When…', she quickly found the item addressing the current issue. "…number three." She read aloud superfluously, as by this time most of the group had gathered behind her to read it themselves already:

(3) Unexplained absences or lateness to prearranged meetings. This situation should be treated as an emergency, as it most likely means that your partner has second thoughts about lifelong commitment. Skipping out on wedding rehearsals is especially considered as an indication of trouble.

Solution: If you are a male, do nothing. It is clear that your partner thinks you are unworthy of her love and decides to elope with someone else. If you are a female, however, hunt down the male immediately and beat his ass up to show what happens when you mess around with the superior gender.

At this time, Usagi chose to make it a known fact that just because she was crying didn't mean that she couldn't hear. The girls cringed as the wailing rose yet another octave.

"…hey, what the hell?" Minako asked after she finished reading the rest of the pamphlet. "That's like their solution to every single problem! Who wrote this crap anyway?" She turned the pamphlet over to the front with a quick flick of wrist. "Hmm. New Joketsukotsu Press. Never heard of it." She shrugged and threw the thing away into a nearby trash bin.

"You know," Setsuna said, "You girls have a nasty tendency to exaggerate the problems. Mamoru's probably just delayed by the traffic. I know you were almost late too, Haruka, and I know how fast you drive."

"Yeah," the latter agreed. "Highway was really congested today."

The hysterical noises from the other side of the wall slowly tapered off to barely a whimper.

"See? There's no need to make a big fuss." The Senshi of Time continued, her eyes never leaving the door to the ladies' room. "In fact," she added casually, "I can guarantee you that nothing Endymion does will ever top what my fiancee did."

Seeing that what Setsuna was saying had calmed their princess down considerably, the rest of the girls followed suit and concurred encouragingly, at least until their minds had digested the info that was put out. "Fi-fiancee?" They queried eerily in unison, various degrees of shock written on their faces. Holy shit, some guy was willing to marry Pluto? Didn't he know how long that woman can carry a grudge if she chose to? Poor guy, Rei remarked, he must have been a great man though. Waitasec, said Minako, a great man? Didn't Gandhi die back in the forties already? Setsuna-mama wouldn't go for married guys, Hotaru whispered. And besides, he's too thin. Then who else had the tolerance to propose to someone like Setsuna? Asked Minako. Must be that she was desperate enough to go back in time and hooked up with one of the disciples of Jesus, Makoto concluded.

"Ahem." The subject of the senshi's latest rumor cleared her throat lightly. All debates regarding which self-torturing hermit back in the Middle Ages would have been a likely fiancée candidate for Setsuna ceased instantly. "Actually, it's ex-fiancee," she corrected in a tone that could not be more casual than if she had been discussing the prices of watermelons and bananas with a street vendor, "I was jilted at the altar."

Oh, that makes perfectly good sense then, Minako continued on from where she left off. I knew Pluto couldn't possibly have landed a guy before I do; that'd be like the most unfair thing in the world…

And then the full meaning of what Setsuna said hit her, and her jaws joined her fellow senshi's to occupy a space on the carpeted floor.
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2
October 5, 1996
2:24 PM

Her name was Meiou Setsuna.

She was a small-time model, well-known only to those who would collect clothing catalogues from various department stores. Her dream of becoming a fashion designer went unrealized, after she discovered how shady the business was when her fifth employer demanded favors from her before he'd consider using her work. A particularly bad argument between her and her family ended when she left home for good, and two years of grand aspirations and abysmal luck later she found herself sitting in a dingy coffee shop in Juuban, reading her latest assignment.

Pushing a stray lock of green hair backward, she muttered something darkly. "Great. Another dead-end job, posing for kitchen-ware sales at a local supermarket." She sighed. Not exactly uplifting news, considering that she was competing for the cover page against a gleaming selection of deluxe china set marked down with a 40% discount.

She had thought of making things up with her folks, but held back each time when she remembered that her eight cousins – two lawyers, three doctors, one intern, and two successful businesswomen – plus their families were all probably back home waiting to make a laughing stock out of her, especially when she declared that she was going to make a name out of herself in the fashion business, that her name was going to outshine everybody else's and that five years down the road everything they wore down to their underwear and slippers would have her brand on it. Denouncing her politician of a father as a fraud in broad daylight before she ran away would have also made smoothing their relations somewhat difficult, never mind that her parents had already forgiven her for the outcry and only wished for her to settle down with a good husband because they had long ago decided that Setsuna wouldn't amount to much of a designer anyway due to her tasteless fashion sense.

A brief inspection at the woman, from her fake diamond-studded earrings and pressed blouse down to her faded jeans and high-pumps that had a plastic sheen, would tend to make most passer-bys agree with her parents.

Noticing that her green tea had gone cold in the meantime, she gulped down the rest of the cup and made a face of disgust. Checking her watch absently, she noted that she had to leave soon to make it to the photo shoot. Thinking back to the conversation she had with her future self just a moment earlier, Setsuna asked herself just what in the nine hells could have gone wrong…

x x x

She was making herself a light meal, humming a random tune on the fly. Wondering for the umpteenth time at how much she'd actually have to pay for electricity bills on Pluto if it weren't for the Silver Millennium magic that fueled everything from the Time Gate to the generators in her palace, Setsuna was almost startled when the microwave in the kitchen went "Ding!" and told her that the pasta was ready.

It was a rare occasion for Sailor Pluto to allow herself to be drawn in by a lull like this and simply relax. This also meant that she was caught completely off-guard when another copy of herself stepped out from thin air in front of her.

"Hey." The other Setsuna said with a hand in the air in a half-hearted wave.

"Hey yourself." Sailor Pluto replied, her surprise neatly tucked behind the customary non-expression she wore on her face. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," said the other woman. "Just dropping by to say that I'm going to be on a vacation soon."

Her meal momentarily forgotten, Pluto asked with an arched eyebrow. "A vacation?"

"Yup," said her future self merrily. Hold on, she was happy? Something was definitely going on.

"And you are too," the future-Setsuna continued. "In fact, your current trip starts right about… now. Have fun."

And then, with another wave of hands, the Pluto from the future vanished. Just as Setsuna wondered what exactly was going on, she noted immediately that something was amiss.

Someone had turned the lights off in the palace.

"An intruder?" Pluto yelled disbelievingly. Quickly summoning her staff, she teleported to the Gate nearby, thinking that whoever had bypassed the security must be trying to target the Time Stream. Led by the ruby magical light of the Garnet Orb, Setsuna turned to the massive, rune-covered construct, fully expecting to catch a horde of youma about to leap into the shimmering surface of the Gate portal to the past… when she realized that there were no enemies nearby.

Unfortunately, that was also when she noted that the ancient runes carved into the Time Gate had stopped glowing, and that the watery surface of the Time Stream encircled by the Gate had solidified back into stone.

Uh-oh, Setsuna thought to herself, right as the light from her Garnet Orb flickered once before vanishing as well and left her to be claimed by the all-encompassing darkness.

x x x

As the last of the Silver Millennium magic left her and memories of an unfamiliar life rushed in to fill the void, the former Senshi of Time stared at the empty cup of green tea in her hands and at once realized that something in the past had been altered so drastically that she had lost all power as a result, and that there was no way she could possibly fix the error in her present state. Faced with a myriad of questions about what could have gone wrong and coming up with no apparent answer, Setsuna could only think of one thing to say to sum up her current predicament:

"Fuck."
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October 5, 1996
2:24 PM

A young man strolled down the sidewalk on a street in Juuban, a small backpack that had seen its share of travel rested on his back. Measured strides carried him against the general flow of the crowd, mostly students who had just finished their half day of school on a regular Saturday and were looking to go to the mall or the movie theatre nearby. His feet guided him towards nowhere in particular; he had started out from the east side of town, traversed the district northward, then down south to the shopping blocks and the movie theatre, circled twice around the last block, before he started back east again.

Light breeze tickled his pigtail and lifted it playfully in the air. He walked past another building, stepped on a black cat without even noticing, and turned left at the following street. The cat leapt away from the sidewalk in a mixture of both surprise and pain, and landed right on the back of a produce truck. It would eventually find itself in Hokkaido.

Briefly, he thought of happier times. Like last night, in fact. Despite the part that when he turned to Akane and told her how funny Satomi looked in the end when she was crying, the way that boogie trailed down her nose and past her lips, he found his fiancée about to go through her second box of tissues. Or the part when Hideo launched a reverse-spin kick that whiffed, only to produce a gun in his right hand before he landed and killed the Yakuza boss with a bullet to the heart that Akane thought was totally cool and he thought was utterly lame, because his kick wouldn't have missed. Despite all that, the movie date shouldn't have ended that badly – and yet it did.

It had been Mousse, without chains, bearing down on them as he descended from his point of ambush on a rooftop on their way back. Something in the guy's eyes – a perpetual fogginess, it appeared – had been lifted, he noted, but now only a sort of weariness replaced the haze. Somehow Mousse finally understood that Shampoo would never come to love him, and in a moment of complete despair he went over the edge. Kill me, he said. End this farce. It had been Mousse, his blades inches away from Akane's throat, when his request was denied. Kill me, like you killed Saffron, he repeated, or I'll kill her.

It had been Akane, shocked, panicking, and screaming his name.

And finally, it had been himself, fists charging, ki-blazing, aiming a killing blow at Mousse's head. And never connecting.

The hand that held the sword lowered. There was no blood on it. Coward, said Mousse bitterly as he fled into the night, I thought you were better than me. And Akane, tearful, slumped to the ground and on her knees, overwhelming relief almost hiding an unnamed accusation in her eyes. It was nearly enough to convince him that she did not feel somehow betrayed.

Neither of them said a word as they went back to the dojo. Akane excused herself and went upstairs. He went back to the guest room and packed.

Ironic. She didn't even break the engagement this time.

Thinking back, the disastrous wedding should have been enough to warn him, but he either ignored the sign or failed to see it. Somehow, things in Nerima had escalated into something much more while nobody noticed. It was partially a creation of his own, his inability to choose between the fiancées because of his honor, but every person he dragged into this mess contributed to the overall problem in their own ways. And it was taking over, this amorphous tangle of engagement and death threats and obsessions and temper tantrums, becoming a vicious cycle that was starting to sustain itself, coming alive like the sludge monster Akane made once in Home Ec. with natto beans and jelly and a basketful of fish eyeballs, only that he couldn't kill it with Mouko Takabisha or any other technique he knew. It had taken up until that night to make him realize how deadly this whole mess had become. Someone had to do something about it.

The clothes he had should last him a good while; the money he had much less so. He crept silently into Akane's room before dawn, nearly brushed his lips against her cheeks enough to taste the salt left overnight, and hesitated before he left.

He had been walking since then.

Each step took him further away from home, and he treaded each step meticulously as if walking a tightrope. One misstep and he would tumble headlong in either direction; killing someone – a sacrilege to the Art, or not being able to save the ones he cared – an unforgivable crime. Last night, it had ended and he found himself still standing on the wire. He was not so sure where he would end up next time.

He had paused at an intersection, felt the heat of the sun on his chest, and doubled back the other way. Long and perilous the Path may be, it should not have been a balancing act. Perhaps, then, he thought to himself, I have to let go further. Perhaps I need to leave the Art behind, and start living for something else. A hundred other perhaps filled him in the time it took the sunlight to travel upward along his back, and though the uncertainty made him pause in his tracks several times it did not stop him. After all, he thought, everything will work itself out in the end. And he will never lose.

Because he was Saotome Ranma.

He stopped under the sign of some small, dingy looking café, ducked inside, pulled out some change from his pocket, gulped down a glass of lemonade to quench a momentary thirst before taking off again. As he headed for the exit, he saw something out of the corner of his eyes and paused. A girl, back turned, sitting at the rear end of the shop. He noted that she had a lustrous wave of green hair. He left.

And this, plus the cat, is their story.
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A very late entry for the Ranma/SM Crossover Generator Challenge…
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TIMED VACATION
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A crossover fanfiction from
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ukulele studios
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Opening Theme: Close to You (Instrumental)
Composed by: CAGNET