by Lerris Smith
Disclaimer: I do no't own Ranma 1/2 or Sailor Moon. This piece of work is purely for entertainment purposes.
Setsuna Meio sat in the plushly furnished rooms that she kept down the hall from the gates of time. One might wonder how she had managed to furnish these rooms, located as they were on the furthest planet in the solar system with such lush furnishing, including all the audio video equipment and computers she had stored away here. Of course, such wondering was easily put to rest when you remembered, that when she was transformed, tossing around the odd sofa was no problem whatsoever. Of course, had she had her way, Setsuna would have chosen the next bigger sofa, but then, there were limits to how big of portal she could generate.
No, the furnishings were a minor detail as far as these things go. The really irritating problem was getting that engineer to build the power converter that converted the nearly five thousand seven hundred volts direct current she could tap from the ancient moon kingdom generator into voltages that would run the electronics. Well the other irritating problem was getting the system hooked up without frying herself, since some things just could not be turned off.
Still, such details allowed her to keep up with current technology, but they did little to solve her current problem. She held in her hand a perfectly geometric crystal, that glowed with a warm yellow light. It had been one of her greatest successes, right up until the point where it failed, but then she had been told to expect failure.
The silver crystal might be able to restore a recently departed Senshi by using their bond to the princess, but it could not restore one who, for some reason had never been reborn in this time. Even the gates of time, with all their power could only summon the star seed, and that required using her very own as a beacon, which was an experience she hoped never to repeat.
She considered once again informing the princess of what had happened to the missing outer Senshi, but admitting a failure was never something she cared to do, and it wouldn't work anyway. No, letting Usagi know would only endanger her life, and she would not break her oath to Serenity, regardless of what the princess might want.
Besides, she was not out of cards yet. While creating a new body for the Senshi of Uranus was out of the question, their was another possibility that she had recently uncovered. The possibility even presented great entertainment potential, and that was something she had lacked for years. She supposed that some would find playing with such things morally objectionable, but as long as it was all for a good cause, it was fine, right?
She smiled before shifting into her transformed state without the silly light show. One day, she mused, she might even tell them how to do that, or not. She tucked the crystal into her storage space and then summoned her staff briefly to open a portal before dismissing it and tucking an ornate sword and scabbard in the crook of her arm. With no further fanfare, she stepped into a familiar room.
The room contained a rather attractive red head that was wearing a lose fitting red silk shirt. Above her head, the ceiling dripped onto her wet form, but other than her odd shifting to avoid the biggest drops, she remained sound asleep.
Setsuna smiled a broad smile, before she reached into her own personal storage space and pulled out what looked like a small perfume bottle. She took the bottle and sprayed a couple times down on the wet young woman. This had an odd affect, for the unconscious dodging stopped and her breathing became more even. It was almost as if she had gotten more comfortable and was now sleeping truly peacefully, although how one could do that with water trickling in her ear was another question.
She reached down and gently pulled her futon a little to one side and tilted the red head side ways, so the water ran out of her ear. Through all this the young woman remained blissfully asleep.
She took the crystal out of storage space and observed its warm glow for a moment before carefully opening the young woman's right hand and closing her fingers around the crystal. She then gently placed that hand in the hollow between her breasts.
The crystal seemed to pulse briefly. which caused the smile on Setsuna's face to widen just a bit more before she casually whispered, "A kindred spirit indeed it seems, but the show has yet to begin."
She took the sword out of its scabbard and held it up in the air. She spoke softly yet pronounced each word crisply, "Solas, sword of queens, I Setsuna Meio, guardian of the eternal gate command you."
A male voice filled the room saying, "Yes, yes Suna-chan. Have you finally chosen your last wish?" The word last was emphasized, seeming to indicate the sword's wish to be done with the whole mess. The voice continued without pause, "Your first wish was pretty good, and as to your second, well you knew that I could not create a living body that lasted. Some things are reserved to the greater kami alone. I'm amazed it lasted that long although being a Senshi probably helped."
"Must you be so loud? There are others sleeping here." Setsuna too had been surprised that the temporary body the sword made for Haruka had lasted as long as it had. As far as she knew there was even still a family that believed Haruka was their disobedient daughter.
The sword replied, "They will not hear me, now hurry up and ask your wish and be done with it. I had to wait years on that dusty old shelf for this day."
Setsuna said coyly, "Well, there was little point in asking for the last wish before the last was done, now was there? Besides, it takes time to craft a wish." Of course, she admitted privately to herself, they had been very busy of late with all the threats the Senshi had fought, and she had spent less time thinking about this than she had planned.
"So what will it be?" the male voice asked in a dry tone.
"First of all, as before, you will tell me the results of my idea, before you execute it."
"Yes, yes of course," said the voice. The sword really hated dealing with know it all people. It was so difficult to have any fun. The voice listened to her idea and smiled as it mentally corrected its last thought. This was going to be quite entertaining, and it didn't even have to deliberately misinterpret anything.
Ranma Saotome woke male, naked, and in, or rather under a stream of hot water. There was a drop dead gorgeous blue haired woman in the rather large elaborately tiled shower with him, who was just as naked as he was. This was definitely not good.
He jumped for the door, grabbing a bathrobe as he went. Even as he ran, he put the too small, and quite soft white bathrobe on. He was sure he had gotten away cleanly, from, well, he was not sure what had happened there. Perhaps it was a fiancée he didn't know about that drugged him? It didn't matter. Just as he started to slow down and get his bearings, he saw a different blue haired woman, in a short skirt roof hopping after him, and even gaining ground.
Yes, this definitely met the definition of not good. He knew things had taken a turn for the worse when he heard her shout in anger the words, "Deep Submerge!"
He felt himself hit, and then start to fall off the building as Jusenkyo's touch hit.
The distraught and quite angry Sailor Neptune continued to search for the black haired boy that had somehow taken Haruka away and had the nerve to try to take her place. She supposed the attack or the fall might have killed him. She jumped down to where she thought the boy would have landed and gasped out loud, "Haruka! Oh my god, what happened to you?"
The naked blonde shook her head and ran her hand through her hair to get rid of the excess water before saying, "I don't know. I feel like I have been run over by a mack truck."
Elsewhere, a few stories up, a tattered white, and thoroughly soaked robe slipped off where it had snagged on a window and fell to the ground with a completely unnoticed splat.
At the gates of time, Setsuna Meio smiled briefly. A male Ranma was himself, while when the cursed took over, so too did Haruka, and so far it seemed neither had a clue. Yes, this was going to be entertaining, except since the deed had been done she had felt more and more guilt for using Ranma so, although not enough to have made her wish she had not done it.
After glancing around, Haruka quickly transformed. There was of course no need for the powers of the Senshi of Uranus. No Haruka wanted the most minor part of the transformation. Simply put, Haruka wanted some clothing.
"What happened? How did you get out here?" asked Neptune.
"The last thing I remember is being in the shower and starting to wash your back and then nothing. Maybe we should head back?"
Neptune nodded dubiously, before jumping back up to the top of a nearby building. Uranus followed, if, perhaps only a touch more shakily. Neptune jumped around the tops of the nearby buildings, always looking down when Uranus said, "Fill me in?"
Neptune said, "Before in the bath, when I turned around to look, there was a guy that was perhaps a year or two younger than us in your place. Come to think of it, I think he looked as surprised as I was. I chased him and hit him with my attack, but when I looked for him, I only found you."
Uranus glanced around and said with uncertainty, "Well he doesn't appear to be here now."
At the Tendo dojo breakfast was odd. Akane was sure that Ranma had run off with one of his other fiancées.
Nabiki considered the idea after her first cup of coffee had taken affect, but it seemed unlikely. If he was going to run away with someone, wouldn't he have to be on better terms with them? There was a huge step from free food to happily ever after, after all, and even Ranma knew that. Out loud she said, "Doubtful. Knowing Ranma its probably something more innocent, like . . ." Nabiki paused as if thinking of the most likely event and then pulled out her notebook and flipped through the pages.
"Like?" prompted Kasumi.
"Kidnapped as a part of a plot to destroy... No that's not it, we had destroy last month, so the only unused one is Kidnapped as a part of a plot to save the world."
Kasumi giggled before saying, "Now, now Nabiki-chan, you really should know better than to using that random plot generator you found on the Internet to predict Ranma's life."
"But it works! Profits are up ten percent."
Ranma awoke, once again naked, and this time he had his arms around the blue haired woman from before that had been in the shower with him, and now that he thought about it, looked a bit like the one that had chased him and hit him with that odd water attack. A part of him wondered how that attack worked, while another part of him used the strength of will he had developed fending off Shampoo's advances not to react to his present situation. Those skills were hard pressed as he used every bit of stealth he had to slip away from the gorgeous woman.
He looked for his clothes, and found a scattered collection on the floor. The problem was, while the tan set looked like male clothing, even if a bit nice for his tastes, they also looked a little small. With a mental shrug he ever so quietly put them on, and was glad once again for the miracle of an elastic waste band. He left the shoes and socks behind as useless as he silently crept out the door, only to find a set of stairs.
He silently stepped down the stairs and caught sight of the kitchen. He tried to resist, but the grumble from his stomach would not be denied. A look in the refrigerator appeared to reveal that takeout was popular here, and the leftover Chinese food looked quite good. Before long he had the table spread with the leftovers and was quietly, oh so quietly filling his stomach. At that particular moment, if Ranma thought about it, he would realize that his father would suddenly be inordinately proud of him, but fortunately such irritating thoughts took second place to good food.
As he eat he noticed a young black haired child slowly walk down the steps, get a glass out, open the refrigerator, pour a glass of milk, add strawberry flavoring, and take a large drink. The entire time she took no notice of Ranma until after she finished the glass, put in it the sink and began walking upstairs. On the way up she said sleepily, "Goodnight Haruka-papa."
Yep, this was officially weird. If his passive impressions of ki meant anything, he didn't even think the girl was truly awake that entire time. Well nothing to be done, but get out of here, before someone really did wake up, and besides, he had finished eating.
Down the hall a sleepy Setsuna glanced out her slightly open door into the kitchen. A small smile lit her face as she saw Ranma quietly put the food containers in the garbage and slip out the door. As she closed the door to her room, she absently thanked Kasumi for teaching him to be neat.
Ranma roof hopped around until he realized that he really had no clue where he was, but a closer look at a few of the store names that included the word Jūban made his location obvious. He tried and half remembered where Jūban was in relation to Nerima. He would get no sleep if he roof hopped home, but then, he realized, he felt well rested.
The snug pants made him realize something else. In his back pocket was something. He reached in and pulled out a wallet, before flipping it open to see a driver's license photo of Haruka Tenoh. Haruka, he thought, was the name the little girl said. Great, he thought, now he was guilty of theft, well besides the food, he silently and guiltily amended in his thoughts.
Still, there was nothing to do but head to Nerima. Oh sure, Cologne could probably figure it out, but she might use the information somehow and if he really was blacking out, well that was just too big a risk. A passing thought made him consider asking Nabiki for help, but was quickly dashed, as the only thing he had to pay her with was stolen money.
He made his way to the nearest train track that was going what he thought was the right direction, and then jumped up on the nearby overpass before jumping down on the first train that passed. He landed on hands and feet and ended up making surprisingly little noise. About an hour later he was walking up to Dr. Tofu's clinic and knocking on the door. He wasn't sure, but he thought Dr. Tofu still stayed up in the little apartment above. After no response, he knocked harder and was soon rewarded by the door opening to reveal a disheveled and bleary eyed Dr. Tofu wearing a rumpled gray robe and fumbling to get his glasses on.
He said, "Ranma? What are you doing here? It is the middle of the night."
"Sorry doc. Something weird is going on."
"Oh, well come in and make yourself comfortable." The doctor pointed to a couch patients sometimes used when they were waiting. Concern edged the doctor's voice, but then weird for Ranma was, well, usually life altering for anyone else.
"Ya, um, I woke up in a bathtub with a strange girl earlier, and then another girl chased me, and then I don't remember anything till I woke up in bed with the first girl."
Doctor Tofu blinked. From anyone else, he would expect this to be some kind of dream, and perhaps a nice one at that. He asked with concern, "Do you think it has something to do with your curse?"
"I don't know doc! I can't remember being in my cursed body till like two days ago!" Ranma was in near panic now. He really disliked not knowing what was going on with his own body. It reminded him too much of the Nekoken. He wondered why that thought didn't have the usual fear associated with it, before turning back to look at the doctor.
"I think I need to see your cursed form Ranma, but first I need some coffee. Do you want some?" The doctor yawned before waving Ranma to follow him through the door into his examination room. The doctor flipped on lights absently as he went. A small coffee maker that contained the remnants of today's coffee sat on the far wall.
Dr. Tofu quickly cleaned and rinsed the coffee maker before making new with an economy of motion. As the coffee brewed, he filled a small cup with hot water and then an identical cup with cool water before setting them on the counter next to a plain white towel that looked like it was well due for replacement, even thought it appeared to be clean and dry. He got out a cup and spooned a teaspoon of sugar in it before putting the sugar away. Finally, he judged that enough coffee was in the pot to fill his cup, and quickly did so before stirring in the sugar and taking a drink. He said absently, "It tastes better if you let the whole pot brew, but I just needed something to wake me up a bit."
Ranma nodded, not the least bit concerned about coffee, it was hot after all. Of course, the cold water he had put in a cup was another matter altogether. He said, "Are you sure about this doc? I mean, last time I changed..."
The doctor nodded and said, "Don't worry, I'll splash you with hot water if need be. Come to think of it, you said you just woke up male, was that right? You weren't wet at all when you got up?"
Ranma thought about it for a moment and then said, "No, I was completely dry. Doc this is weird."
"Don't worry Ranma, we will figure it out." The doctor drank another large drink of coffee before handing him the cup of cold water. Ranma shrugged and tossed the cup over his head. He felt the change begin almost immediately and then there was nothing.
Dr. Tofu starred in surprise at a young woman who fit much better in those clothes than had Ranma. He absently wondered if they were her clothes. They were a bit tomboyish, but the lack of a bra made her gender obvious, even through the button up white top.
She looked around and said loudly, "Who are you and what am I doing here?"
The doctor took another sip of his coffee in an effort not to alarm her. Her because, his senses were telling him that this was most certainly a girl in front of him and not just a cursed form. When combined with the completely changed ki signature, it was downright odd, even by Nerima standards.
He put down his cup and said in calm yet reassuring voice. "My name is Doctor Ono Tofu. I run a small clinic in Nerima." He hesitated before answering her next question. That was the harder one.
She repeated, "What am I doing here?"
"You may find this difficult to accept."
"Try me," she said with an air of menace in her words.
"Well, up until a few minutes ago I was examining a boy a bit younger than you. He had an odd curse that turned him into a girl, except for some reason it has changed, and now he turns into you."
"Your right. I don't believe you."
Doctor Tofu said, "Yes, I can see how that would be difficult." He brightened and then said, "Wait here a second will you? I'll go get my video camera."
At first Haruka was tempted to leave, since waking up in a strange doctor's office with said doctor going to get his camera sounded just a wee bit perverted, but then she remembered what Michuru had told her earlier. Something weird was going on, and this may be her only shot of finding out, and if worse come to worse, Sailor Uranus could always deal with him.
They ended up exchanging questions and answers for over an hour, when the batteries finally gave out in the camcorder. Eventually, after resorting to passing notes via paper, Haruka eventually reluctantly agreed to let the Doctor get a hold of Michuru, and to let Ranma return home for what would now be breakfast.
In the intervening years, as guilt had occasionally reared its ugly head, Setsuna had, on occasion, used the Gates of Time to look how things might have gone had she not meddled, and most times, but not always he was much happier after her meddling.
The reasons where varied, but usually focused around a simple truth. The truth was Ranma was happiest when he was striving to be the best, and most of the time, he achieved that so very young, and then he was forced to deal with a life that lacked a reason to live, beyond the endless stupid challenges to take his title. Quite often he was killed, not by the superior opponent, but by the sneakiest one.
Sometimes, he found true love with a woman, but even that often seemed to be a slightly hollow existence, because his love of the art seemed to, in the end, in one way or another be partially sacrificed to make a happy life with his chosen life mate.
Setsuna knew intellectually that justifying morally questionable actions after the fact was a dangerous path to walk down, but well, when you had the best toy in the universe to do it, who could really help but succumb to the temptation? Sure there were other paths, other possibilities, but they generally boiled down to two. The ones in which they all died, and the ones in which they lived.
Losing any member of the team was almost always eventually fatal to everyone and gaining Ranma's help almost always resulted in more favorable outcomes. Even more remarkable, was the fact that a few potential time lines existed with Ranma, where they had actually prevented the great freeze. It was a pity that the gates would not reveal to her exactly how that was possible.
Having once again justified her own actions in her mind, Setsuna paused to remember some key moments of the past few years.
When the change first happened, hot and cold water changed him like normal, but it turned out that being in one body for a very long time did as well, as if a rough sort of balance was sought. Later, water began to affect Ranma less and less, until it no longer seemed to matter, and eventually they began to be able to will the change, although any effort to stay in one form more than about half a day eventually forced a change.
Ranma learned about their role as sailor scouts almost right away, when Setsuna of all people transformed in front of him. When Michuru yelled at her, she claimed it was an accident and there was nothing to do about it now, except ask him to keep it a secret which he readily did.
Of course, things weren't always smooth sailing. Haruka's constant appearances had pretty much destroyed any relationships he had with Akane, Ukyo, or Shampoo. Simply put, Haruka would not put up with their nonsense, and eventually they all gave up on him, even Shampoo when Haruka had somehow challenged and won a fight with her. After watching a copy of the fight purchased from Nabiki, Ranma suspected Haruka had somehow partially accessed her Senshi powers without transforming, but then he didn't care really, other than the fact that one more annoyance was settled.
Of course, Ranma still found it a bit odd that the moronic duo had given up, even with Akane's renouncement. He just hoped that his father hadn't sold him again, since it seemed they had suddenly come into a great deal of money. He had thought things were going well then, but he neglected to take his mother into account, who found out about Haruka having control of his female half, and when taken with the fact that now all of his fiancées no longer wanted to marry him, had declared him unmanly.
Some fast talking on his part, and he had proposed an idea that his mother accepted. Without Haruka's knowledge of any of this, he had contacted Herb of the Musk, and been sent a bottle of curse locking water. Ranma Saotome was dead as far as his mother was concerned.
Haruka remembered the letter he had written.
"Dear friend. This is not your fault so do not think it was."
Haruka paused in reading for a moment to consider how much Ranma's grammar had improved and wondered if somehow he had subconsciously used her own knowledge. She continued reading.
"I do not know how we got like we are, and even now do not regret it. I had thought things were going better after the girls who were after me finally gave up, although I still wonder why my father and Akane's went along with it. I think they got money from somewhere, but I don't if that is related."
Haruka privately suspected Setsuna had paid them off. It would, after all, not be good from Crystal Tokyo if Ranma's distractions caused them trouble. She continued reading.
"It seems that for my mother this was the final straw, and she demanded that Ranma Saotome die, for not fulfilling his childhood vow to become a man among men. I have used a powerful and rare magic to permanently lock this body in the cursed form. It was the least I could do, for I could not let my death kill you as well."
Cursed form? Well, he was still an idiot sometimes. She knew Setsuna wasn't perfect, but missing this? Dang it, she was just getting used to the idiot, and for all she knew this was his body. Of course, if that was the case, then she still didn't know what happened to her own. She suspected Setsuna of course, but that was more or less in the way that she suspected Setsuna of every sneaky unexplained thing. No, she was avoiding facing the truth. Ranma was gone, had in fact given his life to insure that she would live.
The tears began and soon turned into anguished sobs as she read and reread the letter. She could hardly believe that someone she had never met face to face could affect her so, but she missed him dearly. It took all of Neptune's effort to cheer Haruka up then, but fortunately Ranma's plan did not work as well as he thought it would, as they discovered a few months later.
The lock that kept Haruka's body from changing, did not keep his mind from waking up, and while he could not control the body he was in, he began to see through her eyes and feel through her senses. He even began to be able to talk to Haruka in her mind. Haruka of course, pestered the now captive audience into telling her how to undo what he had done. After a token resistance he agreed and got in touch with Herb who sent a bottle of curse unlocking water.
Eventually, Ranma and Haruka learned to give the other privacy when they desired it, although he still ended up in awkward positions with Michuru from time to time. One he remembered in great detail, for it was the time he truly learned what love was. It was also the time that Usagi found out about him and Haruka.
They had defeated their last foe, but there had been a terrible cost. Sailors Uranus, Saturn, and Mercury had been badly injured in the battle, and the others were out cold save Moon. Somehow, even without trying to change, Ranma found the punctured and half severed body of Haruka switched with his own and himself suddenly face to face with a twelve foot monstrosity straight out of the deepest caverns of hell. Only the skills learned of a life time of combat allowed him to dodge the attacks and keep the monster clear of the others' fallen bodies and Sailor Moon.
He didn't hesitate then, not even when Sailor Moon yelled out her surprise at seeing him replace the mortally wounded scout. Without a thought, he unsealed his father's forbidden techniques and went all out against the monster, throwing vacuum blade after vacuum blade all laced with the destructive rage he was pouring into his ki. It was not enough, for the monster regenerated limbs as fast as he severed them. The monster made one mistake though. It had decided that movement was a waste of time, since every attack the enraged martial artist made landed, so instead of moving it was advancing in a straight line, as best as it could on Ranma, while trying desperately to regenerate faster than Ranma could damage it.
This proved to be the monster's undoing for though Moon's annihilation attack, was relatively slow to call up, it was deadly when it touched, and the monster that could barely hold up against Ranma's fury was suddenly just gone, when the wrath of the Moon's guardian touched it.
At Moon's direction Ranma carefully moved the other Senshi next to Hotaru and Ami, and he himself sat down as well. He tried to change back before Moon cast her spell, but found that he could not. Even after Moon's strongest healing spell, Ami and Hotaru had to be hospitalized, although the others were fine. Ami had awoken briefly, but Hotaru was yet to awake. They said they both would should recover in time although they wouldn't say how much time.
Ranma himself was in a bed in a nearby room as he waited. Usagi sat in the room and tried to stay awake. Ranma's story was just so unbelievable, but she had seen it and she could not doubt his fury when he relentlessly fought the monster. The Senshi owed him their lives, and she did her best to stay awake lest his fear come true and Haruka suddenly take his place and die on the table.
Unfortunately, for all her effort she could not stay awake. The battle and the healing had taken too much from her, and she was soon sound asleep.
Michuru came in shortly afterward, with signs of recent tears on her face, having sat at her adopted daughter's side for quite some time. As Ranma's eyes fell upon her tear saddened form he felt Haruka's unvoiced appreciation at her chosen life mate's beauty, that could not even be dimmed by tears. Ranma could not help but to privately agree, to which Haruka sent a unheard, "Mine." to Ranma.
Ranma tried to think of what to do. A part of him wanted desperately to comfort the woman he had come to know, but another part of him said that it was not his place. He was apparently not paying enough attention to keeping his thoughts private, for Haruka said in his mind, "Don't just stare you idiot! You are there, and I am not-" Haruka's mental voice became softer as she continued, "and I cannot bear to see her tears and do nothing."
Ranma didn't remember everything of that night, but he remembered that they somehow ended up in the hospital bed where he gently held and comforted her as best as he could. Somehow, he realized, that Haruka, Michuru, and Hotaru had become the world to him. Hotaru had even started calling him Ranma-papa of late.
Ranma awoke the next morning, still male and tried to keep the panic from his mind. Normally by now they would have switched places, whether they wanted to or not. He could feel Haruka's desperate fear, but she wasn't talking.
After Ranma carefully removed his arms from around the beauty beside him, he heard movement near him and looked up to see Dr. Mizuno give him a curious stare. She refrained from commenting on how she found them, but instead said, "Mr. Saotome, I see no reason why you need to remain here. I know you said you were hit several times in the fight with the youma, but you appear to be fine to me."
Ranma thought quickly before saying softly so as to try not to wake Michuru, "I know I feel fine, but I've heard that sometimes it can take days for their poison to take effect." He knew it was a stupid excuse, but he wanted to stay in the hospital lest Haruka again take over with a critically wounded body.
Dr. Mizuno said, "Okay, well I guess it won't hurt to keep you here a few more days. I owe you my thanks for saving my daughter after all."
Ranma said, "Thank you, and no you don't. I think you would have been proud of her had you saw her there. She saved quite a few people before she was struck down."
Dr. Mizuno was caught up in her emotions as she merely nodded before quickly exiting, lest she break down in front of a patient.
As time passed, both Hotaru and Ami began to heal at a remarkable rate, although it seemed Ami's mother kept tight control of how remarkable it was, lest others bother them. Unfortunately, time only brought Ranma and the others greater despair. He had told them all the truth, which the other outers readily confirmed. After almost a month had passed Haruka spoke to him as he was about to go to sleep in his room in the outer's home.
Haruka said softly, "Ranma, I think it is time we face the fact that my body is dead."
Ranma said, "No, it can't be. You will be fine," but unfortunately his words felt hollow, even in his head.
Haruka said softly and hesitantly, "You have my permission." She paused for a moment before adding with more resolve, "Make her happy."
Ranma replied vehemently, "No, I can't. I will not try to take your place!"
"But she is so sad, and I cannot bear to see her this way."
Ranma tried to come up with a reason, something to deny what he knew to be true, but he too had been thinking about it for a long time, and he too could not bear to see the beautiful blue haired violinist so sad. Sure he had relayed Haruka's words quite often, but it was not the same as being physically there, and he knew it had hurt the Senshi of Neptune.
In the end, he had knocked on her door and explained everything they had talked about. Even though he knew it would be so very easy to let slip the bar of friendship and truly fall for her, he did not tell Michuru this, nor let it slip out through actions.
Night after night for almost a month after Haruka's talk he held Michuru, separated only by thin nightgowns. Michiru seemed to take comfort in his arms, although she never said anything about it. He was a little surprised when one day Usagi had hugged him and told him, "Thanks."
"For what," he asked.
"You already know," she added mysteriously, before making an excuse that if she didn't leave now, they would run out of the good ice cream.
Time passed, and he knew his resolve was slipping and Haruka had even subtly encouraged it as the only way she could to help insure her lover's happiness. Michuru had of course noticed certain things at times, but she too made no move to move beyond what they had.
Then finally, as if a gift of heaven, on a night just seconds before Ranma was sure his resolve would finally break and he would try to kiss those beautiful lips, he changed and Haruka was back, whole and healed.
Ranma scraped together the last of his resolve and shut himself away to give them as much privacy as he could. He awoke the next morning and peeked out Haruka's eyes who was also awake only to find sleeping, yet smiling Michuru with hair flying every which way.
Haruka said to him, "Thank you Ranma. I cannot ever hope to repay you."
Ranma could offer no reply to this and Haruka found herself on the verge of tears. Things returned to normal for the most part, but Haruka insisted that Ranma try dating to get his mind off things. She even setup a date between Makoto and Ranma to which Ranma found himself eagerly looking forward to.
It seemed a match made in heaven, for though Makoto was not at his level in the art, she learned very fast with a good tutor, and in the years that followed love developed, and even a martial arts rivalry that would in time become legendary.
Eventually, after Makoto and Ranma married and had a happy and healthy baby girl, Haruka spoke to Ranma as he was about to go to sleep.
"You know about Michuru and I. I probably shouldn't ask this, but we want what you and Makoto have."
"A child, but oh. I couldn't. Please don't ask me to do that."
"No silly, I trust you, but I would never ask you to betray your vows."
"Oh. Okay." Ranma tried to keep the slight disappointment out of his mental voice, although Haruka of course caught it. Even now, she didn't understand what had allowed him to resist for so long then when she knew his feelings, since he had let them slip too often. Of course now he had a wife that he very much loved. Mentally she said, "What we want is for you to well donate at this clinic and then, Michuru will have the child."
"Oh." He thought about it for a bit and then said in what he hoped was a neutral tone, "Okay."
Haruka hid a mental smirk at that. Yes, he did love Michuru and her, no matter how much he tried to hide it behind merely brotherly type affection, but she would never confront him about that. She owed him far too much. Having made the choice, he would never do the tiniest thing to risk the love he had found between him and Makoto, nor to harm their relationship in the smallest way.
He added, "But I have to ask Makoto if its okay."
It turned out that after a bit of hesitation Makoto was okay with it. She had grown closer to the outers, and they had often babysit for her. Nine months later Michuru gave birth to a healthy baby girl. By then Usagi had given birth to a girl herself. Ranma was suspecting a pattern, and it was later confirmed by Setsuna who said, that Senshi always gave birth to female children.
Two years later, Ranma was surprised by the request again, except this time Haruka of all people had volunteered. He agreed again, but almost regretted it, as the curse stayed locked throughout the entire pregnancy which kept him from spending time with Makoto.
She accepted it with a smile though, and somehow she seemed thrilled that Ranma might experience the joys of giving birth, even if second hand. She even made him promise to stay awake and paying attention when it happened. Fortunately, Ranma passed out during the event leaving Haruka to handle it by herself.
Yes, Setsuna smiled, things had worked out remarkably well. She even thought about finally fessing up, but decided that once again discretion was the better part of valor.
Author's Notes: Don't forget to leave a review, okay?