Ranma ½

Starting Over Book 1: The Truth Behind the Lie

Chapter 3 (Version 1.0 Monday 8/21/2006)

Written by Senshi of Valis and 5hadow Lady (Formerly Ch33t4h Girl)

"Good morning, Kasumi." Ranma said as Kasumi came down the steps for the morning. Ranma had actually woken up an hour before Kasumi had and did the same cleaning that she did the previous day as she tried to thing about how to repay Kasumi for her gifts.

"Good morning, Ranma." Kasumi said smiling, "What are you doing up so early?"

"I woke up early so went ahead and cleaned up down here." Ranma said before yawning causing her to blush a little. She was still a little tired but she couldn't afford to sleep in this morning any longer. She had to go to Sayuri's house soon since she promised to meet there for breakfast which was going to be a little tricky. She knew Akane was going to throw a fit over how late the redhead had stayed out and leaving this early was going to be a lot trickier and cause even more problems but if she didn't go the consequences threatened to be even worse.

"You didn't have to do this Ranma." Kasumi said, smiling even more.

"I wanted to Kasumi, and thank you so much for your presents." Ranma said as Kasumi hugged her which she nervously returned.

"Your very welcome, Ranma." Kasumi said, "And don't worry, I won't tell anyone."

"Thanks Kasumi." Ranma said as they spilt apart, "Was Akane mad that I got home late?"

"Akane spent the night at Yuka's so she doesn't know. She should be home this evening." Kasumi said.

"Great because I have to go out for awhile." Ranma said relieved that one disaster was averted.

"Where are you going?" Kasumi asked.

"I promised a friend I would spend the day with them." Ranma said, "Please if anyone asks though tell them I wanted to get away for awhile and do some training or something."

"Okay Ranma, you are staying for breakfast aren't you?" Kasumi asked.

"Sorry Kasumi, I need to get going now." Ranma said.

"Just be careful Ranma." Kasumi said as Ranma left the Tendo's and roof hopped across the early morning city towards Sayuri's. Luckily there were several lights on in the large building so she didn't arrive too early that she would be waking up everyone inside. Dropping down in front of the door she pressed the doorbell and waited patiently for someone to answer.

"Good morning, Ranma." Sayuri said dressed like Mimi from Digimon, a worried expression on her face. "I'm really sorry Ranma but my mom knows who you are and wants some answers about last night to. I didn't tell her anything but if you don't talk to her too she might go to your dad."

"Maybe I should lie." Ranma sighed.

"Maybe you should tell the truth young lady..man…or whoever you are." Sayuri's mom said coming up from behind Sayuri. "And why wouldn't you want your dad to know about this?"

"It's a long story…" Ranma sighed looking toward the ground.

"Call me Misato, all of Sayuri's friends do but I want a full explanation over breakfast which will be finished soon. Hope you like American food because that is what Maria made this morning but I asked her to make a lot more than usual." Misato said leading Ranma in with Sayuri walking next to her, "Let's get to the dinning room before the food gets cold."

Ranma followed into the dinning room but wasn't too sure what she was going to find but a small table big enough for four, maybe six people wasn't it. On the table was serving platters with French toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, biscuits, sausage links, syrup, butter and honey with three place settings.

"Have a seat." Sayuri said as Misato and Sayuri sat across from each other and Ranma took the last seat at the end of the table between the other two. Seeing Sayuri and Misato bow there heads Ranma did the same as Misato said a prayer in thanks of the food and all the good people in their lives.

"Help yourself." Misato said after wards not moving to take anything as Sayuri and Ranma did. Ranma filled her plate with several pancakes, a few pieces of French toast and some of the eggs. She couldn't bring herself to touch the sausage though as it reminded her too much of Ryouga. "And how about that explanation while we eat, like are you a boy cursed to turn into a girl or are you a girl cursed to turn into a boy?"

"You have to promise not to tell anyone else about this." Ranma said pouring herself a glass of orange juice from the pitcher Sayuri handed her before sitting it back down.

"I'm sorry Ranma, but I can't do that until I know what is going on." Misato said, staring at Ranko making her nervous at the intense inspection. "But I have a feeling that you are much more than you seem. I talked to Ken last night before you two came and he talked so much about the little girl he adored who was so excited to learn from him. And yet you were only supposed to be cursed what, a year ago at most?"

"What?" Sayuri asked in shock staring at Ranma.

"You see Ranma, I know much more than you may think." Misato said making the color drain from Ranma's face.

"I'm so sorry, Sayuri." Ranma sighed putting her fork down and staring at her food.

"But what about your dad, is he really a panda or something?" Sayuri asked.

"No, the other cursed victims here are what they seem because they were cursed as the training grounds." Ranma said, "I was cursed at the hot springs which is the opposite."

"Then why do you pretend to be a guy?" Misato asked curiously though there was no anger in her face and a glance at Sayuri only showed confusion.

"If you tell anyone this…I can get in a lot of trouble with my dad." Ranma said.

"Ranko, why are you afraid of your dad finding out about this?" Misato asks, "Does he hurt you?"

"You told." Ranma said glaring at Sayuri.

"You knew about this?" Misato asked looking at Sayuri demanding to know the answer.

"She didn't tell you?" Ranma asked looking back at Misato.

"Ranma, I made you a promise and my promises are important to me." Sayuri said.

"How long did you know?" Misato asked.

"You might as well tell her, Sayuri." Ranma sighed as she slumped in the chair.

"Mom, I'm sorry. I found out yesterday but I promised Ranma that I wouldn't tell anyone." Sayuri said, "Please don't be angry."

"Honey, I'm proud that you kept your promise but under these circumstances you should never keep quiet." Misato said, "I'm calling the police."

"Wait…Please." Ranma said, "My dad is too dangerous for the police but he won't do anything as long as we are staying at the Tendo's. I just need a little more time, Cologne is helping me with it."

"The old woman who owns that Chinese restaurant?" Misato asked.

"Yes, she is an elder of an Amazon village in China and she is helping me with this but if Genma finds out now…I just need a little more time." Ranma begged.

"I will make you a deal, Ranko." Misato said, "You can come here any time and I would like to see more of you but if I find out that he hurts you in any way I will be calling the police. If you don't come here and check in with me I will also call the police but as long as he doesn't do anything I will let it go for now."

"Thank you." Ranma said.

"Ranma, why exactly do you have to pretend to be a boy? If Akane knew the truth then maybe she wouldn't act the way she does toward you." Sayuri said.

"Honey, the way Akane acts isn't right to anyone like I said before." Misato said.

"My dad believes women are weak and worthless, they don't deserve to practice the art so he raised me to act like a man. He knew of the curses and had it planned all along." Ranma said, "I don't know if Soun knows the truth or not but they made that stupid marriage arrangement a long time ago."

"I see." Misato sighed, "Well, I won't say anything to anyone for the time being as long as you keep your part of the deal."

"Thank you." Ranma sighed with relief.

"Sayuri, did you get that Hikaru costume you wanted for Ranko?" Misato asked.

"Is that your real name?" Sayuri asked. "Sorry, mom, thank you I got it."

"Yeah…Ranma is the name I had to go by ever since I was little but I never forgot that my real name is Ranko." Ranko sighed.

"Let's finish our breakfast before it gets any colder." Misato said getting a couple pancakes for herself.

"So you are really a girl?" Sayuri asked again after they finished breakfast and headed to her room to get changed for the convention. Ranma was sitting on the edge of her bed dressed just like Hikaru from Magic Knight Rayerth which was something she always wanted to do.

"Yeah, I'm sorry I lied to you." Ranma said sadly as Sayuri playing with what looked like a real digivice.

"You didn't have a choice but what should I call you now?" Sayuri asked a little confusion in her voice.

"In public you have to call me Ranma but when we are alone I would like to be called Ranko…it's my real name and it feels so good to have someone finally know the truth." Ranko said admiring the jewel in her glove. "That is if you ever want to hang out with me ever again."

"Even before I knew you were a girl I wanted to be your friend Ranma…Ranko." Sayuri said, "And just because I find out that you are really a girl doesn't mean that that is going to stop."

"Thanks Sayuri." Ranko said looking up smiling at Sayuri, her eyes glistening with unshed tears.

"Hey, don't cry you'll ruin the makeup." Sayuri said.

"Thanks Sayuri." Ranko said.

"I'll be right back, Ranko." Sayuri said leaving the room and leaving Ranko alone with her thoughts. She couldn't believe that Sayuri and her mother both accepted Ranko for who she was but would they still accept her if the found out everything? If she told them though she had no delusions of them sicking the police on Genma but would they even really give a damn about her after finding out? She wanted to believe that they would but she still couldn't tell them because she didn't want Genma to kill anyone else.

"Okay, I'm ready." Sayuri said coming back into the room though Ranko didn't recognize her at first with the blue long haired wig and dressed like Umi from the Magic Knights. "I thought it would be kind of cool if we went with matching costumes."

"You look great." Ranko said as Sayuri took her hand and pulled her off the bed.

"Thanks." Sayuri beamed as she led Ranko downstairs just as Misato was finishing loading a van with several boxes with the help of a few guys.

"You girls ready?" Misato asked, "I'll give you a lift."

"Sure." Sayuri said.

"You know if you two want you can model your outfits for awhile this morning." Misato said, "I have another girl that will be there modeling a Fuu costume and I'll pay you both the same amount I'm paying her."

"Really?" Sayuri asked excitedly.

"I don't know." Ranko said a little nervously. The biggest reason she wanted to go the convention to begin with was to see Ken and he already left. The reason she was going today was to try and have a little fun hanging out with her new friend.

"Please, it will be fun." Sayuri said giving her best puppy dog eyes.

"I guess so, I guess it could be fun." Ranko said earning a glomp from the excited Umi look alike. She was hoping that she wasn't going to see anyone she knew because a second day of going was actually pushing her luck but she wanted to make her new friend happy.

"Ranko dear, if at anytime you feel uncomfortable doing this you can stop." Misato said smiling a little at Ranko.

"Thank you, Misato." Ranko said.

"You know Ranko, I think I changed my mind about you calling me Misato." Misato said smiling a little as the two teens separated.

"Y-You did?" Ranko asked worried that she may have somehow angered her.

"Yes dear, how about calling me Auntie instead?" Misato asked.

"Really?" Ranko asked excitedly.

"Of course sweetie." Misato said just before Ranko glomped the older woman.

"Thank you so much." Ranko said happily.

"You are a part of this family now Ranko so if you ever need anything feel free to ask. My door will always be open to you." Misato said pushing Ranko away gently while holding her shoulders and looking into the young redhead's eyes. "It doesn't matter what it is or when it is."

"Thanks Auntie." Ranko said.

"You are welcome dear." Misato said kissing Ranko's cheek, "Now come on you two we have to get going or we will be late."

The three piled into the van and Misato started it up while Ranko and Sayuri both sat on the two seats right behind the front seats.

"Buckle up girls." Misato said.

"It feels so strange." Ranko whispered as she buckled her safety belt.

"What does?" Misato asked looking in the rearview mirror at Ranko.

"To be treated like this after so long…Like a real girl…" Ranko said hugging herself. "It feels so good to be able to not hide who I am and for people to accept me for who I am."

"I wish I talked to you sooner Ranko, I'm so sorry for letting Akane influence me so much over you." Sayuri said, her voice carrying how much she was beating herself up over it as the regret and sadness was unmistakable.

"Sayuri…Please…It isn't your fault, it's my father's." Ranko said leaning over to take Sayuri's hand and squeeze it. "Thank you so much for the last two days, for giving me the happiest time in my life for so long."

"Well, there will be lots more times if I have anything to say about it." Sayuri said with a smile.

"If both of us have anything to say about it, Sayuri." Misato said, "Remember what I said Ranko, you are a part of this family."

"Thanks Auntie, Sayuri." Ranko replied.

"You are very welcome dear." Misato said, "Are you girls ready?"

"Yeah mom." Sayuri said as Ranko let go of her hand.

"Yes Auntie." Ranko said as Misato put the vehicle in gear and slowly pulled out of the drive and onto the street, the gates closing behind them.

"Auntie…You make all of these costumes?" Ranko asked.

"A lot of them dear though Sayuri helps out a lot." Misato said, "My family owns several major hobby and toy stores in Japan that sales anything from toys and models to some of the highest quality costumes for cosplaying. It isn't our biggest ventures but it is one of my sister and my favorites."

"Wow." Ranko said surprised. It sounded a lot bigger than Ranko first thought but then again to have a home like Sayuri's one had to have been making a good deal of money.

"Mom is the best costume designer in Japan." Sayuri said.

"I'm not really the best, dear. You know your aunts are just as good if not better." Misato said.

"It sounds like you have a large family." Ranko said wistfully.

"We do but I admit some of it is messed up." Misato said, frowning a little. "I know you met my nephew and niece. While I do love them I can't stand them, they refuse any help anyone tries to give them as they kind of started growing mad after their mother, one of my sisters, passed away. My brother is working on restoring the family name but after all the crap Kodachi and Tatewaki has done and that insane Hawaiian wannabe it is proving to be a difficult task. I'm glad that all our companies are in my husband's name otherwise they would probably go bankrupt."

"Kuno…You have got to be joking." Ranko said shocked, "You are related to those psychos?"

"Sadly." Sayuri said, "But we aren't like them Ranko so please don't worry."

"I'm not Sayuri, I'm just a little surprised." Ranko said.

"We're here girls." Misato said pulling into the vendor's spaces and parking the van. "Could you girl's help unload some of this stuff?"

"Sure." Ranko said getting out of the van following Sayuri and Misato to the back. Misato opened the back of the van and pointed to some smaller boxes.

"These aren't really too heavy." Misato said, "That box though is and we will probably have to get a couple of the guys to help unload it."

"I'll get it." Ranko said pulling the large box out and lifting it easily, "There isn't any use bothering someone else Auntie."

"Wow." Misato said in awe, "You really are strong."

"Years of training it the art." Ranko said as Misato moved to help her.

"Its okay Auntie, this is nothing." Ranko said.

"Are you sure?" Misato asked a little worried.

"I'm sure." Ranko said.

"Okay." Misato said as she grabbed the last couple of boxes and shut the door. "Let's get inside then."

The three walked toward the side entrance when a girl with blonde hair came out dressed like Fuu as Misato had said there would be.

"Great, you're here, we was starting to get a little worried." The Fuu look alike said.

"Sorry, my daughter and niece decided that they would like to join you today showing off our Rayearth costumes." Misato said letting the blonde take one of the boxes she was carrying.

"Oh wow, they look great." Fuu said.

"Thanks." Sayuri and Ranko said at the same time though Ranko was a little nervous and confused. Why did Misato refer to Ranko as her niece?

The four of them walked into the building making their way through the small early morning crowd of people setting up for the day. The convention wasn't yet open to the public yet for the day as everyone was setting up and getting ready for business. They quickly arrived at their booth where there were even more people from yesterday.

There were two guys there, one dressed as Cloud Strife and the other as Sephiroth, both characters from Final Fantasy seven. The girls while the same as the previous day also had a few new additions to their group. A few of them making Ranko look in shock, the clothes that they were wearing did little to hide assets that rivaled Ranko's if not outright making hers look small. There was Tiffa from Final Fantasy seven, Ayame from Dead or Alive, Nuku Nuku from Nuku Nuku, Kei from the Dirty Pair, Felicia from Vampire Savior, Lum from Lum and finally Fuu from Magic Knight Rayearth.

Ranko was shocked at the way some of them was dressed, it was something that she couldn't ever fathom wearing herself. Every movement by the most scantily clad girls threatened to spill their large breasts out for everyone to see. The two guys kept ogling the girls which sickened Ranko and yet memories of how her male body would be reacting made it even worse.

"Ranko…Hey Ranko." Sayuri said shaking Ranko out of her thoughts.

"Sorry." Ranko said a little uneasily, a part of her wanting to curl up and cry. She hated feeling this way and it disgusted her knowing exactly what was making the guy's bodies react in the way they did. The curses usually added a kind of instincts that made the curse forms feel natural so that the victims wouldn't go crazy but with everything that happened to her and the constant changes including hormones made her hate herself all the more.

"Let's check out some of the manga mom brought." Sayuri suggested, obviously trying to get Ranko's mind off what ever was bothering her.

"Sure." Ranko said trying to shove the dark thoughts out of her head. The only thing they ever did was hurt and confuse her and she didn't want that. She was here to have fun and she intended to.

She followed Sayuri over to a self set up in Misato's area that was already lined with many DVDs and games. Misato was just opening the box Ranko carried in to reveal it stuffed full of manga which Sayuri started to help put on the shelf.

"How did that get in there?" Misato asked pulling out a strange book. Ranko's attention was drawn to it as she swore she felt a strange power coming from it but that was impossible, it was just a book wasn't it?

"What is it?" Ranko asked softly.

"I'm not sure, I can't get the lock to open on it since I got it." Misato said handing it to Ranko whose eyes were now glues to the cover. It was a red book with a latch on it with a sun design on it chained around what looked like a winged wild cat or something with the words, "The Clow." Written across the top. "I bought a whole case of used books for one of my shops and that was one of them."

"You like it, Ranko?" Sayuri asked as Ranko nodded.

"You can have it if you want sweetie. I never got it open because I didn't want to damage the book but maybe you will have better luck." Misato said.

"Thank you Auntie." Ranko said, finally breaking her eyes free from the book and looking up at the elder woman happily.

"Come on Ranko, they are opening the doors." Sayuri said pulling Ranko with her to join Fuu.

The next couple of hours went by quickly and while she was extremely nervous at first Ranko quickly loosened up and started having fun, joking and laughing with Sayuri and Fuu as people came by wanting to get pictures taken with them or of them which Ranko relented to after seeing how much fun Sayuri was having doing it and she learned that she did too when she started. It was great meeting all of these new people and seeing the happy looks on their faces.

"I'm sorry honey, but I don't have enough money for that after paying to get in." A woman said to a little girl who was looking longingly at a DVD at the next booth. "They only gave me enough to get in so we can write the story and take a few pics for it. Maybe we can find another one when I get paid."

Ranko felt sorry for the little girl as she finally moved off with the woman who Ranko believed was the girl's mom to the next booth writing down notes as she talked to who she thought was a manga artist. Ranko went to the booth with the DVD the girl wanted and picked it up to look at. It was actually kind of expensive, the price obviously inflated for some reason or another but Ranko pulled out the money she had left that Cologne gave her and gave the money to the man who seemed to have a hateful attitude. If it wasn't for the little girl Ranko would have told the man to shove the DVD somewhere not so nice.

Taking the DVD she followed the woman and little girl and smiled at them when they looked up at her.

"Can we help you?" The woman asked a little nervously.

"Well you see…There was this contest for…The cutest kid and well you see your daughter won this." Ranko said handing the little girl the DVD then giving the woman what little money she had left. It wasn't much but it should cover lunch for both the woman and girl

"We…I can't take this." The woman said sadly though her eyes looked hungrily at the money.

"Yes you can." Ranko said, "Like I said you won a contest."

"Thank you." The woman said pulling her camera out. "May I please take a picture of you?"

"Sure, I guess." Ranko said a little nervously.

"Thank you, can I please get my daughter in the shot to?" The woman asked.

"Sure." Ranko said as she knelt down next to the girl wrapping an arm around her as the woman took their picture.

"My name is Yuriko Himura." The woman said offering her hand.

"Ranko Saotome." Ranko said getting up and taking the woman's hand.

"We have to be going but I hope to see you again sometime." Yuriko said as she took the little girl's hand and walked away.

"That was very nice." Sayuri said from behind Ranko startling the redhead.

"Don't do that." Ranko gasped clutching her chest while trying to catch her breath from that scare.

"Sorry." Sayuri said giggling, "Still that was a very nice thing to do."

"I kind of…Do that a lot." Ranko said smiling as she looked to where the now happy girl was with her mother taking more pictures. "I like to help people anyway I can."

"That's great, Ranko." Sayuri said.

"It is." Misato said from behind the two girls startling them. She handed them each some money which Ranko hesitantly took. "Thank you both for your help this morning, thanks to you my Rayearth costumes was my best sellers. Go have some fun now, I'll meet you tonight Sayuri and Ranko don't forget to come by often."

"Thanks mom." Sayuri said.

"I will, Auntie, thank you." Ranko said as Misato hugged them both then went back to her booth with Ranko watching wistfully. "Your mother is really nice. I wish my mom was still alive…"

"What happened to her, Ranko?" Sayuri asked softly.

"She died when I was really little, I can't even remember what she looked like anymore. I wish I had a picture or something of her but…My dad destroyed any pictures that we must have had because I looked through his pack once and there wasn't any pictures…At least not any I would want to talk about." Ranko said.

"I'm sorry, Ranko." Sayuri said hugging Ranko.

"Sayuri…I don't know if…If this is going to work out." Ranko said sadly pulling away from Sayuri. "I…I don't deserve you as a friend…I really don't deserve anybody."

"What are you talking about, of course you do." Sayuri said.

"You forgot this." Misato said interrupting the two girls' hushed conversation and handed Ranko the book she had earlier.

"Thanks Auntie." Ranko said taking the book carefully and hugging it to her chest.

"Is something wrong dear?" Misato asked a little worried.

"No Auntie, I'm okay." Ranko said smiling up at the woman, "We're just going to look around a little."

"Okay honey but remember that I'm always here for you." Misato said kissing Ranko's cheek.

"I will, thank you Auntie." Ranko said grabbing Sayuri's hand and dragging the girl into the crowds of people milling around the large convention. Lights and music along with loud people talking with one another distracting Ranko as well as her thoughts drowning out Sayuri's warnings until she bumped right into Yuka.

"Hey, watch where you are going." Akane demanded angrily seeing what happened.

"Sorry Akane." Sayuri said as Ranko turned away from them ready to run when she saw a display of sunglasses right next to her. She grabbed a pair and ripped the tag off them and put them on. The man was about to get up when she pulled out more than enough money and tossed it and the tag at him.

"Ranma?" Akane asked in surprise.

"That's not Ranma, Akane." Yuka said, "Her hair is way too long and since when would Ranma wear a dress willingly outside of messing with Ryouga or fighting Happosai and I haven't seen any destruction."

"Hey…Your that girl who beat that street fighter yesterday, aren't you?" The man with the sunglasses asked shoving a notepad and pen at her. "Ranko, right? Could I please have your autograph?"

"Ranko? Your Sayuri's cousin? I thought she was supposed to have died a long time ago." Akane asked in shock.

"We…We found out recently that she was alive, Akane but she's really shy and doesn't like talking to new people." Sayuri said, "She's had a rough childhood."

"I'm so sorry." Akane said sadly.

"Its okay, Akane, it wasn't your fault." Sayuri said but Ranko could detect some anger in her words as she thought about the cousin comment. "We have to get going though, Akane, we have to go do a few things."

"We can come with you." Yuka suggested.

"How about that autograph?" The man asked again prompting her to take the notebook and pen and sign it before the man drew even more attention to her.

"I'm sorry but I need to spend some time alone with my cousin today, I'll see you two later." Sayuri said grabbing Ranko's hand nervously after the redhead returned the notebook and dragged her through the crown away from Akane and Yuka and out the front door.

"Sayuri?" Ranko asked a little nervously after they were a few blocks away from the convention center, "What was Akane talking about Ranko dieing a long time ago?"

"Let's…Lets go to the park and find somewhere we can talk alone." Sayuri said, sadness permeating her voice as she started to the park with Ranko following. It didn't take long for the two of them to reach the nearby park where there weren't too many people hanging around. Sayuri led Ranko into the trees and found a perfect shaded place to rest and talk. The two of them sat down under a large tree and Sayuri sighed heavily.

"Ranko…I didn't want to tell you and it was hard getting my mom agree to not mention it after she found out last night because…She thinks that…She thought at first that you were our Ranko." Sayuri said rubbing her eyes a little. "Ranko…I didn't want you to think that we were only nice to you because of that. I wanted to be your friend before I found out your real name and I want you to be my friend now. I…I just didn't want you to think that we were just trying to replace her with you and…I'm sorry Ranko."

"It's okay." Ranko said smiling a little, "I understand but…If you don't mind my asking…What happened to your Ranko?"

"My aunt…She was attacked and left for dead not long after having Ranko. I don't know the whole story but she was kidnapped by her father Genryu Saishi but he was a wanted criminal and he ended up killing both him and Ranko when he refused to turn himself in when trapped in a bad fire." Sayuri explained crying a little.

"I'm so sorry." Ranko said hugging Sayuri tightly.

"Its okay, Ranko." Sayuri said finally pulling away after crying for a few minutes and rubbed her eyes. "Hey, let's look at that book you got."

"I guess." Ranko said pulling out her new book and handed it to Sayuri.

"It's really neat looking." Sayuri said trying to get the clasp to release having no luck at it. "I can't get it to open."

"I'll try." Ranko said taking the book and looking at the clasp. As soon as her finger touched it she felt a jolt of electricity travel up her finger and up her arm. The clasp let loose and she gently opened the cover and stared at a deck of large cards lying inside the pages where a space for them was cut out of the pages. Picking the top one up she looked at it entranced. She opened her mouth slowly as she started to read the words on the card out loud. "Windy…"

A circle of light appeared under Ranko as intricate designs appeared in it just before a strong wind formed around it whipping around the immediate area violently making her cross her arms in front of her eyes to protect them from the dirt that was flying as Sayuri did the same thing.

"What's happening?" Sayuri screamed over the loud howl of the wind just before it died down with the circle of light disappearing.

'Wh-what was that?" Ranko asked in shock looking back at the book finding it empty now, all the cards now gone except for the one card in her hand.

"I-I don't know?" Sayuri said nervously.

"What's going on?" A tired voice said, yawning from the book. Ranko dropped the book quickly in shock backing away from it and in front of Sayuri in case something attacked them.

"That hurt you know…" The voice said again as the book started glowing as what looked like a stuffed animal with wings rose out of the cover. "Oh no, the seal…Where's the cards."

"They sort of…Blew away." Ranko said lamely letting her guard down a little.

"THEY WHAT?" the thing screeched, "We have to get them back before someone gets hurt. How did they get loose anyways?"

"Well…You see…I kind of opened the book and read what the top card said. It said…" Ranko said.

"Don't say it!" the thing snapped. "Since you released them it is your responsibility to recapture them. You are the new cardcaptor."

"Sorry, but I can't." Ranko said, "There is way too much involved."

"You have to, no one else can do it. If you don't a lot of innocent people could get hurt." The thing continued crossing its arms. "You don't have a choice."

"I don't have a choice…" Ranko whispered, tears starting to fall. "I guess trash like me doesn't deserve to make choices…"

"Ranko, what's wrong?" Sayuri asked in concern moving to console the redhead.

"Don't touch me." Ranko sobbed, shaking her head. "Please…Don't touch me…"

"Ranko…I'm not going to hurt you." Sayuri said gently reaching out towards Ranko who kept backing away until she bumped into the tree. Sayuri carefully wrapped her arms around Ranko and held her as she cried, clutching Sayuri's blouse.

"I…I didn't mean it like that." The creature said flying up toward Ranko and Sayuri, "You do have a choice Ranko…I'm sorry…Its just that if you don't…The cards may go out of control and kill a lot of people without really meaning to. Someone needs to protect them and that someone has to be who opened the book. Only someone who could have opened it has the magic potential to control them."

"Will you please stop." Sayuri growled angrily as Ranko began to quiet down a little.

"To protect them…I can't even protect myself…What makes you think I can do anything to help anyone else." Ranko sniffled.

"Because, as guardian beast of the seal I can sense how good a candidate might be and besides Clow Reed you are the best that I have ever seen." The thing said.

"I'm worthless though…" Ranko said pulling away from Sayuri to look at the creature.

"No you are not, whoever told you that are full of it kid. I can see the potential in you to become just as good a sorcerer as Clow Reed himself if not better." The thing said.

"Do you really believe that?" Ranko asked hopefully.

"Of course I do kid." The creature said, "Please, help get the cards back before something bad happens."

"I guess I have to…It's a martial artist's duty to protect the weak." Ranko said.

"Are you sure, Ranko?" Sayuri asked with concern.

"Yeah…I guess I don't really have much of a choice." Ranko sighed, "If I don't do it people could die and…I've seen enough people die already that was my fault."

"Okay." The thing said pulling the book between Ranko and itself. "First off my name is Keroberos but in this fork you can just call me Kero. This here is the Clow Book, it was supposed to keep the cards powers sealed."

"Wait, you said you were guardian beast of the seal, right?" Sayuri asked, "Then why didn't you keep it from opening?"

"Well…You see…I've been in there for a long time and I was getting really tired so…I kind of took a nap." Kero said scratching the back of his head nervously.

"Great, all this because you were slacking off." Sayuri said a little angrily.

"Hey, it's not like that." Kero snapped.

"Please don't argue." Ranko sighed, "Kero, what do I have to do?"

"First you have to make a contract with the book and get the Key of Clow." Kero explained, "Just follow my lead."

"Okay…" Ranko said unsure of what to expect.

"Oh Book of Clow, this girl Ranko wishes to contract with you to gain the Key to capture the cards." Kero said then waved at Ranko.

"Please, oh Book of Clow, grant me your powers to protect people." Ranko said as the circle of light appeared again, a gentle breeze tracing its perimeter before closing in tighter causing Ranko's clothes and hair to flutter around. Ranko instinctly reached her hand out as a little bird headed key appeared above it spinning around. Ranko closed her hands around it as it elongated in a pinkish bird headed staff. The wind died down as the circle of light faded away.

"Great job, Ranko." Kero said happily while the redhead looked at the staff in awe.

"It's beautiful…And I can feel the power coursing through it…Through me." Ranko whispered without taking her gaze off the staff.

"Oh well, Ranko." Sayuri said in surprise, "I guess this makes you a magical girl."

"No…I can't…If he finds out…" Ranko said shaking her head furiously.

"Relax Ranko, I'll help you. I'll supply the costumes and even tape it for prosperity." Sayuri said a little excited, "I'll be your sidekick, it'll be fun Ranko."

"I don't know…" Ranko said worriedly as she stared at Sayuri unsure what to think. Sayuri had tried to comfort her and was now volunteering to put her life at risk helping catch these so called cards and wasn't even demanding anything in exchange. She wasn't trying to marry or kill her and was only asking to be friends. She wasn't sure at first but Ranko was beginning to realize that it was real, Sayuri wanted to be her friend. Ranko smiled at the girl happy to finally have one who had no ulterior motives, someone who treated her as if she was truly worth something. A large part of herself still believed that she was everything that her father had beat into her head for so long but Sayuri was giving her a reason to start having a little doubt in her father's words.

"I won't let you do this by yourself, Ranko." Sayuri said hugging the redhead, "Friends help each other and we are friends, right."

"Y…Yeah, thanks Sayuri." Ranko said smiling.

AN: Thanks for all the reviews and support to everyone who has read this so far. I'm very glad so many of you seem to be enjoying this story so far. I have half of the next chapter already finished so far plus the karoke scene mostly written for the last chapter to add to it. Please read and review, leave any suggestions or ideas and please constructive criticism.

This chapter had some of the changes that will affect book two such as changing where Ranko got the Clow Cards at as well as a few others. Hopefully it will make the story a lot better though.

Until Next Time,

Ja Ne