Disclaimer: Don't own Ranma ½ or Sailor Moon.
This assumes that anything that happened in the Sailor Moon Anime past the point of Beryl did not happen. No Moonlight Knight. (Thank god, He's worse then Tux!) This is an Alternate Universe fic diverging at the point where Beryl is defeated.
Since I'm generally a post-cannon man, this is a new one for me. Hope you all enjoy. I'm going for epic on this one so no quick chapters. Sorry bout that. Looking for a pre-reader too.
Oh? Did I mention it's a fukufic? Will be anyways. My first. Hope ya like!
And now, on with the story! Prepare to have your little eyes drama-d out. This is gonna be a sad one.
Every right begets a wrong.
For every young there is an old.
Every silence begets a song.
For every silver there is a…
-Gin and Kin-
-Three Months Ago-
"Boy, you're obsessing." Read the strange sign held by a tall, wide panda watching his, or more accurately it's, female son jab repeatedly at the air in an intricate pattern.
"Who cares?" She retorted snidely, having come to accept the wooden signs as nigh on clear speech these days. "Thought you'd be proud, pop."
The Panda looked down at his folded paws in a remorseful way. "I am! Er… I would be, but…"
"Just lay off, Oya—" Ranma bit her lip, and gave a sad sigh. "Otousan."
Even Ranma, as depressed as she was at the moment, couldn't stave off the chuckle the image of a panda with a gaping dropped maw brought to her lips.
"I'll be fine. I'm… heh heh… I'm Ranma Saotome. I don't lose." He said.
Despite the finality of her statement, Ranma didn't really feel the usual burst her pride should have gotten from that. Nothing seemed to be normal anymore.
It took almost five minute for the panda to get its head screwed on straight after that one. It did sooner or later though, and the solemn mood returned to the dojo, along with the sounds of lightning fast kicks and punches that targeted unwitting air molecules.
The panda sighed and pulled out a sign and began writing.
"Ranma, I know I'm not the best fath… heh… old man…"
"Got that one right." Ranma muttered.
"I'm being serious here!" The sign which had just caused the huge welt on Ranma's skull read next.
Ranma grumbled. "Bein' serious don't have'ta hurt so much…" She mumbled under her breath, this time not loud enough for the enigmatic panda to hear, whilst rubbing her head.
"Ranma." The next sign was decidedly astute and Ranma had the impression that she could hear her father saying the words being written, in his sometimes serious tone.
"You're, well… You're my boy Ranma. The only boy I got. I maybe didn't do the best job but... I think ya' turned out pretty good in spite of me. Ranma. I don't know what I would do if I lost you, son. So, no matter what, you'll always be m'boy to me. Just needed to… to let you know."
All of that was written in four signs that struck Ranma with their heartfelt words and message. "Pops…"
Suddenly a loud rumble echoed from the Panda's stomach ruining the moment utterly. "I'm… I'm gonna go get some bamboo!" The panda's next sign read. "Kasumi has a great batch from the North-Western Chinese region today!"
And with that the panda, a large sweat-drop trailing the back of his head, left Ranma alone, staring at the door.
"Pops…" She murmured again, touched. "Th-thanks pops." She whispered to herself.
Her father was usually little more than an eccentric, bald, overbearing, annoying, idiot, who, on rare occasion, had a decent trick up his sleeve. But… every now and then he proved that he really did care about his son.
A tear came dangerously close to leaking from her eye and the red-head blinked quickly. "Dammit." She breathed, slamming her hard fist into the ground. She knelt and then looked up. The roof was in her way but it didn't stop her from talking to her intended bane of existence. "Why me…?"
God did not answer her, nor did she care to wait for him to do so. But she did have words form him. "Guess I should be thankful… without the curse… I'd already be dead." She murmured to herself ruefully. The words didn't make her feel one bit better about all this, no matter how true they were.
She returned to her rigorous training, telling herself over and over again she should be thankful for the scapegoat from reality her curse had become.
'Do I even want to live on like this though…? Knowing that… that this is it… for the rest of my life?' She thought. In truth she was afraid, on both accounts. Afraid of dying. Afraid of surviving but never being able to return to her original form.
'Akane. You'll lose Akane.' She thought to herself.
She shivered unwillingly. It had been a shock to find that the biggest fear she received from knowing that she could no longer become male, was not the loss of her masculinity, but was the resulting loss of Akane as her fiancée.
At the rate Akane was going now, her gender wouldn't matter anyway. The girl had been in a coma for the past two weeks ever since Saffron. She was fading too, and Ranma didn't know what to do. The burns were extensive but healing apparently. Even if they didn't heal, that didn't matter to Ranma.
At a complete loss, nothing new for her considering the past few weeks, Ranma walked to the shrine at the far end of the dojo and did something she'd never seen herself doing. She light the incense sticks and knelt.
"God… Or ancestors? Or… well anyone who listens to this frequency… I know… I know ya like pickin' on me a lot. But… I got no one else to turn to. I… I wanna ask you ta help Akane. I want her to wake up! I need to see her smile again! Hear her laugh… Ask her advice…"
A tear really did trail down her eye this time. "Tell her I… I love her."
The incense smell filled the room and Ranma felt a nostalgic wave pass through her reminding her of all the temples and shrines she'd trained at over the years. Reminding her of Soun, too, and his prayers.
The red-head prayed on after taking a moment to collect her thoughts and her words. "Y-you can do whatever ya' want to me. I don't mind, as long as she… makes it. O-okay? Not just for me either… her family's fallin' to pieces. An' Ryoga too! He loves her, an he ain't afraid to say it like I am… even Kuno. And her… she… she deserves to live! It was my fault she got involved with all that crap anyways. So… so please help her. O-okay? Uhm… That's all."
Feeling incredibly awkward, Ranma stood and ceased the burning incense. Looking at the small clock, a new addition to the dojo, and reading the time, she made to leave the wooden room. It was visiting time.
As she opened the door to the dojo she suddenly heard a high pitched squeal. Turning back and looking across the room, Ranma saw nothing out of the ordinary. She shrugged and made to close the door.
Suddenly, a full blown squeal, much louder then the one before, and undeniably familiar, echoed throughout the dojo as a small black piglet charged forward, screeching bloody murder.
The pig lunged jumping directly at Ranma faster than even her uncanny reflexes could dodge… and… hugged her?
"Ryoga?" She mouthed again, looking down at the small piglet on her shoulder bawling its eyes out there.
Shock took her for a moment and the sheer surreal magnitude of the situation. After a moment to get her bearings straight, Ranma let her arms take a place, resting the piglet beneath them as Akane might have done.
"I know Ryoga… I'm sorry… buddy…" She cooed, petting the small animal that had once been her most embittered rival.
The squealing calmed slightly, but still the piglet cried on, taking comfort in Ranma for the first time in recorded history.
It was a moment or two before either moved; Ranma finally broke the strange moment. "Come on Ryoga. I'd get you some hot water but… Well… It's dangerous, and I don't think anyone else knows about this form of yours." She said sadly.
The pig, it's eyes still wet, nodded and then looked directly at the street pointing towards the hospital.
Ranma couldn't help but chuckle as she pointed in a different direction. "That way, idiot. I'll take you."
"Ranma! Ranma come quick! It's Akane! She woke up!" Came a sudden exclamation from the middle Tendo sister.
"R-really!?" Both Ranma and Ryoga's eyes shone with a hope neither had felt in two weeks.
"They just called us! C-come on! T-Take me! You're the fastest way there… I… I gotta see my baby sister…" Nabiki said, in a very unusual manner for said girl. Then she approached him rapidly wrapping a hand around his shoulder. "C-come on!" She gulped, yet still insisted all the same.
Nothing at all seemed to be normal any more.
Ranma looked to the sky for just a moment. "Maybe… maybe you really aren't all that bad…" She murmured.
"Ran—? OOF!" Nabiki exclaimed as she was scooped into the martial artist's hands, P-chan sliding from one shoulder to the other to avoid Nabiki's caressing arm; Ranma leapt dashing like his life depended on it to the hospital
-Sixteen Years Ago-
"My… M'Lady. The Crystal. It's… It's gone." Said the solemn voice of an elderly servant.
The woman, middle aged in appears shook involuntarily as her hands moved to her eyes.
"M-M'lady?" The servant quivered.
The woman's shoulders shook even more and a sob escaped from the finely honed cold exterior she'd shone for the past twenty millennia or so.
"Finally…" She whispered, hands buried in her face, as she sank to her knees.
"My Lady!" The servant exclaimed, trying to understand what was happening.
"Rubos… I'm… I'm finally free… After so long… so long… I'm…"
"Not quite yet." Came a harsh male voice, also appearing around his middle ages.
"Tai-sama!" The woman exclaimed, first in shock. Then again in utter elation. "TAI-SAMA!!"
She dashed to the man in full-scaled, black, battle armor, his black hair hanging loosely and short about his head. A symbol of a crescent moon resided in the middle of his forehead, shining a brilliant silver as radiant as the ore itself in its purest form.
In her rush she grapple the man, he not even unbalanced in the slightest by her full weight slamming into him.
"Tai-sama…" The woman wept, crying into his cold, hard armor.
It took some time, but the man did find a way to circle his hands around her tiny, tall form; her black hair cascaded down and fell over a white dress that had not faded, been dirtied, or changed in the past quarter of a hundred thousand years she'd worn it.
"Mai…" He breathed heavily. "Mai… You haven't changed a bit…"
Mai pulled away, anguished at the inches she was forced to move from her heart to stare up into his eyes. "You got hairier." She giggled, running her nimble fingers along the stubble he had all about his face.
The man grimaced, but looked at her affectionately. "Mai… I finally awoke maybe a fifth of a rotation ago. Just now… Just now, the Crystal… it's gone I assume? Yes… It let me free.
"What does this mean, Tai-sama?" Mai asked, staring into his eyes still.
The servant Rubos looked on in joy as his Mistress was finally reunited with the love of her life. A joyous day indeed.
The man in armor sighed looking at the woman and closed his eyes. Drinking in the questioned. His mind thought Then he began to recite a poem.
"First child to keep,
The father who held,
The mother to weep.
Last child to seal,
The father who held,
Till reborn beau ideal."
Mai looked at the man she loved with a half lidded stare. "What under the Leian Sky does that mean?" She half-shouted at the man.
"It means, my dear, that I can… no… we can finally get our long awaited revenge… The crystal has gone to find its master. All we must do is find it… then finally we can have our revenge." Said the man with a sinister smile.
Mai didn't understand why. Her memories of ages past were little more than vague glimpses. But for some reason, her heart leapt with as much joy at the thought of revenge as it had with the sight of Tai.
'But… who?' She thought sadly, wishing she could remember who's throat it was she so desperately wanted to slit. 'Who?'
-Three Months Ago-
They arrived at the hospital in record time, not bothering to use doors or getting feeble things such as doctor's permission to enter, simply jumping through the second story window of the room Akane lay in.
"Akane!? Akane!" Both Nabiki and Ranma shouted in synch. P-chan squealed his usual bwee for added effect.
And there she was. She sat there, staring down at her hands in wonder. Her eyes were glistening in confusion and a plethora of other emotions Ranma couldn't have understood if he'd been born a girl. Bandages covered her everywhere and her hair had been cut to a slim crop, less than half its old length. Oddly, that had fascinated Ranma when he'd first seen her.
"A-Akane-chan!" Nabiki screamed. She dashed forward, after struggling out of Ranma's arms ungratefully and pouncing atop her younger sister.
"Nabiki?" Ranma exclaimed in surprise as she watched Nabiki weep on her sister's shoulder. It was the first time Ranma had ever seen the unflappable middle Tendo bawl. Over the past few days, she'd seen the girl cry. A tear here, a wince there… but this…
Akane smiled and grappled her elder sister, wrapping her arms around the older girl. The smile wasn't a happy one.
"A-Akane… You can't die… you can't scare us like that!" Nabiki sniffed untidily but she plowed on, backing up to stare into her little sister's eyes.
Akane's face hung down as Nabiki yelled but that only served to irate the girl further. "Well!? A-are you gonna say somethin'? I… was so worried, I… A-Akane…?"
Ranma just watched, beaming at the girl, a hand across her heart, breathing in relief such that she had never known, even after she woke up for those few moments after Saffron was defeated. She was awake… she was alive! She…
"A-Akane… what's wrong with your neck? Th-there weren't any bandages there yes… ter…" She followed Akane's gaze and found at the door a solemn looking man she'd become quite familiar with.
"Dr. Aikawa! Wh-what is… What happened!?" Nabiki asked frantically.
The doctor gave a long sigh. He was a chubby short man, quite the opposite of Dr. Tofu in every way save competence. And he was competent, as he had shown in saving the girl's life, at least, not to mention how collected he kept himself when faced with Ranma's own unique problem. Now, only in his late twenties, he looked a tired old man of fifty. "I'm… sorry, Ms. Tendo. Mr. Saotome. We… we were so busy trying to heal the extensive burn damage to her body that we only found out about this when she… when she woke up."
Akane only looked on, silently.
"Akane!? T-tomboy? What's wrong?" Ranma asked, desperately. "She's alright now? Right doc? She's okay! She woke up! She finally woke up! So… so everything's okay now!? Right?" Ranma realized she was practically begging as she looked from her tomboy to the doctor and back again but she didn't care.
"Bwee!!!" Came Ryoga's ecstatic yet similar squeal.
Akane's face went from silent and somber to tomboy in an instant as she glared death at Ranma and launched a random magazine at Ranma.
Ranma didn't even think of dodging. The impact blew her face back but she managed to keep her footing, a red mark imbedded straight up her face.
Even so, the girl was leaping in joy inside. Her tomboy was a-oh-kay!
She recoiled and stared straight expecting to see the killing face of her fiancée and hear a "Ranma no baka!" any minute… but…
"Mr. Saotome. Akane's… we don't really understand how it happened… but… her vocal cords have been completely… I… I don't really know how to explain it. They've been erased. Not burned, or torn out… just… erased. As if they never existed. I… there's no easy way to say this… Your fiancée will never speak again, Ranma."
With those words Ranma's entire world dropped. "A… Akane… I…"
Ranma stared into her fiancées eyes. The anger that had been there before had melted away into a cold, bitter face that looked simply… unnatural on the uncu… dammit… on the face of the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.
She took a step back… then another. There was no blame in Akane's eyes but Ranma felt there was. She felt the weight of Akane's affliction on her shoulders a hundred fold. Her own troubles… her own suffering… what did that matter?
She would've sliced her own hand off to hear a "Ranma no baka…" that minute. What was gender when…?
The red-head slumped to the floor staring shamefully at her feet. What could she do? How could she possibly make this up to…?
"I-Its… all my fault…" Ranma murmured.
"Nnnn…" was the sound that emanated from Akane's lips. It was a hiss created by air rushing through her teeth, but it definitely signaled the negative.
Ranma looked up to find chocolate brown eyes staring back at her. They weren't sad eyes. They were…
The girl pushed Nabiki off herself slightly. Despite the bandages she swung her legs over the bed and placed her burned, bandaged, feet on the cold tile floor.
"A-Akane! Y-you can't be up and walking around yet! L-lay back—!" Ranma tried, rising to her knees.
Akane promptly silenced her with a swift chop through the air that quite plainly stated 'shut up.' Then she left herself stand and found Nabiki with a gentle hand on her back.
Ranma stood and came to the taller girl looking up into her eyes. "I…Gomen… Akane… I…"
Suddenly, Akane grappled him in a hug so fierce that Ranma felt the wind knocked out of her for a moment.
"Akane!" "Imouto!" Came two desperate shouts from behind the doctor standing in the doorway.
Akane looked at the doctor and then over her shoulder to Nabiki. Her mouth opened but nothing came forth.
The doctor didn't understand the gesture but Nabiki knew her sister well enough to know what the girl wanted.
She hopped off the bed, staring at her younger sister. 'Poor Akane-chan…' she thought sadly. "D-do you… need some paper or something? Mr. Aikawa. We need to leave them alone for a few minutes… You too, Daddy. Kasumi." Nabiki said as she moved to fetch the paper pad lying on a nearby table filled with assorted doctor's equipment.
Soun, and Genma right behind, were standing there staring at their two affianced children hugging, in ethereal bliss. If they'd known all it would take to get them together was a life threatening situation they'd've done it sooner!
Then their children's tears registered in their minds and the sinking feeling only a parent seeing their child's pain could understand melded into their conscience. No… they wouldn't.
Nabiki lay the pen and pad down on the bed and shuffled past the two. "Talk things out okay? Ranma… don't blame yourself. Akane doesn't."
Akane gave what might have been considered a beam to her sister; Ranma gave a hopeful glance and a curt nod.
"Lets go guys… they need some time… You too pig breath." Nabiki exclaimed, scooping up an irate pig on her way to the door prodding the doctor, martial artist, and homemaker out of the small room.
Ranma and Akane didn't part until they were gone and for a time, ages it seemed, they did little but stare into each others eyes.
"Akane… I'm… so sorry. You probably hate me right now… don't you?" Ranma started.
Akane's abrupt left to right head shake didn't faze Ranma.
"Y-you have too! I… I'd hate me if this happened… I-if only I'd been a little faster! Or… or if I hadn't gotten involved in the first place! I should've… should've just—!" Akane's middle and index finger covered the teary eyed red-head's mouth and she met Akane's eyes in confusion.
Akane hobbled the two steps it took to get back to the bed and moved to lay down in it, picking up the pen and paper as she did so.
Ranma didn't know what to do. Akane suddenly began writing on the pad as soon as she lay down.
Ranma moved closer and let his hands hover on the bedside. He knelt down to be at eye level with her when suddenly she turned the pad to him.
"Is it true?" she read. "Is what you said on the mountain true?"
Ranma looked from the paper back to Akane. A moment of fear… anxiety so strong the red-head thought she might faint, but she had no choice now.
She nodded. "Y-yeah… Akane I… l-love you. I—!"
Akane dive-bombed the red-head. Ranma only caught a glimpse of the blue haired girl's face before it was buried in her shoulder, but on that face had been written the most beautiful smile Ranma had ever seen.
A few moments she lay there, quivering; Ranma didn't have any clue what she was supposed to do. Fortunately, Akane made the decision for her. She backed up, a wide, yet sad smile brimmed across her face, burning Ranma's worries and fears into dust. Akane was… was happy.
She opened her mouth. No words came forth but, Ranma thought she could imagine the words that flowed off the silent lips.
Ranma needed no words. Needed no male form, either. She didn't need anything except for what she already had. Akane was Akane was Akane… was her Akane. That was all that ever mattered.
Their lips locked for what they both felt was the first true kiss they'd ever had, arms flailing around the other in a passionate embrace, as Ranma lay the older girl down onto her pillow.
Only then did Ranma realize that this was the first real kiss they'd ever had, and yet they were currently the same gender. It struck an odd chord in her for a moment before thought or rationalization was completely driven from her mind.
The kiss lasted an eternity that seemed far too short when it finally ended. Their embrace became a hug as Ranma's lips moved to whisper the words she'd so long wished to say over and over again into the taller girl's ear.
It was at that very moment that suddenly, the bright shinning day that had been sending warmth and radiating light through the window, darkened. The sky brewed over into pitch darkness during the middle of the day, and the entire world was blanketed in a sheet of black.
Neither Ranma, nor Akane, noticed for quite some time
-Two Months and Three Weeks Ago-
"Saotome…" Said the gender-cursed dragon king. He rolled it on his tongue as if cultivating a warm memory from his mind and replaying it over and over in his head. "I must say I'm quite a bit more fond of that gender then your male one." Mirth was clearly evident across Herb's tone.
"Yeah yeah… laugh it up…" Ranma sighed. "I'm serious though, Herb. If… If you don't let me have some of the water from the Chisuiton then… then I'll die. I've had too many close calls already and… I'm not ready to go yet."
Herb placed his fingers to his forehead, shoulders shaking with the effort he placed into not laughing.
It took several moments, Ranma staring down at her feet, standing affront the thrown Herb sat on, deep in the Musk Territory of China.
But recover he did. With surprising seriousness the multi-hair-colored man stared down at the red-head and spoke. "So often do I recall your fighting spirit when I am bored or lonely. The undying power in you that refuses to give up or give in."
Ranma looked on, confused, but stared defiantly, wondering where it was her old enemy was going with this.
The man gave a smile and stood, pacing slowly towards her. Ranma felt the power the man exuded and shivered. It was more then her own; it always had been. Only her ingenuity had saved her during their final battle back in Japan.
When he stood a mere four feet from Ranma, Herb bowed low. "You are a noble man… woman I suppose, Saotome. And you saved my life, I who sought nothing more then your destruction. A debt is owed. A debt repayed. Mint!" He exclaimed. "The Chisuiton!"
The bumbling speedy body guard materialized almost faster then even Ranma could see, holding the ladle. Ranma couldn't help but flinch, visibly.
Herb noticed Ranma's reaction instantly. "You don't want this… do you?" He asked. "Men like you and I do not fear death. And you… do fear this."
"I… I want… I have to live, Herb. I… She… It's for a girl. I… I love her." Ranma tried to say.
"Ah, that. It's that Tendo girl you were with that day isn't it? I never understood it. It still confuses me Saotome-san." Herb said, stopping the red-head while simultaneously easing the tension.
"I… I hope you do understand it… a least a little better someday." Ranma replied.
Herb nodded and took the Chisuiton from his subordinate who promptly disappeared.
Silence reigned for a time. Both staring at the instrument. "Ranma… You know this is permanent. The Kaisuifuu was destroyed. You remember that… If… if you do this, there is no turning back."
Ranma, eyes staring only at the ladle before her, nodded grimly with a gulp. Her stomach was fluttering and not in a good way.
"Tell me why. What happened to you Ranma? What malady afflicts your natural born form? And how?" Herb asked resignedly. "Otherwise I will not give it to you."
Ranma closed her eyes as the memories came unbidden of her battle with Saffron. All the fire she'd torn herself through. All the blasts. Freezing herself. Burning. She didn't want to go through those memories. Didn't want to recall the story again. But what choice did she have?
"The phoenix Saffron… ever heard of 'im? Turns out his fire doesn't only burn people's outsides. I fought the bastard bird for over twenty minutes, all of that in male form." Ranma said sharply.
Herb was, for lack of a better word, stunned.
"Wh-what!? Y-you fought… fought Saffron? H-how are you still alive?" Herb asked almost afraid of the Saotome before him.
"Cuz' he ain't." Ranma replied tartly. "But he left me a present."
Herb raised a steady eyebrow. "How? How could you possibly have survived even a single blast from Saffron's fire? No Human could take one. They'd be incinerated! I couldn't survive one!" the dragon prince exclaimed.
"I'm the best! What can I say?" Ranma replied steadily. At Herb's nigh on glare Ranma's confidence relented. "Alright. I had a hand or two… Gekkaja, the ice staff, was a big one. The other was the Phoenix Pill I'd taken a long time ago. Ever heard of it? Turns out it makes my outer body almost impervious to flame. What it don't do is give my lungs the same bonus. My male side has Internal Burns that are so bad that if I stay a guy for more than a day now I'll… I'll be dead." Ranma said, slowly becoming solemn.
"I… I'm sorry, my friend." Herb replied in as straight a tone as he could manage.
Somberly, Ranma met the eyes of her one-time-rival. "Yeah… gettin' that a lot lately. The pill delayed the damage. Took a week for me to even start feeling symptoms. Without it I probably wouldn't've made it through three of the damn bird's 'Big Ball Blasts' so I count myself lucky."
"And… you changed to your cursed form and…"
"Felt right as rain. Cept the whole 'not-a-guy' thing. Internal damage don't transfer. Somethin' to remember if ya ever get run through, eh?" Ranma barked with a wry laugh.
Herb looked on in sadness at his former rival. "Your life has always been this way, hasn't it? Always the next biggest? The next best fight?"
Ranma gave a smile. "Yeah. Yeah it is. Doubt it stops here. 'Sides, I'll get used to it!"
It wasn't the girl's confident 'I never lose' grin that Ranma Saotome had once given him, long ago, but Herb saw the makings of one. Ranma was Ranma. An enigma and a half. And the first mortal Herb had ever admired.
"Ranma. I'm… sorry things turned out like this again. I ask one more time. Are you certain?"
Ranma only gave one final nod, and her eyes only watered over long enough for Herb to think he saw something. "Th-thanks, Herb." She knelt down to the water that flowed through the prince's court room and sighed, dipping the ladle in.
She stood, the ladle full and murmured. "K-kuso…" She shut her eyes tight, still futilely praying that this was all a dream. That just before the water fell she would wake up and it would all just be one long, long, nightmare. She raised the ladle slowly and tear-streams fell down her face.
Her eyes shut even tighter as she tipped the ladle. All her hopes. All her dreams, disappearing like dust in the wind, with that one splash. 'God… please…'
And it was done.
The ladle fell from her hands, hollow clanking on the stone ground before her, and after that, silence. An eternity of silence stretched on before Ranma could finally open her eyes. She made no sounds but the tears falling down her eyes gave no illusion as to how horrid this was.
"Ranma…" Herb murmured. He approached the girl, closer still, and embraced her awkwardly.
Ranma didn't move, but the hand that had been over her head, fell across the tall prince's shoulders.
Her weeping lasted for long hours into the night, but she never said a word.
-Two Months Two Weeks and Five Days Ago-
Two days since Ranma had ended her masculinity forever. Two days of adapting. There was something odd about being a girl now. Her balance wasn't off and she didn't act differently, she knew. But knowing now, that she would look this way for the rest of her life, had caused her to reexamine the way she acted as a girl. Before it had been a mask. Nothing more, nothing less. A skin that covered the real her. Feminine Modesty? Phaw. What need did a mask have of feminine modesty?
Many things like that had arisen in her mind. Thoughts of what would happen now? Thoughts of scamming food. Scamming Ryoga. Thoughts of running the dojo. Thoughts of never being able to have a child of her own. That was a large one too, surprisingly enough.
Thoughts of… boys even. Disgusted thoughts, of course, but still thoughts. She'd never been in a position to be bothered by that before. Now though…
But above and beyond all of that, was Akane. Akane. Always the tomboy was foremost in her thoughts and dreams. Fear of rejection. Anticipation of the relationship. Worry over guilt about her lost voice.
Her thoughts were utter turmoil.
She stood at the edge of the Musk Territory. Herb stood behind her, having seen her off on her way. It was a short trip now. Only a mere week back to Nerima, where before it had taken almost a month. She was far better fit than she had been the last time they crossed into China.
"Well… this is where I'll be leaving you, Saotome." Herb said, in a tone that sounded almost sad.
Ranma looked up at the only man who she'd ever allowed to see her cry before and smiled. "Gonna miss cute lil' ole me, Herb-chan!?" Ranma exclaimed in a cutesy voice that she'd begun to use to lighten moods instead of mooch free food for the past few days.
"Drop the act, Saotome. You're quite pathetic at it." Herb said without thought.
Ranma's fake smile dropped into a strained yet real one. "See through it that easy now, eh? Well… I'll miss you, Herb. And… thanks… for everything."
They'd only spent two days together but they'd developed a quite close friendship, especially considering the circumstances of their first meeting. Ranma was more than glad to note that she felt no attraction for the boy whatsoever. Sure she'd never felt attraction for a boy before and didn't really expect to but… knowing that she was a girl now. That she had no choice… she'd been… worried.
Herb felt much the same. He knew what Ranma had been, and what she was. It was… comforting for him, to have a friend. An equal, even though the boy… girl… would only live a short time when compared with his own many years.
"Any time, Ranma. Any time. Oh… before you leave."
Herb took out and handed the Chisuiton to the red-head and pressed it into her palm. "Keep this, Saotome. I have no use for it. Honestly, I fear it. It would be safer with one it could not affect. And this," Herb yanked a small golden chain from around his neck with a small locket on it. "You're the first mortal I've ever admired in my long years, Saotome-san. Give it to Miss Tendo as a gift."
Ranma stared at the locket Herb had handed her. She opened it and gaped in awe at the blue diamond in the shape of a dragon's head within.
"S-sugoi…" Ranma exclaimed.
Ranma eyed the dragon prince speculatively but in the end, she simply shrugged pulling the necklace around her head.
Herb stiffened for only a moment, for no notable reason as she pulled it on, causing Ranma to do so as well. When nothing happened, Herb relaxed.
"I didn't think so." Herb sighed, disappointed.
"Herb?" Ranma asked, confused.
The prince smiled. "Just give it to her. Tell her it is a gift and that you got it for her in China."
Ranma stared at Herb, speculative, and then at the locket, and back again. "Alright. I trust you."
Herb grinned. "You might want to make sure you and she are alone when she puts it on."
That worried Ranma a bit. "Wh-what is it?"
Herb only smiled and replied cryptically, "Water. Nothing, but water."
-One Month Ago-
"Yes. I believe, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that Sailor Moon had something to do with the darkness that enshrouded the world two months ago. Or stopping it, more precisely. Ever since then, I and my colleague Dr. Achrandro have been studying the strange energy signals radiating from the Juubancho ward of Tokyo for the past half a year trying to determine what the causes for these averse effects were. My finds more than simply point to Sailor Moon. They make her involvement a certainty." Said a scruffy looking white bearded Caucasian in roughly broken Japanese.
"And did you find anything? Perhaps the mysterious identity of one of the Sailor Senshi?" The talk show host asked in an honestly curious voice.
'Doubt it.' Usagi thought irritably as she glared at the man on stage. She rolled on her toes to find a more comfortable position and continued staring.
Dr. Sayind and Dr. Achrandro were two men who apparently had devoted themselves to the cause of finding out what it was that had befallen the world when it was unexpectedly plunged into darkness, two months ago. They had been well respected scientists of the Juuban district so it was no surprise that people flocked to their speeches and results. Some of the results found by those two and subsequently 'hijacked' by Ami's Mercury computer had been detrimental in allowing the Senshi to access Beryl's lair.
The two doctors had, strangely, disappeared a month and a half ago with little to no trace of where they had gone. Usagi only found out all that after… after…
She cleared her head and returned her attention to the man on stage. They were smart, but it didn't matter much any more. The youma were gone. Finally…
The scruffy man cleared his throat and his voice took on a rather solemn edge. "Eh hem. I'm sorry I was unclear. We were studying the darker beings, not the senshi themselves. The strange female looking beasts that repeatedly attack the residents of Juubancho and various other areas…"
'Yeah. That's what I thought. You don't know anything.' Usagi thought. Her dry expression in her mind did nothing to alleviate her mood. Little did these days.
A sigh of disappointment blasted through the crowd of gather people. After a short pause the man continued. "…and while that was what we were studying, it inadvertently led to what we believe IS the discovery of those exact young women, and their identities. Four of them at least."
Usagi's eyes widened along with those of the rest of the crowd. "N-Nani?" She gasped.
"R-really! A-are you serious, Doctor Sayind?" Said the host, sounding genuinely surprised. "I… I know that you said this speech had special information about the youma and Senshi but…"
Usagi gulped. H-how could someone have possibly…
"Yes, I am entirely serious." He said. His tone was ice now though.
Cameras flashed everywhere and the crowd screamed for him to reveal what he and his silent partner knew. Usagi was jostled left and right with the motion of the crowd and their clamoring in front of the governmental office of Juubancho.
Usagi was almost afraid. If… if he really had found out…
She waited for the crowd to quiet as it eventually did. The man cleared his throat and finally began. "My colleague and I studied the influx of the darkness and found, after endless hours of toil on Dr. Achrandro's part, that the darkness began at the North Pole. That is where I have been these past few months.
Usagi began to quake in terror. "No… No, no, no!" In an instant she turned and began to flee through the crowd. She had to get out of here. She couldn't take it… she couldn't… She just wanted to be normal! They'd died… they'd died so she…
"What we found there… I… I hope to never see the like in my life again." The man said, faltering.
Usagi was in dead run now. "Oh god. Rei! Ami-chan… what would you do? Can you ever forgive me? I don't want them to know!"
But they did. Any of the Senshi being discovered out their amongst the ice would lead anyone straight to her.
"There, amidst the snow and ice, we found… the dead bodies of four of the Sailor Senshi. Sailors, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Mercury were all dead and frozen when we arrived. They had been that way for almost half a month. Their deaths coincided with the darkness that encircled the world."
The words stabbed Usagi in the gut like a sword made of her guilt. She stopped, struck and sunk to her knees.
"What do I do…? What do I do…? Mina… Mako… Rei… Ami…" Tears were flowing down her cheeks like twin waterfalls. She'd hoped… that maybe they hadn't really died. Maybe they faded away and lived on. Would be reborn, or lived on in her. She'd felt them, so sure she had, when she finally destroyed Beryl. "Mamoru… What do I do?"
A gasp had gone through the crowd and suddenly silence reigned throughout.
"There was evidence that battle was held. Their bodies were frozen but... Dust from broken youma bodies, in the way that always happens when the Senshi defeat a youma, as everyone knows, were present for miles and miles arou—"
"I don't believe it!" An angry man shouted. "Nothing could beat the Senshi! I.. I don't believe it!"
"Yeah! The Senshi are… they've saved us so many times! There's no way…!"
"It's not possible!"
Usagi, tears dripping down her face, her heart aching, guilt piling in her throat like a physical being, smiled a sad, small smile. The people believed in them. Believed in her.
"Do you hear you guys? Everyone loves you… even though… I couldn't…" She whispered to herself over the bickering crowd hassling the poor man on stage.
Mr. Sayind sighed with the weight of his discovery.
"They are here. The bodies are here. I didn't believe it myself. I was saved by Sailor Venus not so very long ago…" He said, his words ringing with grief.
Usagi let a sob escape and it echoed across the open courtyard in front of the political building.
A few eyes turned to her, the girl sagging in utter grief slumped on the ground but not many.
"C-can we see?" A girl's voice, no older than Usagi herself.
The man turned to the crowd and gave a small smile. "They died, destroying a monster so terrifying I don't even want to imagine what it looked like. The evidence was all there. They… they were only young girls, no older than fourteen any of them. I can't show you their bodies. They are being kept… but their parents and family were informed this very morning of the actions of these brave young girls." Dr. Sayind's voice echoed across the field.
"But I will release the names. The names of yours and my heroes." The man said dramatically. "Sailor Venus, who was once known as Sailor V before the appearance of the rest of the Senshi… was a young girl named Minako Aino."
Usagi felt a flash. Everything she'd ever done with Minako. Every laugh. Every tear. Every wound. And her sorrow spread. She had been healing, but this was just tearing the wound open all over again.
'I can't stand this!' She thought haggardly in her mind. She stood again, and dashed away, exiting the main portion of the crowd and dashing up the street, her tears making fountains as she ran.
"I'm so stupid! I'm a baka! Baka, baka, baka!" She screamed to herself as she rubbed her leaking eyes while running. "All those times I cried! So stupid! If I'd only known. I'd have fought harder! Done better… not been so… so…"
Self loathing and hatred were common emotions for the blonde girl ever since they had all given their lives to see her forward. All the grief she had repressed. The calls she had listened too from Ami's mother and Rei's grandfather, wondering about their missing child.
The lies she had told.
'It should have been me… Not them…' thought her grief ridden mind.
She opened the door to her house and slammed it, running to her room as fast as she could and fell on her bed sobbing. "Rei… Mina… Ami… Mako… My friends. Why couldn't I save you…?"
Hours she thought she lay there, but in reality it was only minutes, shedding all the tears she possibly could. Luna and Artemis sat on her window-sill watching the girl, wishing there was something… anything… they could do to help.
"It shouldn't be like this Artemis… The Dark Kingdom was destroyed… Everything should be happy now. Usagi… Usagi didn't deserve this…" She whispered to the white cat beside her, her own eyes leaking tears.
Artemis let Luna lean against him in a way comfortable to both of them. "I know Luna… but… the earth is safe. That's all we need to remember."
Even as the white cat tried to sound strong for Luna's sake, his eyes glistened too.
Then the phone calls began. They'd figured it out! Her name had been given. Could she deny it? Could she say she'd had no idea that her friends were really the Sailor Senshi? Was that… right?
She crawled off her bed and into her closet, huddling in the corner in a small, pitiful ball, shedding the very last tears her eyes could bring forth.
That was Shingo. "Odango Atama!? Where are you!?" Came his almost infuriated voice.
That let out a gasp. Odango Atama. Mamoru's nickname. The sobs began to wrack her body again but she'd run out of tears.
The door slid open to reveal her brother. For a moment, just a moment, he looked angry. Until he saw her crying her eyes out.
"U-Usagi… are you…?"
Usagi stared at him for a moment, and then turned her eyes back to her knees.
"I thought… I thought it was all fun and games, Shingo. Just a… a stupid game! Play the heroine, save the day… just having fun! But… when it came down to it… I…"
"Usagi…" Shingo murmured.
"I watched them die, Shingo! I didn't do anything! I was afraid. I was… was… useless."
Shingo seemed beside himself. He wanted to say something but at the same time, didn't want to hurt her. He didn't understand. His sister was unflappable in her upbeat attitude. She always had been. Until two months ago…
Two months ago…
The small boy knelt and wrapped his arms around his only older sister.
"I… I don't really know what you're talking about sis but… but… I love you. I… I know I'm just your brat kid brother and y-you're… you're Sailor Moon, but…"
"Oh Shingo…" Usagi sighed dismally as she let down her knees and let her brother's small arms comfort her.
It was some time before either child moved from that spot as Usagi wept still more dry sobs onto his shoulder.
It was still more time before Ikuko and Kenji rushed into their daughter's room to find their children in the most comforting embrace they'd ever seen the two in, Usagi in a complete mess.
"U-Usagi?" Ikuko asked, watching as the two children slowly parted.
"Y-yeah, mom?" She asked, her arms still touch Shingo's shoulder.
"Rei, Ami, Makoto, and Minako… All of them were your best friends, right? You were… were together all the time…" Ikuko said, trying to puzzle out the facts.
Usagi nodded as she looked up at her mother. "They… were family mom. The best a girl could have…"
"You knew… you knew they were gone two months ago… that's why… why… god why didn't I see this all before? Honey…" Tears were leaking from the woman's eyes now. She couldn't believe it. Her daughter's best friends, all dead at the same time? It was…
"I-I'm alright mom…" Usagi toned in a dead voice. "I… I tried to… to keep my spirits up! And… To make the lives they sacrificed so I could go on… to make it worth something! I… I'll find a way… somehow…"
"Usa-chan." Kenji said comfortingly. "All this time… and we'd… always thought you were lazy…"
The light humor gave her the energy she needed to smile. That small smile was the start of her healing. She'd been able to keep a smile up since. And she could still do it, even after she was exposed. She was Usagi- Bunny of the Moon –Tsukino. And if she couldn't smile in the face of death, no one could.
"I… am lazy dad. I'm… an idiot. A coward… a fool… I let them die. All I wanted to do was run but… they still died for me. They cared… so much…" Usagi replied, hugging herself as the words spilled forth. "I wish I could be half of what they'll always be to me."
A loud crash suddenly erupted from downstairs.
"Miss Tsukino!? Are you here? Miss Tsukino-san!" Came a myriad of voices all saying the same thing, dashing about the room on the lower floors.
Ikuko's eyebrows twitched. "Dear. Take care of Usagi-chan. I'll be… handling this…"
Ikuko left the room, the usual Tsukino rage beginning to permeate her features, not to mention the air surrounding her, as the door closed.
"Dad…" Usagi said.
Shingo had taken a seat on Usagi's bed and was watching as Kenji knelt next to his daughter.
"Usagi… how did this happen?" He asked in what he hoped was a comforting voice.
Usagi met her father's eyes and began, "I-it all started when… when—"
"I found her." Luna said suddenly, interrupting Usagi.
Both Shingo and Kenji's eyes widened in shock as the cat they had known for so long spoke in the clearly distinguishable voice of a middle age woman.
"L-Luna!?" Usagi exclaimed, shocked.
"Hello, Mr. Tsukino. Shingo-san." Luna said as she jumped up onto the bed towards Shingo and then turned to meet Kenji's eyes.
"L-Luna can talk!?" Shingo exclaimed stating the obvious.
"Y-yeah." Usagi murmured.
"GET --- MY --- OUSE!" Came the muffled scream of Ikuko through the door.
A ruffled trampling of feet echoed from downstairs as terrified people ran out the door in fear or Ikuko's fury.
Usagi couldn't help but chuckle. "M-mom's still mom. Heh heh." It was a shallow imitation of the great laugh of old but it was a laugh. It was… something.
Kenji just shook his head. He knew it would be important to find out why Luna could talk, and how all of this had happened to his poor daughter. But there was something more important. "Usagi… I… I've never lost so many friends at the same time but… while I've been around I've… I've had friends die. Close friends, enough to be called family. The pain never quite goes away but… you can be happy. You will be happy again someday. Just… Just be strong, Bunny. And… maybe don't keep it a secret from us… next time you have to save the world?"
Usagi completely missed his last words.
"Be strong…" She murmured.
"Usagi… Study hard, be strong. You can do it!"
"It would've been better if you'd've saved us a little faster, dummy!"
"Usagi, this would be so much easier if you were just stronger…"
"Be strong Odango Atama. I know you can do it."
"Baaka! This is serious! If you don't start worrying a little more people are going to be in danger! You need to get stronger!
"She's so responsible… unlike someone I know…"
Words she'd heard so many times; words she'd let slide right through her and never paid attention too.
"Th-that's it! That's how I can…" Usagi exclaimed suddenly, as epiphany washed over her.
Usagi gave another smile. Still an imitation, but it was enough. Then, she glomped onto her father in a desperate embrace, shaking with both fear and excitement. "Thank you so much dad. I'll never forget this."
"Sis..? What are you—?" Shingo began but stopped when Usagi backed away from her father.
"T-tell mom, I love her, okay dad? I l-love you too… and you Shingo. Always. Don't ever f-forget me okay? I'll be back… Someday."
"Usagi!?" Kenji exclaimed right in time with Luna's questioning, "Usagi?"
She ran around her bed and threw her window open. Then turned back to her father and brother.
"I'm… I'm going. I'm going to get strong. So strong that… that no one will ever die. N-never again!" She said, eyes glistening once more now with the voice of her conviction. "I'll never let anyone die again!"
"Usagi! N-no! You… you—!"
Her smile stopped him short again. That smile, so rare this past few months since her friends' disappearance, and strained when they did appear. And now he knew why.
"I'll never let anyone die again, Otousan." repeated the blonde. "I promise…"
Shingo, Luna, Artemis, who had yet to speak, and Kenji stood dumbfounded at Usagi as she almost effortlessly latched her fingers onto the top of the window and swung herself out and into the air. Two thuds echoed as the girl landed on the roof.
'Thanks… dad…' The girl thought to herself as her new mission asserted itself in her mind. Her mission. Hers alone.
"Up there! Up there on the roof!" came a shout as she stood to full height.
Photographs and flashes were everywhere flashing on her all at once, like she'd always dreamed of only two short months ago. Now she felt exposed and naked, and she hated it. But she couldn't avoid it. Not anymore.
"Moon Crystal Power Make Up!" She exclaimed at the top of her lungs. Her transformation, new and improved ever since Beryl, swept over her and her audience, awing them all.
When it was finished there stood Sailor Moon in all her glory, atop the roof of the home of the girl who was once Usagi Tsukino.
The mixture of her heartbroken-ness and her unnatural prose of speech which always appeared at her transformation gave her the words. And she meant every word.
"Listen! Survivors of the Dark Kingdom! Youma, Monsters, those that kill! Those that hate! Those who thrive for Darkness. I am Sailor Moon! And I will never let a life be taken again. Not Ever! If… If you attack! I'll kill you! If it costs me everything, I'll never let another person die. Ever…" Her speech ended on a down-turned tone and she turned herself towards the waning sunset, and jumped.
She ran, leaping from house to house and camera crews and press and family and friends tried and failed to keep up.
Usagi Tsukino, wouldn't be seen again by anyone except… one redheaded girl
-Four Days Ago-
"Moon Tiara Action." The words were whispered. Barely even audible but they were still there to Moon's unending chagrin. She simply could not find a way to perform her attack without them.
Sailor Moon turned around as soon as she threw the tiara and began to direct it. She ran forward like bolt of lightning and jumped to the highest visible branch in front of her. The target had been right… there!
"Damn!" She cursed. She'd been off by three and a half millimeters. She'd have to fix that next time. She jumped and struck the first of her individual targets dead center, causing a shockwave to burst throughout, ripping the branch right out of the trunk. The next one was… there!
Moon took off again, heading for the next in a line of twenty five targets she had to hit in under ten seconds. She'd only been able to do it in thirteen point two so far. "Not fast enough." She told herself. "Not strong enough."
Slice! Slice! Slice!
Three more targets down to her tiara. She jumped and aimed for the rest of the targets, plowing through her own twenty five and directing the tiara through its twenty five as fast as she could, shockwaves and slices echoing across the forest.
"Done!" She exclaimed as the tiara flew to her forehead, connecting without even a thought to reaching for it with her hand. She looked down at her watch and… fell to the ground.
"Oooh…!" She moaned. "Ten point oh two! Shimatta!"
At which point, the blonde girl tripped over a highly unnoticable root, slamming face first into the hard dirt below.
Moon was annoyed of late. Her grandiose speech had gone by almost two weeks ago and she'd done nothing but train. Usagi Tsukino had disappeared from the world completely however. And Moon didn't think she would ever exist again.
Sailor Moon was her now. In heart, in mind, in soul. She hadn't left her transformed phase in the entire time since her last transformation on the roof. And she didn't intend to do so ever again. This was her duty now. Her calling. What she should have done long ago.
She didn't even think of herself as Usagi anymore. When she didn't think in personal context it was simply 'Moon.' It was who she was.
She sighed. "I don't think clumziness'll ever leave me though. No matter how hard I try."
Between the time of her speech and subsequent transformation atop her house, and following disappearance, there had been one youma appearance. Just one. It was with that appearance that Moon had honed her skill at detecting the presence of a youma. She'd found that, while transformed, she could hear their call. Feel their evil in her very core.
It was very helpful she thought. She had yet to test the limits of distance involved with this but the place the youma had appeared was a backwater Tokyo ward almost twenty five miles from Juubancho.
She was proud to have gotten there in under five minutes, full rush, and also proud of the kill that took her no more than eight seconds.
The demon was hardly worth describing. Made of batter. Lots of batter. And something about a 'Thousand Year Golden Okonomiyaki.' It was strange. No matter though. It was attacking people and stealing energy so it was destroyed in short order.
"Moon Healing Escalation." She whispered, looking over her petrified training ground. As it had hundreds of times before, the ground, all five miles of it that had been disturbed and distorted by her training was refreshed and refurbished. Broken branches re-grew themselves and damaged animals were healed.
Luckily, most of her attacks seemed to not effect, or even heal the animals that resided with her in her small camp. Every now and then she would accidentally kill one of the darker animals though such as a rat or a raven… or squirrels for some reason she couldn't fathom.
Of course, she felt terrible every time, knowing that her training was destroying. But she had nowhere else to go. It was either here or she would be too far from the dangers to be of any assistance when attacks did come.
Moon set up the targets another fifteen or twenty times and repeated the process, getting it down to seven point three seconds before she finally called it a day.
The disguise pen had proven invaluable to her ever since she'd run from home. It wasn't just a disguise as it turned out but it was a log-in to all the information from that ancient kingdom stored with the current profession or disguise she wished to take. It provided her instantly full records of whatever she wanted to do, and hacked into government records, altering them to make them more than concrete, not to mention giving her whatever degrees or status she wanted. Magic could do things like that, she supposed. She'd had to focus almost all of her power into the pen to get it to go that far into her disguise but it turned out to be worth it.
Not only that, it put at her fingertips, knowledge she needed to perform whatever task she'd need.
She let down the disguise pen's alteration and lost the knowledge that would be ingrained into a master martial artist, but did not however, lose the training ideas she needed. Tomorrow she would do the same exercises without the pen and do her damned best to get them as close to the mark as possible.
She went to her tent and lay down for a few hours of sleep.
Her alarm, convenient little thing built into the communicator that no longer served as such, blared three and a half hours later, waking her up harshly.
She'd gone out of her way to get a discreet, yet well paying job as a Psychologist of all things, and honestly made more money then her parents combined did, already. That made her quite sad, actually. If the twentieth century world were this easy to manipulate with Silver Millennium magic… it said bad things about enemies that had been capable of destroying the Silver Millennium. She was beginning to believe that Queen Beryl and Metallia had not been the only ones behind the fall.
It had been… it burned her to think this but… killing Beryl and Metallia had been… too easy.
"You guys… I'm doing better. What you always wanted. I'm getting to be stronger every day! Please… please watch over me. I know you are there. I love you all…" She said to herself.
It took her about twenty seconds to transform with the pen, into Aiko Mizuruna, her height rising by four inches, hair becoming short, black, and cropped, breasts expanding by an substantial bit, and a short dress suit that completed the entire package. Another five or six minutes to get to her office. A small room within' the local town clinic of a ward she'd spent no time to learn the name of, near Juubancho. It had a cozy feel to it; a chair sat behind a large wooden desk for her and a lounge chair for the nine or ten patients she had.
Most of them came from the clinic itself. Of the ten, only two actually had substantial mental problems, one an ex-convict, the other she still hadn't determined, but was thinking about giving her simply the title of 'terminally insane.' Two were in marriage counseling. One, the most delightful man she'd ever had the pleasure of meeting, a young doctor with a crush the size of Tokyo tower itself that he simply could not get over, nor act on. The poor man… whenever his love's name was even mentioned he went crazy! It was so cute! If a little dangerous. The other five just came to let everything out, most of them trauma victims of youma attacks.
It was a… strange way of helping people. But Moon felt good about herself.
Sitting in her cozy chair she looked over to the single patient entering the room and sighed.
Gyosinda Tukinata. Age twenty seven, about how old she looked at the moment. He gave her a smile and she cringed. 'Mamo-chan…' She forced the thought out of her brain and returned the smile before he noticed. He was one of the 'truama' patients, though she had the distinct feeling that he was there more for her than anything else.
Didn't matter much to her. He paid! She could go on ice cream binges and—!
Moon practically slapped herself. Sailor Moon did not go on ice cream binges.
Though… maybe one wouldn't be so bad. One. For the memories
-Two Months Ago-
"GOOOD DAAAMNIT!!!!" Ranma screamed.
Akane winced visually as she stared at her fiancée, with a mixture of pity and… something she didn't like at all.
"Oh, come on Ranma…" Flip "It can't be all that bad." Her signs read quickly.
Ranma only glared at her. The glare faltered quickly and became a wince of pain.
It was only natural that Akane had adapted Genma's form of 'sign-language.' The panda had been thoroughly educating her ever since she'd been well enough to walk again. The burns, she'd been happy to find, were not all that bad. She looked exactly like the old Akane, save for one really bad burn on her left leg that wasn't healing. Given time, the doctors said even that would heal, which was incredibly lucky. Most burn victims could expect to be marred for life. She'd been lucky.
Ranma on the other hand…
"Jeez Ranma… every girl does this so…" Akane made to flip the sign to the other side that read 'why can't you be a man by being a girl?!' which she'd intended to be funny.
Ranma's look was anything but.
"I hate this, Akane…" She said. "I hate this…"
Akane looked down at her fiancée in pity… and disgust. Was this what she wanted? Ranma… Ranma wasn't Ranma like this… She was…
Akane sighed and enveloped the girl in a hug. These had become common betwixt the two… but they were never comfortable.
And Akane think she finally knew why. After all this time, wishing Ranma would understand her better. Wishing he was weak and knew what it was like. She'd finally got her wish. And… it disgusted her. It made her feel terrible but she'd loved… Ranma… strong.
But she wouldn't give up. Not yet.
"S-sorry Akane…" The girl mumbled. Tears streaming down her cheeks as she dealt with her first period.
Jeez… even she hadn't been this bad, and she had been notorious for being the worst in the family.
But she would not give up yet. Not yet. Oh but how she wished things were different…
No one knew that Ranma was dealing with an exponential effect of almost two years of missed periods. Even Doctor Tofu hadn't thought of that.
She slipped on her necklace and was abruptly transformed into a man. Tall, muscular, more so than Ranma had been in looks at least, though still no closer at being actually stronger then the red-head below her, she looked like any girl's wet dream.
She hefted the quivering red-head into her arms and carried her to her room, as she had the past two nights. Disgusted with her. And even more with herself for being disgusted in general.
"Hello!" Said a buxom tall, black-haired woman, as Ranma entered the room. "And you are Mister… oh… that's a big error. Heh. Miss Saotome right?" The woman asked peppily.
"Y-yeah." Ranma replied, cautiously. She looked around at the windows on two of the four walls within the room, glancing at the photographs and amenities situated around the room. Or rather lack, thereof.
"Come in, come in! Have a seat!" The girl exclaimed, and Ranma felt incredulous. This girl was a professional Psychologist? But Tofu had recommended her. Said she'd helped him get over his Kasumi infatuation and finally ask the girl on a date.
Maybe it would work for her… God, she hoped so… Then again, God had quite thoroughly betrayed her once more.
Driving her to this…
"So, Ranma is it? I must say, Dr. Tofu's description doesn't do you justice. You are… beautiful. I'm a bit jealous." The girl said happily.
Ranma blushed furiously and tried very hard not to glare at the same time. "Not. Helping." She stated.
"O-Oh? I'm sorry. I suppose, I'd need to know what type of problems your having? Dr. Tofu said you'd be… unusual at best." Dr. Mizuruna stated, feeling quite abashed at having made her so angry so quickly.
"N-not your fault. Sorry." Ranma replied. "Y-yeah. I'll be… unusual. That's a good word for it."
"Well, here dear. Have a seat. Get yourself comfortable. Need anything? Coffee? Tea? Mint cakes?" She asked in that upbeat tone that was beginning to strangely rub off on Ranma.
"C-cakes?" Ranma asked shyly.
The woman grinned.
After Ranma and Ms. Mizuruna had been seated in their respective chair and couch-like bench, both happily stuffing themselves with mint cakes, Ms. Mizuruna broke the silence.
"So… what exactly is the problem, Ranma-chan? May I call you that?" She asked.
Normally Ranma would have protested but for some reason, she nodded. 'This girl is good at getting on people's good sides… I know that much…' She thought to herself.
"I… I've been having some… gender issues…" She said mutely.
"Oh? Like… like what?" Ms. Mizuruna asked. Gender issues? The only thing that jumped out at her was that the girl wanted to be a man.
"I… I-it's hard… to explain." Ranma said, covertly, tightly gripping her dragon gemmed locket around her neck. Her locket. Not Akane's. Not anymore…
"Give it a shot. Remember, whatever you say will not leave this room. I swear confidentiality, Ranma-chan." Ms. Mizuruna told in a comforting tone.
The tone worked. Ranma's tension eased visibly though she didn't really even notice it.
"Well then… Miss Mizuruna… do you… uhm… do you… believe in magic?" Ranma asked, shyly.
Moon's eyes widened. She stood and walked towards Ranma and knelt down to stare the surprised girl in the eyes.
"M-Miss Mizuruna?" Ranma asked, worried at the harsh glare she was receiving.
"Yes… I do, Saotome-san. Do you?" She asked in a heavy and extremely serious tone.
Ranma noted the formality, and distinct anger and complete change of tone. "I.. uh.. Well you see… my problem is… well… I didn't used to be a girl, Mizuruna-san."
Moon blinked. Perhaps she'd been a little too worried. "R-really? How? A youma attack? I've never heard of one like that before but… it's possible… I've seen people turned into cakes before."
"Oh… Ehehe!" Ranma murmured weakly as she dropped the half eaten cake in her hands.
Moon almost giggled. Almost.
"I think we'll get along just fine, Ranma-chan. Just fine." She said, happily.
Ranma was confused. This girl changed moods faster than she did when she was on her…! Uh… yeah… Maybe it was some Psycho-technique… Well Ranma hoped it worked. She needed one.
Well. There's the 11,000 word Prologue. Joy. Didja like it? I know. Weird. But I was inspired. Really inspired. This was the product of a grand total of about four days of nigh on nonstop work.
Sidenote: This IS a fukufic. Or will be. Sometime. Heh. I'm gonna have fun throwing in new outers. Reincarnated newbie Setsuna! Fun stuff!
Review if you like. I promise I won't bite... (snap) Hehe.
By the way. Sorry Ozz. I'm lazy. Wanted to publish! Did so. Forgive? Hehe.