Disclaimer: Don't Own Ranma ½ or Sailor Moon

Author's Note: This chapter is dedicated to alcohol and 20th birthdays. While none of this chapter was WWI (Written While Intoxicated) this author did experience his first real dose of heavy drinking between this and the last chapter, thus bringing forth a slew of ideas, ranging from this chapter itself to a Ranma/Scrubs crossover.

Interesting stuff, what's in my head. I really should write it all down.


-Chapter Five-

Pluto jumped, scrambling away from the screaming ray of green light. Two more followed suit and she dodged as fast as her feet could take her. Her breathing was ragged and sweat poured down her face in streams. Her hair was soaked with it.

"Faster!" Came Lio's angry cry. "I won't have you die like last time because you aren't fast enough! Move it!"

'Baka!' Pluto shouted in her mind, vowing to rip out her lover's entrails next chance she got. Not really, obviously, but the thought made her smile.

"Living Howl!"

"Dead Scream!" She shouted for what seemed the thousandth time, another echoing barrage of nightmarish rays blasting forth from the purplish orb her spell had conjured. In reality, it had been more than a thousand. Her throat was hoarse and her lips were dry. She dreamedof water, but the river was at least another two kilometers. She thought that's about how far he'd led her away. Bastard.

Her deep purple rays met his green, deflecting them with ease. Ease, on the part of the rays at least. Her arm burned with the effort of channeling so much of the raw power she felt buried beneath her skin; the magic within her seemed inexhaustible. She was getting better.

Dashing around, retreating in the cover of the light explosion between them, she hid in a rock enclave; it was just a small part of the miles and miles of valley surrounded by mountains, like spires reaching for heaven that her mind had created for this one purpose.

She found him not far from where he had been his eyes scanning left and right trying to find her. It wouldn't take long. He'd already proven himself far better at this game then her. Sweat poured down her forehead in small rivers trailing down her cheeks. Her hair had been soaked for hours. Even so, despite the pain in her arms and torso, the burning of moving the magic within her, channeling it into her attacks, she felt she could go on forever.

She breathed and the air of her home filled her with life and energy and still more power. Her legs felt like jelly, especially now that she was crouched behind the rubble. The moments the appendages were being given rest made her realize it all the more, but even as she lay there, her home replenished them. Here she was infinite. Here, she was… a goddess.

Against all but him at least. He was still going. Twenty three hours, thirty nine minutes, and twenty seven seconds they'd been battling, the knowledge of the passage of time coming unbidden to her mind. A never ending war of light and power. Why, oh why, had she ever agreed to this? The bastard! It's not like she knew he'd been being serious when he told her they were going to be fighting for twenty four hours straight! She'd thought it was a joke!

Still, she knew he had no torrent of energy refilling him like she did. No. He was going on his own strength. God, he was so strong! How invinciblemust a person be to battle nonstop for an entire day without even giving an ounce!? He didn't even look tired! If she'd had an ounce less focus she would have swooned.

Now, almost all of the way through, she paradoxically dreamed of sleep. She longed for rest but it would not come. He kept attacking, spouting about how he wouldn't let her die again. Her muscles were tense from extensive use. She couldn't remember the last time she'd been still for so long! Three seconds…

Her lover was getting closer, but not close enough yet. Her reflexes were returning to her. Was he playing with her? He'd done so earlier, eight hours ago when she'd thought she'd had a good hiding spot. Did he know where he was? She watched his mouth. No smirk. He was frustrated! He didn't know.

Inside, she grinned. A small victory. He took two more steps and that gave her all she needed. He was in range!

She didn't know how she knew what to say… how she knew to pull the power into the sky. She didn't know how she knew, but she did. The words came like faint whispers in her ears, begging her to their bidding.

And her voice died. Fading into a deep deathly sunder, her words came as minions of the hail of death they were sure to summon.

"Dead Rain."

In an instant, she blanketed the sky with her magic; it poured out across the heavens of the great domain that was her world. The sky rained down hundreds, thousands of balls of purple light, each spewing forth multiple rays of light, littering the torched grass valley with ray after ray after power-wrought deathly lights.

'D-Dear god…' She thought, as she watched the effects of her power, backing away slowly. 'If… If I did that in Tokyo…'

She fell down in utter shock. She… could make the sky rain with death… Lio! Lio! W-was he alright!? Her eyes jerked to where she had targeted him, praying he was alive. Oh god, it had been so strong! She hadn't known! She… she hadn't known!

"Oh God… what have I done?" She shuddered, staring across the scorched valley as her eyes began to water. Once, the valley of her mind had been green, pristine land with acre after endless acre of green reaching to the mountains, decorated with many gashes of darkened dirt from their ongoing duel.

Now the entire valley as far as she could see, was naught but scorched dirt and the ashes of burned prairie shrubbery.

"Exactly what, I've been waiting for you to do." Came a voice from behind her, scaring her to death. A female voice.

She jumped, turning as fast as she could and seeing Lio, or rather, Liopolis, decked in all her Senshi-powered glory. She'd transformed! All day she'd been wishing the bastard would transform! But that thought didn't even surface in light of the overwhelming relief.

"Y-you're alright! I thought I— I was so… so…" She dashed to the taller girl, throwing her arms around her in an embrace so tight even Liopolis was crushed. She bawled and bawled into the other girl's comforting shoulder, her fear that she had killed him, washing through her, drowning away the adrenaline of battle.

"It's alright, Setsuna. It's alright. I'm fine. I'm fine." Was all the girl whispered. "I'm fine."

The valley faded and mist and darkness were all there was once more. Mist and darkness. And the gates… looming over her like an everlasting mother. They were more foreboding than ever now that she knew what they were.

It seemed another eternity that she cried into the taller girl's shoulder, but Liopolis would not let her go. "Do you understand yet? Your powers, if unleashed could be catastrophic. From the day you take up the mantle, your emotions must always be in control. They must! Or this…" He waved his hands, exhibiting control over her domain allowing the scorched valley to reappear. "…could happen where it matters. All this, and you've barely scratched the surface of your powers, Setsuna. That was what you were learning today."

Setsuna was blindsided by the revelation. "Y-you mean… it wasn't endurance training? B-but I thought…" All that and it was only so that she could break her limits and realize how much power she contained. That wasall the past twenty four hours of constant battle had been for? That was it!?

He chuckled wryly. "Heh. You could call it a light warm-up for endurance training. No. Maybe just a short exercise."

Her eye's practically popped out of their sockets. Gone was the fear and worry for him. Now it had been replaced by fear and worry for herself! A-an exercise! Ash-short exercise!!

"Wh…! I…! You…!" She didn't know what to say. Her arms were still wrapped tightly around his shoulders. His Senshi uniform had faded without her realizing it, him growing a few inches making her reach a bit more difficult.

He grabbed her by the shoulders and pulled her away from him so he could look into her eyes. "You saw how long I could fight without even my Senshi form. I also can't draw from my gates when we are here like you can. You will be able too do this as well. It'll take time. But… fortunately for us… we have all the time in the world.

He backed away from her, and instantly he took a stance that she knew all too well. But she wasn't ready yet! Not yet! She was tired! Sore…! She… she wanted to go home!

"W-wait!" She cried feebly as words began to form on the lips of her lover. "I'm not ready!"

The green haired girl backed away, as fast as she could but fortunately he stopped. "What is wrong? You're surely fine by now. The gates replenish you multitudes faster than sleep. You should be just fine!" He seemed slightly annoyed.

"I… I want to go home! I can't just keep training here forever! What do you mean,all the time in the world? I… I've been gone for three days! My parents are probably worried sick about me! And school! Miss Quarina's class! They were counting on me to be there for the Komatane basketball game! I… I need to go back!" She exclaimed. How could he expect her to just stay here fighting him! God, she loved him so much! But she had family too! And her friends! Could he expect her to just… just drop everything and elope with him in this place of nothingness!

… And frankly she'dmuch rather be with her friends then here fighting! For… for… god if that day long battle had been an… an… exercise! They would be here for… for months! Years!

"It... is best if you forget you ever knew them… Setsuna-chan." Liopolis said sadly. His tone was laced with disheartenment and woe.

Her world plummeted. Was he… was he demanding that of her!? She… she couldn't stay with him unless she abandoned her… her family?

"I c-can't do that…! I don't want to do that!" Her tone wasn't firm. Her resolve wasn't even all that firm. Smashed Cockroaches! Why was this so hard! It should have been easy! Pathetically easy! This roundabout hooligan had kidnapped her, no matter what way the scenario was looked at! Her family came first!

It did!

… Dammit! It did!

Then why was she considering his words? She felt… she needed him…! But…

"Okaasan…" She murmured. Her mother. Aya Meioh. Her mother was a pain, and a hassle to be around. Often times she simply couldn't stand her! But… she was still her mother. Her father, Ryogochi Meioh, was a stern man. He expected a lot of her, and was proud of her! She'd always been a model student. She'd always been one of the best!

She'd always loved her father. And her mother. How could she be expected too…?

'You belong here, with Lio.'

Something in her mind told her, this and she couldn't deny the truth of it. How much she wanted to be with him forever. An unconscious geas wanting to keep her with the one person she could never be without again. The piece of her soul that had been missing for her entire life. But…

'I barely know him! I love my family!' She screamed back at herself, an inner war brewing in the depths of her heart and mind.

'He's your soul-mate. Your 'only one'.'

'They're my family!They've been with me my whole life!' She screamed back. It didn't help. The voice plowed right on.

'He's been waiting for you for thousands of lives. Thousands of time spans lasting longer than generations of parents and family and friends.'

"No!" She screamed, her eyes watering in anger and grief. "I won't! I won't just abandon everything I grew up with! I… I can't!"

In her mind she furiously pushed down the words enveloping her mind. Threw off the comfort the thought of being with Lio forever provided. Threw it all away, ripping out the piece of her soul that so wished to stay within her. That she wanted within her! Tears began leaking down her eyes as she felt her heart tear in two.

"H-how could my soul-mate be someone so cruel as to take me from everyone else I love?" She begged in a hysterical fit. "I'm going back! I… I'm going!"

Liopolis became frantic. She was going to teleport! Going to rejoin the world! She couldn't! She couldn't! Not again! "No! Setsuna! Suna-chan! Wait! I can explain! I can—!"

And in a flash of pain and tears, she dashed through the gates and was gone. Her path chosen.

A tear streamed down Liopolis's cheek.

"They… they don't remember you anymore… Setsuna…" He whispered to the nothingness.

No one answered.

The pain he felt in the portion of his soul that Setsuna had replaced, grew. She would cry. Oh Bloodfire would she cry... But he would be there for her.

He… would be there. Always.

"I'm sorry… Setsuna."

Ryoga lifted his hand off the much smaller redhead's shoulder worriedly. Even as he did so he couldn't stop the flow of… thoughts from rising up within his mind. Sick thoughts. Twisted thoughts. He hated Ranma! He always had, till recently at least. But that hate had… changed. Somehow, it had expanded to new bounds. Bounds that the lost boy was extremely uncomfortable with. He had professed his unending hate for Ranma ever since as far as he could remember. Back then, the boy had deserved it. He'd had everything Ryoga had ever wanted. Everything Ryoga had ever dreamed of. But… one by one, all of those things were taken away from the boy. One by one, he… she… lost them all.

At first the lost boy had reveled! Ranma was finally getting what he had coming! Hah! Served him right!

Then guilt had begun to swell in him. Memories surfaced. All the times Ranma had covered for him when Akane had come this close to discovering his curse. Like the invincibility tattoo. Sure he'd wanted too show her but, in the end, he hadn't wanted Ryoga to lose the chance at friendship with the Tendo girl. At least it seemed that way. That wasn't the action of an enemy, or even a rival. More memories. Herb and the battle for the Hot Water Kettle, the Kaisuifuu. When he and Mousse had cursed themselves permanently, Ranma's only concern had been, not for herself, but for them! Even after they'd betrayed her. That was neither the action of an enemy, nor a rival. Was that not the action of a friend?

Ryoga realized at some point that he should be happy, despite his growing guilt. Ranma's life was hell now. As much if not more of a hell then his own, though the redhead still had never had the joy of running from a butcher for her life as of yet. But still more memories of Ranma arose, and the guilt swelled double.

Finally had come the day that Akane had awoken. That miraculous day, when they'd thought she would be in a coma forever, she had awoken. Ranma had held him that day. Called him a buddy. Even if he had been a pig while it happened, she held him and comforted him as the girl of his dreams lay dying. That had been the final straw between him and the burning need for revenge that had quenched him for so long. The fire was no longer there. The hatred, no longer there. No. Then, all he saw was that, Ranma too, was suffering, just as much as he.

So he'd left. How could he intrude any longer? How could he claim hatred for Ranma, when all the boy ever did was help him? Sometimes even at direct personal deficit as a consequence!

For a time, he'd remained with Akari on her farm. The girl was not Akane. What he felt for her was… different. Akane cared for him. Made him feel comfortable and safe when no one else could. Akari was… completely different. Comparing her to Akane was comparing an ocean to a sky. Both vast and blue and deep, and both grafted of completely different material. Akari was... different. Instead of feeling safe, his joy came from making her feel safe. Came from comforting her!

She needed comfort as well. Her father had died, quite unsuspectingly and when he'd first arrived several days after Akane's revival, the brown haired pig farmer had grappled him in a hug so mournful and morose that he'd been compelled to bring her the same comfort he'd so desperately always wanted.

And he'd… found it. She made him feel warm inside. He didn't know why it had never happened before but, that day, something between him and the pig farmer had changed drastically.

Then, the thoughts had started.

The sick thoughts. Dark thoughts.

It wasn't long before Ryoga had left the farm, fearing what he might do if these sickening things his mind kept summoning to his conscious were to ever leak loose. Akari could tell that something was wrong with him and, albeit reluctantly, she let him go. Whatever these thoughts were, on the outside they were giving him terrible headaches, but next to what the thoughts actually consisted of, Ryoga barely noticed them.

And they had centered entirely and unrelentingly around Ranma.

Ranma-chan, in particular.

He shuddered inwardly, feeling his stomach convulse, abhorring the scene playing out in his mind. The shock, created by the scene and how vividly detailed it was, dropped his jaw. He shook his head fiercely fighting a desperate battle to reign in the newfound evil tendencies his mind wanted to implement.

"I've got to fix this…" He thought. That was why he was here. He'd found out after returning quite by accident really, to Nerima, that Ranma had been severely injured. The good side of him, the side that he was trying to bring out, grieved in worry. Ranma, was his friend! The best sparring partner he'd ever met and… and… despite their history Ranma was a good person. If a little stupid.

The other part of Ryoga though, the twisted part... giggled at the mere thought of Ranma's pain. It wasn't like he used to. Not like his previous lust for vengeance. This was different. This was a mad glee driven only by the purest hatred and lust he had ever felt.

It was making bile rise in his throat. Staring at the redhead, now completely silent, his imagination saw her naked. Saw her screaming as he laughed down at her. In reality, he'd never seen a girl so terrified.

He shook his head furiously to clear the thoughts and, surprisingly, they abated. Though he doubted that would last. Despite his time in the purifying waters of the ancient temples of Tibet where he had been for the past fortnight, the thoughts were coming faster now. And, now, they weren't just about Ranma either.

Random people he'd seen, or photographs or videos. All of them had twisted submissive roles to play in his corrupted mind. Ranma. Nabiki wrapped in chains. A-Akane… Akane begging him for mercy.

Even… even Akari.

It was a rare thing for Ryoga Hibiki to be afraid. Now, he was terrified of his own mind. Hewasn't like this! 'What the hell have I become?'

He'd speculated that whatever was causing these vile thoughts, was foreign. Like a… a curse or something.

But he was rapidly beginning to fear that he truly was as twisted as his thoughts seemed to imagine.

"Hey, Sir Spamsalot! You okay?" Ranma asked quite suddenly, pulling him from his abysmal thoughts.

Instantly, he giggled in his head at the thought of vengeance for those words. She would rue the day she'd wronged him! He'd enjoy feasting on he—!

He realized with a start that he had advanced forward a few paces. Akane was sitting at the foot of the bed, her legs folded haphazardly beneath the long skirt she always wore. Ranma, dressed in one of those strange hospital gowns, her hair hanging down in a twisted array of stale three-days-dirty freefall. She still looked beautiful. Gorgeous even. She always did. Even when she was being a jackass.

Even when she was screaming in terror.

He shook that thought out of his mind, but it wouldn't let go.

"I… I don't think so… Ranma." Ryoga strained. The simple act of addressing the redhead by her given name alerted her to that. Something was definitely wrong. His fingers twitched, aching to close around her throat, but he held them back.

"R-Ryoga?" She asked, sitting up a bit more to stare into the lost boy's eyes. She was unafraid. Not even the slightest bit of cowardice. He wanted to paint the fear of him into her features permanently!


He hurled himself away from the girl, her curiosity and growing worry plain on her face, stumbling back a few paces. "I… I need to go. I'm sorry Ranma! I… Something's wrong with… I gotta go!"

"Ryoga…?" The redhead repeated. She didn't even have a clue!

Ryoga dashed out of the room, leaving his ex-rival and the youngest Tendo to stare at his retreating form.

Ranma undressed slowly. Her chest still hurt even three days after she'd awakened. Not surprising really, but it made her breathing uneasy and… slick if that was a word that could be used to describe breathing. It had been called a miracle. She knew it was. She'd known she was dead as soon as she'd felt those burning claws rake into her chest. That she was alive right now was a miracle in every sense of the word.

She glanced around the locker room at the array of stares the girls were directing at her. At her chest in particular. The star-pointed pattern of burned scars imbedded deep within her skin did little for her once unmarred figure. They were quite unflattering, and did not enhance the beauty her naked form had once attained in the least. They were… blackened holes, or so it seemed, sewn together somehow, through magic.

She knew it was magic. It could only be that.

And she now had a significant reason to believe that Hotaru… what was her last name again? Hotaru To… To-something, was the mysterious Sailor Moon.

The prospect was nigh on unfathomable. Their body types were completely off! Sailor Moon was only a mere inch or two taller than herself, while Hotaru was well over a foot! Sailor Moon had the longest hair she'd ever seen, outing even shampoo, while Hotaru had a cropped, short sluice of black hair.

But… how else could it have been done? Sailor Moon had magic, and she was all about love and justice and all that crap. Maybe she had healing powers? Maybe she'd… disguised herself as Hotaru? That was the only explanation for it. She didn't know anyone else with the ability to heal. Well, there was Cologne but Ranma hadn't seen her in quite some time.

The truth is, Sailor Moon was the only person Ranma knew who might have the ability to bring someone back from the brink of death she had been on.

Ranma felt comforted by this, just as she silently resented her for it. She wasn't some baby that needed a magical girl looking over her shoulder all the time! But… it was nice… to have someone who cared like that. To know that someone wanted her alive. She disregarded the feelings that abruptly rushed through her at that thought, bringing her eyes back into focus and finding that the stares were no longer directed at her, now that she had her clothes back on.

Thank god for that.

The locker room, currently sparsely decorated with about ten or eleven girls, was quite uncluttered at the moment, and Ranma was glad. She felt free from the normal claustrophobic atmosphere the locker room usually provided. The school, bastards that they were, saw fit to provide a mere three by five meter locker room bunching up girls to where they were practically connected at the shoulders while changing, lest they wait in line for one of the stalls.

Quite unnerving for her.

"R-Ranm— Ack!!" Came a shriek as Miyataki burst through the small crowd, tripping over a stray limb and falling flat on her face as she tried to get to the red-head.

Ranma beamed in mirth. It took a lot to acquire her laughter these days but… Miyataki was damn good at it. Even when she wasn't trying.

The girl grinned sheepishly, rising from the floor, her eyes trained thoroughly on her feet in embarrassment.

"Hey Miya." Ranma stated, the shorter nickname rolling off her tongue in a friendly manner. She'd found that since her return on Tuesday, the girl had been almost overcompensating in her care. Miyataki had visited the hospital no less than eight times in the three days she had been incapacitated.

While it seemed the entire school had come to visit at least once, no one had shown as much concern as Miyataki had. The girl had been practically frantic at the impending death of her newfound friend. The concern radiating from the girl when she'd rushed in not two minutes after Akane had departed was almost palpable in the room.

The sensation made Ranma feel warm, in almost the same way Sailor Moon did but without the added aggravation of being babied. She'd never had someone cry on her shoulder in worry for her before. Well. Not really. She supposed Akane had done so once or twice. But Akane was different. With Akane, the tears had been for a more… sensational reason; Miyataki's was just simple friendship. Something that the girl seemed to covet and respect above all other things. She had many friends and the girl cherished them. Once a friend, always a friend.

Ranma's grin brought Miyataki her own as she finished approaching the redhead. The girl was half naked and it irked Ranma that she didn't seem to care. To her, Ranma was a girl. It didn't matter that she was once a boy, or that she was forced to look away lest someone bring attention to the immense attraction she felt. Her cheeks had a tendency to flush quite a bit in the locker rooms but she managed to keep it to a minimum. At the same time, though, that too made her feel accepted.

"Hey, you okay, baka? What're you in such a hurry for?" Ranma asked, giving Miyataki a scolding frown.

Miyataki flinched a bit but plowed into her speech almost instantly. "I… I got asked out on a date, Ranma-chan." She said. She seemed… frightened. Not nervous. Afraid.

Ranma tilted her head. "So?" She questioned. "Who?"

Miyataki fidgeted. "Daisuke. But… I'm afraid, Ranma. I… I know you got hurt real bad on your date and… Well… there's rumor's going around about the 'You-Know-What.' I'm… worried."

Ranma was mildly surprised. Last he'd talked to Daisuke, the boy had been head over heals for some girl named Tsubasa. Not the cross-dressing idiot always hanging around Ukyo. A different one. But she disregarded that. "Abou… wait. You're worried about getting attacked?" Ranma was incredulous. Everyone knew the chaos that surrounded Nerima in particular, surrounded her.

"Well… in the Juuban ward, you know, where the Senshi first showed up? There were rumors about the youma and demons attacking specific groups." She stated, dropping into somewhat of a know-it-all tone.

"Groups?" Ranma repeated.

Apparently, or so Ranma had been informed, a pseudo Senshi of some sort dressed in black, had been the one who sent the demon dog that had attacked her in the park. She remembered no black Senshi but she didn't think he'd just make that up.

The girl nodded vigorously. "Yeah. Couples. I… I think that maybe this… Black Senshi was behind all of it! We heard about Beryl being killed, but what if she wasn't the only one? There've been more attacks over in Juuban so…"

Ranma thought she knew where this was going. "You want me to go along and make sure nothing happens?"

Miyataki gave a heavy smirk. "Not quite."

Ranma's chest tightened. Now she did know where this was going.

The girl bent over, and held out a finger, wagging it back and forth. "Tsk Tsk. I've seen that you've been avoiding Hiroshi for the past couple of days, ever since you got back. You know he visited you even more than I did!? Daisuke almost as much. The only person there more was Akane, you know?"

Instantly, Miyataki realized that that had been the wrong thing to say.

Ranma felt like she'd been hit in the gut. "Akane was there… more?" She asked. "H-how many times did she visit?" Ranma asked, trying to keep the edgy desperation out of her tone and failing miserably. She hadn't thought that Akane had visited much. Sure, the girl had been frantic when she'd awakened but so had everyone else who visited afterwards.

"She… W-well… it'd be easier to count the number of times she left the hospital, but that's not what's important!" The girl said, talking fast so as to dissuade the red-head from thinking to much about Akane. Miyataki knew from experience that thinking about how an ex still cared was never productive in moving on. And that's what Ranma needed to do.

Move on.

"What I was wondering was if you could… well… could you and Hiroshi double date with us tonight? I know you've been lonely again… so… could you?" She asked in that insufferably cute way every girl except Ranma herself seemed capable of pulling off.

Ranma hesitated. "T-tonight? Uhm… I… I kinda got a… thing tonight." It wasn't common knowledge that she was seeing a psychiatrist. Actually, it wasn't known knowledge at all. No one knew. Not her parents. Not her rivals. Not her friends. And definitely not her ex-fiancées.

"How 'bout tomorrow?" Miyataki asked, not skipping a beat. "C'mon, Ranma! I… I really like him! I… well… I just…" The girl trailed off in a piteously dim mumble.

Ranma tried not to drop her jaw in surprise. "Y-you do? Heh. And here he thought no one liked him." She mused to herself.

The girl nodded the affirmative. "I… I've liked Daisuke for… since junior high at least, but I never had the guts to talk to him. Th-then yesterday, out of the blue he suddenly came up to me! All nervous like he always is but… We'd started talking in the waiting room at the hospital."

Ranma brought her hand to her chin to run it through the peach fuzz that no longer existed there.


Ranma twitched. "I… I guess… tomorrow."

"Thanks Ranma! You're the best! And you'll have fun, too! I know it!" And the girl was gone.

Ranma sighed. Another date with Hiroshi. It wasn't like she hadn't had fun on their last date. But… its rather spectacular end had her on the wary side, too. Better to err on the side of caution and all that. The last thing she wanted was one of those dogs attacking Miyataki. What could it hurt?

Oh right.

This would mean she would have to ask him.


The long search for the ever-illusive Sailor Moon had not ended in the months since she had disappeared. No, they had, if anything, grown even more vigilant. There were a few sightings of the girl here and there, usually around the Nerima ward, the Minato ward, or the distant Juuban ward from where she originated.

Now was one of those rare times Moon graced her home district with her presence. The people were ballistic to see her, but she ignored them, racing faster than any of them could hope to catch. She had not given up. She would not be returning to her parent's house. But she had something she needed. Someone she needed. Someone she'd needed for a long time.

While the reason Moon was searching for the cat was completely business, she… missed the fur-ball. She hoped fervently that she could take Luna and Artemis with her. But that all depended.

"Luna?" She whispered. "Luna, are you here?"

No one answered. She glanced around the menagerie of articles that belonged to the girl called Usagi Tsukino with displeasure. She could hardly believe that she once was this girl. Photographs of an innocent girl laughing with friends. Hearts in her eyes over some idiot boy who was equally immature.

Not Mamoru.

Her old pajamas. She couldn't recall the last time she'd worn pajamas. Sleeping in a bra and panties was infinitely more comfortable, not to mention much easier considering her place of residence. Changing into pajamas every night would be tiresome. Add to that the fact that certain ants had a strange and unnerving attraction to nylon… no… her pajamas were a thing of the past.

Many things were things of the past.

More photographs decorated the walls, though very few were of any real value to her now. She couldn't rememberany of the names of the boys plastered across her walls staring down at her like forgotten idols, long dusted over from lack of worship. The few that mattered to her were of family.

She scanned the room heatedly but found nothing. No hint of the cats, nor did she find any clues that would lead her to believe they had been here in some time. The cats had left Sailor Moon's old home quite some time ago.

Suddenly, her eyes scanned her bed, perfectly made as it never had been in her old life, and found a small wristband, that gave the semblance of a watch. Her old communicator.

Unexpected tears began to well behind her eyes but she made sure to hold them back. What the hell had she been training for, if nothing more then a few memories of talking to her friends over those watches could send her into a bawling fit?!

She shook herself and fastened the communicator to her wrist so tightly it bruised, but she did not care.

"Luna. Luna, answer me." She said, once she finally recovered her composure.

"Usagi!" Came the jovial voice of the little black cat. More memories welled, but she crushed them.

"Usagi is gone, Luna."

"Whatever you idiot!" The cat screeched back in an raucous hiss. Then her voice dropped almost instantly to a tearful relief. "I'm just… so glad to see you! I… wh-where are you? You're old house?"

Sailor Moon nodded. "I need to talk to you, Luna. About the pens."

Luna flinched. "Th-the pens? What about them?" She asked, defensively.

"I need them. I don't want any more Senshi popping up out of the water works. No one else is going to die trying to defend me." She said, her voice, ice.

"B-but Usagi! I—!"

"Sailor Moon, Luna. Usagi is gone." She repeated once again.

Suddenly a voice echoed in the background. "Usagi!?"

Moon's eyes widened. No… Luna wouldn't. There's no way that she would tell Naru… there was no way!

Instantly, Luna was picked up and thrown out of the way. Moon found herself face to face with Usagi's red-headed best friend from the past. Freckles gleaming with tears as they streamed down her face. "Usagi! It's you!"

Moon couldn't help the stutter that came to her lips. Luna surely wouldn't do this! Surely not! "N-Naru! Wh-what are you doing?"

Naru wiped her eyes tearfully, "I'm so glad… We've been so worried about you… me and Umino. L-Luna told us everything and we—!"

"Luna!" Moon roared into the communicator.

"Y-yes, uhm… Sailor Moon?" Came an uncharacteristically timid voice from the background.

"Why would you do this! Why could have possibly possessed you to—!"

"She's Sailor Saturn, Usagi!" Luna interrupted. "So it's okay! We just want to help you!"

And Moon's heart sank to the floor. She'd found Uranus, and realized that if she left the cat to herself, that this would happen. But… not Naru. Not sweet, innocent Naru. No… she couldn't let her go through what her friends had.

'Makoto… Minako… she'll hate me for this… She'll hate me.' Moon thought. 'But I can't let her do what you did. If anyone dies fighting, it's going to be me.'

"No! I don't want her to be a Senshi!" She shouted into the small watch.

If Luna was shocked, Moon couldn't see it. All she could see was Naru. Her face screaming with hurt as Moon yelled at the black cat hidden somewhere behind her.

"Take it away! Take the pen back! I'll not have Naru as a Senshi! I'll not have her—!"

With a jolt of shock, she felt one of her wires tripped.

A demon was attacking in Nerima.

Her eyes narrowed, the communicator fell to the bed, and speed untold graced her feet. Naru would have to wait.

Aiga laughed heartily as he let his arm drift around Ukyo. The girl was a treasure. She was perfect! Beautiful, funny, smart, and best of all, not naggy like most girls.

Ukyo looked at the arm for a few moments as if, unsure about whether its placement should be allowed or not. After a few tense moments where their laughter subsided, the girl grinned.

They were sitting on park bench amid the beauty of a late spring day. Blossoms sprouted everywhere of all different types. All was green and the sun was almost smiling down at them. Aiga couldn't remember a day better spent. He recalled Nioma from several nights ago and found that, strangely, he would rather be here in the park with Ukyo then lying with Nioma in bed.

She was more beautiful… that was part of it. But not nearly all. She was… amazing. Aiga couldn't fathom why Ranma had never gone after someone so… freely giving of joy.

They'd spent the whole day together, and then the next after school, and then, today, he'd met her here, also after school had ended. Talking. Just talking. Telling stories, most of his being lies with the hopes of impressing her though it seemed that wasn't needed. Her stories were far more interesting no matter how much he lied.

"You know, Aiga. I… I always thought you were just a huge pervert, that would do anything to get into a girls pants. It always ticked me off that you succeeded pretty often." The girl commented.

Aiga quirked an eyebrow. A small measure of guilt rose within him, and he twitched. Well… so that was true. So he had a healthy appreciation for the feminine form and liked to expose that. It's wasn't his fault that girls expected more of him!

"But… I guess I was wrong. A little at least. After talking with you for a while… you're… a good person, Sugar." She said, that dreamy voice of hers echoing around his ears.

He twitched again, and more prominently. He'd attempted to coerce her into letting him into her room, or bringing her to his several times and more already, though he did it in subtle ways that she never seemed to catch. Or perhaps she was just disregarding them. The lies he'd made up weren't exactly new ones either, but he hadn't used them very often. Stupid little stories of his past that gave girls that little sympathetic 'aww' look, that made them want him.

Some of them were even true, like the one where he saved his grandmother from a fire a few years back. That was a better story then half the lies he'd come up with.

But… something was wrong.

"And you're… pretty attractive too." She murmured. Suddenly, she laid into him, her head thumping lightly against his chest.

She snuggled. "And warm."

Well… that didn't make him twitch. But Aiga was beginning to feel quite guilty, over some of the things he'd said.

"Sure, you lie about half your stories, and even though you just want to sleep with me… There's something about you that wasn't there before…" Ukyo continued with her evaluation.

Aiga's eyes widened. "Wh-what!? When did I say that?" He shouted pushing the girl away from him so he could look into her chocolate brown eyes.

"You didn't. I just know. But… for some reason… I… don't mind." She whispered huskily, as her face moved close to his ear. "I… I think I want you, just as much as you want me."

He did want to sleep with her! Very much so! But… that wasn't quite all he wanted. That had been all he'd wanted a few days ago, but now… Aiga could feel the girl's warm breath on his ear, making him shiver in delight. His thoughts raced miles a minute. She just wanted him for sex? No! Wait… was that good? He tingled warmly and decided, if that was all he could get…

"Just looking at you makes me… feel good… like I need you, Aiga." Ukyo moaned, her voice weak.

Aiga was stunned. Not by the intent, but by the words. They were the exact same words Nioma had used. The same words Sorinayuga had used. The exact same. Same tone. Same lilt. Same… everything.

And his conscience burned, as realization coursed through him. Meneloth. Pleasure. He was giving them pleasure. But how?

Those two girls from the night before had never wanted him before. Never. They'd hated him, well, Nioma had, as he didn't really know her friend, but he had always subconsciously known that. Deep down it had tugged at him so he'd always taken it out on the girl, repeatedly asking her for dates, knowing she'd never say yes. He'd done it just to annoy her. But something had made those girls want him… Something wasforcing Ukyo to want him now.

He'd… raped them. And now he was about to do it again. Ukyo was devoted to Ranma. She'd had been for so long… there was no way that she could change this quickly even though Ranma was no longer available. Ukyo had hated him too.

Aiga had never slept with a girl who had not been willing. He didn't use alcohol or drugs. He was better then that and the action sickened him. If he was to get a girl in the sack, she'd better damn well wanthim there of her own free will.

Not till' Nioma and Sorinayuga. Despite the fact that he hadn't known he'd been doing something… or he'd refused to believe, his through choked up with unparalleled guilt.

Sure… he lied to get that willingness from the girl's he'd been with, but… This was… wrong.

"U-Ukyo… I'm sorry… I… can't do this." He sighed, taking her by the shoulders once more and pulling her away.

In doing so, he managed to catch a glimpse of something behind them.

Something… dangerous.

In an instant, he grabbed Ukyo and flung himself off the bench, just before gigantic claws cut through the wood he'd been sitting on.

"Wh-what the hell is that thing!?" He heard someone shout.

He turned, and stared up, Ukyo atop him, at a gigantic dog, bigger than even he was. It drooled sickeningly and its teeth snapped viciously at a wooden plank lodged between them. The bench was smoldering. The metal pieces on it were melting in an aura of heat that Aiga could feel scalding his skin.

Ukyo began screaming and he heaved the girl over him as far from the dog as he could. "Ukyo! Get the hell outta here!" He demanded, scrambling to his feet. He felt glad that his first thought had been, not for himself, but for Ukyo.

Maybe… maybe she was more to him then he'd even thought.

The dog snapped, finally severing the wood plank in two. Then it's deep blue black fur flamed, becoming burning skin, eyes red as the sun.

Aiga froze in terror. His limbs would not move, and the sweat pouring down his face had turned to ice despite the scalding heat he could feel as the dog approached, seemingly in slow motion.

Without warning, a gigantic metal spatula slammed into the dog's face, sending it flying back a few meters, it's burning paws skidding along the ground leaving trails of burned grass and concrete. The pressure of the strike alone knocked Aiga off his feet as well.

"Aiga. You can't handle this. You need to run." Ukyo said, turning half back to him, as she bent the twisted end of her spatula back into place.

"I-I… I can't just…" Aiga tried to stammer. Martial artist he was not, but nor was he a coward!

Ukyo smiled, offering him down a hand. "Thanks for saving me, sugar. Though when I find out what sorta drug you've been using on me the last few days, I swear you're dead."

Aiga gulped and took the hand, rising to his feet. Obviously the danger had stopped whatever it was that he had been doing to the girl. And… he was somewhat glad for that.

"I'm not going!" Aiga replied, angrily. "I'm no coward!"

The dog, finally recovered, fixed its eyes on the wielder of the baker's peel with ferocious intent, drooling. With a shiver, Aiga saw that the drool leaking from the twisted being's mouth was melting the grass it landed on into a sickening green mush.

'Acid…' He thought.

The flaming hound bounded at the long-haired girl, hissing steam and fire leaking from its putrid maw.

Ukyo dodged to the left and the dog followed instantly. Bounding into the air the chef sent a flurry of tiny spatulas reigning down and cutting into the dog's burning hide.

It barely seemed to notice, as it followed the girl into the air.

Ukyo landed on a tree branch launching another useless barrage of spatulas into the following dog. As it reached her, she jerked herself down to the ground, the dog's claws, black as midnight, sticking into the old wood of the tall tree.

The dog howled it's fury as it ripped its claws in an explosion of tree bark, but not fast enough for it to escape the explosion of one of Ukyo's okonomiyaki bombs.

It flew down, it's fire not near extinguished and crashed into the ground leaving a deadening crater, but in an instant it stood once more.

"What the hell is this thing made of? Steel!?" Aiga shouted. He wanted to help! But what could he do? He glanced around, desperate for something to assist Ukyo with.

"Dammit, Aiga! Get out of here!" Ukyo screamed. The dog was already barreling towards her again.

In the distance, Aiga noticed something. He rushed away. He would help! Dammit he would!

In her heart, Ukyo felt a pang of hatred rush through her, as Aiga sprinted away, not even looking back. Stupid bastard…

She parried the dog's next leap with the butt end of her baker's peel, diverting its momentum into the air. Then and huge uppercut swing slammed into its body sending it flying across the green grass. Her spatula shattered into two pieces and her hands wrung with the effort of the mighty blow.

The dog landed, not fifteen paces away, abused and disoriented, but recovering as fast as he had from the bomb. What could kill this thing!?

Whipping out a gigantic batter pot, and pulling almost forty of her small spatulas into work at once her hands flashed with an unholy edge moving at speeds she thought even Ranma might have trouble with.

The burning beast was ready to engage yet again, and rushing towards her in that same stupid charge.

She grit her teeth. Her arms burned with the effort of breaking her giant spatula, and her heart did too, knowing that it was more than just a large weapon. Her heirloom was destroyed. But that didn't matter now; she had to concentrate!

Closer. Five paces, the dog leapt once more, but it was finished. Ukyo had him.

"Batter Dragon!" She screamed into the boiling spring day.

A golden dragon of okonomiyaki batter blasted forth from her raging hands, roaring. The dog didn't even stand a chance as its eyes widened in its last moments. And then, the batter encased him, smothering the fire, moments before she lost sight of the beastly form.

The dragon flew into the sky, howling its fury in a great circular arc. Then it turned, and slammed itself towards the ground with all the force of an animalistic sledgehammer.

It exploded against the concrete sidewalk running through the park sending its batter-created body in all directions, leaving naught more then a crusty baked corpse of the dog that had attacked them.

Ukyo was breathing miles a minute as she dropped to a knee.

"It's over…" She sighed. "God… It's…"

Before she could even think, paws slammed into her shoulders clamping around them sending her flying back into the grass. She looked up into the endless array of teeth barred by the still living though, now unlit hellhound.

"What does it take to kill you, bastard!" She shouted hatefully into its deadly eyes. She'd kill it if it was the last thing she did!

The dog's teeth jutted forward and she jerked her head to the right. The dog ate dirt as she pulled yet another two tiny spatula from her belt and shoved their sharp bladed points into the thing's exposed sides. It didn't even react, the sharp blades bending and breaking on the steel like skin of the beast. It was still biting at the dirt. Seemed it had a strange weakness to getting things caught in its jaws.

Suddenly and gigantic 'boom' echoed above her and she froze, gulping as the beast was thrown off her with an impact more resounding then even her baker's peel had been.

A huge four ton wrecking ball had just slammed into the dog, sending it sprawling across the ground. It had missed her by less then a foot.

Her heart skipped a beat as she saw who it was operating the demolition vehicle. He'd come back!

Still didn't excuse how close that ball had been to killing her though!

"You idiot! You could have killed me!" Ukyo shouted to Aiga, who was cheerfully manning the gigantic piece of machinery. It was a good thing the ward always seemed to be doing extra construction on this park! Or perhaps it was rebuilding, considering the usual level of damage incurred from regular fights. This was Nerima after all.

"Told you I'd help!" He shouted back. His father was a construction worker. If he knew anything, it was how to run heavy machinery.

Through his smiling, Aiga didn't notice the hound had changed its target. With an echoing screech of claws on metal, the door to his current mode of transportation was ripped from its hinges, leaving Aiga once again facing the snarling beast.

"What do you want!?" He shouted at the thing as it lunged into the door, its massive frame too huge to fit through. As if in answer, it lit once again, its black and blue fur igniting in a torrential rage of flame.

Aiga backed up as far as he could into the small compartment. He heard Ukyo screaming but she couldn't do anything. She could barely move.

'I… I have to do something!' He thought desperately.

He looked around the compartment, and found nothing of use. Wait! He picked up the gigantic socket wrench laying on the metal floorboard and hurled it at the beast, but it bounced off the things head with an almost comical hollow thunk, flying out of the wrecker.

"Dammit!" He shouted in frustration.

Without warning, he felt it surge through him. His power. His magic. The magic Akane had awakened within him. It was there… just a touch away but…

'Nooo… Aww come on…! Do I have to?' He whined in his head. This simplycouldn't be the only way out! There had to be a—

He let out a cry of pain as one of the beast's claws raked through his arm.

"Fucker!" He bellowed, and then the scroll was there, held in his now bloody hand like it had been there from the start.

"Meneloth Power Make-Up!"

A burst of light blasted in a ring around him through the glass windows of the vehicle, and out the open door, blinding the dog in its pursuit, sending it tumbling, surprised, out of the door and to the ground.

Aiga felt again the magnificent power within her unleashed. The power that was hers by right. By birth. She shrunk in height, becoming smaller and more nimble. She felt her chest grow into breasts and then felt them be caressed in smooth black silk, her green fuku settling around her slim waist in tandem. The pain that had been searing her arm in agony was gone.

She was Meneloth.

She bounded out of the machine, landing on the opposite side of the once again recovering dog. If the dog's flames had been bright before, now they were a bonfire of light. She knew why. The dog fed on her power. Smelled it. Sought her out by it. That was why it was here. It wanted her magic.

It wouldn't have it.

"Hey puppy…" Meneloth cooed, running her fingers along her breasts in a deafeningly sexual manner, completely by instinct. Inside, Aiga was screaming in protest; she didn't want to do this! But it was the only way. Her body seemed to know exactly what to do. She knew how to win this battle. And she would win. People didn't die while she was around. Especially not by some vile, burning, demon mutt.

The dog's eyes snapped to her, drool dripping from its angered maw. Instantaneously though, the anger left its eyes.

"Good Puppy… You feel that…?" She asked, knowing quite well what the dog was feeling, though having no understanding as to how. Pleasure was blurring through her body, though she could stave off the overwhelming rush gave her, and she instinctively protruded it to her target.

The great beast lulled swaying on its feet as if drunk. Ukyo watched in mute horror and disbelieving humor as the scene folded out in front of her. Not that she could help it, but her eyes were trained adoringly to the Senshi of pleasure, as waves after wave of intense heat filled her being.

"Now come here, my pet. My love. You want more…? Don't you?' Aiga's words egged the dog on and it drunkenly stumbled towards her.

Meneloth smiled as she, in turn walked towards the beast, her own steps only a slight bit wobbly despite the mind numbing pleasure. The creature's steps becoming more jagged and drunken by the pace, and soon she was upon it, but the dog made no move to strike. Its fires burned brighter then a thousand stars, and brightened still further with each step, but she did not turn back.

She knelt down and placed her hand across the dog's neck as it swayed, on the verge of toppling to its side. "Good little one. Good."

With a sigh, sweat pouring down her brow, she reached with her other hand into the valley between her breasts, blood still leaking from her arm, and pulled out two menacing looking daggers. 'What the hell are knives doing in my breasts!?' She thought, even as she juggled one of them to her other hand without a thought. The demon dog didn't even seem to notice, too drunk on the unbelievable pleasure Meneloth was granting to care.

"Good puppy…" She cooed one last time, before aligning her weapons to the sides of the beast's neck.

Then the dagger's blades met each other within the beast's throat.

The hideous demon fell to the ground, lifeless, its fire snuffed like a wax-less candle.

Meneloth sighed in relief, blood washing down her fingers. With dim comprehending and the loss of adrenaline, and the fading sensation of pleasure, she realized much of the blood was her own. "I… I did it…" She murmured. She jerked the daggers free of the corpse, twining them together and shakily placing them back in their pocket, after wiping them clean on the dogs pelt, feeling the strange sensation of their disappearance.

"Who the hell are you." Came a deep voice. It was not a question. It was a demand.

Meneloth stood, her hand, quivering in trepidation, both at what she had done, and what she had become, now that sense was flooding back in, and instinct, fading. She stood, wobbling and turned to face the voice, and found the holy picturesque vision of Sailor Moon staring her down, murder in her eyes.

"I… I…" She tried to say but she realized with sudden fear that her throat was dry.

A black haze filled her vision as she realized that blood was still gushing from her arm where the beast had clawed it. She realized that her consciousness was slipping and had been ever since the cut had been imbedded in her arm.

'Heh… there's my cosmic backlash…' she thought bitterly, staring up at the anger driven aura protruding from Sailor Moon.

To Ukyo's and Sailor Moon's horror, the girl collapsed, her Senshi uniform fading, to reveal a mangled and unconscious Aiga Nakamuya, blood trailing down his arm in a flowing river.

"How many are dead, Rubos?" Taimaat demanded, sitting on his golden commander's chair at the bridge of his ship.

The sinister looking guardsman, personal guard to the once-queen Mairis, held his gaze steadily. He was the only one of her guard who had been able to do so, all those millennia ago. The rest had been killed. Weaklings."Eight Sir. Two in the Northern continent there, called America. Three in Europe, One in Tibet, a small place, just there. And two traversed the ocean to that small island called, Japan. They were both killed."

"Eight…" The Dark King sighed. "Eight. They are more prepared then I'd thought."

"It is so, my lord." The stalwart guardsman replied.

"Seems our first target is this… Europe. Mairis. We have business before I go. Ready yourself." He commanded.

The ex-queen almost tripped over herself as she stood and left her seat, undressing as she walked away, scrambling to please her master and husband.

Taimaat grinned. It was no matter if it took ten days or ten years. He would find her. And… torturing her mother had an appealing taste, as well as a way of lengthening his patience.

There would be vengeance. For the death of his son. For twenty thousand years of incarceration. Oh, there would be vengeance.

It was only a matter of time.

Ranma walked a bit nervously into the office of her psychiatrist. It had been some time since she had been here last, what with her being unconscious the previous Monday, but it felt good to again walk the halls of the Minato Ward's Hospital. She found solace here. Comfort. Relief from the pain living the lie she felt she was.

"I'm sorry, my dear." The attendee, a young caucasian woman who looked to be in her early twenties with long blonde hair, said as she approached, alerting Ranma to a problem of some sort. "Aiko isn't here yet. I… don't know what's happened to her, but wherever she is, you can bet her beeper is going miles a minute."

Ranma shrugged. "I… I guess I'll wait then. She's okay, isn't she?"

The secretary shrugged. "She generally makes her own hours. Schedules her patients to whatever time she wants. Her job's pretty much self run and she doesn't really have a boss except for the Chief of Medicine and he trusts her. I'm sure she'll be in. She's never missed a patient before."

"O-Okay. Well… I didn't know if she knew… well… I wasn't here last week because I was in the hospital. I hope she doesn't think I just skipped." Ranma replied.

"Oh, it was you, Miss Ranma? I knew one of her patients was hurt. Poor woman was frantic! Rushed in here, grabbed her coat and a can of soda from her fridge, and rushed out like the world was ending. Said she had to get to the Hospital in Nerima, she did."

Ranma was always intrigued by this secretary. She had the most unusual way of talking, and a strange accent as well. Though she seemed just as genuinely cheerful as Aiko, unlike the doctor, this secretary always had baggy dead eyes that made her seem as if she never got any sleep. Regardless, she was still kind.

"Sh-she visited? I didn't know that…" Ranma beamed inwardly.

"Yeah, she did. Cancelled her other appointments too. Rescheduled them all so she could stay for two hours with you in Nerima. Never seen her get so worked up." The woman quipped. "Ah well. I'm glad you're okay, girl. Waiting room's up the hall on your left." Ending with a pointed finger down the intended hall, the woman walked off briskly, idly checking off things on a clipboard.

"She seems way too busy." Ranma mused idly.

She took a few steps in the direction of the waiting room when, without warning, the entrance door crashed open, and in walked Sailor Moon herself, in all her white and blue clad glory, moving three steps again faster then the secretary had been. A boy was held in her arms, blood trailing down her fingers as she held a gaping wound in his arm closed to slow the bleeding.

For a few moments Ranma was baffled by the unbelievable power that she felt rolling off the fuku-clad girl. It came in values exponential to her own and no matter how much she wished she could be otherwise, she was utterly awed.

Then she noticed the boy cradled in the Senshi's good arm. "Aiga!?"

She dashed forward and met the eyes of the uniformed maiden, concern flashing across her face. Sure, she hated Aiga but she didn't want him dead! Striding to keep up with the taller girl she fell into step behind her.

"Wh-what the hell happened!?" She exclaimed.

"He was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with definitely, the wrong clothes. I need a stretcher over here! Three siphons of gauze wrap and set up for a possible blood transfusion!" She shouted toward as passing nurse who was simply standing there, gawking.

"Move it!" She exploded, and the nurse leapt to obey.

"Dammit!" The Senshi muttered under her breath. "Why? Why do people keep getting hurt? I try so hard but… they keep getting hurt."

Ranma felt a pang of guilt for her earlier anger at the Senshi. She wasn't babying her. The truth was, this woman… this magical girl, wanted to protect everyone. And it seemed she was doing her damn well best to see that everyone was safe.

"U-Usagi…" Ranma tried, but flinched at the rebound.

"I swear to god if I hear that name one more time today I'm amputating an arm, and I don't care whose it is!" The blonde screamed, whipping her face around to Ranma and stopping for a moment.

'Okay!' Ranma jumped. Maybe she'd thought too soon.

A stretcher and the nurse from earlier seemed to materialize out of no where and Moon laid the unconscious boy down with all the gentleness a mother would give to a babe, still clutching the ripped arm together tightly.

"Make that a definite blood transfusion. I don't know his type. Someone will have to test." She barked. "His name is Aiga Nakamuya. He's from the Nerima ward, but I brought him here. This place was closer."

A doctor, a real doctor, turned around the corner to stand in the path of the Senshi and the stretcher. "Ma'am, who the hell are you, and what on earth are you wearing?" He asked in an extensively aggressive tone. Obviously not a big watcher of the news.

Or teen magazines for that matter.

"I'm the person keeping this kid alive, Doc Rekeshi. Now are you gonna stand there or you gonna help?" She barked again, her stride not halting a bit, forcing the man to move in beside her.

Ranma still followed, but she hung back. She knew little of healing. "Aiga…"

"Good, well, let go of his arm, let me take it from here." The man insisted, striding behind the Senshi with a practiced ease, gloves already on his hands.

Sailor Moon nodded and, both still walking, the doctor placed his hands over hers, holding the wound. She lifted her hands, while he squeezed. Blood covered them but she ignored it, as the stretcher continued without her.

"What happened? Is he okay!?" Ranma cried as soon as the girl turned around, bloodied hands at her sides.

"I think he'll be fine." She said curtly, her voice betraying little emotion. "And you… I wanted to talk with you."

Ranma blinked. "Why?"

"What attacked you? Was it a gigantic dog that lit itself on fire? Or was it a Black Senshi? Do you remember how the blood got all over the ground everywhere? I need to know everything." She demanded, staring Ranma straight dead in the eyes.

Ranma would never admit to the small amount of fear that raced up her spine at that terrifying glare, backed with an aura that could call meteors from the sky. But she did feel it. "I… It was a dog. A huge dog. I… killed it. After that I remember that I couldn't breath… choking on blood I think. Someone was trying to help me, scooping blood out of my mouth maybe, looking back, but I couldn't see. There… was nothing after that."

"Scooping blood…?" The Senshi mused. Perhaps the black Senshi had been in the wrong place at the wrong time then too? That would fit the actions of Aiga much better. He hadn't been sending that dog at anyone. It had been attacking him. Her… and Aiga was quite assuredly the black Senshi.

Perhaps she had been trying to help Ranma by fighting the dog and she'd killed it after Ranma had been attacked. Covered in the beast's blood already, the other Senshi would have looked terrifying to anyone. Especially hovering over Ranma scooping blood out of her mouth. Like some sort of sick black vampire.


But then, perhaps this was all a trap to lure her into the open. She would take no chances. She would trust no one unless they proved themselves trustworthy. Aiga had to wake up. Immediately.

Like Ranma had.

"You… you killed it? How?" She asked. "I know you're strong… but this thing… It was practically made of steel." The Senshi told.

Ranma smirked. "I blew it apart."

Moon quirked an eyebrow but didn't question. She trusted Ranma, and generally if the girl said something was true she stood by it despite whatever type of evidence was posed against it.

"Thank you Ranma." She said, after she mused all the facts around in her mind. She turned and began to walk away. Aiko had an appearance to make. And Moon liked being Aiko. It was her most comely personality, and Ranma could probably use that right now.

She could too. She had to visit Naru soon. That wouldn't be fun. Not at all.

"Sailor Moon, wait!" Ranma cried, grabbing one bloody hand to stop the walking power bomb.

Moon turned, and looked back to Ranma. "Come with me." She said. We'll talk somewhere less out in the open."

People were beginning to notice that Sailor Moon herself had made an appearance. Many of the nurses and staff were now standing and gawking at her, or chatting excitedly. Some were getting brave and looking like they were about to approach. Luckily, her bloody hands kept them on edge. Sailor Moon seemed to have… changed a bit. Grown a bit more brutal.

She had hard eyes, too.

Ranma nodded. She followed the blonde girl, letting go of her arm and found herself led almost instantly into a girls' bathroom. It was strange, how well the girl seemed to know her way around this hospital. It was as if she knew the place intimately.

Ranma stepped past the Senshi, as she lingered by the door. Once it was closed, the blonde held her hands up to the cracks. Flowing through her hand, Ranma could feel the energy as it seeped into those cracks and glued the door closed.

Then she stood there, staring at the door. Slowly, the Senshi turned and strode into the room to a sink and began washing her hands clean of the blood.

"Uhm… Moon-chan…?" Ranma asked timidly. Something was wrong. Ranma could feel the oppressive waves of depression rolling off the Senshi of the Moon almost as prominently as she felt the waves of unimaginable power.

"Why, Ranma? Why does someone always get hurt… no matter how much I try to help? Why does someone always get hurt?" She asked as a small tear blanketed her eye. It did not fall though. She wouldn't let it fall. "I've done everything. Laid signals so I can know where and when any of them are attacking. All over Tokyo! All over! But I'm always too late… I didn't even know about yours until I saw it on the news!"

Ranma didn't know what to say. Didn't know what to think. "Y-you've… you've saved my life. Once at least. Granted, I'd'a been fine even without your help." Ranma said smugly. She realized quickly that being smug was definitely not helping the girl and changed her tactic. "But… I… You can't protect everyone. N-not alone." Ranma stammered searching for the right words. She'd always hated it when girls cried. Even now that she was one.

Moon was almost desperate with loneliness. She failed at every turn. Mercury had always been the one to keep the team on top of things. Her computer could tell a youma was attacking before it even thought about revealing itself. She just wasn't that good!

Not yet.

"You're wrong!I can! I know I can! I don't need the other Senshi's help! They can stay normal! They can live normal lives… so… so they don't die for me like…" She trailed off, staring into the mirror.

Silence gripped the room for a time, Moon's voice echoing off the ceramic tiles and drywalls. Ranma let it stay that way. Silent while Moon tried to come to terms with her own shortcomings. Then, she hopped up on the counter and leaned her back against the long mirror, eyes boring into the burdened Senshi.

"I thought that too, you know?" She murmured, she, too, not looking at the person she was speaking with. Her eyes had a distant look in them as if, seeing things Moon could not. "I thought I could protect everyone. Protect her… There was a girl I loved, and someone kidnapped her. I… we fought… It turns out that I could. No one died that day. But she hasn't spoken ever since… and I've… well… I lost something really important to me too."

'Your manhood. Your fiancée. Fiancées. Your confidence. Your will to live, half the time.' Moon mentally ticked off in her head.

"I figure I had it coming, looking back." Ranma said. "If I hadn't been so damn arrogant… I… I probably would have asked for help or…. Or something, you know!? Maybe then she would've…"

Moon cracked a wet eyebrow. As Aiko, she'd never heard this.

"Anyways," Ranma continued, seeming to realize the truth of her own words with surprise even as she said them. "What I'm sayin' is that I shoulda' known I couldn't fight him alone. That's all."

Moon sniffed, reigning her anger and loneliness in. "And when you were fighting that youma? The one who's hand I cut off? What was that? You should've known then, too!"

Ranma grinned. "What can I say? I'm one stubborn chick. I hate to lose… but it does happen." She clapped her arm around the Senshi's shoulder and found that she liked it there. "Look… I… I don't think you should stop what you're doing but… if help comes along… you should take it."

Moon was shocked by those words. As Aiko, she had never once heard Ranma refer to herself as a girl. Fitting that she should choose her own rather rude jargon to use on herself for the time. Maybe she was beginning to accept it. Maybe, Aiko really was helping her. Either way, it implied deep meanings that she used the most demeaning phrase that she ever used for girls on herself.

If she'd been Aiko at that moment, she'd have tried to act differently. But for once she was venting her own pain.

"But what if they die again!?" Moon shouted. "What if… what if I can't protect them again!? What if the people trying to help… die because I freeze, and can't do anything?"

Ranma arm moved across the slightly taller girl's shoulder, rubbing it with a friendly soothing hum of skin against fabric. The words, so difficult before, seemed to be simply coming now, as if they had always been there. Maybe it was an added bonus for being a girl. She was more in touch with her feelings or something like that… either way, she could feel when she was about to say something wrong. And right. It felt good, knowing what to say for once. Curiously, the words she chose were not hers, but her father's.

"Heh. Be a man! If you let fear get the better of you… ever… then you've already lost." She quoted. "I'm guessing that you've found some of the other Senshi. After all there are at least four planets we've never seen. The more of you there are, the better chance of winning and beating whatever these… things are."

"I… You don't understand." The girl sighed, still staring at herself in the mirror. "If I let them fight, they could easily die. And worse yet, they might die because of me! I can't deal with that… not again. You just don't understand."

Ranma thought for a moment. She'd known many people. Friends, and enemies alike. But she'd never really… lost anyone.

Not really.

"Maybe I don't." She replied. "But… they could still die because of you… So what better way to die then to die fighting?"

"In bed, with wrinkles?" Moon retorted, though the malice had left her voice, making it seem almost a joke. The wetness in her eyes was fading but the girl couldn't help but rub them despite having not let a single tear fall.

Ranma grinned and, with a shrug, remarked, "To each his own. I'd rather fight to make sure I get old then have someone else do all the work for me!"

Moon couldn't help the small smile that came to her face. "You… are a rare person, Ranma."

"You have noidea." Ranma replied, glad that, for once, she'd managed to help someone instead of hurt them with her words.

For a moment, Moon was silent. She turned her face back to the mirror, staring into her own eyes. "I… just don't want anyone else to get hurt because of me." She sighed.

"Just because it happened once doesn't mean it'll happen again. Usagi." Ranma punctuated her name, attesting in part to her own bravery. That hadn't sounded like a false threat earlier.

Moon flinched. "I'm not…"

"Yeah. Ya are." Ranma interrupted. "I've heard the stories. You grew up as Usagi. And I still see a regular person sitting right behind that mask you always keep up. I've been seein' this shrink. She's helpin' me see stuff like this, more then she even knows. You've got a right to be normal, too."

Moon snapped her eyes to Ranma, but the sharp retort she had on her lips died instantly as she was struck dumb and speechless.

"Oh my… Go…"

There upon Ranma's forehead was a gleaming silver crescent moon, its points reaching for the sky.

"Who am I? What do you mean who am I? You know who I am!" Setsuna screamed. "I'm your daughter!"

Aya Meioh turned a inquisitive eye to the girl. "Well… I must say you're the splitting image of me but I think I'd know if I'd had a daughter, my dear." She smirked with a wry grin.

"L-look! I know your mad at me for being gone so long but… I was… I was kidnapped! Honest!" Setsuna said, grabbing her mother's shoulders.

Aya's eyebrow raised. "I… I'm sorry for you my dear, but I think it would be better if you informed the police then me. I'm not kidding; I've never seen you before. If you would, kindly, leave my house, now?"

Setsuna's eyes widened. "No."

"Dad!? Dad, you… you remember me… right?" She asked, almost afraid of the answer.

The man was fuming. "I think I'd remember if I had a daughter too! Now, get out!" He bellowed.

Setsuna flinched. "You… you don't…"

His eyes burned, and Setsuna gulped. "A-alright."

She dashed out of her house's living room. As she departed the only thing she heard was a muttered, "kid's these days…"

'No… this can't be happening…' She thought, madly, wondering what she could do.

Saiya. Saiya would know what to do! Dashing down the crowded street, Setsuna lunged forward at a break-neck pace seeking her best friend's house.

Arriving there in what seemed seconds she pounded frantically on her friend's front door.

"Saiya! Saiya I need to talk to you!" She cried, still pounding relentlessly.

The door opened in short order and her smiling brown haired best friend answered the door. "Can I help you?" She asked.

"Seiya! Seiya my parents! They… they acted like they'd never met me before!" She exclaimed heatedly, trying to think her words through. Dammit! She was better than this!

"I… I'm sorry? No offense but, do I know you?" She asked, with a confused look on her face.

"No… no no no…"

"It… You don't remember me…?" She asked…. Plainly hoping against hope for the answer in the negative.

Seiya seemed reluctant. She wanted to answer that she knew the girl in front of her but, she for the life of her, did not. "I… I'm sorry. I've never seen you before, that I remember. And I think I'd remember hair like yours! It's beautiful."

Setsuna screamed in her mind, her eyes wetting as she backed away, off the porch. It was as if she was in some cheesy horror movie. Except it was real.

Kashi… Surely Kashi hadn't forgotten her! He… he might want to after what she'd done but… She had to be sure! She had to be!

She looked up, barely keeping the tears from falling out her eyes and turned, dashing away from the surprised girl's doorstep.

And there was Lio.

"You… I… what…." She tried to say, but found she had no words. She wanted to be angry. She wanted anger to flow through her. This man had done something to her family! Her parents. Her best friend! But… her heart sped up at the very sight of him.

His arms folded over his stomach, he stood in her path staring at her, his eyes locking with hers and staring directly into every fiber of her being.

"They… don't remember you, my dear. None of them do. You are a thing of the future. There can be no memory of you by those who cannot see you as you are now." He said, somberly.

"I… No! That's not true!" She yelled at him.

Behind her, Seiya was still staring at them, mildly intrigued by an interesting looking conversation. Not worried like a friend would be.

'It is true.'Whispered the small voice in the back of her head.

"It is true." He replied. "You can hear them telling you the same right now. The gates know you. They love you, and hate your pain. But you must see."

"It's NOT!"Setsuna cried, tears now falling freely from her eyes, denial evident.

Lio strode forward and embraced the girl. She tried to protest but found that her arms had not strength next to his. She pounded his chest but he didn't even flinch.

"Why me! Why now!?" She screamed. "I'm not your damn plaything!" Even though she felt like it.

"I have no control over it. I brought you back through my gate to the world of the living. Then, your soul finds a babe to wrap itself it. The gates call you when your time comes."

"I didn't feel the gates calling me! Just you! You kidnapping me off the street!None of this would've happened if it weren't for you!" She screamed again, staring into his eyes.

"Everything would have happened anyways. You know this, Setsuna." He placated, but she would have none of it.

"Why! You could have let them call me then instead of just bringing me to them!" She bawled. Even as she yelled, she buried her face in his shoulder. Dammit, why was the stupid appendage so damn comforting!? She shouldhate him right now!

"And let you develop further relationships? Let you become so close with your… Kashi, that when the day finally came that the gates called, you would die from the pain of him not remembering you? Setsuna! I'm not trying to hurt you!" He soothed. His words, firm as they were, were soothing.

'He speaks true.'The voice in her mind whispered.

"But… but I…"

"I love you, Setsuna. I've loved you for more eternities than you can imagine right now. Please… don't hate me. It is the only way." He murmured.

His hands drifted over her head, hugging it close to his shoulder as she cried. His other hand found the small of her back and laid gently on it pressing the bawling girl still further to him. Hours she stood there in his arms, not even really noticing when her own drifted over his neck.

"I'll always be here for you, Setsuna. Always." He whispered, over and over into her ears as she cried.

And she believed him.

End Chapter
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