So, I finally understand how authors have huge gaps in their postings. Sometimes life just doesn't cooperate. You have every right to be upset that it has taken this long, and for that I apologize. With that being said, FINALLY a new chapter!
Ranma looked intently at the cat, or at least what he thought was a cat, on his daughters lap. Luna noted that none of the four seemed frightened, or for that matter even that surprised. She was also relieved that none of them were backing away out of fear.
Finally, Ranma turned to his oldest son and broke the silence. "Dai, get some warm water."
Of all the things Luna expected to hear, that was probably at the bottom of the list! She expected something along the lines of 'Who are you', or 'what are you doing here', but not a request for water. Luna just glanced from face to face, deciding to let them make the next move.
Dai quickly returned with a small glass of water and handed it to his father. "Before we go any further" he said to Luna, "I'd just like to check something. This isn't hot, so it won't hurt you." He walked over to Luna and poured a small amount of the water on her front paw.
What the heck! She thought as she shook the stuff off her paw. "What was that for?" She blurted as the man stepped back with a puzzled look on his face.
"That, oh nothing, just checking something." He sat the glass down next to the wall. "So…care to tell us a little about yourself?"
Luna was glad the girl still had the composure to not throw her off her lap…yet. "Um, would you believe I'm not just a regular cat?" She looked at them with a hopeful look in her eye.
"Yeah, I think we've already figured that out!" said Riku. "Who sent you here?"
"Um…nobody…you were the one that brought me here, right?"
"She's right. You found her unconscious." Ranko said.
"You don't by chance know a Shampoo do you?" asked Ranma.
Now it was Luna's turn to look puzzled. "Shampoo? What kind of shampoo?"
"Hmmm, may not. Either way, I think you owe us an explanation, don't you think?"
Luna sweat-dropped. Oh boy, don't really want to lie to them at this point, they already lost some trust in me. "I'm a Mau."
"A meow?" echoed Dai.
"No, a Mau. M-A-U, Mau."
"Kinda look like a cat to me, just a talking one." Offered Riku, then he got a thoughtful look on his face. "Mom noticed she had a weird Ki signature. Said it kinda looked human, but not quite."
Ranma studied the Mau and then nodded. "She's right. It's highly shielded, but if you concentrate, you can see the hidden signature".
"Yes, we look like cats, but obviously we are quite a bit more intelligent. There aren't many of us on…um…in this country. I only know of one other at present."
Ranko "Okay, you're a special cat. A talking cat. That we just happened to pick up?"
Ranma stared at Luna for a bit longer. "I think her Ki is close enough to human that this will work. First, do you have a name? Calling you cat or Miss Kitty seems a little silly I suppose."
"Luna. My name is Luna."
"Okay Luna. I'm going to ask you just one simple question. If you lie, we'll know. You already know we can see you Ki."
"Ki?" Luna interrupted.
"Yes, Ki. You know, life force." He continued, "Anyway, I have the ability to spot changes in your Ki signature that will tell me if you are lying." Now Ranma didn't know this for a fact. He could do it with people, but he had no idea if it worked on this ca…creature, or not. "So, my one simple question to you is, do you bear any ill-will to my family or myself."
Luna looked into the man's deep blue eyes. She could feel something in what he said. It wasn't directly psychic, but he was doing something. It didn't hurt, but she could sense it all the same. So, do I bear them ill-will? Up until I met them, I might have said yes based on Setsuna's assumptions, but now, I don't think so. They've done nothing but help me, and from what I could tell, Riku is a really good kid.
"No, I don't. Right now I'm just thankful for your help when I was hurt. If you'd like, I'll leave right now if it will make you more at ease."
Ranma stared at the Mau for a bit longer, then visibly relaxed, and released a rather charming smile. "Works for me then. Welcome to the Saotome compound."
Luna looked at the now smiling faces. "That's it? No long interrogations. No suspicions?"
"Nope" answered Riku. "If Pop says you're okay, then you are okay."
"But…but…what if I was lying?"
"One, you weren't, and two, we can take care of ourselves. Really" said Ranma.
Riku moved up to Ranko and asked. "Luna, would you like to meet Mom. Or, I guess would you like to be introduced at least?"
Luna nodded. "I'd be delighted!"
"So, has it gotten any better?" asked Rei.
Setsuna shook her head. "No, it hasn't. Now that I know how to look for the problem, I can see that only about twenty percent of the current timelines are being considered for Crystal Tokyo probabilities. At least 80 percent of the timelines are now coming back with the 'null' designation. I just don't understand what could have shifted things so much. We were careful with Hotaru, she didn't get grabbed by those people, so what could have changed."
Michiru decided to speak up. "Well, I'll tell you one thing that changed. Hotaru sure isn't happy about how we treated them. She hasn't spoken but a few words to Haruka or I since then. She doesn't understand why we should treat them they way we did after they helped us. She insists they are nice people."
Setsuna paused and thought. Could it be, do we need to be friends with them? But then why did Rei's fire reading show that Hotaru with them was a problem? "I don't know yet, but it could be. We may have to really sit down with Hotaru and explain the situation again. Let her know that we aren't trying to be mean, we just want to protect Crystal Tokyo."
After two days, Usagi had become concerned about Luna being missing. She finally decided to mention it now that everyone had gathered again to talk about the current situation. "Um…uh…excuse me. But has anyone seen Luna since that fight?"
Minako's eyes shot up. "Wait, are you sure she isn't with Artemis? I know he left the fight early. I thought he must have gone off with Luna. I thought they were trying to settle things between them."
Usagi visibly relaxed. "Oh, maybe that's where she is!"
Setsuna stood up and walked over to Minako and Usagi. "So you haven't seen either one of them since the battle with the Saotomes?"
The two blonde Senshi shook their heads in the negative.
"Ami, can you use the Mercury computer to locate them?" asked Makoto.
"No, you remember, that was one of the difficult traits of the Mau, They were always fanatics about their privacy. They long ago negotiated that one of the prices for them to act as advisors to the throne was that they could have their privacy. Most of the Silver Millennium equipment was specifically designed to not be able to track them."
Setsuna walked back and forth. "I don't like this. I know Luna was unhappy about us not listening to her, but I wonder if she and Artemis were hurt or….hurt in the battle." No use getting Usagi too upset, it may be nothing. "Ami, you and Makoto go back to the park and see if you can find out anything. Usagi, you and Minako try to see if you can find them in any of their usual hangouts." She stopped and then looked at Michiru and Haruka, "and you two see if you can talk to Hotaru, see if you can make her understand what we are trying to do."
"I just hope that Luna and Artemis are all right." Sighed Usagi.
Meanwhile, a white cat with a bandage on its head sneezed.
"Oh, I hope the kitty cat isn't getting a cold. He's still healing from where that branch fell on him a few days ago." Said the little girl who lived near the park, looking at her new rescued pet.
"Oh my! So you are a Mau? Well, I'm pleased to meet you Luna" said Kasumi
Luna still couldn't get over how accepting this family was of her existence. She expected, shock, denial, all sorts of reactions, but never pleasant introductions.
They had found Kasumi tending the garden near the bench at the overlook. Riku had introduced Luna to his mother as any child would introduce any of their new friends. Kasumi, of course, didn't bat an eye.
Kasumi put her hand to her chin "You know, somehow, I've heard of the Mau before."
"Really?" Luna squirmed a bit. "Where could you have heard about us? Hardly anybody knows we exist."
"Well, I'm not sure, but I think it might have been in the archives. I'll have to check my copy when we get back to the house." Explained Kasumi.
"Oh yes, Ranma and I retrieved an extensive collection from the Amazons. They still have their copy, but we have one as well."
Amazons…I remember talking to Setsuna about them once. If I remember correctly, they had run across Pluto enough times to at least recognize she was from the Silver Millennium thought Luna. I wonder how they ended up with a copy. As I recall, the Amazons weren't known for their sharing abilities.
"So how did you get a copy of their archives" asked Luna
Ranma was no longer paying attention to the conversation, as he, Dai and Ranko had lay back in the Sun and decided to doze for a bit. Only Riku and Kasumi were active in the conversation.
"Oh, that's a rather long story. Riku can probably fill you in later on the details, but Ranma and I had a little adventure many years ago where we were stranded in an Amazon village."
"Wow, that must have been tough on you being that young. Did they capture you? I've heard they can be quite unfriendly at times."
"Oh my, no." Kasumi smiled. "One of Ranma's friends tried send us to this abandoned realm of 'yesterday' where we lived for many years before we were able to return. Both Ranma and I are quite older than we look."
"Oh…I see. I was wondering how you could have children as old as yours and yet seem so young."
"We never have figured that out. There was nothing in the archives that mentioned ever getting back. Between the two of us, we managed to do so, but it seems that we never have quite…" she paused, looking for the right word. "Integrated ourselves back into this world completely. Ranma thinks that we just never synchronized back correctly."
Kasumi leaned over and whispered into Luna's ear. "Just between us girls, would you believe I'm almost 60 years old?"
Kasumi leaned back, and Luna studied her carefully. Either this oh so pleasant woman was completely loony…or… Wasn't Setsuna's problem about the Time Gates not being able to analyze the temporal probabilities due to a possible outside source? I wonder….
Riku finally cut in. "So how long can you stay here Luna? I…kinda…liked your company." He mumbled at the end.
Luna looked at the young boy, whom she'd recently learned was somewhat lonely. If I stay here, I can learn more about them. If I go back now, Setsuna may still just ignore me, but if I get more information….plus…I kind of like it here. I'm not an advisor, to be listened, or not listened to. I get to have some friends finally…plus, I could always stay a few more days for Kasumi's cooking. Gah! I'm starting to sound like Usagi!
Luna looked at the boy. "Oh, I'm sure I can stay a bit longer. If it's all right? You've already been exceptionally kind."
"Why Luna, you can stay as long as you want" beamed Kasumi.
That night, as Ranma and Kasumi lay down for bed, Kasumi rolled on her side and whispered "Ranma, you still awake?"
"Ranma, I need you to do me a favor."
"I know it sounds strange, but…I'd like you to make an effort to not show your curse to anyone new for a while." She could feel his body return to wakefulness. She had his full attention now.
Ranma rolled from his back to face Kasumi. "Why? What's going on?"
Kasumi frowned slightly. After all these years, a frown by Kasumi, however slight, was enough to send every warning bell off in Ranma's head. "Is something wrong?" he asked, much more urgently than before.
"No, not really. And Luna is no threat…it's just…I had a…dream a few nights ago. You know how you have your dreams all the time? Well, maybe I had one like it. At the time, I thought it was just a strange dream, but now…well, I figure it doesn't hurt to take this precaution. And no, I'm not going to go into details, because I'll just feel silly. And I'm not particularly worried about Luna, but the Senshi we fought the other day…well…I just think it would be a good idea if they didn't know about the curse."
"Why the curse?" asked Ranma.
"Believe it or not, I'm not sure…I just think that somehow…it's a good idea to just keep that bit of information to ourselves for a while. I know that if you want, you can keep the water away from you now."
Ranma looked at Kasumi's eyes. Hell, he could never deny her anything. If she said it would be a good idea, Ranma trusted her.
"No problem, consider it done."
Kasumi leaned forward and gave him a kiss. "Thank you". One of the things that made Ranma so special was his unwavering trust in her, and this is one time that she felt it was nice not to have to justify her every request.
Usagi was getting desperate. Luna was nowhere to be found, and nobody wanted to help find her. It boiled down to most of them thinking that Luna was off sulking somewhere. She was presently searching the town around the park where they last battled the youma. Every day after school she went looking for her friend, but nobody had seemed to know anything about her.
Luna was currently lying in the sun near the window at the front of the house. She was semi-comatose after just having finished another simply wonderful meal that Kasumi had prepared.
This must be what it's like to go on a vacation. She thought to herself. The life of the Senshi was so filled with chaos that she'd almost forgotten what it was like to relax.
She shifted her glance to see the youngest, Riku, lying in the sun with her. He's such a sweetheart she mused. He'd quickly adjusted to her being able to carry on a conversation with him, and soon was talking her little pointed ears off. It wasn't that his family treated him poorly. Goodness knows that Luna had had plenty of time to observe the Saotomes this last week. As near as she could tell, they were one of the nicest, most peaceful families she'd ever known…well…that is with the exception of the absolutely ridiculous training they went through every day. She had now observed several of the "training" sessions that occurred in the special dojo under the large tree. After watching the Saotomes practice, particularly Ranma and Kasumi, she had serious doubts about the ability of the Senshi to overcome their combat skills.
She lay there in the Sun, contemplating the people she'd come to already think of as friends. The kids were all sweethearts in their own way. A bit rambunctious, but she could tell they all had hearts of gold. Ranma was without a doubt a master of his art, and she was sure she'd seen only a part of his skills so far. Kasumi…Kasumi was a real surprise. Peaceful, calm, a wonderful mother…and yet in the dojo it was if she had a completely different personality. All in all, Luna had already decided that whoever…whatever they were, the Saotomes were not some evil force trying to fight the Senshi.
Kasumi finally broke the silence. "So Luna, have you decided how long you'll be able to stay and visit?"
Luna turned her head to the left so she could look at Kasumi. "Oh, I should get going in a day or two, but you can guarantee I'll be back to visit."
"That's wonderful. I'm sure Riku and I would love the company. Visit whenever you would like".
That was another surprising find. For as much as Luna enjoyed Riku's company, she enjoyed talking to Kasumi just as much. When it came down to it, Setsuna wasn't exactly a chatterbox, and talking to the other Senshi was like talking to a bunch of kids…which, after all, is what they basically still were. Not that Riku was that old, but all the Saotome children had an underlying maturity that made it pleasant to talk with them. Kasumi on the other hand…the woman was a gem. Not only was she the best cook that Luna had ever met, but she was a fascinating person to talk to. Her time with Ranma had made her a unique combination of adventurer and peacemaker. Luna would often sit and talk to the elder Saotome for hours while the kids were working out with Ranma.
Suddenly, Luna saw Kasumi's attention abruptly shift, and then saw Ranma get to his feet out of the corner of her eye.
"What, what's wrong?" asked Luna, for clearly, something was.
"Kids, we've got company. I think it's them. Stay close, and be ready." Instructed Ranma.
"Them? Who's them?" Luna asked.
"Ssshh". Riku said, as he came over and scooped Luna up. "Keep quiet and come with us, there are some people in the compound who may try to hurt my parents."
"Who?" asked Luna in a quiet voice.
"Some old Amazon with a grudge against Mom and Pop. Pop told us that they might visit us soon, and I guess he was right."
Luna thought for a moment. Amazons…as in the village where Ranma and Kasumi were trapped. Her ears went back as her concern grew. "Why are they mad at your parents?"
"As I understand it, there was a girl, named Shampoo, who always wanted Pop for a husband. Never forgave Mom and Pop for getting married and giving her the cold shoulder."
Luna kept quiet as they made their way to the large backyard between the house and the dojo. She didn't hear or smell anyone close by, but Ranma and Kasumi seemed to be glancing in one direction as if they did. They eventually stopped, and Riku put Luna down and said "Stay behind us. It'll be safer."
"How do your parents know someone is here?" she finally whispered to no one in particular.
Ranko turned to her and answered. "It's something about the Wa of the land. Mom first learned to do it for the house, and then she got good with sensing the whole property. It's sorta like an extension of her. Pop learned it too. He hates it when somebody knows how to do something that he doesn't. Makes for a great alarm system though."
They stood and watched a section of woods for a few more minutes, and eventually a woman with purple hair and a man with long black hair in a white robe broke through the woods and started towards them.
"Is that them?" Dai asked his father.
"Yup. That's them…Shampoo and Mousse. I owe it to Cologne to try to go easy on them, but be ready for anything, and if they want to fight, well, anything goes…protect your selves."
The Saotome group stood silently and watched Shampoo and Mousse come closer. Luna saw that Shampoo was holding some type of large metal balls on some poles, while Mousse seemed to be empty handed.
Eventually, the two stopped about 30 feet from the Saotomes. She estimated that the woman and man both looked to be mid 30s in age.
Finally Ranma broke the silence. "So Shampoo, what brings you to visit Japan?"
"I challenge you." She pointed at Kasumi, not even acknowledging Ranma's question.
Luna watched Kasumi to see what her reaction was to this strange challenge. She was surprised to see a sad look pass over her face before she answered. "Shampoo, must we do this?"
"Yes, I challenge you for your mate. If I win, he is mine."
Ranma shook his head. "Shampoo, you know we're going to have to take you back to the village. Why do you do this? You know you can't beat us."
Shampoo ignored Ranma, and stared with narrow eyes at Kasumi. "This between us women. I no talk to your male."
Ranma gave a deep sigh and turned to his wife. "Kasumi, do you want help with this or not."
Kasumi still had the slightly sad look on her face. "No thank you. It would probably be best if I handled this myself. Just keep an eye on Mousse in case he wants to run off".
"You got it." said Ranma.
"Very well Shampoo. If you insist." Kasumi shifted her stance, but it was still the relaxed Saotome opening stance that Shampoo had seen so many times before with Ranma.
They stood for a while, each waiting for the other to make the first move. Ranma knew that Kasumi knew better than to make the first move, so he wasn't surprised to see Shampoo finally break from her stance and quickly touch the ground in front of Kasumi. A cry of Bakusai Tenketsu proceeded the spray of shrapnel which Kasumi blocked with a quick Ki shield. Shampoo quickly slammed against the shield with a look of surprise that almost made Ranma burst out laughing. Kasumi quickly dropped the shield and grabbed Shampoo's left arm and proceeded to flip her to the other side of the field where she plowed into the ground.
Shampoo shook her head to clear the little birdies that were circling. Thank the gods they weren't ducks. She thought to herself before leaping to the attack again.
What followed was a particularly humiliating defeat for Shampoo. No matter what attack she tried, she failed to get through Kasumi's defenses. The Kachü Tenshin Amaguriken failed miserably, as Kasumi deflected each and every blow with ease, the Splitting Cat Hairs was a total failure, as Kasumi failed to be swayed by any of the false images, and even when Shampoo used a few secret Amazon techniques that she knew her Great-Grandmother hadn't taught Ranma, her opponent still had flawless defensive moves to each one. Shampoo finally stood panting, staring at Kasumi with malice in her eyes.
"Shampoo, please cease this attack" Kasumi offered. "I really don't want to hurt you, but if that is what it takes to end this battle, then I will."
"Shampoo no admit defeat." She spat.
Kasumi noted a quick look toward Moose and a small nod of her head before Shampoo once again attacked.
Once again, every move she made against Kasumi was easily rebuffed, after a few moments, Kasumi finally went on the offensive, at speeds that made the Amaguriken seemed slow, targeting Shampoo's vulnerable points. Shampoo was out before she even started to fall.
At the moment Mousse saw her start to fall, he withdrew a large canister from his hidden weapons space and lobbed it toward the children. At its apex, he pulled out a firearm of all things and targeted the thrown container. His first shot hit his target and the container exploded into a shower of liquid that sprayed down toward the kids beneath it.
The moment all three Saotome children saw the liquid appear, the years of training kicked in and all three brought up their personal shields against the incoming spray. In the meantime Mousse had turned to Ranma and Kasumi and shouted "Shampoo sends you her best, and hopes your sons have as much fun with their new curse as you did!"
Mousse had his usual look of satisfaction as he stopped to watch the effects of the Nyannichuan. That's odd he thought it looks like the spray is bouncing off something around each of them. As the shower settled, he was disappointed to see all three children unchanged by the application of the cursed water. He didn't expect it to have any effect on the daughter, but surely the sons would have changed somewhat. And who was the fourth girl that appeared within their group?
Mousse didn't have any more time to ponder the mysteries of the water when two rather impressive Ki blasts slammed him into the side of the hill. The children immediately looked to the left to see both of their parents in post-attack postures, each having unleashed a significant Moko Takabashi at Mousse.
In turning her head to the left, Ranko noticed a new girl standing in their midst. She had pale skin, long black hair and nothing else on. Being familiar with the affects of Jusenkyo water, and realizing what Mousse had launched at them, allowed her to quickly realize who the newcomer was.
"Dai! Riku! Don't turn around just yet!"
"Wha-" they of course both started to turn around.
"I said DON'T TURN AROUND!"
They stopped, and then returned their gaze to their parents.
"Luna. Is that you?" she said in a soft voice.
The Mau was still trying to process that massive shift in perception that the change had wrought. When the water first hit, there was a twisting, dizzying sensation that ended with her perspective at a much higher height accompanied by a sudden chill on her now bare skin.
She looked down at herself and realized she had been transformed. But this transformation wasn't like what she and Artemis were capable of when they wanted to assume human guise. When that had happened, she was still a Mau. The human form was more illusion than real, this…this was completely different. There was no connection to magic in this form, there was just…having a new body.
She looked up to see the man who had thrown the liquid be slammed by two energy attacks, and then heard Ranko yell at the two boys in front of her to not turn around. It was followed by a quiet "Luna. Is that you?"
She turned around to see Ranko staring intently at her. She nodded her head slightly.
"It's okay" Ranko said. "Don't panic. You probably just got splashed with some water from the Nyannīchuan, which is 'Spring of drowned Girl'. It's the same thing that happened to my Dad. It can be reversed with some warm water, but cold water will change you back to what you are now."
"C-c-c-cold…." She whispered.
Ranko ran over to grab one of the blankets her mom had brought out to lay on earlier. She draped it over the newly-formed girl. "Here, that should help".
"Okay, you can turn around now" Ranko instructed her brothers.
Dai and Riku finally turned toward Ranko and Luna. They had already heard what Ranko had told Luna, so they weren't overly surprised to see a young, black-haired girl wrapped in a blanket looking at both of them.
She was young, she looked around Dai or Riku's age. She had large blue eyes that first looked at Dai, then settled on Riku.
"Are you okay" Riku finally asked her.
She cleared her throat, obviously trying to get used to her new voice, and then finally said "Yes, I think so. Why did they do that?" She nodded over to Shampoo and Mousse, who had this point had been tied up, knocked out and still guarded by Ranma.
Kasumi had arrived at their group by this time and answered her. "Shampoo has…issues with their father and I. I imagine that she felt that cursing Ranma's sons with the same curse as he has would be the best way to hurt Ranma." She paused and looked over at the two Amazons on the ground. "Fortunately, Ranma had foreseen this possibility long ago and trained all of us in deflecting water. Mousse had threatened to use water from the spring of drowned duck on Akane long ago, so he felt that it was something to be prepared for. Unfortunately, we never considered training them to protect bystanders.
"Wait. I heard Mouse yell something about Ranma's curse when he threw the water." Luna asked.
Ranma sighed, and walked over to the picnic and grabbed some water. "Luna, we haven't asked a lot of you since you've been here, but one thing I'd like you to keep to yourself is what I'm going to show you. It will help you understand what has happened to you, but I'd still like to keep this between us. Promise?"
Luna paused for a moment, she hated making promises, they had a way of haunting you in the end, but the Saotomes had been wonderful to her these last few days, and she hadn't detected a hint of ulterior motives in anything they'd done. "I promise."
Ranma dumped the water over his head, and immediately changed into his female form. Luna stared at her for a while, noting the multitude of changes that Ranma went through.
"Was that the same water that splashed me?" she finally asked.
"No, unfortunately this was just plain water. Once you've been splashed with water from the Nyannichuan, cold water activates the curse. Both you and I were splashed with the same water, so we turn into young girls when splashed with cold water. If you use warm water, you revert back to your original form…well at least until the next time cold water gets you."
Ranma proceeded to give the new Luna a quick history on the ins and outs of Jusnekyo as the party returned to the house. Ranko took Luna to the bathroom to demonstrate the curse to her, and eventually Luna came back out in her natural form.
"So whenever I'm splashed, I turn into a human?" she asked Ranma.
"I'm afraid so. It's funny, I knew quite a few people who were cursed to become animals, but you're the first ani…non-human that is cursed to turn into a human." He paused and then added "I'm really sorry about this Luna. If there is one constant factor in my life, is that chaos surrounds me, and unfortunately anybody who seems to associate with me. I am sorry. And the worst part is, that water will now actively try to seek you out, making you change forms at the worst of times."
Luna had been flooded with so many thoughts and emotions during the last hour. At first there was the obvious shock of losing her natural body. What surprised her was the interesting connection she had to her new form.
When she and Artemis had assumed human shapes before, there was a huge difference. That had been magically enabled, and was a really just a disconnected "costume" that they could wear when the need arose. This, this was so much different. As a Mau, most of their input was from hearing, smell and sight, this new body however. It was a bit of a shock to lose the sharper eyesight, but now she could see in color! She always wanted to know what it was like when the Senshi talked about this or that color, but now she knew! It was marvelous. Losing the better sense of smell wasn't to alarming, although she didn't like how muted the world sounded in her human form.
What surprised he most was the gain of touch and taste! Without fur, she could feel the fabric of the towel that was wrapped around her when she returned to the house, but that was nothing compared to the cookie that Riku handed to her right before she got to the front door! The taste…was indescribable. She never considered that the humans had such an advanced sense of taste! She almost fell to her knees from the tastes that exploded in her mouth from one of Kasumi's cookies.
All and all, she wasn't as weirded out as she would have thought she would have been.
She finally snapped out of her musings and replied to Ranma. "Don't worry, it wasn't your fault, and at least when I transform, I can still speak."
"True, true." He agreed.
Just then Ranko passed by with a drink, and her foot caught the edge of the rug just right. This of course caused her to catch her balance, but in the process a small amount of liquid spilled from the cup and landed on Luna, causing her to change to her human form once again.
Ranma quickly shifted his gaze to the opposite wall and said "However, the lack of clothes for your change will probably be a bit of a problem…."
"So, did you ship them out?" Kasumi asked?
"Sure did. Took 'em to the Vet first to get tranquilized then shipped them to China. Paid the Vet to accompany them to ensure they got another tranquilizer as needed." Ranma told her. "The Vet's assistant was happy to get a paid trip to China, so it worked out well. I'll be surprised if either get returned to normal after this stunt. They've disgraced the Amazon's by attacking us and as I remember, the punishment is quite severe."
Luna decided to stay a bit longer at the Saotome's to get used to her curse before returning home. Ranma was right, it seemed impossible to avoid being splashed, and the constant lack of clothing proved to be such an embarrassment that Luna finally decided to stay human for the last few days instead of flashing the innocent bystanders on a daily basis.
What surprised her the most during the week was how quickly she and Riku were becoming even better friends. In her human form, their friendship rapidly blossomed as they had even more in common, and Riku was more than happy to have someone to accompany him in his trips into town. It was funny because in her Mau form, the Senshi still treated her as being "different", but here, with Riku, she felt truly accepted by someone for the first time in her life. True, Artemis and she were friends, but it was more a working relationship that a true friendship.
Eventually, the day came when Luna knew she had to return to Usagi and let her know what had happened. Since she didn't want to have to explain her relationship with the Senshi, she decided to return alone, and after giving her thanks and goodbyes to almost everybody, she saved Riku for the last.
"So, you really have to go back?" Riku quietly asked.
"Yes, I'm afraid so, but I'll be back! I promise."
"Really? I'm kinda worried I won't see you again…and…well…I really like you Luna."
Luna looked at his nearly whole body blush, and was truly flattered. Not only did she like his company, but he really liked her for who she was, not what she could do for him, in fact she knew that she liked her company both as a human and a Mau.
On the other hand, there was an age difference, although she'd be dammed if she could figure out how to calculate it. As a human, she was his age. There was nothing unusual about a relationship between the two of them…and yes, she knew she had seen a lot in her lifetimes, but this boy…heck his whole family, really did seem different. True, Riku had the energy and enthusiasm of a young boy, but his family had already made him a very mature child.
The mature, clinical part of her personality almost won the argument…almost. But in the end, she couldn't deny how alive she felt when she was with this boy.
"That's good Riku, I really like you too. Don't worry, I'll be back." She hesitated, then decided to go with her heart. "Riku, would you mind taking me most of the way back to Juuban?"
She knew she asked the right question when she saw his face light up. "Sure! Let me tell Pop! I'll be right back!"
She smiled as she saw him race back into the house.
"Do you always travel this way?" Luna asked with wide eyes and blown hair. She had expected a fairly long journey to Juuban, even with the available trains, instead, they had only taken 20 minutes of an insane combination of sprinting, tree branch and roof hopping to get within a few minutes of Usagi's house.
When Riku came back out of the house and scooped her up, her first reaction was shock and then disorientation. Sure she had been carried around as a Mau, but for this boy to be carrying her as a human was, well, was breathtaking.
"Sure. Mom and Pop aren't much for public transportation, and Pop tries to make everything training. I started roof hoping when I was eight, and when I was ten my brother and sister and I took turns carrying each other to get a better workout." He gently put her down. "Did you like it?"
"It was fantastic!"
That earned her another blush from Riku. "Well, thanks. Glad you liked it. Did Mom give you our number?"
Luna lifted the bag of cookies that she had been holding on to during the journey. "Sure did, packed them with the cookies. We figured it should help lessen the shock for Usagi. She's a sucker for good food."
Luna saw him lean toward her. No, he wouldn't she immediately thought, but Riku did plant a quick kiss on her cheek. "G'bye Luna. Call me soon!" Riku turned and hopped onto the nearby wall, then the roof of the house and leaped away.
Luna stood there dazed for a few moments, and finally reached up and touched her cheek. A kiss. I haven't been kissed since… and the worst part was she couldn't remember. She'd always been the level headed advisor, nobody saw her as anything more than a professional confidant.
She waited a few more moments, then turned and started walking to the house.
Usagi heard a knock on the door. "I'll get it Mom!" she yelled as she left her room and went to the front door.
When she opened the door, she saw a girl, slightly younger than herself dressed in some jeans and simple white blouse. She looked vaguely familiar, but Usagi couldn't place where she'd seen her. "Yes, can I help you."
Luna and Kasumi had decided that a quick, honest approach was the best tactic when Jusenkyo was involved. They also both agreed that it was best to show up in her cursed form rather than have some stranger splash her moments before she could make it to the house. "Usagi, I know this may be hard to believe, but it's me, Luna."
Usagi stared at her for a few heartbeats, the puzzled look never changing on her face. "Luna?"
Luna rolled her eyes. "Yes Luna! You know, looks like a black cat, crescent on her forehead. L-U-N-A"
Finally Usagi put two and two together, only it still came out as five. "Look, I'm not sure who you are, or who this black cat you are talking about is, but I am sure that I don't know who you are."
"Sailor Moon" she whispered, "If you can get me a glass of hot water, I'll be able to explain everything."