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***Disclaimer***

I do not have any right to be writing this except for writer’s curiosity.  I don’t own Ranma ½ or Sailor Moon or have any relation to the creators to possibly be able to do this.  I can’t be sued, because, well you won’t get anything from a poor student.  So please don’t try, it will be considered a financial loss if you do.

 

Time period: Ranma - about year after manga’s, Ranma and Akane are nearing graduation

                        Sailor Moon - before the Sailor SS, scouts not can go super as of yet.

 

Other notes: Italics represent thought and quotes are speech unless noted otherwise.

 

Knight of the Moon

Chapter 5

 

The city of Nerima was enjoying a rare night of quiet as the residents walked down the streets with their loved ones by their sides.  The sky overhead was crystal clear allowing the stars to shine down from above.  In the parks, many couples were reliving earlier years of their lives as they sat on the benches gazing out over the park and falling in love all over again.

Ranma was gazing up into the sky but his attention was mostly at the full moon that hung high in the night sky.  He laid quietly on the Tendo roof, but his mind was millions of miles away roaming all over the universe through his memories of his past life, which were painstakingly slow in surfacing.

He had returned a little earlier after seeing that there wouldn’t be any more trouble that Dr. Tofu couldn’t handle.  After the battle in Juuban, Ranma guessed that his daily fighting quota was reached and it would be safe to go home.  However, the curse activation quota hadn’t been reached as he was hit by a stream of cold water from a water main that was stressed to the breaking point during the fight.  Returning in his girl guise at the dojo, he made quick use of ever-present kettle.

Nodoka then sat down with him as he told her how Kasumi’s date was going.  He mentioned some details of the fight but left a large portion out, especially the part of the Sailor Senshi.  Once the pleasantries were over, Ranma began to silently plot what to do about his problem that his father created.  A lot of ideas came up, but a few were his fault and that he would have to deal with, Kodachi and Shampoo.

After that, he had come up here to relax and to think while he still could before Nerima was wiped off the map from the anger of many high-powered martial artists.  It was then, that the memories of a Logan Somerled appeared.  Soon, Ranma was reliving many dances he had on the Moon, some with a beautiful woman with long green hair, the other with short dark hair, dressed in royal purple; both knew him differently, yet completely.  There was one more, a person of great power, but used love, compassion, wisdom, and kindness to rule.  From all three he felt an irresistible feeling of duty and honor toward them, a feeling he knew very well.

So involved with his thoughts that he never heard the ladder as it clattered along the roof edge or the person that walked up it.  In fact, the person was able to walk right up to him and sit next to him and he never acknowledged their presence.  It was the sudden pain in his arm that finally snapped him out of his revere and he found himself staring at Nabiki, who was only a few inches from his face.  He quickly realized that she was the cause for the shooting pain in his arm by her pinching, “YAAAHHHH!”

“You finally back on this planet Ranma?” she asked flatly as Ranma collected himself.  Settling himself on the roof again, he glared at her, mockingly.  “As you have often stated, your defenses were open.”

“Very funny Nabiki,” turning back to the stars above before glancing over, “So, what do I owe the pleasure of this meeting?”

Nabiki didn’t answer right away.  She looked up to the stars and tried to see what he kept seeing in them to continuously come up here.  She tried to get lost in them for several minutes, Ranma watched carefully, judging her reaction and waited patiently for her to start things off.  Finally, without turning she asked, “Why… Why did you say what you did to me this morning?”

Ranma sighed silently, he knew this would come up eventually and from his judgment, it was none too soon as Nabiki was really lonely.  “Simple, it looked like you needed a friend.”  When she turned to him, he continued, “Many of us put up false fronts for our own protection.  Kasumi was a bit of an airhead and single minded around the house, Akane is oblivious to the obvious, though not nearly as bad as the Kuno’s, and obnoxious, and slightly delusional in cooking and martial arts, and Mr. Tendo is a traveling Niagara Falls with delusional tendencies.  You tend to hide yourself behind a wall of ice and business attitude and I hide behind the image of a dumb jock that only cares about martial arts and himself.

“It hurts to loose someone you love and not be able to do anything about it, doesn’t it,” taking a glance to Nabiki.  “Even though it doesn’t look like it.  I have known what you and the others have been going through, maybe even a little more.”

“Wha… What are you talking about?” Nabiki asked while trying to reorganize her thoughts.

“For most of my life, I didn’t know if I even had a mother.  It was always me and Pop on the road.  I don’t know when it happened, but she was only a memory of an outline and a voice.  Pop, he didn’t talk about her and I don’t think he had a picture; it was always the art that he talked about.  After a while, probably shortly after the “pit” incident,” saying with a small shiver of fear, “I had assumed that she was dead and that memory of her was all that I had.

“Then I find out that she IS alive.  I had wanted to see her and hold her again so badly that I would have done anything to meet her.  That’s when POP tells me that I signed a contract that I would kill myself if I wasn’t “manly” and according to Pop, the curse was anything but manly.  I of course took his judgment since I never really knew if Mom would hold me to a contract signed by a six year old.  So I watched from a different body, never able to call her mother, never able to be myself, and never was I able to fully take away the hurt she felt every time she showed up looking for “Ranma” but only found “Ranko” and her pet panda.  It was torture.”  He didn’t try to stop the tears.

Nabiki was near tears at this point well as she listened to Ranma speaking to her from the heart.  It was a rare occasion, but it showed that he had been hurt as badly as she had when her mother died.  “You do know don’t you,” noticing the tears.  “This is the first time I’ve seen you cry.”

“Huh, oh that.  I don’t care what Pop says anymore.  The only thing that has any meaning to me that comes from his mouth is martial arts; anything else is all a lie.  What mother says carries a little more weight and she says there is nothing unmanly about crying.”

“Sounds like good advice,” as she gazed deep into the night sky.  Suddenly an idea popped in her mind and sat up, turning to face Ranma who glanced over to see what she was doing.  “Hi, my name’s Nabiki Tendo, what’s yours?”  What’s past is past; I think a new start is what we both need.

Ranma just stared dumbfounded as he tried to figure out what was going on when he saw the smile on her face.  “Hello Nabiki, my name is Ranma Saotome.  How do you do?”

“It’s nice to meet you Ranma.  Do you want to be my fiancée?”  Unprepared, Ranma lost his balance and fell face first into the roof.  “Geese Ranma, I was only joking,” as she pulled him back up.

“I wasn’t expecting it, that’s all,” rubbing his nose.  “But what brought this on?”

“I felt we needed a new start.  We didn’t exactly have the best greeting when you arrived.  So I decided to greet my new friend properly.”  She paused as she a wild thought came to her, “Or maybe the little brother that we never had.”

“It would be an honor, as long as you don’t mind my crude manner, big sister.”

“Just don’t hurt my little sister too badly or you’ll here from me and Kasumi.”

“Deal.”

 

--Next Morning--

Setsuna was doing something that she rarely did coming to the Senshi meetings.  Ever since she started appearing to these things, it was normal for her to appear and disappear from the meetings at random times, she had her duties to the Time Gate.  She stopped for a moment and looked up the long line of steps in front of her that lead the Hikawa Shrine.  It would have been so easy to teleport up to the meeting, but that was too quick and she needed the time to think now more than ever as she began the up the steps.

On the way up, her mind tried to think of every question that was going to be asked by everyone and a corresponding answer.  She didn’t want to do this, but it was about time the truth came into the open.  She only hoped that the others would understand.  Hotaru probably would be the only one that would know part of the story.  Nearing the shrine, she could hear the argument between Usagi and Rei.  She smiled and hoped that this part of the princess would still be around when they all finally grew up.

 

[A few minutes earlier]

“Usagi put those back, you didn’t even ask if you could read those.” Rei yelled.  The meeting had started out normally; every one had shown up except Usagi and Setsuna.  About 10 minutes after the stated time, Usagi came panting in with another excuse.  She then proceeded to go through Rei’s manga collection and started reading them as if there was nothing wrong.  And Setsuna still hadn’t arrived.

“But Rei, I don’t have these and they are so cool.  Besides you aren’t reading them now and you’ve already read them.”

“Then why don’t you get them yourself?”

“Because you already have them,” then began reading in earnest.

Rei just gave up trying to reason with her.  She didn’t really mind, but it would have been nice if she just asked instead of just grabbing.  As she gazed around the room, she was wondering when Setsuna would arrive.  Minako and Makota were busily talking about some boys they seen and were comparing them for suitable boyfriends.  Ami was busily scanning the sword and staff that was left behind at the last battle.  Haruka and Michiru were sitting next to each other talking about whatever while Hotaru was studying the weapons with keen interest.  She hoped things would be explained today; she really hated being in the dark.

Everyone’s attention was instantly drawn to the door as it began to slide open.  When they saw who it was they stared in shock.  Setsuna noticed everyone’s reaction and calmly slid the door shut and went to sit down at the table, “Is it not normal for people to walk here?”

“Yes… I mean no… I mean, it’s just that you don’t normally walk in here late,” Rei stuttered.

“Yeah, Setsuna,” Haruka recovered, “normally you teleport in late.  When you arrive with us, we’re on time and Usagi is late.  Besides this is the second time in a month that you arrived like this.”

“Things have been a bit busy and I needed some time away from work.  Really though, I found it better to think while I was moving around.  With the attacks the past few weeks and now the appearance of a Knight’s weaponry, things are changing quickly and I can’t make strong judgments since I’ve been blocked from the future.”

“Who is this Knight?” Usagi asked for everyone.  She wanted to thank who ever it was that saved her yesterday.  If it weren’t for his or her intervention, she would have been in serious trouble.

“It’s my brother,” Hotaru answered.

“You mean the brother you told us about?”  Minako asked.  “How?”

“I was able to identify the items earlier with the Mercury Computer.  What it said was that they belong to a Logan Somerled of the Royal Moon Knights.  It also said he was a Colonel.”

Hotaru nodded her head before asking, “Setsuna, where is he?  If he’s around, why hasn’t he tried to make contact with us or even find the princess, or even me?”

“I don’t know Hotaru-chan.”  Her voice held a little bit of disappointment; luckily it wasn’t enough to be noticed.

Michiru sensed her cue and wrapped her arms around Hotaru in support.  “But he was there at the fight, he had to have seen us.  Why wouldn’t he make contact with us?”  As the tears started, she turned to bury her face in her guardians shoulder.

“Hey, if he was there then why didn’t he get involved in the fight sooner and help us out?” Rei answered getting a little angry with this person with all the distress he’s causing.

“The Knights of the Royal Moon don’t have the connection that you girls do to the Queen or Usagi in this case,” Artemis stated.  “Remember, they were designed to be a force to respond to threats instantly.  You girls would become involved if the Knights couldn’t handle the situation.  If the knights near the outer edge needed help, the outers would respond, and similarly with the inners.  Only if it was a serious threat did all you girls get involved.  They protected the Empire first, then the Queen; the eight of you are technically bodyguards.”

“So,” Luna continued. “It would support that your brother might have held back since you all were already involved.  You know how damaging your battles are and they knew not to get in the way.  After the battle, he probably didn’t have time to contact us since the authorities were on their way and left as quickly as you girls did.”

“Then why would he leave the weapons behind?” Makoto interjected.

“He probably didn’t have time to grab them from where ever he was and guessed that we would get them,” commented Ami.  “It also could have been a note to us that he was still around.”  Hotaru had to agree with the logic presented to her, but she still didn’t like it.

“Hotaru, do you know anymore about your brother that you can tell us about.  It might help us identify him,” Usagi asked, kneeling in front of the youngest Senshi.

“Well, I don’t really know.  I’ve told you about all I can remember though, I had almost forgotten about the staff.  He made it himself while at the academy on Saturn.  It’s supposed to shrink to a small canister size about 4 inches long, but only he knows how to do it.”

All except Setsuna and Hotaru stared at the staff in disbelief for a few moments before Luna interrupted them, “Ladies, we have more important matters at hand.  We are still lost over who our enemy is.”

“Luna and I have a theory but we need to know what you girls think,” Artemis continued.  “As we know, the new youma are moving in a fashion that is similar to the Colonel’s, not to mention using his tactics.  Before you say anything, we cannot instantly blame him.”

“Wait, what do you mean by Colonel?” Makoto interrupted.

“To a few he was simply known as Colonel.  An even fewer number actually knew his name.  It was a security measure he made.  The security went to the extremes.  His unit didn’t even salute or give proper acknowledgement when he was among them for fear of being identified by snipers or enemy scouts.  A similar tactic that was used by the Americans in Vietnam.”

“Why is he not a suspect?” Minako interrupted before Makoto could ask another question.

“Because, girls, the entire unit that was under his command, knew everything he knew.  It was his tactic for making his unit more efficient and useful in battle.  The Colonel always thought that the unit’s weakest link was the slowest, less experienced, and less skilled person.  With all his commands, he instigated what he called ‘unit knowledge’ meaning that everyone was taught what everyone knew.  The more experienced and skilled taught the rest and shared their knowledge with each other.  I’m sure you can guess what the effect was.”  Everyone was surprised at that; even Hotaru was shocked.  Setsuna was the only one that knew about this.

“Hey, we’re not talking about the Crescent Moon Recon Force,” Makoto stated as a memory flashed.  Like a switch that was turned on, everyone in the room recalled the name.  “It was the most decorated unit in the system, I think.”

“Yeah, it was.  I remember reading about them from time to time,” Haruka reaffirmed.  “They never stated who their CO was but it was rumored that he was the youngest on record and in fact turned down positions that would let him climb the command ladder.”

“I remember,” Ami said out loud, gaining their attention.  “I was asked by the Queen to archive everything I could about the unit.  That meant recording their skills, knowledge, etc. on data crystals.  I don’t remember much, but I do remember what their CO looked like.  He could get lost in his unit and no one would recognize him if they didn’t already know him because of how young he was.  But Hotaru’s description is just like…”

“The leader of Crescent Moon Recon Force,” Setsuna finished.  “He was only known by a few people, including the Queen and myself, and of course his unit.  He knew many of the darker sides of the good things and he protected himself.  Many people were jealous of his abilities, honor, and habit of following the rules and that caused problems for him.”

“If he is alive, then there might be others that are also out there that are also alive and are out for revenge,” Rei stated.  “But you might want to look towards at the Moon Knights,” making sure she had their attention, “The fire’s vision showed the Moon Knight’s symbol and it split.  We might even be facing two people.”

“Setsuna, Ami, Artemis and I will need your assistance then.  The computer with Setsuna’s help and we should be able to come up with some idea of who is causing the disturbances.  Once we have a better idea of whom we’re up against, the reasons will follow.  We now know that there is at least one Knight still alive, so it’s possible that there are others, but it just doesn’t make sense for a Knight to be against us.”

Taking their cue, everyone left to join society again.  Questions were still going around about what will happen next, but the answers would come soon enough.  Just as Setsuna was about to leave, Hotaru walked up, “Setsuna-mama, could I walk with you?”  Setsuna glanced up to Haruka and Michiru, who nodded their assent.  Reaching down, she took the small hand of the little girl and they left silently.

 

Michiru noticed Haruka gazing at the pair as they left, “Something’s bothering you.”

Haruka nodded as she turned to her partner, “It’s Setsuna, I’ve just noticed it now, but something is definitely bothering her.”

“Don’t worry too much.  She will tell us when she’s ready, not before.  Hotaru might be able to help her with what ever it is.  She has a caring spirit,” pulling Haruka towards the car.

 

Setsuna walked silently towards the house she shared with Haruka, Michiru, and Hotaru.  The latter was currently holding her hand, was studying her.  She caught the glances from her peripheral vision.  It wasn’t until they were walking through a nearby park that Hotaru spoke up, “Setsuna, why do you know so much more about my brother.  It’s not just because you are the Senshi of Time, is it.”

Setsuna stopped and looked down at her young charge.  There was something different about her and then she realized that she was not the timid little girl that she’s known, but a young lady who is growing up.  She directed both of them to a bench and sat down.  “You would be surprised on how little I actually do know about him.  The regiment that he was part of was stationed on the far outer rims and was under my command.  I never knew him directly then.  I heard about him from the generals that reported to me.  I wanted to make him a general from the effectiveness that he displayed but he turned it down each time.  Each time I tried to bring him in to ask why, something would come up that would require his unit to leave.  It must have slipped my mind at some point, but I never did just try looking him up his information and try finding him.

“It was some time later when I finally met him face to face.  Of course I didn’t realize it at the time.  It was at a ball shortly after your coronation.”

 

--Flashback--

Boredom, that’s the word she was looking for.  She was bored.  Since this was a formal party, the Senshi weren’t required to wear their uniforms.  The Knights guarding the palace could hold up against any threat for a few minutes for the Senshi to transform.  But the problem was, not many people wanted to dance with her.  It seems that her reputation as being cold and Ms. Know-it-All preceded her too well.  So she was politely standing out of the crowd, gazing in upon everyone else.

“I’m not the only one though,” speaking to no one while taking a glance to the open balcony doors, where a few moments ago, Elaine had just walked through.  Apparently, the nobles and other aristocrats were being just a little too harsh on the recently anointed Senshi of Saturn.

“Maybe she would like some company,” and was about to go talk to her when she stopped.  There was a young man that walked out on the patio where Elaine was.  Curiosity was waging war with her morals as to go see what was going on and respect their privacy.  Curiosity eventually won out in the end several minutes later, but before she could, the young man walked back in with Elaine on her arm.

Everyone quickly noticed the return of the Senshi of Silence, because that was the effect: Silence.  There were probably a few gazes directed to the person she was holding onto for bringing her back.  Even the band that was playing in the background fell silent.  She took a glance over to Queen Serenity and saw her smiling.

A moment later, the music started again, and if people’s jaws weren’t already detached, they did then as the young man and Elaine faced each other and then started attacking each other.  She and the others almost transformed there but they hesitated when they noticed the smile on the newest Senshi’s face.  Standing at the ready, they noticed that the movements were choreographed and it was in fact, a dance, albeit a strange one.

The dance was very exotic with the kicks, punches, blocks and jumps that were performed.  The man she was dancing with had his cloak wrapped around his left forearm as he moved.  But it was surprising to see Elaine move naturally in the full-length evening gown.  It seemed like it was normal to be fighting in a gown.

The events that were happening occupied her entire attention that she just realized she still didn’t know who the young man was.  He was dressed in the uniform of the Royal Moon Knights.  At a second glance, she noticed that he was an officer by his rank emblems, but besides a few service medals he didn’t seem that special.  He was a little taller than Elaine, but not too much and his hair reached down to mid-back, as it was left undone.  But she still couldn’t see his face very well.

After several short minutes the dance ended and people couldn’t help but applaud.  What happened next though, caused a few of the more eccentric people to faint, as Elaine embraced her partner which he responded in kind and just before they broke apart, she gave him a kiss on the cheek.  She just had to meet this person.  He single handedly brought life to the newest Senshi.

As if he had heard her, he turned and looked right at her.  After a quick gesture, he started walking purposefully over to her.  Unsure of what was going on for the first time, she remained where she was and tried to study him.  His walk was that of confidence and great skill, but his face seemed familiar.  As he got closer, she saw more of his face and she knew she had seen that face somewhere before.  Then she noticed his eyes, a warm inviting blue that you could loose yourself in.  She didn’t even realize that he was standing in front of her talking to her.  “Excuse me?”

“I said is the all-knowing Lady of Time trying to determine if I’m a threat to the future or not?”

What she did next surprised herself and everyone there.  CRACK!  “I don’t abuse my power like that.  My job is to protect the time line from alteration and tampering from the enemy, whoever they might be.  Other than being an early warning for the empire, I don’t abuse my power like that!”

The people looked back and forth between the Lady of Time and the young man she just delivered a right hook, which sent him back ten feet.  They slowly backed away when they heard him laughing while standing up.  “Very good, my Lady.  I rather hoped that was the case and the rumors I had heard were false.  Now, for payment for not reporting you for striking another officer, I would ask the lovely Lady of Time to dance with me.”

Setsuna could only glance at her right hand, which was in a fist, as if it had a mind of it’s own.  She couldn’t understand what brought out that reaction.  She was always calm, collective, and unfeeling, never angry.  The man walked over and held out his hand to her, waiting patiently for her.

 

--Present--

“You, punched him?” Hotaru was in disbelief.  Not many people could lay a finger on him if he didn’t want them to.  “You accepted his dance then.”

“It was that or be put on probation for striking an officer.  Though, I should have specified the dance because I wasn’t expecting the dance he started.”

 

--Silver Millennium--

Setsuna was breathing a little heavily as she tried to burn holes in the young man who was bowing to her.  When they arrived on the dance floor, a tune picked up and he took a position a few feet away from her.  If she still didn’t have the connection to the time gate to see the future, she would have had a black eye right then from the kick to her head.  She ducked and responded in kind, while trying to ignore the long gown she was wearing.  It wasn’t until several long agonizing minutes later that her time sense relaxed.

People were applauding her but she didn’t hear them as he complete attention and anger was at the man who looked back up at her with a smile.  “You learn quick my lady.  But you need to learn to react on instinct and not your link to the Gate of Time.  Next time we meet, I hope it will be on better times.  I must report back to command.  Good evening to you.”  He sketched another quick bow to her and the queen and left.

She was left staring at his back as he walked through the main doors.  It wasn’t until others came over to congratulate her on the dance that she snapped out of her shock.  She was very tempted to just use the gate but then remembered that there was at least two people that knew who he was.  Finding Elaine on the sidelines talking to the Queen, she excused herself and walked over determined to get some questions answered.

 

--Present--

“It was then that I learned who he was.  The next day, I went about trying to figure out where he was posted so I could talk to him about his dancing habits.  I found him, but his background and information about his unit were all classified.  I was able to get clearance from the Queen since he was apparently under my command.  It was there I learned that he was the commander of one of the most effective Special Forces units.  But his background was still blocked and apparently needed a special code that only he knew.”

“So how did you find out about him being my brother?”

“It was another ball for a bunch of diplomats that were there for a meeting.  I never saw him until he started talking to me from behind me.  We talked but he avoided my questions.  Occasionally we saw each other passing by after that, now I knew what he looked like.  Every time I would ask about him and he would always change the topic for a few minutes before leaving.  I eventually gave up and just tried talking to him.  I never did know what his command was until Solaris 9 incident.”

“That was when…”

Setsuna nodded, “There had always been problems in that area and the Queen sent the Crescent Moon Recon Force in to investigate.  Once I saw him, the connections happened and I then understood everything.  The Queen and her council instantly swore me to secrecy when we returned.  The next time I saw him was the night he returned.  When he approached, I don’t know what happened or what created it, but I realized how badly I missed him during his absence.”  Her voice was starting to break as old feelings started surfacing.

“He did love you,” Hotaru interrupted.  “He told me some time after his return.  He couldn’t explain it, but it will be something to ask him when we find him again.”

Setsuna just enveloped Hotaru in a hug as the tears started, “Thank you, Hotaru.  I think I’ll do that.”  Hotaru just smiled back at her guardian as they shared a moment of silence.

 

--Nerima, that morning--

Akane climbed the stairs Ranma’s room with a bucket of ice water in her hands.  This was one of the few days that Ranma and his father didn’t get up to practice this morning.  It might have helped that Mr. Saotome was too drunk to walk up the steps last night and ended up sleeping in the dojo as a panda.

That meant that Ranma was able to sleep in this morning and he missed breakfast.  The Baka.  Mrs. Saotome had asked her to wake up her son so they could take care of some family matters.  She had put up a small argument about why she had to do it, but didn’t put up a fight.

As she neared the top of the stairs she saw Nabiki coming down, “Morning Nabiki.”

“Morning Sis,” taking note of the ice bucket.  “Akane, have you ever thought of some other way to wake Ranma up instead of giving him a bath?”

“Humph, that baka sleeps though anything.  Shouting, shaking, and even slapping doesn’t do anything.  Plus, he constantly avoids the punches,” stopping next to Nabiki.  “So, unless you’ve got a better idea of how to wake him up, I would like to hear it,” giving a smart look.

Nabiki could only shake her head in amazement that Akane would use violence to wake someone up.  “There are other wake up one’s fiancée if you would be daring enough to try.”

“What are you talking about Nabiki?  I’m not a pervert like Ranma is.”  Unfortunately, the blush in her cheeks blew her cover.

“Sis, it’s only natural for fiancées to act like that.  How else will you learn to enjoy him later.”  Nabiki smirked as Akane started to panic.  All too easy.  When will that girl grow up?  I just hope little brother will be forgiving this morning.

“Urp!”  Akane quickly disappeared around the corner towards his room as the dirty thoughts started appearing.  I’m not a pervert.  I’m not a pervert.  I’m… Well, she has a… No!  I couldn’t do that.  She waited outside his room as she slowly got control of her thoughts and quickly knocked on the door.  Not hearing any response, she opened up and saw that Ranma was still indeed in dreamland.  Just as she was about to toss the bucket of water on Ranma, a hand stopped her.  Turning she saw that it was Mrs. Saotome, “Auntie, what is it?”

“Akane dear, I know this is normal habit for you to wake my son up but I don’t want to wait for him to clean up the mess you make with that bucket.”  Akane looked down at the bucket and realized that she was right.  “There are other ways to wake my son up if you know what to do.”

Akane was about to ask for more detail when a tickling from her senses alerted her to something.  She then turned to the room and saw that Ranma wasn’t sleeping anymore but wide-awake and in a stance that was completely offense.  To say the least, she was shocked.  I didn’t know she was that skilled.

Ranma was still talking with the spirit that was with him when his highly tuned danger senses kicked in.  On total instinct, he jumped from flat on his back to his feet while turning to face the threat and pulled his arm back for a killing strike.  When he noticed that it was his mother, he relaxed, “Morning Mom.”

“Good morning, son.  Quickly get ready; we have a couple meetings that we need to take care of.” And then turned to go back downstairs.

“Ok, Mom.”  He then noticed Akane standing there still, “Morning Akane, what’s with the bucket?”

“Hugh, oh this nothing, just some practicing.  Bye,” and quickly disappeared down the stairs.

Ranma only shrugged as he got his things together for the bath.  He knew what the bucket was for but it was fun to see how she would respond being found out like that.  Then he remembered what had to be done today.  I only hope Ucchan will be somewhat understanding today.  He then closed his door and went to take his bath.

 

--A little later--

“Mom, did Kasumi come home this morning?” Ranma asked as he and Nodoka walked towards the Nekohaten.

“No she didn’t.  Do you think she will be ok?”

“Nah, I say she’s having the time of her life.  She’ll probably be home later tonight.  I’m sure those two have hardly realized that it’s a new day.

 

--Over in Jubaan--

Kasumi couldn’t believe that all that has happened.  Last night was a thrill with dinner and a movie.  Even the interruption from the fight didn’t hamper her spirits a bit.  She was helping people doing what she always dreamed about and doing at the side of the man that had her eye for a few years now.

She had spent the night at his place in a spare bed, though she was tempted to do something naughty.  But she was good.  Now, with the new day, they were going to spend it walking around town more and maybe see if she could try for continuing her dreams.

 

--Back in Nerima--

“If you think so,” Nodoka said smiling.  She’s finally growing up.  “Ranma, you were up quite late last night.  What were you doing?”  As if she didn’t know.

“Umm, I was… on the roof, looking at the stars.”  He wasn’t expecting this.

“Just stargazing?  Was someone else up there with you?”  She heard him mumble something, “I didn’t hear you Ranma.”

“Nabiki came up to talk.  She had some questions.”

“About what?”  I was expecting Akane to be up there but this is ok.  Nabiki seems to have more of a head on her shoulders.

“She was just wondering how I could see her as a friend.  I guess, there are a lot of us that haven’t had many friends and she never thought that I saw her as one.  We found out that we were both lonely growing up, so we decided to start things over.”  He didn’t dare mention that he was considered her little brother.  “It’ll never be more, but it feels good to have another friend.”

Nodoka felt some guilt at her son’s confession, knowing that she was partly responsible, “Ranma, I’m sorry for letting Genma taking you away like he did.  I should have gone with you to teach you about the things that you are sorely lacking in.”

“Mom, it’s ok.  I don’t mind, otherwise I wouldn’t be the person that I am now.  I had some trouble in the beginning, but I think I’ve gotten more out of it than a normal childhood.”

“Oh, Ranma.  You’ve grown so much in the past year.  I’m glad I got to see this though I regret missing on the rest.  This is the growth that is the most important.”  Pulling her grown son into her and slowly let him go, but continued to stare into his sky blue eyes.  “After things are settled here, I think I will join you were ever you choose to go.  I want my chance to be with my son before he’s too grown to visit me.”

“Mom, I don’t think that’s possible.  You mean too much to me.”  As they continued down toward their destination, Ranma spoke up again.  “Mom, what was that trick you did to wake me up?”

“Something I learned over the past ten years.”  She turned to see her son’s surprised face, “You didn’t think I would sit around and do nothing for over ten years waiting for you to return did you?”

“Well, I didn’t have any idea what you would do.  You might have to teach me some of your moves with the sword though.”

“It’s a deal then.  Now let’s hurry.  We still need to see Ukyo today.”  Yes!

 

--Later that night--

“Damn, that didn’t quite go as I thought.” Ranma grumbled from the roof.  Things had gone well with Ukyo, but the amazons were just damn stubborn.  Well, Shampoo and Mouse were stubborn but Cologne was a little more giving.  “I wish I could understand why she refuses to give up.”  “Yen for your thoughts little brother?”  Ranma turned to see Nabiki standing on the roof peak a few feet from him.  “Things just didn’t work out the way Mom and I planned.”

“Amazon trouble,” sitting on the roof peak next to him.  “Most of the trouble comes from their laws.  If you can worm out of the laws, I think they will leave you alone, as far as marriage is concerned.”

“That’s true.  As usual Shampoo tried to grab me while Mouse tried to kill me.  Mouse ended up killing a potted plant by the door and Shampoo got whacked by mother.”

“She did what?”

“Yeah, Shampoo would have tried giving her the kiss of marriage if she didn’t realize that she was my mother.  That was the first time I’ve seen Shampoo bow to anyone while saying she’s sorry.  However when Mouse tried again, I had to knock him out since he was attacking my mother, thinking it was me.”

“Hmm, sounds like a normal Amazon greeting.  Things settle down after that?”

“For a little while,” letting out an exasperated sigh.  “Mother tried to understand things from their point of view with the combat law but Shampoo wouldn’t hear of it.  She kept claiming that she was knocked out while in combat, even if it was with Akane.  Cologne then backed her up saying that she should have made sure that the rest of us wouldn’t get involved, so she was defeated.”

“I’ve read into that law and I thought it says that it had to be a declared challenge, not just some random accident.”

“We argued that point for a good half hour but Cologne was stubborn about it.  We eventually settled for a time of separation from each other.  We can see each other, but no mention of the marriage, etc.  I don’t like it, Cologne’s up to something.  I can feel it,” gazing back to the stars.

“You’re probably right.  From what you’ve told me, she’s probably hiding something.  She’s a crafty person and to argue like she was with you makes me wonder if she already has something planned.”

“As I said, I wish I could understand why they are refusing to give up.”

“So, that was the bad news then, what happened with Ukyo?  Was a truce reached?”

“She’s going to be my sister.  Mother offered it to her to satisfy honor.”

“You don’t seem excited about it.”

“Well, it didn’t start out like that.  When she learned what we were there about, she wouldn’t listen and actually started attacking me.  I tried to defend myself, but I didn’t want to hurt her too badly.  Mother suddenly stopped the fight when she sliced Ukyo’s spatula in two.  The pause was long enough for me to tell her that I couldn’t love her like she hoped I would.  I explained why I was doing this now and she accepted it.  That was when she broke down crying.  Damn it, I just wish that Pop never came across them.”

Nabiki wasn’t good at this sort of thing, though she was getting better since she was away from most of her operations due to school.  “Ranma, you’re lying to yourself.  If you never met them, you would have been even lonelier when you arrived.  By the way, why are you doing this now instead of in the beginning?”

“Didn’t know what to do.  Pop didn’t give a damn about anyone else except his meal ticket and himself.  I couldn’t really come to you guys since it wasn’t your problem, plus you probably would have turned it around on me.”

“That’s not… Ok, you’re right.  I would have.  I really didn’t like you or your father when you guys arrived.”

“I know.  Though, I like the fact that you got my Pop off his lazy ass get himself a job.”

“You knew?”

“I was with him for most of my life.  His idea of work is running through a small town and pilfering as much as he could and high tail it out of town for a few miles to loose the townsfolk.  I also confronted him about it and said that you threatened him.”

“I did.  Besides getting paid off by you, you were the only source of income that you two brought in to cover yourselves.  So, I threatened he either get a job or I find his wife.”

“That would do it,” giving a thoughtful look.  “Anyway, after Ukyo was calmed down, Mother explained what she would be willing to do if she would.  The dowry would be paid off by installments but would be put in a trust fund for school.

“She didn’t accept it.  I then took some time to talk with her alone.  When we were alone, I confronted her saying by telling her the entire story.”  He took a breath, wondering what would happen, “That I’m breaking all the engagements.  The engagements couldn’t be honored in any form with out the destruction of everyone’s honor.  So to do that, Mom was going to leave Pop and take up her original name, which I will be taking up when that happens.

“I talked with her a little longer and it took some work, but we came to some realizations.  When confronted if she wanted a life like mine was, she immediately refused.  Then she tried to get me to follow her and her business, but then I asked her what she liked about me and if she could see that in me doing what she was doing.  She tried so hard to get things to work out, but she gave up.  She realized that our lives were too different and I didn’t want to ruin her shop with constant destruction of a dojo that would be attached to her restaurant.”

“I’ll say; your lives are too different and impractical to move around.  Is that were you said you would like her for a sister?”

“Yeah, I loved her, but not anymore than a brother did.  Mom instantly agreed to it when she came back in.  She then pulled out a bunch of forms for them to work over.  They spent the rest of the afternoon on those and then we dropped them at the records office to be processed.”

“I think everything will work out for you little…” she paused when Ranma’s attention turned to the front entryway.  “What is it?”

“Kasumi’s home.  What a lift down?”  With a simple nod, he picked up Nabiki and lightly hopped down.  “I wonder if she will finally get out of the house?”

“If you handled it like your fights, I’m betting on it.”  She then grabbed his hand to the house where people were greeting Kasumi and her guest.

 

--Inside--

“Kasumi, it’s so good to see you, and who is this young man?  Is he your special friend my son was talking about?”  Nodoka smiled at the girl’s embarrassment and it seemed that the young doctor was as well.

“Yes Auntie, he is. This is Dr. Ono Tofu.  He used to be our family doctor before his job took him away.”

“Oh, and how do you know my son Dr. Tofu?”

“Your son was a regular at my office.  I saw him again when he landed in Jubaan.”

“Yes, I remember that night,” nodding to the couple.

“KAAASSUMMMII!!!  OH MY LITTLE GIRL IS GROWING UP SO MUCH!!!”  Soun finally noticed Kasumi with the doctor in tow and the water works started.  Genma instantly turned panda as he tried to calm his friend down.

Akane hoped for the best for her sister.  She was a little jealous though, but she still had her Ranma.  She was wondering where the heck he was when he walked in with Nabiki.  Her temper slowly rose as she was thinking that he was cheating on her with her sister.  That baka better not have been doing anything with Nabiki or vise versa.

“Hey doc, Sis.  How did things go?” Nabiki asked.

“It was wonderful, but where’s Ran…” she stopped when she saw the person that she wanted to see.  She instantly ran over to him and enveloped him in a tenderly hug, “Thank you Ranma.  Because of you, I have a chance at life again.  I’m in your debt.”

To say the least, Ranma wasn’t expecting this, but easily adapted.  “No Kasumi, you were the anchor to this house for too long.  You were a big sister who taught me the ropes when necessary.  There are no more debts.  Now live your life.”  He then gently returned the hug.

Akane just saw red when Ranma was hugging Kasumi and never heard what was said.  “RANMA NO BAKA!” and instantly charged him ready to strike.

Hearing this, Ranma went instantly into action.  Dodging to the side with Kasumi while dropping her into the Dr. Tofu’s unexpected hands he tried to make room for the fight.  Once Kasumi was safe, he moved so fast that Akane’s anger vanished when she lost track of her target.  He was then seen holding her mallet.  “That’s three Akane.  I’ve had it with your princess attitude and being attacked for no reason whatsoever.”

“What?  There was plenty of reasons, you were groping Kasumi you pervert,” her anger instantly returning in force.

“When does hugging someone that is practically considered family perverted.  Mom told you that I took Kasumi to meet a friend of hers Friday; didn’t you make the connection.  She was thanking me for doing this for her.  It’s usually customary for people that are practically brothers and sisters to show their appreciation that way.

“I swear, you’re just like Ryoga with your temper.  All you see is one thing to destroy, me.  You don’t bother taking in the rest of the surroundings.  If you had hit me, Kasumi would have been in serious trouble!  Think about it!  Why do you think you lost your long hair back then shortly after we met?  You couldn’t pay attention to what was going around you just like Ryoga and just barely avoided being chopped in half!”  No one dared to say anything.  This was a Ranma they didn’t know.

“Ra… Ranma?” Akane couldn’t believe that Ranma was yelling at her.  He never did this.

“No more.  I’m taking the first step right now in solving this engagement.  “I challenge you Akane to strictly Anything Goes.  No special moves, attacks, etc. just skill against skill.  The terms are that the winner will teach the looser for a month.  There will be no holding back from either side or forfeit the match.”

Akane was still reeling over what just happened.  Ranma had yelled at her about her skill, she almost blew up but went back to shock when he compared her to Ryoga.  She was about to yell back, but something clicked.  She saw that Kasumi was in the way of her strike.  Then she remembered how she lost her hair that was because of Ryoga.  She admitted that it wasn’t smart for her to get in the middle of that fight back then.  But… that would mean I was wrong.  The calm didn’t last long as her anger gained control again.  But it’s always Ranma’s fault that this stuff happens.

“Why should I even bother?  I know that it’s always your fault.  If you had stopped teasing and picking on Ryoga you two might have been friends.  But no, you have to show off, tease, humiliate, and cheat to beat Ryoga every time you fight.  He is more of a man and a martial artist than you could ever be.”  Akane glared at Ranma as she finished, daring him to prove her wrong.

Ranma could only shake his head in disappointment.  For a moment he thought he had gotten past her stubbornness and pride but apparently she was still too angry to talk to.  Nabiki, standing on the side with Kasumi and Dr. Tofu, was about to take a step forward to help Ranma by knocking her little sister silly when Kasumi’s hand stopped her.

Kasumi watched everything happen and was loosing the control on her temper.  Watching Akane’s refusal of reality and truth was getting to her.  After a weekend like she had, the controls that she had were now gone.  I’m seen as the mother here, I guess I better start acting like one; it’s long overdue.  After stopping Nabiki from stepping up, she purposefully walked forward, surprising the fathers and Kasumi by the boldness.  But what happened next caused a heart stopping moment.  Facing her sister, who looked up at her with uncertainty, she quickly reeled back with her palm and slapped her.

“Ka… Kasumi?”  Akane’s anger and thoughts were immediately derailed from the eldest sisters strike.

“No Akane,” turning an angry gaze.  “I have been the pillar of this family for too long to see this happen.  We talked about controlling your anger but you broke any promise you made to me.  I ignored it hoping that you would remember, but I waited too long it seems.  If mother was here, we probably wouldn’t be in this mess, but she isn’t and I’ve had to put this off for a long time.”  She took a moment to steel her nerves, “Grow up, Akane.  You are no longer the little princess of the family and you are definitely not the best martial artist in Nerima.  You never were, by what I’ve heard of the school fights.  You seem to be just as delusional as this Tatewaki person with their true level of skills.  I haven’t practiced since before Mother died and I can see the differences.

“A martial artist is not supposed to be a spoiled brat and declares their superiority over everyone else.  Those people are called bullies.”  Akane was about to interrupt but Kasumi continued.  “Ranma was not, or is a bully.  When, in all the two years did he ever initiate a fight?”  Akane tried her best to think of a time when he started a fight but came up empty.  “Never.  They have seemed like he started them, but who did it really.  It was his father as he traded and bartered his son off for food in return for promises that Ranma would have to answer for.  So they come looking for him blaming him when it was his father’s slight of honor.

“Mother would be ashamed of you right now Akane.  The beautiful girl that she born and started to raise turned into a person that can’t accept the truth and resorts to anger too often.”  Kasumi’s visage softened a little and tried to give all the love she could to her sister, “We still love you Akane, but you disappoint us and Mother when you don’t listen to your fiancée who is a little slow in explaining things or when you resort to anger to solve your problems.  Let go of that anger and wake up.”

Akane couldn’t fight the depression that she was feeling after being forced fed truth and reality by Kasumi, who was thought to be the quiet one.  She collapsed to the floor in tears, to weak to try and run to her room.  Kasumi quickly grabbed her on her way down and held her firm as Akane continued to cry in her shoulder.  Through the crying Kasumi could be heard murmuring softly.

“Kasumi?” Soun stated aghast.  His little baby was crying and it was because of something that Kasumi did.  “What did you do?  Why?” and was quickly falling into the water works routine.  SLAP!  Looking down, he faced the ice-cold demeanor of Nabiki.  “Nabiki, why did you hit me?  Don’t you love your father anymore?”  SLAP!

“Grow up Daddy and act your age.  We have had it with your baby routine.  You are supposed to be our father, not a newborn that can’t take care of itself.  This is mostly your fault ever since Mother died; you became the baby that we had to look over.  We can understand some time to mourn, we all did, but we as in Kasumi, Akane, and myself, were the only ones to pick up the pieces that we could and continued with our lives.  But you stopped teaching, going on your usual outings with your friends, except the local bar, where things just started over again as you got drunk and cried over mother.”  Her cheeks were covered in tears as they broke through her hold.

“Who do you think kept this house in the black?  I was!  Using methods that were not usually honorable was I able to bring in enough money to keep the house over our heads and food on the table.  But when the Saotome’s arrived they put a huge strain on the income.  Some times I barely made it.  It was only when Mr. Saotome started paying with the job and Ranma’s help were we able to live well.  Become the father that we miss.”  Anything else was lost as Nabiki finally couldn’t say anymore and fell to her knees.

Soun was surprised by his daughter’s actions.  They had grown up, except him and Akane, who seemed to be making more progress than he was.  Nabiki was right; he had been acting like a newborn all these years.  For once, he truly felt shamed.  While he was laid up, his daughters took care of the house and him.  He was very proud of them, for being something that he apparently wasn’t, a grown person.  He slowly, reached down and grabbed Nabiki in his arms, offering the support that Kasumi usually did.  Then with gentle movements, he moved both of them to Kasumi and Akane and enveloped both in his arms.  He was again, their father.  It might take some time, but he vowed to pick up the pieces he needed to and let his daughters live.

Genma couldn’t figure out what was going on.  The daughters seemed to have taken over the house and said they were tired of it, he thought they were doing a wonderful job, especially Kasumi.  He just couldn’t understand why they would want Soun to start doing the work, that wasn’t befitting of a martial artist of his caliber.  His head jerked to his right as he felt a dangerous aura and nearly fainted at the sight of Nodoka standing there with the sword sheathed at her hip, level to the ground and her hand on the grip.  He could see that she was relaxed and ready to strike bar his actions.

“Genma, you too have much to answer for.  But that is between us alone.  We will take our leave now as Genma and I have much to talk about regarding what my son has done.”

As she was about to leave the grounds with Genma, a small little man dropped in the yard, “SWEETO!  Come to me my darling Ranma-chan.”  In a blink of an eye, his hand held a bucket of water and casually threw it and jumped in a similar arc of the bucket.

Using his mother’s trick, Ranma closed his eyes and allowed his aura to do the work.  Everyone in the room felt the aura spring up and what they felt scared them; it had been more powerful than they ever thought Ranma could be.  The four Tendo’s immediately were brought back to the now as they felt it and all their jaws dropped in awe.  Happosai always loved these little sessions with his heir, but his face dropped to horror and his instincts kicked in.  Using his leverage, he twisted himself around to use the bucket to help him change his direction.

The bucket fell harmlessly to the floor in font of Ranma, who was opening his eyes again with a smirk forming.  Happosai was still looking around for the enemy when he realized he had been duped.  “That wasn’t a nice thing to do to your master Ranma.”

“I’m not now, or ever have been, your student.”  Ranma could feel the anger coming from the old pervert, “Tell me, oh Grandmaster of Anything Goes Martial Arts,” taking a mock bow, “why women can’t be taught our school of martial arts.”

“That’s simple lad, if they were to learn my art, it would become difficult for me to steal all those silky darlings away from them.”  He immediately clamped his mouth shut when he realized he said too much.  “In fact, you have broken this rule already by teaching Akane.  It is my decision who is taught and who isn’t.  It’s time to pay up for your mistakes.”

Akane could only stare at Ranma and Happosai in astonishment.  Ranma had been teaching me Anything Goes even though Happosai says women can’t be taught!  But all those sparring sessions… we’ve… had.  “I was about to say the same thing.  I challenge you old man, if you loose, I get all rights to the school and you will never be the master ever again.”

“If you loose, then you will cease your use of the Anything Goes.  I’ve had it with the school’s only student that doesn’t listen to its master.”

“Then let’s take it outside somewhere so we don’t damage the house more than necessary.  Say the old lot a couple blocks away?”  Happosai nodded and jumped out of the house and disappeared.  Ranma soon followed without word to anyone else.

 

***Authors Notes***

Ain’t I evil?  Another terrible cliffhanger with the eminent battle for the school.  What will happen next as the fight for the school is about to begin?  And what of the amazons?  Will they make an unwanted appearance as well?  Then what of the Senshi?  They know that someone is still alive from the Silver Millennium, but are there others?  Who knows, you’ll just have to wait for the next installment.  By the way, where in the world is Ryoga?  I’ve lost track of him.  Oh well, he’ll show up at the most unexpected moment.

Sorry for the long delay in the updates, but I’ve lost track a couple times of where I want the story to go.  Plus, angelfire has been a major pain when they joined up with Lycos and upgraded their systems.  My account was still there, you people were visiting it.  But I couldn’t get into it for updates.  They apparently lost my info and so, after several emails back and forth (theirs took the longest) they finally realized that there really was a problem (after constantly telling me that it works fine on their end).  So, in light of this, once I’m able to get back to my original account, I’m going to create a mirror account in case something like this happens again.  I’m also probably going to try finding other places to post my stories so I can still update and have plenty of copies of my stories out there.

Next on the list is A Tendo and Her Falcon.