Disclaimers: Any characters used in this story that are not involved in either one of the original series belong to me, so don't take them. Sailor Moon and Ranma ½ unfortunately, do not. Sailor Moon belongs to Naoko Takeuchi, DiC, and Toei and Kodansha, and probably a whole big bunch of other companies I don't know the names of. While Ranma ½ belongs to Takahashi Rumiko, Shogakukan Inc, Shonen Sunday Comics, and Viz Video. "Successful Mission" is the theme song from the anime, Saber Marionette J.
And special thanks to: Louis-Philippe Giroux, and all the others who took the time to write to me to compliment me on my stories. ^_^
Notes: Whenever Ranma is in his girl form, he will be called Ranma-chan or Ranko. But I may go with Ranko, it takes a lot less writing.
E-mail your comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Come visit my webpage at: http://homepages.go.com/~sailorrealitysfanficarchive/
I came to this land to protect you.
I was born to be with you.
The moment I awoke...
...prisms surrounded me.
I'm here to love you now.
I was born to hold you.
Lies and truths...
...are all within ourselves.
The days I abandon my true feelings...
...won't get to me.
Tenderness and caring...
...can be ours once again!
Day in, day out, like a puppet on a string.
Wandering in the void between zero and infinity
The strength to sever the tangled wires...
...is still sleeping inside of you.
A Past Revealed
By Angela Nebedum
Haruka - Alexandra 'Alex' Tenou
Michiru - Michelle Kaioh
Setsuna - Susan Meioh
Hotaru - (same)
Ranma-chan and Ryouga jogged down the street, with the still unconscious Serena still hanging from Ranma's back as she carried the blond girl home. While at the same time trying to calm down an angry Ryouga before someone got hurt. Namely either herself or Serena.
"Ranma, of all the things you could have done, this takes the cake!" Ryouga growled under his breath as he glared at Ranma's back. "If you weren't carrying that girl I'd..."
"What did I do to get you mad this time, pig-boy?" Ranma-chan demanded exasperatedly, as she turned around in midstep, to face him as she continues walking backwards.
"Who are you calling 'pig boy'?!" Ryouga demanded, as another growl broke past Ryouga's lips. "You know exactly what you did!" he shouted as he pointed at Serena's unconscious form. "I saw how you treated that girl after she collapsed after the fight against those monsters. I can't believe that you would betray Akane like this! You found yourself another girlfriend two days after you broke your engagement with Akane!"
Hearing Ryouga's words, Ranma stopped in midstep to glare at Ryouga as the Lost Boy also comes to complete stop to return the glare with a frown. "Ryouga, I'm going to say this only one time. Before you go around accusing me of something that's not true, get the facts straight!" Ranma said calmly, his voice almost shouting the words, "Her names Serena. And Serena's not my girlfriend! She's my cousin."
"Yeah right Ranma, like I'd believe that?" Ryouga returned heatedly, a deep frown creasing his features as he glanced once more at Serena, and took in her features. "She looks nothing like you."
"It's true. Her mom is pops sister. They are just letting me stay at their place until I can move out on my own. And I'd appreciate it if you'd stop acting like a complete jerk, over what I did back at the dojo." Ranma-chan said as she turned. "As far as I care, Akane's all yours to pursue any way ya want, now that I broke off the engagement with her family. I never wanted to marry that uncute tomboy in the first place anyways."
Ryouga snorts as he glances first at Ranma-chan then at the sleeping blond girl on his back, then back. "Don't try and pull that one, Ranma," he said, a trace of exasperation (and a little defeat) in his voice as his anger slowly died down. "It doesn't take a genius not to figure out that you are in love with Akane," he remains silent for a few moments, before sighing and continuing, "and that she is in love with you..."
"I was never in love with that--!" Ranma-chan stopped in midsentence, as Ryouga's last words set in, almost dropping Serena, as shock went through her body, as Ryouga's words repeated over in her mind. "Now, what are *you* trying to pull Ryouga?" she demanded, a rude snort of disgust escaping from her. Not turning back around, she started walking again, quickening her pace. "Akane never cared about me even once in the last two years."
"Look, Ranma..." Ryouga began only to be cut off.
"No you look, Ryouga!" Ranma snapped, her anger rising as she spoke. "After everything we'd been through together, she still treated me like dirt, always jumping to conclusions, never listening to my side of the story before pulling out the old mallet and punting me into the air." she stated, as a frown creased his features at the memories. "What really hurt was the fact that she always took *your* side when the two of us fought with each other. Even if she saw her darling *P-chan* attack *me* first, and not the other way around, she always thought that I was the one who provoked her pet to attack somehow, even though I didn't do nuthing, and out comes the damn mallet again!" she said, as she shot daggers (from her eyes) at Ryouga who had sprinted forward to block her path.
"Look, Ranma." Ryouga began again this cutting into Ranma-chan's dialogue, as he reached out and grabbed Ranma-chan's shoulder. "Akane does care about you." he insisted. "Remember I was there, as P-chan. When you left Akane was crying in her room for hours afterwards. She was really hurt that you left her."
"It's too little, too late. I just don't care anymore. Whatever I *might* have felt for her at one time died a long time ago, Ryouga." Ranma-chan said as she shook her shoulder free of Ryouga's grip. "Look Ryouga, I'll level with ya." Ranma-chan said as she turned to face him. "All of the girls back in Nerima treated me like a thing that needed to be won like some prize you get at a carnival. None of gave a damn about what I thought or wanted. It was always about them and what they wanted." He said as he started giving out names. "Shampoo want me just because I beat her in a fight, I'm now her husband; I'm engaged to Akane because of the promise pops and her old man made before either of us were born; Kodachi is just plain crazy; Ukyou just wants to marry me to restore her family honor that pops ruined by stealing her yatai; then there's the who *knows* how many other fiance's that idiot pops of mine has gotten for me over the last 10 years."
"I didn't just make the decision to break off the engagement just out of the blue. I'd been planning to leave two months ago, but because of honor, I decided to even give it one last chance to see if it would work. I gave *Akane* one more chance. To see if she did care about me enough to actually show it just once, before I made my announcement about breaking the engagement with the Tendo's." she gave a slight shrug of her shoulders.
"Even when I *was* being nice to her and not insulting her or anything, she still mallets me into hyper space. I don't wanna marry Akane if she still doesn't even care for me. Or if what you say is true, she made no effort to tell me she cared, even tried to stop me from leaving before or after I left. That's why I broke off not only the engagement with the Tendo's but with the other girls too. I want to start over again with my life, and marry the girl that I want to marry. Who loves me in return, and not because of duty or honor or because of Amazon law like Shampoo was."
Ryouga opened his mouth to say something to contradict what Ranma-chan had just said, but all he could do was just move his mouth soundlessly for a few moments, as the redhead's words hit him. 'Damn!*' he silently cursed to himself thoughtfully. 'As much as I hate to admit it, but, everything he just said is right. I never had even noticed it until now. Ranma *had* been trying to make the engagement work. Akane had been given more than enough chances to try and fix things out between the two of them. But the other girls weren't helping things by continuing to go after Ranma all this time.*' he thought as he glanced at Ranma-chan's face. Even though Ranma was good at hiding his emotions, her eyes betrayed how she was really feeling. There was a tired deep sad look in them, that hadn't been there until after Ryouga had brought up Akane. So he decided to let the subject drop.
After a few moments of walking in silence, Ranma-chan glances around at the surrounding buildings.
"Ryouga, do you think you can you take Serena over to that bench over there, without getting lost?" Ranma-chan said as she pointed at the indicated the bench in question, that stood only a few feet away from where the trio were.
Before Ryouga could respond, Ranma-chan stops in front of an outdoor Chinese-style restaurant, and suddenly found himself trying to get a better hold on Serena before he dropped her.
"Ranma!" Ryouga exclaimed as he shifted Serena's limp form in his arms as best as he could. "What do you think your doing?"
Ranma-chan waved her hands, in 'hush' motions, while gesturing at Serena. "Not so loud! You don't want to wake her up do you?" she asked, her voice sounding accusing, yet teasing at the same time. "I'm going inside that cafe to see if I can get some hot water so that I can change back to normal, and I can't go in carrying her on my back." Ranma-chan stated firmly, as she frowned at the bandanna-clad boy. "I can't go home like this, ya know. Unlike my cousins, my aunt and uncle don't know about the curse. So go sit on the bench and wait for me will ya! I don't want you getting lost with my cousin." she finished before marching over to Ryouga and grabbing hold of his arm and guides him to the bench. "Now stay there."
"Fine," Grumbling a bit, Ryouga relented to Ranma-chan's request, and made his way to the bench. Once reaching the bench, he first settled Serena on one end of the bench before settling himself down on the other end. "Just hurry up will you?! She might wake up any minute."
Once she was sure that Ryouga was sitting down, with the promise to not get up for any reason at all, Ranma-chan hurried into the restaurant to get her cup of water.
As she stepped through the door, her eyes immediately glanced around the restaurant, taking in the different Chinese designs and paintings that decorated the walls. Ahead of her she could see a middle aged woman standing behind the check out counter taking care of customers, while a few feet away from her stood a teenage turquoise-haired girl closer to Ranma's own age, who was busy serving meals to the paying customers, and Ranma-chan made her way there.
A few of the customers glanced up momentarily at the newcomer before turning their attention back to their food. Some of the teenage boys took a lot longer to look away from the buxom, still slightly wet, red head before their girlfriends smacked them across the back of the heads, and finally turned their gazes away.
'Humph, perverts. You'd think they'd never seen a girl before.*' Ranma-chan thought to herself, barely acknowledging the glances she was getting from the young men. One of the young men had even gone so far as to get up to ask her to go on a date with him, while his companions urged him on.
A quick yet firm set down, plus the sight of her glowing red aura and the threat of bodily harm if he didn't leave her alone now, had him back in his booth with out argument, quickly followed by the laughter and jeering from his friends.
Ranma-chan finally made it to the counter where she sat down as the proprietress served another customer.
After a few moments the old woman finished her business with her current customer and turned her attention towards Ranma-chan, and smiled at her. She was a middle aged woman in her mid-late 50's with long black hair that went down to her back, and already showing signs of age, with small streaks of gray hair in some places, but despite her age, her face still looked as young and youthful as ever before.
"Hello, and welcome to the Lunar Star restaurant, and I am your proprietress, Ginseng," she said as she gave Ranma-chan a slight bow. "Now what can I do for you today, young lady? I see that you must be new here, since I know all of my customers that frequent my restaurant. What can I get for you?" she asked cheerfully, when she spoke Ranma-chan could hear the telltale traces of a heavy mandarin accent in the woman's tones.
Ranma-chan's eye twitched slightly at the 'young girl' comment, but set it aside for the moment. "Actually I didn't want to order anything, miss. I just wanted to know if I could just get a cup of hot water."
The woman's smile wavered for a moment, as she listened to this odd request. "A cup of hot water? Are you sure that is all you want?" she asked.
"Definitely." Ranma-chan said, though at that the moment the sensuous smells of cooking food wafted through from the kitchen, and Ranma-chan's stomach grumbled in response. Blushing a bit, she tried to talk it off. "Um.. Well it's getting late. Though I might come back another time to eat."
"Auntie Ginseng!" the girl called over as she made her way towards the old woman. "Quit pestering her already."
"Ah, Lime." Ginseng said as she turned her attention to her niece, "You really must stop being such a worry wart. I am only making conversation with this young girl. Isn't that right, Miss-"
"Ranko. Saotome Ranko. Nice to meet ya." Ranma-chan said automatically, while thinking at the same time 'Might as well continue with the charade for awhile longer until I can find a place to change back once I get the water.*'
"Well, I'm Lime. And you've met my aunt, Ginseng." Lime said cheerfully as she looked the red head over. "So all you want is a cup of hot water?" at Ranma-chan's enthusiastic nod, Lime turned her attention towards Ginseng. "Aunt…" she began sourly only to be interrupted as Ginseng started speaking again.
"Good now, that we've all been introduced, I will go and fetch your hot water, Ranko. You might as well come along with me into the kitchen, as I prepare the water for you." Ginseng said as she turned around and left the front room, reentering the kitchen. Moments later the two teens could hear the sound of water running from within. "One cup of hot water coming up."
Giving Ranma-chan a slight shrug, Lime turned around to shout in Mandarin up a flight of stairs. A few moments later, a young boy with dark blue hair came out of the hallway, and after speaking with Lime for a few moments he took over her spot at the register.
As Ranma-chan followed Lime into the kitchen, he glanced back every now and then at the boy they had left behind. "Who's that?"
"That's Rinse, my younger brother." Lime said noncommittally. "He'll be running in charge of the register until we come back."
Lime turned towards Ranma-chan, taking in Ranma-chan's appearance as she scans the red head with her eyes, before seemingly finally coming to a conclusion, and a warm friendly smile spread across her features. "Hey are you a martial artist?" she asked.
Ranma-chan jerked back around, and blinked several times in surprise, almost having had missed the question because she had been glancing towards the kitchen expectantly for Ginseng to reemerge with the water. "Um. Yeah, I am. What's it to ya?" she demanded as she frowned over at Lime. "And how could you tell?"
"You have the look of one." Lime said casually as she shrugged, and went started wiping off the front counter, with a damp cloth. "Even after all these years since we left our village in China, I can still tell who's a fighter, and who's not."
A sweat drop rolled down the back of Ranma-chan's head, as a feeling of dread filled her at Lime's words. "Excuse me, a village? In China?" she asked uncertainly. "What type of village do you come from?"
Lime glanced up at Ranma-chan, taking in the redhead's reaction to her words, with an arched brow. "Yes, my aunt and I originally come from the Amazon village of Quitzel. Have you heard of us?" she asked as an afterthought as she caught the panicked look on Ranma-chan's face.
"Well I've done a lot of traveling while growing up, while my old man called it training. I might have heard about Chinese Amazons. But I always thought that the Joketsu Amazons were the only group that's in China?" Ranma-chan asked, as she tried to keep her cool over the news he had just received.
Ginseng let out a low chuckle as she listened into the two teens conversation. "There is a tale behind the naming of tribe, of something that happened over a thousand years ago. The story itself involves that statue your standing next to," she stated, pointing at an area to Ranma's right.
Ranma-chan spun around instinctively at the gesture to see what the old woman was talking about, and her elbow came into contact with an solid object. Rubbing her arm out of reflex Ranma glanced down at the object that had caused the pain, only to see that it was a small glass case sitting securely on a table next to the wall.
But what caught his attention the most was the sight of what was in it, that seemed to send a rush of déjà vu cursing through her body, though she could figure out why as he stared intently at the statue, feeling like a long forgotten memory. Resting inside the case was a silver statuette of a small dragon, adorned with multi colored jewels, making up the scales etched into the statues hide. "What is it for?"
"That's Tiamat, our tribe's guardian animal. And my family's responsibility." Lime said softly as she walked over to where Ranma stood. "Our family has has been that statues guardians for the past 10 centuries. That's not the original statue you see there…"
"The legend states that one night, a month since the last visit from royals, the dragon reappeared in the village, looking like it had just been in a battle."
Ranma barely listened as the old woman droned on in her story, as she stared down at the dragon, in silence for a few moments, seemingly blanking out for a moment as she stared intently at the dragon, who's jeweled amethyst eyes seemed to stare right back at her, as the room seemed to drift away around her as she stared off into space.
~In Ranma's Mind~
"Ranma…" a voice called softly, his name echoing through Ranma's ears.
"Um sorry Lime, I wasn't listening. What was…" Ranma's began, before he realized that the voice he had just heard hadn't belonged to either Lime of Ginseng. Besides whoever it was that had called him, had used his real name.
Ranma's eyes snap open, to find himself standing in the middle of a unfamiliar landscape. Feeling an unfamiliar weight covering his body, he glanced down at his body, to see that he was decked out in some kind of silver armor, (picture Prince Endymion's armor), billowing behind him was a gray cape through the wind, with a red inner lining. In his left hand he held a sword. On his left hand was a silver gauntlet with Screams, and the smell of blood and death surround him.
As he took a step back in surprise at what he was wearing, he stumbled backwards, tripping over something. As he hit the ground on his rear, and into a sticky puddle, he looked at what he had tripped over, then cried out in alarm. Lying at his feet was dead body, which had been badly mutilated by some. As he scooted back wards, his ungloved hand hit the puddle of 'water' he had landed in, with his hand coming away wet and sticky. Scattered around him were the dead bodies of men, women and children all around him.
"What the hell?!" Ranma exclaimed stumbling back to his feet, he moved as far as he could get from the bodies, as he tried to get rid of the blood that was covering his open palm, with little success. "This is way too weird. Just where am I anyways." Ranma wondered angrily as he glanced around his surroundings, as he started walking.
"Huh?" Ranma thought uncertainly to himself as he glanced around at the unfamiliar area around him, trying to ignore the sight of the dead bodies around him "What's going on around here? How did I get here? And where *is* here anyways." Behind him stood a large silver castle that seemed to radiate with a glow within itself. Glancing around for a few moments he finally looked up, to see a glowing blue green orb floating in the starlit sky. "That's weird, why's the moon that color for?"
"That's because it's not the moon," a voice suddenly whispered inside his head, making him jump in surprise at.
As Ranma spun around towards the voice, already getting into a defensive fighting stance, he see's someone walking towards him wearing the same type of armor that Ranma was currently now wearing a black mask. Ranma could see a long mane of black hair tied in a ponytail cascading down the figures back. As Ranma shielded his eyes, he spots nine other shadowed figures dressed in armor, standing behind the first one.
"Oh, yeah?" Ranma demanded as he frowned at the figure. "If your so smart, then if that's not the moon, then what is it?"
"It's the Earth," the figure answered casually, causing Ranma to start in surprise, almost facevaulting, but he stopped himself in time.
"The Earth?!" Ranma exclaimed as he glanced up once more at the green planet. "But that's gotta be impossible. If that's the Earth up there, then that means I'm on the moon. And who the hell are you?!"
"Who I am is a need to know basis." The figure said cockily as he took a few steps forward. "But I'll tell you this though."
"Ranko?" a voice called from somewhere far off.
"You'll find out who I am when the time comes, Ranma," the figure said, "When it's time for you to remember who you really are." She added as he started to fade away from view. "I can sense that it's almost time for that day to arrive. You've already found one of the missing pieces to your past, Ranma."
"Hey wait a minute!" Ranma shouted as he turned to reach out towards the figure to stop him, but it was too late, because the figure was already gone. "Geez, just what is this. What was that guy talking about, 'When it's time for me to remember who I really am.' I already know who I am. Even though, this seems familiar some how…" his thoughts are suddenly interrupted*
A sudden slap across Ranma-chan's face with enough force to turn the red heads head towards the left, bringing her rudely back into the present, as her hand moved instinctively towards the side of her face in shock as she felt the stinging burning sensation going through her cheek, as she turned to stare at accusingly as Lime who was just now starting to lower her hand. "WHAT DID YOU DO THAT FOR?!" Ranma-chan roared as she glared at Lime.
Ginseng was the one who answered Ranma-chan's question. "You seemed to have blanked out during my tale, when you stared down as at the dragon, young lady."
"I was calling you for the last five minutes, Ranko. But you didn't hear me. I'm really sorry about hitting you, but when nothing else worked, I decided that it was the only thing left for me to do." Lime said apologetically, bowing her head in regret.
Ranma blushed slightly as she realized what had happened, as she quickly apologized herself. "Sorry about this. It's just felt that…"
"It's alright, Ranko. You don't need to explain. A lot of people get different reactions from seeing our guardian. Though your reaction is quite different from a lot of the others. Ah, it looks you're your water is ready." Ginseng said, just as the kettle began to emit a loud whistling sound, signaling that the water was ready. Taking the pot off the fire, she pours some of the heated water into a Styrofoam cup.
Ranma immediately takes the cup into her hands as Ginseng hands it over to her, holding it gingerly in her hands, since the sides of the cup were hot. "Thanks for the water. Ginseng-san, I really 'preciate it. But now I gotta go. Some friends of mine are waiting outside for me." Ranma-chan said as she turned around to leave the kitchen in a hurry.
"Ranko?" Ginseng called, a note of curiosity in her voice as she called out to the redhead.
Ranma-chan reluctantly turned back around, only to find both of the former Amazons were staring directly at her with scrutinizing looks. "Yeah? What is it?"
"If you'll pardon an old woman's curiosity. But can you tell me what you saw, when you looked at the dragon?" Ginseng asked.
"What makes you think I saw anything." Ranma-chan demanded cautiously, not willing to take any chances that this might be a trick or something worse. "I didn't see anything." She insisted as she saw the skeptical looks the two women were giving her, causing her to sweat. "Look, really I didn't see anything." She insisted as she gripped the cup in one hand. "You know it could be dangerous to have that statue out in the open you know. Anybody who'd see it, might decide to steal it."
Ginseng's eyebrows knitted together over Ranma-chan's words. "What makes you say that? Why would anyone want to steal a stone statue of a dragon that is worth nothing." She asked curiously as she eyed Ranma-chan with a serious yet also amused look in her eyes as she waited for the redheads response. "There's nothing special about it at all."
Ranma's face changed as a frown creased her features as she looked first at Ginseng then back at the statue in the case. "What are ya talking about? Anybody'd have to be blind not to see that it's not a plain old stone statue, what with all different colored stones covering it's body." Ranma-chan stated as she turned her attention fully back towards the statue, missing the silent exchange between the niece and aunt as they glanced at each other behind her back with strange looks on their features.
"Ranko-chan," Lime said as she walked over to Ranma-chan until she was standing to the girls right, as she stared down at the statue herself for a few moments before speaking once more, "Tell me something. Are you trying to tell us that you can actually see the dragon the way it really looks like?" she asked.
"Yeah, I can." Ranko said instantly without looking up. Then what Lime just said hit her, and she glanced at Lime suspiciously. "What do ya mean by Do I see it 'the way it really looks like?' It doesn't look any different than anything else I've seen."
"Not a lot of people can actually see that statue's true appearance. Only those that are descended from our village can truly see it for what it is." Ginseng said, before Lime could answer. "Anyone else that looks at the statue would only see a worthless stone statue of a dragon."
Ranma's eyes widened at that, as she stared once more at the statue.
Ginseng only stared thoughtfully at Ranma-chan for a few moments, knowing for certain that Ranma must have seen something when she had stared at the statue, or else the redhead wouldn't be looking so uncomfortable, or reluctant. "Well if you are sure about that, young lady. I believe you said that you had some friends waiting for you outside."
* * *
Ryouga sat uncomfortably on the bench outside, as he glanced back around at the restaurant door for any sign of Ranma coming back out, without any luck, while then uncomfortably turning his attention back to the unconscious girl who's head was resting on his lap, as he felt anxiety fill him, at what Serena's reaction would be if she happened to wake up with her head resting on his lap before Ranma could return.
"Damn you Ranma! It's been five minutes already!" Ryouga cursed silently to himself, as he glanced once more at the restaurant door. "Just how long can it take to get one glass of water?! I just bet he's taking this long just to spite me as usual!"
Serena woke up with a start with every part of her body aching in pain from the recent battle against the two monsters, and with a crick in her in her neck from whatever it was she had her head resting on, causing her to moan from the stiffness she was feeling.
"Excuse me, miss?" an unfamiliar male voice called, breaking through her sleep fogged mind. "Are you waking up now? Do you think you can sit up without any help."
Eyes snapping wide open at the sound of the unfamiliar voice, Serena found herself staring up into the unfamiliar face of a strange bandanna clad boy looking down at her. Just as quickly the realization of just what it was that her head was resting on hit her, and she sat up with a start, only to let out a low whimper of pain as she gripped her now throbbing head. "Owwww…." She whined as her eyes began to fill with tears.
"Hey are you okay?" Ryouga demanded, as he reached out with his hands to steady Serena when it looked like she was going to collapse again, without really thinking about what he was doing. "Just stay still for a minute, and it'd probably pass."
"Who are you?" Serena demanded as she tried to pull out of Ryouga's grip as she frowned at him through the hazy pain she felt, as she quickly glanced around for the familiar figure of her cousin, in either form. "Where's Ranma?!"
"I'm Ryouga Hibiki. Um… I was the one who help you girls out at that fight earlier." Ryouga explained. Seeing the confused yet cautious look Serena was giving him, he quickly added in a rush, "Don't worry about that jerk Ranma. He's okay. He went into that restaurant to get some water, and he left you with me until she came back out."
Serena visibly paled when Ryouga mentioned the battle from earlier, and tried to talk her way out of it. "battlewhatbattle?Idon'tknowwhatyourtalkingabout…" she started, panic causing her words to come out fast and jumbled up as she denied everything, only to be cut off when Ryouga held up a hand.
"Look don't worry. I don't understand what happened earlier, or what those things you and your friends were fighting, but I already promised your friends that I wouldn't tell anyone." Ryouga said with an indifferent shrug, as he turned his attention back in the direction of the restaurant, only to realize that he was looking the wrong way, and bit back a mental curse.
"Oh," she said quietly, as the tenseness in her body melted away at his words, as the memory of who he was came back to her. "Thanks for your help," Serena said softly, as she gave Ryouga a grateful look, before she leaned against Ryouga for a few moments as she felt the pain in her head slowly begin to recede, as she relaxed. "Since you've already told me what your name is, Hibiki-san, I should introduce myself. I'm Serena." She said as she turned around to face him once more, only to notice that Ryouga's face seemed to be turning a strange bright shade of red. "Hey are you okay? Are you sick?" she asked, as she reached up with one hand to feel his forehead.
Ryouga scooted over as far as he could get from her before her hand came in contact with his forehead as his blush seemed to get deeper, this time from embarrassment, as he absently brought a hand up to his nose when he felt a faint trickle of blood run down his nose, before Serena could see it. "I'm f- f-fine!" he stammered out. "It's nothing to get worried about."
That was how Ranma-chan found them when she came out, in time to hear both Serena's question and Ryouga's statement, as she gripped the cup in one hand. Glancing over towards the bench, Ranma smiles when she sees that Serena's awake and makes her way over.
"Hey meatballhead. I see that you're awake. Now I don't have to carry you all the way home." She said teasingly as she sat down on the bench. "Hey P-chan, I'm surprised that you were able to stay in one place without getting lost first."
"Ranma!" Serena shouted as she scowled at the redhead, before giving Ranma-chan a rough shove. "I told you, don't call me meatballhead! Oh!" Serena fumed as she scowled up at Ranma-chan.
"Yeah, whatever, Bunny," Ranma-chan said, using his other nickname for Serena to placate her, as she dumped the cup of hot water over her head, instantly changing back into a guy. Ignoring the gasps and stares she was now getting from the people who had stopped to watch the commotion, "Come on let's go. We need to get back to your house. It's almost time for dinner, Serena."
At the mention of food Serena's stomach immediately growled loudly enough to be heard by everyone on the street, causing the young girl to blush in embarrassment and large sweatdrops to form on the back of Ryouga and Ranma's heads.
Alex and Michelle were driving down the streets of Tokyo, on their way to the local elementary school to pick up Hotaru from school, in Alex's sports red car. As they drove along, Alex glanced periodically over at Michelle, who was staring out her open car window longly, letting the wind blow her hair in the wind.
"Where do you think we should we go after we pick up Hotaru from school, Alex?" Michelle glanced over at Alex, and spotted the looks that Alex was giving her, a fond look spreading across her features.
"I don't know, Michelle." Alex responded as she turned her attention back to her driving. "Susan's guarding the time gate today, and we are supposed to drop Hotaru off at the hospital to visit her father for a few hours, then it's off to the movies after we pick her up like we promised"
Michelle gained a thoughtful look on her features, before she turned her attention back to her companion, "Which would leave us plenty of time to ourselves until it's time to go get her?" she asked as she leaned in closer to Alex.
Alex smiles at the image Michelle's words bring up over what they could do when they got home. "That sounds like a good idea to me, Michelle," She said as she wrapped one arm around Michelle's waist to give her a hug before returning it to the wheel, when they both heard the familiar tingling laughter of their princess, somewhere nearby.
As they glanced around the street, they finally spotted her walking by, heading for the for the crosswalk with two strange boys. As they pulled up to a stop in front of the street light, and waited for the light to change, Ranma, Ryouga and Serena walked past the front of the car, as they walked along the crosswalk, deep in conversation.
Alex and Michelle both glanced up in surprise at the sight of their princess going by. But what got Alex steamed up was the sight of her talking to two strange boys that she didn't know. Especially when the one with the pigtail casually draped his arm around Serena's shoulders as he said something to Serena, as they walked by, that caused her to break off into laughter.
"Isn't that…" Michelle began, only to have her words cut off as the streetlight changed and Alex put the car into overdrive, causing the car to make an abrupt turn in the direction that Serena and the boys had gone in.
"It was, Michelle," Alex said angrily. "I don't know who those two boys were. But we're going to find out, and if they are bothering her, I'm going to 'encourage' them to keep their distance from meatball head," she said casually, as she pulled her car around the corner.
Meanwhile, Serena was laughing over what Ranma had just told her about his adventures in Nerima, and the fights that he had gotten into with Ryouga, much to the lost boy's chargin and embarrassment, as he followed silently next to the other two teens, a slight blush creeping up to his cheeks.
"You really chased after Ranma all these years just to get revenge for stealing bread from you back in elementary school?" Serena demanded between giggles as she turned around in midstep to stare at Ryouga who was slowly beginning to fall back.
"Yep," Ranma said before Ryouga could respond.
Ryouga's blush deepened as he stared at Serena, instantly becoming distracted, "You wouldn't understand, Serena." Ryouga protested feebly. "It was a matter of honor and pride. If Ranma hadn't run out on our duel I would.."
"That's just it Ryouga." Serena cut in hurriedly as she frowned at him. "If what Ranma says is true about what really happened during your duel, is that he waited three days for you in the vacant lot behind your* house, before my uncle made him leave took him back on the road to continue his training trip." Serena said insistently as she got right up into Ryouga's face as she spoke. "He even told you that he did wait for you, which means he didn't run out on your duel if he had been willing to wait that long in the vacant lot in who knows what type of weather, that may have caused him really sick from later on, before he finally gave up on waiting and left. And your telling me that he ran out on your duel?"
"Well, you see… ummm…" Ryouga began, only to get flustered as his reasons for keeping up his quest for vengeance against Ranma, without having to mention his Jusenkyo curse in the process, seemed to completely fly out of his head as his eyes met Serena's intense face. Breaking contact with the blond, Ryouga turned for Ranma for help, only to see the smirk on the other martial artists face. "It's just that… It's his fault for all the misfortune that I've had to endure since I've met him."
"Yes?" Serena asked, not wavering from her goal, as she kept her gaze on Ryouga's face. "And how is everything bad that's happened to you his fault?"
"Look it's a not just what happened between us back in grade school, that I'm after Ranma about." He said as he shot a dark look at Ranma from over Serena's head. "You don't understand the type of suffering that I've had to go through because of him."
Noticing that Ryouga's attention was now on him, Ranma's smirk grew wider, as he held up both of his hands. "Don't look at me Ryouga. You're on your own pal. Besides she's right on all counts, as I've always been telling ya." He said smugly. "Once she gets started there's no point to argue. Even when we were kids she was like that."
"Always like what?" Serena demanded, instantly diverting her attention towards Ranma, with a frown on her features.
"Oh, nothing. Just remembering something similar like this that happened years ago." Ranma said, as the smirk disappeared to be instantly replaced by a sly look as his eyes closed, and he crossed his arms behind his back, as he leaped up onto a nearby fence to walk.
Just as they reached the crosswalk, a cold wind came up, causing Serena to shiver from cold, because her clothes were still a little damp from the that days earlier rainstorm. Raising a hand involuntarily to her mouth to cover a sneeze, hoping that her two companions hadn't noticed it. But Ranma had.
Ranma had glanced back down over at Serena in mid speech when he heard her sneeze, and saw that she was shivering from the cold. He had barely noticed the cold himself; because he had been unconsciously using his ki field to keep warm, and do a quick blow-dry of his own hair and clothing. Jumping back down to land in front of her, he reached out with his left hand to touch Serena's shoulder, his hand came away slightly wet from her clothes.
"Oh for!…" Ranma exclaimed in anger as he reached out instinctively with one arm, and draped it around her shoulders, and pulled her over towards himself, as he expanded his ki field towards her. "Serena… you idiot…" he muttered to himself.
Serena let out a yelp of surprise, almost jumping out of her skin if it wasn't for Ranma's strong arm around her shoulders. When Ranma had released his outburst, it had startled her, but when she casually placed one of his arms around Serena's shoulders pulling her closer to himself as they walked, she felt a sense of warmth and safety in his arms, that she didn't immediately pull away like she had planned to.
"Ranma?" Serena asked as she glanced over at her cousin, as she tried to pull out of his grip.
"Relax, Serena." Ranma said as he glanced back at her, meeting her eyes head on. "Just what are ya trying to do? Get yourself sick or what? Your still too weak from that battle to get sick with a cold." He said, making a tsking sound with his mouth. "Now just stay still for a few seconds will ya, and I'll have you dry quickly. Now walk." He said as he steered Serena's body the rest of the way down the crosswalk.
Realizing that arguing was out of the question, Serena reluctantly stayed closer towards Ranma, keeping closer to the eerie feeling warmth that he was radiating off of his body.
Ryouga hurried after the duo, having heard Serena yelp, and finally was able to catch up with them after making a few wrong turns along the way. "Hey Ranma what's wrong." He demanded, the tone of his voice showing his concern.
Glancing over his shoulder back at Ryouga, Ranma gave him a sheepish look. "I completely forgot that Sere and I were caught in that rainstorm earlier. Looks like she's starting to catch a cold or something."
"Look guys, I'm fine really. It was just a little sneeze." Serena protested weakly, as she tried to pull out of Ranma's grip so that she could walk without his help.
"What are you talking about?" Serena asked, when she realized something. Her clothes and hair that had been damp only moments ago, were now completely dry, as if she had never even been out in the rain. "Ranma, I don't know what you just did, but I think I'm dry now." She said incredulously felt her clothes just to make sure.
Ranma only smirked slightly, but before he could respond to Serena's inquiry, the trio suddenly hear the sound of a car honking behind them. As they turned around to see what was going on, the two boys heard a unfamiliar voice call out to them, though Serena recognized whoever it was instantly as she spots the two familiar figures seated in the sports car that was coming to a stop at the curb.
"Hey kitten, where are you off to in such a hurry?" Alex called over as she pulled up the brake lever.
"Alex, Michelle! I'm on my way home, Alex. What are you two doing here?" As she turned towards the curb, she pulled herself fully out of Ranma's embrace to rush towards the car. "I didn't expect the two of you today."
Ranma stared after Serena, as his eyes narrowed on the two people in the sports car, his eyes focused mainly on Alex, as he tried to remember something. 'There's something familiar about that blond guy, but what was it? Do I know him from somewhere?' Ranma wondered silently to himself, as he grabbed hold of Ryouga's arm.
"We were just passing by, when we spotted you making your way past the crosswalk, Serena," Michelle said cheerfully as she stared at Serena. "And we thought that we should say hi." She said while keeping an eye on Ranma and Ryouga who were both making their way towards the car, with Ranma keeping a firm grip on Ryouga's arm in order to keep him in one place. "Who are your friends?"
"Oh! I almost forgot!" Just as the two boys almost reached the sports car, Serena spun around, and moves towards them grabbing Ryouga's left arm, and then hooking her other arm into the crook of Ranma's as she pulled them the rest of the way. "Michelle, Alex, I want the two of you to meet my cousin Ranma Saotome…"
"Hey," Ranma said cheerfully, as his eyes stayed Alex's face, noticing that the blond boy was also returning his stare with the same. 'This is so weird. Do I know this guy somewhere? He looks too familiar… and so does that girl that's sitting next to him…' Ranma thought silently to himself as Serena continued the introductions.
"And his friend, Ryouga Hibiki." Serena said.
"Hi…" Ryouga said, as another blush crept up to his cheeks as he stared at Michelle. 'She's so beautiful.' He thought solemnly as he tried to make it look like he wasn't really staring. 'Do I know her from somewhere, though?'
"Ranma, Ryouga. I want you guys to meet two of my best friends, Alex Tenou and Michelle Kaioh." She said, making th introductions.
"Ranma's staying at my house for awhile, guys." Serena said cheerfully, completely oblivious to the tension around building around her. She was just happy that four of her best friends were getting together. "Alex, can you do me a favor and maybe give a ride to my house if you're not busy?" Serena asked pleadingly. "I don't think that I can go another step if I have to walk all the way home from here."
"Sure, Serena, we'd be glad to." Alex said as she reached back and unlocked the back doors of the car. "All of you pile in."
Ranma was the first to enter the car. As he climbed into the back seat of the car, and moved all the way to the right of the car, so that Serena and Ryouga would have enough room to sit down, a light suddenly lit up in Ranma's head at the mentioned of the names of the two people sitting in front seat of the sports car.
'Alex… and Michelle! Now I remember where I saw them before. Back in grade school with Ryouga.' He thought as he grinned broadly as he glanced at Ryouga. "Hey Alex, how's it going, man. It's been a long time. You too Michelle."
From the look on Alex and Michelle's faces, as they stared at the two boys, it was evident that they also remembered who they were, as they both glanced back at him in surprise, then at each other in equal surprise.
"Ranma? Ryouga? It's really you guys?" Michelle said as she stared intently at the two boys in disbelief, as memories of her childhood came rushing back. "I thought there was something familiar about those names." Glancing back over at Ryouga, she gave him a friendly smile. "I've been wondering if you ever caught up with Ranma. And I see that you did."
"I didn't think I'd see you again after all these years, Ranma." Alex said as she glanced at Ranma with an assessing look, the tense look on her features seemingly relaxing as she smirked at Ryouga. "I see that you've still been working out since the last time I saw you, cousin."
"Huh? You guys know each other?" Serena asked in confusion as she stared between the four older teens, as she took a seat in the middle of the back seat next to Ranma. "When did you all meet?"
"Yes, Serena. You could say that we're old friends of these two from grade school." Alex said as she glanced over at the blonde girl, before turning to give Michelle a shrewd look. "But I didn't know you knew them too, Michelle."
Before Michelle could say anything in response, it was at that moment when Michelle's last words hit Serena. "Ryouga's your cousin, Michelle?!" she exclaimed, her voice rising.
"Yeah. I met Michelle back in grade school at the same time I met Ryouga." Ranma "Before I came along, Michelle was always picking up Ryouga from his house to walk him to school and back so he wouldn't get lost on the way, back when Pops and I were staying in Hokkaido during our training." Ranma said as he gave Ryouga a cocky grin. "Don't ya remember, Ryouga?"
"Yeah, I remember." Ryouga replied coolly, planning on getting back at Ranma for bringing up his directional problems, as he settled back into the cushioned upholstery, with his pack on his lap.
"Alex is an old buddy of mine from back in junior high." Ranma added in.
"Friends," Alex gave a slight nod of agreement in response to Ranma's explanation, as she glanced over her shoulder every now and then at the trio in the rearview mirror, without completely taking her eyes off the road. "I wouldn't say that Ranma. The way I see it, our friendship was more like a rivalry, to see who was better at sports." Alex said with an unladylike snort. "As far as I remember, before you came along, I was considered the best athlete the school, then that all changed when he enrolled into school."
"Aw, come on, Alex." Ranma complained as he met Alex's eyes in the mirror. "Don't tell me ya still have a grudge over me because of that."
"What did you do Ranma?" Serena asked as she glanced first at Ranma then at Alex, as she waited for either one or the other to speak up first.
Once the three teens were in the back seat, Alex pulled the car away from the curb and moved back out into the afternoon traffic, as Alex began talking about the 'good old days' she had spent with Ranma.
* * *
~Later, The Tsukino household~
Thanks to the lift that Alex and Michelle gave them, Ranma, Serena, and Ryouga stepped through the front door of the Tsukino home just in time for dinner. As they took off their shoes and placed them on the shoe rack next to the front door. Ranma keeping a firm grip on Ryouga's left arm to make sure he didn't get lost along the way.
Irene stood by the kitchen stove, stirring a pot of stew, while her husband sat at the table drinking a cup of coffee and reading the evening newspaper as the three teens made their way into the kitchen.
"We're home!" Serena called as she rushed on ahead, heading for the kitchen where the smells of food cooking were coming from. "Hi mom! Hi dad." Serena called as she gave her parents a hug and kiss on their cheeks. "What's for dinner?"
"Welcome home dear. We are having roast beef for dinner tonight. You are just in time for dinner. Is Ranma with you?" Irene asked as she returned Serena's kiss, on the cheek.
"Yeah mom, and we brought a friend over." Serena said as she sat down at the table.
"I'm right here, auntie Irene." Ranma called as he half dragged Ryouga into the kitchen behind him.
"Ranma! Will you let go already!" Ryouga shouted as he pried at Ranma's hand with his free hand. "Don't make me have to break your fingers."
"Not until your sitting down at the table, P-chan." Ranma countered back heatedly, "and you can stay there."
"Don't call me P-chan!" Ryouga said but allowed Ranma to lead him to the kitchen table, where he then yanked his arm away and sat down in the nearest chair. Where Ken eyed him out of the corner of his eye from behind his newspaper.
"Ranma aren't you going to introduce us to your friend?" Irene asked as she turned around from the stove to glance over at the two boys.
"Oh yeah. That's Ryouga Hibiki, he's an old *friend* from Nerima." Ranma said, emphasizing on the 'friend' part as he glanced at Ryouga, catching the guarded look on Ryouga's now solemn features, as he leaned back in the chair he was sitting in, stretching out his arms widely.
"Nice to meet you, Ryouga." Irene greeted in a friendly voice, as she started setting plates down at the table. "Any friend of Ranma's is always welcomed in this house. Right dear?" she said as she turned her attention towards her husband.
"Right honey," Ken said, as he put down his newspaper to look over the new arrival, before extending one hand out to Ryouga to shake. "It's good to meet you, my boy. How are things going for you?"
"Fine, Mr. Tsukino," Ryouga said, standing up after hesitating only a moment before taking the older mans hand and pumped it few times before letting it go.
Ken smiled at Ryouga for a few moments as he looked Ryouga over, before giving the lost boy one final nod before sitting back down. 'Now why can't Serena settle down with a nice boy like this one that who's a lot closer to her own age, instead of that Shields boy?' he thought silently in frustration, before speaking one more to Ryouga. "What brings you all the way here to Tokyo, Ryouga?"
"Um.. I just happened to be passing through Tokyo when I ran into Ranma and Serena earlier today," Ryouga said as he also sat back down, hesitant to admit the real reason that he had arrived up in Tokyo, though he shot Ranma a dirty look when he heard a slight chuckle coming from Ranma's side of the table.
Ranma was leaning against his chair, with his arms crossed behind his back as he returned Ryouga's stare in earnest.
Serena stared between the two boys in open confusion, as she tried to figure out what was going on, and why Ranma was trying not to laugh out loud.
"Would you like to join us for dinner, Ryuoga-kun? Or do you need to head somewhere?" Irene asked as she came back into the dining room with a salad bowl that was overflowing with vegetables, as she glanced at Ryouga waiting for his answer, "We have plenty of food for one more if you are interested."
Ryouga was surprised when he heard the invitation. "Sure, Mrs. Tsukino. Thank you for the offer, but I couldn't. I haven't had anything home cooked in awhile. I've been doing a lot of… traveling lately and haven't been home in awhile."
"Oh? What have you been eating?" Irene asked.
"Mostly Instant Ramen cups that I cook over an open fire, or anything else that I can get from the store when I pass by one." Ryouga said with a shrug.
"Oh, my." Irene said with a concerned frown on her features. "That's no fit meal for a growing boy like you to have. I insist that you stay here and have dinner with us. I won't take no for an answer." She insisted.
Just then Sammy and Rini come downstairs for dinner.
"Hey mom!" Sammy called as he walked into the dining room. "What are we having for dinner?" he asked as he stuck his head into the kitchen.
"Roast beef, Sammy." Irene said as she brought out the platter that held the roast beef on it. "Now that everyone's here already, dinner's ready."
As Rini came into the room, she noticed Ryouga sitting at the table, who was staring fixedly at Ranma. "Who are you?" she asked, as she took a seat across from him.
"Girls, your father and I want to talk to you." Irene said as she sat down and began to fix her own plate.
"Yeah mom?" Serena asked as she looked up, as she noticed the serious note in her mother's voice.
"What is it, Auntie?" Rini asked.
The two adults glanced at each other for a moment before glancing at Ranma, who was completely oblivious about what was going on as he ate his food, dinner.
"Serena, your father have discussed this last night, and seeing how Ranma's reaction to seeing Diana last night, we think that it would be best that you might have to ask one of your friends if they could take in and watch over your cats until the time when Ranma leaves." Ken said as he glanced between the two girls.
"What?!" Serena and Rini cried out in unison.
"Huh?" Ranma said as he glanced up in concern when he heard the distressed tone Serena and Rini were having. "What's going on?"
"Looks like mom and dad are telling Serena and Rini that they gotta get rid of Luna and Diana while you're staying here Ranma." Sammy said.
A chill ran down Ranma's back at the mention of Diana's name, since he remembered all too well who Diana was in this house, but it was the other name is what confused him. "Who's Luna?"
Ranma felt another chill go down his back at the mention of another cat in the house.
"You haven't seen her yet. Luna is Serena's black cat. She's got the same weird crescent shaped bald patch on her forehead that Diana has."
Ryouga also stopped eating to listen in on the conversation.
Luna and Diana who were in the kitchen eating there own dinner together heard what Ken said were also upset over the announcement, and winced inwardly about the comment Sammy made about their crescent moon marks.
"Bald patches indeed." Luna muttered as she peeked in through the doorway with Diana at her side.
"But mom, I can't just give Luna away to anybody," Serena began, going instantly into her patented whining only to be completely cut off by her mother as she shot her an angry look.
"Serena I thought that I taught you better manners than this." Irene snapped as she glared at her daughter. "Ranma is a guest in this house, and seeing how his initial reaction to just having Diana in his lap was last night, your father and I don't think it would be wise to have both cats around the house during his stay here. I don't want it be said that this family put their own personal needs and wants in place of the comfort and well being of a guest. Do I make myself clear, both of you?" she demanded.
"Yes, ma'dm." Serena and Rini said simultaneously as they quieted down and started picking at their food with their forks.
Turning around to face Ranma, her features softened slightly. "Ranma, the reason that I'm bringing this up now, is that the final decision will be yours. I know this may seem like a bad time to bring this up, since Ryouga-kun is here and as much as it would hurt me to do this to the girls, your uncle and I are willing to have Luna and Diana removed."
Ranma felt had felt a deeper, sharper chill of fear fill him when Sammy had mentioned that there were two cats in the house instead of one, and was busy glancing around the dining room for any sign of either cat around, while Diana and Luna ducked back into the kitchen whenever his gaze moved towards the kitchen. On hearing Irene's statement, out of fear, Ranma was about to immediately jump on the idea of having the two cats stay at a friends house, when he stopped, and glanced at Serena and Rini, taking in their sullen unhappy faces, which they were keeping faced down at their food.
'Ah man, I can't do it. Both of them are going to be upset at me if I insist that Luna and Diana go.' Ranma thought to himself, as indecision filled him as to what to do. 'I'll just have to make sure to avoid them as much as possible when I'm in the house, I guess...' he concluded before speaking up.
"It's all right really, auntie. Ya don't have to do that." Ranma said, lying through his teeth. "My fear of c-ats isn't really that bad." He added quickly, "I can handle it. I guess as long as their nowhere near where I am, I'll be okay. You don't have to make Serena and Rini send them away."
Hearing what Ranma had just said, both girls looked up and over towards him with surprised looks on their faces. After seeing how Ranma had reacted the other night to just having Diana sitting on his lap, they had expected him to jump at the offer their parents were offering him.
"Are you sure, Ranma?" Ken cut in as he glanced at Ranma with a concerned look in his eyes, his expression serious. "I don't want you to have a repeat of what happened last night because of Diana."
"I'm sure." Ranma insisted, as he glanced towards Serena and Rini, and met their eyes. "I'll handle it if it happens. Besides, I just don't wanna see Serena or Rini being sad if they had to give up their pets."
After that statement, the dinner table was quiet for the rest of the meal as everyone ate their dinners in silence.
"Well, I guess I'll be going." Ryouga said as he stood in front of the front door, with his traveling pack slung over his shoulder. "Thanks again for the meal, Mrs. Tsukino. It was great. The best I ever had." Ryouga said as he bowed respectfully to the elder members of the family.
"Your welcome, Ryouga." Irene said cheerfully as she smiled at Ryouga. "I'm just glad that you joined us for dinner. I hope that you come back to visit us soon."
Returning her smile, Ryouga turned to leave, when Ken's voice called out to him.
"Hold on, Ryouga. Nerima's a long way off from here, Ryouga. Do you have a place to stay for the night, before you head on home?" Ken asked as he stood next to Irene.
"Not really. I do a lot of camping outside." Ryouga said as patted his backpack. "I have everything that I need in here."
"That won't do!" Irene exclaimed shocked. "You can't sleep outside tonight Ryouga. I heard on the news earlier that it was going to start raining again some time tonight. You'll be soaked through. Why don't you stay the night here, and wait until tomorrow morning to set out again. You can share Ranma's room, on the spare futon that we have somewhere around here."
Later that night the Rini, Diana, and Luna were gather back together in Serena's room, as Serena told them about what had happened earlier involving the battle against the monsters. Rini had stars in her eyes as she pictured Ranma fighting against the monsters and winning, while Diana looked on in confusion at her mistress.
"I wish that I was there to see Ranchan fighting those monsters. I bet he was just great!" Rini whined as she rolled over onto her back to stare up at the ceiling for a moment before turning her attention towards Serena, who was sitting at her nightstand. "Why didn't you call me to come fight with you guys?!" she demanded accusingly.
"Sorry, Rini. Even if I had called you, you wouldn't have gotten there in time to do anything anyways. Besides Ranma was doing pretty well against those monsters by himself before the others and me got there." Serena said with a shrug as she pinned up her long hair with barrettes. "You guys should have seen her… um I mean him. He was beating up one of the monsters with his bare hands so hard, that it didn't stand a chance against him." She said dreamily as she thought back to the battle.
Luna meanwhile was fuming over the news that Ranma not only knew that Serena was Sailor Moon along with the rest of the scouts true identities, but so did Ryouga who she still didn't know anything about, and was letting Serena know how displeased she was, while Serena calmly ran a brush through her unbound hair while facing a mirror.
"Serena I can't believe how careless you were by letting Ranma find out that you are Sailor Moon. Your cousin finding out was one thing, but that other boy! You don't even know anything about him." Luna said seriously as she frowned up at the young moon princess. "What if he or that Ryouga fellow tell someone who you really are?!" she demanded, "If any of your enemies find out who the sailor senshi really are…"
"Chill out Luna," Serena cut in, her tone sounding uncharacteristically harsh, not turning around to face Luna, "Both Ranma and Ryouga already promised that he wouldn't say a word to anyone about what he saw today, and I trust them." Serena said defiantly. "As for Ryouga, even though I just met him today during the short time I was with him and Ranma today, I feel like I *can* trust him to keep our secret too. Just like I know I can trust Ranma." She said with a sigh, as she stood up, and glanced at Diana and Rini, with a stern look. "It's time to get some sleep you guys. I'm still worn out from having to use the Silver crystal's power earlier, and I want to get some rest."
That night Serena tossed and turned in her sleep as a nightmare filled her mind. Sweat covered her forehead, In the throes of her nightmare a single tear slipped out from under her closed eyelids, as two names passed her lips.
Kanaeda faced the youma that stood before him as he tried to keep Serenity out of harms way by tightening his grip on her so he wouldn't loose his grip on her small frame.
The youma was most definitely female, with lime green skin and purple hair. Instead of hands, she had what looked like large red flower buds sticking out of the ends of her arms. It stood several feet taller than both children combined. Red and green vines covered, forming a pants suit that covered most of her body.
"Well, well." the youma hissed out, it's voice high as she stared down at the two children. "The two royal moon brats together in the same place at the same time. Queen Beryl will be most pleased at my success for nabbing both of you." she said
Serenity let out a soft whimper as her own grip around Kanaeda's neck tightened as she glanced over his shoulder to look at the monster, while Tiamat bristled and hissing and snarling at the youma from her new perch on Kanaeda's head.
"Who are you! Who sent you here?!" Kanaeda demanded as he set Serenity down on the ground.
"The name is Polinatra." the youma said as she turned, "and my queen would like an audience with the two of you. So be good little royals and hand yourselves over to me without a fight, or else I will take you by force." She said smugly, as she held up her hands, as her hands stretched out into vines. "Though if you're wanting to fight, I'll be more than willing to give it to you. Queen Beryl never exactly said what condition you had to be in, as long as you were both brought to her alive."
"Kane-chan." Serenity whined in fear as she hid behind him, her small hands gripping his shirt from behind.
Kanaeda glanced first at Serenity, then off in the distance. He could see the silver towers of the Moon Palace over the tree tops, but he knew they were still too far even if they tried to make it there if they made a break for it.
'If I only had my sword with me we wouldn't be in this mess.' Kanaeda thought frantically as he bent down to pick up a fallen branch to use as a makeshift weapon.
"Quit stalling already! There is no point in fighting, because you're mine!" Polinatra shouted as she raised her hands in front of her and pointed them at the children. The pods of the flowers opened up and long vines snapped out of them shooting toward the trio at breakneck speed giving them no time to dodge.
Just before the vines hit the two children, Kanaeda reached behind himself and shoved Serena out of the way of the vines, just as they hit him trapping his arms and legs, and binding them together. As he struggled to get free, a jolt of energy shot through the vines and into his body causing him to cry out in pain.
"Prince Kanaeda!" Tiamat cried out in alarm as her body began to glow brighter as she became bigger and bigger until she was the size of a full-grown horse. Her long sharp talons glistened in the light that shown down from the Earth above.
"Kane!" Serenity cried out as she tried to get past Tiamat in order to get to her brothers side.
"Aw man..." Kanaeda groaned out as the pain raced through his body, he struggled to move as he glanced over at Tiamat and Serenity. Tiamat her form to a larger size, had gotten Serenity out of striking distance of the youma and was getting ready to launch a fiery attack on the youma to free her charge. "Tiamat don't! Just Get Serenity out of here now, don't worry about me!"
"I'm not leaving you," Serenity cried out, as tears started to pool in her eyes.
"Serenity get out of here. Mom'd go ballistic if something happened to both of us." Kanaeda ordered, still straining to try and break free of the vines, with little success. "Tia, go with her and make sure she get's back to the castle."
"But your highness..." Tiamat protested only to be cut off.
"How touching," Polinatra said sarcastically as her eyes narrowed to slits, as she released her end of the vines that held Kanaeda, leaving the Moon Prince still wrapped up, so she could approach the princess and dragon. "Don't even bother to try it dragon, these two mine! POLLEN STORM!" she shouted as she released an assault of spores that headed straight for the dragon.
Before Tiamat could react or get out of the way, the spores hit her hard, covering her in a paralyzing cloud of dust that brings her down to her knees. The spores that hit the ground evaporated into the surface, before moments later vines comes shooting out of the ground to wrap around the dragon, to keep her pinned.
"No!" Princess Serenity cried out as she ran around Tiamat to head for her brother ignoring the dragon's cries for her stop. "Don't hurt my brother!" she shouted as she ran towards the youma with her tiny hands up in fists, only to trip and fall to the dirt floor as the hem of her dress is caught under her feet. She sat up and started crying, the golden crescent moon on her forehead suddenly erupted in a blinding flash of light that shot up into the night sky.
Polinatra smirked, undisturbed by the noise or lightshow, "So the princess wants to play? Fine with me. Queen Beryl never said what condition I had to bring you back in." she said as she raised her arms in the air.
As Kanaeda struggled to move, despite the vines that still bound his small frame, he looked up only to watch as the buds on the youma's arms opened to reveal several sharp vines pointed directly at his sister. "NO!" he cried out just before she attacked.
Serenity looked up at her brother's cry and her eyes widened in horror at what she saw and started wailing anew at the incoming danger, when all of a sudden the sound of movement, from behind her, catching her attention, just before a pair of strong hands sweep under her arms and lift her up and out of the way of the incoming danger, soon followed by slashing sounds, and Polinatra's enraged screams of pain…
Swipe! Slash! *
"Aiiieeeeee" Polinatra cried out in agony as she felt her vines being forcibly sliced off in mid- flight. Spinning around in anger, she searched the area for her assailants. "Who's there?! How dare you do that to me?!"
A few feet away, Prince Kanaeda was staggering to his feet, after suddenly finding himself freed from his bindings.
As everyone watched two small figures leaped out of the surrounding forest and one grabbed up Serenity in strong arms, while the other attacked the vines slicing them to pieces in a matter of seconds.
As the light from the Earth shown down into the area lit up the two new arrivals. The figure belonged to a boy held a curved staff with that he held slung over his shoulder. Long brown hair flowed down his shoulders.
"You little brats!" Polinatra shouted as she turned to glare at them as she pulled back her injured limbs. "Who do you think you are to do that to me."
"I am Prince Titus of the planet Saturn, but my future enemies will know get to know me better as Saturn Knight, the harbringer of death and reincarnation." the brunette said as he swung his weapon. He looked to be a little older than both Prince Kanaeda and his other companion. He held a black scythe, that was several sizes to big for him to be holding. It's long curved blade shining in the light.
"I'm the Prince Adrian of the planet Jupiter, Jupiter Knight," His companion said as he appeared alongside Titus, holding onto a sobbing Serenity who clung to him with her arms wrapped around his neck. Adrian was another young boy with long, brown hair, tied back in a ponytail, he was dressed in dark green armor, with black pants, with a long sword strapped to his back. Adrian's eyes darkened in anger as they settled on the youma from over Princess Serenity's head, as he tried to comfort the small Moon Princess. "Nobody harms the prince and princess and lives to tell the tale."
(A.N. It's like the one that Duo Maxwell's Gundam uses in battle, except without the pulsating energy going through it's 'blade'. ^_^)
"The two of you sure took your sweet time getting here!" Kanaeda cried out as he stood back up unsteadily as he frowned at his two friends.
Titus shot a smirk over his shoulder at the young moon prince as he shifted his scythe in his hands, "When Serenity disappeared, your mother had everyone looking for her." He said as he dodged one of the youma's attacks, and cleanly slices through one of the incoming sharp vines.
"It didn't take us long to realize, that she probably came out here to look for you as usual, Kanaeda. So we decided she must be safe with you. Then we saw the moon signal. We knew there was trouble." Adrian added, as he turned to face Polinatra who, thanks to Saturn Knight's attacks, was slowly beginning to look a badly cut hedge.
"Titus, back off. Take the princess for me, and let me handle this." Adrian said, as he handed Serenity over to Saturn Knight before he could react. The minute that both his hands were free, he instantly raised his gloved hand into the air, as sparks began to shoot out of his finger tips, cape billowing behind him, forming in a sparking ball of energy, before shouting out, "Jupiter… Omega… Thunder Shocker!!" and releasing it towards Polinatra.
Polinatra sweatdroped as she watched as the attack raced towards her, but before she could move to get out of the way of the incoming attack, it hit her hard, causing lightning to shoot out in every direction completely lighting up the forest, as her screams of pain filled the night, just before she vanished under the onslaught of the attack.
Turning back towards the two lunarians, Jupiter Knight sees that Saturn Knight was already detransformed and attending to them. as the dark haired warrior tried to comfort a still sobbing Serenity. Looking around, he spots Kanaeda standing near Tiamat cutting the vines that covered her body in order to release her.
~End Dream Sequence~
Luna watched expectantly from her spot at the foot of the bed as she watched over her charge, awakening by her charges disturbed sleep. After nearly 10 minutes of thrashing in bed, the young princess seemed to visibly relax, let out a contented sigh, and began to slowly settle down into a more restful slumber.
'Not that dream again,' Luna thought agitatedly, a human-like frown appearing on her feline features. 'Why have these memories of Prince Kanaeda begun to resurface after all this time?' After making sure that Serena was asleep, Luna slowly stood up and padded up to the top of the bed. 'This one was a lot worse than the one from last night.'
Luna had promised herself that she wasn't going to say anything to Serena earlier about Kanaeda, because after the first time of being rudely awakened by Serena's nightmare, Luna had a dream of her own…
Queen Serenity sat in conference with her two lunarian guardians, as they discussed the upcoming events.
"Mother!" an indignant voice of a young man cried out. Prince Kanaeda, now 19 years old, comes storming into the room unannounced, letting the large oak doors slam shut behind him, Tiamat flying behind him, trying to keep up. Dressed in silver armor (it's like Darien's armor when he's in prince mode) Grasped tightly in his left hand was a parchment of paper. "How could you do this to me.
Queen Serenity stared up at her son with a disapproving frown on her normally serene features. "What is it Kanaeda? What has gotten you so upset to bring you bursting into my chambers.
"What I am talking about is this!" he said as he slammed the parchment down onto the desk in front of Serenity. "How *could* you do this to me?! Engaging me to be married off to one of Serenity's guardians! And it's Princess Michelle of Neptune to boot!" Kanaeda shouted as he faced the queen in the study.
Serenity's frown grew as she glanced down at the paper to read for a few moments, before her head snapped back up to glare at her son. "Kanaeda. You don't have a choice in the matter. The betrothal is legal and binding."
Kanaeda's features darkened even more at his mother's words. "Like hell I don't, *mother*," he stated, as his eyes made contact with Queen Serenity's and held it. "I've already made my choice in who my future bride will be, before I found out about this farce of a betrothal from Princess Michelle herself just ten minutes ago, and I can tell you that she's not as happy about it as I am." he said as he glared at Queen Serenity. "As the heir to the throne, I have every right to choose my own--" he began only to be cut off but Luna.
"Your highness!" Luna exclaimed as her eyes moved over the paper, reading it quickly as she does so before turning her attention back to the fuming Moon/Sun Prince. "The engagement can not be broken off. It was made back when you were still 5 years old and Princess Michelle was only 4."
"It was decided then that an alliance between princess of Neptune and the Prince of the Moon will be beneficial to keep the peace between the planets." Serenity proclaimed, as she stared down at her son, not backing down an inch. "Whether you like it or not, you shall be joined in marriage with Princess Michelle when Princess Michelle reaches the marrying age of 18, in three months.
"If you want this alliance so much then let Serena honor it, by marrying Prince Seifer. He'd love for the chance to marry her." Kanaeda countered back. "It would work both ways that way, and leaves me in the clear."
"The betrothal was made then to secure peace and harmony between our two kingdoms." Queen Serenity said as calmly as she could, but she could also feel her own anger slowly begin to rise at the disrespect her son was showing her. "As the heir to both the sun and the moon kingdoms, it is your duty to marry where you are told." She said, stopping to take a deep breath, before continuing. "Besides, as you already know, Serenity is already betrothed to marry Prince Endymion of Earth when she comes of age, so the engagement can't be switched to her."
"Which was a love match between the two of them, because their soul mates. I'm not in love with the princess of Neptune. Because of the betrothal, I know that it's my duty to marry her. *But…*, it's obvious from her relationship with Princess Amara of Uranus on what Princess Michelle's preferences are, so I insist on declining on any future nuptials with that woman! I'd be laughed out of my own court if I married her." He stated heatedly, "I refuse to have anything to do with this arrangement." Kanaeda snarled, as he glared at all of them. "I already have my chosen bride all picked out, and I have no plans to give her up just to appease this contract you made years ago. As the heir to the both the throne of the moon and sun kingdoms, it is my right."
Tiamat sat perched on Kanaeda's shoulder, her favorite roosting spot whenever she was with the prince, as she lets out a puff of smoke in Luna's direction just as the moon cat was about to open her mouth to intervene once more. The smoke hits the moon cat squarely in the face, sending Luna into a loud coughing fit. "*You* stay out of this, Luna," Tiamat said, as she shot a withering look at the black moon cat, before giving Artemis the same look. "That goes for you too, Artemis. This is between Kane- chan and his mother."
Both mother and son faced each other, as neither one was willing to back down an inch. "Luna, Artemis, Tiamat." Queen Serenity called.
"Yes your highness?" the three animal guardians answered simultaneously as they all stood at attention.
"Will you leave us for a few moments? I would like to discuss this matter over with my son in private if you don't mind."
"But Queen Serenity." Luna started to protest.
"Now!" Queen Serenity shouted.
Without another word all three animals hurried out of the room. The moment they were through the doors, the palace guards that had been guarding the outside doors closed it behind them. Almost instantly after they had left the room, they could all hear the sound of the Moon queen and prince's raised voices as they argued over the matter at hand.
* * *
Luna jerked upright in bed, with a startled yelp, with enough force to almost cause her to fall off the bed if she hadn't dug her claws in the sheets to regain her footing. Padding back to her spot on the bed.
'The prince was betrothed to marry Michelle back in the Silver Millennium?!' Luna thought incredulously to herself as she shook her head. 'Alex would go ballistic if she finds out about the betrothal.' Glancing around at her surroundings, she soon notes that she was once more back in the Serena's bedroom, Luna shook her head as the memory played back to her in her mind as she remembered the dream from last night. "Out of all the dreams I could have had of Prince Kanaeda why did it have to be that one?"
'Ever since that Ranma Saotome came here, things have gone crazy since then. First the nightmares, Serena had, which I'm starting to suspect may be memories instead. Now I'm having them too.' As she glance down once more at her young charge, making sure that her outburst hadn't woken her, only to find Serena still sound asleep.
Letting out a sigh of relief that she hadn't woken up Serena, Luna decided first thing after school tomorrow, she was going to call a scout meeting, and have Rei do a fire reading so they could get down to understanding more about this new threat, and what the dreams that both she and Serena had been having meant, as a pained thought filled her.
'Do these dreams this mean that Kanaeda is coming back? Or is Ranma' as she let out a low groan as she laid back down on the bed with her paws resting on top of her head.
* * *
Meanwhile, back at the Lunar Star restaurant, the amazons were busy closing up shop when a commotion in the kitchen caught their attention, followed by a bright glow that filled up the entire kitchen and spread into the dining area, in an assortment of different colors, followed by howls and roars of some sort of animal.
Ginseng was the first to get up from her seat and hurried towards the kitchen as fast as she could to find out what was going on, with Rinse and Lime right behind her. As the trio entered the kitchen they had to cover their eyes with their arms in order to block out the blinding glow that radiated throughout the kitchen, followed, as the glow began to dim, they soon realized that it was coming from the dragon statue.
"Ginseng! What's going on?!" Lime shouted over the noise that was. At that moment, she was really glad that they had already closed up the restaurant for the night, or else. "Why's the statue doing that for?!"
"I don't know Lime. As far as our family history involving this statue goes," Ginseng said as she lowered her arm, and purposely made her way towards the holding case, as she pulled out a set of keys. "something like this has never happened before now."
As the three amazons made their way towards the case, they the shape inside seemed to almost be moving, but put it off as an illusion caused by the glow that was coming from within. Just then, just as they reach it, the case started to crack in everywhere.
"Wait," Ginseng stopped in midstride, holding up a warning hand towards the others.
Rinse glanced over his sisters shoulder. "What's going on, Auntie?" he asked as he tried to look past the two women. "What's that sound?"
Before either lady's could say anything, the glow from the case suddenly grew more brighter than it had been before, followed by the sound of cracking glass.
Ginseng's eyes widen in horror as she finally realized what was about to happen, as the sound of cracking glass grew louder with each second. "Everyone get down!!!" she shouted, after realizing immediately what was about to happen, she spun around on her heal, and grabbed the two teens hands and pulled them down to the floor with her, when it looked like they were moving too slowly.
No sooner than the three bodies hit the ground, the glass case suddenly exploded, sending broken glass scattering around the room, raining down on the huddled forms of the three amazons.
When the downpour of falling glance finally stopped, the trio slowly sat up, to glance around, noticing that the room was once more bathed in different colors that lit up the entire room. As they looked around for the source of the light, they finally see it. Hovering in the air a few feet above them were eight crystals cut in different shapes and colors.
As they watched, the crystals started swirling around in the air, spinning around a few times, before suddenly stopping then shooting out of the restaurant kitchen windows, shattering the glass as they go. Both Rinse and Lime hurry to their feet at the same time and rush to the window, ignoring the broken glass as they do so, as they watch crystals disappear into the darkening sky, all of them heading in different directions. The ones that could still be seen soon were no more colored specks in the sky, before they faded from view.
"Just what the hell was that?!" Lime exclaimed as she looked around at the mess that the explosion and light show had created. "Those looked like the crystals that were covering the dragon statue."
"Looks like the time is coming." Ginseng said as she bent over to pick up one of the knocked over chairs, and sat down, as a faint laugh escaped her lips. "I never thought that I'd live to see one of people's legends come true."
"Lime! Auntie!" Rinse's voice rang out, sounding panicky. As the two women glanced around the ruined kitchen in search of the younger boy, before spotting him near the destroyed display case. His left hand was half in - half out of the case, as he carefully lifted something out that was inside. From where the two women stood, whatever it was hung limply in his hands as he cradled it carefully in his palms.
"Rinse! You know better than to stick your hand into areas that have sharp objects sticking out of them! You could have cut your self badly when you put your hands in there." Lime admonished as she strode purposely over, a frown on her features.
"That doesn't matter, sis." Rinse snapped as he stared up at his sister, as he thrust his hands towards her. "Help it.
"Rinse what is it! Help what?" Lime demanded impatiently as she got ready to shove his hands away in disgust as she realized that he was still holding whatever it was that he had picked up from the case. Just as her hands came in contact with whatever it was, she felt it move, followed by a low groan of pain.
"What the?" Lime muttered as she moved past Rinse and headed towards the nearest light switch. Flicking the light switch up to find them coming on, she had a moment to be amazed that the lights were still working even after everything that had happened, before back around to see what it was that Rinse had been trying to show her, and sees that Ginseng was now staring at the object in the boys hands also with startled look in her eyes, as she reached a tentative hand out to take it from Rinse.
"Amazing. I can't believe it." Ginseng whispered as she stared intently at what she held.
"What's amazing?! What is that thing and why did it…" Lime demanded as she moved up to Ginsengs side, as her voice trailed off as she finally got a good look at what it was that had everyone's attention.
Cradled in both of Ginseng's hands was what looked to be a creature that was a combination of a lizard and and snake, it silver scales somewhat dulled from neglect, a golden star shone brightly on its forehead, it's tail moving alongside Ginseng's hand as it stared up at them with tired amethyst colored eyes.
Lime let out a sharp gasp as she recognized the creature, having seen it more than once growing up back in the village, and took one look at the dragon then back towards the case only to find out that it was indeed empty, before turning back to the dragon once more, as she whispered one word.
It's the return of Tiamat. A little side tracking from the storyline. What's been going on back in Nerima since Ranma left? How have the rest of Ranma's ex-fiancé's and rivals taking the news of his departure and annulment of all the engagements? And just where did the rest of those crystals go, or for that matter, *who* did they go to?