A Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon / Ranma ½ crossover story
by Jeffrey Vasquez
Disclaimer: Based on the series Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon. All characters copyrighted by Naoko Takeuchi, Toei Animation, and Kodansha. The characters of Ranma ½ are the express property of the most benevolent queen of comedy, her Highness, the revered Rumiko Takahashi and Shogakukan. I am in no way claiming or even pretending to own these characters. The rest belong to me.
Foreword: This is an alternate time line for Ranma ½, wherein Soun Tendo and Ukyou Kuonji accompanied the group to Jusendo. They all witness Ranma's battle with Saffron, along with the events that followed. The story has undergone quite a few changes since I first wrote it, so be sure to read it from the beginning. Enjoy!
There are few people awake at three in the morning. It is considered a magical time, when the mind and spirit drift in another world. This is the Fourth World, separate, and very real. It is the Ring of Eternity, dancing in an endless waltz, renewing the lives of every living creature. It is said that this is the afterlife of legends; the place where great beings wait to be reborn. It is also said that this is where men truly commune with the Divine. Whether this is true or not is unimportant. What is important is the nature of this hidden world.
The Fourth World, like all worlds, is a study in balances. It is an infinite plane that stretches outward from a definite center, and divided into three distinct kingdoms: Afardis, the Kingdom of Dawn; Wyiel, the Kingdom of Twilight; and Ghol, the Kingdom of Night.
Afardis dances in eternal summer, while Ghol is forever blanketed in a shroud of darkness. Wyiel lays sandwiched between the two, forever acting as the buffer between light and dark. Pleasure and pain coexist here, feeding off of the desires of men like parasites, while leaving their hosts empty… empty and addicted to their unique gifts. It is here in Wyiel that most dreamers go to dream.
If they are lucky.
Ranma clutched the doll that held Akane's soul to his chest with one hand while the other held the Gekkaja. The crescent bladed staff cooled him against the fierce onslaught of Saffron's heat as he fell earthward.
Not again. Please.
**She'll never make it if I wait for us to land,** he thought direly.
**When she closes her eyes, it'll be too late!** All he needed was to restore the moisture to her body, and the Dragon Tap was just beneath him. The cold water would rehydrate her and she'd be okay. He gathered his strength and tossed the Gekkaja like a spear, with pinpoint accuracy, into the head of the tap. It would cool the water as it flowed from the mouth of the ornamental dragon.
Unfortunately, he wasn't falling fast enough to reach the water in time, and he knew it.
Please. No more.
**The air's still filled with Saffron's heat. If I bring down my Cold Fist here, I can call the water….** He looked at the small doll in his hands with concern. **Until then, don't die, Akane!**
He focused his spirit and allowed himself to call forth the calm he needed to perform the maneuver. His body temperature dropped considerably cooling the humid air around him. His fist started glowing as the air whipped his pigtail in a frenzy behind his head.
"HISSHOU NO ICHIGEKI!" (A Strike for Life!) he cried out defiantly to the Fates, and his fist glowed brighter still.
For whose life?
He had one shot at this; he had to make it count. The punch flew from him with all the strength that he could spare.
**Dragon Look to the Heavens!** His prayer was equal parts command and plea as the energy that he had built shot forth from his arm down towards the Dragon Tap.
"HIRYU GYOTEN HAAAAAAA!" (Flying Dragon Staring up at Heaven Strike)
The concentrated cyclone shot forth like the finger of God, down into the Dragon Tap, tearing it apart as if it were made of paper. The whirlwind collected the pieces, spinning them above the shattered neck of the tap.
**Please work! PLEASE!** his heart cried out urgently as the miniature tornado slammed the severed head of the giant faucet down on top of the broken neck. Water fountained upward, in an angry release, from the mouth of the Dragon toward Ranma.
"DID IT!" he cried triumphantly as cold water washed over him. He could feel his mass shift slightly. His center of gravity changed and the world seemed a little larger through his eyes.
**Akane, it's the water. Please come back to me, please!!** The magic water from the tap drenched the tiny doll, which seemed to suck it up thirstily and expand impossibly.
She won't come back… never come back….
Ranma held Akane's now normal, and very naked body; his concern for modesty was thrown to the wind as he looked for any signs of life. His heart plummeted as he found nothing.
No pulse. No breath.
Empty… like me.
He landed on the ground lightly, cradling Akane's still form in his arms. His heart still pounded like a jackhammer, trying to burst free from his chest. But aside from that, the rest of his body was numb.
Somehow, he managed to find a kettle and heated it from a pool of scalding water left over from the Phoenix Tap. The water washed over him, allowing the world to return to its normal proportions. He settled down near a pool of cool water and slipped his shirt around Akane's shoulders to preserve what little dignity that he could on her behalf.
She deserved more… so much more.
He had taken too long. Saffron had just been too tough. If only she had stayed out of the fight! If she would have, just once, listened to him and not interfered! But if she hadn't interfered, he would have been dead. Ranma raised his fist and hit himself, leaving a nasty bruise on his cheek.
"Sorry, that's not what I meant to say…." His voice was thick with the pain of his broken heart. "I really wanted to say 'Thank you'…."
Too late, fool… forever too late.
The only sound was the quiet splashing of the water nearby. No one intruded; no one dared.
"I'm sorry, Akane…." He faltered. His eyes became misty with tears. "It's because… I'm awkward…." His breath escaped his lungs in a ragged sigh as he brushed the hair behind her ear with a soft, slow motion. "I could never tell you how I really felt, so I just kept making you mad at me and hurting you…." A sudden sense of desperation entered his soul. He needed her. She was the only one that he truly loved, and he had never had the courage to tell her.
"…wake up, Akane…."
She will never wake again! Never again!
A cool breeze tousled his hair.
"There's something that I want to say…."
"Akane… Can't you hear me?" The tears began to fall. He couldn't hold them back; if he tried he knew that he would break beneath the pressure.
How could she? You never taught her to hear the words of your heart!
The small wet diamonds fell on her beautifully pale face and slid down the contours of her cheek.
"Please let me tell you that I love you, Akane!" His appeal was met by silence and his anguished, helpless tears pooled around her eyes as he held her close.
Love too little, love too late! She's lost to you! Lost like you! Ha-ha-ha!
"AKANE!" The torment of his loss shot to the heavens, and the pooled tears rolled down her cheeks; as if she too wept at the cruelty of life. Their love, having never been acknowledged, would never find fruition. The echoes of his grief bounced throughout the mountain vale, adding a thousand voices to his one. A chorus of Ranmas mourned while he sat immobile, with his love clutched to his chest in a deathgrip. Shock settled over him, and after an unknown period of time, depression. All his pain, all of his loss, spiraled into himself. He gathered it all to him like a shepherd would his flock, and nurtured it.
Heavenly fire. Cleanse the earth, burn the blackness, purify this empty soul.
Nothing mattered anymore. She was gone and wasn't coming back. So what was there left to live for? Nothing.
No more silent dreams. No more fun. No more secret smiles.
No more Akane.
Nothing. Nothing. Nothing… let me die….
This was a sacred place, a place of change; a place of Power. A power that sung out to Ranma to be used. He could see the bloodlines that made up the Earth's ki. They were great, spiritual veins that intersected at various points all around him.
**Use us,** they seemed to whisper. **Use us.**
Yes. Call the flame. Call the lightning. Command the Earth to swallow me whole!
And so Ranma did. He opened himself fully to them and absorbed their might, making it his own. He was never sure of how he did what he did, but he found himself drawing in the rivers of power until it hurt.
There was a flash of white and then pain.
All that Ranma could do was scream… scream with all the voices of the Earth.
"…ake up, Ranma. Come on, it's only a dream." Nabiki's soft voice dragged Ranma from the depths of his pain; coercing him to rejoin the land of the living.
"Shhh. It's okay now, just let it go." She clutched his shaking body close, sharing her warmth with him and trying to make him feel safe again. She smelled of strawberries and herbs, and her satiny hair tickled his neck.
"It's okay now. Just a dream. Let it go." She sounded exhausted, and her body had obviously shifted into automatic. Just like it did every night that he dreamed. She was hunched over him, pillowing his head in her lap and against her breasts. Her silk pajamas were warm and smooth, offering comfort amidst the ebbing pain.
In another time and place he knew that he could have loved her. But after Akane… the whole thought of love tasted like cold ashes.
"Let it go, Ranma. It's just a dream… just a dreeeeam…." She yawned, dragging out the word. He wished that it had been "just a dream"; dreams were pleasant… dreams didn't hurt.
He wasn't sure how long they remained like that; time had little meaning after returning from that place. All that he did know was that Nabiki had stopped rocking him, and from the rhythmic rise and fall of her chest it seemed she had entered the world of dreams herself.
Ranma prayed that hers were at least pleasant.
He allowed her the moment, basking in her warmth for as long as humanly possible. Six months ago, this show of weakness would never have happened. But a lot had changed since then… hadn't it?
The emptiness that had entered him so quickly lingered. Many had tried to fill the void that Akane had left behind: Kodachi, Shampoo, Ukyou. Each had done their best to make him forget the great, gaping wound in his soul. But in the end, their greed poisoned their love and their attempts to fill the void that Akane had left. Shampoo hadn't made it out of China. Ukyou lasted a full three months after they had returned… and Kodachi….
Kodachi, ever efficient and ignorantly bold, had crossed the point of no return in that first weekend. One small comment about Akane had unlocked Ranma's rage, and the ensuing tempest had left half of Nerima in disrepair. Ranma, even in his fury, could not bring himself to hurt the girl. In the end, he didn't need to; the amount of property damage that he had left in his wake spoke for him.
Ranma sighed and carefully slipped out of Nabiki's embrace. With great care and sensitivity, he eased her down so that she could be more comfortable. He slid out from underneath his covers, and with a deft twist of his wrist covered Nabiki. He couldn't help but reflect as he looked down at her, she was the source of so much mystery… and strength. Ranma had slammed so many doors and burned too many bridges since coming back. No one at school bothered him anymore, with the exception of Nabiki.
She had become his sole anchor with reality, and not just for Ranma. She was carrying everyone, like Kasumi had after their mother's death. It was strange, yet somehow fitting. Akane was gone; Kasumi in her loss had found a life with Tofu that was slowly maturing, and Soun was lost in his grief. Nabiki had passionately taken upon herself the mantle of caregiver, and she ran the house with a militant flare that let no one wallow in their pain for very long.
Genma was actually working again, to Ranma's amazement, and Soun had found a measure of peace in teaching again. That only left Ranma unaccounted for, and Nabiki watched him like a hawk. It was irritating, demeaning, awkward, and in moments like these… truly comforting.
He sighed again, and moved over to the window. The darkness was empty; just like his soul. He couldn't continue on like this; he couldn't keep doing this to Nabiki. The way things were going now, he might start feeling something for her… in spite of how he felt about love. He knew that she felt something for him already; and damn him for a fool, Ranma couldn't feel anything back. He would eventually cave in out of guilt. He would try to build something with her, and in the end it would poison whatever was budding in Nabiki's heart. Best to leave well enough alone, before he destroyed anyone else's life.
She deserved better.
They all did.
With great care, Ranma lifted Nabiki into his arms and returned her to her room, then set about packing his things. He had entered their lives like a tsunami; he hoped to leave like a gentle breeze.
Bayankhala Province, China
A storm raged against the night. Midnight black clouds flew against the ebony sky. Somewhere north by north west of the Musk Dynasty, an ancient prison of sorts lay hidden from the prying eyes of the world. Unlike most prisons, this bastille had no walls, no chains, nor any of the other accouterments that one would normally associate with incarceration.
It resembled a fine pleasure garden filled with beautiful metal sculptures that glistened beneath the rain and flashed in the lightning. The motif was a blend of wild tranquility as nature sought to usurp the order that had been imposed on it. It might have looked like a garden, but as it has often been said, "Walls do not a prison make".
Somewhere, deep within the open prison, a loud noise resounded above the thunder in the area. The tortured screaming of metal being torn echoed into the night. The heavens opened their vaults and threw down torrential rains and flights of sky fire, raging against the evil that was being unleashed upon the Earth once more.
Rei Hino knelt before the Great Fire, searching her soul. The flames of her heart danced in a myriad of colors, mesmerizing her. This was her favorite part of the fire reading; a moment of peaceful beauty that only she could experience. The flames waltzed sinuously throughout her mind, liberating her spirit and cleansing her mind in preparation for the vision that was to come.
The fire inside her began to take shape; the vision had begun. At first it was a column that had vaguely human qualities. The traits slowly coalesced into the form of a young man. White flames danced around his head, mimicking a crown of some sort. His body flowed beautifully through a kata that captivated Rei. His movements were confident and strong. He stumbled and the flames flared brightly.
Again the fire formed into the vague shape of a man, only this time much larger than before. He wore no shirt; instead flames created what looked like a series of tattoos that covered his body. His movements weren't as graceful as his predecessor — in fact, she found them to be violent and vulgar. The flames slowly begin to change color, darkening from a deep red to a pitch black.
The shrine maiden's fascination turned to horror as the man grabbed her soul. His spiritual grip was painful, searing her soul. His voice, when he spoke, was brutal and filled with hate. "Tell her, Mars. Tell Serenity that Ahbrim Ur has returned, and that he is coming for her."
He squeezed her spirit again, painfully, before letting go and dissipating. The flames died out in her mind, leaving an exhausted and very frightened Rei Hino lying before her Great Fire.
The moment that she woke this morning, she had known that something was out of balance. The spirit of the house seemed to be skewed, or somehow depleted; but Nabiki couldn't put a finger on the cause.
Combine this with the fact that Kasumi was visiting Tofu's family over the weekend, and you had the recipe for a grumpy Sunday. The idea that she would have to cook for everyone didn't make things any better. She was a surprisingly good cook, as the family had discovered soon after Kasumi's breakdown. She could cook, but that didn't mean she enjoyed it. Not really… Well, maybe a little. She entertained a little fantasy involving Ranma and breakfast in bed.
A small grin split her face as she set to work.
It was time that he stopped brooding, and if she played her cards just right, things just might start looking up for everyone. Time seemed to fly as Nabiki performed her magic. Kasumi was right; no matter how corny it sounded, love did make all the difference in the world. She climbed the stairs to Ranma's room and slowly opened the door. The tray slipped from her fingertips and clattered to the floor, quite forgotten. She had discovered the source of the imbalance within the house….
Ranma and all of his meager belongings were gone.
He had cleaned the room to a pristine polish, and in the middle of the floor lay a note. Nabiki slowly entered, crossing the threshold tenuously. There was no reason for her heart to be lodged in her throat like this. It was just a note, right? Nothing to be concerned about… really. He hadn't tried anything stupid for three whole months… surely he hadn't regressed.
Her trembling fingers reached out and picked up the white envelope, and with careful precision, opened the letter. She had to read the note three times in order to decipher Ranma's handwriting, but by the end she could feel her heart run cold.
The train pulled away from Nerima's station with a jolt, and a sense of finality that almost hurt. He tried to convince himself that it didn't matter. He'd been uprooted so many times in the past that leaving like this should have been pretty straightforward; pack the bags, bury the pain of leaving, move on. He had lost too much for this to be an easy separation, and like so many times before he had left a part of himself behind. Unfortunately, he knew that once gone, there was no way that he would ever reclaim what he had lost.
The Tendos had become an integral piece of his foundation — a cornerstone, if you will — and no matter how hard he tried lying to himself, he couldn't help but mourn for them. He could not escape his failure: the home had become a constant reminder of Akane. A bit of new paint or a large section of patchwork would dredge up a hundred different stories, and every time he passed her room, his heart would burn with expectation.
He couldn't do it anymore. He was fighting an opponent that had no form or weaknesses, and Ranma knew that there was no way to defeat such an enemy.
The young martial artist lifted his head to look around the cabin, noting how empty he felt despite the large crowd. Men and women were packed around him, pressing against every part of him… yet they weren't touching him at all.
He noted their faces; each carefully guarded and impassive. One salaryman was pressed intimately against a young housewife, but they seemed to ignore each other. An elderly woman was forced to stare at an obese man's behind, and for all intents and purposes she could have been reading a newspaper. There was this amazing sense of detachment that each person had, despite the inconveniences they were experiencing. Ranma wished with all of his heart that he could somehow detach himself from the pain.
His gaze scanned the rest of the crowd, trying to capture their dullness, when a distressed face jumped out at him. The young girl had to have been all of thirteen, and her dark, shoulder length hair seemed to glow in the fluorescent lights. The thing that struck him about her was the way that her face was flushed, and how her violet eyes darted from one person to the next. Her embarrassment and shame made it quite clear that someone was taking advantage of the confined space. He search quickly, taking note of the most likely targets; two men and a young man.
A familiar rage welled in Ranma's heart, reminding him that he had not lost everything. He still had the Art, and the responsibility to protect. He may have failed Akane, but he refused to fail anyone else. He watched the trio, until the businessman's body language gave him away: a tightening of the neck muscles that coincided with a groping hand.
With uncanny precision he popped one of the wooden pegs from his shirt and transferred it to the opposing hand. He took careful aim, waiting until the train swayed slightly before launching the missile. He smiled grimly as the projectile connected — violently connected — with the back of the pervert's head with a meaty crack. Ranma's smile widened as the man's body seemed to wilt into unconsciousness.
Several people grumbled as the man leaned into them, causing the martial artist to chuckle. The girl caught the sound and looked in Ranma's direction; the relief and gratitude in her eyes stirred something in his heart. Ranma nodded to her and then closed his eyes.
Akane would have been proud.
Hotaru wasn't sure how the handsome young man had done it, but the pervert was out cold. By the time the train reached the Juuban terminal, someone had mercifully called the paramedics, who were on hand to greet the train. Hotaru grimaced as the man was pushed against her, and made it a point to kick the pervert's shins as hard as she could before they carried him off the train.
Mamoru Chiba was a man of many talents: intelligent, patient, filled with longsuffering, and on his best days he had the ability to inspire hope in others. Unfortunately today was not one of his best days.
"Usako, please. Can we celebrate my return tomorrow?"
Sixteen hours on a plane, followed by another hour standing in lines at the airport, coupled with forty-five grueling minutes of late trains, rush hour crowds on said trains… it was enough to wear anyone thin.
"I'm tired and I want to go home, take a nice long shower, and then go to bed." The young, blonde haired girl stood before him, unmasked disappointment in her eyes.
"If that's what you want, Mamo-chan."
The eyes! Oh! The eyes!
He had to give her credit; she knew all the right buttons to push. He set his bag down and took her hand in his. "I'll tell you what, why don't we stop and get some ice cream on the way home, would that be all right?" She squealed happily, reaching a note that set every nerve on edge, and buried him in a hug that made everything perfect. He had to smile. There was nothing else to do; he couldn't move, breath, or see… so he smiled. When she released him, and he didn't immediately start to move right away, Usagi began tugging on him to hurry.
Mamoru groaned and allowed himself to be pulled along, forgetting that he had put his bag down behind Usagi.
The results were predictable.
Ranma disembarked the train and glared at the pervert that had just come to on the paramedics' gurney. The man moaned, and rubbed his head. Ranma snorted silently, and moved on.
He took three steps before a young woman with blonde hair fell into him. He stumbled backwards as she flailed, trying to arrest their staggering motion. He felt his back hit something solid and mobile, before he finally came to rest on his rump. The young woman looked up at him and grinned.
"Are you okay?" they asked at the same time.
There was a moment of extreme déjà-vu for the pair. They heard a person squeal, and several colorful words were yelled, followed by a crash. A female voice screamed somewhere behind Ranma and to the right, calling for someone to "look out". The martial artist cursed and stood, smoothly lifting Usagi up and setting her on her feet in one quick motion.
Usagi and Mamoru watched in awe as the young man seemed to blur, racing against the clock. The gurney, which held the unfortunate pervert from the train, had rocketed toward a part of the platform that was under construction. Several minor disasters fell into place like dominoes, causing the gathered crowd to gap in wonder as the gurney hit a set of scaffolding, which tumbled into a light post, which hit an unstable pillar that buckled with the blow, in turn causing the wooden supports to give way. Had that been the end of it, the young woman with short black hair needn't have worried.
Unfortunately, the supports hit another set of scaffolding, which in turn dislodged another set of supports that hit (with uncanny precision) the last steel pillar. Normally, such things are quite sturdy, but as any practitioner of the Art can tell you (or any physicists worth their salt, for that matter), everything has its breaking point.
The poor steel pillar never had a chance as several hundred pounds of metal and wood fell upon it. To those watching, the young woman was certain to be buried by the wave of debris. Then again, none of the crowd knew Ranma Saotome.
Ami Mizuno read as she waited patiently for her mother to disembark from the train. She felt it to fortuitous that Mamoru had been arriving on the same flight from Italy; it made it easier to keep Usagi out of trouble, and it gave her a traveling companion. All in all, a perfect situation… she liked it when things fit together nicely.
Ami smiled thoughtfully as she turned the page; she hadn't realized how captivating Descartes would be. His thoughts and base in Modernity were intriguing, but there was something essential that she felt that he lacked. The man ultimately fought for the Utopian ideal, but she couldn't quite see the fault in his philosophy. Then again, half the fun was trying to find the answer to the problem.
It would come to her eventually.
It always did.
Small warm breezes rustled her school dress and lightly tossed her hair around in her face. She absently pulled the offending lock back over her ear. Ami was so caught up in her reading that she didn't hear the commotion, or see the red blur, until it was too late.
Something hit her roughly, taking her feet out from underneath her. There was an eerie sense of weightlessness, and she felt her body moving sideways. A loud shriek of tortured metal buckling beneath a great weight echoed in her ears, followed closely by a tremendous crash and a cloud of dust that would have had her coughing — had she been able to breathe properly.
Instinct over took her, and Ami clutched the first thing that she found. It felt smooth, like silk, but rock hard underneath. She tried to open her eyes, but felt something pinning her head down. The air was driven from her lungs as she impacted something several times.
It too was soft, yet solid… not to mention warm.
A moment of panic washed over her, and then everything stopped. The sounds of breaking things faded, and the dust cloud settled. Ami turned her head slowly to take stock of her situation. The first thing she noticed was that her body was laid out horizontally, but she wasn't on the ground. Her mind quickly calculated the distance between terra firma and her suspended body, and came back with approximately twelve to fifteen inches. She wasn't terribly sure, due to the rhythmic rise and fall of whatever she was laying on.
The rhythmic beating of her heart skipped when she noted that a second heart beat seemed to have suddenly joined hers. That's when she realized that there was an arm supporting her back, with a hand firmly clutching her left shoulder. The pressure on her head was… someone's… hand…?
She lifted her head slowly and found herself swallowed by the most beautiful and haunting steel-gray eyes that she had ever seen. They reminded her of storm clouds just before it rained.
Ranma breathed a sigh of relief. It wouldn't have been an issue to pull the girl out from under the falling lamppost, but when the stupid pillar started to crash into the scaffolding around the overhang, things definitely got tricky. Well, she was safe now, and the only casualty was his favorite shirt. The back had to have been completely shredded from the feel of it.
Now all he had to do was get her to get off of him without giving her the wrong idea; or touching anything that he shouldn't. From the way that her heart was beating, he was sure that she was in shock; hopefully that would make things easier. All he had to do was take it slow, and if he was lucky she wouldn't even know what happened. Of course, Ranma should have known better.
His luck had never been that good.
He opened his eyes slowly and simply stared, all the color draining from his face.
Ami watched her rescuer's face drain of color. She watched as various emotions played out on his face: shock, disbelief, denial, pain…. She could feel the depth of his ache as it registered in those striking eyes of his. Buried beneath the pain was such an intense sentiment, a love so profound that Ami felt herself undeniably being consumed.
She couldn't escape the ardent passion, and something inside her admitted that she didn't really want to. All thoughts of exams and studying went flying right out the window as she met those wonderfully blue eyes. Well, not completely, but they sure didn't seem as important as they had a few moments ago….
Ami had read about the "Eternal Moment", but had never really understood the concept… until now. Time seemed to stop, and the world fell away. No sound entered her ears except for his breathing and her own pounding heartbeat. She couldn't register any smells — save for the bittersweet scent of his sweat mixed with a fabric softener. All that she could feel was the effortless strength with which he cradled her, and the gentle hands that had protected her from the harsh bite of the pavement.
Her hands absently played with the delicate silk of his shirt, and she felt his corded muscles shift slightly. A lump formed in her throat, impeding any rational requests to be moved. Not that she was currently coherent enough to make such an entreaty; and even if she had been lucid, who in their right mind would be stupid enough to ruin such a wonderful moment?
A smile, tentative and hopeful, brightened his face like the dawn after a long and dreadful nightmare. Relief flooded his eyes, and his perfect lips opened to speak. It took him two or three attempts before an intelligible sound could be formed.
Hope beyond hope filled his voice. Ami blushed as the whispered words touched her. She shook her head slightly, biting her lip. She answered breathlessly the best she could, moving some annoying hair out of her eyes.
"A-Ami." The logic centers of her brain began pummeling the libido in the hopes of rescuing the situation. She was losing control, but at that moment she could not have cared less. She'd never felt this way before, not even with Ryo.
Her answer shattered the magic.
The young man's hope splintered and his beautiful smile vanished, slowly wiped away as if it had never been. His beautiful eyes clouded over, taking on an emptiness that tore at Ami's heart. There was a palpable sense of loss as the world came to life around them. Much to Ami's regret, the young man slowly disengaged himself from her, carefully helping Ami to her feet.
He knelt before her and began picking up her scattered belongings.
"Sorry about that." His cold, distant voice broke through her daze, and she bent down to help him.
"No harm done," she said quietly, with more than a little disappointment. Her heart continued to pound in her chest, and she felt oddly lightheaded; most likely from being tackled, she told herself. She shook her head and took stock of the pile of scrap that now occupied the area in which she had stood. Her eyes bulged at the twisted aluminum and steel. "I should be thanking you."
Out of the corner of her eye she noticed his smile come back for an instant, only to be beaten down again by an overwhelming sadness. She winced internally as she collected her book. That had sounded so… forward. She hoped he wouldn't get any ideas… Well, maybe not too many.
They stood in perfect unison, and stared at each other for a moment longer before the boy handed her things over. She collected them and bowed to him shyly.
"You're welcome." He bowed politely, which Ami returned. A false cheerfulness entered his eyes and voice, all for her sake she knew. "Uh. Um. Look you ain't hurt or nothin' are you?" His rough speech was endearing, and the way his hand scratched the back of his head made him look even cuter.
"No. I'm fine. Thank you." She bowed again to Ranma. He smiled and sighed.
"That's good ta know." He began scanning the crowd. "Are you meeting someone?" he asked, moving into safer waters.
Ami nodded and straightened her skirt. "My mother."
Ranma nodded and continued to scan the crowd, when Ami noticed the state of his shirt and back. "Oh my!" She quickly noted that he had a rather large bruise and a large section of skin that had been chewed raw by the pavement. The blood was minimal, but she was sure that it hurt. The boy made no show of it, though. "You're hurt!"
He shrugged and looked at her disarmingly, like a rogue from one of Minako's pirate movies. His rakish smirk set off a war within her. Her libido began to debate furiously with the stuffy sticks in the mud, saying that it was okay. The Logic centers countered with accusations of perversion, saying that the whole situation was highly improper. The Libido made to offer a rebuttal. Both conversations were stymied by the sound of a group of familiar voices moving towards her.
She smiled tiredly at the faces of Usagi, Mamoru, her mother and… Hotaru? She turned to thank the young man again, but he was gone.
To be continued.
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