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A Revolutionary Girl Utena / Ranma ½ crossover story
by Ukyou Kuonji


Chapter 2


"What's the matter, Utena-sama?" Wakaba was a little concerned. Sure, her bento wasn't the most artistic or tastiest in class, but as far as she was concerned, it was pretty damn good. Utena-sama should be pleased to accept it. But no, she had to keep staring off into space like this. You'd think something was wrong.

For her part, Utena barely noticed her friend's question; indeed, until Wakaba petulantly dropped the bento box smack into her lap, Utena had forgotten she was there. Her attention brought to bear on her friend's presence, although her eyes and hands were now intent on picking up loose grains of rice, Utena sighed heavily. You'd think nothing had happened between the two of them, the way Wakaba was acting.

Utena turned to look at her friend. Concern was etched across Wakaba's face. Another sigh escaped the duelist's lips… it was clear that as far as Wakaba remembered, everything really was the way it always had been.

But she couldn't shake from her mind's eye the look of hatred she had seen on her friend not so long ago. Wakaba had wanted to hurt her… and kill Anthy. What had possessed her so?

Utena marveled, too, at how quickly her friend had been restored. She forced herself to smile at Wakaba. "I'm sorry… it's just that things have been getting a little out of control lately…" Well, at least that's true enough, she thought to herself.

p>Out of the corner of her eye, Utena could see Wakaba smile as she dug into the bento. "Oh, that's all right, I know how it is sometimes, between all those teachers who each think you've got no other classes than theirs, so you have all the time in the world to work on the homework they assign you, and then there's all those clubs - and of course, you've been having to do a lot with the student council lately…" Utena smiled and nodded as Wakaba's monologue dissolved into so much background noise. Somehow, she had forgotten it all… all the bitterness, all the hatred. She had to have… Wakaba was a rotten liar.

Utena munched her friend's rice pensively, and wondered when she would be able to forget… and where the next challenge would be coming from…


"Ch-uu, ch-uu."

It's not a pleasant experience to get a frog's tongue across your face. Even less so when you're no bigger than said frog, so that much more of your face gets pasted by it. Chuchu was busily rubbing his eyes and spitting out frog saliva, the most recent salvo in a long-running argument between the two creatures.

Thus, he missed the fun of watching his rival get smacked several meters away by the sudden opening of the rose garden door:

"OH-HOHOHOHO…*sniff* …Ohhhh…"

Kunou Kodachi had just found heaven.

Roses of nearly every size and description, sweet and potent of fragrance, stared back at her wherever she looked. She closed her eyes and drank in the scent, feeling herself go slightly weak in the knees from the comforting intoxication it produced in her. She opened them and gloried in the sight of vines wrapping up the latticework of the birdcage, of brilliant red, oranges, yellows, blues and so many variations thereupon. It was so much like Eden she was sorely tempted to tear off her seifuku and dance naked through the greenhouse. Here she was home, among her dearest friends…

"Oh… hello there."

And among strangers, as well. She'd completely forgotten about that. Caught by surprise in mid-exultation, Kodachi nearly collapsed in a heap. As it was, she was merely knocked severely off-balance, arms and legs flailing to prevent herself from toppling over. It wasn't until she had sufficiently righted herself that the voice spoke again. "I'm sorry about that… I hope I didn't surprise you too badly."

Kodachi suppressed a growl. That the girl had startled her was bad enough… that she should gloat over it was unforgivable.

But she wasn't about to let this girl know any of that. She turned around with a gentle, for her, laugh. "OHOHOHOHOHO… Surprise moi? Certainly not, my dear, I…" and she trailed off momentarily as she assessed her adversary. Nearly a head shorter than her, bespectacled, dark skinned… obviously a foreigner, most likely an Indian, judging from the bhindi on her forehead. And purple hair… what was it with foreigners? Did they all have purple hair?

The girl cocked her head slightly, as if waiting for Kodachi to continue. Her smile was broad enough to crinkle her eyes shut. "Yes?"

"I…" Oh, hell… time for a little honesty, maybe. "I was just so… impressed by this little place. Such beautiful roses you have here."

"Why, thank you." Apart from opening her eyes, the girl's face showed no change in expression.

"You know, I used to raise roses myself… perhaps I could help you out? Maybe we could share gardening tips…?"

"Oh, that's not necessary, sempai. I can manage."

"Oh, but I insist… after all, there are a few varieties that you don't have here…"

At this, the girl actually blinked, "Pardon?"

Kodachi continued to inspect the greenhouse. "Yes, you're missing a few things… granted, you have some varieties even I've never seen before." As if to illustrate her point, she bent over to caress a blue rose. No trick of the light, it really was blue like a clear June sky. Strange, indeed. Kodachi straightened up, and stared her opponent square in the eye. "But you haven't any black roses."

"Black… roses?" It was clearly a question, but whether it came from confusion or nervousness or simple inquiry could not be determined by either her tone or her expression.

Kodachi fought back a rising irritation. "Yes, black roses. I've bred a few in my time… surely we could plant some in here? Say… these, for instance?" And she suddenly produced a large bouquet of black roses: Limosines, La Negresses, Mourning Glories, as well as a handful of varieties that she had created herself and had yet to name; and presented them to the girl.

"Why, they're beautiful…"

*whoomf*

The girl blinked a number of times as the cloud of paralysis powder enveloped her. Her smile returned as the cloud began to dissipate. "My… they're dusty, too. You must have brought these all the way from Tokyo, too, ne? Perhaps we should rinse them off outside before planting them, shall we?"

It was Kodachi who stood paralyzed in shock as Anthy Himemiya walked out of the greenhouse, still clutching the roses.

Why didn't she…?


Unobserved in the darkness, several drops fell from nowhere. They landed on the rose in the eerily-lit tank, and slowly, several more petals began to open.


It wasn't quite the same as it used to be…

But Ranma couldn't put his finger on what was different.

*tup*tup*tup* "Hey, hurry up, Akane!"

*shh*… *shh*… *shh*… "A-are you kidding? whoa… whoa… ah-AH-ah… huu…" Arms whirling like a pair of out-of-control windmills, Akane righted herself on the fence. "Get BACK here, you baka! I can't go that fast!" Already, Ranma had spun on his toes and turned back, grinning.

And not a moment too soon, as Akane found herself overbalancing again. "oh, no… no… RANMAAA-oof!"

"Gotcha." If it wasn't for the fact that his grin was so smug, Akane might have been grateful. But then again…

"Uh, Ranma?"

"Yeah?"

"How saved am I if we're both about to fall?"

"Huh? Wha-wha-WAAAA!" *boooosh*

Suddenly, Akane was a lot less grateful. But at least Ranma was a lot less smug.


*squish*squish*squish*squish*

"Y'know, you really shouldn't try fencewalking until you're ready for it."

"I was ready! What I wasn't ready for was your running off like that!" The two girls didn't notice the trails left by the water trickling from the hem of their shirt and skirt, respectively.

"Hey, how else you gonna learn to walk by yourself?" Each stride bowed the stream in or out as the fabric swayed around their hips.

"Couldn't you at least spot me the first time? That's how they do it in gym class." The pattern trailing behind them formed a series of snakelike curves, like tendrils of a vine.

"This ain't gymnastics, Akane, this is martial arts. And if my old man never spotted me, why do I gotta do that for you?" And where other droplets splashed onto the ground from their hair or shoulders, the impact left the unmistakable mark of a rose.

"Well, because I'm… I'm…" Words failed Akane as she rejected the two obvious answers — 'I'm a girl', 'I'm your fiancee' — as undesirable. Her face hardened. "Fine, then." She turned aside from Ranma, and faced the fence once again. Ranma stopped short as she realized Akane was no longer walking alongside her.

"What are you…?" A stupid question, Ranma realized as soon as she released the words. Akane was gonna prove she could do it without help, just to show that she was every bit as good as he was… in spite of all the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Well, there was no stopping her, as she took a deep breath, and LEAPED onto the fence.

Akane wobbled back and forth on the fence, but this time she was silent. Finally, she righted herself, and began slowly edging her way forward. "Hmph."

"I still say if you're not ready…"

"Shut up, Ranma…"


It wasn't quite the same as it used to be…

"If the eggshell doesn't break, the chick will die without being born…"

Saionji being gone was one thing… hell, he was hardly ever there even when he was here.

"The chamber of freedom and the cage of freedom…"

But it just didn't sound right without Touga. That sonorous voice… it made it all seem like a pronouncement from On High. Now, it just sounded strident.

"…without showing the vastness of the skies, they cherish the chick."

And it didn't even make sense anymore.

"Break the world's cage!"

Oh, all right… all together now: "For the revolution of the world!"

It had gotten awfully perfunctory. And the fact that the letters from End of the World had dried up didn't help. There was really no reason for these meetings anymore, was there?

"So… now you know what it feels like, eh, Nanami? You can stop asking us about it."

Nanami gingerly placed a hand over her breastbone as a shrill whistle blew nearby. "I… I don't want to talk about it."

"No, I don't suppose you do." Juri stifled a wry smile. It was fun to tease Nanami, after all the time she had pestered herself and Miki about having swords drawn from their chests, just like the Rose Bride. It served her right.

But since Juri didn't want to talk about the experience, either, there was only so much teasing she could do. A soccer ball bounced and rolled to a stop at her feet, and without even bothering to look at it, she kicked in back in the direction from which it came.

"Well then, there's still the matter of someone trying to kill the Rose Bride." Miki changed the subject. His face took on a woundedly puzzled look. "But why on earth would anyone want to hurt Anthy Himemiya?" Another whistle, and this time, a black-sleeved hand slapped a yellow card on the table. None of the Student Council paid it any attention. "She's so sweet and innocent…"

Juri cut him off. "Miki, it has nothing to do with what Anthy is like. It's all a matter of who she is. My best guess? Someone else wants to be the Rose Bride, and for whatever reason, this is how they intend to succeed her."

"Well, here's hoping they don't succeed. I don't care much for Anthy, but outright murder…"

FWEET! The same dark hand placed a red card on the table. "Number?"

"Three."

"Right. Off you go."

"Hmph."

And suddenly, the balcony was empty.


*tp*tp*tp*pnk*shrrr*pnk*tup*

A spiral of ribbon wound and unwound around her as she somersaulted through the air, completing a warmup floor routine in an effort to burn off some nervous energy. She was vaguely aware of the gathering presence of her 'class,' but shut them out until she stuck her final landing, to no small applause.

She looked around at her awestruck classmates in wonder. She had always wanted to be the center of attention when she was at St. Hebereke's; always cutting loose with her echo-y trademark laugh, always spraying black rose petals hither and thither, that sort of thing. But here at Ohtori, she needed to do no such things to get noticed… all she had to do was what she did best, and it was noticed. And applauded. It was refreshing, and it was wonderful.

So why did she feel so uneasy?

She decided to chalk it up to the suddenness of being thrust into a quasi-teaching position less than a week into her first term here. It was time to put on her game face and get on with things. She was Kodachi Kuno, the Black Rose of… of Ohtori… and she had a class of neophyte gymnasts to whip into shape.

And if that had to be meant literally, well then, so be it.


There was a curiously metronomic feel to the sound of the springboard as each girl took her turn on the vaults. Daisuke found himself less and less able to concentrate on basketball with each squeak of the board. It was pretty much inevitable, then, that…

*whack!*

*ponk*ponk*png*png*prrrrrr…

A boy with unruly brown hair passed by him to retrieve the ball and whacked him on the back of head as he crossed behind him. "Geez, man, couldja keep yer mind on the game for once? You wanna flunk P.E. just 'cause you can't keep your eyes off the girls?"

Other than the involuntary buckle when Hiroshi slapped him, Daisuke didn't move. "Sorry," he replied in a tone that was anything but, "but she's really getting good, isn't she?" At that moment, Akane launched herself over the vault with a simple handspring.

"Yeah, she has. She really wants to make the team this year. And what with Kuno's creepy sister moving out, we might have a shot at the regionals, too." Hiroshi tucked the ball under his arm and joined his compadre is watching the girls practice.

Daisuke nodded. "They say Ranma's been training her a bit, too. Wonder what kind of moves they've been working on together…" The two boys looked over at Ranma, who was already glaring at them for reasons other than that they were talking about him.

Suddenly, a whistle blew shrilly in their ears, and the ball was snatched from Hiroshi's grasp. "Awright, you pair of walking hormones… I want you to go take a coupla cold showers, AFTER you do five laps around the campus." The coach's bellowing voice drowned out any possible protests from the boys. "I don't wanna hear anything from you two, I just wanna see ya run… now GET GOING!" He blew his whistle a second time for emphasis.

The boys got.


In the locker rooms, shadows fell across curtains.

"Did you know? Did you know that anyone could be so fast?" The girl speaking brought a hand up to her head. Tattered strips of red cloth fell from her hair. "Ohh, my poor ribbon! Now I'll need to get a new one!"

The pigtailed girl next to her stifled a groan. "Had you heard? Had you heard she was so vicious a competitor?" Her right arm was held up just over her left breast, where her leotard had been slashed, while she gazed at an angry scratchmark on her right leg. "Maybe we picked the wrong time to get involved with the gymnastics team…"

"You're not going to give up now, are you?" the girl with the tattered ribbon demanded. She clasped her hands to her chest, and tilted her head skyward "We need to persevere…"

"We only got into this for the phys ed credit, Eiko, remember? You said we needed to be limber for the sake of-"

"For the sake of our art, yes!" Eiko's voice pitched higher, into a hyperdramatic trill. "And for the sake of art, one must suffer now and again." She set her hands upon the other girl's shoulder, cupping the slash with both hands. There was a feverish look on her face as she gazed into her companion's eyes. "We will be better for it. Anything so painful must be good for us."

"Well…" The pigtailed girl dropped her gaze to the floor.

"Promise me that you'll stand fast."

"…all right. But I wonder…"

"You wonder? What is it you wonder?"

"I wonder… is this worth it… even for a championship?"


Elsewhere in the locker room, a solitary girl stepped out of the shower. She toweled herself off, tied her hair back, and looked herself over. Not a single mark from Kuno-sempai's punishing lash.

Silently, she put on her seifuku, and as she slipped out of the locker room, she adjusted her headband, humming a curious oom-pah-pah tune to herself.

 

To be continued.


Author's Notes:I think I know where this is going, but it's gonna take longer than I thought to get there. In the meanwhile, I've got to work on a bit of subtext, and any comments, metaphysical (I have trouble wrapping my head around the theories behind Mikage Souji's Black Rose seminars) or not, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!

Itsu mo,
Ucchan ^_^

Chapter 3
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