by Trisar Alvein
THIS STORY IS HEREBY DISCONTINUED
Yep. Another fanfic. Uh-huh. I need my head examined, I know.
Uh... let's see.. I don't own trademarks or copyrights to Ranma 1/2 or Strawberry Panic... S'about all I can think of... Just writing this because I felt like it after watching SP. Very good anime. I recommend it.
Prologue: Taking a Break
"This is ridiculous."
So uttered a pigtailed boy as he stood upon the roof of the house he was currently boarding in. His clothing was a bit ragged, and his body showed evidence of injuries, but on the whole he seemed fairly well off, besides the rather dangerous scowl on his face.
"How does asking for just a regular bowl of noodles end up getting me some tentacle-beast elder one for dinner?" he wondered aloud.
Now, the reader must first understand something. This boy, Ranma Saotome, the sixteen year old heir of the Saotome School of Anything-Goes Martial Arts, had never once read H.P. Lovecraft's work, and so would have no scholarly standing on how to identify creatures of Lovecraftian mythos.
No, the many-tentacled being that had crawled out of his bowl had actually declared itself Old One, Dread Cthulhu, and then had tried to eat his face off. Ironically, he'd been in the process of salting his noodles, and the salt seemed to have an incredibly adverse effect on the creature, melting it back into the bowl.
No, the author isn't quite sure why salt drove the creature off either. He's just rolling with it.
Ranma knew something had to give, and soon. And at the rate things were going, it was looking like it would be his sanity. A vacation was in order.
Which was why he was standing on the roof, his pack filled with supplies and on his back, while he scoped the local area for his target. There was only one person in the entire country (assuming he was in the country at the time) who get get him far enough away from this place, quickly enough to avoid detection, and so effectively that no one would be able to track him.
That person also stood a good chance of not being anywhere to be found within a hundred miles of where he actually wanted to be ninety percent of the time.
Someone was apparently on Ranma's side, though. The telltale red umbrella bobbing along the street spoke volumes, and if the boy carrying it knew how much he was about to help his most hated nemesis, his head would probably pop. Which was why Ranma employed every stealth trick he knew to evade detection while following the lost boy, whose name was of course Ryoga Hibiki, though he was very careful to not use the sealed Umisenken style.
If I go psychotic, there'll be plenty of time for using the sealed techniques then, he reasoned. Why use them now?
Now, Ranma was no expert on the Hibiki direction sense, but knew it operated considerably worse than nearly any other family's. What Ranma did know was that there was absolutely no way for him to turn a corner in pursuit of Ryoga and end up stumbling into a stable. Or, at least, he thought that was how it went.
Considering the Hibiki's propensity for getting lost in a room with one door, though...
One of the horses whinnied softly, but failed to rouse Saotome's notice.
"Hey! Who's there?" yelled a voice from the entrance. Startled from his thoughts, Ranma stepped backward quickly, turning toward the voice. In true Jusenkyo fashion, his foot happened upon a full water trough with enough force to tilt it vertical, sending cold water onto himself and the horse in front of him. The unstable platform his, now her, foot rested upon threw her balance off more than the sudden change in gender had, sending her sprawling to the ground with a squawk of surprise. With a loud thunking noise, the trough fell horizontal again, striking with enough force to break and creating another loud noise.
The horse in front of the prone Ranma was understandably startled by all of this sudden noise and activity in just a few seconds, especially so early in the morning when he hadn't yet had time to fully rouse itself. Synapses fired and instincts processed.
The last thing the redhead saw as she was pulling herself up was a horse's foot approaching her head at high speeds.
Amane Otori was not having a good day, and frankly, it had started when she woke up.
First, Hikari hadn't shared her bed last night, which caused the "Prince of St. Spica" a bit of frustration when she woke up. Not having her girlfriend with her to greet the day with a smile worked to sour her mood severely.
Second, on her way to the Etoile's greenhouse to check on some of the plants while she had time before classes, no less than two dozen of St. Spica's and St. Miator's girls had approached her with such a multitude of questions that it seemed like it was an endless chain of them.
After escaping the girls and tending to some plants (which had helped her calm down, admittedly; botany was a very relaxing art), she found out from some of the other girls who rode horses that one of the mounts in Star Bright's stable had somehow gotten an injury. Wanting to be assured of the horse's condition herself, she had rushed off to the field.
While en route to the stable, she had been ambushed by more girls with an unending torrent of questions. Luckily for all involved, Hikari chose that moment to make an appearance. Calming Amane's roiling emotions with a chaste kiss, the younger Etoile took the reins of the questioning girls and quickly sent them on their way.
Sharing another kiss with her girl, Amane explained where she was going and that she might be late for breakfast. Hikari nodded and smiled, and sent her on her way. And now, when she arrived at the stable she'd been headed for all this time, she found someone standing in front of Star Bright's place.
"Hey! Who's there?" she yelled, hoping to set the person off guard long enough to get an explanation from them. She knew Star Bright wasn't injured—if he had been, someone was going to really pay, since she was the only one who could ride him—but this person probably wasn't supposed to be there.
In retrospect, that yell was probably the worst thing she could have done. The figure stumbled backward while trying to turn toward her, flipping a water trough onto themselves. With a (definitely female) shout of surprise, the girl tripped and fell prone. That would have been enough to make Amane regret snapping like she had, except the trough quickly fell back down and broke, creating a loud CRACK! noise that startled Star Bright.
Amane's eyes widened with horror as she saw her horse prepare to kick back just as the girl who tripped was getting back up. She started to run forward, but knew she was already too late, and found her eyes fixed upon the figure flying back, limp as a rag doll from the force behind the kick. When she kneeled by the body to see if she knew who it was, she received the first pleasant surprise of the day (she was expecting Hikari to show up, she just didn't know when it would happen).
The girl was still alive. Unconscious and with a nasty bruise on her head, but alive.
That's not possible. With that kick, Star Bright should have snapped her neck like a twig... Amane realized. A dry twig, her thoughts continued even as she gulped slightly.
Still, she couldn't deny the evidence. The girl, a redhead Amane realized by the increasing light, was still breathing, and as she lifted the redhead into her arms, carefully cradling the head, several other realizations came to light.
The first was that the girl's neck was, in fact, almost completely undamaged. The Etoile had seen what happened to human spines when they were kicked in the head by a horse, and it was luck and skill that kept her from suffering similar fates. The force of the kick alone would usually be enough to cause whiplash, breaking the neck easily.
The second was that the redhead, despite an appearance of frailty in the dawning light, was actually toned and muscular, albeit in a lithe fashion. She was not only 'in shape,' she was in good shape.
Finally, a fact that would have been more obvious if not for the other concerns (which fretted Amane's mind even as she dashed for the hospital wing, careful not to jostle her ersatz patient), was that this person was stunningly beautiful. Granted, to her biased eyes, the redhead couldn't compete with Hikari, but she was undoubtedly worth a second look. Her vibrant red hair, sylphlike face, and her... rather healthy endowments made her very memorable.
Which added up to a single, obvious conclusion that the Etoile had no choice but to take as her current opinion on the matter.
Whoever this redhead was, she was certainly not a current student at any of the three academies on Astraea Hill.
Tamao Suzumi wasn't having a very good day either, but hers wasn't limited to the time frame of whenever she finally willed herself out of bed. In fact, she'd been having what Americans would term 'a long Monday' ever since the Etoile elections.
It doesn't matter that Nagisa-chan was still in love with Shizuma-sama, I said. I could work around that, I said. We were already good friends. Lovers was next, she thought sadly. If only Shizuma hadn't come around to declare her love for the peppy, energetic redhead, things would have worked out for her, she felt. But I can't blame Shizuma-sama for falling in love with her... She couldn't help it. Who could? I bet I could ask around and find at least five other girls who would trade spots with her in a heartbeat. And that just in our grade level at St. Miator's.
Tamao sighed, a deep and longing sound that spoke of love lost and misery gained. No, Nagisa was out of her reach. They were still friends, and she was happy that her friend finally found solace in something that everyone involved knew tore at the hearts of Shizuma and Nagisa... despite the fact that neither would outright admit it. But still... even being happy for Nagisa and her newfound (or was it finally-found?) love, Tamao's sadness at not having someone for her was almost overwhelming.
It didn't help those times Nagisa would smile nervously and blush a lot before saying she'd be spending the night with Shizuma. Deities only knew whether the two were doing late-night studying or if they were exploring their passions for each other, because Tamao didn't want confirmation either way. One would get her hopes up, and the other would make her envious of the former Etoile.
Speaking of Etoiles, here comes Amane-sama now, with... a girl in her arms? No way that's Hikari-chan. Hikari-chan's a blonde, and that's a redhead.. and... wow, there's no way Hikari-chan has a build like that. That bust could give even Shizuma-sama competition. Even as depressed as she was at losing her love, Tamao was neither blind nor dead, and her eyes still appreciated the female form as much as ever, and the girl she saw cradled in Amane's arms was definitely a form to appreciate. Something was off, though, and she couldn't quite figure out what.
When Amane stopped her run, Tamao could see the problem for herself: the redhead was unconscious, and had a nasty head injury by the look of her.
"Tamao Suzumi-san, right?" asked Amane. At the other girl's nod, she continued, "Would you please tell Hikari-chan I might not be able to make it to breakfast at all? I need to get this girl to the hospital wing, and I should probably keep an eye on her there."
Tamao barely had time to nod and mutter an affirmative before Amane was off again. "Amane-sama sure can run," she whispered aloud. "I haven't seen a sprinter like that at the Strawberry Dorms in... ever." Realizing she was expected to tell the underclassman Etoile some important news, she decided to hurry on to the dining hall to inform Hikari.
Knowing the schools inside and out as she did, she actually reached the dining hall just a minute before Hikari, and so was waiting just outside for her. "Etoile-sama?" she said, chuckling dryly in her mind at how the other girl reacted so slowly to the call, which was still so new to her.
"Tamao-chan, you know you can keep calling me Hikari... Having a title like Etoile is going to get to my head if my friends call me by it, especially when you're one class higher than me," replied the blonde, blushing.
Even Tamao had to giggle a little, which the junior Etoile considered a step up. "Sorry, Hikari-chan... I've got a message to deliver. Amane-sama ran past me this morning with an injured girl, unconscious, in her arms. She's taking the girl to the hospital wing now, but wants to watch over her and probably won't make breakfast because of it."
"Injured? How badly? Maybe I should—"
"Oh, no you don't," replied the blonde's companion, a black-haired girl who quickly snagged Hikari by the shoulder to keep her from dashing off to the hospital wing. "You have duties here, Etoile-sama. If Amane-sempai isn't here, it's your job to do them. Shizuma-sama taught you that, you know."
"And if I have to explain to the student council again that ceremonies can't happen because one Etoile had to watch an injured student and the other dashed off to valiantly be by her side, I'm going to make sure they not only think you're willfully shirking your duties, but that you're doing it to thumb your nose at the school's culture, and then I'll have them forward a report to that effect to the Sister."
"You wouldn't!" squeaked the blonde fearfully.
"Wouldn't I?" replied Yaya with a raised eyebrow.
"You would." Tamao had to hide a smirk as Hikari slumped slightly, before gathering herself and trying to look professional. "I suppose I can see how Amane-sempai is doing this afternoon?"
"Assuming the student councils don't have other duties you need to take care of first. Now, you have a breakfast address to handle, so march!"
Quickly dashing in and finding some food and a seat of her own, Tamao scanned the room carefully. There's Chiyo-chan and Tsubomi-chan, Kagome-chan is over there with Kizuna-san and Remon-san, I wonder where Chikaru-sama is? She looked over the room again. Nothing. And where are Shizuma-sama and Nagisa-chan? They wouldn't skip out on breakfast. Nagisa-chan gets cranky without a morning meal if she's awake too long...
For about the third time that day, an alarm clock buzzed incessantly, its LED display glaring "7:15" in bright red. A slender arm snaked out and slapped the snooze button, not being bothered to actually disable the alarm. As if uncomfortable while exposed, the arm quickly snaked back under a thick blanket, which was draped over a bed next to the nightstand upon which the offending clock stood.
"H'vta get up some time, Sh'z'ma-s'ma," mumbled a muffled voice from the blanket.
"Later, sleep," muttered an equally muffled voice from the same blanket.
The first sensation that returned from the blackness was that of pain. Her head felt like someone had cracked her, hard, with a large hammer from her blind side. For some inane reason, a horse's hoof figured prominently into her memories of the event.
Hearing was next to return, though frankly she wished it hadn't. The two voices around her were speaking quietly, or so she'd probably have thought otherwise, but to her they were shouting, loudly and incomprehensibly. It was making her headache worse, and she let a groan of pain slip out as sensation increased.
Her eyes cracked open, revealing that her sight had returned, and much like her hearing, she regretted it. Sharp, bright light stabbed into her brain, spiking her headache and causing her to groan again. Luckily, her eyes adjusted quickly, allowing her to open her eyes enough to get an idea of where she was.
A hospital, she realized. I'm in a hospital. Or something like it... Her head hurt too much for a decent self-check of how her body was handling, but that just made it the most important injury. Given everything I know, it's... I think it's a concussion...
"Excuse me," whispered an incredibly soft, gentle voice. Painfully slowly, she swiveled her eyes, locking onto a kindly-looking woman in soft blue-green clothes, as opposed to a glaring white. "I'm Mai Itarashi, the nurse here... Do you understand me?"
Being careful not to aggravate her head, the nodded, the motion bare, but visible to the young nurse.
"Okay, good... You have a concussion. We think it's fairly severe, but you seem to be recovering well. Can you speak?"
Licking her lips to moisten them, she opened her mouth, wheezing past her dry throat, "Where...?"
Mai smiled gently. "You're at Astraea Hill's Strawberry Dorms, in the hospital wing. Amane Otori, a student at St. Spica's Girls' Academy, brought you here."
"Thir... oh! Just a moment." The nurse quickly dashed off, then returned a time later (she wasn't sure how long it took) with a glass of water. Helping her to drink and swallow, Mai successfully (and, to her, surprisingly) managed to keep her from spilling even a drop.
"We just need to have a few tests. Do you feel up to it, or would you like some more rest first?"
"Let's... do it..."
Taking a deep breath, the nurse made sure her patient was focused on her. Then, she help up her hand, fingers and thumb splayed out. "How many fingers am I holding up?"
"Four... thumb's not a finger, 's a digit..."
Pleasantly surprised, Mai switched to three fingers. Then to one, then four again (though without a thumb this time). Her patient got all of them correct, and she was bending down to pick up the clipboard and mark it, when her patient said, "Four," again.
Looking up in confusion, Mai could see the redhead staring back at her with an unmatched intensity. "Excuse me?" she asked, curious.
"You... had four fingers out... saw your muscles tense for it..."
She blinked, glancing at her hand, and sure enough, her four fingers were out, still prepared to grip the clipboard at the foot of her patient's bed. Which, she reminded herself, she still had to do. Quickly marking down that the patient showed a significant amount of coherence, especially for a concussion victim, she also made note that the patient indicated she could guess the number of fingers extended on a hand by muscle tension in the lower arm and bicep.
Well, if she's a highly trained martial artist, she might be able to, but...
"She's conscious?" questioned a semi-deep voice from the doorway. Mai turned, finding the girl's rescuer, Amane Otori.
"Yes, Etoile-sama. She'll likely go back to resting in a moment, and there doesn't seem to be any danger. She's remarkably coherent."
Both women turned toward the bed, seeing the redhead sitting herself up. Both women also, consequently, ran forward in an attempt to get her to lay back down, but she resisted their efforts almost negligently.
"I told you, I'm fine... My head hurts, but... oooh..." She began swaying slightly in her seat with her face greening, prompting Amane to help her lay back down while Mai quickly got a pan and brought it over. In just a few moments, Amane stoically observed as the beautiful redhead retched loudly, heaving up about a cup of water and a few fluids into the pan.
"I don't think you're fine just yet, Miss... You should stay in bed for a while. Doctor's orders."
Amane thought for a moment. Hikari would likely be visiting soon, and while the patient was coherent she wanted a name so she could try to explain what had happened.
"What's your name?" she asked.
The redhead seemed to think for a moment. In fact, both women could tell her injured brain was working hard on that question. It seemed to be out of reach, before comprehension lit up in her eyes.
"Tendo. Ranko Tendo. I'm sorry about this." Then, just as quickly, the comprehension faded, and the self-dubbed Ranko lay back into the pillow, falling into a light slumber.
Okay, first, Tamao's attitude. I want to address this here so I won't have to answer a bunch of reviews on it.
When Tamao told Nagisa to "go" to Shizuma, she was torn. She was happy that Nagisa finally had a chance to be happy with her first love, but she was also sad that Nagisa wasn't going to be happy with her. That's how love works... unless you're from Nerima, Nyuchiezhu, or pretty much any ward where a romantic comedy manga/anime gets involved and has "suspension of disbelief" written all over it. Why do I say that's how love works? It's how I feel. If I love someone, I'll let them go. If they're happier with someone else, what right do I have to hold them back? Seeing them become an unhappy shell of themselves would just ruin my own happiness anyway.
Much like Nagisa was when Shizuma tried to break their romance off at first, Tamao is sulky. She'll get help, but for now she just wants some time on her own. That's not to say her depression is getting the better of her or making her selfish, as noted by her helping out Amane, but it is making her jealous of the 'lovebirds.'
Now, Ranma. The situation here is similar to my Just One Day fanfic. The difference is that this Ranma just wants a temporary time off, a spring break from the madness, not to leave and never come back. Well, he's certainly gotten his desire in spades, and then some. After all, nothing to forget your woes and troubles like concussion-induced amnesia, right? And following Ryoga is, essentially, the best way to guarantee that absolutely no one can find him. Ryoga has proven that he can get so lost that even Cologne couldn't find him (remember, he did fly to Moscow once on a grocery run in volume 37) without extensive searching, and the sheer speed and effectiveness of this also prevents nearly any tracking. Short of having already been following Ranma or Ryoga, it's going to take a lot of tricks and luck to find Ranma again.
Nagisa and Shizuma. Perhaps the oddest thing I've had to do yet is write a fanfic based in an anime where it seems ninety percent of the cast is a definite lesbian, and the other ten only just might be lesbian. I hope I manage to express the depth of this particular coupling without making it trite and boring. Hopefully I can also do that without offending someone, but I won't hold my breath if you folks don't.
If I do offend someone, don't mark it in a review. Seriously. It just causes trouble. If something I write offends you, send me a personal message and we can clear it up where it's meant to be cleared: Personally. Privately. If you have a grief you want made public... well, message me and I'll see about making a forum on for it. Or something.
Just don't put your gripes in a review. That's for helping to improve the story's flow and content, not to help improve its political correctness.
Which, considering I listen to George Carlin, I'm probably not too concerned about.