Disclaimer: Star Wars is the property of Lucasfilm/Disney. Ranma is the property of Rumiko Takahashi. This story is purely for entertainment purposes and is in no way intended to generate a profit.
Star Crossed: An Awakening
Chapter One: Kiss
It had been a bright and cool autumn Sunday the day her life was changed forever. Kasumi Tendo, like any other weekend, had been humming blissfully to herself as she walked back from the local market. She and the basket of fresh vegetables she held close to her body were warmed by the late morning sun as her mind pondered which recipe would be best for an evening meal. So engrossed in thought was she that she failed to notice the speeding car run the red light as she used the cross walk. The sound of skidding tires was the last thing she remembered hearing before pain and blackness overtook her.
The series of events that followed were, from her perspective, a noisy blur punctuated by moments of extreme panic. Horrifyingly realistic visions of impossible instances, intermingled with fleeting seconds of lucidity, dominated her perception. She saw and felt misery, hope, love, and death with no rhyme or reason. It was as if she had touched on a higher existence with access to a vast knowledge too great for her small human mind to make sense of.
Of course, after awakening from her coma, her rational mind had compartmentalized those experiences into something she could comprehend. Near death experiences, apparently, were often life changing events for most individuals and settling back in to everyday life was expectedly difficult. It had been easy to fool herself into thinking that that was all they were. Especially when the hospital psychologist she had seen insisted such was the case. However, it wasn't merely the memory that continued to plague her.
After being home for only a few days, strange things had started to happen. Sometimes, while looking in the mirror, she would see someone else's reflection looking back at her. Other times, she would hear voices or be overcome with intense waves of emotion. Her emotions, it seemed, were strongly affected by the people who surrounded her. And, since she had awoken from her coma in the midst of the holiday season, everyone was home for Christmas break.
Since she was still undergoing physical rehabilitation and confined to a wheelchair, she was limited in what she could do to help around the house. Which was fine with her, actually. Despite witnessing the obvious reluctance with which her father, sisters, and the Saotomes took over her usual domestic duties, she felt no rush of desire to relieve them. Especially when she finally concluded that most of the negative emotions she was picking up on belonged to them. She couldn't blame them, though. They just weren't cut out for that sort of thing.
Despite appreciating the break, she soon found herself wishing for some other sort of distraction as the weird occurrences playing havoc with her senses began to intensify. Random glimpses and voices eventually gave way to full on visions of the most bizarre quality. In one instance, she found herself standing in the middle of a vast desert staring up at two Suns. Two! And the heat, sandy wind, and parched feeling in her throat were so real that she nearly went into a panic. Then, suddenly, she was back in her room sitting in front of her open window. It had all been so real.
Things only got worse after that.
In her dreams she lived another life entirely. The life of a slave, of a hero, a lover, and a villain all rolled into one. Every night a new piece of the puzzle would fall into place and fill in the story of this person's life. Her life. She would often wake in the middle of the night crying. For the things done to her and the things she did to others. Many of them terrible, unforgivable, things. More than once, she would wake up the house with her screams and sobbing. Her father or sisters would come into her room to comfort her and put her back to sleep. But rest never came easy to her after one of her spells.
Tonight had started much like the others. She found herself laying on her back, wide awake, and staring at the ceiling. After being awoken from a nightmare and comforted by Nabiki, she had opted to stay awake while playing back the images in her mind's eye.
Lava and fire had swirled around her much like the raging hatred and betrayal she had felt welling inside of her. Those feelings, normally foreign to her, felt so familiar and deeply personal as she looked upon a bearded man with pleading eyes brimmed with tears. 'You were my brother! I loved you!' His anguished cry simultaneously struck her heart with unadulterated loathing and cold determination to end his life. He was to blame for everything, she knew it in her gut. When the searing pain of having her limbs removed came, she had been made aware of her own screaming and came to with Nabiki shaking her awake. Akane had been beside her with tears in her eyes. Seeing her two younger sisters agonizing over her like that only made things worse. The effects were becoming too much to bear.
So it was that, as she laid there in silence, she took in a deep breath and tried something she had seen done in one of her visions. In an effort to calm herself, she steadied her breathing and descended into a meditative state. To her utter surprise, she actually felt it. That which, through her dreams, she had come to know as the Force. She welcomed it's soothing embrace and released her discomfort into it to be carried away. Wrapped in its warmth, she experienced her first bit of restful sleep in what felt like ages.
Her world was filled with wonder the following morning when she awoke to find that the pain she had been working to overcome was gone. Her bones, muscles, and joints, once inflamed and aching, now moved easily without protest. She climbed out of her bed, unaided, and savored the feeling of the cool tatami under her bare feet. The sheer joy she felt at being able to do something so simple would probably have baffled someone else but she wasn't even close to thinking objectively at that point. That was why, without a second thought, she thrust her bedroom door open and sprinted down the stairs - making quite the racket in the process. Her rapid footfalls had roused the rest of the household.
When they trickled out of their rooms one by one and undoubtedly realized that Kasumi was the one responsible, they followed her trail and gathered by the open shoji on the ground floor. Kasumi stood in the snowy yard; entranced by the beautiful sunrise climbing above the wall surrounding their home. She looked over her shoulder upon noticing the assembly and greeted them with a beaming smile. Her joy boiled over into near hysterical laughter as she twirled around with her arms outstretched - letting everyone know in no uncertain terms that she was okay. Her father and Akane shed tears while everyone wore smiles of similar joy or relief.
Then, abruptly, Kasumi dropped flat on her back into the snow.
Gasps escaped the observers and they all leapt off of the wooden veranda in an effort to reach her. Then she burst into laughter as she started swinging her arms and legs over the icy powder to create a snow angel. "What are you all waiting for!?" she exclaimed. "We can't let this go to waste!"
When nobody came, Kasumi sat up and registered the collective incredulity on the faces of her family and friends. She took advantage of their pause to grab handfuls of the magical winter substance and initiate a snow fight. Ironically enough, Nabiki, the only non martial artist among them, had the presence of mind to dodge while the rest ate frozen water for breakfast. It achieved her desired effect of spurring everyone into action. After that, all bets were off.
A snowball blitz was the reason four Tendos and two Saotomes showed up to actual breakfast soaked to the bone with melted snow and chattering teeth. Even so, it was with huge grins and wild gesticulations as they recounted the grand battle and who among them was the ultimate victor. The cheer no doubt extended to the fact that Kasumi had decided to seize the reigns of the kitchen once again.
Ranma-chan poked her head into the kitchen as Kasumi was diligently preparing their fish and rice on the stove top right beside the warming kettle reserved for the two Saotomes. Kasumi had sensed the redhead coming and turned around just in time to see the younger girl walk in.
"Hey, Kasumi-chan. It's really good to have you back. I missed you," Ranma said, with a warm smile. "I mean, it's not just that Akane almost killed me with her cooking every other day but... oh, man, how do I say it..." she trailed off. Then her scrunched up brow smoothed over as she found the right words. "You, uh... well... things just are better when you're happy and healthy."
Kasumi giggled at Ranma's discomfort. "Well, thank you, Ranma. It's good to be back. I'll have your hot water ready in a few more minutes, okay?"
Ranma gave her a sheepish grin and a nod before excusing herself. Then, one by one, everyone else paid her a visit to express similar sentiments. It was all very warming to hear them speak so openly.
After breakfast, everyone took turns using the bath while she started a load of laundry and tidied up the kitchen. She was surprised at how easily she settled back in and, before she knew it, she found herself humming a familiar tune. It took her a moment to realize that it was the same tune she had been humming before the car had hit her. A sudden chill washed over her and set the hairs on the back of her neck rising then.
Before the panic could grip her any tighter, she closed her eyes and stretched out with her feelings to touch the Force once again. An immediate calm swept away the unwanted sensation and put her at ease. It also surprised her. Before, she had been uncertain if the force was merely a figment of her feverish nightmares. Even the unexpected healing of her body hadn't solidified her belief. Now, though, she was certain.
She reached out with a hand, half motivated by instinct and half by curiosity, as she focused on the now empty kettle resting atop the counter. She furrowed her brow as she felt it's weight and shape from across the room. A moment later, to her astonishment, it answered the call of her will and floated into her open hands. Then she dropped it before letting out an ear splitting scream.
The fire came back in all its roiling agony, crawling up her amputated legs to engulf her body as she grasped, with her one good arm, up the gravelly slope. Faces flashed across her mind scape as she burned, though the names to go with them escaped her. The bearded man from before; he was there. Then the woman with soulful eyes and long brown hair, who she had seen so many times before, was there. And then there was the hooded figure with a grotesque face and sinister grin; its raspy laughing pierced her heart and tormented her very soul.
Kasumi's characteristic scream pierced through the thin shoji to reach the ears of everyone present. Ranma, having been in the midst of scrubbing her body clean, was the last one to arrive on the scene. What she saw was quite unsettling. The eldest Tendo girl was writhing on the kitchen floor surrounded by a halo of debris floating all around her. Broken flatware and chunks of tatami floated in the air all around her. The immense pressure of the unseen power, rolling off of her in waves, kept everyone from approaching without being pushed backward.
"Kasumi!" Soun wailed as he struggled to stay on his feet.
The whole house was rattling and creaking now. Dust fell from the ceiling as its wooden skeleton shook it loose. Nabiki and Akane leaned on each other for support while Genma crawled forward on all fours without making any progress.
"Kasumi-chan!" Ranma shouted as she sprinted headlong into the pressure and willingly took the beating. Her slippered feet skid along the smooth floor so she took a tip from her old man and dug her fingers into it after falling onto her hands. With all her strength and will, she clawed forward as if climbing up a sheer cliff. Her lazy old man gave up as soon as he saw her take over.
"Save my baby, Ranma! Save her!" Soun cried.
The pressure, which felt like a suffocating gale force wind on top of a compounded gravity slammed against Ranma's flesh as she inched further toward Kasumi. At last, after an agonizing crawl, she got within arms reach and managed to lay a hand on the tortured girl's arm. "Kasumi, listen... it's gonna be okay. Whatever this is... you can stop it now, okay? You're safe with us." When the pressure didn't let up, Ranma tried again - more desperately. "Please, Kasumi... you're hurting me."
"Please, Ani... you're hurting me. You're breaking my heart."
Kasumi's writhing abruptly ceased, though the pressure remained. "Padme..." she said in little more than a whisper.
Ranma's hands shot up to her throat as her airway was suddenly constricted by an unseen force. "Kas... Kasumi..." she choked out desperately.
"I'm afraid, that in your anger... you killed her."
"Padme! No!" Kasumi shouted, suddenly opening her eyes. When she did, she saw Ranma - purple faced and gasping - crouched over her with a horrifying look in her eyes. Kasumi yelped and suddenly the redhead dropped her hands before sucking in a huge gasp of air. "Ranma!" she said frantically. She hauled herself to her knees and brought her hands up to the younger girl before checking her over. "Are you okay?"
Ranma put a hand up to block Kasumi and shuffled away from her as quickly as possible.
When Kasumi saw the eyes Ranma was looking upon her with, her heart fell to pieces. She dropped her arms and backed away to give Ranma her space. Nobody else seemed to realize exactly what had happened because they all came crowding in around her while mostly ignoring Ranma. She was the only one to notice the martial artist quietly slip away from the group.
Ranma lunged at his enemy with a furious straight fist to which he hit nothing but air. He followed up with a rising knee, propelling himself into the air and carrying his momentum into an aerial backflip. His wispy foe flowed around his strikes yet again so, when he touched down, he immediately transitioned into a sweeping kick meant to remove feet from floor. Again no contact. He carried on like that until he could no longer stand.
An hour later, he found himself collapsed on the dojo floor panting like a champion triathlete while his sparring partner danced mockingly against the far wall. The flickering shadow cast from the candlelight would never tire, of course. And, just this once, it hadn't been about facing an opponent he could physically beat. The real fight had been on the inside, after all.
He stared up at the ceiling as he recalled the incident from several days ago. Life threatening situations were not a new thing for him. He had been through many. However, he had never come so close to having his life snuffed out in such a way. Unpleasant though suffocation may have been, that really wasn't what had had him so disturbed.
There had been a moment when Kasumi's phantom had clamped around his throat long enough to render him into a state between life and death. In that twilight, a vision had come to him. A vision of a man with yellow rimmed eyes wielding an invisible grip on his throat - just like her. Though it was over nearly as soon as it had started, one thing did remain. When he looked upon Kasumi again, he saw the man with yellow rimmed eyes looking back.
The weeks following Kasumi's return home saw her uncontrollable fits all but diminish entirely. Her conscious connection to the Force grew stronger as well. Still, though, the rift between Ranma and herself remained. She watched him from afar sometimes, silently working up the nerve to explain herself - now that she was actually capable of doing so. Indeed, there was no more doubt in her mind about what had befallen her. The Force had proven to be a very real thing. So was the knowledge of her past life as she had come to know it.
Though she was now confident that she could use her abilities to share what she had seen, she had no desire to pressure anyone. She had already tried to explain things to her family the old fashioned way, even going so far as to levitate things for them. That simply hadn't been enough for them to believe her story. Though, she could admit, it did sound rather ridiculous when spoken aloud. It was after that that she sought to open her mind to them as a means of sharing and, through the Force, she learned it was indeed possible. Getting anyone to agree to such a thing had turned out to be even more of a challenge, though.
With little else to do, she had spent many hours meditating and reflecting on recent events. Through her reflections, it became painfully obvious that Ranma had already caught a glimpse of her personal truth. It was the only thing that could explain his behavior. She only wished that she could complete the story for him - make him understand. For Kasumi, having people frightened by her or angry with her was like having knife jabbed in her heart. It was one of her strongest desires to have peace with everyone and she hated to consider the possibility of losing even one friend. However, the longer she waited, the more she feared that she would lose Ranma forever.
It was after further meditation that she came up with a way to get around the distance and rejection.
She waited until nightfall and used her feelings to sense when it was safe to enter the guest room, where Ranma and his father stayed. It only took her a few minutes to get comfortable beside him and use the Force to touch his mind in a way that would leave him with nothing more than a vivid dream to reflect on upon his waking. The unexpected happened when she made the connection, though. Something within Ranma's soul awoke and resonated with her own. A warm familiarity washed over her and, before she knew it, she had reached a hand up to turn his sleeping face toward her own. "Padme, is that you in there?" she whispered.
Unable to resist the call, she leaned in to plant a kiss on his lips while shedding tears. "Oh, Padme... my Padme," she whispered, stroking his face. "Is this real? Have you come back to me?"
Ranma stirred in his sleep and grumbled something under his breath. "Get away, Kuno... I'll never date... never... make me sick..."
That sobered Kasumi somewhat and allowed her the moment she needed to remind herself that he wasn't actually Padme. Just like she wasn't actually that slave boy who had fallen in love with her. Not anymore, at least. She and him were two unique individuals with their own lives to live and their own decisions to make. Somehow, though, that thought didn't make her feel any better.
"I'm sorry," she whispered into his ear before carefully and quietly removing herself from his side. She stole one last glance at his face before heading for the door.
Ranma rolled over and sighed before unconsciously uttering the words that would haunt the rest of Kasumi's night. "Ani... you're breaking my heart..."
Kasumi flinched, stopping in her tracks, and then looked over her shoulder. "I'm sorry... so so sorry," she said. She closed the door behind her and went up to her room where she spent the rest of the night crying in silence.
The next morning, Ranma suffered a rude awakening at the hands of his father when he was quite literally yanked out of his sleep and tossed into the yard. Needless to say, being thrown into a koi pond in the middle of winter had made him rather upset. "What the hell!?" she shouted as she surfaced and crawled onto the icy grass.
"You're slacking today, boy," Genma said as he stepped out onto the lawn. "You didn't attack me when I grabbed you, so this is what you get. I guess it's time I took you back to school."
Ranma, who was wringing the blisteringly cold water from her braid and pajamas, scoffed at the old man. "Only one needing an education is you, ya old fart."
"Then come and get me, little girl. If you can," Genma added before taking a stance.
Ranma was about to come back with an insult of her own as she got to her feet, but was staggered when a vision unexpectedly rammed into her head with the force of a freight train.
"I've got wonderful news, Ani. I'm pregnant."
"That...that's fantastic! I'm going to be a father..."
"What are we going to do? If the council finds out..."
"Don't worry, my love. We'll find a way. I promise you."
"Haaahhh!" Ranma shouted, eyes snapping open as she regained consciousness. She looked around and found that, instead of lying in wet grass, someone had brought her inside. How long had she been out of it?
Sitting up, she realized she had been laying on her futon in the guest room. Her wet pajamas had also been exchanged for something clean and dry. On the floor beside her was a thermos. She checked and, sure enough, it was filled with hot water. Thankful to whoever had brought it, she upended it over her head and was relieved to be a man again.
He climbed to his feet and left his room to wander the house. It was much too quiet for his liking so he had his guard up as he exited the hall and came into the sitting room. The shogi board mister Tendo and his pop usually hogged was currently abandoned. He looked up at the clock mounted on the opposite wall and saw that it was past noon already. "What the hell-"
A shuffling noise caught his attention and he rounded into the kitchen just in time to see Kasumi enter through the side door.
"Oh, Ranma! You're awake," she said, her face expressing her surprise. "Thank goodness."
Ranma took a step backward, still uneasy in the Tendo girl's presence, and regarded her carefully. "Um... I guess I missed school today, huh?"
"Well, you were thoroughly out of it for awhile..." Kasumi replied, noticeably avoiding making eye contact with him. "I hope you don't mind, but I had to get you out of those wet clothes so you didn't get sick..."
Ranma barely suppressed a flinch before brushing her off as casually as he could. "No, no, that's fine. I was a girl at the time and, well... I trust you... I guess..."
Kasumi brought her head up and locked eyes with him. "Ranma... about before; I'm sorry... I didn't mean to-"
Ranma cut her off with a clipped laugh that was blatantly forced and a nervous grin. "I don't know what you're talking about, Kasumi-chan. As far as I'm concerned, you and me are cool. Hey, I just remembered something that I needed to do so... I'm gonna get outta here, okay?"
"Ranma, wait," Kasumi said, raising the volume of her voice slightly. Ranma, who had just turned his back on her, stopped short and looked sidelong at her over his shoulder. "Please just let me explain myself, okay? I can't let things go on like this anymore."
Ranma noted the girl's pleading expression as he observed her. The yellow eyes he had seen on her before were now a crystalline blue and much more welcoming. Still, it was a hard thing to shake off. "If this is about your new psychic mind thing... I've already heard everything from Akane and Nabiki. It's neat and all, but I'm not really interested in that kind of stuff. So, if you don't mind, I'm just gonna-"
"Ranma, stop!" Kasumi snapped, surprising them both. He turned around and sized her up before staring her straight in the eyes with unwavering attention. "Everyone thinks they have me pegged - that I just bumped my head a bit too hard and got all mixed up. But you...you've seen through that. I know you have. So, please... talk to me?"
Ranma replied first with a sigh of resignation before carefully choosing his next words. "So what if I did? How does that change anything?"
"It changes everything, Ranma. On so many levels. I don't know how much you remember, but this... us... it's extraordinary," Kasumi said, gesturing with her hands. "It's the Force... I think the Force did this. Don't you think that, just maybe, this could be our second chance?"
Ranma furrowed his brow and folded his arms over his chest while narrowing his eyes. "Us? Kasumi, you're not making any sense. There is no 'us.' And I don't know what you mean by the 'force.' The only thing I saw through was that facade of yours. I don't know how you've been able to hide it for so long - that darkness - but, now that I've felt it, ain't no way things are going back to the way they were before. I've seen the things you did and I don't think murderers get second chances. The only reason I haven't said anything to anybody is because I know they wouldn't believe me."
Kasumi looked like she had been slapped across the face. "No... I thought you... haven't you seen anything else? I could've sworn I gave you what you needed..."
"Gave me?" Realization dawned on Ranma's face before his eyes took on the far away quality of someone who's mind was playing back events. "You! It was you! You've been messing with my head, haven't you?"
The look of betrayal on his face was hard for Kasumi to bear. "Ranma, I swear I'd never intentionally do anything to hurt you. I just needed you to see the whole story... needed you to know that it wasn't really me. Don't you remember anything else? Are you even still my Padme?"
Ranma went rigid upon registering Kasumi's last statement. "H-How do you...know that word? No, wait. Of course you know it. You put it in my head. Gah, this is all so confusing!" he yelled, scrunching his eyes closed and grabbing the sides of his head. "Whatever you did to me...it's driving me insane!"
"Oh, Force... what have I done?" Kasumi breathed as she took a step toward him. "Ranma, your nose is bleeding!"
"Huh?" he replied, opening his eyes to stare at the gobs of red falling to the floor from his dripping nose. His vision began to swim as he suddenly realized how light headed he had become. As blackness started to creep in from his peripherals, he looked back up at Kasumi - who had begun to cry - and growled out his next words. "Stay away from me... monster."
So...yeah. Kasumi is Anakin reincarnated. Ranma is Padme. How much weirder can this get? Very.