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Sailor Ranko: Thrice In A Millennium: Chapter 3, Bird Watching.
Rebecca Ann Heineman

Ranma 1/2 and the characters therein are the property of Rumiko Takahashi. Based on "Sailor Ranko" by Duncan Zillman and "Twice in a Millennium" by Kevin D. Hammel.

I don't own these characters. Please don't sue me, kill me or steal all of my left shoes.

Ukyou felt a great disturbance in the force. It was like the sound of millions of voices suddenly crying out and then were suddenly silenced. She turned to face the dark villain of her dream when a chalkboard eraser bounced off of her sleeping head. "Miss Kuonji! Pay attention!"

"Huh?" Ukyou lifted her head and blew chalk dust away from her face. She made an innocent look and pointed at herself. "Who, me?"

Miss Hinako in child form walked up to the semi-awake girl. "Yes, you. I'm upset that you're sleeping in class. Do you find my lessons that boring?"

Ukyou sat upright instantly the moment she noticed the coin that the pint sized teacher was fingering in her hand. "No, teacher. Your lesson wasn't boring."

"Is that so? Well then..." She gave a childlike smile as she contemplated what sort of question that she knew Ukyou couldn't answer. "Tell me how to say 'Waiter, may I have another glass of water' in English."

Ukyou blinked and spoke in perfect textbook English with no hint of a Japanese accent. "Waiter, may I have another glass of water."

The other students gasped at Ukyou's flawless performance. Hinako was taken aback at Ukyou's instant improvement in her English skills. She raised her eyebrows and spoke only in English to her wayward student. "Well then, Miss Kuonji, it seems that you've been studying your pronunciation. Recite these lines, please." She pointed to a passage in the textbook that sat open in front of the chef. It was the same book that moments ago was doubling as a pillow.

Ukyou turned to look at the page. One side was written in high school level kanji while the passage in question was in English script. She began to read the poem written down at where her teacher's finger was pointing.

"And both that morning equally lay.
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way.
I doubted if I should ever come back."

Ukyou had her eyes closed and was reciting the rest of the poem from memory. She pronounced the L's perfectly and sounded like she was a native English speaker. Hinako picked up the book reading the passage in sync with Ukyou's recital to make sure that Ukyou was reading it correctly.

"I shall be telling this with a sigh.
Somewhere ages and ages hence.
Two roads diverged in a wood.
And I took the one less traveled by.
And that has made all the difference."

There were several sighs among the girls in the class, then many of the students began to clap. Miss Hinako was fuming at Ukyou's apparent showing off of her hidden skills in English. She reverted back to Japanese for the benefit of the class. "So, you think you're being funny, Miss Kuonji. You memorized that poem didn't you?"

Ukyou blinked her eyes in surprise as she glanced around at her newfound poetry fans. "But that was one of Robert Frost's best works."

"You need to read a passage in English that you hadn't memorized." She flipped through the book to the inside cover page. "Read this."

Ukyou looked at the page in question and shrugged. "If you purchased ..."

"Translate it to English." Hinako smirked. She had Ukyou now. She was a bad girl and bad girls get punished. She flipped her 50 yen piece in anticipation.

Ukyou shrugged again then spoke in perfect English. "If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this is stolen property."

Hinako's mouth hung open in shock. Her coin fell to the floor from her limp hand. She had underestimated her student. "Miss Kuonji, it appears that you've improved your language skills considerably. Would you care to lead the class?" She waved her hand to the front of the room expecting Ukyou to get up and show everyone the true level of her skill.

"Who me? But I... You don't mean..." Ukyou felt proud and confident in the fact that she was being asked to tutor the other students. She got up to take a step to follow her teacher and tripped on her own foot landing flat on her face. "Ouch."

Miss Hinako kneeled down to help up the fallen girl. "Are you all right Miss Kuonji?"

"Heh. Clumsy me." Ukyou got up then brushed herself off and quickly fluffed up her Sailor Venus hair style. She stood up in front of the class and made a little bow. She instinctively grabbed a piece of chalk and wrote a sentence from the poem onto the chalkboard with the skill of someone who had been tutoring for years. "Now class, repeat after me..."

Yuka whispered to her friend. "I didn't know Ukyou was that good in English. When did she have time to practice?"

Sayuri answered. "I dunno. Since when was Ukyou so clumsy? She never fell down like that before."

Konatsu checked the shopping list again to make sure he was buying exactly the right number of heads of cabbage for his mistress. He checked the vendor's cart and selected eight heads of high quality cabbage, placing them in a wooden box to carry back to Ucchan's. He paid for the vegetables and began to walk back to the restaurant when he bumped into Kasumi.

"Why hello there, Konatsu." Kasumi greeted the kunoichi with a friendly bow. "It's nice to see you today."

"The pleasure is all mine, Tendo-san." The ninja bowed in return.

"Oh, please don't be so formal. Call me Kasumi." She beamed.

"Kasumi." Konatsu smiled at the eldest Tendo sister. "How are you today?"

"I'm fine. I'm just doing the shopping for today." Kasumi eyed the box Konatsu was carrying on his shoulder. "I see you're shopping as well."

"Yes, I am. I need to get this to the restaurant before lunchtime. I'm running late. Please stop by later if you'd like to chat."

"I'd love too. See you later, Konatsu-chan." She waved at her friend.

"See you later." Konatsu turned and walked briskly back to Ucchan's. He unlocked the door, entered and closed the door behind himself. He put down the box of ingredients and quickly put them all away in their proper places. Afterwards, he put the empty box in the storage room and picked up his trusty broom to sweep up the floor.

He swept for several minutes before suddenly stopping. He lifted his head and leaned against the broomstick. "She called me Konatsu-chan." He sighed at the thought and turned to look at his reflection in the front window.

The reflection that stared back was of a beautiful girl in a waitress kimono. His long black hair tied in a ponytail shone brightly from all the care he had put into it. His lipstick and makeup made him look like a woman that wars were fought over. He lifted his hand to touch his cheek, gently stroking his skin so he wouldn't smudge his foundation.

Konatsu's mind drifted to a time long since gone by. A time when his life was different. A time when he was just a child to a very happy couple. He remembered a photograph of his beautiful mother, holding a one year old baby in her arms with a handsome man sitting next to her on a tree branch the three of them were on. He closed his eyes thinking about what his life would have been like had his mother not died shortly after that photo was taken.

Distraught and longing for female companionship, his father looked for someone to be a mother to his son. Konatsu never knew why his father married the ugly hag who became his step-mother, but the event made him what he was today. Too young to remember anything about his parents when they were alive, his step-mother and step-sisters told him all he knew of them, and their outlook made that information dubious at best. Konatsu shed a tear thinking about his long dead parents and silently wished he could see them again if only to say goodbye.

Konatsu opened his hand and gazed at the slender fingers he possessed. His fingernails were painted a light pink with a fine nail polish. He placed his hands on his chest to remind himself of what he truly was. He was a man. A man who loved a woman. A woman who didn't return the love he possessed in the way he wanted it returned. "Ukyou." He sighed.

Ukyou was the only person in many long years that had treated him with any kindness. Konatsu spent most of his life under the iron thumb of his step family, trained in the ways of the kunoichi and earning the hate and wrath of his step-sisters because of his physical beauty and his mastery of the ninja arts. He was a genius kunoichi. A ninja with the skills of a true master that only comes once in a hundred years. He was proud of his abilities and they served his true love well. But his skills came with a terrible price, his skills were all based on female ninja arts. To master these skills, he was purged of all of his masculinity and for almost all intensive purposes, he was a female.

Konatsu still had a trace of masculinity in him. His step-family hadn't purged everything from him. He still was attracted to females and only females. Males completely disgusted him. He wanted nothing to do with the male race and the thought that he was one of THEM made him want to throw up. He remembered the hundreds of times that customers of the tea shop that his step-family owned would grope him or try to fondle him or ask him out for the expressed purpose of sleeping with him. The men never did those things to his step-sisters. All the men were convinced that Konatsu was a beautiful woman, but a woman to be used as an object and not a person. Konatsu felt dirty with all the times that a man tried to kiss him on the lips as if he was a girl. He twitched his head to the side in revulsion as another memory of a grope attack flashed in his mind.

He popped his eyes open to stare at the wall behind the counter. There was a photo of Ukyou and Ranma when they were kids. He longingly studied every curve, every feature of the little girl in the picture wishing against all wishes that it was him eating the okonomiyaki next to her instead of Ranma. Konatsu imagined Ukyou was standing before him. He held out his hand to the image in his mind smiling at him, happy to see him and wanting to return his touch. His fingers slowly moved forward to the life like ghost in front of him and he whispered those words he so desperately wanted to hear in return. "I love you."

His fingers passed though the non-existent girl shimmering before his eyes like an angel and she vanished into the nothingness that she came from. He slowly closed his hand into the empty air that felt just as empty as his life seemed to be. He made a decision and gripped his broom tight in defiance to what life had given him. He walked off to his tiny room under the stairs and turned on the light within. He rummaged among his clothes and found the fancy chef uniform that Akane had purchased for him when he, Ranma and Akane were running the store while Ukyou was sick. He held up the fancy male uniform and imagined himself wearing it again. "Maybe if I dressed like a man. Maybe Ukyou will..." He shuddered at the contradicting emotions in his heart. The clothes would connect him to THEM. Those people who... Those creatures who... Konatsu wanted to rip up the uniform but elected to simply let it fall to the floor.

He crumpled into a small heap crying to himself. He was weak. He couldn't do it. He couldn't fight off his years of conditioning in accepting any part of being a member of the male species. He knew he could enjoy the company of men as friends in small doses, but the only man he could truly be a friend to was also part female.

"Ukyou." He cooed. "You could love Ranma-chan." He thought about Ranma's female form and the times that Ukyou didn't mind hugging Ranma as a red head. "Maybe..." He stared at the mirror in his room looking at the female that looked back. "Maybe... You could love me."

"Wake up, Ranma!" Akane violently shook her unconscious red headed female husband. She looked at Cologne. "Got some hot water?"

Cologne finished drying off a damp and naked Shampoo. "I'm sorry, but I used it all on these two already. Give me a few minutes to heat up some more." She quickly lifted Shampoo's arms to thread her hands into the sleeves of one of Shampoo's favorite Chinese mini-dresses. A few more articles of clothing were slid on and then Shampoo was finally decently dressed for what passed as decency for the young Amazon maiden.

Mousse was dressing himself in a corner keeping a watchful eye on Ranko in case she or Shampoo woke up and began to cuddle. He wanted to keep those two lovebirds apart at all costs despite the fact that Ranko wanted nothing to do with the Amazon girl.

Ranko groaned then shot upright in a defensive stance looking for the creature from the pits of hell. "Is it still here?" She darted her head around looking for the feline form that haunted her nightmares.

Akane wasn't impressed. "Shampoo's over there."

Ranko felt really stupid. "Oh. It was Shampoo. Heh. Sorry about that." She looked around the Cat Cafe. "Hey, where's the bird lady?"

Cologne hopped back into the center of the room holding a teakettle. "She's long gone. Here." Ranko snatched the tea kettle and used it to return to his birth form.

Ranma shook his head like a dog to dry his hair. "Thanks for the hot water. Now, can you tell me what's really going on and who was that winged girl?"

The elder sat down at a nearby table. "What's going on is a mystery that we need to solve. Who was that girl? She told you who she was. She's Kiima of Mount Phoenix."

"Actually, I meant, what's with the wings?" Ranma got bonked on the head. "Whatcha do that for?"

"Maybe you'll pay attention to my stories." The Amazon matriarch snorted. "Mount Phoenix has a cursed spring that the people there drink from. As a result, they now have wings as their natural birth form."

"Like the... Ouch!" Ranma rubbed his head counting the ever increasing number of lumps. "Can't I finish..."

"No. You were going to say that they were like the Musk."

"Whatever. Let's go Akane."

Akane was giggling in a seat and laughed a bit more with each cane strike that Cologne was able to deliver on Ranma's thick skull. She looked down at Plum who was gently patting Shampoo's face to wake her up. "Ranma, we just can't leave her."

"Akane, what are we going to do with her? Besides, she's where she wants to be anyways." He directed his voice to Cologne. "You can take care of her, right?"

"We can take care of her for now." Cologne tapped her cane with her fingers nervously. "However, I need to make some phone calls. I've got to see what the true intentions are of the Phoenix people and why they are interested in the magical waters of Jusendo."

Akane kneeled down to Plum and smiled at her. She took a napkin and scribbled a phone number on it. "Here's my number. If you need me or Ranma, give me a call." Akane gave a cute grin.

Plum looked at the number on the napkin and then looked back at Akane. "Can you give me the numbers of the magical girls?"

Akane darted her eyes around the room and tapped her fingers together. "Uh... I can't really... because... uh..."

Cologne stepped in. "I'm certain you can get a message to them, right?"

"Well er... Maybe..."

"Akane, Ranma, may I have word with you in private?" Cologne gave a look that meant that she wasn't going to take no for an answer.

Ranma crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Fine, lead the way."

Cologne hopped to the back of the Cat Cafe with the Saotomes following her. Mousse was happy to be alone with Shampoo even though she was still knocked out. "Oh my darling Shampoo!" He glomped onto her sleeping body and was instantly thrown across the room by a reflex action. Shampoo turned over and yawned, still fast asleep.

Cologne stopped once they were out of earshot of the other three people in the restaurant. "Now you two, I'm going to find out what's going on in China, but I would remind you that the Senshi owe Shampoo a favor. There is a chance I may need to call in the favor."

Akane got huffy. "What makes you think that we can get a message to the Senshi?"

Cologne gave a look of sheer annoyance. "So speaketh Sailor Io."

Akane stuttered. "S-Sailor Io? Heh. What makes you think I... I'm Sailor I-Io?"

"I've got over three thousand years of Amazon history behind me young lady. Don't you even think for a moment that you can fool me." She turned to Ranma. "And you, Sunny boy, how'd they get you into that dress?"

"Don't ask," Ranma grumbled.

Akane raised her voice. "Ranma!"

Ranma knew when the jig was up. He was hoping that Akane would get a clue. "Akane, give it up."

"I'm not a Sen..." Cologne quickly tapped Akane's arm with her cane using the Chestnut Fist technique to position her hand to reach into sub-space. She knew from the ancient texts how a Senshi calls up her magical transformation. An instant later, a henshin stick appeared in Akane's hand.

Cologne smiled triumphantly. "You were saying?"

Akane blushed. "Heh. How'd that get there?" She flicked the transformation wand back into sub-space then sank her shoulders down in defeat. "All right, we can get a message to the Senshi, but it had better be good."

The elder looked at the couple with a dash of envy. The envy was not for herself but for her granddaughter. "Honored Senshi." She bowed to them.

Ranma raised his eyebrows at the unexpected treatment from his former adversary. "Now that's different."

Cologne stood up from her bow looking at Ranma in the eye. "Someday Ranma, I would be grateful if you and your wife would share with me how you became members of the Senshi. I would consider it a great honor."

Akane scratched her head nervously. "Uh... I guess." She gestured to her husband. "We are so in trouble right now." She pointed to her watch to indicate the time.

Ranma stood there without a clue. "We're in trouble?"

Akane grabbed him by the ear. "We've already missed the first two classes, c'mon!" She painfully dragged her husband out the back door. "Oh, bye Cologne!" With that, the two vanished out the back door.

Cologne watched the display with a small giggle then hopped over to the telephone on the wall. She flicked the receiver off the hook and used her cane to dial a number to China. A few moments passed. "Hello, this is elder Cologne. I need to speak with elder Perfume."

Konatsu was sweeping up the last of the dust in front of Ucchan's when he heard a loud crash coming from the alley beside the restaurant. He spun around changing his clothes into his old almost worn out ninja suit and ran to the side alley door. He looked out to see what had made the noise.

A strangely garbed Chinese teenager with a bow and arrows was trying to remove himself from an empty trash can. Another man was in the dumpster looking for something. He popped his head out. "Nope, it's not in here!"

Konatsu cocked his head to the side in amazement at the weirdness before him. "What's not in here?"

The two men took notice of the kunoichi and drew their weapons. The one in the blue Chinese jumpsuit spoke. "I'm Koruma and you stay back!"

Konatsu put down the broom he intended to use to scare away the stray cats he thought were in the alley. "Why? I'm not going to hurt you."

Masara asked. "Do you know Jusendo's secret?"

The ninja was puzzled. "Uh, no. What's that?"

"That's what I'm asking you, dummy!"

Konatsu emerged from inside the doorway. "Hey! Who're you calling a dummy? I'm not the one who's dumpster diving."

Koruma had an idea. "Uh, you don't by any chance have any hot water do you?"

Konatsu was instantly suspicious that these men might have some sort of Jusenkyo power up form. Requests for hot or cold water were common among the cursed. "Why do you need hot water?"

Both men produced tea bags. "It's tea time!"

Konatsu breathed a sigh of relief. "Whew. I thought for a moment that... Nevermind, I'll be right back."

Koruma called out. "Don't forget some teacups too."

Masara added. "Could you bring some sliced lemons?"

Kiima grabbed both men from behind. "And just what the hell do you think you're doing?"

Koruma and Masara glanced at each other as they both knew they were going to be beaten in a few moments. "Uh... Looking for the secret?"

Kiima raised her battle aura in anger. "And you expect to find it here?"

Masara gulped. "They could have dropped it."

Koruma gasped. "They could have thrown it away."

Kiima had had enough. "It's going to start pouring rain soon, so you're stuck in your forms until the storm passes." Kiima smiled at them. "Which means?"

Koruma answered. "We're going to get wet?"

Masara replied, "We need to buy umbrellas?"

Kiima kicked both men out into the street in frustration. "Get back to the Cat Cafe you cowards and FIND THAT MAP! Watch them carefully and wait until it's no longer guarded." She spread her wings and flew into the air.

Konatsu watched the whole incident from the doorway to the restaurant. "Well I've got about an hour to kill." He took to the rooftops and followed the flying girl. In his mind, it was good training to track someone who could fly. Opportunities to follow a creature like this were very rare.

Author's Notes: Please review my story. Please review my story. It makes me feel oh so happy and allows me to bounce all over my yard like Tigger.
The poem Ukyou recited was Robert Frost's "A road less traveled."

Last edited on January 25th, 2007

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