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Phoenix Chronicles Episode Five: An Expertís Guide to Running AwayÖ

Beginning Theme: Thesis of A Cruel Angel.

Mousse went down the hall at Clamp Academy, lugging his school bag, and looked at the floor as he walked. He felt two slender arms reach around him from behind, and heard Ritsuko whisper, "Hey there, you tell her yet?"

"Uh, not yetÖIím still trying to figure out how."

"Hikaru, sometimes, you make the smallest thing into such a big deal. Youíre cute when youíre thinking really hard, though."

"Thanks. Iím trying to be as light as I canÖwithout letting telling herÖwell, you know."

"You know she likes you, Hikaru. Why beat around the bush?"

"I like beating around the bush. Thereís more shade there."

"Yeah, sure there is, Hikaru. The better to hide with."

"Iím not hiding from Ranko. I said I would do this, and I will."

They saw Ranko approaching them. Her eyes were confidently wide open, and she had her hands at her sides. She wore a pink blouse, some blue jeans, and was managing to walk in a pear of black high heels. She had a black, leather purse hanging off her right shoulder, and had her lips covered with a shiny pink.

She slowed as she came towards them, her steps not as confident, and finally stumbled. Mousse rushed to catch her, and caught her in his arms. She looked up at him, and he gave her a concerned gaze. She could literally hear church bells in her head, all of them ringing harmoniously as they resounded the tune of "Here Comes the Bride." She smiled up at him gratefully, but he still had that worried look on his face.

"Ranko, why arenít you in uniform?"

{Is that all you have to say?}Ranko thought angrily, trying hard not to cry.

"Ranko-chan," Ritsuko added worriedly, "You should be in uniform. Your dad might see you."

"Shut up, Ritsuko!" Ranko cried, pushing her way out of Mousseís grasp. Ritsuko bit her lower lip, and nodded. Mousse let go of Ranko without much resistance, and gave her that sympathetic look.

"I donít need your pity, Hikaru."

"Ranko, Iím not pitying you. I never wanted to hurt you either."

"Why canít you like me?"

"I donít even like me, Ranko. How can I like you?"

"You like Yui-san, and Ritsuko! Why canít you like me?"

"Well, itís different. Ranko, Iím sure youíll find someone else, someone who deserves you. I donít think I would be good for anyone right now."

"I love you the way you are, Hikaru. Isnít that enough?"

He put his hands on her shoulders, and told her gently, "Ranko, I just told you. Iím sure, when, youíre older, youíll find someone who can be kind to you, and like you that way."

She pushed herself forward, and kissed him full on the mouth. He groped for her shoulders, but she grabbed his wrists, holding them tightly. She wanted this to last, and while she kissed him, she was sobbing. Ritsuko, seeing Mousse resisting, and the way he tried to back out of Rankoís grasp, almost felt jealous.

She pushed her way out of Mousseís arms, almost falling back. Again, Mousse caught her before she felt to the ground. As she bent down to take off her high heels, she looked up at him, and sobbed, "Donít worry, I wonít be bothering you anymore, Hikaru."

With the heels in hand, she ran off sobbing.

"That went well..."

"You werenít exactly resisting, Hikaru."

"What am I supposed to do, Ritsuko? Push her awayÖShe looked depressed enough." then he looked in the direction that Ranko ran, "I hope sheíll be okay."

"You want to check on her?" Ritsuko said turning away from him, "No oneís stopping you."

"Oh, come on, Ritsuko." he started walking to catch up to her, trying to catch her wrist. Then, she took a napkin out of her jacket pocket, and rubbed the pink lipstick from his mouth. She tossed the napkin away, and kept walking.

She stopped, reached her hand out, offering her it to him. He took it, and she squeezed his hand in her own.

"Can I ask you something, Ritsuko?"

"Sure, Hikaru."

"I handled that pretty badly, didnít I?"

"Any worse, Hikaru, and weíd be in your room by now." she muttered.

"What?"

"Nothing. Hikaru, would you walk me to my next class?"

"Sure, Ritchan."

(2003)

Ranma saw the embossed silver sign on the stone post to which the link fence was attached. Ranma looked at it in disgust, each word echoing menacingly in his head.

It read,

"The Artificial Evolutionary Lab Under Direct Jurisdiction of the U.N."

He walked up the twin steel doors, with Ryoga in tow. There, Yui stood with a clipboard, preparing to leave. She looked up, and saw him.

"You came." She said.

"Only for a moment." He bit out, and then walked past her without so much as a glance. Then, he grabbed the steel handle and pulled the door outward, and then went in, as Yui watched his back in puzzlement. It seemed that her former teacher had found out about her husbandís activities, and now held her as also responsible, as well.

Ranma made his way past the guards by showing his ID card, which showed he had affiliations with the UN. He finally reached the door with a steel plate that read, "Chief Gendou Ikari."

"Why did you conceal the existence of the giant? You knew that Second Impact was going to happen, didnít you?!" Ranma yelled angrily, standing over Gendouís desk, holding a brown leather briefcase, as the chief sat behind the desk, unfazed by the accusations.

"You can talk all you want about how it was just luck that you came back a day before the incident occurred! But how do you explain that you came with all the expeditionís records and findings?! I know for a fact that you brought back more than our we were able recover, Ikari!"

Ranma had opened his briefcase, and threw the file on the giant of light onto Gendouís desk.

"Iím surprised these werenít destroyed." Gendou said casually.

"Sloppy Housework." Ranma bit out, "Iíve looked into your estate as well. Raising and educating a child in this day and age may be expensive, but isnít this a bit much for a civil servant?" he finished, a snarl on his face. Of course, he was referring to the extra funding Gendou had acquired over the past few years. Ranma knew that SEELE had been funding Gendou, now that he was with Yui.

"Excellent work, Professor Saotome. Perhaps you should be teaching economics." Gendou replied, his voice laced with iciness.

"Iím going to go public with the truth behind you, SEELE, Second Impact, and the Dead Sea Scrolls." Ranma yelled. "What youíve done is completely inexcusable!"

"As you wish," Gendou said, standing up, "But before that, there is something I wish to show you."

Moments later, the three men rode in an elevator car that traveled a vertical shaft going downward, several windows lining along the top half of the car.

"Weíre going pretty deep." Ranma said uneasily.

"Worried, already?" Gendou asked, smugly.

"A little, perhaps." Ranma answered simply.

"Oh my God!" Ranma exclaimed as they came out of the shaft in a huge cavern. From the elevator car, which now traveled on a thick rail that streamed across the cavern, Ranma could see a large forest area below, and he couldíve sworn there were points of light in the darkened forest.

"We didnít make this. Someone or something had excavated this cavern, although 89% of it was buried." Gendou told him.

"Then, this was originally a giant sphere?" Ranma supposed.

"Correct. This is what has been consuming the total resources of mankind."

-----------------

"Professor Saotome?" Ranma heard a familiar voice call him, as he stepped through a hatch. It was Naoko Akagi, Ritsukoís mother. She was sitting down at a terminal, along side three ten-foot drives, which were connected to her smaller terminal. She was about 5í9, she only wore make-up on her lips, a dark-red shade of velvet, and her hair was a dark brown, though the highlights in her hair would make even the most color-rich oak envious. She wore a dark blue turtle neck, and a long black skirt that cut off below her knees.

Ranma had known her during his years of teaching at Kyouto University, and even then, he found her very attractive. He was beginning to understand why that jerk, Kuno, would go after younger women if given the chance. He wondered if he was starting to become as lecherous as his father, and that old pervert, Happosai. He shuddered at the thought. What was happening to him? He noticed Gendou looking at him, looking for reaction.

"Dr. Akagi?" he said now, "Youíre here, too?"

"Yes. This is the ideal place for advancing our research on building the ultimate Bio-computer. Iím going to name them the MAGI."

"MAGI," Ranma repeated, "The three wise men of the east." Then, after gathering himself, he asked impatiently, "Is this what you wanted to show me?"

"No, Itís this way." She told him.

"Didnít you have a daughter?" Ranma asked.

"She staying with Dr. Ikari. Now please, this way." She prodded.

The four went to a darkened room, and Ranma heard someone throw a heavy switch, as the lights went on. There, hanging before him, was the head of a glass eyed cyclops that would become Unit 00. Attached to it, was a metallic spine, that was connected to some unseen outlet below. The two large gauntlet hands connected to the spine, only by the large cables.

"Unbelievable," Ranma gasped, his mouth agape. ."Is this the giant of light?" he asked.

"No. In Gehirn we refer to the Second Impact giant as Adam, but this isnít the one." Naoko told him.

"Then, what is this?" Ranma asked.

"This is what man has created from Adam, Eva."

"Eva?" Ranma repeated, suspiciously.

"The operation to revive Adam is referred to as Project E." Gendou told him, then informed him, "This is Eva Unit 00, our system prototype."

"Prototype of what?" Ryoga interjected.

"Saotome, Hibiki, will you join us in creating a new genesis for mankind?" Gendou asked them, his tone severe.

At that point, Ranma felt he had no choice. He, and Ryoga had already dug into

this case deeply enough. Knowing what they knew now, they felt they would not be able

to walk out of here without trouble unless they accepted Gendouís proposal.

--------

Mousse sat in the house, alone again. Actually, Yui told him that Ritsuko was coming over to look in on him. When he told Yui not to worry, she gave him that look,

and he knew he had to accept it. He wished she would trust him enough to leave him by himself.

"Iím here," Ritsuko said as she closed the door behind her.

"Hi, how you doing?" Mousse said, a little too hesitantly.

She dropped herself onto the couch, giving him that perturbed look she had adopted. "Whatís wrong, now?"

"I just wish Yui-san would trust me a little." He groaned.

"She does," Ritsuko told him as a matter of factly.

"Then, why does she need to have you baby-sit me?" Mousse muttered.

"What? I didnít quite hear that." She shouted, putting her hand to her ear.

"Nothing. Itís just that she sees me as a kid." Mousse snapped.

"You are a kid." She told him.

"Thanks, loads. I feel so much better." He told her dryly.

"Youíre welcome." She said, smiling. "Hikaru, if somethingís bothering you, you can talk to me, okay?"

"I know that," he told her simply. "I just wish sheíd think of me as a grown up."

"Ahh, you have a crush on Yui-san, donít you?"

"No. Itís nothing like that." Mousse protested, his face flushing as he felt his cheeks burning.

"Uh-huh, sure." Ritsuko teased him, punching him softly in the shoulder. "You got a crush on Yui. You got a crush on Yui." She chanted, giggling wildly afterward.

Mousse began to tap his foot on the rug, and looked at the ceiling, avoiding a glance at the picture of Yui, Ritsuko, and him, at the beach. Then, he looked to Ritsuko, and couldnít help noticing how pretty she was, her brown hair swinging as she raised head to laugh, her lashes meeting while she closed her eyes, and the way she laughed was almost melodious.

He turned away quickly, blushing even more. He felt as if he was burning up, now. Then she looked at him, and how red his face was, and that made her laugh even harder. Of course, she started calming down once she looked at him more closely. She looked at the way his black hair hung over his ear, and even though he was slender for

a fifteen year old, she still thought he had grown up a lot since he arrived.

Now she was starting to get red, though he didnít notice since he was looking away. Then, she grabbed at his shoulder and turned him to face her. They looked at each other. Mousse was looking into her eyes, and he tried to breath deeply when he felt his heart pounding, and he couldnít help but look over her.

She found herself breathing lightly, and she felt warm, and her own heart started beating. She wondered if she should be looking at him. She moved closer to him, and put her face to his, kissing him. She opened her eyes to see he still had his own open, and put her arms around his neck. She had been with other guys, but they usually started it. Maybe, she felt that she was in control this time, and she always felt that she could talk to him. She felt him put his hands on her shoulders, and she kissed him deeper when she thought he would try to push her away. Much to her relief, he put his arms around her, and the two lied on the couch.

She let go, but only for a moment, gave him a dreamy look, and almost sighed. Then she said, "Do you want to know what itís like to be grown up, Hikaru?"

"I-Iím not sure what you mean." He lied.

She gave him a sardonic look, "Youíre serious."

"Well, no. But-"

"Shut up," she said breathlessly, and kissed him more. Then, she stood up, and

then offered her hand. He took it, and helped himself to stand up. She led him to his room, and closed the door behind them.

---------

Yui looked at the two lying in Mousseís bed. Although, Ritsuko was pressed against him, trying not to fall out of bed. She breathed deeply, and breathed out.

Then angrily, "Wake up!" Yui shouted.

Ritsuko sat up quickly, pulling the sheets to cover her breasts, but Mousse was at least still wearing his jeans. {Maybe he put them on while I was asleep.) she thought.

"Ritsuko," Yui grated, "Get dressed, and join me in the kitchen. Hikaru, youíre grounded for a month."

Mousse sighed knowingly, and nodded. Then, he looked away while Ritsuko got dressed. She giggled, and whispered, "You can peek. After all, itís not like you havenít seen me like this before."

"You better not be peeking at her, young man." He heard Yui shout from the kitchen, making him look away from Ritsuko.

Ritsuko went to the kitchen, and saw Yui sitting on the table, with a chair pulled up in front of her. Ritsuko sighed nervously, and sat down.

"I trusted you," Yui told her, sternly.

"I know." Ritsuko said, expecting Yui to start yelling at her.

"I donít want you to do that again, you understand?" Yui said sternly.

"You mean you wonít kick me out?" Ritsuko asked tentatively.

"Believe me, Iím very tempted, but I prefer for him to be with you, than with those boys he calls his friends." She said, resigned, "Just donít let this happen again, you got me."

"Sure," Ritsuko replied, relieved.

"Címon. Iíll take you home." Yui told her, her voice still angry.

"Can I come tomorrow?" Ritsuko asked.

"No." Yui told her.

----------------

"Well?" Mousse asked as Ritsuko came into his room with her uniform back on.

She sat down on his bed, and put a hand on his shoulder. "Well, she wonít be leaving us alone again."

"Sorry," he told her, looking down.

"Hey, itís not your fault. I started it, so donít look like that."

"Sorry," he told her again.

"Hey, I just said it wasnít your fault. Donít apologize." She snapped.

"Sorry," he told her smiling.

"By the way, you really got the hots for Yui, donít you?" she teased.

"What do you mean by that?" he snapped.

"You were calling her name while we were here earlier."

"I wasnít." he protested.

"Well, at least now you know what itís like to be an adult." She went on.

"Uh, well thatís-"

She kissed him to shut him up, just like he knew she would. They stayed like that until they heard Yui clear her throat.

"Well, gotta go." Ritsuko said quickly, and walked in long strides past Yui. Then, she went to the living room to get her backpack. She left shortly after.

"Wait for me in the car, Ritsuko. Iíll be right there."

"Yes, maíam."

Yui sat on the bed, and Mousse stood up tensely.

"Sit down." She told him.

He sat on the stool next to her, and looked away from her stern face.

"I know youíre a boy, and I know you have certain needs. But I do not want you to fill those needs while my son is sleeping in the next room. Do you understand?"

"Yes."

"Iíve taken charge of you, and you are to listen to my rules while under my roof, do you know that?"

"Yes."

"I donít want you to do that again." She tried to sound angrier.

"Yes."

"Stop staying that."

"Look, I understand what youíre trying to tell me, Yui-san, but youíre not my mother."

"What? Then Iím nothing to you?! Is that it?" she shouted.

"No, thatís not it." He told her calmly.

"Even though youíre not my mother, I still respect you. More than that, in fact, I feel more than that. The only reason I stay here is not so I can get used to Gendou. I stay here because I donít trust him. Because I think he might hurt you. I donít care what he does to me. I stay because Iíd like to stay close to you, even if it means taking a few beatings."

"Hikaru, I-"

"You can ground me all you like, I donít mind. Just promise me youíll be careful with Gendou. Alright?" he asked of her.

She nodded at him, and smiled. "Alright, thenÖI understand."

"Does this mean Iím not grounded?" he asked hopefully.

"Donít push your luck, mister." She laughed, putting a hand on his shoulder.

--------------

Mousse carried the groceries with Ritsuko as they walked on either side of a very pensive Yui. She thought about Shinji, who was staying at her sisterís place. In fact, the three of them were on their way now, to pick him up. At the moment, Yui put her hands on both their shoulders, making Mousse look up at her gladly. He couldnít help wondering what wouldíve happened to him if he hadnít met her, and then forced the thought away.

"Hey Hikaru, you okay?" Ritsuko whispered behind Yuiís back.

"Yeah, why?"

"Because you have that really weird look on your face."

"I do not." he whispered harshly, lifting the bag to adjust his glasses.

"Yeah, you doÖ" she giggled.

"Ritsuko, you shouldnít tease Hikaru so much." Yui chided, drawing her arms back to her. She started walking, and Ritsuko scooted behind her, sticking her tongue out at Mousse, who just stood on the corner.

He wore a slightly dazed look on his face for a moment. Then he heard a slight humming, which began to get louder. He looked sharply to his right, and saw a sleek, red antique sports car barreling down the road. Then he turned to face Ritsuko, and Yui, who were laughing and talking. With no time to think, he dropped the groceries he held, and dashed towards, them. As he did this, he could only think of Yuiís laugh, and Ritsukoís as well. He felt they deserved more than to die like that, and ran towards them.

"Watch out!" he yelled, pushing at both their midsections, and knocking them to the concrete island. The car barely slowed as it hit him, it stopped a block away.Mousse only felt a large bolt of pain in his legs, and the hard concrete jabbing into his back as he landed on the curb, half-in, and half-out in the street.

"HIKARU!!!" Yui screamed, running to his body, mindless of the traffic. She saw his glasses on the ground, mangled, and then him. He was bleeding from the mouth, and ears. She stuffed his glasses into her coat pocket hurriedly, and pulled out her cell phone.

"This is doctor Ikari, Get me an ambulance!" she yelled into it.

Ritsuko reached over Yui, and rubbed her shoulders.

"Damn it, Hikaru! Why did you do that?" Yui whispered angrily, trying to hold back her tears. She moved to pick him up, and heard Ritsuko say, "I donít think you should move him, maíam."

Yui turned to look at Ritsuko sharply, and her eyes were almost burning into the younger girlís. If not for that terrified, sad expression in her eyes, Ritsuko would have stomped off angrily. She knew, however, that this wasnít about her. She stepped closer to Yui, and got ready grab her shoulders if she tried to move Hikaru.

Yui moved to him, anyway, and pulled at his shoulders to place his head on her lap. She held him for a long time, keeping her right hand on his throat, while she held him with the other arm. She didnít even notice his broken glasses digging into her thigh, nor would she mind. He was like this because he wanted her to be safe, and now she swore she would do the same for him.

{When? He could die right now, you know.} she thought, and then held tighter, and yelled, "What is taking that ambulance so long?"

Ritsuko took a handkerchief, and placed it under Mousseís ear, knelt down next to him. Four or five other people just looked on as Yui held Mousse, and kept her hand on his throat, to see if there was still a pulse. She had resisted rocking him, and she was very close to doing that when she heard the ambulance pulling up. She hadnít even noticed their approach.

The paramedics took pulled out a stretcher, and wheeled it next to Mousse. Yui fought the urge to hold onto him, letting him go. They took him from the underarms and feet, and placed him on the stretcher.

"Iím going with him." she told them, making Ritsuko look to her doubtfully.

"Maíam, weíll handle this."

"I said Iím going damn it!" she shouted. Then she turned to Ritsuko, and said, "I will go with Hikaru. Come with us. Once we get to the hospital, I want you to call my sister, and tell her what happened. Iíll have a limo drop you off at home, when Iím sure heíll be all right. Ok?"

Ritsuko nodded, and climbed into the ambulance with Yui. They sat huddled together, and watched as the paramedics hurried to put the IV and oxygen mask on Mousse.

---------------

He lay in bed for a week. When he woke up, he saw Yui sitting by his bedside, looking at him.

"Yui-san, is Ritsuko alright, too?"

"Sheís fineÖHikaru, why did you do that?" she almost pleaded, he could see that stern look on her face, though.

He looked away from her, and muttered, "Because, I couldnít let anything happen to you, or Ritsuko. It doesnít matter what happens to me. Iím lost, anyway. Iím nothing."

"Donít say that, Hikaru, donít ever say that!" she snapped.

"Itís true. I guess Iíve been told that so many times, Iím starting to believe it." he sighed.

She stood out of the chair, by his bedside, and grabbed the guard rails with both hands. Then demanded, "Who? Who has told you that?"

"The people I used to live with used to tell me that all the time."

"Hikaru, that was a long time ago. Iíve tried to be there for you. I know I canít make up for what they did to you, but I try to make you feel at home, donít I?"

He was still looking away from her, "Itís not you, Yui-san."

"Who has been telling you that while youíve been with me?"

This time he did face her, and told her flatly, "GendouÖ"

She felt that distance he put between himself and her when she married Gendou.

"I will never be part of your family, Yui-san. Iím nothing to Shinji, or you. I guess Gendou was right to want me out. Iím just excess luggage. Donít worry, Iíll leave soon. I know youíre happy with Gendou, and Shinji, and Iím just getting in the way of that."

"What are you talking about, Hikaru?"

"Reality. I have to accept it. If I canít, then Iím just being selfish, and Iím not letting you be happy. I canít do that to you, not because of what I want."

She put a hand on his mouth, and shook her head, "No more words." She whispered, and sat down again. "Look Hikaru, I havenít ever felt obligated towards you, and, in fact, Iíve wanted to make you feel at home. Thereís something about you, Hikaru, thatís so important to me, and I donít think you should let the past be your burden. I know what those amazons did to you was horrible, but rather than let those vermin effect the rest of your life, it should make you stronger."

"In a way, that did make me stronger. Thatís why Iíve been able to stay with you this long, despite Gendou. Now, though, I canít make you choose between us. In fact, it wouldíve been better for all of you if that car had killed me."

"Donít say that!"

"Why not? Then, you wouldnít have to worry about me so much, and you could be happy with your family."

"I want to worry about you, donít you get that, Hikaru?"

"Yui-san,"

"I love you, and Gendou. Hikaru, in a lot of ways, you two are alike."

He frowned at that, and muttered, "Thanks,"

"He thinks that everyone hates him, but he doesnít realize that if he could open up, like he did to me, to everyone, he could be a great man."

"Well, Iím glad you feel so great about him."

"Youíll be a great man, too, Hikaru. Thatís why I introduced you to Ritsuko, so you could open up."

"Well, you got mad when we got to know each other."

"I didnít mean like thatÖHikaru, if you opened up, then you could show everyone how great you are. Forget the past, and if you have to remember something, remember all the good things."

"Yes, Yui-san," he whispered, "Including you, and Ritsuko."

"Iím glad to hear that."

"Am I still grounded?"

"No,"

He lay back down, and smiled at her.

"Your punishment is suspended until you get better."

"Oh." He muttered, and then he heard her laugh, holding his shoulder, and he couldíve sworn that he saw the glint of tears in her eyes. He said nothing, though. Yui was smiling again. That was enough for him.

---------------

ContinuedÖ

Ending Theme: Fly me to the MoonÖ

TrailerÖ.

Yui: Good-bye, Hikaru.

Mousse: You canít leave. I just found you.

Yui: Try to get along with Gendou.

Mousse: Iíd rather die.

Gendou: I can arrange that.

Mousse: Shut up! Next, Gendou makes inroads with the SEELE committee, using others

here and there. Yui and Ritsuko leave, so I leave, too. All this, and more on the Phoenix

Chronicles is Here I Go Again, On My Own.

Gendou: Run, boy. Itís probably the only thing youíre good at.

Yui: ÖÖ..