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The Phoenix Chronicles Episode Four: An Expertís Guide to Running AwayÖ

September 13, 1:00 A.M.

The cold wind blew violently in Antarctica, more destructive than any tornado, or hurricane. A heavyset man staggered across the now roofless storage facility where he and his colleagues were only moments ago. The man was known to all as Doctor Katsuragi. He, and his colleagues were expressing their doubts over Gendou Rokubungi shortly before this horrible moment. The wind, which blew like a divine wind, only worsened the stench of the corpses strewn about what used to be Base Antarctica Research Facility. Even the extreme cold did numb his sense of smell, thereby sparing him of the foul stench in the air. He thought, perhaps he deserved it for his part in trying to take mankind to Heavenís door himself, as Gendou had often planned with him. But they were so close, why wasnít Gendou here at this moment? Didnít he also propose the man made "Stairway to Heaven?" So strange that he wasnít here, now. He looked about as he made his way over to a six-foot metal capsule. carrying his only child, a fourteen-year-old daughter named Misato. He had already done so much to his daughter and his wife that he felt something even he thought he was incapable of feeling; remorse. It was a sense that he had abandoned his family. No, it was not a sense. It was knowledge of all heíd done to both of them.

All he could do now was turn the metallic knob, though every bone in his body felt like it was going to break apart at any moment. He put his daughter into the capsule as gently as any man that was bleeding to death. Flying shrapnel had embedded itself in his lungs as he lunged to cover his daughter from the explosion. The shrapnel had gone right through him, and dug into her chest as well, though not as swift in impact, and buffered by the thick fur jacket were now wore. It did however leave a wide cut across her chest, and it would definitely leave a scar. For him, the burning was still searing his lungs as the shrapnel hung out of the open wound, held in tightly by the thick jacket he wore.

Misato looked up at her father, her blue eyes were long with worry. This was the only moment she would ever show concern for him. They both knew that, but she never even had time to grieve him. All she could do now is look up at him, though the blood trickling from her forehead blurred her vision. She could only see his through a screen of red. He said nothing. He only took off his own thick coat, exposing the hanging piece of metal, which jutted from his wound. Then, he placed the coat over her. Her father, however, was not the only thing she saw. It was a giant of light, lanky, save for the jutting shoulders that rose past the rounded head. It turned once, as if searching for something, its eyes glowing red, and its arms partly reaching out as both hands were flexed in a claw-like manner.

"Is that you, daddy?" She managed, before two metallic screens closed, like a blinking eye, quickly to seal her in. That was the last time Misato Katsuragi ever saw her father alive. The hatched was secured, and locked. The father threw himself over the capsule in a useless gesture of protectiveness. Shortly after, a larger explosion claimed his dying body, not leaving anything for Misato to even mourn.

In Space one could see the beautiful blue jewel of the earth, tarnished by the Antarctic Circle burned like live coal. The circle phased flare red, and from that same place where the ice and snow once ruled, a heavenly fire burned upward to the stars, like a pillar. The golden pillar of fire that sank back to the earth, and then, two golden, insect-like wings rose to the stars, as well. When the wings flexed, each wing was revealed to have two shorter branches.

From inside the capsule, she felt a severe jolt. Outward, she thought, towards the ocean. The explosion sounded as if she were near a cannon during firing. It deafened her temporarily, and then she began to frantically feel her way around the capsule, trying to find a way to get out of the darkness. Her hand brushed over a handle, and she quickly grabbed at it. The two steel plates, that sealed her in, opened. She did her best to stand on the rocking capsule, and looked on at the pillar of fire that blazed in the night sky, burning through sheets of Aurora Borealis.

(Kyouto hospital, Delivery Room)

At the same time, Akane lay on the gurney with feet placed on the stirrups, and her legs were open wide. Ranma was watching the doctors, as he held his wifeís hand. All they could do was look to him, and shake their head. He knew that he would lose his wife today. He knew all he would have left of her was their child, which cried as it now came into the world. The doctors held the child as they pulled her out of Akaneís womb.

"You did itÖ" he told her, softly.

"I wanted to name her Achika, but I didnít want to make you mad." She whispered weakly.

"Never mind me. Iím more worried about you." he told her in his most firm voice, though his eyes were brimming with tears.

"Iíll name her Ranko." She said, tiredly.

"Thatís a wonderful name," he lied. He knew that wasnít what she wanted. He knew that she wanted Mousseís daughter. Even now, as he sat by her bedside, loyally, she still loved him. He accepted it now. He would accept anything if it meant he would be able to keep her.

"Iím so tired, Hikaru-chan." She gasped, and managed, "Tell me one last time that you love me." She was almost begging.

He cleared his throat, and then made his voice lighter as he said, "Akane, I still love you. Now, more than ever."

"Hikaru-chan, Iím so sorry. I wanted to stay with you. I never meant to hurt you. I never knew youíd feel so alone. Iím so sorry." She whispered.

"Donít worry about it," Ranma said, even now, as she died, she could not see him. He realized she only saw Mousse as the one who truly protected her, who truly loved her, and that was even more frustrating for Ranma as he sat by his wifeís bedside. The only way Ranma could comfort his wife was to imitate the boy whom he always tried to outdo.

"I love you, Akane." He said in his own voice.

"Is Hikaru-chan still here?" she asked, weak yet desperate.

"Heís looking at our daughter, Akane." Ranma lied.

"Good, I want you to take good care of her. But if something happens to you, can you ask him to take care of her?"

"Yes."

"I love you both." She whispered. Those were her last words. The monitors went flat line. The doctor who delivered Ranko gave the baby to Ranma, and then moved to cover the body of his now-deceased wife.

"Achika Ranko Saotome, that will be her name." Ranma said through the tears in his voice. It finally occurred to him that Mousse never considered Akane a prize. He only loved her as much as he could, until she chose Ranma over him.

Ranma left the hospital, without his newborn daughter. She had to remain for observation. He fought the temptation to go over to Yuiís house. He didnít even know if she would be very sympathetic towards him. Mousse had already won her heart over, and this time, Ranma let it go. He went home to his empty apartment, and cried the whole night.

A week later, Ranma, out of grief, or loneliness, had attempted to establish a romantic relationship with Yui. He thought that maybe there was a chance he could start something with her. He thought, maybe she would see that her staying with Gendou was wrong. He thought that Yui would be the perfect mother for Ranko, and then Mousse would just be sent off to Clamp Academy. That would be fine. That way, Yui would be able to focus her attention on him and Ranko. It would be a life without Mousse to take Yuiís affections. With Ranko there, and Shinji, of course, Yui would have no time to give her attention to Mousse. Eventually, Mousse would become more of a burden to Yui, and Ranma would be able to have a family with her.

He had been walking around in the rain, and had asked his nanny to take care of his daughter. Mousse had still been at school. Ranma saw the light on in Yuiís balcony, and could see her shadow pacing. He took the elevator, and walked through the hall until he got to Yuiís door, and when she opened it, she was only wearing a nightgown.

"Hikaru, where have you been all this-Professor Saotome," she gasped, and closed the door for a moment, and had a robe on when she opened it again. She let him in, and took his coat as he left his shoes at the foyer. "Youíre soaking wet. Why didnít you bring an umbrella?" she asked, genuinely worried. A man his age could easily catch pneumonia.

"I wasnít thinking about it." He admitted, and looked at her.

"What else would you be thinking about in the rain?" she asked, feeling very uncomfortable as he looked over her. He wondered how Mousse felt she wore that. He walked up to her, and took her warm hand into his own.

"YouÖbecause I couldnít think of anyone else." He told her, pulling her close. He felt so arroused, holding her to him like that. "I canít stop thinking of what we could have, Yui."" He bent over to kiss her, and she began to puch on his chest for him to stop, but that only encouraged him further and he kissed her deeper. She dug her nails into his chest, making him grunt, as he backed away.

"Why not?" he asked, frustrated.

"I donít love you." she told him, trying to keep the shakiness out of her voice.

"And yet, you can find it in your heart to care for someone like Gendou?" he asked, a note of anger, and envy in his voice. The, he grabbed her shoulders, and pulled down her robe, whispering, "I love you."

"Donít do thisÖ" she pleaded, trying not to cry. She knew he had lost his wife a short time ago, and she felt as if she were just a replacement. He began to kiss her neck with fervor.

To their surprise, Mousse came in the door. Not being able to see Ranmaís face, he thought Yui and Gendou were busy so he tried to sneak to his room. Yui tore out of Ranmaís grasp and rushed over to grab Mousse by the shoulders.

"Where have you been all this time? Do you realize how worried Iíve been?" she snapped, holding his shoulders.

"Did I interrupt something?" he asked, trying to change the subject, and then saw that Ranma was standing in the living room. He felt relieved it wasnít Gendou.

She looked at Ranma cautiously, and told Mousse, "Listen, donít be embarrassed about that. You didnít interrupt anything." The last word hung in the air with a note of spite. "Thereís nothing between me and the professor. What you should worry about is giving me an explanation, mister." She snapped, making him look away.

"Iíll go home, now." Ranma told them.

Yui watched him leave, and he felt whatever trust she had for him was gone. As much as he hated to admit it, he had lost her.

--------

That same year, I had decided to take a position as a medical official in one of the most badly hit areas. Ranma was living in a floating home in the lake that used to be old Tokyo before the tsunami, caused by Second Impact, hit. That was when an agent, representing the U.N, paid Ranma a visit.

"Itís so hot today, as usual." Said the suited rep.

"I guess youíre still feeling the summer. I canít really stand it myself. It makes everything so much harder." Ranma complained.

"Why donít you move to a taller ship? I canít believe youíre here, but I guess I know why." The rep said, looking over at the cradle by Ranmaís chair.

"My daughter, and I, donít really like the polluted air." Ranma said, his tone dismissive.

"You know, it was really hard finding you out here." The rep told him, handing him a letter.

"They donít have a doctor here. Iím all they have, and thatís better than nothing." Ranma said as he tore the envelope open. He removed the neatly folded letter, and looked over it briefly. "They want to send me to Antarctica? At a time like this?"

"Itís an offshore UN research team. Your help would be more beneficial there, I think, more so than staying here and posing as a doctor. Professor SaotomeÖ."

"Ex-professor," Ranma bit out, "Who recommended me? It doesnít sayÖ"

----------

(2002)

Ranma stood on the bridge of the aircraft carrier Explorer, named for one of the space shuttles which were now considered obsolete. He looked out at the Antarctic Ocean, because that was all that was left of the continent, save for the chunks of ice floating limply in the red waters. Professor Fuyutsuki, one of his older colleagues from the university, stood next to him. He was a tall, lanky man, his silver hair combed back. The both of them wore heavy fur boots, and thick jackets. They had been given orders by the U.N. to investigate the site.

He was relieved that he had left his daughter with Yui. She had been very understanding about his situation. At any rate, Ranma believed that he was in good hands with Yui, and even Mousse. The two seemed inseparable when he left. He was so envious that Mousse had gotten to where he wanted to be. However, the latter years would prove him wrong, and watching the drifts of floating ice in the dying Antarctic Ocean, he wasnít sure if life would be better for anyone.

"This use to be a continent of ice. The entire thing is gone." He nearly groaned.

"Professor Saotome, Fuyutsuki." Called a third voice, making the two turning to face him.

"I donít believe it. Youíre alive?!" Ranma asked Gendou incredulously. "I heard you were with the Katsuragi research expedition."

"Fortunately, I returned to Japan one day before the incident happened." Gendou said almost smugly. Ranma knew that Gendou was controlling his tone from sounding as smug as he usually spoke, although Ranma had no idea why. Gendou always seemed like he had his own agenda.

"Mr. Rokubungi, youíre a very lucky-" Ranma began.

"Excuse me," Gendou interrupted. "But Iíve changed my name." He told the old professor, handing him a small card.

"A post card? Not a business card?" Ranma snickered, taking the card. He looked at the little angel Yui had drawn on it, but it was the message that bothered him.

It said,

"We got Married.

Yui and Gendou Ikari."

Ranma looked up at the other man, "Ikari? Gendou Ikari?!" he almost seethed, and Gendou relished that angry look on Ranmaís face. At least, Gendou thought, he had what others wanted.

"My wife has been asking me to give that for long time. She still quite a fan of yours." Gendou said, in his most civil voice.

"Quite an honorÖConsidering." Ranma replied, trying to keep the bitterness out of his voice. What did Yui see in him? Well, at least she seemed to love Mousse as well, so maybe Gendou wasnít as influential as he thought. "So why isnít Yui on this expedition?"

"Oh, Yui wanted to come, but we have a child to consider, now." Gendou said smugly, trying to give an air of affection to his words.

{You just love to rub that in, donít you?} Ranma thought, and then, "Isnít Yui still looking after that boy, Hikaru?"

"Heís almost of age, and soon weíll send him off to boarding school." Gendou bit out. Ranma resisted smiling at that, but he knew heíd accomplished something.

"There are many ugly rumors about this organization you work for, SEELE or whatever itís called. I donít like the way it bullies the committee." Ranma commented as they climbed the metallic stairs that lead to his office.

"Iím afraid that itís necessary." Gendou replied smugly, "An organization canít have too many Moral dilemmas in this day and age."

"Second Impact may have changed many things, but if this expedition had been composed solely of SEELE personnel, there would have been trouble. Were the rest of us invited for political convenience?" Ranma asked bitterly, turning to face Gendou, who still had that smug look on his face. Gendou said nothing, he knew the round had gone to him.

Gendou had returned to his quarters soon afterward. Ranma was glad to be without his company, at least for the time being. Instead, he went down to the brig cells, where they had placed some of the artifacts recovered from what was left of the base, which floated in the poisoned water.

Explorer had gotten there in the first few days, and they had recovered the catatonic Misato Katsuragi, who now spent her days sitting in a wood chair in the brig with her knees drawn up to her, unmoving, and silently rocking.

Ranma and Fuyutsuki looked in on the girl. Fuyutsuki was looking at a clipboard he had gotten from the captainís quarters after signing a release.

"Who is she?" Ranma asked.

"The only survivor of the research team. Her name is Misato Katsuragi." Fuyutsuki told him.

"Katsuragi? You mean Doctor Katsuragiís daughter?" Ranma asked incredulously.

"Yes, but according to the report, she hasnít said a word in two years." Fuyutsuki informed him.

"How awful." Ranma commented

"She saw hell first hand. The damage to her body will be easy to mend. But the damage to her mind will take much more time." Fuyutsuki added.

"Indeed." Ranma said as they went to his office. The two sat in the small office, looking over the articles which they had recovered from the sunken base. They had found documents that had been placed in an airtight vault. Fortunately, it wasnít very hard to recover.

"The results of this investigation werenít very easy to analyze. This giant of light," Ranma said, holding up a picture of Adam, the giant that destroyed the Antarctic base two years before. "is but one of many mysteries."

Shortly after the expeditionary team returned from Antarctica, the United Nations gave an official declaration that Second Impact had been caused by the crash of a massive meteorite strike on Antarctica. Others knew that Ranma, and Fuyutsuki had suspected those stories were obvious fabrications. SEELE, and a man named Lorenz Kihl were behind the cover up. Ranma became obsessed with finding the truth behind Second Impact, even if his former student, Yui, was involved. He spent a year doing research on the project, of course giving time to his daughter as well.

(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 Fuyutsuki 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?" Fuyutsuki interjected.

"Saotome, Fuyutsuki, 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 Fuyutsuki 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 food 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 she was pressed against him, trying not to fall out of bed. She breathed deeply, and breathed out.

Then, "Wake up!" she shouted, angrily.

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.

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. 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, thenÖ.I understand."

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

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

A month later, Mousse stood at the station, waiting for the train with Ritsuko. They were both nervous. Mousse, who always liked Ritsuko, just didnít know how to act around her, not after that day when Yui found him. He was surprised that Yui let them be together again after that. Yui was around them as much as she could be, and tried not to leave them alone if she could help it. But she let him go to the train station with Ritsuko, and Mousse thanked her.

"So," he told Ritsuko now, "youíre transferring to the Tokyo 2 branch of Clamp, huh?"

"College starts for me next semester, you know that." She told him, then she looked at him, "You want to come with?" she asked.

"I want to, but I canít." he told her hesitantly.

"Come on, youíre such a genius, youíd qualify like that," she told him, snapping her fingers to prove her point.

"Thanks, but I have to take care of Yui-san. I canít leave her alone with Gendou." He told her gravely.

"Yui can take care of herself." she argued.

"I know," he replied.

"She does a good job taking care of you, she should be able to take care of herself." She pressed. She wanted Mousse to come with her, even if to give her company, and Mousse could see that.

"Iíll ride with you to Tokyo 2." He said.

"Really?" She asked.

"Yeah, but Iím coming right back. I donít trust Gendou with Yui. I think he might try to hurt her." He told her, and she could hear the worry, and tenseness in his voice.

"Are you sure you want to come?" she asked hesitantly.

"Youíre my friend. I think I owe you that much." He told her, pulling out the round trip ticket he had gotten while she had gone to the bathroom.

She hugged him, and laughed at his cleverness. She held onto him for a long time, and her reverie was broken when she heard the siren of the approaching train. He stepped aboard with her, and they looked at each other, smiling.

They sat down in a cabin for two. He sat down next to her, and she put her head on his shoulder. He smiled at her, and leaned his head on the cushion behind him. The two saw the robo-waiter scoot up to them It was like a walking mini-fridge, except a lot more slender.

"What would you like?" it asked.

"Well, Iíd like two lime sodas." Mousse told it.

A soda dropped into a vending slot, and Mousse reached into it and picked it out, only to have the second drop onto his fingers.

"Please, be more careful, sir. Trans Japan is not liable for any injury you may receive while on this unit." The machine said from a speaker behind it.

"Thanks for your concern." Mousse said dryly, making Ritsuko giggle.

He settled into his seat, and handed Ritsuko her soda.

"You have such a way with machines, Hikaru-kun." She said, trying not to laugh.

"Whatís so funny?" he asked in mock anger.

"Nothing, nothing." She told him, and moved to open her soda. It started fizzing up the moment she popped a crack in the lid.

"Uh, Ritsuko, I donít think you should open that." He warned, but he was to late because it spurted onto his black turtle-neck, and soaked him thoroughly.

"Iím sorry." She told him.

"Aw, na luk watcha dun, woman," he said, trying to imitate a Scottish accent, and failing miserably.

"Thatís awful," she told him.

"The soda, or the voice?" he asked sarcastically.

"Both." She told him.

"But you havenít even tried the soda." He argued.

"So, why donít you let me?" she asked.

"Here," he told her, handing her his can.

She pushed his hand aside, and kissed him. He reached over, and the armrest dug into his hip.

"Ritsuko," he said from the side of his mouth, "Iím not to comfortable, here."

"Youíre right. Letís go to someplace more private," she said breathlessly, and quickly added, "Uh, to get you cleaned up, I mean."

"And the soda?" Mousse asked suddenly.

"Forget the soda." She said impatiently, pulling him out of the seat.

The two made their way to the bathroom, and Mousse blanched at the thought of Ritsuko going in with him.

"You canít go in with me." He told her nervously.

"Hikaru-kun, why do you think Iím here?"

He shrugged. Then, she hugged him tightly.

"Because I need to get cleaned up too." She said breathlessly.

"Oh." He managed before she pulled him into the bathroom. On the outside, the sign near the knob read, "occupied."

They arrived in Tokyo 2 an hour later, and Mousse helped Ritsuko with her bags, which both weighed a ton.

"Why do you have to carry so much?" he complained.

"A woman has to be prepared for any situation." She told him sternly.

"Okay, so what does that have to do with me getting your luggage?" he asked.

"Well, thatís why Iíd need you, or any other guyÖyou know, so I wonít have to carry it myself." She replied, and he could tell she was trying hard not to laugh.

"That makes me feel so needed." He said dryly.

Then she held him close, and kissed him. "You are needed." She whispered.

"But-"

She put her hand to his lips, as she had seen Yui done from time to time, and shook her head slowly, and whispered, "No more words." She could see him smile behind her lips. It was an understanding smile.

"Iíll get these sir." A baggage carrier interrupted.

"Well, Iíd better go." Mousse told Ritsuko.

"Hikaru, that round-trip ticket is for a week. Couldnít you stay at my dorm for a week?" she asked.

"But, Yui-san is-" and he stopped himself when he saw the hurt look on Ritsukoís face.

"Okay, Iíll stay." He allowed, and she kissed him again. This time, he hugged her back.

He went with her to her dormís front door, and were met by the caretaker, who shoved Mousse away, yelling about how Ritsuko dared to bring a boy to the girlsí dorms, and she should be ashamed of herself. Ritsuko asked her to take care of the bags, and pulled Mousse along.

"Hey, ouch, that hurts." He told her, when he looked to her again, he saw the water hose in his face, and groaned.

"Whyíd you do that?" Mousse groaned in her female form. She hadnít had to worry about the curse since she, Yui, and Ritsuko stopped going to the beach.

"Itís the only way theyíll let you in." Ritsuko told him.

"Well-"

"Itís better than sneaking in through the window."

Mousse groaned again, and followed Ritsuko back to the dorms. "I should have stayed home."

"Then, you wouldnít be having this much fun." Ritsuko laughed, pulling him along.

(2004)

Gendou looked at the files that SEELE kept within the Halls of Knowledge, which were located near Terminal Dogma. He looked through it to see what SEELEís true purpose was. They said they were trying to bring man to heavenís door, whatever that meant. He saw the files regarding a certain "Masaki, Hikaru."

He looked through the file, and it confirmed that Mousse had lived while his parents were believed to be dead. He read further, and what surprised him was a letter in the writing of Gendouís now dead associate, Dr. Katsuragi.

It said,

For SEELE Council Eyes Only,

Members of the council, I have found a host for Gabriel. After extensive research, I have confirmed that a young high school girl, named Achika Masaki, will survive the birth of the being we have code named Gabriel.

I have collected a sample of her blood. It has maintained the same molecular state after exposure to extreme cold, extreme heat, lack of oxygen. The blood has maintained a liquid state after being exposed to temperatures up to 100 Degrees below zero, and has shown the same resilience after being exposed to boiling temperatures as well.

I, therefore, propose that we immunize her with the DNA we have kept in stasis thus far.

Dr. Katsuragi

Gendou took that file and he saw the picture attached to another file. He looked at it, and it had been stamped with the gold insignia of the Clamp Academy Detectives, and inside he saw another picture of Mousse, a file on a report his mother had filled out, and it had been signed, Achika Masaki. Gendou crossed referenced both files, and perceived that SEELE had been planning to use the boy.

"It appears as if the stupid brat isnít as useless as I first thought." He muttered, putting the files under his arm, and leaving the Halls of Knowledge.

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

While Gendou planned his use for Mousse, Yui was in the park with Professor Ranma Saotome. . She was with Shinji that day, Mousse was in school.

"Nothingís changed. Even these days, I still miss the fall. With the power SEELE has, they could end it all. It would be quite easy for them to cause the Third Impact." Ranma complained.

"Seele exists to prevent that." Yui replied warily.

"To Seele, it doesnít matter what we think, one way or the other." He bit out.

"It would be foolish and dangerous to unseal that gate into this world. Yet, my husband and Seele are racing to claim that false Grail. What madness." Yui told him.

"I gave all the materials for such to your husband. Well, itís out of our hands now. Iíll never make the same mistake. I even got a warning from them, telling me they could kill me easily."

"They can kill you, or you can kill one of them. I say, even a lone survivor can destroy and entire race." Yui said.

"I appreciate your concern." Ranma said dryly..

"Before I was found by SEELE, I was drifting. When I joined them, I found my purpose. I did this for Shinjiís and Hikaruís sake."

"I donít like it, Yui, not one bit. These SEELE bastards are dangerous. I donít think you understand that." He said, looking at the lake.

"I do." She told him, kneeling the by the stroller.

"I suppose I should take comfort in that," he replied, looking at her over his shoulder. She was wearing shorts, so he looked at her legs. He stared at them for a long time, and then turned back to look at the lake.

"But I canít. I know what they want. They are trying to bring mankind to heavenís door by their own means." He heard Shinji cooing, and he turned to look at Yui over his shoulder. He saw Shinji reach for her breasts, and he envied Shinji. She saw him from the corner of her eye, and picked Shinji up out of the stroller. She held him, and Ranma turned back to look at the lake.

She stood up, and said, "Professor Saotome, that is precisely why weíre in Gehirn; to prevent their godly act. They are extremely dangerous, and at this point, we canít really challenge them. We have to wait until we become vital to them. Then, we can hinder them." She told him.

"They were planning to use your ward to initiate that. Did you know that?" he asked.

"Yes, I did."

"If he were still their key to heaven, would you end his life now?"

"Of course not. I would let him fulfill his destiny."

"Is it wise to put mankindís fate into the hands of a boy as lost as he is?" Ranma asked her, testing her for reaction.

"Yes. Heís not a bad child." She told him.

"No, heís not. My wife and I knew him, and even though sheís gone now, we both knew he had a good heart."

"Not just that. He shows more promise than the Eva. He truly is a good child, and heíll grow to be a kind man. His heart will shine bright, and though heíll feel alone, heíll still lead everyone on."

"Your true messiah?" Ranma asked, looking at Yuiís face, seeing the love she had in her eyes as Shinji touched her face.

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

Yui had taken Mousse to Gehirn. She showed him around, and let him take a look at the Evangelion Unit A, One, and Zero, all of which were still highly experimental.

He looked at the colossal bio-mechanical Unit One, a single horn jutting out from the forehead, like a single horned devil, and it was the yellow eyes that made him feel as if he should even have been there, as if Yui-san shouldnít have been there, either.

"Youíre going to get into that thing?" Mousse asked.

"Hikaru," Yui told him, " Do you know why I brought you here?"

Mousse shook his head.

"Well, I brought both you and Shinji so you can witness the dawn of a new age, the Age of The Evangelion. And you will see me spearhead this new age."

She got into a skin-tight body-suit. Mousse had to admit that he rather liked seeing her in that suit. If you ever asked him if he had a crush on Yui, he wouldnít deny it, but he would very red by the time he would actually answer. She saw the funny look on his face, looked to see if anyone was around, and then she kissed him, full on the mouth. "Wish me good luck." She whispered. He nodded quickly, and that made her laugh lightly. Then she went through a door that went to the lab.

Shortly after, everyone else entered the room where he and Shinji were. They spent five hours preparing for the Evangelion activation. Professor Saotome, Dr.. Akagi, Ritsukoís mother, and Gendou, as well as dozens of other staff, walked around the lab.

"What are these children doing here?" Saotome asked nervously.

"Dr. Ikari has brought them here." Dr. Akagi replied.

"Ikari, this is not a daycare center. This is an important event." He snapped.

"Iím sorry, Professor. Iím the one who brought them."

"But Yui, today is your experiment."

"Thatís why I brought them, I wanted to show them how bright the future would

be."

A letter from Dr. Naoko Akagi to her daughter,

"Those word proved to be Yuiís last. A freak accident wiped her from this existence, just as I had hoped it would. What a disgusting woman I am. Ritsuko, after that day, your friend, Hikaru ran away, blaming the entire incident on the commander. Also, commander Ikari, himself, changed completely."

Those were the last words he heard from Yui Ikari. According to some of the operatives in the test room, her experiment had gone wrong. As she was absorbed by the Evangelion Unit 1.

That day he left, he argued with Gendou. He had his bags packed to leave. He went to the door.

"Hikaru, where are you going?"

"Away from here, away from you."

"Hikaru, you may find this hard to believe, but I really did love Yui, more than you probably did."

"Love? What the Hell would someone like you know about Love? I should have kept her away from you, that wouldíve shown I love her. She said you would take care of her, and you failed."

"Hikaru, I understand how you may feel, right now. Iím not used to being liked. Actually, Iím quite familiar with hatred. "

"I donít care. Leave me alone."

"Hikaru, you must not run away. You will encounter many things in this life that are unpleasant. But you must do your best to face them, even if it means injuring yourself, but running away is the very worst thing you can do."

Mousse stood there for a moment, contemplating it.

That was until Gendou grabbed his wrist. Mousse hit him to make him let go, and after punching him twice in the jaw, just as this man had done years before, Mousse left.

All the older man could do was let him go, making his resolution, to make the boy suffer, grow stronger.

Gendou had called for Gehirn Intelligence to maintain surveillance on Mousse,

and follow him. The grieving commander sat in his darkened office, and Ranma was standing in front of him, maybe even concerned.

"Where have you been all week? I understand your grief, but you must understand that you no longer belong to yourself." Ranma reminded him.

"I know. Saotome, as of today, we will begin a new project. Iíve already made the arrangements with Chairman Keel." Gendou said bitterly.

"You mean itís approved?" Ranma asked, internally cursing Ikari.

"Yes. The path to becoming one with God, the Human Instrumentality Project."

.

Continued

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

Trailer

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

Mousse: I miss you, Yui-san.

Yui:ÖÖ

Gendou: If I must deal with it, so must you.

Mousse: Shut up! I didnít ask you.

Gendou: And you seem to be doing so well, you little coward. Gaining friends here and

there. Iíll make sure that you are dragged back here, where your suffering began.

Rei: Hi, Hikaru.

Mousse: Who are you?

Rei: Iím your friend, Hikaru.

Gendou: I made her, brat. You owe that much to me.

Mousse: I owe you nothing.

Gendou: Be grateful for what you have boy. Soon, Iíll have that ripped away from you as

as well..

Mousse: Next on Phoenix Chronicles is "Here I go again, on my own."