A Ranma ½ fan fiction story
All characters are owned by Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video, and we should all bow down and thank her for creating the Ranmaverse! Oh yeah, a few other companies also hold ownership, but I don't think they'll mind someone borrowing them for non-profit uses, even if Nabiki would.
Chapter One: Here's Ranma! And other matters, of course…
Saotome Genma felt like passing out again as he watched his wife go through another contraction; the amount of pain was staggering. His beautiful Nodoka had even refused drugs to ensure that their son wouldn’t be harmed. Thus, Genma had passed out not less than three times over the past four hours, and his hand was bandaged from where he had tried to hold hers through one of the contractions.
Resolving to be strong and not lose consciousness, Genma took a deep breath. The doctors had said she would not come out of labor for some time yet, and Genma wanted to be there for the birth of his son. It seemed a bit like cheating to him, but Nodoka had insisted on knowing her child’s gender after a routine ultrasound. They had already given their boy a name: Ranma.
Nodoka’s cry of pain as another contraction took hold made Genma’s eyes unfocused slightly as he fought to avoid fainting. ‘Real men do not faint!’ his thoughts yelled at the instinctive action, but it paid little heed. Genma awoke on the floor before he realized that consciousness had left him.
The only thing that made Genma realize how long he was out was the presence of a doctor and nurse at the end of Nodoka’s bed. “Push, Saotome-san!” called the Doctor, and Genma almost returned to the void of unconsciousness. Instead, the martial artist managed to stand and began encouraging his wife.
Seconds passed like hours as their child was born, and Genma had to fight for his consciousness during this most important of events. But he did manage to remain there for his wife.
Finally, after nearly a day and a half in the hospital, Nodoka felt the small weight of her first born son against her breast. Her body exhausted, she could do nothing but hold the sleeping child in absolute happiness.
Nodoka glanced at the snoring figure in the chair next to the bed. Genma looked almost as exhausted as she had once the birth was completed, and now he had been asleep for nearly half an hour. As she was still gazing at her husband and feeling the wonderful, tiny weight on her breast, a nurse spoke to her in a quiet voice.
“Saotome-san, we need to take Ranma to the nursery for a check-up, and you need to rest.”
With a sigh, Nodoka relinquished her son to the careful ministrations of the hospital staff. Honestly, she was utterly exhausted, and she drifted to sleep very quickly.
Nodoka sighed once she’d finally caught the energy-filled two-year-old bundle of trouble that was her son. He only seemed to know three words so far, but he certainly could run. As she attempted to dress the arm-full of boy, she wondered when the “terrible twos” would finally end.
Finally dressed in the tiny gi, Nodoka allowed her son to run into the back yard, squealing wordlessly. Looking into the back yard to where Genma waited in his own gi, she couldn’t suppress a small smile. Ranma was so much like his father.
“Ready to begin training for the day, son?” Genma asked with a grin at the small boy. Ranma responded with a vigorous nod.
Nodoka turned away as the two began to stretch. Almost before he could walk, Ranma had been trying to mimic Genma’s motions while he performed kata, and once he did take his first steps, Genma had insisted on training him. Of course, Nodoka kept an eye on the situation to make sure her husband didn’t try anything too dangerous or rough, but honestly, she worried very little about her son in these training sessions.
Hours of housework and cooking later, Genma and Ranma entered the house. Both were covered in sweat and grass stains, and Nodoka quickly pushed father and son into the bathroom to clean up for dinner. When she returned to kitchen to finish dinner, one thought certainty predominated her mind: Ranma was going to be the best practitioner of the Art the world had ever seen!
Nodoka held her three year old son’s hand as the train slowed to a halt. Her husband sat on the other side of Ranma in his usual white gi, and she wore a silk kimono. Their son was dressed in an outfit that she had chosen for him specifically: a red silk Chinese shirt done up with wooden pegs for buttons along with loose black pants tied at the ankles. Flexible black shoes, almost like slippers, completed the ensemble, and Genma had braided his hair into a short pigtail.
“Nerima station,” called a voice from a speaker in the ceiling of the car, and the small family made ready to leave. This would be the first time they had brought Ranma to visit the Tendo family at their home in Nerima, and Nodoka was excited to be able to show off her son to the Tendos, especially Kimiko.
Upon exiting the train, Genma began to lead his family through the maze of streets that was Nerima. Since Japanese neighborhood streets do not have names and the house numbers are sequenced in the order the homes were built, mother and son had to depend on the balding martial artist’s memory. Luckily for all concerned, Genma’s memory proved to be accurate, and soon, three people announced themselves outside the genkan of the Tendo home.
“Saotome-kun!” called Soun in greeting to his old friend from his position waiting outside the gatehouse, and he wasted no time in pulling the other man into a hug. “It’s been so long!”
“That it has, Tendo-kun,” the other man replied as he returned the show of affection. “But you’ll find the wait was worth it. Let me introduce my son, Ranma.”
Soun released his friend and looked toward Nodoka, or more specifically, at the small three-year-old whose hand she held. The boy returned Soun’s look with one of confidence, and a smile couldn’t help but form on the Tendo patriarch’s face as he saw that the boy was already learning the Art. It was obvious in the way he stood and how his blue-grey eyes never averted from Soun’s gaze.
Nodoka leaned over and spoke to her son. “Ranma,” she said in a bright voice, “This is Tendo-ojisan. Won’t you introduce yourself to him?”
Ranma smiled at his mother and nodded. Following the Japanese politeness that his mother had taught him, Ranma bowed to Soun and said, “How do you do, Tendo-ojisan? I am Saotome Ranma. I am pleased to meet you.”
Tendo could hardly keep his smile from growing as he saw how polite the boy was, and he responded in kind. After completing his introduction to Ranma, Soun beckoned the family of his best friend and training partner into his home. Inside, Genma and Nodoka were lead into the tea room where Kimiko sat with her three daughters behind a set for the tea ceremony. The woman and three girls immediately bowed formally to their guests, and not to fail in politeness, the other family returned their bow.
The three girls and their mother were dressed in formal, silk kimono, each with her hair carefully pulled into the traditional Japanese bun. Their colorful kimono seemed to accentuate both the beauty of the mother and the cuteness of the children. Kasumi had a bright smile on her face as she sat to the left of her mother while Nabiki, being a bit more serious, only smiled slightly while sitting on Kasumi’s left. The youngest of the girls, Akane, sat on her mother’s right, but she seemed a bit afraid of so many new people. The youngest Tendo clung tightly to her mother’s arm after her bow was completed.
Immediate formalities completed, Kimiko smiled brightly and greeted her friends in a more affectionate manner. “Nodoka, Genma; It’s been so long since you’ve visited us.”
Nodoka returned the Tendo matriarch’s smile and said, “I see your daughters have grown quite a bit since I last saw them. How are you, Kasumi? Nabiki? Akane? Do you remember your auntie?”
Kasumi immediately recognized Nodoka and practically flew into an enthusiastic hug with the older woman, “Auntie! I missed you!”
Nabiki also seemed to recognize the Saotome matriarch, but she greeted Nodoka in a more reserved fashion than her older sister. “It is good to see you again, auntie,” she said quietly; she was very well spoken for a four-year-old. “We missed you.”
Unlike her sisters, little Akane only scooted a little closer to her mother. The little girl didn’t know what was going on, and she drew what comfort she could from her mother. Kimiko, noticing Akane’s reluctance to greet Nodoka in a more familiar way, leaned over to comfort her daughter.
“Akane,” she whispered gently into her youngest’s ear. “You don’t need to be afraid of these people. They have been my friends since before Kasumi was born.”
The soothing words seemed to placate the girl, and she relaxed her grip on the older woman’s arm. As Akane relaxed, Nodoka knelt down to look her in the eyes.
“The last time I saw you,” she said with a smile, “was just after you were born. I’m not surprised you don’t remember your auntie.”
Timidly, Akane looked into Nodoka’s eyes. Seeing the tender kindness and sincerity in the older woman’s steady gaze, she slowly said, “Auntie?”
Nodoka’s smile brightened as Akane finally released her mother’s arm, and the older woman pulled the little girl into a gentle hug. Akane returned the hug a moment later, finally relaxing.
While Nodoka was getting reacquainted with his family, Soun stood to the side of the tea room with Genma and Ranma. As the emotional scene unfolded, the Tendo patriarch spoke quietly with his oldest friend and training partner.
“So, Saotome-kun,” he said, just above a whisper. “Have you started teaching your son the Art?”
Genma smiled at the question; it was just like his friend to think of the Art first. “Of course, Tendo-kun. He has great potential and is already well on his way to becoming the heir to the Saotome-style Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu.”
Tendo laughed quietly at his friend’s enthusiasm, knowing that the boy couldn’t possibly be that far along. However, Soun couldn’t contradict Genma’s assessment of the boy’s potential; he had seen it in Ranma’s steady gaze, an amazing amount of confidence in a three-year-old.
As for Ranma, he was quietly watching his mother hug the Tendo sisters, paying no attention to the fathers’ discussion. The three-year-old boy hadn’t met very many other children, and being an only child, he had little to no experience with girls. He did have what his mother and father had taught him, but their lessons seemed to contradict each other.
His mother had told him that girls were equals but opposites; that they were the other half that made a whole. They thought, acted, and, in general, _were_ different from boys, but that was a good thing. A girl could do anything a boy could do, but both boys and girls could inherently do certain things better than the other. His father, on the other hand, taught him that girls were wonderful but fragile beings to be loved and cherished. In his father’s view, a woman should never put herself in the position to be hurt, and a man should never, under any circumstances, harm those of the feminine side of the species. Ranma didn’t know which view was correct, and seeing the three young daughters of the Tendo family was only making him more confused.
The young heir to the Saotome name was so absorbed in his thoughts that he didn’t notice his mother approach. In fact, when she rested a hand gently on his shoulder, the young martial artist leapt clear to the ceiling and clung there for a moment. A hush fell over the room as all eyes tracked the pigtailed boy’s flight and inverted perch, but after a moment, Nodoka burst into laughter, shortly followed by the other occupants of the room.
Looking slightly annoyed, Ranma dropped from where he had been hanging, but his fall to the floor was intercepted by a pair of arms. Nodoka caught her falling son and pulled him into a brief hug, though she was still laughing a bit.
“I’m sorry I scared you, son,” she said, smiling, and Ranma’s annoyance had no chance of survival against his mother’s kind face. He even chuckled a bit himself.
As the laughter finally drew to a close, Nodoka turned to Kimiko and the Tendo sisters and set Ranma down before her.
“Girls,” she began. “I want you to meet my son. Ranma, this is Kimiko-obasan and her daughters: Kasumi, Nabiki, and Akane.”
Ranma immediately bowed to the four women who stood before him and said, formally, “Hello, Kimiko-obasan, Kasumi-san, Nabiki-san, Akane-san. I am Saotome Ranma. I’m pleased to meet you.”
Kimiko smiled as she heard the polite introduction and quickly replied in kind, followed closely by Kasumi’s and Nabiki’s. Akane shyly stayed half hidden behind her mother as she bowed her own greeting, her words an almost unintelligible whisper.
“Well,” said Kimiko to the entire room. “Now that we’ve all been reintroduced, I would like to offer the hospitality of the Tendo home to the Saotome clan. Will you do us the honor of joining us in the tea ceremony?”
With that, Kimiko returned to where she had been sitting when Saotomes had arrived. Understanding the formality of the question, Nodoka quickly sat on the opposite side of the tea set and bowed to her host. “Of course we will join you. The Tendo clan honors us.”
As the others took their places, Kimiko began the ceremony.
“That tea ceremony was excellent, Kimiko-chan,” said Genma as the adults sat around the low table. The ceremony, which had lasted two and a half hours, had indeed been beautiful, but the children had had a hard time appreciating the symbolism involved. Now they were all outside getting to know one another while they left the adults to talk.
“Thank you, Genma-kun,” replied Kimiko. “The fact that you all enjoyed it only makes me happier that I took the time to learn the formal ceremony.”
Choruses of appreciation continued to be directed at Kimiko for her flawless performance of the ancient Japanese tradition, and not a few compliments were paid to Nodoka for her correct responses. The men also thanked their wives quietly for helping them through the ceremony; neither Genma nor Soun knew more than the most basic of tea ceremonies, and it was only through the subtle guidance of their respective mates that they were able to perform the formal ceremony without disrupting the atmosphere. By the end of the complements, both women positively glowed with pride, and everyone around the table was beaming happily.
The group of adults continued to reminisce about times past, and eventually they came to the night when the women had first met. Thinking of this, Soun decided that it was time to bring up Genma and his idea.
“Ladies,” Soun began. “Genma and I have been discussing an idea for a number of years now, and we would like your thoughts on the matter.”
Kimiko and Nodoka, both genuinely curious about what their husbands had been talking about, responded in unison. “Of course, we will help in any way we can.”
“Actually,” Genma took up the conversation for his once training partner, “we feel that we have done you both a disservice by not telling you sooner.”
This only increased the ladies’ apparent curiosity, and Genma continued. “On the night that you first met, Tendo and I went to visit the Master’s grave to pay our respects. While there, we had an idea that we thought inspiration direct from the kami.”
Genma paused for a moment to assess the reactions he was getting from the women. Nodoka was smiling at him, encouragingly, while Kimiko looked quite interested. Judging that this was good, the Tendo patriarch nodded to Genma to continue with his story. “When we were forced to stop the master,” at this point, Genma’s voice took on a tone of sadness, “we divided the Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu into two schools: the Saotome Ryu, specializing in aerial combat, and the Tendo Ryu, specializing in ground combat. We knew that the master wouldn’t want the school divided like that, but he trained each of us in the two separate fighting styles, intending us to train each other once we became masters of our own.”
Genma paused once more, but it was only to take a sip from his tea. The ladies hung on his every word at this point, knowing how important the Art and the Master were to their husbands, at least, the Master before he had degenerated into the greatest hentai the world had ever seen. After contemplating the depths of his tea for a moment, Genma continued. “Since the Master never would have wanted to school divided, we thought of a way to combine it once more.”
Genma took a deep breath before he said the final part of their plan. Soun believed that Genma was as certain as he was that they should not have kept their wives in the dark for so long about this, and he didn’t want either Nodoka or Kimiko to be upset with them. However, he knew that this had to be told, and he would not shirk his duty to his wife. The head of the Tendo clan nodded confidence to his friend. As for the women, every second Genma delayed in telling them the idea seemed an added torture in Soun’s eyes, and they were definitely beginning to tire of his pauses.
“The idea that we have been discussing,” said Genma after another sip of tea, “is to marry Ranma to one of Tendo-kun’s children, and there by recombine the schools in their offspring.”
No one moved for a moment as the wives of the masters of the Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu digested the information Genma had supplied. The silence was palpable. Finally, Nodoka spoke. “Genma,” she said, a bit of the steel of the Saotome blade entering her voice. “I will not have Ranma married against his will. If he chooses a Tendo as his wife, I will happily accept the arrangement, but he will not be forced.”
At the same time, Kimiko spoke to her husband. “Soun, I understand that the Art is important to you, but I will not have my children marrying unwillingly. I would love for Ranma to marry one of our daughters, but I will not allow this wedding to be forced.”
Hearing both statements, Soun responded in kind. “Of course not, ladies,” he said. “We only think that they should be encouraged to marry. We have nothing but the best intentions for the children of both our families.”
“Just remember, husband,” said Kimiko as she fingered the silver cross around her neck. “My bible states that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ I will not accept you’re doing more than encouraging.”
“Genma,” said Nodoka in an equally serious tone. “We may not have the same beliefs, but I agree with Kimiko-chan. You and Soun-kun cannot do more than encourage the children to wed.”
Soun took a deep breath before answering his wife. “Love, I swear to you, upon my honor and that of the Tendo clan, that I will do no more than encourage the marriage.”
Kimiko was happy with this response, knowing how important giri was to her husband, but Nodoka continued to stare at her silent husband. “Genma?” she said in a voice filled with steel.
Genma stared into the depths of his tea as he seemed to wrestle with this internal conflict. Tendo knew that his friend honestly believed that the marriage, if arranged, would be best for Ranma. Soun also knew that Genma thought his children were a wonderful group of girls, and he loved each as though he were their father. Eventually, he looked up, struggling with his words. “No-chan,” Genma said in a voice choked with emotion. “If that is what you think, I can do no less than honor your wishes… upon my honor and that of the Saotome name.”
Nodoka smiled at her husband’s acquiescence, and she said, “Very well, husband. I will accept this arrangement and once more put my support behind you.”
Kimiko, taking Nodoka’s lead, also answered her husband. “I, too, will accept the arranged marriage under that condition. To be honest, I would love to have Ranma for a son.”
Both husbands smiled and embraced their wives. The worst of the discussion was over, and now, the only thoughts needed to be discussed were details.
The house outside Sapporo in Hokkaido was much smaller than the Saotome home in Juuban ward, but Nodoka’s five-year-old son didn’t seem to mind. Genma had been training the boy hard for the past few months, but that was just in preparation for their training journey. While Nodoka hated the idea of losing her son to years of training in the Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu, she had known this type of problem would come to pass.
Nodoka looked out of the kitchen window to see her husband sparring with Ranma, and she almost couldn’t hold back the tears. She did trust Genma, but for Ranma to be away from her for months or even years at a time was almost too much for her to bear. Even with her love and dedication to her husband, she could not, in good conscience, allow him to raise their son alone without some assurances that he would raise him to be a proper Japanese man.
That thought brought her back to the small slip of paper inside her kimono, and she drew it out to read it once more. Reading the contents of the contract, her eyes teared up once more.
Genma had promised the he would raise their son right or that he would commit seppuku for his failure, and now, Nodoka could do no less than honor the contract. The thought of being her husband’s second sent a chill of dread through the traditional Japanese woman, but she knew, with every fiber of her being, that she was bound to fulfill the contract should he fail.
Once Nodoka replaced the letter and dried her eyes, she reflected on the good points of her life and family. Genma’s father had taken him from his mother for the entirety of the man’s childhood, and her husband’s parents had both died during that training trip. His mother never saw him again after the age of five.
Genma had promised her that he would bring Ranma back at least once a year, but Nodoka still feared that what happened to Genma’s father would befall her husband. In the sixth year of Genma’s training trip, the martial artist’s father was killed while trying to save villagers trapped in a collapsed mine. Genma had become emotionally unresponsive until a certain venerable martial arts master had found the boy. Happosai decided to train the boy, but the ancient man flatly refused to bring Genma back to his mother until he judged the boy worthy of being called a disciple of the Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu. And so, Genma’s mother died before he could return to her.
Nodoka pulled herself from thoughts of her husband’s childhood as she noticed the rice about to burn, and she quickly wiped the tears from her eyes before calling her small family into the house for lunch.
The day had finally come; Nodoka watched as Genma and her just barely six-year-old son hefted their packs. Genma had delayed for as long as thought possible before leaving, but there was only so much Genma could teach his heir in a family and home environment. So now, Ranma and Genma were to begin their training journey so that Ranma could become the heir to the Saotome-style Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu in full as well as name.
Nodoka followed her husband and son to the front door of the house, all three walking slowly. Finally, the two martial artists turned to the most important woman in their lives.
“Mom,” said Ranma in a slightly choked voice. “Don’t worry about me. I’ll make you proud of me.”
Nodoka knelt in front of her young son and enveloped him in a tight hug. With a kiss on the forehead, she said, “I know you will, son. I love you.”
Ranma returned his mother’s hug with equal fervor and whispered, “I love you too, Mom.”
Ranma quickly turned and walked outside so that his mother wouldn’t see his tears, and Nodoka couldn’t help but smile as her son tried to be a man. Genma, of course, knew that there was no shame in crying when the situation warranted it, especially if the situation was in private. As such, the man had two trails of salty fluid running down his face as he stepped forward to say good bye to his loving wife.
“Wife,” said Genma as he embraced Nodoka. “No-chan. I will miss you, but I will return with even greater love for you than now.” With that, Genma tenderly kissed his wife, and she melted into his embrace. Time seemed to slow and an eternity passed for each where only the other existed.
Finally, the two separated, and Nodoka, her voice choked and her eyes streaming with tears, said, “Genma, I will miss you, too. And I will always love you. Let my love go with you and strengthen you both.”
With that final tearful good bye, Genma walked to his son where the boy was furiously trying not to cry. The older martial artist placed a hand on his son’s shoulder. “Ranma,” he said. “It’s alright to cry during appropriate times, and leaving your mother for the first time is one of those times.”
Ranma looked up at his father and said, “Dad? I thought crying wasn’t manly.”
Genma smiled. “It’s alright for now, Ranma. Just don’t do it in public.”
Ranma nodded to his father, and the two martial artists began their long walk to the first training ground Genma had chosen.
To be continued.
Author’s notes: Pretty much just a montage from Ranma’s birth to the beginning of his training journey, so not much to say. Enjoy the rewrite. Later.
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