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A Ranma ½ fan fiction story
by jimra

All characters are owned by Rumiko Takahashi, Shogakukan, Kitty, and Viz Video, and we should all thank her for her ideas.  I can only hope that this story can be an adequate tribute to her greatness.

Chapter Three: Homecoming

After leaving Kuonji Akira, Genma lead Ranma and Ukyou to an area just north of Kyoto famous for its training grounds and martial arts masters.  Genma continued to teach Ukyou and, to a lesser degree, Ranma the Saotome-style Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu, but the greater part of Ranma's training during that time was under the various masters the trio sought out.

While Ukyou was not quite ready for the teachings of the masters, Ranma passed their tests with ease, and the young martial artist excelled in any training given to him.  Genma would occasionally allow Ukyou to learn under one of the masters, but under most circumstances she would train with Genma while Ranma learned under another master.

A normal day would see Ukyou whip up breakfast while Genma evaluated what Ranma had learned from the latest master of some obscure Art, and then Genma would begin training Ukyou while Ranma went to meet with his temporary master.  Sometimes Ranma would return for lunch and sometimes not, but invariably Ranma would return by dusk for dinner with his family.  Occasionally Ranma would be gone for a few days at a time for some intense training, but normally he would be back for supper and a spar with his best friend.

Finally, after nearly nine months of training in northern Kyoto and learning numerous techniques, the three martial artists left the Kyoto area.  Traveling north, Genma lead them toward Sapporo and the Saotome's home away from home.  The Saotome patriarch remembered his promise to Nodoka to bring Ranma back at least once a year, and it had been nearly that long.  In the end, Genma's group arrived at the Saotome home in Sapporo just one week before the anniversary of their leaving.

Ranma was tired, but that wouldn't stop him.  They were only three kilometers from seeing his mother again, and nothing would turn him from his goal.  Even if they'd been traveling since before the sun came up and it was well after nightfall, the Saotome heir was determined to see his mother before he slept.

Trying to shave time off their trip, the small party had deviated from the road, and now they crossed a broad, untended field that had looked smooth from the roadway.  Unfortunately, the field was filled with rocks and hollows ready to trip unwary feet, and Ranma found himself jumping from rocky outcrop to raised patch of ground in an attempt to speed his course among the hollows.  The brown grass was tall enough to reach his chest, and the almost new moon made the night very dark regardless of the spray of twinkling stars covering the sky.  All this together made for a hard, treacherous journey, but to a disciple of the Saotome Ryu and near master of hayabusa do, it was nothing but a simple training exercise.  Still, Ranma concentrated carefully on his path through the fatigue fogging his mind, intent on his goal.

"Ranma," Genma interrupted his son's thoughts.  "Maybe we should stop for the night.  You're mother isn't going anywhere."  The older man was already carrying a sleeping Ukyou, and he most assuredly couldn't want to carry both children for more than a kilometer through this rough terrain.  Seven-year-olds weren't nearly as easy to carry as children of only five or six years, and both of his charges seemed to be in a growth spurt.

However, Ranma stuck out his chin stubbornly as he stopped long enough to look at his father, saying, "No way, Dad.  I can make it!  I'm gonna see Mom tonight!"  With that, the young martial artist turned away and quickened his pace.  Genma sighed; like father like son.  Genma too leapt between spots of level ground, though he did so with a look that showed his thoughts were elsewhere.  The master of the Saotome Ryu had no need to concentrate of such an easy implementation of the hayabusa do.

Ranma was right: he could make it.  Three quarters of an hour later, Ranma lead the little group of exhausted martial artists up the gate of the walled Saotome home in Sapporo.  To Ranma, it was like walking in a dream; through his sleep-fogged mind everything moved in slow motion.  The genkan opened in preternatural silence, and Ranma watched his mother rush forward to envelope him in a big hug.  Weakly, the boy returned the show of affection and whispered, "Tadaima, Okaasan," before sleep finally claimed his young mind.

Tears trickling down her cheeks, Nodoka held her sleeping son in her arms.  He was much bigger than when she'd last seen him, and his build was leaner, stronger, with all the baby fat gone.  But before he'd passed out from exhaustion, she'd seen his beautiful blue-grey eyes were just the same, filled with love and happiness.

She hugged her son's travel-stained form tightly one more time before finally looking up, taking in the rest of the group.  Genma stood only a couple meters away, a few tears squeezing their way out of his eyes even as his mouth curled into a happy smile.  Nodoka walked over to her husband and kissed him; she would have held him as well, but her arms were filled with their son.

Once the kiss was over, Nodoka finally had eyes for things other than her husband and son, and she finally saw the small, sleeping girl Genma held in his arms to mirror her own pose with their son.  She looked questioningly at her husband, but he shook his head slightly.  Nodoka could see in his eyes that he would be happy to explain, but that first they should put the children to bed.

The Saotome matriarch quietly led the way into the small house, her eyes straying from her son only to make certain there was nothing to trip her in her path.  The red-haired woman walked slowly, being careful not to jar her son, up the stairs and into Ranma's room.  Mother set child gently on his bed, and Genma placed the child in his arms next to the seven-year-old boy.  In her sleep, the little girl threw an arm over her best friend and hugged him, a small smile on both children's lips.

After pulling the sheets on the bed gently over the two children, Nodoka silently lead her husband from the room, the man flicking the light off and closing the door as he exited.

Now that the children were in bed, Nodoka gave her husband a proper welcome.  Slipping her arms around his neck, she kissed the man she loved deeply.  Genma's arms slipped gently around her back and held her to him, and she melted into his embrace for what seemed like a happy eternity.  Nodoka sighed as the kiss ended, leaning into her husband.  She'd missed his strong arms and firm chest, and breaking the embrace and leading him to their room, she decided that her questions could wait until morning.  Cheeks coloring slightly, she could not keep her mind off of the double futon in the room, one that had been so empty without him.

Sunlight and a soft futon greeted Saotome Genma as he awoke, and the man sighed in contentment as he realized the previous night had not been a dream.  The elder Saotome man rose leisurely for the first time since leaving on his training trip; Genma had told Ranma that the first week home would be free.  No training, no sparring except for fun, and no sneak attacks; of course, sometime during the week he would have to test his son.  After all, the best sneak attack was when one believed there would be none.

The master bedroom was a sparse affair, Genma noted as he allowed himself to relax on the futon, an indulgence he rarely allowed himself on the road.  Like most Japanese bedrooms, the floor was covered in tatami mats, softer than trying to kneel on bare wood, and due to lack of space, the futon would be folded and set in one of the side panels in the room, similar to the one that now housed his pack.  Finally, seeing no reason to lounge away the whole day, Genma rose.

Since there would be no training for the week, Genma decided to do something he hadn't done since before beginning his training trip with Ranma: he wore something other than a gi.  After pulling on loose black pants, tied at the ankle similar to the type Nodoka bought for Ranma when he wasn't training, and a green tee shirt, Genma walked down stairs where the smell of breakfast cooked by his wife awaited his appreciative nose.

"Good morning, No-chan," Genma said with a smile as he entered the kitchen, and without waiting for a reply he walked up behind his wife and wrapped his arms around her.  Giving her a kiss on the cheek, Genma continued in a happy, satisfied tone, "Breakfast smells wonderful."  The Saotome patriarch enjoyed the feeling of his Nodoka leaning into his chest, but he released her as she moved to check the miso soup.

"Good morning, Gen-chan," Nodoka finally replied as she continued preparations for breakfast, flashing him a beatific smile.  "I'm so glad to have you and Ranma home.  He and Ukyou are playing in the backyard."

Genma looked at his wife strangely for a moment before realizing that Ranma would have introduced his best friend to his mother, but nonetheless, using a voice that blended his best apologetic tone with wry humor, he said, "I guess I have a bit of explaining to do."

"Yes, husband," Nodoka confirmed, though her tone robbed any severity from her words.

Genma proceeded to tell his wife how he had agreed to train Ukyou while the Saotome matriarch finished preparing breakfast, and when he was done, Nodoka, nodding with approval that reached her voice, said, "Well, since she is Ranma's best friend, I definitely approve of your decision.  I'm glad Ranma has someone his own age to travel and train with."

"Thank you, Nodoka," said Genma, smiling.  "I'm glad you approve."

Just then, Ranma and Ukyou rushed into the house in a blur of grass stains and dirty clothes, laughing and running all the way.  As the two children decided that the living room would be a good wrestling arena, Genma quickly plucked Ranma from the ongoing melee while his wife grabbed Ukyou.

"You two are filthy!" said Nodoka in an exasperated voice.  "Genma, would you give them a bath while I finish breakfast?"

Still smiling, Genma nodded and took Ukyou from his wife, and while Nodoka returned to the kitchen, her husband carried his armful of children to the furo.  The elder Saotome male stripped off his charges' clothes and threw them into the laundry basket before herding them into the bathing area.

Washing the children was definitely a challenge as both Ranma and Ukyou wanted to continue their wrestling match, and Genma was switched between human and panda forms several times by the streams of hot and cold water spraying everywhere, the children laughing at his transformations.  Admittedly, his cursed form was better for this than Nodoka's fox form, but it still didn't seem fair that he had to be the one to handle any bathing issues.  Eventually, however, Genma had them both clean and soaking in the hot water of the furo.

'I'm so glad we bought a house with a furo,' the Saotome patriarch thought to himself as he leaned back.  'It would be a lot more trouble to do this at a public bath house.  Besides, changing back would be much more difficult without this'

Finally, after a short while soaking, Genma pulled his charges from the water and dried them, and it was three clean Saotomes and one Kuonji that sat down to have breakfast.

So it went for another five days.  Genma relaxed with Nodoka, both happy just to be together, and Ranma and Ukyou played.  Only twice did Genma break the 'no sneak attack' rule, and both children passed with flying colors.  One time, the children decided to get him back, and the intense sparring match that ensued left all three martial artists lying sweat-soaked and exhausted in the backyard.

Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and the free week Genma had declared ended with an argument.

"Genma, I won't have you taking Ranma back on the road so soon," said Nodoka, her tone promising that no defiance would be tolerated.  "And Ukyou needs a female influence in her life.  She needs to learn how to be a proper young woman."

"But No-chan," Genma started, but his wife cut him off in that same flat voice.  "Don't 'No-chan' me, Genma.  They will stay here for three months.  And, they'll be enrolled in school.  I won't my son or his best friend growing up ignorant and unschooled."

"If they're in school all day, when am I going to train them?" Genma put the fact that this was his wife out of his mind.  He only thought of what was best for his charges, at least in his mind.  Ranma was the heir to the Saotome-style Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu, and he had promised Kuonji-kun that he would train Ukyou to be the best martial artist she could be.  Being enrolled in public schooling would interfere with his ability to teach them, and he could not allow that.  It wasn't as though their schooling had suffered much on the road, and he told his wife as much before she could respond to his previous question.

"Genma," Nodoka answered his first question, her voice rising in annoyance.  "You can afford to give them a three month break from intense training.  On top of that, you have the gall to suggest that your meager lessons on the road measure up to a real school?  You couldn't have given them more than two hours a day to school work by how they behave!  Besides, how will they ever learn to associate with other children if they never have any contact with them?"

The Saotome matriarch sighed, the anger leaving her face in exchange for a mixture of sorrow and deep longing.  "I only want what's best for them, husband, but I also want to have you and Ranma here for a little while.  One week each year is not enough…"

Genma looked down, ashamed.  Here he'd only been thinking of what was best for the children's martial training, and Nodoka was thinking of so much more.  In any case, it was understandable that the Saotome woman would miss her role as wife and mother, and Genma, now understanding her position, relented.

"Alright, No-chan," said Genma, his voice carrying an uncharacteristic amount of emotion, none of it anger.  "We'll stay for three months."

Nodoka smiled, but Genma continued.  "However, I will train them everyday after school, and after three months we must leave again.  Too much of this modern living and soft schooling and they will get weak."

With another sigh, Nodoka agreed to those terms.  "Very well, husband."

A broad smile graced Nodoka's face as she walked the children to their first day at school.  The small primary school where she had enrolled Ranma and Ukyou didn't require a special uniform, and Nodoka had dressed her son in the same black pants and red shirt combination she had picked out so long ago.  Since she hadn't been expecting Ukyou, the Saotome matriarch had had to run out and do some shopping.  For today, Nodoka had dressed her in a blue and white dress similar to her okonomiyaki chef outfit except a bit more lady-like.  Ukyou still wasn't used to wearing anything particularly feminine, but Nodoka had made it her mission to change that.  Even so, the little girl squirmed uncomfortably in the unfamiliar clothing, and she glared enviously at Ranma's outfit every time Ukyou thought the older woman wasn't looking.

For their part, the two seven year olds seemed very enthusiastic about going to school for the first time, beyond Ukyou's outfit; they both skipped along at a rapid pace most of the time.  This forced Nodoka to keep a faster walk than her usual, graceful steps, but she didn't mind, even if it was a chore in a kimono.  The children's exuberance had infected her mood to the point that she was almost skipping herself; perhaps she would if it weren't so undignified.

When the trio reached the school, Nodoka walked Ranma and Ukyou into the office to finish enrolling them.  It took about half an hour to get all of the paperwork filled out, even though she had taken care of most of the enrolling process the previous week, and it required another to explain why a Saotome was enrolling a Kuonji.  Finally, though, with all the red tape negotiated, Nodoka handed Ranma and Ukyou their lunches and left them to the school's care.

After dropping her son and his best friend at school, Nodoka went to do some shopping.  If she timed it properly, she would have just enough time to buy groceries and a few sets of clothes for Ukyou, drop them at home, and make a late lunch for Genma before she needed to pick the children up.

Nodoka was right, for the most part.  She finished her shopping in good order and had just arrived home when the phone rang.

"Hello, Saotome home," she said pleasantly into the receiver.

After a moment, Nodoka's eyes widened, and incredulous, she nearly shouted, "They did WHAT?"

Another moment of listening and she nodded unconsciously as she replied to the caller in a somewhat weak voice.  "Alright, I'll be right there."

Quickly, she put away the perishable items and rushed out of the house.

After being shown to their classroom by the secretary, Ranma and Ukyou were asked to introduce themselves to their classmates.  With a big smile, Ranma said, "I'm Saotome Ranma, and I'm gonna be the best martial artist in the world!"

Ukyou was a little shy when compared with her best friend, her voice quiet but with no less pride.  "My name is Kuonji Ukyou.  I want to be the world's greatest okonomiyaki chef."

After their introduction, the two friends settled into desks near the classroom's windows.  With the excitement of new students in the second-year class, the teacher allowed for a few minutes of talking, but very shortly she settled the class down and got started.

Ranma found himself immediately bored; even when his father gave him school work while they were training, the lessons were never quite this dull.  The young martial artist slowly found his mind wandering away from the lesson on basic mathematics, and it wasn't until the teacher had asked the question for the third time that he heard her.

"Huh?" Ranma asked intelligently, and the teacher repeated herself in an irritated tone.  "What is thirteen minus seven, Saotome-san?"

"Ummm," Ranma thought back to the lessons his father taught him on math.

Genma's lessons always revolved around fighting in some way or another.  Things like 'If I'm facing five opponents and two of them run away, how many am I still facing?' or 'If you throw fifty two punches at your opponent's gut and thirty eight at your opponent's head, but you miss on twenty three, how many blows struck your opponent?' and the always popular 'If I kick my first opponent fourteen times and punch him twenty times, and then I punch my second opponent forty five times and land three jump kicks to his head, how many total blows have I delivered?'.

Finally, after mentally facing thirteen enemies and beating the crap out of seven of them, Ranma answered, "I'm left facing six."

With that kind of answer, the teacher looked at the Saotome heir quizzically and the class laughed.  After the moment it took the teacher to get the class settled down, she turned back to Ranma and nodded.  "That answer is a little unconventional, but you're right.  I'd like to speak to you and Kuonji-san after school for a little while, Saotome-san."

And so class continued, Ranma's strange answer not really understood by anyone but Ukyou — since she'd had the same lessons from Ranma's father — and largely forgotten.  Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity for Ranma of boring lectures that had nothing to do with martial arts or fighting, the teacher finally announced the beginning of recess.

Once the teacher had lead the line of quiet seven-year-olds out onto the playground, the shackles of silence and learning fell from the children.  Laughing and running, the class took to the playground.

Ranma and Ukyou walked between groups of children playing various games.  Some were playing on the slide, and a good size group was playing tag.  Still another group had gathered to play foursquare on the blacktop, but none of the games seemed like any fun to the two budding martial artists.

In the end, they settled on a small area of the playground without any students.  Without saying a word, the two friends dropped into combat stances, and the sparring match began.

Ranma leapt back toward the school to a height of three meters before rebounding at Ukyou, but the girl was ready.  She rolled under Ranma's attack and swept her leg back trying to catch him as he reached the ground.

Ukyou's counterattack was partially successful as she felt her heel hit Ranma's ankle, but instead of the desired effect of landing Ranma flat on his back, the Saotome heir used the momentum of the sweep to push himself through a series of handsprings, landing to face off against his best friend again.

Now, one must understand that while Ranma and Ukyou were moving at normal speeds for sparring with each other, the teacher and other students had never seen anything like this display of martial prowess… at least not from ones so young.  All play in the yard ended as awestruck students and teacher alike stood gaping at the performance of the two pint-sized martial artists.  Of course, the two combatants were completely oblivious to their growing, wide-eyed audience.

Now, with the warm-up round complete, the two combatants took the fight up another notch.  Simultaneously, Ranma and Ukyou rushed forward, each letting loose with a blindingly fast series of punches, kicks, and strikes, but neither getting through the defense of the other.  Strikes, blocks, and counterattacks blazed through the air such that the teacher couldn't follow all the moves, but after a moment the two leapt back.

Thinking the fight must be done, the teacher began to move forward, but before she could take more than two steps, the young martial artists leapt into the air.  Genma would have applauded Ranma and Ukyou's use of hayabusa do as the two hung in the air for a full seven seconds, trading blows at breakneck speed, before they even began falling from the five meter height of their jump.

As the two friends continued their sparring match, the fight moved slowly away from its origin, and Ranma and Ukyou were now trading blows in the middle of the blacktop.  Unexpectedly, Ukyou leapt to rebound off of one of the basketball goals, but Ranma, not to be out done, mirrored the move with the other.  Once again the two traded blows in midair, this time at seven meters up, but this time Ukyou managed to get a punch through Ranma's guard.  As Ranma began to fall, the little okonomiyaki chef managed to get a quick jump off of his body and then followed her friend down, a kick leading her way.

Ranma only just barely managed to roll out of the way of his friend's drop kick, and Ukyou found herself a little off balance in the center of a meter wide, half meter deep crater in the blacktop.  However, Ranma wasn't about to give Ukyou time to recover.  The Saotome heir rolled to his feet and immediately leapt at his friend in a fierce jump kick.

If anyone in the crowd could sense ki, they would have known that Ranma was channeling his ki into his foot.  Luckily for her, Ukyou looked up in time to see Ranma bearing down on her using the hayabusa no tsume technique, and the chef threw herself out of the way just in time, rolling back to her feet.  However, the basketball goal wasn't so lucky.  Ranma's technique sliced cleanly through the metal shaft holding the goal, and as Ranma recovered from his ki-enhanced strike, the goal fell onto the blacktop with a crash.

The non-martial artists watching couldn't believe their eyes, but Ranma and Ukyou wouldn't be distracted by something as small as a destroyed basketball goal.  The two disciples of Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu were already trading blows again, this time near the slide; by the time the spectators returned their attention to the fight, Ukyou was using the hayabusa no tsume herself in a knife-hand strike.  Ranma dodged the blow, but the ladder of the slide, along with its supports, were sliced cleanly in two.  Seeing the large piece of metal falling his way, Ranma did a back flip and kicked the slide away.  A few students burst into tears over losing their favorite piece of playground equipment, but the combatants didn't notice.  They only remembered each other.

Blow after blow was traded, and eventually, Ranma had Ukyou backed against the side of the school.  Knowing that she would easily dodge if he rushed forward or leapt to attack, Ranma decided to try his not-quite-mastered hayabusa no hagai.  Taking a quick breath, Ranma focused his ki into his right fist and drew it back.

"Hey!" Ukyou yelled angrily, the first time either of them had spoken since before the sparring match had begun.  "No fair!  I haven't learned that one yet!"

Heedless of his friend's anger, Ranma yelled, "Hayabusa no Hagai!" as he punched with all his might.

When Ranma didn't answer her, Ukyou knew he was serious about using the technique, and just as her friend attacked, the Kuonji heir threw herself to the side, once again using the dodging techniques from the Musabetsu Kakuto Ryu to return to her feet and face her opponent, but when she saw that Ranma hadn't turned toward her, she paused.

Following Ranma's frozen gaze, Ukyou turned to look at the wall, and her mouth fell open.  Where Ranma's attack hit, there was now a meter wide hole in the wall.  The brick wall, including bent steel support beams that had once reinforced the wall.

Nodoka arrived at the school just in time to see her son back Ukyou up against the wall of the school, but for a moment, the Saotome matriarch could only stare.  Numerous small and a couple not so small craters littered the blacktop and one of the basketball goals lay on the ground nearby.  Also, a twisted hunk of metal lay where Nodoka was sure a slide had stood that morning.  But then, the woman's attention was grabbed by a loud crash.

Turning back to her son and his friend, Nodoka's mouth fell open and her eyes widened.  Where a moment before a solid wall stood, there was now a meter wide hole with a small pile of rubble, and it was obvious to the mother that Ranma had made it.  Both her son and Ukyou looked amazed at what Ranma had done, but while Nodoka might have been frozen in place like everyone else in the schoolyard, the extravagance of the damage caused by Ranma and Ukyou forced her into action.

Rushing forward, Nodoka grabbed her son by the back of his collar and quickly dragged him over to Ukyou; once there, she unceremoniously pick up both her son and his friend.  Walking back through the stunned crowd, the Saotome matriarch bowed to the shell-shocked teacher and said a quick "gomen-nasai" before hurrying toward home.  As she left, a small piece of brick fell from the top of the hole Ranma's hayabusa no hagai had created onto the small pile rubble with an audible 'clink', and the teacher, still wide eyed and dumb-struck, sank to her knees.


To be continued.

Author's notes: Well, this chapter was actually unintentional and not exactly covered by my outline.  This would have been about half of my original chapter 3, but this seemed like such a good stopping point, I decided to delay the actual outlined events until chapter 4.

Either way, this gave me a chance to practice writing action, so I want to know how I did.  Please tell me if you like my style of action in your reviews.

Thanks.  Until later.  Ja.

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