Continuing the reposting of my old fanfic--I know some of you don't care for Ranma 1/2, but I'll eventually get to the other goodies.
This story takes place around the end of Volume 36, so Nodoka is aware of her son's situation and lives at the Tendou Dojo, but some anime bits are mixed in.
by Scott K. Jamison
(Note: Ranma 1/2 and the associated characters created by Rumiko
Takahashi, no infringement intended.)
An inarticulate scream of rage ripped through the air, and Nodoka dropped a stitch. Ranma was fighting again. She idly wondered who it was as she took out the thread and began again. He had so many enemies and rivals, and four fiancees. Not that it wasn't good for a man to be active and attractive to women, but the situation had gotten a bit ridiculously out of proportion.
The combatants leapt into view, and the other one proved to be Happosai. Nodoka frowned. In a way, she blamed the perverted master's warped priorities for heightening her husband's character flaws, which had in turn led to many of Ranma's problems. It was a miracle the boy had turned out as well as he had.
Today's quarrel appeared to be about something called a "Nanban Mirror." It was a shiny object they were snatching back and forth like children with a ball. From the disjointed comments she was able to hear, Nodoka gathered that this was something the old scoundrel had stolen in the past, and Ranma wanted it to right some wrong.
The fracas continued for several minutes, at the end of which the mirror slipped between their fingers and shattered on the ground. The two men were about to continue their fight, but Nodoka had had enough. She put down her sewing and stood up.
"Stop. fighting. now." she commanded. They stopped.
"But Mom, he--"
"Mrs. Saotome, this brat--"
"Enough! You've already destroyed what you were fighting over. There's no point in continuing. Ranma, surely you have homework to do?"
"No buts, young man. As for you, Mis-ter Happosai, isn't there anything...respectable...you should be doing right now?"
"Respectable? I'm an old man! I should get respect just for breathing!"
"Very well. Practice breathing. Quietly." She fixed him with a cold stare until Happosai backed out of sight. Nodoka was one of the few women he wouldn't cross if he could help it.
Ranma's mother picked up an empty box. She should take care of that broken glass before someone got cut.
Apparently the mirror had been broken before, since several of the pieces were held toghether by transparent tape. Nodoka looked at herself in one of the fragments. There was a curiously deep feeling to the reflection, perhaps due to some unique property of the glass.
Nodoka found the effect pleasing. There were a number of
reasonably large pieces left, and the mirror's trim was attractive and largely intact. She decided not to waste this opportunity. Now where was that "how-to" book?
to be continued...now!
[Dialogue in [ ] is in Chinese.]
by Scott K. Jamison
Chapter One: Shampoo
There was the usual mid-afternoon lull at the Nekohanten, so
Shampoo was able to respond immediately when the postman came by. Almost all deliveries to this address were restaurant supplies or official Amazon documents for Cologne, and Mousse kept a post office box for his private correspondence (though Shampoo couldn't imagine who he wrote to.) So it came as a pleasant surprise when there was a package addressed directly to her.
The name on the return label was unfamiliar to her, so she
sounded it out. "Sa-otome No-do-ka? Oh, Ranma's mother! She send
Shampoo gift! Mother-in-law like Shampoo best!"
Sadly, the note inside suggested otherwise. There was a gift for "each of Ranma's female friends." Evidently Mrs. Saotome had learned from the gift box fiasco. All that trouble over almost nothing! That loudmouth Nabiki had a lot to answer for.
Shampoo finished unwrapping the gift. It was a small mirrored brooch, with trim that seemed somehow familiar. The note said it was made from what was left of the Nanban Mirror. That caught her attention. The Mirror had once been a treasure of the Amazons, until Happosai stole it decades before. She'd only seen the mirror once, when she and Ranma and a few others had taken a confusing trip to the past. After that, the Nanban had been shattered, and Shampoo had given it no further thought.
But here a part of it was now, back in the hand of a rightful possessor. She wondered if the Mirror still had its power over time and space.
The note concluded with a wish, "that each of you will find
happiness in your future."
Shampoo knew what happiness she wanted in her future. [Take me to ten years from now, when I'm married to Ranma.] A tear of anticipated joy rolled down her cheek and on to the brooch.
When her vision cleared, Shampoo found herself standing in an empty lot, concrete piping to her left. She was confused at first, but soon inferred from a familiar building that she was where the Nekohanten *had* been. She had actually traveled through time!
[Of course! If I married Ranma, we went back to Joketsuzoku, so naturally the Nekohanten closed! Stupid stupid stupid! I should have specified I wanted to be where I would be now!] She flinched; even in Chinese, the twisted tenses were jarring.
In order to not fully waste her trip, Shampoo decided to check out some of her old haunts. Perhaps someone would remember her and tell her how she'd finally won.
Not Ukyou though. Ucchan's had been replaced by a hamburger
franchise, and none of the workers knew what had happened to the previous owner.
Shampoo passed by the Kunou mansion. It was dark and silent, and no one answered her knock. Dr. Tofu's office was gone, replaced by a condominium. A sick feeling began in the pit of her stomach.
[The doctor was only, what, forty, tops? He should still be
There was one place left to look for the familiar. Shampoo was a little afraid. Mr. Tendou and his family had put so much effort in trying to marry Ranma to Akane, and she'd beaten out their daughter. Still, Kasumi never held a grudge, and if she were still around, she'd at least be civil to Shampoo.
[And maybe Ryouga finally got over his shyness, hm?]
The sound of "kiai!" in chorus greeted Shampoo as she approached the dojo. She started feeling better; at least this place still was being put to its proper use.
Shampoo decided against her usual crashing entrance. This called for cat-style stealth. She scaled the wall, and found a tree to perch in, taller than she remembered it.
There were two figures practicing kata in the back yard, and
Shampoo's eyes widened when she saw the smaller one. It was a boy of five or six, who was the very image of Ranma, right down to the pigtail. Obviously Ranma's son. The taller, then, was...Ranma?
Yes, it was he, though his features had harshened somewhat with maturity. Ranma's hair was cropped close, military-style, and as if to compensate, he'd grown a large mustache. It made him look older than the about-thirty he'd now be. He was wearing a plain white gi, and Shampoo was reminded of Genma's training of Ranma.
Apparently he and the Tendou family had parted on better terms than she'd thought, if he was back for a visit. So her trip wasn't wasted after all.
"Husband!" came a voice from the house.
"What is it, Shampoo?" asked Ranma, not pausing.
A woman came out into the yard. Shampoo stared at herself.
She'd cut her hair short, and put on some weight, but yes, it was her. She was wearing a calf-length dress and apron that looked like Kasumi's.
"Sasuke here. More paperwork from Foundation."
"Does it never end? Okay, kid, take ten."
Foundation? Ranma doing paperwork?
Once he wasn't practicing, Ranma's shoulders slumped, and he
moved like an old man.
"Mommy!" shouted the little boy, as he ran into the woman's arms.
"Shampoo love Tenma," she cooed as she hugged him. Were those tears coming from her eyes? The younger Shampoo was confused. Why was herself crying? She had to know.
Shampoo climbed down the tree and softly made her way over to her future counterpart. Tenma saw her first.
"Mommy!" Then confused, he looked back at the Shampoo holding him. "Mommy?"
Shampoo-Future looked at Shampoo-Past. "Is all right. Shampoo think this old friend from long ago. Nihao, little sister."
Shampoo made a formal Amazon salute. "Nihao, elder sister."
[Do you mind if we speak in Chinese? Our Japanese has never been that good, and I seldom hear the mother tongue anymore.]
[But...Didn't we go back to Joketsuzoku once we married Ranma? Why does Ranma act so old? And why were you crying?]
[So many questions! Curious like the cat.] She smiled, though her eyes were sad.
"Mommy, why are you talking all sing-songy? I can't understand you."
"It Chinese, Tenma. From where Shampoo grow up. She not even start use Japanese until meet Daddy."
"Can I learn Chinese? It sounds neat!"
"Maybe. We see what Daddy think. Now can go over play with
swing? Shampoo have grownup talk."
"Okay! Bye, pretty lady!" He scrambled over to a swing set.
Shampoo beamed a smile to him.
[I see you wear a piece of the Nanban Mirror. That is how you got here?]
[Yes. But everything's changed so much! What happened? And why don't you call yourself Mommy when you talk to Tenma?]
[Many, many things happened. But I do not call myself Mommy
because I was not the boy's birth mother. Akane was.]
[Akane? But then--]
[It all began when Ranma and Akane decided to elope. They staged a really big fight in the morning, stalked off in different directions, and went by circle routes over to Roppongi where they got a judge to give them a quickie wedding. The first any of us knew about it was three days later when they showed up with the marriage certificate and goofy smiles plastered on their faces.]
[They weren't fighting anymore?]
[Oh, constantly. But they'd also started to fight together.
Whupped us all pretty good. Three or four times, till everyone got the message. Great-Grandmother was *not* pleased.]
[What did she do?]
[Kicked me out of the Amazon tribe and moved back to China with Rin Rin and Ran Ran. That hurt a lot, but frankly I think she was going a little senile there towards the end. I mean, exploding ramen?] The older Shampoo shook her head ruefully.
[But without the Amazon laws...]
[I wasn't an Amazon anymore. I was like the walking dead for a couple of weeks, and Mousse took care of me. After that, we finally talked things through. I finally understood why he wanted to marry me, and he finally understood why I couldn't marry him. We kept the Nekohanten going for a little while, but I convinced him he should take up his magic career again. They even gave him a TV special in America!]
[But you didn't go with him?]
[No. I moved in with Ukyou for a couple of years and added ramen to her place's menu. We did all right for ourselves, but Ukyou got more into the Zen of cooking over time, and when Tenma was born she went on a "training voyage." I couldn't run Ucchan's by myself, so she rented out the building and I found a job as night manager at a new Chinese restaurant , Yuh Ki's, down in Shinjuku.]
[I saw the burger joint. But what about Ranma?]
[Well, Akane's sister Kasumi married Dr. Tofu, no surprise there, and Nabiki actually got Kunou and his crazy sister into therapy as part of her price for marrying him. Apparently that Prozac stuff works wonders.]
[For their fifth anniversary, Ranma and Akane invited the whole family to Yuh Ki's for a party. Just as everyone was leaving, Ryouga showed up and got into a fight with Ranma. While they were fighting and I was trying to break it up without losing my job...] A tear glistened in her eye.
[Something bad happened, didn't it?] Shampoo finished.
[Yes. Maybe the truck driver had been on the road too long with too little sleep; maybe his brakes were faulty; maybe it was just bad luck. But he lost control of his eighteen-wheeler. The Saotomes, the Tendous, the Kunous, the Tofus...all gone in an instant.]
[Souls of the Ancestors! All of them?] Even though Shampoo had considered many of the people named enemies or annoyances, she felt sorrow at their passing. To die in battle, or disease, or old age, these things she understood, but so many lives wasted in a moment!
[Only Tenma survived. Akane sacrificed her life to save
his...She almost made it.] Shampoo nodded, a hard lump in her throat. She would have done the same, she hoped.
[Ranma and Ryouga went to prison for what they did to the
driver.] She shuddered. [He asked me to take care of Tenma, so I did. I was the only one left...]
"Lookit, Mommy! Lookit me!" shouted Tenma, who'd climed to the top of the swings.
"Tenma brave! But be careful!" replied the older Shampoo,
keeping an eye on the boy.
[After a while, Ranma and Ryouga did something for the government to earn a pardon. Ranma won't talk about it, and Ryouga didn't come back, maybe dead, maybe just lost. When he came back, Ranma asked me to marry him, to be a mother to Tenma. He said the one thing he never forgave his father for was depriving him of his mother all those years. I agreed, since all we had left was each other.]
For a moment there was silence, broken only by the squeaking of the swing.
[As sole survivor, Ranma inherited almost everything from the families. We don't want for material wealth. He put a lot of money into a foundation to help people who lose their families to accidents. When he isn't running that, he trains Tenma.] She stopped for a moment. [And I take care of them. It is not a bad life, but I would trade it all to have things back the way they were.]
[Even if it meant never marrying Ranma?]
[Even if, little sister. I achieved my goal, but it was not
worth the price we both had to pay. Travel carefully, Shampoo. The
mirror shows only possibilities. You needn't end up here.] She stood.
"Tenma come! Bedtime!" The boy protested, but slowly made his way toward the house. It had grown quite dark.
[Farewell, Shampoo.] The younger gave an Amazon salute, then whispered, "Take Shampoo back." Her tear of sorrow struck the brooch and she vanished.
Ranma stuck his head out the door. "Did we have a Chinese
visitor? I thought I heard voices."
"Shampoo just talk to self. Remember when young."
To Be Continued
(Not what you were expecting, was it?)
by Scott K. Jamison
Chapter Two: Kodachi
Kodachi sang a happy tune as she tended her roses. To the
untrained listener, it would be indistinguishable from her usual
high-pitched laugh, but be assured, the tune was there. Some people
might also have thought a black sundress odd. She managed to pull it off.
A gentle throat clearing let her know that Sasuke had entered the room. She busied herself with the flowers for a long moment. It was ritual; a master did not hurry to a servant's call. At last she turned, and found the ninja holding a box out to her.
"A package for you, Mistress. From the mother of Master Saotome."
"Have you checked it for boobytraps?"
"As always, Mistress. None were found. It is apparently an
actual gift, and not a plot by one of your rivals."
Kodachi took the box. "You are dismissed."
"Thank you, Mistress." Sasuke bowed and backed out
respectfully. Pity there didn't seem to be servants of his loyalty but greater competence.
She decided that the greenhouse was not the appropriate place to open a present, and retired to her receiving room. She had a ritual for opening packages; it took a bit more time, but form was important. One of the corners tore as she removed the paper, and that vexed her, so she carefully cut away the offending bit with scissors.
The brooch struck Kodachi as rather tacky. Obviously homemade, and from recycled materials at that! "Each of Ranma's female friends..." She supposed that meant the annoying pigtailed girl too. She'd never quite fathomed what the minx's relationship with Ranma was, or why she was so dead set against Kodachi's suit. Tatewaki raved about Ranma using sorcery to possess her soul, but that was probably just poetic metaphor for something he'd misheard in the first place. Still, she owed the girl badly, the only one who'd ever truly defeated her.
Strangely enough, the other fiancees seemed to get along fine with the pigtailed girl, especially that peasant Akane. Maybe that rumor she'd heard about them being cousins was true.
The Nanban Mirror...something about that name tickled at her
The door slid open abruptly, and Kodachi's father entered, the palm tree on his head bobbing slightly.
"Aloha! How is my favorite wahini today?" he said, as he
nervously checked under the furniture.
"Fine, Father. What are you looking for?"
"Mene--I mean money. Never enough spare change. Wahaha!"
"Hoohohoo! By the way, have you heard of something called a
He frowned in thought. "I believe it's a Chinese legend,
something my father mentioned. Something about the Saga of Lo Shon. We have the book in the library. Aloha!"
Principal Kunou left as he entered, muttering something under his breath. Much as she liked her father, there was something odd about the man.
The library did indeed have the book she was looking for
(Grandfather had been as big on China as Father was on Hawaii) so she carefully rearranged the shelf to look proper and brought the book to the receiving room.
The Saga was of course in Chinese, and poetry to boot. The
latter made it more her brother's province, but she flipped through the pages till the proper passage caught her eye. Apparently Lo Shon, greatest of the Amazon warriors ("Lotion". Of course.) had been given the Nan-Ban for saving the Empress (before the time of the First Emperor? Confusing.) from some monster. The next passage was difficult, something about "tears of time," but the gist of it was that Lo Shon had used the Mirror to see the future of her village and protect it from harm. There were no further references.
So somehow it had gotten from Shampoo's village to Mrs. Saotome, who'd turned it into junk jewelry. The note implied it had already been broken, though, so she couldn't really be blamed. Kodachi decided the brooch merited closer examination.
She was startled to find Shampoo staring back at her.
"What th--" she dropped the brooch, but quickly regained her
grasp before it hit the floor.
Shampoo was still visible, but no longer looking into the
brooch. Instead she was gazing off and smiling as a tear splashed on the glass. Though she could not hear the words, Kodachi immediately knew what the other girl had asked. The surface of the glass rippled, then clouded.
Several minutes crawled by, yet Kodachi knew that she should
stand by. She did some stretching exercises to fill the time, then began juggling clubs in increasingly intricate patterns. At last the glass cleared, and Kodachi saw Shampoo's face again. This time the Chinese girl was not smiling. Indeed, she looked as though she'd lost something dear to her.
Kodachi felt a moment of schadenfreude. "The little tramp
couldn't keep him, eh? Well, I'll do better. The Black Rose always
wins." She took up the brooch.
"Mirror! You will take me ten years into the future, when I am married to my faithful Lord Ranma!"
The Nanban Mirror had never been known to care about the quality of tears used to activate it. Crocodile tears worked fine.
Not that Kodachi was sure of that at first. Her receiving room had changed very little, and she was about to toss the brooch aside as useless when she noticed that she could see her breath. Then the cold made itself felt through her light clothing.
It must be winter, and Tatewaki had forgotten to pay the heating bill. No, she could hear the muted hum of air conditioners. Perhaps he was living out one of his chambara movie fantasies again. Certainly her father wouldn't be doing this; he favored a tropical environment.
Kodachi rubbed her arms to warm up while looking around. Yes, there were a few changes, but they fit the pattern of her ritual arrangement so exactly that she had missed them at first.
The greenhouse would be warm, of course. She'd go there, then search for Ranma. Her very own Ranma...
As she passed through the hall, something made her freeze. What was that *sound*? It sent a chill through her blood far colder than the air. Finally she realized what it was. Laughter. Her own laughter.
Of course, she'd heard her own laughter before, on recordings. But there was a new quality to it, somehow harsher, like broken glass being drawn across a blackboard laced with sandpaper. And it was coming closer.
She calmed herself. Of course her future self was here, that was why she had come. What matter is her laugh had changed a bit? The laughter came closer...
At last the future Kodachi turned the corner into view. She
moved slowly, one leg dragging slightly. She wore a formal winter
kimono, blood red silk embroidered with black roses. The hairstyle
matched the dress, and strands of silver glinted in the glossy do. Very stylish. As she came closer, the younger Kodachi noted her complexion was unnaturally pale, and her pupils dilated.
The laughter stopped as Kodachi-Future realized someone was in the hall with her.
"You look familiar, girl. Are you the new maid? I told you to dress warmly."
"I am not a maid! I'm you! The Kodachi of ten years ago."
"The older Kodachi waved her hand in front of her eyes. "Visual and auditory hallucinations. Fascinating. The new drugs have made matters worse, not better. I shall have to have that doctor flayed."
"I am not a hallucination!" She took her counterpart's hand. It felt like ice. "I'm flesh and blood, traveled through time. We married Ranma, did we not?"
"That we did." The older woman smiled, and her face warmed.
"How did we do it? And why is it so cold in here?"
"It's better for Ranma's health. As for the rest, discussion would be best in the tea room, I think."
"Yes. Shall we?" They moved slowly to the tea room, laughing as at a shared joke.
A serving girl silently brought out the tea ceremony things, and a winter robe for the visitor at the elder Kodachi's command. She snuck a nervous glance at young Kodachi before respectfully retreating. The ceremony began, and each woman played her part exactly according to ritual, with no reference to the bizarre circumstances that brought them together.
When tradition was satisfied, the future Kodachi straightened and scrutinized her counterpart carefully.
"The maid saw you. Good, that means you're not a hallucination, or that you're a very consistent one. I shall presume you to be as you claim. How come you here, my past self?"
"By virtue of the Nanban Mirror, to see what the future held."
"Oh, that thing. I had forgotten it. Now I suppose you wish to know how we came to marry Ranma?"
"Oh yes, if you please, m'lady."
"It's really quite simple. I kidnapped him and persuaded my
lover to stay in my room with me."
"Ranma agreed to that? He's always seemed quite shy."
"Not at first. It took some time to persuade him, but drugs and a little fib about a poison I'd fed Akane needing a continuing antidote only I could provide made him come around eventually. The harder part was keeping everyone else from figuring out where he'd gone. They even dared to search the mansion eventually, and I had the devil of a time getting him from one hiding place to the next in time."
"Didn't he object to being hidden?"
"A little, at first. But soon he realized that his love for me was more important than the worries of a few commoners and vagabonds, and he vowed to stay with me forever."
"Sadly, Tatewaki eventually caught on, and objected in no
uncertain terms to Ranma's presence in the house. So he had to
be...dealt with. It was much more difficult than I had imagined. Our brother was nigh-immune to poison, insensible to pain (something Ranma had helped him develop, unintentionally of course) and so stubbornly delusional about his battle prowess he just wouldn't die properly. His body flailed about for over four minutes after the head was removed. Quite amusing, actually." She began to laugh again.
"You killed Tatewaki?!"
"It was necessary. He would have taken Ranma away. Fortunately Father had already returned to Hawaii by that time, and as long as I send him a small allowance is likely to stay. Shortly after that incident, Ranma fell ill. He wasn't used to living indoors so much.
"I finally had to call in a specialist. A very discreet
professional. He was able to prevent Ranma deteriorating further, but my husband's health remained poor, and he needs the cold to keep
complications from setting in."
Kodachi wondered what sort of illness required such cold
temperatures. Most lingering conditions needed heat, or so she'd
"The only other person to find out Ranma was here was that
strange Ryouga boy. He just happened to wander in one day. He was very upset to learn Ranma had been hiding here all along, and threatened to tell everyone. We stopped him, of course.
"He managed to shatter my leg with one of his techniques, but then his chivalry did him in. Apparently he was a bit of a feminist. I used those ridiculous-looking fangs of his to make a back-scratcher."
Kodachi was uncertain whether to be appalled or admiring of her future self. Outright murder was a step she hadn't taken yet, one she was afraid to, but the older Kodachi discussed it as casually as the weather.
"Where's Ranma now?"
"Probably in the study. He usually is this time of day. Would you like to see him?"
"Yes, please, if I may."
They proceeded to the study door. Future Kodachi made a ritual knock, then listened. What she heard pleased her, so she opened it.
Ranma sat in a throne-like chair, garbed in dark robes that gave him a grave quality Kodachi had seldom seen from his younger self. He stared fixedly at her as the older woman walked up to him and began fussing with his clothing.
"Ranma-sama, look who's here! It's my younger self! She
traveled through time just to see us! Isn't that sweet? What?" She bent in closer. Kodachi could not hear Ranma's replies. "Yes, she is lovely. I always was a pretty girl."
Kodachi-Future motioned Kodachi-Past closer.
"Come, come! Ranma wants a good look at you! Hohoohohhohoo!"
Kodachi noticed now that Ranma wasn't blinking. Indeed, he
seemed to have no reaction to her at all.
"G-good afternoon, Ranma-sama." He made no reply.
"Yes, beloved, she does look chilled."
Kodachi suddenly realized that her counterpart was hearing things she herself wasn't. She moved in for an even closer look at Ranma.
She had to admit, he was a prime example of the taxidermist's art. Very lifelike.
For the first time, she understood that her future self was
truly and completely mad. And she was laughing again.
"Take me home."
Her cold tears fell like sleet.
To Be Continued....
This chapter dedicated to EC comics.
"Good Lord! *choke*"
by Scott K. Jamison
Chapter Three: Ukyou
"K-shew!" Ukyou dabbed her sore nose. Thankfully, the worst symptoms of her flu had faded, but the runny nose persisted. She swallowed another glass of orange juice.
"Do you require assistance, Mistress Ukyou?"
"No, Konatsu, carry on."
The crossdressing ninja resumed cleaning. He was good at that. Now if she could just train him to a happy medium between parsimony and spendthriftiness when it came to okonomiyaki toppings.
The mail brought a package. To Ukyou's surprise, it was from Ranma's mother. It was a mirrored brooch; the note said there was one for "each of Ranma's female friends."
Well, she was that, even if lately Ranma had been a better friend to her than the reverse. During Ukyou's recent illness, he and Akane had attempted to help Konatsu keep Ucchan's open. Somehow the shop had survived anyways.
Thinking of Akane gave her a twinge of conscience. Her rival fiancee had been amazingly nice, considering Ukyou's recent behavior. If only they didn't have to be enemies... But nothing had worked. Not fixing her up with Ryouga (that twit!), not gentle persuasion, deception or even magic. Despite everything, even their own protests, Ranma and Akane grew closer every day.
That relationship had to be broken up, for all their sakes.
Ranma and Akane were just so wrong for each other. You could tell by the way they fought all the time, and she kept hitting him and kicking him and bashing him... Besides, Ranma was rightfully Ukyou's. She'd made him the focus of her life since she'd met him years before, while Akane's engagement had only started a year before. Unless Ukyou found some way to advance her own cause considerably, or got Akane out of the pictures, Ranma would be trapped in an abusive marriage to a girl he despised. And
she'd be...alone. It might have to come to violence.
She reread the note. The Nanban Mirror,eh? Ranma had told her about it. He'd traveled through time to when Cologne was young with its power before the Mirror was shattered, and hinted at another encounter with the Nanban magic. Did it still have power?
It had something, anyway, given that the reflection showed
Shampoo, rather than her. She watched, fascinated, as the Amazon
activated the Nanban. The Mirror clouded. So, the brooches were
connected by their collective magic. And it would seem weakened, so only one could be used at a time.
Some customers came in, and she had to supervise Konatsu's
cooking. Yes, he was finally getting the hang of it. This distraction kept her from witnessing Shampoo's return, and she was just in time to see Kodachi's departure and know what she had asked.
This time the Mirror stayed clouded for over half an hour, but Ukyou kept an eye on it as she ran the restaurant, so was able to see Kodachi's face return. The gymnast's expression was pale and trembling.
"Ran-chan never liked you anyway. My turn." She considered
carefully what she was going to say, then crushed an onion and breathed deeply.
"Please take me to my sweet home with my husband Ranma, ten years from now." Her tears fell on the brooch, and she noticed there was still a little clouding around the edges.
She nearly tripped over the doll that was suddenly next to her feet. Ukyou was now in someone's living room, alphabet blocks scattered on the floor.
"We have children!" Ukyou exclaimed with glee. Then she saw the wall. Though some of the pictures had changed, she knew most of them, and where they hung.
"Th-this is the Tendou house...but that means--"
Someone was coming. Thinking fast, Ukyou jumped into the closet and pulled the door almost shut so she could peek out.
It was a naked little girl with waist length flame-colored hair, about 2 or 3 years old. She zipped around the room squealing like P-chan on a sugar high.
*Red* hair? thought Ukyou. Where'd that come from? Well, just as long as they didn't name her--
"Midori! You little imp! Get back here!"
Akane entered, carrying clothing. She had let her hair grow out a bit, and was wearing a stained t-shirt and jeans. She looked good.
"Have you no modesty? Honestly, sometimes you're just like your father."
Midori upended a vase over her head and Ukyou was startled to see her undergo a familiar type of transformation.
"Boy now! Heehee! Boy boy boy boy boy..." she (or he, now)
chanted in that annoying yet oddly endearing way small children have.
Akane rolled her eyes. "*Exactly* like your father."
Ranma entered from the foyer. "You're taking my name in vain?" He was in a muscle shirt, which allowed Ukyou to see that he'd put on quite a bit more muscle, as well as gaining a few inches of height and some nasty-looking scars. His hair was still in that silly pigtail though.
"Papa-Mama!" cried the little boy.
"And how's my little surprise package today?"
"Rambunctious as usual. I was trying to get her into some clean clothes to visit your mother, but Midori got away again. At least she didn't get out into the street this time. And how was work, Honey?"
"Oh, fine. A couple of the new students show some potential, but I had to discipline poor Atsuru again. Kid just doesn't pay attention. I gather he's got girl problems."
"We know all too well about girl problems, don't we?" Akane
managed to wrestle Midori into a jumpsuit. "How about a kiss, then?"
The couple clinched. Ukyou forgot to breathe. Unfortunately, she also forgot to cover her nose.
All three of the Saotomes turned towards the closet. Ukyou
decided she'd better face the music before things got out of hand. She pulled the door open and walked out.
Ranma looked shocked. Akane looked scared. Midori waved.
"Uk-Ucchan, is that really you?"
"It *can't* be her!"
"Why can't it be me?...Oh God, I'm dead, aren't I?"
"I've heard of skeletons in the closet before, but this is
"You don't look like a ghost, with that red nose..."
"I'm not a ghost. I used the Nanban Mirror to time travel." She held up her brooch.
"So that's what happened to that old thing. Could've used it a couple of times."
Akane forced a smile. "I'm glad you're here, Ukyou."
"What happened to me?"
"Later. Right now, could you make an okonomiyaki, for old times' sake? I haven't had one in years." Ranma grinned, though he too looked a little sad.
"Okay." Not in years? There were other okonomiyaki stands in town, surely. Maybe they just didn't satisfy after having the best.
Akane led the way to the kitchen, which had a couple of new
gadgets in it, but otherwise looked much the same as when Kasumi was in charge.
"Akane's cooking has improved a lot." said Ranma, and his wife gave him a light punch in the arm.
With a little help finding the ingredients, Ukyou soon had three okonomiyaki on the grill, a little one for Midori of course.
Ranma looked at his. "I love Ran-chan"?
"It was on all the okonomiyaki she ever gave you."
"You mean to tell me that not *once* did you ever actually look at what you were eating?"
"If you know it's going to be edible, why waste time looking?"
Akane punched him in the arm again, but she was smiling.
"'Nother!" demanded Midori, holding out his plate.
"Midori! What do we say?"
"T'ank oo!" as Ukyou slid another small concoction to the child.
"Got her father's appetite, too, I see." Everyone laughed,
though Midori didn't actually get the joke.
Ukyou made another round, and one for herself.
"Thanks, Ucchan. That really brings back memories."
"Speaking of memories, if I find out how I died, maybe I can
prevent it?" Akane flinched. Apparently she had been there...
"If we must." Ranma adjusted himself. "It's difficult to
explain..." he paused, his mannerisms very like his father's.
"I'm sorry to say that towards the end, we weren't getting along so well. Not since the first wedding."
"Uh, yeah, Mr. Tendou kinda steamrollered me and Akane into it. We weren't really ready to get married yet, so it was almost a relief when you and Shampoo crashed the ceremony. But how you did it didn't exactly endear you two to me."
"Exploding food." put in Akane.
"You apologized later, but we weren't as close any more.
I...didn't know if I could trust you. I wish I'd found out sooner that I could.
"About six months later, Kunou got hold of another cursed sword. Remember the one that made him think he was Musashi?"
"Oh yes. That was scary."
"This one was worse. Much worse. The Daimaoh-ken boosted his strength and speed tenfold, and his bloodlust twentyfold. His father was the first to die. Kodachi's only alive today because she was just sane enough to play dead after he cut her. Anyhow, I was his next target."
Akane took up the story. "Sasuke managed to sneak away and phone a warning to us. We rounded up everyone we could. Even Gosunkugi showed up. His Spheres of Protection actually came in handy!"
"Spheres of Protection?"
"Blessed marbles. Kunou slipped on them at one point during the final battle. Unfortunately, the police found him first."
"Three officers dead, eight wounded," said Ranma. "Bullets did nothing to him, some kind of missile protection from the sword.
"So it was up to us martial artists to stop Kunou. I was the bait at first, so the others could gang up on him. Not exactly honorable tactics, but he was way too powerful and crazy for a standup fight. Not that ganging up helped much. Mousse lost both eyes and an ear, Ryouga most of his left hand; Miss Hinako got off lucky just having most of her hair sliced off. Everyone else was knocked unconscious or dazed by the force of his counterattack; did I mention he could do ki blasts now? Which left me.
"It was a long, nasty fight, so I'll skip to the end. Kunou had me dead to rights. He was going to filet me like a trout, and there was nothing I could do about it. I'd exhausted my ki, tried every trick and technique I knew and a couple I'd just made up. I was going to die. Then Akane stepped between us."
"I guess I thought his obsession with me would make him hesitate, not strike the killing blow. I was wrong." said Akane, fingering a faint white line on her throat.
"I saw Akane's head fly off her shoulders, and my world went
red. It was as though Kunou was moving in slow motion. I took that
damned sword away from him and broke it over his head. Then I started beating him and I didn't stop until Akane asked me to."
"But I thought you said--"
"That's where Ukyou--you--came in," said Akane. "She had some kind of magic rod. No one knows how she'd gotten hold of it. The rod could restore a person's life, but only at the cost of another life. She set my head back on my neck and called down the lightning to resurrect me. Ukyou sacrificed herself for me!" Akane's face was wet with tears; Ranma took her in his arms and comforted her.
Ranma went on. "Kunou lived, if you can call it living. He was found not guilty by reason of temporary insanity and sent to a mental hospital. Akane went to see him once."
"They think there was brain damage when Ranma hit him with the sword and broke it. He didn't recognize me, and he only talks in haiku."
"Ukyou's funeral was small, but a lot of your customers came. Konatsu was really broken up about it, and Sasuke had him adopted into his clan so the kid could get his bearings. They run a security business now, backed by Kodachi's money. Oh, and Tsubasa came by from your old neighborhood to pay his respects. He finally found a girl that didn't mind the cross-dressing, by the way. They have four kids!"
"Really? How, uh, nice for them. You mentioned students
before?" She didn't want to hear more about people missing her.
"Yep. I teach kempo classes at Furinkan High to supplement the income from advanced students here at the Dojo. My mother in law got me the job."
"Mother in law?"
"Principal Hinako Tendou. Go figure."
"She--and Mr. Tendou--?!"
"She learned to cook, aged a couple years on the low end so as not to look too embarrassing, and finally wore Daddy down. She's been good for him." Akane stood up. "Ranma, why don't you take Midori for a walk before bed while Ukyou and I do the dishes?"
"Isn't it my turn?" asked Ranma. He'd certainly become
"Yes, but I need to have some girl talk with Ukyou. So go."
"Right then, okay Midori, let's have a piggy-back ride, just like Uncle Ryouga's only without the getting lost part, shall we?"
"Yay Papa-Mama!" The transformed girl giggled with glee as she was hauled onto Ranma's shoulders.
The women began the time-honored ritual of washing up. When she was sure Ranma was all the way out of the house, Ukyou asked, "He really doesn't know?"
"He always was a little thick when it came to women. He might have thought something was wrong at first, but he put it down to me dying and coming back. Over the years, he's just accepted that his wife is the way I am."
"Did you know?"
Akane looked Ukyou straight in the eyes. "I didn't. I honestly thought I was ending my life. I couldn't live without Ranma, and I realized he couldn't live without Akane. It wasn't as though I had anything else important to do with my life. I was...there is no word strong enough, really...surprised to learn the rod worked by transferring my soul into her body to heal it."
"Where's Akane's soul then?"
"Wherever good souls go, I hope. I claimed partial amnesia for a while until I could get adjusted to my new life. I had to give up cooking okonomiyaki, of course, and try to act like Akane would. It was really tough to learn Akane's fighting style without letting on that I'd never used it before."
"And no one guessed?" asked Ukyou.
"Cologne figured it out almost immediately. But I was able to blackmail the old bat into silence. After all, I now had twice the claim to Ranma that Shampoo did. Plus I knew some stuff she didn't want made public. She got Shampoo to marry Prince Herb, eventually, as some kind of political alliance."
"Prince Herb? Of the Musk Dynasty?"
"That's the one. Shampoo writes that he isn't such a bad sort after all, once he got over his breast fetish. No Ranma, but who is? And Cologne got some petty revenge against us last year."
"Midori wasn't born a shapeshifter, you know. It was an
extra-special birthday gift. We're hoping that since she's so young, she'll be able to learn to live with it as though it were normal. I suppose we'll have to get her a more androgynous haircut for kindergarten, though.
"Kunou spotted me as not really Akane, he thought I was Ranma in disguise. But no one listens to him anymore, and haiku are pretty oblique.
"Akane's sisters suspect something, especially since I stopped using Dr. Tofu, but they don't say anything about it to Ran-chan. Oh my, I haven't called him that in so long..."
Ukyou dried the last dish and wiped her nose. "Are you happy?"
"What's not to be happy about? I have my Ran-chan, and a lovely daughter and son, and they love me back. I'm not alone anymore."
"But you're not Ukyou! You're not me!"
"What was so good about being Ukyou? It's like how we renounced our femininity for all those years. We dropped the part of us that hurt. I dropped the part that Ranma didn't love."
Ranma came back in, Midori snug in his arms.
"Shh, she's sleeping."
Ukyou watched the proud parents put their child to bed. Her
heart ached to be part of that scene, and yet...
Ranma turned to her.
"Ukyou, I'm so glad you came. I never really got the chance to thank you." He embraced her.
"And another thing I wanted to do, but I was always afraid to, because you might have misinterpreted it." He kissed her on the cheek, like a brother.
"Goodbye, Ucchan. I hope you live."
"Goodbye, Ukyou. Be well," said Akane.
"Take me back." This time, Ukyou needed no artifice to produce bitter salt tears.
To Be Concluded
Thanks to the author of "Scoop of the Day", and the Ukyou
spammers for ideas I used here.
Also congrats to Raphael See for being the only one to spot a plot point I was going to use.
(This chapter dedicated to the Silver Age LSH writers, and to Tom and Mary Bierbaum.)
by Scott K. Jamison
Chapter Four: Akane
Akane picked the mail up from the box as she returned from
shopping. A couple of bills, a challenge letter for Ranma, penpal
letters for herself and Kasumi, a sweepstakes solicitation, Nabiki's copy of Money Magazine and a small package.
She was a bit surprised by the return address, which was the same as the mailing address. "Now why did Auntie Saotome do that?" Then she recalled what had happened the last time Nodoka had tried to give her something. "Ohh, yeah."
The other reason became obvious when she read the enclosed note. Since there was a gift for each fiancee, the impartiality of the postal service was a good way to deflect any jealous fighting over who got theirs first.
Akane was a bit ambivalent about the gift. It was pretty, but the Nanban Mirror had been nothing but trouble. Actually, just about every magical item Akane had ever seen had brought trouble. No wonder modern people preferred science. Still, since she knew what activated the Mirror, it should be safe enough...
Or maybe not, given she was seeing Shampoo's reflection. Akane watched in horror as the Nanban granted the Chinese girl's request, then clouded. It was opaque for about fifteen minutes, then Shampoo reappeared, her face marked with sorrow. Then Kodachi had her turn, the Mirror clouding for a bit over thirty minutes. The gymnast was clearly in shock when she returned.
Now Ukyou's face appeared. "Don't go!" whispered Akane, but it was too late. This time, the Nanban Mirror stayed clouded for a full hour, and did not fully clear when the chef returned with a bitter expression.
This was not good. This was *so* not good. It was
understandable that Shampoo and Kodachi might have been disappointed by marriage to Ranma, but he *liked* Ukyou, and she'd specified a happy marriage. Was he really as awful as Akane always accused him of being? Sure he was a rude insensitive weirdo jerk, but their reactions made him look like a monster.
Or could it be...could it be true...that he loved her, Akane, after all? She suspected as much sometimes, and she knew that she could love him, if only he'd show it. But instead they spent their time snapping insults at each other. Still, if Ranma loved her, and showed it in the future, that would be enough to spoil the others' fantasies.
So...did she want to see what life was like married to Ranma? Would they have children? Would she be more than a housewife? Would Ranma finally stop insulting her cooking? She knew for sure they'd fight a lot. Akane's own mother and father had loved each other very much, but she vaguely remembered arguments that made the house shake. Between Ranma's loose tongue and her temper, well, house-shaking would be an understatement... Why go into the future to see something she had right here?
Maybe she should ask to see a future where she didn't marry, just to see what other options she had. Could she be a career woman? And doing what? She doubted she would last a week as an OL. Maybe professional sports? Acting might be nice, if she could get decent roles. She was already too old to start an idol singer career, even if she wanted that.
The Mirror could take you back in time too. Maybe she could keep Ranma from ever getting cursed, or see her mother again. Akane hesitated, then read the last line of the note again.
She thought of Shampoo, exiled from her home until she completed a mission that looked more hopeless all the time. Of Ukyou, whose entire life had been shaped around her engagement to Ranma, one way or another. And even of crazed Kodachi. Sad as it sounded, it seemed like Ranma was the closest thing she had to a male friend.
"It just isn't fair! We can't all have Ranma, and we shouldn't expect him to try to please everyone. Whatever he does will hurt someone, and his dithering just hurts all of us. If only--that's it, that's the future I want. Mirror, show me a future where each of us does find happiness, where we found a solution!"
A tear of frustration fell onto the brooch. The mirrored surface clouded around the droplet, and Akane braced herself for the journey, but she wasn't moving. Instead, a web of cracks spread across the Nanban Mirror, and the glass shattered into dust. An errant breeze swept the dust away, and Akane was left with the empty trim.
"I broke it. I don't understand how, but I broke it. I'm such a klutz!"
The tears came faster.
"I can't do anything right!"
"Now, I wouldn't say that." came a soothing voice. Akane looked up.
"Auntie Saotome? But I broke your present! The other girls
could make it work..."
"I saw." Nodoka held up another empty brooch.
"You knew about the Mirror?"
"I asked Ranma about it while I was making the brooches, and I did a little reading. You didn't think I would give you all magic things without knowing what they did, did you? Here, let me dry your tears." Mrs. Saotome pulled out a hanky and dabbed gently at Akane's face.
"I messed things up, just like Ranma always says."
"Did you really? The others all asked for their own dreams.
Only you thought to try for everyone's happiness. Perhaps the Mirror finally ran out of power, or it couldn't find the future you wanted. Or perhaps, just maybe, it took you into that future as far as it could, and we'll have to walk the rest of the way there ourselves, one step at a time. The way we always do." Nodoka hugged Akane, just a little.
Akane didn't feel quite as bad anymore. "So is that the end of the Nanban Mirror?"
"Possibly. But we are dealing with magic and time travel here. Who knows what may happen?"
Akane's gaze fell on the clock.
"Oh, no! I just remembered, it's my turn to cook dinner. Will you help me?"
"I just wonder what the others saw. And if they'll ever say..."
Nodoka was already halfway to the kitchen, humming an old song.
"I've shed a million teardrops or more, waiting for the one I adore..."
And so from darkness, we pass again into the light.
This story was actually inspired by the "Ranma Fanfic Error
Drinking Game" posted a bit back, specifically the bit about using the Nanban Mirror "without at least repairing it first." That started me thinking about whether it could be repaired, and who might do it.
Once I'd settled on Nodoka, I decided that the end of Volume 36 was the proper timeframe to work in. Unfortunately, by that late in the series, there is little to no chance for any of the other fiancees to marry Ranma without getting Akane out of the way. I also realized that a time travel device activated by tears is awfully unlikely to take you to a happy future, and that set the tone of the story.
Thanks to William Gaines, Tom & Mary Bierbaum, Raphael See and the Ukyou spammers for ideas used in this story.