Chapter 31 Epilogue
A/N: This chapter takes place approximately nine months after the previous chapter.
The woman woke up suddenly in the middle of the night. After a few seconds, she felt the contractions again. Smiling thinly, she thought, after the contractions had finished, 'How cliché, middle of the night and the contractions start, and my water's broken.' She shook her husband awake and said, simply, "I think it's time. We need to get dressed and go."
Fortunately she had already packed a goody bag a few days ago in anticipation of this happening so it was a simple matter of throwing some clothing on and getting the bag to be able to leave for the hospital. Her husband broke the silence to say, "I called Nabiki. Her car will be here shortly. She said she'd call the doctor as well."
They waited outside for a few minutes, anxiously waiting, but Nabiki had come through as she had promised. True to her word, her limousine drove up and stopped outside their home. The chauffer quickly got out and assisted the two of them into the car and then they silently sped off toward Nerima General Hospital. Once they arrived at the maternity entrance, everything happened quickly. The attendants took care of everything. Even though he was a martial artist with a great deal of personal courage and skill, this moment he was glad someone else was there to take this event in hand.
The man followed along as the attendant sped his wife in her wheelchair off to the birthing room. This was a new-fangled addition to the hospital and he thanked the gods above that Kuno had donated enough money to create the facility. Of course, the subtle hand of Nabiki had probably secured the funding for the room. It was usually booked solid, but being related to Nabiki and Tatewaki Kuno had some advantages. While normally he was loathe using that connection, tonight was just not any night so he had kept his objections to himself.
Once they arrived at the room, his wife went and changed into her hospital gown, and then climbed into the bed. Shortly after, the nurse showed up to check on things. He was happy to see her; they had met her before and he had been struck both by her air of competence and her friendly personality. The nurse smiled at them and said, "It looks like things are going well. You're dilating nicely. I think this will be a relatively quick delivery."
"Thanks, Ms. Kamiya. I'm glad you're on duty tonight," he replied.
"You've got a bit of time right now, why don't you go ahead and get you're scrubs on," she replied, "They should be in there." She pointed toward the bathroom. He nodded and went in, emerging a few minutes later wearing a set of scrubs.
"If she asks for some water, you can give her some ice to suck on," the nurse said, "I've brought some in and set it on the table. I'll be back to check on you two a bit later."
Several hours later, he smiled at his wife as she lay sleeping, exhausted from her labors. He hadn't realized that she had had such a foul mouth; some of the things she had said during her ordeal had been rather rude. He also hoped with all of his heart that she didn't really mean any of the things that she had said she was going to do to him. Most of them sounded extremely painful. However, once their child was delivered, and she saw their son, the radiant look on her face had more than made up for it.
He walked over to the bassinet and gazed down on his son as he lay sleeping. He thought, 'I can't believe that we have a son.' He chuckled as he remembered the arguments that they had had about what to name him. He was glad that he had never suggested the name Genma after what she had said about some of the other suggestions he had made. He had certainly discovered that she had a temper and wasn't afraid to use it during those discussions. He heard a knock on the door, and walked over to open it. There he saw most of his family standing outside, waiting to see the new addition. He turned back to look at his wife, and found her awake. "Come on in," he said to them, "It's time you met your new brother, Keitaro"
Smiling, Ranma, Nabiki and Kasumi walked in to join their father and mother. After looking at the newborn infant, Kasumi smiled and said, "Father, he's beautiful. You and Nodoka should be very proud."
"We are, Kasumi. Though I'd forgotten how painful this was," Nodoka said from her bed.
"Mom, Dad, Akane wanted me to tell you she was sorry she couldn't come today. She's still just too easily tired, and I can't stay long myself," Ranma said.
"Tell Akane that's fine. I can certainly understand why she's tired. Her delivery wasn't as easy as mine, after all," Nodoka said with a tired smile.
"If she's feeling better, I'll bring her by tomorrow," Ranma promised.
"Let me know if you're going to bring her, and I'll send the car around," Nabiki said.
Ranma made his way home from the hospital, chuckling at the memory of his mother lying there in a bed with his new half-brother. The look on her face as she gazed down at the baby in her arms was a memory that he would treasure forever. He couldn't wait to get home and show Akane the photograph of their new sibling. He had hated to leave Akane at home, but she was still easily tired because of her pregnancy and labor. She had only gotten back from the hospital herself a couple of days ago. He was thankful that Ucchan had been able to stay with her for the hour or so he was gone to see his mother. At least that way, someone else besides Akane could deal with the two hellions he called daughters.
"Gentler sex, feh," he muttered, still laughing as he entered through the gate of their home.
Even after all these years, it still felt funny to come and realize that this house was home. As he made his way into the house proper and took off his outside shoes, he was attacked by two blurs shouting, "Daddy!!" Grabbing both girls, he swung them around and then planted a kiss on each of them.
Setting them down, he asked, "Have you two been good for Auntie Ucchan?"
"Hai," they said in unison, looking angelic.
Frazzled, Ukyo walked in and retorted, "They have a very elastic definition of good, brother of mine. I hope mine isn't that energetic."
Ranma smiled and replied, "Thanks, sis. I appreciate you coming over. Tell Konatsu I said hi. Mom was asking about you, by the way."
"You're welcome, Ranchan. I'll stop by the hospital and see Mom before I go home. The mail came and I put it in the living room. There's a letter from China in with the rest. See you tomorrow," Ukyo said. She hugged Ranma and then kissed the two little girls.
Ranma headed into the living room to find the mail. After setting aside the bills for later, he found the letter that had come from China. Taking it and his two girls, he went into the master bedroom where he found Akane in bed, watching their newborn son as he slept in his cradle.
"No-chan, Ki-chan, you two go play nice for a while," Akane said softly, "Mommy needs to talk to Daddy."
"Okay, Mommy," came the eerie chorus.
"Mom sends her love, Acchan. If you're up to it, we can go tomorrow to see her and our new brother. I brought home a picture of them together," Ranma said, and then he kissed his wife.
Sitting down on the bed, Ranma handed her the picture. Then he opened the letter and began to read. After several minutes, he began laughing hysterically. Akane looked at him in concern, but he just smiled at her. Finally, he finished the letter, saying, "It's from Cologne. Apparently they stumbled across Genma in China." He handed her the letter and she began to read it.
'Dear Ranma and Akane,
I hope this letter finds you well. I expect to hear from you soon about the birth of your child as well as that of Shampoo's.
Ranma, you were correct. Genma did indeed try to reach Jusenkyo. He was intercepted by one of our patrols as he started into the valley. However, he was not killed by the patrol as we had discussed, only taken prisoner….
The patrol of Amazon warriors was resting by the side of the road, screened from view by the surrounding trees. The leader, Lo Shun had placed several sentries up in the trees to keep watch, rotating as required to keep everyone fresh and alert. She had been extremely irritated at first by the insistence of Elder Khu Lon that she take a male with her on this patrol, but she had been forced to admit that Muu Tse had been a worthy addition. On top of that, he was very easy on the eyes. During his stay in Japan, he had indeed become an excellent warrior, and he had only refined his skills under the tutelage of the Elder since they had returned to the village.
One of the sentries waved from where she was sitting high in a tree observing the road that ran from the valley of Jusenkyo to the coast of China. She quickly signaled that she was observing a strange male coming toward them.
Lo Shun and Muu Tse peered through the trees and underbrush to observe the stranger. Muu Tse eyes narrowed as he recognized the man. The dirty, stained, once-white gi, the rimless glasses, and the bandanna over the balding head, of the somewhat overweight man easily identifiable to him as Genma Saotome.
Genma trudged down the narrow road, carrying a small backpack containing all of his worldly possessions. While it had been a good many years since he had walked down this path before, he was beginning to sense that he was nearing the end of his journey, the accursed training grounds of Jusenkyo. He wasn't really sure why he was here, except possibly to confront the place where his life as he knew it had ended. As he looked up, far up ahead of him, he saw what he thought was the final bend of the road before it descended into the valley below. While he was glad that it wasn't raining like it had the day before, forming many puddles on the road that he carefully passed, he wasn't at all sure that the sun needed to be quite so bright. It was beginning to get warm, and he was hoping that the sun would hide behind a cloud for a while. He looked up hopefully, but he saw that there wasn't a cloud in the bright cerulean sky.
Finally, he reached the bend and rounded it, only to stop short as the way was blocked by two figures. The bright sun glinted off the sharp sword held by one of the figures and the mace held by the other. He squinted, trying to make out some details, but the sun was behind them, blinding him. The sound of shuffling feet coming from behind him told him that his inattention to his surroundings had led him into a trap. He only hoped that the little bit of Chinese he had painfully learned over the years would be enough to allow him to assure these people that he was harmless.
Then one of the figures silhouetted by the blinding sun spoke and his heart sank as he recognized the voice. "Hello, Saotome," Mousse said, "Do we do this the hard way or the easy way?"
Genma sneered as he said, "You think you can take me, boy? You aren't anywhere near good enough. Or are ya gonna hide behind these skirts and let them fight me?"
Mousse smiled grimly and said, "Oh, good. I was so hoping that you wanted to do this the hard way. I'm glad I'm not going to be disappointed!" He cracked his knuckles and then stepped forward, separating himself from the warrior beside him, nearing one of the puddles of rainwater as he did so.
Genma smiled evilly and threw a large rock into the puddle, spraying water from the puddle onto Mousse. Genma stepped forward in anticipation as he expected to see a small duck quacking angrily on the road. To his surprise, all he saw was an extremely wet Mousse, grinning at the surprise on Genma's face. Genma's face paled as he also realized that Mousse didn't have any glasses on, and still had recognized him. There wasn't going to be any way to trick his way out of this fight. Mousse continued to stride forward, swinging his sword confidently, preparing to strike.
As he did, Genma threw himself into the Crouch of the Wild Tiger and began wailing, "Please don't kill me!!!!!" In disgust, one of the warriors stepped up from behind him and knocked him out with the flat of her sword.
Genma slowly roused from the darkness that had claimed him to see that he was chained to a pole in the middle of the Amazon village. Surrounding him were several old women, one of which he recognized as the Elder Cologne.
She cackled as she walked up, saying, "It seems like Ranma was right. You were stupid enough to come here. You do remember that the springs are all gone and won't be back for some time, don't you?"
"That's not really why I came. It was at that valley that my stupidity and carelessness ruined my life. I thought it only fitting to see it one more time before I die," Saotome said abjectly, "I'd like to do that before you kill me."
"Actually, we're not planning on killing you. After I came back from Japan, where I found out what you had tried to do, I decided that would be too easy an out for you," Cologne said harshly.
Genma sighed with relief, and then asked, "So what are you planning on doing with me then?"
"Well, right now, I'm planning on feeding you to take away some of the edge off your hunger. I can hear your stomach growling from here. As I remember, you can't concentrate too much when you're like that," Cologne said as she showed him a plate of fresh mushrooms and a set of chopsticks. Picking them up one by one with the chopsticks, she fed him several of the mushrooms. "Hm, that should do it," she said, with an evil grin.
Genma began feeling very strange. Then, as he began to feel his body changing, he started yelling in anger, with the sound of his voice rising in pitch as he shrank. Finally, he stopped screaming, his eyes darting around as he gasped, "What did you do to me?"
Cologne cackled evilly, and then she replied, "Those were magic mushrooms, for which there is no antidote. They make you younger depending on how many you eat. You look like you are about four or five now."
"But why did you do this? Why didn't you just kill me?" Genma said in shock.
"Because I can. Like I said before, I decided killing you would be too quick. This is your home now and here you will stay. Your new parents will take good care of you, training you in what this village requires in a male, I promise you that," Cologne said.
Muu Tse and Lo Shun walked in glaring at the elders and then at Genma. Muu Tse growled at Khu Lon and said, #I still don't know why you forced us to do this, Elder. What did we do to anger you this much?#
#Come with me both of you,# Khu Lon snapped. "Find this one some proper clothing to wear and get him changed!" she said to one of the elders, "I'll finish this conversation with him once I've settled these two fools down."
Muu Tse and Lo Shun reluctantly followed Khu Lon into her small house, while the other elders took Genma clothing that would now fit him. Khu Lon busied herself making tea, ignoring the two impatient youngsters fuming silently in her kitchen. Finally, when she was satisfied that the tea was steeping properly, she turned to glare at the two of them. Then she said, #What are you angriest at? The fact that I forced you two to wed, or the fact that I made you responsible for raising Saotome?#
Muu Tse sputtered angrily, allowing Lo Shun to speak first, as she replied, #Elder, I am not happy about being forced into a marriage. I am an Amazon warrior, and we are not treated like this! I am not a brood mare!#
#Normally, girl, I would not have forced this on either of you. Truth be told, you are two of our best. Yes, Muu Tse I said both of you, though if either of you ever repeat that I will deny it most strenuously. Lo Shun, you need a husband worthy of you, and I believe Muu Tse has proven himself to be worthy. But, you're right, I would not have forced you to wed him unless I felt the tribe required it,# Khu Lon said.
#Why do you feel the tribe required us to wed? He is an attractive man, and a good warrior, but that wouldn't be a good enough reason,# Lo Shun asked.
Wearily rubbing her eyes, Khu Lon replied, #No, the fact that you two brought Saotome here alive forced me to come up with this. If you had killed him, then I would have allowed human nature to bring you two together. Since you didn't, my hand was forced. True, I could have had Saotome killed, while he lay there, but instead I decided to try something else.#
#So that's why you assigned me to Lo Shun's patrol, you old ghoul!# Muu Tse said, with a bit of heat, #You wanted us to see each other in action, in hopes that we might become interested in each other! I didn't think you were a matchmaker.#
Khu Lon bopped him on the head lightly, and replied, #Show me some respect, Mister Part-time. I think I allowed you to pattern yourself too much after Ranma.# The two of them grinned at each other, completely puzzling Lo Shun.
#So you've explained why you want us to wed. Because we are the best warriors you have in the village, you want us to have children. I can understand that. It's not any different than the Laws of Marriage for outsiders that we follow. What I don't understand is why you forced our hand. What does Saotome have to do with it?# Muu Tse asked.
#Why did you not kill him when you had a chance?# Khu Lon asked simply in response.
#Because he had already lost. There was no spirit left in him, and it would not have been a worthy kill. I would have stained my honor to have killed him,# Muu Tse replied. Lo Shun nodded firmly in agreement.
#That's also why I chose a different form of punishment for Saotome as well. By changing him into a child, but still with his personality and memories intact, I hope to retrain him into someone better than he was. That's why I wanted you involved Muu Tse. You knew him before, and have fought Ranma. You actually came to respect the son; I hope you can retrain the father to be worthy to have a son like Ranma,# Khu Lon stated.
#The fact that both of us speak fluent Japanese didn't have anything to do with your plan either, did it?# Lo Shun asked, sarcastically.
#Of course not,# Khu Lon retorted, #Now are you two satisfied with why I have done this to you? It certainly wasn't because I was angry with you; it was because you two are the only ones that could pull this off. If we can turn Saotome into a better person, our village will benefit. If for no other reason than keeping a warrior of the stature of Ranma Saotome content to be our ally, that alone makes this worthy of doing. But some part of Ranma came from his father; if we can add that to the Amazon gene pool that will be an added bonus.# Khu Lon turned to Lo Shun and said, #He has many rough edges for you to knock of, this Genma Saotome. He is full of willful, selfish, arrogant pride. That is woefully misplaced. She made a face and continued, And his disdainful, superior, attitude towards women has definitely got to go!#
Muu Tse laughed and said, #Yes, from even what little time I have spent with around him, his outspoken opinions on the place and worth of women make this a truly fitting punishment.# Then he grimaced and continued, #But it will also make retraining him a challenge.#
#Are you two willing to cooperate in this?# Khu Lon asked, again.
Lo Shun looked at Muu Tse and replied, #As I said, I don't find Muu Tse unattractive, and he is a very good warrior. I had already considered allowing him to share my bed before this.# Then she smiled at the startled look on Muu Tse's face. #I suppose I will agree to your so reasonable request,# she added, sardonically.
Khu Lon snorted in disdain, and replied, #Thank you for agreeing. Of course, it really wasn't a request, but if it makes it taste better going down, fine.#
Muu Tse frowned and then said, #I expect that I have even less choice in the matter. I will agree as well.#
At that moment, one of the elders brought chibi-Genma into the house, dressed in more appropriate clothing. Khu Lon smiled evilly at him and said, "Let me answer your question better now, Genma. The reason that I did this to you instead of killing you outright is simple. The way you are now, your blood would have been unworthy to be spilled by any of our warriors. Instead, I decided a better punishment for you is to have you brought up in the Amazon warrior tradition, where the males are subservient to the females. Mousse and Lotion have agreed to teach you our ways and be your parents."
… So as you can see, we have your father taken care of Ranma. I hope this meets with your approval. While he will not see the outright torture that he put you through, he will see all of the discipline a child of the Amazon needs. I assure you that when next you see him, you will be satisfied with our vengeance.
Tell Shampoo I care for her, and hope to hear from her soon as well. I wish to hear the latest news of her child as well as yours. Let her know that Mousse still thinks of her fondly, and wishes her well. When I told him of her marriage to Ryoga, he growled a bit, and then said at least she had found someone worthy of her.
Yours, Elder Cologne'
PS. All of the children are enjoying playing with the new panda cub that seems to wander by periodically. Mousse and Lotion allow that when your father isn't in training, besides he seems to be as much a water magnet as you ever were, Ranma.
Akane smiled as she finished the letter. Her husband was still convulsing with laughter, rolling around on the floor in mirth. She hadn't seen him this amused since he had found out that his mother was pregnant. Finally, he calmed down and said, "I can't believe she did that to him. Living as an Amazon male under the Matriarch's rule has got to be worse for him than if they had just killed him." He sat down on the bed next to her, allowing her to put her arms around him.
Akane giggled and said, "Yes, it probably will be worse. But, in spite of everything he did to us, I really wouldn't have wanted to see him dead. Who knows, maybe he'll learn something this time around."
He leaned over and kissed her, saying, "Tomboy, I love you."
"I love you, too, Baka," she whispered back.