Chapter 63 A Kunoichi and His Feelings
Ryoga carefully closed the door behind him and walked through the darkened room, shedding his clothes along the way.
"I'm still up," Ukyo said, softly, "So how'd it go?"
"Not sure. I'm not the most sensitive of guys, and he was pretty upset about finding he really was a guy. Gonna be pretty messed up in his head for a while, I expect," Ryoga replied, as he pulled the covers back and joined his wife in the bed.
"What took you so long?" she asked.
"Well, so long as we were cleaning, I guess he was able to keep his mind occupied, but any time he stopped, he got to thinking about it. Broke down a lot, so I had to do a lot of consoling," he replied, "First time that I remember having to hug a guy. Finally got him to his bedroom, and waited until he cried himself to sleep. He even asked if I had any of the Nannichuan water so he could be a girl. I sort of pointed out that I thought he had feelings for Lime, and he decided that was maybe a reason to learn to be male."
"I just hope Konatsu doesn't get hurt," Ukyo said, "Lime still has feelings for Herb, even if she knows it can never be."
"Especially since he's married now," Ryoga said.
"Well, hopefully Konatsu will take things slowly, and not rush her," Ukyo said, "Her hormones are still all over the map with the baby and all, so it won't take much to upset her."
"I hope so to," Ryoga said, as he began to nuzzle her neck, kissing the exposed skin, causing Ukyo to shiver.
Ukyo moaned slightly and then rolled over. As she did so, Ryoga suddenly realized that she was wearing only her skin under the covers, and his eyes lit up.
Lime woke from her slumber and gently caressed her stomach. "Hey little one, mommy needs her sleep," she crooned, as she felt her child kicking once more. Her eyes were filled with wonder at the sensation. After laying in bed for a few minutes, hoping that she could get back to sleep, she gave it up as a bad job, and climbed gingerly out of bed. Grabbing her bathrobe, she slid it on, and cinched the belt closed and left her room, heading downstairs to find a late night snack. As she passed by the door opening into Ukyo-sama's apartment, she heard a low cry. Smiling wistfully, she placed her hand on her distended belly, the last visible reminder of the man that she had fallen in love with, and wished with all her heart that he had remained with her. A small tear slid down her cheek, and she sighed, knowing that he was lost to her forever. She made her way downstairs, and entered the back room, and rummaged around for something to eat in the cooler. A stifled sob drew her attention to the small room off the kitchen that Konatsu had claimed as her own. Curious, Lime walked over and pulled back the curtain, exposing the other girl curled up on her futon, crying into the thin pillow that was all she would accept.
Konatsu wept silently, only the occasional sob escaping into the stillness of the night. Suddenly, someone sat down on the thin pad, and the miserable kunoichi rolled over to see the concerned face of Lime gazing down in the dim light sneaking through the kitchen windows.
"What's wrong, Konatsu-chan?" Lime asked, as she pulled the girl into her arms, and held her. To her surprise, the other girl simply cried even harder, and attempted to weakly struggle.
"Please, don't be nice to me," Konatsu pleaded, with a voice husky from the shed tears, "I don't want you near me, especially you."
Stung, Lime asked, "Did I do something wrong? Why do you hate me so much?"
"NO!" Konatsu exclaimed, horrorstruck, "You've done nothing wrong, and I could never hate you. Never."
"Then why do you want me to leave? I can't stand you being unhappy, and I'd really like to help my friend," Lime said.
"Because you may not want to be my friend when you find out what I just discovered," Konatsu replied, miserably.
Lime lightly kissed the other girl's forehead and said, "There's nothing you could tell me that would make me stop being your friend. Who else is going to be with me when I have this baby? Who will help me raise her? Give me a shoulder to cry on when I need it?"
"Probably Ukyo-sama and Hibiki-san," Konatsu mumbled.
"They'll help, but who's been there for me when my back was hurting? Who massages my feet when I've spent too much time on them? That was you, Konatsu, my friend," Lime said. She paused, and then asked, rubbing the other girl's back in a comforting gesture, "So what is this deep dark secret? You can tell me anything."
Konatsu sighed and said, "I just found out that I've been living a lie all my life."
"What kind of a lie?" Lime asked, gently. 'I can certainly relate to that,' she thought, 'all those years trapped in a male body when I knew that I was really female."
"I'm not really a girl," Konatsu wailed, "I'm really a boy!"
"What do you mean, you're really a boy?" Lime asked.
"Why I don't know, but my family raised me to be a female, a kunoichi," Konatsu cried, "but it was all a lie." The miserable kunoichi ripped open the pajama tops, exposing a flat though nicely muscled chest, and wailed, "See! I don't know what I am anymore!"
"Oh, Konatsu," Lime said, "You poor confused person. But, I'm not turning away from you. You are still my friend, and always will be." 'And I know a lot about how you are feeling right now,' she thought.
"You don't hate me?" Konatsu sniffed.
Lime tightened her hug and whispered, "I could never hate you, Ko-chan. You are my best friend in the world." She watched as the pain and anguish left her friend's eyes. "What are you going to do?" she asked.
Konatsu blushed and replied, "Learn how to be a guy, I guess. I asked Hibiki-san if he had any more of the water that changed him into a girl, thinking that I might be more comfortable if my body matched what I thought I was, but he doesn't. And then he pointed out an advantage for being a male."
"What might that be?" Lime asked.
"Um, I'd rather not say. It's sort of a secret," Konatsu replied, bashfully.
"Friends shouldn't really keep secrets from friends. Don't you trust me?" Lime asked.
Konatsu whispered, "Of course I do. I trust you with everything." 'Including my heart,' he thought.
"Then why do you want to learn to be a man?" Lime persisted.
Konatsu bowed his head, and replied, "You'll be the first to know when I am ready to tell anyone. Until then, could you wait for an explanation?"
Lime smiled and said, "Of course I can."
"Could I ask you one more favour?" Konatsu asked.
"Sure, what is it?" Lime asked.
"Would you stay with me tonight? Maybe if you're with me, I won't fall apart again," Konatsu asked.
Lime blushed and replied, stammering, "I guess I could, but my bed is much more comfortable, not to mention a bit bigger." She chuckled and said, "Though I'm not sure how still I'll be. My little one gets a little restless sometimes."
"I think I can handle that," Konatsu said, "Shall we head upstairs to your room? Oh, wait, why were you down here in the first place?"
Lime sighed and said, "I was having some cravings, but they are gone. Now all I want to do is try to get a little sleep." She began to struggle to her feet, only to have Konatsu somehow stand up before she could rise. He shyly held out his hand, and when she clasped it, helped her up. The somewhat gender-confused pair headed out of the kitchen and then up the stairs to her room, an odd feeling of warmth welling up from her chest as they reached her bed. The two of them stared at it, both of them blushing furiously.
"Well, go ahead, get in," Konatsu said, "You really need to stay off your feet as much as possible."
"No, you first," Lime said.
"This is silly," Konatsu said, "Let me help you in and then I'll find a place."
"I'm pregnant, not an invalid!" Lime snapped.
Konatsu rolled his eyes and said, "I know that. I also know that extra weight in your belly makes you just a little unbalanced."
Lime giggled and asked, "Unbalanced as in crazy or did you really mean ungainly?"
Konatsu grinned in the darkness and simply said, "Yes," as he helped her into the bed.
"There, this is my side," Lime said, forcing Konatsu to walk around the bed and get in on the side away from the door.
"Your bed, your rules," Konatsu said simply.
"Good night, Ko-chan," Lime said, as she yawned and closed her eyes.
"Night, Lime," Konatsu echoed, turning to look fondly at the girl he was willing to learn how to be male for. Smiling, he rolled back over and closed his eyes, feeling oddly content.
A polite knock on the door slowly roused Lime from her comfortable perch. Somehow during the night, she had ended up snuggled up against Konatsu, who was spooning her, with one arm protectively wrapped around her stomach. Her eyes widened slightly as she was also felt impressive proof that he had not been lying the night before about being male, and a blush appeared on her face.
Ukyo called through the door and said, "Lime, it's time to get up."
"I'm awake, Ukyo-sama," Lime replied, as she reluctantly pulled herself away from Konatsu, waking him up in the process, and causing him to blush as he became aware of their sleeping position.
"I'm sorry," he said, scrambling away from her, his face red.
"Don't be," Lime said, softly, "I had the best sleep since I got pregnant."
At that moment the door opened, and Ukyo poked her head in, saying, "Lime, hurry….." She came to a stammering halt as she saw a blushing Konatsu, lying frozen in the bed, with Lime sitting on the edge, ready to stand up. "Um, sorry," she finished, as she reddened in embarrassment.
"Ukyo-sama, this isn't exactly what it looks like," Lime said hurriedly.
"Oh, so he didn't sleep with you?" Ukyo asked, her eyebrow arched in skepticism.
"Well, yes, but," Lime stammered.
"So what don't I understand about it?" Ukyo asked, "And I guess you found out that Konatsu isn't a girl?"
"She's not!" Lime exclaimed, her eyes wide, "Then that wasn't a banana in your pocket!" She giggled at the expression on Ukyo's face, as Konatsu looked confused.
Ukyo said, "It seems like your body knows that you are male, Konatsu, even if you didn't. Apparently you really liked spending the night with Lime, and well, your body reacted."
Konatsu realized what that unfamiliar sensation was, and blushed. He pulled the covers over his head, and attempted to hide.
Lime giggled, and pulled them back, and said, "Yes, Ko-chan told me last night, when I found him crying downstairs. We talked for a while, and then I asked him to share my bed, to help him get through the night. It worked, I think. I slept well, and he did too." She turned to Konatsu and added, "And I wasn't offended by how we ended up, if that's worrying you any, Ko-chan. I think you spooning with me was part of why I slept better, because I was feeling safe. And if it helps you, you can spend the next few nights with me, until you don't need it anymore."
"Enough flirting you two," Ukyo said, with a straight face, "You have a restaurant to run while I get head to school."
"Yes, Ukyo-sama," Konatsu said, as he crawled out of bed, hoping that his reaction had subsided, "But you'll have to move out of the way for me to get downstairs."
Ukyo grinned and entered the room, leaving a clear path for him to flee down the hall. "That was very nice of you, Lime," Ukyo said, softly, "This is going to be very hard for Konatsu to handle, I'm afraid. To find out now that much of what he thought was true was actually a lie." 'And if things go the way it looks, you two are made for each other,' she thought.
Lime nodded, but said, "We're probably the perfect people to help him through it, though. Even though you knew you were a girl, you pretended to be a male for several years, and even though I was born male, I always knew that I really was a girl. So both of us have had our share of gender issues."
Ukyo giggled and said, "Not to mention my husband who turns into a girl when wet." She sobered then and added, "Just take things slowly with him. And be careful, he's got a crush on you."
"So that's what he was hiding last night," Lime exclaimed, "When he wouldn't tell me the reason he wanted to learn to be a guy, instead of looking for the drowned girl water."
"Uh huh, that's right. So don't hurt him," Ukyo said.
"I like Konatsu, or at least the person I thought he was. And I had noticed that 'she' seemed to have feelings for me. It wasn't making me uncomfortable, at least not yet, since Konatsu wasn't being overt about it," Lime said, "But to be honest, I'm relieved that Konatsu is really a guy."
"Don't go crazy though. While it's been several months since Herb left, you don't want to be on a rebound," Ukyo said softly.
"No real danger of that," Lime said, "Besides, I'm really going to have my hands full soon anyway." She placed her hands on her belly as she finished speaking, an angelic smile on her face.
"Roughly another month, isn't it?" Ukyo asked, her eyes filled with wonder.
"Something like that," Lime agreed.
"How are you handling it?" her friend asked.
Lime shrugged and replied, "Aside from the whole going where no man has gone before thing, you mean? I'm excited, and terrified all at the same time."
"That actually sounds pretty normal," Ukyo said, "That's how I felt while I was pregnant. You just have that additional minor complication in that you weren't born female, is all."
Lime giggled attractively and said, "Minor complication, I like the sound of that." Then she grimaced and added, "Now, if you'll excuse me, I was just reminded that I need to take care of something." She flew through the door and headed toward the bathroom.
The door to the café clanged open and Ukyo strolled in, leading her husband by the hand. The sun streaming through the freshly cleaned windows gave a warm glow to the inside of the currently empty room, since the noon rush had long since dissipated and now Lime and Konatsu were simply making sure everything was spotless. She said, "Since we have a little time before the dinner crowd starts showing up, why don't the two of you go for a walk, instead of staying cooped up in here. It's gorgeous out there, and both of you could use a short break."
"That's a good idea, Ukyo-sama," Lime said, taking her apron off and hanging it on a hook just inside the back kitchen, "Let me go change into some more comfortable clothing, though." She headed up the stairs to her room.
"Konatsu," Ukyo called, waving the young man to her, "There's something I need you to do for me."
"Of course, Ukyo-sama," Konatsu said, "Whatever you ask, I will do."
"This is complicated. Unwed mothers are looked down upon a very great deal, and, well, when it became obvious that Lime was pregnant, we made up a story about her husband being off on some sort of trip, so that she wouldn't lose face," Ukyo said, "I'd like you to pretend to be her husband while she's walking about, if someone asks about you."
"I can do that," Konatsu said.
Ukyo sighed in relief and suggested, "In that case, you might want to change clothing, so that you'll look more like a guy."
"As you wish," Konatsu said, as he headed toward his room, to change into some of the clothing that Ryoga and Ukyo had given him that morning.
Ryoga snickered as he sat down in one of the booths. "Matchmaking much?" he asked.
"Hush you," Ukyo said, with a grin, "She could do a lot worse, and Konatsu thinks he is in love with her."
"Not complaining, just commenting. You probably need to check on Yuki though, I'm sure she will be waking soon," Ryoga said.
Lime stopped in surprise at the bottom of the stairs, when she saw Konatsu standing there waiting for her, a shy smile on his face, dressed quite nicely in a pair of blue jeans, a sleeveless t-shirt, a plain blue shirt, and a baseball cap with the Furikan School logo on it.
Konatsu's eyes grew big and he said, "You look very nice, Lime." And indeed she did, dressed in a light yellow maternity dress, a matching purse slung over one shoulder, and a black ribbon tying her hair back from her face.
Lime blushed prettily and said, "You look very handsome, yourself." She regained her composure and asked, "Shall we go for a stroll kind sir?"
Konatsu grinned and replied, "Of course, my lady." The two of them headed out the door, and started down the street in the general direction of one of the small parks.
As they neared one of the cross streets, Lime stumbled a bit, and Konatsu reached out and grabbed her hand to keep her steady. Lime flashed a smile, and the two of them continued down the street. As they reached the cross street and waited for the light to change, Lime groaned slightly as she saw the elderly woman waiting there as well.
"What's wrong?" Konatsu asked.
"That's Ichiro-san, she's the worst gossip around," Lime whispered back.
The old woman smiled toothlessly at them, and asked, in a quavering voice, "Lime, is that you?"
"Yes, Ichiro-san," Lime replied, politely.
"Now, dear, I know I've asked you to call me Grannie many times," Ichiro complained.
"Sorry, Grannie," Lime said, rolling her eyes.
"Is this your husband, back after so long from his trip?" the old woman asked.
"Um," Lime began, only to have Konatsu interrupt, "Yes, Ichiro-san, I am. My name is Konatsu, and it is good to be back with my lovely wife."
Lime glanced at him with a startled expression on her face, only to relax as she saw him wink at her.
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Konatsu-kun, but what family are you?" the old woman asked.
"Clan Hibiki," Lime said quickly.
"Ah, that lovely girl who runs Ucchans," Ichiro said, slowly, "That is her husband. But doesn't he have some sort of odd curse?"
"Yes, I'm afraid that he does. He has a horrible sense of direction. Why my poor cousin could get lost in a room with but one door," Konatsu said.
"Oh, you are his cousin?" she asked.
"Well, that's just a courtesy title. The actual relationship is a bit more distant. That's why I don't have his problems," Konatsu said. To his relief, the light changed, signaling that it was safe to cross. "Shall we, dear?" he asked.
"Yes, I still want to get to the park," Lime said.
"It was a pleasure meeting you, Grannie," Konatsu said, as he helped Lime cross the street, leaving the old woman behind as she hobbled across.
Lime waited until they were out of earshot and then asked, "What was that all about?"
"Oh, just reinforcing the story that you and Ukyo-sama have been spreading. I don't mind pretending to be your husband if it helps you out in any way. I care a great deal for you, Lime, and would be saddened if somehow your name was dragged through the mud simply because of the new life that you are carrying," Konatsu said softly. He hesitated for a moment, and then said, "I would never ask why you are in the condition you are, it is not really any of my business, but I will help you in whatever way you would let me."
"That is so kind of you, Konatsu, but then I've come to expect that of you," Lime said. She pursed her lips for a moment and then added, "It is a very long story, but I believe that you need to hear it. Perhaps once we get to the park."
"I look forward to it," Konatsu said, "And as it seems that we have nearly reached our destination, then it will be sooner rather than later."
Lime looked up, and Konatsu was indeed correct. The entrance to the park was a short block ahead, the gate in the stone wall open and the trees towering over the wall promising a pretty vista, and the possibility of a secluded glade where they could find some privacy.
Before the gate, an enterprising young woman was standing behind a small wagon, loaded with flowers. As they approached, the woman called out, "Flowers for your wife, sir?"
On a whim, Konatsu stopped and replied, "Why not?" He pulled out a few yen, and handed them to the woman, who handed him a single red rose. He smiled and said, "A pretty flower for a lovely lady." He placed the flower in Lime's hand.
Lime smiled tremulously, and then moved by some odd impulse, lightly kissed his cheek. "Thank you, once again, kind sir," she said, a note of wonder in her voice.
"And once again, you are welcome," Konatsu said, as they entered the park, and wandered down one of the flagstone paths as it meandered through a lovingly tended formal flower garden, filled with plants of all colours and types. Occasionally, they would spot a narrow path wandering off into the trees, but they could always hear that some couple was already exploring down that trail. Finally, as they reached the center of the park, they discovered another path, that appeared to be heading toward a place where they could find a bit of privacy. As they turned one final corner, rounding between two towering trees, they found a small bench near a fountain that offered them both a serene atmosphere, and a pleasant place to talk. Konatsu helped Lime sit on the bench, and then joined her, while Lime played with the flower that was in her hand, and an oddly pensive look on her face.
"I'd offer you a yen for your thoughts, but I think I spent all I had on me for that flower," Konatsu gently teased.
A faint smile flashed across her face and then she sighed heavily. "I'm not sure how to start, and I'm scared that you might think less of me once you hear my story," Lime finally said.
Konatsu said, "I just found out I was really a guy, Lime, and if I can handle that shock to my system, I'm sure I can handle just about anything else." 'Not to mention the odd things my body is feeling when I am around her,' he thought, with a wry smile.
"I didn't always look like this," Lime began, hesitantly.
Konatsu smirked at her and said, "Even I know that. Being pregnant changes the body in all sorts of ways."
"Not that," Lime said, glaring him into silence. She sighed and began again, "I'm not Japanese, I was born in China, into a tribe called the Musk Dynasty. It is a very chauvinistic, patriarchial society, where the boys and girls are raised apart from each other. The boys are trained to be mighty warriors, resolute in battle, fearing no one, and loyal to their leader."
"And how are the girls raised?" Konatsu asked.
"I wouldn't know," Lime replied, "For I was raised as a boy."
"Sort of like me, then, I was born male, but raised to think of myself as a girl, while you were born female, but raised to think of yourself as a guy," Konatsu observed.
"Well, not quite," Lime said, looking down at the ground. Finally, she said, "There's no easy way to say this except straight out. I was born male, Konatsu; but even growing up, I felt something was wrong about my gender."
"You were actually male? Then do you have a curse like Ryoga-sama, where you change back and forth? No, that can't be right, because I've seen you get wet with hot water, and you didn't change," Konatsu interrupted. He stared at her with thoughts whirling around in his mind, a flood of mixed messages that were confusing in their intensity.
"It will become clearer as I tell my tale," Lime said, "Anyway, as I said, I was never really comfortable being male, as if there was something wrong with the body that my soul and spirit was in. I grew up very confused about who and what I was, but refused to show my uncertainty. I overcompensated for my fears and for certain feelings that I had developed by becoming an arrogant, overly masculine jerk, one who wanted to constantly ogle girls, or at least once I realized that they existed."
"I can sort of relate to that at least. I never was attracted to the men that came by my family's place, but some of the girls did strange things to my heart," Konatsu said, softly, "And I couldn't understand what that was." 'The same thing I am feeling for you,' he thought, a bit sorrowfully.
"Then, my life was changed dramatically. The man I had developed feelings for, Master Herb, the prince of my people, was to be betrothed to a woman from an influential family. However, since he had never actually seen a woman, much less interacted with one, he went to the cursed training ground of Jusenkyo, to change some creature into a girl. But, in the end, he himself fell into the Spring of Drowned Girl, and got locked into female form by the misuse of one of our tribe's ancient treasures. The only way to unlock him, and allow him to be restored, was to find its counterpart, which for some unknown reason had ended up here in Japan. He came here, heavily disguised, and brought myself and my friend Mint, to search for the kettle that would free him. When Mint and I found out that Master Herb had been cursed, we gave him a rather hard time, always trying to sneak a peek at his femaly body. Well, that was mostly Mint's idea, but I had to admit to curiosity myself. He finally had enough, and one morning we woke up locked in female form. For Mint, it was horrible, but for me it was like waking up right for the first time in my life."
Konatsu lifted her chin so that he could see into her eyes, eyes filled with worry. "I think I can understand that too, Lime," he said, gently.
"When they felt that we had been 'punished' enough for our misbehavior, Master Herb offered to change us back, but I refused. I knew that I had always been a woman, and now had the body to go with the person I always was," Lime said, "And then I confessed my attraction to Master Herb, which troubled him. He couldn't see past the person he thought I was, to the person I really was. He returned to his people, where he eventually married, but I stayed here, after seducing him the night before he was supposed to leave, and deliberately got myself with child so that I would have a remembrance of the man that I thought I was in love with."
"That's an odd turn of phrase," Konatsu pointed out.
Lime smiled wryly, and replied, "I've had several months to think about things, Konatsu, and one of the conclusions that I reached was that I wasn't really in love with him after all. It was a crush, probably brought on by some sort of twisted sense of that loyalty that I mentioned before. I don't regret what happened, and look forward to raising this child, surrounded by my friends, and family."
"That is a worthy goal, Lime, and I hope you count me in that group," Konatsu said, "As a friend at least."
"Konatsu," Lime asked, hesitantly, "Do you think of me differently now? Please be honest with me."
Konatsu looked uncertain for a second, and saw the fear in the woman sitting next to him, and realized that he didn't feel any different. "No!" he replied, almost explosively, "I've never known you as anything else but Lime, the woman with the spirit of a warrior. All you've really told me is how you developed into that person. I don't think of you as a man turned into a girl, after all, you have proof that you are very much a woman right in front of us. What you were born as matters not to me. But, I have to admit, I think we are a very mixed up couple."
Lime let out the breath that she hadn't realized she was holding, and asked, "Mixed up couple?"
"Well, look at me, I'm a boy, raised as a girl, who never doubted he was female until I came here and was forced to discover who I really was by a man who changes into a girl when wet, and you, a girl, born into a male body, who was raised as a boy, but somehow gained her true self," Konatsu replied.
"True, we are mixed up," Lime said, smiling weakly, "But we aren't a couple."
"Well, not necessarily in a romantic sense, I suppose," Konatsu said, slowly.
Lime nodded, and said, "I know about your feelings for me, Ko-chan, but right now all I can offer is my friendship."
"That's good enough for me," Konatsu said, blushing heavily, "But don't think too badly of me for hoping that eventually there is more."
"I won't, that I can promise you," Lime said, a hint of colour in her cheeks, "For now, though, I wouldn't object for my friend to hold me."
Konatsu complied happily as he wrapped one arm around her, allowing her to snuggle up against his shoulder.
Akane jumped out of the way as a blur flew through the gate and attacked her husband. "Hello, mom," she said, as Nodoka strolled sedately through that same gate.
"Good afternoon, daughter," Nodoka replied, her gaze serene as she watched her son being glomped by Genko.
"I think she missed him, just a little bit," Akane said, grinning broadly.
"That's a distinct possibility," Nodoka replied, "She's only been asking about him for a week now."
"Big brother, where have you been! I missed you sooooooooooo much," Genko exclaimed, as she attempted to squeeze the life out of her brother.
"Akane and I were on a training trip," Ranma gasped out, "Now, please, I sort of need my ribs in one piece."
"A training trip!" Akane mumbled under her breath, "We fought an eight-headed dragon and he calls it a training trip!"
"What was that Akane dear?" Nodoka asked.
Embarrassed, Akane glanced at the ground, unsurprised to find that the sidewalk was freshly swept, all of the grass mown exactly at the same height, not a pebble out of place, sure signs that Kasumi had been cleaning. "Nothing, really," Akane replied, finally, not meeting her mother-in-law's eyes. She smiled weakly and said, "You've done a good job raising your 'daughter' so far."
"Thanks, but I can't take all of the credit. Ranma has done a good job in the big brother role, and that's helped immensely. For whatever reason, she'll do anything for him. And Kasumi is another good role model," Nodoka said, "And there's no negative influences aside from the occasional bully at school, but she's gotten skilled enough in her art to give most of them pause."
"And I think you are enjoying teaching her to be a lady, also," Akane smirked.
"Oh my, yes," Nodoka replied, "Considering some of his beliefs, I take great pleasure in teaching her differently. And definitely showing her that women have a great deal of worth and aren't useless is the best revenge."
Author's Notes: Hello, Gentle Readers. Another update to my story, somewhat sooner than the last one. And for those who caught the Mae West reference, I swear I saw it on a rerun, not the original release. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. And yes, there was a blatant quote from Star Trek. Hope you enjoyed this chapter. As always, reviews and constructive criticisms are welcomed and encouraged.