Disclaimer: Rumiko Takahashi owns Ranma. The only character I've invented is Yuki. Please don't sue!
AN: I promised myself I wouldn't do this until HbaM was finished, but I'm starting another story. Please check out my bio page for my reasoning (it's too long to worry about here). I know that this idea has been done before multiple times on FF.net (specifically For the Love of a Child by DemonSaya and Child Care by Jingoro [which I highly recommend and wish he would finish]), but I feel I can write a story that is different enough from these stories. So on with the show!
Chapter One: - Luck
"Hurry up Ranma! We're going to miss the train at the rate you're going!"
Ranma tried to keep up, but he was burdened with a tall stack of packages. The pair was in downtown Tokyo in the Ginza shopping district. Akane had recently won a martial arts tournament that came with a rather large cash prize, and after putting most of it away in her savings account, she decided to go on a shopping spree. She had wanted to go alone, but their fathers had forced Ranma to go with her "for her protection," as they put it.
Humph, I win that tournament and they still have the gall to say I can't defend myself, Akane thought to herself. She then looked back at Ranma, seeing all the packages he was carrying. Then again, it's useful to have a pack mule…
Ranma scowled at his fiancée. "Well, if you hadn't bought so much stuff, I'd be able to keep up!" It wasn't the weight of the packages that was slowing Ranma, but the fact that there was so many that the stack blocked his vision. He had to rely on his hearing to avoid bumping into anyone or anything, so he took it slow, praying that he didn't accidentally walk into a light post.
Akane sighed and continued to walk towards the train station. "I didn't buy all that much Ranma," she called out over her shoulder. "Some of the packages are just really big."
"Yeah, they'd have to be to fit over your big hips!"
Akane's temper flared, but she suppressed the urge to beat Ranma over the head. She didn't want him to drop any of the packages after all. Instead she just sighed internally at his attitude. It's been two years since we met, and a year since that botched wedding. Why does he still insist on insulting me?
Akane thought back on the last year. Since the wedding, things had been going better for the two of them. Their fathers had agreed that a wedding couldn't take place until they had sorted out their suitor problems, and had backed off a bit. Instead of trying to force the marriage, they just tried to force them to date. The fact that there was a little less pressure on the two to get together had allowed them to grow a little closer, and even to follow their fathers' suggestions to go on a few dates. Unfortunately, it seemed as if every time the left the house together someone would show up to get between them. They hadn't had one successful date. Akane was surprised that nobody had shown up yet to interfere while she shopped.
Yet they still fought. Ranma would still insult Akane, and Akane would still hit him for it with various blunt instruments. By now though, the pair had matured enough to ease up a bit on the constant fighting. Akane had taken a cooking course the previous year in school, and finally acknowledged that her cooking was potentially fatal after her teacher had to get her stomach pumped upon trying one of Akane's dishes – though she was getting better. Ranma had finally acknowledged her skill as a martial artist after she had won a few big tournaments, and had begun to take her more seriously –he still refused to hit her while sparring though, and resorted to just tapping her instead. Akane had also realised that many of the fights weren't Ranma's fault as she had once thought, and that she started about as many of them as he did. Yet there was a part of her that wished they would just stop fighting altogether. If only there was some way to end the vicious cycle…
Ranma's voice broke her thoughts. "Hey Akane, do you hear that?"
Akane stopped and listened. Of course, seeing as they were in downtown Tokyo, there were many sounds to be heard, and she didn't know what he was talking about. "Hear what Ranma?"
"I think I hear a baby crying."
"That's possible Ranma. After all, we're the middle of one of the biggest cities in the world," she replied sarcastically.
Ranma was concentrating too much on listening that he missed the sarcasm in the reply. "No, I mean I think it's coming from that alley up ahead. I think we should check it out."
Akane stared at him for a moment. First of all, with all the packages in front of his eyes, he shouldn't have been able to see the alley in front of them. Second, he was saying that he picked out a sound from all the rest of them in one of the busiest places on Earth. When Ranma passed her on his way to the alley, she followed, slightly curious to see if his hearing was as good as it seemed.
They entered the alley, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. There was a large dumpster that was being used by the adjacent restaurant, but nothing more. Akane strained her ears, but didn't hear a baby crying. She did, however, hear an air conditioning unit turn on above their heads, and watched as it dripped cold water on Ranma's head.
Ranma cursed silently to himself as he felt the change. He had grown to not abhor the curse as he once had in the last year, but it was still aggravating to change when he didn't want to. After standing in the alley for about a minute and not hearing anything again, she turned to leave when she heard the cry again. This time, Akane heard it too. It wasn't coming from any of the windows that faced the alley, nor were there any other people around. The only place it could come from was in the dumpster.
"Akane, take the packages. I'm going to jump in and see what I can find." Ranma hopped up onto the lip of the dumpster, prayed silently that the sound wasn't a cat, and slid in gently. She had just thrown a trash bag out of the way, when she saw a blanket wrapped around something. She picked it up, and opened the blanket to come face to face with a baby. Ranma stared at the newborn, shocked that anyone would leave a baby in a dumpster like that. The baby couldn't have been more than a year old. Its hair was sparse on its head, and was a dark red. It's eyes were dark brown, almost to the point of being black. Its skin was pure white, almost as if it was painted that colour. The baby looked back at Ranma with wide eyes, and then smiled and made small cooing noises. Ranma blinked a few times before calling out to Akane. "It looks like we have one more parcel Akane…"
Ranma and Akane walked up to the dojo gate, each carrying something. Ranma had reverted to his male form at a tea shop on the way home, and was carrying the packages – better stacked this time so he could see where he was going – while Akane carried the baby. They had taken it to the nearest police station to see if it was a missing child, but nobody had reported anything recently. They had left their phone number with the police in case anything came up. Ranma had wanted to leave the baby with the police in case the parents came by looking for it, but they couldn't take it. The officer behind the desk didn't seem to think that anyone would come looking for it, considering they found it in the dumpster. "If you found it in a dumpster, chances are it was an unwanted pregnancy, and the mother was trying to get rid of it," he had said.
So there they were, standing in front of the gate, hesitating to go in for fear of all the questions they knew everyone would ask. They had already gotten many looks while on the train, and one older lady actually asked if it was their child. They both blushed heavily at that comment. The worst was when they stopped at a drugstore on their way home to get some diapers and formula. The store clerk was the father of one of the guys in their class, and knew Ranma. The two teens dreaded returning to school at the end of the summer break in a week, knowing that should the clerk tell his son about seeing Ranma buying diapers, the rumours would be running wild.
Finally, Akane worked up some courage, and opened the gate. She nervously entered the house with Ranma following behind. She was slightly surprised to see that nobody had come to greet them yet, but was glad for it all the same. It was then that the baby decided that it needed to be changed, and started to cry.
Oh no, not now! Akane tried to shush the baby before it drew unwanted attention, but it was too late. Kasumi and Nabiki had been in the living room. They had heard the noise and had come to investigate. When they saw the baby, they gasped in surprise. Nabiki smirked at her sister. "Why Akane, is that why you went into town today? I didn't even know you were pregnant. You certainly didn't show it."
Akane knew her sister was only teasing her. After all, if Ranma and Akane had had sex, Nabiki would have known about it. She still blushed heavily though, the redness of her face putting most tomatoes to shame. Ranma, missing the innuendo, managed to calmly explain what happened.
"Actually Nabiki, we found the kid abandoned in a dumpster. We brought it home cuz the police told us they couldn't take it."
Nabiki's normally calm demeanour broke slightly at the mention that the baby was abandoned. She looked almost appalled that someone would do such a thing. She quickly regained her composer though. Kasumi, however, looked outraged that someone could abandon their child. Her face calmed, however, when she noticed how carefully Akane held the baby. She smiled at her sister. "So what are you going to do with it?" she asked. "You aren't going to keep it are you?"
"No, we're only going to keep it until we can find a place for it to go," Akane replied. "Ranma is going to see if he can find an orphanage in the phone book. Hopefully they'll be able to take it."
Ranma went off to find the phone book, leaving the three sisters to talk about what had happened. The baby grew tired of being ignored, and started to cry again. Akane looked at the baby, worry creasing her face, but Kasumi came to the rescue. "Perhaps it needs to be changed Akane," she suggested.
Akane looked even more worried. "I've never changed a diaper before Kasumi. I don't know how."
"Well then, isn't this a good opportunity to learn? I used to baby-sit for the Yamanes, I can tell you what to do. "
Akane gulped audibly, and followed her sister upstairs to her room. The baby was lain on Akane's bed, and the baby supplies strewn about, ready for use. Kasumi started to walk her sister through the process.
Upon opening the diaper, Akane heaved a huge sigh of relief, for two reasons. One, it was just a wet diaper, not a full one. Two, the baby was a girl. Akane was still shy about the male anatomy, specifically that which lies between their legs. Ever since she'd seen Ranma naked in the furo the day they met, there was just something about the thought of it that made her cringe. Health class the other year was sheer torture when they got to the part on sexual education. The fact that she wouldn't have to look at one every time this baby need to be change made it a little easier on her.
The rest of the changing went with few aggravations. Akane had had a hard time opening the sticky tapes on the new diaper, and the baby had peed on Akane's bed while she didn't have a diaper on, but otherwise, she was clean, powdered, and oiled without hassle.
"That was very good Akane! I'm so proud of my little sister," Kasumi praised. "I'm sure you'll make a fine mother some day."
Akane could only blush in response to her sister's remark.
Ranma hung up the phone, a look of amazement and slight fear plastered across his face. Akane was not going to like the news he's just received. He slowly walked up the stairs to his fiancée's room, and looked through the open doorway. It was there that he saw a sight that made his heart beat faster in his chest.
Akane was sitting on her bed – minus the quilt, which Kasumi had taken down to be washed – gently rocking the baby, humming to it as she fed it from a bottle. The tune she was gentle, and somewhat familiar to Ranma. Akane's eyes were soft and loving, as she watched the baby nurse. A smile played at the corners of her lips. The baby watched Akane with wide eyes as she drank, her gaze never leaving Akane's face. Ranma watched the two for a few minutes, amazed at the beautiful scene before him. Maybe she won't mind too much after all, he thought to himself. He coughed gently so not to startle them.
Akane looked up at Ranma, and could have sworn she saw a loving look on his face. It had been fleeting though, so she decided to forget about it. "What did the orphanage say?" she asked, putting the bottle down, and burping the baby over her shoulder.
Ranma nervously played with his pigtail. His eyes scanned the room, trying to find something other than Akane's eyes to look at. "They… uh… said they couldn't take the baby."
Akane almost dropped her charge. She wanted to yell, but didn't for fear of startling the baby. After she calmed a bit, she looked directly at Ranma. "What do you mean they can't take the baby? That's what they're there for isn't it?"
"The lady I talked to said that the orphanage was under funded and overcrowded. They wouldn't have been able to feed it."
Akane looked stricken. "So what do we do?"
"Well, I left my name, and the phone number for the dojo, and they said that they'd call us as soon as they had an opening. Until then…" Ranma tapered off, not quite wanting to finish the sentence.
"…We have to take care of it," Akane finished. "What about other orphanages? There has to be more than one!" Akane was starting to panic. Ranma placed a hand on her shoulder to calm her.
"There was only one orphanage listed in the Nerima phone book. The lady I talked to didn't mention if there were any others."
"Ranma, we're only 18. I only just turned 18 last month! We can't take care of a baby!"
The little girl in Akane's arms started to fuss at that point. Akane returned her attention to the baby to calm her. Ranma noticed a glass of water on Akane's nightstand, and used it to change. She then sat next to Akane, and held her arms out. "Can I hold her?"
Akane looked up at the now female Ranma. "Why did you change?"
Ranma shrugged. "Not exactly very manly to hold a baby is it?"
"What are you talking about? A good father will hold their child."
Ranma just shrugged. Akane sighed, and handed the baby over. Ranma promptly took her in her arms, lay her upright against her chest, and put the baby's head against her cheek, while making small shushing sounds. The little girl slowly calmed down as Ranma rocked her back and forth. Eventually, she let out a yawn, put her head down on Ranma's shoulder, and fell asleep. Akane watched in amazement. Maybe we can do this after all…
Remembering the scene he saw when he came in, Ranma broke the silence. "Akane, I think we should be able to take care of it. At least until the local orphanage is able to take it."
Akane was speechless at Ranma's comment. She seemed so certain that they would be able to care for the baby, that most of Akane's fears were laid to rest. She smiled. "Ok. If you think we can, then lets try it."
"So what do we call it?" Ranma asked.
"Her," Akane corrected. "I had to change her diaper earlier, and it's a girl."
"Alright then, what do we call her?"
Akane thought for a moment. She looked at the baby for inspiration. One thing she noticed above all else was the whiteness of her skin. Akane was almost jealous of the pale colour. "Yuki," she replied.
"Yuki, eh? Yeah, she was pretty lucky for us to find her like that."
"Actually, I was thinking more along the lines that her skin is as white as snow, but I like your idea better."
"Alright then." Ranma turned her head towards the sleeping girl. "Welcome to the family, Yuki."
Alrighty then, there's chapter one! I was looking up baby names for inspiration online, and came across a site that said the name Yuki means both "luck" and "snow" in Japanese. They probably have different kanji characters for each meaning, but Ranma and Akane are going to use the "luck" spelling if they ever have to write her name out.
Ranma and Akane are going to be a little out of character in this story. There's no way around it. They're 18 now, so they've matured from when they were 16 in the manga/anime. I know I was certainly different when I was 18 than when I was 16. I think I explained how things have been going well enough in the first part of the story. So please for the love of all deities that may or may not be out there DON'T REVIEW SAYING THEY ARE OOC!!!
Thanks to Koala Kitty and Ghost in the Machine for pre-reading this chapter, especially to Koala for her input on how a baby would behave. Go read their stuff! It's good!
Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoy this new story!