Author's Notes: This is my first Jubei-Chan fic. This story focuses on the Ryujoji family, Amon and 'Mama' specifically. It would help if you've seen the entire series. Does anyone else wonder how Mama ended up with her late husband Amon (Hajime, and Shiro's father?) I mean let's be honest; she's not exactly the prettiest pear in the bunch. Since Mama's first name is never mentioned, I rearranged the letters in the word Okassan, Japanese for mother. For all intent purposes Mama's name is Kasano Fukuyoka. This is my story of how they met. With that said, please enjoy the story. Also, look for Champion: Tragedy to Triumph, the next story in my Jubei-Chan series. This is intended as a one-shot. Depending on feedback, it could grow into something more.

Disclaimer: I don't own Jubei-Chan: The Ninja Girl, Secret of the Lovely Eyepatch

The Beholder

When I had first met him, I was twenty-seven, and he was thirty one. Amon Ryujoji, was a tall handsome man had captured my heart as well as my groceries. When met in an unusual way. I had just gotten out of my nurses classes late that night, and I wanted to get a bit of shopping done.  I was new to the neighborhood and not yet familiar with the layout quite yet. He accidentally bumped into me, and surprisingly he actually apologized. Most people tend to scowl at me, or frown once they see how short and squat I am.

Life is very difficult for someone like me. Normally, I don't mind being ignored, but when I'm walking around minding my own business, people have the nerve to get an attitude with me. It's not my fault that I'm short. People should learn to look down more as they are walking. Instead of pushing past me, he actually smiled and offered to help me with my groceries. I'm not used to the pleasant company of men that don't shudder when they see me. It's not as if I have a bad opinion of myself or anything, but I know that I can never be a beauty queen. 

          "I'm sorry Miss. I wasn't watching where I was going."

He said in a soft lulling voice. I decided then and there that I loved his voice. Blushing, I looked down at my feet, unable to look him in the eye. He stooped down on his knees, picking up all of the food that had tumbled out of my bags. I mumbled a meek 'thank you', and soon we had everything back in order again. He looked around suddenly, as if he were paying attention to his environment for the first time. He took my groceries from my arms, and I was grateful. The bags were heavy, and I had to tote them all the way back to my apartment.

          "You don't have to carry them, I can do it."

I said, tilting my head up to look him in the eye. Needless to say, it was very difficult, what with our extreme differences in height.  He smiled at me, and I could have melted. He either didn't notice my nervousness, or didn't care because gave me a pleasant smile.

          "I insist. I knocked you down, and since we appear to be walking in the same direction, allow me to walk you home."

          "Thank you… but you don't have to do that Mr.?"

          "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Amon Ryujoji. I am a kendo master, earning my masters in my specific technique under the Ryujoji Shinkage School. I also see that you live on Ookido Kohaku Boulevard. That's funny—I don't recall seeing you on the block."

I had never heard of the school he was talking about, but at least he was doing something with his life. So many other people our age were still under the deluded impression that our parents would take care of us. I hadn't expected to be walked home by a complete stranger. A rather handsome stranger, but I was sure he was getting a bit antsy with only me as company.

          "I er, work at the hospital as a candy striper. Well, at least until I get my masters in nursing. I'd like to have my own practice some day. Until then, I have a horrible schedule. They give us Stripes the worst timetables. One day it's getting up at two a.m., the next they want us in at nine p.m. I'm just grateful to be off tonight, and have my classes over for the day. I'm probably boring you with blabbering."

I said extremely embarrassed at my ability to prattle on and on.

          "No, keep going. You're voice is rather soothing. In fact when I had ran into you, I had just come from the pharmacy. All the training I do at my um, school is very stressful at times."

I didn't know how to respond to that so I just said nothing. Apparently, my silence must have irked him somehow because he stopped walking and looked down at me. It was in a condescending or patronizing look I was occasionally given. No, his stare was of confusion, as if he wanted to see through whatever lay beneath my eyes. I wanted to scream out, not much. Here I was, in my early twenties coming home from the store, this being the highlight of my night.

          "Is something wrong Miss…?"

He trailed off, and that was when I realized that I hadn't told him my name either. Had we become so immersed in each other's presence, that we hadn't even exchanged names? I quirked my upper lip, when I saw him smile, ever so slightly.

          "My name is Kasano Fukuyoka."

I watched him out of the corner of my eye. His smile was thoughtful and pensive as if he were trying to place my family name. I doubt he would. Though I lived in this area, I was a native of Nagano. We turned on another street, and I silently marveled at how the path from my house to the store was a straight line almost.

          "That's a very interesting name, for a very interesting woman."

I nodded feebly, not appreciative of the compliment, but confused as to where he was going with the conversation. Something told me that this guy, Amon was it? I wondered if I asked the address to his house, the answer I would get wouldn't be anything from this block. Sighing, I dug into my sweater searching for my keys. I turned around to look up at him politely. He was grinning at me like an idiot, passing me the rest of my bags. Placing them on the counter in the kitchen, I left the room momentarily. Returning quickly, I opened the screen door, to thank him properly, but he was gone, or so I thought.

Suddenly, he popped up right in front of me with that insipid grin on his face again.

          "I thank you for walking me home, and assisting me with the groceries Ryujoji-san. If there isn't anything else, I bid you goodnight."

I said preparing to close the door gently. He had been nice to me after all, and there was no sense in slamming the door in his face. Before I could close the door however, he jammed his foot in the threshold.

          "Fukuyoka-san, there was one thing…"

I held my breath afraid of what he may ask. Just because he paid attention to me, and was kind didn't mean I owed the guy my life or anything. I was a person too darn it and I would be treated with respect! He began to run his hands through his fingers, and for a brief moment, I wanted to know how his straw blonde hair felt. Was it silky and thick as it looked? Or was it fine, and straight? He shuffled his feet nervously, staring at his shoes. I cleared my throat to bring him back to the present.

          "Fukuyoka-san, I was wondering if you'd like to go with me to the Cherry Blossom festival. That is, if you don't mind."

Had this man, whom I just me ask me out? Not knowing how to respond I asked him the first thing that came out of my mouth.

          "Why?"

He looked flustered but only briefly.

          "Well, the festival is very nice and I thought you might enjoy seeing it, since you're new to the neighborhood."

          "No, I meant why are you asking me?"

I asked with a shaky voice. I hoped I didn't offend him. He shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly.

          "Why not? I like you Fukuyoka-san. Yes, I think I might like you very much. You're a very interesting person, and I'd like to get to know you better. You're smart, pretty, and cool I guess."

The answers rolled smoothly of his tongue, as if he had no contemplation over his comments. I balked at his reasons, and he must have caught it. Taking my hands into his, he smiled at me sincerely.

          "Why wouldn't I?"

He asked me. I sighed, preparing myself for the worst. I told him why I thought he was joking. I told him about the other men who had said the same thing only to end up breaking my heart over and over. I explained to him why I was surprised by his request, noting the odd stares I'd received before when I went out on dates with men. Seeing their disappointment, at being set up on blind dates with someone like me—the rejection, the anxiousness, and the overall anger. He listened patiently, but as I continued to talk his visage grew darker, until he stopped me altogether.

          "Those aren't real reasons, Fukuyoka-san. From what you were telling me earlier, I thought you were smarter than that. Don't you know?"

It was my turn to quirk an eyebrow.

          "Don't I know what?"

He squeezed my hand gently, pulling me into a gentle hug.

          "That beauty is in the eye of the beholder."

I squeezed him back, accepting the comforts of a complete stranger. I knew then that this one was a keeper.

FIN.

Footnotes: What did you think? Like it, hate it? Was it in character, or OOC? I plan on doing more one shots, devoted to Jubei-Chan. This is a first in a series that came about because of a couple of loose ends in the story. For instance, why and when did Otome Shirahatamaru liking Shiro? Why is Tenryo "Mick" Tsumara with Mikage when he likes Sachi? Anyway, things that I'd like to extend upon (Bantaro/Jiyu, and the like) in future Jubei stories. Thanks for reading, and please review.