Forgotten Affairs of the Heart
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It wasn't something Ranma had expected to see when the Guide had escorted him to the boundary of the Phoenix Lands, as the man was too afraid to continue with the chosen Warrior of Jusenkyo.
But there before him was both his worthless Father and Shampoo, standing guard at the entrance to Jusendo.
Sighing, Ranma shook his head, glad for the magical disguise field granted to him by the spirits, otherwise right now he'd have other problems with these two. "Step aside, I must deal with the taint of Jusenkyo."
"Shampoo no let stupid male stop Master from ascending."
"Right," said Genma. "He has promised me a cure, and I ain't letting you pass."
Ranma sighed once again. It figured his Father would be stupid enough to sign up for the wrong people, instead of helping the others stop this. "Then I'm just going to have to remove you from my path."
Genma smirked, not thinking that this person was even worthy of his time, before launching out in an attack.
Sighing, Ranma parried the blow, redirecting the attack towards some rocks to the side. As Shampoo lunged into the battle, the gem on his forehead began to glow, its magic seeking out the cursed energy within the two to determine why they were here. In truth, if he wanted, Ranma could have used the magic to shift them to their cursed forms, but that risked locking them, or even tearing their human minds apart, as he had had too little time to get used to such things.
But it was enough to learn about the Yamasenken and Umisenken from Genma before the old man began launching vacuum blades.
It was also enough for him to be further enraged by the Phoenix Tribe, for what they had done to Shampoo.
Flaring his aura, he stopped the two combined attacks, sending the two back into the door guarding the ground entrance to the Phoenix Mountain. Shaking his head, he held out his hands palms forward, and sadly told them the truth. "I'm sorry, but I can't stop now.
And like that, two balls of highly compressed ki flew out, striking the two, and sending them through the door, and along the ground for a good fifty meters, before they stopped, no longer of the waking world.
Sighing, Ranma removed his shirt. While he didn't want to use that attack, they had left him no choice. With any luck, the power surge in their bodies from the ki hit would restore Shampoo back to her own mind.
Finally, his shirt off, two wings grew from his back, as he flew towards the top of the mountain, thanks to the power he absorbed from the Spring of Drowned Phoenix Warrior.
Of course, to stop Saffron, Ranma had to give up his one dream.
When he absorbed the power of Jusenkyo, he became permanently contaminated. That meant he would never be able to be cured of his curse.
But to stop this guy and save the lives of everyone he knew ... he would make that sacrifice and more.
Right now, he could only hope that he would survive, to tell Nabiki how much he loved her.
Cologne sighed once again as she watched her great-granddaughter cry into Ranma's shirt, tears of loss and missed love wetting it.
It was likely it was ruining her chances of at least getting Ranma allied with the tribe. She knew if Herb found out about this, the Dragon prince would be there in a flash, and not just for asking Nodoka out on a date.
Though she doubted the Musk Prince would ask later instead of first. He seemed to have developed a deep interest in the woman, and even Cologne herself had to admit it had seriously lowered the arrogance of the Prince.
Still didn't make him any less of an asshole during their chess games on Sunday.
"Shampoo, please release Ranma."
Said girl ignored her, continuing to cry into Ranma's shirt. It had been so long since she saw him, and even longer still since her feelings for him had even started to grow.
She liked Konatsu ... as a friend. But Ranma was her first true love, someone who Mousse didn't scare away.
And after five years, the girl was holding her first love.
So much was she into the moment, she barely noticed the small dark-haired girl tugging at her dress. "Yes?" she asked, tears still falling, sniffling a bit.
"Do you know my Daddy?"
And like that, Shampoo's heart felt as if a knife had pierced it. Her beloved had a child.
Shampoo's tears took on a more heartbroken tone. "He ... he is your father?"
"Yeppers," said the small girl. "And someday, I'm gonna be a good artist like him!"
Shampoo put on the best fake smile she could, trying to keep from screaming out her hatred of the Goddesses of fate for doing this to her.
"Don't cry," said the little girl, hugging Shampoo's legs. "Everything will be okie-dokie!"
Cologne nodded. "I take it she is your daughter, Ranma?" she asked, forgoing the son-in-law title until things were at least settled as she had stated with Shampoo before their arrival.
"Yes, she is," said Nabiki, moving towards the girl and picking her up. She didn't want to think that the Amazons might kill children. But then again, Shampoo had first arrived to kill Ranma for defeating her.
"Don't fear, child," said Cologne, noticing that even Ranma was beginning to look as if he was ready to kill. "We do not harm children, and time has set other obstacles in the path of having Ranma marry my great-granddaughter."
"Such as Konatsu?" asked Ranma, eliciting a gasp from the two Amazons.
Cologne nodded in agreement, stunned that Ranma was already caught up on the pairings that now prevailed. "Yes, Shampoo and he have a date tomorrow, and my great-granddaughter may not progress forward with any relationship possibilities with you until she honestly tries and sees if any are possible with her new Airen.
"Unless of course, you wish to challenge him for her hand?"
Ranma shook his head no, knowing that Nabiki was currently not in the mood for him to have a mistress. Hell, she was already hard pressed not to be upset with how many female students literally threw themselves at him.
Of course, Kimiko didn't know of any of this, so she tried to process it as any child would.
Please do remember she did take out two Masters of Anything Goes with one hit each.
The new girl is crying, and she likes Daddy. Maybe they're friends? "Does this mean the nice lady is staying with us?"
Nabiki sighed as she held her daughter. "We'll discuss this later, Kimiko."
Cologne shook her head. Knowing her luck, that little question of Ranma's daughter would get Shampoo's hopes up. She doubted her daughter would welcome such a move, but she did remember that Shampoo was often just as affectionate with Ranma's girl form as well as guy form. I really need a vacation. Nerima is crazier than Jusenkyo during the Musk mating season.
"Ranma," said Cologne, "I ask that if we are allowed to remain for this dinner, that I might have a moment of your time to discuss some things."
He sighed. He had a pretty good idea what Cologne wanted to discuss, and he sure as hell knew it wasn't his relationship with Shampoo. "I understand, Elder. After dinner and after my children have been put to bed."
Cologne nodded, and the group reset themselves down to eat. She noticed that Shampoo hovered close to Ranma, must to Nabiki's irritation. She didn't miss the looks of anger, longing, and sadness directed towards them by Ukyo and Akane.
The boy still has them desiring him, even if he has eyes only for his wife.
The question is; which one will try and break up the marriage first.
Ranma sat on the back porch, drinking from his cup of hot cider, as Cologne smoked her pipe, Shampoo already have headed back home due to Cologne's orders, the others inside preparing for tomorrow, the fathers still out cold in the street, and Nabiki trying to convince her daughter to go to sleep.
"So," asked Cologne, "I take it you know what my questions are?"
Ranma played dumb, not wanting to tip his hand. "I'm not certain how much your intentions of me have changed. Maybe you should fill me in?"
Cologne smiled. So, Nabiki did manage to train you. "I was wondering if perhaps a while ago, you paid a visit to Saffron."
Ranma stared into the night, not trusting Cologne to not see if he was lying. "I rarely strayed from my new home when I arrived there."
Not an answer, child. "Are you the famed Warrior of Jusenkyo?" she asked bluntly.
Ranma sighed, setting down his cup. "That's a trick question and you know it. I answer yes, and my value becomes priceless to anyone who knows what that means. I say no, and you still pursue me, believing I am lying."
Cologne nodded. "Truthfully, Ranma; if you were he, then the Council has asked me to get you to ally with the tribe."
Ranma nodded. "And exactly how would that affect Shampoo's claim."
"She has to check and see if things are possible with Konatsu first. If not, that Kiss will be dissolved. If nothing is possible with you, that Kiss will be dissolved as well.
"She already has a place of honor in our tribe for introducing you to us. Whether she brings you back is of no consequence." Cologne's face took a more comical expression. "Unless of course the former Ms. Tendo would enjoy having her join you for your bedroom games?"
Ranma paled, remembering the last time Nabiki had joked about that, almost ending up with his own Mother hitting on him. "You best talk to Nabiki about that."
She smiled, enjoying the fact that no matter how much he had matured; his chain was still just as easy to yank. "Perhaps you would like to ask me some questions about the guy currently chasing your Mother's heart?"
Ranma paled further. "Okay, exactly who is the Herb?"
"Well, he came by about five months after you left. You see, he had an accident at Jusenkyo, trying to understand the female gender, and thanks to a magical artifact, locked his curse."
"Mom said the guy had a gender curse like mine," Ranma muttered. "Wait, they can be locked?" he asked; already knowing the existence of such things from when he absorbed Jusenkyo.
Luckily, none of them could affect him, as he had absorbed the promised control as well.
"Yes. We helped him find the artifact, after I delayed his journey until he learned of the ... pains ... a woman must experience once a month."
Ranma rubbed his forehead, wishing the Gods thanks that such an action didn't level most of Japan. He had heard from Jusenkyo that Dragons could be ... temperamental. "Then what?"
"Well, after the Warrior of Jusenkyo defeated Saffron, he returned, believing as we did that the Warrior would return here eventually. He met your Mother sometime after Ryoga gave her those mushrooms, she earned his respect somehow, and he began trying to woo her, even going as far as becoming pleasant to be around.
"A very peculiar match up, I must say. We now know who gave you that animal magnetism that seems to attract so much trouble."
Ranma sighed once again. Things had been so much simpler when he was alone.
Nabiki winced as Kimiko once again dodged away from receiving her night clothes. After their baths, Nabiki had spent the last ten minutes trying to get her daughter to get dressed.
But the girl was not only nude, but still wet from the kids' bath soap, which happened to make her very hard to hold onto.
Add to that her skills learned from her Father, and you had a parent's worst nightmare: a kid who could keep you from putting her to bed.
"Kimiko, don't make me get your Father!"
Pouting, the little girl stopped, walking sadly over to her Mother. "But I don't feel tired."
Taking a calming breath, Nabiki knelt down, finally getting the girl dressed. "It is still bedtime."
"Mommy, who was the sad girl?" asked Kimiko. She wasn't asking to stay up longer, she was asking because she wanted to know.
Yes, she had inherited her Father's short attention span of his youth.
"She was someone who was a good friend of your Daddy's before we moved where we live now." She wasn't trying to be vague, but she truly didn't want the others to know where they lived yet in Juuban District, afraid that the mess of before would restart.
"Why was she sad though?"
"Because she really missed your Daddy."
"Why didn't she go see him?"
Nabiki shook her head, remembering when she had bothered her own parents with endless questions, wanting to know everything about anything. "She wasn't allowed to, because she and Daddy had a fight. She's not being bad anymore," said Nabiki, hoping that Shampoo was not about to try and "remove obstacles" again.
"That's sad," Kimiko said, before yawning, as Nabiki laid the girl down on Nodoka's bed, the woman wanting them to have more free time.
Nabiki nodded. "That's why you try hard not to fight, and not let bad things drag on; because someone always gets hurt. The longer you wait, the more it hurts," she said, trying to teach that lesson to Kimiko before she found out the hard way.
Kimiko nodded, her eyes drooping, as she snuggled into the bed. "That's still sad..."
And like that, the little Saotome terror fell to sleep.
Smiling, Nabiki left, shutting off the light after checking on her son to make certain he was both still asleep, and that Nodoka had enough formula in the fridge when he woke up.
Now, if she could just find her husband, and further stake her claim to him. Hmm, wonder if he's in the mood for Shikima King and Wondering School Girl tonight?
Ranma shook his head as he looked at Akane and Ryoga in the dojo. "Really, you two need to work through this."
Ryoga sighed. They had been at this since Cologne had left half an hour ago, and Akane had yet to budge.
"He's a peeping pervert," proclaimed Akane.
"He's your husband," said Ranma. "Now you two either deal with this, or get a divorce; but you will stop acting so damn childish!"
"I am not!" growled Akane.
"Really," said Ranma. "You are holding a childish grudge for the last five years. Explain how that is not childish?"
Ryoga stayed quiet. Ranma was trying to help salvage his marriage, and he didn't want to mess that up by speaking.
Besides, Akane's hateful manner towards him had killed his former berserker protective rage for the girl.
"He dishonored me."
"And you supported his actions, even if you didn't know."
"He peeped on me."
"And by honor, you two were married."
"So," said Ranma, "would you rather hate him for the rest of your life for what he did in the past, or make a future with him, seeing as how your Father was kind enough to scream to the neighborhood why you two were married."
Akane simply looked away. "Like you could understand."
Ranma glared at her. "Oh yes, not like I've ever had a fiancée betray me. Not like I've ever had one that never trusted me, lied to her family about me, abused me... Wait, that was you," he said, causing said girl to wince. "Now grow up, Princess. Either forgive him and accept him, or do the poor guy a favor and divorce him so he can find happiness. I know of several girls in my neighborhood who would love a guy like Ryoga."
Akane blanched, trying to keep her temper in check. "I ... I'll think about it."
Ranma nodded motioning for Ryoga. "Come on, man; I'll lead you to the guest room for the night.
Akane stayed in the dojo for a while longer. She wanted to be with Ranma, but his marriage and children with Nabiki ended that.
She was upset with Ryoga for what he did to her as P-chan.
Did she want to stay married, or did she want only what she couldn't have.
She'd be there for a while.
As Ranma got into bed, he felt his wife's arms embrace him into a hug; not the full nookie-starved effect he had expected. "You okay?' she asked.
He sighed. "I was at least hoping things would go easier than this."
Nabiki nodded, before laying her head on his chest. "You ready to talk about the gem?" she asked.
Ranma paused, before nodding his head. "Yeah, you deserve to know what all this Warrior of Jusenkyo stuff is."
Nabiki nodded, as she settled into his arms, waiting to hear the tale of what happened all those years ago, and why he now had a glowing jewel on his forehead.
Oddly enough, she also felt like she was forgetting something.
On the dark street, a dog finished peeing on a sleeping panda.
Said panda was out cold, holding a grown man like a teddy bear, and sucking his paw.
Perhaps they would wake up in the morning?